The Celestial Spheres: Celestial Gardens
All spirits pass through the Celestial Gardens, which are just beyond the Veil of Dreams. Here in the seven gardens of emotion, Fate rules supreme.
Upon death, every spirit from the Known World travels to one of the seven gardens: the Courtyard of Fate; the Orchard of Knowledge, Reason, and Madness; The Floral Garden of Vigilance, Paranoia, and Sloth; The Fungal Garden of Charity, Gluttony, and Greed; the Herbal Garden of Fate, Revenge, and Trust; the Tropical Gardens of Lust, Adoration, and Revulsion; or the Frost Gardens of Joy, Pain and Sorrow. To which garden a soul travels depends upon its actions and feelings in life. Some spirits simply pass through these gardens on their way elsewhere, while some linger.
Fate wanders the seven gardens on occasion, sending souls to their proper destinations. Fate’s minions, the Grapplers, also gather souls and bring them to the Courtyard of Fate for judgment. Gods may wander the gardens as well.
These gardens are very familiar to me. I have experienced each and every one.
The Courtyard of Fate
The Courtyard of Fate is a solemn place, filled with muted sounds and slow, graceful actions. Rounded rectangular stones in gray tones line the walkways, which lead in a circular maze to the main courtyard. Flowers, trees, birds, and other small animals fill the landscape under a sunset sky. Here Fate resides in a golden chair at the center of a mottled gray pavilion. Benches made of stone and marble are evenly distributed around the courtyard. The gathered souls wait on these benches and upon the grounds, along with the gods who meet here. The Courtyard Garden is the center of all activity in the Celestial Spheres.
Often the spirits of the young who never reached maturity come directly to the Courtyard of Fate.
The Orchard of Knowledge, Reason, and Madness
The orchard is a place of entry into the Celestial Realms for those who, in life, possessed astute reasoning skills or much knowledge. Each fruit in this garden is filled with wisdom and knowledge of different kinds. Tales say that the gods come here to think and plan, eating fruit from these trees. Souls that acquired much knowledge in life come to the orchard in death. They may remain for a time, losing their hard-won secrets to the trees and plants of this garden. Eventually these spirits move on to the Courtyard of Fate.
On rare occasions, gods come to the orchard to take souls to their realm to serve in their heavens or hells. Many sylph souls come here before going to the Well of Souls, if they did not serve their god fully. The orchard is the Orchard of Madness as well as of knowledge and reason, for those who are on the brink of genius easily slide into dementia and other forms of mental derangement.
The Floral Garden of Vigilance, Paranoia, and Sloth
In the Floral Gardens, heightened or deprived states of awareness are prevalent; the paranoid soul and the lethargic spirit walk hand-in-hand here. The flowers reflect the moods of the spirits and affect everything, including gods. For a change in mind, gods simply walk here to refresh themselves among the enchanted petals and trumpets.
The Fungal Garden of Charity, Gluttony, and Greed
Spirits whose lives revolve around giving and taking come to the Fungal Garden. Ambitious, greedy, and gluttonous spirits walk here, taking advantage of charitable spirits. These spirits exchange ghostly objects, and the echoes of money clink in the mushroom alleyways. Moss-covered tents form a market area that spans the whole garden, housing money lenders and charitable souls. It is a darkly-lit parade of fools in a bartering merry–go-round that never ends, interrupted only by the occasional god, Grappler, or Fate.
The Herbal Garden of Hate, Revenge, and Trust
Hate-filled souls wander through the Herbal Garden’s intoxicating scents. Here spirits who have life-long devotions and feelings of mistrust skulk in shadows, filled with hatred and loathing. Those who have been wrongfully murdered, if they do not stay in the Known World, sometimes come here to seethe in anger. Also in this garden are trusting souls, willing to take anyone’s advice and trusting every word. These spirits are gullible and make for great servants of gods. Deities frequent this garden, avoiding the hateful and picking out the most faithful souls as companions.
The Tropical Garden of Adoration, Lust, and Revulsion
In the Tropical Garden, all sorts of physical urges are fulfilled. Passionate people, romantics, and others who adored or lusted after a person, thing, or idea come here to fulfill their dreams before moving on to the Well of Souls. Even the gods may be found cavorting in this Celestial Eden with other spirits. Those who have found true love in objects or people here to relive their commitments. Also here are souls sick to their cores filled with revulsion, living out their nightmares in what could be a paradise.
The Frost Gardens of Joy, Pain, and Sorrow
Snow-covered pine trees shelter the holly bushes and evergreen bushes in the Frost Gardens. Spirits who wander here create deafening noises, some filled with pain, others with sorrow, and a few with joy at being released from live of misery. Many nymph souls make their way here to sing with the other ghosts. The spiritual noises resonate throughout the garden to create a symphony of sorrow and joy.
May you the reader find your path through the Celestial Gardens.
The Celestial Spheres: The Four Seasons of Heaven
Past the Celestial Gardens are four spheres circling the Known World: the Four Seasons of Heaven. Only the gods and their chosen souls know of the Celestial Spheres. No mortal being has ever set foot into these realms. Mortals cannot look up to the heavens and see the Spheres; they exist in a different space and time, and only a spirit may travel to them. The four seasons stretch through eternity, representing each of life’s cycles on the mortal world: birth, maturity, decay, and death. The Celestial Spheres are places of wondrous magic and awe. Here the gods rule supreme—apart from Fate.
Each season has a name and unique aspects. Everwinter is the home of snow-capped valleys, large glacial rivers, destruction, and death. Eternal Spring is a meadow pasture dotted with evergreen forests, with birth and the powers of creation magnified. Endless Summer has rolling plains and sunny hills and holds powers of maturity and control. Perpetual Autumn is filled with colorful forests, winding rivers, and the powers of decay and transformation.
The creations of the elder gods inundate these seasons. Nearly all the elder gods have realms that span all Four Celestial Spheres. The undine gods hold sway in the eternal ocean known as Ansyllar, with Celundynn controlling the shallow waters while her estranged husband Plthunlos holds fast to the deep. The endless deserts of Jaa-naareth are home to the nine dragon gods of the salamanders, each fighting in heaven as they do on earth: for land and recreation. Rhok-Etheril is the heavenly mountain range of the gnome god, Gnorr, and his fellow gods. The sylphs, once a thriving race, are now diminished, and so is their deity’s territory. Lugos’s realm, Arablis, is found only in the Celestial Sphere of Perpetual Autumn.
Everwinter is a heavenly sphere filled with unearthly sights and sounds reminiscent of the coldest season in the mortal year. Gods who make their homes in this realm have a harsh environment to control—an environment filled with frozen lakes, snow-covered hills, and icy forests. Few spirits roam these heavenly lands, as only god-chosen spirits can enter. Massive earthquakes occur often. Volcanoes erupt along the enormous white-capped mountain area of Rhok-Etheril. Snow blankets the desert regions of Jaa-naareth here, making for an endless plain of white. Ice fills the ocean waters of the eternal seas of Ansyllar.
Every elder god aside from Lugos has a domain in Everwinter. Thuun, Lord of Destruction and the Jurelian giants, has a large castle made of ice that stretches far into the sky. It is close to the Celestial Gardens. Other domains close to the Gardens are versions of heaven similar to Thunn’s Castle. Most godly homes are made of ice in various forms. Some gods of abstract concepts live in the blizzard storms far from the Gardens, near the Abyss.
New life perpetually comes forth from the ground here. In Eternal Spring, gods create many beasts and beings to the whim of fancies. However, only the gods have any true substance; the only other creatures that can exist in Eternal Spring are those that came into being here.
Rhok-Etheril has a small presence in Eternal Spring, with small mountain peaks and shallow green valleys. Jaa-naareth also has a small desert patch here, with a few rocky hills teeming with life and blooming desert flowers. The heavenly seas are bountiful, with many beaches and reefs.
The sunny estates of Eternal Spring hold many idyllic homes for the gods both near and far from the Celestial Gardens. Close to the Gardens, many gods have hillside abodes made of complex organic shapes with strange creatures floating to and fro. Further from the Gardens, most gods live in simple organic elements such as trees or large fields of grass.
A forest section near the Gardens is home to the dead spirits of the wood nymphs. Since no gods dwell here except for themselves, the wood nymphs hold the place by sheer numbers of spirits. This woodland is the wood nymphs’ final home. Since wood nymph birth rates are low, their spirits do not crowd the heavenly forest. Fate asks some of the oldest spirits to return to the Well of Souls, but does so only if such a return is absolutely necessary. Only Fate knows the precise number of wood nymph spirits that may remain in this spiritual home. Wood nymph spirits that do not make it here are often left in the material world, lost to their kind.
Sunlit fields filled with thriving beasts and mature trees cover the landscape of Endless Summer. Everything created here is full of life, wild and ready to be tamed. Gods of Endless Summer usually control the creatures and force them to carry out their will, rather than create new servants.
A huge section of this Celestial Sphere is filled with the desert region of Jaa-naareth, home to the dragon gods. Celundynn and Plthunlos even share their waters of Ansyllar with the dragon goddess Draax; her domain within the ocean appears in boiling waters, heat vents, and lava-covered volcanic islands. The mountains of Rhok-Etheril cross the mountains of the desert region of Jaa-naareth. Even here in the heavens the elder gods are at war, for the dragon gods stage mock battles at regular intervals in honor of their mortals’ struggles on the Known World.
The gods’ territories in Endless Summer are made of stone and earth. Close to the Gardens, gods make large cities and towers that reach the sky. The dragon gods have many such towers, which they make exclusively to fit their large bulks. Near the outskirts of the Celestial Sphere are ethereal structures made of sounds and light.
Perpetual Autumn hosts a landscape of colorful, decaying trees, ripe fields ready for harvest, and large funguses growing on mountainsides. In this realm of decay, gods prefer to transform the lands around them, making for a certain geographical discord: A grove of spring flowers may appear in the midst of a forest of ripe grain. Each place here is unique, as every god has her handprint in this sphere’s scheme.
A deep part of the heavenly ocean of Ansyllar is here, where Plthunlos is stronger than Celundynn. Only a small patch of the desert region of Jaa-naareth runs through this sphere. The gnome kingdom of Rhok-Etheril in Perpetual Autumn is a large tract of mountains covered with deciduous forests. Intersecting this realm are the sylph mountains of Arablis, where the sylph god Lugos holds court. The mountains of Arablis are composed entirely of paper and scrolls; myths say that every bit of knowledge in the Known World is recorded here, on the mountainsides and valleys.
In this Celestial Sphere of decay, gods have wild and fanciful homes made from every conceivable material. As with the other Celestial Spheres, gods close to the Celestial Gardens have homes made of substance, while territories far from the Gardens are made from strange concepts and unearthly ideas.
The lands of the Celestial Spheres resonate through each and every living being, for they are home.