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The Astral World (幽界), also known as the Afterlife or Netherworld, is a fundamental realm of the universe, together with the Physical World and Ideal World. It is the plane in which ethereal beings reside — the World of Spirits.[1] More precisely, the realm is home to numerous creatures of legend on its surface layers, as well as profound forces of nature near its deeper strata.

Background[]

Manga E206 Forsaken Shrine

The spreading of Holy See doctrine resulted in the forsaking of spirit shrines.

At one time, humans were able to keenly perceive and interact with astral entities, even erecting shrines in reverence of certain spirits. However, following the widespread propagation of Holy See doctrine, people began clinging to the "rigid world",[2] no longer believing in the ethereal and consequently rendered unable to perceive spirits of the Astral World.[1]

Story[]

Griffith's Incarnation Ceremony[3] causes an increasing overlap of the Physical World and Astral World,[4][5] evidenced by phenomena such as people perceiving non-group magic[6] and the appearance of the Qliphoth in a forest cave near Enoch Village.[4] Following the Great Wave of the Astral World, the merging of the Physical World and Astral World into Fantasia results in astral creatures of myth manifesting in the Physical World as living legends.[7]

Structure[]

The Astral World is multi-layered, beginning at a shallow layer, in which creatures of legend reside, and expanding downward into the depths of primordial forces.[1] Its vast extent comprises many regions, each with its own characteristic atmosphere.[4]

Shallow Layer[]

Main article: Interstice

The Interstice is a shallow layer of the Astral World where the realm intermingles with the Physical World, allowing a number of astral creatures to take form in the world of man. As a result of this close connection to the material plane, it bears a similar scenery to corporeality, deriving its shape primarily from ethereal bodies of the Physical World.[1] It is inhabitated by beings such as trolls, ogres, elves and spirits of the dead. These beings were originally inhabitants of the mental world of humans, such as dreams and fantasies.[4]

Qliphoth[]

Main article: Qliphoth

The Qliphoth is a region of darkness in the Astral World that is home to spiritual creatures with a particular Odic affinity for darkness. Such residents of this region include trolls and ogres.[4]

Divine Domain[]

Manga E0-8 Surface of Vortex

The layer of the Astral World in which the angels of the God Hand conduct sacrificial ceremonies.

As the Astral World expands downward, the landscape becomes markedly different from that of the Interstice, unimaginable in comparison. In this deep layer, there exist ethereal beings so profound and dissimilar from most others as to be considered divine. Such beings include angels, demons, and gods of polytheism.[1]

Abyss[]

Main article: Abyss

The Vortex of Souls is the surface of the Astral World's abyssal layer[8] — a swirl of collective consciousness and evil.[9] The Abyss beyond the Vortex, what some might call Hell, is the deepest known layer of the Astral World. Most entities, clad in the ethereal body called ego, are unable to traverse this deep without losing their individuality.[10]

Passages[]

Road of Elves[]

Manga E345 Road of Elves

A "road of elves" permits the perception of shallow astral strata.

A "road of elves" is any benign passage into the Astral World's superficial layers. On occasions such as a full moon night, when the presence of magic is most manifest,[11] these roads open, connecting the astral to the physical. Elfin roads allow humans to perceive shallow astral strata and are known for being the means by which children trek into spirit tree forests.[12][13]

Road of Dragons[]

A "road of dragons" is a passage linking the Astral World's deepest layers to the Physical World. An example of a dragon's road is the beherit's ability to create interdimensional spaces,[13] through which the God Hand can manifest from the depths of the Astral World.

Association with Water[]

The Astral World bears a strong association with water, serving as a metaphor for the realm's nature.

  • Griffith's descent into the abyssal layers of the Astral World is depicted as him "sinking" deeper into darkness.[14]
  • The Idea of Evil describes beherits as splashes from an eternal sea, referencing the depths of the Astral World where they originate.[8]
  • Femto likens the fate of those damned to the abyssal ocean of souls to that of a drop of water, noting that they will lose their individuality and simply dissolve into the ocean, where their soul will wander for all eternity.[9]
  • Schierke describes the Interstice analogously as the shoreline to the sea.[15]
  • According to Schierke, Flora characterized the sea as leading to the Astral World. Flora described the sea as: "Beautiful, graceful, ominous, and dreadful. A spectacle that touches everyone's heartstrings in such a way." And so, Flora reasoned that the sea must be connected to the Astral World.[16]
  • The element of "tidal wave" (or "tsunami") was creatively incorporated by Miura in the Japanese name of the Great Wave of the Astral World.
  • The Great Wave bears imagery of an aquatic surge washing through the astral bodies of all in the Physical World, causing aquatic streams to flow off the affected.[7]

Known Inhabitants[]

Manga E201 Interstice Creatures

Various creatures of legend exist within the Astral World.

References[]

  1. ^ a b c d e Berserk :: Volume 24, "Astral World"
  2. ^ Berserk :: Volume 17, "Night of Miracles"
  3. ^ Berserk :: Volume 24, "Mansion of the Spirit Tree (2)"
  4. ^ a b c d e Berserk :: Volume 25, "Qliphoth"
  5. ^ Berserk :: Volume 26, "Whore Princess of the Uterine Sea"
  6. ^ Berserk :: Volume 24, "Witch"
  7. ^ a b Berserk :: Volume 34, "Creation"
  8. ^ a b Berserk :: Volume N/A, "God of the Abyss (2)"
  9. ^ a b Berserk :: Volume 3, "Guardian Angels of Desire (6)"
  10. ^ Berserk :: Volume 24, "Magic Stone"
  11. ^ Berserk :: Volume 28, "Familiars"
  12. ^ Berserk :: Volume 24, "Desires and Memories"
  13. ^ a b Berserk :: Volume 39, "Great Gurus"
  14. ^ Berserk :: Volume 13, "God of the Abyss (1)"
  15. ^ Berserk :: Volume 24, "Elementals"
  16. ^ Berserk :: Volume 28, "Boy in the Moonlight"

Appendices[]

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