Friday, June 19, 2020

Cosmic Delving

"If you can leave your flat land thinking and think of many surfaces, one over the other, extending on and on under the water as well as under the land, you begin to understand. But you can’t really comprehend immensity, can’t comprehend a pioneer job that has been going on for hundreds and hundreds of years and is still only beginning."
- Richard Sharpe Shaver

Not all subterranean spaces exist wholly in this reality. The upper regions may be near mundane, and just beyond that merely stocked with the detritus of the visitor's own unconscious, but the deeper regions, the outer regions, bleed into the cosmic. These are the places that few venture purposely, but some freak pyschonauts do, risking sanity, body, and perhaps soul, for an elusive apotheosis.

One has to be prepared, of course. The delvers rely on protocols self-published and passed around by fringe theorists and weirdos. They hunt for cryptic hints in Forteana and pulp science fiction. The details are various, but in all regimens there must be some development of the avatar, the psychic projection of self that can slip from the mundane to the other realms. The avatars are themselves archetypes from the Jungian depths, ready for the hero's journey. Is your inner self Wizard or Warrior?

For the act of slipping itself, well, there's the chemical trigger.

The underworld isn't empty. It's populated by monsters to wound and frighten the delvers, and scattered with treasures to tempt them. Both the horrors and wonders are distractions to the true adept, though more than a few have contented themselves with some bauble from dream or nightmare, and an unbelievable story to tell.

The true seeker, however, keeps going. Down, down, down. And beyond.


Dick McGee said...

Heh. This is how the under-realms works in the much-maligned 4E D&D default setting and its successor 13th Age. The deeper you go, the closer you approach primordial chaos and otherworldly madness. In 4E the crippled and half-mad god Torog drags himself endlessly through the guts of the world, hedging out the inchoate horror of the Far Realms with a trail his own deific ichor. In 13th Age the middle depths are tainted by madness-inducing poisons released in a great war between the drow and the dwarven folk. The greater deeps spawn living dungeons, each a mobile micro-ecology of monsters bent on burrowing to the surface world to spread ruin and insanity. The greatest living dungeons are even worse, swallowing whole above ground settlements and dragging them into the deeps to be digested and integrated into the dungeon itself. Lovecraft's Cthonians and Dholes would be right at home in either setting.

Anne said...

I'm digging this idea of cosmic dungeons that you enter by taking psychedelic drugs. I suppose as a premise it's not SO different from Inception-style (or Cell-style) psychic mindscapes, or a full-on dreamland, but the drugs add a certain je ne sais qua to the whole scenario.