Realms of Existance

In magical cosmology, there are three generally recognized worlds: the Underworld, the Middle World, and the Astral World; a fourth upper world: the home of the Divine; the four elemental realms; and the realm of the Ancestors (seen as separate from the Underworld). It is believed that all of these realms, with the exception of the Divine and Ancestors, can be directly accessed.

I’ll start with the world that we have the most direct access to–The Middle World, or Realm of Experience. This world is where we live our everyday lives, assuming we don’t constantly have our heads in the clouds or have a mental disorder. Here we deal with the Id, the part of our psyche that works to fulfil our basic needs, like food and love. It is basic, mundane Earth. However, from here we interact with and are influenced by the other realms that we have touched. Ever feel a bit airy in your day to day life after dealing with air spirits? That’s because the realm of Air, and the other elements, directly touch the Realm of Experience. This realm also corresponds to Midgardr or Abred.

The Realm of Earth is on the same plane as the Realm of Experience, and tenuously connected to it. It is here that our sense of touch is manifested, and where we can go to work on our psychic powers. This realm often appears as either a forest grove or a stone circle.

Next, on this plane is the Realm of Air, which houses the sense of smell, the intellect as well as our memories and our ability to communicate. This is the place to visit to work on any problems in these areas. Air often appears as a library, with the books holding our memories. It can also be a high, rocky outcropping, buffeted by winds.

The third realm on this plane is the Realm of Fire, where we find our sense of sight, as well as creation and destruction personified. This realm appears as a giant smithy, with items being forged and destroyed.

The final realm on this plane is the Realm of Water. Here is the home of our sense of hearing, and of emotion. It is easy to imagine the sound of waves hitting a shore, and this realm is often seen as a lake, river, or beach with an endless ocean.

Moving downward, we come to the Realm of the Underworld. This is a place that usually has a bad reputation, mostly because it is the home to our fears and to the negative aspects of our selves. It is where you will find your Personal Unconscious and your Shadow Self, and the place you need to go to do Shadow Work. Ultimately, it is best to explore the Underworld with the help of a psychopompos such as Hermes or Anubis. You might also meet the Dark Goddess on your visits here, as this is Her home.

Below the Realm of the Underworld is the Realm of the Ancestors, where Jung’s Collective Unconscious resides. It is the home of the archetypes we encounter in our lives, or access through the Tarot or other divination methods. It is comparable to the realm of Tartarus, in the earlier sense of this realm as a place where important Greek characters reside, from which heroes can access them for guidance.

Moving back upward, past the elemental realms and the Realm of Experience, we reach the Astral Realm. This is the home of our Ego, what it is that distinguishes us from others and the world around us. This makes experiences in the Astral Realm rather subjective, since we are dealing with things beyond the Id and the “real world”. How I see the Astral will be influenced by my inner self, as will your version of the Astral be influenced by the inner you. Of course, there are some similarities, in that for all of us the Astral touches the Realm of the Divine, and in that is uses personalized symbols and entities to communicate to us. This realm can be compared to Ljossalfheimr or Gwynfyd, and it is also the place where one’s guardian spirit, Holy Guardian Angel, or the like resides.

The upper most realm is the Realm of the Divine. It is here that our Super-conscious exists, and can be considered the Higher Astral Realm. This is the home of the unknowable divine forces, which have no form in the human mind until they descend into the lower realms. (For example, Earth Goddesses are easier to relate to when they come to you via the Earth Realm.) The Realm of the Divine can also be considered heaven by some faiths, or the place we go to when we finish our incarnations are (re)unite with the One.

Whether or not you believe these are real realms that actually exist, or whether you believe they are metaphors and tools to help us organize our experiences is really up to you. My personal opinion falls somewhere in between. I mostly believe that these realms exist as a way to classify experiences and correspondences (for example: trees, gnomes, and grass are natives of the Realm of Earth, but I don’t think a place consisting of nothing but forests and meadows physically exists somewhere). I do, however, believe that the Realm of the Divine is some place that truly exists, somewhere beyond what is knowable to humans.