Many of you have already heard versions of the story as to how I came up with the spiritual setting in the Mendaihu Universe–short version, I was inspired by my own attempts at spiritual enlightenment in the mid- to late-90s, specifically when I started focusing on New Age philosophies. Some of these ideas raised the question as to where souls came from, such as other realities or other planets. I not only found this an interesting twist on spiritualism, but I felt this would be an interesting idea for the basis of a belief system in a novel or a series. That was sometime around 1996-1997, and it evolved over the years between writing the original story The Phoenix Effect (more on that book in a future post) and the finished product. Most of the connections to the original inspiration have gone away, though the general idea remains:
What if the souls of Earth humans really did come from elsewhere?
Which led to many related questions: What is the connection to Earth? Why did these souls choose this planet out of any of the habitable ones in the universe? What is the physical relationship between Earth and this “homeworld” planet? How would it relate to physical, tactile, logical reality?
And lastly, what would happen when we re-established contact with that homeworld?
It took me a good number of years and novel drafts to figure that out.
In the timeline for A Division of Souls, we’ve already been in contact with the Meraladhza for at least three centuries. First Contact took place in somewhat mundane situations, via long distance communication only. It took nearly a full century before these very humanlike aliens worked with us to facilitate a First Landing. By that time, a few things took place: firstly, the human race on Earth had time to come to terms with The Other Being Out There in the Cosmos to some extent. The cold and true fact that there really are others out there, not to mention that we’d been given proof that we really are all but an infinitely small percentage of all life in the universe, had humbled us deeply. Secondly, these human aliens were just like us in almost every way except for when it came to the inner Self–their inherent spiritualism taught us new ways to overcome (or at least assuage) our Fears of the Other. This was another surprising point in history, considering our own haunted pasts; to put it bluntly, we’d finally had a grown-up put us in our place. [This isn’t to say we finally got rid of wars and extremism and what have you; it’s more that we gradually learned to better chose our fights, and fight them for smarter reasons, with less destruction and fallout.]
The third and the most important point is that, sometime about twenty to thirty years after the First Contact, the Meraladhza explained just who they were: our distant ancestors. [Part of the delayed revelation was rightly and understandably to soften the blow.] There was, of course, a lot of argument and theorizing here: how could the Meraladzha, even when they were so biologically, physically and mentally just the same as us, be our ancestors when we’ve had centuries of Darwinian evolutionary theory to (sort of) prove our own existence? The answer was twofold: physical and spiritual evolution. Physical: the Meraladhza “seeded” our planet quite far back in our history–itself full of holes due to the ravages of time and erosion of known histories–far enough that we had no knowledge nor proof or idea of it. [Yes, that’s a bit vague, but it’s worth focusing on in a later post.] Spiritual: the Meraladhza also instilled a spiritual presence, the human soul, here on the planet. To the Meraladhza, they felt it more important that we be cognizant of our spirit, even if it was the simple “who am I?” question. The remaining seventy or so years before First Landing were spent with alien and human in constant communication, learning about each other like long-separated siblings finally reunited. By the time they arrived, we were all more or less back on the same page.
In the Mendaihu Universe, this spiritualism is one of the strongest traits for both the Meraladhza and the Earth human. By ‘spiritualism’ I mean a deep understanding and reverence for the soul within; it is a Zen of sorts, a highly dedicated and conscious understanding of who we are and our effect on others. Over the years since First Contact and especially after First Landing, many were willingly ‘awakened’ to our ancient Meraladian memories, and with such awakenings came heightening of the senses. To our vision came Veilsight, the ability to view spiritual activity on a heightened level; to our hearing came innerspeak, the ability to hear and subvocalize communication; to our sense of touch came soulsensing, the ability to reach out and “touch” other spirits with our own. Some come into this heightened awareness on their own; others need training and/or awakening ritual; it is a highly regulated and monitored process. Regardless, over the past three centuries it has become an accepted and well-regarded state of being.
More to come:
–On Spiritualism: Mendaihu, Shenaihu, and cho-nyhndah
–On Spiritualism: Levels of belief and practice
–On Spiritualism: the Goddess, the One of All Sacred, and other deities