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Symbolic rebirth, need ideas.

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Anders Ämting, Mar 12, 2013.

  1. So, my main character goes through a kind of symbolic spiritual death - travelling into a void of darkness that strips her of her senses, identity and memories. After that she wakes up in a limbo realm where she undergoes several tests and grows stronger in spirit.

    The final test is to find her way out and return to the real world. I was thinking this would occur through a kind of spiritual rebirth - since she had to "die" to get there, she must be "reborn" to leave. Trouble is, I'm not sure how to write that. All I know is that it should involve water somehow.

    So, yeah, could use some suggestions.
    Ayaka Di'rutia likes this.
  2. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    Maybe she has to descend into a sealed place full of water and escape through a crack or hole far below? That would evoke imagery of a womb.
    Anders Ämting likes this.
  3. Ayaka Di'rutia

    Ayaka Di'rutia Troubadour

    What is the context of this story? What are her environments like? What are her personal beliefs and past experiences? What kind of people does she meet? Does much of the story have to do with water? Having water symbolic throughout can help.

    This is a similar topic to what I've written about with one of my protagonists, who went through a sort of "rebirth" process; she was influenced heavily by those she loved, her beliefs, and her gods. She fell into a sort of madness and then became redeemed through hard work and trials.
  4. Jamber

    Jamber Sage

    That moment in a cave chase sequence when the tunnel ends underwater, so the MC has to dive down and keep swimming looking for the way out (which may not be there)?
  5. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    I agree with the water imagery people have come up with so far. Bonus points if she emerges from the water at the break of dawn.
  6. Rob P

    Rob P Minstrel

    I have only one question to ask or actually two. Will her phyisical appearance remain as it once did and does her society believe in this form of reincarnation?

    It sounds like a transformation of some kind has taken place, either spiritual or physical or both. I like the idea of water but if the rebirth is spirtual only then it could mean her spirit becomes tangible in essence, seen and experienced and that the recombining with her body is viceral. Her spirit is at one with the whole ocean until she feels the tug of her body pulling until her spirit emerges in plain view, given substance, possibly energy until it enters the physical body.

    A process given ritual and seen by all.

    Just an idea.
  7. Filk

    Filk Troubadour

    I like Ireth's idea - wells were considered wombs of the earth, that is, wombs of mother nature in I believe Irish tradition, but that may be wrong. Water symbolizes life because it is necessary to life. Water, especially deep and dark water, also symbolizes the unconscious. Joseph Campbell says the heroes of myth go to an area of unconsciousness where they are free from their earthly trappings and emotions. If you haven't read A Hero with a Thousand Faces then I would suggest you pick it up. Your story sounds like it fits the paradigm quite well. There is a chapter in the book specifically about the return from acquiring the boon that the quest is all about. It sounds like that is where you are at. Good luck.
    Ireth likes this.
  8. Basically, my character has a magical affliction that makes her fly into berserker rages and risks killing her. To cure it she has to undergo a kind of spiritual trial to awaken/rebalance her powers. This trial hasn't been used much in modern times since it is dangerous and usually not necessary to awaken ones abilities, but my MC is a special case.

    The real world is very similar to modern Earth. The spirit realm resembles a natural landscape dotted by castle ruins and otherwise untouched by human influence. (This is just how her human mind sees it, though. Since it is a place beyond the physical world, it's impossible for her to percieve what it looks like other than via metaphores.)

    Prior to all this she was just a mostly normal teenager. A bit insecure, a bit geeky, liked reading fantasy books, etc.

    Mostly symbolical aspecs of her own psyche. The spirit realm doens't have any actual inhabitants. (Or if it does, they're probably way beyond human comprehension.)

    Not really. It's just that there happened to be a slight elemental theme to her trials. (Almost by accident.) She's already cleared earth, air and fire, so ending it with water seemed natural.

    Also, the entrance to the spirit realm is this underground lake, which is also the direct source of all her powers. I thought it would be fitting if she somehow emerged from the lake.

    Her appearance remains unchanged, and she doesn't literally die and come reborn. It's an entirely spiritual thing.

    It was a somehwat common practice in the middle ages as a way of knights to prove the strenght of their souls, but has fallen out of use since. I wouldn't quite call it a religious thing, though. Their religion is based on Catholicism so reincarnation isn't really a thing for them. It's really closer to a Christ-like resurrection. Returning from the Valley of the Shadow of Death, so to speak.

    Kinda, though the rebirth thing doesn't strictly have anything to do with that. Passing the tests in the spirit realm fixes her problems, but she's still trapped there. That place is basically the wellspring of reality, and the source of the energy that gives the physical world its form. Thus, the only way to escape it is to be "born" into the world, because it's the place where life comes from in the first place.

    Sorry, I didn't really follow that. ^^;

    Yeah, this book pretty much follows the heroes journey exactly, which is totally deliberate on my part.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013
  9. Just letting you guys know, I'm still stuck on this. By all means, keep throwing ideas at me.
  10. FatCat

    FatCat Maester

    Maybe she could be on a boat traveling downriver. Meanwhile people she knew from her past, family, friends, ect... travel with her at different times. Not sure how long you're trying to have this be, or your theme but I just thought I'd throw it out there :).

    Oh, and the end has to be going over a waterfall, just saying.

    Edit: Just clarifying that she'd be meeting these people stripped of personality and memory, so basically meeting them for the first time.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2013
  11. Lock

    Lock Dreamer

    Though I am not positive what you are looking for, I'll take a stab at it: the rebirth occurs gradually, not suddenly like is sometimes the case, but slowly, dramatically, as she rises from the watery depths. She is surfacing in a lake with inverted pressure, so when she is in the deepness/void she feels no pressure but when she is swimming upwards towards her rebirth her ears are popping and the pressure is painful. This pressure could also be causing bits of her
    to start bubbling into and around her, slowly increasing in frequency until it becomes a jet, a jet that starts out described solely as the metaphysical pressure to be reborn but slowly you could begin to describe it more and more physically as she reenters her reality.

    After she is able to perceive herself and the things around her during her ascension she could start noticing bits (bubbles) of pertinent memories and sensations slowly coalescing into her, experiencing them as though for the first time but bearing a warm familiarity that she cannot yet understand. At first they come slow and are pleasant memories from her childhood, then she starts re-experiencing worse and worse things till she gets to her most awful repressed timeless horrors (though she doesn't know fear yet, she feels raw pain). Her coming back to herself (jet of bubbles) starts out slow then develop to a blur of confusion equating the bliss/horror of first-birth. She reaches the surface then swallows some water and is extremely cold, the fear of drowning completing her return from the void.

    To make it more challenging to ascend there could also be a time limit for how long the lake/well is open, being holes in giant shelves of darkness momentarily aligned presenting only a brief opportunity to ascend (the giant shelves being rotating disks with one or a few little holes in them). So she has to do this fast. Also, at one point she could be tempted to return back down and has to force herself to think about how this is her only chance.

    A question perhaps worth considering is whether or not she is going to remember what happened in the void even though she did not recognize herself as herself there. Perhaps it will feel like a dream.

    She could also have to collect relevant items on her way up like a weapon that can conveniently confirm for her that what had happened in the void wasn't a dream.

    There is a lot more to consider in this scenario but I hope some of these bubbles help.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2013
  12. Nah, she actually has all her mental faculties when she wakes up, or at least regains them fairly quickly along the way. Losing them was really more a part of the transition, and a way to "reboot" herself spiritually. If anything, it will have made her think more clearly.

    She actually needs her personality and memories intact to pass the trials because otherwise she can't figure out what any of it means.

    That's all good and well, but how does she end up in the lake in the first place? And how is that part of her spirit trial?

    Like I said, probably the opposite. A curious effect of magic is that magical stuff seems more real to magical people, while normal people have serious trouble percieving it in the first place.

    That said, notions like "dream" and "not dream" doesn't really have any relevance in the place she goes, since it's basically made up of metaphors from her own mind anyway.

    Oh, she returns with her powers unlocked, specifically her awesome magical soul-armor. So that part is
  13. Kahle

    Kahle Minstrel

    If this is to cure her berserker rage, why not have her thrust into a pool of water that seems to drag her down more like quicksand. This panic and fear could trigger the rage, and despite all of her efforts, she cannot break free of the water and reach the surface, and so her rage has no power. Maybe she drowns, maybe its is when she should have drowned that she notices the rage left of its own accord. When she awakens, that pool of water could be her safety. When the rage takes over, she can mentally retreat into a state of fluidness, where she sub/consciously knows the rage cannot take control. That pool is what lets her master the berserker inside.
  14. The berserker rage thing is just a side-effect, mostly caused by the fact that her soul-armor is powered by strong emotions. The real issue is that her magical power starts to destroy her body from within whenever it happens. It's not just anger either, virtually any passionate emotion causes her to black out. It's less of a "I can't control my anger" problem and more of a "If I don't stay very calm I am seriously going to die" problem

    That part is already fixed, anyway. She already has her powers under control - what she needs is to find the way out, or she will be trapped in a limbo dimension forever.

    Maybe I should be more precise. Here is what I have: She is riding on a unicorn away from a tower where she just passed the main trial. She is now completely in control of her powers, basically. Since the realm she is in doesn't have any actual directions, she asks the unicorn to take her home. And... that's all I have, I'm not sure how to proceed.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2013
  15. Okay, so I think I know how I want this to work out now. Thanks for everyone who took the time trying to help, it's always appreciated.
  16. Zak9

    Zak9 Scribe

    Being washed onto a beach can always be magical and trance-like.

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