Some Bleak Cosmological Postulates

  1. The Limit of the Soul isn't because people have some undetectable, immune-to-everything soul; no such thing exists. The closest thing to a soul is the Magic spirit, which is either destroyed or, more optimistically, sent elsewhere when a Divine funeral rite is performed. People with True Faith transform their Magic spirit into one with Divine Might instead, and people sufficiently aligned with the Infernal change theirs to be Infernal.

Evidence: Might-bearing beings exist in both the Divine and Infernal Realms that claim to be the souls of former humans (saints and damned souls), and both can be freely interacted with via Hermetic Magic. Either these beings truly were once humans, in which case the Limit of the Soul is not real and the Magic spirit/ghost is all you've got, or all three of those things are merely simulacra of the once-living person, in which case we are left without evidence of a deeper soul beyond the Magic spirit.

  1. There is no God, or at least not a pre-eminent and all-powerful one.

Evidence: What counts as sin on a metaphysical level varies based on individual religious and local cultural beliefs. Angels and demons both vary their presentations and even names to suit such differences. Additionally, miracles can be compelled by sufficiently pious characters with a skill check. There are sufficiently expansive conceptual beings within the Magic Realm (in the Might 75-100+ range) that the existence of the world and humans does not actually require a central divinity willing it into existence. The Astra Planeta are even noted as broaching the boundary between Magic and Divine and potentially accessing Divine effects. These things either suggest or at least allow for the possibility that God is not the all-powerful creator of the world, but merely an extreme case of the same belief-powering-reality phenomenon that Faeries feed on. Perhaps it is simply that so many people worship the Abrahamic God, and that between them they have such vastly different concepts of what is allegedly the same Divine, that it prevents a single Faerie from playing the role, and instead it is simply a reality-bending mass of pure vitality that can be invoked to repel the other supernatural Realms and create miracles, or else it was a Faerie who got so much worship it transcended its Realm.

Counter-Evidence: Several places from early Biblical stories canonically exist in Ars. It's not like there's no other way to explain why humans and snakes are barred from the otherwise-accessible and very existing Garden of Eden, but it sure does suggest a God being around before there were a lot of people to worship said God. (Although, counter-counter, it's really weird if capital-G God's absolute on-high invocation of banishment for the original sin of man- and snakekind can be bypassed by shape-shifters. Almost feels more like an autonomous defense system designed to purge any beings that consume the fruit, rather than an all-knowing and all-powerful being delivering a holy punishment for partaking in the Garden's bounty.)

Alternatively...

  1. There is no Divine Realm at all. It's all an Infernal scam.

Evidence: Infernal power can feed any information it wants to other Realms' information-gathering magic. This places immediate doubt on the veracity of the one Realm claiming to be an exception to that rule, and on the reliability of any rules we think we know about the made-of-deception Realm. Aside from just conspiratorial factors making it possible, the main actual evidence is behavioral overlap. The moldability of the Divine and Infernal across religions and cultures necessarily renders them hypocritical, punishing people in one place for actions they are rewarded for in another. The religious institutions representing the Divine and the royalty who have its favor are the purveyors of much of the largest-scale sin in the land, yet continue to receive supernatural blessing in spite of that. This may also explain the rampant sinful personality traits among statted angels.

Counter-evidence: seems like "angels" and demons would use tricks from each other's books more often if they could, like demons refusing summons or angels perfectly hiding information. Also requires disregarding the entirety of RoP:I's breakdown on demon methodology, independence, and psychological weaknesses, given the immense scope of cooperation maintaining this charade would require, even with a relative inability to examine them on anything but their terms.

Idk why I decided to do this, just seemed like fun I suppose. Pick these apart or propose your own at your leisure.

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You have overlooked a key piece of evidence here:

The shadow of life renewed: If there was only a magical spirit then this spell ought to work perfectly at least in those cases where the spirit of the deceased has not been sent wherever the spirits of those who go to the divine/infernal go.

The way this spell works, and they way magical spirits/ghosts work suggests that they are lacking something which they had when they were alive. Most notably something which confers the ability to change upon them.

I've always liked the idea that God is just a hyped up fairy entity, with belief at such a high level, it can affect enough things such that the divine aura, and the infernal aura to meet the fairy desire for drama, is created.

That assessment means the existence of other gods, such as Zeus, Apollo, Odin, etc,is not a contradiction.

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I have used a variety of cosmologies for the Divine in my games, ranging from there is no God and the divine is all human projection to the divine being hyped up faeries to the divine being a convoluted and monstrous plot to control humans. Not once have my players actually realized a difference between any of these cosmological postulates.

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Magic things can change when bonded with a human, though. The most obvious example of this is familiars, but RoP:M extends that philosophy to other kinds of bonds between Magic beings and humans. If we conceptualize the bond between spirit and body as a familiar-like bond, it would fully explain why the spirit can learn as the human does and loses that capacity when the body dies, all without causing Warping or needing to Penetrate or any other such difficulties.

As for Shadow of Life Renewed, that spell doesn't necessarily invoke the original spirit at all, does it? Serf's Parma on that though.

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I get what you are getting at but it seems unclear to me what the distinction between "spirit" and "human" is in your argument.

You argue that the spirit cannot learn after death because the human is no longer there. But it seems to me that the "human" that is missing is just the body, assuming that the soul does not exist.

So what then is it that learns? does the body have a consciousness capable of learning? If yes, then what is the spirit?
It seems to me that if the body is the human consciousness and all, then spirit is simply the soul by another name.

IIRC then the Shadow of life renewed works by calling the spirit back to a dead person but fails to truly resurrect the dead because the spirit is not enough - there is also the need for a soul. However I cannot remember where I got this from, it is certainly not the description of the spell, but it may come from some splatbook or another.

Either way this spell and the combination of spells that make it possible to summon the spirit of a dead person and to make the spirit possess the body they had when alive, call into question the thesis that a living person is just the spirit and the body together. If that were the case then binding a ghost to their body should produce true resurrection.

EDIT: I should mention at this point: I find the postulates to be extremely interesting and I am simply happy to debate the implications of them. I dont mean to come across as a naysayer, rahter as someone interested in exploring the idea.

My postulate was that the Magic spirit is the closest thing in Ars to a soul, yeah. The standard Ars assumption is that there's some divine spark within humans that goes to Heaven or Hell or whatnot, and that this thing just can't be detected or affected by Hermetic magic (the Limit of the Soul). This is used to argue things like that the magus' true soul goes to Heaven or Hell immediately when they become a being with Magic or Faerie Might through various initiations, among other cosmological points. There are obvious metaphysical implications to the fact that Abrhamic funeral rites destroy the Magic spirit if nothing else survives you when you die, and even without that, the possibility that human souls aren't a Divine thing but rather a Magic one leaves open a lot of possibilities for the origin of Ars Magica's world that don't invoke God.

2 is officially canon in one of my sagas. One of the player Maga in that game completed a breakthrough that revealed flaws in the hermetic theory of the Realms, proving that there are not a simple four- but rather, ten.

These additional realms are Liminal realms that are the overlapping supernatural edges of the other realms, such as being Magic-Infernal or Divine-Faerie.

She identified the Dominion as the Faerie-Divine Liminal Realm (and renamed the Divine Realm the Empyreal Realm). Her current theories are that the Dominion completed the same kind of paradigm shift that the Faerie gods of old did, and broke the world to retroactively establish itself as the supreme creator of reality. This has bent the wheel of the cosmos into a somewhat distorted shape.

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I had never thought about it like that, but yeah it really does seem like the Abrahamic funerary rites destroy the magic spirit. Assuming that the magic spirit and the soul are one and the same that leads us to the conclusion that the rites destroy the soul itself.

That Abrahamic funerary rites destroy the soul rather than move it is also a somewhat bleak sub-postulate in its own right.

I think I agree but I am not 100% sure that I understand. Is it possible that you are willing to elaborate on this? I am very interested in those possibilities but cannot quite imagine it.

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Hermetic magic may not be able to affect or contact the spirit or soul of someone who has been buried with proper Abrahamic funerary rites, but there are other traditions which can.
Caananite Necromancy can affect all spirits of the dead that haven't moved on into Heaven. (Entering Heaven does not happen automatically just because you have been buried properly.)
Divine Methods and Powers can also raise the dead fully.

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More or less my POV, but there's never been a reason to seriously explore the idea IOS.

Makes me wonder if the 'flaw' in Hermetic Magic was deliberate on Bonisagus' part to keep Tytalus/Tremere/Gouarna(sp?) in check; one worry of the founders would have to be subsequent generations simply summoning their ghosts, and this is a very easy out for a Hermetic magus, just get a Christian burial.

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It's possible, it's also possible that it is a flaw born of his religious perspective- necromancy is a big no no in Abrahamic religions (El Ohim can be translated as god of ancestors or god of ghosts in Caananite), where other religions of the time (late classical/early middle ages) had no problem with going to the spirits of one's ancestors for help with a problem, so the difference in perspective may have simply been transferred to the theory. An interesting historical question is whether Diedne had a way around the limitation.

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