Spirits are beings of pure aether—the universe’s spiritual energy that permeates all things. In a sense they are all different aspects of the same entity cut from the same spectral cloth, as we are carbon-based life recycled into one another. Spirits evolve as living things do and can be heavily influenced by their environment. However, unlike biological creatures, a spirit’s growth is most affected by the harmonizing radiant energy of souls. Such energy is released through strong emotions such as prayers or terror.
Due to aether’s omnipresence and transmutative properties, there is almost no limit to what concept a spirit can represent.
The basic form of a spirit materializes as an orb of light known as a wisp, much like a mortal soul appears for those who can see them. These spirits are the larval or fetal stages of much greater beings, but can be quite powerful in their own right.
Strong enough wisps can manifest in the material world on their own at greatly diminished capacity. They tend to only appear in places of untouched nature where the veil between worlds is thinnest and are often confused for large fireflies. Wisps can cross over to Earth at full strength if summoned by someone.
One who summons spirits is known as a “whisperer” because of the hushed sound their voice makes through the veil and an implied level of respect. Wisps form a temporary invisible tether with the magic-user who summoned them to feed off of their personal aether reserves like an astral umbilical cord.
A wisp can only represent a single property of the universe. The most common are the elements—such as earth—or that which is closely related—such as plants. As wisps gain strength they can become more specialized (a wisp of the forest, a particular type of plant, or a poison derived from it) until reaching the next stage of growth.
There are numerous denominations of second-level spirits. Many are confused with ghosts because of their similar incorporeal and transient behavior—the name “spirit” is even used interchangeably in some cultures. Spirits on this level can range from amorphous semi-sentient energy masses to completely sentient demigods.
Like living creatures, these spirits are capable of forming emotional bonds. Although void of conscious thought as wisps they will “remember” their bond with those who summoned them in the past and whether they were treated well or not. It may take thousands of years for some to reach this plateau in their existence and a setback can mean centuries of regression, but those lucky enough to bond with such a spirit gain a demonstrably powerful and immortal companion.
Wisps become more specialized in their field as they grow, but second-level spirits begin to expand their area of influence as they head toward the next phase. Some spirits fuse together to create a duality; two entities merging to act as one, but retaining all independent abilities that each would be unable to learn on their own. The simplest example of this would be a water and fire spirit fusing into one sentient being and keeping mastery of their opposing powers.
In the case of a duality, a tertiary aspect may be revealed from the synergy between the two spirits joining. A fire wisp indirectly affects heat and light, but a fire elemental can expand its influence to directly affect them. Control over heat does not only affect increases in temperature, but decreases also. When combined with a water element, this mastery over heat can give the resulting spirit a tertiary element of ice.
The final stage of any spirit is transcendence to godhood. These beings are incredible forces of nature with absolute control over their dominion. Their influence is not limited to this world alone and their potential is endless as long as there is the aether and the belief necessary to fuel them. At their peak they can affect celestial bodies such as stars, planets, and entire galaxies, rewrite the laws of physics and reality at a whim, create other gods and demigods, and manipulate the forces of life and death.
There are three tiers of deities: lesser, traditional, and chief.
Lesser or “terrestrial” deities have a small or specific following and only subtly affect a localized region under certain conditions (ex/ a harvest god, or goddess of a lake). These deities typically deal directly with the land or concept they influence and shy away from interacting with humans.
Traditional deities affect large areas of land—typically whole kingdoms or empires—with massive followings and very visual results (ex/ a goddess of storms, or god of war). These deities delight in interacting with humans—for better or for worse—and will occasionally quarrel amongst themselves for the right to mortal attention.
Chief or “divine” deities are the upper echelon of godhood. They rule over other deities of a particular religion in a congregation known as a “pantheon”. As leaders they wield unfathomable powers that eclipse all else beneath them with even their lowest showings (ex/ a sky god, or sun goddess). These deities rarely involve themselves in mortal or terrestrial affairs and tend to work through other gods and demigods. However, their power is so great that even without trying they can alter the world we live in. Conjuring a drought or hurricane to them takes no more effort than turning oxygen to carbon-dioxide for us.
There is a speculated fourth tier thought to be the eternal aspects of the universe, such as dominion over all creation itself. Whether or not they can truly be considered part of the same progression line remains a mystery. Whoever they are is far beyond mortal comprehension and predates time, making their reliance on our worship null. Having such expansive reach would mean that even the chief deities represent a mere single cell to a greater entity.
Electricity(Wisp) > specialized to > Lightning(Elemental) > refined to > Sky(Deity)