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Ego Death and Upen's Spiritual Rebirth

Wednesday, Apr 1, 2020

The Beach was a small part of herself.

Another stroke on the Hell Screen

She washed ashore

Two dollars were in the sand

A hound had come here to rest

Damp cotton touched green water

She thought of what she was doing here

Of what the night invoked

Hot sand met a rising wind

It happened again

She realised

There was not a single dog left to fight

Among the whitecap constellations

Sumoirnesdenen or “facing self abolishment” is better described as ego death. It has a long history in Upen, Vekllei’s nondenominational animism, which employs hallucinogenic drugs in service of spiritual revitalisation.

The aim of sumoirnesdenen is not to better prepare a mind for a sincere spiritual pursuit, but to propel the psyche into an objective, disassociated space to clarify the pressures and deceptions in life. It is in a sense a psychological and spiritual rebirth, if performed with an experienced guide in a controlled environment.

Tzipora Desmoisnes, Vekllei’s first Gregori Baby, engaged in sumoirnesdenen in 2076 at the age of 29 against her father’s advice. She had concerns about having a “bad trip” because of lingering psychological concerns, but decided to proceed after years of depression. She engaged in the trip with the help of an Upen minister, as is standard practice in Vekllei.

The practice is celebrated in two parts — first, a period of ego-death under influence of mushrooms (although synthetic drugs are often used today, especially in urban areas), and second comes a sober reassessment of priority (called maloidenen or self-worship) that aims to rebuild the person positively while the memory of the open soul is still vivid. This is done largely through scripture and controlled socialising, and is celebrated, much like a birthday, as a milestone.

Although Tzipora’s sumoirnesdenen experience was positive and provided important clarity in a very lonely time of her life, she soon after began recalling dreams from her early months in Vekllei for the first time in a decade.

They were nasty-feeling images, encumbered with insecurities and a dark paranoia. Never a strong swimmer, she found herself washed up on beaches, meeting dead acquaintances, and grimacing as her waterlogged nightshirt chafed her shoulders. It began to disturb sleep. She wondered if sumoirnesdenen had exposed a clearer subconscious filled with a sinister, more accurate, depiction of her past and future.

It had, however, provided a clear frame of mind to understand herself in the context of the universe. The dreams began to fade. Her ego quickly reasserted her place in the world — indeed, it had never really disappeared. It provided her with a glimpse at the other side of the coin, and it put her heart at peace.

I’m back after a break. I’m relearning how to write worldbuilding posts. I hope you enjoyed, there’s more on the way – Hobart.