Other Side

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El explores the "Upside Down", in Stranger Things (2016 series)...
Medium Elise Rainier explores "The Further" in Insidious (2010 franchise)

"What manner of place is this unto which I have come? It hath no water, it hath no air; it is deep, unfathomable; it is black as the blackest night, and men wander helplessly about therein; in it a man may not live in quietness of heart."
- Egyptian Scribe Ani

A generic astral netherworld of shadow and darkness, a lower subregion of the Astral Plane.

The Other Side, AKA Limbo, The Astral Depths, The Upside-Down, The Further, The Void, The Abyss, Outside, Anwynn, The Dark Side, The Dark, The Darkness, The Deep, The Deeps, The Great Deeps, The Nether, The Nether World, The Netherworld, Beyond the Gate, The Underworld, The Afterlife, Nar-Mattaru, The Lower Astral Plane, Limbo, Hell, The Dungeon Dimensions, The Shadowlands, The Shadows, The Pit, The Spaces Between the Spaces, Deep Dendo, Ginnungagap, Xibalba


In the Mythos

Man lives in the sunlit world of what he believes to be reality, but there is, unseen by most, an underworld, a place that is just as real, but not as brightly lit - a Dark Side.
- Introduction from Tales from the Darkside (1983 series)

The "Other Side", also known by a variety of other names, is a place of darkness and shadow, beyond our world in an astral plane, similar to reality but more like a reflection or shadow of it, not in the spaces we know, but between the spaces, bridged or sealed by metaphysical "gates" or "doorways" or "bridges", an alien place full of shapeless and shadowy monsters waiting in the dark for an opportunity to cross over the Abyss into our reality. Typically, someone who finds him/herself traveling to the Other Side runs a risk of either never returning, or "coming back wrong" as an incomplete or empty shell of himself/herself, or as a shell filled with some alien purpose, personality, and mind....


The Astral Depths

The Astral Depths are said to be the most material region of the Other Side which lay close to the Material Plane as a dark and shadowy reflection of what we call "reality", a "hell of our own making" swarming with disincarnate spirits, ranging from human Ghosts, to less recognizably human entities ranging from animal ghosts, to Elementals, to alien spirits and demonic beings which, hiding in the shadows, wait in darkness to plague astral travelers, and seek openings by which they may descend into the world of living beings to relive past sins, haunt and persecute the living, steal living bodies to use as their own, and worse. Scattered throughout the darkness of the Astral Depths are shadow copies of places, buildings, and cities from the "living world" constructed in denial of death or the trauma of dying by spirits who felt strongly about those places in life or at the time of death, often copies of places loved in life, and not uncommonly copies of places in which tragic and horrible deaths occurred and are relived in death.


The Outside

"The Outside", AKA "the castle", "the crypt", "the catacombs", "the endless tombs", "the vault"

Origin: "The Outsider (fiction)" by H.P. Lovecraft, where the nameless location was referred to only in such vague terms as "the castle".

Unhappy is he to whom the memories of childhood bring only fear and sadness. Wretched is he who looks back upon lone hours in vast and dismal chambers with brown hangings and maddening rows of antique books, or upon awed watches in twilight groves of grotesque, gigantic, and vine-encumbered trees that silently wave twisted branches far aloft....

I know not where I was born, save that the castle was infinitely old and infinitely horrible; full of dark passages and having high ceilings where the eye could find only cobwebs and shadows. The stones in the crumbling corridors seemed always hideously damp, and there was an accursed smell everywhere, as of the piled-up corpses of dead generations. It was never light, so that I used sometimes to light candles and gaze steadily at them for relief; nor was there any sun outdoors, since the terrible trees grew high above the topmost accessible tower. There was one black tower which reached above the trees into the unknown outer sky, but that was partly ruined and could not be ascended save by a well-nigh impossible climb up the sheer wall, stone by stone.

I must have lived years in this place, but I cannot measure the time. Beings must have cared for my needs, yet I cannot recall any person except myself; or anything alive but the noiseless rats and bats and spiders. I think that whoever nursed me must have been shockingly aged, since my first conception of a living person was that of something mockingly like myself, yet distorted, shrivelled, and decaying like the castle. To me there was nothing grotesque in the bones and skeletons that strowed some of the stone crypts deep down among the foundations. I fantastically associated these things with every-day events, and thought them more natural than the coloured pictures of living beings which I found in many of the mouldy books. From such books I learned all that I know. No teacher urged or guided me, and I do not recall hearing any human voice in all those years — not even my own; for although I had read of speech, I had never thought to try to speak aloud. My aspect was a matter equally unthought of, for there were no mirrors in the castle....


H.P. Lovecraft, "The Outsider (fiction)"

A strange, vast, antique, and perhaps immaterial labyrinth of unclear location connected to certain aged graveyards and cellars of Earth as well as other and far stranger worlds, perhaps in a material location in the Hollow Earth, or a metaphysical or astral location in the Dreamlands or the Other Side, taking the form of a vast, dim cavern full of crumbling masonry, damp and winding passages and catacombs lined with mouldy books and scrolls, slimy and cobwebbed crypts, antique and greasy candles, piles of bones and mummified corpses, and indistinct brown hangings and carpets, and rotting and ramshackle furniture of fantastical, worn, and aged design, constructed from the wood of long-plundered caskets and sheets of roughly-stitched leather of suspicious origin, as well as various objects that were almost certainly plundered from both the Waking World and the Dreamlands. Though typically found vacant and empty save for spiders, rats, and other vermin, the macabre, shocking, and tasteless decor suggests the morbid and mocking hand of Ghouls in its construction, or at least in its habitation and furnishing, likely facilitated by the location's connection to cemeteries, catacombs, and nightmarish caverns in various worlds. There is likewise evidence of occasional visits an habitation by beings of a still more alien nature in the presence of unspeakable artifacts constructed or abandoned there, as well as the remnants of the unspeakable rites of Human Cultists and wizards and their familiars and imps at various points in the castle's ancient and mysterious history.

One of the building's high "towers" connects through the cavern ceiling to a certain aged churchyard in "Lovecraft Country", while other towers may connect to other cemeteries and other subterranean places, while outside of the building's walls and across a putrid moat, the caverns, filled with strange subterranean vegetation and fungi, fields of twisted and jagged stalagmites, and other outlandish landscape, connect through tunnels to subterranean locations on several worlds, most notably the Vale of Pnath.


The Ultimate Void

The Nameless Mist pervades the deeper regions of the Other Side, and in the furthest reaches of this vast dark territory lay the Ultimate Gate, beyond which stretches the Ultimate Abyss, the Last Void where Yog-Sothoth dwells hidden in darkness.


Deep Dendo (Faerie Land)

(Deep Dendo, AKA Faerie Land, Tir Na Nog, etc.)

"...some great white place where they lived, where the trees and the grass were all white, and there were white hills as high up as the moon, and a cold wind... the sky... like a wicked voorish dome in Deep Dendo..."
- Arthur Machen, "The White People"

Arthur Machen's Little People appear to live in a strange, alien faerie land, "Deep Dendo", described in "The White People" as "...some great white place where they lived, where the trees and the grass were all white, and there were white hills as high up as the moon, and a cold wind...", "the sky... like a wicked voorish dome in Deep Dendo..." (Arthur Machen, "The White People").

This strange and sinister "faerie land" can be considered to be a world carved out of the shadows of the Other Side near a "thin spot" between worlds by the ghastly Faerie people in their exile or exodus from the "real" world, and here, in the darkness, they dwell as shadowy spirits or physical beings crowding the gate and awaiting their appointed time to cross over again to our world to perform horrible rituals and cast terrible spells, kidnap and torment humans that they drag back to the Other Side, and cause other hellish mischief.

See Deep Dendo for more detail.


The Ghost-City of Xibalba

Xibalba, Camazotz' kingdom of ruin in the Astral Void, appears to have once been an alien city of great technical sophistication and complexity and tremendous age, long since come to nameless ruin and abandoned by its long-forgotten builders. Its deserted gardens and vacant buildings are now haunted by strange and reclusive spirits of the Astral plane, ruled over by Camazotz and its bat-demons.

Among the ruins are various desolate "palaces" and gardens claimed by Camazotz and his demons, and a hellish court to which the demons are said to carry human victims, and force them to play in monstrous games, such as a "ball" game played with severed human heads, and other, more mysterious performances for mysterious reasons unknown to any earthly beings, but believed to be for the mad, sadistic amusement of the lost and malevolent spirits dwelling in Xibalba.

Legend also attributes Xibalba with a bizarre and repugnant geography, such as the city being built upon the corpse of a dead or dying and diseased god, with canals filled with pus running through the city, pits filled with decayed flesh writhing with vermin, and other horrors of flesh, as well as buildings filled with strange traps to confuse travelers in the Astral Depths, causing them to become lost in this shadow world, while the voyagers' bodies lay in the Daylands, vulnerable to possession by alien spirits seeking entrance to the waking world.

Ymir

See Ymir for more details. The cold and icy home world of the Dark Ones is Ymir, a place of desolation with seven dim suns which give almost no light nor heat to those wretched Dark One astronomers and philosophers who make their home on Ymir's snowy, starlit surface, and only a slowly cooling radioactive core to provide a sickly and unnatural warmth to those Dark Ones who crawl through the shadowed horrors of the tunnels deep within Ymir's corpse. The "planet" is actually the body of a slain "god" or "Great Old One" - a formerly living "planet" covered in alien flesh around a skeleton of stone - which in life gave asexual birth to other monstrous gods from its "armpits", the cavities between its tentacles/arms/legs and its body. Ymir's corpse now drifts in space, a dead-but-dreaming, frozen, radioactive, bombed-out ruin erratically orbiting seven dying suns and crawling with its faithful "maggots", the Dark Ones, who have made their god's corpse their hellish, frozen paradise: through tunnels and great cavities deep in frozen Ymir the Dark Ones prefer to crawl and feast like maggots, clinging to the fading radioactive warmth of Ymir's dying core, near which they carve and build great and terrible wonders in the icy darkness in their workshops and forges deep within the cold, dead, radioactive flesh of their host.

Midian

See Midian for more details. The Garden of Midian of Ghoul legend and myth is a paradise from which the tribe of the Ghouls fell or were driven from at the beginning of time, when the tribe were said to have been banished to Earth, Before the Beginning, where the Ghouls once dwelt in happiness in the paradise of Midian under the careless watch of nameless creator gods, until "The Beginning of Days", when the Ghouls were cast out of Midian "like falling stars ablaze in the night sky", down to Earth, where the Ghouls now live by night under the leadership of a new god, Mordiggian. Allegorical Midian is described by the cult of Mordiggian as a world like Earth, but without daylight, a vast graveyard full of all the corpses of all the humans which have ever lived for the Ghouls to gnaw upon, lit only by the moon, which is forever locked in a single phase, its fullest. This Midian, according to the cult, is a future paradise to be opened up upon the Earth when the Stars are Right and the great dragon of old rises up from its grave and the spells of the cult of Mordiggian subdue humanity and overthrow the hated Sun.


Sharnoth

(See Sharnoth; not to be confused with Sarnath)

If a sorcerer sends his mind out on a cosmic voyage beyond this world, it is possible to reach Sharnoth, a place beyond space and time, where Nyarlathotep dwells in his gigantic ebony palace awaiting his second coming and served by his minions while he broods and festers in the blackest night of the Other Side.

This location was first described in Alsophocus's Black Tome.


The Dreamlands and Summerlands

Higher regions of the Astral Plane, further from what we call "reality", are home to spirits, dreamers, poets, and "gods" with less attachment to the waking, living world of the Daylands, places where elaborate realities have been carved from the Astral Plane, including great cities, shining afterlives, elaborate creations of dream, and more. Here, the shadowy "Other Side" ends, and the Dreamlands of dreamers and poets begin, and the spectacular - if hollow - palaces and gardens of the "Summerlands" constructed by the arts of lesser gods for their use use as paradises of the afterlife.


Heresies and Controversies

  • The Other Side is one of many alien Dreamlands... (fan theory)
  • Alternatively, the Dreamlands are an island of light and life carved out of the shadows of the other Side by powerful Dreamers... (fan theory)
  • Powerful astral travelers and some Disincarnate spirits, equivalent to Dreamers in the Daylands and Dreamlands, are capable of shaping the Other Side, constructing islands of order and sometimes even light in this plane of shadow and darkness, where buildings or landscapes or entire cities or worlds can be found and explored (or often best avoided) by astral travelers; such places may be echoes or reflections of places found in the Daylands or Dreamlands such as a house remembered by the spirit of someone who died there; the Other Side is also dotted with strange cities and planets built from shadow which are entirely the strange and unearthly and undreamed constructs of the imaginations of alien spirits which have never lived. (fan theory from horror films and literature)
  • The Other Side is a shadowy plane teeming with disincarnate spirits, including spirits of the dead who have not moved on but instead await the opportunity to claw their way back into the world of the living, either haunting that world as a lost soul or stealing a living human body from a hapless Dreamer for the purposes of clinging a bit longer to life.... (fan theory from spiritualism)
  • Individuals might interpret The Other Side as Hell or Purgatory or some other bleak afterlife where doomed spirits who cannot or will not "go into the Light" or "ascend into Heaven" gather. (fan theory from spiritualism)
  • The Nameless Mist pervades the Other Side, and in the furthest reaches of this vast dark territory lay the Ultimate Gate, beyond which stretches the Ultimate Abyss, the Last Void where Yog-Sothoth dwells hidden in darkness. (Cthulhu Dark Ages)


Keeper Notes

  • What is the difference between "The Other Side" and the "Dreamlands"? They are both alternate worlds that characters can enter by "Dreaming" or "Astral Projection", but the "Other Side" is a "shadow world", a darker place of eternal night, despair, emptiness, and nameless dread and terror... an "abyss" where shadowy horrors, malevolent spirits, and deranged ghosts wait for light to fade. "The Other Side" is, perhaps, a glimpse at the end of a lengthy exhaustion of all light and heat and energy in the universe, leaving only decay and horror in the darkness.
  • The "Other Side" is a convenient place to hide "Sealed Evil in a Can" until "The Stars are Right".
  • The "Other Side" is also a useful "Astral Plane" where mystics of the right persuasion can find spirit guides, disincarnate spirits of all sorts, and spirits which may be the ghosts of formerly living people, or may be alien spirits claiming to be formerly living people - either a literal "afterlife", or a sinister deception masquerading as an afterlife for the purpose of misleading and trapping gullible mystics, priests, cultists, and their followers.
  • The "Other Side" also represents a dark and creepy alien world for mad scientists to incautiously open portals to and for intrepid investigators to explore and brave in their quests for strange places, rare artifacts and tomes, mysterious spirits, etc.
  • The "Other Side" can also be thought of as a border area between the surface of waking Earth, and the depths of the Hollow Earth, the Dreamlands, or the Astral Plane: not full part of any of these, but partly existing within all three simultaneously. In this sense, the "Other Side" is a very real place located beneath the Earth - a shadow version of the surface world constructed by the damned souls who live in the Cavern World below for their own mad, broken reasons....


Quotes

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...."
- Psalm 23:4

"I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death; to a land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness."
- Job 10:21-22

Man lives in the sunlit world of what he believes to be reality, but there is, unseen by most, an underworld, a place that is just as real, but not as brightly lit - a Dark Side.
- Introduction from Tales from the Darkside (1983 series)

...The darkness which filled the passage seemed to become suddenly of a dull violet colour; not, as if a light had been shone; but as if the natural blackness of the night had changed colour. And then, coming through this violet night, through this violet-coloured gloom, came a little naked Child, running. In an extraordinary way, the Child seemed not to be distinct from the surrounding gloom; but almost as if it were a concentration of that extraordinary atmosphere; as if that gloomy colour which had changed the night, came from the Child... running, with the natural movement of the legs of a chubby human child, but in an absolute and inconceivable silence. It was a very small Child, and must have passed under the table; but I saw the Child through the table, as if it had been only a slightly darker shadow than the coloured gloom. In the same instant, I saw that a fluctuating glimmer of violet light outlined the metal of the gun-barrels and the blade of the sword-bayonet, making them seem like faint shapes of glimmering light, floating unsupported where the table-top should have shown solid.... I saw the Child jump to one side, and hide behind some half-seen object, that was certainly nothing belonging to the passage. I stared, intently, with a most extraordinary thrill of expectant wonder, with fright making goose-flesh of my back. And even as I stared, I solved for myself the less important problem of what the two black clouds were that hung over a part of the table. I think it very curious and interesting, the double working of the mind, often so much more apparent during times of stress. The two clouds came from two faintly shining shapes, which I knew must be the metal of the lanterns; and the things that looked black to the sight with which I was then seeing, could be nothing else but what to normal human sight is known as light....
- William Hope Hodgson, "The Searcher of the End Room"

Gilman's dreams consisted largely in plunges through limitless abysses of inexplicably coloured twilight and bafflingly disordered sound; abysses whose material and gravitational properties, and whose relation to his own entity, he could not even begin to explain. He did not walk or climb, fly or swim, crawl or wriggle; yet always experienced a mode of motion partly voluntary and partly involuntary. Of his own condition he could not well judge, for sight of his arms, legs, and torso seemed always cut off by some odd disarrangement of perspective; but he felt that his physical organisation and faculties were somehow marvellously transmuted and obliquely projected—though not without a certain grotesque relationship to his normal proportions and properties.
The abysses were by no means vacant, being crowded with indescribably angled masses of alien-hued substance, some of which appeared to be organic while others seemed inorganic. A few of the organic objects tended to awake vague memories in the back of his mind, though he could form no conscious idea of what they mockingly resembled or suggested. In the later dreams he began to distinguish separate categories into which the organic objects appeared to be divided, and which seemed to involve in each case a radically different species of conduct-pattern and basic motivation. Of these categories one seemed to him to include objects slightly less illogical and irrelevant in their motions than the members of the other categories. All the objects—organic and inorganic alike—were totally beyond description or even comprehension. Gilman sometimes compared the inorganic masses to prisms, labyrinths, clusters of cubes and planes, and Cyclopean buildings; and the organic things struck him variously as groups of bubbles, octopi, centipedes, living Hindoo idols, and intricate Arabesques roused into a kind of ophidian animation. Everything he saw was unspeakably menacing and horrible; and whenever one of the organic entities appeared by its motions to be noticing him, he felt a stark, hideous fright which generally jolted him awake. Of how the organic entities moved, he could tell no more than of how he moved himself. In time he observed a further mystery—the tendency of certain entities to appear suddenly out of empty space, or to disappear totally with equal suddenness. The shrieking, roaring confusion of sound which permeated the abysses was past all analysis as to pitch, timbre, or rhythm; but seemed to be synchronous with vague visual changes in all the indefinite objects, organic and inorganic alike....
- H.P. Lovecraft, "Dreams in the Witch House (fiction)"

"Whatever it was, the effect was curious: it brought back the dream - he was beginning to think of it as the vision - of the evening before. The homely well known pasture seemed in a moment to widen into an illimitable grey expanse - an acute feeling of extreme loneliness and of being on a hopeless and aimless journey came over him and his whole being cried out for companionship and protection, and yet he felt that there was none, none whatever to be had: he was helpless in a world of hostile shadows. Nothing was interesting any more, nothing was or could be important, and for all that, there was an instant pressure of hurry and no time to stop and think. It was a bitterness of despair which could not, he said, be put into any human words..."
- M.R. James, "John Humphries" (Unfinished story.)

Associated Mythos Elements