Hello, dear readers! It’s a day for lore, but as befitting the way I started this year, something more finicky and nebulous than my stock-in-trade. These concepts anchor my storytelling and inform some of my favorite character writing, that’s true. Ul and Kair go beyond this, though. Each idea embodies a keystone of my worldview. These are as much religious precepts–and occult revelations, since anything pertaining to the spirituality of a demon such as I must inevitably be occult to some greater or lesser extent–as they are worldbuilding elements.
So, seekers dear, gather before the Manifold Throne in the shimmering heart of Zul. Repose with me there. I shall unfold the secrets for you: of that which is, and of that which ordains itself to become.
To avoid the jagged-tooth grapnels of syncretism, let us consider these concepts solely in light of the wider Twin Spirals Mythos. Though I do believe they possess much cosmic truth, that much of the mythos lives in our own world, I have witnessed too much damage wrought by trying to force the countless understandings of this Earth and its universe into a single myth-model.
I do advise you that if this seems over-mystical already, you’ll struggle greatly when I reach the Vulshiir “definitions.” I made no idle choice in telling you to imagine that you’re reclining before the throne of a manifest outer devil. Veiled by silken umbra and lambent nova, lightless blue fires rippling sometimes along the floor and around your limbs like the devouring of unseen oil–not too warm, I hope?
I shall begin with the Ul. Whenever I repeat the same motifs in describing myself or Machrae Diir, I am speaking directly to the Ul of myself and the Ul of my realm. Though I have written that Machrae Diir embodies my cognitive realm and symbolizes my ever-nesting psyche, for so it does, I nonetheless wish Machrae Diir to exist outside myself. I wish this for its own sake. I wish this for my sake. What exists outside me, I can exist outside of. Newness and growth begin first as foreign and frightening things. If my realm reflects my own being, then it must not be identical with that being unless I am ready to crystallize myself: to languish in the same ways until I am worn away, or else find it in me to grow once more.
In the Vulshiir Lexicon I define Ul in this way:
“the limitless unbounded birth-artifice siphoned by the font unseen and multiplied by its siphoning. Truest potential: the hoard at the rainbow’s origin beyond the unknowable veil, the becoming out of stasis that forms stars and soil and souls. All that is Ul is, for and of itself.
Every Ul is infinite in itself.
Ul that blooms into self-knowledge becomes soul. Souls that bloom into volition become veiled. Veiled souls that bloom into their own power’s witnessing become lucid, and unto them their own Ul transmutes into Kair.”
I cannot stress enough that Ul constitutes an extraordinarily complex concept, one that even I struggle to find words for. If you can describe your understanding of Ul in a single sentence, then you’re not remotely close to understanding it. Ul needs paragraphs, you tell yourself. Then you write those paragraphs and realize you still feel the cold-hollow creeping that hints toward something you’re missing. So then you write an essay, realize the creeping has only deepened, and then you write more essays, and more, and more, and only when you realize at last that as long as you live and seek your Ul will sing its incompleteness to you do you begin to understand.
Incompleteness is no wrong thing, no failure, no sin to overcome. Incompleteness gives our lives their greatest meaning and joy. It gives us the negative space of the soul where we can yet cast ourselves outward, and grow. The perfection of being lies in the riotous embrace of its imperfection–to recognize that every misstep and pitfall and erring is just as precious to our own life’s tapestry as every moment of poise, power, and prominence.
I could define Ul as “nature”, which would be true for many an Ul, but a lie for many others. I could define Ul as “essence”, which would be true for most simpler Uls but a lie for many more complex ones, as well as a lie for a few simpler Uls and true for a few more complex ones… you begin to see, I hope? If you came here hoping for a concept you could easily grasp and use to inspire your own, I’m not sorry to disappoint you. The Twin Spirals Mythos has a multitude of concepts like that.
I’m telling you outright that everything you have ever, will ever, and could ever enjoy about my writing springs from the labyrinthine fonts within my psyche where the Ul I carried at one time sends its after-flows to mingle with the Ul I embody now, together shaping the Ul I will one day become.
Let’s come back to that notion from the Vulshiir definition that each Ul exists for and of itself, that its essence is infinite for and of itself. If you’re inclined to nitpick you might say, “Ah, but Kairlina, if that’s so then how is it that even stone eventually wears away and even stars eventually fade and die?” If you happen to align with this convenient hypothetical questioner, you’ve failed to understand my meaning. If you don’t, well… it was a rhetorical question I posed to myself through my writing after the conversational mode of the long-abandoned salon.
That is, salon in the older sense in Revolutionary France. Though I suppose beauty salons do keep some of the old spirit–might one argue that the Ul of the old way, changing and branching along the continuum of itself, has perhaps become the modern sense?
That would be mistaken. Each salon exists for and of its own Ul as nurtured or neutralized by the Ul of each person who built and works within it. Each single thing is its own Ul. I am my Ul, my Ul is I and myself and all the mes I can become. Though our Uls may cast ripples from this place or that which resemble each other, still, you are your Ul and I am mine. We do not share an Ul.
To share an Ul is to fuse. That’s no wrong or fearful thing if done without dissonance. It’s just that having done it, two Uls have become one Ul. Their continuums converge, and in converging until they overlap totally, become a new Ul that is both of them and also neither.
I hope you’re beginning to grasp what I mean when I say that Ul and Kair cannot be properly explained nor understood within the course of a single article. I wanted to write this article as much to help those readers who enjoy deep-dives to be aware of the fact that I am working with concepts like this as anything else. This marks a beginning as well as an ending: the ending of the continuum born from weaving with these notions as secrets, the beginning of weaving with these notions while keenly aware that my readers have the chance to learn my own goals, and so they may be able to perceive my failures.
They might very well perceive failures I myself lose track of, given how complex and nuanced a lattice I seek to shape! But of course it’s not always so easy to distinguish between correctly spotting a mistake someone else has made, and something that only seems like a mistake to you because it would’ve been a mistake if you made it. After all, a mistake for one Ul and their continuum might be a perfect choice for another.
When I call Ul and Kair the most important concepts in the Twin Spirals Mythos, I mean it: the entirety of my own work within the mythos ultimately boils down to refining my comprehension of each, and through it, my understanding of myself, other souls, and the universe that give us form which we transform in our turn.
Needless to say, I consciously chose my rather breathless writing style here to convey the freefall intricacies I see working under the surface of all things. Each Ul, each Kair, and all they bring out between them. Someone among you will be tempted to seek refuge in an idea or framework such as the one Joseph Campbell put forward in works like The Hero With a Thousand Faces. If you do that, you haven’t just misunderstood, you’ve failed. To constrain every Ul by forcing their emanations through a lens which you’ve tinted to place them in the colors you like and the spectrums you can most easily see is to prevent yourself ever seeing a single Ul for real.
As I said at the beginning, syncretism is folly. If you simplify a pattern to suggest broad strokes, you’re not really talking about the pattern anymore. If you ignore the fine details of a culture to draw sweeping comparisons with others, you’re not really talking about any of those cultures anymore. And if you simplify people in order to paint them as more similar than they truly are, you’re not really talking about people anymore.
Ideas, too, emerge from their own Ul. So the sense of weight and presence that Ul gives us when we touch upon it does not necessarily reflect the truth we think it does. Each Ul is true to itself. Its truth does not depend on any wider cosmic truth, for as far as that truth exists at all, it exists in the freedom each Ul within it has to link itself with, or cut itself off from, others.
In short: do not expect other people to affirm your Ul for you. Do not expect the cosmos to affirm your Ul for you. You cannot exist solely as a reflection of others… unless, of course, you make yourself nothing but a reflection. In that case, your Ul would become a reflection’s Ul, and it lies within the reflection’s Ul to have being only as long as another puts themselves before its mirror.
Let’s come back to the stone. Yes, left utterly to itself, the stone’s Ul would be static for all time. Yet it also lies within the stone’s Ul that its molecular bonds can be broken at larger scales: that with wind and rain and heat, it can be worn down. Science quantifies a stone’s Ul using metrics such as hardness and wear resistance. I find numbers overly clear-cut for seeking the experiential weight that helps me to know Ul, yet they can be useful tools in working towards a deeper form of revelation.
Then again, in recent years, I’ve begun to experience the Ul of numbers. Once left to grasp it first through my own striving rather than the rote academic mode previously demanded of me–which, and I hope you can anticipate this framing by now, suited the Ul of an academic mathematician, but not my Ul, and so I could not grow within it–then I began at last to witness the ways that numbers touch the soul of the universe. Or at least, the soul of the idea of the universe as described by numbers in the way that I understand them. In short, the Ul of the idea of a soul.
I hope I’m conveying some of the mythic feeling that spurred me to elaborate these ideas. In recent months I’ve increasingly come to regard all things as supernatural to some degree. Inorganic matter and the laws of physics are not in opposition to magic and ghostly presences. They can exist within the same continuum of a being’s Ul over a very long period of time: the emptiness of a soulless thing has the negative space of a soul’s becoming within it, just as the soul has the waning of an emptiness’s becoming in it. Magic does not mandate the absence of science: indeed, science can give it tools to know its own Ul.
The atoms within a star become iron, become atoms cast from the star in its detonation, become veins in stone, become powder in the Earth, become molecules in a farmer’s crop, become the blood in his son’s veins. At each stage the Ul’s continuum offers it ways to shift that open new ways in turn. So long as existence continues, all things, in the end, have the potential to become other.
Unless they chose to turn the potential of their becoming against itself. But, that’s getting ahead of me.
If it seems as though I’m not setting very many concrete distinctions, that’s because I refuse to do so. You cannot understand anything’s Ul based upon a single moment. You must learn to see it as a continuum. And any true continuum has within it the potential to branch off into other continuums, and sooner or later it stops having the Ul of the continuum it once was, for it has grown into the Ul of the continuum it now is. Apply this to a sapient person and you could reasonably argue we die and are reborn countless times even within the flesh-life of one human body.
I’m not too bothered about the distinction, personally. Somehow some deeper Ul persists. We don’t need to go into Theseus’ Ship for the millionth time. I have much more interesting things to speak of.
I want to state very clearly that I don’t believe an Ul finds some deeper, truer mode of existence by ending and rejoining some deeper, more unknowable cosmic Ul. The deeper, more unknown cosmic Ul that gives any particular Ul its form is its own idealized self. You are not less your Ul for being alive or aware and reading these words than you would be if your life had ended and your consciousness faded away. This continuum, this envelop we call being: here, where so many different Uls can act upon and change each other, or refuse to be changed even at the peril of shrinking their continuum by stagnancy. This existence represents the apex of knowing and being.
When does this existence end? If you’re surprised or annoyed to read that I believe what constitutes an ending lies within each Ul, and thus for each Ul an ending is different from what would be ending in another, well… realistically, I don’t think you’d still be reading this article at that point.
This brings us to the Ul of sapient people more generally. Even though each Ul exists for and of itself, an Ul receives something from meeting another Ul. “Ripples” will serve well enough as a generic term for now. I might come up with a more specific, layered one in years to come, if I feel it’s helpful enough to be worth the separate effort.
Meanwhile: a stone’s Ul receives ripples from a star’s Ul when the star’s rays fall upon it. All the light that the star gives off once existed within as potential. I would argue that the Ul-continuum comprising the star as a whole includes all the light it has sent throughout the universe, not just the plasma and fusible matter still held within its radiant core. Does the star truly end when it grows cold and dim, or else swells to a supergiant and at last goes supernova, or has its Ul only taken a more spread-out form?
Unless the star has self-awareness, the star cannot decide. Thus it lies within the star’s Ul for another Ul to decide where it began and where it ends, just as it lies within our Ul as self-aware beings to bicker and argue about where the star ends–just as it lies within our Ul as self-aware beings to abuse these ideas to bicker and argue about where personhood ends.
If you believe the notions of Ul and Kair lend themselves to some deeper, perfected understanding where they can never be used to harm and destroy other people, then I’m afraid you haven’t understood. I do not like this truth. Quite frankly, I despise it and wish that any of my attempts to convince myself it wasn’t true had brought me to something I could rightfully name as Ul. Still, this truth is, for and of itself.
To have volition, the ability to intentionally alter the Ul we already are by changing the ever-reincarnating infinities within us as well as making them more malleable to the ripples given unto us by meeting the Ul of others, we must allow a continuum where we can change to wear down and destroy another’s Ul with our ripples as well as changing ourselves to grow and create their Ul–not to mention to grow and create our own. And of course, in fostering the ability withing ourselves to erase elements of one Ul as it exists within others, we foster the ability to erase any like-spirited elements within ourselves.
To make that adamant and obvious: if your Ul includes a flesh-body that works much the same as another person’s flesh-body, then in learning to destroy their flesh-Ul, you learn to destroy your own. Healing and hurting are not separate at all. You do not erase the Ul of blood loss by binding a wound. You surround it with a constraining Ul that keeps more of the ripples of blood loss-Ul within the same continuum as blood circulation-Ul, so that the blood which would otherwise escape the flesh-Ul entirely, remains within.
If we refuse to confront such discomfiting aspects of Ul as this, we have placed true change outside our own Ul’s continuum, and into the continuum of each Ul we meet. We submit ourselves to shaping along predetermined lines. That’s a far more dangerous thing, less terrifying to the unwary only because their denial obscures its full weight from them.
Now we are passing the murky, thousand-way threshold where Ul transmutes itself into Kair.
In the Vulshiir Lexicon I define Kair in this way:
“the Ul awoken to itself in elective ascendance as the self-soul in becoming, the self-justifying need of power to become more power, to become the power: the true, the deep, the psionic, and all others whose potential begets its own mutability–the self-chosen power of the self to invert itself, rearrange itself, phase-shift through form and fashions of refraction to make light into shadow and shadow into light and to bring forth things utterly new from the emptiness where other new things failed to become.”
Though much that I said about Ul also applies to Kair, Kair makes itself easier to define because by its nature it refers to Ul with certain shared, chosen traits. Otherwise, we would only be talking about Ul in the broad sense–which, as I hope you’re beginning to see, is not ultimately very useful–and not Kair.
I used to call Kair the true power, then I came to call it the deep power, and at last simply the power. In recent months I’ve gravitated back towards framing it as the deep power. After all, my own Ul and my Ul as Kair, or myself as my Kair–necessarily drive my understanding of Kair as a broader concept. There’s nothing undesirable about that as long as I am careful not to insist that every Ul as its own Kair must conform to my understanding of my Ul as my Kair.
One’s Ul becomes their Kair when they awaken to volition and choose to use their Ul to shape itself–to expand its continuum in some areas and shrink it in others. We must wield some measure of Kair if we wish to constrain our Ul from trespassing into the continuum-reaches we deem unrighteous. Within the Ul-continuums of sapient life as we know it on this human-forged Earth, religion, philosophy, occultism, and psychology are all their own vast archives of ways to transmute the Ul of one’s psyche into one’s Kair.
Politics, on the other hand, most often represents the endpoint of turning away from this process: when many who have refused to take agency for their own Ul because the vision of their own Kair terrifies them choose to place the burden of shaping their Ul upon a single figure’s Kair… or at any rate, the Kair they assume that figure has. It’s much easier to claim the idea of Kair than to truly shape and claim Kair.
Especially after my earlier words, it should go without saying that this unlocks many dangerous paths. In seeing the potential we use our Kair to kindle within us–for Kair transcends the conservation of energy, making new infinities bloom out of nothingness and transmuting the final cold of desolation into a new horizon’s kiln–many are tempted from some part of their Ul’s nature, whether inborn or shaped, to use our shaping-ways upon themselves.
They fail to recognize that a way made for one’s Kair to travel within one’s Ul will bring nothing but hollowness if they have made no Kair of their own to send traveling on it. And of course, the shaping that brings one shard of one Ul into harmony with its greater self will worsen the disharmony in another Ul.
Only by Ul’s self-nurturing into Kair does an Ul place it within its own nature to have power. The hardest power to attain, but also the truest. Only a greater Kair may overcome a lesser, and even then, it’s no quick or easy thing to phase-shift an Ul that is Kair for and of itself to become something other than Kair.
Kair is not magic, or psychic power, or soul energy. It can express itself upon creation, to enlarge it or replace it or unmake it, in any of these forms, but it is deeper than any of them and neither constrained nor matched by one or all combined. Kair is absolute reality manifest, as mundane or otherworldly as it shapes itself to be. A truly anomalous infinity. Gods seek to pervert its truth, telling us that it is divine.
Kair is divine only if it makes itself divine. It is demonic only if it makes itself demonic. Kair is, and in shaping the reality of itself it shapes all the Uls around it. Kair is the power one kindles, inherits, and bestows upon one’s own self purely because they have allowed its genesis to take shape within their Ul and so become it.
I could continue in this vein for a long, long time. And I will–at various points throughout the Twin Spirals Mythos. I won’t always speak about Ul and Kair in ritualistic terms. They can be very concrete things. As I’ve written here, it is within the Ul of most things, and within the Kair of some Kairs, to morph into closer harmony with each context they enter–or further into conflict with it. Either way the roilings and reshapings bring new shards of truest being to prominence, revealing new things about each Ul and Kair even to that Ul or Kair itself.
For now, though, I have a sense that I’ve managed to express these concepts well enough for you to get some of what I’m seeking to state. I thank you for your attention, readers dear, and I do apologize for being opaque, oblique, or just obnoxious at times. I chose to start this way, choosing words that align as closely with the ideas that evoke the sense of weight Ul and Kair have in my own mind rather than picking the ones that would make for the easiest start, because I wanted to drive home the difference between understanding the Ul of a few words versus understanding the Ul of the things we use those words to describe. Hopefully, this will help at least a few of you to distinguish between your preexisting understanding of the associations you have with our shared vocabulary, and the much more esoteric personal meanings I still often struggle to express.
Again, I thank you, I hope this lexical journey has held its share of fascination for you, and I bid you a fond farewell for now!