Breaking Down The Spirit World From The 'Avatar' Universe
The rich lore and deep mythology of the Avatar series aren’t just about bending the elements in the physical world - what makes everything so much cooler is the fact that everything is somehow connected to the Spirit World as well. The physical world itself has its own undiscovered secrets, but for the Spirit World, we’ve definitely only scratched the surface. While there’s still tons of stuff we don’t know about the other side, we do have a handful of interesting facts we can feast on for now, and here are just some of them.
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Spirits Have Counterparts Too
Aside from Tui and La, the spirits-slash-koi fish in Season One of The Legend of Aang, there are other spirits that have their own counterparts, much like the yin and yang effect of the Moon and Ocean spirits. For instance, there’s Koh and the Mother of Faces, and, of course, Raava and Vaatu.
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The Spirit World Is Not Exactly An Afterlife
While a human who stays in the Spirit World too long can die, the Spirit World itself isn’t the afterlife per se. In fact, Iroh apparently traveled to the Spirit World in order to find his son after Lu Ten passed, until he realized it wasn't an afterlife. Thankfully, he returned to the physical world with a renewed mind and purpose.
Some are able to transcend the mortal realm if they have a strong connection to the Spirit World, and transform into an essence of what they once were. Iroh, who came to reside in the spiritual world due to his strong connection to it, is still the same lovable human we know from The Legend of Aang when we meet him in The Legend of Korra.
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Crossing Over Between Realms Is Complicated
The Avatar, as the bridge between realms, can cross over from one side to the next, but for others, the process isn’t so simple. Humans who are especially enlightened can certainly cross over through meditation, even when the spirit portals are closed. Also, the Forgetful Valley near Hira’a and the Spirit Oasis in the North Pole act as bridges as well, while the barrier is especially at its weakest during the winter solstice and the summer solstice.
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The Spirit World Isn’t The Only Place Spirits Reside In
The Spirit Wilds used to be scattered all over the world before Avatar Wan closed the spirit portals. They were home to a wide variety of spirits who would deceive and harm humans who threatened them or harmed them. After the spirit portals were closed, the spirits returned to the Spirit World for the most part, but the Spirit Wilds re-emerged after Avatar Korra decided to leave the portals open. Interestingly enough, one of the active Spirit Wilds when the portals were closed is the Foggy Swamp, whose sentient plant life and spirit vines contained powerful energies and connected everything in the earth.
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Harmonic Convergence Isn’t Really Very Harmonic
Spiritual energy from the Spirit World is amplified during Harmonic Convergence, when planets align once during 10,000 years. The name sounds pretty neat, but this heightened energy strengthens the dark spirit Vaatu too - thankfully, this mishap created the very first Avatar, when the light spirit Raava merged with Wan to create the Avatar Spirit. When Wan was able to trap Vaatu in the Tree of Time, he then closed the spirit portals and kept the physical and Spirit World separate, because not all “harmonic” things are, well, harmonious.
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There’s Hell In The Spirit World Too
The Spirit World may not exactly be the afterlife per se, but there’s definitely an equivalent of Hell in there: The Fog of Lost Souls. Here, wayward humans find themselves trapped in a hellish torment of their own making, forever haunted by their darkest memories in this spirit prison. A sentient fog spirit slowly drives them insane, much like the sad fate of Admiral Zhao, whom the spirit La imprisoned in the fog as punishment for killing the Moon Spirit.