"Unseen" Godzilla Compilation Take 2 (1954-1980)

Since the last time I did something like this I just ended up dropping my documentation here and moved over to a new project with a wider scope for a number of reasons I'm not going to restate here. However this has ended up being counter-intuitive as the amount of time and effort put into that project means that progress on it is really slow, as it takes me probably something like a week, all things considered, to put together just one article in releasable form (which doesn't necessarily mean its finished) and other projects and priorities mean there are large gaps between the periods when I'm actually working on it, making a week turn into a month, etc.

However, what's I've found out is that since I wrote about Bride of Godzilla here on this blog it actually HAS gotten circulated, picked up by the wiki, which is kind of cute and heartwarming. Their page on it is what you'd expect it to be, a brief stub with confusingly stated stats seemingly written specifically to create rumors and misinformation, but it's still pretty cool regardless, and I attempted to help improve it although I can't say for sure whether my impact on it was positive or not. I'm usually not the most cheerful person.

BUT, if stuff is getting read, then me taking my sweet time writing up really in-depth down-to-the-minute articles isn't really helping all that much since there's still too much misinformation out there and still too many ideas that have gone completely ignored in the English-speaking world. So with that in mind I figured I'd cover, briefly, what I know NOW (and this changes often, as I find better sources and better translations, etc.) about everything, or at least all the things I can remember.

That said, this list has a much narrower scope than the last post I made like this. It's limited both to things directly ancestral to or involving Godzilla, and I'm also going to narrow it down to live action film. Also, I'm probably going to leave out illegal/fan stuff like Wolfman and Godzilla vs. Cleveland. But enough of that, here's the important stuff:



There is some confusion about what it is exactly the otherworld and fog world (and the night, or intermediary world) are supposed to represent. "Obviously," most would say, "it's hell... because of on account of all the spooks." This is the most shallow interpretation, but there is evidence for it, especially outside of Silent Hill 2 where it can get... ambiguous... as to whether the characters are being tortured by their own guilt or by some external force, like a psychic witch child or a cult trying to summon an outer god. Ugh, just writing that last sentence made me throw up a little bit in my mouth.

It is far more in-line with the evidence given that the world created by the Silent Hill protagonists is their own personal purgatory, where they are punishing themselves for their own deed, unable to let go of their guilt and self-loathing. Of course I also would like to mention that Claudia actually calls the otherworld "Paradise," and, as we'll soon see, she's not wrong.

But what is Purgatory? In modern times, Purgatory has become a tool for writers with their heads up their own asses to pull a "it was all a dream!" while still trying to look cool and symbolic. Since everyone is Jesus in Purgatory, the place has become more or less identical to the world we live in now, just with no people in it. Consider the eternal summer of Ed, Edd, 'n Eddy. While there are certain oddities in this strange, lonely world, it is for the most part indistinguishable from the real world, a fact so confusing that even the writers of what is probably the worst television show in history don't seem to realize that the series took place in it (just to recap, before the series ended they said "they're not Jesus in Purgatory," then in the finale they were, and after the show ended they made up a story about "buffers" to try and quell criticism of how PROMETHEUS' Damon Lindelof is probably the worst screenwriter in history). In addition to this, characters in modern Purgatory can apparently go for all of eternity without ever having this realization, trapped in a perpetual state of ignorance, regret, sadness, and disbelief.

But in medieval Christian theology, Purgatory was the one kingdom of the afterlife that wasn't eternal. While everyone there was clearly aware of their situation, Purgatory was a means of actually getting over themselves, you purge your sins and then you get the fuck out. There's plenty of time for self-pity while you're there, but you're always keenly aware of how you can move on with your un-life. For this reason, as in Silent Hill 2, Purgatory only appears to be Hell when you don't understand why you're being punished, but at the same time, once you see Purgatory for what it is - not a facade of a real world place but an extension of Hell run by angels - the conditions aren't eternal torments but obstacles to overcome. The power of a personal hell can either lead people into a perpetual feedback loop of regret, or it can make them stronger.

In this universe I've built up, people living in the aftermath of the demonic invasions fear the theological Hell as a real, physical place, and the possibility they could end up in it. But Purgatory? There's nothing to be afraid of, we already live there, we're all Jesus in Purgatory. And thus, right under their noses, does the truth of the afterlife lie. But there are still people who end up in the Inferno and Heaven? How does that work?

As mentioned last time, the division between the Abyssals and the Empyreans isn't based on human morality, but more along the law/chaos axis. While the old gods still ruled Antichthon, the underworld was the default location where souls would end up, with various subdivisions catering to all kinds, while the blessed isles were reserved for exceptional people, great famous warriors and poets, that sort of thing. Being a good person didn't mean you got to hang out with Ladon in the garden of the Hesperides, the dead still default to the gloomy caves even if you were a nice family man. By comparison, if you're an irredeemable monster, you go straight into the pit of Tartarus. The godhead (Yahweh, Christ, and Yldabaoth or the Demiurge) isn't concerned with and doesn't really understand morality, it's criteria for heaven and hell are whether or not you follow the rules. While certainly he's made a valiant effort to attempt a reconstruction of good and evil, all of it is predicated along the lines of  "do what I say," so that we end up with some rather... disturbing discrepancies.

Although there was resistance from the old gods, in all the war in heaven was a relatively short skirmish. Had the chthonian gods managed to convince the Abyssals to help them, things might have gone differently, but they were simply too selfish and self-absorbed, worried about saving themselves. Like the previous wars between the gods, the victors were not merely content to banish or even kill the conquered, and turned their bodies into the spheres, and the ruins of the once great city of the gods was relocated to the former king's space-borne corpse. There was also rebellion from within, as the angel Lucifer was shocked by this display of wanton destruction, and attempted to defend the old gods, and for his trouble God cast him and his followers deep into the core of the underworld, creating a massive impact crater which, of course, became Hell.

The universe was completely restructured, and a completely new set of rules would determine where souls would end up. The surface of Antichthon was totally abandoned and sterilized, with only rogue, aimless phantasms to stock the empty, fog-shrouded ruins. Below the surface lies the Inferno, subdivided into Fore-Hell, for those who have not offended God but failed to meet the requirements of repentance or salvation, and Hell, for anyone who broke the rules. Hell is further divided into the Lesser and Nether portions, based on the three-fold division of evil by Aristotle. Lesser Hell (circles 2-5) is for sins of incontinence, with each focusing on a deadly sin except for the fifth circle which contains both the wrathful and the sullen. Pride and envy are not covered, and perhaps there were additional levels or this was the previous function of the city of Dis. Dis, as it stands now, serves a redundant violent sin though it is not considered part of the "violent sins" in the three-fold division, but rather a counterpart and bookend to Limbo. Where Limbo is concerned with those who didn't  believe (or so), Dis is the city for blasphemers and heretics. Also reserved for blasphemy? The third round of the seventh circle in the burning sands. In Nether Hell (circles 6-9), then, the first is the bookend of Limbo, the seventh is for sins of violence, and the last two are for fraudulent sins.

The impact of Lucifer shoved an equal amount of earth upwards from the displacement, creating an enormous mountain as tall as the Inferno is deep, and on it are pieces of land formerly apart of the underworld and the Herperides mashed up together to fit the God's plan. The moutain's foot is surrounded by an immense wall, Araf, on one side of which are those who repented but were excommunicated, and on the other is those who weren't, but still repented "not fast enough" and who wait outside the dual gates of the kingdom of Heaven for various reasons, this waiting room of Heaven at the foot of Mt. Purgatory is called "Ante-Purgatory." Past the gates of either Ivory or Horn (only one of them won't deceive you) is Purgatory proper, in seven cornices, divided into Lower and Upper. Lower Purgatory is for those dwelling on the actions of perverted love, those who in life were proud, envious, or wrathful, but now hang on the lower steppes of Purgatory in states of - probably - perpetual guilt, regret, and apathy. Above them are the four cornices (4-7) of Upper Purgatory, where those who had disordered love in life undergo a torrent of torments on the high rocks as a manifestation of their own self-hatred. Finally at the top of the mountain is the garden of Eden, the best Earthly life can offer, neither a place of punishment, repentance, nor reward, but a pure and pristine garden were those who have scaled Mt. Purgatory can drink from the Lethe and forget all of the woes of their past life and frolic in innocence and blissful ignorance for... ever?

Dante's Inferno and Purgatory are amazing epics, and they still hold up today, 700 years later. They are truly the medieval versions of DOOM and Silent Hill, and the praise given to them by various ivory tower monocle-wearing scholars isn't unjustified. This is kind of amazing when you consider who wrote them, why, and the time they lived in, but then again that's why it's looked back on as a major milestone for the Florentine Renaissance, something of a front-runner of the more widespread Renaissance of the following centuries. Paradise, though, shows the weaknesses in the source, the poet, as it fails to hold onto any sense of wonder, emotion, or logic. Rather than the glorious rewards of Paradise to counterbalance the hellish tortures and bittersweet pity of the other cantiches, all you can look forward to in space-heaven is... looking up at God's face. That's it, that's all you get. No vast coliseums for the martyrs, no guilt free sex for the chaste, no planet-sized libraries for the wise, and no personal kingdoms for the great rulers. All you get is to stare at a thing. Furthermore, the souls aren't even in their respective spheres, what Dante sees on his journey upwards are mere reflections, psychic projection of the spirits who are actually, again, sitting in a giant rose staring at a thing. And you know the vivid descriptions of each circle, cornice, and terrace of the preceding cantiches? I sure do, it's why I started this endeavor in the first place! The horrible bolgias, the creepy marble gallery, the chaotic marsh, and the black smog of wrath, none of these kinds of images appear in Dante's Paradise, so if you're expecting, like I was, a uniquely medieval take on exploring alien worlds, then don't look there. In fact, the only images in the poem happen either in the Empyrean or are a direct result of strange formations made by the souls themselves who, again, are not even really there.

Dante's Paradise is nothing more than a religious diatribe. In Inferno and Purgatory, there is a steady plot thread regarding the horrible injustice imparted to souls, condemning people who made simple human mistakes to an eternity of impossible tortures, or throwing the same disturbing sadistic mechanisms at those who are already harder on themselves than anyone else could ever be - anyone but God that is - and of course there is the ever present question of how it makes any kind of sense at all to condemn someone to the Inferno before Jesus was even born. The is NO way you can tell me that God seriously expects you to predict the future, especially since in Dante's mind Virgil had already done exactly that. In Paradise? Hand-waved. "Don't question God" the giant eagle made of souls that aren't actually there says, "look, to shut you up here is a minor character from an epic poem you read who we allowed up here because he, uh... he just had this feeling that Jesus would exist, you know?" We are expected, as Dante did, to accept this as a perfectly reasonable answer, but this is where all semblance of hope for the poem shatters into a million pieces, as now Dante's religion has taken the reigns and the logical thinking, well-read poet we knew who buddied around with Virgil is now completely gone. Replaced, no doubt, with something put there by God after gazing into his eyes. The signs were there from the beginning when Beatrice suggests an experiment that doesn't actually give the result she thinks it does in an attempt to say that light doesn't diminish over distance, completely ignoring the part where the term "footcandles" exists and also how the sun isn't literally blinding the entire universe or how a flashlight can't be seen from space... but you know, what the fuck ever. "No craters on the moon," says Beatrice, "so keep drinking the water, it's totally safe!"

Given all this, I'm of course rewriting Paradise almost from scratch. In this world, the layout is essentially the same, with the Inner Spheres devoted to the theological virtues, the Outer Spheres to the cardinal virtues. The first major change is, of course, that the souls in Paradise are actually where they are sent, no god with such a tyrannically strict set of rules is going to opt for a "you're all special, beautiful snowflakes" policy, it's totally antithetical to everything in the Comedy and the bible. Instead, you'll have your reward based on the category you belong to, and that's what you get. This isn't a paradise of playing with all your dead pets in the clouds, but one of arbitrary categorization which is woefully unprepared to deal with the real complexities of human life, just like, you know, the entire rest of the Comedy. While these things are certainly nice, it does lead to a very important point, that there is such a thing as "want" in Paradise, and therefore restless souls. God's solution to this, of course, is to brainwash anyone who challenges his judgement into becoming his pawn.

Beyond these is the starry heaven of the fixed stars, the eighth sphere, and the crystalline heaven which is the bedrock of the Ptolemaic physical universe, which in Dante's poem both contain absolutely nothing. This is, for a schema of where your soul is supposed to go in the afterlife, is very troublesome, so I've had to come up with something else. In the original, the eighth sphere is nominally for "perfected theological virtues" as opposed to the Inner Spheres which are the homes of defective ones, inconstant faith, selfish hope, and romantic love. What really kills this is, although Dante meets and speaks with three great saints while he is there, no one actually lives there, and no souls are classed as belonging to this sphere at all. In the new scheme, the perfect-imperfect dichotomy which sounds more like something from Purgatory is replaces by a simple-complex dichotomy. Regardless of the perfection of your love, hope, or faith, you end up in the third, second, or first sphere. The eighth sphere is for complex virtue, split into 12 categories, one for each constellation, broken down by cardinal virtue (which if you recall from the last article make up the basic elements of Paradise) and theological virtue, corresponding to the three "kinds" of zodiac signs of which there is one of each element. So you end up with sections for faithful judges, loving scholars, hopeful deniers, etc. These souls, those closest to the angels, are those who specifically furthered the cause of God's conquest of Earth in some manner. While the saints, martyrs, and prophets all seem to fit into this category as well, that's not exactly what I mean. Consider "faithful judges" again. For example, the sign of Leo contains the souls of Pro-Life protesters and terrorists, while Scorpio contains the souls of quiverfulls. The eighth sphere isn't just for religious luminaries, it's for religious complete headcases, those who followed God's word to the letter without question or hesitation. Think of it as Paradise's version of the Malebolge.

In the Primum Mobile, Dante finds... nothing. No souls, no angels, no stars, no nothing. Of course, he can see the angels in the Empyrean as the Primum Mobile itself is completely transparent, but they aren't actually there, and all he sees is their reflection. To fix this, and the Empyrean as well, both are dedicated to virtues which... aren't understood, known, or perhaps even possible for a human to achieve. As such, the ninth sphere is populated only with angels and no human souls at all. It does, however, contain special bodies invisible to the medieval world which are "perfect" for the specific choirs of angels to call their home, being nine in all, each corresponding to a planet unknown in ancient times since, as I just mentioned, they weren't really visible in those days. This includes Uranus, Neptune, Triton (which appears to have been a dwarf planet of its own accord and was pulled into Neptune's orbit later), Pluto, Quaoar, Haumea, Makemake, Eris, and Sedna, where the Seraphims watch over all of creation. Unlike the Primum Mobile, however, there are human souls allowed into the Empyrean, two of them to be precise, both named Mary. One the consort of Yahweh, the other Christ's wife. As you can imagine, a heaven reserved for only those human souls which have had physical relationships with the godhead is a... pretty lonely place. The giant white rose of heaven in which Dante observed the actual souls and not their reflections, is empty as well. In the new version, this rose is reserved for after the events of Revelation, where the 144,000 non-damned souls (from all of human history, I might add) will sit in their specially numbered seat. Efforts have been made to cull the number of entrants to Paradise, and while there are certainly more than 144,000 in there now, none of them are guaranteed this placement for an extended period of time, and almost no one actually gets in anymore, leaving the other two kingdoms of the afterlife unreasonably crowded.

And that's where I'll stop for this article. Maybe next time (if there is one) I'll get into the denizens of these strange worlds, the demons, angels, and other things.



About two and a half years ago I started working on a megawad for ZDoom based on the Divine Comedy of Dante. I don't seem to really have the knack for "good" level design, but the draw of creating living, 3D worlds you could go out and walk around in and check out all the weird and cool stuff going on, coupled with my almost crippling attention to detail got me to figuring that as long as I made what was already there, reverse-engineering the layout of these areas for running around and shooting things would be considerably easier than doing so from scratch. There is also the non-insignificant point that in the year 2012 no one had created an Inferno - JUST the Inferno, mind you, we're not pressing our luck for the other two cantiches - adaptation in DOOM.

You know, the fps game about killing demons. And the most famous and influential piece of literature concerning hell ever written. No one ever thought "hey, why don't I stop dicking around with very 'loosely inspired' bullshit and actually just make a 9-map episode of the circles in Dante's Inferno?" I found the notion to be kind of alarming, especially since in my efforts to dig up just such a wad, I found plenty of discussion on the topic, including a few folks who were adamant that the sequels get adapted as well.

As I worked on and off on this project, my ideas about what it should be and how it should be presented changed radically. You have to understand that my previous mention of Dante's Inferno being the most influential work on the development of the underworld in mythology is not even a little bit of an exaggeration, and because of this there are whole oceans of sequels, adaptations, re-tellings, homages, parodies, satires, you name its been done a thousand plus times. On top of that, the Comedy itself is an enormous catalogue of references to historical and mythological stories, people, places, etc. ranging from ancient Greece to contemporary times. As such, I quickly began to understand, as I actually read the Comedy for the first time, that adapting the afterworlds of Dante wasn't as simple as just a literal reading of the text.

No, the mythology of the Divine Comedy isn't simply an outgrowth of the theological Christian mythos, it's an intricate web of ancient epics, religious "not-quite-canon," and even the earliest attempts at science fiction. In short, what happened is that as my natural need to draw connections followed this web further and further out, I began to lose track of exactly what it was I was trying to do in the first place, adapt Dante's worlds into a 33 (probably 34) level megawad for GZDoom, and NOT write my own meta-mythological cosmology.

But, that was then, this is now. With the news breaking that Godzilla, the greatest mythic hero (or was, I guess, since he's dead) of post-modern times, is going to make his own journey into the underworld, there's no more room for me to back out and hold onto a "purist" version. If I ever want to get this thing finished, I'm going to have to put all my demon ducks in a row right the heck now so I can get to the actual, you know, level-building part of the process. This, and perhaps further articles about this subject, will be essentially me trying to put all my thoughts together. My ideas are still likely to change, but I figure if there's a public record of it, it'll at least feel more "done" and give me less of an itch to go back and re-do everything again for like the sixth time.

My ultimate concept of the way things will work is basically the same, I'm just treating it - for the moment - more generally than I have been. My structure is based on four core "truths" about the world where the action of the DOOM COMMEDIA takes place:

1. DOOM, all the sequels taking place in the original timeline (including DOOM II, Final DOOM, and DOOM 64) are all real and literal as they are originally presented. Doomguy is a real person, from the future, who fought off an "alien" invasion, and yes, those really were demons, and they were literally from hell. Erm, "hell," but more on semantics in a second. In addition, any wad with a story that adds to but doesn't contradict the original events of the timeline, taking place at any time before DOOM 64, may be regarded as "canon" and therefore real as well.

2. The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri is real. His skill set that eventually led his to create his epic poem in the way he did, with the nature of its story being what it is, is inconsequential to the absolute reality of what he experienced. The thing is, the Divine Comedy is written in that way because Dante made it that way, rather Dante was the sole poet in all of history who was granted this experience and vision by virtue of his upbringing, personal experience, taste in poetry, etc. Here we say that none of the Comedy was fabricated as total fiction, and if any part of it doesn't represent the literal truth of what Dante went through that fateful week in 1300, then something made him sincerely believe it was the case. Case in point: most, and probably all, of the account of his journey to Paradise have been completely fabricated based on thoughts inserted into his mind after witnessing the godhead in the Empyrean.

3. Silent Hill 2 is also real, but not in the same "literal" context of the other two works. I'm singling out Silent Hill 2 rather than any of the others because Silent Hill 2 is so far the only story that contains absolutely zero evidence of anything any of the characters experience is physically happening to them in objective reality. Because this was the first game in the series I played, it strongly colored my understanding of its brand of psychological horror as being literally that, the horror of the mind, not of the body. There are no monsters coming for you, there are no psychic witch children, there are no evil cultists summoning outer gods, there is no bullshit fantasy at all. All there is is a very upset individual who has convinced himself that his wife is not dead, and is so wrapped up in his blind faith, that his reality can't disagree with him. The monsters James saw were unique to him, and they obviously weren't "real." I should also mention that in addition to this being a part of my fictional cosmology, it is also real, there are people so tuned into their own blind faith for various reasons - mostly due to mental health issues, but indoctrination can do this to otherwise normal people as well - that they honestly do "see" gods and monsters walking among us. Whether they're the only sane ones and everyone else is crazy and you just need special glasses to see Jesus is a discussion for another time.

4. The real world is real. This might sound like an odd rule but when working from a mythology with a religious interpretation of reality, it's important to put a stake in the ground to hold you to Earth. In this world, it isn't some sort of topsy turvy nonsense where religious nut-jobs were right the whole time and gay people really are keying your car, rather something far more horrifying is true. Science isn't a lie, physics aren't wrong, testable observations haven't suddenly changed overnight since the demonic invasion and despite all the best efforts of "top men" no one who is familiar with the literature has any reason to believe that "souls" are being transferred to this other universe upon death. Publically, these studies bring solace to few. Privately, the "top men" doing this research are scared, and are praying.

But here's the thing: Doomguy, in his umpteen travels to hell to kick some Cybderdemon ass (he has really huge guts, guys) has seen any ancient Greek poets with rocket launchers, any infamous tyrants with spider legs, and that homosexual professor you looked up to in college has never been found in the hellish wastes among the knee-deep demon corpses. As terrified as everyone might be, the evidence really doesn't allow for Dante's hell and DOOM's hell to be one in the same. Hence, because I have both being true, they are not.

Long, long before the modern day popular conflation of the underworld of dead souls and the yawning void of chaos, hell was never intended to be the one singular place where dead souls go to die. It got thinned from the herd in a sort of "mythic Darwinism," but even a quick glance at wikipedia reveals there's a "hell" of a lot of diversity going on. Even in Dante's essentially tri-fold universe, there are certain places, like Limbo and Eden, which really have nothing to do with Hell or Purgatory.

Certainly the second biggest influence the genre of hellish literature would be Paradise Lost, the infamous source of the Satan = Lucifer meme. Milton's universe differs from Dante's in one crucial regard, that Hell is not just outside of Earth, but is a counterpoint to the Empyrean, an opposite land as dark as the 10th heaven is bright. This, in the poem, is Milton's version of Hell, but a Dantean easily recognizes this is an entirely separate concept from Dante's literal underworld altogether.

In the bible itself, the exact nature and number of underworlds is sort of confused. We have a place of fire and torment and a place of fire which purges you of sin, both of which have been referred to as Gehenna, which is a name based on a real place on Earth, renowned for its trash-fires. You have "Sheol," which is not a place but rather the grave, used as an afterlife-esque place name to refer to where the physical body, as opposed to the spiritual one, ends up. You also have the Abyss, which, wouldn't you know it, is exactly the place where God casts Satan and his rebellious angels when they will have been (the tense is a little screwy, since this occurs in the future) cast out of Heaven. This is also where the souls of those damned will be sent after the final judgement. It is not, I need to make clear, necessarily where the damned are suffering now.

In Paradise Lost, the combined Satan/Lucifer character and his lackeys build the kingdom of Hell inside of this vast, cold, dark Abyss. This is the founding of Hell as we know it, and it is here where God sends the souls of anyone who doesn't kiss his ass hard enough. Barlowe's Inferno, a modern work by the suddenly pretty huge but always obscenely talented Wayne Barlowe, follows the Milton cosmology over the Dante one, with an elaboration on the differences between the pre-kingdom wildlife and natural state of the Abyss, and the artificially created cities and infrastructure that make up the actual kingdom of the dead, Hell, which it turns out is pretty obsessed with politics, appropriately enough.

So, my cosmology follows both, since they're not incompatible. The only change that needs to be made is the placement of the "entrance" or w/e to the Abyss. Because Hell is built inside the Abyss, and its entrance must be the polar opposite of the Empyrean's, which is of course outside the 9th crystalline sphere of the heavens, then it could only logically be located at the very core or center of the universe. Piercing the membrane of the heavenly firmament takes you to the light, but going into the black hole at the center of the universe has the opposite effect. In this way we can instantly transport those who travel underground into the inferno to a place technically inside the Abyss, and, likewise, traveling down to the core of Hell and going through it will take you back out.

So, we have a very real, physical universe with demonic creatures with slightly different physical laws who eat very live people, a Hell for dead souls which is built inside of, but separate from it, and the whole universe itself, which is built inside... the Empyrean... but... wait a minute. This is where the Silent Hill 2 stuff comes in.

Sometime after the agricultural revolution and before bronze age proper (not the intermediary copper age), the gods were born. Deities were of course old hat for humans at this stage, but the kind of hyper-codified pantheons of the great bronze age mythologies indicated a paradigm shift in the role mythology played in society, and the specifics of how it operated. Some of these early adopters were possessed of a special kind of blind faith, and these creations became real.

It would have started as nothing more than tall tales, stories of strange creatures lurking on unknown islands, or conspicuous intervention at the utterance of prayers, the same way any legend today would have its beginning. The difference here is that belief = causation. You can sweep the area for prints all you want, but the subjective reality of these stories is, in this universe, the consequence of a real place where legends live which is occasionally capable of showing itself to anyone willing to click their heels three times and believe.

In this alternate universe populated by deified tulpas, there was a group of initial, primordial entities who shaped the world in the image of that of their creators. An alternate Earth, Antichthon, was born in the semblance of what early Mediterranean navigators thought the world looked like. Antichthon was also a primordial being in her own right, and gave birth to a host of chthonian monsters in her womb, the cavernous belly housing the entrance to the Abyss.

The physical nature of this place was a combination of influences from the Empyrean and the Abyss. Light and life giving milk leaked from the heavens, while fire and darkness flowed into the underworld. These rivers of creation are what the building blocks of creation drank from, perverting the natural elements that composed the world into infernal or virtuous equivalents, infrastructures of thought rather than substance. The schema works out something like this:

Natural - Infernal - Virtuous
Fire . . .Pain. . . .Courage
Water. . .Sorrow. . .Wisdom
Earth. . .Corruption.Temperance
Air. . . .Fear. . . .Justice

I've also been trying to figure out the relation to the three theological virtues and the three remaining circles of the Inferno that don't belong (sins based on Aristotle's divisions of evil), and the correlation between heresy and faith is obvious, but I'm not sure where these are supposed to figure in yet. Still, this serves to establish a physical world whose material elements are the very substance of human thought, while at the same time making sense of the very cool monster name "Pain Elemental."

Of course, the old gods are overthrown by their hot headed offspring, as is so often the case, and their bodies were used to construct some of the outer spheres, Saturn, for instance. This may have happened up to three times. Emissaries from the two opposite universes which this odd little place found itself growing between would investigate these chthonian gods to various consequences. By and large, visiting entities from the Abyss were tolerated and even became allies, being given plots of land in Antichthon to rule, thanks to their respect for individual freedom and personal space. On the other hand visiting angels were usually not so well received, as the community of deities wasn't really interested in bowing to one single ruler from another dimension who they'd never even met.

Gradually the infrastructure of Antichthon began to emerge. The surface world was a wild, untamed land of chthonic beasts and demigod sprites, the same could be said of the waters. Across the vast ocean was a collection islands, known as the Hesperides, which was a paradisaical vacation spot for the gods, whose greatest treasure was the great tree Yggdrasil which bore the golden ambrosia, which when eaten imparted the forbidden knowledge of the gods. The Hesperides also contained a tunnel to the underworld, which opened to the surface in many places, which was a dark, gloomy realm where the more abstract gods and a few Abyssal powers divided up land into a sort of city-state system, each governing hordes of creatures born either of Antichthon herself, from the Abyss, or from a union of the two. High in the mountains sat the throne of the king of the gods, of the sky and thunder, in a brilliant city of marble and bronze.

No we come to the matter of Earthly souls. As people from the real world began to witness legendary creatures firsthand, presumably rubbed their eyes and muttered something like "I must be drinking too much," so to did some begin to discover that life... didn't necessarily end after death. Because the world between the physical universes of light and dark was primarily a manifestation of the beliefs of man, the very last bit of brain activity they had would sketch out a dream of what they had imagined the afterlife to be, and in their imagination, they would end up actually going there.

This is a pretty wild concept, so let me try and make it as clear as I can: reality is what we perceive it to be, as we have no other means besides perception with which to understand what is and isn't real. Objective reality,  hard facts, scientifically testable ideas, is something we can compare to other people's experience and by investigating the discrepancies we can learn more about the manner that we perceive things, which in turn helps us uncover objective reality, etc. But what's happening here is that subjective reality isn't "wrong," and it, too, physically exists, even though not everyone can experience it. The mechanism through which this is possible is just that, seeing is believing, so if you see something, it must be true. Because these two ideas are incompatible, the result of the combined "imaginationland" manifests as something totally separate from our universe, yet because we can still see it, that means the power of human thought can open wormholes to other universes. Well... probably just the one.

But of course, that universe itself contains portals to two OTHER totally different universes.

As souls began to make their final journey to the world beyond, at first the powers that be were a little confused, but after some hours were put in, they started figuring out what to do with all these little transparent ghosty fellows. At first they were basically kept out of sight, all of them being herded down into the underworld. As the population grew, it fell upon the sub-kingdoms of the Hades to divide up the souls based on their deeds in life. Soon it became apparent that these beings were capable of immense good and immense evil, and two additional rules were introduced: those who achieved glory or died in battle would remain on the surface, on one of the islands of the Hesperides, and those that were complete monsters or who had offended the gods somehow would be tossed into a special pit called Tartarus, surrounded by three iron walls and a river of flame. The king of this Abyssal land of the wicked dead was the three faced, unofficial lord of the Abyss, Bael, who ruled for a tragically short period of time.

Unlike the Antichthonian divisions, the difference between the Empyrean and the Abyss wasn't exactly moralistic, at least not in human morality. Instead they differed more along the axis of law and chaos. The denizens of the Abyss did as they wished whenever they wished, in a totally naturalistic and bestial manner, acting only on instinct and desire, while the godhead and the angelic host preferred order over all else, anything that could be done must be done in a specific way every time, or else there was no point in doing it. Anything that wasn't "just so" had to go. Another key difference between the two is the topic of individuality. The Abyss is by nature purely individualistic, as any form of community would require acknowledgement of the significance of others, and it's not in their nature to do so, as the only thing Abyssals respect is a display or power. When the gods of Antichthon made it clear that assaults on them were not wise, the visiting Abyssals backed off, and this mutual "respect" has allowed the two to co-exist in a loose union. But God does not negotiate, he is a conqueror, plain and simple. Laws are pointless if there is no one to force them upon, and God does not understand the concept of  "enough." The revelation that there was a world outside of his control elicited shock and horror, and when the chthonic gods failed to bow before him, it was only a matter of time before a violent takeover would begin.

So, what happens why a violent extra-cosmic megalomaniacal entity of cast power forcefully conquers a world which just so happens to contain the lingering thought-ghosts of people who died in the real world? Well... that sounds like a good break point to me.