Spiritual Realm

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Spiritual Realm
Visions of the Future.jpg
Related to Realmatic Theory
Universe Cosmere
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The Spiritual Realm contains an object's soul—its essence—as well as the ways it is connected to the things and people around it.

Shai's description of the Spiritual Realm[1]

The Spiritual Realm is the realm of existence in the cosmere that contains the essence or soul of things. In this Realm, the interconnection between objects, people, and ideals are made apparent.[1]

Everything in the cosmere has a Spiritual aspect, a soul, which represents the idealized form or concept upon which their existence is based.[1] Among sentient creatures, this soul is sometimes described as a spiritweb. Several manifestations of Investiture such as gold Feruchemy and Regrowth can restore a damaged object or person into the ideal form as dictated by the soul.


Space and Time[edit]

He thrust his right hand to the other side, touching something vast, something that wasn’t a place—it was all places in one.

Dalinar grabbing the Spiritual Realm to create Honor's Perpendicularity[2]

The Spiritual Realm is not a place.[3] The Spiritual Realm is made up entirely of Investiture in the form of spiritwebs and the Connections between them.[4][5] As such, time and space are "irrelevant" or "compounded into one" in the Spiritual Realm.[6] This timelessness means that the Spiritual Realm breaks causality, but in a controlled way.[7] Design remarked that time dilation was easier in the Spiritual Realm because time "flows like water into whatever container you provide".[8]

Because time is irrelevant, an object's Connection to its past as well as its future can be observed from the Spiritual Realm.[6] Some beings, like Seers, Moelach, Sak the Aviar, and Shards can peer into the Spiritual Realm to gain insight into the future, though some methods are more likely to be successful than others and even some Shards have difficulty seeing the future.[9][10] It is also possible to see into the past of others via similar means.[11]

Space being compounded means that, unlike the Physical and the Cognitive Realms, the Spiritual Realm has no distinct locations.[12] As a result, "all things are one" in the Spiritual Realm[13] and those with access to the Spiritual Realm, like Shards, can see what is happening on other worlds and can move around the cosmere more easily.[14][13]


A person’s spiritweb, closely related to Spiritual DNA,[15] makes up their presence in the Spiritual Realm. Measuring and quantifying a spiritweb is possible, if difficult, to do.[16] Spiritual DNA can be passed from parent to child like regular DNA.[17] Identical twins can have different Spiritual DNA, however.[18] A person's spiritweb can be damaged either through physical or emotional trauma. This creates "cracks" in the soul. It is easier for Shards to Invest in people who are damaged in this way, as Investiture can enter the soul through these "cracks". This is why Allomancers need to undergo Snapping in order to awaken their powers, and is implied to be the reason why Surgebinders tend to have psychological problems.[19] Spiritwebs can be damaged with weapons like Hemalurgic spikes and Shardblades. Those wounds can then be healed with a graft of Investiture. The healing process does leave a permanent wound on a person's spiritweb.[20] Investing an object or person for a long period of time will warp and change their spiritweb.[21] In humans, this process leads to Savantism.[22]

This spiritual aspect would exist for all thinking beings, including true artificial intelligence, as they would Spiritually and Cognitively operate the same as an organic sapient being.[23][24][25]



Connection is a Spiritual property that describes the relationships between people, objects, and even more abstract concepts.[1] If a person can gain Connection to a region, that Connection will allow them to speak that region's language.[26][27] Gaining Connection to a region does not cause a person to develop that region’s accent, as accents are tied to a person’s Identity, though a person’s Identity can be suppressed to allow a person to gain a region’s accent by Connecting to it.[28] Connection also includes information about bonds between one person and another, such as the Nahel bond.[29] Like Identity, Connection is a crucial part of a person’s existence; being stripped of their Connection at the end of the False Desolation is part of what trapped the singers in slaveform.[30] In order to take up a Shard after a Vessel dies, a person must be Connected to that Shard.[31]


Identity is a Spiritual attribute related to spiritwebs.[32] Each person’s Identity is as unique as their genetic sequence,[33] and is tied to the place where someone is born.[34] Identity is not altered with general damage to the spiritweb. Instead, someone would have to try and do something with Identity specifically.[35] Most magic in the cosmere is keyed to a person’s Identity. Two people both blanking their Identity will almost always allow them to use each other’s Investiture.[36] A lack of Identity will make a person more susceptible to many things in the cosmere, including soulstamps.[37] This does not mean that someone with blank Identity could use any soulstamp, as the soulstamp’s Identity still causes issues.[38] Identity can be very useful in things like healing, though it may occur in a roundabout method.[39]


Fortune is a Spiritual property.[40] Fortune can be used to learn things you would not know otherwise[41] or to see the future.[42] While there are ways to access the Spiritual Realm that do not involve Fortune, every use of Fortune involves the Spiritual Realm.[40]


Be wary of anyone who claims to be able to see the future, Shallan

Hoid's warning to Shallan[43]

Future sight always draws upon the Spiritual Realm to work.[44] Any time someone sees the future, it will have ripples against someone else's ability to do the same.[45] Future sight can be used to gain knowledge of where and when the user needs to be somewhere, and what they need to do.[46][41][47] This ability is not perfect, and can sometimes tell a user where they are supposed to be without the why.[41] Future sight can also alert a user to the presence of certain objects.[48] In general, it's been said to be a highly dangerous ability.[49]

Shards can perceive the future, although it can be difficult for them. Some are better at it than others, with Cultivation and Preservation in particular being noted as particularly excelling.[9][50] Shardic power can also be utilized by others to perceive the future like they do: examples of this are atium, as well as the visions of the Returned.[51]


Vin surrounded by atium shadows

Burning electrum will reveal possible futures of the Allomancer up to several seconds ahead by casting electrum "shadows" of oneself.[52] While burning electrum, the Allomancer's future will not be revealed to enemy Allomancers burning atium. Rather, it will cause the Allomancer's observed atium shadow to split, preventing the enemy Allomancer from predicting one's actions.[53]


Burning gold allows the Allomancer to see a hallucination of who the user could have been, known as a "gold shadow".[52] Touching the gold shadow while burning gold causes unpleasant side effects.[54] Each time an Allomancer burns gold, they see a different image, as it changes depending on their current situation.[55]


Malatium works similarly to gold, albeit showing visions of other people's possible selves rather than the user's. Flaring it via duralumin or death seems to give an Allomancer a glimpse into the Spiritual Realm, allowing them to see a vision of a past event in another person's life by seeing their Connection and their past.[11]


Burning atium allows the Allomancer to see a few seconds into the future by producing atium shadows of everything in sight, which perform future actions. It also expands their mind to be able to accept and process all of the information, even allowing them to dodge incoming attacks from behind. If another Allomancer burning atium is encountered, the atium shadows will split for both Allomancers, since each seeing into the other's future means that they can both make different decisions that affect both. The atium shadow will also split when the opponent is burning electrum. Burning duralumin with atium allows Allomancers to see the ultimate effects of their actions, allowing them to peer into the Spiritual Realm.[56]


Enlightened Truthwatcher

As a result of a Mistspren being corrupted by Sja-anat, Truthwatchers have some ability to see visions of the future; these visions seem to appear similar to stained-glass images. This ability is imperfect, as the events it predicts can fail to occur.[57][58]

Regal Forms of Power

By staying out in the Everstorm, singers are capable of bonding with a voidspren, changing their form, which alters their physical appearance and mental capabilities.[59][60] One Regal form of power is nightform, which allows the user to predict the future.[61]


Moelach is the source of the Death Rattles, visions of the future experienced by some people on Roshar during the final moments of their lives.[62][63] Those experiencing the visions will often speak aloud in their final moments to communicate what they are seeing in the form of cryptic utterances.[64][65]

Other Methods[edit]

Sak showing Sixth of the Dusk visions of his death

Riino has an ability to predict the future, assisted by some sort of shining globe. Whatever the globe is, it isn't a fabrial, as it doesn't feature a gemstone. While Riino himself mentions that utilizing it requires specific training, the globe can grant visions to the uninitiated. It requires that its surroundings be highly Invested, which is why Riino uses it only during a highstorm.[66]


Occasionally, when a person dies, Endowment grants them a glimpse into the Spiritual Realm, letting them see a possible future. She then offers a chance to Return and change the events of the vision.[67][68][69]


Wulfden the Fourth uses some form of magical foresight.[70] The source and extent of his powers are unknown, though it appears to be related to Dominion.[71] The mechanics of his ability are unknown, but parallel to similar skills in the cosmere.[51]


One type of Aviar allows a person it's bonded with to see visions showing their possible deaths in near future (roughly a minute). These visions manifest in the form of an image of the individual's corpse in the area where a death could happen. The Aviar has control over when they share this ability, and with whom, and can see every vision it shares.[72]


Hoid has access to an ability that allows him to make use of the Spiritual attribute of Fortune,[41], which grants him a limited amount of foresight. Hoid's Fortune ability lets him know where and when he needs to be.[46] While this ability may grant him knowledge of what he is to do,[41][47] usually Hoid does not know why his ability has brought him to a specific place.[41] Hoid's Fortune ability is not infallible; occasionally it directs him to go somewhere, but either nothing notable is happening or he is unable to discover the reason why he has been led there.[73]



Ordinarily, most of a Shard’s power exists in the Spiritual Realm,[74] which means they are less constrained by space and time and remain connected to all of the Investiture, even if it is spread out in the Physical Realm.[75][76] Devotion and Dominion are the main exceptions to this, as their Investiture was forcibly pushed from the Spiritual Realm to the Cognitive Realm.[77] If a planet has a Shard in residence, the Shard’s Investiture will naturally seep through to the Physical Realm; Shards can accelerate this process by actively doing things. While Shards can generally move freely, since location has no meaning in the Spiritual Realm, once a Shard’s Investiture is tied to a planet, it is harder for the Shard to do so.[13]

When a new Vessel Ascends, they gain some innate understanding of the Spiritual Realm.[74][78] Because even a Vessel’s mind is not infinite, however, they do not have a perfect view of the Spiritual Realm.[75][78] Because the Shards exist primarily in the Spiritual Realm, they can see possible futures, though the further they look into the future, the harder it becomes to interpret those possibilities.[79][9] Some Shards are better at this than others. For example, Preservation, who was able to make prophecies about events thousands of years in advance, appears to be one of the better ones,[50] Cultivation is better than Honor,[9] and Ruin has little skill in this area.[80]

Potential Other Inhabitants[edit]

Very few beings exist solely in the Spiritual Realm. It is possible for physical beings to travel to the Spiritual Realm, but the results are weird.[81] Elend Venture, burning both atium and duralumin, managed to travel mostly to the Spiritual Realm.[74] While there, Elend saw “a mind-numbing wealth of information,” including Leras’s plan for Ati’s death.[82] Flaring one of the temporal metals at the moment of one’s death can also provide a glimpse of the Spiritual Realm.[11] Shards can also give people a glimpse of the Spiritual Realm, generally via eye contact with the Vessel; Leras shows Kelsier the Connection between everything and the possible futures[79] and Odium shows Dalinar the complete nature of his Shard.[83] Visions, such as the ones Honor left for potential Bondsmiths, almost always involved being pulled partially into the Spiritual Realm, with an additional "Cognitive framework" that allows people to understand them.[84] Traveling to the Spiritual Realm can be extremely dangerous for people, as it has the potential to break their brain.[85]

There are factions of some kind in the Spiritual Realm,[86] as well as native inhabitants.[87]



Well before the year 1173, the Rosharan scholar Gavarah proposed the existence of the three Realms.[88] That theory seems to be well accepted among modern Rosharan scholars, who are aware that the Spiritual Realm is a place of pure truth but that the Cognitive Realm is more flexible.[89] The spren are also aware of the three realms and know that the Shards live in the Spiritual Realm.[90] At least two religions on Roshar include the Spiritual Realm in their doctrine. Vorinism equates the Spiritual Realm with the Tranquiline Halls[91][92] and the One teaches that the Spiritual Realm is the same as the Beyond.[10]


Scadrial at large first became aware of the three realms when Sazed mentioned their existence in the Words of Founding.[93] As of 342 PC, the people of the Elendel Basin have just begun learning about the properties of the Spiritual Realm, mostly by investigating the Feruchemical metals that can store Spiritual properties.[94] The kandra, Terris, and Set are the primary groups involved in this research and have all done their best to keep it quiet.[94][95][96] The Basin's newly-founded relationship with the Southern Scadrians, however, may soon make knowledge of the Spiritual Realm more widespread in the Basin.[97]

The Southern Scadrians likely learned what they know of Realmatic Theory from Kelsier. While Kelsier only gave them unsealed brassminds, they knew enough to reverse-engineer the process and are able to create unsealed metalminds for all abilities in the Metallic Arts. They also know how to make unsealed metalminds that grant two or three abilities, but all attempts to create ones that grant four abilities have failed.[98]


The MaiPon learned about the Spiritual Realm in order to understand how Forgery works and are aware that it contains a thing's Identity and Connection, though they may not use those words.[1]



  1. a b c d e The Emperor's Soul - Day 12#
  2. Oathbringer chapter 119#
  3. Skyward San Francisco signing
    Arcanum - 2018-11-08#
  4. Oathbringer London signing
    Arcanum - 2017-11-28#
  5. Emerald City Comic Con 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-03-01#
  6. a b Shadows of Self release party
    Arcanum - 2015-10-05#
  7. Emerald City Comic Con 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-03-01#
  8. Yumi and the Nightmare Painter chapter 32#
  9. a b c d The Way of Kings chapter 75#
  10. a b Arcanum Unbounded release party
    Arcanum - 2016-11-22#
  11. a b c Mistborn: Secret History part 1 chapter 1#
  12. Calamity Seattle signing
    Arcanum - 2016-02-17#
  13. a b c Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2016-12-06#
  14. Calamity San Antonio signing
    Arcanum - 2016-02-26#
  15. Firefight Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2015-02-20#
  16. General Reddit 2019
    Arcanum - 2019-11-27#
  17. Ancient 17S Q&A
    Arcanum - 2010-05-01#
  18. Ancient Lunch Q&A
    Arcanum - 2010-07-31#
  19. Shadows of Self Boston signing
    Arcanum - 2015-10-14#
  20. Firefight signing Chicago
    Arcanum - 2015-02-20#
  21. OdysseyCon 2016
    Arcanum - 2016-04-08#
  22. Salt Lake City signing
    Arcanum - 2014-03-29#
  23. The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson
    Arcanum - 2018-10-25#
  24. Skyward Seattle signing
    Arcanum - 2018-11-10#
  25. Dragonsteel 2022
    Arcanum - 2022-11-14#
  26. The Bands of Mourning chapter 22#
  27. Oathbringer chapter 65#
  28. Arcanum Unbounded signing Fort Collins
    Arcanum - 2016-11-29#
  29. White Sand vol.1 Orem signing
    Arcanum - 2016-06-29#
  30. Oathbringer chapter 17#
  31. Mistborn: Secret History part 5 chapter 2#
  32. Orem signing
    Arcanum - 2018-03-10#
  33. Worldbuilders AMA
    Arcanum - 2015-12-09#
  34. /r/fantasy AMA 2013
    Arcanum - 2013-04-15#
  35. Orem signing
    Arcanum - 2018-03-10#
  36. Arcanum Unbounded release party
    Arcanum - 2016-11-22#
  37. /r/books AMA 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-07-14#
  38. Orem signing
    Arcanum - 2018-03-10#
  39. Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing
    Arcanum - 2014-03-21#
  40. a b MisCon 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-05-26#
  41. a b c d e f Arcanum Unbounded Fort Collins signing
    Arcanum - 2016-11-29#
  42. Oathbringer Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2017-11-21#
  43. Oathbringer chapter 68#
  44. Oathbringer release party
    Arcanum - 2017-11-13#
  45. Skyward Seattle signing
    Arcanum - 2018-11-10#
  46. a b Alloy of Law release party
    Arcanum - 2011-11-07#
  47. a b Calamity San Antonio signing
    Arcanum - 2016-02-26#
  48. Arcanum Unbounded San Francisco signing
    Arcanum - 2016-11-30#
  49. Salt Lake City signing
    Arcanum - 2017-12-16#
  50. a b Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide
    Arcanum - 2008-10-15#
  51. a b Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson
    Arcanum - 2011-01-10#
  52. a b The Alloy of Law Ars Arcanum#
  53. The Hero of Ages chapter 3#
  54. The Final Empire chapter 37#
  55. Alloy of Law London signing
    Arcanum - 2011-11-19#
  56. /r/books AMA 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-08-01#
  57. Oathbringer chapter 118#
  58. Oathbringer Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2017-11-21#
  59. Oathbringer interlude I-6#
  60. Salt Lake City signing 2012
    Arcanum - 2012-11-06#
  61. Words of Radiance chapter 23 epigraph#
  62. Words of Radiance interlude I-14#
  63. Oathbringer chapter 103 epigraph#
  64. Words of Radiance chapter 82 epigraph#
  65. The Way of Kings chapter 71#
  66. Oathbringer chapter 97#
  67. Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A
    Arcanum - 2009-07-08#
  68. JordanCon 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-04-21#
  69. JordanCon 2016
    Arcanum - 2016-04-23#
  70. Elantris Annotations
    Arcanum - 2006-05-09#
  71. A Memory of Light Milford Signing
    Arcanum - 2013-02-16#
  72. Sixth of the Dusk#
  73. Words of Radiance San Diego signing
    Arcanum - 2014-03-04#
  74. a b c Shadows of Self Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2015-10-12#
  75. a b Oathbringer London signing
    Arcanum - 2017-11-28#
  76. /r/Cosmere
    Arcanum - 2018-03-18#
  77. Arcanum Unbounded - The Selish System#
  78. a b Shadows of Self Portland signing
    Arcanum - 2015-10-10#
  79. a b Mistborn: Secret History part 3 chapter 3#
  80. 17th Shard Forum Q&A
    Arcanum - 2012-09-28#
  81. American Fork High School Signing
    Arcanum - 2019-12-12#
  82. The Hero of Ages chapter 81#
  83. Oathbringer chapter 57#
  84. JordanCon 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-04-22#
  85. OdysseyCon 2016
    Arcanum - 2016-04-08#
  86. Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing
    Arcanum - 2014-03-20#
  87. Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing
    Arcanum - 2014-03-20#
  88. The Way of Kings chapter 29#
  89. Words of Radiance chapter 24#
  90. Oathbringer chapter 93#
  91. The Way of Kings chapter 16#
  92. The Way of Kings interlude I-8#
  93. The Hero of Ages chapter 57 epigraph#
  94. a b The Bands of Mourning chapter 3#
  95. The Bands of Mourning Ars Arcanum#
  96. The Bands of Mourning chapter 17#
  97. The Bands of Mourning chapter 31#
  98. The Bands of Mourning chapter 21#
  99. Boskone 54
    Arcanum - 2017-02-18#
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