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The spirit world is the home of spirits and archetypes, little gods, ancestors, totems, elementals, angels (when they're not in Heaven) and demons (when they're not in Hell), embodied ideas and a symbolical mindscape. It can get quite crowded if All Myths Are True, but fear not, the setting's metaphysics will be usually more restrained than that.

Sometimes characters can reach it when they have an out-of-body experience, when they enter in a trance (with or without drugs) or when they use shamanistic magic or Psychic Powers to project themselves into the astral plane. They can go there to meet their Spirit Advisor, increase their power, go on a spirit quest, learn invaluable information and get cryptic advice. Well advised characters are often warned not to eat or drink anything while they're there.


Any depiction of the spirit world is sure to feature some level of Mind Screw and Rule of Symbolism, run high on Motifs and be under the sign of Absurdity Ascendant.

Compare with the Dream Land and Journey to the Center of the Mind. Not to be confused with Dark World. See also Magical Underpinnings of Reality.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Amatsuki, although it's ambiguous as to whether it's all an illusion. Or perhaps even an illusion within a dream.
  • Berserk features five different planes, whereof one is the classic spiritual plane. This picture explains it better.
  • In Bleach the plot is dominated by the two warring spirit worlds: Soul Society, home of the Soul Reapers and Hueco Mundo, stronghold of the Hollows. There exist three other spirit worlds of differing importance. One is the Palace Dimension of the Spirit King, ruler of Soul Society, that only Squad Zero and the Captain-Commander can access. The second is Hell, the destination of any spirit that has committed heinous acts before their death. The third is the Schatten Bereich, the hidden dimension where the Vandenreich resides.
  • The oft-referenced "C's World" from Code Geass; when Lelouch is sent there by C.C. in the second season, he finds himself inside her memories, represented as a gallery full of floating paintings and overseen by a spirit guide version of herself in black clothes.
  • Death Note: The shinigami realm is similar to this, except that no human character ever enters it and it's darker than most examples of this.
  • The Dragon Ball franchise has what is usually translated as "the Other World." It includes Heaven, Hell, and the places in between where all sorts of spirits, gods, and otherworldly bureaucrats spend their time. The spirit world even has a spirit world of its own, the Kaioshin Realm, a place too holy even for residents of the spirit world. There's also a demon realm somewhere.
  • Kamichu! has one of these. It looks like an Edo-period city, and is populated by various Shinto critters. Under certain circumstances, similar critters can be found operating the underpinnings of our perceived world as well.
  • Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit: Nayug is the companion of Sagu, which is the mortal realm. At times, the two overlap while, at others, they can be light years apart. The only way to see it, or physically enter it, is by drinking the sap of a Sig Salua blossom. Nayug seems very alien but magnificent to cast and viewers.
  • In The Morose Mononokean, there is the Underworld, a place inhabited only by youkai. Youkai can live in the human world as well, but if they are weak enough, the strain of it can cause them to disappear.
  • Spirited Away has a protagonist who gets trapped in such a setting.
  • Tsukipro The Animation 2 has the Tsukino Hyakki Yakou spirit-world Yōkai versions of the characters appear in episodes 5-7. In the last of those three, four of the idol characters come close to meeting their spirit-world alternate selves, and they get to see the supernaturally majestic fox spirit versions of Hajime and Shun performing a dance at the festival, though they return to the human world unaware of what they witnessed.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! and its sequel series feature worlds where Duel Monsters are real. GX reveals that there's a grand total of twelve separate dimensions populated by real Duel Monsters.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Fiction 
  • In Megaman Star Force Orion, Amaya Takeshi is sent to the spirit world in a couple of scenes to regroup. In both of those instances, he gets a pep talk from Yusuke from YuYu Hakusho, and Excel from Excel Saga returns Amaya to his home world.
  • Betwixt the Black Curtain, a Big Hero 6 fan fiction, is all about Tadashi's undead life after he dies and watches over his brother as a ghost.
  • In the Pony POV Series, the Spirit World is the dwelling place of the Concepts. Spirits who have not yet moved on to Heaven or Hell also dwell here until they move on due to Unfinished Business. Demi-Gods are unique in that they're able to travel freely between the two words at will.
  • Final Stand of Death has a version of this for the 'fallen' folks of Celebrity Deathmatch despite being called heaven at times. Angels can also be upgraded to become cyborgs.
  • In The Domino City Effect, the main character Vivian Willow is, somehow, able to access the Duel Monsters Spirit World through her dreams, able to interact with the monsters there for a few brief moments, so far anyway, and is even able to bring monsters that belong to different eras into her world as trading cards, though currently, it is unknown how she does so.

  • The Seventh Tower has the spirit world of Aenir.
  • In American Gods it's known as "backstage".
  • The Astral Plane is the spirit world in Astral Dawn.
  • The Other Place in The Bartimaeus Trilogy, which we finally get to see in book three, Ptolemy's Gate.
  • City of Bones by Martha Wells: Scholars believe "the West" to refer to the land of the dead, its "Inhabitants". It turns out to be Another Dimension full of malevolent spirits, which the Ancients went to ruinous lengths to hold at bay from the human world.
  • The Cosmere: There are three Realms: The Physical Realm (the "real" world), the Cognitive Realm (the world of ideas), and the Spiritual Realm (the world of ideals). The Cognitive Realm is the one that receives the most attention; on Roshar, it is called Shadesmar, and is where the spren, living ideas, make their cities. Due to the odd way distance works in the Cognitive Realm, it is the primary method of traveling between planets; only locations with a high concentration of thinking beings have a presence in the Cognitive Realm, meaning outer space has zero presence in the Cognitive Realm. It is therefore perfectly possible to walk from one world to another.
  • Dunmanifestin in Discworld acts as a Spirit World in that the gods all live there.
  • The Nevernever from The Dresden Files, suspiciously similar to the Umbra. It contains Faerie, the realms of various demons and Eldritch Abominations, Hades, and possibly heaven and hell to boot, at least as the places that angels and demons come from. In terms of size, it doesn't have a 1:1 relationship with Earth. In size, it is to Australia what Earth is to the Rhode islandnote . In fact, opening a portal on Earth at a different time of the day can change the location one ends up in.
  • The gods of Nehwon (home of Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser) live in a Spirit World.
  • In Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus! cycle of books, particularly Masks of the Illuminati, the idea of a separate realm outside normal space-time is frequently referred to. An Irish fisherman blacking out under torture experiences the "crazy-space". A man near death sees his parents and others; an imaginative rich man being initiated into ritual magic experiences it as the Astral Plane. Wilson dismisses it as the Realm of Thud And Strange Imaginings, ruled over by Maya, Lord of Illusion, who bestows vivid but meaningless dreams to prevent men from walking up to Reality. Yesod (see below) is referenced.
  • Island's End: With concentration, Uido can enter the Otherworld, where the gods Biliku-waye and Pulug-ame live and can give her advice.
  • According to Book 1 of MARZENA, the surface of the brain, Cortex Land, can be understood as some kind of dreamworld where one can navigate through either a world of pure context (right hemisphere) or pure content (left hemisphere). Both worlds are inhabited by "biological holograms" the biological equivalent of digital holograms (those pictures of people in your head) which can considered as spirits. Sometimes a spirit goes into the deeper levels of Cortex Land to become a Thalamic Wizard, and then the spirit becomes a self-aware consciousness.
  • In the Nasuverse, this is just another layer on top of the "physical" world — the only things that humans can interact with would be those with enough power to physical manifest (eg. True Ancestors). Humans with supernatural perception can see a bit more than the Muggles.
  • The Veil, Spirit Space or the Astral Plane in Phaeton is a plane inhabited by astrans, reapers, spirits and ghosts. Some DP Is can access it on their own others have to die. Everyone passes through it as somepoint and can't leave until they are resurrected or reaped, unless they make it there via powers in which case it is generally easy to get out.
  • In The Tygrine Cat, the realm of Fiåney is accessed through Astral Projection. Described as a dark maze where only one's "sixth sense", not the normal five, is truly effective, it is primarily used for meeting with Spirit Advisors. If one becomes lost in Fiåney, it is possible to be permanently trapped. In the second book, it is revealed that Heaven, the endless desert where life was first created, and the Primordial Chaos from the beginning of the universe are all contained in Pocket Dimensions within it.
  • In The White Rabbit Chronicles, the zombies exist in a spiritual realm and this is the only place they can be killed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer went on a spirit quest during Season 5 to meet the First Slayer.
  • An episode of Northern Exposure saw Ed visiting a trailer park full of personal demons (Codependency is arguing with his wife, External Validation has a huge fancy car, etc.)

     Folklore, Mythology, Occultism, Religion 
  • In the Bible, St Paul writes about a man taken out of his body and unto the Third Heaven, wherein he saw things inexpressible in everyday comprehension and of which it may be forbidden to speak. (Second Corinthians 12:2-5) Scholarly opinion is divided as to whether the saint genuinely was talking about another guy, or about himself, using the third person.
  • In the Jewish mystical system, the Kabballah, Yesod is the sphere of being governed by the Moon, and is the plane of existence immediately above the material Malkuth plane of Earth which is where we abide. Yesod is the plane of insubstantiality, deception, wild imaginings and distracting visions - this is where dreams and nightmares happen. The task for the explorer is to become aware this is the plane of illusion and to move beyond it to the higher planes, where genuine insight and wisdom may be gleaned from visions.
  • This is the place that holy people in indigenous societies seek to be in touch with. ("Shaman" is the Manchu-Tungus word for such a person, and every culture that has them has a different word for it.)

    Tabletop Games 

  • The Tsukino Hyakki Yakou stage plays. The spirit world can be reached by anyone, even normal humans, on special moonlit nights through the Tsukino Shrine. Natsu Yume Matsuri features human characters meeting the spirit world Yōkai versions of the main cast; Kurenai Enishi and Seibou no Kanata feature some of the main cast meeting spirit-world versions of their friends; and Tengoku features a story set entirely in the spirit world, with a conflict between humanoid-gods and fox-gods.

    Video Games 
  • In Bayonetta, the world is divided in a "trinity of realities", which includes the realms of light (Paradiso), dark Inferno) and chaos (our world). The neutral ground between these is Purgatorio, basically our world but through a spiritual lenses: whoever is here can't be seen by normal people (though they can affect the normal world just the same), and it is here that the witches and sages interact with the demons and angels, respectively. With it being possibly also the only way to normally access the other realms, it is basically the hub of everything supernatural in the games.
  • Dragon Age has The Fade, where demons and other spirits rule. The spirits of earthly humans and elves go there in dreams. Mages can also enter The Fade using special rituals, but must be wary against demonic possession. While souls can be trapped in The Fade beyond death by particularly powerful spirits or demons, the dead do not generally go there. Not even the spirits know what lies beyond, though many, perhaps because their kind subsides on the positive (or in the case of demons negative) thoughts and emotions of mortals, believe in the god(s) of mortal religions. The Chantry teaches the Maker made his home in the Fade in the Golden City which acted as a Heaven for the faithful, and that the creation of the Darkspawn was the result of corrupt mages trying to literally storm heaven and turning the Golden City into the Black City. This is what the Chantry believes, anyway. In the Legacy DLC for Dragon Age II Hawke meets one of the original Magisters who committed the deed and became one of the first Darkspawn. He mentions trying to steal the power of "the gods" on the advice/orders of the dragon he served and implies that the City was already tainted when he entered it.
  • The Elder Scrolls series has several flavors of this trope. To note:
    • Aetherius is the realm of magic and is sometimes referred to as the "Immortal Plane", in contrast to Mundus, the mortal plane. It is thought to be the origin of the et'Ada, or "original spirits", who would go on to become the series' various deities. Most Tamriellic religions teach that, unless a soul is bound to the mortal world or claimed by another deity (such as a Daedric Prince), the souls of the deceased continue to live on in this realm as spirits. Magnus and the Magna-Ge ("Star Orphans"), et'Ada who abandoned the creation of Mundus after realizing how much of their divine power/very beings it would take, fled to Aetherius, punching holes in reality that would become the sun and stars. Magic is said to flow these holes into Mundus, allowing it to be used by mortals. It is possible for mortals to travel here, though it requires great effort. During the last 1st Era, the Reman Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion were in a "space race" to survey and claim parts of Aetherius. The efforts left the Empire with the Royal Imperial Mananauts.
    • Oblivion is the "infinite void" surrounding Mundus. The Daedric Princes make their home here, each having their own plane of Oblivion that is also part of their very being. There are said to be countless other realms of Oblivion as well, large and small, ruled by different beings or existing in pure chaotic states. Mortals who pledged themselves into the service of a specific Daedric Prince can have their souls claimed by the Prince in question. Their soul goes to the Prince's realm where they will serve the Prince for eternity. Souls can end up in one of the planes of Oblivion involuntarily as well, such as if they are slain by a specific weapon or die while afflicted by a certain disease.
    • The Soul Cairn is one of the planes of Oblivion, created and ruled by the Ideal Masters, formerly mortal sorcerers who entered Oblivion as Energy Beings through an unknown means. The Ideal Masters are most infamous for their trafficking in souls, especially "Black" sapient souls. All souls trapped in soul gems end up in the Soul Cairn and are considered property of the Ideal Masters. The Soul Cairn thus serves as an eternal prison to these souls, being damned to walk its desolate path for eternity. The Masters themselves see this as a blessing, seeing it as a place of eternal peace that removes souls from the Vicious Cycle of death and rebirth.
  • The Shrine of Farewell from Hellsinker is an unusual take on this trope. The best way to describe is as an spiritual dump where heroes considered unworthy of preservation and generally stuff no-one wants anything to do with end up.
  • Jade Empire has multiple heavens and other spirit realms.
  • In Kult: Heretic Kingdoms, the protagonist (and other mages) can transition at will between the normal world and the Dreamworld, which is full of spirits and other weird things. Typically, mages can only stay there for a limited amount of time, although an optional Attunement exists which changes this. The landscape of each world is much the same, but many impermanent things (including most characters and enemies) exist only in one of the two worlds, and you can walk right past things by being in the wrong world to see them — as such, the game advises players to check the Dreamworld from time to time. (You may, for example, stumble on werewolf spies lurking in Corwenth's war camp, invisible to all the soldiers).
  • Link can visit them in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. They are known as "Silent Realms" and are pretty dang creepy areas where pretty much everything is hostile (this isn't to say the Zeldaverse spirits are an inherently hostile bunch, these particular spirits are testing Link). It's probable that the Silent Realms are parts of the Sacred Realm, the original resting place of the Triforce, because the place the Triforce is found looks and behaves exactly the same, except for the psychotic guardians. The Sacred Realm appears in many Zelda games, but it's usually a Dark World due to Ganon's influence.
  • Magical Diary has The Other World, home to all manner of supernatural beings.
  • In MARDEK, dead spirits go to an afterlife similar to the Dreamrealm, but this time they're in control of the dream. As such, there are a number of "necropolises" there, composed of the collective expectations of various religions, etc. Also, guilty souls get to spend some time in the Anti-life until they come to terms with themselves, and virtuous souls have the option of becoming one with ARIENDEEN, the god of light.
  • Prey (2006) uses this as a plot element. After protagonist Tommy's grandfather dies, and Tommy himself has a near-death experience, he's pulled into the Spirit World to meet his grandfather again and learn how to spirit-walk.
  • In Tak and the Power of Juju, one of the levels is a spirit world that Tak has to traverse in order to find the spirit of Lok so that he can be resurrected.

    Web Comics 
  • The spiritual plane is where ancient spirits come from and generally reside in Circumstances of the Revenant Braves when they aren't in a pact with a human. However, no human characters have journeyed there . . . yet.
  • The astral plane of Concession has been compared to the internet, locations within it seem to be created by the spiritually aware. And considering that most of the time it's shown so that the Villain Protagonist can Mind Rape someone.
  • In Corner The Maze, the spirits of dreamers and the dead alike can be found wandering the Maze. It exists in a separate time and plane from the mortal realms.
  • In El Goonish Shive, the spiritual plane is an ephemeral plane of existence parallel to the main universe. The beings known as Immortals live in it and normally it, everybody and everything on it is invisible and intangible to denizens of the physical plane. However, those on the spiritual plane can see and hear the physical plane and interact with those on it magically such as through their emotions. What the spiritual plane is not is a place for the dead; neither heaven nor hell nor the spirits of dead characters have been seen there.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court has The Aether or The Etherium, which seems to be the same thing. Magic-using individuals can see there, with non-etheric objects becoming grey and powerful beings and objects remaining or becoming colourful and bright. In the Foley house (Gillitie Wood emigrants in mostly human bodies) the lesson appears to be the whole class rapid-typing the equations of orbital mechanics — for a mundane sight. But then Annie realizes if these students are this diligent for longer than ten seconds, there's something wrong and takes a look... and the ether-class looks like a merry out-of-body playground, and they all waited for her to figure it out and join.
  • In Sluggy Freelance the Main Characters go to one of these in the Story Arc "A Time for Hair-Raising."

    Western Animation 
  • The Spirit World in Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra is a classic example. It is a physical world unto itself, though it's generally far stranger than the material world, and has some downright Eldritch and trippy locations where distances are variable and laws such as gravity don't quite apply. The spirits themselves show up in various animal or even plant forms, but are clearly intelligent and varied individuals. Strangely, several of these spirits take the form of regular animals like pandas with the occasional Talking Animal in the mix while the "real" world mostly has Mix-and-Match Critters.
    • Occasionally, spirits will cross over to the material world, and a few have even made it their permanent home. Humans, in turn, can enter the spirit world via Astral Projection through meditation. (For example, if you know where you're going, you can literally stand still and have the world move until your destination arrives.) The Avatar can do this to speak with their past lives. Bending the elements while in spirit form is impossible, however, and no human has been able to physically cross over for 10,000 years: The portals at the north and south poles were sealed by the first Avatar in order to prevent war between humans and spirits, and to keep Big Bad Vaatu from escaping his prison. In Book Two, Korra's uncle forces her to open them, but after his defeat, she allows them to remain open, heralding a new age for humans and spirits. A third spirit portal is created by the explosion of a massive spirit weapon in Republic City in the series finale, making a new spirit age more likely..
  • The Neitherworld in Beetlejuice is expanded as this. In the movie it was just the afterlife, in the show is home not only of ghosts of people, but also of all kind of different monsters including giant spiders, skeletons, vampires, witches and whatever is the Monster Across the Street.
  • Several episodes of The Real Ghostbusters deal with "spirit worlds" (yes, in plural). Some of the many dimensions that appeared in the series inhabited by spirits include a Bermuda Triangle expy in "Venkman's Ghost Repellers", the genie’s origin dimension in "Janine’s Genie", a Mirror Universe inhabited by ghost versions of humans in "Flip Side", etc. Besides, the Containment Unity has turn into a spirit world on tis own as shown in episode "X-Mas Marks the Spot".