The below is written in character. If you’d like to see a certain topic in the universe of the comic addressed, please drop me a note here or on my twitter account.
Editorial was pleased with the the interest generated by my entry on Nudriks and they’ve awarded me a small research stipend to focus on these sorts of entries. These are, of course, supplemental to my current duties as a researcher for Galactipedia, but it is a sign that maybe the injection of a little personality can help in contextualizing our larger universe for us all. A few of my colleagues have expressed interest in contributing to this project, but I would prefer to keep it to just myself for as long as possible, it’s not often I have this sort of authority and influence and I would be best served laying down foundations before I let others into the playground.
Silver Spiral Field Notes: #002 Cycle of Spirits
The Cycle of Spirits is possibly the most important of the holidays that exist in the Silver Spiral and is widely celebrated among all modern cultures of the known galaxy. Oddly, the origins of the holiday are hard to trace, but given the nature of the holiday and the age of it, many theorize that the Terrekin (as usual) were responsible for the early spread of the holiday in its earliest forms. Any holiday can change and recontextualize itself over time, and the Cycle of Spirits is a prime example of how a larger galactic stage can affect traditions.
Contextually, the Cycle of Spirits fits in nicely with the galactic calendar concept of thirds, and is a sister holiday to both The Emergence, and the Feast of Perseverance, which each correspond to their own thirds of the galactic calendar as established by the Grand Galactic Alliance in the early stages. Even though the Dividing War had split the Alliance into the three distinct governments seen today, the holiday remains popular. The Cycle of Spirits falls within the final third of the calendar, equating it to death or fading in a life cycle, just as the former two thirds refer to birth and life accordingly. As such, the holiday carries (a certain aura of, well… not quite gloom… but more of [Remove this? -MT]) an awareness of one’s mortality and the finite aspects of existence. More to the point, there is also a greater awareness of the possibility of a form of life after death, as the week in which the Cycle of Spirits occurs seems to correspond with anecdotes and evidence of a potential veil between phases of existence being diminished, which of course is all nonsense to most rational individuals. Regardless, though, there is a feeling of comradery with the deceased that seems to be most strongly felt during this holiday. Officially across the Federation, Empire, and Neutrality, it is a week of remembrance and tribute that seems to have been adopted by nearly all cultures.
Each culture in our galaxy could very well have their own article concerning CoS traditions, but there are a number of traditions that seem practically universal over the past few hundred years, particularly in an era where colonization is so clearly on the mind of galactic society. It is this colonization boom that was responsible for the most recent of CoS traditions. Though not practiced everywhere, over the last couple of centuries there has been a widespread tradition of painting helmets with colorful designs or faces and leaving them on display outside of residences during the week. These helmets are generally said to provide respite for the doomed souls of colonists who died in the ever expanding colonization of our galaxy. The importance of the helmet when it comes to space travel can not be understated; the simple helmet is the symbol of space travel… not the rocket or star-ship. When all is said and done, the helmet is the last respite against the void and cold of space, and while it may not save your life, it gives you a few precious minutes to stave off death. (Maybe too morose? I’m not writing about the relationship between death and colonization. -MT)
(Skipping to another section -MT) Beyond serving as spirit wards, many also wear the decorated helmets as a form of solidarity, for lack of a better term, with the spirits of deceased space explorers. For children these helmets are often worn as they travel from home to home each night of the week for treats, which of course strikes this writer as a more roundabout method of tribute to those lost souls. There are also traditions of costumed parties, horror tales, horror media marathons, and exploration of reputedly haunted locations. A particularly en vogue activity as of late includes seances to contact the supposed spirit world, although any reported contact is likely simple technological and psychological trickery. As for myself, I do take an interest in the rather charming jelly-filled skull-cookies and I have been known to engage in a good round of ghost stories whenever possible. Naturally, this tradition often introduces a new story concerning the spirit known as Shatterhelm.
Existing nearly as long as the tradition of the helmets is the folk story of Shatterhelm, a reputedly sinister spirit of a doomed explorer who has been spotted around the galaxy. Typically his appearance seems to forecast some form of doom that may befall spacers, and many near misses or tragic accidents have been reported where Shatterhelm has appeared to those involved. Shatterhelm is typically described a desiccated, glowing, Terran (Human? Do they prefer that?) corpse wearing an ancient space suit and a shattered helmet, hence the name. While your’s truly finds the concept laughable, one does feel a chill running down their spine when they read or hear about encounters with the spirit. I ask though, is that not the goal of any good ghost story?
(Note to self; Check with editorial. Shatterhelm entry with some of the more common tales? -MT)
Note to editorial; Specific entries for certain cultural practices during CoS? Cyclopasian perspective could be fascinating.)