I have a couple of questions here.
First, we know that humans have two souls, upper and lower, one of which is animal and mortal, the other human, reincarnating, and immortal, to an extent. What is the nature of the souls of animals, gods and elementals, Primordials, and so forth? What about Dragon Kings?
Second, what is the real nature of Exaltation? We know that it is the seed of a god's power linked to a mortal host; how does it work? - willows
Well, according to Abyssals, the seed gets attached to the po or animal soul. I have my own theory on this to a degree. The po is more resilient and not quite as... prone to being broken. It's what keeps the body alive. I think it's sort of the primal survival instincts and what keeps the body running. In Lunars, this particular purpose is increased, enhanced. Actually... thinking on it, the lower soul probably has more to it, I think it's not just a place for the spark to "make a nest" but think it actually changes the po. Just a theory, but maybe it's the interaction of spark/po and hun that makes the Great Curse work. - haren
This is a theory I posted on rpgnet:
I see the Exaltations as something like permanently-disembodied, semisentient Pattern Spiders who essentally contain these things: one Charm, which permits them to Exalt (i.e., an advanced form of posession) an individual, a memory repository, and a selection program. Since they are, at the same time, a fragment of godbody, they are able to give little "pep talks", classically at the moment of Exaltation (probably in order to distract from the odd sensation of having a third, alien soul fuse with your own).
They're propelled by programming, and no one's got access anymore to recode them (except maybe the Deathlords, who can override or decieve the selection routine via a Monstrance of Celestial Portion, and the Yozis have figured out how to create add-ons for the Exaltation; Infernals are the classic example of this, but so is the GCurse). Knowing the Exalted, it's they who can, someday, crack the Exaltation code, and by doing so, change the selection routine, set up new access points for the memory repository, and so forth.
That will be dark day, unless they cut the Curse out too.
Sidereals discusses this to a certain degree. A highersoul/exaltsoul is a soul and not a spirit. It has no sentience of its own, but its rather guided by the nature and wishes of its god (though some gods take personal intrest). The god of Exaltation, Lytek, gives the highersouls a multiplechoice from which the highersoul chooses where to manifest. This choosing is not done as a sentient action but rather by following the 'feeling' and 'intent' of the god who is responsible for the existence of the highersoul - sometimes, the god itself pinpoints the target to-be-exalted, but it is probably without exception always one out of the many that Lytek has chosen to be worthy. The highersoul gets attached to the Po, because the Po is what makes the Hun-body mortal - with a highersoul attached the circle is complete and is capable of immortality in itself where as an unmodified Po+Hun is not.
Next, I'll cross a bridge that I dont want to cross because it might fill hearts with discord and cause my name to be cursed forever: Animals don't have a soul in the same respect. Animals only have a Po-soul and no Hun-soul at all. The explanation to intelligent and 'spiritual' animals comes from the simplicity that a spirit has developed out of the animals existence and filled the void of the missing Hun, thus the sentient-self of the animal and the individual spirit of the animal are the same. This should probably be considered same for Dragon Kings because in effect it is their spirit that is being awakened when one trains them. Though I'm not saying this makes animals or Dragon Kings with a strong spirit any lesser beings than beings with a Hun-soul. For this same reason beings with a Hun-soul cannot have a spirit born of them. Their ideals/thoughts/actions may cause spirits to be born, but theirself can't be the cause - because that space in existence is filled by their Hun-soul.
Alright.. gods and elementals. I've made a distinction between a spirit and a Hun-soul that I hope everyone understands(though I dont expect everyone to accept it). With this distinction it is clear that gods and elementals do not have any of the described souls but rather their Po, Hun and possibly even the highersoul space is covered fully by spirit. What is a spirit? Perhaps, collective spiritual essence accumulated together. Its personality is defined by the role in the worldorder that it is supposed to fill, but rather unconveniently its personality and intelligent also manifest the ability to learn from the past - this, and a force common to all universe, namely survival-instinct makes some so-called little-gods and elementals deviate from their original roles in existence and learn other ways of existing.. this capability to learn leads to a certain degree of 'free will', though not as mystical as it is for soulful humans but rather relying more on logical leaps of faith from the spirits past experiences and thus of course occasionally leading to corruption and... things falling apart in the celestial bureacraZy...
Umm. I won't touch Primordials. -- -- tld
The Hun and Po soul thing is an old answer to an old question: "What makes humans different?" Humans are the most advanced species in the world, technologically speaking; we seem to possess language, tool-making and the ability to anticipate far in excess of any other kind of animal. Why is it we can deal so (relatively) easily with abstracts? As good an answer as any: We have an additional component to our existance- the Hun soul, which is closer to enlightenment, though still imperfect. This relates to a lot of Asian ideas (primarily Chinese ones, as Shinto is rather hazy on its metaphysics- although Po, at least, does play a reasonably significant role in its mythology) involving the inherent imperfection of materiality and the superior nature of pure mental/spiritual existance. Since materiality is the only way to *express* ourselves, it is a necessary part of existance; the Po soul, the animal that is born when a human exits the womb, gives our Hun soul the power to interact with the world.
Gods are different. They are already part of that 'pure' existance; the more removed from the material world they are, the more potent they are. This seems to have been borrowed upon without being exactly copied for Exalted; gods are much as tld described in some ways, but a more appropriate way to look at it might be to say that gods are essentially pure hun-spirit (and therefore, clueless), and elementals are pure po-spirit (and therefore, mindless). Gods improve upon themselves by learning- by growing to understand the rules of the material existance upon which they are imposed; Elementals improve upon themselves by growing, and incorporating more of existance into themselves (which means, sooner or later, attaining sentience, or such a close image of it as to be indistinguishable). As both of these types of spirit develop, they change into 'something else'- lacking any po soul at all in gods and any hun soul at all in elementals, they nevertheless develop characteristics of the other, which turns them into what tld describes as 'spirit'.
Primordials aren't either of these things. They are 'something else' completely; they are the physical and metaphysical structure of the cosmology. They trancend definition; they can't be grasped by purely rational means, or at least not purely logical ones. While they remember things, they only grow in capability by absorbing parts of reality or creating new elements to it.
Exalted souls are pretty hazy at the moment. Celestial Exalts always come about at a moment of stress, and it is quite obvious that Fate ain't what it used to be. Clearly, the 'moment of decision' is, if not entirely, a very large part of what makes them worthy to be Exalts at all. Does Lytek choose the canidates from a foreknowledge of this moment of decision? How can his foreknowledge be reliable, especially considering that Solars are Exalted in situations including conflict against Abyssals, or Exalted in the Shadowlands- unpredictable circumstances?
At any rate, as the exalt-essences are the method a god uses to exert himself against reality, they have the characteristics of po souls. That makes them animalistic, or at least, instinct-driven; a nod to willows theory. $.02 &Arafelis
Thanks for a good answer Arafelis. To clear out some things, Celestial Exalts dont always 'come about' at a moment of stress, though that is the most likely scenario it is not a rule of the universe. As I tried to explain before, Lytek has no power over exalting Celestial Exalts but rather only selecting a long list of candidates from which the god or, as the public demands so the public gets, the exalt-shards select whom to exalt. Furthermore, I dont think there is a canon situation where anyone has exalted in a Shadowland? Abyssals, while in creation, are predictable so much as any Celestial Exalted can be. Though these are not the things I would consider important. The exalt-shard selects the Exalted-to-be through, probably, certain set-characteristics that the 'target' must have to be exalted into a certain caste of a certain exalted-type. These characteristics are of personality as much as potential(heroic mortal) and virtue. What comes down to the single exaltation, as far as I know, the exalt-shard travels to the exalted-to-be and lingers in it untill it sees a proper moment for the halleluja. This moment, due to the important role that every heroic mortal plays in fate, is very often one of stress and conflict where the exalted-to-be's life is at risk - and well, we wouldn't want him to die just yet? So, the exalt-shard seises the opportunity and exalts the mortal, thus allowing him/her to do feats beyond humanly possible and survive the ordeal. Well.. thats how I see it anyway. - - --- tld
As a genral note, yes, Wren in "Trilogy of the Second Age" did exalt as a Solar in a Deathland. So there has been a case for someone exalting somewhat outside of creation. Miles