life in a glass house “You know, I read a book last night. Yeah, It’s about this girl and this guy and they got this really weird vibe thing going on. But there’s all this drama, because the girl’s got this ex-boyfriend, who turns out to be none other than the guy’s brother. So the whole thing comes to this great big climax at this big party at their evil dad’s house. [Really? What happens in the end?] You’re just gonna have to show up to find out.“
In Yoruba culture, twins are viewed as dangerous figures, associated with potential misfortune or affluence. Although the Yorubas have the highest rate of twinning in the world, there is a sense of anomaly associated with twins. This is due to the Yoruba belief that everyone born on Earth has a spiritual double. However, in the case of twins the double was born on Earth rather than remaining in the spirit realm. This is also why twins are regarded as sacred figures among the Yoruba.
It is believed among the Yoruba that twins share one combined soul. Thus, when one twin dies the life of the other is imperiled because the balance of the soul has become disturbed. To counteract this, figures of twins are created which are believed to host the souls of the dead twins. These figures are called
ère ìbejì. When a twin dies, an Ifa priest is consulted to determine if an ère ìbejì is needed for the spirit of the deceased twin. If it is determined that an ère ìbejì is needed, the selected carver of the figure is required to place an offering at the base of an ire ona tree.
The faces of the ère ìbejì are required to be identical even if the twins were not. They are also made to look like adults regardless of if the twins were adults at the time of death. This is signify that they now live in the spiritual realm. When the carver is done, he invokes the spirit of the dead twin by applying oils and rubbing leaves on the figure. The figure is then placed in a shrine and a sacrifice is offered. The mother then prays for the dead twin and proceeds to sing and dance for the twin. Afterwards, the figure is installed inside a shrine in the parents’ home.
Once the soul of the deceased twin has been invoked, the ère ìbejì is treated like a living child. It is washed, clothed, and fed like other children. If one twin survives, the ère ìbejì is given to them to play with and grow up with as if the twin was alive. When the surviving twin comes of age, a memorial altar will be kept for the deceased twin. If both twins died, a memorial shrine is created in their honour and the mother keeps both ère ìbejì.
Magic is a big game. No, I’m not talking about the size of sets and the number of cards in each one - I’m talking about its setting. Or settings, as the case may be.
To describe the Multiverse to people who don’t know about it, I’ve taken to likening the Multiverse as a sheet of bubble wrap: the Blind Eternities is the space between the bubbles, while each bubble is a window to its own world - a world that has its own rules, its own identity, and, most importantly from a story telling perspective, its own characters.
As we know, a vast majority of these characters will never leave their bubble, with only a handful ever experiencing the outer boundaries of their world.
And Magic, both as a card game and as a story, will only ever touch upon a small handful of these characters. Some of them won’t even get to have their own card!
But Wizards throws a bone to a few of these characters, and it’s here that I’ll shine a spot light on them. With this series, I hope to bring to light the characters of the multiverse mentioned in only one place: flavor text.
Origins seems like a good place to start:
Pel Javya, as seen in the flavor text, is a Wojek Investigator. For those that don’t know, the Wojek were more or less enforcers of the old guildpact before its destruction in the original Ravnica storyline. They made sure that guilds didn’t step out of line and generally kept the peace (or at least tried to). So it’s pretty clear that Pel is a member of the Boros League who’s seen a lot of sh*t in their day.
Pel Javya is also quoted in two other cards;
Lightning Talons (M14) “The victim was either clawed to death or struck by lightning. Possibly both.”
Sunspire Griffin (RTR)
“For each griffin wounded by an arrow, there’s a corpse with a bow nearby.”
Kanlos, Akroan Captain
Kanlos is an Akroan - Theros’ version of a spartan. So right off the bat we know this guy is a pretty tough fighter. What’s interesting here is an insight into Akros’ culture. Do Akroans use eagles as messengers? Or fighters? They’re obviously used for something, because if the eagles are out, it’s nothing but bad news and the Akroans need to double time back to base.
Maggath, Sardian Elementalist
The Sardian Mountains were a mountain range on the plane of Dominaria, inhabited mainly by…dwarves! Meaning our friend Maggath was most likely a dwarf living their life just making good woofers. Well, at least until Urza and Mishra’s war pushed them (and the rest of the dwarves) into servitude for Argive. The dwarves later revolted against Argive once they got the chance, but it didn’t end well for them. To this day, it’s unknown if dwarves still live in the mountains, which have since been renamed the Karplusan Mountains.
Keyta, Rebel Hydromancer
Keyta is a hydromancer. Or a water bender if you were a cool kid who watched A:tLA. Her mention of the mage-rings places her squarely on Vryn and sided with the rebels that seek to gain power of the mage-rings. Without Alhammarret around to pull the strings of the war, I wonder how that’s going…hopefully we’ll get to see if we ever return to Jace’s home plane. Funnily enough, she says she doesn’t “need the mage-rings”, yet supposedly fights on the side that wishes to gain control of them. Very strange character indeed.
Terhold, Archmage of Drunau
Drunau is a port city in the province of Nephalia on Innistrad. That’s where you’re going to find your corpse traders, your stitchers, your ghoulcallers. Basically, not a pleasant place to be. Terhold here holds the title of archmage. On Innistrad, archmages are people who have shown a naturally ability to channel Avacyn’s divine powers. According to the Planeswalker’s Guide to Avacyn Restored, these abilities are hereditary, meaning that Terhold’s been doing his thing and carrying on the family business for most of his life. Hard to say where he is now without Avacyn around…ah, I’ve made myself sad again. Moving on.
Terhold is quoted in one other card;
Marrow Bats (AVR)
“No matter how far we push into Stensia, undeath will always remain in these lands.”
Numa, Joraga Chieftan
Numa is (or maybe was. Most of the Joraga were wiped out by the Eldrazi) a Joraga Chieftan. The Joraga were a loosely connected group of tribes, and since we know all Joraga were led by Speaker Nen, this means Numa was chieftan of just one of these groups. Also, looks like Numa was one of the elves who thought Nissa being an animist was bad. Eat that Numa. Also, I know it crossed your mind. Don’t lie to me.
Radwick, Gatstaf Farmer
Gatstaf is an isolated village out in Kessig on the plane of Innistrad. Radwick here is a resident of the town and seems to be your run of the mill farmer; he tends to his orchards, picks fruit, tries not to earn the ire of tree ghosts. You know, normal, everyday farmer doing normal everyday farmer stuff.
Radwick is quoted in one other card;
Second Harvest (SOI) “The cornfields promise a good yield this season.”
And that’s it for this bunch. Next week I’ll cover the rest of the characters named in flavor text in Origins and talk about them a little bit. After Origins, I’ll move on to the set after - Battle for Zendikar. Should be fun. You should stick around for it. Lest I send my tree ghosts after you.