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  • peterabomann

Minute Worldbuilding: Inverted World Tree

Worldbuilding projects often take hours upon hours to complete. But there are lessons to be learned, and occasionally more enjoyment to be had, in creating settings quickly. Let's take this tapestry.

The Source

I bought this from MilleniumTreasures on Etsy (no sponsorship from them) for aesthetic reasons. After multiple attempts to hang it, I found one that worked----but of course, it was upside-down.

What was particularly curious is that I did not initially notice it was mis-hung. At first glance, the roots look like branches, and the bits of color between them like leaves. It was only upon closer inspection that the truth revealed itself.

But by that time, the thought had taken root: what if this was the way it was supposed to look? Not a perceiving "if", mind you, but a wondering "if".

What would a world look like based upon this inverted tree?

One more important point. To effectively draw nourishing inspiration from this tree, we must decide what kind of grand tree this tree is. Two come to mind.

As the purchase page so titles, it could be a tree of life. In mythological terms, we are talking about the source of life, of life eternal, an ancient and heavenly gift. The tree of life did not create everything, but it can sustain certain things indefinitely. In some ways, it is a tree only insofar as it needs to be for our small human minds.

In a more physicalist path, it could be a world tree. This tapestry could be a map of the world, however factual, describing what lies within and without the known universe.

I like the latter.

The Ideas

If this tapestry is a map of the world. It is a strange one. Typically, all that can be accessed, all that lives, lives in the world tree. The fauna we see looks largely tied to it. Butterflies play in the branches, and birds appear anchored to the tree's shape, to varying degrees.

And yet there is life clearly delineated from it. Spiraling branches and gilded leaves surround the tree, but never touch it. The bottom bird, while oriented with respect to the tree, keeps a similar distances to the outside-vines at their most proximate. And there are a couple butterflies in the top corners, far away from the center of this map.

In addition, and the elephant in the room, the world is inverted. What should be down is up, what ought to point up aims down. The birds hang from the tree's trunk or backstroke through the starry blackness. The roots, so much smaller and less vibrant, reach upward, while the flowering branches for the most part stretch and spread down.

There are no humanoids to speak of, and the the individual specks could be construed as windborn seeds, petals, stars, or something else entirely.

What can we create from this source, then? A strange world, the Land of the Inverted World Tree. The starkness of space is visible, from nearly everywhere. Life exists outside the world, though it may not be the kind we are used to. And by comparison to our world, even the creatures of the tree are foreign, and do not abide by our expectations.

Nor does the the tree itself abide by them, branches stunted and hungrily snaking into the nutrient-less void, roots flowering abundantly and ushering living things to thrive as they spread down and even up-sideways.

And all across the scape, many-colored, many-sized spheroids drift, most densely among the short branches. They circumscribe the features of this universe, guiding the eye to them, like a silent introduction. No one really knows what they are, and their location shifts unpredictably.

This indeed is a strange world we have made, but there is space to explore and question. What is the nature of these inverted creatures? Why does the tree only flower below? What is this life beyond the reach of mortals? Much to explore, much to ponder.

Until next time!


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