I am writing a story where we have our real science-based world, and a parallel world where magic is the more dominant principle. In fact the principle of magic is so dominant, that one cannot travel long distances without looping back to where you started from, each realm or kingdom being effectively an isolated world to those who do not use magic. However, with magic, one can step from one realm to another by using correspondences. The defining characteristic of a correspondence is similarity of appearance. More magically powerful individuals can use less similar correspondences to less magically powerful individuals, but the more similarity, the easier it is to take the step.

To give examples, a cave is a correspondence to a similar cave in an adjoining realm, as can an oak forest be to another oak forest, or one grassy plain to another, etcetera.

For example, an individual is travelling from Point X in Realm A to Point Y in Realm D If Point X is a city, and Point Y is a frozen mountain-top, then no direct correspondence exists. However, by travelling out of Realm A's city to the surrounding farmland, the traveler could use the farmland to find a correspondence to Realm B, where the corresponding environment would also be farmland with a similar crop/livestock, only close to mountains. The traveler would then go to Realm B's mountains and use a correspondence to go to a colder mountain-side in Realm C. The traveler could then go uphill a way until the environment was sufficiently cold that the ground was icy, and use that as a correspondence to travel to Realm D, where they would be near the frozen summit (Point Y) they sought to reach.

The more powerful an individual's ability to use correspondences, the less exactly they have to match, however using less exact correspondences exhausts them more physically than a more exact match. For example, a river could be a correspondence. However, a river has characteristics such as speed, colour, its' banks, the surrounding vegetation, and so on. The more the characteristics differ, the more difficult the correspondence is to use. On the other hand, the more knowledgeable an individual is, the more correspondences they will know, and may be able to use them to travel more quickly, needing less non-magical travel to get to a suitable place to use another correspondence.

The problem I have is that my characters (who are pretty far up the scale in terms of power and knowledge) need to go from Australia's magical parallel realm (which looks pretty much like the Australian Aboriginal dreamtime and Australia prior to the extinction of the indigenous mega-fauna) to Europe's magical parallel realm, which is pretty much like Europe of a few hundred to a thousand years or so ago. This means that the landscapes look pretty different. Australian plants do not correspond well to any European plants for the most part, effectively eliminating easy correspondences.

What correspondences could be found to allow the most rapid possible travel, assuming logical geography?

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    $\begingroup$ Can you only use geography as a coorespondance or could you use man made constructs such as homes or spears? Can you use animals? If not, where in Australia/Europe do your characters want to go? There are the Alps in Italy but spain/england are pretty flat etc... $\endgroup$ – Vulcronos Oct 1 '14 at 15:39
  • $\begingroup$ If land areas are too different to allow correspondence, would people with insufficient magic be forced to resort to traveling out into the ocean to find a correspondence? Does the boundary wrapping allow travel into the ocean? $\endgroup$ – trichoplax Oct 1 '14 at 15:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Vulcronos, the step from "real" Australia to magical Australia is a pretty long one, and there aren't many man-made constructs in magical Australia beyond primitive shelters. Correspondences are the whole surroundings, not just a few objects. Animals could be used as correspondences, but the surroundings would also be relevant. There are lots of places the characters could want to go, and not necessarily in the real-world or even having real-world parallels. $\endgroup$ – Monty Wild Oct 1 '14 at 15:48
  • $\begingroup$ @githubphagocyte, The ocean is a very good correspondence, however as the characters cannot swim all that fast, and it takes time to row/sail sufficiently far out to sea that the shore ceases to be a factor. The characters are after speed, not fewest correspondences. $\endgroup$ – Monty Wild Oct 1 '14 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ I wasn't suggesting it so much as a fast approach, but rather as the approach people might have to resort to if they can find nothing else. $\endgroup$ – trichoplax Oct 1 '14 at 16:16

I decided to go for the seaside, since that is what England is known for. The 'White Cliff of Dover' so I found the Bunda Cliffs in Austrailia, they look fairly similar and are even made from limestone, not quite the chalk. So I would say that is a reasonably close, as far as vegetation there isn't much on the Australian side and the white cliff is mostly grass.

  • $\begingroup$ That's a pretty good way to make the jump from magical Australia to magical Europe, they're fairly similar places. A weak individual might have trouble, but I did specify pretty powerful characters. Getting to/from wherever they are from/to the cliffs should be easier. $\endgroup$ – Monty Wild Oct 1 '14 at 16:00
  • $\begingroup$ This is a good idea, especially because of the symbolic value of the cliffs of Dover - they're near the narrowest part of the English channel, and therefore the first part of Britain typically seen by people arriving from continental Europe by sea. A gateway if you will. $\endgroup$ – tobyink Oct 2 '14 at 10:55

Setting aside human cultural phenomena, which don't seem to figure in your description of correspondences, several ideas pop to mind:

  1. Oceanic/Shore Phenomena

Beaches, tides, fish, mollusks, crustaceans, seaweed, etc. Obviously not all of these things are precisely identical from continent to continent, but a lot of them are very close indeed. In some cases, the species themselves are identical because widespread or migratory.

  1. Migratory Species

Eels migrate to the Sargasso Sea to spawn. Birds migrate ludicrous distances in many cases. That process of long-distance travel could itself be the base-point for correspondence whose desired result is long-distance travel. This would base your correspondence not on the end-point but the journey.

  1. Atmospheric Phenomena

One of the most traditional kinds of permanent and world-spanning correspondences is astronomical: the stars. Unfortunately, of course, the stars in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres are quite different. Nevertheless, if your characters already know a good deal about Europe, strong analogies could be drawn, especially with respect to star clusters or constellations near the center of the Zodiac.

Similarly, there are celestial phenomena that can be seen from anywhere on earth: the moon, the planets, and so on. Obviously one would have to learn how to correct for longitude and latitude, but the Babylonians did pretty well at that, for starters.

  1. Conceptual or Structural Correspondences (the meta-problem at stake)

In the history of magical or occult thinking, one finds that things are rarely taken as themselves: they tend to be in relation to other things. When we say "correspondences," this is really what we mean -- a correspondence is properly a relationship between two things that is embedded in a larger system or web of such relationships. Thus object A is like object B because both share property C that is considered to be a quality, aspect, effect, or sign (or all of these) of principle D.

As a result, the real question here is about classification. While it is true that Nature herself does not classify Australian and European plants together, that's because Nature herself does not classify anything. We do, as observers, on certain more or less defined or formal bases.

For example, we classify some plants as "grasses," and there are complex and serious reasons for doing so, much debated and so forth across the last couple of centuries. Under that system, there are "grasses" in both Europe and Australia. Either those plants are or are not "really" connected in terms of your magical correspondence system, which leads to a deeper matter.

It appears, from the description of power level allowing looser correspondences, that correspondence classification is an intersection between the magician-subject and the natural-objective phenomenon. This means that there is some way in which things are or are not "really" linked, at an underlying, natural, non-cultural sort of level. And there is also some way in which that kind of linkage is actually forged, created, signified -- in a word, made -- by the human observing subject. If this is correct, then there is no absolute sense in which two things do or do not correspond: it's a matter of interpretation and knowledge. In which case, to resolve the difficulty within a fantastical world of your creation, you may need to come up with a formal conception of "natural correspondence," i.e., that type of relation that preexists within nature just because, and which is in some fashion a prerequisite for magical manipulation.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm not so sure about migratory species, since the environment they are in matters too, and they could be difficult to find quickly. However, the rest of your answer is great. $\endgroup$ – Monty Wild Oct 1 '14 at 16:04

Cape Le Grande - Lanzarote - Naples - England

Start at Cape Le grande National Park in southern Australia. Follow the beach until you step along a beach on Lanzarote, which has a similar ocean, beach and dry reddish terrain. From the Lanzarote beach you make your way up to the fire mountains in Timanfaya national park. After a brief climb down one of the volcanoes you climb up again and find yourself descending mount vesuvius in Italy.

Depending on how closely your world's Europe matches real-world Europe, your party could descend from Vesuvius to find some of the many ruins from the Roman empire. A temple, collonade, bath-house or mausoleum near Naples around AD 1000 - AD1500 will find its close likenesses anywhere from England, via France to South-East Europe.

Here are some postcards from the magical party's travels:

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It's a beautiful day in Southern Australia

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Gazing out at the azure ocean, we turned around and suddenly found ourselves on Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands.

enter image description here

Timanfaya on Lanzarote has some beautiful volcanoes

enter image description here

But so do Southern Italy!

enter image description here

This is a ruin near Naples but.. strumming guitar...

♪♫ This could be Corinium or anywhere ♫♪
Neapolis or Rome,
Could be Oppidum Batavorum,
or Caesar's second home

Cause Corinium is anywhere
Anywhere alone
Anywhere alone


A cave, mine or tunnel could be used. Since they can be artificial and cave systems can be pretty similar, if your characters had access to one, they could attempt to use it as correspondence.

If I understand correctly, the idea is that, when someone is in an area, the "travel" places them in a practically identical area somewhere else. The strength of a correspondence will be directly related to how little you notice changing while the outside world (outside the correspondence node) changes. If I am correct in this understanding, then artificial construction and especially more generic ones used for utility and thus strongly resembling each other across cultures and places, would be the easiest way to achieve travel.

That's why I'm suggesting something that is likely to exist in both locations. I noticed others are suggesting the sea, but it's unclear to me how far the australian or british locations span - do they include the seaside or ocean or not? If they do, the seaside and beaches would be easier, assuming one can find a beach that resembles the one at the target location. If a beach is inaccessible, then I would expect that a mine or dug-out cave, perhaps even a simple house (clay, stone, wood) would work.

edit - there's also some simple ancient structures (particularly neolithic ones) that are easy to replicate: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megalith

  • $\begingroup$ Coast and ocean pretty much go together, and the ocean includes the concept of "out of sight of land". However, without magic, you'd just loop back to the realm you started in if you kept sailing. Australia does not have megaliths, and the characters' enemies would be interested in why some might be appearing. $\endgroup$ – Monty Wild Oct 1 '14 at 16:14
  • $\begingroup$ @MontyWild If there's coast, that should work. Megaliths however don't need to be anything really noticeable. Some dolmens look like nothing more than big rocks in a pile. Also, mines are still bound to exist, but will obviously be more dangerous to use than a coast. $\endgroup$ – mechalynx Oct 1 '14 at 16:20

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