q: who coined the term "SoulBonding"? and how come it's capitalized that way?
a: Amanda Flowers, a member of the JFW, coined the term "SoulBonding", and I believe that in one discussion relating to the subject, she said that the inspiration for the term being capitalized like that was the title of the RPG "SoulBlazer". Basically, she just thought it looked cool. ^^ (That's how I remember it, anyway; if you're reading this and you want to correct me, Amanda, drop me a line!) In addition, "soulbonding" is a term used by many other groups and with many different meanings attributed to it - for example, I've heard it used by Otherkin to refer to a soulmate/life partner with whom one has an empathic bond, and it even cropped up once in the cartoon "Daria" - and this way of spelling it is one way to distinguish what we mean by SBing with what other people mean by SBing. However, not everybody spells it like that; a lot of people just say Soulbonding or soulbonding, and it means the same thing. "Soulscape", meanwhile, was a term coined by Celes of the Eclective, which seems to have been adopted near-universally as a replacement for "mindscape", "headworld", etc. She didn't feel it was sufficiently used elsewhere to warrant the capitalization.
q. who/what are/were the JFW? how can I join?
a. The JFW (Just For Writers; also known as the Writers' Club, though I don't know anyone in the club who actually called it that) was a mailing list which was originally set up for writers of fantasy, sci-fi and/or videogame-based stories, but was really just a small group of likeminded people, most (if not all) of whom were SoulBonders, who discussed SBing, role-playing in its various incarnations, and other common interests. However, the list died due to internal conflicts. There was never a website or an application procedure; people were merely invited to join from time to time (Goddess, that makes me sound elitist, don't it? ^^;;). Since the concept of SoulBonding was started in the JFW, they get referenced a lot by "old-timers" in the community, though less so today.
q. please tell me how to soulbond! It sounds so cool!
a. I find the amount of mail I get on this topic quite unbelievable. I've heard so many people say this like it's something they can initiate themselves into, as if they could somehow "channel" a SoulBond. Of course, there are people who are genuinely curious about SBing and hope they themselves will find that special connection with a character someday, and that's perfectly fine, of course - it's not at all the case that SoulBonding can't happen after a certain age in life (see next question) - but it's something that can happen only if it's meant to happen, not because of something you actively do. In fact, trying to "force" a SoulBond to enter your headspace would undoubtedly be disastrous for all parties concerned, if it worked to any degree. The connection probably wouldn't hold, and they'd resent being pulled out of their existence.
If you're thinking of asking me this question, instead try asking yourself a question. "Why do I want to SoulBond so badly?" Is it because you see it as something mystical and special? Guess what - it's no different from any other relationship, ultimately. Sometimes it's wonderful, warm, beautiful and bright. Sometimes it's treacherous, painful, torturous and soul-wrenching. Sometimes you want nothing more than to fling your arms around all your SoulBonds and tell them how much you love them. Sometimes you wish they never existed. It's like having a child, having a lover, having a family. It's not some kind of magical, always-on, always-loving and always-harmonious connection. They fight. They hurt. They bleed. And as their SoulBonder, you are the one who has to guide them through it, or at least absorb a great deal of the flak.
q. this is all just escapism. you're acting out fantasies with anime characters because you don't have a real life, admit it.
a. We're not "acting out" anything. To roughly paraphrase Mooncalf, if you have your hand up their ass, it's soulpuppetry, not SoulBonding. If you're the one making them say the things they say, do the things they do, if you're the one having them running around in your head acting out your incestuous yaoi fantasies, if they never interact or communicate with you of their own accord - you're not SoulBonding. That isn't necessarily bad, per se; it's just not SoulBonding. SoulBonding isn't about hands up people's asses. They don't make you do things, though they might encourage you, persuade you, even gripe and whine and yell at you. You don't make them do things, though you might encourage them, persuade them, gripe and whine and yell at them. In that respect, it's like normal interaction with any other person or being.
There is, however, some leeway with this; mental space is particularly malleable and subject to distortion, and it's often the case with SoulBonders that their thoughts and ideas can shape their SBs' reality to some extent. The difference between this level of control/influence and soulpuppetry is at times a fine one, so fine that the two can bleed over into one another; and there's always the issue that soulpuppets may in fact be just as real as any other minddweller but just don't have enough control to say so.
q. so this isn't a page for people who make pretty-boy anime charas have sex with each other and get pregnant, and post about it on their livejournals?
a. No. That's not to say this site is against yaoi, or that SoulBonds can't be gay, or that SoulBonds can't be bishounen, or that SoulBonds can't make love to each other, or that SoulBonders do not write fanfiction about these things. All of these things are entirely possible within the sphere of SoulBonding, as they are within relationships between people in this reality, and those things in themselves don't make a connection "not SoulBonding". However, when that's all they do, or when that and beating the crap out of each other with Level-99 Ultimaflare is all they do, and when you're the one making them do it for your own entertainment, that isn't SBing.
q. if it's nothing to do with s&m/power/dominance, then why do people say "soulbondage"?
a. No SoulBonder I know uses the word "soulbondage". The correct term is SoulBonding or soulbonding (however you want to capitalise it). People usually only use "soulbondage" when they're trying to give it a bad image or not being entirely serious about it. Similarly, it's "SoulBonded" in the past and past participle, not "SoulBound" or "soulbound".
q. i don't have one of these "soulscape" thingies, but i still feel like i soulbond. does this mean i'm not a soulbonder?
a. Be aware that everyone's experience of SoulBonding is individual - the way in which people interact with their SBs (and other people's), and their theories on how SoulBonding happens and what SBs actually are, can differ greatly. The things I've outlined on these pages are just my own theories on, and experiences of, the concept - that applies for this topic as much as any other. Just because you don't fit this or that criteria doesn't mean you're not a SoulBonder, as long as you identify with the basic concept - in other words, if you feel like you SB, you almost certainly do. I didn't have a definite soulscape until I SoulBonded Raiza, but I had SBs for many years before that. Some people never have soulscapes - just the feeling that their SBs are "inside them". Some people have a soulscape for every SoulBond they have. Some people interact with their SBs in the characters' own story-worlds, or in the physical world as presences. Either way, it doesn't make you any less (or more) of a SoulBonder.
q. i've only ever had one soulbond, but other people seem to have so many. is it normal to only have one or two?
a. There's nothing special or clever about having a large number of SoulBonds, and there's nothing wrong with only having a couple. Many people only have one true SoulBond at any one time. When I first started to SoulBond, I found I was only capable of keeping one SB within my mindspace at once; the arrival of any new SoulBond inevitably forced the other out. And while it's certainly possible to have a large number of SBs all at once, there is an upper limit beyond which it's near-impossible for all those characters to be fully-active, fully-fleshed-out presences all at the same time. Even though I have a fairly large number of SoulBonds, only one or two are a definite presence at any one time, with some less strongly defined and others almost completely fading into the background.
q. is it normal for your sbs to want to choose the music you listen to, the food you eat, etc.? is it normal for them to have hobbies? favourite tv shows?
a. As you'd expect by the mere presence of this question, all these things are pretty common. Most SBs will have their preferences in the Earth world, whether it's as simple as a favourite colour or as complex as a phobia or fear. You can't always respect your SBs' preferences for practical reasons, but if you can let them have as much leeway as possible, particularly with regards to anything they may be particularly afraid of, it'll probably help things go that much smoother. (Of course, it's always an arse to have to take your *entire* CD collection out the door with you for a five-minute trip just because there are three other people in your head arguing about what to listen to today, but those're the brakes.)
q. is it normal for sbs to have phobias?
a. Very normal. Especially if you think about where most SBs come from. Sure, there are plenty of characters people have SBed who are happy and fluffy, but most SoulBonds come about because of a deep empathy we share with that character, and usually that deep empathy is created through shared pain. Therefore, statistically speaking, most SoulBonds are likely to have traumatic backgrounds. Therefore, statistically speaking, a lot of SoulBonds are likely to have fears or phobias that may be irrational. Obviously, as with the previous question and in this case even more so, it's a very good idea to respect your SBs' comfort levels on these things if you care about them at all, and in most cases this will involve avoiding the feared object or situation while they're closely around front. If it's a serious problem that can't be avoided, the techniques that work for phobias in "regular" people may work here too, like systematic desensitization (look it up on Google or in a psychology textbook; basically, gradual introduction to the thing feared, coupled with relaxation techniques).
q. if i soulbond someone evil, and soulbonds reflect the kind of person i am, does that mean i'm evil too?
a. Firstly, SoulBonds don't always reflect the kind of person you are. They may very well do, but it's not always the case. A SoulBond is just someone who you feel a connection to, enough to draw them into your own "soulspace". That connection may be positive or negative; some people have SoulBonds they only barely tolerate, or who they outright can't stand. Usually, the latter may not be a SoulBond so much as a "guide", a personification of a problem or something feared, such as violent or sexual desires (I'm going very Freudian, here, but it's been the case with me and several other people). When you learn what the SoulBond represents and why you fear it so much, and learn to accept that part of yourself as yourself rather than compartmentalising it, the SoulBond will usually either disappear, or become much more of a benign presence. Alternatively, you may feel a connection with a "villain" of a story because you find them humorous or find their take on life interesting; many of the villains in stories aren't too deep or serious, and many people connect with the "bad guys" on this level. Conversely, if you're creating a character in a story yourself who's a villain, then you'll find yourself needing to look into the thought processes of that kind of person, and you may end up with a bond at the end of it; this is normal, and while villains do horrible things that aren't considered "normal", deep down they usually have understandable and empathisable reasons for doing it, even if those reasons aren't justifications. Remember, just because you SoulBond someone doesn't mean you always agree with them, or like what they do, and you can understand someone's actions and motivations without considering them right. You also might want to try talking to the SoulBond and resolving some questions and issues; maybe they're not as "evil" as you thought.
As will be mentioned further down, however, if you have a "voice in your head" which is seriously hurting you and/or telling you to do violent or hurtful things, then that typically isn't a SoulBond, and is something that needs looking at seriously.
q. can two real-life people soulbond?
a. That depends how you mean it. I know SoulBonders who have reality-versions of "real world" people in their heads; it's uncommon, but it can happen. (I've heard of someone who SBed Shakespeare....) But when most people ask me this question, it has the meaning of "can two people share a destiny, can they be bonded through life and death through love", e.t.c. Yes, I suppose they can, but that's not what I mean by SoulBonding and that's not what this page is about. When I say "my SoulBonds", I don't mean real-world life partners/soulmates. They are people from existences that we consider fictional, in various forms, who have touched my heart and with whom I share a life. That is what SoulBonding is to me.
q. do soulbonds die?
a. Firstly, a bond can fade through neglect and disuse, though this doesn't usually result in the "death" of an SB; many times, once the connection is re-established the SB is found still to be there, and even if they're not that doesn't have to mean they're dead. It's quite natural and common for SoulBonds to come and go (though it's equally natural for them to stay for extended periods of time), and this "fading" or "slipping back" doesn't appear to constitute death. Other than that, whether a SoulBond can be "killed" or otherwise suffer death is a questionable matter, and can depend entirely on the SBing relationship. It's possible to SoulBond characters whose deaths you've witnessed, and they may either come to you alive, before the tragedy or in an alternate-universe state where it never happened, or dead, as "ghosts" or passed-on spirits. When a SBing relationship already exists, and the SB witnesses sa's own death within the storyline, again the effect on the SB can vary wildly; some will suffer death in "sympathy" or symbiosis with their fictional counterpart, some will dismiss it and say "Well, I'm still alive and I'm still here, guess that wasn't so real after all!", others will survive but experience varying states of shock or numbness, etc. Even if an SB dies through the death of their "source" character, it's not always the case that they can't be brought back to life; within our system, Misato died after witnessing her own death, wandered the soulscape as a ghost for some time, and was eventually revived. Whether a SB can be killed as a result of attack, disease or injury within a soulscape is yet another question to which there is no certain answer, or rather, there are a number of different answers; and whether it can happen between soulscapes (i.e. interaction between SBs) can be largely a question of how much truth or seriousness you place in the interaction. (See also SEP Fields.)
q. i'm worried about you. isn't this "soulbonding" thing awfully like possession/multiple-personality disorder/schizophrenia?
a. Firstly, no, it is not demonic possession. We don't speak in tongues, our heads do not rotate upon our shoulders, we do not suddenly start claiming we are the sons of Satan and we're going to devour your kittens. There could be a case made for the idea that maybe "stray" spirits move into the body, which could account for some cases of multiplicity (see below), but it'd be unlikely that they'd all take the forms of characters from popular TV and literature if they did. (Although there have been cases where "SoulBonds" have actually turned out to be people in a multiple system, pretending to be the characters in order to get noticed. That's a different issue, and I won't go into it here since I don't think it's common, and I'm also wary that it makes people for whom this is not the case doubt their SoulBonds' validity. If anyone who's experienced this would like to submit essays to the site, feel free.)
As for "MPD", that's an entirely different issue. Many SBers seem to want to claim as much distance from multiples as possible, but multiplicity - the existence of more than one person in one body - is not abnormal or disordered if the system exists healthily and works together (as most do), and has many things in common with SBing. What they appear to be is two separate concepts with some overlap, though to say that SBing is multiplicity is inaccurate. (Read this essay for a greater insight into the relationship between the two.) Schizophrenia - unlike multiplicity - is a true mental disorder, and is unrelated to SBing or multiplicity. Schizophrenics are unstable, unable to cope in everyday society, and often dangerous to themselves and others. SoulBonders are not that, and neither are multiples.
However, if you have a "SoulBond" who moves into your head and starts making you do bizarre and uncharacteristic things without warning, starts telling you you're worthless and weak or otherwise uncomfortable things, or is generally a Bad And Unwanted Presence in a severe way that affects your daily living - then that's probably not SoulBonding or multiplicity, but is something that needs checking out professionally.
q. but isn't multiplicity caused by trauma? so does that mean to have soulbonds, you must have been abused?
a. No. Multiplicity is merely a state of existence, like lefthandedness or homosexuality (although we know people who'd probably condemn you for those, too). Some multiples have suffered abuse (and they tend to be the ones you hear about). But a lot of people who aren't multiple have suffered abuse, too. And a lot of people are multiple and have suffered abuse (or members of their system have suffered abuse), but don't believe that that's what made them multiple. Sadly, it happens, whether you're multi or singlet or mashed potato with cheese. Multiplicity appears to have many causes - the body being a gateway to other worlds, "walk-in" and channeled spirits, the traditional "split", or just being born like that. SoulBonds happen because people empathise or connect enough with a character for them to become real to us - whether you believe that the act of loving/connecting with a character draws a "version" of them in from a parallel dimension, or whether your love for them in fact creates them. You don't have to be abused to have SoulBonds, nor to be multiple. It's about empathy, not trauma-resistance.
q. does this mean my soulbonds are going to start taking over my body?
a. No. All we're saying is that it's possible for SoulBonding relationships to develop into multiple systems (or to function in a multiple-like way), not that it always happens or that it's even common.
q. what's the difference between soulbonding and multiplicity anyway?
a. It's difficult to decide on a waypoint. Primarily, SoulBonding is a connection with a fictional character or characters. Multiple systems may include SoulBonds, or people who are not SoulBonds but who "adopt" features of certain fictional characters, but the majority do not originate from sources that we would consider to be "fictional". Within the sphere of SoulBonding, there are many kinds of experience, ranging from the connection a writer has to the worlds of sa's characters, to a mutual understanding and friendship, to a deep, profound empathy and even love, to experiences more characteristic of multiplicity such as fronting. Within the sphere of multiplicity, there are also many kinds of experience, ranging from the classical, "disordered" states of non-cooperation and time loss, to highly organised and functional systems with councils and political factions, to more relaxed and still functional systems, to experiences more characteristic of SoulBonding. There is a degree of overlap between the two spheres, but both have their own origins and their own ranges of unique experiences. See here for more information.
q. can I talk to one of your soulbonds?
a. You can certainly ask to talk to anyone in the system if you have a genuine question, though not everybody wants to communicate with the outside world or is able to at this time. Send an email to us with the subject line "Attn: [person's name]", and whoever you address it to will get back to you when they have time out, or else one of us will reply to say that person is unavailable at that time. Also, please don't be offended if a person doesn't want to answer particular questions about their pasts or private lives; asking Celes about her time in the Empire, or Ryoko about what it was like to be in servitude under Kagato, probably won't get you the politest of responses. These people are human (or non-human) beings too, so please treat them as such.