Published in Full Moon Magazine January 2023-Visit the Newsstand to Subscribe and never miss an issue!
I am a massive final fantasy fan, and a sizable component of the final fantasy series is based around creatures that can be summoned to aid the characters in the game. When I first started playing back in 2000 there were names that I recognised, Odin, Shiva, Leviathan to name a few. I started watching a play through of the remastered final fantasy XI, and the idea for this series of articles came to mind.
This series of articles will look at the Aeon, Eidolon, or Esper as they are in the games, and then look at the real-world myths that inspired them. I have looked at all the summons, and from what I can tell they come from Asian, Middle Eastern, Greek, Roman and Nordic/European mythologies.
I am going to start this series with the ones that inspired my thoughts on this topic, BAHAMUT and SHIVA. As I have mentioned before these posts won’t suit everyone’s tastes, but I am hoping that there will be some out there who will like them; I am sure final fantasy fans will enjoy them.
The Summons of Final Fantasy
In earlier incarnations of the game series, the ‘summons’ would come into and perform a single attack – usually a special attack that is specific to that summon. These summoned elements are actually very powerful monsters that fight side by side with their summoner. The nature of these summoned creatures varies from game to game, and as the games have changed and grown, so to have the roles of these special monsters.
The summons are often based on a given culture’s mythology from gods to demi-gods to beings of great importance. The summons tends to live in another dimension, and when they are called, they come to the summoners aid. A theme that I have noticed in many of the games is the summoner having to earn their creature’s allegiance and loyalty. Throughout the series they have been called Eidolons, Aeons, and Espers.
Esper – In fiction an Esper is someone or something that has one or more supernatural ability. Apparently, the term was coined in the 1950’s and is said to derive form the abbreviation for Extrasensory Perception.
Aeon – Originally it meant ‘life’ or ‘being’
Eidolon – This comes from the Greek for reflection or phantom, I read somewhere while researching it can also mean ‘idol’.
Final Fantasy is a Japanese made game and it’s understandable that they drew some inspiration from Japanese culture, such as Shinto. In the Shinto religion there are beings called Kami, beings who are part of nature. They are characteristically elements of the land, forces of nature etc… They can also be the ancestors of a family or an entire clan. The Kami aren’t good or evil, they are nature is, both positive and negative.
One thing that I liked about the first game I played was how our memories are the essence of our souls and become a part of a great universal cycle of life. They Eidolons that are summoned in the game; are memories from the stories that have been passed from generation to generation. IN another game in the series, they are the dreams of a person who was turned into stone and were called Fayth. The Summoner would pray to the Fayth to earn the Aeons service and form a bond, and it is from this bond that Pyreflies merge to become beings of immense power.
Keep your eyes peeled for the various summons from Final Fantasy in future issues.