The world of The Witcher, set primarily on a continent simply called The Continent, is full of magic and monsters — but it didn’t begin that way. It’s accredited to a long-ago event, a cataclysm, commonly referred to as the Conjunction of the Spheres.
This concept gets mentioned a lot in the series, and is at the root of many of the core conflicts explored in Netflix’s The Witcher. As shown in the show’s spin-off, The Witcher: Blood Origin, and in bits of season 3, the Conjunction of the Spheres brought about a whole new way for life on The Continent. But it’s rarely explained in-depth in the Netflix show, so here’s what you need to know about the Conjunction of the Spheres for The Witcher season 3.
What is the Conjunction of the Spheres?
Photo: Katalin Vermes/Netflix
The event is something only vaguely understood by characters in the world of The Witcher. But the common belief is that it was when all worlds (other spheres of existence) collided. and with them monsters and other beings slipped into the world. It’s also how magic — or “chaos” — came to exist, giving humans the power to become mages.
The Witcher: Blood Origin shows us the event more fully. During the final battle for control of the Elven empire, the sorceress Zacaré (Lizzie Annis) merges Syndril’s (Zach Wyatt) power with that of the evil mage Balor (Lenny Henry) to shatter the monolith and stop Balor’s chaos magic. Unfortunately, the shattering of the monolith released shattered space and time itself, triggering the Conjunction. As Blood Origin’s narration puts it: “The fragile veils between worlds had been ripped apart. Planes of existence began to cross; skies warred with skies. Night fed upon day. Multiple worlds crossed through to each other, scattering species like seeds as they merged.”
The result was a bit cataclysmic for the world of the elves. As Ciri, Yen, and Geralt say in the opening episode of season 3, when they discuss the legacy of Aelirenn, an elven warrior who fought against the humans hundreds of years ago, elves like her were left to fend for themselves against the likes of humanity.
“The elves thought the humans were just a nuisance, like a plague of locusts or a drought,” Yennefer tells Ciri. “That they would die off in the blink of an elven eye. But the humans kept multiplying. And killing.” Aelirenn rallied the elves to fight, and ultimately (as we know) lost that battle. While Geralt ultimately uses the moment to wax on the benefits of neutrality, the message seems clear: It’s not easy to stay neutral on The Continent post-Conjunction.
Without the Conjunction, The Witcher may have been a much more mundane world. The slow reveal that the Witcher is a fantasy story about the ramifications of interdimensional travel is a delightful one.
It’s this influx of monsters that eventually leads to the creation of the Witchers, and is certainly the catalyst for much of the story. (Without it, where would we get our fix of handsome monster slayers?) Each of these strange creatures has been trapped in a world not their own. Some, such as unicorns, can even move between dimensions at will.
But while the Conjunction’s existence is something everyone agrees on, the events surrounding it are still full of mysteries. No one knows whether humans arrived on The Continent from another part of the world, or if they were brought into the world by the Conjunction of the Spheres.
The final Witcher novel, The Lady of the Lake, suggests humans fled a world they’d already ruined; given their destructive nature, it’s not hard to imagine. The elves, or Aen Seidhe, also seem to have come through with the Conjunction, and their civilization predates the oldest human structures and cities. The dwarves and gnomes of The Continent seem to predate both them and humans.
Why the Conjunction of Spheres is important
Photo: Katalin Vermes/Netflix
The “elven world” from hundreds of years earlier is more than just the basis for The Witcher spin-off in the works, Blood Origin. While some entities slipped into the universe of The Continent, some ventured to others. Some elves, the Aen Elle, left their world for one where they could be independent and unconquered. The Aen Elle see themselves as the true last bastion of their culture, untouched by human cruelty. They could move themselves between worlds freely before the cosmic shift of the Conjunction, but afterwards they were left isolated in one place.
But they still have some power. It’s from these elves and their world that the Wild Hunt originates, appearing on The Continent as wraiths and spectres, kidnapping humans to serve them while searching for a way to once more allow their people to move en masse between universes.
Traces of the Conjunction exist in the world of the Netflix show in the form of monoliths, impenetrable structures of black stone which are said to be conduits for the energy that opened their world to others. The wizard Istredd has made them the focus of his studies, going so far as to serve under Nilfgaard to access them, but even he seems to barely understand the full extent of their meaning.
Istredd’s quest for knowledge brought some answers in The Witcher’s second season, but his attempts to continue his quest lead him to something much more high-level and nefarious in season 3, involving corrupted portals and the Book on Monoliths (which was also featured in Blood Origin). Above all else, it focuses on Ciri’s connection to them and what kind of power she may have within her.