Some movies which might help visualize the weirdness of the umbra:
The Umbra is the spiritual realm that surrounds our own "reality". It has many shells and many layers and there are many differing opinions of how all of these interconnect. The most common explanation is as follows:
The first layer is the world as we live in. Note the quotes: nobody can be sure which world is the original and which are copies. It is known that the most important battles of balance for the Triad are fought here.
A thick layer functions as a shield between "reality" and the penumbra. A mirror is all a Garou needs to step across it. Some theurges claim it was raised by the weaver, to prevent leakage of Wyld into their world. The fact is that the gauntlet prevents easy access to the penumbra - the stronger the weave in your location, the harder it is to escape to the penumbra. This layer is so thick that Garou can actually get stuck in it, becoming prey to both sides.
The closest umbral realm is the penumbra. It strongly resembles "reality", but purely in the way that it appears as people think the world around them looks. This means that anything people strongly relate to takes more form. The more people, the stronger it appears. Your highschool for example might have been demolished. But on the penumbra it still stands, bright and gleaming. However, things are also shaped by the way you feel about them. If that school was a place of misery in your youth and enough people feel the same, it will appear blackened, twisted and generally evil.
Have you ever felt that buildings or environments lacked a "soul"? That they felt generally empty and lifeless? This is because objects in both planes are mystically intertwined. Demolish the school and in time it will be forgotten. Destroy the umbral version and the school in "reality" will crack and suffer. This is also the reason why many battles are fought at two locations. You might be able to put those drug dealers into a shallow grave, but unless you cleanse the umbral version of all evil and attracted vile spirits it will remain a place of misery on both worlds.
Spririts are abundant, often formed ("awakened") because someone took very special care or suffered greatly over some object. The laws of physics are subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) changed. You might spot a slowly dancing flower. You might walk through a snowstorm only to find that the snowflakes are actually little paper men.
At certain places in the penumbra you might find an anchor, a pathway to a so-called umbral realm. They are kind of similar to a pipe. Sometimes long and sometimes very short but with no stops in between and the only choice being forwards or backwards.
An umbral realm is a seperate plane of reality with a specified environment with it's own rules. There are many, some with well-known entryways, some with hidden anchors. A number of them have been documented as well. Some examples:
- The Wolf Realm, a place where wolves are hunted by men in great numbers. Wolves can never find peace and never hide here. It seems to be formed as a reaction to the early impergium. Leeroy Brown was found here.
- The Atrocity Realm, where the horrors of the world repeat themselves in an endless matter.
- The Silver Lake. This mystical place is guarded by a gigantic three-headed wolf called 'Cerberus". Any garou that manages to get here can swim the silver lake and be cleansed of any taints and past deeds. Xavier was here and told it was a very painful experience.
- The Scar, where the Wyrm has corrupted the Weaver beyond saving.
- The Rage realm, where the unthinkable has happened... where the Wyrm has completly corrupted the Wyld, where rage hangs in the air as if it were pollen.
The Deep Umbra
Beyond all other realms lies the Deep Umbra. Like the ocean, it's depths have never been explored. The further you go, the stranger the environment becomes. It is very unwise to go here unprepared and alone.
The Dark Umbra
There is much debate on weither this realm even exists. It might be similar to the penumbra, but on the other side of "reality". Theurges think this is where ghosts live. Although it lies close, you cannot touch it and no known garou of the Bluepelt sept knows how to get there. A visiting Strider once remarked it might be reached by traveling into the depths of the Deep Umbra.