My guess is that he had help from the solstices. I seriously doubt communicating with spirits during either event is exclusive to the Avatar, given that some spirits seem to be more attached to the material world than others, such as the Painted Lady or Hei Bei. It has also been shown that spirits can transport mortals to the Spirit World, as we saw with Hei Bei and the villiagers he terrorized.
On top of that, few things can stand between a loving father and his only son. Iroh doesn't seem to be the type to take no for an answer when it comes to family, especially those he feels close to.
You make some very good points . I totally forgot about the part where Hei Bei transported Sokka and the villiagers into the Spirit World.
Iroh could have used the same method but it would not be against his will. Maybe he had some connection with a spirit such as Aang with Roku ( though this is an exception ) or Katara with the Painted Lady - because we get to see her at the end of the episode thanking Katara for all that she has done and Katara saw her which tells us that not only Iroh could see the spirits.
Heck , I bet even Sokka could see Yue sometimes when there was a full moon even though the creators never tell us that.
Some spirits want to be seen by mortals so that could have been the case with Iroh.
That's what makes him an awesome character .He learned from all the four nation and even from the Sun Warriors and I'm pretty sure he visited the shrines of at least 3 of them because I doubt he was in an Air Temple with the exception of the Western Air Temple when it was already deserted.
Maybe Iroh ( when younger ) became a good friend of Roku. Perhaps after Roku died, Iroh travelled to Roku's Island, found his house with the headpiece of the Fire Nation prince ( which we see him with in "The Avatar and the Firelord" ).
iroh indeed isn't old enough to have known roku, but then how did he get the lost headpiece he gave to zuko? how old is iroh anyway? he looks pretty old in the show, old enough for june to think he was zuko's grandfather, but ozai, who doesn't look that old, is his brother, so there can't be that much of an age difference..?
Well perhaps when Iroh was a general, on his way to Ba Sing Se, his sailing route was near Roku's Island and he found the headpiece. Due to lots of evidence ( or the lacking of it ), it seems impossible that Iroh could have ever found the headpiece.
About how old Iroh is I hink the strain of being a general, losing his son, etc. really dragged him down. Also think about Tui and La the moon and ocean spirits. Everyone could see them. Same thing with Wan Shi Tong.
That, and Iroh never expressed any knowledge of the library that Zhao mentioned while acting as his advisor. If they both had been to the library, Zhao likely wouldn't have had to explain where he got the moon and ocean spirit's names.
Well it could be that if Zhao followed Iroh into the library he could have done it without Iroh knowing it. Also I am writing the fannon I talked about and I'll tell you guys when it's done and posted.
My guess is he probably made friends with a particular spirit and that spirit allowed him to go into the Spirit World and he liked it so much, he stayed there. Eventually, after staying there so long, he himself turned into a spirit.
Intelligence4 wrote: iroh indeed isn't old enough to have known roku, but then how did he get the lost headpiece he gave to zuko? how old is iroh anyway? he looks pretty old in the show, old enough for june to think he was zuko's grandfather, but ozai, who doesn't look that old, is his brother, so there can't be that much of an age difference..?
Probably because Iroh was the oldest and therefore the prince when he was young, and he kept the headpiece after all these years.
I wonder if Iroh's connection to dragons allowed him to see Aang, Roku, and Fang while in the spirit world. The only spirits that I can remember that were seen in the physical world are Hei Bei, the Painted Lady, Koh, Tui and La, and Wan Shi Tong. I think that we can discount Tui and La because they were spirits represented in a physical form. This is the same with Wan Shi Tong and Koh. I am not quite sure about the Painted Lady, because she was only seen by Katara, and we already know that Hei Bei was in his spiritual form. If the Painted Lady was in her spiritual form, then I believe that Katara was able to see her because of her connection with the spirit. I also believe that Hei Bei just allowed himself to be seen because of the destruction he was causing. I think that whether or not one can see a spirit in the physical world depends not only on how close to the physical world the spirit is but also its connection with a specific person or group. I think that combined with Aang, Roku, and Fang being close to the physical world, and Iroh's personal connection to dragons and his already developed spirituality, it allowed Iroh to see the spirits.
At first I thought the question was "How did Iroh get to the Spirit World by the time he met Korra?" and I was about to say, "meditation," but now that I see what you mean, I'm reminded that that this was one of the ideas Bryke left on the cutting room floor like Iroh's wife and countless other ideas between them and Ehasz that remind me that they either don't have the time ("Legend of Korra,") or have the time, but dick around too much ("Avatar: The Last Airbender).
I think the implication was the same incident that killed Lu Ten and probably also almost killed Iroh whether he tried to astrally find his son or the experience basically opened his mind's eye, but in either case, it was well known/believed enough for Zhao to both know and take him seriously on rather than write him off as a kook.