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Competing religions

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Aldarion, Nov 27, 2019.

  1. Aldarion

    Aldarion Sage

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    In my setting, there are two competing empires: Vetronian Empire based on a mix of Roman, Byzantine and Holy Roman Empires, and Guzz Empire based on mix of Seljuk and Ottoman Empires. However, I want contrast to be deeper than just politics; and since Vetronian religion is based symbolically on water and trees (basically a mix of Christianity, Mithraism, pre-pantheon Roman religion and Celtic paganism), Guzz religion would be based on fire. So what are good fire-based religions to research for these purposes?

    For reference, this is current state of Vetronian religion (if you have any suggestions on improvement, they are welcome):
     
  2. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    Zoroastrianism springs to mind.
    Fire or a sacred flame can also play a part in modern Paganism.
     
  3. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Sage

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    The most obvious 'fire' religion would be the Zoroastrian one. And that was the state religion of the Iranian empires that vied with the Eastern Roman empire prior to the rise of Islam.
     
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  4. Aldarion

    Aldarion Sage

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    Aye, but I do not want to merely copy-paste Zoroastrianism. So while I had already been planning on using Zoroastrianism as a basis, what others are there?

    EDIT: I think I may combine Zoroastrianism, Islam and Tengrism:
    Zoroastrianism - Wikipedia
    Tengrism - Wikipedia
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2019
  5. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Sage

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    There is a lot of unmined potential in Tengrism. I borrowed a few small things from it in a couple recent books but didn't delve deeply — folklore more than serious beliefs.
     
  6. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    I know Shamans and Animists [and even a demonist] that use fire in their worship. They use the ever changing shape and semblance of life to focus their thoughts while involved in mediation or ritual. You could try talking to [neo-]pagans...
    It would help to know what you are looking for?
    If it is some sort of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom death cult, then they may exist but I don't know about them. And they are probably more smoke than fire to excuse a poor metaphor.
     
  7. Aldarion

    Aldarion Sage

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    Yeah, I will. Thanks.

    As I mentioned in OP, Vetronian religion is based on combination of Christianity, Mithraism and Roman and Celtic animism. One thing which connects all of these (or at least Christianity, Mithraism and Celtic animism, not sure about Roman animism) is centrality of water symbolism. That is one reason why I went to fire as Guzz element - other reason is what had already been mentioned, that fire is important in Persian Zoroastrianism.

    No, it is not a death cult. It is an organised religion. And I am thinking about including elemental magic into setting; if I do, it will be based on religion, meaning that Vetronians will use water and tree magic and Guzz will use fire magic. Hence the need for religions themselves to contrast, at least in that area. But contrast will thematically work even if I end up not including elemental magic.

    (Now, I am aware that Romans actually worshipped trees, water and fire in their animistic religion, but that would not work with the above).
     
  8. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    I think you have all the pieces you need. You just need to shuffle them in to an order that suits you and the image of what you want.
    Religious haven't played a big part in any of my writing, but in the background I usually have a version of pagan animism/shamanism or peudoXtian [pick a card, any card] as they are the only religions I have first hand experience. I would be weary of riffing off a real religion I didn't know well as I would be unlikely to spot any SNAFUs I was setting up. But as I said, religion hasn't played a big part in anything I've written.
     
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  9. Aldarion

    Aldarion Sage

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    OK, I finished the writeup. Mostly Zoroastrianism, some Tengrism, very little Islam.
    -----------------------
    Guzz religion (Itaat) is a mix of old religions of nomadic Guzz and religion of Gamarkan Empire. It is centered on cosmic duality of good and evil. God, Asha or Munkh Tenger, is the supreme creator of the universe. While he has no equal contesting force, within the universe creative spirit stands opposed to destructive spirit, and truth stands opposed to deceit. Destructive spirit is represented by a fallen angel, Ahriman or Druj. This conflict involves the entire universe, with humanity at its core as humans have an active part to play in the conflict. Once God triumphs, universe will be rebuilt and souls of humans will be saved.

    Universe is divided into physical and spiritual realms. God works through his angels, Amesha Spenta. These are God's messangers as well as guardians of various aspects of Creation. When Asha triumphs over Ahriman, the entire universe will be remade.

    Believers are supposed to actively participate in a battle between Asha and Ahriman. Ancestors are appealed to for protection and help, as are heroes (including dead rulers). After death, soul goes to God to continue its participation in the forever war of good and evil.

    Fire is seen as agent of ritual purity, and a source of life. As such, forever fires are maintained in temples, and fire is considered a medium through which spiritual insight and wisdom are gained. Prayers are conducted in presence of fire.

    Corpse is considered a host for decay or druj, and thus has to be disposed of in a manner which does not pollute the good creation. Because of this, corpses are ritually exposed or else cremated.

    Asha is the creator of everything that exists, eternal and uncreated, the source of all good. Daena (that which can be seen) is sum of one's physical conscience and attributes.

    Everything is seen as going according to a master plan, and violations of the order (druj, duzen) are violations against creation, and thus against Ahura Mazda. Mortal beings play a critical role in that conflict. As such, the entire world has to be brought into order (asha), in order to oppose chaos (druj). Constant warfare to bring rest of the world under domination of Itaat had been a constant feature of Guzz foreign policy since Sultanate's formation.

    While original Gamarkan religion rejected the concept of predestination, Guzz conquest introduced predestination as one of six main concepts (1. One God, 2. existence of angels, 3. holy books, 4. prophets, 5. day of judgement, 6. predestination).

    Universe was created when Asha created the material and visible world in order to ensnare evil. Ahriman then created demons (daevas) and noxious creatures (khrafsar) such as snakes, ants and flies. He then invaded the world, killing a primordial man (Gayomard) and primordial bull, but ended up trapped in it. Dying man and bull emitted seeds from which grew 1) first humans and 2) all animal and plant life, respectively. Evils of physical world are thus fault of Ahriman's assault on creation.

    World itself is divided into Heaven, Earth and Hell (Underworld). Celestial and subterrenean worlds are divided into seven layers each. Inhabitants of underworld (Tamag) lack soul, and are thus pale and have black blood.

    World will eventually be renewed (Frashokereti). At that time, there will also be individual judgement and resurrection of the dead. Depending on their actions during the life, they go into either House of Song or House of Lies.

    A 3 000-year struggle between the good and the evil will be fought. On evil's final assault, the sun and moon will darken and humankind will lose its reverence for religion, family, and elders. The world will fall into winter, and Asha's most fearsome miscreant, Azi Dahaka – a demonic person with three heads – will break free and terrorize the world. Saviour of the world, Saoshyant, will rise from fire and raise the dead to destroy the evil.

    Itaati pray five daily Gahs, and celebrate various holy festivals. Prayers (manthras) are conducted wth arms outstretched.

    Priests-prophets (temujin) receive prayers and guidance from God. The majesty (suu) of an Emperor is given by Asha/Tengri to a chosen individual (sultan) through which Tengri controls the world order.
     
  10. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Good summary. If you want to play around and maybe road test this, you might consider some of the doctrinal debates of Christianity. For example, are good and evil co-eternal? Did God create evil, and if not where is its source? If the world was created good, why is there so much bad in it? Has it always been thus? Do souls go directly to God or is there some version of purgatory or hell? If there's a day of judgment, then some are going to be judged unfit.

    And, more in the realm of story telling than theology, what about heresies? That is, what wrinkles (the questions above can provide fodder there) might you introduce into the system of beliefs that would lead to a rival church or some other form of dissidence? And what would be the response of orthodoxy?

    Nice blending, btw.
     
  11. Aldarion

    Aldarion Sage

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    Thanks.

    I did include some of it into Vetronian part:

    Main points of contention are on the nature of God following Creation. Views are as follows:

    God is completely separate from physical reality (deism)

    God contains physical reality within himself but is mostly separate from it

    God permeates physical reality but also extends beyond it and contains it

    God permeates physical reality and is correspondent with it

    God became physical reality and is identical with it

    Most of these are considered heresy by the Church. According to Church's teachings, God permeates the whole of existence, but also exists outside it. God is everywhere present and filling all things, and His energies maintain all of the Creation. God is supreme affect and effect of the existence. (note: Panentheism, that is, pan-entheism) Should He withdraw His presence, result would not be merely death, but rather a cessation of existence.


    Although I will likely make a more detailed writeup on various heresies at some point. Suggestions are welcome.

    Thanks.
     
  12. Judaism had a lot of fire in their worship (burning bush, burning of animal sacrifices, etc.) I think polynesian religion had some fire worship, like Pele.
     
  13. Hexasi

    Hexasi Scribe

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    You could try looking at (not a real world religion) the fire benders from avatar, maybe? I know its not really a "religion" but you might want to take a look at how the fire shapes their culture...?
     
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