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How to Sort the Priests

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Mindfire, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    So in one of my world's religious systems, the Orthodoxy, they worship six gods, collectively called the Lagarach. These are:

    Czithera, goddess of the moon, unblemished mother, Queen of the Lagarach
    Beora, greatbear goddess of strength, patron goddess of Beorgia, Firstborn of Czithera
    Sivara, goddess of the sea and honorable death
    Atruvac, god of fate and social order
    Divitri, god of craft and skill
    Grigori, god of zeal and passion

    I'm still working out the myths associated with these gods, but presently, I'm trying to figure out how to sort their priests. I'm thinking that priests will be sorted in two ways, "horizontally" and "vertically". When a priest or priestess decides to specialize in knowledge of a specific god, he or she becomes a member of that god's priesthood. Within each priesthood and across the Orthodoxy as a whole there will be different orders or "levels" depending on how high in the hierarchy a priest is. I'm currently thinking there may be three:

    Order of the Crescent, symbolized by the crescent moon, lowest
    Order of the Seafarer, symbolized by the half moon*, middle
    Order of the Circle, symbolized by the full moon, highest

    Under this scheme, the gibbous phase is neglected and thought of as an "in between" phase rather than a true one. As an alternative to this, I'm considering a 3+1 order system, with three regular orders and a "secret" fourth order that is comprised of the Avatar (the head of the religion), his close confidants, and the Cabalists, who act as his mystic secret police/enforcers. Under the alternative scheme, the highest order of ordinary priests would be symbolized by the gibbous moon (though I'm not sure what to call it) and the full moon would be viewed as a sacred symbol only used by the Avatar. The fourth "secret" order would then be called The Order of the Circle or the Circle of Six, or simply "The Circle", and would adopt the full moon as their crest.

    Which version works better? If the second, what's a good name for an order symbolized by the gibbous moon?




    *Half moons are associated with the neap tide, which is easier for vessels to navigate, thus the name "seafarer". It's similar to the title of "journeyman" in this context. I call it half moon rather than quarter moon because the first term is based on the moons appearance while the latter is based on it's position in its orbit around the earth. My fictional world is flat, and consequently the term "quarter moon" has no meaning.
     
  2. PlotHolio

    PlotHolio Sage

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    Why not just include the Gibbous Moon phases as other orders?

    For example:
    Crescent - Initiates
    Seafarer - Priests
    Gibbous - Bishops
    Circle - Heirophants

    As for a secret order, I think you're neglecting the phase of the moon that lends itself best to secrecy...

    The New Moon.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2013
  3. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    Well the problem with that is that this culture is highly superstitious and since the moon is their chief goddess, the view the new moon as being extremely unlucky and a lunar eclipse as portending a potential national catastrophe. From their perspective, no holy office would use the new moon as it's symbol. Only a heretic cult would do that. How would you draw a new moon anyway?
     
  4. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    Then again, the new moon always shifts back to brighter phases in turn, and turns new again. That sounds like symbology a priesthood could privately say "nobody likes that stage, but we understand it's necessary," and match to the idea of a hidden order that keeps their secrets or does their dirty work-- which a lot of powerful organizations find they want to have. ("Dark-of-the-moon Ops"?) At least, they might have tried it at some point and then decided it was too dangerous, and the result is that heretic cult.

    Maybe.
     
  5. PlotHolio

    PlotHolio Sage

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    To draw a new moon, you have several options, depending on how you're thinking of stylizing these moon sigils. If you're going with a white moon on a field of black, you could just reverse the colors of the full moon sigil: a black circle on a field of white.

    Also, I find it unlikely that a religion based around the moon would find one of its regular phases evil. They would more likely view it as a time of quiet reflection and worship. You should also not assume that heretics want to bring about the destruction of the religion. Most of them probably just want religious freedom. However, if you do have some sort of anti-Czithera cult that wanted to leave an impression, they might use eclipse symbolism as a scare tactic. For example, they might draw a hollow white circle on someone's door (so as to say "where's your god now?").
     
    Mindfire likes this.
  6. SineNomine

    SineNomine Minstrel

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    Is the solar system configured differently? Just a random thought here, but lunar eclipses occur pretty damn regularly here on earth, I can't imagine any culture seeing it as portending a catastrophe without coming across as silly. Catastrophes usually don't happen annually, and if they do you don't really tend to regard them as catastrophes anymore so much as "unfortunate facets of life".

    Then again, that's absolutely not a problem if lunar eclipses are outstandingly rare on this world.
     
  7. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    Astronomy as we understand it is somewhat inapplicable to this world, yes.
     
  8. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    Not evil, just unlucky. Czithera is more likely to be in a judgmental, "smite the wicked" mood than a mothering, merciful mood.

    That's true actually, but from the establishment's point of view they're dangerous radicals threatening to wreck the proper social order.
     
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