1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Religion crafting advice

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Androxine Vortex, Mar 9, 2015.

  1. Androxine Vortex

    Androxine Vortex Archmage

    986
    80
    28
    Creed, Russ and CupofJoe like this.
  2. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    4,307
    1,469
    163
    That looks like it could a very useful point to start.
     
  3. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

    1,349
    642
    113
    I agree with CupofJoe: good starting point but I don't think it offers any special insight or ideas.
    I wish the writer went into more detail about overlapping religions, especially if the religions shared some deities but not others. Or maybe talk about about henotheism or different interpretations of the same deity. These ideas are what I'm kind of struggling with.

    I also wished there was a guide on building pantheons based around themes. The writer sort of touched on this but some examples would be nice. How would a militaristic culture's pantheon differ from an agrarian society or a European flavor pantheon versus an East Asian pantheon?
     
  4. Androxine Vortex

    Androxine Vortex Archmage

    986
    80
    28
    I agree but at the same time it might be something you overlook so at least now you might be more aware of it.
     
  5. Fyle

    Fyle Inkling

    402
    51
    28
    I would tend to think doing it the hard way is the best way.

    Study religions throughout history and the effect they had on society. What better way to get a feel on how to write about it?

    That of course takes time and effort. Reading books on "how to write about religion" seems to me like paying someone else to do your research and get their outlook on it (I am not saying it is quite that simple but... the best way to learn is to gain your own knowledge in the matter).
     
  6. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

    1,611
    513
    113
    A
    If I was going to go about creating a pantheon for a society, I would first consider things they value, what is important to them in their everyday lives. People need something familiar to hang onto in troubled times. Even if the "deities" are similar in their "area of expertise" so to speak, they might be subtly different depending on the culture. If it were a militaristic society, a god of fortune might save your life in a battle; an arrow nicking your face instead of slicing the jugular... In an agrarian culture, the same type of god might give you a better price at the market come time to sell your crops, or perhaps give you a slightly better yield because the birds attack the fruit of a neighbors farm instead of yours. One might also give you luck at card or dice games if you are a gypsy culture... I think you see my point.

    As for east vs. west, I think; and I may be wrong about this, really the only differences are in the ceremonies that surround the worship of the deity, not really the types of deities one has versus the other. Eastern cultures like the Japanese tended to put alot more ritual into the worship of their gods than their heathenistic western cousins. It was about achieving perfection in the execution of the rituals, which bled into their everyday lives as a result.

    In my work in progress, I use a single goddess whose name and form varies depending on the culture, so had no need of a pantheon for my world as yet. Perhaps I will consider one for another piece.
     
  7. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

    1,349
    642
    113
    But why wouldn't the militaristic God of fortune also get you better prices or help you gamble? Wouldn't both of those be in his domain?
    I was thinking that a "gambling" culture would value a god of fortune but a warrior culture may reject fortune as a cause of success in favor of honor or skill. In which case the warrior culture would have a god of honor which the gamblers may lack.

    For my WIP, I want to avoid broad-domain gods in favor of very specific gods who could really only govern the culture they belong to.


    The cultures inform the definition of Godhood.

    For example, in China, spirituality was also closely tied to legality. They define godhood as a government job. The pantheon in heaven operated like the government of China. The Jade Emperor, the head deity, would assign being to various positions in his empire - the universe with the Emperor of China being the Jade Emperor's governor of the province of Earth. This is called the Mandate of Heaven.
    Many gods in Chinese mythology were mortals or minor spirits who were promoted into godhood by the celestial beaurocracy.

    In most Western cultures, godhood is a clan system with the gods belonging to a single family. This is because western culture is full of monarchies and family-owned institutions. In short, the kingdom of creation is a hereditary monarchy rather than the imperial government of the Chinese myths.

    And then there's Vedic Hindu, Africans and Native Americans who all have their own types of pantheons.

    Also, I don't think "heathenistic" is the word you want to use. Westerners just have their own way of doing religion; that doesn't make them heathens. This is exactly why people should understand how different cultural viewpoints define religion and people's relationship to religion.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2015
  8. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

    653
    243
    43
    On the question about pantheons and cultures, I think the answer is about emphasis. Take the Greeks, for example: most Ancient Greek peoples detested Ares, as he was the god of the more negative aspects of warfare. The Spartans and the Thracian barbarians who adopted the Greek pantheon held him in very high regard. So for a militant culture, make them place their war god in a higher place in the pantheon. For an agrarian culture, put their god or goddess of fertility in a higher place.
     
  9. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

    1,349
    642
    113
    I'm wondering about how you would make a pantheon totally unique to a specific culture.
    For example, in Hinduism, Shiva is often called the patron god of yoga while Yama is a god of dharma. The concepts of yoga and dharma do not exist in Greek culture so the Greeks do not have gods of dharma and yoga. Even if you simplify Yama as "the god of death", the Hindu concept of death is totally different from the European concept.

    I think if you're going to do a guide to building a pantheon, you need to acknowledge that different cultures have different worldviews, philosophies and needs and this will influence the religions they practice. I'm sure there are pantheons that flat-out don't have or acknowledge some of the typical "stock gods" like war, fertility or whatever but may have some esoteric gods.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2015
  10. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

    653
    243
    43
    Hinduism is probably the most unique polytheistic religion. Most of the others follow similar structures, though there are of course a fair number of differences.
     
  11. Noldona

    Noldona Scribe

    46
    25
    8
    I totally agree. Seeing how culture has informed religion and religion has informed culture all over the world is a great way of figuring out how to make your own pantheons realistic. And religion is more than just what gods exist and what domains they cover. There are practices, beliefs, differences in faiths, and symbology to consider.

    If you look at the different denominations of the Christian religion, you can see examples of how different groups of people can interpret their religion differently even though the basis is the same. And you can also create branches of the religion as with the other Abrahamic religions. Judaism, Catholicism, Christianity, and Islam are all based upon the same stuff way back in the day, and branched off at different points and evolved into the religions they are now. Each have their own beliefs and practices despite having a common starting point.

    Any of the shamanistic belief systems common to tribal cultures and the different Pagan traditions are great examples of how cultures and geographic location and affect the religion. In Greek mythology, the gods lived on top of a mountain probably due to the mountainous region that is Greece. While in Norse mythology, the gods lived in a mead hall which was a common type of building for the Norse due to the environment and culture.

    If you look at the history of the British Isles, you can see how other cultures affected religion of the area. When the Norse invaded, they brought with them their beliefs which informed how the later Celts and Druids would practice their beliefs. Later the Roman invaded and brought Catholicism with them. The Catholic church ended up adopting beliefs and practices so far into converting some of the Pagan gods into Catholic saints in order to ease conversion.

    For symbols, a great example is the pentagram. Different religions use it to mean different things. The Pagans use the pentagram to represent the 5 elements. The Catholics used it to represent the 5 wounds of Christ. Satanist use the inverted form to represent the devil.

    For anything you are creating, if you want it to seem more realistic and plausible, look at how related stuff in the real world work, and take some cues from that.
     
    Creed likes this.
  12. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

    653
    243
    43
    You do know that the Christianity arrived in the British Isles long before the Norse, right? And that the Romans conquered the Britain long before Christianity was a major religion?
     
  13. Noldona

    Noldona Scribe

    46
    25
    8
    Guess I need to check my facts before posting instead of trying to comment about history from memory. Other then my factual errors on history, my point is still valid.
     
Loading...

Share This Page