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Religion vs. Magic

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Schwarzseher, Jan 13, 2021.

  1. jacksimmons

    jacksimmons Scribe

    So are you saying that in your setting, where mages actually have the ability to control the elements and produce magical outcomes, it makes sense that they would be the dominant force, the caste that most people believe in, as opposed to priests, who have no demonstrable magical abilities?

    I don't know if I am understanding you perfectly, but I think an obvious way around your problem is to do with political power. If priests are tied to a royal family, a military caste, or something of the sort then they would easily be able to repress, ostracise, and overpower mages. They would also have control of education (and propaganda), which would be a pretty easy way of keeping the plebs in line.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  2. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

    What's the problem then? Have it be different manifestations. Still not a problem having multiple ones in the same setting.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  3. Schwarzseher

    Schwarzseher Dreamer

    That is the issue.
    Important: Not because of the power itself, but because the power would be connected to the divine.
    And that happens because of this reason:

    That could work, but not in the sense, I want to put the setting.
    The setting: It shall not follow the modern narrative, which basically states that spirituality is something made up to trick the people, to play with their fears. In other words, priesthood shall not be the highest social class due to oppression, lie, scam. They shall be the highest class, because in is inherent part role they represent in the society, i.e. as the connecting link to the divinities. The people believe them, because there is truth in their words. (In the story it remains a "soft religion" system nonetheless.)
    The thing is (leaving Christianity aside), the worldly power was in the hands of the nobility. The kings, radas, jarls, satraps had the material power in their hands. But nontheless, in the social stratification, they were above the nobility. Priests on the other side can be ascetics, with filthy hair, clad in dirty clothing, owning no property, but still they are members of the highest social class (Gymnosophists - Wikipedia).

    Maybe this nails it:
    They rule, not because they want to, but because they are; they are not at liberty to play second.
    Friedrich Nietzsche
    57 < The Antichrist < Friedrich Nietzsche <4umi word
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  4. Snowpoint

    Snowpoint Sage

    Theory I've need thinking about for a while. Consider the following:
    In ancient civilizations Religion, Politics, Entertainment were all the same thing. People believe in gods, Kings get their authority from gods, what little time available for entertainment is stories and plays about gods. And if you are in charge, those stories are written to benefit you.

    Your mages are either part of the power structure of society, or counter to that power structure. They either prove the religion is real, or disprove it by not participating. Or they pay lip service to religion because they are not immune to the Power structure that is the Church.
    Schwarzseher and S.T. Ockenner like this.
  5. Patrick-Leigh

    Patrick-Leigh Sage

    I’m pressed for time, but a quick thing I’d like to suggest is having power from the gods be able to do things that cannot be replicated with magic. In my setting, Arcane Magic can suture a wound, mend a bone, a bring down a fever, but only Divine Power can regenerate a limb that has been totally lost. Arcane Magic can only work with materials you have on hand whereas Divine Power can create new material out of nothing. Something like that might be useful to you. Think about what a person connected to the gods could do that other magic users cannot.
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  6. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Minstrel

    I'm working on a story that contains priests and mages and healers. Each has a different role, although there's some overlap between them. In my worldbuilding, they mostly get along with each other (although to take that idea and spin it in a different direction, there could be rivalries between them... who knows?)

    In this world, the priests have a religious function. While it's a polytheistic society, the religious establishment is, if anything, more akin to the Catholic Church in the role it serves. The priests (who are men and women both) are kind of like monk, nun, and priest rolled into one. They deal with the gods, instruct the people in religious teachings, hear confessions (that works similarly to in Catholicism), perform rituals like funerals and weddings, that kind of thing. Some priests are also healers, just like in our world, a nun might also be a nurse, but there are also plenty of healers who are not priests. Priests know some magic, but they aren't as specialized in it as the mages are.

    Healers are the doctors, basically. Modern medicine as we know it doesn't exist in this world, but the kinds of healing that do exist get as complex as any medical specialty, and take years of training to master. A healer is someone who's gone through that extensive training and is, shall we say, the highest medical authority. Other people might have the equivalent of first aid skills, even paramedic skills, but a healer is who you need if the injury is serious. Healers don't work with magic the way mages and priests do, but there's some grey area between what is and isn't magic, especially in healing arts. They do use forms of healing that we might see as magic, but that are actually based on real world non-mainstream practices (reiki or curanderismo, for example).

    Mages are the magic specialists. They respect the gods, but they don't deal with them as directly as the priests do, and they don't serve the kind of role in the community that the priests do. They have some healing skills, but at the first aid level, not the fully trained healer level (their work puts them at risk of magical injuries, as well as the mundane risks anyone could face, and they need to be prepared to deal with that). Their focus is on developing and maintaining the technology that magic makes possible (the industrial revolution never happened, but plenty of technologies developed out of magic) and keeping it from upsetting the balance of nature (otherwise, there might be problems, like, you know, climate change). And on correcting the problems that ensue when someone somewhere misuses some magic or messes up the balance of magical and natural energies in the world (that happens a lot and really keeps the mages busy).

    So, it's kind of like pastor, doctor, scientist, reimagined for a world that runs on magic.
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