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What are some of the cultural implications of real gods and existance beyond death?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Logos&Eidos, Feb 10, 2015.

  1. Logos&Eidos

    Logos&Eidos Sage

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    This is a two part question related to aspects of my WIP.

    Existance beyond death is an unquestionable fact. Souls originate in the cosmic flow and return to it after death...usually. In very rare cases a person has enough will or spiritual power to avoid merging back into the source shortly after physical death. Such rare individuals may form bodies out of ectoplasm, which tend to look a little uncanny. If desperate or malicious enough these souls may try and possess a person; soul/body compatibility issues often means this doesn't work out very well.

    The gods are immensely complex and powerful souls dwelling on"islands" within the cosmic flow. The most spiritually attuned individuals,usually priests, can channel the energy of their god. This providence takes on two forms, one an intuitive knowledge of things under their gods purview. The second is the ability to bless or curse through influencing luck. Fate, destiny, chance, why things are the way that they are, is the result of the movements of the cosmic flow. The "gods" being great masses of spiritual power influence the course of the cosmic flow simply by existing within. Both forms of providence are stronger when they are used in attunement with that particular gods nature and will.

    What I'm a specifically a asking is for ideas on how real divine influence might effect people and their way of life, as well as how existance beyond death would effect them?

    What are the likely attitudes towards physical death?

    What would funerary practices be like?

    Are bodies just discarded or are they honored for the time that they served as a soul's vessel.
     
  2. Well, I think it depends on how broad you're going with the domains of the respective gods. Is there a god for everything, or just a few things?

    I would think people would see death as the beginning of a new life. If the existence of an afterlife is a confirmed thing, then why would any person fear death? It kind of dismantles the entire purpose of a religion as a whole.
     
  3. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    Well, assuming that the gods and cosmic flow are common knowledge, there wouldn't be any atheism, and there might not be organized religion. Tolkien, for example, didn't have much in the way of religion in his setting. The existence of the Valar is absolute fact. So what you might get is individual prayer to certain gods, but probably not large religious organizations.
     
  4. Logos&Eidos

    Logos&Eidos Sage

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    The Twelve old Gods were the firs sapient begins in the cosmos;An they left an indelible mark upon it. Where defeated by the new gods,mortals that had not only ascended to divinity but amassed enough power to challenge them. After the we war the gods that lead the uprising established a new supernal hierarchy with themselves at the top. There are countless gods for their are many mortals who one way or another attained ascension. Most are fairly weak, the ancestors spirits of family or clan, folk heroes who have been literally deified. The Stronger ones like Like The Red Cloaked Slayer have a large enough follower base to be accorded a chair in the supernal court.

    Each of the gods according to their temperament, vocations and passion preAscension have their domains. The leaders of the Supernal Court are the classic archetypical gods;,king,warrior, trickster,sage,hunter,traveler/messenger.

    The one possible reason to fear death would be,that the cosmic flow is no after life, by returning to the source one longer exists as individual but as a part of a greater whole. Particularly individualistic or egotistic individuals would likely find that scenario unacceptable.
     
  5. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    In my setting, the existence of gods is a well documented, scientific fact. There are gods and they do occasionally meddle in the affairs of mortals, but they will mainly act through intermediaries, such as prophets, priests, or paladins - or other religious functionaries.
    One of the consequences of this is that religious institutions, such as churches etc, have a bit more power and influence than they would have in a secularized real world country.
     
  6. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    I agree that there wouldn't be widespread atheism if the existence of gods is an empirical fact, but I'm not sure about an absence of organized religion. There could one single organized religion that addresses all the gods, or maybe each god has their own individualized cult with unique practices. One god might require blood sacrifices, another might prefer fruit or cooked meat, and so on.
     
  7. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I think Tolkien handled the afterlife idea pretty well. Elves, Dwarves and Men (and Hobbits, possibly) have a different fate awaiting them after death. Everyone goes to the Halls of Mandos first; Elves stay there for a certain amount of time, depending on their deeds in life, before getting the chance to be reborn in Arda. (Those who did especially evil things, like Feanor who caused the first Kinslaying, stay there for the longest time.) Men eventually pass on beyond the World to be with Eru in the Timeless Halls; this is called the Gift of Men and is deeply mysterious to Elves. (Half-elves, like Elrond and his parents and children, get to choose whether they wish to be counted among elves or Men.) Dwarves, who were created by one of the Valar but adopted as Children of Eru, have a special place set apart for them in Mandos. Hobbits I am not sure about.
     
    Tom likes this.
  8. Snowpoint

    Snowpoint Sage

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    In this setting perhaps Instead of people who ignore the gods, there would be people who hate them. The religious groups would have more power, so they can't admit to it. This would be one or more secret orders that act to limit the influence of gods.
     
  9. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    It's not directly related to the OP's project, but while we're talking about the afterlife, ever wondered how an interfaith couple would reconcile their disparate ideas after life after death? If, say, a Mormon guy were to marry a Haitian Vodouist woman, would they expect their souls to reunite in the afterlife given their religions' different portrayals of that afterlife?
     
  10. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

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    I want to use the Elder Scrolls as an example but the religion in that series is very complex.

    Oblivion and Aetherius are the cosmic flow where all elemental forces (such as magic) exist and, it is believed, they (but mostly Oblivion) are also the afterlife. The primary gods (the Divines) reside in an island of Oblivion called Mundus which surrounds the mortal world, while the lesser gods (the Daedra) have their own islands (the Planes of Oblivion).
    Mortals tend to worship gods that suit their specific needs. Some people like the closer and more active relationships of Daedra while others prefer the distant but righteous Aedra. And different gods are likely to give their followers different instructions and information depending on what the God wants. In-universe, attitudes towards death vary greatly from culture to culture because of the different gods even when it's often the same afterlife.

    So, what I'm saying is that divine influence isn't that important, it's more about how people interpret that influence.
     
  11. Hainted

    Hainted Sage

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    I've suggested it before but Max Gladstone's books deal with this question.

    In my opinion it would drive the gods to be more active. I don't see a religion with a passive god that leaves worshipers to their own devices or prints a book and never performs a miracle lasting long. Churches would get cutthroat in recruitment and people who would interpret the gods wishes or commandments to justify their own prejudices or shortcomings would be in for a rude awakening from on high.

    As for death, it would depend. Even knowing there's an afterlife wouldn't negate the fear of dying. If you're to be judged or punished or just don't want to leave your family then the fear of death is still there.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2015
  12. SM-Dreamer

    SM-Dreamer Troubadour

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    It also wouldn't just be a fear of death, but a fear of how one dies. Some might also fear that they hadn't finished whatever they wanted, or they might enjoy their life too much. There would still be fear, because that fear is the desire to live.

    As for the gods, while they might be known to exist, rather than believed, unless they took a direct or active role in the world, I think that the particular cults around them would vary. This would happen because people can easily interpret things differently as suits them, and unless a god came down and abolished a misguided belief, it would take root and continue. Thus different cultures, and different groups within cultures, would worship and interpret things differently.
     
  13. Hainted

    Hainted Sage

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    There's actually a good story seed there. How would religious leaders react to god saying "Yeah, you're not getting it right. Here's what I meant...."
     
    WooHooMan and Ireth like this.
  14. Logos&Eidos

    Logos&Eidos Sage

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    While there is going to be some form of organized religion it,in light of the fact the higher powers are objectively real. It probably wouldn't resemble what we here on earth are accustom to seeing. Somewhere a the Wheel Of Time or Robert Jordan Q&A, RJ says something to the effect of, a lot of the pomp,ceremony of organized religion is to affirm faith; and in a world with proof of religion it wouldn't be necessary. My own ideas on how the faiths might interact with their communities, is that i believe that the both the institution and the clergy are to be integrated into their communities; instead of somewhat aloof of the. The only example that I've seen of this is are the religious guilds discussed in an episode of Crucible of realms.

    I agree that while atheism doesn't exist, however nay-theism does, people that want nothing to do with the higher powers.

    That's actually something I'd attributed to only one group of people,who'd best be described as magitech transhumanists.

    That's something that i will take into consideration,especially since I'd intended direct communication between the gods and even the most devoted and spiritually attuned person to be garbled. Most folks are reacting to what they "feel" the gods want.

    I laid down the theological land scape in an early post" The Twelve old Gods were the firs sapient begins in the cosmos;An they left an indelible mark upon it. Where defeated by the new gods,mortals that had not only ascended to divinity but amassed enough power to challenge them. After the we war the gods that lead the uprising established a new supernal hierarchy with themselves at the top. There are countless gods for their are many mortals who one way or another attained ascension. Most are fairly weak, the ancestors spirits of family or clan, folk heroes who have been literally deified. The Stronger ones like Like The Red Cloaked Slayer have a large enough follower base to be accorded a chair in the supernal court."

    The Old Gods did not create religion, mortals did, the distant ancestors of the mortal races noticed a power that was present in the world and then figured how to tap into it. This power had it's character and cadence, and the power in tune they were with this power the effective their use of it became. After a certain threshold had been crossed the gods became aware of all the mortals on their spiritual frequencies, for all those mortals were inadvertently sending power to the gods. This is when divine politics started to get"interesting" because all those mortals where worth something beyond their value as observational instruments and curiosities.


    The gods can't enter the mortal world, they have to much spiritual mass to cross the veil, in order to get across they'd have break off smaller piece of themselves and send them across in their stead. Which in fact happened in pre-prehistory, the Old Gods flinging shards of themselves across the veil is the origin of all complex then later sapient life.
     
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