Old Gods: Thoughts

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Old Gods: Thoughts

Post  Grandpa on Tue Sep 02, 2008 7:59 pm

The Old Gods. The Elves will hang some men for worshiping them, and so understandably, worship is much declined in these later years. But there are always bastions of quiet, private worship.

What should this look like? I thought up on it a bit, and here I am with my views, offering up bastardized Czech/possible Edain language.

Kree Mirean. Kree Jurean. Kree Baelean. The three spheres of the old gods, and the oldest of the old gods themselves.

They are the lords and lady of their pantheon, and embody birth, life, and death.

Kree Jurean, or Lord of the Living Life(alternatively translated: Lord of the People/Gods of the Living Life). Most worship lies in the realm of Kree Jurean, who is the mediator between Kree Mirean and Kree Baelean, hated enemies. Kree Jurean's priests 'teachings' revolved around the idea that life was a balance between birth and death, and was to be -lived- in the "inbetween time."

Priests of Kree Jurean focused on the harvest, and even combat: basic aspects off life. Warriors-Priests of Kree Jurean focus on the shield and bow, as defending yourself and hunting are both a vital part of life. The land is the realm of Kree Jurean.

Kree Mirean, or the Lady of the Living Birth(alternatively translated: Lady of the People/Gods of the Living Birth). The pantheon of Kree Mirean involves sex, sowing seed, babies, and healing. Warrior-Priests of Kree Mirean onlu use peasant-weapons, as they are -not- about death, but instead the harvest, the results of sowing. A pitchfork is a perfect example. The underworld is the realm of Kree Mirean.

Kree Baelean, or the Lord of the Living Death(alt. translated: Lord of the People/Gods of the Living Death). The pantheon of Kree Baelean is made up of revenge, genocide, plague, and other relatively unpleasant things. There were few devotees to Kree Baelean, as from a mortal standpoint these things are evil. The worship of all the Old Gods, and Kree Jurean, teaches that these are necessary. Warrior-Priests of Kree Baelean tend to use the sword, and thrown weapons, often wielding weapons in both hands(or, more rarely, one in each). The sky is the realm of Kree Baelean.

Worship of the Old Gods was rarely devoted to a single god: However, the cult of Kree Baelean has survived the best over the past generations, as it has always been in secret: few like to know if you worship the death god(s). Thus some of the reputation of the Old Gods worshipers has been earned by the (relative) thriving of the worshipers of Kree Baelean.

Popular story:

Kree Mirean and Kree Baelean were arguing over which animals belonged to who. "The crow is surely mine," said Kree Baelean. "It eats off of death: it is a creature of death." "Then the cattle are surely mine, for they treat their young so well, and do not feed on flesh." Kree Jurean had been watching, smiling. "But does the crow not give birth, and eat what others will not? Will a bull not kill a challenger, doing what the horns of the bull are meant to do? The animals are not ours, no more than the people are ours: they are their own, and will choose all, one, or none of us as they will."

Funerals and what they mean:

The last point is relates to a general view of spirituality more than any particular God. When you die, what is done with your body means something. To the worshippers of the Old Gods, without a funeral you are stuck to your body. You only leave your body when given a funeral, either by the Gods, or by your fellows. A funeral by the gods is one where a body is forgotten, and eventually dealt with by the gods: eaten, and buried by the passage of time and erosion. This is highly shameful to the family, and perhaps a cause of curses: bodies will be buried in effigy, to appease some of this.

Burning: The highest honor, your body is sent into the heavens along with your spirit.

Mountain Cave: Nearer to the heavens, your body is placed high up in the mountains in a cairn, or buried in a mountain cave.

Cairn/Burial: You are nothing special, and your body is given no special honors or shames.

Underground cave: Quietly reviled, you are set out of sight and out of mind, forgotten.

Bog: Burial in a bog is unusual, and sometimes practiced before death: Those of great shame are tossed into a swamp and held under the waters until they are dead, so they may never go to the heavens.

This is my general outline on "Old Gods" worship and how I plan to view it: anybody got anything to add?

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Re: Old Gods: Thoughts

Post  Kithrater on Tue Sep 02, 2008 8:41 pm

Questions more than answers...

How are the gods distributed amongst the Edain? Three people escaped from whatever befell them in the homelands - the Folk of Beor, Marach and Haleth. Do the people as a whole favour particular gods? Or is it an individual, or family affair?

How powerful is a God, and how "human" are the Gods? Do Gods have children, take mortal wives or husbands? Can a God be slain, only to rise again? Do Gods bleed? Do they have mainly human forms? Can they shapeshift? Or do they have no defined form, or some animal appearance?

With Gods come messengers, servants, lackeys and tools, as well as enemies and outside forces. Who does or did the mundane tasks required by the Gods? What servants did they command, and how did they interact with the world? Could you speak to a God directly, or were you required to beg a servant spirit to take your message to the Gods? Was there direct prayer, or distributed through the priesthood? How did the Gods first come to humanity, or did humanity come from the Gods?

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Re: Old Gods: Thoughts

Post  Grandpa on Tue Sep 02, 2008 9:14 pm

Kithrater wrote:Questions more than answers...

How are the gods distributed amongst the Edain? Three people escaped from whatever befell them in the homelands - the Folk of Beor, Marach and Haleth. Do the people as a whole favour particular gods? Or is it an individual, or family affair?

How powerful is a God, and how "human" are the Gods? Do Gods have children, take mortal wives or husbands? Can a God be slain, only to rise again? Do Gods bleed? Do they have mainly human forms? Can they shapeshift? Or do they have no defined form, or some animal appearance?

With Gods come messengers, servants, lackeys and tools, as well as enemies and outside forces. Who does or did the mundane tasks required by the Gods? What servants did they command, and how did they interact with the world? Could you speak to a God directly, or were you required to beg a servant spirit to take your message to the Gods? Was there direct prayer, or distributed through the priesthood? How did the Gods first come to humanity, or did humanity come from the Gods?

Thanks for the reply(and, y'know, for the whole making a MUD thing). I kept it vague to avoid drowning it in details(I may have failed), but here's come clarification.

I created this as something that could be split among the Three Peoples, with less of a view towards the Haleth than Beor or Marach. Why? Haleth are traditionally isolationist, and in some way I see both Beor and Marach looking to Haleth with some confusion. Religion, I think, would be a part of that. If this is something Haleth players feel like picking up, then by all means. Do people favor particular gods? I imagined that the idea of favoring a particular god was rare: the whole point of Kree Jurean is to be balanced between Kree Mirean and Kree Baelean, certainly, whereas Kree Baelean doesn't lend himself much to worshippers, so if there's a particularly large cutl of worshippers, it'd be under Kree Mirean.

Individual vs. family? Family. This is something, especially now, to be passed from father to son, mother to daughter. "These men worship the Valar, son, but we have always worshipped Kree Jurean. We always will."

The power of the gods, and the humanity of the gods. I think the story points to the humanity of the gods: they're foolish, in some sense, and if I can certainly see an alternate version of that story where instead all three gods are arguing, and an animal says, "You fools, we pick or choose you as we will. And I'm certainly -none- of yours!"

The power of these gods I've described is that they're the head of a pantheon(or, depending upon interpretation, they're the entire pantheon themselves): they are in charge of gods who are in charge of things: Kree Mirean is in charge of a god who controls -rain-, let's say, and we all know how important that is. These are gods who will speak through signs in the sky(clouds), or the earth(those rocks and sticks on the ground look like runes that have been cast), runes, sudden revelations, dreams, and even animals.

Human form, I would imagine, is the main way worshippers would view them, appearing as various sets(like the Greek gods did, Athena even being an old man at one point) with a very stylized animal being another form: Kree Baelean appearing as a blood-covered bear or a deer's corpse, Kree Mirean being a fawn at spring, Kree Jurean a buck just growing new horns. It's open to interpretation(and regional variation).

Bleeding: I see them as bleeding for the convenience of story telling, and even 'dying' in an animal form(like how Greek gods would appear on battlefields in the body of man), but would they die? They're not that sort of god, I think.

What does a god do that is mundane? These are gods that are running the world(to the people), and their main interaction was not in seeking people out, but mortal-supplication seeking the gods out.

It's 'direct' through a family idol, or even out in the wilderness to a personal...token, but the priesthood existed primarily to maintain shrines+read/interpret dreams and signs.

I'll be back for the last two questions in a bit

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Re: Old Gods: Thoughts

Post  Bard on Wed Sep 03, 2008 3:05 am

I got the PM, Grandpa (heheh, always smile when I see that account name), and I can pose questions/thoughts etc here so other people can read them too.

I think it's a great idea, what you've got here! Smile

I like the "secret quiet bastions" mention in particular. It is the only way worship of any "old gods" could work. The Edain didn't have any organised religion(s) in worship of any gods - except the Ainur/Valar, and some few would have even held the Elves as gods (or godlings... godlets? heh) - and then there were those who worshipped Morgoth/Melkor, even without really knowing who he really was.

So in answer to one of the questions Kith proposed: I imagine we'd be looking at an individual/family affair here. Nothing much bigger than that, and nothing particularly "organised", except perhaps of the worship of the "death god" since Morgoth would have a special interest in keeping that worship alive.

Which brings me to my next point:

There would be some easy parallels between these "old gods" and the "real Valar" (Morgoth included), so if you want more ideas to "fill out" these personas, you can easily take attributes from any of the Valar or the Maiar, distort them even (to a point heh), and add those characteristics to the old gods. These parallels are important since they would be the biggest reason (imo) that any such religion formed in the first place - a misunderstanding or distortion of the nature/purpose of the Ainur, which is true to canon. And they are the biggest reason for the Elves to tell the Edain the truth.

I love that you aimed it at the People of Haleth, since they were isolated from the other two kindreds of Men, and disliked the Elves pointedly. That dislike/distrust would be their biggest reason for ignoring anything the Elves said to them. Very good thinking, that! Smile

And final point:

I think it will fit in with canon really well, as you've put it above. It's small, secret, subject to change (note the alliteration there - I'm a poet!! Very Happy), and adds subtle colour to the diversity/variety we already have in the game. It's something that could well exist between the pages of the Silmarillion without necessarily being mentioned - which is what we're all about. Very Happy
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