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[SYSTEMS] RELIGION - AL EWING/JONATHAN HICKMAN, PART 3
Believe in the gods.
Okay, the holy text.
So, working from what we said last time, what we are looking at here should be considered the holy text of the universe of 3W3M as it is NOW. Underneath it, apocrypha should exist that predates this cycles current religion.
In fact, the universe of 3W3M should have strata of religions (and/or non-religions) that mark each ‘age’. As the beginning and end of each cycle is built to be revolutionary and the necessity of both violent births and deaths of culture -- so the swings should be wild.
But back to the now...
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THE RELIGIOUS TEXT OF THE THREE WORLDS/THREE MOONS
In the beginning, there was DIVINE ZUVA, the All-Intelligence, the unknowable unknown, whose form is macro-cosmic light born from the foam of time. The First Principle, beyond all concerns and deaf to all entreaties and prayers.
Seeking to understand base matter and other things beneath hir supra-knowledge, DIVINE ZUVA called three SERVANT-GODS into being, from light and shadow, and spun them around hir in endless dance, to whisper the secrets they learned.
First came VODA, the Powerful One, eternal as tides, strong as rushing waves, deep as restless oceans. Generator of the sacred Substance, the primordial union of all opposites – each atom of which is in endless conflict, a micro-war from which infinite energy flows. There are those who speak of VODA-IN-GLORY, who is the benevolent Holy Sea that teems with bountiful gifts and infinite forms of blessed life. And there are those who speak of VODA-IN-DAMNATION, the crushing Nightmare Deep that must be conquered for its treasures, brimming over with monsters and terrors and the souls of drowned men. These two viewpoints are irreconcilable, and though none may soil the Substance with aggression or use it to make war, neither side will rest until those they see as heretics are wiped from the Water-world.
VODA called on no servant of its own. It needs none. There are no prayers to VODA, for it has already done all it will do in creating the Substance.
So, Sasha is currently designing all the symbols and banners and iconography of each ‘world’ -- and I suppose, by extension -- some bastardized version of that should be incorporated into the designs of the gods themselves.
Which, until right this second, I hadn’t actually planned on us doing. But reading through this, we don’t just need to do that, we should actually just take this text and do a short comic showing all this. An illuminated bible of sorts.
Maybe down in the comments make some suggestions of who you might want to see do that. I think it should be really graphic and not super comic-booky -- more illustrated than sequential.
Anyway, I have ideas, but we’re open to suggestions. Make ‘em good.
Second came VATRA, the Righteous One, glowing in the fire of their own conviction. VATRA, the Divine Right, Ordainer of kings and queens, princelings and bloodlines.
VATRA, bringer of the Good Work and the Just Reward. VATRA chooses the rulers and the ruled, for each living being has their place in the hierarchy, their work that must be done. Everything has an ordained place, and VATRA decides that place. VATRA is perfection. Prayers to them take the form of devoted thanks that the supplicant’s life is as it is – and not worse.
I love this beat of ‘this is how you pray to this god, and this is how you pray to another.’ It implies a codified kind of language that always makes this stuff feel more real.
To challenge them, and prove their rightness and the rightness of their justice in all things, VATRA called from the void the rebel-servant HOVA, DAEMON OF AIR. Where VATRA is the controlled flame, the heat of the workman’s forge, the flaming brazier of punishment for sin, HOVA is the empty breeze, that spins the weathervane at random, that flows from the lungs of the mockers, that carries idle song. HOVA is the Daemon of Chance and Play, sundering the bond between Work and Reward. HOVA, the gambler, encourages those who earned none of their wealth to waste even that on song and sport, to seek gain without effort, to fritter their time on hobbies and unserious pursuits – and such was VATRA’s intent, for those that fall and lose everything will learn their lessons and build themselves up in VATRA’s embrace, learning the value of hardship. Prayers to HOVA take the form of kissed dice and large bets on impossible odds.
Is ‘gambler’ the most revered archetype in most mythology? Or is that an American (read western, I guess) thing? Beat the odds, bet on yourself, etc., etc.
Even when designing all this stuff at the base level, Heir was always the easiest to get the hook into.
Last came VADIS, the Knowing One, aware of all things that grow and fly and swim and creep, including those creations of VODA and VATRA, for water and fire too are part of hys domain. VADIS knows the great interconnected web of all things – from the food chains of beasts and fish and fowl to the shaken hand, the offered gift, the taken bribe. All is connected within the systems of VADIS, and in hys systems, new systems constantly generate and merge. Prayers to VADIS take the form of wishes. Something they are granted, often not, but in all cases, the systems of VADIS are correct.
VADIS, seeking new and balanced connections, called upon not one servant, but two – ARDAR, DAEMON OF ORDER and XAOC, DAEMON OF CHAOS. But though the intent of VADIS was for his servants to assist hym in hys great work, his Daemons took instantly to war with one another for hys favor, until one slew the other. In the accepted texts, ARDAR slew XAOC with a shaft of pure crystal, symbolising reason. Now XAOC resides in the tomb-world - a nightmarish underworld for those disavowed or excommunicated by the two main Sects – and is never prayed to. ARDAR is prayed to sometimes, by those asking him to go behind VADIS’ back and perform some small mercy escaping hys gaze.
Here at Vadis point is where I start to pull back a bit from this being an active mythology on Therra.
We definitely want to have massive variance of ‘practicing cultures’ in the 3W3M universe, so I almost feel like we need to inject heresy and apostasy here, but we’ll get into that in the application section.
ARDAR sits at the right hand of VADIS, collating hys endless work – yet at the same time, this Daemon cannot be controlled. XAOC, though dead and in the underworld, still exists. On the last day, XAOC will rise from the tomb-world, and ARDAR will abandon all loyalty to VADIS to make war anew. In some minor apocryphal versions, XAOC wins that war and VADIS is forced to create a new system of unreason to accommodate hys new servant – which will mean the end of all that currently is. In one extremely minor apocryphal version, this already happened in reverse, with ARDAR rising from the tomb-world to challenge XAOC.
There is another possible end to the story – disavowed on pain of death by one of the Twin Sects, embraced as doctrine by the other. That in some future aeon, ARDAR or XAOC will rise from death – not to battle, but instead to be tempted by the sweet air of HOVA, that all three Daemons might make war upon VADIS, overthrow hym, and then turn on VATRA, VODA and eventually even DIVINE ZUVA hirself.
And in those ruins will be born a new Sun, and the Second Age of Man.
Man, do I love the all the rebel moons unified against the dominion worlds idea seeded here.
It’s contrary to what we have so far, and it definitely pulls against this ‘who’s really in charge’ thing we have going on...but it’s a great idea.
So let’s see if we can’t work it in there.
Okay, tomorrow we’ll wrap this up with the application sections. Which is always the hardest (and most fun) part.