Saturday, April 22, 2017

A House Divided: The Hamutian Religion

First, let me clarify the nomenclature involved in describing Hamutian subjects:

Hamut means "kingdom" in Hamutian, the Hamuts are the two kingdoms,  Hamutia refers to both kingdoms and all territories they control, and the people and all things from Hamutia, collectively, are described as Hamutians. Hamutia is split into two kingdoms: Ptah-Hamut to the west of the Hamutian Sea and Raj-Hamut to the east of the Hamutian Sea. Peoples from Ptah-Hamut are called Ptah-Hamuts and peoples from Raj-Hamut are called Raj-Hamuts. They speak Hamutian and their gods are collectively part of the Hamutian pantheon.

The Hamutian religion is one that focus on creation, preservation, and destruction of everything from the universe to the individual.



CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE:
COSMIC EGGS, SEAS, & SERPENTS

According to Hamutian scripture, in the Asuran scrolls, the Ptah-Hamuts [puh-tah-ha-moots] believe that this is the only and final version of reality, the Raj-Hamuts [rahj-ha-moots][ believe that this universe is neither the first nor last incarnation. Just as they believe in the reincarnation of individuals, so too do the Raj-Hamutians believe that the universe is destined to end and be reborn.

In the beginning, depicted as a golden dragon or phoenix, there was only Nu the Mother Creator. Ptah-Hamuts believe she consumed the previous incarnation of reality. Then she lay a golden egg.

It is believed that our universe came from that golden egg

This golden egg contained everything. It contained all time and space, energy and matter, material and spiritual-- everything that had been before the universe, everything that was the universe and everything that the universe could and/or would become.

This is called Brahman or the "world soul".

And, when the egg hatched, the universe was born from Brahman.

The Brahman formed a cosmic sea. The cosmic sea churned from the forces of Izft --darkness, chaos and evil-- & Ma'at--light, order and good.

From there, the Raj-Hamuts and Ptah-Hamuts differ on the events between the creation of the cosmic sea and the creation of the world:

In Raj-Hamutian tradition, based on the writings of the previous civilization of Sindahar, the first beings in the universe were Sahasranama the God of a Thousand Names and the thousand-headed serpent Shesha the nagaraja or "king of all snakes" that Sahasranama rested upon as they floated in the cosmic sea.*

*Some lines in the Asuran scrolls claim that Shesha is older than the universe and that he will survive this universe destruction. This leads to some credence among the Snake Cult that Shesha is the true creator of the universe and that their gods are his descendants or incarnations.

As the two floated in the cosmic sea, it is said that Shesha sang praises in Sahasranama's name and that a single lotus flower grew from Sahasranama's navel. From that lotus flower, formed Brahma the Creator. It is then said that Brahma placed a crown upon each of the heads of Shesha and that the gems in the crowns form the stars and planets in the heavens. Upon the end of his tail, rests the world of Narya. In this moment of creation, so too was formed Shiva the Destroyer. Shiva is destined to destroy the universe so it can be reborn. Together Sahasranama, Brahma and Shiva are considered to form a divine trinity that together composes the supreme god Narayana.

From each of the three gods came the feminine aspect of Brahman in the form of their three wives:

To Sahasranama was granted Padma the Lotus-Dweller (owl) who grants fortune and power.
To Brahma was granted Sharada the Divine Teacher (swan) who grants art and knowledge.
To Shiva was granted Shakti the Mother of Many (cow) who grants love and forgiveness.

Shakti is the most powerful of the goddesses, comparable in power to her husband, and has many forms such as Durga the Merciful (tiger) who intervenes to slay evil and Kali the Annhilator (cow-horned dragon) who is the feminine counterpart to Shiva.


In Ptah-Hamutian tradition, Nu lay a smaller egg upon the shores of the cosmic sea and Ptah-Ra hatched from the egg. Ptah-Ra was the first wielder of the sun disc Aten which represents Ma'at and the god-king of the universe. In order to calm the seas and create the world, he first had to defeat Apep the Cosmic Serpent, the champion of Izft. Ultimately, Ptah-Ra was victorious and buried Apep in the underworld. From then on, Ptah-Ra ruled from heaven as the wielder of the sun disc Aten. Ptah-Ra then created the world by forming it from the mud.

This difference in this story is a point of contention among the peoples of Hamuts, with the eastern tradition believing in the supreme trinity and the western tradition consolidating the trinity into Ptah-Ra. Also, it has led to debate about the role of the cosmic serpent as either an entity that serves the supreme deity or as an enemy of the supreme deity or even as a different incarnation of the supreme deity by some cults (such as the Snake Cult that ruled Ptah-Hamut during the second Dark Age).

*An important element of the Hamutian pantheon is that there gods are all associated with and have the head of an animal. For example, Sahasranama is depicted with the head of an eagle, Brahma is depicted with the head of goose, Shiva is depicted with the head of a dragon with the horns of a bull and Ptah-Ra is depicted with the head of a hawk.

GENESIS OF GODS:
SKY DADDY AND DIRT MOM
After creating the world, either Ptah-Ra or Brahma created Dyeus the Sky Father (lion) and Tefnas the Earth Mother (lioness).

*Some scholars believe that these gods are analogues for two similar gods of the Primordial line and that their children of the Hamutian pantheon are a separate interpretation of their downfall. This would mean the Hamutian Pantheon were contemporaries of the Titans. Their stories are similar to that of the Titan Rebellion and the Titanomachy but the less bloody. Instead, the Hamutian pantheon emphasizes transition between generations.

Dyeus and Tefnas had many children. It is said that they were born in the Hamutian Sea and are separated into those facing the rising sun in the east and those facing the setting sun in the west:

To the east, were the brothers, Indra the Storm-King (tiger) and his twin Ka-Ten the Purifying Flame (bull), Surya the Solar Chariot-Driver (horse), Vayu the Breath of Life (stag), Tvastar the Artificer (spider), and Mithras the Ocean-Master (whale).

To the west, Yasar the Elder (ram) and his sister-wife Ankha the Sorceress (kite), Set of the Black Sands (set hound) and his sister-wife Neph the Grieving Heart (vulture), Khepis the Crawling One (scarab), Sati the River-Mother (gazelle), Bastet the Queen of Cats (cat), and Twerti the Mid-Wife (hippopotamus).

The children of Dyeus and Tefnas settled in the primordial Hamutia. Not much is known of this time period in which the material world was formed but eventually peace came to an end. Dyeus and Tefnas argued about everything. Their fighting threatened to destroy the world.

Indra led the other gods in a revolt to overthrow their parents and only Mithras opposed the action. He was cast into the sea by the other gods and remains the lord of the sea, in his kingdom in the deaths of the Hamutian Sea, until this day.

After Dyeus and Tefnas were subdued, there was much debate about who should rule heaven. The western gods believed Yasar, who was born first among them, favorite of their parents and destined to inherit the sun disc Aten from Ptah-Ra. The eastern gods believed Indra deserved to rule as he had led the rebellion and they considered him the mightiest. After all, he had defeated the evil dragon Vritra when it took the world's rivers hostage.

Eventually, it was decided: Indra would rule in the east and Yasar would rule in the west. Over time, the definition of "east" and "west" would change. In ancient times, east and west referred to the different sides of the River Iru.

THE DAWN KINGDOM
(ANCIENT RAJ-HAMUT)

The next generation of the eastern gods included the children of Shiva and Pavarti:
Manasa the Green Physician (python) and her twin brothers Heramba the Gentle Giant (elephant) and Murugan the Divine Spear (peacock).

There is also the son of Vayu, Hanuman the Mighty (monkey) and Tvastar's daughter Saranya the Cloud Maiden (unicorn).

Saranya married Surya and together they are the parents of Yama the Lord of Naraka* (water buffalo) and Yami the River Maiden (tortoise).

*Naraka = Raj-Hamutian underworld where souls must travel before reincarnation

The gods of the Dawn Kingdom, who dwell in Athathvaveda the Unconquerable City, are mostly benevolent. They concern themselves with fighting evil, in the form of devils, demons and other evil outsiders, perpetuating the cycle, guiding and teaching mortals and maintaining the balance of the natural and unnatural worlds.

THE DUSK KINGDOM
(ANCIENT PTAH-HAMUT)

The next generation of western gods came about via dramatic means.

Set, the god of the desert, is a cruel and petty deity. He is envious of the other gods, especially Yasar, because, when Indra called upon the gods to join in overthrowing Dyeus and Tefnas, it was Set who convinced the western gods to act when Yasar resisted the temptation. And after Yasar became the leader of the Dusk Kingdom, a new prophecy foretold that his son would inherit the sun disc Aten as the new incarnation of Ptah-Ra. Upon hearing the prophecy, Set plotted his brother's assasination.

A party was thrown for the gods and at the party Set presented Yasar with the gift of a beautiful sarcophagus. Set convinced Yasar to see if he could fit inside, as a joke, before he and his conspirators locked Yasar in the coffin and threw it into the River Iru. By the time that his wife Ankha could react, Set fled and Yasar had already drowned and the box was carried down river.

While in the underworld, Set's wife Neph wanted to teach her husband a lesson by cheating on him with a worthy soul. When she saw the spirit of handsome Yasar, not recognizing him as she would've never believed Yasar could die, Neph approached the confused spirit and they coupled. From their coupling, came the child Anubis the Guiding Hand (dog). When Neph realized he was the son of Yasar, she abandoned the child to protect him from Set.

Ankha flew over the river for an indeterminable amount of time until she found the box embedded in the roots of a tree on the river's bank. Ankha opened the box but Yasar was already dead. Using her secret magic, Ankha resurrected her husband just long enough to make love with him. It was there that she was discovered by Set who realized she had just conceived Yasar's child. He attacked her and she only just managed to escape with the assistance of the perverted Small Helper Ebu (goat) who had been watching from nearby reeds. Set was so furious he ripped Yasar's body apart and tossed them into the river.

Yasar's blood was so divine and still filled with so much passion from his coupling with Ankha, wound up impregnating Sati when it fell in the river. She gave birth to Sobek the Ravenous One (crocodile), Anaka the Flood Maiden (antelope), Thoth-Khonshu the Moon Counselor (ibis) the and his wife Aubi the Scribe (spotted cat-- cheetah).

It wasn't long before Ankha gave birth to Ptah-Horus the Younger (falcon). Ptah-Horus was born holding the Aten above his head as the inheritor of Ptah-Ra. Anubis the Guiding Hand found Ankha and realizing he was born of Yasar she, in her mercy, took in her nephew as her adopted son. She hid her sons from Set until Ptah-Horus was old enough. Ptah-Horus and Set competed for the throne, battling it out, and the two seemed equals in power. Ptah-Horus was fast, agile and clever but Set was stronger, more experienced and ruthless. Eventually, the two chose a final contest. In the contest, it was to be a boat race but their boats were to be made of stone. Horus won by making a wooden boat but disguising it as stone. Set accepted defeat and gave Horus the throne of the Dusk Kingdom but, in exchange, he was allowed dominion over the desert.

While Ptah-Horus and Set settled their dispute, Anubis had led his step-mother/aunt to gather the pieces of his father. Eventually, they gathered the pieces and gave Yasar a proper burial. As Ankha grieved over her husband, her cries were so terrible that they killed demons and devils who heard the pureness of her love and devotion. The gods were so moved that they used their combined knowledge to help resurrect Yasar as the new lord of the underworld. As long as the sun is risen, Yasar can be with his queen and his son, but at night he must return to the underworld to judge the dead.


The gods of the Dusk Kingdom serve as an example for the god-kings of Ptah-Hamut, teach proper burial rites and procedures, run the after-life and maintain Ma'at and subdue Izft.

THE TEACHINGS OF RAJ:
KARMA, SAMSARA,  CASTES, SUTRAS, & AVATARS

The Raj-Hamut tradition commits wholly to the idea of brahma: that the universe: everything that was, is, or will be came from the world soul and that, ultimately, it must return. They believe that the divine trinity of sahasranama, brahma and shiva are the physical and spiritual incarnation of the world soul's purpose and intent:

They believe that the universe is merely the latest incarnation of the universe and that, eventually, all will return to the world soul and a new egg will be formed. From that new egg, a new universe will be reborn. They believe that the cycle of samsara--birth, life, death, and rebirth--are a means to improvement and that, ultimately, the next universe will be superior to this one from all knowledge gained from the experience of individuals. Ultimately, the purpose and intent of the world soul is to create a better universe for the next cycle.


KARMA & SAMSARA

To this end, as this incarnation of the universe experiencing itself, they believe the Hamutian people are also beholden to the cyclical nature of the universe and serve it by participating in their own cycle of reincarnation. They believe in the concept of karma or "the moral cause and effect". They believe that acting morally, not out of selfishness, will result in a better existence in the next life and that acting immortally, committing crimes and cruel acts, will result in a worse existence in the next life. 

Essentially, the cosmos ultimately rewards good deeds and punished bad deeds, even if that justice may not come until the next life time. Humans can even be reincarnated as animals. This is part of the reason behind an important tenant of many sects of Raj-Hamutian ideology to respect all life because an animal could contain the soul of a person. This acts as an incentive for betterment but also has some criticism as it allows those in higher station to justify the inequality of society. The inequality is acted out in the culture's caste system.

CASTE SYSTEM

The caste system separates Hamutian people into categories with special privileges and rights (or lack thereof):

At the top are priests, scholars and teachers who are believed to be the closest to enlightenment. Every other caste is inherited except for the top caste called the Brahmin or "spiritual class". Brahmin is a title rewarded to holy men by other brahmin and/or by the Grand Rajah. Brahmins are expected to live a life of aestheticism, studying and meditating, and to push for peace. Ultimately, there are many different types of Brahmin and the ultimate goal of a Brahmin is to achieve enlightenment and to return to the world soul.

Beneath Brahmin, but above all others, are the warrior and noble class called the Kshatriyas. They are ruling and military elite, the wealthiest and most powerful people ion Raj-Hamut, and are the only caste allowed to openly carry weapons in public. This caste is expected to rule, guide and protect Raj-Hamut. The elite of this class are warrior princes called Rajahs. Rajahs are bitter rivals with their neighboring princes but ultimately are expected to serve and obey the Grand Rajah. The Grand Rajah is the supreme ruler, descended from the gods, who leads the country against foreign enemies and especially against Shah Hamut. The Grand Rajah is considered part of this caste but is often considered equal or higher than the Brahmin caste as well.

The Vaishya or merchant class are made up of land owners, money lenders, and investors. They are expected to expand the wealth and influence of Raj-Hamut through their investments. They are taxed by the warrior noble class. A good merchant is expected to find a balance between acquiring wealth and spreading poverty.

Beneath the merchants are the laborers and service providers, the Shudras. Laborers are the largest and lowest class. They are considered unworthy of education, most being illiterate, and instead are expected to keep their heads down, obey the law, and work hard. Obedience and hard work are expected to be rewarded in the next life. There are lower people.

The casteless. There are three types of casteless: slaves, criminals and foreigners.

Beneath the laborers are slaves, usually foreigners and debtors, who have no rights. They are property, with debtors being forgiven their debt in exchange for servitude, and can not be freed unless they either pay their masters for their market value or are awarded freedom. Those that achieve freedom either return to their born caste or become laborers. But there are those lower than slaves.

Criminals and children of criminals are considered the lowliest creatures in Raj Hamut. They are expected to take up the worst jobs that not even the laborers will do. They are often thieves, beggars, murderers, rapists, and madmen. Many innocent children are born into this caste and there have been attempts to change the system on their behalf.

Foreigners, particularly free foreigners, are considered below laborers in terms of rights or spiritual value but are treated with some respect if they earn passage into Raj-Hamut.

THE AVATARS OF SAHASRANAMA

Sahasranama is considered chief among the gods by Rah-Hamuts because he is ultimately the great educator. He is called the "god of a thousand names" because he interacts with the world directly by taking physical incarnations called avatars. Sahasranama's avatars take innumerable forms that serve many purposes but there are nine famous incarnations and one still prophesied:

1. Mastya the Great Fish saved the progenitor of mankind from the great flood.

2. Kurma the World Turtle carries the world of Narya upon his back through the cosmos.

3. Varaha the Wild Boar protects nature from demonic destruction and slayed the demon king Yaksha.

4. Narasimha the Lion Protector came to the aid of the demon prince Prahada the Kind in defeating his father demon king Hiran.

5. Trivikrama the Mouse Monk challenged the demon king Bali and tricked him into surrendering the universe back into Sahasranama's command.

6. Parashurama the Weapon Master (bear) wielded legendary cosmic weapons and overthrew cruel kings.

7. Rama the Warrior King (wolf) defeated the demon king Ravana and rescued his wife Sita the Devout Queen (dove) who was an avatar of Sahasranama's wife Padma.

8. Krishna the Beautiful (calf) was a sagely warrior prince who defeated the cruel king Kansa and counsels other princes such as Arjuna.

9. Prince Siddhartha The Awakened Soul (tree) was a prince raised in ignorance who, after seeing the cruelty of the world, sought and achieved enlightenment under a fig tree.

10. It is prophesied that a tenth avatar will bring about the end of this cycle. He will be known by his white horse with wings and he will bring about the end of this cycle. Many have claimed to be the world-ender but all chalatans have been revealed and punished.

Regardless of their form, the avatars of Sahasranama have taught many lessons to the mortals to help them reach enlightenment such as the four sutras.

THE FOUR SUTRAS

Among the teachings of the various avatars of Sahasranama, are the four sutras or aim. By mastering these sutras, a person can lead a better life and, if theu can surpass these sutras, they can achieve enlightenment and reach a state of nirvana or "oneness with the world soul":

1. Dharma or "accordance": The adherence to one's place within the cosmic order. Virtuous action, obedience to the law, and taking care of one's responsibilities are all parts of accordance.

2. Artha or "pursuance": The conquest of one's desired state of being and material wealth. It is important to find a stable source of income.

3. Kama or "love": The passionate embrace of attachments: from friendship to family and from erotic entanglements to true love.

4. Moksha or "liberation": The awakening of one's self to liberate one's self from ignorance and then, in finding truth, to find freedom. Self-realization is the first step to true enlightenment and true enlightenment opens the path to break the cycle of reincarnation and to return to the world soul.

The avatars have also taught the values of the arts, sciences, and meditation. The latter is the primary means of achieving liberation but is universally viewed as beneficial to even those not seeking enlightenment. Teachings on meditation consists of yoga--primarily "practices", such as forms and positions, to better align one's chakras or "life energy" and mantras or "sacred utterances" that are verbal spells that, when mastered, grant special powers to an individual.

Raj-Hamuts may view Ptah-Hamuts, foreigners, animals as casteless but do believe that they have souls equivalent to their own even if non-adherents to their beliefs fall out of the cycle of reincarnation. Raj-Hamuts ultimately do not seek to conquer Ptah-Hamut but desire freedom from Ptah-Hamut. They would prefer to enlighten them on the the falseness of Ptah-Ra and the true ultimate divinity of Sahasranama, Brahma and Shiva.

THE LOWLY & THE DIVINE OF PTAH:
MA'AT, PTAH, SIX-PARTS & THE AFTERLIFE

While religion is a subject that directly effects all individuals in the eastern tradition, the religious beliefs of Ptah-Hamut mostly revolve around the appropriate order of the universe and divinity of their kings rather than being a subject that should concern "lesser" individuals.


MA'AT & P'TAH

Ptah-Hamuts believe in order, ma'at, and that everything has a proper function from top to bottom and this is reflected in their view of time and space. Unlike their eastern counterparts, they believe that this universe is the first and only universe. So, unlike the Raj-Hamuts, they do not focus as much on the concept of birth, life, death, and rebirth so much as the cyclical passage of time: sunrise, day, sundown and night.

They believe time is constantly marching for generation after generation. Everything has a purpose and every purpose has its time and place. This is ma'at and it dictates a proper order to everything. It is reflected in the three seasons of Ptah-Hamut: akhet or "The Inundation", peret or "The Emergence", and shemu or "The Harvest". In the first season of the year, akhet, the river floods from monsoons from the sea. Then, during peret, the river recedes and leaves fertile land for the people to plant their crops. Lastly, during shemu, they collect the crops before the heat of the season destroys the crops. This is the proper order of nature. Droughts are considered extremely ill-omens that the gods are displeased with the pharaoh or god-king.

Besides worshiping the gods who art in aaru, the heavens, and duat, the underworld, by building large temples, monuments and statues in their name and performing sacrifices--from the burning of grain to animals and from prayer to blood-letting-- in the temples, the people are expected to obey and worship the god-king and the god-king is expected to lead the people. This is the foundation of ma'at for living people, although ma'at also covers all appropriate behavior and laws of the land. This is because the pharoah have ptah.

The pharaoh is considered to by the direct descendant of Ptah-Ra and the first king of Ptah-Hamut after the civil war that split Hamutia, Ihmotep the First (crane). The pharaoh is mortal but is also the embodiment of divinity within the material plane and, therefore, is divine and material. Ptah itself is a term that means "divinity" and means that Ptah-Hamut is the "kingdom of the divine". The divinity of the royal line is considered so sacred that most pharaohs marry into their own families, including their siblings and parents. The pharaoh can be male or female but the latter are expected to take on a male persona. The pharaoh wears costumes, make-up and relics to strengthen their public persona for the people and impart upon them their divinity. While and after a pharaoh, as well as other important members of the royal family, are alive, the people use the time between flood cycles to build monuments and tombs for the royal family. This is because after their death, pharaohs have a journey unique to their divinity.


SIX-PARTS & THE AFTERLIFE

The Ptah-Hamuts believe a person is composed of six elements:

The Physical

Ha- the body. This is literally the physical parts of the body on the material plane.

The Metaphysical

Ka- the spirit. This is the soul and is the difference between the living and the dead. Death occurs when the ka leaves behind the ha.

Ba- the persona. This is the person's self--their unique personality and reputation.

Ib- the heart. This is the person's deeds. The heart is either filled with ma'at-- light, order, truth-- or iz'ft--darkness, chaos, lies. This determines the fate of a person's afterlife.

Sheut- the shadow. This reflects a person's memories and the memories of other people of a person. It is believe to always be present in depictions of a person. Statues of people are often called "sheuts" or shadows.

Ren- the name. This is given to a person at birth and it is believed that a person's ka can still effect the living as long as their name is spoken. For this reason, names are often recorded by families and spoken aloud during certain festivals and deceased enemies of Ptah-Hamut have their names stricken from the record.

The Ptah-Hamuts believe that when people die that their ka leaves the body and travels to the underworld. To guide them, devout souls are greeted at the gates of the underworld by Anubis. The white dog guides devout spirits through the underworld safely by the hand. Those who are not devout and committed iz'ft, egregious sins, are left to their own devices when traveling through duat. The ka's journey through the underworld is dangerous because there are demons who would lead them astray to corrupt and/or devour their souls. If the ka can finish the journey they enter the court of Yasar. There their ib or "heart" is weighed against a feather. This feather is the embodiment of ma'at, truth, and if the heart is deemed to be filled with iz'ft it is cast aside and devoured by Ammit the Soul-Eater (lion, crocodile, hippo). Those spirits whose hearts are devoured by Ammit are said to wander the planes, aimlessly suffering, forever more. Those that are deemed worthy are sent back into the world to guide their descendants and those beyond worthy may even go to auru to serve the gods. The latter result is considered controversial blasphemy by some sects since only the divine can go to heaven.

The burial practices for the nobility and other powerful people are intended to cheat this process to help an individual ascend to proper godhood. Neph instructs in these proper procedures from appropriate means of morning, rituals, spells, treatment of the body, mummification and burial in an appropriately auspicious tomb. If performed corrected, the body is preserved and the spirit remains whole. Such beings are believed to be akh or "whole". Ideally, they achieve proper godhood and ascend to aaru but, more often than not, these attempts fail or they achieve an undead status with their soul intact similar to other intelligent undead but not necessarily malicious. This complicates history as, when achieved, dead kings and queen have asserted their authority, using special powers granted by this ascension, to affect the living. Some use this power by leaving their tomb in incorporeal form to help or harm others as a bridge between the living and the dead. Some go so far as to reward and punish as they see fit and the living are told to appease the akh.

But sometimes the akh take their new state to far and try to reinstate their authority. This is curtailed by the weaknesses of their physical state but these mummies have powerful spells and are often accompanied by undead servants. There have been many accounts of undead pharaohs attempting to seize power from their descendants and, at least once, achieving their rule. This is ultimately considered against the natural order of ma'at and evil mummies are to be subdued and, if necessary, destroyed.

Akh that die a second time are forced to go through the same afterlife process as everyone else.

Ptah-Hamutians consider Raj-Hamutians to be their enemies and that ultimately they seek to destroy Raj-Hamut and subjugate their citizens back under ma'at to restore order. They see foreigners as heathens and enemies of ma'at to not be trusted and that they do not contain "real souls".

THE RELATIVITY OF TRUTH IN FANTASY RELIGIONS

In a fantasy setting, it can be difficult to rectify the existence of multiple pantheons and religions that contradict each other. There are three means to explaining how different religions in a fantasy setting interact and, this is ultimately unique to fantasy settings, since gods and magic are tangible.

The first means is that there is only one true religion. This doesn't work in the context of Sublanarya, or greater Narya for that matter, because the gods, planes, magic, etc. are all veritably real. There are no serious atheists in a setting like Narya.

To quote Terry Pratchett's Small Gods on the ridiculous of someone who doesn't believe in gods in this sort of setting, "gods like to see atheists around. Gives them something to aim at". That doesn't mean antitheists don't exist and we'll discuss them at the end.

The point is there is no one true religion in Narya. Each religion is different perspective or interpretation of reality. These religions are somewhat verifiable as prayer has a tangible and observable effects in the world-- see clerics and paladins.

The second means is that all religions are the same religion. This is certainly more palatable due to the similarities between religions. In this interpretation, it means that you can have multiple pantheons but the gods of each pantheon are just different versions of each other. Surya, Ptah-Ra, and Aurelion would all be the same character in this sort of interpretation. This is somewhat suitable and maybe even applicable but, ultimately, my prefer the third means.

All religions are true. In this interpretation, all religions are valid, inter-lapping but separate. Rather than Surya, Ptah-Ra and Aurelion all being the same solar deity, they are instead different aspects or gods tapping into/representing the sun on Narya. In this interpretation, the gods are mostly concerned with their worshipers and all share dominions over their domains. This is more interesting because it implies something about what gods are and aren't.

This theory implies that, ultimately in Narya, that the gods are not supreme.

After all, if there are a half-dozen gods of the sun, how do you determine the supreme god?

Furthermore, in a world where magic allows mortals to cast spells and achieve power comparable to the gods and mortals can even ascend to godhood, mantling the aspect of some powerful force in the universe, then aren't gods just the most powerful spell-casters?

This is the basis of anti-theism. This is a highly controversial and dangerous worldview, but practical and practiced by the cynical, worldly, and powerful. In this view, the gods are not divine. There is no such thing as divinity. In this view, gods are no better than sorcerors, warlocks or wizards, either achieving their status by blood, pacts, unions, or knowledge. They have just achieved a state not easily achieved by mortals.

There is just power and those that use it. Food for thought.

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