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 Post subject: Re: Dieties in TROS
PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 5:03 am 
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Interesting Estonian concept of luck -- thanks for sharing that!

higgins wrote:
Grettir wrote:
Pantheism is closely related. It holds that there is one god and that everything is part of this one god.
I've always wondered how animists could kill gad-flies and mosquitos, as those parasites have souls, but this concept makes it even more difficult to understand.

For once, full-fledged pantheism is mostly a theoretical concept, historical pantheisms did usually lean heavily towards the animistic interpretation, in the way I've described. Anyway, it's indeed hard to understand even then, but I think that pragmatism is behind it -- it's just not practical to avoid any killing at all, especially when plants and even minerals are also thought to be alive as well. You just can't get around it. The only thing one can do is to be respectful about it, at least with more significant kills -- asking the tree you're going to cut or the deer you're hunting for forgiveness and giving your thanks to it once they're dead.

This can even extend to cutting your harvest -- if I remember correctly, pre-Christian Russian folklore, which is heavily influenced by animism, thought of harvest as murder on a large scale and as an incredibly terrible and bloody affair. There were purification rites for those killing all those plants, and the spirit-soul of the concept of "harvest" (don't remember its name) was one of the most feared and murderous in existence.

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 Post subject: Re: Dieties in TROS
PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 6:33 am 
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Grettir

You said that there was no hierarchy in the polytheistic religions, what was the pontifex maximus then? I know that it became a political appointment in the empire, but it also after constantine morphed into the pope.

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 Post subject: Re: Dieties in TROS
PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 7:59 am 
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Valthalion wrote:
You said that there was no hierarchy in the polytheistic religions, what was the pontifex maximus then?

It’s not important to your question, but it is so common a misconception that I just want to clarify it: The pontifex maximus was not the head priest of Rome. Rome’s highest ranking-priest was the flamen dialis, but the flamen dialis had so many debiliating cultic taboos affixed to his person that nobody wanted the job. When Augustus started to subsume many authorities of various government offices, he skipped on the flamen dialis, as he didn’t want his cultic restrictions (not allowed to touch iron, not allowed to see a corpse, not allowed to ride a horse, etc.); instead he chose the more practical and almost as lofty pontifex maximus. Over centuries of empire the post of pontifex maximus became synonymous with supreme power, and so was later also taken by the popes.

But on to the pontifex maximus.

All ancient societies had a state cult. The difference to modern state cults was that it was not exclusive, but inclusive. The gods of the state cult where assumed to take a special interest in “their” country, and thus it was only fitting and indeed required that all citizens offered them worship – failing to do so invited the gods’ anger, and angering the gods who were usually protecting a country was of course regarded as detrimental to the country at large. This was the reason why everybody was required to fulfill his ritual duties towards his state gods and why failing to do so was a crime – it was in fact the crime for which the philosopher Socrates was tried and put to death.

It is mportant to realize that citizens are not forbidden to venerate other gods than the state gods in addition to the latter; that’s why I said ancient state religions were inclusive not exclusive.

Rome, like any other ancient state, had a state religion, and like any religions, this state religion had official rituals*. Official prayers and benedictions had to be aid and sacrifices had to be offered up whenever a people’s assembly was opened, or war declared, or a treaty signed, or an army seen off, etc. – you get the picture. These honourable, official religion duties were not performed by some kind of neighbourhood priest, but by the priests of the college of pontifices. These fifteen pontiffs, one for every official god, co-opted new members to their number whenever one of them died. They were all senators serving as part-time official priests for the Roman republic. The highest-ranking among them was the afore-mentioned flamen dialis, the priest of Jupiter, lord of gods.

The supernumerary “chairman” of this college was the pontifex maximus.

So it is right when one calls the pontifex maximus the “head-priest” of Rome, but only in the sense that he is the one who conducts or plans or heads all official, public religious ceremonies, not in the sense that he is somehow the organisational head of any kind of hierarchic priesthood. He was a senator and part-time lay-priest whose responsibilities were overseeing the senate’s and magistrates’ public religious rituals, not concerting the cult of the gods in any way. I don’t know what would have happened if the pontifex maximus tried to give a direct order to any priest – there is no instance of this ever happeneing in the surviving historical records; I the priest in question would have shrugged and ignored the order.

*Interestingly, one of these rituals, in very early Rome, when it still fought the Etruscans, was to officially, ritually ask another city-state’s state gods to abandon the city-state in the upcoming war and not to oppose Rome; in turn, they were promised to be given a new home in Rome, to be included in the Roman state cult.

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 Post subject: Re: Dieties in TROS
PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 8:55 am 
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As the matter of ancient state religions has come up I might as well take the opportunity to point out tha this was the main problem, practically the only problem, that led to the persecution of early Christians by the Roman Empire. For a polytheist or henotheist and even for a monolatrist who isn’t forbidden by his central god to worship other gods, offereing some ritual veneration to the Roman state gods isn’t a problem – a monotheist or a monolatrist whose god explicitly forbids worship of other gods is in trouble. A Roman Christian couldn’t worship the Roman gods, but in refusing to do, he was in the opinion of the Roman polytheists giving great offence to the Roman gods, who were likely to vent their anger at not receiving fitting worship from the citizens of Rome, whom they were after all protecting, at the Roman state. In refusing to give zthe worship due to the Roman gods, the Roman Christians were hurting Rome.

Some of you might argue that Roman Jews faced the same situation, and indeed that would be true. Still, Jews were a different story. For once, they were a closed ethnic group who did not or almost not (this is a bone of contention among historians) proselytize and did thus not spread like a cancer, as did the Christians. And then they were not something new like the Christians, but something old the other peoples of the ancient world were well acquainted with. They knew that the Jews could get very violent if their religion was threatened, and that they just were not prepared to compromise on it, no matter how much force one would exert on them. As the Jews were a closed group of what was perceived at quite deranged (“Only one god? Clearly, these people must be mad!”) religious fanatics, they were left well alone; meddling with their faith was just not worth the trouble.

In role-playing terms, this should serve to illustrate how even a polytheistic society can be religiously intolerant. Historically, any such society has always had a state religion, with state gods thought to protect the state; citizens (but not people living in the state but not being citizens of it) were required to venerate these gods. What or whom else they did worshop in addition was completely their own private business, but the state’s patron gods had to be worshipped. As this did not involve following any kind of commandments, but merely burning incense or making a sacrifice every once in a while, that was no problem for most people – the trouble starts only once somebody is somehow forbidden by the tenets of his own faith to venerate any other gods. This scenario can lead to religious persecution conducted by a – basically tolerant – polytheistic society.

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 Post subject: Re: Dieties in TROS
PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:44 pm 
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This is a really interesting thread.

A couple of observations that sprang to mind as I was reading were these:

1) If Polytheism favours a 'push button' approach to religion, would that not be more effective, and arguably the religious position stronger if there was in fact manifestations of the favour of the gods. As such, wouldn't it support the concept of 'divine' magic better. As in, it makes sense that you keep going to a god for their favour if when you do that, you do receive some form of tangible benefit.

2) Following on from above, does the following religious premise seem plausible: There is a pantheon of gods; these gods are respected and worshipped largely because doing so nets tangible rewards.

However, simply individual prayers do not achieve these rewards. In order to obtain these rewards, it is necessary to seek out a priest of the god, who serve as gatekeeper's to the god's divine power. The priests achieve this by devoting their time/life to their god's specific commandments and lifestyle requirements. By doing this they gain favour from their god, and can dispense their god's benefits. Thus, there exists a priest caste. Further, this priest caste exists significantly because the commandments and lifestyle requirements of each god are largely incompatible with the other gods. I would imagine that the majority of gaining a god's blessing would be convincing his/her priests to submit the prayers, which would be through offering suitable and/or significant appropriate sacrifices, which on a meta-level could be seen as feeding the god's power.

However, since each and every god is seen as powerful and situationally important, none individually gains hegemony, instead each worshipped as needed by the lay-individuals and all mutually respected for what they bring to the overall society. While there are disputes between religious sects and the priests of each god, there is a mutual respect between the clergies, as they see each other as equals, if serving a different cause; thus meaning that these disputes are largely more along the lines of theological debates rather than outright conflict (eg: the value of fertility versus warfare or similar or perhaps more pertinently, the need for which specific deity(s) to resolve a specific problem).

As an aside, the above or similar to the above is largely the system used by Raymond E. Feist in his novels, which I think seems to capture the essence of an empowered and working polytheistic religion, whilst still encompassing many fantasy tropes.


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 Post subject: Re: Dieties in TROS
PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 4:06 pm 
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James wrote:
1) If Polytheism favours a 'push button' approach to religion, would that not be more effective, and arguably the religious position stronger if there was in fact manifestations of the favour of the gods.

Very good observation. Befor dwelling further upon it I would like to remark about the general “effectiveness” of manifst polytheistic systems.

Polytheism, usually of the animistic kind, is the “natural” state of human religion, the earliest one. The problem with polytheism and its “push button” approach in the real world is that it does not answer pressing spiritual concerns – that’s the realm of monotheistic or maybe monolatristic religions. These religions, which demand real devotion and have moral codes, offer real answers to spiritual questions. Thing is that a certain degree of basic material security is necessary that these questions become pressing at all. If the struggle for subsistence takes up your entire time, spiritual questions take a backseat; but once you’ve got spare time to muse and think on your hands … oh boy; just think of he rise of the frequency of depression in the modern age as a parallel.

It seems to be a historical mechanism that once a culture achieves a certain level of physical prosperity, it becomes dissatisfied with its old polytheistic system and a shift towards monotheism occurs. But if your polytheistic system is actually working, if the gods are mainifest, no degree of spiritual dissatisfaction will lead you to qustion them; they are real, out there, plain for everybody to see.

What I want to say is that monotheism seems very unlikely to crop up at all under a working polytheistic system.

James wrote:
As such, wouldn't it support the concept of 'divine' magic better. As in, it makes sense that you keep going to a god for their favour if when you do that, you do receive some form of tangible benefit.

Absolutely. The distinction between magical practices and religious practices does only appear in the middle ages, when a monotheistic clergy “monopolizes” supernatural acts. Throughout antiquity, every magical act is invariably and necessarily a religious act. Magic is only ever worked through the agency of supernatural beings, be they gods or demi-gods or spirits.

James wrote:
2) Following on from above, does the following religious premise seem plausible: There is a pantheon of gods; these gods are respected and worshipped largely because doing so nets tangible rewards. (…)Thus, there exists a priest caste. Further, this priest caste exists significantly because the commandments and lifestyle requirements of each god are largely incompatible with the other gods.

I know many examples even of polytheistic pantheons were there is a proper priestly class with actual lifesyle requirements (e.g. Egypt and Mesopotamia), but in all cases known to me, the requirements are identical for all priests of a pantheon, regardless of the god they serve. This does most likely come from the lack of moral commandments – lifestyle requirements ar emerely a matter of spiritual purity, to be spiritually able to perform certain ceremonies. But if one can come up with a plausible reason why the different “priesthoods” have different lifestyle requirements, this might probably indeed serve to serve as a catalyst for the development of different “clergies”. As you have come up with such a reason, I’d judge your setup entirely plausible.

By the way, are you the same “James” with whom I talked years ago on the old forum about prepping his campaign meant to be set in some kind of military academy?

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 Post subject: Re: Dieties in TROS
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 8:15 am 
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Grettir wrote:
By the way, are you the same “James” with whom I talked years ago on the old forum about prepping his campaign meant to be set in some kind of military academy?


Yep, that'd be me. I have been on somewhat of a hiatus from roleplaying in general, but I have popped in here a few times to check on how the TROS community is going.

The above was more of a intellectual exercise that sprang to mind when I was reading through the details of the thread thus far, more just some ideas about how the classic fantasy tropes could be implemented. I think the key element is the basic general acceptance and respect for each of the gods as arbiters of their specific sphere and that they are complimentary rather than competitive.


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 Post subject: Re: Dieties in TROS
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:27 am 
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James wrote:
I think the key element is the basic general acceptance and respect for each of the gods as arbiters of their specific sphere and that they are complimentary rather than competitive.

That’s definitely the core concept. Role-players wishing to model a plausible polytheism really need to forget about “conversion” and any notions about people worshipping one god exclusively while holding the others and their followers in low regard; not even priests would do that. The deities are, as you say, complimentary, and worshippers turn to the one best equipped to aid them in whatever situation they happen to currently be in. It’s like going to a plumber when your piping leaking and going to a garage when you need your car fixed.

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 Post subject: Re: Dieties in TROS
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:05 am 
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I read/heard/dreamed something about how polytheism was the result of pluralistic and urbanized society. The idea ran, I think, that each city-state/tribe had their "one god". As they banded together politically and culturally, they had to give up their monotheistic tendencies, which is apparently what got the ancient Hebrews into so much trouble wherever they went.

You might say the same happens even today. Here in the US we of course have many different religions and cultures and since people don't like the idea of being told they're going to hell, we've had to become more and more relativistic - at least in the public arena.

In replicating a realistic culture for a game-story, you could have a progressive cosmopolitan polytheistic culture (I've been to Pompeii - there were shrines and temples everywhere!) but you're still going to have a portion of the population who, like Conan, insist that, "Crom laughs at your Four Winds!"

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 Post subject: Re: Dieties in TROS
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:41 am 
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Seanachai wrote:
I read/heard/dreamed something about how polytheism was the result of pluralistic and urbanized society. The idea ran, I think, that each city-state/tribe had their "one god". As they banded together politically and culturally, they had to give up their monotheistic tendencies, which is apparently what got the ancient Hebrews into so much trouble wherever they went.

Not quite. By the discoveries made by the comparative study of historical religions it seems that the primeval religious tenets of tribal societies can either be classified as animistic or pantheistic. The more powerful of these supernatural spirit entities (e.g. the spirit of the sky as opposed to the spirit of a small brook) do then evolve into fully-fledged deities and something like a polytheistic pantheon is formed. Individual groups do thus develop not one god, but a set of gods. Within the same culture, evolved from the same animistic/pantheistic system, the pantheons of individual groups (tribes or city states) are then closely related and do do even share members. Tribe X might venerate the gods A, B, C, and D and tribe Y might venerate C, D, E, and F, with tribe X regarding Y’s gods E and F as merely minor godlings of little importance, the same opinion tribe Y has of X’s gods A and B.

One can study this with primitive societies documented in the 19th and 20th centuries or still extant today and parallel it with what is known from excavating Çatalhöyük , humanity’s oldest known city state, where is ample archeological evidence of various iconographically very different deities being veneratd alongside each other.

So monotheism is really a last step. That becomes quite clear when you look at how it is impossible for a monotheist to acknowledge the validity of other monotheistic deities. It’s an “either – or”, with no “well, maybe Allah and Jahwe and God Father do all exist alongside each other, with each of their tenets being totally true” possible.

Seanachai wrote:
You might say the same happens even today.

What the modern age experiences seems rather an age of relativism, where educated people striving for tolerance begin to interpret religious teachings not verbally, but allegorically. It is indeed not the first time in history this is happening. Antiquity has seen this very development, with philosophical and theosophical musing and abstract concepts of unpersonal divinity taking the place of deities and religion in the heads of the educated. In the end, this “everything goes” approach left many dissatisfied spiritually and paved the way for new religions to arise.

Seanachai wrote:
In replicating a realistic culture for a game-story, you could have a progressive cosmopolitan polytheistic culture (...) but you're still going to have a portion of the population who, like Conan, insist that, "Crom laughs at your Four Winds!"

Your example would be more a case of somebody holding one polytheistic religion (invariably his own) superior to somebody else’s polytheistic religion, but not of holding one deity within a polytheistic pantheon superior to other deities of the same polytheistic pantheon. What Conan does in the quoted eample from the movie is not denying that the Four Winds exist -- as a monotheist would invariably do -- but saying that Crom is more powerful than it.

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 Post subject: Re: Dieties in TROS
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:06 pm 
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Grettir wrote:
Your example would be more a case of somebody holding one polytheistic religion (invariably his own) superior to somebody else’s polytheistic religion, but not of holding one deity within a polytheistic pantheon superior to other deities of the same polytheistic pantheon. What Conan does in the quoted example from the movie is not denying that the Four Winds exist -- as a monotheist would invariably do -- but saying that Crom is more powerful than it.


Really? I'm not sure if this will all line up with historical examples, but I think there is another type of model that might have a place in a FRPG world. There's a quote in a TV show called Carnivale where the narrator talks about how in modern day mankind has "forever traded away Wonder for Reason". (You can watch it here) In today's monotheism it seems perfectly logical that if Religion A says theirs is the only god and Religion B says theirs is the only god, then either A is wrong, B is wrong, or they are both wrong.

But what about an age of wonder where man had less theology and more pragmatic faith. "I'm not sure if there are other powers in the cosmos, but my god has told me he is the strongest and that I should be faithful to him alone." The theme of the Covenant in near eastern culture is fascinating to me. George Mendenhall (et al.)'s study of Hittite suzerainty treaties was a *big* influence on the cosmology of Erd.

Take a look at the first commandment of the Decalogue. "I am the Lord thy God; Thou shalt have no other gods before me." For the ancient Hebrews I would imagine that faith had less to do with the intellectual assent of the exclusive existence of Jaweh but more to do with an exclusive covenant relationship with that god based on some sort of unchanging divine promise. In the cosmology of Erd such entities have the communicable essence of chariŝa or eŝchia - they are pleased to take favor on lesser entities or to commune with them.

Meanwhile in the polytheistic cultures, there is no strict covenant between man and the gods. The gods will do as they will, and you can only hope to keep them happy.

Going back to our friend Conan. I'm not sure how we would describe the Cimmerians in RE Howard's world, but I remember in the movie Conan was told by his father, "But your god is Crom." I guess that's how I interpret monotheism in a historical (fantasy) world. It is not up to man to guess the population of the higher echelons of the Great Chain of Being, but it is up to him to live within his covenant community and follow the statues of that covenant. For the Cimmerians it was to learn the Riddle of Steel or else be cast from the halls of their fathers.

This topic of polytheism and monotheism is very interesting to me since Erd (my custom world) will really be an experiment in morality and worldview (i.e. a TROS game?).

Thanks for adding a solid historical perspective on this, Michael.

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 Post subject: Re: Dieties in TROS
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:28 pm 
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Quick comment on Crom, as he was described in the books:

"He dwells on a great mountain. What use to call on him? Little he cares if men live or die. Better to be silent than to call his attention to you; he will send you dooms, not fortune! He is grim and loveless, but at birth he breathes power to strive and slay into a man's soul. What else shall men ask of the gods?"

The existence of other gods was acknowledged by the inhabitants of Hyboria, but they tended to believe in one god over all others. The "civilized" people - Aquilonians, Bossonians, etc. - favored Mitra, and were quite frightened of other gods. The followers of Set desired dark and dangerous powers, and had no sympathy whatsoever for followers of other gods.

Mitra himself helped Conan on occasion, despite the fact that Conan mainly followed the way of Crom.

Back to TROS - the Faith SA does what it does, and works as described in the book, what else do you really need?


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 Post subject: Re: Dieties in TROS
PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 5:42 am 
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Seanachai wrote:
But what about an age of wonder where man had less theology and more pragmatic faith. "I'm not sure if there are other powers in the cosmos, but my god has told me he is the strongest and that I should be faithful to him alone."

Have you read the entire thread? Because your scenario – one god conceding that there are others beside him but demanding that only he be venerated – is not poly- or monotheism, but monolatrism, as outlined on the previous pages.

Seanachai wrote:
Take a look at the first commandment of the Decalogue. "I am the Lord thy God; Thou shalt have no other gods before me."

We have already talked about this part of the Decalogue and how it does not say “There are no other gods but me” but only “Thou shalt nor worship other gods before me” – big difference, especially when you add in some other parts of the Old Testament where there are hints that the early Hebrews did not deny the existence of other gods besides Jahwe. Or take Exodus 34:14: “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” No word in the reason for the prescription about there being no other gods.

The very definition of monotheism is not worshipping only one god, but denying the very existence of any other god but the one. What you are talking about is monolatrism, not monotheism, and that’s why there’s some confusion in the conversation.

Seanachai wrote:
Thanks for adding a solid historical perspective on this, Michael.

You’re welcome. Adding this perspective – right to the point of getting on everybody’s nerves – is what I am known for round here. :P

ssfsx17 wrote:
Back to TROS - the Faith SA does what it does, and works as described in the book, what else do you really need?

:lol: Very true, I guess we have digressed quite a bit from the original intent of the thread – even though with its originator’s express permission, I’d like to add.

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 Post subject: Re: Dieties in TROS
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 3:17 am 
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I'm familiar with monolatrism, but I guess I'm still not on board with that. Have you guys talked about deism as opposed to theism? I know the distinction isn't that grand to most people, nor have the terms been used distinctively for that long. Real world etymology and background sort of pollute the distinction I'm trying to make here. Using Erd cosmology, I mean the difference between a powerful eighth-essence entity which is known by experience and an eight-essence which is knowable by revelation and who is intimate with lesser beings.

I guess we have to ask: in a fantasy world with supernatural all around what constitutes a "god"? What does godhood mean to a denizen of a fantasy world? Is it possible for someone to worship a "power or principality" (to use the Biblical term), call to it for aid, and call it "god" - and yet at the same time its godhood isn't recognized by another culture? Let me give you an example of what I'm working with.

Several tribes of the na Barim Lo-rummuà, "Children of the Most High", leave their kindred to live in the central plains, breaking a covenant stipulation made in ancient times. Over time they abandon the worship of their god Lo-Rum to follow new gods: Orea, a goddess of nature, and her ilk. These wayward tribes come to be called by other mannish nations the Perdfolk, barbarians of the central plains, and they develop shamanistic traditions while believing that Orea is their goddess. Orea herself never revealed herself to them through prophets and miracles, but her influence has been divined by shamans and wisemen. The Barim call them na cailtim - the Lost.

The Perdfolk do not hold a strong opinion on the existence of Lo-Rum, but they left because they did not see the value of being in his exclusive religious community. Since they pay chimmage to Orea and other spirits - perhaps lesser gods of fertility, hunt, the moons, etc - we might call them polytheistic or shamanistic.

Now, the remaining tribes known as na Barim believe that Lo-Ruma is the only true god (Lo). But they have no doubt that other powerful entities (perhaps such as Orea, though they would not claim to know their names). They don't believe that they worship one of many gods, but that these other powers and entities, while powerful and revered as gods by others, are not god.

Now, how would you call na Barim (apart from an obvious hybrid of Celtic and Hebrew traditions)? Monotheistic because they deny the absolute godhead of other gods, or monolatrisic because they accept the existence of other gods while choosing to worship one?

In the end, of course, it wouldn't matter an Anderan kopper piece to them. You are either part of na Barim or you are macim romekà, sons of the idolatrous traitor Romek, worshiping diabghal, powerful evil spirits.

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 Post subject: Re: Dieties in TROS
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 6:38 am 
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Seanachai wrote:
Now, how would you call na Barim (apart from an obvious hybrid of Celtic and Hebrew traditions)? Monotheistic because they deny the absolute godhead of other gods, or monolatrisic because they accept the existence of other gods while choosing to worship one?

At a first glance, definitely not monotheistic. It is the defining characteristic of monotheism that it totally denies the very existence of all supernatural beings unattached to their one god. Supernatural beings other than the deity can either be weaker than and subservient to the deity (e.g. angels), or inimical (e.g. demons). They can not be unattached – monotheism denies the existence of all supernatural beings unattached to its god, or else it’s not monotheism. However, when you say
Seanachai wrote:
You are either part of na Barim or you are macim romekà, sons of the idolatrous traitor Romek, worshiping diabghal, powerful evil spirits.

it sounds as if it was monotheism. Other entities exist and are worshipped by other people, but they are evil spirits and not true gods, like Lo-Ruma is. A monotheistic system, with its invariable need to place its deity right in the centre of creation, would also certainly integrate such evil spirits into its theology, finding explanations for how they came into being nd for why their deity allows them to exist.

However, it all sounds less clear cut here:
Seanachai wrote:
Now, the remaining tribes known as na Barim believe that Lo-Ruma is the only true god (Lo). But they have no doubt that other powerful entities (perhaps such as Orea, though they would not claim to know their names). They don't believe that they worship one of many gods, but that these other powers and entities, while powerful and revered as gods by others, are not god.

It’s not really possible to say from your example alone wether the na Barim practice monolatrism, henotheism or animism. One needed to know the stance of na Barim theology on exactly what the other powerful entities are.

If na Barim theology holds that the other entities must never be turned to in worship either because they are too weak, or do not care for the na Barim, or that it is somehow disadvantageous for the worshipper, or that it would gravely insult Lo-Ruma, this is most likely monolatrism, but it might also be animism; much depended on the na Barim’s opinion on exactly who the other entities are and how they interact with Lo-Ruma. If, on the other hand, the na Barim do at times, maybe even in secret and against the prescriptions of their religion, turn to some other entity besides Lo-Ruma in worship, they are practicing henotheism.

Seanachai wrote:
Have you guys talked about deism as opposed to theism?

No, we haven’t. Nobody else brought it up, and I didn’t because it an intellectual construct of the 17th century and the Enlightenment. Also, deism isn’t a type religion, it is a belief about the nature of god – that god has created the world and now doesn’t interfere anymore. That was of course handy for the thinkers of the Age of Enlightenment with their emphasis on man’s own responsibility, as it is a clever way to remove god from all that’s going on in the world without having to deny his existence.

Most importantly, deism denies any active involvement of divine powers in the world. Divine agency set everything in motion, then it removed itself from creation. A deist can therefore venerate the divine, but he can never ask anything of it – by his believes, the divine does not interfere.

Seanachai wrote:
In the end, of course, it wouldn't matter an Anderan kopper piece to them.

That’s certainly true. Terminology is only important for a flawless communication among those talking about something, it’s all the same for those practicing it.

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