Religion can be a tough topic of conversation. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the side of religion or not or which religion your faith lies, contention typically arises when there are opposing points of view. It’s also a topic that has existed since the dawn of human existence. First, there was animism, followed by a belief in eternal extension after death, and soon followed deity worship which encompasses most religions known today.
Religion pervades almost every aspect of life in one form or another, so it would follow that even in fiction, it would become prevalent, too. Rather than pulling from reality, the following authors made up their own religions. Here are six fascinating fictional religions for your reading curiosity.
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
The TOG universe worships two religions; one, a pantheon of gods and goddesses, and two, the Three-Headed Goddess.
The first is a gathering of deities overseen by the mother of gods, The Great Goddess. Her children include:
– Lumas, 1st born. God of Love and Lord of the Gods. Celebrated in Yulemas.
– Farnor, God of War.
– Hellas, the dark god, God of the Underworld.
– Anneith, Goddess of Manipulation, Cleverness, and Trickery.
– Temis, Goddess of Wild Things
– Deanna, Keeper of the Moon and Lady of the Hunt.
– Mala, Goddess of the Sun, the Light-Bringer; the Fire-Bringer; and the Lady of Light, Learning, and Fire.
– Silba, Goddess of Health and Healing
As with any polytheist religion, deities become patrons of certain sects of people. In TOG, many characters worship specific gods/goddesses. There are rivalries and marriages within the pantheon. Hellas and Anneith are consorts; Deanna and Mala are both sisters and rivals.
An afterlife is emphasized throughout the story, one in which the mortal realm can sometimes interact with those already deceased. At least, that is, in the case of Aelin. By all accounts, this is a place of rest and respite from mortality and loved ones reunited for eternal peace.
Major Religious holidays include:
– Samhuinn, celebrated on November 1st, is much like Samhain, where the veil between the mortal world and the ghostly realm is thin.
– Yulemas, a four-day holiday, December 20-24, is similar to Christmas and celebrates love in the world and Lumas. Gifts are exchanged, and lavish parties are thrown.
– Beltane, a Spring holiday on May 1st, celebrates the renewal of fertile soil and the planting of the first crops. Bonfire celebrations are held.
The Ironteeth believe in the Three-Faced Goddess, not the pantheon most of the world believes in. The Three-Faced Goddess encompasses the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. All aspects that describe the aging stages of a woman’s life. Her counterpoint is Abraxos; a serpent that waits for the Three-Faced Goddess’s command to devour the world; a world that is held within his coils. The Ironteerh Witches believe that when they die, they will be claimed by the Darkness, but SJM left much of this religion and ideology vague, so it’s unclear as to the aspects that encompass this afterlife.
A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
Martin’s globally renowned book and TV adaptation features five major religions; The Old Gods of the First Men, the New Gods of The Seven, the Lord of Light, The Many-Faced God, and the Drowned God. Only two, the Old Gods and the New Gods, are highly recognized and discussed, and those are the ones we’ll focus on today.
The Old Gods of the First Men, also referred to as the Old God of the Forest, have no name or embodiment. They are found among nature and the natural elements of the forest. Worshippers of this religion are northern: the Starks, Umbers, Boltons, and Wildlings. The first followers, the Children of the Forest, were not human. They carved faces into the sacred Weirwood trees throughout Westeros so that they might have a place to worship their deities.
After the First Men and the Children warred and came to an understanding, it was agreed that no other Weirwood would be destroyed, and the First Men adopted the Old Gods. When the Andals invaded, they brought with them the Faith of the Seven. As the Starks worship the Old Gods, they have a certain mystical power surrounding their house and a few of its members, most notably Bran.
The most widely accepted religion in Westeros is the Faith of the Seven or the New Gods. Houses that follow this religion are; the Lannisters, Tyrells, Targaryens, Tullys, and Tarlys. Despite its name, there is but one god worshipped in the Faith of the Seven; he merely encompasses seven facets:
– The Father doles out divine justice and judges the souls of the dead.
– The Mother embraces mercy, peace, fertility, childbirth, and the strength of women.
– The Maiden embodies beauty, purity, innocence, and love
– The Crone is imbued with wisdom and foresight.
– The Warrior embodies strength and courage in battle.
– The Smith enhances creation, craftsmanship, and labor.
– The Stranger is death and the unknown.
Temples are erected to this religion, which is also seven-sided, called Septs. Their officiants are known as Septons if they are men and Septas if they are women. The High Septon is the leader of the faith, who lives at the Great Sept of Baelor in King’s Landing. Unlike the Old Gods, there are rules and morality encompassed in the pages of a text called The Seven-Pointed Star.
World of Five Gods by Lois McMaster Bujold
This alternate reality fantasy series has a deeply researched and well throughout polytheistic religion. The Quintarian Faith pantheon includes five gods:
– The fertile Mother of summer.
– The wise Father of winter,
– The virginal Daughter of spring.
– The warrior Son of autumn.
– The Bastard, patron of executioners and carrion beasts, whose season is Leap Day.
An interesting take on this faith, the gods were created by matter rather than the opposite being true. Matter formed a fiery heart that created the World-Soul, which split into the Mother and the Father, who then created the Son and the Daughter from their love. These gods split the seasons and lived in harmony and peace. From the chaos of the heart came demons that lead to the era of Great Sorcerors. One of the demons was allowed to possess a hermit, who taught him the virtues of the world. That demon became the champion of the Great Mother, fighting to rid the world of demons. He eventually dies in battle, but together, their love created the Bastard.
The gods are an active part of the world that relies on the active participation of free will from their human counterparts. And by that, we mean some sort of manipulation. Usually through dreams and visitations. They have no power to actively affect the world. Oddly, each human is guaranteed a “miracle”; this is dependent on which god accepts the human soul when they die.
The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
The Inheritance Trilogy involves a polytheistic religion. One that gods are active participants in the world they create. Each book is entrenched in the events of the gods and mortals. The first book of this fascinating sci-fi fantasy series is set in the age of The Bright, a forced age of monolatrist religion. Before, there was a pantheon called “the Three” that included Itempas, the Skyfather; Nahadoth, the Nightlord; and Enefa, the Gray Mother. They ruled the universe together until Itempas killed Enefa of the Gods’ War and enslaved Nahadoth.
The Godlings, children of the three, were also enslaved alongside Nahadoth. Itempas then imposes the Interdiction, banning all other godlings from entering the mortal world, where they are no longer worshipped. Demons are the offsprings of human and god couplings; they are mortal but also powerful. Their blood holds the key to killing gods, something discovered during the time of the Three, which caused the gods to launch The Demon Wars in an attempt to eradicate the source of their mortal vulnerability.
Itempas has installed the Arameri, the descendants of his loyal follower from the Gods’ War, as the rulers of the mortal world. They wield the power of Nahadoth and the Godlings, making them nearly indestructible.
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