So, we’ve established that religion isn’t easy. It’s neither easy to pull of, nor is it easy to convey. But it’s something that many SF/F writers find necessary. It succeeds to a variety of degrees, I think, but most of all it does bring us closer to a culture that is not our own. Even if we aren’t particularly religious ourselves as readers, we can understand the impact religion has on a culture.
Now I’m writing about the other religions in the Aldersgate Cycle. Aside from the non-religion of the state, there remain vestiges, especially in more rural districts of the Territories and, further north on the Isle of Mor. As well, a second culture of people, known as the Sibs have their own connection to the old gods, one that they posit has gone unbroken since the Great Collision (the cataclysmic event that happens 400 years before the story starts).
Have I lost you yet?
Both those on Mor and the Sibs have a nearly identical pantheon. Both their societies are ordered by seven clans which, on the whole, coincide with gods and goddesses, though have slightly different names. I’m personally fascinated by a variety of mythologies, and having studied the Elder Futhark (Norse Runes) recently, it has certainly influenced the names of the clans (which happen to coincide with the first six letters of the Rune alphabet–not that original, perhaps, but it works for me at the moment).
Beyond that particular pantheon, there are other movers and shakers. Lee Renmen, a Knight of the Order of the Asp has fashioned himself a kind of shamanistic priest, dedicated to rediscovering the life-force of the earth through nature, experimentation, and dream visions. He does not worship gods as we would understand, but rather worships the manifestations of nature, something completely self-discovered. His story is long (too long for a post here) but he’s a fascinating character. His influence on the Order of the Asp has turned it into a quasi-religious Order.
In his own words:
“After the Great Collision, nothing in this world was the same. The old religion was forgotten, replaced by a faith of cold, stone churches, and silent gods who had turned their backs on us. This was false—this religion was a religion of lies. It was no surprise that the people turned to the Dranists; they had been praying to gods that did not exist. We had all forgotten…
“But I have spent ten years in the desert. I have listened to the stories of the old crones; I have spoken with the Tenders at their business. I have tasted the rain, I have smelled the first blood of the hunt spilled on the hot sands. The gods, they have come to me; they have whispered in my ear and directed my steps. We are all but shadows and whispers in their wake, my friends: shadows and whispers.”