WOW, I honestly didn’t expect such a good reaction to my druid post. Around here, they aren’t that popular of a character class. I think that there is a mystery to how religions used to function. I mean, in high school literature they teach you Roman and Greek mythology, as it is very rich. I discovered a problem with my lack of faith early in life, I was baptized into Roman Catholicism, but in the 80’s my folks stopped taking me, as our regular priest was granted the rank of Bishop, and he was replaced by a pervert who got caught shoplifting porno mags from the local sex shop. GREAT STUFF!!! I think that something like that is enough to cause anybody to have second thoughts about the people who choose to dedicate their lives to God.
I tried other Christian religions, but none of them filled me up the way that Catholicism did, thus I went the other way. I studied the occult, and devils, and Satanism; this is some scary stuff, which got me into tons of trouble. It was then, at this climax in my life, when I needed spiritual assistance the most, that I discovered the Norse Runes. I found them to be magnificent, their magic easily grasped, but they are like chess, easy to learn but very very difficult to master. I have always felt that one’s relationship with God should be very personal. I have always had problems with every form of Christianity, I have a deep understanding of it, though I have found much more worth as a private practitioner, and I am not very Christian at all. I understand what God is, and that people need Deities to give it a human face to gaze upon.
There is some confusion about Neo-paganism. That we worship many gods, which isn’t true, we worship one god, but we break the one god down into many different parts, or aspects. Once one understands that all gods are one god, and that the myths are about us, then we understand the basic foundation of all religions.
I really enjoy the Nordic Mythology of Odin and Thor, of course this history is not as complete as the Roman myths, much of it was never written down, and many of the ones that we do have are either highly important to understanding, else are simply just the tales of bards which entertained the writer. There is also much mystery to them, or their incompleteness, how many “important” myths were lost, forever? That answer, is no doubt, MANY!
Christianity, I believe, has made us as a race, rather confused. Religion has always been about people and god, it has always dictated, to the people, what is proper behavior, and what is not; however, Christianity, particularly Roman Catholicism, actually took over as the law. One can accurately say that at one point, the Pope was more politically powerful then the grandest king. I do not believe that in the history of man, that a religion was ever as aggressive, nor as wealthy as Christianity. How did this happen? This too is a mystery.
I will admit that the Roman’s came close. The Romans also built elaborate temples, as did the Babylonians. Permanent structures dedicated to a specific god, with acolytes of that god always on hand on a full-time basis. As far as I can estimate, this is very rare, and it says something about the culture who did it. And was it not the great city of Rome that was the first city to be crushed by the Christian religious war? I doubt that it was the first battle, but the falling out of the Roman gods and the belief in the Christian faith was the first decisive victory.
All of this is good and dandy, however how does this help us in D&D which is the name of the game? I don’t really want to get too far into religion here, that isn’t why I started this blog, but religion does come into play.
Folks seem to avoid the classic archetype of the original PC Cleric. The mace wielding, undead turning, spell-caster of gaming’s past, into more of a Christian take on old religions. But do we really know any better? Christianity has us by the throats and won’t let us go.
Some classes, in and of themselves upset the balance which we might want to keep, thus begging the question, do we introduce an all consuming religion into our milieu, or do we resist it?
I believe that most religions in the dawn of man, were based on answering problems. Why does the sun move across the sky? What do the seasons mean? Big questions! God provided and punished wickedness though providing food and animals. By teaching us about tools, and methods of our survival.
Once we evolved past tribal life, we settled down and cities became. Gods are different for city life, we still sought protection, and wealth, however we had time to ponder a different question, what happens to us after our death? It also brought plagues and sickness, new gods for us to fear! Temples were raised to honor them, out of fear and hope they came to be.
Christianity started as a slave religion, the religion of the Jews. Once Christ came, the religion changed into one of forgiveness and hope. A caring god, one who let us punish ourselves, and gave us new gods and myths for us to chew on that were more relevant to the times. However the teachings of Jesus went into one ear, and right out the other. Christianity grew in strength through the blade of a sword. Once it took the minds of the Nobles, it took over government. The old ways are still around . . . the old gods are not dead, their ghosts are still around. The people hid their beliefs.
Today we have this Wiccan stuff which claims that witchcraft is a religion, which it isn’t. A witch is not a healer, they are the spies of hell. Demons in human form, who sold their souls to the devil for powers beyond the realm of mankind. A healer, and the old religions are not witchcraft! I have no idea why they chose this title? Perhaps to shove the Witchhunts in their faces, attempting to gleam some kind of pity from the church, or some way to legitimize what they are doing, making it appear to be an older faith then what it really is.
Now that I have properly offended the Wiccans, let us go back to the topic. Who was in charge of religion prior to city life? The answer is simple! We all were. Fathers taught their sons the gods, and what they do. Holidays were practiced by everyone. In small towns alters were erected, but people also kept them in their homes. There were no true clerics in the modern sense of the word. Before the age of writing, none of it was written down, it was all a oral history about our past. Great men and women from our histories became Gods, and we invoked their names to keep our children informed of what is to come, and to instill in them, and ourselves, a specific code of conduct which we shared as a culture.
I think that this is important! The church is a bi-product of what happens to a culture when they all lose their faiths. When they cease to need God, and stop looking up. God to us, evolves as our minds do. I don’t think that we would be happy with worshiping a god of the hunt, because how many of us are forced to hunt for our survival? As long as we can go down to the Piggly Wiggly to pick up a package of ground beef, we could give a crap about the god of the hunt!
The gods reflect the people, they always have. They display the cultures needs, their fears, and their desires. How did they go about practicing these beliefs? What are the cultures holidays? Are they private, or are they practiced as a community? Should we instill a dominant, and violently zealous religion into our worlds, they are dual bladed. On one hand, you have noble paladins, but on the other, you have religious war and witch hunts. Paladins cannot exist without power and wealth, and where do they get their wealth? Why from other people, of course! Some knightly orders were usually founded upon the wealth of a man, but it stays rich by hunting down the enemies of their gods and taking their land and money. But paladins are Lawful Good? Well, one final thought before I go. In the legends of King Arthur, all of the knights of the round table were Cavaliers, but just one, Sir Lancelot, was a Paladin.
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