Trope-a-Day: Fantasy Pantheon

Fantasy Pantheon: Yes, indeed, in the shape of the Triad that emanate from the Flame, their 48 Divine Ministers and Aspects, some divine oddities like the Court of the Seasons, the Court of the Muses, and the Elemental Hexad, and their exarchs (for which read angels, kami, devas, genii loci, etc.).  And most of them do, arguably, have Anthropomorphic Personifications, although most of them have several, and quite a few non-anthropomorphic, and in some cases amorphic, personifications too – and they never turn up anywhere outside statuary, and suchlike.

Of course, in the beginning they didn’t actually exist in any physical sense, or, for that matter, as the full worship-objects of so many deities; rather, these eikones were personifications of idealized abstract concepts, and all the bundles of ideas wrapped around them, suitable for mortal reverence and emulation.  Having this sort of deity made it a rather philosophical sort of religion, and more or less ideal when it came to persisting once non-supernatural worldviews and atheism set in.

And then the Transcend came along, put on the masks, took up the insignia, and for all intents and purposes, there are now real gods in the heavens – albeit either in the virtual heavens, or in the form of a seed AI with a brain the size of a star system, depending on how you look at it…

(The henotheism part of the trope is averted, however.  While some eikones may be more prominent in any given life than any other, the theology is very clear that each of them only cares about those things within its sphere, and nothing for anything else.  A warrior who devoted himself absolutely to Kalasané, eikone of battles, and ignored Lanáraé, eikone of romantic love, could expect to find no love in this life, no matter how honored he was on the field.  Honoring all of the eikones, even if not to the same degree, is the expected behavior.)

It is also notable for not containing any “gods of evil”, or for that matter “demons”.  The opposition in the cosmology is the impersonal force identified as “chaos” or “entropy” – which the emulation of the eikones as forces of creation and order enables sophonts to fight, bringing about an ideal world; i.e., immanentizing the eschaton.

The Word of the Flame (3/9)

The following, as were the preceding two (1, 2) and will be the other six entries in the series, are extracts from the Word of the Flame, the record of the seeress Merriéle’s visions that is also the primary text of the Church of the Flame, the mainstream eldraeic religion.

More specifically, this series will contain all 51 verses of the book of Principles, which enumerate the principles of each of the eikones in the form of each’s foremost principle as they would have it expressed under Heaven, although naturally each eikone’s own book examines the fullness of the principle they represent from many more angles and in much more detail.  Nonetheless, the three verses of the Triarchs and the 48 verses of their Divine Ministers are second only to the book of Truths in Flamic moral teaching.

Perfection is asymptotic;
All things brook improvement.
Let nothing be untested; nothing tested, unimproved.
This is the command of Merélis
Who permits nothing to stand.

The tree with its fruits, the wolf with her cubs,
The smith at her forge, the worker in stone;
All leave the world greater than it was.
This is the command of Medáríah
Who revels in abundance.

The circle, the branch, these are machines.
Each cog must turn in harmony;
The forms must be obeyed.
This is the command of Ráfiën
Through whom many act as one.

The will is strong, sovereign in itself.
Its clash brings only pain and entropy;
To find the serene path rewards all.
This is the command of Rúnel
Whose words please all who hear.

In Her sight all things are fixed;
In Her slumber alone are you free.
Seek not to know the future, only to shape it.
This is the command of Laryssan
Whose eyes discern the Weave.

The artist, upreaching, brings a divine spark to earth;
The lovers, conjoining, kindle a new fire below.
Let the light of both illuminate your lives.
This is the command of Lanáraé
Whose warmth dwells in all hearts.

– the Word of the Flame, Principles 10-15