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Post by TennyoCeres84 »

How do Neo Pagan/Polytheist religions work in the Hopeverse? How are the different magical schools applied to them?

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Post by IamLEAM1983 »

"That, my friend, is the chestnut anthropologists, priests and secular theorists have been fighting over for the better part of the last thousand years. How can someone serve Horus in the modern day if everything points to there being a single, concrete entity on top of things? All the same, others say, why would anyone even bother with the main monotheistic pillars if there's just as much evidence that points to God just being the focal point of a Mandelbrot Spiral's worth of representatives, proxies and avatars? God is God, and He's also Vishnu, Kali, Dagda or Cernunnos - or Helios and Legba. Everyone's right and everyone's wrong, and there ain't a single book-thumping simpleton from here to Nigeria that's ready to concede that fact. Sure, Gabriel's going to swear up and down that angels are actually the ones who picked up concepts and fleshed out all of Humanity's concepts of divinity across all cultures, but everything calls back to the same focal point.

All religions focus on the same core tenets, when you trim the fat, and all god-presenting angels basically acted as autonomous proxies of a greater being. At least, up until the Fall. Dig around and you'll find that it isn't just limited to Lucifer and the Host; even Ludd and Nudd or Rama and Maricha qualify.

Now, this is the part that gets the more traditional practitioners steaming: you don't need specific rituals to summon Thrones. You don't need one to summon most demons, unless you're calling upon someone who's so far up their own ass they've devised a highly-specific calling card they'll exclusively answer to. Even Melmoth, with his relatively congenial stogies-and-money-clips business? That's a marker of vanity, right there. If he wanted, he could just tune into whomever happens to call out to him with enough conviction. The artifice is really just there to separate the doers from the dabblers, honestly. Case in point, he likes popping up just around the corner, whenever his gut sense tells him one of the local do-gooders needs a no-frills sounding board or a primer on arcane economics. You don't summon friends, after all - you just call them.

Take that consideration and patch it onto my wife's own practice, then. The sage-smudging on occasion, the self-centering, her observing Beltane and Samhain in little ways that don't detract from our changing routines - they're mental guidelines, honestly; just little rails there to push her proverbial little cart along the track to - hopefully - a greater sense of synchronicity with the wider world; what some New Agers call the Etheric Field or Prana or Mana - but what most folks like Meris and I just call via. It's Latin for way, or path, and that's all that magic honestly is. Anything faith seriously contributes to - the how and why of following a path. It could be the path of turning six-shooters into multitools like I've done, or the path of channeling martial spirits into power and physical poetry, like Miranda's learning. Each religion has its own coda for magic, its own way of approaching various effects - its own way of carving the via, the Path, that practitioners are looking to trace. Even, dumping that on religion's back exclusively ignores the real answer, which is that culture forms magic. What's religion, if it isn't a form of cultural expression, folklore turned into ritual, imbued with power?

Necromancers, then. The Western ones wear black, Japanese ones wear white. Some of them view death as the final corruption of one's physical form, others see it as the unshackling of something else, the unveiling of a deeper form, of something truer to the deceased's character. Some use it to curse, harm others or twist  Fate in their favor, others use it to bring healing and closure to those left behind. Someone who emerges out of a Polytheist structure is going to approach death in a fundamentally different way than someone who's a classical Monotheist. Even then, if you've dabbled with Milton, you probably know that Hell isn't necessarily perceived as one big place. For some people, there's levels to it - gates to cross. Maybe you're a Western-style Elemental mage who's really taken a shine to Buddhism and who seriously wonders if their hunting for new power wells means they'll turn into one of the Hindu and Buddhist gluttons - the unsatiable Preta who can't accept what's just out of their reach, just waiting to be grasped - and who look to plug that void with anything else they can get ahold of..."

He sniffs and finishes mopping up the diner's countertop with a rag.

"The Path isn't always convenient. Ask Aislinn or, heck, anyone else. It twists and turns and curls around your heart, it follows your own crooked edges and smooth planes, all the ways in which you, as a person, make sense to yourself. Or maybe you don't - and that's how via works for you. There's a reason why Archmages conquer death last, because Ascending is the hardest thing any wizard could ever hope to do, and because it's always custom-tailored to the one who seeks it. Of course, Zeb might say it works the same for liches too - but I've found that we just skipped past a few rungs on our way there, and now we're both stuck trying to figure out things we've missed. The only credit I can take is for taking my time, for having had the right teachers, and trying to stay humble about things.

It also means that whatever might click for 'Spasia, one day, might never click for me. I'm just a country boy stuck living in times bigger and better than his own damn self, and while I have more than enough love and respect to see the power in what's calling out to my wife, I can't answer in kind. To me, there ain't no power greater than what you'll find in virgin countryside, where the air still smells like Hope's used to, before steam trains became common and before gasoline took everything over. Except, she's clearly a Mountains person, and I'm a Plains guy."

Silas looks down, scoffs with a bit of self-derisiveness and amusement.

"It's kind of a long-winded non-answer, isn't it? I'd show you my notes, but the d'Aubignier fella's still trying to make sense out of my chicken-scratch..."  

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