Thursday, May 21, 2020

Clerics of the Far Future

Clerics of the Latter Ages do not serve the many gods of Old Earth, those protectors of cities and ancient ruins and the old knowledge of humankin. They are not priests. In fact, had they not been set upon the path the communications between the gods and lesser spirits would have driven them mad. They could hear, but could no more return the correct responses than any of their kin who were deaf to the unending, unanswered transmissions.

What saves the cleric from such a fate is the holy symbol. These devices made or found by the Ancients and brought back from the stars allow a cleric to enter a state of communion with the transcendent, the Divine. The signal of the Divine clarifies or attenuates the babble of the gods and spirits, and opens the way for clerics to command them, wielding their borrowed power as a conduit for Divine will.

Some scholars claim that the holy symbol merely provides contact with minds no great than the gods of Earth, only located on other planes or worlds.  Some even hold simply places mind of the cleric in an altered state, that a holy symbol only facilitates self-deception. Clerics are above such speculations. They have the surety of faith.

Despite their unbelief, wandering clerics are given shelter and support by the priesthoods as they can aid in determining a god's wishes at times when even priests may be at a loss.


JB said...

This concept is very similar in flavor to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover novels where individuals with "laran" (psychic powers) all possess a unique "matrix stone" that helps them focus their power. Such individuals carry the stone in a small bad around their neck, and while they sicken and die if it's taken from them, physically touching the stone causes its owner pain.

The idea that keeps popping into my head when I consider "clerics of the future" is the idea of clerics as scientist/physicians. Curing spells are just medical training, even raising dead (resuscitating the mortally wounded), or blessings (administering various drugs/chemicals). It seems like a simple step or two to going all the way with such a concept...but I haven't taken that step.

Anne said...

I like the different ideas you propose for how the symbol might work. It makes me imagine people born with radio antennas in their heads, and the symbol as something like a tuner that makes sure it's set to a comprehensible channel, or like a translation algorithm that takes in the Old Tongue and outputs the common language.

Have you read "Ventus" though? If not, your thought experiments are leading you in a remarkably convergent direction! I think you'd probably enjoy it.

Trey said...

I have. Definitely an influence.

Jason Galterio (Legionair) said...

I don't really agree with the interpretation of the holy symbol as being an artifact / functionality of its own. Only because that implies that anyone can pick it up and potentially use it.

I always preferred the 'fetish' approach where the symbol / item was a physical object that allowed the cleric to focus their thoughts and enter a type of trance.

I feel that the active use of a holy symbol defeats the very purpose of it. The holy symbol should be used in a more passive way, proving the cleric's faith in their beliefs.

Fending off Undead, as an example. Threatening with the symbol, holding it extended from the body, using it like a weapon... those actions feel like the actions of panic. Of uncertainty. Grand standing.

On the other hand, holding the symbol close to oneself. Reacting calmly portrays a certainty in ones belief that feels like the aspect that should ward of Undead.

"I don't believe in you. I don't believe you can hurt me. My faith casts you out." vs. "I am going to bludgeon you with this thing until you're not a threat."

Trey said...

I don't think my post implies anyone can pick up an use a holy symbol at all given that I start by describing the unique characteristics of the cleric to be.