Culture-Building: Religion

I will say this first:  I am not a religious person.

Yet, religion, as a rule, has played such a large part in the history of humankind, in the creation of various aspects of our lives that we take for granted, and in so many of the current cultural conflicts that it was one of the first things I considered when building the culture of the Peace of Evon series.

In fact, religion is so influential in our lives and history that I probably didn’t do enough research to fully remove the influence of Earth religion from my world’s culture.  But, really, who could?

To be honest, the plot behind the Peace of Evon storyline began as a simple fantasy adventure.  The same kind of thing you might read in so many other fantasy books:  main characters assembled under a common goal on a quest to achieve that goal.

It wasn’t until I was deciding what would happen in the final battle (a scene that will appear near the end of the fourth book in the series) that I realized I wanted something greater than that.  I decided then that the main character needed an antagonist who was greater than human, someone who could influence her other enemies without showing himself to her until this critical point, someone, indeed, who embodied everything she was trying to prevent.

And so was born War, my first demigod.

However, by the very name ‘demigod’, there had to be something greater than him.  With research into various religions and the addition of some ideas that I myself thought should be important, I created a group of gods that ruled the region and the mortal souls within it, keeping the Balance and holding back the Chaos.

Once I introduced the gods and religion into the world, the plot changed tone.  The story gained a spiritual side that it hadn’t had before.  But, more than that, I found myself becoming more aware of the words I was using and the small aspects of the world’s culture that I hadn’t even considered before.

The people of the Peace of Evon series are not Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or any other of the multitude of religions that fill our world.  They didn’t even have paganism the way our world did.  Their culture was defined by the gods who created and guided them, and by their own knowledge of this.

I found myself processing the influence of the religion through the divisions of time, the language used, the holy days, important life milestones and ceremonies, etc.  If you read my last post, you’ll probably realize that I just listed most of the things I mentioned in that article.  That’s how important and influential the religion became.  I’ve posted this particular article first, not necessarily because I wanted to, but because no others would have made sense without it.

My next two or three posts will expand upon different aspects of culture-building with religion, but I would also like to hear from other people on this topic.  What have your experiences been with religion in scifi/fantasy?  Have you had to deal with this in your own writing or have you noticed it in others?

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3 comments on “Culture-Building: Religion
  1. boteotu says:

    Religion in Pathallea for the civilized races is quite removed from the normal lives of these races, mainly because many of these races are highly advanced technologically. Generally, the religions of these races is polytheistic in nature. For the humans specifically, there are a number of ‘Lords’ that preside over the main aspects of the natural world but spirits of the honourable dead are also typically the subjects of prayers mostly (something between Hinduism and Japanese ancestor-worship). The full-scale practicing of this religion by the humans was mostly ended by the wholesale expulsion of the Royal Families from the three human lands nearly a century or so before the main plot of the novel. Something similar to what happened in the West, but the transformation was more complete in these human realms.
    Like in Western culture, religious phrases are common — things like ‘my Lord’ and the like that are used in daily conversation..
    I look forward to reading more of these awesome Culture-Building posts of yours.

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