I think one of the harder parts of worldbuilding is the development of a distinct cosmogony. George Lucas talked about that in reference to the philosophy in Star Wars. While it was based on Taoism, he said, it wasn’t enough of a philosophy to guide life. I can see what he means, from having written a couple new worlds. It’s difficult to create a fully-formed philosophy for a new culture, just as it’s a challenge to understand our current cultures and their varied expressions of religion.
On Persis, the planet where our novel Emerald Fire takes place, Rachel and I talked a lot about whether or not to have religion play a part and, if so, how large of one. For example, what does a funeral look like? Funerals and weddings are visible expressions of religion and their traditions are as varied as there are cultures on the planet. Did we want to do that on our planet? What religions did the settlers follow?
In the case of Persis, we decided to sidestep the whole issue and make them mostly Unitarian Universalist, with a visible similarity to Zen practices. This allowed us to have a priesthood that is under the radar and discrete. We do have Fundamentalists, in the Diggertowns, but their religion is more about being secretive than being religious. Other than that, we don’t have religion playing a large part in our world at all.
In a piece we’re working on, called Fear Not, we developed an entire cosmogony that is central to the plot. The creation myth has a direct effect on the plot because our characters were given their shifter forms by the goddess. Two goddesses, sisters, met two gods, brothers. The sisters both fell in love with the same brother and the one sister grew jealous of her sister’s love. The creatures they created started to war with each other, driven to it by the anger of their deity. The heroes were given their powerful animal shifter shapes by their patron deity in order to make more effective war. Religion is central to the culture in this story.
Each author resolves the situation in their own way for their stories. What are your favorite stories involving mythology? If you could create a world, what religion(s) would you give your characters?
“Philosophy and Religion in Star Wars,” Wikipedia entry, Accessed 12/09/2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_and_religion_in_Star_Wars
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
– E.E. Cummings
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