Here's part three of a series with no end in sight.
Normally, I'd have this every other week, but I actually split part two in half, as there was more I wanted to talk about regarding fantasy names. So, technically this is part 2.5, but by George, I'm getting as much mileage out of this thing as I can.
The image this time is, again, from Villanova University. Most of these were taken in 2012, after I graduated, but when I still visited often. This is from their south campus, the residence halls for freshmen. I forget which building this was. As you can see, I like nature. 'Nova was pretty good for that.
The Archangel is the only deity of Salazarre. She's pointedly not a goddess, She does not interfere in the lives of Her worshipers. She instead cast the original, creator gods out of the High Heavens, so they call it, assuming their place in order to free humanity from their cruelty. Being that they were meddlesome gods, always getting involved in the lives of their creations, the Archangel ensured that humanity would be able to choose its own path and yatta yatta religious scripture.
Yes, I stole 'High Heavens' from Diablo, but it's not my fault it sounds so cool.
I knew that I wanted to make Salazarre a godless setting when I first started creating it. I have a tendency to do that, where religion doesn't center around a single god or pantheon, but something different altogether. One fantasy setting had star worship, the Asterae, believing them to be gateways into the primordial fires that shaped the world. I've since gone and figured out gods and minor deities of that setting, but for a while, it was just the stars themselves. Another setting, that Airless book I mentioned in part 1, worshiped the rock of the tunnels, the metal cities, the atmosphere and lack thereof.
When I really started writing in 2012 and 2013, I had read and seen a lot of stories where religion and fictional deities were a primary focus of the characters. And, you know, I liked these stories, I thought they were fine, though the extent to which the author would go on about these religions rubbed me the wrong way. It definitely makes sense for a fantasy setting, but for the science fiction stories, it felt unnatural. It felt too much like the author was trying to argue his own views on religion, at the expense of the story. The Dune series is really emblematic of this, especially God-Emperor. Lots of SFF authors come from religious backgrounds, and while I'm certainly not arguing against that, it does make things a little awkward for an agnostic like me.
Having grown up with Star Trek, religion in science fiction, at least, feels weird to me. I could keep talking about this, but I've gone enough of a tangent already. The point is, having seen all the ways religion can really overshadow a story, I wanted to see if I could create a subverted religion, where people are still very spiritual, but who don't worship traditional deities.
I might have left religion out altogether, tried to tell a story without it, but a good friend kept reminding me how important religion is in the lives of a lot of people, even if it's something that I've moved away from. I grew up Roman Catholic, albeit a lazy one, and made a slow transition to agnosticism starting in college. I don't reject religion, I do very much appreciate what it stands for and represents. But I want to make things that reflect my views on the world, I don't to artificially create a setting that is artificially religious purely for the fact that fantasy should be religious. I want something a little more interesting to me personally.
So! The Archangel was supposed to be a product of this idea. While remaining a figure of worship, She is recognized for not interfering with humanity, there's no such thing as divine intervention anymore. She made a pact with the world when She ascended, and She's kept to it all this time, silently watching the world, fighting Her own fight to protect it.
It is so annoying capitalizing those pronouns. I'm not sure if I'm gonna stick with it.
I like the idea of a holy figure that is not a goddess, not something that would interfere in the daily lives of people ala the Greek pantheon, or a deity that is said to be omniscient, omnipresent, other omnis, ala the Abrahamic God. A deity that wields no overt power Herself, who will never interfere in the world, but is still worshiped anyway.
She stands for the idea that life should exist, life must exist, and whenever it is threatened, life must be preserved no matter the cost. Which, you know, has dark fantasy written all over for it. I keep getting the image of the Archangel looking down upon a dark world, yearning for the light, unable to provide anything but Her hope, that no one can hear. Crying out for the world to survive as it slowly decays to sand and ash. Something She caused, that went far outside Her control.
The reason I went with an archangel as the deity is, simply, I just like angels. Ever since I started playing Magic the Gathering, which tends to have a lot of really cool angel imagery. My primary deck, for those in the know, was and is a mono-white knights and angels mix. It was from the Hope's Crusaders starter deck of Magic's Time Spiral set, which had this really nice fluff text about the remnants of grand empires fighting to survive after an apocalypse. Really built up a narrative about the deck, a ragtag army made from broken solders, bolstered by the heralds of fallen gods.
Now that I think about it, that probably had a lot to do with the kinds of stories I like to tell.
Archangels are actually the second order of the Christian angelic hierarchy, right above regular angels but below the rest. I always thought that kind of a waste, since the name is so interesting. Hence why I'm using it here.
I have a decent amount of imagery built up around the Archangel, Her insignia embroidered on the uniforms of all her holy soldiers, Her image being a woman in full plate with four angelic wings, symbolizing the gods she cast out of heaven. I'd put some of it up here, but, well, I'm a terrible artist. It mostly exists in my mind. But someday, hopefully I can get some artist friends to help me realize it.
It'd definitely be cool to have a flag or something on the website, like as a title banner or logo. Something for the future, I suppose.
I should also probably get working on a map for Salazarre, though I'd want it to look good, and that'll require a lot of work. I shouldn't be complaining, though; I'm creating an entire world from scratch, it's gonna take some work. Which is why I'm writing about it in the first place.
See you in part 4!