Sunday, 10 February 2013

Ishtarian Religions

In Poul Anderson's Fire Time (London, 1977), native Ishtarians develop many religions and do not proselytize. The Ishtarian Larreka says:

" '...I'd no reason not to sacrifice to the gods. Having yarned with a lot of outlanders, I knew our gods didn't rule the universe. In fact, I sort of doubted they were more than a story. However, we'd suffered less than most folk, and fair's fair. Besides, respectability's useful to have. Why not go through the rites?'" (p. 155)

Thus, he expresses four views of religion:

Paganism - if outlanders worship other gods, then our gods are specific to our land;
scepticism - are the gods anything more than stories?;
pragmatism - our life is not bad so why not give thanks?;
social observance - respectability is worthwhile.

Later, after losing his entire family at sea, Larreka:

" '...challenged the gods to come down and fight like honest males.' " (p. 157)

- but thought that his kin were superstitious when they attributed their later hardships to his " '...ranting at the gods.' " (p. 157)

Later, he travelled widely and joined the Triadic faith which personifies the three suns, whether literally or allegorically:

the main sun, Bel, is the sometimes terrible life-giver;
remote Ea symbolises the necessities of winter and death;
Anu, whose millennial approaches disrupt the planetary environment, brings chaos but also renewal.

The Ishtarian forebrain does not shut down while sleeping so Ishtarians can direct their dreams, for example can dream the Triad, and some can communicate dream visions through words, music and dance, whereas for a human being the Triad remains only "'...a philosophical concept.' " (p. 149)  

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