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Essentially, this is a sort of brainstorming question: Say a world has many kingdoms and cultures, and each of these have magicians who can use magic, which includes things like improving physical strength and casting fireballs and the like. The knowledge that magic exists is widespread and, while perhaps not a part of daily life for many in the lower castes, generally accepted as fact considering its constant use in warfare and in the upper echelons of various societies.

In this world, each Kingdom favors a different sort of magic. Say one kingdom's people are more naturally adept in focusing the power of the elements, another has magicians that are more naturally skilled in psychic/telekinetic abilities, another has magicians that are naturally skilled in raising the dead, etc.

That being said, would the Religions necessarily be related to their favored magic, considering the very nature of magic being the ability for human beings to do things that defy the laws of physics and reality? What sorts of situations might lead to there being religions in different kingdoms that are in no way or only marginally related to the magic that they favor?

To summarize: In a world where different kingdoms exist and each use magic that allows them to control and manipulate different powers, would each of said kingdoms have to have religions that are related to the magic they favor? What conditions might exist that result in religions completely or mostly unrelated to their magic?

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  • $\begingroup$ Early religions will be very likely connected to cultures' specific features. But later, global, proselytic religions would become dominant because of their all-accepting nature. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Aug 7 '18 at 23:25
  • $\begingroup$ Even if a regions religion is not directly focused on the magic, the cultural effects of the magic will likely influence the religion. For example, your land of necromancers will likely have a religion involving an afterlife that people can go to and come back from. $\endgroup$ – Zenon Aug 8 '18 at 4:53
  • $\begingroup$ Exactly how is magic approached in this world? Is it like physics, where the fundamentals are generally known, or is it like, well, magic? Could I get into the Massachusetts Institute of Thaumaturgy and learn how to use magic? Or do I have to apprentice myself to a magician and learn arcane things and techniques that nobody really understands? $\endgroup$ – David Thornley Aug 8 '18 at 18:15
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The Accoutrements Of Daily Life Add Color But Not Meaning

That being said, would the Religions necessarily be related to their favored magic, considering the very nature of magic being the ability for human beings to do things that defy the laws of physics and reality?

This is the weak chain in the link.

There is no reason for this to be the case, anymore than religions in our world have any relationship to science and engineering. Nobody goes to the Church of Newton (unless you live in Newton, MA).

While religions reflect their adherent's understandings of their world and their way of life, that doesn't mean that people worship the ordinary things that they deal with on a day to day basis.

The ceremonies by which people celebrate their religions may incorporate almost thoughtlessly, local magic.

People who can remotely light candles are not going to have six foot candle lighting rods sitting around their temple sanctuaries, and if they do a lot of fire magic, they may choose to decorate in non-flammable materials.

People who can levitate probably aren't going to have a staircase to the pulpit.

But, these local innovations may not even been seen as having religious dimensions to them, any more than people who put aluminum siding of their church in our world because that is a material that is expedient and easily available do so because there is anything inherently sacred about aluminum siding.

The more infused daily life is with magic, the less likely it is to have religious significance.

To understand a religion one should look to its members needs emotionally, to the uncertainties and triumphs they face as a community and as families within that community.

What are the defining events in the lives of people in this religion? What are their greatest fears? What events trigger emotional highs and lows? Identify those and there will be rituals and prayers centered around them.

Some could be magical in nature.

If you come into your magical capacity or identify your magical specialty at some age, that could be celebrated in a coming of age ritual.

If people have magical power that varies from time to time in an emotionally relevant way, for example, leaving you deeply depressed after using a lot of it, there might be some personal rite by which the religion helps people deal with it (perhaps analogous to the Roman Catholic practice of private confession of sins).

Birth, marriage and death will be important in every culture.

Know your world and you will know what has meaning to people, and hence, what the religion will have rites to help people cope with in their lives.

Religion Evolves with the Scale of a Society's Political Economy

Historically, a fairly common succession of religious world views goes from animism (somewhat naturally arising out of an anthropic view of the world from the perspective of a hunter-gatherer), to not necessarily very human-like gods (at the Neolithic transition), to ancestor worship, to polytheism (paralleling the political world of a chiefdom or small state as individual divine ancestors become shared divine ancestors), to monotheism (paralleling the large universalist bureaucratic state), with intermediate stages along the way. Consider where your religion is on its path, where it came from, and which stage it will be heading towards next.

A society fresh out of a polytheistic stage to a monotheistic one may have lots of revered saints to smooth over the transition. A sect of a more mature monotheistic sect, like the Puritans, may seek to tear away all of those residual elements used to make the last transition so as to purify the faith of its heretical antecedents.

It can get slippery. The animal sacrificing Temple Judaism of the ancient Hebrews, for example, would be barely recognizable to a modern adherent to Rabbinical Judaism, even though, there is an ancestor-descendant relationship between the two phases of the Jewish religion which has not fully rejected its earlier traditions, and even though they are religions known by the same name.

Metaphysical Worlds Mirrors Contemporary Political Structures

In addition to following an evolutionary path somewhat related to the political and economic structure of the world where it exists, the organization of a religion's metaphysical world tends to echo the political structure of a world, because most people aren't all that creative when it gets down to it, when it comes to imaging other possible worlds.

If people live in rival kingdoms, the metaphysics of their religions probably have a royalist perspective with different kingdoms (perhaps heaven, purgatory and hell, or more), in the divine world.

Religions Fixate On Norms Needed For Community Survival

Religions reflect the values and norms its people think are critical to their culture's continued existence as of their formative period.

The ancient Egyptian religion placed the maintenance of a firmly legitimate dynasty rooted in the annual rhythms of the Nile about all else because this is what made their continued existence as a civilization possible.

Confucian philosophy's focus on hierarchy and order met the needs of a society sundered by lawless feuding warlords who destroy each other in struggles for power and barbarian raids, who need to be unified by clear lines of authority in order to maintain internal peace and repel invasions.

The earliest portions of Old Testament Judaism and early Islam reflect the values of people living a nomadic herder life, where a culture of honor is necessary for survival and harsh punishments are the only option because the community doesn't have the resources to maintain jails and prisons.

Temple Judaism reflects the needs of a newly urbanized group of people who have transitioned from nomadic herding, to sedentary farming (and the Temple designs are classic megalithic astronomy devices useful for managing crop cycles).

Rabbinical Judaism elevated literacy, scholarship and ritual observance to supreme values in the face of an urgent need to preserve the community's tradition and intellectual existence while cast to the four winds in small diaspora communities.

Christianity brought norms that tended to the needs of an intensely urban society of merchants and craftsmen living cheek by jowl, in which an underlying theme of forgiveness served the community better than a culture of honor that turns slights into blood feuds.

The moral creed of the Methodists of the First Great Awakening in the United States focused on providing its parishioners with bonds as fellow members of mutually supportive communities who needed each other, each and every one, as pioneers in the wilderness.

Evangelical Christianity in the American South that arose in the Second Great Awakening cemented the values and attitudes its members felt they needed to maintain a slave labor based society.

If you want to create an authentic feeling religion for these magical people, ask yourself what norms this community needs to drag its people into in order to face its most urgent challenges better. Stick to just one core norm or perhaps a mysterious give and take of a couple contrasting norms that must be balanced like mercy and justice.

Is the existential threat these communities face infighting? Is it a failure to innovate and overcome their rivals? Is it unleashing Pandora's box by being too innovative? Is it the need to work in harmony with other kingdoms, or the need to fight to the death to repeal genocidal invasions? Is it the need to prevent uprisings of the lower castes? Or is it the needs to prevent magical talent from being diluted through out marriage to people who aren't magical?

Understand what values the community needs to survive and you have written the homilies and parables that will be taught in the churches and temples and home altar hearths.

Religions Thrive When They Nurture Threatened Cultures

Another dimension in thinking about religious world building is how vibrant the religious part of life is in these kingdoms.

As a rule of thumb, religions that nourish and are a part of a threatened culture thrive, while religions that merely echo widely held establishment views fall victim to apathy and shallow commitment even if religious institutions have ample economic resources and state authority at their disposal.

Irish Catholic churches during centuries of oppression at the hands of English Protestants, were vibrant institutions full of earnest and devout parishioners. At the same time, French Catholic churches, continuing centuries of tradition and controlled by senior clergy closely related to local nobility, gathered dust and had lots of vacant pews most of the year.

Immigrant churches and in the U.S. African-American churches of oppressed outsiders thrive, while mainline churches have in recent times after being coopted and losing their ethnic identity, go through the motions.

If there are ex-patriot communities in these magical kingdoms, you can expect the churches and temples of these foreigners trying to hold onto a sense of home to be better attended and more respected by its members and more strongly supported, than local churches and temples of people who take their culture and faith for granted.

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    $\begingroup$ Your initial point alone was really well-made; just because they're in a world where magic and the supernatural are commonplace, doesn't mean they won't seek meaning. After all, taoism isn't about worshipping powerful supernatural beings at all, simply about trying to make sense of the world. $\endgroup$ – Matthew Dave Aug 8 '18 at 9:19
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. Your comment inspired me to slightly reorganize and elaborate on my original answer somewhat. $\endgroup$ – ohwilleke Aug 9 '18 at 4:51
  • $\begingroup$ This is an amazing answer! There's a lot to think about here. I suppose I didn't properly consider that people can search for meaning to life completely separate from the specific magic that exists around them. As you said, the more common the magic, the less they see it as being 'holy.' Great stuff! $\endgroup$ – doplin Aug 9 '18 at 15:55
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Sure. Religions could be any sort of thing you want. Take the Amish, for example. They live in a world filled with technology, but they believe that God would rather them not use it. An equivalent might be the Mamish, who live in a world filled with magic, but they believe that God doesn't want them doing magic stuff.

Also consider evangelical Christianity. No matter what is happening in the scientific world, many Christians maintain an invisible God who deals with them on a personal level rather than on a scientific one. A good case can be made that for several Christians, God is more about how they feel than what they do or happens in the world around them (whether that is the right way to be Christian or not is another topic).

These things happen because religion isn't "just" about supernatural things, or even things that you see in the world around you. It's typically confirmed with supernatural things. Organized religions (in the west anyway) are more about authority figures, relationships, and the impact they have on moral considerations and hopes for the afterlife.

Basically, yeah, religion could definitely develop which has nothing to do with magic, even in a world where magic is commonplace.

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Your magic sounds like some pretty crazy stuff. It's so crazy that people who don't know much about it or have no knowledge of its use might even worship it. But you know what else is crazy? The sun. Think about it, it's a giant ball of fire that moves regularly through the sky, and only becomes more crazy sounding as you learn more about it. Sure, there are some people who will worship it, but most major religions consider it a creation, not a creator. So yes, you can have a religion that worships something other than magic, with magic either as a devine gift from their deity, or just another fact of life.

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Use the "organic" trend as an example.

Think about the "organic" trend. We currently have plenty of chemicals able to make fruits grow bigger and our farm animals better. However, there are people who prefer "natural grown" fruits and animals, even if that means smaller fruits or less meat in the animals (and most of the time with a higher price). They prefer not to consume "enhanced" resources and not to use all that available technology.

The same could be applied to a "non-magic" religion in a magical world. That religion will despise the use of magic and will relay on human natural abilities, even if that means giving up all the benefits of the magic. You will need to design a God that prefers the abstinence from magic and provides eternal benefits to the ones that rely on their natural gifts. Even a "Savior from the Magic Chaos that will condemn you".

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each Kingdom favors a different sort of magic.

Maybe each kingdom has its specific sort of magic due to its location. Some regions may provide natural magic power of levitation, others provide fire magic.

What about a region that provides some sort of anti-magic? Where the specific talent of their magicians is to disable magic spells? Maybe they don't see this (anti-)magic as a sort of magic, but as the will of god that people should not use magic.

Their magicians would not be called magicians but priests. Those priests speaking a prayer that disables magic of others would not be amused if you call them magicians.

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Contrary to popular belief, not all religions are made equal. They're not always about worshipping some great big authority figure who proves his power through supernatural feats (a la monotheistic religions and the Greek/Roman pantheons).

In a world where magic is commonplace, I imagine that such religions would be rare, if not absent, due to the fact that magic exists; so at this point we have to look at religion's other purposes.

  • Moralising and philosophy
  • Making sense of the world
  • Control of the masses

For these purposes, many faiths would sprout. Where does magic come from? The Gods, of course! Why do rivers ebb and flow at certain times of the year? An angry river spirit who denies water on his bad days. Is it bad to have sex before making a lifelong commitment to a mate? YES! Want to make a society more orderly/repressed? Tell them God wants you to obey and give money to the priestly class!

Et cetera, et cetera. There are plenty of religious tenets unrelated to the presence of magical powers in-universe.

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