Immanent Gods

Consider the source of the numinous. Your basic RPG thinks very little of it or places it in a watered interpretation of the greek pantheon. In this case the numinous is transcendent, coming from without and inwards. It is probably more common in reality for the numinous to be seen as immanent, coming from the inside out.

Consider the burning bush which Moses happens upon. God talks to him and makes it very clear he is temporarily inhabiting, or maintaining a situational relationship with, the bush to make a point. A culture which held to the immanence of the numinous would be speaking to the god within the bush, of and probably named Bush. Remind players laughing at the idea of experiencing the numinous in a bush that they seemed cool with the idea of their RPG gods being the cast of Super Friends, maybe a bush isn't quite so stupid.

The immanent god is named for what it is, or what is named is for the god. Since neither is distinct it becomes a moot point. This raises questions for language: if god=thing then your names for things become strong choices. Is CORN the seed, the plant and the food? Is the transformation significant? If humans can transform gods what does that mean? Are these gifts or are these powers? The religious hierarchy would have feelings about this.

This should not necessarily be taken to be too dogmatic. Religious thought is a product of the people who have it and can be flexible. Importantly, trying to show the full complexity of the numinous in a game is a road to trite simplification. Instead show facets, tenets, never the whole. Religions are complicated and any attempt to explain them fully will reveal a lack of convincing texture.

The god of thunder could logically become also the lion via the roar. The lion might leave behind the thunder over the centuries, or maintain it in an emblematic or prodigal state.

A god of a thing may come to resemble its worshippers over time while retaining an emblematic relationship with their portfolio.

A god of a great thing may be separated into sub-things. The tree god might have its roots split of into serpents and its fruit co-habit and methodologically entwine with harvest gods.

Add literary greebles


Immanent gods do not have interests outside of their links. A god of the reeds cares about the reeds, about houses, about music maybe. A god of a specific city cares about that city. Gods are huge and unimaginative cogs. They are not people.

Even as immanent gods become more human over time they will still be represented by their original emblems. The relationship becomes les literal and more familiar to us in our metaphorical Judeo/Christian world

1 comment:

  1. Nice, similar to the take on supers in the Gestalt: The Hero Within setting.

    Especially Pure Gestalts who are essentially Ideas Made Real. So they really don't care much about stuff outside their portfolio.