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Errors of the Pagans

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There are many spirits in the world, and they have various origins. Some are embodiments of natural forces (such as Dryads, Elementals and Disease Spirits), some are the relicts of the dead (such as Ghosts, Wraiths and False Gods), and some are created by the hopes and fears of communities (such as Passion Spirits, the pagan "gods", and Demons).

Some spirits display the attributes of intelligence, cunning, and even personal identity. Others are insensate brutes. None are remotely to be compared with the twin pinnacles of Creation: the one being the Invisible God, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent; the other being Man, His pre-eminent Creation.

While many spirits serve the Invisible God and His wizards, some are evil and refuse to obey His will. We call these "demons". Still others merely play their ordained part in the Creation, doing neither harm nor good to men, like unto the beasts of the forest and the wilderness.

The pagans worship some of these spirits and call them "gods". We know that there is only one God, who is the Invisible God, and Malkion and Hrestol were His Prophets. We do not worship spirits. Our wizards can coerce spirits, binding and banishing them in accordance with the rites of Holy Church, but there is great danger in such activities (as the downfall of the God Learners demonstrates). Summoning spirits is best avoided, although there are some evil sorcerers, demonologists and necromancers, who engage in such activities emperilling to their mortal souls.

Worship should only be given to the Invisible God. To do otherwise contravenes the commandments of the Great Prophet Malkion, whatever the heretics may claim. No good Malkioni of our church would debase himself by offering worship to a pagan deity, false god, demon, or other spirit.

"Orlanth" is the name of a powerful spirit of the winds, who receives worship from pagan barbarians, and grants them magical power in return.

Some wizards teach that Orlanth is a "False God", the ghost of Worlath the Sorcerer, who destroyed himself in his attempts to control all winds, everywhere. The truth of such matters is known to the Wise.

Some foreign sects claim that Orlanth is a good spirit, serving the Invisible God. In our church, we know this to be untrue, and their claim proves them heretical beyond all doubt, guilty of the heinous sin of trafficking with demons, which led to the downfall of the Middle Sea Empire.

Our wizards can command all Creation. They can master the magical powers available from Orlanth, be he spirit, false god, pagan deity or demon, without breaking Malkion's commandments and giving worship to any being other than the Invisible God. Though pious scholarship may seem a harder path to mastery than the seductively simple blandishments of demons and promiscuous appeal of spirits of nature, yet it is the only one which offers no temptations that might cost a man Solace and his immortal soul.

Our wizards do not deny that Orlanth provides magical powers to his worshippers. Whether these are his natural properties (if he were a natural spirit, like an elemental), or the remnants of his former sorcerous powers (if he were a False God, the ghost of a sorceror of ancient days), or the embodiment of the desires and fears of his worshippers (if he were a personification of communal emotion, like a Passion Spirit though on a far greater scale), these things are not known for certain by the wizards of today -- though there is no lack of debate and argument among the Wise. If the fabled God Learners of old could ever agree on such matters, their proofs and knowledge were lost in their downfall.

The pagans tell elaborate stories about the deeds of Orlanth. These may be stories of their ancestral heroes of bygone days, attributed now to their anthropomorphic god. They may be the only way in which pagans, lacking our true understanding of these matters, can approach the Runic Archetypes. They may contain a seed-kernel of truth. Be that as it may, we know that the world was created by the Creator, redeemed by the Prophet Malkion, and is ruled by our Invisible God. Exaggerating the achievements of pagan spirits to such a degree that these great deeds are overlooked is unworthy of any civilised, educated man.

The pagans claim to perform "hero quests" in their temples, in which the inner secrets of their cults are revealed through ritual re-enactments. These employ unusual costumes, and much flummery with props and special effects, fasts and strange diets, incense and smokes, chanting and ordeals, to bring about the desired state of mind. The part of the "god" is played by a pagan priest or chieftain; other temple acolytes (or victims) play the parts of his associates and enemies; the charade is played through to its pre-ordained outcome, and the pagans claim vindication of the "truth" of their cult secrets from these antics. We know better. This is a facade, a sham, nothing like the True Worship of the Invisible God, performed by His wizards in His churches. In the purity and simplicity of our rites the Truth is seen. (Shun, oh shun the "mystery plays" of foreign sects -- they are the lip of a slippery slope that leads to certain perdition!)

The pagans claim exaggerated powers for their deities -- that Orlanth is the "King of the Gods", and has a magical council (suspiciously similar to the councils of those pagan kings who make such claims), and watches over his misguided worshippers, interceding for them and advising them, in much the same way that our Invisible God watches over all true Malkioni. Our wizards have ascertained that such powers, while sometimes manifest, are unreliable and untrustworthy, and that unwavering faith in the Invisible God is the only true road to Solace in Glory.

The claims of the pagans are many and varied, their myths incoherent and contradictory, their ceremonies of worship a shambolic mummery. We have One Truth, that was revealed by the Invisible God our Creator through His prophets Malkion and Hrestol, is contained in Holy Writ, and is amply demonstrated through the lives and actions of the Saints, and in the certainties of Divine Worship. (And curses be upon those heretical foreign deviants who blaspheme and profane our revealed truths with their lying forgeries and fraudulent claims! Worse than pagans are the heretics -- for the former err through simple ignorance, the latter through the deliberate misapplication of knowledge.)

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