Religion of Destiny

I’m getting back into the swing of writing on Destiny, which is fun and something like visiting an old friend (albeit a friend whose details I can change if I like). Older drafts have begun with Sehra waiting outside a house on the cliffs, something I’ve needed to change because what mother leaves her eight-year-old daughter to play with the edge of high cliffs nearby? This new draft begins with the death of Sehra’s father, the event that drives her mother to seek the aid of the witch atop the cliffs. This time, Sehra will be invited into the house instead of left to play with seashells.

One thing moving back has afforded me is a chance to introduce the dominant religion of the region in which Destiny mostly takes place. Two fisherman burst into a church, holding a third between them; the third fisherman is unconscious and in grave peril. His comrades bring him to the church to seek the aid of nuns, who are skilled in the healing arts. Also, a church is an apt location to pray for the health of a wounded friend.

I enjoy making up religions, taking elements from this one and that one to create an interesting set of deities and clergymen. There is the Church of the Sun, whose followers worship Destiny and Her Daughters and call themselves Followers of the Path. They believe that those who study and use “magic” are servants of Fate, the Unraveler. Magic-users, on the other hand, believe the universe was created by the Shaper, who bound the Oathbreaker and created six other deities to govern various aspects of reality. However, magic-users do not usually worship the deities of their paradigm.

“Honeycakes!” Sehra gushed, reaching out for one. Her mother pulled them away.

“What do we say before we eat?”

The girl grunted in frustration, then put both hands together and closed her eyes. “Our thanks to you, Destiny, for this bounty. Bless this food and all those who share it. Bless it by sea, sky and stone, as you have blessed me. By the Three, so let it be.”

“So let it be,” Donja repeated, smiling. Sehra grabbed a cake from the top of the pile and bit into its sticky sweetness with relish.

So here we have a bit of prayer, like saying grace before meals, that would be lacking from a magic-user’s routine. The Church of the Sun has ceremony and tradition, while the other has the practice of magic.

Responsibility of the Endless

I made some progress with the Sandman, completing the ninth volume, the Kindly Ones.

sandman kindly ones

I wanted more, somehow. I suppose, then, it’s good that there’s another volume for me to read.

I enjoyed how many loose threads finally get tied off in this volume, things left dangling since nearly the beginning, it seems. I’m actually rereading the whole thing since it’s been so long and I’ve read it in leaps and shudders. I also like to go back and look for clues I missed, foreshadowing, etc.

“Responsibility” seems to be the word for this installment. Not so much in the sense of one fulfilling duties expected of them, but in one owning up to one’s actions and facing the consequences. Even anthropomorphic representations of concepts make mistakes, and it’s important to set things right again. That sense of responsibility.

“We make choices. No one else can live our lives for us. And we must confront and accept the consequences of our actions.”

– Neil Gaiman, the Kindly Ones, volume 9 of the Sandman

Looking back, I believe I see I transformation of Dream from callous and disinterested to truly appreciative for the many whims and quirks of humanity and, at last, a sense of responsibility for his actions. It seems he had this all along, though. In an early conversation between Dream and Desire, Dream says to his sisterbrother:

“We of the endless are the servants of the living–we are NOT their masters. WE exist because they know, deep in their hearts, that we exist. . . . We do not manipulate them. If anything, they manipulate us.”

This is a bit at odds with the way Dream acts at times, but it does reveal that he accepts that he has responsibility to the living. He is not above reproach. He can be an arrogant, brooding bastard at times, but he does seem to have his head on straight for the most part.

Now I am eager to read the final volume, which as I understand it is a sort of epilogue.