From: Jerome Blondel <>
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2001 14:56:20 +0000


Alex Ferguson on idol-worshippers:

me>> Well, i guess i've learned a new thing about spirit worship.
>>Now, it's been said the folk of the Genjera Tales used to be
>>animists but their conquerors forced them to sacrifice to gods.
>>In their great rituals, they undoubtedly go to the Godplane.

>They could even still _be_ animists, and simply sacrificing to
>the "foreign gods" by (gasp) misapplied worship.

I'm sorry, I juxtaposed two statements in a confusing way. The rituals are not sacrifice to the old gods of the conquerors. All IMO, but in Sacred Time, they re-enact their mythic past: the Artmali take them to Dakaputlo Elamle, or they sail with Miirdek, etc. OTOH perhaps the Earth Lizard, the Sun Bird, the Sea Serpent and the Wind Fish (just invented) are worshipped in their respective seasons during special festivals which would look like spirit ceremonies, and maybe are so. (In such occasions the Sun spirits (or) daimons etc come on earth and the folk commune with them). Debaday is kept asleep in dark season with bloody sacrifices to protective idols. Other ceremonies I referred to are the Fishing Rites, etc, during which the people celebrate their learning of such and such activity.

>Key question is, did their _practices_ change (and if so how
>much), or simply their notional object?

I think at the Dawn their practices had changed. The Artmali made them into an urban culture. IMO idolatry was started by the Artmali, whose sacrifices to giant golden statues made a strong impression on the natives. I fancy the Artmali's celestial gods spoke through the mouths of the statues, some of which were topped with big blue balls, very Egyptian-like. The Sharzu folk didn't like to sacrifice to the Artmali's gods, who were very scary and inhuman, and began to make small statues they kept in their houses, to which they made their own sacrifices. When they migrated, they took their puny idols with them, whereas the Artmali's Babylon sank and their big statues fell. The practices were theist worship.

OTOH, the entities they contacted, well, who could that be if not their own spirit friends of old? To explain that, I fancy at some point a whole part of the spirit world toppled into the god world, causing the local spirits to 'fall asleep' (in other words, they no longer answered the people's calls). That would be due to the Artmali changing the land with their own magic and cities. Maybe a local folk hero got the idea to contact the sleeping spirits with the new practices they'd learned. (Bob the Idol-Maker, who learned us how to worship the spirits when the Blue-skins ruled). There are evil spirits, now ruled by Debaday, who are kept asleep as much as possible.

Thus, the core practice is the sacrifice, which feeds the daimon so that it doesn't sleep. But the daimons are still somehow dealt with as if they were spirits. In order to attract the entity into the idol, the worshippers must summon it from the Otherworld.

In some cases, extatic cult would be performed as part of the ritual (just as sacrifices are part of some extatic cult rituals), in the form of 'comedy'. The priest would mark a sacred ground (the 'temple'). Some people disguise as the Bad Guys and run about the place howling, and some people disguise as the Good Guys and make as if they're afraid and scream, and all of this is making a lot of noise. Then the priest summons the helper and guts a dog provided by the community, and the idol is activated and gives a sign (speaks, moves, etc). The Bad Guys run away in panick, the Good Guys prosternate and ask the idol what it requires in return for its help.

In other cases, there wouldn't be any sign of extatic cult at all, the folk would carry the idol around the streets with solemn faces and come to the seaside, where the priest is, and a guy provided by the community is tied up to the altar. The idol speaks, ritually bargains with the priest (they all know what's going to happen), and says good luck to the poor guy. Finally, the priest guts the victim, his blood is poured on the idol and his dismembered body is thrown away for the fish. The idol stays here and everyone has dinner, and the next day they take the idol on their boat for that emergency dark season trip to get some rare cure for the chieftain's daughter.

it all depends on the clan/region etc. And some clans are animists but they've different origin myths.

I like the way you describe the relationship with the guardian being, so it's noted.


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