Thursday, June 23, 2011

Enigmundia: Symbols of a Christian-ish Religion

In D&D, before there were "holy symbols" there were only crosses. Or so I've heard -- I really need to find me copies of that.

In any case, this idea, plus the success of the Fading Suns RPG in portraying a factionalized religion with a single god (though dominated by a prophet and saints), has me pushing for a similar idea for my Empire of Thyatis and the equivalent of my Karameikos.

So while I've been doing research, I ran into the idea of crosses. What will the cross of this pseudo-Christian religion look like?

Consecration Cross

One type of consecration
cross known as St. John's
Cross, the Maltese Cross,
or the Cross Pattee.
I started off looking at the two variants of the consecration cross (crosses used to consecrate churches and cathedrals, but then I realized that the symbology here could help differentiate various orders in much the same way that Fading Suns created symbols not only for every faction of their Orthodox Church of the Pancreator, but also for every other faction in the universe.

In any case, I wanted the look of the consecration crosses (also known as rounded crosses) a visual step away from the well-known cross and crucifix.

The Sun Cross, aka
The Cardinal Cross,
Woden's Cross,
Odin's Cross

There's the St. John's Cross, as well as the Sun Cross, which is also confusingly used to symbolize Earth and has been used to symbolize other things in pagan religions. But it is exceedingly easy to etch on metal or draw in the ground.

There may be something there in using these two as the foundation for a split between the more mystically oriented of sects, vs. the more hierarchical and dogmatic factions. Alternately, it could be a nice visual split between this religion and the magical circles used by the magic users of the world.

Passion Cross

A four-point Passion
Cross, meant to
symbolize nails
But as I began being drawn into the many variants of the cross symbol, like the glory cross and the passion cross, I realized that I had to be careful of two things: avoiding some of the more well-known uses of the cross (like Germany's usage in WWI), and misusing the elements of symbology.

The passion crosses, for example, tend to reflect a more religion-specific element: the nails used to fasten Christ to the Cross. While it looks nice and has an interesting texture to things, it's very specific to doctrine.

So, ultimately, I'll go with the first two crosses I encountered as starting-off points for building the monotheistic religion of the Roman / Byzantine-inspired Empire of Thyatis.

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