Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for... Waresh, Wind, and Wave

Yesterday afternoon and on and off today, I've been trying to come up with a good 'W' post for the Blogging A to Z April Challenge. It's now 1800 Pacific Time, and I'm dangerously close to blowing it!

I don't want to cheat, as I already did that with the entry for L (although I have a cheat ready go that revolves around the upcoming 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman's comic book debut), and my post about Why I Wanted to Be a Writer and Why I Still Write even if my career has floundered in the past few years was boring, boring BORING. It was so boring it was putting even me to sleep... and if a post about my favorite topic--ME!--was boring to me, what would it be like for you guys?

So, I'm going to fall back on another "cheat" of sorts. One of the projects I have going requires me to create a religion for a humanoid alien species that started as a nomadic culture on their homeworld and who continued their nomadic ways as they moved into space.

Let's call them the Wahresh for the purposes of this post.

Basically... this post is my initial notes on the Wahresh religion. This is raw, first draft text--even more-so than the usual posts around here. (And, hey, if you like what you see--even in this stream-of-conscieness, writing-and-posting-whatever-comes-to-mind post--I'm available for hire. Just email me. :) )

In all seriousness... I hope this look into the first stages of my creative process isn't too big a waste of your time.

Notes on the Wahrish and Their Religious Beliefs
Why do they wander? Well, in the earliest days of their civilization, it was necessary, because they are from a planet where the biggest landmass is the size of Greenland and the rest of the world is peppered with islands and island chains of varying sizes. Partly motivated by curiosity, partly motivated by necessity born from a need for living space, food, or just to get away from hostile neighbors, the built boats and started moving from island to island. They swiftly moved from oars to sails, navigation techniques advanced rapidly... and when their entire globe had been settled and technology allowed for flight, they started looking upwards to the moons orbiting their world and beyond.

The oldest and still most popular religion among the Wahresh is an an animistic faith that is primarily concerned with the Spirits of Waves and Winds. It holds that the Spirits can help or hinder any endeavor and that the smart Wahrish will takes steps to be on the good side of the Sprits at all times. It is a faith with rites that have remained simple and straight-forward over the years, and, while it does have an organized priesthood, individual Wahresh tend to perform all but the most important ceremonies and prayers themselves, in privacy of their own home or on some windswept cliff overlooking the sea.

The need to cater to the Spirits of Winds and Waves date back to the earliest Wahrish civilizations when fragile sailing ships would be pounded to flotsam if the weather turned bad.

The faith has stayed with the Wahresh as they moved into space, because everywhere they went, there was wind and waves... even in the darkness of space there were solar winds, winds that helped propel their early stars-ships throughout their solar system.

Wahresh Priestess & Water Spirits
(illo "borrowed" from here)
No actual connection to anything in this post....
The religion's priesthood consists of wanderers who are constantly moving from town to town, city to city, planet to planet... and, they most ambitious of them hope, galaxy to galaxy. They are hired by communities or groups of travelers to make sure the Spirits will be helpful.

The trappings of the faith are simple--a couple of candles and holders and an altar cloth embroidered with symbols representing the Spirits. These items are usually owned by the communities that hire priests, although some priests carry altar cloths with them just in case. More often than than not, the lining of their traditional long overcoats are in fact altar cloths.

Priests also travel with several bottles of whatever is a highly prized drink from areas they have previously visited. Before embarking on a trip, they throw droplets of this drink into the air, pour some on the ground, and pour some in a nearby stream or sea, while asking the Winds and the Waves for their favor in exchange for the offering. When he arrives at his destination, he once again dispenses the drink, thanking the Spirits that guided him safely while introducing himself to the "local" ones. He then seeks out the native population, hoping to learn as much about them as he can and to secure some local exotic drinks for the next leg of his never-ending trip.

The Wahresh priesthood are at the forefront of their people's drive to explore as far and as wide as they can, arriving on new worlds with the first explorers and always being part of first trade and diplomatic missions established with alien civilizations they encounter.

The Wahresh priests view it as their holy duty to travel as much as possible so they can share what they have seen and learned with Spirits everywhere; they view Spirits as finite beings who are restricted to certain places but who yearn for fresh information and experiences. The most popular "creation myth" among the Wahresh embody this belief... and it is one that the priests love to tell, even if they know it is scientifically unsound. (The religious Wahresh see no conflict between their religion of Animism and science... they think there are some things that science can't quantify, and they readily accept the ancient tales allegories illustrating their religion. No Wahresh believes that any of what few religious texts that are widely read are anything but the product of very wise and very creative holy men and women. They do NOT believe the Spirits provide revelation or insights and that the various rites performed to gain their attention and favor have been arrived at through a process of trail and error dating back tens of thousands of years.)

The Creation of the Wahresh (excerpted from "Wind and Waves: A Diplomat's Primer to Wahresh Habits and Customs," published by in RIY 2,031)
One day, the Final Wind and the Final Wave met each other where the Great Sea breaks upon the blue sands of Mayveh Island.

"I envy you," said Final Wave. "I long to see the things and creatures that exist atop those white cliffs, but I cannot reach that far."

"I will help," said Final Wind. He turned and twisted and pushed Final Wave across the sand until She crashed against the cliffs. No matter how hard he tried, Final Wave could not reach the forests and beasts and wonders that existed inland.

Final Wind tried to tell Her what He saw as He raced around the island, but it was not enough. She could not experience what he could. Try as She would, She could not fully comprehend what He had seen and experienced.

"I envy you as well," said Final Wind ultimately. "I wish I could see the things and creatures that exist at the bottom of the Sea, but I cannot reach that far."

"I will help," said Final Wave. She turned and twisted and created a funnel deep down into the Sea, but no matter how hard she tried, Final Wind was unable to see the bottom. It was too far, and He could not reach the rich oyster beds, see the beautiful fish, or caress the Haln Stones that existed under the waves.

Final Wave tried to tell Him what She Saw as she moved across the waters, but it was not enough. He could not experience what she could. Try as He would, He could not fully comprehend what She had seen and experienced.

"You are fools," said Land. "Wind and Wave are not meant to understand each other. Now, be quiet and do your duty. Final Wind, there are trees that must be knocked down in my forests. Final Wave, you must keep my beaches from going dry.

Final Wave and Final Wind ignored Land and His grumblings.

"If only we were not so different from one another," They said in unison. "Perhaps we would be able to share experiences, to tell tales that we can understand and relate to."

"We need someone who is part of each of us," said Final Wind. "Surely, Those Who Came Before have made such a being. Let us search for It and bring It here so that It might tell of the cliff-tops and the bottom of the sea."

Final Wave and Final Wind parted company and searched the World over. When they once again met on the blue sands of Mayveh Island, they found their search had been in vain.

"No creature exists that has part of each of us within It," said Final Wind.

"Then we must make It," said Final Wave.

"I tire of your prattling," said Land. "I will help you as I did Those Who Came Before if you promise to do as they did and be quiet."

"We promise," said Final Wave and Final Wind.

Final Wind and Final Wave ran to and fro across the blue sands for a great while. They combined their labors as no Spirits had ever done before, creating patterns and shapes more elaborate than anything Those Who Came Before had ever contemplated.

And Land, eager for the eventual peace and quiet that the completion of their task would bring, assisted them as he had not assisted any of Those Who Came Before.

When Final Wind eventually retreated to the sky and Final Wave returned to the sea, the first Wahresh stood upon the blue sand. Born as they were from both Wind and Wave, they were filled with a desire to see all the World had to offer... and the ability to scale to the tops of the highest cliffs and to dive to the bottom of the deepest water. They were not as free as the Spirits, and they were forever tied to the Land that assisted in their creation, but they were filled with a drive and a wisdom that no other beings in the world had.

"Now, be quiet," said Land. "Your creations will share with you all you will never need to know, and you will never have to bother me again."

And the Wahresh scaled the cliffs and dived in the sea, and Final Wave and Final Wind traveled with them and reveled in their experiences.

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