Monday, December 10, 2012

Series: I am a...priest

"May the grace of the Valar protect you."

For those of you who have heard a higher calling (no, not Ghostcrawler's) and chosen to play a priest, you are truly in an order of distinction. It is difficult to untangle a singular path of priesthood, and since history acknowledges several shifts of priests' and priestesses' roles. Ancient Egyptian priests were not conduits for people to gods, but solely the caretakers of the gods according to the linked source. In other words, buddy, you're eternal soul will just have to find its own way, these priests were busy tending to Ra and Pals. Other ancient priests were the scholars as well as caretakers, mastering medicine, language, and high places in society. In the Christian faith, the hierarchical order of priests manifested itself in many orders and offices* (page152), and created gender roles designated for separate service, varying levels of community versus contemplative work, and austerity. This is not the place to discuss sexism in orders of faith, however--again, like a priestess of Ra, I'll tell you you're on your own for that one. Suffice it to say priests are organized: the layers of heaven to hell are more maze-like than linear, and it seems to require mirrored human hierarchies to navigate these paths.

One thing I do know: Tolkien. His influence of modern concepts of fantasy, faith, and hero's arc is felt throughout our world. The religious connections between Lord of the Rings is no mistake either. Tolkien was pals with Lewis, and the two of them spent many an hour smoking longbottom weed and jawing over philosophical thoughts.  (Apparently I am not the only one who sees this.)  One distinct memory I have of my paternal grandmother was she loved to read Lewis, though I was never clear on her own faith or beliefs. Perhaps like an Azerothian priest, she too had a side that drew down the shadows. To understand light, one must control the darkness.

But the spirits of priests seem to walk alone, holding a beacon of light and showing the way, or working in the shadows with conflicted minions, unlike a warlock whose relationship with minions and succubi is transparent and sought-after. Shadow priests work like the lights at the Darkmoon Faire: the lights are on, but how come they still feel like little illuminated shadows? (There may be a poem or story in there somewhere, but that is how they feel to me: never truly healing the night, but adding more secrets...)

However, when I think of priests, the very essence of holy light, I think of the scene in Lord of the Rings where Awren tells Frodo to accept her 'grace.' This gift of light and healing, this grace, a blessing, is the pinnacle of light, love, and hope. Words like "penance"coexist with "benediction," and if all else fails, continue healing in angel form--power of light indeed.

Highly recommended reading: 

*Bowker, John. World Religions. DK Publishing, 1997


  1. I like that scene in Lord of the Rings. I remember in an interview with Liv, she said her dad (Steve Tyler) whispered to her during the movie "who's voice is that?" (when she spoke in her softly spoken elvish voice for that scene) and she said "that's me you ass, I'm an actress" :P

  2. That's priceless! Sometimes the stories behind the stories are just as interesting!

  3. This is amazing. I have very firm beliefs regarding religion but I won't voice them publicly because I don't wish to upset anyone. But I do enjoy religion in works of fantasy. My favourite writer is David Eddings, and -every single book- he wrote had very, very strong religion, and the gods in question were not only real, but very often played a hand in events themselves. I never really read too much into religion with the Lord of the Rings, but I was 12 when I read it, and I don't really look for religion in fantasy. But, where there is an advanced mind, there is wondering, and there is belief. Since reading a lot of Eddings, I've started adding a lot of religion into my own works, but I always make sure that my gods truly exist. Belief isn't enough for me, I need proof of some kind.

    This was an astoundingly well-written post. Very well done. I may look at the Lord of the Rings in a different light now. I just started to reread it.

    Also, kudos to Liv Tyler :P her dad is a bit of a fool in my opinion, but he's a damn good singer nevertheless.
    I love some of the things that happen behind the scenes to things like this, but I also cannot stand watching the making of for anything fantasy. I prefer to believe it's real for as long as I can. But some things are great. Like Viggo Mortensen breaking his foot by kicking a helmet and continuing to act anyway, or when Lurtz threw his knife at Viggo and he hit it away with his sword. Either he wasn't supposed to throw it, or his aim was a little better than people expected! These kinds of facts are awesome.

    1. Our personal beliefs are not for public scrutiny in any case -- they are personal. I enjoy examing the framework of choices in real and fantasy lives - I appreciate your feedback/comment very much - thank you!


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