Sunday, May 11, 2014

In The Beginning... Decisions on Creation

Last week I promised a write-up on the magical system I’ve created for the world of my novel, A Spell of 13 Years.  Unfortunately that is not quite going to happen.  While writing last week’s blog, and going over what I have for the background and magical system, I discovered I had a few holes to fill.  
What I am going to do, however, is write out what I have.  I suppose you can say that I’m going to have you guys, whomever is reading this blog, look over my shoulder while I create my universe.  Any helpful suggestions are welcome.
In The Beginning...
There was everything.  And Nothing.  All was One and One was All.  It was as it always was.  
But not as it always would be.
Then, the True God drew breath and spoke a Word.  And with the Word All Things Became.  The True God Expanded into the Nothingness that surrounded the Completeness that was the True God.  All was still One, but now One was Everywhere and Anywhere.  
The True God looked upon Itself and came to Know Itself.  And its Knowledge of Itself created a New Being.  
This is my take on the Genesis of the universe where Spell of 13 Years is presented.  
I have three sources of inspiration for the religious basis of the universe.  The first is Jewish Kaballahism.  My primary source book is the Sefer Yetzirah or The Book of Creation.  It is the oldest, and some say the most mysterious of kaballalistic texts.  References to it in other works appear as far back as the 1st Century in the Common Era.  Tradition says that it was written by Abraham, the Patriarch of the Jewish People.  
Though this is certainly an oversimplification, the book is a magical text.  There are stories of rabbis in the ancient days using the Sefer Yetzirah to create calfs on the sabbath for feasts.  
What resonated with me was the emphasis on “the word.”  The Hebrew alphabet, as I’m sure many people know, is also their counting system.  From the Sefer Yetzirah I learned that Jewish mystics believe that the Hebrew used in writing what Christians refer to as the Old Testament has been altered.  For if the “words” were written as they were spoken by God and His Angels, then anyone reciting from these holy texts would create light and life just as God did.  
This was something I wanted to have in the religious and magical background in my universe.  
As a side-note, another concept that the Sefer Yetzirah gave me concerned causality.  It is safe to say that most belief systems hold that the present is born from the past, and that what happened before and what happens now leads to what happens in the future.  The Jewish mystics that wrote the Sefer Yetzirah, however, believed in the opposite.  It was there belief that the future reached back in time to create the past it needed for it to become.  In meditation, they would attempt to hear their future selves tell them what they needed to do in order for them to reach the state of being they were striving for.  
I found this way of thinking very exciting.  It was the spark for the series of science fiction stories I’m writing in a future universe I call the Tauian Adventure, about an alien race called the Tau that visits Earth in the first half of the twenty-first Century, staying in orbit for 40 years, then departs, taking one hundred and forty-four thousand humans with them.  Those left behind expand into the galaxy to find the Tau and discover what happened to “The Chosen,” the people the Tau took with them.  
The second source of inspiration for my universe’s creation myth comes from Gnosticism.  The Gnostics are a Christian sect, largely found in the Middle East and Africa.  They bear some connection with the Coptic Christians in the region in that their texts followed the same route in terms of translation and language.  The book we call The Bible was a collection of religious texts that were primarily written in Aramaic, then later translated into Greek and then Latin.  Coptic texts, as well as those of the Gnostics, were translated from Hebrew into Coptic, Egyptian using Greek phonetic letters.  There are numerous religious texts, both from the Jewish and Christian traditions, that were excluded from the Bible either because they were consider apocryphal, meaning their reported author could not be verified, such as The Book of Adam, or which were deemed heretical, such as The Book of Judas, which has Jesus escaping death on the cross and laughing at the blindness of those who can’t see the truth before their very eyes.
Ironic Note: In the Synoptic Gospels, the four books that make up the heart of the modern New Testament, Jesus never laughs.  In fact, he admonishes those that due for it might turn into weeping and mourning (Luke 6:25).  There are, however, several instances of Jesus laughing in the Gnostic texts beside the one referenced above.  
What made the Gnostics a heretical sect was not just having Jesus laughing now and then.  It was their belief that the universe was created by an entity other than God.  This “Creator God,” or Demiurge, a term the gnostics borrowed from Plato, shaped the universe from the stuff of God.  The Demiurge was presented in different ways depending on the sect at first, sometimes as a servant of the True God, doing his will to shape creation, and in others as a more natural force, an entity that was created to create. Eventually, though, the demiurge came to be regarding as the source of Evil in the universe.  It is depicted as a “jealous god” that carves a hole in creation in which it takes the breath of life, stolen from the True God, to create beings to give it praise and prayers.  
The existence of the demiurge in their theology gives Gnosticism a certain logical framework.  A question I remembering hearing in catechism as a young boy was, “If God is good, why is there evil in his creation?”  The answer given was that evil came out of the actions of people due to God giving them free will.  This would lead to subsequent questions, such as, “Why didn’t God just make people good?” which would be followed by other questions after that.  
In the Gnostic theology, the answer was simple.  There was evil in the world because the world was created by an evil being.  Period.  The Gnostic version of the garden of Eden is different as well.  Adam and Eve are kept there by the jealous Creator God, are told to have no other Gods besides him, and are UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES are they to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  The True God sends the serpent into to garden to tell them to eat from the tree, for Knowledge will open their eyes (“Gnostic” has the same greek word meaning “knowledge” as its root as words like “Diagnosis” or “Prognosis”).  When Adam and Even do so, they see the Creator God for what he is and are cast out into his imperfect, evil world to fend for themselves.  
It is this similar yet different feel in these texts and the stories they contain that appealed to me, and so I put a Creator God in my universe.  
The third inspiration comes from the scientific theory on how the universe was formed; The Big Bang theory.  When writing fantasy stories in the past, I would always look to science to create the magic I needed.  If someone were going to fly, for instance, what would that take?  How much energy would need to be expended?  What aerodynamic principles would be in play?  Because it was magic, I would allow myself some play in the mechanics, but the amount of energy that needed to be generated and transferred was pretty well established.  
The passage above, mimicking the opening lines of the Biblical Genesis, is my universe coming into being from a single, all encompassing, dense state.  At the moment when “Something” comes out of “Nothing,” it is due to “The Word” being spoken by the True God.  In science, the cause of this moment of expansion is not fully understood as it exists before time began.  
I still have things to work out.  Is the demiurge the source of evil, or is that just what the priests tell the people?  Questions of faith where I have to figure out the truth.
Next week: Magical Words and how they are formed. 


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