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Being an Essay on Divinity
Copyright 1999 by Feniks

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Voila Says:

Voila!NOBODY SAID LEARNING THE SECRETS OF THE POWERS WOULD BE EASY...

But that's exactly what my friend the sage Feniks is digging for, cutters. This blood seeks to understand the nature of Divinity itself, from the mysterious "Source" through Powers, Gods and Avatars. Along the way in this terribly ordered essay (for such is the thorough nature of Guvner sages, my friends), Feniks stops to consider some more of the most burning questions in theology: "Do Powers Have a Free Will?", and the favourite of many Athar and Anarchists, "Can Powers be Destroyed?"

Be careful who you share this chant with, cutter...it could land the both of us in trouble hotter then baatezu bathwater...

SOURCES OF POWER

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Introduction
  2. Literature Analysis
    1. Randir's Definition of Terms
    2. Definitions from the Tome of Knowledge
    3. Lira's Theory of the Outer Planes
  3. Expanding Randir's Theory
    1. What are They?
    2. Where do they Get their Power From?
    3. What Power do they Have?
    4. Do they Have a Free Will?
    5. What are their Goals?
    6. Can they be Destroyed?
  4. Overpowers
  5. Conclusions
  6. Bibliography
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1. INTRODUCTION

Some time ago a famous planewalker named Randir o Ia presented a treaty on the nature of the Powers. His work, although a very insightful one, has never received much attention, maybe because it has never been backed up by any high-up or mystic of the Planes. That is why I have decided to bring his work again into peaklight and expand the very worthy theory.

Most of the theses presented in my work are controversial and will probably not meet with much enthusiasm, but the aim of it is to present a different point of view upon a strange beings named Powers.  

2. LITERATURE ANALYSIS

For the sake of all the readers who are not familiar with the works mentioned in my thesis, I decided to quote their most important parts.

2.i. RANDIR'S DEFINITIONS OF TERMS

At first I would like to present the words of Randir himself and supply his definitions, which I will expand later in this work. Randir claims that there are four forms of Power, the Source, Powers, Gods and Avatars.

THE SOURCE

"This is the common root of all the Powers. This is the font if divinity the Godsmen believe to exist. The Source is eternal, without beginning or end."

POWERS

"These are the fundamental forces of the Multiverse, they are the pure forms derived from the common source. Powers are divided into ideas, emotions and materials. They are eternal but not alive."

GODS

"These are the beings usually confused with the Powers. Gods are immortal but not eternal. They are the champions of the Powers."

AVATARS

"Temporary constructs made by both gods and mortals to champion a Power. They are very mortal, ceasing to exist after carrying out their appointed task."

2.ii. DEFINITIONS FROM THE ANCIENT TOME OF KNOWLEDGE 

I would like to quote the theory presented in "The Ancient Tome of Knowledge", known also as "On Hallowed Ground" written by an unknown author. He (or she) writes about gods in this way:

"(...) Gods are more than just big mortals with lots of impressive tricks and mighty abilities. They are concepts and symbols too. They embody every aspect of their portfolios, the living representations of their spheres of control - and of mortal's hopes and fears. The essence of Powers extends to a whole other kind of existence."

Although the author confuses the terms "power" and "god", from the text we can guess, that he/she clearly meant the latter. Since almost all our knowledge about Powers comes from this source, and we sometimes so blindly follow it to the last letter, I sh all present another quotation, which shall be also motto for my thesis:

"It's crucial to remember that - the powers are incomprehensible, their motives and abilities unguessable. If they've chosen to let the material in this chapter [about Powers] be revealed to mortals, who can say how much more they're hiding? And perhaps the gods allow or even encourage the spread of wrongheaded chant. After all, it's a bet they guard their secrets jealously, and are more likely eager to steer folks away from the true dark of things."

With this in mind I shall attempt to find "the true dark of things."

2.iii. LIRA'S THEORY OF THE OUTER PLANES

The Theory of the Outer Planes, formulated by Lira, a Cipher, is probably unknown to most of the readers. It was dismissed by scholars as unproven and unreliable, but I decided to bring it forth, for it will be useful in the further part of my work.

To evoke the whole theory would be senseless, because it's full of inconsistencies and simplifications. The only point that is important is the sentence: "The Powers are so bound to their realms that they are surely the realms themselves."

3. EXPANDING RANDIR'S THEORY

Randir's definitions call for explaining and expanding. I will do it by answering following questions: what are they? where do they get their power from? what power do they have? do they have a free will? what are their goals?

From now on I will use Randir's definitions of terms Source, Power, God and Avatar unless noted otherwise.

3.i. WHAT ARE THEY?

Here I will present my thesis on the nature of the powers and try to answer the question whether they are sentient or not.

THE SOURCE

The Source is mentioned in many myths and legends and takes many forms. Sometimes it is a superior being (even to the gods themselves), sometimes it is a state (like chaos), and finally, sometimes it is a place (like fountain of Godhood for example). Its exact nature however, remains unknown. The reason of this is that the Source is so incomprehensible that we are unable to comprehend it in any way, so we have to use symbols.

The Source may be Athar's Great Unknown, to which they pray. And since Athar priests do not lose power while travelling on the Planes, it would be reasonable to claim that the Source exists in the whole Multiverse - and possibly that it IS the whole Multi verse.

It is believed by many that the Source is sentient and that it supervises our Multiverse. There is no agreement on its alignment. There are many great theories (and most of them by Athar's famous theologises) but it would be pointless to quote them here.

Personally I agree with words of the great philosopher Arias: "It [the Great Unknown] is beyond our comprehension. Its actions and motives it is useless to question, for we with our pathetic little minds do not see the Grand Scheme of things. The Great U Unknown is beyond any judgement."

POWERS

Randir's definition of Power is generally right, but I cannot agree with one thing. The tree kinds that Powers are divided into are: ideas, emotions and states of being, not materials. Why do I dismiss the last one? Randir probably thought here about elemental powers, but those I would put into ideas category. It is so, because when one worships an elemental power, she does not worship the element itself, but rather the concepts and ideas that stand behind them. She worships beings with features that this element possess. The pure element is the Inner Plane - it is the STUFF of the Multiverse. It does need neither our belief nor faith.

It is unsure whether the Powers are sentient. While the idea of a sentient emotion seems strange to me, judging by the other forms of power it would be fair to assume, that they are sentient, but their sentience is beyond mere mortal's comprehension. One thing is sure, though - the communication with Powers is almost impossible and only a few priests claim that they actually hear its "voice."

Randir believes, that the Powers are "formless things" or "spirits" that "exist anywhere emotion is felt", and I wholeheartedly agree with it. Ideas, emotions and states of being cannot have a physical form so they are spirits on the Prime Material Plane. On the Outer Planes, however, where the belief becomes reality, they are the Outer Planes themselves.

GODS

Randir's definition of a god is very imprecise so I will quote his statement from another of his numerous works, which better explains the nature of the gods: "[different gods of love] are all Avatars/ Manifestations of a single Power [of love]. Each one is a separate aspect formed by the beliefs of Primers..." So gods derive from Powers like Powers derive from the Source.

There is no doubt to the fact that gods are sentient. They can communicate, they have their own agendas and sometimes they are very similar to mortals. They certainly have a physical form, not only on the Outer Planes, which leads to a very interesting conclusion that they are not solely products of mortals' belief. Rather they are the belief, which is incorporated in a form.

If one visits the Astral, she can go to the Dead Gods Cemetery, which should give her an impression of how huge and wonderful a LIVING god is. And since on a body of a dead god Githyanki can build a citadel, then a body of a living god should have at lea st a size of its realm. My claim is, that a living god's body is in fact its realm.

AVATARS

I am not sure whether the Avatars are still Powers or just constructs of Gods. The Rule-of-Threes says that there should be only three forms of power, but Avatars seem to share some powers common only among Powers.

I have been researching the topic of Avatars for a few years and I have found no evidence that they cease to exist after they fulfil their mission. In many legends they usually leave to another plane or crystal sphere to perform another task, but also the re are some who actually stayed with believers for a long time after finishing their tasks. So contrary to the popular belief Avatars don't just disappear. There is even more. There is no evidence that an Avatar is a being created by a God! It is possible that they are summoned or called upon and thus that they are separate beings who exist in Multiverse but Gods know the power to bind them.  

Avatars are the most human-like from all the forms of power. They possess physical body and seem to be able to freely travel on the planes. They are even more focused than Gods. They are Gods' arms and eyes when they need a major manifestation outside their realm and the power of a priest is not enough. A God can have more than one Avatar (depending on its power) at a time and it is possible that they may not know about themselves.

They are certainly sentient and also are probably the most communicative from all the Powers. However, this doesn't mean that one can just go and talk to them. If they think that you are an obstacle in their mission, they will try to put you out of their way by any means available.

3.ii. WHERE DO THEY GET THEIR POWER FROM?

This part of my work is probably the most controversial, but it is based on a deep and long research as well as on the sheer logic. I will try to answer the question what powers need to exist and how they gain their strength.

THE SOURCE

My theory, based mainly on speculations, is that the Source gains its power from the whole Multiverse - the Inner, Outer, Astral, Ethereal and Prime Material Planes. By simply existing they give it their power. So the Source - which is the Multiverse - is self-sufficient. It draws its power from within. The question, whether this power grows, remains the same or withers remains unanswered.

POWERS

Since I have assumed that the Source of Power exists and that the Powers derive from it, I shall then make a conclusion. Powers gain their share of the Source's power. It is yet unproven, but the logic confirms this assumption.

Another source of Powers' power are emotions, ideas or states of being. They feed on them and grow in strength when one feels an emotion, follows an idea or experiences a state of being. The only proof of this theory is that beings worshipping an emotion try to live by it and thus gain their power.

Rule-of-Threes makes me think about another source of Powers' power. If we consider the Unity of Rings, we could assume that Powers gain their power also when Gods grow in strength.

Because Powers are formless, they exist nowhere and everywhere at the same time. They may feed on emotions, ideas and states of being of the whole Multiverse.

GODS

Everybody knows that Gods need mortals' belief to sustain themselves. I agree with this, because this theory is well-proven. But the truth is a little bit different than shown by the author of The Ancient Tome of Knowledge.

We all know that Gods are excellent in covering their tracks, guarding their mysteries and spreading false information. We all believe that they need only belief and faith and nothing else. I claim that it is a lie. It is a lie spread by them to make sure that the secret of their real power is not revealed.

Have you ever wondered why it seems impossible to kill a God and yet they can fight among themselves and slay each other? Here is the answer for this: majority of their power comes from their links with Powers. Each God shares a part of his Powers' power. If this connection is severed, a God can no longer draw its power from the whole Multiverse and is limited only to its realm that slowly disappears, as God weakens.

Also, similarly to Powers, the Rule-of-Threes and the Unity of Rings tells us to look for the third source of their power in their Avatars who, surprisingly, can also grow in strength.

AVATARS

While Source depends on its existence, Powers on feeling or experiencing and Gods on faith and belief, Avatars depend on actions. It is them who feed on people's deeds. While Avatars are generally very focused, they do not have much to draw from and can d o it only from the sphere or realm they are currently in. They promote actions, because they know, that it will strengthen them and also their God.

Of course, main power of an Avatar comes from its link with its God. When it is severed, most of his abilities disappear. This has led me to an assumption of the source of Godly power.

Probably there exists a third source of Avatars' power but I have not been able to find it. Since there is no lower form of power, we cannot use the Unity of Rings in this case.

3.iii. WHAT POWER DO THEY HAVE?

After determining the source of their power I shall now try to find out what they can do with it and how they interact with the whole Multiverse.

WHO ANSWERS OUR PRAYERS?

I have asked this question to a hundred random beings in Sigil and apart from three strange answers given to me by members of Xaositects faction all were the same - Gods. This is the common belief, but looking at it from the point of view of Randir's theory , I must correct this.

The ability to grant spells and answer prayers of the faithful is common to all forms of power from the Source to a simple Avatar. They all can do miracles, although their power varies. One can pray to a God of Love (one without any name), but in fact he prays to the Power of Love. The same is about ideas. And Athar's Great Unknown is the most probably the Source itself.

The most doubts concern Avatars. Do they grant spells? Maybe it is their God that really answers one's prayers? To this question I do not have an answer.

THE SOURCE

Power of the Source is absolute . It could probably wish to cease existing and that would be the end of the Multiverse. Because it is the most advanced being, as Godsmen might say, it has little interest in affairs of mortals. On the other hand all of us can say "I am the Source" and that would be perfectly true, because the Source is within us and all around us. It is omnipotent and eternal.

Priests of the Source are rare, but they are generally mysterious people and have great insight into the ways of Multiverse.

POWERS

Since the issue of Powers' sentience is still undecided, it is hard to tell how they interact with the Multiverse. Probably they try to inspire emotions, promote ideas and states of being but the way how they do it is unclear. One can certainly see some powers within the Multiverse, but she cannot be sure whether it is caused by Powers or by the Source.

Priests of Powers generally follow some kind of philosophical belief, emotion or state of being and usually treat godly priests as people who are going a wrong path. They claim to see wider picture of the Multiverse and partially they are right.

GODS

Gods are the most visible and the most active form of power. They possess enough power to conquer minds of many people.

Gods generally do not act by themselves. On a daily basis they rely on their priests and only sometimes, when the power of their worshippers is not enough and the matter is very important, they send their Avatars.

They rarely communicate with their followers, preferring to give them great amount of free will. They intervene only in the most extreme cases (usually obvious blasphemy). They are very reluctant to leave their realms, because then they lose their omnipotence , but they are certainly able to manifest themselves on the Prime. I believe that they do it only when they have no other choice, because when they abandon their body (their realm) they can be destroyed.

Gods are divided into single-sphere pantheons and into Multiversal pantheons. Why it is so remains mystery to me. There are many theories, but it seems that single-sphere pantheons guard crystal spheres, which are in some way important. I do not know whet her such focus gives them any benefits over the Multiversal pantheons, but Gods are nobody's fools and they would not waste their power.

AVATARS

Avatars can freely roam the Multiverse and their power is used almost solely for accomplishing quests given to them by their Gods. There are, however, many religions that are centred on Avatars, but they - paradoxically - serve mainly its Avatars' God. Since Avatars feed on actions and deeds, they try to force people to act in such a way that would strengthen them.

Avatars possess a physical body and can interact with the Multiverse the way all mortals do, except they can usually invoke its Gods powers to perform some tasks.

3.iv. DO THEY HAVE A FREE WILL?

Since all forms of power derive from the Source, answering this question will lead to learn about their goals.

THE SOURCE

The Source is definitely its own master. There is no superior being to the Source, at least there is none that we know about or can perceive in any known way.

POWERS

Powers are unknown and incomprehensible. My general impression is that each emotion can have its good and bad sides and can be used to cause good or evil. Probably Powers possess free will but in no way we can be sure of it.

GODS

To find whether Gods are their own masters is a real challenge. The amount of lies encircling these beings is so vast, that to find any useful information one has to look everywhere and for a very long time. Eventually I have found some piece of information that I hope will be helpful.

Judging by the common belief Gods are restricted to their portfolios and cannot exceed borders of their focuses. The question is whether they really cannot or just pretend to. Another question - no less important than the first one - is how much they are shaped by mortals' belief.

My opinion is that it is our belief that actually restricts them to their portfolios. It is through our belief that they can interact with the Multiverse. If in one sphere Ares is restricted only to the portfolio of war, then he is able to manifest itself there only through war activities. It could also explain why certain Gods have different portfolios in different crystal spheres.

On the other hand Gods are also limited by their Powers. They cannot do anything that is opposite to their Power's will, but that is the only restriction of their free will. As long as they keep to it (and it is impossible for them to do otherwise), they may do as they please.

As already mentioned. Gods scarcely leave their realms and mainly work through hands of their priests, who are conduits of their power. The more attuned to her deity a priest is, the more of its power can flow through him and the stronger effects it can cause. In the extreme cases, where the faith of worshippers is not enough, a God sends his Avatar to accomplish given task.

AVATARS

Avatars seem not to enjoy too much freedom. They are servants and as such their free will is restricted only to fulfilling tasks that his God gives to him. They follow orders and die for their masters if necessary but they will NEVER do anything against them.

On the other hand they are the only ones who seem to be able to travel through the whole Multiverse. Is possessing a body a benefit or a hindrance will remain a subject of many great philosophers and I will not try to answer this question.

3.v. WHAT ARE THEIR GOALS?

This chapter is based mainly on the research of various myths and legends and also on pure logic. Though I have tried to break through the shroud of mystery surrounding Powers, it should be obvious that we can only guess an answer and neither of those given below is a final one.

THE SOURCE

The motives and goals of the Source are incomprehensible and absolutely unknown. Whether it tries to achieve a state of ultimate balance, good or evil will remain without answer.

POWERS

Their goals are as mysterious as they are. Judging by the agendas of Gods and having in mind the Unity of Rings they probably try to make a whole Multiverse feel a given emotion, follow a given idea or experience a given state of being. They may strive among themselves to become the best one, but their fight remains so far invisible.

GODS

Powers leave promoting their emotions/ideas/states of being to Gods. Gods, through their interaction with Multiverse inspire certain beliefs in them and thus make them more likely to feed Powers.

But it is not their main goal. Gods are probably the most selfish form of power ever to exist. They try to gather as many followers as possible, knowing, that it would strengthen them, their masters, and - above all - hinder their enemies. They struggle f or power during every minute of their existence. They have to protect what they have and conquer more. It seems that the main goal of any God is to become a master of the Multiverse.

AVATARS

Their main goal is to carry out given tasks. The second one is to promote their Gods' ways by acting and forcing people to act.

3.vi. CAN THEY BE DESTROYED?

This is the most delicate subject of all covered in my work. I do not hesitate however to reveal the powers' weaknesses that I have learnt about. I know that the contents of this chapter may be dangerous if it falls into wrong hands, but may it also be beneficial to all good mortals that care to read it.

THE SOURCE

There is no way of immediate destruction of the Source. It may however be destroyed if the whole Multiverse is destroyed. It is only a theory, but maybe it is time to reconsider the Doomguard philosophy - do they know something that others do not?

POWERS

There is no evidence that a Power can be destroyed. Certainly it is not possible for a little mortal, but it is quite certain that if the Source was destroyed, Powers would also cease to exist.

It may be that severing Power's link with the Source can kill it, but of course first one would have to figure how and then find means to do it. And I am sure that it is not an easy task.

GODS

Oh, how mortal do Gods seem to be after all the research that I have done! They are like a gust of wind in comparison to Powers and to the Source. So far I have come upon three ways to destroy a God.

First, when their connection to their Power is severed, God loses its power to answer prayers anywhere except their realm. Thus their power rapidly diminishes, which causes their realm to shrink and reduce their power again. The process repeats itself, until a God is completely forgotten and its dead body starts floating in the Astral.

Second, when it leaves its realm (a VERY rare occurrence, but known to happen), it loses its omnipotence and most of its power. However, it is still stronger than any Avatar, but given enough effort it may be killed then. When combined with the first way, it would be possible for a really powerful mortal to destroy a whole pantheon!

The third and the last way to destroy a God is to strip it of all its followers. This task seems to be almost impossible, but that is the most common way that Gods fight among themselves. They try to convert as many as possible, usually killing those who oppose. Ways of depriving a God of its worshippers wary, but the end is always the same - the God cannot interact with Multiverse and is trapped inside its realm that slowly diminishes and in the end a body of the dead God begins his endless journey through the Astral.

Of course, the third way requires a lot of power and even more time to accomplish, so Gods stick to the first two when possible. But since occasions to use these are so rare, on a daily basis they wage their unholy war among themselves and use their followers as puppets in fulfilling their goals.

AVATARS

Since Avatars possess physical body, they are vulnerable to most things that would harm mortals. They can be crushed by magic or killed by the sword, though it is very hard to accomplish, if we consider Godly powers given them by their masters.

Of course, when the link between an Avatar and its God is severed, killing an Avatar stops being an almost impossible task and becomes only a hard one.

4. OVERPOWERS

Mysterious beings known as Overpowers seem not to belong to any of mentioned above forms of power. I have decided to exclude them from the hierarchy, because I believe that they are not powers themselves. They do not need followers, so they are not Gods. They do not answer anybody's prayers, so they cannot belong to the power kind. They seem, however, to be more powerful than Gods themselves, at least in a given crystal sphere.

Various myths describe them as the creators and guardians of worlds. There are no tales of their appearance outside the Prime Material Plane, so I assume that they do not exist anywhere else.

They seem to be able to banish Gods from their realms onto their crystal sphere, which no other being probably can do. Thus they are superior to Gods. They are not Powers, though, because Powers don't create matter. They can be, however, the servants of the Source. They are probably given a single or multiple crystal spheres to supervise and to assure that the Godly struggle does not evolve into an open warfare and the religious war which would destroy their world.

So the Overpowers are not Powers per se. They are guardians and sentinels, supervisors of Gods that watch upon the mortals and make sure that Gods never gain complete control over us.

5. CONCLUSIONS

I would like to sum up what I have said.

I am not claiming that powers are frauds. I state that there are four forms of Power that bind our Multiverse together and that the destruction of any level of hierarchy would probably cause major damage to all the Planes. Each form of power seems to have its weaknesses and its strong points, but the most promising seems the faith in the Source, since it is all-encompassing and one can be sure that it will not limit her free will.

I predict that in time more and more mortals will turn to the Source for the guidance and that there will appear many interpretations of its nature and many religions. This is the main flaw, since when it happens, mortals probably will battle among themselves to prove that their view of the Source is right. And they will forget that the Source is all and that they see only a part of the Great Scheme of Things. And the Multiverse will still be shaken by the unholy holy wars.

For the benefit of those who see and are not afraid to look.

6. BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. Anonymous Sensate's "Borders of Your Mind"
  2. Ariah "The Greater Unknown"
  3. Lira's Theory of the Outer Planes
  4. Randir's Works:
    • "New Definition for Old Terms"
    • "The Nature of the Divine"
    • "What are Little Gods Made Of?"
  5. The Ancient Tome of Knowledge (known as "On Hallowed Ground")
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Copyright 1999 by Feniks

Consult the Mimir Again
Consult the Mimir Again