The Gods are a hot topic in many works, whether they’re present as a singular god, multiple, or not there at all. Religion is one of the most important aspects of society, and it tends to change over time. I think progression in a religion is a very good thing, after all. Some ideologies should be left in the past, like women being lesser, slavery, sacrifice, homophobia, and many more. Many religious folks still have long ways to go before they make meaningful progress with being decent people.
All of that serious business aside, however, our depictions of deities has changed in our creative works over time as well.
Today I wanted to discuss how I, personally, depict the gods in my works. In fact… one of them is a main character of my magical college, Cobratongue University: Professors & Kings. Professor Hades is an unusual fellow, to say the least, and I’m sure many wonder why someone like him is teaching in a college. He definitely is a god, and rotates in ruling the underworld as a whole.
In my universe, this is where souls go to be for a while before they’re reborn. This includes the gods, who can be slain (but it’s HARD). They’re sent to an ‘unknown location’ in the underworld for centuries before being reborn as the same species they were slain as. Their souls can be ‘awakened’ again; at that point they would regain memories and powers.
So, how do my deities differ from mortals in my works?
There’s a few key factors. One: My gods have no lifespan. Theoretically they could live forever if they’re not slain. In that sense, they are immortal, but not invincible. Two: They are reborn as the same species, or close enough, to when they were slain, whereas mortals can be reborn as anything. They tend to have potent powers and look over segments of the planet, like the underworld, weather, ecology, etc. Not all of them have that sort of ‘job’, but many of them do. Technically anyone can become a deity, but the way is unknown and assumed to be random.
More interestingly, how are they similar to mortals in my works?
That’s the thing. None of my gods are perfect, nor will they ever be. In this sense, I did bleed a little bit of my own faith into my works (Okay… a lot… I’m polytheistic, after all) like many writers often do. I do not believe in the notion of perfection and never will. It’s one of the few impossible concepts given ‘perfection’ is entirely subjective. My deities are people with a lot of power, essentially. They’re not some all-powerful force constantly playing 3D chess, nor are they some uncaring nihilistic concept we see in Lovecraftian works. Some care and help actively, while others do not. Also, like mortal souls, theirs cannot be destroyed–in fact, most start off as mortals. (Side note: Souls in my works can be shattered or eaten, but they will always eventually regenerate, though be changed heavily from the experience.)
Where does Hades fall into this? Again, it seems super unusual for someone as powerful as him to teach a college. How about I have him answer that himself?
His little ‘vacation’ from his duties in the underworld is merely swapping from one job to another. That’s Hades, for you, always obsessing over responsibility and aiding people. That’s basically what he says there. ‘Not enough good in the world’, and he wants to see it for himself. You can imagine some of the true evil people he deals with in the Underworld, as he has to deal with all types. This can definitely cause someone to become jaded, but rather than shift to that, Hades wants to see the positives himself.
He’s an excellent example of a neutral good deity in my work. Granted, he leans to ‘lawful’, but not any specific human laws. My ‘alignment systems’ would be vastly different from how they work in D&D, anyway.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but in my book, we see the awakening of two deities who thought they were ‘normal people’ prior to being woken up. A great clash between the Greek gods & Titans led to the deaths of many, including the two who are woken up. I mention primarily Greek gods in my works, but it’s canon that every polytheistic god exists on this version of our planet.
There you have it! Most of my works will have gods like this, where they have a HUGE amount of power and sometimes responsibility, but have thoughts and emotions just like any other person. They can be good, evil, or anything in between. I get really excited when I see others humanizing the deities in their works, as the whole ‘all powerful and perfect’ trope is something I detest heavily.
Good luck writing the deities in your works, and remember, these are just how I do it and my personal opinions! Some folks like a different type of writing for their deities (or singular one, or lack thereof). There’s ways to do what I do even in a monotheistic setting. The show Lucifer did it really well with how it depicted God!
Flaws and personality are a good thing, but perfection is not!