Is Imperial polytheism realistic?

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Visitor Q
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Are there any published sources that state that the Warhammer Gods of Law view burning at the stake as specifically a human sacrifice? (Rather than just a grizzly punishment for a serious crime).

I don't think there are.

There are lots of sources and examples of Chaos cults and religions using human sacrifice.
Last edited by Visitor Q on Sat Jul 17, 2021 12:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Chuck
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Reading through the thread -- the last few pages especially, I'd like to remind posters to try to keep the rhetoric here polite and respectful please.
Visitor Q
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Fair.

For the record I've deleted a point which probably didn't add much and might have been a bit facetious.
Capitaneus Fractus
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Visitor Q wrote:
Sat Jul 17, 2021 8:01 am
Are there any published sources that state that the Warhammer Gods of Law view burning at the stake as specifically a human sacrifice? (Rather than just a grizzly punishment for a serious crime).
There are really few official sources on Warhammer chaotic gods of Law. The concept was abandoned before being developed. All we know is that it was intended to have four chaotic gods of law (three of them being Solkan, Arianka Anastasis, and Illuminas), that an industrious chaotic god of Law was considered by Rick Priestley and Bryan Ansell and that chaotic gods of laws were intended to be even more terrible and terrifying than chaotic gods of Chaos.

There are sources, however, that burning heretics is a human sacrifice, when the said heretics are humans.
Wikipedia wrote:Human sacrifice may be a ritual practiced in a stable society, and may even be conducive to enhance societal unity (see: Sociology of religion), both by creating a bond unifying the sacrificing community, and in combining human sacrifice and capital punishment, by removing individuals that have a negative effect on societal stability (criminals, religious heretics, foreign slaves or prisoners of war).("Human Sacrifice", Wikipedia)
This source isn't very strong (it shoes that burning heretics can be a sacrifice, not that all burnings of heretics are sacrifices). I'll try to search one better latter. This, however, goes with the very basic meaning of sacrifice, and sacred... No-one would burn heretics outside a religious frame of a relation of a people with a god or with gods (contrary to, say... the burning of regicides, which is not [directly at last] related to gods).
I might develop that point latter if it is of any interest.
Visitor Q wrote:
Sat Jul 17, 2021 8:01 am
There are lots of sources and examples of Chaos cults and religions using human sacrifice.
Yes. Which means -I repeat myself because I've already wrote that many time, but perhaps it will be clearer if wrote such way- that Chaotic cults and religions happen to sacrifice humans. Not that human sacrifices are characteristic (hence exclusive) to chaotic cults.
The proof being that human sacrifices were practiced on a number of different occasions and in many different cultures of our world. So except if you considerate that those real world cultures were chaotic too, rather than normally humans, human sacrifices cannot be something that define, in itself, Chaos.
Veniam, Duelli Malleum, phantasticum ludum personae uidebo, in fera terra periculosorum aduenturorum ludebam.
Visitor Q
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I would argue that the designers and writers of Warhammer are, effectively, making a statement that human sacrifice to appease a diety represents disordered behaviour that is intrinsically Chaotic within their fiction.

In real world religion the theology behind sacrifice is more nuanced and complicated. This is also the case in other fantasy fiction. In Warhammer specifically I don't think it is. That is why a comparison with the real world is unhelpful to say the least.

An obvious problem with the comparison to real world human sacrafice is that in the real world Chaos doesn't exist. But if it did things like human sacrifice would attract the attention of Chaotic entities (see Realms of Chaos Lost and Damned). Human Sacrafice would then inherently change the society practicing it (it would become Chaotic) OR lead to a complete ban it.

And to restate there, which I believe we agree on now there are no references to Gods of Law requiring or engaging in human sacrafice.
Capitaneus Fractus
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Here is a still very rough development and structuration of my previous thoughts...:

The universe is constituted by two dimensions. One material universe that we all know and one immaterial universe, which is called the immaterium and by many other names such as the warp, the void, the Empyrean, the sea of souls, the realm of chaos, the aethyr, the afterlife... The immaterium is inhabited by the souls of everything that is part of the material universe, being minerals, vegetables, mushrooms, animals or every other kind of existence.

In the Immaterium, souls' hybris tends to feed, by their desires, warp tempests whose born self-consciousness and intelligence are also the birth of what mortals call a divinity of Chaos who tend to be worshipped by envious who desire to get what seems forbidden to them. Those cults aim, consciously or unconsciously, to the utter subversion of the society in order to satisfy their envies. The aforementioned tempests are numerous, but the most important and powerful of them, who are able to manipulate the immaterium around them, are known to some as Khorn (from wrath against the powerful), Tzeentch (from arrogance against the powerful), Nurgle (from accidie in face to the powerful) and Slaanesh (from concupiscence condemned by the powerful).

The spirit of subversion raised from souls' hybris is also a spirit of autosubversion that goes against the perpetual hegemony of those said four "gods of Chaos". Some urges are sometime targeted against what desires represent or what represent their cultists. Hence, souls' hybris also created, through their death drive, what are sometime called the renegades gods of Chaos known to some as Malal or Malice (from wrath against one's own kin), Necoho (from self-humiliation), Zuvassin (from accidie in face of oneself's needs) and the Horned Rat (from self-concupiscence).

On the contrary, souls' hybris tend to feed, by their fears, another kind of conscious and intelligent warp tempests who are also vulgarly called by mortals divinity of Law. Those divinities of Aion tend to be worshipped by jealous who desire to keep for them what is envied by others. Those cults aim, consciously or unconsciously, to the absolute and eternal perpetuation of the original state of the society in order to satisfy their greed. The most important of the aforementioned tempests are known to some as Solkan or Solden (from wrath against those who try to usurp what one have), Arianka Anastasis (from arrogance against the weak that pretend to be one's equals), ᾼlluminas (from accidie to distance from the ignorant weak) and Hashut (from concupiscence reached by subjugating the weak).

In opposition to souls' hybris, souls' appeal for justice tend to feed, by its expectation in favour of moral order and fair judgement as a transcendent universal ideal or based on immemorial custom, conscious and intelligent warp tempest whom mortals happen to call divinity of cosmos. Those cosmic gods are worshipped in order to satisfy more concrete needs, somewhat more distant from passions. Some of the most important tempests are known as Kháine (from just outrage rather than wrath), Asuryan (from honour rather than arrogance), Kurnous (from laissez-faire la nature rather than accidie) and Isha (from prodigality rather than concupiscence)... Those cosmic gods were discovered by the Old Ones and then teach by them to Old Slanns; by Old Slanns to Slanns and to Asurs; and by Asurs to Old Worlders.

(The Old Faith still need to be positioned in this structure, with cosmic gods).

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The conflicts that raised from souls' envy, fear, death drive or appeal for justice maintained the universe in a relative equilibrium up to the birth of Slaanesh, about seven thousand years ago... The Birth of Slaanesh overturned the weak equilibrium and did tear bounds between the material and immaterial dimensions. Old Ones' galactic civilization collapsed and the realms of Chaos flowed into the Warhammer Fantasy World and elsewhere in the Milky Way which lead to the first great war against the Chaos.
Asuryan and Kurnous were destructed by Slaanesh who shattered too Kháine. Isha and Arianka Anastasis were debilitated by Nurgle. Most Cosmic "elder gods", as they are called by mortals, were destructed, but many "old" and "classical gods" still stand in the immaterium and receive cults from the material world.

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The "elder god" Isha, albeit debilitated by Nurgle, is still alive and is still worshipped by men of the Empire under the name of Rhya, Haleth, Dyrath or Ishea.
So are worshipped and alive the "elder god" Kháine (albeit shattered in pieces) and the more healthier loec (worshipped by Eonirs as Adaman).

The so-called "Law Godess" Arianka Anastasis is also debilited by Nurgle. Arianka's debility and Alluminas's impotent acedia did favoured a disequilibrium favouring Chaos forces up to a point that a new equilibrium might paradoxically be established under the hegemony of the four Chaotic gods. To counter that some Malal's cultists to attempt to wake up Arianka.

The main surviving "old gods" are Karnos (worshipped as Karog or confused with Torothal as Taal by men of the Empire), Torothal (worshipped as Taal in the Empire), Eldrazor (worshipped as Ulric in the Empire), Mathlann (worshipped as Manann, Stormfels, Olovald, Manalt, Manas, Manhavok, Mathann in the Empire).

The main surviving "classical gods" are Sarriel (worshipped as Mórr in the Empire), Hoeth (worshipped as Verena, Clio, Renbaeth or Scripsisti in the Empire), Myrmidia and Shallya.

Very popular heroic cults of the Empire most famously include those of Ranald and of Sigmar. The cult of Sigmar being both the most popular of the Empire and a cult quite extensively infiltrated by cultists of Solkan up to the point where one might wonder if the cult of Sigmar didn't became a solkanite cult.


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Visitor Q wrote:
Sun Jul 18, 2021 10:30 am
I would argue that the designers and writers of Warhammer are, effectively, making a statement that human sacrifice to appease a diety represents disordered behaviour that is intrinsically Chaotic within their fiction.
1. might you please quote and source this statement by designers and writers of Warhammer? I am curious to read it.
2. such statement, as you describe it, suggests that designers of Warhammer were, to say the least, simply wrong. Such an unrealistic statement should, anyway, in the frame of this thread, be corrected. As you state yourself (and as I have tried to enlighten in my previous posts through some quotes) "[human] sacrifice is more nuanced and complicated" and, in fact, commonly happen to tend to favour and to promote ordered behaviours...
Visitor Q wrote:
Sun Jul 18, 2021 10:30 am
An obvious problem with the comparison to real world human sacrafice is that in the real world Chaos doesn't exist.
If human sacrifices are real and exists and if Chaos doesn't exist, it means that human sacrifices cannot be characteristic to Chaos. Q.E.D.

The principle of fantastic fiction genre is to change one parameter of reality by adding one "unreal" thing to a real universe and to establish a plausible consequence of that. The fantastic aspect of Warhammer is to add the immaterium (Chaos) to the Milky Way. All things that appears to be unreal from the perspective of our real world are the consequence of Chaos...

Mass human sacrifices do not appears to be unreal from the perspective of our real world as mass human sacrifices are very much real in our real world (and are mostly motivated by reasons that generally appears to be in contradiction with how Warhammer's Chaos powers are described).
Visitor Q wrote:
Sun Jul 18, 2021 10:30 am
But if it did things like human sacrifice would attract the attention of Chaotic entities (see Realms of Chaos Lost and Damned). Human Sacrafice would then inherently change the society practicing it (it would become Chaotic) OR lead to a complete ban it.
Human sacrifices motivated by just or lawful feelings, means and aims wouldn't particularly attract the attention of Chaotic entities (according to how I remember The Lost and the Damned, please correct me if I do not remember well, with a precise quote and source). Human sacrifices motivated by chaotic feelings would, however, more particularly attract this said attention.

Visitor Q wrote:
Sun Jul 18, 2021 10:30 am
And to restate there, which I believe we agree on now there are no references to Gods of Law requiring or engaging in human sacrafice.
We do not exactly agree on how you write this sentence... I've said that there are really few references on gods of Law, not that there are no references on gods of Law. I don't know if there are no reference to chaotic gods of Law requiring or engaging in human sacrifice... I believe there are no reference to chaotic gods of Law's beliefs being antithetic or incompatible to human sacrifices and I feel there is a sort of suggestive blurring that let suggest that Solkan witch hunters might, for example, tend to sacrifice human heretics... Warhammer's Chaos isn't "evil" and Warhammer's Law isn't "good".
One should read old Warhammer novels that include Law cults or cultists to get sure such explicit references exist or not.
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Orin J.
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Capitaneus Fractus wrote:
Sun Jul 18, 2021 1:30 pm
Here is a still very rough development and structuration of my previous thoughts...:
this is just a much wordier description of the early 2000s 40K description of the warp. fantasy doesn't work that way, just by the fact that places of strong dark magic don't spontaneously let in daemons (because it forms warpstone instead). why do people always want to merge the two when 40K's approach to the realm of chaos has always sucked nuts....
Capitaneus Fractus
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You've already made those fallacious allegations few pages earlier and you were already proved wrong. Errare humanum est perseverare diabolicum. I feel that it would be better, if possible, to avoid going round in circle again and again.

On magic and warp: places of strong magic are place hugely saturated with warp matter. Magic is Warp. "Magic" = "Warp". That is because there are a lot of warp matter/magic that those places show strong magic. It is simply not correct to suggest that warp matter would form (as stone, like in your example, or under a different shape or state) because there would be strong magic.
Daemons only appears in the warp. When daemons seem to appears in the material world, that's always because that part of the material world is saturated with the warp. That is why they are subject to instability.
This instability would not happen in a pure warp space. Neither this instability happens in places well enough saturated with the warp, like the polar realms of Chaos which... let in daemons "spontaneously".
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Chuck
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Welp seems like this thread has run its course. Instead of continuing to flog this poor dead horse, I’ll just go ahead and close her up.
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