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Pendragon Paganism

Historically, knighthood is a Christian institution, but KAP is all Arthurs in one. Pagan knights appear in The High History of the Holy Grail, and pagans certainly lived at least in the countryside of Logres when the historical Arthur lived. The savages and demons of The High History present the common misconceptions of paganism as a dark, evil force; modern knowledge of ancient practices indicate an ambivalent recognition of good and bad forces; and the persistent popularity of prehistoric healing wells, fertility blessings and folk charms reveal its benevolent side. druid

Paganism has no universal dogma. It had no unitary organization anywhere. Yet certain generalities exist, and the job of the game designer is to draw out those differences to provide some fun and interesting play for those who care for religious motivations. Those general and contrasting principles underlie the Virtues of Pendragon magic.

Those virtues seem very strange to anyone not versed in experience and lore instead of propaganda and legend. Vocabulary has altered, meaning has changed, and sometimes my desire to publish outstrips my Muse—explanations are obscure or absent.

Playing my game continually provokes creative responses in me. Published rules are static, and must be self-contained and consistent. Here I muse, stretch and explain some of my reasons, design intentions and changes in thought.

Contents

What We Know About Celtic Paganism

Merlin and the Knight; A knight questions the archmage

Traits & Passion Redefined: Otherworldly/Worldly, Pious
Passion Redefined: Pious

The Pagan Virtues
Lustful, by Alan Day
Energetic In the works
Generous In the works
Honest In the works
Proud In the works

What We Know About Celtic Paganism

statue

Nothing. OK, next to nothing. Compare it to what has been lost. The pitiful handful of myths, euhemerized into legends of demigods, is a peephole into their religions and spirituality. Imagine Bromwich’s Book of Triads times one hundred and you have imagined a bard’s repertoire, and he has yet to learn the secrets, ceremonies and mysteries of the oblate or wisdom of the druid. We know nothing of the British myths and practices compared to the all the known written Greek myths, which are just a smidgen of the total Greek mythology—do not think the Britons any less imaginative or profound. Archeology provides scraps at best—floor plans and images, remains of temples, worn images of stone and lead, even some songs and dances whose meanings we must guess at.

Pendragon Paganism is my reconstructed version of British paganism. I made up a religions suitable for my game of Arthurian knights. It works for Pagans, it works for the faerie. It’s not what I think was practiced. It’s not the paganism I practice, nor of anyone else that I know. It isn't what I read in books. All those contributed, but it’s a story, a metaphor, a construct to help color the realm of the Great King.

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Traits & Passion Redefined: Otherworldly/Worldly, Pious

Pious/Worldly is a problem

A problem to understanding paganism has plagued the rules in every edition. It stems from the badly defined and envisioned set of Traits called Pious/Worldly. The constant urging for holy knights to be pious necessitated something. Now I think I erred to oppose it with Worldly. That came from my desire to express a basic dichotomy of many religions, including those of the KAP world, known as transcendent and immanent. I now find my unhappy compromise of Pious/Worldly to be entirely unacceptable. I tried to make it do too much.

Otherworldly/Worldly is a solution

Otherworldly indicates concentration on mental, immaterial matters. Its extreme indicates attention directed elsewhere even at the cost of knowing what is right in front of them. Spiritual otherworldliness is common, with holy people distracted by their secrets and mysteries and strange goings-on that are unknown to normal folk. Philosophical and aesthetic otherworldliness is caused by deep of lofty thoughts, but manifests the same way—inattention to immediate events. Such inattention might also be caused by intense innocence (Percival), or passion (Percival, Gawaine, Ywaine--the raven, blood and snow gets 'em all). Great Otherworldliness often seems to be, and sometimes even might be, weak- or absent-mindedness.

Worldly is concern with the material realm. It stems from the need for food, shelter and clothing, and in its extreme is a recognition of the beautiful life, and the immanence of divinity. It can manifest as crude acquisition of things, or as a sense of refined cultural sophistication. At its extreme it can also be ostentatiousness, such as that required of nobility (who should probably require a Worldly roll each year.)

Pious is a Passion

Piety is included in/replaces the previously known passion of Love God/dess.

Piety is a passion for a higher spiritual being or state of being. By definition its intensity is worshipful, whatever that means to the circumstance. Piety’s focus is the favored immortal. It is invoked in the presence of that entity, or to bring that entity or its power to where the person is. It is possible to work miracles through Piety, but even religious knights lack the talent to do so. (Wonder working knights like Galahad are exceptional and outside the rules. Magicians will be handled under another supplement.)

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The Pagan Virtues

cernunos

Pagans don't have a set of vices and virtues. Right and wrong are judged by the needs of a community working together against the pressures of Nature, holding traditions that have kept them alive since Brutus came here. Truth is multiple, circumstantial and conditional. Higher ethics of universal right and wrong are well known through druidic, Greek and eastern philosophers, but while such lofty ideals may motivate and guide the mystics of all practices, they mean little to the common person.

No single god or goddess is superior to all others. Each has their place, and sometimes one groups holds power and sometimes another. People favor one or two deities, because their duties harmonize with the nature of the deity. A warrior naturally favors Lleu or another war god, while the plowmen prefer the bluff and honest Dagda. All people worship all the deities, even the dark ones. There is not One Way, but a flexible path that is adjusted to the time, people and immediate needs. Whether Gwynn or Gwythur rules, whether Danu or Morrigan; we worship in their world.

The general beliefs, the "virtues" of the Pendragon pagans, are the behaviors that benefit an agricultural community native to the lands they live in.

Lust is Virtue

A Pagan Perspective
by Alan Day

Traits in KAP are a powerful, dynamic force. To apply them in proper context helps make sense of them, and integrates that common sense into the genre. Christianity permeates modern life, and old Roman Christianity, permeates early works, such as Malory. Its stamp defines itself as good, and its rivals as bad.

Pagan ways are more complex than as defined by Christianity.

Lustful is perhaps the most significant difference between the two faiths and simultaneously one of the most misunderstood. We all know what Chaste is: … Many assume that since Lustful is the converse of Chaste, it must be the 180° direct opposite. Even for Pagans, Chaste means that one is loyal to a single paramour, shielding both mind and body from straying toward others. However this does not mean that Lustful is wild and thoughtless sexual relations with all other potential lovers,. Quite to the contrary, Lustful people can be quite singular in their carnal relations. Being highly Lustful simply means that the person does not guard themselves from stray sexual ideas, and possibly behavior. A person of a high Lustful is sensual and not shy about admiring those that s/he finds desirable.

Flirting is a sport for sensualists. Whether such flirtation is innocent with no real intention of consummation or is meant in its full carnal sense is not a religious demand, but a function of the person’s intimate relationship with another, of opportunity, and always requires mutual consent. Some Lustful couples practice a sexually open relationship. Some of those couples have clearly defined boundaries as to what is acceptable and what is cheating. Others simply do not care, relegating copulation to a necessity like breathing or sleeping. A couple may agree that they may have dalliances only certain holidays, such as Beltaine or during Yule, or routinely expect in then. Outside relations may be brought to dinner and then the bed, whether the trio share affection.

The key element for Pagan Lust is that sex is good. Physical actions are holy, tactile delight is good, carnal bonding is great, and ecstatic coupling is divine. Even if it is with only one person.

Feb 2010

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