(8x14) Terra Resurgent: Part 2, Episode 2
Metis studies the history of the religion practiced by the Alexandrians through the detailed records they have kept in their great library.
Following the capture of Persia by the Mauryan Empire, a slow syncretization of Dharmic and Abrahamic religion occurred. With the Abrahamic religions already featured a monotheistic God "emanating" polytheistic deities (accounted as angels), an identification of Elohim with Brahman was easy for the Persians to make. Following that, the cross-identification of different "gods" and angels from different cultures, similar to the Greco-Roman cross-identification of their gods, was nearly inevitable. With two-way communication of ideas between the religions thus established, surrounded by the religiously tolerant Mauryan political environment, the two religious traditions slowly melded until throughout south Asia, Abrahamic and Dharmic stories and philosophies mixed freely into a single, diverse religion:
At the top was the singular God, Elohim or Brahman; subdivided into two manifestations, an active/changing and a passive/static side, Yah and Weh, Yang and Yin; each of those subdivided into a "good" and a "bad" side, Yah/Yang into the Creator and the Destroyer, Weh/Yin into the Preserver and Suppressor. Those alternately supported and opposed each other: the Creator being the enemy of the Suppressor but ally of the Preserver, and the Destroyer being enemy of the Preserver but ally of the Suppressor.
The singular being of that multifaceted God then emanated downward into lesser gods or angels of broad abstract concepts, of places or nations, families, down eventually to tiny animistic emanations into every smallest thing; and from the bottom up, creatures rose from the divine creation into independent life as animals, people, and some of them to the level of great prophets or bodhisattvas, such as Jesus and Siddhartha. The overarching aspiration was for creatures to let the emanations of the singular God work through them and in doing so rise from mere matter to beings of pure spirit, the world slowly becoming one with the God.
As Persia retained close contact with its former Roman sister-territory of Russia, this syncretic religion slowly bled into their culture as well, and trickled in small amounts through the rest of its Xiongnu parent empire. When the Asian empires fractured at the end of the First World War, and Persia and Russia became, together with Xiania, the powerhouses of a unified communist Asia, the syncretic religion was strongly pushed throughout the continent to emphasize the unity of all its people, the sole holdout being Xiania which likewise was the only country to retain its own separate national identity.
As the Cold War began and internationalist communist movements moved through Africa and America to unify the world, this syncretic framework was also pushed through them, adopting and incorporating elements of the local religions, and gradually building an international mythological narrative which remarkably closely tracked the true history of the Pantheon which loosely inspired the local myths.
In the United Nations of Columbia, Europe, and Auei, however, mirroring the rise of nationalism in those places, their religions developed in an opposite direction. God was seen as an entirely otherworldly being completely detached from the world; the material world was seen as crude and without a shred of the divine; and humans were seen as divine spirits sent to take material form, to be tested in the cruel material world before returning to the spiritual world for their reward or punishment. Actively spiritual life was seen as less and less important, obedience to rules was of highest importance, and the material world was seen as there for mankind's exploitation.
The Silent War saw the slow rise of atheism worldwide, as the cultures sustaining the syncretist religion collapsed and the increasingly-materialistic culture of the United Nations was imposed upon them; and religion became used as a tool of oppression within the latter, increasing the loudness with which it was professed by the ruling elite but souring it in the mouths of the general populace.
When Asia and America rose to power again following the Last World War, they did so in an entirely atheistic context, and the reforms eventually sparked by them in Columbia and Auei lead to the now-generally-atheist population of those continents kicking religion out of its high place in their societies. But as the Internation coalesced out of these four continents, the syncretist mythology (the loosely true story of the Pantheon) was revived as a sort of unifying popular global fiction, popularized by retellings in the new media of the day; and a form of naturalistic pantheism, a spiritual way of looking at the material world, became a popular attitude worldwide.
While Europe and its African colonies remained as the last vestiges of the Silent War, the European powers began pushing their religions on the African people, pushing to eliminate all animistic, shamanistic, and polytheistic elements of the syncretist culture, leaving only an absentee God, his human regents on Earth (represented by the national rulers of Europe), and a world of worthless dirt. With little asked of them from their religion and much praise offered them as the "better" people of the world, the Europeans happily paid lip service to these religions, with little practical import on their lives; but the imposition of this scheme on Africa caused much strife and was a major contributing factor to Africa's eventual union with the Internation. When Europe finally caved to union with the Internation as well, their religions lost much power, and their adherents that had followed them only for the power it brought them largely abandoned them over the slow course of international integration.
As mankind ventured to the stars, they did so largely as atheists, with a naturalistic-pantheist gloss popular among the commoners, and a shared but not really believed mythology of the amalgamated polytheistic Pantheon. But since the collapse of the old world civilization following the destruction of the moon, the common people have turned more and more back to the concrete figures of the polytheistic myths, still abstractly considered to be emanating from a singular deity, but that is a matter that concerns only philosophers and theologians these days. To the common Alexandrian, the Pantheon are the gods.
In that syncretist mythology of old Earth before the Fall, the mythic figure of Metis was already seen as something like a savior figure, if only counterfactually. The oldest child of the oldest child of the original gods of Heaven and Earth, she would have been the rightful queen of the gods, and under her reign all of history would have been right and just; and thus it is because of her death, long before history, that all evil was allowed to persist. In contrast, Xio, the traditional king of the gods despite being the youngest child of the youngest child, was seen as a kind of pretender to the throne, and that through which all evil was allowed to enter the world.
Mankind of that time, just before the Fall, did not expect, even in their stories, that one day the rightful queen of the gods would return and retake her throne. She was more an allegorical figure of lost potential, a symbol of how noble the world could have always been if not the the evil that in fact plagued its history. But since then, down to now, in contemporary Alexandria, another layer had been added to those old myths, predicting the resurrection of Metis, and through her, the salvation of the world. With this, the real Metis realizes an opportunity to make these myths even more true than they unknowingly already are.
Next: Terra Resurgent: Part 2, Episode 3