Creating a New Religion
by K.L. Hiers
Hello everyone! I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy out there! My name is K.L. “Kat” Hiers, and I love to write. My newest release is called Acsquidentally in Love, and it’s that tried and true story of boy meets tentacle god, boy has to solve murder for tentacle god, and they fall in love.
It’s a fun ride full of magic, mystery, lots of laughs, and yes – scads of tentacle shenanigans. The first time I wrote anything with tentacles was a smutty birthday gift for a dear friend. After that, I was hooked. I wanted to write more, and I knew I had to create some sort of universe in which it was practical for a human being to encounter a creature with tentacles. Aliens are very popular for this genre, but I wanted to do something else.
A lifelong fan of fantasy, I decided to draw on my love mythology to make my own little magical world. I was definitely inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and a film called Cast A Deadly Spell, a noir detective fantasy based on his works. Tentacle gods sounded like a fun idea, and that led me to a most fantastic undertaking and the topic of this post:
Creating a new religion.
There’s a lot to think about when you’re creating a faith, and this wasn’t technically the first time for me. Way back in mortuary school, I took a sociology of religion class. The final project was to take everything we’d learned over the semester to create and classify our own religion. Mine was the Holy Church of the Great Mother Cat, a monotheistic faith who worshipped Hello Kitty and bathing was an elaborate and sacred ritual. It was pretty ridiculous, but it did teach me so much about how to structure a religion.
So, here’s your first task. You need to decide if you’re going to have many gods or one god. There are certainly other aspects to consider with your deity worship, like animism and totemism that are found in Shintoism and Native American religions. For the sake of brevity, we’re going to keep it simple and leave it at polytheism versus monotheism.
If you were a kid like me who loved the Egyptian and Norse mythologies, you’re probably gonna want to do something with multiple gods. From a writing perspective, it gives you options to create more divine characters and you can set up an entire pantheon of deities to play with.
Which brings us to our next task: how to structure the gods. Will there be a leader of your gods like Odin, or will your gods be more loosely organized and informal? Perhaps there is a higher tier of gods who all work together to make big decisions for mankind instead of having a single leader. You could even have gods who rule over separate realms like Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus did. The possibilities are endless, and you can customize your gods as you wish!
It is worth mentioning that if your gods are going to be a big ol’ family with multiple generations, I would highly suggest making a family tree to keep them all organized.
Now that you have your basic structure for all of your gods and goddesses, now it’s time for the fun stuff. You need to decide what kind of worship followers of this religion will practice, do they have any sacred texts or symbols, and what are their afterlife beliefs.
How do followers of your new religion pay tribute to their gods? Do they made animal sacrifices to appease them or have highly ritualized prayers to communicate with them? Do they leave out a bowl of milk before the sun goes down to make that finicky cat god happy? Have fun with it, be creative, and find something that fits the new gods you’ve created.
You should also consider the creation of any significant religious holidays and big life event rituals, such as births, marriages, and deaths. How would the faithful people of your new religion react to these situations? Do they embalm their dead for entombment, burn their bodies in pyres, or do something else entirely?
All of these questions can usually be answered by consulting a sacred text, and that’s the next part of designing our new religion. Most faiths have some sort of text that provide instruction for worship and behavior. These could have been handed down directly by the gods or written by men and women who received the information through visions or direct divine communication. Instead of one text like the Bible, there could be multiple sacred texts.
Or, if you’d like, no text at all! The religious beliefs could have been passed down from generation to generation as stories or poems. Perhaps the founders of your faith don’t have a written language and created an oral tradition to pass on their faith instead. It could all be in song form and holy words have to be sung to avoid offending the gods!
Another important part of a religion is a sacred symbol. Just as Christians have the cross and Hindus the om, what kind of symbol would be sacred to the worshippers of your faith? How would they use it? If they equate their divine with the sun, for example, would they revere sunburst patterns and tattoo them? Would they make a unique geometric shape based on a specific constellation where they believe the gods dwell and embroider it into their clothes? These are just a few ideas, and there’s so much more you could come up with.
Last but not least, the ultimate question – what happens after death? This is a big one because religions are often classified by their end game. You need to choose is your faith going to be cyclic with a traditional pattern of reincarnation or apocalyptic, where there is a defined end – whatever that may be!
Your religion can be whatever you want it to be: silly or serious, weird or traditional, just be sure to have fun with it! I hope this has been helpful if you’re thinking about creating your own unique faith and has given some insight into how I made the religion for the magical world of Acsquidentally In Love – my new release out now!
Thanks so much for having me!
-K.L. “Kat” Hiers