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  • Garou religion

    As I return to Werewolf: the Apocalypse after about a 20 year hiatus, it seems to me that the belief system outlined therein could easily be adopted as an actual real-world religion. It already comes complete with pagan deities and the bare bones of rituals and prayers.
    Has anyone heard of any person or group using as an actual religion?
    Understand that I mean this to be a fun discussion topic. I'm not actually trying to start a church or anything (well, unless anyone's interested. lol). I am fully aware that Werewolf is mythical symbolism, but in my view, so are all religions, so why not use it if it appeals to you?

  • #2
    Originally posted by CultofJimmy View Post
    As I return to Werewolf: the Apocalypse after about a 20 year hiatus, it seems to me that the belief system outlined therein could easily be adopted as an actual real-world religion. It already comes complete with pagan deities and the bare bones of rituals and prayers.
    Has anyone heard of any person or group using as an actual religion?
    Understand that I mean this to be a fun discussion topic. I'm not actually trying to start a church or anything (well, unless anyone's interested. lol). I am fully aware that Werewolf is mythical symbolism, but in my view, so are all religions, so why not use it if it appeals to you?
    I think it basically has a lot of this due to being a sort of "interfaith smoothie" of real life religions already. Sort of like the Force and Jedi.


    Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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    • #3
      I don't see how you turn WtA animism into a functional real world faith. It relies too much on things that don't exist in the real world.

      It's also significantly different from Jediism. Beyond the practical matters (Star Wars is orders of magnitudes bigger as a fandom than WtA and only a tiny fraction of SW fans practice Jediism), Jediism fulfills a spiritual place that doesn't exist for a lot of modern people as a secular spiritual movement for people that want the positive aspects of organized religion without the dogma of traditional faiths. People interested in a constructed modern animist faith have options in the real world.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
        I don't see how you turn WtA animism into a functional real world faith. It relies too much on things that don't exist in the real world.
        While true, Environmentalist Pantheistic Animism would be pretty much identical anyway.



        Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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        • #5
          Given how much of Garou religion is based on their active interaction with spirits, I don't see how anything IRL could approach identical. Even Kinfolk are presented as not following the Garou religion even though some try to approximate it, because they have no real way to enact things their family members can. If Kinfolk in-setting for the most part can't connect to the religion because of their disconnect from the spirits, how is a real world practice going to get its practitioners to?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
            Given how much of Garou religion is based on their active interaction with spirits, I don't see how anything IRL could approach identical. Even Kinfolk are presented as not following the Garou religion even though some try to approximate it, because they have no real way to enact things their family members can. If Kinfolk in-setting for the most part can't connect to the religion because of their disconnect from the spirits, how is a real world practice going to get its practitioners to?

            Well, in the same way any other religion in the real world works. I don't know many Christians, Muslims or Wiccans who can claim to have seen their gods face to face or had supernatural encounters. Those who do claim such things, well, I'm pretty skeptical about that.
            I suppose the Garou religion in the real world would be a kind of amped up paganism, incorporating various pagan archetypes with a strong emphasis on environmentalism.

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            • #7
              But that's the exact problem. Real world religions are built on a foundation of indirect interaction with the divine/spiritual. You pray, you make sacrifices, you do rituals, and you send it out hoping it will be answers as you wish. Garou religion is built on the fact that they can literally summon up spiritual servants of their divine patrons whenever they want to directly ask them stuff, and travel to spiritual Realms to meet with the actual major spirits if they really want to.

              And we're largely skipping over the fact that the Garou religion is a warrior cult of fanatics, not some peaceful group of Earth-Mother worshipers.

              Since you can't do any of that in the real world, why would anyone want to be part of a religion that only makes sense if you can? Why not just become a Wiccan and then work on environmental issues? It's not like you're going to form packs, turn into supernatural monsters, and tear down fossil fuel companies before disappearing into the spirit world so that the authorities can't stop you.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                It's also significantly different from Jediism. Beyond the practical matters (Star Wars is orders of magnitudes bigger as a fandom than WtA and only a tiny fraction of SW fans practice Jediism), Jediism fulfills a spiritual place that doesn't exist for a lot of modern people as a secular spiritual movement for people that want the positive aspects of organized religion without the dogma of traditional faiths. People interested in a constructed modern animist faith have options in the real world.
                First, I think Heavy Arms is probably right that the correct answer to "why don't we have a Garou-inspired religion yet?" is "there are not enough WtA fans to support the radical minority that would buy in to that extent." I am extremely disappointed by it, but it's probably the correct answer. I probably would not be surprised if there was at least one person on Earth for every World of Darkness gameline that does believe them to some case of "The Truth" being leaked, or something along those lines. But a few oddball cultists performing rituals privately is not a religion. That takes numbers.

                And I would like to take that last bit about "options in the real world" and expand on it, maybe even rant about it a wee bit. While the above answer is probably why there *isn't* one, I'd consider this a reason that there *shouldn't*. As noted above by CTPhipps , a lot of the reason that things like the mythology in WtA or Jedi philosophy in Star Wars seem to carry significant meaning or messages is because they have borrowed them from real existing philosophies and religions. To the extent that there is valuable truth to be found, it is more likely to be found in the source material that it was borrowed from, not the theme-park version put together for people to have fun rolling dice and messing around.

                Moreover, religions are generally based on the premise that they have knowledge of deeper metaphysical truths about reality. Unless you are suggesting that the writers of the World of Darkness were in fact some kind of esoteric conspiracy trying to spread a hidden spiritual message in the form of a game series, something that explicitly understands itself to be fiction seems like a poor source of religious guidance compared to the actual real-world religions and philosophies that were used to help inspire that fiction.

                To go back to Jediism for a moment, it mostly manages to avoid this problem by being, in practice, more of a philosophy or mindset that an adherence to any kind of metaphysical truth, especially given that there does not seem to be any kind of solid position on the only metaphysical component of the "Jedi religion," the Force. And it can kind of get away with this because Star Wars itself (the movies at least) rarely went much into the deeper whys and hows of the Force. A "Garou Religion" is committed to a much stricter set of beliefs about particular entities and forces and the relationships between them than a nebulous "energy" connecting everything. Why would you choose to believe in the explicitly fictional Triat instead of a different set of pagan deities that many people have believed or currently believe in?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                  But that's the exact problem. Real world religions are built on a foundation of indirect interaction with the divine/spiritual. You pray, you make sacrifices, you do rituals, and you send it out hoping it will be answers as you wish. Garou religion is built on the fact that they can literally summon up spiritual servants of their divine patrons whenever they want to directly ask them stuff, and travel to spiritual Realms to meet with the actual major spirits if they really want to.

                  And we're largely skipping over the fact that the Garou religion is a warrior cult of fanatics, not some peaceful group of Earth-Mother worshipers.

                  Since you can't do any of that in the real world, why would anyone want to be part of a religion that only makes sense if you can? Why not just become a Wiccan and then work on environmental issues? It's not like you're going to form packs, turn into supernatural monsters, and tear down fossil fuel companies before disappearing into the spirit world so that the authorities can't stop you.
                  Eh, I think that's drawing a distinction that most Garou wouldn't really care about. As far as Garou are concerned, Kinfolk do follow the same religion. They're closer to the Spirits because they were blessed by Luna and Gaia but the whole making pacts and slaying Banes element isn't going to make a difference to their faithfulness.

                  As for why people would want to follow a WTA religion. I imagine it's two things:

                  1. They believe the fundamentals are true. I.e. everything has a spirit and environment=good. Spiritual corruption=bad.

                  2. They're taking the piss to a certain level.



                  Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                    Eh, I think that's drawing a distinction that most Garou wouldn't really care about.
                    They don't have to. Real people trying to form a religion based on the Garou in the real world would though.

                    1. They believe the fundamentals are true. I.e. everything has a spirit and environment=good. Spiritual corruption=bad.
                    And this ignores a huge amount of what makes the Garou religion what it is to such a generic level that only people taking a piss would claim to follow it.

                    The Garou religion isn't just "environment = good," but, "you have divine justification and duty to kill people that are an active threat to the environment." That isn't a fringe or radical part of the Garou religion, that's mainstream for them as they quibble about how bad "active threat" is. And in the real world there's no Pentex or BSDs to be bigger threats to say it's justified to ignore normal humans until you're done with the ones that actively and knowingly worship spiritual corruption.

                    I know this is supposed to be mostly silly, but it's hard to keep it light if we're going to conflate real peaceful animist environmentalists with violent and murderous religious zealots by trying to ignore the parts that make the Garou fanatics.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post

                      They don't have to. Real people trying to form a religion based on the Garou in the real world would though.

                      And this ignores a huge amount of what makes the Garou religion what it is to such a generic level that only people taking a piss would claim to follow it.

                      The Garou religion isn't just "environment = good," but, "you have divine justification and duty to kill people that are an active threat to the environment." That isn't a fringe or radical part of the Garou religion, that's mainstream for them as they quibble about how bad "active threat" is. And in the real world there's no Pentex or BSDs to be bigger threats to say it's justified to ignore normal humans until you're done with the ones that actively and knowingly worship spiritual corruption.

                      I know this is supposed to be mostly silly, but it's hard to keep it light if we're going to conflate real peaceful animist environmentalists with violent and murderous religious zealots by trying to ignore the parts that make the Garou fanatics.
                      Frankly, I think that's seriously coming down on a very high cynicism interpretation of the Garou. Yes, they kill a lot of people and are religious fundamentalists but the people they primarily kill are a terrorist organization of demon-worshipers.

                      Most Garou aren't randomly killing assholes off the street.

                      I may be biased because I primarily play Children of Gaia, though.


                      Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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                      • #12
                        What exactly is cynical about it?

                        In what modern country or society where people are theoretically considering adopting the Garou religion as their own is it acceptable for people to, "kill a lot of people... but the people they primarily kill are a terrorist organization of demon-worshipers," based solely on faith-derived beliefs let lone a fringe modern creation?

                        I'm not talking about random killing. I'm talking about specific targeted killing based on a set of values as taught by the Garou faith (which absolutely teaches you to kill certain types of people).

                        Even the CoGs accept killing humans simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time; even if they put more energy into avoiding that situation than the other Tribes.

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                        • #13
                          The OP can correct me if I am wrong, but I was assuming that the choice of name "Garou Religion" was less a reflection of a desire to mirror the Garou to such an extent that it included the militant radical holy war aspect, but rather a perhaps careless choice of words. My assumption has been that what they're really focused on is the spiritual and metaphysical aspects: the Triat, Gaia, Celestines, etc. "Triat worship" or the "Gaian faith" might have been better names. Obviously I made my feelings about that clear above. But perhaps give the OP the benefit of the doubt and not assume that they are advocating for environmental terrorism unless they explicitly signal it in some fashion.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                            What exactly is cynical about it?

                            In what modern country or society where people are theoretically considering adopting the Garou religion as their own is it acceptable for people to, "kill a lot of people... but the people they primarily kill are a terrorist organization of demon-worshipers," based solely on faith-derived beliefs let lone a fringe modern creation?

                            I'm not talking about random killing. I'm talking about specific targeted killing based on a set of values as taught by the Garou faith (which absolutely teaches you to kill certain types of people).

                            Even the CoGs accept killing humans simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time; even if they put more energy into avoiding that situation than the other Tribes.
                            Because I feel like that's a very silly assumption to make about the adaptation of the books' characters to the setting.

                            We could argue about RL ethics systems that also justify violence as well under certain circumstances. Particularly people who belong to various militaries and teach it as a form of self-defense or defense of others. It doesn't help that a lot of the Garou anger is driven by being tied to the struggle of RL Indigenous Peoples having their land stolen or destroyed.

                            But that is beyond the scope of this thread.


                            Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Kharnov View Post
                              The OP can correct me if I am wrong, but I was assuming that the choice of name "Garou Religion" was less a reflection of a desire to mirror the Garou to such an extent that it included the militant radical holy war aspect, but rather a perhaps careless choice of words.
                              I'm not sure you can really separate those out as neatly as people are suggesting and be left with anything that really resembles the Garou in the end.

                              It seems like what people want is more 1e Dreamspeakers (esp. the stuff that's easier for people to do without feeling appropriative of native and indigenous cultures), not Garou faith, in terms of a basis for a belief system.

                              But perhaps give the OP the benefit of the doubt and not assume that they are advocating for environmental terrorism unless they explicitly signal it in some fashion.
                              Most of my stuff is actually a more strenuous response to CT's statement in post #4 than the OP's general idea. Though as I said, I'm not sure how you keep something Garou without the warrior part.

                              Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                              Because I feel like that's a very silly assumption to make about the adaptation of the books' characters to the setting.
                              Shifting from "cynical" to "silly," doesn't clarify for me what you find objectionable about my characterization of the WtA setting and lore as presented in the books.

                              We could argue about RL ethics systems that also justify violence as well under certain circumstances.
                              I posed a specific question because it is specifically relevant to this topic. I think it avoids getting off-topic via wider scale ethical discussions fairly neatly.

                              To be clear, I'm looking at how WtA presents the Garou and their faith, and the real world, and seeing a lot of reasons why people would not go, "hey, I want to model my life around that!"

                              The "kill for Gaia!" thing is certainly a turn off to consider.

                              It doesn't help that a lot of the Garou anger is driven by being tied to the struggle of RL Indigenous Peoples having their land stolen or destroyed.
                              Huh? Two Tribes focus on this out of 13. And, of course, RL native and indigenous peoples already have religions. They don't need a fictional one out of a gaming book, and if you care about their struggles, you probably don't want to seem like the kinda of unhelpful person that would adopt a similar faith designed in a fictional game by white people in some sort of performative attempt to demonstrate your allyship with them.

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