Calormene gods: Where did they come from?

C. S. Lewis, his worlds, and his faith.

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Calormene gods: Where did they come from?

Postby Dernhelm_of_Rohan » Jul 26, 2012 8:27 am

So I was up late reading LB last night, and something new struck me as I got near the end - if Tash is real, are the other Calormene deities also real? Zardeena and the rest of 'em? And if so, where did they come from?

Tash is very obviously the opposite of Aslan in character (though not in power), but he is not present at the creation of the world. Where then did he come from? Did Jadis make the Calormene gods? Are they creatures from another world who found another way through the Wood Between the Worlds?

What do you think?
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Re: Calormene gods: Where did they come from?

Postby Narnian_Badger » Jul 27, 2012 10:50 am

Hum. Good question, Dernhelm. I freely admit that I'd never given it much thought until now, but I'd imagine it did have something to do with the Wood Between Worlds. Perhaps some Calormene managed to find his way to the world of Tash et al, and then returned to Calorman and told about it--story became myth, myth became legend, legend became religion. Or, perhaps more likely, Tash at one point visited Calormen and intimidated them into serving him. Though I'm not sure why he would've left again... *shrugs*

In reference to Zardeena and the others, I would imagine that if Tash is real, there's no distinct reason to disbelieve the reality of the other gods... I'd guess their "power" is severely limited, though (sort of like how, in the book of Job, Satan has to get permission from God before he can do anything). In LB, Tash showed up because he was called upon--but he'd been called many, many times before (poor Rabadash). From that one could assume he was only allowed in because of the End of the World situation.
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Re: Calormene gods: Where did they come from?

Postby Ithilwen » Jul 29, 2012 2:20 am

Perhaps the gods that the people of Calormen worship are the other evil beings (or their descendants) that were with the White Witch when she killed Aslan at the Stone Table.

They might have been beings of Jadis's creation, or perhaps they were once good creatures that went bad. Or maybe they got in from another world.


~Riella =:)
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Re: Calormene gods: Where did they come from?

Postby Boy Scout » Aug 03, 2012 3:31 pm

Ithilwen wrote:Perhaps the gods that the people of Calormen worship are the other evil beings (or their descendants) that were with the White Witch when she killed Aslan at the Stone Table.

They might have been beings of Jadis's creation, or perhaps they were once good creatures that went bad. Or maybe they got in from another world.


~Riella =:)


I think you have the right idea here. The gods could easily be creatures that resulted from Jadis dark maic. At the creation of Narnia, Jadis was the only evil in it- so it would make sense for them to come from her. But it could also be that since Jadis brought evil into Narnia- more evil could come into it, but I consider that to be the less likely origin.

I'll have to keep watching this thread because I really want to know the answer now. :P
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Re: Calormene gods: Where did they come from?

Postby Lady Arwen » Aug 04, 2012 3:51 pm

While I suppose Jadis could have created dark creatures, I feel it his highly unlikely that Lewis planned them as her creation. Rather, I think if he had given them a written source, it would have been one akin to the Biblical source of demons and devils; fallen creatures. We know that Aslan created all the native things of Narnia's world by singing them into existence; Uncle Andrew, Digs, Polly and Jadis had come from other worlds. Further, Jadis does not seem to have any power within herself to create entirely new things. Sure, she could lock Narnia in an ice age, but she was not creating something "new" in that process. She had power to enchant people, but I don't think she had power to create new lifeforms. Thus, I would rule out Jadis/WW as the source of these gods down in Calormen.

I, then, think there are two options for their point of origin: the first, outside worlds (like Ithi mentioned), the second, fallen creatures. The first option is pretty self explanatory. Like Jadis, the Telmarines, the Pevensies and I'm sure many others, they found their way quite accidentally into a new world. Like Jadis, they saw a chance to rule over people, and took advantage of that.

The second option I have considered is that they are fallen creatures--natives to the Narnian world that have turned bad. We know that stars have magical strengths and/or superhuman capabilities (both the stars in DT demonstrated that), but these capabilities could still be manipulated by humans or human-like people (for example, the dufflepuds manage to change the magician by turning *him* invisible, too, and he can't undo it!). I'm sure there were more old stars than these two, and perhaps some that had chosen to leave their appointed course to live among men and rule over them. The stars certainly have a lot of power in the Narnian world, and it seems rather easy for them to be raised to the position of "gods" by the Calormens.
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Re: Calormene gods: Where did they come from?

Postby Hermitess of Narnia » Oct 12, 2012 3:12 pm

I think the basic route whereby the Calormene gods came from is that the Calormenes got away from following Aslan, but still wanted deities to worship. That left them vulnerable to any of the evil creatures that could travel to Calormen, like hags and werewolfs. If the some of the evil creatures did originate in Narnia, that would explain the stories some of the Calormenes had heard about demons in the form of animals.

However, I get the impression that Tash really is a demon in the Narnian world and not based off the the White Witch's rabble because he can appear both in Narnia and in the world on the other side of the stable door.
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Re: Calormene gods: Where did they come from?

Postby Lilygloves » Nov 25, 2012 8:23 pm

This is an interesting point, and not something I had really considered before. I think the theory that Tash is "part of the same crew" as the WW is worth considering, but Hermitess of Narnia brings up a good point. The WW has supernatural powers, but is not a supernatural being. She is a physical person, as opposed to a spiritual being. Aslan is both physical as well as spiritual, seeing as how he can disappear and reappear, turn into other types of animals, appear in dreams, etc. I would assume that Tash has similar powers, although his powers would be much more limited than Aslan's. I suppose that Lewis left the origin of those gods open to interpretation. It does mention in 1 Corinthians that there are idols and there are evil spirits. Similar to this, many of the Calormen gods may be false idols, but they also may have some supernatural power, either granted to them by an evil god such as Tash or the idols are based on real evils gods.
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Re: Calormene gods: Where did they come from?

Postby Aslanisthebest » Dec 25, 2012 9:27 pm

I think that villains in the book are general representatives of evil - The White Witch, Miraz, and Tash. Tash happened to be something that was the object of worship. (I'm thinking aloud here and offering a suggestion, not necessarily expressing this as my engraved-in-stone opinion, as I may have many areas to stand to be corrected, such as the various villains' roles.)

I don't know - I don't think every single one of the gods are real. Aslan was the creator and originator of everything in Narnia and in every other world. The concepts of the other gods don't necessarily mean that they existed: it could have been the idea of that adopted by people. I think this is why C.S. Lewis included the much-debated Emeth scene: Aslan told Emeth that everything good Emeth did, Aslan was the originator of that good. (Don't read this as pluarlism when compared to Christianity, because it's not.) Because it wasn't like, say, Greek or Hindu mythology where the gods are rivals, opposites, or equals - Aslan was the originator of every thought, action, and matter. There was evil, yes, but Aslan was still in control of that evil. He could have stopped the White Witch's reign if he wanted to, he could have rewritten the entire concept of the rules that governed Narnia so that Digory would not have to go and plant the tree to ward off the White Witch, but he chose the systematic means because he decided to.

Like many have suggested above, I think it's possible that the specific evil creatures or people mentioned in the books came from outside worlds or are fallen creatures. But as Aslan created all worlds and has another name in our world, I think he could exercise complete control.
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Re: Calormene gods: Where did they come from?

Postby Bookwyrm » Dec 26, 2012 3:05 am

Given Bacchus and Father Christmas seem to have no problem going back and forth between our world and Narnia, I always assumed that Tash and the other Calormene deities were just other multiverse-hopping deities/cosmic entities. An alternate explanation would be that one of the vaguely referenced native Narnian gods went dark side. I like Lady A's idea of evil fallen stars also.
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Re: Calormene gods: Where did they come from?

Postby Lady Arwen » Dec 26, 2012 1:21 pm

Lilygloves wrote:Aslan is both physical as well as spiritual, seeing as how he can disappear and reappear, turn into other types of animals, appear in dreams, etc. I would assume that Tash has similar powers, although his powers would be much more limited than Aslan's.


While Tash probably had some powers like this (keeping himself hidden, for example), I think they were very much limited, mainly because, in the Last Battle, he is seen traveling north to where the stable is. Obviously, he couldn't just appear and disappear over long distances, because he had to travel. Tash is, I think, the only god that we know for sure has an existence, and Lewis even tells us how he looks.

I have sometimes wondered if Tash was also supposed to represent things like plague and pestilence, and some of the other things that are let loose in the end of Revelation. He does not seem to have any power to do anything until LB, and then it is like his arrival is a sign of the end of the world. Perhaps there might be some loose references to biblical prophecy in that.
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Re: Calormene gods: Where did they come from?

Postby coracle » Jan 04, 2013 6:00 pm

Remembering that Narnia is not a complete theology textbook, I think I would always explain the false gods and demons etc in the wider Narnian world as being similar to those in ours - they are evil spiritual beings, falsely worshipped by humans.
But where they came from? The spiritual world is not the same as the physical one, and the doors between places are different.
The people who became the Calormenes definitely looked for objects of worship, and found one that suited them.
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Re: Calormene gods: Where did they come from?

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Jul 11, 2013 4:01 am

Hermitess of Narnia wrote:I think the basic route whereby the Calormene gods came from is that the Calormenes got away from following Aslan, but still wanted deities to worship. That left them vulnerable to any of the evil creatures that could travel to Calormen, like hags and werewolfs. If the some of the evil creatures did originate in Narnia, that would explain the stories some of the Calormenes had heard about demons in the form of animals.


I think you are onto something. The WW came into Narnia because of Digory and Polly, and other humans followed. But whilst the WW had evil intent, she was still mortal, at least until she took a bite of the apple. Aslan destroyed her, but that story didn't have anything to do with Tash, and it isn't until HHB that we learn that Calormen had been little affected by the WW's reign, and they attributed this happenstance to the intervention of Tash and other gods and goddesses.

I get the impression that the Calormenes are like people everywhere who need deities to worship to explain their world. As in most pantheons of gods there has to be at least one Goddess (Zardeenah, Lady of the Night) for marriage and childbearing, and usually a chief god, like Tash, which would be worshipped, especially by the military, hoping for victory in battle. Their king, the Tisroc, was alleged to be a descendant of Tash, though I wouldn't like to think of any of my ancestors looked like Tash. :p

There is another thing that intrigues me. Both Zardeena and Tash, unlike Aslan, had an established religion. There were statues of Tash, such as in the Great Temple, where Rabadash left off his ass persona at their autumn feast. There were certain rites maidens were to perform for Zardeenah before marrying. There were certain forms of address and behaviour that were necessary to placate that God, and Emeth, probably along with others, was quite sincere in his following what he believed were the correct behaviour and precepts of that faith.

Again that was completely different from Aslan. Yes, everyone had a different idea of him. But Bree didn't really think that Aslan could be a real lion, others, even in Narnia, don't seem to think about it much, or to have a clear idea of him, and the Calormenes seem to have thought of Aslan as some sort of demon, not as a real lion. There were no statues of Aslan, no temples, and no monuments, apart from Aslan's How. Yet Tirian said there was a jewelled statue of Tash in the temple at Tashbaan. How did the Calormenes come to imagine and depict Tash's form so exactly, if none of them had seen him?

Hermitess of Narnia wrote:However, I get the impression that Tash really is a demon in the Narnian world and not based off the the White Witch's rabble because he can appear both in Narnia and in the world on the other side of the stable door.


Is it possible that Tash became a nightmare personified? At one point Tash tells Rishda Tarkaan, "Thou hast called me into Narnia, Rishda Tarkaan! Here I am! What has thou to say?" What I am trying to say, did Rishda's calling on Tash, and playing around with the Tashlan concept, actually summon Tash to come into Narnia? What do you think?
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Re: Calormene gods: Where did they come from?

Postby King_Erlian » Jul 11, 2013 5:39 am

That's an interesting thought. Did Tash exist to begin with, Calormenes (or their ancestors) saw him, and created statues that looked like him; or did the Calormenes/ancestors "make up" the image (and by implication, the character) of Tash, and then some demonic entity took on that form and "became" Tash?
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Re: Calormene gods: Where did they come from?

Postby Varnafinde » Jul 11, 2013 1:46 pm

waggawerewolf27 wrote:Is it possible that Tash became a nightmare personified? At one point Tash tells Rishda Tarkaan, "Thou hast called me into Narnia, Rishda Tarkaan! Here I am! What has thou to say?" What I am trying to say, did Rishda's calling on Tash, and playing around with the Tashlan concept, actually summon Tash to come into Narnia? What do you think?


I think you're right, and that this is exactly what happened. There's support for it in the text itself:

No one except Farsight the Eagle, who has the best eyes of all living things, noticed the face of Rishda Tarkaan at that moment. And from what Farsight saw there he knew at once that Rishda was just as surprised, and nearly frightened, as everyone else. "There goes one," thought Farsight, "who has called on gods he does not believe in. How will it be with him if they have really come?"


Rishda gets a glimpse into the Stable when Tirian throws Shift inside, and he sees Tash for the first time. And he had not expected to see any such thing ...
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Re: Calormene gods: Where did they come from?

Postby 7chronicles » Jul 14, 2013 5:22 pm

I never thought about some of the ideas that both Ithilwen and Lady Arwen brought up. Great thoughts :ymapplause:
I always had the idea that Tash was the only real god in Calormen and the other gods (Zardeena and the others) were only created and thought up by past Calormen. Sort of like in the Bible when the Israilites made a golden calf for themselves:
"When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods[a] who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” Exodus 32:1 "

and eventually as the years went by, they believed that they were real.
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The Value of myth is that it takes all the things you know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by the veil of familiarity. C.S. Lewis
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