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The Old Religion describes the customs and way of life belonging to the magic users of the kingdom. It is based on the philosophy of a sacred balance between all people, creatures, and elements of the universe which must be eternally preserved. At the heart of the religion is the balance between life and death itself.
The structure of the Old Religion remains unknown, but brief revelations indicate that it was lead by the High Priests and High Priestesses, who were among the most talented and dedicated practitioners of magic. Of great significance to the Old Religion is the Isle of the Blessed, a place at which numerous feats of magic occurred.The Old Religion is structured and remains unknown.
History and PracticesEdit
In the times of the Old Religion the High Priestesses would gather on Samhain Eve on the Isle of the Blessed where they could sacrifice a living human being to tear the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead. They also used dark magic to summon from the depths of the Underworld the Fomorroh, a creature they revered which would allow them to take over the minds of their enemies, binding them to their will.
During their war with ancient kings, the High Priestesses of the Old Religion took the blood of a serving girl and mixed it with the blood of a snake, thereby creating powerful monsters that wrought destruction upon male enemies. However, the Lamia proved to be more dangerous than their creators imagined; the High Priestesses lost control of them and the Lamia continued to kill, unwilling and unable to stop.
Following the practice of the Old Religion, in the event of an unjust death being brought to one of their own, the Druids would construct shrines to appease and bring rest to restless and tormented spirits, but if this shrine were to be disturbed, the troubled spirit would possess the individual who did so and seek revenge for their death.The probably once peaceful but later corrupted existence of the Old Religion in Camelot changed following the death of King Uther Pendragon's wife, Ygraine de Bois, in childbirth after he asked Nimueh, a High Priestess of the Old Religion, of a favour to use magic to give his barren wife a son, Arthur. Nimueh claimed that the death of someone in exchange for creating a life was necessary to protect the balance of life and death in accordance with the ways of the Old Religion. Uther therefore blamed all magic for his wife's death and carried out a terrible retribution against its practitioners (Excalibur). While some followers gave up using magic or pretended to have given up using magic, such as Gaius, others refused to convert. This led to the execution of probably thousands of followers of the old ways. Notable victims of the purge were Gregore and Jaden, friends of Gaius who practised black magic, and the parents of Edwin Muirden, whose deaths led to his facial disfigurement when he tried to rescue them from the flames (A Remedy to Cure All Ills).
Known High Priests and High Priestesses Edit
- Nimueh - a very powerful witch who was killed by Merlin. †
- Morgause - a sorceress smuggled to the Priestesses as an infant. †
- Morgana - a very powerful witch and also a High Priestess of the Triple Goddess and last of her kind. †
- Alator - a Catha warrior and High Priest of the Old Religion. †
Significant Entities Edit
The Cailleach - the gatekeeper to the Spirit world - is an immortal being who appeared after Morgana sacrificed Morgause on the Isle of the Blessed, thus tearing the Veil between the living world and the Spirit world. The Cailleach appeared to take no side, simply demanding payment where it was due and revealing prophetic information to both Morgana and Merlin.
The Triple Goddess - is presumably the main deity of the Old Religion, though her role is not expanded upon.
Despite the ban of magic in Camelot, followers of the Old Religion still existed. A significant minority of these people appeared to use dark magic with the intent in acting revenge on the king due to the loss of loved ones during the Great Purge. Among these were Edwin Muirden, Tauren and his band of renegade sorcerers.
Other notable followers were Gaius, though he relinquished the practices of the Old Religion while still maintaining a great respect and knowledge of it. The Great Dragon and other surviving sentient magical creatures are examples of creatures who continue to sustain the Old Religion.
- Alator †
- Julius Borden †
- Morgana Pendragon †
- Morgause †
- Vivienne †?
- Great Dragon
- Nimueh †
- Mary Collins †
- Thomas Collins †
- Aulfric Tir-Mor †
- Sophia Tir-Mor †
- Sidhe elder †
- Grunhilda †
- Aglain †
- Balinor †
- Edwin Muirden †
- Jaden Muirden †
- Gregor Muirden †
- Cerdan †
- Cornelius Sigan †
- Lady Catrina/Troll †
- Jonas †
- Medhir †
- Knights of Medhir
- The Fisher King †
- Blood Guard
- High Priestesses†
- Gilli's father †
- Balinor's father †
- Balinor's grandfather †
- Tauren †
The route of "Old Religion" is not specifically mentioned in either the show or the legends. Historically, the Old Religion appears to be a reference to the Celtic religion that existed in Britain prior to the Roman invasion during the 1st century AD. Like the Old Religion in the series, it had a complex system of gods, mythology and religious leaders, who appear to have been the druids. The religion more or less died out after the adoption of Christianity by the Roman Empire. Subsequently the British developed their own version - Celtic Christianity. This may be the "new religion" within Albion.
The three figures of the Triple Goddess are usually described as "The Maiden Huntress", "The Mother Goddess" and "The Death Crone", each of which symbolises both a separate stage in the female life cycle and a phase of the moon, and often rules one of the realms of earth, heavens and the underworld.
In the legends Arthur's religion varies. Some retellings describe King Arthur as a pagan king, very tolerant towards differing religions as Merlin is often referred to as being a druid. Arthur would also have both pagans and christians in his army. In other versions, Arthur is seen as having Christian leanings, sometimes influenced by his wife, Guinevere, to the extent where he threatens and eradicates the existence of paganism in Britain.