2.7.4: Is there religion in Randland?
"By the Light and my hope of salvation and rebirth, I swear to serve you in whatever way you require for as long as you require, or may the Creator's face turn from me forever and darkness consume my soul." [TFOH: 1, Fanning The Sparks, 39]
The answer is yes, but not much. It is pretty secular. It may be closer to many pagan religions or in some cases to Judaism rather than Christianity. However, like Christianity, there is a dualism between the Light (goodness) and the Creator (God) who are often spoken of separately and together. Like Judaism, burials are as simple as possible to encourage return to the earth [TGH: 10, The Hunt Begins, 151]. Like the religions of old merry England, the maypole is a fertility ritual [TEOTW: 1, An Empty Road, 8-9]. Like Catholicism, children are taught catechism [TEOTW: 1, An Empty Road, 12]. Wisdoms act as priestesses, in some respects. Like Judaism, marriage is a public announcement to the community [TSR: 53, The Price of a Departure, 618].
This does not even begin to touch on the religious aspects of the Aes Sedai. They have novices (like nuns), they are considered to be "servants of all" and the rituals of acceptance and joining the sisterhood are rigid with many religious overtones. They are expected to serve the Light and the will of the Creator when they join the Aes Sedai. They are almost Buddhist in certain ways: in particular the view of the time serpent, the wheel of time and the age lace. The Children of Light are another quasi-religious organization, in this case a religious organization in turmoil with inappropriate goals and methods. Finally, we have the Tinkers, a religious cult more or less who follow the early Christian/Calvinist 'Way of the Leaf', a cross between pacifism and acceptance of fate [TEOTW: 27, Shelter from the Storm, 346]. -- Erica
OTOH, in Randland, the Creator is. The DO is. No one disbelieves in their existence; they are there. They are far more concrete and present in everyday life than our God(s) is/are in our lives. If you cross the Blight to Shayol Ghul, you will find a mountain with a hole in its side and evil leaking out. Thus, many of the rituals and other trappings of organized religion are unnecessary in Randland. Just because we don't see worship going on very often doesn't mean it's not being done. Scratch a Randlander, and you'll find a quite religious person 9 times out of 10, would be my guess. There just isn't quite the need to formalize it the way we do, except on occasions which, by their nature, are already formal... i.e. funerals, weddings, harvest, etc. Just my humble opinion. -Jocelyn
Randlanders pray to the Creator for favors, such as relief from the drought. [LOC: Prologue, The First Message, 36]
RJ's take on it, from a Compuserve chat, July 1996:
This is a world where what might be called the proofs of religion are self-evident all the time. It seemed to me there was no necessity for the trappings of religion which by and large are to reinforce us in our faith.. and to convince others... if your beliefs are made concrete and manifest around you at any given time there is not the need for that.