Sorry I posted this page a bit late in the morning!
Here is a note about the ceremony that’s taking place in the story right now, for anyone that might be a bit confused. So to set the stage, just know that there are two types of gods in this culture, and these gods manifest in two very different ways. It depends on the type of god.
So. first, there are five high gods. These are the central gods that really power the entire religion and control all of society. Kayli is one of the five high gods. Now Kayli doesn’t answer to anybody, just to be clear. She’s not doing the dirty work of a King or a ruling class. But she does answer to the god she carries within her, and she has been trained since childhood to suppress all of her own desires and vanish as an individual, so she can become the God. Technically she is one of the most powerful people in her community, but she would laugh if you said this to her. Because in her mind, she has no power. The god within her has power, and she has to destroy her own spirit so the god can shine through her unobscured. There are four other people who have been trained to channel high gods, and they stay gods all the time. These four along with Kayli run the society according to their gods, rather than their desires. They make up a weird kind of spiritual ruling class and their line isn’t entirely decided by inheritance or money, it’s decided by who among the upper class children of the kingdom share the most similarities with the god they would embody. So the old high god will scout out a child who is destined to carry the god and they have a series of tests that confirm their eligibility.
High gods are gods all the time, ALL the time. The god enters into their body when their master dies, and they remain a god until they die.
But there’s a second set of gods. These are regional gods, household gods, ancestor gods….they are the gods of various local cultures that all got subsumed into the larger religion when the kingdom consolidated thousands of years ago. And there are hundreds of them. Some of these gods are highly significant to the religion like the god they are worshiping in this ceremony, And some of these gods are just as esteemed as the high gods, but they are not high gods . And though these gods can inhabit the body of an individual for a certain amount of time, they can’t do so permanently. So in this scene the young apprentice is becoming a god for about twenty minutes. The god enters him when he dances and wears the mask.
As I’ve mentioned before this tradition of masking that I’m drawing on for this comic is hugely inspired by various religions on the African continent. Now I want to give people more information about these artistic traditions because they are completely amazing. So I’m writing a massive essay about the significance of African Masks that I’ll try to post on Monday with the new page. I want to draw on this incredibly sophisticated and beautiful artistic tradition but I want to do so in a respectful way where I acknowledge my sources and my inspiration. I want to use these ideas without co-opting a culture and hopefully citing my sources and talking about why I esteem the artistic tradition that inspired me will contextualize this a little bit. So if you are interested in some of my sources keep an eye open come Monday