5 Things To Remember When Creating a New Religion

What Is Mythology?

There are many definitions, but the one I’m addressing today is:

Mythology is folklore and legends that tell how things came to be.

Note: We often think of pantheons of gods: the Greek, Egyptian, Roman… but divinity isn’t required.

5 Things To Remember When Creating a New Religion (or Mythology)

1. Steal from the dead

  • It’s less culturally appropriative to steal from dead cultures, rather than current ones.

2. Remember what you’re doing

  • You’re writing a book – you only need to invent as much as is necessary for your story.

3. Beliefs influence societies

  • When world building, think about how the society’s beliefs will influence their culture and politics.

4. Remember people are different.

  • You shouldn’t invent new religions and state that All Followers of X are this and All Followers of Y are that. It’s not realistic.

5. Remember the different types of religions.

Most fit in one (or more) of the 4 categories below.

  1. Polytheistic
    • Greek, Egyptian, Norse, etc. Mythology tells how they’re all family, their wars, trials, and tribulations.
  2. Pantheistic
    • God is everywhere and has infinite faces. Everything is part of an all-encompassing, immanent God.
  3. Monotheistic
    • One supreme god-figure who is responsible for all creation
  4. Animistic
    • All things have their own spirit.

Even with all these tips, it’s hard to create something truly unique that doesn’t come across to readers as analogous to a religion they’re already aware of.

That can be handy, because you don’t have to explain as much.

The challenge lies in fighting assumptions.


Best of luck. Do you have any tips?

This post was derived from the titular panel at WorldCon75, with panelists Tarja Rainio, Kathryn Sullivan, Michael Underwood, and moderator Ju Honisch.

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