In the Otherfaith, each of the four gods exists in opposition to each other. As lovers and competitors, they hold the world together for the Otherfaith – and in the tension between the gods Clarene and Dierne we are able to see the paradoxical nature inherent in the faith.
The Clarene and Dierne are the foremost gods in the Otherfaith, but they stand in near-constant conflict. The Clarene is the oldest of the gods, tied to the 1300s, while the Dierne is the youngest. Their eternal struggle comes not only from their disparate ages; the Dierne is a heavenly entity, a fallen star that still bears celestial energies, whereas the Clarene is a grounded god, lacking even the wings that the other gods wear. The Dierne is childlike, but the Clarene is a fully matured adult, capable and cunning.
We see these gods’ conflict explicitly in mythology. It’s stated about the Clarene, “She didn’t like [the Dierne].” Their tension is interpersonal, dealing with the mythic fallout of failed relationships and hopes, as well as theological. We see in their epithets, too, their differences – the Dierne referred to as ‘child’, ‘son, or ‘prince’ where the Clarene is called ‘mother’, ‘mistress’, and ‘King’.
It would seem the two were fated opposites, as much as midnight is to noonday.
That, however, is only the shallowest of understandings. As is pointed out in an article on symbolism , “The two share a wide variety of traits: strong sexuality, a tendency toward violence, retribution aspects, luxury, and innovation and an eye to the future.” This is hardly the only similarity – the two are both called ‘dark’ or ‘dark-hearted’, and they both possess mirrors that appear frequently in their imagery. They both birth ‘monsters’ such as chimeras and manticores, yet are both absent parents. They’re fertile, sexy gods that spread their line where ever they go.
They are able to put aside their hostility for mythic purposes, as their shared retribution aspects show. The Clarene makes weaponry, and the Dierne utilizes it, often hunting down those who violate the laws of the gods on behalf of the older god. Their innovation leads to better weaponry and advancement between them, and their competitiveness only fuels the fires of invention in the Otherfaith.
Their domains have much crossover also. The Dierne is a god of rebellion, and his rebellion necessitates death and the shedding of failed systems. The Clarene presides over death, her sacred duty to intern the dead coming into play as the Dierne brings ruin to the land. The mirrors they possess swallow souls inside and rebirth new beings, reflecting the true self of all who look within. Those in the Otherfaith have to confront the mirrors both gods hold to be able to move onto leadership roles in the religion.
Beyond all this, even, their greatest similarity is found in where they differ most. The Dierne is a celestial deity, a meteor crashed to earth, where the Clarene is the cultivator of the land. They are both starry, their dark hair and hearts said to be full of starlight. The Clarene glows with an unnatural dark light, the stars of the universe said to light where ever she walks. The Dierne glows with undying starlight, all the colors of the galaxies gathered in his body. They are gods of pure energy, capturing in themselves part of the explosive big bang, the whirl of planets as they crash into creation. The Clarene does not bear wings, but with Dierne lighting the way, she builds spaceships to delve into the darkness of the edge.
The gods of the Otherfaith are in conflict yet in intimate love, and the Dierne and Clarene are no different. They try to slaughter each other while at the same time working together, and their differences highlight more their similarity. The gods are closer than they would wish, tied up in each other as the earth is in space. They fight not because one is of the earth and one is of heaven, but because they are very much the same.
Often, we expect gods to be above such pettiness. Powerful entities controlling the very elements of the world (or so we believe) should be above bickering over who gets better pickings. The Otherfaith is built on this tension, however. It is built on trembling threads connecting the gods to each other, and the gods to us. The faith is structured on that thin line where gods like the Clarene and Dierne come together and fall apart.
The Clarene and Dierne share something so fundamental – being star-full and bursting with raw potential – but interpret and enact that core in different ways. The Dierne is the constantly blooming young man who runs across the world, winged and bright eyed, wooing and striking people without care for consequence. The Clarene is far more grounded, watching the world and walking the fields of possibility slowly, her blows always made after every last ripple is understood. For the Otherfaith, these gods show us the warped nature of our own world – and of ourselves. We are able to see in this conflict our own internal conflict. Whether the gods reflect our pettiness or we reflect theirs is irrelevant.
These gods do not compete for us. We are not caught in an eternal war between good and evil. Instead, the Otherfaith values the middle path, the space between the tension. We are taught to walk the wavering line. We learn from the gods where those lines are, and we learn from how they succeed (or fail) to balance that struggle how to handle our own confusing, twisted up lives.
[written for a college class, citations omitted; prompt: Compare & Contrast.]
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