Idolatry, divinity & the debasement of dead kings

Eleanor Konik

Eleanor Konik

Professionally, I teach world history. In my downtime, I enjoy combining storytelling with my love of sharing obscure history and science.


Note: Chronologically, this story takes place before Ritual, which originally came out in November. Previous stories are never necessary to understand the current one, but they do all connect if you'd like to poke back through the archives!

Juliha prided herself on her religious acumenโ€”until the Realmwalker crossed the rift between worlds, stared at the empty shelves in the Tower He had built His people, and sighed.

Unable to refuel his magic from the idols heโ€™d taught them to forge, he was forced to use their souls.


Confession time! I minored in Religious Studies in college, but until recently, the concept of idolatry always confused me. I think part of the problem is that it's sort of a broad concept. Religious icons, pop culture icons, iconography, and iconoclasm are all connected concepts that tend to get muddy around the edges.

It's inherently a religious concept, but I first came across it in fantasy stories. Many fantasy novels involve a great deal of idol worship on the part of polytheistic cultures. It tends not to be used in a pejorative sense in the books I read during my formative years, so that's not how I think of it.

But the Spaniards who colonized South America definitely meant it in a contemptuous way. They considered idolatry to be not only primitive but morally reprehensible, mostly due to Christian theology.

There's a whole "thou shalt not worship the golden calf" philosophy in Christian theology that, being honest, I first learned about from Dogma (a great movie if you haven't seen it). It comes up in other contexts related to Christianity, though, since arguments over idolatry are one of the primary points of conflict between the Orthodox and Protestant churches. Do statuettes of the saints count as "idols"? Does praying beneath one count as "worship"? If so, is that placing the worship of an idol before God, or beneath?

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