Archive for March, 2011

The Mask of Inanna – Season 2 Teaser

Hey folks! We’re planning to start Season 2 of The Mask of Inanna on June 12, 2011.

Here’s a tidbit of what you’ll hear then, straight from the Allen’s mouth!

Modern History of the Church of Inanna

Again, SPOILERS for people who haven’t listened to Episode 5.

Here is the history of the Church of Inanna from the early 20th century to present. This is part of the treatment I wrote to explain the show to Neil Marsh, and follows the discussion I presented in the previous blog post.

Listeners of the show should be interested to read this, as it explains the period between the 1950′s portions of the show, and the present. (This was originally presented in an episode which we are not planning to produce.)


The Church  of Inanna has had three major crises in the twentieth century. The first was World War I, in which many of its members were called to war. A vast number of the Church’s men will killed, and those who returned home came with great trauma. These men used their inner-power to heal themselves slowly by doing works for Inanna, and these works kept the Church alive until the next great crisis.

When it became clear that the United States was about to involve itself in the Second World War, the Church’s members feared their numbers would be thinned as badly as in the previous World War. They pledged great works to Inanna in advance, and the members who were not called to fight prepared a great Prayer to devote to Her. As part of the initial pact between the Church and Inanna in the 19th century, the Church was granted the Mask of Inanna, which was similar to the Mask of Warka (http://edition.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/09/23/sprj.nilaw.warka.mask/). This mask was a Me (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Me_%28mythology%29) which contained the wisdom of many rituals. One was a ritual Prayer  similar to the Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai (“A Gathering of One Hundred Supernatural Tales”), in which Inanna might be pleased with one hundred nights of reinterpretations of Her favorite tales. In return for this devotion, the practitioners begged Inanna (in the final story) to spare their men overseas the sin of their military service, so that the Church might continue and the soldiers might have the chance to create great works for Her after the war.

Pleased by the Prayer, Inanna sent demons (from the Inanna descent myth) to watch over and protect their men from harm. The demons came in many forms, sought the hearts of those around the men and took those who intend any ill will towards their men to the underworld. However, when the war was ended, the men returned home shell-shocked by both the war and of witnessing the demons who protected them at the cost of terror.

Matt Lerner was one of these young men. He became a heavy drinker to handle his stress. Isabel Huddleston was a friend of his, who had lost her husband in the war before the Prayer had been finished. Both were instrumental in the formation of the third great crisis.

In 1952 when the draft was resumed for soldiers in the Korean War, the congregation decided to prepare a pre-emptive Prayer again (having almost Pavlovian devotion to this response to upcoming war). However, the Inanna community had become greatly decentralized after the Second World War as families had split away to find new opportunities for work. As well, many of the soldiers were still demoralized and hadn’t had time to pursue their works of devotion and to make peace with themselves. So they decided that the next Prayer would be their Work, and that they would issue it over the radio so that all the various Church members could participate in the Prayer. The show was called AfterDark, and hosted by Leonard Allen (discussed next section). However, 93 episodes in, the Church of Mammon seduced Bob Stroud, business partner of Allen, by offering a fast-track to its inner ring in return for stealing the Prayer’s scripts and starting a competing show, essentially putting AfterDark off the air and stealing Inanna’s Prayer for their own. Mammon, being a trickster, enjoyed this and rewarded His followers justly.

After losing Allen, Matt, Isabel and rest of the town were thoroughly demoralized. Fortunately, few members were called to service. The others used prophecy and illusion to avoid service as best as they could. However, coming to terms with 1950′s consumer culture was both a boon to the community, who developed thriving niche business, and a curse, from increased pressure and scrutiny from the other families around them, and from the increasing amount of information spread through media, which threatened to expose them as a “cult”. With communist and socialist hysteria growing, the congregation feared discovery. When their children began to question why their parents were becoming so secretive and strict, they began to use illusion and rudimentary mind control on their children to keep them quiet.

David Lerner was Matt’s son, and Jessie Huddleston was Isabel’s daughter. When they were in their teens in the 60′s, they were stressed, depressed and physically abused. They rebelled as best as they could. Jessie ran from home and David invoked the name of Allen on his parents, turning Allen’s memory into his pet boogeyman to torment them. David began to spend more time with a demon that had returned home with his father, a large amorphous tar-like blob that the community named the “Speed Bump”, and learned basic communication with it. Matt was deathly afraid of the Speed Bump and David also used this to his advantage. David scared his parents into sending him to college, around the time that Jessie returned home from San Francisco, burned out in her early twenties. Jessie’s experiences with hallucinogens had opened her eyes to the vast number of other beings that surrounded her, and she sought balance with them in the Church. David, on the other hand, returned from college and preached a renewal movement, emphasizing that the Church had to adapt to the modern world and that real-paying work was not contradictory with worship of Inanna. He started a schism that split off a large portion of the Church under his leadership.

Near the end of the 1980′s, David’s renewal movement had floundered. Rituals failed to produce any response from Inanna and awakened no inner-power within the practitioners. Many of the congregation, including David, had lost their jobs and were living on savings or in poverty. Dejected, David and his new wife and daughter returned to the main Church and sought to reconnect. Jessie had become High Priestess by then but accepted David back as a High Priest, so that the two branches of the Church might reconnect. This was necessary as the main Church had lost many members to the avarice of the eighties, and was on the verge of collapse itself. Integration was slow and painful for everyone involved, but the Church continued to minister to its congregation, which consisted mostly of close friends to David and Jessie. The remnants of the Church moved to an enclave on Sea Robin Island, where they could practice in peace, be within driving distance of major New England cities, and defend themselves against other competing inner-power polytheist Churches.

In 2003, the Iraq War began. David’s daughter and many of the other children had not grown up as members of the inner ring – rather, they had relied on their parent’s inner-power to help them study, and so forth. With pressure from their friends and the loss of family time with their parents, they were scared about their own job prospects and knew too many of David’s renewal movement who hadn’t gotten back on their feet. They doubted that worship of Inanna could support them in the depression of the 1990′s and the growth and crash of the tech sector in the 2000′s. With long traditions of military service in their families, they joined the Armed Forces for the training, to do good in a struggling nation, and because they viewed their parents as weak, and feared the same weakness existed within themselves.

It is here when the show begins.

History for the Inner-Power Polytheist Churches

WARNING – SPOILERS FOR FOLKS WHO HAVEN’T HEARD EPISODE 5.

 

Here is a write-up I made to explain the history behind the various churches (to Inanna, Mammon, Artemis, Odin, etc.) discussed in The Mask of Inanna. I did a lot of research into world religions to develop this treatment.


The inner-power polytheist Churches are faiths built around the view that the universe is a social balance of powers, and that a personal relationship with one or more of these powers can awaken “inner-power” which leads to knowledge of both invocation (power over one’s psychological self) and evocation (power over the physical self and world). Like the Deists, they believe that the Gods speak in revelations which are particular to individuals, but while the Deists intended this to be an attack on mono- or polytheistic cosmologies, the inner-power polytheists accept that dogma can be a necessary evil, as well as a reflection of the collected revelations from multiple individuals in communion with a deity. Communication is not straightforward – one will never hear a deity speaking English, but Their Will will be known in one way or another. Inner-power polytheists generally form a pact with their deity early in the formation of their faith, which settles into dogma after a single generation. Without skill in the art of divine interpretation (described by Michael Harner in “The Way of the Shaman”), an inner-power polytheist faith may not survive into its second generation. Theories abound in the true nature of deities – individuals or aspects of a greater whole – but certain things are known, such as that they can be very attracted to a particular physical location, whether or not it has any worshippers.

Inner-power polytheist faiths are generally defined by their “inner” ring, a circle of devotees who practice the skills of worship, counseling to other members, and inner-power. Usually, the inner-powers studied are intertwined with the creed of the faith itself. Inner-power rarely is manifest in monotheist faiths, as their focus is on divine love and compassion, and inner-power contradicts many of their tenets with its worldliness. Even Pentecostals who deliberately call for invocation and evocation from the Baptism of the Holy Spirit rarely awaken inner-power, since they do so in such a haphazard manner that can’t be replicated any better than hitting a spot on a wall while blindfolded.

However, a great contradiction exists within inner-power polytheist faiths. All faiths want to grow and spread. But inner-power polytheist faiths require the existence of an inner ring, and access to this ring is limited by the social interactions of the human animal. Essentially, the human propensity for drama keeps them deliberately small.

The practitioners of inner-power polytheism would generally refer to Gerald B. Gardner as “one of us” with a hint of sorrow and condescension.

The Church of Inanna is a faith from the Modernist branch of the inner-power polytheism Churches. As a Modernist faith, it is one of many formed to reconcile the discovery of scientific principles with inner-power – seeking to understand the rules behind inner-power. Starting in post-Civil War America, this faith is a reaction against industrialism, and promotes the idea of human dignity, that the soul is best able to thrive and illuminate the world when it is not confined to the despotic will of others.

While its origins are not fully known even by its congregation, this Church was first recognized in the Chicago area in several communities of immigrant tradesmen and artists whose families who heavily involved in factory life. There are theories that these people were descendants of Swedenborgian heresy cults (who did not believe in the Swedenborg principle of personal survival after death, but that the “spirits” contacted through mediums were something else entirely), or from the practitioners of old-world faiths whose practices failed to adapt to the rise of industrialism – perhaps some of both is true.

The congregation of the Church of Inanna is divided into two groups – outer and inner rings. There are separate services for each, and the High Priest or Priestess must support both sets. However, the progression from outer to inner ring occurs when a member of the outer ring can demonstrate the awakening of inner-power in themselves. Thus, unlike other inner-power polytheist Churches, progression to the inner ring is not limited by the whims of existing members (as it is in the Church of Mammon, for instance). Inner-power for members of the Church of Inanna generally manifests as perseverance, increased creativity (the elimination of ‘creative blocks’ so to speak), and in the physical realm, illusions (even melding illusions with reality). Inanna Herself is a Goddess of great passions (other faiths refer to her as “the Wild Maiden”) and encourages Her practitioners to be similarly passionate.

One of the Church’s prime tenets is that industrial work is industrial life; you cannot have one without the other. Thus, members are expressly forbidden from mass production, or mass retail jobs – anything without a significant amount of personal flexibility. Thus, most office work, fast food and production line jobs are off-limits, unless for a small, understanding company. Thus, practitioners are generally limited financially and are inexorably tied to the inner-power which allows them to produce more than the average person and finds them new clients when work is low. The only exception to this rule is military service, as Inanna is the Goddess of War. (This avoids an irreconcilable contradiction such as the one in the story of the general in the Bhagavad Gita who was both a Brahman, for whom violence was forbidden, and a military leader.)  Mercenary work is acceptable but carries the same stigma, wherein it is not as honorable as protecting one’s homeland.

A contradiction in the Church exists since, in the 1920′s, the Church received a great influx of cash from one of its practitioners who had inherited a fortune from his family’s corporate profits. Unfortunately, most inner-power polytheist faiths have had trouble surviving into the twenty-first century without a similar influx of cash, and it is accepted as part of the nature of worldly life.