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.