Posted Boomtime, Confusion 63 YOLD 3173
Welcome to REL 215, Chaos Worship in the Warhammer Universe. Yes, it’s a fictional universe. Yes, it’s a frivolous topic. So what? We will be considering both the Fantasy and 40k elements, with much of the history being devoted to the 40,000 versions, and much of the actual worship devoted to the Fantasy setting.
In order to understand the Lords of the Warp, we must first understand the metaphysics of the Warhammer settings, specifically the nature of the Immaterium. (I will be using the terms ‘Warp,’ ‘Immaterium,’ and ‘Empyrean’ interchangeably). Every sentient creature has what is called a ‘soul.’ This ‘soul’ is, in fact, the psychic imprint made by consciousness on the Warp, which coexists with the material world. It is less like an extension, and more like a reflection, in that is isn’t a separate entity, it is the accumulated emotional impressions of the conscious entity. It is believed that at death, the sentient being’s ‘soul’ breaks free of the bonds of the material, and is loosed into the Warp. It is there effectively destroyed by being separated into its constituent parts, with small flickers of emotion floating out into the Warp at large. In times before the widespread expansion of thinking beings, the Warp was a calm place, a smooth, flowing ocean of undisturbed energy. As more and more thinking species came into existence, their emotional influences stirred up the Immaterium, and caused it to become more turbulent, and less coherent.
Over time, this turbulence began to sort itself out, to some degree. Think of it as different liquids in a cup. Those of greater density fall to the bottom, those of less density rise to the top. Fear began to coalesce here, anger there, and love in a third place. It is still a roiling mess, as more imprints are being brought all the time, and it is always in motion, so it never sorts itself out completely, it just gains large tempests of singular emotion.
As these tempests get larger and larger, they eventualy have influence on the Warp-scape around them, bending it to their particular emotion, and creating smaller, related eddies. They gain a semblance of purpose, of meaning. As this illusion becomes stronger, sentients notice patterns in their interactions with it. Doing it this way tends to kill better, doing it that way makes it grow better. They ascribe these to various gods, and this introduces consciousness itself to the Warp. The tempests begin to think for themselves, advance agendas based on their driving force, and consume eddies close by. The Chaos Gods are born.
The problem should be apparent. The Gods of the Immaterium now have agendas, and can conflict with each other. The Warp was a dangerous sea, with unpredictable currents and unexpected tempest. It rapidly becomes a warground. The Lords of Chaos fight and bicker over anything and everything, and the warp is now completely unapproachable. It was once dangerous in an alien, unthinking way, but it is now actively malicious, and completely beyond control.
That ends this week’s lecture. Next time, we will be discussing the birthing of the Gods themselves, and their basic natures and thoughts.