This is another of the interludes that I deleted because my editor convinced me that I would have to cut down on the info to save me from myself. It deals with the Pax Arcana in the context of a Biblical/Historical context.
Return of the Interlude
IF HUMANITY IS A RACE, WHO’S WINNING?
Fair warning – I’m going to touch on matters which will involve briefly discussing parts of the Bible. If you have developed that entirely sensible habit of leaving the room the moment politics or religion are mentioned and just want to get on with this survival manual that I’ve thinly disguised as a story, by all means, feel free to skip this interlude. You won’t hurt my feelings. But if you’re curious as to where the spell I mentioned – the Pax Arcana – came from and why, I am going to try to break it down.
The first step you have to take in coming to terms with the Pax Arcana is accepting one simple fact: there are species that are older and more powerful than humankind. This is not a new idea. The oldest recorded documents tend to be religious in nature, and every single ancient culture on this planet believed that there were other races with abilities beyond our understanding. Sometimes these other races ruled us, sometimes they hid among us, and sometimes they lived apart. Sometimes these races are broadly referred to as gods, or false gods, or dragons, or spirits, or celestials, or demons, and sometimes they have more specific names like deva or naga or dragon or djinn, but this belief in other sentient species was universal.
Usually when I say that all ancient religions make references to beings who are older than mankind, the only arguments I get are from a certain type of American Christian who has some fuzzy idea from vacation Bible school that God made Adam first before all other creatures in order to rule them; therefore, man is the oldest and most powerful species in the world according to the Bible, the end, amen. But even if you’re not atheist or agnostic or a religion other than Christian, it’s not really that simple.
For one thing, the second chapter of Genesis does indeed say that Man was created before any other animal (I use rhw Ozford Annotated Bible, by the way). But in the first chapter of Genesis, the Bible also says that Man was created on the last day, after every other creature had already been made. So the idea that man is the oldest creature besides God is at the very least debatable. And if God made man first before all other creatures, where were the angels? Why was Satan already around to tempt Adam and Eve? That’s when people start hemming and hawing and making distinctions about “mortal” creatures and “immortal” creatures. But if you’re going to start quibbling, what constitutes “mortal”? Where would Fae and Djinn fall in all this?
With all of that in mind, consider Genesis 6:4, which refers to the Nephilim, a race which was different from mankind yet similar enough to mate with humans. “In those days, when the sons of gods had intercourse with the daughters of men and got children by them, the Nephilim were on earth” (this is from the New English Bible, the Oxford annotated version). It’s not entirely clear whether these Nephalim are the “sons of gods” mentioned or the children that these “sons of gods” got with mortal women, but the passage goes on to say that the offspring of these Nephilim were often heroes. Since the monstrous and mighty Goliath is later said to be one of these offspring, and God helps David kill him, I think we can safely assume that ”Hero” doesn’t mean “Good” so much as ”Powerful.“
Now among people who read the Bible closely, there has been a lot of scholarly argument about what these Nephilim are. Some experts think that since Goliath descended from them, the Nephilim are some of those giants the Bible occasionally mentions. Other scholars refer to passages about angels feeling lust for mortals from the Book of Enoch in the Apocrypha and believe that the Nephilim are the product of fallen angels mating with humans. In fact, some people I know believe that all monsters are the result of fallen angels mating with humans.
Rationalist scholars argue that the Nephilim are descended from Cain – they translate “gods” into “God” with a capital G and say that the Nephilim are Hebrew, but they are referred to as different than human because Cain was exiled from humanity. Of course, this doesn’t explain who Cain mated with in the first place or why these Nephilim were more powerful than ordinary men. Whoever translated the epic saga of Beowulf into English believed that the Land of Nod, east of Eden, was a land of monsters and that Cain mated with them.
In any case, some of these scholars argue from a passionate conviction that every passage in the Bible is literally true, and some from a belief that before they learned how to write from the Babylonians, the ancient Hebrews used teaching stories to symbolically condense the wisdom of their vast and complex history. I, personally, am content to note the following: according to the Bible, something powerful lived alongside humans, maybe even passed for human, but was not human. And it multiplied.
My point is not that I just referred to scripture so you have to believe everything I say – feel free to believe that monsters are a metaphor for the darkness in the human soul or believe that every word of the Bible is literally true. Genesis 6:4 is a cryptic reference. It could refer to all of the theories I mentioned, or none of them. “Nephilim” could be a slang term referring to the supernatural in general. After all, the Bible also specifically mentions leviathans – whatever they are – and witches and demons and giants and dragons. If you actually translate Hebrew, you will also find references to mysterious races such as the Emim (the dreadful ones), the Rephaim (the dead ones), and the Anakim (the long necked ones).
My point is that no one has all the answers. There are gaps and mysteries and seeming contradictions in every history and every belief system, and it is in those gaps that dark things and miracles dwell.
It is in those gaps that the Pax Arcana originated.