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The Light, referred to as the Holy Light by some cultures, is a non-theistic religious form of philosophy with adherents among the Alliance and some members of the Horde. The organization closest related to the Light is the Church of the Holy Light.
The followers of the Holy Light do not worship any gods. Instead, it is a philosophy, training its followers to seek perfection within themselves. It is very much an active practice of virtue rather than a passive worship. Those who follow it closely gain spiritual awareness and guidance, allowing them to lead others.
The Holy Light teaches that there is a connection between the self and the universe. This connection manifests as what we feel through both senses and emotions. When a person is moved, through seeing something breathtaking or feeling love for another, that emotion connects him to the universe. Experiencing the emotion ensures that he exists, as something within him felt the emotions or processed the sensual awareness. Because he exists, so must the universe that gave him that feeling. From there, he can act upon the universe, causing more changes to create feeling in others. Thus, the followers of Holy Light seek to make the world a better place by being true to their own emotions.
The next step in recognizing this connection between the self and the universe is developing the goodness within and without. If one wishes for happiness, one must work to better the universe to make others happy. Experiencing the glory and beauty of the world will in turn tap into the inner beauty and glory within one's soul. However, giving in to greed, despair, and unhappiness will only darken the universe. The Holy Light is the glory of the universe reflected upon the soul and mirrored back onto itself.
Holy Light practitioners consist mainly of humans and draenei. There were once many high elves and dwarves practicing the philosophy, but their numbers have dwindled in recent years. As high elves traveled further into the darkness of their arcane magic addiction, they fell from the Holy Light. The dwarves have replaced the Light with the study of their progenitors, the titans. The night elves are too new to the Alliance and too entrenched in their own worship of Elune and the other Ancients to consider the Holy Light in large numbers, and it is unheard of to think of Horde races following the philosophy with the notable exception of a few trolls such as Zabra Hexx.
Identity of the Light Edit
While most followers of the Holy Light do not worship any gods, the power apparently does come from some sapient being, or beings, or force, known simply as the "Light" for lack of a better description. One source of the Light (though not the only one) is the race of beings known as the Naaru. During the draenei's exodus from Argus, Velen and his followers were imbued with Light-given knowledge and powers by this (otherwise unknown) race of incorporeal beings.
God, who was revered by the Clerics of Northshire Abbey during the First War, appears to be synonymous with the "Light", and just another way of describing the source of the power, though it is likely connected to one of the Creation Myths. However, "God" has lost its usage since then, as most followers of Holy Light no longer believe in any deities.
Some Knights of the Silver Hand apparently believed that, "...after death, a mage's soul would be condemned to the same pit of darkness shared by the mythical demons of old. This no matter how pure their soul might have been otherwise." Essentially, damnation. Members of the church would sing the hymn Deo Gratias, "Thanks be to God". A leading paladin, Duncan Senturus, believed that tasks and paths were often chosen by a "higher power". He believed that evil things were ungodly and devilish.
The young High General Abbendis seems to believe that the Light is some kind of sapient entity with a will, which it expresses in ways that that are not meant to be understood. She writes that it calls to her in the The Path of Redemption and The Diary of High General Abbendis, saying "Come to me...". She believes that it is able to take notice of believers' good deeds, works and prayers. She states that the force of its voice has clarity and sense of purpose. However, the entity that calls her may be something else far more sinister, as she discusses in her diary that it commands her to abandon the Scarlet Crusade to its doom, an act she believes is dishonorable.
God was the original belief in the Warcraft game-play series, as the Humans were known as devout monotheists. Strangely enough, the religion, Church of the Holy Light, became non-theistic. God would be ultimately diminished in the notion of the Warcraft universe, as well as the nature of Angels is diminished. This was probably for marketing purposes, as the Church of The Holy Light was obviously heavily based on the real-life Christian god and it could possibly off-put some people.
Most references to God, and hell, heaven etc. references were not re-used or appear to have been retconned to mean other things, so in lore, the current (Holy) Light is represented as a philosophy rather than a theistic religion (with perhaps the exception of a few individuals). See Belief retcon.
History of worshipping The Light Edit
Lordaeron was the home of the Church of the Light, influencing both Lordaeron and Quel'Thalas with its teachings. The Church birthed the Knights of the Silver Hand; but the Knights and the Holy Light were unable to stop the Scourge, as Lordaeron and the Knights fell underneath the decayed boots of the undead. The Church now has a new central location in Stormwind, but there is little in the form of organized study and worship of the Light on Kalimdor. The Draenei have also, apparently, followed the Light for over twenty-five thousand years, but little is known of how similar or different their practices may be to those of the Azerothian races. From what we have seen by a certain Draenei speaker in Shattrath, proper worship of the Light included purging infedels which is something usually associated more with the Scarlet Crusade. But we can also think that the Scarlets follow a certain form of Light worship as opposed to the popularized or "Argent" interpretation. But going into that would mean a whole debate on what The Light wants its followers to do.
Many remaining paladins who served the Silver Hand and now make their home in Kalimdor are attempting to form a new Church, but the going is slow. As the study of the Holy Light was more of a philosophical pursuit than a faith, the destroyed Church in Lordaeron resembled a library instead of a house of worship. Its texts were destroyed along with the Church, many of them burned, most of them buried under thousands of pounds of rubble. What with the wars, settling a new Alliance stronghold and dealing with frequent skirmishes, the remaining scholars and priests have found little time to work on transcribing old information into new books for initiates. Most young followers of the Holy Light learn by experience at the heel of a more experienced person instead of in libraries surrounded by texts.
Some self-appointed sages are taking up the mantle of rewriting the pontifications on the Holy Light, but there is no regulation or overseer. There are fresh looks at old ideas, as well as old ideas copied word for word by diligent old priests with perfect memories. As one would expect, sometimes these old scholars clash when someone realizes that the texts are beginning to contradict one another. This is the tension within the Church; younger priests feel the Third War gave the Holy Light a chance to renew itself just as the Alliance was renewing itself on Kalimdor, while others demand to keep the old traditions.
Secular citizens care little for the debates, but prefer that their rituals to remain the same. With everything around them changing, faith represents one of the few constants.
Soldiers of The Light Edit
It is possible that the clerics and some Knights of the Silver Hand found their basis of "God" from one of the creation myths of Azeroth, as well as knowledge of the "angels". Several references (including a reference in World of Warcraft within the in-game book "Mythology of the Titans") state that some in Azeroth believe that the universe was created by "a singular, all-powerful entity" (though several other creation myths are given as well).
Though not explicitly stated it is probable that what is called "Shadow" magic by the inhabitants of Azeroth is itself a fundamental force directly opposed to the holy light, if this were true it would go a long way in explaining the fundamental building blocks of the Warcraft world as being based on a sort of dualism, meaning that the universe was created by the fusing of two diametrically opposed impersonal forces.
Or perhaps the Light, as seen by Abbendis, is not a person but a thing that grants power and teaches morals and values. A god, by definition, doesn't have to mean THE god when used in a sentence. The nether has also been used in the place of "hell" by some characters. Warcraft III spoke of a Hell implying an afterlife for the damned, which must mean there was one for the good. That also implies a being who judges their eternal soul for the afterlife.
Sun god Edit
Other connections Edit
The perspective of the practitioners of the Holy Light may be closely linked to agathism in its philosophy, where the end result is good, even with the evil in between. It is also tied to holism, process theology , psychometrics (on oneself), humanistic psychology, transcendentalism, and theological overoptimism. The philosophy shows characteristics of real-world philosophies and religions, such as Transcendence, Pantheism, and the Society of Friends (Quakerism).