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What is the difference between Ascension and Godhood

Page history last edited by D'rek 13 years, 7 months ago

'Ascendant' is a general term vaguely referring to powerful beings, whether it be physical power, force of will or some other form of extreme efficacy.

'God' is a term for any entity that is worshipped (or that was previously worshipped in the past).


Confusion between the two terms easily occurs because many gods are also Ascended beings - powerful people who developed a following that eventually became worship of the Ascendant, such as Shadowthrone. Likewise, there are also many gods who's physical entity is not a powerful Ascendant, or who may have no physical manifestation at all, such as Grallin. Typically, the gods with a weak or non-existant physical manifestation are regional or cultural-specific gods, not worshipped as widely as those who are also powerful Ascendants.


It is important to note whether an entity is considered a God or not may be circumstantial if the being is only worshipped by a small group or only in some regions. [Minor Spoilers, Highlight to Reveal:] For example, Anomander Rake is not considered by most to be a God, but is considered a God in Bluerose where he is worshipped as the Black-Winged Lord. Likewise, Icarium is worshipped only in Cabal and Dessembrae only by the Cult of Dessembrae. To their followers, these entities are gods, but not to most people.




Steven Erikson: are all gods ascendants? If you mean ascendant in the general sense of being very powerful, then yes. If you mean ascendant in terms of progression, then there are exceptions. Most of the animistic ones, for example (the totemic, tribal ones) derived from the act of worship, or the attribution of significance to a particular place.

(Q and A with malazanempire No 2 (2003))



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Comments (2)

Silencer said

at 6:44 am on Feb 21, 2010

Erm, just one point, regards your spoilers.

He's only not a god, even though he's worshipped in Lether, because he rejects their worship. Otherwise he would still be a god. The point that people are only worshipped by their followers is not strictly true, either - people know about the Lord of Tragedy, but just because they don't worship him doesn't mean they don't consider him a god.
There are major and minor gods in each culture - some are more prominent than others, to different individuals and to groups.
If someone has enough worshippers, they are a god, period, *unless* they reject godhood. They might not be known in other parts of the world, even, but that doesn't mean they aren't a god (see the gods of Lether).

Basically, what I'm saying is that if you don't believe (or know) that someone is a god, that doesn't strip them of their status. It just means people won't refer to you as a god. No god is to be found in every culture, from what we've seen, except maybe Mael...but then his aspect is basically water, and water is required for life, so that's logical.

D'rek said

at 6:01 pm on Feb 22, 2010

I'm not sure the whole "rejecting godhood" thing has ever been shown to have any actual effect, though. Plenty of Ascendants reject their godhood, but their followers still worship them, call them gods, pray to them, organize religions in their name, etc etc. That they've rejected the godhood means they don't reply to those prayers, don't try and manage that religion, etc, but I'm not so sure it can really be said to make them "not a god", though. Certainly their worshippers still believe they are a god. Just a really crappy god who never listens to them...

And I definitely agree that gods can be recognized outside of their own worshipping followers.

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