Far too many times I have heard the one comment or another essentially proclaiming that tauren paladins and/or priests are a perversion of WoW lore, or those characters are going against the tauren culture/religion.
Now I’ve talked about this before but for whatever reason, people still seem to clamor about it left and right. This irks me, a lot. Mostly likely because it seems to stem from resistance to change and misconceptions. So this is going to be my attempt to identify and dissolve these misconceptions once and for all.
1. WoW Religions are analogous to Real World Religions
Let me just lay it all out on the table first.
Really, it’s as simple as that. For whatever reason, people appear to think that because there are a few similarities here and there, they must be equal to each other. If you don’t believe me, I highly recommend visiting each of those links and reading those words with your own eyes. What I will do though is point out some key differences.
Shamanism in Azeroth is the closest to the real world equivalent out of the three. While shamanism IRL varies greatly from culture to culture, the majority of the focus is on the spiritual aspect, not the elemental connection. Shamans were also spiritual leaders and healers, never fighters or warriors. In addition, only a select few cultures used totems at all.
Very little is known of the ancient druids of Great Britain but there is speculation of animal sacrifices, if not human ones. Such acts seem a far cry from the peaceful Cenarion druids that we all know, yes?
And last but not least, the assumption that the Light and Christianity are somehow equivalent is the one that always throws me the most. One of the key beliefs in all the Christian sects is that there is a single God. Yet the very first thing that is said on the Wowpedia article on the Light is:
The Light, referred to as the Holy Light by some cultures, is a non-theistic religious form of philosophy
Non-theistic. Which means:
The followers of the Holy Light do not worship any gods. Instead, it is a philosophy, training its followers to seek perfection within themselves.
There are no deities in the philosophy of the Light. None.
The article goes on to note that “most followers of the Holy Light do not worship any gods”, and from that comment we can certainly say that some followers do in fact worship some god. Like perhaps…the Earth Mother that the tauren so reverently honor.
This leads me to the second misconception I have found…
2. Following the Light is against tauren culture/religion OR tauren paladins/priests are rejecting their old culture
As stated above, the idea of the Light is a philosophy, a way of life. Perhaps to some it is kin to a religion but it is not equal to one. Just as a warrior or hunter has their own way of life, so does a paladin or priest. Tauren paladins and priest don’t give up their beliefs of the Earth Mother and ancestor worship for the Light, instead all of them are part of their lives.
The tauren culture has always included shamans and druids, two “walks of life” that rely on different principles. Yet they have been able to have both peacefully in their society for who knows how many decades. There is no conflict or strife between these two ideals. So why is it that people have such a hard time accepting that the tauren could accept a third way of life into their culture?
In The Shattering novel, there is a moment when Auduin Wrynn gives Baine Bloodhoof Fearbreaker, a mace that has some connection to the Light. Baine then goes on to talk about the sun An’she and how it could be analogous to the Light. The high chieftain of all tauren is certainly not abject to the idea.
Of all the races, taurens are the ones I would single out as the least likely to resist change. They have been able to have shamans and druids coexist peacefully together, and they have gone from being a collection of small nomadic tribes to a single society that comfortably settled in Mulgore. They have always prided themselves in being close to the earth and nature, and if there is a single thing they have learned is that there is always change. Seasons change, all life is born then dies to provide the substance to new life. None of their core beliefs have changed by letting followers of the Light into their ranks. There is no reason for them not to adapt to their new world, and so they embrace it fully, the Light included.
Players who sneer at tauren paladins and priests need to stop thinking like humans and put themselves in the shoes (or hooves) of a Shu’halo. Humans in the real world may wage wars over religions but the tauren are not human in the least. Perhaps we can all take a page from their book for once.
Any comments, questions, or ideas are always welcome!