World of Warcraft
Cult of Forgotten Shadow
The Forgotten Shadow is a corrupted reinterpretation of the beliefs and traditions practiced by The Light , and is the religion of the Forsaken. The religion of those who follow and use the shadow is called the Cult of Forgotten Shadow. It is a religion of divine humanism (see below).
Forsaken who once followed the tenets of the Holy Light often alter their philosophy upon their transformation. Former priests of the Holy Light lost their faith when they became undead. Lost and hurt, these priests founded a new religion based on a self-centered version of their former faith. Dubbed the Forgotten Shadow, this philosophy centers around self-empowerment and a desire to balance life with death. Many of the virtues and principles of the Holy Light exist within the Forgotten Shadow, but are twisted to an egocentric view. While small, the Cult of Forgotten Shadow grows in popularity, especially among Sylvanas’ dark rangers. The cult claims Deathknell as its home, as well as a section of the warrior sector in the Undercity, but it is not yet organized enough to claim much control over anything.
The Forgotten Shadow is the dark interpretation of the Holy Light’s teachings, and many Forsaken find truth in its doctrine. Forsaken turn to the Forgotten Shadow for different reasons. Forsaken who feel isolated and outcast might join their brethren in support of the Forgotten Shadow to obtain a sense of solidarity, of belonging. Forsaken who feel betrayed by the Holy Light’s failure to protect them sometimes find that turning their backs on the Holy Light is not enough; they throw aside the Holy Light and embrace its dark twin out of spite. Finally, some Forsaken simply see the value and practicality in the teachings of the Forgotten Shadow.
The curse of undeath proved especially brutal to those humans who once followed the philosophy of the Holy Light. Their lives as Forsaken seem dreary, hateful and unspeakably cruel. Many allowed anger and bitterness to foster in their souls. They had believed in the teachings of the Light, and now find themselves shrouded in eternal darkness. Such Forsaken founded the Cult of Forgotten Shadow.
Priests of the Holy Light who become Forsaken alter their beliefs to more adequately reflect their new existences. Practitioners of the Forgotten Shadow believe that the actions and emotions of the self have the capacity to change the universe. The Forgotten Shadow shapes reality. There is no inherent bond between self and universe; a bond exists only when a Forsaken imposes her will on the universe. By strengthening her personal power, a Forsaken can impart greater changes to the world around her. Exceptionally strong Forsaken can literally shape the world. Forgotten Shadow priests refer to this central tenet as Divine Humanism.
The Cult of Forgotten Shadow plays an important role in Forsaken society. Shortly after the emancipation of the Forsaken and the formation of their culture, the Forsaken indulged in a momentary backlash against necromancers. Necromancy was seen as the art of slavery, the tool of the Scourge, and its use was repulsive to the newly liberated undead.
The most serious failing of the Cult of Forgotten Shadow is its lack of organization. Dozens of different interpretations of the three or four virtues exist, and no two priests seem to be able to agree on how the faithful should follow the Forgotten Shadow. A single city can hold several different cult leaders, all in disagreement on their philosophy. Members of the Forgotten Shadow spend almost as much time arguing with other members as they do practicing the tenets they believe.
The Three Virtues
The Cult of Forgotten Shadow preaches three virtues: respect, tenacity, and power.
- Respect: The universe is the physical manifestation of other’s wills. Thus, for a person to denigrate the universe is to ignore the personal power of those around them. This is not only disrespectful, it is dangerous. A follower of the Forgotten Shadow must develop his personal power in order to exert his will on the universe, but seeking too much power too quickly puts him in conflict with other, stronger beings. Only a foolish follower seeks to challenge his superiors right away. Showing respect ensures a measure of self-protection.
- Tenacity: Followers of the Forgotten Shadow put even greater stock in the virtue of tenacity. It may at first seem impossible for a person to change the universe when countless others seeking to do the same surround him. Through unwavering perseverance and tenacity though, they may triumph.
- Power is the third virtue of the Forgotten Shadow, and the most difficult to attain. A Forsaken who grabs greedily for power might encounter power too great for him or her to handle, and die in their attempt to master it. A Forsaken who succumbs to despair and seeks no personal power has no reason to exist; he craves nothing, desires nothing, he sits alone and pines for his old life. To the cult, Forsaken who do not seek to better themselves might as well still be part of the Scourge. The quest for power requires caution, forethought, and a subtle touch.
Some branches of the Forgotten Shadow consider death to be a fourth virtue; most consider it sub-virtue of power. Additionally some members of the Forgotten Shadow still show a limited yet twisted version of the virtue of Compassion (one of The Light ’s main virtues)
Death: A Forsaken reaches the pinnacle of power when he masters death itself, transcends it. This power over death requires the same delicate touch of any other power. A Forsaken must not kill indiscriminately, nor can he withhold death from the weak. To kill wantonly escalates the Forsaken’s risk of encountering power too great for him to overcome. It also robs him of his strength; a Forsaken who spends all day slaying wildlife and human peasants might exhaust his power, and be left defenseless when a true threat arises. Likewise, a Forsaken who shows mercy to the weak and forgoes regular exercise of his power may gain a reputation for weakness himself. This draws predators and offends the cult. He must always preserve a balance
Compassion: Despite their mercenary outlook, the cult possesses a streak of compassion. The living world fears and shuns the living dead, and who can blame them? The cult understands the plight of the Forsaken and wishes to ease their burden if only a little. This compassion tempers even the most heartless priest – though the compassion they show is only towards other Forsaken.
The ultimate goal of practitioners of the Forgotten Shadow is to ascend. Ascension occurs once a person achieves complete control over herself and the power to transcend death. A Forsaken who ascends becomes invulnerable, invincible and eternal. In essence, he becomes a god.
The Cult of Forgotten Shadow teaches that the Forsaken of Azeroth were too weak to ascend. Their undead state is a curse brought on by that weakness. Once the Forsaken learn to master themselves and control the world around them, they shake off that curse and become what they always should have been. Those on the path to ascension often become shadow ascendants.
Instead of seeing both a self and a universe and seeking to create a bond between them through compassion, the Forgotten Shadow preaches a much more self-oriented idea. Priests preach that the self has power over the universe, and the universe revolves around the self. They preach that if an undead was powerful enough to rise from the grave on their own free will, and become sentient, the undead may strengthen himself by increasing his control of the world around him, thus becoming more godlike. Many priests dub this concept “divine humanism”.
Divine humanism is the concept that the self shapes the universe. In essence, each sentient creature in the world is a tiny god, able to exert his will to manifest small changes in the universe. A minor example of divine humanism might be something as simple as mood. The Holy Light teaches that to be happy, one must work to better the universe, and the effort of reflecting joy back through the universal bond spreads happiness. However, divine humanism notes that an angry individual who shows his rage triggers anger in those around him. He does not change some insubstantial universe “out there” – he makes a choice and others sense the strength of his emotions and change themselves. In short, the Holy Light teaches that by changing the universe, you change those around you. The Forgotten Shadow teaches that by using your power, you can change those around you and change the universe. Power is key, not some mythical bond.
Balance between Light and Shadow
While the undead (much like the Broken) can no longer use the Holy Light, and have learned how to use the Shadow, they also preach that there must be a balance between Light and Shadow, and that they must learn the Light as well, but never forget they were born from the Shadow.