Ever since I wrote the original Daybreak, there’s been a bit of a question on whom and what the Worldwalkers are. Some people akin them to gods, with a select group of readers who are rather displeased that they’ve been injected into such a story. I admit that I myself were of a mixed opinion when I introduced the Worldwalkers, as they certainly don’t belong under the realm of political realism.
First of all, the term ‘gods’ don’t quite define Worldwalkers. The Worldwalkers are based on the buddhas and bodhisattvas of Mahayana Buddhism. While the Buddha is often considered the ‘god’ of Buddhism, this is a poorly applied analogy. The word buddha simply means ‘enlightened one’. Buddhism explicitly believes that there is a buddha in all of us, and all mortals are capable of achieving buddhahood by journeying through the Eightfold Path. The Buddha — the Indian Prince Siddhārtha Gautama — was simply the first mortal human from Earth who ascended to such exalted status. However, he is neither the only, nor the definitive first, as Buddhism has a multiverse cosmology and many enlightened beings come from worlds and species other than our own. Mahayana Buddhism believes that buddhas (and bodhisattvas) travel between the various worlds in order to teach their wisdom, hence I use the name ‘Worldwalkers’.
The Worldwalkers of Daybreak are all figures of history and mythology, either in Hyperion or in our world. Buddhism is a religion that cares less for worship and more for virtuous action. That means as long as you share some of the virtues of Buddhism (which many other religions do), mainstream Buddhists — ignoring weird, fanatical outliers such as Sengoku Japanese and modern Burmese — are perfectly willing to acknowledge people of other religions as virtuous or even enlightened. As a result, I see no contradiction to extend the ‘Worldwalker’ status to many other figures of spiritual or divine natures.
This comes back to the reason why I added the Worldwalkers. One of my many interests in the social and cultural sciences is mythology, and the Worldwalkers offer me an opportunity to research and explore that angle. Their presence in the story is also meant to reflect upon the interwined nature of social sciences, as religions play a vital role in shaping society’s history and culture, which in turn shapes government and politics. And while we think no supernatural power has ever intervened in human history, there are events — such as Joan of Arc, an inexperienced, illiterate peasant girl with who somehow had an excellent grasp of theology, leadership, and tactics — that are rather difficult to explain.
— Honestly, if the full story of Jeanne d’Arc was written out in a fiction, readers would be calling it a power fantasy for its unexplicably-capable mary sue protagonist. Since by the accounts of her own contemporary companions, Jeanne was far from merely an inspirational figurehead as popular history often claims. While she didn’t fight, she had an excellent grasp of military tactics, had no problems discussing the true nature of angels with learned priests (bible was latin-only at the time), and defended herself in a court of law on theological grounds.
Since this is a fantasy story, I’d like to make a supposition — what if all those miraculous events in history which had far-reaching consequences really were the work of ‘divine’ actors? Daybreak is all about the exploration of ideas for me, and I thought this was a good route to explore.
Lastly, the following is a list of Worldwalkers described in Daybreak. I’ll be appending to this as the list grows.
- Tara, the central figure among the Worldwalkers, is Tara the White (as there are 21 Taras) in Buddhism. Her identity here is also grouped with Guanyin/Kanon, the bodhisattva of mercy and compassion in East Asian Buddhism, known for her unconditional love and compassion, protection of the downtrodden and helpless, and many other things. In some stories, Tara is a former princess who originated from another world. She achieved enlightenment but chose to remain within the cycle of reincarnation (thus becoming a bodhisattva instead of a buddha). Due to the patriarchial nature of most societies in history, it is believed that humans, as they achieve higher karma, would be reborn as men instead of women. Tara however was bothered by this, and thus she vowed to remain a woman no matter how many times she was reborn.
- Feodor is Feodor Kuzmich, a spiritual hermit from 19th century Earth who has been declared a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church. It is widely speculated due to a number of inexplicable factors that Feodor Kuzmich is actually Tsar Alexander I Romanov of Russia, whom — the theory supposes — faked his own death so he could finally retire and live in peace, a sentiment that was much desired in Tsar Alexander’s own writing in his late life. This is why Feodor quotes a verse from the bible that Alexander himself was touched by, and why Tara’s discussion with Feodor mentions the Concert of Europe — a system that Alexander helped to set up after the Napoleonic Wars where the various great powers of Europe tried to maintain balance in order to keep another continental war from breaking out.
- Sigurd is the legendary hero of the Völsung Saga in Norse mythology. He is also Siegfried of the German Nibelungenlied. In Daybreak, Tara also called him Perun (the Slavic God of Thunder), Taranis (Celtic God of Thunder), Perkūnas (Romuva/Baltic God of Thunder), and Thor (Norse God of Thunder), which are often grouped together as many Indo-European cultures liked to trade gods and adopt aspects/tales of gods of their neighboring faiths — a form of religious tolerance that monotheism couldn’t match. Sigurd/Siegfried is most well known for his slaying of a dragon (Fafnir) and gaining invincibility by bathing in its blood. In Hyperion lore and Skagen history, Stormlord Sigurd aided Fafnir the Lightning Dragon to defeat a demon lord during the Demonic Invasion. Impressed by his display of courage, the dying dragon bestowed his remaining strength to Sigurd, making him the first human to gain the dragonlords’ power.
— When Tara mentions Sigurd wearing a bridal headdress, she is referring to the story of Thor pretending to be Freyja and marrying the ice giant Thrym in order to get his stolen hammer back.
- Peter, who has been mentioned multiple times, is Saint Peter, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. His work, combined with that of Saint Paul, would lead to the organization of the Christian faith and establishment of the Roman Catholic Church. In Hyperion lore, Peter is the first human disciple of Hyperion the dragonlord, and is the primary founder of the Trinitian Church.
- Gautama, mentioned only in passing by Tara, of course refers to the Buddha by his mortal name.
- Mergen, mentioned by Tara, is a diety of wisdom of the Tengri religion, the traditional faith of the Turkic nomads and Mongols. According to Tengri mythology, Mergen is was a legendary archer whose arrows slayed six of the seven suns that was baking our world into a desert.
- Gwendolen, as noted in story, was Queen Gwedolen of Ceredigion during her mortal life. She was an Oriflamme Paladin, artificer, and archmage who played a vital role in the Rhin-Lotharingie Independence War. Her story is loosely based on the legendary Queen Gwendolyn who married Locrinus, King of the Britons. But when Locrinus divorced her in favor of a Germanic mistress, she built up an army and bested her ex-husband in battle to seize the throne. She proved to be a just ruler until abdicating in favor of her son, and her name was evoked in later times as an inspiration figure for future queens such as Elizabeth I.
— It is heavily implied in Daybreak that the mythical history of the British Isles (such as the invasion by fae) is based on an alternate telling of Hyperion history, where such events did happen and there are artifacts to prove it.Author's Comment
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