The Holy See and the God Hand

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
Over the past several hundred years, the Holy See's consolidation of religious influence on the continent ended up serving the God Hand's ends. It is a facet of the tripartite plan by the God Hand that established Griffith as the savior of humanity (religious icon, political authority, and military threat) and ushered in a new age for humanity.



But this cooperation goes further than mere coincidence of goals. The relationship between the God Hand and the Holy See is evident in the symbol of the religion.

Whoever designed this icon for the Holy See was familiar with the brand, and perhaps even the God Hand. Who was that person though, and how did that movement manifest? There are of course no specifics given as of yet. However, we know the God Hand don't generally go around making actual puppets of people. They work in the shadows, "in places where negative emotions are concentrated," on a macro scale through sweeping movements that coincide with other sweeping movements, all of which require humanity to be baited by dark urges. The leadership appears to be dispassionate old man, stabbing in the dark, ignorantly armed with knowledge of the supernatural world which they reject. What they care about most is securing the political authority they eventually wielded over nation-sates. Of course, that places them in a perfect position to be manipulated by a group like the God Hand.

A lot of this, including the connection between the symbol and the brand, has been discussed on the forum many times before, it's just not in one place. But what hasn't been done across all the years we've been talking about this connection is documenting of all the ways in which the Holy See's machinations ended up benefiting the God Hand's plan for humanity, and how along the way, it weakened any resistance that could have manifested.

1. It centralized religions on the continent under one doctrine, making it more easily manipulated.

"The current doctrine of the Holy See is nothing more than a tool by which to display its own political power." - Schierke

I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that the spread of the Holy See in Berserk mirrors the spread of Catholicism throughout the middle ages. Furthermore, the Holy See itself is not a fiction, but in our world it is an alternate name for Vatican City, the center of power for the Catholic Church. And just as in the middle ages Catholicism spread as a political and regulatory authority across the European continent, so too did it spread as a political authority across the continent in Berserk. That is of course, the human end to the Holy See. From the God Hand's perspective, as a group bent on dominating human affairs, what better way to accomplish that than by limiting humanity's worldview down to one specific lens under their control? It serves as the foundation of isolating humanity from the astral world, mollifying it through a safer, more secure world that they felt they could control.

"This world could never be encapsulated in one single doctrine. Accept the great mysteries, and explore the universe from within your inner world. That is the way of magic." - Flora

2. It pillaged and persecuted followers of polytheistic religions, including magic users.

"Witches and the like are nothing but symbols of apostacy and wickedness." - Enoch's Priest

If there were anyone who could stand as a bulwark against the wool covering the eyes of the people, it was magic users. But the spread of the Holy See religion across every little village and hamlet across the continent meant that older, polytheistic belief systems were stamped out. We are regularly shown how followers of such religions, genuine or merely feared as such, were persecuted and executed by the church for heretical practices. This aided the God Hand by driving magic users, who possess deep knowledge about the truth of the world, into the fringes of society or to the grave. The practice of magic only thrives now because of a series of elaborate safeguards on Skellig.

3. It consolidated knowledge of the supernatural.

"When the sun will have died five times, a red lake will appear at the west of the city with a name both new and ancient, and it will be the sign that the fifth angel is born. The angel shall be a Falcon of Darkness. Both master of the sinful black sheep and king of the blind white sheep. The one who shall bring an age of darkness upon the world." -Azan

When Farnese and the Holy Iron Chain Knights first appear, they arrive a few hours after the Eclipse occurred, at what they called the "Red Lake." Azan recites a prophecy from what he refers to as a Revelation, information likely withheld from the public, given how it incorporates knowledge of occultations and of course alludes to the Falcon as a being who would usher in an age of darkness.

But this prophecy itself is not unique to the Holy See, because as we know, it is repeated by Schierke later in Volume 22 when she goes to confirm the appearance of Griffith outside Shet. This means the prophecy predates the Holy See, and was likely a revelation known by practitioners of magic, but subsumed by the Holy See as it steamrolled over polytheistic religions. Furthermore, this assimilation process explains how the Four Elemental Kings, a genuine force in the astral world that govern their respective elements of fire, earth, wind, and water, was translated into scripture as the Four Cardinal Kings. The nature of the group's elemental power was clouded by dogma.

Finally, there is the existence of the Miracle Recognition Department, which is what set the Holy Iron Chain Knights out on their quest to confirm the appearance of the Red Lake and later to ascertain the truth behind the rumors of the Falcon of Darkness. For such a department to exist hints at the stockpiling of secrets / revelations / prophecies assimilated in the process of obliterating other religions, along with the assumption they are safeguarding such knowledge from the people, keeping them ignorant of sweeping movements happening on the larger stage of the world. This also aided in the God Hand's plans.

"Miracle becoming reality is what first bestows power. And controlling the recognition of that power is our obligation." - Cardinals of the Holy See

4. It severed people's connections with the astral world.

"Long ago it was quite natural to believe in the existence of elves. But with the spread of the doctrine of the Holy See, of one universal world view, those who can see them have dwindled." - Schierke

The church in Enoch village stands on top of a sacred place where worshipers of the local river god would gather. The Holy See not only outlawed the practice of worship, but stamped out the site of worship itself. By removing magic users from the mix, who spread knowledge of how people can perceive the other inhabitants of our world (astral creatures), people's ability to perceive the astral world waned, ultimately severing the connection between humans and the astral world completely, outside of myths and legends.

The practice of prayer itself did not escape being tarnished in the process of assimilation by the Holy See. Prayer as an act of faith was converted from actual communion with spirits into the neutered practice of chanting mindlessly in a church. Schierke explains to Enoch's priest that people use sanctuaries to commune with angels and spirits, but a magician constructs that sanctuary in her mind. Because the mind is the only medium for humans to perceive beings without bodies. A magician must visualize the recipient of their message:

"The arcana of invocation is not about simply chanting mantras or meditating on your own wishes. It begins with recognizing and confronting the counterpart to whom you must impart your thoughts." -Schierke

5. It primed the populace to reach for a symbolic savior in the form of a falcon.

"Someday his Wings of Light will, like it is told in that revelation, blow away the darkness which covers our homeland." -Owen

The symbol of the Falcon of Light lightly resembles the Christian cross (in particular, the makeshift symbol in which a crow was crucified by the heretic in volume 18), making another connection to our world. But the choice of a falcon is highly suspicious. Because it created a ready-made savior role for Griffith to step into once he arrived on the stage to rescue the people from Ganishka's clutches. That by itself might not have been sufficient, so supports were provided by the God Hand by way of a "divine revelation" to the Pontiff, and the mass prophetic dream to people across the world of the coming of the Falcon of Light to sweep away the darkness.

There's another more subtle trick this savior persona of the Falcon of Light affords Griffith to do. It masks the nature of his supernatural powers, and the splendor of his appearance and demeanor; so that once he appears on the stage, the powers he wields as a member of the God Hand are contextualized in the visage of an angelic savior to be revered, not a demonic lord to be feared.

The Present and Beyond

In the present day, the Holy See has fulfilled its purpose. Griffith and the Falcon of Light have fused into one being, and we've seen that in Falconia the church mostly exists in an ancillary role to provide a vehicle for Griffith's miracles. The religion can hardly even be said to belong to humans anymore. Throughout its long history it stomped out any alternative interpretation of reality from its own, and established the scaffolding for a savior to swoop down from the heavens and rescue humanity from its flailing at a chaotic existence. And if history has taught us anything about religion, it's that it inspires hardened zealots that would die for their savior before acknowledging the truth. So that even if any "truth" comes to light about the nature of their savior, the veil of religion will at the very least buffer Griffith from any fallout.
 

jackson_hurley

even the horses are cut in half!
As I said in Aaz's recent thread, this post is very interesting and educative about the series. I really enjoy these kind of posts. I thought you derserved a big thank you too. :guts:
 

Victor

"Don't forget your poison arrows"
Yeah, it was a great collaborative effort to consolidate the information we have about the state of the world and the direction it will likely be heading in. A lot of seemingly obvious things but which aren't all that easy to get your head around; so great job guys, thanks for cleanly putting them all in one place. :void:
 
Isn't it weird that The Holy See prophecy ( incorporated into their doctrine ) sees Griffith as evil yet they worship him? I mean, Falcon of Darkness does not look like a description for someone good. Good way to identify "devil" in disguise in Berserk but apparently not for them?
 

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
Isn't it weird that The Holy See prophecy ( incorporated into their doctrine ) sees Griffith as evil yet they worship him? I mean, Falcon of Darkness does not look like a description for someone good. Good way to identify "devil" in disguise in Berserk but apparently not for them?
If you look at the prophecy, it only talks about the fifth angel being the Falcon of Darkness. As far as they know, the Falcon of Light is their savior, and the Falcon of Darkness is the bad guy. Little do they know they are the same being.
 
Isn't it weird that The Holy See prophecy ( incorporated into their doctrine ) sees Griffith as evil yet they worship him? I mean, Falcon of Darkness does not look like a description for someone good. Good way to identify "devil" in disguise in Berserk but apparently not for them?
Good and evil as objective morality don't apply to Berserk's world (they don't apply to the real world either, but even more so when your God is a monstrous heart in a black hole of evil) , so long as Griffith fulfills his role as the Jesus/devil of the Berserk universe, the See won't care that he's a demon.
 
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Good post. To add my own thoughts and digressions to this thread, I don't necessarily thing the similarity of the symbol of the Holy See and the sacrificial brand without question indicates the creation of the former entailed explicit knowledge of the latter (though this is possible), given they both reflect a key motif of the universe's cosmology that could have similar manifestations. I initially took the brand as an infinity sign broken by an ascending, single line invoked during the creation of apostles or god-hand members, mirroring their transcendence of the natural cycle of life/death. The Holy See falcon is visually similar, but also is more specific: the falcon is being elevated by a spiral, which seems to better reflect the glorification of Femto via causality (to fulfill humanity's collective dream/enact the aims of the IoE). These two interpretations could be understood as alternatives, but I would rather see the former as echoing the "greater scheme" it compounds in the latter through illustrating the more smaller-scale function of sacrifice/immortalization. To be clear, I am not saying that the Holy See designed their symbol premeditating Femto specifically. Rather because their theology, if it is at all similar to Catholicism, presumably revolves around the politics of moralizing negativity which also furnishes the IoE, it would naturally produce imageries and frameworks (for example, the falcon-savior model) into which ideal/evil agents would fit.

I also think it's not unlikely that causality and the IoE were not always an powerful as they are currently. I imagine they gained significant sway with the dichotomization of human consciousness introduced and regulated on a large scale by the rise of the Holy See through dogma and the conceptualization of a genre of "evil" assigning blame to both desire and suffering. By contrast, the psyche of the pagan world was likely more affirming, more likely to see realities like life and death or pain and pleasure not as morally opposed but rather two sides of the same coin. I'm basing this assumption in part by their greater closeness with astral forces, as well as the trend in a lot of pre-Christian European cults/pantheons to have sacred figures who represented collections of characteristics that could easily inflict both harm and help situationally rather than having "good" and "bad" gods.

On the Christ comparison you touched on design-wise that I see people bring up often- there is little similarity in the religious role of Jesus and Griffith past being "Messiah." Jesus's self-sacrifice on the cross for the sake of absolution and its consequence of granting humanity restored intimacy with heaven is almost more important than the role he played while living (thanks to Apostle Paul), and his splendor is achieved not through coming back to the corporeal world but rather returning to the supernatural one. One could read Griffith sacrificing the BotF and becoming Femto and then leader of Falconia as a perversion of Christ's sacrifice+resurrection+ascension, but it would get messy. The more interesting Catholic/Christian parallel concerning Jesus as he relates to Griffith is definitely the Revelation you brought up, and how apocalypticism, in Western Catholic Revelations as well as in Berserk's Age of Darkness is utter devastation masked by selective salvation in the materialization of "heaven on Earth." This, in my opinion, is why the challenge of justifying salvation from a god borne in large part from the conceptualization of sin is one of the most interesting and applicable themes of the work.
 
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Walter

Administrator
Staff member
Good and evil as objective morality don't apply to Berserk's world, so long as Griffith fulfills his role as the Jesus/devil of the Berserk universe, the See won't care that he's a demon.
You're picking the wrong moment to engage in a moral argument. The prophecy explicitly says that the angel will bring an Age of Darkness. Doesn't matter what side of morality you're on, that is a bad thing for humanity

I don't necessarily thing the similarity of the symbol of the Holy See and the sacrificial brand without question indicates the creation of the former entailed explicit knowledge of the latter (though this is possible)
I agree that the design itself isn't enough to establish a connection, that's why i spent the next 1,000 words describing other ways that the GH benefitted from the establishment of the Holy See. :void:

On the Christ comparison you touched on design-wise that I see people bring up often- there is little similarity in the religious role of Jesus and Griffith past being "Messiah."
Err, I didn't say that there was, though. I was specifically referring to the cross design on the icon itself. The body is vertical, the wings are horizontal. That visual similarity is probably meant to evoke Christianity. But that's all I was trying to convey.
 
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I didn't say that there was, though. I was specifically referring to the cross design on the icon itself. The body is vertical, the wings are horizontal. That visual similarity is probably meant to evoke Christianity. But that's all I was trying to convey.
Yes, I was digressing and responding more to a trend I've seen from time to time of putting too much security in exact Catholic parallels, apologies
 
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