In mythologies all over the world, there are tales and stories of enormous beings, mostly humanoid in appearance, who inhabit the world. These beings are often considered ambivalent to human existence, if not downright hostile. In Europe, from which Waincraft draws its background inspiration, there were the Jotuns and Etins in the north; the Fomorians in the west; the Cyclopes, Gigantes and other Titans in the south; and Antero Vipunen and the ispolini in the east. In all of the Indo-European cultures of Europe, these giants were the original primordial beings that were later overthrown, supplanted or defeated by the race of gods particular to each culture. As a result of this theology, giants were considered to be utterly chaotic (as opposed to the gods, who represented order), as powerful as a god, and eager to seize on any chance at destroying human civilization.
Very often, these giants, particularly the older, god-like ones, were associated with particularly powerful or significant natural phenomena – the stone giants of the mountains who caused landslides and avalanches, Surt the raging wildfire, Enceladus the shaker of Mount Etna who spews lava, Aegir and Rán who call up violent storms to drown sailors and ships at their whim. Other stories tell of their tremendous power and might – in several myths, the Giants and Titans are winning (or have even prevailed) against the Olympians until a particular hero shows up and saves them; the Æsir in Norse mythology, particularly Odin, often have to resort to trickery or foul play to obtain a victory against the Jotuns, and the legend of Ragnarök has the Jotuns finally winning and destroying the gods at the end of the world; the tales of the Rephaim and Nephilim from the Levant describe them as being stronger than several men combined, and with certain influences and abilities (usually derived from their supposedly being the children of angels who interbred with humans)
So there is certainly a strong mythological basis for giants being considered as an inherent part of a cosmology. But there is no mention of giants in Waincraft, or at least not in the way that they are considered by most, which might lead one to question why.
Let’s first break down the two types of giant lore – the first conception of giants is that they are the forces or embodiments of particularly powerful, often chaotic natural phenomena. The second is that of the apotropaic figure, the malevolent or evil being who is warded away through offerings, magic and/or talismans and symbols.
The chaotic natural force is something that is still very much present in our world today, and with the effects of climate change, they are growing in strength and frequency. Hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards, drought, tornadoes, volcanoes, wildfires, and tsunamis could all legitimately be described as giants under the traditional definition. And there are others, forces of our own creation – acid rain, deforestation, pollution, greenhouse gases, and others – that are just as devastating.
Apotropaioi are not as prevalent. We do still have rituals and superstitions for good luck and aversion of malice, but by and large, the magic and power behind them are ignored and people just go through the motions, or consider them quaint and items of comedy. However, there are still inimical forces in the world today, they have just changed their faces and names – instead of murder, greed and self-interest, we have drone strikes, consumerism, and objectivism (along with its “right” and “left” cousins, neoliberalism and neoconservatism).
So, if we are surrounded still by forces that seek to harm or destroy us, why doesn’t Waincraft consider them part of its cosmology?
The answer is simple. Because they’re not.
To get into it further, the idea that there are beings in existence whose sole purpose is to bring badness and evil into human lives is, quite frankly, egocentric, and also anthropocentric. One of the primary tenets of Waincraft is that everything in existence has a place and a purpose unique to that thing or person, a place and purpose that brings greater joy and connectedness to the Cosmos as a whole. Orthopsychy does not just apply to humans. It also applies to the mosquitoes who carry malaria; the hurricanes that bring rain to drought-ridden regions, keep coastal ecosystems in homeostasis, and bring phytoplanktons to the surface where they produce up to 50% of the earth’s oxygen(1); the wildfires that are the only way for some pine species to reproduce; the volcanoes and other geological upwellings that are constantly making new land form, such as the island of Surtsey, which was formed in 1963 C.E. Just because something may be scary, and may damage human property or even take human lives, does not make it evil. It makes it natural. Many people forget, or choose not to remember, that Nature is not only green in leaf and stem, but also red in tooth and claw (and disaster).
The second consideration, with particular regards to the malevolent non-natural phenomena forces, is that they are all bad things that humans do to each other. There is no outside force (even mental illness has biological components) that forces any one person to do something “evil”. The goal in Waincraft of helping people become their true selves seeks to recognise these less-than-optimal parts of each of us, and transform them into forces for good, for the benefit of ourselves, our fellow humans, and our world. If the world does end, it will not end because a giant rose up and slew a god, it will end because one human, cut off from their rightful place, lashed out at others, and started a chain that grew unstoppable. In a way, we have already started it. The links are forming, forces are rising that we have brought about to deliver our destruction, and that of much of the rest of this world.