Recap on the previous post:
It turns out that the divine are not quite the group of benevolent gods that humans think them to be, as they have proven themselves time and time again to be ruthlessly efficient in their punishments. This is shown through the Eternal Cycle, which refers to the systematic destruction of human civilizations that have transgressed against the divine through the use of elemental calamities.
In the case of Sal Vindagnyr, the elemental calamity was one of Cryo, ravaging Dragonspine with unrelenting blizzards and hailstorms until naught but lifeless, desolate ruins are left of the once-thriving civilization.
Now, we will continue to explore the other methods that Celestia has undertaken to suppress humanity. One that does not involve violence, but manipulation.
Prologue – The Seven Archons
In the days of yore, the title of ‘Archon’ did not exist. Rather, there existed powerful entities known as ‘gods’ that possessed great power and intelligence. Additionally, they also possessed the ability to manipulate the fundamental elements. Some of these gods bore sympathy towards humanity, as humans were but specks of dust when compared to their awe-inspiring might. As such, each of the gods chose a people with which to safeguard and guide towards prosperity through their own ideals.
‘In the past, the gods had the responsibility to love all people, which made Andrius quite the oddball for only adopting abandoned babies and accepting wanderers.’
– Lore, Boreal Wolf’s Milk Tooth
Although the gods all had their own ways to guide their people, it was nonetheless a time of peace, when gods and humans lived content lives free from strife and worry. Then, on one fateful day, everything would take a turn for the worse. Much worse.
For reasons unknown, 7 divine thrones of Celestia had opened, and only 7 of the most worthy contenders could take their rightful place as Archon, becoming a god who holds absolute reign over a fundamental element of Teyvat.
The allure of sitting upon a throne among the divine of Celestia was irresistible to the gods of yore, as it not only promises them more power beyond comprehension, it would also provide them with the means to guide and shape humanity in their own idealized image. With this revelation, all pretenses of alliances or rivalries between the gods were shattered, leaving behind only one simple desire; To Kill or be killed.
That which lurks within and animates this relic are the divine remains of lamenting gods. They are unrealized ideals, designs for a prosperous humanity that could never be. They may now lie deep within stone and sea, but they will not go quietly into the night.
– Lore, Divine Body from Guyun
Gods turned on each other, mercilessly slaughtering each other and ravaging the lands with their elemental wrath. It had been the dawn of one of the bloodiest periods in Teyvat’s history, known today as the Archon War. Countless years of bloodshed later, the Archon War would finally come to a close, with the remaining 7 gods standing triumphant over the corpses of the vanquished.
Thus, the rule of the first Seven Archons had begun.
To the victors of the Archon War, the divine bestowed unto them the gift of the Gnosis, a focus with which to channel elemental energy directly from Celestia, thereby empowering the user to unimaginable heights. The Seven would then swiftly disperse back to their homelands, using their newfound powers to bring about a golden age of prosperity for their people.
…With the crumbling of an ancient seat of divinity, a new god was born. The Anemo Archon Barbatos felt power flowing at his fingertips. His first use of this power was to reconstitute himself in the likeness of that young lad, for only if he wore human shape could he play the lyre that the lad so loved.
Plucking its strings, he scattered the ice and snow and split the mountains with a divine wind. He bade Mondstadt become a city of freedom, a nation without a king. In the future, he believed, it would become a better, more romantic city.
‘Surely, he too would have wanted to live in such a place.’
Thus, a new age began for Mondstadt.
– Story 4, Venti
…To the people of Liyue, Rex Lapis has many divine titles.
When he laid down Liyue’s laws by his divine might, he was the God of Contracts. When he minted the first Mora and made Liyue strong by dint of commerce, the merchants revered him as the God of Commerce. He has lived through countless years and is the eldest of the Seven, and so historians call him the God of History.
People from other lands tend to call him Morax, though the people of Liyue prefer to use the term Rex Lapis. But in the hearts of lovers of opera and children, Morax’s on-stage aspect, the all-conquering defender of Liyue — the Warrior God — is the most fascinating.
The delicacies that Rex Lapis discovered while lost in the streets, the plaques inscribed with his handwriting, a famous opera that he once starred in, playing the part of a warrior…
Many stories and tales of Liyue are, when studied closely, stories of people visited by their deity at some point — and the citizens of Liyue are most proud indeed of that history.
– Story 3, Zhongli
However, there exists one simple limitation to this source of power.
The extent of empowerment that an Archon can receive from their Gnosis is entirely dependent on how much control they have over the nation that they preside over.
With this in mind, let us press on to see how the Archons achieve this, and how it ultimately suppresses humanity.
Chapter 4 – Of Ideals and Sins [The proof for each individual Archon can be found further down, below the text body of Chapter 5]
As we well know, each of the Seven Archons abides by an ideal. For Barbatos, the Anemo Archon, he stands for the ideal of Freedom, while Rex Lapis, the Geo Archon, stands for the ideal of Contracts, etc.
Most humans think their own respective Archon to be a perfect, benevolent being, and in turn, will vehemently worship them and the ideal that they represent.
What the humans do not know, is that the ideal bourne by their god is not without its flaws, in the same way that light cannot exist without casting a shadow; no Yin can exist without a Yang;
No Ideal can exist without Sin.
Since the humans are guided by their Archons, who in turn are guided by their own Ideals / Sins, these Ideals and Sins will slowly be inculcated into humanity’s societal culture and norms, to the point where they can found manifesting through the everyday actions and thoughts of the people.
As a result, most of the people who are ruled over by an Archon will not see the need to search for their own Ideals, instead choosing to live comfortably under the guidance of their Archon whom they believe to be a perfect and flawless role model. This in turn leads to a large portion of humanity settling for mediocrity, rather than having their own aspirations. Due to this phenomenon, the humans of Teyvat have become ‘more tame’ in a sense, and thus easier to control.
In the perpetual meantime of a sheltered eternity, most are content to live, and not to dream. But in the hidden corners where the gods’ gaze does not fall, there are those who dream of dreaming.
– Dainsleif, Travail
Coincidentally, this fits really well with Celestia’s goal of constraining humanity’s ambitions. However, whether or not the Archons are truly a piece in Celestia’s scheme to suppress humanity, I cannot say with confidence because there simply isn’t enough evidence, only many small hints at the truth.
1 – For instance, the shape of Barbatose’s Anemo Gnosis resembles that of a Queen piece from the game Chess, while Rex Lapis holds the Geo Gnosis that is shaped like a Rook. To me, this heavily implies that the Archons, they who possess the Gnosis, are merely pieces used in Celestia’s endless game against humanity.
2 – Another big hint stems from the real-life belief of Gnosticism, a collection of religious ideas that Mihoyo has based the story of Genshin Impact on. In Gnosticism, there also exists 7 Archons presiding over humanity. These 7 Archons are tasked by Demiurge [Celestia] to prevent humans from achieving ‘Gnosis’, which more or less translates to enlightenment.
The Demiurge creates the physical universe and the physical aspect of humanity*.*** The demiurge typically creates a group of co-actors named archons who preside over the material realm and, in some cases, present obstacles to the soul seeking ascent from it.
– Demiurge, Wikipedia
Chapter 5 – The Eyes of God
Inevitably, there will be exceptional humans who refuse to settle for mediocrity; who strive to become better not to appease the gods, but to achieve their own dreams; and who are staunchly driven by naught but their own ideals.
To these exceptional people, the gods give unto them a Vision – also known as 神之眼, an eye of god, thus granting them the title of ‘Allogene’.
‘As you know, Visions are external magical foci that only a small minority of people possess. They use these Visions to channel elemental power. In truth, every wielder of a Vision is one who can attain godhood and ascend to Celestia. We call such people allogenes*.’*
– Venti, Ending Note
To the mundane, the Vision is the representation of an allogene’s efforts being acknowledged and rewarded by the gods. However, once we take Celestia’s motives into consideration, this perspective no longer holds. Why would Celestia purposefully make humans, the people that they hope to suppress and control, more powerful by granting them the power of elemental manipulation?
To me, my guess is that Visions are merely a way for the divine to keep exceptional people in check, as they are the ones most likely to upset the balance of power between humanity and the divine, through the power of ambition.
To explain, the root cause of the eternal conflicts between the divine and humanity stems from humanity’s ambition; a strong desire to do or achieve something. Eventually, once humanity advances to a point whereby the act of conquering mountain peaks and traversing the oceans are no longer a challenge, there is nowhere else for them to direct their ambition but up, towards the divine thrones of Celestia.
‘With ropes, we can scale mountains.’
‘With boats, we can sail the seas.’
‘Humans create tools to conquer nature, and when nature conquers them in return, they create better tools.’
‘Where our legs cannot take us, maybe our tools can. And when tools fail us, perhaps wings can carry us instead. My dear friend, I leave you my designs for the “Wings of Incompletion”
‘Against the unknown, humanity stands as one’
‘To be alive is to seek, to set foot in every place that the eye can see.’
‘I have little time remaining, though the wind has not yet come for my soul.’
‘But between us and your children, students, and friends, I believe someone will reach that place at last.’
– Leonard, Where Ancient Stars Align
In a sense, the Vision also serves as a way to ‘divide’ the people, to those with Visions and those without. The people with Visions are regarded as those ‘blessed by the gods’, and as such are singled out and expected to shoulder greater burdens in their society. If these exceptional people are too busy dedicating their talents and ambitions to dealing with the consequences brought about by the mediocrity of their own people, then there would be less time for them to direct their ambitions towards anywhere else, including the heavens.
This is what I believe the Visions truly represent; A distraction and limiter to humanity, meant to delay the inevitable arrogation of mankind towards the divine.
‘This abandoned temple does bear some marks of the Abyss. The Falcon of the West… though it can soar in the wind, it ultimately does naught but hover under the light of the gods…’
– Bough Keeper: Dainsleif, About Venessa
Barbatos – The God of Freedom and Sloth
‘Still, the winds change direction. Someday, they will blow towards a brighter future… Take my blessings and live leisurely from this day onward.’
– Venti, Vayuda Turquoise Gemstone
For Monstadt, their deity is one that bears the ideal of Freedom and the sin of Sloth. As a result of the heavy emphasis placed upon ‘living a life as carefree as possible’ by Barbatos, the Visionless people of Monstadt have become free-spirited and open-minded, but at the price of also becoming incorrigibly lazy and irresponsible, delegating even the most trivial tasks to the Knights of Favonius.
Acting Grandmaster Jean and the Knights of Favonius work tirelessly to offset the consequences of Sloth that has plagued the city of Monstadt, so that the common people may continue to live the dream of Freedom.
Below are some examples of the incorrigible laziness and entitlement of Monstadt citizens;
Note: Even when there is no work to be done whatsoever, it is not permissible to take a gratuitous amount of downtime at your own discretion.
(On active guard duty) “Imagine having a lifetime’s supply of cider…”
(While taking a break) “Noeeeelle… Have you got a minute…”
Note: The Acting Grand Master has instructed Noelle to immediately report any work-shy knights who attempt to delegate their existing duties to her. It should go without saying that this behavior is entirely unacceptable. Penalties for violations will take the form of reduced vacation allowance and/or salary deductions. The next time that you consider shirking your duties, you are strongly advised to consider whether the consequences are worth it.
– Section Three, Knights of Favonius Handbook
‘What does freedom really mean, when demanded of you by a god?’
– Dainsleif, Travail – Monstadt
Rex Lapis – The God of Contracts and Greed
‘The currencies that flow through this land are my flesh and blood. For thus did I become the guarantor of the people’s hard work, wisdom, and future. This is the trust I have placed in them. Betray it, and you taint my blood.’
– Rex Lapis, Prithiva Topaz Gemstone
For Liyue Harbour, their deity is one of Contracts and Greed. The people are traditional and dutiful, but as a result of the heavy emphasis placed upon Mora and ‘earning one’s keep’ by Rex Lapis, many have become enamored by the concept of material wealth.
Thus, the Visionless people of Liyue have come to revolve their lives around making themselves rich, even if it means having to find loopholes in the law. As a result, the laws that bind Liyue have to be rewritten every day by the Qixing of Liyue to amend the loopholes exploited by the people.
Below are some examples of the greed showcased by Liyue Citizens
Baal – The God of Eternity and Envy
‘The Anemo Archon is the God of Freedom, and the Geo Archon is the God of Contracts.’
‘For her part, the Raiden Shogun is the God of Eternity.’
‘It seems as though she has finally decided to eliminate any unstable elements that could pose a threat to her eternal realm. The fact that even I, the oldest of The Seven, have now “passed away” will only strengthen her resolve to pursue eternity.’
‘Knowing her, she must have again quoted that adage she is most fond of when proclaiming that decree to her people:
‘Seven ideals for seven gods, and of these, Eternity is nearest unto Heaven.’
– Zhongli, The Fond Farewell
Considering how hell-bent Celestia is on maintaining the power balance between divinity and humans, it comes as no surprise that the ideal of Eternity is ‘nearest unto Heaven’.
If I had to speculate about what sin the Electro Archon bears, it would be that of Envy. Since Baal is the God of Eternity, she is likely envious of the fact that the divine up in Celestia have been able to rule over humanity for, well, pretty much all of eternity.
As a result, Baal has enacted the ‘Vision hunt decree’, in which all the Visions in Inazuma are to be confiscated and ‘inlaid upon the hands of a statue of the Thousand-Armed, Hundred-Eyed God’.
To me, the whole ‘Vision hunt decree’ is just Baal attempting to follow in the footsteps of the divine, stripping her people of power so that her reign as the Immortal Shogun will be eternally unopposed. However, unlike the divine, Baal fails to see the bigger picture, as she seems to believe that stripping the people of their powers will also strip them of the will to oppose her. In truth, Teyvat’s history has proven to the divine many times that the opposite is true.
The Traveler will probably get to witness firsthand in the Inazuma chapter how the people oppose the idea of an eternal ruler and rebel. Baal may see herself as the Immortal Shogun destined to rule over her people for all of eternity, but when compared to the divine that reside in Celestia who were already ancient before she has even come to exist, she is but a young and naive girl incapable of controlling her people.
‘In the secluded land of the immortal Shogun, the Bakufu rules eternal. But what do mortals see of the eternity chased after by their god?’
– Dainsleif, Travail – Inazuma
Dendro – The God of Wisdom and Gluttony
Having personally witnessed raving-mad scholars in the forests of Sumeru and powerful sages sitting underutilized advisory councils, Lisa realized what uninhibited erudition can really do to a person.
It seemed such a high price to pay… How much did one have to sacrifice to attain the profoundest knowledge at all?
– Lisa, Story 5
Hydro – The God of Justice and Pride
‘My ideals have no stains. I must correct you. People here bear no sins in the eyes of the gods… Only laws and the Tribunal can judge someone. They can judge even me. So praise my magnificence and purity.’
– The Hydro Archon, Varunada Lazurite Gemstone
Murata – The God of War and Wrath
‘The rules of war are woven in the womb: The victors shall burn bright, while the losers must turn to ash. When the God of War shares this secret with the Traveler, it is because she has her reasons.’
– Dainsleif, Travail – Natlan
Tsaritsa – The God of Love and Lust
‘She is a god with no love left for her people, nor do they have any left for her. Her followers hope only to be on her side when the day of her rebellion against the divine comes at last.’
– Dainsleif, Travail – Snezhnaya
So, that has been my headcanon on the truth behind Archons and Visions, hope everyone had a good time reading, cause I sure as hell had a good time writing it.
Before you leave though, do me a favor and answer this question, again
This world has people who gained Visions, and those who did not. Which of the two do you think hold more importance in the eyes of the gods?
1 – Those with Visions
2 – Those without Visions
3 – Perhaps…
None of them do.
Chapter 6 – The Godless Nation, Khaenri’ah
See ya’ll next time