The Adeptus Mechanus

Techno-paganism is not new in popular culture, but it is a rare, niche occurrence. In stories, technology is often used as a counter-point to naturalism and environmentalism. Bridging the two together requires an unusual author, or unusual settings.

Enter Warhammer 40K, the setting for a unique miniatures wargame setting. Essentially Spanish Inquisition in space, humanity spends their time killing aliens, eradicating mutants, and burning heretics in loyalty to their ascended “God Emperor.” They have good reasons to be both xenophobic and superstitious–the spaces between are home to malevolent entities that would consume all life, if they could.

While the massive “WH40K” setting has had entire books devoted, the element I’d like to point out are the ADEPTUS MECHANICUS. In stark contrast to the rest of Roman Catholicism-inspired hordes, they worship the “Machine God”–the Omnissiah. To quote the WH40K wiki:

“The Adeptus Mechanicus believes knowledge is the true manifestation of divinity in the universe, and all creatures and artefacts that embody knowledge are holy because of it…
The Adeptus Mechanicus also regard organic flesh as weak and view the removal and replacement of biological tissue with mechanical, bionic parts as sacred. Most elder Tech-priests have few organic parts left and eventually become more machine than man.”


As far as feel and flavor, the Adeptus Mechanicus are spot-on pagans. They are pantheistic and believe that all machines are inhabited by the Machine Spirit(s) that must be appeased by specific and inviolable rituals…such as playing drums and horns a certain number of times, or anointing a mechanism with “sacred machine oil” before use. (Some of these rites are more beneficial than others.)

I’ll post the Mechanicum’s 16 Universal Laws, along with a number of particularly-flavorful quotes, in the comments. Suffice to say, the Adeptus Mechanicus are an excellent and believable hybrid of the spiritual, scientific, and superstitious. If you’re looking for a rich, well-developed inspiration involving rite, ritual, and transhumanism, you could do far worse.


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