Thursday, May 2, 2013

Religions of Desylinn (Part Two)

Other Religions of Desylinn:
Cults abound throughout the world, worshipping an aspect of a single god or paying honor to several gods. There are a handful of faiths other than those mentioned in the previous post. These churches and cults have massive influence on Desylinn. Some are loosely organized but share common themes in their worship, others venerate a specific god as creator of their race affecting their culture and politics. Some of these faiths welcome worshippers with open arms, while others attempt to remain secretive. 

The Cults of the Brothers: (Violence, Earth, Storm): Cults venerating the brothers Daikado or Tlal are common. This is especially true in the Kindred lands where the races of the Kindred still practice ancient tribalism rather than the current khan society. No cult venerates both brothers, instead choosing one or the other, and declaring any cult worshipping the opposing brother as mortal enemies. Violence is a sacred act made more holy if the violence is done to the “enemy”.  The cults can also be found in the lands of the Geato Marsh, practiced by a few of the more bloodthirsty lizard folk who have been influenced by their Kindred allies. Cults made up of Gren males worshiping one of the brothers are not uncommon. These cults rarely last long as Gren tend to embrace the violence too enthusiastically without the influence of the Soothing. 

The First Forges of the Ancestors: (Dragons, Stone, Crafting, Honor, Humility): Paying deep homage to their ancestors, the Dwarves also revere and honor the Dragons, worshiping the divine creatures which guide their race. Since the Dragons reawakened after the collapse of the Empire of Mariea, there has been resurgence in pilgrimages to earn a place at the First Forges. It is here where a clan’s dragons hold court and the seers who have followed the Paths of the Ancestors can consult with the divine “parents” of the Dwarven race. The Path of the Ancestors can be taken either through the maternal line or the paternal line, tracing oneself generationally back to the First Forge and walking back through the line to the clan’s First Forge. Most view this as metaphorical, choosing to “walk” the path between two altars at one of the holy sites. However the most devout will physically walk from shrine to shrine until they arrive at the First Forge. The devout who take arduous journeys earn significant respect from fellow Dwarves and from the Dragons. 

The Chantries of Mar: (Law, Tyranny, Conquest, Light): The Imperial Elves worship Mar like children worship grandparents. There is a certain awed reverence as well as an enthusiastic hope in the ceremonies of the elves that does not exist in their culture outside of their cathedrals. Mar, being the literal grandfather of the elven race, is one of the few gods that actually welcomes worshipers. Part pomp and pageantry, part genealogy those Elves active in the Church learn the chant of their ancestors back to Mari’es the father of the race. The shorter your chant, the more pride and honor you have among the church and the race.  While the elves worship Mar with a strange enthusiasm, there is little in the way of outright worship of Mari’es. He is respected and honored but there is little worship among the Elves in Desylinn. There are faithful who will make a pilgrimage to the Throne of Mari’es, in order to honor their father and their divine grandfather. Most never return from these journeys, but whether it is because they have chosen to stay at the Throne or because they have perished few can say. 

The Temples of Ishari (Truth, Running Water, Purity, Visions):  Before the Empire of Maries encroached on the Geato Marsh, the temples and shrines of Ishari  were loosely organized with tribal seers wandering the swamp and guiding the villages. After the Empire’s fall the church became more militant, bringing order to the Marsh. It has since become a loose confederacy of village shrines and temples, controlled by the priestesses of Ishari in the City of Pure Waters. The city has always been their holy city but has become even more important since the church's organization. The church is highly structured with holy days and weekly observances, with emphasis placed on truth and purity. They also strive towards fulfilling and preparing for the visions of the priestesses. Telling a falsehood in a temple of Ishari is always met with a watery death, and because her temple is usually filled with magically purified river water, this death comes immediately. 

The Nameless One: (Unnamed things, Ugliness, Sacrifice) There are no true cults or churches to the Nameless One. Those created from the Sundered God’s body may say a quiet prayer of thanks after waking, after a battle, or after a long journey, but no temples or shrines exist. He is treated as a divine judge, particularly by the Kindred races, who believe they must stand before him and be accepted as one of his teeth. The belief is learned by Kindred children, and is carried into adulthood. Whether the Nameless One actually does stand in judgment, and more importantly what he actually judges, none can say. But the idea carries weight even by Kindred raised outside the khan. 

The Cults of the Wild Ones:  (Beauty, Desire, Passion): The gods Shala, Daros, and Kuro are worshipped by the Gren as the creators of their race. They are venerated by artists, musicians, warriors, and lovers. Most cults are impromptu affairs, coming into existence when there is a perceived need, and dissipating as soon as the congregation loses interest. Gren ceremonies are typically short and informal, making a sacrifice of wine, song or dance to the gods as a simple acknowledgment before celebrating. The Gren women will conduct secret quiet ceremonies to Shala once or twice a year, and at the same time Gren men will banish themselves to secret places to revere Kuro. These rituals sometimes become bloody and disturbing affairs. The Wild Ones, the three gods other than Daras that can slip through the Seal, will sometimes create their own cults, making them large and extravagant before being distracted by something else and moving on. 

The Church of Divine Harmony: The Church of Divine Harmony honors divine love, especially that between Nhoj and Ssitta, rather than a single or small group of deities. The Church’s primary motivation is to honor creation, which they see as coming from the divine love of Nhoj and Ssitta, but also through the other divine couples. They worship Nhoj and Ssita as well as Bahu and Tiala, with many sects also revering Ariga and Bjord Half-foot. Most of the weddings throughout Eartlinn are conducted by the clergy of this church. The religion is not particularly formal, finding the celebration of love through simple acts between couples and treating marriage, consummation, and even child-birth as sacred joyful rites. Ceremonies are celebratory in nature without strict tenants. The clergy are typically couples who are happy to give love and comfort to anybody seeking it, and will dole out advice to the lovelorn and heartbroken. 

Cult of the Unmaker (Destruction, chaos): The only cult of Nhoj dedicated to his aspect of Chaos to remain in existence longer than a few arbitrary years or decades. Being far more organized than any cult dedicated to chaos should be the Unmakers have two clear goals: First seek out lost knowledge and divine artifacts from the First War, the war fought between Njoh and Mar over Ssitta in the days before mortals. The second goal is to use the artifacts, bits of knowledge and raw magic to seek out those it considers abominations and unmake them. The history of the cult is contradictory, much being lost to time. Those that are particularly devoted have an uncomfortable aura about them and a distant mad look in their eyes. As if they had looked through the Chaosgate itself. 

The Bloody Sacrament of the Everwar: More than a simple cult of the Brothers, the Sacrament is organized, efficient and focused. The goal of the Sacrament is simple: All of Existence must choose a side of one of the Brothers, and until that time the Sacrament must endeavor to convert each and every thing to the battle. A congregation will worship either Tlal or Daikado never both, and violence will erupt between the opposing congregations. But each congregation will work together to bring outsiders into their battle. The Sacrament’ goals are not obvious, and they may appear as a cult or church of another god from the outside. Seeking out the downtrodden and the disenfranchised, as these individuals most often make the most devote adherents. The Sacrament often conducts secret esoteric rights, only including converts after they’ve completed certain forms of initiations that range from dangerous to humiliating. The Sacrament will happily convert entire villages to lead them to war. They will also seek out separate cults of the Brothers to bring them into the fold, or annihilate them depending on the sect.