Religions

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Religion plays a major role in the lives of most Asdarans

Religions of Asdar are systems of belief based upon oral accounts, sacred writings, traditions, and in many cases the teachings of religious authorities. Some religions have very hierarchical organizations and others are practiced within basic family structures. Atheism is rare on Asdar and most adherents are human with dwarves and Geddamin comprising most of the balance of atheists. Syncretism is especially widespread among the civilized humanlikes of Asdar. In the Pallathantic Region, the three most widely practiced religions among humans are the Old Religion, Arathracianism, and Incarnandism. The Old Religion additionally includes the traditional of ancestral cults whose observance is peculiar to a given family or tribe and typically interwoven with mythical narratives that include the Isxinthion Gods.

In contrast to Earth, religion on Asdar, including in the West, is more pluralistic. Most religions accept that there is some truth and connection to other religious systems. The most widely spread religious belief is in the Old Religion or the Isxinthion Gods in the West. Throughout the old world, the archetypal gods are the sky god, the earth goddess, the sun divinity, and the moon divinities. These deities are conceived in varying accounts and cult practices throughout the many nations of Asdar. All traditional religions in the West evolved from the worship of the Isxinthion Gods, except for the chaos cults which are thought to be as ancient or nearly as ancient as the cults of the Isxinthion Gods.

Isxinthion Gods

The Isxinthion Gods are the most widely acknowledged pantheon in the West. This extended family of divinities has members who care for and preside over all the forces of nature and various aspects of human life. The attributes and cult practices of the numerous gods of this pantheon throughout the West share many similarities, but are not identical from culture to culture and from historic period to historic period. The sky god, Thwar, for example, is a father god of war for the ancient Thracians. As Azephassus for the ancient Ithatians, he was largely simply the god of storms and lightning. The god Threy among the sky tribes is a hateful, trickster god of the sky. Among the Ithatians, he is With few exceptions, all the major divinities of the Isxinthion pantheon can be found in all cultures that worship them. The sun god, Amrulon, is worshiped with near universal appeal as the chief god of the pantheon. Broadly, the Isxinthion Gods are divided between 'higher gods' and 'lower gods.' The sun gods and sky gods are considered higher gods as their place of residence exists above the earth. The earth gods and sea gods are considered lower gods as they dwell in the earth and sea beneath the heavens. Traditionally, the earth goddess Magdaia is a lower god. This does not mean she is inferior, but rather her power and consciousness are in the earth and the sea. In later legends, she is given a place in Isxinthios and can visit the home of the gods when she is not on the earth. Traditional numinists' practices are thought to be tied with the early form of worship of the lower gods.

Non-Isxinthion Polytheist Cults

In addition to the Isxinthion Gods, there are other pantheons of divinities on Asdar with similar and different features to the Isxinthion Gods. The ancient Kalamans worshiped their own family of divinities who have many striking similarities to the Isxinthion Gods. These gods are worshiped today in Vimalia somewhat changed from their ancient counterparts. Despite the similarities, there are also many differences and there is nothing approaching a one to one correspondence between the Kalaman Gods and the Isxinthion Gods. The ancient Khahonri tribes worshiped their own form of the Thammazite Gods. The Thammazite Gods themselves constitute the pantheon of gods for the ancient Thammazites. The ancient Malesggites worshiped their own pantheon of gods as did the Neptultchi.

Polytheism versus Monolatrism

Adherents of the Old Religion, the worshipers of the Isxinthion Gods, are polytheists. However, some such adherents elect to worship one god in preference to the others. The worshiper becomes a devotee of the chosen god. The devotee may and often will continue to make offerings to the other divinities, particularly at appropriate festivals and observances. However her primary devotion is to the chosen god. Most adherents of the Old Religion, however, are not devotees of a particular divinity. They are polytheists within their culture's pantheon or even harmonists. However, some religions consistently worship one divinity above all the others in the pantheon. The most widely worshiped divinity in this manner is Arathrax.

Arathracianism

Arathracianism The Arathracian Religion developed from the worship of the Isxinthion sun gods and became progressively monolatrous through the centuries. In the Arathracian Religion, the other gods of Isxinthios exist and receive some cult acknowledgement, but the most important divinity who provides salvation is Arathrax. The story of the Arathracian Religion proper begins with the life of Aireánnau Mother of the Folk who gave birth to eight half-mortal, half-divine sons by the god Arathrax. The Arathracian Religion is organized with a male-dominated, hierarchical clergy and while the Yophenthean Empire is long a thing of history, the influence of the Arathracian Church remains strong in the West. Arathracian scripture consists of numerous books, ecclesiastical decrees, and tomes and cannot be reduced to a single text. All traditional Arathracians acknowledge the ecclesiastical leadership of the Erechórebese Sunfather. Clergy, obedience to clerical authority, and religious rites, called the Rites of Arathrax, are very central to the practices of the Arathracian Religion.

Arathracian Schismatic Groups

There are and have been several split off groups from Erechórebese Arathracianism. The largest and most notable has been Pytharnian Arathracianism. Some groups have have removed themselves so far as to create a different religion. The Ambrasian Reformation changed some of the basic tenets of Arathracianism to produce Ambrasianism which focuses on the worship of the sun-god Amrulon as the king of all gods. Typically, these splinter groups differ very little with regard to doctrine and principally wish to maintain their own autonomy from the Erechórebese Sunfather.

Ambrasian Reformation

Ambrasianism The rise of Ambrasianism began with the Ambrasian Reformation in the twelfth century. Conservatives and liberals in the clergy of Ambrasia adopted major doctrinal reforms which resulted effectively in a new religion. Ambrasianism focuses on the cult and worship of the sun-god Amrulon and places few important roles on his first-born, Arathrax. In many ways, Ambrasianism is a reversion to the traditional cult of pre-Yophenthean Amyrn. The liturgy of the Ambrasian Religion was formerly conducted in the now extinct Ambrasian Language, a daughter language of Classical Yophenthean. Many religious terms survive today in the Gonfalese Language.

Late Yophenthean Mystery Cults

The religious needs and aspirations of the masses of the Yophenthean Empire had expanded and advanced beyond the submissive role to the all-powerful and all-providing sun in the period of the late empire. A new breed of independent-minded priests and teachers arose who taught transformed versions of the gods and, despite the prohibitions advanced by the Yophenthean clergy against these heresiarchs, drew many adherents from among the wealthy merchant class and the working class.

The Cult of Zulmani promised a fiery resurrection in their god with both exoteric and esoteric meaning.

The ambiguous masculinity of the wine god Rhio was repurposed as the androgenous divinity, Errignomon who promised access across the boundaries of gender, consciousness and unconsciousness, and finally life and death. Astral Amrulon ensured the universal brotherhood of mankind in his sacred rites performed under the open, starry sky. Sacred to pilgrims who travel at night, Astral Amrulon bears similarity to the ancient Kalaman god, Kerchala, who presided over night-time lightning and journeys made in the night.

Sarredine the Prophetess preached the goddess Rhystra, a nature divinity adapted from the Deliopian protectress of nature, Elystra. The Cult of Rhystra and her priesthood was permitted to all, Arathraciots and commoners, men and women.

Not even the lord of the Arathracians was safe from spiritual revision. As a mysterious alternative to Arathrax, the mystery cultists propitiate Amonthrace, the god of day light transformed into the infinite understanding of the night which exceeds rational perception. All the mystery cults emphasized the changeability of human experience and empowered their followers to transit from one state of being into another through sacred rites reserved only for their initiates.

Thwarrish Religion

The Thwarrish Religion was the predominant native religion of Thrace which projected its influence into the neighboring valleys of the High Shadevan Plateau. The Thwarrish Religion holds the pre-eminence of Sky Father (Thwar), but respects the roles and contributions of the other divinities, especially the sky gods of the Isxinthion Pantheon. The Thwarrish Religion was doctrinally more tolerant than Arathracianism and presumed a relationship between the ruler and his subjects that formed the philosophical basis of Viceroyal Law. The Thwarrish Religion effectively became the state cult not only of imperial Thrace, but was publicly observed by the Viceroyal Dukes of the empire. In the Thwarrish Religion the military and physical fitness of the ruler was deemed essential for a moral government.

Monotheism

Monotheism on Asdar differs from that as practiced on Earth. On Asdar, a monotheist can acknowledge that the divinities of other religions are powerful entities, but holds them as limited in power compared to the one, supreme being. In the past four thousand years, the first monotheists are thought to have been the Khahonri of ancient Jerushabla. Monotheism differs from the monolatry of orthodox Arathracianism which acknowledges the presence of many gods and saints, but reserves worship for Arathrax who makes salvation possible for humans and grants access to the higher realms, including his father, the sun god Amrulon.

Khahonri Cult of Yal

The ancient priests of Yal were the champions of the ethnic and later state religion of Jerushabla. They proposed a single god of the whole cosmos whose power subsumed the power of all, necessarily lesser, divinities. Yal was a god of cosmic totality, more powerful than the sun or the sky or the depths of the earth. His mandate was moral and spiritual and his people, the Khahonri Tribes, were obliged to honor him above all beings. In time, practitioners of the cult of Yal came to be called Khahonrites.

Today there are Khahonrites scattered throughout the world, but especially in the lands of the Memnosian Sea. Khahonrites reject the message of the Incarnandus and accept the teachings of their scripture, the Kaphrimmoth.

Incarnandism

Incarnandism In the Incarnandist Religion, all polytheistic divinities are minor manifestations of one absolute, universal divine consciousness who shall be born in the indefinite future in human form to transcend the gap between limitation and limitlessness. Thus, Incarnandism is both exclusive and tolerant of other faiths. Incarnandists are a large minority religion in the West. Their historic influence in the struggle against Chaos Rulers persists to this day and most people have great respect for devout Incarnandists while maintaining their own traditional beliefs in the Isxinthion Gods. Incarnandism developed from the monotheism of the Khahonri tribes of Jerushabla. The Shenimite woman, Shaqtirah kath Katima, taught that she had received special revelation that a future woman descended from her would give birth to God in human flesh. The English transliteration of the name of the religion comes from the Latin 'Incarnandus' which means 'He shall be born' or 'He must be born.' The principal text of Incarnandism is the Incarnature, a collection of books which expound their core beliefs. Most of the books were written by the Arch-Apostles. The Incarnandina is the closest to a figurehead for the religion and she directs many aspects of the organized Incarnandist religion. Acknowledgement of the Incarnandina is the unifying principle among Incarnandist worshipers, but there are some Incarnandist sects that do not acknowledge the Incarnandina. They either have their own or do not acknowledge any such person. Incarnandists do not have priesthood or clergy and believe that all power from God comes through self-discipline, prayer, and meditation. Many Incarnandists, especially Shenimite Incarnandists, are accomplished energists. Not all energists are Incarnandist and not all Incarnandists are energists. While this is generally understood, there are times when this has led to confusion. Incarnandists do not believe that worship in an edifice is essential to salvation, but gather in Incarnandist Basilicas in groups where they can discuss the needs and edification of the local Incarnandist community. As they have no clergy, they are led by 'teachers' who explain the teachings of the Incarnandist faith and the nature of self-discipline through meditation.

Incarnandist Sects

There are numerous sects of Incarnandists. Most acknowledge the unifying role and mission of the Incarnandina. Some hold a different woman to be the Incarnandina and others do not acknowledge the present existence of any Incarnandina. The Paimbalans are an example of an Incarnandist sect that recognizes the Incarnandina who resides in Oliblish. The Hamagnostics are a sect that does not recognize any Incarnandina. The Archontics observe syncretic beliefs that combine the belief of the Incarnandus with a re-interpretation of the seven Lords of Creation. The Omasoni are a Hœrnectian sect that relies upon many ancient beliefs of that land and does not acknowledge the authority of the Incarnandina.

Harmonism

A harmonist practices syncretic observances. She simultaneously honors the gods and Saints of the Old Religion, the Arathracian Religion, and the Incarnandist Religion without acknowledging the supremacy of any ecclesiastical hierarchy. The largest number of harmonists are found among the poor and the working classes in the Pallathantic Region.

Imzaha

Imzaha The Imzaha religion arose after the Fall of the Yophenthean Empire in Shagrela'al. It teaches the universal duality of God -- that both good and bad, light and dark, male and female, happy and sad, are manifestations of divinity. Only by understanding and unifying these forces can one hope to achieve the state in which one can approach and receive God. God chose Ammudiyn the Seer to reveal the critical tenets of Imzaha to the world that are now available in a text called the Bahraz. Imzaamis, those who practice the faith, believe that the ultimate truth of god is found in a book called the Zankiphresil which exists only in heaven. The Bahraz is a portion of this text given to mortals.

S'elamjuti Religion

The S'elamjuti Religion is practiced by a small minority of worshipers mainly in Weshif. The religion was preached by Shihuraf of Hebjirat in the sixteenth century. The core belief of the S'elamjitumi is that everything that exists, known, unknown, even unknowable, comprise in their mystical entirety the essence of God.

Tamdarism

Originating from the teachings of Thamphakilu of Sungo in the early first millennium before Salmakhamer, the beliefs of Tamdarism are recorded in the Book of the Tamdari in highly mystical language. There are few Tamdarists in the West.

Sodality Cult

A sodality cult is the worship of one or more related divinities by a group of persons who usually have a common professional or philosophical interest. The dragon knights of southern Pytharnia who worship Q'aaskicha'a, the ancient Neptultchi dragonmother have done so for over six thousand years as part of their practices.

State Cult

A state cult is a religious practice and worship officially adopted by the government of a state. The city-state of Zamaclë, the Archpatriarchy of Ambrasia, and Noble Republic of Aurice are examples of states with their own cults. The purpose of a state cult is wrapped up in the power and presence of the governmental authority. The existence of a state cult does not mean that other religions are forbidden or even undesirable. In the world of Asdar, it is common for a person to worship state gods in a public context and private gods in a private context. In Aurice, the state cult of the Golden Phœnice is not compulsory, but can be essential to progress within Aurician Society. The various members of the Arathracian Commonwealth by default have Arathracianism as the state cult.

Chaos Cults

No discussion of religion would be complete without mention of the Chaos Cults. In the West, chaos cults are widely proscribed by the state. However, their historic value is as great as that of the Isxinthion Gods. It is thought that prior to the time of Salmakhamer, no formal distinction was made between the pantheon of Chaos and non-Chaos divinities. Scholars believe that shortly after the time of Salmakhamer, most chaos gods were expunged from the pantheons. In some cases gods who were probably chaos-oriented survived with a slightly modified mythical origin and agenda. The gods Rhio and Threy are thought to be two examples. The god known widely today as Lygdamion is considered one of the most powerful chaos gods. Little knowledge about the chaos gods and cults is available to the average person in the West as most texts written by their worshipers were destroyed during and shortly after the Isbajutha.

Non-Human Religions

The many humanlike races of the world practice their own religious cults. The Amandal Dwarves acknowledge the Seven Dwarven Immortals who are thought to dwell in secret on the Amandal Plateau of the Jaggudorns. Halfling waygods are also a commonly encountered example of humanlike divinities. There are many humanlikes who practice one of the higher religions introduced by humans. For example, there are half-orc and dwarven Incarnandists, full orc Imzaamis, and halfling Arathracians.

Antitheism

In the world of Asdar, the word 'antitheism' indicates the rejection of the worship of divinities, whether many or just one. This contrasts with true atheism. An antitheist does not expressly deny the existence of gods and in most cases, acknowledges the existence of powerful, exocosmic entities. However, he does not believe such beings are worthy of worship. An antitheist actively refrains from worshiping divinities for this reason and thus differs from someone who practices no devotion due to a casual lack of reverence. Some antitheists believe in the divinity of the human (or humanlike) soul. Thus antitheists come from differing philosophical backgrounds, with some being deeply spiritual, some being irreligious, and some being somewhere in between. As a rule, antitheists do not practice their beliefs in large, formal groups, although they occasionally do gather in small groups, especially in philosophical and academic clubs in towns and cities.

List of Gods, Religions and Sects of Asdar

See Also