RELIGIONS OF SOULSHARD

from Faith in Our World, by Guisep Canbelt, University of Sheinar

To the consternation of the Dhomestic papacy, Dhomism is far from the only religion on Darejh. The Aethani worship their elder gods and nature spirits, while the Tharged profess spiritual allegiance to a myriad of god-like ancestors. Even Dhomism is not the unified religion the Tapestry of Truth attempts to create.

Dhomism

Basic Tenets

Although there are complex philosophical contours to the Dhomestic faith, its basic tenets are relatively simple. Dhomism holds that there is only one supreme god, Dhom and his message is conveyed through his eternally reincarnated avatar, Abeuldhe, blessed by the Soulshard. According to canon, Dhom created the universe and created innumerable worlds, one of which is Aerthas. It was Dhom who gave birth to the Astral Sea and the Elemental Chaos. Dhom created the the gods and the primordials. Everrything is because of Dhom. When his creation was complete, he went into a deep slumber, leaving his creation to its own accord. When he awoke, he found that his children in the Astral Sea and in the elemental chaos had fashioned themselves to be his equal. To be gods. When he saw what had happened, he sent Abeuldhe to guide the peoples of Aerthas from the false paths they had taken. Thus, the dhomestic faith is a universal faith in that it believes every creature was created by Dhom and all may one day be taken into the fold. It does not discriminate by race.

The goal of every person to follow The True Path and enter Dhomshala, the abode of Dhom, located beyond even the astral sea; however, a person only has a finite number of opportunities to make this attempt. Each lifetime is a chance to find the True Path. Thus, the world is believed to be a test of faith and until this test is passed, a person is condemned to be reborn in this world; upon passing this test, one finds final salvation and earns a place in Dhomshala. When judgment day arrives, known as The Reckoning, those who have not escaped the world through rebirth will be destroyed with it as it is plunged into eons of chaos, when it is eventually returned to elemental chaos. In order to guide the faithful through these tests, Abeuldhe sacrificed his salvation to be reborn for eternity. He returned from Dhomshala embedded with the Soulshard. According to canon, each Theyon of Dhọm is his reincarnation. It is believed that when Abeuldhe is no longer reborn and returns to Dhomshala, the day of judgment will be heralded. In this reckoning, referring to as The Shattering, those Dhom will return to destroy his creation so that he may begin anew. When this happens, those who have failed the test of faith will be destroyed with it.

Or, so the canon teaches. There are heresies and schisms within the faith. For example, A small and militant sect, the Raghthians have taken passage from the Arghedhom and interpreted it as the prime test of their faith. The Ragthians believe that many of the false gods have bowed before the awakened Dhom, but not all of them. These, the Shadow Fallen, continue to believe they can fight against him. Of course, as a father, he cannot simply destroy them. Then, there are the primordials of the elemental chaos, who have bound their success and failure alongside the Lord of the Abyss, Thariz' Dhon. The Raghthians believe that their salvation and the delaying of The Reckoning rests upon their ability to fight the battles against those who fail to acknowledge Dhom.

The Arghedhom
The teachings of Dhọm are written in the Dhọmestic holy book, The Arghedhọm. The basic teachings of Abeuldhe are elaborated upon by his reincarnations and the work has expanded to seven volumes. The original Arghedhọm, sheets of soft vellum bound in leather, are kept in the Hall of Teachings in the Citadel of Truth. Very few copies of the entire Arghedhọm are available and most adherents keep copies of popular excerpts bound into a single manuscript.

The Theyon

The official name of the Theyon of Dhom is The Unnamed Truth, Our Sanctity of Dhom, and Primate of Our Salvation. One of the most revered rulers in the known world, the Theyon is the spiritual and political leader of the empire. Dhomists believe the current Theyon is the 30th reincarnation of the Abeuldhe, who found Dhomism centuries ago. Now in her mid 40's, she has followed in her predecessor's footsteps by attempting to make the empire a more benevolent force in the world. Expansion has been stopped and domestic issues have come to the fore. Not all agree with this stance.

Temple Organization

The Dhomestic church has a well organized clergy. The head of the church is the Theyon, but the majority of religious proclamations are made by the Dioed. The thirteen members of the Dioed, appointed by the Theyon, are known as Diocesans. Along with the Theyon, they reside in the Citadel of Truth. Beneath the Diocesans are the 37 Primates who govern the churches in each of the imperial primacies. Most faithful, however, have little contact with either the Primates or the Diocesans; contact with the Unnamed Truth is even less likely. Except for the rare festival, services are provided by the Curates of individual churches. Neophytes to the clergy are known as acolytes.

In addition to the typical clergy that meets the needs of the adherents, there are the martial orders. Answering to the Theyon and the Dioed, their hierarchy is much more structured and rigid. Each order is governed independently of the church by a Precentor. Beneath the Precentor, the orders maintain a military like chain of command. Separate keeps and monasteries are commanded by a Marshal Prelate. Beneath the Marshal Prelates are Prelates, Capitulars, and Canons. Neophytes to an order are known as Cenobites.

Dhomestic Rites and Rituals

The colors of Dhom are orange and white and most clergy wear some semblance of these colors in their ritual garb. The martial orders, managing to exude a certain level of their militant spirit by wearing orange and white tabards over armor. The Tapestry of Truth, when acting openly, cloaks itself in pure white tabards and robes and orange skullcaps. The only exception to this color scheme are the Soul Wardens, who maintain a black attire that is only minimally trimmed in orange.

The most significant holy days involve the births and ascensions of the various Theyons, with the most reverant being the birth and ascension of Abeuldhe himself. Amongst the martial orders, the birth and ascension of Theyon Ragth also hold special significance.


The Gods of Man

Before the emergence of Dhom, humans worshiped a pantheon of gods, those that are seen as the faithless children of Dhom. The various peoples of the world give these gods different names and visages, but scholars have come to believe that they are the same gods under different guise. In fact, this belief was supported by the discovery of the Dobe Tablet by the explorer Maro Vespuc in the ruins of a temple beneath Dobe. Though I question the claim, some of my colleagues have come to believe that there is in reality only a single pantheon of Gods and that even the Lysantho worship the same Gods. The discovery of the Dobe Tablet has had an interesting effect. On the one hand it has resulted in a resurgence in belief in the old gods; on the other, it has also strengthened the faith of the followers of Dhom as they stand against this resurgence.


Aethani Nature Worship

Older than the Dhomestic faith, the Aethani religion is as much philosophy as faith. Although there are variations in the specifics of their beliefs among the various Aethani tribes, Sheinar scholars have deduced certain core elements. At its core, the Aethani believe that every thing has a spirit, a connection to another plane of existence. They hold that the world was created by the God, Sura and his wife, Chani, who manifest their presence in the sun and the moon, respectively. Sura created the physical world and Chani embodied it with spirit. Although they watch over the world in turn, day and night, they no longer have any direct impact on it. It would be remiss to not consider Sura and Chani in light of the Dobe Tablet. Given the attributes of these gods, are they Pelor and Sehanine?

Although it is not quite clear, the Aethani apparently believe that the spirits of the world must be appeased as they are the conduit to Sura and Chani. It is the spirits that guide and protect, harass and punish the Aethani, while the aloof Sura and Chani watch from afar. Some spirits are benevolent guardians, while others are hostile and malevolent tricksters. Some spirits serve as patrons for a tribe, while others may adopt a particularly noble warrior or shaman. There are innumerable spirits, each represented by an animal or natural phenomenon; such spirits are a part of every day life and minor rituals and superstitions are a common among the Aethani. At times, however, spirits may be appeased or called upon for help through the shamans and druids that hold a key place in the Aethani tribes. warriors, shamans, rangers will often be adopted by a particular spirit that becomes their patron. The ordeal that leads to such an adoption is ardous and not all Aethani undergo it.

Of note, some spirits have become elevated to greater standing amongst the Aethani and early scholars mistook them for a pantheon; however, the Aethani only hold Sura and Chani as actual gods. These elevated spirits are Har' Schicaer, Har' Adha, Har' Talva, and Har' Durg.

Har' Shicaer
Also known as the Lord of the Hunt, Har’ Shicaer is often represented as having the upper body of an Aethani and the lower half of a stag. It is believed Har’ Shicaer governs the herds that provide the sustenance of most Aethani tribes. The hunting spears of the Aethani are ritually marked with the runes of Har’ Shicaer so that he will aid them in finding their targets. When the Aethani move to new hunting grounds, a day long ritual is carried out in homage to Har’ Shicaer in which a calf is slaughtered and roasted in a large bonfire. Although the K’ Anhei is a fishing based tribe, they worship Har’ Shicaer in order to insure a bountiful fishing season. In their mythology, Har’ Shicaer has the lower half of a fish, rather than a stag.

Har' Adha
Known as the Princess of Life, Har’ Adha is the life bringer. Aethani women often pray to her for healthy children when they are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant. If a child falls ill or a loved one is injured, Har’ Adha is appeased with sacrifices of one's own blood to insure the person will survive. Har’ Adha is often depicted as a beautiful Aethani woman of an indefinable age.

Har' Talva
Har’ Adha's lover, Har’ Talva is known as the Lord of War. Aethani warriors worship Har’ Talva on a regular basis with special rituals performed before entering battle. When a boy reaches maturity, he may enter an ordeal to seek Har' Talva as his person patron. if successful, he is tattooed with the symbol of Har’ Talva on his chest. A lengthy ritual, it is often painful and designed to test the will of the future warrior. Har’ Talva is depicted as a powerfully built Aethani standing twice as tall and twice as wide as a normal man.

Har' Durg
Har' Durg is a trickster spirit that must be appeased. Depicted as a young Aethani child, sometimes male and sometimes female, Har' Durg is not inherently malevolent but enjoys causing mischief. Often, when accidents happen, Aethani blame Har' Durg.


Ancestor Veneration of the Tharged

Very little is known of Tharged religion, except that they appear to venerate their ancestors. They have no divine gods, but believe that their ancestors watch over them and intercede on their behalf if they are pleased or hinder and harm them if they are not. Each Tharged clan and tribe has its own pantheon of ancestors, and the ancestors of the Junraj are often venerated by the entire tribe, elevated to a state of near godhood. At those times when a Raj Junraj is chosen, the most notable of his ancestors may actually come to be worshiped as Gods.

The shamanic Imadi server as a priesthood for the Tharged, often reading portents and signs sent by an ancestor. A superstitious people, the Tharged engage in ritualistic behaviors as a daily part of life.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License