The world of Arianja, with its many continents and history of invasion, developed many religions. Beginning with various pantheons, which were then superceded by an imported monotheism from a backwater nation, which was eventually overturned by ideologues founded by singular charismatic figures. Below represents some information about the development of faith and religion in Arianja.
The Thirteen Laughing Gods & Other Pantheons
Since the refugees who entered through the Gates had no unified nation or religion of their own, the emerging nations began to develop their own pantheons. Under Khlaovi rule, these pantheons were rolled into a single, riotous and conflicting mythology, the most predominant included:
Celestial Bodies and Incorporating Pantheons
The most common beliefs which later became the bedrock of the shared mythology included a married Sun God and a Moon Goddess, named Rhinn and Trinia respectively. While Rhinn was originally a creature of learning and wisdom, under the increasingly unbearable regime of the Khlaovi, Rhinn was deemed mad. Trinia was then elevated to be the effective ruling monarch of the gods, especially in her role as goddess of sorcery.
Those nations who worshipped three goddesses, generally associated with the elements, were rolled into Trinia's geneology. Dimini, the earth, and Tristesse, the sea, were made into sisters of Trinia, relegating the original third sister, Euvoisie, the stars, into the role of a lesser goddess.
Parfin and Wynn were originally the twin monarchs of their own pantheon that revelled in recklessness, and it's generally considered that association with these two drove Rhinn mad. As they were rolled into the greater pantheon, they didn't lose their popular appeal and their cult has continued lustily, bloodily, and intoxicatingly through the ages.
The Thirteen Laughing Gods (or the Lunatic Gods)
While most of the refugee nations brought religions that worshipped gods, the cultures which eventually founded the north-western shore of Reyjor, all of Jolveg, Vetyl, Wharl, and the northern coasts of Brauzhe and Dvorne, worshipped Stvůra, or "monsters." Barely human in form, these creatures were supposed to be massive and to be feared more than worshipped. A few, such as Grezch and Aoûn were elevated to be among the Lunatic Gods, while others found their way into the Nine Powers and the Seven Fates.
The Nine Powers
A development during between the First and Second Khlaovi Empire was the elevation of folklore creatures to what became known as "The Nine Powers." These were largely tales from the southern nations of Medina, Quoyr, and Gyve, as well as those areas that bordered on the Pleubeq river that divides the continent in half. The powers themselves tended to vary greatly. However, the most common among them are:
The Seven Fates
The Seven Fates were once gods in their own right, coming from the central swathe of the continent, across southern Brauzhe, Dvorne, Jolveg, central Fleuville, Estraille, Lunadie and Aurelia, and into Reyjor itself - which is to say, the lands held by the Vyjsig before their overthrow. The Seven Fates have since been relegated to lesser gods in the pantheon, happening fairly early in the first Khlaovi Empire. Although there is some variation across the nations, they are generally agreed to be:
The Four Graces
These gods came with a small contingent of refugees who populated the southeast corner of Reyjor, but never founded a nation proper. They were wayfarers and travelled extensively to the Rimward nations, the Tortoise's Eye, and even south into the Jing-jang. Through them, eventually, came the Mayvendeist Faith. This pantheon is generally expected to overthrow Trinia's reign, restore Rhinn's sanity, and bring peace to earth.
During the Second Khlaovi Empire, ambassadors who had travelled deep into the Jing-jang in search of enlightenment returned with news about the Father's existence and the True Earth. Monotheism, and particularly a belief in a just and sane God, spread rapidly throughout the Empire, and soon old temples were being repurposed for what was being called Mavyndeism.
The nations had some trouble at first leaving their old gods behind, and attempted to find correlations between this new man-god, his human mother, and their old pantheons - settling for a time on naming the man-god Ålsker and his mother Sulzi.
For a while, priests from the Jing-jang remained with the newly planted churches, but it wasn't long before Khlaovi superiority took hold and they dismissed the missionaries back to their "backwater" country. The religion developed, with a greater eye toward aesthetics than asceticism, and in many temples the old gods began creeping in again.
Some held true to the faith as received from those first missionary priests, but when the Second Khlaovi Empire fell, all forms of Mavyndeism were outlawed, the temples were converted back to worship the Lunatic Gods, and few remained to visit the gold boxes where they say the man-god dwells.
Founded a few decades before the fall of the Second Khlaovi Empire, the Reverendants rejected both the hedonism of Mavyndeism and the polytheism of the Thirteen Laughing Ones, and instead worship the Reverended God as revealed by the Dvornish prophet, Arl.
This strict, conservative religion, with its public confessions and testimonies, strict dress and moral code, and assertion of fiery hell for unbelievers, caught on quickly throughout most of the nations of Arianja. The Reverendant's claim to be the "true" Mavyndeist religion, and its fervor in catching and killing sorcerers made it not only popular but patriotic, especially in Haak Towne, Dvorne, where Arl lived.
Like the Simplists, they distrust art. However, while fanatic in their own right, they are nowhere near the nihilistic equalization of their southern counterparts. Their main image is that of fire: for Enlightenment of the mind, and Judgement of their enemies. They do enjoy a good sing-song. Or at least a sing-song, nevermind the good.
Because there is some moderation in their living styles, no matter their need to evangelize, they are generally considered useful members of society.
Founded by the revolutionary, Valdez, in rebellion against the Khlaovi Empires, the hedonism of Mavyndeism and the Laughing Gods, the Simplist religion is found primarily in the island nation of Medina on the southern shore of the central continent of Arianja.
Striving for absolute simplicity, those who follow the strict religion believe in an Inner Light shared by all humans. They make a conscious effort to erase any exterior differences, including those of gender. Everyone is required to wear grey or beige nondescript clothing, and are encouraged not so much to shine as to blend in.
The nation, once the center of the arts during the Second Khlaovi Empire, has destroyed most of its national treasure, except for what could be smuggled away by families during the Purges. New forms of artistic expression are forbidden at present, unless they are put in the service of state utility.
Speech, too, has been simplified with the result that ideas are difficult to express with a limited lexicon - and "old words" are now highly valued on the black market. Those who trade in language call out the taboo words to likely customers, who then may pay for the definition and use. This has led to the creation of new words by hawkers who make up nonsense, as well as the re-appropriation of actual words by those who hear old language and are too cheap to buy the definition and so make up their own. The first word to be eradicated was "God,"
Since utility is valued over all, those who are born ill are terminated immediately by exposure in the desert. Those who obtain a chronic illness or sustaining injury, or anyone over the age of 50 (younger for a woman who has reached menopause) is meant to submit themselves to Illumination - that is, self-immolation - with the belief that their spirit will be freed to be reincarnated into a healthy, Simple body.
In an effort to keep his nation pure, Valdez created the Valez Ravine, cutting off Medina from the rest of the continent and turning the nation into an island state. Likewise, after razing the capitol, he created the monolithic city of Terra Lucien (Light of the Earth) in the middle of the desert. It is said that only the truly faithful may be permitted to live there.
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(c) Emily C. A. Snyder