Author Topic: Faith, Religion, Priests and Monks  (Read 191 times)

Jubal

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Faith, Religion, Priests and Monks
« on: August 15, 2020, 10:46:46 PM »
So, a thread about how faith works in this setting. There'll be a separate thread about the actual individual deities that tend to be worshipped, this is more about how worship itself works.

Worship

Most people in Kavis do not pray directly to their deities. Rather, they will have preferred intercessors - generally the dead - who they pray to in the hope that they will intercede with the actual gods. It would be seen as an immense act of hubris to pray directly to a deity for most mortals, and probably something that would call down bad luck (and deeply offend one's intercessor, which has its own raft of potential problems). Family intercessors are the most common example of such, but those with a family intercessor can also pray to other intercessors in particular cases - some locations will have shrines to a particular sprit who can act as intercessor, for example.

The exception to this rule are priests, who usually do pray directly to a deity (though some groups of priests do pray to particularly powerful/notable intercessors themselves). The binding of priest to deity is seen socially as being both a power and a vulnerability for the priest: whilst they have the high favour of their particular deity, their lack of a more general intercessor means that they may find it harder to gain the favour of any other deity when it's needed. There is no real centrality to the priesthood: individual temples are part of civic or village life and jealously guard their local privileges, with most priests being local and apprenticed to previous ones.

There has been a shift towards more centralisation of faith over the past century or so as rulers have become more interested in taking sacred anointing and other symbolism as part of the trappings of their rulership. This is especially the case in Alasia, where the royal dynasty is increasingly promoting the cult of their preferred deity, Chith, and sponsoring building new temples to him in major townships which maintain their connections to senior priests and the royal chaplaincy.

Death and the Afterlife

There are a range of beliefs about what happens after one dies, but the common belief across most of the continent is that the departed spirits of the dead are collected by the god of death, and then taken to wherever they will spend eternity, which is the god's choosing. There is no "land of the dead", and no "heaven": the dead are assumed to very much live amongst the living, although their places may be concealed or inaccessible to the living: homes that are only visible on moonlit nights, ghosts who live among the tree-tops in the village, rabbit-trails that if followed would open out to whole valleys not visible otherwise.

Monasticism & Asceticism

Monks are another thing entirely. Monastic communities can be dedicated to a particular deity, though often this will be a very minor local one, or dedicated to the monastery's founder who is treated as intercessor and spiritual parent to all the monks there, or equally they may be dedicated to a philosophical position that is not necessarily primarily centred on deities. For an example of this last, there are monks and hermits who believe that asceticism is the route to a perfect ordering of society in accordance with nature. Monastic pratice is as varied as monastic philosophy. Some monk groups are ascetics, others more devoted to prayer, others devoted to attempting other forms of perfection in learning or physical prowess.

Monasteries often exist either in close connection with a town, often providing schooling, gaining donations from merchants, etc, or end up being landowners themselves developing regions far outside the best agricultural areas: they can be economically dynamic and politically important players. Larger monasteries can effectively own entire towns, hold markets, and provide the core of a small region's infrastructure. Monasteries are frequently gifted goods, either because someone joining the monastery hands over their previous possessions, or via donors making bequests. In urban areas, monasteries and temples can compete with one another for funding and indeed over philsophical or theological issues to some extent.

Outside monasteries, hermits and wandering individual ascetics can often be found. They are fortune-tellers, sometimes wandering craftsmen or warriors,
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...