This is the first of two articles about the religious practices and symbols in the Federated Nations region. This one covers the more-commonly worshiped gods--the Seasonal Four, Aerielara, Korokonolkom, Peor-Fala, and Roel Kor. Religious Rites and Patterns, Part 2 will cover the rest.
What do the clergy of the various Congregants do? How are the Congregation depicted in sculpture and art? What are the precepts of the Congregation? How does this differ by nation? All those are answered here.
The Seasonal Four
Tor Elan, Sun-Lord
Usual Depiction: a humanoid figure in full, plain plate armor with a full helm that hides the face. He bears a heater shield with a full sun (golden) on a white field and a simple cross-hilted long sword, point down.
Companions/Demigods: The Shield-maiden, the Youth, the Squire
Worship: Worshiped as the head of the Seasonal Four in the Council, heavily worshiped in the Dynasty. His clergy are the militia heads in the villages and lead in training exercises. They often take the role of administrators. They wear armor whenever possible and are always armed. Offerings are deeds—heads of threatening beasts, weapons taken from foes, etc. His festivals usually involve ritual combat. Unlike Roel Kor’s combats, surrendering is considered bad form, as is any kind of underhanded tactics. Wrestling, running races, and other athletic contests are very common. “The sun sees all” is an admonition to do one’s duty honestly.
Religious Precepts: Be loyal to those in authority; those in authority must consider carefully their duty. Meet the enemy head on to prove your faith. Be willing to die before letting the weak suffer. Never betray an oath; live with honor even in the face of deceit. Smite the foe that that threatens your people.
Melara, Lady of Mercy
Usual Depiction: A white-haired woman, neither old nor young. Her eyes are silver. She is dressed in a simple floor-length gown with a fur mantle over it. Usually depicted facing a kneeling figure (exact details vary), wiping a tear from the figure’s eye with one hand on its head.
Companions/Demigods: The Handmaiden
Worship: Worshiped as part of the Seasonal Four in the Council Lands, especially by the elderly (especially women). Clergy are often responsible for grave upkeep. Only rarely worshipped in the Dynasty, due to associations with winter. Her temples are simple with only a simple altar (always covered with a lace-work snowflake cover). Her clergy often spend their younger years as traveling healers and grave-tenders. They retire to stationary shrines when they’re too old to travel. While they do not take vows of poverty, they do live simple lives. Her clergy are also always trained in combat, emphasizing anti-undead skills. Offerings to her are focused on memorializing the dead. Stories of their lives, simple incense, things like that. Her clergy accept food and shelter in exchange for healing and grave-tending, never money.
Religious Precepts: Honor the dead, learn from the past. Suffer not the necromancer or his spawn to live. Live quietly. Grant mercy to the defeated living; protect those that are weak. As the snow protects the winter wheat, preserve life with all its potential. Lay the undead to rest. Suffer not the lich to live. Respect the dead and their resting places.
Loran Hae, Shadowed Sun
Usual Depiction: A male half-elf (lightly pointed ears and slight elven features, dark hair), wearing simple clothes. He bears a sickle in one hand and a sheaf of grain in the other.
Companions/Demigods: Sheaf-binder Caleb, Thresher Cain
Worship: Worshiped as part of the Seasonal Four in the Council Lands, especially by middle-age men and halflings. Offerings involve first-fruits of the harvest, presented to the priest for his blessing and then eaten as part of a festival. Clergy often solemnize marriages and contracts. A common expression in the Sea of Grass region is “sure as the sun in shadow”, meaning certain to occur. Worshiped in the Dynasty, where the contractual precepts are de-emphasized and the hard work precepts are emphasized.
Religious Precepts: You reap what you sow. In hard work is salvation. Carefully prepare for the upcoming winter. Those that will not work, cannot eat. Make bargains carefully, because you will be judged for failing to follow through.
Sakara, Lady of the Dawn
Usual Depiction: A young woman wearing a belted tunic that reaches just above the knees. Her face is open and cheerful. She wears a crown of white flowers; one hand is in front of her, palm flat, with a songbird on it. In painted depictions she is usually standing in a field of spring flowers.
Companions/Demigods: The Fawn
Worship: Commonly worshipped in the Council and the Dynasty. Her festivals are dances, parades and parties, celebrating new life. Children born over the winter are named. Unmarried people often find partners—expectations of fidelity are loosened (except among the dwarves, of course). “As seen in Dawn’s light” or “[he/she]’s seeing by Dawn’s light” is an expression meaning that one is over-optimistic (much like saying that someone is a Pollyanna).
Religious Precepts: Protect animals, especially the cute ones. Protect children and young creatures of all races—violence against those that would harm children is required. Be cheerful and happy. Sing and laugh, for winter is over. Spring is a time to fall in love.
Non-Seasonal Major Deities
Aerielara, The Jeweled Lady
Usual depiction: A high-elven woman of unsurpassed beauty, wearing little except strategically placed gemstones. Her hair color is iridescent and her pose is scandalous. Usually white marble or alabaster skin.
Companions/Demigods: Lyre-plucker T’a, Mad Martigan, The Dancer in the Dark
Worship: Commonly worshiped by artists, musicians, bards, and prostitutes. Her clergy, both men and women, are always beautiful and charismatic. Her temples (which are many, especially among the high elves and the rich) are beautifully decorated in rich materials. Youths are often tutored in sexual arts at these temples before they marry. For humans and high elves there is very little stigma to patronizing one of her acolytes. The second-most worshiped deity in the Stone Throne, especially among the Isal classes. There the primary focus is dance and rhythmic music. In beauty hides thorns—her clergy often are also trained in poisons and unarmed self-defense.
Religious Precepts: Truth is found in beauty; ugliness is evil. Give in to passion—do what makes you happy without regard for the judgement of others. Spread beauty and pleasure, destroy ugliness and misery.
Korokonolkom, The King Below
Usual depiction: A larger-than-life hairless, muscled humanoid (goliath? Giant?), head bowed and fists pressed together. Usually covered in painted “runes” (usually nonsense) and wearing a loincloth. Usually made out of a dark stone.
Companions/Demigods: The Lovers (a pair of dwarves),
Worship: Korokonolkom is dominantly worshiped among the dwarves of the Council. His worship is especially strong in and around Fuar Uulan.
Traditional dwarves: A deep hole is bored at the base of the statue. Worshipers arrive, write their prayers on pieces of flat slate and silently hand their written prayers to the officiant, who holds them up to the statue and then drops them down the hole. When the hole is filled (which can take decades), a new hole is bored. No words are ever spoken in the shrine. To do so is sacrilege.
Heretics: There are heretic groups (mostly dwarven but this is spreading to the local human communities as well) that practice tests of endurance including self-flagellation. A worshiper’s status is determined by how long they can go without making a noise or flinching while being subjected to discomfort or pain.
Religious Precepts: Endure whatever comes. Face it head-on and refuse to bend. Be slow to trust new people or ideas. Remember offenses against self and clan and repay them with interest. Sacrifice self for clan and honor. Honor your written word—lying in writing is a cardinal sin.
Usual Depiction: A heavily pregnant woman with a spoon in one hand and an open flame in the other. Often depicted surrounded by a bunch of children who are climbing on her and at her feet.
Companions/Demigods: The Woodcutter, the Firestarter
Worship: Worshiped by mothers, mostly. The highest concentration of her worshipers is among the halflings on the Sea of Grass, with most clans having an attached priestess (who is never Kliba). Her clergy are healers and caretakers (usually women). They are all married and have many children. Unlike Melara’s clergy, Peor-Fala’s are stationary. Halfling children are brought at the end of their first week to her priestesses for blessings; naming follows later. Gifts of useful items are what she wants—these are distributed to the needy.
Heretics: The Sin-Eaters are a heretic sect that believes that theirs is the duty to take on the sins of violence and “cleansing” so that the faithful can remain undisturbed. They are highly militant and believe in cleansing the world from the unclean (goblins, undead, demons, and orcs mainly). They are active only on the border between the Council and the Orc-lands, where they maintain a keep. As long as they don’t bother honest folk, they’re tolerated. Rumors among the wise say that although they worship Peor-Fala, it’s Roel Kor or Pinwheel who’s their actual divine patron.
Religious Precepts: Be fruitful and multiply. Children are a blessing. Non-violence is the way to live. Keep the hearth burning and under control. Cooperate with your neighbors. Husbands, love your wives. Wives, obey your husbands. Care for the poor and the orphans and widows. Violence must be the last resort, and only to defend the defenseless. Clergy should not benefit at the expense of others. Possessions beyond the necessary should be used for the benefit of others, especially the poor.
Roel Kor, the Red Crown
Usual Depiction: A male high elf, wearing red-painted, ornately-decorated plate armor and wearing a crown. He wields a two-handed mace. A multi-colored snake is wrapped around his shoulders, head out with fangs displayed.
Companions/Demigods: Ssss’al, the Serpent.
Worship: Not often worshiped in the Council, although the Monarchists certainly venerate him. Tied with the Jeweled Lady for worship among the Stone Throne, especially among the lower classes. Combat (physical and intellectual) competitions are common. Playing dragon-chess is a common replacement for actual violent combat. His worship is the most ritualistic, with many exacting rules and status-dependent rites—commoners and nobles worship at different times and in different ways. Many offerings are token blood offerings, preferably shed in combat. Surrender in ritual combat is allowed and encouraged if overmatched. Know your place and all that.
Religious Precepts: The strong rightfully dominate the weak, by force if necessary. Order is only possible through strict hierarchy. Those that can act, should. Violence is necessary to get one’s way. Might is right. In exchange for protection, the weak should honor and respect the strong.