Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Valderia Ho! - Getting to Know Moran Part 3

Following up on the home life of the Valderian Empire, I'd like to now shed some light on the predominant religion of the empire. Once again, these beliefs and customs do not extend into The Lyndermarkes nor due they comprise the entirety of all beliefs and practices throughout the eastern parts of Moran. There are certainly numerous cults and minor faiths found here and there, especially in The Baronies which were not always part of the Valderian Empire.

The Divinities
The human lands of continent of Moran is dominated by two prevailing religions, that of the baronies and that of the markes. The faiths are The Valderian faith, which is based around a seemingly endless collection of divinities and the religion of The Lyndermarkes. 

The religion of the realm has no name of its own and is simply known as the Valderian faith. It includes a dozen or so central deities and countless minor demigods referred to as divinities. Most holy men of this religion do not dedicate themselves to a particular god or goddess but instead preach the religion as a whole, observing holidays and rituals as befits the time of year or occasion.

Tolerance is not a strong point of the Valderian way and clerics of this faith are reluctant to give any consideration to the beliefs of others. This is not to say that Valderian clerics are enemies of other faiths or that they have any ill will toward other faiths just that they have no place in their cosmology for others. It has been said that the Valderian way reflects the complicated society in which the people live in. The Valderian faith is presided over by a maternal sea goddess, Mystrael, who rules the various facets of the Valderian world through the divinities, who represent the various key elements of the world. Divinities such as Ephimae, goddess of winds are prayed to for calm sailing weather while others like Demesna are asked for a rich harvest. Beneath such deities are countless minor deities of place, function and occasion. These saints are associated with nearly every element of day to day life and are called on for everything from good marks in school to finding the right boy to take to the country dance.

Most houses have private altars to their favorite or patron demigod saints as well as numerous icons for the more prominent deities of the faith. Children are blessed before these altars. Marriages and funerals are conducted in temples with full ceremony and it is not considered proper to conduct these events without the proper facilities and rituals performed by the proper holy men. Even in the rural areas there are temples devoted to the faith at which all important observances are carried out.

Those who cross the Valderian way are frowned on and often outcast from their families and polite society but that is usually the extent of any punishment meted out by the clerics of the faith. Severe transgressions against the faith are dealt with by the church itself and punishments, in these instances can range from expulsion from the realm, imprisonment, or even death. Though it is believed that they will do so, clerics of the Valderian way do not often wait for their gods to punish transgressors.

The relationship between the Valderian faith and the states of the realm is a tenuous one. Few princes and noble and not even The King will outright defy the church but few of them truly feel they are beholden to it either. Nobles and merchants often do their expected duties in the eyes of the church while carrying on a secular existence that is more detached from the teaching and beliefs of their faith. They are, however, careful to keep any inappropriate behaviors or actions either where they can be excused or where the church cannot prove anything with any surety.

The main interaction between the clerics and nobility of Valderia is in the sanctifying of their ranks and any important proclamations, dedications, or other pronouncements. Without the official recognition of the clerics of Valderia, no noble can be certain that the common folk will accept such rulings. In many cases such recognitions of state affairs are assured by generous donations to the local temples or by the promise of favors to clerics or their causes.

The center for Valderian religion is in the capital city of Daletres where the original shrine to Mystrael can still be found at the pinnacle of the modern altar in the Grand Temple of Mystrael. All cities in the baronies have a primary temple dedicated to Mystrael. These are either stand alone or part of a greater temple complex such as in Daletres where the temple complex is nearly its own township. Whether a part of a complex or also stand alone, there will then be numerous temples to other divinities with those most important to the city or barony being more grand than the others.

Off the coast of Lotressa there is a chain of islands known as the Entrails of Parassadore. These islands have been sacred ever since High Diviner Arnesto Ilcaba had a vision of The Great Divinity of The Sea, Parassadore. Since then the islands have been considered clerical lands and comprise a vast expanse of gardens, orchards and monasteries.  Here the Sea Diviners have amassed the wealth of Valderian knowledge and insights into huge libraries. It is also here that the empire’s most advanced and well-crafted ships are built. The islands are also home to a navigator’s college where those willing to pay for the education can learn all the greatest secrets of sea navigation. Parassadorian are much sought after far and wide, even in Lyndermarkes.

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