The world

The world is round, like an apple (not like a pancake) and the rest of the universe is built around it. First come the clouds, then the moon, then the sun, then the planets, then the stars. How all these things stay up in the sky is something that gods know and people don't. The gods live beyond the stars and the anie part of a person also goes there after death, with the soul or divine spark (vurie), to live with the gods. Only the gods know whether a person can come back to another life in another body.

It is not necessary to believe in the gods. Believing in the gods would be as silly as believing in trees; it's clear that they exist. Everyone is free to worship one or more of the gods. Who you worship depends on your general outlook, profession, natural aptitude and such things. It is generally not done to worship the Nameless (though some people do).

The creation

In the beginning there was the One. The One was not made, nor born, but always existed. In time, the One divided into male and female, the One Creator and the Mother.

Then the One went on, in order to please the Mother, to imagine the world. Whatever he imagined came into existence. First he made the earth, the moon, the sun, planets and stars; then land and sea, hills and mountains, rivers and streams; then every green and growing thing; then all the animals. Every time the Mother spurned him. Finally he made beings that were animal in body, but divine in spirit: rastin, "the thinkers", people. This drew the Mother's attention and she turned toward him. After a while twin children were born, Archan and Anshen, later followed by Naigha, Mizran and Timoine.

The One

Having given the world to the Mother, the One does not bother with it much any more. He is called upon as a witness in the worship of other gods, but does not have his own rituals or feast days. There is no traditional image of the One except "unseen". Other cultures (for instance Velihas) do worship him as "the Father".

The Mother

Her traditional image is that of an amply built middle-aged woman. She is concerned with the fertility of the land, plants, animals and people, and everything in that sphere: among other things agriculture, animal husbandry, human sexuality, marriage and family life. There are many regional feasts of the Mother, mostly celebrated by women of childbearing age. Holy places of the Mother are usually somewhere in the wild, where everything is lush and growing: a pool, a spring (sometimes shared with Timoine), a large and unusual tree. Women come there to petition the Mother for fertility, bringing gifts of flowers or fruit when their prayers are answered. Marriage ceremonies are held at such a place; the woman takes the man there and they exchange vows of fidelity in the presence of a witness, who should be a woman no longer fertile, usually either partner's mother or grandmother or an older friend of the couple.

Anshen and Archan

The Mother's eldest sons, identical twins. Anshen is generally thought to be the elder. They started out equal and in concord, but Archan grew proud and tried to elevate himself above the One. The One then commanded Anshen to throw him out of the gods' dwelling place. Anshen did that and stripped him of all he had, except his anger.

Ever since, Anshen has been the Principle of Good (the name means either "Light of the Spirit" or "Spirit of Light", scholars disagree) and Archan the Fallen Adversary, the Principle of Evil.

Archan's name is not used any more except by his followers. Most people talk about "the Nameless One". The Guild of Anshen calls him "the Enemy" or "the Adversary". The day that used to be his was moved to the end of the week and designated "the day without a name" (hanre nafur). It's an unlucky day, not suited to starting new things, though auspicious for finishing something or wrapping up loose ends.

Anshen personifies the fight against evil and fighting for a good cause in general. His traditional image is that of a man in his prime, wearing a red cloak over full armor and bearing a sword.

Element: Fire
Direction: South
Season: Summer
Feast day: Midsummer
Colour: red

Worshippers: fighters, from army generals to city guards; all people with psychic gifts (semti) on the side of Good, whether they actually fight or not. Most of these people are members of the Guild of Anshen.

Archan has some worshippers too; even real believers who are not only in it for personal power. They usually keep quiet because they're not well-liked as such. Most of those who are gifted with semsin and worship Archan are in the Guild of Archan, parallel to the Guild of Anshen.

Naigha

This goddess is concerned with the end of human life: old age, death, and the afterlife. Her traditional image is that of an old, thin woman in dark, usually midnight blue, clothing.

Priestesses of Naigha (there are no priests of Naigha) concern themselves mostly with care for the dying and dead, but also have more general medical skills. Naigha has a temple in every town and village, ranging from only one priestess who is the local undertaker, herbalist, midwife, schoolteacher and general wise-woman, to the Great Temple in Valdis, with hundreds of priestesses.

It is a strange calling. The priestesses lead a celibate and ascetic life, except at the Midwinter feast when they indulge in everything that they deny themselves for the rest of the year.

Priestesses of Naigha can be recognized by the snake tattoo that starts with the snake's head on the back of the hand and goes on to coil itself around the wrist and arm; the higher a priestess is in the Temple hierarchy, the more coils she has. Coils on the right arm mark grades of initiation in matters of hayen and sein (medicine, funeral duties) and on the left arm in matters of anea (ritual, semsin). Village priestesses usually have one or two coils on each side; Airyn, who was High Priestess in Valdis in the first Queen Alyse's time, had nineteen coils on the left arm (up to her shoulder - she may have had more grades but the markings didn't fit any more) and seventeen on the right.

The Temple of Naigha has its own way of handling semsin, geared to healing and easing the passage from life to death. Gifted priestesses aren't in the Guild of Anshen as such (or, the gods forbid, in the Guild of the Nameless), but tend to cooperate with Guild members.

Element: Earth
Direction: North
Season: Winter
Feast day: Midwinter
Colour: dark blue, black

Worshippers: anyone who sees the end of his or her life approaching, or who lost a loved one to death.

Care of the dead

When somebody dies, it is understood that the person has left an empty husk that is not even hayen (living matter) any more, it's sein, inert matter. This does not mean it shouldn't be treated with proper reverence. Those left behind wash the body, dress it in clean clothes, wrap it in a cloth, blanket or cloak and get the priestesses, who carry it to a burial place, usually underground. Apart from the priestesses, only blood relations are allowed to be present at a burial; this means that a single village priestess burying someone who dies without issue has to carry the body into the burial place by herself, though others can assist her carrying it to the entrance.

Mizran

Mizran deals with the economy, the material side of life: trade and commerce, real estate, crafts, hunting and fishing, everything to do with money and riches, as well as government and politics, the exact sciences, and a large number of smaller affairs.

He has his temple in every trade centre. People go there to pray for success in every material affair, such as favourable weather for shipping, making a good deal, passing craft guild exams. Prayer to Mizran is usually accompanied by a sacrifice in money or goods. Offers are used to maintain the temple and pay the priests.

The Temple of Mizran also serves as bank, merchants' guildhall, weighing-house and tax office. In addition to the priests by profession --who usually come up through the ranks, starting as clerks-- all guildmasters count as priests of Mizran and have vestments that they wear on formal occasions. They tend to see it as an honour rather than a duty.

The High Priest or Priestess of Mizran ("the Mighty Servant") is one of the most important people in town. He or she is appointed for life and sits on the town council. A bad Mighty Servant can be very bad for the local economy (an evil Mighty Servant, on the other hand, might be good for the local economy, at least for a while).

Priests of Mizran are not usually in the Guild of Anshen or the Guild of the Nameless, because those Guilds concern themselves mostly with spiritual matters that conflict with Mizran's priorities.

The traditional image of Mizran is that of a well-to-do citizen, merchant, craftsman or scholar, dressed in fashionable clothes and rich fabrics. In rural areas he is accompanied by a fox.

Element: Air
Direction: West
Season: Autumn
Feast day: Autumn equinox
Colour: blue, gold

Worshippers: merchants, craftspeople, hunters, fishers, sailors.

Timoine

Timoine is the 'enfant terrible' of the gods, an androgynous deity who tends to appear to people as a impish child of their own sex, on the verge of puberty. Of all the gods Timoine appears most often, usually in unexpected forms and places.

Her portfolio includes all beginnings, springs and sources; conception and pregnancy (shared with the Mother), childbirth, infancy and childhood; the arts; and everything anarchic.

Timoine has no priesthood. Every child (and adults who feel so inclined) can do priestly duties. They make up their own rituals, often involving water, flowers, music and dance.

Element: Water
Direction: East
Season: Spring
Feast day: Spring equinox
Colour: green

Worshippers: children, midwives, artists, "the Green Guild" (performers and entertainers, who wear something green about their person, if only a ribbon, as a sign of their devotion to Timoine; the only entrance requirement is that another member gives you the first piece of green), anyone who Timoine has kept for herself after puberty.

The end of the worship of Timoine

All children belong to Timoine and Timoine belongs to all children. In a child's mind there's a special place where Timoine is. It is something that children do not need to learn, though they can lose their innocence an thereby unlearn it (a very bad thing). When a child reaches puberty, Timoine recedes from this place, leaving room for something else. This can be one or more of several things: other gods, memories of childhood, or when things are completely wrong, emptiness or bitterness.

Some people close off the place altogether, forgetting that they were ever young. Some people hold on to their memory of childhood as a rare and precious thing to be kept under lock and key. Some people were born with the ability to use anea, and they usually discover it as Timoine takes her leave, leaving behind the awareness of these gifts as a farewell present.

There are also people who Timoine will not release her hold on. They are marked. This mark can take the form of artistic ability, an unusual affinity for children, a talent for midwifery, just a few quirks of personality, or out-and-out madness. Timoine is always fickle.

Tainene Hestin Moch - The Four Invocations of the Gods

This is a prayer, or rather a set of prayers, that everyone knows. It's used at the beginning of any ritual, and many people say it (or at least the part of it that refers to the god that they happen to worship) every day. Note that the Second Invocation has two different versions.

Tain duyen Timoine
Lea vestie chazay
Dayin tarie
Leseni parin
Hanieni ryste
Verein laze
Aniez so chazay.
Great god(dess) Timoine
Who art at the beginning
Master (mistress) of Water
Joy of children
Strength of youth
Star of the morning
Be with us too.
Tain duyen Anshen
Lea donies chazay
Ruzei tarie
Tylsenin orea
Semtini shalan
Chalenin rythan
Aniez so chazay.
Great god Anshen
Who art on the great journey
Master of Fire
Might of swords
Guard of the gifted
Leader of runners
Be with us too.
Tain duyen Archan
Lea donies chazay
Ruzei tarie
Arleni tylsen
Semtini gronan
Mustenin rythan
Aniez so chazay.
Great god Archan
Who art on the great journey
Master of Fire
Sword of the world
Commander of the gifted
Leader of warriors
Be with us too.
Tain duyen Mizran
Lea hinsien chazay
Rachei tarie
Sorenin farne
Salnei torin
Bochei menan
Aniez so chazay.
Great god Mizran
Who art at the top
Master of Air
Teacher of hunters
Fame of maturity
Giver of wealth
Be with us too.
Tain duyen Naigha
Lea farie chazay
Morhein tarie
Amrei colan
Ruvei pulan
Vorei nafalan
Aniez so chazay.
Great goddess Naigha
Who art at the end
Mistress of Earth
Gatekeeper of life
Reaper of old age
Protectress of the grave
Be with us too.
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