Bog's World

Altogether elsewhere

<< Previous Annex Next >>

Religious symbolism of the twins

Ascendants

Many people in the Iron Kingdoms openly worship Morrow, and many of them have a patron Ascendant, whether they are formally dedicated to that patron or not. The likenesses of these Ascendants appear prominently in paintings and statuary in the homes and courtyards of the faithful. Small tokens featuring symbols representing these Ascendants are attached to the Radiance of Morrow as a part of a dedicated priest's holy symbol, embroidered on some articles of clothing, or emblazoned upon tools, weapons, and armour.

  • Katrena Depicted as an armoured woman wielding Katrena's Hook or a long sword and a shield emblazoned with the Radiance. Having been openly worshipped for over two thousand years, a great many variations have cropped up, showing changes in the predominant perception of what a lady knight should look like. She is frequently represented through the weapon that bears her name.
  • Ellena Depicted as a robed woman with a compass held in an upturned hand, an Enkheiridion in the other. Her symbol is a glyph commonly used in maps for orientation, indicating the cardinal directions, a four-pointed star, with one point extending to North. When suspended beneath a holy symbol to show patronage, the North point connects directly to the bottom of the Radiance.
  • Doleth Depicted as man in peasant's garb, holding a net in his right hand. As with Ellena, a great many mundane items are associated with his Ascendant, but the most broadly-used abstraction of him is Doleth's Knot, a simple but sturdy tie used to hold the main sheet fast on sailing vessels.
  • Solovin Depicted as an armoured man with a long sword at his hip, holding a mortar an pestle. His symbol is a snake bearing a willow branch in its mouth entwined around a sword.
  • Angellia Depicted as a simply-dressed woman bearing an opened Enkheiridion.
  • Gordenn Depicted as a man in peasant's garb, with a hoe in the crook of his left arm and a sheaf of wheat in his right hand. Gordenn's symbol is a square bisected horizontally, then quartered vertically. This symbol represents the farmer's fields, the seasons, the primary crops (the specific crops represented vary from region to region).
  • Sambert Depicted as a heavily-build man wearing an apron. He holds a plum (level) in one hand, and a trowel in the other. His symbol is a compass and square.
  • Rowan Depicted as a woman in simple clothing with a sword at her hip, holding a bowl with both hands. Her symbol is called Rowan's cup.
  • Corben Depicted as an aged man wearing the traditional garb of the learned elite (this varies regionally), he holds an Enkheiridion to his chest with his righ hand, and another book (his spell book) at his side, held in his left hand.
  • Markus Always depicted in armour, likenesses of this Ascendent wield either a sword or axe (the preference here is largely regional). His symbol is either an axe or sword in the foreground with a shield in the background. The national symbol of Ord can be considered a variation of the symbol of Markus.
  • Shevann An ascendant associated with bankers? The most evil profession known to mankind? This has to be some kind of Thamarite trick. I don't have any good ideas for this that wouldn't be better associated with Bolis. Maybe something involving children that can't eat because daddy has debts to pay off? Fat lazy people growing wealthy while other people work? She was a key player in brokering the end of the Cygnaran Civil War, so I suppose something that symbolises naive optimism doomed to spectacular failure (as shown by current events) would be appropriate here. Snake oil, perhaps? Some medicine that is ultimately poisonous to those who use it? OK, I admit that isn't fair.

Scions

I see the depictions of Thamar's Scions as being a bit more abstract and less-easily-identified than Morrow's Ascendants. Only Stacia is routinely depicted by her actual gender, the others varying to suit the needs of whomever created the likeness. Few are the places where the open worship of Thamar is accepted (e.g. nobody wants to do business with a merchant that worships Scion Bolis), so these figurines are often kept hidden away in secret shrines. Only extremely-influential Thamarite congregations can risk the construction of large temples and cathedrals, and even then they are hidden away and guarded. The symbols of these powerful beings are normally only carried by the very bold or very faithful, and even then are not displayed prominently.

There is a great deal of variation in the depictions of individual Scions, due to the decentralised nature of Thamar's following, but certain themes keep recurring either through divine inspiration or by simple association with the Scions' spheres of influence.

  • Ekris Depicted in robes with a crown, circlet, or torque and a scepter or rod in one hand and an Enkheridion in the other. A small flamberge blade resting in a chalice is a frequent symbol of this first Scion, simultaneously representing his ruthlessness, wealth, and the trappings of infernalism. Additional symbology pertaining to the precepts of infernalism, the study of Telgesh Runes, and the virtues of a proper tyrant are often incorporated into the design of the chalice. Nearly any trapping of advanced infernalism is associated with Scion Ekris. Similarly, nearly any trapping of nobility can be associated with him, to the eternal frustration of kings and queens throughout Immorese history. Every tax, prohibition, imprisonment, and execution -- however reluctant -- that is ordered by a regent is in some way a tribute to Ekris. As with Katrena, Ekris has been held forth as a divine agent for over two-thousand years, but unlike Katrena there is little homogeneity in the depiction of Ekris or the symbols used to represent him.
  • Remel There is no Scion Remel, nor was there ever one. The above-linked fiction by Doug Seacat includes scurrilous misinformation propagated by the closed-mined hypocrits of the Sancteum. Don't let them fool you.
  • Delesle Depicted as a hooded figure making a gesture of blessing with one hand, holding a jawbone or femur in the other. In recent times, the animating glyph (used in the construction of thralls) has come to be associated with Delesle, but an older tradition uses three iron rings linked together, or a three-linked length of chain. The links or rings represent life, death, and undead servitude. The second link or ring is often broken.
  • Drayce Depicted as a masked figure in a robe, often with one hand either behind its back or reaching into the robe. As with Bolis, figurines of this Scion are often made of precious materials. Drayce is associated with sweet-smelling perfumes, silk, the color purple, or five blooms of any flower (always five of the same type, never a mix). He's just too dashing to have menacing, brooding symbolism. When I'm feeling particularly silly, he's also associated with fuzzy hats, bellbottom pants, and platform alligator shoes.
  • Khorva Depicted as a robed figure making a gesture of blessing with one hand, holding a down-turned dagger close to the chest in the other. Symbols commonly associated with Khorva include an inverted Menofix, a wagon wheel, or a spider.
  • Lukas The clothing varies, but likenesses of Lukas always have their mouths open and eyes closed, and this Scion is often depicted as bound around the arms by chains (but never with manacles). Symbols associated with Lukas include a toppled cradle, a broken rod or scepter, or any other Ascendant or Scion's symbol inverted.
  • Roth Often depicted in armour, has a box or chest resting at his feet and spear crooked in his right arm. Depicted with an axe or sword in some regions, but never with a mace or flail. The symbol most commonly associated with Scion Roth is a drum. In some areas, a fife or bugle may be used. Soldiers and civilians alike are reminded of him whenever armies march off to do battle, for even the most well-intended of conflicts bring the suffering, greed, and panic that Roth represents. Also associated with Scion Roth is the red flag, an ancient signal used by field commanders to engage at will. Due to this association, the practice has waned and is exceptionally rare in the post-Orgoth world. It is said that when a commander orders this signal, his efforts will be smiled upon by Roth and blessed with the spilled blood of his enemies.
  • Aidan Occasionally depicted precisely as Ascendant Ellena, but frequently with the additon of a spade, mace, or coil of rope. A patron of greedy adventurers, he is associated with the humble piton. A peculiar abstraction of a treasure chest known as Aidan's Box is strongly associated with him, and is often inscribed on the insides of safes to ward off thieves.
  • Nivara I don't have a lot of ideas regarding this remarkable woman. She deserves some truly high-quality imagery. *shrug*
  • Bolis Always depicted as somewhat overweight, statuary of this Scion are often themselves bejeweled. Bolis is often depicted with a jeweler's loup or a set of scales (the scales often indicate that he is exchanging something crude like lead for something fine like gold). Every coin in Immoren is a symbol of this Scion, as they all serve him eventually, and his faithful think of him every time they hear two coins clink together or lay eyes upon something of value. Other images associated with Bolis include a pair of knucklebones showing a "hard eight."
  • Stacia Always depicted as female, bears a flint in one hand, and a scroll in the other. One symbol frequently associated with Stacia is the red dragon lilly, which blooms late in the year, when the hills are dry and winds drive wildfires.

The Order of the Masque

While it is true that the Order of Keeping and the Order of the Fist are the only two publicly known monastic orders in Western Immoren, they are not entirely alone. While more Cyrissists aspire to replace their flesh with undying steel and brass, there are those who believe in transcendence of a more spiritual nature. Inspired by the contemplative orders existing in the Morrowan and Menite churches, the Order of the Masque exists as a home for those who feel called to explore the Maiden's mysteries through intuition and meditation.

Most of the Order's monasteries, what few there are, exist within larger Cyrissist communities, either inside a temple complex or close nearby. Sometimes the monasteries are mobile: one or several masters will take their students with them on the road, traveling from temple to temple to absorb teachings and insight from Cyrissist communities and the world in between.

As part of their regimen for training their bodies to overcome physical obstacles on the road to enlightenment, brothers and sisters of the Masque learn armed and unarmed combat. Weapons favored by the Order are those resembling trappings of the faith, such as small gears with sharpened teeth that function as throwing implements, and lengths of chain like those used in large clockwork engines.

Monks away from their monasteries are frequently agents of one Cyrissist sect or another out on a mission for the faith. Others take specifically to adventuring with a band of non-Cyrissist companions. Understanding the Maiden's many mysteries requires profound wisdom, the likes of which the experience acquired in the varied and exciting adventuring lifestyle can help to cultivate. As the existence of their order is a secret, they typically present themselves to their companions as very agile and self-possessed, but otherwise ordinary warriors.

Adherents of the Order of the Masque usually have the Masque of Cyriss tattooed on their body in a discreet location. They can use this as an identifying mark in a pinch, but they prefer to exchange a shared revelation of lower-level mysteries for that purpose.

General notes about IK Religion

The primary "pragmatic" reason to worship a god, other than merely the desire to belong to a faith of one's upbringing, is the reassurance that a place may be awaiting you in the afterlife within the relatively safe domain of one's patron. The afterlife as depicted by the residents of western Immoren is a cruel and largely unpleasant place, particularly for non-believers[1].

Those who are not faithful are expected to face tremendous unpleasantness in Urcaen, being lost in something of a cosmological wilderness surrounded by hostile and cruel beings that delight in nothing more than preying on loose souls. Whereas those who have been pious and faithful have the hope of a relatively sheltered and rewarding afterlife, should they be shepherded to their god's domain. Because of the War of Souls even those who arrive in a god's domain are not expected to experience endless "peace and tranquillity", as each god's domain requires ongoing vigilance and periodic battles to preserve the safety of the majority. The general consensus is a soul which arrives in their god's domain has a generally positive existence in the afterlife, periodically interrupted by short stints defending the borders of their god's domain or performing other useful services as required. Service to one's god and his domain is a nearly universal part of every religion which includes an afterlife in Urcaen. (Thamarites being the least focused on this aspect, preferring to imagine they will have great liberty in the hereafter, so long as they please the Dark Twin.)

This might be considered a grim outlook on the afterlife compared to some religions, but the inhabitants of western Immoren take these concepts for granted as just part of their reality. Most pious individuals anticipate being rewarded for their faith and actually look forward to serving their god more directly in the hereafter.

There is no particularly compelling reason to avoid paying at least lip-service to one or another of the gods, and most individuals, even those not particularly "spiritual" look at observing some of these formalities as "hedging their bets" for when they die. All the religions of western Immoren are generally in agreement that avoiding worshipping a god results in considerable unpleasantness. Of course some take other routes to avoid Urcaen entirely, such as the more extreme examples of necromancy. The religion of Lord Toruk is one way to attempt to avoid Urcaen, although I'm sure many of their living worshipers wind up dying in ways where their souls cannot be collected, and would likely experience all the same terrors of Urcaen as would afflict a non-believer.

The religion which is the most vague about their afterlife expectations is the Cult of Cyriss, but here again we see an emphasis on avoiding Urcaen by preserving the immortal soul in an ageless machine. This is a privileged status only granted to a small minority, but gives the faithful something to aspire toward.

On the other hand, Dhunians avoid the issue without necromancy by the process of reincarnation. Worshipers of Dhunia believe the goddess collects their souls into Caen on their death to be redistributed, which is another way to avoid the War of Souls or any concerns about the afterlife. Nonetheless, this is still one of the "reasons to worship a god" related to one's fate after death.

Death is a scary thing, and the fear of dying and what comes after is a prime motivator for just about every religion in the Iron Kingdoms, in one way or another.

As far as other pragmatic benefits, there are a number of boons given by many of their gods and their servants to their worshipers, even those who don't join the clergy. The benefits granted by various ascendants and scions to those who worship them, while small, are still appreciated by those who receive them. The pious of western Immoren certainly have a sense that the gods are real and tangible and may in fact actually look out for their interests (at least in some small and abstract fashion). For example, families that revere Asc. Gordenn are absolutely convinced that he aids the fertility, longevity, and general health of their family members. Those who are adherents of Asc. Sambert are convinced the works they craft are just a little better, more rugged, and less prone to wear and tear than if their patron was not looking out for them.

[1] There is no sharp distinction such as in certain real-world religions ("hell" vs. "heaven") but there is a similar dynamic.


<< Previous Annex Next >>