by Max Barry

Latest Forum Topics

Advertisement

3

DispatchAccountCulture

by The Senate and Freeholders of The Land of the Ephyral. . 111 reads.

Ephyra | Religion Wiki | OUT OF DATE

EPHYRA
RELIGION WIKI



The ancient Selian religion, known additionally as Ephyral polytheism, Selian polytheism, Ephyral paganism, or Selian paganism, is the set of the beliefs, rituals, mythology, and ceremonies that originated in the land of Selia, though the modern instance is known specifically as Ephyral under the Freehold's revival of religious tradition following Roman rule. Worship varied between popular public religion and personal cult practises, and though individual concepts are not universal across all Selian denominations, most of them do however share the bulk of what defines the religion as being of Selian origin.

The story of the Selian mythos produced some fourteen significant deities recognised as the major deities, often regardless of geographic location or local patron god or goddess. This has to do with the foundation of the world as well as other factors. These major gods have cults to them all over the Selian world, including the far-flung colonies of the Black Sea, Atlantic, Western Mediterranean and more, where alongside the patron god or goddess of the colonists home (often one of these major deities), devotions to the whole fourteen might be found. Importance of a particular god might be seen through the veneration of his or her other aspects in other polytheistic religions, or minor deities of similar fields.

As many of the original Selian colonies are now reunited under the Freehold, though with the descendants of many still beyond its borders, many of the individual cults and practises developed by these individual states have become assimilated back into the popular public religion endorsed by the state. More is to be said for the diasporas of Selians and their religious practises found as far west as Washington, and as far east as Japan and Paglaum. Because of this, idols, shrines, and other religious artefacts of the Selian faith are found across the Mediterranean and even further beyond into Europe and Asia.

Beliefs


Theology

The Selian religion is polytheistic, holding a belief in a vast number of gods and goddesses, as well as spirits, daemons, mythical entities, heroes, demigods, and so on besides. These gods, and to an extent the lesser supernatural entities, were organised into a concept of hierarchy, often presented in the manner of a court or a family tree. No one deity is considered all powerful or almighty, though some are considered to have greater control over others, and specific control over a sphere of nature or abstract concept. Ishax is considered to be king of all the gods, exercising a form of regal authority over the post-primordial pantheon. Ishax's own specific spheres are that of the sky, the state, and just rule. He is also the 'father' of many of the gods. The gods and goddesses are regarded to be a form of immortal, though stories argue whether this means they are immune to death itself, or immune to death simply by mortals, as there are stories that show gods slaying other gods for good, as well as gods whose death was merely a temporary setback.

On top of this, the gods are assigned human qualities, and are not all-good. The gods, as well as many supernatural spirits, exhibit emotions as humans do. They are believedto feel love, happiness, anger, sadness, envy, and grief. They are capable of inflicting great harm or great bounty, though typically in abstract manners and aside from the mythological stories, rarely through direct present intervention. Because of their humanised characteristics, the gods are presented in human form, though additionally quite regally and in customary Selian attire. Gods are presented as masculine, triumphant, and powerful, to show their mastery over their cult and the aspect of nature they rule over. Goddesses are similarly shown as powerful but in a feminine light, often being described as beautiful beyond comprehension, though this is not universal. Gods and goddesses both have earned the ire and distaste of the Selians for their actions. Goddesses are known to commit acts in violation of Selian moral ideas, as are the gods, in acts of adultery, rape, murder, and hubris.

Interaction between mortals and gods in the myths often comes in the form of carnal relationships, typically siring demigods. The majority of these interactions take place between god and mortal woman, sometimes consensual in conduct, but often through deception or rape. The gods may also intervene (even on opposite sides) in conflicts and wars. At the foundation of certain cities and settlements, the god whom was most important to a group of people are known to take this god as a patron. Heroes too serve as patrons, such as Ephyra itself named for the priestess of Lysharar, and the one-time consort of the war-god Nalarion. However not all gods were idealised the same way between states, as often competing states would find different ways of appealing to deities as per their own specific rites.

The complex, and often violent nature of the gods is believed to be at once shaped by the Selian culture of the time, and to have shaped it in turn. Historical and even modern attitudes to certain crimes and acts are shocking in their priority to outsiders, as well as shocking by how these concepts are received. Mythological stories, held as truth by many, demonstrate clearly how even acts like murder and rape can produce a good, with arrogance and extreme overconfidence being regarded as the height of all moral depravity, often producing the aforementioned crimes, but being far more reprehensible in and of itself.

Gods

The number of gods and goddesses held in reverence by cults and people across the Freehold, under Selian influence, is vast. Major gods whose cults are universal across the Freehold include those deities such as Ishax, Rhea, Veleys, and Nalarion. Others, who are more specific, include Adereon, Gelika, Korzion, or Onos, whose cults may be restricted to a small area or households. The broadness of the pantheon is so vast that citizens living in Valysys may go their whole lives without ever hearing the name of a Selian god who is cultivated in north Africa, or even knowing that this deity was part of their pantheon. The complexity is only added when one considers the adoption of other gods into the Ephyral pantheon from people whom the Selians have conquered and have been conquered by. Roman, Egyptian, Thracian, Persian, and other gods exist as aspects of and distinct entities from Selian gods and goddesses. Isis, the Egyptian goddess, is considered an aspect of Rhea.

Beyond the mainstream pantheon however exist the primeval gods, those involved and / or part of the creation myth of the world. Those who are regarded as primordial spirits, and do not have cultivation in the same way that their successors did and do.

Afterlife

The Ephyral religion has a strong concept and detailed idea of afterlife. Much of the afterlife exists within a mythological area analogous to an underworld. However, a specific afterlife which has varied in its admission over centuries of theological evolution (from being from those related to the gods themselves to those who, through actions and undertakings in the mortal world, are deemed righteous and heroic) exists outside this underworld, and has often varied in its suppose location. Prior to the knowledge of the Americas as a landmass it was believed to be located at the far west, a series of islands in the ocean that was supposed to surround the world as it was known in the Archaic period. However, theological discussion about the whereabouts of certain places in the afterlife began to fade with the revival of the Freehold, and has not surfaced much again since.

This more idyllic afterlife is known as Aesorion. This word is unknown in its meaning but in modern translations is considered to mean 'heaven' or 'paradise', to make it analogous to other faiths. The word is believed to be of Bronze Age origin, and due to the collapse of the Bronze Age states and the Selian Dark Age that followed, the exact etymology is unknown. It is however noted that the prefix 'ae' is shared with 'aephos', meaning 'god' or in some contexts, a lesser spirit such as a 'daemon'. Though this link is based on just two letters, it is hypothesised that the name has something to do with the divine and the pantheon worshipped. It is not however in mythology considered the home of the gods themselves (despite being accessible to them).

Aesorion is described as a land of beauty and no hardship. With no storms or snows or droughts or famines. Inhabitants of Aesorion indulge in the employment and pastimes they enjoyed in their lives, and it serves as the place of familial reunion and the meeting place of friends. Entrance to Aesorion in death has always been a focus of myths and legends. Soldiers are amongst the highest who can expect to enter its fields, regardless of whether they fall in battle or die in retirement. Women who are dutiful and virtuous wives and mothers are also said to frequently gain access in a number of stories. However, the old myths rarely focus on the life of the woman. Some have interpreted that a noble and righteous man may secure the afterlife of Aesorion for his wife through his own deeds, though this remains unsubstantiated by any traditions.

However the idea of virtuous women being worthy of Aesorion is a popular belief amongst those who adhere to the religion, as it indeed complements the service in war of the man. Whilst the soldier earns his way into Aesorion through service to his homeland and nation and fellow Selians, the woman's test of virtue is never more true than in the absence of her husband.

TBC

Mythology

TBA

Morality

In contrast to many of the religions of the current contemporary era alongside the Selian religion, there is no divine unifying legal code nor scriptures that tend to enforce or instruct certain actions, or refrain from certain actions. This is perhaps in large part due to the oral traditions of the religion having varied over distances and time, making a united codification essentially impossible, as well as the spread out nature of the Selian civilisation itself, as the laws that each city-state or kingdom governed by, despite all being Selian, were not the same laws (though noticeable overlap does highlight shared cultural views on certain practices).

However, through the oral traditions and cemented shared concepts within the legal framework of cities who often regarded their social order as being derived from divine approval, if not directly founded by it, there is a general outline on the morality in terms of religiosity with regards to certain acts and situations, drawing routinely from mythological events of the same nature as the ones under dispute, exaggerated legends, interactions between the gods themselves, and a myriad of other events. Due to the confusing and often inconsistent manner that events were ascribed to divine influence or of divine happening, to say that any of these are religious moral commandments is a falsehood, as the gods often had conflicting interests and views amongst themselves, not just with mortals, and the range of interpretation for many important and mundane events is often broad.

War

A massive recurring event in mythology and legends, as well as the mythicised history of Selian states, is that of war. Perhaps the briefest way to surmise the Selian attitudes of war, even today, and those similarly espoused by the gods (especially those whose sphere is war) is the simple 'might is right'. Brutality of most sorts in warfare was not seen as an immoral act, an affront to the gods, or as religiously prohibited in any manner, as the gods were notoriously brutal in their own mythic wars. An exception to this might be the desecration of temples, the murder of priests, and the rape of oracles or other religiously important women. However this would be an entirely circumstantial affair, as city-states often had patron gods. These patron gods would have their rivals within the pantheon, and so the city in question would actually find moral resolution in an attack upon the temple and cult of the god the patron of their city opposes, especially if their political enemy holds that god in high esteem.

War in the ancient Selian world, from the Bronze Age to the outward expansion of the Freehold to reunify the distant colonies and conquer new lands, was often waged quite brutally but not necessarily in a directed manner. Certain acts of brutality did cause shock to many in the Selian world, such as when whole populations were massacred as opposed to other, more common means of domination. War-time murder of civilians, as well as rape, banditry, plunder, and acts of religious desecration, rarely ever took place as a directed event by the commander of a given army, though this is not unheard of. Often, foraging or raiding parties sent to acquire resources for the main army would take the opportunity given to exploit all avenues open to them, and sometimes part of or the entire army would disperse to raid over a wide area, often to draw the enemy out, but with no specific orders as to what is done in the raid. Most ancient reports of the raiding come from historians after the event, or from the defending side, as the attackers did not typically feel the need to describe their own acts in the war against the enemy save glorious victories that credited their own side, whilst the writing of the actions of the attacker by the defender would serve as propaganda against them.

Outlying farmhouses, or small villages were often heavily targeted. Some would escape brutality or exploitation by the simple providing of resources, or being extorted for money. Others did not, and a common occurrence seems to have been the general killing of all occupants unable to flee, though with much of the population subjected to sexual assaults or rapes beforehand, specifically women and girls, though rape against men is also noted as a means of sexually humiliating the enemy. This targeted sexual attack against men is unknown in its origins and seems to have been practised as far back as the early Bronze Age. Reasons for it tend to suggest an intent to feminise the men of the enemy, and reinforce the dominant image of the conqueror to all other states.

Directed war brutality includes what is known as the Siege of Kelenos, in which the town of Kelenos on an island of the same name, east of the Kohore Peninsula, was subject to an attack by Sparakos. Sparakos enacted deliberate brutality against the inhabitants of Kelenos when it fell, with reasons suspected to be to encourage other later targets to simply surrender without incident. All of the adult males on the island, not just in the town, were executed by Sparakosian soldiers. All of the child, and adolescent males were taken as captives, alongside females of all ages, and sold into slavery. Kelenos itself was partially burned but not fully razed, and Kelenos was later colonised by Sparakosians. Directed war brutality does not necessarily indicate a systematic round-up of enemy inhabitants for the specific purpose of execution or rape, but a general permit or direction to commit acts in the regular fashion. Many acts of brutality in war occurred without the direct permission of the commander, but who typically allows it to occur. Taking captives, raping, and looting serve as a means of supplementing the pay soldiers receive, which was often infrequent given supply issues, as well as allowing the battle-born bloodlust of the victorious party to burn itself out against enemy inhabitants as opposed to within the camp.

Not only is war itself sanctioned by the gods as both a means and an end, justified in and of itself by the might of the conqueror, but the acts of brutality within it are similarly represented within the mythology. Gods, particularly the male deities, are fairly infamous for their sexual pursuit of mortal females, in which the most common instance is rape. Conflicts between the gods, as well as between the gods and other immortal parties, often describe the harsh treatment inflicted by the victors, including eternal torment, humiliation, and killings, as told from a perspective of victory being its own justice.

The expansion of the Freehold is often described as a reunification of Selians by modern historians, however this paints a more pleasant picture than actually occurred. The majority of all Selian colonies and states encountered by the Freehold resisted them, not recognising the claim of Ephyra to be the leading force of all Selia. As a result, even as wars were waged against the Roman successor states, and later the Islamic caliphates and sultanates, the Freehold dealt and suffered many a humiliating, brutal defeat against and from other Selians, in which Ephyral and other Selian inhabitants were subject to looting, raping, murder, and enslavement. Even as recently as the 20th century, the acts of war the Freehold suffered from the Russian offensive into the eastern and northern provinces in Asia and Europe respectively, were met in kind by traditional Selian cruelty when the counter-offensive was launched years later, with the Ephyral wishing to avenge what had been done to their kinsmen and take more than they had lost from the Russians who dealt it. This instance also highlighted the general blindness to actual culpability, as save for captured Russian soldiers, almost all inhabitants of the Russian Empire that suffered the Ephyral counter-attack in full were ethnic Ukrainians. The Ephyral ideology of might makes right combined with self-preservation being the highest of all laws, meant the Freehold perceived great insult and felt grave anger at the Russian acts of rape and murder against their own, but as a body politic, felt no hesitation or remorse in doing the same back, nor felt pity or compassion for those they inflicted it upon.

Slavery

Slavery is of a similar vein to war in regards to the morality reflected in religious stories and beliefs. The might makes right rule of war applies here also. To the Ephyral, and in essence to all Selians throughout time, slaves are not only inevitable but desirable in a civilised society. A society can place no value on freedom without a slave population acquired by conquest, piracy, or simple purchase to contrast the freedom held by its citizens and allies. The gods, and mythical heroes and legends essentially do not deviate from this, and there is practically no record of divinely influenced or portrayed ideas of abolitionism. The taking of slaves, and the use of slaves for a variety of tasks is described trivially in many writings, as the circumstance of slavery was and is not considered of any great note. Neither the Selian states of the past, nor Ephyra today, went to any trouble justifying slavery to any contemporary who reviled it. Given that in the modern era, Ephyra is one of the last places on earth where slavery is legal, this complete lack of interest in justifying its presence is often regarded as callous by even its allies.

Lykos the Patriarch, founder of the city of Ephyra, as well as his successor, Lykos the Victor, enriched the city with many slaves taken from conquests. This is described in great detail, though as part of the focus on the building and empowering of the city, as opposed to slavery itself. Slavery is in effect, to make the citizen class a nobility within their own domain, and whilst this was almost always idealistic, as citizens all over Selian states continued to farm, mine, and labour for their own survival, the massive presence of slaves in almost every market and niche from government scribes, to the brutal life of a mine worker, and its general lack of coverage in records, suggest strongly a severe lack of interest in the fact of slavery once it had been made profitable.

As it is considered a rule of nature, a nature forged by the gods, for the strongest of beings to dominate and rule over the weakest, many often therefore see their gods as having created the conditions for slavery to benefit the victors. Slavery was often trivialised via humour also, as civilians living further from the cities and towns in farmhouses and the like faced the ever present danger of attack from bandits (both foreign barbarian and Selian). This would routinely pose the risk of death, rape, or captivity, which led to rather bleak humour for all three emerging as a means of living with the threat. Many states in Selia regarded it as better to die than become a slave, and it became common for men, when all hope had been lost, to kill their wives and children to spare them slavery, and then if possible, kill themselves in turn. However, records exist of both men killing their families but failing to end their own life before capture, or men even killing themselves first, and leaving their families defenceless. The latter is condemned as cowardice by the whole organic culture of the Selians.

On top of slavery being a thing of practicality and meeting the Selian concept of natural law, it also served as a means of status, as kings and tyrants would hold the most slaves, it came to be that a significant number of slaves communicated your power, influence, and wealth. To that end, the acquisition of slaves especially by soldiers in war time, became a means of increasing the standing of that soldier and his family upon return. As such a thing was considered part of the responsibility of the master of the household, no means by which it was achieved is considered wrong, including slavery. War served not only therefore as a means for men to immortalise their names, or earn entrance into the better realms of the afterlife, but as a means to enrich their lives and that of their family on the mortal plane, and be morally justified and praised for doing so.

Slavery is mentioned passingly in many legends and myths, with heroes often being said to have taken a number of slaves in conflict, often a high number to reflect their prowess, and to have sold them on later. The slavery is not the object of focus but rather a means of describing the power of the hero. To that end, slavery in Ephyra and other Selian states has never been a focus more attention-worthy than any other aspect of a given Selian society, and so whilst religious stories and myths do permit it, and create a picture of the world where slavery exists as a natural state for some, it does not go to any length to glorify or praise it beyond what it does to empower the hero of any given story, or in some cases, to increase the tragedy of another.

Hospitality

Hospitality is a vital cornerstone of morality in Selian culture and religion. In many stories and legends, the gods worshipped by the Selians would walk the earth with them disguised as mortals from all walks of life. These stories serve as morality tales, as in some of these stories, disrespect is shown to the god by the mortal from whom the god has sought shelter, and great misfortune invoked for it. Contrarily, a disguised god may also bring reward to a mortal who hosts him or her without torment. This is thought to be symbolic of mortal gratitude and the forging of friendship, an alliance that may be called upon later. Hospitality works two ways, from host to guest, and from guest to host. Hospitality to those who are hostile is not expected and often seen as treacherous if done knowingly. Hospitality does not equate to refuge however. No Selian is compelled by law to accept those he cannot trust the intent of, but to those who are within his home, hospitality must be extended. Hospitality is therefore the conduct for when a guest is already declared such, not the conduct by which one is made a guest.

It is an important moral practice instilled in the Ephyral, to be expressed most primarily to fellow citizens, but also to non-citizens. The host's responsibilities to his guest or guests are typically that of providing, as he might to his family. This includes the offering of food and drink to the guest, often at the instruction of the host to his wife or daughters to provide. A bath is also offered, that the guest might feel clean and refreshed. Wealthier hosts with slaves may also offer one of the slaves to his guest during an overnight stay, if he has not brought with him a wife or concubine of his own. This is solely for sexual purposes, that the guest might associate the house of their host with enjoyment and fulfilment. Refusal is not necessarily rude, but rare in any case. Whilst one might note in several stories, a guest is offered the use of the host's own wife or even daughter for this purpose, there has been no such documented action in reality, and in these stories, community knowledge of the act led to outrage at the host for offering, and the guest for accepting. Indeed, for a guest to seduce the members of his host's family is considered a grave violation of the laws of hospitality.

The guest in turn has responsibilities not to become a burden on his host, and to be courteous and respectful to him and his family. A guest might also offer a gift as a token of friendship. As mentioned above, the guest (who in most of the stories is male), will be sharing temporary residency in a home with the women of the house; his host's wife, and any daughters, and also in some stories, a son. Seduction of a family member of the host is considered perhaps one of the greatest violation of hospitality laws, second only to murder. This seduction can come in the form of consensual act by the woman, for which she will be punished also, or through rape, where the woman is blameless. Indeed, so grave is this violation that it is believed to have been the cause for war when having taken place on a higher level, as well as communal acts of killing against a guest who raped or seduced the daughter or wife of his host.

Reversal of the situation, the seduction of a female guest by the host (or indeed, the host's sons), is dependent upon the status of the woman. If she exists legally under the authority of a man, be it husband or father, such an act is considered a crime. If she is held under no such authority, she is a sexually available woman.

Such factors are only pointed out due to the general absence of common hospitality in many surviving stories, as they simply do not provide great storytelling. Nevertheless, despite perceptions of the Ephyral from the outside, visitors and tourists who stay with friends or acquaintances of the Freehold, or indeed, in hotels which also operate along the moral principles of hospitality, find themselves well taken care of so long as they themselves are respectful and grateful of the hospitality given. To be invited to the residency of an Archon is considered one of the highest honours and essentially never refused.

Hospitality is typically offered to those who are friends, those who are blood related, and often in principle to those of one's clan. However, hospitality may be offered to everyone. Though non-citizens, who are typically less involved in the Selian culture, are often guided by their own rules of hospitality, it is considered expected of them to host a citizen should he ask, with similar rules applying. There is no clear legal conduct for the violation of hospitality. Usually the acts are crimes in their own right, with violated hospitality considered a factor. The murder of a host or a guest in the house of the host is considered more vile for its location. Criminal seduction and rape also apply in this manner. A revenge killing within the home is valid however. For instance, if a guest violates the rules of hospitality by murdering his host, or seducing his host's wife or daughter, then any whom call that place home are within their legal right to kill the guest, who has forfeited the right of being known as such.

In the vast majority of day to day, real life exchanges of hospitality however, no such unpleasantness occurs, and the Ephyral outwardly consider themselves a receiving and hospitable people, willing to share what they have and treat comfortably guests of civilised realms.

Hubris

TBA

Sacred texts

TBA

Practices



TBA

Festivals

TBA

Ephyralia

TBA

Ceremonies

TBA

Marriage

TBA

Death

TBA

Ancestor reverence

TBA

Sacrifice

TBA

Blood sacrifice

TBA

Animal sacrifice

TBA

Human sacrifice

TBA

Rites of passage

TBA

Birth

TBA

Manhood

TBA

Womanhood

TBA

Temples and priesthoods



TBA

Temples, shrines, and sanctuaries

TBA

Priesthoods, orders, and cults

TBA

Major cults

TBA

Women in the Ephyral religion

TBA

Virgins of Lysharar

TBA

Oracles

TBA

Sacred prostitution

TBA

Relationship to other religions



TBA

Christianity

TBA

Judaism

TBA

Islam

TBA

History



TBA

Origins

TBA

Archaic and Classical

TBA

Arconian Era

TBA

Under Rome

TBA

Freehold revival

TBA

Modern day

TBA

RawReport