ReligionOld Believers (Seanmuinín)
The "Old Faith" has deep roots in Siogal, and much of Siogalish culture is steeped in references to the old ways. While the religion was banned generations ago by Siogal's conquerers, it is still widely and openly practiced, most occupiers uncaring, unwilling, or unable to enforce the sanction.
The Old Believers hold that there are two worlds beyond ours: Tir Scáth, the Land of Shades; and Tir Anam, the Land of Spirits. Each person has two spiritual doubles (scáile) that live in either realm. The actions of a person determine which scáil is more influential, and at death, the person becomes the scáil he sided with most in life, and the other disappears.
Tir Scáth is found wherever darkness lies: in the night sky, in deep caverns and pools, even in shadows and stormclouds. It is associated with the wicked at one extreme, and the mischievous and self-serving at another. Tir Anam is found in the light, from the celestial bodies to the element of fire. Here eminates righteousness and generosity. Neither of these realms is seen as "good" or "evil", but rather two sides that always exist in balance to one another. Gods dwell in one or the other, a few in both.
The Old Believers say that magic comes from their ancestors' scáile, which interecede for the living members of their clans, and from their strong bloodlines. Ancestor veneration is prominent for Old Believers, as are talismans and household shrines to various gods. The older and larger clans are thought to have more powerful magic
The Great Gods are the ones that rule both the shadow land and the place of light. Tied to neither realm nor the other, they have power over both.
- Creator god: Made both the light and the dark. When the two realms met in the physical world, the creator - who never intended this world to exist - split the creatures that arose from it in twain. They became the gods and spirits of the realms of Shade and Spirit. The children of those first beings remained, guarded by the scáile of their ancestors; only at death can the creator complete his task and remove someone from the physical world. The creator has a rather ambigous role in the Old Faith, neither worshipped nor feared but seen as an inevitable force of nature.
- Sky god: The sky stretches over all the realms, favoring none.
- Time god: ???
The Dual Gods were the first to dwell in this world. When the creator saw this realm, which was not of his creation and beyond his direct control, he tried to force them into one of his two realms. Their power was too strong, though, and they were split, their both their scáile existing in shadow and light. These gods are worshipped individually, but their double in the opposite realm is recognized, even as the antithesis of the other. These gods are recognized by their mark on the world: the gods of Tir Scáth leave their form in caverns or watery depths, and the gods of Tir Anam are stars and constellations.
-The god of savagery and the god of nature: The aspects of the natural world are divided in these two gods. The god of savagery is everything fearsome of the wild: great beasts, storms, deep wood. The god of nature is nature's bounty, the hunt and sunlight and timber. Folk in Fiodin, on the edge of the sacred wood, revere both.
-The trickster god and the blessing god: Viewed as the embodiement of commerce and trade. The trickster is also the bargainer, who makes deals to those that need them, but usually at a high and hidden price. The blessing god is more lenient, granting favors to those that ask, also with a price but a fairer one.
-The destroyer and the protector: Once a great warrior, he now serves as two soldiers. One exists to ravage the lands, the other to preserve it.New Believers (Unitism)
The various conquerers of Siogal over the years have tried to introduce their own brands of religion, the most popular in recent memory being a monotheistic faith. No missionaries stayed around very long, finding Siogalish to be hard-headed heathens, but some of the beliefs did seep into some towns and clans. They adopted aspects of the new beliefs and blended them with their own, creating a hybrid religion that was neither Seanmuinín nor the mission faith. Dubbed the New Believers, they attract some of the smaller clans who can't make the same claims to ancestry as the more powerful clans.
According to the New Believers, in the time before time, there were two worlds. One was blisteringly hot, full of fire and teeming with strange beings one couldn't truly call alive. The other was a dark, watery realm of coldness where nothing could dwell. A god, known as the Great Uniter, saw that these two realms should not exist alone. He brought them together, creating a single and unified world out of them - the world that became our own. This cosmology gives the New Believers their other name: Unitists.
The world as created by the Great Uniter is one that can be understood through proper education, study, and meditation. They hold that the whole of the universe is made of six opposing elements: air and earth, fire and water, life and death. Understanding how these elements interact strengthens one's knowledge of the world as the Great Uniter intended, and allows one to better unleash the power inherent to all things: magic. Gaining favor of the Great Uniter by worshipping him and gaining knowledge of the world is the goal of life. The Uniter's work is not done, as his own heavenly realm is separate from the earth. Those that die are divided too, soul from body. At the appointed time, the Great Uniter will finish his task, creating a heavenly earth and bringing souls back to their bodies.
The Great Uniter is worshipped in small temples, attended to by schooled clergymen. Worshippers can be identified by an open locket they wear, a soul-socket, believed to anchor their souls after death that they might be more quickly reunited with their bodies in the time to come. New Believer clan heads often display their ancestors' soul-sockets in their home as a sign of honor. Temples to the faith exist in Sudhalin, Dabh, and Torwyth; the Lannigans of Athy have refused permission to build one in their ancient town, and the other towns pay it no heed. Both Sudhalin and Torwyth have seminaries, with the former being the more greatly respected. While the New Belief is more associated with clans influenced by the occupiers, many have no ties to foreign forces.Competition or Ecumenism?
While the two faith systems are on their face incompatible, it's not unusual to see them practiced side-by-side or even by the same person. While superstitious as a whole, most Siogalish are not doggedly religious, and conflict between the two beliefs is typically no worse than the occasional bar room brawl. There are is a spectrum of dogmatism: those in Fiodin are fiercely Old Believers, and Torwyth follows almost exclusively Unitism, but towns and clans in between are far less rigid. Some consider the Great Uniter's work unfinished, and pray to the gods of Tir Scath and Tir Anam alongside their chief god.
I need to do some clarifying & fleshing work on the Old Belief. Ideas? Suggestions?