Friday, April 8, 2011

G is for Great Church

The Great Church was a religious institution of the Thulian Empire, formed out of the nine most influential faiths among the Thulians. Eight of the original deities honored by the Great Church were:
  • Anesidora: Goddess of grain, fertility, marriage, and law.
  • Asana: Goddess of strategy, heroism, and science.
  • Caint: God of medicine, poetry, and music.
  • Donn: God of the dead.
  • Mavors: God of warfare.
  • Tenen: God of travelers, craftsmen, and invention.
  • Tyche: Goddess of fortune, prosperity, and destiny.
  • Typhon: God of judgment, discipline, and trade.
The ninth "deity" was called Anyastos, who was, according to orthodox interpretation, not a deity at all but rather an abstract concept --The Divine -- representative of the power above and beyond all the other gods. Anyastos had no priesthood or temples of his own, instead being revered by all the Church's constituent faiths. Of course, there have always been tales of secret societies and esoteric orders filling devoted to him. Later, Turms Termax identified himself with the Divine and his worship eventually supplanted that of Anyastos within the Great Church.

The Thulians established the Church both in hopes of securing the blessings of all the gods and as an instrument of policy. These former Hyperborean barbarians were a very pious and superstitious people and saw their victory over the Eld as proof of a divine mandate. To ensure they retained that mandate, early Thulian emperors lavished great wealth and power on the priesthoods of the deities that had supported their rebellion against the Red Elves. Those early emperors similarly did not wish the various temples to feud with one another and so created a structure by which they could work together and, when necessary, adjudicate disputes, with the imperial throne serving as the final arbiter of irreconcilable differences.

The Great Church was ultimately undermined by the Termaxian cult, which taught that all the gods were nothing but manifestations of the man-become-god Turms. Only the faiths of Tyche and Typhon offered much opposition to the Termaxians, which is why both deities are now held in much higher esteem than are most of the others revered by the Great Church. The Church itself ceased to exist with the fall of the Thulian Empire, though many of its constituent faiths continue to cooperate with one another. Likewise, the titles employed in most religions today are evidence of the Church's continued influence even after its institutional cessation.

6 comments:

  1. I like this, I used a similar concept when I wrote an essay in the mid 90s on the gods of Greyhawk. Specifically the religion of the Great Kingdom was founded on the unification of the churches of Heironeous (Honor), Hextor (War), Pholtus (Law), and Delleb (Reason). The reason for the unification is that these originally separated four churches were instrumental in the rise of Aerdy. And for the Aerdi supplanted the original Oeridian pantheon led by Procan and Velinus.

    You can read my original article here
    http://home.earthlink.net/~wilderlands/greyhawkgods.html

    Later I transplanted the United Church into the loose background that is behind my points of light setting. The line up now is Delaquain (Honor), Sarrath (Order), Thoth (Knowledge), and Veritas (Law). But instead of altering the Greyhawk descriptions I used deities I developed for the Majestic Wilderlands. Thoth and Veritas names remained the same, while Delaquain was originally Mitra, and Sarrath originally Set.

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  2. I love your site and as I browsed your blog I decided to award you the Medieval Madness Award.
    Go to http://astorybookworld.blogspot.com/p/awards.html and pick up your award.
    ~Deirdra

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  3. I like the economy of design here, with the first six deities being renamed versions of Ceres/Minerva/Apollo/Pluto/Mars/Mercury (and Mavors isn't even really a renaming!). On a related note: is there a world named Kytherea (or something close to that) in your cosmos? It would seem to follow on from Areon...

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  4. "Those early emperors similarly did not wish the various temples to feud with one another and so created a structure by which they could work together and, when necessary, adjudicate disputes, with the imperial throne serving as the final arbiter of irreconcilable differences."

    How very Byzantine. :)

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  5. On a related note: is there a world named Kytherea (or something close to that) in your cosmos?

    Indeed there is: "K is for Kythirea" is an upcoming post.

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  6. How very Byzantine. :)

    Only if there's an R for Riots...

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