High Worship

The High Worship is the official religion of the kingdom of Corifae. Centered around the worship of a variety of familially related Gods, it has a highly complex system of theological doctrine which deals with the relationships both between the Gods themselves and intermediating between the Gods and men. The chief deity, Elneas, grants his name to the High Worship which is also called the Elnean Liturgy in Corifae. Each of the gods, of course, has their own holy books and liturgies.

The High Worship also promulgates a belief in a thing called the World Mountain and a road which winds its way between the worlds known as the Way of the Dead. This is likely taken from primitive Salien cosmology, but it has served the Worship well and been much glossed in the long history of the Temple.

History

The High Worship was formed after the War of the Thorns, in approximately 650 CE. The first holy men to espouse the Elnean liturgy belonged where the caretakers of Whitestone Grove, where the treaty of Whitestone was signed. In binding together the house of Westreth and Savorn, they also promulgated a cohesive reform in the old, unregulated religious system of the Salien days. The first Presbytir Oracle of the High Worship was none other than Jalon Renael, the compiler of the Elnean Scrolls which were used as the new temple's basic canon. The Westreth kings were converted in 783 CE and the High Worship was declared the official religion of Corifae in 801 CE.

Structure

The Temple of High Worship is itself divided into many sub-cults that worship the various dieties that are found under the umbrella of the Elnean Liturgy. At the lowest level of this structure are the Sacrysters, clerics who administer to the needs of the people at large and are often drawn from among their number to be educated. Sacrysters are sometimes served by Sacred Canons, men and women who take minor religious Orders, though these Sacred Canons just as often become simple clerks after recieiving their education, for literacy is highly valued by the aristocracy to keep records.

Above the Sacrysters are the Hierans, the overseers of large groups of Sacryster temples. They are usually located in urban centers and frequently also have Temple-schools associated with the seat of their pastoral sees. In more densly populated or more important areas, Hierans are known as Metroplitaens, and are afforded a higher degree of respect and power within the Temple.

At the peak of the Temple of High Worship lies the Presbytir Oracle, who rarely interferes with the running of the lower orders. On matters of doctrine the Presbytir Oracle often heads counsels composed of the Metroplitaens and the highest ranking of the Hierans.

Outside the formal structure of the clergy lie the moine, otherwise known as monks or cloistered Sacrysters. These men and women live in closed communities dedicated to holy life and the contemplation of the divine mysteries. The practice of the moine began in Soliece during the semi-conversions.

The Gods

Old Gods:

Nyxea, Night

Also known as Mother Night, Nyxea is the mother of Elneas, and there was a time when she and Saetus were the only beings in existence. Her worship was once quite vigorous in the days long before the High Worship was formed, but her cult more or less died out when the Saliens moved to Morlonde. Devotees of either Old Gold are almost unheard of in Corifae though the Temple does maintain a single abbey devoted to Nyxea on the southern shores of the island, remote and austere.

Sætus, Void

Saetus, Father Void or Father Winter, is the father of Gyneth and was co-existent with Nyxea in the time before time. He was never widely worshipped, as he appears frequently as an antagonist in many of the myth-cycles. He is the father who devours his children, and it was only through her exceptional cunning that Gyneth survived. For all that, Saetus does have a few poorly attended shrines scattered throughout the lonely places of Corifae.

 

High Gods:

Elneas the Stag-King

Depicted as the perfect lord, Elneas wears a golden crown which bears a pair of stag's horns attached to it. He is the son of Nyxea and the Lord over nature. It is in is generosity and fierceness that the order of things is maintained. Elneas figures in many myth-cycles in one of two forms: the Wanderer, and the Crowned. In the myth cycles where he is presented as Elneas the Wanderer (or Pilgrim), he is seeking the knowledge which will allow him to defeat the evil schemes of Saetus to subjugate or destroy mankind, the peoples whom he loves. During the Twelfth Liturgy, Elneas defeats Saetus and takes from him the crown of the Sky, adding to it the stag's horns to make it the dual crown of Earth and Sky. From that point in the myths onward Elneas is a divine ruler.

Gyneth the Queen

Gyneth, Elneas' wife, was born of Saetus and narrowly escaped being devoured by him. She is both the Queen of Nature as well as the patron of healers and the goddess of fertility. Most pray to Gyneth at least once in their lives, as she is said to send her handmaiden to alleviate sickness or to visit it upon those who have not satisified her or her brother or their duties to their king, both temporal and eternal. Gyneth's shrines and abbeys are common throughout rural and farming areas, though they are less ubiquitious in large cities.

Onemar the Grim

Onemar is said to be Gyneth's brother, and he is an imposing figure indeed. The psychopomp of the Elnean pantheon, he appears to the dead and dying in the form of a dark specter and is said to guide them into the netherworld where they journey down the Road of the Dead. Onemar is worshipped by a cult known as the Black Brotherhood, which only accepts men into its entourage. The Black Brothers are a group of healers (sometimes encroaching upon areas that Gyneth is said to minister to) and experts in funerary rights. When someone dies, it is customary to pay the "black coin," or make a donation to an Abbey of the Black Brothers where they conduct the rituals of death.

 

Children of the High Gods (Known as the Kin):

Artea the Knight

The younger child of Elneas and Gyneth, Artea is the feminine ideal of warriorship and knighthood. She serves her father faithfully in his battle against the thousand spawn of Nyxea and Saetus. She is often worshipped by knights and warriors, and chapels devoted to her can be found in many castles and garrisons the island over.

Wilthean the Sotten

Wilthean is Artea's husband, and is depicted as constantly drunk. He is the god of fen and field as well as wine and hospitality. Wilthean is praised in inns and by traveling troubadours most, and is seen by many nobles as being a vulgar god unfit for worship. The Order of the Wine-Red Robes serves Wilthean as traveling mendicants and friars minor who attempt to alleviate the suffering of the poorest levels of society.

Theudon the Sage

The elder child of Elneas and Gyneth, Theudon represents the autumn, wisdom, the harvest, and the grim shadow of death. He is a sober god and often the patron of libraries or accumulations of knowledge. Most Fenaine wizards pray almost exclusively to the patron of magic, eschewing the other gods. Monasteries dedicated to Theudon are known to be centers of culture and learning, as well as scriptorial nexi were rare books can be found and copies purchased for a price.

 

Servants of the High Gods (Known as the Lessers):

Wæland the Smith

Wæland is one of the servants of Elneas. He is sometimes associated with the Dvergaer as he is a smith much as their gods are and they themselves. However, he was also a real living man in the earliest of Salien days back on the Continent. His tale is one of heroism, having saved Artea the daughter of Elneas from a Fimbulwulf in the forests. For this, he was raised to demi-godhood and has become the patron of smiths and laborers everywhere. Troubadors love the tales of Wæland, for they touch a semi-mythical past that all Corifaens can relate to.

Eilmar the Mason

Similar to Wæaland, Eilmar is the patron of stoneworkers and the like. However, he was never a man, but rather is one of Elneas' divine servants. Wæland and Eilmar have a long-standing fued over who is the most favored in the eyes of their king, though it is a playful rather than a deadly competition.

Heila the Leech

Servant of Gyneth, patroness of disease and healing, Heila represents both health and wellness and the causes of both. She is often depicted as kindly, but it is not unheard of for her to be a plague-bringer to those who have betrayed the High Worship or not been sufficiently pious.

Munimor the Wealthy

Munimor is the servant of Onemar, and keeper of all material wealth in the Nine Worlds. He is a fickle creature, constantly changing alliegences. He is the patron of merchants and thus shipping and sea travle. Munimor is often associated with the foriegn Goddess known as Ghelaine.

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High Worship

Noble Blood Idabrius