"The history of Cedrism is a rich tapestry of divine intervention, mortal achievement, and the timeless struggle between order and chaos. From the early myths of creation, to the rise of the Kaiser as the earthly embodiment of divine authority, to the ongoing prophecies of the Planes, Cedrism has consistently sought to understand and navigate the complex relationship between the mortal and divine realms. Despite its many changes and challenges, the fundamental tenets of Cedrism have remained consistent: the worship of the Transcendi, the pursuit of piety and virtue, and the striving for transcendence in the afterlife. These principles, along with the intricate hierarchy of the priesthood and the diverse pantheon of gods and demi-gods, make Cedrism a fascinating and enduring religion. As a scholar of Cedrist theology, I am continually in awe of the depth and complexity of this ancient faith. It is my hope that through continued study and contemplation, we may better understand the mysteries of the Mortal, Dæmonic, and Divine Realms, and find our own path to transcendence." -Professor Jara Kaira, Chair of Cedrist Studies at the Benacian Academy
Cedrism is the state-favoured religion of Shireroth, whose practice continues in many of the successor states. It has a staggering pantheon of gods all the way from Mors, God of Death, to Hypotomoose, God of Miscalculations. Originally, the Cedrist Temple of Mirioth, was presided over by a High Priest who had the final say in all of Shireroth's religious affairs. The temple subsequently fell into ruin during the long dark age of the religion's neglect and its authority has subsequently been usurped by the Temple of Mors in Shirekeep which enjoys the favour of the Kaiser and their Court.
After 1707 AN, with the reunification of Greater Kildare into the Imperial Republic, the influence of the Temple of Mors steadily moved towards the Heavenly Court in Daocheng: the newly added territories brought millions of faithful members of the Tianchaodao under the wings of the Shirerithian government. The Tianchaodao cult was quick to integrate Cedrist tenets and re-establish itself as a Heavenly-Imperial Cult, effectively establishing an Imperial Cult in the east as the de facto state religion. The 1710's saw an intense power struggle between those who favored the Temple of Mors and those who favored the Tianchaodao.
A member of the faith religion is known as a Cedrist. The religion is named, not for its prophet, the inscrutable and downright eccentric Brrapa Lu'Eraro, but rather his acolyte Cedris, who was the first to attempt to put the faith's precepts and hierarchies into some kind of coherent and comprehensible order. It is a task that, even to this day, remains incomplete and a strain upon the sanity of all who attempt, in the spirit of piety, to undertake the task.
- Cult of the Sacred Detonation - The most high profile sect of Cedrism, namely on account of the noise and craters.
- Imperial Cult - worshipping of the Kaiser as living Demigod.
- Divine Census
- Dæmonic Census
Cedrist Myth And Stories
- The Begin Times: The story of Mors and Viviantia and their children, as told by the Prophet Kabra Ly'Zakerdot, is a mythological account of the creation and relationship of the gods in a fictional world. Mors is the god of death, Viviantia the goddess of life, and their children Los, Loki, and Ikol represent justice, chaos, and tranquility, respectively. The prophesied daughter Semisa, who would unite life and death as one, is born but her parents are in enmity, resulting in a bitter relationship between life and death. The story suggests that the concept of death and life are intertwined and can influence each other, but their relationship is fraught and complicated.
- The End Times: The End Times, as described by the Great Prophet Brrapa Lu'Eraro, is a time of great darkness and destruction. The gates to the underworld are opened and the Legions of Balgurd, twisted and mutilated souls of mortal men, emerge to wage war on the living. The city of Shirekeep is laid to waste and the God Hasan leads the armies of the gods into battle against the forces of evil. However, the outcome of the battle is unclear and it is implied that the forces of good may not be victorious. The End Times are a time of great fear and uncertainty, and it is unclear what will happen to the world and its inhabitants during this dark time.
- The Tale of B'Caw: The Tale of B'Caw is a story about a farmer who is known for his delicious spicy chicken. When a band of evil men conquer the town where the farmer sells his produce, they demand that he serve them his spicy chicken. However, when the evil lord eats the chicken, it burns his mouth and throat, causing him to go mad and drown. The townspeople, outraged by the evil men's treatment of the farmer, rise up and fight back, eventually driving the evil men away. The farmer, grateful for their help, offers to share his recipe for the spicy chicken with them, allowing them to continue making it and spreading its joy. The story is a moral tale about the power of good, hard work, and sharing to overcome evil.
- Rrakanychan: Rrakanîtzan was a dæmon of Balgurd who was known for terrorizing the people of Shireroth. The dæmon was eventually defeated by the Kaiser, who spared its life and commanded it to return to the Gate of Balgurd and wait there until the End Times. When the End Times come, Rrakanîtzan is to warn the Kaiser's heirs of the impending assault by the Legions of Balgurd. The dæmon, though it is immortal, is bound to its sword and must serve the Kaiser's descendants as punishment for its crimes.
- Revenants: This work was believed to have been partially destroyed during the second reign of Kaiser Mors II and became utterly lost during the Kalirion Fracture. In 1713, the Librarian of Artech revealed the current iteration from their dubious computing rituals.
- The Three Minoses: The Three Minoses is a story that involves three gods, Los, God of Justice, Sakat, God of Time, and Loki, God of Chaos. In the story, Los and Sakat are friends who enjoy competing with each other in games to see who is the strongest and wisest. However, one year, Loki interferes in their annual cloud diving competition and sabotages Sakat's cloud, causing him to lose. Sakat becomes angry and accuses Los of cheating, leading to a rift between the two gods. Meanwhile, Loki continues to cause chaos and disrupt the natural order, resulting in the dead not being able to reach the realm of the divine. The story ends with the three gods coming together to restore balance and order, but not before Loki is punished for his actions.
- Heavenly Light: spiritual leader of the Tianchaodao.
- Our Lady/Lord the Radiant Sun: title of the Kaiser(ess) in religious context.
- The Transcendi: Mortals who do enough honorable things in their lives transcend the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth and enter the Celestial Temple. (presumably to do god-like things and tasks.)
- The Gods: "This is all speculation, but I believe the gods are those who were once mortal and then became gods through the Path of Transcendence." -Cedris' Guide to Cedrism
- The Celestial Temple: The Celestial Temple is the realm of the gods themselves, home of the Transcendi. Residing in the Realm of the Divine, the Celestial Temple consists of Great Halls in which the different Gods and Transcendi go about their business. The Celestial Temple has no set form, instead it takes on the form desired or envisioned by its occupants. Due to being governed by the Plane of Order the differing visions of people never conflict, instead the differing visions reconcile themselves and mesh in perfect harmony.
- Valhalla: Valhalla is one of the individual Great Halls of the Celestial Temple and is the home of great warriors and tacticians. When a great and honorable warrior dies the Gods retrieve their soul and place it in Valhalla awaiting The End Times, when they shall be called upon. No soul is kept in Valhalla against its will and may leave at any time to reenter the Mortal Realm and continue the Path of Transcendence.
- Brrapa Lu Eraro
- The Sacred Orders:
- Children of Mors/Cult of Mors (doctrinal contention)
- Cult of Viviantia
- Cult of the Sacred Detonation
- The Imperial Cult
- Cult of B'Caw: The Following of B'Caw is his Imperially sanctioned cult. By tradition the lineage of the House of Bukolos provides the Imperial Vicar for the Cult of B'Caw.
- Cult of the Benac
- Cult of Horjin: The Hunters of the Stag (Viatax Sitadi Axdivijink Regigoraauk in their holy tongue, Horjinic) are a diversionary animist sect of Cedrism who worship Horjin. They reside on the Isle of Naudia'Diva and are considered by some to be technologically backwards.
- Cult of Cato: The Wanderers of the Pure Path can be traced back to the original followers of Tianchaodao, before the Treaty of Gaelen's Landing. Despite having accepted the Cedrist dogma's, the cultists lay heavy focus on the Teachings of the Heavenly Light. Followers of the Cult can be mostly found among the population of Greater Kildare and Batavia.
- Sect of Sisera: While Sisera is a popular goddess among the Wanderers, the Siseran Sect sees Her as most important goddess. Criticism on the destructive nature of the goddess and Her history with Hurmu, leads to discrimination of this sect in the central territories of Shireroth.
- The Descendi: The total opposite of the Transcendi. Those who do so much evil in their lives that it is conjectured that the demon-fish of Balgurd, believed to be an astral projection of daemonic creatures on another plane of existence, are lured by the 'scent' of moral corruption up to the mortal realm to claim their souls and twist them into pure evil. Curiously this phenomenon never troubled the Babkhans or Atterans in their home countries, nor have instances of such occurrences been reliably recorded beyond the confines of the continent of Benacia and the islands once under the sway of the Empire of Khaz Modan. Suggesting either a cultural factor in the belief or a territorial range for the daemonic predators. The souls ensnared in this manner are categorically beyond hope of redemption, and even the gods are loathe to step foot in Balgurd.
- The Dæmons: Once believed to be Mortals who were so evil that they were beyond salvation, it was subsequently determined that they were in fact the subterranean inhabitants of the chthonic realm of Balgurd. The existence of these creatures was confirmed by the explorations of Aiomide Octavian in the year 15xx.xxxx AN.ASC. Dæmons are tormentors of human souls, devourers of human flesh and the inveterate enemies of humanity. It is strongly suspected that they bare some relation to the extinct Ohl'tar. The exact mechanism by which these creatures are capable of intruding into the mortal realm by both astral projection, and physical intrusion, is not fully understood but instances of both have been attested through out the history of the Imperial Republic and its preceding Empires.
- Balgurd: The realm of the Dæmons. This is where the Descendi, the fish of Balgurd, and other Dæmons spend their free time, training and waiting for the time they may invade Micras.
- Dæmon Fish of Balgurd: Where the fish of Balgurd came from is a complete mystery. What IS known though, is that one touch is all it takes for one to steal your soul and drag you down into Balgurd. Avoid them at all costs.
- Legions of Balgurd:This is the legion of the Descendi that have accumulated in Balgurd. They are to be released at the end of the world to destroy the realm of man.
The Great Swords
"And it came to pass that the gods did forge Great Swords of unimaginable power, To be wielded by mortal men in times of great need and strife. Forged in the Celestial Temple by the hands of the gods themselves, Each sword bore unique abilities and blessings upon its wielder. The Sword of Vengeance, the Sword of Fire, the Sword of Death, and more, All were gifts from the gods to aid in the fight against evil and corruption. Blessed be those who wield these mighty weapons in the name of righteousness."
-The Book of Celestial Blades Verse 1:1-6
- The Sword of Vengeance: This is the sword that is passed on to every Kaiser. Little is known about it, sadly. It is said to be a secret, known only to a select few in the upper echelons of the government. Believed to have been lost in the daemonic pocket-dimension tentatively associated with Balgurd since the demise of the last anti-Kaiser, Tokaray al-Osman, under dubious circumstances of suspected maleficia.
- The Sword of Fire: Forged by Agni in the Celestial Temple, the Sword of Fire was gifted to the Mortal realm long before the fall of the Khaz Modanian Empire, and the rise of Shireroth. The sword belonged to the Line of Emperors who ruled the Khaz Modanian Empire and was seen as a sign of the royal throne of Khaz Modan. Legend tells that the sword was lost several centuries before the fall of the Empire and was not found again until Kaiser Raynor I vanquished the dæmon creature, Rrakanychan and reclaimed the sword for Mortal Man. It is said that the wielder of this Great Sword would have the power to command flame and bend it to their will. Under the control of the dæmon creature, Rrakanychan the sword was used to set ablaze entire villages, forests and plains, reducing even the strongest fortified walls to rubble.
- The Sword of Death: Forged by the great god Mors in the Celestial Temple, the Sword of Death was bestowed upon the ancestors of what is now the Line of Mortis and has been passed through the ages from heir to heir. The Sword of Death comes with both great powers and a great curse placed upon it by the Death God. The wielder of the sword is able to strike dead, instantly, any whom the sword's wielder chooses; save those protected by another Great Sword. The curse upon the Great Sword prohibits its wielder from ever striking the innocent and the meek. Should the wielder attempt to strike the innocent or the meek than the sword would consume the dishonorable wielder's soul and reduce them to ashes to be blown to the four winds.
- The Sword of Life: Radiating a faint white glow the Sword of Life was forged by the Goddess Lumina for the Goddess Viviantia as a gift of friendship. To this day, the Great Sword remains in the Celestial Temple in the ownership of Viviantia, awaiting the day when it is needed in the Mortal Realm. It is fabled that the sword has the miraculous ability to return to life any freshly slain body it pierces and is removed from. Should the Sword strike a dæmon or undead minion of a dæmon, the victim's soul shall be removed and stored within the blade until the Goddess herself releases it.
- The Sword of Light: Forged by Lumina in the Celestial Temple for her own amusement the Sword of Light is one of the lesser of the Greatswords. Its only power is that of illuminating at the will of its wielder. The sword can illuminate to any brightness, intensity or color.
- The Sword of Madness: Forged either by or for the God Loki; the sword has the ability to drive its wielder to the edge of insanity, yet never fully drive them mad. It is said that some of the greatest prophets, oracles and men of wisdom throughout history have possessed this Sword.
- The Sword of Chaos: This great sword was forged by the God Loki as a joke upon the Death God, Mors. The exact powers of this sword are unknown to mortal man, but it is said that upon using the sword and seeing its powers, the God of Death actually laughed with such power that his laughter could be heard even in the Mortal Realm.
- The Sword of Wisdom: Created by the god Hasan, the Sword of Wisdom grants upon its wielder the wisdom to understand the deeper secrets of life and the universe. It is legend that the great prophet Brrapa Lu'Eraro is in possession of this sword and even given it directly from Hasan himself.
- The Mortal Realm: The realm we mortals are said to live in. Much still mystifies the inhabitants of this Realm, but those brave or foolish enough to delve into this unknown side of the Mortal Realm are said to possess magical powers.
- The Dæmonic Realm: Known also as Balgurd, its twisted expanse is home to the chaotic masters and subservient dregs of daemonkind.
- The Divine Realm: The unknowable paradise of the gods and the Transcendi.
The greatest mystery remaining in Cedrism is the untold Prophecy of the Planes. The existence of these planes is known to all Cedrists, but their nature eludes all who seek such knowledge. All that really is known is from the dubious revelations of the Librarian of Artech who spake:
In the land of the Mortal Realm,
Man's fate is fraught with uncertainty.
But those who brave the unknown,
And delve into the secrets of the Planes,
Shall find the keys to magic power.
The first Plane is that of Chaos,
Where wild, untamed forces reign.
Here, the daring may find great strength,
But only at great personal cost.
The second Plane is that of Order,
Where all is calm and peaceful.
Here, the wise may find serenity,
But only if they can resist temptation.
The third Plane is that of Balance,
Where the two forces meet and merge.
Here, the virtuous may find enlightenment,
But only if they can maintain the balance.
These are the three Planes of existence,
And those who seek them shall find their way.
But let the faithful be warned:
The Prophecy of the Planes is not for the faint of heart.
For only the bravest and wisest may hope to unlock its secrets.
Thus spoke the theologian Cedris,
Whose wisdom and insight have guided the faithful for ages.
May his words be a beacon to all who seek the truth.
While the whole of Benacia is considered the most holy dominion of the Mortal Realm, there are locations within the continent which hold particular import to the faithful.
- Shirekeep: Seat of the Kaiser and Malarbor
- Demonsfall: Site of Rrakanychan's defeat and banishment, man’s greatest triumph over Daemon
- Isle of Benacia: Legendary home of the Benac, hero of Benacia
- The Isle of Naudia'Diva: Hunting grounds of the divine hunting party of Horjin, and home to their faithful Hunters of the Stag
- The River Elwynn: The mundane manifestation of the goddess Elwynn
- Yoni Temple Complex in Modan-lach
Historically, deceased Cedrists were commonly honored by the Rite of the Elements, in which the body would be laid in the fields on of their homestead and naturally inter itself back to the soil and beasts of the land. As their numbers grew, however, there were practical considerations which created the need among Cedrists for more discrete means to honor their dead.
- The Rite of Eternity is used for those of noble lineage, and involves the use of dynastic catacombs or crypts (the largest and most famous being the Valley of Mors).
- The Rite of Transference is employed by the Cedrist cults, and involves the ritual ingestion by the senior clergy of meat from a deceased member of their cult. In this way the essence of piety is transferred back to the living.
- The Rite of Trinity is a simple cremation granted to pious commoners. The particulars of this ritual vary depending on the cult leading the ceremony.
- The Rite of Balgurd is reserved for noted sinners, suicides, criminals, heretics, and rebels. Those bodies found deserving of this rite are interned in graves (usually sized for a large number of bodies at a time) and may receive no prayers or grave marker from the faithful.
Though local customs are known to vary wildly across Benacia's Cedrist communities, certain holy days are recognized by Cedrism's faithful regardless of culture or creed.
- Day of the Dead - 12.I
- Days of the King of H'graasreign - 4-6.II
- Festival of the Undaunted Atos - 6, 12, 18, or 24.II
- "Vivanxie Vivanxeon" or Cedrist New Year - 15.III
- Oustfest - 15.IV
- Fasmas Mass - 2.VI
- "Nowrûz" or the Day of Fires - 7.VII
- Feast day of Laguna - 13.VIII
- Kaiser's Day 19.VIII
- Fiesta de la Boom - 13.XII
- The Days of Auspice - 1-24.IX
- Eightsday - 20.XIV
- Reincarnation: The immortal soul passes, upon one's death, to a vessel deemed worthy of the deeds of the life which has ended. If those deeds merit neither transcendence to the Divine Realm nor banishment to Balgurd, the soul is given to a new mortal vessel. What new vessel one is destined for in the next life is dependent on the pain and hardship endured in all the lives before, with greater suffering garnering greater boons.
- Merit: One's words and actions in life are weighed by the watchers of the Realms. It is this measure of merit which determines the ultimate fate of one's soul.
- Path of Transcendence (Holy Wisdom): Those who do deeds of great benefit to their fellow man, live a pious life, and suffer quietly and with pride are to be rewarded with eternal glory and bliss amongst those found worthy of entry to the Divine Realm.
- Path of Descent: Those who do deeds of great evil and inflict destruction upon others for the pleasure of none but themselves are to be rewarded with untold power and rage within the unreachable pits of Balgurd.
- Path of Rejection (Heresy): Those who would slander the Cedrist and turn from their truths are fated to wander the Mortal Realm for all time, no matter the merit of their deeds, for the watchers are blind to these souls.
Hierarchy of the Priesthood
- The Kaiser
- Regem enim sacrificium mors: High Priest (King of the Sacrifice for death) of the Cult of Mors
- Regina sacramenta vitae: High Priestess (Queen of the Sacrament for life) of the Cult of Viviantia
- Imperial Vicar of the Cult of the Sacred Detonation
- Imperial Vicar of the Imperial Cult
- Champion of the Cult of the Benac
- Reverend Mother of the Cult of Sakat
- Reverend Mother of the Cult of Alejia
- Imperial Vicar of the Cult of B'Caw
- Thrones of the Cult of Mors
- Vicars of the High Gods
- Paines of the Cult of Mors
- Lords of the Cult of Mors
- Vicars of the Lesser Gods
- Masters of the Cult of Mors
- Temple Officiants
- Apprentice of the Cult of Mors
- Temple Acolytes
- Initiates of the Cult of Mors
- Initiates to Temple
The Sacred College is the highest doctrinal authority of the Cedrist Church and superintends all aspects of the faith including the moral behaviour of its congregations and the rituals of worship.
Because the number six is sacred to Mors, the Sacred College of the Cedrist Church, the highest ecclesiastical authority, comprises of the Kaiser, the King of the Sacrifice, the Queen of the Sacrament, and the Imperial Vicars for the Cult of the Sacred Detonation, the Imperial Cult, and the Champion of the Cult of the Benac. As Holy Wisdom is essential for the maintenance of proper order in a balanced universe, the Reverend Mother of the Cult of Sakat also attends the Sacred College as a non-voting member who advises the Kaiser and who can vote in his absence.
There are, throughout the continent of Benacia, a multitude of sectarian deviations within Cedrism that are recognized as legitimate to their own regions by the higher authority of the faith's hierarchy. Little academic study has been devoted to these sects as of yet, though it was decided during the closing of the Council of Negrixnaht that further such councils may be organized remedy this.