Hevna has two major religions and a host of minor ones. The two ‘big names’ are ‘The Church of the Seven Guiding Lights’ and ‘Lodaism’. Read on for details on their rites, beliefs, and practices.
The Seven Lights
Arguably the most ordered and powerful religion on Hevna, the Church of the Seven Guiding Lights is a very organized belief system, overseen by the ordained Grand Magus at the Cathedral in Arlatene.
The Faithful believe all life rose from the power of the Gods, led by the First Among Gods, Hevna. For those who follow the Lights, the Gods are present as the very stars in the night sky, and the ground itself the body of He who created all things.
For adherents to the Lights, life and all that exists is a gift from the Gods. Cherishing this gift and acting morally towards one another may grant one’s soul passage into the Heavens when Hevna reawakens from his rest, there to join the Divine among the stars (a subsect of the Lights believe this is so humanity may one day be reborn upon another world, to live with the gods themselves).
It is also believed by the Followers that those who act without morals or commit evil and sin will be instead doomed to the Hell of the ground itself, there to languish for eternity in loneliness after Hevna awakes from his sleep to lead His Children to the afterlife among the stars above.
Unsurprisingly, the Faith of the Seven Guiding Lights has a pantheon of seven major deities.
Chief of the deities followed is Hevna, the Father God. On his bones walk the children of the stars, mankind, watched over by his gentle daughter Leora, the moon, who gives light even into the darkness. Both of these deities originate from the far older Helzetian religion, and have retained their names while the other planetary bodies have undergone multiple names to arrive at their present-day incarnations.
Hevna is believed to be a loving father who gave to his creations the ability to think, learn, understand and choose, and then fell into sleep after his great labor.
Leora is believed to have been the last creation of Hevna, a fractured piece of himself placed in the sky to watch over the children of the stars while he slept, and he gave to her the greatest beauty so she would shine even in the darkness to keep men safe.
Jena is believed to be Hevna’s older sister and is depicted as having a firebrand personality, no doubt derived from the planet of her name and its closeness to systems star, Maris. She is the Goddess of creating and forging. To her is credited the gift of fire to the children of the stars, which she gave to them when Hevna sank into slumber and she saw how winter would freeze them without his guidance. Fire’s Night takes place at the start of winter to celebrate her.
In churches of the Faith, there will be a shrine to the Light of Jena, first of the Lights, in her hues of orange, and the Hammer of Creation that acts as her sigil. Linked with heat and forging, Jena is the Star most craftsmen follow.
Nist is the god of water and storms to the followers of the Lights. The reason he has this honor is hard to place with certainty, thought two scholarly routes of thought place worship of his aspect having come from the dominance of the planet in the sky during the storm seasons in the countries that first practiced the religion, while other trains of thought ascribe his powers to the water god Furst of the ancient Helzetians, who was worshiped around mid-summer when the rivers of Helze rose and has also appropriated the creativity of Braka, a vivacious deity of alcohol from the same times and general locales.
To the Faith, Nist is the bringer and calmer of storms, with artistic moods to match, and a flair for drama and beauty. When summer heat threatened the children of the stars, he gave them water to drink and in which to bathe and play and is celebrated by both the midsummer water carnival and a shrine in all churches, decked out in the blues and greens of his aspect, and a rearing stallion for the power of the sea.
Sovay is the Light of Luck and believed to judge the children of the stars, and use her judgment to affect all the gifts of the other Lights. Fortune’s day is celebrated the day before the month named for her begins, and people spend this day appeasing the goddess with good deeds and well wishes to their fellow men, as well as striving to forgive wrongs done in the past year.
Sovay has become very popular with soldiers, especially during wartime. She is believed to bring luck in battle, and forgiveness for lives taken defending one’s own. Travelers also carry trinkets in the shape of the carrier dove or scales that are her sigil for luck on the road.
Among all the gods in the Faith, Sovay is the least documented, ritualized and most shrouded in mystery as to her origins, though it is very probable she was adopted from pagan faiths in each region the religion spread to. She always has a shrine at every church, however, in pinks and whites, and it is often one of the most frequented by the faithful.
Girst is the Light of Spring and growth, and thus arguably the second most important God in the Faith. The younger brother of Hevna, he is believed to be very close to the Father God, and to imitate him.
The faithful believe Girst cried when Hevna fell into his deep sleep, and thus gave the lands their first rains. From these sprang the new growth of spring, and Girst promised to watch over the Children of the Stars and ensure they did not go hungry until Hevna awakens once more.
The acorn and the rake have become his symbols, and he is depicted in most churches as sitting under an oak tree. He is the preferred God of farmers and grocers, and is celebrated in the first day of spring, as well as in the autumnal proceedings of many countries as the harvest is the result of his benevolence.
Lenay is the Light of Aether, Magic, and Mystery. She is sister to Hevna and believed to be the vainest of the Gods for her love of glass and gems.
The faithful believe Lenay sang for Hevna when he fell into his deep sleep, decorated his resting place with beautiful gems to give him good dreams, and created twin dragons to guard his sleep until the day he wakes. Unlike many of the Lights, Lenay is not believed to have given any great gift to the Children of the Stars, though she is sometimes credited as the God that allows some people to Weave. Certainly, she is the Light most often prayed to by those faithful who make their living in the whimsical flows of aether.
The twin dragons are the most common symbol of Lenay, and she is depicted in most churches singing to the pair or Weaving, as they rest on hoards of glass and gems. Lenay is the focus of Dragons Day on Lenaber 3rd, where the faithful enjoy an evening carnival of story and song.
Torv is the Light of departure and death, as well as of learning and experience. He is the eldest of the ‘male’ Lights, and often seen as mentor to Hevna, despite their aspects being so opposed to each other.
Torv is venerated for inspiring Hevna to allow the Children of the Stars choice, and most academics and scholars worship Torv first and foremost, hoping to learn as Hevna himself did from the master Light.
Torv is also said to love music, and he is the focus of the Night of the Dead on Torvmer 32nd, when the Faithful celebrate the departed, who have already gone to the stars, by lighting bonfires. The heat is believed to reach the departed, as well as guard against the oncoming winter. Ghoulish fun is often part of the night, as the Faithful celebrate Torv’s deathly aspect.
Churches of the Faith always have a chapel to Torv, where the dead of the parish are laid out before burial. Torv is usually depicted as a pale scholar, seated with Death at a table playing chess, with the sun and moon replacing the kings on the board. Often, Death is depicted playing the violin.
For the Faithful, worship can be a very simple affair, on a general basis. While in the past older forms of the religion stated that the Lights could only be understood and communicated with by the inducted priests of the Faith, with the advent of easier to grind glass and cheaper lenses, it is easier than ever for the populace to turn their eyes to the stars, and use the technology of modern science to track them across the sky.
The result is that modern worship encourages believers to pray to the Lights any evening they are in need of guidance and to visit the church when possible. While it is very much still the tradition and ‘best practice’ to attend church on Lightsday every week, the Lights listen to their flock whenever they are needed.
Basic worship not involving Lightsday worship mostly takes the form of personal communion with the Lights in the Sanctuary of any local church. The Sanctuary is always the first area a worshiper will come into, with statues to the Lights arrayed in an open room. Those in need of a prayer answered will leave their plea on a slip of paper in the cupped hands of the appropriate Light and may leave immediately after doing so. Those wishing for further guidance or more earnest prayer, the Narthex, or core, of the church will have pews and an attending priest if needed.
Basic worship on the final day of the week, Lightsday, typically sees the entire congregation filling the pews of the Narthex to listen to the chosen sermon of the church’s Magus Priest. The sermons may be related to local current events, or tailored to the time of the year, and is usually followed by the faithful leaving offerings to the departed in water pools in the church. It is believed items broken and cast into blessed water send their essence to the stars, where they may aid the departed, and a priest may be retained to offer blessings and prayers during this process.
Worship of a Birth
When a child is born, parents of the Faith will often wish to have their child presented to the Lights before the end of their first year. Many churches, therefore, have a Sancticity to facilitate this process, which may be a large space with frescos or a small private room. Regardless of size and locale in the church, the Sancticity always has a font of blessed water, and arrangements made to fill it with natural light.
Traditionally, the font is kept behind some form of a barrier which the parents of the children will unlock or remove so the child may be blessed, with the crossing of the threshold symbolic of the crossing all Children of the Stars will one day make into the Heavens. It is also believed that in the parents crossing the threshold first, the spirits of the family’s departed are drawn to the event, to celebrate the new life from beyond the grave.
A priest speaks the litany of birth, beseeching each of the Lights, in turn, to bless the child with their aspects, before finally passing a circle of water over the child’s forehead to dedicate his life to Hevna, then the baby is dunked in the water seven times. Many parents also choose to scatter seven types of petals at the culmination of the ceremony, and it is considered bad luck if the child is blessed on a rainy or overcast day.
Worship of a Death
Death is never an easy topic, but believers in the Lights take great solace that death is far from the end, but simply a time of judgment from whence one may travel on to the Heavens, and an afterlife among the Stars. It is merely a transition, until such time as the living catch up to their forebears.
To facilitate this transition, most churches, especially those with a graveyard, have a Funerary. It is often more publicly available than even the Sancticity, so that the dead may be visited over a period of three days by friends and family to wish them a safe journey, and to say goodbye. Tokens of the Lights most relevant to the deceased are often left on the body, as well as objects broken into the water in the Funerary to aid the spirit on its journey.
On the evening of the third day, a priest will accompany the family in prayer and beseeching of the Lights to accept the departed, before the body is borne to a pre-dug grave. Once they have been laid to rest, a fire will be set on top of the filled in earth, the heat said to help the soul find its way to the Stars. Often, the family will set off fireworks and attend the fire until dawn. It is considered terrible bad luck to wear anything shiny to the ceremony, as it may confuse the spirit about where to go, and cause them to haunt the earth instead of passing on.
Worship of Holy Days
On any of the Seven Lights celebratory days, the church declares both a holy-day (holiday) and holds a sermon similar to those on Lightdays, but themed to the event in question. Often this is followed by parties or some celebration in town or occasionally at the church itself. The current calendar of Holy Days is as follows:
- Saints Day: Lightsday 16th Norwary (Celebration of church saints)
- Girsts Day: Merday 1st Girstary (Celebration of Girst & Spring)
- Fortune Day: Lightsday 32nd Girstary (Celebration of Sovay & Luck)
- Summer’s Wine: Merday 1st Leyober (Celebration of Leora & Wine)
- Water Carnival: Lightsday 16th Nistil (Celebration of Nist & Midsummer)
- Dragons Day: Weaveday 3rd Lenaber (Celebration of Lenay and Aether)
- Lights Night: Lightsday 16th Reapnil (Celebration of Love, followed by Lovers Day 17th Reapnil)
- Night of the Dead: Lightsday 32nd Torvmer (Celebration of Torv, Learning & Death)
- Fires Night: Merday 1st Jenamer (Celebration of Jena and Forging)
- Year Rest Day/Year Birth Day – While not an official pair of Holy Days, special services are held by the church on these two days (Lightsday 32nd Sanmer, Merday 1st Norwary) and only the most essential services require men to work on these days as the new year starts.
While not so centralized, powerful or organized as the Lights, Lodaism is most assuredly the most widespread of Hevna’s religions, with a rich tapestry of different ‘flavors’ in all regions with this set of beliefs.
Adherents of Lodaism believe all life arose from the seven Lodestones around Hevna’s surface, and the Dragons which they represent. Adherents believe that the Dragons created all life, and when they returned to their Lodestones after warring with each other, Great San and Black Wen created both Men and Nagu to tend to the earth in their stead.
In death, Lodaists believe that the soul is born again in a new form, based on their faith and behavior in their previous life. For those who lead pure and fulfilling lives, the soul will eventually join the Dragons, until the end times when the sun will go out and the Dragons will rise again to remake the world.
For those who have led sinful or unfulfilling lives, the nature of their reincarnation may be less favorable, and those to whom sin comes for multiple lifetimes, the ultimate fate is to be removed from the cycle of life, and into the Seven Hells instead.
The deities of Lodaism are a lot more based in the natural world than in disconnected ideals or areas of human development.
For all the adherents of Lodaism follow the seven great dragons, each of these represents an aspect of the physical world. Due to how fundamental the faith is, it is less orderly than The Faith of the Seven Lights, leading to differences in some of the rites depending on where in the world one encounters it.Lodaism may be one of the very oldest faiths on Hevna, and no one really knows its exact origin, or thus, the origin of the Dragons.
Great San, the Green Dragon, is the deity of Growth. He is attributed with creating all the lands, especially the forests, and filling the world with every kind of land animal.
San is the Dragon adherents offer to when praying for a good harvest, a safe pregnancy, or a good deer hunt.
Traditionally, San is believed to have gone to rest in the Lodestone of Rasaal, though occasionally he is also said to be of the Lodestones in Letch or the Esian Desert, with the latter dating back to very early versions of Lodaism, which may have arisen before the area became arid.
Great San is typically celebrated in any region where Lodaism is present in Spring, or the equivalent ‘growth’ season of the area. In those areas where desert or snow dominates, San is typically celebrated during the primary mating season for most animals, or during the start of any Spin cycle, by local Nagan tribes.
The sigil of San is usually a leaf, an acorn, or a paw print.
Cas, the White Dragon, is the deity of imagination and luck. He is attributed with creating all the creatures of the air, and with creating music and song by giving birds the ability to sing.
Cas is the Dragon to whom adherents pray for good fortune, which is said to be answered by the appearance of a white bird. He is also the Dragon to whom one may pray to find something lost or to find ones way, and if often said to grant foresight if an offering particularly pleases him.
Usually, Cas is associated with the Nostalian Lodestone, though in a few places he is attributed to the Stone of Adane, and its mountains.
Cas is typically celebrated in the change of Spring to Summer, or in those areas where the seasons are not so clear-cut, he is often celebrated just before the start or end of bird migrations.
The sigil of Cas is usually a feather, a dove or a silver coin with a hole in it.
Kem, the Blue Dragon, is the deity of the seas and mangroves. He is attributed with creating all the animals of the water, from fish to crustaceans, and with the aspect of strength.
Kem is the Dragon to whom offerings are made for a safe journey at sea, a good fishing catch, and to whom adherents pray to calm rising waters and high tides. In his aspect of Strength, Kem is also offered to before any endeavor requiring endurance or sheer force, including tournaments.
Kem is associated with the Lodestone of the Lode islands, due to the proximity of the sea, and the small landmasses of the islands. Due to the high tides that can reach the Stone itself, it is universally held therefore that the Lode islands are Kem’s resting place.
In many places, winter brings the roughest seas and strength to survive the cold is necessary, so Kem is celebrated most at this time, though in more tropical regions, he may be instead be worshiped most during local high tides and cultural festivals of skill.
The sigil of Kem is usually a cresting wave, a water drop or a powerful whale.
Imo, the Red Dragon, is the deity of fire and volcanoes. He is attributed with creating all heat in the world, including the sun, and shaping rock. He is also attributed with vanity and temper, and gemstones.
Imo is the Dragon to whom offerings are made in midwinter to bring on the spring, and to calm raging volcanoes in those places which suffer their wrath. Imo is also the Dragon to whom adherents leave offerings for wealth, usually in the form of burning colored feathers.
Imo is universally attributed to the Lodestone in the Okan Islands, where volcanic activity is most prevalent, as is the production of valuable obsidian. That the residents of the islands are also known to be very hostile to strangers on occasion also fits with Imo’s aspect.
Across the Lodaist world, Imo is celebrated at the hottest part of the year, and again in winter for those places where the cold is a threat. In mid-winter, bonfires are lit in his honor to ask him to melt the snows and bring back the sun.
The sigil of Imo is the disc of the sun, a fiery mountain, or a pendant of onyx or obsidian, usually with a feather through it.
Lon, the Golden Dragon, is the deity of storms and rain. He is attributed with creating all the worlds rivers and fresh water. He is also attributed with the noise of storms, which is said to be his dying roar still echoing, and in more recent years, he has also come t be associated with learning and aether, as technology begins to harness the ‘lightning’ of his storms.
Lon is the Dragon adherents worship to calm the storms, or to call for rain in a drought. He is often worshiped in river side communities for a good fish harvest, and scholars may pray to him for insight in a particular field of study. While most musicians worship Cas, drummers favor Lon.
Lon is usually associated with the Lodestone in the Esian desert, famous for its energetic lightning storms, but is sometimes also assigned to the Stone in the Nostalian Snowflats.
Typically, Lon is celebrated in any regions rainy season, and also in midsummer in drier areas, to break periods of drought. Lon is said to enjoy dancing, and his worship often features this as a ritual.
The sigil of Lon is a lightning bolt, a storm cloud, or a pendant of thunderbolt iron.
Tal, the Amber Dragon, is the deity of the earth. He is credited with creating all the mountains and canyons, and with the plants of the earth which can be eaten by Nagu and Men. Due to his aspect as god of mountains, he is also celebrated as the god of heath and home, and construction.
Tal is the Dragon the faithful make offerings to when building a new home, to ensure a good harvest in the fields, and for a good wine yield. Farmers, builders and other laborers tend to follow Tal.
Tal is often associated with the Lodestone in Letch, though he is sometimes also attributed to the Rasaalian Stone, or Adane Stone, as all these areas boast good crops, and green land.
Usually, Tal is celebrated around the harvest in any locale where Lodaism is practiced, though in areas without a cropping season, he may be worshiped during the height of migration and hunting seasons instead. Most Lodaist locations also have a drinking festival at some point in the year dedicated to Tal, often at the turn of one year into the next.
The sigil of Tal is a vine and grapes, a seedling in sprout, or a piece of carved stone, usually in the shape of a dragon.
Wen, the Black Dragon, is the youngest of the pantheon, and the deity of endings, death, balance, and wisdom. While Lon is often worshipped as the Dragon of new discoveries, technology and learning, Black Wen is the dragon of experience, wisdom and culture.
Wen is attributed with bringing balance to the creations of the other Dragons, and with recording the birth of the world. He is often seen as the most ‘human’ of the Dragons, and the one most turned to in times of personal grief, strife or sorrow. Despite the negative connotations of Wen’s aspects, he is also very much celebrated and venerated as the Dragon which guides souls to the Lodestones, and then into their next life. Confusingly to people of other faiths, Wen represents both death and the aspect of youth, as the youngest of the Dragons, but to Lodaists, this juxtaposition is no concern.
Wen is almost universally held to be the Dragon sleeping at the Nostlaian Lodestone, at the end of the world, and he is venerated most in the dark of night, and in the winter. He is always the Dragon to which people turn when a loved one passes on, and offerings are made to him when someone is ill, in the hopes of recovery.
The sigil of Wen is a skull, a pendant of silver and obsidian or an extinguished candle.
Lodaist worship is hugely diverse in the different cultures across Hevna that follow the Dragons and the Stones, but there are a few commonalities that nearly all the faithful share.
First, Lodaist worship is a very idol-centric faith. Whether a family has a shrine to one or more of the Dragons, or simply a collection of sigils of the deities, Lodaists typically pray each morning and night to the Dragons, as one might commune with a wise relative.
Secondly, Lodaists find evidence of their gods in the natural world around them, and often leave offerings at places where this relation is obvious. Great San, for example, might be venerated on a well-traveled road where a particularly large tree stands. Along docks or waterfronts in Lodaist settlements, tiny wayshrines to the water Dragons might be found, or in mines, shrines to Lon.
Third, Lodaists the world over enjoy days of veneration to specific Dragons. While these dates might change depending on culture, these special days are often overseen by feasting, drinking, and ritual offerings to community shrines.
Fourth, most Lodaist settlements have a chief priest (who may have any of a number of titles, from Shaman to Speaker) who oversees community shrines, holy days, and attends births and deaths. The priests will also be responsible for the cremation and interment of any unclaimed dead, and petitioning civic leaders on religious matters.
Beyond this, Lodaist worship is a very personal and varied affair, experienced different from culture to culture, community to community and even family to family.
Worship of a Birth
Births are a cause of major celebration in most cultures, especially in Lodaism where it is believed the spirit if a child is the rebirth of a departed soul. Coupled with the very large Nagu population who follow the faith, and their unique biology for conception, there is no event greater to a Lodaist family than the welcoming of a new life into the world.
Typically, new births are built up to over a period of weeks, with the mother seen as especially holy and Dragon-touched in the last month of her pregnancy. Priests in more rural communities are often also the local doctors, and it certainly considered good form to have the child blessed as soon as they are born, before the umbilical is cut. Children are usually blessed in the name of the Dragon most treasured by the family, or the Dragon who was last celebrated with a holy day.
Following the birth, the umbilical and placenta are kept for a day to be burned on a pyre by the father, along with offerings to the Dragons in thanks for the new life, and the community often bring gifts and food to the mother and child, as they are seen as blessed. It is considered good luck to touch the mothers belly, and rub the child’s head, and is also seen as a way to encourage fertility in other women.
In some cultures, the baby may be named after one of the recently departed, if it is believed it is the same soul, reborn.
Worship of a Death
Death is a sad time, even in Lodaism, but it is also a time of celebration. Followers of the Dragons and Stones believe death is simply a transitional state where the soul sheds a wounded or old body and returns to the circle of life to be reborn, by the will of the Dragons. While it is sad to lose a loved one or good friend, Lodaists take solace in the fact they will meet again, knowingly or not, in the great wheel of existence.
When a death is expected, due to old age or illness, the subject may be broached ahead of time, and the stories of the dying recorded and added to the archive of the priests, as well as any sins or crimes absolved where possible before the end. This is because Lodaists believe that the purer your soul on death, the more likely the Dragons are to return one as a man once more, or best of all, accept the departing soul into their embrace until the end of days, as the soul’s work is finally complete.
After death has occurred, the dead are washed, wrapped in linens and cremated. Lodaists believe burial denies the soul access to the afterlife, a belief based in the physicality of the Stones in areas where people can take ashes to the great monoliths and physically see the transition of ashes into Light. Only the worst of sinners and criminals are buried, with most of the dead enjoying a parade of friends and family laying specal items on their pyre, before it is lit by a family member.
The ashes are collected, and where possible taken to a Lodestone, though in those countries where this is not possible, the ashes are typically placed in small balloons in midwinter, and sent into the night sky, or out over the sea. Usually, these balloons are decorated with the sigils of Wen, and have been to travel great distances in some parts of the world.
Worship of Holy Days
Holy days vary wildly across Hevna, as every community celebrates the Dragon’s when most applicable to themselves and the aspect of each Dragon. Below is a list of common festivals, and when they may be held, though no one area completely adheres to all of these:
- Celebration of San: Spring festival, focus on new life and beginnings
- San’s Spin/Festival of Spin/Fertility: Celebration in Nagu communities of new Spin and ability to concieve. Typically San and Wen are both venerated most at this time.
- Festival of Air: Typically a seasonal change celebration, from Spring to Summer
- Sea Celebration: May take place in either (or both) start of winter and high fishing season.
- Summer Pyre: Midsummer celebration of Imo and the longest day of the year.
- Fire’s Night: Midwinter festival to Imo to call back the spring and sun.
- Rain Dance/Storm Festival: Either in drought to call Lon’s rains, or storm season, to calm them.
- Tal’s Bounty: Harvest festival
- All Tal’s Night: Drinking festival, often timed when wine is ready for the year.
- Deaths Eve/Dragons Night: Often in winter, or around the time when ashes are released into the air.
- Year’s Birth: New Years celebration
- Dragons Day: Autumn celebration of all Dragons and the creation myth. Often with fancy dress.