A dualist religion, Iralliam is one of the largest faiths in terms of sheer number of adherents and geographical spread in the entire world. The religion posits the opposition of two gods, Opporia and Istria: the former being that of light and good, the latter, of dark and evil. Since its founding by the Prophet Kleo, it has spread through the Liealb and Uggor to the River Had, River Sesh, Helsia, the southern jungles, and into the area of the former Dulama Empire in the west. Helsia and the Had valley in recent times have organized independent conclaves in schism from the Church of Iralliam. The current head of the orthodox Church of Iralliam is the occupant of the office of Grandpatriarch in Opios. After reform by the Moti Emperor Third Gaci, it became closely tied to the patronage of the Holy Moti Empire, though after the collapse of the Empire, and the creation of an Ecclesiastical State in the Kiyaj valley, it has become increasingly independent of secular powers.
Cosmology and Doctrines Regarding SalvationEdit
Iralliamite theology is expressed first and foremost in the religions sacred scriptures. These are the "Sayings of the Prophet", which constitutes a series of sermons and a list of key tenets given towards the end of his ministry outlining the essence of the faith and the events of their dictation, and the Abharavastra or "Book of Truth" which encompasses Iralliamite cosmological, theological and eschatological doctrines and provides an account of the Prophets ministry and even some prophecies.
The Creation narrative of Iralliam describes how "The One", created the first creation (the heaven of Iralliam) and the second creation (the world of darkness) and finally the third creation (the Material Universe) and humanity whom he gave souls fashioned from his own divine light, before separating his essence and spirit and incarnating as the gods Istria and Opporia. Iralliam teaches that at this point humanity lived as one united family in paradise, but that in time Istria seeking a return to the static peace of eternity through the destruction of life and the consigning of souls to stasis made war against Opporia, rebelled against the divine plan established in the beginning fomenting disorder in the universe, with Istria also corruptign the souls of humanity and thus creating sin, and bringing to an end the primeval paradise.
The Church teaches that this disorder and the celestial war will conclude at the end of time with the victory of Opporia or Istria in a final battle after which all creation will be either destroyed or remade. Humanity is believed to be key to the outcome of this final battle through the agency of the "army of light", that is the souls of men that have not been destroyed by Istria and have returned to Opporia (the "army of light" being considered spiritually identical to the Church). This belief is the main impetus behind the evangelical impulse of Iralliam, with the conversion of men believed to be pivotal firstly in the present spiritual conflict against the forces of Istria, and ultimately to the very fate of the universe itself.
In order to facilitate souls returning to union with Opporia, Iralliamite theology teaches that spiritual practice through prayer, meditation, sacraments and rites is necessary to receive the "grace of light' from Opporia, with this grace serving as a purgative force cleansing ones soul from corruption, and enabling the soul to be illuminated and finally united to Opporia and the divine life. The Church believes that this process must occur in ones lifetime, with ones soul immediately claimed either by the forces of darkness or the forces of light after bodily death.
The Church teaches that the Prophet Kleo established by the authority of Opporia the succession of Grand-Patriarchs as a safeguard against error and the lies of Istria, and as the earthly leader of the Church in its conflict against darkness. The Church is believed to be infallible in matter of faith and morals, by the guarantee of Opporia expressed through the infallible and oracular words of the Prophet. This reflects the Church's belief, expressed in the Thirty Tenets of the Prophet that the Church institutionally as well as spiritually represents the One and Universal Church, which is to say the army of light itself charged to combat evil and error, outside of which men cannot reasonably hope to be saved.
In addition to the ordinary prohibitions on such things as murder, incest and the most universal of abominations, the teachings of the Prophet in moral terms emphasise filial and familial love to ones neighbor and kin, faithfulness and honest dealing, and the value of simple hard work with ones hands. The Prophet taught that those who toiled long at their tasks in life, no matter how mundane, in offering their sacrifices to Opporia and working with diligence and with conscientiousness were at the heights of virtue. While the Prophet did not explicitly disapprove of trade, the Church in following his teachings values highly the farmer and craftsman above the merchant, and approves of trade and moneylending only when the trade is either the fruit of ones own effort, or is otherwise conducted in a manner that avoids the risk of obsessiveness regarding money. Indeed the suspicion that moneylending is an "occasion of sin' in which the temptations of greed and general worldliness are high to the grave harm of uncultivated souls has led the Church to establish itself as the largest financial servitor in the cradle, with the intention to ensure that financial services are run firstly in accordance with religious principles, and secondly for benefit of religion rather than for worldly gain and the acquisition of private luxury.
Another aspect of the Church's teaching is the emphasis on mercy and forgiveness of crime. The Church teaches that a criminal who sincerely repents and who through his works shows he has spiritually improved himself through Opporia's grace should be granted the forgiveness of his spiritual brothers. This said, the Church notes that Opporia's divine justice dictates that any crime should be suitably punished according to its nature and severity lest evil be permitted to flourish unchecked in society.
Liturgical and Mystical TheologyEdit
The Church teaches that grace can be gained through devotion and love to Opporia manifested in reverence, piety and religious ecstasy, with this belief being codified and becoming widespread in the eighth and ninth centuries, and helping facilitate the conversion of the Trilui, Zyeshu and Dulama to the faith. Devotions in private life, and regular attendance at temple rites is of great importance in the religious life of the faithful.
Temple ritual in response to this, particularly in larger temples, increasingly emphasized the beauty of worship and the idea of offering the best of human hands to the god. With these principles coming together in the act and art of worship and temple symbolism.
Ancient Liealb religions venerated celestial deities for probably millennia before the emergence of the Prophet. Opporia and Istria, for example, have precursors in the most ancient records; Opporia-like iconography appears in the archaeological record of Thearak almost from the earliest days. These deities would appear much later, albeit in heavily modified form, in the first legends of the Iralliamite faith.
The Prophet Edit
The status quo was changed by the Prophet Kleo, a man who in legend had spent decades among the Liealb, ministering to town after town, healing the sick and feeding the hungry, blessing the poor and counseling the rich. According to the Sayings of the Prophet, Kleo waited twenty years for a ship to bear him to his final resting place, and was happy to return to the embrace of Opporia. Only at the pleas of a mother did he delay long enough to deliver a series of sermons on the nature of the faith -- sayings that would remain core tenets of the faith even to the present day. Men can be saved from oblivion only through receiving the Light of Creation from Opporia by his grace.
In the Uggor Lands Edit
After its foundation among the Liealb, Iralliam remained a regional faith for many years, limited by the spread of the Liealb people and their hostile relations with almost all of their neighbors. The eventual conquest of Thearak by the growing imperial power of Krato opened up the southern trading network, eventually leading to the conversion of many Uggor. The would-be conquerors had become tools of the faithful.
Iralliam only hit a few minor speedbumps since its adoption by the Council of Chiefs of Krato: opposition in the central Duroc lands of old came from the Order of the One, and traditional Uggor animism remained firmly entrenched among the Chiefs of Moti.
A syncretic faith emerged over the centuries, finally culminating in the rule of Third Gaci, who launched a series of reforms that brought the faith more into alignment with his own vision. This led to a sort of merger of the idea of the Great Family of the Uggor and the ecumenical vision of a world united under the banner of the Church, combining the aims of church and state into a grand strategic vision for the far future. Quietly, he also snuffed out many of the more egregious examples of Moti animal-worship that had persisted even in the face of heavy proselytizing. The faith became the primary religion of the lands south of the Kotthorns, spilling over into Bisria after its conquest by Kirost.
However with the fall of the Moti Empire, the northern regions increasingly came under the influence of Ardavan and Aitahism, leaving Iralliam to continue dominating the southern Yensai basin in its traditional heartland of the old Kratoan Empire.
In Eastern CradleEdit
The legion of the faithful came into conflict with the Satar horde from the far north, colliding primarily on the front in the valley of the River Sesh. Raids by Atraxes devastated the Uggor heartland, and set the stage for the War of the Crimson Elephant, a conflict which sprawled across much of the known world and led to the destruction of many of the old empires. Eventually, though, it created a world dominated by what would become the Holy Moti Empire and its two great foes -- the Ardavai Exatai and the Kothari Exatai.
The conflict was obviously primarily economically and politically motivated, but significant religious undercurrents fed into it as well. The Satar, of course, primarily adhered to their own faith Ardavan, whose vision of a world dominated by battle and men becoming gods seemed not only false but blasphemous to the Iralliamite faithful -- a group which increasingly came to dominate the Hu'ut subjects of the Kothari in particular. Conflict blossomed for centuries, until finally the Kothari elite converted to the faith that had won over most of its people.
The faith would remain strong here for many centuries, with the faith spreading to convert Hanakar and Hamakua by the resettlement of satar in the region, and then Zyeshu. However in recent times the independent conclaves came to dominate the Huut valley and the Zyesh Lands in opposition to the orthodox Church as a consequence of political disputes between the patriarchs in Jahip and the Kothari Redeemers dividing the Kothari Exatai and leaving the region on the cusp of religious conflict.
In the Far South and West Edit
To the south of the Galas Sea, on the other hand, conversion took place almost entirely by the book rather than the sword. The Kayana, a diverse group of semi-settled farmers in the southern jungles, took a keen interest in the faith of the north, brought to them by Kratoan travelers over the centuries. Converting en masse, the faith quickly outpaced the actual knowledge of the Church itself -- soon, large, self-governing communities of Iralliamite worshipers existed in the far south, with a patriarchate eventually being formed in Parna to assist in the administration of the region.
Centuries of success spurred the Grandpatriarchs to attempt to extend their reach into the recently-contacted Dulama Empire, an effort which met with mixed success at best. Encounters with the sacrificial religions of the Dulama, and even the more mystical Machai faith, shocked the Iralliamite clergy, few of whom were willing to make the long trek west; those who did managed to convert significant minor congregations in Dula, Tiagho, and the other great cities of the West, though never anything meriting the real attention of the Dulama Emperors.
However with the fall of the Dulama Empire and the rise of the Vithanama Empire, the new elite converted to Iralliam for political reasons, facilitating the conversion of the eastern core of the Dulama lands, including the old imperial cities, and seeing the establishment of patriarchats in Ghaon, Tiagho and Dula itself.
The leader of the Church is the Grandpatriarch, based in Opios; over time, who is elected by a college of the senior priests in Opios. His office evolved over time to the point where his decree was law -- at least in the matters of religion. This unilateral authority was significantly undermined by the emergence of the Moti Ayasi Third Gaci, whose reforms provided a second pole of authority; however with the fall of the Moti Empire the authority of the Grand-Patriarch remains uncontested, although increasingly the Grand-Patriarch serves only a theological role, with the regional patriarchs being the most active agents of the hierarchy.
The Grandpatriarch directly supervises the Patriarchs, who are several in number: one each in Krato (city), Ghaon, Dula, Tiagho and Triad with a nominal patriarch being seated at Jahip. The Patriarch of Krato holds the honorary title to Gaci in the wake of that regions conversion to other religions ; these men administrate enormous regions, with further subdivision under these regions being administered by exarchs and their attendant temples and priesthoods. The Patriarch in Gaci often additionally acts as a sort of liaison between Ayasi and the Church.
During the reign of Grand-Patriarch Aisen, in the wake of scandalous corruption within the Church, the office of Exarch was created. These clerics serve are appointed by, and serve as deputies to the patriarchs at a localised level, supervising clergy and religious practice where the Patriarchs cannot directly manage affairs. The Grand-Patriarch in creating this office reserved the right to veto appointments however, which served to consolidate much latent power in Opios and away from the Ayasi in Gaci.
Since the conversion of the Kothari Exatai, the Satar tradition of monasticism was incorporated by the religion on the ground; half a dozen Iralliamite monasteries sprang up on the northern slopes of the Kothai. These were brought southward to Hanakar with the settlement of Satar veterans there. Monastic orders remained a quasi-legal segment of the religious hierarchy until regularisation occured in the reign of Grand Patriarch Aisen-- nominally, they serve under the Grandpatriarch himself and they still remain separate from the ordinary clerical hierarchy.
As the central city of the faith, Opios deserves some mention. The city had been the center of the cult of Opporia since time immemorial -- the names obviously sharing a common root in the Liealb language. Even after this, however, the Prophet is said to have resided near here, finally being born by river to his resting place in the city, where his tomb eventually served as the center of the grandest church in the Iralliamite faith. As the spiritual and administrative center of the faith, Opios draws an enormous number of pilgrims every year; only Gaci comes remotely close to rivaling its presence in the consciousness of its people.