Gods and Religious Systems

I. Introduction

The pantheon of the Fergiartuya is as manifold as the number of the different tribes constituting the people of the Fergiartu. But there are also many overlaps and in the course of time equations happened, where gods fused and sometimes lost certain aspects.
Furthermore we generally have to distinguish two big groups and religious systems: there are on the one hand the purely Fergiartan systems and gods and then those gods respectively systems, which were at home among the conquered or subjugated people. The gods of the "civilised" world (i.e. those realms and people of whom we already have written records, when the Fergiartu had not yet mastered the art of writing) are still known in their origins and often there are still written sources from Fergiartan times about their changes or their continuous further developments. In the case of subjugated people, who themselves only later came to wrtiting, we often wander in the dark about the origins or even the history of their gods and religion as such. Here we often have to rely on assumptions and archaeological findings.

As a subgroup of  Fergiartan gods and systems we can also count the cults, which developed in the course of the Fergiartan history. Of course, fusions also happened here or something new ones developed from the meeting of two systems. But we want to exclude the two big new cults under the term "philosophical systems" here, the Kyrism and the Davnism (dualistic system) - whereby we have to treat the term "philosophical" with caution, since religions are mostly also partially philosophical in nature. In the Fergiartan written sources these cults are called the "Duya Nova", the new teachings.


II. The Fergiartan Gods

In a certain way there is only a rather exact (no certainly deciding) criterion which allows us to file the gods and religious systems under this category. And this is the time rspectively the length of the historical existence of the religious system. And according to this criterion the seven gods revered in Hakrivarg have to be assumed as the basic Fergiartan religious system. A problem with this assignment is the systematic unity of this system. After all, the first written sources from the Fergiartan area stem only from about one hundred years before the construction of the seven temples. They are for the most part administrative texts like trade registers and inventories, and not describing or analysing texts about cultural facts. The system of the seven temples and gods could easily be a system of the aborigines, grown over centuries, taken over by the conquerors. But the historical unity of the system, the  ignorance about pre-existing belief systems of this area, as well as the fact that the seven gods of Hakrivarg also played an important role in the time of Fergiartan dominance, provide us with enough justification to designate this system as originally Fergiartan in nature. Important in this connection is also, that already the temple of Ketorimis (built about fifty years before) was sacred to the principal god of the Hakrivarg pantheon, Eramma.
But the fact, that the earliest religious findings in the West are brought into connection with a god named Ohisa - and this god does not belong to the system of the seven gods - also shows how problematic such an assignment is. But more on this later.

According to the Yainza Eyeni from the Kolnan Sonun, an important religious book from the second century, at the beginning of the world only a chaotic primal state existed, which is mostly called Nerel atte Tutan (the "Nothing and All") by the scholars. At some time in a burst of light the main god of the Fergiartan pantheon (respectively the seven gods of Hakrivarg), Eramma, developed. Because of this Eramma is often depicted in the Fergiartan iconography as sitting within a wreath of light rays. When he eventually began to feel lonesome and only found emptiness around himself, he created a partner for himself. And thus the goddess Peyna came into being, who originated from Eramma's hip. Subsequently Eramma and Peyna set out to create something against the emptiness, which was to have constancy, where before there had been nothing.

For the scholars of  Fergiartuya the world, which Eramma and Peyna generated, is consistently threatened by chaos. The earth and the sky are comprehended in the Fergiartan primal religion as borders against the chaos and the gods and men are in a constant fight against this primal power. Some day the world - and thus also the gods - will perish in this struggle and the history of the universe will enter into a new phase. How this development will look like, will also depend on the behaviour of the gods and men according to this belief. This eschatological component can also be found in many other Fergiartan systems.
The other five gods of this pantheon are:

Tarvsa, the magic-wise firstborn of  Peyna, god of natural forces.
Biollna, the god of war.
The hermaphroditic double-god of love,
Lonna/Milika.
Signi, goddess of change and time.
Valsa, god of the sea.

Eramma and Peyna are on the one hand simply seen as parents of gods and men; Peyna is also the goddess of fertility, she is furthermore called Mter Genun, mother of women. Eramma, on the other hand, has no fixed field of responsibility. Apart from his role as creator and father he is often asked for advice by the believers, for  inspiration (as is also the case with Tarvsa);
people pray to him also for protection from danger - especially the protection from chaos.

Seen from the point of theology, several components are important for the Fergiartan religion. The theogony of this system implies two important elements: on the one hand there is an important moral element, which does not only demand a lifestyle pleasing to god, but also emphasises the role of behaviour of each individual against the background of the threat by chaos. A moral life, morally positive behaviour, delay the victory of chaos further. On the other hand a kind of scientific component is added, since the enlargement of the knowledge of humanity - but also of the gods - impede the victory of chaos even further. Moral behaviour and the endeavour for a broadening of knowledge are thus weapons of gods and men in the fight against chaos.

On the other hand like in all religions stands the folk religion, which is more determined by the cult, by religious practice. Here above all prayer plays an important role for the Fergiartan religion, where the believers try to evoke a suitable mood by the use of smoke sacrifice, music and purifying ceremonies. While especially the request for guidance and assistance in the struggle against chaos are in the center of regular worship. the prayers of the believers naturally also contain pleas for more practical advantages like healthy children, one's own health or prosperity. But the eschatological element also has an effect here: The gods are seen as personal helpers in the fight against the wholly personal threat by chaos and everything one understands as emissaries or effects of this contrary power to one's own world. Several times during Fergiartan history therefore, an indignation of the believers was expressed against alchemists for instance, who were seen as henchmen of the Cites of Darkness. And neither was it of consequence that alchemy was actually "imported" from the Isles of the Magicians, nor that it were Fergiartan magicians (ferg. meyala) or voyaging practitioners.

Apart from the commands often found in religions like worship, help for the weaker or the demand for regular prayers, the kinds of conduct or behaviour demanded by the Fergiartan religion are especially the exhortation to meditation and the search for knowledge.  Meditation here serves on the one hand the strengthening of will in the struggle against chaos, on the other the gain of wisdom and knowledge. This endeavour for progression especially expresses itself in the construction of libraries, but as a supporting measure also in the aspiration of the priests of Hakrivarg, to teach the people elementary working knowledge in writing, reading and arguing. This led, as one will readily see, often to conflicts with the ruling class.

Of course, even the religious system of the seven gods was not free of inner-religious conflicts. Especially important in this connection is the Duya Otinay Minay, the "lore of lesser chaos". It came from an immanent contradiction of the teachings about the afterlife. According to the conservative point of view, the chaos would eventually win despite the efforts of men and gods. But afterwards a new world would arise, which would be the better the longer mankind could delay the victory of chaos and the more successful they were in their efforts for the "correct" way of life. But was chaos then not only the vicarious agent of men and gods? Was the "victory" of chaos then no more than its "defeat"?

Others asked even further. Was chaos needed for anything at all? Would the world not become "better" than before anyway, if mankind endeavoured for a better world successfully? And conversely, the world became "worse" anyway, if men desisted from a moral way of life. Of course, this shook the livelihood of the priests!

While the role of the priests was often adopted by the eldest of a family or a tribe in the period of the Fergiartan migration and the gradual sedentism, since the foundation of the seven temples in Hakrivarg, a distinct priesthood developed. It specifically operated  schools for the priestly new blood, which stood principally open to all, who felt the vocation. Since the Fergiartan priests were not forbidden to start a family, a constant reservoir for priestly new blood existed here. But the children of priests were just as little condemned to become priests, and thus Hakrivarg became a city, which was to a large part inhabited by clerical families. But also many families moved to Hakrivarg, who were actually little inclined to turn to the priestly career, but who searched the proximity of the priests and the temples out of spiritual needs. Thus Hakrivarg gradually became the holy city of the Fergiartuya even beyond the pretentions of the priesthood.

In time the seven temples also founded offshoots in other cities, who were then populated by the raised priests. But the priests, who had gone through the school of Hakrivarg, were also coveted by those holy places independent from the seven great temples. Or they themselves founded temples or took over vacant posts. The seven temples were each "ruled" by a kind of college. Although there existed no chairman in the proper sense, the eldest priest for the most part took over the moderation of such a conference. With the foundation of the temple offshoots the importance of the colleges in Hakrivarg increased steadily. But they were more responsible for matters of ecclestiastical law than for those of economy, since most temples endeavoured to become self-sufficient. Furthermore each of these colleges also dispatched his chairman to the so-called Holy Council, which served as voice of the priesthood of the seven temples to the outer world - already in the negotiations with Meyapotina after the conquest of the Holy City, the seven temples already acted in unison. The neutrality of the city, which was declared by the seven temples at that time, was also furtheron accepted by Meyapotina and his successors.

Beside the priesthood organised in the temples and their families, there were also Fergiartuya, who organised in religious  orders. They founded monasteries in remote areas and dedicated themselves to common contemplation and prayer. These orders turned away from the world and saw their role in winning knowledge in relation to the eschatological component of their belief for their fellow men. Naturally ascetisism (hanzatra = the ascetic) played an important role here. In more or less regular time spans they went out into the world again and announced their truths to the people on market places or before the temples. Of course, the priesthood of the seven temples was quite distrustful of the orders, since their doctrines sometimes contradicted the conservative point of view. Still, by time the orders achieved to assert themselves against the priesthood.

III. Other Fergiartan Systems

OHISA

One of the varitably eldest religious cults of the Fergiartuya is the one around the snake-god Ohisa. But this cult was never widespread and had its centre at the feet of the  mountain chain that spread from the Egarsa to the isles of the Magicians, the Ahipassni. Ironically this name means "Dragonridge". Near the city Remayka the votive statue of a man, who held a snake and a knife in his hands, was consequently found in a prince's grave from the fifth century before Meyapotina.
With the snake god Ohisa we have one of the few main gods, whom the believers feared more than they revered him. According to the belief of this cult Ohisa is a giant, sleeping snake. When this snake awakes one day, it will devour the sun and destroy the world of humans with it. Therefore the task of the believers is to prevent the awakening of the snake or at least to delay it.

The earthly snakes have a rather ambibalent role in the believe of the snake cultists. On the one hand they were seen as children of Ohisa: in this role they are on the one hand messengers and agents of the god, who act according to his will (although he sleeps, his spirit can still communicate with the snakes) and work towards his awakening. That is the reason why snakes were ritually killed and skinned at one of the most important festivals of the snake cult. But since they act as messengers of the god, they also serve the believers to lengthen the sleep of the god. That is why snake charmings and ritual dances, which were supposed to lull Ohisa's spirit, were held at the second big festival of the cult.
On the other hand snakes are also useful animals, since humans - by making use of them - can partake of the powers of the god. Therefore people used their venom or their skin for fertility-promoting rituals. To have a snake in one's house was thought by many as a great luck, and many really held a house-snake, in order to cultivate this luck.
A sect of assassins, that stood in loose connection with the main cult, made use of the snakes for the production of various poisons which they used for their murders. This sect, known as Nathriya (Plural of the Laska word nathri), was mainly found in the Middle Empire (Meyamarga).

THE NORTHEASTERN GODS

East of the territory of the Senimarga, the settlement area of the tribe which gave the Fergiartuya their name since the second century a.M., people believed in a pantheon of different gods with each a regular "field of responsibilities". Probably this system had its origin in a natural religion (animism) with strong shamanistic echoes. Here people believed in gods like Ekona (goddess of horses), Dinna (goddess of the morning light) or
Belana (god of youths). As in other religions which sprang from deities of nature, so here also the concept of a family of gods developed. Trinya, the god of thunder, was seen as father of the gods in the East, who sired four other gods with his wife Velapara: the already named Belana, who was also  revered as god of youth, the  ruler of the sea Blsa (this form is, by the way, related to that of the seagod Valsa for the system of deities of Hakrivarg), thereafter Sgya, the goddess of beauty and Frya, the god of war. With his daughter Sgya Trnya by incest begot the god of death and the underworld, Vga. Apart from these six gods, people in the East believed in other gods, whose origin is mainly explained by liaisons among the gods or with humans. Thus, for example, the clubfooted god of poetry and wisdom, Lapus, whom Trnya sired with a human beauty in the Ahipassni, whereupon the son was cursed with the clubfoot by the jealous wife. Other gods like Dinna existed beside the pantheon, while for instance the goddess Ekona is supposed to have sprung from the coitus of the father of the gods with a mare (!).

In contrast to the empire's predeominating system of Hakrivarg, the religion in the East was not as thoroughly organised. Although there was a distinct priesthood, this was bound to the individual temples and no more than three priests belonged to  a temple. The succession was often organised through the family, so that individual temples could well perish or places of worship were displaced when nobody was present for the succession. On the other hand the role of the cult in this area was more personal, i.e. people sacrifised either personally at the house altar or  at holy places like springs etc. or one paid the priests to offer the sacrifice, be it an animal or similar. Belief was less abstract here and managed without an eschatological component. Noble families of the East often also cultivated the contact with both religious systems, with that of Hakrivarg as much as with that of the eastern religion. And although the Parsha later had his seat of government in the East, there was little contact between the two religions. Often the eastern belief-system dominated in the country, while the system of seven was prefered in the cities. Since the temples of the eastern religion were no such "institutional" threat as, for example, Kyrism, both systems got along well with each other, even if there were constant attempts at conversion in the country.

GODS OF THE MARIMARGA

The Fergiartan tribe, which settled down at the Strait of Ghormas, at first had a system of deities which resembled that of the eastern gods. The main god of this pantheon was Yna, like Trnya a god of natural forces.  His wife was the goddess Alena, who was responsible for fertility and the harvest. In contrast to the gods of the Fergiartu proper, the "family"-relations among the gods in this pantheon were by no means as pronounced. Yna and Alena had a son named Biolli (sometimes also called Biolni), a god of war like Biollna in the system of seven. In some areas of the Marimarga (and later also the Middle Empire, Meyamarga) Biolli was instead revered as brother of the goddess of love and beauty, Kavna.

In the course of the expansion of the dominion and the mixing with other tribes connected with it, the Fergiartan conquerors came into contact with a fire cult. This religion, called Hurka (as base form researchers mainly see a word "xurka" [xurka:], which was probably associated by the Fergiartuya with the root [her-] for "burn"), believed in an elemental conflict between light and darkness, with fire embodying the power of light and night that of darkness. Fire purified the people and held darkness at bay with its power. On the field of the cult, in particular the Prayte Blagni, the fire dancers, play an important role. These were cult communities which performed the religious act of the fire dance on  behalf of the other believers. The dance around the fire and the jump through the flames were seen as purifying. By  touching the fire dancers after the Praya Blagni the purifying power of the flames was passed on to the believers. To belong to the Prayte was not only a great honour, but also brought material merits with it, since the cult communities supported their members when they chose a profession or searched for houses. The nobles and the rich merchants provided the Prayte with great donations moreover, by which the members and their families profited. This system was already fully developed before the union of the Marimarga with the Fergiartan Empire, so that the communities of the fire dancers could also persist beside the imperial religion. And that although the followers of the Hurka were dragged into the conflict around Davnism. The Hurka-followers came through the davnistic religious wars rather unscathed, since the Loinna and the nobles of the Marimarga supported their cause.

By the contact with the indigenous religion, the god Yna became a kind of patron god of fire, more so since his attributes were comparable to that of the natural power of the fire. The sister pair Biolli/Kavna could also persist beside the Hurka, but found its followers more in the country, but in part also among the Fergiartan nobles.