Endless Blue – Week 21 – The Narrowing Moral Compass   7 comments

Theology

The Narrowing Moral Compass

Through eyes wide with innocence from their ignorance, primitive pisceans looked at the rolling oceans around them and were bewildered by complexity of it all; how the currents moved, how the waters darkened, how life interacted.  As their minds mulled over these secrets of existence, concepts began to fill in the unfathomable gaps of their knowledge with allegory and myth.  They attributed these ideas to beings greater than themselves, to deities that had originally created them and now guide them through the trails of life in Elqua’s seas.

Worshipping gods has been common place in the Known World since before the Kraken Empire, and believed even before the little understood Icht Dominion.  But now, theological belief has been fractured into uncountable sects, factions, and even disparate religions.  However, there is one core belief to all these varied theological systems that is shared in common:  Above the waves is damnation; below the depths is salvation.

That intrinsic idea is borne from both fact and fallacy, repeated over the generations, ingrained into the societies, perhaps has even become a racial memory locked away in the darkest pockets of the piscean mind.  There is evidence for some of it being true — there are aberrations above the surface that are utterly hostile to anything that breaks the wave into the Vastness, things that will hunt, kill, and consume an unwary mer that swims too close to the open sky.

Conversely, it is believed that the deeper you go, the closer to divinity you attain.  Perhaps this belief stemmed from some ancient piscean’s hallucinations while suffering from the Pull, a full sensory experience that was mistaken as the touch of god.  It could be from a more visceral fear, that the aberrations in the Vastness will descend down and tear the flesh of a departed loved-one’s mortal coil in a frenzy of ravenous slaking.  Even the most primitive civilizations seem to share in this one common practice, even if its true origin is lost to antiquity.

The Source

The most ancient of the theological systems, and viewed as the most primitive by the self-titled civilized races, is the belief in “the Source”.  The Source is the origin, the birth, a non-persona abstraction that created all, even the life-giving waters themselves.  It is symbolized by the egg, an image of fertility and potential, warm and bright, glowing with the energy of life.  The Source is believed to be at the core of the world, pulsating in time with its heart, breathing life into the lifeless waters that drown the land.  It is from Source worship that the tradition of consigning a lifeless body to the deep originates, with the intention of returning a wayward child to its birth womb.

Its practitioners are shamanistic at their core, communing with the Source through nature both animal and plant.  The myriad schools of fish, the expansive reefs of coral, even the very water itself whisper the wonders that are the meaning of life and the piscean place in it.  They communicate with the spirit world, with the Source as its heart, the waves as its breath, and the depths as the embrace of holiness.

Examples: The Narwhal Orcans of the Sahaguin Lagoons cling to most every aspect of their ancient barbarian heritage, even still believing in the Source as the beginning of all life. Signs, omens, and portents are important to them, and those that correspond with an individual’s guardian spirit animal having nearly epiphanistic transformative influence.

The Chelon revere a variation of the Source as a non-entity, and instead being the origin of the ley lines that criss-cross the globe at certain intervals, invariably where coral reefs are at their strongest.  It is as much a respect for nature and its complexity as it is with a belief in a higher power.

Pantheonists

Pantheonists believe in a collection of deities that oversee every aspect of life.  They tend to share a common well of cultural belief that forms the interactions of the gods.   Many times disparate but co-existing pantheons share some or all of the same gods, some times with different names, or genders, or importance in the group.

Examples: The primitive races of the Yaun-Teel, Locanth, Kouton, and Sahaguin are classic pantheonists, though each race’s take on the Eight can vary greatly.  Most vividly divergent is the Yaun-Teel envisionment, which taints each one of the deities with a primal sin:

Luxuria (extravagance, lust)
Gula (gluttony)
Avaritia (avarice, greed)
Acedia (sloth, despair)
Ira (wrath, vengeance)
Invidia (envy)
Superbia (pride, hubris).
Malvy (deceit, superstition)

The Sahaguin seem to be transforming into a monotheism due to persecution by the Church of Olyhydra, elevating their shark-god Sekolah to “Dominar”.  Some of the more isolated settlements of the Mer and Chelon pay the Pantheon respect along with Law Mistress Olyhydra.  The Kouton enfold Source worship into their mythology as their genesis myth while paying service to the Pantheons as the eight “First Ones”, who in turn have given birth to countless demigods.  Though they go by many names, the following are the most commonly included deities in Pantheonism on Elqua:

Ahto, Eadro, Icthara, Merrshaulk, Sashelas, Sekolah, Suminarae, and Trishna

Monotheists

Monotheism is a devotion to one supreme deity, and steadfastly holding that any other “god” is false.  These religions tend to be less tolerant of the other theologies, as a primary tenant is absolute omnipotence of their deity.  Basic logic tells you there can only be one ultimate force over all of creation,

The major monotheistic religion — indeed, the most dominant religion in the Known World — is the expanding worship of Olyhydra.  She is a stern, harsh mistress, demanding much of Her congregation.  Life is strife, life is toil, and She demands utter and unquestioning obedience in all her directives, the Law.

Examples: Mer are the primary followers of Olyhydra, followed by the disenfranchised Ceph, then a smattering of Chelon and Orcan.  A solid monotheistic movement is burgeoning in the Sahaguin Lagoons with strong undertones of intolerance to non-Olyhydrans.

Elsewhere Servitude

A dying religion that was at its most powerful during the Kraken Empire.  These ruthless despots worshipped a race of other beings from a realm elsewhere.  Elder gods, more primal than the Source, more alien than the Lumulus, antithetical to the nurturing waters of the Endless Blue.  If not for the seeming withdrawal from our world by these alien beings and the subsequent abandonment of the Kraken, the Occupation of the Known World may never have ended.

Perhaps an even more absolute form of servitude than that of Olyhydran worship, it requires devotion of one’s body and soul to the whims of these immoral, immortal entities that do not communicate with our paltry minds, and even if ears could comprehend their dystopian tongues we could never hope to glean the truth behind it.

Examples: Though unproven, the Ceph are frequently accused of serving elder gods, to the point of witch hunts which usually end the traditional method of punishment for heretics: drawn and quartering (or eighthing as is distastefully joked).

Atheists

Only a relatively recent movement away from the millennia of god worshipping, a rising number of individual have been spurning the old ways of servitude and praise toward a non-secular understanding of the world around them.  Branded as the “godless” (always lower-case ‘g’; capitalization is a sign of respect and credence) by the devout, these individuals have begun a scientific renaissance like never before seen on Elqua.  Perhaps the most famous of these godless is Seamus Lorwynn, the mer explorer and visionary who is credited with the creation of the new science evolution.  The godless are also proponents of exploring the Vastness, an agenda that puts them at odds with all other theological establishments on Elqua.

Examples: Technically, all Lumulus are atheists, though they do tend to put the scientific method on a pedestal.  Many Mer, spurned by or spurring the Church of Olyhydra, turn to the godless, and those Chelon unable to glimpse the wonders of xanthellae likewise choose this theology, many times out of isolation.

Ancestor Worship

Sometimes viewed as a compromise between theism and atheism, ancestor worshipers do not deify some non-corporeal omnipotence, but instead revere those that came before them, honoring and learning from their earlier lives.  They believe that their forefathers watch over their current trials, and will either send boons for the respectful or banes for the irreverent.  Believers in this form of theology can sometimes form strange  dysfunctional relationships with the departed ancestors, just as them might with living kin.

Examples: Orcans typify the ancestor worshipper, believing that venerating their departed relatives will bring good luck and fortune to them.  Many times they will call out to the dead in the heat of battle to guide their hand, especially when the outcome looks bleak and the relation in question added some vital aspect to the pod’s martial style.

“Water is the tears shed by the Source when it realized it was alone.  The flow of
the currents are the falling of those tears as they filled the world with life…”
— A particularly symbolic passage of Source oral tradition.

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