S'rendarr and Messa

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S'rand'marr Worship

"By day and light of S'rendarr, we live and bask in his warmth, happy and content. By the warmth and light of Messa, we cease breath and fall to death. Only by the love and harmony of both the Twin Gods and Sibling Suns do we live happily, and die the same. By the Twin Gods and Sibling Suns, S'rendarr and Messa, the faithful ask for your blessing, and to please extend it to the non-faithful who do no wrong, and cast no sin." - The "First Prayer" of S'rand'marr Worship

The worship of the twin Adhomai suns, S'rendarr and Messa has a long-standing tradition among the Tajara people and has archaeologically been regarded, with the exclusion of other minor sects, as one of the oldest known religions, alongside the worship of Ma'ta'ke. The religion holds onto very traditional values, promoting collectivism, sharing, and helping those in need.

The two gods of the S'rand'marr religion.

Dichotomy of S'rand'marr

The idea of S'rendarr and Messa being the literal suns is only a recent creation of misunderstanding of human researchers, instead, the two gods are a universe-spanning concept with the holiest reflection of their visage being the twin Suns of Adhomai. Many have questioned what the meaning of the two suns going out would be, the priests have an answer, as it has been prophesied that no Tajara shall live on Adhomai by the time the suns go out.

S'rand'marr was encountered by human researchers shortly after their arrival, as it is one of the oldest and certainly the most prominent religions on the planet. It grounds itself in strong communal morals, which have arisen from the frigid and dangerous environments of Adhomai. Its most important virtues are selflessness, restraint, family, and community. In this way, Tajara adherent to the ways of the S’rand’marr can come off as closed off to outsiders, backward, and even authoritarian in their way of belief.

Hiding one's feelings, keeping private matters private, and acting with reservation are expected of every Tajara, young or old. This has created a very conservative view on social life, wherein the whole village is expected to take care of the young and educate them, with the women providing for shelter and warmth and the men food and labor.

But times change, and with the arrival of industrialization, modernization, urbanization, and war, the faith has changed too. Nowadays it is not viewed as boorish or shameful if a woman works, as there is no shame in labor. However, she is still expected to be the one taking care of her children at the end of the day. Likewise, while some liberalization has taken place, the idea of harboring relations with someone not of your own species, of the same gender, or behaving much too openly is still considered sinful. It is, however, important to note, that the faith has never historically encouraged or partaken in violent action against such sinful behavior, rather encouraging spiritual counseling or recuperation.

The official religious body is referred to as "Parivara" which roughly translated means "Family". This branch is further split into the female Sun Sisters and male Priests of S'rendarr. Their main role is to act as mediators and healers and to remain out of political matters. But with the frequent factionalism of Adhomai, this is an impossible task and the church often ends up violating this rule. They do try their best to remain neutral, however, and many times in the past the Parivara has called for a ceasefire so that diplomatic talks could be had. There is also a certain silent agitation about the Ma'ta'ke religion and S'rendarr's position within their pantheon.

The Parivara

Sana Sahira

Sana Sahira, a holy city on the tallest mountain of Adhomai, the name roughly translates to "The City of the Suns", this temple-fortress is the capital of the S'rand'marr faith. . Being located in the Southern mountains of Adhomai close to Nazira, Sana Sahira has remained in the hands of the Parivara without dispute ever since it was built and its modification and improvement have never stopped. The venerable age of this temple is well known and respected, however, that never prevented the various Fathers from improving or attempting to improve on the original construction. With the additions of towers, temples, or walls to shield from winds, bandits, or invading wannabee conquerors. It is said that all who attempt to take the fortress, will be dragged away by the specter of Messa herself.

As of now, the temple is attempting its greatest project, properly archiving the “great horde of scrolls”. This "horde of scrolls" are venerated and holy texts that were hidden within the temple, however, the issue is that no previous Father bothered with giving any outlines or guides on what classifies as a Holy Text, and thus everything from hymns, poems, holy interpretations to even simple and menial works of fiction, diaries and even some shopping lists have made it into these "holy texts". The current priesthood of the temple is almost fully occupied with the task of proper sorting and plenty of debates are often held over what is and isn't to be considered sanctions.

The temple of Sana Sahira is not the only church of S’rand’marr, many have been built all over Adhomai and even in outer space. They provide both a place of respite and prayer for weary travelers and a place to stay for priests that consider priesthood employment. Sun Sisters and Priests of S’rrendar live together in these temples, however, in separate dorms. If it comes to smaller temples, like chapels or in remote faraway villages, preference is given to Priests of S’rrendar, as they’re considered more vital by the majority of Tajara.

Children of the Parivara

Adoption is frequent with the sun's priests and has been a time-honored tradition. However, these orphanages lacked much support from Pre-Contact Kingdoms or the PRA. Their situation worsened in the Second Revolution. Many children were turned away during this time as orphanages filled and Priests were overwhelmed. Father K’rriran’s 2464 journey was done to accrue governmental support for these orphanages. Now they have full tax and material support from the NKA, full financial support in DPRA Civilian government territory, and some PRA financial support in exchange for the Ministry of Education holding oversight on them. Conditions are gradually improving and Priests are no longer forced to turn away children because of a lack of resources.

Seedlings – Youngest children who are either given to the church by their parents, taken as orphans or given as “bad seeds” to be re-educated. No gender differentiation or separation at this time.

Saplings/Mistlings – The rank for those raised in the church, students usually learning and studying how to reach priesthood. Both male(Saplings) and female(Mistlings), have to reach the age of 18 before becoming priests. Their education mirrors that of the Sun Daughters and Son’s of Dawn.

Acolytes of the Parivara

Sun Daughters - A Sun Daughter is the acolyte role of the Messa sisterhood. They can be outsiders of any age, as long as they pass a complex series of tests and interviews to see if they're qualified for the role. Their education is focused on theology, physical care, and mental care. In order to ascend to Sisterhood, two senior sisters must approve of their progress. Sun Daughters are allowed to leave the temple and preach in other areas, as long as they’re assigned to a local church that has agreed to keep an eye on them.

Sons of Dawn - A Son of Dawn is the acolyte role of the S'rendarr priesthood. They can be outsiders of any age, as long as they pass a complex series of tests and interviews to see if they're qualified for the role. Their education is focused on theology, oratory skills, and tradition. In order to ascend to Priesthood, two senior priests must approve of their progress. Sons of Dawn are allowed to leave the temple and preach in other areas, as long as they’re assigned to a local church that has agreed to keep an eye on them.

Clergy of the Parivara

Sun Sister – Their role is to heal, advise, and accompany those dying, helping them on their final voyages. They're a frequent sight in hospitals all across Adhomai and many physicians were raised as Mistlings or were Sun Daughters themselves. Mistlings become Sun Sister's upon being of age, however, outsiders must first become Sun Daughters. Due to the Vow of Whispers, they’re expected to take a secondary role in preaching, politics, and church finances.

Priests of S'rendarr – The main body of the faith, are tasked with preaching, the blessing of children, reading and copying of holy scriptures, and other priestly duties. They often have access to advanced education, meaning many of them are on the level of state-educated scientists, chemists, and philosophers. Saplings become Priest's of S'rendarr as they have been raised for such a task. Outsiders must first become a Son of Dawn.

Head's of the Parivara

S'rendarr’s Closest – Selected from Priests of S'rendarr by other S'rendarr's Closest. The application is based on reputation. A successful applicant will be given a region of Adhomai to administer, as well as a seat on the council. From then on he is responsible for all churches in that region, financially, morally, and in the actual physical upkeep of the buildings. Recently this system has been called into question, as the limited number of council members (44) means that churches outside of Adhomai do not have a legal administrator and are usually kept to the local priests. The applicant must be male, 44 years of age, and a Tajara born on Adhomai.

The Father – Currently Valyan K'rrirran. While usually leaving the administration to the S'rendarr's Closest, The Father holds ultimate power. At any time he can order, recall, or veto any statement made by any previous Father or member of the S'rendarr faith. This power is rarely exercised and the position of The Father has remained mostly an honorary one. Applicant must be at least 54 years old, and can only be selected from S'rendarr’s Closest.

The Mother – Currently Zuzana Il-Rranha. The Mother holds a secondary role to The Father, despite the duality of the religion. She holds no official power and remains mostly a figurehead. While in the past a Vow of Silence has been upheld, with her support it has been replaced with a new Vow of Whispers. Despite this, Zuzana opted to keep to the Vow of Silence to full effect until her death. The applicant must be at least 55 years old, and can only be selected from Sun Sisters.

Vow of Whispers

In the past, Sun Sisters used to swear a Vow of Silence. Forever forbidding themselves from speaking, with the exception of the Shi-rr’ata (Eclipse) holiday. This Vow had been in effect for hundreds of years, until the 18th of August, 2462 Central Galactic Time. After the Armistice of Shastar was signed, translators from the PRA were invited to the Sana Sahira in hopes of helping with certain translations. There, they had made a grand discovery, the sacred Vow of Silence was mistranslated in the past. With this knowledge, the newly elected Father Valyan K'rrirran, with The Mother's permission made an important announcement. The Vow of Silence is no longer a required vow and instead, it will be replaced with the Vow of Whispers.

Not as restrictive as the previous vow, the Vow of Whispers allows a Sun Sister to speak. However, her words must be heard only by the intended recipients, and only when it serves a purpose. If she wishes to preach, she can do so, but it should only be done if there is no Sun Priest present. If the sister chatters, spreads rumors, and babbles idly, it is to be reported to the nearest Sun Priest, who will administer her punishment. If no brother is present, she is to administer her own punishment. This vow is not literal, and the priestess can speak with normal intonation.

Answering a question, sharing a diagnosis, explaining holy teachings, and talking others through their issues are now all on the list of responsibilities. Some disagree with this decision, mostly the brotherhood. Some argue that this is infringing on the duties of the priests, while others say that it distracts the sister's from their maintaining and healing duties. Still, for the most part, it is a welcome change and while many sisters still choose to keep their Vow of Silence, many more welcome being able to heal the mind as well as the body.

S'rendarr

(The Golden One, Bringer of Seeds, Father of Daylight, All-father, Joy-Bringer)

S'rendarr is the deity of life, fertility, sunlight, youthful energy, and everything associated with the time of summer and daylight. He is considered the patron of pregnancy, youth, and farmers and so ends up being the more popular of the two siblings. However contrary to popular belief, S'rendarr is not associated with just the positive; fire, impatience, brashness, weeds, and natural drugs also belong in the domain of S'rendarr. In many ballads and hymns, he is described as overexcited and overzealous sometimes leading his more unrestrained followers into their opulence from which they are often rescued by Messa.

S'rendarr is the god Tajara call upon during their marriage rituals, with the birth of newborns, when giving praise or compliments to physical attributes; "He has S'rendarr's eyes", paying someone a compliment. "S'rendarr give you both long lives", a wish to the newlyweds. "S'rendarr did not spare on this one", being impressed with one’s skill.

The most common portrayal of S’rrendar is a simple golden sun, if color is not available a simple whited-out circle will suffice. Such symbols are often drawn on cribs, field markers, or directly on livestock to bring life or a bountiful harvest.

“Holy S'rendarr, bless this ravaged body!” - Post-battle prayer when one has sustained many wounds during their fight, 25th page, the third verse of The Brightest Sunlight Tome.

Kahara S'rendarr Mai (Walk of S'rendarr On Earth)

Often simply referred to as “Mai”, this national holiday is popular with Tajara of all cycles, young or old. On this day a Sage of S'rendarr is chosen (usually a mayor) in each city and blessed by the priest. He is given a jug and seed and tasked with putting at least one seed and one drop of water upon every doorstep. While the tradition is still followed accurately in rural areas, in the more urbanized centers of Adhomai this has taken a more liberal approach as instead men of all ages run into the streets, visiting door to door asking for Ruined Water(Alcohol) and Rotten Seeds(eggs) while singing carols. The woman of the house is tasked with providing such things, if the carol is sung well the carolers are rewarded, if their singing, however, is slanted and drunken they're instead doused in cold water and forced to return home.

Marriage

S'rendal'Mati (Live with S’rrendar)

One of the most joyous and important matters of the clergy is marriage, unlike the religion of Ma'ta'ke, the church of S'rendarr recognizes the importance of a wedding, and the preparations for such celebration can take days. The day of the wedding begins early in the morning with the preparation of seating and decoration of the local church or other equally important building, be it spiritually or administratively. Once those preparations are finished, usually two to three hours before noon, the food is brought in, consisting of rich meats and fruits, however, during the war it was usually substituted with rations. About an hour before the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom are woken up and dressed, the groom in a bright yellow and white wedding suit with a tall, frilly hat. While the bride takes on a much darker, fully encompassing dress but not restricted regarding the coloration. Nowadays, many Tajara opt for more humanized styles of clothing, such as suits and wedding dresses.

Precisely at noon the bride and groom meet at the altar, and a present priest recites the holy vows and with the wedding wrist wraps, one blue for the bride and one of gold for the groom ties their hands together. Afterward, a representative of the local government has the bride and groom sign into the marriage registry. From then on celebrations begin and many use wedding days to secure their own future brides and grooms. The bride and groom are required to stay tied together by these wrist wraps until the end of the celebrations. From then on the two wear their respective wrap, in order to signal that they’re taken. The PRA government does not officially support this ceremony and does not provide representatives, newlyweds must visit the local city hall or post office to sign the registry. It is illegal to be considered married without signing the government registry.

Cloth wrist wraps are not a requirement but it is required that the two items which are supposed to signify a bond must "connect" or be capable of intertwining together. Further one must be darker than the other one. Jewelry, silk, or even rope has been used in the past instead of wrist wraps.

Messa

(The Last Mother, The Sister, The White Goddess, Soldiers Wife, The Weeping One)

Messa, the somber, colder, and female goddess of Adhomai. Contrary to initial human belief, Messa is not an evil deity, she is, however, tasked with the difficult job of ushering the deceased into her realm, bringing both life and death into balance. She is the deity of inevitability, old age, and winter, but also of guidance, wisdom, protection, and patience. It is she who protects the souls of the dead and it is she who permits the end of suffering. In this way, she also represents peaceful resolutions and the inevitable end of conflicts.

Messa is the god Tajara call upon when they wish for a peaceful resolution, have met with someone unpleasant, or when describing a Tajara's mental attributes. “Messa guides him,” a wish of farewell. “Messa! Look what you did!” a curse offering a sense of reprieve. “He has Messa's patience,” a compliment.

Messa is usually depicted as a blue sun, if color is not available an empty circle will suffice. Her symbol isn’t representative of a blessing, but protection. It is drawn to chase out evil spirits, protect the souls of the deceased, and even during exorcisms.

Shi-rr’ata (Eclipse)

Due to the trajectory of Adhomai, there comes a time every year where Messa the blue sun completely eclipses S'rendarr the yellow sun. This results in the reduction of natural light and a complete change of the Adhomai color pallet. For most Tajara this means that they’ll partake in the ancient rituals of “Shi-rr’ata” or “The Eclipse” as it is translated to Tau Ceti basic. Preparations for these rituals usually take up the whole week. Candles, incense, the burial of all that is dead, purchase of talismans from the local Sun Sisters, and many other local rituals commence. Some Tajara seek the advice of ancestors during these times, others wish to make peace with the dead or those wronged and others still wish to simply live out this day in contemplation and prayer. This day is not somber for all, however, for example, the Sun Sisters celebrate during these times, seeing it as a sign of their goddess’s satisfaction. There is, however, a dark ritual carried out. A rumor has spread that if one dies during this holiday, they are guaranteed a passage to Messa’s forever, regardless of how sinful their life is. The Parivara has denied this, despite this, cases of the poor, hungry, sick or dying, being killed by their relatives appear from time to time. Many say the Sun’s Penitent has started this rumor, the group refuses to comment.

Virr Henhati (Last Ritual)

Upon death, a ritual to call Messa is to be performed as soon as possible. Usually, the closest relative or a member of the clergy would be expected to perform this ritual, but with the recent turbulent years, it is something a close friend or a physician can perform instead. The steps to follow are to make the body face the skies, reinforce their grip upon the last thing they held in their hands and close their eyes. Once rigor mortis sets in, the body is ready for burial, as it marks the soul leaving the body.

Burial

While Burial is regarded as much less important than the death ritual itself, it is nonetheless an important part of passing, as disrespect to the dead can cause reprisal and wrath. The proper way to pass, according to the S’rrand’marr, is to become one with the stars. The preferred method being incineration, however, in the cold climate of Adhomai, this is not always possible. Thus the more common methods were tree burials and elevated burials, wherein the deceased would be sealed inside a wooden coffin and raised among the branches or upon an elevated platform. There his body would be safe from scavengers and would eventually, with time, turn to bones, which would be later burned in a regular fire and their name would be etched inside their home by a relative to watch over them.

With urbanization, starvation, and warfare these burials became too lengthy and towns would quickly run out of space, and so families were encouraged to store bodies until enough accumulated to justify a mass burial bonfire. Many were outraged and a few peasant rebellions were launched, which were quickly suppressed. Family tombs became popular for those who could build them, those who couldn’t; would simply store their dead in their own homes, usually in the attic which wasn’t heated, or an adjacent shack. With the rise of industrialization, cremation became viable and even preferred and now makes up the majority of burials in Adhomai, with even smaller villages keeping a dedicated furnace for the dead. A few Tajara have taken it a step further and had their bodies launched straight into the suns, although this is considered distasteful by most, NT promotes this service.

Death

The nature of Messa’s forever has been disputed ever since the two gods existed. Some argue it is a quiet and peaceful place where one enjoys their final rest, others say it’s a great hall where Tajara dine at giant golden tables, Ma'ta'ke at the head, mead, and meat aplenty. Even more say that Messa’s forever is akin to the life Tajara lives today, however malleable to suit the wishes and needs of every Tajara. But all texts agree that it is a pleasant place, many alleging that the fact they do not know what greatness awaits them, means it is indescribable.

The power of Messa over the souls of the dead is indisputable, and while Tajara do believe in ghosts, spirits, and other such things, they are often understood as Messa giving someone a lesson or a chance to finish their earthly deeds before their final rest.

It is ascribed that Messa is relatively forgiving. Those who lived sinful lives will spend a hundred years on their journey for each sin not forgiven or repented for. Said journey is cold, lonely, and painful, ensuring that what is owed in repentance is paid in suffering. But for those who purposefully go off the path, those who betray, lie and mislead. Only one faith awaits, Raskara.

Raskara

(The Strange One, Whisperer, Black Mirror, Stranger, Door and Key, Maggot Fathermother)

Raskara is an anomaly, not only theologically and historically but also astrologically as the moon, representing Raskara, is older than Adhomai. This suggests it is an asteroid snatched by Adhomai’s gravity, rather than a piece of Adhomai that separated during its forming. Some historical sources disagree, saying the moon was no present until Tajara inhabited the surface, but this has been debunked by modern science and the Parivara itself.

Raskara is only described in a few scriptures and is always referred to as “it”, rather than “he” or “she” as is the case with the other gods. Likewise, it seems to be identical to its representation in the Ma’ta’ke pantheon, that a being of pure evil. In S’rrand’marr it represents everything unnatural or evil; debauchery, treachery, unrighteous war, denial. The worship of Raskara is forbidden by clergy, and while the law does not outright forbid it, worshippers are usually arrested on vague charges of public debauchery or political dishonesty. Despite this, there are a few who invoke its name for worship.

Using Raskara in an insult or a cuss word is on the level of an extremely inappropriate slur and should be avoided in all formal social situations.

Shi-rra Arr’Kahata (Darkest Eclipse)

There is a day every twelve years where Raskara eclipses both S'rendarr and Messa. These are considered very bad times. Tajara do not leave their homes, clergy spend their day praying and hoping for tomorrow, complete darkness envelops Adhomai even during the daytime. Likewise, all trade is halted, and a state-mandated holiday is ordered for all Tajara present on Adhomai. Life brought to the world on this day is not celebrated, as it is said that children born on this day have traded their souls for special powers, they are accredited with the ability to read minds, project curses, control others with a single glance and read the future. Many families choose to dispose of their newborns on this day, and while it is illegal, every governmental body on Adhomai, outside of the atheistically minded PRA, tends to turn a blind eye to this practice.

The Suns War of Harr'masir

Throughout the history of Adhomai, the Raskariim was always a secretive religion, living on the edges of society. However, ancient historical and religious texts indicate that during a certain period of Tajaran history the cult of Raskara had a large influence over the continent of Harr’masir.

Around the year 1600 CE, the empire of Azumah was affected by a succession crisis that resulted in a civil war between several factions; claimants to the throne, rebels, and separatists. Most of Harr’masir soon turned into a lawless hinterland, controlled by bandits and warring princes, which facilitated the resurgence and spread of the faith of the Moon. Many nobles and commoners formally adopted the Raskariim as their official faith, renouncing S’rendarr, Messa, and the deities of Ma’ta’ke. Temples and shrines dedicated to Raskara were built across the land of Harr’masir, and the society descended into debauchery and cruel religious rituals, including the return of ritual murder. It was a common practice for criminals and even armies to raid the colonies and other kingdoms such as the isle of Amohda.

The Parivara, distressed by the growth of the Raskariim, requested that the kingdoms and empires of Adhomai act against Harr’masir. An alliance between several monarchs and noble houses, led by the kingdom of Kaltir, organized a massive military campaign to invade the continent. The expedition landed on Baltor and marched to the interior of the country, defeating the drunken and splintered warring princes easily. Hunting down criminals and pirates, destroying temples, and killing countless warlocks and followers of Raskara.

It was a resounding victory that sent the Raskariim fleeing into obscurity. The cult was considered utterly defeated by the nobility at the time, with many believing that it would never rise again. Unfortunately, this attitude would prove to be a mistake as it allowed the cult to rise again hundreds of years later, now with a much friendlier and adaptive attitude to the modern Tajaran lifestyle and mindset. But where Raskara goes those capable of fighting it follow, and the renewed Kin of S'rendarr.

Kin of S'rendarr

The Kin of S'rendarr is a knightly order of the Parivara church, established during the long-ago Sun Wars. The order itself had fallen out of grace during the later years, its internal hierarchy completely subservient to the Parivara and without any ties to the aristocracy made the ruling classes displeased and suspicious after the Sun Wars had ended and the usual bickering between nobles resumed. Parivara, however, continued their recruiting, and eventually, the amount of armed peasantry in the Kin outnumbered the aristocratic knights, leading to the monarchs at the time to enforce strict taxations and tariffs upon the order militant. Members of the Kin, unable or unwilling to pay these taxations all eventually renounced the order, disbanding it.

The Discovery of humanity, wars, suffering, and corruption have all lifted the Raskariim out of the shadows with Tajara even publicly admitting to membership. With the Adhomai governments refusing to take this issue seriously, the Parivara was forced to once again call in the order militant. An act that has so far gone mostly unnoticed, as the number of recruits so far numbers in the low hundreds. These new investigators have taken to the streets, trying to find and weed out any possible cultists. Be it with the governments' help or without it. Shining armor replaced by a classy trenchcoat, sword with a revolver, and zeal with cunning, these new investigators have begun to trail all Raskariim activity. The investigators themselves have practically no authority, as they’re not recognized as official investigators by any of the governments, although many of them are employed in the police force. The New Kingdom once had heavy taxes levied on any member of the organization. These were removed shortly after Father K’rrirran’s private meeting with Queen Shumaila.

The investigators of this order usually identify each other with Rosettes depicting S'rendarr orange sun clutched in a gloved hand, and ritual shillelaghs they carry on their person at all times. The order accepts all Tajara above the age of 15 with the exception of the mentally or physically handicapped or those born while Raskara, the moon, was at its peak.