Vagabonds of Lothilia
Religion in Lothilia
(For a list of important gods, see Gods of Lothilia )
Lothilia has been exposed to a number of religions over the centuries because of its vast size and varied people. Instead of starting a religious uprising among its newly conquered people, the Council of Temple Avatars decided to grant religious freedoms to all. While there isn’t true religious freedom in Lothilia, the Council made a list of sanctioned gods that are welcomed to be worshiped. While Lothilia is much more liberal in religious matters than most other nations, it isn’t completely free.
The Council created what Lothilians call the Celestial Hierarchy; Lothilia’s state religion. As new people enter the Empire, the heads of their religion can appeal to the Council of Temple Avatars to have their religion added to the Celestial Hierarchy. The Avatars will perform a series of tests on the new religion, such as asking about the ability to do miracles, the summoning of divine beings (rarely gods themselves, but usually servants of the gods) and other relevant practices. If the religion passes these tests, it is added to the Hierarchy and legally allowed to be worshiped.
Deities brought into the Celestial Hierarchy quickly find it to be a pleasant experience. Many temples welcome new deities, often building them spare rooms for sole use. Both deity and temple benefit from the new alliance. For deities, all worship is shared among the temple’s gods, regardless of to whom the prayers are actually given. For the temples, new people come to worship, bringing with them tithes and the purchasing of religious services.
As the years pass, countless people begin to blur the differences between all the religions. To the people, the temple that gives them blessings is the home to a god of agriculture, a god of water, a god of battle and a god of justice. Only those paying attention realize those gods are Human, Fey, Orc and Dwarven. Just before the civil war, when such things were still important enough to gain the Temple Avatars’ attention, the list of gods was over a 1,000.
Worship of the gods is done as part of one’s everyday routine. Just as someone might wish another a good morning, worship of the gods is done on such a regular basis that it is often done halfheartedly throughout the day. A nod towards a temple, a toast to the gods, touching a divine symbol on an archway as you pass and more are all considered worship within Lothilia. These acts are rooted in the minds of average citizens to the point that to not do them is seen as rude.
On the other side of the coin, the religiously devout can be found making sacrifices, donating time or money, or assisting in the building of a new temple. However, the Lothilian view too much religious fervor as something of a mental illness. Complete dedication to a particular god, becoming ascetic(self-denying) for a religious cause, or flogging oneself to cleanse a sin, are all considered foolish at best and a mental disease at worst.
At the same time, no religious belief is considered even more foolish. Many times in Vern’s long history, gods have descended from the Heavens to interact with mortals. On a few occasions, gods have even come to Lothilia. Angels and other divine beings are a frequent sight, if not on their own accord than by magical summonings. To many, claiming to be an atheist in Lothilia is like swimming in the ocean and claiming to not be wet.
The Celestial Hierarchy also created the Infernal Hierarchy. Originally this hierarchy was dedicated to any religion that the Temple Avatars did not approve for worship. These religions were found to either be too barbaric, false, or to be secretly occupied by a being of awesome power pretending to be a god. Religious officials began tracking the Infernal Hierarchy as an offshoot of the Celestial, however, and demonologists began to expand the list with cataloged demons and devils. This served as a list of deities who were not to be worshiped, and also a demon hunter’s tome of knowledge when identifying enemies.
Both the Celestial and Infernal Hierarchies are incredibly detailed. The Celestial Hierarchy lists every god, celestial servant, and divine being not regarded as a god but still within the domain of Heaven. It also lists the varying levels of gods, ranging from minor deities to the most powerful gods, such as the Kings of Heaven. The Infernal Heirarchy does the same, listing all manners of devils, demons and infernal beings, ranging in power from the lowest minions to the Warlords of the Infernal Hells.
An section contained within both Hierarchies is reserved for the Ascended and Descended. These are beings who were once mortal, but through acts in their lives became either divine or infernal beings after their death. This can be done in many ways; famous heroes or villains, enlightenment or through great effort. The Deva believe themselves near ascension into the Heavens, each life bringing them one step closer.A surprisingly large number of beings have gained this honor. About 10% of those listed in the Celestial Hierarchy were born mortal, with a few beings particularly high in the ranks. Equally, about 10% of the listed individuals in the Infernal Hierarchy were once mortal. However, the Infernal Hierarchy is many times larger than the Celestial, suggesting that man is more likely to become a demonic being.
Life after death
Listed within the Celestial and Infernal Hierarchies is a convoluted explanation of life after death. While the information concerning the gods can often be confusing by itself, the information about death is simply a mess.
The death of a mortal body releases the soul, which often departs to Shadowfell, the Plane of the Dead. This is believed to be the plane where all dead from the multiverse reside. They stay on this plane for a period of time before… well, that is where things get confusing. The time a soul stays in Shadowfell is not set in stone. Some spirits are ancient and remember past ages, while others barely enter Shadowfell, if at all. Of course, not all spirits go to Shadowfell. Various forms of ghosts haunt the world and trouble those still alive.
After the soul departs from Shadowfell, things become even more confusing. Most religions believe a soul might be taken to secret parts of the Heavens or the Infernal Hells where the soul receives its rewards of life. In some religions this is the end, and for others the spirit is reincarnated into a new body. There are some texts that suggest the soul is reincarnated without any kind of rewards or punishments. Instead the soul is given a position in life equal to their karma. Though few in number, some texts even suggest that souls enter a slumber that will last until the end of time, when the spirits of the dead will rise to bring about the end of creation.
The Deva, considered the most wise in such things, believe the soul is reincarnated after a short period. The Deva do not remember a time between their previous lives and the next, only their death and rebirth. Some mortals have reported seeing glimpses of the Heavens or the Infernal Hells when they were close to death.