Aruhvianism - the dominant religion in the Arclands

Aruhvianism (Are-oo-vey-an-ism)

Dancare cover


  Aruhvianism is the dominant faith of the Arclands and much of Aestis, it has shaped the history of the continent since it first emerged in the earliest days of the city of Arc in approximately -2100kb. Aruhvians believe in the power and the primacy of the Keeper, and also believe that he is served by a Celestial host of Graces, and only through his efforts is humanity kept safe from the Legion of Damnation. In the sacred text of the Aruhvian faith, the Aruhviad, it is believed that the mighty Grace Levanto judges the spirits of the dead and those who are considered to be worthy are allowed to sit at the Keeper's feet before his mighty throne in the Celestial Realm. Those who have lived lives of greed, gluttony and idleness are sent to Damnation where they are tormented by mighty spirits of evil for all time. The Aruhvian faith is deeply prejudiced against the Fey, who, in the book are depicted as vile corruptions of the Keeper's wisdom. In The Book of Harmony, the first section of the Aruhviad, it reads:    
  In the beginning of the world there were two tribes of humans, both living in natural union with The Keeper. They first awoke from Mount Kaisa, a holy place in the lands of Ty'Zan. Kaisa was abundant and all the animal needs of humanity were provided, and so The Keeper instructed the Graces Y'Feyna, Y'Vena and Y'Tragan to teach humanity music and song, so that they could partake in the harmony of The Keeper, transforming the Mortal Realm into a paradise that could outshine Celestium.   Civilisation flourished under these first humans and Ty'Zan became the seat of Arundantul, a great civilisation of unparalleled cultural achievement with Y'Freyna and her devotees towering above all in the art of music. While composing with her harp Y'Freyna struck upon a melody that seemed to outshine every harmony of The Keeper. So seductive was the harmony that she seduced all those whose faith had grown lax, who had grown to see the beauty of the arts as a thing in itself and not an expression of the beauty of The Keeper.   All but a hundred followed her, and unable to reach a total consensus those seduced by Y'Frenya grew angry for the faith of that hundred would not falter. The spirits of Damnation, drawn by their wrath were able to exert power over the devotees of Y'Frenya, teaching them to harness their anger into inventing the art of war. Forging the first weapons Y'Frenya and her devotees slew the pious hundred who could not be swayed at an assembly atop Mt Kaisa enraging The Keeper.   The sky grew dark and night drew across Hermia for the first time. The blood of the hundred martyrs boiled into magma running into the mountain and turning it into an active volcano. Y'Freyna and their devotees fearful of The Keeper's wrath fled into the forests, where perverted by wrath they shed their human form taking on the characteristics of demons are were known from thereafter as The Fey, the Vannic word for which means accursed. As the rage of The Keeper boiled over Mt Kaisa erupted destroying Arundantul
  In the Aruhviad, the Firg are given far less attention, instead of being seen as a force of evil, the giant smiths are depicted as a people placed upon the earth to serve the whims of humanity and to work in the interests of the Vannic Empire, building its cities in order to honour the Keeper himself. There is nothing written about the Jaraki or the Chorale, neither of which are recognised by the Aruhviad as existing at all.  


  Hevera is the core doctrine of the Aruhvian faith, which states that that humans, who are mortal and flawed must achieve a state of orderliness and to escape their state of disorder. This is the way to guarantee eternal life and the embrace of the Keeper; Aruhvianism does not extoll the virtues of compassion, forgiveness or love, nor does it actively disparage them either. Any act of morality is judged by how effectively it supports the concept of order. It is not possible to convince the Keeper through prayer or meditation that one is living an ordered existence, instead one must submit to authority (spiritual or temporal) and make efforts to purge the world of disorder wherever it is found. Devout Aruhvians practice the Heverakaa, an ritual of bodily cleansing and precise ordering of temples, shrines and even homes to remove the scourge of disorder from wherever it might exist. Hevera tells Aruhvians that in order to earn the love of their god, that placing trust in him to order the universe perfectly is the greatest act of devotion. Aruhvian philosophers (many of whom were the antecedents of the Carathene brotherhood), believed that the Keeper's universe is a work of orderly perfection, and its study is an act of devotion to the creator god.    

The Arc Empire and the Aruhvian Faith

  Unlike Pheffism, which emerged as a challenge to the Arcish Empire, Aruhvianism was the faith that acted as a unifying philosophical language for Arc and its imperium. Therefore, the ideas of solidarity and egalitarianism which were part of the philosophical world view of the oppressed never featured in Aruhvianism. Instead, ideas that were central the needs of the empire (orderlyness, submission, deference), permiate the Aruhviad. Those that have now rejected Aruhvianism see it as a cold, dead faith, that operates in the interests of the powerful. Many of those who still worship the Keeper through the Aruhvian faith reject this claim, particularly the many thousands of Sybists, also known as barefoot priests who journey across Aestis. These impoverished preachers, so poor they lack even their own benefice (the lands owned by small temples), are the church's defence against the argument that it is a tool for accumulating wealth, indifferent to the cares of the poor. Cynics have suggested that the prevalence of the Sybists is designed to created exactly this feeling. It was during the age of the Arc empire that the three Archmandrites of Gol, Dancare and Arc canonised most of the saints of the Aruhvian faith. Their commitment to maintaining order often meant that far from being benign figures, the Aruhvian saints had a long a brutal history. In the Psalter of Divine Acts, the second book of the Aruhviad, the various cruelties of the saints are sanitised and their stories reinvented as tales of mercy and compassion (if only to appeal to ordinary people across Aestis).     After the Sundering, as the Aruhvian religion fragmented and descended into crisis, the authoritarian ideas set forth in the Aruhviad were rejected by societies that had existed at the periphery of the old Arc Empire (which had normally been subjected to the most violent forms of ordering). At the same time, an intensification of the desire for authority among some Aruhvians led to the rise in power of the Ashtarian state of Skaris.  

The Aruhviad

  The first and most important text of the Aruhvian faith is the Aruhviad, which has changed its appearance and content several times in the past two thousand years. The Aruhviad was the product of a number of philosophies that emerged in the Arclands between two and a half and three thousand years ago, during the final centuries of the Vannic Empire. The Vannic faith, Ulustreanism predates Aruhvianism (the name refers to a different and more warlike conception of the Keeper, the Ulustus, and to the special link the Van claimed to have with the Celestial Realm). Aspects of Ulustreanism appear in the Psalter of Divine Acts and Lamentations, but Aruhvians react strongly to the suggestion that their faith is a continuation of the Vannic religion.   The earliest Aruhvian scholars were Golan, and the first Aruhviad was written in Gol. The Golan Aruhviad is radically different to the later Arcish Aruhviad that is widely adopted as the dominant or recieved form of the book. There are few copies of the Golan Aruhviad still left in the Library of Harenis, and every few decades, Golan scholars will enscribe a new copy in order to prevent it from being lost to decay forever. Aruhvian Archmandrites rarely encourage this and many would prefer to see Golan Aruhviads decay into dust. It is a book that explores the divine connection of humans and the Keeper through asceticism and meditation. There are no mentions of the Archmandrites within its pages and no celebration of the wealth of Arc or the glories of the saints. In the chapter called Apostasies, the writer, thought to be Menarres of Gol actively criticises sainthood as a 'low fraud of Archmandrites and Priests to gul the unwary and to create idols of men'.   The Dancarian Aruhviad was the second iteration of the book to emerge in the year -1101, and is much of it makes up the final book of the Arcish Aruhviad, known as Lamentations. Lamentations is the least accessible of the books of the Aruhviad and this highlights Dancare's curious role in the Aruhvian faith. It was initially not recognised as a sacral site by the Archmindrite of Arc (see below for more on the Archmandrites). Instead, Dancare was originally built to satisfy the vanity of Emperors, and to provide them with a final resting place and a first stage in their journey to the afterlife. The Arcish Aruhvian Church was never consulted when it came to the construction of Dancare, and only later did the church relent and allow for Dancare to have its own Archmandrite. The Dancarian Aruhviad, of the Book of Dancare is, at first glance, a book of burial rites, rituals and esoteric knowledge on the fate of souls after death, but when it was incorporated into the Arcish Aruhviad, the book itself was declared a heresy. Rumours have abounded of a monstrous inversion of the Dnacarian Aruhviad, a book of necromantic lore known as the Black BOok of Dancare, of which several highly unstable copies abound.   The current iteration of the Aruhviad is the Arcish volume, known as the merchant's psalter. This is far from being a complimentary term and it was originally coined by Golans who looked on with dismay at how Aruhvianism had been captured by commercial interests after the fall of Arc's emperors and the establishment of the Protectorate. Much of the initial philosophy of piety and poverty in the service of the Keeper has been lost and the Psalter of Divine Acts and the Book of Harmonies now makes up much of the book. As a means of shaping public opinion in a city with low (but slowly rising) literacy, the Arcish Aruhviad is remarkably effective. The fact that the city is still the metropole of the Aruhvian faith gives Arc immense diplomatic and spiritual power it its dealings with other Arclands city states and the outer kingdoms. The gradual development of Skaris as a rival for Arc's position as the centre of spiritual authority in Aestis is still little more than an irritation to Arc's rulers, but gradually, Skarisi demands for greater recognition in spiritual matters is causing alarm across the territories of the church.    

The Books of the Aruhviad


The Book of Harmony

  The first book of thre Aruhviad is the Tygramanon, or 'Book of Harmony', which tells the story of the creation of Celestium, the Mortal Realm and Damnation. The book explains that the Keeper instructed his Graces to act as heralds to all of mankind and to ensure stability and order throughout the universe. In some older editions of the Aruhviad, there is mention of a Hidden Age that followed the first Age of Perfection, but the events of that period were discribed as being 'to be known unto the Keeper's mind alone'. High Aruhvians and also Ashtarian Aruhvians both refute that there was ever a hidden age and believe that the Book of Harmony shows that the Age of Perfection still continues. Many Aruhvians look upon the Book of Harmony as an incomplete document (though it is heresy to say so), and believe that some, if not all of it might be simply allegorical. A traditional of Low Aruhvianism (or Merchant's Aruhvianism, named after the social class that most often practices this) has developed in many towns and cities. It is based around a conscious rejection of the Book of Harmony and instead an embracing of the next book, the Psalter of Divine Acts, leading to a less divine understanding of Aruhvianism, and instead interpreting it as a more a day to day cultural and folklore tradition.  

The Psalter of Divine Acts

  In the Aruhvian Faith, four hundred and forty nine saints have been canonised since the founding of the religion by the three Archmandrites. It is expected that an Archmandrite will canonise at least one of the 'elect', a small group of favoured individuals, during their lifetime. The Psalter of Divine Acts records each saint and their exploits, the place of their burial and any relics that are associated with them (the Arclands and beyond are awash with forgeries and fake swords, goblets, cloaks and other items that saints are supposed to have owned). The book, also known as the Tymuril, is the most popular of the three books of the Aruhviad, and a network of story tellers, skalds, hermits and peddlers of relics, loosely known as the Tymurics, have committed the exploits of all four hundred and forty nine saints to memory. Older Tymurics will test the knowledge of newer members of the community, inscribing their wrist with an Tymuric goblet tattoo, to show that the cup of saintly knowledge is indeed full.  


  Lamentations is a book of rules for Aruhvians to follow. It is an explanation of what the orderly life looks like and the demands that the Keeper makes of his children. Lamentations is also the book dedicated to the Keeper's disappointment at his children, a disappointment based on the knowledge that no mortal can fulfill the divine father's longing for a perfected universe. The chaotic nature of people gives rise to the Keeper's lament, a song that began to be sung long before the Keeper created life on the Mortal Realm. Lamentations claims that there is a choir of twelve 'Graces of Sorrow' that sing at the Keeper's throne at Asavaa Tao in the Celestial Realm. Their gaze is fixated on the rest of creation, and they sing beautiful and agonising harmonies at their sorrow over the disunity of creation. Ashtarian Aruhvians draw most from Lamentations, using it as the basis of their own brutal interpretation of the faith.  

High Aruhvian Doctrine

  Following the Council of Gol, where Aruhvians came to the city that they viewed as heathen and debased, and at the gates of the city demanded the citizens open themselves to the faith of the Keeper, a second meeting to formalise Aruhvianism was held. At the Congress of Nyesus in -1995 (Nyesus is a small island of the coast of Gol), High Aruhvianism was created after a series of debates and compromises between the Archmandrites and the imperial throne of Arc. It was at this point that the Aruhvian Church became subsumed to the interests of the Arc Empire and the Archmandrites agreed that the church and the empire would exist to support one another. Arc's Emperors would make the Aruhvian church the official faith and ban the practice of other beliefs and superstitions, and the emperors would defend using military force any outpost of the faith. In return, official Aruhvian doctrine would be re-written in order to emphasise the virtue of obedience and order. Older Golan Aruhvian philosophies that spoke of the values of free will and individualism were removed from the Aruhviad, and, following a brief uprising by Golans, the new faith was brutally imposed on the city.   High Aruhvianism remained the state religion of the Arc Empire and many of the Arcish city states following the empire's collapse, but other than the city of Arc itself, it is now paid little more than lip service. The books of the Aruhviad in the High Aruhvian faith now do little more than emphasise the value of obedience and blind faith in the Keeper, they contain religious and ritual instruction and rules for the purging of the body and penitence for disorderly thought and deed. High Aruhvian law is contained in a second book the Dolvariad, which is an instruction to Aruhvian judges and chivalric orders such as the Hipostic Knights. The Dolvariad sets out Dolvaric law, a system that most Arclander societies are based upon (it is common in the cities of the Eastern shores of the Greater Arc Sea to hear of law officals, magistrates, bondsmen and bailiffs to be know and Dolvers or Dolvermen).  

Ashtarian Aruhvianism

Ashtarian Aruhvianism is the cultic variant of the Aruhvian faith practiced by the Skarisi, and derived from the teachings of the Skarisi prophet Elunre Ashtar. This branch of the faith is a far more authoritarian and violent iteration of Aruhvianism and relies on the idea that faith is a constant act of purging the flesh and the soul. Members of Ashtarian churches (which began in Skaris, but have begun to spread across the Arclands and even into the Mill Lands, where Ashtarians are known as Machenites) are governed by a social class of religious and spiritual elites known as the Ulmine, who impose bloody pentience and scarification on their congregations. For more on Skarisi Theology read this wider article.  

Post Sundering Aruhvianism

  The Aruhvian religion had been in a process of steady decline long before the Sundering, but it was the great and terrible cataclysm that occurred three centuries earlier which accelerated this process, so much so that the church (outside Skaris) faces the likelihood of collapse in the next decade or so. The authoritarian instincts of the church, which was closely associated with the Arc Empire and the rule of the Protectors after the fall of the imperium was deeply resented in the regions of the Arclands and the Outer Kingdoms controlled by Arc. When the Sundering occurred and the widespread suspicion that the Keeper had ceased to exist spread across the lands of Aestis, the narrative of Aruhvianism no longer made sense. Instead of a belief in the sanctity of order and the promise of life eternal for those who were able to be pious and self denying, the world descended into decades of chaos. There was little evidence that a god had endured, or that there was any order to speak of either. Priests, who had increasingly become figures of contempt and suspicion across the Arclands (the wealth of the Aruhvian Church meant that few took seriously the idea that they should embrace poverty as a way of accessing eternal life at the side of the Keeper), were treated with outright hostility and violence in the post Sundering years, with the year 13 (OTM) being known by the church as the Averyme (High Vannic for 'long night'). During this year, spontaneous outbreaks of mob violence against the church were used by cynical rulers across Aestis, frightened for their own survival, to channel public anger. Only the timely intervention of Dranian Armies, hired by the Archmandrites, crushed the popular risings against the churches and relieved besieged monasteries. After the Averyme, many monasteries and temples outside the protection of major cities became fortified, the Aruhvian monastery at Carathe being a particular example of this.

A Fire in the Heart of Knowing

  Our debut Arclands novel is available here. Read A Fire In the Heart of Knowing, a story of desperate power struggles and a battle for survival in the dark lands of Mordikhaan. 

The Doctrine of the Scales

For  a small number of the faithful, Aruhvianism is a prophetic religion, mediated through visions which exceed the understanding of those who experience them. Aruhvianism dispenses with the language of revelation common to the old cults of the Golan mysteries. Visions imparted by The Keeper do not reveal truths, the scales do not drop from the eyes of the prophets, rather they impart an incurable sickness, the affliction of an ordered eye, through which the whole world appears disordered and out of joint.    A prophet is a doomed creature in Aruhvianism, the abomination of a mortal with a divine eye., for one of the enduring ironies is that the prophets of Aruhvianism are not healthy and ordered beings, but diseased minds, whose perverse hybridity between the Mortal and Divine orders, forms a bridge between two irreconcilable worlds, a confluence of natures known in High Vannic as Psalsein. It is only through disordering of the Mortal by the Divine, that creation can be repaired.    The life of a prophet is a life in accordance with an affliction, an ontological deviancy, borne as an ascetic mission. The prophet, more than any Aruhvian the one who puts himself beyond the love of The Keeper, for the font and essence of all order cannot abide contradiction, and yet abides in the abomination that is the prophet through a Grace known as Y'Katabaas he who descends, or he who embraces debasement. The Descent of Y'Katabaas, enables the affliction of the prophet's ascent, so long as the prophet assumes the responsibility for the debasement of Y'Katabaas. Thus Aruhvian prophetic texts are known not as revelations but votives.    It is through this covenant of illnesses that the uniquely disordered vision of the prophet emerges. Accordingly, the most extensive collection of prophetic votives is known in the original Old Golan as the Kiri-Gessa or The Book of Damaged Sights. Each prophetic votive is preceded by a Calling in which the prophet is brought before the Hall of Levanto. One of the most contentious votives is that of the prophet Antonik, known as the Antral Votive, it describes the ordeal endured by Antonik to compel the descent of Katabaas:   ‘Antonik, a tapestry of wounds, cut past the flesh to the quick of the impulse, his body a bloodied mass of scarification. Beaded with the freshness of the act that produced them, his lacerations had not yet settled into scars. Though his scourge lay broken, shattered by the tenacity of his spirit more than the strength of his body, he slashed at the howling flesh with a razor, incanting the Votive of Votives   ‘ Keeper of order, Scourge of disorderings, Allow this wretch to rise beyond its sorry state’ ‘ Keeper of order, Scourge of disorderings, Allow this wretch to rise beyond its sorry state’ ‘ Keeper of order, Scourge of disorderings, Allow this wretch to rise beyond its sorry state’   On and on he chanted, through sun and rain and sleet and snow, through all that bore down on him, the storm of worldly things touched him not. For the Votive of Votives was his only disorder. An Emperor who moves whole peoples with the wave of his hand has no power to move his lowest appetites. What power has he who rules the world and not his flesh? Thus the scourge of Antonik proved the lowliness of Emperors. To break the flesh with blade or whip is to harrow the earth, for bone and cartilage line the country of the soul. Their seed is not of the Kingdom, and reaps only the mercy of steel.    Thus the blade of Antonik proved the lowliness of flesh. Through the labyrinth of cuts he held true to the threads of the Votive, that was his thought and impulse, his bread, water and wine, his joy and sorrow, birth and death. What part of him lay in the votive lies there forever. Like a shepherd it led his flock of flesh through the valley of pain. Thus the Votive of Antonik proved the lowliness of death. And so Antonik conquered all that is and was for Dominion over flesh is dominion over earth, and the earth reeling from the intensity of his mortifications opened beneath him revealing unto him the Realm of Katabaas.’   There is no definitive account of the descent of Antonik in the Kiri-Gessa, or other collections of votives, with conflicting accounts of the prophetic journey. One of the most popular accounts involves Kataabas, taking the form of a bull and allowing himself to be lead to the scales of The Grace of Judgement Levanto, after being bested to Antonik in a dialogue. Once at the scales Antonik is ordered by Levanto to slay the bull, with a knife carved from the horn of a previous incarnation of Katabaas, by cutting its throat, collecting the blood in a bowl made from a part of a scale from Jraamundehk a great Serpent slayed by Y’Vestan at the Gates of Damnation.    Then he must rip open its torso and remove all its organs, handing each in turn to Levanto to be placed upon his set of scales, the most delicate and sensitive instrument in the universe. Antonik must then mirror the wounds he inflicted on Katabaas on his own body, removing each and every organ, relinquishing every part of himself to Levanto, who places each organ in a canopic jar the size of a man. Death circles Antonik in a form taken from his memories, revealed only unto him, for the face of death appears in the memory of all who live, recognised only when life departs from them, and death, the servant of Levanto, leads them to the scales of his master for judgement.    Death examines every facet of his soul looking for a single movement that heeds the cries of the body, and so Antonik spent forty days and forty nights on the threshold of death praying. It is said that death was so moved by the piety of Antonik, that it joined him in prayer on the 36th day, replenishing his strength. On the 40th day Levanto took a tuning fork tapping it on each canopic jar in turn to produce a different note, shattering the jar and causing a spasm of pain to rip through Antonik, the organ, emerging fully grown into an avatar of Antonik from the remnants of the jar, anatomically identical to their progenitor save for a missing rib bone which has been broken off and sharpened into a knife. Antonik knowing what he must do beckoned them too him, allowing them to dismember him, placing his body parts and his organs into a boiling pot whereby the flesh is separated from the bones. After each part of his body has been weighed against the organs, bones and muscles of Katabaas, whose corpse remained impervious to rot and decay over the forty day period.    Katabaas’ organs, bones, muscles and skin are taken to a great furnace and reduced to a molten state, after which Antonik must undergo the same process. Once the molten mixture has been prepared large quantities of molten bronze is added and Katabaas is reconstituted as a bronze bull, in which a reconstituted Antonik burnt and scarified by the molten metal of Katabaas must endure a great fire, which is lit and tended beneath the bull, until the heat of the fire cracks the metal, releasing Antonik. The Canopic Children then leap into the fire, restoring and purifying the burnt and charred body of Antonik to a state of grace with the smoke from their immolation. A blemish was said to remain on Antonik, visible only to Levanto a mark purer than the purest atom, a mark that Levanto would save in spite of the impurity and wretchedness of the atoms it was inscribed on.
Religious, Organised Religion
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