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Wind Worship

Wind Worship is an expansive, organized religion on Gaizha, specifically in northern Reish. It's the official religion of Gishik, Shivish, and Uddat, and it's the majority religion of the nomadic Okrif and Chebknir people, as well as the majority religion of the Antom tribes in the south. Various Nonapi and Betlao minorities also exist in those territories that follow Wind Worship.

Structure

Wind Worship has several major sects, but all of them follow the same general structure. Each sect is ruled by a High Priest. The High Priest is elected by a council of high-ranking priests called Seers, and rules either for life or until the standing council motions to depose him. The High Priest appoints Seers and other positions within the sect's hierarchy, and also has the last say on all religious laws and interpretations of The Prikanon.   Under the High Priest are their Seers, who speak for the High Priest in foreign affairs as a sort of religious diplomat. They also regularly visit Archpriests to check up on them and make sure that they're doing their duty. Rarely, a Seer will oversee a trial. Depending on the sect, there are anywhere from five to twenty-five seers at any given time. Tilbe Wind Worship, the variety practiced by the Shiv, has the largest amount of seers currently, that being a council of twenty-three.   Archpriests are the rank under Seers. They essentially have a similar rank to the nobility within Wind Worship's hierarchy, and oversee local priests and conduct the most important religious festivals in their district. They often have religious authority over several towns and the priests within them.   Priests are the main body of Wind Worship. They run each town's temple building, and everything that comes along with it. They oversee trials, conduct festival services, lead the daily prayer, and baptize children. Priests also teach Acolytes the ways of the religion and how to best be priests themselves. Some priests have no ties to any specific territory and live as traveling priests. Many traveling priests act as missionaries to foreign cultures.   Finally, Acolytes are children and teenagers studying to become priests themselves. They tend to do most of the non-religious busywork in temples, cleaning them up after services and making everything look nice.

Public Agenda

Like most organized religions, Wind Worship's major goal is to spread. It believes that anyone that doesn't accept Wind Worship will be destined to remain in the physical world until they do so, unable to break the curse of the physical form and stuck within a cycle of reincarnation, so it wants to spread the faith to as many people as possible.

Assets

All sects of Wind Worship possess a far amount of wealth, usually due to being based in rich trading cities, such as Redeko or Shivatil. They also tend to have small paramilitary wings, such as Redekpi Wind Worship sponsoring the Redeko City Guard.   Redekpi Wind Worship specifically also has access to the Tempest Cells, magical items acting as prisons for powerful storm Elementals. Anyone who touches a Tempest Cell gains a powerful, but very specific, storm magic ability for as long as they're touching it. The Church of Wind Worship in Redeko has these artifacts kept in the hands of the Zephyr Callers, a cabal of assassins raised from infancy to obey the church and keep it safe.

History

Oh, sweet Gtopre! Please bring us salvation from the gods! We have nothing left to give but our souls and our love, and we have are weary...   -Cries of a Pre-Wind Worship Gish priest during the Elemental Period
The earliest versions of Wind Worship began in the early 200s BW, in the midst of one of the Gish's greatest times of peril. After a massive ritual gone wrong, powerful Elemental lords scoured Gishik, dividing it up between themselves, and taking the Gish as slaves to facilitate the expansion of their empire and devious magical experiments.   All across Gishik, the enslaved Gish began turning much of their worship away from their vast pantheon of gods, and started directing it at a formerly minor god - Gtopre, a god of the north wind and freedom who ferried the souls of the dead to the underworld. It should be noted that the Gish still believed in their other gods, Gtopre was simply elevated to a much higher status.   By 1 AW, many Gish had started solely giving their faith to Gtopre. This is regarded as the true birth of Wind Worship, although much of its liturgy, law, and specific beliefs were still rooted in pagan ideals. In 21 AW, after the Windspeaker's retaking of Rezhita, rumors began to spread about a powerful mage that was sent by Gtopre to save the Gish, and with each Elemental lord defeated, these rumors only grew in presence and elaboration.   By the time the Windspeaker returned to her home city of Redeko, people worshiped her as an avatar of Gtopre, and worship of other gods across Gishik began a steep decline. She readily accepted this role, whether she truly bought into the belief or not, and Wind Worship became the official religion of the Gish Empire.
The Gish have lost the right to speak of Gatopar! Their minds and their souls have been corrupted, and we must be the ones to forge our own truth!   -Asirash Tilbid during the Speech On the Rock, the founding speech of Tilbe Wind Worship. Circa 327 AW
For the rest of the life of the Gish Empire, and for a few decades after, the Church of Wind Worship based in Redeko still had the right to draft all religious laws and crown queens. This would not do for the recently liberated Shiv, who were tired with Gish influence in their politics, so an Archpriest by the name of Asirash Tilbad began speaking out against morally corrupt policy put in place by the Gish. More and more Shiv flocked to Asirash's religious teachings, and eventually the Shiv monarchy adopted these ideals, calling them "Tilbe Wind Worship"   The Gish considered this declaration a sign of heresy, but the Shiv were adopting Tilbe philosophy far too quickly for them to do anything about it, and the unity of Wind Worship broke into two main factions - Redekpi Wind Worship, followed by the Gish, Okrif, and some Shiv minorities, and the aforementioned Tilve Wind Worship, followed by the Shiv, Udda, and various minority groups in the west that were roughly under Shiv control.

Mythology & Lore

Wind Worship has a deep and expansive mythology, but its main myth is the creation of the world and the cycle of reincarnation described in the first chapters of the Prikanon. The myth goes as follows: before physical existence, there was a great maelstrom of pure life and ecstasy, all existing in a perfect united existence. Each soul within the maelstrom was unique, but they all came together to form something great and powerful, known as Gtopre. But one of the souls within Gtopre, known as Akagt, disliked his existence. He despised the chaos and the wonder and the sheer explosiveness of it all. So, one day, Akagt reached out beyond Gtopre's maelstrom, and touched a deep, evil presence.   The evil warped Akagt, turning his cloud-like body into coarse stone. Corrupted by this cold, evil force of control, Akagt began corrupting his fellow souls within Gtopre, and eventually, enough stone demons were formed to combat Gtopre. Gtopre fought and fought, but the demons were just too powerful to kill. So, Gtopre came up with another plan. They attacked the demons head on, and trapped them deep within a new construct - Gaizha itself. But the attack was not without its consequences, and most of the souls within Gtopre were half-corrupted by the stone demons, causing them to fall to earth and become the first humans and animals.   Now, all living things are stuck in a cycle of reincarnation, attempting to become closer to Gtopre with each life to break the cycle and return to the immortal ecstasy, or to be corrupted by the stone demons deep below.

Cosmological Views

Wind Worship believes the world to be a prison for the stone demons. That does not mean it is not beautiful to it as a creation of its god, but it is recognized to be inherently impure. In Wind Worship, the sun, moon, and stars are very important. Souls enter the physical world through the sun and leave the physical world through the moon. The stars are portals to Gtopre Themself, and all wind is pushed onto Gaizha through the stars. Wind and clouds are seen as the least potent form of Gtopre, but the only form that can materialize in the physical world.   The seasons play an important, mythological role in Wind Worship, representing a series of battles between Gtopre and the stone demons. In spring and summer, Gtopre is healing from Their wounds, and the world heals as well. In autumn, Gtopre is preparing to enter the physical world and begin fighting the stone demons, and the world starts to wilt as the demons gain more influence. In winter, Gtopre and the demons fight each other, and storms rage across the land. Then, the cycle continues for another year.   Wind Worship also says that the souls of people's departed ones can be spoken to when the Winds are close, and people often pray to their ancestors for guidance during specific holidays, such as the Festival of the Full Moon or the Battle of the Solstice, a holiday during the winter solstice where Gtopre is said to be closest to Gaizha.

Tenets of Faith

Wind Worship, at least in spirit, preaches individuality and personal freedom. Followers of the faith are asked to help others and raise them up, so that they might have the opportunity to become good worshipers as well. It also preaches that each follower can find their own personal way to worship, as long as their methods follow the rules laid out in the Prikanon in some fashion.   Due to freedom being one of its main tenets, most forms of Wind Worship outlaws slavery, believing that the souls of both slavers and their slaves are dangerously compromised and are teetering on the edge of total corruption. Tilbe Wind Worship has become... a bit less adamant on that front, and has tightened the definition of what counts as a "slave" in Shivish.

Worship

Unlike many other religions, prayer in Wind Worship is not often spoken. Rather, Wind Worship's theology sees action as the most valuable form of connection to Gtopre. In a ritual sense, this takes the form of ritual dances that are done at specific times and places to commune with Gtopre in different ways.   However, not all worship in Wind Worship is as active. Both Redekpi and Tilbe Wind Worship practice a form of ritual kite flying, and it's customary to leave out leftover food during a storm to feed Gtopre. Priests of Wind Worship also practice a form of divination by reading the shape and amount of clouds to foretell the coming day or days.   Some smaller, tribal sects, mainly Antom Wind Worship, do most of their worship through animal sacrifice, which is seen as heretical by Redekpi Wind Worship.

Political Influence & Intrigue

Although their political influence has waned since the Siege of the Churchlands in 340 AW, the Church of Wind Worship in Redeko still has a sizable presence in Gish politics, sponsoring and influencing many of the nobles in and around Redeko to do their bidding. In Shivish and Uddat, Tilbe Wind Worship plays an active role in politics, with the High Priest and several Seers having similar political power to the Shiv nobility. Much of Shivish's policy is heavily influenced by these religious officials. Most other Wind Worshiping communities are nomadic or "barbaric", and don't have very elaborate politics, and Nonapi Wind Worshipers are an actively oppressed minority group, often subject to massive military assaults sponsored by the Holy Empire of N.

Founding Date
21 AW
Type
Religious, Organised Religion
Alternative Names
The Church
Demonym
Wind Worshiper
Permeated Organizations
Deities
Related Ethnicities

Minority Sects

Several sects of Wind Worship go unmentioned in the main article, so here's a little snippet about each of them!  

Antom Wind Worship

While never fully conquered by the Gish Empire, most of the Antom were converted to their religion, and practice a form of Wind Worship. This form, however, includes many rituals and beliefs that are holdovers from the previous pagan religion of the Antom, mainly animal sacrifice and the belief in physical guardian spirits.  

Nonapi Wind Worship

After the conquering of parts of eastern Nonapi land, most of the conquered Nonapi were converted to Wind Worship. Nonapi that still practice Wind Worship possess mostly similar belief to Redekpi Wind Worship practiced by the Gish, but they differ in several interpretations of the Prikanon, especially in predictions of how the world will end. Redekpi Wind Worship believes that the world will end when all of humanity fully follows Wind Worship, but Nonapi Wind Worship believes that the Windspeaker will be reborn one day and save humanity herself.

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