By the Gods: Divinity in Tolara
The foundational faith and practice of the many Tolaran peoples
My dearest and most beloved friend, we are about to do something which is both incredibly foolish, and immensely dangerous... But by the dusk and dawn, Corellon himself has put us on the same path- and I am convinced that it was for a purpose. I only hope that there is enough time in our lives to complete this God given task.Tolara, simply put, is an immense melting pot... Not home to one single culture or species, but hundreds of them- all of whom coexist with only minimal barriers. Over the years of its settlement, the way Tolarans view the Divine has been influenced greatly by this diversity; their different faiths have blended together to create a singular, shared series of beliefs about the nature of the Divine. Today a Tolaran may find a number of religions who hold minor variations of them, but the core beliefs themselves remain largely unchanged- and are held by most settlers on the continent.
The Four Tennents of Tolaran FaithBelieving that the beginning of time was too long ago for anyone to truly know the reality of what happened, Tolarans care little to debate the hows, whys, and whens of Divine existence. They instead choose to look to the reality of the present... And the undeniable reality of the present is that several Deities exist- and they're tangible beings who walk freely among the various planes of existence.
The Tolaran Pantheon
With the tangibility of the Divine so ever present in the world, one would be hard pressed to find a Tolaran who didn't at least marginally believe in their existence. As a result, the Gods (and even religion itself) plays an integral role in the every day life of the Tolaran people regardless of culture or race. But where other places in the world are often harshly segregated in terms of who worships who... Little such segregation exists within Tolara. The interconnected nature of early life on the continent means that many Deities who were once worshiped by a handful of cultures now cross many cultural boundaries; distinct and separate Pantheons have long since been a relic of the past. Here, all are considered a part of the greater pantheon- and all are worshiped.
Veneration & WorshipPrayer and other active forms of worship aren't seen as wholly necessary. The Gods don't need sustenance to survive, or penance for poor deed. However, such acts are still considered important.
Do you know one who would do such a thing? One who would pray at this Chapel's altars; who would visit for health, restoration, and inspiration- and Meditate upon the Mysteries of the Gods in quiet contemplation? Indeed... The earnest believer may improve both sprit and mind within the Temple of a Thousand Faces- for truly, to walk within the Hall of Faces is to glimpse the very nature of the divine, wrought forth in architectural marvel.As the central place of worship on the continent, its doors are open to everyone. And indeed, people travel from all over Saleh'Alire to wander its halls, attend its services, and pray at its altars; even Imalda e'Yisonn herself patronized the Temple, and lived out the later half of her life there.
Religion & CultsAgreements as to the core tenets of faith within Tolara hasn't stopped the formation of various religious organizations. All Gods being recognized within Tolara, after all, doesn't necessarily mean that all Deities are worshiped equally; many individuals pray to whomever they think is the most relevant in any given situation, or at different times of the year. Others worship only a handful of select Gods out of the greater whole. And even more have a favorite or two to whom they pray most often, or even devote their lives to. As a result, various religions and cults can (and do) exist heavily here. These range from benign groups who promote the teachings of a one God as more important than those of others... To small Cults of dissenters who believe that some God or another is really a different God in disguise. Some (though they're incredibly rare) even believe that certain Gods never achieved Godhood at all.
Being a description of the lands and the customs of its inhabitants- and furthermore, a useful history of those places of interest by nature of their locations and the influence of their peoples... I must convey to you the sincerity with which they regard their Gods despite the abomination which has become their pantheon; a veritable melting pot of every Divinity beneath the moons, it is an affront to the pious. Nevertheless they believe, and they believe with the utmost fervor.But despite the high level of tolerance and inclusivity on the continent, the existence of these groups has occasionally led to strife among Tolarans; while arguably one of the most tame events by comparison, perhaps the most memorable was that of the Ilerian Migration. Between 5873 and 5880, disagreement between a subgroup of The Ferenian Ethnicity and the Solar Elves over the nature of one of their Gods led to catastrophic results within Eris'ka; the Solar Elves) persecution of this small faction culminated in violence, bloodshed, riots, and many lives lost- eventually a causing a cultural split a mass migration into Talaina'Vao. Similar events would later occur again within the newly formed Ilerian Culture decades later during an event known as The Red Schism- resulting in yet another cultural split and migration that gave rise to the Tameri and Enethi. Even today these four peoples (the Solar Elves, and the Ilerian, Enethian, and Tamerian ethnicities of the Human race) still retain a deep seated dislike of one another based on the religious grounds which caused the violence. By contrast, however, the original Ferenians maintain a vibrant relationship with all of them. Regardless of their differences, though, one belief stands strong among the people of Tolara: Various cultures and religions may emphasize some Gods more than others... But no Gods are truly ever false ones except those that did not ascend to The Weave.