The Cult of the Eternal Star
The Cult of the Eternal Star is a religion that was founded in 2193 on the planet Poli Secundus in UNM space. It is based on an extinct religion belonging to the now dead alien civilisation that once called the Poli system home. The Poli civilisation were a roughly humanoid six limbed species, who achieved a level of intelligence at least on par with a standard human. Their culture achieved a complexity roughly on par with the human industrial revolution but unfortunately their planet was hit by a small asteroid which scattered radioactive debris over their primary fertile regions and over the course of the next two hundred years their civilisation collapsed. The last recorded Poli individual died in roughly 2000BC, however they kept extensive records on durable mediums until the very end and so much of their culture (or at least what they chose to record) survives to this day. One of the major cultural artefacts that was left was a thorough description of their main religion, which venerated an abnormally bright star in their sky as a kind of eternal watcher. Whilst records of earlier versions do exist, it is the later version which was resurrected by the humans who settled Poli Prime. It is however a cruel irony that the star in question went nova in roughly 500BC and modern adherents are encouraged to pick their own star based on their personal situation. The Cult of the Eternal star promotes a collectivised society in which all members contribute to the common success of the group over their own personal, individual goals. Worshipers are encouraged to form groups of thirty to sixty individuals, known as a clade. Many clades work and live together, and often this comes with an expectation that the clade will work towards self-sufficiency. This can also come in tandem with membership or support of various societies that promote historical ways of living. Whilst there are large number of casual or informal adherents to the religion, most serious adherents recognise the Poli Cultural Research Foundation as the authority on both ancient and modern scripture. There is no single religious leader, but the foundation does host scholars and religious experts and produce a large amount of material on or about the religion for its adherents. They also organise pilgrimages to Poli Secundus, which are dangerous due to the uninhabitable nature of the planet. Overall, cult does not recognise any specific class or caste of priests or holy men but instead requires that all adherents posses enough knowledge of the rites and rituals to be able to serve in the role a priest would for a clade. In addition to the sharing of the religious responsibilities and the responsibility for the spiritual health of a clade, members are bound by religious law to protect the physical health and safety of the clade with failure to do so being considered one of the worst crimes a clade can commit. The ancient religion’s requirement for communal punishment can test many modern societies tolerances, and even with modern adherents there are disagreements on how this dilemma should be approached with many preferring to discard entirely the concept of communal punishment. Some however point to the ancient religion’s use of communal punishment, up to and including calling for the execution of an entire clade in the direst of circumstances, as an important tool for keeping a wider society in check. These individuals and clades are on the fringes of even cult society, and their views are now widely held. However, many of the every day tenets of the religion such as a focus on collective responsibility, charity and self-improvement have helped the religion spread to nearby worlds and attract new adherents. Its connection with the ancient Poli civilisation, one of the most well preserved pre-spaceflight alien civilisations found to date, help keep public interest high and societal analysts predict that it could reach ten million adherents by the end of the decade.