The Avadian religion is the faith practiced most prominently throughout the Beyan Archipelago and the Avadian Colonies. It is based around the worship of the Avadian Gods, a myriad of deities who control and influence various aspects of the world.
Unlike the faiths of the Kalriv or Helikans, the Avadian faith does not have a stipulated hierarchy or organisation to it. Priests usually operate independently of each other, and instead of authority figures are considered consultants and intermediaries.
Officially the Avadian priesthood serve as intermediaries between the divine world and mundane world. They usually carry out the following roles;
- to serve as an advocate for their deity and act in their interests in the mundane world.
- to serve as an intermediary between the mundane world and the divine world, communing with their deity on behalf of the people
- to serve as a consultant with the people, providing spiritual advice and counsel to those who may ask for it
As the Avadian priesthood is a decentralised faith, it doesn't have any solid assets per se. However some of the more commonly worshipped gods have public works and temples dedicated to them, and it's rare a priest can't call on material aid from society.
It is believed the Avadian faith began with shamen among the forerunners of the Avadians prior to their consolidation as a society. At some point in their history, these shamen found the voices of specific gods. When Avadian society began to crystallise in Isla Avadia, common ground was found among the various gods and beliefs of the people, and this in turn led to many Avadians believing in not just their specific tribal god, but all the gods of Avadians. As the Avadians entered the Bronze Age and spread their civilisation across the Beyan Archipelago, certain individuals specialised in discerning the mysteries of the gods, and were sought out by sailors and citizens to intercede with the deities on their behalf as well as advise them on the will of the gods.
The Avadian faith holds that their deities exist alongside the other pantheons of the world but have chosen the Avadian peoples to guide and adopt. The gods are believed to have always been present, and assisted the other pantheons in constructing the world and humanity at the beginning of time. They are believed to live in a divine realm separate from the mundane world, however can still influence the mundane world. Like the other faiths of the world, the Avadians believe that when a person dies they stand before the deity they have pledged to and account for their deeds and their spirit. If a person is not pledged to a particular deity, they must stand before all the deities of the world. If the person is deemed to have lived a good life and have left the world a better place than when they found it, they join the divine realm themselves and are reunited with all the dead there. If they caused pain and misery but tried to atone, they are given a chance to earn their redemption. If they are truly evil and have harmed others with no remorse, their soul is destroyed. Good followers of the Avadian gods usually find themselves among the Sea of Stars, an infinite ocean realm with endless islands to settle and live upon. In this realm, there is no pain and suffering, and all the usual perils of the world now become non-lethal games.
Ultimately interpretation of the values of a deity is usually considered a matter between a person and that deity - in the end, that person alone will need to answer to their deity. Priests are often sought out to interpret these values and provide advice and guidance to individuals, and serve more as consultants than arbiters of a deity's judgment. The love and companionship deities do not discriminate against sexual preference; in their view, a union between a woman and a woman is as valid and sacred as a union between a man and a woman or a man and a man. Priests echo this value, and homophobia is virtually nonexistent among the Avadian clergy. In matters of gender identity, the deities specialising in masculine and feminine aspects agree that a person may take on any gender identity they wish providing they are comfortable, happy and not coerced. The values of the Avadian gods vary among deities, but there are some constant values that remain the same across all deities. As spiritual beings of goodness, they universally condemn acts of hatred and cruelty. Harming the innocent is an easy way to be damned among the Avadian deities, and it is one way to incur the wrath of the priesthood. The priests of justice oriented deities have been known to hunt down such people and bring them to justice.
Among the common citizens of the Sovereignty, worship of the Avadian gods is usually a personal matter, with most citizens keeping a shrine to their patron deities to make offerings and pray to them. There is no requirement to attend a temple or ceremony. However, in certain situations the expertise and knowledge of the priesthood of a particular deity is often sought out. Among the priesthood, their methods of worship often depend on the deity in question, as many of the Avadian deities have their own preferences. Most priests are understood to have a personal relationship with their deity, interceding with them regularly through prayer and ritual, and it is these interactions that guides their worship. Often some measure of offering is included, usually something relevant to that deity such as an offering of fish or of fruit. Most Avadian deities require as part of their worship that priests advocate for the interests of their deity with the populace, and any particular values or attributes important to the deity should be exercised (for example, priests of Avadi are expected to spend a lot of time at sea).
While officially there is no requirement in the Avadian faith to follow a particular priest, and all may worship in their own way, some individuals choose to specialise in following the path of a specific deity and to understand and advance their interests on Celadia. These individuals form the priesthood. Priests are usually drawn from people who in their formative years demonstrate a particular aptitude for understanding and relating to a particular Avadian god. This usually manifests in being able to commune directly with the god. There is no official ritual or appointment to become a priest, although a deity usually acknowledges the role directly to their priest. The method in which a priest is distinguished from the rest of the faithful again depends on the priest and deity themselves. Some do choose to adopt particular vestments or symbols, however many do not and live among and like other citizens. The priests of the most popular deities may operate out of temples, but this is by no means a rule; priests of Avadi for example often operate aboard ships as part of a crew.
Granted Divine Powers
Avadian priests are not granted specific powers on behalf of their deities. However, they do have the ability to talk to and intercede with their deities directly on a level most citizens cannot. As the Avadian gods rarely intervene directly, this doesn't often manifest in specific changes, however they have been known to intervene on a subtle level, such as a particular stroke of luck occurring during a catastrophe.
Political Influence & Intrigue
The Avadian priesthood is quite apolitical and is not officially ingrained into Avadian society. As there is no official hierarchy, most of the usual squabbles and intrigues with organised religion are not present. With that said, Avadian priests are expected to advocate for their god and advance their interests, and this usually involves interacting with the Sovereignty's political system. This sometimes takes place in the form of a priest engaging in the Assembly, or otherwise mingling with influential voices in the Assembly. There can be some conflict between the interests of particular priests and their deities, for example a priest of Avadi and a priest of Ceretho may differ as to the allocation of maritime resources to fishing or military use. This is generally not taken to extreme lengths however, and reflects the almost familial friendly rivalry between deities.
Religious, Organised Religion