"All Kalriv - Guardian, Solar, Shaper, Labourer - have a purpose that Venderus has designed for us all. Indeed, He has a purpose for all peoples of the world, and we must share His light with them, protect them, and lead them to Him."The Solar Faith is the state religion of the Kalriv Empire. It is a monotheistic tradition holding that there is one God - Venderus, God of the Sun. The faith makes up the backbone of Kalriv tradition and culture, and is the basis of the Empire’s caste system.
-believed to be the words of Mirkos, founder of the Solar Faith
The Faith is made up of a caste of priests known as In practice, the High Solar usually always delegates his or her authority to other Solars, who in turn may delegate authorities and duties to others. To this end, there is an unofficial hierarchical structure, usually consisting of the High Solar at the top, their chosen secretaries, aides and regional administrators beneath them, and regular Solar priests beneath them.of, in theory, equal rank who all serve under a who oversees the faithful, decides policy and carries out the most important rituals.
The Solar Faith is publicly described as an intermediary between the Kalriv people and Venderus, and their official duties are to represent the Sun God and ensure that Kalriv society operates in accordance with His wishes, as well as to mediate with Venderus on behalf of the people.
The Solar Faith is one of the wealthiest organisations in the Empire, second only to the military. The Faith owns vast stretches of land and public buildings throughout the city, along with almost all of the grain and treasure reserves in the Empire, which they are charged with distributing. They are also the only non-military organisation permitted to have their own private army, the ecclesiastical legions.
Mythology & Lore
The central mythology among the Solar Faith centres around the founding of Var Kalriv and the formation of Kalriv society. It is said that prior to Venderus’ revelation, the Kalriv were a loose Neolithic tribe in the Venderan Desert, following the shamanistic traditions most of the pre-Bronze Age world held to. Venderus is said to have appeared to the world through Mirkos, a farmer who had stumbled across an outcrop in the desert that was sacred to the god. He spoke directly to Mirkos from the Heavens, instructing him of his vision for the Kalriv as a great nation who would lead the world into the god’s light. He instructed Mirkos to lead the people to a great Mesa in the centre of the desert. Mirkos was met with dismissal by many of the Kalriv, but his friend Kalros, a leader and hunter, listened to him and convinced the tribal elders to journey there. Mirkos and Kalros then led the people to the Mesa, which was named ‘Var Kalriv’ - the exaltation of the Kalriv. When ascending the Mesa, Venderus revealed Himself by flaring the sun to twice its size in the sky, announcing Mirkos as the first Solar, his representative on Annyrion. Venderus Himself then told Mirkos of his design for the Kalriv tribe and for humanity, beginning with the construction of a great city atop the mesa. Mirkos then relayed the god’s designs for Kalriv society to the people, followed by the instruction that they were to lead the rest of Annyrion in achieving this. For his role in helping Mirkos, Kalros was anointed the first Basileus, a general and peacekeepers who would complement Mirkos in his role. In turn, Kalros promised to listen to Mirkos’ wisdom and work to bring his vision to come to pass.
Evidence of the worship of Venderus dates back to the original Kalriv settlements in the Neolithic at the very least, making it by far the oldest organised religion on Annyrion. Like many other faiths it appears to have evolved out of the original shamanist tradition that existed among the hunters and gatherers of early humanity, with the importance of the Sun increasing more and more until it was considered the sole source of divinity among the Kalriv.
The Faith holds that in the beginning there was only the sun, which was the first and most powerful being. The sun, taking the name Venderus, then createdand the world. The Heavens are said to surround Annyrion beyond the reach of the skies. Venderus dwells within the Heavens, observing the universe and radiating the light and heat that provides life to the world.
Tenets of Faith
The Faith holds that the Kalriv tribe are the chosen people of Venderus, and were called to protect the other peoples of Annyrion - and lead them along the path Venderus has laid out for mankind. This is ultimately the central tenet of the Solar Faith. On a more granular level, Venderus is believed to have designed a perfect society, which he passed through instruction to his prophet Mirkos. It is said that He envisioned a society divided into four castes, each dedicated to a specific role in society;
- The caste, descended from the original warrior and hunter elites of Var Kalriv, were to protect and lead the people, serving as warriors, peacekeepers and authority figures in Kalriv society.
- The Solar caste, descended from the original followers of the prophet Mirkos, were to divine and interpret the will of Venderus and guide the people, serving as priests, scholars and administrators.
- The Shaper caste, drawn from the artisans and artists of the Kalriv, were to create works of art, design architectural wonders, and shape the goods the other castes needed. To that end they serve as artists, musicians, engineers and craftsmen of all kinds.
- The Labourer caste, drawn from the peoples from around the original Kalriv villages and from unskilled labourers, were to provide the manpower and raw labour needed to keep the society operating. They serve as manual labourers, farmer and miners among other roles.
Each caste is expected to hold to certain values and codes of conduct in their day to day life; valour and bravery for Guardians, faith and wisdom for Solars, pride in one's work and diligence for Shapers, and loyalty and perseverance for Labourers. Behaviour unbecoming of these values is punished severely. Behaving in an honourable way is considered one of the highest virtues a Kalriv can exhibit. The martial Guardians are considered the pinnacle of this, and many in the class see their honour as the most important thing in their lives, but all other castes are also expected to behave in a way that honours their role as laid out by Venderus. Behaving in a dishonourable way is seen not only as a personal disgrace but as a direct insult to Venderus Himself, and is dealt with severely. Guardians, and especially soldiers of that caste, are shown a deference and veneration bordering on demigodhood. The act of military service is considered a pious act, the ultimate expression of Venderus’ mandate to protect and lead the rest of Annyrion. Questioning or disputing a warrior’s commands or conduct is a grievous sin and only a Solar could dare do so without repercussions. Rebellion and rejection of authority is considered a grievous sin among the Kalriv and their conquered peoples. As they believe the authority and hierarchy of their society is divinely inspired, any act contradicting or challenging this is considered blasphemy.
Acts of worship towards Venderus are carried out according to strict instructions said to be passed down from Mirkos to the Solar priesthood. They are divided into two kinds of worship - personal worship, which can be performed by a single person, and advocative worship, in which a trained and anointed priest from the Solar caste carries out an act of worship on behalf of a person or community. These categories are strictly followed, and a non-Solar performing advocative worship is considered sacrilege. Personal worship among the Kalriv usually consists of simple spoken prayers towards Venderus. These can be carried out at any time during the day, which is believed to be the best time to intercede with the god. These prayers are expected to be simple requests to be guided by Venderus' light or for Him to watch over loved ones. More specific prayers are discouraged when it comes to the common population, with such requests better made by advocation from a Solar. Communal worship includes acts such as festivals, weddings, funerals, First Dawns and Oaths to Venderus, which are presided over by a Solar for the subject of the ritual or act of worship. These also include advocations, a prayer that Solars perform on behalf of a person usually as part of an atonement or confession. Solars also hold prayer assemblies on a frequent basis that may be attended by all people of a particular caste. Another hallmark of Venderan worship carried out by the Solars include sacrifices of both livestock and grains. These sacrifices are provided by the people to the Solar priesthood, who bless, anoint and burn the offerings on behalf of a person upon a stone altar in a shrine, temple or ziggurat.
The priesthood of the Faith is drawn from the Var Kalriv. Anybody of Solar lineage may serve as a priest, and they are educated towards this end from a young age. Youths of the caste begin as disciples under a particular Solar, who sees to their education and training, and then undergo their Oath to Venderus when they turn eighteen. As part of this ritual, they are interviewed by a panel of Solars who test their understanding of the laws, philosophy and historical events that constitute the Faith. They then carry out their first sacrifice to Venderus, at which point they are considered fully fledged Solars. Solars are distinguished from the faithful through their dress- only Solars may wear silver or gold-coloured clothing, and usually use these colours in their day to day dress. They wear the normal peplos or tunic most Kalriv wear, however these are made from a satin-like material that shimmers and catches the light. They also wear loose, coat-like robes over their usual clothes. Solars usually carry an item of office. These vary depending on the Solar, their family and their school of thought, with common symbols being bronze winged staffs, orbs, amulets styles in the shape of a sunburst, and others.caste, most of whom track their lineage back to the first priests who were led by the prophet Mirkos during the founding of
A typical Solar priest
Granted Divine Powers
The range of divine power granted to Solars is varied; while most Solars either have no or very little ability to call upon divine intervention from Venderus, some Solars are said to be favoured by Him and are granted a small fraction of His divine power. This usually manifests by being able to call on the light of the sun to heal wounds and sickness to various degrees, although some Solars throughout history have been said to be able to ‘weave light’ to carry out other feats such as creating an item out of hard light or to light the way in darkness.
Political Influence & Intrigue
The Solar priesthood caste sits beside the martial/noble Guardian caste at the top tier of Kalriv society, and the There is also frequent intrigue between some of the more ambitious Solars, who seek to have greater influence over the direction of the Faith, and the prestige and power that comes with this. This often sees factions, alliances and rivalries form within the Faith with the aim of winning the favour of the High Solar - or indeed to succeed them.is considered the second most powerful person in the Empire, second only to the himself. As a result, there is both a sense of co-operation and contention between the two 'top-tier' castes, with them often jockeying for influence and input on the direction of the Empire.
Aside from the mainstream faith, there are two prominent sects of the Solar Faith- True Venderans and the War Cult. True Venderans are an unsanctioned faith prominent among slaves and conquered peoples in the Kalriv Empire. True Venderans still believe in Venderus as the one true god of the Sun, but dispute the Kalriv-centric hierarchy of the faith. This ranges from believing the Kalriv caste system is a perversion of Venderus' will, to believing the Kalriv's role in the world was not to rule over others but to defend them, to outright rejecting the concept of Venderus selecting the Kalriv as his chosen people. True Venderans are not tolerated by the mainstream faith, and those who practice the faith must do so in secret or face reprisal from Solars or Guardians. Conversely, the War Cult is an amplification of the Solar Faith prominent among some of the more martially-minded Guardians and Solars, which has risen in the recent centuries of Kalriv conquest. It holds that not only did Venderus choose the Kalriv people to reign over the world, but that great conquerors and warriors can ascend to divinity through their accolades, and the acts of warriors are divine and sacrosanct. Unsurprisingly the War Cult takes the militarism of the Kalriv to a new level, with even the act of questioning the actions of the military or a Basileus considered a grievous blasphemy, let alone disobeying or not showing appropriate respect. The Solars frown upon the Cult, but due to its acceptance among some of the most powerful Kalriv they cannot suppress it, compounded by the fact some of the Solar class have begun to embrace the concept openly.