Pantheon of the North
Focused out of the independent city of Heilagur in the north of Turoza, the Pantheon of the North is a cross-kingdom faith that is focused on the worship of the god Njördr along with seven more minor gods and goddesses, each of which has been given power and authority over certain aspects of life and in certain areas by Njördr himself. These deities that sit beneath Njördr do not always get on, and they will often meddle in one another’s business, which can lead to follows of the Pantheon’s different gods and goddesses clashing with one another. Njördr, however, keeps the minor deities in check, and stops them from being too malign or destructive towards one another. For those that live in the north of the continent of Turoza, the overriding religious influence is that of the Pantheon of the North and the majority of the peoples living in the Kingdom of Kjörnsholm, the Kingdom of Dazscor and Aramore, and the Mountain Principalities will be culturally affected by the Pantheon’s doctrine, even if they are not particularly devoted adherents of the faith. There is also a particularly large community of adherents to the Pantheon of the North in the Union of Mishtoon, though because of the nature of the Clan system in the Union, there is no officially recognised and promoted state religion and the High King is meant to be completely impartial in public.
The Divine structure of the Pantheon is headed up by Njördr who is the ultimate divine and temporal source of authority for the other deities in the Pantheon and their followers in Ulskandar. The rest of the gods and goddesses below him are not structured in any particular way, and they fall in and out of favour with Njördr as the centuries pass by. On the Material Plane, the Pantheon’s main earthly representative is the Grand Lector, who is given a direct conduit to Njördr and the rest of the deities in the Pantheon, and is responsible for driving their agenda forward in Ulskandar and expanding the flock of the faithful. Below the Grand Lector are seven High Lectors, each of whom is given responsibility for communing directly with and promoting the seven lesser deities of the Pantheon who sit below Njördr. High Lectors are selected by a collective of Lectors who serve the deity in question whose High Lector position is vacant. The candidate chosen by the Lectors will then have to stand up to the judgement of their deity who will assess if they are worthy of the position. The Grand Lector is not chosen by the Pantheon’s representatives on the Material Plane, but is instead directly chosen by Njördr. Most often, Njördr will choose one of his own Lectors to take up this position, but this is not always the case. Below the Grand Lector and the High Lectors are a multitude of Lectors who are the rank and file clergy of the faith. Lectors will tend to focus their service on one of the eight active deities in Pantheon, though there are some that act on behalf of more than one. At the bottom of the liturgical pile are the almost innumerable Acolytes who undertake the most menial of tasks befitting of a Lector, and who are undergoing years of training in order to be confirmed as a Lector proper. Supporting all of this activity is a cadre of officials and administrators who support the earthly activities of the pantheon, ranging from the maintenance of temples, to the plethora of civil servants based out of the holy city of Heilagur, along with the Pantheon’s military and espionage forces.
The Pantheon of the North has a significant base of assets of which to carry out their activities. All of the temples dedicated to one of the Pantheon’s gods or goddesses, everything that is inside them and the land on which they stand are considered to be the property of the Pantheon, regardless of whose land they actually in. The clergy and administrators who work in them are also considered to be subjects of the Pantheon, not the country that they reside, work or proselytise in. In addition, the Pantheon of the North exists as its own independent city-state, centred on the holy city of Heilagur, which is entirely owned and run by the Pantheon and is the location of the Grand Lector’s court and all of the central administration needed to maximise the promotion and sustaining of the faith. The pantheon is said to have an enormous treasury at Heilagur, from which they pay all of their clergy and other staff and operatives, which is continuously being topped up by gifts, both large and small that are made by the faithful from across the nations of Turoza’s north.
The Pantheon of the North maintains a standing force of professional soldiers, The Anointed who act to protect the heart of the faith, the city of Heilagur, and who also act as an extra-judicial expeditionary force to strike at those whom the Grand Lector deems to be a dangerous influence, or openly heretical to the faith. In addition, the Pantheon maintain a large force of agents, and it has been speculated, assassins, that are used to provide intelligence on the activities of other faiths and nations in Turoza, that might be of interest to the Pantheon’s temporal leaders.
The faith that has grown into the combined worship of the deities that make up the Pantheon of North is thought to have come about when the tribes that eventually came to settle in the areas of Kjörnsholm, Dazscor and Aramore and Reinhart mixed more freely with one another in the north of Turoza, and brought their individual beliefs and knowledge of their own gods and goddesses into contact with one another. In a bid to protect their own interest, the deities on the Celestial Plane, led by the god Njördr decided to work together in a way that would pool all of their worshippers together, and allow all of them to become more powerful. This decision was driven by the interaction of the faiths to the south, which was seeing conflict arising between deities and their followers who had refused to compromise or work collaboratively, and had instead been driven into wars that had left the gods and goddesses with a fraction of their former power, and a much depleted base of worshippers. With Njördr at the helm, the nine original deities that made up the Pantheon were able to create a combined religion, which although it did not lead to the temporal binding of their followers, who eventually separated into three different nations, did at least bind them spiritually and preserved each of the Pantheon’s gods and goddesses and allowed them to thrive. In the present day, the Pantheon still holds strong, despite a revolt from the ninth deity, Yggdrasil, whose treachery was brutally put down by Njördr and the other deities in the Pantheon.
Tenets of Faith
There is no single doctrine to which the devotees of the Pantheon subscribe, primarily because Njördr and the rest of the deities have their own doctrines to which they expect their followers to adhere. As a faith as a whole, respect for the will of Njördr, as the divine head of the Pantheon, and the Grand Lector his earthly representative are pushed to the fore. In reality, as long as the minor deities and the faithful that follow them are obedient to the command of Njördr, and do not fall out of favour with him, or the Grand Lector then people are free to follow the credos pushed by their patron deity.
Most of the worship activities that take place around the Pantheon of the North’s deities are focused on the leaving of offerings at the temples of the gods and goddesses in order to give thanks for something that has happened in the life of the supplicant, or those known to them, or to ask for a boon to be granted by the deity in question. Because each of the Pantheon’s deities has oversight of different aspects of mortal life and worldly activity, people will often go to the temples of different gods and goddesses to ask or give thanks for different things, to the temple of Freyd for example to give thanks for the safe birth of a child, and to Skaddi to prey for good weather before a journey. Within the temples, these offerings are taken by the Lectors and purified of the contamination left upon them by the Material Plane, in a series of elaborate and secret rituals conducted in the Primordial language, to make them fit for the consumption and enjoyment of the deity themselves. Only those who have been accepted as Lectors or Acolytes of one of the Pantheon’s deities is able to see these rituals, and only Lectors are taught the specific ways that these rituals are conducted in their entirety. Beyond this, each deity in the Pantheon has at least one feast day, which sees communities across the north of Turoza come together to celebrate aspects connected to deity. These feasts will often see large, lavish, state sponsored offerings being made on behalf of the whole community and nation, ostensibly for the benefit of all.
Those who wish to become a Lector (priest) dedicated to the service of one of the Pantheon’s deities must undergo rigorous liturgical training, which encompasses study of sacred texts, objects and dictates that have been passed down from their chosen deity, alongside a meticulous study of the rituals that are carried out by the Lectors for and in honour of their deity. In general, a prospective Lector will enter the service of a temple dedicated to their deity of choice to begin their training, rather than choosing which deity to serve later down the line. When the Lectors presiding over their training believe them to be ready, an Acolyte will be taken to a remote place associated with their deity and undergo an arduous, and often excruciating ordeal, where they themselves are offered up to the god or goddess in question to be accepted by them as one of their representatives. Those that are accepted are then invested as Lectors, those that fail will return to normal society if they are lucky, or be killed by the ordeal if they are unlucky.
Political Influence & Intrigue
Even though the nations of Turoza will attempt to conduct diplomacy on their own secular terms, for the peoples of Kjörnsholm, The Joint Kingdom and the Mountain Principalities, their adherence to the Pantheon of the North is one of the main drivers in the way that they perceive the rest of Turoza and Ulskandar. The Grand Lector of the Pantheon wields a significant amount of influence in the courts of the Kjörnsjo and Karpella, and any Lectorial decrees that are passed to one of the Mountain Principalities’ micro nations is treated with the utmost respect and deference. Indeed, it has long been suggested that the primary reason that no one has been able to ascend to the throne of the Old Kingdom of Reinhart for the last century and a half is that the Grand Lector has not passed their blessing onto any one candidate. In several instances, representatives have been sent out by the Grand Lector to help bring warring factions in the Mountain Principalities to a state of ceasefire and broker peace treaties. Perhaps the greatest pull that the Pantheon of the North has over the three peoples is that the monarchs of Kjörnsholm, Dazscor and Aramore and Reinhart are all crowned by the Grand Lector, who is viewed as an impartial adjudicator appointed by the Gods themselves. Prior to a coronation in the Kingdoms of Kjörnsholm, Dazscor and Aramore and traditionally in Reinhart, the potential monarch would make a pilgrimage to Heilagur and stand before the Grand Lector to state their case to the Gods as to why they should be crowned, with the end result ideally being the bestowing of the Grand Lector’s blessing upon the would-be monarch, and their accompaniment of them back to their capital to carry out the coronation. In essence, this makes the Grand Lector the monarch maker for the two largest powerhouses in Turoza’s north, and the chaos that is the Mountain Principalities. Even though it is very rare for a Grand Lector to outright refuse to crown a monarch, though it has happened in the past, they can cast a severe air of ill-omen on a monarch’s reign, by delaying the bestowal of their blessing and the coronation, normally until they have secured either action or a promise of action to ‘enhance the spread and blossoming of the faith’ from the monarch in waiting. Hastel I, current King of Dazscor & Aramore was left waiting for two months in the court of the Grand Lector before his coronation, until he agreed to commit Aramorian forces to fight against a group that had been declared heretical in the southern Felsspitze Mountains. To go against tradition and snub the Grand Lector and Pantheon of the North’s role in coronation tradition would be a major religious and political coup, that would doubtless throw the north of Turoza into a bitter and prolonged conflict. More widely in Turoza, the Pantheon of the North utilises its resources in an attempt to proselytise its faith, and to influence the politics of nations to the south that might become a threat, or hindrance to the Pantheon in the future. The Union of Mishtoon is a particular field of religious rivalry, as each of the different Clans are being courted either by clergy and agents of the Pantheon of the North, or those of Walannism who come from the south of the continent. The Pantheon of the North maintain a vast network of agents, the extent of which is only known to the Grand Lector’s spy masters who collect huge amounts of intelligence that is then fed back to the Grand lector’s Palace. This information is not only used to help support the religions adherent nations, but can also be used to goad them into action against a perceived threat to the faith. The Pantheon does maintain a military force, which is used as both a defence force for the holy city of Heilagur, but also as an expeditionary force to strike at immediate threats, but the Grand Lector can always be confident that he can summon troops from the faithful kingdoms to fight for a holy cause.
The main sect that is linked to the Pantheon of the North is the Cult of Yggdrasil, which was declared to be heretical by the then Grand Lector in 210S.E. The link between Yggdrasil, Njördr and the other deities in the Pantheon is not entirely known, even to the Grand and High Lectors, but shortly after the creation of the Kingdom of Kjörnsholm in 207S.E., Njördr made it clear to the Grand Lector that Yggdrasil should no longer be considered part of the Pantheon, and should be treated as an anathema by the faithful. What little information has been pieced together by the dwellers of the Material Plane indicates that the ever blood thirsty Yggdrasil had attempted to rise up against Njördr and the other deities, hoping that those who had sworn allegiance to her in Kjörnsholm would help carry the fight for her in Ulskandar, a plan that ultimately came to nought. The Cult of Yggdrasil does still survive, but has been driven underground by the Pantheon’s faithful.