The Myrorian Faith

Myroria

TNPer
"The Myrorian faith" is one of many terms for the religion, philosophy, culture, and way of life of the Myrorian people. Its most well-known characteristic internationally, ICly, is its veneration of the dead; this is a large part of the faith, and essentially the primary aspect of it, but other aspects include:

  • Veneration of ethnic heroes, called saints. Recognized saints have often left behind extensive collections of writings or oral traditions imparting ethic and moral philosophy; the few moral tenets explicitly associated with the Myrorian faith come from these texts.
  • Adherence to social mores, which include deference to elders, a strong (sometimes violent) sense of family honor, and a strict social hierarchy.
  • Deference to teachers learned in the words of the Saints and the practice of Communion with the Dead, something resembling a seance. These teachers, shamans and wise men and women are known as Seliffera.

The Myrorian faith is not strictly organized, and does not systematically proselytize. Despite this, those who marry into a Myrorian family - male or female - are often strongly encouraged to adopt the Myrorian faith, or at least parts of it.

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Veneration of the Dead

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A medium-sized mausoleum on the outskirts of Mere-rûn, the holiest site in the Myrorian faith and, by some accounts, the largest cemetery in the world.

The most basic tenet of the Myrorian faith is the belief that the spirits of the dead have a continued existence in another plane of existence, but continue to have influence on events on Eras. The most orthodox adherents to the Myrorian faith believe that almost everything that happens is the result of countless ancestors inflicting their will on our universe; less conservative adherents may believe only in a personal and metaphorical connection to the dead.

The afterlife is called, in the Myrorian language, Alle-rûn. An accurate pronunciation of this word in Mercanti is something like Al-leh-roon. When translated, this world means "House of the Spirits". In the afterlife, there is no want for human resources such as food, water, or money. A spirit's personality is mostly the same after death as it is in life, but most Seliffera and other learned teachers believe that the most unsavory parts of someone's character - greed, maliciousness, or belligerency, are lessened in Alle-rûn.

Some people, those whose evil and murderous nature know no bounds, are believed to be cursed to becoming a mad spirit. Unable to enter the afterlife, these ghosts haunt Eras and cause sorrow and distress to its inhabitants. Most Seliffera recommend giving people at risk of becoming mad spirits proper funerary customs in order to ensure their passage into Alle-rûn, where their worst excesses will be curtailed by the nature of the afterlife and the cooperation of other spirits.

To an outsider, the most recognizable aspect of the Myrorian veneration of the dead is a Myrorian funeral. At a Myrorian funeral, the body of the deceased is cremated and the family - sometimes the immediate survivors, but often the entire extended family - take part in crushing the leftover bones. Many adherents, after their death, bequeath small bones such as phalanges, metatarsals, or even a fibula to their descendents. Others leave behind locks of hair. In any case, these gifts are considered sacred even to the most liberal believer, and are cherished for generations.

Mere-rûn is the holiest site in the Myrorian faith; an enormous necropolis situated in central Myroria, Mere-rûn has existed for thousands of years and its catacombs, graves, and mausoleums are filled with the remains of thousands of people. The name comes from analogy with Alle-rûn, the spirit world - while Alle-rûn means "House of the Spirits", Mere-rûn means "House of the Dead", though a more accurate and more visceral translation could be "House of the Corpses]". Any believer who can afford the travel is expected to be buried in Mere-rûn, though smaller graveyards exist in every Myrorian settlement. The white limestone bricks of its mausoleums and stupas are considered a recognizable feature of the country, appearing, for instance, in the seal of Great House Vrotrith, one of the three Great Houses that govern Myroria. Even the crown of the Sedera is modeled after the stupas in Mere-rûn - though cast in gold and pearls rather than stark polished limestone.

This intimate involvement with corpses, skeletons, and ashes have been a leading cause of conflict between Myrorians and their neighbors. The Kianese Empire, which ruled Myroria for thousands of years, often instituted crackdowns on funerals and cremations, and instituted pogroms that killed thousands of Myrorians due to their reviled practices. Even today, rumors that Myrorians eat the flesh of the dead or cook their bonemeal into bread are prevalent and considered highly offensive.

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Veneration of saints

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The cover of a book of the writings of St. Oramyn, believed to be from the mid 9th century. Its bejewelled cover and lavishly decorated pages imply that it belonged to a noble.

The Myrorian faith also venerates heroes from the people's past, who it crowns saints. People can be made saints for any number of reasons, and lists could not nearly be exhaustive and often must be edited according to region. Some of the most universal and widely venerated, however, include St. Oramyn, St. Llothren, St. Medrina, and St. Mira.

Most saints were philosophers or widely-respected Seliffera who left behind extensive writings or oral records of their deeds. About half were recognized as saints in oral and written tradition due to actions taken on behalf of their people; St. Mira, for instance, fought in rebellion against the Kianese Empire dressed as a man before being caught and executed by the empire's authorities. Others, such as St. Oramyn, were merely respected teachers who left behind exhortations and opinions on ethics and morals.

Today, saints are usually recognized by informal agreement among Seliffera, though some saints may be specific to only a few towns in the deepest parts of rural Myroria. Any saint technically can be reburied in Mere-rûn at the government's expense, but many remain in their hometowns or the place of their death. Getting a settlement to part with their most cherished resident can be difficult, despite the holy status Mere-rûn holds in the eyes of the faithful.

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Seliffera and the Communion with the Dead

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A Kianese lithograph of a seliffera speaking to a Myrorian congregation in Port Augusta, ca. 1805

A seliffera is a Myrorian man or woman learned in the writings of the Saints and the communication with the spirits; in this manner they act as a teacher for their congregation and as a conduit between the living and unliving world. In the past, a seliffera was almost universally a man and was often the only literate person in their settlement. Their role as a medium was paramount and they were considered the most respected man in the community; today, though, their role as a teacher has come to the forefront as disbelief in the more supernatural aspects of the religion has increased.

In a Communion with the Dead, the seliffera gathers the family of the deceased in a dark room containing objects close to the spirit they are attempting to communicate with. These objects can include clothing, jewelry, bequeathed bones, or even livestock. Incense and candles are lit and, holding each item in his or her hands and speaking a prayer, the seliffera completes the ritual once a sequence of all the objects has been completed.

At this point, the seliffera enters a trance state and speaks as the deceased ancestor to the gathered family. Questions may be asked and answered, and the ritual ends once the seliffera believes the spirit of the deceased has left his or her body.

This seance is sacred and holy, and to record images of it through photographs or any other procedure is sacreligious. Feuds have started over people coming to settlements posing as distant cousins and asking to speak to their alleged relative.

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This is only an introduction to the many aspects of the Myrorian folk religion. Other things that will be touched on in the future include Myrorian mysticism and esotericism, the Myrorian Genocide perpetrated by the Kianese Empire, the creation myth of the Myrorian faith, and the religion's role in a modern society.
 
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