Ebenism is the dominant religion in the Sirian Union, and is considered one of its great religions. It is named for Eben, the creator-goddess whom created both the physical world and its inhabitants. The religion is polytheist, with several pantheons of goddesses and gods.
Ebenism as a religion did not exist until Aris Bazial, the first priestess of Ebenism, began preaching amongst the nobility in Ruzann. The religion rapidly gained steam, spreading to the peasant population and even making its way to the courts of the ruler. Missionaries proselytised to traders and foreigners, eventually leading to missions
being established in other nations. The religions already entrenched in these lands found it difficult to fight Ebenism's influence, not least due to its noted tendency to simply absorb elements of the native belief system(s) to render itself more appealing to the locals whilst remaining distinct. Some theocratic governments reacted with anger, actively purging Ebenist enclaves in an attempt to prevent its spread.
This too failed, and indeed in response some Ebenist countries actively launched crusades to spread their faith to what they saw as hopelessly misguided neighbours. By the time the Uplifters made themselves known in 2641 Ebenism was well established. Rather than attempt to uproot it, the Uplifters instead decided to harness it, tweaking various aspects so that it better aligned with their goals. In the end this was somewhat successful - any blatantly obvious twisting tended to be rejected, whilst more subtle efforts slipped under the radar.
In the present, Ebenism remains a powerful force in Sirian religious life, though the Sirian Union itself is secular. It has proven incredibly resistant to attempts to displace it, even though a wide variety of religions - both domestic and foreign - are now practiced in the Union.
Practices & Tenets Edit
There are several beliefs that are core to Ebenism.
The Six Divine Virtues Edit
There are six major tenets in Ebenism that every follower is expected to obey.
- Harmony: Strive as one. This tenet encapsulates the idea that all should work peacefully toward one goal, limiting strife to verbal arguments rather than physical ones. The countering sin to Harmony is Jealousy.
- Duty: To others, then to yourself. It is this tenet that reminds Ebenists that everyone has a role to play in the grand scheme of things, and that they should not shirk their role. It also acts as a reminder of responsibility - both that of the peasant to her queen, and equally that of her ruler to her subjects. The countering sin to Duty is Disloyalty.
- Honour: Honour begets civility. An Ebenist should aim to be honourable in all affairs. Indeed, Ebenism has a specific honour code akin to ancient humanity's chivalry and bushido that governs their conduct. However, this does not mean they follow it blindly - if someone should abuse the code, it is seen as acceptable for an Ebenist to forgo it. The countering sin to Honour is Dishonesty.
- Strength: Strength of body and mind are blessed things. In certain scriptures, the body is seen as a tool for enacting Eben's divine will, and as such it should be kept in good condition. Thus, female Ebenists ensure they are in peak physical condition. This tenet also applies to mental health - an Ebenist should not allow their mental state to deteriorate. The countering sin to Strength is Cowardice.
- Wisdom: A keen intelligence is a potent tool. Expanding your horizons and knowledge is seen as a valuable undertaking by Ebenism. Furthermore, having good judgement is seen as a major blessing. The countering sin to Wisdom is Wantonness.
- Justice: Without justice there can be no peace. Although this Virtue is typically associated with law keeping, it is also interpreted as a requirement for injustices to be resolved - be it peaceably or otherwise. The countering sin to Justice is Hatred.
Prayer in Motion Edit
One of the more peculiar aspects of Ebenism is that of "prayer in motion". Essentially, it is believed that by exercising or carrying out another physical activity (such as repairing a broken object) whilst praying, you lose yourself in existence, thereby getting closer to Eben. Although not all - or even most - prayers are carried out like this, it is a popular choice.
Aside from its religious aspects, many Sirian philosophers are Ebenist or have been supported by Ebenism, which encourages such thought. In fact, several of the Sages are purely philosophers, rather than being devout Ebenists.
Part of the secret to Ebenism's flexibility and adaptability is the belief that all beings celebrate the same (Ebenist) deities - just in different ways. Holy individuals are seen as being manifestations of certain divine beings' will. Although this has angered some, it has also made it much easier to adapt and avoid religious conflict.
There are a dizzying variety of deities in the Ebenist belief system - however, for brevity's sake only a few are listed below:
- Eben: the creator deity of Ebenism, she is broadly associated with the sun, light, life, and the day.
- Ataf: Eben's sister, she was the first being to experience death. Enraged by being forgotten, she cursed all mortals to die just as she had. Her symbols are night, the moon, death, and the afterlife.
- Hrondfor: A blacksmith goddess. Her symbols are metal, the forge, hammers, and anvils.
- Faruu: A male deity, Faruu is essentially the Sirian god of love. Legend has it that he was the first god, created by Eben after her fellow goddesses complained. His domains are love, beauty, pleasure, fertility, gold, and magic.
- Nalal: Information about what Nalal is is scarce, with sources contradicting themselves over whether she is a malevolent spirit, a goddess in her own right, or something else entirely. Regardless, she is depicted as a gigantic, slavering beast whose fur is "darker than a night without stars". Some texts predict that she will eventually escape her imprisonment deep beneath Siria, signalling the beginning of a great struggle as she attempts to devour both Tafri and Eid. A few accounts claim that she has a pair of equally hateful daughters. They were spawned from her little fingers/toes after Eben cut them off. Although some have claimed Nalal is the Ebenist equivalent of the devil, there is little to no evidence to support this.
- Seilkhr: The Ebenist goddess of wisdom, the hunt, and intelligence. She has a brother known as Seil.
- Ebenists: The rank and file of Ebenism, these are the women and men who practice the religion day in and day out.
- Chosen of Eben: Roughly equivalent to nuns in human religion, the Chosen of Eben are a monastic order that see the temple as their "home" and are "married" to Eben in a special ritual. Although they are relatively low ranking in the Ebenist hierarchy, they are still respected. They are always referred to with "Brother", as in "Brother Jatunn".
- Ruzikir: An idea of a Ruzikir's role can be gained from understanding the meaning of their name. Poetically translated as "Storyweaver", but meaning "author" or "poet", Ruzikir remember and record the great sagas and myths of Sirian history. During certain religious ceremonies they may be called upon to recount one of these tales.
- Ebelsi: The Ebelsi priestesshood is roughly equivalent to the clergy of other religions, handling the running of temples and other day to day affairs. They lead prayers and holy rituals.
- High Ebelsi: The high priestesses of Ebenism are at the absolute top of the Ebenist hierarchy, deciding the course of Ebenism as a whole. They are deeply respected.
The Sages Edit
The Sages are a group of mortal individuals who are seen as having done great spiritual services in the name of Ebenism. In this way, they are roughly equivalent to human saints.
- Aris Bazial: Often referred to reverentially as "The First Sage", Aris was a philosopher of a minor noble house. It was her that began Ebenism as a movement, her beguilingly simple parables and musings proving an enticing and potent mix. Her writings are recorded in four books, one for each season: the Book of Spring, the Book of Summer, the Book of Autumn, and the Book of Winter.
Like many religions, Ebenism has a variety of sects under its umbrella.
- The Sect of Five Suns: Named after the famous Five Sun Cycle legend, which involved the reincarnation of its heroine as five different "suns", this sect believe in reincarnation - a sharp departure from other Ebenists. Furthermore, they eschew worshipping gods and goddesses in favour of attempting to follow the teachings of the Sages more closely. They have produced many talented philosophers, some more religious than others.
- Atafi: Seen dismissively by some as nothing more as a death cult, the Atafi choose to devote themselves to Ataf rather than Eben, seeing her as terribly misunderstood and just as worthy of praise as her sister (there are several recorded legends of Ataf assisting mortals in their endeavours).