|The Imperial Spirit|
The Nonnatean Order is one of the oldest Unionist organizations that dates back to the early days of the creation of the Sanchella of Union by Emperor Theomar but is often unmentioned in the public eye. The Nonnateans are a purely female organization of elder Revered Mothers, women who have spent a lifetime training to become the Mothers of the Faith to both provide support and advice to the Reverends and also to act as a bridge to bring the Synod and the people closer to one another. Nonnateans have the pristine reputation of being the purest in their faith (though not necessarily the most devout), and the closest to the Spirit through daily spiritual rituals called the prayers of Concilly. They are often trusted, even when faith in the Synod and the Reverends is wavering because of political machinations, because they are so staunchly against getting involved in the earthly matters of governance. They care solely for the spiritual needs of those coming to their doorsteps for guidance and do not adhere to the commands of any organization.
Name and History
The origins of the Nonnatean name are unclear. Some speculate that Nonna was the name of the midwife and nanny of Emperor Theomar’s oldest son and that he was struck with a divine vision inspiring him to see the benevolent effects of the Mothers of the Faith. The Nonnatean Order was created in the same series of decrees that resulted in the birth of the Sanchella of Union. However, the Nonnatean Order has never formally been part of the Sanchella of Union, even if they serve the same ideology. It should come as no surprise that during the early days of Unionism, the Nonnateans were excluded from the Diets after Theomar’s death and all major decisions made with regards to Unionism since. This was entirely intentional, and Theomar saw the Nonnateans not only as truly pure and pristine spiritual guides of the people, but also of the Reverends themselves when the weight of secular governance should prove heavy to bear for their shoulders.
The Nonnateans chose a background role for the vast majority of the following two and a half centuries, not getting involved in any political matters and only stringently offering their input on spiritual issues and matters that the Reverends could not resolve. It was this devotion to purity, for which they spent whole days in the prayers of Concilly, that caused the Nonnateans to be considered the purest in faith, even though they were not the most zealous ordevout. In fact, many of the Nonnateans have been known to take some of the scriptures very loosely, especially when it concerns racial equality and accessibility of the faith to those the Sanchella had excludes like heretics or non-believers. This further aids in the reputation of the Nonnateans to be truly mother-like to any and all, and to be a final bastion of acceptance, forgiveness, and warmth even if the rest of the Empire turns their backs on the unfortunate souls in need of air.
In more recent times, the Nonnateans have taken more to the forefront as a less important but more impartial alternative to the confessionals of the Synod. Due to the increase in secular governance of the Synod, and some Reverends taking political preferences, many of nobles and curates seek the motherly care of the Nonnateans as an unshakeable pillar of devotion to their higher calling: to be the Mothers of the Faith. Present day, the Nonnatean Order remains very small but has a number of chapter houses across the Regalian city only, and a single chapter house in Calemberg and one in Axford.
The Nonnatean Order is a very loose organization that adheres to very strict internal rules. Their devotion to the Spirit and their vows have often been described as Dogartan in doctrine, as they reject all earthly possessions, take names of the cloister, and renounce their old identity. Entering the Nonnatean Order occurs at a very young age, around 20 years old, where the prospects are trained in the main chapter house of Nonnatea called the White Chapel. Nonnateans are only seen outside of the White Chapel when they achieve the rank of Revered Mother. Inside the White Chapel, Nonnatean prospects undergo several years of training, after which they spend decades in prayers in Concilly. Only after they approach the age of 60 do they become Revered Mothers, and are they allowed to leave the White Chapel to dispense their services to the outside world from the smaller chapter houses.
At the head of the Nonnatean Order is the Great Matron who decides the policies and actions undertaken by the Nonnateans, but this position has been famously held empty since the first Great Matron died. In fact, the Nonnatean Order is the only organization in the world that has kept 250-year-old traditions and rules alive through every change that has befallen civilization and society in the Regalian Empire, another testament to their undying dedication to their cause and their solid foundations. Underneath the Great Matron are the Chapter Matrons. These are older Revered Mothers who have been unanimously voted as a Chapter Matron of a specific Chapter to represent them. Chapter Matrons operate from the White Chapel to represent the Chapters but travel a lot to perform their investiture duties where they inspect the other Chapter Houses and perform the necessary examinations to promote Nonnateans to the status of Revered Mother. Revered Mothers are the “true” Nonnateans, those who remain in prayer in Concilly and as prospects are not considered true Nonnateans, and have half a lifetime of prayer and reflection ahead of themselves before they are to be considered Mothers of the Faith before they are seen by society as the motherly figures of faith.
The Organization is formally a part of the greater Unionist apparatus, and while their doctrines and beliefs align with the Synod, they are not formally at the command of the Synod. Out of religious considerations, the Nonnateans always support the Synod’s views on the Spirit’s expressions but maintain an independence of their own when it concerns their services. A Reverend is respected and welcomed in their Chapter house as a father or brother, but a Reverend should never expect a Nonnatean to heed their commands as if they are superiors. The Nonnateans prefer to refer to themselves as equal to the eyes of the Spirit and equal in receiving his message and prefer personal communion over being told the wills of the spirit through the lips of men. Sometimes, when Nonnateans break religious or state law, prosecutors turn a blind eye because of the intense purity of their faithful devotion to their tasks to give solace to the people. A Nonnatean may for example shelter a criminal or provide a private marriage ceremony for non-Unionists before the Spirit (which while unrecognized by the Synod) and it is all done with the spiritual needs of the people in mind. If Nonnateans are discovered doing things like these, the obvious response from both State and Synod is to express their disdain, but they often leave it at that since it can be difficult to prove mental intent to commit the crime given the purity of the Nonnateans themselves. Their faith is so pure that whatever crime they have committed is done out of purity and the crime in itself becomes an act of holiness (even if the people who it was performed on will still face prosecution, the Nonnatean is never guilty).
Worship and Traditions
The Worship and Traditions of the Nonnateans revolve around two core ideals: The Prayers of Concilly and the Dispensure of the Motherhood. The Prayers of Concilly are a very specific type of meditation crossed with prayers and religious work that is supposed to invoke a deeper relation to the Imperial Spirit, one that is often referred to as “being married to the Lord”. As such, the Nonnateans are sometimes also referred to as the Brides of the Spirit. The exact process of Concilly is barely understood outside of the Nonnatean Order, but of what little is understood, outsiders do know that the Prayers of concilly are incredibly taxing on the body. Nonnateans may sometimes spend whole days in intense prayer and communion to seek wisdom of the Spirit. Many Nonnateans faint (which in itself is considered being touched by the Spirit) or become ill because of the rigors of prayer. The prayers are started by entering the prayer hall with the enduring chant, a prayer that is meant to reflect the insignificance of the Nonnatean to the Spirit, and how they rely on the Spirit’s protection and guidance for everything. Then, the Nonnateans lay down on the ground face down, stretching their arms wide and flat on the ground and their legs held together to resemble a cross while the head is directed at the Unionist Altar. They then cover their head fully with the headpiece of their robe so that no part of it is visible and they purely breathe the air that is underneath their hood and between them and the ground. What follows after differs from Nonnatean to Nonnatean. Some pray while walking, some pray while writing, some remain in this position and others yet sit up or stand up and repeat the process over and over. This can last for days or until the Nonnatean feel they have received a message from the Spirit, or when their body can no longer handle the strain and they need to rest or eat.
The Dispensure of the Motherhood refers to the general services offered by the Nonnateans outside of the Prayers of Concilly. That is to say, the hours that they do not spend in intense prayer are spent dispensing religious words to the people who come to seek them out in their chapter homes, though very rarely a Nonnatean will come to someone's house when requested for a specific reason. The Dispensure of the Motherhood specifically covers the dispensing of religious advice to those who are in need of support, those who have lost their way in the faith, those who wish to convert to or away from Unionism, those who find issue with the Synod, those who wish to find meaning in their earthly experiences, or those who simply need a motherly touch and advice in their lives. This is part confession, part advice seeking, or simply part silently laboring with the Nonnateans as they go about their daily routine in silence, seeking the Nonnatean’s approval.
Relationship with other Sects
The Nonnateans don’t have much of an established connection with the other Sects of Unionism or even denominations. The Nonnateans have always been staunchly Sanchellist in their ideals, and have always followed the Supreme Reverend in his expressions, and later the Synod. The Nonnateans do have a positive relation with the Dogartan Monks, but the two groups barely interact with each other aside from exchanging religious scriptures as gifts. Nonnateans have been known to shelter those of illegal sects and cults, but they never truly adopt their ideals and often make it very clear that they do not personally approve of their ideals, but will give them a mother’s shelter as they should, because it is demanded of them by the Spirit and because everyone deserves it.
- A Nonnatean once murdered a baron in broad daylight, and nobody acted. This was perhaps the worst expression of Nonnatean untouchability to the law that has since not been repeated. Murder is extremely reviled among the Nonnateans, and even something that would cause a Nonnatean to refuse to help an outcast.
- Nonnateans are welcome guests at Noble Estates, but are notoriously difficult to arrange because of their tight prayer schedule, and because they do not want to be seen offering political preference. The correct protocol is always to come to the Nonnateans, not to make them come to you.
- The correct procedure to approach a Nonnatean for advice is to kneel before them with both hands clasped in prayer on one knee, and the other knee touching the ground. A Nonnatean that is in prayer will ignore this gesture and move on, while a Nonnatean in Dispensure will gently clasp the praying hands with both of her own hands, and raise the person up for comfort.
- Nonnateans, unless on an errand from the Chapter Mother, do not leave their Chapter Homes. It is as such not practical for a Nonnatean to be played by a player.