Many of the Velheim follow the faith of the Old Gods, with Elleja (Ellea), Lanar (Lanarra), Baskil (Bashtur), Merkell (Mershell), Alu (Alu), Bep (Bep), Jula (Julla), and Handrin (Handrin) as the collected pantheon. Despite commonly seen as the major faith of the Velheim, it is in fact not the dominant faith by number of followers, especially in the continents closer to Oldt Era. In fact, the majority of the Velheim follow the Oldt Fayth, a Religion that is as ancient as the Ailor people themselves, and as such, equally complicated in its vast intricacies.
The Oldt Fayth is one of the oldest systems of belief in Aloria, originating on Ceardia at least a millennia ago. How it emerged is completely unknown, as the Ailor of Ceardia were long oppressed by their own violent society and the constant arrival of Altalar slaving vessels. Sometime during this period, the Oldt Fayth spread across Aloria, likely by the ancient Ailor to areas like Daen and The North Belt around 500 BC. Ceardian society rapidly put aside Oldt Fayth in favor of other cults like that of the Manebeast, while those in Daen altered their faith into a somewhat more standardized series of ideas: Old Gods. But in The North Belt and northern areas of the Regalian Archipelago, Oldt Fayth beliefs took root and remained for centuries. All of this is early history is, at best, estimation, as the only sure certainties about Oldt Fayth is that it existed before the Cataclysm. The Regalian Empire took official note of the belief system as largely being the faith of the Velheim who made up the Skagger Horde, who became their enemy for over a century. In the aftermath of the Horde’s defeat, those that remained either converted to Old Gods (generally more acceptable at the time), Unionism, or hid their Oldt Fayth beliefs. Despite this, Oldt Fayth survived in the many thousands of Velheim not found in the Regalian Archipelago and today, is the majority faith of the Velheim people across Aloria.
In theory, Oldt Fayth has no limit to the amount of gods that exist, and practically any activity or act has a god associated with it. That being said, the Velheim recognize the greater pantheon, which are the main gods, and the lesser pantheon, which is the theoretical infinite pool of gods that wildly differ from town to town. For example, some gods of the lesser pantheon could exist to a group no larger than twenty men, though the greater pantheon is present in all aspects.
Furthermore, Oldt Fayth knows concepts of origins and the all-end. Jaud, the All Spring being the concept of origins. Jaud is not really a god but more of a general understanding of the All Spring of origin. It is often described as a fountain or a water spring, though often also as a waterfall or a creek in the mountains. It is said among the Oldt Fayth that Jaud gave life to everything, and that Jaud itself continues time by ever flowing. Jaud is not really a person, and as such is not revered, but simply recognized as existing, as all gods make their home at the beginning of this spring of water and time. Forseth is the all-end in the Oldt Fayth. Forseth is not really a god but more of a general understanding of the imminent end to all things. It is described as a rock or a tree, sometimes with the shape of an old man’s face, though generally considered to be a very mundane object. The story goes that on the Forseth Daggrondr (day of Forseth), Forseth will fall into the Jaud and end time by blocking the flow of water, which represents the passage time. It is said that when Forseth falls, the world simply ceases to exist and all that has happened will be meaningless, though it is not entirely clear how the prophecies exactly mean the world will end. Some imply time simply stops turning, hunger, sleep, birth and death will disappear, and the world becoming a gray nothingness where souls wander in infinity.
Other prophecies claim the sun will go dark and the land will die, and others yet say that the world will fracture, just as the flow of Jaud is fracturing, and create multiple worlds that will begin anew. It is important to note that this exactly the reason why Velheim are considered life-lusting and cherish every moment of existence. They are under the constant belief that the world could end at any moment with no warning or explanation, so they simply live in the here and now and for their own satisfaction and life lust. Forseth is not worshipped or even really referred to in name. The Velheim mostly ignore Forseth’s existence because they are aware that nothing they do, not even the gods, can stop Forseth from falling.
Finally, as much as the Oldt Fayth does not have a concept of afterlife, the faith recognizes a concept of surviving honor from one dead to another. When a man dies, they either die with fair Soldi or without fair Soldi. Soldi is the concept of combat honor or bravery in battle. A man that fights to his last in battle is said to enjoy fair Soldi. A man that is murdered or stabbed in the street without much of a fight, or a man that cowers from a brave end, is said to die without fair Soldi. Not only does a man who dies without the blessings of fair Soldi become a Dreyr spirit of the trickster god Otr, it is said that disgraced Soldi is passed on to descendants, meaning they will suffer misfortune and bad luck in their lives. This belief persists even among Velheim who are not followers of the Oldt Fayth, as the whole concept of honor is codified in their culture. As such, Oldt Fayth men believe they should all die in battle honorably, even if they are sick. In fact, the skill or strength shown in battle often does not matter, as long as the man dies in battle without cowardice, fair Soldi is assured. For families cursed with misfortune of Otr, it is said that the sons of a cursed man can atone for their cowardice or weakness of their fathers by participating in the religious festival called the Skjald-Vinella, the act of slaying a great beast in the heart of winter with nothing but wooden spears. Any who die in this custom are assured of fair Soldi, meaning that even if all sons die in this custom, the misfortune of the father is undone from the family.
There is no real mention of how women should die in the Oldt Fayth, since the religion originated from a time when women were in all aspects considered property of men, and only centuries later did they become equals among the Old Ceardian people (where the faith originates). As such, the religion has not officially adapted to the new social situation of the Velheim, though many women often infer that the same laws apply to them, either to die in battle, or to die in childbirth (which in Oldt Fayth is considered a battle of sorts too, with Haella or other negative gods for the life of the child and birth).
The following is a list of the major pantheon of gods in Oldt Fayth belief:
- Daguyr, female goddess of the sun, dawn and daytime, often prayed to for staving off droughts and summer heat.
- Daina, female goddess of the moon, dusk and nighttime, often prayed to for protection during the night and a clear moon for navigation.
- Jovr, male god of justice, husband of Daguyr, often prayed to for fair dealings and by rulers.
- Jagr, male god of injustice, husband of Daina, often prayed to for revenge and success in dishonorable deeds.
- Hermed, male god of honor and ancestry, often prayed to in the end to bring fair Soldi to descendants and survivors.
- Otr, male god of trickery and disgrace, the only god that is never prayed to and is universally reviled. It is said that men who die without the grace of fair Soldi become haunted Dreyr, undead spirits that feast on the living.
- Balla, female goddess of fertility and carnal pleasure, often prayed to for success in conceiving children, as well as romance.
- Haella, female goddess of pestilence and solitude, sister of Balla, often prayed for to bring ruin on another’s family but also for contemplation and patience.
- Varld, male god of the earth and soil, brother of Balla and Haella, prayed to for good harvests and plentiful livestock. Also prayed to in order to stave off earthquakes and rock slides.
- Aella, female goddess of the air and the sky, wife of Varld, prayed to for good rains and clear skies when necessary for sailing.
- Vinella, female goddess of the winter and the hunt, prayed to for good hunting prospects and to stave off wild predators during winter.
- Bjarkan, male god of spring and rebirth, husband of Vinella, prayed to for good health among the children and plentiful forage.
- Gaudr, one of the few male giant gods, god of the forest and all trees and living things inside. Giant gods are not worshiped, merely respected in name to revere their domain.
- Raudr, one of the few male giant gods, god of the Sea and all living things inside. Giant gods are not worshiped, merely respected in name to revere their domain.
- Fadaudr, one of the few male giant gods, god of the mountains and the snow and all living things inside. Giant Gods are not worshiped, merely respected in name to revere their domain.
- Ul, the only female giant goddess, goddess of death and a final end to all the living. While giant gods are normally not worshiped, Ul is a sole exception in that several traditional festivities as well as customs are related to offering her service in exchange for safe passage to the dead.
- Varfal, male god of war and fighters, father of Balla, Haella, and Varld, often prayed to for good fortune in battle and success in combat and strength.
- Milna, female goddess of the elders, sister-wife of Varfal, mother of Balla, Haella, and Varld, often prayed to for good fortune to the elders and parents, and for a good security in old age.
- Oldt Fayth beliefs are so diverse and widespread across the various northern groups who practice it that there are no single set or group of relics consistent across the different regions. Where one community might have some unique relic they firmly believe to be totally authentic, one the next fjord over might dispute that and claim their own relic to be totally authentic while that of their neighbors is utterly fraudulent. A list of the most credible or generally accepted Relics are as follows: The Shroud of Concealment of Otr, kept by a sect in Nordskag; The Enduring Bow, supposedly blessed by Vinella, located in Ellador; The Field of Peace, formed by flowers that fell from the hair of the goddesses Aella and Vinella on their shared wedding day, protected by the Tarkkin; The Fragment of Night, a piece of Daina’s lavish armor that fell from the heavens a century ago, kept by the Fridurfolk.
Oldt Fayth worshipers are as various in their practices of belief as they are in the number and type of gods they believe in. In general, Oldt Fayth worshippers praise their gods through the use of altars and religious sites adorned with appropriate paraphernalia as suits the being or beings being respected. At most sites, the leaving of offerings such as food, goods, or even personal messages takes place in addition to spoken prayers or gestures of religious significance. Occasionally, living offerings are left at these sites, sometimes being sacrificed but other times being left for those who tend the altar to take and use appropriately in the name of the being found there.
The sole activity that truly goes against the beliefs of the Religion, and indeed the Velheim Culture as a whole, is living a life devoid or lacking of honor. This derives itself from Oldt Fayth beliefs about Soldi, essentially the balance of an individual’s soul. Those who are murderers, who are cowards, or even those who are victims that die without a fight upon being attacked are considered to possess bad Soldi. To do such things harms an entire family’s honor, while also damning the individual man who committed such crimes to a spirit controlled by Otr. Thus, to die in battle, fighting hard for life, is the greatest way to go out according to the Oldt Fayth belief.
- The faith of the Tarrkin people is dedicated to a set of four major deities from the major Oldt Fayth pantheon, those being Varld and his wife Aella and Vinella and her husband, Bjarkan. These four help to represent the societal order of the Tarkkin people known as the Order of Maailma, which dictates the four sorts of pairings there can be in a marriage. Attached to this is a wider mythology of stories which includes almost all the other Oldt Fayth gods and goddesses. This sect of Oldt Fayth belief is overseen by shamans known as the Arpuja, who conduct rituals and serve to help tie individuals to the Souls that the Tarkkin believe exist in everything as well as to the gods. Their society is not a radical one and have co-existed alongside other variants of Oldt Fayth religion for the past several decades.
- For more information on their system of belief, click here
- The Fridurfolk fly right in the face of most traditional ideals of the Oldt Fayth, but most key of all, that their concept of honor is much different than most others. They are a pacifist Culture, dedicated to the preservation of nature and live simple lives as herders and fishermen. Their main gods are Daina, Aella, Varld, who they believe are the spawn of Raudr, and thus these four help to govern their world. They are aided by servants, dozens of lesser gods known as Veröldinandi, who are often animals or possess animal features. Their society, because of its pacifism, is often branded by Oldt Fayth individuals as resulting in bad Soldi, as they rarely if ever fight. In contrast to this, some have come to accept that their Soldi is very much different, and that they draw honor not from battle or the killing fields, but from keeping to their beliefs and being one with the natural world. However, their continued survival and cleverness has earned them begrudging respect by many, and so they have generally gotten along with outsiders.
- For more information on their system of belief, click here
- Oldt Fayth is thought by some radicals to be some altered form of Qadir faith, as with their polynethism and many different cults and groups, they are not dissimilar to the decentralized nature of the faith today. Exactly how the Qadir met the ancient Ailor has never been cleared up by these radical scholars.
- There are a number of dark cults basing themselves in Oldt Fayth belief, from the Mistmen of northern Nordskag to probably the most vile of all, the corrupted system of faith practiced by the Vampires of Dorkarth in Ellador.