|Notable Beliefs||Ten Creeds, the Imperial Spirit guides all Unionists to a communal faith and destiny|
|Notable practices||Pillars of Blessings, Funeral Rites, Communal Sermon, Liturgic Calendar|
Unionism is a monotheistic religion based on the life and oral teachings of the Emperors of Regalia and the divine Spirit that binds them all together. Unionism is one of the largest faiths in Aloria and practiced by millions of Ailor and those others from Races seeking spiritual fulfillment. The core belief of Unionism is that one day, Humanity will achieve paradise through the journey they call “The Great Way.” The Great Way refers to the time between now and an undefined time in the future where Human & Supporter superiority will eclipse that of all other lesser races and establish a holy paradise on Aloria. In the past, Unionism was greatly divided between various sects and regional systems of belief, but over the past several years, these divisions made been solved with a newly reunified Unionism. Because of this, Unionism is on the rise (even though it is already dominant) and religious fervor has gripped many devout regions with the Synod in Regalia working hard to push the tenants of the faith onto the world
- 1 History
- 2 Beliefs and Practices
- 3 The Creeds of Unionism
- 4 The Imperial Spirit
- 5 Death and the Afterlife
- 6 Origins of Life
- 7 Worship
- 8 Sacraments of Union
- 9 Liturgical Calendar
- 10 Symbols
- 11 Trivia
Unionism began shortly after the rise of the Regalian Empire. Newly crowned Emperor Theomar I was said to have had divine visions, which came slowly over the course of 53 years. By 58 AC, the Ten Predictions of Union were officially ratified, and the Unionism sect began to expand its power outside of the Imperial Court. In this early stage, it had no churches or centers of worship, instead of being spread between the upper class of the city and nobility present in the capital city. But, it was slow going. Conversion happened locally throughout Regalia, mostly by court missionaries and by the power of the word. Sectarian violence in Regalia was a common occurrence in the early years after the Void Invasion, following the fracturing of existing religions as theologians scrambled to try and explain the events that were happening in the world. Limited missionaries were sent out to other states, but did not take root as strongly as they did in Regalia. Regalia was after all at this stage only but a city-state, not a sprawling Empire. When Theomar died in 61 AC, his son Leomar I apparently saw a greater vision for Unionism. He condensed the Ten Predictions of Union into the first Five Creeds, later adding his own. He was also the first Emperor to call a Diet of Unionism to unify the growing religion.
This was when the First Schism took place, over the issue of Herons. The Reverend of Regalia and many of his colleagues from across the Archipelago reasoned that Herons should function only as the most prime examples of Unionist fervor and that anointing living Humans as Herons, was heresy because it would imply that the worship of another Human besides the Emperor in life is permitted. The Evintarians, however, believed that living Humans should be anointed to Heron, so that they may function as living examples and be worshiped to indirectly worship the Emperor, as they claim the Emperor was responsible for their good deeds. The debate between the main body of Reverends and the Evintarians continued for several days until an eventual deadlock was declared. Then, the Evintarian Unionists were ejected from Regalia and sent to Etosil to live out the rest of their days. The faith continued to spread like wildfire in the following decades, largely because Unionism is the only faith with an afterlife principle, a message that is quickly accepted by those fearing death. The next major fracture occurred when House Kade inherited the Imperial Line, resulting in the Vultarin Heresy. This split was undone however by the time that the Imperial Dragon was proclaimed, a divine providence that could not be denied, and as such, all the split-off churches of the Unionist Sancella re-united into the Unionist Divine, bringing an end to 250 years of schism in 306 AC.
Beliefs and Practices
Unionists have a set of holy passages referred to as the Holy Creeds, written by various Emperors throughout Ailor history. It is said that the Holy Creeds are written by the Emperors, but their hands are guided by the Imperial Spirit and visions granted from that same divine power. The Creeds are all written in Proto-Regalian, a now ancient and dead language that predated the Alt-Regalisch language. The Practices of the Unionist church are fairly uniform, in that all forms of Unionism pray and worship in roughly the same ways, though there is a great amount of sectarian variety from one Reverend’s flock to another. Most of the Unionist practices are not mandatory, but highly encouraged or recommended. A list of common Unionist practices is as followed.
- Prayer three times a day, at dawn, noon, and following dinner after dusk. Unionists are recommended to pray at least once a day in public mass, which occurs at the same time as Prayer time.
- The dead are burned and their ashes are buried. The burning occurs in so called Houses of the Dead where priests burn the bodies in ceremonial stone sacrophacusses. After burning, the remains are scraped up and placed in an urn which is then encased in a cask and buried. Most nobles are not burned, but rather beheaded and have their heart removed and placed in an urn away from the body.
- Sacred images are used in all denominations of Unionism. This includes paintings of the Emperor, statuettes, and sometimes relics of Herons and previous Emperors.
- Four yearly religious celebrations, the festivals of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter with their own various religious implications.
The Creeds of Unionism
The Creeds of Unionism are the written holy scriptures that are worshipped, sometimes even more fervently than the Emperor himself, as the scriptures are the strict words of the Imperial Spirit while the Emperor is technically just a prophet who put them to paper. Similarly to the Emperor, the Creeds cannot be wrong, but they can be misinterpreted or mistranslated, or differently interpreted and translated.
- The First Creed: The First Creed is the foundation for all other creeds after it and the formation of the formal state religion. The First Creed as such is the foundation of the faith, and cannot be re-interpreted. It represents the core principles of the Spirit, the Imperial bloodline, and the Great Way. This trinity of divinity is unassailable, and Reverends are not allowed to try and re-interpret these concepts.
- The Second Creed: The Second Creed dictates the duties of the faithful in prayer and virtue, while also speaking about practices with regards to the dead and baptism. While some obvious virtues like military support for the cause of Unionism and good natured behavior towards other Unionists is specified, it does not go into a whole lot of detail about what a virtue is specified as or what actions would constitute as virtuous, as long as they do not conflict with the code of law. The Second Creed is also commonly cited as having some impact on what the Reverends dictate is a virtuous marriage or treatment of one’s spouse and children, but the Creeds don’t actually say anything on for example polygamy versus monogamy, same-sex behavior or the role of women in society versus their male counterparts.
- The Third Creed: The Third Creed speaks about Herons and the holy decrees of the Emperor. Like the First Creed, this Creed is unassailable because it enshrines the religious will and prerogatives of the Emperor and the Imperial lineage. It can only be altered by the Emperor, and it was past Emperor(s) who made the lineage of the Imperial line elective, and also allowing the title to pass through women.
- The Fourth Creed: The Fourth Creed states that Humankind will ascend to the afterlife and shall be judged for having done their part for the Great Way, or having been left wanting. Those who are judged as having made their contribution to the Great Way are present in the afterlife together with the Spirit, while those who are rejected are reincarnated as a non-Human to prove themselves again. It also states that non-Humans are also weighed by the Spirit, and if non-Humans are judged as having made a contribution, then they are reborn as a Human, without necessarily specifying anywhere what a Human is, despite it including Ailor.
- The Fifth Creed: The Fifth Creed speaks of the unaccepted faiths, the heresies and the seductions and powers of ruin of the Void and Demons. The Fifth Creed as such specifies that certain faiths are acceptable misinterpretations of the Spirit’s will and guidance. In Unionism, other religions could be interpreted to form syncretic faiths under the guidance of Unionism, but it never actually specifies what these faiths are and under what specifications such a syncretism would be applicable. It does however specify that explicit Void Worship is a sin.
- The Sixth Creed: The Sixth Creed dictates the structure of the Curates, Reverends, the High Reverend, the Synod and the Supreme Reverend. It dictates that the Reverends have the individual freedom to interpret the Creeds “where they are found lacking in detail and specificness” and administer their own flock as a sect of Unionism, as long as this is not in an affront to the Supreme Reverend’s spiritual guidance. The Supreme Reverend ensures that no Reverend starts interpreting the Creeds into the realms of Heresy, and commands the High Reverend to enact conformity should such a situation occur. The Synod exists as an unofficial conclave that calls for a diet when a religious emergency occurs, who vote for their High Reverend from among their members who will also double as the cleric for the Imperial Family and the Emperor.
- The Seventh Creed: The Seventh Creed dictates the need for spiritual and bodily transcendence of Humankind to become greater Humans than the ages before. The Seventh Creed is incredibly vague, as it does not specify what transcendence actually means, but it roughly translates to the constant need for Unionists to improve both themselves as Humans as well as their means to fulfill the goals of the Great Way.
- The Eight Creed: The Eight Creed dictates the Great Way and the specifics of it. The Great Way is specified as “such a time in which Humankind has irrevocable and unmistakable dominance over all the lesser races and creatures and ideologies over Aloria, and where the Spirit is believed in by the population of the world”. While this Creed isn’t very specific, there is little room for re-interpretation on what it states.
- The Ninth Creed: The Ninth Creed dictates the various offences against the Imperial family and the Emperor, essentially forming the basis for the Imperial Laws. This Creed is also unassailable and cannot be altered without the direct input of the Emperor. It also further specifies the religious holiness of the Dragonblood through bulls issued by the Emperor and the Reverends.
- The Tenth Creed: The Tenth Creed does not exist officially, but has always been rumored to have existed, only disappearing shortly before publication. The exact contents of the Tenth Creed have been speculated upon for centuries and official acknowledgement of its existence has yet to come from the Imperial Court.
It could as such be said that the Reverends can develop their own Sects based on their interpretations of the Creeds. Some Creeds can be interpreted, some cannot, and all interpretations need to fall into what is acceptable for the Supreme Reverend. Something that would for example not be acceptable in a Sect, is declaring Human sacrifice a virtue, as it is an affront to the preservation of Human life. Here is a list of things that can be freely interpreted however: What is a virtue for example charity or austerity, stances on gender roles in society, stances on polygamy versus monogamy, stances on same-sex relations, stances on relations with non-Unionists, what the afterlife is like, what actions are needed to be judged fairly in the afterlife, as what race those who are rejected are reborn as, what races constitute Humans, what faiths are syncretic and acceptable under Unionism as lesser daughter beliefs, what self-improvement both on a physical and spiritual level for the sake of Unionism means.
The Imperial Spirit
The Imperial Spirit in Unionism refers to the soul of the Imperial power. It is an abstract concept that many theologians have theorized about, but the general interpretation is that the Imperial Spirit is a form of spiritual energy of divine power with its own will that fuses with the soul of the Emperor of Regalia as soon as he is crowned. The Emperor's duties as the Imperial Spirit are to make the divine decisions for the cause and course of Humanity, with regards to who to subjugate, who to free, and where to divert the attention of the Empire. The Imperial Spirit also abstractly exists in the afterlife, guiding the souls of those who have passed in the Divine flow of energy that empowers the Imperial Spirit, and keeping them safe and close until the day of the divine Fate.
Death and the Afterlife
Death is the final judgement of any Human's life, a weighing moment when the Imperial Spirit weighs the value of their contribution to Humanity's fate. If the Human is considered valuable to the Human fate, they are allowed into the afterlife. The afterlife is like having a bird’s eye view of the world, the souls of those who passed in service to the Human fate abstractly exist around the living, seeing them, hearing them, but not being able to communicate with them, but existing in the loving embrace of the Imperial Spirit, which is the steps to the Throne of the Imperial Spirit. If the Human is considered a failure, they are condemned to a life of a non-Human. As a non-Human, they have the chance of mercy or absolution, if they put their lives in servitude of Humans and the Great Way. If they succeed, the Creeds speaks of a second chance at being a Human. A death sentence by the Emperor himself is generally seen as the worst that could happen to any Human, and they will be forsaken by their family and removed from all records of history and memory. The Emperor as such decides on life and death in some cases, and can also circumvent the Spirit’s judgement by either upgrading or downgrading someone’s soul on the spot while they are still alive.
Origins of Life
Unionism has surprisingly little to say on the origins of life or the creation of everything in general. Some of the Creeds vaguely hint at the idea that the thoughts behind Creation from the Old Gods faith is actually an accepted version of creation theory to Unionists, especially since Melennar’s confessions, Old Gods worshippers are just strayed Unionist worshipers who weren’t blessed by the visions of Theomar the First, as believed by a number of sectarian Reverends. Both the Creeds and the Emperors have never been literal on the concept of creation however, which is why it always has just been treated as an unspoken matter. Unionists focus very strongly on where the future is going, instead of where the past has been. This generally hooks into the Ailor belief and drive for progress, as opposed to staying in the past and remaining stagnant, like the Altalar. Some Unionist sects belief that the Imperial Spirit was originally the world of Aloria itself, existing in a dormant state as lesser races came into being and disappeared, until Humans were deemed worthy enough to become the chosen race, after which the Imperial Spirit sent visions to Theomar the First. These beliefs are never explicitly denied or confirmed by the Sancella of Union however.
It is implied in the Ten Creeds of Union that prayers can be used to call upon the Emperor for worldly favors and blessings. Emperor Theomar constructed the grand Regalian Cathedral, home to the Pillars of Blessings. The Pillars of Blessings have small orifices in them, capable of containing small pieces of paper. Believers of union will write down small wishes and deeds they would like to see the Emperor perform, and stuff these papers into the ornaments of the Pillars. Every month, the Emperor would lead a procession of the Imperial Spirit in the Cathedral, after which he would come down to the Pillars and pick out a few pieces of paper. These wishes or deeds would then be performed within the mortal power of the Emperor, giving heed to the blessings asked for by the followers.
Communal worship for Unionists happens on a daily basis three times a day, and though it is strongly encouraged and almost enforced once a day, participation is not obligatory more than once a week. Most citizens with a profession choose Saturday or Sunday, but Priests hold sermons every day of the week, so one may participate on any day. Sermons of Unionism are usually filled with communal prayer, priests reading from the holy texts, and faith healing. Sermons are held traditionally within churches, but can also be held in open air or in any building. There is no specific celestial law that states sermons must be held in a church, and street sermons are sometimes frequent in times of trouble or social unrest. Worship can be varied for different events. Birth blessings have their own rituals, as do funeral rites, communions for Union and feast days or holidays.
Sacraments of Union
Unionism has several Sacraments throughout one's lifetime. Some are optional; only the first and last Sacrament must be performed for all Humans.
Sacrament of Birth Blessing
The first Sacrament is the birth blessing. Upon the birth of a Human born in a Unionist family, the baby must be blessed by a priest reading the First Creed to the baby, usually when it has just come out of its mother. This Sacrament represents initiation of the Human baby into the duty and rights of a Unionist, but also serves to cleanse the newborn of any past non Human life they may have suffered, to prepare them for their second chance at redemption.
Applicable to: Birth/Baptism
Sacrament of Entry
The next Sacrament is the Sacrament of Entry. Entry Sacraments are performed by those who enter the service of the Regalian state. This means all soldiers, knights, nobles, state officials, politicians and priests, or children who aspire to be of those professions, go through this Sacrament. In this Sacrament, the children (usually between ages 10 and 13) must memorize the Nine Creeds of Union, and be able to recite them in their most basic rudimentary form during a sermon on their Communion day. The Communion Sacrament is seen as entry of one's duty to the Human Fate. Anyone who has an employment as subject to the Regalian State must have gone through the Sacrament of Entry.
Applicable to: Military, Nobles, Knights, State Officials, Politicians
Sacrament of Harmony
The Sacrament of Harmony is performed to each wedding made in the Unionist church and blessed by the Sancella. It should be noted that marriage in Regalia isn't exactly the same as a church marriage. The church and the state do not have the same ideology or legislation concerning marriage, and as such, having a marriage agreed upon by the State, is not the same as getting a marriage from the Church. Church marriage is always subject to canon law, though does not have to particularly come after or before a state marriage, and can in fact be made entirely separately depending on whether the state marriage even took place or not (though the state never recognizes religious marriages for legal reasons). If divorced or widowed, the Sacrament of Harmony is repeated with every new spouse, meaning the Sacraments of Harmony duplicate. A man who divorced his first wife and remarried, thus has two Sacraments of Harmony. Note, because Reverend Sects are allowed to have their own interpretation of what passes for a marriage, it is quite possible to have a Sacrament of Harmony that is recognized by one Reverend but rejected by another.
Applicable to: Those who are married in the Unionist Church
Sacrament of Solution
The Sacrament of Solution exists between the Sacrament of Union and Sacrament of Entry, for those who converted to Unionism at a later date than birth or early childhood. The Sacrament of Solution is done by combining both the Sacrament of Union and Entry into one, while also requiring the individual to already be engaged in, or start working in service to the Regalian State. Additionally, unless the person was Agnostic or Atheist, they will be required to engage in the Sacrament of Rejection.
Applicable to: Converts
Sacrament of Rejection
The Sacrament of Rejection is a Unionist practice that ensures (from the Sancella's perspective) the loyalty of the individual by forcing them in an act of grand heresy that would condemn them in their native religion. For most converters (such as Old Gods or Old Fayth) this includes performing sacrilege on holy offerings and idols, for Songaskians this involves turning away from the sun with head cover, and for most other religions, loud and vocal rejection of old beliefs. The Sacrament of Rejection must be performed by each convert.
Applicable to: Converts
Sacrament of Blessings
The Sacrament of Blessings is intended for individuals who have their soul status elevated to Humanum, when their body is still non-Humanum. This Sacrament is still issued by the Church, but not officially performed since it is always implied when the Emperor through the Imperial Spirit promotes someone's soul. This Sacrament is the rarest Sacrament, since Emperors very rarely promote anyone, in fact, many Emperors have gone through life never promoting any individual to Humanum.
Applicable to: Humanum Status Grants
Sacrament of Sacrifice
The Sacrament of Sacrifice is usually performed by adults, advanced in age between 30 and 50, and often also by criminals. The Sacrament of Sacrifice effectively introduces those who perform the rites into a monastic order, such as women joining the Celestials of Mercy, and men joining the Fathers of Piety. Fathers of Piety often become monks and priests, whereas the Celestials of Mercy become nuns or silent women of the church who embalm the dead or deliver babies to the world. After the Sacrament of Sacrifice, those who have passed either divorce their marriage or never marry again. It is also common for those who perform this ritual to swear an oath of silence and servitude to the church, becoming a member of the Ecclesiastical Estates of Basta.
Applicable to: Church Service/Monasteries
Sacrament of Highest Order
The Sacrament of Highest Order is performed for each Imperial Guard who enters service. It involves a number of highly spiritual sermons and meetings in which the subject prays and begs the Spirit for the strength of mind and body to protect the Emperor and to serve him everlasting or until death separates them from him. The Sacrament of the Highest Order can often also be granted by the Emperor to unique individuals who serve the Emperor with great dedication and loyalty.
Applicable to: Imperial Guards
Sacrament of Fervent Service
The Sacrament of Fervent Service is the official rite name of Knighthood, a ritual that most male Nobility go through, but also commoners who are elevated to Knighthood. The Sacrament of Fervent Service is the only Sacrament not performed in the church, instead relying on a test of strength, wit, and faith to the Emperor by the Regalian military. In most cases, the recruits will be instructed to stand guard at the cathedral for a week with nothing but a flask of water, while also reciting the predictions of Union whenever anyone asks for them, and remaining disciplined and orderly throughout the entire ordeal. This Sacrament is currently only valid for Bloodcast and Viridian Knights.
Applicable to: Viridian Knights & Bloodcast Knights
Sacrament of Slumber
The final Sacrament is the Sacrament of the Slumber, the death rite. The Sacrament of Slumber is performed for those who have passed, but it differs radically per social class. Richer citizens can afford a church burial, involving priests reciting the relevant Creeds and heavy use of incense, while the more common folk will simply be put in a grave with a simple prayer. It is custom to bury the dead in robes of black, while all those who mourn for their death are dressed in pure white. This is to emphasize that even if their passed spirit cannot see themselves, they can always see those who are still on Aloria and living, and focus their energy to further their cause instead of any worldly selfish desires.
Applicable to: All dead Unionists
The Liturgical year of Union is very class and profession based. The period of spring is seen as the Cycle of Growth, in which children are conceived, crops are planted and the year's census is done. The following period in Summer is the Cycle of Dominion, in which wars are usually performed by the Regalian Empire for expansion. The next Cycle is in Autumn, the Cycle of the Harvest, in which the ending part, children are usually born, the crops harvested, and the lands subjugated. Finally the months of Winter represent the Cycle of Reflection, months filled with worship, feasts and thinking back on everything that has happened past year.
Every one of these Cycles has their own smaller holidays, but each cycle has its own Festival week, in which most Regalians celebrate the Liturgical cycle with each other in a merry week of drinking, games, feasting and communal prayer. The one in the Cycle of Reflection is especially important, as that is the only Festival which the Emperor actively participates in.
- Click here for more information on the Unionist Liturgical Calendar
Unionism isn't a specifically aniconist religion, meaning it does not rely much on images to convey itself as it's often difficult to symbolize the fate of humanity into a single image, but there are several symbols which strongly represent the religion. For nearly 300 years, a stork was the main symbol of Unionism, carrying the Spirit of Union as the stork was also the family crest animal to House Ivrae. Since the Kade Settlement however, the stork has been replaced with a Feathered Dragon, animal ruler of Aloria and proud symbol of justice, strength, power and all-rule. The only other major symbol beyond this one is a golden eye with sunrays radiating from it. This is also seen in priestly prayers where they hold their right hand up next to their face while reciting the Creeds with the Unionist symbol pendant in their hand palm, using their left hand to wander the pages and move religious artifacts around during Sermons. As for general or common symbols, most Unionists have a necklace with a small golden hand in front of a star, or a broach with the head of Emperor on it to outwardly identify themselves as Unionist. In general, Unionists condemn the practice of outward identification of other Religions however, and refrain from doing it much themselves in the street as flaunting Unionist symbols is often seen as hubris.
- Emperor Theomar the First made Unionism mandatory among some of the noble families very early on, but this regulation has laxed in recent times when it was removed from Synod Law.
- Some speculate there is some dark conspiracy behind the Emperor, the Oxoron Celestial Body and the Void, but most of this is generally called nutcase ramblings.
- Melennar was not an Elf, contrary to popular belief because of his name.