There are many religions in Hökaland, the primary one in the Realms is the religions for Rahn. Other religions struggle to survive and are mostly just seen as "cults", sometimes associated with demon-worshipping like the Warlocks of the Warlock Wars. The Church of Rahn, the most powerful of the religions for Rahn, certainly tries to encourage this idea.
- For more specific information, read about the Gods themselves.
Belief is different in some ways in Hökaland and similar in others. It's similar since most people believe in something blindly, as in they have no outside evidence of divine interventions. It is different in the way that in Hökaland, gods actually DO exist. Gods rarely interact with individual people, but enough of the time to have brought sentient beings to believe roughly the same things with minor variation.
Unlike our own world, religions tend to be quite similar, however, since the gods do in fact exist and influence people in a similar fashion across the globe. Any undiscovered people on the Dragon Continent will worship differently to people in the Realms, but they will worship the same gods and even pronounce their names similarly.
Other than that, most religious people believes things happen around them "for a reason", whether there is a reason or not, and people believe in "magic" and other supernatural things, most of which is just superstitious belief. Most of belief is not based directly in the supernatural, but since there are existing gods and existing magic, superstitious belief is more homogeneous than in our own world.
Similar to a Fiefdom or Kingdom and their associations with Lords and Kings, a land dedicated to Rahn, the Father of Men (a thoroughly good deity), is considered part of Rahndom (in place of saying 'Christendom', 'Christianity' or 'Hindusim' in our world). Rahn created humans in his image and fought off evil dragon gods to save us. Though people are aware of the fact that there are other gods from a whole pantheon, many just think of Rahn when someone says "God". What most people don't know is that the message from the god Rahn is not actually that similar to the messages from, and the actions by, the religions created in his name.
There are three religions dedicated to Rahn, which are based on roughly the same source material but interpreted slightly different.
Rahn's sigil is an open hand, a sign that looks different with each interpretation, but in detailed art, it is usually a detailed and fleshed out hand open that symbolises the power of Rahn as well as faith in him.
Each of the Rahndom religions despises each other more than other religions and its leaders do anything they can to eradicate the others. No holy wars as such have started, but many a lord has tried to eradicate another one with faith as their main motivator.
The holy symbol carried by followers of each religion are made in different versions of a hand, called manicula for the Church of Rahn and the True Faith but metacarpal for the Orthodox Church. For all intents and purposes these are equivalent to a crucifix within Chirstian churches and its church-goers. It's used as their primary source of identification as well as the shape on holy symbols, prayer items, for art and even weapons.
Church of Rahn
- Main article: Church of Rahn
The Church of Rahn is the biggest Rahndom religion and has its base of operations in Capitoleum. Members of the Church of Rahn are called Churched, and most Kingdoms in the Midrealms are Churched Kingdoms. The Church of Rahn uses an upside down teardrop on the top of a straight and shaped line as it manicula. This symbol is very similar to our world's ankh, but without the horisontal line. In some ways it may be the symbol least like a physical hand, but it symbolises the holeness of Rahn and encapsulates good in the world, protecting it from evil. In this shape it could be an open hand or a fist: Rahn has many aspects.
The Orthodox Church is a religion with very similar belief structure to the Church of Rahn, but has its power in the Southrealms and is slightly more strict. It has a lot more similarities to the Church of Rahn than either church want to admit. It is the second largest of the religions of Rahn. Various rituals and traditions differ, but many of the main holidays are the same as for the Church of Rahn. The Orthodox Church uses a "cross" (sometimes called a metacarpal or just "metacarp") with its ends tilted upwards with four digits reaching up from the "cross". The symbol is literally a stylised hand, including a long fingre in the middle. It symbolises standing with Rahn and showing your hand in service of Rahn.
Followers of the Othodox faith are called Faithful.
The True Faith is a collection of ideas about Rahn that are semi-organised and have been around since before either of the two 'stricter' churches. The True Faith is more common in the Northrealms. Members, if "members" can be said as a term for the movement, are called Followers. The commonly used symbol is a stylised outline of a hand, symbolising the encapsulation of all of Rahn's children as well as all life. It's not uncommon that Followers usually have a manicula dagger made in a slightly less obvious shape than churched or faithful believers of Rahn. For self-defence, always; to use such a knife for a crime would be unthinkable.
The elves believe in the same pantheon as humans do, and the Church of Rahn is tolerant towards elven religion and culture (mainly because they look up to them a bit). If anything, they see elves as allies. The religion itself revolves around the Ven god Belindril, her creating the elves and her actions throughout history.
Dwarves are seclusive and do not openly pray or follow particular religions, but an astute anthropologist can recognise that they do have a religion from their many curses relating to divine characters. Dwarves do follow the same pantheon as humans, but they only care for Krohdin, who died to save the lives of the dwarves at the end of the Dragon Wars.
Halflings vary in their religiosity, but just about all of them wear a token of the Halfling Goddess, but may also light a candle for Rahn, who is an all-round good guy. In some cases they may attend the Church of Rahn for practical reasons, but many who do worship Rahn are members of gnostic cults.
In all cultures, but especially where the Church of Rahn or the Orthodox Church are strong, gnostic cults exist. This is the name given to them by the Church as an insult, much like the word 'atheist' is. These cults may worship a different interpretation of Rahn, or all together other gods from the pantheon. This is not strictly illegal, but the Church has ways to discourage such behaviour, such as berating this type of individuals during sermons, create boycotts of traders' goods and, in worst cases, whip up an angry mob shouting "heretic" chasing the person out of town.
One may think these harsh methods would eradicate other religions, but to the contrary, they live under the heel of the Church and mostly also attend Church sermons weekly or even daily to avoid suspicion.
Not as an opposite to gnosticism, agnosticism is a belief that we can not know if there are gods. In Hökaland, this is of course not true as some people can know gods and their presence can be empirically proven (if the scientific method had been invented). However, agnosticism can also be seen a bit like people who don't care if there are gods or not. They know that humanity (or whatever race) itself can create a meaning in life and create goodness for everyone.
Agnosticism is quite rare and usually only found in upper social classes with a lot of time for introspection.
If agnosticism is rare, then atheism is exceedingly rare, despite the Church of Rahn accusing people of being atheists. The word is often associated with heretics or demon worshippers and the church has dispensation by most Kings to 'deal' with individuals they have 'proof' are atheists. An average person may not be very religious and perhaps dislike the gods, but everyone will look down upon an atheist with suspicion in their eyes if they don't start a lynch mob themselves to 'fix' her.
Atheists are very rare indeed, and the ones who are generally keep their ideas to themselves.
It is important to note that atheism is usually an opinion a person reaches if they have never seen anything to indicate that there are gods, or one that knows of magic and believes it's simply another mortal using this mystical power to appear to communicate with a god. In this setting atheists are very different from real world atheists since there objectively are gods in the world, and these atheists actively believe the opposite. Cultures of 'skeptics' and scientific thinkers are not prevalent in this world and this type of philosophy is not very well developed.
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