The Pantheon of Asharna
Holy Text: The Passages of Day and Night
Major Deities: Asharna, Caenverna, Draedean, Hephean, Juvixean, Laendur, Saedur, Traena
The pantheon of Asharna has been worshiped throughout most of the Known World since before the founding of the Great Dominion. Most scholars attribute the religion to the original human settlers of the Known World, who brought it with them from wherever they came from. Despite this, worship of this pantheon often appears more subdued than others. Most major cities host at least one temple to a diety of the pantheon, where believers worship sporadically, usually when desiring some favor of the gods themselves.
Asharnists see the gods as simply detached from the mortal world, not really championing any one human cause or the other. Those that lament properly for their sinful creation and offer the proper prayers and sacrifices, however, may earn the respect and admiration of one or more of the gods. Priests of the pantheon of Asharna seek to inspire this in the greater number of humanity, giving meaning to human existence and possibly being deemed a worthy (not just an accidental) addition to the universe.
According to the Passages of Day and Night, creation began with the lone god of Saedur, the emptiness of the void. For countless aeons Saedur existed alone, surrounded by nothingness until loneliness drove him to create Laendur, his female companion. After ages together, Saedur and Laendur chose to create others to exist with them; giving birth to Traena, who brought insight with her, Draedean, who brought order, Caenverna, who brought beauty, Juvixean, who brought comparison, and, at last, the twins Asharna and Hephean, who brought calmness and passion to the nothingness that was the universe.
Following these new births, the gods and goddesses worked together to fill the universe with every nonliving thing in it, happily working to outdo one another time and again. All except Juvixean, however. Cursed with insight into comparison, he always found his own creations lacking when compared to the others, and it pained him. Over the ages, he grew jealous of his siblings, foremost among them, the twins Asharna and Hephean, whose combined efforts were always the finest of all. Desiring that the twins should finally know the shame of being outdone by another, Juvixean spoke with Hephean, slowly convincing him to do as his father had, and bring more of their own kind into existance.
Once convinced, Hephean’s passion in the matter slowly turned Asharna around to the idea of what they felt would be their greatest work of all. Together, they brought all the lesser gods, mortals, and beasts into existence. However, just as the twins were weaker than their father, so too were Hephean and Asharna’s offspring. Furious for not being counseled on the matter of this creation, Saedur punished the twins, binding Hephean to the burning light of the sun, and Asharna to the cool serenity when its light was gone, keeping them apart forever. With that act, the creation of the universe ended, and the gods settled to see what would become of the twins’ mistake.
Symbol: A four-pointed star pointed at the cardinal directions on top of a four-pointed star pointed at diagonals.
Asharna is the goddess of the Heavens and night. One of the most widely-worshiped of the pantheon, she exudes calm serenity and always speaks for caution and restraint (her one mistake being the exception that proves the rule). She is widely worshiped by scholars and other studious individuals, as well as many venerable individuals (both high and low born) who have learned the value of caution.
Symbol: An open harp (or other stringed instrument).
As the goddess of beauty, Caenverna is the patroness of the arts and any other activity designed to bring the attractive or intriguing into the world. Many bards, painters, and poets pray to Caenverna regularly, seeking a spark of true artistic genius in return. It is important to note that she is a goddess of beauty, not love, and that she seeks to view and appreciate the aesthetically pleasing things in the universe, not to incite romantic passion.
Symbol: A water wheel (such as used at a mill), shown from the side, with water pouring into it (falling upwards) on the left and out (falling downwards) on the right.
Draedean is the god of order, organizing the universe. As such, he is also seen as the creator of time, and of barriers. Meticulous individuals are among the most devout followers of Draedean, as are many lawmakers and rulers. To him, the universe is a giant clockwork that needs constant tuning to remain in balance, and new things and concepts are dangerous to that order and best not made or discovered.
Symbol: A large circle, with eight lines appearing at each of the primary directions along its circumference, each curling outward, clockwise.
Typically, Hephean is associated with fire, the sun, and the day. At heart, though, he remains the god of passion, and exists as a polar opposite to his twin sister. Hephean always favors action over inaction, and respects trailblazers and forward-thinking individuals of all kinds. He is worshiped about as much as his sister is, and is the favored god of those who share his beliefs, including explorers, many adventurers, and young individuals yearning for change in their world.
Symbol: A knife, with a blade forking into two points just past the hilt.
Originally the god of comparison (or division), Juvixean has since become most closely associated with strife, jealousy, and vengeance. Bitter to the end, Juvixean fails to see his own strengths, instead recognizing only how others outshine him. It is not surprising that he is the favored diety of those that share a similar bleak outlook on life. He is openly worshiped in only a few locations, where his dedicated priests adhere that strife and jealousy are beneficial and essential parts of creation itself. Mostly, however, worship of Juvixean remains restricted to tiny, personal shrines crafted by his twisted followers as they pray to finally overcome those who stand above them. Of course, Juvixean sees his lack of worship as just one other way he has been outdone by his family.
Symbol: A crudely-drawn hoe (or other farm implement), handle down, in front of an archway.
Laendur is the goddess of fertility and the home, and receives only a small number of followers. She herself is a typical homebody, happy with what she has, and receiving joy from her family and companions. She often champions unlikely individuals, farmers and innkeepers who go about their work day after day, accomplishing nothing of great importance. This group also forms her primary worshipers. However, during fertility festivals, many young (and not-so-young) married women flock to Laendur’s temples, providing offerings as they seek her assistance in bearing their first child.
Symbol: Eight wavy lines (one at each primary direction) coming inward to a point in the middle.
Eldest and most powerful of the gods of the pantheon, Saedur receives surprisingly little worship, though he barely seems to notice. Technically the god of the void and darkness, Saedur seems even more detached from mortal concerns than the rest of his family. He does, however, show a fondness for those that create or direct, and is often the patron of builders and great leaders.
Symbol: A shield (flat on top, rounded on the bottom), with four arrows on it, pointing in the cardinal directions. Sometimes, a rising sun (with three rays coming from it) appears at the top of the shield.
Traena reigns as the goddess of insight, but is among the most complicated of the pantheon (save Draedean) to properly categorize. She is also associated with introspection, battle and tactics, and chaos itself. To say that her followers are varied is an understatement. Tinkerers, spellcrafters, generals, sages, theives, and anarchists can all be counted amongst her favored followers. She also has a strong following in Tiel’shar, where many noble knights and commanders pray for her guidance in upcoming battles.
Numerous minor and local gods and goddesses are worshiped throughout the Known World as part of the pantheon of Asharna. In fact, the gnomish gods Kimtharedin and Gaerval have become widely worshiped by Asharnists over the last several centuries.
The monks of Illucien follow a decidedly different, more spiritual path of Asharnism. Amongst these individuals, it is highly noted that mortals have a direct, godly lineage. Because of this, mortals are seen as semi-immortal and “climbing toward” godhood. Illucien monks believe that, although trapped in decaying bodies, all living things possess a divine spirit which is reincarnated over and over again. Mortals themselves lack the true understanding of the universe that the gods have, and must then use their multiple lives to seek enlightenment towards this understanding. Only then will a divine spirit become accepted among its divine brothers and sisters.
Although these individuals believe that all living things possess a divine spirit, not all followers of their faith believe in the equality of all mortal races. While some assure that this is true, just as many claim that sentient non-humans may actually be no different than animals, who possess a divine spirit, but can never hope to ascend to godhood.