The Imperial Cult
The Imperial Cult dates back to the days of old Illara and has survived through thousands of years, strong even now, to the present. It is a pantheon of Gods that has watched over Humans, Azoth, and Eldani for eons and represent concepts of the natural world and traits of existence. While the composition of the pantheon has changed little over the millennia, the prominence of the Gods has shifted. In particular, Kel-Lares has become tremendously more notable since Illara went among the stars.
The Imperial Cult is followed not just in Illara, but that is where the majority of its worshippers live and where the Cult is headquartered.
The Cult is celebrated by many throughout Illara and the rest of the colonized worlds, and is thus regulated by a priesthood that teach of the lives of the Gods and their domains. These priests are known, colloquially, as Lumens. A Lumen is typically tasked to teach not only religious text, but also to instruct in basics of history and literacy and often serve as religious leaders in new colonies.
The Gods of Illara
Saltoran, God of the Sun
Saltoran ruled the lands of heaven and the other Gods. Shining high above the daylight lands he called for people to know Honor and Valor and so he would bless their works. Saltoran sees with an ancient wisdom and stands ever vigilant.
Lerita, Goddess of the Ocean
She is a savage Goddess, bringing Wrath upon her enemies and overseeing War in the mortal realms. Lerita is relentless in her pursuit of the wicked.
Genna, Lady of the Earth
Genna patrons the Farmers and lends Strength to their toil. Genna is also the Keeper of Time as the endless cycles of seasons turn. In this latter incarnation she can chastise even Kel-Lares should he stray from the requirements of an even handed Lord of Death.
Kel-Lares, God of the Night
Kel-Lares holds aloft the great Vault of Sky in endless struggle. He is the Moon and Stars that bring the Peace of solitude and thought. Kel-Lares is also the bringer of Hope as those who gaze upon him are inspired to new beginnings. But as the day turns to Night, he is the Lord of Death and gathers the souls of the departed. He is the strongest of all the Gods, even if Saltoran leads them.
Terus, God of Borders
Cartographers first learned their arts at his direction. Terus is said to wander the stars, mapping them. He is the Patron of Terminus Arcs and the Givicks.
Darok, God of the Home
He guards the sanctity of the hearth while ensuring the Purity of the souls within. Darok is the Protector, both in physical and spiritual matters.
Salendra, Goddess of Storms
Salendra is the daughter of Genna and Kel-Lares and travels between them on Wind and Lightning. She is also Patron of the Arts as those kept inside by difficult weather are wont to create. Salendra ushers in the Seasons of the year and while her moods wax and wane, she is devoted to her family.
Resika, Goddess of the Dark
Resika is deals struck in shadows and assassins sent to kill rivals. She is patron of those who would scheme and plot and a lover of Entropy. Resika and Saltoran battled in ages long past and she was cast out of heaven for her evil heart. Out among the ceaseless dark she gathered to her fell and sinister creatures, demonkind, and has made herself their God.
The Imperial Cult also reveres The Invictus as though they were the gods themselves. It is said that during the Great War word came to General Julia Dominica that the Dictator of Illara was planning treason. In great despair, she cast her eyes to the heavens and begged the Gods to save her beloved homeland. Saltoran gazed down upon the world and saw the crisis and chose to act. This moment, called The Blessing, changed the relationship of the Gods and Illara forever. For Saltoran infused his divine essence into Julia, transforming her into Invicta Maxima, the first God Upon The World. This Blessing allowed Julia, as Invicta Maxima, to rescue Illara out of treachery. By continuing to honour the Gods Upon the World, the Imperial Cult honours Invicta Maxima’s despair and sacrifice.
Household Gods and Patrons
In addition to the major Gods, Illara has household Gods and Patrons. Minor entities, these divine beings are unseen and rarely felt, but they will watch over a dwelling or family line. Typically, a family with a legend of a Patron Goddess will include her in their evening prayers, along with any household Gods they may have and, of course, the Invictus.
Throughout the world are stories of the spirits of the natural world. Inhabiting trees and rivers and mountains, these are called Lares and while they are rare, some few have seen their signs and portents. It is said that as Kel-Lares strains to hold the Vault of Sky from crashing down to the worlds below, some of the stars are shaken loose. They fall, as can be seen on some blessed nights, and when they come to the mortal realm they seek form and function and so invest themselves in the world they now inhabit.
Illara has a number of holidays, celebrations, and recurring events.
This festival is held every year in early spring and is devoted to the arts and cultures of the different worlds of the Republic. Typically those from a given planet get together to plan some kind of demonstration or performance appropriate to their homeland and showcase it for others. This can include poetry readings, oration contests, song and play festivals, dances, and all other forms of visual and performing arts. The world chosen as most distinguished of the year may give the opening oration at the beginning of the next year’s festival season.
Every year, in late spring, the Civil Administration sponsors a day of accolades and celebrations. On this day, those who have done great service to their communities and the empire are recognized and rewarded. It is also during this time that the yearly census is taken. Those who consider themselves religious hold a vigil that lasts through the evening that leads into the next morning, a sign that a new day has dawned upon the people of Illara; granted by Saltoran.
In the early fall communities gather to make an accounting, pay their taxes, and otherwise fulfill any unmet obligations. It is a more serious holiday centered around taking responsibility for any wrongs committed in the year previous. Trials are not uncommon during the Reckoning.
There is a legend of old that says that during the Reckoning, Genna would whisper to the Lares on earth and send them to visit people in their homes. Those who invited them in and treated them well were rewarded and those who spurned them were punished. In modern days, Genna’s Rite is often marked by neighbors visiting with each other, and strangers being invited into homes to enjoy Illaran hospitality. It is a time of prosperity and gratitude.
The Vigil of Kel-Lares
Held in late autumn, the Vigil of Kel-Lares is a holiday that came from the trials and devastation of the Starling War. In the aftermath of that terrible conflict, there arose a day to honor the many who had perished, military and civilian, Illaran and non-Illaran alike. However, rather than a somber affair, observation of the holiday is usually optimistic and cheerful. The Vigil is a time to be merry and exult that life continues to exist and thrive despite the horrors of the past. Legends tell of spirits of the dead who join in the festivities to laugh and dance and sing with the living before vanishing as mysteriously as they arrived.
Termina: February 1- Terus
The God of Borders smiles upon the cartographers who have spent the year charting out their homes and worlds beyond them. Illaran atlases, charts, and maps for the new year are released. A rather secular holiday, this day is spent in contemplation and reading. Children begin studying for exams, and it is often seen as an auspicious day for new apprenticeships.
Wellspring: April 1 - Kel-Lares
Kel-Lares brings forth hope and peace in the onset of spring. Memorials are held for not only important historical and political figures, but many Illarans take the beginning of spring to celebrate their ancestors, asking them for blessings. This holiday is celebrated during the days surrounding the full moon, when the God of Night can smile down upon them most readily. As time went on, this festival became one of the most widely celebrated.
Shieldwall: August 1- Darok
Military parades and exhibitions held in the hot summer sun followed by long evenings full of bonfires and fireworks mark the celebrations of Darok, God of the Home. This is a time for showing off your skill in martial prowess in tests of strength and tactics. Reenactments of famous battles have been known to be presented. A time of patriotism.
Ordinance: November 1- Resika
Among some of the Illarans, even the coming of the dark is something to celebrate. While Resika was cast out of the heavens, her domain still comes into power as winter sets in. It is at this time that plans are made for the coming year- positive or negative, as a means to balance the Goddess of the Dark’s love for chaos. More nefarious Illarans may see Ordinance as a time Resika smiles upon misdeeds.
Conclave of the Universal Sun
When the Republic of Illara first met other Nations and learned of their religions, the Lumens of the Imperial Cult were pleased to see similarities in some of them. Namely that worship of the Sun, or Suns, was common throughout the Many Worlds. While conflict arose as to which faith was the more true and right, many priests across the religions saw this as an opportunity to possibly gain insight through the sharing of theology and sacred texts. Thus was born the Conclave of the Universal Sun, a place of discussion, learning, and debate for the religions that recognize the primacy of the Sun. There the representatives from The Khezeratt and the Imperial Cult, along with more minor faiths such as the Skald of Heaven, meet and hope to glean insights from each other. The Conclave itself is located on the world of Ecclesios within the Republic of Illara.