The Faith of the Sun and Stars
I sat at the foot of the Hebdomad Prophet, I heard him reveal the truth and I wept. For I was abashed by the brilliance of the blessing. He looked at me and perceived my shame and he spoke, saying, “weep not, for there can be no shame in not recognizing the light for what it is when all you have ever known is the darkness”
- Master Solesh Ventra
The Faith of the Sun and Stars centers on the worship of Solesin Varinkhar, the Sun God. It is said that in ancient days He created the mortal species and set before them the task to attain perfection. In time He sent to them the Hebdomad Prophet who ventured among the Khezera and taught them the Seven Tenets of Light that would guide the universe to the Paths of the Stars. As the Khezera encountered other species in the Many Worlds, the enlightenment of the Sun God spread, and today the Faith of the Sun and Stars has spread to all Six Nations from its headquarters in the Palace of Radiant Light on the world of An-Tesh.
Legend says that in a time before the Fracture, the divided Khezera initiated a great Haj, a search for a homeworld. The Hebdomad Prophet had come and revealed a prophecy in seven parts. The disparate groups of people came together under the guidance of the Prophet and gained strength in the words revealed.
The first words of the prophecy tells of a great pilgrimage and flight from danger that would lead them to their home. A home that would test them and train them to be worthy of the blessings. After many trials, the Khezera’s journey across worlds ended with the discovery of An-Tesh. A desert world and birthplace of the Khezeratt of the Sun and Stars. A holy land where the brilliance of Solesin Varinkhar could burn away the weight of impurity and allow the soul’s perfection to shine true.
The Seven Tenets of Light
Central to the worship of Solesin Varinkhar are the Seven Tenets of Light. They teach the faithful how to comport themselves to achieve their potential and become worthy to walk the Paths of the Stars when they die. Much of the scholarship and discussion in the Sun and Stars centers around the interpretation of the Tenets and their application to daily, and extraordinary, events.
It is the way for the faithful to be pious and humble
It is the way of the faithful to maintain order in their lives so they may bring order to the lives of others.
It is the way of the faithful to manage what one has wisely and to provide for those who are less fortunate than you.
It is the way of the faithful to study and to always seek to improve the mind. One must be both the teacher for the young and the seeker of knowledge.
It is the way of the faithful to be just in their own heart and to seek justice for those who are defenseless under the law.
It is the way of the faithful to be strong in body and to know the arts of war. It is required that all be ready to stand and defend the defenseless.
It is the way of the faithful to appreciate beauty and the skill in the hand and mind that can create.
The Wisdom of Solesin Varinkhar
In addition to the Seven Tenets of Light, there are many teachings within the Sun and Stars. Some are the words of the Hebdomad Prophet, some are the words of divine inspiration from Sun-Kings and Sun-Queens of the Khezeratt of generations past.
“The Sun is both the source of all life and source of all blessings but the Sun is not without its dangers. To be caught in the sun without wisdom is to perish.”
“When the body dies the soul is set free of its confines. Without being blessed, it will drift forever in the void being nothing or, if it is blessed by Solesin Varinkhar, it can walk the Paths of the Stars and be forever within the radiance.”
“The way to the blessing is to become.”
“One must be better tomorrow than they were yesterday. Perfection is the goal of each moment and all failure is temporary.”
Religion and Government
As a theocracy, The Khezeratt’s religion and its government are intertwined. To move up the ranks in one is to move up in the other. This process culminates in the present day Sun-King who presides over the day to day lives of the citizenry as well as their immortal souls.
The Septenary Orders
All People of the Sun are considered a member of one of the seven orders that make up society and religion. Each Order deals with a different aspect of life in The Khezeratt and interacting with them is part and parcel of daily life for an average citizen. In addition to civic functions, the Orders each strive to master and teach one of the seven Ways of the Sun and Stars that combine to form a pathway to the soul’s ascension.
There is, however, a distinction between passive membership in an Order and becoming an active participant with sworn vows. Most People of the Sun go their entire lives without swearing vows to an Order, but doing so is a requisite to be able to rise through its ranks. Each Order has the same basic structure. Once the vow of service has been taken the individual becomes an Acolyte. Once the Acolyte has learned the basic lessons to carry out their duties within their Order they are eligible to become a Disciple. In turn, Priors oversee many Disciples. From there, the Orders use different ranks depending on their particular focus in The Khezeratt. For example, the Sixth Order has Brother and Sister Commanders who lead warriors into battle and the Second Order has Prelates who oversee large departments within the government’s bureaucracy. Each Order answers to a singular leader, called the Primus, who answers to the Sun-King. The Sun-King, himself, Primus of the First Order.
The First Order and the Way of Perfection
The First Order is dedicated purely to matters of religion. Its various priests are responsible for leading religious observances and daily benedictions to The Sun, Solesin Verakhar. They also preside over blessing the dead, tending to temples and shrines, and religious education.
The most sacred place to the First Order, and the entire Khezeratt, is the Crystal Prism atop the Temple of the Sun. It is the first thing touched by the rays of the morning sun and is the conduit by which the souls of the departed leave for the Paths of the Stars.
During High Holy Days the Sun-King himself will personally lead services, bringing the direct blessings of the heavens to his people.
The Second Order and the Way of Precision
The Second Order is charged with the task of administering the general bureaucracy of The Khezeratt. Members of the Order must balance the desires and needs of the various other Orders and the commandments of the Sun-King. As a result of this experience in finding compromise, The Second Order provides most of the diplomats of the Khezeratt.
The Third Order and the Way of Prosperity
The Third Order is in charge of all matters relating to economics, finance, currency, farming, and trade. They set rates of exchange, tariffs, taxes. They also make up the vast majority of merchant houses in the Khezeratt. All resource management and resource exploitation is derived through the Third Order, this includes all farming and animal husbandry.
The Fourth Order and the Way of Contemplation
The Fourth Order is made up of scholars, librarians, historians, and the students of the Arcane. All studies of the ancients are done by members of the fourth order and it’s the order that provides most of the man power for exploration.
The Fifth Order and the Way of Eminence
The Fifth Order is the order of the law. Those who enshrine the law, those who judge the guilty and those who prosecute or defend the judged. Magistrates, barristers, and clerks generally come from the Fifth Order. The Second and Fifth Orders often work directly together, sharing space in local government buildings.
The Sixth Order and the Way of Righteousness
The Sixth Order is the order of warriors, sorcerers, assassins, spies and generals. It is the Sixth Order that maintains protective forces among the Worlds of the Khezeratt and is answerable to the Second Order for maintaining order among the population in times of unrest. The Sixth Order works with the First Order to root out Heretics and those that work against the Sun-King.
The Seventh Order and the Way of the Muse
The Seventh Order is comprised of artists and craftsman of all kinds. Poets, sculptors, painters, coopers, masons, and a vast array of others all fall within the purview of the Seventh Order.
The Noontide Prayer
At noon every day, Acolytes of the Sun-King chant the benedictions for the living and read from the teachings of Hebdomad Prophet.
Rites of the Stars (Prayers for the Departed)
Initiation of the Path
Death is a natural course for the Khezera even with the Lapis Vitae. Death marks the beginning of a new journey. A journey that requires the highest state of grace that one can attain to begin. The blessing of the Stars is sought at sundown for those who have departed in a small ceremony for friends and family. This prayer is usually conducted soon after the passing of a loved one, though may be done from time to time to honor their memory.
The Moonless Mass
On every world in the Khezeratt and largely every world with a significant population of faithful there is a rite that is held for those who depart the living during the dark of the moonless nights. During these times Disciples of Solesin Verinkhar from the First Order hold a vigil to keep the spirits of the dead from being lost to the darkness. The Vigil lasts from sundown on the night of the new moon until sundown on the night that the first waxing sliver can be seen.
The Festival of Radiance
When the early Khezera left An-Tesh to settle other worlds and bring the word of the Sun-King they always kept a piece of An-Tesh in their hearts and in their Rites. The day of High Summer at the Palace in the city of Mandisa is a day of festivals throughout the worlds of the Khezeratt. The adoration of the Sun-King is professed and revelers make merry in the streets. This is one of the few times that the Sun-King himself comes forth to lead the Noontide Prayer. He opens the festivals with a special benediction at noon.
Originally as the settlers went forth from An-Tesh, it was mandated that all the revelries were to begin at the same time throughout the worlds but that ended up causing many issues as day/night cycles differed. Eventually the custom was established that the Festival would always be celebrated on a particular world at noon for them, though always on the day that marked High Summer in the Palace of Radiant Light as that day is made particularly sacred with the involvement of the Sun-King.
The Festival of Wintersborn
Like the rebirth of spring from bleakness of winter, it is only through struggle and often failure that we can achieve success. Wintersborn is a time of reflection and reevaluation. It is a time when people are to take an uncompromising look their faith and determine if they could be better and do better in the coming year. It is customary for the faithful to seek out those who they may have wronged in the past and to lay aside grudges or seek atonement for failures. It is not wholly a day of penance, however. It is also customary to speak of one's successes in the past year and to receive due praise and to praise others for their successes. To set new goals for the coming year and commit to helping others achieve theirs. Many great undertakings are announced and dedicated during the Wintersborn ceremonies and often out of these rites comes a deep sense of faith and sense of commitment to one's community. The Festival of Wintersborn is celebrated across the Many Worlds on the same day; when midwinter falls upon the Palace of Radiant Light.
People of Note
The Hebdomad Prophet
Master Solesh Ventra was a prophet that lived during the great Haj. It was he who brought the trichotomy together in the depths of remembered time to join as one people united in the belief that only through great toil and improvement of the self could the soul be blessed and walk the Paths of the Stars forever in death. His prophecy told of a world that would test the Bodies, Minds, and Spirits of every person and through lifelong tests of will would anneal them into their best selves. By striving for perfection and working to be better every day their soul would be granted the blessings of the Sun. Master Solesh Ventra is referred to as the Hebdomad Prophet because it was he who foretold that the Khezera would order themselves by the seventh part and together, each of the seven orders would govern all parts of life.
The Sun-King leads the Khezeratt, in accordance with the teachings of the Hebdomad Prophet, from the Palace on An-Tesh. Forty-nine years ago the Sun-Queen passed away peacefully in her bed at the venerable age of sixty-four. Over the course of the next year the People of the Sun mourned her passing and celebrated her soul’s passage to the Paths of the Stars. Afterwards, it was time for a new ruler. In a process spanning weeks, and the dozens of worlds of the Khezeratt, the Sun-King was elected by avowed members of the First Order and the Primuses of the other six. In sacred rites he left behind his old identity, Order, and name and took up the mantle of Primus of the First Order, Keeper of the Way of Perfection, Speaker of the Hebdomad Prophecies, and Guardian of the Way of the Sun and Stars.
Conclave of the Universal Sun
When the Khezeratt of the Sun and Stars first met other Nations among the Many Worlds, they were gratified that the Sun was central to the faiths of many. However, there was a grave concern that Solesin Varinkhar, the Sun-God, was a name unknown to these other worlds. That their worship was flawed and ignorant. At the same time, religious scholars of the Fourth Order were excited at the possibility to learn new insights and perhaps even solve long-standing mysteries.
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; a source of some tension among the proud faithful of the Sun and Stars who believe it should be within the domain of the Sun-King.
One of the mysteries that had long stymied the faithful of the Sun and Stars was the provenance of demons. Sacred texts were mute on the origins of these irritating creatures that pestered the People of the Sun and the rest of the Many Worlds. But with the establishment of the Conclave and the sharing of theology there is a growing belief within the Sun-God’s faithful that an explanation has been found in the documents of the Imperial Cult. Resika, the Cult’s Goddess of the Dark, is said to be the master of demonkind. Is it possible, wonder many within the Sun and Stars, that she was some enemy of the Sun-God, Solesin Varinkhar, cast down by Him millenia ago, and is the source of demons? That the Illarans mistook the visage and nature of the Sun-God and called Him by a different name, but perhaps were close to where Resika fell in a dark corner of the universe and so preserved knowledge of her.