Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Center Cannot Hold: Faiths: The Singer of the Song 1

A #Crux post this time.  I've been meaning to revisit some thoughts on various faiths in the setting, and this is the first one that came up.  I plan to continue this post, to create some faces and names to go along with the ideas going on.  The Singer of the Song, or Ariaism, is a faith about making the lives of others better through creating something beautiful.

For me, this is the whimsical part of the setting.  This exists because I love the idea of a religion like this.  What sort of whimsy do you end up putting into your settings and work?  I put this one in because I like the idea of a religion that openly claims to be selling a story.

"Church" of the Singer of the Song
Other Names: Ariaism, Melodism, Madrigalism
Names of the Singer: The City Mother, Queen Trickster, the Storyteller, The Lady of Song
Holy Symbol: Three Quarter Notes
Worshippers: Common people, Entertainers, Travelers
Holy Days: Lastsong, Charmsday, Tales Day

The Ariastic faith is one of oldest religions to be found in the Maru Sea.  Followers of the Singer of the Song believe that any sort of sin or evil can be prevented at its root.  Through song, art, stories or otherwise, individuals can be lifted up.  Entertainment can make people better.

Those who worship the Singer of the Song have three central tenets:
1. Sing the Song (a metaphor for creating art, whatever the medium).
2. Give it to the People.
3. Help the People to Sing Along.

Creation Myth
The universe is a Song.  Beautiful.  Perfect.

Before that song, there was Not.  Not isn't nothing, the absence of a thing.  Not, before the song, Not was the substance of nothing.

The Singer sung the universe into being.  But when she did, she created possibility.  To have possibility, one has to make some things unpossible.  Certainties were created; uncertainties, those became Not.  They weren't.

Within possibilities are the capacity for good and evil.  For want and satisfaction.  For love and hate.  The beauty of the world is meaningless without the other.  Yet there is always what cannot be told.

The Singer believed she had made a mistake in her first song, but refused to unsing it or stop.  She still sings that song.  When she ends it, so will the universe.  That song is in all things, and when embraced, that song can drive anyone to act with true harmony.

Cities are at the heart of civilization.  But that does not mean that Cities are a creation of lawmakers, politicians or bureaucrats.  A law did not create the first city.  No, the First Cities were born of a Song.

The City Mother is the one who sang that Song.  Her priests tell her story, of how she made the first cities by crafting a song about them.  She tricked other Gods and Monsters of all types, often to better the lives of mortals.  She was the one to first let Shraxes come to the World, and she was the first to trick the Black Rose into letting a soul come back from the dead.

Most give her a prayer when seeking a blessing while traveling through or doing anything within a City.  Her voice has influence over money, traffic and all the other myriad things that come with cities.  Her devoted followers are entertainers, Bards, Illusionists and Alchemists.  Those who seek song, seek out her Priests and Temples- her Temples are always also Taverns, Inns or Theaters.

Ariaism is decentralized.  Each priest or priestess is considered to be as valid as any member of their congregation.  Some do look at better artists or performers for leadership, but as a rule, even these leaders don't organize the church.  If you wish to become a priest of the Singer of the Song, you merely have to show the ability to sing or paint or tell a story.

That said, there are sects and particular roles that have grown out of Ariaism.  Its ancient roots have created many offshoots and particular traditions.  These roles may have their own particulars about membership, but they tend to work for themselves, not for anyone else.

Most relationships tend be either a mentor and her apprentices, often within a particular art.  Then there is also the relationship between audiences and performers.  Not all Clerics of the Singer pursue artistic or musical talents.  They gather audiences.  They speak with individuals.  They help even the poorest musician find food to eat.

Never truly a god of nobles or royalty, commoners and the middle-class of all races honor her.  It isn't uncommon for a small statuette of her to find her place in house shrines along with larger edifices honoring other deities.  Ursyklon, Tengu, even some of the fabled Aether-blooded have been known to carry a symbol of her along with their other gods.

The City Mother is often depicted as a young human woman carrying a fiddle with very short hair.  Her hair color and other characteristics often change based who is asked.  More than a few Tengu claim she has black hair with raven's feathers.  Northern Ironfolk from Ainesia give her blond hair and blue eyes, while Saltfolk from the southern seas call her hair green, and say she is blind.  It varies, but no one seems to care if they differ, often believing that her myriad of appearances are just another part of her stories.

Holidays, Rituals and Prayers
Lastsong is a holy day in late winter.  It tends to vary from city to city, but most often happens in the month of Newrose.  During Lastsong Ariastics sing songs of repentance.  It is encouraged for others to join in, but not always required.  Ariastics on Lastsong sing until the Sunrises.

During Lastsong, clerics forgive anyone who comes to them.  This is no matter the crime.  Clerics do not promise to not turn in those who've committed worse crimes.  They encourage them to go to authorities, to obey the law.  Unless they disagree with the law.

Tales Day marks a day in early spring, where Ariastics reverse the tables: audience members are pulled in, they sing the song, tell the story instead of the normal performers.  Even those who think they can escape getting roped into performing, often somehow are convinced to do so.  Ariastics, of course, always claim to use no charm magic whatsoever to do this.  Others disagree.

Charmsday, on the other hand, most cities tend to ban.  Diehard ariastics still practice it, although whether they use magic or not depends on the nature of the adherent.  During Charmsday, ariastics go out of their way to do matchmaking.  The goal is to help others connect to love, although some ariastics worry it crosses a line of some sort.

Within ariaism, there are a cadre of different roles.  Decentralized, some of these roles are even directly opposed to each other.

Divas are the Paladins of the Singers of the Song.  They follow their own strict code, even requiring all their members maintain the appearance of young women.  Divas take on the form of street corner performers, often taking advantage on being on the street to face down monsters or other threats to people around them.
Possible Diva Aspects: A Moment of Perfect Beauty; Street-Corner Diva; "Sing It For Them"

Gourmands are the Divas opposite.  Antipaladins, they focus on perfecting their art, sometimes to the point of obsession.  Gourmands create fabulous foods.  Sometimes they push any extreme when following the first tenet.  Sometimes what they choose as ingredients crosses some line.
Possible Gourmand Aspects: Food Is Life!; A Gourmand Never Rests; "Best With A Bit of Spleen."

Speakers are the closest thing to a inquisition that the Ariastics have.  Even then, they focus on helping provide for artists and performers.  Even though their preferred art is to write, they are attracted to helping others stories become known.  Speakers deal with printers, creating posters advertising Divas or new singers or whatever local ariastics need done.  As such, Speakers tend to be good with contacts and always able to scratch up enough cash to get a performance done.
Possible Speaker Aspects: Use My Words!; A Speaker's Job Is Never Done; "You Want to Hear Something Amazing?";