Church of the Circle of the Pendulum
This church encompasses the beliefs of the majority of the humanoids in the Kingdom of Aborl and the other lands. It is a singular religion with many religious orders that reflect that wide variety of human experiences.
The Church teaches that there was one goddess, the Lady of Spring, who created all. She is not omnipotent or omniscient, but is more powerful than any other entity in the cosmos. The Chuch does not teach about the Lady’s origins, though neither do they claim that she is eternal. Instead, the Church teaches that the origins of the Lady of Spring are unknowable. Many orders within the Church postulate an origin for the Lady, and this is acceptable to the Church, but the official theology remains neutral on the subject.
According to Church doctrine, the Lady formed the world and created a paradise where her children, the predecessors of the elves, dwarves, giants, dragons, and other creatures natural and magical, lived in harmony. But though all was perfect, her children did not thrive. They withered in the ease that paradise offered them. The Lady of Spring pondered this, and she finally arrived at a solution. She created the Lord of Autumn, a deity of power equal to her own but with a heart as dark and cold as winter. She let the Lord loose upon her world, and he created his own children (orcs, goblins, and gnolls) as well as perverted some of Lady’s (dragons and giants).
As their children struggled, so too did the Lady of Spring and the Lord of Autumn. And in this contest came the other lesser gods. Lady looked upon the world that she had wrought, one born out of conflict and loss, and was pleased. The world was not the paradise she had sought, but in this new world her children grew and thrived. In the struggle with the Lord’s minions, her children achieved ever greater heights.
The Church symbolizes this eternal struggle in the great Circular Pendulum that is the cornerstone of their doctrine. They believe that the pendulum swings in many directions, pushed by the struggles of the Lady and Lord. Each point on the circle represents a different state of being – war, peace, famine, storms, triumph, defeat, etc. – and that all of them will occur as they are meant to. A storm that knocks down a house is just as necessary as the serenity that follows, for both are necessary for a person to grow. Life is a cyclical struggle, and as one moves from one condition to another, one sees more of the truth of life.
Church Liturgy and the Gods
The church does not promote worship of either the Lady of Spring or the Lord of Fall, although it does not discourage it either. Instead the Church exists to worship the Great Pendulum in the form of the Gods of the Circle. Each god represents a “point” where the pendulum meets the circle, which represents the domain of that deity.
The Pendulum and Temple Architecture
The focus of every church or temple is the Pendulum, a circular area on the floor with a thurible suspended from the ceiling overhead. During a ceremony, the thurible will be filled with incense and lit, and it will be swung over the circle like a pendulum. Along the circumference of the circle are the names of many – though not necessarily all – the gods. The thurible will be very carfully mounted and swung so that its course will alternate between the gods and it will swing over their names rather than the spaces in between. Every ceremony starts with a short ritual (1 min, the incense being the material component) that enables the thurible to follow this route and to continue swinging throughout the remainder of the ceremony.
The leader of the ceremony will stand at the “head” of the circle, but outside of it just beyond the reach of the thurible. The “head” of the circle is an arbitrarily defined point, usually opposite the main entrance. If the chief priest of the temple is dedicated to a specific god, then usually – though not always – his deity’s name will be written at this point in larger letters than the other deities. Other priests or participants in the ceremony will stand around the circle in the gaps between the names of the gods, thus being avoided by the swinging thurible. Observers will be seated (or often stand, for poorer churches) in the half-circle opposite the head of the circle.
There is no prescribed size of the pendulum circle, though practicality usually dictates at least a six-foot diameter. The largest such circle is found in the Cathedral of Saint Garabor in Endrium. The circle is 42 feet in diameter and has multiple pendulums of different shapes that describe a complex dance when all are swung for the larger ceremonies. Most churches, however, have a diameter of between 8 to 15 feet and only a single pendulum. Due to the nature of the pendulum circle, Church temples are almost always circlular, though there is the occassional exception.
Wild Elves & Druids
Although the Church does not directly worship the Lady, there are others who do. The wild elves and the druids specifically worship the Lady in lieue of the other gods. They do not deny the existence or power of the gods, but they believe that the Chuch is mistaken in focusing on these deities. Instead they believe that truth comes only from nature, which is the manifestation of the Lady’s divinity. Although they use a pendulum in liturgy, the Lady’s name is inscribed in the center, and the thurible is allowed to slow to eventually come to rest above her name. Similar to the Church, they believe that struggle is necessary, but they believe that by overcoming their travails they can attain paradise. They believe that eventually the Lord of Autumn and his minions will be defeated, and this will lead to an eternal paradise throughout the world. However, they don’t believe in direct confrontation, but rather that one needs to endure by protecting the Lady’s great work (nature) until the Lord’s time is over. This belief is considered to be heretical by the Church, but except for a few isolated incidents, there has been little effort to suppress these beliefs. This is largely due to the lack of evangelism on the part of the druids or the wild elves. While they believe the Church is misguided, they do not view them as walking a wrong path, but rather a lesser path.