History - Church

The worship of Peoni is as old as the earth, though it has increased in sophistication with the passage of time. Modern theologians believe that these early cults had Peoni as their common object, regardless of the name by which they called her. It is in the nature of Peonians to seek the common ground with others. They tend to celebrate the discovery of a new aspect of the goddess, rather than fight over the rightness of views. Even before the unification of the church, those who worshiped the many aspects of Peoni were friendly toward each other.

The first visitation of the Aerlathos occurred circa 600 BT. The Aerlathos were four prophets, one from the north, one from the south, east, and west. Two were men, two women. Each had the same vision that "who worship of the cycles of earth shall be as one."

At this time, many of the followers of Peoni had fallen from the true ways by introducing elements of violence and retribution into their rituals. Some had even introduced human or animal sacrifice into their rites, offering blood to enrich the soil. Ceremonies often devolved into orgiastic revels. The Aerlathos were summoned by Peoni to renew the purity of her followers.

The four preached eloquently, appealing to the common man , and made their separate ways over several years to the center of the world. Everywhere they went, the crops were blessed. Word spread of their pilgrimage, and Peonians celebrated their newfound unity. By the time the four simultaneously reached the tiny village of Perna, there were several thousand clerics in their train to witness the ceremony of renewal. The four, who had never met, spoke in perfect unison of the need to reconsecrate the priesthood to the principles of the Lady of Labors. They blessed the priests before them, one of whom they chose to preside over their double wedding, which was symbolic of the unity of the church. The Aerlathos were transported to Valon but not before they promised three more visitations that would occur "When the terror of war shall beset thee and the congregations shall as babes put aside their faith for bright trinkets."

The one they chose to marry them was named Alamarel, a pious and humble woman. To her fell the task of continuing the work of the Aerlathos, and she became the first pontiff, Hapalan, of the church. The marriage was symbolic of the great task she now undertook. The clerics assembled in Perna built a temple to the glory of Peoni. A few stayed and would form the nucleus of the central church, but most went home to finish the work of unification.

Before the Aerlathos, word of Peoni spread by mendicant clerics dependent on the charity of simple farmers. They built no temples, preaching oneness with the earth and purity of virtue. Alamarel encouraged the proliferation of temples to be supported by the voluntary tithes of the laity. Their purpose was to provide a sanctuary for the pruification and education of priests.

Perhaps the most important element in post-unification doctrine was the principle of automatic forgiveness. The idea that any sin, no matter how heinous, could be mended through confession by the simple act of sincere contrition set the church apart from other religions. Another element was the fallibility of the priesthood. Peoni's clerics were accorded respect, but it was recognized that they were human beings and as such would necessarily sin. Even the pontiff, while possessed of special wisdom, was fallible. The purpose of the church was to help the individual commune with his conscience, a manifestation of Peoni's will that men possessed. If Peoni exists in some measure within all beings, then all life is sacred and is capable of finding its true place in the scheme of things.

Priests of the early church are remembered for their saintly patience and superhuman energy in the face of persecution. Many were martyred by those who rejected their doctrine. This kind of sacrifice earned respect for the church from all quarters. The gentleness of Peonian theology and the belief that all sins can be forgiven made the church attractive to those forsaken by other gods.

No church honors its martyrs more than the Peonians. Hundreds of shrines and temples are built to commemorate the acts of the pious. Many mark their graves, the sites of their births or deaths, or the places where they performed the acts which made them saints. Their lives are examples of behavior. Their stories are used as parables of virtue, but they are not divine, merely mortals men and women who transcended their sinful natures and earned their honored places in the fields of Valon. They all performed some act of sacrifice to benefit the deity, the church, or their fellows. They were motivated by the desire to do right for its own sake, never for any reward in the mortal plane or the afterlife.

The early church had no central authority. The hundreds of wandering disciples recognized no authority between the deity and themselves. It was with the founding of the temple of Perna, and the selection of the first pontiff, Alamarel, that a central body came into being, according to tradition, in 594 BT. The Ecumenical Council of Perna in 293 TR created the Peonian Hapalanate and established the current structure of the church.

The division of the Peonian church into separate and equal celibate male and female orders dates from about 400 BT and was designed to conserve the spiritual purity of the Ebasethe in the face of sexual temptation. It probably developed in part as a response to the hedonistic orgies that typified some ceremonies of pre-Aerlathos Peonian worship.

History - True

Earth and fertility cults have been common among the human tribes of Lythia for as long as men have farmed and kept livestock, if not longer. The concept of the maternal soil evolved with the growth of agriculture. As people refined their agricultural practices, worship of the earth became more organized, combining many of the early cults with more sophisticated techniques.

The Church of Peoni developed primarilly from the traditions of the Jarind people of Lythia. Many remnants of this ancestral mythology and ritual remain within the Church, though some aspects are considered apochryphal or heretical. Recognized Church practice and folk belief varies widely across western Lythia, and this results from the different mixing of beliefs and practices in different regions.

Though best known for their settlement of Harn, the Jarind were a widespread people during the third and second millenia BT. They were never unified, and their culture and religious beliefs showed an equivalent diversity. Their deities were for the most part, immediate and incarnate, spirits and heroes. They worshipped the fertility of healing springs, the strength of the mountains, the power of he great rivers, the bounty of tree and forest, various beast entities, and their favored chiefs and magicians. These were local powers, worshipped by a single tribe or within a single region.

There was an amorphous pantheon of gods and greater spirits, and they are outlined below as they were generally known around 2000 BT. Some were primordial in nature, but most were portrayed as exemplars of their aspect, interest, or skill. Their stories often lay somewhere between grand myth and humble folk tale. Every tribe did not follow or even speak of every deity listed here, and their names varied widely. Note the prominance of magical cauldrons and that in some stories these took the form of magical springs.

ARTHOR was the mighty bear god.

BABH was the goddess of war and violence, and she took the form of a raven.

BAELIS was a god of purity and oaths. Even the gods made their pledges in his name. Any untruth caused him great sorrow, and every tear was said to weaken the world. He becomes the modern Saint Belsirasin.

BEL was a mysterious entity, often met at springs or the mouth of a cave. Ketha was his wife.

BELISAMA was the goddess of fire, primarilly in its raging, unpredicatble aspect, though her many benefits were also acknowledged.

BRIGYTH guarded the Cauldron of Inspiration, and she herself dispensed much lore to mortals, including most crafts and the art of poetry. In some tales, she is the only goddess with the skill to purify other gods who have become tainted or grievously dishonored in some way.

BRON was the giant king of distant haunted lands and could sail to the lands of the dead. He guarded the Cauldron of Life. He battled the children of Tir. He was finally beheaded, but his head remained alive for many years, able to prophesy.

DAGYD was the god of fate and a master of all skills. He guarded the Cauldron of Plenty and his playing of a magical harp caused the seasons to turn.

DEON taught women the power of wild plants and how to cultivate crops. Women taught the second skill to men. She was served by the once lusty Malmo the Ox and by Tira the Healer. Deon became the modern Peoni, as will be outlined below. Her primary servants become Maermal the Ox and Tirrala the Healer.

DWYNWEN was a god of passion and celebration. His powerful music drew listeners, and his kisses were said to become singing love birds. Yselde is his wife.

GOBANNON was the smith of the gods and their greatest builder. He armed his peers during their many conflicts, and all sought his good favor and recognized the power of his magic. Not least in significance, in some traditions, he brews the Mead of Immortality.

HAON was the god of the great sea, and every bay and wave was his descendant. His best known children were Bron and Manawydd.

HUS was an enigmatic god of the forest primeval, which some modern scholars have attempted to link with Siem or one his servants.

IBON the Seafarer ferried the souls of the dead across the sea to Annwn.

KEFLYN was a goddess of plenty and often appeared as a horse.

KETHA was the goddess of the world. She was all that is and rarely appears herself in any story. Bel is her husband.

KHRUN taught humans to speak and later to write. He invented Khruni script. He was the most skilled speaker and writer and was said to "chain his tongue to his listeners' ears."

KOLINO was the god of the sun, an eager and youthful character. He was often said to be the son of Yael and Olfar.

KORA was a goddess of the wilderness. She sometimes appeared as a boar or as a volutuous nude woman riding a giant boar.

KUNUNO was a great traveler, creative and inventive, the high chief or king of the gods. He was antlered like a stag. Tir was his wife His companions were serpents, rams, bulls, and stags.

MAHR was an evil spirit or goddess who brought nightmares and troubling visions to mortals.

MALMO was a bull god, the strongest of the gods, who battled fearsome monsters. In his most fearsome battle, an evil spriti tore his third horn from his brow and castrated him. Deon was able to save his life with her healing powers, and he served her ever afterward. He was always accompanied by three cranes.

MANAWYDD was the king of Beyond, the land of the dead, sometimes known as Falon or Annwn. He had three legs and was a shepherd and shoemaker. He joined the children of Tir in their battles with innumerable evil spirits and gods, including his own brother Bron. He built a castle of the bones of defeated enemies. He was an accomplished magician and fashioned arms and armor of great power and protection. He had a magic ship that could sail through any storm and upon land or in the sky. He protected sailors, fishermen, traverlers, and merchants.

MORGAN was a goddess of doom and appeared to warriors before their death in battle.

OLFAR was a deity of mysterious origin and the acknowledged master, as exemplified in many stories, of all skills, magical and mundane. It was he that created humans (and perhaps other intelligent life), awakening them from trees. He created many of the other wondrous creatures and features of the world. Some were deliberately fashioned, while others were accidental or by-products of some other act or, as in one case, the results of work while inebriated. The identity of the last varied with tradition, sometimes an animal of ridiculous appearance, sometimes the neighboring tribe. Olfar rode in a chariot driven by Coch the Wain Master. Through a complex metamorphosis, Olfar becomes the modern Ilvir. See Ilvir article.

ORGA always bore his axe with which to clear forest land. He was a creature of the wilds himself and was always doing his mighty work beyond the lands of humans. Many tribes hung in trees human sacrifices to him.

SORAN was an ancient horseman who rode through storms and slew monsters and evil spirits. He was himself very dangerous to encounter and bore some resemblance to both Sarajin and to Skarak in ancient Pharic mythology (see Larani article).

TIR is the earth goddess, mother of all life and guardian of the dead. She is stern but also loves her many children. The Tirga River in Quarphor may take its name from her. In most traditions her children were Deon, Gobannon, and Yael, and they were in conflict with the children of Haon.

The WHITE GODDESS was the unapproachable pure warrior woman. See Larani article.

YAEL was the moon goddess. The stars of the far north were believed to be her castle.

YSELDE was the goddess of love, helping lovers to find peaceful union. Dwynwen is her husband.

There were also many magical creatures that roamed the land, some beneficial and friendly, and many dangerous. Nymphs watched over rocks, water, forests, and the winds. Every mortal had an invisible spiritual companion that guarded it from danger. There were stories of marsh lights, goblins, werewolves, and giants. Lesser Fay (detailed below) inhabited home, barn, croft, field, pasture, orchard, cellar, and the wilderness.

There were a number of epic tales concerning these divine characters. Most were shared by a majority of the Jarind tribes, though names and detailed again varied dramatically. The Children of Tir Cycle was widespread and told of the battles and compromises of the gods of civilization and their maleficent enemies, especially the giant Bron. Their alliances and actions throughout the story resulted in the world as the Jarind knew it.

The Olfar Cycle was popualr among northern and central tribes. It tells of this gods initial appearance as a mischevous troublemaker, cast out repeatedly for the trouble he causes. He seduces the icy Yael, fatherig Kolino the Sun in some accounts. He travels to the domain of Brigyth and learns much knowledge and wisdom from her. He returns to Deon, courts her, and finally wins her hand in marriage. He becomes a great, wise, honorable chief. He dies at the end of the saga, battling a great enemy of his people, usually death, but it is known that he will return with the plenty of each spring and the birth of each new child.

Many tribes had a tradition of the saga of Lu, though his name varied dramatically. Born of divine lineage or perhaps the first man, he went through a series of trials for his people, becoming a master of all skills and a great chief. He glowed with power and was too radiant to be faced by his enemies. He bore fantastic weapons, some of his own making, others acquired during his adventures. He is in many ways a more moral incarnation of Kununo and Olfar, bringing structure, safety, and the benefits of civilization to his people through his own actions and sacrifices.

Whatever chronological sequence there was to these many stories implies that the magic of the world was gradually diminishing, that people grew more crass with each passing age, that the old powes are passing away from mortal ken. The Jarind, though, certainly enjoyed their physical existance and celebrated it in their culture and religion.

It is from this background that the modern worship and Church of Peoni has evolved. A chronology is given below. Two calendars are given. Tuzyn Reckoning acts as the standard and notes all true events. TR dates events from the founding of the Kingdom of Melderyn, TuzynUs home. BT indicates dates before this event.

The calendar used for Church records is also shown. This lists events according to Church doctrine. Peonians believe that events preceeding the reforms of the Aerlathos occured in the First Age (FA). Events since then are in the current Second Age (SA). A few heretics, preaching subsequent returns by the Aerlathos, use a different calendar, if any.

Note that there is a great deal of overlap between the two calendars, with some noteworthy exceptions. Where the two calendars record the same event but on a different time scale, the Church calendar date is marked with a star (*).

TR Church Calendar Event
4600BT 1 FA Date of the Creation, according to conventional Peonian doctrine.
2000BT 2600 FA Deon is a goddess of shepherds and secondarily (after Tir) of agriculture and domestic arts.
1900BT 2700 FA Local Jarind build first shrine to Deon at Perna.
1300BT 3300 FA Deon has supplanted Tir as the agriculture goddess. Jarind begin to abandon Quarphor to the advancing Phari.
605 BT 3996 FA The Four Aerlathos begin their journeys to Perna.
600 BT 1 SA Age of the Aerlathos begins. Deon becomes more commonly known as Peoni. In the wake of the Pharic migrations, Jarind contacts are renewed across western Lythia. Phari have come to accept Peoni as the earth goddess, though they have introduced numerous variations. The Phari recognize the priests and priestess of Peoni as having subtle prophetic powers, and they are respected for this, though it brings them little temporal power. Perna is renewed and becomes a center of scholarship and development for spritual leaders from the "four corners of the earth."
594 BT 7 SA Alamarel becomes the first Hapalan.
500BT 100 SA Age of Martyrs begins. As Peonians spread their reformed, elaborated faith, they encounter a number of obstacles. There is great resistance to the reforms in some areas. Pharic respect for Peonians declines, resulting in some persecution. Encounters with alien traditions in Azeryan and beyond have mixed results, though generally the teachings of the gentle goddess are incorporated into the cultures of many lands.
400 BT 200 SA Orderial priests and priestesses are separated by gender in many areas.
300 BT 300 SA Gods and spirits of older traditions have mostly become saints in Peonian tradition.
200 BT 400 SA Scriptural collations begin at Perna and elsewhere, providing the first written records and the earliest canon of Church history and teachings.
7 TR 607 SA Ecumenical Council of Perna develops the Doctrine of Holy Virginity and Monocreation, declaring that though it may be believed by some that Peoni has born children, she remains virginal.
124 TR 724 SA Ecumenical Council of Perna codifies the canon of saints.
203 TR 803 SA Ecumenical Council of Perna codifies the Church calendar.
293 TR 893 SA Ecumenical Council of Perna issues a number of reforms, including the formation of the Pelclunia and the modern geographical organization of the Church.
352 TR 952 SA Ecumenical Council of Perna promulgates Doctrine of the Transcendent Goddess, recognizing Peoni's unique divinity in relation to her servants. This debate took place in the context of the Church being in rapidly increasing contact with other major institutional Churches.
392 TR 992 SA Millenialist movements trouble the Church over the next decade.
432 TR 1032 SA Ecumenical Council of Perna issues the Policy of Noninterference and Cooperation, limiting the Church's role in politics.
555 TR 1155 SA Ecumenical Council of Perna reforms ritual practice but allows for regional diversity.

HRT : Peoni
Last updated: 27 February 2001 by Jamie 'Trotsky' Revell