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Faiths of Graecia
Graecia is a land of many, many Ancestors but historically worship was centred on a great twelve known as the Olympians, with other Ancestors serving as aspects, servants or shards. The membership of the twelve has always been fluid, as Ancestors have waxed and waned in power; servant have become master or son or daughter have eclipsed their father.
The greatest example of this was the overthrowing of the Titans in the distant pre-history of Graecia, in which Zeus cast down his father Kronos from the heavens and took his place. Chained and locked away in the deepest pits of the Underworld the Titans have never forgotten this insult and plot and scheme to take back what was once theirs. Indeed Titan cults have plagued Graecia for centuries as the disenfrancised and dispossessed have little reason to support the status quo.
Further threats come in the form of Orphism, a near-monotheistic faith which promotes Dionysus (or his alternative forms such as Zagreus or Bacchus) as the one true Ancestor of Graecia. In recent times this threat has been very real as the followers of Bacchus nearly succeeded in enforcing a Theocracy of their own, a never-ending Bacchanalia in which opposition was either ruthlessly crushed or left too drunk to care.
The three most powerful Graecian Ancestors are worshipped as a Triarchy and control the Heavens, Oceans & the Underworld between them. These three domains are more than physical aspects of the Ancestoral Realm but embody such concepts as Law, Chaos, Wealth, Justice and Destruction. In recent times the Triarchy have become increasingly important to the point of superceeding the other Olympians authority. This is due to the pressure to amalgamate faiths from an artifact known as the Screaming Stone. However the fiercely individualistic temples and cults of Graecia meant that minor Ancestors still make their presense felt more than minor Ancestors from other lands even in open opposition to their patrons amongst the Triarchy.
The Triarchy, ever since the overthrow of the Titans, were the three brothers Hades, Poseidon & Zeus. However the tumultuous events following the cataclysm had thrown the Graecian ancestral realm into disarray to the extent that the very Fates felt it neccessary to intervene. They entrusted the great and good of Graecia to choose a new Triarchy to being stability to the Graecian pantheon
... and so it came to pass that wise Athene, favoured daughter of Zeus now sits upon her fathers throne in Mount Olympus, whilst and Poseidon has returned to his. Athene faces many challenges, not least the anger of Ancestors such as Ares and Bacchus who wished to claim a seat on the Triachy for themselves, but she at least has the support of Zeus, who seemed pleased that his favoured child would succeed him.
Rumblings of discontent are however far from many immortal minds as the great three-headed Hellhound Cerburus has been said to have been released from his masters chains with a taste for Ancestor flesh.
To be continued...
Athene, Matriarch of the Heavens
The Lady of Battle and Ancestor of Wisdom, Athene represents order and wise council. Whilst also a war ancestor she has nothing in common with the brash Ares and her priests are advocates of strategy and forethought.
During times of peace, her faith is instrumental in developing the fortification of Graecian cities and towns to better protect the nationís citizens. Her temples are universal across Graecia but Athene is particularly venerated in Attika, Argolis and Laconia, with the centre of her faith based in Athens. Atheneís symbol is the ever vigilant owl.
Poseidon, Patriarch of the Seas
The great Lord of the Sea, Poseidon claims every ocean, gulf and inlet as his own and also the creatures that dwell within. His priests are approached before any great sea voyage to prevent the great lord from taking offense and scuttling the pesky mortals. Poseidonís faith is often at odds against that of his brother Hades, for they claim all souls as theirs that are lost to the sea, something which is anathema to the Hadians.
His faith is centred in the great naval ports of Korinth and Piraecus, although he is a very important figure to fisherman and sailors across Graecia. His symbol is the trident.
Hades/Cerberus (the Lord of the Underworld in Exile & the Three-Headed Terror of Tartarus)
The Underworld is in termoil. The River Styx is dammed with screaming souls not quite alive and not quite dead for Cerberus is free and his former master blooded and in exile. The fabric of Hades' existance hangs on a mere thread. No one sits upon the Throne of the Underworld, no one would dare whilst the Beast stalks its shattered halls.
This all came about when Cerberus was gifted Hades' flute which would normally send him to slumber. He is now his own master.
In (perhaps) happier times the former followers of Hades were violently opposed to the Unliving, as they stood accused of literally cheating their master of his subjects. Just grim lawfulness seems almost pleasant now.
As Hadesí underworld realm was often associated with mineral wealth, he remains the patron of miners and the accumulation of fortunes. His priests, despite or perhaps because of their macabre outlook, had a deep respect for truth and order and were valued as judges. His symbol is the helm of darkness, which grants invisibility to its master.
The former Lord of the Olympians, now having stepped aside to see his daughter, Athene, in his place. He still represents thunder and the sky; his temples bestride the highest mounts of Graecia so that nothing can evade the all-fathers gaze.
His faith remains universally respected throughout Graecia and maintains places of worship across the nation. His priests can act as a unifying force in an otherwise divided land. His symbols are the thunderbolt, the eagle and the oak and his priests often weave these symbols into their clothes to identify their allegiance.
The Queen and yet also elder sister of Zeus, the faith of Hera chafes under the restrictive rule of the all-father and in some ways acts as its main rival. Whilst they share the Zeusists love of high places, the Temple of Hera is a committed matriarchy, devoted to punishing men for their sins, although the faith proclaims to be more interested in promoting both marriage and easing childbirth.
Her faith is strong in Argolis, Euboea and Laconia and in these states is sometimes more venerated than Zeus. Her symbol is the peacock and her priestesses maintain great flocks in homage to their mistress.
The Earth-Mother, Keeper of the Harvests and Lady of the Seasons; Demeterís faith is an old, secretive faith far removed from the more city-bound faiths. Her priests profess to look after the wellbeing of the countries crops and agriculture, but behind closed doors tales of human sacrifice abound.
Demeterís faithful are distrustful of the faith of Hades, whose ancestor they accuse of kidnapping the Earth-Motherís only daughter and in her sadness, ushering in the cold of winter. Her enigmatic faith is widespread amongst the more rural folk of Graecia, but is centred in western Attika of which her followers partake of a yearly pilgrimage known as the Mysteries of Eleusis. Her symbols are the cornucopia, representing her bountiful harvest and also the poppy, to hide away her pain.
Lord of the Sun, Patriarch of the Oracle of Delphi, Ancestor of Medicine and yet Bringer of Plague. Apollo is a multi-faceted deity with a diverse and extensive following. His faith is centred in the great marble expanses of Delphi and also upon the island of Rhodos, where he is known as Apollo Flamor, ancestor of the Temple of Light.
He fathered Asclepius, the Lord of Healers and sometimes they are said to be one and the same. Asclepiusí faith is based in Epidavros, in eastern Argolis and from there they maintain shrines and hospitals known as Asclepieions to safeguard the wellbeing of the nation. Apolloís symbols are the lyre, the raven and also the silver bow, from which he fires arrows of disease and poison.
Twin sister to Apollo and Maiden of the Moonlight Night, Artemis is the patron of hunters, foresters and (it is said in the hushed tones of frightened townsfolk) werekin. The faith of Artemis is a rustic one, its priests and priestesses are guardians of the wild.
Most of Artemisí faithful can be found in the heavily forested western reaches of Graecia, but in the cities she is sometimes worshipped in conjunction with her twin brother; especially on the Isle of Rhodos, where to the Temple of Light she is known as Artemis Safire. Her symbols are the deer and the cypress tree.
The Lord of War, the Harbinger of Destruction; Ares, in all his violent rage, is the ancestor the Graecians call upon to summon their anger. His priests are brutal and uncompromising and gather around scenes of strife and conflict to whip up the combatants into a frenzy.
Aresí faith is popular amongst soldiers, but less so with their leadership who find him uncouth and uncultured. He is most popular in northern Graecia as his unsubtly appeals to the savage northerners who live in Macedonia, Thrace and Bithynia. His symbol is the boar.
The Guardian of Magic, Lord of Merchants and yet also the Prince of Thieves; faith in Dark Hermes is a multi-faceted thing, as hard to pin down as the Ancestor himself. He is popular in the great cities of Korinth and Troy and yet also in the rural states of Achaea and Messinia.
His faith include a great number of magi who call themselves the Hermetics and guard ritual and transport circles in supposedly the nationís interest. However, with their monopoly of magical travel within Graecia complete, they have been known to drive a hard bargain in coin or services for their use. Hermesí symbols are the Tortoise and the Caduceus which, in Hermetic Lore, is said to bring peace to the dead.
The Lord of Wine and Merriment; Dionysusí drunken following of satyrs and other layabouts crash around Graecia upsetting festival after festival and causing chaos in their wake. His priests dedicate their lives to whipping up the faithful into an ecstatic frenzy of dance and song.
The only true temples of Dionysusí are the tavernas and drinking holes where his following can get closer to their Lord at the bottom of a glass. Dionysusí symbols are the grapevine and the Thyrsus, a pine cone-topped staff covered with ivy leaves.
The Patron of Artisans and the Lord of Fire, Hephaestus is worshiped by the weapon smiths, sculptors and armourers of Graecia. They claim their Lord to be greatest smith who ever lived, capable of crafting the greatest of arms and armour within his divine forge.
His priesthood try and emulate their Lordís prowess and are nearly always weapon smiths and armourers themselves. They provide the very best weapons in the land and are highly sort after for their work. Hephaestusís symbols are the hammer and the anvil.
The Lady of Pleasure, Aphroditeís faith promotes the Graecians basest needs and revels in them. Aphrodite is said to be so beautiful that upon seeing her men pluck out their eyes in desiring her to be the last thing they ever see.
Aphroditeís priesthood build Temples in her name amongst all the great cities of Graecia, but the centre of her faith is within debauched Korinth. There they offer courtesans to the rich, whores to the poor and themselves to those who can afford it. Her symbol is the Dolphin, said to have guided the great Lady to Graeciaís shores.
The Mistress of the Eternal Night, Patron of Witches and Matriarch of the Restless Dead, the tripartite Hekate is distrusted and despised. Her worshippers are secretive and often work to undermine the faiths of other ancestors to further the glory of their Lady. Hekate stands apart from the Graecian pantheon and it is whispered, sometimes all too loudly, that her true loyalty lies with awakening the Titans.
Hekate maintains no public temples in her name and her followers gather unseen far away from prying eyes. She has an affiliation to crossroads which are somehow important to her faith. Her symbols are a dog and a set of keys, some say to unlock the way to the underworld.
The Lady of the Hearth is quiet and reserved compared to her compariots, but is still considered amongst the greatest. Her domain is to tending the eternal flames of Olympos so that they are never put out.
The cult of Hestia is small, but Graecians believe that every hearth and campfire to cook and keep warm at night is dedicated to her. She takes a special interest in the protection of virgins. Her symbol is the eternal fire.
Pan, the son of Hermes and Lord of the Deepest Woods; in times past Pan was ridiculed by the other Graecian ancestors for being weak and so plots and plans their downfall. He has a large following amongst the Pelasgi and the Satyrs, but no organised religion. His faithful live in the most obscure groves and glens of Graecia, locked deep within the forests and for the most part keep to themselves.
His symbol is the panpipes, said to bring madness and death to those that hear them.