Rem-kha Religion (Age of Titans Supplement)
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This religion uses the Expanded Religions (DnD Variant Rule) variant. Within the framework of that variant, it is a "combination" religion, with Taoism as the primary religion mixed with elements of Polytheism and Spiritism. It is not easily apparent as a Taoist religion; most outside of Spyre believe it to be primarily polytheist, but as a Taoist religion, its adherents are naturally reincarnated upon their death, and the monk class is available to practitioners of this religion.
The humans native to this land are actually called “Rem-kha.” A translation of this is often simply, “The People” or “The Souls” and reflects the unique attitude and culture of Spyreans. Though Rem-kha is used by most to distinguish the specific sub-race of humans, for those in Spyre it is often used to mean any subject of Spyre, anyone on a spiritual path, or a priest of any religion. Consequently, it confuses most outsiders, adding to the mysterious nature of this land and the many legends surrounding it. For purposes of this article, Rem-kha will refer to the kingdom/region of Spyre as a unique cultural whole instead of the specific sub-race of humans that dominate the region, unless noted otherwise.
Rem-kha Religion is a complicated balance of Hierarchical religious authorities, mystical gurus, and common religion.
The Egyptian Pantheon (see; Deities and Demigods) is worshipped in Rem-kha culture. Each god or goddess has their own particular cult centered on their worship and rituals. Often times, priests will belong to two or more cults, holding different offices within them. Rituals are an integral part of daily life in Spyre, and priests are needed in the running of almost every aspect of life to one degree or another.
Rem-kha culture is centered around its religion and particularly its complicated ritual system. There are many public and national rituals; (such as the crowning of the Pharaoh); daily worship activities (Adorations of Ra); life transitioning rituals (death and birth); and rituals for daily activities (bathing and cleaning). Many individuals create their own private rituals for daily use, and these rituals are often passed on from generation to generation forming family rituals and often result in the honoring of familial spirits. Animals are considered to have souls or spirits just as humans, and are often honored as familiar spirits in households. Of animals, hawks, cats, and jackals are some of the most important in Rem-kha religion. Most households contain shrines or personal temples spaces where worship and/or magical rites are performed.
There are 3 distinct and often secluded aspects of Rem-kha religion. The most common form is that seen by the majority of people entering into Spyre, and is practiced by the common members of society. This aspect of Rem-kha religion is often termed “common religion” by the priests of the gods. Common religion is concerned with the day-to-day activities of living such as; success of crops, birth and death, running a household, purification of water, marriage, business, etc. For most of these activities a priest is not necessary or is optional, with lay members or individuals performing their own rites. For example, Khenu, a common worker in Lower Spyre, is building a house with his family. He performs several rituals throughout the process including rites for fair weather, banishing of snakes and scorpions, and good health for those who abide within. He might call in a priest for a final consecration after the construction, or he and his family may perform an invocation written by an ancient and venerated ancestor, even invoking his or her presence for aid. Perhaps Khenu will choose to erect a small shrine in the house to honor a particular god, goddess (such as Isis or Hathor), or ancestor and will almost certainly have a place set aside for worship and other rites performed by him or his family members.
Common religion also contains common spells (see; Rem-kha (DnD Race)). These are not spells as cast by a wizard or sorcerer, but arcane spells specific to this region used by commoners or those with no levels of an arcane spell-casting class. They are not assured success as spells are, but instead are dependent upon the ardor of the caster. These spells are often passed on within the family or between associates (from one carpenter to another). They cover anything from healing spells (scorpion bites, diseases), abjuration spells (banishing evil spirits, protection from evil magic), conjuration spells (summoning spirits or elementals for aid), divination (scrying, etc), enchantment (consecrating items, love spells), evocation (destruction spells, curses), illusion (hide or conceal objects or people from others), Necromancy (communicate with dead, raise dead), and transmutation (transformation of image, beauty spells). These spells are mostly tolerated, though there are laws against using magic for evil (cursing another or love charms for example). Their effectiveness is not very great, and usually the effects created by these spells are no stronger than 2nd level effects. However, almost every person in Spyre practices magic to some degree or another. The priests and wizards often look down on these spells as “low magic” or “common magic.”
The next level of religion in Rem-kha culture is called “Priestly Religion.” Priests of any god and serving any function are highly revered in Rem-kha culture. The structure of the priesthood is hierarchical and aspirants are called upon to pass certain initiations before even being accepted to the priesthood, and each time they advance in the “mysteries of the light” or the “mysteries of the gods.” This aspect of the religion touches upon the mystical aspect of Rem-kha culture, but is also intimately connected with the many public and governmental rituals needed in Spyre. Priests are expected to dedicated a certain amount of their time to deepening their understanding of the mysteries. While the temples maintain a hierarchical authority structure, there is little in established theology or doctrine. Instead, a series of legends or stories are collected and used as the basis for rituals. Each legend is thought to contain hidden secrets that are revealed by deep study and meditation to those with the desire to see past their superficial nature. For example, Khenu the common worker might be just as familiar with the legend of Horus’ revenge against Set for the murder of his father as Aken-dar a priest of Horus. However, Aken-dar might emphasize the hidden meaning of the legend, and its reference to the spiritual life of an “initiate” or one who is on the path to enlightenment. An initiate in Rem-kha culture is not always a Rem-kha priest, and is not even always one familiar with their religion in its aspects of gods and legends.
Priests or Clerics in Spyre are instead called initiates and often wield a mixture of divine and arcane magic classes. In Rem-kha culture, arcane magic and divine magic are nearly indistinguishable and are often considered two sides of the same coin. Most divine casters have some at least one level in an arcane casting class, and most arcane spell casters have at least one level in a divine casting class. These Initiates are concerned more with understanding the nature of the mystery of existence through the many legends of their gods, while at the same time performing the needed tasks of running the Kingdom.
The final class of religion in Spyre is that of the Elus Cohen meaning “Elect or Chosen Priests”. These are the initiates who have passed through the grades of their order or orders (the temple which they have joined) and achieved a mystical union or communication with their personal “higher self” “angel” or “god.” The literature available to those outside this class is esoteric and difficult to understand, but the basic principle rests on the belief that somehow every mortal being is but a reflection of the infinite (called THE ALL in many sacred texts) and exists like a thought in the mind of THE ALL. Through a mystical process perhaps carried out over many lifetimes this soul or “kha” of an individual is reunited to the infinite source in a personal manner often personified in a being perceived as external and referred to as their “angel” or “god” but is in fact their true self, the mortal self being but a shell, vehicle, or garment for the infinite. This is the aspect of the religion which is most clearly Taoist.
This is demonstrated in the Rem-kha political structure where the Pharaoh is considered to be the bodily vehicle of Ra-Horakhty, the ruling deity of the Pharaonic pantheon. To outsiders, this seems quite strange and even blasphemous when the Pharaoh degrees “I am the morning and evening star! I am ruler of the solar boat and conqueror of darkness!” In this state, he is speaking not as the mortal being who ascended to the throne, but as the god whom he identifies as. Many Elu Cohen exist in Spyre, but not all are involved with the mystery cults or government. In fact, many prefer a life of solitude or even a nomadic life. Each High Priest of each god is, however, an Elu Cohen though they may not have that deity as their “higher self.”