Kalder: Deities & Faiths Part 1

William T. Thrasher

The previous development diary about the people and nations of Kalder made several references to some of the setting’s religions, and with that in mind its time to take a deeper look into the divine as it relates to Kalder, its peoples, and their history.

Edarh of The Wheel – Also known as The Hand That Turns, worship of Edarh predates the cataclysm that sank East Kalder and extends back to a time before historical records. Edarh drives the Great Wheel that regulates the passage of time, the change of night into day, and the turning of the seasons. Edarh is also The Proctor of Fates, overseeing all of history from beginning to end and ensuring that the proper events (not necessarily the good or right events) happen at the appointed time.

Edarh is credited with teaching the peoples of Kalder the secrets of the calendar, naming the hours of the day, and divinely inspiring The Book of First Hours, the oldest known historical record of primordial Kalder. Edarh is also said to ensure each soul is born into the world at the proper time and sets the hour of every being’s death. Edarh also oversees the reincarnation of souls when a turning of The Wheel ordains an individual must return to Kalder to fulfill history’s purpose.

Worship of Edarh was common across all of Kalder until recent centuries, but Edarh is said to care little for worship. No one, neither mortal nor god, can escape the turning of The Wheel and the destiny it has set in motion.

In ancient times oracles, ascetics, and scholars leading independent congregations within isolated communities oversaw the worship of Edarh. This changed roughly one thousand years ago with the coming of The Prophet Hane. Hane, claiming divine guidance by Edarh, declared an end to the informal observance of The Hand That Turns and set down formal guidelines for worship, the interpretation of prophesy, the training and ordainment of clerics, and strictures for how best to live in accordance with the turning of The Wheel and serve ones purpose in the unspooling of history.

Hane also claimed Edarh revealed to him the location of the center of the universe, exact the point around which the entirely of creation turns. Hane was commanded to build a great temple at this location, but died before his vision was realized. It fell to his disciple Gren the Architect to lead Hane’s congregation to a hilltop in what would become Talice and there build the first Axial Tabernacle.

At this same time the disciple Tohn the Scrivener compiled the writings and sayings of Hane into the Book of Days and Years, the canonical text of modern Edarh worship. Despite the occasional crisis of faith and the exile of the Cynosure, the Axial Tabernacle remains the center of the Edarian faith.

Ahnwa – A goddess not so much worshipped as appeased, Ahnwa is the deity of the sea. Known as the Mother of Storms and the Shark Maiden, legend tells that at the dawn of time people of Kalder and the goddess Ahnwa existed together in a state of mutual respect. The people worshipped Ahnwa in the way they worshipped other gods, while Ahnwa offered up the bounty of the sea with the understanding that the two shared the shallow waters of Kalder’s bays and lagoons, but the waters of the deep oceans were Ahnwa’s alone.

This state of affairs was ended by the intervention of Kanyo, a folk hero who appears in the mythology of people all across Kalder. After eating seven stones to reduce his buoyancy, Kanyo sank to the bottom of the sea to live with the Shaper of Tides and becoming her consort. However, after a year and a day the ever-fickle Kanyo left Ahnwa’s undersea realm taking the secret of sailing with him. Ahnwa took the form of a shark to catch Kanyo and reclaim her secrets, but Kanyo outraced his former lover by vomiting up the seven stones and rocketing to the surface.

After returning to the land Kanyo gave the secret of sailing, navigation, and seamanship to the coastal peoples of Kalder. Ahnwa vowed that from this day forward she would send up terrible storms to wreck ships, drown sailors, and otherwise punish those who would use the secret Kanyo stole from her.

Ahnwa is not truly worshipped. Instead, she is appeased with prayer and sacrifice in the hopes that the seas remain calm and bountiful. Priests of Ahnwa act as go-betweens for mortals and the Eater of Pearls. They alone know the rites that satiate the goddess, and only they possess enough favor with the Scaled Empress to turn her wrath upon those who exploit or profane the open seas.

Incidentally, the seven stones vomited up by Kanyo were said to form the first seven islands of the Torc.

Horse Mother & Wolf Father – Worshipped almost exclusively among the people of the Kovahki Nations, Horse Mother and Wolf Father are credited with shaping all aspects of life upon the northern steppes. To human Kovahki, the names of these two deities is quite literal. In their oral tradition, Horse Mother and Wolf Father mated after chasing the sun below the horizon at the end of the first day. From this union Horse Mother birthed the first human and orc people. Wolf Father blessed these children with his strength and cunning, while Horse Mother gifted them with her stamina and the secret of horse riding and animal husbandry. To this day human Kovahki call horses Kov-Chal (literally “running sisters”).

Kovahki orcs tell a different story. By their reckoning Horse Mother and Wolf Father are dualistic deities, forever opposed to one another and forever engaged in an eternal chase of predator and prey. Orc shamans claim that Wolf Father caught Horse Mother only once, and in the terrible battle that followed time was split into night and day. In the end, Horse Mother escaped and Wolf Father was left to lick is wounds. From the rich earth where the blood of the two gods mingled sprang the first orcs. Wolf Father taught them the secret of the hunt and the language of the wolves who were their kin so that together they could join in the hunt for Horse Mother knowing that she would never be caught again, but that the eternal chase would sharpen the skills of the orcs and keep them strong. To this day orc Kovahki call wolves Mar-Koruk (literally “hunting brothers).

Kovahki celebrate their spiritual parents throughout the year at seasonal festivals, marriage ceremonies, funeral rites, and tribal gatherings. While human Kovahki traditionally hold Horse Mother and Wolf Father in equal regard, orcs typically favor Wolf Father as the eternal patriarch of their people. Kovahki consider it an ill omen if their campfires die down before one of the tribe recounts a tale of Horse Mother or Wolf Father. The tale of the day Wolf Father ate the moon and the tale of Horse Mother creating the first lakes in her hoof prints are particular favorites.

 

This entry was much longer than I expected, and there are still more gods and religions to cover. Turns out this is a two-parter. Check back soon for the second part of this series where we look into the gods of the elves, the Fortunate Lady, and the heresy that lead to the decline in Edarh worship and the exile of the Cynosure.