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St. Olæ Cathedral
|Addindr of Bjergsted, according to Lhedwinic tradition|
|Lhedwinic (Dialects: Rigjordic), Newreyan, Vrnallian, Lilledic, Nausikaan|
Trúathi, or Truathism (Old Dalish: Trúaði) is a monotheistic religion of mostly Lhedwinic origin based on the the teachings and written works of the theologian and philosopher Addindr of Bjergsted. Worldwide membership surpassed 7.5 million in 2018. Truathism is one of the largest religions in the world and one of the two dominant religions in Asura. Mortality, human awareness of mortality, veneration of the dead, and a type of reverence towards death have served as the central focus of the Trúathi faith. Trauthism has played a prominent role in both Lhedwinic and Asuran history.
Credited with the founding of the religion, Addindr lived most of his life on Lhedwin, despite numerous excursions into mainland Asura. It is believed that Addindr composed most of his writings in a small city along the modern borders of Glanodel and Navack, known as Kvia. Borrowing from South Asuran languages during his travels, he named his body of work the Edda. Believed to be derived from the Fiorentine term kredda (or credo) meaning "to believe," or "I believe", the most commonly accepted translation for Edda is "our creed". It is believed that Addindr's work on the Edda began at the end of the 9th century and was completed in 893. By the 10th century, the Edda had become the basis for a new system of beliefs officially adopted by the Kingdom of Glanodel. Rooted in the dominant, native pagan beliefs of the region, neighboring Lhedwinic cultures quickly followed suit over the next century. By the 11th century, most of the Lhedwin Isles had converted to Truathism. A prevailing sentiment during the religion's earlier existence ("the greater the difficulty in life, the greater the reward in paradise") led to encouragement among most early Truathist states of violence and war. It is worth noting that modern Truathist churches also, both condoned and supported the expansionist nationalism and imperialistic ideologies of the imperial era.
Trautists espouse the stories, moral teachings, and religious practices explained within the Edda which is the foundation of the Trauthist theology. Divided into three "books" (bók), the Edda includes: the story of Truathist God, the origins of death and the afterlife, and God's relationship with humanity, found in the Sögumbók ("Book of Stories"); a collection of stories and moral lessons defining Trauthist morality and ethics, found in the Fróðabók ("Book of Wisdom"); and, a collection of political theses, guides for civil and criminal law, the organizational structure of the church, and advocacy for a limited monarchy (prior to the concept of a constitutional monarchy) and decentralized state (prior to the concept of a confederation), found in the Thjóðinbók (originally "Þjóðinbók"; tr. "Book of the People", or "Book of the Nation"). Throughout its history, Truathism has survived regional schisms and numerous theological disputes which have resulted in several adjustments in the majority beliefs of the religion as a whole. Most Truathists assert that the Edda is a product of divine inspiration. They believe that God appeared on Aeia shortly after the beginning, during the "Eternal Quagmire" (primordial chaos), which God ended with the creation of time and ævi (a finite lifespan, mortality). They further maintain that God exhausted her physical form after the creation of time, divine servants, and paradise, leading to her physical death, but in dying, was first to enter eternity and opened the way for the rest of humanity.
With most of its worship practices, rituals, and traditions based upon the interpretations of the Edda, Truathi has many different modes of thought. This being said, most sects of Truathi have four, core beliefs held by the vast majority of the Truathist population.
In the first chapter of the Sögumbók ("Book of Stories"), the first book of the Edda, the creation story is described as follows:
1. In the beginning, there was only strife. The bodies of man ached, and their hearts weighed heavy with fear, jealousy, and hate. They fought endlessly, brother against brother, father against son, stuck in the Eternal Quagmire. 2. In their despair, a man offered a serpent to the sun and prayed for strength. A woman offered a reed to the sun and prayed for joy. 3. Feeling pity for the sadness that had overtaken the world, God came to Aeia, born from these two, the mother and father of all. 4. God ordered Aeia, and supplanted the chaos with peace. 5. God made divine servants, guides to lead followers in obedience to Her. The lady, Freyja; the shepherd, Óðinn; many gods and angels. 6. God made women mothers and she made men protectors. Thus God created hope and joy in the hearts of mankind. 7. Finally, God took away endless time from man. 8. Then God set out to create a new world where the souls of man could rest after life. And so she was the first to experience the end, and the first to enter paradise.
A great deal of the original Truathist ontology is based upon these first eight versus of the Sögumbók. One key difference between the creation stories of other major religions, and the creation story of Trauthism is that God is never explicitly attributed with the creation of the universe, the world, or humanity. According to theologians, God's existence coincides with humanity's, if not longer, given that the texts say she was able to "feel pity" for the human condition prior to her intervention.
Most theologians believe that the being who visited Aeia, who was born of two humans, was in fact an incarnation of the God worshiped by Truathists. Since roughly the 14th century, Alföðr (tr. "All-Father") has most commonly been used to refer to the incarnation's father, and Nanna (tr. "The Darling One"), has most commonly been used to refer to her mother. Furthermore, they believe that this was a necessary step God made in order to "experience death" and "pave the way for all future souls to enter the afterlife", which was her last creation (paradise) and is the key to humanity's salvation and reprieve from the struggles of life.
Because most Truathist theologians agree that the universe, Aeia, and life came into existence prior to the events recounted in the Sögumbók, evolution and the big bang have received minimal resistance from Truathists as answers to the origins of the universe and life; however, most Truathists still maintain that God most likely existed prior to the universe.
One topic of controversy has been the creation of divine servants by God to aid Her and mankind in guiding those who sought out salvation. The two beings created by God who are mentioned by name, Freyja and Óðinn, can be traced back to the native gods worshiped by early Lhedwinic cultures. It is believed that as a result of Alydian influence, these beings were "demoted" to entities similar to angels when monotheistic theologies became more prevalent during the 9th century. Another fiercely debated subject within Truathism was the criteria by which one is judged to determine one's admission into "paradise".
It is also worth noting that early Truathists acknowledged the key role that ritualistic sacrifice played in the birth of God and thus, acknowledged it, as well as witchcraft as important aspects of society. Although the practice of human sacrifice was condemned by the Fróðabók ("Book of Wisdom"), the sacrificing of animals and burning of charms and small possessions were common until the 15th century.
God and divine servants
Religious scholars share some consensus regarding aspects of the nature of God. Almost all Truathists believe that God is the immortal, omniscient being which has existed since the beginning of humanity (at least), and visited Aeia in the form of an incarnation most commonly referred to as Embla, the Savior. While there is still debate over whether or not God predates the universe, the most prevalent belief is that She did bear witness to the beginning and has witnessed all of human existence. Additionally, while still disputed, most Truathists believe that God is omnipotent. Most Truathists also believe God is both transcendent (ultimately independent of the material universe) and immanent (taking concern with, and actively involved in the world). Truathist theology regarding God's involvement in human affairs typically reject pantheistic beliefs but accept the simultaneous divinity and mortality of God's incarnation, Embla.
In the original texts, God also creates divine servants to aid her in guiding her followers. According to the Edda, the first two divine beings created by God, who are mentioned specifically by name, are Freyja and Óðinn. Many historians and anthropologists trace their origins to the folk gods of native, Lhedwinic paganism. Later being adopted as divine servants of a monotheistic god, these two figures appear frequently to act on Her behalf, after she passes on to paradise.
Freyja (referred to as feminine) is considered the first servant of God and her name loosely translates to "the lady". She is referred to as the the lady, which is believed to be in reference to her role as the "lady of the people", intended to help spread the word of God and is depicted throughout much of the Sögumbók teaching humans of God and her sacrifices for humanity. Freyja is generally depicted as a fair, young woman who resides in the woods and is most commonly seen as a healer, tending to the sick.
Óðinn is considered the second servant of God and his name loosely translates to "mind, wit, soul, sense". He is referred to as the "shepherd god" and is generally depicted as a tall, pale man dressed in a black or gray cloak. He is usually wielding a scythe representing the "sting of death" and a lantern known as the Heimdallr, or "world-brightener", which represents the "beckoning light of the otherworld". Óðinn is described in later stories in more detail as the guide for souls who have passed on, ushering them into Paradise. In modern times, the Lantern of God is the symbol most commonly associated with the Truathi faith, and is perhaps the most recognizable symbol of Truathism.
Later texts reference a plethora of other servants who were created by God to aid her and her two greatest servants in guiding mankind. Some are given names, such as Máni ("Guardian of the Night") and Baldr ("Guardian of the Day"); while others are simply referred to by titles, such as "The Careful One" and "The Battle-Bringer".
Truathist eschatology is one of the most important subjects within Truathist theology, having to do with the end of an individual life and the end of the world, and has been a matter of great controversy for a variety of reasons. Since the religion was first adopted by the majority of the Lhedwinic population and its countries, theologians have struggled with the fact that there are no references throughout the Edda that explicitly state requirements for entering paradise beyond simply death (in stark contrast to most Asuran religions). Additionally, there are no references to an apocalypse, although many Truathists accept a version of an apocalypse similar to the story in Alydianism.
As a central focus of Truathist theology, there have been numerous theories regarding the nature of paradise, human existence beyond death, and how one is granted passage into the afterlife. Referred to by name in the Sögumbók, the Truathist afterlife is known as Náhöll ("Nahalla", literally "hall of the dead").
Since its establishment in the 10th century and its subsequent rise to prominence, Truathists make up the majority of the religious population throughout the Lhedwin Isles, and was adopted as the state religion by most of the region's nations by the 11th century. The collection of writings known as the Edda is still the religion's most significant, holy document, and outlines in the Fróðabók ("Book of Wisdom") the proper structuring of the church and the necessary practices and rituals for all citizens.
While religious practices of most faiths tend to vary from region to region, Truathist practices appear to be especially diverse. This is primarily attributed to the prominence of the presbyterian model of church governance. This system advocates a decentralized system of oversight, whereby church actions and practices are established by local "elders", referred to as presbyters.
Organization and governance
Trauthist churches generally use a conciliar method of church government (leadership by a council). Presbyters and "elders" govern together as a group, and collectively exercise oversight over the local congregation, with higher elders gathered on a regional basis exercising wider oversight. Each church is generally headed by a group of ministers, who are most frequently elected by the congregation of the church they oversee. These ministers, in turn, elect a member of their church or a peer to serve as the elder of their church. These elders are the most senior officials within the local area and usually gather on both a local level and a regional level. A council of elders is usually the governing body over a sub-division of a nation (a state, province, canton). These councils elect a peer to serve as that division's Bishop.
Bishops, the most senior members of their region, hold seats within a "council of bishops", which span nation-wide. From each of these councils, there is usually a single bishop chosen through various means to serve as the nation's "archbishop". The archbishop is the highest office within the Trauthist church and deals directly with the churches of other nations and another nation's council of bishops. They are also responsible for breaking ties when a council of bishops cannot agree on a course of action.
Although exact organizational structures and governing practices vary by church and nation, especially in how officials are elected, this is the basic structure followed by most Truathist churches.
Within the millions of churches around the world, one can find a plethora of liturgical and other traditional practices, generally referred to as rites (Standard Lhedwinic: riter). This diversity of practices reflects the historical and cultural traditions of each region rather than differences in belief.
Perhaps the most commonly practiced among most Truathist churches is the Mass. Mass is administered by the church elders and generally held at specific, preordained times and days (weekly mass, Yule Mass, etc.). A mass is usually called to vote for church leadership.
Charity has also become a central tenet of the Truathist faith within the past century. Its rise in importance within the Truathist church has resulted in a liturgical practices known as the rite of compassion. Most devout Truathists undergo a rite of passage after reaching the age of 16 by which they spend a year "serving the people". The exact way in which this requirement is met varies from church to church and even country to country, but serving food to, building homes for, or providing other opportunities and services to the disadvantaged are the most common. Many Trauthist churches will not let a member vote in church elections before they complete this rite of passage.
Although far less common today, offerings of food and small tokens are still fairly common among some Truathists, especially in rural areas. Many adherents still fill bowls with milk, pieces of fruit, and even ask for members of the clergy to bless coins and small trinkets in order to place them upon alters to God and her servants in the hopes of pleasing them and gaining their favor.
In modern times, however, prayer is the most common way for adherents to attempt communing with God. The most commonly accepted ceremonial gesture for prayer within the Truathist tradition is to place one's flattened hands together with the palms touching. Generally, one also bows their head and usually touches their forehead with their index fingers or thumbs. In modern times, the act of prayer outside of large, religious gatherings, is considered a very private affair and most Truathists do not perform this ritual in public.
Sanctity of Life
The official Truathist stance is, "Life, the experiences we gain from being a part of the world and of humanity, are necessary and essential to spiritual fulfillment. One cannot be expected to appreciate the gift of Paradise without understanding why Paradise is a gift." This position is generally referred to as the "Sanctity of Life" and as a result, has made suicide and abortion major issues within most Truathist political platforms. By-in-large, most Truathists are oppose to the expansion of access to assisted suicide and abortion.
Trúathi has also had a profound influence on Lhedwinic politics and its many interpretations have led to support for a variety of policies such as social welfare, public hospitals, environmentalism, social conservatism, laissez-faire capitalism, and federalism. There are several political parties throughout the world which claim to officially represent the Trúathi theology.