While there are several minor religions in Themble, about 85% of the population follow Raviekanism. The religion is centered around the singular deity, Ravieka. Followers of Ravieka are called Raviekans.
It is believed that Ravieka was once a divine being of ultimate power, a being of pure consciousness and magic. Ravieka desired to be something more, to release some of their power and see what might happen. With a single thought, stars began to burn, planets were sculpted, and Ravieka created the universe.
The empty canyons and quiet forests were not enough. Ravieka wanted to know what it would be like to experience these worlds for themselves, in the lives of intelligent beings. The great rolling ball of energy separated a little bit of their consciousness and a good portion of their magic. And so, the Fey were created, creatures of supreme magic, with the power to raise mountains and destroy cities. However, the Fey were cruel, filled with the most basic of emotions, incapable of love or mercy. Ravieka was not displeased with the Fey, and loved their first creation. They loved being witness to and a part of each of the Fey’s lives, from the Greater Fey to the smallest sprite.
Yet, Ravieka saw that Fey were incapable of innovation or compassion, and Ravieka saw the opportunity to create something more balanced. So, they took more of their consciousness and a bit of the magic that was left. The civilized took their first breaths. They looked around them and saw possibilities, and began to create.
Now much smaller, Ravieka admired the unbridled emotions of the Fey, and the intelligence and inventiveness of the civilized. As the Fey and civilized were made of Ravieka, the diety was a part of each living creature, existing as they existed, thinking what they thought, and experiencing every life as their own. Ravieka wondered what it would be like, however, to live existence as a creature who relied on their instincts, and yet, could feel compassion, love, and sympathy. To be a creature that was simple in its wonderment, its anger, and its fear. With the last of their consciousness and nearly all of their remaining magic, Ravieka created the mundane. The animals lived every day as if it was their first and their last.
Without a consciousness to create intelligent beings, the last of Ravieka’s magic bloomed and blossomed, branching out into the trees, the grass, and the corals. Ravieka lived on within each creature, experiencing every adventure, every struggle, every heartbreak, and every love. Ravieka adored their creations, and every time a creature died, instead of returning back into Ravieka’s original form, the diety chose to be reborn, again and again, on the worlds it had created.
Life is believed to be a gift from Ravieka. Whether a creature is Fey, civilized, or mundane, they are to be seen as equal, as they all have the essence of Ravieka in them. This essence is often called a “spark.” In Raviekanism, the focus is not to necessarily worship Ravieka, but rather to provide Ravieka with the best experience. Therefore, one does not only focus on purely on the Raviekan spark within themselves, but through all living creatures. Everyone is all connected. A balance of community and individualism is encouraged, where a Raviekan not only improves their own life, but the life of others. Charity, compassion, and forgiveness are defining traits of a Raviekan, as well as courage, ambition, and diligence.
It is believed that to a certain aspect, Ravieka can still control the universe and the lives it is a part of. Ravienkans pray to the deity in the hopes of a good crop yield, protecting their loved ones, or bringing fortune upon themselves. When their prayers are not answered, it is assumed that Ravieka was concentrating on something more important. Fate or predestination is not generally believed in.
When someone dies, it is believed that both their consciousness and their magic are returned to Ravieka, where it is redistributed to newborn creatures. Just because one is dies as a civilized, averaging magical creature, does not mean that one will be reincarnated as another civilized, or even magical, creature. It is believed that by living a fulfilling life, that Ravieka will consider one’s wishes where part of one’s consciousness and magic goes into the next life. Before their death, one may wish that part of their magic goes into an oak tree, or the relatives and loved ones may pray for a particular form after death.
Rebirth is not immediate, as for a eternal deity, time is less immediate. Therefore, a grandchild who has qualities of their late grandparent may have some of the grandparent’s consciousness or affinity for magic, even if the grandchild is born forty years after the grandparent died. Before their consciousness and magic is redistributed, Ravieka may allow one to chose to do singular small deed. It is often believed that a moment of fortune, a miracle, or a beautiful sight, such as a gorgeous sunset, is a gift from a dead loved one before they are reborn.
A life filled with selfishness or crime is often thought to lead to a less desirable reincarnation, although the religion does not lean on this fear to encourage good behavior from its followers. Reviakan priests focus on the beauty of Ravieka’s creation and improving the lives of the living, rather than threatening a terrible future life on those who have less than desirable habits or characteristics. Raviekan’s focus on the quality of one’s life, and generally do not judge those who do not believe in Ravieka, since it is more important that the consciousness and magic of Ravieka have an excellent life than having Ravieka be recognized and praised. One’s character is much more important than one’s belief. No mundane animal can understand Ravieka, and they are still entrusted with excellent care and slaughtered quickly and humanely.
Those who inflict pain or suffering on others are supposed to be taught compassion and empathy by others, but the laws of Themble do not have the same merciful approach as the ideal Raviekan. Warfare and Raviekanism are two conflicting ideals that are often not analyzed, due to the uncomfortable questions that can be easier to avoid. This does not necessarily mean warfare is correct, or Raviekanism wrong. It is simply that sometimes, people do not wish to acknowledge hypocrisy.
Methods of Worship
Ravieka is primarily prayed to via symbolic statues. Since it is believed that Ravieka can be any and all creatures, these statues can be any creature, from purely civilized creatures like dragons, to purely mundane creatures like fish. These statues all share two features. The first is that the statue’s eyes are shut, or, in the case of creatures with no eyelids like fish and snakes, have no pupils. In Themblise art, a creature is portrayed with pupils pointing in any direction to show they are civilized, or with centered pupils if mundane. Therefore, by having closed eyes or no pupils, the statues encompass both Ravieka’s civilized and mundane forms, even if the creature the statue portrays may only be mundane, like a fish.
The other feature are the two runes on the forehead and neck of the statue. The rune that is painted or sculpted on the forehead is symbolic for “growth”. This rune symbolizes the mind, and how with a thought Ravieka created the universe. It is supposed to act as a reminder that the mind can control one’s actions, instead of impulse, and act with forethought and purpose. The rune on the neck is the symbol for “decay”. It is aimed to be a reminder that words can be poison, and without guidance, lies and hurtful words can cause destruction. It is also meant to represent that with a whisper, Ravieka has the power to recall their consciousness and magic. This is not meant as a threat, but simply a reminder that nothing lasts forever, including ourselves. Together, the two runes symbolize the cycle of death and rebirth. Neither rune has any magical properties without being used in a charm. For instance, outside of religion, the rune for “growth” is used with other runes in charms that aim to increase the fertilization of soil or increase a creature’s fertility. The rune for “decay” is used with other runes (especially those which increase heat) to create charms that decompose matter, often used in compost, as well as in sewers.
The statues vary wildly depending on who owns and created the statue. Some statues are works of art, sculpted from marble or cast in gold. Others are made out of clay or wood, simple yet recognizable. Temple statues are often life-size to the creature being portrayed (including full-sized dragons) to the pocket-sized versions carried by soldiers. The statues can be unpainted or painted, but they rarely wear any sort of adornment, such as collars or necklaces, as this would portray them as civilized or mundane. Statues made by priests are popular, as it is believed that by being made by the hands of such as passionate follower, then Ravieka will pay more attention to prayers aimed at it.
Raviekans do not believe that the statues are Ravieka, or have any of the consciousness or magic of Ravieka in them, outside of any magic placed on the statue for charms. Instead, the statues are a symbol, and act as a visual focus for prayer, as well as a reminder that Ravieka can come in all forms. It is often recommended by priests that the household statue is not the same specie as the house’s occupants, to remind them of this message. This is to discourage racism and increase compassion and community involvement across species.
Each Raviekan building has at least one statue, which is usually kept in the main room. They are typically kept near windows or entrances, so that Ravieka may be reminded of sunshine, but also to remind thieves of their morals. The average height of a statue is 5-7 inches tall, with the most common material being clay. The statues are not treated with reverence, but with the fondness and love placed towards a respected member of the family. The statues are greeted with a deep bow, and a “Good morning, Ravieka.” or “Thank you for the rain, Ravieka.” is often said both in passing or as an introduction to prayer. When praying, it is common to bow in front of the statue during the duration of the prayer, although closed nor open eyes are required. However, prayers do not have to be said to the Raviekan statues. The statues are a visual focus for prayer, not a necessity. It is the thought that counts, not the methods used.
Offerings from crops, beautiful flowers and seashells, or food is placed in front of the statue, as a reminder to the consciousness and magic that has not been reborn yet of all of the amazing things that awaits them. Those who desire to have children will often leave many offerings, in the hopes of encouraging Ravieka to come to their empty wombs. Those who have lost a loved one leave offerings to remind the deceased’s consciousness and magic to return. The offerings that spoil, such as food, are collected by the Raviekan priests, and are turned into compost, which is used in their gardens.
When Ravieka is portrayed as their entirety, they are symbolized as a swath of stars. This is uncommon, as the statues are much more popular.
Temples and Priests
Much of Themble has towns with populations of 1-20,000 creatures living in them, which often means that there are not enough priests living in a town for a temple. Temples are usually only found in the cities, where a congression of priests can work together. Much more common are priests that are trained in a city temple, and then live in a town for 2-5 years before moving to the next assigned town. An excellent priest may be given permission by their home temple to remain in a town longer than assigned if they petition for settlement.
A creature can decide to be a priest at any point in their life. They are often initiated by the local priest to make sure that this is the life that they wish to follow, before pilgrimage to one of the temples, which sometimes is the local priest’s home temple. The aim of the Raviekan priest is to become more aware of the essence of Ravieka within not only themselves and others, but to also gain insight on how Ravieka is within the entire world. This is done through purposeful meditation, with the focus on not only becoming more aware of themselves, but the world around them. Wonder at both the little and the large is a common theme, and one practice is to watch insects, fish, or the grass and tree branches, and admire the beauty in simplicity. Community and helping others is also a massive focus, as it is believed since Ravieka can never be whole without their other parts, neither can we. Ergo, each person is treated like they are equal to the priest, from the greatest king to the poorest cripple. A priest offers the same bow in greeting to each person.
A priest is in charge of collecting the compost buckets from participating households, which they then turn into compost and use as fertilizer. They tend a garden used for feeding the poor, at no cost to the impoverished. The temples will often have massive gardens and community kitchens that serve meals daily to the poor from any background, specie, or belief. The greatest temples, such as the Temple of the Sea in Croon, are able to serve meals to anyone of any socio-economic status, twice a day. Priests conduct marriages and funerals, as well as publicly pray during important ceremonies. All priests are trained in basic medicine, and can help those who cannot afford a doctor. A priest typically works odd jobs in trade for supplies necessary for living, although a talented priest can also trade their created goods in exchange for supplies and services. While having money is not strictly forbidden, it is seen as something that can increase greed and cause a creature to forget to appreciate simplicity.
Priests live in simple houses, often loaned to them for the duration of their stay, or owned by the home temple, in cases of an unsupportive community. The house always has room for a garden. Unless married or at a temple, a priest usually lives alone unless caring for the sick, allowing a potential new priest to discover if the path is right for them, or is circumstances call for communal housing (such as during a war).
Priesthood is not solitary outside of community service. Priests are allowed to get married, and it is encouraged that they have children. Having children is supposed to be a good reminder of the wonder of Ravieka being reborn again and again. However, priests do not face the same social stigmas as others, and there is not a huge push for them to get married. Many secret homosexuals and asexuals often escape into priesthood than be forced into a marriage, as homosexuality and other non-heterosexual sexualities are not accepted in Themble, unfortunately. Priests do not have to marry priests, although it is often seen as uncomfortable if the spouse does not believe in Ravieka, which, despite the teachings of acceptance regardless of beliefs, can create social issues.
If they chose to wear clothing, priests wear simple robes and tunics of earth tones: shades of brown, to cream, to dark russet reds and grey-blues. The color of their robes and tunics depend on the season, as there are no ranks within priests, since all are seen as equal to Ravieka. Unlike much Themblise fashion, this clothing does not have any decorative embroidery or patterns on it, and the only charms that priests wear are those which protect the clothing from wear and tear. If needed, a plain belt of leather or rope can be used, as well as a sunhat or plain cloak to protect them from the elements. Equine priests may choose to have bronze horseshoes to prevent pain and discomfort. Humans often wear plain sandals or shoes. They wear no other accessories.
Priests are instantly recognized, beyond their undecorated clothing, but the two runes stained onto their foreheads and necks. These are the same two runes that adorn the Ravieka statues, and symbolize their commitment to becoming more aware and enlightened of Ravieka, both within themselves and others.