Church of the True
Although the Church of the True was both the inspiration and the backbone of the Prelature, it was in its conception independent of state.
Based on the writings of Oran Helting two thousand years before the birth of Johnson Farthing, it was the first properly structured system of belief. Oelcraeft, though widely followed, had no formal structure and nor did it seek to impose any system of behaviour or ritual. Many have often referred to it as "the belief of thanks."
Helting, during his phase of revelation as a young man, formulated two doctrinal codes, the Origins and the Words, and it was seen as vital that a believer in the True God should adhere to these codes.
They were written out in two books, the Gielefa Sinde and the Gielefa Geth. (pron gee-ay-LAY-fər sind and gee-ay-LAY-fər gayth)
The shorter of the two works, this literally means The Belief in the Origin, in this context the "First Species."
Oran Helting believed that after the creation Dirt was populated by humans first before any other animals or plants. They had no need for food or water, nor air nor anything of the land or sea.
They were, he believed, in a state of perfect Faestness. This expression had its ancient origins in Oelcraeft and meant having a oneness with everything around, especially nature. However, Helting saw the state as being so pure as to be separated, unaffected by the world.
But, he wrote, Others came to undermine this pure state and humans were suddenly needy of sustenance. No longer could they be separate but would have to survive and would have to work towards the state of Faestness.
The "others" that he wrote about were the dragons, callistons and other hexapod beasts that he believed were interlopers. However, he did not see them as evil and nor did he see their existence as an aberration, but rather he saw them as challenging the frailty of the humans and therefore a good thing. He believed the original humans, those without need, were incomplete and only by struggle could one achieve true Faestness.
The book is by far the most contentious of the two main works and was his first code. It was written as a young man soon after his revelation and is a meandering and fussy work, lacking the clarity of later writings. In consequence his attitudes towards dragons in particular is often debated and some sects believe he was preaching against dragons, even so far as to declaring them as demons. Most scholars however believe he had no such inclinations and, indeed, counted some lesser dragons as friends, even if they did not agree with his beliefs.
This large work is a compilation of several works and loosely can be translated as Belief in Words, though some think that Belief in Riddles is perhaps a better interpretation.
Helting stated that how we act in life should be defined in words since language is what separates us from dumb beasts.
The work is, in essence, a list of mantras numbering many thousand that he believed should be memorised and followed if one is to lead the purest of lives. However, the book opens with his ten Ritgeth, his righteous words, that he felt were at the core of all humans. These have no order of importance.
- To stand apart is to see one's place in creation -
- Know that the male is the first of species and his mate the slave
- To question words is to defy the Truth
- It is the right of all to bathe in truth
- To give faith is holy
- Four is the holy number of the Truth
- Damned is the independent spirit
- Silence is the holiest of mantra
- There are no barriers to the first in creation
- Count not the breaths between birth and death
These enshrined some of his core beliefs, though some seem a little obscure. He believed the male human had first dominion over all that the female should always be submissive. However, he himself wrote that women should be treated gently in a small, but heartfelt epitaph to his sister who died young.
He also believed that there was no such thing as the passing of time but that life was a single experience. He disapproved of the use of dates and the celebration of anniversaries. He also was disapproving of any borders, though his followers seemed rather keen on them.
Perhaps the most contentious line is "Four is the holy number of the Truth." This has been used by many to condemn the Hexapod as unholy and therefore evil, though it is unclear whether this line refers to the number of limbs at all.
The True God
Oran Helting said that the Oeling, the idea of a single god inherited from Oelcraeft, was a poor invention and that "The Truest of Gods needs no name or description."
He made it one of his earliest laws that The True God should never be known as anything else, should never be given name or form and should be worshiped by deed and behaviour not by "sanctimonious uttering."
This would lay the foundation for the later church and the rise of the religion.
The Church of the True
The church did not exist in Helting's time, though it is known he wished for it. Its growth was remarkably slow considering how well known were the original writings.
The basis for the church was built around Helting's own style of preaching. He would sit in any convenient building or market place and simply read for hour upon hour from the works that made up the Gielefa Geth. He asked for no strict formality to the proceeding only that the people let the words "wash over them like waves."
As the church grew and started to build dedicated temples, this idea was kept and the local priests and acolytes would take it in turns to read from the books while the people knelt on stone floors listening. When they had listened a while, they would chant a simple mantra in ancient Adelan:
Yr gielefin, wesser sool
This translates as "I believe, I am true" or "to be true." Sometimes they would just repeat "yr gielefin" over and over.
This ritual was known as Giving Faith and the term was originally coined by Helting himself to describe his own act of reading out loud; this does not seem to have survived into the modern church and only the people "give faith."
In the first couple of hundred years of the church's history, the organisation was a simple affair, locally funded and with no political influence. In these times there was no separation between the priests and those who came to Give Faith and all were treated equal. All were expected to kneel on the cold stone so that they were in contact with the world of Dirt and no favour was given to those of position.
As the church became more political however and benefitted from rich benefactors, so the small wooden buildings were replaced with stone temples, and named as such. Inside, the priests would stand on a low dias, reading from the books and separated from the faithful. The ordinary folk were still expected to kneel on the stone floor and remain as long as they could, while the influential sat separately on chairs. In some larger temples the wealthy sat behind screens and some even sent servants down in their stead.
Later, under the system of the Prelature, this would see the rise in cynicism and in less conservative Prelates, many gave up on the church. Some, particularly in rural areas, returned to a form of Oelcraeft, but many abandoned religion entirely.
Part of this, it is felt, is because the more modern Church of the True spoke less and less about the True God and only of the Laws that had grown out of Helting's teachings.
This would change radically with the birth of The True Path.
Views on Magic
What is often referred to as Magic, the abilities of people to do things like find objects, see in the dark or, most commonly, help heal, was frowned upon by Oran Helting and is simply not recognised by the Church of the True which views it as nothing more than charlatanism.
Indeed, it is probably so that most claiming abilities have none, so this view is popular amongst all people.