The Æcyr Gréne Campaign 

The Sœcisc Faith

The Sœcisc Religion in Practice

Sœcisc Faith and Practice can be broken down into a number of categories -

Sœcisc Theology 

Church doctrine owes much to Sœcisc myth, and is firmly built upon it. Doctrine is, therefore, the codified application of the mythology, and the bearing it has on day-to-day life. Several things should be noted about Sœciscism, and the way it differs from Salisianism, its main rival:

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Sœciscism and The Ælphen Kin 

Sœciscism considers the Ælphen to be the Æftenbearnas - the servants of the Angytti created after the rebellion of the Mæges (hence the name - "those who were born after"). This then poses several questions - do they, in fact, have souls at all? The traditional Sœcisc answer is that the Ælphen do have souls, but they are destined to end up in the halls of the gods that made them.

This theory of origin partly explains some of the racial antipathies exhibited by Sœcics. Elves are reckoned to be favourites of Nerþe, while some of the other Ælphen are considered to be followers of the other Angytti. Consequently there is more tolerance of elves among the Ænesœcisc faiths than the Norsœcisc faiths. Specific gods fall in and out of favour in particular regions over time, and this can influence Sœcisc attitudes to Ælphen kin. This should not be overemphasised, however.

It is generally agreed that Ælphen souls are weaker than those of humans, with less part to play in the final battle should Gehælanende fail to be achieved (and hence much hair-splitting debate on how many Ælphen souls a mægan soul is worth).

As a consequence, it is possible for the Ælphen to subscribe to the Sœcisc faith, but in practice few do - by and large Sœciscism is an overwhelmingly human system of belief.

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Sœciscism and Other Religions 

Sœciscism is not an aggressively proselytising religion, but it has nevertheless had to come to terms with the fact that there are other systems of belief in the world and they are not compatible with the Sœcisc position. The usual recourse is to assume that the true (ie Sœcisc) gods are being unwittingly honoured by the unbeliever, so any professed monotheism is irrelevant. Needless to say the monotheistic faiths rarely reciprocate this tolerance.

Sœciscism has a strange relationship with the more animistic or druidic faiths of the Dynndh peoples. While some monastic settlements try to draw corrollaries between the Angytti and the various Spioraid Beannaithe, in many areas such corrollaries are considered to be disrespectful or potentially heretical. There has been more than a few Sœcic leaders that have utilised the mutual miscomprehension of eachother’s viewpoints to fuel emnity and violence, to the point of persecution.

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Religious Practice 

Sœciscism lacks the strict regimen of prescribed prayer and church attendance that permeates the Salisian faith. There is no weekly holy day, no set hours of prayer and worship. The gods are turned to as and when needed. The church, as a physical structure, is there for those who need it, as and when they need it. The spirits of the gods are held to be eternally present in churches, and thus easier to reach (not that this guarantees they will listen). Community assemblies in a church are impromptu, again dictated by circumstance, and may be called by anyone. Attendance is not compulsory, though a priest who persistently fails to turn up can expect to be expelled from the community.

There are prescribed ceremonies for the major events of life - birth, death, marriage (and annulment) - as well as the major turning points of the year - sowing and harvest, midsummer and midwinter - but again there are many local variations. This is less marked in Carangeard, where Cuthbert of Brae’s 10th Century reformism introduced firm guidelines on these and many other matters. Such ceremonies are conducted solely by the priesthood in Carangeard, but may be delegated to laity in the west.

Sœciscs do not worship their gods in the Salisian sense of the term. They may appeal to them, appease them, seek to please them or curse them to the ends of eternity, but they do not worship them. Sœciscs, then, do not recognise the sin of blasphemy that most Salisians live in perennial dread of. Strictly speaking, Sœciscs have no concept of sin as such, at least not in the Salisian sense of an act on behalf of evil. They do, however, have a concept of heresy, as a contradiction of doctrine ratified by the Church. This was relatively late in entering Sœcisc consciousness, though, and largely came about through contact with Salisianism.

Sœciscism, unlike Salisianism or the Shaniz faith, does not offer spiritual salvation, nor does it have any concept of spiritual purity (holiness). This is not to say that the Sœciscs do not recognise and respect such values as justice, mercy forgiveness and compassion. They do, and regard such qualities as manifestations of the godly virtues. But arrogance, cruelty, greed and similar qualities are likewise manifestations of godly vices and therefore, in Salisian terms, equally holy. Nevertheless, Sœciscs and Salisians would generally agree on what the virtues are, and would also agree that the virtues should be encouraged and the vices suppressed.

In everyday practice, the gods are turned to for guidance and inspiration, for the granting of virtue and the lifting of vice. A soldier preparing to enter battle would turn to ðunor for courage, or Ingui for martial prowess, or Tir for the good luck to survive unscathed. An adulterer would beseech Woden to release him from his lust for another man’s wife, or to Ingui for the strength of will to control himself (or to Tir, again, that he might not be caught in the act).

Eostre is the goddess turned to by young lovers - although whether it is to pray for their love to be blessed with fertility, or for an unforseen pregnancy to miscarry will depend on the circumstances. Freo is invoked as Childbirth approaches, and throughout early childhood to provide support and guidance to the young mother and her charges. Nerþe is invoked at weddings, that the union be blessed with happiness and fruitful, while Wær is invoked when solemn vows are taken, and thus particularly often at political weddings, where the union may be part of a bigger picture, and Adultery would potentially cause massive strife, and obviously also at funerals.

Many situations offer a choice of gods to turn to, which is where the priesthood comes into play. Priests are advisors, who call on their theological learning (as well as their plain common sense) to indicate which deity should be appealed to and in what manner. For silent invocations (or curses) are rarely sufficient - Sœciscs believe strongly in steeping their negotiations with the gods in ritual. This may be conducted privately or publicly, according to circumstance and local custom. Carangeard practice favours private ritual for personal matters, whilst the west prefers public displays of sacrifice and ordeal. There are so many forms of ritual, and so many local variations, that no more than a handful of examples can be given here (and priests are apt to improvise anyway).

Animals are routinely sacrificed. The giving of a lamb to Nerþe in spring is universally recognised as a plea for a good harvest in the autumn (when cattle are in turn given to Nerþe). The slaughtered animals are then consumed in a ritual feast which might last all night, the participants getting more and more drunk as they dance around the roasting fire. These feasts also tend to involve a certain amount of licentious behaviour, especially in the spring when masks are commonly worn.

Prisoners are frequently sacrificed after victory in battle, usually captured peasants who will fetch no ransom. This practice is on the wane, however, and usually involves no more than a token handful of captives, often only one. In the case of humiliating defeat, knights will often mutilate themselves. Carangeardic knights opt mainly for facial scars, while western ones break or even remove a finger from the shield arm. The epithet Dægripe (ÆÐ: half-handed) is not uncommon in Coryn for an unsuccessful knight and has passed into common usage as a universal term of derogation.

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