Parth Morren (Orien)

Temples, Shrines and Scholae

While in many old Orienese cities, the temples are concentrated in a particular sacred precinct, King Morren the founder specifically deviated from this plan. Instead, he designated sixteen separate sites throughout the city, near public squares and parks for the construction of future temples. He also set aside a seventeenth site within the walls of his castle for a major religious structure, when other sites were exhausted. He also specified an order to their construction, beginning with a shrine to Grandmother Ocean.

The Temple to Grandmother Ocean, with its white walls, blue dome and gold cupola, was the first to be built, forming one side of the Spicemarket. Since then, the temples of Mother Earth, Anya goddess of Love, Tiradyr god of the Sun and Poetry, Alafar the god of Fire and the Forge, and Maeda goddess of the Moon and the Hunt, have been complted. The Temples of Daeria, goddess of Agriculture, and the Temple of the Ancestors. are both under construction at present. Another nine sites are currently set aside for future development; at present, they are simply open spaces serving as parks until some worthy or worthies fund their construction.

In addition to these public temples, of course, most Orienese maintain their own household shrines. Even rental apartments have a niche in an east wall, where a statuette, an icon, or an ancestral reliquary may be placed. Particularly wealthy families have built cabinets, sometimes even with glass doors; a very lucky few will actually have a copy of the Inarion, the Voyages, or the Returns.

For those who wish to hear any part of the Kanon, of course, the easiest way is to attend the morning and evening readings/recitals at the Schola attached to each of the temples. While the temples serve as physical residences for gods, and repositories for the statues and cult objects of the god or goddess, the Scholae serve as the homes of the priests and as neighborhood schools for children between the ages of 6 and 13. The public rooms of the Scholae serve as community libraries and meeting rooms when school is not in session, and at dawn and dusk every day, the schola’s largest room becomes a worship space where readings from the Kanon are delivered. The Kanon thus is available to all school children as a study text to learn their letters, numbers, glyphs and characters; and their graduation is marked by an invitation to read or recite publicly.

White Shawls and Priests, Cantors and Sages

While King Morren broke up the idea of the sacred precinct, he was less able to handle the four-fold division in the priestly rankings. At the top, of course, are the White Shawls, the devotees of the loom and Grandmother Ocean. Functioning as prophetesses and keepers of records (wills, contracts, and more), the White Shawls act as a storehouse of the civic memory, and the guardians of destiny. In practical terms, they control the calendar of the city and the marking of feasts and fasts. Below them are the official Priests of each temple, led by the Archpriest. This college of officials conduct the rites at each temple, and plan the major festivals of the year together.

However, the scholae are under the control of the Cantors and Sages. The Cantors are often elder members of local families, chosen for their level-headedness and good voices, after they retire from their craft or profession. The Sages, despite their title, are often older teenagers who have completed their schooling and do a year or two of religious service before entering their primary profession. Thus, while the priesthood and the White Shawls are able to enlarge and elaborate the rites of Orien in fantastic ways, the essentials of religious practice — the recital of the kanon and the teaching of the stories of the islands, remain in the hands of a fairly practical and non-professional circle.

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