Souls and Afterlife
The existence of souls is a largely undisputed fact, since they can be consumed in rituals and alchemy. There are a minority who believe that souls disappear or dissipate after death, but most believe that souls move on to another stage of existence. Most religions have an opinion on what happens after death and how living your life in a certain way affects this process, but there’s no overall consensus, and even within religions there can be significant variation. While it’s possible to speak to a recently dead person through Reanimation, they know of nothing after their death.
For a long time natural philosophers have understood the elements are a fundamental part of the makeup of the universe. Long ago, seemingly shortly after the Sealing, Deidre founded a philosophical school extending this discovery into the spiritual. Deidrists believe that people who align their nature with a specific element are much more successful at impacting the world and leaving a lasting legacy. Since your ability to affect the world comes from embracing an element, difficulties may be a sign of too much balance in your life.
The philosophical school itself is long in ruin but their teachings survive and enjoy great popularity. Deidrism is common among both the Venucci and Enclaves. Thaumaturgy and alchemy are an important part of Deidrists lives, and Deidrists frequently consume simple alchemicals or perform rituals of consecration to aid in their spiritual endeavours.
When Deidrists are challenged the common recourse is to meditate on how to better embrace the elements in their lives. If they see another challenged, they will often encourage them to adopt a more extreme approach to the situation, in line with the elements.
Supremists believe that humans are the supreme beings in the world because they are the only beings proven to possess souls. The world is their inheritance and it is their destiny to claim it. The notion that there might be beings or powers more important or potent than the soul is anathema.
Supremists believe that natural philosophy contains useful tools, but when applied to the spiritual they quickly become an insidious force polluting pure human will. They explicitly reject Deirdrists’ beliefs that the elements are an important part of spirituality.
Supremists believe that every soul has a moral imperative to impose their will upon the world, for that is the path to the ascension of humanity. When Supremists are challenged, or see others having trouble, they’re encouraged to remember that within them there is a soul, which is the greatest force in the universe, and that they should trust in themselves and do what they think is right.
This institution is very old. The main thrust of the teachings speak of the life and deeds of Maddon the Martyr, a messianic figure who rose from simple origins and saved the world. The official symbol of the Maddonite Church is blue flowers.
The Maddonite Church teaches that in the old times, red-skinned demons walked among us and inflicted suffering on humanity. We were playthings or hunted for sport, with some demons being more elaborate and clever in their torment, whispering terrible things into our minds during the small hours of the night. The most terrible of these was Jittal, a truly insidious creature that could drive anyone to madness within a span.
When humanity could suffer no more, Maddon came forth, whose grace and mercy shone so brightly the demons could not stand it. Wherever Maddon gave sermons, the demons were evicted from the world. Eventually all the demons were cast back to the underworld except for Jittal who still escaped. Realizing that Jittal was too powerful, Maddon performed the ultimate sacrifice and embraced Jittal, making the Sealing and forever imprisoning them both in the underworld. It is said that Maddon will return in the darkest hour to save the world one last time.
The Church believes that the soul is the origin of all that is good in the world, and teaches of an afterlife beyond the physical world. It’s imperative that the soul passes on to the afterlife to enrich it too. This makes Maddon’s sacrifice momentous, because Maddon’s soul was imprisoned with Jittal, denying them a place in the afterlife.
As Maddon banished the demons with words and sermons, not violence, so are Maddonites encouraged to accomplish their aims with words. Some members of the Maddonite Church take an oath forbidding them from striking a sentient creature first. However Maddonites are permitted, and even encouraged, to pacify an enemy who is violent.
When Maddonites are challenged, they’re encouraged to meditate on the example and inspiration of Maddon’s life, and the sacrifice they made.
While Deirdrists and Supremists are philosophically at odds, Maddonism is not opposed to either of the other religions, and it's not unknown for a person to be a Maddonite Deirdrist or Maddonite Supremist (as well as believing in neither and just being a Maddonite).
Recently revelations have come to light regarding Maddon's life and works. It's confirmed that Maddon performed the Sealing, but instead of Jittal being their adversary that they fought against, Jittal instead aided Maddon. It's now widely believed that the "Demons" of legend are not in fact Chaos elementals, but are instead some other beings.