Virtual Verduria Almean Belief Systems

The Caďin Religions

Introduction Historical outline Terminology Language

Origins Eastern religion Meťaiun religion

Beliefs of the Caďin Commonalities The testimony of Beretos Araunicoros The kingdom of Caďinas The kingdom of Cayenas

The imperial period The invasion Mobilization What was taught What was done The wedding ceremony The soul Caďinorian law Morality The epic of Kolleiva Genremos The syncretic state religion Ervëa The epic of Maranȟ Ilcorea The epic of Iriand The book of whys The fates

The dark years Language change The Aďivro The cults Magic

Modern times Foreign challenges Fundamentalism Popular beliefs Old and new gods In the South In Sarnáe Modern philosophers Natural philosophy Cistile Čurmey Spirituality Being pagan


This subject has long been studied by Almeologists, but much more has recently been learned. Thus I have had information on tësaďát on the site for years, but it is now seriously out of date. I have entirely rewritten it with the latest information available from every part of Eretald.

(Not all the information, I should add. By Almean standards this is a brief introduction. The Caďin religions are almost fractal; the more you concentrate on particular times and regions and people, the more complicated they look.)

The map shows the places where Caďin religions are found today, as well as some of the place names that are important in its rise.

The illustrations of the gods are based on ancient and modern statues and paintings, and aim to show the typical symbolology (including hair and skin color). Note that some are NSFW. Why are you reading an enormous web page at work?


In modern times, it’s deceptively easy to define Caďinorian religion. We easily fall into two traps: What’s wrong with both answers is that there is there is no single entity involved. There are multiple Caďin religions. And over time, the belief systems of Eretald have changed so much that we cannot speak of the unity of any one strand.

The other error that has bedeviled Caďinorian studies, both here and on Almea, is projecting present-day religion, or that of the Aďivro, into the past. The only solution to this is to examine the sources in context, and in chronological order.

Historical outline

We can start by defining what we’re talking about. The Caďin are an Eastern people, originally living in what is now Bolon. As allies and partners with the Cuzeians, they conquered Eretald from the Meťaiun starting in -375. The language family belonging to the Caďin is Central, while that of the Cuzeians is Karazi.

The Caďin were distinguished from the Cuzeians also by religion, in that the Cuzeians had adopted a trinitarian belief system adapted from that of the iliu. Few Caďin followed this change— nor did Cuzeians, in general, preach it to them. On the other hand, they were less resistant than the Cuzeians to religious influences from the conquered Meťaiun.

When Munkhâsh invaded Eretald in 440, the Caďin were almost entirely conquered, except for a narrow strip along the Svetla river. From this strip, with Cuzeian help, the Caďin slowly moved east, liberating their people. It took centuries, not least because they also fought wars with each other and the Cuzeians. Indeed, the most successful branch of the Caďin, that of Caďinas proper along the middle Svetla, conquered Cuzei in 1024, at a time when Munkhâshi still held 1/3 of the territory it had seized in 440. It absorbed Cayenas, its Caďin neighbor to the north, in 1079.

The Munkhâshi worshiped the Six Gods as their ktuvok overlords taught them. Later patriotic Caďinorians wrote movingly of the conquered Caďin maintaining their faith against horrific oppression. But as we’ll see below, by the time they were reconquered little was left of their original faith. They had to be taught the religion anew— and these teachings are essentially the Caďinorian faith as later centuries knew it.

In 1150, king Keadau of Caďinas finally expelled Munkhâsh from Eretald, and named himself emperor (atrabion) in celebration. In 1497, the emperor Decanos engineered the takeover of Araunicoros to the south.

This absorption was not only political but religious. The three main Caďin states had not started with identical beliefs, and they had each developed a codified state religion of their own. Theologians had to harmonize the three religions somehow (giving primacy of course to that of Caďinas).

Keadau’s empire persisted in effective control of Eretald for the next 1500 years. An epic war with Munkhâsh in the 1600s is merely a dramatic stage in the story, though it meant that Caďinorian settlement and control surged far to the east. The empire’s political structures began failing in the 2100s, but it only suffered serious loss of territory with the barbarian invasions of the 2400s. The final blow— ending the last remnant of the Empire— was the Curiyan conquest of 2792.

This long period of unity has dominated the imagination of both Almeans and Almeologists. One consequence is the second bullet point above: the assumption that the empire’s state religion is the prototypical belief system of the Caďin people. This was a great exaggeration within the empire itself, and it seriously distorts our view of both preceding and succeeding eras.

After the empire, of course, the dominant power has been Verduria, which however has never conquered all of Eretald. Once a province of the empire, it emerged as a strong kingdom in 2870, when it merged with the neighboring province of Zeir.


To help avoid distortion, I’ve distinguished between Caďin and Caďinorian: In Verdurian, it was till recently customary to use caďin for all of these meanings. Careful scholars however have introduced the terms tëscaďin ‘all-Caďin’ for all the Central states; atabise to refer to the Empire (cf. elrise which can refer to any empire), and etaldete for my Post-Caďinorian.

It is of course through interdimensional rifts that we know anything of Almea at all. The same rifts have occasionally allowed other contact and even travel; the most spectacular was the arrival of a shipload of Greek merchants who left Egypt in AD 325 and arrived in Érenat in ZE 2780. They spread their Christian religion— though their bloodline died out. It later partially merged with a version of Cuzeian theism, and the resulting union has spread to perhaps a third of Eretald, under the name of Eleďát.

This creates the problem of what to call the Post-Caďinorian religion or religions. This definitional concern is most acute for conservatives who resist Eleďát and look to the Caďinorian Empire for their social and religious truths. In Verdurian, there are at least three solutions.

There’s also řemuris ‘temple worship’, which once was another “not Eleďát” term, but is now basically the word for ‘religion’— that is, it includes Tësaďát, Irreanism, Eleďát, and Endajué. About the only things it doesn’t include are Dhêkhnami religion, atheism, and řami ‘cults’— that is, weird religions most Verdurians don’t cotton to.


As the main presentation is chronological, it makes sense to use Caďinor terms throughout the Caďin period and then the Empire. Thus I will speak of Endauron, Ctesifon, Prigediset, and Genremos rather than Enäron, Žésifo, Prižedisy, Žendrom.

For consistency with other documents such as the Historical Atlas, however, I write Keadau, Ervëa, Aďivro, Cayenas instead of Kehadau, Aerivileas, Aďie ibro, Kahinos.

For more information on etymology as well as the names in all the daughter languages, see the Caďinor lexicon.

You will see a lot of terms ending in -it or -et. These are plurals; for the singular, if it doesn’t come up, see the lexicon.

When we come to modern times I use Verdurian terms. Natural features (e.g. Eretald, the Svetla river, Lake Como) are also named in Verdurian.

As always, dates are given in zonî Erei ‘years of the South’, dating from the founding of Ctesifos. The present date in Almea is Z.E. 3480.


Eastern religion

The Easterners once lived in a fairly compact area: Bukanel, Bolon, and northern Bozan, the grassy northwest of what is now Xurno. During the period when they were a single people speaking proto-Eastern, they were hunter-gatherers.

By -600 they had adopted agriculture, the southern tribes were taking up bronze working, and the western tribes pursued a nomadic lifestyle on the Barbarian Plain, learned from the Kagöt people. They had also considerably extended their territory. As there are no common pan-Eastern agricultural terms, we believe that they had broken up into separate linguistic groups by this time.

In the -300s, the Easterners exploded into history: the Cuzeians and Caďin invaded Eretald, and the Ezičimi invaded Xengiman.

By the time of these invasions, the Easterners were polytheistic. We have the most information on the Ezičimi religion, Mešaism. All the Caďin religions had multiple gods. The Cuzeians, by their own account, had been polytheists before they adopted iliu trinitarianism.

However, each Eastern family seems to have had its own gods. Scholars have carefully compared lists of gods, and compared rare epithets for gods, but have only found one common god: the chief god *Endānor, cognate to Caďinor Endauron, Cuêzi Eīledan, Axunašin Inbamu, and Obenzayet Ädänä. Some Eleďe scholars have concluded that in the far past the Easterners were monotheistic, but this is probably over-interpretation.

As a non-urban culture, the Easterners did not have temples. We have reconstructed words for ‘god’, ‘shrine’, ‘holy’ and ‘spirit’, but nothing for ‘priest’. Mešaism was family-based, with the paterfamilias leading the rites which celebrated life passages and the sharing of meat. This is close to continuing Naviu practice, and for what it’s worth the Naviu are closest to continuing the ancient Eastern lifestyle.

Meťaiun religion

Before the Caďin, there were the Meťaiun. These were the people who lived in Eretald and created an urban civilization there. The common perception is that “the Cuzeians and Caďin conquered them”, but they held on in the littoral for a surprisingly long time: in Lácatur and what is now Verduria province until the Munkhâshi invasion (440), and in Leziunea and Érenat until the final Munkhâshi war (1616). They are still there in Kebri, which is a major modern nation with its own colonial empire.

The Monkhayu, who hold a small corner of mountainous southwestern Dhekhnam, are related to the Meťaiun— though this was not realized in classical times.

The Meťaiun had no writing and left no epics or scriptures. As a result Almean scholarship has all too often treated them as a magic box to which anything unexpected in Caďin religion was assigned, no matter how contradictory.

More recently scholars have reviewed the available evidence and shaken a good deal of information out of it. This evidence comes from multiple sources:

All this sounds very miscellaneous, but a fairly clear picture emerges if we entirely put aside the Caďinorian and Cuzeian focus on ‘gods’. (Here I will use Kebreni terms.) The difference between a kem and a god— both superhuman beings— is best explained by looking at their key metaphors.

A god acts like a king: he has power over life and death, he judges and gives blessings, he protects (and yet has to be nudged to do so). He is depicted as no more moral or benign than any earthly king. And he is treated as a king: with the fear, deference, and abject praise due to someone who can kill you with a thought, but also bestow riches and favors. About the only escape for the commoner is the knowledge that the king and the god ultimately have rivals who can be appealed to instead.

The kem is at root not a person, but a natural object of danger and power. He is the splendor of mountains and forests and great bodies of water, the destructiveness of fire and storm, the awe of lonely places not meant for man. Unlike the king, these places are not part of human society and seem indifferent and hostile to it. The temple at the nahra is there to honor and propitiate the numinous and alien kem— and humanize it a little. Get it on your side and you may avoid perils or deflect them to your foes.

God and kem (and king) may be too lofty to hear the peasant’s everyday needs: children, a good harvest, cure for grandfather’s disease, a husband for your daughter, a curse on the meddlesome neighbor. The kaam is the necessary go-between: someone with power, but down-to earth and approachable— a hero or a rogue, not a king. They were still to be approached cautiously— they were even more capricious than gods— but who else were you going to go to?

It’s worth noting that many of the nahra in Kebri show traces of iliu habitation. (Iliu lived on the island as late as -350.) And the Count of Years has some of the kemu in Arauni temples painted blue. It would be a bit excitable to draw parallels to iliu spirituality, but the iliu value wild spots as well— and they are strange and alien to humans. The association only added to the numinous power of nahra.

Not surprisingly, the largest nahra produced the most powerful kemu. The sea is itself a nahra, though actual worship would take place in seaside temples. Agibna was the mightiest of kemu because the sea was the mightiest of natural places. The highest mountains also had powerful kemu, particularly Debúnimor in the Estë Mišicama Range, and the highest mountains in Kebri— Kemucai and Mekaancai. The Kalimantan forest had nahra well into historical times. Lake Como was a great nahra, though by no means the most important one.

The Cuzeian god was also associated with nature; rather than temples, he was worshiped in glades, more like gardens than buildings.

Beliefs of the Caďin


The current consensus on the early Caďin religions can now be simply stated: The earliest reference we have to Caďin religion is in the Cuzeian Count of Years, whose earliest manuscript is dated to -50. The Cazinorō receive the messenger of Iáinos and tell him, “There are many gods, more than you can count, each with their own temples and priests and holy places. We are content with them; but if you wish, we will worship you as a god as well.”

Though this is an outsider’s depiction, it captures the early Caďin flexibility about gods. As we’ll see, each of the Caďin states had its own gods, and the classical Caďinorian list was not finalized till about 1200.

The testimony of Beretos

The earliest textual description of Caďin religion is from In the Land of Babbers, by Beretos of Eteîa Mitano, recounting his diplomatic mission starting in 287 to a “Babbler” (Caďin) baron who held the Taucrēte Pass against the Munkhâshi.

He describes a two-level system of belief, which we may call priestly and popular religion. The priestly religion is followed in the cities, and in the baron’s castle. The popular religion is followed by rural people— the bulk of the population.

The priestly religion was led by a priest— aiďocliťus ‘godspeaker’— who were generally of noble blood, and attached directly to a noble household. Priests led the official sacrifices and festivities, and the all-important rites asking for fertility and military success. They also oversaw the life changes (births, marriages, deaths) of the upper classes.

Beretos gives names of gods, which I’ll get back to below. For now I’ll note that in Araunicoros he found people worshipping Aecton and Aelilea, and in the eastern mountains a very different set of gods, led by Endauron and Iscira.

He mentions a story told in the mountains, that Endauron had sex with Kravcaena. This was standard god stuff— the sky god fertilizing the earth goddess— but Endauron was married to Iscira. She was infuriated, and punished the earth with night and with winter. Early hymns addressed to Iscira beg her to mitigate these punishments for the sake of the people.

The popular religion was unorganized, but it was how the commoners worshipped. They had their own godspeakers— often madmen, cripples, or an old person with a reputation for wisdom or power. These, unlike the nobles’ godspeakers, could be female.

They held sessions (Beretos attended one) where they were possessed by fantit, supernatural beings. People came to these entirely for practical needs. Beretos describes the possession as a dramatic change in personality, voice, and power— the godspeaker he met, a woman, was possessed by a male fantos, and was able to punch his companion Oluon to the floor. After recovering from the possession, the woman seemed surprised to see Oluon knocked down, and cared for him tenderly.

There were also gesit or household gods. These were idols made of wood or clay, and stored in a house (sometimes actually built into the walls) to watch over its inhabitants. They were fed with ashes, blood, or beer in return for their favors and protection. The attitude of the Caďin toward their gesit was alarmingly practical: if it didn't perform, it would be punished, by being starved, buried, or even broken. The use of gesit had nothing to do with godspeakers— they were made by the families themselves—and survived unchanged throughout classical times. Although the gesit as such have died out, they have given their name— modern žes— as the Verdurian word for ‘home’.

This two-level religion is found nowhere else among the Easterners. As kima possession is historically attested in Kebri and Leziunea, it seems clear that fantit possession derives from Meťaiun religion.

When the Caďin were tribal people in Xengiman, the gods undoubtedly served everyone: fertility and victory were shared by the entire tribe. But in the more stratified societies after the conquest of Eretald, the nobles in effect stole the gods for themselves. They had the priests and the ceremonies; their rituals were no longer for general prosperity. Naturally the people turned to religious practices of their own.


The first Meťaiun kingdom conquered by the Easterners was Araunicoros. This means ‘eagle port’ in Cuêzi, and we assume the Meťaiun name was *Jeiritemno. The natives kept the Cuêzi name; the Caďinorians half-calqued it as Araunicaer, thus Verdurian Aránicer. The associated Caďinor adjective was Araunires, which I will anglicize as Arauni.

According to the Count of Years, the senior Cuzeian lineage, that of Inibē, took Araunicoros and the other kingdoms along the Svetla as their own— but succumbed to hubris and atheism, and lost them to the Caďin (-290). The Arauni gods have often been discussed in a Caďinorian context, but we will focus here on their status as the chief and only gods of the south for at least 1500 years.

Who were they? Beretos mentions Aecton, Aelilea, and Perabron but no others (though he implies they are many). The Munkhâshi, a Cuzeian play by Orûrelo dated to 545, reckons the number of gods in Araunicoros at eight but gives no names.

Our earliest useful text is the Cabraiat nieret (Holy Songs), an anthology of over 200 hymns written down around 900. The compilation itself emphasizes their antiquity; they were passed on orally long before they were written down. Most of them must pre-date the Munkhâshi invasion; only a few refer to ktuvoks or demons.

This work is written in very early Caďinor, different both in time and in region from the standard imperial language. It was difficult to read only a few centuries later, and some verses still baffle scholars. It doesn’t help that some hymns use unexplained allusions or metaphors; we assume that these were clear to the original listeners, but it’s also been suggested that secrets of worship were hidden from non-priests.

The hymns are of a standard format: the poet offers some lines of praise for the deity, often repeating customary epithets or deeds, then gets to the real business of asking for favors. They mention nine gods:

Aecton epithets: King of Gods, Lord of the Sun, Judge of Humanity, Comus-born
deeds: destroying and judging the evil; raising up kings; creating humans
boons: blessings for the king, justice, mercy for the dead
Aelilea epithets: Queen of Gods, Protector of Women, Comus-born
deeds: mother of other gods
boons: blessings for the queen, protection for women; royal children
Kaedun epithets: Fiery God; the Sacrificer; Friend of Death
deeds: punishing sinners; bringing death to both evil and good
boons: relief from disasters; curses upon enemies
Betcindos epithets: the Wise God; Armorer of Aecton; the Healing God
deeds: creating weapons for the gods; creating elcari
boons: success in hunting or trade; relief from disease
Perabron epithets: Lord of War; Vanquisher of Chaos
deeds: fighting demons; defeating chaos
boons: victory in war; skill in crafting; return of spring and morning
Durreon epithets: Lord of the Moons; the Swift God; the Protector
deeds: flattened mountains to create Eretald
boons: protection; rescue from calamities
Escina epithets: the Blue Goddess; Wife of Fire; Mistress of Storms
deeds: drew Svetla with a stick; brings rain and floods; created iliu
boons: rain; children
Caloreis epithets: the Life-Bringer; Mistress of Fields; the Merry Goddess
boons: good harvests
Andranont epithets: the Father of All; the Faceless God; the God of Gods
deeds: created the earth and sun; will destroy the earth some day
A sample hymn, addressed to Perabron:
You who defeated the demons, Lord of War,
You whose arm is iron, whose sword is unstoppable,
Do not forget those who bow to you,
Those who offer you cattle and pigs in profusion.

The king’s men saddle their horses, they tie on their armor.
Their swords are sharp, their eyes scan the horizon.
If you strengthen their arms, focus their eyes,
Will not every enemy they slay be a sacrifice to you?

The king in his splendor kisses the feet of your idol,
His men pray to you before they spur their horses forward.
Do not forget them. Guide their hands.

Then they will offer sacrifice, burning in your temple,
Fat will run till you are drunk with it.
Uncountable cattle will be yours, Lord of War.

There are frequent references to sacrifices and other rites performed by the priests, or directly by the king; the hymns were chanted or sung during these rituals. The book as we have it is oriented toward the state cult, which was very interested in recording the rituals and making sure they were transmitted correctly to future priests. Humbler people also worshiped the gods, but they had no manual for doing so.

Though the hymns do not tell full myths, we can reconstruct the cosmology of the world in outline form:

The name Andranont includes the augmentative -ont. For obvious reasons we’ll see this, or its worn-down form -on, in a lot of god names. We’ll often also see -(o)rion ‘master’, feminine -(o)reis ‘mistress’, as in Caloreis.

Aelilea also appears as Aelimeia, cognate to Alameia. So where the hymns refer to the creation of sun and earth, this is equivalent to creating Aecton (sun god) and his wife (Almea).

Kaedun can be said to have invented both life and death. That is, he was the first to create mortal beings. His primary purpose was to create the material for sacrifices, but it’s also said that the defeated demons could not be killed until Kaedun had invented death. He is a god to be feared and propitiated rather than asked for blessings, but his role is benign: he brings death because all mortal things die, but his anger only falls on the sinful. He is not the fallen god of later mythology, though you can see how he might get there.

Aecton and Aelilea are definitely married; Kaedun and Escina (fire and water) also. There is no indication that Caloreis is married.

The epithet Comunesec(a) ‘ Comus-born’ is freely applied to Aecton and Aelilea, once to Perabron, and once to Kaedun. The reference to Aecton and Aelilea being the parents of the other gods is in only one hymn.

Andranont is the only god who is never directly asked for boons. Indeed, as his cosmological role is limited to the far past and the distant future (when he will destroy the earth and re-create it), he is rarely addressed at all, except when the poets are in the mood for reflections on the universe as a whole. Earlier scholars usually concluded that he was the remnant of a previous layer of belief, but there is no evidence that he was worshiped earlier than the other gods. It might well have been the reverse: a need was felt for an Ultimate Cause, someone higher than Aecton.

The next major source is twofold: the Cabraiat Aerei (Songs of the South), a manual of hymns, spells, and rites dating to about 1050, and the Desis Lerian (Bridge to Understanding), a commentary on the former work from around 1250. The commentary explains difficult passages, often by recounting myths or explicating the purpose of rituals.

The songs are more lyrical than those of the Cabraiat nieret, and the language is less archaic, but the format is similar. The major changes are:

But it’s the Desis Lerian which underlines how much the religion had changed. The gods had previously been free and jovial monarchs, with little to do but protect their flock of believers and enjoy their sacrifices. Now they were, like the Arauni themselves, engaged in a great war against an implacable enemy, victory only promised for a time in the distant future.

Despite the greater number of gods, the focus narrows. There are references to all 12 gods, but Andranont and Eidurela are rarely discussed, and even Aecton and Aelilea have receded. The war put the focus on Perabron, the war god, and he is mentioned and worshiped more than any other god. Kaedun and Betcindos, who also have military roles, are almost as powerful.

The goddesses are mentioned with their husbands, but only Escina and Urikira seem to retain a lively worship.

The commentaries also offer a new set of correspondences to the elements:

Kaedun fire
Betcindos earth
Perabron iron
Durreion rock
Escina water
Urikira spirit, or light
This is not quite the same as the Caďinorian list of elements, below.

The kingdom of Caďinas

Beretos finds six gods worshiped in the Ctelm mountains before the Munkhâshi invasion:
Endauron lord of the heavens and storms
Iscira goddess of light; his consort
Mieranac patron of war and the hunt
Kravcaena goddess of the earth, farmers, and fishermen
Necťeruon god of craft
Veharies goddess of love
He believes that these were restricted to the mountains— he reports that there are uncountable gods, including ones restricted to a profession, or a single noble family. He says that an individual Caďin will only worship one or two gods, and change gods if he is dissatisfied with them.

Though he mentions a visit to Ctesifos, he says nothing about its gods. Other Cuzeian sources, however, always record Endauron as the chief of Ctesifos’s gods. The original Caďin settlement of Eretald must have moved eastward from the Svetla; thus the gods of the middle Svetla, those of Caďinas, ended up also in the mountains where Beretos was stationed.

Orûrelo’s play mentions the number of gods in Ctesifos as being twelve, without naming them. It must be coincidence that this is the number of (major) gods listed in the Aďivro, since not all the Aďivro gods were worshipped yet.

The Caďinorians learned writing (from the Arauni) around 750. One of our earliest religious sources comes from 800. People wrote prayers to Caloteion on strips of reed and placed them in a hole in his statue at the Hill Temple in Ctesifos. The priests would read them in the inner sanctuary, then burn them; but one batch survived and were discovered in 2922, when king Bura, having freed Žésifo from the Curiyans, decided to build a new temple on the site of the Hill Temple’s ruins.

Some examples:

That the drought end, there is too much sun.

That I may wed the daughter of the baker on the third street from the river.

Caloton, our greatest friend among the gods, my heart churns.

That my enemy's crops rot, that his children fall to the plague, that his wife cuckold him with a slave.

May the wife of Oforidomos sleep with me.

You must end the curse which the fantos put on me, and kill the one who asked for it.

May father return quickly from the war.

Archeological evidence for Caloteion is particularly easy to find, because there are always representations of the sun— the symbol which eventually became the sunburst, the symbol of Caďinorian religion. From these we can easily see that his cult originated in the north, in Cayenas. This is no doubt why Beretos found no mention of him in 287. But the fact that a large temple already existed in Ctesifos in 800 shows that he had been adopted there quite early.

His consort, goddess of night, is named in these prayers as Fidora— but as Menagria in the north. The Caďin evidently came to feel that each god needed a wife, but the northern and middle kingdoms each invented their own. Caloteion was frequently asked to intercede with the other gods. There are references to all of Beretos’s gods, and two more: Boďnehais, god of war, and Oronteion, god of wisdom.

Later sources agree that Boďnehais appeared with the war against Munkhâsh. Very likely he is a promoted fantos, a warrior spirit who spread from soldiers to their officers. His name is likely a corrupted form of Meťaiun boťengo ‘battle’.

Oronteion has been linked, not really convincingly, to two different sources: either the Okrond of Cayenas (below), or to the Cuzeian Ulōne.

The goddess Agireis was borrowed from Cayenas after its conquest (1079). Having a sea goddess was not very important to Caďinas until it had a seafront.

The last of the classical gods was Escis, who appears around 1200. She is also a boundary crosser: artists and lovers borrowed the lovely and active Escina from Araunicoros.

The kingdom of Cayenas

The Cuzeians gave the name Cayenas, cognate to Caďinas, to the Svetla river. (Or more precisely, to the lower Svetla plus the Meuna; the upper Svetla, where Araunicoros is found, they assigned to the Metōre.) This became the name of a Cuzeian state north of Metaiu, which was taken over by Caďin in -300.

The northern language lost the c/k distinction, and retained only k in their alphabet. They represented Cayenas as Kahinas and then, regularizing the ending, to Kahinos. The Caďinorians borrowed this by spelling, pronouncing it [qahinos]. This gave us Verdurian Kaino.

Even more than Araunicoros, early Cayenas was influenced by Cuzei in government, diplomacy, literature, and religion. Its upper classes spoke Cuêzi and attended Cuêzi plays; a Glade was built for the Cuzeian god. Beretos reports that they worship Iáinos (though he does not claim to have visited there).

However, Cuzeianification was not very deep, and by the 800s Caďin worship reasserted itself.

The main gods were these:

Andanos creator god
Caloteion the sun god, king of the gods
Menagria his consort; patron of the harvest (seen as fertilized by the sun)
Agireis goddess of the sea
Beuneiro god of the forests and the iliu; consort of Agireis
Duretaia goddess of war, guardian of humanity
Okrond god of death and destruction; consort of Duretaia
Velaria goddess of love and marriage (cognate to Veharies)
Meconso god of knowledge and fire; consort of Velaria
Caloteion was worshiped from the most ancient times, and today remains the most popular god in the north of Eretald. As mentioned above, the Caďinorians adopted him long before the conquest of Cayenas.

Agireis is a borrowing of Agibna, the greatest of the Meťaiun kemu. The kem of the mountain Debúnimor was also worshiped, though as a minor god named Demurion.

Meconso has a Meťaiun etymology: honorific me- + goγso ‘fiery’. This was not a kem; it was the name of the holy fire in which sacrifices were made to appease the kemu. It was a short step to personify the holy fire, though this was taken only by the Caďin.

Andanos has the same role as the Arauni Andranont. Very likely he is the local form of *Endanor (Endauron) rather than a separate god. In Cayenas, he was associated with the Cuzeian god Iáinos, and many of his hymns and rituals were borrowed from the Cuzeians. He was considered the father of the other gods. In some texts he has a wife Urones, based on the Cuzeian Ulōne.

Duretaia was the ally and patron of warriors, but the giver of death in battle. With the Munkhâshi invasion, she was increasingly blamed for the war— first propitiated, then feared as a demon. Her consort Okrond underwent an even greater decline: from the impartial judge of the dead, to a demon of destruction, to a mindless primeval monster.

Velaria is a dialectal variant of Caďinor Veharies, and underlies Verdurian Vlerë.

As we’ll see, many of the gods of Cayenas ended up in the somewhat humiliating role of attendants to the Caďinorian gods.

The imperial period

The invasion

The Munkhâshi invasion was an unimaginable catastrophe for the Caďin peoples. Though no Cuzeian territory was permanently occupied, only a narrow band along the Svetla river remained free. The vast majority of Caďin lived under occupation.

The stratified society described by Beretos was entirely destroyed except in Cayenas and Araunicoros. The barons could not maintain their social superiority and many of them perished at the front. All social classes were thrust together in the impoverished and imperiled towns; the two-tier religion of pre-invasion time could not survive.

In 720, Prigediset, the king of Ctesifos established the Caďinorian League (Cundetanda caďina). This was in theory a military alliance where Ctesifos was only the leader during wartime; but Ctesifos took a broad view of military necessity. It also took the position that reconquered land was to be distributed by the League— in practice, by Ctesifos. In 977 king Oȟocuerdos formally recognized what had been true de facto for a century: the League had become the Kingdom of Caďinas. The capital’s name acquired an augmentative, becoming Ctesifon.

As late as 950, Araunicoros was the larger state, and expanded its already strong royal structures into the new territories.

Caďinas, more than the other Caďin states, also turned its attention westwards, absorbing the minor Karazi states as Cuzei declined, culminating in the occupation of Cuzei itself in 1024.


To fight Munkhâsh, the League believed, required the complete militarization of society. The League itself was intended to end inter-town rivalry and occasional war. Every able-bodied man was expected to go to war against the ktuvoks (lisucrionit ‘lords of the swamp’), and not a few women joined them. In the early days, this was facilitated by communal ownership and military administration of reconquered farmland.

The gods too were expected to mobilize. Armies were blessed before a campaign and along the march; victorious generals were given religious processions. Priests were expected to shore up support for the endless war.

There were no significant territorial gains until the 900s— nearly 500 years since the invasion. This immediately revealed a problem: religion was in a bad state in the reconquered territory. There were no priests. Many people among the lebeleuit (the ‘new freemen’) believed in the Six Gods, or in no gods at all. Those who remembered Caďin gods knew little more than their names. Many lebeleuit barely spoke understandable Caďinor.

The solution was to establish schools for priestsclaetandet ‘oath-places’. New territories were administered by the military, so the generals set up the claetandet and oversaw the training. (At least they didn’t have to pay them: their new subjects paid a tithe to support them.) They wrote manuals, rituals, and hymns that taught the correct religion, supported the kingdom, and encouraged more war. The priests were supposed to meet all the religious needs of the people— they were not to seek out fantit. Priests were also expected to model correct Caďinor, and serve as spies for the military administration.

Priests were subordinate to the local miltary prefect (esarȟ). Eventually these put a priestly official in charge— the vacurion. A pidrarȟ back in Ctesifon was responsible for both the vacurionit and the claetandet.

This sort of organization is familiar to us from the Catholic Church, but it is entirely unlike any terrestrial paganism— Roman, Greek, Hindu. In short, the state made it its business to supervise both belief and practice in all of the new territories. The strip of original Caďinorian territory along the Svetla was not part of the system, but was influenced by it, especially as it too sent priests to the claetandet.

Priests could come from any class, but as with most professions there was a strong tendency for the position to become hereditary. Vacurionit and other officials were appointed from the nobility.

This system has always remained the ideal for Tësaďát, and even today it’s what conservatives who talk about so ül uris aspire to.

What was taught

We have the manuals written for the claetandet. There were three: We don’t have copies from the time of the League itself; our earliest manuscripts are from the early Empire, around 1050.

Earlier scholars tended to skip over these books, in favor of the Aďivro— which was not completed till 2350. It’s understandable to focus on the book which is still living scripture, and which contains the most elaborate formulation of the religion. But it’s also distorting, as the books which governed religious life for the thousand years of Caďinas’s golden age, the books studied by Keadau and Ervëa, by Genremos and Ilcorea, were these ‘primitive’ manuals.

The syncretism of later times is not yet evident: the gods of Araunicoros and Cayenas were not worshiped (except for Caloteion). There are no retellings of the iliu-ktuvok wars, and little interest in the creation of the world.

The adultery of Endauron and Kravcaena is mentioned obliquely in some hymns, and Iscira was still implored not to let night and winter last forever, but the story is never told directly. It seems to have been felt unworthy of the gods, and later compendia scrub the story even further; winter becomes associated with the demons, while night was associated with Fidora and given a more benign interpretation.

The founding of Ctesifon and of the Caďinorian League, and the war with Munkhâsh are all given mythological sanction. We can outline the story as follows:

The Caďin have always lived in Eretald, but came to be dominated by evil kings known as the Scadrorionit, the Master Riders. Endauron caused the city of Ctesifos to be founded, intending it to overthrow the Riders, but like a child it had to grow before it could act.

The gods begat various humans to form noble families. Finally the lines of Endauron and Iscira are united in Erbelaica, who defeats the Scadrorionit and becomes king of Ctesifos.

His son Aertund, however, must face an even greater threat. The Scadrorionit, humiliated by their loss, abandon the gods and ask the demons (vioctet) to reclaim their land. The demons— never given names, but identified with the Six Gods— oblige, bringing on the Munkhâshi invasion. Aertund fights on Earth, aided by the hero Maranȟ, while the gods fight the demons in heaven.

The war lasts for centuries, and it seems the demons are too strong. But the warrior maiden Kolleiva makes a quest to the domain of Boďnehais, a god known for his martial prowess, but who has not yet participated in the fight. She convinces him to fight for the Caďinorians.

She returns to Ctesifos and engineers a revolution— elevating the brave king Prigediset over his weak and ineffectual uncle Aeluťgenos. Prigediset unites the Caďinorian people in the Caďinorian League, Boďnehais joins the fight, and the tide of battle begins to shift.

This story is myth, not history— though it was all the history many Caďinorians learned for centuries, and it fulfilled the need for heroes, an inspiring past, and a prophesied great future. The kings are real, but the chronology is rejiggered. Erbelaica, considered the first king of Ctesifos, did throw out the Scadrorionit in 462. But Munkhâsh had already invaded, in 440. (The weakness of the Scadrorionit in the face of the invasion is undoubtedly a factor in the revolutions against them in Ctesifos and other cities.)

There’s no historical evidence for Maranȟ, or against him. He fights the Munkhâshi, of course, and is even credited with breaking the siege of Eleisa. But most of his exploits are fanciful, and many don’t even take place in Eretald. He fights múrtani alongside the elcari of the Elkarinor Mountains; he helps the iliu resist a Munkhâshi invasion of Telarsanië and marries an iliu princess; he fights dragons in the Barbarian Plain; he brings new weapons from the forge of Necťeruon.

Kolleiva is stated to be his granddaughter— but Prigediset took power in 713, nearly two centuries after the death of Aertund. And it wasn’t until the late 800s till Caďinas really began to gain ground from the Munkhâshi.

On an everyday level, Spais aiďocliťoi includes these directives for priests:

The people must always be led to love the King and to know the story of Caďinas and its gods. They may tire of the struggle agains the demons; you must always cultivate their fighting spirit.

The lebeleus who asks once about the Six Gods is to be pitied and instructed. If he continues to worship them, he is to be considered one of the enemy.

Do not neglect the needs and concerns of the people, for if they do not find an ear in you, they will look to others of baser character.

The gods have many names, but their faces do not change. If the people use a different name, do not change the name, but learn which god’s face is worn.

People under your care will still do evil. The question the Judges will ask you is not if they did evil, but if you led them to improvement.

If there are wild godspeakers among the lebeleuit, befriend them, and teach them how the gods they know relate to ours. But if they oppress the people, denounce and punish them.

If a godspeaker does not himself fear the gods, no punishment can be enough for him! The king will put him to death, and the gods will put him in the place of darkness.

These strictures are reminiscent of Chairman Máo’s advice to communist cadres working among the peasants: listen to the people, work for the people, but also be wary of The Enemy infiltrated among them.

What was done

A good deal of scholarship has gone into counting and dating Caďin gods, and yet in a real sense no one cared who you worshiped. The jibe of the Count of Years was that the Caďin would worship anyone, and this isn’t entirely false, as the very plethora of gods showed.

What the Caďin felt strongly about, what they felt was the core of their religion, was their rites. These can be divided into public and family rites.

Public rites or festivals (curendet) are organized by the local noble, or the community. These were conducted by a noble, included an animal sacrifice, and concluded with a communal meal. For the poor these might be the only time they ate meat, and they were very attached to these occasions; indeed, the noble was advised:

Milaso di ut procior budones.
Give meat so that you do not give your own [flesh].
These grew to include dances, sermons, and edifying plays. The people added markets, contests, games, and other amusements. The overall purpose was to ensure fertility for the fields, victory in battle, mildness of climate.

(The curendet varied over the centuries; the modern listing is that of the Aďivro.)

Family rites (ureicet) celebrate life passages. From imperial times on, even peasants were supposed to use the official godspeakers, those who had graduated from a claetanda. The overall form is the same as for a curenda: the priest does his ritual and then you have a big meal.

Some rites were tied to a particular god, or to all the gods; others could be offered to the god of a region or family.

The coming-of-age instruction was mostly delivered by relatives, but as the ceremonies involved recitations in Caďinor this means some one-on-one time with the local priest. During the imperial period this helped ensure that everyone understood the standard dialect to some extent.

The coming-of-age ceremony was shared with the Cuzeians, and there are also versions of it among the Naviu; probably the practice dates back to Proto-Eastern times. Mešaism did not include it, however.

After death you went to Iscaria (the ‘sought’ place). Early sources are quite vague on what this was, but the myths slowly elaborated this as a kingdom directly ruled by Mieranac, with its own complex geography. E.g. the central river was named Hidor; to the south were the Mountains of Terror (Parnet guebreicae) bordering the realm of demons, and to the north the Mountains of Joy (Parnet zulae) bordering the realm of Endauron. To the west were the afterworlds of elcari and iliu, and to the east a sea which led to Almea.

Judges would evaluate the deceased’s life and assign appropriate blessings and punishments— it was possible to receive both. The worst offenders were relegated to Scorunda, the Place of Darkness.

The dead might still interact with the living. The ordinary word for a ghost, a reappearing spirit, was fantos. It’s not clear if the fantit who possessed godspeakers in early religion were dead spirits, or whether they gave their name to ghosts— or whether believers would even understand the question. In any case, by imperial times a fantos was always a dead spirit. Their powers were mostly spiritual— they could speak or grant visions. They could affect physical things in our world only clumsily, or by possessing an animal or person.

You were well advised to propitiate your own ancestors, giving them thanks, memorials, or small sacrifices such as a glass of wine. If a fantos became too troublesome, it could be kept at bay using iron, which fantit couldn’t stand.

An individual usually had their “own god” (aiďos procior). There were conventional choices, such as these:

Endauron kings, nobles, judges, lawyers, magicians
Iscira noblewomen, midwives, women seeking children
Caloteion young men, herdsmen, bankers, travelers, athletes
Fidora innkeepers, thieves, gamblers
Oronteion scholars, physicians, writers, teachers
Kravcaena farmers, wine-makers, drinkers, bakers, herbalists
Necťeruon craftsmen, merchants, builders, traders (by land)
Escis artists, singers, bohemians, lunatics, prostitutes
Boďnehais soldiers, servant men, gymnasts, hunters
Agireis sailors, sea traders, fishermen
Mieranac smiths, metalworkers, miners, weapon-makers, judges
Veharies maidens, weavers, tailors, servant women, people seeking lovers/spouses
But this was only a starting point, and one could also choose minor or regional gods, or change one’s personal god. It was never anyone else’s business whose god you followed, though it was not a secret.

You could ask favors of your personal god, or offer sacrifices, or get help from their priests. The god responded with blessings, dreams, and the words of priests. There was very little sense of love for the god, or even any call for better behavior. The gods might punish sin, but this was more abstract (and usually referred to Endauron or the Fates). Your personal god wasn’t going to rebuke or reject you for sin— though he might be offended by neglect.

The wedding ceremony

To show how Caďinorian rites worked, we’ll look in more detail at the ureica nosei, the wedding rite. The wedding was principally an arrangement between families, and this involved negotiation, gifts, and solemnization by priests representing each family. The groom gave the bride’s family a gift (nosiuile), intended to be fairly substantial, showing his ability to support a household. Each family gave a feast for the other.

The groom and bride were dressed in their best clothes. They may have met only in the last few days; they are understandably feeling very awkward. They stand in two parties, each with their parents and their priest, preferably at the door of the house in which they will reside. The actual ceremony was spoken in Caďinor.

Just before the ceremony, a large pot or glass is broken, not too close to the door. This is done to get everyone’s attention— including that of the demons, who are supposed to either be distracted, or satisfied that something has been damaged so they don’t have to cause any harm themselves.

(If you use these vows, feel free to balance out the Caďinorians’ sexism. And send me pictures!)

GROOM’S PRIEST: Belorit, procicue pseril. Friends, grant us your attention.

BRIDE’S PRIEST: Miďile puguat, ut pro meguan. Let revelry cease, if only for a time.

GP: Endauron Isciran marevut, cum aelon iulin ——, meďos tandes, —— luren er plohen marut. As Endauron wed Iscira, our son —— weds the beautiful and modest maiden ——.

BP: Iscira Endauron aldevut, cum aelon iulin ——, neca tandies, —— tailen er praden marut. As Iscira accepted Endauron, our daughter —— weds the brave and honest ——.

GP: Aela gina bumarela estes? Is this maiden unmarried?

Aelan ginan redires? Has she undergone her redel?

Aela gina nosiuilea aldeces? Has she received the nosiuile?

Aelu sulel er tagia zehie aelea ginaa dibreetis er aldetes? Is this maiden chosen and accepted by this man and his family?

(These questions were answered by the bride’s parents. In early times a short answer sufficed, but later the family took the opportunity to praise both the bride and her new husband.)

(Till they are married, the couple are referred to as gina er sulel, maiden and youth.)

(Asking about the redel both ensures that the girl is old enough to marry, and that she isn’t foreign. Technically a foreign bride had to have a redel to marry, but the priests could waive this.)

BP: Aelu sulel bumarel estes? Is this youth unmarried?

Aelu sulel nacuim aldeces? Has he undergone his nacuis?

Aelu sulel nosiuilea sidires, perues zennos pelegantei esan? Has he presented the nosiuile, as the first sign of his care?

Aela gina er tagia zehie aeleť sulel dibreetis er aldetes? Is this youth chosen and accepted by this woman and her family?

(The groom’s parents answer. Again, short speeches of praise were later inserted.)
GP: ——, esistasces scehiae alcalieie is Iscarian kira es. Scatabim, lond, er liubor ctanut; midra keťulie leruie estes, er cumae lerie cuedros. Mano nunc preni, er claetu pred aiďin , kahe aecta tekunt cum seon er lun. ——, the greatest of all treasures outside Iscaria is a wife. She brings you companionship, honor, and love; she will be the mother of your children, and the heart of your house. Take her hand now and make your vow before the gods, who are as present as you and I.
(The priest could offer more advice in the vernacular.)
GROOM (prompted by GP): Pred tagian erin, pred aiďin kaham urao, ——, lun marui. Kira eris seis. Lun ceple estao, ek ȟegiemai, keťuli tandei vehaťemai, er belor tagian lerin estao. Before my family, before the gods I worship, I marry you, ——. You are my wife. I will be faithful to you and protect you, cherish our children, and be a friend to your family.
(The groom’s parents also state their acceptance and love for their new daughter-in-law.)
BP: ——, calenos saeae aiďos er maris es. Scatabim, amareicaa, er liubor ctanut; pidor keťulie leruie estes, er domei lerii itiran. Mano nunc preni, er claetu pred aiďin, kahe psiekeda taim sterunt. ——, the fortress of a woman is her god and her husband. He brings you companionship, respect, and love; he will be the father of your children, and the spirit of your house. Take his hand now and make your vow before the gods, who watch us always.

BRIDE (prompted by BP): Pred tagian erin, pred aiďin kaham urao, ——, lun marui. Maris eris seis. Lun ceple estao, ek pelegemai, keťuli tandei vehaťemai, er belora tagian lerin estao. Before my family, before the gods I worship, I marry you, ——. You are my husband. I will be faithful to you and care for you, cherish our children, and be a friend to your family.

(The bride’s parents also state their acceptance and love for their new son-in-law.)

The bride and groom now each place a garment on the other. This was usually a guintro, a sash or scarf, or else sandals (calceoi). They could choose who would hand them the guintro— usually a friend or a relative of the same age.

GP: Aiďocliťuť ——ei, cliťao dia nosos cumpugae. Claeto pred aiďan caucan buepes; ut aela mareica nikeda caucemet. As priest of ——, I pronounce you married. A vow before a god cannot be broken; let this marriage also be unbreakable.

BP: Im dom munde laudil, urestu er saea sont. Meďi keťil er nurul, vioctei, psuda sont brigan; er neceim cumaa sterer. Cum benetan laudil atrabionei er aiďie er tagiae mundiae. Go into your house now, as man and wife. Bear and raise sons to fight the demons wherever they may be, and daughters to make their homes. Go with the blessings of the Emperor, the gods, and your families.

The groom leads the bride into the house. They’re allowed to kiss, with great whooping by the guests. Notionally, they are now free to go create those children for the Empire, but of course what they really do is head for wherever the wedding meal is served.

The ceremony in the Aďivro is similar, but much longer, as things that had been improvised or optional were inserted into the text. In modern times, only the fundamentalists insist on using the full Caďinor text from the Aďivro. Though the nosiuile (Ver. nosüe) has always persisted, its size and importance varied. Among the medieval nobility, where raising sons was far more important than raising daughters, it was only nominal, and the bride’s family gave greater gifts to the groom’s.

The soul

In the earliest Caďin thought, the entire body was the seat of the soul, and its aspects were located in particular organs: the will lived in the heart, understanding in the eyes, frustration in the stomach, fear in the bowels. Such expressions continued through the classical period, but the philosphers rationalized them into the doctrine of the quadripartite soul (itiran pahorťuor). The four parts of the soul were: Note that what we would call ‘guts’— i.e. physical courage— the Caďin assigned to itiran. (And yes, itiran was the name for a part and also for the whole.)

A person could be under the domination (krucor) of any of these elements. The ideal was to be dominated by itiran, which produced the best balance and morality. The man dominated by radum was intelligent but amoral; to be dominated by lerias was to delight only in the senses, i.e. to be a hedonist. The worst state was to be dominated by the animal passions.

One could also be bumusces (‘scant’) in one part of the soul— e.g. to be lacking in lerias was to be dull and unobservant; to be weak in itiran was to be wishy-washy or corruptible; to lack ȟumos was to be too detached from the world. (Inevitably, perhaps, the most common way to be bumusces ȟumei was to be impotent.)

Another way of classifying the soul, and the intelligent species of Almea, was to link them to the seven elements:

huros clay men down to earth, practical
meis water ilii benevolent, wise, happy, playful
ďomile stone elcari strong, determined, patient
endis wood icëlani quiet, shy, timid
guentos metal gdeoni strong, powerful, brave
turos fire ktuvoks fiery, fierce, energetic
scaleia air vyoži intellectual, unworldly
All humans are hurises (‘made of clay’) in comparison with the other species, but of course a particular human can be described as having any of these temperaments. Saying that someone was ‘metallic’ or ‘like a giant’ was shorthand for referring to the associated temperament.

The term viocta mierae ‘demon of fire’, based on this classification, was a euphemism for lisucrion ‘ktuvok’. (The modern Verdurian term ktuvóc comes from Elkarîl.)

Caďinorian law

Ceornactec (r. 1238-1261) issued the first written legal code, and created courts (sudrit) to handle disputes. The code was divided into two parts:

Both sets of laws derived from the military regulations for lebeleuit. Recall that almost all Caďinorian territory was at first administered through military grants. As much as a half of the land east of the Svetla and west of the Ctelm mountains remained as such at Ceornactec’s accession. He converted most of this land to civilian rule, but the new law code made it clear that nobles and cities both remained under imperial control.

The sudrit were for disputes between citizens, and thus required both a plaintiff and an accused. (This sometimes created difficult situations if one party was dead, or in hiding.) The obligations of a citizen to the state were handled by a different concept (spais ‘duty’) and by different courts (curies). Violent crime was not really a matter of law, but public order: thieves and murderers had no rights and could be dealt with by any authority— city officials, landholders, priests, even heads of families.

The Sacred Laws removed the priests from military supervision (except in newly conquered areas). In practice, this meant that direct supervision of priests in rural areas largely ended when they left the claetandet and took up their posts. The transition to civilian rule also meant that priests normally came from the areas where they served.

This certainly led to some variation in belief, but that never bothered the Caďinorians. If a new god arose, it was merely necessary to declare it an alias, a child, or an attendant of the official gods.


A sense of Caďinorian social ethics is given in the Six Sentences, which was repeated at most festivals:
Aȟ altren buvaurebri, nis tenoraa totei veli.
Cause no harm to another, nor steal away what is theirs.

Kiran lerin budisclaetu, er solucoleicaa kodi: aiďi psiet pseront.
Betray not your wife, and abstain from sexual perversion: the gods watch all.

Meďoť virniť aefaran lerin snuci, er logi atrabionei mesmi Endauronei pensu.
Obey your lord as a faithful son, and consider the words of the Emperor as those of Endauron himself.

Uili calpu, er denni totei cretebri, admetteca kiscui er licrei bugaenu.
Revere the old, and make their days glad, and do not oppress the weak and the poor.

Meťiam kettot Bunnoris lun dae melicue monni; nis pigres nis orguel nis leorul buesi.
Work well at the tasks Bunnoris has given you; be neither lazy nor boastful nor a drunkard.

Bunesise ditavi cum iulin baraďum lerim; er kaham aefar ili atrabion psorunt colapri.
Favor the stranger as if he were your own brother; and come to the aid of those who serve your lord or Emperor.

Beretos quotes a Caďin proverb— “any stranger might be a god in disguise”— and the same proverb can be heard three millennia later. In any village or town in ancient or modern Eretald, a stranger could easily find a meal and a night’s lodging; and even in large cities it didn’t take much to get invited to someone’s home.

In pre-imperial times the gods were rarely conceived as enforcers of morality. Like the king, they might punish the wicked, but that usually meant great evildoers. With the reconquest, the authorities felt that the lebeleuit needed moral as well as religious instruction. The gods were increasingly depicted as demanding good behavior, and refusing blessings to sinners.

Caďinorian society was sexist by modern standards— like most premodern societies. It was certainly worse for women than Cuzei. It did not have the cult of virginity found in Christianity, nor the notion that sex was only for procreation— but a marriage was supposed to produce sons for a man, which produced much of the same patriarchal effect. But there were some curious mitigations:

As in premodern Christian societies, marriages were mostly arranged. (Either party could turn down a proposed match, but that only meant that the families would find another one.) This did not prevent affairs made for love, especially among the nobility. In plays and stories, adultery is something of a peccadillo, only really a problem for plot reasons. On the other hand, moralists and priests ringingly condemned such affairs, and there was no open advocacy for the Cuzeian idea of coelīras.

You might wonder if the existence of goddesses mitigated the sexism. Unfortunately, as in ancient Rome and Greece, the answer is “not really.” But the goddesses had the same freedom to act as gods; they were in no way deferential to the gods. The rare noble or imperial women in power, such as the empress Lirfilis, were similarly imperious.

Polygamy was common for the elite in the pre-imperial period, but the claetandet disapproved of it. This was probably due to the egalitarian-though-sexist mores of the Munkhâshi wars: it was wrong to hog all the women. It was officially prohibited in the imperial period; even the emperors could only have concubines.

The Cuzeians avoided unwanted pregnancy using a contraceptive herb, uciro. This must have been disapproved of under the empire, for we rarely hear of it, and in modern times its powers are considered mythical, except in Barakhinei lands.

If you ask gave Caďin religion a survey on homosexuality, its reply would be “It’s complicated”. As noted, lesbian sex and relationships were actually approved of. Some moralists applied the same standard to boys, figuring it was better to experiment with each other than with girls. Others worried that it was buponre, unmanly.

There was no concept of “gay” as a category. One corollary was that there was a lot of experimentation, especially in youth, or in same-sex institutions like the army and the claetandet. Another was that being gay, by our standards, didn’t hinder marriage. All you had to do was produce one male heir.

Caďinorian history is long, and attitudes weren’t the same in all places or regions. It may or may not be meaningful that one way to refer to gay sex was meas leziunis, the act of Leziunea.

Male homosexuality was never illegal or forbidden. It was included in the general category of solucoleica, perversity; but then, so were prostitution, orgies, and adultery. And as one moralist put it, suis urestu busam solucoleican es, no man is without some vice.

The epic of Kolleiva

The stories told about the gods in the official sources (and later, the Aďivro) are scanty. There is a sense of the character and functions of the gods, but they rarely do anything.

The creation of mythology began with the godspeakers of popular religion— though their stories were about the fantit, not the gods. The godspeakers declined in importance after the Munkhâshi invasion, and their place was taken by poets, storytellers, and dramatists. This was an iterative process: a storyline would emerge, be elaborated by a sequence of storytellers, and finally coalesce (joined with other stories) in the master epics of the classical era.

The development process did not stop with the master epics, but these remained definitive. E.g. there were stories of Kolleiva after Teltailes, but after him they were inevitably elaborations of or commentary on Teltailes.

Not coincidentally, the master epics coincide with the rediscovery of Cuzei. Very early sources were too parochial to pay Cuzei much notice; before the conquest Cuzei was seen as weak and decadent; after it there was a period of hostility and defiant Caďinorization. But by the 1300s it was possible to embrace Cuzeian history and culture. The first works absorbed were the epics and plays; it’s notable that all the Caďinorian epics are written in meters derived from the Cuzeian epics, and they are filled with direct borrowings of style and incident.

The first of these works was Rocca Kolleivae (The epic of Kolleiva), a long poem by the poet Teltailes, dated about 1375. The plot is as follows:

In Iscaria, an angry Maranȟ demands to see Caloteion, his father. He points out the sorry state of Caďinas: oppressed by the lazy monarch Aeluťgenos and beset by the ktuvoks and demons. Why has a champion not yet been born to defeat them?

It’s Fidora who responds: “You have not seen, because you looked only at men. Look again.” Maranȟ now looks at the maidens of Ctesifon, and sees Kolleiva, of the line of his own daughter Aervaďes, who puts asides the dolls and clothes her mother gives her and goes to fight with— and beat— her brothers and cousins.

An evil counselor, Speroctodos, has also noticed Kolleiva, but for her burgeoning beauty. He prevails on Aeluťgenos to make her his wife. He orders her father to bring the maiden, but she has been warned, and flees to the temple of Iscira. There, the goddess herself comforts her, and gives her a powerful sword. She tells her to join the army as a boy.

This she does, and her bravery and intelligence cause her to rise in the ranks. When she defeats a ktuvok single-handedly, she is brought before the king. Her father is present, and cannot keep from calling out her name. Her identity revealed, Speroctodos insists that she become his wife. She refuses, on the legal grounds— supplied by her father— that a soldier cannot be forced into matrimony. But this angers the king, who throws both of them in prison.

Kolleiva tells her father that she will marry Speroctodos in order to free him. But another prisoner passionately objects. His name is Fantoponos, and he is a general. He also had success in war, and was thrown in prison on specious grounds. Other prisoners have similar tales, and finally one of them reveals himself as Vereion, herald of Endauron. The king is too fearful to fight the demons. But the gods cannot prevail either, because they do not have the assistance of the warrior god Boďnehais, who has remained neutral in the war.

Vereion helps Kolleiva escape from the prison, and steal back her sword. She must journey into the western mountains to find Boďnehais. His domain is guarded, and she has to defeat various monsters to advance into it. The last one breaks her sword, but then laughs, changes into human form, and extends his hand to lift her up. This is Boďnehais himself. He has stayed out of the fight because though his father is Mieranac, his mother is a demon. Neither side has sent a messenger before that could defeat his monsters. She pleads with him eloquently to help the gods and the Caďinorians.

He agrees, but only if she can replace the unwarlike Aeluťgenos. He gives her new armor and weapons. She returns to Ctesifos and gathers allies— freeing Fantoiponos and her father from prison, and attracting others with the promise of the god’s aid.

Her allies are ready to storm the palace, but she says that she does not wish to have Caďinorian fight Caďinorian. Instead she invokes an old law that the heir of the king can challenge a feeble king for the throne; the heir is Aeluťgenos’s nephew Prigediset. She talks to Prigediset, who agrees to make the claim. Aeluťgenos too agrees; his counselor Speroctodos is out of the capital and cannot advise him otherwise.

On the day of the duel, Aeluťgenos invokes another old law: he can be represented by a champion. His champion is a captured ktuvok, ten feet tall. Kolleiva immediately volunteers to fight him for Prigediset. She wins, but she takes what seems to be a mortal blow. She gives a fine dying speech imploring the assembled nobles to give the throne to Prigediset.

At this point Boďnehais strides into the court, in his most fearsome half-demon aspect. Aeluťgenos runs away, while Prigediset advances to attack the intruder. They exchange several blows before Kolleiva’s weak voice stops them. Boďnehais tells Prigediset to put their duel on hold. He then comes to Kolleiva and heals her wound.

Prigediset now realizes that he has attacked a god, and begs forgiveness. The war god is not upset— he praises the prince’s boldness. The royals and nobles agree that Aeluťgenos has forfeited the throne and Prigediset is given the sash of office.

At this point Speroctodos rushes in. He sees Kolleiva and no one else and, infuriated, he demands justice from the king. He is informed that Prigediset is king, and Prigediset gives him justice: he throws him in prison, and names Kolleiva chief general of his armies.

The rest of the gods appear to give their blessings and welcome Boďnehais to their side.

All this takes up seven of the eight cantos of the epic. The last canto briefly outlines the formation of the Caďinorian League, including Prigediset’s strategem (taken from the histories) of bringing the League’s army to each city; the ever-growing force was his best argument for unity. The poem quickly moves through several battles, then slows down to tell the story of the capture of Cterano. This is Kolleiva’s last battle, for she gives her life to win it. Boďnehais himself escorts her to Iscaria, where she meets Maranȟ and is named a general of the gods’ own armies.

The tone throughout is earnest and lofty; Teltailes has no time for nuance or humor or even romance. But the patriotic theme matched the spirit of the times. Kolleiva has been well-beloved for millennia, but especially by girls not interested in domesticity.

Locations and customs are updated to the imperial age— indeed, several times the author slips and calls the kings atrabion, emperor. Kolleiva’s journey west and her campaigns to the east are all told with place names of the 1300s. Cterano was a major city in Teltailes’s time, but not in Prigediset’s. Prigediset of course did found the Caďinorian League, but the whole story is a baseless calumny on Aeluťgenos, who was unexceptional but hardly a villain.

The introductory scene recognizes, even emphasizes, that a good deal of time has passed since Maranȟ died. It’s quite impossible that Kolleiva is simply his granddaughter; the poet inserts two more generations in her descent.

Kolleiva takes a brief tour through Cuzei, and in the mountains she encounters several enemies borrowed from Cuzeian epics, including Celōusio’s dragon and Antāu’s witch. However, there are no borrowings from Cuzeian cosmology and history, because it was not yet available: the Count of Years was translated into Caďinor by Ȟimauro in 1421. This opened up grand stretches of time, and Caďinorian writers and thinkers freely borrowed from it.


We’re only in the middle of the story of the gods, but we already have to pause to consider the philosophers. The greatest name of the classical era is Genremos, who lived during the time of the emperor Benoras (r. 1392-1424). A friend and advisor of Benoras, he is credited with the replacement of traditional hereditary posts with appointments based on merit.

Philosophy was an existing discipline by his time— kestora, literally ‘the categories’: the first step to learning about the world was to learn the names and categories of things. Where we normally see these things as arbitrary, the philosophers took language and names as having inherent power, and offering special knowledge to the wise.

The importance of Genremos is his insistance on practical observations and tests. He compared scholars’ writings on the body with that of physicians, and was impressed that physicians sometimes discarded treatments that didn’t work. The scholars, by contrast, judged truth by elegance and pure reason, an attitude inherited from the Cuzeians. He applied his theories most clearly in his best-known work, Eta Caduin (On Law). He compared the law codes he was aware of— from the Caďin states and Cuzei— and attempted to devise a “law of nature” which underlay them.

In ethics, his Eta aeluťan er melantan (On virtue and goodness) posited two axes of morality, one based on the community, one based on the individual. His most famous thought experiment was to consider the state of the spiritual sage in a wholly corrupt society, and a completely amoral rogue in an entirely just one. (His ultimate point was that both axes were necessary.)

His chief work on religion is Eta aiďantan (On godhood), which shows that the divergence between temple worship and philosophy had already grown deep. He has little interest in temple worship or even the teachings of the claetandet. If the gods exist, they must have little interest in the affairs of humans or even iliu. He pictures them as creators and designers; he suggests that astronomy is the surest guide to what they are like. Finally he posits peruetes aiďantos “absolute deity” as the ultimate reality, an abstraction without personhood. To Genremos, anything we can understand mechanically we should; only the residue should grudgingly be assigned to Absolute Deity.

Genremos made no quarrel with the priests or believers; the closest he comes is some gentle mockery of their anthropomorphism. He briefly considers whether Endauron or Iáinos are distorted recollections of Absolute Deity, but they are too personal or too human for him. His Deity comes in mostly to end perennial quandaries. Why do things move? They are set in motion by something; what set it in motion? What was first created, and why can’t we ask what came before that? Morality is good, but why is it good? The answer to all these questions is Because Deity set it up that way. This may not comfort us, but Genremos presents it as an advance. Now you can stop disputing over nothing, and consider a question he finds much more fruitful: what are the abstractions just under the level of Deity? Certainly not just “the laws and gods of Caďinas”, but something to be elucidated by comparing human societies with wisdom and reason.

The syncretic state religion

In theory the Cuzeians and Caďin were all united in a common goal: liberating Eretald from the Munkhâshi. In practice both Cuzei and Caďinas spent a good deal of time fighting or conquering their allies. Now, allies can be troublesome, but this failing arguably delayed the liberation for centuries.

But Caďinas always had high-minded reasons for its interventions. It took over Cuzei (1024) to stop a rebellion against the Cuzeian ruler. It occupied Cayenas to end a civil war (1079). Araunicoros was always single-minded in its focus on Munkhâsh, and indeed arrived first at the Ctelm mountains (in 987). But the Caďinorians convinced themselves that it was harboring dissidents against them, especially Cuzeian migrants who resisted the incorporation of “Eärdur province” into the Empire.

The emperor Decanos proposed a merger— “Are we not one people, with one glorious history?” His opposite number Durririȟ made a counter-proposal: he would accept the proposal if the Caďinorians began to worship the Arauni gods.

It was a bluff, but Decanos took him up on it. He built temples in Ctesifon and other cities, and returned to Araunicoros in 1497 with a hundred priests dedicated to Aecton and Aelilea— and a demand that Durririȟ honor the agreement. Durririȟ, knowing that his sovereignty was at stake, refused. Decanos then invaded— on the pretext that Durririȟ had broken his oath. Even today, in Verdurian, a primeto Decanei, a Decanos’s offer, is a deal that sounds fair but conceals ruination.

In each area, the Caďinorians took a different approach to religion.

The manuals were not re-issued, but supplemented with a volume called Aiďin neginden (Interpreting the gods), finished around 1550. This was never either popular literature or philosophy; it was written for the education of priests. It attempts to harmonize not only Caďinorian and Arauni belief, but Cuzeian. What they came up with was something like this:
The world was created by Andranont and Eidurela. Their relationship was that of architect and builder. Andranont had the idea for something; Eidurela shaped it out of pure chaos. Their children were Aecton and Aelilea; these in turn begat the Arauni gods as well as the intelligent species of Almea.

The world and its creators were at first completely at peace, without war or death. But Kaedun, the god of fire, became corrupt, rebelling against Aecton. Kaedun created allies for himself: the Six Demons (Suest Vioctet) who were the demon lords of Munkhâsh.

War was fought in heaven and earth for thirty thousand years. It ended only when the gods sacrificed themselves, generating enough spiritual power to destroy Kaedun and the demons. The death of gods is never final; they were reborn as children. But for a time the old gods were gone, and the new gods had not appeared.

Instead, the world was ruled by iliu and ktuvoks. These formed mighty empires and fought many wars. After ten thousand years, the ktuvoks learned how to evoke the power of the demons, who also had not perished entirely. They turned it into a great weapon and laid waste to the iliu. (This is why the iliu have so little land today.)

The king of the iliu, Ambretu, realized that only the power of the gods could conquer the weapon of the ktuvoks. But the gods were asleep or waiting. He had to venture into their realm to find and wake them. This he did; the gods came and destroyed the weapon of the demons as well as almost all of the ktuvoks.

The gods were now Endauron and Iscira and their children. They cleaned up Almea from the devastation of war, and raised up kingdoms of humans to rule the world.

The demons were also reborn in a new generation, but for a long time they were too weak to cause any trouble.

At this point the story merges with that told in the manuals, as related above. There is a good deal more discussion of Cuezi and Araunicoros, however, and a recognition that these too fought the Munkhâshi. It’s explained that Araunicoros continued to worship the first gods, and that Cuzei continued to worship the gods before them, Andranont and Eidurela, calling them Iáinos and Eīledan.

The corruption of Kaedun is an odd detail, but parallels that of Ecaîas in the Cuzeian Count of Years. Surely this caused some cognitive dissonance in Araunicoros? But the doctrine of earlier generations of gods solved the dilemma. Aecton was simultaneously an ancient god who was gone, and a living god who might be worshiped today. Simiarly, Kaedun was both an ancient benign deity, and a later spirit of evil.

What about the gods of Cayenas? They were incorporated by giving the gods attendants or assistants:

God attendant (Caď)(Ver) role; portfolio
Endauron Vereion Vereon messenger
Ecutiros Kutro cupbearer
Iscira Imiridete Imiri messenger; name of a planet
Veriťis Vësi maid
Caloteion Menagria Neméria attendant
Olasiu Olašu god of beginnings
Fidora Beuneiro Belnear god of forests
Meburis Meburi goddess of endings
Oronteion Nessoreis Nesrei goddess of birth
Radumeia Curaya goddess of reason
Kravcaena Bullarion Bulora god (Ver. goddess) of bread
Cilorion Syetnor god of wine
Necťeruon Duretaia Deutaya goddess of the city
Uricellaudec Uřädec god of trade
Escis Lelireis Lërei goddess of literature
Nisioparves Munifa ‘splendor’
Boďnehais Guebreica Gövesa ‘fear’
Gutia Goča ‘shaking’
Kolleiva Koleva general
Agireis Mitigama Mišicama the ocean
Geleia Želea ‘calm’
Mieranac Ďicos Ďic separates living from dead
Maranȟ Maranh general
Veharies Ťeloreis Tolerei invention and perversity
Pifael Fifel sexual love, romance
Veharies, the goddess of love, was a little too lofty for sex— you consulted her for romance or marriage. For sex you wanted her attendants, Ťeloreis and Pifael. In Verdurian, you distinguish a marisa išire ‘marriage of Iscira, arranged marriage’ from a marisa fifelei ‘marriage of Pifael, love match’. Both attendants are often depicted as gay in inclination. If you suffered from what we’d call sex addiction, you’d blame it on Pifael; if you had fetishes or perverse desires, that was due to Ťeloreis.


The height of the Caďinorian Empire was the reign of Ervëa (Aerivileas). It started in peril: the throne was usurped by his uncle Sevurias (1604), and he ruled only the Eärdur valley. Meanwhile, Munkhâsh had conquered the last Meťaiun states, Awoilas and Leziunea.

The Munkhâshi waited for Caďinas to be weakened by the ensuing civil war. When Sevurias was defeated in 1625, they invaded, hoping to find the nation exhausted and disunited. They had miscalculated: the Caďinorians quickly put the dynastic quarrel behind them, and mobilized huge armies with the cry Vioctet im Estaldan! “Demons on the Plain!”

For the stirring full story, see the Historical Atlas of Ereláe. In brief, the war continued for decades, with a break from 1629-1641. In 1643 things were grim, as Ctesifon itself was besieged. The next year the war turned continent-wide, as Attafei of the Kurundasti Tej attacked Munkhâsh from the east. It was now possible to think of total victory: conquest of the entire Munkhâshi territory, including the ktuvok wetlands. This was accomplished by 1667.

The empire had roughly doubled in size, and faced staggering problems of integration.

Since the 1300s, Caďinas had controlled the middle Shkónoro. Ervëa renamed the region Saurnare (Sarnáe) ‘Eastland’. The system of military estates was revived, and Caďinorian settlers moved there en masse. The northern half of Sarnáe was till recently free Meťaiun; these people were grateful for their liberation and thus were fairly tractable.

The problem was the Munkhâshi themselves, or the Eynleyni as we should call them now that their empire was over. The emperor Nusisponos II (d. 1780) complained, “They react indifferently to kindness; show no loyalty either to their new masters, or to the ktuvoks, or among themselves; and seem unable to act, now that there was no one to tell them what to do.” That is, the Eynleyni were not rebellious, but did not respond well to Caďinorization.

The Caďinorians (and the Kurundasti Tej) outlawed Gelalhát, which they continued to see as the worship of vioctet, demons. They used the time-tested methods of training priests in claetandet and sending them into the military estates. Or tried to: not many people really wanted to live in Tmôtimor.

In the long run, Caďinorization succeeded in Sarnáe and Visecra, and failed in Tmôtimor. As early as the 1800s the Eynleyni underwent a religious revival, worshiping a god called Andor, the Mighty. Some were suspicious that this was Gelálh under another name, but it was convenient for everyone to simply leave the new belief alone. In any case, the Caďinorian civil war of the 1890s allowed Tmôtimor to drift into independence; and later it was conquered by the Carhinnoi, believers in Jippirasti, the same fierce monotheism as Attafei.

Sarnáe did accept the Caďinor language and (mostly) its gods, but it was an ethnic mishmash (Meťaiun, Caďinorian, Monkhayu, Eynleyni) and never fully integreated with Eretald. By the third millennium, as we’ll see later, its version of Caďinorian religion had diverged from Ctesifon’s.

Ervëa was raised in Octinila, the capital of Eärdur province, and it was his first base of support. Always grateful for the support of the Arašei (as the believers in Cuzeian religion now called themselves), he removed the last restrictions on Arašát.

The epic of Maranȟ

The epic of Maranȟ (Rocca Maranȟei), a sequence of four plays by the dramatist Letanesec, was first presented in the 1630s, during the truce with Munkhâsh. It’s an elaboration of the struggle against the Scadrorionit and then the Munkhâshi, and the rise of Caďinas— all mediated through the life of Maranȟ.

The plays are each written in a different genre, as defined by the Cuzeians. They are named accordingly:

A good dating question for visitors to the classical period is “Which Maranȟ play do you prefer?” Letanesec made the plays, and the character of Maranȟ, as different as he could— e.g. he’s a lusty, cheerful rogue in the comedy, lovesick and poetic in the romance, noble and grandiose in the tragedy. There are also subtler points to knit his character together— e.g. his personal god is Veharies, though this means he prays for her assistance in the fantasy, he is her servant (i.e. he is smitten by love) in the romance, and he is her lover in the tragedy.

For Noctulira’s personal god, Letanesec revived Urones, from Cayenas; this led to Urones being called the “god of the iliu” in the Aďivro. (It also provided Kentunór for the elcari, taken directly from Elkarîl Khemthu-Nôr.)

A curiosity of the Fantasy is the sprite Lago, who steals Maranȟ’s gear, but then befriends him and helps him with some of his adventures. This was the first but by no means the last appearance of the playful character. It is probably not coincidence that a character named Lago appears in In the Land of Babblers, though the Caďinorian character is not an iliu.


The second of the great classical philosophers was Ilcorea, born during the reign of Ervëa. If the watchword of Genremos is empirical, that of Ilcorea was utopian. He was ever concerned with the world that should be, and angry at the real world for falling short. He refused to accept the conventional separation of philosophy from the masses; he preached agnosticism to people in the markets, and went to temples to try to convince the priests of the uselessness of sacrifices. Even this was tolerated, but when he began to argue that soldiers should quit in order that war should cease, and some did, Ilďaneas (son of Ervëa) had him put to death (1715).

His best-known work is Aiďos ab raduman (God viewed with reason), which attempts to divine a deity out of order, goodness, and reason, apart from all tradition and revelation. To Ilcorea, the very imperfection of the world meant that perfection must somewhere exist:

I see no perfect thing in the world: every pear, every painting, every leader contains a flaw. Yet there is nothing easier than to entertain in the mind the idea of a perfect pear, a painting without flaw, a ruler utterly noble and good.

The ideal of perfection within me convinces me that God must exist. How could it be that imagination, by which I conceive of perfection, contains something grander and purer than reality? We perceive shoddily, and think dully; we are weak creatures, and soon gone from the world. Our ideals cannot be the exception to this rule; if we can have such an idea within our minds, reality must contain something greater still, must contain God.

His use of aiďos in the sense of ‘God’ is an innovation for Caďinorians; earlier philosophers used aiďantos or borrowed Cuêzi terms. (Arašei did use Aiďos for God, but only among themselves; Ilcorea does not show any familiarity with their writings.)

In politics, he is known for Eta elorian cumpugulan (On the perfect state), which not only described the ideal state (well-ordered, religious, free of all violence) but proposed a series of edicts by which an enlightened emperor might get there. To modern readers his diatribes against war, arbitrary rule, and slavery sound simply sensible, and his vegetarianism is to be expected, but his rage at any form of entertainment and frivolity is less attractive. One of the many frivolities he objected to was sex: he believed that the only licit sex was for the bearing of children, and he muses frankly that he wishes it were possible to convey the semen in a jar to the woman rather than having sex with her.

Eta itiranan (On the soul) is a witty critique of Genremos’ materialism. Most of it is superficial (he spends a lot of time mocking Genremos’ metaphors), but he also puts his finger on the central problem for the materialist: how can this pile of meat (tesca milasoi), no different when cut up from a dead cow, be the seat of perception, thought, and love? Moreover, when every datum we have comes to our mind and is evaluated there, how can we use that datum to disbelieve in the mind? As a sort of anti-Lakoff, he points out how much of our thinking about the mind involves physical metaphors, but believes that metaphors were intrinsically invalid. We know very well that a road does not run from Ctesifon to Cterano; we should recognize that to call someone ‘conscious’ (paiȟres) tells us nothing as it is only a metaphor for ‘near’ (paiȟ).

His positive approach to the mind is contained in Radum urestuie (The human mind). He returns to the tesca milasoi and considers how it can be animated. Though he disbelieves in both gods and metaphors, he begins with a story about the god Kaedun, who was cast down from prison and imprisoned in the rock. How was a spiritual being limited by physical rock? How did he learn to move and affect that rock? He makes the point that overthinking things always makes them seem impossible: how does an archer make an arrow move? How does air cause a tree to bend, how does fire destroy that tree? We can see the effect without knowing the mechanism. Although he gets bogged down in the usual habit of the Caďinorian philosopher— cataloguing as a substitute for analyzing— his vivid insistance on the oddities of consciousness at least make it clearer what problems the materialist has to address.

The epic of Iriand

The epic of Iriand (Rocca Iriandei) is an epic poem by Suleriȟis, a female poet, completed about 1740. It’s closely based on Cuzeian material: much of the story retells the portion of the Count of Years dealing with the creation and early years of the iliu— especially the first iliu, Iriand. However, it applies the methods and many of the incidents of the Cuzeian epics, and moreover cheerfully replaces Iáinos with the Arauni gods.

By the standards of its time, the treatment is playful and largely secular— the fact that Caďinas itself does not appear preserves Suleriȟis from the usual classical vice of dull and obvious nationalism. But by the time the Aďivro was compiled, the epic’s stories about Iriand were simply part of accepted cosmology.

The story:

During the wars of gods and demons, Aescena (goddess of water and the sea) creates Iriand on the island of Kebri. He comes to Almea full-grown, but wanders the world wonderingly, naming things in Eteodāole. Perabron, god of iron and war, creates a mate for him— Alana. (The iliu will thus be associated both with the sea and with war.) They meet and fall in love, but before they can sleep together they are captured by demons: Iriand by the viocta Sokagond, Alana by his consort Keregna.

Iriand convinces Sokagond that he is a master cook. He describes dishes with such vividness that the demon unties him so he can make one of them. Iriand creates a dish that puts Sokagond to sleep, and escapes.

Alana also tricks her captor. She expresses terror at the open water near Keregna’s house, begging her not to put her in it. Keregna immediately throws her in the water, still bound, believing she will drown. She does not know that the iliu live in the water and can breathe there. Alana easily finds a seashell to untie herself, and swims off in search of Iriand.

Suleriȟis uses the dual quest structure to provide a whirlwind tour of the more fantastical and whimsical bits of Cuzeian literature. The iliu meet the Giants, talking beasts, the evil magicians of the Cloud Kingdom, múrtani and icëlani, and a land of minature people. Sometimes the gods step in to keep them out of trouble— e.g. Iriand comes under a spell in the Cloud Kingdom and almost marries a princess of the air, but Perabron breaks the spell.

They finally meet at Lake Como, and are married by Perabron and Aescena, with the other gods in attendance. There is an imitation of the Count of Years’ rather frank description of the newlyweds’ lovemaking.

Alana gives birth to Ambretu, who will save the world in another time.

The iliu grow into a large community. Kaedun creates the ktuvoks as an evil counterpart to the iliu. One day the ktuvoks kill Ambretu’s daughter Neȟis, which causes the great war of gods and demons to rekindle, this time with the iliu and ktuvoks fighting as well.

The war is treated briefly but vividly: Kaedun finally bathes the world in fire, his particular weapon. None of the gods can resist except Aescena. She hides the iliu in the sea.

The gods and demons prepare for a final battle. The power of Kaedun seems overwhelming. But he pauses to urinate in the ocean. Iriand seizes his moment of distraction to climb up his back. He is too small for the demon to notice, though he attempts to scratch at the unfamiliar sensations, and almost makes the iliu fall.

Iriand reaches his head, takes out the divine sword given to him by Perabron, and kills the demon with it.

The poem ends with this climactic moment. In doctrine the gods went on to sacrifice themselves in order to destroy the demons.

In the Count of Years Iriand and Alana are killed by a plague during the fourth of the global wars. This was not dramatic enough for Suleriȟis, who invented the story of Iriand’s sneaky assassination of Kaedun. No other source makes the demons the size of a house, but the epics did play fast and loose with scale, and the fantastical ending is of a piece with the earlier explorations by the iliu couple.

The mention of Sokagond gives us an excuse to look at the names of demons. In pre-imperial times they were not usually distinguished, but names were slowly supplied— from Cuêzi, by dramatists, or from Munkhâshi gods. The demons, like the gods, needed different names in the first age, that of Aecton. Kaedun, the fallen god, was of course the chief, and was associated with Cuêzi Ecaîas. He created six demons, as follows:

Sokagond Škagon his lieutenant— from Cuêzi Soxaēco
Keregna Kregna Sokagond’s consort— from stories; probably ‘bloodmaiden’
Amonos Amon from Cuêzi Amnās
Buceoreis Busorei Amonas’s consort; ‘great whore’
Kadorion Kadoro ‘lord of buttocks’
Lisureis Leusia his consort; ‘lady of slime’
Though these demons were the counterparts of Aecton et al., they are not Arauni, nor were they mentioned in pre-imperial times.

The “present day” demons, the opponents of Endauron, were simply taken from the names of the Six Gods. There was no attempt to borrow the characters or portfolios of the Munkhâshi gods. Like the gods, the demons were supplied with attendants, though except for Okron these are simply abstractions of evil.

Munkhâshi Dhekhnami Caďinor Verdurian attendants
Gelálh Gelat Golaȟ Gelál Cišura (decay) and Dis (hate)
Tsôkálh Sogat Tsokaȟis Zukai Zučuy (perversion) and Řozadi (meaninglessness)
Ulgâsh Ogash Uilgos Ulgaš Kunvulea (greed) and Ecai (fear)
Korkâsh Koykash Korkos Kořos Bünát (violence) and Čüma (plague)
Kumnatnâk Khuvnakh Kunantac Kundac Okron (sea monster) and Malcoli (discord)
Chakprashi Tsakhwashi Takrasis Tařasi Močát (corruption) and Sram (shame)
Ulgaš supplied the Verdurian word for ‘chaos’.

Koykash is the name of a city in Dhekhnam, but Verdurians did not make the connection; they refer to it as Coycaš.

The demon mother of Boďnehais was not named in the Epic of Kolleiva, but the 1900s dramatist Tisiraduma identified her as Takrasis. She wrote a comedy on the romance of Mieranac and Takrasis, which was quite popular but somewhat scandalized the pious, and thus the story did not make it into the Aďivro.

The book of whys

The last of the classic epics is Ibro kenseie (The book of whys), by the poet Sarberac, which was finished around 1775. In form it’s an anthology of poems and short prose works, each of which answers a question (a kensa ‘why, how’). These range from folk tales, to myths, to tall tales, to philosophical speculations.

Sarberac is responsible for the final text, but he rarely invented the answers; most can be found in earlier sources. His treatment is light, and the book was a traditional text for children. Philosophers never took it as authoritative, but especially in the Dark Years, when his classical Caďinor was more difficult and the answers acquired the patina of long familiarity, priests cited them as part of religious tradition. One reason was that the entries tell us more about the actions of the gods themselves than almost any other book. Some of the questions, with the (paraphrased) answers:

Why did Kaedun rebel?
As Kaedun had created both fire and death, he came to believe that worshipers’ sacrifices were entirely his. He said as much to Aescena his consort, but she retorted that water preceded fire, both in creation and in the sacrifice. He left her angrily and attempted to claim the throne of the gods, but Aecton cast him out of heaven.
Why does the sun disappear at night?
The sun is the home and symbol of Caloteion. (What we see is its base; it is even brighter on the other side.) Originally it shone all day and all night, but that was before he fell in love with Fidora, whose homes are the moons. But she was angry that he far outshone her, making her moons dull and without glory. Finally he agreed to move the sun out of the sky half the time. Now the moons could be bright. When they are full, Caloteion is visiting Fidora.
Why are there three moons?
They represent her attributes and moods, which are more variable than those of Caloteion; they are also gods in themselves. The goddess Iliažë (Iliages), the largest and brightest, represents her power. The god Iliacáš (Iliacos) represents her beauty, and is the color of gold. Naunai (Nounahis), the smallest and fastest, is her (female) messenger and vehicle.
Why did the Scadrorionit take over?
The first Scadrorion was Perupidor, a great warrior among the Caďin. When the Cuzeian lord Inibē rebelled against Endauron/Iáinos, they caused his realm to be shattered. Perupidor defeated the Cuzeians, then made the greatest sacrifice ever made on Almea— all of Inibē’s cattle. Endauron granted him a boon, and he asked that his line rule over the Caďin for five hundred years.

The fates

Presiding over human lives were the Fates (gahileiat). Their name means ‘shapers’, and they were pictured as old women shaping lives like clay pots. Their origins are not religious but literary. They are not mentioned by Beretos or in any of the hymnals or manuals; they do not have temples or priests. The first known mention of Bunnoris (‘one who allots’) is in a play by the dramatist Adaurion from about 1350; she was quickly taken up by other poets and dramatists, and her two sisters were soon added. The epics of Maranȟ and Iriand mention them (that of Kolleiva does not). Their power increases over time— in Suleriȟis, even the gods are subject to the whims of Bunnoris.

They never enter the realm of worship, perhaps in part because they bear no outside influence; as one poet tells us, “even Endauron pleads in vain with them.” But they are an irresistible tool of thought, so that even the Aďivro refers to them, to explain why certain things can’t be done or asked for.

In modern times they’re more often used as abstractions than as personifications: you can speak of your midei or station in life, or your bunori ‘good forture’. A malbundrul is someone who’s perpetually unlucky; things that are šustanë are deadly. To ‘haggle with Šustana’ is to hubristically attempt the impossible, like commanding the tides to heel.

The dark years

Few empires can retain a high level of central control for long periods. Besides, the unusual concentration of power in Caďinas had been justified by the Munkhâshi threat, and that was gone. Now there was only an imperial family that seemed less and less to live up to the standards of Ervëa and Ilďaneas.

In 1894 the emperor Aknavar died, and the realm broke into civil war. It was not until 1910 that the general Caeva Hasunei could secure the throne. Control over Kebri, Tyellakh, and Tmôtimor was never recovered. Things seemed to return to normal, but where nobles had once been strongly subjugated to the state, they now had much more leeway in their domains.

In the next century, a new threat appeared: the nomads of the Barbarian Plain had mastered horse warfare, and were poised to begin a millennium of dominance. Already the Coruo were taking low-density areas like the Kalimantan Forest and the Kešvare plateau. But Caďinas viewed this as a remote concern.

In the late 2000s the Hasunei dynasty fell to a series of warlords turned emperor. Ostensibly to restore order, the Red Cabal (Claetura rugities) took over in 2107; their brutal murder of the entire imperial family was so shocking that it is conventionally taken as the beginning of the Dark Years. The Caballists appeared in public only in masks and robes, and when one died another would be named as a replacement.

The Cabal loudly proclaimed its devotion to order, but its real purpose was plunder. The Caballists enriched themselves and protected their rule through vindictive feuds against their enemies. Every institution, from the army to the courts to the claetandet, was corrupted or weakened. Rebellions soon sprung up, and by the end of the century embraced almost every province. Irun of Banda finally ran them all down, and secured the throne, by 2220.

For the full story of the decline, see the Historical Atlas. The executive summary: the Empire was increasingly beset by barbarian invasions; when it was not, the farther provinces broke off, seeing no gain in submitting to a capital that demanded taxes and obedience but could not protect them. Ctesifon was under Bešbalicu rule for a period in the 2400s; in 2610 one of its Naviu generals, Mália, became empress; the final conquest was by the relatively minor tribe of the Curiyans, in 2792. (The Curiyans are part of the Karazi language family; their name is cognate to Cuzei. So the final conquest may be a joke of Bunnoris.)

The establishment of the new Eynleyni nation of Dhekhnam, in 2537, was only more bad news, and of no practical import to the Caďinorians, then fighting off the greatest barbarian horde of all time, the Gelyet. Ironically, Gelyet pressure was what spurred the Eynleyni of Tyellakh to invite the ktuvoks back in as overlords.

Language change

In the Dark Years, Caďinor remained the literary language— but education was not what it could be, and even the best writers did not really write in classical language.

The custom of Verdurian scholars is to use modern Verdurian terms from this point on. I will do the same, though noting that this papers over quite a bit of linguistic diversity. As just one example, actual citations of the names of one goddess include Kravcaena, Ravcena, Crasaina, Hrafcaena, Řafkân, Rracene, Cyaccaina, Rancenda, and Karcuena. The one form that isn’t attested is the modern Řavcaëna!

The Aďivro

There was no single scripture of classical religion, thought the manuals and hymnals I’ve mentioned were extremely important. The Banda dynasty, attempting to restore order and harmony after the disastrous Red Cabal, decided to codify doctrine and practise in a single volume. This was the Aďivro (Aiďie ibro), started by Cuomolondos in 2290 and completed under his grandson Irun II in 2350.

It is written in classical Caďinor, or as close to it as the theologians could muster. Ever fearful of misunderstandings, however, the compilers provided glosses for the more difficult words; these are often the earliest appearance of many Verdurian roots.

In form, the book is a manual of liturgy, organized according to the calendar. So, listing the table of contents will also give us the liturgical calendar! To this day, the calendar (much more than the alphabet) is a favorite way of organizing reference books in Eretald.

Each month is dedicated to a god, so of course their hymns and prayers appear in that month. Personal rites (birth, coming of age, marriage, death) are placed under the appropriate god, as well as associated stories, myths, and historical events. E.g. Koleva appears under Boďneay, the god she sought. Keadau is placed after the festival of Enddark, i.e. the winter solstice, the day the darkness begins to recede.

There is also practical information— the sort of things priests should be able to tell their followers: information on farming, midwifery, medicinal herbs, and more.

The Aďivro was never accepted by the cletani of Sarnáe, and was not as authoritative in Érenat.

In the following list, (1C) stands for 1st ceďnare, that being the weekly day of rest.

1 olašu Imameto demeče— Investiture of Spring
the Six Sentences
hymns to Řavcaëna
blessings for new enterprises
blessings for the newborn
praise of the Fates
1 reli Dën relë— Day of Sowing
blessings on agriculture, prayers for fertility
practical advice on crops and animals
hymns to Nečeron
blessings on traders
the creation of the elcari
the redel (girls’ coming of age)
how to determine virginity
1 cuéndimar Cuéndimar— Great Festival
hymns to Enäron
prayers for protection of the King
the rebellion and defeat of Kezon
17 Dën Vlerëi, Vleryana— Day of Vlerë
hymns to Vlerë
prayers for and against love
warnings about sexual sin
6 vlerëi Cuendaya— Lesser Festival, honoring the King
the story of Ervëa
1 calo Ceďue Caltei— Feast of Caloton
hymns to Caloton
prayers for protection in travel
the story of Maranh and the rise of Caďinas
1 recoltë Dën Recoltëi— Day of reaping
hymns to Boďneay
blessings for war or the hunt
the Munkhâshi invasion and the story of Koleva
the nacuyát (boys’ coming of age)
on the nature of demons
28 Elzon— Midyear
1 yag hymns to Oruseon
blessings on scholars
a resumé of the Sacred Law (rules for priests)
prayers for recovery of the sick
the uses of medicinal herbs
(1C) želea Išet Cumproseo– Solemn March
hymns to Ažirei
thanksgiving hymns for harvest, protection against winter
blessings for travel at sea
the creation of the iliu
1 išire Dën Išire— Day of Išira
hymns to Išira
marriage rites
rules on marriage
prayers to bring children
rite for births
1 šoru Elšoru— Enddark (or Ceďue Ceďuië, Feast of Feasts)
hymns to Fidra
how to tell time from the moons
on interpreting dreams
Keadau’s liberation of Eretald
1 froďac Eliveri— Midwinter
hymns to Mëranac
the funeral service
blessings for the dead
warnings about the Place of Darkness
Peravon’s defeat of the primordial chaos
the story of Iriam and Aläna
(1C) Dën Deutaye— Day of Deutaya
the founding of Ctesifon
1 bešana Aďcet— Godsfest
hymns to Eši
explanation of the modes of Caďinorian music
story of Aranotu and Eduela (the original Creators)
The sources for the Aďivro, for the most part, are those we have already discussed— the compilers were grave men who would not think of creating their own myths or even writing their own words of praise. For centuries, the Aďivro functioned as intended: as a reference work for priests. Laymen were not encouraged to read it, and scholars ignored it.

The rise of Eleďát— from 2780, just over four centuries after the Aďivro was compiled— changed this. The Eleďi had their own Book, which they proclaimed authoritative for themselves, and encouraged outsiders to read in hopes it would convert them. It was natural to think of the Aďivro as a counter-book, one that defined so ül uris. A certain core of educated conservatives encouraged laymen and young people to study it, and grew suspicious of cults or believers who deviated from it.

As scripture, the Aďivro is hardly worth this sort of attention— though it’s been observed that one can derive much spiritual satisfaction from reciting it or listening to it, if one does not know Caďinor.

But it is hardly satisfactory for either spiritual development, or philosophy. And unsurprisingly, those interested in either looked elsewhere.

By now there was no real expectation that participating in rituals would teach you Caďinor; and yet the language was perceived as sacred. Priests were instructed that the actual rites must be Caďinor, but hymns, retellings of the myths, and ad hoc instruction could be spoken in the vernacular.

The cults

In the Dark Years the godspeakers from the cletani lost their monopoly. There was a profusion of řami or cults. The Verdurian term implies that the movements are aberrant, not part of so ül uris— but whether they had official approval or not varied by region and historical period. Historically, some cults are obvious offshoots of Caďin religion; others are inventions or foreign imports.

What they had in common was their recognition that times were bad, and the blithe celebration of the rise of Caďinas was no longer comforting. Barbarians could invade and pillage; cities fell into ruin; nobles became ever more rapacious. Cults generally stressed one of two ideas:

The authorities usually tolerated these, but there were also řami šoruidarkness cults’, which were persecuted— if the authorities had the power to do so: The largest cults were these: The cults mostly allowed both male and female priests. (In modern times this practice spread to some but not all ‘orthodox’ temples.)


Magic works on Almea, which means there are two types of magicians: real and fake ones. The fake ones predominate, but to understand them we must start with the real ones.

Magicians are known from ancient times— the Count of Years and the Cuzeian epics refer to magicians, and one appears in the Cuzeian play The Munkhâshi, dated 545 (available in The Book of Cuzei). There are sporadic reports through the imperial period, but they seem to have been suppressed during the imperial period as agents of Munkhâsh. The first manuals and reliable historical records date from the 2100s— the period of the Red Cabal.

The magicians (alcedlomi) have always been clear about the source of their power: it comes from vyoži, supernatural beings. This is the same word as Caďinor vioctet ‘demons’. If you are bold enough to point this out to a magician, he will probably grin and say “And what if they are?”

It is not simple to make the acquaintance of a vyoža. You must learn the techniques to approach them, but the real difficulty is to maintain their interest. A weak personality will simply become a worshiper of the vyoža; to the rest of the world he will appear mad and useless. A magician always serves the vyoža, but the powerful ones do so with dignity and reserve. For every successful magician, there are dozens who fail.

The Uytainese, on Arcél, made the closest investigation of Almean magic, attempted to harness it on a wide scale for state uses, and wrote the clearest manuals. As one declares:

Always address the Power with respect— use the terms appropriate to a sovereign. Yet do not act with abject supplication; to be frank, this will bore them. The Power which chooses you will be your superior, but on its own level it must respect or appreciate you.

...From the Power’s point of view, our requests are only rewards for a favored companion or servant. What do they reward you for? This only your Power can answer. It may be a trifle— you amuse them. It may be an arduous and dangerous task which takes much out of you. 

What can a magician do? Both Caďinorian and Uytainese manuals agree that harnessing magic is like having a team of invisible, fast, but not very clever workers. Thus you can build a bridge or a mansion in a day, fetch items from afar, kill an enemy, dismantle a fort. They cannot cure a plague, light a room, read a man’s mind. They can mine gold—if you can tell them exactly where it’s found— but not make it from nothing.

This seems to cover most of the believable reports of magic— there are plenty of wild claims. The magicians themselves are always gaunt, prematurely old figures, though their lifetimes are also preternaturally extended. They are not hedonists; such people do not interest the vyoži. Most are men, but there are women as well. They have no supernatural strength, and can be killed with a sword like any other human— if you can get close to them. It’s said that if they are not killed, the vyoži always end up taking them into their own realm.

Most magicians live in isolated places by themselves, and refuse to do favors for others, even kings. A few seek temporal power; the wizard Uhnonca ruled Verduria from 2198 to 2201, and the wizards Utu and Utu-On ruled the kingdom from 3198 to 3241. (It’s said the thousand-year gap is no coincidence.)

Another form of magic is zobát, which traces its roots to Cuzei, and could be defined as nature magic. They are most reliable as herblorists and folk physicians; they also interpret dreams, or apply and lift curses. There is usually one in walking distance of any rural town; they are eccentric but far more approachable than the alcedlomi. How much supernatural power they have is debated, but one can make a good case that their healing powers, and ability to affect others (i.e. through charms and curses) is real. (It’s worth noting that both skills are predicated of the iliu, and the iliu can affect humans.)

The magicians hardly fit into so ül uris, and they do not participate in the rites described in the Aďivro— but they are believers, in their own way. They do not identify the vyoži with gods, but their manuals insist that the gods are real, though different from human imaginings. The magicians generally believe in Enäron, the zobomi in Řavcaëna. One magician writes:

Enäron exists. The vyoži know him, and fear. The magician knows him too. Yet he is not as you conceive. Shall I tell you of what nature he is? Do I dare speak? Do you dare listen? If the vyoži fear, you should tremble and flee! You could not survive his presence any more than you could walk on Caloton’s mansion, the sun. He is not malign, but he is not your bearded father! It is best not to say more.
The last category are the frauds, who are at least as common on Almea as on Earth. They often pretend to be alcedlomi, and thus profess the same attachment to the Powers, but they attempt to sell their services. They are often skilled in prestidigitation or alchemy to convince the gullible. In popular literature, almost all magicians are greedy, slippery rogues who can fool only other fools. (Except in fantasies, where they have nigh-unlimited powers.)

It should be noted that, if you’re a believer, you accept that the gods themselves have supernatural powers— indeed, you count on these abilities when you pray to them. Theologians usually say that these powers are bukrares ‘unlimited’— indeed, they declare that if they were not bukrares they could hardly be called divine. Philosophers generally do not agree. Nor does mythology: narratives would dry up if the gods could do absolutely anything at all: why do they simply not abolish the demons by fiat?

The magicians had another, unexpected role: the encouragement of mysticism. The magicians— real and fake— wrote books, which obscure more than they explain. They did not write to explain their craft, but their worldview, or the greatness of their deeds. They wrote passages like this:

What is valuable to know, is known through the third eye; that is, through no eye: the love of your wife, the power of Endauron, the devices of the demons, the way of secrets. The world is not made of metal and iron and wood. It is made of love and greed and murder and mercy. These are the powers beyond powers. The master of the green stallion said: if you burn a man you are left with a god, no different in kind from divinity itself.
Now, all of this is related to theories of magic— “the way of secrets” is magic; murder is an act of great magical power; the ‘powers’ here are vyoži; the master of the green stallion is a magician from Bažra. But you could read the book without knowing or caring a thing about magic, and many did. It offered a vague, portentous spirituality, a sense of great and beautiful things happening just outside our ken. The style was soon imitated for its own sake, coupled with meditation, fasting, or various forms of ecstatic experience.

Modern times

Verdurians like to date modern (tëdene) times to the kingship of Caleon (2943). In Žésifo, the preferred date is the rebellion of Bura against the Curiyans (2917). Technologically, we might point to the invention of the spinning wheel (2925), eyeglasses (2950), and the cannon (2950). The first elected legislature in our region was that of Kebri in 2944.

These are certainly the first signs of a great renewal, and Eretald has gone on to invent printing, telescopes, the theory of gravity, the power loom, and the steam engine. Verduria and Kebri are now in a race to establish colonies around the world.

The Caďin religions have not remained static through all this.

Foreign challenges

In the late medieval period, there were challenges from foreign religions:

Endajué and Hyemsur are anti-theistic; Irreanism posits a cosmic battle between good and evil; Eleďát is trinitarian. It should be no surprise that most of the theological reactions to the new religions have been to reinterpret Caďin religion as monotheistic or tritheistic.

In this they could lean on the ancient trope, extremely useful in reading Cuzeian literature, that Enäron was equivalent to Iáinos; or on Genremos’ belief in Absolute Deity. The plasticity of the two pantheons— the paste-up introduced to rationalize Decanos’ power grab— suggested that the gods we see are arbitary; any particular god is only an appearance (šaynesa) or role (žuca) of the true Divinity (aďát). In the early modern era, it was rare to find a philosopher or even a cletana professor who truly and unapologetically believed in separate, multiple gods. When Eleďát was better understood, it was felt (though no one put it so openly, of course) that Caďinorian religion should have a trinity too. Several formulations were tried:

The last of these proved to have the most staying power— it was easy to visualize and it provided a fine grounding for morality. Theologians called it the ül ďinát ‘ancient trinity’, implying that it was the Eleďe trinity which was an invention.

Eleďát offered a more caring God, a narrative of personal redemption, and the ethos of a community working together for success while resisting authoritarian structures. These things too were imitated by polytheists. If the purpose of imperial religion was to support the state in its endless war against Munkhâsh, the purpose of the gods was now often depicted as supporting the individual and the family in a difficult world.


The accession of the Eleďe king Tomao in 3241 ended the tyranny of the magician king Utu-On, sparked a cultural and political renaissance— and caused a crisis in Caďinorian religion.

The poor converted in droves to Eleďát; the traditional prerogatives of the old religion were erased or shared; the king and his successors no longer sacrified a white bull at the Investiture of Spring and exchanged the title of Cumbrigec Enäronei (Defender of Enäron) for Snugá Iainei (servant of Iáinos).

The pagans retained their majority and suffered no persecution, but when a minority advances so visibly, the reaction of the majority is always fear, anger, and the perception of victimization.

Politically, the response was the formation of anti-Eleďe bloc in the Esčambra— first the Čunidoi (Acorns), and later the Caďin Party. When Tomao’s granddaughter Andrea disappeared on a mysterious mission, the conservatives were able to impose a pagan king (Mëranac 1e, 3302) and re-establish the legal predominance of so ül uris. (They were unable to actually remove the privileges and civil rights granted to the Eleďi.)

Religiously, the result was the creation of a zealous and literalist fundamentalism. There is no precise Verdurian word for this movement; proponents speak of so ül uris but claim that it means and encompasses all post-Caďinorian religion; opponents usually speak of soi kežuli ‘the zealots’.

The fundamentalists can be said to make the following claims:

The core of fundamentalism is within the noble and rural elites, smaller towns, cletana professors, and a certain swath of intellectuals. It provides much of the ideology of the Caďin Party, and thus tends to be anti-urban, anti-bourgeois, and anti-democratic. One of its obsessions is union with Žésifo, which Mëranac 1e achieved by conquering it.

As Eleďát is a much smaller force in other countries of Eretald, fundamentalism is largely a Verdurian phenomenon. (There is sympathy for it in Érenat, where Eleďi usually rule, but there is a very small minority.) Actual scholars are rarely fundamentalist, and there has been a strong reaction against it among non-Eleďe scholars at the University of Verduria. This document reflects that reaction, as it’s provoked serious study of variations on Caďin religion and its development over time.

The manifesto of the fundamentalists is Eta so ül uris, written by Aďdorot Malhumey, a protégé of Dambes surcont Aodo, founder of the Caďin party, and published under Mëranac 1e in 3325. As it was written under what the fundamentalists called the “restoration”, it spends little time on Eleďát; its focus is how pagans should see the world. It is largely an attack on those, from Genremos onward, who sought to abstract and universalize the Caďinorian religion. He re-opens the feud with Cuzei, and goes so far as to disparage the Arauni gods— only the Twelve can be worshiped. He is far more concerned with the cults (řami) and non-Twelve worship than he is with the Eleďi: “If Verdurians worshiped their own gods correctly, they would not be so open to Avélan ones.” He does not neglect to draw political lessons: Verduria should concentrate on Eretald and the recovery of the Caďin holy lands, Žésifo and Lake Como; its interest in the sea and far-off lands is detrimental. He is all for the pure rule of the king and suspicious of the voters, who are too willing to support other parties.

Though marred by breeziness and a crankish overreliance on sarcasm, the book was effective in stopping the slide toward monotheism or pantheism. Malhumey made it respectable again for educated people to accept the popular gods. And after all, if you’re going to believe in gods, why not believe in the vivid and traditional Enäron, Vlerë, and Oruseon rather than the shadowy and impersonal Justice, Love, and Wisdom? It was not, after all, evidence and reason that led people to create their “ancient trinity”, but fashion and imitation.

Malhumey had great influence, though never as much as he hoped, on Mëranac 1e. This is most clearly seen in the king’s own multi-volume history of Verduria, which is precisely the sort of nationalist celebration the fundamentalists loved, without a hint of nuance or complexity.

The fundamentalists write with pained nostalgia about the near-totalitarian imperial control over the education and practice of priests, and advocated its return. But even the Caďin Party has never tried to strengthen state control over religion; the cletani, in fact, have made it clear that they are not interested in stronger royal supervision.

Popular beliefs

The fundamentalists claim to speak for the People and their “simple faith”; all the reason to be very careful about considering what the people actually believe. It’s true that the people tend to “really believe” in their gods. But they normally don’t “really believe” in all twelve gods, or even necessarily in any of those twelve. They don’t take their faith from the Aďivro, but from personal and temple practice… and those can depart widely from what Šm Malhumey preferred.

It’s true that the fundamentalists have sometimes been able to stir up the common people against Eleďi, often by insinuating that “our gods” are in danger. On the other hand, they really don’t want riots and communal strife. The Abolinerons, Mëranac’s dynasty, sputtered out in a low-grade civil war, and though subsequent kings have been pagan, none have countenanced any real interfaith violence.

Old and new gods

I’ve spent a lot of time in this document enumerating gods, and I won’t stop now. What’s the scorecard today? Who is still worshiped?

Though the list above is still roughly true, there are some gods who are less in favor:

Note, you will still go to the official festivals for these gods— who’s going to turn down the free food? Similarly, people still enjoy Koleva’s quest to find Boďneay, even if few now worship him. (In imperial times people sometimes referred to Koleva as baesa Boďnehaii ‘Boďneay’s heroine’; today Boďneay is sometimes called aď Koleve ‘Koleva’s god.’)

Two gods have increased in popularity:

It’s striking that these heavy-hitters are among the oldest of gods. Caloton was worshiped in Cayenas three thousand years ago, while Agibna was a Meťaiun kem at least four thousand years ago.

Also notable are a couple of changes in personality:

But it’s not as if the Twelve Gods are even a majority of people’s “own gods” these days.

First, almost all of the divine attendants, invented without much thought by imperial poets, are now worshiped in their own right. The official gods often feel too remote; just as a poor man is more likely to be able to reach the king’s cook than the king, he would prefer to address Syetnor rather than Řavcaëna, Vereon rather than Enäron.

Many of the lesser figures already mentioned are also worshiped as gods: Koleva, Maranh, Lago, even the emperors Keadau and Ervëa.

An open secret in Verduria is that the old demons are sometimes worshiped. If Fidra is too tame for you, this is your best option. This is easiest with Kezon, who is still the legitimate Arauni god of fire. His later career as a demon is both there and not there. In big cities there are legitimate temples of Kezon, whose public side is the benign Arauni deity. In smaller towns Kezon-worshipers usually worship Dúrion instead, naming him Kezon only in private.

There are also a number of new gods. Among the most popular:

Only with the new gods is it possible to construct new mythology, or even new stories about the old gods. It’s now felt to be impious to use the gods as characters in a narrative.

In the South

Almean sources stress the large number of gods worshiped in Eretald, but lists and geographical distributions are hard to come by. The cletani all use the Aďivro, which repeats the imperial instructions that priests should “use the local names of the gods”— but doesn’t encourage them to write down what these are. No one has even catalogued what temples exist in the small towns of Eretald.

Except in Cerei, a small archduchy along the upper Svetla, just south of Lake Como. As it happens, the government published Vaglädeca Curein “Pilgrimage to Curei”, which lists every shrine and temple in the archduchy, with walking directions.

Cerei is close to Aránicer, but while the latter was subject to intense Caďinorization, no one ever really cared about Cerei. Thus it’s an interesting example of how far people can stray from worship of the Twelve Gods while remaining in the Caďin fold.

Deities with three or more places of worship:

Even this list arguably minimizes the level of ‘unorthodoxy’, because the řami often don’t have temples, or have only one. And the ordinary believer in Cerei doesn’t care whether something is listed in Vaglädeca Curein. She might go to an official festival on one day, visit a roadside shrine the next, consult a herbalist or an alchemist the next, and listen to a local crazy preacher after that.

If we had demographic surveys, we’d have such-and-such a percentage of the population declaring themselves pagan, Eleďe, Endajué, etc.; but again, the masses don’t normally feel they have to make choices. It’s said that many people in Cerei are baptized as babies, have a Caďinorian coming-of-age ceremony and marriage, and have Naviu funerals. (The choice isn’t arbitrary— these are the ceremonies each religion makes the biggest fuss over.)

(What does it mean to worship Iain or Eleď as a pagan? Mostly that rites, hymns, and priests follow Caďinorian rather than Eleďe norms. The Aďivro is consulted for life rituals; people may attend other Caďinorian festivals. The main difference from Arašát, which also survived in Cerei, is the status of the Book of Eleď. “Pagans” may draw some hymns or stories from it, but they normally don’t read or study it; Arašei do.)

In Sarnáe

Sarnáe is ethnically half Eynleyni, but was largely Caďinorized. The cletani ensured that the Twelve Gods were thoroughly spread and the Six Gods eradicated. Eynleyni languages died out, replaced by what became Sarroc and Visecran.

Sarnáe became independent in the 2400s, while Caďinas was occupied by Bešbalicu and Coruo invasions. The most important result was that the Aďivro was never really promulgated there. The cletani in Iďanieha, Gopaondo, Loadro, and Visecra continued to use the old manuals. That of Iďanieha wrote its own hymnal, in Old Sarroc, in the 2700s. From the numbers of hymns, it seems that the Sarnáeans had whittled down the number of gods to worry about. The major ones were Endawo, Iswora, Cyacaina, Myierauc, Nesťiero, and Veȟaorya. There was apparently never any worship of the Arauni gods.

Moreover, there was a tendency to group the couples together, then worship each couple at appropriate times, forming a sort of trinity:

Endawo/Iswora ruled summer and the morning; gave justice and strength in war
Myierauc/Cyacaina ruled spring/fall and evening; responsible for crops and children
Nieťiero/Veȟaoryaruled winter and night; responsible for healing and love
In the 2500s Sarnáe was briefly but brutally conquered by the Gelyet, and the newly established Dhekhnam made Visecra its first external conquest, before it had even reabsorbed Demóshimor. For the next few centuries Sarnáe retained both its independence and its isolation from Eretald. It was finally conquered by Dhekhnam in 3160-72.

This conquest by a ktuvok empire was only marginally less disastrous than the one 2700 years before. The Dhekhnami systematically destroyed all Sarnáean institutions: cletani, guilds, universities, the nobility. The population was divided up into techeym (estates ruled by a particular ktuvok); ktuvoks and earlier-conquered humans (including Visecrans) were the only authorities. Eynleyni settlers were moved in, especially to the capital, renamed Idhanash.

The Caďinorian religion was allowed to remain— but hymnals and manuals were destroyed, and priests were required to teach that the Caďinorian gods were subordinate to Gelálh, and all references to Caďinas and the “demons” were forbidden. The new village elders would report any deviancy. (The local Eleďi were treated even more harshly— even parish priests were suppressed.)

In the last century or so, the Dhekhnami grip has loosened somewhat. Following standard ktuvok empire protocol, people from Lower Sarnáe (the first region to be conquered) could help conquer and rule Upper Sarnáe and the Monkhayu; Sarnáeans are also recruited to serve in the army in the east. The Sarnáeans have now been subject to Dhekhnam for centuries, and are loyal enough to be trusted. After Demóshimor, Sarnáe is the most urbanized and wealthy region of Dhekhnam.

The Sarnáeans are allowed to write down their hymns again— but only under the supervision of Visecrans, who have been under Dhekhnam for longer and are fully reconciled to Dhekhnami rule. It’s allowed to praise the gods, to ask them for blessings and guidance, to invoke them during marriages and such; but almost no mythology is allowed— no tales of Caďinas and not even stories of creation. It’s even forbidden to ask the Caďinorian gods to bless the Dhekhnami or their empire— because this would be above their station. Only Gelálh can offer such blessings.

Modern philosophers

Some readers (though not those who’ve read a lot of my stuff) may wonder why we’re talking about philosophy here at all. Isn’t religion just about gods and rituals and faith?

In the modern West, theology and philosophy are different faculties, if not entirely different schools. But even today there’s a large overlap: the entire field of ethics; free will; logic and argumentation; an intense interest in what can’t be settled by direct observation. To a medieval Catholic, philosophy and scripture complemented and completed each other. In other civilizations, like China, the distinction hardly makes sense: Dàoist philosophy isn’t divided from Dàoist religion.

Genremos in his study, the theologian in his claetanda, and Letanesec in his theater, were all creating parts of the Caďinorian belief system. They asked similar questions: Where did our world come from? How should the empire be governed? What should a good person do? Why is there evil and pain, and can we stop them? When can an argument be considered reasonable? The people praying in the temples, or placing a glass of beer in front of an ancestor’s portrait, listened to all of these in different ways, and had their own concerns. None of these groups ‘owned’ Caďinorian religion.

The ancient philosophers rarely took the priests’ ideas of gods seriously. Still, they referred to the myths and even the gods, as things everyone knew. They did not have the habit of skepticism, the assumption that stories of miracles must be false. They sometimes called a dramatist’s idea unlikely, but the whole idea that dramatists simply made up their tales was alien to them. (An artist was never praised for being creative, but for his style and verisimilitude.) The imperial scholar’s instinct was always to read everything he could, starting with whatever Cuzeian manuscripts were available, and keep as much of everything as possible. He only threw out something if it clearly contradicted other sources. And the distinction between a “historical” and a “mythological” source was by no means clear.

The theologians too read philosophy, and used what they could. The association of the Arauni gods with elements was certainly borrowed from the philosophers. When the philosophers defined gods as bukrares (unlimited, infinite), they started to use the word in hymns. The compilers of the Aďivro had the exact same method as Caďinorian historians or physicians: gather all your sources and harmonize them as best you can.

In modern Eretald, as in the West, the disciplines have grown farther apart. Now familiar with other religions, philosophers cannot take aďát for granted, and some question whether the concept even exists. You can no longer secure an argument simply by citing an authority— whether it’s Genremos or the Aďivro. Modern scholarship is very clear about the mythologization process and eager to see past it; it hasn’t arrived at the postmodern position that objective truth isn’t discoverable after all.

Natural philosophy

The most important development in post-Caďinorian thought has been the elaboration of the scientific method. This came in parallel with the political rise of Verduria in the 2900s, and Kebri a couple of centuries earlier.

A key theoretician of post-Caďinorian science was Éres hipcont Ďacendi (d. 3052), a nobleman who devoted himself to natural philosophy. As a scientist, his contribution was in optics; he translated Flaidish works on their recent invention, eyeglasses, and proposed an anatomical basis for how they worked. The flaids understood more or less how a lens affected light; Ďacendi’s insight was that the lens of the eye was, well, a lens. He even demonstrated this using eyes cut from dead animals.

More importantly, he wrote up a manual (Eta sade divreo, Of true learning) for making such analyses— an early description of the scientific method. His process can be summarized:

So far as is known, Ďacendi was the first to use the phrase araste beďo which came to characterize the natural philophers’ new methods. This was in line with Genremos’ exhortations to observe the world and discard ideas that didn’t work— but classical scholars mostly repeated rather than followed this good advice. Ďacendi spends several instructive chapters telling scholars how to look, as well as who to talk to (mechanics, sailors, gardeners, and other people who knew how to do things).

Though Ďacendi did not make the crucial step of asking scientists to test their theories with specific experiments, he fought against the habits of aprioristic argumentation, emphasized empirical investigation, and underlined how easy it was to fool oneself.

For specific scientists, see the Almeopedia. For instance:

Being a scientist did not preclude what we would call religious inclinations or investigations. Nošcerey spent a good deal of time compiling a detailed comparison of Eleďát, Caďinorian religion, Irreanism, and Endajué. Calseoma devoted years to trying to find numerological and cyclical patterns in history.


The most influential of modern Verdurian philosophers is Kaimel Cistile, also of noble descent, who dedicated himself to what he called ripriroda abcuraynë “rationalistic philosophy,” during the realm of Mëranac 1e. His goal was nothing less than to solve the remaining problems of Caďinorian philosophy.

His masterworks were Eta itian, deyon, er čikara (On spirit, matter, and energy, 5 volumes, 3314), and Cervo er itian (Brain and spirit, 2 volumes, 3317), which largely tossed out and reconstituted Caďinorian metaphysics.

Verdurian physicists already relied on the distinction between matter (deyon) and energy (čikara). A moving arrow is identical in physical composition to one at rest, but has the additional property of čikara. In the same way, Cistile proposed, a living man was physically identical to a corpse, but had the additional property of itian. His major innovation was to fully toss out the doctrine of the quadripartite soul, for which there was no physical evidence, and which only led to useless puzzles— i.e. all animals had eyes, brains, hearts, and guts, and their appearance had no obvious connection to their abilities.

The one observation that seemed to hold up was that the more intelligent the animal, the larger the brain; from this he concluded that itian was seated solely in the brain.

That left the problem of how itian affected matter. Cistile proposed that it did not; rather, itian affected čikara, which in turn affected matter. Though we may find that this does really add much explanation, it allowed him to discard the multiple bits of soul with their connection to unlikely bits of tissue. “The heart is only a pump,” he declared— a pronouncement that caught the fancy of the public, which distorted it into an epithet for the uncompassionate (“I love that man, but his heart is only a pump.”)

Cistile, though not a physician himself, interested himself deeply in medicine; and (having conversed at length with the physicians at mental hospitals, and even observed a number of dissections) he was the first philosopher to make a connection between brain disease and mental illness; he concluded that the physical deterioration of the brain must inevitably lead to wasted or diverted čikara, and eventually loss of connection to the driving itian. (An insane person thus had a healthy itian but a malfunctioning apparatus for expressing it.)

Cistile finished these works before he was forty, and devoted the remainder of his long career to another unresolved philosophical problem— the nature of God. His writings on theology, notably Hecu Aďei “The nature of God”, are notable for their penetration, their careful reasoning, and their scientific erudition, but are not considered to have broken much new ground; his God was something like the Freudian superego, nagging the itian on to greater rationality and righteousness.


Dašcor Čurmey is a contemporary philosopher, and a contentious one. He has been imprisoned, or his works banned, more than once— he is proof that the toleration of Verdurian society has its limits.

He is the first of the philosophers to deny the rationality and goodness of the universe. Pointing to the brutality and ignorance in human history, as well as the savagery of nature (others prefer to speak of its exhilarating ďarimát ‘wildness’), he maintains that the realities of the world are power, lust, and greed. He ridicules rationality as “the fireside dreamings of airy (šaleme) souls protected from meeting reality by the mocking power of others’ swords.”

He is a ferocious satirist, who would not outrage so much if he were not also widely and eagerly read by the urban literati. His knowledge of the philosophers he reviles is comprehensive, and he is well acquainted with the new scholarship of Caďin origins.

Critics have had a heyday with his personal life; claiming to admire the “carefree savages of Téllinor”, he claims to live a life of dissipation— drinking, gambling, bisexuality. He cheerfully takes on priests, nobles, Eleďi, newly rich bourgeois, and even the King. His enemies point to this as evidence of the corrupting nature of his ideas; the more level-headed have noticed that Čurmey thrives on shock more than on debauchery itself. His supporters say that he is less wild in his actual activities than many of his critics.

Much of his work appears in popular magazines and newspapers, but several books have caused philosophers to take notice.


The official religion never really offered a path for personal development— there’s nothing about it in the Aďivro— but the cults pioneered this in the Dark Years, and the priests are finally catching up. There are several paths. If you want to withdraw from society, there are still monasteries. Caďin religion is still about community, so you are not supposed to just sit apart and pray; monks are supposed to help local communities, copy manuscripts, teach students, produce something valuable, or even offer physical protection— there are several orders of monastic monks.

It’s meritorious to go on a pilgrimage (vaglädeca) to holy sites. For Verdurians this usually means a trip to Žésifo or Lake Como, though there is a convenient minor circuit of shrines right in Verduria province.

For a quick spiritual pick-me-up, you make a vow (proeto) to your god. This usually involves a fast, chastity, and/or some sort of ordeal (raženi), anything from climbing a mountain barefoot to wearing hemp clothes to eating only raw foods. These can be undertaken in order to ask a favor, but it’s now common to simply look for some temporary purity.

Meditation (osiresa) has spread, as a form of self-reflection and calming. The methods are close to those of Endajué and probably were adopted from it, especially as there’s no attempt to link it to the gods.

Some of the medieval cults encouraged devotion (ayurea) to a particular god, often involving ecstatic states. The competition with Eleďát has encouraged Caďin religion to go in this direction: modern hymns have adopted the language of god and worshiper loving each other, and people are more likely to choose a personal god of the opposite sex.

Since imperial times there has been a resurgence of oracles (husi). Once hard to find and staffed by mentally unstable persons, these are increasingly managed by the official hierarchy. If the local priest can’t solve your problem, you can go to the oracle.

If all else fails, there’s drugs. (Not including alcohol, which has always been a part of Caďin festivals.) The main drugs available, in increasing order of efficacy, are panföy, mafloš, bečas (Xurnese pepec), and mokan. There are rituals and practices to distinguish a religious from a recreational experience.

Being pagan

To end, I will offer some impressionistic, vague statements about what it means in Verduria to “follow tësaďát” rather than any other religion. Think of these as applying to, say, 60% of pagans. That is, these are typical beliefs and practices, but it’s not uncommon to find something else entirely.
Also see the Verdurian culture test.
© 2017 by Mark Rosenfelder

Virtual Verduria Almean Belief Systems