In writing my comic, I’ve come to the point in my world building where I have to iron out the religions and beliefs that exist for the people populating the story. This is an interesting and difficult process, because I already have many of thd characters and the general plot and theme, so I have to create something believable as well as fitting, while still being flexible enough to mold the details I already have into better ideas should they present themselves.
Here’s what I’m thinking so far, but this is, of course, subject to change.
The Emerged (or The Council or The Elders) - A group of Fae that are the descendents of the original followers of Kang Xi, the first emperor and first blessed with the knowledge of Emergence. These men and women have immortal consciousness within mortal bodies, and pass their minds from master to apprentice every generation. Thus, they are the gatekeepers of knowledge and history, and continue their political and religious intrigues over hundreds of years. You can tell the Emerged from their lineages, as they always carry the same last name from Emerged to Emerged regardless of whether their mortal bodies are genetically related or not. Thus the emperor is always named Kang Xi. Both Senuta and Odai are Emerged, though only Odai is from the First Council and named a Grand Soul. Senuta is what’s called a “Second Soul”.
The Emerged are the leaders of the faith, with Kang Xi as the divine ruler of both the spiritual and material matters of his lands. The Emerged make law, levy taxes, organize law enforcement and the military and maintain the only education system. Only the Emerged can ordain teachers and priests, and the serve Holy edicts by which the churches must abide.
Second Souls (or The Tainted) - Emerged that were created after the First Council, either with permission from the Emperor or in secret. The Tainted have caused much political and spiritual strife through out history, and there have been periods of purging, where lineages were ended by death penalty. While there is no telling how many Second Souls actually exist, only the official Council, along with Kang Xi can recognize or purge a lineage, and do so by vote. Those who are not recognized live in secret, fearing that they may be killed if discovered.
The Church (or the Wells of the Elders) - buildings ranging from small country churches to large cathedrals that are built around wellsprings. These building are run by priests or monks (of any gender) and are responsible for the education, law enforcement and spiritual rituals for the common people.
Priests (called Old or Wise as a prefix) - Priests are pillars of their communities, overseeing weddings and last rites, and helping the sick as magical healers. They also organize juries and serve as judges for individuals who are caught breaking the law. They are imbued with a great deal of local power with varying levels of oversight, and can be humble servants or corrupt dictators.
Monks (called Well keepers) - if a church or cathedral is equiped, they may have a monastic order. The Well keepers keep records of all the important family histories in the land, study science, technology, magic and philosophy as well as divine arts. Unlike priests, Well Keepers do not have families or children, and are the only people granted to perform Well Dream rituals for the gentry.
Well Keepers will also add to the commerce of an area, selling honey and agricultural goods, fixing machinery and running printing presses. They also run schools for common people, from the smallest country classrooms to the largest universities.
Well Dreams - a ritual, guided by a Well Keeper, where two individuals can share memories. Every noble family has a member (usually a second or third son or daughter) that is designated the Family Scribe. They are responsible for living the memories of their family members and recording them for posterity, so that they can live in accordance with the Emerged who have eternal memory. Usually when a family member is elderly, and especially if they are the patriarch or matriarch, they will pilgrimage with the Family Scribe for one last Well Dream before they pass on.
The Common Faith (or the Unnamed Faith, the Faith of Heathens or The Path of Stones) - the pagan religion of the common folk. Polytheistic and agricultural based, the people celebrate season rituals and the Gods associated with them. Dubbed the Path of Stones by many followrs because it deals with those things that are real, physical and not of the realm of the mind, which is seen to be only the realm of those who do not fear starvation or death.
Outlaw Wizards and Witches (or the Well of Shadows) - practitioners of magic that refuse to associate with the Well of Elders and it’s official church, either through philosophical difference or excommunication. These practitioners are often associated with outlaw Second Souls and learn their skills from them. The penalty for their practice is death.