I’ve been thinking a lot about Elua & his Companions lately. I’m thinking I may do a series of posts about each of them, talking about what we know from canon & then getting into my own headcanon about their worship. I wish we had as much info on all the Companions as we’ve got on Kushiel, Naamah, & Cassiel.
We used to have a running joke on kushielsorting about what priests of Azza do. Do they just go around acting proud at people??
“Gef,” you say, “I am interested in honouring Elua and His Companions, but I am asexual/aromantic/not interested or currently interested in sexual things, can I still include these deities in my pop culture practice?”
The answer to that question is yes, of course you can! But I will now elaborate on this in greater detail.
It’s no secret that D'Angelines have a thing for sex. They have a guild of highly trained prostitutes who view sex as an act of worship. They also have a reputation for being rather free and open with their sexuality (at least compared to other nations around them).
A chief tenet (and arguably the most important part of D'Angeline belief) is Elua’s Precept: “Love as thou wilt,” this is quite literally the foundation of D'Angeline society. Everything they do is (ideally) influenced by this precept.
Note that the Precept does not specify a particular kind of way a person must love, however. The Precept doesn’t reference sexual, romantic, familial, or any other sort of love, it just says “love as thou wilt” love, in accordance with your will (whatever your will may be).
In addition, many D'Angeline deities have aspects of their cults that are not sexual in nature, a few of these aspects are discussed below:
Cassiel - The last Companion to join Blessed Elua, Cassiel is said to have “loved Elua like a brother” and he alone out of all of the Companions chose not to have children and claim a piece of Terre D'Ange as his own, instead remaining by Elua’s side as his “Perfect Companion”. He is honored by the Cassiline Brotherhood, who take vows of celibacy (and are cast out if they break them) and dedicate their lives to protecting their wards, just as Cassiel warded Elua.
Cassiel is the only D'Angeline deity who is presented as being completely uninterested in sexual and/or romantic matters. His love for Elua is that of siblings to one another, which makes him an appropriate patron for those who, for whatever reason choose not to or simply do not experience romantic love or sexual desire. The one thing to keep in mind, however, is that Cassiel is definitely a more masculine-oriented deity (only men are admitted into the Cassilines) so women may find it difficult to connect to him.
Kushiel - Although Kushiel’s cult is connected to the Night Court (as he has a shrine in Valerian House, and presumably in Mandrake House as well) his cult is concerned more with penance. The love that those in his charge felt for him is said to have been “a love that transcended the divine”. This love is not necessarily sexual in nature, but the kind of love that cleanses and liberates.
In fact, most of the deities apart from Naamah and Eisheth have concerns that aren’t romantic or sexual in nature: Shemhazai is associated with learning and inventing and is credited with bringing written language to Terre D'Ange, Camael is a martial angel associated with war, Anael with farming and animal husbandry, and Azza with pride in one’s accomplishments, who taught D'Angelines navigation.
Eisheth - Eisheth is very much associated with fertility, pregnancy, and birth, but she is also honoured as a patroness of the arts (especially music, storytelling, and acting) and healing. Someone could easily focus on these aspects of the goddess.
Elua - Elua unites all of the Companions, as a child of Mother Earth, he is heavily associated with the natural world, and his priests and priestesses go barefoot to reflect this, he also seems to be associated somewhat with divination and things of a mystical nature (as many Gentian adepts join his order when they complete their training). As discussed before, His Precept “Love as thou wilt,” does not specify how one is to love, merely that they are to do so in accordance with their will.
The only Companion that would probably be difficult to work with is Naamah, who is very heavily associated with desire and sexuality. She does have many aspects (expressed by the Thirteen Houses of the Night Court), but some of those aspects are already covered by other deities (Mandrake and Valerian with Kushiel, Balm with Eisheth, Gentian with Elua, etc.) However, many of the Houses (like Jasmine) have canons that can be applied in ways that aren’t oriented towards sexual matters (in Jasmine’s case, pleasure can be derived from anything from eating a good meal to exercising).