Author Topic: Solar Cult  (Read 2429 times)

Offline Nash

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Solar Cult
« on: December 09, 2009, 08:11:42 PM »
I was thumbing through the Inquisitor Sketchbook for inspiration (for a member of a retinue who's going to be a missionary and who I wanted to be something different from the usual Ministorum member) when I stopped in front of the 2 sketches of "Solar Cultists", one of the concepts which wasn't used in the end.

And I decided to develop that cult... The concept of a cult who venerated the Sun as an embodiment of the Emperor seems pretty interesting. Particularly, most citizens of the Imperium will only see one thing of Mankind's birthplace: that little star called "Sol".

Since the really basic info given by the sketchbook states that they have knowledge of astronomy (very likely to be able to know where Sol is in their sky) and astrology, the first thing I decided was to make this Cult one that is mostly limited to the "higher classes" of the Imperium: Nobles and Scholars.

The other mention is their "Annihilist faction" which is pretty much a monodominant part of the cult... It makes that Cult ressemble the Red Redemption in its proposed "solutions" to the different problems of the Imperium, while it places it on a very different setting since each of these cults recruits from very different classes, more or less those at both ends of the spectrum of Imperial society.

The next question I asked myself "Why would such a Cult survive inside Imperial society? Wouldn't they be burnt as heretics?".
First, they're revering the Emperor under another form not unlike what the Mechanicus and Astartes are doing, so their heresy can be deemed "limited enough to be acceptable".
Then, if the Cult is made only of Scholars and Nobles, it probably had gained enough leverage from powerful members of the Imperial Society and had enough skilled advocates to defend it by the time it became sufficiently widespread to attract the attention of the Ordo Hereticus (and the "normal" Ministorum). But those same close ties with powerful Imperials would make the cult look dangerous to the Inquisition so they'd probably keep an eye on it even if they don't feel it necessary to crush it outright.
Then, the fact that those who'd belong to that Cult would be pretty rich would probably make it be seen it a very bad way by the more feet-on-the-earth (read "greedy") members of the Ecclesiarchy, who would thus wait for the first occasion to scream "Heresy!" and see that cash finally flow into the "right coffers".

Thus, the Cult would be tolerated, because crushing it without a good enough reason would create a potentially explosive situation, but would be nevertheless kept under heavy scrutiny by some Imperial institutions and its members would have trouble getting help from their Ecclesiarchy conterparts and /or would be shunned by them...

But that's where I'm stuck. I've tried to come up with more about the cult itself, detailling some of its beliefs, its origins, its history, etc... But everything I came up with so far seems a bit lame to me. So I thought: "time to ask for help..."

And here I am... We could make this a bit like a brainstorming session, throwing all the ideas we have and sorting through them later...

So if you're willing to help: shoot! ;)
« Last Edit: December 09, 2009, 08:19:00 PM by Nash »

Offline Kaled

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Re: Solar Cult
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2009, 08:39:15 PM »
Remember that the Ecclesiarchy is not a single unified religion - more a collection of beliefs all centred around venerating the Emperor.  As such there isn't necessarily anything even slightly heretical about worshipping the sun as an embodiment of the Emperor - in fact there are probably many stranger ways of worshipping the Emperor.  There isn't necessarily any reason it should be under more scrutiny than any other cult (although it could be if that's the story you want to tell).
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Offline DapperAnarchist

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Re: Solar Cult
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2009, 10:04:19 PM »
The Solar Cults might have something that other Imperial Faiths don't seem to have often - a myth of the creation of man and of the universe. Most seem to start with the Crusade in their official history, from the bits and pieces that are mentioned, while a Solar Cult might have a story of how the Spirit of the Emperor animated Holy Terra and led to life and so on and so forth...

However, the Solar Cults do contain a serious risk - of Xenos Worship. The original worship of the C'Tan possibly started with the worship of the Necron "Homestar" (which I'm going to start calling Sothis - its the Egyptian [Greek version] name for Sirius), and so worship of Sol might lead to worship of the Star Vampires. At the least, the Dragon Cult could use the Solar Cult as a cover or a source of Converts...
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Offline Tullio

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Re: Solar Cult
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2009, 10:25:37 PM »
If you're stuck, play word-association. Objects often become central to religious and moral thinking out of practicality - tribesmen will practice hospitality and communal sharing as a defence against hard times, fire will become spiritually significant in a climate where keeping warm is difficult, etc etc. A good 40K example for this can be found in Xenos. I can't remember the name of the planet, but thier whole society revolved around the cylce of thier planet as it moved nearer to the sun and warmed up during its orbit.

Solar cultists might well recognise the ecological impact of the Sun and equate that with the goodness of the Emperor. Or blame harmful solar activity on sinners making Him angry. Something like that, anyway. From those basic ideas you can just pile on ceremony - no matter how absurd it may sound. Religious ceremony IS ridiculous from a purely logical standpoint, so what might sound goofy to you could well be deep and siginificant to your cult of eggheads and richboys.

Hope I've helped somehow

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Offline Nash

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Re: Solar Cult
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2009, 11:26:36 PM »
Well all good advices/ideas so far...

Though I'd rather have them worshipping only Sol and not "any sun"... It  makes more sense IMO for a Cult made mostly of learned people. They would only care about the "real sun" which would be special to them...

Then it'd make sense for such a Solar Cult to have nightly ceremonies if it is implanted in any system but Terra's (for it's not until night that Sol would be visible)... But isn't a Solar Cult active only at night in 99.9% of the Imperium a paradox?
And what about that same Cult on Terra itself? Would they have a completely different timing for their rituals? (Diurnal instead of nocturnal?)
I'm really not sure this approach is very coherent...

Or that cult could follow a schedule of rituals completely independant of the local time but based upon when the sun rises, attains its zenith and sets upon the Golden Throne... That would make the whole Cult in the whole Imperium pray at exactly the same time(s), and would explain why being skilled in astronomy is a requirement of the Cult, simply to be able to calculate at which time of the local day/night cycle they should be praying...
And they would have to be able to calculate Sol's position too (for our little star mustn't be visible to the naked eye that far in the galaxy), in order to be able to pray facing the direction of their God.
I think that second solution is better...

The difference IMO with this cult and "any other Imperial cult" is that it would have to make some sort of sense even if its basis is only religious thingamob... Because to take root in the circles frequented by the more educated people of the Imperium it would have to be less based upon pure superstition and more upon "that's a logical way to praise the Emperor-God". It would also explain why it gained a strong base of followers among the "elite": praying "in a more adequate way than the masses" would appeal to anyone prideful...

Now, when I envisionned the cult at first, I wanted to make the original members of the Cult Space-farers (those who are "naturally" skilled enough in astronomy to "evolve" such a set of beliefs): the Noble families of the Navy, the Rogue Trader fleets, or maybe the Navis Nobilite itself... But if I go for the second model (praying according to time flow on Terra itself) then the different flows of Warp-time and real time would make it impossible...
That cult would thus have to have originated on Terra itself. But then having a cult which is seen as "potentially heretical" by some Imperial institutions (its an aspect I'd like to keep) being born on Terra itself, on the very doorstep of the said institutions seems a bit farfetched!

And that's where I find myself really stuck. I kept all I've written above to myself so far because I hoped that someone would say something which would allow me to find a way out of the corner I painted myself into, but I guess explaining the issue might actually get me more help ;)
« Last Edit: December 09, 2009, 11:32:17 PM by Nash »

Offline N01H3r3

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Re: Solar Cult
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2009, 11:44:40 PM »
But isn't a Solar Cult active only at night in 99.9% of the Imperium a paradox?
No, it's an oddity, which is not only acceptable, but encouraged.

Quote
And what about that same Cult on Terra itself? Would they have a completely different timing for their rituals? (Diurnal instead of nocturnal?)
The timing isn't the important bit here, the object of worship is. Terran Sol-cultists may even consider themselves superior to their brethren elsewhere, because they are closer to the star they venerate.

Quote
Or that cult could follow a schedule of rituals completely independant of the local time but based upon when the sun rises, attains its zenith and sets upon the Golden Throne... That would make the whole Cult in the whole Imperium pray at exactly the same time(s), and would explain why being skilled in astronomy is a requirement of the Cult, simply to be able to calculate at which time of the local day/night cycle they should be praying...
Why not do both? Some of the cult are beholden to the time (difficult in the Imperium, as time is difficult to keep accurate from one world to another, particularly when Warp Travel becomes involved), while others practice rites of stargazing to try and observe Sol from afar (whether or not they can is a matter for reasoned debate amongst cultists over fine amasec and in the presence of many ornate telescopes), with beliefs differing between different groups in different places as the cult has spread haphazardly away from Terra.
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Offline Kaled

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Re: Solar Cult
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2009, 12:10:05 AM »
Personally I don't think it makes sense for this one cult to have members all across the Imperium, there are no doubt hundreds of sun worshipping cults in the Imperium - some which worship their local star, others that worship Sol, others that worship some other significant star.  It seems most likely that many of these cults that worship the sun-as-Emperor would be adaptations of beliefs that pre-date Imperial contact.
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Offline Nash

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Re: Solar Cult
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2009, 10:15:22 AM »
The timing isn't the important bit here, the object of worship is. Terran Sol-cultists may even consider themselves superior to their brethren elsewhere, because they are closer to the star they venerate.
In fact I'm starting to wonder if the Cult would even be present at all within the Solar system... That would be the ultimate irony.
Quote
Why not do both? Some of the cult are beholden to the time (difficult in the Imperium, as time is difficult to keep accurate from one world to another, particularly when Warp Travel becomes involved), while others practice rites of stargazing to try and observe Sol from afar (whether or not they can is a matter for reasoned debate amongst cultists over fine amasec and in the presence of many ornate telescopes), with beliefs differing between different groups in different places as the cult has spread haphazardly away from Terra.
I kindda like that approach... This inconbsitence in local beliefs would make for funny roleplaying occasions too...

======
Personally I don't think it makes sense for this one cult to have members all across the Imperium, there are no doubt hundreds of sun worshipping cults in the Imperium - some which worship their local star, others that worship Sol, others that worship some other significant star.  It seems most likely that many of these cults that worship the sun-as-Emperor would be adaptations of beliefs that pre-date Imperial contact.
Since I see this cult as being quite widepread (a bit like the Red Redemption is supposed to be since Dark Heresy came out) it'd have members all across the Imperium, not everywhere, but on many worlds.
But you're right nevertheless that there would be "The Solar Cult" (the one we're working upon) and "solar cults" (who worship the Emperor through a solar avatar but have no other link to the cult we're talking about)...

Offline Tullio

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Re: Solar Cult
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2009, 01:15:25 PM »
Quote
In fact I'm starting to wonder if the Cult would even be present at all within the Solar system... That would be the ultimate irony.

Well, maybe not indeed. But hey, it's easier to venerate something the further away it is. The thing is, with such a famour star as Sol, it really doesn't matter where in the Imperium this cult developed, or for that matter when they worship. It's quite possible they set thier telescopes on a star each night, believing it to be Sol and being completely wrong, learned as they are. It doesn't really change the worship, make it less meaningful fof the cultists, but it does neatly highlight our inherent nature to get things wrong.

Tullio

Offline Shard

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Re: Solar Cult
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2009, 06:47:13 PM »
Just skim-read this thread, and I've developed something similar. Here's some stuff I did back on the old 'clave for them (they now pop up in Dark Heresy more than Inquisitor). I hope it could be of use to you!  :)

 



+++Opening Datafile...+++
+++Subject: Cults of the Harald Sector+++
+++Author: Scrivener-adept Haroun+++
+++Thought for the day: There is no arguing with the barrel of a gun+++

A summary whereupon examined are the numerous cults and sects found within the Harald Sector (Part the First)

My lord,

As has been already established, the cataloguing of the many worshipping bodies and esoteric sects has been a task my predecssor bent all her will upon, but still did not complete in their lifetime. I thank you for this assigment in the hope I shall prove as dedicated unto this task as did she, and again thank you for the honour of it. I trust my work here will be of use to yourself and the Ordo as a whole,

Your obedient servant,

Decius Haroun, Scrivener-adept 1st Class


The Solarite Faith

This particular cult is loosely based upon the mainstream Imperial Creed, though there are large divergences in doctrine concerning the current state of He-on-Terra, the status of stars, and various religious practises. Origins are difficult to establish, but from what has been pieced together has come forth two equally valid theories, though conflicting historical sources would appear to contradict these.

The first theory on the origins of the Solarites has their beliefs being lifted in part from a pagan tribe upon a feral world, adopting and modifying native religious observations into the Ministorum's teachings. Obviously, this pagan tribe were primitive sun worshippers, and upon their conversion and re-introduction to His light appear to have retained many of their old influences. Worshippng the sun as a deity in itself was converted to having the sun as the representative of a deity, and rituals based on tolerance to flames and pain in honour of the sun became acts of self-purging to better earn favour in His eyes.

The second theory upon Solarite origins, hotly debated by theologians, places their rise as a breakaway element of a now-extinct Adeptus Mechanicus Sect. The original Solarites would have been the common workforce, influences from their superiors either being mimicked in the hope of gaining favour, or through forced indoctrination to try and better worker productivity with a common faith. There have been a half-dozen or so documented cases of Mechanicus cults that could be said to be Solar in basis, and most likely more (requests to access Mechanicus history files were denied, and so this subject has few sources), though these were mostly purged by their brethren for heretical conduct against the Omnissiah (the most infamous event of which was the Steel Pogroms of Tevrius Reach, the planet's western continent suffering greatly as a demi-legion of titans was unleashed against what was, essentially, a score or so of Techpriests that acknowledged stars as another aspect of the Machine God, the All-Powerful Energy-Bringer).

Both these theories have evidence to support them; indeed the more extremist elements of the Solarite Church cause themselves flame-related injuries in efforts to purify themselves of sin, and show their devotion to He-on-Terra. Technology is also greatly respected, more so than in the Ecclesiarchy. Many Solarite places of worship possess great plasma reactors, often for no other reason than its representation of a sun, and its great potential energy. This may be, in many instances, not practical (poor maintanence, lack of specialists to adequately monitor it, frequent fatalities due to unprotected exposure), but this does not deter the Solarites. Any that die due to exposure are obviously unworthy in His infallible wisdom, or so they reason. It does also mean that in some cases, a Solarite cathedral is actually able to power its own community, instead of relying on local generatorium facilities. A handful of the largest cathedrals also possess power shields hooked up to their plasma sources more akin to the types found aboard space vessels than those that power a city's glowbulbs, along with batteries of blessed lasers, intended to shoot down infidels.

Although not overly militaristic, unlike other religious bodies such as the Red Redemption, when the need arises the Solarite Priests are just as capable as any Ecclesiarchy Preacher in raising a zealous mob. Plasma weaponry is preferable, and even sacred, being termed as 'Sun guns'. Only a select chosen may carry them (and, should the weapon malfunction, it is obviously a punishment wrought down upon the head of the impious), most often being those amongst the Priesthood. Las weaponry, and photon flash grenades, are also widely popular amongst the masses. The las for its use of an energy-based ammunition, and the grenades for their intense brightness (which often does no harm to its users, numeous Solarites making use of sun filters, optic augmentation and glare shades to allow them to 'sun-stare' for extended periods of time, in a form of meditation).

The Priesthood is similar in composition and structure to that of the Eccelsiarchy, maintaining preachers, a host of well-funded missionary colleges, bishops, abbots and cardinals. Scattered across the Imperium can be found monasteries and convents of Solarites (female worshippers sometimes being termed 'Sun Nuns' by less pious members of the cult), and missionaries have been known to accompany rogue traders in their exploits, establishing Solarite cults on worlds that have not seen other humans for ten thousand years. This has caused some friction with the Ministorum, but within their ranks can be found Solarite sympathisers. Only thirty-seven years ago was a bill rejected in the Holy Synod that would have granted the founding of a lesser order of Adepta Sororitas under heavy Solarite influence. The bill's proposer, Cardinal Radsey, was later excommunicated and burnt due to 'deviation with Imperial doctrine'.

A religious body with a strong position, the Solarite church has come under Inquisitorial scrutiny over three hundred times in the past millenia alone - so far, it has been judged a non-heretical organisation, but should a strong and determined enough body of Puritans come together to denounce it, the consequences could be dire.

 

+++End file.

Offline Nash

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Re: Solar Cult
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2009, 01:26:53 PM »
Well thanks for this Shard...

But in fact your solar cult and mine are quite different in their premises... Even if, in the end, their common faith makes them seem relatively alike.

Offline Molotov

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Re: Solar Cult
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2009, 04:42:02 PM »
Hey Nash (It's nice  to see you here!)

Whilst it's just a relatively meagre contribution to the topic, I've fiddled with solar-centric faiths before, as i think they work quite well in Inquisitor. I've always liked the term "Heliocultists", as I think the word has nice 'weight'. Maybe it'll prove useful to you, too! :)
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Offline Ynek

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Re: Solar Cult
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2009, 11:57:36 PM »
For a brief period, I considered creating a female inquisitor character who was a sun-worshipper. I got as far as the concept drawing stages before deciding that she probably wasn't worth persuing any further.

I might actually have the drawing somewhere around here, but she had all sorts of subtle solar symbols on her body. She had a crescent-shaped headdress which symbolised the partial solar eclipse under which she was born - supposedly a sign of imminent greatness among her people. She also had sun-shaped rivets on her armour and a tattoo of a roman numeral inside a sun.

I'll try to find those old drawings tomorrow after work, if I can....
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Offline Nash

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Re: Solar Cult
« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2009, 04:04:06 PM »
Molotov, I haven't settled for a name yet... Since I want the cult to be at the same time somewhat ostracized by the "classic" Ecclesiarchy but not being really a completely independant body either, I was thinking of using either "tendency" or "denomination" in its official name... I can imagine however "those Heliocultists" being used as a slightly derogatory term by the members of the "classic" Ecclesiarchy...

Ynek, if you do find it I'd be interested in seeing it...
« Last Edit: December 13, 2009, 08:30:53 PM by Nash »