The Grand First
Religious Order of Istus
The most common religion of Meditouria, centered around the Goddess Istus: the divine being of fate and destiny. She is also referred to as “The Lady of All Fate,” “The Colorless,” and the “All-Colored.” She is often depicted as a maiden with her eyes closed—often in artwork where she appears with mortals her face is angled away from them.
Her symbol is a downward pointing needle, an emblem which represents her weaving of fate and knowledge of the future:
Emerging as an organized faith during the Wyrmic Era, Istus worshippers established a set religious doctrine under the banner of Queen Haelynn of Aravale, a city-state that over the next few hundred years would grow to become the kingdom of Aravon (see Tar Avaron for more information). A devout follower of Istus, Queen Haelynn melted her crown during the War of Storms, a conflict that spanned tens of city-states in what is now Tar Avaron and the Carpatian Anarch. She created for herself a new title, Diviner, claiming that all lives are mere vessels to the execution of fate at the hands of Istus. Many of the precedents for Istusian worship she set are still in use in some form or another today.
With no natural heir, Haelynn trusted the hand of fate to select an heir to follow in her footsteps, ultimately entrusting the future of her kingdom to a child of lesser nobles, who emancipated their son so that he could succeed Haelynn on her deathbed.
Individual temples are headed by priests, who provide guidance and interpretation of events as part of Istus’ weaving of fate. In Tar Aravon, these priests are also considered lesser nobles, with the ability to enact local laws, settle disputes in the manner of a judge, and issue documentation in good faith of the kingdom.
Above the priests in the hierarchy are Readers, an almost scholarly group that collects, studies, and documents history in an attempt to discern the “direction” of the world and determine what worshippers of Istus should be doing to help realize her desires. Readers also train and teach acolytes who hope to be raised to the priesthood.
In Tar Aravon specifically, Nobility Priests form the next rung of the ladder, priests with land holdings and power over matters of state in sometimes huge areas of land. Although they do not answer to Readers, they cannot raise citizenry to the priesthood, and their children must be confirmed by a non-familial Reader or Nobility Priest in order to guarantee succession.
The top figure of the religious structure is the Diviner, a figurehead who speaks with the authority of Istus and, often throughout history, is also a paladin or cleric with considerable power allocated to them through their communion with the goddess. The Diviner’s word is final on all religious rites and matters, and also acts as the political leader of Tar Aravon, the only kingdom of Medatouria with a state religion.
Religious Tenants / Worship
True believers in Istus are expected to begin each waking day with a meditative prayer, in which they beseech the goddess to direct them to her purpose for them and offer up their free will in sacrifice.
Devotees are also encouraged to visit a place of worship twice per month to hear the latest interpretation of the Goddess’ will and mingle with other members of the faith. A tithe of 20% is often expected and given, since devout Istusians believe that without her divine intervention, the average mortal being would have no future.
Like a ship without a captain, Istusians believe that a universe with an uncaring or absent Istus is unable to right itself. They believe that all that is only exists because of the careful guiding hand of Istus, and that all the evils of the world derive from those things that resist fate, endangering the existence of the Material Plane and preventing mortals from achieving a sort of heaven on earth. They prize order and aesthetics as evidence of a divine purpose for existence, and believe that those who defy Istus’ grand designs will see their threads removed from the Grand Tapestry of being once they die.
Tar Aravon has folded the religion into every day life as part of their theocracy, creating a sort of secular and religious fusion of the faith.
Certain zealot groups, like the Loom of Istus, believe that the worship of other gods and/or the espousing of freedom and free will are insults to Istus. The Loom in Particular is a religious military order that periodically appears to strike at the religious centers of “rival” religions.