Clarityism

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Clarityism
Eye of Clarity Transparent.png
Symbol of Clarity
BeliefHenotheism
Deity(ies)Unus
Angitenti
Elescelto
Region(s)Fortunan Archipelago, areas of large Fortunan populations
FounderGuiliano Bardi
Founded968
OriginNorvo-Aspiriac Mythology
High PriestFrancisco III
Churches~80,000
Followers~40,000,000
DenominationsBardic
Marchellic

Clarityism (Chiarezzismo) is a henotheistic religion originating from the beliefs of Norvo-Aspiriac Mythology. Clarityism is one of Urth's smaller religions, but it plays a major role in the Fortunan Archipelago where it was first founded. Most followers consist of Fortunans with over 40,000,000 followers worldwide, the majority located within Fortuna and the Aspirian Isles. Clarityism was formed based off the works of Guiliano Bardi where Unus, one of the major deities of Urth, created the Aspirian Isles as a haven for his chosen people. In recent years Clarityism has been used by the Fortunan Government to set High Commander Tristano Lyone as a lesser Angitente, also known as specifically the Elescelto, based off of a prophecy by the prophet Leonardo Marchello.

History

Norvo-Aspiriac Mythology

Prophet Guiliano Bardi

Clarityism was first formed off the works of the prophet Guiliano Bardi in the early 9th century who received visions and prophecies from an unknown being. Following his first recorded vision, Bardi left his home in Emili and set off on a journey through mainland Yasteria to better understand who sent him the vision. During his 10 year trip, he experienced other religions while continuing to receive dreams and visions, all of which he recorded. Once his journey came to an end, Bardi came to believe that the one who spoke to him was Unus, one of the main deities from Norvo-Aspiriac Mythology. He came to believe that the people of the Aspirian Isles were Unus' chosen few to care for, such as other parts of the world had their own higher beings to care of them. Upon arriving back to the Fortunan Archipelago, Bardi set to work compiling all of his findings, visions, and dreams into a book to be better understood, titling the book "The Book of Clarity: A Clearer Understanding of Unus' Plan for Us," better known as simply "The Book of Clarity."

Within this book, Bardi first explains that there are multiple deities around the world based around the regions of their followers. He further twists Norvo-Aspiriac Mythology to where there is just one major deity, Unus, that has dominion over the Aspirian Isles instead of multiple deities. Also in the book Bardi shares his visions and prophecies that he received during his travels. In 851, Bardi began working on creating multiple copies of the book and having it distributed throughout the islands, all the while traveling between the islands himself to further teach his beliefs. Many people began following Bardi and spreading the ideas and beliefs of the book across the archipelago, favoring the teachings of Bardi over their previous religions. By the 860s, Bardi gained thousands of followers who found this new religion more clearer and understandable for Aspirian inhabitants. By his death in 864, his ideas had spread to every corner of the archipelago, marking the beginning of Clarityism.

Foundation

With the ideas and beliefs set by Bardi beginning to firmly root itself into the region's culture and backed by King Valence III of Fortuna, religious leaders decided to come together to set a base for this new religion. In 968, religious leaders from around the region came to the Council of Destino where the base of Clarityism was set such as who was head of this religion, which days were to be kept holy, and which chapters should be put in or removed from the Book of Clarity. One of the major debates that took place during the council was on whether there was more than one higher deity, and if so who should they worship. Within Bardi's writings, he accepts that there were other beings at work in other places of the world but that Unus should be the one worshiped as his domain was over the Aspirian Isles. Bardi also described the many gods and goddesses of Norvo-Aspiriac Mythology served more as assistants, Angitenti, to Unus. As Unus was considered at a similar level of the other Norvo-Aspiriac deities, this led to contention during the assembly with a handful of leaders walking out altogether. The council would last six months of tiring debate and discussion, but by June of 968 the base of Clarityism was founded and the first high priest, Ferdinand I, was elected to lead this newly created religion.

Birth of Marchellic Clarityism

Following the Great Civil War in the 1640s, a young noble and noted nationalist by the name Leonardo Marchello started receiving dreams which he interpreted to be visions from Unus himself. Within his writings, Marchello describes that in the future a great leader would rise up and reunite the islands as they were before. Marchello states that Unus allowed for the split of Fortuna as a punishment for the rampant corruption and leniency towards outside beliefs, but a time would come where Unus would reveal a chosen one, or the Elescelto, as a sign of forgiveness. In 1657, Marchello had his writings distributed and personally presented himself to the current high priest at the time, declaring himself a prophet of Unus.

Marchello's writings quickly led to controversy, especially around his self declaration as a prophet, with major critics stating that Marchello was merely delusional due to the war. However, many of those who were also disheartened by the collapse of the Empire accepted Marchello's writings as canon, believing and hoping in the Elescelto's arrival. These followers became known as Marchellic Claritists, who demanded the church to raise Marchello up to the level of Bardi and demanded that his writings to be placed into the Book of Clarity. Fearing that this could lead to further conflict, church leaders denounced Marchello and his teachings while the existing aristocracy also banned the production and distribution of his writings. Following Marchello's death in 1672, it is estimated that less than one tenth of Claritists described themselves as Marchellics. Marchellic Clarityism would remain a minority within the isles until the 1900s where it saw an influx in believers.

Beliefs

What makes Clarityism quite unique is the worship of one deity, Unus, however there is no denial of the existence of other deities, also best known as henotheism. The belief first stemmed from the writings of Bardi who was heavily influenced by his travels through Yasteria. In his writings, Bardi describes that he believed that there was more than one higher deity, each influencing regions of Urth that their followers occupied. The accepted belief of Claritists regarding creation was that the many higher deities of the world were created alongside Urth. In present days, another accepted belief is that the higher deities were created during the Big Bang, some coming together to build and care for Urth while slowly building up a following as sentient species such as humans evolved over time. Another strong belief of Claritists is that the higher deities are more regional based, caring and protecting their assigned regions of Urth since creation. Claritists also believe that the power of higher deities can actually fluctuate depending on the strength of their followers, thus explaining how certain religions are able to spread around the world or end up being wiped out. The latter is a fear of many Claritists who believe that if Clarityism in the Aspirian Isles falters, it would mean the end of the Fortunan people.

In order to then protect their homeland, the worship and strengthening of faith in Unus is extremely important. Before Bardi published his teachings, Unus was simply considered as one of the main deities within Norvo-Aspiriac Mythology. When Bardi began receiving his visions, he came to the conclusion that Unus was awakening him to the truth that Unus was actually the higher deity of the Aspirian Isles, also referred to as the Esserepalto. Within the Book of Clarity, Bardi states that he believes that the reason he was informed of Unus' true form at that exact time was due to the rising power of outside higher deities which he himself noticed during his travels. Because of this, the worship of Unus was urgently required by the people of the Aspirian Isles.

To explain the reason of the other numerous deities from Norvo-Aspiriac Mythology, the accepted belief is that they are beings known as Angitenti. Since Unus was considered the higher deity of the Aspirian Isles, the Angitenti were seen as simply helpers that assisted around certain aspects of nature, life, etc. For example, the Goddess Fortuna was considered the goddess of fortune and luck in Norvo-Aspiriac Mythology. In Clarityism, Fortuna is now considered an Angitente whose focus is still around fortune and luck. Due to the First Fortunan Empire's conquest and ruling of the region, the importance of fortune and luck has become to be extremely important to Fortunan culture. In order to have good fortune, Claritists are required to pray to both Unus and Fortuna in the morning upon waking up and at night before sleeping. The Cult of Fortuna, a sect of Clarityism, takes this a step further by believing that she is actually the higher deity of the Aspirian Isles and disregards any worshiping of Unus. The other Angitenti are still considered important, but the worship of them is not made a requirement as it is with Unus and Fortuna.

Another popular belief that saw massive growth in recent times was the idea of the Elescelto which was first introduced by Leonardo Marchello. The Elescelto is described to be an individual who will be chosen by Unus to reunite the region following the collapse of the First Fortunan Empire due to the Great Civil War. This idea of the Elescelto was quickly accepted by some Claritists in the late 1600s and would continue to grow over the years. At times, certain individuals who attempted to reunite the islands were given this title, but it would not be until the 1990s that the title of Elescelto was officially given and accepted by the populace to Tristano Lyone. Following his takeover of the newly formed Second Fortunan Empire, the belief that he was the Elescelto grew exponentially, and the title was solidified when High Priest Francisco III declared Lyone to be this prophesied being on August 6, 1999.

A large part of Clarityism is environmental protection. Due to their belief that Unus gave their homeland as a gift, it is up to the followers to also play a part in its protection. This also is connected to Claritist belief on what happens after death. Within Claritist teachings, it is taught that when a person dies, their soul and body become one with nature where they were first created from, allowing for Unus to continue to care for them. This plays an important part in how current day Fortuna handles environmental protection such as the protection of native animals, creation of national parks, and a strive towards more renewable energy.

Practices

Worship

The primary purpose of worship is to strengthen one's belief in Unus with the sole purpose to increase Unus' ability to protect their homeland. In order to show one's devotion, Claritists are expected to visit a local site of worship in order to complete their daily prayers. Within the Aspirian Isles, it is recorded to be around 80,000 places of worship that are maintained by the Church of Clarity with another 5,000 unaffiliated sites. Places of worship are built as either a church or a simple shrine. Church buildings are built to house an alter and is small in design, but larger structures exist especially in areas of large population such as the Guiliano Cathedral and the Marchello Cathedral. Churches are also designed to house the priests assigned to it whose purpose is to maintain the church and assist daily worshipers. Shrines make up the majority of the places of worship due to their small size and easy maintenance, especially popular in rural areas. As there is no physical representation of Unus, shrines usually consist of an alter including a sculpture of the Eye of Clarity along with a sculpture of Fortuna. Some shrines also include sculptures of other Angitenti, especially in areas that used to predominantly worship them. Priests are often assigned to specific shrines to maintain and care for, but it is not uncommon for shrines to be cared for by the local community, especially for unaffiliated sites. Home shrines are also commonly seen, especially in urban areas to make daily prayers easier to accomplish. Worship for the most part is done individually, but during special days such as festivals and weddings, Claritists will gather together at their local place of worship.

Prayer

Within Bardi's teachings, he details that prayer is the most effective way to communicate and express one's devotion to Unus and his assistants. Within Clarityism, it is compulsory to pray at least twice a day to Unus. During the First Fortunan Empire's reign of the region, these compulsory prayers also began including praying to Fortuna. There was never a set time for when these prayers should occur during the day in the early years, but would later become a requirement for one prayer to be done in the morning, preferably upon waking up, and one in the evening before sleeping. In order to pray, worshipers will visit a local church or shrine. Prayer can also be done in front of home shrines which has grown in popularity in recent years due to the ease of access.

The main method of prayer first consists of kneeling or sitting in front of an alter. Worshipers will then provide an offering, usually monetary while at public places of worship. Then they will bow their head and clasp their hands together during which they will silently pray. During prayers, worshipers will recite a verse or poem from the Book of Clarity with the purpose of expressing to Unus the worshiper's devotion in order to increase Unus' ability to protect them and the Aspirian Isles. Prayers usually just take a couple minutes to complete, but prayers can last longer if worshipers wish to further display their faith and devotion to Unus and also gain more fortune and luck from Fortuna. Another way to complete the required prayers is to provide a monetary offering to a priest who will pray on the worshiper's behalf.

Festivals

Claritist festivals are celebrated in order to strengthen social connections and worship Unus as a community. Festivals are usually determined around the lunar calendar and seasonal changes. There are a set list of festivals that are celebrated nationally and promoted by the state as national holidays, however there are also some festivals that are only celebrated regionally or in certain communities. During these days, celebrators will visit their local place of worship to pray together as a group. During the festival Blessing of Fortuna, occurring on the 30th of April, celebrators will specifically request for good luck and fortune at this time. The Spring and Harvest Festivals are focused around praying for and celebrating a good harvest. For winter, Claritists will celebrate the Week of Winter where prayers are focused around thanking Unus for protecting them another year and sharing one's extra good fortune and luck with those less fortunate, mostly consisting of praying for the individual but entering into the 20th century it began to also consist of giving gifts. Parades are also popular during these festivals and can be rather rowdy, consisting of music, dancing, and heavy drinking.

Scriptures

The main canonical texts of Clarityism is the "Book of Clarity," a collection of writings and poems by Guiliano Bardi with the sole purpose of clarifying his own visions and dreams. The small volume by Leonardo Marchello titled "The Prophesied One," published in 1657, is also an accepted religious text that was only considered as canonical by the majority of Claritists entering into the 1900s.

Church of Clarity

The Church of Clarity is the established church of Clarityism and the Second Fortunan Empire. The church is headed by Francisco III as High Priest, although Tristano Lyone is the titular head as High Commander. The church traces its history back to the Council of Destino where it was first created during the formation of Clarityism.

Denominations

The two primary divisions of Clarityism is Bardic Clarityism and Marchellic Clarityism with a smaller off branch known as the Cult of Fortuna. There is little differences between the two main denominations, following similar beliefs of henotheism, Unus as the higher deity of the Aspirian Isles, and the importance of prayer. The main differences between these main denominations stems from the placement of certain deities.

Bardic Clarityism

Bardic Clarityism, or simply Bardicism, is one the major denominations, consisting of around 25% of Claritists globally. Bardic Claritists are considered by some theologists to be the most "pure" form of Clarityism as they strictly only accept the teachings of Guiliano Bardi and the original form of the Book of Clarity. In the early 1900s, Bardic Clarityism was the largest denomination, however that would change following the rise of the UNP and Lyone in the 1980s and into the 1990s.

Marchellic Clarityism

Marchellic Clarityism, or simply Marchellicism, is the other major denomination of Clarityism, making up nearly the rest of Claritists with around 75% globally. Marchellic Claritists believe that Leonardo Marchello was a prophet and that his teachings should be accepted along with that of Bardi. They also believe in the idea of the Elescelto which would coincidentally lead to the reuniting of the islands, being one of the main reasons Marchellicism was able to last into present day. Marchellicism was at first extremely unpopular, but it would slowly grow over the years and especially saw huge growth in the late 1900s following the end of the Toscanan-Emilian War and the rise of Lyone.

Unitist Clarityism

Unitist Clarityism, more commonly referred to as Unitism, is a smaller denomination of Clarityism primarily located within the Auroran nation of Baykalia, and mirrors Marchellic Clarityism almost exactly, with one primary difference. Similar to the recent designation of Tristano Lyone as a Lesser Angitente, Unitism also has Baykalian High Chancellor Lady Posol designated as another Lesser Angitente, with dubious reference to certain texts in the modern version of the Book of Clarity.

Cult of Fortuna

The Cult of Fortuna is considered a small sect of Clarityism, although its history dates back past the religion's founder, Guiliano Bardi. The number of followers is unknown, although it is estimated to consist between 1,500 to 3,000 followers. The beliefs of the cult has changed over the years with the present day cult having similar beliefs to that of Clarityism. The main difference revolves around who is considered the higher deity of the Aspirian Isles. Unlike most Claritists who believe the higher deity is Unus, cultists instead believe that it is actually the Goddess Fortuna. To cultists, the act of placing Fortuna in the position of a lesser being and putting another above her is blasphemy. This has been the main cause of conflict between Claritists and cultists with the church in 1014 declaring the Cult of Fortuna as heathens. With the birth of Marchellic Clarityism in the 1600s to 1700s, cultists have stated that the idea of the Elescelto prophesied to be sent by Unus as sacrilege against Fortuna. Entering into present day, the cult has shown their hatred towards Lyone who many Claritists believe to be the Elescelto. This has led to a few assassination attempts against Lyone by cultists, leading to extensive offensives by the regime in attempts to wipe out the cult.