Lunarism

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Lunarism
Лунаризм
Lunarism Symbol.png
A full moon is the primary symbol of Yelena.
BeliefMonotheism
DeityYelena, the Golden Wolf
Region(s)Volkia, Tennabroch, parts of South Hills, and the Volkian diaspora
Founded3rd Century CE
OriginVolkian paganism
High ElderAleksandr VI
Followers~142 million worldwide

Lunarism, also known as the Lunarist Church, is a monotheistic religion that has its origins in Volkian paganism. Its followers believe that Yelena is the creator and protector of the lupine species. It is the largest of the lupine religions, with roughly 142 million followers, known as "Lunarists." Over half of Lunarists live in Volkia, which is also considered to be the holy land of Lunarism. Lunarism teaches that Yelena is all knowing, merciful, and unique and guides lupines through prophets, scriptures, and signs. The primary scripture are the Lunar Book, which contain both the word of Yelena and teachings from Miroslav, the first messenger of Yelena.

History

Volkian paganism

Volkian paganism refers to the religious beliefs, myths, and ritual practices of the ancient lupines that inhabited what is now modern day Volkia. Volkian pagans believed that the universe was created by Eva and Avraam, Queen and King of the Gods. They then created the planets and the Urth, at which point they sent their children to develop the world.

Their children went on to create various spirits, which were worshipped as lower beings yet were still considered connected to the gods. These spirits included those of waters, forests, fields, households, illnesses, luck, and ancestors. For example, Chelovdy is an important water spirit, believed to distribute fish to fishermen. He was created by Arkadi, who was regarded as god of the oceans. Both the spirits and the gods were worshipped by Volkian pagans.

Volkian pagans also worshipped the star-gods, which were the Moon (Volkian: Луна, Luna) and the Sun (Volkian: Cолнце, Solntse). The former was considered to be Yelena while the latter was her brother, Yegor. They would work in tandem to help the ancient lupines flourish. Yelena was regarded as the dispenser of abundance and health, and highly regarded by Volkian pagans.

At some point a shift occurred that led to Yelena being promoted to the primary god for many communities in ancient Volkia, eventually overtaking even her parents in rank of importance to Volkian pagans.

Miroslav

Miroslav (c. 205 - 247) was a hunter turned preacher and religious leader. He is widely considered to be the catalyst for Lunarism's creation and expansion, preaching the word of Yelena across central Volkia. In 239, Miroslav was said to have been attacked by a large bull elk while in the woods near his village as the moon rose, and was saved by a "bright, golden She-wolf" who then spoke to him. Miroslav preached that she was the Mother, the moon-god of the Volkian pagans, and that she was called Yelena. Miroslav would go on to describe how Yelena said she would protect the lupines in their greatest hour of need and those lupines that worshipped her would be rewarded with spending the afterlife in paradise. Yelena then disappeared into the forest. Miroslav returned to his village, injured but alive, and pledged to become the speaker for Yelena.

Miroslav began proselytizing the next year in 240, traveling first through the lands of his people, the Volkiplemeni, before moving on to the lands of the Yekarians. Both the Volkiplemeni and Yekarians seemed to welcome the change in Yelena's role in Volkian paganism from a minor star-god to the primary god. Miroslav continued his work, preaching the word of Yelena and helped lay the foundation of the basic Lunarist beliefs still in place today. Sometime in late 247, Miroslav was preaching in an Orlikian village when he was attacked by a group of men who took offense to Miroslav's teachings. He was beaten and taken into the forest outside the village, where he was hanged from a tree. Some writings described the appearance of two bright lights that took the shape of two wolves after Miroslav was killed, and exacted vengeance on Miroslav's attackers.

Miroslav claimed to have been visited by Yelena several more times throughout his life in order to receive her words which would go on to make up a large part of the Lunar Book.

Foundation

Miroslav had several close followers that would continue his work after his death in 247. Aleksandr, Aloysha, Dima, Gregori, and Yeva followed Miroslav from 245 until his death, later becoming known as the Five Followers (Volkian: Пять последователей, Pyat' posledovateley). Aleksandr, Dima, and Yeva were Volkiplemeni while Aloysha and Gregori were Yekarians who spread the word of Yelena in their respective lands, meeting every few months in a central location to discuss what they were teaching. Word of Miroslav's death reached the Five Followers in early 248, and they swore to continue spreading the word of Yelena in his honor. They adopted the name Lunarists, showing their devotion to the moon-god Yelena. A Volkiplemeni ruler, Zhenya the Great, commissioned the first Lunarist church in 250 in a village in the area of what is now Volkgoroda. Zhenya would later lead an army to the village where Miroslav was killed and razed it, killing the male inhabitants and recovering Miroslav's body and interred his remains in the church.

The church would prove fruitful to the Five Followers and the number of Lunarists continued to grow. Lunarism's foothold in central Volkia helped it spread throughout western Itur due to migrations to the coast, leading to an explosion in the number of followers. As they aged and Lunarism's numbers grew, the Five Followers became a dominant force in the fledgling religion. In 277, they came together and officially formed the Elder Council (Совет старейшин, Sovet stareyshin) and created the position of High Elder (Высокий Старший, Vysokiy Starshiy), which they then selected Yeva to be the first High Elder.

Lunarism would continue to grow in western Itur and was officially adopted as the state religion by the Grand Duchy of Volkia when it was formed in 365. Lunarist priests moved into newly conquered territories as the Grand Duchy expanded, eventually becoming the state religion of both the Grand Principality and later the Kingdom of Volkia. Lunarism replaced Volkian paganism as the primary religion of the Volkians and remains the primary religion of lupines.

Organization

Lunarism is organized in a hierarchical structure. The lowest level of organization, which is typically the head of an individual Lunarist church, the priest (священник, svyashchennik), and its attendees constitute a parish (приход, prihod). The parishes of a geographical region then make up an eparchy who are led by a bishop (епископ, yepiskop). Bishops and priests are assisted by deacons (Диаконы, Diakony) in a variety of ministerial and administrative roles. There are 572 Lunarist eparchies worldwide (December 2019). Smaller eparchies may be ruled by only one bishop, while larger eparchies may be ruled by an archbishop (архиепископ, arkhiyepiskop) or have several bishops assigned to it.

The highest level of local authority within Lunarism are the Lunar Councils (Лунный совет, Lunnyy sovet), which comprise of the bishop(s) of an eparchy as well as representatives from the local clergy and laypersons. The Council of Bishops (Собор епископов, Sobor yepiskopov) comprise of the bishops of the eparchies who meet in Volkgoroda and act as the highest authority in the hierarchical control of the Lunarist Church. The Council of Bishops in turn elect the Elder Council (Совет старейшин, Sovet stareyshin), who serves as the supreme administrative governing body of the Lunarist Church in between meetings of the Council of Bishops. Members of the Elder Council also have permanent seats on the Council of Bishops, but are not allowed to vote in Elder Council elections. The Elder Council serves for life and is chaired by the High Elder, who is also elected by the Council of Bishops.

The High Elder is the head of the Lunarist Church worldwide and enjoys extensive administrative powers. The High Elder holds canonical jurisdiction over the eparchies of Lunarism, though they do not have single-handed authority over matters pertaining to faith or issues concerning the entirety of the Lunarist Church.

Parishes and eparchies

Individual regions or major cities are served by eparchies, which are overseen by a bishop. Larger eparchies are overseen by several bishops. As of 2020, there are 572 Lunarist eparchies worldwide; with over half lying within Volkia. The bishops of a particular country are members of a national or regional episcopal conference.

Eparchies are then divided into parishes, each with one or more priests, deacons, or lay ministers. The parishes are responsible for the day to day celebration of Lunarist beliefs and pastoral care of the laity. As of 2020 there are 128,539 parishes worldwide.

Lunar Councils

Lunar Councils are the highest level of authority for an eparchy. They are composed of the bishop(s) of an eparchy as well as representatives from the local clergy and laypersons. Each parish has the right to send a representative to the eparchy's Lunar Council. Lunar Councils are responsible for discussion and resolution of issues and affairs, doctrine, religious and moral life, device management, and discipline within an eparchy.

Council of Bishops

The Council of Bishops is the highest authority in the hierarchy of the Lunarist Church. It is comprised of the bishops of all the eparchies in Lunarism and meets in Volkgoroda to deal with matters of faith, morality, rite, and canonical and cultural life within Lunarism as a whole. The Council of Bishops also elects the Elder Council and the High Elder, who is the head of the Lunarist faith. Parishes may send delegates to Council of Bishops meetings but do not have voting power.

The Elder Council have permanent seats on the Council of Bishops and are permitted to vote on matters the Council of Bishops handle, however they are forbidden from voting in Elder Council elections. The High Elder chairs meetings of the Council of Bishops.

Elder Council

The Elder Council was established in 277 and consists of five Elders (Старшая, Starshaya) and Yeva was elected to be the first High Elder. The Elder Council is responsible for governing the Lunarist Church when the Council of Bishops is out of session. The Elder Council is chaired by the High Elder, who is the head of the worldwide Lunarist Church. When the Council of Bishops is in session, the Elder Council has permanent seats and may participate in votes and debate in regards to matters of faith, morality, rite, and canonical and cultural life. The High Elder chairs Council of Bishop sessions. Elders remain on the Council until their death, resignation, or removal by the Council of Bishops.

When a member of the Elder Council dies, resigns, or is removed from their position, the Council of Bishops convenes to elect a new Elder. The High Elder and their Elder counterparts are forbidden from voting in elections to the Elder Council. A sitting Elder may be elected to the High Elder position, at which point the candidate with the second-most votes becomes an Elder.

The current makeup of the Elder Council is as follows:

  • High Elder Aleksandr VI - Metropolitan of Volkgoroda
  • Elder Sofiya - Metropolitan of Kursavka
  • Elder Evgeniy - Metropolitan of Georgiyevsk
  • Elder Galina - Metropolitan of Zarinsk
  • Elder Dima - Metropolitan of Likhoslavl

High Elder

The High Elder is the worldwide head of the Lunarist Church. When elected, the High Elder also becomes archbishop for the Metropolitan of Volkgoroda, where they have direct canonical jurisdiction over the Eparchy of Volkgoroda. The High Elder also extensive administrative powers in terms of control over the Church, but cannot single-handedly decide matters of faith or issues concerning the entirety of the Lunarist Church. When the Council of Bishops is not in session, the High Elder works with the Elder Council in order to govern the Church.

The High Elder is elected by secret ballot by the Council of Bishops. A list of candidates is drawn up by the Council of Bishops and then voted on. A candidate for High Elder must be no younger than 45 and must have "extensive theological education, knowledge of eparchial administration, and be of good moral character."

Aleksandr VI was elected High Elder by the Council of Bishops on July 9, 1999 with 468 votes of 572 and was enthroned July 12, 1999.

Membership

Lunarism is the largest of the lupine religions with a membership totaling approximately 142 million followers worldwide. Volkia has the highest number of followers with approximately 70 million in 2020.

Lunarist ministers include ordained clergy, lay ministers, and missionaries. At the end of 2018, there were 410,839 ordained clergy including 612 bishops, 224,641 priests, and 185,586 deacons. Non-ordained ministers include 95,715 lay missionaries and 69,026 lay ministers.

Men and women are viewed equally under Lunarism canonical law and are allowed to hold any position within the Church, regardless of gender.

Beliefs

Creeds

Yelena

Miroslav

Angels

Eva and Avraam - meet those who die and deliver Yelena's judgment

Salvation

Death and the afterlife

Lunarists view death as the end of worldly life and the beginning of afterlife. Lunarists believe in "good" and "bad" deaths. A person dies a "good death" at old age surrounded by loved ones, departing when Yelena says they should. Persons who die a "good death" will generally have no problems entering into the afterlife, as Yelena was expecting them. Thus Yelena was able to send Angels Eva and Avraam to fetch their spirits in order to receive Yelena's divine judgment. A "bad death" occurs when a person died too soon, before the time that Yelena assigned to them. These bad deaths could have been caused by the person being murdered, dying by suicide, illness, or in war. Persons who die a "bad death" have a higher chance of becoming a restless spirit as Yelena was not ready for them to enter the afterlife and thus Eva and Avraam are unable to locate their spirits.

Death is accepted as a natural part of the world, and is something that everyone must go through to join Yelena in the afterlife. Lunarists are expected to perform works to benefit their communities in order to be welcomed into the Eternal Forest, which is Lunarism's paradise. Helping the poor, sick, and elderly in some way are common works performed by Lunarists to ensure their entry into the Eternal Forest. Failure to perform good works may lead to damnation to the Barren Land, Lunarism's hell.

Divine judgment

Eternal Forest

The Eternal Forest (Вечный лес) is paradise. It is described in the Lunar Book as a lush, prosperous realm inhabited by Yelena, Miroslav, Her Angels, and those deemed worthy to enter the Forest by the Angels Eva and Avraam. It is the holiest place in all of Lunarism, and can only be reached with the blessing of Yelena after she passes judgment upon a person's spirit. Those who enter the Eternal Forest are rewarded with peace, prosperity, luxury, and fulfillment. All needs are met in the Eternal Forest, and those who reside there may visit relatives that had passed on prior.

According to scripture, the Eternal Forest does not exist on Urth. Rather, those who die pass on to the spiritual plane to join Yelena.

The Barren Land

The Barren Land (Бесплодная земля) is the underworld. Described in the Lunar Book as hot, dry, and devoid of life, the Barren Land is where those who are deemed unworthy by Yelena are damned for eternity.

Practices

An example of a Lunarist church, located in Sharlyk.

Lunarism's heavy focus on community has shaped its practices for thousands of years.

Communal worship

Worship services will typically follow a pattern or form known as the Lunarist liturgy. Lunarists will typically assemble on Friday evenings at their local church, however liturgical practices often occur outside of this setting. The church's priest will begin the service by reading from the Lunar Book and will give instruction from these readings; the priest will also lead the congregation in prayer throughout the sermon. There is a wide variety of congregational prayers available to Lunarist priests and take a variety of forms, including sung, recited, responsive, or silent. Hymns or worship songs may also be sung during the sermon, usually depending on the geographic location of the Lunarist church. Churches in the north typically include more songs than churches in the south. Services can also be varied for special events like festival days. A service will come to an end with a prayer to honor Yelena.

Full moon services

Once a month, Lunarist churches hold special services to celebrate on the night of the monthly full moon. As the symbol of the Goddess Yelena, the full moon represents the time when Yelena is closest to the lupines and most watchful. In the past, Lunarist churches would require attendance from the congregation and spend the evening of the full moon singing and praying to Yelena, usually ending the evening with a simple meal. Today the attendance requirement is no longer required by church doctrine, and full moon services will typically consist of a shortened sermon and a potluck-style dinner organized by the church. The service provides an opportunity for the community to come and spend time together.

Festival services

Additionally, Lunarist churches will hold special services on festival days, which are the traditional Volkian Four Festivals holidays. Church doctrine states that festival services should be held in the evening the day before and the day of the festival. Some churches do not strictly follow this, instead choosing to hold services in the morning to give parishioners more time in the evening for celebrations with friends, family, and the community. The Council of Bishops has refused to denounce the practice, even with pushback by fundamentalists and hardliners from within the church.

Rites

Prayer

Symbols

Pilgrimage

Funerals

Scripture

Flag of Volkia.png Volkian Federative Republic Flag of Volkia.png
Main article: Volkia
Important Topics: CultureLupineVolkian languageLunarismVolkian koronaDefense Forces
Government: Federal GovernmentPresidentCabinetNational AssemblyFederal Supreme CourtPolitical Parties
History: Grand Principality of VolkiaDuchy of VolkiaKingdom of VolkiaVolkian Civil WarNorthern RevoltVolkian Revolution
Important Figures (Past and Present): Yuliya SurkovaAleksey PushkarevStefan GurkovskyIvan OgarkovVasily TolmachyovYulian Lebedev