|Holy Scripture||None, mostly conducted through oral traditions and un-canonized scripture|
|Deities||The Heroic Ancestors|
|Symbols||The Enneagram or Nine Pointed Star|
|Structure and Politics|
|Leadership||The Chosen Speakers|
|Other Names||The Old Faith, Ancient Religion, Elder Way|
|Home Regions||The Entire Avalon Cluster|
|Place of Worship||Sacred Shrines, God Sanctuaries, Groves|
|Followers||The Elder Folk, Oak Keepers|
|Major Sects||The Templar, The Shaman|
"The Gods watch over you and give you peace in your days."
They are called the Old Faith, the Ancient Religion and the Elder Way just as a few among many. Their epic poems and gods are said to be thousands upon thousands of years old and are still worshiped in a similar manner to that of the Old Home. Theirs is a faith born in ritual, and rites that are meant to appease without the need for doctrinal covenants and prerequisites for submission. The Thousandfold is by definition a pagan animist poltheistic faith based upon orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy. This means that the core tenets of the faith are about completing the rites correctly and offering the correct appeasements to the old gods.
Many across the Triad and beyond practice the Thousandfold in some form or another. Either under the guise of a local pagan temple, or in large organized Shamanic followings. Many have concerted from and to the old faith in the years since the rise of Trantheism, the Oberonish Faiths, the Jaded Path and even Itzkachana. However, no matter how hard they try the foreign missionaries will never quench the threefold star of the Elder Way.
Ancient are the stories that build the legends of the Thousandfold, and innumerable are its origins. The true story of where the basics of the faith come stem back to the multi-ethnic and religious past once heralded in the old home. After the banishment through the World's Gate many Faeru and their later descendant races sought answers for why their people were sent away from a world of magic. In answer many turned to new faiths and cults while others remained with the belief of their ancients clans or tribes. These old belief systems eventually under encroachment from first the Creed and then later proselytizing faiths began to organize into a loose confederation of associated beliefs. The first do do so were the leading Shamans or "Chosen Speakers" of the Rook worlds Erlik and Duzahk. Eventually the Outer and Inner Pale states joined and eventually the loose organization known as the "Thousandfold" was born.
This slow spreading movement although more recently organized can still trace its sense of camaraderie to earlier times. Under the rule of the Immortal Dynasties of the Founder's Era, worship of the Heroic Ancestors or "Old Gods" flourished under the Osiric and Hermetic Kings. When the Immortal Dynasties collapsed and the spread of the Creedan faith become more prominent among the growing powers of the Expansion Era a mass exodus of Elder Folk occurred resulting in a massive spread of the Thousandfold out into the stars. Ever since then whenever a new colony was founded the Old Faith was there waiting to greet its the younger faiths
The Elder Way has faced persecution and violence at its younger "cousins" or faiths that have sprung up centuries after it has already held the Triad. Most of these faiths (especially the Oberonish religions) favor outright conversion to their own over maintaining that of the Thousandfold. The Jaded Path and the Itzkachana have for years maintained a strangely familiar relationship with the so called "pagans". Even with their diminished following the Thousandfold still find itself more diverse and evolving than its younger cousins.
Beliefs and Practices
There is no canonized system of tenets for the Thousandfold, nor is there a holy scripture. The ideals of Orthopraxy are held in strong focus upon pleasing the Heroic Ancestors, and the spirits that permeate the reality of the world. To the Elder Folk or "Oak Keepers" the world is ordered based upon the actions the gods direct from behind the scenes. Good fortune comes when the gods or the Ancestors favor you; visa versa bad action or luck comes when you have earned the disfavor of the gods. This is a somewhat black and white concept as many of the Heroic Ancestors themselves are fickle emotional creatures which act more like real people than stern judges of the deeds of simple mortals.
Communing with the Otherworld
The Ways of the Oak Keepers are mystical and ritualistic in nature. One of the primary beliefs held by the Orthopraxic religion is that there is another world often referred to simply as "The Stars". This reference in of itself is perhaps where the original name of the Triad came from "The Land in the Stars" or "Taer-shá-Séreana" in Elder Tongue. The connection to the Stars held by the Elder Folk is called the Star-Pact and is a central aspect of their belief system. Although they do not hold that giving faith to the "Stars" will net them anything, Elder Folk do find that giving rituals in the name of the Stars appeases the gods so that good fortune may smile upon them.
Another word for the collective existential connection held by the followers and their gods is to "Commune". In the cosmology of the Thousandfold the gods or the "Heroic Ancestors" dwell within the Otherworld or Altear (this is often simply shortened back to "the Stars" informally). When someone wishes to gain fortune they commune with the Otherworld via specific rituals often called "The Old Ways". Communing is not unlike prayer except that its not simply about giving wishes, or thoughts to a higher power. When a member of the Elder Folk communes they are conducting an ancient formulaic act that in turn is expected to create a good result in their favor. This symbiotic relationship between the mortal and the immortal dates back to the Immortal Dynasties themselves who use to retain long courtly hours and produce favors for those that gave them tribute.
The Old Ways
- Main article: The Old Ways
One of the strangest aspects of the Old Faith is the extensive series of rituals conducted by members of the Shamanic membership. These rites and rituals are named the "Old Ways" in reference to the age of their existence. Many rituals in the Thousandfold are based upon a strict code of conduct which dictates what to do and when. This is only made worse in a semi-hypocritical manner of how the Old Faith sees other religions (it names them codifiers when they try to convert its faithful). Belief in the conduct of ritual to the Elder Folk is important, and perhaps the only doctrine that they actually hold.
Rituals often range from dances to elemental performances. Some even include fairly violent acts such as facial piercing depending upon the localized version of the faith being practiced. Most if not all are meant to inspire and induce a trance state in the practioners or in some way appease the wishes of a given god or spirit being invoked.
The Sacred Places
- Main article: The Sacred Places
Holy places in the Thousandfold religion are tied directly to the natural world. While some groups within the Old Faith do build Temple complexes, these "Sacred Shrines" are always done so in concert with the local landscape. A major unspoken tenet of the Thousandfold is the preservation of the natural world and the connection between it and the gods. All forms of "sacred places" are found in areas of near pristine nature and are often maintained to an almost doll-like level of condition. The first of these are the bluntly named "Sacred Shrines" which are the primary places of worship for local communities. These are often buildings found in forests, in hills or even in the middle of rivers. Placed in such a manner that the small houses and compounds work with in tandem with the landscape.
In more urban places there are "God Sanctuaries" or recreated wilderness landscapes that are then encircled by high walls and even glass shields to defend their holy ground. God Sanctuaries are often recreations of forest woodlands, hidden streams, small lakes, and even mountains or hills on a smaller scale. In smaller more rural communities however the local shaman may select a "grove" (applied to even places that do not fit that description normally) as a gathering place for the local Elder Folk community.
- Main article: Thousandfold Festivals and Ceremonies
Much like the Old ways, Festivals are about appeasing the gods in a ritual form to renew the bond held between the Elder Folk and their ancestral deities. This is also used as a mean to settle spirits and dispel any ill-luck that might be plaguing anyone at a given point. Most Festivals thus are seen as expanded rituals organized with multiple Shaman and Priests in attendance. Most festivals occur along seasonal and celestial lines. The most important often being the celebrations of the new year and the yearly harvest in some areas. Often tehse festivals carry similar names, but are often different because of the varying weather and time flux on the different locations for each population.
The Heroic Ancestors
- Main article: The Heroic Ancestors
The central deities of the Thousandfold are known by many names as a collective whole. The Stars being one of the most common descriptions of the divine among worshipers and others include "The Three within Three" or the "Ancestors" even the "Spirits" is often incited to describe the multitude of spiritual consciousnesses that possess every aspect of the world. This means in many ways the Thousandfold can be defined as a animist religion rather than the dominant polytheistic trend common among most of the great religions of the Triad.
There does exist a celestial order to the "Gods" as they are often called and that includes the ordering of "Spirits" which inhabit everything and then the Ancestral Clans, or the greater Pantheons of localized Deities. Ancestral Clans are often tied to a given region or ethnic population whereas a Soul Spirit is representative of an ideal, a place, an object, or a passed individual. Some spirits are "ill" or "dangerous" and desire to cause problems for the living, others like the gods are good and bring good fortune to those they favor.
The organization of the Thousandfold is inherently built on the notion of unorganized association which means that there is no central authority or politicizing figure. Any large scale structure and hierarchy is usually the result of collaboration between powerful Shaman of a given Sacred Shrine or God's Sanctuaries. The only recognized leaderships are the Chosen Speakers, the higher Shaman who are chosen by a conclave of Shaman in a given region to represent the Ancestral Clan of Gods for a given people. In general local Shaman train their apprentices in heirs often in families or as individuals who are shown to have a gift for the rituals and portents required to conduct the rites. Most are trained on an individual basis while others are trained by Shaman families to conduct the rites.
Any grand movements as a religion are always done as a concentrated effort by multiple Chosen Speakers at a given. These do not happen often as there is historical bias and sometimes even feud between the various Ancestral Clans. These are often solved resolved carefully by courts of Shamanistic leadership. Outside of the lay people there exist three priestly orders. The first being the Shaman the ordinary communers who act as conduits between the spiritual and the material. Next are the Templar the more officiated sanctified shaman who oversee the larger Scared Shrines and the God Sanctuaries. Templars are often more tied to specified families and traditions standing for generations.
Finally there are the Wise Ones are the priests who connect with the spirits of Cyberspace and are seen as communers apart than others. Most Shaman in general are actively tied to specific sacred place or community. Others travel and are only identifiable by their ritualistic tattoos depicting emblems of their gods or the nine-pointed start of the Thousandfold.
The religious divisions and orders of the ThousandFold are tied to the three differentiated orders of priestly Shaman. The first being the average Shaman charged with acting as a conduit for the gods and a voice for their chosen Ancestral Clan. Then there are the Templar, the Clannish defenders of the Sacred Places and keepers of the more abstract rituals of the entire faith. Finally there are the Wise Ones, the communers of the Spirits of the cyberworld and who have begun assembling the grander rituals of the faith in the SysNet.
Shaman are the ordinary practitioners of the "Three within Three" and are thus charged with understanding the complex world of the gods. Shaman are generally chosen to serve a specific spirit, or an Ancestral Clan as a means of maintaining the balance between the world of the Spiritual and the Mortal. This balance to Shaman is what brings good fortune to all, and keeps their gods happy.
Where as the Shaman act as the keepers of the balance between the mortal realms and that of the Spirits their cousins the Templar are charged to defend the faith and its holy places. Named as the guardians of the Temple grounds, they are the faithful charged with keeping the pristine Sacred Shrines and God Sanctuaries in consistent crisp condition. Templar can be easily recognized by the chain necklace they wear formed from metal forms of nine-pointed stars.
When technology swept to the levels of trans-bodily ascendance into the SysNet which revealed a new breed of Spirit which at first confused the followers of the "Three within Three". However, as new Shaman arose to take on the problems the Wise One order was founded as a means of giving a voice to the newest members of the Ancestral Clans. For this they have expanded the role of the faithful and their understanding of the Soul Spirits around them.