The dwarves do not have an official religion. They do not believe in gods. Instead, their philosophy promotes excellence, and an almost intimate tie to the rock -- the Stone -- that houses them. They speak of it as if it is alive. They respect, fear, cherish, and give thanks to her for protecting them and providing them with her bounty. Dwarves believe that when they die, they return to the stone and become Ancestors. Criminals, disgraced, surfacers, and their descendants -- the "unworthy" -- are cast out, so that their failings may not weaken the Stone.
Worship and spiritual guidance are reserved for the Ancestors, and above the Ancestors and all others are the dwarves that have been raised to Paragon status for great achievements, whether in combat or something else entirely. Paragons are examples for the dwarves, to be followed and to be revered. In death, it is said the Paragons become one with the densest stone at the base of all mountains -- a foundation upon which all dwarven society rests. These Ancestors communicate their wishes to the living via brutal trials-by-combat called Provings. The Ancestors' collective wisdom is maintained by the Shaperate, which stores its records in lyrium.
- Aeducan: the Paragon that led the defenses of Orzammar against the darkspawn when they first poured into the Deep Roads and almost completely destroyed the dwarves. It is said that his election to Paragon had but one dissenting vote; the one who cast that vote was summarily beaten to death by his fellow deshyrs, allowing the election to pass unanimously.
- Astyth the Grey: the first female Paragon of the Warrior Caste. She founded the Silent Sisters, and members of that order cut out their tongue in emulation of her.
- Bemot: became a Paragon and king in one move, having been born a commoner.
- Branka: the only paragon to have been elected in generations. Discovered a smokeless coal. Deceased after taking her whole house sans her husband Oghren into the Deep Roads in search of the Anvil of the Void.
- Caridin: created the Golems, originally from the Smith Caste.
- Gherlon the Blood-Risen: born casteless, and ventured to the surface, only to come back and win the throne of Orzammar.
- Garal: the Paragon who moved the capitol from Kal-Sharok to Orzammar.
- Hirol: was renowned for the improvements he made to golem power and resilience.
- Varen: discovered Nugs are edible.
- Volney: deeds are unknown, but became a Paragon by the narrowest margin in dwarven history -- a single vote.
- Lynchcar: deeds are not known, but is mentioned in a book of poetry
- Seuss: a Paragon named for his rhyming skills.
- Eryan: wrote the book "Songs that only Nugs can hear" in 5:84 Exalted
- Ortan: created the Ortanic symphony
- Unnamed Child Paragon: deeds and identity are unknown; the memorial found in Caridin's cross has been defiled by darkspawn.
The Chantry of AndrasteEdit
The most prominent religion in Thedas, Andrastian Chantry is based on the Chant of Light, a series of teachings written by the prophet Andraste, bride of the Maker. It was founded by Kordillius Drakon, the first Emperor of Orlais. Three years later the first Divine, Justinia I, was declared. During the Towers Age, there was a Schism between the Chantry in Tevinter and that of the other nations; see the Imperial Chantry for more information.To the Chantry, followers of all other religions -- especially non-humans, who they believe have turned from the Maker's grace more than humanity has -- is that they need saving. The Chantry's goal is to spread the Chant of Light to the four corners of the world, interpretted as such from the Chant of Light. Once all peoples have accepted the Chant and practice its teachings, supposedly the Maker will return to the world and return it to its previous Edenic state.
Followers of the Chantry are Andrastians, and "Chantric" is used to refer to something or someone having to do with Chantry religion. The Chantry calendar is used everywhere in Thedas, save for the Tevinter Imperium. Funeral rites in the Chantry involve cremation, so that demons cannot possess them, and because Andraste was burned at the stake. Chantries are present in nearly every village, town, and city, and in some large organisations such as Circles and Fort Drakon. Some -- including the Chantry in Kirkwall -- maintain a Chanter's Board, a job board for mercenaries and others willing to do good deeds or make money. When not capitalised, the word "chantry" refers to a place of worship, be it a Chantry or not.
- Divine: is the head of the Chantry. She resides in the Grand Cathedral in Val Royeaux. She is addressed as "Most Holy" or "Your Perfection." Beatrix III is the current Divine.
- Grand Cleric: the next rank beneath Divine. Each presides over her region, and represents many Chantries. They convene in Val Royeaux at the College of Clerics. They are addressed as "Your Grace." Elthina is the Grand Cleric of Kirkwall.
- Mother: These are the priests responsible for administering to the spiritual well-being of their flock. If in charge of a Chantry, "Revered" is appended to her title. A Mother or Revered Mother is referred to as "Your Reverence."
- Brothers & Sisters: They form the rank and file of the priesthood, and fit into three groups
- Affirmed: Lay-brethren of the Chantry, regular folks who serve the Chantry for their own reasons.
- Initiates: People serving the Chantry who have taken vows. They are in training, whether academic or martial. All recieve an academic education, but only those who seek to become Templars learn how to fight (see Templar Order.
- Clerics: academics of the Chantry, devoting themselves to the pursuit of knowledge. They preside over books and relics. Older clerics are given the title "elder" and others are known by their title -- Sister or Brother.
The Elven PantheonEdit
This is a WIP.
Referred to as the All-Father, Elgar'nan represents fatherhood and vengeance, and -- along with his female counterpart, Mythal -- leads the gods. Born of the sun and the Earth, he was the first of the gods. The sun grew jealous of the favor Elgar'nan showed for the things of the Earth, and burned them to ashes. In retaliation, he wrestled and threw the sun down from the sky, but his wife, Mythal, convinced him to free the sun, on the condition that it would be gentle and return to the Earth each night. Dalish elves will invoke Elgar'nan's name when they need to destroy or kill something.
Referred to as the Protector, Mythal represents motherhood and justice, and -- along with her male counterpart, Elgar'nan -- leads the pantheon. When Elgar'nan threw the sun from the sky, the world was covered in shadows, all that remained in the sky the remnants of that great battle: the stars. Mythal convinced Elgar'nan that the life on Earth could not thrive like this; no life could grow without the sunlight. Convinced, Elgar'nan went to the sun, and told him that he would release him if he promised to be gentle and return to the Earth each night. The sun, feeling remorse for his misdeeds, agreed. While the sun slept that first night, Mythal gathered the glowing Earth around his bed, fashioning the moon. Dalish elves will invoke Mythal's name when they require protection.
Referred to as the Guide, Falon'Din represents death and fortune. He guided the dead to the Beyond (the Fade) before Fen'harel sealed the gods off. He and his twin brother, Dirthamen, are the eldest children of Elgar'nan and Mythal. The brothers were inseperable, and both walked the Earth, admiring its many wonders. One day, however, they came across an old and sickly deer. Taking pity on the deer, Falon'Din gathered her up, and carried her to rest beyond the Veil. When his brother Dirthamen tried to follow, but could not find him, and was lost.
Referred to as the Keeper of Secrets, Dithamen represents them. As he attempted to follow his brother, he found himself lost in the shifting lands of the Beyond. He encountered two Ravens known as Fear and Deceit, who attempted to trick him, but failed, and he subdued them so they were now bound to his service, making them carry him to his brother. He found his brother, and remained with Falon'din, who vowed that he would carry all dead to their place in the Beyond.
An elven legend speaks of how Dirthamen gave each creature a secret to keep. The hares shouted their secret to the treetops, the birds sold theirs for gold, and the foxes traded their secret for wings. Only the bears kept their secret, and so the bear is considered sacred to Dirthamen.
Referred to as the Goddess of the Hunt. She is the creator of the Vir Tanahdahl (the Way of the Three Trees) and the sister of Sylaise. The hawk and the hare in particular are beloved of Andruil.
Referred to as the Hearthkeeper. She is the sister of Andruil. She gave the elves fire and taught them how to weave and use herbs and magic for healing purposes. She taught them how to ease the passage of infance into this world, and spin plant fibers into thread and rope. In praise of Sylaise, the Dalish sprinkle their aravels with fragrant tree-moss and pray for her protection.
Referred to as the God of the Craft, all crafts are dedicated to June. After Sylaise brought fire to the People, June taught them how to fashion bows, arrows, and knives so that they could hunt, how to cook the flesh of what they hunted, and how to clothe themselves.
Referred to as the Mother of the Halla, Ghilan'nain represents Guidance and Navigation. She was once one of the People, a mortal woman in the days before Arlathan, and the chosen of Andruil the Huntress. One day while hunting in the forest, she found a hunter she did not known, a dead hawk at his feet. She was filled with rage, and demanded the hunter make an offering to Andruil, but he refused, and thus she called upon the Goddess to curse him; she made it so that he could not hunt, could not kill. He was mocked for his inability, and swore he would find Ghilan'nain and make her pay.
He found her, and blinded her, then bound her. But he found that he could not kill her, so he left her for dead. She prayed to the gods for help, and Andruil sent her hairs to find her. They chewed through the ropes, but she was still wounded and blind, so Andruil turned her into the first halla. She found her way back to her sisters, and led them to the hunter, who was brought to justice. To this day, the halla pull the aravels of the Dalish, and are revered as companions of the People.
Fen'Harel is referred to as the Dread Wolf, the Lord of Tricksters, and Bringer of Nightmares. He did not care for the People. As the gods worked to benefit them, it is said that he kept to himself, plotting the betrayal of all of the gods. It is said that before the fall of Arlathan, the gods were fighting an endless war with others of their kind (known now as the Forgotten Ones). Fen'Harel could walk among both without fear. He told the gods that they must keep to the heavens while he arranged a truce, and to the Forgotten Ones, he said he would arrange for a defeat of the gods, if they would return to the abyss for a time. Both trusted him, and he sealed all away so that they could never again walk among the People.
A statue of him is present in every Dalish camp, far from the camp and facing away from it as a reminder that the Dalish may always be wary.
The Forgotten OnesEdit
There are references in elven mythology to another race of gods. These are gods of evil, with which the Creators fought an endless war. Now known as the Forgotten Ones, even the hahrens know little to nothing about them. According to legend they -- along with the rest of the elven pantheon -- were trapped away from the world at around the time of the fall of Arlathan.
"Only in dreams do we hear whispered the names of Geldauran and Daern'thal and Anaris, for they are the Forgotten Ones, the gods of terror and malice, spite and pestilence." - From the tale of Fen'Harel: The Dread Wolf.
Vallaslin: Blood WritingEdit
When a Dalish elf comes of age, they earn the privelege of wearing intricate tattoos representing one of the gods. This is known the blood writing, known as vallaslin in the elven tongue. The actual tattooing is preceeded by meditation on the gods and the ways of the People, and by purifying of the body and the skin. The Keeper of the clan applies the blood writing, and it is done in complete silence. Cries of pain are a sign of weakness; if one cannot tolerate the pain, they are not ready to undertake the responsibilities of an adult. The Keeper may stop the ritual if they decided the person is not ready. This is not looked upon with shame, as all children are different, and the ancient elves once took centuries to come of age. It is unknown whether this is a way of old, or a more recent development.
The Imperial ChantryEdit
"Magic exists to serve man, and never to rule over him." In Tevinter, this statement within the Chant of Light never held the same meaning as it did elsewhere. The Chantry there believed it meant that mages could rule, as long as they did not use blood magic. When the clerics of Tevinter altered the Chant to reflect this, the Divine ordered them to change it, and they refused.
Arguments ensued, until in 3:87 Towers when the Tevinter Imperium elected its own Divine -- Valhail, a man from the Tevinter Circle of Magi -- at the Minrathous Cathedral. And in 3:99 Towers, the death of Divine Joyous II was celebrated in Minrathous and declared a holiday. Enraged, the Chantry declared an Exalted March, calling the coming age, the Black Age. Starting in 4:40 black, and lasting for 70 years, was a bloody war on both sides.
In the end, these Exalted Marches -- four in total -- only served to cement the seperation between Minrathous and Val Royeaux. They were brought to an end after the awakening of Andoral and the Fourth Blight. And to this day, the Schism exists between the two. The Divine in Val Royeaux is informally refered to as the "White Divine" and the Divine in Tevinter as the "Black Divine," though referring to them as such within their respective nations is considered heresy. The Imperial Divine is now always drawn from the ranks of the first enchanters and operates as Divine and Grand Enchanter both.
The Natural OrderEdit
With the Rivaini slowly being converted to the Qun, the Natural Order has a small following in the nation. Other than that its followers are pantheistic, little is known about it.
The Old GodsEdit
There are seven Old Gods. Scholars agree they may indeed have been real at one point, but most agree they were likely actual dragons -- ancient high dragons of a magnitude not known in the modern day. Some even claim these dragons slumber as a form of hibernation, not as a result of the Maker's wrath. Five have risen as Archdemons, and were only identified after years of argument among scholars. To this day, it is unclear whether the Archdemons were truly Old Gods and not simply very powerful, ancient dragons.
- Dumat: the Old God of Silence, he was said to be the leader and the most powerful. He was the one originally to teach blood magic to the first magister of the Imperium. In -395 Ancient he was the first Old God to be tainted into an Archdemon. He was slain at the Battle of the Silent Fields in -203 Ancient.
- Zazikel: the Old God of Chaos. In 1:05 Divine, he rose as an Archdemon to lead the Second Blight, destroying the city of Nordbotten in the Anderfels before the world reacted. He was slain at the Battle of Starkhaven in 1:95 Divine by the Grey Warden Corin.
- Toth: the Old God of Fire. In 3:10 Towers, he was awakened to lead the Third Blight. Toth was slain at Hunter Fell by the combined armies of the Grey Wardens, Orlais, and the Tevinter Imperium in 3:25 Towers.
- Andoral: the Old God of Chains (Slaves). In 5:12 Exalted, he was awakened to lead the Fourth Blight, completely overwhelming Antiva and laying siege to Hossberg. In the Battle of Ayesleigh in 5:24 Exalted, a combined army from Orlais, the Anderfels, and the Free Marches -- under the banner of the Grey Wardens -- defeated his horde, and the Archdemon was slain by the elven hero Garahel.
- Urthemial: the Old God of Beauty. In 9:30 Dragon, he was awakened and led the Fifth and most recent Blight. He was slain a year later by Theron Mahariel at the Battle of Denerim. He was the fairest and most graceful of the Old Gods. It is believed by Tevinters and dragon cultists that Urthemiel fathered a daughter, Urzara. Cults of him, and the two that have not risen still exist, and Urthemiel -- though he is still a prominent symbol of Tevinter today -- has mostly lost his original significance.
- Razikale: the Old of Mystery.
- Lusacan: the Old God of Night.
It is said by the Chantry that the spirits of the Fade were the Maker's first creations and were flawed, and thus they were cast out of the Maker's grace. Jealous of the living, it is said these spirits whispered to them in their dreams, telling them they were the true gods and that the living should bow down to them. And so the living did, summoning these spirits through the Veil into the physical world and worshipping them as idols that walked among them. These were the Old Gods, spirits powerful enough that it is said they took the form of dragons, and ruled over the land. According to the Chantry, their worship was the Original Sin. The Old Gods angered the Maker by claiming to be the creators of the world, ying to the living and supplanting the Maker's true place. When furiously, the Maker abandoned the Fade and his ungrateful creations, he cursed the Old Gods who existed in the world of the living, imprisioning them in tombs deep beneath the earth where they would slumber eternally.
Even from their underground prisons, the Old Gods were able to whisper into the minds of men. Archon Thalsian, first of the Magisters, who claimed to have contacted the Old God Dumat, used the blood magic Dumat taught him to attain incredible power in Tevinter and declare himself ruler of the Empire. In return, he established the first temples worshipping the Old Gods, and spread the religion, the dragons becoming equated everywhere with Imperial power. Thalsian also created the Magister ruling class that has existed to present-day, his pupils forming the noble houses. Mages of the Imperial Chantry today claim it is more likely that blood magic was learned from the elves of Arlathan, but there is no evidence to support either theory.
Prior to the beginning of the First Blight, worship of the Old Gods was at its height. Then Dumat rose from his prison as the first Achdemon. The believers felt betrayed that one of their deities would turn against them. Ancient lore states that it was Dumat who created the first darkspawn, but the Chant of Light says it was the darkspawn who created the Archdemon. The tale of the Darkspawn's creation is known as the Second Sin -- the ancient Magisters attempted to open a gate into the Golden City within the Fade. They managed to enter the Black City, but tainted it with their sin, and were cast out as the first Darkspawn. They hid underground and searched for their old master, and tainted Dumat, unleashing the Blight upon the world. It brought mankind nearly to the brink of annhilation, and 200 years before the Wardens finally slew the Archdemon Dumat, ending the Blight.
Worship of the Old Gods diminished through the Second Blight and the rise of the Chantry. Temples were burned down and destroyed, their cults either dispersed, or driven underground, and some -- mostly in Tevinter -- still stand, but were converted to other uses. A few cults still exist, particularly to those Old Gods who have not yet risen, but they are far and few. And the Darkspawn still hunt the Old Gods underground to corrupt them. There have been five Blights, the Blights nearly bringing mankind to the verge of destruction. If the next two inevitable Blights do not manage to destroy mankind, scholars wonder what will happen when the seventh Archdemon falls.
The Qun is not just a religion, but a way of life. It is based off of the philosophies of the philosopher, Ashkaari Koslun. Those who are Qunari -- "people of the Qun" -- follow it. This is not just limited to the horned Kossith race, though they are the ones who brought the Qun to Thedas. For more information on the Qun, see Qunari.