Religion and Belief of Lovat

Faiths and Creeds of Lovat

Welcome to Wild Territories, the series where I delve into the expanded lore and explore the inspiration behind small little details scattered throughout my Lovecraftian urban fantasy series, The Bell Forging Cycle. These posts will be spoiler-free, but you’ll probably appreciate them more if you have read any of books in the series. You can buy them here.

In the last entry, we explored The Mysterious Shamblers of the Scablands, and I asked everyone to vote on what topic they would like me to explore in this entry. The votes are in, and in this piece ,we’re going to examine something a bit different. Please join me as we explore part three of Wild Territories: Faiths and Creeds of Lovat.



There is a lot of ground to cover and this is going to be a long article, so if there is a particular religion you’re interested in, use one of the links below to jump to that specific entry. At the end of each feature there will be a link to bring you back to this menu.

ReunifiedHasturianDeeperismDulodi
CurwenismMysticismEibonianism


The Reunified ChurchThe Reunified Church

Mentioned In: The Stars Were Right, Old Broken Road, Red Litten World
Known Members: Priestess Samantha Dubois, Hagen Dubois, Bishop Dubois
Places of Worship: Saint Mark’s (The Stars Were Right) (Pictured)

“The Reunified Church is as old as anything in our ancient world.”

—Waldo Bell, The Stars Were Right

Shortly after the Aligning, most of the fragmented denominations of earth’s former faiths were destroyed or significantly reduce in number. Under the caring and watchful leadership of Ebenezer Alvord, the dispersed congregations were eventually reunited under a single banner, The Reunified Church, eventually establishing a hierarchy of bishops, priests, monks, and nuns. Over the years, their influence widened as congregations began to crop up across the Territories. Missionaries, called Road Priests/Priestesses, crisscross the trails and highways riding small chapelwains pulled by teams of oxen. From these mobile churches, missionaries lead simple services, serve out rust wine, and hear confessions for small communities scattered throughout the Territories.

St. Mark's — Broadway Hill, Broadway Isle, Lovat
St. Mark’s — Broadway Hill, Broadway Isle, Lovat

Historically the Church had existed in Lovat since its rebirth. During the city’s tumultuous early years the Reunifieds were more militaristic and fought an extended religious war against the Hasturian Faith. These ‘Doctrine Wars’ lasted half a century, and as a result, many of the Reunified churches and cathedrals developed a fortress-like appearance. Walls and battlements ring the buildings and armed guards have been seen walking the walls, ever vigilant. While the church has become more peaceful in recent years, it still retains a small but powerful standing army, and Priest and Priestess alike are required to take self-defense classes.

Much of the Reunified faith is a continuation of its ancient Abrahamic religious heritage with a belief centered on a single divine deity. Since the Doctrine Wars, several splinter denominations have eventually spun away from the faith, notably the Reformed Movement, Salamshalla, Reunified Orthodoxy, and the Brethren. While core beliefs in each sect remain similar, overall, the church is considerably different from its pre-Aligning roots. Many of its post-Aligning practices, holidays, traditions, and saints would be unrecognizable to early pre-Aligning practitioners.

Today, many Lovatines respect the church, but Reunified history is not without controversy. While all sects of The Reunified Church openly welcome all species, that has not always been the case. Early in its formation, the church held to a strict human-only policy and banned non-human species from its services. The Purity Movement, a splinter sect of Reunified Brethren led by the charismatic Conrad O’Conner, claim to trace their roots back to the early Reunified Church and continues to preach human superiority and exclusion. Something the church and its sub-sects have vehemently disavowed.

An estimated 28.7% of Lovatines claim some connection with the Reunified Church making it the largest religious organization in the Territories.

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The Hasturian FaithThe Hasturian Faith

Mentioned In: The Stars Were Right, Old Broken Road, Red Litten World
Known Members:
 Peter Black, August Nickel
Know Places of Worship: Carcosa Grove (The Stars Were Right)

“It’s all deplorable. Folks worshiping monsters, fish gods, squid, and then there’s those Hasturians.”

—Jeremiah Norry, Old Broken Road

Arriving with the emergence of the dauger sometime after the Aligning, The Followers of the Cold Shepherd, more commonly known as the Hasturian Faith, is structured similarity to the early Reunified Church. However, it is ‘Ministers’ not Priests or Priestesses who lead congregations and church members refer to one another as ‘sister,’ ‘brother,’ or the gender neutral ‘sibling.’

The faith centers on the worship of Hastur, a deity of some mystery. Hastur’s origins are strange, and the church’s religious text—The Pallidon—isn’t clear on the subject. Congregations are divided into two wings that teach two separate origins for their god; Monarchists preach that Hastur was once a king of a great golden city while the more conservative Traditionalists believe him to be the elevated form of a former god of sheepherders. Recently, a third more open doctrine had appeared, it teaches that Hastur is not one but many aspects allowing for both origins. All Hasturians believe he is an all-knowing deity who values knowledge above all. As a result, wisdom and the pursuit of knowledge are highly favored values within the church. Traditionally, church members wear yellow robes over their everyday clothes while at worship though the practice has begun to fade in more modern times.

While it is now one of the most welcoming faiths in the city, there was a time when humans were not accepted. This was initially a response to former Reunified policy and what led to the Doctrine Wars. As a result, human membership remains small. It is estimated that 12% of Lovatines are associated with the Hasturian Faith.

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DeeperismDeeperism

Mentioned In: The Stars Were Right, Old Broken Road
Known members:
 Unnamed Anur
Places of Worship: Unknown

“Deeper ain’t going to help you with them. Deeper can’t, not now. Not now. Not now.”

—Unnamed Anur, The Stars Were Right

You will find a variety of faiths among the subaquatic species of Lovat, but the most common among them is the Church of Deeper, or Deeperism as it’s more commonly called. In fact, many of the kresh, anur, and cephels of the Sunk count themselves among the members of this faith.

Deeperist Bonfire during Neap
Deeperist Bonfire during Neap

The tenets and practices of Deeperism are as varied as the practitioners. But all congregations—called shoals—focus on a dreaming god called Deeper. It is said he dwells in a sunken city lost to the black abysses of the swollen oceans. Worshipers of the dreaming god dress in salt-stained sackcloth rags—often gray or black—during services and ritual gatherings. They preach that Deeper will one day awaken and return to his faithful and lead his followers to a place of prominence in the world while driving their enemies mad in the process.

Deeper holidays are celebrated during King and Neap Tides and are the high point of the Church’s year. Shoals observe the tides by lighting bonfires around massive stone monoliths, a strange practice for a faith dominated by Lovat’s subaquatic species. Scholars believe these fire rituals can be traced back to the early human worship of Deeper, and might be Pre-Aligning in their origin.

During these events, Deeper dances, feasts, and celebrations are observed around the bonfires and are held on small islands surrounded by King Tide lagoons or, during Neap, among the salt-stained remnants of ancient ghost forests lost to the sea in bygone epochs.

For a long time, some religious scholars associated the Deeperism movement alongside the Mystics who preach from their crates on Lovat’s corners. But recently, rallying under a banner rejecting institutionalized speciesism, there has been a call to recognize the Deeperists as an independent faith. Some reports indicate as many as 67% of cephels, 46% of anur, and 22% of kresh consider themselves Deeperists though the exact numbers are hard to lock down. If these figures are found to be true, this could potentially elevate Deeperism from a once disregarded faith and make it the largest religious organization in the city.

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DulodiDulodi

Mentioned In: The Stars Were Right (Never Named), Old Broken Road (Never Named)
Known members:
 Wensem dal Ibble, Kitasha wen Gresna
Places of Worship: Not Applicable

“We have a family ritual to perform, a bonding between father and son. It’s long overdue already.”

—Wensem dal Ibble, The Stars Were Right

The Dulodi Religion is separated into two branches: the first is ‘Hanara’ or ‘The Familial Bond’ second is ‘Garilu Dor Dulodi’ commonly called ‘The Open Community Path.’ These two branches constitute the primary beliefs of the Maero People.

Hanara Dulodi, the traditional belief structure, tends to be a more insular family affair, focused more on building harmony within one’s chosen community rather than any personal experience with a particular deity. Maero religious leaders, called lamas, tend to act as guides and help facilitate these interactions rather than instruct. Gatherings are group ceremonies, called “kinships,” are held in rotating maero households.

Religious practices vary but involve different trials where the family places themselves within a particular undertaking. These self-imposed ordeals require each member of the family to rely on the others. During these moments it is believed that a close bonding is formed and, it is believed that with each successful trial, the individual maero becomes more refined and therefore more at peace with their surroundings and themselves.

Garilu Dor Dulodi, sometimes called neo-Dulodi is more open than the traditional Hanara and was taught first by Lama Gratin wen Urutar a few centuries after the maero’s emergence. While families are encouraged to participate together, the traditions of Garilu Dor tends to focus more on the individual’s relationship to their community rather than on unifying small, close-knit groups. Kinships tend to be much larger, consisting of hundreds of maero as opposed to the little gatherings within Hanara. Likewise, community trials are open to all opposed to isolated trials of family units. Practitioners believe that by undertaking the trails with strangers they find themselves more open to the world, their environs, and their communities.

Most maero claim to be, at least casual practitioners of Dulodi, and some non-maero species are also found within the faith. It is estimated that only 5% of Lovatines are regular practitioners making Dulodi the third largest religion in the city.

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CurwenitesCurwenites

Mentioned In: The Stars Were Right, Old Broken Road, Red Litten World
Known members:
 Unknown
Places of Worship: Unknown

“As if on cue, a column of Curwenites marched along in their blue jumpsuits, following a twisted icon held by a dauger at the head of the column.”

—Waldo Bell, Old Broken Road

Curwenism is one of the smaller of Lovat’s organized religions, and often the most misunderstood. Curwenites are followers of the prophet Curwen, an ancient holy man who taught of a god of many faces who was all gods. This strange and shadowy prophet wandered the wastelands after the Aligning and was said to have performed wonders and raise the dead. It wasn’t long after these miracles that he began to gain acolytes. Together with his followers Curwen retreated into the Rosalia Mountains, and it was there his teachings were gathered into The Nine Peaks, which serve as the Curwenites holy book.

Procession of Curwenites
Procession of Moth Robe Curwenites

Modern practitioners are secretive about their beliefs, but it is not uncommon to see a procession of the faithful marching in the city’s thoroughfares. Congregations tend to mimic one another in dress, and it is not unusual to hear Curwenites refer to one another based upon their wardrobes. The Sporting Jackets, Blue Suits, and Moth Robes are all common sites in the city. Curwenites have no houses of worship, preferring instead to meet in public squares or parks for readings from The Nine Peaks. The faith also has no unifying symbol. Followers of the prophet combine objects and symbols from other religions as an attempt to capture one aspect of their many-faced god. The creation of these small simulacra is considered an act of worship.

As with Deeperism, Curwenites went largely unacknowledged for generations. It wasn’t until recently they have found their place among Lovat’s major religious organizations.

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MysticsMystics

Mentioned In: The Stars Were Right, Red Litten World
Known members:
 Unknown
Places of Worship: Unknown

“It was easy to mistake them for cultists. Mystics throughout the scrape dressed in similar garb. ”

—Waldo Bell, Red Litten World

Mystics are the evangelists of the small faiths and are often seen on the street corners of the city, peddling stories of those they worship. The pantheon is as broad and varied as their servants. Often Mystics get grouped together under the banner of “Mysticism” though their practices, teachings, and doctrines rarely align. While the number of deities is enormous a few of the “small gods” have emerged as primary figures among many of the mystics.

• Bleeding James

Reviled by Hasturians, the devotees of Bleeding James were nearly stomped out during the campaigns of the Doctrine Wars. However, the Hasturians were never able to suppress the faith altogether. While his congregants often view him as a heroic outlaw type figure, the Hasturian treat him as more of a devil. Bleeding James worship has risen in popularity within the subcultures of Lovat’s warrens and several congregations now have small churches in the city’s lower levels.

• Ceneron

The anur’s desert-dwelling cousins, the bofu-anur, often worship a strange toad-like creature that is said to have come from a distant moon. Small shrines to her can be seen in corners and alleys of Level Two near bofu-anur enclaves.

• Pan

This trickster god has long been one of the most popular among the street mystics. Some claim his origins can be traced to the pre-Aligning world, though many believe this half-man/half-goat creature could be a Lengish man who rose to power and influence. Pan is quite popular among some of the elevated in Lovat’s upper reaches, and Pan-worshiping patrons have erected several statues dedicated to him in the sun-lit courts and breezy plazas of Level Eight.

• Tindalos

The bizarre time traveling beast-god has risen in popularity in recent decades, in particular among the city’s working class. While no public houses of worship exist, the pulpiteers that preach on the streets of are often seen accompanied by packs of half-feral dogs, or swarms of bats.

• Yad/Yaddoth

A giant sentient worm-like creature that is said to have come from the stars. Many of Yad’s evangelists claim the worm lives beneath Broadway Island. House of Yaddoth is the only known church of Yad. It can be found near the center of the island and holds services nightly. The church also runs a popular soup kitchen for the cities poor and downtrodden.

Conservative estimations have calculated that over two hundred organized congregations are worshiping small gods within Lovat, and much more remain in the shadows. Their popularity waxes and wanes depending on a variety of conditions. But street mystics have proven tenacious, and their influence will continue to resonate through the warrens of the city in the generations to come.

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EibonianEibonian Cult

Mentioned In: Old Broken Road, Red Litten World (Never Named)
Known members: The Evangelist
Places of Worship: Unknown

“Well, my first assumption would be Reunified road priests, though they don’t wear pointed hoods. We can rule out Deepers, Curwenites, and Eibonians as well. None of them go for black.”

—Samantha Dubois, Old Broken Road

The Eibonian Cult is named after their holy book. The Book of Eibon, which speaks of a nameless ancient god that was imprisoned in a bleak darkness and who would re-light the world, once freed. While the actual number of Eibonians is unknown, their popularity has risen in recent months.

Devotees tend to be erudite-types and are often found having hushed discourse with one another in many of the city’s libraries and bookshops. While rites, rituals, and even the name of their god remain unknown, many scholars believe that the Eibonians are in the process of searching for a way to free their deity from its ancient prison.

Until recently, the Eibonian’s nameless god has been grouped with the “small gods” of the Mystics. However, recent revelations in the local press, revealing the faith and spiritual practices of a few high-level city officials has helped hoist the faith’s notoriety beyond that of the Mystics. Time will tell if the recent reports have had any lasting impact or, if like many small faiths before it, the Eibonian Cult will fade back into obscurity.

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Thanks for reading the third Wild Territories entry. I hope you enjoyed this deeper look at some of the major religions of Lovat. I always enjoy sharing some of the expanded lore from the series and if you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment below, I’m always happy to answer.

This feature just covers a narrow sample of seven major religions found within the city, and mostly focused on faiths that have been mentioned in the novels. Obviously, there is much more history and many more details that could be explored for each of these churches, and I am sure we’ll continue to examine them (and others) in future Bell Forging Cycle novels as well.

As before the idea is to continue this series and reveal more behind the scenes information about The Bell Forging Cycle. To do that, I need your help. Vote below and decided where we go next time we visit the Wild Territories.

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