The Word of the Flame (2/9)

The following, as is the preceding one and will be the other seven entries in the series, are extracts from the Word of the Flame, the record of the seeress Merriéle’s visions that is also the primary text of the Church of the Flame, the mainstream eldraeic religion.

More specifically, this series will contain all 51 verses of the book of Principles, which enumerate the principles of each of the eikones in the form of each’s foremost principle as they would have it expressed under Heaven, although naturally each eikone’s own book examines the fullness of the principle they represent from many more angles and in much more detail.  Nonetheless, the three verses of the Triarchs and the 48 verses of their Divine Ministers are second only to the book of Truths in Flamic moral teaching.

Knowledge is its own justification.
To learn it is good; to discover it is better;
To record it, imperishable, is best of all.
This is the command of Aláthiël
Through whom all things are known.

The stars hold wisdom beyond their light.
The deepest study reveals truth beyond truth,
The blossoming tree revealed in the acorn.
This is the command of Aéren
Who sees through every surface.

Your words are your thoughts, given form;
Your thoughts are echoes of your heart’s truth.
Therefore shape them well, with harmony.
This is the command of Atheléä
Whose songs resound in every voice.

Do not rely on chance; it will betray you.
Neither fight it; you will lose more than you gain.
Trust only that chance is.
This is the command of Athnéël
Whose presence is ever unlooked-for.

The eternal may persist forever;
Those which are ephemeral must end.
That which must end should end well.
This is the command of Pétamárdis
Who sees all endings made anew.

The world is clay, unshaped, awaiting the fire;
The world is metal, unshaped, awaiting the forge.
By your hands must all things be completed.
This is the command of Mahánárel
Who first wrought shape from chaos.

– the Word of the Flame, Principles 4-9

Little Darknesses

While it is true that the Church of Celestial Harmony has no named adversary, no personification of evil, or rather – bearing in mind that neither are any of the eikones personifications, strictly speaking, of good – of negatively aligned concepts, it nonetheless maintains a fundamental opposition of cosmic principles.  There is the Flame, the positive cosmic principle of volition, creation, excellence, and energy; and there is the Darkness, its opposite.  Neither is the former personified as a whole; the eikones are considered shards seen through a prism, individual colors derived from the pure light of the Flame.  The latter, however, while not personified, is strongly identified with things considered manifestations of the universe’s negative principle, which Church doctrine refers to as the Universal Flaw – Void, Chaos, and Entropy.

Entropy exists in opposition, in the Church’s cosmology, to all the eikones, but most specifically such eikones as Entélith, eikone of death and endings; Éadínah, eikone of night and darkness; Olísmé, eikone of grief and loss; and Pétamárdis, eikone of necessary rot and decay.  These stand in particular opposition to Entropy, given Olísmé’s role as the consoler of the pantheon, and that both Entélith and Pétamárdis represent different aspects of that destruction which must lead to new creation.  Entélith presides over rebirth and major transitions, while Pétamárdis rules the ephemeral cycle, presiding over reuse, recycling, and repair, along with consumption as food or fuel, and ecological cycles of death and birth.  Entropy, by contrast, is the force of absolute destruction that leads to nothing new; waste – and waste heat – dissipation, and unbeing.

Of course, it is quite possible to engage in religious devotion to an abstract principle rather than an eikone (and indeed, where they sprang up, these cults have usually refrained from creating personifications of Entropy), and Entropy-cults by various names (Nightbringers, Children of the Void, the Breakers, the Cult of Finality, the Chaos-Spawned, etc., etc.) have not been unknown in eldraeic history, drawing principally from the discontent, unfulfilled or bitter among the “failed” – those unable to meet the standards demanded by society and eikones alike – and the unsated power-hungry, and from the dissonant, who found purpose and justification therein.

In the early days of the Empire, these cults often ran afoul of the secular authorities, since the activities in which they engaged as part of their devotions led them into conflict with secular law and the Fundamental Contract.  They were also widely persecuted by the templars of the Church (in particular those sponsored by the orders of Entélith and Pétamárdis) as promoters of Darkness, and this was done with the consent and assistance of the secular authorities, who took the legal view that such groups, engaged in activities intended to serve or unleash the cosmic principle of destruction, were eo ipso also engaged in conspiracies to commit crimes of entropism.

(It is entirely possible, indeed likely, that many non-cultists who engaged in activities deemed entropic – serial murderers, book-burners, rioters, vandals, and others – from entirely non-philosophical motives were caught up in the templar actions; since doctrine held that serious or chronic engagement in such activities was a sign of anathematic entropic deformation of the soul, willing or unwilling, this was not considered a significant problem by those authorities of the time who considered it.)

Likewise, the Church engaged in several military actions against entropism abroad, when they found it.  Societies which sacked cities, burned libraries, destroyed artworks for vengeance or for the value of their materials, ravaged lands and populations – all could be, and many were, deemed anathematic and made the target of a holy war.  These Marches of Purity, independent from any secular military actions, performed many punitive raids on such societies, and destroyed no few root and branch, while nonetheless taking great care to preserve their knowledge and artifacts.

While in the modern day such templar persecution and such Marches have not existed for millennia, nevertheless some Entropy-cults (and individual devotees) continue to crop up.  Even in a near-post-scarcity, sanity-guaranteed, libertist utopia, there are some very few people who can still be discontent with their lot – and are all the more so because everyone around them is satisfied with and fulfilled by their lives.  Fortunately, in the current age of ubiquitous law enforcement almost none are able to commit crimes in the name of their beliefs, and the remainder finds the unofficial persecution from their peers onerous; few will deal with, or associate with, an admitted or apparent entropist.  Some seek rectification through psychedesign and others choose to flee the Empire for more tolerant polities, but few remain for long.

– A History of Counterflamic Belief, Introduction