Mari is the goddess worhsipped in the system of practices and beliefs known as "Shadowcasting" (encountered at the Nybelmarian Murmillions). She is believed to reign over everything of this world and is opposed to a principle of nothingness and destruction known as "the Unspoken" - which strangely enough is credited with the task of creating the world on which Mari reigns.
Picture description: Mari, the Murmillion Goddess of Dreams and Hopes. Image by Enayla.
Mari is also known as the Goddess of Dreams, the Goddess of Hopes, or simply
Appearance. It is believed that Mari has many "manifestations", as she is present in everything we do or we are. There are as many Murmillion Cults as Mari's manifestations, each Cult depicting her in what form they think is more important. The Cult of Moth is depicting her as a woman with wings of a Fire Butterfly, usually "embraced" by a shadow; the Ressurection of Menemronn is using purple eyes, glowing in the dark; the Cult of Fire depicts her as a strange looking woman with an eerie, almost elven appearance - this image was the one that eventually passed into the Santerran pantheon after the events of the Year of Darkness (see picture).
The elite of the Murmillions is using a special kind of writing, based on glyphs. The act of writing a text in glyphs is believed to be a sacred and magical act, as through these glyphs one can touch the very essence of Mari, which is present in each and everyone's mind. Thus nobility always "depicts" Mari just with the glyph that represents her.
Mythology. "Close your eyes my friend, as they will open up inside of you. And this would be your first encounter..." - Book of Dreams (vol 2. "Theological Directions", First Chapter, "The Common Readings"
Murmillions do not see sentient beings as an integral part of "nature" or "world". "Nature" is a strange thing, merely a container, or a means for people to relate with each other. Natural things must be harvested or mastered. And only by gaining power over natural things, one can reach the very essence of what one is - we can be human, says any Murmillion, only by proving our power over nature. This being given, they also see everyone's life as a struggle between two worlds: the "World of Dreams" (that which holds the essence) and the "World of Exile" (that in which we are thrown, thus that which we must master).
Mari reigns over the World of Dreams, she is the one that holds us together, the one that makes it possible. Her power is infinite, as she is the perfect being, a model for every sentient one. But she is not truly the Creator. Her power is manifest and infinite but she is not the one that created all things that exist. Even she, eternal as she may be, cannot exist without something else, and that something else is that which can be called a Creator, though this notion is meaningless related to this "something else". Here is what one of the most respected Murmillion Kunrans (high-priests or cult leaders, the highest clerical title), said about this relation between Mari and this "something else".
"When darkness falls our eyes may close, thus
Mari manifests Herself into our souls. And we know, Mari 'is' our Dreams,
She is the Dream that we always dream. But what would a dream be without
the darkness which enfolds it? Nothing. Such is the husband of Mari. One
cannot deny His presence. But one can deny His existence. As this is
something that He denies Himself. Such is the True Dark One, the Unspoken,
the one that has no name - because there is no name for Him in our souls.
And like a husband, He holds Mari in His arms. We cannot perceive Him but only through Mari, as we cannot perceive Mari but only through Him."
- Book of Dreams (Vol. 2 "Theological Directions", Chapter 3, "Senarr Kunran's Address to the Council")
This "Unspoken" can be considered
as the Creator, as he is the one that by his very
presence, reveals everything - and just by revealing everything he becomes the
do not worship him and every such tendency is
considered to be a capital sin - something very dangerous for one's mind and
soul. There are though, some exceptions, for instance, around 1600 b.S. a lot
turned away from Mari (the influence of the
Arkhaeon Guild is supposed to be
very important), trying to banish her worshipping in favour of the Unspoken. A
series of strange phenomena occulting the light of the
sun for quite an extended period of time
was interpreted as a sign from this unspoken god,
creating a general hysteria among them. As a result they started to wage a
furious war against their neighbours, Aca-Santerra.
Even today, Santerrans
remember with cold shivers the sheer horror of that
"Year of Darkness" (1649 b.S.). By a strange turn of
were defeated (after a
Santerran last stand at their capitol city) and then half-conquered.
Nowadays, the Murmillions
who live under
Santerran rule still emphasize this duality
alongside the Creator role of the Dark One. Also,
Santerrans have "borrowed" Mari, though they are
viewing her in conjuction with Thalisien, and they emphasize her dark and
Lore. There are mainly two official books that gather the most important texts and stories about Mari. "The Sermons of Mari" is a clerical writing compiling all the sacred formulas and texts of the various Cults that worship Mari. The other one, called "Book of Dreams", is mainly of theological inspiration, a compendium about glyphwriting, interpretation of sacred texts and concepts, and the history of Murmillions (in a clerical view). It has four volumes, "On Glyphwriting", "Theological Directions", "The Early Prophets" and "Children of Darkness".
Mostly in "The Sermons of Mari" one can see the strange nature of Murmillion worshipping. They like to listen to the clerics' paradoxical formulations as they believe such verses can transport them above the natural things, in that World of Dreams, from where they can try to reach their essence, of Masters of Nature.
"Spiralling in abyss, we taste Your
Every manifestation of Mari is an open gate towards this world, and every man is more or less intimately linked to such a gate. That is why every cult gets the same status and respect among them. What is common though, to all the cults, is the attraction towards darkness and night, towards an inner illuminance opposed to the solar light which is seen as being deceitfull and evil.
"Blind me with your emptiness.
The "Book of Dreams", as opposed to the Sermons, contains more explicit information about the beginnings of their religion, which can be traced back to the War of the Chosen and the disappearance of Menemronn the Purple (the powerful wizard that created the Burning Mountains). The other humans and elves claim that Menemronn was defeated and killed, but Murmillions believe that the wizard has just left the World of Exile, by reaching his very essence, becoming a True Enlightened One. This leaving, they say, has brought them the possibility of seeing and following the True Path. By following Mari they follow the path of Menemronn. It doesn't matter what was the name of Menemronn's God, what matters is that through that which they call Mari, they can achieve complete power over this World of Exile and become like Menemronn: able to leave it and join the very essence. As we can see in this rather exalted confession of one of the founders of Murmillion religion.
"You are my slumber. The Abyss.
That which waits under my blade.
Importance. Every soul (sentient being) dreams, and in these dreams "Mari is the one that walks". Mainly by dreaming and interpreting dreams, one is worshipping Mari (interpretation of glyphs is also a similar form of worship for Murmillions - though slightly different). The other forms of worship (dedicated to Mari's manifestations in different things or actions) can be reduced to this quite extended concept of "dreaming" (as in one instance, for them to think means to dream). The means of getting in touch with Mari are various, but they do not exclude strange behaviours very akin to mass-hysteria and induced hallucinations.
Symbols. The glyph of
Mari, which is also present in their Coat of Arms. For colours, purple sends to
Mari and black to the Unspoken.
Celebrations. There are no special days for Mari. She is always present in one's life. And refusing her means refusing oneself. Murmillions know that they are few that worship Mari but that makes them even more confident in their righteousness. They have some tolerance for Santerrans since they included Mari in their pantheon, and also a little more for the dark elves (the ones that worship Coór) - because of the influence of some Arkhaeon theories.
Temple Design. Every Murmillion Family has one favoured clerical cult. Thus each cult has its central temple in the main drak of the most important Family who adhers that cult. For the commoners, the cults have built various buildings scattered on Murmillion lands. These buildings are only for commoners' use, being considered as "bad taste" from a nobleman to attend sermons in such buildings. There are basically six wings on a clerical site: a library, a school, a sermon hall, the clerical apartments, the clerical offices and a workshop. Obviously only the first three wings are open to the public. The interior decorations differ from cult to cult, though the use of purple and black is omnipresent.
Temple Locations. The city of Lhindal, the former capitol of Ehebion during the Dark Age of Nybelmar (and currently under Santerran rule) holds the largest temple complex dedicated to Mari. Lhindal became Murmillions' religious center and thus overshadowing their original capitol - the Fortress-city of Dasans. Still, since the break between the "Santerran" Murmillions and the "free" Murmillions there is little known about Dasans but most probable there should be now the center for worshiping Mari by the old traditional ways.
Rites. Every month, on a full moon night, each cult holds a specific sermon. Those sermons though are held to remind and accomplish each cult's chosen path to Mari, therefore the sermons are not as much about Mari as they are about the cults. Every cult though preaches the use of the intimate prayers anytime possible, as after all, one can relate to Mari only by oneself.
Prayers. Praying to Mari is always a personal thing, thus the prayers have become eventually an established literary genre. Yet the most prized prayers would be now the ones collected from inside the Ehebion peninsula (the free Murmillions' territories). The contacts with the peninsula are very rare and any attempt to travel there might be considered perilous. Here is though one such prayer, as it was told to us by our bard, Lucirina Telor Vevan:
Information provided by Smith in Exile