Vangleism is a religion within the world of Atlas, mainly found practiced within the Republic of Antico. Followers of the religion, known as Vangleites, worship the god Vangle who they believe to be the sole deity and source of all existence. The religion found popularity during the peak of the Vangle Empire, in which Vangleism was seen as the only and true faith. The religion continued to exist after the exodus to the new world, in which former Vangle Empire citizens and their descendants continued their practices.
The worship of Vangle goes back to the various testificate villages scattered across the plains, which led to the construction of Horizontalville, the capital city of the former Vangle Empire. Testificates were devout followers of Vangle, and due to the constant talk of their faith it led to communication difficulties to break between them and Emperor Jon Horizontal, who was to become the first fluent non-testificate speaker. Testificates converted Jon Horizontal to Vangleism, which eventually led to the faith turning from a simple 'tribal' type religion to a globally recognized one.
Due to Jon Horizontal's influence the worship of Vangle was a major part of Vangle Empire culture and led to a large boom of architectural and artistic inspirational developments. The Vangle Monastery, that famously stood on the cliffs of the bay of Shawdale, was a popular spot for tourists and pilgrims alike due to its impressive size and obvious importance to the empire. The religion, was considered by the majority of Vangles to be the only and true religion. Those who spoke out against the Vangle faith were quickly shunned, by friend or family alike out of combined reasons of devout faith and fear of punishment from Vangle Empire authorities.
Due to the involvement within the Republic of Antico, Vangleites today are very accepting of people who practice other religions. In the past however this was not always the case and often led to disputes between Vangle Empire citizens and people of other nations. The problems however never rose to the point where it caused war, due to Emperor Horizontal's firm grip on his people with his influential speeches and smart sanctions of punishment.
There were some members of the Vangle Empire, who not only worshiped Vangle, but worshiped the mystical entity Claire on equal footing. Vangleism religion states that Vangle is the only eternal deity, so of course the worship of Claire caused problems. Claire, was considered a goddess by many other nations, so it wasn't long before the ideas of Claireism leaked into the minds of Vangle Empire citizens, especially the poor and easily influenced. Under consultation with the monks of the Vangle Monastery (the original Council of Vangle), Emperor Jon Horizontal (who also acted as the head of Vangleism) decided to announce that Claire be considered on equal footing to Martyn, a similar mystical entity that had single-handedly moved the whole city of Horizontalville before the Vangle Empire was even a superpower. This decision allowed the worship of Claire to be filtered down slightly, and into a form of acceptable involvement within Vangleism.
Since Emperor Jon Horizontal was labeled deceased after the Battle of Shawdale Vangleism is now ran by a small council of monks, mainly testificates, who have remained in seclusion since the exodus. These holy men and women choose not to include themselves with direct dealings with the Republic of Antico, but instead focus all their efforts on worship of Vangle. Devout followers of Vangle, known as messengers, are known to seek audience with the Council of Vangle in order to bring the sacred tomes they produce to the various holy places in which Vangleism is practiced. These tomes are labeled for their authenticity by use of the seal of Emperor Jon Horizontal, that only the Council of Vangle and supposedly some messengers have access to. Ionatán Horizon, a devout Vangleite, is rumored to be a messenger of the Council of Vangle, but he refuses to confirm the fact either way.
Vangleites mainly live within the Republic of Antico in peace alongside people who are either followers of other religions or do not follow any religion at all. This change to the Vangelite way of life was originally difficult, especially for the first generation of new world Vangleites, but the exodus itself and the building work that followed was a very monumental incident for bonding, of all nations and religions out of the conclusion that there was a worse evil existent than the squabbles between nations.
Vangleites are supposed to be non-aggressive, accepting and good-hearted people. Lying, scamming, cheating, assault, murder, harm of children, disrespect and stealing are all considered offensive to Vangle. Confession of these sins may result in forgiveness from him, but continued offenses against Vangleism doctrine may result in being shunned by other Vangleites. It is the actions within the world of Atlas that will reflect the reward or punishment in the afterlife where the person's soul will be sent.
Vangleites are known to attend church, in which a clergyman recites passages from the sacred tomes written by the Council of Vangle. Prayers are also shared among the congregation, sometimes in direction of mystical beings, known as guardians, instead of Vangle directly.
To be one of the Vangleite faith it requires its followers to be baptized with water provided by the Council of Vangle, which is said to be blessed by Vangle himself. There are two ceremonies of baptism, one for infants and one for adults. Baptism of infants is more for protection from Vangle, but baptism of adults is for full initiation and dedication to Vangelism. Anyone from the age of 16 can be fully initiated to the Vangle faith, as it is this age where people are considered (within the Vangle faith) to be of right mind to make the decision.
Vangleites are known to marry through the bond of their unified love to Vangle. Marriage within Vangleism is not supposed to be an easy decision, because divorce is not an option. Marriage within Vangleism is not only for life, it is for eternity into the afterlife. Marriage is not limited to opposing genders or the same humanoid species. Due to the sanctity of a Vangleite marriage it should go without saying that going against that bond, be it divorce or cheating, is considered highly offensive to Vangle and the disobeyers are quickly shunned by their fellow Vangleites. In the times of the Vangle Empire this meant that Vangleites often had to leave the Empire completely, but in more recent times a former Vangleite can simply avoid the company of fellow Vangleites, since the religion is not exclusive to one nation like before. A Vangelite who is victim to their partner cheating (or disobeying Vangleism doctrine to the point where they were shunned) can remarry. Marriage is for eternity, so a Vangleite cannot remarry if their partner dies.
Punishment for disobedience of the Vangle faith only applies to fully initiated Vangleites and within the rules and confines of the settlements in which the sins are committed. The easiest, and most popular form of punishment, is simply to be shunned by the Vangleite community. This may be appealed, but may take many years for the sinner to prove their fixed ways.
For more serious sins, usually considered crimes, including unjustified murder and serious harm of children are punishable by death, usually in the form of hanging or beheading. In the case in which a settlement is not existent to carry out (or deny) these punishments devout Vangleites will often carry out justice in the name of Vangle themselves, usually after consultation with a clergyman.
The funeral of a Vangleite often consists of the use of fire, because it is believed that the smoke allows for easier and direct passage of the soul to the Aether. Serious sinners are usually still burned after their death in case a grave mistake has been made. However, for those who are undeniably evil they are instead tossed into the sea, weighted down by heavy bricks or cannonballs. Sailors of the Vangle fleet were often known to be floated out to sea in a crate or a lifeboat before the body was set aflame by a lit arrow.
Vangleite beliefs have remained pretty constant since Emperor Jon Horizontal established Vangleism as a globally recognized religion. An exception to this is the occasional introduction or demoting of guardians, which is announced by the Council of Vangle, under instruction presumably from Vangle Guardians and Vangle himself.
Vangleites believe in the existence of Vangle Guardians, who are mystical entities that have no physical presence, but can possess the body of a humanoid to act out the requirements of Vangle. Guardians have their favored host bodies and will frequently use the same host, meaning those uneducated to Vangleism will often wrongfully assume that the person itself is the guardian, when it is not. Each guardian has very different personalities and abilities.
Atlas: Guardian of the earth. Likes offerings of anything. Shrine symbol is of dirt. Color is green or blue.
Martyn: Guardian of the sun* and life. Likes offerings of potatoes. Shrine symbol is of a potato. Color is gold or dark green.
Claire: Guardian of the moon* and death. Likes offerings of arrows. Shrine symbol is of a bow and arrow. Color is silver or teal.
Ham'Li - Guardian of the sky and creativity. Likes offerings of quartz ore. Shrine symbol is of wings. Color is light blue or yellow.
Mix'Pl - Guardian of the land and engineers. Likes offerings of redstone dust. Shrine symbol is of a redstone torch. Color is brown or dark red.
Sil'Ra - Guardian of the ocean and hard work. Likes offerings of resources. Shrine symbol is of an anvil. Color is dark blue or gray.
*Interestingly some Vangleites of the southern hemisphere refer to Claire as the guardian of the sun and Martyn as the guardian of the moon, instead.
Each guardian can be prayed to directly, for specific needs, gratitude or forgiveness. It is not uncommon for Vangleites to pray to Martyn thanking him for the birth of their newborn, Claire for assistance during wartime, Han'Lea when requesting creative inspiration, Mixel when struggling with a complicated engineering project, or Silver for persistence when working on a long project.
Atlas is believed to be the son of Vangle, a child born of Claire (who was once considered just a human before her promotion to guardian status) and delivered by Martyn. Atlas has the singular task of physically holding the world on his shoulders and in equal distance between the sun and moon, which rotate around. Atlas is not known to answer the prayers of anyone, but the sacred tomes of Vangleism do state that he does indeed like (any) offerings and gratitude for his efforts.
There are three forms of afterlife believed within Vangleism, that is simply determined by their level of dedication to Vangle (or lack thereof). The Nether is where souls are sent for both Vangleites and non-Vangleites alike who act in such a way during their life that resulted (or would have resulted) in their shunning or killing for their sins committed. The Aether is for Vangleites only who lived the doctrine of Vangleism to the best of their ability, without committing serious sins that were not worthy of forgiveness. Limbo is a state of existence for non-Vangleites who did not commit any serious sin during their lifetime, were good people, but were simply lacking their faith to Vangle. Those within limbo are allowed to live in eternity, as spirits (or ghosts), within the world of Atlas.
The structure of Vangleism has changed slightly since the exodus, particularly in the establishment of the Council of Vangle and introduction of messengers. This development was decided after the fragmented religion was forced to come up with a solution on how to continue in a world where Vangleism could no longer exist exclusively without a leader like Emperor Jon Horizontal to continue it.
Council of Vangle
The Council of Vangle, that consists of Vangleite monks are in constant direct communication with Vangle Guardians and Vangle himself. Due to these conversations, that take place behind a closed door in a sacred room, the Council of Vangle write sacred tomes for distribution all over the world, with priority obviously towards Vangle churches via the work of messengers. The mysterious Council of Vangle is said to consist mainly of testificates, some that survived the exodus. Since the Council of Vangle is a group of monks they are not allowed to marry.
Messengers are the only communication link between the Council of Vangle and the rest of the world. Messengers are devout Vangleites who usually have resources available to them where they are able to distribute sacred tomes of Vangle rather easily. Vangleite messengers do not publicize their important role within Vangleism so not to mistakenly reveal the location of the Council of Vangle if followed by an anti-Vangleite. Messengers are supposed to be able to blend into regular life without obvious signs of their role within Vangle faith, so because of that messengers are allowed to marry.
Monks are those who have dedicated their lives fully to Vangle. Monks are rumored to sometimes be chosen as messengers, which would explain how some monks live as nomads and not within monasteries. Different monasteries and their associated groups of monks sometimes dedicate their work and study to a specific Vangle Guardian, secondary of course to Vangle himself. Some monks also act out duties of clergymen within areas that have a lowered Vangleite population. Monks, who have dedicated their lives to Vangle are not allowed to marry, since it is deemed an interference from their study.
Clergymen are those responsible for teaching the beliefs and doctrine of Vangleism. Interestingly, clergymen are considered below messengers and monks in the structure of Vangleism because they only teach Vangleism and are not granted audience with the Council of Vangle like messengers are. That being said it is not uncommon for clergymen to mysteriously retire prematurely, presumably due to being handpicked as a messenger or their personal decision to instead become a monk, which requires further dedication. Clergymen, who can be male or female are allowed to marry and live a normal life. A clergyman's position within Vangleism is considered a post of employment, nothing more.