The World Of Khoras - Religion - Elder Gods

Semorjon

Lord of the Watery Deep, Master of Storms, He Who Dwells Beneath the Waves, The Sea

Status Greater God
Domain The Sea and all things in it, Wind, Storms, Weather
Ethos The Sea hungers and must be appeased.
Typical Worshipers Sailors, fishermen, captains, pirates and all who make their living by the sea.
Head of the Church None.
Demographics 80% Human, 10% Grum, 6% Sea Gypsy, 2% Saurian, 1% Ogre, 1% Other
Geographic Regions Worshiped in all coastal regions of Ithria, except the west.
Allied Faiths Imarus, Barrinor, Sarreth, Mireldokar, Glavyris
Opposed Faiths Belhelizar, Barulda, Agethos, Karenia, Draxorith
Holy Symbol A nautilus shell.

The Deity

Description

Semorjon is the mighty god of the sea and all things in it including every creature, ocean plant and jagged rock. Semorjon is the sea. His might cannot be denied and is felt in the thunderous waves, the raging storm and the lashing rain. Like the sea, he has many sides. He is the god that provides the bounty of the sea, but he is also the reckless storm and the hidden reef. Like the weather, a serene calm can turn to an angry storm.

Semorjon is said to be terrifying to behold. He is depicted as a monstrous humanoid giant whose body is made of jagged coral and rock. He has sea weed for hair and a beard of sea foam. Water cascades forth from all the cracks between the rocks of his body. He is as large as a mountain and when he comes to the surface, his head breaches the clouds. He spends most of his time sitting on an enormous throne at the bottom of the ocean carved from the rock of the ocean floor. He rules over a vast underwater court where creatures of the sea do his bidding.

Tales of Semorjon speak of his fickle nature and moods that can change in an instant. On the one hand, Semorjon is everything good that comes from the sea. He is the bountiful harvest of sea food. He is the serenity of the calm sea. He is the radiant sunset, the clear blue sky, the cry of the gull and the endless coast. Semorjon is generally seen as a god of goodness and plenty who cares for those who live on the sea.

However, the Sea can also be full of rage and spite and hurtful pride. Semorjon cannot be trusted and will turn with little provocation. The savage storm, the rogue wave, the hidden reef, the circling sharks, the sunken ship and the drowned mariner are all aspects of the dark side of Semorjon.

The term "the Sea" and Semorjon are often used interchangeably.

Myths and Legends

The most well known tale of this faith involves the gathering of the sea. Imarus gathered the waters and formed the sea from the Chaos. However, Imarus could not contain the Chaos and it continued deep within the sea. At the bottom of the sea, in the deepest trench, the Chaos gave birth to Semorjon. Semorjon took the Chaos that swirled around him and broke it into pieces and created all things. With one piece he created Storms. With another he created drowning. With another he created the first shark. And so on. All the plants and animals and rocks and islands were fashioned in this way. With the last piece of Chaos he created the nautilus, which, to this day, has a special place in his heart.

The Church

Overview of the Church

The church of Semorjon is one of the faiths in the Elder Gods pantheon. It is estimated to have about ten million active worshipers. The church of Semorjon can be found in almost every fishing village, seafaring town and port city. His temples are a common sight in major harbors and around docks. Oaths to Semorjon pepper the language of the salty seafolk and the church has had a number of influences on daily life anywhere land meets sea.

Geographic Placement

The church of Semorjon is strongest in the Kingdom of Mercia where he is considered their patron god. The faith is also widely worshiped on the coastlines of eastern, southern and northern Ithria. Only in the west is it not prevalent. Even the Borrellians have heard of Semorjon, although few worship him.

History and Origins

Semorjon has been associated with the sea since before ancient times. Carvings on sea caves found along the southern coast and the Pirate Isles have the name "Semorjan" inscribed along with sea creatures, primitive boats and depictions of storms. Such carvings predate the Myratz Empire. Like the endless sea, this faith has endured centuries, remarkably unchanged. Throughout cataclysm, war and political upheaval, the sea and the faith around it have survived.

Goals

The goals of this church are to appease the great sea god through plentiful offerings. Through supplication and respect, the faithful seek to sail the seas, avoid the storm, fish its waters and make it back to land safely. The priests of Semorjon seek to build a great temple to their god in every port city and coastal town on every coastline. Many sea priests feel that Semorjon, not Imarus, should rule the pantheon.

Temples, Churches and Holy Sites

Every major coastal city in eastern and sourthern Ithria has a major temple to Semorjon. Most coastal towns and fishing villages will have a small shrine dedicated to the sea god. Semorjon’s temples and shrines are always on the coast, as close to the open sea as possible. Very often they are on a small rocky island connected to the coast by a stone bridge. His major temples are designed around a large central chamber which is open to the sky above and open to the sea below. It is built around a large central pool of sea water which is connected to the open sea. Pillars surround the pool decorated with carvings of sea creatures. Many fish and other animals will live in and around this pool as the priests and worshipers will often feed them.

The city of Freeport has the largest and most elaborate Semorjan temple. Freeport is, in many ways, the heart of this faith.

Worshipers

He is worshipped by sailors and pirates, shipwrights and fishermen and all folk who make their living from the sea. He is worshiped by countless coastal villages along the eastern and southern coasts of Ithria as well on the inner coasts of the Captured Sea.

Sailors often go to a temple or shrine before a voyage to make an offering and pray for a safe journey. Sailor's wives will make offerings to Semorjon for the safe return of their husbands. Fisherman pray each day for a good catch. Most offerings include some token of the sea and something of value. A beautiful seashell might be offered, but the sea priests will also ask for a small monetary donation or object of real value to accompany the seashell.

Many oaths and curses used by sailors invoke Semorjon's name.

Allied and Opposed Faiths

Semorjon is a part of the pantheon known as the “Elder Gods of Ithria”. These faiths dominate most of Ithria and, for the most part, co-exist peacefully. As such, he is loosely allied with all the faiths of the Elder gods and generally opposed to the Dark Lords.

 

Dogma

Tenets

Make offerings to Semorjon for safe passage, good fishing, fair winds and calm seas.

Once each year, make an offering of your ship, for the sea hungers and must be appeased.

The sea has a poor memory and so you must offer your ship each year.

Do not squander the bounties the sea offers. Use resources wisely or risk angering Semorjon.

Respect the sea, always, or face Semorjon's wrath.

Scripture

The Book of the Sea is a the holy book of this faith. The priests of Semorjon calim that it was divinely inspired. The story goes that when the world was still young, a fisherman found a nautilus shell and, when he put the shell to his ear, he had the the voice of Semorjon speak to him. Semorjon told him many great tales and bid he write them down. Those tales form the Book of the Sea which has been copied and handed down, generation to generation, for ten thousand years and more. So say the priests of Semorjon...

Symbols

The nautilus shell is the most holy symbol of this faith. It is sometimes depicted as an abstract geometric form. At other times, a real nautilus shell will be used in rituals and supplications. Sea priests of Semorjon often carry a nautilus shell with them.

Just as the shell is sacred, so is the nautilus itself. Living nautiluses are ofte kept as pet. In addition, each major temple will raise a giant specimen of the nautilus family. The "temple nautilus" is something of a pet to the sea priests. These monstrous creatures typically have 3 meter shells, tentacles that can reach out 6 meters and a body weight in excess of two tons. A temple nautilus lives in the pool of the temple. It is occasionally fed sacrifices.

Rituals

The sea priests of Semorjon face the open sea each day at low tide and high tide and pray.

The faithful are baptized in the sea. This involves a sea priest and the follower wading out waist deep into the sea. The sea priest pours sea water over the head of the new follower while praying to Semorjon to find the new believer worthy and to look after him during all his days on the sea.

Sacrifices are a common part of this faith. Sailors and those who live off the sea come frequently seeking favors. Fishermen want a good haul, sailors want a safe voyage, ship owners want their missing ship to return to port safely and so on. When any favor is asked of Semorjon, a living sacrifice must be made to the sea and a tithe must be paid to the sea priests. Typically a small animal, such as a rat or cat, is sacrificed. Drowning is the preferred method of sacrifice. The "living sacrifice" depends on the boon sought. A small favor, such as a successful sea voyage, might require only a small animal, such as a rat. A very large favor sought might require a dog, calf or even a horse. The greater the sacrifice, the more favorably impressed Semorjon is likely to be. Along with the living sacrifice, the sea priests will expect a proper tithe. This may range from a handful of copper coins to a bag full of gold coins, depending on who is seeking the favor of Semorjon and what it is they are asking.

On special occasions and for particularly important requests, the living sacrifice will not be drowned, but will instead be given to the temple nautilus. The temple nautilus is omnivorous and will devour the sacrifice. Enemies of the faith will also be fed to the temple nautilus as a way of punishing "infidels" and as a way of inspiring fear in those who oppose the temple.

One of the most well known rituals of this faith is known as the "Offering". It is a ritual conducted in many large sea towns, but most especially in the city of Freeport, where it is part of the Sea Festival. Prior to the Sea Festival, all of the ship owners and captains in the city will commission the fabrication of miniature replicas of their ships. Each captain is responsible for his own ship's replica. These replicas are fashioned from wicker reed obtained from a local variety of shrub. It is tradition that every ship that is to set sail that year must be "offered" in this ritual. The name of the ship is put on a tiny scroll which is placed inside the replica. A small candle is placed "on board" the replica as well. On the evening of the sixth day of the Sea Festival, all of the captains gather on the docks with their replicas. The candle in each is lit and all the replicas are cast adrift on the sea en masse. A priest of Semorjon creates a gentle current leading out to the center of the harbor. The replicas float out into the harbor in a long procession. This is the highlight of the festival. It is quite a spectacle to see several thousand candles adrift on the sea. It is a river of light on the dark waves. 

Within an hour or two of being released, the wicker replicas catch on fire, burn to the water level and the sea claims the ashes. In this way, Semorjon claims each ship. This "offering" is done to satiate the sea's hunger for ships. Semorjon, satisfied at having claimed a ship, will not strike out at that ship again. However, the sea has a poor memory and so the Offering must be made each year. It is considered good luck to participate in this ceremony. It is considered very bad luck to launch a ship without first granting the sea this boon. Most ship launchings are delayed until after this festival. Sailors will often refuse to sail on a ship that has not been "offered to the sea".

Ship captains in many lands will offer up their ship to the sea in this fashion. However, Freeport is the only city that makes a major event of it amidst their Sea Festival. It is the largest offering, by far, in the lands. There are sea captains who will travel great distances, arranging their schedules, so that they can be in Freeport for the Sea Festival and partake in that particular Offering.

Holy Days

Semorjon has no set holy days. Instead, every sea storm is a holy event. On these days, the temple sea priests will stand at the edge of the temple, facing out into the storm and recite prayers and chants to Semorjon. Sea priests on a ship or in a harbor will do likewise... facing the storm, chanting, singing and praying. Sea priests engaged in this act enter a frenzied, manic state of ecstasy. They will not answer to others and will become quite violent if their "communion with Semorjon" is interrupted. Sea priests have earned something of a reputation as mad men when sea storms strike. There is a saying... "only a fool stands between a sea priest and the storm".

Artifacts

The giant shells from the temple nautili are considered especially holy. Each temple will typically have two or three of them from previous temple pets. These giant shells are decorated and displayed in the temple.

Any powerful magic item which has enchantments related to the sea are considered holy. Temples will go to great lengths to obtain such an item for the temple. It does not matter if the item currently belongs to someone else. Sea priests will be reasonable, at first, and attempt to purchase the item, if necessary. If they are rebuffed, the sea priests may resort to more drastic methods.

 

The Clergy

Overview of the Clergy

The church of Semorjon is a brotherhood of "sea priests" who live and work in the temples of Semorjon, along side the ships and docks they minister too. Almost all sea priests are male. A female sea priest is a rare exception indeed. While most sea priests of Semorjon stay in the temples, some choose more adventuring lives and will sign on with ships, moving from port to port to further spread the word. Some larger vessels carry a sea priest as a permanent member of the crew who ministers to the needs of the crew, heals the sick, uses magic to bless and repair the boat, helps keep up morale and tell tales of sea adventure to entertain the crew.

The temple sea priests have many duties in the town. They are often called upon to bless a ship before a sea voyage. Such a blessing is always requested when a new ship is christened and sent on its maiden voyage. Temple sea priests also teach youths basic seamanship, swimming, knot tying and other nautical skills. The teachings of Semorjon are mixed in with the more mundane training. Some of the youths are recruited into the church and become sea priests of Semorjon.

In many fishing villages, newborns are blessed by dipping them in the open sea and when a person dies, their body is given to the sea. It is the sea priests who conduct both of these ceremonies.

And finally there are some sea priests who leave civilization behind and spend their final days living as hermits, communing with the sea. These are usually older sea priests who "hear the call of the sea". They will often load up a small boat with their possessions and leave quietly in the night. Some settle on a small island. Others live in sea caves. Eventually, these individuals will hear Semorjon call to them and they swim down to the bottom of the ocean to be with their lord.

It is tradition for a sea priest, regardless of their age or rank, to carry a "piece of the sea" with them. This is typically a small glass vial or metal flask, filled with seawater and worn on a leather thong about the neck. This vial becomes especially important to the sea priest if he is separated from the sea for a long time (such as a lengthy journey inland).

Divisions and Rank Structure

The priests of Semorjon have no official ranks. Age and experience are the only factors that form a hierarchy. The elder priests recruit and teach the younger. The priests of Semorjon have no honorifics or titles. They refer to themselves only as "brothers". As a priest serves the church, he is taught more and more of the mysteries of the sea and, in this way, his spells and abilities grow. First and foremost, sea priests are (obviously) experts at all things in the sea. They are excellent swimmers and mariners. They can identify virtually every plant and animal in the sea.

At the lower ranks, a sea priest has "long breath"... that is, the ability to hold his breath underwater for a long time. As their experience grows, they begin to learn to shape wind and water. At first, this is the ability to control sea currents, summoning minor currents and the like. They can also summon a gentle breeze. With time and training, they learn to shape wind and water into more fantastic shapes. An experience sea priest can cause water to shape into a watery tentacle or hurl huge spheres of water or even to cause waves to slam into a ship. They can summon strong winds or hurl an opponent to the ground with a burst of air.

Sea priests also gain the ability to communicate with creatures of the sea. At first, this involves merely sensing the presence of sea creatures. With experience, they learn to read the surface thoughts of sea creatures. This eventually shifts to being able to communicate with sea creatures telepathically. And finally, older, more experienced priest can control sea creatures by sheer force of will and cause them to do the priest's bidding. Some of the most powerful sea priests can ride sharks like steeds and coordinate the movement of schools of fish like a conductor.

Eventually sea priests learn to slip into their "sea shape". A sea priest learns the ability to change his physical form into that of a sea creature. The priest must choose what his sea form is and, once the skill is learned, can turn into that sea creature at will. Most sea priests choose to form into a large fish, shark, nautilus or octopus. While in his sea form, a sea priest can do everything the creature can (breather water, swim quickly, camoflauge, shoot out ink, etc). He retains his mind and memories, but cannot cast spells. This feat is exhausting and requires much magical energy. How long he can maintain the form and how often he can change is determined by how much magical energy and stamina he has. Typically, a sea priest can maintain the form for a total of about an hour each day.

This website was last updated November 26, 2017 . Copyright 1990-2017 David M. Roomes.

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