Huh, it’s always kind of funny when you look at your original documents for something and realize that you originally named something, something else. So the “Society of Light” is more formally the “Church of the Lords of Light” but I can also see how “Society of Light” gets used more commonly…
Also known as the Church of the Lords of Light, the Society of Light is a group dedicated to a greater community of service with and to the Sarim, who are also known as the Lords of Light and as the Tutelary Princes of the Angelic Host. There are two primary supernatural groups that are respected and venerated by the members of the Society of Light – The Council of the Elect, those mortals whose service has been deemed extraordinary and have earned a place in the Deliberations of Heaven, and the Sarim, the Lords of Light which consist of the mostly highly ranked angels among the greater Host. But the true strength of the Society is that of the Household and Community, these are the common people and the their lives, that they organize in Service to the Light and the pursuit of its Great Work.
The Faith is organized with essentially four levels of devotional service and practice; the Individual Oaths, the Household of Faith, the Community of Service, and the greater Society of Light. Service to the Light, and the Oaths one has made in that Service are the cornerstones of the individual life, and laid atop the bedrock of the three Testaments of Faith. Service to the Light is performed on each level of an individual’s life, and membership within an active spiritual community is the optimal form of large scale worship and service.
Community Testaments of Faith (“Taking the Gold”):
- Always bearing a bladed weapon for the defense of the Community of Light.
- Men wear their beards long, in the bound Babylonian style, and both women and men wear their hair long. Hair is cut only for mourning and in death, both men and women, save for the Orders-Militant who are always clean-shaven and wear their hair close cropped. This represents the sense that are always in mourning due their constant state of war and constantly prepared for death. They also dress in some version or some layer of plain white linens, the burial shrouds that they are buried (also known as tachrichim).
- Always bear an ‘Argentos’ (Holy Symbol: a silver sword, Point down, with wings outspread from the hilt)
- The Cord. Always wear a triple-braided cord of silver, gold, and white, the length of the bearers body. It is the measure of their strength in body, in spirit, and community.
- Maintenance of the Epitaphion (tomb cloths) of the Saints, and participation in the Lamentation of the Grave (the Epitáphios Thrēnos) for the honored dead.
Household Testaments of Faith (“Taking the Silver”):
- A Flaming Chalice is to be maintained at all times in representation of the Light.
- Meals are to be shared as a celebration of Community of Light.
- Marriage: As a sign of devotion to the continuance of the Community of Light.
Individual Testaments of Faith (“Taking the White”):
- Chastity: For the discipline of the self and the Community.
- Prayer 3 times per day: Dawn,Noon, and Dusk. This is done as a Community, Household, and Individual Testament of Faith in the Society of Light. Individual prayer is standing and facing the sun, arms in open embrace.
- Learning and mastery of the holy and ritual language Aleph.
- Anointed with Chrism, in birth and in death.
There are somewhat subtle variations within the various Rites and Rules of the Society of Light. A “Rite” is the greater or overall set of laws and customs which bind members of the Society of Light by physical area of authority (also known as a Congregation), a “Rule” is the same by type of organization. For example there is a Kistathian Rite, an Istarian Rite, an Thulian Rite, etc. while at the same time there are Rules of the Orders Militant, the Orders Anchorite, and all sorts of other specific roles and organizations with both the Church of the Lords of Light and the Society of Light. All of these Rites and Rules are what make up the Church of the Lords of Light as a formal organization – and also represent how the Society has adapated to the different cultures that it has found itself embedded in. But there are other groups that fall outside of the Church of the Lords of Light such as the Warrior-Monk traditions (mostly famously the Warrior-Monks of Endor) or the Healers of Sc. Estor who answer directly to the Light itself and not to any mortal institution. These groups are considered to be part of the greater Society of Light even though they are not part of the organized Church of the Lords of Light.
Given the focus on marriage and chastity, it is also worth mentioning some greater specifics on the issues of sex and the customs of marriage. The Church of the Lords of Light does not condemn bisexuality any more or less than any other culture or those who follow the Old Faith or the En Khoda Theos Kirk. While the Society of Light encourages heterosexual marriage, and demands chastity, it accepts same-sex love and attraction as natural. The Istarian Rite focuses on heterosexual marriage with a chaste love for other partners – while allowing for multiple wives or husbands in a polygamous or polyandrous union. The Kistathian Rite permits and encourages group marriage focusing more on the happiness of the partners involved. Similarly, the Istarian Rite recognizes only lifelong marriage, with divorce only possible in the case of abuse or neglect while the Kistathian Rite allows divorce upon very little basis. Sexually the Society of Light is no more or less inhibited than the majority of the rest of Uerth While there are few Tantrics who belong to the Society, it is not unheard of. Sastra as an art is highly regarded in the Kistathian society and that is reflected in the Kistathian Rite, but the Heartlands are often considered less cosmopolitan in it’s acceptance of the art of sacred sexuality, and the Istarian Rite reflects that in turn. It’s notable that the smaller Loren Rite, from the southern Heartlands and highly influenced by the Old Faith, is much more accepting than the Istarian Rite.
Members of the Larger Community, but who have sworn no special oaths, and follow the observances of the Community (this includes the all three of the above Testaments) are referred to as: Brother and Sister. This is the humble title, which all members of the Society can use to speak with another, no matter what their other title may be. It is also used for any individual who serves the Light, be they a member of the Church of the Lords of Light or not.
Lay Members of Society, those who have taken Minor Orders, refer to each other and are referred to as Frater or Sorer. With a full compliment of Minor Orders and a Dean (see below) a Community is able to function within the Rule without a Lightbringer present and are able to maintain the spiritual health and well-being of the Community except in dire circumstances. The Minor Orders are as follows:
- Verger, the Master of Ceremonies
- Cantor, the Singer of Sacred Texts and Caller to Worship
- Sexton, responsible for Maintenance of Grounds and Graveyards
- Ostiarius, the Doorkeeper and Guardian of theTemple
- Exorcist, the Wardens of the Soul
- Acolytes, the Keepers of the Sacred Flame.
Each independent, local community is lead by a Dean, who may also have other titles but has not automatically taken Minor Orders – the role is more secular in nature than religious. The Dean is responsible for everyone within that particular community and is advised by their Lightbearer, the priest or priestess who serves that particular community, and it is not uncommon for the Dean to have taken Minor Orders at some point in the past, though the responsibilities of being Dean may very well preclude them acting in these roles. Deans, Heads-of-Households, respected Teachers, Leaders, and Elders, are commonly addressed as Dom or Domina.
Finally, those who have often been initiated into the greater Mysteries of the Society are addressed as Pater or Mater (Father or Mother) – though they may very well be addressed as Dom or Domina due to the respect given to them by virture of role or wisdom. This includes Lightbringers who have reached 3rd Level. Lightbringers are those that bear the Holy or Major Orders of ordained priesthood, and will have been granted each and every one of the Minor Orders as well in the course of thier studies. They are the direct representatives of the Sarim in the Mortal Realms, and they are looked to for guidance and wisdom in all matters as they spend much time studying the Enchiridion, which is the multi-volume holy texts of the Church.
That final piece stated, the Church of the Lords of Light is the organization that the various Orders, Rites, and Rules organize around, and that the organized hierarchy of Lightbringers, Archons and Devas belong to. Archons are the senior Lightbringers that are responsible for the spiritual well-being over cities or other large areas, and who are directly served by Lightbringers known as Deacons. The Council of Devas resides in Kistath and is the highest mortal authority of the Church, and they are served by a set of Lightbringers styled as Archdeacons who act as their voice and hand. There are a limited number of High Archons which technically defer to the Council of Devas, but since the Council sits in the Kistathian Empire the High Archon of a distant land often has far more autonomy than might be expected.