Once Atmah the World Serpent was worshiped as a powerful god of the sea. But as Thauma took over that role, Atmah’s religion changed. Today it is almost exclusively a philosophical faith. Atmah represents the natural principle of li, or harmony. With his body encircling the world, and his tail clenched in his maw, he is the beginning and the end, the perfect circle. Myth says that Atmah withdrew to the ocean depths to contemplate eternity, but followers of Atmahan know that he is not contemplating; he is eternity itself. Worshipers seek to attune themselves to that eternal essence, becoming one with Atmah.
Atmahan temples are rare outside of cities, and they are almost always centers of learning. The Great Library of Punj, which holds the largest collection of scrolls and artifacts in all of Wu-Yu and functions as a university, is part of the Grand Temple of the Serpent. It produces the most respected scholars and physicians in the known world.
In addition to lore and medicine, Atmahan also specializes in divination. Sophisticated instruments carefully track the movement of stars and other meteorological phenomena. Since ancient times the Empire has always ushered in the New Year with an omen pronounced by Atmahan’s Grand Seer. This is the one time that a high official is permitted to speak freely of the Emperor, whether good or ill. Of late, priests of the official Imperial cult, Thauma-Virun, have criticized the Grand Seer for unduly harsh predictions. In response, priests of Atmahan defend the Seer’s duty to speak the truth, convenient or otherwise.
With this reputation for divination, and the current controversy over the relative immanence of the end of the world (see Thauma-Virun and Tathatan for two sides of the debate), it is no surprise that people look to Atmahan for answers. The Grand Seer has come under great pressure from the Emperor to declare in favor of the Thauma-Virun position that the world is safe so long as Orcs remain in power. However, the current Grand Seer is no pushover. He has resolutely refused to rush an answer to the question. The fate of the world, he maintains, depends on the continued tracking of the Void Star, a hidden body known only from its influence on other stars. Tracking has taken thirty years; finally, this year’s data should be sufficient to complete calculations by the New Year. Everyone is waiting for the findings.
Followers of Atmahan do not consider gods to be real beings but rather abstract principles expressed allegorically through myth. Correspondingly, they do not worship as such. Rather, followers meditate, contemplate, and study the observable world. This, they hold, is the true essence of religion. All else is child’s play.
Myths and High Days
Atmah plays a key role in many myths important to other religions, including The Dance Upon the Back of Atmah of the Bharatan religion, and The Fishing Up of Atmah shared by Thauma-Virun, Tathatan, and Thaumatan. Atmahan scholars dutifully collect these stories, and deliver treatises on their multiple versions. But as for myths of the Atmahan religion itself, there are none. Instead, complicated philosophical systems are propounded to explain the world.
The high day of Atmahan is the Eve of the New Year, which occurs in the winter, after the solstice, on the last day of Twelfth Month. This is when the Grand Seer gives his omen for the Empire. Followers all over Wu-Yu observe with dinner parties and toasts to Truth. Another important time is the spring equinox, when scholars from all over gather to deliver treatises and debate controversies. The gathering occurs when travel is easiest, after the winter snows have melted but before the summer war campaigns have hit full swing.
|Primary Deity||Titles and Epithets||Archetypes||Followers|
|Atmah||World Serpent, Dragon Encircling the World, the Natural Principle, Ancestor of Dragon-kind||Sea God, Ruling Deity, Trickster||Philosophers, the educated elite, scribes, healers|
|Other Revered Deities||Enemy Deities/Religions||High Days||Typical worship acts|
|-||-||Eve of the New Year||Meditation, contemplation, study|
|Ethos||Virtues||Cult Skills||Holy Symbol|
|Study the observable world, attune to the essences of things, become one with eternity||Wisdom, sagacity, rationality, integrity||Courtesy, Literacy, Lore(Animal), Lore(Astronomy), Lore(Arcane), Lore(Mathematics), Lore(Plant), Lore(World), Lore(Other), Mechanisms||A circle with a cross dividing it into four quadrants|