Ulm (Origo Mundi)
It is unknown where the name "Ulm" actually derives from. It's first mentioned in the Hymns of Nelrim, and possibly earlier in anecdotes attributed to Nelrim in his Hagiography. The most popular theory is that it derives from an obsolete Azoz word Earlm, which can mean alternatively peace, submission, holiness, or completion. Other theories suggest it derives from the Azouri word Oolem, meaning inspired wisdom (as opposed to Thot, the Azoz word for practical wisdom). One obscure theory supposes it is an acronym for Uluru Liam Maa ("men without chains"), but this is unlikely as Azoz had no concept of acronyms at the time. The later Edomite theologian Damashq wrote that Ulm is intentionally versatile across all languages and societies, that it can essentially mean whatever the people choose it to mean for their purposes.
The canonical Ulmian scriptures gives very little detail on any world history prior to the life of the Prophet Nelrim. Many unofficial or apocryphal stories would arise gradually over time, much of which were based on or integrated with the Pre-Ulmian religion, or Azouri Paganism. Later on in the Xeran Empire, these folklore would be distilled into an official corpus of Ulmian mythology, in parallel with theological commentaries from the Orthodox church.
The holy scriptures makes many disparate references to the creation of the world, which later theologians distilled into seven separate phases:
- The stars: "He stretched the night sky like a canopy, and lit the stars like a candle"
- The Sun and Moon: "the Moon He made from a patch of dust; the Sun he plucked from a cloud"
- The earth: "do you not know, that the mountains are God's boundary stones"
- The ocean: "the dwelling places in the deepest waters are also His"
- Plants and animals: "every green tree and herb, every creature that breaths life.... of His breath" (several verses omited)
- Human bodies: "bone of bone and flesh of flesh"
- Human minds: "You craft my every thought like a book"
The date of Creation is given as 5000 BR, or 5,000 years before the first revelation of Nelrim. Creation of the World is ascribed to the True God of Ulm (see theology below), but this can vary across some sects. Many early forms of Aposicism ascribed creation to Drokksid, the malevolent god of Ulm theology, whereas other branches of Aposicism attribute it to a greater, unknowable entity higher than both the True God and Drokksid. No explanation is ever given for the origin of Drokksid, and Orthodox Ulm theologians generally describe him as always existing, co-eternal to the True God in every way, and always his opponent. Some obscure texts of early Aposicism, however, mentions Drokksid as the True God's brother, who was originally good but fell into corruption. This supposed split happened 3,000 years before the Creation of the World.
Much mythology and folklore centers around the Samarra Culture (2200-450 BR), which tends to be described as a great empire that ruled the same boundaries of the Xeran rulers. The most famous story revolves around the city of 'Honnu', which reeked of hedonism and corruption for many years until the city was destroyed by the True God as an act of justice. Most historians tend to identify the city of Honnu with the ancient city of Non, the religious capital of the Samarra Culture that was abandoned sometime before Azoz was founded. Several rulers of the Samarra culture also appear in the corpus, the earliest account being the 'Parallel lives of Azoz Kings' by Kraltup. Its often hard to discern much information, however, as the only information given is in the context of comparing Samarra rulers to rulers of historical Azoz Kings.
Roshtam the Old, the oldest historical ruler of Azoz, is given a special place in Ulmian mythology. It was during this time that a henotheistic cult appeared within the Azouri Paganism, ascribing worship to only a single god, as well as rituals to ward off evil. This was considered to be the oldest appearance of Ulm, and the unnamed founders of the cult are attributed as prophets predating Nelrim. In 77 BR, two years before Roshtam died, a cow was given miraculous ability to speak, and spoke prophesies that foretold the coming of Nelrim and upheaval of the Azouri religion. This event, known as the Cow of Medan, is especially revered in Azoz, and is why the bull's head became one of the great symbols of the city.
The King Zohhak the Cruel, a generation before the coming of Nelrim, is given as a despicable hedonistic and perverse tyrant, virtually embodying everything contrary to Ulmian beliefs. He attempted to coerce a prophetess named Justine into his harem, but she was miraculously rescued by an angel, allowing her to afterwards curse the king with blindness. Around the same time, the prophet Arnold began the practice of anointing his disciples with oil, in preparation for the coming new religion.
Life of Nelrim
According to the Hagiography of Nelrim, his mother Lucretia was distantly related to the royal house, being a fourth cousin of Jamshid's half-sister. After receiving annunciation from an angel, she managed to escape from a series of temptations laid out by Drokksid during her journey from Medan up to Azoz. This was said to be the same time that Balerix attempted to besiege the city of Azoz in 34 BR, before his army was destroyed by a series of lighting strikes. The child was given the name of 'Nell Reim' or "spirit of god". He was also said to have laughed at being born, instead of crying, symbolizing his immunity from the pains of birth and death. Additionally, the prophets Arnold and Justine were still alive at this time to officiate the child's divine origin as well. Lucretia later also had a daughter named Cleonaia, who is only mentioned in passing in the Hagiography, but has a significant role across Apocist texts as a matriarchal prophetic messenger. Anystessean tradition considers her to be the matrilineal ancestor of Anystessea.
Not much is known of Nerlim's childhood except for the "Dream of Boddha" that occurred when he was 12 years old in 22 BR. Nelrim was originally chosen to become a priest of the Azouri pagan religion, until he encountered a vision underneath a Boddha tree outside of Azoz, which has since become a holy site. The True God appeared to Nelrim in the dream in the form of a great furnace and forge, which opened up in the sky and filled the whole heavens. God explained to Nelrim warnings against Drokksid and his call to become a prophet. A piece of brimstone fell from the furnace and struck Nelrim's foot, making him lame on that foot the rest of his life. This impairment caused him to be turned down from priestly training, and instead became a clerk at the Temple of Azoz. Contrariwise, apocryphal biographies of Nelrim from aposicist origin tend to describe him as superhuman in agility and strength, so exactly how much of this infirmity was mere metaphor is uncertain.
Nelrim's public ministry occurred from 4 BR-1 AR, during which time he would travel around various cities to preach, organize his disciples, and perform healing miracles. The Hagiography of Nelrim accounts for many such miracles of healing and exorcisms, centered around the same themes of resurrection and renewing of the body. The most famous such miracle was the contest between High Priest Janus and the Prophet, both trying to raise a boy from the dead. Having succeeded in this contest, Nelrim's popularity grew considerably during the early months of 1 AR. His disciples were organized into groups led by the original Seven Apostles, who would see towards the anointing rites of initiation. The success of Nelrim's popularity can be attributed to his emphasis on humanism and equality, presenting a more Utopian image of community than the previous years of war and insurrection that Azoz recently suffered. His apostles reflected this diversity, as four were native Azouri and three came from Frasnoq, in addition that they came from a variety of backgrounds of occupation and class.
Eventually, Nelrim was falsely accused of sedition and executed, by orders of High Priest Janus and the King Husiang, in 1 AR. Nelrim was sentenced to hang by the neck, but he reportedly continued to utter prophesies up until his death. His body was laid out in a coffin publicly for seven days, and in that spot is a large monument on the holy site in the Old City of Azoz. On the seventh day, Nelrim was miraculously resurrected, his body glowing white without any imperfections. The Hagiography, as well as all other versions of the account, go on to describe Nelrim personally leading armies to wage a civil war against King Husiang, eventually extinguishing the old regime by 3 AR. The pagan priesthood was allowed to continue, as long as they renounced the old religion and embrace Ulm, and converting the previous pagan temples into Basilicas.
Nelrim is described in all versions of the account to have ruled over Azoz directly for seven years, until his ascension into heaven in 9 AR. Effectively, however, this theocracy of Azoz was ruled equally by Ramu, the chief of Nelrim's Apostles, and Nelrim's mother Lucretia. Ramu was declared the first Holy Patra of Azoz in 6 AR, which remained the highest religious office to this day. After Nelrim's ascension, Ramu appointed Taulet (or Thalut) to be the first Ulmian King, establishing the precedent of church and state that has remained effectively the same ever since. Pockets of paganism still persisted in the kingdom during both the reigns of Nelrim and Taulet, often explained in the scriptures as being executed by divine judgement.
Nelrim is never historically known to be married; however, he is accredited one daughter named Aya, who later married the Holy Patra Ramu. According to the most popular tradition, based on an ambiguous passage in the Hagiography of Nelrim, the Prophet deposited his blood by a cedar tree for three days, and on the third day an infant grew out of the base of the tree. This line of descendants from Nelrim and the tree, while mostly being related to subsequent Holy Patras of Azoz, are also matrilineally related to the later Derigi Dynasty. This story is also expounded upon in early Nerlimic literature as a symbol of the resurrecting power of the True God, which turned the smallest seed of one man into an entirely new source of life.
- Ramu, chief of the Apostles, the Holy Patra of Azoz
- Vedun, Patra of Syres
- Demetry, Patra of Eskaladun
- Landrew, Patra of Xüonai
- Proditiam, Patra of Darna
- Ishbakin, Patra of Edom
- Prackyob, Patra of Niani
The first region of focus in Ulm evangelism was Azoz itself. The new system of government helped to ensure the complete restoration of the city after the civil war, and with it a complete rebirth of the nation's culture ensued. Frasnoq was an object of evangelism for much of Azoz's history, and although they eventually did convert to the religion, the cultural differences between the two was the cause of future rift. Much of the previous Azouri pagans fled to the south, and intermixed with the local religion to create the sect of heretical Ulm known as Drokksidites. Demetry is revered for bringing the gospel to the western coast, establishing the church in Eskaladun. The Holy Patra Toneth (r.28-51 AR), third from Ramu, was quick to intervene in the Neumite Civil War (41-46 AR), in support of the Ulmian candidate Lóegaris. This facilitated Ulm into that region, as Lóegaris helped construct the first Basilica in Neum.
Syres is traditionally considered the first nation to convert to Ulm, which occurred during Nelrim's theocratic rule over Azoz. Apocryphal books and local folklore heavily supports the tradition that Nelrim personally visited Syres, his itinerant path throughout the city marked by various shrines and Basilicas to this day. The most famous is "Nelrim's Rock" on the southern peninsula of the island, where supposedly Nelrim himself ascended into heaven to receive further visions from God. Early splits of sects in Ulm would quickly prove short lived at this early stage. The disciple Antionah enforced a prohibition against eating fish, which antagonized the merchant class of Syres and ultimately brought violent persecution of the church there. After he died in 21 AR, at the end of the Zedisladanan War, his sect quickly disappeared. Hadan, the second Patra of Syres, was known to first declare Syres to be an Ecumenical Patriarchy in the year 39 AR. When the Syresian colony of Canim was first established in 85 AR, it quickly became populated as an Ulmian settlement, which remained the predominant belief all the way through Darnan suppression many centuries later.
Levian (32 BR-43 AR), a Syresian immigrant to the city of Neum, preached that Nelrim was completely incorporeal, and denounced the Ulmian emphasis on resurrection of the physical body. Nelrim himself appeared to Levian in a vision in 8 AR, proving for him to testify that he in fact had a physical body. Subsequent to this spiritual experience, Levian became the foremost apostle of the Ulm religion outside of Azoz, traveling all over the known world preaching the gospel. His first ministry, from 12-19 AR, he traveled through the nations of Xüonai and Darna, establishing churches despite suffering much persecution, and eventually settled in the city of Nykos in Mesallia. It was at this point that Levian wrote most of the canonical epistles attributed to him, particularly his works on reconciling the Lemantarian theology with that of Ulm. The rich history of Mesallia corroborates with the scriptural Hagiography of Levain, particularly his confrontation with the King Massini VI and subsequent assassination attempt.
Levian's second missionary journey proceeded from Nykos in 21 AR, and continued to 27 AR. He moved through Lysandria and Ridon, and back to Nykos before returning to the church he established in Darna. In Darna he was captured and imprisoned in the mines there as a slave, until he was miraculously rescued by an angel. Draco he appointed as the new Patra of Darna, Titheos was made his successor as the Patra of Nykos. Ignapius, the second Patra of Lysandria, is attributed as the author of Levian's hagiography, and thereby one of the great authors of Ulmian scriptures.
Landrew is the only other apostle whose life is documented in the original holy scriptures, known as the Martyrdom of Landrew. His signs and miracles in Xüonai would directly challenge the local Unäo religion, that eventually would die out only a hundred years later. The Ninety-Nine Martyrs of Ensoyiwi, which frustrated Yannis' attempt to suppress religious growth in Xüonai, are particularly well known, leading up to Landrew's ultimate execution in 36 AR. At the end of the Martyrdom, it describes that Landrew's neck spurted milk instead of blood, being symbolic of his nurture for the church, and the High Priest of Unäo was struck with leprosy. He was succeeded in his office as Patra of Xüonai by his disciple Tidore. Yannian sources describe widespread and violent actions taken to "cleanse the city" from the infiltration of Landrew's church throughout the 30s AR, and became a facet of Yannian policy for the next generation. The obscurity of sources on the Yannian continent make assessments unclear, but the collapse of the Unäo religion and widespread suppression by Yannis does suggest that Ulm had more impact on that region than any other nation at the time.
Prackyob, the last of the original apostles of Nelrim, established the church in the kingdom of Niani, the closest church to Yannis besides the preaching of Landrew. After preaching to the lower classes of Niani for many years, Prackyob retreated to a mountain hermitage in 52 AR, and there experienced the great vision written in the Apocalypse of Prackyob.
After the Nykosian Wars (57-74 AR), Ulmian disciples had been forcefully spread out from their original centers in Nykos and Lysandria to various other parts of the Mesallian Peninsula, causing much further spread of the religion to neighboring regions. Although the regions were already familiar with the religion at this point, the exodus caused a great surge of new believers, in many cases displacing the previous religions of individual cities. In Seita, King Gillian the Anointed converted to the faith in 95 AR. The theocratic state of Ulmaxares was established across the three cities of eastern Mesallia, namely Descalos, Ghanis and Nerimos. Their first ruler, Xeralevian (or Xeras Levian), constructed the new city of Leveia in 116 AR, which later served as the capital of the Ulmian theocracy. By the time the state changed to the Kingdom of Sephimora in 144 AR, it had established its own sect of Ulm known as Enulmism.
The surge of believers in Edom began at the start of the second century AR, as described in famous Edomite authors such as Dameshq and Lebanus. The Maleka of Edom was initially hostile towards the religion, particularly due to frequent wars with Ulmaxeres, but was unable to act on it immediately due to their large presence in the capital, and the eastern half of the kingdom. In spite of their popularity, however, the Ulmian church in Edom proved to be a sharp contrast to those in Azoz due to the vast cultural differences. The Neo-Aposicist movement first spread from Syres in the 90s AR and quickly took hold in Edom, carrying with it their corpus of apocrypha. The city of Pahnam was the oldest center of aesthetic lifestyle inspired from the Ulmian scriptures, although it remained almost undiscovered from its foundation in 110 AR until the modern era. The Edomite church is considered the home of Ulmian monasticism, and had always maintained an aesthetic lifestyle above all other sects. The Orthodox Ulmian church's failure to enforce the canon of scripture in Edom became the precedent of Ulm becoming a much more decentralized religion. The Shanzian branch of Ulm first appeared in the 130s AR, and this proved to be the perfect blend of culture that led to Edom's conversion throughout the rest of the century. Even in the "Massacre of the Innocents" in 155 AR, the Shanzian branch of Ulm proved to be largely ignored.
Ulm was able to spread much faster once it became the official religion of the imperial state under the Chatna and Xeran dynasties. The Apostle Andronicus was the first to spread the Ulm faith to the far eastern land of Silla in the fourth century AR, although Ulm already had some presence in the lands of Irrosia and Exhula at that time. Monastic tradition was also favored among the churches that was planted in Phorintheon and the Angelite Islands, in spite of persecution from the Yannian empire. It was around this same point, in the late fourth century AR, that Ulm began to become the majority religion in some nations outside of Azoz, namely states like Syres, Neum, Edom and Erasidon.
Ulm is dualistic, and strongly believes the contrasts of good and evil on earth are reflections of an ongoing struggle between two opposing forces in the spiritual world. Ulm is also strictly monotheistic, and solely worships a single deity as the creator and sustainer of the universe. The god of Ulm is always referred to as the "True God", or as it is referred to in the Azoz language, Verenell. The God of Ulm is completely transcendent and incorporeal, disconnected with the created world in any direct way, but nonetheless carries an eternal responsibility and compassion for His creation. The malevolent forces of the cosmos are personified as the deity Drokksid, the complete antithesis of God in every way, being co-eternal but significantly weaker in power. The goal of each of these entities is the destruction of the other one, and undisputed mastery over the universe.
Now these details can vary slightly between certain sects of Ulm. Aposicists hold that Drokksid, the evil god, was the creator of the physical world, even though the True God is the truly righteous deity. The Shanzian sect believes that the True God is strictly female in gender, although Drokksid is not ascribed to any specific sex. The original Ulmian literature suggested that God was genderless, although the works of Nelrim would always use male pronouns. The appearance of Shanzianism sparked a reactionary movement among Azoz theologians, which held a stronger view on God being a strictly male gender. The Eastern Church in Silla likewise believes that God is genderless, although the Holy Mother Anystesses is believed to be the physical incarnation of God in female form. Similarly, the Enulmian sect holds beliefs on God manifesting in physical form, as they ascribe to a system of reincarnation for God and his followers.
Drokksid is considered to be the ultimate author of chaos and destruction wherever it is seen in the world, from natural disasters to everyday mistakes of judgement. Any pagan religion, completely separate from the worship of the True God, is considered to be worship of Drokksid, often disguised under different names or identities. The Theology of Priapas utilized this concept immensely, describing the Yannian Religion as being solely based on the worship and obedience to Drokksid. Likewise, the Problem of Evil in Ulm is explained as being the fault of Drokksid, who the True God tries to abate as best he can but can only achieve so much.
The True God is assisted by a host of lesser beings, known as angels. Most theological texts describe these angels as being unintelligent, incorporeal beings, being solely under the direction of God as one might train a dog or horse. Even so, these angels are often shown in scriptures to perform superhuman feats and abilities, usually in the form of passing through walls, becoming invisible, or casting illusions. Angels are directed at conducting certain tasks on Earth, such as guarding specific prophets, kings, or holy men, or administrating certain aspects of nature such as stars or mountains.
Many angels are also described as being under the control of Drokksid, but they are mentioned far less often in scripture. Scholars generally suspect that most angels mentioned in scriptures are reinterpreted stories of lesser pagan gods, imported from the Pre-Ulmian Azouri religion. In the epistles of Levian, Lemanter is described as an angel, being in charge of leading the dead souls to afterlife of either heaven or hell, and also appearing in people's dreams. These descriptions, being a part of inspired scripture, lends to the ongoing suggestion of theologians that the Lemantarians are actually a sect of Ulm.
Ulm theology holds equal significance towards both the soul and the body in a symbiotic relationship, as both are created by the True God separately in the last two phases of Creation. The soul is the perfect version of the body, and thus becomes the catalyst towards restoring each body to a flawless state. This is referred to as the Doctrine of Consistent Resurrection. In general, the concept of resurrection and restoration of the physical world through spiritual means is a very large aspect of Ulm, and becomes a key focus for much of its philosophy. As the oldest almanacs began to be published during the Xeran Empire, they would frequently dedicate prayers and hymns in it for farmers to connect their cycle of agriculture to that of consistent resurrection.
This doctrine, however, is not always consistent among sects of Ulm, and is generally opposed by the Aposicist churches. Aposicists teach that the physical realm is totally evil, being the foremost creation of Drokksid, and the souls in the spiritual world are the only righteous entities in existence. This complete disregard for the physical world became a principle foundation for the practice of Ulmian monasticism.
The ongoing struggle between Drokksid and the True God is considered to be the ultimate form of the struggle between good and evil on earth. Nelrim's principle message was that the True God offers resurrection to all those that follow Him in the faith of Ulm, completely overcoming both death and decay. These souls that are resurrected are essentially recruited in a spiritual military, giving more edge over the fight against evil. Drokksid, meanwhile, recruits souls for his military as well through his various false religions; however, unlike the True God, Drokksid is ultimately opposed to the concept of resurrection or restoration, but instead has the sole goal of destroying God and all life in the universe. Theologians would later expound that God does not necessarily need any help to destroy Drokksid, as He is ultimately more powerful. Rather, He creates this army of souls for the sake of the physical world, to ensure the Earth is protected from both Drokksid and his followers.
The Resurrection of Nelrim himself in Azoz is by far and away the most revered and sacred event in the entire history of Ulm, having split the calendar itself between BR (Before the Rising) and AR (After the Rising) [the conversion is 1 AR = 116 CE]. Nelrim is considered to have been the "First-fruit of the Harvest", as he was the first to experience resurrection that all followers of Ulm after him are promised. The exact day of Nelrim's resurrection, near the start of the calendar year, is the holiest day in the entire calendar, situated at the planting season of the Spring Equinox.
The next phase of the apocalypse describes that the Gospel of Nelrim is revealed to all nations on Earth simultaneously, as a result of the Risen Redeemer. However, apostasy and corruption is seeped into the churches by the efforts of Drokksid, causing much confusion and disturbances. Finally, at the End of Time a war is launched that is fought simultaneously in Heaven, Earth, and all spiritual realms and worlds. Every nation, ruler, family, soul, angel, and spiritual form of every creature is involved in this battle, all siding either with the armies of the True God or with Drokksid. Nelrim himself appears in the sky riding on a horse made of fire, and lighting coming from his eyes. The starts are burned as fuel for a great forge in Heaven, manufacturing more weapons for the army. Once the war is concluded, Drokksid and all his hosts and followers are cast into a pit of darkness. A new Heaven and New Earth are created, using all weapons and tools that previously existed now re-purposed for the created order. The True God dwells on Earth personally in a great palace called New Azoz, and gives light to all His followers as replacement for the Sun.
Many controversies exist between sects of Ulm to interpret exactly what some aspects of these visions mean. Some sayings of Nelrim mention that Azoz will face destruction multiple times before judgement, but its not clear if this is an event related to the apocalypse, or happens sometime before it. Critically speaking, the context of these passages was always a further demonstration of God's plan of resurrection, as the city itself needed to be restored from death as well. Of particular mystery is the identification of the "Risen Redeemer". The earliest and possibly most famous candidate of this title was Xeralevian (Xeras Levian), the founder and first ruler of the theocratic state Ulmaxeras. When the Nelrimic scriptures were translated into the Sillan language, the word "Risen" was translated instead to mean the "Rising Sun", i.e. the Orient, thus rendering the name "The Eastern Redeemer". Some scholars claim this to be a more accurate translation, as the poetry of the passage is meant to complement the "Western ships" mentioned later. Liger, the founder of the Ligerians, also claimed to be the Redeemer, although in a very different portrayal due to the difference of the Ligerian canon of scripture. Minimalist theologians tend to interpret the "Risen Redeemer" to just be Nelrim again, and the second half of the Apocalypse is actually the same as the first half, just described in different language.
This study of the Resurrection and Judgement day became of particular importance to the early theologian Priapas, the Holy Patra of Azoz, from whom the "Theology of Priapas" is named. This theology was directly aimed to be a socio-political commentary on the state of the known world, particularly the ongoing conflict that existed between the nations allied with Yannis and those allied with Azoz. For Priapas, Yannis is the perfect form and reflection of Drokksid on Earth, and their avatar for his works and destruction in opposition against the True God. Up until that point, the disciples of Nelrim indiscriminately spread the Gospel to every nation they met, in expectation of bringing peace and unity just as they had successfully brought reconciliation between Azoz and Frasnoq. For Priapas, however, not only was Yannis irredeemable, but every nation influenced or allied with Yannis was similarly on the side of destruction and Drokksid. Just as eternal life and judgement day can only be achieved through the destruction of Drokksid, so too did Priapas argue that Ulm will never survive until Yannis was completely destroyed.
He went on to give an argument by analogy, and compiled a list of traits that Yannis held that were the complete diametric opposite of the traits of Ulm. Chief among these traits were their mode of worship in Temples instead of Basilicas, and their evangelization through fear instead of love. The "Annointed One" of Yannis, he argued, was the direct counterpart to the Prophet Nelrim, being a kind of false prophet in direct communion with Drokksid himself. It is important to note that, during the time of Priapas, knowledge of Yannis was extremely limited in the city of Azoz, and so much of his assessments come from third hand sources and generalizations. Although a lot of what he said may be corroborated through Yannian sources, some scholars argue that these sources were heavily influenced by the Ligerian cult, who had the motivation of portraying Yannis as living up to the standards that Azoz portrayed them to be.
Many prophets are mentioned in the Holy Scriptures, the most famous being those of Justine and Arnold that flourished the generation prior to Nelrim. However, none of these prophets are considered to have written anything, aside possibly from some obscure texts by the Aposicists, which are entirely lost except their titles. Nelrim is unofficially referred to as the "Last Prophet", although canonical scripture does make references to one or two prophets living in the generation immediately after Nelrim as well. Some of the founders of other Nelrimic Religions, including Enulmism, Anystesseseans, and Ligerians, are also considered prophets with limited recognition. The original Seven Apostles, the first immediate disciples of Nelrim, are not considered to be prophets themselves, but were chosen to be the "Deliverers of Prophesy", as documenting inspired scripture given on behalf of Nelrim from God. Levian of Syres, although not one of the original seven apostles, was made an apostle by Nelrim after his resurrection.
The first scriptures were written by Nelrim himself, which were quickly followed by the Epistles of Ramu and Levian in the next generation, in the 20s AR. These epistles were generally written for the purpose of establishing corrections and precedent in the order and morale of the church, suggesting how much more centralized Ulm governance was at this time than after the apostolic era. This is largely because the words of the original Apostles were generally unquestioned. At the same time, the sudden popularity of Ulm and Nelrim across the continent of Letsia led to the development of many apocryphal texts and folk traditions, mostly popularized by Syres and the Old Aposicists in Edom. Around the early 40s AR, this began to spark a movement among the original Apostles that were still alive, to start properly documenting their lives and testimonies in a more concrete fashion.
The oldest such book is the Martyrdom of Landrew in 40 AR, whose fantastic story-telling acts more as a bridge between the older folklore tradition and the later proper history. The Martyrdom was likely written by his succeeding Patra Tidore, during the time he was exiled in the city of Syres. The Hagiography of Levian was written by his chief disciple Ignabius two years before Levian's death, which is formatted as a letter of appeal to the skeptical King Massisni VI of Nykos. Ignabius would go on to write several epistles of his own, which are all authentic but not considered inspired. Finally, the official Hagiography of Nelrim was written by Ishbakin sometime in the mid 40s AR, meant to be a concise way of delivering the Gospel to the foreign people of Edom. After the Apocalypse of Prackyob in 52 AR, apocryphal works continued to still persist, prompting a movement in Azoz to compile an official list of books that can be considered inspired scripture. This ecumenical council created the list below in the year 62 AR.
At the onset of the Neo-Aposicist movement in the early 2nd century AR, the Orthodox Ulm church worked to crack down on the variety of apocryphal literature. The support of apocryphal texts as inspired scripture was considered blasphemous, and many books were destroyed across both Azoz and the various churches in Syres and Mesallia. However, for the most part this movement failed to enforce a strict canon on the whole of the Ulmian church, and caused one of the chief precedents for the decentralization of Nelrimic religions in general. In the Second Council of Azoz in 210 AR, it was declared that non canonical apocrypha can be tolerated in the church as long they did not violate basic theological tenants. This principle was left unchallenged until the appearance of the Ligerians many centuries later.
|Title (Abbreviation)||Presumed Author||Appr. Date||Location Written||Length|
|Hagiography of Nelrim (Nel.)||Ishbakin the Evangulist||45 AR||Edom||28 ch.|
|Wisdom of Nelrim (Wis.)||Nelrim the Prophet||4 BR-1 AR||Azoz||45 ch.|
|Hymns of Nelrim (Hym.)||Nelrim the Prophet
Rukebab the Righteous
|Written 4 BR-1 AR
Compiled 8 AR
|Hagiography of Levian (Lev.)||Ignabius of Nykos||41 AR||Lysandria||21 ch.|
|First Epistle to the Lysandrians (1 Lys.)||Levian the Apostle||17 AR||Nykos||16 ch.|
|Second Epistle to the Lysandrians (2 Lys.)||Levian the Apostle||23 AR||Nykos||13 ch.|
|Epistle to the Nykosians (Nyk.)||Levian the Apostle||27 AR||Neum||9 ch.|
|First Epistle of Ramu (1 Ramu)||Ramu the Holy||20 AR||Azoz||5 ch.|
|Second Epistle of Ramu (2 Ramu)||Ramu the Holy||24 AR||Azoz||4 ch.|
|Martyrdom of Landrew (Lan.)||Tidore of Lhynui||40 AR||Syres||12 ch.|
|Apocalypse of Prackyob (Apoc.)||Prackyob the Mason||52 AR||Niani||22 ch.|
|Canon of Scripture||various||62 AR||Azoz||175 chapters|
Human life and human dignity are foremost in importance to Ulm, and most doctrines of ethics in all Ulmian sects revolve around the humanistic basis. This is generally tied to the Ulm doctrines of continuous resurrection, since the physical world is redeemed by the spirit, so too is physical society redeemed by a spirit of morality. Slavery is considered one of the worst taboos of society, being closely associated with the Pre-Ulmian religion of Azouri paganism.
Ulmian Jurisprudence was first developed during the Ebony Era, although it's possible some ethical codes were written by the Seven Apostle that were later lost. Jurisprudence are meant to be direct interpretations of Holy Scripture, almost entirely based on the Wisdom of Nelrim with some support from the epistles of Ramu and Levian. This jurisprudence are divided into two groups: Law of Commission and Law of Omission. Laws of omission are acts against people that are forbidden by the religion, such as murder, sexual harassment, physical abuse, abortion, and use of narcotics. Laws of commission are acts that are encouraged among believers, which are considered to be a joint commission, such as charity, generosity, tolerance, and grace. These sets of laws are considered to be separate from Canon Law, exclusive to the church, as well as Civil Law, exclusive to the state.
Warfare for the sake of religion is one of the only acts of violence which is in some way accepted by Ulm. The Wisdom of Nelrim describes how war can be justified if it is for the sake of tearing down a corrupt or dangerous institution, because doing so would preserve more life and spread the faith: "one may draw blood as in the way of a physician, with only enough loss to heal the whole body". Generally speaking, any warfare between Ulmian nations, even of different sects, is considered unthinkable. The Theology of Priapas goes a step further, encouraging that Ulmian nations must work together to fight back against nations that are instead allied with Drokksid.
Ulm’s emphasis on humanity has led to two main consequences on society: first, churches of Ulm in all sects universally practice acts of charity, altruism and liberality, in the expectation that consistent acts of kindness and love will endear more people to the faith. Second, societies based on Ulm almost universally favor humane, wholesome practices for running the state. Almost any kind of plan or action that involves debasing human dignity or endangering human life, no matter how beneficial, is considered completely unacceptable.
Practice of science in Azoz, as well as Ulmian communities in Edom, Mesallia and Syres, are inexplicitly tied to religious doctrine. This scientific method is based on Foundational Reasoning: Any idea or theory must be proven by a sequence of unbroken logical steps based on previously-proven ideas. As this method cannot be circular, then any given theory or concept is inherently weaker than the ideas that it is dependent on for proof. Even observational studies, supported by experimentation, are considered to be inferior compared to objective logical reasoning.
This epistemology of Foundational Reasoning, in turn, is enhanced by the concept of First Principles. As every theory must be proven by sets of superior, more fundamental ideas, then ultimately every idea and concept can be broken down to a set of completely original assumptions. These sets of assumptions or axioms are collectively called First Principles. Even the process of logical reasoning itself, at some point, can be broken down into a set of assumptions tied to these same first principles.
As a consequence of Foundational Theology, scientific development in Azoz is considered to be wholly subject to interpretation of scripture, as scripture itself is held up to be superior to First Principles of science. At the same time, however, ideas developed by science are always considered to be independent of theology, and there is never any necessity to use science in a way to “prove” or “verify” concepts of Ulm. Such an attempt would be circular logic, as science is ultimately based on theology, then trying to prove theology with science would inevitably prove to be illogical.
The organization of the Ulm Religion is a reflection of the organization of Nelrim’s disciples during his ministry. Nelrim the Prophet is ultimately considered the head of the church, as he had directly led the organization of the believers both during his lifetime and during the theocratic interregnum. Even after Nelrim ascended into heaven in 9 AR, he is still considered to be the ultimate authority over all sects and churches of Ulm simultaneously. After Nelrim’s resurrection, he delegated authority through the original Seven Apostles during the theocratic interregnum, with Ramu the Holy being the chief of the apostles. As the faith of Ulm spread across the known world during the apostolic era, these original disciples would appoint successors to administrate each church located at a given metropolitan.
These metropolitan leaders of the churches, then are called 'Patras', or "Holy Father". In spite of early attempts for centralized authority over Ulm, these Patras essentially act independent from each other. However, five Patras in particular are given the most respect and authority over the branches of Ulm in the western world, known as the Pentarchy: Azoz, Syres, Nykos, Iskandaria, and Neum. Among these five, the Holy Patra of Azoz is always given the most respect and loose de facto authority, as he is the successor of Ramu. Aposicist and Enulmian branches, however, tend to consider the Patra of Iskandaria the head of the church. In Syres, the Holy Patra additionally has the title of “Ecumenical Patriarch”, which is unique to that polity. Any one of these Pentarchal Patriarchs are capable of calling Ecumenical Councils, which make official doctrinal or theological policy over the church as a whole.
The Holy Patra is considered to have authority superior to the Emperor, as has been the tradition since King Taulut of Azoz was appointed by the Holy Patra Ramu. However, the Holy Patra does not have any authority to own land or delegate any secular laws, creating a kind of balance of power between church and state. Patras may be married when they take office, but they are forbidden from pursuing marriage of any kind while in office. Orthodox Ulm has strictly male Patras, but on the whole most sects do not have any policy on gender.
Individual church congregations, which participate in a single basilica, are taken care of by a local Parson, who is also in charge of organizing the liturgy and discipline in that Basilica. Parsons are under the direction and discipline of his corresponding Patra, but he may also appeal to other Patras if he suspects any corruption or incompetence with his own. Secular matters related to the Basilica, such as purchase of lands, organization of funds and charity, are under the control of a local Deacon. Deacons can be male or female, and have no restriction on their marriage. Apostles and abbots are also under the employment of specific Patras, although with a great deal of autonomy. Apostles are able to appoint new Patras in newly-converted metropolitans, given a direct blessing given from an existing Patra.
Initiation into Ulm is considered to be lifelong and unbreakable. If someone specifically denounces the religion and leaves the church, no re-anointing is necessary if he returns. He Holy Patra Toneth specifically declared that compelling people to be re-anointed is considered heretical. In cases of believers breaking canon law or Ulmian Jurisprudence, he can be disciplined up to complete excommunication of his family. Even during this excommunication, however, his anointing is still never considered to be terminated.
Ulmians worship in Basilicas, which are large public buildings adorned in a variety of classical or baroque art. Such art is considered intrinsically necessary for worship, in line with passages in scripture that refers to the "beauty of God’s dwelling". The basilica also must be large enough to accommodate all members of its given community simultaneously. A Basilica is considered to be the closest to a physical presence of God on Earth, just the same as a temple in Pre-Ulmian Paganism and other polytheistic religions. However, unlike a temple the Basilica is meant to accommodate believers of every class, and have all people of Ulm worship in the direct presence of God. This is, once again, meant to reflect the doctrines of continuous resurrection, as the flawed physical bodies of the believers are redeemed to stand in the presence of God.
Worship for Ulmians generally follows a standard liturgy, organized on an annual basis by the local Patra. The original liturgy, according to tradition, was written by the generation of Seven Apostles themselves, but was lost in the Ebony Era. Instead, each metropolitan generally interprets their own unique set of liturgy. These generally take hymns given directly in the Holy Scriptures, adapted into more contemporary forms of music.
Certain feast days exist throughout the year, which are public holidays in remembrance of significant religious events. Among these holidays include the Rising of Nelrim, (spring equinox), the Dream of Boddha (summer solstice), the Day of Creation (autumn equinox), and the Nativity of Nelrim (winter solstice). No public work is allowed on these days, and instead is encouraged to be a time of generosity, reunion of families, and acts of philanthropy.
Ulmian society strongly believes in moderation in every aspect of life, no matter how good or bad it may be. Even in terms of things like money or power, Ulmians see the most noble act is to be neither too much nor too few of it. This is most commonly seen as a practice by the middle or higher classes of society, who have more of capability of moderating their personal possessions. This is the mindset that is consistently given throughout the Holy Scriptures in Ulm. Typically, followers of Ulm tend to manifest this temperance in a behavior that is more stoic than merely moderate.
Alcohol in almost all forms are taken in very small amounts. The most common use of alcohol tends to be heavily diluted date wine, for purposes of hydration or preservation. Sex is strictly monogamous and heterosexual, and even then it is encouraged to be in fair moderation. However, incest is usually permissible from the church, and monogamous sex outside of procreation is tolerated. Arranged marriages are commonly practiced across middle and upper classes with church oversight, but only for those over the age of 15 years old. Clothes are always expected to be modest, more strictly enforced over women than men. There are many exceptions to this, however, given various regional cultures and customs. A traditional head-covering tend to be used by women in Azoz and surrounding regions as far as Eskaladun and Umbhala.
As a result of this emphasis on moderation, hedonism and excessive pleasure is seen as universally taboo. Uses of drugs and narcotics are strictly forbidden by Ulmian Jurisprudence as highly as other bodily sins. Prostitution likewise is generally eschewed, being seen as not only hedonistic but a shadow of the former culture of slavery. Much Ulmian mythology that vilifies specific individuals, most famously King Zohhak the Cruel, will always depict them as excessively indulgent and epicurean. During the Xeran Empire, certain taxes would also exist to specifically enforce an overindulgence on either money or property, which would be redistributed to the Churches.
During military or diplomatic expeditions from an Ulmian nation, the leaders of that military carry the automatic responsibility for spreading the Gospel to every foreign region, as well as constructing Basilicas. Because Ulmian nations are expected to never go to war with each other, then in theory the only military campaigns conducted by a believing nation is into regions that have not yet been shared the Gospel.
The specific clerical office in charge of evangelism is the Apostle. An apostle is granted authority for preaching in specific regions by a Patra. However, his authority in that region is supposed to operate as an ambassador on behalf of the Prophet himself. The mission of each apostle is to educate the local population to read and write, and then carefully translate the Holy scriptures into that local language as faithfully as possible. The Apostle takes sole responsibility to organize the congregation of the region until they are substantial enough to appoint a hierarchical system under a Patra. Apostles are often incorporated as a military or political office, so he can more easily be maneuvered along with military or diplomatic expeditions.
Due to their high reverence for moderation, temperance, and ascetic life, Ulm has a very rich tradition of monastic life, at least across the nations of Edom and Azoz. The oldest monastic order, as discovered in recent archaeology, is found in the remote village of Pahnam in Edom, constructed around 110 AR. The Aposicist churches in Edom had a much higher respect for asceticism and strict moderation, and so quickly latched on the concept of secluded life. Much of the early converts to Ulm in Edom that wrote extent theological works were collectively known as "the Desert Fathers", and Upper Edom in general is considered the cradle of monasticism. Monasteries started appearing in Azoz during the time of the Chatna Empire.
Each monastery is run by an abbot, where the residence may not necessarily be secluded, but certainly segregated from urban life. The Monastery of Our Lady Lucretia, for instance, is almost in the heart of the Old City of Azoz, but set off from the outside world by iron gates. On the opposite extreme, the Monastery of the Comet is located in some of the deepest and most inhospitable deserts south of Susalyon. Abbots are considered to be on the same rank as Apostles, higher than a Parson but lower than a Patra. Monasteries may be either male or female, but are strictly segregated by sex.
The chief pastime of monks, aside from prayer and fasting, is towards the copying and compiling of books. Monastic Libraries are among the largest sources of knowledge in the western world, only eclipsed by the private libraries in Iskandaria and Azoz. Monastic chronicles have been popular works in Azoz since the time of the Chatna Empire, and has proven to be far more reliable and unbiased than either local city records or the Royal Archives. Another chief pastime of monks is natural sciences, carefully collecting and examining various forms of biological, botanical or mineralogical samples. These are valuable sources of scientific information, but generally are only kept in records as mere curiosities, due to the standing tradition of observational science as being inferior to abstract logic.
Ulm has been particularly decentralized in its doctrines since the end of the fist century AR, but many religions of the western hemisphere have all shared a similar point of origin back to the same Prophesies of Nelrim. These following religions can possibly be categorized as "sects", although some would argue they are separate religions that all share the same original scriptures. Even so, the following religions do share the same basic points of salvation and theology as has been described previously, allowing nations of these various branches to consider each other more as long-lost brethren, rather than infidels. As such, these are collectively known as Nelrimic Religions.
The Theology of Priapas particularly called for all such religions similar to Ulm as commonly worshiping the same God, as opposed to religions such as Yannis who worship Drokksid.
Aposicism is a modern catchall term for a collection of ancient religious ideas and systems within Ulmism. These beliefs include more esoteric, secretive cults that branched off Ulm early in its history, as well as alternative beliefs contrary to Ulmian scripture. There is no single Aposic canon, but rather different sects have various canons (or lack there of), which generally contain some of the following main elements:
- All matter/the material world is evil, and a manifestation of Drokkid, while the spiritual realm is a manifestation of the True God.
- There is one True God, from which derives numerous lesser spirits, including Drokkid.
- The creator of the material universe is not the True God, but is Drokkid or some other lesser spirit.
- There is secret knowledge that humans should strive to understand to achieve enlightenment.
Followers of this sect are largely found in the Kingdom of Neum, Syres, and Edom, along with a few cities in Mesallas.
Enulmism is an ancient Nelrimic, monotheistic religion that arose around the 270's south of Ancient Mesallas. Its adherents, known as Enulmians, believe in the existence of the Ulmian “True God” as a single supreme being, which they refer to as Enyeas (from the phrase “Enyeas ris tos”, or “Sole Being”). Despite believing in the same canon as Ulmism to an extent, Enulmism eventually arose as an independent religion to its predecessor.
The religion began as a post-Xaresian, Mesallian sect of the Ulm Religion of Azoz. Traditionally Ulmians believe in a duotheistic divinity between the True God and Drokksid, as well as the teachings of the Prophet Nelrim, who is prophesied to return during the end times and conquer death. Enulmians instead believe that the fulfillment of Nelrim’s prophecy has already taken place and he has returned via a spiritual rebirth process, in which his soul has returned to the mortal world through the body of a living descendant. As such, Enulmians seek to establish a clear line of “rightly guided successors” who are the physical and spiritual reincarnation of the prophet(s) before them, with Nelrim only being the first.
Irrulmism is one of the youngest of the three currently existing Nelrimic religions, and is native to the Irrosian Archipelago, the homeland of the Exhulan Vassal nation of Irrosia. Although the religion was initially founded by the Ulmian Apostle Andionus as a sect of the Ulm religion that differed majorly from mainstream Ulm (due to coming from an already very different sect due to its area and he himself having many differing beliefs from them and arriving in Irrosia to get away from them and to spread his own beliefs) but was still not its own religion, Andonius major differences in beliefs and practices and the many alterations to his sects doctrine he preached in order to make converting the people of the region easier eventually saw him condemned by his sect of Ulm, causing him to break off from Ulmism and develop his sect as its own religion instead of just a strange Ulmian Sect, resulting in the formation of Irrulmism.
Although Irrulmian doctrine is heavily based on traditional Ulmian beliefs and customs, the religion majorly differs from Ulmian doctrine and has its own major set of customs and traditions, and is thus by now almost entirely separate from traditional Ulm. For example, it believes that the gods of the Hcctaal Faith exist as aspects of the True God, and that Drokksid and other corrupting forces are controlled and set against the faithful as tests of their dedication and faith so that only the truly worthy will ascend to heaven during the End Times. It also believes that Andionus himself was a prophet of the True God equal to or above Nelrim himself, and that he was sent by the True God to spread the same truths originally spread by Nelrim, which had been corrupted into lies by the servants of Drokksid by the time of his birth. It also believes that the True God wishes for his followers to practice their faith in private places and in clothes that hide their identity, both when preaching or doing his service and when they are worshiping him.
Its followers are initiated into the religion in three separate stages over the course of their life. First they are blessed by one who is blessed by the True God (something usually meaning a Parsuraal (an Irrulmian priest) but not needing too) as an infant 12 Weeks after their birth, as it is believed to take one year after a child is conceived for the influence of Drokksid and that of the True God to stabilize into an ensouled human (as Humans are the only creatures in existence which were created by both the True God and by his dark servant Drokksid and thus have the ability both to fall into darker sin and corruption than any other creature and to be more holy and a greater servant of the True God than any other creature, and thus unlike every other creature the influence of both is required in a humans conception) and thus for them be ready to receive the Rite of Protection, when they are anointed with traditional Ulmian Oils to protect them from the influence of Drokksid so that they are more likely to chose the path of the True God and resist temptation.
The second comes when they reach the age of 16, when they undergone four-day long stay completely alone and isolated in their local Irrulmian Temple completely naked (so that they may be fully viewed and examined by the True God for worthiness unlike usual where they cover as much as possible so that they are humble before the True God and cloaked from Drokksid during their worship) without food or water in the pretense of a full cup of a beverage known as Arazoa (which is a type of Irrosian alcoholic beverage mixed with the same type of oil originally used by Ulmian priests to anoint their followers) which they must resist the temptation to drink until the end of those four days, after which they drink the entirety of the drink to take the influence of the True God into their hearts and bodies fully and signal that they are truly devoted to the True God. The final stage is called the rite of departure, which occurs posthumously. This rite is intended to cleanse the body of sin one final time before a man's soul departs to meet the True God and be judged, and which is considered to become less and less effective the further the body rots, so it is typically performed as soon as is possible after the person has died. This rite consists of submerging the body in a pool of water for a period of an hour (or if that’s not practical or possible, in a tub of dirt) before removing it and stripping it bare, and bathing and cleaning the corpse so that it is more presentable before the True God when they depart and to clean them metaphorically of their sins, before finally their eyes are removed and left out in the open far away from a human settlement, so that the birds will take them away to the sky, so that the person's soul, which is believed to reside in and exit through that area, is able to reach the True God in heaven.