True Communion

The great, pervasive, unconscious psychic gestalt of all living beings gains its name, Communion, from the philosophies and teachings of the alien race, the Keleni. Their natural telepathy led them to see themselves as interconnected with one another and then, eventually, to believe that all beings were interconnected, bound together in some great, all-pervasive divinity. This religion began in an obscure part of the galaxy, crushed underfoot by conquerors and disdained by more imperious philosophies, but it's conviction that all people, no matter how high or low, connected with one another on a deep level, that all people had value, set the Galaxy afire with the Communion Crusades, and the embers of that era still smoulder beneath the surface of the Galaxy.

The philosophy of True Communion gave rise to the Templars, the faithful space knights who fought that great crusade, who toppled a corrupt dynasy, and who guarded the galaxy for centuries. Centuries after their fall, legends persist of their command of enormous pyshic powers, lethal skill with the force sword, and a compassion and humility that led to them protecting the weak from the strong. To this day, the children of the disenfranchised and the beggars in the streets still look up at the stars and hope that in this dark age of empire and war, perhaps the Templars will return and once more wield Communion to set the Galaxy aright.

Though it Today, followers of True Communion can be found scattered across the Galaxy. Exiled Keleni enclaves follow a deeply traditional version of it, quietly meditating in their water-temples. Street preachers stand on corners and call on others to set aside their differences and embrace the unity of Communion. Many hopefuls meditate and exercise their faith in the privacy of their own home, out of the disapproving gaze of the Empire. Well that the Empire should fear it, for remnants of the Templars still exist, scattered across the Galaxy, awaiting a time when Communion calls upon them to restore their sacred Order and bring Justice to the Galaxy.

The Principles of True Communion

  1. Everyone matters, no matter how lowborn or how alien.
  2. We are defined by our connections with others.
  3. True knowledge can be found within, by listening to one’s intuition and accepting the morality one already knows in their heart.
  4. The “real” world is an illusion; only the “inner world” of thought, dream, perception and connection is “real.”
  5. All people are but facets of an infinite cosmic divinity; through introspection, we can understand the infinite cosmic and understand how it connects all people together.
  6. Virtue is found through aligning one’s self with the will of Communion, and in accepting one’s true purpose in life, one’s destiny.
  7. Time is as much an illusion as the world: there is only the Eternal Now.

History of Communion

The Origin of Communion

A race native to Hydrus Constellation of the Umbral Rim, the Keleni, first discovered the psychic phenomenon of Communion and, around it, created the philosophy of True Communion. Naturally telepathic, this race has an innate connection to one another and to their own ancestors. The origins of the idea of Communion came from studying ways to deepen this connection, allowing communication across vast distances of space and time. Eventually, the Keleni discovered that they could interact with this inherent connection itself, that they could do more than just commune with one another, but that they could commune with the state of communion itself, this great unconscious gestalt that surrounded them and bound them to one another.

The Keleni had a rough history with other races. First, the great and terrifying Eldoth Empire conquered them and shattered their temples and scattered them in an attempt to “cleanse” their temple-worlds. The rise of the Ranathim Tyranny broke the Eldothic Empire, and the Ranathim allowed the Keleni to return to their worlds and rebuild their temples, but they introduced their own strange religions that they demanded the Keleni acknowledge, and they demanded slaves of the beautiful and graceful race. Whenever an empire has arisen, the Keleni have found themselves under the boot of oppression. They became an oddity in the galaxy, an insular race often found in enclaves on alien worlds where they practiced their unique meditations and ceremonies regardless of what the prevailing ideology. Oppression only made martyrs of the Keleni faithful, or drove their faith underground, but it remained, made resilient through adversity and empowered by the legitimate enlightenment that True Communion gave them.

During their diaspora and while interacting with these great empires, the Keleni discovered that most other races lacked their innate psionic abilities and those who had innate psionic abilities, such as the Eldoth or the Ranathim, were bound to entirely different, alien and dangerous forms of Communion (Broken Communion and Dark Communion respectively), leading the Keleni to conclude that their access to Communion was unique to them. Even so, other races, especially the dispossessed among the galaxy, watched the miracles worked by the Keleni with awe and wonder. Many began to treat them as sages, begging at their temples for a miracle cure, or to learn at their feet.

The debate over what to do with aliens who petitioned to join the ranks of True Communion sowed the seeds for the first true schism in True Communion. Traditionalists claimed that because only the Keleni could naturally access Communion, only the Keleni should practice it. They argued that despite the tenets of tolerance native to their faith, that all “people” should be brought into “Communion,” only fellow Keleni counted as “people.” They pointed angrily to their mistreatment at the hands of other races, to the unique Keleni bond, and to the need to protect their culture and way of life. On the other side of the debate, Keleni argued that true tolerance required patiently forgiving the evil actions of others. Some among them had managed to teach other aliens, such as the Ranathim, the means of Communion. They advocated strenuously that if the Keleni were a special and chosen people, then their destiny was to bring Communion to the entire Galaxy.

The Communion Crusades

This schism reached a head during the apex of one of the few golden ages of Keleni civilization. After the fall of the Ranathim Tyranny and during the rise of the human-led Alexian Dynasty, the new empire had largely left the Keleni alone and during this moment of peace, the Keleni began to rebuild their temples and congregate around their homeworlds, and some became more open to instructing others in their faith. Humans, in particular, not only displayed an affinity for psionic powers but also had the capacity to achieve True Communion and were willing to do so. As a result, splinters of Keleni sages, most famously the “Heretic” an-Kihata Istelen, also known as “Isa the Exile,” who brazenly accepted any alien as a pupil, even non-psions, claiming that Communion could unlock the psionic potential of anyone. He also preached against the excesses of the Alexian Dynasty, the moral cowardice of Keleni traditionalists and the encroaching menace of the criminal warlords of the Cult of Satra Temos

Not long after the excecution of Isa the Exile, warlords and slavers conquered the Keleni temple-worlds, slaughtering many and casting even more into the chains of slavery. The Alexian Dynasty did nothing, but the now numerous human and alien devotees to Isa’s preaching grew incensed and members of the Alexian aristocracy denounced the Akashic Order for its cowardice and short-sightedness, publicly converted to True Communion and abdicated their positions within the aristocracy. They lent their wealth and prowess to an impromptu crusade to secure the independence of the Keleni temple-worlds. This crusade drew former aristocrat and commoner alike, human and alien, in a grand wave of faith and zeal that succeeded in creating a new “Crusader State,” the Templar Worlds, between the chaos of the Dark Arm and the Alexian Empire. The great heroes of the crusade openly ruled the worlds as adherents to this new form of True Communion that accepted all races into its mix. The former aristocrats understood how to rule, and took up de facto leadership of the new interstellar state, acting as the first Templars, the Knights of Communion.

A tumultuous and often mythologized period followed. The Templars, not the Keleni, ruled the Keleni temple-worlds. They rebuilt old temples and threw open the worlds to pilgrimages which brought aliens from across the galaxy to worship at and see the temples of True Communion. They brought wealth, new ideas and new cultures with them. The Keleni found themselves further divided: many reveled in the greater freedom and status afforded to them by this development and openly embraced this new, more tolerant and vibrant form of Communion, while traditionalists bristled at the corruption of their faith by outsiders, and the occupation of their native worlds by aliens. The shadowy forces of Satra Temos’s insidious and tyrannical cult conspired against them, while the Akashic Order brooded over their fading influence over the Alexian aristocracy and used their influence over the Alexian Emperor to slowly turn the Empire against the Templars of Communion. The Templar Worlds were doomed, and when it fell, it sent shockwaves across the galaxy.

The Fall of the Knights of Communion

The last Alexian Emperor, Lucian Alexus, declared war upon the Templars, while the Cult of Satra Temos undermined them from within by turning Revalis White, a famous Space Templar, to their side. The Templars marshaled their strength, not just from their own Crusader worlds, but from the vast, galactic pool of faith that they had cultivated. The Templars slew the last Alexian Emperor and thus shattered his corrupt Dynasty. They unveiled the machinations of the Cult of Satra Temos and broke their power in the dark arm of the Galaxy. The Crusader worlds fell, the Order of the Knights of Communion vanished from history, but their sacrifice laid the groundwork for the era of peace and harmony in the form of the Galactic Federation that followed.

The fall of the Templars did not destroy The faith of True Communion. The Keleni still practice their traditional version of the faith in their scattered enclaves. Human and alien devotees hid their worship for a time, but many openly proclaim their faith, especially on the edges of the galaxy. As the Empire of Emperor Ren Valorian weighs down the galaxy with its brutal oppression, more and more turn to the legends of the old Templars and their heroic deeds in freeing the galaxy from the tyranny of the last emperor, and hope that they might return to repeat the feat.

According to legend, five great masters survived the destruction of the Templars:

  • The Traitor, the human Revalis White
  • The Grand Master, the human Gladius Tao
  • The Hero, the human Jax Elegans
  • The Laughing Sage, the Sparrial Rokoonooda
  • The Beautiful Nun, the Keleni An-Kihita Laelin, or Leala the Beautiful

With the exception of Revalis White and, possibly, Jax Elegans, each went on to found their own, smaller Chapter of the Knights of Communion, to hold onto their old lore and knowledge and when the time would come for the Space Templars to rise again, they would be ready to do just that.

True Communion in the Galaxy Today

After the fall of the Templars and the diaspora of the Keleni, True Communion holds controls no great Empire nor do its followers command great fleets. And yet, the faith persists. True Communion's belief in radical equality, in the importance of all from the lowest of the low to the highest of the high, rarely appealed to the most politically powerful, but appealed greatly to the common man. One can find Keleni traditionalism in Keleni enclaves, where the aquatic species meditates in the serenity of their water gardens, but one can also find True Communion in the streets, in back alleys, and in the homes of the poor. True Communion's whispered promise of the interconnection of all beings has taken root deep within the hearts of every race, from Keleni to Humanity to Traders to even the Ranathim themselves. One most commonly finds it on the edges of the galaxy, among those humans who descend from Westerly stock, or among the outcast of other races. Even so, despite its marginalized status, it may be the most popular philosophy, an underground ideology that can rise up into revolution if the local elite treat the populace poorly.

The legend of the Knights of Communion feeds into this unruliness. The faithful of True Communion believe in their hearts that one day, the Templars will rise again to deliver them from bondage and to bring true equality and interconnection back to the Galaxy. The Empire and Alliance both consider this a dangerous aspect of the ideology, but in their desperation, some elements from the Alliance have sought to make contact with the secretive remnant chapters of the Templars, to gain their aid against the Empire and their hidden cult of Dark Communion.

Major Schisms

While each Temple seeks Communion in their own way, the ideology of True Communion can be broken down into two major sects: Keleni Traditionalism and Templar Communion.

Keleni Traditionalism

The Keleni first discovered True Communion on their Temple worlds via their innate telepathy and their deep bond with one another and their ancestors. Their exploration of this connection integrated with their own culture and traditions. With the advent of the Eldothic conquests of their homeworlds and their diaspora and enslavement at the hands of other races, their traditions hardened into a hard kernel of ethnic identity that unified their scattered species across the galaxy. Keleni traditionalism emphasizes the unique place of the Keleni in the context of True Communion, prophecy and esoteric healing techniques.

Templar Communion

Isa the Exile reviled the xenophobia of Keleni Traditionalism and sought to bring True Communion to all species. This more open variant, preached during the height of the Alexian Dynasty, brought many aliens into its ranks, but especially humanity. With the fall of the Temple Worlds, these formed the core of the Communion Crusades, and they gave rise to the Knights of Communion. Today, most people identify this form of True Communion, the one embodied by the Templars, as the only form of True Communion, unaware of the dogmatic differences with the Keleni variation. This form of True Communion rejects the pacifism of Keleni Traditionalism and embraces all species into its ranks, and tends to have a simpler dogma, making it an easier faith to spread across the galaxy.

The Beliefs of True Communion

True Communion on the Self

Who forged your crown? -The Verses

The king cried “Who is greater than I?” The sage asked “Who crafted your fine tunic? Who serves your army? Who brings you food? Who built your throne? Who forged your crown?” '

-Meditations

The core principle of True Communion morality centers on the notion that everyone matters. It delights in the imagery of a farmer or a thief elevated above a king or a high priest, creating a sense of social inversion, but in reality, everyone, from farmer to king, matters to True Communion. The faith sees community as the weave of a tapestry, and each individual within that tapestry as a thread: while a community might survive without a few individuals, some character is certainly lost, and should you destroy too many lives, the tapestry itself will unravel entirely.

I am all things; I am nothing. -The Verses

The woman asked “When I was a child, I was my father’s beloved daughter. When I was young, the men flocked to my beauty. When I married, I became the beloved of my husband. When I gave birth, I became my child’s mother. Now, I am an old widow. Who am I really, sage? Am I all of these things? None of these things?” The sage nodded and replied “You begin to understand.” -Meditations

Despite the claim that “everyone matters,” an important lesson that True Communion wishes to impart to its followers is that you, as an individual, aren’t important. True happiness comes not from clinging to self-hood, but releasing it and recognizing that when seeking true self-definition, who you are, you are best defined by your relationships with others. A woman may be a daughter, a sister, a mother, a friend and a rival, but when you remove all of those things, in truth, you have nothing left, and seeking to find what one is bereft of those things is foolhardy. We are our relationships, the connections we have to one another, and to the larger world. We matter not because an individual thread is important, but because the tapestry of relationships could not be woven without all the threads, but ultimately, the tapestry is what matters.

True Communion is careful when it uses the term “happiness.” The sages of True Communion do not mean the happiness of a selfish thrill, such as from sex or drugs or the satiation of one’s hunger or a victory in battle. Rather, they mean the happiness of watching your children grow up healthy and strong, or knowing that your victory (or sacrifice) in battle means that your family, your kin, your nation, will survive, or watching your student succeed where you failed. They define happiness as that sense of satisfaction and peace gained from knowing that the world will carry on because of your efforts.

True Communion defines morality in a similar way. What matters is the integrity and strength of your community and relationships, and that you learn your role within your community and play it. A good mother raises strong children and tries to be a good mother. A good king empowers his subjects and protects them from invaders, and understands that his role is to be king, and to attempt to be the best king one can be.

Beyond these specifics, True Communion defines general virtues such as compassion for others, respect for life, tolerance for others, a sense of justice and equality, and non-violence where possible. A king who protects his subjects through careful and magnanimous diplomacy is a better king than one who projects his subjects through conquest and the enslavement of his enemies. This is because, ultimately, everything connects to one another: a king is a father who must care for his family, while the royal dynasty, as a whole, must care for their subjects to create a unified nation, but his nation lives in an international community, which exist in an ecosystem of life. To beggar one’s neighbors at any level beggars oneself and damages that greater “tapestry” of community.

True Communion approaches morality as it approaches knowledge and metaphysics: what matters is not the universe around you, but your inner state. Thus, for True Communion, intention and character matters more than results and consequences: consequence is ultimately in the hands of fate, and we can only control our inner world, our intentions, and that is what we must cultivate. A king who mistakenly arrests and punishes an innocent man is still righteous because carefully maintaining rule of law is a vital part of being a good king, he was merely misfortunate in making the mistake he did; meanwhile, a thief who breaks into a house and accidentally scares off a murderer is still a thief and a wicked man, that he scared off a murderer and saved a life was pure luck.. Those who seek to be good should concern themselves with cultivating virtue and character and making sure their intentions, within, are correct.

True Communion on Knowledge

I hold no stone in my hand -The Verses

I held the stone in my hand and proclaimed “This is real.” “How do you know?” the sage asked. “I can touch it, I can feel it, it has weight in my hand.” “You know you can feel it, but do you know that it is real?” He asked. Then he snapped his fingers and I awoke from my dream. I held no stone in my hand. -Meditations

True Communion radically departs from most other philosophies in that it denies the reality of the world. A True Communion sage will point out that while we can be certain that we touch and feel, that we perceive, we cannot be certain of what we perceive or of its reality. The only thing we know for sure is that we exist and that we perceive.
This means that ultimate knowledge is not found by examining one’s surroundings, for those may be as ephemeral as a dream. Instead, one must turns one’s perception inward and come to know oneself. In so doing, one can better understand one’s own reality, one’s own ability to perceive, and thus better understand the difference between dreaming and wakefulness, what is real and what is self-delusion.

Fish swim. Children laugh. I find enlightenment. -The Verses

True knowledge is not learned, but intuitively remembered, naturally acquired by removing our own self-deceptions. According to True Communion, all the answers we might seek already lie within is. Whether we wrestle with a difficult moral question, try to find our true purpose in life, or know what course to take in a dangerous situation, the correct answer is always the intuitive answer, one buried deep within our character. Children often know the right thing to do or say, especially morally, because they have not yet cluttered the purity of their knowledge with preconceptions and self-deceptions. The goal of a teacher in True Communion is not to teach, but to help the student unlock what they already knew and either didn’t wish to face, or had forgotten (“You must unlearn what you have learned”). A student knows when what he has learned (or better said, realized) is true because he feels it within the core of his being. True Communion cultivates that self-realization.

The Cosmology of True Communion

The infinite looked upon the void and asked “Why must there be loneliness?” The void answered “This is the secret.” The infinite looked upon the void and asked “What is the cost of knowledge?” The void answered “You must create.” The infinite looked upon the void and asked “What is the cost of creation?” The void answered “Suffering.” And so the infinite tore itself apart. With its eyes it made the stars. With its limbs it set them spinning. With its blood it made worlds full of life. With its mind, it gave all creatures souls. With its breath, it gave the command: “Return with knowledge. Answer the question.” -The Forever Cycle

True Communion believes in God. Not an anthropomorphic deity like those of the Divine Masks, but a cosmic, infinite intelligence that pervades the universe. It is found within every rock, within the hearts of men, within the whisper of the wind. Every person capable of self-reflection is a facet of this divine presence, one spark of self-awareness, one neuron in its cosmic mind. Therein lies the reason that knowledge is found within. Each person is a facet of God: within their hearts lies a reflection of the universe. By understanding themselves, they understand this divine presence, and by understanding the divine presence, they understand everything.
True Communion does not believe in psychic powers, at least not as a distinct and separate or unnatural “power.” Given the unreality of the world, given that the world is better understood through self-perception, seeing it as a “dream,” those who display psionic powers are not exerting an internal force on the external world. No, they are those who begin to understand that the external and the internal are not separate, distinct things. They have sufficient enlightenment to change themselves and in so doing, seemingly change the world around them. Those who achieve even higher levels of enlightenment begin to unify their sense of self with their understanding of infinite oneness. As they merge their identity with the infinite, they achieve communion with the divine, hence the name of the philosophy.

They are all you. -The Verses

The high priest proclaimed “My flock sins! Heretics defile the land and whisper deceptions! My children are foolish! My wife is lazy! All about me fail me!” The sage replied “They are all you.” -Meditations

The notion that each person is a thread in the fabric of their community, so too is each person a fragment of divine consciousness and self-reflection. The divine will that surrounds all and binds all is not a thing that controls the fates of mankind, it is the accumulation of our innate humanity. Every choice everyone makes, every wrong one does to another, shapes the face of the cosmic infinite. If we hate the universe we live in, we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

This means that the “God” of True Communion is not a flawless, perfect being. Instead, this infinite divinity is broken, fragmented into a million consciousnesses and fallen into slumber, forgetting what it was. True Communion describes three stages of self-understanding, which the infinity of Communion itself struggles with. At the basest level, one has no conception of self: a drunken man staggers about not knowing what he does, and feeling a sense of self-loathing and self-destructiveness. This manifests as Psychosis, or Broken Communion. At the next state of consciousness, one recognizes one’s self, and overly treasures it. They realize how close to extinction they are and lash out in fear, mistakenly, at others in an effort to survive. This creates self-perpetuating cycles of destruction, as the harming of others creates more suffering which will eventually drag the guilty back down into the Psychosis from which he had emerged. This manifests as Id, or Dark Communion. Those who let go of the terror of losing their newly found sense of self, and realize that their self spreads across all people, that all are distinct selfs that connect with one another into a beautiful fabric of community, only then is a delicate harmony reached, one that can be disrupted by the selfishness of Id, but if allowed to thrive, will succeed in creating an awakening, in which the cosmic remembers itself and everyone returns to their state of divine bliss. This is the Super-Ego, or “True” Communion.

Each person is vitally important because they are a piece of God; all people have within them a fragment of the infinite cosmic within them. The ultimate goal of all who follow Communion is to fully align oneself with the infinite divine, and to do so, they must begin to perfectly embody the virtues represented by the divine in its greatest and most enlightened state (that of “True” Communion). The path to this self-perfection is through introspection, finding the voice of the infinite cosmic within themselves and listening to the guidance it offers their intuition. Those who do this may find their true purpose.

For True Communion, “Destiny” is not a foregone fate, but ones true purpose in life, the path one must follow to achieve enlightenment and bring the infinite cosmic one step closer to restoring It to its ultimate glory. Such a destiny is always good and righteous; those who deny this destiny fall away from True Communion and find themselves trapped in the lies of their baser or self-destructive nature; all “unrighteous” destinies arise from those who deny their true purpose in life.

The widow buried her child and wept. She asked “Where has his laughter gone?” She heard his laughter on a distant wind, and she remembered. -The Book Of Grief

This view also informs the unusual perspective True Communion has on what happens after we die. As all things are part of the cosmic gestalt that pervades the world and all things fundamentally connect, then “time” is as illusory as the world. Because the cosmic exists across all of time and space, and all people are part of and connected through the cosmic, then people cannot be said to cease to exist. They still exist, only the illusion of time separates the “living” from the “dead” in a similar manner to how the illusion of space separates the “near” from the “far.”

There is no “future” or “past,” only the “Eternal Now.” The illusion of the world, as an artifact of our own preconceptions, creates alternate perspectives. Just as one can seem to be “far away” from someone in space, one can seem to be “far away” from someone in time. From the perspective of a descendant, his ancestor is unreachable, and thus “dead.” From the perspective of an ancestor, a descendant may be unreachable and thus “unborn.” In reality, both experience their own personal “now,” but have only a limited capacity to interact with one another. True Communion can bridge this gap, allowing the “dead” to commune with the “unborn.”

The Symbolism of True Communion

Symbols of True Communion

Aniconism

True Communion believes that depictions of the supernatural, be they idols or symbols, tend to unduly distract one from his inner journey in understanding the world. One can hold onto an idol, put his faith in that idol, and forget that the physical thing he holds is an illusion, nothing worth having faith in. Moreover, once the divine is given a face, people begin to forget its cosmic qualities and begin to overly humanize it. Thus, True Communion often, though not universally, chooses to eschew any symbolism at all.
True Communion symbolism tends to focus on things that naturally guide on to right and proper conclusions. They tend to be known by their tools and their words, rather than their great idols or symbols. Thus, the temples of True Communion tend to be remarkable bare of baroque imagery, favoring instead creating a place of profound peace and introspection, a natural place where one can lose himself in his own introspection.

This is not a strict taboo, however. The Keleni traditionalists are more likely to eschew imagery than human/alien traditions, as Traditionalists believe that True Communion and Keleni culture go hand in hand. Alien traditions, especially human traditions, feel the need to differentiate themselves from others and humans especially, caught up in their empires and factions, feel the need to have some symbol of their faith that they can point to. Even more extreme versions, such as the cults inspired by True Communion found within the Divine Masks tradition, absolutely have idols, but arguably have fallen far from what True Communion stands for.

The Triskelion

Hidari_mitsudomoe.svg

Some followers of True Communion, especially among humans, represent their faith with the World Triad. The three spirals represent either the three forms of Communion that flow into one another (traditionally True Communion on top, flowing into Broken Communion on the bottom, which flows into the unifying Dark Communion at the side) or the three paths or virtues of True Communion, with the Righteous Crusader triumphant at the top, the Bound Princess “kneeling” below, and the remote Exiled Master to the side, binding the two. In the latter case, they world triad might be colored blue, green and white. The circular nature of the world triad represents the unity of all within the bonds of True Communion.

LA la.gif

When asked what our ultimate purpose was, an ancient Keleni master once replied “La,” which is a Kelen relational that connects two words together, and roughly translates into “to be.” Some practitioners of True Communion have taking to intoning the word in a long, low voice to remind themselves of their purpose and to induce a deeper state of meditation, to “be” connected with the greatness of Communion. As such, some use the written kelen text of the word as a symbol of their faith, either as a single phrase, or the repeating characters in Kelen (for example, on their prayer beads)

The Tools of True Communion

Most symbols associated with True Communion aren’t symbols at all! Instead, they are tools for representing metaphors, or for assisting the practitioner on his quest of cosmic self-discovery.

The Kelen Language

The language of the Keleni, Kelen, is an unusual language that replaces “verbs” with “relationals” that describe how things interconnect. In the Kelen language, things do not do, they are and they are in connection with other things. This frame of mind and way of thinking, according to True Communion, provides powerful insights into Communion and the true nature of reality. Typically, only Keleni practitioners really insist on using Kelen. Alien practitioners of True Communion have long since shifted to Common Galactic, as most of its practitioners speak it, but many temples still encourage students to study the language so they can better understand Kelen language and gain greater insights into communion.

Kelen Literature

True Communion has its roots in ancient holy texts. The most prominent and popular of these have been collected into the Jathuna, the sacred book of the Keleni. These texts describe mythical imagery, spiritual truths and the history of the Keleni. This includes, among others:

  • The Forever Cycle (Jatewelre Janaren)
  • The Book of Grief (Nikan Anloral)
  • The Book of Exile (Nikan Anpera)

The core of True Communion philosophy, though, comes from other works, some of which act as commentary on the Jathuna, others simply discuss philosphical concepts outright. The most important of these philosophical treatises are a pair of books that combine together:

  • The Verses (Jaxisse Jilke)
  • Meditations (Antoli)

The first, the Verses, are a series of enigmatic aphorisms, offered without comment or context. Meditations details numerous small stories meant to expand upon the aphorisms and attempt to teach, through metaphor, a particular precept or belief; these stories, themselves, tend to be either condensed versions of the mythology outlined in the Jathuna, or attempts to explain precepts taught within that book. These books combine: a student reads Meditations and then understands the Verses, and then uses the smaller, more compact aphorisms of the Verses as reminders, pointers, to the lessons learned from Meditations.

Keleni traditionalists will often keep libraries of physical books, including the Jathuna and the commentaries. The Verses are much more popular with non-Keleni Communionists, who will often keep a copy of it (or similar works) on their personal datapad. It has become so popular, in fact, that many non-Keleni communionists have no knowledge of the original stories that the Verses refer to, and they attempt to determine for themselves what they mean.

Memory Crystals

The Keleni, as natural telepaths, learned to craft crystals in which they could store their memories, thoughts and emotions. While a perfectly mundane technology to most Keleni, where they might store keepsake emotions (like how they felt after their first kiss or when they first held their newborn baby), many practitioners of True Communion will store moments of enlightenment or entire thought-chains that contain important knowledge of Communion. They usually store these in protective orbs that will unfold when telepathically commanded to open to allow someone to access the secrets within. Such memory crystals often form the bulk of the “material” in a True Communion library, especially during the old time of the original Templars.

Communion Path Symbolism

True Communion has unparalleled knowledge of the nature of Communion, including its paths. It believes that true mastery is gained not on a path, but in understanding the complete totality of Communion, but with that said, most people can and should walk a path at some point in their life. The philosophy makes liberal use of the colors, trappings and symbols of the paths, especially in relation to those who have destinies that align them with those paths.

Water

The Keleni are an amphibious race with a close relationship to water. They tend to use it and its natural flow often in their metaphors and in their places of worship. True Communion often uses pure water or a silver chalice with water in cleansing, healing, or initiation rituals, though this is more common in Annara than in non-Keleni True Communion.

Prayer Beads

Some True Communion practitioners will carry a rosary or prayer beads with them when they meditate. They will chant a particular mantra and then click a bead, not explicitly to keep count, but as a way of creating a lulling rhythm that helps to melt away the world. Such rosaries have become popular means of showing one’s faith, especially with a world triad hanging from such a rosary, or with the beads engraved with the kelen characters for “La.”

Eloi Fragments

In places of extreme Communion Sanctity, the psionic resonance there can begin to crystalized into an Eloi, (or, in Kelen, an ankoreta). An Eloi can act as a powerful psionic lens; Kelen have the technology to harvest them and either use them directly, or break them up into Eloi fragments to power psi-blades, resonance staffs, or psi-boosters. Temples have specific constructions designed to focus the psionic energies of Communion to a single point, often housed in the center of a temple, it’s holiest point, where the crystal slowly accumulates, floating at the very heart of the temple.

Some archeologists speculate that the Keleni have been building these temples to facilitate the creation of Eloi long before they began to hold them in sacred regard. Today, most Keleni or True Communion temples hold their Eloi in such high regard that they will not harvest or break them up unless in dire need, or to construct the finest of psi-swords for a truly worthy hero.

The Force Sword and Resonance Staff

The Keleni long learned that they had to protect themselves. With the resonance staff, they learned the art of extending their psychic presence and connecting fundamentally with a psychic tool. The next step beyond this was their invention of the psi-sword, which eventually fused with the psionic force swords of the Templars of Communion. While not directly symbolic or meaningful for the faith of Communion, the image of a Keleni wanderer bearing a resonance staff, or a Knight of Communion bearing a psi-sword have become iconic for the faith.

The Temples of True Communion

Temples lie at the heart of True Communion. Masters might claim that they’re irrelevant except, but for the faithful lay person, they offer a place where the weak and suffering can go for solace, or where the student can go to learn at the feet of a master.

The purpose of a True Communion temple is to attempt to illustrate the path to enlightenment and the nature of the divine cosmic. All rest on ground with Very High True Communion sanctity. Each temple has a unique design. Most have a free, flowing structure that seems somewhat chaotic or organic to the uninitiated, but they tend to follow the natural contours of the land and may allow nature to mingle with their construction to create an even more harmonious atmosphere: vines may climb the walls of the temple, or the temple may be carved out of the stone of a cavern, or a river may cut directly through a temple. Some temples have fountains, whose water the faithful may believe can heal wounds, and whose pattering sounds may assist in meditation. Many temples have the words of their secret text carved onto the walls; as one winds through the unusual layout of the temple, the sacred words of True Communion may spill forth before you, so that your tour becomes a literal journey of enlightenment.

Temples also house Eloi gems at their heart. Their geomantic arrangement channels the psychic energies of Communion to a single point, creating a point deep within the temple of intense sanctity that crystalizes into material form. These most sacred point is typically only accessible to the High Priests of the temple.

Meditation

The devotees of Communion do not believe that they must pray to a distant god for relief, but that they must turn their mind and thoughts inward, to find the divine connection they have to their infinite cosmic deity, and to one another.

Meditation is generally done while kneeling or in a “lotus position,” with eyes closed. Meditation is preferably done in a holy place or in nature, but any private or undisturbed place will do. Masters of meditation will meditate in complete silence, but those less experienced might chant aphorisms from the Verses or the Mantra “La,” and once such a cycle is complete, may “count” the chant with the click of a prayer bead. Some practitioners, especially Templars, enter a meditative state through carefully practiced movements or katas. The slow, precise “practice” movements of a training templar is, in fact, a form of meditation.

Ordination

Those who wish to set aside the world and devote themselves to the practice of Communion may seek to become ordained as a monk or templar. This requires, first, finding a master who is willing to devote time to teaching a student all the ways of Communion. Once this has been done and the master believes the student has sufficient devotion and knowledge to begin life as a monk, he is brought before a council of elders, typically those who run a local temple, and if they find him worthy, he may join the temple.
To do so, he must first remove his old clothing, then take whatever oaths the masters requires of him, generally represented by the Disciplines of Faith that the practitioner will observe (generally Disciplines of Faith (Mysticism)). The intitiate is then ritually cleaned, either by dipping them into a font of water, or having a chalice of water poured over them, and then they are redressed in the robes of their new calling.

The Traditions of True Communion

True Communion, as a philosophy, is not especially prone to ritual. It concerns itself with an inward journey of spirituality that allows one to learn to silence the self and connect himself to the greater community around him. Thus True Communion demands no specific ceremonies. Even so, the communal nature of Communion encourages tradition and bonds across community and culture, and numerous traditional rituals have sprung up. These traditions often request the presence of a priest or monk of True Communion to enact a specific religious ritual. Most such spiritual leaders accept the request and assist their local communities in these traditions. This practice is far more common among the “Traditional Communion” of the Keleni than it is among the non-Keleni “True Communion” practitioners, who tend to separate themselves from their community.
Community Rituals

The intent of these rituals are to bring the community together and remind everyone of their belonging to a greater whole. As such, all such rituals take place before the community as a whole; they tend to be short affairs, after which most communities will celebrate with a party (such a party is not strictly religious, and so most monks will bow out). Such ceremonies include, but are not limited to:

  • The cleansing of a new born child with water, either dipping them into a temple font, in a natural body of water, or pouring water upon them from a chalice.
  • A marriage rite, which usually consists of a vow taken between both groom and bride with a witnessing priest, who then binds their hands together with a length of ribbon (typically white or violet).
  • A funerary rite, where the priest pronounces the virtues of the fallen, the community each voices their fondest memories of the deceased, and then the dead is either burned on a pyre or buried at sea.

Pilgrimage

The temples and holy places of True Communion hold within them the capacity to create great miracles that can heal the sick and restore the handicapped and bring enlightenment and peace to those who suffer. Thus, many followers of True Communion seek to visit a temple or holy site at least once in their life and the tradition of pilgrimage has arisen in True Communion. This is especially popular among non-Keleni practitioners, and the Crusades to free the Temple Worlds of the Keleni was part military exercise and part grand pilgrimage.

For most, a pilgrimage is just a matter of traveling to a temple, visiting with its priests and monks and perhaps meditating in a particularly spiritual point, such as near its central fountain, or at its highest peak. Pilgrims often make a donation to help support or maintain the temple, and some of the most popular temples become astonishingly wealthy from such donations. A common tradition for temples that find themselves hosts to many pilgrims, such as the temple in which the remains of Isa the Exile are kept, will offer pilgrims a single, simple memory crystal in which they can imbue their religious experience at the temple. They may then keep the memory crystal, so they can relive that moment of spiritual clarity or they may donate it back to the temple. Often, such temples have grand chambers in which thousands of memory crystals dangle from the ceiling, reflecting light and filling the chamber with a thousand memories of religious fervor.

Lineage

True Communion places great stock in family, and in family traditions. It also puts great weight upon the importance of master/student lineages. Most children can quote their lineages back several generations, as can most students quote their educational lineage. For the Keleni, this is a visceral thing, for they have a deep telepathic connection with their ancestors, and place great stock in the “clan” from which one comes. For all followers of True Communion, being a member of a lineage means belonging to something larger than yourself. One’s destiny and tradition is often inherited from your lineage: if your father was a great warrior, you likely will be as well, and if your teacher served as a great protector of the faithful, you will likely be as well. While followers of this tradition tend to pigeon-hole certain lineages, they try not to hold one lineage over another: one man may descend from kings and the other from commoners, but some of the greatest holy men came from common lines, as well as some of the greatest warriors: each lineage has its heroes and icons, just some are more globally famous than others.

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