Doctrines of The Faith

The doctrines of the faith represent the orthodox understanding of the Way. Each Doctrine is the product of experimental theology that has been debated, analysed and formally recognised by the Synod. Teaching doctrines that are at odds with, and thus undermine, the Doctrines of the Faith are regarded as heresy and are a crime under Imperial law.

The doctrines are as follows:

The Doctrine of Reincarnation

The Doctrine of Reincarnation states:
The human spirit is immortal. It inhabits mortal flesh for a span within the world before being liberated again, having gained knowledge and enlightenment. It traverses the Labyrinth of Ages before returning to mortal life through new birth.

The Doctrine is underpinned by discovery and analysis of pure liao which, it has been concluded, provides visions of a person’s past lives. This is further supported by the discovery of archaeological evidence that matches the content of some liao visions.

The Doctrine of Human Destiny

The Doctrine of Human Destiny states:
Only human spirits reincarnate, therefore humans are the greatest of all beings in creation for only human spirits gain strength, knowledge and enlightenment through rebirth. The paragons not only personify Virtue but the full potential of humanity.

This Doctrine is underpinned by the discovery liao has no effect on orcs and, by assumed extension, other non-human beings. Additionally, it is also broadly accepted that the miracles and achievements attained by the paragons are deemed to be superhuman in nature and the eventual destiny of all virtuous humans.

The Doctrine of Seven

The Doctrine of Seven states:
There are seven Virtues that guide the spirit through the Labyrinth of Ages. These are Ambition, Courage, Loyalty, Pride, Prosperity, Vigilance and Wisdom. Other qualities may benefit humanity, but lend no aid through the passage of death to rebirth, and some may hinder it.

This Doctrine is underpinned by extensive study of legends, relics, pure liao visions and priestly ceremonies to determine the truth and power of qualities. The seven Virtues are acknowledged as the consistent recurring pattern and proof of paragonhood and exemplardom. A byproduct of this Doctrine is that some figures of note were dismissed as being false paragons. The law of blasphemy was introduced to protect citizens from the teachings of false paragons.

The Doctrine of The Paragons

The Doctrine of The Paragons states:
A truly virtuous spirit, one who is a paragon of Virtue, is capable of freeing itself from the Labyrinth of Ages through transcendence. A paragon spirit can be identified for having completed at least six of the eight signs of the paragon, after which it can be recognised by the Imperial Synod.

The Doctrine is underpinned by the belief that some of the most virtuous spirits in history have never been the subject of a past life vision. The signs of the paragon were devised as a series of tests to ascertain which were true paragons and which were exemplars. The Doctrine of the Paragons is an extension of the Doctrine of Human Destiny.

The Doctrine of the Creator

The Doctrine of the Creator states:
Human destiny is our own. The Creator, whose hand can be seen in all patterns of nature, seeks no dominance of, control over or communion with human spirits.

This Doctrine stems from the principle of seeing design in the patterns of creation, and prompted several experimental theological attempts to contact the Creator. The most common results of such experiments have been silence, which has been taken as proof neither one way or the other. A small number of experiments have resulted in the scholars involved losing their sanity from which mixed conclusions have been drawn. Some have held that the Creator Spirit is currently of a nature beyond comprehension – save, perhaps, by a Paragon or Exemplar – whilst others maintain that the strain of effort was too great.

The Doctrine of the Labyrinth

The Doctrine of the Labyrinth states:
The Labyrinth of Ages is a place of pure spirit and beyond the true comprehension of any but a paragon. Flesh and blood may not enter, only that which is of spirit may traverse into and out of it, and it has no peer.

The Doctrine of the Labyrinth was created by the Synod as a response to two, quite different, beliefs. It asserts the reality of the Labyrinth of Ages from those who doubt its existence, or believe it to be metaphor. It also seeks to refute the teaching of Realmists who speculate that the Labyrinth is a magical realm akin to day or night.

The Doctrine of the Howling Abyss

The Doctrine of the Howling Abyss states:
Orcs live only one life. After death, the orcish soul either is lost to the Howling Abyss or crosses it to become an Ancestor who can guide and advise living orcs.

The Doctrine of the Howling Abyss was created by the Synod during the Symposium of Revelation during the Winter Solstice 380YE. It was proposed by the Imperial Orc preacher Bonewall Rek, and accepted by the General Assembly as part of an attempt to better understand the nature of the orc soul, and the place of the Imperial Orcs in the Way. The Howling Abyss is a feature of orc belief shared by both the Imperial Orcs and the barbarians, as far as is understood.

The Doctrine of the Ancestors

The Doctrine of the Ancestors states:
To cross the Howling Abyss an orc must be known for their deeds. Though there may be other ways to cross, embracing the Seven Virtues leads an orc to the Great and Inspiring deeds that make an Ancestor and a Virtuous Ancestor can guide future generations on the Way.

As with the Doctrine of the Howling Abyss, the Doctrine of the Ancestors was created during the Symposium of Revelation. It was proposed by Bonewall Cole, and supported by the General Assembly. The belief in ancestor spirits is a key feature of the beliefs of many orcs, both Imperial and barbarian.

Further Reading