“There is Darkness and there is Light, and with our lives we make an empire of either.”
-from The Illumined Wall
Ahnsang is the dominant religion of The Radiant Empire. It is a system of worship placing great spiritual significance on the ruler of the empire, called the Illumined Emperor, who is seen as an avatar of an deity known as The Radiant Emperor. The Illumined Emperor, once chosen by the previous Illumined Emperor or Empress, never leaves the Palace of Candles, for he is expected to remain in constant conversation with The Radiant Emperor so he may tell his will to the people.
In Ahsang, the Radiant Emperor is all good, and no evil originates from him. He came down to the world to make a holy kingdom, and but no flesh could hold all his light without burning, and few can look upon him without losing their sight and mind, so he communicates through a vessel, the Illumined Emperor.
In Ahsang good and evil have distinct sources, with evil (personified as The Dark Waters) trying to destroy the creation of the Radiant Emperor, and good (light) trying to sustain it. While the Radiant Emperor is not immanent in the world, his creation is represented by the Illumined Emperor, through whom the works of The Radiant Emperor are evident to humanity, and through whom worship of the Radiant Emperor is ultimately directed. The Ahnsang also believe that the objects of worship in other nations are in fact aspects of The Radiant Emperor or The Dark Waters. Ascendants, for example, are viewed as guardian spirits sent by the Radiant Emperor from whom one my draw strength, though no temples are built to them or significant worship given, since worshiping an Ascendant is seen as paying homage to a single act of the Radiant Emperor. Those that Ascend are said to have done so because they contributed enough to the “Great Work” to be released from the cycle of rebirth. Worship that is abhorred by Ahnsang is seen as a trick by The Dark Waters, an attempt on behalf of chaos to erode creation.
Followers of Ahnsang are expected to actively take part in the battle between light and darkness by commiting in good deeds, especially by participating in the work of The Radiant Empire. Civil service and moral choice is greatly stressed, as well as family life. Predestination is rejected as a trick of The Dark Waters, a belief meant to dissuade followers of the light from choosing a path that will contribute to the ultimate goal of The Illumination. The teaching of Ahnsang is that, if all of society falls under the word of The Radiant Emperor and participates in the Great Work of building a harmonious society, it will bring about a union of all souls on The Loom and an everlasting heaven outside of the material world.
Common religious rituals include praying in the presence of fire, and regarding water as an erosive and destructive symbol, something to be feared, but mastered. Cremation is the only acceptable means of corpse disposal, and the soul of those that are deceased are viewed as reentering the loom and coming back to the world to continue in the Great Work of unifying the world through good deeds. Adepts hold important religious positions as their magic is seen as an instantiate of the Radiant Emperor’s light.