Codex of Light
- This page is about the Codex of Light. For other uses, please see Codex (disambiguation)
Following the return of Pentharian in 422AF, with the Holy Codex in the apse of the Chrysalis Basilica blank, after events concerning Tarah, the divine of Good decided that a new document should be bestowed upon those who wished to follow Good, Order, and Light to guide their path. This document was given to the organisations and followers of Good in the year 423AF.
In the past, the Holy Codex was the source of rule and law for the Church. Written by Deucalion, God of Righteousness, and Aurora, Goddess of Light, it was intended as a work to define the Church, her purpose and her behaviour.
As the world grew and changed, and the Church with it, however, the Holy Codex became more recognised as a restrictive, inflexible document. Still highly respected, it no longer fit the needs of the Church in her goal to serve Good. Worse, it became a wedge between the Church and other Good organisations.
In these later years, Mithraea, Goddess of the Sun, provided a treatise to Shallam. This filled a lot of the gaps of the Codex, with more basic what and why answers. As of this time, this work still rests in the chapel of the Silverdrop Inn. While a brilliant work, and well worth the study, it did not solve the quandary of Church and Holy Codex, nor did it bridge the gap between Church and Shallam.
Thus, in what mortals reckon as the 423rd year after the fall of the Seleucarian Empire, do We present this work to mortalkind, to all who seek knowledge of Good. It is Our hope and intention that this document will provide a secure foundation from which you may reach ever upwards, as well as a companion on the climb.
Lorielan, Goddess of Enlightenment; Pentharian, God of Valour; and Tarah, Goddess of Harmony
Many thanks to Miramar, Goddess of Justice, and Mithraea, Goddess of the Sun, Whose wisdom and works are also of immense value to the cause.
The Definition of Good
The many tongues of mortals attempt to twist "good" into many different meanings. For the purposes of this document, Good and good shall be differentiated as it often is, by capitalisation emphasis. Relative good is not the concern of this document. The force of Good is the focus. This is also called the greater Good, or universal Good.
Absolute, unchanging, and eternal, Good is a force spawned by Creation which seeks always to keep Creation strong and growing. The realm of Creation is nearly everything you know and are.
The Means, The Ends, And the Intent
While Good has a concrete definition, service to Good is not simple black and white. If it were, sentience would be worth nothing. Mindless, soulless golems could serve whichever side created them, at the whim of the creator.
This is not the case. Life is not even just shades of grey, but a wonderful mix of colours. Mistakes are made when one tries to over-simplify matters.
One very common fallacy is "The ends do not justify the means." When the goal is Good, that goal is the largest part of any equation. Avoiding any action that might be labelled "Evil" when the gain to Good is equal or more, is actually a disservice to Good.
This does not mean that the ends always justify the means. They are solidly linked. The endeavour for the servant of Good is to make sure that the ends, Good, is equal to or better than anything lost in the means, as best can be determined.
Consider a situation where a decision must be made: one life must be sacrificed to save two lives. There is no other course of action that can be found, and action must be taken. Assuming all factors are equal, 2 lives outweigh one in the long view that a servant of Good must take. However, situations are rarely so simple.
What if the proffered sacrifice was a child, and the two to be saved were so old and frail that they did not wish to live? What if the sacrifice was an old, frail person to save two children... but the sacrifice required a slow, torturous death for the oldster?
What if the old person was aware of that - and still willing?
Although intent is a part of the equation, it is not as large a part as the means and the ends. Where intent's effects matter the most is within the soul of the individual. Bloodlust is an example of this - you may be doing great service to Good in the slaying of the forces of Evil, but if you do so not because it serves Good, but because you revel in the blood and death, it is very likely to eat away at your foundation. The person whose intentions are not high is as likely to betray Good as to serve it. He acts under a mask of service, interested only in the results which best cater to his personal likings. This person is ruled by personal desires, not a higher cause. It is a slow, personal poison.
The Ways to Serve
Sentient life is a richly variegated tapestry. Just as you and your closest friend may vary in many physical attributes, so it is also very likely you vary in personality as well. This is true of all; what appeals to you, what catches your interest, is going to be shared by certain others, but rarely all.
So many want to think that the way they like best is The Best Way, bar none. When speaking of service to Good, there is nothing further from the truth. Flexibility is key! With one person, you may need to only lift the veil of ignorance through a peaceful chat. With another, you might best reach out a hand to remind him that all is not lost. With another still, a trip to the Halls of Maya may be the only thing he understands. For yet another, simply observing you as you live a life of Good may be all that's required.
Thus, there is no one, true way to serve Good. Long ago, the mortal races were granted sentience by the Gods. This gift allows one the chance to choose one's path in life. It also grants one the ability to go beyond the self, far beyond. If one not only looks, but sees; not only hears, but listens; perceives not with the senses but with the mind, one has a chance of understanding Good and how he or she may best serve it. Thus do the Gods of Good offer different paths to the same goal. Compassion and Harmony, Enlightenment and Knowledge, Justice and Law, Light and Life, Valour and Honour - all these ways and more have a place in the service of Good, the ultimate goal.
The Myth of Interdependence
Many mortals postulate that Good is dependent upon adversarial forces, and that the existence of each depends upon the other. This is a relativistic view, a shortcoming often found in thought of limited scope. Good without resistance would result in the peaceful growth of Creation. Opposition is not required for a person to be just, to spread light, to show compassion, or to be honourable.
Imagine a small, peaceful village. A few families live there, bothering no one; they tend to their own needs and the needs of their neighbours. They live within the boundaries of the land, tilling the soil and hunting responsibly. A dragon lives nearby, and decides the village is his by right. Any strong villagers that will not bow to him, he slays. The village becomes a tyranny of the cruel, with the lesser villagers slain indiscriminately, and dying from illness, misuse and starvation. The land lies fallow from lack of care, the crops die, the hunting suffers from lack of able hands. Eventually nothing is left to feed the dragon except... the strong who serve him. After he turns on them to feed his strength, he is left with nothing at all, and starves.
Without the dragon, the village survives. Note, however, that the dragon does not; with nothing to consume, it dies.
The Enemies of Good
Evil is, like good, an absolute and unchanging force. However, its servants use misdirection and greed to fuel a short-sighted purpose. Touting the Evil, they claim to spur the development of sentient life.
Little could be further from the truth. Survival of the strongest is closer to the actual practices of Evil. Crush the weak! Weakness is, however, relative. Should Evil prevail, eventually there would only be Evil left, becoming the snake eating its own tail. Far from spurring sentient life, it instead spurs continued destruction, until there's nothing left but to curl up and consume itself.
Recall the village and the dragon. Without the dragon, the village survives. Without Evil, Good still survives. However, without Good, Evil starves. Evil consumes and destroys. Good nurtures and creates.
Another ill-used and twisted concept, Chaos is the oldest direct enemy of the Church. Misunderstanding and misdirection are key to Chaos' power in Creation.
To understand the danger of Chaos, one need only list the things that have come from it: the Unnameable Horror, Pazuzu and his legions, Entropy and Discord. All of these and more, all possessing of godlike power, these beings would like nothing more than the chance to overpower Creation and destroy it. Some have, in the past, come close, nearly destroying the Gods themselves, and were only stopped by the direct intervention of the being now known as the Logos, Sarapis.
The everyday phenomenon that we experience in Creation that we call chaos is primarily the result of the dispersal of Entropy and Discord in our realm. It's unknown if this was a planned-for result. It is possible that these entities counted on this, and thus secured a foothold for Chaos within Creation. While chaos, in the common form we take for granted, is not known to be particularly harmful (and indeed, has become a basis for life as we know it), it is a shadow of Chaos.
The practice of Occultism keeps open a window to Chaos, allowing its denizens a constant taste of what they desire. It empowers them, and lures them. It promises power and knowledge to the practitioners, rewards that would be worth absolutely nothing if Chaos succeeded in its bid to invade. The world got a very, very small taste of what could happen, when the Goddess of Chaos, Eris, was frozen into a statue during an experiment. In Her stasis, some of Her power was released from Her control, resulting in hideous, torturing deformations of life, and life breathed into things that were never meant to contain it. If you experienced these times, you have a fraction of an idea of what unopposed Chaos means to Creation.
Very likely, anything you know not of Creation is of Chaos. These were the two realms created in the dawn of time.
Darkness is the half-seen; the promotion of deception, of misunderstanding. What you don't know can hurt you, and those of Darkness want to be the ones that control what you know.
Darkness as a concept is easily compared to the physical time of the same name of its patron, Twilight. The mortal eye is at its worst in the half-darkness. Nightsight does not function at its peak, nor does normal sight, leaving one in a world of undiscerned shapes and indeterminate colours. Neither sun nor moon lends detail or direction.
The followers of Darkness seek to walk this world, to know it. Knowledge in itself is a good thing. However, when one withholds knowledge, when one uses knowledge only to advance a select group in a bid to control all, then it is misused. When one also uses knowledge as bait, and surrounds it with traps of lies and deception, then it steps on the boundaries of Evil.
Light exposes the deceptions of Darkness, lays bare the truth for all to see. It lays forth the knowledge of Creation for all to know, so that they may make educated decisions of their own free will. It serves Good by showing everyone the logic behind Creation and its survival. Darkness serves no one but itself, seeking to control others through ignorance, and removing their free will.
Vengeance is, at heart, all about serving oneself. It is about taking one's own pain and magnifying it, before bringing it upon another. It removes constructive emotion, so necessary to the means and the ends of Good; it removes forgiveness, a powerful tool of Good. Instead of bringing balance, it perpetuates suffering; instead of cleansing the wound, it seeks to spread the infection. Very often, it brings innocent people into its scope, causing pain to them not because they deserve it, but because it will torture the true target that much more.
Servants of Good should recall the balance between the ends and the means; you should seek to maintain balance between your mind and your heart. Constructive emotion and logic both are required to weigh the choices and make the correct decision. Justice includes both in equal measure, and thus Justice is the choice of Good.
Sin is another slippery, half-understood concept. While the ideology is somewhat attractive - the mastery of oneself - the goal is not. That goal is power.
Once one learns the weaknesses inherent in life, and conquers them, one learns how to manipulate the weaknesses of others. Thus, one may make them do what one wishes them to do, and that may even mean having them serve Good, but it is not of the others' free will. It is, at the most basic, a practice of psychological slavery, which would require some incredible Good ends to ever be justified.
Any Divine that would stand in alliance with the enemies of Good thus becomes an enemy, even if His or Her realm is not in opposition.
The Common Path of Good
While the ways to serve Good are many, there are still some common guidelines which should always be observed unless there is very good reason not to do so. Adhering to these is also a form of service, for it will usually put you beyond reproach of enemies, show well to allies, and provide an example for the heights a person can attain while retaining effectiveness.
Respect the Gods and Holy Ground
Remain polite and respectful with all Divine. Never become arrogant or rude. You don't have to agree; you may present your point of view in a calm and polite manner. Obey and defend the gods of Good, for They seek the same goal and purpose. With all others, consider carefully what is being asked, and choose wisely your course of action. Respect the temples of the Divine, and those things close to Them. A place becomes holy ground simply by a Divine being in it; maintain a respectful distance, refrain from any uninvited familiarity, and remain quiet while attending His or Her words. This should all be your normal reaction, unless you know for certain that a particular Divine wishes otherwise. Despite some misunderstandings, shrines are a tool of the follower rather than of the god, and thus it is not disrespectful to defile the shrines of an enemy Divine.
Protect the Innocent
Innocent is best defined as one who does not adhere to Good, nor to its opposition. Most often, the innocent are the fodder of the other forces. They are consumed, deprived, manipulated, and deceived. Protecting them starves the enemies, allowing the innocent their growth, and adding their unique variations to Creation. It may also add to your allies. Do not force protection upon any, however. It is the right of the innocent to choose.
Defend your Allies
There is strength in unity. While your allies may not hold exactly the same purpose, there are many who can and will serve Good while remaining committed to other causes. Those quickest to complain about your strength in alliance are those who cannot find allies. Do not perpetuate their mistake, as it leaves them weak and vulnerable. It is normal and healthy for sentients to band together for a cause.
Fight the Enemies Within
The worst enemy of the servant of Good is often oneself. Excuses, apathy, ignorance... all these things oppose you from within before any outer enemy raises a hand against you. The strength lies in the goal. The Chrysalis Basilica has fallen; gods have fallen; and yet, Good goes on.
It is not enough to sit back and think Good thoughts. Good is in action. If you cannot bother yourself to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, you are no true servant of Good. There are other places in the world where one can sit back and relax. The organisations of Shallam and the Church are fully encouraged to uproot apathy whenever and wherever it may be found.
With each new dawn you have a new chance. Live each day, learn, and do. At the end of each day, think about what you have learned and done, and consider what the next day may bring you, and what you may bring to it.
Good is a purpose, a goal, and a lifestyle. It is not easy, nor is it simple. All kinds of forces oppose it, offering glittering baubles of personal power and gratification.
Keep your focus always and forever upon the goal.