Seven Saints of Talis
Cult of the Morning Star
Center of Power: The Hub (historically Caer Uruk)
Clergy: 50 (estimated) divided into 2 castes
Estimated Faithful: 135,000
Designation: Pleasure Cult
Leadership: Mother Superior Holly Windstalker
Venerates: Saint Inanna As’Ishtar
The Cult of the Morning Star is a liberal sect of the Imperial Creed found on the world of Talis. Its existence can be traced back over a thousand years, having originated from camp-followers of the Living Saint, Inanna As’Ishtar during the Talisian Civil War. It is a cult of bon vivants, libertines and carousers, with religious observances generally being rowdy, bacchanalian affairs. This outward appearance disguises the fact that the entirely-female priesthood are frequently Psykers, gifted in a variety of powers and abilities.
The Cult of the Morning Star believes in living life to its fullest, and in enjoying the pleasures and passions that are available to Humanity, honoring the God-Emperor’s sacrifice by partaking in the things He sacrificed so that Humanity could live on. Fine meals, fine wines, carnal pleasures and natural intoxicants are a hallmark of the Cult of the Morning Star, and many other cults and sects of the Imperial Creed look down upon the members of the Morning Star for their earthly appetites. However, it would be a mistake to assume that the members of the Cult of the Morning Star are nothing but hedonists, for Inanna is the Saint of Passion, in both Love and War. The Sal’Hadrin (Holy Warriors) of the Cult of the Morning Star are renown across Talis as being at the forefront of the war against the Arch-Enemy, as well as being hunters of monsters, rogue psykers and other threats.
The Cult is organized into two distinct, mutually-supporting divisions. On one side are the Priestesses. These women, currently all Psykers, though this was not always historically true, perform all of the official religious ceremonies, direct the affairs of the cult, train new initiates to the clergy, and oversee the long-term goals of the cult. The other half of the clergy are, collectively, referred to as the Sal’Hadrin, or “holy warrior” in Old Talisan. The Sal’Hadrin are warrior-priests, acting as guards for the cult’s properties, defenders of the cult’s personnel and faithful, and soldiers in the cult’s wars of faith. Unlike the priesthood, Sal’Hadrin may be male or female, and male psykers who are capable of meeting the requirements of the Sal’Hadrin are welcome among their number.
Members of the Cult of the Morning Star pray six times a day, once at dawn, mid-morning, noon, mid-day and at dusk, and then either at dinner or before retiring for bed. They revere the fifteenth and thirtieth day of each month as sacred, as well as any night of a full moon (one or both). They view engaging one’s passions as an act of religious devotion, whether that be art, music, literature, athletics, carnal pleasures, cooking, or any other vocation or trade. In keeping with the teachings of Saint, members of the Cult are permitted to marry, though they eschew monogamous relationships. Within communities dedicated to the Cult of the Morning Star, polygamous marriages are the norm. It is also noted that such communities tend to be matriarchal, though this is not a stricture of the Cult’s teachings. The Cult teaches gender equality, fair distribution of labor, and defending one’s passions with fervent devotion. As a Pleasure Cult, the Cult of the Morning Star preaches that one’s passions are best shared with humanity as a whole, and so the clergy of the Cult practices bisexuality, and encourages it among their flock, which has led to some accusations of being a cover for a cult of the Ruinous Power called Slaanesh. However, members of the congregation may be hetero- or homosexual without serious fear of censure by the clergy.
Members of the cult believe in supporting positive, progressive social programs, charity for the unfortunate, and engage a strong sense of community. In preaching the love of the Saint for the people of Talis, they build strong ties to, and within, whatever communities they are a part of. As a Saint of War, as well, the Cult of the Morning Star was historically active in serving various factions united against common enemies, or forces the Cult was at odds with. Though this activity has all but disappeared in recent years, due to the devastating loss of their main temple at Caer Uruk, it was not uncommon to see teams of Sal’Hadrin and Priestesses supporting the armies of Thracia against the Iron Priests, or supporting the Brotherhood of Steel against the Orks and Wasteland bandits. While the Saint walked Talis, her armies were said to fight with a fire and a passion unrivaled by any force on Talis, often defeating numerically-superior foes through sheer drive.
In recent years, the Cult had all but withdrawn to their temple at Caer Uruk. Here, they trained Sal’Hadrin and priestesses, while sending envoys to various cities and nation-states that welcomed them. Often, teams of Sal’Hadrin were dispatched to remote villages and towns to dispatch bandits, monsters and other threats. These traveling warrior-monks also served another purpose: seeking out girls born with the spark of psychic potential to serve the Cult as priestesses or, in rare cases, as a Sybil.
As with all other sects of the Imperial Creed on Talis, the Cult of the Morning Star holds to a prophecy that the Saints shall be reborn, invested into a “chosen one” who will be born at some unknown time prior to a foretold celestial alignment. To that end, the Cult of the Morning Star has used various methods of divination and fortune-telling to predict when and where potential candidates shall be, or have been, born, dispatching a Sal’Hadrin to bring the child to their temple at Caer Uruk.
The method by which Sal’Hadrin find these children is fairly open. In most cases, they approach the child’s parents (if any), and provide evidence that the child has been born with the “gift” of psychic expression. The Sal’Hadrin are highly trained in testing for these gifts, and can often convince the parents to part with the child, for their own safety as well as that of the child’s, for it is well-known that untrained psykers pose a grave danger to themselves and others. If the parents are in denial, or refuse, the Sal’Hadrin is authorized to use whatever means he or she must; the continuance of the Cult, as well as the defense of the many over the desires of the few, are paramount.
If the child in question is an orphan, it is much easier to bring them to the Temple, either buying them outright from whatever orphanage they reside at, or simply taking them from the streets. It is through the collection of orphans that many who will grow to become Sal’Hadrin are chosen, though the Cult also offers attractive opportunities for many families without psychic children, as they offer education, room and board, and the opportunity to serve the Cult in a number of ways.
The Sybils are a special case. These are girls who are born fitting a special set of conditions and circumstances that indicate they are potentially hosts for the soul of the Saint reborn. What, exactly, these conditions are is a secret that is very closely-guarded by the cult, though those who have studied their practices have deduced that the Sybils are all born with the spark of psychic expression, and this spark will manifest itself at a markedly young age, usually many years before the onset of puberty (the typical age at which psychic expression is noted). They will also be head-strong, willful, and stubborn, though some experts indicate that this is not constant, and the only truth to this is that Sybils will be naturally strong in spirit and willpower, which is typical of gifted psykers. Lastly, some say that all Sybils of Inanna As’Ishtar are born with a birthmark in the shape of a lion’s paw somewhere on their bodies, though this has held true in only four of six known cases. Other Sybils have never been examined closely by reputable witnesses to determine if this holds true.