|Temple of Lions
|Type||Sect of Religio Seluciana|
|Theistic philosophy||Dualistic Panentheism, Polytheism|
|Major Pantheon||Azarean, Bastet|
|Minor Pantheon||Dugrk, Unkai, Pardin, Bietis|
|Major Prophets||Terek the Bullslayer|
|Holy City||Varishehr, Barmenia|
|High Priest &|
|Elagabalus Medus and Aurelia Meda|
|Founded||7 September, 3249|
|Separated from||Sacred Feline Cult|
|Liturgical language||Classical Brmek, Selucian|
|Number of followers||1,000,000 (est)|
The Temple of Lionists was first set up in 3249 by Adelaide Celticae, leader of the Crimson Crusade in exile in Barmenia. Having converted to Hosio-Felinism, a belief generally considered tolerated by Crusade founder Alamar Xarfaxis, Celticae learnt about ancient Barmenian folklore, such as that of Terek the Bullslayer. Celticae worked to find an organized belief system and structure for Hosio-Felinists and to integrate the Seluco-Pontesian exiles into the power structures of the Feline Homeland of Barmenia.
Lionists believe in a form of cosmic panetheistic dualism, in a bipolar existence where forces of the divine are present in all things. According to lionists, the primary creative forces of cosmos are mainfested as Bastet the Cat Goddess of the Moon and Azarean the Lion God of the Sun. These were born at the dawn of time and mated to give birth to all the other gods.
According to a theology developed under the reign of the Mede Dynasty of Barmenia, the two are reincarnated each time as the Shah and Shahbanu of Barmenia. For this reason, the monarchs should be siblings and wed to one another to emulate the Mother and Father Gods. A union between siblings (or other family members) is divine and reserved for royalty only. It is called Tangilahi Gervlik.
Other major deities revered by Lionists are Dugrk, the Tiger God - God of Success, Unkai the Leopard Goddess - Goddess of Identity, Pardin the Lynx Goddess - Goddess of Love and Bietis the Steppe Cat God - God of Fate. While Lionism is by it's nature heterogeneous and venerates many different feline gods and goddesses depending on local traditions and sagas, these are generally venerated by the entire community of Lionists.
Lionists, as the name suggests, has a special reverence for lions, considered to be the children of the Sun God Azaeran, who supposedly lives inside the Sun. As a result, Lionist priests are often refers to as “Sun Priests”. Gold and red are their liturgical colours, and fire is considered a sacred element, as it is believed to have originated from the Sun.
A popular legend promoted by Lionists is that of the demigod Terek the Bullslayer. Born out of a rock somewhere among the mountains of Sisula, far from even the remotest village, Terek set out to find his purpose in life. He came to a city were the citizens were terrorized by a demonic bull. The bull demanded to receive a cat to eat every day from the inhabitants of the city, otherwise he'd slaughter them all. As Terek protested this injustice and was sentenced to death by fighting the bull, a burning golden sword appeared in his arm. After a long fight, he managed to kill the bull, which caused an earthquake. The city was destroyed, and the inhabitants who had agreed to sacrifice their cats to the bull all perished. Cutting the bull into pieces to be used as food for the few survivors, upon opening the stomach, Terek found all the cats consumed by the bull well and alive. He was then taken to the Sun by a chariot driven by seven pegasi to dinner with the Azaeran, who revealed himself as his father and Terra itself as his mother. Terek is considered the most perfect man ever born by Lionists, but while this story is taken a literal truth by some fundamentalists, it is nowadays considered a metaphor by most.
As Lionism sprung out of the Selucio-Barmenian community, they have adopted much of their morality from the Selucian Patriarchal Church. The Temple places a large importance on obeying ones leaders and respecting ones family, and considers mothers of particular reverence, often referring to them as Queens. Premarital sex is considered a privilege for cats alone, as cats are solitary beings and do not require a present father for their upbringing. The Temple also does not tolerate contraceptives, same-sex relations or polygamy. Experts argue that the later is mostly a result of political influences from anti-Ahmadi sentiment, as ancient Lionist saints such as Terek the Bullslayer are described as having practised polygamy. The use of contraceptives or homosexual relations are also in practice largely tolerated by the Lionist community. Following the integration of Felinism into Selucian Polytheism, Lionism was purged of Hosian elements, leading to a much more permissive morality.
Lionists usually practice their faith through assembling in local shrines to contemplate together with the cats that live there. These shrines may take the form of sacred groves, but are usually made out of stone and well decorated with lamps, mats, pillows and occasionally divans and water pipes. Chairs are usually not present. There are different practices associated with communicating with each of the gods. For instance, when trying to communicate with Azarean, believers usually sit in a ring around a fire, meditating with open eyes while trying to receive insights from him. The practice of communicating with Bastet is usually done at night while meditating with open eyes looking at the sky.
On Sundays, believers usually assemble in the bigger Temples, to say prayers for their loved ones and listen to sermons. This doesn't usually take longer than a half hour. A practice inherited from the Selucian Church was the sprinkling of water on each other and on cats. This practice is widely condemned by Orthodox Felinists, as cats do not like water. Lionists usually defended the practice with that it involved very little water and reminded of how cats clean each other. After the purification of Felinism of Hosian elements, the practice of sprinkling water on cats was ended.
Lionists also practice Walpurgis Night on the 15 of April every year, a practice that originated in far away Mordusia.
The Temple of Lions is led by a diarchy of one High Priest and one High Priestess, who were in the past chosen either by the Mede monarchs or elected by a college of nine Sun Priests called the Court of the Sun. In 3834, following the integration of Felinism into Selucian Paganism, the Mede Shah and Shahbanu were recognized as the High Priest and High Priestess of the Temple. Traditionally, the Mede Queen/King has had a large say on the internal matters of the Temple, and sometimes appointed both the Court of the Sun and it's leaders. The High Priest and High Priestess are now full members of the College of Pontiffs, the governing body of Selucian Paganism, with the duty of overseeing Lionist cat worship.