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"Looking at Dazh"
Not watching where you are going or being caught unawares.[1e]

The Cult of Dazh is the most organised of all the Kislevite cults, though that is akin to being the tallest Dwarf or the least ugly Kurgan. Most stanitsas have a temple, led by a chief priest called the "watcher." Watchers may have several attendants, and below them are the young initiates. In a small stanitsa, the watcher may be attended by only two or three faithful; in the cities, a temple to Dazh may hold a hundred men. This disparity is perfectly natural—the larger the city, the larger the duties, the greatest of which is to prepare the temple.[1c]

Beliefs

Every stanitsa has a priest of Ursun, but every house displays a symbol of Dazh. This reverence is upheld both in the oblast and in the cities. Only the most objectionable of foreigners would live in a house without a mark of Dazh above the hearth. Of course, the observance of all his rituals and strictures varies. The nature of Dazh changes, too. In the north, he is seen as a great saviour whose worship can be a matter of life and death. In the south, he is more a figure of hospitality than fire. Every city, town, and stanitsa bears a shrine to Dazh. His holy days are dutifully celebrated throughout the nation, and his high priests have considerable political power due to the ubiquity of their faith.[1b]

Signs of Dazh

The two most common symbols of Dazh are the sun and a flame. Occasionally, depictions of firebirds or the Arari are also used but only on the most ornamental displays. Gold is the sacred metal of Dazh, and the more devout and higher-ranked priests wear this metal to demonstrate their adoration for their God. This shared aspect does not cause confusion with the symbols of Ursun, as his priests only wear gilded bear parts.[1b]

Strictures

  • Never let a fire go out during the night. Many interpret this stricture as never leaving a fire unattended.[1b]
  • Never light a fire on a dirty hearth.[1b]
  • Always give hospitality to those who ask for it, even enemies. Leave none out in the cold.[1b]
  • Offer sacrifices to Dazh on the first day of the winter snows, so he returns with all speed.[1b]

Holy Days

Every day is a holy day for Dazh. He must be welcomed as his flames leap from the hearth to make the morning meal and wished well as the coals are extinguished when the household or temple goes to sleep.[1c][1d]

The major holy days are the first and last day of the winter snows, when Dazh is bid farewell and thence welcomed back from his ride to the far side of the world, as well as the summer solstice. The summer solstice is the most important and is marked throughout Kislev. On the solstice, Dazh's power is at its height, and he spends the most time shining his fire down upon the world. To celebrate, a great pyre is lit and animal sacrifices burned upon it, typically whole ox, horse, or elk carcasses. In the capital, a dozen head of cattle are slaughtered for the pyre. The faithful also place in the fire pieces of parchment bearing special prayers to Dazh to intercede on their behalf. As the king of the sky, he has connections to all the Gods and so is petitioned for such things as good harvests, good health, and even love and riches.[1d]

In the farthest northern reaches, this ritual still exists in its original form, with a Human sacrifice instead of an animal. Typically, the victim is an unmarried girl, for she cannot grow to be a warrior and does not yet care for children. While a sad event, it is not seen as evil in any way—far worse would be to cause Dazh to hide his face and the whole stanitsa freeze to death.[1d]

Cultists

The current watcher in the capital of Kislev is an officious, paranoid, and wraith-thin man by the name of Macks Tanei. Watcher Tanei is paranoid about two things: not doing right by Dazh and being assassinated or otherwise deposed by jealous attendants. To combat the former, he has created a vast collection of new laws regarding fire lighting, and both he and his attendants are often seen dashing across town to ensure these laws are kept. In trying to combat the latter, Tanei has accused almost everyone of plotting against him, alienating any allies he might have had. He is not, however, likely to be assassinated; politics in the cult are rarely that extreme, and most expect him to die soon enough from the stress he causes himself.[1c]

The Tzarina also employs a priest of Dazh within the palace, possibly to reduce her need to encounter Watcher Tanei. Although Katarin keeps in regular contact with the Cult of Ursun, the need to maintain her hearth means only the Cult of Dazh has a representative in the Ice Palace. Fredrek Solzeyn is the current attendant to the Tzarina. He is a dour and dutiful man who also served the Tzarina's late father. It is believed the Tzarina trusts him greatly, but so far, Solzeyn has yet to use this to his or anyone else’s advantage.[1c]

Holy Orders

The Cult of Dazh has no holy orders. Instead the cult is one large hierarchy, the priests of the Kislev temple positioned at the top. Many followers of Dazh place a great deal of importance on this hierarchy, and much time and attention is spent working to ensure the right people are appointed to certain posts. The cult does possess a lay order of lancers, however. Called the Rota of the Dawn, they are employed to guard Dazh's temples from raiding Kurgan and Beastmen. They also act as bodyguards to high-ranking members of the priesthood. Members of the Rota of the Dawn are drawn from rotas based in the southern capital. Thus, these knights have a (mostly deserved) reputation for not knowing a great deal about survival in the oblast.[1c]

Temples

Temples of Dazh are large, circular structures completely open to the sky, like an arena. It is important to pay homage to the sun God in full view of his majesty. In the centre of the circle is a statue of the God and a fire pit or brazier, which in many temples must never be allowed to go cold. In the cities, these temples can be a hundred yards across, complete with a golden statue and hundreds of bronzed braziers. It is up to the young initiates to make sure all these fires do not go out, and many a young cultist of Dazh has lost sleep from monitoring his appointed flame. In small stanitsas, eternal flames are not possible, so the central fire is extinguished at night and relit in the morning, a practice that conveys no disrespect.[1c]

The cult has many duties beyond maintaining the temple fires, of course. Prayers must be offered to Dazh at dawn and at sunset by burning incense to thank him for his ride and wish him good rest. These are typically done in the temple, but travelling priests may do them over any fire.[1c]

Dazh does not require any particular observances from those not of the faith. He does, however, demand respect for his gift, and as a result, his followers are something like fire wardens. They walk through their stanitsas or neighbourhoods at night, ensuring no fires have been left unattended. They watch over the construction of fire pits and fireplaces and ensure wood supplies are kept dry. Without the Cult of Dazh, it is likely that many a stanitsa would have burned to the ground long ago.[1c]

Politics

In Kislev, the Cult of Dazh has potentially more political influence than the Cult of Ursun, thanks to its tighter organisation, but under Watcher Ydeski it does not use this influence for much of importance, concentrating mainly on the enforcement of minor commands of the God. Katarin pays homage to Dazh and is known to trust her personal attendant, Fredrek Solzeyn. Indeed, she has more contact with him than with any priest of Ursun. This preference has led some to suspect she has plans for the Cult of Dazh and may be grooming Solzeyn to be the next head of the Kislev temple.[1a]

Certainly, some young priests have started preaching that the Tzarina is the chosen agent of Dazh, appointed to defend his holy fires against outside threats, and no one has moved to stop them. Some suggest this tolerance can only mean that higher authorities in the cult want to encourage the spread of such beliefs.[1a]

While Watcher Ydeski is too bound up in his own paranoia and petty crusades to care, there are priests in distant regions of Kislev who have said that they do not believe an ice witch can be the chosen of the God of Fire. Most are careful to emphasise they believe the Tzarina is the rightful ruler of Kislev; those who do not are arrested and tortured until they do so. If, however, the Ice Queen does try to impose a new doctrine on the cult, serious trouble could ensue.[1a]

Source

  • 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Realm of the Ice Queen
    • 1a: pg. 27
    • 1b: pg. 38
    • 1c: pg. 39
    • 1d: pg. 40
    • 1e: pg. 37

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