"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." -Ephesians 6
Set back slightly from the bustling city square, the main cathedral is still easily accessible to all who wish to enter, and is open all hours for worshippers.
The main cathedral hall is well known for its ivory marble interior. Designed to hold up to 200 worshipers, general services ususally do not fill it, but on holy days, it is often packed to capacity as worshippers come from all over the Golden Circle.
The rectory building is located off the back of the main catherdral, and houses the Church offices, library, infirmary, dining hall and the living quarters for the senior clergy and the youngest novices.
Just off the center of the inner ring is a small stone temple, of one room, built by the Church about 2500 years ago.
Acolytes travel there twice a week to tend to the Temple.
The members of the full priesthood that reside in Amber are effectively the most powerful members of the Church. There is a Council of eight priests, which the high priest resides over as a ninth, able to break any stalemates in decision. The council is more an advisory body than anything. In any and all matters, the high priest has final decision, for he is the chosen of the Light. But the council can influence the rest of the clergy, and if the high priests decisions are met with constant disfavor, life can become... messy.
High priests are usually chosen by the former high priest, or in some cases, by the Council. In one extreme case, a high priest was chosen by the Unicorn herself.
Council Members: F. Cadaes Vauhn, F. Ethore Agroric, M. Sarah Makin, F. Austin Lerent, M. Hannah Whitienne, M. Madison Durst, F. Conner Renkin, F. Samuel Caldwell, F. Timothy Levet.
While there is a significant population of church members in Amber, the majority of the Unicorn clergy is spread throughout the Golden Circle and near shadows. There is a branch of the Church in each of the Golden Circle Shadows. They are run by priests or priestesses, who are autonomous in that shadow, but still answer to the High Priest in Amber for anything monumental. Cadaes requests monthly reports from them, and is known to make surprise visits to the branches periodically.
There are also a number of missions throughout the Golden Circle and scattered into the nearer non-aligned shadows. There are run by friars and abbesses.
Cadaes was the youngest priest ever to ascend to the leadership of the Unicorn church at, the tender age of 52. A charismatic man of deep faith, he was a natural to succeed Yberimos Dieric, his teacher and mentor, when Yberimos died at 289, after having led the church for 100 years.
While there was opposition to Cadaes' ascension, it was quite well quelled by an appearance of the Unicorn during the argumentative proceedings. It was the first time in millenia the Unicorn had become involved in the choosing of a High Priest for the Church devoted to her. And she chose Cadaes. End of argument.
Cadaes held the Church away from the family during the volatile years of Eric's rule and the Patternfall war. It was his position that the Church would not become involved in the family politics whatsoever. On a more personal note, he was heartsick with Eric's rule and policies.
But with the Unicorn's choice of Random to take the throne after Patternfall, Cadaes has slowly begun his move to integrate the Church back into the lives of the Royals.
Now 189, Cadaes is still a vigorous man, as energectic and charismatic as during his first days of office. Of recent, he has takes Gerard's daughter Gwynhwyfar under his wing.
The High Priest/Priestess is the leader of the Church. He or she oversees all church activities within Amber and the Golden Circle Shadows. Settles disputes, makes decisions regarding church funds, etc. Refereed to as "Father" or "Mother."
Ceremonial Dress: White mantel with a gold unicorn embroidered on the left and right breast.
Everyday Dress: At discretion, with a white collar bearing a small embroidered gold unicorn
Priest -- Priestess
Priests or Priestesses have been fully ordained. They can lead mass, take conversions, etc. Standard reference "Father" or "Mother". Many Ordained travel throughout the Golden Circle, and run churches there.
Ceremonial Dress: White mantel with a green unicorn embroidered on the left and right breast.
Everyday Dress: At discretion, with a white collar bearing a small embroidered green unicorn.
Friar -- Abbess
Friars and Abbesses are those who have taken their vows to the Church, but who have not gone through the Ordainment. Often scholars, young nobles sons or daughters with no chance of inheriting.
Friars and Abbesses are not required to take the final Ordainment; in fact, many remain at this level for their entire lives. Those who do often run missions, study, etc. referred to as "Brother" or "Sister".
Ceremonial Dress: Green mantel with a white unicorn embroidered on the left and right breast.
Everyday Dress: At discretion, with a green collar bearing a small embroidered white unicorn.
Acolytes can be of any age, but for the most part they are adolescents or young adults who are training to achieve a higher level in the church. It is during this time they learn of the Church, the liturgy, etc., take part in tending the Grove temple, and essentially find if this life will be right for them. At the end of 5 years (can be shorter or longer at discrestion of High Priest), they must either take their First Vows or leave the Church.
Everyday Dress: Grey tunic, with a green unicorn embroidered on the collar. Acolytes don't have ceremonial robes; just a dress version of the everyday tunic.
When a friar or abbess is Ordained, they are allowed to cast off the Third Vow, as a reward for their service and commitment to the faith, though many keep their Third vow. At this point, they renew their Vow of Faith and Celibacy or Chastity in a fasting ceremony in the Grove.
If a friar or abbess has decided to leave the church for some reason, they can request of the High Priest consider them for an ascension. At this point, they can opt not to renew their vows, releasing them from their service to the Church. This is exceedingly permanent - it is very rare that anyone has been allowed back after leaving the church at this point.
Ordeal by Night
After fasting for a day, the initiate must drink from the Chalice of Souls and then spend a night in the Grove in meditation and prayer.
It is said that during this ordeal that the Unicorn speaks to the candidate, but many outside of the church believe this only a hallucinatory effect caused by whatever liquid is places within the Chalice.
The initiate picks a second to watch over him or her during this night.
Ordeal of Ordainment Little is known outside the Church about the ordeal to full priesthood. The belwo is an excerpt from the book of the Unicorn-
After a three day fast, the candidate must drink from the Chalice of Souls, and ascend the Stairs to the Tir on the final night of the full moon, with redemption in hand, and await the Light's call.