This is a compilation of my brainstorming when I was out of town last summer about a major religion in the Empire.
The Empire is a collection of hundreds, even thousands of separate nations. Likewise there are thousands of different religions within it. The Empire has no official religions, although there are several very large and influential sects.
One of the largest sects is known commonly known as the Imperial Cult. It has evolved from a small old religion native to Tiana’shal’s homeworld of Pashim IV. The catechisms of the Imperial Cult are mostly the same as is originator, the Toric religion. For example, they both share the same creation myth, described below.
Toric Creation of the Universe
The universe was created by the being known as Tor. Tor was sexless and ageless, both everywhere and nowhere, infinitely large and infinitely small. At the moment time began, Tor split into two beings, one male, Torin, and one female, Tora. Such great energies were released in the splitting that the universe was created. Mater and energy were created and the universe began to expand. At first, all things were part of both gods. However, this was a stagnant existence. The gods wished for change, for variety. In order to achieve this, they split the universe into pairs of opposites, positive and negative, light and darkness, spin up and spin down, male and female, matter and anti-matter, yin and yang, energy and dark energy. Each god looks over their half of existence, imprinting their essence onto everything. Unfortunately, this separation of the universe meant that the god and goddess must also part from each other. Even still, each longs for their lover, meeting briefly whenever two halves of the universe they created combine. This union can cause great destruction as when mater and anti mater collide, but it can also spawn creation as seen in sexual reproduction.
After many years, the goddess Tora wished to create stars to bring light to the universe, and planets for her children to walk upon. So the two divided up the universe once again. Tora possessing the stars and planets, and Torin possessing the darkness between them. Thus the first systems were born.
The Imperial Cult follows most of the old Toric ways except for one important difference. They believe that the Empress is the avatar of Tora, or perhaps even the mortal incarnation of the goddess herself. The Priest Shalamay founded the Imperial Cult in the second century with this prophecy he had written down a millennium earlier.
The mother wished for a true daughter,
This prophecy was witnessed by Shalamay and a number of other scholars eight hundred years before the Empire’s foundation on planet Caldûn in the Calimsha system. Which, at the time, was the seat of the largest nation in the galaxy. It wasn’t until a millennium later, not long after the Calimsha Kingdom was conquered by the Empress, that Shalamay realized that the empress Tiana’shal fit the prophecy. [more to be added later about Shalamay]
The empress has never officially confirmed or denied the prophecy. She is still a follower of the old Toric ways but occasionally makes appearances at festivals of the Imperial Cult.
There are some polytheistic religions in the empire which bare a striking resemblance to each other. Perhaps they are all remnants of the same ancient religion from the time before the great wars.