Disciples of Anu
Excerpt from a speech given by a Disciple of Anu acolyte at a nearby haven.
Hear me, good people of this haven! You know the world is an evil place; and you know it has been made evil by the corruption inside us. No, I do not speak of the mists and the changes in our bodies. We all know the corruption is much older than that; it is as old as the very beginning of Man.
Many of you will remember the world that was. In the Gospel of the Exalted, it says: "Man rose up from the apes, yearning for the divine presence in the skies; but he did not cast from him the vestments of the ape; and so his spirit remained impure, by reason of his impure body." And is this not true? Was the old world not riddled with injustice and sin? Were all good things not drowned in the mire of human nature? Did we not put our faith in science and systems, and were rewarded with suffering? Did we not turn for help to the spiritual men of the age, and were rewarded with despair?
For none would speak the one truth: there is no hope for the human race! For humans are incomplete; insufficiently evolved! We are still apes, yearning for the sky, but wallowing in filth! We cannot save ourselves - but we can be saved! For the Exalted has brought us hope, and faith that the devastation of the old is the birth of the new. Through the miracle of Communion, we can rid ourselves of the corruption in our flesh! All those who are worthy can be transformed, their bodies purified by the divine Spirit from beyond this world that speaks through the Exalted!
But beware! All those who cling to their corrupted flesh, to the imperfection of unevolved humanity, are damned! For even if they could turn back the tide and reclaim the world, their sins would follow them; and all that they built would be imperfect, and unjust, and their empires would crumble once again!
Join us, and together we will follow those who have left behind Man's corruption into a brighter tomorrow! Join us, and discover how to free yourself from sin! Join us, and you may learn the great secrets all others would keep from you!
Join us, for we will show you the path to the divine!
Preliminary analysis suggests that the Anu cult is a syncretic religion that arose in response to the global catastrophe, synthesizing elements of major Abrahamic religions with the beliefs of several pre-existing doomsday cults, some of which may have been previously investigated by the Phoenix Project. (It should be noted here that we have an index file that references an extended investigation into groups with apocalyptic beliefs matching certain patterns, but most of the actual files appear to have been lost at some point in the 2020s. If backups or hard copies exist, it would be tremendously useful to locate them.)
The worldview of the Anu cult is deeply misanthropic, seeing human nature as inherently (biologically) corrupt and technological civilization as incapable of saving itself. They view the mist as both punishment for human hubris and as an opportunity for salvation. Although details are scarce so far, particularly due to the group's secretive, extremely hierarchical nature and obscurantist language, it would appear that they are attempting to deliberately mutate human beings using the effects of the mist, while somehow making sure human intelligence is maintained in the resulting creatures.
The process appears to be far from fail-safe, but failure can easily be explained within the group's theology as insufficient belief in the teachings of the Exalted. The latter appears to be their spiritual leader and representative of a higher spiritual entity that may be referred to as "the Dead God" - but further research is necessary before we can even begin to guess at the potential significance of any of this.
Our encounters with the disciples of Anu have been peaceful; so far the frenzy to which the priests will frequently drive their followers seems to be mainly directed inward, as an expression of self-negation and dedication to the cause of physical transcendence. Their relationship with Synedrion is neutral; reports suggest that Synedrion is dedicated to respecting religious freedom, but philosophically hostile to hierarchies and obscurantism, and thus conflicted in its response to the Anu cultists. Hostilities seem more likely to break out with the genetic purists of New Jericho, but so far the two groups seem to be keeping their distance.
This text is purported to be a copy of the Gospel of the Exalted, the founding holy text of the Disciples of Anu movement. It appears to be in widespread use, although its canonicity and authorship are unclear.
The Gospel of the Exalted
Here follows the Revelation of the Divine Flesh, which the Dead God gave unto the Exalted to show unto his servants, that they might know the things that must shortly come to pass in the Heavens and the Earth.
Blessed are they who read, and they who hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written therein: for the time is at hand.
A great voice spoke to me from the heavens, saying: write down these things, that the peoples of the Earth might know the vision of the Dead God.
And I raised my eyes to see the voice that spake with me. And I saw a black sky, in which rose the Heaven of the Dead God, once lost among the stars but now finally upon us, as was promised long ago.
And there, upon his throne, I saw the Dead God, with seven sacred beasts before him; and at the feet of his throne was an eternal desolation.
And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead. And he laid his many hands upon me, saying, Fear not; I am the first and the last; and though I am dead, behold, I will be alive for evermore, and I have the keys of the universe.
Write therefore the things which are, and the things which shall come to pass hereafter.
Behold, the seven sacred beasts each held a book, and each book was written with the blood of the Dead God. And the beasts opened the books, and I beheld the salvation and damnation of Man.
In the first book were written the crimes of Man; for Man rose up from the apes, yearning for the divine presence in the skies; but he did not cast from him the vestments of the ape; and so his spirit remained impure, by reason of his impure body.
And many were the crimes of Man and his corruption. For he made war upon himself, and upon his world; he was driven by lust and greed to evil doings of a shameful nature. There was no honour and no justice, but hunger and thirst were plentiful.
All this was written in the Book of Sins, and all who read it must weep.
In the second book were written the acts of Man and their corruptions; for by the corruption of Man's body and soul, all his acts became abominations.
Here were written the names of all of Man's cities, and all his nations; and all were dust and memories. No glory could last, no empire endure, for within Man was the seed of destruction, and all his creations were imperfect.
Here too were written the names of all Man's kings and emperors, who believed themselves immortal; and they too were dust.
All this was written in the Book of Follies, and all who read it must despair.
In the third book were written the lies told to Man by false prophets, for in seeking to escape his imperfection, Man turned to many deceivers.
Here were written all the names of all the faiths that had misled Man, promising salvation in the future world, yet offering nothing in the world of flesh. Yet Man knew in his heart that it was the flesh that was corrupt, and it was there that the healing must begin.
Many abhorrent and wicked things were written here, that had been told by false prophets, whose flesh was as corrupt as that of all men; and there was no hope in the world, but the hope that comes from above.
All this was written in the Book of Lies, and all who read it must rage.
In the fourth book was written the promise of the Dead God, whose throne lies in the blackness of the sky; for it is he who offers Man salvation from the corruption of his body.
Behold: the nature of Man is not set in stone. All that is written may change, and Man is but the writing of Nature; and Nature is the writing of the Dead God. Man has rejected Nature and strayed from his path, corrupting all the world; but the Dead God is not of the world, and Man's corruption cannot touch him.
And all that is done in the name of the Dead God is protected from corruption; for such acts are not committed in the name of Man as he is, but in the name of Man as he shall become, pure of body and spirit.
All this was written in the Book of Hope, and all who read it must rejoice.
In the fifth book was written a vision of the tribulations to come; for the sins of Man, his crimes and his deceits, must be cleansed from the Earth before the new beginning.
Here was written that a star shall fall upon the Earth in its last age, and the name of the star shall be Wormwood; and at the appointed time, the star shall turn the waters bitter, and many men will die.
And the sea shall become an abyss; and there shall go up a mist out of the depths, as deep as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air shall be darkened by reason of the mist.
And out of the mist shall came forth locusts upon the earth; and power shall be given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power, to poison and to torture Man for his sins.
And the kings of the earth, and the princes, and the chief captains, and the rich, and the strong, and every bondman and freeman, shall hide themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains; and they shall say to the mountains and to the rocks, fall on us, and hide us from our sins, and from the wrath of the Dead God.
But some shall raise their eyes and look at the Throne of the Dead God, and give thanks; and they shall be led to the Waters of Life. There they shall mortify the flesh, and embrace a new birth.
All this was written in the Book of Tribulations, and all who read it must repent.
In the sixth book were written the ways of Man's advancement; for only through the Sacred Mysteries shall his flesh be transformed by the Waters of Life.
Here were written the secrets of Kenosis, of Transubstantiation, and the Wormwood Covenant; and here were revealed the powers of the Vessels, and the Divine Apparatus, and the Hallowed Machines.
But these are too great for all men to know; for Man's corruption is still strong, and there are many unbelievers. Therefore these mysteries will be entrusted to the Skeuophylax, and the Anagnostes, and others who have purged their human sin; and all who serve the Dead God faithfully shall join their ranks in time.
All this was written in the Book of Mysteries, and all who read it shall marvel.
In the seventh book was written the secret of the Liturgy of the Divine Flesh; and when I read it, the sacred beast that held it commanded me to speak of it to no-one, until the End Days were upon us. Great was my delight at what I read, and great my sorrow that I could not share it; but be of good cheer, for the day approaches, and salvation will be ours.
Thus ended the revelation, and the voice in the sky fell silent. But my heart was filled with hate of this world and its corruption, and love for the world that is to come when the flesh and the spirit are purified. And all those who share this hate and this love are welcome in my Church, for it is the church of Man who is to be, and the God that shall be alive among us.
Behold, he comes with the clouds and the rain; he comes from the sea and the stars; and every eye shall see him, and all the tribes of the Earth shall mourn. But those who exult in his coming shall be uplifted.
As the Church is extremely secretive, it has been hard to determine the exact nature of its hierarchy. This is a rough sketch of the information so far assembled.
The leadership appears to consist of seven ranks (the number seven occurs frequently; it may be related to the number of holy books described in the Gospel of the Exalted).
The first representative of the Church to contact another organization is usually the Apostle to the Once-Born. This individual does not have the authority to make any decisions, but may pass on requests or demands from the higher-ups.
Next is the Keeper of the Threshold. This individual will contact an organization that has aroused the interest of the Church in some way. His or her purpose is to decide whether the organization is worth engaging with further.
Those who have proven themselves may then interact with the Voiceless Hierophant. As the name suggests, this individual does not have any political power as such, only relaying decisions, but the hierophant may introduce others to the very first of the Sacred Mysteries.
Should an alliance with the Church continue to prove useful, one may be put in touch with the Blind Legate. This is the first individual with actual authority, acting as a proper ambassador of the Church and capable of offering various deals.
Next is the Shadowed Hierarch, an individual of great influence in both local and global affairs. His role seems to be intentionally ambiguous, allowing him to interfere in many Church matters. This is not someone to be underestimated.
Only those who have been of great service to the Church may speak to the Synod of Yearning. Our reports suggest this is some manner of compound being consisting of more than one human. The melding of multiple humans into one entity appears to be considered a symbol of humanity's yearning for transcendence. The Synod has authority in all matters except spiritual doctrine.
The leader of the Church is a being we have very little information on. It appears to be called the Exalted, and to exhibit a highly advanced but surprisingly stable degree of mutation. It has absolute authority in all matters, but seems more concerned with prophecy than politics - although we may be misunderstanding the dynamics of the Church.
Some rough notes on the titles of various other members of the Church hierarchy. Due to the frequently chaotic nature of Disciples of Anu havens and religious events, this information is still sketchy.
The leader of a haven appears to be called an Exarch. He only has authority in local matters.
A Hiereus is both priest and warrior; an Archiereus is a higher rank within the same branch.
A Skeuophylax, or Keeper of the Vessels, appears to be a type of engineer in charge of the Hallowed Machines. This position is treated as sacred, and there are few Skeuophylakes.
An Anagnostes (sometimes called a Lector), or Reader, is something like a scientist, allowed to read the texts of the Sacred Mysteries. This position is also treated in religious terms.
A Taxiarch is a military leader, apparently the equivalent of a brigadier.