View Full Version : What actually is the Imperial Cult?

Talkie Toaster
21-05-2005, 20:37
I was just thinking about the Emperor-worshipping humans in the Tau Empire. It occured to me I don't think GW have really told us anything significantabout the principles of the imperial cult, it seems to be tied in to the Imperium itself. Given that the Emperor didn't think himself a god in the first place, it confuses it even more.
How can a religion of such size and devotion have no core commandments, and more to the point how does the Ecclesiarchy get around it?

Lion El Jason
21-05-2005, 21:09
The Imperial cult is the ecclesiarchy. The Ecclesiarchy is the official "State church" that follows the tenets of the imperial cult.

21-05-2005, 21:18
I always took it as....what the Ecclesiarchy says, goes.
Don't do as they say and you get toasted for being a heretic.

If there isn't any real core commandments.....then it's unsurprising there's so many traitors, heretics and chaos worshipping scum about. As it only takes one corrupt Ecclesiarchic offical to start twisting their sermons and you've got a load of heretics in toe.
Look at Vandire. One crazed man turned the Imperium in on itself
Also Thor...one man put things right again.

It's Monkey see Monkey do belief system. Just do as you're told by your betters and you'll be alright.

Or at least that's my take on the Imperial Cult.

Khaine's Messenger
21-05-2005, 23:08
I've more recently imagined it to be one of many ideological "pillars" that props up humanity's manifest destiny and espouses the necessity for central (even if poorly structured!) order even in a universe as turbulent and heterogeneous as the 40k setting, all distilled into a fairly contageous "memetic virus" (see: Sisters Sabine). The Ecclesiarchy has managed to oust other religions because it either incorporates them willingly or obliterates them malifically; few independant religious organizations exist other than the Adeptus Mechanicus that can resist the predations of the Ecclesiarchy, and even then some priests might argue that the division there is only political.

Of course, it's only one of many ideas that props up the "manifest destiny" concept (the Ecclesiarchy is just the organization that pulls the "God meme" strings), I doubt anyone in 40k would espouse this view...or, if they did, I imagine they wouldn't have the same verbiage, and of course this pov has the problem that the Ecclesiarchy didn't always exist as the "state religion"; it did have to come into being somehow, probably at first because of a desire for organization of worship, although not necessarily orthodoxy (which means all the priests who stomp around and condemn each other for not being devout are kind of missing the whole point).

22-05-2005, 00:26
The origins of the Ecclesiarchy date back to just after the Horus Heresy. Many cults sprang up around this time involving the Emperor, but the one which founded the Ecclesiarchy was known as the Temple of the Saviour Emperor. Centred on terra, lead by a decorated guard officer who served in the Siege of the Emperor's Palace and known as Fatidicus to history (Prophet in an anchient Terran language). This religion spread, assimilating many similar cults and quickly becoming the primary religion of the core worlds. By the 32nd millennium it was recognised as the state religion and given the title of Adeptus Ministorum, a few centuries later Veneris II became a High Lord and over then next several hundred years the seat became permanant.

Not long after this, the Confederation of Light, founded on Dimmamar, became the only credible threat to the Ecclesiarchy's authority. It's teachings being incompatable with the Ecclesiarchy's (poverty and humber living rather than the temporal power the Ecclesiarchy wielded) and it was declared a heretic sect and a War of Faith declared with the unanimous support of the High Lords.

By the 33rd millennium, the Ecclesiarchy and the Imperial Cult were, with the exception of the Mechanicus and Astrates enclaves, pretty close to universal.

22-05-2005, 11:11
Where's that piece of fluff from?

22-05-2005, 14:55
I don't think the Imperial Cult has all that many unified statutes.

Much like the roman empire the 40K Empire is based on, most places, once conquered (and also Space Marine Chapters, etc..) are more or less left to govern themselfs as they please (within limits) as long as they remain loyal to the Empire (i.e. don't commit Heresy).

Some tidbits of the roman imperial cult... I think the similarites are quite obvious (which doesn't mean there aren't differences)

With the passing of the Roman Republic into that of an Imperial system, the nature of Roman religion expanded again to include the Emperors themselves. Julius Caesar, having claimed to be a direct descendent of Aeneas, the son of Venus, was among the first to deify himself in such a manner. At first, such a system of human divinity was largely rejected by the masses, but the popularity of Caesar helped pave the way for future leaders.

As the Imperial system gained hold, it was common practice for the Emperors to accept divine honors before their deaths. These living gods, in some cases, required sacrificial rituals as signs of loyalty and ingrained themselves with the older more traditional pagan gods. The requirement of a sacrifice to the emperor, as well as the forced belief in the complete pantheon became a significant source of conflict with early Christians. As Christians refused to worship the emperor as a god, persecution of the Christians and conflict with the cult was a constant source of strife. Emperor worship would continue until late in the western Empire until the reign of Constantine. ..

The imperial cult was an important unifying factor in the vastly undergoverned Roman empire. It was mutually beneficial for both Rome and its subjects. Most importantly, it was a focal point for loyalty to Rome and the emperor.

22-05-2005, 19:07
The fluff I posted is from the Sisters of Battle codex (2ne edition), although not quoted.

There are few universal components of the Imperial Cult. The divinity of the Emperor, the manifest destiny of humanity, the evil of mutants and aliens, respect for Imperial authority, loyalty, obidience and so-forth, but the huge number of diferent aspects incorporated into it preclude a unified approach. There will be a core set of edicts derived from the Terran cults and incorporated into the beliefs of the more Imperial cults, but most of the outlying or savage worlds are simply a case of inserting the Emperor into whatever local religion prevails and adding encouragment to follow Imperial edicts.

Also note that there is no seperate emblem of the Imperial Cult. There is the Eagle (Imperium, the Emperor, unity), the skull with halo on top of an "I" (the Ecclesiarchy and its heirachy) and the Imperialis (or winged skull, representing the sacrifices made in the name of the Imperium), but there is no equivelant of the Christian cross or the Star of David.

22-05-2005, 19:30
Am I correct in saying that part of the Imperial Cult does make the crossover between realworld stuff is making 'the sign of the eagle' in place of the sign of the crucifix/cross?


22-05-2005, 22:30
In the same way, yes. The hands are crossed over the heart, fingers spread as the wings and the thumbs forming the heads. Try it, it works.

22-05-2005, 22:38
Heh, perhaps room for another 'secret elitist' society within St Andrews to rival the KK, we have our secret sign :p

Whats the details from the uplifting primer on the Imperial Cult?


22-05-2005, 22:48
Erm... it's under the notes somewhere...

A selection of prayers etc. and those parts of the discipline code partaining to it.

20-06-2005, 04:36
That's some interesting stuff you guys. Me and a friend were actually discussing religion in the Imperium and we wondered if such things as the Jewish Faith, Christianity, and Islamh (sorry if there are spelling errors) still existed in this time, especially with how it seems that the Emperor is almost portrayed as Jesus (sorry if I offend). With the Emperor saving humanity and all that.

Gorbad Ironclaw
20-06-2005, 04:54
They are not. The imperial cult is the only allowed religion, anything else is considered heresy and will get you burned. Simple as that.

Granted, there are thousands of different cults, so there will likely be something that have some of the aspects of present day religions, but they do not exist in 40k.

20-06-2005, 06:49
I think the simplest version of the Imperial Cult is; If you ever meet a Battle Sister, do whatever she tells you to.

20-06-2005, 08:27
That's some interesting stuff you guys. Me and a friend were actually discussing religion in the Imperium and we wondered if such things as the Jewish Faith, Christianity, and Islamh (sorry if there are spelling errors) still existed in this time, especially with how it seems that the Emperor is almost portrayed as Jesus (sorry if I offend). With the Emperor saving humanity and all that.

the thing you have to remember about 40k is that it stopped resembeling our own universe some time ago and its highly probably that 2005 in the 40k timeline looks nothing like the 2005 we live in. unless the Emperor is the CEO of GW and this is his way of warning us and future generations of whats to come...

20-06-2005, 17:54
LoL good point. And if he is the CEO of GW then we all know why the universe is screwed :)

21-06-2005, 08:35
That's some interesting stuff you guys. Me and a friend were actually discussing religion in the Imperium and we wondered if such things as the Jewish Faith, Christianity, and Islamh (sorry if there are spelling errors) still existed in this time, especially with how it seems that the Emperor is almost portrayed as Jesus (sorry if I offend). With the Emperor saving humanity and all that.

Leaving aside the massive technological shift, the discovery of an alternate dimension and a galaxy-wide dark age, the realm of 40K is 38,000 years in the future. In-36000, human religion consisted of banging rocks together and perhaps mumbling at the sun a lot (except the atlanteans, who were raised by martians, obviously). Even were it not for the fact that including real world religions in a place like the Imperium would be asking for serious trouble, it is unlikely that they would survive so long in any form that we would recognise.

23-06-2005, 19:14
(except the atlanteans, who were raised by martians, obviously).

Says you. Everybody knows that the Atlantean masters came from Cygnus X-1.

23-06-2005, 22:48
Codex: Sisters of Battle once more proves it's worth, it's the section titled The Imperial Creed on page 37 that is the most helpful.

"The beliefs and teachings of the Ecclesiarchy are generally referred to as the Cult Imperialis, Imperial Cult or Imperial Creed. The Imperial Creed embodies the ideals of the Ecclesiarchy's founder, Fatidicus. Of course, the main theme of the Imperial Creed is the veneration of the Emperor but the Imperial Creed also has other implications. The Imperial Creed lauds the expansion of the Imperium, as the Emperor's domain.

It is the duty of every Imperial citizen to protect the Imperium from outside forces, and to fight against the wiles of Chaos and alien subversion. The Imperium must also be kept pure from within: heresies, unsanctioned cults and mutation must all be reported and promptly dealt with. The Imperial Creed also dictates a strong sense of hierarchy and structure within humanity. Everybody has a place and function to fulfil in the great scheme and they must be content to perform that function to the best of their ability. A respect for authority, with the ultimate authority being the Emperor himself, is the basis for this hierarchy."

Then the Codex goes on to talk about the many differences within the Imperial Creed. But the basics are here, the duty of humanity is to the holy Emperor and thereby to the Imperium. War, the constant in the 40K galaxy, is therefore as much a religious matter as anything else. And religion is ultimately about war (whether spiritual or otherwise), with the Emperor as the ultimate warlord.