Where Gods Fear To Tread
The history of the Dichotomy is as old as Elphatal itself. The deep underlying codependency, the ambiguous nature of good and evil, and the constant shift of prominence are all themes that exist prominently in Elphatalian culture, though which stems from the other is a subject up for rather heated debate.
One odd distinction of Elphatalian religion is that each family, no matter how great or small, has a patron god. This god can be of any purview, and they vary as greatly as their families. Regardless, these gods possess a sort of symbiotic relationship with their human family, as the God provides them with fortune to the best of their ability, the family provides them with worship. The difference with Elphatalian culture is the Dichotomy, which are sorts of political positions that Gods can take or lose as time goes on.
A Dichotomy consists of a Throne and a Rod, which are two concepts that are thematically linked. Thrones are usually positive concepts, whereas Rods are primarily negative. Examples of the more prominent Dichotomies are given below.
There are many Dichotomies, but the following five are the most prominent, and considered the most powerful. It is important to note that while Thrones are generally positive and Rods are generally negative, neither are good or evil. Rather, a Throne and Rod need each other like a shadow needs light; without one, the other is meaningless. It is this understanding of dependence that informs much of Elphatalian culture.
Elysia, Throne of Bliss/Carsera, Rod of Pain: the twin concepts of bliss and pain have been interpreted many different ways, but one of the most notable was some 120 years ago, when the positions were held by Antiva and Guadill, two warring goddesses who were also occasionally lovers. The disputes between their followers were…unique.
Liberum, Throne of Knowledge/Voiedoh, Rod of Ignorance: a favorite topic of Elphatalian scholars, these are the most closely interlinked of the pairs because knowledge cannot come without acceptance of ignorance. The most recent gods to hold these were Palla and Treayla, a Mother and Son who held no ill will toward each other.
Eroja, Throne of Love/Diseben, Rod of Betrayal: the pair that is most frequently subverted, Eroja is often held by deities of possessive natures, and Diseben is often held by gods of progressive ideas who break old traditions. A notable pair is of 431 B.K., Majana and Pheta, bitter enemies whose followers nearly split a city in two.
Amithyl, Throne of Peace/Wastayn, Rod of War: the most clear-cut of the Dichotomies, it is very rare for these positions to be held by subverting deities. It has happened, as in the case of Numenath, a god of Sloth who held Amithyl for many decades. He was deposed by Sorla, patron of Rehabilitation, for whom the southern sea is named.
Anima, Throne of Soul/Materia, Rod of Limitations: the most abstract Dichotomy, Anima and Materia tend to change the least, with certain deities holding them for centuries at a time. The Ban hit just as they changed, with Lekotheo, god of Journeys holding Anima, and Materia held by Coequa, goddess of Time.
Despite the cultural and moral significant of the Dichotomies, the nobility of Elphatal have undergone a strange sort of atheism in the wake of the Ban, believing that if the gods can be taken away by mortals, then maybe they were never there to begin with. Such an idea is becoming more prevalent as time goes on, sufficiently so to greatly worry the Clerics of the now defunct deities. Crises of faith are common as the voices of the gods, once so easily heard, are now silent.