Asterist Orders

Any three Asterists, including laypeople, can form an "adoration" for the purposes of private prayer, worship and study. Such leadership as exists in an adoration rotates.

Any nine can form a "congregation", which may hold rites and have teaching from a qualified Asterist scholar. A congregation may choose three of its number to exercise rotating leadership duties, this appointment lasting for a ritual year (renewable).

Any 27 can form a minor order. They may adopt a Rule of Concord and Devotion (rules for governing their collective life and worship). Again, rotating leadership by three is usual; the minor order may also be organised into congregations which may have their own rotating leadership.

Any 81 can form an order. It is usual for an order to arrange itself into nine congregations, each of which is responsible for the rites of a particular face of the Divine (see Asterism). Each congregation chooses a member of the governing nine, of whom three exercise overall leadership (rotating among specific responsibilities), as well as having three internal leaders, usually not including the delegate to the governing nine.

Once an order reaches 243, it is considered a major order. Major orders are encouraged to divide and send out descendant groups to other locations rather than growing much larger. They are still made up of nine congregations, and the leadership is as per an order, but the congregations are the size of minor orders.

Orders form larger groupings known as Rules, based around shared Rules of Concord and Devotion. The member orders may send delegates to irregular councils of the Rules, but mainly the significance is that if one belongs to an order with a specific rule, other orders of that rule will take one in either temporarily or permanently if one moves from place to place.

A local temple may be organised as a congregation or as one of the various sizes of order (as appropriate), but usually it is just a congregation, regardless of size, unless the people are unusually devout. Sometimes there is an order consisting of some, but not all, members.

There are lay orders and scholars' orders. Lay orders are devout people in a local temple who adopt one of the simpler Rules. There will usually be one or more scholars associated with them, who may practice an elaborated version of the same Rule. A scholars' order consists only of partly- or fully-trained Asterist scholars, and usually has a stricter and more comprehensive Rule. They may live communally and have property in common (though they are allowed personal property as well, in all but the strictest Rules). To enter such an order requires a minimum degree of training, vows of adherence to the Rule, and oaths to one's fellow order members.

The designated leaders of the order may exclude or accept an applicant. If they accept the applicant, the rest of the order must also vote to accept the applicant (overall two-thirds in favour plus one). The applicant then takes initial vows and oaths and has a probationary period of one ritual year, or longer if the Rule or the vote of the order requires it.

Orders are mixed-gender, and couples and families are not only permitted but encouraged. However, some contemplative orders consist only of people who are either not yet oathbound or who have been widowed and have no dependent children. They usually have associated orders with a similar, but less strict rule to which members can go if they wish to be oathbound.

The existence of hidden orders is officially denied.