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Many cultures maintain that a higher plane of existence exists, and can be achieved through various means - prayer, meditation, or enlightenment. To the Covenant, this is a literal truth and the entire reason for its existence. Known as the Great Journey, it is the core tenet of the Covenant Religion and is the goal that the Covenant strives for, with all progress and all conquests made to bring them one step closer.

Contents

Description

Main article: Halo Array
Installation 05, Delta Halo, one of seven "sacred rings" of Covenant legend.

Covenant Religion centres around the veneration of the Forerunners. An ancient, enigmatic and technologically advanced species, the Forerunners disappeared in approximately 100,000 B.C.E. after a protracted and devastating war with a xenocidal parasite species known as the Flood. Covenant dogma holds that the Forerunners achieved "freedom from a doomed existence"[1], ascending to a godlike state of existence beyond that of mere mortality, and it is the principle aim of the Covenant to follow in their footsteps, ascending to the same godlike state. The means by which they mean to achieve this is the activation of the Halo Array, an ancient network of ring-shaped artificial planets created by the Forerunners, supposedly to achieve the Great Journey.[2]

Though certainly not divine in themselves, the Prophets are revered by the Covenant as an extension of the Forerunners' will.

While Covenant understanding of the method is roughly accurate, their interpretation of the motivation and final result is completely erroneous. In truth, the Forerunners constructed the Halo Array for one purpose - the complete eradication of all sentient lifeforms in the Milky Way galaxy in a single massive genocidal purge, hoping that this final measure would at last halt the virulent spread of the Flood, allowing what few sentient species had been saved to survive. The activation of the array succeeded in this goal, but also killed its creators.[3]

In theory, the creatures being venerated are the extinct Forerunners, treated as divine entities by practitioners. In practice, however, the Prophets have assumed a niche in Covenant religion as living embodiments of the Forerunners will, assuming a quasi-mystical status in the eyes of the majority of the Covenant populace. Now forming the core of the modern Covenant, the Covenant Religion was the single unifying force that held the various species and factions together. If any evidence existed that it was false, then it was a threat to the Prophet's power and their religious doctrine, and thus to the coherence of the Covenant, and needed eradication - the fact that humanity apparently shares a genetic link to the Forerunners, and were "left behind" by the Forerunners when they "ascended", would have had dire consequences on the Covenant if allowed to be known - that the Great Journey was able to leave some behind, when the Prophets promised salvation for all, would have torn the Covenant apart. Seeking to eradicate this percieved threat to their existence, the Prophets declared humanity a heretical affront to the Forerunner's legacy and commanded the Sangheili to exterminate them.

Relics

As one of few Forerunner facilities still operational, the Threshold Gas Mine was a holy relic - nevertheless, its occupation by Heretics and infestation by the Flood forced the Arbiter to destroy it.

Given the reverence the Covenant hold for the Forerunners, it is not surprising that the various pieces of technology and structures they left behind have become items of worship to the Covenant. Even the most minor of relics are held sacred, especially to the Sangheili, who see tampering with Forerunner technology to be the most severe of heresies. To this end, the Prophets have forbidden the study of any Forerunner relics, and the modification of Forerunner-derived technology - except, of course, by themselves. While outwardly pious, the Prophets have no problem reverse-engineering Forerunner technology.

Areas once inhabited by the Forerunners are also regarded as holy sites of worship, and human presences upon former Forerunner colony worlds are regarded as heretical blemishes upon the name of the Forerunners. Even more reverence is reserved for the most important artefacts the Forerunners left behind - the discovery of Shield Worlds by the Covenant allowed their most major technological advancements[4], while the Halo installations are regarded as the source of the Great Journey, and are sacrosanct above all other worlds, with the exception of the Ark.[5]

Worship

The use of holographic generators is a common tool used by the Prophets to preach to the "lesser" races of the Covenant.

Each species practices the religion in their own way. The San' Shyuum are an extremely dogmatic culture, with emphasis on religious doctrine and holy scripture, preaching to the "lesser" races of the Covenant through holographic emitters. The Sangheili, on the other hand, are more practical in their veneration, regarding actions as more effective symbols of their reverence than empty words. When incorporated into the Covenant, the Jiralhanae adapted their own native customs to the new system, incorporating the Forerunners and Prophets into their pre-existing totemistic religion. Exactly what the Lekgolo and Yanme'e practice remains unknown, given their enigmatic nature. While many Kig-yar seem to regard their participation in the Covenant as little more than an excuse for their actions as privateers and mercenaries[6], others seem to be genuinely pious, revering the Prophets.[7] The Unggoy seem to follow the Covenant religion only because they are forced to - many have little idea of the intricacies of the religion they follow, although Unggoy Deacons are well versed in religious doctrine.[8]

Other sects exist within the Covenant religion, tolerated by the Prophets because they still pledge their loyalty to the Covenant. The Sangheili sect Governors of Contrition take an extreme view on the preservation of Forerunner relics, and include the Flood parasite as a Forerunner creation, and thus a perfect lifeform - to this end, they believe that the Flood is something that the Covenant should actively embrace and assist. At least one member, Tano 'Inanraree was a Shipmaster in the Covenant Navy in 2552, and ordered his ship near to Installation 05's surface to allow the Flood to board, and spread through the fleet. He was killed by his second-in-command, who did not share his beliefs. Even after the secession from the Covenant by the Sangheili, the Covenant religion would still play a dominant part - in the early part of the Great Schism, the Sangheili knew little about the truth of the Halo Array, or that humanity was not as heretical as the Prophets had declared. Only after the Arbiter officially formed an alliance with the UNSC did the Sangheili learn these facts. The extent to which the Sangheli have been forced to modify their religion after 2552, or whether they have reverted to their pre-San'Shyuum religion, remains unknown.

Sources

  1. Halo 2, Gravemind
  2. Halo 2
  3. Halo 2, The Great Journey (Level)
  4. Halo Wars Timeline
  5. Halo 3
  6. Halo: Contact Harvest
  7. Halo: The Cole Protocol
  8. Halo: Contact Harvest
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This article uses material from the "Covenant Religion" article on the Halo wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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