Monday, September 12, 2016

Of Iron Bone And Ceramite Skin: A Look Into The Spyrehead Faiths Of The Imperivm

A few months back, I made a small group of Arxite pilgrims for the Pilgrym Project. A few days before I finished them and sent them to Peter(PDH), I had a trip to Iraq. I am very interested in religion and the Shia sect of Islam in Najaf got me intrigued. I was born in Iraq but lived in the west for most of my life so I never got into the culture too much. After coming back to my home country, I was appalled and depressed by the situation there. One of the things I did was visit some of the richest mosques in the city and I learned a great deal about this minor sect in Islam. It got me thinking to actually incorporate my knowledge of Shia faith into my Arxites.

After further thought, I decided to extend the Arxites as a small sub-sect of another minor sect of the Imperial cult. I am currently calling it the Spyrehead Faith as I do not really know what to do with the name. Their main book that they follow is known as the Arxus Dedicatum.

Last 3 pictures were taken without permission, if there is any problem contact me to remove them!

Arxites Ascend The Daylight Stair(Courtesy of btwnbolterandme)

When I was bored in school, I wrote a few paragraphs about the Spyreheads. After a bit of tweaking, here is my interpretation of these shrine-headed pilgrims:

The Faith
The pilgrimage to Terra attracts all manner of faiths, from fanatic imperialists to radical xanthites. One faith within the imperial cult has been of significant interest. The Spyreheads are a section of the Cult Imperialis that emphasizes the veneration of spyres, cities and architecture. The spyrehead faith is a human phenomenon that has occured in every city or hive. The faith fetishisize spires and thus build miniature replicas of hives for them to wear. The Spyreheads tend to be harassed and oppressed by the other more dominant sects of the Imperial cult. This has developed a sense of submission in the Spyrehead faith where they must obey the laws of the land and never doubt the reward after death.

Ascend the Celestial Stair! by John Blanche
Behind the Chandelite, a Spyrehead climbs the
eternal stairs of Terra. An illuminator at the right
draws the glorious cathedrae for rememberance
 and embracement......

Arxvs Dedicatvm
All the Spyreheads have one belief in common. The scriptures of the Arxvs Dedicatvm. The Arxvs Dedicatvm was said to be a long lost book that was suppressed by the Imperial Creed and only the Spyreheads have the knowledge to unlock its true meanings. The imperial cults base their beliefs off many different interpretations and re-writings of the Emperor's Word and the Spyrehead cults are no different. The Dedicatvm tells of the Spyrehead's unconditional love and veneration for imperial spires and architecture as symbols and saints of the Arch-Apicem's glory and beauty.

Villar by Wayne Barlowe
Turris' Altar
All Spyreheads have a traditional place to go to during their pilgrimage in Terra. Spyre-47vb also known as "Turris' Altar" is considered an especially holy place for the pilgrims. Its history was one of tragedy and suppression. Turris, who is known as the Arch-Saint, has become a martyr among the Spyreheads. He was a religious missionary who discovered the Arxvs Dedicatvm and spread the word of the spyres. He was later executed for heresy against the Imperial Creed elevating him to the status of a martyr. With this fame and grievance among the Spyrehead, a large spyre was built in memory of him. His millions of followers now arrive from every corner of the galaxy to embrace the massive tombstone of the Arch-Saint.

Notredame in Paris, France
The Rituals
Most of the Spyreheads are extremely submissive to their deities, the spires and the Arch-Apicem. Their rituals vary from the embracing of buildings and coffins of past saints to the self-mutilation that they endure. Their incense is easily recognisable, masking the scent of blood, sweat and decay with concrete, oil and metal. Especially holy or martyred Spyreheads become saints. When they die, they will be given honorary funeral rights and build a spyre dedicated to them. This symbolises the divine ascension and reward for being an 'Arch'.
Saint Edwin, Ancient Terran figure. Said to be one
  of the earliest examples of Spyreheads in human history.
That's it for now. Another article(s) would go more in depth about my concepts of the spyreheads and an account from a certain pilgrym in the daylight wall.....

Thank you Gregory Wier for correcting grammar and punctuation :)


  1. You write of the followers' self mutilation. Do the followers customarily flagellate themselves? Or does that have something to do with their masks? Are they surgically attached? Do they remove them? I look forward to hearing more about this esoteric group.

    1. The Spyrehead sect have different sub-sects. More extreme and submissive Spyreheads tend to use whips, pain augmentics or sharp objects(like holding a thorny staff). Less extreme sub-sects would just literally embrace architecture and strucures that have a holy significance to them (Their homes, chathedrals and spires).
      Some casual followers would have removable helmets and clothing while saints or pilgrims would cybernetically attach their spire fetishes. I hope that answered the questions :)

  2. An excellent start to expanding a fascinating splinter of the Imperial Creed. The 40k universe would benefit greatly from more insightful explorations of the religion like this!

    1. Thank you very much! For me it seems like Spyreheads would be a more common sect as it seems just the right type of crazy to add as a sect in the Imperial Cult.
      I was thinking the next few posts will be about them and then I will head off for another project.

  3. Wow, it is awesome to get more insights into your Arxites! They were easily some of the most memorable Pilgryms ascending the stairs that faithful day! Their silhouettes are immediately recognizable and draw in your attention.

    I particularly the notion that for some of the saints they build new spyres. Might they resemble the spyre on the saints head they honor?

    Keep up the great work!

    1. Thank you! I tried to stay true with the original Blanche illustration while giving a little bit of my own style.
      The spyres that the spyreheads usually wear is a replica of their home or even city. I would say that the spyre-grave is usually not large but in a similar style to the one they were wearing.

  4. Little bit late, however this is excellent stuff.