"Wihtout wisdom, skill cannot be focussed. Without skill, strength cannot be brought to bear. Without strength, wisdom may not be applied."
- — The Teachings of the Promethean Cult
The Promethean Cult is a variation of the faith of the standard Imperial Cult that has been officially recognised by the Ecclesiarchy as a non-heretical faith that has deeply influenced the Salamanders Chapter of Space Marines and the people of their volcanic homeworld of Nocturne.
Set down first during the time of the Great Crusade as the teachings of the Primarch Vulkan in written form and as ritual practice, the Promethean Cult formed a body of doctrine that codified and promoted the spirit and culture the Primarch desired for his XVIII Legion.
A work of both clear vision and deep allegory, it drew both upon ancient Terran philosophical and martial thought, and the rich culture and mythic history of Nocturne on which Vulkan had been raised. Core to its tenets was the conviction that the Legiones Astartes had been created to fulfil a single and irrevocable purpose: the protection and liberation of all humanity, and that they were each and every one a savage weapon given physical and spiritual form to this single end.
As living weapons they were shaped and honed on the anvil of destruction and by the hammer of war, just as a blade is shaped in the fires of the forge to its perfect edge. The teachings of the cult emphasised self-reliance, loyalty, duty, patience, awareness, self-sacrifice and, above all, self-discipline and endurance.
Drawing from Nocturne's culture of craft and trial, fire served as a dual symbol of creation and destruction and was taken as the cult's symbol and sign, as were the emblems of the anvil and the hammer.
Implacable determination and the ability to endure any hardship is of equal importance within the teachings of the Promethean Cult, and trials of endurance and strength, often marked by ritual scarring or branding became commonplace in their training and on-going spiritual discipline.
These practices, alongside overtly mystical elements of the Salamanders' belief systems, became commented on as barbaric by their few detractors, some of whom saw the growing strength of the Promethean Cult within the Legion as superstition and falsehood contrary to the Imperial Truth.
That the cult promoted the worship of no gods and set as its fundamental tenet the primacy of humanity in the cosmos was enough to deflect such criticisms in most cases, however, and it is worthy of note that some have since theorised that the strength of this mythos within the XVIII Legion served in part to "inoculate" it, so to speak, from the perfidious machinations of the Word Bearers.
Their emissaries never received more than polite indifference in their reception by the Legion or its master, and no Warrior Lodge to spread the Warmaster Horus' poison was founded in its ranks, nor would such a thing likely have been possible.
Doctrine at Present
In the present era, the Promethean Cult calls on its followers to emulate the deeds and be true to the teachings of the Nocturnean Primarch Vulkan as well as providing service to and worship of his divine father, the Emperor of Mankind.
Prometheans believe deeply in the virtues of self-reliance and self-sacrifice for others, long defining cultural values of the Nocturnean people, who have struggled to survive the harsh environment of their volcanic and earthquake-wracked homeworld.
They hold a firm belief in isolationism. This is the tenet of their faith that only through spiritual meditation and exploration performed in isolation from others can a person gain a true understanding of both themselves and how they can best honour the legacy of Vulkan and serve the will of the Emperor.
Prometheans make use of fire in many of their rituals and ceremonies and believe that they must be cleansed by the pain of fire before every major undertaking or initiative. The hammer, sometimes called "Vulkan's Sigil," the forge and the anvil are also important symbols for Prometheans due to the importance of the art of smithing in Nocturnean culture.
Promethean believers also hold sacred the words of the ancient ritual book known as the Canticle of Immolation, which is often read by the Igniax, the name given to Salamanders Chaplains, during the Chapter's various ceremonies.
For the Salamanders Astartes, Promethean beliefs manifest themselves most readily in the form of honour-scarring. Before and after every battle they engage in, a Salamander Astartes will have a symbolic scar burned into his body and another after the completion of combat, if he survives.
Veteran Salamanders who have served the Chapter for hundreds of standard years and thousands of battles will have their entire body covered in honour-scars, including their ebon-skinned faces, which only receive the honour-scars after all the other skin on their body has already been so marked.
As the Promethean Cult openly calls on its adherents to venerate the Primarchs and follow the Emperor loyally, it is not considered heretical by the Ecclesiarchy and instead has received official sanction as one of the accepted variants of the Imperium's state religion.
- Index Astartes IV, "Promethean Warriors - The Salamanders Space Marine Chapter"
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 118, 120-121, 123, 128, 246, 253
- Salamanders (Novel) by Nick Kyme
- Trial by Fire (Short Story) by Nick Kyme