Astra Aeterna ("Eternal Star," often shortened to simply Astra, also called "Aster Aeternus" in the masculine) is, according to "her" followers, an omnipotent god of light who almost never interferes directly in mortal affairs, but watches and judges from afar. Originally a small cult within the Achaean Empire, the followers of Astra have now grown into a powerful group, especially since the reign of Emperor Aurelius I, who was himself a member of the cult. Their symbol is a four-pointed star, usually white or silver.
It is difficult to determine exactly when the Cult of Astra first appeared. Some scholars believe it arose from cults based around the ancient Southron goddess Mithra, and that Astra Aeterna might be an aspect of Ormazd, the God of Light and chief god of Parsanshar and/or Ma'at of Kemhet. Some followers of Astra agree that their god may be the same as these others, but they differ from their followers in many beliefs and practices. Others deny the connection altogether. The cult gained popularity in Achaea after the rise of the Empire, and some say Exar I himself was a follower of the faith, though this could be a rumor spread by Aruelius I to lend historical precedence and validity to his faith. It was Aurelius who began attaching the four-pointed star to Imperial symbology, associating the Emperor's highest position in power with Astra's highest position in the heavens, high in the stars, above even the Olympian gods. Later Emperors apparently saw no problem with this association between the Cult of Astra and Cult of the Emperor, so it has remained even under Emperors of different faiths. The gods, after all, do not seem to mind.
Followers of Astra actually believe "her" to be a genderless entity of pure light, embodying all that is good and right and just in the universe. Most followers of Astra prefer to refer to the god in the feminine to emphasize "her" more benevolent and motherly qualities, but many use the masculine (Aster Aeternus) when invoking the god for battle against the forces of darkness. Followers of Astra acknowledge and respect the other gods, but pay homage to Astra above all of them.
The chief calling of a follower of Astra is to lead a virtuous life. They often call upon the Virtues for aid in times of need, revering them as the beings that Astra left to keep order in the universe, among both gods and men. The live their lives according to the tenets that the Virtues embody.
While some adherents of Astra practice their faith alone or in a small local cult, many join a monastic or chivalric order dedicated to the virtues of Astra. Below are some of the major groups.