The Cainite Heresy was a heretical belief during the Dark Ages that was practiced mainly by Christian Cainites, mostly but not exclusively by Lasombra vampires. It is steeped heavy in Gnosticism and counted with a flock of human priests and clerics.
Historically, the Heresy sprang forth from various blood cults in which vampires were worshipped as gods. During the days of the Roman Empire in 74 CE, as gnostic cults flourished, a Lamia named Artemisia fell in love with the mortal scholar Menippus, an adept of the great Gnostic Apollonius. Both exchanged lore with each other: Menippus told the Lamia about the principles of his cult, and Artemisia shared the principles of Cainite lore with him. This caused the Cappadocians to take notice of the cult. Soon, vampires, due their incorruptible bodies, their independence from the material world and due the power that their disciplines granted them, were regarded by some Gnostics as creatures of higher spirituality and were sought after for teachings in exchange for vitae. But these cults were splintered and when Christianity rose, many passed into oblivion.
The first of what could be called the an organized version of the Heresy established when a Byzantine monk wrote the Euagetaematikon, the Book of Shining Blood, after obtaining a copy of the Book of Nod. Knowing that under the eyes of Michael, the tome would not survive, the monk smuggled it into the West, where it soon found followers who acted in secrecy. In the wake of mortal heretic cults, like the Paulicians, the Carpocratians, Manichaeism, or Arianism, many Cainites seized opportunities to feed upon the cultists who revered vampires like the old Gnostics. With each heresy that were hunted by the Church both east and west, the doctrine of that what in the end was called the "Cainite Heresy" grow until it reached the form it maintained during its height.
Since its early nights, the Cainite Heresy has infiltrated and subverted the Catholic priesthood, amassing great wealth and influence in the process. It has even woven its tendrils into the Road of Heaven, turning otherwise pious Cainites onto a darker path that can lead to darkness and damnation. In turn, some prominent followers of the Road of Heaven have started to focus their attention on eradicating the Heresy.
In Iberia, the mainstream of the Heresy is particularly prominent in Portugal, where it is led by Bishop Vibius Fimbria. Although Fimbria is a Lasombra, he is dedicated to the Heretic beliefs that are frowned upon by the Amici Noctis (Heretics are liable to be punished or destroyed if found out). Archbishop Ambrosio Luis Monçada leads the efforts to destroy the Heretics, but his influence in Portugal is minimal.
The Crimson Curia, a body of the cult's most influential priests, leads the Heresy. The Bishops of Nod form the Curia under the leadership of the Archbishop of Nod. After the events of Bitter Crusade, the former Archbishop Narses was divested of his title by the Curia, and granted to the Tzimisce Nikita of Sredetz.
It is the Crimson Curia that sets the Heresy's doctrine and attempts to coordinate its movements, a task near impossible given the Heresy's fragmented nature. The Curia espouses that Caine was, in fact, God's favorite and the Mark is a sign of God's favor, not a curse. In turn, having been touched by the hand of God, all Cainites are akin to angels, revered as divine beings and true prophets and messiahs.
The Heresy believes that Caine was a being of spirit and matter rejected by the physical Demiurge. Christ was the Second Caine, pure spirit sent to guide humanity to the Embrace (and thus to Caine). The Heresy expects the corrupt physical world to end with the arrival of the Third Caine.
According to some popular interpretations of the Heresy's holy text, the Book of the Shining Blood, the Third Caine should have entered the world in 1206, will remain in it for 33 years, and then bring on Gehenna in 1239, when the Time of Thin Blood would begin. During this time, the Third Caine will walk the world and save those who share his blood. Needless to say, this rapidly approaching date causes a certain manic tension among the heretics.
The interpretations on the holy book of the Heresy may vary from heretic to heretic, but all have a common tenor: the divinity of those afflicted by the Curse of Caine in the tradition of the gnostic cults of the Roman Empire. Vampires, according to these teachings, are infused with divine pneuma, the essence of God himself, which is centered within their vitae. Further, the material world is a cage, created by the demiurge Ialdabaoth, the 30th Aeon of God. From a tiny rest of pneuma, Ialdabaoth created Adam. In order to free Adam from the rule of the demiurge, the 14th Aeon, Sophia, descended unto the world and became both Lilith and Eve – spirit and flesh.
From Lilith, Caine was born, and from Eve, Abel was brought forth. When the two of them attempted to please Ialdabaoth with offerings, the demiurge rejected Caine out of jealousy of his spiritual nature. Thus, Caine slew his material twin, Abel. This induced God to mark Caine with his power and shared the gift of pneuma with him. But mankind rejected Caine, and thus Sophia pleaded with God to send a Second Caine. And God sent Caine's spiritual twin Jesus Christ into the material world to teach mankind the holiness of shed blood, but Pilate made his sacrifice in vain, when he washed his hands in Christ's blood.
The Church that developed later is the Church of Pilate, not of Christ, and, as a result, true salvation can only be achieved by following the true teachings of Caine and destroy the false Church that exists today.
The adherents of the Heresy commonly believe in six commandments, similar to the Traditions.
- Thou shalt love the childer of Caine, for they are thy salvation incarnate.
- Thou shalt not harm any childe of Caine, and shalt sacrifice thine own life for their sake.
- The presence of Caine is inviolate; thou shalt bring others into the presence of a childe of Caine only when bidden to do so.
- Thou shalt pay with thy life for the actions of thy kine, thy flock, or thy lackeys should they harm a childe of Caine.
- Thou shalt always work to increase the domain of the childer of Caine, and shalt all thou hast in beneficence from them.
- Thou shalt reveal the childer of Caine to no one, and shalt thou sacrifice thine own life for their secret.
The main goal of the Heresy was the corruption of the Christian church into a vampiric tool in order to undermine the dangers of True Faith and to destroy one of the main bastions against direct vampiric control. And, of course, bringing about the Third Caine.
- One of the symbols of the heresy was a tridekagramm, likely symbolizing the thirteen Antediluvians.