The Church of the High Spirits is an organization in Magical Girl Policy. It was based around the worship of the High Spirits and was the official religion of the Ardent Empire. The Church possessed considerable empathokinetic, political, and military might, and was closely intertwined with the Empire's rule.
The Church of the High Spirits, as the name suggests, worshipped the High Spirits, a group of benevolent gods. Faithful prayed to the High Spirits, and some could sense the gods' presence in emotional influences meant to serve as guidance. Particularly devout people could receive more concrete messages from the High Spirits through visions, and through a ritual one could personally contact the gods, though receiving miracles from them was considered extremely rare. The High Spirits were opposed by the Lower Spirits, apparently malevolent beings associated with negative emotions.
The Church's taught one to be mindful of the emotions they used, which was a major part of Ardentia culture since they could sense such things with their EKP. Positive emotions were encouraged, while negative ones were said to corrupt the user if abused. The religion had an afterlife of some sort, as it was said those who turned to worshipping the Lower Spirits would damn their souls. As the Ardent Empire's collective moral character declined, so too did the Church's, which became lax towards breaking of its old rules.
The Church held massive power within the Ardent Empire. Though it was not part of the government, it held large political sway and was considered a check to the Empire's royal courts. It was also home to some of the strongest empathokinetics in the Empire and had armed forces that worked alongside the Empire's soldiers.
The Church was led by a High Archon and had six main branches, referred to as disciplines or orders. The only branch described in detail is the Tranquil Discipline, which focused on speed and stealth abilities for missions such as combat, reconnaissance, and espionage. Another branch was the Benevolent Discipline, and the others are assumed to follow the pattern of being named for an emotion associated with a branch of empathokinesis. There also existed Inquisitors, who were essentially police and guardsmen for Church matters.
The Church mainly consisted of several shrines, a place where a group, also referred to as a shrine, conducted their business. Shrines were placed in a variety of locations and could serve as a place of worship, training facility, and/or military base depending on when and where they were deployed.
- High Archon: The highest rank in the entire Church, held by a single individual. The High Archon possessed incredible authority, but could be removed through an Inquisition, where the Vice-Archons vote on the High Archon's fitness to serve. The rank is likened to the pope of the Catholic Church.
- Vice-Archon: The top rank within an individual branch, held by one person per branch. In addition to heading their respective branch, the Vice-Archons had the ability to call an Inquisition, a process through which the current High Archon could get ousted if deemed unfit by four out of six Vice-Archons. Vice-Archons were chosen by vote within the Church, where Shrine Stewards/Maidens of the branch could offer themselves as candidates.
- Shrine Steward/Shrine Maiden: The title of a man or woman, respectively, charged with leading a shrine. An alternative name for "Shrine Steward" was "Shrine Master". The position is likened to that of a cardinal in the Catholic Church.
- Priestess: A rank that existed below Shrine Steward/Maiden. Based on the word's use in the real world, it is assumed the "Priestess" title was for women, the male equivalent was "Priest", and one of this rank was above a Deacon.
- Deacon: A rank above initiate within a shrine who would train their subordinates.
- Initiate: The lowest rank within a shrine given to trainees, with men possessing the "Brother" title and women "Sister".
- Inquisitor: A member of a policing force within the Church, which handled matters such as guarding inquisition cells.
The Church of the High Spirits was founded at least 700 years before the death of the Ardent Empire. It was a partner and check to the government, keeping morals at the forefront during the Empire's growth. As the ruling class of the Empire eventually declined into corruption, the Church was much slower to fall into a similar state. By the time of the Ardentia Civil War, however, there existed few in the Church who maintained a strong relationship with the High Spirits, and a sizable portion of the population turned to the Lower Spirits instead.
During their youth, the Shrine Maiden and Scholar entered the Tranquil Discipline and befriended each other as initiates, with Scholar happening to be the granddaughter of the order's Vice-Archon, who the Maiden idolized. The Maiden excelled in her training, but the Scholar struggled with the rigid teachings. The Scholar later recanted her vows and left to take up researching empathokinesis, which upset the Maiden, who would go on to become a Priestess and then a Shrine Maiden at a younger age than anyone in 700 years. Sometime later, the High Archon was found to be having an affair with the Empress, which became an open secret among the ruling social circles. The High Archon became part of a conspiracy to assassinate the Scholar's grandfather and replace him with a Vice-Archon that wouldn't vote for an Inquisition, as adding such a person to the two existing corrupt Vice-Archons would block a majority vote and thus render the High Archon unaccountable for any of his actions. The conspiracy also saw the High Archon station the Maiden and her shrine at a remote area and made sure not to inform her of the Vice-Archon's death, as she would've made herself a successor candidate and likely would've won thanks to her unmatched popularity among the Church's traditionalists. With the Maiden out of the loop, the voters were pressured into letting the conspirators' choice, Shrine Steward Liff, become the new Vice-Archon of Tranquility. The Maiden was only informed of the situation two months later by the Scholar, devastated by the loss of the Vice-Archon, and lost all hope that the Church could ever reform the corrupt Empire. The Scholar had been sent by the Princess, the Maiden and Scholar's mutual friend who shared this sentiment, to ask the Maiden to join their cause of sabotaging the Empire's plan to survive their world's upcoming destruction by the Other Power by relocating to Earth.
The Maiden agreed to the Princess's plan, returning to the capital city with her shrine with information on the Other Power given by the Scholar, though it was to be presented as something the Maiden received from a vision with the High Spirits. The shrine's unannounced return was seen as desertion, so they were detained in the Halls of Inquisition for questioning. The Princess then appeared with the Soldier to free the Maiden. Liff and two inquisitors stop them, but the Princess got through him by claiming she and the Maiden were in full communication via confidential reports due to the sensitive intel on the Other Power, and threatened him out of making the pardon go through the proper channels by comparing his impedance to a scandal three months prior where Benevolent Discipline officials demanding records of the Empress were found to be Platicore sympathizers. The Princess removed the Shrine Maiden from the clergy and made her her personal servant, keeping the two close for the remainder of the war. The fate of the Maiden's subordinates following the questioning and their leader's departure is not stated. The Church of the High Spirits is assumed to have collapsed along with the Ardent Empire and the Ardentia homeworld at the end of the war.
- High Archon: A man with the highest position within the Church. His affair with the Empress was an open secret among the courts' circles, and he was part of the conspiracy to kill Scholar's grandfather and have Liff fill the position of Vice-Archon of Tranquility.
- Inquisitors: A pair of Inquisitors that accompanied Liff while confronting the Princess and Soldier over the sudden pardoning of the Shrine Maiden.
- Liff: A man who maintained his position in the Tranquil Discipline despite his infamy as a sinner thanks to corruption within the Church. Originally a Shrine Steward, he succeeded the Scholar's grandfather as Vice-Archon as part of a conspiracy.
- Scholar: Granddaughter of the then-current Vice-Archon of Tranquility, she entered the Tranquil Discipline. She had difficulties in her training as a Sister due to the strict traditions, and later recanted her vows to pursue a degree in empathokinetics instead.
- Scholar's grandfather: The Vice-Archon of Tranquility and grandfather of the Scholar. He was idolized by the Shrine Maiden, who was close to both him and his granddaughter. He was assassinated as part of a conspiracy, which also made sure Liff was voted his successor.
- Shrine Maiden: A woman who entered into the Tranquil Discipline and became the youngest person in seven centuries to achieve the rank of Shrine Maiden. She was staunchly devout and fought against the Church's corruption, earning a stellar reputation among her peers and a strong connection to the High Spirits. She joined the Princess's cause of protecting Earth after deciding the Church and Empire were too far gone, with the Princess also removing her from the clergy.
- Shrine Maiden's subordinates: Members of the Shrine Maiden's shrine, including young initiates and deacons. They were originally stationed at an area far from the warzone and only had to monitor the Platicore's soldiers and Other Power. The Maiden had her shrine return with her to the capital city on the Princess's orders, but this seeming desertion from their post had them all detained for questioning. What happened to them after this, including the Maiden's release and subsequent removal from the clergy, is not stated.