There is a form of human bonding that can reconcile the most divergent temperaments, win the commitment of the most alienated souls, and forge a scatterdemalion cluster of people into a unified group whose members are dedicated to each other as deeply as the most closely-knit family. Such a group was once called a sodality by English-speaking peoples, but the word has fallen out of use, along with the reality it describes. It’s simply the gender-neutral term for a fraternity/sorority, a brother-sisterhood. Some may confuse it with the word “solidarity”, but that is certainly one of the features of a sodality!
There are many different kinds of sodalities, but a study of history and the human condition reveals four basic strata in which they are all arrayed. On the bottom is the primal tribe, a clan bonded by blood. Under favorable circumstances this bond will remain intact when the clan expands, and can unite many thousands of people in a large territory. Such a group shares familial love among all its members, even those not closely related; this is called philos: the deepest form of love, rooted in Blut und Boden, the earth and genome. It is dualistic and exclusive, fueled by enmity toward people outside the bonded group.
The second layer sometimes evolves from the first, as a successful primal sodality grows into a nation. This originally meant a homogeneous people, e.g. a confederation of kindred clans, but gradually it all morphed into the modern nation-state. The immediate feeling of kinship has receded in the larger socius, and this is replaced by a form of bonding that we may call fealty. This virtue derives from the sense of loyalty felt by a band of warriors, a Männerbund. Nation-states first developed during the great age of patriarchy, and the social glue that held them together was essentially yang, though shared by all the people. Fealty is fueled by esprit de corps; the populace is inspired by a collective belief-system, a Weltanschauung, which tends to exalt their nation above others and identifies them as a unique and special people. It often deteriorates into the lesser but still potent forms of patriotism and ideology.
The third level of sodality is religion. There is a qualitative difference from primal and national sodalities in that a religious sodality requires a spark from above, some type of direct contact with the higher realms of Spirit. This is to be distinguished from the lower regions of the metasphere where dwell the Gods and demons of the primal peoples. They did not consider their relations with these beings to be “religion”, for this concept arose only with the dawn of the high religions in the Axial Age, and was applied retroactively to the earlier forms. The binding force of a religious sodality is Agape, a higher form of love than philos or fealty. It causes the people to experience themselves as a unified body of kindred even though they are not biologically related, and may not even share a common cultural heritage ~ at least until a new one is created by the religion itself.