The Ring of Gaea, also known as the Cult of Gaia (ガイア教団, Gaia Kyoudan), is a recurring cult which appears in the Shin Megami Tensei series. The Ring of Gaea are commonly associated with occult activities, and generally embody the Chaos alignment.
Gaeans typically believe in free will and that the strong should be the ones to rule. This commonly puts them at odds with the Order of Messiah, who are associated with the Law alignment.
Megami Tensei II
The precursor to the Ring of Gaea is known in Megami Tensei II as the Cult of Deva, which started in 2013. Its followers are referred to as "Devans." They are camped mostly in East Tokyo, having strong control over Ueno where many Sabbaths take place under their leader, Leonard. At a certain point in the story, they decide to kidnap Hiroko, the friend's lover, and hide her in Ikebukuro. After the defeat of Apollyon, the protagonist rescues Hiroko, who returns to the shelter.
After Leonard's defeat, the human members of the cult are freed from their brainwashing.
Shin Megami Tensei
Before the ICBM barrage caused by Thor, Gotou, who was himself an avid follower of the cult, led Japan under martial law and led the Gaeans using the aid of demons. Later on, Chaos Hero joins the Gaeans with his partner Rie after fusing with a demon at the Cathedral of Shadows.
During the section of the story concerning Tokyo Destinyland and Shinagawa, Echidna represents the Gaeans and the Chaos alignment in Tokyo Destinyland, while Haniel in Shinagawa represents the Messians and the Law alignment. If the protagonist kills Haniel and then chooses to help the Gaeans, they will be locked into the Chaos alignment. If they kill both Echidna and Haniel, the protagonist ends up in the Neutral path, and if they kill Echidna and then choose to help the Messians, the protagonist will be locked into the Law alignment.
Helping the Gaeans take over the Great Cathedral are four demons: Surt, Astaroth, Arioch and Asura.
Shin Megami Tensei II
The cult makes fewer appearances in the sequel. On the way to Virocana however, the protagonist can find the soul of a member of the cult in a room and he will tell them that he was caught by the Messiah Church worshiping another deity and was executed.
Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne
The Gaian Cult is mentioned early in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. Prior to the protagonist's transformation into the Demi-fiend, he encounters Jyoji Hijiri, who gives him a copy of an occult magazine called Akayashi Monthly related to the cult.
Later, Chiaki reveals the Cult of Gaia is responsible for the murder incidents, and that Shinjuku Medical Hospital is the homebase of the Cult, via information from the occult magazine.
When the Conception occurs, the Hospital is the only place not affected by the destruction. In the updated re-release of Nocturne, Nocturne Maniax, it is revealed in the Amala Labyrinth that Hikawa was once a member of the Gaia Cult.
Hikawa eventually betrayed the cult after he obtained the Miroku Scripture. He then began his plans to destroy the cult with the Conception and establish his own Reason of Shijima to recreate the world to his liking.
Several Gaians and Messians alike were murdered by demons summoned by Hikawa at Yoyogi Park before the Conception, offered as a sacrifice to bring the Vortex World into existence.
In the Amala Labyrinth, the souls of the slain Messians and Gaians can be seen preaching their respective beliefs.
Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE
After the Great Destruction, the Gaians established a new base of operations in Souhonzan, and continue to preach their beliefs of freedom. Their leader is Lord Doukan, one of the Seven Philosophers.
Shin Megami Tensei IV
The Ring of Gaea appear in much the same vein as they are traditionally depicted, except that instead of the Order of Messiah, they are fighting an organization called the Ashura-kai, who seek to create order in a barren Tokyo where humans and demons co-exist. Their headquarters and place of worship is situated in Ginza at the temple Tsukiji Hongwanji. A statue of Mem Aleph serves as their sacred symbol.
They welcome everyone who wishes to join their ranks, but prospective members must pass a trial that entails keeping a candle burning while going through Tsukiji Hongwanji's labyrinthine corridors and fighting demons who try to put out the flame. Only those who reach the place of worship with a still-lit candle will earn their respect and recognition and join the group.
This group espouses the superiority of personal power, only allowing those they deem strong enough to be one of them. However, they do not discriminate between humans or demons. After the war between them and the Ashura-kai most members are killed, leaving Tsukiji Hongwanji empty and only a small number can be found in Ginza.
At the end of the game a young boy in Shibuya talks about a B grade occult magazine concerning the Gaea Cult. It is probably a reference to the magazine called Akayashi Monthly that Hijiri gave to the main character in the beginning of Nocturne.
Shin Megami Tensei IV Apocalypse
A religious group operating out of Tsukiji Konganji. Their principle doctrine is "survival of the fittest," be they demon or human. The Ring of Gaea used to be rivals of the Ashura-kai, but after their leader's death, the group at large has weakened.
The Ring of Gaea's dogma is modeled upon natural selection, but is often confused by its members to mean a "dog eat dog" philosophy. The teachings of Yuriko were the root of this violence. She instructed her followers to unleash their suppressed emotions upon the world to shape it as they saw fit. While it stands to reason that this may have been Yuriko's intent all along, her machinations remain a mystery.
When the Divine Powers appeared, they usurped Tsukiji Konganji from the Ring of Gaea. As a result, a factional rift within the Ring of Gaea formed, dividing its members between followers of Yuriko and those of the Divine Powers' Maitreya. Maitreya is believed to have played a crucial role in Tsukiji Konganji's takeover. -Shin Megami Tensei IV Apocalypse Notes, entry - "Ring of Gaea"
The Maitreyan cultists sacrifice themselves willingly to Shesha before the second assault on Tsukiji Konganji, ending their faction. The Yuriko faction is lead by Mii and Kei, who have raised children in the Ring to be expendable tools. Toki, due to the influence of the Aether and Inanna, points out the hypocrisy of the Yuriko faction who coddle together for order while proclaiming strength and how strong they are, yet are never able to back up their boasts and acted as if they defeated the Maitreyans themselves who gave their lives for their beliefs.
The Yuriko faction work together with their former foes the Ashura-kai under Lucifer until his defeat in Armageddon, later joining in a temporary alliance with the other factions to stop the Divine Powers final scheme. Template:Shin Megami Tensei