|Theology||Dualism, Reincarnation, Polytheism|
|Region||Taanttu Sea Region|
|Origin||~700 BC |
Siðarkuv /sɪðäɾkuv/ also known as Devotionism, is a religious and philosophical tradition which originates in modern day Bavkïrak. At the heart of Devotionism is the concept of "Taf", or spiritual order. Taf is derived from the balance between the pure "Kalin", and impure "Karin" aspects of the world. Like other Bavkïr religions it puts a high emphasis on ritual cleansing and purity of actions, thoughts and words. Devotionism divides the afterlife into seven realms of reincarnation, in which the mortal realm is included.
The origin of Devotionism's beliefs are the oldest of the Bavkïr religions, going as far back as the eighth century BC in art depicting the creation wheel. During this period, the religion was syncretic and was therefore divided between various tribal associations with each having their own set of gods and practices. One of the earliest Devotionist religious teachers was a man by the name of Ïkaaþ Tahtalj (Ïkaaþ The Teacher) who was of unknown origin living during the sixth century BC. According to legend, he had undergone a quest for Tukruub, the god of discovery to visit each of the tribes during his lifetime. Having written the first Devotionist religious text, Ïkaaþ is considered the founder of the religion by some as he had codified the various beliefs of each of the tribes, having been a traveler during his lifetime, though the beliefs already being present in the region beforehand. Following the codification of the religion, it became properly organized, and would eventually provide a unifying force between the various outlying Bavkïr tribes during the construction of the Great Temple of Kyal in West-Central Bavkïrak to which people still go to during religious pilgrimage.
Devotionism's founding beliefs also gave rise to Ṡavirsiid during the late eigth century AD when the prophet, Akru Taçaran denounced the need for so many gods and proclaimed that there were no masters but Taf itself. The radical new ideology began to spread and by the 13th century the region was divided between the two religions, though neither of them found a large contiguous area for the tribes each considered their own as truth. This changed during the Imperial era, when Tuur united the various tribes under his banner in retaliation to the Terminian conquest forcing the region to unify. Though Tuur himself did not institute an official imperial religion, Devotionism had already been instituted as its official religion midway through the Çaraj Dynasty. As a result, Northeastern Boroso is more heavily populated by Devotionists than Ṡavirsiidis.
Being a Devotionist
He who follows the path towards purity. In much the same way that the Bavkir iconography consists of objects being reflections of themselves, the Devotionist in himself represents this same symbolic theme. A devotionist falls into place as not only an individual seeking to become pure in oneself before the world, and also as part of the greater whole as part of the religion seeking to create purity externally across the realms. This can be compared to how a child fits into his family, or how a family fits into a clan such that the singular believer fits into the greater community of the religion.
A devotionist is considered as such from the time of one’s induction into the clan, which is carried out soon after one is born. A rite is carried out that puts them not only into the religion, but also into the clan, and this rite might vary from clan to clan, and sect to sect. For example, the Zhinaii take the newborn sailing to invoke the divine protection of the great seabirds from which their namesake is derived, as well as Vïhïð the wind goddess so that the child’s life may be looked upon favorably.
The belief in the reincarnation of souls might run contradictory to the concept of becoming part of the religion, such that if it were considered true, everyone would be a devotionist. However, there is also the belief in different realms that one can go to, and of course, never return from, becoming bound to a single realm.
While many priests are isolated in temple compounds devoted to the study of scholarly and religious texts, living the scholarly lifestyle, there are also nuns and priests who travel and bring the message of the religion to the many corners of the vast land and the lands beyond. The message brought to the many people of the world is a negative one. A world peopled with corruption must be taught how to live a pure life to correct their destructive lifestyles. By embracing the code of laws, and the doctrines of the faith, and constantly striving for a goal to make the world more pure, can one better their conditions.
Induction into the faith for converts who leave their original faith runs similarly to induction for children, however the new convert must first burn symbols of the old manner of living, leaving behind the past, and moving into the future. The symbolic gesture is echoed in how a person’s body is burned upon their death. Ties to the old realm are burned away, and the spirit is free to move on to a new realm. The induction ceremony continues with the bestowing of the rest of primordial elements, earth, air and water and invocations of any number of the gods to bestow their fortunes upon the convert, which might become personally or otherwise relevant. The ceremony finishes with bestowing a white robe to the newly converted individual to signify a striving toward purity.
With regard to a traditional Bavkir society, the foreign devotionist is considered a respected visitor and should be treated well, even being allowed to marry into a clan or start his own without having to perform any rituals or special functions to curry favor from the clan such as a foreign heathen attempting to ‘take away’ someone from the clan.
Those who have left the faith are still considered part of their clan and will receive the support and protection of their fellows so long as they continue to uphold the traditions and partake in the clan’s practices. However, the apostate can, at any time, be expelled from the clan and not need a reason to do so. Being that they are not considered part of the larger community, a reason is not needed to be given to expel them from the society.
Views on apostasy vary from hard to soft interpretations of scripture. On the one hand, those who rebuke the ways of Devotionism are destined to descend to lower and lower realms as they embrace an unbalanced, and chaotic life. On the other, however, the follower may still be able to attain a reincarnation into a higher realm by following the correct path. In the softer interpretation Tukruub understands that though they may be lost, they are walking down the correct path. In the hard interpretation there are no other paths than to walk the one between Kyal and Kari.
Followers of other sects of Devotionism are not considered apostates, but rather followers of Devotionism. It can be said that they devote themselves to the singular deity, or aspect of the faith, much like a monk or nun would.
Stance on LGBT rights
“In two molds we are cast, and not one.”
It is right that the man be enamored with the mystery of the woman, and the woman to be enamored with the mystery of the man. To live in a manner otherwise would be to deny both the knowledge of the other.
In Devotionism, marriage and intimate relations are to be kept between a man and woman. This is in keeping with the emulation of the marriage of the divine man, Tamruud, and the divine woman, Kadesh, his wife. Their union brought forth into the world, Gerush: life. This creates and sustains the family, the clan, the tribe, the nation, and all mankind. Rejecting this, one brings impurity unto themselves for they are unwilling to sustain the clan. It would be better for them to remain single for the rest of their life.
Provided that the man or woman who has desires ordered towards both men and women remains with their opposite, then they may be allowed to wed with the purpose of joining together and creating something new, sustaining the clans.
Since time immemorial, men and women took up the mantle of their birthright and continued the time-honored traditions of the Bavkir people down. To reject your birthright is to reject the Bavkir people and Devotionism. Transgender people are not welcome in the faith.
In devotionism It is important to keep clean the body to avoid becoming corrupted by the world itself. It is recommended that bathing is to be done daily with the sunset, as the day is coming to an end or with the sunrise as the day is beginning. This is to emulate the cycle of the day, and the making new of the self. Hands must be washed before and after a meal is eaten. Hands must be washed once in purified water after giving offerings. Women who have finished menstruation are not allowed to come into contact with another person until they have bathed in purified water. Hands must be washed twice in purified water after sacrifices are made. Hands must be washed three times in purified water after touching a corpse before it has been cremated.
In order to enter places of worship, or hallowed ground a believer’s hands and face must be washed outside of the temple or monastery. A pure, or hallowed land must be respected, and this ablution is done to wash off impurity before entering. Monks and Nuns who live in the monasteries are considered part of the hallowed ground and may not be touched by the worshippers until they have washed their hands.
Clothes that are worn by the sick and dying must be washed three times in purified water, then dried by a consecrated flame. These clothes are then used to help the sick and dying. Clothes left on the corpse when the person has died are to be cremated with the body. Similarly, the clothes worn by pregnant women when they give birth are to be washed once in purified water, dried by a consecrated flame and either returned to the woman, or given to another expecting mother in her clan.
Contaminated belongings that cannot be cleansed are instead immolated in consecrated fire. In the new year festival of Zalaz, the priests consecrate a large bonfire in the middle of town, and the belongings of the dead that have not been reclaimed by the clan, and other possessions that cannot be repaired are cast into the fire to be destroyed.
Beings that can live and die are considered to have both pure and impure aspects.Beings that die on the middle realm can either move towards the upper realm, if the pure side wins, or towards the lower realm if the impure side wins in their hearts. Everyone is capable of pure actions and impure actions. Therefore, everyone is capable of either ascending to higher realms, and likewise descending to lower realms. The ultimate goal of this, is ultimate purity in the highest realm as suffering decreases.
There are actions which can be considered pure, that may not be considered what is pure in other religions. It is asked “How can a devout devotionist commit acts of piracy, and yet still be able to ascend? Is this not impure?”. In one respect, piracy comes from a place of greed, and causes suffering on those who are afflicted by it so it can be considered impure from that perspective. In another respect, the pirate needs to provide food and coin for himself and his clan which may have come under hard times, and is struggling to survive. Is it impure to provide for your clan, especially from overflowing coffers?
Since increasing the amount of chaos or order in the world does not affect the purity or impurity of the world as this distinction is considered to have a different distinction from purity and impurity does. This is important when considering how someone’s actions affect the world. Impurity can arise in both order and chaos, as undue suffering can arise from the oppressive dictatorship, or from too little structure leaving the people to fend for themselves amongst the wilderness.
All military regiments and naval vessels are required to have at least one warrior monk/nun as part of their unit by religious law. They provide spiritual advice to the soldiers, generals and commanders and are around to provide funerary rites to those slain in battle when necessary. Throughout history, temples have been required to train its youths in military combat in order to fulfill these spiritual roles on the battlefield.
“We must know both war and peace, and come to prefer peace.”
Vow of Purity
Priests are held to a higher standard of upholding purity than the average tribesman. As such, during most days of the year, they are not allowed to consume alcohol, be intimate with men/women, smoke, and must practice moderation in all areas of their life. According to legend, shunning all of the pleasures of the world made the priests decadent and corrupt over time, unable to relate to the common man. This led to the relaxation of the purity laws of the taking of the vows. Since the monastery reforms, the priests were allowed to participate in the festivals of the laity. As an example, during the marriage ceremony, the priest is allowed to take part in the celebratory parties of those clans that would be wed together. These wedding parties would traditionally include alcohol, and more recently includes exotic practices such as smoking the hemp plant.
Priests may not marry in the Devotionist religion. They are beholden to keeping the laity on the path of purity, and to serving the temple to which they are bound. So, it follows that a priest must be chaste in his or her duty to the priesthood. However, being that complete deprivation from desire is also a situation to avoid in Devotionism, there is a time when the monks and nuns are allowed to participate in intimate relations, provided that they do not pledge themselves to each other. This is also known as the festival of the full moon, a fertility festival dedicated to Kun in which couples would get together to spend the night trying to get pregnant.
Now, nuns would certainly get pregnant from these relations. The children of these relations would also be raised in the priesthood, knowing neither their mother or father, but only the clan of the temple’s nuns until they reached maturity and given the choice to go off into town for education and become part of the world or remain as part of the priesthood. Historically, they were not given a choice and were forced to remain in the priesthood.
Each order has its own restrictions to join. Some are more stringent and require the members to be and remain virgins for their entire life. Some require its applicants to have been broken in some way before coming to the temple to serve. There are radical sects that require its monks/nuns to be of homosexual attraction, but those remain heretical and not recognized as devotionist by the government of Bavkirak.
Many of Devotionism’s lessons come from observing nature. Core to its belief system is that nothing is forever. Not the sun, not the tides, only the universe will last forever. Many things flow in cycles, such as the destruction and renewal of the universe. Cycles like that of eras and the changing of power are easy to see. One clan in their time will not be able to rule the world forever. But yet the ruler of the world will change from nation to nation, clan to clan.
It can be said that there is order in chaos and chaos in order. Change is inevitable but yet it doesn’t have to be destructive, and can in fact be constructive.
Life & Death
It is believed that all things that bleed are alive. Everything that is alive needs some sort of metaphysical energy to keep moving, that will eventually run out. Blood is the fluid that carries this spiritual energy. It is stored in organs, and the heart and vessels. Key to this belief, is the making of blood soup, and other organ-based foods central to ritual feasts. If the essence of another animal is consumed it is possible that it may be carried on to the consumer. Because the body carries the soul’s spiritual energy, it may become difficult for the spirit to pass on to another plane should the body remain intact. Therefore, the dead are disposed of either by cremation to destroy the connection between the physical world and the spirit, or by burial at sea to deliver the deceased to Kyal, god of the great sea.
Death is not the end, but a new beginning. If one conducts themselves rightly, and lives in a pure way, they may ascend the planes. However, if they are impure and destroy themselves, they will descend the planes toward destruction. When Tukruub, blackbirds perched on his canoe, brings you to the great sea beyond, it is time to go. What separates the planes from each other, therefore, is visualized as a vast, ethereal sea which can be navigated by other-wordly boats commanded by gods, ghosts and other lost souls.
It can be said that the soul of a man who has lost his purpose is already dead in the eyes of devotionism, for he has no greater purpose to devote his life to. He has no change or growth in himself.
The Nation and the Church
As warrior-monks and warrior-nuns contributed to the fighting force of various clan militaries throughout all of Bavkir history, it should be mentioned how the religious clergy, monasteries and the state interacted. Typically, a monastery was secluded from a community, while churches and temples were considered a part of a community. This led to the question of where the monasteries’ loyalties were at any given time. Some monasteries, such as those to Yarju, were able to field armies, so their allegiance would be important to know when it came time for a conflict between two different powers. Nominally, a monastery was considered a vassal under the head clan of a state. This did not pan out entirely as some monastic orders became states unto themselves if they found themselves in a position of power.
This changed with the adoption of the imperial system where monastic orders were all legally subservient to the imperial emperor in much the same way that other vassal kingdoms and clans were. Monastic orders were expected to contribute soldiers and other contributions to the empire if they wanted to keep a level of sovereignty that they had before. This led to the monastic orders gaining power in the state, before a civil war started which led to their defeat and dissolution of the orders.
This led to an issue where the Bavkir Emperor held all monasteries in the country under its possession, but the monasteries were where priests were trained as well. So, the monasteries were turned over to they local governing bodies. For example, monasteries close to a city such as Takub would be incorporated into the city. In this way, the monastery system was merged with the temple system.
In the modern day, religious institutions are considered owned by the state, but are also owned by the church body, and the local community.
During the time of the foundation of the Bavkir empire, Non-Devotionist religions were on the decline, as their peoples were being incorporated into the newly forming state. However, it was not until the reformations instituted by the so-called “second empire” that solidified the provincial government system. By this time the last remnants of Non-Devotionist religion had been relegated to a few small communities in Shavirca and scattered across the nation. So, while the provinces were allowed to dictate their own official sects, they would almost entirely be Devotionist.
At the district level, again, the district is allowed to determine its official ‘sect’ but some declare shavirsiid, the last surviving non-devotionist religion in the region. While the vast majority are considered devotionist sects.
While the official religion of the state is Devotionism, to say that the state enforces the religion is not entirely accurate. There are, of course, some exceptions in the districts, where they are allowed to promote Shavirsiid. It should be noted that while Shavirsiid is promoted, it is a culturally Bavkir religion, so it does not represent acceptance of foreign religions in Devotionist nations. Historically, devotionism is very much tied to being ethnically and culturally bavkir. In this, the devotionist is considered as much a part of the nation and clan, as much as he is part of the religion and following the deities of his ancestors.
Worship of foreign deities is therefore discouraged as the believer is also being pulled away from the cultural and family heritage that intertwined with the belief. In modern times the government is more lax about foreign worshippers in its territory, requiring taxes and concessions to be allowed to operate in the nation, but in the past it was strictly forbidden to worship foreign faiths in devotionist controlled territory.
The Taanttu government acknowledges all Bavkir religions, as well as some Kuyathic religions as being official faiths of the state. This is mostly a result of the decentralization of the nation into its constituent nations. The larger states' religious followers are of a majority Devotionist, while many of the smaller states of the west are majority Kuyathic.
A similar situation exists negotiated between the Taanttu government and the Devotionist temples, where they are allowed to maintain a semi-autonomous status in their nation subservient to both the state and the broader church community.
The Bavkir pantheon divides the universe into categories over which each god has dominion. A concept which has many gods gives information on its complexity and the history of the religion as it acquired more gods than it initially had in its formative years.
- Jet - Original god from beyond the veil which created the universe and is the origin of Taf. Foremost and most powerful among the gods, Jet, the creator. During the creation epic, Jet consumes a great sea monster, and vomits forth two children, Kyal and Kari, who eventually grow up to kill Jet, and spread his blood throughout the land to create the gods. Jet, however, is an immortal god. As the universe lives, so also does Jet. The pieces of his body may have been destroyed, but his essence still remains embedded into reality.
- Kyal - Derived from the word for Purity. God of Purity, and the antithesis of Karï. Father of the seas, The pure one, the great falcon are all names which refer to the pure god, or the god of order. It is said that the highest priests strive to attain a purity on the level of Kyal. Kyal and Kari’s world before the great struggle was a peaceful, yet stagnant world: without strife, destruction, fear, and yet it also did not have great joy and happiness. Kyal represents pure order, and pure change.
- Karï - Derived from the word for Impurity. Goddess of impurity, and is the antithesis of Kyal. Perhaps one of the least-defined of the major gods in the pantheon is Kari. Kari can be viewed as representing impurity, destruction, the breaking-down of the world. Kari can also be seen as the perpetuator of the cycle. In order to make something new, something else needs to be destroyed. Kari is also chaos, and change in its most raw form, an uncontrollable, ravenous force of nature that desires the new, and perpetuates the universe.
- Tavju - The god who presides over the balance of things, and the laws of the universe. A god of time, a god who watches the battle between Kyal and Kari. Tavju simply observes and takes note of the progress of the world. If the universe becomes too corrupt, it will be Tavju’s domain to interfere and correct this. Likewise, if the world has remained unchanged for too long, becoming stagnant in this state, Tavju will also interfere on behalf of Kari and instigate some kind of radical change.
- Tamruud - Being the begotten child of Kyal, forms the masculine nature and is the other half of Kadeṡ, embodies physicality. Father of all life, god of fish, the oceans, favorable winds, and waters. Fishermen Sailors and Traders alike pay homage to him whenever they go out on the open ocean for a successful voyage. They say that a truly great sailor must have been blessed by Tamruud to explain his talent. Marriage ceremonies invoke Tamruud as he is the groom in the great marriage of Tamruud and Kadeṡ. Tamruud’s waters mixed with Kadeṡ’s clay vessel to create Ġeruṡ, the god of life.
Being the symbolic father, Tamruud also represents masculinity, and physicality.
- Kadeṡ - Being the begotten child of Karï, forms the feminine nature and is the other half of Tamruud, embodies spirituality. Mother of all life. Goddess of seamstresses, motherhood, cooks, potters, and midwives. They say that a master sculptor or a legendary chef must have been blessed by Kadeṡ to explain their natural talent. Kadeṡ is also invoked in marriage ceremonies as the bride. And the marriage between a man and a woman is just as much a secular ceremony as it is a religious one, with the man traditionally bringing an animal skin filled with water, and the woman bringing a clay pot and by the end of the ceremony, the pot would be filled with water.
Being the symbolic mother, Kadeṡ represents femininity and spirituality.
- Ġeruṡ - The child of Tamruud and Kadeṡ, represents life and its propagation, a mixture of both spiritual and physical being; masculine and feminine energies converging. Presiding over the domain of all living things,Ġeruṡ is the child of Kadeṡ and Tamruud. Coming into his own as a nature deity, Ġeruṡ also governs all of the untamed regions of the world. The gods would not be the only ones inhabiting the world for very long, as many creatures were fashioned into existence and life was breathed into them.
- The elemental gods are considered to be representative of both the benevolent and malevolent forms of their elements' manifestations
- Zalaz - God of Fire. He is known as the great smith, the devourer of souls, the one that burns all things. Holding a strange position in the pantheon along with the rest of the elements, Zalaz governs over both destructive and constructive fire. Fire used to destroy can be seen in warfare, in wildfires, and devastating volcanic events. Fire used to create is seen in forges, in cooking fires, and can also be used to purify, separating dead bodies from souls. Zalaz’ furnace, a great fire that burns in Kari, is also used to destroy the souls of the wicked, feeding the flames that will be used to burn away the old world at the end of the age.
- Turvu - God of Earth. Turvu, the great tortoise, is the god of ground, of soil, and of sand. Similarly to Zalaz, Turvu is both a destructive, and constructive god. Sand can shift and move, and many a sailor has run aground on a sandbar. The soil can become barren and desolate. The ground can crack shake and destroy. Sand can also be used to make strong building materials. The soil can be fertile and grow much food for many villages. The ground can also be solid and firm, good to put houses on.
Since the beginning of the age, Turvu has slept. It is said that earthquakes are Turvu tossing and turning in his sleep. It is also said that all the pieces of land in the world were shaped by Turvu digging through the ground. It is believed that the descendents of Turvu became the Fals. This would explain the Fals reliance on agriculture, and their lizardlike appearance.
- Sunan - Goddess of Water. Sunan, the albatross, she who sits on the clouds, is the goddess of the water. The tides are at her beck and call. The waves bend to her like slaves to their master. Water can come and destroy in the form of a great flood that sweeps away entire islands and civilizations. Water cools down the world, and gives life to the plants and its people. Rivers, streams, and lakes are all a part of Sunan’s dominion as well. Of course, on one side, rivers and lakes can be navigated and used to nourish cities and villages, and on the other, they may become stagnant and dead, only growing disease and pestilence.
- Vihïð - Goddess of Air. The bringer of the winds. She who blows men’s sails. The shrieking one. The goddess of the air brings the wind to blow away the old and bring in the new so the air does not grow heavy and stale. She blesses the sails of wayfarers blowing them in the right direction. Those who have grown favorable in the eyes of the wind goddess seem to effortlessly sail across the waves. A gentle breeze that cools down the day and a great, destructive typhoon which blows away a continent both showcase the power and dominion of the wind goddess.
While the Kavs do appear to be birds like Sunan, the great albatross, they are believed to descend from the goddess of the air and wind. They are children of the skies, it is said, and not the waves. Their feathers shift and move with the great wind, and thus Vïhïð’s beauty is displayed.
- Kubur - (Former) God of the stars, stole fire from Zalaz. Kubur, who was once the god of the sun, has as his dominion the stars and several elements known for how they burn, phosphorus in particular. While some religious movements still believe that Kubur is alive and has power, such as the worshippers of the eternal flame, In the Devotionism canon Kubur is the old sun, of the last age who dies and lights up the night sky in the current age. He is replaced with the new sun at the start of the current age. It is said that, being the sun, he coveted Zalaz fire and his furnace. In the attempt to steal fire from Zalaz, something went horribly wrong and the fire escaped from the furnace, and began to consume everything it touched. The gods frantically tried to put it out, and it consumed most of the middle realm before ultimately Kubur was sacrificed to put it out. Only the death of a god could appease Zalaz all-consuming fire.
- Tukruub - God of Ravens, Discovery, and Death. He who brings souls to rest, Tukruub, is the god of the veil. He is associated with carrion birds such as ravens, and vultures, as well as various scavenging fish. As the god of the veil, he is also associated with discoveries and scientific labouring for new information is found at the edge of what is known and unknown. Thus, he may also be called a god of wisdom and of knowledge. The personality of Tukruub could be compared to a mad scientist, one who dances between sanity and insanity as if they were mere footsteps. The veil is the place of crossroads and connects the realms. He navigates this place like an experienced canoer.
- Jakya - God of Forests, Trees, and Plants. Father of the forests of plants, and trees, Jakya, is the god of nature. Being a god of plants, Jakya is also a god of agriculture, and may bring bountiful harvests or ruinous crop failure. Hermits, the lost, and those who venture out into the jungle pray to Jakya to be delivered safely to their destination, for the jungle is dangerous and filled with predators and death over every turn. Home gardeners, landscapers, and professional plants-growers alike all pray to the god of plants to strengthen their harvest.
- Yarju - God of Blood, Health, and Healing. Yarju, goddess of blood. The great healer. Stewardess of health and healing. An accomplished doctor may be called a blessed child of Yarju. Venerable men and women who reach old age and beyond may have a touch of her spirit inside of them. Blood has been spilled for Yarju, and offered up to her, with cannibalistic cult rituals of consuming the enemies’ blood after a battle had ended before offering up their bodies to the funeral pyre. Since it is believed that blood gives a creature its essence, consuming blood will make a person stronger. Many blood-eating rituals have thus been created in reverence of Yarju, such as great feasts, and making blood soup from deceased relatives.
- Yumux - Goddess of Love, Sex and Fertility. The goddess of love, sex, childbirth and fertility, Yumux is the patron of sex workers, mothers, and midwives. She presides over children as they are being born into the world to ensure that the baby is healthy and is strong enough to survive in the world. A child who dies or almost dies at birth may be considered abandoned by Yumux. There have been stories of children abandoned by Yumux who achieved greatness, which may serve to further increase the legend surrounding them. The passion between lovers is to be sacred, decrees Yumux. And yet, also Yumux is patron of sex workers who trade money for pleasure.
- Bavju - God of Storms, Chaos, and Progenitor of the Bavkir People; brother to Tavju. Known as the god of storms, to some he is a trickster. To the Bavkïr, he is the great ancestor who is responsible for the existence of their people. As the god of storms, he brings great destruction and devastation to the land. As a trickster he upturns the order of things, and is the patron of odd professions such as piracy. In spite of the destruction he wrought, he is also a nurturer to his people and gives them the knowledge of how to survive despite the storm. As a trickster, he gives his people knowledge in how to combat the elements, and live on in spite of destructive forces.
- Kuṡlu - God of Sharks, Fear. As the patron deity of sharks, Kuṡlu represents something that many-a-fisherman fears:, the very thing that brings them their livelihood turning against them. While it is true that Kuṡlu is the god of fear, this is a term that also encompasses dread, horror, anticipation, anxiety, and apprehension. A company of soldiers waiting for their commander to give the order to execute an ambush, walking home in the dead of night waiting for something to attack, a startled feeling; all are signs that the god of fear has come to keep you company. Unlike most of the other gods, his primary attribute is negative, and his shadow attribute is positive. Through dealing with fears and phobias, the children of the gods can acquire bravery. Once one becomes immersed in fear and conquers it, the unknown and dangers that once held them back cannot phase them any longer.
- Raċuk - God of Snakes, Lightning; False Security. Trickster God. Raċuk is a god of many domains, he has dominion over snakes, a sudden fear related to formerly being sure you were safe, lightning, and trickery. Trickery is what ties together his symbolic domains more so than the other aspects of his divinity. Inverting things from one moment to the next, and changing safety into danger and vice versa represent this god. While he shares his domain of lightning, with other gods, his aspect reflects its ability to strike quickly and dangerously, and can turn what was once a safe forest into a raging fire that begins to burn and destroy. In the same symbolic domain, snakes strike from the shadows, quickly and dangerously: a venomous snake’s bite turns one situation into another in a matter of a moment.
- Kawar - God of Pain and Suffering. The god of pain, suffering and enslavement. It is asked “Why do the bavkir have a god for pain and enslavement, and why is that his primary aspect? Is there a god of freedom”, and the answer is usually something similar to “There will always be pain and suffering. This is immutable. If we take away the pain and suffering and the struggles of this existence, we are taking away the greater meaning.
- Vanu - Goddess of Revenge and Justice. Vanu is not just the goddess of justice, and equity but also the goddess of revenge, vengeance, and injustice. As all things change into other things with time, justice may become injustice and injustice may become justice in time. One’s justice may be another’s revenge, and yet one’s revenge may be another’s justice. Vanu is dedicated to bringing the consequences of one’s actions to them. Be it in the form of the legal system handing down punishment for wrongdoing, the person’s own actions bringing about their wrongdoing, or the common man taking up arms themselves to punish wrongdoing against them by the hand of the wrongdoer.
Vanu is she who hands down the tradition to the halls of men: the first scribe amongst the gods whose hands write the stories of man and god alike. As a writer of things, Vanu listens to the happenings of the many realms. Conversations over rum at the harbor, tall tales fishermen tell each other, craftswomen gossiping about the foreigner who came to town. All stories are recorded, for words are powerful.
- Kiilrav - God of Death, and High Judge of Reincarnation. While Tukruub is he who hovers between life and death, Kiilrav is death incarnate. Coming into existence in the story of Gerush and Kiilrav, both were once the same god. However, one aspect was trapped in the realm of the dead, unable to return, and the other was able to leave, retaining his dominion over life. He judges where the soul goes when it passes on, and to his realm all souls go, even those who will remain trapped in the middle realm. Where, exactly, Kiilrav’s realm is, is unknown, though some say it is a shadow cast by the middle realm which is linked to all the other realms.
The test given to the dead soul is almost always tailored to the individual and their experiences in their life. To answer the question correctly is to acknowledge one’s own flaws and how they tried to overcome them, subsuming their own corruption in a striving toward purity.
Alchemy and Cosmology
- Ṡoyok - God of the sun and light; gold. The glittering sun, whose great radiance brings light and daybreak to the people of our world. Sailing in the great outrigger, Ket, Ṡoyok sails the skies charting the great sea of stars, islands unto themselves.
Gold, the noble metal, is also represented by the sun god. Gold, in combination with the sun, is also a symbol of perfection. Staring at the sun burns your eyes, and being outside too long burns the skin.
- Yitïyo - Goddess of the moon and tides; silver. Losing the divine domain of the seas to Kyal, who was once only the god of order, she is the goddess of the tides and the moon. Lost sailors look to her and the stars in their position in the sky for direction. The cycles of the moon are attributed to the same cycles of women, and the tides. As the moon spends half of its time in darkness, and the other in light, she is in the court of the gods of light and life as well as the gods of darkness and death.
She is also ascribed the qualities of silver, which reflects her hanging in the balance between light and dark, death and life.
- Kiraf and Keraf - Twin Goddesses of Aten and metallic Mercury. Mercury is both a metal and also a liquid. It is a manifestation of both the energies of elemental earth and of elemental water. The fraternal-identical twins Kiraf (F) and Keraf (M) are both representative of the dual nature of mercury and are either depicted as twins, as a conjoined person with two heads, or as a single hermaphroditic figure. Kirak & Keraf are also a manifestation of Taf, being a conjoining of the opposites. They are the representation of the self-opposing forces that suffuse the world.
- Reju - God of Sahar, of Sand and Silica. A child of Turvu, Reju is in the sand, the entire world, and the element of silicon. Despite sand existing at the dawn of the world before Turvu, Reju of Sand comes after Turvu. Reju may also be invoked as various salts in the place of silicon, or sand. Can be either an animating spirit or deadening spirit depending on the reaction the salt is used in or what the salt is, as a salt can be a catalyst or used to neutralize a solution.
- Oleju - God of Copper and Adaptability. The goddess of copper and adaptability. Metallists ascribe Kari and Yumux to Oleju, as copper is a malleable and widely alloyed metal in antiquity. Oleju is the one who is the animating force of change, as well as the force of stagnation. Oleju could be invoked to look over pacts and treaties.
- Axumo - God of Iron and Strength
- Nuk - God of Sulfur, Destruction and Maat
- Ażï - God of Veles and Lead
- Moṡ - God of Omöl, and tin.
- Ðrusku - God of Salt, Eternal Life
- Berefa Goddess of Bronze, The home, family and Ulmo
- Karï - Goddess which presides over Karinak; the realm of ultimate mortality, a place of Impurity
- Gehen - God which presides over Gehen; the realm of suffering. Gehen rules a realm of suffering just above Kari’s realm. It is a realm filled with fire, and pain. Some say that Kawar should have been the ruler of Gehen for it is a realm of pain for it would suit his domain. However, Kawar is not a deity of suffering. Gehen does let those who are able to follow the path leave and ascend again so mercy is also displayed despite Gehen’s primary domain.
- Zurmuh - God which presides over the Lower Realm; that of animalistic desires.Zurmuh is another god of death, and governs the lower realm. It is a realm of base instincts, and animals. Zurmuh’s appearance is animalistic, like a jaguar-human hybridized creature. Zurmuh encourages people to live as animals and follow their instincts, abandoning society, culture and civilization in favor of a simpler life. It is possible to walk the correct path in spite of Zurmuh’s realm being lower than Bozik’s and thus ascend again. However, many get lost here.
- Bożik - God which presides over the Middle Realm; that of the physical reality. As the leader of the middle realm, the crossroads of purity and impurity, where the great forces battle and harmonize, he tests all who live in this realm. For some, he might push them towards the right path, allowing them to follow Taf and leading their lives to fortune and prosperity. For others, he pushes them down the wrong path, away from Taf and the gods, and towards a life of discord, misfortune, and failure.
Bożik could also be considered the god of dreams in this regard, as he has been known to give messages in dreams to help the faithful, or garbled noise to further confuse the faithful, as well as unto the unfaithful and heathen alike
- Koġok - God which presides over the Upper Realm; One of Tranquility but Arrogance. Koġok is the ruler of the upper realm. “Corruption”, “Evil” or “Impurity” have a lesser hold over the upper realms than they do the lower ones. This deity has sparse details on it as it prefers not to act, but rather watch as its inhabitants live their lives in this realm.
- Havar - Goddess of Havar, the realm of the lesser gods.Havar is the governor of the heavenly realm with the same name. It is a stepping stone between the upper realm and the realm of Kyal, and as such Havar has domain over the lesser deities for they reside in this realm. Oversees the continuous growth of those in their realm towards Kyal, but those who do not walk the path may be lowered down to the upper realm.
- Kyal - God of Kalinak, realm of the greater gods and Purity
While the exact origin of the symbol remains unknown, its first appearance was in the ruins of an old temple dating back to around 1500-500 BCE, with an inscription bearing its moniker: "Jet's Creation Wheel". It is believed to have come from the spirals found in old Proto-Bavkir cave drawings, along with newer circular images found in newer pottery from the old tribal period.
When it is invoked in the religious imagery, the creation wheel can be used as a tool to explain creation, and the universe. It is the foundation of the devotionist worldview, condensed.The creation wheel is intended to be drawn from the inside out to invoke the creation, purification, or summoning (of spirits). The same image, when drawn from the outside in represents destruction, corruption, or banishment (of spirits).
In the beginning, Jet fashioned the universe from the nothingness of the corner of the void. In turn, the first circle is inscribed, bringing with it the origin of the universe, and is the focal point from which all things are derived.
A number of religious rites are associated with following the religion. They are associated with various stages in someone's life wherein a ritual must be completed in order to become more mature both in the faith, as well in one's life, as they seek deliverance from impurity in the world. A cultural tradition passed down for thousands of years, they provide the basis of a number of ceremonies in the life of an average citizen of Bavkïrak.
While pilgrimage may be a once in a lifetime event for some devout religious followers, with the adherent undertaking an extravagant journey along a long trail to many different temples and cities. The pilgrimages undertaken by followers of devotionism may be simple affairs such as going to the temple of their ancestors, to a historic site, or to a minor place of religious significance. A site of minor religious significance may be a shrine dedicated to a priest of some renown, the place where a hero of old lived and adventured, or perhaps an old temple founded by members of the clan in ancient times. Common to these minor pilgrimages, a trinket of some kind is often left at the site which was visited. These trinkets must be of some sentimental, monetary, or craft value to the pilgrim. They are not to be something that is simply not cared for, and laid at the place as a mere ‘price’.
Continuing higher in importance, the more extravagant pilgrimage sites may include, but are not limited to, a well-renowned priest, monk, or nun; the birthplace of a great hero; a temple of great importance; or merely a geographic landmark, or place of great importance either to the community or the pilgrim. This pilgrimage is often made to mark a significant transition in the life of the pilgrim. It is common, for instance, for those who have recently graduated, or recently been accepted to colleges, those who are retiring or those who have become recently unemployed. A honeymoon destination, for example, could involve the newlyweds taking up pilgrimage and going to a site of great importance to the both of them, with each other as the offering given to the other. It is important to leave an offering that is more important than a mere trinket. Some of the offerings may include any number of objects that are of value to the pilgrim that they wish to part with in beginning the new phase of their life. As noted above, a newlywed may offer themselves up as an offering, but a pilgrimage is done when the couple is very serious about their relationship. Serviceship at a temple may be offered as a pilgrimage price, such as taking a gap year at temple between secondary and university education, for instance. The offering is intended to be something that was once important to you during the first phase of life, and may hold some sentiment for, but no longer need going into the second phase of life, and thus can be donated to someone who is more in need. Remember that stuffed animal that was the world to you when you were younger? The one that was the world to you and very few things were more important than that. Now, it may just be a pleasant memory in your head, no longer do you actually need it. That is one item that can be given away as part of this pilgrimage to mark the change just as the sun and the rain trade places in the sky.
Finally, the most important and serious pilgrimage that any devotionist can undergo is to visit each of the seven great temples. Each one is dedicated to each of the planes of reincarnation, and by extension the god that rules over them. It is expected to start at the temple of the lowest plane, Kari, and move through the precession until the temple of the highest plane, Kyal, is reached. At each of the seven temples an offering is expected to be given in relation to the temple, similar to offerings given to pilgrimage to temples of other gods. To Kari, not many physical things are given. Often a person’s deepest, darkest secrets that may be eating away at the person are given up to the temple leaders, to pilgriming companions, or to family and friends back home in order to start out on the journey towards Kyal. Because of the nature of East Boroso’s political and natural environment, it was beneficial for pilgrims to travel in larger groups rather than alone on the great pilgrimage. To Gehen, the god of the realm of suffering, one might give gifts to aid in navigation, in health, or one might give up something they do often in their life that might be detrimental to them in order to set them on the right path, such as giving up substance abuse. While it is not encouraged to sacrifice your pets to Zurmuh, the god of the lower realm, it may happen rarely. It is, however, encouraged to give up ashes of deceased pets, livestock, or one’s own baby teeth or any such organic offering. At the temple of the middle realm, offerings may include jewelry, clothing, or any other possession that has monetary value as it represents physical reality. To Koġok, of the upper plane, mental endeavors must be undertaken. A piece of craftsmanship, art, or something of value to the pilgrim that has been made with one’s own hands, or mind should be offered. At Havar, there is rarely a physical offering given. For the temple of the realm of Havar, offerings must consist of forming new relationships, be they friendships, business-minded, or romantically involved. These offerings are given towards the end of the pilgrim’s journey, near Kyal, as it is encouraged that all relationships be made by the pure-hearted so that all actions around the temple complex are done with pure intentions. Finally, at Kyal, the final realm, missionary service can be offered to spread the teachings of Devotionism out into the world, in addition to temple service, and other acts of service to the gods. Once a pilgrimage is complete, a great feast is held with a sacrificial fire. In days of old, human sacrifice was demanded at the end of the great pilgrimage, however that practice is no longer widely accepted.
Coming of Age
The rite of marriage is modeled after the divine marriage of Tamruud and Kadeṡ. The wedding is physically symbolized with an exchange of gifts. Traditionally, the woman is a potter, so she will create a pot for the man, which will be presented on the wedding night. The man is the sailor, hunter, and adventurer. Traditionally he would brew an alcoholic beverage and store it in an animal bladder to be exchanged on the wedding night. When the two wed, the man will pour the alcoholic drink into the woman's pot. This symbolizes the marital obligation, wherein the creation of life is possible. Marriages are to be held at the coast or at a riverbed, or some other body of water, if that is not available. While the ritual is taking place the reading of passages from the Akam will take place, and the two will pronounce vows of devotion to each other to honor the sanctity of the marriage and always be loyal to the other.
Marriage is also used to bind together clans to strengthen the ties between them and to provide an increase in the prosperity of the clans.
During the ceremony the groom is made to stand in the shallow water among the reeds, while the bride is made to stand on the shore, on dry land. The family and invited guests radiate out from the bride and groom with the parents and siblings standing the closest, then uncles, aunts and cousins, then relatives radiate outwards until the last relatives have their place around the bride and groom, with guests and friends forming the outermost ring of the circle.
A song will be sung after the two make their vows, to bless the newlywed couple with new life and prosperity to come.
The Righteous Path
One of the rites of passage in one's life is the passage through the eight temples of the spirit. Visiting each of the temples, one must be prepared to make a sacrifice. Each sacrifice corresponding to the position in the wheel that the temple occupies.
These great temples are subject to change depending on which ones are under control of Devotionist monks, or devotionist majority countries, or how maintained the temples are in a given year. If a disaster had befallen one of the temples, and it was destroyed or damaged, the caretakers of the temple would have to make repairs on the temple before it could be reopened to the public for pilgrimages. This applies to the smallest of shrines to the greatest of the temples.
Before and after entering each of the temples, the pilgrim is to ritually clean themselves in the temple's purified water to make themselves ritually pure on their journey.
At each of the temples, once the offering has been made, the pilgrims will spend time at the temple helping maintain the grounds, with the farms and gardens, and seeking guidance from the priests and nuns of the temple, before setting off on the path again.
The pilgrim's local temple is the first stop on the righteous path. Here, the potential pilgrim will speak with the local priest(s) about which temples he will need to visit during the year, and then give up a personal offering to the local priests. There will be a feast held in honor of the pilgrims' journey
The Great Temple of Karinak is the second stop on the righteous path. A person's impurities and deepest secrets are confessed to either the local priests, to the traveling companions or to a loved one. All of the problems facing the pilgrim are to be offered up to the temple and placed in Kari's realm to take on that which is impure. This is done to reinforce the cosmological position of Karinak as being the most impure, but also Kari's role in taking on the role as the goddess of the impure, and of chaos. It is debated as to whether the pilgrim's journey starts here or when they set out from here, but the journey is intended to be taxing both mentally and physically for the spiritual growth of the pilgrims walking down The Righteous Path.
The great Temple of Gehen is the third stop on the journey. The offering one makes must be of self-sacrifice. When someone finds themself in the realm of Gehen, they must give up something that they enjoy that is ultimately impure. This may take the form of an addiction, or other destructive behavior. It follows that the pilgrim on the path must give up their bad habits, vices, addictions, and impure thoughts and actions as if they were themselves in the realm of suffering. This shows a willingness to change and improve one's life before the gods.
The Great Temple of the Lower Realm is the fourth stop on the journey. The lower realm is a place of animals and magic beasts. Zurmuh will accept offerings of animals, or plants, or other organic offerings such any saved baby teeth, trophies of hunts, pearls, and gifts of vegetables or livestock. Pets may also be sacrificed to Zurmuh.
The Great Temple of The Middle Realm is the fifth stop on the journey. The middle realm is one of physicality, so things that tie you to the world, that you are too attached to are to be given up to Bożik. This can take the form of a dead relative whose ashes that have been held onto for too long. Physical objects that can be given up to Bożik include slaves, pets, livestock, jewelry, and in modern times old electronics, or cars can be given to the temple.
The Great Temple of The Upper Realm is the sixth stop on the journey. Koġok will accept offerings made from pouring one's effort and soul into a work. This may take the form of a singer singing a song only once at the temple for only themself and Koġok to hear.
The Great Temple of Havar is the seventh stop on the journey. The offering made to Havar is one of a great choice. This choice must be something important you have been deliberating on for some time beforehand. Marriage is a common ritual done at this temple, where each member of the couple can fulfill their offering to Havar. This may also take the form of career changes, what profession or university to go into, or any number of similarly important choices.
The Greak Temple of Kalinak is the final stop on the journey. Finally, at the temple of Kalinak, one must sacifice one's own potential futures by making a great commitment. This may take the form of a missionary journey to spread the faith to the impure, or a great service to the needy. It should be a goal that shapes the rest of their life. To conduct oneself in purity until death is the ultimate goal of the great commitment. This will serve as a testament to the pilgrim's bettering of the world when they are given their last rites. A human sacrifice and a great feast would originally have been made to commemorate a great pilgrimage, as a final sacrifice of a pilgrimage group to Kyal when the tradition began, but this had fallen out of favor.
Festival of Zalaz
Fire, being the physical element that divides the pure from the impure, is that element which is used to make sacrifices. The festival of Zalaz, held once annually to bring in the New Year, is celebrated by constructing a great pyre or effigy in the center of a city (members of the village should provide some object that representing their failure from the previous year) and then burning it to the ground.
While the festival of Zalaz is often tied only to the burning away of the year's failures and corruptions accumulated in one's life over that time frame, there are also normal festivities such as a great feast occurring before the next year may begin with the hope the the proximal year may hold a more pure and fruitful future. Another important part of the festival of Zalaz is bringing food to the homeless and hungry and holding meals with them as well.
Rite of Death
It is believed that someone's spirit can become trapped in the physical world if one is too attached to their physical body. It because of this belief that the body is to be burned in death, removing anything that would attach spirits to the middle realm, allowing them to traverse to another realm of existence. This cremation must take place at the place of one's birth as it is the place where the spirit came into the world, so it will be the most familiar place the spirit would have, and will find it easier to exit at this same place.
Fire, dividing pure from impure, leaves behind the impure remnants of the body, which is then taken to a designated part of the town, where they are then buried to allow nature to transmute the impure substance into a more pure form, feeding the growth of trees. This leads to the formation of 'Ghost Forests' where the ashes of the dead are buried.
Any physical possessions held by someone who has recently died will become repossessed by the clan that that person was a part of, and then the clan allocates those possessions to any who are in need.
Cults & Sects
he children of Yavju, the god of blood and health, wish to honor their goddess by providing her with sacrifices of blood and organs. Those who adhere to this sect are likely to pursue careers in hunting, fishing, conservation, the military, and healthcare though exceptions exist. Lesser gods such as Kawar, the god of pain may be invoked from time to time, but the main deity is Yarju. Blood sacrifice is important, even more so than in orthodox devotionism. Depending on how extreme the teachings are, cannibalism may be allowed or even encouraged as part of blood ritual. One legend claims that the bloodbringers would go out of their way to brutalized and cannibalize entire villages, though the truth of the tale may be distorted as blood rituals usually only involved slain enemies, be they human or not to mark victory in battle or a successful hunt, for example. The bloodbringers evolved out of early cults of Yarju, which eventually resulted in the modern Devotionist cult.
Tavism takes the emphasis away from the gods on puts it onto the division of the world into pure and impure, or their fundamental opposites. The tavists believe that there is 'true path' to living life which consists of finding the middle ground between strict, controlled law, and unfettered choice. All things should be expressed in moderation, even emotion. Tavists may pursue a career in law or law enforcement, but absolutes are not part of the true path, and as such are not required to pursue any particular career tree. The movement to reject the pantheon and instead focus on the core dualistic philosophy came from the same reactionary movement against the orthodoxy that also spawned Jakism.
This sect places Jakya, the lord of forests and nature, at the highest place in the pantheon. They worship nature in its pure form, and denounce the destruction of forests, and parks, as well as pollution. Advocates of nature, they would prefer to live in harmony with nature and not destroy it. Places of worship are parks, preserves, and sacred groves where their priests build homesteads among the preserve and watch over it. Preferring to live in harmony with nature, many renounce their “civilized lives” and retreat into the forest with the priests and wildlife there to lead a simple life. Jakists may consider those who are losing their way, and becoming impure as those who rely too much on technology to live in the world.
The Children of Metal
The metallic gods are in their most recognized sense, essentially images of virtues to live by. While they are mostly relegated to the status of lesser gods in all of the other sects, the Children of Metal elevate them to the most important status of the pantheon, sometimes to the exclusion of all the others. The Children of Metal state that one only needs the virtues to find Taf, and that the others are walking down the wrong path towards the balance in their lives following misleading idols.
There is some controversy over whether The Children of Metal could be classified as a religion. By most criteria it is classified as a religion, but for various spiritual, diplomatic, and cultural reasons they refuse to register it in the government's census category as a separate religion.
Kyal & Kari
Kyal & Kadeṡ
Jet, Kyal & Kari
Kyal, Kadeṡ & Geruṡ
Religious icons are to be viewed as if both the positive and negative space of the sigil have symbolic significance. The positive and negative qualities of the referent object are therefore seen in the symbol when substituted for the original.
Fractally producing the flower, also creates within itself the sun motif. The creation wheel pairs well with the symbol of the flower, as when a flower blooms it expands out from its singular point to encompass a much broader area, fractally reproducing the same pattern in an ever-larger area radiating from that same center point.
The creation wheel represents the universe.