Akuanism

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Akuanism
BeliefPantheism ; Animism
DeityAkua; Freyrmama; numerous spirits
Region(s)Borea;
FoundedEnters into the historical record in 4th century BCE; with possible roots dating back to the 1nd millennium BCE
OriginBorean Cultural Traditions;
DenominationsAkuanism
Akuanism is a religion which originated in Borea. Scholars sometimes call its practitioners Akuanist, although adherents rarely use that term themselves preferring to calling themselves cultists or follower of the way. There is no central authority in control of Akuanism and much diversity exists among practitioners.

Akuanism is polytheistic and revolves around the worship of spirits known as Brandisen and the Vodkaniate. The Brandisen in the Akuanist tradition are supernatural entities believed to inhabit all things. Including manufactured and sapient-created objects or places. Example being the sapient-made lake of Ny'amberock which host over dozen spirits in it's shrine. Vodkaniate is reserved for incredible powerful spirits or gods, example being the religion namesake Akua who protects her children (sapients), adventurers, explorers and the Goddess who taught the sapients to worship.

The link between the Spirits and the natural world has led to Akuanism being considered animistic and pantheistic. The religion is staffed by priests and priestess, known as brewmasters, who oversee offerings of food and beer or ale to cultists. This is done to cultivate harmony between the cultist and Akua and to solicit the Akua's blessing, as Akua loves her temples to be more akin to a Tavern or a community center than a traditional religious building. Other common rituals include drunkard revelry, rites of passage, celebratory debauchery and seasonal festivals.

The goddess Akua is deeply intwined with many of the creation myths to the point she's known as the goddess of life. Nearly all stories of the creation of sapients have the goddess as the main character or is told from only from her perspective. Usually the stories make use of Akua's thinking machines to create a harem of the first Urthians or Akua accidentally creating Urthians by some other means. Akua became the name-sake of the religion mostly by miscommunication and misinterpretation as adventurers go forth to explore established shrines to the goddess where ever they roamed. Making Akua's shrines and myths the most widespread across all of Akuanism all together. While majority of shrines in Akuanism isn't for Akua, she does have the most shrines directly worshiping her. The shrines of other spirits to be supplied religious paraphernalia such as amulets, coins, incense and prayer sheets to earn favor or give respects the spirit. Akuanism does not emphasize specific moral codes although it places a major conceptual focus on family/friendships and community, largely by practices such as bar craws and "adventuring."

Akuanism has doesn't have an official specific doctrinal book rather it has a collection of stories and myths, with a widely diverse range of local and regional forms with their own myths.

Beliefs

For a complete list of all Akuan deities see here.

Vodkaniate

Vodkaniate, is considered to be the "major" or "significant" deities apart of Akuanism. While this doesn't mean they are the most powerful or strongest deity, it does mean it plays a core part of Akuanism religion and into the daily life of cultists.

Akua

Akua is considered to be above all other spirits and consider to be the primary goddess that protects sapient life. The goddess is known to be extremely petty to those who attempt to take attention away from her in her "holy" places. As a result, it's considered to be deep insult to say names of other Vodkaniate (but not Brandisen) in her shrine. Usually resulting in being cursed with bad luck until one performs the necessary cleansing ritual. While she's the creator of life for the Urthians, almost uniformly in all (early) myths where she was called mother. She reacts negatively, often pointing at Freyrmama as a more suitable "mother" figure for children. As a result, majority of creation myths or stories about motherhood often cite both Akua and Freyrmama as mother to the Urthians. With several stories of creating making use both Freyrmama and Akua as joint creators as a married couple.

Freyrmama

Freyrmama is a goddess in Akuanist belief she is the "Urth Mother" and a fertility goddess who presides over planting and harvesting, embodies the mountain range in the Yasteria peninsula. She is also an ever-present and independent deity from Akua and Borean spirits. She known to cause Urthquakes when proper respects are not given toward her shrines or when enough water haven't been sacrificed to her. In Akuan stories she's often seen as a caring, loving friend to Akua who allows her rest in her domain during the Goddess travels around the Urth.

Brandisen

Spirits

Spirits are anything to-do with supernatural creatures or phenomena that are venerated in Akuanism. Spirits can be elements of a landscape, forces of nature, and supernatural creatures. It's also widely considered that if a person has done a great enough deed they can become a spirit known as a Saint.

In Akuanist Tradition, spirits are not separate from nature, but are apart of nature itself, with each spirit with its own good and evil characteristics.

Concepts

Harmony

Cult of Akua has deep sentiments maintaining a warm welcoming cultural and a peaceful co-existent with all sapient things. Harmony is often used as a catch-all term for these sentiments or believes, the act of Harmony is often assorted being a charity, warmth within the home, satisfaction of one's state of life and family, both by blood and by friendship. Many of the Akuanist stories are about creating harmony in personal and community life. Often featuring monstrous creatures such as goblins or otherworldly beings as a greedy entities that attack the harmony and love of Akua she provides. Heroes of these tales using follow a trend of heroes being reborn after a life being spent worthlessly or NEETdom.

Debauchery (belief)

Debauchery in the eyes of Akua is defined as the act of communal life centered around of life pleasures, usually a tavern in a majority of cases. Taverns playing a special role in Akuanist stories, usually being one of center locations for the heroes/heroines.

Practice

Taverns/Community Centers

Shrines to other spirits

Spirit of Borea

The Spirit of Borea (Norgesvelden: Fyllikenhenneskrasjlander, Nys'tat'en: Ny'orea) is considered to be a natural/nature spirit which represents of Borea and has one of the most holy shrines dedicated to them her. Widely considered to be one of the most important of spirits, having aiding Akua directly numinous times and having befriended the Goddess. Her shrine is a extremely closely guarded secret, only allowing three people know it's location at any time the Brewmaster of the shrine, head of the royal house of Nystatiszna and their personal Brewmaster. It's one of the few shrines that acts purely as a religious structure, not acting as a soup kitchen nor a hostel for the poor. The shrine is only visited on special occasions such as coronations, childbirth or adoption rituals and in incidents of great important that require the Spirit to assist directly with. Such as during natural disasters, famines and plagues.

During the coronation ritual, the shrine which the spirit inhabitants is transferred into the Emperor/Empress who grants the shrine holder wisdom and authority to rule their (the spirit of Borea's) body/land in their name. Provided the Emperor/Empress is a good humored, a hero/heroine of highest caliber and kept a holy life from now on. This means the Emperor/Empress is acting as a host for the Spirit of Borea, making them into a living shrine and authority to rule unquestionable among the most devote Akuanists.

Brewmasters

Prayer sheets and amulets

Modern Funeral

After death

The funeral practice for Akuanists begin immediately after death of a (or a few days before the expected death), relatives to the moisten the dying or deceased person's lips with ale or small beer, an practice known as the last call. Most devote Akuanist homes maintain a family altar or more wealthier families keep a personal shrine on their property. When a death occurs, the shrine or altar is closed and covered with a white paper to keep out the impure spirits of the dead or accursed. A small table decorated with flowers, incense, and a candle is placed next to the deceased's bed.

The relatives and authorities are informed, and a death certificate is issued by the regional government. Funeral arrangements are typically made by the eldest child and are begun by contacting the local brewmaster to schedule the event. Some days are more auspicious than others, based on the Vaaran calendar and the lunar cycle. For a example midwinter and a full moon is considered to be a excellent day for a wedding and awful day for a funeral, as the spirits of harmony can carry the couples wishes to the heavens but blind the spirits to carry the dead. However if it's midwinter but with a no moon, is a good day for a funeral but a bad day for a wedding, as the spirits of the dead that hide from the moon's light can carry the deceased towards the sky without being blinded.

The body is washed thoroughly and the orifices are blocked with either cotton, gauze or cork. Then the next part of the ritual takes place, where a professional burial maiden (can be either sex) ritually dress the body in pure white dress and further prepares the body and places it into the coffin. The deceased always wear a white, thin cloth dress regardless of gender and makeup is applied on the face. The coffin will remain open for several hours, during which burnable items which the deceased was fond of such as cigarettes or candy are placed into the casket by family members.

Wake

Held as soon as possible after the death. All funeral guests wear black and carry a set of prayer beads to honor the deceased. People attending the wake or funeral offer condolence money or drinks to the host/hostess, the money arriving in black-and-silver envelopes with special markings on it's wax seal. Drinks offered to the host/hostess are usually sweet or fruity in nature, in attempt to bring up the spirits with tasteful drinks. The family members each offer incense three times to the incense urn in front of the deceased. At the same time, the assembled guests will perform the same ritual at another location behind the family members' seat. The wake end once the brewmaster has finished the chant. Each departing guest shares a drink with the host. The closest relatives often stay and keep vigil with the deceased overnight in the same room.

Funeral

The funeral proper, is usually on the day after the wake. The procedure is similar to the wake, with incense offer to the deceased and small ale offer to the host. While the brewmaster gives a prayer chant. The ceremony differs from the wake, as the deceased is given a new name, as dead return when their names are called. The new name is often extremely long depending on the virtue of the person's lifespan or deeds they have preformed.

At the end of the funeral ceremony, the guests and family place flowers in the casket and around the deceased's head and shoulders before pouring all drinks given to the host/hostess into the casket. Then the casket is sealed and carried to a hearse and transported to the crematorium.

Cremation

What a standard Akuanist grave looks like

The coffin is placed on a tray outdoors in at crematorium and a trained pyrotechnician contracted by the brewmaster sets the body on fire. The family gathers watches the body burns from a safe distance, where they are to celebrate the memory of the dead. Passing bottle of a the deceased favorite drink around telling stories about them.

After the body is burned, the relatives pick bones out of the ashes and transfer them to the urn using metal chopsticks, two relatives holding the same bone at the same time with their chopsticks. This is the only time for Akuanists it is considered to be proper for two people to hold the same item at the same time with chopsticks. Any other time, holding anything with chopsticks by two people at the same time or passing items with chopsticks to chopsticks is considered to be a major social blunder or tactless. The bones of the feet are picked up first and the bones of the head are picked up last. To ensure the deceased is not upside down in the urn and thus cursed the deceased to see the world upside down. Ashes go to the family grave or to the local shrine graveyard if one's family doesn't have a family grave.

Grave

Akuanist graves are usually family graves consisting of a stone monument with a place for flowers, incense and empty clean bottles of ale in front of the monument and a chamber or crypt underneath for the ashes.

The date of the grave being raised and family name will be engraved on the side of the monument. The names of the deceased engraved on the urn and not the never on the monument itself. Graves often have a box for business cards, where friends and relatives visiting the grave can drop their business card, informing the caretakers of the grave of the respects the visitor have paid to the deceased.

Holidays

Akuanism has several religious holidays majority of them are only celebrated locally. However Naylorbrookisza in early 1930s promoted dozen holidays that she believed best respect Akua and promoted her values. She also adapted some of the more non-religious cultural custom in Borea, such as Midwinter.

A young girl celebrating her victory in a recent pose off contest

Slay Day

Slay day is held every Barmun the 4th, is celebrates a battle between Akua and Demonlord where Akua without any help from anyone and totally alone. Blew up the Demonlord with a single blast of her mighty explosive staff. The tradition involves the participants wearing a long red tunic, long black pointy hat and a homemade explosive staff using a wooden crook with a red ball hanging in the middle of the hook. The followers bring a small wooden toy that in the likeness of the Demonlord and fireworks. Then the holiday festive begin with by putting all the toys in the large pile tied to the fireworks before setting them off in one giant explosion. However several cities have passed bans on using fireworks due to safety concerns, favoring to dig a pit outside of town to the throw the toy into the hole before setting the pit on fire. During the event drinks of a light ales will be handed out along with cornbread and small bits of roasted meat. The holiday is often a all day event with several contests such as cooking, best costume and dramatic pose off.

Midwinter

Midwinter is a 10 day long festival in which cultists cook various lavish dishes and drink their finest alcohol stock with their neighbor. It was roots in Western Borean customs but Naylorbrookisza decided to adopt this custom as part of her attempt to unify the Akuan faith. It's held after the end of very Earlymun and lasts for ten days before Yearmun starts.

Taming of the Plow

[3rd of Iilymum]/[March 1st]

Celebration of the various spirits of Agriculture, farmers and the goddess Freyrmama. Festivities include spray water at each mask wearing participants. Masks depict various spirits of Agriculture such as Gyllenhøst or Ullgjeter. Spraying water on the masks symbolizes watering the crops and honoring the spirits. Honoring the spirits meaning it will be a good harvest later down the line.

Ranchers or people who work in the animal husbandry industry wear ears of the animals they work with made from wool. As a way to give thanks to the creatures they work with. They serve "luxury" meals to their animals, usually a mixture of the animal feed with spices and blessed by the brewmasters.

Farmers and other greenhands wear necklaces made from straw, wild plants and seeds.

Farmers and ranchers are celebrated throughout the day. Parades of farmers, ranchers, mask-wearing participants and gift bearing brewmasters march throughout the town squares. Brewmasters toss sweets wrapped in cloth bags towards children in the parade.

During the morning, before the sun has risen when the spirits are first awakened. Brewmasters and participants gather around the local shrine or temple, then travel to each ranch and farm performing rites on each of the steads. To appease the spirits and provide wellness to the nature around the area.

Midday the parade takes place and a massive dinner takes place in the local temple or shrine. Providing for the whole community with hot meals and cold drinks. While it's not required for farmers to eat first, it is tradition that agricultural workers eat first.

In the evening, games and dances take place. Children play games to win prizes and sweets. Rows of street food vendor's sprawl across the carnival, side by side with the gaming booths and the dance platform is in the center of the festival.

Shrine Architecture

Plan of a Akuanist Shrine

The following is a diagram illustrating the most important elements of a Akua shrine:

  1. Helligabborport -- is a traditional Akuanist gate most commonly found at the entrance of or within a Akuan shrine, where it symbolically marks the transition from the mundane to the sacred.
  2. Stone stairs, very rarely included in any shrine. Often preferring to use a ramp or another form of movability.
  3. Helligsti– the approach to the shrine
  4. Bønnebrett – Small building reserved for placing of prayer sheets.
  5. Lanterne– decorative stone lanterns
  6. Kontor – Shrine's administrative office and storage.
  7. Helligdomstempel– Where the brewing liquor and food is prepared then handed out to followers. Acts as the worship building for Akua and only her name is allowed to be stated within these halls.
  8. Helligsti – A secondary Helligsti, reserved for more serious matters.
  9. Naturånd – small auxiliary shrines, for reserved for minor spirits in the area.
  10. Vøktere – Guardians of the shrine, usually statues of dogs or guards.
  11. Husavann– A large building reserved for rituals and special dances. Off-limits to the public outside of those occasions
  12. Gjerde – fence surrounding the åndehus
  13. Åndehus – main hall, enshrining a major spirit of the area. It's forbidden to bring up Akua name in these places, due to her petty nature. Off limits to the public and reserved for priestess/priests entry only. As to not accidently offend the spirit of the shrine.

History

Syncretism with Asatru

When Asatru was introduced from viking traders from Eyjarian in the early 700s AD. Early Akuanist scholars theorized that both religions are true and the gods referenced by Akua are the same ones the Asatru worship. They theorizing that where Akua was more involved in Borea, the gods referred in the Asatru hold domain else where. It should be noted, that these early theologians never traveled to Concord and thus never visited a real Asatru temple. Relaying on stories brought by merchants and traveling priests to help fill the narrative they was trying to understand. The regionalized and highly diverse nature of Akuanism interacted in several ways.

Shrines (non-Akuan) along the southern western coast included religious imagery of Asatru origin. Example including Gammeltre shrine which has a curved imagine of Thor into it's largest branch and still has prayer sheets offered only in Eyjarian. It should be noted that the language in the prayer sheets have not updated to modern Eyjarian language customs.

Shines (both Akua and non-Akuan) make use of extensive use of Asatru symbolism.

Shines (of Akua) have select prayers that are still held in old Eyjarian, these prayers are only held twice a year and considered to be some of the more archaic in nature.

Akua vs Science

Evolution

Evolution for the like of a better word is considered to be a form of light heresy or a deliberate insult to a Akuanists belief system. Many cultists firmly believe in the many stories about Akua's creation of the first Urthians, often citing the similar story.

Akua grew bored of her harem and wine, her desire to create exotic tastes. Her desires lead her to an alchemist lab where she made vodka from potatoes and with corn she made the first moonshine bottle. She tasted her works and slept, the thinking machine carried her to her resting spot. Her drunkard ramblings told the thinking machines to create her a harem. The thinking machines spent much time in the alchemist labs while Akua rested fulfilling her drunk desires. Creating the first Urthians.

Vaccines

Much discussion in the late 1990s' by the brewmasters and scholar with many of them taking harsh lines on either side of the debate citing several stories at each other. A consensus was finally reached after brewmaster of Melkvernby Mathias Kinn made the argument that a particular story wasn't literal but metaphor for vaccines themselves brought forth by Akua's wisdom. Which put a end to the discussion in late 2002.

When several members of Akua's gathering fallen ill to the wicked ways of the heat, their bodies turning into a stone as their spirits went to tavern beyond us. Akua tears for her lost children filled lakes all of Borea, flooding a green suited man's home. When the green suit man cried out to Akua demanding why the great Goddess flooded his home with her tears, she could only point towards the graves of her lost. The green suit man understood, death comes for all mortals bodies but our spirits are eternal. The lost of one mortal body is always great lost on one's community, Akua plead with the green suited man for his assistance. So the green suit man labored for several days and nights while Akua wept before finally returning to the great one. He had tiny magical spears that when poked into one's skin it prevent the heat-rot from taking their lives. Thus Akua no-longer wept for her children's fate for as long the had tiny spears. They could be defend against the evilness of heat rot.

Holy Book of Akua (WIP)

In the beginning the land laid bare, hopeless and sober. Thy Akua flew down on a lighting bolt, to breathe life into the empty world. Wielding knowledge of thy heavens Akua made heaven on Urth, with thinking machines that did all the labors and a kegs of wine that never empty. Akua had hair that was as blue as the sea and flowed like a river down to her waist. Her gaze is the same as an iceberg.

Akua grew bored of her harem and wine, her desire to create exotic tastes. Her desires lead her to an alchemist lab where she made vodka from potatoes and with corn she made the first moonshine bottle. She tasted her works and slept, the thinking machine carried her to her resting spot. Her drunkard ramblings told the thinking machines to create her a harem. The thinking machines spent much time in the alchemist labs while Akua rested fulfilling her drunk desires. Creating the first Urthians.