Ditanery

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The two-flowered jar, a common symbol of Ditanery

Ditanery, also known as Dykticanism (from Greek δυτικά) and Godane (from Gothic 𐌲𐍉𐌳𐌰𐌽𐌴), is a henotheistic religion which emerged from contact between Cardish and Proto-Hesurian paganism. It has no foundational text, but is instead based on several different collections of divine tradition as expressed by influential figures and oral tradition. Ditanery is considered by its adherents to be the spiritual science with a theological emphasis on healing spiritual sickness. There are a variety of movements within the religion, but the primary sects are the Cathars, which emphasize the theistic aspects, and the Alkemiisto, which tend to view the theist aspects as allegorical. Other disciplines that permeate these sects include the Seidon (from Japansese 制度ん), a transhumanist organization inspired by Taido, and the Seidor (from Old Norse seiðr), which is characterized by a belief in an epic cycle of civilization.

Ditanery emerged as an organized religion in the 3rd century with the establishment of the Grand Order of Cathartic Ditanery, which was an institution of higher learning for spiritual matters. The Cathars gained material support from governments such as Marmor Machari, which allowed them to expand by establishing schools and apothecaries. Initially the Cathars faced opposition from the traditional and unorganized practitioners of Ditanery, but many of them were incorporated into a new unified body at the Council of Sigismund and through personal inclusion in Cathartic establishments.

Characteristics

Body-Soul

The most essential unifying factor of Ditanery is the belief in the soul, which is a spiritual aspect of the physical body. This soul, like the physical body, has an anatomy of discrete spiritual organs, which, like the body, can become ill or gain extraordinary strength based on the behavior and environment of the individual. The art of the Ditanist clergy is to act as a doctor and physical trainer of the soul.

Ditanists believe that the knowledge of the body-soul is intuitive and has been a consistent element of all human societies. Ditanists believe that they possess the most accurate concept of the body-soul, however, and members of the Dytika Cult typically profess that the goddess Dytika is the one who revealed the body-soul’s secrets to unnamed individuals who passed this knowledge down to modern Ditanists.

Research into the body-soul is one of the prerogatives of the Ditanist clergy. Methods of investigation include psychoactive substances, trances, meditation, and “allegory” (dissection of physical bodies). There is often disagreement about the number, names, and nature of the organs of the body-soul; different theories are laid down in pseudo-scientific religious texts called “canon” and most modern theories are based on or have developed from a handful of historical influential authors.

Dytika Cult

The theist elements of the religion are called the “Dytika Cult,” since most adherents do not have much direct contact with the goddess. Cultists tend to be members of the clergy or other especially devoted adherents. The cult includes its own rituals for seeking divine intervention or enlightenment which are distinct from, but related to, the more practical “science” of the body-soul. The cult is more carefully organized than the public sects of the religion and, while there are also sects within the cult, they tend to act as a more unified body and expel dissent. While the cult does have its own temples and properties, it mostly operates in parallel with the rest of the religious establishment.

The cult tends to dominate the upper circles of the clergy, but Dytika is not necessarily integral to the faith as a whole. There are often Ditanists practitioners who venerate other gods and goddesses from the Hesurian and Cardish pantheons, even atheists have been known to dabble in the Ditanist esoterica. Most Ditanists, however, acknowledge the existence of Dytika even if she is not worshiped and they tend to observe her holy days at midwinter and the new year. There is even a sect of Ditanists, called the Idorai, who believe that Dytika is an evil influence who can be purged from the soul in much the same way that cult Ditanists try to cure soul illnesses.

Texts

While there are many spiritual anatomies, the most famous and influential are Gadaric’s Investigations of the Soul, Aoric’s General Spiritual Anatomy, and the Seidor Almanac by Sifka Heideker. All three have very similar structures and often borrow names and functions from each other, but there is no unifying factor to any of them. The three are often sold as box sets with Gadaric being the historical text, Aoric being the comprehensive work, and the Almanac acting more as a reference guide to both. Which text an individual prefers is often decided by family history or by a particular teacher.

Other sources

Many communities maintain their own oral traditions, some of which are have been textualized, which are either minor variations or supplements to the mainstreams canons. Occasionally, these texts will gain major international attention such as the book of poetry “How to Eat Prayer and Love”, which is a collection of Ditanist folklore from the Anlaufhafen region. These works are typically heterodoxical at worst and most are too obscure or esoteric to challenge the Cathartic dogma.

The cult uses supplementary material, some of which aids in explaining the discrepancies between important works. Some texts are secretive and only accessible to members, but several “tell-all” books published by former cultists mention Canua’s Ditanist Reader as an introductory text, which is a common secondary source for body-soul anatomy and also a general acceptance of the veracity of Ovida’s epic poem the Gaidor Saga. Other texts which are not publicly available but are rumored to be used by the cult include the Watinsboka and the Book of Poesies.

Practices

The most common practice of Ditanists is herbalism or folk remedies for soul-borne illnesses. These “illnesses” are normally either the extension of a physical ailment to the soul or an emotional state. The more extreme the illness, the more complex and exotic the treatments tend to be, which is the local priest is often also the local herbalist who can provide foreign plants and diagnose severe illnesses of the soul. Sometimes illness is too complex for diagnosis on the basis of physical symptoms, which necessitates a journey into the spirit world. Such rituals are often undertaken by a specialist, but in smaller communities one person will fill all of the roles.

In addition to spiritual chemistry, there are also many mindfulness techniques such as chanting and meditation which can be undertaken as a proactive measure for spiritual health. Books of chanting are often found alongside the works on spiritual anatomy. In more advanced circles, these techniques begin to investigate out of body experiences, spirit journeys, and other shamanic rituals. At this point, the lines between orthodox and cult practices becomes blurred.

A woman carving a Woodrune

In the cult, there are additional rituals based on communion with the goddess. The cult has been accused of everything from cocaine fueled orgy to human sacrifice, but most reliable accounts describe mild asceticism and allegorical bodily modification. Study of sacred texts and prayer have been confirmed by the cult to be essential activities.

Woodrunes were once a common practice--literally carving spells into the bark of notable trees--but has been banned in many public spaces since it negatively impacts the health of the trees. Some believe this is because when carving a woodrune to wish away sickness, the sickness transfers to the tree's spirit. Many trees are still vandalized, however, especially in forest preserves where it is difficult to monitor visitors. Some Ditanist sects make small boards freely available to alleviate the problem, which has lead to a tradition of pyrography. Pyrographic trinkets are popular gifts.

Trankherstellung

Trankherstellung is the art of making potions (trank) and is the defining practice of Ditanery. It includes all materials that are consumed or used on the body for the healing or strengthening of the soul.

Äußerung

Äußerung includes practices that use the mind and voice to improve the quality of the soul.

Zwillingsliedchen

The Zwillingsliedchen (literally the twin ditties) are a collection of Harvest and Planting seasonal songs that are instructive or illustrative in nature, describing either when to use Trank or how to make them. They are sung by school age children to demonstrate their knowledge of Trankherstellung, but are also used for recreational performances or for community work. Historically, the Zwillingsliedchen were sung by adults at work in the fields or during collaborative projects like barn raising.

Hultarunen

Hultarunen, also known as Woodrunes, is the category of Ditanist practice in which a supernatural substance is used, but it not physically in or on the body.

Geisteilen

Geisteilen, often translated as communion, is the act of seeking a spirit on a higher plane for enlightenment, euphoria, or healing. These are often defined as the "cult" aspect of Ditanery.

History

Ditanery was initially a variety of Hesurian paganism commonly practiced. The earliest records of Ditanery are Cardish philosophers such as Padios who remarked on the “muddy elixir of the Hazarae”, which went on to become a common euphemism (compare: “Drinking the Kool-Aid”). Despite the dismissive attitudes that Padios and other writers of the day took on Ditanery, it became popular among the lower classes during periodic famines, however, as their ginger compounds offered relief from hunger pangs. During the Cardish collapse, Ditanery survived and thrived by offering some minor aid and hope to those caught up in the struggles.

Ditanery and Idorai, an important Cardish goddess, were combined and the worship of a new goddess based on Idorai, spread back into the Hesurian heartlands of Erdara. The worship of Dytika was, however, mostly tangential to the religion during that time. With the establishment of the Grand Order of Cathartic Ditanery in the 3rd century, however, the many pieces of Ditanery began to be unified. This was triggered primarily by an increase in the demand of trained practitioners, since the population had outstripped the traditional model of apprenticeship. Additionally, during the Cardish collapse, some Ditanists were granted land from the old empire, which greatly increased the material wealth of the fledgling religious movement.

The Council of Sigismund reconciled the pre-Dytikan east with the Cardish west, and Ditanery emerged as the organized religion known today.

Ditanists were strongly and sometimes violently opposed to the development of modern psychiatry. Many Ditanists refuse to see therapy and have even shunned members of the community who have sought psychoanalysis.

Organization

The essential unit of the Ditanist community is the religious university, which often bear such names as “Lecturey of the Soul” or “Chapter of the Spirit”. These establishments will have a board of governors who appoint an Episcopate who in turn appoints the faculty (either “ of the school. The faculty collectively award various degrees of completion to students. The students then take posts in the surrounding area, either as assistants to existing priests or sometimes immediately becoming a priest when positions are open. Sometimes the Episcopate makes the assignments when a priest is requested by a community, other times there is a separate Dicaster who manages the available priests and properties. Priests are sustained by their local community and through the sale of herbs and remedies, which are purchased by the community or by the central authority (ie the Dicaster or the Episcopate) and redistributed to other communities.

As a result of this type of organization, alumni associations--typically Adelthon--are extremely import to theological discourse and the material maintenance of all Ditanist organizations. Many associations and Episcopates are related to one another through mutual recognition, resource sharing, or as parent-child institutions.

Apothecaries

The immediate jurisdiction of an individual priest is called an apothecary, sometimes apothercarium and rarely a subdicastery, since in formal terms the priest is granted the exclusive right to vend wares to a population within an area. The typical apothecary contains a storehouse, a parsonage, and a storefront, though results tend to vary. The smallest apothecaries have no land or buildings at all and the priest depends entirely on the generosity of the congregation; these apothecaries are called “woodcamps” since they are often rural and likely to gather far more herbs than they dispense. Larger apothecaries can include a cult chantry, a hospital, and/or a school.

Besides the priest, the apothecary will often contain several other employees and volunteers. There is almost always someone who assists the priest in gathering herbs who is either called a vithame or a vicar, depending on whether they also assist in the preparation of remedies. In more urban apothecaries, where there is no wilderness to gather from, there is normally a gardener who is called prior and the garden a priory. Priors can exist separately from a priest when they are trusted suppliers of some herb. Whenever a community is without a priest, but has a skilled person who is serving in the same capacity as a priest--this was more common in the early days of Ditanery--then that person takes the title of apothecarist.

When the cult is very active in a community, typically this is only true of cities, they may establish a chantry of their own, which is headed by a chancellor. More commonly, however, the local priest is supposed to provide religious guidance to those interested in the cult. For interim sized communities with an interest in the cult, but no chantry, the apothecary’s primary building with normally include a chancel, which is a small shrine open to the public that is based on the private cult chantry. If the priest delegates the role of cult leader to someone else, that person is called the dean. Deans maintain the chancel shelf, which is often a literal shelf below the shrine containing some of the key texts of Ditanist esoterica.

Cathartic Temple

The most prominent organization of Ditanery is the Cathartic Temple, which is an organization of 640 Episcopates and Dicastries under the authority of the Grand Order of Cathartic Ditanery. Around half of all Ditanists identify with the Cathartic Temple. The Cathars are led by the Episcopate of Visnevas, which is colloquially called the “Piloro”,who is appointed by a conference of Dicasters in the region around Visnevas to serve a term of 25 years (a quadranscentennium), which is typically a life term. Most Piloros serve for around 10 years, since they are normally senior members of the clergy and therefore the bulk of their term is served by either chosen successor, which is called a Pilorino, or by a council of people which is called the Piloretto. A Piloretto is either a group of people appointed by the Piloro before his death or the most senior Dicasters who voted for the Piloro, often 5-7, whenever a Piloro fails to name a regent.

Criticisms

Social and cultural

Ditanist communities often shun people who are deemed spiritually "unhealthy", which is a term that has been applied disproportionately to those with mental illness, including age-related illness like dementia. Other outward signs of illness such as eczema, acne, and rosacea can make it difficult to find work or housing in Ditanist communities.

Ditanery has been called a cult of health with customary wisdom that permeates daily life, especially when it comes to diet and exercise. Local temples often operate gymnasiums and other athletic facilities; not being active at one of these facilities can lead to ostracism. Certain foods, such as garlic and white beans, are seen as bad for the spirit. Foods labeled as bad for the spirit tend to be locally accessible foods consumed by religious or ethnic minorities.

Mass Poisoning

Though Ditanist Temples have almost universally disregarded claims of mass-poisoning from Ditanist practices, there is some evidence to suggest that it has occurred periodically. The most famous case is the Balbeck Poisoning in 1918 during which over 2,000 people died after attending a Schierning Day celebration. The Cathartic Temple, along with many others, have contested that the deaths were unrelated to Ditanery and that it was exaggerated by the newspapers at the time. Most of the dead, being Ditanist, had their remains turned over to the Temple for purification and burial. The Cathartic Temple has refused to allow researchers access to these remains.

There are historical records of villages vanishing overnight, some of which have been confirmed by archaeological evidence. Dehydration from diarrhea is a commonly seen cause of death, but it is uncertain if this was caused by the homeopathic pharmaceuticals prepared at the local apothecary. These incidents tend to occur around major holidays where large quantities of some portion are produced for the public.

Financial

Population

Distribution of Ditanists by Nation
Nation Total Population Ditanist Population % of Population
 Finium 3,703,109 2,369,989 64.0%
 Hytekia 37,426,139 11,358,096 30.3%
 Juznia 14,015,335 11,139,716 79.5%
 Mascylla 38,972,039 4,911,503 12.7%
 Oseva 44,257,110 38,760,376 87.58%
 Vetonia 23,681,713 12,605,116 53.23%
Total ‭81,144,796