Concordianism

The "sun disc", a traditional symbol of Concordianism adapted from the Hayeren eternity sign

Concordianism (French: Concordisme; Gylic koine: naştiaðe, "old customs") is the religious tradition of the Gylic peoples. It is a folk religion characterised by decentralisation, animistic and shamanistic elements, syncretic character, and community-oriented practices.

Concordian beliefs draw on a variety of sources, including local practices, philosophical traditions, and syncretism. Defining themes include a belief in a rational order of nature, permanent change and movement as the essence of the universe, and the use of dance as a basic metaphor and ritual practice. Worship is directed at a multitude of spirits (ecymei), which are either beings that personify certain concepts, or the spiritual essence that manifests in all things. Modern Concordianism has a strongly nontheistic character.

Concordianism is concentrated among Gylic peoples. Estimating the number of adherents is difficult. As much as 80% of Gylians participate in Concordian practices and rituals, but only a small percentage identify as "Concordians".

Most Gylians don't consider their practices consitute a religion, and view religion in a non-exclusive manner. There is no formal affiliation or disaffiliation in Concordianism, nor is belief required to practice. Religion is absent from censuses owing to a strong stigma that surveying religions is an invasion of privacy.

Terminology

There is no historic Gylian term for "religion". The Gylic term naştiaðe, "old customs", emerged with exposure to other religions as a means of differentiation.

The term "Concordianism" proper emerged during the Gylian ascendancy, and was adopted specifically due to its meaning of "harmony". It has been borrowed into Gylic languages as konkordis.

Beliefs

There is no systematic doctrine or religious text for Concordianism. Its beliefs are mainly preserved in collections of myths spread by oral tradition and historical literature.

The various traditions that were incorporated into Concordianism are connected by common beliefs and themes.

Ancient Concordianism was a polytheistic religion. The nontheist shift of modern times led to the redefinition of deities as spirits, making modern Concordianism primarily animistic.

The planes of existence

In Concordianism, there are two planes of existence: the material world and the spirit world. Both coexist and are connected.

Everything possesses a spiritual energy. Spirits thus reside in all things — animate, inanimate, or abstract. The term for spirit, ecymei, can mean either the spiritual essence of a thing, or the supernatural being that expresses a quality or concept.

Spirits and humans can communicate, but the different planes limit their capacity to interact. Spirits can take on any appearance, depending on who they communicate with. They are mainly depicted overseeing their respective phenomena but not possessing significant powers, instead guiding and encouraging humans to live in harmony with others and the world.

The ever-changing world

The material and spirit worlds intertwine to form the universe. Concordians view the universe in existence monistic terms: it can be divided in arbitrary ways but it retains its oneness.

Existence is governed by a rational order, even though its coherence may not be apparent to humans. The constant force of the universe is change and becoming. Permanent change animates existence; all material and immaterial phenomena are parts of a larger mechanistic universe.

Movement and dance

Permanent change is also conceptualised as permanent movement. From this derives one of Concordianism's signature metaphors and symbols: the "cosmic dance".

Dance illustrates the belief that all is motion, and serves to emphasise self-control, gracefulness, and care as virtues to be cultivated. It is not simply a form of worship for Concordians, but a means of meditation. It has served as a significant factor in the development of Gylian dance as an art form.

Afterlife

Two main Concordian schools of thought exist regarding the afterlife:

  • Persistence of spirit — death is merely physical. A person's consciousness becomes a spirit at death, which continues to exist in the spirit world for an indeterminate amount of time. Sects influenced by Tennaiite beliefs add that they will receive the opportunity to reincarnate into the material world at some point.
  • Cessation of existence — death is the complete cessation of existence. Death, representing the end of consciousness, is not to be feared, and serves as a reminder of the impermanence of existence.

The spirit-beings who personify natural phenomena have been sometimes portrayed as refusing reincarnation in order to continue helping and protecting people from the spirit world.

Permanence and impermanence

Concordianism completely lacks creation myths. Several famous Concordian scholars have criticised the idea of trying to explain the origin of the world, arguing that it is ultimately irrelevant. Concerning oneself with existential questions is seen as a distraction from living one's life.

Concordianism teaches that since change and motion are the only permanent things in existence, one must remain aware of the impermanence of everything. The here and now are emphasised, and adherents are encouraged to make the most of their lives.

Community and virtues

The Concordian focus on living in harmony with the world encompasses living in harmony with other people.

Humans are social animals, and thus personal growth and inner peace can be attained only in ways that preserve ties to the world. Concordians are strongly hostile to asceticism and monasticism, which harm one's well-being by neglecting physical, social, and emotional needs.

Trust, friendship, and love are seen as the most important elements for a good life. Concordian morality is nuanced: nothing is entirely good or evil, and everyone has the potential to do wrong. The ability to rise above bad urges and pursue the good path is what makes persons special. Those who harm others thus harm themselves as well, burdening themselves with a guilty conscience.

Sexuality

Concordianism has no significant stance on sexuality, but has a positive attitude. Its influence is visible in the veneration of Mauan and Hacak, and the celebratory and vibrant depiction of sexuality it helped engender in Gylian culture.

Spirits

Notable Concordian spirits include:

Portrait Name Attributes Notes
Concordianism-Iuka.jpg Iuka Spirit of nature The name is theorised to have a relation to the Miranian] Yuka (which has two kanji spellings that can mean "flower"), but there is no conclusive evidence. Depicted with green hair and an umbrella to symbolise nature.
Concordianism-Zangyt+Gaďam.jpg Zangyt and Gaďam Spirits of music Always depicted as sisters who work together. Their names are onomatopoeia for playing stringed and percussion instruments.
Concordianism-Esala.jpg Esala Spirit of defense and protection Esala's consistent depiction as a graceful and wise warrior is related to mythologies that separate their war deities to represent strategy and courage or violence and bloodlust, such as Hellenic and Ossorian.
Concordianism-Mauan.jpg Mauan Spirit of fertility, sexuality, sensuality, romance, passion, and eroticism Always depicted as proudly fat and big-breasted, with some traditions adding goat horns. The mischievous side of her personality sometimes overlaps with Hacak.
Nansa Spirit of parents, children, familial love, and games Her personification of games overlaps with other spirits of games, toys, and dolls.
Concordianism-Hacak.jpg Hacak Spirit of playfulness, initiation, sexual experiences, raucousness, and "wickedness" Depicted as a mischievous big-breasted giant who enjoys harmlessly teasing people, and helping transform people's lives for the better in trickster fashion. Sexual encounters with her are always presented as unforgettable and overwhelming experiences.
Concordianism-Elurei.jpg Elurei Spirit of writing, knowledge, research, and fiction Her personification of writing overlaps with other spirits specific to literature and knowledge.

Hacak is unique among the spirits in that her origin can be traced to the writings of Angeline Dalles rather than coming from oral tradition or syncretism. While the other spirits are generally depicted as benevolent, yet behaving according to a morality or code of ethics that are different from humans', Hacak personifies Angeline's wicked–evil distinction.

Spirits are traditionally seen as genderless beings whose manifestations are tailored to people's conscious or unconscious preferences. The frequent depiction of them as female is a practice that began during the Gylian ascendancy, due to the influence of feminism.

Practices

Concordian spiritual practices are characterised by rejection of ceremony, simple rituals, and openness to all.

Worship

Spirits can be worshipped anywhere, since they reside in everything. Communication can be done as simply as finding a quiet place and silently contemplating.

Spirits are approachable and gregarious; prayers to them are conversations with equal partners. Prayers are always done in an upright posture, with head held high and eyes open, signifying a relationship of respect and self-respect between human and spirit.

Public worship is done at shrines, modest structures that serve as temporary residences for spirits. Shrine architecture reflects the symbolic separation of the two planes. They are overseen by shrinekeepers, community volunteers responsible for maintenance and organising important rituals and festivals.

The basic visitation involves entering the shrine and silently contemplating, so as to not disturb fellow shrine visitors or spirits, or writing their prayers, wishes, thanks, and greetings to the spirits on small pieces of paper that are left in the shrine.

As shrines are private institutions supported by their visitors, visitors may also donate to the shrine or purchase amulets and talismans created there. Anyone can visit a shrine — Concordian beliefs are unnecessary to do so.

Private worship is generally done at home or in nature. Certain places are considered superior conduits of spiritual energy, often glades and other natural features. Worship or communication with spirits at home is done in either special rooms or corners that contain tables with offerings and amulets or talismans.

Dance

Various dances have developed in Concordianism as a religious practice. They may be dances for meditation, private spiritual development, public ceremonies, reenactments of folk tales, or ecstatic dances meant to induce altered states of consciousness.

Shamanism

Concordianism has a shamanic element, with shrinekeepers also serving as guides in the quest for enlightenment and interaction with the spirit world. Some rituals involve trance states induced by certain substances.

Festivals

As a primarily communal religion, Concordianism has numerous low-key customs and traditions aimed at building community and maintaining harmony between people and nature.

The largest celebrations take place during the solstices and equinoxes, with other natural milestones such as harvest season having a variety of regional observations.

Organisation

Concordianism is only loosely organised as a religion, and is mainly localist in practice. There is no professional clergy or official dogma, only certain fundamental principles that can accommodate different practices.

Concordianism is largely governed by direct democracy. Shrinekeepers are volunteers or selected by sortition and rotated in the position.

There is no organised religious education: it is up to individuals to decide if they want to pursue introspection and academic study of Concordian texts further. Texts are viewed as starting points for the personal pursuit of knowledge rather than doctrine to be followed strictly.

Inter-religious relations

Concordian relations with other Tyranian religions have varied. In general, religions that share similar traits enjoy cordial relations, while religions with fundamentally different principles attract hostility.

The closest relations have been with Kisekidō and Sofianism, owing to the long history of interaction and positive relations between Gylias, Kirisaki, and Cacerta. Kisekidō is a significant source of syncretic and borrowed practices, while Gylic contact allowed the spread of Hellene philosophy to Cacerta, which influenced Sofianism.

The exclusivism and proselytism of monotheist religions have fuelled centuries of mutual religious conflict and hostility.

History

Origins

Concordianism emerged as a fusion of various traditions and influences, commonly dated to the 5th–4th centuries BCE. Its formation is accepted by Gylian historians to be linked to the Bronze Age collapse that preceded the formation of the Liúşai League.

Yaskan tradition holds that the Yaskan people were among the originators, by abandoning their former warlike ways after losing control over the land entrances to Gylias and seeking out more peaceful belief systems. Historians regard this as evidence of early prehistoric religion among Gylic peoples; whether any traces remain in Concordianism or it was entirely replaced is unclear.

Liúşai era

The establishment of the Liúşai League in 390 BCE provided a beneficial environment for the development of Concordianism. The League's ethnolinguistic diversity determined its syncretic and pluralistic character.

Archaeological and written records indicate that Concordianism spread through the amalgamation and reconciliation of different concepts and pantheons, particularly the grouping of tutelary deities.

Records of Concordianism date back to the oldest extant Gylic chronicles, from the 8th century CE. The religion never had a single religious text. Its books are primarily history books, compilations of oral tradition and folklore, and philosophical treatises.

Concordianism interacted with multiple religions during the Liúşai League era, including Kisekidō, Sofianism, Págánacht, Tennaiite beliefs, Hellene religion, and Nordic religions. Several notable examples of syncretism resulted from these.

The majority of non-Gylic populations to settle in the League came from similarly polytheistic and animistic backgrounds, which facilitated integration. Hellenes brought a significant contribution, both through their pantheon and philosophy, introducing elements of Epicureanism and panta rhei into cosmology.

Key rituals and practices were normalised. The use of dance as a ritual and metaphor became established by the 10th century. The development of a lunar calendar fixed the date of many festivals, consolidating the year around four main festivals marking the equinoxes and solstices.

Multiple philosophical schools of thought existed in the League. Concordian ethics mainly focused on society, and morality on defining practical virtues and boundaries that could be agreed upon. Moral principles were stated in negative form — "Do not treat others how you do not wish to be treated" — and the pursuit of spirituality was left to individuals.

Ideas were spread and debated mainly through stories, epigrams, and fragmented essays, showing the strong influence of zuihitsu and nikki bungaku on Gylic literature. Notable debates included whether wisdom or compassion were more important virtues, and whether one's spirit died with one's body or not.

In later years, the arrival of monotheist religions caused tensions and religious conflict. Their universalist nature conflicted with the ethnic and communitarian character of Concordianism, and their missionary activity and focus on conversion offended Concordians.

The Quliyasi Jihad deepened hostility. The Gylic authorities shifted towards a pragmatic policy of accepting belief systems that maintained social stability and taking action against those that threatened it. Rísfað, elected monarch of the Varans, wrote in 1571: "To steal one's gods by force is a hateful and unforgivable act."

Xevdenite era

Xevden's conquest of the Gylic states, completed in 1704, led to a long period of discrimination and persecution of the Gylic peoples by an alien elite. The Gylic peoples defiantly held on to Concordianism as a means of resistance.

During the reign of Senalta, a monotheist state religion was adopted. This served as a tool of social control: the native populations were officially not citizens of Xevden and thus not targeted by the law, and the Xevdenite authorities showed little patience for efforts to spread the religion. Official conversion was mandatory to gain citizenship and to be admitted into the nobility, and the minority of Gylics who did so were ostracised as "traitors to the community".

The Xevdenite experience produced changes in Concordianism, driven by hostility to monotheism as an element of Gylian identity. The importance of orthopraxy and scorn of orthodoxy was reaffirmed. The lack of formal organisation came to be seen as a strength and source of pride. Symbolism and language suggestive of monotheism were systematically purged. Ecymei lost all deity connotations and were redefined as spirits.

Meeting in small groups to meditate, seek support through difficulties, and reflect on wisdom gained new importance as a community-building practice in the absence of free observance of festivals.

Concordian legends had a key role in literature during the Gylian ascendancy. Anca Déuréy, the "mother of Gylian literature", drew on Concordian and Gylic heritage for her writing, and was recognised for her compilations of folklore and mythology. Angeline Dalles' writings under the pseudonym "Madame Rouge" popularised the character of Hacak, a spirit who embodied her wicked–evil distinction.

As with others, Anca and Angeline were influenced by the radical milieu of the time, and modern scholars recognise that in certain instances they not only took artistic license but adapted myths to appeal to anarchist, feminist, and radical sensibilities.

Alscia and the Free Territories

Concordianism experienced a revival in Alscia after the Cacerta-Xevden War, with rituals and festivals being once again practised freely.

The Free Territories, formed during the Liberation War, promoted secularism and anti-clericalism. The notion of belief systems as mainly serving private and social needs became widely accepted.

The Free Territories' restoration of ancient freedoms allowed Gylic and non-Gylic religions to be practised openly again. On the other hand, the hostile environment they created led to the majority of Abrahamic religions' adherents fleeing the Free Territories, removing a significant source of past confrontations.

Contemporary era

Since the end of the Liberation War, Concordianism has reverted to its position as a traditional, culturally-propagated belief system.

New Concordian sects, schools of thought, and practices emerged. A national cultural heritage preservation program was launched, which resulted in Concordian Stories and Practices (French reformed: L'tradition et les pratiques concordiennes), a wide-ranging study of Concordianism published in 1966. The book was acclaimed for its comprehensiveness and academic analysis, and became a significant publishing success. It is credited with spurring new interest in Concordian mythology and inspiring various Gylian creative works.

Concordian folklore has maintained contemporary relevance, particularly through adaptations and influences on pop culture.

The "psychedelic revolution" of 1966–1968 also had an effect on Concordianism, by increasing attention to practices of shamanism and entheogens.