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Hri religion is a mix of hylozoistic and animistic pantheism and Buddhism. Everything has its own spirit but all share the same spiritual essence known as Whrak Dharth. Followers are taught to perform good actions, avoid bad or harmful actions, and to purify and train the mind.
Morality consists of avoid harming, harmonious relations with the natural and spiritual worlds, and moderation. Mental training focuses on discipline, meditative concentration, and wisdom.
Supernatural beings do not have the power for creation, salvation or judgement , but are regarded as having the power to affect worldly events.
Type of religion: Mix hylozoistic, animistic pantheism, and Buddhism
Holy texts: none
Followers: 1.5-2 billion
Practised in: Daistallia, Daistallia 2104
Shamen: local only
* 1 Gods and Spirits
o 1.1 Spirits
+ 1.1.1 Animal Spirits
+ 1.1.2 Gaurdian Spirits
+ 1.1.3 Totemic Spirit
o 1.2 Gods
* 2 Creation Myth
* 3 Shamen, Monks, and Priests
o 3.1 Shamen
o 3.2 Monks
o 3.3 Priests
* 4 Symbols
o 4.1 Thrak
* 5 Religious Practices
o 5.1 Purification Rituals
o 5.2 Daily rituals
+ 5.2.1 Hunting
o 5.3 Main rituals
+ 5.3.1 Whrak Hta
# 220.127.116.11 Whrak Hta Hakva
# 18.104.22.168 Whrak Ktal
+ 5.3.2 Kae Lin
# 22.214.171.124 Preparation for the Kae Lin
+ 5.3.3 Khath Laen
Gods and Spirits
Hri religion includes the worship of a number of gods, demons, and spirits. The gods are frequently invoked; offerings are made to them, and ceremonial dances are performed in which they are represented by painted and masked men.
Everything has its own spirit but all share the same spiritual essence that is Whrak Dharth. Spirits are believed to favor particular individuals and to render aid to them; particularly protective spirits dwelling in rocks and thunder. Spirits often share their knowledge with the Hri or provide aid in time of crisis.
All animals possess a soul (animal spirit), and thus the Hri tend to treat all animals with respect. Certain animals such as the eagle, the bear, the lish, the otter and the beaver are regarded as particularly endowed with strong spirits.
At birth, one is dedicated to a guardian spirit. This gaurdian protects an individual through his or her childhood.
Upon reaching adult hood, male Hri undergo the Kae Lin, a visionary "spirit quest" to find their totemic spirit. This spirit will guide and protect them through their adult life, and also serves as a symbol of the individual.
The most important god is the Great Elder. Below the Great Elder are 6 powerful spirits, referred to as the Six Grandfathers. Next are the are the four spirits of the points of the compass, known as the North, East, South and West spirits, the spirits of the weather ,elements, and environment: wind, fire, lightning, fog, water, rain, smoke, mountains, steppes, rivers, and so on.
Hri legend says that with the creation of the universe a song was given to it, each part of the universe being imbued with a part of the song; but only in the Great Steppes was the song found in its entirety, here at the "heart of everything that is". It was in the Great Steppes that the Hri people originated, and the eastern edge of the steppes (near the Kha'mik Desert), that the Creator first imparted his sacred instructions to them.
The Kha'mik Desert is thus the most sacred of all places, and Hri come here each year for spirit quests.
Hri spirits of dead go to their rest in the Kha'mik Desert.
Shamen, Monks, and Priests
There are three main sorts of religious practitioners: Shamen, Monks, and Priests.
Shamen are mystical initiates who have direct contact with the spirit world, and go there often. They usually live among the clan, and often act as a spiritual advisor the the clan elders. Their primary function is to secure the help of the spirit world for the benefit of the community. To become a Shaman, one must first be called. Shamen then serve an apprenticeship. Finally, they are initiated. The initiation, known as the Khath Laen, is an extreme version of the Kae Lin.
Monks are a special class of shamen who usually live apart from any clan. Their primary function is to harmonize themselves and the world. Becoming a monk is much like becoming a shamen, except that one must be accepted by the enrire monastic communiuty. As part of their training, monks often engage in yoga and martial arts like exercises.
Priests are wandering ascetic shamen. They live primarily in the mountainous regions, withdrawn from ordinary society. The mountains themselves are considered sacred regions where deities reside. These unpopulated and unregulated areas are seen a places where one can interact directly with nature and the spirits. The focus or goal of a priest is the development of spiritual experience and power. Priests, like monks, monks, often incorporate in yoga and martial arts like exercises into their training and discipline.
The circle is an important symbol of life and is held to be sacred . Sacred numbers include four and seven. The structure of the Universe and of all those things within it reflect a four-fold division. Hence, ceremonies preferably spanned four days or a period divided into four day sections.
The Thrak, or sacred bundle. The origin of the sacred bundle is a vision made by a supernatural spirit instructing an individual to collect certain things and retain them because of their inherent power. The receipient of the vision also receives instructions to perform certain sacred rituals. In addition to bundles possessed by individuals, there are bundles which were owned collectively. The complex rituals associated with these provide general benefit to the clan through the provision of food or healing. A Thrak always contains a bone from a totemic animal and four arrows.
Religious life is characterised by the performance of ceremonies which are always preceded by a purification rituals. Rituals seek to placate the spirits - which may be predisposed to good or evil - but also involves a process of continuing revelation.
These are performed before any sacred act or ritual is undertaken. The basic and simplest purification ritual is
Purification Lodges are constructed from sixteen branches arranged as to mark out the four directions.
These are simple rituals that are carried out on a daily basis. Most require little purification.
When an animal had been hunted and killed a ritual is performed to enable the animal spirit to return to the place from which it had come. When a boy kills his first game it is celebrated by a ritual distribution of the meat. Ritual life centers around the use of a small, spineless cactus which contains stimulants related to strychnine and sedatives related to morphine. Major rituals
The most important ritual is the Whark Hta, or "spirit dance". Each clan gathers to perform it's own Whark Hta. The ceremony is performed annually over a four day period around the time of the summer solstice. Only males can participate in the ceremony; the females must remain away during the four day ritual.
Whrak Hta Hakva
The Whrak Hta Hakva, or spirit dance lodge, is built for a single ceremony and traditionally left to return to nature. It is built using a special sacred tree, known as the Whrak Ktal. This pole is placed it is placed in the exactl of a center of a sacred circle. The inner circle of the Whrak Hta Hakva is usually one meter radius, although it may vary from year to year. The shaman in charge of the ceremony will begin to prepare long before the actual dance, involving himself in the more sacred rituals, which must be performed in private.
The Whrak Ktal, or sacred tree Center Pole, represents the single focal point that the spirits may be known, in vision, prayer, and communion. It is from the Tree that the shamen observe which dancers are truly sincere in their prayers. It is chosen in the preceding winter and announces the time for the ceremony with its bloom.
The hole into which the it is placed is considered to be a very holy place. It has been measured to be exactly in the center of the Spirit Circle, and the larger circle which makes up the Spirit Dance grounds. It is usually one meter, although it may vary from year to year. Before the Spirit Dance, the shaman will perform a special ritual at this spot. The hole is purified and certain holy items go into the hole: spices and wasna (consisting of ground dried lish, dried fruits, and fat). The shaman makes prayers to the higher powers to make the Tree holy. The shaman in charge of the ceremony will begin to prepare long before the actual dance, involving himself in the more sacred rituals, the ones that need be performed in private.
The warriors in the clan will often take part, receiving empowerment in the mysteries of the ritual. These are the same men who will carry it, raise it, and hang from it. A sponsor typically works with the shaman in preparation and oversight, arranging for the necessary implements of ritual. Finally it is time to cut the Center Pole the day before the Spirit Dance begins. Smoke and prayers and songs are offered in supplication in order that the spirits will bless this particular Tree. Once it has fallen, there is a strong taboo against stepping over the Tree. One is not supposed to touch it in transport, either, and certainly all must follow behind those who carry the Tree with long pieces of wood, or the wagon in which it has been placed, with only the shaman allowed to precede. Upon reaching the ceremonial grounds, the Tree is laid down, not on the ground, but on special stakes, a total of four times before it is brought all the way to the hole. Now it is ready for decoration. The shaman removes the bark. He then sprinkles red clay from the base of the Tree to the fork, and paints it in the clan colors. The medicine bag is tied to the upper branches at this point, containing a piece of dried lish, a sharpened stick, an arrow, and ribbons of four colors. The Spirit Pole is raised by those who have decided to pierce themselves with the same ropes upon which will hang. The Spirit Lodge is built from twenty-eight poles (4x7) with a central pole symbolizing Whrak Dharth; and represents the Universe. As a ritual of transformation the participant must be clean to identify with the sacred, so the need for purification before beginning the Spirit Dance is obvious. Thus the dancers sit in a sweat lodge sometimes singing songs to sacred beings, undergoing purification. Then the dance may then begin. The dancers each have their own route laid out, a choreography that allows their fellows to see when they are wavering and about to fall. The arms of the dancers are repeatedly extended to the Tree as well as to the sun during dance. Those who dance offer flesh to the Tree, circling clockwise and then leaving the same way they came, between stakes specially marked with flags colored differently for their appropriate geographical direction. During the dance, ceremonial objects such as a staff, rattle, drum and feather are used. The shaman may be heard blowing an eagle wing whistle, echoing the dancers. At midnight water is brought in, drunk by the participants. In the extreme heat, the bare Pole offers no shade. But the dancers receive aid from the spirits. On the fourth day of the Spirit Dance those who have decided to pierce in ritual scarification will do so. Meeting at the Center Pole they pierce the skin (and in some cases, musculature) of their chest with eagle talons or sharp sticks and then fall outward to rip themselves free. The pain caused by ripping away from the Tree is purificatory. During piercing the dancers will approach the Tree for a moment before leaning out onto the ropes attached to their bodies. Four times they come together as if to touch it, but only on the last do they actually lay hands upon the Holy Tree, praying in this way for around thirty seconds. Then everyone waits before dawn as the shaman watches the sun come up. Autumn: The Sacred Stones Ritual : The focal point of the ceremony are sacred stones which empower the shamans of the clan. The shaman who pledges to sponsor the ceremony travels to reach every shaman in the clan and inform them where the ceremony will take place. On route to the ceremony, each shaman stops four times to pray to the four directions. They approach the camp as they are cheered and applauded by those who have already arrived. Each shaman goes to the area traditionally reserved for them. Coming together is a social time for visiting, eating, and gambling. As the ceremony begins, the camp is silent. Silence is strictly enforced. It is a moment of supreme sacredness for the shamans. The individual is insignificant in this ceremony that focuses on the society and its well being. The ceremony lasts four days. Females and children are forbidden from the four-day ritual. A sweat lodge is erected. Just before daybreak, all participants are purified in the sweat lodge. On the first day the pledger raises the Offering Lodge. Offerings are hung on a pole in front of the lodge or over its door. All the shamans get together and select a spot for the Spirit Lodge. The Sacred Arrow Lodge is about two times the size of the Spirit Dance lodge. After the lodge is erected, shamans go into it and prepare a ceremonial altar and a hearth in the center of the lodge. They also put spices around the outer edges of the lodge where they will sit. On the second day they take their places in the lodge. The pledger leads the others. They bring in the offerings one by one. Then the four men walk slowly the Keeper of the Stones. As they approach, they go forward and back four times before going in. The Keeper prays over them and then gives the pledger the bundle of sacred stones. Very slowly they return to the Lodge with the bundle. Again they stop four times on their way. There the head shaman lays the bundle on a prepared bed behind the altar. The stones are removed and examined. On the third day long stick representing each shaman is placed near the altar. Every shaman is represented with a stick. One by one each of the sticks are burned in the burning incense to bless each individual. While the sticks are being burned, the shamans renew their paraphernalia in a private ritual. On the fourth day, the shamans bring out the offerings and the boys of the village bring additional offerings from their homes. All the men and boys down to the smallest of male babies, even if they must be held, go past the stones and gain the beneficial effects. After all have passed the stones, the lodge is dismantled and the stones are taken to the keeper.
Soon after making the Kha'i, newly adult males under go a visionary "spirit quest", known as Kae Lin. Questors deliberatly seek out isolated situations of privation. The purpose of this quest is the discovery of a totemic gaurdian spirit. The identity of this spirit is typically revealed through a vision, induced by physical and mental stress.
Preparation for the Kae Lin
In preparation the spirit quest, an individual seeker is given preliminary tutoring for several weeks on what to expect. This is given by a spirit master shamen. and purification
Because the guardian spirit can appear in any form, the seeker has to concentrate and be continuously attentive. This extreme focus resembles meditation, in which each successive instant is perceived with naked clarity . The spirit quest, furthermore, is undertaken with reverence and humility. The seeker can neither eat nor drink nor sleep nor build shelter against the elements for the duration of the quest, which lasts for days. The hardships of asceticism weakened the body to open wide the spirit. The seeker hallucinates and communicate with his guardian spirit. On returning from his spirit quest, the spirit seeker commonly integrates his vision into the life of the community by performing it ritually in public. In this way he adds to the fund of collective knowledge necessary to sustain a balanced relationship between the human community and other forms of life, both animate and inanimate. The
The spirit-quest ordeal is an extreme variation of the Khath Laen. It is usually undertaken by an individual who wishes to become a shamen or priest.
It has elements of the Whrak Hta (Spirit dance). During the quest the seeker pierces his shoulders and breasts with knives, or arrows, resulting in ritual scarification. On returning the seeker makes a sacrifice of the little finger of his left hand.