Ashali Mysticism, Baenite Mysticism, Takyr and Zhun
|Domain||Baenite Civilization, The Baen Desert|
|Ethos||Enlightenment comes from acceptance that one is already on the Path.|
|Head of the Church||None|
|Demographics||99% Baenite, 1% Other|
|Geographic Regions||Baen Desert|
|Holy Symbol||Geometric symbol composed of a circle bisected by a vertical line with a smaller circle in each half.|
Ashali is the primary religion of the reclusive, desert dwelling Baenites. It is a vast pantheon of more than a hundred minor deities that oversee specific aspects of baenite life. They interact frequently in myths and fables of the faith. The two most important gods are Takyr and Zhun, the two suns high above. Ashali is culturally pure and bears little resemblance to other sun focused religions.
Myths and Legends
According to Ashali mythology, Arryl the Sky and Magrada, the land, had always existed. They are the mother and father of the universe and all things in it. Long ago, when there was only the sky and land, Magrada gave birth to a son and daughter. These two rose up into the heavens to become the twin suns so that they could shine with all their brilliance from the arms of the father. They were mates and the baenites were their children.
The baenites, who always long for independence and isolation, descended from the sky to live as mortals and to worship Magrada and Arryl, the greater gods, to seek their wisdom.. This angered Takyr (the sun Drellis) and to this day she rains down her wrath upon her children by turning their magic to formless energy and chaos. However, Zhun (Karrym) tries to protect his children and so shields the baenites from their mother’s wrath.
One obscure legend states that someday, Takyr and Zhun will unite into one star. When this happens, thunder and lightning will consume the sands of the desert and the baenite people will be no more.
List of Ashali Gods
Takyr is Drellis, the blue sun. According to Ashali mythology, Takyr is the mother of the baenite race. Known for a terrible temper and jealous wrath.
Zhun personifies the yellow star. Known for kindness and infinite patience, it is Zhun that shields the baenites, his children, from the eternal wrath of their mother.
Arryl is the sky. He has always been and will always be. His wife is Magrada, the desert. These two existed before all other things. Their children are Takyr and Zhun, the two suns. The worship of Arryl has existed for as long as the baenites have been.
Magrada is the wife of Arryl, these two being the first gods in existence. She is the land and all things of the land. Magrada embodies one of the central beliefs of the baenites... that the Baen Desert is the most holy of lands and is, in all ways, the center of the world. She represents not only the desert, but the world and all living creatures of the world. She is life and life giver. Because Magrada gave birth to Takyr and Zhun, she is seen as the grandmother of the Baenite race.
Inkrest is the god of water and survival. He is the patron deity of those traveling in the deep desert, especially those in need. It is said that Inkrest watches over all those in the Baen Desert. He cares for all living things.
Xar is the god of the Mektor, the first moon. He is also the baenite god of war. He is depicted as a red skinned baenite of enormous size.
Aldra is the goddess of Thrykar, the second moon. She is also the mistress of magic. She is depicted as a tall, very thin baenite women dressed in white silk.
Old Toru is the god of Night’s Jewel, the third moon. He is also the god of luck and fate. He is depicted as an ancient baenite dressed in blue robes covered in stars.
Other gods and goddesses of Ashali mythology include Morcrya, the goddess of wisdom, Arakak, the god of sand storms ,Skeld, the god of mirages, illusions and lies.
Overview of the Church
Ashali is the baenite faith, practiced by all baenites regardless of their position. It is, therefore, worshipped throughout the Baen Desert, but no where else. Ashali is interwoven into every facet of baenite society with rules and rituals for marriage, childbirth, names, funerals, festivals, storytelling and even their food. Ashali is a very communal faith and most rituals involve groups. However, at the heart of the faith is a very personal journey for each adherant... a journey of personal enlightenment.
Ashali is practiced only by the baenites. Because of the faith's strong connection to their desert homeland, the Baen desert is considered holy land, spiritually above all other lands in the world. It is the center of the world according to Ashali. Because of this, the Ashali faith forbids any baenite leaving Baen. To do so is a mortal sin. To leave is a difficult decision and a serious undertaking as those who leave are never welcomed back. Those who do chose to leave sometimes carry the faith with them and continue to practice out in the world.
History and Origins
If one asks the Ashali priests about their faith or the origin of their gods, they will regale the questioner with endless stories. The truth, however is little known. Due to the almost xenophobic isolationism of the baenites, religious scholars no virtually nothing about the true origins of this religion.
There is no organized hierarchy, no head priest and no ruling council, so it is difficult to claim the faith has any specific goals. However, within the stories, rules and rituals of the faith are several recurring ideas... cultural purity, political isolationism and racial superiority.
Temples, Churches and Holy Sites
There are no temples in Ashali worship. The Baen desert has little weather. Most days are sunny and dry and rain is scarce. Other than sandstorms, there is little need for a roof. However, the true reason is that this faith is intimately tied to the twin suns. Takyr and Zhun, the two suns, are the dominant gods of Ashali and they are always watching. It would be considered unthinking to hide rituals from them by having them take place in doors or under a roof. All rituals, prayers, fasting, feasting, chants and religious study are done out in the open and under the watchful gaze of the two suns.
All baenites practice Ashali. Few baenites leave Baen, but those who do venture out into the world sometimes take their faith with them and continue to pray to Takyr, Zhun, Old Toru and all the rest. It is rare for a non-baenite to adopt this faith, but not unheard of.
Allied and Opposed Faiths
The ashali faith is concerned with the recognition of one's “true path”. This is defined as one's calling or purpose in life. Attainment of finding one's true path involves placing reason over emotion and faith in one's divine position within the universal hierarchy. In other words, each person has a purpose in the Universe and one followers their path to that purpose. Enlightenment comes not from finding the path, but from the realization and acceptance that one is already on the path. When one reaches this level of enlightenment, they are said to be in harmony with the universe itself. Followers seek guidance and favor from the various deities to help them find enlightenment. Other methods employed in this journey involve study and reflection of the religious texts, participation in communal rituals and the practice of meditation through chanting.
There are a number of religious texts used in the Ashali faith. Collectively, they are called the "Universal Harmonies". There are forty six Harmonies and each has a specific name and focus. Some relate myths and fables, some define rules of the faith and others describe the cosmology of the Ashali gods and goddesses. The most important Harmony is called the Y'ril. In it are contained the most fundamental tenets, teachings and beliefs of Ashali. The Y'ril tells of the true path and how one finds enlightenment.
The Universal Harmonies are usually a collection of scrolls cared for by the priests. Every village has its own set of the scrolls. Some of the more prominent members of a baenite community will make their own copies of the Universal Harmonies, copying from the scrolls of the priests.
The holy symbol of Ashali is known as the Hemara. It is a stylized representation of the world. It consists of a circle bisected by a vertical line. A smaller circle is inside each half. This symbol represents Universe,the true path and the two suns. The Hemara is worn on the body by all priests. It is often carved into "guardian stones" at the perimeter of villages to ward away evil and misfortune.
Baenites meet once each week, coinciding with the weekly stellar cycle. Each month, there are four such gatherings and each celebrates either the blue sun, the yellow sun or a balance between the two, depending on which sun is dominant. These weekly gatherings involve the villagers being led by their priests out of the village to the desert. The groups wanders out into the desert a few kilometers and holds its gathering under the sky. Such a gathering will usually last several hours. The priests will lead the faithful in chanted prayers, songs and will tell stories, myths and fables. Significant celestial phenomena ( eclipses, comets and so forth) will also be celebrated by a gathering.
The baenite death ritual involves wrapping the deceased tightly in a fine mesh cloth from head to foot and burning atop a large pyre. Ceremonies are short and simple consisting of prayers and songs by relatives and friends. Burning allows the deceased to rise to the everlasting sky and return to Takyr and Zhun. The smoky spirit returns to the sky, to a higher realm... a realm of pure thought, energy and serene perfection... a realm that lacks all physicality.
The baenite marriage ceremony is called the Binding. It is a time of feasting and song.
At the height of summer is the Dance of the Suns... a yearly festival where many villages will meet. The Dance of the Suns is always held out in the deep desert. Each village will assemble a large caravan and all villagers will make the journey to together. Typically, between three and eight villages will meet together. As there are many hundreds of baenite villages, there are dozens of such gatherings. The Dance of the Suns festival consists of three days of feasting, song and prayer. Nonlethal combat and displays of magical prowess by the wizards are common.
Overview of the Clergy
Ashali priests were robes of blue and yellow, using dye obtained from desert plants. They also wear drellisian crystals on leather thongs about their necks. To the baenites, these are known as ashali holy stones.
Ashali priests are community leaders. They lead the rituals, tell the stories, teach the young and advise the elders.
Because of the harsh desert environment, the creation of food, and especially water, is an important part of their priestly duties. At all gatherings, the priests will create food and water for the faithful, as a display of the strength and blessings of Takyr and Zhun. Because of this, ashali priests are greatly respected.
Ashali priests have special magic which can shield them from Takyr's wrath (the drellis effect). Although stories of this have made there way out into the world, the wizards of more civilized lands have not yet made an organized effort to study it.
This website was last updated October 5, 2021. Copyright 1990-2021 David M. Roomes.