Children of Earth Traditions (“Earthism”)
The primary or predominant faith among the Children of Earth is not so much a faith as it is a set of cultural beliefs and activities. It’s a lot about traditions, respecting elders, venerating ancestor spirits, and the idea that what you do reflects on your ancestors. Every family keeps an ancestry shrine in a main area of the family dwelling place. Ancestors can also be cultural/fleet figures and non-blood relatives or important people. Following the traditions is part of what makes one a Child of Earth.
Light side of the religion: Tight-knit families, strong sense of heritage and community.
Dark side of the religion: Insularly tribal and rigidly conservative.
Belief about what happens after death: You become an ancestor. Your spirit is fed, honored, and remembered by your family; you watch over your family and dwell in the shrine. If your family does not tend properly to your spirit, you may become an angry ghost, causing nightmares, feeding upon the life essence of the people who’ve forgotten you or neglected you,
- Honor those who have come before you. Learn their names, listen to their stories, recount their deeds, take care of your elderly. They are your heritage.
- Your behavior and character reflects on your ancestors, your family, your ship, and your fleet. Bring them honor, not dishonor. Excel in such a way that the story of your life and deeds will be worth telling. Leave your family stronger, more powerful, and more wealthy than when you were born. This is your legacy.
- Show all people the compassion you would have for any family member. All humans descend from Earth, and are therefore your brethren, despite having strayed far from Earth’s traditions. If they would learn the traditions, teach them freely. These are your people.
- Learn the traditions of Earth and keep them pure. Each ship and fleet carries a different strain of traditions, for Earth’s people were varied and many; this is as it should be. Carry on the traditions of your family and your ship, and teach them to your descendents. The traditions are what make you Children of Earth.
- Feeding the ancestors: Give the ancestors a tiny symbolic portion of each meal along with a prayer. Traditionally one might also light a candle or incense; the fire/smoke/heat is considered to attract their attention.
- Family rituals: Many rituals are done as a family: regular family meals, festival and holiday traditions, birthday traditions, and any other family-specific or ship-specific rituals. Children live with their family-of-origin until they build/marry into a new family. The family unit is one of the most important, foundational traditions.
- It is important to have a whole family (four people, one of each gender, performing their gender role) in order to raise children; a complete family is the goal of many Children of Earth.
- If the family is not complete, an appropriate ancestor spirit can fill the missing role until a living person is found. This is done by acquiring a catten (feline like creatures modified for dwelling on ships and stations) who represents the ancestor, naming the catten with the name of the ancestor, and involving it in the marriage or bonding ceremony. Once a living person is found, the ancestor is thanked and encouraged to move on with a memorial service with loud, theatrical mourning and tales of the ancestor’s life. The catten is renamed and rehomed, viewed as especially lucky everafter.
- Birth and death:
- Reproduction is generally done in the organic way, though surrogates are common. Newborns are named immediately, often after a venerated ancestor or two, and entered into the family records. They are presented to the ancestor shrine, and many offerings are given to the ancestors in thanks and to keep them happy (because newborns are especially susceptible to ghost sickness). The newborn is kept within the family for the first month, and then presented to the community in a celebration.
- If there is a miscarriage, the child is still named, mourned, and entered into the family records (because infant deaths are especially likely to cause ghost sickness).
- When someone dies, their body is immediately processed through liquefaction; bodies are both impure and unsanitary. The resulting ash is turned into a glass mosaic piece that is added to the ancestor shrine with great ceremony, their name and status updated in the family records, while the liquid part is cycled back into the ship’s recycling system. There is a multi-day mourning period (varying in length depending on ship traditions) throughout the ship where there is feasting, storytelling about the deceased, and speaking the merits of the deceased.
- Adoption and Bonding: Sometimes people are adopted into a family for any number of reasons: the family doesn’t have their own children, an outsider wishes to become one of the Children of Earth (and has lived on a ship and followed the traditions for a full trade circuit to demonstrate commitment), or a person has split from their family-of-origin for any number of serious reasons and needs a new family. There are ceremonies for this: giving the adoptee a family name, introducing them formally to the ancestors, having them make offerings to the ancestors, sharing a family meal, adding them to the family records, and finally introducing them to the ship as a new family member (which is of course an excuse for celebration and welcoming among the entire ship).
- Bonding ceremonies are also sometimes called marriage ceremonies (depending on the ship). These vary based on ship tradition, but generally involve the creation of part of a family when two, three, or four people commit to one another as family. (This need not be sexual or even romantic.) This also involves the establishment of a family dwelling-area and moving there from their families-of-origin. It always involves offerings to the ancestors by all parties, introductions to one another’s ancestors, incorporating everyone’s ancestors into the family records, and ship-wide witnessing of the bonding and celebration of the bonding. If it’s an establishment of a new family unit (rather than the addition of one or more persons into a partial family unit), then an ancestor shrine must also be established.
Views of other religions
Of course you can be another religion. It may be seen as superstitious or odd, but no religion really supplants the traditions. You just practice your religion in addition to the traditions of Earth.
Ancestors being proud of you; being a part of making your family/ship/fleet prosperous and powerful.
Ghost sickness, becoming a vengeful ghost, becoming forgotten.