The Fanseeth’s religion is tied very much to the place and the people. It is tied heavily into the moons they inhabit and to the history of the Fanseeth. They also have a lot of rituals, usually administered by a lay-priest (someone who is a member of the population at large who has chosen to administer the rituals) but sometimes by people for whom that is their full profession. This collection of beliefs, rituals, and practices is called Vaettirveg by non-Fanseeth scholars, but for the Fanseeth, it’s just the way things are.
Every individual clade and moon will have their own specific regional spirits and structure. Everything is viewed to have a spirit, called a vaettir: every ship (skipvaettir), every station (starvaettir), every moon (tangvaettir), every mountain on that moon (landvaettir). Some of those vaettir are called Light or Dark, but in truth all of them are viewed to be entities with their own agendas, and none can be considered wholly good or wholly evil. Many are also thought to have both Light and Dark aspects: what they give in one hand, they take away in the other, for good or for ill.
Each clade or group will give offerings to the vaettir in their own way, with the most common offerings being of cool, clean water. They are most frequently offered to the vaettir—who then consumes the essence of the thing—and then consumed by the offering parties (assuming that the thing being offered is something that can be eaten), who partake of the physical essence of the thing. Nothing is wasted, nothing is lost.
Vaettir—no matter their aspects—should not be viewed as wholly light or wholly dark, but rather as beings of varying complexity with agendas of their own. They are often said to embody the spirit of whatever it is they represent, which may be very simple or very complex in its nature.
It isn’t entirely certain to any observer or practitioner whether the vaetter actually exist in a literal, tangible sense, but they are widely accepted to exist in some psychic or spiritual form, and rituals to honor and placate are deeply woven into the Fanseeth culture. For example:
- Offerings and prayers are given before an expedition is undertaken and again when it comes to a conclusion.
- Public ceremonies mark events of public importance (everything from elections to births) and also mark out the Fanseeth concept of a year, providing a shared community and continuity of culture.
- It is generally viewed that the Vaettir will hear statements and may take them as a challenge, and so better to soothe things over with offerings (the way in United States culture we “knock on wood”).
Light and Dark
Light and Dark are important aspects to the Vaettir. A Light Vaettir embodies the principles of light, heat, and warmth. A Dark vaettir is associated with cold, darkness, and death. Most vaettir are categorized into one or the other, but some—especially greater vaettir (more on that in a moment)—may embody both principles in what are called “aspects.”
While in general life is associated with life and darkness with death, it is important to remember that heat can kill. Light can sear. Coolness and even death can be a blessing. To the Fanseeth, these are inherent traits rather than moral judgements.
While these forces work against each other and the Light vaettir tend to be more friendly to the survival of the Fanseeth people than the Dark vaettir, balance is always necessary and both aspects are necessary.
The Fanseeth do not practice ancestor veneration in the same way as, say, the Children of Earth do, and there is nothing in Fanseeth practice that would be considered in the same genre.
There are a few vaettir who could be thought of as deities to the Fanseeth. These can be thought of as the vaettir of concepts and are referred to as Greater Vaettir.
Some of the major and widely recognized ones are:
Kanshar, Lady of the Rulers
Lady of the Rulers. Guider of the Wardens. Protector of the People. She is considered to be a severe deity who is called upon in times of hard decisions. When survival is on the line and each decision may be life or death, she is frequently given offerings. She is also the one called upon in the election of a new Warden. Offerings are usually purified water and the meals eaten before decisions are made.
Her light and dark aspects are extreme, but she is generally portrayed as being between the light and the darkness.
Feix, Keeper of Spaces
Keeper of Spaces. Ey guard hearth and home, providing shelter and refuge for those who are accused or those who are hard on their luck. Ey watch over births and deaths and all familial or in-clade disputes. Ey also are said to protect the doors of the clades, keeping out unwelcome elements and influences. Eir domain also extends to sex, protecting children, and are said to love music and dance.
Ey are usually portrayed in their light aspect; eir dark aspect is about barricaded doors, protective shields, and keeping out undesireable elements. The dark aspect is usually only taught as part of an esoteric tradition that few practice.
Shenwa, Guide of the Dead
Ruler of the Passage, Devourer of Corpses. He takes as an offering the essence of bodies before they are reprocessed. Said to love the scent of tree resin, he is particularly drawn to the smell of myrrh. Also the Lord of the Outcasts, he ensures those who are lost to the community are not wasted and is called upon for guidance by those who have been outcast from their clade.
Usually portrayed in a dark aspect, his light aspect focuses on new growth from decay from the recycling of the physical body and its spirit.