Etamui Religion: Transhumanism


Transhumanism is, at its core, the belief in and active work towards the potential of active transformation of humanity into something post-human. It is a nearly universal belief on Celestial Station––when one believes in anything at all, that is. However, there are several transhumanists sects that vary wildly in their practices and approaches:

  • Singularitarians (or Singularists), who believe we’ve already achieved the technological singularity and just don’t realize it or are in denial about it. They treat the neuralnet with all the respect and reverence of a deity, and treat computerized objects with the care one might show to a demigod or messenger of a deity. Programs are prayers. God is in the machine.
  • Matricists, who believe that we’ve already gone beyond humanity and uploaded our consciousnesses into the neuralnet. They claim to believe all our experiences are virtual, rather than actual, and life only has the consequences you allow it to have. They think that if you can truly understand that experience is an illusion, you can do anything at all and attain godlike power; to work towards this end, they engage in any number of activities to free their minds. Martial arts, drugs, trance-inducing neuralnet programs, meditation, and reckless activities to try to awaken their minds. Some matricists die of this enlightenment-hunting every cycle. (Supposedly, the matricist sect began as a joke. Some people still participate in it as a joke or recreation. Some certainly do seem to be true believers, though.)
  • Spiritualists, who believe that the spirit reflects the body, and the body reflects the spirit. They seek to modify their body to show what they feel their spirit looks like, or to influence what they want their spirit to be. If they can align body and spirit just right, they might achieve enlightenment, or empower themselves with supernatural abilities. Often their modifications make them look alien, inhuman, animalistic, or give them a deviant kind of beauty.
  • Shapeshifters, who strive to be more than a singular individual, using technology and modifications to “become” or embody different identities and understand the world from multiple perspectives. They believe every person is a multiplicity and in losing their individual selfhood, they can join with the collective consciousness of humanity. Ideally, this is a very serious philosophy and practice. In actuality, this is the domain of those privileged and wealthy enough to be able to take on new roles and afford the constant biomods needed to change their appearance and merge with another perspective every few cycles (though people with less access to such luxury can still engage with this through virtual reality, drugs, and neural programs). These are often SciDevs who engage in cultural tourism, “slumming it” with Glitches until that becomes uncomfortable or loses its appeal, and they declare they’ve learned what they were meant to learn from the experience before moving back to the Research and Development ring.
  • Uplifters, who believe that all sentient beings deserve to be sapient and have that sapience recognized. They advocate for enhancing animals and plants towards greater cognitive capacity, and also strive for increased self-awareness in artificial intelligence. For many, it’s because they feel humanity deserves to not be alone in the universe. For others, it’s that they believe many animals, plants, and/or artificial intelligences have already achieved sapience but it’s not respected or recognized sufficiently by humanity, and they want to join with other sapient beings in the pursuit of transcendence.

Basic Tenets

  • Seek perpetual growth and progress in all aspects of human existence, taking an active part in one’s own biological evolution. Mankind shall be the director of its own destiny.
  • Transcend the constraints of body, mind, and society.
  • Empower people with conscious choice over their lives, bodies, and deaths.
  • Knowledge, culture, and resources should be shared among the population for the betterment of humanity and swifter human evolution.


Basic Practices

These vary by sect.

  • The only one that exists across almost all transhumanists is that of modifications. Biological, genetic, and cybernetic modifications are ubiquitous aspects of transhumanism, viewed as ways to push the evolution of humanity or the self to the next stage of the species.
  • Spiritualists, Shapeshifters, and Matricists often engage in some form of meditation to increase self-awareness or seek enlightenment. Sometimes this is a sitting meditation focused on the breath; other times it’s with biochemical or virtual assistance to enter a trance state.
  • Singularitarians often engage in prayer and program-driven communication with the Superintelligence of the neuralnet. Some engage in divination by scrying the code of the neuralnet and claim to have received information from the Superintelligence through this practice.


What happens after death? This belief varies wildly by sect and individual. Many transhumanists believe there is nothing after death, only oblivion, and so this is part of their drive to seek to extend life indefinitely. Matricists believe (or claim to believe) that consciousness is uploaded into the neuralnet and lives on therein. Spiritualists and Shapeshifters often subscribe to the belief of some form of reincarnation or another. Uplifters and Singularitarians may have any number of beliefs about the afterlife.

Dream: To reach the next stage of humanity’s evolution, and the next after that. Pleasure and being free from suffering.

Nightmare: Stagnation. Suffering. Ignorance.

Light side, positive qualities: At its best, transhumanism encourages compassion for all living beings, egalitarianism, sharing of resources, helping the sick and poor, and universal care and education.

Dark side, negative qualities: At its worst, transhumanism becomes a rationale to take away the choice of individuals in order to enhance the greater good or the evolution of humanity as a whole.

Fanseeth: Vaettir-Tales and Vaettir-Sworn

The Fanseeth believe there are vaettir in everything, that all things have a spirit which must be considered and honored (or, more often, placated). Offer to the skipvaettir, the spirit of your ship, to increase the likelihood of safe travel. Offer to the hylvaettir, the spirits of the mine, in hopes of safe mining. Offer to your knife to turn its hunger from your flesh to the flesh of your foe.

And offer to the wild things, the dark things, the hungry things, in desperate appeal that they won’t hunt you.

Because there is a spirit in everything, and there are spirits that are not kindly inclined towards humans. The Fanseeth lead harsh lives on harsh environments, and they make meaning of mine collapses and shipwrecks through tales of the dark vaettir who were surely responsible.

The Fanseeth have several kinds of spiritual advisors and intercessors to deal with the vaettir. Sometimes these are full-time jobs and the practitioner’s only professions; in other clades, these are part-time roles only, and the practitioner also is a pilot, miner, or does other jobs on the side.

  • Speakers are the spiritual leaders of the community, translating the needs and wants of the local vaettir to the community, and speaking for the community to the local vaettir. 
  • Vaettirthegn are spirit-servants, spirit-sworn. They are the hands and feet of the vaettir. They provide quieter service to the community, often teaching, raising children whose parents are dead or unknown or away at the mines, doing small rituals to placate the vaettir. 
  • Vaettirthralls are… strange. They are devoted entirely to the vaettir to a degree of intimacy unmatched by the other roles, and are often under a series of taboos and behavioral restrictions. In some ways, they are like nuns or monks in other traditions, but more solitary. Vaettir-touched, vaettir-sworn, perhaps vaettir-possessed. They are often avoided by many members of society, though they are believed to have power from the vaettir and sometimes approached warily for good-luck charms, help with a curse, or spiritual healing. 

Every clade has its particular tales of hostile or mischievous vaettir, as does every mining site, each factory, each ship. Parents, teachers, and nurses tell kids to behave, or a particular local vaettir will get them. Kids have fears of the troll under the bed or the goblin in the closet. When little annoying things go missing on a station, it’s a wight’s fault. When ships malfunction, it’s because of the gremlins in the pipes and wires. 

And there are worse stories. 

The Gap-Huldra, invisible vaettir of the space between stars and stations that wanders the void; she consumes ships whole and cannot be reasoned with or bargained with. 

The Storm-Giants, spirits of the radiation storms that swirl over the planets and moons, beautiful and deadly, dancing the auroras in their wake, observable only from the safety of a clade’s shielding but they’ll eat the flesh from your bones if you are outside the shielding when they arrive. 

The Nacker, who plays music so sweet that it’ll draw you out of the station without your suit, and reduce you to gibbering hallucination. (This may be an explanation for the star-madness that sometimes comes from being asteroid-bound too long.) Tales say that some have managed to survive him by offerings or bargaining or entertaining him, and some have sought him out to learn his musical gift.

The cave-trolls, a sort of hylvaettir, believed to live deep in the asteroid mines and who jealously guard its resources. They abhor light and want to be left in peace to their asteroid homes, so flooding a mine with light is believed to keep them away. Lights going out, cave collapses, and any number of mining accidents are attributed to the cave-trolls. If too many of these accidents happen, miners will murmur increasingly about this mine being a vaettir-place full of angered cave-trolls. Some unions have organized strikes until a vaettirthegn, a Speaker for the Vaettir, can be brought in to pacify the spirits. 

Fanseeth: Religion

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.

Ancestor Veneration

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.

Written by: David H. Clements

Children of Earth: Angry Ghosts

An angry ghost is what happens when an ancestor is forgotten, dishonored, or angry for some reason. Among the Children of Earth, angry ghosts are believed to be the causes of many physical and psychological illnesses, ship malfunctions, and streaks of bad luck, among other ailments and unfortunate events.


The Children of Earth believe there are any number of reasons an ancestor might become an angry ghost.

Perhaps their family line died out so they are no longer receiving proper attention; to prevent this, families without children will sometimes adopt a child from a family with plenty of children, or become godparents, so that the roll of names in their ancestor shrine can be added to the ancestor shrine of their godchildren or adopted children and tended properly. Emergency adoption of ancestors also happens on existing Children of Earth ships when a ship is lost, as sometimes happens, because no one wants an entire ship full of angry ghosts finding their way to your fleet.

Perhaps the person died under suspicious or especially painful means. Maybe they died while trading on a planet, in which case they weren’t on the ship when they passed, and thus their spirit got confused and upset in trying to find its way to the ancestor shrine. Maybe they were murdered; it’s a rare thing among the Children, but not unheard of. Maybe they died of a terrible injury or illness, lingering on their deathbed for a long time before passing away, their spirit wracked with pain and confusion.

Perhaps – and this is the most commonly cited reason for an angry ghost – they are upset about something one of their descendents has done. Maybe the family has fallen out of prosperity or political favor, when it was powerful in the ancestor’s time. Maybe someone accidentally defiled the shrine. Maybe they disapprove of a descendant’s conduct, behavior, marriage, or choice of occupations.


When someone suspects they are being haunted by an angry ghost, they call in an elder. Elders have lived long enough to know many of the ancestors when they were alive, and are believed to be closer to the ancestors due to their proximity to the end of their own lives. An elder will use a divination system of some kind: perhaps throwing dice, or reading with conquian cards, or entering a trance. They will interpret the meaning of their divination as indicating the presence or absence of an angry ghost, and no one dares seek a second opinion if they don’t like the results, because that would be incredibly disrespectful to the elder.

If the divination points to the absence of an angry ghost, the inquirer is told to take responsibility for their own mistakes or bad luck and not bother the elder about it. (If the story of the supposed haunting is clearly a case of someone making a mistake and wanting to pass it off on being plagued by a ghost, the elder might not even bother with a divination at all, and may tell the inquirer to stop wasting their time.) If the divination points to the presence of an angry ghost, then the elder strives to figure out what the ghost needs in order to be calmed and become a beneficent ancestor spirit again.


If the elder can get information about what the angry ghost needs or wants, the remedy is pretty simple. Often, though, the solution is simply to try a variety of remedies. These vary wildly by ship and fleet, but some common ones are as follows.

  • Funeral: The deceased’s name is removed from the ancestor shrine. A second funeral ritual is performed with the haunted people and anyone available who knew or was related to the deceased. Their name and deeds are read aloud, everyone shares stories and memories of the deceased, offerings are given, and the deceased’s name is added back onto the ancestor shrine. This is the funerary practice of most Children of Earth ships; it’s done again to remind the ancestor that they are dead, they are honored, and they should join the ancestors in peaceful rest at the ancestor shrine.

  • Feast of the Dead: If the identity of the angry ghost (or ghosts) is unknown, the Children might hold a feast of the dead. In this case, they are making offerings to the unknown and forgotten ancestors. Most ships have a shrine to these unknown ancestors, just to cover their bases, and the shrine is tended by the elders, the captain, and anyone else who wants to do so for the possible luck or favor. At a feast of the dead, everyone on the ship makes offerings to the unknown ancestors, and there is much merrymaking, music, performance, and storytelling to try to earn the favor of the unknown ones.

  • Purification: Anyone plagued by an angry ghost may try purification and misdirection to rid themselves of the ghost. This is best done in conjunction with placation attempts like offerings, a funeral, or a feast of the dead. Different ships have their own purification rituals, but this may include wearing your formal clothing while your usual everyday clothing is thoroughly cleaned, or it may mean transferring to another ship for a while, or fasting and meditating in front of the ancestor shrine for a time. Perhaps the person wears their clothing inside-out to confuse the angry ghost, or disguises their face with nanocosmetics, or takes on a different name.

  • Substitution: Sometimes, the Children of Earth believe, the ghost wants to be in a body again. This is often believed to be the case when someone seems to be possessed. The ghost is invited into the body of a catten, which is especially fortunate when a family needs a fourth family member in order to have children (or if the ghost is upset because a family has had children without having a full family unit); the ancestor-possessed catten can stand in for a fourth family member until such time as the family finds someone living. Even if a ghost marriage is not feasible, the catten is treated as if it were the ancestor in truth, and welcomed as an elder.

Ghost stories

Every ship has its ghost story, and often multiple stories. Some examples follow below.

  • The crew of the Armis Intrepid fills the stories of the Great Fleets. When the Children of Earth were newly among the stars, the Great Fleets sometimes commandeered ships that flew alone. The Armis Intrepid was one of those that the Mercatalin Fleet commandeered via deception, with broken promises of protection and trade. Back in those days, mercantile law hadn’t yet been established, and the Great Fleets were more cutthroat and intolerant of competition; the captain of the Intrepid objected when she found out that Mercatalin wasn’t ever planning on helping them but was instead going to replace her with their own crew. Her Mercatalin replacement killed her, and her crew fought for her and were slain in turn. The Armis Intrepid then suffered every possible malady in spacefaring history: illness, accidents, getting lost, lurching too soon out of relativistic speed, injury, and so on. It was eventually scrapped for its parts, which were incorporated into many of the different Great Fleets ships… and the restless, angry spirits of the Intrepid linger with those parts, still trying to get their revenge, spreading illness and misery wherever they can. Great Fleets members sometimes report seeing faceless figures in the mirror, or strangers standing in one particular spot on the ship while watching them expressionlessly, gone when the member takes a second look.

    The Sponsored also tell the tales of the Armis Intrepid but believe them to be sympathetic figures. Some even include the Intrepid in their ancestor shrines as cultural ancestors, and encourage them to make trouble for the Great Fleets.

  • Then there’s the United Fleets tale of the Ghost Mechanic, believed to be a mechanic who died horribly of mysterious means while working in the engine room. He haunts the engines of ships, still trying to do his job, trying to fix whatever problem he was working on when he died. Unfortunately, that often means he creates the problem in the engine first. Many engine problems are blamed on the Ghost Mechanic, as well as any mysterious noises in the ship’s inner workings. Living mechanics sometimes offer additional incense in the engine room, or keep a small shrine to the Ghost Mechanic to try to placate him.
  • There’s also the story of Fractured Sesha, particularly common in Elder Caravans stories. She appears in the transitions from ordinary speed to relativistic speed and back again, her mouth open in a scream, her body strangely proportioned and moving irregularly. If you meet her eyes, it’s said, she’ll try to possess you in her attempt to escape from the disjointed space between relativistic and ordinary time. If you’re possessed, you will fall ill and you’ll be prone to shakiness and even seizures; only by purifying yourself during the next transition will you be able to get free of Fractured Sesha. Some people of the Elder Caravans put gauze or dark glasses over their eyes during transition to protect themselves from possession.

Children of Earth: The Traditions

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,

Basic Tenets

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Basic Practices

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
  3. Birth and death:
    1. 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.
    2. 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).
    3. 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.
  4. 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).
    1. 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.

Religion’s dream/hope

Ancestors being proud of you; being a part of making your family/ship/fleet prosperous and powerful.

Religion’s nightmare/fear

Ghost sickness, becoming a vengeful ghost, becoming forgotten.

Writing credit: Dani Higgins