What is Gaianism?
Gaianism is a cosmic religion that celebrates and recognizes Gaia as the Supreme Diety; creator and mother to all things. Although many pagan and tribal religions share close parallels to Terran Gaianism, there are differences that help tell them apart.
The earth itself is a symbolic, rather than a literal, manifestation of Gaia, a physical metaphor for something that cannot otherwise be conceived by mortal minds and that is the source of all life, creative thought, and positive energy. Gaia is an unseen goddess in that she has no face or permanent humanoid incarnation but her presence is deeply and personally felt among her followers.
Modern Gaianism under Odin Haze is centrally organized with an internal hierarchy among its clergymen, and a rigorous set of rituals, practices and scripture.
Gaianism precepts revolve arond peace, love, compassion and altruism but not blind pacifism. Gaians are raised believing that good flowers through the action of good and through the prevention of evil and so often are spiritually compelled to take a stand or oppose an evil influence.
Very few derivative versions of Gaianism propose a version of an underworld where sinners are eternally punished. Most versions with a Hell also have it that the sinner can eventually pay the balance of his sins and ascend to a purer state or that the Executioner, not bound by physical laws, is able to extract penance from the soul directly and thereby cleanse it.
Modern Gaianism also believes that Gaia can be found through a secular life and perspective, even if the observer doesn't recognize her, if it is one of pure dedication and discipline.
What is an Unnatural?
An Unnatural is a being whose existence is a perversion of life. Beings commonly classified as Unnatural are: Lichs, vampires, zombies, poltergeists (but not ghosts or spirits*), aberrations, some constructs**, and Outsiders***.
Through the very act of existence, Gaianists believe that Unnaturals physically cause Gaia harm and damage shared quality of life. Unnaturals are often killed on sight, unless the Unnatural is able to prove that they walk a righteous path.
Revivals almost always result in zombies, save for chances of extreme and random fortune, while true resurrections result in a a palatable existence.
*Poltergeists are lives lost in the throes of intense negative emotion or through grotesque circumstances. The result is a spirit that formed of anger and sorrow, that can express itself only in rage and violence. Poltergeists are treated as any Unnatural, and are purged, exorcised, or destroyed on sight.
Ghosts or spirits, on the other hand, are the unfortunately trapped soul of a deceased being. These things are not 'evil' by classification. Some are fully cognizant while others are little more than segment's of a person's life, playing in an infinite loop. Gaianists help these poor spirits move on and ascend to their rightful place with Gaia.
**This depends on the nature of the construct, its composition, and its intent upon creation. Golems, for example, are common in Terran society. Golemists make complex mechanical contrivances. Gaianists make simple workers out of earth or clay. Either way, it is a fairly common practice.
***Outsiders are a gray area. Though they may not be evil or undead, they are invaders of the plane and their presence can have a destabilizing effect. Outsiders are treated more fairly than Unnaturals so long as they are amenable to being Shunted if they are dangerous, and are good aligned.
How do Gaianists control the earth and what do they call it?
Among the ranks of those indoctrinated into the faith, the art of controlling the earth is known as "the discipline". It is a branch of knowledge; a system of rules of conduct and methods of practice. Outside of the faith, it is colloquially known as earth-bending or geomancy.
First one "unchains the mind". This looses the hold of the ego on the Self, forcing the disciple to question who they really are and what truly informs and shapes their character. When the mind is unchained the disciple realizes the subtlety with which all things are connected and the Way is exposed to him.
The second step is "growing closer". Here, the disciple learns the techniques and methods that bring his mind, body and soul into harmonious resonance with the earth's hum. This serves the dual purpose of synchronizing and stabilizing the rapidly maturing connection between the disciple and the world around him.
The third step is "learning". Here, the disciple is versed in the numerous mental exercises, physical forms, and spiritual strengthening that first enables them to extend their will and influence into the surrounding nature. It is at this point that the disciple also learns their strengths and weaknesses. The peaks and pitfalls of their character determine not just the skill with which they can wield the earth, but their aptitude in phase-shifting and cross-discipline manipulation.
The fourth and final step is "the awakening". At this point, the disciple is fully realized. The discipline is never "mastered" and so must always be studied, but it is at this point that the disciple is considered competent in their geomancy.
It is important to underline that geomancy is a discipline which can be learned by anyone regardless of moral alignment.
How do Gaianists view death and the after-life?
Life is a manifestation of Gaia. Death is nothing more than a transformation of this essence, with the dying spirit ascending to a new state in the cosmological cycle. Birth and death are endless cycles of rebirth and renewal; death is not feared, but simply accepted. Those dying are returning to her grace. When this natural cycle of life and death is altered or infringed upon it weakens Gaia, which is why Gaianists are adamant against the continued existence of the Unnatural.
Lower levels of Gaianistic heaven are seen as illusion-traps, where the ego is made complacent with luxury and convenience. The highest level of heaven is one of unification with Gaia and complete dissolution of ego as one's emotions and experiences merge with Gaia's infinite expression.
Odin Haze is the only known being to have gone with Gaia upon death and return with his self-identity intact. Odin states that this was no special feat of his own and that it would not be so if Gaia did not will it.
What is the Gaian view of Necromancy?
The misconstrued view of Necromancy is as a dark art whose very nature is meant to twist and pervert the natural order of things. This is a false view that follows the art thanks only to sensationalism around a small number that have used powerful necromancy towards terrible ends. The most infamous of which is Zengi, the witch-king, and his legion of Desecrators.
No magic is inherently good or evil and necromancy is no difference. It is the art of manipulating life and it is only the manner and degree to which this is done that determines whether it is evil or good.
Useful talents of a good necromancer involve preparing bodies for last rites, communicating with and exorcising spirits, blessings, rebuking Unnaturals, and Resurrections
--Side-Note C1: When interviewed, Disterl Norvomand had this to say about Necromancy:
“Let me guess. Besides being skeletal and moody, I bet you think all necromancers are murderous fanatics eager to turn everyone they meet into a zombie slave.
"Death has this horrible reputation with mortals. We treat it like some unnatural abomination that needs to be avoided. Death, natural death that is, should be embraced. True necromancy isn’t about zombies and blight and darkness. It is the study and respect of life and death.”
Cremation is the primary avenue by which Gaians deal with their dead, both as a means to thwart attempts by twisted necromancers to interfere with natural processes, and because of the spiritual perspective that see matter and energy as indefinitely and recyclable. From cremation ashes, creating fertile soil to grow plants or even take a part of the ashes to make an heirloom gem stone are common practices. Beside cremation Gaians also practice blessed burials, where the bodies are washed in holy water, the coffins affixed with holy symbols and interred in consecrated ground. Some especially devout forego the after-life and have their souls anchored into golems to guard temples and protect the faithful.
What is the symbol of Gaia?
In Terrenus there are two common modern symbols for Mother Gaia. One is a grand and glorious World Tree which signifies the love of life and peace shared by all Gaianists while simultaneously expressing the stability, strength, and the expansive scope of their faith.
The other is a circle with thorns. The circle symbolizes the never-ending cycle of life while the thorns represent the martial aspect of Gaianists.
Edited by supernal