Friday Lore Post: Enjoni Religion

Enjon is arguably the world’s most religiously pluralistic nation, though it’s only an arguable position if one happens to be from Aergyre. For those not from the Empire, it is clear that the religious landscape of Enjon is more diverse than anywhere else, and that is entirely because the majority of Enjoni culture is costal and all of their coastline is within easy sailing distance of Menechit, Yavhore and Aergyre. Religious traditions from all three of those places exist across Enjon as minority traditions.

These fit into a native religious landscape that allows for any number of gods. Enjoni people don’t have a name for their religion; asking them if they belong to a specific church or temple will generally return an answer pertaining to which gods are their personal patrons. Imperial colonizers call it Engat, which is etymologically derived from the Gronnde word for “person from Enjon.” Looking at the religious landscape of Enjon through a non-Imperial lens, however, makes it clear that the dominant religious forms in the nation are not organized under one church in the way that the Catechism or the Imperial Pantheon are.

The gods worshipped across Enjon are numerous and are not the same everywhere. Certain deities are recognized nationally, such as the creatrices Esmeri and Yvelljn, a married couple who, through sexual union, created the world. They then became the sun and moon respectively, and these celestial bodies are therefore worshipped in their stead. All Enjoni deities are worshipped in lieu, because they are believed to have retreated from the mortal world long ago. Explanations for why they did this vary, with some suggesting it was to wait for the end of the world, some saying it was to live in the Gated Land, and one notable minority believing that it was because they hated humans very, very much. Regardless of the reasons, Enjoni gods are not considered to be present in the world and therefore have limited ability to make changes to the world except through intermediaries known locally as yadaven, which is translated as either ‘shaman’ or ‘caretaker,’ depending on the context.

Stationary yadaven are known in Daolo as caretakers, and are those who keep Enjon’s temples. They accept worship and offerings and ensure that the will of the gods is done in the community. Enjoni temples do not accept financial donations and subsist entirely on donations of food and clothing from their communities. Similarly, itinerant yadaven, shamans, subsist entirely on donations, but rather than utilizing a donation structure from a temple, travel around alone to carry out the will of the gods, relying on the generosity of the people towards the divine.

The “will of the gods” is a very nebulous concept, because there are so many gods and often all they seem to want is veneration. Veneration takes many forms depending on the gods and may include participation in ritual activities such as dancing or meditation, or martial training or fishing certain types of sea life and dedicating the catch to the god. The exact number of gods in the Enjoni pantheon is unknown; the Empire lists two hundred and twenty-five gods, but this is most likely a guess passed off as a fact. Complicating the issue is that many of the gods appear to have different names in different regions; for example the banquet god known as Caran is Narwhal Junction is called Ashbeth in Greater Nobla and Teakk in Douplen, but as far as anyone can tell, the supposed three deities are one and the same, merely with different names. Gods may also take different forms, as in the case of the death god Taqqa, who also appears as a completely different death god named Elouk, but whom all yadaven insist are one and the same. This can be very confusing to newcomers, as this kind of transposition of divine personalities is not common anywhere else in the world.

Veneration of Enjoni gods does not generally require regular services or collective worship at temples, but on holidays relevant to certain gods, temples will be far busier, and public veneration will be expected, with one example being Teakk, the summer solstice festival during which it is believed the gods will someday return to the world.

Enjoni religion heavily features fetishes, which can range from very small pieces of bone or feather or fur to quite elaborate carvings. Typically these are worn on one’s person or placed in relevant places around one’s home, with a fetish to a god of hearths being placed near one’s fire, for example. Often fetishes are quite abstract and are not necessarily representations of the gods themselves but merely reminders of aspects of them, which is considered enough to grant the gods’ attention. When asked, most people will say that wearing a fetish doesn’t mean the god in question is paying them any attention, but that it is good luck to let other entities know that that god could be present. Spirits play an important role in Enjoni religion as they are considered to be widespread and frequently willing and able to interact with humans, but can be convinced through their fear of the gods to behave and grant boons rather than curses.

Werewolves practice religiosity in very similar ways to humans in Enjon, believing in transcendent, absent gods who want different and often nebulous things. They tend to believe the gods can be directly spoken with by certain individuals, but don’t tend to hold beliefs that they will come back someday. The similarities between their beliefs and human beliefs are such that it’s obvious the two traditions grew up in proximity, both of them claim that they developed independently and claim that the similarities are reflective of the objective truth of their beliefs, but the reality is that these two cultures have historically been proximate to each other and it is only natural they would have similar beliefs.

Because Enjon is historically polytheistic, so the Catechism has not had considerable success spreading throughout the north, though around Sealfin Bay it has a good foothold, mostly through emphasis on the saints and martyrs, rather than the one god. Yavhorel religions have had a lot more success penetrating most of Enjon, especially around Tornopa and Narwhal Junction, because they are also polytheistic and most Enjoni people can easily accept many of the beliefs pertaining to those deities and simply ignore the insistence that the Yavhorel gods live in the mortal world. Imperial religion has had less success, because though it is also polytheistic, it is also rather dramatically tied to the Empire itself, the colonization of which is a sticking point for many Enjoni people and, of late, many Enjoni gods. Because the Empire is barely present outside of Narwhal Junction, it’s rare to see Imperial temples anywhere else in the country, though certain Imperial sects of the Catechism have done considerable mission work in rural Enjon.

Similarly, Enjoni religion has had little penetration outside of Enjon. Though it has been brought to several places through trade and temples to some Enjoni gods exist in Yavhore and Dolovai and even Aergyre, generally it is only migrants who use them and they don’t tend to have a lot of success converting people. This is likely because they don’t try to convert anyone. Though the Enjoni gods like veneration, they don’t get angry with people who don’t give it to them. They simply ignore them when it’s time to hand out blessings.

From “The Definitive Atlas of the World, Vol. 6: Mythologies and Beliefs,” by Pascal Tiberius Naoton Quimbell Haeverine anNatalie, published in White Cape in DN 1997.

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