Hello, pilots. So, obviously enough I’m not doing a lot of travel writing lately. I thought maybe I’d do a little discussion of something a little closer to home, at least for me. That is, well, home.
Achura: a planet, AKA Saisio III. “Achura,” a nation and religion, collectively. “Achur” can be a singular or collective noun for people (one Achur, a crowd of Achur), or an adjective; really if you’re talking about Achur you’re not likely to use the word “Achura” all that often, though translators seem to struggle a little with the grammar (including mine sometimes).
The Achura are a client nation of the Caldari; we’re not from Caldari Prime. Our world was in its iron age when the Caldari found us. It’s only been a couple hundred years, since. Only our cities got fully uplifted, and our aristocracy along with them; the rural areas wound up led by our monasteries. So, we’re basically the strangest theocracy ever.
An important thing to understand just sort of from the start is that the Achura are a really diverse nation in terms of what we believe. We’re theocratic-- technically-- but don’t really have any concept of heresy. There aren’t a huge number of us, especially compared to the overall populations of the various worlds out there; we’re basically just the rural residents of just one planet. A couple centuries of having access to better medical care’s maybe helped that a little, but, the fact is, we don’t get out much. Like, literally, we’re mostly just at the bottom of that one gravity well.
(Note I didn’t say “entirely.” There are monasteries scattered in a few other places, too.)
Anyway … even though there aren’t a lot of us, our religion’s collectively sometimes called “the thousand sects,” and, globally, that’s probably a conservative estimate. Our beliefs range from animism to polytheism to pantheism to a kinda-sorta monist atheism, with every gradation in between and probably some points I haven’t mentioned. The kind of wonderful thing about it all is that while all of these sects exist in tension, with only very rare exceptions, they’re not exclusionist. Achur sects might bicker over whose insight runs deeper, but it’s hard (not impossible, but hard) to find one claiming that other sects don’t have a point, and it’s easy to find monasteries being shared by monks and lay practitioners of multiple different sects.
A few common threads:
Most Achur believe in some form of a universal being and/or consciousness (what we Shuijing practitioners call the “Totality”). Just how conscious it’s taken to be is a lot of what determines where on the overall spectrum of beliefs a given sect lies; a sect viewing the universe itself as a true collective consciousness often tends towards animism, seeing eyes in every rock and every clump of grass (maybe even every subatomic particle, depending). It makes for a pretty lively view of things. On the other extreme, a sect seeing the universe as a seamless whole, but lacking a meaningful consciousness we could recognize, will often tend towards spiritual skepticism.
Most sects teach some version of a pantheon of deities and spirit beings (they go by various names, depending on where you are. The Creator is a particularly widespread example). Some sects regard these as literal, actual personages (one or more of whom believers tend to expect to meet after departing this living world). Others approach them as “teaching tools,” stories to help guide people on the paths they’ll walk over the course of their lives. Particularly at the more spiritually-skeptical end of the practitioner scale, what monks study and what lay-practitioners practice (sometimes called “folk religion”) can be pretty different.
Most Achur are interested in concepts such as stargazing (“fortune telling”), without actually quite believing in it. Stargazers are broadly admired-- but it’s for their ability to read people, more than stars.
Most Achur sects teach intellectual curiosity as a virtue, and knowledge or insight as more valuable than material wealth. Seen in materially-concerned Caldari terms, the Achura are pretty poor. Seen in spiritually-concerned Achur terms, the same’s true of the Caldari. (We usually find each other to be closer kin than other peoples, on the whole, though.)
Being sensitive to the differing demands of different roles, most Achur will speak more in terms of appropriateness, than of right and wrong. Different sects have different teachings, but, usually, it’s understood that it’s unreasonable to expect the same behavior from a soldier and a farmer. What is proper for one will only get the other killed. (We haven’t had a lot of soldiers these last two centuries, though.) Anyway, this understanding extends broadly to a lot of aspects of society; a place in this world comes with its own set of expectations and standards, which are often in tension with those from other roles an individual might be called to play. An amazing chef might make a poor father. Being a poor father does not make him less-admirable as a chef, but neither does being an amazing chef make being a poor father “okay.”
The trickiness of maintaining this balance, and a general sense that it’s broadly improper to meddle in others’ affairs, results in a tendency not to question others’ choices without good reason. Of course, being subject to one of those choices obviously provides standing to question…
There’s probably more to say (I’m kind of going to make this an extended thing, so I certainly hope so), but I’m getting pretty tired, so I’ll leave it there for the moment. I’d like to specifically invite other Achur to speak up with their thoughts and perceptions. Achura’s a small nation in terms of the whole star cluster, but it’s still an entire not-that-tiny planet; it’ll be hard for me to cover it all on my own.