Danaanism was once the official religion of the Resurgent Dream and still maintains some followers in that nation. The Temple of Dana also has small branches in the Confederation of Sovereign States, Excalbia, Menelmacar and Knootoss. In almost every nation where it has a presence, Danaanism has waned since the Shattering. The exception is Sovereign States where the Temple, while still a small minority, has been growing steadily ever since Araceli Kasel began a mission there.
The holy book of Danaanism is The Holy Scriptures, which tells the history of the world as the Danaanists see it. The story begins with Dana, the Creator of all that was, is, and ever shall be. She not only created the world but gave birth to the Tuatha de Danaan who ruled the world in her name and helped to govern all things. Under their reign, the two great races known to the Danaanists prior to their first encounters with Elves in 1990 came into being. Humans were created by Dana and Fae were born directly of the Tuatha.
Danaanist ethics are detailed, disputable, and subject to a great deal of debate even within the church. In general, Danaanist religious ethicists follow one of five prominent theologians.
Lady Loraaga ni Ailil, one of the very few Redcaps to bear a title before the Reign of High Queen Agwene, was the first of the great Danaanist theologians. Her writings consist of a legalistic codification of the commandments of Scripture. This Loraagan Code contains those laws specifically mentioned in Scripture as well as a legalistic interpretation of how they are to be applied and a set of additional laws which Loraaga argues are implied by the text or commanded by tradition. According to Loraaga, Danaanist scripture is the exclusive and only truth and a rejection of the faith represents a rejection of one's Creator and of morality as such, a willful transgression of a universally binding moral law. Loraagaists are often called fundamentalists and are generally marginalized in the modern church. Only a tiny minority of Danaanists, associated with the now virtually defunct Purist Party, take Loraaga seriously in the modern world.
Xangeon Serpenthelm, a Mannikin, was the next great theologian. Often called the Danaanist Thomas Aquinas, Serpenthelm reconciled Danaan religion with the philosophy of Aristotle. He stressed the value of virtue as a thing blessed by Dana and said that the purpose of religion was to inculcate virtue into oneself, virtue which Dana would then reward. Serpenthelm held that such virtue was universal and could be found in members of all faiths. Most of his modern followers teach that it can be found in members of all faiths and none. About half of the modern church follows Serpenthelm and his interpretation is almost universal among religious conservatives.
Duke Deslecetremerust ap Beaumayn followed after Serpenthelm, though he went back further for his philosophical material. It was Deslecetremerust who introduced Plato to Danaan theology. He taught that the Tuatha dwelt in a realm of perfect forms and that the form of the forms themselves was Dana, the light of goodness. Because all things are increasingly less exact and thus less perfect expressions of Dana, all things are attached to Her at core. There is no evil in the world but merely different degrees of good. The unjust person merely has a very small degree of good.
Velfrey Von Absinthe, another Redcap, was the most avowedly polytheistic theologian in centuries. Von Absinthe taught that all of the Tuatha were beings of the same sort as Dana Herself and that the difference was merely a matter of degree. She talked of Dana and the Tuatha as the ancient people who were to become the Danaans had done and as worshippers of polytheistic pantheons the world over still do.
Elicia Bondre, the most recent and most influential Danaan theologian, reconciled Danaanism with Kantianism. According to Bondre, the existence of Dana cannot be known to speculative reason and Her revelations may only be taken on faith. However, the existence of a perfect being is not forbidden by speculative reason and is required by practical or moral reason. Dana, possessing a Holy Will, which wills only the good, performs a regulative function for believers. She gives an idea of what that perfect state of moral goodness is which the believers strive to follow, though they can never truly reach such a state. It is the existence of a Holy Will and a Perfect Being and not the existence of Dana as She is described in scripture which matters most to the followers of Bondre. Most of them consider themselves to have more in common with with Kantian Christians, Muslims, and Jews than with Danaansist of the other four theological sects.
- 1 Danaanism today
- 2 History
- 3 Beliefs
- 4 Differences in Beliefs
- 5 Worship and practices
- 6 Symbols
Danaanism is a nearly extinct religion on post-Shattering Earth, claiming only four thousand or so adherents.
The history of Danaanism is virtually impossible to extricate from the history of the Resurgent Dream. The worship of the Celtic goddess Dana seems to have been practiced by Aboriginal Danaans before European settlement. This fact is seemingly inexplicable, as any contact between the aborigines, who apart from their strange worship of Dana otherwise derived their culture largely from Pacific peoples, and the Celts prior to colonization seems impossible.
After colonization began, the primitive worship of Dana continued alongside Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Shinto, and other imported faiths. However, Danaanism in the modern sense did not develop until the Homecoming War, when Fae brought the religion to the Resurgent Dream and established it as the official state faith. It was generally believed to be the religion of the overwhelming majority of Danaans for the next five centuries, although most scholars now believe that other religions remained common, or even preponderant, among humans, below the surface of visible public life.
Over the centuries between its establishment and disestablishment, the ideas of Danaanism developed greatly, transforming from simple pagan worship into a highly philosophical and abstract form of ethical monotheism.
Enormous diversity of belief exists within the Church of Dana. Still, it is possible to venture general statements about what the variety of adherents believe.
Most Danaans believe that Dana is the only divinity and that she is a single, eternal, transcendent being who cannot be subdivided into persons or aspects.
The Tuatha as Dana's Children
Older traditions regarding the godhood of the Tuatha de Danaan are rejected by most Danaanists today. However, the Tuatha are held to be Dana's true begotten children and, in that sense, to be divine in nature. Nonetheless, unlike their mother, the Tuatha, although impressive, are held to be ultimately imperfect in knowledge, power, and virtue.
Most worshippers of Dana believe that every rational being is capable of both good and evil. They believe that all can be saved from their own evil by acting from duty and in accord with the will of Dana. Adherents do not believe in a single saving moment but rather that salvation is a process of choosing the good over time, in each individual decision that one faces.
Real maternity is the belief that Dana, in a form of flesh, physically gave birth to the first rational beings and that, in doing so, she felt the same pains of childbirth as mortal women feel. Most believers in real maternity often also believe that Dana's direct line can be traced, either on Earth or in the Dreaming.
Danaans believe that all people return to the world after their death, usually after a lengthy period. They believe that the actions taken in each life are subject to Dana's judgment and that both the time spent between lives and the nature of the new life are a reward or punishment for past choices.
The Shining Path
Most adherents believe that the dead take a mysterious journey along something called the Shining Path after death and before rebirth. Some Fae claim to remember this journey, stating that they saw wonders beyond compare and felt their souls renewed. However, no human has ever reported such an experience.
Differences in Beliefs
Authority and Different Parts of the Scriptures
Unlike the Christian Bible, there are no disputes about which texts shouuld be included in The Holy Scriptures. However, there are quite a few differences as to the relative importants of each part of the Scriptures. The most conservative worshippers of Dana believe that the entirety of scripture is absolutely and literally true and that every last word is spiritually necessary. The most liberal say that the book is at best inspired, telling the story of people's relationship with Dana without teaching any doctrine all are bound to obey. In between these two extremes, many divide the Scriptures into three parts, saying that the Ethical Books are necessary for faith while the Historical and Prophetic Books are not.
There are a great many different interpretations of the Scriptures in Danaanism, including both differences as to how it is to be interpretted and differences among those who agree on a general method of interpretation as to how their preferred method is to be applied.
The most conservative approach is that of literalism. Put simply, literalist believe that every single statement of Scripture is true. However, this poses many difficulties because the Scriptures seem to contradict themselves in quite a few places. Literalists claim that these contradictions are illusory and that a closer reading reveals the true and consistent meaning. Unfortunately, different literalists often come up with different answers as to what the Scriptures say.
The second approach is that of traditionalism. Traditionalists hold that the Scriptures are the cornerstone of the Church of Dana's doctrine but are only the beginning of the church's tradition. They believe that the doctrines which the church has taught over the centuries represent the message of Dana handed down to the present day.
The third approach is rationalism. Rationalists believe that reason, experience, and the conscience which Dana has given to each of her children, tell us what is right and wrong. They believe that we can use these tools to interpret Scripture. While moderate rationalists teach that reason is simply the most effective tool for interpretting Scripture, more radical adherents of this view say that anything in the Scriptures which contradicts the moral commands of reason cannot be of Dana.
Other Works in Addition to Scriptures
Some adherents elevate the writings of one of the four major Danaanist theologians to a status comparable to Scripture. This is particularly true among more extreme followers of Lady Loraaga ni Ailil or of Xangeon Serpenthelm. The elevation of these writings to a Scriptural status is a major cause of contention between these radical groups and more mainstream Danaanists.
Worship and practices
There is surprisingly very little ceremony in Danaanism. At the birth of a new child, he or she is committed to Dana during a naming ceremony performed on the child's eleventh day of life. When the child reaches the age of thirteen, he or she is given the opportunity to freely choose to become an adult member of the Church of Dana. Until very recently, the great majority of children raised in the church did make such a decision. Danaanists also attend weekly services where a Priest or Priestess delivers a sermon on the principles of the faith.
Acts of personal piety are strongly encouraged in Danaanism. These include, but are not limited to, prayer, meditation, and the private study of Scripture. Danaanists also believe that piety includes living virtuously, being rigorously honest (except for Pooka adherents]], loving one's fellow creature, and being charitable towards the less fortunate.
Weekly worship services
Weekly worship services in the Church of Dana are traditionally conducted on Monday nights. They generally follow the same forms everywhere they are practiced.
At the opening of the service, the Priest or Priestess reads a list of prayer requests sent in by the members of the local church. These normally consist of requests for sick or struggling family members, the recently deceased, or newborn children. The presiding cleric will then ask the assembled to pray for all those listed. After this prayer, there will be a period of music, followed by a Scriptural reading. After the reading, there will be a sermon connecting the eternal truths of Danaanism with local or seasonal concerns. After the sermon, a collection for the poor and for the maintanance of the church will be taken, naming ceremonies will be conducted, and the events of the next week will be announced. All of this is followed by another period of interspersed music and prayer, after which the service ends.
The most important Danaanist holiday is Beltaine (2 May). This is a holiday of love and new life and is the most popular day for weddings in the Church of Dana. Beltaine celebrates the positive and few Danaanists will openly display grief on that day.
The best known Danaanist symbol is the butterfly. Danaanists believe that the butterfly symbolizes the beauty and wonder of Dana's creation. Butterflies are also used to decorate the inside of Danaanist religious buildings. In everyday life, Danaanists sometimes put butterfly bumper stickers on their cars as symbols of their faith.