THE MEMORY OF THE CITY
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Mythology
Theology
Major schools of religious thought among the Lilitai
Sarthíanism and its daughter religions are noted for the diversity of ways in which they have been observed. Depending on the person, place, and time, as many as six different major positions as to how to interpret Sarthía's mythology, which can be characterised as a spectrum from most mystic to most pragmatic.

Esoteric Sarthíanism


Sarthika venis or the Venika is the name given to the theological position maintained by the initiates of the priestesshoods of the Dútéan goddesses. These traditions were founded by women closely familiar with the occult beliefs of Ksreskézaian alchemists, and commensurately they retain many of these more extreme theories virtually unaltered from their ancient forms.

Generally, a follower of the Venika will hold that Ksreskézai spent ages studying the nature of the universe through means far more sophisticated than what the Lilitai could obtain, and that they had access to a spiritual plane of existence, the Zetosa (Ξ. fzeltovsera), that coexists with the physical world. Unlike the theistic Sarthíans, they believe that the Lilitai have an inferior connection to this spiritual realm, and so perception itself cannot be fully trusted: the symbology of an action may have significance beyond the comprehension of all involved. This disconnect is called the Khabla, or night-fog.

Venikaníai and theists agree that the Stillai are real, coherent entities and that Sarthía's writings reflect events that really happened in the spiritual realm, but because of the Khabla, the significance and verity of these texts is disputed. To a Venikan, Sarthía's writings were meant to coddle the reader; the Stillai are really ancient demons that manipulate fate, and they are ineffable and unknowable. The rituals that the cults perform placate these monsters, so that the rest of the Lilitai may continue to live in blissful ignorance of the horrors of the cosmos.

Theistic Sarthíanism

Orthodox Dualism


Zízellika is the path of devotion to the Goddesses. Zealous laywomen, inductees of the Tshayéan cults, and many others among the Lilitai maintain this system of beliefs. Followers believe that the Stillai literally exist, and that Sarthía's mythology is an accurate description of real events that are truer than events which occur in the physical world. They do not believe in the Khabla, and refer to the domain of spirits as Lerossa, or often reference it indirectly by invoking Ossa in its entirety. They are Dualists, not unlike the Greek Platonists, and endeavour to perfect the physical world—Venossa, Kelossa, Sanossa (sanes-Ossa), etc.—by being in harmony with the Pantheon.

Like most Sarthíans, Zízellikanai believe the actions of the Stillai interfere with their lives, but they believe the Stillai craft the story of the universe (Ossidha), not the stories of individuals (mídhai). This they do through the familiar instruments of the Authors and Winds, with an unknowably complex web (the Ethariné) of causal chains (étavinei) yielding the experiences of each life. Unlike the merciless indifference of Esoteric Sarthíanism, however, Zízellikanai are reassured that the Stillai favour the Lilitai, and that a Lilitu is not powerless against the Ethariné: her own acts leave ripples in the étavinei, and she may steer the universe through great deeds.

Gnosticism


Darika, the way of the thread, is a system of belief that emphasizes the importance of Vanshúa, the Lilitic equivalent of the Holy Ghost. Darikanai are similar to Zízellikanai, but they differ in that they believe each Stilla in the Lerossa has an extension, or thela (self), within the souls of each Lilitu. These thelai construct the fate of the individual. Thus, through the same tools of Pen and Gust, a Darikan will argue that the Zízellikanai have it backward: the Ossidha is actually the result of étavinei that originate within the thelai, i.e., that the narrative of the universe is constructed from causal chains that originate at each individual's own spiritual affinities, and that it is not centrally planned. Followers of Darika tend to be more empowered to act than Zízellikanai, and have a bias toward assuming they can influence others, especially non-Lilitai. They are generally found in (or striving for) leadership positions which validate this bias.

Introspective Sarthíanism


Less credulous and more philosophical Lilitai favoured decreasingly fantastic explanations for the ordering of the universe. The majority of the population during the Years of the Fringe and the early Thessian colonial period maintained private faith, supposing that a system of belief which was not at odds with the fickle absurdity of a callous and random universe could at least provide them with inner peace. Not being neurologists, the mind was the last truly unknown frontier to these thinkers, and so they placed their goddesses within it. These introspectives, or thelstillidai, believe that the pantheon reflects real, divine elements of the soul, and describes literally true things that happen within the spirit, but limit their acceptance of Sarthía's writings to metaphor and moral, supposing that the events described would be true if the Stillai were capable of acting on a cosmic scale.

Atheist Sarthíanism


The Lilitai who rejected the religious aspect of Sarthía's work generally still regarded it as a useful tool, which is likely how Sarthía herself saw the project. This perspective was often entertained by others simultaneously with their own faith: and priestesses called upon to function as therapists would present real, scientific psychiatric advice devised by the munildai as preachery, typically employing galvilero (asking leading questions) and vení tshitsai (subtext). This arrangement was highly effective at preventing the formation of radical splinter groups, as the state clergy could be deeply pious and still in communion with most science.

Pragmatic or Absolutist Sarthían Atheism


Under the Feplemika model, the pantheon is seen as a tool for understanding people and ordering one's mind. It is held to be useful generally, and that anyone can be enriched by knowing it. Pragmatists maintain that Sarthía was a very wise woman who wrote nothing accidentally, but also that she was still just a woman trying to guide her people.

Relativist or Agnostic Sarthían Atheism


The least enthusiastic were those who believed in the Noplemika model. These were the Lilitai who had the most life experience outside of Lilitu culture, those late joiners who did not experience the Vendashro, and those introverts reluctant to embrace anything not empirically demonstrable. This rather quiet group was most famously represented by Fínanía, although much of her writing on the topic went unpublished due to the culture of censorship among the Lilitai that limited dissemination of radical works. These outsiders generally did not identify with the Stillai, but acknowledged that Sarthía's work had left its mark on the rest of the tribe. Knowledge of the pantheon was therefore still useful to them, as a tool for understanding those who were trained to believe in it. But they found that it was only useful within the context of Sarthían society; among their own kind and when interacting with aliens, common ground had to be obtained elsewhere. These itrezai (observers) were often better at understanding the behaviour of foreigners, and were commonly found within the Lilitina's diplomatic apparatus, the higher ranks of its military, and among the Múnildai.