I hijack this blog for a sudden 5000-word slam of microreligion. Feel free to use as necessary.
Here’s an idea for a religion that actually makes some damn sense and wouldn’t make me feel like a total tool for following it. Only a partial fool.
OF GODS AND MEN
There are two gods, one of good, one of evil. We’ll call them Ahura and Angra after the Zoroastrian deities, but we’ll add this additional wrinkle: they are equal. Ahura, the good one, is not more powerful than the evil Angra. His eventual triumph is not guaranteed. Angra is not a lesser demon, because to say this would imply Ahura could remove him, and what good is he if he does not?
In what manner are Ahura and Angra “good” and “evil”? Obviously it would be absurd for them to be two random actors whose whims define those two qualities; thus one needs to assume good and evil are more than the properties of these two powers. Hence before there were humans, there was no good and no evil. Only with the creation of humans from the gay lovemaking of Ahura and Angra did good and evil come into being: for “good” is that which is pleasing and beneficent for humans, and “evil” is that which causes them suffering and hardship.
Thus before mankind, neither good nor evil existed; after mankind came into being, there appeared a rift between the two gods, for Ahura wished everyone to be happy, and Angra wished himself to be happy. From this they were both corrupted: for Ahura came to realize his personal happiness was immaterial compared to the happiness of the human multitudes; and Angra grew to hate and despise the teeming masses, and determined to cause them as much suffering and as many hardships as he ever could.
These created beings were created out of animal stock; no dead dust were they, but animals the gods had bid to rise. How exactly this coheres with “the creation of humans from the gay lovemaking of Ahura and Angra” is obscure; possibly a deer was used as a dildo. Or then it was all spiritual; that’s always a good one. But anyway humans are of animal stock: brutish limbs, raging animal hearts, very primitively animal-hungry genital regions; it is only in their eyes that the different is seen, and in the undulations of their voice; for the divine that is in them sits atop them as like a crown; in their heads are they divine; in the alertness of their sight and the cogency of their words are they divorced from their lowly origin. It is this mindfulness which makes them capable of good and evil, able to both feel and inflict both.
As Ahura renounced his own happiness for the happiness of mankind, so ought a true human follower of him do: not scorn his or her happiness, casting it away in mindless imitation of Ahura, but imitate him wisely. It is true wisdom to give away of your own comfort and happiness when that giving improves the lot of others more than it decreases yours.
OF PLEASURE AND BEAUTY
Ahura is the god of good: he is the god of all things which are pleasing to men. This doth include the things that comfort the mind, and dull the senses, and make for a world-loving stupor; but it is of Angra to use these things beyond moderation. For Ahura does not forbid a haze of happiness chemically divorced from reality; he merely does not approve of it being the sole pleasure and comfort of a human being. Varied pleasures are good to Ahura; it is of Angra to love only one thing and grow bitter and disdainful of all the others.
The pleasures of Ahura go far beyond the animal pleasures of the drug and the cock; he is the god of good: he is the god of all things which are pleasing to men, and beauty is pleasing to all men. This does not mean what is beautiful is good, or that which is good is beautiful; no. The truth of Ahura is that to behold beauty is pleasurable, and hence good; but whether the beautiful thing is good or not is not within the scope of his law.
As it is said in the Hymn of Pheik Meid-Ap:
And as there is beauty in the face of a man, and that of a woman, so there is beauty in the crush of clouds over an autumn-red plain; so there is beauty in the seething rainstorm on the Inland Sea; so there is beauty in the pyramid of Ahura, man-built, ripping up from the heart of the City of Gods.
There is beauty in human beings, and in the nature round them, and in the things they make; and it is the truth of Ahura to seek out this beauty and behold it and understand it and record it; but it is not of Ahura to say what is beautiful is good; or what is beautifully said is true; or what pleases the eye and the hand ought to be a universal law. There are beautiful things which must not be, if the world is to be a good place for men; there are puppets dancing on dark strings screaming in pain that are exquisite in their beauty, but that beauty must not stop a follower of Ahura from cutting their strings.
This is the greatest teaching of beauty, save the rule that beauty and goodness are not one; this rule that there are many varieties of beauty, for beauty is that which satisfies a human eye, a human hand, a human mouth, a place below, or the yearning of a human mind. As all humans are in small ways different, so their beauties are different; and it is foolishness and evil of Angra to say there is but one law by which there is and is not beauty. The world is one; the world is not a slave to the whims of a human mind; but beauty is in the eye of the human that looketh, and he who beholds makes things beautiful or ugly according to his own whim.
OF WOMEN AND MEN
These holy rules do speak of “men”; and this they do meaning women and men both, for women are the heart of mankind; they are the house in which a child grows, as the house of a family is the place where an adolescent grows, there too until it is its time to leave for wider fields. It is of Angra to say women are cows and broodmares for this; no, they are the center-pillar and heart of mankind; for giving birth they are sacred, and carrying the child they are saints.
And yet in this too does the lie of Angra intrude: for it is ever the will of Angra, the god of evil, to insist there can only be all, or none; to say there can be no choice, and no decision left to women or men. It is said in the serpent tongue of Angra that hence all women should bear children; and the children they bear should be as sacred as the women who bear them. This is wickedness and evil.
This has Ahura said, adjudicating what is good for women: a child is not a human being until it breathes free cut loose of its mother. Until then it is a mewling animal being, a pet and a hearth-animal of the woman that bears; to kill it is not a crime, and a woman who kills it is not a murderer; but to rob a woman of the child growing in her against her will is a crime of violence; but not a murder.
Furthermore, women are saints and more worthy than men for their bearing of children; but this worth is not a fixed place for them nor an obligation for them. This twin parable is told of this in the Red Testament of Bub-yer-Onkel, a Prophet-Judge of Ahura:
As a man is not unworthy who does not do heroics in war, preferring a library, so a woman is not unworthy for not giving birth.
As a man is not ungrateful who does not learnedly understand the world, preferring the sport of arms, so a woman is not ungrateful for choosing something else than the sacred pain of the childbed.
And in final rebuff to Angra, it is not the pain which is sacred, but the result of that pain and discomfort: if the pain were to go away, the sacredness would remain undiminished. It is always a lie of Angra to say that if a thing leads to good, so does a more painful and torturous way to do the same lead to even greater good; this is great wickedness. Truly, is it not said in the Great Commandments thusly: “There is no good in self-negation, save when that is to the furtherance of the happiness of others”?
This all is said of women, for the saying of this on men: as women are the sacred house of new life, so men are the other half of the work which makes that house fertile. It is not their place to be the lords of that house, or its servant slaves; but they are a neighbor of equal worth in the judging eyes of Ahura. And yet Ahura and Angra are equal, and the desires and drives of evil are as strong as those of good; thus is even human language touched and perverted by evil, and it is ever difficult to speak one’s mind, or to formulate words to please both one’s eye of beauty and one’s mind of judgment; and as a mark of this one often hears speech of “men” when “women and men” are meant. Whether such a small injustice in service of beauty is good in Ahura’s eyes is not known; but Ahura is a cold judge, and men, and women also, must make their own judgments on this.
One more immense lie of Angra is this: that of the houses that are men and women ever should only two, one of each, be fenced together. This is madness, and evil; it cannot be the good judgment of Ahura that there should be a judgment of good and evil on how women and men fence themselves; fences are not a matter of good and evil. It is not abhorrent to Ahura no matter how men and women fence themselves in union: a man and a man together are not evil; and a woman and a woman are not displeasing to Ahura.
OF DIVINITIES AND DEMONS
Of Angra, there is Aeshma: he is the demon of the base urges, the demon of rage, the demon of anger and blind fury and the cock’s desire that overwhelms the good judgments of one’s soul; he is a frequent tormenter of mankind, and there is no prayer to oppose him save great patience and the study of these opinions of Ahura. He is a swelling wave; but the one who waits with patience is passed over by the wave, and left unharmed.
Of Angra, there is Sraosha: he is the demon of obedience, the demon of following, the demon of slavish devotion and discipline and believing what one is told; he is the more devious of these two, and by some mistaken to be an emissary of Ahura; but he is not so. There is no prayer to oppose him save great patience and the study of these opinions of Ahura. He is a whispering serpent; but he who knows good is not so because Ahura so wills is passed over unbitten, and he who knows what Ahura says is not by that sole fact true is wise, and will be left unharmed.
Of Angra, there is a third demon, which is nameless; it is the demon of Heaven. It is the demon of mystery. It is the demon of worshipful ignorance, and spirituality, and the expectation of rewards. There is no prayer to oppose it save great patience and the study of these opinions of Ahura. It is a veiled dagger; but the one who does good because it is good will not be killed by it; and the one who knows to worship blindness is to worship Angra will not be poisoned.
All the demons and divities there are beyond Ahura and Angra are of Angra alone; for all those who raise altars are of Angra. It is wrong to worship a man or a woman as a god; it is wrong to venerate them and strike down those who criticize them; and it is even worse to venerate gods which are not even men.
There are no gods save Ahura and Angra: and Ahura does not demand worship, Angra does not deserve it. A god of demands and threats, burning punishment-fires and greedily withheld sky-rewards, is always a false and wicked god, and there is no good in following such for what might be good in their following can be good without it as well.
OF BEFORE-LIFE AND AFTER-LIFE
As the human being is an animal coupled to a divine spark, and out of his or her ancestors does rise from the beasts and from the words of the prophets also, so is also the beginning and the end of an individual human being.
A man is a house built of the dust of the earth, shaped by the will of two builders; a woman is a tower of crude stone, seamlessly slid together by two artisans. A man is the inhabitant of that shell of twin origin, two sources and two builders; a woman in the ghost of that place of twin double construction, the material and the makers both are two. There is in both the stuff of their being, the animal flesh; and there is the spirit which is of Ahura and Angra and thence both good and evil; but the flesh is separate and is neither, though susceptible to both.
A man is a house; a woman is a tower; and the tooth of time doth gnaw down all houses, and cause all towers to fall; so too with men and women. For a while they stand; then the occupant departs, and the ghost within is no more; for the world is a cruel city where to step outside one’s house and home is to die and be no more.
But yet the house’s ruin and the tower’s stones do remain, and are not altogether eroded away, but taken as the models and materials of newer inhabitations. Likewise what remains of the words and works of a human being is their immortality: though a human being may die and be no more, in his or her children there is eternal life, and in all those his or her hand or word or deed has touched; and so do we all live on, forever, in diminishing or growing shadows and highlights over those that come after us; and it is our choice whether to cast no trace, or to loom in terrible shadow or brilliant light after we are gone: for everyone that comes after us is a children of ours, not only those that our animal instincts do make.
THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT OF ALL
This only is required for the understanding of good and evil, of Ahura and Angra, to dawn: there is no good and evil in the stars, or in the ground beneath one’s feet; there is no good and evil in the arcs circumscribed by stars or the lives of animals; all good and all evil there is, is in the various consequences of all on the lives of men.
THE CREED OF THE GREAT COMMANDMENTS
We the of the Reformed Equizarathustrianism Church of the Internet (lol) do adhere to the following Moesian creed:
- There are but two gods, and they are Ahura the Good God, and Anga the Evil God.
- There is no evil but the fates and fortunes of men; no good save what gives pleasure and better life to women.
- There is no good in self-negation, save when that is to the furtherance of the happiness of others.
- Beauty is not goodness; and goodness is not beauty; but it is good to seek, behold, understand and record beauty.
- The world is one; what division there is, is in the minds of men.
- Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder; and so do also happiness and the pleasant path of life differ from one human being to another. It is not the work of men to find one path which is the path of everyone; it is the work of women to shape a land where all paths are pleasant and good, and every man and woman has a path according to his or her tastes.
- Man and woman both are sacred temple-houses in the great city which is all of mankind; and it is for each house to order itself and fence itself as it wills.
- There are four roots to the blood-leafed tree of all evil, and these are three of them: anger, and obedience, and mystery. Only in careful decanters of crystalline patience and study can their venom and acid do anything which is good; and of nature, they are evil.
- The four root of the tree of evil, whose fruits are endless and beguiling to the mouths of the hungry and the sated alike, is this: to be certain of one’s own righteousness, or even of the righteousness of one’s prophet, or even of the righteousness of Ahura.
- No damn figs; they are a fruit of evil and give even the greatest of prophets a food poisoning and diarrhea in the most unfortunate of times, places and audiences.
THE GREAT WARNING
Every human being is of Ahura, and of Angra: therefore do not trust anyone utterly, for every prophet and teacher has a sliver at least of the evil of Angra within his or her heart. Therefore do not also despise anyone utterly, for every tyrant and murderer has a sliver at least of the good of Ahura within his or her heart.
This, too, is said and it is not heresy: There is Ahura, and there is Angra, but they do not define good and evil; they merely desire one or the other. Thus there may be evil in Ahura’s goodness; and good in Angra’s evil, no matter how either would rage at and protest such a thing.
Therefore believe not these teachings of Ahura absolutely; for to be certain of anything in the greatest of all sins, greater than lies or murders; for he who is utterly certain is a fool and shall never be made wise.
Therefore do not despise Angra utterly; for those who do evil often see themselves as acting for some greater good; and there are many who would spill oceans of blood to wipe away a single tear.
RITES OF TIMES
This do in worshipful devotion, to show that you prefer Ahura over Angra, good over evil.
On the first day of each month of the calendar of saints, light a fire in the night-time, and say a prayer in the manner of Naat Inkluuded Inheah; this is to mind you how in every darkness there is light; and though light is not good, and darkness not evil, so likewise there is in everything evil also a sliver of good.
On the middle day of each month of the calendar of saints, retire to a lightless room in daytime, and say a prayer in the manner of Naat Inkluuded Inheah there; this is to mind you how in every light there is darkness; and though light is not good, and darkness not evil, so likewise there is in everything good also a sliver of evil.
These observances are not a fixed law on you, and you shall not be lesser for not observing them; but if you observe one, also do so with the other. For the third observance is the constant observance of the Commandment Against Certainty: and if you blame others for their observational irregularities, you have failed.
On the tenth day of each year, hold the Festival of the Pillar. Then eat and drink and be merry and free with smiles and embraces; and as the night falls light a bonfire and place three puppets in it: these will be the three great demons of Angra, and as the fire burns you shall contemplate them and their power over you; and though you will find they did ride you, you shall not be ashamed; though you will find they did seem pleasant to you, you shall not despair; in the fire of the Pillar you shall see them for what they are, and you shall know that though they may ride you and seem pleasant to you, you shall not fall into their power. This is the Festival of the Pillar, and how it should be held; the rest is for you to decide.
On the one hundreth day of each year, hold the Festival of the Cloud. Then drink and sing and be glad; be free with gifts and praise and embraces; and as the night falls light a bonfire and gaze into it. Fire is that which devours; it is a clean thing, untainted with good and evil, and can be neither or one or both.
In the fire you shall place three rods, one of iron, one of wood, and one of the coal of Naehm-Holderr.
The first shall not be consumed; so will your righteousness in Ahura not be consumed by the worry and the terror of the world.
The second shall be consumed; so will the plots of Angra against you fail.
The third will burn with a bright and colorful flame, and be consumed, and yet leave behind the tears of Lhais.
As morning comes, and as the pyre cools, find these tear-stones and give the to your children, so they may remember the lesson of the coal of Naehm-Holderr: there is nothing that is created by either or Ahura or Angra alone; but yet as the tear-stone is what remains to them, so they can strive to be of only one, though they are born being of both.
And the midday of that second day you shall cane the children who receive the tear-stone, to remind them of the greater wisdom that they saw materia consumed, and materia remaining; it is not that Ahura is spirit and Angra matter, for they both exist equally in both, and neither holds a stronger sway over either domain. This is the Festival of Cloud, and how it should be held; the rest is for you to decide.
RITES OF PLACES
This do in worshipful devotion, to show that you prefer Ahura over Angra, good over evil.
In your own privacy, and in times and places and manners of your own choosing, and without ever telling anyone the time, the manner or the frequency of it, consider all these teachings of Ahura; and let not Sraosha, the demon of obedience, take you: sooner agree with what is good than with what is the teaching of Ahura. (For did not Ahura renounce his own pleasure for the pleasure of all human beings? What fool would worship Ahura over Ahura’s own goal?)
And this doth Ahura command: he who boasts of the frequency and depth of his considerations is a pitiful fool; she who ostentatiously displays her prayerfulness deserves jeers. If any of you say, “I am a worthy follower of Ahura”, that person is to be laughed at; if any of you say, “I am a better follower of Ahura than you”, that person is to be pitied and told all the faults of his character, all the mis-steps of her dance of life.
Consider matters of good and evil according to your own want; and when the time seems right act according to your personal design. Never say you act for Ahura so commands; ever say you act for the cause of good so demands. Never say you act against Angra’s minions and plans; ever say you act with compassion, determination and amelioration against what is evil.
And if any doubt your course, or question your acts, either defend them according to the logic of the world, or instantly cease.
RITES OF PRIESTHOOD
On the two hundreth day of each year, hold the Festival of Mockery. Let that day, publicly and in private, each of you mock and ridicule his or her superiors and leaders, rulers and parents, betters and predecessors; and let him who cannot make fun of his wife be mocked most of all; let she who holds her barbs out of love be laughed at above all others. Do this not out of spite; not out of hate, but to keep the demon Sraosha away; for where there is someone too holy to be ridiculed, his festering poison grows stronger.
But if any of you have spite and hate, do not let that withhold you from mockery; for there are those above that deserve to be hated.
And at midday let the high priest of Ahura ascend to the altar, to the great statue of Ahura himself; and let the high priest bare his rear parts at the statue and wave his front parts at it; and let the priests and priestesses and the acolytes and the initiates and the candle-fetchers and the groundskeepers and the massed ranks of worshippers do likewise; and let there then be expulsions and the abomination of desolation; and let the great statue be unwashed until the next day. Let those initiates that would be priests of Ahura be in the front rank of this, so all may see them. For it is the most wicked ploy of Angra to make people worship Ahura so solemnly they worship Ahura because Ahura is Ahura, not because Ahura is good. This is the Festival of Mockery, and how it should be held; the rest is for you to decide.
And this obligation is laid on all those who would be priests of Ahura, beyond the Festival of Mockery and for all the time they would be called priests of Ahura: they must daily do towards Ahura an act of disrespect, and in one way make themselves fools for their crowds; for as long as they set themselves apart as priests they are in mortal danger and more likely to fall under Angra’s sway than any other.
This Ahura demands of his priests: that they hate what Angra represents, and work against evil with more than rituals and words; and reserve rituals and words for the finding-out of how to work against evil; and that they daily disrespect Ahura and let themselves be disrespected; and if a day comes when this is a routine and without meaning to them, let them call themselves priests no more, and without shame or loss be once again of the flock.
This, too, Ahura commands: that a priest is not an authority, and not a leader; that a priest is a worker among others, a worker of declared dedication. And if you would have a leader, he should not be merely a worker among others; she should not be of the priesthood for priesthood’s sake. This is the priesthood of Ahura, and how it should begin and end; the rest is for you to decide.
THE SECOND GREAT WARNING
And if any of you resort to hollow words and meaningless platitudes, and pronounce his or her course is obvious and heartfelt and as is written by Ahura’s prophets — then he or she is a great servant of Angra, and it is great wickedness to follow them until they give a better account of their actions and desires.
Your hearts are the hearts of animals, and know not the distinctions of good and evil; your minds are the minds of both gods, and know and yearn for both good and evil; you are of body untouched by either and by soul divided to Angra and Ahura both. Unless the web and the ladder of moral contemplation, free of hurry and emotion, is woven to be your compass, you shall surely go astray.
If a great servant of Angra comes to lead you astray by your nose and your privates, by your fears and emotions, you and all your kingdoms are in mortal danger; unless your rulers give full and clear account of all their actions and desires, you are lost into the hell which is Angra.
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Move over, Moses! If I wasn’t so busy with graduate studies I’d be out on the streets gathering cultists already.
(Oh, how many great religions the world has lost because of people too timid to go out and say “Er, sorry, but I actually happen to have a mission from God… sorry, if you could have just a little moment I have this pamphlet I… oh, drat. What? Uh, I’m not really interested in joining Amnesty International right… no, I’m not a face-to-face fundraiser for the WWF! And… what? What do you mean, ‘they’re running intercept to Amnesty’? Are you some kind of a paranoid lunatic? Look, I know you people appear mercenary to the point of annoyance, but do you have some real secret war going on, too? And would it be good for a book of Revelation, maybe?”)