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Armazism (Varkan: არმაზიზმის, Armazizmis; Aetolian: Αρμαζισμός, Armazismós; ♁) is an ancient polytheistic pagan religion and way of life, revolving around the syncretized Aetolian and Varkan mythologies into the Armazist mythology, and embracing Dinaric values and virtues. Armazism has been often described as a religion that adapts to scientific discoveries, while holding deep roots of syncretism and holding several mythological concepts from neighboring cultures' mythologies.
It is the largest of the pagan religions, with over ??? million followers or ???% of the global population.
- 1 Beliefs
- 2 Armazist observances
- 3 Religious leadership
- 4 Temene
- 5 Relations with other religions
- 6 Demographics
- 7 Culture
Armazi (არმაზი/Αρμαζι) is the spiritual and fundamental life force understood by Armazists, giving its name to the religion. It is transcendent, omnipresent and manifests everywhere: organisms, the environment, events, etc. Armazi is the pure primary energy that composes the universe and created it along with Chaos.
Armazist theology is polytheistic, based on the assumption that there are many gods and goddesses, as well as a range of lesser supernatural beings of various types. There is a hierarchy of deities, with Zeus, the king of the gods, and Hera, the queen of the gods, having a level of control over all the others, although neither is almighty. However, some denominations of Armazism disagree on this hierarchy. According to the Homeric Church, Hera was not Zeus' equal.
Some deities have dominion over certain aspects of nature. For instance, Zeus is the sky-god, sending thunder and lightning, Poseidon rules over the sea and earthquakes, Hades projects his remarkable power throughout the realms of death and the Underworld, Gaia is planet Adonia and Helios is the sun. Other deities ruled over abstract concepts; for instance Aphrodite controlled love. All significant deities were visualized as "human" in form, although often able to transform themselves into animals or natural phenomena.
While being immortal, the gods are certainly not all-good or even all-powerful. They have to obey fate, known to Armazist mythology as the Moirai, which overrode any of their divine powers or wills. For instance, in mythology, it was Odysseus' fate to return home to Kavala after the Myran War, and the gods could only lengthen his journey and make it harder for him, but they could not stop him.
The gods act like humans and have human vices. They interact with humans, sometimes even spawning children with them. At times certain gods are opposed to others, and they try to outdo each other. In the Myriad, Aphrodite, Ares and Apollo support the Myran side in the Myran War, while Hera, Aetole and Poseidon support the Aetolians.
Some gods were specifically associated with a certain region. Aetole is associated with the Aetolian peninsula, Dali with Kartli (and subsequently Varkana), Dionysus with Arberia, and Zeus with Theodosia. But other gods are also worshiped in these regions. Other deities are associated with nations outside of the Dinarides; for instance, Poseidon is associated with Faencia and Myra, and Hestia with Thermessa.
Armazism has an extensive mythology. It consists largely of stories of the gods and how they interact with humans. Myths often revolve around heroes and their actions, such as Heracles and his twelve labors, Odysseus and his voyage home, Jason and the quest for the Golden Fleece and Theseus and the Minotaur.
Many species exist in Armazist mythology. Chief among these are the gods and humans, though the Titans (who predated the Mytikian gods) also frequently appeared in Armazist myths. Lesser species include the half-man-half-horse centaurs, the nature based nymphs (tree nymphs were dryads, sea nymphs were Nereids) and the half man, half goat satyrs. Some creatures in Armazist mythology are monstrous, such as the one-eyed giant Cyclopes, the sea beast Scylla, whirlpool Charybdis, Gorgons, and the half-man, half-bull Minotaur.
The Armazist creation myth is told in Hesiod's Theogony. It states that at first there was only a primordial deity called Chaos, but then emerged the life force of Armazi, which gave birth to various other primordial gods, such as Gaia, Tartarus and Helios, who then gave birth to more gods, the Titans, who then gave birth to the first Mytikians.
The cult of heroes is very important in Armazism. Every locale or culture has a number of heroes associated to it, Aetolia having the most. A hero is more than human but less than a god, and various kinds of supernatural figures have come to be assimilated to the class of heroes; the distinction between a hero and a god is less than certain, especially in the case of the Aetolian Heracles, the most prominent, but atypical hero, who was effectively a demi-god. Most Armazist heroes are Aetolian due to their literary legacy.
Armazists believe in an underworld where the spirits of the dead go after death. At the moment of death the soul is separated from the corpse, taking on the shape of the former person, and is transported to the entrance of the Underworld. The Underworld itself is described as being beneath the depths of Adonia, accessible through an underground river called the Styx, who is also a goddess. She judges the dead and decides if they are to be reincarnated in the world of the living or enter the Underworld. The deities of the Armazist pantheon swore all their oaths upon the river Styx because, according to Armazist mythology, during the Titan war, Styx, the goddess of the river, sided with Zeus. After the war, Zeus declared that every oath must be sworn upon her. Zeus swore to give Semele whatever she wanted and was then obliged to follow through when he realized to his horror that her request would lead to her death.
One of the most widespread areas of this underworld was ruled over by Hades, a brother of Zeus, and is known as Hades, a place of torment for the damned. The other well known realm of the dead is Tartarus, prison for the gods and monsters. While Tartarus is not considered to be directly a part of the underworld, it is described as being as far beneath the underworld as the earth is beneath the sky. Tartarus is the place that Zeus cast the Titans along with his father Saturnus after defeating them.
In the most modern mainstream form of the Armazist faith and philosophy, all lifeforms are considered part of one single living planetary being called Gaia (Adonia). In this view, the atmosphere, the seas and the Adonian crust would be results of interventions carried out by Gaia through the coevolving diversity of living organisms. The Gaia principle is a scientific theory that proposes that organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Adonia to form a synergistic self-regulating, complex system that helps to maintain and perpetuate the conditions for life on the planet. The Armazist Church advances that this complex system is the being called Gaia, which they view as divine. However, Gaia or Adonia as a unit does not match the generally accepted biological criteria for life itself: for example, there is no evidence to suggest that "Gaia" has reproduced, even if in mythology, she has. Adonia is understood to describe the deity herself and the concept of humanity's home planet interchangeably in Armazism.
Related to Gaia, the Armazist Church suggests that organisms co-evolve with their environment: that is, they "influence their abiotic environment, and that environment in turn influences the biota by evolution process". Scientists gave evidence of this, showing the evolution from Adonia of the early thermo-acido-philic and methanogenic bacteria towards the oxygen-enriched atmosphere today that supports more complex life. The modern scientifically accepted form of the Armazist theology has been called "influential Gaia". It states the biota influence certain aspects of the abiotic world, e.g. temperature and atmosphere. They state the evolution of life and its environment may affect each other. An example is how the activity of photosynthetic bacteria during Precambrian times have completely modified the Adonian atmosphere to turn it aerobic, and as such supporting evolution of life (in particular eukaryotic life).
Armazism theological scientists usually view the factors that stabilize the characteristics of a period as an undirected emergent property or entelechy of the system; as each individual species pursues its own self-interest, for example, their combined actions may have counterbalancing effects on environmental change. Most scientists sometimes reference examples of events that resulted in dramatic change rather than stable equilibrium, such as the conversion of the Adonia's atmosphere from a reducing environment to an oxygen-rich one, to oppose these views.
Armazist ethics may be guided by Dinaric traditions, by other moral principles, or by central Armazist virtues. Armazist ethical practice is typically understood to be marked by values such as wisdom, justice, fortitude and restraint, the four cardinal virtues. Proper ethical practices regarding sexuality and many other issues have evolved over the centuries, mainly with the influence of Armazia.
Worship in Armazism means devotion, the participation in and the love of a primordial deity, a Titan, or a Mytikian by a devotee. Worshiping is generally practiced through individual private prayers within one's home or in a temple or in nature, sometimes in the presence of an idol or image of a deity. Worshiping is sometimes practiced as a community, such as singing devotional songs, where verses and hymns are read or poems are sung by a group of devotees.
Devotional songs are numerous and are considered one of the main component of worship. Anecdotes and episodes from scriptures, the teachings and descriptions of mythological gods have all been the subject of devotional songs who are normally lyrical, but may be as simple as a numinous sound. Dinaric folk music is heavily influenced by and compromises many Armazist devotional songs.
Every god and goddess has a festival attributed to them, and the celebration of these festivals vary on the region and personal relationship of Armazists with the gods. Generally, the central festivals of Armazism are the Winter festival (end of November to end of December), Selenia (held every month) and Dionysia (August).
Celebrations begin on 24 November for Promethesia, in honor of the god Prometheus, and last for a month, until Helisia on December 25, celebrating Helios on the winter solstice. The festival includes night-time feasting, drinking, and merriment. It is the most widely celebrated festival in Armazism. Fire is the most typical element associated with the Promethesia celebration. In many countries bonfires are lit on the evening of 24 November for people to jump over. In modern times, this practice is also generally combined with fireworks. Although the Winter festival occurs during the darkest time of the year in the Southern hemisphere, it remains a festival of lights.
Dionysia is a large summer festival held in honor of the god Dionysus, at the beginning of the wine harvest season in August. The central events of the festival are the theatrical performances of dramatic tragedies and comedies. The central event is the pompe (πομπή), the procession, in which phalloi (φαλλοί) are carried by phallophoroi (φαλλοφόροι). Also participating in the pompe are kanephoroi (κανηφόροι – young girls carrying baskets), obeliaphoroi (ὀβελιαφόροι – who carry long loaves of bread), skaphephoroi (σκαφηφόροι – who carry other offerings), hydriaphoroi (ὑδριαφόροι – who carry jars of water), and askophoroi (ἀσκοφόροι – who carry jars of wine).
After the pompe procession is completed, there are contests of dancing and singing, and choruses (led by a choregos) perform dithyrambs. After these competitions, the bulls are sacrificed, and a feast is held for the masses. A second procession, the kōmos (κῶμος), occurs afterwards, which is a drunken revelry through the streets.
The next day, the playwrights announce the titles of the plays to be performed, and judges are selected by lot: the "proagōn" (προαγών, "pre-contest"). The proagōn is also used to give praise to notable citizens, or often foreigners, who had served in the community in some beneficial way during the year. The proagōn can be used for other announcements as well, such as the death of playwrights. Five days of the festival are set aside for performances.
It is held each year, in honor of Dionysus, from the 11th to the 13th of the month of Anthesterios (February), celebrating the arrival of Spring, particularly the maturing of the wine stored at the previous vintage, who were now ceremoniously opened. The festival gave the name to the month when it is held in the Armazist calendar.
Dietary laws: pativi
The Armazist dietary laws are known as pativi (პატივი, in Varkan literally means "honored"). Food prepared in accordance with them is termed pativi, and food that is not pativi is also known as usindiso (უსინდისო, "dishonored"). Many of the laws apply to animal-based foods. The dietary laws originated from Varkan traditions and syncretized with Armazist practices during the late Antiquity and are notably not followed by the Homeric Church. The main law that forms part of pativi is the commandment to slaughter animals according to a process known as pativistshemit (პატივისცემით).
Ceremonies and rites of passage
Armazist ceremonies and rituals are mainly performed at altars. These are typically devoted to one or a few gods, and support a statue of the particular deity. Votive deposits are left at the altar, such as food, drinks, as well as precious objects. Libations, often of wine, are offered to the gods as well, not only at shrines, but also in everyday life, such as during a symposium.
Major life stage milestones are celebrated as rites of passage in Armazism. They are not mandatory, and vary in details by gender, community and regionally. In Aetolia especially, amphidromia, a ceremonial feast celebrated on the fifth or seventh day after the birth of a child, is heavily practiced. It is similar to a baptism in its importance to some Armazists.
A temenos (Aetolian: τέμενος, témenos; plural: τεμένη, temene; Varkan: ტაძარი, tadzari) is a place of worship for followers of Armazism. In traditional Armazist architecture, temene are often arranged in the shape of rectangles, originating from Ancient Aetolia. During the Middle Age, towers or domes were often added with the intention of directing the eye of the viewer towards the gods worshiped. Modern temenos buildings have a variety of architectural styles and layouts; many buildings that were designed for other purposes have now been converted for temple use; and, similarly, many original temple buildings have been put to other uses.
- Temenos of Gaia in Armazia
- Didymatheous in Abasha, Varkana
- Pantheion in Theodosia, Aetolia
- Temenos of Demeter in Sioni, Varkana
- Temenos of Dionysus in Dyrazz, Kotcija
- Temenos of Gaia in Senaki, Varkana
- Temenos of Hera in Klow, Varkana
- Temenos of Zeus in Palaiochori, Aetolia
Relations with other religions
To its worshipers, Armazism is the only valid religion of Adonia. All other religions are mistaken, where they have the wrong concept of the gods. Other religions' conception of God is the worship of the gods through a a different mythological concept. But as these worshipers are falsely believing in their mythological concept, without respecting the observable deities such as Gaia or Helios, they are considered as heretics and can even be labelled as parasites if their actions are deemed virulent.
To Armazists, all pagan religions are closely related to Armazism and could be considered the same with different mythologies and legends retaining the same core. Therefore, pagans are the only other religious groups that ultra-orthodox Armazists tolerate and, to an extant, support.
According to a poll made by a newspaper in Varkana, using only Armazist respondents, 76% of Varkan Armazists viewed other pagan religions positively, 21% had no opinion and 3% viewed them negatively. When it came to Christianity in general, 86% viewed it negatively, 8% had no opinion and 6% viewed it positively. Asked about their view of the Magdalenan Church in particular, 50% of respondents viewed it positively, 30% had no opinion and 20% viewed it negatively, compared to drastic 97% of negative views of both Catholic Churches. Regarding Islam, 94% of Varkan Armazists saw it negatively, while for Judaism, 50% considered it negatively.
Approximately 12 countries are Armazist-majority, and the Dinarides account for around ??% of all Armazists worldwide. The majority of Armazists live in Empodia and Illypnia. Approximately ??% of the Adonia's Armazists live in Empodia, with over ?? million adherents in former colonies.
The Armazist calendar was the predominant calendar in the Mesogean Sea, and most of Illypnia and Kaftia, until it was refined and gradually replaced internationally by the Petran calendar, promulgated in 1224 by Pope ???, centered on the birth of Jesus Christ. The Armazist calendar has been replaced as the civil calendar by the Petran calendar in almost all countries which formerly used it, although it continued to be the civil calendar of some countries into the 20th century. Aetolia and Varkana switched (for fiscal purposes) on 16 February/1 March 1917. However, most branches of Armazism, including the Armazist Church, still use the Armazist calendar for all purposes. The Armazist calendar is currently (since 14 March 1900 Petran/1 March 8461 Armazist and until 28 February 2100 Petran/15 February 8661 Armazist) 6560 years and 352 days later than the Petran calendar.