The following text is an extract from the book ‘An Introduction to the Nìmpyèràn: History, Culture and Language – 3rd Edition’ published by The Ékreik Vérpom Society – Cultural Studies Department 1121 NC. Please enjoy your free sample – The full book can be purchased from your local Ékreik Vérpom bookstore, located at: Central Süfota Mall – floor 5.
Throughout history, there has been one species that has been highly influential: the Nìmpyèràn, and the best way to understand the Nìmpyèràn is to understand their religion, Nìmpyèyìa. The influence of the kingdom of Jánra̤ (1-375 NC) helped to spread various forms of the religion across the Síataha̤a Ocean, resulting in the wide distribution we see today. Historically, Nìmpyèyìa can be divided into two major schools of thought: Honsla̤yìa (‘Order Doctrine’) and Sànyìa (‘Cycle Doctrine’). Honsla̤yìa was more dominant before the collapse of Jánra̤ in 375 NC, while most modern Nìmpyèràn follow Sànyìa. Because of the historical importance of Honsla̤yìa and the modern-day prevalence of Sànyìa, this article will explore both the similarities and the differences between the two.
The term ‘Nìmpyèyìa’ refers to the traditional belief systems of the Nìmpyèràn, particularly those from Jánra̤ and its descending cultures. The name is from the Nìmpyèshiu language, and literally means ‘shy-race-religion’. Nìm refers to the first Nìmpyèràn, so like the terms Nìmpyèràn, Nìmpyèshiu and Nìmpyèwèn, Nìmpyè- is used to suggest universality.
The Nìmpyèràn believe that their gods, known as the Téràn created the physical world. The first Téràn was Sasú who created the Nanté (see Nanté and the Elements).
They believe that universe (Wó) is divided into two worlds: the physical world called Sha̤nhaa; and a spiritual world called Yìchín (see Astral Projection and Exploring the Spiritual Realm for more details). The Téràn created Sha̤nhaa, while Yìchín is eternal. The Téràn themselves originate from a world called Téra. Practitioners of Honsla̤yìa believe Téra is a layer of Yìchín; while in Sànyìa cosmology, it was the previous world in an eternal cycle of creation and destruction.
Nanté and the Elements
An important part of Nìmpyèyìa belief is the practice of Nanté, this is the sacred ability and art of manipulating the physical world by drawing on power from the spiritual world. As Nanté is the bridge between the physical and spiritual realms, learning to master control over it can give a spiritual meaning to one’s life. To some Nìmpyèràn, a life without Nanté is a life not worth living.
The Nìmpyèràn believe the Téràn gave them the ability to use Nanté as a sacred gift. For this reason, the more orthodox movements often disapproves the modern use of Nanté machines.
In Honsla̤yìa, Nanté is structured according to the elemental hierarchy (Sle̤radi̤sla̤) of five elements.
|Water||Ha||Blue||Hakyapyè||The ‘Sea-Master’ Haashì|
There is also light (yi̤), which represents all elements, and ice (pia) that represents the absence of elements.
Because of the need to justify everything in existence following a hierarchy, Honsla̤yìa priestesses tried to associate as many things as possible with the five elements. However, the priestess Sàna Choja̤ noticed that the concept of a hierarchy didn’t always fit; particularly with the seasons. This lead to the formation of Sànyìa, the alternative movement that rejected the existence of hierarchies and replaced them with cycles.
The Téràn are the gods of Nìmpyèyìa. The first Téràn was Sasú who created the Nanté Elements and the Five sacred mothers, the Témà. Each of five sacred mothers created their corresponding element, sacred animal, and subspecies of Nìmpyèràn.
Sasú created the first woman, Nìm who was an albino, and then Hlusa, the Témà of Fog, created her husband Pesiu, a Sle̤slipyè. The other Témà created a male and a female for each of the other four subspecies.
In ancient Jánra̤, they believed that Queen Ba̤ito̤, an albino who founded the nation, to be the reincarnation of Nìm. Her lack of pigments causes her to radiate white light, allowing her to have much more power over the Nanté than other Nìmpyèràn. Because of this, they gave her a god-like status.
In contrast to the Téràn, there are the Hoti̤anràn (lit. storm-person). These were the feared personifications of storms and the husbands of the Témà,. It was believed that incorrect religious practice would anger the Témà, and they will send the Hotia̤nràn.
There are also minor deities that populate the spirit world called hunràn. These beings have an important role in divination (see Consulting the Hunràn). There are countless hunràn which are too many to list here, but some key ones are mentioned in the table below.
An Important note to make is that there are special honorifics for each group of deities: tésan for Sasú and the Témà; ténà for the Hoti̤anràn; and ete̤ for the hunràn A summary of various deities names:
|Element||Témà (Female)||Hoti̤anràn (Male)||Examples of Hunràn|
|Water||Ma̤usiimíu||Dwa̤byá (tsunami)||Shlinja̤nshaa, Yìiyṳ|
|Earth||Kajíi||Jiitré (earthquake)||A̤ndèsafi̤i, Yi̤ntéishibau|
An important association listed in the elements section is the five sacred animals (Rátéji̤). Each of these animals has some kind of cultural significance:
Jackalopes and unicorns are both important domesticated animals. Jackalopes are raised as pets and for various practical purposes such as wool; while unicorns have an important role in transportation.
Cockatrices, while technically not domesticated, secrete an extremely acidic venom which is useful in various industrial processes including the production of weapons.
Dragons are also technically not domesticated, but their laval form, the carp (lùnyṳ), is able to reproduce before metamorphosis, and so can be bred in captivity. However, getting a carp to undergo metamorphosis in captivity is incredibly difficult. It is believed that only the gods decide when a carp will turn into a dragon and only carp of a righteous owner will metamorphose. These dragons are said to watch over their former owner. Hlusa created the first two dragons: Tsṳ the guardian of Sha̤nhaa and Heta̤apa the guardian of the Sun. All dragons are descendants of Tsṳ and Heta̤apa.
The Haashì (lit. Sea-master) is the most mysterious and controversial of the sacred animals. Only a few have witnessed its ‘true’ appearance, and each account differs vastly from appearing to be a gigantic whale-like creature to having thousands of ink-black tentacles. It is said to live in the Sea of Hashèràngìu (lit. Sea-master’s kingdom) off the west coast of Adranye̤re̤. Over the years, many folktales have emerged among inhabitants of the nearby islands, even in modern times. There is a recent rumour that in 1109 NC, a human diver went exploring in the Hashèràngìu Sea went missing. Later, some locals claimed to of found washed up dead on a beach. They claimed that some of his teeth had fallen out and have been replaced by shark-teeth, his blood had turned into a viscous black fluid, and spiny growths covered his back. Because of the vagueness of such folklore, some have doubted its existence, and its status as a sacred animal is controversial, with some suggesting the carp as an alternative.
Nìmpyèyìa teaches that all life has a life-force known as tsa̤a (which is also the element of Life). This is the continual flow of information that is changing and passing on to other organisms. Tsa̤a has two parts: she̤n the physical body; and hun, the mind.
Sàntsa̤ali̤ is a ritual where part of a dying individual’s hun is transferred to a newborn baby so the hun is able to live another life. This is carried out by a specialist priestess called a Hyoja̤hun. If this process was not preformed, the hun would be released into the spiritual world, where the gales of Kye̤pé will torture it endlessly (see Sàntsa̤ali̤ and Funerals for more).
Obviously, priestesses have tried to associate elements with various aspects of the hun:
|Element||Temperament||Part of the Mind||Concept|
Honsla̤yìa’s ethics are centred around the Honsla̤ (lit. the order of things) that must be kept in order for the universe to be stable. Without Honsla̤, the angered Témà will send their husbands, the Hotia̤nràn. The Honsla̤ comes in five main forms:
- Sle̤radi̤sla̤ – the elemental hierarchy (see Nanté and the Elements)
- Rásandà – the subspecies hierarchy (correlates with elemental hierarchy, see Nanté and the Elements)
- Sandù – matriarchy
- Sampyàa -superiority of the old over the young
- Santsa̤a – (not to be confused with sàntsa̤a) superiority of life over death. This also refers to a hierarchy of living organisms, where species with more Tsa̤a are valued above other organisms:
- Other spiritual beings
- The Nìmpyèràn
- Other humanoid species (added after first contact)
- Sacred animals
- Plants and fungi
- Nanté elements
- Inanimate matter
These hierarchies can be summed up with five virtues (Dwikyí): Sacredness (Tékyí), Nobility (Ràndèkyí) Femininity (Nùkyí), Wisdom (Pyàakyí), and Life (Tsa̤akyí) respectively.
The hierarchies were used to justify a moral framework. Santsa̤a teaches that all life is sacred, but not always equally valuable. Killing is considered wrong, but is necessary if it means protecting more valuable life. The unnecessary killing of even a plant is considered immoral, but eating plants is considered fine as long as it is necessary for survival. The consumption of meat is treated similarly to plants, but only in desperate situations.
Sànyìa rejects the concept of hierarchies, therefore its ethical principles are based on the elemental cycle instead. In the cycle theory, the fog element determines movement to the next phase of the cycle. It is considered immoral if an individual forces movement to the next phase, for example through murder or suicide.
There are countless texts that are considered to be sacred doctrine in Nìmpyèyìa, so this section will only cover the most important ones:
Ha̤ Sàngàrá nèm Nihun li – ‘Poems for Meditation’ by an unknown author, predates 1 NC. A list of traditional poems to be used as mantras during meditation.
Hunràn nèm e Grèyí – ‘The Hunràn Index’ various versions by unknown authors, also predates 1 NC. A list of Hunràn with notes on their appearance; the questions they should be asked; and interpretations of common responses to those questions.
Honsla̤ la Shyì – ‘On the Order of Things’ attributed to Queen Ba̤ito I compiled in 7 NC, but possibly a composite of older texts by various authors. It describes all of creation as being constructed of hierarchies and uses it to justify Jánra̤ and the cast system. It is the most important book in Honsla̤yia’s doctrine, but is considered a corrupt text in Sanyìa.
Yìnchín la Shyì – ‘On the Spirit world’ written by Taa Kyítyà Yìnchínja̤ in 322 NC. A detailed description of the spirit world, including maps and additional observations on the Hunràn. Most modern copies include the Hunràn Index as an appendix.
Sàn nèm la Shyì – ‘The Book of the Cycles’ written by Sàna Choja̤ in 371 NC. The foundational text of Sanyìa which criticises ideas presented in the Honsla̤ la Shyì, and establishes the concept of the elemental cycle.
Sàna san je Dza̤agù – ‘The Epic of Sana’ attributed to Sàna Choja̤ and written in her perspective, but was written after her death in 460 NC. A passage at the beginning claims that the anonymous author is channelling the spirit of Sàna from Yìnchín. It is a narrative describing the life of Sàna Choja̤, the early days of Sanyìa and Sàna’s journey across the Síataha̤a Ocean after her exile.
Translations of all these books are available for purchase in all Ékreik Vérpom bookstores.
The common place of worship is the Sle̤bvu (literally fog-house). These were usually pyramid-shaped buildings with five floors, one strictly designated for each subspecies. They had an external staircase so that visitors wouldn’t have to pass through the floors for the other casts. The lower floors have a simple interior, while the upper floors had more elaborate decorations including statues of various Hunràn and intricate murals depicting the spirit world.
In Sànyìa, a Sle̤bvu isn’t necessarily an elaborate building. The term can refer to any space being used for religious rituals. In the early days of Sànyìa, they often conducted meetings in secret and used any spare space that was available.
After the fall of Jánra̤, rebels tore down many of the traditional Sle̤bvu and only a few remain to this day. The remaining Sle̤bvu are no longer in active use, but are now major tourist attractions. Some of these such as the Royal Sle̤bvu in Ràndèjim have even hired actresses to play the roles of traditional priestesses; although this has been met with major criticism.
There are also several sacred monuments associated with various deities. The most famous of which is the Jackalope statue associated with Riimà in province of Matete̤ outside of the city of Asehyi̤i.
Religious leaders are Yìashì (priestess). To become a Yìashì in Honsla̤yìa, one must be at least 16 years old, female and a Sle̤slipyè.
Yìashì take up residence in a Sle̤bvu. A group of priestesses who live in the same Sle̤bvu is a Sle̤màshi̤, which has the following structure:
|Rank||Element||Number per Sle̤màshi̤||Number of Fin Piercings|
Ranks may act as an honorific that is placed at the end of a Yìashì’s name. Ranks simply determine what floor of a Sle̤bvu a Yìashì works in. The number of piercings on their fins shows their rank: One on each fin (two in total) for the Adi̤shi̤; and five on each fin (ten in total). Yìashì may have more specialised roles such as Hyoja̤hun (see Sàntsa̤ali̤ and Funerals) and Yìchínja̤ (See Astral Projection and Exploring the Spiritual Realm).
The Sle̤mà leads the Sle̤màshi̤, and decides on who is promoted and demoted. The numbers stated above for each rank per Sle̤màshi̤ are only rough guidelines and sometimes varied, especially in rural regions. The only hard rules were there must be more Yìashì in a rank than the rank above, and there is only one Sle̤mà. If a Sle̤mà needs to be replaced, the three lower ranks elect one of the Hagàn to be promoted.
There is one rank above Sle̤ma, the Pyàamà (literally ‘grandmother’) who the Sle̤mà elect among themselves and represents the Yìashì in the Jánra̤ government.
Sànyìa priestesses didn’t follow such a strict hierarchy. They also allow subspecies other than Sle̤slipyè to become Yìashì. In more recent times, they have also permitted men to become Yìashì. The only two universal requirements in modern times are to be over sixteen and a Nìmpyèràn.
The Cast system
In Honsla̤yìa, a Nìmpyèràn’s aura has a duty (Dwiki̤n) associated with it.
- Sle̤slipyè: Priestesses, Nobles, Judges, Politicians
- Hakyapyè: Sailors, Merchants, Bankers, Explorers, Innkeepers
- Tsa̤atipyè: Doctors, Medicine, Science, Farm-owners
- Gi̤hopyè: Warriors, Generals
- Adi̤pyè: Labour, Blacksmiths, Stonemasons, Woodcarvers, Farmhands, Servants
By following this system, Nìmpyèràn can be awarded by moving up the hierarchy after their Sàntsa̤a. Likewise, a bad life will be punished by moving them down the hierarchy.
Sànyìa rejects this cast system and was abandoned after the collapse of Jánra̤. However, in early groups of Sànyìa (and the more conservative groups) the Sle̤slipyè where still considered the ruling class. This is due to the idea that fog (the element associated with the Sle̤slipyè) controls the elemental cycle. However, most modern practitioners of Sànyìa consider this teaching to be an outdated form of diplomacy necessary for converting the upper classes.
Sàntsa̤ali̤ and Funerals
If the death of a Nìmpyèràn is fore-coming, their Hyoja̤hun (or in an emergency, any other Hyoja̤hun who available) will be called for. The Hyoja̤hun will check their records for the appropriate recipient for the patient, and will contact any parents who are available. Recipients have to be less than one-year-old to be compatible for the transfer. The parents will bring the chosen child to the patient, and the Hyoja̤hun will preform the Sàntsa̤ali̤ ritual. The transfer of the Hun is not complete until the patient has died. This must happen as soon after the ritual as possible, so the link doesn’t decay. If the patient’s death is taking longer than expected, euthanasia may be necessary.
The Hyoja̤hun recites the following Sàngàrá poem during the ritual:
Sàngàrá je Ki Sàntsa̤ali̤ – ‘The Sàntsa̤ali̤ Sàngàrá’:
Em pyàashe̤n am li Shija̤m bì hun Hlé kli̤she̤n mi
The old body is dying
The mind must drip
The new body drinks you
After the ritual, the body still needs to be disposed. In Honsla̤yìa there are no strict procedures for this, but in Sànyìa the body must always be cremated to continue the cycle (life into fire).
In Honsla̤yia, the most significant festival is the birthday of Queen Ba̤ito̤, called the Tétyàjṳtyìm and is on the 52nd day of winter. Another important date is the 162nd day of Summer, which Kigìujṳtyìm, the anniversary of the foundation of Jánra̤. These festivals were important in Jánra̤, however to most modern Nìmpyèràn are just key dates in the calendar.
An ancient festival that is still celebrated is Teitléi, the creation festival, which marks a new year in the calendar. Traditionally in Honsla̤yìa, this is the first six days of spring where each day represents one element (including light). In Sànyìa this festival is eight days long instead, with each day representing a part of the elemental cycle.
As previously mentioned, learning to control and experience Nanté is an important part of Nìmpyèyìa, and meditation is a key part of this. Nanté meditation is about learning to sense and experience the Nanté. Fog is considered the most potent element in both Honsla̤yía and Sànyìa, so the best way to connect with the Nanté is through deep breathing.
Breathing is often combined with mantras to help focus the mind. These are usually in the form of poems called Sàngàrá. At the beginning of meditation the mantra is recited out loud, and is then repeated in the mind while breathing in rhythm. A Sàngàrá consists of three lines: the first line prompts a deep inhalation, the second prompts the holding of a breath, and the third line prompts the start of exhalation. The exhalation should be as slow as possible and bleed into the pause between verses.
Sle̤ e Nihun dza – ‘A Reflection on Breath’:
Lo̤ sle̤ hiingà Hlài wa̤grà Sra̤m li wṳ yè
Fog flows in
I breathe music
Adi̤ranyi̤ e Nihun dza – ‘A Reflection on Sunset’:
Yi̤ san e adi̤ram
ti̤an e biram
gám adi̤ mi
Kṳn chìm mi hyìa Sle̤ je wuhyìa Kirem gen gìam
The sun is extinguishing
The sky is darkening
The fire warms you
Please look closely
The fog passes
A shape becomes clear
Astral Projection and Exploration of the Spiritual Realm
Astral Projection is another important part of Nìmpyèyìa. A priestess who specialises in astral projection and the spirit world is called a Yìchínja̤.
A Yìnchínja̤ would spend their days meditating and studying maps and other documents related to the spirit world. At night, they will attempt to astral project and will explore Yìnchín hoping to discover new spiritual insights.
The spirit world in Honsla̤yìa has seven layers:
The physical world is a sphere that rotates on the boundary between Kwutyìm and Pianía. It’s daytime when the surface is rotated towards Kwutyìm, and night time when facing Pianía. It is much easier for a layperson to enter Pianìa, especially at night. In fact, it is believed that this is where most people go when they dream. A trained yìnchínja̤ can enter during the day, so they can attempt to enter directly into Kwutyìm, giving them a shortcut to the higher realms.
However, in Sànyìa the structure of Yìnchín is slightly different because of the focus on cycles rather than hierarchies. There are four basic layers that are shared with the Honsla̤yìa model described above: Yi̤, Sheti̤an, Kwutyìm and Pianía. The major difference is that Kwutyìm is split into four sections, each representing the elements Life, Fire, Earth and Water. Between these sections are the Fog borders. Each section is named after their associated season. This model is meant to explain the seasonal cycle as well.
These variations may seem confusing, but the ancient nìmpyèràn were just as confused about this. To quote the Yìnchínja̤ Taa Kyítyà (the mentor of Sàna Choja̤):
“Mapping the spirit world is like writing a character for an idea; there is no physical form to draw, instead a scribe must resort to metaphors and other abstractions”Taa Kyítyà Yìnchínja̤ – Yìnchín la Shyì ‘On the Spirit World’
Consulting the Hunrán
One practical application of astral projection is divination. This is mainly done by consulting the hunràn who populate the lower realms. Anyone who has a question for the spirits writes it on a piece of scrap paper (the exact writing material is not important as long as it’s flammable) and then deposits the slip into a basket which can be found on every floor of a sle̤bvu.
The sle̤bvu’s yìnchínja̤ will sort through each question and assign a hunran by consulting the Hunràn nèm e Grèyí – ‘The Hunràn Index’. The priestess will memorise the question and write name of the hunràn on the reverse of the slip. Each night she will burn the slips before astral projection, and the smoke of that fire would then manifest in the spirit world. This will help guide the priestess towards the hunràn. The hunràn will inhale the smoke to receive the question and will then give an often cryptic response. The Hunràn Index covers common responses to these questions. The yìnchínja̤ must not speak to the hunràn during the response, as it will either run away or react violently; so the priestess cannot ask for clarifications and must make her own interpretation. If the priestess asks multiple questions to the same hunràn, then it will blend the answers together, making them hard to interpret. So priestesses try to restrict questions to one per hunràn per night. As the slips are separated according to cast, the higher casts are prioritised and questions from Adi̤pyè are rarely answered. Lower-class visitors often tied coins to the slips as a bribe, this was initially frowned upon, but priestesses often depended on this money for income.
Traditional nìmpyèràn medicine takes a lot of influence from Nìmpyèyìa and is a good example of Nanté used for a practical purpose. This will only be a brief overview.
Green light can be used to stimulate the life element, which is essential to all healing. For this reason doctors are traditionally Tsa̤atipyè as they have a green aura. If green-light healing proves ineffective, then some more specific medical treatments can be used for assistance:
|Fog||Meditation||Wearing a facemask|
|Water||Hydration||Abstaining from water|
|Life||Consumption of herbs||Fasting|
Different combinations of elements represent the key components of the body. A doctor must use the appropriate combination of treatments according to which part of the body is infected:
|Sensory Organs (fog)||Ears||Tongue||Nose||Skin||Eyes|
|Body Fluids (water)||Mucus||Urine||Blood||Bile||Sweat|
|Productive Organs (life)||Lungs||Kidneys||Brain||Liver||Fat|
|Active Organs (fire)||Larynx||Bladder||Heart||Stomach||Muscle|
Also, a doctor must take different symptoms into account:
|Fog||Coughs||Shortness of breath|
|Water||Excretion of Water||Dehydration|
If the element-specific treatments fail to work, then the doctor may consult the hunràn relative to the infected part of the body for further instructions. This is done by writing the name of the hunràn on a slip of paper and then rubbing it on the relative body part. The doctor will give the slip to the priestess directly, as they have priority over regular slips.
The major controversy, that has been referenced though-out this chapter, is the divide between Honsla̤yìa and Sanyìa. The rise of Sanyìa in the late 4th Century NC lead to the Great Revolt, in which provinces that were pro-Sanyìa rebelled against the central pro-Honsla̤yìa government. This during this event, the Royal Guard manged to arrest Sàna Choja̤; and then Queen Ba̤ito̤ ordered for her to be fed to the Haashì for heresy.
In modern times, Sanyìa is the dominant branch of Nìmpyèyìa. There are some reformation movements that claim to be the new form of Honsla̤yìa. However, little is know about these movements since they are generally considered taboo and operate in secret.
Another controversy in modern times is the use of Nanté-based technology and the surrounding research. Some believe that only Nìmpyèràn should use the Nanté, and as technology allows other species, including humans, to use the Nanté. The common counterargument to this is that Nanté-based technology allows other species to experience spirituality like the Nìmpyèràn and thus uniting the world together. This argument can also be extended to Nìmpyèràn with disabilities, such as broken-line syndrome, who cannot use the Nanté as well as others.
Nìmpyèyìa is a complex, multifaceted religion with many variations and controversies. This chapter focused on similarities and differences between the two major forms of the religion: the historically significant branch Honsla̤yìa; and the most common branch in the modern day, Sànyìa. It also covered various beliefs about the elements, deities, the spirit world and ethics; and the various religious rituals surrounding them. This chapter was only meant to serve as an introduction to Nìmpyèyìa, and omits many details including the more obscure branches of the religion.
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