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The religion of Vrkhazh
This public article was written by Ahzoh, and last updated on 20 Mar 2017, 06:44.

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The Vrkhazhians believe that the world is influenced and governed by spiritual forces. How these spiritual forces interact is by the essences wsati ("mana") and soma ("life force"). Wsati is possessed by all things: people, animals, trees, rocks, and more while soma is possessed only by living things.
Most living things can use wsati in limited but useful ways. It is by this essence that soma can be manipulated, allowing beings to attain sustenance by killing others (destroying soma), but also being able to give birth to offspring (creating soma). However, things possessing soma are much harder to manipulate than things that lack it. Furthermore, a living being's willpower and strength measures how much soma it possesses.

Spirits are mainly divided into two categories: yudkiśud ("animate spirits") and ṃbukud ("inanimate spirits") and mansud ("otherworld spirits").

The yudkiśud are ones who were once living, retaining consciousness and memory. Often, when a living being dies, they cease to exist as soma ceases to exist in them. Occasionally, however, dying is incomplete and only the physical body dies, leaving only the soma which becomes manifested as this kind of spirit. If the deceased caused great evil in their life, their spirit is transported to the Formless World, where the ṃbukud reside. In rarer cases, when a person dies holding great anger or grief, the spirit is trapped in its physical body where it rises from the grave as a semmizemu or Hollow Man. In this state, the spirit is in a mindless state and will begin to attack anything living nearby.
It is for this reason that family members often carve miniature sculptures of carrion birds to ensure that the death is complete.

Then there are the ṃbukud who are spirits that lack soma but hold very large amounts of wsati. These spirits exist as mindless and impersonal forces, responsible for all natural phenomena like weather, day and night, clouds, and the sky. Vrkhazhians worship these spirits everyday in order to gain blessings and protections in their daily lives. All ṃbukud are thought to originate from and reside in Haqla, the Sun.

Last is the mansud. They are a mysterious kind of ṃbukud that first appeared during the reign of the Takshian Empire and subsequently inflicted mass terror and destruction upon the people. These spirits are both very intelligent and very malevolent. The mansud are particularly feared because of their immense power and insatiable desire to consume and destroy all life. They are capable of spreading famine and disease, and taking control of dead things and creating semmizemud.
For milleniums the Vrkhazhians and their ancestors have struggled to fight and hold back the mansud from destroying the world. However, they often only barely succeed in driving the creatures back to their own world, only to return every century thereafter. This being the case until the last four centuries or so, where the creatures had not appeared at all.

To Vrkhazhians, a bird (called qřošu) is anything with a beak and feathers, whether it flies or not. Some Vrkhazhians believe that birds are the reincarnated bodies of children who died before birth, while others believe that birds are the carriers of the deceased to the Formless World. Others still believe that birds are guardians and protectors, with the power to fend off mansud.
Although the beliefs about the origin of birds differs by region, all Vrkhazhians believe that birds are sacred and must not be killed or eaten. However, eggs are still eaten, as they are viewed as a gift to humans.

In general, birds are divided into two groups: p͛ašsud ("carrion birds") and leśud ("non-carrion birds"). Carrion birds, like the raven and vulture, are especially valued and revered for their important role as the caretakers and watchers of the dead as well as their role in guiding the dying towards Davninu Ḡasḡaẏku ("Eternal Slumber"). They have the ability to destroy soma after the physical body has died in order to prevent any souls from getting trapped in their bodies or from being dragged into the formless world where they'd become mansud.



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