Witness: Religious Life

Witnesspedia
child:
  title: Religion
  slug: Religion
  parent: 15362
  summary: Religion in Witness
  keywords: worldbuilding, partipatory
  image: https://edgeryders.eu/uploads/default/original/2X/b/b1764965659f27bf49fc137fafe36adddcc17c63.jpeg

Religion in Witness {style=“color: #fff; text-shadow: 2px 2px #000; padding-bottom: .4rem; font-weight: bold;” class=“leading-tight text-4xl”}

Religious life on Witness is complex and depends on which definition of religion is adopted. {style="color: #fff; width: 80%; padding-top: 1rem; border-top: 1px solid white; background-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.4); " class=“text-2xl mt-4 mx-auto leading-normal”}


“The control of undertakers over burial shows how radical monopoly functions and how it differs from other forms of culturally defined behavior. A generation ago, in Mexico, only the Opening of the grave and the blessing of the dead body were performed by professionals: the gravedigger and the priest. A death in the family created various demands, all of which could be taken care of within the family. The wake, the funeral, and the dinner served to compose quarrels, to vent grief, and to remind each participant of the fatality of death and the value of life. Most of these were of a ritual nature and carefully prescribed-different from region to region. Recently, funeral homes were established in the major cities. At first undertakers had difficulty finding clients because even in large cities people still knew how to bury their dead. During the sixties the funeral homes obtained control over new cemeteries and began offering package deals, including the casket, church service, and embalming. Now legislation is being passed to make the mortician’s ministrations compulsory. Once he gets hold of the body, the funeral director will have established a radical monopoly over burial, as medicine is at the point of establishing one over dying.”*
- Tools for conviviality, Illich

Religious life on Witness is complex, and, as pointed out by Adromache Kosovitch, depends on which definition of religion is adopted. There are a few systems that could be classified as complex, interlaced memes that impose a causality on the universe and contain within them mechanisms for their own spread and reproduction. There are many more if one considers rituals: so this page is neither a completely taxonomy of beliefs, but merely an attempt at bringing together most common.

Rituals

  • Burial at sea. Every floating city is acquainted with the dead, and with the splash of a body as it sinks beneath the waves. Land, after all, is far too precious to waste on tombs and cemeteries. Witness is no different. By far the most universal gesture is the Log, wherein one person will read out the life and achievements of the person thus committed to the deep, and the State Machine will confirm the entry and record it forever within its public annals.
    In Hygge, this gesture is at its most ritualized - Kiri will usually list a complete record of public projects influenced, the general voting record and place of a person, and the State Machine will acknowledge it: the only time these two supposedly disparate AI visibly interact in public. In Libria, a complex economy exists around such ceremonies for the rich, and content creators often livestream and embellish; Covenant funeral usually are quiet affairs, with a priest communicating the soul unto God.
    Only in the Assembly is it explicitly forbidden to bury someone this way. Assembly funerals either involve committing the body to local composting operation; this ‘return to the community’ is seen as the last great honor that a person can achieve. Avantgrid practices are not completely documented, but range from Covenant-style send-offs to planting a body, laced with gene-engineered seedpods, into the ground, and giving the resultant tree or trees the name of the dead.

  • The little death. “Aethnography advances one death at a time.” Andromache Kosovitch’s warning, a riff off a pre-Sundering note about the nature of scientific consensus, became a viral meme in every school of Aethnography. Many also read it as an examination of the priviledge that was necessary for pre-Sundering scientific progress - be it the backing of institutions or of the financial and social freedom to tenaciously pursue a single idea for decades on end until acceptance or the death of critics.

  • The little death that brings renewal is now a widespread custom among aethnographers: when a scholar reaches middle age, summaries of their body of work and their thoughts are read aloud in Witness-wide readings. This is to ensure that knowledge is constantly absorbed and re-transmitted without the excessive costs of keeping it in production in a pre-Sundering manner. It is often called the little death because aethnographers often retire for a while after this to tend to their other affairs. Note that it is also, in some quarters, an euphemism for orgasm.

  • Part of Neptune’s kingdom. Those most closely working with the sea - fishers, divers, salvagers, and even people who live close to the water - often display an assortment of rituals. These can be complex - worship of an abstract god of the ocean, a sort of hybrid of Neptune and Dewi Danu, or as simple as lifting some water and dropping it back.

  • Dolphin whistling. Doplhins are thought to be a symbol of good luck. Dolphins almost never meet with groups without using signature whistles to communicate, so many people whistle and wave at dolphins: whether this means anything to the oceanic wildlife is entirely up for debate. The same treatment is given to whales. The Vietnamese word Cá Ông, often applied to both species, is used quite often, and whales and dolphins are seen as kings of the sea and patrons of fishers.

  • The right to die. Most Distrikts, bar the Covenant, view suicide as an acceptable part of society: an idea that aethnographers posit stemmed from a sort of pre-Sundering honor code in the face of resource scarcity and mental unwillingness. But leave it to Libria to commercialize the staging of your death: you can even hire assassins to make sure you pass painlessly and in as dramatic a setting as possible.

  • Goro suggestions. In Hygge, the deemed emotional AI called Goro will send periodic suggestions of activities to its citizens. Those can vary from the tame “shake someone’s hand today” to the radical “enclose yourself in a dark space and scream until you feel something inside of you break. Minimum of 9 hours.” Some adept followers of Goro will accept whichever suggestion the AI proposes with religious-like fervor.

  • Many come one : an underground practice evolving rapidly inside Libria and the Assembly. This follows the invention of the total neural interface map, leaked before the Mindware wetlab trials were complete. Via a TNIM, individuals inhabiting different bodies can transfer their mind-maps onto another and back again, along with collected information: exceptionally stable ‘bridges’ can act as hosts, and thus people can opt to meet and travel on a journey in one body sleeve for a period of time. Multiple selves can cohabit a body by optimising use of the bodyware (neural pathways, nutrients, circulatory wiring). This is the mechanism by which the individual and collective flow between becoming, being, unbecoming and nonbeing

    • Unwho : This practice evolved as a distributed civil defence mechanism to navigate times of hardship (e.g when under attack, the stronger one would host within them others who are physically or psychologically weaker).
    • Passing : As one person is nearing the end of their current life cycle, they can merge with a newling in the younger body, shedding behind a part of themselves into the new body for another to find and live into, as they continue to the great beyond/next cycle
    • Interselfing : This when two or more individuals experience multiple simultaneous immersion in each other. This is used as a medical practice for treating certain diseases or imbalances (of mind, body, community or metaphysics). It can also be used in research, criminal investigations o in empathy training (you can live within/as another person to experience first hand what they are experiencing, while still maintaining reflective distance ie being yourself while being others)
    • Emerging : This is a permanent enmeshing of multiple individuals with one another into an emergent, higher order self that is more than the sum of selves.
    • Transcendence : One or more restless souls can hitchhike with a master meditator to reach some other state. Or arrive in a place at the same time, then co-create the new state.
      The long-term effects of Many come one are not known, since it is a relatively new philosophy, but its practitioners are hailed as revolutionaries. There are many arguments back and forth about both the metaphysical implications as well as the physical (including information limits, neural plasticity and such).

Belief systems

  • Nyogi Buddhism. A strain of Buddhism descended from the Theravada tradition. However, instead of emphasizing Nirvana as the goal, Nyogi Buddhism focuses the 550 Jatakaya (the 550 lives of Gautama Buddha) and the Buddha’s iterative try-learn-test-fail approach that took him from the hedonism of his youth to the worship of extreme self-sacrifice (to the point of starving himself and resting with corpses to understand death better) to the more functional ‘Middle Path’ that he ultimately arrived at.
    Much importance is placed on repeated experimentation, A/B testing, and the personal gathering of data and experiences to find ways that work out for the individual (in this, it embraces many of the practices of aethnography). Death itself is seen as an invitation to try again via the mechanism of rebirth. The informal, tongue-in-cheek motto of Nyogi Buddhism is Live, Die, Try, Repeat.
    Despite the informal existence of a Sasanaya, Nyogi Buddhism in general is highly decentralized; monks will generally move between different teachers before striking out on their own. Temples are usually publicly supported or the result of private patronage.

  • Christendom. Most heavily embraced by the The Covenant. Because of the strong role played in The Covenant by religious institutions that act out in the saeculum, most christians in Witness are catholics. Doctrine emphasizes “doing God’s work” and communitarian worship rather than individual communing with God. Monks and nuns are seen as the ideal christians, a mix of competence, selflessness, and discipline. Protestantism is almost absent. Catholic social teaching is embraced by some of the more activist monastic orders, who work relatively closely with saecular cooperative and NGOs across the whole of Witness, notably in the Assembly. Witness catholics are usually highly tolerant, with no major incidents connected to repression of non-catholics in The Covenant. The Auctoritatis maintains a firmly ecumenic stance, in the tradition of the 20th century’s Unitatis redintegratio; any religion brings women and men closer to God than no religion at all, and no call is made for bringing them into the Catholic fold. Witness Catholicism interprets the Bible as the version of the Revelation that its contemporaries could understand, and takes important parts of the Old Testament (like the Book Of Genesis) as metaphors instead of literal truth. Thus, it is fully reconciled with science. Some scientists have been canonized, and biologists-saints like Hildegard of Bingen, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Stuart Kauffman have churches and chapels dedicated to them. A monastic order, the Teilhardite order, honors Saint Teilhard and is headquartered in the Viriditas Distrikt Minor of The Covenant.

  • Radical environmentalism. This doctrine was born chiefly in the wake of the Great Wave in 15 0D, and originates primarily from Avantgrid. Their slogans sound like lines stolen from half-a-dozen haphazard pre-Sundering documentaries - from humanity is the disease to Nature is healing. Underlying it, however, are competing and commingled schools of thought.
    The balancing ideology states that the Earth can support a certain number of each species, including humans, but that technological advances skew the resource requirements of each species until they become unsustainable. This is usually written as an equation positing that the n (number of individuals of a species) multiplied by t (level of technological advancement on the Carylye-Berson scale) = R (total energy ‘support capability’ of the earth) divided by the total number of species on the Earth. Under this logic, many trillions of algae can exist, but only a couple of million humans.
    The return to Eden ideology professes that humanity must be deliberately reduced to a Hobbesian primitive state: that of the beast (“poor, nasty, brutish and short”). The power law variant of this posits that humans have evolved to a point where complex societies can overcome the effects of natural selection, and that for evolution to resume its course, social complexity must be reduced. Both variants are condemned by other Distrikts and the State Machine as eco-fascism.

  • Risk Bushido. Originally introduced as combination of decision theory and economics for making life choices, Risk Bushido is fast approaching cult status in several Distrikts. Its combination of theory - ranging from ergodocity to Knightian uncertainty - combined with the soulful introspection of its hermit-like creator have seen it touch an unexpectedly raw nerve in the lives of many citizens of Witness.

  • Atemporality . Heavily inspired by the old native Amazonian beliefs of the Haux Haux family, this post-shamanic doctrine is mainly defined by its rejection of time as a linear experience. Its practitioners strive to achieve states of anomalous timeness , notably thought the use of N-dimethyltryptamin or DMT and complex series of meditative rituals. Though very few embrace the doctrine for the entirety of their lives, it’s known to captivate many of the most brilliant of Witness’ people for a few years. It is mostly practiced in Avantgrid and Libria, but also found in other Distrikts Minor and Major.
    Part of the mythos around Atemporality is the visions and out of the body experiences that its practitioners claim to experience, such as time flowing backwards, visiting other planes of existence, and inhabiting multidimensional bodies. Chief among those experiences are the tales of the Ghost Amazonia, the so-called spirit of the long gone rainforests, completely destroyed in the Sunderning, but allegedly still available for visiting through ritual. Many shamans of Atemporality claim to have mapped the Ghost Amazonia.

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@nadia, have a look?

hihi little death= orgasm in french

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Oh lord. I was thinking of Herbet’s Dune:

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And Herbert was no stranger to sexual symbolism.

The wild sexuality of combat troops has been remarked by observers throughout recorded history and has usually been passed off as a kind of boys-will-be-boys variation on the male mystique. Not until this century have we begun to question that item of consensus reality (read The Sexual Cycle of Human Warfare by N.I.M. Walter). One of the themes of my own science fiction novel, Dune, is war as a collective orgasm.
- Frank Herbert
(http://www.jacurutu.com/viewtopic.php?t=1214#p38497)

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We definitely have to keep it now!

Many come one: Individuals inhabiting different bodies can opt to meet and travel on a journey in one body sleeve for a period of time. Multiple selves can cohabit a body by optimising use of the bodyware (neural pathways, nutrients, circulatory wiring). This is the mechanism by which the individual and collective flow between becoming, being, unbecoming and nonbeing

  • Unwho: This practice evolved as a distributed civil defence mechanism to navigate times of hardship (e.g when under attack, the stronger one would host within them others who are physically or psychologically weaker).
  • Passing: As one person is nearing the end of their current life cycle, they can merge with a newling in the younger body, shedding behind a part of themselves into the new body for another to find and live into, as they continue to the great beyond/next cycle
  • Interselfing: This when two or more individuals experience multiple simultaneous immersion in each other. This is used as a medical practice for treating certain diseases or imbalances (of mind, body, community or metaphysics). It can also be used in research, criminal investigations o in empathy training (you can live within/as another person to experience first hand what they are experiencing, while still maintaining reflective distance ie being yourself while being others)
  • Emerging: This is a permanent enmeshing of multiple individuals with one another into an emergent, higher order self that is more than the sum of selves.
  • Transcendence: One or more restless souls can hitchhike with a master meditator to reach some other state. Or arrive in a place at the same time, then co-create the new state.

If this is a bit off there’s an article here: https://www.slideshare.net/cookiesncode/el-imam-nadia10034

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Paragraph on catholicism added.

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This sounds like it could be one hell of an underground thing in Libria, linked to Nyogi Buddhism. Unwho in particular sounds like both Libria and the Assembly would have seen some use. Do add it!

Perhaps this is why Christendom is void of Protestants? Over time, perhaps environmentalism merged with Predestination theory? :joy:

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Henry VIII: -coughs discreetly- OFF WITH HIS HEAD :rofl:

mm I thought it could be a distrikt in and off itself? I forgot to add the destruction market (assassins/kill bounties, soulhacking - think Morgan’s Conflict investment model but the conflict is inside the bodysleave or in the transitions mechanisms) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market_Forces

I absolutely love everything here! 10/10!
Oh and I did notice both the ‘little death’ as a Dune and a orgasm reference — it was very interesting to see that this happened accidentally! It felt SO deliberate!

Oh, for some reason I don’t have edit powers here!
I wish I could just add some stuff, but anyway! Here’s some additions:

Rituals

  • Goro suggestions. In Hygge, the deemed emotional AI called Goro will send periodic suggestions of activities to its citizens. Those can vary from the tame “shake someone’s hand today” to the radical “enclose yourself in a dark space and scream until you feel something inside of you break. Minimum of 9 hours.” Some adept followers of Goro will accept whichever suggestion the AI proposes with religious-like fervor.

Belief Systems

  • Atemporality. Heavily inspired by the old native Amazonian beliefs of the Haux Haux family, this post-shamanic doctrine is mainly defined by its rejection of time as a linear experience. Its practitioners strive to achieve states of anomalous timeness, notably thought the use of N-dimethyltryptamin or DMT and complex series of meditative rituals. Though very few embrace the doctrine for the entirety of their lives, it’s known to captivate many of the most brilliant of Witness’ people for a few years. It is mostly practiced in Avantgrid and Libria, but also found in other Distrikts Minor and Major.
    The Ghost Amazonia Part of the mythos around Atemporality is the visions and out of the body experiences that its practitioners claim to experience, such as time flowing backwards, visiting other planes of existence, and inhabiting 2D or 4D bodies. Chief among those experiences, are the tales of the Ghost Amazonia, the so-called spirit of the long gone Amazonian Rainforest, completely destroyed in 2232AD (old Christian calendar), but allegedly still available for visiting through ritual. Many shamans of Atemporality claim to have mapped the old forest.
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Can be - more cyberpunk than cyberpunk. I am wary of Morgan because the bodysleeving idea is used purely in the pursuit of killing stuff, and not really explore imo. For example, if you could interface with a human being that way, you could feasibly construct simulations and leave meatspace behind altogether. Or have human minds controlling robot bodies, which would both break the monopoly of the rich on eternal life AND get around the body-shortage that is rampant in Altered Carbon.

What if you merge this and the Necropolitics Extreme Edition idea, and summon @amelia, and spin off a Distrikt?

I suggest we ought to do away with the notion of eternal life in this world, make it metaphysically impossible or at least a paradox because of the cyclical nature of time? Go, reset, go, reset - always a transformation - you do no come back as yourself, the transcendence to some other state is real…?

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eternal life makes things too simple imho

You could easily do one that says “when you’re dead, you’re dead”.

done and added all to wiki. Have a look?

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Great additions. Interesting parallel to the recurring primordial forest myth of English folklore: from Mythago Wood to Tolkien. Added! Amazonia generalized to make it the dream-territory of all rainforests.

Nice, worked it in. One critique:

  • When you are dead, you are dead. Your life force can be transferred into a new body once the cycle of your life ends, however your “self” ceases to exist once your time is up. There exists no such thing as eternal life.

This is textbook Buddhism.