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[Ramble/Rant] Understanding belief, reality and the Tribes.

Mercenary Coalition
#1 - 2017-05-16 16:02:12 UTC
I apologize in advance for what is basically a stream of consciousness, but I think it's time to try and put some of the ideas and notions about "witches and shamans" out there into a bit of perspective, given some recent posts on these boards and conversations in other fora. I can barely go a day without seeing claims, misunderstandings, outright fabrications and ignorance proclaimed as universal truths when it comes to our belief systems, mysticism and more. In order to perhaps dispel some of these things, we are going to have to explore a few things in order. To start with, let's have a look at the Tribes.

The Tribes come together, but they are not One.

Call it what you will. A Republic, the Tribes, the People, or whatever else you wish. Just don't fall for the illusion that we share much more than two things: The name and planet of origin. Minmatar may very well be the most diverse people of New Eden, even more so than the Federation. Every tribe is its own entity and culture, within which you'll find countless clans nurturing and developing their own culture and beliefs. From tribe to tribe, clan to clan, planet to planet, continent to continent, even just from a city to a nearby town, there are often significant differences in culture, beliefs and more. As an example, you can look at the Sebiestor on Matar, populating Mikramurka with its myriad clans. I can point to many distinctly unique and different belief systems, rituals and views even only among us northern clans and don't even get me started on the differences between us and the southerner clans. All of us Sebiestor, all of us making a home on the same continent, yet different enough from one another that without the Sebiestor tribe label unifying us, we would be considered distinctly separate 'nations'.

And that is merely a very small part of the Sebiestor tribe, which is a small part of the Tribes or Republic which encompasses worlds and regions vast enough to render a mortal mind numb if it ever tried to truly grasp the enormity of scale involved. Within "the Minmatar", you will find a wider spread of culture, religion, philosophy and mysticism than any other people in New Eden.

This is further exacerbated by the history of our nation. It is easily the youngest of them all, in this iteration. From the Day of Darkness and the almost successful attempts at eradicating our culture and history and until the new founding of our Nation so very recently, we have lost so much knowledge about who we were, what we believed, our philosophies and indeed mysticism and more. This was both a tragedy on its own, but much like a wildfire it prepared the soil for a rebirth of unprecedented scale. Many focused on rediscovering concrete parts of our lost past, others tried to reconstruct what was lost with the help of what we knew, and yet others created entirely new beliefs and philosophies or borrowed from those across New Eden to combine them with each other or our own. A culture and structure of beliefs so diverse and unique rose from the scorched earth as one of the most beautiful and oddly mixed forests you can imagine, comprised of every traditional fir and fern known to us with completely alien and beautiful growths intertwined with them all.

The end result giving the impression of one enormous and ever-changing entity, except on closer inspection it is more akin to an entire ecosystem where each entity lives, feeds upon one another and dies to make room for something else to grow in its stead, with no truly unifying aspect to it at all other than the overarching label of 'Minmatar'.

This makes any call for action encompassing something as vague as 'Minmatar' or 'Republic' fairly pointless. The Tribes can come together given sufficient reason, I'm sure. Something like that would be one of the most fearsome notions New Eden could ever face, and we can only hope it'll never come to pass for the sake of everyone involved.

Continued below...
Mercenary Coalition
#2 - 2017-05-16 16:02:25 UTC
Examples within even a single relatively small clan.

The irony of me speaking on such a broad subject while rejecting the ability of any one person to speak universally of the Minmatar ways, beliefs, religions, philosophies and so on is not lost on me, but suffice it to say that I recognize and demonstrate this futility while refraining from trying to speak of the ways of others in the Tribes. For specific details, I can only speak as a Volur-trained Gripdjur.

Our clan's structure is very broadly defined by the three circles, each within the other, overlaid by three pillars meeting in the middle to hold them all together. I won't bore you with the social structures, but these three cultural and spiritual pillars are the Elders, the Shamans and the Volur. The secular, the spiritual and the seers, if we oversimplify things to the point where it's technically right but almost entirely wrong in reality.

Within these small subsets of the clan, you'll find even more subsets acting together, both in opposition and support of each other in the name of balance. You'll find fervent believers among the Elders, atheist shamans and volur, ritual occultists and mysticists, those who pay lip service and those who structure everything in their lives around their drug-fueled visions of spirits and ancestors. The mystic herbalist that through their education and experience as molecular scientists expand the minds and lives of their customers through ritual, narcotic herbs and trances, and the engineer that communes with the spirit of the machine to find out which spot of the panel he should be whacking with a wrench to get it running properly again. This is not a joke by the way. I once read a user-written set of instructions for a particular machine which started with over a full page of litany and chanting, application of sacred oil to the brow and tip of the nose etc, and at the end there was "... and then you press the button labeled 'on'."

This is one relatively small clan, among a multitude of northern Mikramurkan clans, which are themselves distinct from the southerners on the continent and so on. Calling for the Gripdjur to come together on a matter of spiritualism, occultism, mysticism, religion or belief would be utter folly. The clan is quite capable of coming together, just like the Tribe is quite capable of getting the clans to come together and spirits help me even the Tribes are capable of coming together if New Eden were to demand such a horrifying thing to occur... but it wouldn't be in a matter of ritual or belief.

Even the two words most universal to our entire people are not actually all that universal. "Never again" holds a special place in the hearts of almost all of us, but even that has fervent opposition from some that believe it should actually happen again. Why is this important though? Why am I rambling on here on the IGS in such a longwinded manner in response to someone calling for 'witches' and so on to hurl curses and hexes, and using the spirits of the land or ancestors as some form of mystic ammunition against a crimson fool? Well...

Continued below...
Mercenary Coalition
#3 - 2017-05-16 16:03:29 UTC
The importance of belief and what is real.

Pretty much everyone in New Eden believes in something that is demonstrably not 'real' or capital T 'truth'. Take this entire cluster, grind it up to its most base elements and you won't find a single molecule of 'beauty' or 'dignity'. Give the most detailed analysis of an infomorph or the most detailed imagery taken of a brain to a million scientists and they won't be able to find 'mercy' or 'loyalty' in it. These things are not real in any truly measurable objective way, and yet they demonstrably are real in the minds of humanity across New Eden.

Are the spirits of the land and elements real? The spirits of the machine? The spirits of our ancestors? Some will say yes, some will say no and a few will say with complete certainty... we don't know. I have through my training and practicing of Volur arts discovered, felt and connected with the spirits of the lands. On the stage, as countless thousands of fervent believers and fans howl and shout before me, I have felt the overwhelming tidal wave of their spirits wash over me, blending and mixing with my own before we once more separate and go on our different paths through New Eden, renewed and strenghtened by each other. I have seen the shackles and chains around another's spirit, as the trance opened my Sight as a Volur. I have danced the shadow dance with the dozens of shades of my potential selves, some faded and barely visible as my past and choices have made those paths impossible, and others as visible and vibrant as a living breathing human being.

Do I believe these things are real? This does in fact not really matter.

We are, in spite of what certain numbskulls here on the IGS and other places try to portray us as - yes, I'm talking of Minmatar here - , one of the most advanced societies in New Eden. We have built a massive multiple region-spanning Nation in mere decades. We can do so much with so very little that some of our engineering feats are genuinely marveled at by outsiders. In short, primitives or savages we are not. As a people, we don't tend towards superstition.

So how does that blend with our enormous, diverse spread of eclectic and fanciful spiritualism and mysticism? Well, it's simple. We examine that just as we do everything else. Rationally.

Believe in the spirits or not, there's no denying the measurable and demonstrable effect of a ritual or a chant or a drug-induced vision or any other such thing you were to examine. Scans of the brain show the physical changes as someone devotes themselves to meditative trances, and performance metrics will show the impact of a battlechanter strengthening the resolve of the warriors about to go into battle. It doesn't matter if you believe that the Voluval is a manifestation of destiny or if it's a scientific reading of your neurology and genetics which then assigns you an archetype. It doesn't matter whether you believe the spirits are at your back, or if you attribute these effects to other psychological or sociological phenomena. What does matter, is identifying and appreciating what is demonstrably and objectively real. The effects.

Dignity doesn't have to be 'real' in order to recognize the importance of preserving it for the old mother in her twilight years. Beauty doesn't have to be 'real' to be appreciated. Religion, belief, spirits and more don't have to be real for us to use them all to rise higher and achieve more than we do now. What we do need to remember, is that the effects must be, and that there is so much difference between groups of people that what does have an effect on someone might not have any effect on another.

Calling for 'Minmatar' to start slinging 'curses and hexes' is calling for so many of them to engage in what they would consider false. This is the crux of it. This is why I detest such grand calls for unity, be it for or against anything, among our people. Every single such call further fractures and pushes us apart. Every claim about 'the Minmatar', 'Republic' or 'Tribes' will be a swing and a miss for an enormous amount of people lumped under that name and these people will likely resent it.

Which parts of our beliefs, philosophies or spirituality are real? All of them. Someone among us believes enough that it has a measurable effect on their lives, no matter which part of the forest you choose to question. Are any of them actually real? No one knows. And this then will have to be the conclusion of this rant, because I'm getting hungry and in dire need of coffee...

So to conclude...

Don't call for the Tribes, Republic or Minmatar to be or do any one thing. I was once one of those people who couldn't see past that name that bound us together to all the countless things that keep us apart. Even our subsets like 'practicing Minmatar mystics' will be diametrically opposed to each other in beliefs and viewpoints across the enormous vastness of our culture and nation. This is not the strength of our Nation. We do not unify from above.

We come together from a stronger place. Each other. The family that bonds together in belief, spirituality and strength. The family that bonds with another family in the same way. These families coming together with the guidance of a chosen Shaman, or a Volur, an Elder or whatever else. These groups coming together in the clan. The clans bound together by countless little bonds and Tribes bound together by the same.

Our unity is one of fierce individualism, clashing against other individuals until the bonds of family form and the cycle continues until you have built the Tribes.

The Tribes will not move because of a call to all. They move when we call to family and our kin, and the call goes upwards from the root. Not shouted down from orbit.

That is when our enemies have true cause to Fear the Tribes.
#4 - 2017-05-16 16:47:10 UTC  |  Edited by: Kolodi Ramal
Thank you.
Well said. Beautifully said. And so important to remember.

The only part that might not be so accurate, as I see, is this part:
"Minmatar may very well be the most diverse people of New Eden, even more so than the Federation."
Before I lived in the Federation and learned more about how it works, I thought Minmatar diversity might rival the Federation's. It doesn't. Minmatar diversity approaches Federation diversity though, due in portion to how many Minmatar live in the Federation.
Mercenary Coalition
#5 - 2017-05-16 16:55:57 UTC
It is a fair criticism, given what I should really put at the end of every post I ever write: "Disclaimer, this poster could in fact be fallible and wrong, in spite of overwhelming indications to the contrary and the sudden and surprising classification of her posterior as an official divine entity on a minor world on the edge of Federation space."

... it's a legal matter after a concert broke open the crust of a volcano, insurance matters and 'acts of god' clauses. Don't ask.
Curatores Veritatis Alliance
#6 - 2017-05-16 17:11:36 UTC
You mean you don't dance around a fire going oo ee oo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang?

Colour me disappointed, those promotional pamphlets from the RSS had me going all these years.

"Face the enemy as a solid wall For faith is your armor And through it, the enemy will find no breach Wrap your arms around the enemy For faith is your fire And with it, burn away his evil"

Goonswarm Federation
#7 - 2017-05-16 17:19:55 UTC
Utari Onzo wrote:
You mean you don't dance around a fire going oo ee oo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang?

Colour me disappointed, those promotional pamphlets from the RSS had me going all these years.

I was going to do this the last time I spent any time with anyone resembling a Volur... but she tazed me, long before I ever got to the bonfire part of the evening.
Mercenary Coalition
#8 - 2017-05-16 17:29:42 UTC
You're surprisingly close to the shadow dance ritual there, Utari. I did the dancing, a shaman did the chanting albeit not quite in those words and the specific herb cocktail in the bonfire combined with the aforementioned chants and dance eventually led to the trance state allowing me to see the shades of my potential selves.

The barely visible ghost of a mother holding a child, made impossible by the infertility induced by... well, that's not relevant here. The solemn volur in traditional robes providing wisdom to her people by figuratively smacking them upside the head and making them realize they can think for themselves to solve their problems, yet somehow taking the credit. The bitter and forgotten one-armed worker on a backwater Imperial planet. The psychotic and gleeful exiled warlord ravaging the nearby settlements. The cold and cruel assassin for the Network. The happily married hydroponics manager that always felt like something was missing. All of them dancing around the bonfire with me.

I won't speak of what the ritual is for, nor how it ended, as that is knowledge for only a certain circle of the Gripdjur, but yes Utari. Some of us do in fact dance around a fire. If you look hard enough, you might even find someone going "oo ee oo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang". I would probably not hold my breath for "doh doh doh doh doh doh doh" though.
Pandemic Legion
#9 - 2017-05-16 18:14:25 UTC
If you were not able to tell, Literia was screwing with Nauplius.

Goddess of the IGS

As strength goes.

Mercenary Coalition
#10 - 2017-05-16 18:24:29 UTC
In this day and age, satire often becomes unrecognizable from what all too real people actually believe. One crimson fool believing he might be cursed is not worth the throng of people who certainly would take it as confirmation of primitive and savage views.

Besides, this little ramble has been rumbling for some time now, long before the call for witches and hexes.
#11 - 2017-05-16 18:42:59 UTC
Again, mark it down in the history books, I agree with Miz. Nauplius has no head for satire. Everything you tell him will be taken at face value.

Are you a devil or an angel

Sent here from heaven or from hell?

Sweet temptress, I'm wrapped in your tangles

Can't find my way out of your spell

Goonswarm Federation
#12 - 2017-05-16 19:15:40 UTC
Mizhara Del'thul wrote:
Besides, this little ramble has been rumbling for some time now, long before the call for witches and hexes.

I know I've got a copy (with credit) saved now for the next time someone decides to get overly-general. Saves me a bunch of typing, and you've got much better examples than my spacer-butt would've thought of.
Electus Matari
#13 - 2017-05-17 05:38:46 UTC  |  Edited by: Elsebeth Rhiannon
I don't find that rambling at all, I find it very clearly and excellently put. (Ok, I admit I skipped the part about snoweater customs because well I would Blink, and I don't know what this 'witches and hexes' context even is.)

This is, incidentally, part of my dislike of the current government. The rhetoric about a return to "a true Minmatar" or a "true Tribal" way as if 1) there was any one such way or 2) they knew what it was, irks me to no end.

Make a new way putting together some customs and traditions you know of and what seem to work in this situation? Fine. That's how traditions work between clans; when you need a new solution you look for ways that feel True to all involved, that you can put together to achieve whatever needs to be done. That's what we attempted with the Republic to begin with (though with variable success, it can be argued; including the Feds as an ally shaping it seems to have been a bit much for many).

Try and push your favorite way as the way? Go ef yourself, you don't get to tell me what my true way is. There have been feuds for less.

A new capsuleer coming to space from some sheltered clan background and imagining his/her clan's ways are universal, or a recently liberated person having taught one way and thinking that is the end of it, that I can take, though I'll roll my eyes a little and might use some harsh language if they persist. But a government doing the same? No thanks.
Electus Matari
#14 - 2017-05-17 09:09:38 UTC
Utari Onzo wrote:
You mean you don't dance around a fire

We do in fact, though where you get the chant you quoted I have no idea. Bonfires and dances are a fairly common element of celebrations and of rituals.

Where I come from you'll find the sort of rowdy stuff that has given inspiration to many an Amarrian folk story during the midyear feast. That is traditionally a time for making new associations and renewing old ones, and the celebration that follows the more solemn business of contract-writing and trade-dealing can get a tad wild.
#15 - 2017-05-17 09:16:43 UTC
Elsebeth Rhiannon wrote:
Utari Onzo wrote:
You mean you don't dance around a fire

... and the celebration that follows the more solemn business of contract-writing and trade-dealing can get a tad wild.

Is there hugging involved?

Queen of Chocolate

#16 - 2017-05-17 09:29:21 UTC
Elsebeth Rhiannon wrote:
Utari Onzo wrote:
You mean you don't dance around a fire

We do in fact, though where you get the chant you quoted I have no idea. Bonfires and dances are a fairly common element of celebrations and of rituals.

Where I come from you'll find the sort of rowdy stuff that has given inspiration to many an Amarrian folk story during the midyear feast. That is traditionally a time for making new associations and renewing old ones, and the celebration that follows the more solemn business of contract-writing and trade-dealing can get a tad wild.

I understand the part about dancing around the fire, but dancing around the fire naked and with dried leaves?

I am very sure the Sebiestor doesn't do this, at least not originally. Come on, have you seen what Mikramurka's like?

A Minmatar warship is like a rusting Beetle with 500 horsepower Cardillac engines in the rear, armour plating bolted to chassis and a M2 Browning stuck on top.

Mercenary Coalition
#17 - 2017-05-17 09:30:58 UTC
Do... do you not know how fire works?
#18 - 2017-05-17 09:34:18 UTC
Mizhara Del'thul wrote:
Do... do you not know how fire works?

I hope the ones who live in stations do. As someone who was lucky to grow up planetside I have danced around many bonfires.


Electus Matari
#19 - 2017-05-17 09:55:59 UTC
Yes, I have seen what Mikramurka is like, I am from there. I can confirm that temperatures do reach above freezing point for months at end during summer and no, we do not tend to dress in dried leaves (insert your own joke about snow eaters here). And yes, hugging (and more) is definitely involved.

This is getting derailed now, sorry Mizhara.
Mercenary Coalition
#20 - 2017-05-17 10:03:16 UTC
It's okay, I can't expect better from southerners now, can I? Needing above freezing temperatures for some quality naked time, tsk tsk.
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