Aesir

Tribes of Aesir

Aesir.jpgThe Tribes of Aesir are a loose alliance for tribes with loyalties that shift and change as one thane (independent ruler/”chief”) rise and another fall. The fractured nature of the Tribes makes diplomacy between the Galactic Imperium and the Aesir challenging, as each thane must be negotiated with individually. The result is an unsteady peace, punctuated with rogue thanes making raids against merchant shipping and Dodekatheon worlds.

The fractured Aesir will swiftly unite when threatened or when called by a particularly powerful or charismatic warlord (thane of thanes, often claiming a world). The Aesir people values freedom, and abhor centralized government and authority instead favoring a more chaotic tribal organization. Lesser thanes often war with each other over lands and wealth. Those with greater lands and power form pockets of relative political stability amongst an otherwise balkanized peoples.

History of the Tribes of Aesir
AesirRaid.jpgAesir sagas and epics trace the culture back to the waning days of the Second Republic, when the worlds of Hrim, Fenrir, Frisvold, and Hraban were unraveling their allegiances to the overextended Republic. Aesir mythology tells of mighty thanes vying with the Second Republic’s armed forces, while the few surviving historic records tell of a more peaceful and political rebellion.

Independence seems to have been in the blood of the proto-Aesir peoples (sometimes called the “Wersa” cultures in historic records). These four worlds were originally settled by Diasporan pioneers escaping the overly centralized, bureaucratic rule of the core worlds. On these new planets, independent free-zones offered shelter and self-government to various disenfranchised groups: persecuted minorities, religious fringe groups, and experimental colonists united by a love of independence. In general, criminals and mercenary groups found homes on Hrim, while pagans gods of the Norse myths, pre-reflective Judeo-Christian pantheons, free-zone advocates, and Native American pantheons, settled Hraban and Fenrir. Bands of libertarians, rural communists, poet utopians, hardened adventurers, and isolated scientific communities settled Frisvold. Rauhina was settled from Milhamot, where the Ramakrishna dynasty founded a neo-Hindu kingdom that has since lost land to conquering Aesir, and is now confined to the continent of Vijayanagar.

Initially these remotely populated worlds were allowed their independence, and since their populations’ tax base were small, they soon slipped quietly off the radar of policy makers. Over time, pirates began using these ignored worlds as bases for raiding core world space lanes. The jump roads were threatened but the Second Republic was unable to effectively muster police forces in the face of increasing unrest on the core worlds.

Well-known in this period was Gudmund the Great (GD 3880-3941), a pirate leader from Fenrir, supposedly revered by the ancient Viking gods that were his forfathers. He created the first Althing after the ancient Icelandic model and revered the Norse and Old English languages, which shaped the planet’s culture. Gudmund achieved limited success, as the planet’s leader, but a result of his endeavors was a socio-economic situation favorable to piracy and raiding, and Gudmund’s example helped unite the rebellious fringe societies against the Second Republic.

The Republic Senate mobilized to enforce law and order among the fringe worlds, and to make an example out of them. However, when Republic forces came to Fenrir to subdue the revolt in 3997 GD, they were met by an alliance of 12 thanes forged at the Althing. Invading troops met fierce battle with the thanes’ forces, and the thanes’ space fleet appeared from hiding and engaged the Republican ships. Desperate fighting commenced on the ground and in space, but the Republican attack was forced to retreat. Retaliatory raids against Republican worlds followed for months, but these were feints to hide the greater purpose – a massive fleet gathering to fight its way to the heart of the Republic. Capital Secundus was now weak, having committed too many ships to enforce its will on the frontier, and in 4000 GD the capitol world fell to the rogue-world fleet. Victory was short-lived though, as the Ten Royal Houses, allied with the remnant of the Republican forces, liberated Capital Secundus. The Ten then claimed Capital Secundus and the Second Republic ended in flame and slaughter.

Fearing renewed attacks by what would become the noble Prolimetri houses, world after frontier world sealed itself off from the jump web. The closing of the Rauhina, Dusk, Aerie, and Garhira jump gates shut numerous other worlds out from the larger jump web. For a time the proto-Aesir worlds maintained a semblance of peace before their technology base declined. Eventually they began invading neighboring worlds, establishing a raiding culture, and more worlds closed their jump gates to keep the Aesir out. In the 4400s GD, the Aesir peoples began expanding in earnest, pushing deep into proto-Al Fashir Caliphate space to conquer and colonize, something which further enforced raider and warrior society. However, they soon found the conquered proto-Al Fashirri lands more trouble to hold then what it was worth. But defeat on the Caliphate worlds did not dismay the Tribes of Aesir, and raids on lesser worlds and princedoms in their vicinity continued; their prowess, confidence, and coordination increasing with each victory.

In the early 4500s, the Tribes were nearly united, for the first and last time, into a single empire under King Froljir the Ill-Fated (4469-4548 GD). In 4525 GD the jump gates leading to the Galactic Imperium were flung open, and with the sacking of the St. Hombor Monastery on Lemminki, the Aesir made their first impression on the Galactic Imperium. Lemminki endured heavy attacks, while minor raids were suffered by Timor via Aerie, and King Froljir came close to carving a Aesir empire out of the Galactic Imperium. According to Archbishop Pietro of Arago, the barbarian fleet “darkened the stars, spreading wrath and ruin to all worlds”. Simultaneously, Froljir’s daughter, Freya Firestorm (GD 4492-4537), who led a campaign against the Al Fashir Caliphate worlds to keep her father’s back free, died a fiery death in a massive space battle. Also in 4537 GD, Aesir forces reached Capital Secundus to pillage the once capitol of the Second Republic, and the Tribes seemed unstoppable to the disorganized Galactic Imperium. Then in 4540 GD, the scion of House Alecto, Cohren I began uniting the Galactic Imperium under his Falcon banner, and after the first minor victories his efforts gained momentum. In 4547 GD Cohren I, together with Tiamat forces, defeated the thane Ragnor Thorsonn who had invaded Tiamat, robbing King Froljir’s of one of his Chief Lieutenants. The decisive Battle of Firefrost of 4548 GD was fought between King Froljir and Cohren I’s forces in Gwynedd space, and it cost King Froljir his life. The thanes previously loyal to King Froljir seized his worlds, dividing his kingdom into numerous chiefdoms, and never since has a thane attempted a second unification of the Aesir. The Great Althing fell to ruin, and the Aesir again warred with their neighbors and each other, falling back into their squabbles. So great had been their onslaught into the Galactic Imperium and Caliphate space, however, that their enemies had no strength to retaliate.

Apart from scattered raids and border skirmishes with the House Dodekatheon (from 4770 GD onwards), the Tribes’s presence ceased in the Galactic Imperium for almost 450 years. A few major conflicts took place between the Al Fashir Caliphate and the Tribes of Aesir, but effectively ended when the jump road between Hrim and Arontes (a neighbor system of the Caliphate) was closed in 4791 GD. In 4860 GD, Desecrated were first encountered as the shapesifters invaded Frisvold space, but were turned back as the world uncharacteristically united in defense of all. In 4890 GD, the Tribes of Aesir felt the full pressure of the Desecrated menace as the shapeshifters conquered Hellespont and converted the population. Desecrated pushes into Aesir space followed, but the Desecrated advance was halted in 4897 by powerful Aesir sorcery that barred their access to Aesir space from Hellespont. The Desecrated invasion of the Regency border worlds three years later, which started the Desecrated War, was likely a direct result of them loosing access to Aesir space.

The Tribes’s brush with the Desecrated had worked as a unifier and a test of prowess, and again the Aesir culture was whipped into a warrior-frenzy as battle thirsty thanes bent on conquest joined forces and sailed against the Galactic Imperium. The resurgent Tribes of Aesir began harrying the Dodekatheon worlds, but the combined Regency-Dodekatheon forces struck back in 4992 GD and forced the barbarians back across the border.

With Emperor Chryselios I’s power firmly consolidated, the Aesir have not been able to return to the Galactic Imperium in force. Still, a defensive force has been building for nearly two decades now, and many thanes and freemen have flocked to the banner of mighty shaman-thane Greolf the Grim who is arguing for a second unification against the new threat which is the Galactic Imperium.

Current Relations with the Galactic Imperium
AesirRaider.jpgAesir raiders still make forays into the Galactic Imperium, seizing merchant cargos and assaulting isolated monasteries and villages on Lemminki and Romagnol. Princess Victoria, the current Head of House Dodekatheon, has yet to award these scattered raids any priority, instead differing to Chryselios I’s diplomacy. But dissent is growing within the House and strong voices, including that of Duke Alverax, are calling for rearmament to face the barbarian threat. The Aesir of Rauhina have benefited from trade with the Galactic Imperium and are content with keeping trade relations instead of returning to raiding. This has resulted in the Rauhina thanes growing in power, in turn causing friction with other members of the Great Althing on Hraban and infighting between Aesir worlds is on the rise. Minor thanes routinely rise swiftly into prominence, only to fall to the ambition of others the following seasons.

The Aesir are heathens and do not heed the word of the Prophet, instead venerating pagan gods and ancestral heroes. Though every Aesir tribe hold individual beliefs and religious practices all seem to be colored by Gjarti traditions, with some also mix in a dose of Zuranism. Universal Sectus missions in to barbarian space have managed to established scattered foot-holds of converts, but these are the exceptions rather than the rule. The heretical sect known as the Preceptors is active on Rauhina and holds greater sway than the Ersetu Orthodox teachings, being strongly entrenched with the native House Ramakrishna and held in high regard by Warlord Eldrid the Wise, thane of Rauhina.

Tribes of Independent Peoples
The Aesir tribes represent different cultural identities within the overall tapestry of the Tribes.

Drenjar: The greatest and most populous of all the Aesir tribes, the Drenjar cultural is rooted in the pirates and raiders of the late Second Republic era, who exported their ideals from Hrim to other Aesir worlds. Much of the language and culture identified today as “Aesir” is actually Drenjar. When the thanes rebelled against the centralized authority of the Second Republic, a good half of them heralded from this tribe.

The Drenjar have a deep and abiding need for freedom, but also carry the notion that things are fated by unseen forces in the universe. While the gods may aid you at times, even they are powerless once your doom has been decided. They are a martial people, taking pride in the manufacture of weapons, their personal appearance, and strength.

Lakol: Lakol people descend from Native American revivalist settlers of Fenrir who sought to preserve the ways of their ancestors. To this day they continue to follow a blend of beliefs (Native American, proto-Aesir, Reikaw, Stoucrix and others) that meshes well with Aesir paganism.

The Lakol have long been a friend to the wild places of their worlds and it was the Lakol who facilitated that both the wild life and the Ishkin got representation in the Great Althing. Many of the Lakol turn from hunting to raiding and are known to make fierce and deadly adversaries.

Zetol: Formed out of a melting pot of cultures, the Zetol are second largest tribe. This tribe holds spiritual beliefs that the universe is composed of many great spirits but that each is merely a mask for the one true god. The Zetol practice a bewildering array of local customs and venerate a myriad of personal spirits to whom offerings or appeasements need to be made before undertaking any action.

Of all the Aesir, the Zetol are the most democratic and offer the most rights to slaves. Their laws state that a slave can only be held in bondage for seven years before it must be set free and accepted into the tribe.

Skey: The Skey are a people who fled from the lost world of Upax when it was overrun by dark forces (48th century GD). Typically short of statue and dark of skin, they rarely interbreed with other Aesir. As a people their creation myths suggest that they were removed from First Earth and relocated to their world during posthuman pre-history. They Skey form themselves in to fourteen different clans that are characterized by a spiritual totem animal.

The Skey chiefs are unusual in that they are often among the poorest of their peoples. It is their tradition that the chief is responsible for all his people and must provide for them. They are known to throw great feasts at which they will give away most of their possessions to those in need. In return they receive the loyalty and aid of their subjects.

Maghtaw: The Maghtaw are the descendants of those tech enclaves that endured the Fall. They managed to survive through superior weapons and trading their understanding of technology. Over the centuries their tech knowledge has been shaped by their spiritual callings as they developed from scientists into shamans. In their worldview all objects, including inanimate ones, have spirits, and these must be appeased before a repair can be attempted. Some of these beliefs and taboos offer an element of safety to the technician; others simply seem to be bizarre to those uninitiated in their mysteries.

Not all Maghtaw are tech-shamans, but status within the tribe depends on technical lore. There are few raider captains who would not wish to have a Maghtaw tech-shaman aboard his ship.

Rekgold: The Rekgold are the rulers and merchant princes of the Aesir city states. Despite having the greatest wealth and the most impressive fleets, this tribe is actually considered the lowest in terms of status. It is the Rekgold too who have profited the most from the unsteady peace with the Galactic Imperium, although many Aesir raids are actually sponsored with loans from the merchant princes.

Tovki: Tovki is a lesser-known Aesir clan, but one that is rising in prominence due to their reputation as animal handlers and trainers, and as beastfriends. Some even say the Tovki bred with their beasts to form a kinship and their warriors are renowned as berserkers capable of taking a bestial form in battle.

Coins and Barter among the Aesir
The lack of a universal currency hinders any Aesir drive for unity. In the absence of proper coinage the Aesir use barter or booty in the form of universally-valued treasure such as precious metals or minerals. Therefore, service and loyalty is rarely bought among the Aesir, instead there is a well-established tradition of gift-giving and hospitality. Still, local coinage is often minted for the use within a given community or region, and the merchant princes of Rekgold cities accept only Rekgold minted coins. Some Aesir accept Imperial coinage, and many accept foreign Aesir coins, although the value afforded these varies greatly from region to region, planet to planet, and indeed from merchant to merchant. The value of individual coins aside, goods in the Tribes of Aesir tends to be of similar value (and therefore abstract cost) as corresponding items in the Galactic Imperium, except that technology can cost two or three times it’s falcon value.

Hierarchy
AesirWarparty.jpgAesir territory is defined by tribes, which serve as the main cultural and social identifiers between clans. The tribal nation holds various domains, each ruled by a thane. Most Aesir domains have two thanes, the War Thane and the Law Thane, although the War Thane position has long since come to dominate. Below thanes stand the jarls, chiefs and kinglets who are vassals to the thanes. Subordinated to the jarls are the freemen, any person who owns his own life, ranging from homeless wanderers and common artisans, to wealthy merchants, independent landowners, shamans, and other members of society. At the bottom of Aesir society toil the thralls, un-free men and women who might enjoy some status and respect (especially if they are specialists of some kind, being educated or knowing a particular trade), but many are true workforce slaves.

At the very top of society are the Warlords, often ruling over entire planets or other vast domains, and who are often, especially in peacetime, confusingly referred to as thanes (as with the Thane of Rauhina for instance). The title of King has been awarded only once to a Aesir ruler, Froljir the Ill-Fated, and although his rule is often admired, the freedom-loving Aesir usually despise the concept of a single master for all. The title of “Great Thane”, a king in all but name, is sometimes claimed by would-be unifiers and leaders of other thanes, carrying much the same privilege as kings but lacking its cultural stigma.

Contrary to what one might believe, warriors do not hold a special privilege in Aesir culture. However, since successful raiders tend to acquire wealth, martial prowess and power tend to go hand in hand. The same goes for shamans, priests, and beastfriends, who are certainly respected for their weird powers and insight but hold special powers in society, instead the successful occultists tend to accumulate gifts and favors which translate into political influence and prestige.

Erdgheist – Aesir Religion
Several belief systems merged to create Erdgheist, the religion predominating Aesir worlds. Many of the original Diasporan settlers of Aesir worlds were pagan revivalists and religious dissidents practicing a broad variety of pre-reflective fates. But the principle source from which Erdgheist sprang was Gjarti, itself a pagan revivalist religion founded by Edgar Vollmak in the 27th century GD. Many of the early settler communities on Fenrir and Hraban were farming utopias that practiced Gjarti. Erdgheist has no known historic starting point and it seems to have grown and absorbed religious concepts in its environment more or less at random. Still, Erdgheist was an established belief and practice by the time of the Aesir invasion of the Galactic Imperium in the 46th century GD, and the thrust of its development probably took place in the early decades or centuries of the New Dark Age.

Due to the vast variety of spiritual concepts and groups of worshipers found on each Aesir world, and the numerous guises the deities wear in different societies and locations, it is only possibly to speak of a Aesir religion in general terms; details differing between regions. Religious specialists come in a variety of forms in Aesir society, among them wise women, temple priests, fakirs, sorcerers, spirit conjurers, but they are most often known as shamans (sometimes shramana) no matter their function, practices, or level of initiation.

Runecasters and Beastfriends
Aesir religion and spiritual traditions are not as formalized as the Universal Faith of the Galactic Imperium or the El-Diin of the Al Fashir Caliphate, making room for a variety of different, often conflicting beliefs and practices in the Tribes. Although nominally part of the Erdgheist faith, Beastfriends and Runecasters work with self-contained systems that do not directly rely on the common Aesir myths, ceremonies, and pantheon of deities. Still, rather than seeing Runecasting and Beastfriendship as separate spiritual systems, most Aesir regard them as alternative paths of the greater Erdgheist faith.

Beastfriend Path: Beastfriends are solitary holy men and women who often live in the wilderness, and they are found primarily in the Tovki Nation. Some are associated with specific rural communities, acting as protectors and advisors to the villagers, but many roam the wild places and shun the company of people. Beastfriends, as the name implies, associate with animals, learning mystical powers and sacred truth from their animal companions and the voices of the wilderness to which the civilized are deaf. An initiate Beastfriend chooses a totem animal and starts to study it and experience the world from that animal’s perspective. As he starts to familiarize himself with the type of animal in question, he develops occult powers over these beasts. Adepts gain full mastery over their totemic animals and may influence other beasts as well, and they can sometimes borrow certain characteristics or traits from their totem. Many also train specific animals to be their companions and familiars. Increasingly, the Beastfriend adopts more and more of the totem animal’s traits, growing wilder and wilder, and gradually turning from master of beasts to a man-beast himself, until he is finally able to physically change into the form of his totem animal through what is called a “Warp-spasm”. These werefolk are seen as powerful warriors by other Aesir and are greatly respected, and many regard them as semi-divine.

Vitki Path: Runecasters, or vitkar (sing., vitki) manipulate ancient Primmortal sigils and glyphs (“runes”), calling upon the awesome creative, changing, and destructive powers of Primmortal science to produce occult effects. There seem to be no limit to the effects available through runecasting, although fathoming and internalizing a single rune requires considerable effort and sacrifice, including self-mutilation, giving up other occult powers, shedding mental faculties and memories, swearing oaths, and much more. There is a saying in the Aesir worlds “Be wary the maimed man, for what he has sacrificed in body he has gained in spirit.” And “casting” a rune and wielding its power is very complicated and hazardous. Still, even the rawest vitki pupils elicit awe and fear wherever they walk in Aesir society. Both luck and ruin accompanies a vitkar, and others either court or shun them for it. The ability to become a vitki is not in everyone’s make-up. Vitkar themselves argue the question of natural talent versus nurtured learning but all they can say for certain is that not all applicants can work runes, regardless of desire and perseverance. Runecasting and runecasters are extremely rare, and no other occult school, whether psychism, theurgy or even antinomy, can be said to be as difficult and as rarely practiced.

View on Foreign Faiths
The Aesir people are usually tolerant and curious about the gods and ceremonies of other peoples, and one religion is rarely understood as contradictory to another. As there is little everyday power to be gained from knowledge of the mysteries and teachings of Aesir sects and temples, disputes over different views on creeds and dogma are very rare. Each nation and region has a slightly different interpretation of what the deities and powers are and what the mysteries and teachings mean, and this is not seen as any reason for conflict. Indeed interpretations and views are fluid in Aesir society and a community who finds that a the newly arrived foreign shaman’s words make as much sense as the established local customs and ideas, might very well adopt some or all of the shaman’s teaching. Still, there is one type of religion the Aesir peoples fear and loath – the revealed truths of Zeth.

Aesir religion has proven resilient to missionaries from both the Universal Sectus and the Caliphate El-Diin, although scattered concepts and pieces of theology have been absorbed in many local communities. This has roots in the Aesir people’s fanatic craving for freedom, which excludes monolithic hierarchical religio-political institutions from finding support on Aesir worlds.

In the 46th century GD, however, a form of Zeth’s teachings arrived with slaves from the Al Fashir Caliphate and the Galactic Imperium. Although they would have been bitter enemies of faith in their homeland, as slaves the Known Worlders and Al Fashirri found common ground in their religions with shared roots in Zeth. This new Zethite faith also merged with several marginalized colonies of existing believers, particularly certain pre-reflective monotheistic faiths, to challenge Aesir religion. Fevered followers, whipped up by the oratory of Brodhund the Firespeaker, a converted Aesir thane, desecrated several holy places and temples on Hrim and Hraban, leading to blows between armed bands of Zethites and Erdgheist followers before the matter was brought before the Althing on Hraban.

Tharbad the Wise, a lawgiver thane famous for his tolerant decisions and clever compromises, agreed to mediate in the dispute if all parties would follow his counsel. All concurred and Tharbad retired to meditate beneath the sacred yew tree Yggdril before returning with the answer. “Slay the thralls of Zeth,” Tharbad said, “for there will be no peace in our lands until this is done.” As the words left his lips the killing began and great slaughter fell upon the Zethites. Only scattered communities of Zethites now remain on Aesir worlds, tolerated and protected by various services and skills the local thanes find valuable. These groups rarely own land, surviving instead as craftsmen, scholars, healers, and investors for neighboring communities. To further aggravate the Aesir opinions of Zethite faith, the difference in Caliphate and Universal Sectus theology often confuse the Aesir about the Prophet’s message and nature, and they believe his followers are crafty liars who produce whatever theological arguments they need to win their way.

Erdgheist Sacraments
Erdgheist is a much less organized religion than the Universal Faith, and the adherents are not as dependent on having divine grace dispensed to them by priests. Still, there are central rituals in the Aesir religion that only ordained “priests” (servants and keepers of holy sites) and shamans may perform for the pious. These are not theurgical or miraculous acts, but rather acts that require certain schooling and insight to perform effectively, and they bestow aid in everyday life as much as to the soul.

Cult Mystery: Sacred mysteries are not as important in Aesir religion as in its root-religion Gjarti, but some temples do practice local mysteries for the initiated. Central to these cults is the special place the members assign themselves in the grander scheme of things (the keepers of certain secrets, the shepherds of some rites, those charged with a special assignment in life or the afterlife, and so on), and the unorthodox interpretations they often hold of key elements of some aspects of the general theology or the myth and teachings of a specific deity.

Dream Interpretation: Dreams are important in the Aesir religion, for through dreams the spirits and deities may sometimes bestow insight, give warnings, or answer prayers. Also, dream interpretation is one of the principle ways of divining one’s destiny, which is required if one is to have any chance of changing it.

Transformation to Adulthood: A rite of passage is usually an elaborate affair in Aesir society as a youth sheds the trappings and follies of childhood and take his or her place among her adult peers. Difficult and frequently dangerous tasks are demanded on the would-be adult, often including physical and/or spiritual journeys climaxing in insight gained through excruciating pain or physical and/or mental exhaustion. When successfully completed, the youth is “transformed” into an adult by being equipped with clothes, decorations, and trappings of his adult profession or career. Childhood clothes, toys and other belongings will often be destroyed or buried, and sometimes the person sheds his or her childhood name for an adult (and permanent) name related to his or her divined fate or other characteristics. Branding, tattooing, ritual haircuts, scarification, body piercing, and other forms of marks are commonly bestowed on the young adult Aesir.

Divine Audience: Aesir frequently worship their deities in the forms of temple statues or images, believing that the deity depicted is mystically present in the statue or temple art. Pictures aren’t simple decorations in Erdgheist temples, but rather iconic representations empowered with the deity’s presence and characteristics. One may therefore be given audience to the deity in the temple by petitioning the local priests (and paying a fee of course), in hope of receiving divine guidance and instruction. In almost every case a ritual specialist of some sort acts as a go-between, channeling messages to the recipient, interpreting auguries on her behalf, explaining the meaning of dreams experiencing while sleeping before the divine image, or simply assuming the role of the deity or its oracle while in a trance. In other instances the divine image or statue may be carried out of the temple and taken on a journey, for instance to visit other neighboring deities or holy sites, or a sick thane or other powerful individual in need of aid, or to be venerated in public displays and processions for the masses. It is also quite common to carry effigies representing a deity or some characteristic of prowess (frequently a phallic idol) into battle. Audiences with a deity is taken very seriously by Aesir, even though “the deity” was just a crude representation of its divine nature and principles, and most regard such a meeting as just as real as an audience with a thane or other dignitary, an opportunity to ask for council and aid in return of giving vows and performing sacrifices.

Observing the Seasonal Festival: Regular season festivals are observed in Aesir communities, although the exact times and practices varies greatly between regions, worlds, and communities. Typically it involves celebrating deities associated with the season in question, recitation and/or re-enactment of relevant myths and tales, ritual sacrifice of proscribed offerings, and an orgiastic feast. The spirits and deities are considered to be present at these festivals, even if their idols are not (although some idols often are). The night following a seasonal feast is considered particularly enchanted, a time when deities may visit mortals in the flesh or mischievous spirits wreak havoc in the settlement if left unsatisfied (i.e. if food offerings were not left for the spirits of the night). The lord and lady of the house will frequently leave their bed vacant in case a deity should visit the home during the night, and young maidens must be locked away less a frivolous god might take advantage of her.

Passing: When a dead Aesir is to be cared for and spirited off to the next life, he is either destroyed in a fire, dumped at sea (or a star or gas giant in space), or buried in a mound – always accompanied with examples of his prosperity in life, items he hopes to retain in the afterlife. The sacrament part of Aesir funerals include the performance of prayers and prayer songs by the officiating holyman (priest, shaman or even runecaster), and the whispering of messages and greetings to the other side into the deceased’s ear by his friends, family, and loved ones. Grave goods and any gifts that mourners wish to send with the dead on his journey to the hereafter, are blessed by the holyman, making the items effective in the afterlife. Interestingly, Aesir religion does not require this “sacrament” to be performed for the dead (although it must be cast for grave goods to follow the deceased), for the dead is thought to reach the hereafter no matter how his passing is. However, standing naked and poor before the deities and one’s ancestors would likely be a bit embarrassing for most Aesir.

The Erdgheist Pantheon
The Erdgheist pantheon of deities originated on Hrim and Hraban, but also gathered elements from neighboring worlds. Akin to Gjarti traditions, Erdgheist recognizes numerous gods and spirits, each one a personification of some spiritual power or concept often mixed with very posthuman traits. In Erdgheist mysticism all deities are seen as mystically linked with the One God, the creator who is beyond dualities and who is both the source and the negation of all things. Each Aesir world has many deities particular to it, and as a whole the Erdgheist religion is a shifting pantheon of divine powers.

This adaptive religion permeates the Aesir culture and some worshippers are quite philosophically sophisticated, although El-Diin and Universal Sectus theologians argue they practice a simplistic paganism akin to demon worship. Erdgheist does recognize demons (Deofol or Nithelm), but teach they are hostile forces bent on destruction that are better avoided. Demons are thought to be subject to the dark thane pair, Earmscapa (“Misery creator”) and Scyldig (“He of Guilt”), who rule over the night and all shadowy places. Only a fool or an evil man would succor such vile powers.

Although the Erdgheist pantheon contains a myriad of deities a few rise above the others in popularity and universality, a few of the most common being: Kurmda – the God of Battle; Egla – Voice of the Void; Gjarti – Universal Mother; Satrar – The Siren of the Void; Ultasht – Goddess of Love; Unter – Chief of the (jump-)Gates; Vinnspara – Goddess of Healing.

Domain of the Aesir
The Tribes of Aesir dominates an area of the jump web beyond the territories of House Dodekatheon, and raiders have traditionally entered Galactic Imperium through the jump roads between Rauhina and Lemminki or Dusk and Romagnol.

Aesir Systems:
Brynvald System
Fenrir System
Frisvold System
Hellespont System – Contested vs. Desecrated, Quarantined by the Imperium
Hotan System
Hraban System
Hrim System
Novgeret System
Rauhina System

Aesir

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