The majority of the people of Cartyas (93%) follow the Nagaskian Faith, which originates in neighbouring Schellingen. Society is organised after this religion, which includes the Nagaskian calendar. Although there is religious freedom in Cartyas, religious minorities aren't usually taken into account, so e.g. Christmas is not an official holiday, and 24 to 26 December are normal working days. Although Nagaskian New Year takes place on 20 or 21 December, the Gregorian New Year is observed by many by lighting fireworks at midnight (a tradition that is not common at Nagaskian New Year).
History of Nagaskism in Cartyas
The act that became known as the First Conversion however didn't have the effect that Nagaskism originally propagated. The Six Command-ments issued by Evarnes in 314 (see below) were strictly applied but only in religious context; although Cartians respected each other's faith or lack of it, they didn't respect alternative non-religious opinions which caused a lot of mayhem, bloodshed, and civil wars. Killing or harming someone for having a different religion was not done; not paying one's taxes was however quite hazardous and could result in one's demise.
The corporeal remains of the dead, enemy or not, were treated with respect, as the deceased was then liberated of his worldly burdens, and it was everybody's duty to recommend the departed to the Gods in order to have him or her accepted into Arvenner (heaven) - although people believed that their enemies were sent to hell, in the end only the Gods were allowed to make that judgment. The belief that the Gye (soul) was split and reincarnated was however often abused by people to start a war, claiming that the opposite party was guilty of great injustice against the previous owner of the Gye fragment that now resided in them.
The Second Conversion took place from the first half of the 17th century onwards. A group of people that later became known as the Order of Aliste (named after the God of the Light) dedicated their lives studying the old texts and undertook many pilgrimages to the east (present-day Skjyllina/Schellingen). Their conclusions that Evarnes's Commandments were applicable to the entire society and not only to religious questions, and that murder and wars should therefore be avoided, slowly gained ground in the Cartians' consciences. The Order of Aliste emphasised that the human soul couldn't remember the previous incarnations of its Gyes, and that whoever claimed the opposite should be treated with caution.
More Orders emerged, which emphasised different phenomena of the Nagaskian Faith, but they respected each other for these differences. The Orders began to influence society albeit in a very slow manner; it is therefore supposed that the Second Conversion is still going on and that not all Cartians have experienced this yet. Not all Cartians are members of an Order and not all members of one Order know its secrets; often because there is too much to know, sometimes because an Order values a little bit of secrecy. Members of the Orders don't have to have had a religious education, whereas Nagaskian priests aren't always attached to an Order.
The influence of Orders is mostly indirect. There are no Orders who tell e.g. politicians what they think is the best for the country. Nagaskism in Cartyas is very modest: church buildings are somewhat discrete, there is no central command, and priests have a guiding rather than a leading role. Cartians do not often share personal religious experiences with others, not even friends or family.
Nagaskism in general
The Nagaskian faith emerged in the fourth century CE. In this time period a wise man lived who was called Evarnes. He was the son of a shepherd who lived in the vicinity of Alfyna (present-day Alphain). Evarnes was a shepherd himself, but his wisdom was uncomparable with those in his surroundings. According to lore, he saw the light at age 23 and received a message from the Three Gods: Aliste (Ilisće in Cartian), God of Light (representing all that is good in the world), Semyr (Sevır or Semr in Cartian), God of Darkness (representing all that is bad in the world), and Ustite (Usćite in Cartian), Goddess of Justice. They bestowed upon Evarnes the Enlightenment, and his noble task would be to share this with the world.
Historical records put Evarnes's first sermon in Alfyna in the year 314 CE. This sermon, known as 'The First Word to the World' attracted a lot of attention. Evarnes proclaimed the Six Commandments:
- Thou shalt pray
to the Three Gods at least thrice a day;
In theory, the Commandments should prevent religious wars and forced conversions. Evarnes later added the following remarks:
- Virtues will be
answered by virtues; misdeed will be answered by evil.
Evarnes soon attracted more followers and his influence increased. This was noticed by Lord Jondran of Alfyna. He offered Evarnes the position of counselor. Evarnes accepted, which allowed his teachings to expand through the lands of Alfyna and beyond. When Jondran died in 336, Evarnes was however dismissed by Jondran's son Pezran who considered him too old to serve as counselor. Evarnes took off and wandered through the world to spread his teachings. When he became too old to travel, he asked a writer to put everything on paper; the result became known as the Bylmora. Evarnes died in the winter of 367.
The Questions of Life
The Meaning of Life
according to Nagasts is to make the world a better place. This has
been formulated in rather general terms. It is also said that the
meaning of life is different for every person and it is one's task
to find this meaning oneself.