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Somniumism, known in the religion's language as Zoihakh, is a modern polytheistic religion that includes elements of both so-called Left and Right Hand spiritual paths. Somniumism was originally created as part of an on-going internet "micronation" movement that seeks to create it's own international community through the creation of a strong, rich and original cultural identity. Over time, Somniumism has evolved to become a stand-alone religion in it's own right and the failure of the cultural product has lead it to become an independent movement.
All though Somniumists are allowed to practice freely in accordance to their own personal beliefs and ideas, there is an organised aspect to the religion. The Sacred Order of Somniumism was created by the founder of the religion and serves as the central authority on all Somniumist practice. The Sacred Order serves partly as an international alliance for all Somniumists and partly as a training institution for those who wish to become official Priests of the religion.
The history of Somniumism began when a group of individuals seeking to create a micronation with a strong cultural identity. Somniumism's founder, known to Somniumists as Kuamo'Dit, proposed the concept of a micronational religion. A practising polytheistic Pagan with somewhat unorthodox beliefs, Kuamo'Dit saw this as an opportunity to solidify his personal practices and beliefs and preach what he believed to be true in a non-aggressive manner. He carefully planned out the religion that would become Somniumism, documenting his beliefs carefully and creating the framework of the Book of Divine Dreams. The micronational project inevitably collapsed due to various reasons but Kuamo'Dit continued the Somniumist project with the intention of creating a real, valid spiritual path.
On August 1st 2008, Kuamo'Dit officially declared the establishment of the Sacred Order of Somniumism, the central religious school and authority on Somniumism.
Primary Teachings and Beliefs
All though the Sacred Order of Somniumism encourages individual exploration and development of spirituality, Somniumists share a core set of set of spiritual beliefs with the exception of deity. Somniumism is "absolutely polytheistic" and, thus, followers may worship any deities they wish.
Spiritual Existence and the Great Dream
At the heart of the Somniumist metaphysic lies the belief that there are many universes and that each of these universes is the product of the mind of the is, essentially, the source of all spiritual energy and creativity. Somniumists believe that creation is made up of thousands of universes, each one the product of an aspect of the mind. The Gods are spiritual beings of immense power who are able to freely share the dreams of the at a conscious level. This is what gives the Gods the divine power they wield - they are dreaming lucidly and have absolute power and control over their aspect of the dream. All of creation is thus known as the Great Dream. The older Gods have the power to freely move between the dreams of the Divine Dreamer and - from atoms to mountains and from Humans to Ants - is spiritually alive. These spirits are conscious entities and are our true selves, even if we are unable to fully realise this in a physical form. They are known as Kazau (literally meaning spirit). All though all Kazau are equal in the eyes of the universe, Kazau are constantly growing and developing. Just like Humans are born in the Dream, Kazau are constantly being spawned (all though they never die) in the spiritual world. These young Kazau have absolutely no understanding of the Great Dream and are hungry to learn more. They incarnate themselves in one of the universes as a simple thing and live out the natural lifespan of that thing. In the case of inanimate objects, they maintain that existence for as long as necessary.
With every life a Kazau lives, it's understanding of the Great Dream grows and it can assume more complex forms. With time the Kazau begins to learn how it can manipulate certain elements of the Dream into it's favour - it begins to understand it is only part of a dream. Those who develop psychic powers and/or seem to be naturally lucky are becoming one with the dream - their luck and special abilities are the product of their Kazau's ongoing spiritual development. Eventually, the Kazau ascend to become Sap-Kazau - the Gods of the Great Dream.
Somniumists are inherently polytheistic (all though some may chose to be monotheistic), generally believing that all Gods are one and yet individuals at the same time. Gods are reflections of the Divine Dreamer, as are all Kazau, thus meaning that they are all part of one divine source whilst being individuals. Due to the phenomenal numbers of Kazau that must be in existence, the Sacred Order teaches it's followers that the Gods are as varied as Human beings are. Most Somniumists accept that it is entirely possible for Jehovah to exist alongside Apollo or Isis, even if the former's religion denies the existence of the other two.
Somniumism has it's own set of deities outlined below and, unusually, encourages God worship as well as a form of self-deification.
Self-deification (making oneself into a deity) makes up an important aspect of a Somniumist's view on deity. Due to the fact that all Kazau will one day become Gods by manipulating the Great Dream, Somniumists seek to become Gods themselves by manipulating their own dreams. Somniumists are encouraged to learn how to dream lucidly, or at least study their dreams in depth, to further promote the development of their Kazau. Within their own dreams Somniumists become Gods and should embrace the fact that they are Gods, even if their divine power does not yet extend to the Great Dream.
Some Somniumists chose to take self-deification to the next level and create personifications of their divine essence, either through art or construction of stories that feature the personification of their divine self (often inspired by their actions in dreams). All though the Sacred Order acknowledges the benefits of this practice, it does caution followers not to take self-deification to excesses. Kuamo'Dit emphasises that "We are not yet deities of this world, only of the worlds we can control through the power of our dreams".
The Sacred Order officially recognises a resounding 64 deities - 26 major and 38 minor. Currently, there are 32 female deities, 31 male deities and 1 genderless deity. All though most other polytheistic religions limit followers to their existing Gods, Somniumists are permitted to "create" their own unofficial deities that reflect specific elements of the Divine Dreamer that they wish to worship - Somniumists believe this is a valid practice because the Gods are so numerous we could never hope to truly know all of them throughout the universes and, if a God is born of Human imagination (a form of dream), they must exist in some form. Sometimes, the Sacred Order will approve new Gods to the Minor Deities group.
Below is a list of the 26 major deities. For a full list of Gods (including profiles, descriptions and classifications), see Somniumist Deities.
- Hito, Father God and God of Kings
- Bahim, Mother Goddess and Goddess of Queens
- Etimo, Genderless God of Balance
- Kaat, Goddess of Earth
- Eqama, God of Fire
- Biou, Goddess of Water
- Ia, God of Air
- Bakah, Goddess of Wisdom
- Uzu, God of Truth
- Tawo, Goddess of Life
- Piou, God of Death and the Underworld
- Tqi, Goddess of the Moon
- Kat, God of the Sun
- Amusau, Goddess of Honour
- Lakozau, Goddess of Fortune
- Xoitam, God of Healing
- Mas, Goddess of Night
- Pi, God of Day
- Nquko, Goddess of Justice
- Imat, God of Animals
- Limuk, Goddess of Plants
- Tasuk, God of Light
- Pizrok, Goddess of Darkness and Wife of Piou
- Xalo, God of Hope
- Tafo, Goddess of Love
- Uqu, God of Truth and Oaths
- Salam, Messanger of the Gods
- Zawo, God of Heaven
All though Somniumists often have the same morals as expected of most Humans, they do not believe in absolute Good and Evil. Somniumists believe that everyone has the exact same capacity for good and evil and that even the most cruel and uncaring figures in Human history had some Good in them. As such, Somniumists do not condemn anyone as being Evil, all though they still promote a traditionally Good lifestyle.
The Sacred Order welcomes Heterosexuals, Bisexuals, Omnisexuals and Homosexuals and as a result the general Somniumist teaching is that sexual orientation is utterly unimportant. This is exemplified by the fact that Priests in the Sacred Order, as well as individuals, can perform a binding rite (marriage) regardless of the genders of those involved. Somniumists are also encouraged to have a more relaxed attitude to sexual relations. The Sacred Order's official teaching is that individual followers should come to their own personal conclusions about sex and romantic relationships. At the same time however, the Sacred Order does not condemn contraception, disease prevention, promiscuity or similar activities frowned upon by many other religions. Couples who are Bound (married) are allowed to determine the conditions of the binding themselves - couples who wish an open relationship can chose to have non-exclusive sexual relations if they so wish it.
Alike sexuality, Somniumists come to their own conclusions with regards to Polygamy. The official teaching of the Sacred Order is that polygamy, alike promiscuity, is entirely acceptable so long as all parties involved consent to such relations and are fully aware of all other partners. The Sacred Order has a binding ritual for those who wish to have a polygamous binding but, in nations where polygamy is illegal, both Priests and members of the Sacred Order are forbidden to perform the ritual. Unlike polygamous marriages in many other nations, the Somniumist binding ritual for a group marriage cannot have a condition that prohibits another partner from binding with others (e.g., if a man is permitted multiple wives, then a woman must be permitted the same amount of husbands).
All though Somniumists fundamentally believe that the Kazau returns to it's natural state upon leaving it's host body and subsequently reincarnates itself into the Great Dream, Somniumism does not entirely reject the concept of an afterlife. Given the many facets of the Great Dreamer and the vast power of the Gods, Somniumists accept that it is entirely feasible for a God to reward loyal Kazau by allowing them to incarnate in an element of the Great Dream they and they alone control. It is emphasised, however, that Kazau incarnate voluntarily - thus the concepts of eternal damnation or eternal paradise are not feasible to a Somniumist.
Many Somniumists believe that the Kazau prefer to wait for their loved ones to pass on, or at least move on, before incarnating into the next life. For this reason, many Somniumists believe that their ancestors are watching over them and guiding their lives with their enhanced understanding of the Great Dream and some believe that they can communicate with them in Dreams or through meditation.
Somniumism and Science
Somniumism accepts modern scientific practices whole-heartedly and the Sacred Order makes no official declaration on the morality of any particular scientific development (all though Kuamo'Dit has expressed that he is personally abhorred by the concept of genetic engineering and similar ideas). Generally, the Sacred Order looks favourably upon the science and argues that given the universe is a dream, science is merely a way of interpreting the events of the Great Dream - it is neither right nor wrong.
General Rules of Somniumism
All though the Sacred Order emphasises that all Somniumists should answer only to their own consience, it does outline a series of general guidelines that Somniumists should follow to promote the spiritual development of their Kazau:
The Sacred Order maintains the official calendar of all religious festivals. It is extensive - every deity, major or minor, has a day of reverence. The Significant Twelve have entire months dedicated to them and the Sacred Order uses these month names officially (e.g., 19th day of Tasuk's Month). Additionally, there are a number of independent festivals. For the calendar, see the Somniumist Religious Calendar. The months have been included below.
- January - Month of Tasuk
- February - Month of Tafo
- March - Month of Nquko
- April - Month of Lakozau
- May - Month of Imat
- June - Month of Pi
- July - Month of Limuk
- August - Month of Uqu
- September - Month of Xalo
- October - Month of Xoitam
- November - Month of Mas
- December - Month of Pizrok
Somniumists will typically dedicate themselves to the service of certain Gods more than others - followers are encouraged to discover the deities that resonate strongly with them and build a relationship with them. All though we Gods are our equals in the spiritual world, worship is still encouraged in the Great Dream to show the Gods that we are willing to learn and develop ourselves as they have. Priests also dedicate themselves to a certain group of Gods, possibly even one God, all though they are required to be ready to honour any Somniumist God their followers ask them to. All though the Somniumist pantheon is extensive, Somniumists are not restricted to it and are free to follow any and all Gods.
Places of Worship
Somniumists believe that every time a place is used for worship it is infused with the spiritual energies of the gathered Kazaus and Gods. Thus, the Sacred Order encourages individuals to use specific worship sites regularly to ensure they benefit from the infused energy.
On August 28th 2008, the Sacred Order announced the foundation of the Grand Internet Temple - a place on the internet for Somniumists to meet, discuss their faith and to also practice as a group. All though the Sacred Order emphasises that the internet cannot truly serve as a Temple, it operates the Grand Internet Temple largely so that followers may convene with High Priests or the Grand Patriarch.
In addition to the Grand Internet Temple, the Sacred Order is seeking to establish other Internet Temples within micronations.
Valpo, IN - Grand Temple Of The King
Basic Worship Ritual
Individuals are encouraged to develop their own ways of honouring the Gods. Despite this, the Sacred Order maintains the de facto guide to rituals and deity worship to give followers a guideline for the proper worship protocol. All though the exact way in which a deity is honoured varies according to the individual deity, the following is the basic outline of a solo worship ritual:
- Preparation - Somniumists gather the necessary tools and sacrifices, cleanse the worship place and proceed to set up anything that the worship ritual requires.
- Invocation - Once the worship place is established and the participant is ready, the Somniumist invokes the deity/deities they wish to honour with an Invocation Chant. When the chant is complete the Somniumist humbly welcomes the deity into the worship place, often bowing or saluting when doing so.
- Request - If the Somniumist has summoned the deity for a particular reason, they will present their desire to them. As this is a simple worship ritual, the Somniumist typically asks the deity simply for their blessing and assistance in the development of the Kazau. A popular request is to ask for guidance in dreams.
- Worship - The Somniumist performs their deity's worship chant.
- Banishing - Worshipping complete, the Somniumist humbly asks their deity to leave and consider their request if they have made one.
- Ending - The worshipper clears away any materials and, if indoors, respectfully disposes of the sacrifice when the time is appropriate.
In addition to worship, Somniumists may perform other rituals (all though they are not required to be considered a practising Somniumist). The Sacred Order has established rituals for spiritual development, specialised prayer, specialised worship, healing and a variety of other things. Those who incorporate elements of other paths may also chose to perform rituals with Somniumist characteristics - a Somniumist who is also a Wiccan, for example, may create a ritual for certain magickal workings.
In addition to individual rituals, the Sacred Order has rituals for major life events (birth, marriage, death etc.). A few examples are included below. The Sacred Order provides much more comprehensive details of individual rituals.
This ritual is intended to be used during the birthing process, when a woman is in the process of giving birth. It is performed by her partner, family or a Priest. All though most births now occur in hospitals, it is not entirely impractical and could be arranged with the medical authorities. The ritual is not essential to birthing a child but is recommended if allowed.
Due to the complexity of the binding ritual, a guide is not available.
The Binding Ritual is the equivalent to a Christian Marriage - it signifies the binding of two (or more if polygamy is desired and legal) people before the eyes of the Gods. Unlike the other rituals, the specifics of it are entirely up to the individuals being Binded. The core aspects of the ritual constitutes the individuals together in a romantic relationship that usually constitutes an exclusive sexual relationship. Much like in a marriage, the parties typically exchange Binding Vows, designed to express their mutual love and desire for mutual emotional and/or sexual allegiance. The ritual is often confirmed in some way, possibly through a third party acknowledging that the two are now married in the eyes of the Gods. Some couples chose to have sexual intercourse following the ritual to confirm the Binding.
Alike many Pagans, some Somniumists chose to Bind for a short period of time to test the relationship's strength before committing fully to a Binding.
The Unbinding Ritual is a form of divorce. Alike the Binding Ritual, it's performance is largely up to the two parties involved. The core aspect of the ritual constitutes the renouncement of the Binding Vows and a reversal of the Ritual. If two Somniumists underwent a Binding Ritual, they must perform an Unbinding Ritual to reverse the effects of a Binding - in order to prevent one party denying the other an Unbinding, all Binding agreements must allow for an Unbinding if one party wishes it.
Alike the Binding and Unbinding Rituals, the Death Ritual is typically customised to suit the deceased's wishes.
Meditation is commonly practised by Somniumists. Given the way in which the religion revolves around dreams, Somniumists use visual meditation techniques more than others, often exploring the sub-conscious (which, to Somniumists, is synonymous with the conscious mind of the Kazau) in a Druidesque Inner Grove manner. The Sacred Order teaches that meditation can be used to communicate with the Gods in a direct manner if people so wish it - many followers believe that the Gods will speak to absolutely everyone who will listen and that meditation allows us to hear them. In this respect, every single person is a Prophet in some way and able to develop a personal relationship with their God whilst still worshipping them.
Those who join the Sacred Order, either as a member or a Priest, assume a second name known simply as the Somniumist Name. This name is created from the language used by Somniumists to name Gods and places. When an individual joins the Sacred Order, they recieve a short-list of all possible names they can have based off their full name and the individual must then selected the one they like best. If they have a strong dislike for all of them, they make request a new name by submitting a few meanings (e.g., "Flame", "Stone", "One with God" etc.).
The Sacred Order frowns upon the concept of Sainthood and does not grant any special Prophet-like status to it's followers, instead regarding them as equals always. It does however reward Priests who dedicated themselves to the cause of Somniumism through it's grade system (see the article on it's Sacred Order). For those who act as independent Priests or have made great contributions to the Somniumist cause, the Sacred Order also bestows honourary titles (e.g., Honourary High Priest).
High Priests are priests in the Sacred Order who have risen through the ranks, or received honourary recognition, to the point where they have become respected teachers and preachers. They influence official teachings of the Sacred Order greatly and usually bring their own touches in the form of new ritual or rite proposals.
Within the Sacred Order, the Grand Patriarch or Grand Matriarch is the highest figure. The P/Matriarch is elected by the membership from the High Priests who chose to run for office, with every P/Matriarch serving a term of three years and eligible for re-election indefinitely. Additionally, Kuamo'Dit holds the office of Founder of the Sacred Order - this office grants him limited control over the affairs of the Sacred Order to ensure Somniumism is effectively preserved.
Book of Divine Dreams
The Book of Divine Dreams is a comprehensive record of Somniumist information maintained by the Sacred Order. Currently, it takes the form of an online Wiki that also serves as the home of the Sacred Order on the internet. The Book archives information on all (official) Gods, rituals, ceremonies, practices and so forth.