Quintessentialism is a religion - or more correctly, a group of religions. As the name suggests, many of the basic doctrines and rituals treat the number 5 as a fundamental trait of the universe. Quintessentialists believe that the universe is governed by Four Powers, which are in turn subordinate to One Power. The exact nature and relationship of these various elements varies greatly between and even within groups.
There are several doctrines that are considered definitive to Quintessentialism. Belief in the Four Powers and the One Power is one such belief. Generally, most of the forces or traits of the world or of individual objects are seen as belonging to the domain of one of the Four Powers, and the One Power is the summation or totality of these.
Quintessentialism (hereafter Q'ism for brevity) - a religion that first arose on the continent of Ayala, but is a minority in every country where it is found. It believes in one omnipotent, impersonal god whose influence is mediated through four more personal gods which are represented or symbolized by any set of 4 related things (seasons, cardinal directions, classical elements, etc.)
Q's believe that human life is one stage in a process by which beings move from primordial unformed intelligences to entities worthy of merging their consciousnesses with the gods. They sort of believe in reincarnation, except everyone follows the same route and is only human once.
? father; fire; Sol; strength, courage
? mother; ground; Marna; nurturing, growth
? son; water; Pless; protection, generosity
Melda daughter; wind; Kaul; self control, meekness, patience
Quintessentialists have a formal evangelizing system, but individual members tend not to make a big deal about it, and there is not a single nation on earth where they are the majority, so they pretty much have to be cool with other peoples' beliefs.
Mikela Danvers: I was raised Q'ist but didn't start seriously practicing until my late teens. I try to follow the rules as much as I can.
For example, it is a Q'ist belief that sexual activity creates a bond between two individuals, and that in order to show you take this seriously, you should only have sex with someone you are truly in love with. Since my career ambitions aren't conducive to serious relationships, I've had long stretches of celibacy.
Q'ism teaches me to look for connections in all things. Coincidences may happen, but just as often the gods are telling us something. I got into the habit of looking at things this way, which served me well in my career as a detective in the National Investigatory Agency.
Katie Prentiss: Pretty much everything I know about Q'ism comes from the fact that I'm dating Mikela's brother Peter, and he's dragged me along to Q'ist services a few times.
It seems so much more complicated than Pathism. There are a lot more rules about what you can and can't do, a lot more doctrines about how the gods really are and that sort of thing. And the services are so much more uptight and quiet than ours. [n.b. Katie doesn't realize that not all Pathist churches are as exuberant as her own.]
1) Have you ever considered converting to another religion?
2) Which of the four lesser gods do you most identify with and why?
3) Your brother is dating an outsider. Disgusting. What are your thoughts on that?
1) What is your least favorite Q'ist rule?
2) What is your favorite Q'ist rule?
3) What's it like going to Q'ist services, as an outsider who is dating a Q'ist person?
- Not at all. The most common religion in my part of the world, Pathism, just doesn't hold the same appeal to me. It doesn't give me the same sense of meaning, doesn't provide the same framework for viewing the world that my own faith does. I guess if something ever happened that made me lose my faith in gods entirely, I could join the Institute of Secular Togetherness, which tries to recreate the sense of community that religion has without believing on gods. But those guys are weird.
- Well, now my author realizes he never named them. Oops. But let's go with the one known as Melda. In her role as "daughter" she represents duty and obedience; in her association with wind she is patient and thorough. These are all traits I have, or try to have.
- Psst, I've only ever dated outsiders. But as far as Katie goes, she's what we'd call a "fellow traveler" - someone who will never give up their old gods and join our faith, but who will immerse themselves in our culture to a degree. I'm pretty sure that if she and my brother get married and have kids, the kids will be raised Q'ist. Plus, my brother is a huge nerd and Katie is a doll, I love them together because she's way out of his league but madly in love with him.
- Hard to say, since I'm not the one who has to follow them. But Peter isn't supposed to use a lot of different kinds of drugs, so I've never been able to take acid with him or whatever. Not that I do a lot, but I like experimenting with people I trust.
- Never thought I'd say this, but the "no sex without love" rule has made our relationship better, I think. We had crushes on each other for years before we got together. I'd been with a bunch of guys before but they were all kind of jerks who just wanted sex. Peter and I had this big huge conversation about our relationship, and I know his feelings for me are serious.
- I go about once a month with him, he goes to my church about once a month, and then the other weeks he goes to his and I stay home. At his services everyone is really friendly. I think they want me to convert, but I also think they know I never will because they take the whole thing way too seriously. By now I know how everything goes, and it can get really boring when all they do is give these big long sermons. In my church back home they lit stuff on fire.
1) What is the most sacred thing in Q'ism?
2) What is the most blasphemous thing in Q'ism?
3) Would you ever date a fellow Q'ist?
1) So, Pathism is fine with drugs, then?
2) So, does the "no sex without love" rule mean that you have to be married, or no?
3) So your religion is full of a bunch of dangerous pyromaniacs. I'll make a note of that and submit it to the proper authorities.
- When a person who has devoted themselves to the gods can commune with them, unite his or her soul with them in prayer, there's not much else in this world that is more sacred.
- To understand what the gods have done for each of us, how they sustain us day by day, and then to act like we did it all ourselves. That's pride. And that's why, although I've known some atheists who are decent people, their point of view is so far from mine.
- I'd love to. But the opportunity has never come up. As a gay woman, I have a small enough dating pool as it is. I've met a few other cute girls who were into girls through church, but it takes more than the same religion and orientation to make a successful relationship. All 3 of my ex-girlfriends were raised Pathist.
- Pathists are way less uptight about that sort of thing. I stay away from the really bad drugs, of course, but I'll have a joint after a hard day at work and not have to feel guilty about it.
- Nah, luckily. But you should at least be thinking about it, I guess. Peter and I actually had sex for the first time the same day we decided to get together. Big long talk about our feelings, decided we would be good together, got it on.
- This is the 4th century, not the olden days. The fire altar at my church had sprinklers and fire extinguishers nearby.
1) How often are you supposed to pray?
3) So Q'ism is fine with homosexuality, then?
1) Do your drug habits ever bother Peter?
3) Well, without the danger, there is no need for faith, now is there? Go forward with flamethrowers, my child!
- In the morning, at night, and whenever the need arises. Which in my line of work is pretty often, I've seen some horrible stuff.
- Quite so. Both my religion and the culture of my nation have all sorts of rules and customs and issues regarding sex, but none related to homosexuality in and of itself.
- They are very much not his thing, but we compromise. When I do smoke up I do it out on the balcony and spray air freshener and stuff so he doesn't have to smell it. And I don't even do it that often. Anything stronger than pot I only do every once in a while and with people to look out for me. I've seen what crap like meth and heroin do, to my friends and neighbors and stuff.
- Maybe, but there are laws and stuff.