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WuHanXianShi14

A Guide To Hou-Zi Religions

3 posts in this topic

Spoiler

Obviously, these two religions are based fairly loosely off of Daoism and Buddhism, respectively, two of the main doctrines of Ancient China.

Hou-zi Religions

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Throughout their history, the ape folk have practiced not one, but two religions. Both of which have co-existed side by side for so long that in many ways they have blended into one faith, the line between them blurred. Yet, they are separate faiths with separate origins, each tied deeply to the history of the Hou-zi people. They are as follows.

 

Shenjiao - Worship of Hou-Shen the Godking, his sons, and the ancestral spirits

 

Huajiao - Reverence of the Prophet Hualian, adherence of the eightfold path to enlightenment

 

Shenjiao - The Pantheon of the God-King

Spoiler

 

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Depiction of the Hou-zi king of Heaven

 

Shenjiao is the oldest of the two Hou-zi faiths. It centers around worship of Hou-Shen, historically the immortal god-king of the Hou-zi people, and his three sons. It also introduces heavy aspects of ancestral reverence, and with it, rituals involving the spirit world and the many ghosts that roam it.

 

The immortal god-king of the Hou-zi people is the chief deity of Shenjiao. Hou-shen was known to once be a living, albeit undying being of flesh and bone. The first Hou-zi to be given sentience by the Daemon Metzli, mandated by her to lead his people forever. He did so for two thousand years, he sired three sons, all of whom became great leaders, and introduced the Hou-zi to arts, music, writing, conquest and victory. In the Hou-zi’s golden age, he was worshipped as a living god. As were his sons, Hou-Shen, Hou-Xiao, and Hou-Da, seen as the embodiments of wind, water and earth.

 

Hou-shen would mysteriously disappear in the twilight years of the Hou-zi Empire. Most Hou-zi believed that he had shed his mortal from, ascending to the immortal plane to rule over the realm of Heaven. As the Hou-zi Empire collapsed and many Hou-zi watched the world they knew crumble around them, they believed that they too would soon rise to the eternal peach gardens and live in the idyllic afterlife with their king.

 

Shenjiao would evolve to take on a more traditionally religious from following Hou-shen’s dissapearance. Hou-shen would come to be worshipped as an omnipotent deity in the sky, worshipped alongside his sons and the many ancestral spirits in his heavenly realm.

 

The Heavenly Realm

Shenjiao teaches of an immortal plane called the Heavenly realm. It is seen as a perfect realm of comfort, peace and abundance, ruled over by Hou-Shen himself as he ruled over the Hou-zi Empire in the mortal realm. The Heavenly Realm is populated by the ancestral spirits of the Hou-zi who ascended to it following their deaths.

 

Hou-Shen is said to rule the Heavenly Realm from a Jade Palace in the clouds. Below him lies an idyllic grand city of gold, interwoven with incomprehensibly grand gardens and orchards with immortality-granting fruit that are always ripe.

 

It is taught among Hou-zi that the Hou-zi Empire never fell. It simply moved from the mortal realm to the heavenly one. The Hou-zi who remain in the mortal plane are just those who were left behind. Those who show their complete devotion to Hou-Shen through offering and prayer, as well as honour and placate the ancestral spirits from his realm will soon pass into the kingdom of paradise.

 

The Tiered Pantheon

Shenjiao features a three-tiered pantheon of worship.

 

Hou-Shen

Unsurprisingly, Hou-Shen is the chief deity in Shenjiao. He receives the most amount of prayer and most amount of offering. The majority of shrines littered about Hou-zi populated areas feature his likeness. Hou-Shen is said to have abandoned the mortal realm to reform the Hou-zi empire in heaven, but he still keeps a dutiful eye upon his subjects still remaining on earth.

 

He is an all-encompassing deity and any and all prayers can be directed towards him. However, it is considered disrespectful to burden Hou-Shen with inconsequential requests, and as such, only the most important prayers should be directed to the most important god.

 

Hou-Da, Hou-Xiao, Hou-Wang

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The Great Son Hou-Da when he bore a corporeal from.

 

The second tier of Shenjiao are the three sons of Hou-Shen, who were Hou Da, Hou-Xiao and Hou-Wang. They were the patriarchs of each of the three Hou-Zi subraces and also considered the embodiments of the three main elements, wind, water and earth. Each of the three sons were once living beings of flesh, but like Hou-shen, are believed to have shed their mortal forms and ascended to rule over heaven.

 

Hou Da is the patriarch of the Hei-Zhu subrace, and is depicted as a towering raven-black gorilla with flaming crimson eyes. He is considered the embodiment of earth, the element associated with stability, patience and strength. He is the patron god of the Hei-Zhu, and is prayed to and given offering by Hou-zi seeking physical and mental fortitude.

 

Hou-Xiao is the patriarch of the Fei-Zhu subrace and is depicted as a sapphire-furred Hou-zi with two long tails and pure white eyes. He is the embodiment of water, the element associated with dexterity, gentleness and healing. He is considered the patron god of the Fei-Zhu tribe, and is prayed to by Hou-zi seeking boons in wisdom or skills in arts.

 

Hou-Wang is the eldest of three brother-gods. He is the patriarch of the Laobai-Zhu subrace and depicted as the embodiment of air, the element associated with freedom, adaptability and conviction. He is the patron god of the Laobai tribe and is prayed to by Hou-zi seeking bravery or any sort of liberation.

 

The Ancestral Spirits

The ancestral spirits are the immortal souls who are said to live in the kingdom of Heaven in the skies. They are the ethereal spirits of every Hou-zi who has ever lived and died. In the heavenly realm they are said to take on corporeal forms. However, they are also capable of crossing over into the mortal realm, where they appear as ghosts.

 

Hou-zi commonly call upon their ancestors living in the heavenly skies to pass over into the mortal realm to give advice and blessings upon them. Ghosts are held in very high regard by Hou-zi, who will do anything in their power to ensure their safe passing to the afterlife.

 

Ceremonies and Worship

There are a number of ways in which traditional worship of Hou-Shen, the three sons and the innumerable spirits are worshipped.

 

Incense

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Lighting incense sticks is a common way to summon the dead into the mortal realm, and is seen as the best way to honour the ancestral spirits in heaven. Hou-zi will light incense to help in meditation when they commune with their ancestors, with various scents corresponding to various boons sought.

  • Amber - Physical Strength        

  • Cinnamon - Wisdom        

  • Frankincense - Wealth and Prosperity        

  • Ginger - Fertility        

  • Jasmine - Honour        

  • Lotus - Talent        

  • Myrrh - Health        

  • Opium - Dreams and Prophecies        

  • Patchouli - Happiness        

  • Rose - Love    

 

Music

The Erhu, a violin-like string instrument, is considered sacred to the Hou-zi. Monks devoted to Shenjiao will often spend their entire lives learning their way around the instrument. It is believed that playing slow, solemn, sonorous tunes in conjunction with burning incense is a way to summon the ancestral spirits into the world.

 

The Ghost Festival

On the fifteenth day of the seventh month of every year, it is believed that a flood of ghosts enter the mortal realm from the heavenly kingdom. They come seeking mortal food, entertainment and nourishment, missing such things they had in their previous life.

 

It is common practice for Hou-zi to leave offerings of food for the ghosts on the day of the annual ghost festival. Common superstitions also involve avoiding holding marriage during the seventh month, as well as swimming in open water, as malicious ghosts are said to dwell there.

 

Prayer and Offering

The most fundamental way of worship is simple prayer and offering. Prayer can be done simply to show reverence and piety to Hou-shen and his sons, or be done to seek a form of boon and prayer. Offering is given in material forms such as food and luxuries, but also in intangibles like performing music to the gods, poetry, or other such arts.

 

 

 

Hua-Jiao, The Path to Enlightenment

Spoiler

 

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The Eightfold Path

 

Hua-Jiao is a doctrine that rose quickly in popularity among the lower-class Hou-zi of the empire some few centuries into its existence. It centers around the teachings of the prophet Hualian, a Fei-zhu nobleman who lived during the era of the first war with Malin. These teachings include the four truths, a set of actualities that define the nature of existence, and the eightfold path, a list of tenets to follow in order to realize the four truths and thereby achieve enlightenment.

 

Hualian’s teachings would be banned throughout the Empire by the Imperial court, seeing it as undermining the power of Hou-Shen the god king. Hualian was sent in exile to a distant land. His followers in the Empire did not abandon their faith, however, practicing it in secret and merging it with Shenjiao traditions. When Hou-shen vanished and the Empire fell, many Hou-zi came out with their faith once more, and Hua-jiao became public once more. Most common Hou-zi revere Hualian and follow the eightfold path to one degree or another. However, dedicated monks live in isolated mountain monasteries, dedicating their lives to finding enlightenment, usually through practice of channeling their chi.

 

Origins of Hualian

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The great fo Hualian depicted next to his truths

 

Hualian was a Fei-zhu of the house of T’ang. His father Longyen sat as a ruling member of the Council of Chi. Hualian was the youngest of three sons. He grew up in the lap of luxury with no responsibilities to burden him. When Hualian was a young man, his father and brothers were murdered by scheming political opponent Qing-Shifu of the house Qing. Instead of embracing his role as heir to T’ang, Hualian left his home to immerse himself among the beggars, lepers and peasants of the Empire.

   

For ten years, Hualian travelled across the empire. He spent his days in the rural villages, the ghettos and the slums, living amongst the poorest of Hou-zi. In these travels, he saw contrasts. He saw a simplicity and serenity in the lifestyles of these farmers and labourers, yet also poverty, starvation and disease. He struggled to find answers, why do people meet such fates? Envy and power poisoning the rich, and destitution and plague the poor.

   

And so, he left for the mountains at the edge of the world, secluding himself. He meditated under a lone cherryblossom tree for 30 days, and on the 31st, he received enlightenment. He had experienced the world and seen the nature of civilization. He had come far, and finally arrived at the Si Sheng Di (四聖諦), the four truths, and Ba Sheng Dao Fen (八圣道分), the eightfold way. His teachings would become salvation to Hou-zi without hope. It would be known as Hua-Jiao.

 

The Four Truths - 四聖諦

The four truths speak of the nature of life. Upon leaving his affluent household, Hulian came upon an old Hou-zi, a sick Hou-zi, and a dead Hou-zi. These encounters fueled the main question of his meditations for the next ten years. Why do people suffer so? Upon reaching enlightenment, it was revealed to him.

   

Life, by default, is defined by suffering.

   

The root cause of suffering is the soul’s instinct to desire and crave.

   

Suffering is eliminated through the release of all earthly desires, including love, wealth, family, and health.

 

The path to enlightenment is achieved through an eight-step process called the Eightfold Way.

 

The Eightfold Way - 八圣道分

The Eightfold Way, or the Ba Sheng Dao Fen (八圣道分) had also been a revelation upon Hualian’s meditations and extensive fasting. Learning to follow the eightfold way was the true path to shedding attachments to the earthly world, and achieving true enlightenment.

 

Right View (正見 Zheng-Jian)

To accept all actions have consequences, to embrace your karma, and be resolved that death is not the end of it. This is called right view.

 

Right Thought (正思惟 Zheng Si-Wei)

Being resolved on renunciation, on freedom from ill will, on harmlessness: This is called right resolve.

   

Right Speech (正語 Zheng Yu)

Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, and from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

   

Right Action (正業 Zheng Ye)

Abstaining from killing, abstaining from stealing, abstaining from sexual misconduct. This is called right action.

   

Right Livelihood (正命 Zheng Ming)

To avoid  any life that brings shame. To avoid causing suffering to sentient beings by cheating them, or harming or killing them in any way. This is right livelihood.

   

Right Effort (正精進 Zheng Jingjin)

To eliminate evil and unwholesome mental states that have already arisen. To generate wholesome mental states that have not yet arisen. This is right effort.

   

Right Mindfulness (正念 Zheng Nian)

To contemplate the body as body, resolute, aware and mindful. To put aside worldly desire and sadness. To contemplate feelings as feelings. To abstain from craving the four contemplations of body, feelings, mind, and phenomena. This is right mindfulness.

   

Right Concentration (正定 Zheng Ding)

To have control over your own mind with iron discipline. To be able to focus on anything. To detach from sense desires and unwholesome states. This is right concentration.

 

 

 

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I honestly really like this, especially a big fan of Shenjiao, it almost makes me want to play a Hou-Zi just to RP the religion. 

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