- 1 Estiana
- 2 Core beliefs
- 3 The Cycle of Life
- 4 Places of importance
- 5 Customs and habits
- 6 Worship
- 7 Questions & Answers
- 8 Priesthood
- 9 Ranks
- 10 Revelation
Described as a woman dressed in green clothes -- a toga, dress or hunting attire. She has long brown hair, tanned skin and green eyes. In her presence there is an overwhelming aura of love and care. She is the caretaker of nature, bringer of life and death, the one and only Goddess.
- All natural beings deserve the same love and respect for they are all purposeful parts in a complicated and fragile network of life.
- One does not choose love, love chooses you, thus it is pointless to argue against the love two people feel for each other. Accept the love people show towards each other for what it is – a blessing from Estiana.
- Strive for balance -- be it through love or war -- as imbalance will only lead to premature loss of life and prolong the immortal souls journey to enlightenment.
- Harmony with nature will bring you closer to enlightenment.
- Unnatural beings -- such as monsters and undead -- must be eradicated quickly and efficiently for they bring imbalance and seek to destroy all natural beings.
- Life is a cycle and death is but a single stop in ones journey for enlightenment. Life is never lost for upon death the immortal soul of beings will only be reborn in a different shape.
- Once one reaches enlightenment and the soul is deemed worthy by Estiana, it will be allowed to depart from the cycle of life and enter the Holy Garden for rest.
- There is no hell -- though one could argue that life itself is hell -- as the soul will keep being reborn into a living being until it can enter the Holy Garden.
The Cycle of Life
See cycle of life visualization for a simplified version of the cycle. It is not as clear cut in reality, but gives the basic idea to the followers of the faith.
Life is about balancing between two energies and they're represented by green and red in the visualization. The red is all the negative things in life, such as apathy and inaction. Estianism advocates being active in life and doing things. Dance and meditation are good examples of positive things one should be doing in life to reach enlightenment. Being apathetic and not taking part in things happening around you will gather negative energy around you.
If one follows the negative path too much the result will be an uncertain life filled with doubt. The soul will be in disharmony with ones body and with the surrounding world(nature) and any hope of finding enlightenment will be gone. If one follows the green path closely the result will be harmony between ones body, soul and nature and it will be possible to reach an enlightened state.
Upon ones death, Estiana will weight the two energies to see whether the soul is ready to enter the Holy Garden. If the amount of positive energy is sufficient, the soul will be released from the cycle of life and sent for rest in the Holy Garden. If the amount of negative energy is too great then the soul will continue in the cycle of life and be reborn as something new(what, exactly, depends on Estianas whims).
Places of importance
The Holy Garden
The Holy Garden is the ultimate goal for everyone who believes in Estiana. It is a place where the tired soul can rest and be at peace among others who have finished their journey. It is a green and lush forest where Estiana herself walks among the souls and talks to them. It is, in short, paradise or heaven.
Places of Natural Beauty
Places of natural beauty, such as meadows or forest clearings, are revered and the followers of Estiana often seek out such places to meditate and conduct worship ceremonies in honor of Estiana.
Though there currently are no temples dedicated to Estiana, every follower can have a small shrine in their own home. Such shrines usually contain an icon depicting Estiana and some plants that are tended to daily. During prayer it is common practice to burn some incense.
The temples that will eventually be built are more like walled wild gardens than temples. The larger the temple, the larger area it will take and the larger the garden will be. The plants won't be cut in shapes or anything, but will rather be allowed to grow freely. Small creeks and pathways will cut through the garden, bringing water to the plants and allowing people to move through the garden without stomping on any flowers etc. People are free to walk around the temple area and even stop to meditate under a tree or some other spot they find suitable.
The temple areas will have three wooden buildings. One building will be dedicated for meditation where people can have privacy and meditate even if it is raining(on a sunny day they'd probably be somewhere around the garden). One building will be dedicated as living quarters for the people tending to the garden. One building will have an altar dedicated to Estiana where people can go burn incense and say a prayer or two.
- A small temple is located in Trawiy
- A primitive temple is located in Lamoni
- A small shack is located in Etoge
Customs and habits
- Smoking of herbal mixes is encouraged for it allows the spirit of Estiana to enter ones body and cleanse it.
- Jewelry made from wood and stones is preferred for they are closer to nature than processed metals.
- Growing and taking care of plants, flowers and trees is seen as a pleasant duty and is encouraged for it will help one understand nature.
- Craftsmanship(jewelry making, boat building, carpentry and so on) is revered for it is seen as a tribute to the life the material lived.
Marriage under the guidance of Estiana is different from many others. It does not mean you're tied to one person for life, as that would go against one of the core beliefs that Estianism holds true. Followers of Estiana are free to marry as many people as they like as it is simply an official announcement of feelings of love, respect, affection and care the person has towards the other. Men and women are equal in this regard.
Marriage can be celebrated and it is usually done with a feast where the closest friends of the couple(and their possibly already existing wives and husbands) gather. The couple then acknowledges their love in front of these close friends. No priests are involved in the event as the goddess Estiana has already blessed the couple by bringing to surface the feelings they have.
Among the believers of Estianism, death is not mourned, but celebrated. The life the person lived and his future life or possible resting place in the Holy Garden is celebrated. In any case, the person is closer to exiting the cycle of life so there is little reason to mourn. Close friends and relatives usually gather to feast and remember the persons accomplishments in this life.
Bodies are usually buried so they may provide nutrients for other living beings and so that the soul of the person can move to its next destination(be it another life or the resting grounds in the Holy Garden).
Worship of Estiana doesn't really demand that one should pray daily or anything like that. It is up to each person how they try to reach enlightenment. Still, some choose to do certain things on a regular basis.
- Dancing is one way to try and reach an enlightened state and to worship Estiana. Often such dances are done in a small group, but it can be done alone. Often the place for such dances is a place of natural beauty, because nature is close to Estiana. The dancers are usually scantly dressed or naked so they can better feel the wind and other signs from Estiana on their skin.
- Prayer is a way to become closer with Estiana and to try and reach enlightenment. Burning incense at the altar and kneeling for prayer are customary things to do. A prayer can last for hours or mere minutes, depending on how devoted the follower feels at that time.
- Meditation is often used to try and reach enlightenment. Those who meditate often seek out places of natural beauty for it, but there is no reason why it couldn't be done insides ones own home. The important thing is that one can be relaxed, at ease and reflect upon one self without interruption.
Questions & Answers
Q: Your god is Estiana... did she create all?
A: Yes, we are her creations along with everything else in this world.
Q: If we are continually reincarnated and then when we reach "enlightenment" we go the the great garden... how many souls are there? How do populations continually increase if there is a set and slowly decreasing number of souls?
A: Estianas work is not complete. This world we live in is not complete. Souls, newly created and old, are her tools with which she creates new things and brings about changes that lead to a more complete world. That is why populations tend to increase, but at some point in time, the trend will be reversed.
Q: There is no hell or damnation... then what becomes of those that have sinned? Are they just continually reincarnated for eternity?
A: If you are not deemed fit by Estiana then you are reborn. Sin, as a concept, does not exist in Estianism or Estianas teachings.
Q: Since Estianism teaches reincarnation, if one is to kill something, say a lizard, then could they be killing a family member? With that, can killing ever be justified?
A: That is why Estianism teaches that all living beings deserve respect. Killing should never be done lightly and not without reason, but there is something else to remember too. The soul never dies. If you kill a lizard to eat it, then perhaps that is where Estianas path meant for the lizard and its soul to go? Perhaps Estiana will judge the soul to be ready and worthy and permit it to enter the Holy Garden?
Priests are not very visible in Estianism as few ceremonies have need for them. Priests are mainly responsible for taking care of the temple gardens and making sure everything stays in order in the temples. As one of their most important duties they also spread the word of the faith and serve as guides from whom the followers can ask questions pertaining to the faith and the path to enlightenment.
As a religion of peace, the priests can calm their followers, but never incite them to violence or to take action against a fellow man.
- A guru is someone who has wisdom and can offer much insight into how to reach enlightenment.
- The rank for priests and people who have decided to dedicate much of their time to up keeping the temple gardens.
- Brother or sister is the normal rank for any follower and doesn't indicate anything other than being a full member of the faith.
- A non-member who's seeking to become a member.
This is a short story of how Sleanra discovered Estiana. The actual event took place a long time ago.
The large oaks shadow offers a refreshingly cool place for Sleanra to sit down and take a breather. She looks through her bag and pulls out the small wooden box containing her pipe. Not wasting time, she puts some of the herbal mix from the small pouch in the pipe, lights it and starts enjoying the soothing effects. The gentle breeze rustles the oaks leaves and the occasional bird singing creates an relaxing atmosphere. Sleanra closes her eyes and enjoys the moment, but before she realizes it - worn out by her work and the herbal mixes smoke - she falls asleep.
In her dream, she finds herself by a small lake. The surrounding forest is thick and even with a quick glance Sleanra sees many animal there. The horizon is filled with mountains in every direction she can see. She's startled as a roe runs out of the forest and right past her to the lake and starts to drink – seemingly not caring about Sleanras presence. Is this really a dream? It seems..more real, Sleanra thinks to herself.
“This is not a dream”, a soft female voice says right next to Sleanra, “It is more. It is a vision, a revelation. From me to you, who has in her soul found her way to me.”
Sleanra turns around to see who's talking. The woman who has appeared next to her is dressed in a grass green toga. Her tanned skin and long brown hair give her an exotic look. As the woman turns to look at Sleanra, the stare of her green eyes leaves Sleanra unable to speak or move. Not because of fear, but because of the sense of love and care that seems to float around the woman like an all engulfing aura.
“Who am I, you ask in your mind. You can call me Estiana. My followers are the beings of nature. The animals of the forest, the trees, the birds..I am natures caretaker. I strive for balance and harmony, love and respect between all beings of nature. Though you humans like to think you are above all else in this world, you are but a small piece in a complex system of life. Maybe that is why you are only the second human ever to find her way here.” The woman comes closer to Sleanra and puts her hand over Sleanras heart. Even through her clothes, Sleanra can feel the warmth and gentleness in the hands touch.
“I see the pain and uncertainty you carry in your heart and mind. I see the hate you carry for certain things. I see the way you are torn inside. I can help you become whole again. I can help you be happy. Will you accept me as your guide? Will you accept my teachings and look on life?”
The uncertainty in Sleanras mind is washed away as she looks in Estianas eyes. Her thoughts are filled with images and like a puzzle, it all comes together and forms a clear picture. Estianas words are true and her intentions are pure. Her love is pure and void of any ulterior motives. Sleanra manages to say, “Yes, I accept you as my guide. I will accept your teachings and look on life and strive to spread them.”
Estiana smiles, “No, my child. Do not actively venture into spreading my teachings. Guide those individuals who wish to know more out of their own will and seek answers from you, but do not preach to the masses. Build no shrines in my glory and create no organized following. Do not abandon your current duties. Those who are alike in their views will find me on their own. When the time is right for preaching and converting, I will tell you.” The woman steps closer and takes Sleanra into her warm embrace. A feeling of joy overwhelms Sleanra.
Estiana whispers into her ear, “There are two things you must do, before I can help you further in your journey towards being whole again. First, you must let go of the hate that dwells in your heart. Realize that all humans are beings of nature and deserve the same respect and love as everyone else. I will help you with this and tell you more of my teachings in your dreams. They will help you in finding the right path out of the darkness.
Second, you must free the love you hold locked up in your heart. You should not be afraid of it, for love knows no boundaries and does not care for appearances or other peoples thoughts. Embrace it with joy and do your best to nurture and grow it. If it withers and dies, you will not be alone and it will not be the end, but a foundation for a future love.”
As Estiana breaks the embrace, Sleanra feels a small empty space appear within herself, but it quickly goes away.
“It is time for you to go. One of my followers is waiting for you with a present. We shall talk again soon and I will teach you my ways, my child.” Gently, the woman pushes Sleanra away.
Sleanra opens her eyes and finds herself sitting under the large oak. Was it just a dream? Sleanra notices the squirrel sitting on her lap. There's a small pendant hanging from its mouth. Carefully Sleanra reaches out with her hand. The squirrel drops the pendant on her open palm and quickly runs over her shoulder and up into the oaks foliage. Sleanra looks after the squirrel for a while, looking a bit amazed. She then turns her attention to the pendant. It's made from a golden brown and shiny wood and it depicts an oak, with a woman standing next to it. Though the characteristics are not perfect, it is immediately clear to Sleanra the woman is Estiana. As she holds the pendant, she can feel the aura of love in it, the very same she felt in her vision. It was real and not a dream. She puts the pendant around her neck and puts her pipe back in its small box. Feeling like a reborn person – although a bit baffled and overwhelmed at what she just experienced - she starts making her way towards the inn she's staying at.