Cult of Bloodmoon
In the folds of the Fruit unimaginable knowledge lies hidden, like a jewel at a bottom of a well, calling upon us to jump in the abyss and seize it.
- 1 Description
- 2 History
- 3 Stages of initiation
- 4 The Science of Transmutations
- 5 The Role of Sacrifice
- 6 Sermons
- 7 Places of Significance
- 8 See Also
The Bloodmoon Cult is an esoteric religion devoted to the use of the Bloodmoon fruit to access alternative realities and higher knowledge. The Cult is structured around ascending stages of initiation in which secret knowledge is revealed. Integral part of the Cult is the Science of Transmutations, an esoteric art akin to alchemy and divination. Its prophet, Ven Dhalgren was executed in D'Hara at the beginning of the winter of 20YD,her mind turned inward and unresponsive to external stimuli.
The island of Raviel and the city of Port Raviel have been populated for ages. The original primitive inhabitants of the island who lived on the beaches and fringes around the abandoned city were known to eat an indigenous fruit that came from a certain palm, wrapped in a leaf and combined with a lime paste when eaten the fruit or nut of the tree would create either a mild hallucinogenic state or complete temporary madness. When eaten in large amounts the future and past could both be seen but as if through a distorted mirror. The fruit was known as the Bloodmoon fruit as when ripe upon the palm it was red in color and the size of a plum. When chewed it would stain the lips. It was usually eaten on a full moon before an important event or festival.
King Apasurain was the first to introduce the Bloodmoon to the eastern continent when he formed the kingdom of Thulsoma. Its people rarely used it, and it only grew in the gardens of the Lord's estate in Vakreno Heaps. For a while, members of a guild consumed the Fruit in secret, but it disbanded soon after.
In the winter of 18YD the “mad king” Glaumring distributed the Fruit to the masses in Asylon, resulting in a wave of chaos and madness throughout the kingdom. After weeks of insanity the Cult was founded to control the Bloodmoon, and spread its controlled use and its knowledge through Dwilight.
Stages of initiation
Knowledge in the Cult is divided into public and esoteric. The Visionary has access to knowledge which is public, although one has the opportunity to be followed by a priest and access the first chambers of the temples' libraries. The other stages deal with esoteric knowledge that is protected by vows of secrecy, and it is held that death is the only appropriate punishment to those who brake the vows.
This is the most common level, as most members of the Cult stop at this stage. Initiation is obtained upon request in a temple, the priest instructs the candidate about the Fruit and its properties and sends him home with a drop of the Juice in a vial. The candidate drinks the drop before sleeping and the morning after recounts his dreams to the priest. If the priest thinks that the Fruit spoke in the dreams, he invites the candidate to the first available initiation (normally once a month, on a moonless night). This first initiation is called “tasting the Fruit”; the liquid in the vial is not enough to have any effect on the candidate and most people lie about their dreams or convince themselves of having dreamed. However, the first part of the initiation roots the use of the Bloodmoon in one's house, in the domestic sphere, for it is here that the Visionary mostly works on his intellect (this is priestly knowledge, a candidate will be told that the drop is indeed enough and the Fruit will speak to them).
Group initiations are organised in temples usually once a month (but more often should it be required). After the group initiation one is fully part of the Cult, a Visionary. This second stage happens in the temple at night, usually only a few weeks after tasting the Fruit, and is called “opening the gate”. The candidates sit in a circle in comfortable chairs, a fire alight in a brazier at its centre. A priest walks to each one of them and administrates the Juice from a chalice, and then teaches them one of the Songs and makes them sing. Voices get more feeble, the fire casts strange shadows and sweat dots foreheads while they drift through the Gate. The priest stays in the room, walking behind the candidates making sure they are safe and feeding them water, until they come back a few hours later. The new visionaries are now fed and led to rest, to then meet the priest and discuss their first Journey. The priest will advice and encourage the new visionary, and assess which Influence(s) they encountered. From now on the visionary will have to monitor their dreams, for the Gate has been opened and Influences speak often at night, and discuss them occasionally with a priest, [priest knowledge:] who keeps a record on each follower. Occasionally, the Visionary is summoned to the temple for group rituals, in which Visionaries drink the Fruit together under the lead of a priest so the gate can be more widely opened by their common experience. Sometimes a priest would deem appropriate to invite a Visionary and encourage them to open the gate once again, give them a vial of Juice and let them drink it where and when they prefer, as long as secrecy is respected. Indeed, Visionaries are individually followed, so that the priest knows when the gate is closing for them, and the Bloodmoon is required.
Theology of the Visionary
A young priest walks behind the circle of chairs, his shadow reflected and distorted against the walls. The fire that burns in the centre of the room leaves strange shadows on his gray vest, shadows of colours unknown. Faces peek at each other in the orange light, sweat runs on skin, quick snails of light leaving shining trails of silver on the shivering flesh. The priest walks slowly behind, all hearts beat together at the time of his pacing.
“The Bloodmoon is a gate, a gate to different orders of reality. These realities we call the Folds, and they are many. The Folds lie beyond the world of humans, beyond our knowledge and awareness, and the only bridge that can be cast through the abyss that divides us from them is the Bloodmoon fruit, which you have now drank of. Today the gate is opened, and light pours through it unveiling everything that was hidden in darkness, revealing what lies behind the shapes of our everyday life, revealing the truth. Beyond the gate there many Folds and in the Folds dwell Influences, what the ignorant calls spirits and the superstitious calls gods. They are many, innumerable as innumerable are the Folds they inhabit, and they wish to talk to our intellect. You shall not be afraid and listen, for now the gate is open and it is up to you to establish a relation with them and learn their truth. They will talk to you in your dreams, they will talk to you tonight, and you shall listen. From now on they will always talk to you, in roundabout and mysterious ways, through symbols and traces perhaps, and the intellect shall learn. Respect the Fruit they gave us, for now you have eaten of it and it is part of you, as it is part of the Influences. Worship the Influences that dwell beyond the gate, for they hold the truth and demand respect and reverence.”
“Now learn this song, one of the song they thought us. Learn it and sing it with me, while the gate opens and lights shines through, revealing all for what it really is”.
The Augur rank marks a different type of commitment. One needs not to become a priest to be augur, but all priests are augurs.
Initiation to the augur level is never requested by a visionary, but proposed to the Cult by a priest and evaluated by an appointed council of priests. Initiation to the “lesser mysteries” - the Theology of the Augur - is called “crossing the gate”, and always happens at the temple of Vakreno Heaps, centre of the Cult (it is however not impossible that in the future more temples will be centres of initiation). The visionary is summoned in front of all the priests of the temple, or all that are present, and at least one elder and made to swore a vow of secrecy. One is then led into an inner chamber by the elder, and expounded the truths of the lesser mysteries. Once the ceremony is over one is handed a flask with a strong dose of the juice. Once again, the candidate is left to decide where and when to take the Fruit, but one is not Augur until it is consumed in the light of the truths of the lesser mysteries. The candidate is then made to leave through a back door of the chamber, for once the gate is crossed it is not possible to cross it back and return. Augurs have access to the Fruit and are left free to decide how much and how often one should take it. Dreams remain an important part of the Journey, but the Fruit is consumed often and the experiences sought more intense. Augur have also access to the laboratories and taught the Science.
The Theology of the Augur; or: the lesser mysteries
“Follow me now”, the old man walks slowly to a small door behind where all priests are sitting. The candidate stands up and walks past the priests, their eyes following her like sunflowers with the sun. The small door opens, and the elder walks in with unstable pace, shifting the weight from the walking stick to its fragile legs. She walks in.
“Close the door”, says the old man with a movement of the hand.
The room is small and the ceilings low, the door heavy and made of oak. There is nowhere to sit and the elder speaks leaning on his stick, his gaze on the floor as if it was too heavy for his old eye sockets.
“Now listen. The Fruit is a gate, a gate to the Folds, you know this. It is true, and we told you no lies. What you do not know is that our world is merely one Fold amongst others, and all are equal. This does not mean that they are identical, not at all, some are dangerous or simply dull and empty while some are beautiful and full of bliss. They are innumerable, and something can be learned in each one of them, in each there is truth, be that terrible or pleasing. Your intellect does not learn in this world, listening, but needs to cross the gate and seize that truth..” The old man coughs, then continues. “ Your intellect is on a journey, and in that journey it needs to grow and gather knowledge. There is only ignorance and truth, nothing in between, and the goal of the intellect is truth. In the journey of the intellect through the Folds, beyond the gate, you will learn much and interact with the Influences as an equal. Oh, some are much more powerful than you, and for some the concept of power cannot be applied at all, for they are too alien and strange. However, they inhabit a Fold as we do, and have knowledge that we could never earn here. Truth or ignorance, and truth means all. Your intellect needs a totality of experience, knowledge from all the folds, to achieve Truth. Some truths are pleasurable and some painful, some humiliating and some glorious, some funny and some laughable and silly, some are indeed frightening. All of these are nevertheless truths, and your intellect shall experience them them all in the journey.”
“Now some practical advice. In its journey one's intellect will experience terrible or marvelous things, but one needs not to be attached to them. One should dwell in a Fold long enough to gather whatever knowledge they can, to then move on or back off, otherwise they might get lost in the fold and never come back. Oh, there are countless stories of journeyers that forgot themselves in fear or bliss and never came back, and I am sure the other auspices will soon whisper them in your ears to scare you. There are several techniques to remind oneself of the original Fold one started from, and keep track of one's movement. One is the Songs: they are not instruments of worship, but techniques for path-finding and home-coming.”
He stops speaking for a minute, his eyes closed. His breathing is heavy and she wonders if he is asleep. He starts speaking slowly, almost muttering, eyes still closed.
“Coming back from a journey through the folds has been sometimes compared to the impressions staring at the bright sun leaves on one's eyes. Shut the eyes, bright residues of sunlight dance, amorphous, in one's field of view, mixing then whirling then merging then fading and reappearing yet again, over and over while slowly the comfortable darkness one expects takes control. Shapes and figures are thus drawn continuously, figures which one is tempted to stop, analyse and interpret, somehow having the feeling of being able to control them by tightening face's grip on the eyes sockets, while realizing at the same time there is no sense able to grasp them, ultimately leading to perceive only the feint trace they leave behind.”
He takes a flask from his robe and passes it to the woman. “Next time you taste the Fruit your intellect shall cross the gate and begin its journey. Through this journey it will be perfected and much knowledge will be revealed to you. You cross the gate with the Fruit, and yet you still do it in your dreams, do not stop monitoring them. Learn to be aware in them, and to use them for the crossing.”
“One more thing. Much knowledge will be discovered, and it is up to you what to do with it. However, you have taken a vow of secrecy, and it shall not be disclosed to anyone. Next time we will see you, we shall call you Augur, and teach you the Science of Transmutations. Through the Science you will learn how to put in practice what you learn in the Folds, and again its products are secret of the Cult.”
He indicates a door behind him. “That is the door, I cannot open it for you. Open it and leave, and come back when the gate has been crossed. Now you know the mysteries, and much awaits you beyond it.”
Initiation to become seer is called “the greater mysteries”. An elder takes the candidate to a remote location (a small island in the lagoon in front of Vakreno Heaps, high up a mountain or deep in a forest, according the disposition of the candidate) and, after a vow of secrecy, discloses the theology of the seer. The candidate is then left by themselves to journey with the acquired knowledge, fasting and spending as much as possible in the Folds. Once back one reports their experiences to the Elder and get formally declared seers. The seer initiation is a private matter between elders and the candidate, and every initiation is somehow different and tailored around them.
Theology of the Seer; or: the Greater Mysteries
A monologue in feeble moonlight, a cross-eyed woman talks to an older man in the mist. Her black hair seem blue in the pale light, his eye sockets hollow.
“Humans are not merely creatures that live in our Fold, as opposed to the strange entities we meet in the journeying of the intellect. Humanity is the basic form of the intellect, its basic level of perception.
You see, we focus on our intellect and its journey, but have you ever asked yourself if the entities you see or interact with in the journeying are intellects as well?
They are, they are intellects like ourselves. In fact, they are us. What I mean is that we perceive ourselves, we look at each other in the human Fold, and we recognise that we are human. Then our intellect crosses the Gate, raids through the Folds and seizes knowledge with the confidence of an experienced augur, and meets strange and grotesque entities, absurd and beautiful ones; and recognizes that they are not human, but different.
What I teach you now is the first truth of the Greater Mysteries, those entities, or spirits of the Fold, like people like calling them, look at themselves in their home Fold and see humans. What I mean is that they see themselves having a social life, constructing shelters and dwellings, perhaps loving and forgetting. When we cross the Gate and they see us, what they see is grotesque and bizarre entities, sometimes scary and sometimes alluring, and not the human we think we are.
Listen carefully, all intellects through the innumerable Folds see themselves as humans, for humanity is not a reality but a point of view. Those frightful entities in the lower Folds, those forces that drag you away always unseen, are in their home Fold humans like you and me, with families and small talk, needs and duties. I know this is difficult to grasp, and I am trying to make it as plain as possible. You will understand with time, with your journeying now that you know. Every Fold is identical: from the point of view of the natives of a Fold that Fold looks like our world. It is even possible, but this is perhaps too much, that in every Fold there is me, someone that looks and thinks like me, the Hierophant of the Cult. What I mean is that in every Fold there might be an entity that looks like myself, from their point of view, and thinks they are the Hierophant of a community of journeying intellects, like I do. However, when we look upon other Folds we see difference, we see strange entities and strange objects, strange forces and absurd geometries. An entity in the lower Fold looks upon me and sees a strange monster, a warm rush of pleasure or a force that pulls them somewhere. In fact, for that entity our Fold might be in the lower folds, and theirs above. Think of the picture in the temple, concentric circles to represent the Folds; that picture might be in every Fold, and in every Fold they picture their home Fold in the centre.
We al look upon each other, all from the same point of view and all seeing different things. The second truth of the Greater Mysteries is that all Folds influence each other, and all intellects interact without knowing. When I sneak through a Fold or placidly journey through it, I interact with entities, mostly without knowing. I experience cold, or I experience an unknown feeling, that is an interaction with something. In our human Fold, although now you know every Fold is the human Fold from their perspective, someone falls ill and dies. Everything is caused by interaction between folds, although most of it is unacknowledged. Someone falls ill and dies, while in another Fold someone killed a deer in a hunt: the two are connected.
Why? The last truth of the Greater Mysteries is that there are no Folds. There are no different realities, just different perspectives. This the truth of the Bloodmoon. I go hunting and kill a pheasant, and in the pheasants world, where they all are human, someone falls ill and dies. I walk on the path to the temple and kill a beetle with my boot, and in that world someone is devoured by a wolf. I chop down a tree, and a rabbit falls down a precipice in another world. These are all perspectives, innumerable viewpoints on the same world, all seeing themselves human and influencing the non-human world, while unknowingly influencing each other. We hunt wolves and kill them with arrows, but what they experience is a wolf devouring a human. When its fellow hunters kill the wolf in vengeance, we experience another wolf creeping from behind and seizing one of our companions. But things are not always symmetrical.
Now you know what divinity is, the end of the intellect's journey. A view from all perspectives, the knowledge of an entity viewed through thousands of mirrors. Reality is a hall of mirrors, and it is only by looking at yourself and the world in all of them, and their reflections in further reflections, that one progresses towards knowledge. Should you exhaust them all, should you see through them all and combine them in a single glance, you shall be divine.
Now stay, fast and journey, and I will see you at the temple in a while. All of this seems obscure now, but it shall be clearer with experience. You will learn our world can be seen differently, and actions you did not foresee are possible. You will learn more about the Science after your retreat, there is much you need to think about now. Farewell, Seer!”
The Science of Transmutations
The Science of Transmutations is esoteric knowledge, meaning that it is known and practices only by Auspices and Seers. The Science seeks to know and manipulate our Fold in the light of the knowledge gathered in the journey of the intellect, through the manipulation of matter and control of time (which being a fluid can be manipulated like matter). The Science is then concerned with areas like medicine, divination, and transformation of materials. Every temple has laboratories where metals are melted and boiled, compounds mixed and stones crushed into powder.
The Science is the art of the transmutation of matter, an occult science akin to alchemy. Seers claim to be able to transform metals and create ice from water without low temperatures. Young augurs whisper that once a seer created life, but a amorphous and terrifying monster that lived only a second to suffer and die. Divination is an important part of the Science, the manipulation of the fluid of time through oracular techniques such as Fortune Telling or clairvoyance.
Outside the Cult, there are rumors of magic and necromancy, although officially dismissed by the Cult.
The Cult constantly seeks magical objects and curiosities to study their bizarre properties and replicate them.
The Role of Sacrifice
Just as Lady Ven introduced the science of Transmutations, so did Priest Graeth stress the related role of sacrifice.
After the murder of Lady Ven at the hands of the D'Harans, Priest Graeth traveled east in search of her body. He caught up with her remains in Morek, under the protection of Lord Bowie. Before leaving, Lord Bowie also give Priest Graeth Lady Ven's journal, which had been taken from her in prison, but reconciled with her after death. It was known that Lady Ven had been attempting new experiments with the Bloodmoon fruit before her death, and it was thought that the state this induced in her may have prompted her execution. The D'Harans claimed her turned to an undead-like state. Because of the possible dangers, the journal was deposited within the cabin in the Vakreno orchards near the final resting place of Lady Ven, left unread.
Priest Graeth returned to the journal some years later, unable to resist the call of curiosity. He retreated to the darkest recesses in his temple in Echiur where he carefully read the journal and subsisted off of Bloodmoon fruit alone for nearly a week. After the week was over he emerged from the temple, presenting himself at the Grand Plaza in front. He preached to the assembled mass about his travels through the Folds, accompanied partly by the spirit of Lady Ven. He not only recreated her research, but completed the final steps. Through the experience he had learned the power of sacrifice. Sacrifice within one Fold, could directly create harnessable power within another (including the mortal Fold). The level of sacrifice correlated to the manifestation of power. At the end of his sermon he revealed that he had removed his eyes during this quest for knowledge.
Relatedly, grand new Heaps were constructed in Vakreno by Lord Glaumring to harness and magnify the power of sacrifice, particularly in regards to human sacrifice.
The power of sacrifice was put into practice during the Vakreno Heaps Portal Events
The First Sermon of the Mouth - A sermon to Visionaries, Seers and Augurs in time of famine (Vakreno Heaps, Spring of 19YD)
Places of Significance
Vakreno Heaps: Many of the Heaps in Vakreno predate the establishment of Asylon and even the conquering of the West by the noble families. These grandiose mounds were likely constructed over a significant amount of time, as seen in the various stylistic changes in material deposits at the sites. The ancient Heaps often contained remains of local political leaders and more ancient evidence for residential habitation. Asylonians appropriated the Heaps into their own ritual use. When Lord Glaumring controlled the region he commissioned the construction of the largest Heap in the region. The Glaumring Heap was the place of many human sacrifices committed in the ritual context of the Bloodmoon Cult. Towards the end of Asylon this Heap was also used for the sacrifice of Portal Stones which resulted in the destruction of an untold number of monsters, allowing the remnants of Asylon to flee East.
Vakreno Orchard: The orchard in the Vakreno Heaps is the religious center of the Bloodmoon Cult. This was the first orchard planted within Asylonian borders, attributed to Lord Glaumring, who planted the fruit wherever he went after encountering it in his homeland of D’Hara. Being that this was the first managed orchard on Dwilight, many of the early cultivation methods of the fruit were developed here. Lady Ven also ruled the region for a time, and she is responsible for a greater regulation of the fruit and systemization of cultivation and refinement techniques. In the center of the vast orchard lays an unassuming cabin. This cabin was the meeting place for many of the early leaders of the Bloodmoon Cult. It’s doors remain unlocked and inside it is simply furnished with a bed, a large table for meetings and a large writing desk, all built of the wood of the Bloodmoon tree. This cabin serves as a place of retreat and meditation for practitioners of the Cult. Outside the cabin is the resting place of Lady Ven, the first teacher. Above her grave was planted a Bloodmoon tree, the seeds of which were harvested by Priest Graeth Geg to found new orchards in the East. Though the West is now overrun by the Blight, the orchard remains a safe haven for pilgrims who are able to make it this far.
Port Raviel Dungeons: This was the location of Lady Ven’s murder. Some say that in her Bloodmoon induced daze, she sanctified her cell with powerful rituals. D’Harans, while despising the Bloodmoon Cult, have been known to let pilgrims see the cell…for a hefty fee.
Echiur Temple: The largest temple ever constructed in dedication to the Bloodmoon Cult. It lays outside the Bloodmoon Orchard Estate within Echiur, the former Ducal seat of the Bloodmoon Duchy, separated by a grand plaza. This plaza was utilized by Priest Geg for various revelations revealed to him during Bloodmoon trances. Few have seen the deep interior of the temple, which remains shrouded in mystery. It is thought a significant portion of the temple is only utilized by the smallest section of upper echelon priests.
Itau Temple: Another temple of extraordinary size dedicated to the Cult.
Discussion on the Effects of the Bloodmoon Fruit in the Dwilight University
"Exploring the Folds" A treatise by Bucklefee Dundrave written for the Dwilight University