The Animon religion is based around a book called the Alura, which has been translated and rewritten over many thousands of years. Now there are almost a million different versions of the book that can be found; many of which are in a library in Kutu that is dedicated to collecting and copying them all into one great scripture.
Though there are many different versions of the book, most of the religion has managed to stay the same; the only things that change significantly in each edition are language, moral lessons, and physical details of the deities.
Most who believe in the Har’py religion also believe in the Animon deities, although they do not see them as deserving of worship; the Animon Goddess is villainised in the Har’py religion, as the Har’py goddess is villainised by Animon.
The Sun Family
The Sun Family (also known as the “Mighty Five” in some editions of the Alura) rule the Animon afterlife known as the High-World. There are five members of this family; Scara, Higrunchi, Cieta, Anari, and Peri. Although the races of the Sun Family vary from culture to culture, the most common depiction of their spiritual forms has Scara represented as a nurlak, Higrunchi as a felinic, and their children as humans.
The Goddess Scara is the spiritual incarnation of the planet. Animon believe she appeared to give life to the planet and its people after the death of the first sun, and there are a lot of stories about her interacting with mortals.
Scara is said to be the soul of the planet, and creator of the High-World afterlife. She was awoken during what is known as the Darkness of Demrefor; when the sky and the ground waged war on each other. It is never fully explained how she made her ascension into the High-World instead of returning to inside the planet, but many Animon accept it and believe they will learn her full story after they move into the afterlife. Scara has become known as the Goddess by Animon people, and it is considered disrespectful to refer to her as just any goddess or deity.
The Goddess is believed to be married to the sun, who was once a mortal man known as Higrunchi. During the Darkness of Demrefor the first sun burnt out and abandoned the planet, so Higrunchi leapt into the sky to beg Scara to save his people. His passion for her is said to have set his heart on fire and it escaped from his body, his love for his planet becoming the life-bringing light that saved them all. Higrunchi and Scara’s three daughters followed him into the sky, becoming the three moons. The daughters’ moons are known as Cieta the Silver Harvest, Peri the Blue Guide, and Anari the Pink Protector.
Cieta only appears during the harvest months, which are different for every kingdom. It is not stated whether the harvests were created around her phases, or if she changed her travel to suit the Animon as they harvested their crops. Many Animon like to believe the latter, but the first makes more sense and is much more likely to be true. Cieta’s travels are yearly; she appears full at the same places, same nights, every year. She is the oldest and most responsible daughter, although she is smaller than her sister Peri.
Peri is always found to the north, no matter where you are in the explored territories. She is said to sit above the Dream World so she can guide lost spirits to the afterlife. Animon are grateful to her as her light has guided many lost children home. The nights when she’s not visible are considered bad luck for travellers and many inns offer free rooms to messengers and other wanderers. Though Peri is the middle child, she is at least twice the size of her older sister Cieta, and over four times as big as young Anari.
Anari’s pink glow is said to keep away evil spirits, and Animon will often carry pink lights at night in order to ensure safe travels. Many Animon criminals are too scared to travel outside when Anari is full in fear that she’ll see their crimes and tell her mother, Goddess Scara, of their sins and have their right to the afterlife revoked. Anari’s pattern takes roughly four months to complete, but is not exact. Animon say this is because Anari is the youngest moon, and unlike her older sisters she gets distracted easily. It takes her a full decade to realign herself, and this is only when her sisters retrieve her during the Triple Moon.
The Triple Moon only happens once every ten years. It is when all three moons are full on the same night and their travels around Demrefor begin again. Animon use this to mark new generations of children; babies born during the Triple Moon are held in high regard and considered to be the ‘leaders’ of their generation.
The only exception to the moons’ travels is during the yearly Sun Festival, or “Sunfest,” when they cover their father and make him rest. This event is quite strange, as the moons’ travels are not always aligned with each other; but no matter what their course they will always cover the sun and mark the new year.
The Sun Family has one of the biggest inconsistencies of the entire Alura: Higrunchi had his daughters before he became a god, and it is not explained why or how Scara had mortal daughters with a mortal man. Some people believe the moons aren’t actually related to Scara, and that she is their step-mother (though this has problems in itself, as questions such as ‘where is their biological mother?’ are raised, and as Higrunchi says to Scara in one of the verses: ‘I have loved you since always and would never be unfaithful’), while others believe Scara gave her children to Higrunchi so they would be able to live as mortals and understand mortal fears before becoming goddesses (which in turn makes people wonder if Higrunchi is their biological father).
The Goddess is the most commonly cursed on by Animon, alongside the sun and moons. ‘Great Scara,’ ‘by the Three Moons,’ and ‘Goddess in the High-World,’ are the three most common curses. There are also a few phrases which are considered tamer than most, such as ‘thank the Goddess.’
When praising the Mighty Five, Animon will raise their dominant hand to the sky and open their palm with the belief that each finger represents a member of the Sun Family. They will pray on their knees with the hand open just above their forehead, and end their prayers by uttering the phrase ‘I hold your light in my palm’ and closing their hand as if trying to grab the air.
Most worldwide Animon etiquette is based off readings of the Alura, although some cultures may differ slightly.
When greeting someone politely, most traditional Animon will use their own version of a handshake: they reach out their dominant hand and let it hang limply on the wrist; the person they are greeting does the same, and they press the back of their hands together gently.
Some cultures have additions to this; the Rendi races will sometimes touch their wings together to create a circle while pressing their hands together, the wolven people fold their ears back and bow their head, and the felinics whip their tail twice in greeting.
Animon marriage is a spiritual bonding of souls that ties people together both in life and after death. Animon can be married to multiple people at once in polygamous marriage of all sorts, provided that everybody in the relationship consents to the arrangement.
For example; X can marry Y while already married T, but it doesn’t mean Y and T are married. Both Y and T have to be okay with X having two partners and be present for the marriage. The exception to marrying without divorce or permission is if a married couple haven’t been able to communicate in over five years; if a couple loses contact for five years the partners may remarry without informing each other, and all marriages will still be valid if they reunite afterwards.
Because of this, betrothal is quite the norm for Animon and after they turn of-age a lot of people are married for political or financial reasons. There is an Animon movement called Freedom for Love which is trying to change the laws to demolish betrothal in the religion. It is not extremely successful, but they have managed to change the laws in some kingdoms.
A very important part of the ceremony is that all guests at the wedding clip a trimming of their hair/fur/feathers to the clothing of the Animon who invited them as a wish of a happy marriage. If the married party want to void their marriage before the next Sunfest, these trimmings should be destroyed with fire. If they wish to leave each other after the Sunfest has passed they must make offerings to the Goddess and her daughters and ask a religious or government official to officially void their marriage.
Animon believe in three different afterlives. The Dream Realm, the High-World, and Dark Sky. Each afterlife is considered a different stage of death, as explained briefly in the paragraphs below.
The Dream World
The Dream World is the ‘first afterlife’ or ‘false limbo’ that spirits must endure while waiting to be judged by the Goddess Scara. While they are waiting to be judged they are stripped of their body and coated in a deep, blackish substance called orbsoul. The orbsoul shapes into the body of a burnsay, which they may use for up to 1,000 eclipses before their judgement is passed. The 1,000 eclipses give them time to repent for their sins; though if they believe they have been pure they may seek judgement immediately, at risk of not being accepted.
If the spirits are accepted into the High-World they’ll take their place among the souls and deities in the stars and ever-expanding universe. If not, they’ll be destroyed by Higrunchi and thrust back down to Demrefor as energy that will help keep the planet healthy and active.
Some Animon refuse to go into the first afterlife after they have sinned beyond repentance. The spirits who escape the judgement of Scara are believed to have run from Anari’s light, and now oppose Peri’s guidance; fleeing into the skies of their own accord. As Scara has given them no light the skies they inhabit become Dark Sky.
The High-World is the second ‘true’ afterlife, according to the Alura. The High-World is the domain of the Animon deities and is made of the stars and galaxies that can be seen in the night sky. Each visible star is believed to be a generation of spirits who have moved on from death. The visible star streams between galaxies are said to be the light left by travelling spirits who don’t stay in a single star and visit the other spirits such as family, friends, and lovers who were born in different generations.
When a spirit is accepted into the High-World they are given their true form back. In place of their heart (which is removed by Animon during burial) is a strand of Scara’s hair. This hair glows brightly, and this is what makes the spirits in the High-World give off light.
Dark Sky is the afterlife taken by those who flee from Scara’s judgement.
When a spirit refuses judgement from the Goddess, they flee into Dark Sky. As Scara has not given them a light or place in the galaxies above, the cursed spirits create a gaping blackness wherever they group together. Cloudy nights or with no stars are thought to be gatherings of evil spirits and many Animon refuse to go outside during Dark Sky; the exception being when Anari is full and they feel protected by her light.
Heck’ne’s dusty sky has lead Animon to believe that their sky welcomes the evil spirits without question, which encourages the xenophobic and discriminatory behaviour between the two religions.
Another Dark Sky effect is created by Fallen Cloud’s fire towers. The Animon who live there believe the reason the stars refuse to appear above their home is because of the evil that was released during the Fire of the Field looms in their homeland, and that the fire in the fire towers is a reflection of that evil. They say it pollutes the sky’s pure light and chases away the good spirits. The very few Animon that still reside Fallen Cloud City want to dismantle the fire towers because of this but are unable to because of the country’s dependence on the towers, and the fact that Fallen Cloud City is an Okaras dominated country that will not change for Animon beliefs.
Traditional Burial Rituals
Preparation for the afterlife is very important to Animon. Traditionally, when an Animon dies their heart is cut from their chest. This is done with a single incision down the centre of the chest from the clavicle to the beginning of the false ribs; Animon try not to use the Y-incision as it damages the outer-torso too much and instead they must feel what part of the ribs they are going to cut with their hands. After the incision is made the cartilage is sliced and the sternum is gently removed so the heart can be taken out in one piece.
After the heart has been removed the sternum will be placed on the face of the deceased. This will become their burnsay face when they join the Dream World. If the sternum is too damaged to remove in one piece or place on the Animon’s face (this is mostly with familiar tamers, as they are often crushed by dragons) then a fake sternum made of stone will be used in its place. The incision will be held closed with stitches or a small amount of fayrie silk and then sprinkled with soulstone fragments.
Once the body is prepared for burial the heart will be cremated and poured into a diamond necklace (the shape is usually specified in the deceased Animon’s will, if not it is chosen by the next of kin) with a small amount of soulstone. The soulstone eats away at the ashes and the glowing rock fills the small diamond space.
The necklace is given to the next of kin so that they can carry the love of their lost one with them whenever they need it. A lot of Animon decorate the necklaces to make them as beautiful as possible. Some Animon have their heart split into multiple necklaces to be shared amongst their children. When this happens the necklaces are usually able to lock together in some way to make a full shape or image. When the name of the deceased is forgotten, the necklace will be buried with the last person to remember their name.
Once the next of kin have received the necklace the body may then be buried. By this time the soulstone has already begun to eat away at the chest of the dead and will soon cover them completely. Although there are allocated burial grounds and temples in some countries it is legal to bury the dead anywhere that is not considered heavily-populated, meaning Animon can be buried next to their house provided they don’t live in a crowded area.
Traditional burial rituals started to phase out of some Animon cultures around the late 3,000s. One of the major cultures to not use traditional burial rituals are the wolven people; wolven countries have never buried their dead, even when the families are in the Animon religion. Instead they cremate them, because their families are so large that doing otherwise would have graveyards quickly become too big to maintain.
The Sunfest is an Animon celebration that takes place for the duration of the month Sonfe— A yearly, five-day long eclipse. The celebration is used to remind people how dependent they are on the sun, and to encourage them to thank the sun for giving them life and light. Religiously it is believed to be the month when Higrunchi from the Sun Family is made to rest after bringing energy to the planet. His daughters, who are believed to be the three moons, have to force their good-natured father away from the planet to rest; this is the Animon reasoning behind why all three moons cover the sun at the same time.
Very few Animon refer to the month as Sonfe anymore; many don’t even know that the name of the month is Sonfe and not Sunfest. This causes some issues with other religions who don’t celebrate the month like Animon do and instead use its real name. Some kingdoms, including the Rendi and Felinic Gallamor, have made it compulsory for schools to teach the difference between Sunfest and Sonfe, but not many Animon-dominated countries are following suit.
The day before Sunfest, Animon will decorate their homes with soulstone, heart fungus, and other glowing materials. There are friendly competitions to see who can make their house’s glow the prettiest; those who take part in the Sunfest often use water or glass to craft reflective decorations that enhance the lights they hang.
Each day of the Sunfest has its own unique name and ceremony. These names are connected to the month of Sonfe; but the ceremonies are connected to the Sunfest and only celebrated by religious Animon. It is considered an insult to the High-World to not celebrate the appropriate thing on its day. It is also considered bad luck to sleep on the Sunfest nights so most Animon try to stay awake until Tanda; when they feel protected.
Day One: Pada
The first day of Sonfe, Pada, celebrates the ageing ceremony. It is the only day that drinking alcohol is legal for anybody under the age of fifteen years in Animon-dominated countries (with the exception of the Foxen Empire, where it is always legal).
All Animon will use Pada to mark their age instead of the day of their birth, and anyone born during the year will turn one during their first eclipse. This is why most people use the term ‘eclipse’ to refer to their age instead of ‘years’.
A child born during the Sunfest is known as an ‘Eclipser’ and are two legal ages simultaneously. This has its benefits (old enough to drink, too young to get arrested) and its consequences (have to wait to marry, may not be allowed into adult-only groups), but doesn’t have an overall effect on the quality of an Eclipser’s life.
There are exceptions to the regular ageing ceremony and how age is measured. Sometimes, if an Animon’s memory has been damaged or they don’t feel like they’ve been ‘living’ until a certain time, Animon will use ‘years’ to refer to their physical age and ‘eclipses’ to refer to how old they see themselves. Usually the two terms can be used interchangeably, but some Animon are strict about the technicalities.
Day Two: Bibda
The second day of Sunfest is Bibda; the day of mourning.
Different Animon cultures have different ways of mourning the dead on Bibda: kitsune and felinics sit at the graves of their loved ones and scream until they lose their voice; foxen people drink and decorate the graves with brightly-coloured cloth; Avio and Dassens dance and sing in order to ‘celebrate life that was’ and many have died themselves after passing out from exhaustion.
Some know it as the saddest day of the Sunfest; while others know it as the happiest, thinking of it as a celebration of life that was— for every person mourned there are memories, maybe not always fun, but those memories changed the lives of those who still live.
Bibda is sometimes considered the most important day of Sunfest because of this, though only people who have lost a loved one can appreciate its meaning.
Day Three: Tanda
The third day, Tanda, is also known as ‘the day when Five become one’ and is in the middle of the Sunfest. The association with it as the day when Five become one comes from the arrangements of the moons over the sun; when the Mighty Five come so close together that they appear as one great entity. The moons arrange in size order, with Anari at the front, Cieta in the middle, and Peri closest to their father.
The Mighty Five combining their powers makes them the most powerful they can possibly be, and so it’s Tanda that Animon choose to sleep; when the powerful Sun Family is watching over them and can repel any bad luck that would come from sleeping during an eclipse.
Many Animon fall sleep on the graves of their loved ones, having worn themselves out by mourning during Bibda.
Translations of alternate names from across Demrefor are all quite similar, although ‘Day of One Darkness’ and ‘The Safe Sleep’ are two of the most common known alternate names for Tanda.
Day Four: Dorda
The fourth day of the eclipse is the day of marriage; Dorda.
Though Animon can get married any day of the year, it only becomes legally binding on the fourth day of the Sunfest. If the married party decide they no longer wish to be married before their first Sunfest together they burn any proof of their marriage (all hair/fur/feather gifts they received and any written certificates) and make an offering to Scara.
Day Five: Sumda
Sumda is the day of forgiveness, and the last day before the new year. It is the day when people are encouraged to admit their mistakes and ask for forgiveness from their loved ones.
Animon believe birthmarks are scars that their ancestors wore after being wounded for an honourable reason (from something big like saving someone from fire or fighting a war, to simply being scratched while getting a cat out of a tree).
Animon art is quite abstract. They make art with rainbow scars; black and red is used in a lot of self-portraits of artists who still hold negative emotions with their marks, or often on an evil villain with scars.
It is quite common for Animon to carry bags of small stones and crystals from their suitors. This isn’t a religious tradition as much as many Animon just like stones and crystals and will often give them to each other as a sign of affection. This is especially common with Rendi races.
In Animon-dominated kingdoms, many kings and queens have been openly queer and married partners of the same sex, adopting heirs instead of having blood-related children.