Ketherism is the established religion of Kalgachia. It is a gnostic evolution of Minarborian Shrub-worship which is itself a variant of the horticultural belief system practised by the Deep Singers, a race of genetically modified beings who once lived in central Brookshire. Certain elements of Ketherist liturgy and dogma have also been absorbed from Benacian Judaism, as practised in antiquity by the population of Ashkenatza and its disapora.
- 1 Antecedents
- 2 Cosmology
- 3 Theology
- 4 Afterlife
- 5 Social Role
- 6 Liturgy
- 7 The Blurtations
- 8 Monasticism
- 9 Pilgrimages
- 10 Relics
- 11 The Yehudi Conundrum and its Resolution
Ketherism is the third phase of a spiritual tradition which arose among the Deep Singers, an ancient race of self-modifying humanoids from the deep Micran crust who emerged into the caves of central Brookshire at around the same time as Minarbor, an affable sucker shoot of the Shirerithian tree-god Malarbor, was parted by the root from his cantankerous father in Shirekeep. The greater portion of the Deep Singer population would go on to join the cult of Minarbor and his namesake empire, infusing the creed of his church with their own more ancient beliefs in the process. After Minarboria's demise, this hybrid faith was further blended with the gnostic cosmology of that empire's surviving academic élite to create Ketherism - a full understanding of which requires an acquaintance with its two preceding traditions.
The Laws of the Garden
The Laws of the Garden were formalised in the mid-Minarborian era but have considerably more ancient origins among the Deep Singers. They consist of the following:
THE FIRST LAW - PURPOSE. All life must seek a purpose, and thereby fulfill its niche. As empty ecological roles are taken up by new organisms, seek out roles that need carrying out and fill them; adapt yourself to your niche, the better to fulfill it efficiently.
THE SECOND LAW - EFFICIENCY. All life must share resources, and a loss for one is a loss for all. Take from the Garden what you need, that you may fulfill your niche well; in fulfilling your niche, use only what is required for the task and to the best effect; when you have finished your task, give back what you may to the Garden, that other organisms may use it in turn.
THE THIRD LAW - DIRECTION. All life must be gardened intelligently, and not left to grow unchecked. As the organs support and supply the brain that directs them, you must do the same for those who guide and mold you, and the Garden shall do the same for you, who have been charged with its Cultivation.
THE FOURTH LAW - PURIFICATION. All life must have its essence recognized and respected, and kept from corruption. There are physical cancers that mar the body; likewise, do not mar your mind through inclarity, nor mar your soul though heinous deeds, nor mar society through crime. Each is a cancer, and mars the beauty of the Garden.
THE FIFTH LAW - RECIPROCITY. All life must depend on other life, and every organism in the Garden depends on the proper actions of another. When a word is given, it must be kept; when a duty exists, it must be fulfilled; when a debt is owed, it must be repaid.
THE SIXTH LAW - DEVELOPMENT. All life must strive, and seek to elevate itself above itself. To grow into a mighty stalk, a seed cannot be content as a seed; to perfect yourself in mind, body, and soul, do not be content to remain as you were born. To unite as a creature, a cell cannot remain a cell apart from others; to make a society, do not set yourself apart from others. To make a forest, a grove cannot be contained by walls; to grow the Garden, do not restrain yourself from spreading it far and wide.
The Church of Kalgachia, the governing church of Ketherism, continues to incorporate the first five laws of the Garden within its dogma. The Sixth Law has been repudiated - officially due to the rabid genetic expansionism in pre-Minarborian times of one Doron Se, who almost succeeded in usurping the Shirerithian throne (and whose creed remains reviled as Doronism in Kalgachi political discourse). The Sixth Law's direct opposition to the precepts of Temporal Secessionism, however, is suspected to factor more heavily into the Kalgachi church's position.
The Minarborealist Creed
The Minarborealist Creed was instituted by the Church of Minarbor, the state church of Minarboria, to formalise the primacy of the shrub Minarbor before all other deities and thereby sanctify the rule of his guardian and legal wife, the Minarborian empress Lyssansa. It consists of the following:
Let it be known that we, the faithful of Minarbor, shall recognize each other by the following signs:
1. That we hold Minarbor, the Shrub of Shrubs, to be a god, and to be God above all other Gods, and that Truth is ultimately found only through Him;
2. That we hold Lyssansa Rossheim to be the Bride of Minarbor, and to be His voice, who speaks when He speaks not, and whose pronouncements must be heeded even as if He Himself had pronounced them;
3. That we hold politeness and civility to be high virtues, for they are characteristics of Minarbor which He demonstrates to us every day;
4. That we hold self-improvement and enlightenment to be a constant aim, through which we strive to be worthy of Minarbor’s regard for us.
The Church of Kalgachia continues to espouse the second, third and fourth points but has partially repudiated the first. The primacy of Minarbor - who with Lyssansa, was physically lost during the demise of his namesake empire - is no longer considered to be eternal, although he remains considered the most divine being to have ever materially existed.
The practice of pre-Ketherist Minarborealism, although intially forbidden by Kalgachi law, is now tolerated.
Ketherism holds that all human souls originate in an immaterial realm of absolute (but not necessarily orderly) symbiosis known as the Garden Ketheric. The Garden Ketheric is being invaded by another realm, the Wastes of Irredeemable Corruption. At every point of contact between the two realms the Garden Katheric's immune response has precipitated matter, resulting in the material universe. The Wastes of Irredeemable Corruption are considered to intrude from the vacuum of space whilst the cores of black holes, stars, planets and other dense accretions of matter are considered nearest to the Garden Ketheric. The latter is under sustained and unrelenting assault from the two chief weapons of the Wastes of Irredeemable Corruption - time and entropy - with the objective of strangling the Garden Ketheric's cyclical harmony with an unbreakable linearity (aspired toward in other traditions as Endsieg).
The rulers of the Wastes of Irredeemable Corruption are the Archons, entities of incomprehensible power who usually manifest themselves through the greed and sadism of sentient material beings - the Archonic Agents - although they have been known to assume more godly forms. All animating energy in the Wastes of Irredeemable Corruption is derived from the pain and anguish of sentient lifeforms, a resource which has long been drained from its own hopeless inhabitants and requires replenishment from outside. Because of this the Wastes of Irredeemable Corruption must constantly expand to survive, generating suffering at every point of their bloating frontiers. Through this process, most of the material universe has already been reduced to dead inanimate rock.
Opposing agents have been deployed from the Garden Ketheric to defend its more vibrant outposts against the Archonic onslaught - these are the Salvators. The Salvators lead a wider host known as the Benefactors, beings who transcend the normal constraints of life and death. Two races of Benefactors are recognised in the Ketherist faith - the Liches, who ruled Brookshire and Minarboria under the House of Rossheim, and the aforementioned Deep Singers.
Among the Benefactors are recognised five Salvators:
- Minarbor (Radix Salvator), the Shrub of Shrubs. First among equals.
- Lyssansa (the Blue), undead wife of Minarbor and ruler of his namesake empire.
- Celestine (the Broodmother), progenitor of the Deep Singers and leader of their final exodus from Shireroth.
- Fleurette (the Thoughtseeker), pre-eminent Deep Singer theologian. Died on the dance floor for the sins of the world.
- Lord Toastypops (the Jolly), undead bringer of jollity, nemesis of cynics.
- Vascarina (the Little), undead child created by rogue necromancers. Carried Minarbor out of the world during Minarboria's collapse. Allegedly restored to life by the act.
All of the Salvators were lost from the material world during the collapse of Minarboria, an event of eschatological significance (the cyclical Ketherist model permitting, in theory, an infinite number of eschatons), although Lord Toastypops has since returned and the disembodied spirit of Minarbor is rumoured to be navigating the GAHDN.
Although all souls originate in the Garden Ketheric, some inevitably succumb to the Archonic lure by temptation or deception and cannot be redeemed within their physical lifespan. These are the souls dragged upon death into the Wastes of Irredeemable Corruption, where the last strains of jollity are wrung out of them before they are condemned to wander without agency or aim for all eternity, except for those who were so corrupted in life as to be worthy of initiation among the Archons.
The process by which the Garden Ketheric disgorges souls into the world, or recalls them again, is declared by the Church of Kalgacia to be a mystery beyond the capacity of human cognition, falling within the more general assertion - a crumb of comfort for the mothers of dead infants, among others - that the Ketheric Host acts in the best interests of all involved, having taken unseen and unseeable factors into account.
The practice of the Ketherist faith is guided and promoted by the Church of Kalgachia, which maintains a place of worship in every Kalgachi town. These hold religious services daily, the principal service being held on a Byeday (except those in the Lieutenancy of Bergburg which are held on a Thanksday in deference to local sensibilities). Attendance at Byeday services is scrupulously monitored by the officiating clergy and filed against a central record maintained by the Church of Kalgachia for each Kalgachi citizen. This record is frequently called upon by organs of Kalgachi state and Church-licensed employers, with any gaps or other inconsistencies having a disastrous effect on the subject's career prospects and/or welfare eligibility equalled only by the absence or loss of an Urchaginka. Although the attention of church congregations to the finer points of liturgy and sermon cannot be guaranteed, the consequences of non-attendance generally ensure that at the very least, Kalgachi citizens make themselves present for church services once a week and absorb a decent amount of Ketherism's memetic power through subconscious and sensory means - indeed certain phases of the liturgy are tailored toward those who are fast asleep in the pews.
As the Kalgachi standard of living moved beyond the perilous subsistence of its foundational years, an enthusiastic Sabbatarianism spread from its ancient origins in the Lieutenancy of Bergburg and took hold throughout Kalgachi society. The hallowed day of rest, whether it be Thanksday or Byeday, forbids strenuous physical activity along a spectrum which broadly widens the further west in Kalgachia one proceeds - in Eastern Schlepogora it is considered sufficient to take the day off one's paid employment, but in the more remote valleys of Western Bergburg it is frowned upon to tear bread or toilet paper, or operate anything with moving parts including light switches and door handles. Accordingly, the demand for shabbos goyim to perform these tasks has provided an important source of paid menial work for Kalgachia's population of Froyalaners. The only accepted exemptions from the sabbatical imperative of rest are considered to be church attendance and military service - the latter exemption has assisted greatly in the recruitment of Church partisans who can enthusiastically take part in weekend sports under the pretext of 'physical training', to the extent that a number of partisan-administered sporting leagues and tournaments exist across the country.
People of Nezeni ethnicity, being the only surviving descendants of the Benefactors in Kalgachia, are generally inferred to have a holy quality about them. This elevation of social standing, a well-ingrained phenomenon dating from their Deep Singer ancestors' exclusive stewardship of the Minarborian Church, is demonstrated by their almost complete domination of the Ketherist clergy in the modern day - although the Minarborian prohibition on other ethnicities ministering to the population no longer stands in Kalgachia, allowing sufficiently dedicated clergy of other races (most commonly Lywallers due to their innate jollity) to advance through the Church's ranks.
Ketherist churches are built in the manner of amphitheatres and are always located below the level of the local ground, often as roofed bowls cut out of the surface but in many cases carved out of spaces deeper underground, sometimes at a depth of several kilometres. The main sanctum of each church comprises concentric rings of seats, varying across different churches from unadorned steps carved out of rock to upholstered wooden pews, descending toward a central arena which serves as the altar space. This space is always the lowest point of the church, and most usually the lowest point of the village or town in which it is located. Carved into the middle of the altar floor is usually a shaft full of fertile soil, from which grows a shrub or similar plant of modest proportions. This is kept alive by ultraviolet lighting and its soil is enriched with the contents of the putrefact, a vessel traditionally located inside the church's entrance door in which penitents leave assorted offerings of biomass to rot down, such transmutation being said to induce a purifying resonance with the wayward soul of the donator and return them to the grace of the Garden Ketheric.
With the exception of the ultraviolet lights, electrical items are forbidden within the main sanctum of Ketherist churches; the use of candles in their stead, burning for long enough in the church's underground confinement, generates sufficient carbon monoxide to transport the congregation into a state of liminality wherein the assorted Agents, Benefactors and Salvators of the Garden Ketheric can better communicate with them through the medium of vestibular, auditory and visual hallucination. The Church of Kalgachia has, over the course of many years and the loss of several whole congregations to fatal levels of air poisoning, determined the optimal level of candle fumes to balance the intensity of spiritual experience against the physical survival of the faithful.
Services in a Ketherist church are conducted by its resident Credent, moving around the central shrub in an anti-clockwise direction as he goes about the various components of liturgy, usually assisted by a musician or choir stationed at the edge of the altar space.
The Byeday Service
The most common example of Ketherist liturgy is the Byeday Service. Its subject rituals, each divided from the other by the solemn rustling of liturgical foliage, progress as follows:
- A period of contemplative silence in the presence of the altar shrub by the Credent and anyone else involved in the service such as ushers or choristers, before the church doors are opened to the general congregation.
- The opening of the church doors and the entry of the congregation, accompanied by music - most often a pipe organ voluntary to invite the spirits of the Lich Benefactors, or an a capella choral offering with dance to draw up the Deep Singer Benefactors, or else a combination of the two styles.
- The singing of a jolly-toned hymn - usually dedicated to the Lord Toastypops the mirthful undead gift-bringer of Minarborian lore, considered in Ketherism to be a gatekeeper between realms whose affirmation must be sought to commune with the Garden Ketheric.
- A prayer to the wider Ketheric Host:
Above is below. Below is above. Below is above. Above is below. Hear us who assemble by this sign.
Hear us in the Greatest Garden, that we in this corrupted world stand unyoked.
Forsake not our sacred ground, nor judge it indefensible.
As you rendered unto us the light of revelation, so may we render it unto our children assembled here.
Behold us one and all, we whom the Wastes have not yet devoured.
- The Credent's sermon.
- A prayer appropriate to the subject of the sermon.
- A short mystery play about a holy historical event, usually performed by children who have rehearsed it during the week.
- Holy Communion, accompanied by music: the congregation line up before the Credent who uses an aspergillum to spatter each communicant with a mist of sludge collected from the bottom of the putrefact.
- The singing of a second, more solemn hymn.
- The Credent's closing benediction:
Hold fast in your trials, for the Garden remains.
Heed not stricken flags, for the Garden remains.
By the sweat of your toil, the Garden remains.
Your forebears shall smile, while the Garden remains.
If there be one of you left, the Garden remains.
- The departure of the congregation to music.
Ketherists practice infant baptism, which is notable for being conducted in the putrefact. Such early exposure to rotted sludge is important in Kalgachi folk belief for creating a strong immune system - Kalgachia's Directorate of Health and Public Welfare has conducted a series of studies on the practice and concluded that although it was directly linked to a number of infant fatalities, those babies who survived the process were measurably healthier in later life and that by catalysing natural selection in this way, the practice of Putrefact baptism represented a net improvement to the health of the Kalgachi people.
Being a reliable source of jollity, the ritual portions of Ketherist weddings (or pair-bondings as they are known among the Nezeni) involve heavy invocations of Lord Toastypops, to the point that the Salvator himself will sometimes arrive at the ceremony unannounced. It is said that no marriage solemnised in the presence of Lord Toastypops has ever required dissolution, and the Church of Kalgachia's parish records appear to confirm the notion.
Same-sex marriage is permitted by the Church of Kalgachia but occurs only to a limited extent, usually among the folksier populations of Jollity or Katarsis and almost never in the Laqi east where such orientations are still met with physical violence.
Ketherist funerals are characterised by the mourners' ritual filling of the deceased's coffin with soil - traditionally including the entire contents of the church putrefact. The coffin is then buried without a lid and a sapling is planted above it, drawing sustenance from the buried corpse for a number of years.
In the high mountains of Kalgachia where ground and climate prevent such burials the deceased is generally buried in a catacomb recess, with a coffin full of gravel if sufficient soil cannot be found.
The Blurtations are the collected observations of one Credent Dubbs Blurton, theologian and monastic luminary, from his sparely-appointed cell some distance beneath the Abbey of Fort Candycane. Their concise but irregular themes have gained a popular following among Ketherist clergy as a useful means to convey their creed to the countless thousands of attention-deficit Kalgachi citizens for whom church attendance is a mere formality to maintain a respectable resumé. The fleeting and disjointed nature of Bluton's utterances have, it seems, been interpreted at the most senior levels of the Church as a manifestation of divine revelation unencumbered by human notions of narrative structure. Selected Blurtations are as follows:
- "Think not of the Garden Ketheric as a place without misfortune - rather a place where no vice goes unpunished, and no virtue goes unrewarded. About its winding paths one may sometimes hear a yelp of consternation, but never the wailing lamentation of open-ended despair. All torments there are transitory; every pain arrives at a redemptive end. Hope may at times recede, but it stays forever before the horizon."
- "The anguish of the innocent is the nectar of the Archons. Wherever their talons descend, it is found. Wherever it is found, their talons are revealed."
- "Renounce all materiality at your peril - all joyful things in this world are simulacra of the Garden Ketheric's bounty, wrought by an Archonic talon. Were it not for this borrowing, even the imbecile would see through the deception. And so rejoice in those worldly things which gladden the heart and know that their purer forms await the righteous, but forever reject those who would be their gatekeeper - no gift of the Garden Ketheric is conditional upon the flattery of those outside it."
- "The Archons are not interested in your obedience - only your suffering. How many dupes have offered up the former, thinking it to suffice as the latter, and wondered why celestial wrath is poured down upon them and their cheapness?"
- "Are we of this world, emergent from the Garden Ketheric as we are, cast out from that place in penance? Or did our prenatal souls volunteer to sally forth from its righteous shrubberies to the aid of our incarnate kin? No matter, say I, for the path back to the Garden is clear either way. Keep the Garden Physical and keep it well. Banish the Archonic talons of sadism and avarice to the skies whence they came, turn their cynical creed back upon them, and grant refuge from their taint to all who might be cleansed of it. The salvation of your benighted neighbour shall be yours also."
- "Turn the other cheek as the Nazarenes would have it, and the Archons will howl with amusement - but so too will they be pleased if you draw out and savour the pain of their duped agents - in both cases they obtain pleasure without labour. Eradicate their work without hesitation or ceremony, take up the hoe of righteousness and return to the cultivation of the Garden at hand. All else is flattery, conferring nourishment where starvation is needed."
- "The Archonic talon is not confined to the halls of Raynor's Keep, nor the tendrils of the Garden Ketheric to the chambers of the Perfecti. One can find tendrils in that keep and talons in those chambers, and all of us who stand between have known the conflicting caresses of both. Within each of us grows a Garden of our own, with flowers to be cultivated and pests to be eradicated. Render this service also to the Garden of your neighbour, and allow it to be rendered unto you."
- "Do not strain to convert the unbeliever - one does not find faith at the barrel of a gun, nor a preacher's silver tongue. Revelation will bring to us those whom the Garden has chosen."
- "No apparition ever shone from an unwatched mountaintop."
- "Many a fool has beheld the amnesia of our false celestial overlords and thought it to be mercy, warned too late when their lot is finally remembered."
- "The Garden will deliver you from nothing until you strive to deliver yourself."
- "Hubris is the eternal weakness of the Archons - should your faith and work be misread by their irredeemable agents, do not hasten in correction - their delusions can grow like weeds through pavement. Verily shall they step forth in final reckoning, only to flail at ghosts of their own making."
- "A gram of hope for your neighbour is worth a kilo of hope for yourself."
- "Lead from the front, and be first through the Garden gates."
- "You can do little wrong by assuming the qualities of the Shrub. If you can be modest of bearing but hardy against the most violent storm, if you can weave the four elements about you into the verdant laurels of victory, if you can draw the singing birds of jollity to take refuge in your heart and line the nest of proliferation, then yours will indeed be a sublime corner - in this Garden and the next."
The Church of Kalgachia operates a wide network of monasteries across Kalgachia, although these more commonly resemble large villages or towns - built half-underground in the usual Kalgachi fashion - which are closed to all but serving monks. Although the monks' primary function is to cultivate their link with the Garden Ketheric from the silence of their underground cells and thereby obtain useful revelation for the Ketherist faithful, many spend a portion of their day working in one of their monastery's industrial or agricultural concerns. Others look after the administration of their monastery's subordinate parishes, work which constitutes the bedrock of Kalgachi provincial governance.
The Kalgachi monastic tradition is perhaps the most salient difference of the Ketherist faith from its Minarborealist origins, the latter having considered any form of spiritual seclusion to be an inherently selfish and degenerate habit amounting to an act of spiritual theft from the pervasively social Garden of Minarbor. Ketherist monasteries retain the general idea that revelation should be shared with the wider faithful, but rather than frontload such insights through church liturgy as occurred in Minarboria, monastic Ketherists disseminate the greater part of their spiritual treasures through occulted and memetically encoded means via the Troglodyti, ostensibly to imbue the Kalgachi people with Ketherist gnosis before the Archons of Irredeemable Corruption can intercept, co-opt and pervert the message. This is most often achieved through selected organs of the Kalgachi media although it can be manifested in almost any sensory form from architecture to horticultural displays to municipally-funded wind chimes. In return for providing this service the Troglodyti are permitted to recruit, transfer and initiate the more insightful Ketherist monks into their own ranks at will - a will which occasionally contradicts that of the monk concerned, although the subject is generally blessed with enough intelligence to know the value of co-operation.
The Church of Kalgachia has given preliminary blessing to the practice of pilgrimages across Benacia to recreate the routes taken by the Salvators, Benefactors and their faithful successors. As all such pilgrimages transit the territory of hostile and/or failed states, they are considered extremely hazardous or impossible to actually complete until the continental political situation improves. Nonetheless the Church has prescribed the following pilgrimage routes to be taken at the wayfarer's own risk:
Way of the Great Replanting
Shirekeep > Maltenstein > Dolorous > Elder Beacon > Mortis Mercatoria > Twoggle > Rothaven (by sea) > Sansabury
Recreates the journey of Minarboria's first colonists, led by the Salvator Lyssansa.
Way of the Second Great Replanting
Elder Beacon > Spleazure > Romero > Merensk > Altan > Sansabury > Lepidopterum
Recreates the flight of Shimmerspring's last Deep Singer population from Shireroth after the Underkeep Massacre.
Western Way of the Third Great Replanting
Sansabury > Bagegenisort > Schlepogora > Oktavyan
Recreates the flight of Minarboria's bureaucratic cadres to Kalgachia during the former's collapse.
Eastern Way of the Third Great Replanting
&zeter > Novodolorsk > Schlepogora > Oktavyan
Recreates the flight of Minarboria's academics to Kalgachia during the former's collapse.
A number of holy relics exist in Ketherism, some of which are lost to history or even mythically dubious in their origin.
Used by Leonard, a Shirekeep gardener, to sever the roots of the Radix Salvator Minarbor from his father Malarbor. Remained the personal property of the Salvator Lyssansa into the Minarborian era. Possibly accompanied her to her final sighting in Sangun during Minarboria's collapse.
One of many pots (or possibly the same pot, increasingly decorated) in which Minarbor was kept. Variously reported to have been discarded during Minarbor's planting into the courtyard of the Sansabury Shrubbery, abandoned in the city during Minarboria's collapse, or remaining with Minarbor during his removal into the Benacian interior upon a toy trailer by the lich-child Vascarina Goldcluck, presumably retained by her after Minarbor's miraculous descent into the Garden Ketheric.
The large bedsheet used by Vascarina Goldcluck to cover Minarbor during his escape from Sansabury in Minarboria's last days. Sliced open by a host of pursuing cossacks in the Benacian interior, causing Minarbor to dematerialise. Presumably retained by Vascarina after the event, which miraculously reverted her undead state to one of fully restored life and struck her cossack assailants with instant amnesia.
The Sword of Fire
Ancient token of Khaz Modani kingship, instrument of elemental and chthonic power. Inherited by the Salvator Lyssansa and credited with protecting her creation of the Minarborian state from archonic strangulation. Taken by the Troglodyti during Minarboria's collapse, donated to the Shirerithian Daemon-Queen Kizzy who surrendered it to a conquering prince in exchange for her exile to Goetia. Gifted to the House of Yastreb during the Modanese Emigration and returned to Kalgachia. Presently in the possession of Rubina Yastreb, Lady Lieutenent of Oktavyan.
Lord Toastypops' Candy Cane
aka the Sceptre of Jollity. Large piece of confectionery held by the Salvator Lord Toastypops as an instrument of divine authority and, in the Lieutenancy of Jollity, state power.
The Yehudi Conundrum and its Resolution
The ancient insularity and cultural intransigence of the Ashkenatzan disapora has led to a seperate strain of Ketherist tradition arising within their homeland on Kalgachia's western fringe. Although mainstream Ketherism has freely borrowed many elements - including its very name - from the Benacian Judaic tradition, the descendants of Ashkenatzan Jewry residing in Kalgachia have been rather more cautious about placing their ancient beliefs in syncretic subordination to the Ketherist faith as practised elsewhere in Kalgachia; not least due to previous attempts by the Minarborian church to do similarly, only for that empire to collapse and leave its newer converts spiritually bereft.
Despite this, the Church of Kalgachia has been able to bring a sizeble portion of the Bergburger population under its auspices with a locally-themed liturgy which defers as much as theologically possible to ancient Ashkenatzan temple ritual. Those presiding over such services retain the ancient title of Kohen and recite the more critical elements of their service in Hebrew, the invocatory power of which is considered the greatest of any language on Micras and charges the Ketherist temples of Bergburg with an arcane energy rarely seen outside the ritual workings of the Troglodyti, who themselves owe a great deal of their methods to the more esoteric filaments of the Benacian Judaic tradition.
Theologically the reconciliation of a faith demanding diligent tribute to an all-powerful god in heaven, and one which does everything in its power to stop him, has been spearheaded by a faction of learned Kohanim known as the Pesakhniks who formed in the late Minarborian era to discuss the "Shadow of Ruth" - the theory that sincerity in one's prostrations before the focal deity of the Judaic creed, the Archon Jehovah, is only required of those who were born outside the bloodlines of Jacob. For those within, namely anyone of the slightest Ashkenatzan descent, observance of the innumerable regulations of dress, diet and conduct in the Judaic tradition is alone sufficient to assuage Jehovah without directly countenancing his will - which, through the 'Afflictions of Job' and other such folk tales, is recognised to be sadistic, petulant, duplicitous and manifestly evil. With Jehovah thus paid off, the path is cleared for those armed with such enlightenment to subvert the spirit of his commandments to whatever extent they wish, provided they maintain a suitably-convincing apprarance of compliance; a practice colloquially known as Chutzpah Untergot and a cause to which the finer points of Judeo-Ketherist mitzvot are devoted. In this manner, lavish prostrations of the kind which would be considered heretical in other parts of the Church are permitted from Pesakhnik congregations as an acceptable act of mass deception which quite possibly spares the entire body of Ketherist faithful - including those bloodlines not protected by the Shadow of Ruth - from Archonic annihilation.