In Ashkathism, the Songstream is a unified consciousness of all living beings, from Ashkathi to animals, to alien sentients. All living things are said to be connected within the Songstream, and it extends throughout all of creation, touching every living being with its music.
Belief in the Songstream can be traced back to Larinian prehistory, believed to be around 1500 BCE in the Galactic Standard Calendar. There, the prophet Ashkai heard the Song for the first time, while sitting in the Shuulua fronds, and spread the word to his fellow Larinians. His followers became known as the Ashkathi. Over time, Ashkathism became the dominant religion on the planet Larine.
Belief was shaken when the Day of Ascension occurred, but this prompted the High Council to publish Tenet 9 and Tenet 10 of the core tenets of Ashkathism. The Tenth Tenet in particular is controversial within the Ashkathi Union, especially after their introduction to the Norb Network. Many more liberal Ashkathi are calling for a revision of the Tenth Tenet, or a removal entirely.
Before there were Ashkathi, before there was Larine, there was the Songstream. A vast emptiness of music and song. From song, there came the sea and the sky. From the sea came the rocks, the sand, the shuulua fronds and the kull. From the sky came the clouds, the Sun, the rain, the naako. From the shuulua fronds came the torra, the spoori, and the rala-a. From the sand came the daati and the rutamani. From the rocks came the gaaka-den. But the world was empty, missing something. So from the song itself spawned the Ashkathi, and from then until the end of time the Ashkathi would sing the Song to the high heavens, and to the sands at the depths. From the trenches below to the Darkness Beyond. And so it has been, the words passed onto us by the prophet Ashkai, who heard the song in the Shuulua, and passed it on to his disciples.
To connect to the Songstream, one must sing. Typically, this is done in Old High Gaale, the holy language of the Ashkathi Union. However, if one does not speak Old High Gaale, any language can be used, as long as the words are pure and the intentions good. Typically, natural places are best for connecting to the Songstream, but one can sing to the Songstream anywhere and at any time.
Ashkathism has many tenets. Some of them are written down in the Tablets of Ashkai, but the majority have been passed down through tradition for hundreds of years.
- All are one within the Songstream. All are on equal standing with all others.
- Song is sacred, as it is the most vital demonstration of faith. To connect one must sing to the Songstream.
- Violence is shunned, and murder is abhorred. All livings things are connected, thus violence against one is violence upon them all.
- Life is sacred. Preserving life is even more so. For life as a whole to be preserved, some must be sacrificed.
- The Hunt is sacred, as it represents the great pact between the Ashkathi and the kull: The kull eat the shuulua, the Ashkathi eat the kull, the gaaka-den eats the Ashkathi, and the gaaka-den's essence feeds the shuulua. All life is connected in this way.
- Death is not to be feared, for it represents a gateway to the next life. The dead are to be released to the sea, so that its essence may preserve its denizens.
- Kindness and charity demonstrate your faith. Treat your fellow man charitably, and he may treat you charitably in return. Treat him poorly, and you shall experience the same.
- Diligience is important to the community. If all members of the community are shared by the pact of citizenship, they are forever bonded within the Songstream.
- All worlds are connected to the Songstream, as is Larine. No outsider is above or below the Ashkathi-- we are all on even terms.
- Minds of metal and circuitry are not life. To make a computer that acts like life is acting above one's post. Creating life is heresy.
According to Ashkathism, spirits cannot travel past the Beyond (and thus cannot reincarnate) without being sung into the Songstream. A spirit that has not been sung into the Songstream often becomes bitter with the living, and often turns violent and feral. To calm them, one must sing them into rest.