Canon

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Canon is a body of information about the religious structure, metamystics, gods and spirits of the Otherfaith to which Other People adhere. Otherfaith Canon is produced through continuous revelation, which may involve personal canon and in turn produce divergence. Canon regarding the first six gods of the Otherfaith, such as their names and associations, was presented as canonical information by Aine Llewellyn early in the Otherfaith without having gone through any communal process. The communal nature of the Otherfaith and its polytheist theology are also part of this "pre-established" canon. Pre-established canon is able to be challenged just like new and established canon. The Otherfaith has an open canon, meaning it can be added to, subtracted from, or otherwise changed and challenged. The longer that information is established as canon may make it more difficult to challenge or change, however. Challenges that alter one part of canon but would have ripple effects through the rest of the Otherfaith (for example, a challenge of the Laetha being a multi-faced and multi-selved deity) are also more difficult to enact. Challenges to fundamental underpinnings of the Otherfaith - such as polytheist theology, incorporation of modernity and technology, and anti-abuse ethics - are necessarily more difficult to bring. Compare this to challenges to information about currently vague ritual structure, specific spirits, and our calendar of holy days - these would be more easily brought and discussed and changed.

Ideally, all conflicts in canon are resolved so that an authoritative canon is found. If resolution is not found, one canon may become a Divergence.

Genres of Canon Applicability

Religious Structure

Canon information regarding the structure of the Otherfaith involves issues such as who can worship our gods, prayers, ritual structure, holy days, dedications and initiations, etc. Anything falling under the actual practice of the Otherfaith is structural canon. The theoretical division of the Other People into the three groups of laity, clergy, and mystics is structural canon.

Spiritual Structure

This canon deals with gods, spirits, the otherworld, and souls. It encompasses the names and epithets of gods, as well as their related spirits, teachings, and values. Information about spirits, such as their roles in our lives, ways to contact them, their associations, and other matters of mysticism are part of this canon. The layout of the otherworld and the People's understanding of it are part of this as well. The soul body and the manipulation of energy falls under this canon. This genre is distinct from, but may have overlap with or influence over, canon concerning myths, stories, and fanfiction of the gods and spirits.

Literary Content

This deals with the myths, stories, and fanfiction relating to the gods and spirits in the Otherfaith. Canon of this kind does not need to be resolved as many different stories may exist in conflict with each other - that is the nature of most mythologies. Differing stories are seen as deepening our understanding of the gods. This is distinct from, but may have overlap with or influence over, canon concerning the otherworld, energywork, and the spirit body.

Personal Canon

Other People may develop their own personal canon regarding gods and spirits. This is called 'headcanon' in the Otherfaith. Headcanons may be presented to the Other People to be made into canon (this process is described in the establishing canon section). If an Other Person's personal canon falls into conflict with established canon in certain ways it may be considered a Divergence.

An Other Person who works with spirits may encounter personal spirits, such as guides or companions, that they consider part of the Otherfaith. These spirits may not necessarily be worshiped or interacted with by other members of the religion, though an individual may believe their spirits are connected to a variety of other spirits in the Otherfaith.

How To Establish Canon

Information is established by canon through its acceptance by the Other People. This may involve active declarations by the People that something is canon, or it may involve implicit acceptance of information. Implicit acceptance involves repeating the information or sharing it as accurate, and silence in itself is not taken as acceptance of information as canonical.

When possible canon is offered to the People it becomes available for critique and challenge. If the People accept the information they can begin utilizing it in various ways. An example of this is the use of silent prayer in the Otherfaith; it was originally canon that prayers must be said aloud to be heard by the gods and spirits. This was challenged and, through practice, the previous was tossed out and silent prayer is now used in the Otherfaith along with spoken prayer.

In the case of the possible addition of the Darren to Otherfaith canon, the god will be established as canonical after a period of time and if those participating in the Otherfaith receive him well. As reception has been positive, he is considered 'possible canon'. Specifics regarding the Darren still need to be discussed.

How To Challenge Established Canon

Because the Otherfaith uses the concept of continuous revelation, canon may always be challenged. Challenges may involve questions of the accuracy of information, direct contradictions to information, or expressed desires for information to be repealed or disregarded.

Challenges to information may come when it is established as canon or when it is under consideration for canonical inclusion. Challenges must always be phrased as challenges to information rather than the individual presenting it. While in the consideration stage, dissent may be as simple as stating personal discomfort with the information, or as elaborate as citing conflicting information, conflicting revelation, more nuanced understanding of the information, personal experience of the canon being inaccurate, or otherwise arguing with more in-depth reasoning.

When canon is challenged, the canon and challenge should be presented to the People. It would be discussed among those participating in the faith. The goal should be to find the most accurate information that represents the gods' and the People's realities and interests. Canon may be changed if a majority of the People find the challenge to be more accurate.

Divergences are characterized by adherence to canonical information that has already been changed by a majority of the People who have found the challenge to be more accurate. If a challenge is not accepted by the majority but a few members do find it more useful or relevant to them, then the challenge is established as a Divergence instead. However, the goal is to establish one canon rather than many different Divergences, so the declaration of a Divergence would not be the first response to put a challenge to rest.