Vapourism

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Vapourism
Geographical areas: London, UK
Origin: ~September 1995, Rushy Meadow KS2 Playground
Key tenets: Animism, Panentheism, Polydeism, Shamanism, Esotericism
Main denominations:  • Footballer Vapourism
 • Ferengoolan Vapourism
 • Quietarian Vapourism
 • Fieldic Vapourism
Members: Unknown; possibly extinct


Vapourism is the inclusive name given to a large group of beliefs, legends, and superstitions with a wide variety of slight differences which were held by the inhabitants of Rushymia and by some inhabitants of the Midget Empire. While there were many varying traditions of Vapourism, they can be generally divided into four main "denominations" - Footballer, Ferengoolan, Quietarian, and Fieldic Vapourism, all of which were recognised as official variations by Midget Master Jonathan (II) in 2006. The practitioners of Vapourism did share some main beliefs, some of which were the existence of other dimensions, spirits residing in non-humans, and a group of deities known as the Eternals.

History

Footballer Vapourism

The first known main form of Vapourism was what is now referred to as Footballer Vapourism. This most likely came into being before even Rushymia, and was the only form of Vapourism before June 1997, when most adherents changed their beliefs to those of Ferengoolan Vapourism - the exception was the Footballers (and, at first, most of the royal army), hence the name of this version of Vapourism.

When Billy of Rushymia gained power later that month, he initially started to persecute both forms of Vapourism, driving most Ferengoolan Vapourists underground and provoking the Footballers to rebellion. When he was crowned King in September, Billy stopped persecuting Vapourism, and introduced his own version - Quietarian Vapourism. Although this new group did not spread far, at the end of the persecutions it was Ferengoolan Vapourism which flourished, Footballer Vapourism remaining confined to the Football Pitch.

Some of the Footballers still held these beliefs when they made an alliance with the Midget Empire in June 2006, but by this point Footballer Vapourism was the smallest of the four recognised variations.

Ferengoolan Vapourism

Ferengoolan Vapourism was founded in June 1997 by the ceremonial leader of Rushymia, Warlord Ferengool. Building on the Vapourist belief of spirits which can be contacted, he claimed that the spirit of an Atlantean leader had given him spiritual power and the titles Theocrat of Atkantia and Defender of Nibiru. Although most adherents of Vapourism believed him, the army deposed him when he ordered them to rebuild the city the spirit was allegedly from. His second-in-command, Billy, took over, and Vapourism was persecuted.

The persecution ended when Billy was crowned King, as he used his own version of it to legitimise his rule. However, Ferengool's version remained the one with by far the most numerous adherents, their belief possibly held strong by the Disciples of Ferengool.

Ferengoolan Vapourists had survived in great numbers by the time that the Midgets entered the Playground, and it was the Disciples which informed the Midget Master of Ferengool's two vacant Vapourist titles. Of all the variations of Vapourism, it was this one which Midget Master Jonathan attempted to help flourish during the Pax Midgetana to preserve the Rushymian culture, and by the time of the Midgets' departure its adherents most likely numbered just under fifty.

Quietarian Vapourism

Quietarian Vapourism was founded in September 1997 by King Billy, to create a Vapourist movement which he could influence and therefore use to try and further legitimise his reign (despite adherents of Ferengoolan Vapourism regarding him as their legitimate King anyway). For some months he had persecuted Ferengoolan Vapourism, and attempted to persecute Footballer Vapourism, but when he was crowned King he claimed to have receieved Ferengool's spiritual powers, and began to rule as a magocratic tyrant, ending the persecutions but claiming the status of a sort of high priest or divine king.

The following for this form of Vapourism remained small until into the reign of King Alex the Great, who deposed King Billy in December 1997. Due to the large respect for the King that Quietarian Vapourism encouraged, many adopted this form of Vapourism during the reign of Rushymia's greatest king, but it still never reached the number of adherents held by Ferengoolan Vapourism.

By the time of the Midget Empire, Quietarian Vapourism was held by the Quietarians and by some of the Skipping Rope Gang. The number of its adherents remained generally static until June 2006, when a notable proportion of them joined the new movement of Fieldic Vapourism.

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The formation of the four main traditions of Vapourism

Fieldic Vapourism

Fieldic Vapourism is the most recently founded of the four main forms of Vapourism, and at the time of the Midgets' departure from the Playground only a month after its founding, was the second largest.

By June 2006, the title Theocrat of Atkantia was held by Commander Thomas, who took charge of an attempt to rebuild Atkantia on the field. Although this was abysmally unsucessful, those who tried to help in the attempt were mostly Ferengoolan and Quietarian Vapourists, who merged some of their personal traditions with these belief systems to form Fieldic Vapourism. This quickly spread throughout the inhabitants of the Field, with roughly half of its Ferengoolian Vapourists adopting this newer belief system.

Beliefs

Main beliefs

Despite there being varying traditions within Vapourism, the main beliefs held by Vapourists were the same. All believed that spirits existed in plants, rocks, natural phenomena such as rain and wind, and also independently of physical forms. They believed in a number of alternate planes of existence and different worlds, a council of deities known as the Eternals, and most also believed in karma.

There was no formal priesthood or episcopate within Vapourism, but some individuals were believed to be able to contact spirits and view alternate planes of existence in their minds. These individuals, such as Ferengool, acted as the de facto priests for the different traditions within Vapourism. Many of these individuals, such as the Disciples of Ferengool, formed groups which were believed by the "laity" of Vapourism to possess secret knowledge about the spirits and other worlds. It is likely that such groups did significantly develop amongst themselves the "theology" of Vapourism without sharing such advanced beliefs with other Vapourists.

One rather unusual belief held by the Vapourists was the significance of the "Ikea Towers", two disused chimneys situated next to an IKEA store which could be seen on the horizon from high ground on the Field or by standing on benches in the Quiet Area or Patioed Pathway. Those Vapourists which believed in the existence of Nibiru often believed that the towers were "charging up" and would one day fire laser beams to attack it. In contrast, those which did not believe in the existence of Nibiru often viewed the towers as sacred and symbols of good luck. Some even held a mixture of these beliefs.

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The "Ikea Towers", as seen from the Zone.

A rather more metaphysical belief held by most Vapourists was the belief in the home worlds of most spirits. With varyingly complicated or contradictory theories of reincarnation, most believed that all spirits came originally from one of three worlds. There was the Spirit Realm (described as being similar to a warm, light-filled ocean, infinite in all directions) home to most good spirits; the Abyss (described as being a gigantic gloomy cavern), home to most neutral spirits; and the Shadow Realm (described as being a freezing stone temple, infinite in all directions and filled with clouds of tormenting energies), home to most evil spirits. Many Vapourists believed that spirits were fundamentally immortal, and if destroyed would go to the world they deserved to be in to be reincarnated.

Atlantis

One belief in which the four main traditions of Vapourism differed was in Atkantia, Atlantis, and Nibiru. The Ferengoolan belief, held by most Vapourists, was that Nibiru is a technologically advanced planet which, many thousands of years ago, sent out an expedition to Earth which founded the island of Atlantis. Atlantis in turn sent out an expedition which founded the colony of Atkantia, which just so happened to be located on what is now the Field. For some reason, the inhabitants of Nibiru went into hibernation and Atlantis was destroyed, so the inhabitants of Atkantia transformed into spirits. Their leader, Arkshun, contacted Ferengool in 1997 and gave him his spiritual power so that he could restore Atkantia to its former glory, but after being deposed by Billy was unable to do so.

The Fieldic Vapourists differ slightly in their version of this legend - they believe that Atlantis and Atkantia were one and the same, and that instead of being destroyed, the Atlanteans left Earth and went back to Nibiru, Arkshun contacting Ferengool telepathically. Quietarian Vapourism, on the other hand, believes that in an alternate universe Atkantia still exists, exactly where the Quiet Area is now situated, and that Ferengool was contacted by Arkshun and given the authority to subjugate the rest of the Playground in his name. They also believed that Atkantia could be telepathically contacted by the King of Rushymia through a portal supposedly situated between two trees in the Quiet Area - in this respect more than others, Quietarian Vapourism served simply as a vehicle through which Billy could strengthen his claim to power by appealing to what was effectively divine right.

The Footballer Vapourists were unique in that they did not believe in the existence of Atlantis, Atkantia, or Arkshun, but some acknowledged that Nibiru may exist and be contactable in an alternate world.

The Vapours

All Vapourists were in agreement that everything in existence was created and maintained (or at least the latter) by a group (eleven according to Ferengoolan and Fieldic Vapourism) of deities or powerful spirits known as the Eternals. The general belief was that the Eternals originated outside of existence itself, and so created a universe for themselves (the only one in Vapourist cosmology which cannot be contacted by humans) so that they could more easily maintain the rest of existence, every aspect of which they controlled through the laws of physics and nature.

Some believed that the world in which we live in, the Physical Plane, is controlled by three spirits, the Vapours - Power, Nature, and Spirit. The Ferengoolan belief was that the Vapours were spirits created by Zaipotek, the Eternal personally responsible for the Physical Plane, and while Zaipotek maintained but could not interfere with the laws of nature, the Vapours were allowed to directly interact with the Physical Plane should they see fit. The Fieldic belief was that the three Vapours comprised Zaipotek (similar in ways to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity), and would directly interact with the Physical Plane but only in the direst of circumstances. The Footballer belief was that the Vapours were each a separate Eternal, and while Nature maintained the laws of physics, Power and Faith (the Footballer name for Spirit) directly interacted with the Physical Plane if required. The Quietarian belief was unique in that it did not believe in the Vapours, or if some did, it was as mere aspects of Zaipotek, similar to the Christian heresy of Modalism.

Sacred Places

Temple of the Vapours

The Temple of the Vapours is an area on the Field, in which Ferengool is traditionally thought to have been contacted by Arkshun. The so-called temple itself consisted of a dilapadated shed hidden in some trees and bushes at one end of the field, and although officially off-limits to pupils, those individuals believed to be able to contact spirits sometimes visited the Temple, as it was believed to be the optimum location at which one could contact Zaipotek and/or the Vapours. The Temple was used mostly by Ferengoolan and Fieldic Vapourists. Although the slight clearing hidden behind trees and bushes remains, the shed itself had fallen apart or been demolished by May 2012.

Shrines of the Vapours

The Shrines of the Vapours are an area in the Football Pitch on which three groups of concentric circles are painted on the ground. It was believed that each group of concentric circles corresponded to a Vapour, and that by standing or sitting inside one of them, one could more easily communicate with a certain Vapour.

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The Shrine generally identified with the Spirit (or "Faith") Vapour

These Shrines were used mostly by the Footballer Vapourists, and also by some Ferengoolan Vapourists. Some Quietarian Vapourists used these Shrines in various ways as extensions of the Shrines of the Kings (see below).

Shrines of the Kings

The Shrines of the Kings are identical to the Shrines of the Vapours, except that they are situated in the Upper Playground. It was believed that each group of concentric circles corresponded to a leader of the Playground - depending on varying traditions and on which time period the Shrines were used in, any of the three Shrines could have been identified with General James, Ferengool, Billy, Alex, Midget Master Daniel I, Midget Master Jonathan II, previous rulers in general, or all future rulers to come. It was believed that by standing or sitting inside one of the concentric circle groups, one could communicate with the spirit of a past - or honour the spirit of a present or future - ruler. These Shrines were first dedicated to Rushymian rulers by King Billy, and before his reign they were probably used as an extension of sorts of the Shrines of the Vapours.

The Shrines of the Kings were mostly used by Quietarian and Ferengoolan Vapourists. The Footballer Vapourists are thought to have acknowledged the sanctity of these Shrines, but did not regularly use them due to their distance from the Football Pitch.

Quiet Area Portal

The Quiet Area Portal was a space between two trees situated near a wall which enclosed the Quiet Area. It was believed by Quietarian Vapourists that this was a portal through which the King of Rushymia could travel through or communicate with Atkantia, which they believed still existed in an alternate universe. It was mainly regarded as sacred by Quietarian Vapourists, although some Ferengoolan and Footballer Vapourists regarded it as a "doorway" through which one could communicate with spirits.

Fieldic Shrine

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The Fieldic Shrine

The Fieldic Shrine is a covered bench on an area of the Field which was not accessible by pupils (the Field is divided in two by a fence, separating the school's part of the Field with that accessible by the general public). Visible both from the Field and the Playground, a legend grew up amongst some forms of Vapourism that King Alex had once jumped over the fence and ran to the Shrine (although legends differed on what he did there, from being contacted by spirits to simply having run there and back through the off-limits area in a demonstration of bravery) - some Vapourists believed that the Shrine was the place where Ferengool had been contacted by Arkshun, although that belief was more usually held about the Temple of the Vapours.