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Ashan'shar: The Darkstar Festival

When the moon is blotted from the sky, the Kalka'shar partake in Ashan'shar, or Darkstar, to call back the light from the dark place.

History

When the Kalka'shar lived in the burning skies, they did not need to look beyond. It is said that they spent so long staring at the ground from above that they did not notice the rotation of lights high above them. When they settled upon the ground, they looked to their beloved sky and saw the sun, and the stars, and the moon -- the Darkstar. Believing it to be a sign that Elmireth was still guiding them when all was dark, the first time the moon went black was a terrifying ordeal.   The Kalka'shar began to sing, calling their God back from the darkness and banishing Ashenreth's sorrow. They lit bonfires and danced in their noncorporeal forms every night until the moon began to show itself once more. But when it began to disappear again, they wondered if this cycle was meant to be. Rather than songs to banish Ashenreth, the festival adapted -- becoming a night in which Ashenreth was allowed to walk the skies with His family once more. Those who acknowledged his importance would dress in dark silks and explore the unlit night, singing songs of the beautiful things they found there. Some would mourn those they lost, some would choose this day to send their dead to the skies. The festival became solemn.   Over time, the two practices have merged. Once per month, the Kalka'shar will join in equal mourning and celebration, appreciation of the light they are gifted with and praise for the Dark God who made the light ever brighter.

Execution

The Darkstar Festival is largely disorganised; a day for individual celebration as opposed to organised ritual. Many neighbors and friends have developed traditions over the centuries, however -- songs they will sing together or clothes they will wear. Usually this includes dark fabric, flowing dresses to represent smoke and other beautiful darknesses. Many will also light bonfires to dance around and burn offerings for the Gods.

Components and tools

Offerings to be burned during the celebrations are usually personal trinkets representing lost loved ones -- a way of gifting their souls and paying respect to their memories. This is usually their favourite jewellery, a toy, or a charm that meant a lot to them. Sometimes black and white ribbons are tied around poles and fences as decoration.   If a Kalka'shar is planning on a deeper ritual that night, usually some form of work with their own darkness to overcome it, they may choose to take any form of hallucinogenic drug, such as moonweed which, when burned, is said to give the user visions of their own regrets.

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Cover image: by Pexels

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