Díthímú

The Díthímúlisten (Thelirien meaning "guardians") are an extremist religious and cultural movement within the Bláthaofa Kingdom composed primarily of elves, advocating for extreme simple living, self-sufficiency, and the rejection of social organization. Largely considered a fringe movement, the movement has nonetheless managed to attract hundreds of thousands of followers in the decades since its foundation, with adherents found across most Bláthaon realms.  

History

The origins of the Díthímú can be traced to the teachings of radical archdruid Githuam in 493 PC. Long known for the emphasis she placed on the spiritual benefits of connecting with primeval nature, Githuam's promotion to the rank of archdruid of Fangithí led to her adopting a more extreme viewpoint, advocating for the rejection of the orderly, manipulated nature common in cities and settlements throughout the Bláthaofa Kingdom. Coupled with her anti-establishment message that repudiated social hierarchies, Githuam's teachings reached many disaffected and dissatisfied elves, particularly those among the youth who found the increasingly structured Bláthaon society alienating and unnatural. They began to organize and call themselves Díthímú, stating that their beliefs were protecting and guarding nature and life as it was meant to be.   As her following and radicalism grew, Githuam's beliefs increasingly began to challenge the doctrins of the Canárlia, the religious and governmental apparatus of the Bláthaofa Kingdom. In 495 PC, the Breimú reprimanded her and, upon her refusal to temper her teachings, attempted to strip her of her title. Githuam responded by renouncing the teachings of the Canárlia entirely and calling on her followers to do the same, leave the civilized world, and lead simple lives in the wilds. Githuam herself departed into the wilds of Fangithí along with the largest contingent of her followers. As word spread throughout the Kingdom, adherents on other realms followed suit, often leaving behind the majority of their material possessions.   Those who stayed behind continued evangelizing for Githuam's ideals, forming small communities in major cities where they recruit new followers. Once they have reached a few dozen followers, they leave for the wilds, leaving a small number behind to repeat the cycle.

Beliefs

The Díthímú beliefs revolve around a complete rejection of society and civilization, claiming that elves are naturally meant to life in complete harmony with the natural world and to minimize the impact they have on it. As evidence, they point to the fact that the gods placed elves onto their various realms into this state, rather than in organized cities with a curated wilderness. As the gods had the power to do so and chose not to, it follows that elves were not made to do such things. The increasing cases of elves experiencing caichásast, a compulsive longing for the wilderness, are used as further evidence.   To this end, Díthímú take inspiration from wild animals in their general attitudes and behaviors. They forage for food rather than engaging in any form of agriculture, seeking out wild fruits and berries, leafy vegetables, beans, seeds, and nuts to eat. They are strictly non-violent, striving to do as minimal an amount of harm to living things as possible, including plants and fungi. This means that they refuse to eat root vegetables such as potatoes because that will kill the plant. Some Díthímú go as far as to refuse any fruit or seeds that have not naturally fallen from its plant, though this restriction is rare. Most also refrain from any type of animal product, though many agree that it is permissible to scavenge from an already dead animal as there is no further harm that can be done to it.   Acknowledging that elves are social creatures, the Díthímú mostly form small groups or "droves", usually consisting of between ten to fifteen individuals who engaging in foraging and gathering. These droves are considered entirely optional by the Díthímú, however, allowing individuals who prefer solitary existences the ability to live completely on their own, without any external contact. Within the droves, there is no appointed leader or decision maker, as the Díthímú reject social hierarchies, believing that the impinge on nature. Instead, individuals make their own choices and follow them as they please, as long as they bring no harm to any other member of the drove or natural world. Disputes are expected to be handled amicably by the disputers, either by some agreed-upon competition or through the arbitration of a third party.   While not eschewing magic entirely, Díthímú largely consider it unnecessary and potentially dangerous. Using druidic magic to reshape the land, command animals, transform a living creature, or alter a plant is strictly forbidden. Thus they primarily use druidic magic for healing, protection from extreme elements such as blizzards, and the creation of food and water when it cannot be found naturally. A few of the most extreme followers refuse even this level of magic, believing it to be a violation of the natural order. However, as Githuam was a druid herself, most accept that magic itself is part of the natural world and using it is inherently no more unethical than using a rock to smash open the shell of a nut.   Finally, they build no permanent structures nor do they alter the wilderness in any way other than as a natural consequence of their existence. The only shelter they take from the elements are in tents or natural shelters such as caves or tree hollows. Similarly, they may gather fallen leaves and sticks to make small fires for cooking or warmth, but will carefully control the flame and often build them on top of piles of rocks to avoid harming anything that may be living beneath the dirt.  

Criticism

Many critiques of the Díthímú beliefs exist, many of them from the Canárlia they were a rejection of. The most prominent critic has been Brórthógia Ithtrég, archdruid of Ilthach, a prominent conservative in the faith. His primary rebuttal is that simple foraging could never support a population as large as the Kingdom's, thus necessitating agriculture and the druidic enhancement of orchards, fields, and the wilderness. Similarly, he states that those who live in organized societies live longer, through easier access to treatment for disease, injury, and care for the elderly. The Díthímú counter that more people and longer lives are not inherently better or more moral, that death is merely another aspect of the natural order, and passing to the afterlife should not be viewed as a negative.   The second strongest critique is that without civilization to ease the burdens of living, there would be no time for the creation of art or the expression of abstract ideas. If everyone lives a primitive life, there would be no sculptors, no painters, and no poets. He continues that the collaborative nature of society allows thousands to quickly and easily share their ideas and thoughts, encouraging new ideas and advancing the collective body of knowledge. No one would have ever reached the Sora, for example, without thousands of years of knowledge being built upon generation after generation. The most common Díthímú response is that most do not have time to create art or express abstract ideas in civilization now, as most individuals are required to perform mundane, unfulfilling tasks to keep everyone fed, clothed, and sheltered. While certain individuals may have less time for art and philosophy, natural living spreads this burden more evenly, so that when one member of a drove has time to relax, all do, providing more equality.   Finally, the last of the major criticisms from Brórthógia is that Díthímú beliefs are inherently hypocritical, as should any ever need any of the benefits of society, they are free to return to it. Additionally, not everyone wishes to live a primitive lifestyle and the Díthímú beliefs would disallow civilization, thus lessening the very freedoms supposedly strengthened. He also points to many individuals, such as Githuam herself, who live on realms to which they are not native and, for many, on which life itself did not exist prior to the coming of civilization. The counter argument is that while one choice may be removed, overall freedom is still increased, and attacking the actions of an individual does nothing to discredit the ideas themselves.


Cover image: by Denis Khusainov

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