An Anthropological Approach to Sarkicism - Case Study 03: The Darkwater Lodge
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An Anthropological Approach to Sarkicism

Dr. Isabelle Beaumont, Department of Anthropology

Forward:
Our understanding of Sarkicism has changed dramatically over the last few decades. What we have learned has revealed a diverse and shifting paradigm far different from the monolithic creed that was first hypothesized. We are now able to paint a broader, more detailed picture of the Nälkä religion, its various sects and cultural traditions.

Modern sects are the product of divergent interpretations, many bearing a mere superficial resemblance to their ancient progenitor cult. Most unexpected, especially among early scholars of Sarkicism such as myself, are the seemingly benevolent intentions of its founders. The road to hell, it is often said, is paved with good intentions - an aphorism the Foundation must always keep close in mind, for despite the aeons between us, we gaze into that very same abyss.

And like the ancient Adytites, we have found it full of monsters.

Dr. Beaumont, a relative newcomer to the Foundation and to the research into the mysteries of Sarkicism and the Nälkä faith, has provided invaluable research into two new Sarkic cults. Her work in and among the peoples of the South Louisiana Bayou has yielded interesting results into both the Proto-Sarkic cult The Church of the Eternal Mother, as well as the Neo-Sarkic cult, the Darkwater Lodge. Presented here is the first of her reports.

- Dr. Judith Low, Senior Adviser at the Department of History - Religious GoI Threat Analysis.

CASE STUDY 03: The Darkwater Lodge

Eyô âng'ayô a ne viô - Eyô, which is God, multiplied itself like mushrooms.

Overview:

darkwater.jpg

The sigil of the Darkwater Lodge.

The Darkwater Lodge is the modern moniker assumed by the long standing alliance and intermarriage between the two large Sabatier and Duvernay families. Originally from the Akan peoples of the area now known as Ghana, it is believed that the heads of the two families immigrated1 to the United States during the period of the transatlantic slave trade sometime in the late 16th century.

This group differs from most other Neo-Sarkic cults in that their principally Nälkän religious practices represent a fusion of Nälkä with other West African religious rituals. While this is superficially similar to how such beliefs form the core of more recent religious evolutions such as Voodoo and Santeria, the fusion that has given rise to the Lodge appears to have happened prior to the immigration of the Darkwater families to the local area.

History:
The original families of the Lodge first integrated with the Akan peoples sometime during the Sarkic Diaspora between 1200-1000 BCE. They represent a co-mingling of both haplogroup N (M231), a Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup typical of Northern Eurasia along with haplogroup L2a (mtDNA), which is more typical of western Africa.2 A majority of their own knowledge of this time period comes from oral traditions passed down from family head to family head, and much of the knowledge of their Adytite history has been lost along with most of their stories of their Akan heritage.

The progenitors of the Lodge arrived on the North American continent sometime between 1675 and 1695. The oral traditions are specific enough to pinpoint this time period, but only through comparison of similar progenitor folk stories that exist within other cultural groups that trace their existence to the same period. The earliest tales within the Lodge tell of violence and death on scale that is also substantiated through the record of various slave revolts and the subsequent military actions that were required to stamp them out. From these tales, we can ascertain that the group originally settled on the Caribbean island of St. John in the Danish West Indies under the leadership of an individual that is only referred to as Naman da ke Tsatsa.3

Their time in the West Indies was exceptionally violent. According to the same tales, as well as others collected from other cultural groups, the Lodge was primarily made up of Naman da ke Tsatsa and what we believe was their Halkost. They were involved in multiple slave uprisings and revolts, though it is of particular note that the goal of this original Karcist4 was the brutal murder of the white slave owners rather than the emancipation of the local slave population. There are numerous reports in both the Lodge's lore and in others that the Naman routinely used the local population to further their own desire to wreck havoc on the white landowners, and would do nothing to prevent the retribution meted out on the slave populations.

These violent and bloody actions culminated in the 1733 slave insurrection. Led by an Akwamu chief, King June, a foreman on one of the Danish estates, Naman and several other leaders were able to gain control of the majority of the island of St. John and proceeded to brutally murder the white population. The tales go on to say that this was insufficient to sate Naman's bloodlust, as the Karcist continued its rampage onto the slave population, murdering and raping a full third of the population before it was stopped by King June and a few others. What happened after is unclear, but the slave revolt was ultimately put down by several hundred French and Swiss troops sent from Martinique in April, 1734.

After this insurrection, the Lodge moved to the mainland and settled near the newly-formed city of New Orleans, where the Lodge remains to this day. There are not many tales from this time period, and it is unclear whether or not Naman da ke Tsatsa was fully recovered from its ouster from St. John.

karcist_enitan.jpg

Karcist Enitan Sabatier.

What is clear is that at some point in the late 1700s, there was significant disruption within the hierarchy of the family group, resulting in the structure that we see now. Enitan Sabatier, the titular head of the Sabatier family, is the primary leading voice within the Lodge, and has assumed the mantel of Karcist for the cult.

This change in leadership is not much discussed by the members of the Lodge, but it has resulted in significant deviation from their original purpose. Largely, the distinction between what constitutes a "Neo-Sarkic" cult from a "Proto-Sarkic" one is not entirely applicable here. It is clear that the original leadership of the Lodge preferred the much more direct approach to apotheosis that is generally found in other Neo-Sarkic sects, but the current Karcist appears to operate with significantly greater discretion. As it stands, the Darkwater Lodge exhibits traits that is common to both classifications of Sarkic cults, though their past history has led the Department and through them the Overwatch Command to remain satisfied with its current classification.

Culture, Tradition, and Misconceptions:

The Lodge are all adherents to a religion that they refer to as Äkum'nälkä, or just Nälkä. While the majority of their closely-held religious practices bear significant resemblance to what we would consider mainline Nälkän religious practices, many of the names of their revered deities have been changed to or merged with traditionally Akom5 religious deities.

statue.jpg

A statue representing the God(dess) Nyambe.

The primary pantheon of deities include:

  • Nyamien - Their progenitor deity, Creator of the World. Typically depicted as an amorphous entity, with multiple eyes and mouths.6
  • The ŋorok'si na Hargitsaa - The Seven Butchers of Chaos, the Fountains of Power. Daya, Biyu, Uku, Hudu, Biyar, Shida, and Bakwai.7
  • Nyambe or Nyame - The first Human, Guardian of Creation, the Drafter of new peoples. Typically depicted as an elongated human with both male and female attributes. Some include the tail of a fish in the place of feet/legs.8
  • Wasire - The God of the Dead, Judge of the Afterlife. Typically depicted as a powerfully built male with horns, grasping a shepherd's crook and wearing a crown.9
  • Asaase Yaa - Wife of Wasire, Goddess of Death, the Knife of Judgment. Typically depicted as a feminine figure clothed in an occluding robe and holding a bared knife.10

The population of the Darkwater Lodge is currently made up of approximately 49 individuals. 22 members of the Sabatier family headed by Enitan Sabatier, 18 members of the Duvernay family headed by Enu Duvernay, and 9 lesser-ranked individuals who have joined the Lodge over the years. While Enitan and Enu operate as an exclusively married couple, their children remain independent members of the two separate families. While all of the Sabatier and Duvernay children claim to be progeny of the union between Enitan and Enu, they each carry genetic material of one or the other, not both. How this is achieved is currently unknown.

The entire population of the Lodge currently resides in a residential compound made up of two large Creole-style townhouses and three smaller outbuildings. All five structures are enclosed within an eight foot wall surrounding an 0.032 km2 area within the confines of the pocket dimension known as LoI-504 ("La Rue Macabre"). While it isn't clear when the Lodge compound was moved to La Rue Macabre, they have been long-term residents of both Rue Macabre and the region surrounding New Orleans, LA. They hold a place of regard among the citizens of Rue Macabre, and can often be seen interacting politely with them on Market Day. Of particular note is their ongoing peaceful relationship with the Mekhanics, a Cogwork Orthodoxy sect that also resides in La Rue Macabre.

Overall, the Lodge members practice their particular form of Nälkä in the relative peace and seclusion offered by their citizenship within La Rue Macabre. In this aspect, they more closely resemble other Proto-Sarkic sects, though their specific religious adherence is more closely aligned with what has been found in Neo-Sarkicism. While they are following the path of personal apotheosis as laid out by Grand Karcist Ion, their version of The Valkzaron11 includes the directive to proceed further along the path of apotheosis and to eventually supplant Nyam[b]e as the Guardian Creation.

According to their Valkzaron, Nyam[b]e was cast down during a great conflagration12, cast out by Nyamien for being insufficient for the task set to them by the Creator. The Lodge considers Naman da ke Tsatsa to have been equally cast out by Nyamien, though for different reasons.

The Lodge celebrates several holy days, all centered around the cycle of purification and cleansing. The primary Äkum'nälkä festival is the Akwasidae festival, a fourty-day season of celebration which culminates in a purification rite called Odwira. Whether by coincidence or design, this season now coincides directly with the Mardi Gras month-long festivities. This ritual is of paramount significance to the Lodge, and has both public and private elements.

celebrant.jpg

A Sabatier family celebrant at the beginning of the Nsämanf'tsatsa15 ritual.

The public portions of the ritual revolve mostly around visitation with their ancestors, which appears to be quite literal. Each Tenth Night during the festival, one of the lower-ranking members of the Lodge will undergo ritual cleansing and will be anointed as a vessel for one of the Lodge's ancestors.

This portion of the ritual involves 10 days of self mortification and excess, which daily includes hours of manual labor, extensive bouts of ritual mortification of the flesh, and celebrating long into the night. At the end of the ten-day period, the celebrant is nearly dead from exhaustion and blood loss. It is then that the celebrant is taken into the larger of the two residential structures,16 where they meet privately with the Karcist and the Volutaar.

If the celebrant is not acceptable at the end of this period, they will be marked with a series of ritual scars, and they will not be allowed to attempt again for an indeterminate period of time and will no longer take part in the remainder of the festival. If the celebrant is found to be an acceptable vessel, they will re-emerge as a host for one of the Lodge's ancestors, which they will "carry" for the next several days. This period is marked with more celebration and excess, eventually leading to the "host" returning to the big house with the Karcist, from whence they will not return.

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