Mikagis (often pronounced in speech as MY-kaj-ese) is the most predominant religion on La Terre. Its origins have been traced back to the early 31st Century shortly after the rebirth of the planet, where a human woman claimed to have communicated with some of the deceased.
A small group of followers was assembled at first, and over the next several decades their tenets gained a following with a substantial portion of the La Terre populace. Over the centuries leading to the modern age, Mikagis has become the dominant faith of La Terre.
The basic premise of Mikagis is that a select few who have the ability of a medium are able to receive messages from a pantheon of spirits who have chosen to take in active interest in the living. These mediums attempt to convey this knowledge to the rest of the membership in order to give general guidance in decision making, for prophetic purposes and, in some cases, to simply relate the tales of their lives.
The afterlife is viewed as a place similar to La Terre where a great deal of spirits reside. Most simply live out an eternal existence, while a chosen few are elevated to a level where they are able to communicate with the mediums.
Followers often choose a primary Saint that they empathize with, seeking their favor, guidance and, occasionally, intervention. Worship of one Saint does not exclude others, however. Most have a primary Saint, but it is not uncommon for a follower to worship other Saints as well, or visit their shrines. In fact, a few followers are even Pantheists, in that they follow the Saints as a whole or have yet to empathize with a particular Saint.
Not all Mikagis practitioners do all of the same things, but they do have several things in common with each other.
Visiting shrines is considered one of the most basic ways to publicly practice, and one of the simplest. This often consists of going to a shrine for a couple hours, praying to the spirit to whom the shrine is dedicated and leaving a small offering. Many shrines, however, are contained within other institutions, such as the Caral Irit's chain of restaurants.
The dead are often cremated and kept in urns or mixed with the ashes of ancestors. Other options for safekeeping are small lockets or compression into diamond, which are favored by those with more resources.
Families who practice Mikagis tend to have multiple surnames. Most women who marry keep their maiden name. Children tend to take on the name of the parent of the same sex. This tradition has its basis in that many Saints who announced themselves early had a tendency to use their first legal name, rather than an alias, or even a name taken on by marriage.
The most influential practitioners of Mikagis are the mediums, who are those who are said to be able to receive messages from the spirit pantheon. Most are found at an early age and are often brought into the church before the age of ten or so. Those who are not located, or are located much later, sometimes eschew the path of a religious life for something more akin to a conventional life.
Acknowledged or suspected mediums have a high status on La Terre, being the most influential members of the most influential faith on the planet. Those who join the church rise in influence quickly. Notably, those who don't join seem to rise quickly in their avenue of choice as well. This is often attributed to the idea that some of the greatest people who have lived on the planet in the past several centuries have the ability to provide direct input and guidance for the medium's benefit. Currently only twenty-five known mediums exist, and estimates suggest up to a hundred are currently living.
Some within the church theorize that all La Terrans are capable of hearing the Saints and that it is simply that only a select few are able to call upon this talent with any control.
The Spirit Pantheon is the group of spirits that are attributed with providing insight to the mediums. Mediums over the years have documented hundreds of spirits that provide insight. Some are so prevalent that they have acquired spheres of influence and have individual worshipers. Most spirits who communicate, also known as Saints eventually gain at least a shrine or two. Many of these spirits are often attributed to being former La Terran heroes of sorts, those who committed a great deal to La Terre or epitomized a belief so greatly that they have come to embody that ideal after death.
Some spheres are represented by a group of lesser spirits, where one figurehead speaks for the group being represented if need be. This often happens with spheres until one who sufficiently epitomizes the sphere dies.
It is conventionally believed that all of these spirits ultimately answer to an entity that governs the spirits themselves, often referred to as the Great Mikage or simply Mikage, and that this spirit alone chooses a single medium for a generation that it alone speaks through, meaning that even among spirits and mediums that there are some who stand above the rest.
Most of the practitioners of Mikagis are La Terran in origin, however some offworlders have adopted the faith as well.
- At the top of the hierarchy are the mediums, those who claim and have been verified by other church personnel to have the ability to receive messages from the spirits.
- Next are priests, monks, and others who copy and study the messages the mediums deliver and tend to practitioners. Many in this group also perform other, non-religious functions, such as some of the waitresses at the Caral Irit's chain.
- The base of the hierarchy consists of those who practice Mikagis as a faith, visit shrines, and provide offerings for the spirits.
Various kinds of buildings are common within Mikagis, such as:
Shrines are the smallest and most basic part of Mikagis. They are often kept by a dedicated member with their immediate family. Most of these are small affairs, often dedicated to a single spirit. Most spirits of any note eventually gain a shrine or two dedicated to them.
Temples are larger, more formal affairs, where more general ceremonies are held weekly. Most days have ceremonies committed to various specific spirits. Most of these places are more institutionalized than the shrines, with greater staff and bureaucracy.
Mikagis libraries serve a specific purpose for those who work within them: Investigation. Some record information as it is noted and file it, while others retrieve files to try and perform historical analysis. Conventionally, this is where the mediums spend most of their time. It is not considered enough for most mediums to simply hear the spirits; they must also be investigated. It is this work that attempts to clarify intent of messages, put knowledge into context and even corroborate information with what is known. In more than a few bits of popular culture, it is these libraries which serve as occult laboratories with possibly illicit studies taking place within.