Secrets of Yetzahara
This text is forbidden by all good-aligned and neutral-aligned religions! The knowledge contained herein has been deemed unsafe! Scholars who study the secrets of Yetzahara too closely soon come to embrace them! You have been warned!
What is sin?
Yetzahara is often called a god of sin. What is “sin”? It’s a word clerics use to talk about actions their gods don’t approve of. Every religion has some concept of sin. For example, the faithful of Ielda would say that it is a sin to kill your foe when you could spare his life. But to the Uarites, it is a sin to show mercy! Even among the supposedly “good” religions, there are differing notions of sin. To Sidarch followers, to forge an alliance with someone roughly as powerful as you is the “rightous” path, and to fight him without cause would be a sin. To those who worship Kyon, it’s the other way around! To them, passing up a chance for competition is sin! So really, to say that Yetzahara is a god of sin doesn’t have any inherent meaning. Virtually every deity would be a “god of sin” to every other.
For Yetzahara, there is only one sin. Self-denial. To deny you your happiness, your desires, would be wrong. That’s the only sin. So many religions seek to impose their will upon you, telling you not to do what you want. They say it’s a “sin”, it’s “wrong”. But it’s only “wrong” because that’s what they’ve decided. These priests cannot be happy, therefore you too must be denied all pleasure. It’s this philosophy that Yetzahara seeks to free the world from.
Who put your conscience in charge?
Most people in this world have a powerful mental block that stops them from getting what they really want. They call it “conscience”. Many religions teach that conscience is a good thing. You may see it in art or in theater, depicted as a tiny little angel hovering over the protagonist’s shoulder, whispering into its ear. Is this what conscience feels like to you? A whisper? A whisper cannot hurt you. It cannot punish you for disobedience with abusive feelings of self-blame and self-hate. But your conscience can. Picture your conscience not as a whispering angel. Picture it as a taskmaster with a whip. But even that is too kind to the conscience, because the pain it inflicts is not merely physical. It’s psychic torture. And it lashes out at you from within for the simple “crime” of doing something you like. It tries to confuse you by taking into account the feelings of other beings (which you cannot possibly experience) and arbitrary laws of good and bad (which have no basis in objective reality).
There’s something especially insidious about the conscience, though. Not only does it punish you, but it tricks you into thinking that you deserve it. Do you? Is there any good reason to emotionally hurt yourself? Yetzahara says “no”. But with a little thought about the world, we can see how intelligent mortals trick themselves into believing that they actually deserve to be hurt. In common society, nothing is given for free. Everything is a transaction. Even gifts between friends are expected to be repaid with gratitude and kindness. Humans are brought up with this idea in mind. “All good things have their price.” But when you take something without paying for it, this belief then creates an apparent void. When you enjoy something, you feel you must owe. You must pay. And it is this opening the conscience exploits. “Yes, you must pay, you must feel guilty for experiencing such pleasure, such happiness!” When you take a loaf of bread off the shelf, your conscience demands that you pay with gold, or you pay with the pain of guilt. Everything must be a transaction.
Now let us step back. Is the world actually a series of transactions? What about gifts that can never be repaid? The gift of life? It is not “deserved”, and no price is ever paid for it. But surely it’s not healthy to feel life-long guilt and shame for having been born. In fact, it’s never healthy to have these self-inflicted feelings. After all, health is a matter of what is good for you. And what’s best for you is never the mental torture inflicted upon you by the conscience.
The truth is obvious. Our “conscience” can only hurt us. It can never help us. This truth stares each and every one of us in the face, always. We don’t admit it. To do so would mean that we have been wrong for our whole lives, a feeling we fear will cause us pain. And there’s more. It sounds pathetic, but it’s true: Most of us have simply gotten used to the continual recriminations, the self-inflicted agonies of guilt, the negative feelings of shame. They torture us, but we don’t know what life will be like without them. We fear to set them aside and admit that our conscience is just wrong when it says we can’t have everything we want.
Where does temptation come from?
Take a moment to think about what exactly causes the feeling we know of as “temptation”. The answer’s clear. Temptation is caused by the desire to do something we want to do, but for some reason, we feel we should not. Perhaps this feeling is caused by the conscience. The conscience lies. It argues that we should not do something we wish to do, because later we will feel the pain of guilt. But it causes that pain. If we set aside our consciences, this reason to resist temptation vanishes. The result? We get what we want. And if we resist temptation? We not only don’t get what we want, but we cower in fear of the whip of conscience merely for having desired to do what we wish in the first place. It is a choice each of us can make, but no one can deny these outcomes.
Other times, we resist temptation for what we believe is our longterm benefit. Certainly, this has its uses. One may be tempted to grasp the pretty glowing ember at the center of the hearth. But our burning flesh is a good reason to rein that temptation in. In that case, the path from cause to effect is a certainty. The ember’s allure is a lie. But there are many other cases that are not so clear. Take the temptation to drink. In this case, the pleasure of the alcohol is not a lie. It will be fun. We may choose, though, not to experience this pleasure, because of some vague concerns about the future. But these concerns are not clear. A man might worry that the drink will ruin his health. This is not certain. It is not known whether it will happen at all, or whether it will outweigh the pleasure spent drinking. Or perhaps the man might tell himself that the time spent drinking could be used more profitably otherwise. Maybe. But what could possibly be more profitable than pleasure? To what other end do we work than to experience happiness?
Consequences are seldom what we think they are. Even powerful wizards, skilled at divination, cannot predict the future with any accuracy. Why then do we value an unclear future above an obvious present gain? The answer is fear. We all fear the unknown, and what could be more unknown than the future? By turning away from temptation, we believe we are doing something to control the future. It comes back to transactions. We sacrifice immediate pleasure, the one thing in the universe that we know is always good for us, and hope that in payment, the future will be kind to us. We plan ahead. We forget about all the things that could change between now and “then”, whenever this “then” we’re so worried about is. We deny ourselves what we want, and cower in terror.
What no one is willing to say about the afterlife
Every passing priest’s favorite topic is the life after death. No one can honestly describe what it’s like, but mortals have determined many of the basic principles. There is a sorting. Some call it a judgment; some tell tales of guides that lead souls to their final resting places directly. Whatever the case, the principle is the same, acknowledged by the faithful of all gods, save the Allhater. If you worship a god faithfully, your soul joins him after death.
The religions of “good” like to moralize on this point. The say that their gods will grant everlasting peace, tranquility, freedom, or whatever it is they think their followers want. So worship them. The “evil” gods, so they say, will only grant terrible pain. “Joining Mayacidow means an eternity of despair,” they say. “Joining Saralek means infinite slavery. Joining Yetzahara… well, that knowledge is forbidden.”
Here’s why it’s forbidden. Yetzahara is the god, not of sin, but of pleasure. He is the god of doing as thou wilt. So what is an afterlife with Yetzahara like? Nothing but pleasure. It is a land that some call the Anarchy of the Will – meaning, the place where no king nor god nor any other force can prevent you from getting your way. There, you are god.
It is obvious why the religions of the world would seek to suppress this knowledge. It violates their perfectly-balanced, transactional model of how the world works. “If you have been bad in life, your afterlife will be bad to you!” they shriek. Why do they say such things? No mystery here. It is in their interest to get you to believe what they believe. They have enslaved themselves to warped parts of their mind, and to the demands of gods they cannot truly know. They need others to validate their choices. They have to have your soul too, or else it would mean they were wrong. And, though these priests will torture themselves for it, they know that they can take advantage of their believers. Most societies grant special privileges to priests.
But you can see that, without the consequence of eternal torment as “payment”, the reasons not to do what’s best for yourself disappear. All that’s left is the truth they don’t want you to know about. The most important person in your world is you. You owe the world nothing. You deserve a life of pleasure and happiness, and it’s your right to take it. The choice, as it is in all things, is yours.