Caldari spirituality is the term for the religion of the Caldari people.
The Way of the Winds
Native to Caldari Prime, the Way of the Winds is the name given to the religion practiced by the Caldari since before the Raata Empire and the most common spiritual tradition in the State today. Also known as simply "The Way," this religion is a blend of animism and ancestor worship and is practiced mainly by Civire and Deteis in the State and elsewhere, though the Way is a cyclical fad in the Gallente Federation, where Gallente youth have sometimes used it as a symbol of rebellion. Such practice is considered blasphemous and disrespectful, though most Caldari tend to simply dismiss it as "Gallente being Gallente."
The Way holds that the universe was created by an amorphous "the Maker", an omnipotent force which forged the world and all in it. Believers hold that the Maker created the world in a chaotic state, and then imbued spirits into the natural forces of the universe and into those that fill it so that they could tame the chaos and create order. For Wayists, the world is seen as a test to forge the worthy, like hammering steel, and weed out the unworthy. This view is likely a relic of Caldari Prime's difficult past, when the planet was barely habitable due to incomplete terraforming. This view of the universe has also shaped the competitive and often cold nature seen among Caldari, at least to outsiders.
The Maker, however, plays little part in the day-to-day practice of the religion, as it is seen as the "catalyst" for the world's events, but has little involvement, only watching from afar. The only time the Maker might be invoked is in rituals which test fate, such as the Tea Maker Ceremony; a test to see who is worthy and who is not. In practice, it is more of a measure of strength, of course, as few consent to the Tea Maker Ceremony if they do not have to, but it is important to understand the world view that basically compels ritual suicide.
The Way does describe nature spirits, however, the most important of which are the Winds, especially Cold Wind, which features most prominently in Caldari folklore. These nature spirits are usually seen as benevolent, though they are always portrayed as taking the long view, and the wider view, commonly phrased as "the spirits watch over us, not you and me." The Winds and the other spirits serve the purposes of the Maker, helping to guide the Caldari along the path to order. These spirits do not demand worship, taking more of the role of a proud parent; as with their parents however, it is a poor Caldari which does not show them their love and respect. However, none of the spirits are ever portrayed as people, and to do so implies a great deal of disrespect; to the Caldari, to portray a spirit as a mere person is blasphemous, and implies that the person who did so considers himself on the same level as the spirits.
Though there are literally hundreds of spirits mentioned in Caldari oral tradition and written texts, here are a few of the most common. While most are closely associated with features of Caldari Prime, it is important to note that the Caldari do not consider them restricted to any one world; Cold Wind still blows on New Caldari Prime.
Cold Wind is seen as first of the Winds, the parent of all others; all the Winds have their domains, but for Cold Wind he is everywhere. Cold Wind is all the frosty air of Caldari Prime personified, the crisp, clear air with a gentle morning breeze of a Caldari winter and the punishing gales sweeping off the glaciers with the force to blow small villages right off the map. All other Winds look up to him, and work with him to shape the Caldari. To the Caldari, he was always near to them and he was the one breathed the seeds of knowledge to their ancestors. He welcomed them when they first came to the world and told them the stories of its creation. Of all the spirits, he is the closest to the Maker's will, and his love for the worthy and disappointment with the unworthy is unmatched.
Mountain Wind is the watcher of the skies and of the lands, swirling about the high peaks of world, carrying news of what he finds to the other spirits. Though a silent observer, when he speaks the other spirits listen, and Caldari would do best to listen as well; he does not waste words on trivialities. One Caldari folktale from the time just after contact with the Gallente describes him giving the first words of warning about the new visitors - "they come to tame the wind." Mountain Wind is also portrayed as the patron of scholars and historians, and has particular importance for the , which is named for the towering mountains where the Caldari believe he is strongest.
Storm Wind is the fiercest of the Winds, aside from an enraged Cold Wind, but also has a playful side, dancing among the peaks and teasing Mountain Wind. Storm Wind is the pelting rain of the mountain highlands, crackling as it turns to sleet, the flash of lightning and boom of thunder, and the smell of ozone. Storm Wind is a force of battle, of man against man and man against the elements, the hottest forge to fashion the strongest steel. Storm Wind is especially important to the Caldari military, whose funerals are often scheduled to occur in the middle of poor weather as an offering.
Wind-of-the-West comes from the Great Western Sea of Caldari Prime, and he is seen as the Wind which carries the rain to the homelands of the Caldari. The presence of Wind-of-the-West is seen in fog and gentle rains, and in the tang of salt air. A guardian of the waters, Winds-of-the-West was venerated highly by sailors and all along the west coast of the Raata Empire; in Caldari folklore, Winds-of-the-West not only taught the Caldari to sail but the ways of trade as well, making him second only to Cold Wind in the minds of modern Caldari.
Heart-of-the-Forest is the spirit of the mighty kresh trees, of things that are green and growing. The Winds protect her, but often they bring a temporary pain to her to spare a greater suffering. She is the great provider for the Caldari, her wood builds and heats their homes, her game fills their bellies and clothes their skin, and her leaves and branches hide them from their enemies. She also uses her resources wisely; everything in the forest serves a purpose, however small. Heart-of-the-Forest is perhaps the best known teacher among the spirits, aside from Cold Wind, although she rarely tells anyone anything directly, preferring to teach by example. She is prominent in Caldari beliefs about the home and hearth, and part of the reason Caldari tend to prefer wood in their buildings, especially homes.
In addition to nature spirits, the Way also highly reveres the spirits of a person's ancestors, which tend to feature more prominently in stories and beliefs regarding personal or family struggle and achievement. Most Caldari homes feature a small shrine to their ancestors, where they often burn incense and pray to their ancestors for guidance or to watch over their endeavors. The shrine can often feature pictures of recently passed or especially prominent loved ones; paintings are the preferred representation, but photographs or holographs are more common.
Ancestor spirits are commonly prayed to for more material concerns; in the past, this might have been good harvests, good fortune in battle, or the health of a loved one, but today it is just as common for Caldari to pray for good job performance or for their superiors to recognize their achievements. Prayers of this nature, however, do not ask for the ancestor spirits to intercede directly. Instead a person will ask his ancestors to lend them their strength or knowledge so that he can achieve their goals on his own.
Temples and Clergy
Most standalone temples and shrines built by the Caldari are for the veneration of one or more nature spirits, usually built in a place that that spirit is thought to hold a great deal of sway. Most tend to be very open to the elements, with tall columns surrounding an open courtyard, often with elaborate topiary gardens surrounding them. Even the smallest towns and villages usually has at least one shrine located nearby, tended by a lone steward, as Wayist monks are called. There is no organized church or hierarchy among the stewards; in general, each temple or shrine runs its own affairs and decides which applicants to take. In all but the largest shrines, most stewards will have some other job in addition to their stewardship.
The largest Wayist shrine in Caldari space, however, is the Landfall Shrine on New Caldari Prime, which is primarily for the veneration of ancestor spirits, and is of prime importance to the Caldari people. Built on the landing site of the first Kaalakiota colony ship to reach the planet more than 350 years ago, Landfall Shrine is a sprawling complex of gardens, temples, and a large necropolis, housing the anonymous tombs of more than 12,000 heroes of the Caldari State. It is the only shrine which is supported through a national endowment, and most Caldari, even those who are not Wayists, make at least one trip to the site during their lifetimes.
Wayism is not an evangelical religion, and most Caldari take it as simply a fact of the universe, not a truth to be spread. The general attitude of most Caldari to nonbelievers is that it is their right to believe in whatever god or gods they like, as Wayism is very much centered on the Caldari people themselves anyway. The Achura, and to a lesser extent the Intaki, are considered to have a different understanding of the same realities, which is one of the reasons that the Caldari were eager to incorporate both into the State. Atheist Caldari are not uncommon, and not treated with any particular scorn, though many go through the motions of Wayism purely out of cultural tradition rather than any real belief.
Death, for Wayists, represents a transition from a corporeal being to a purely spiritual one; when a man dies, he remains in the homes and hearts of his family, giving them counsel and lending them his strength. The Way holds that when fate decides it is time, there is little you can do to avoid death. While this does not keep Caldari from obtaining medical treatment - after all, the Winds would not have given the Caldari medicine if they did not intend them to use it - it does give them a fatalistic outlook on life, and this is reflected in the general acceptance of death as an inevitability to be handled, not something to be feared. Many Caldari find the notion of an idyllic afterlife, such as the Amarr concept of heaven, to be somewhat ridiculous.
Cremation is the exclusive method of burial used by Wayists (and even most secular Caldari), with the belief being that the burning of the body encourages the spirit to commit fully to his new existence. In cases where cremation is not possible (if the body has been lost or is otherwise inaccessible), a full-size effigy, usually crafted from reeds, paper, or wood, is burned and interred within a necropolis instead. Unlike in many other religious traditions, it is considered disrespectful to keep the ashes of an ancestor in one's home, essentially taunting the spirit with his former body.