Religion is a central concept for the lives of most of Motunui's inhabitants; bustling churches can be found in each of the six cities, as well as almost every town and large village on the island. Those who live in settlements too small to support its own proper church often still practice communal worship.
The most prominent form of religion in Motunui by far is the worship of Theyil and its children. There are many variations, and different populations favour different gods to different degrees, with some excluding or denying the existence of certain gods.
Another common religious practice is ancestor worship, although it is usually viewed among those who practice it as secondary to worship of the gods.
The Motunui Creation Myth Edit
Although the details are frequently disputed, most people of Motunui share their beliefs of how the world came to be.
The creation myth starts with Theyil, said to be the incarnation of the entire universe; the heavens, the earth, and everything within, between, and thereupon. Some stories suggest that Theyil was not a being, but an event. Others say that Theyil existed for thousands of years, alone as the only thing in creation, until one day he fractured. Again the stories disagree, with some versions citing it as an accident, others suggesting that Theyil grew so tired of its lonely existence that it tore itself asunder.
The shattering of Theyil is said to be what created the universe; the stars, the sun, and the moon were flung like sparks from Theyil's cracking form. Whether or not Theyil survived this event varies across Motunui.
Papatuanuku and Rangitira Edit
The two largest shards of Theyil, greater than any other by far, were Papatuanuku and Rangitira, incarnations of the earth and the sky. Unused to being separated, they clung tightly to one another, locked in an endless embrace. In time, they had many children, all of whom were born into the cramped darkness between the bodies of their parents. As they grow, these children discussed what it would be like, to live in a world with light to see and space to move. Their discussions culminated in planning; Tumatuenga, fiercest of the children and the god of man and war, suggested they murder their parents, in order to be free of their endless and crushing embrace.
Tane Mahuta, god of the birds and the forests, suggested that it would be better to instead push their parents apart, to let Papatuanuku care for them while Rangitira becomes a stranger to them up above. Many of the children agreed, and tried to push their parents apart. Rongo, god of farming, was the first to try, and he was soon joined by Tangaroa, god of the seas, and Haumia, god of wild food.
Even their combined efforts were not enough to force their parents apart, and they soon exhausted themselves. Tane Mahuta took it upon himself to try next. He laid down on his back, pushing up with his mighty legs, straining every powerful muscle in his body, until finally he managed to separate the primordial lovers.
With twin cries of shock and loss, Papatuanuku and Rangitira were forced apart.