Dionysos (Psi5 Aurigae II)

Dionysos and pan
Image from Steve Bowers
Dionysos and its moon Pan

Dionysos - Data Panel

System:Psi 5 Aurigae
Primary:The star is locally known as Eros.
Planet:Psi 5 Aurigae II (Dionysos)
Planet Type:originally Eogaian, terraformed to Eugaian
Distance from Primary:1.09 AU
Diameter:11,291 kilometres
Density:1.1 times Earth
Gravity:0.955 g
Day:the day 28 hours long (generally handled by a long siesta).
Year:1.12 earth-years or 349 Dionysos-days
Timekeeping:The day is 28 earth hours long, divided into 12 daylight and 12 night hours of variable length. The year is measured in the Earth way. The year is 349.65 days long (1.12 Earth years), divided into 12 29 day months and an extra 'holy weekend'.
Axial Tilt:31 degrees (strong seasonal shifts)
Satellite:Dionysos has a 4473 kilometres satellite (named John the Baptist, renamed Pan) in a 700,000 kilometres orbit.
Other Planets:There are 12 other planets in the system, named after astrological signs.
Geography and Climate:Just 30% of the surface are water, major deserts, mountainous plateaus and savannas dominate the rest. In the northern deserts there are several major craters and crater lakes from meteor impacts. There is significant geological activity in some areas, such as the dramatic Backbone Range separating the Orpheus and Silenus seas and the earthquake-prone Tigris rift valley. Near the north pole the Northern Labyrinth spreads out, a huge canyon field several thousand kilometres across. Most ocean lies on the southern hemisphere in a series of linked seas surrounding the continent Eden where most of the colony is located. The colony is located on the eastern shores of Eden, where it meets the Bacchus sea (formerly known as Gennesaret), around 30 degrees south of the equator.

The temperature varies strongly between summer and winter due to the uneven distribution of land and high axial tilt. During summers the planet experiences persistent hot dry winds from the northern deserts; many go to sea islands to escape the heat. In the winter moist southerlies bring rain to the northern deserts and the blooms become even greater. Along canyons and in other places where mountains or hills block them, the winds can become tremendously fierce and form small storms remaining in place for weeks. Especially famous are the Valley of the Jinn, a monumental valley where a cliff produces a long series of dramatic dust devils that dance along the length of the valley for most of the late summer.

The linked southern seas stretch out to the north along the Tigris onto the great northern plains. During the northern winter the Iceswamps freeze and the Dry Sea dries out, becoming an immense salt desert. As the northern summer arrives, the Iceswamps remain frozen and block the water from the south seas from reaching the Dry Sea - until they break up and in a matter of weeks the basin is flooded. This causes noticeable and irregular shifts in sea level across Dionysos, as well as making the Tigris even more risky to sail - in addition to earthquakes and persistent storms there are huge bore waves during the icebreak season. The Tigris opens into the Uriel Sea at Heaven's Gate, a place famous for the dramatic storms and tidal waves than fight each other.
Symbol:A wine branch. The Edenists sometimes use a cross surrounded by a circle of wines and grapes.
Affiliation:Communion of Worlds
Colonized:2941 AT
Psyche, Art, Culture Aesthetic Style: Some of the Communion Edenists prefer total nudity, but most Dionysians are clothed. Light, practical but ideally extravagant or personal in some way, be it an expensive cut, feathers or producing some fragrance. While a fad in drugged clothing was locally popular following a NeoBacchists (Anarchic Reform Fringe) revival some years ago (and still given to visitors for the fun effects), the authorities banned it following complaints and it is rather uncommon these days.
Emigrationabout 5% per tenyear, all vectors
Economy:free-market
Hazard Rating: 0.0 to 3.0
Visa Restrictions:Virtually none
Freedom of Movement :Tourism is encouraged, there are little restrictions of movement
Environmental Requirements: Dionysos and most orbitals are baseline hu compatible

Dionysos map
Image from Anders Sandberg

The Christian Founders

Dionysos (formerly Jerusalem) was colonised by the United Christian New Jerusalem Association, an alliance of several American Christian fundamentalist churches that formed in 505 to take advantage of the nanotech window during the early 6th century a.t., and one of the very few Old Christian missions known to have succeeded. The UCNJA included a number of technocrats among their number, and were sufficiently Net and Nano savvy to make use of the free assemblers to create spacecraft, using plans that were by now freely available on the Internet. While most fundamentalists believed the social chaos was a prelude to the Second Coming, and wanted nothing to do with this evil technology, the UCNJA proclaimed that the Earth was corrupt and doomed to have Satan run the place freely, but the faithful could be saved by travelling to the new Jerusalem, thanks to the gift that God had provided for them in the form of assemblers and starship blueprints.

Like all the amateur space colonisers of the time, fuel was in limited supply. Bumbling attempts by the Space Cowboys to attack the amat solar orbitals and depots, as well as attacks by various extremist paramilitary groups on government installations, had resulted in trigger-happy national authorities and the amat megacorps being given carte blanche in matters of protecting their property.

In the end the UCNJA struck a deal with the amat subsidiary Aimstar Technologies, chosen because it was the only corporation dealing in amat that had a Christian CEO, the famous Baptist Cyborg Athol Barent III (even if Barent's version of Christianity differed from that of the UCNJA - he had notable Universalist and Transhumanist tendencies they found misguided). Under these accords, the UCNJA would be choose the planet of their choice, while Aimstar Technologies could have ownership of the rest of the system. The system Psi 5 Aurigae was chosen, as the nearest unclaimed Solar System; at a distance of 48.5 light years, and travelling at approximately 0.12 c, the journey would last almost 450 years.

Following a number of trial flights, the UCNJA launched Ave Deo in 527. It arrived at Psi 5 Aurigae, a sun-type star with a resource rich system, in 941. Fully a third of the colonists did not survive hypersleep (this was a common problem of the time, when hypersleep technology was still in its infancy). The ship chaplains said that "they were already with Christ..." (some whispered that they had been unworthy and barred entrance to the system). A few scattered messages from the Sol System revealed what the UCNJA leadership had suspected - God's punishment to the sinful (including other religions) had taken place and only a few had been spared.

The pilgrims had fully expected to find an Edenic garden world waiting for them, as part of God's bounty to His new Chosen People. Instead they found a system that was completely devoid of organic life, with some worlds and moons already claimed by AIs that were not at all like the friendly ai of SolSys, and which also seem to be connected to a larger number of mysterious diamondoid structures the colonists called "chalices" scattered both on the surface and in interplanetary space. The only half-reasonable option was the second planet from the sun, It was a lifeless world about the size and temperature of Earth, with a reducing atmosphere not unlike Earth during the prebiotic early Precambrian, and only a few small structures on the surface, that the colonists christened Jerusalem.

Terraforming was instituted, but it was clear there was not enough water and that it would be necessary to make several comets and ice moons crash onto the planet. The Aimstar representatives had minor expertise, but any idea of using small packages of amat as explosive charges to alter a comet's orbit would not work because they lacked the equipment to build the necessary device.

There was the further difficulty of having to avoid those worlds and worldlets occupied by ai, and a few halo objects that were occupied by Backgrounders. Fortunately the ai proved non-aggressive, apart from a single attempt to salvage one of the diamondoid "chalices", which resulted in those involved being disassembled by khaki goo. After that the colonists left the "satanic" structures alone, certain that God in His wisdom would soon reveal Himself and rid them of these abominations once and for all

Nevertheless terraforming micro-organisms were seeded into the carbon dioxide and methane atmosphere of Jerusalem. The colonists had no option but to remain in cramped confines, and set up a secondary base on a number of carbonaceous asteroids in the system's inner belt (these were named after Old Testament prophets).

The colony quickly ran into trouble as the confined environment took its toll, the ship's life-support system proved inadequate to ensure the health of such large numbers of people over an extended period, the extended microgravity was bad for everyone's health (as these were baselines, not Space Adapted Humans). One of their habitation modules (and everyone inside) was without warning attacked and disassembled by one of the "chalices", and there was talk of a "Holy Crusade" against these Instruments of the Evil One, but the voices of reason prevailed, and the idea was abandoned

The prospect of moving to a new star was not an option; there was not enough amat left. Nor were the Backgrounders keen in helping, or having anything to do with the inner system (which only reinforced the colonists opinions of these heathen cryoborgs). Some success was made with the successful alteration of the orbits of several passing comet using shaped nuclear charges so they would crash on Jerusalem, but it was clear that terraforming would take centuries, if it happened at all. Several bases, named after old Testament Prophets, were established on Jerusalem's moon, John the Baptist, which had become a command center with terraforming attempts, and a few outposts were set up on some of the those few carbonaceous asteroids that had not already been claimed by the AIs. Over the years, several different factions began to quarrel over allocation of resources. Base Issiah kept most of the limited resources, and members of the other colonies came down with repeated viral infections. By 945 the Jacob-Micah-Jonas alliance were launching occasional raids on Issiah, and the following year three colonists were killed in an unfortunate attempt to seize a number of oxygen tanks. In 947 the Ecumenical Council seized power, persuading, cajoling or forcing everybody to accept their authority. The Council instituted roving proctors to guard the colony and keep the faithful safe. Gradually a theocratic society developed, where the Council ironed out doctrinal differences. Strict punishments and group pressure were used to keep everybody in line, and most people not just accepted this but found it necessary.




Arrival of the Genetekkers

In 980 the genetekker Dionysist clade arrived, in the He-3 powered ship Rabelais. They had launched in the late 4th century, as part of the Gengineer Republic's initiative to colonise deep space. Following the typical Genetekker approach they had not used hypersleep but instead travelled in a "generation ship", distracting themselves from the claustrophobia in a life of psychotropic and erotic pleasure, and long periods of hibernation.

The Dionysists' arrival is sent shockwaves through the community. It was bad enough to contend with the isolationist ai, but the colonists had learned that as long as they kept a sufficient distance from these devil-seeds they were generally safe (apart from the odd habitat being claimed for building materials). The Backgrounders were just a minor distraction, and in any case kept to themselves. But the Genetekkers were something else again. The Christians had always regarded the Genetekkers as licentious pagans (which indeed some of them were!) and agents of the Devil. This was the very worst thing that could happen to them! It seemed as if God Himself had passed them from His favour, or - according to the Jonas faction, were testing them like He tested Job.

The presence of both the UCNJA and the isolationist ai structures, was equally disquieting to the genetekkers. They wanted to make a new start in a new system, and here they were confronted with knuckle-dragging bigots who had fast-tracked them on their way to the new life (the crew of the Rabelais had actually detected the Ave Deo passing them and had sent out narrowbeam transmission on all wavelengths but received no reply beyond a simple robot acknowledgement message).

At first the Genetekkers were happy for the Christians to have Jerusalem and its moon, as long as they could have the what rest of the system the ai had avoided exploiting. The UCNJA wanted none of that. This was to be a Christian Solar System, not a place for fornicators and sinners! Moreover, the UCNJA corporate rep informed them that under Cis-Lunar Law the entire Psi 5 Aurigae system was owned by Aimstar Technologies

Annoyed at this arrogance, and not recognising CisLunar Law anyway, the Genetekkers said in that case they also claim the planet Jerusalem - or Dionysus as they renamed it, as an experiment in Earth-type living, and they refused to accept any UCNJA or megacorp authority.

For a while it seemed like open warfare might result, with total loss of life on one or both sides. But sanity prevailed and a compromise was reached between moderates of both camps, and following a tense series of meetings an arrangement was drawn up - the Issiah Accords. In exchange for Dionysists help in terraforming Jerusalem, the Christian's retained that world, its moon, and the two dozen moons and asteroids they had established bases on. The Dionysists kept the rest of the system, with the outer halo bodies to be divided between them. It was to be some centuries before the Christians actually realised what they had become involved in.




The early First Federation Period and the Dionysian Coup

For the next few centuries the two groups had only minimal contact, with many Christian factions refusing to live on the slowly terraforming Jerusalem at all, considering Dionysists to be the embodiment of pure evil. These space dwelling Christians remained on John the Baptist, and were referred to as the Baptists. Meanwhile the small isolated asteroid bases began developing their own brand of Christianity. The Dionysians meanwhile began constructing large ecohabitats, gradually accessing the resources of the Psi 5 Aurigae system

In the late 10th century Dionysist sensor arrays began detecting broadbeam transmissions from Sol, and realised that civilisation had not perished after all. To their disquiet they found it was not a genetekkerese society but a more cisluneran one that seemed to be emerging. The communicated the news to Jerusalem. The news sent shockwaves through the Christian community. For four hundred years they had been taught that they were God's chosen elect and the survivors of humanity. Some thought it was trick (even after they had confirmed the signals with their own apparatus, others decided to stay isolationist even after the inevitable arrival of this new Federation.

When the Federation was detected, the Dionysians began to prepare for its arrival, making sure they would have tradeable stuff and a strong diplomatic position to start from.

In 1151 the first Federation ship, the Interstellar Development Group exploration and terraforming vessel Morgan arrived. Although some diplomatic exchange was established between all parties, and the corporation was allocated one of the rocky inner planets in exchange for respecting the territory of the Christian and the Dionysist communities. More ships and colonists began to slowly arrive over the next century or so, while Dionysian ideas added to the great Federation renaissance.

Problems for the Christians were just beginning. By 1250 the Christian leadership on the now terraformed Jerusalem discovered the Dionysists' plot, cleverly planted during the Issiah Accords. The geneered trees that the Dionysians had used to establish pioneer terrestrial ecosystems on Jerusalem, called "Jacob trees" because of the superficial similarity to similar trees from old Earth, had now been found to contain various psychoactive substances in their crown ecologies. The Christians realised, too late, that the trees were actually modified and disguised versions of the popular Genetekker neogen Learidendron timothi. Illicit use had been spreading despite strict punishments for discovery. A few of the users began to celebrate Dionysian and Genetekker rites in the secret clearings, and the practice spread. The planetary Dionysian movement, like Genetekker culture in general, worshipped life, the enjoyment of the world and throwing off all restrictions of Jerusalem. As the proctors found out, they cracked down on the pagans. But resistance grew, helped and funded by the Dionysian demes and ecohabitats, and more people joined the movement (including many Christians, the Edenists, who embraced the view that this was Eden and intended to be enjoyed). As the situation developed, the Dionysians provided the planetary pagans with arms, and they began to sabotage Council operations, free imprisoned members and generally act as a guerrilla. In 1299 push came to shove, and after a violent attack against a demonstration for religious freedom the Dionysians attacked the proctors and Council. After a fairly bloodless coup they were in power, although the situation in the colony was chaotic. They proclaimed religious and political freedom, and began to dismantle the technological control apparatus of the Council. Many of the hardcore fundamentalists retreated to the Sinai valley, where they formed new communities, some of which were to persist until the late First Federation age. Others departed for Issiah base, John the Baptist. Jerusalem, now renamed Dionysos, established friendly links with the space-dwelling Genetekkers, and the entire system became a stronghold for a hedonist movement.

The decades after the coup were the Dionysian renaissance. With the exception of the holdouts on John the Baptist and a few planetary Christian enclaves, the whole system was united in a society in which Art, pleasure, technology and society advanced with leaps and bounds, optimism and creativity flourished. The colony grew and changed, despite occasional conflicts with the Sinai communities and the Christian moon and asteroid colonies. But on the whole social change was positive. The fundamentalist-censored archives had forced researchers to make plausible deductions, but now they could finally be checked against the real thing. In a flash millennia of terrestrial culture, history and science became available.

The remaining orthodox Christians in the Sinai Valley termed themselves the Jesurun, meaning the righteous people. They were clannish, hostile to outsiders and generally wanted to be left alone. The valley was a plain farming community, with a few small factories and robot hives to sustain it; most of the time nothing ever happened. Despite (or maybe due to) this, occasionally zealous young men committed acts of sabotage or terrorism against the devil-worshipping sinners outside their valley. In the community the preachers and Elders were the power; preachers spread the holy word and act as supervisors, while the Elders oversaw the health of the entire community. The community was finally abandoned in 1780. It was bought up by local interests representing the Federation megacorp Total Real Life Entertainment, where it was made into a kind of Horror Show Theme Park, where people could see what it was like to be talk to and even be beaten up by real life religious bigots (carefully programmed subturingrade replicants). The Theme Park is still in use to this day (being reconstructed during the ComEmp period after centuries of use as a garbage dump), and is currently managed by a local family who had to tone down the aggression factor of the replicants following some unfortunate accidents and resulting legal action.




Dionysos becomes a major regional power

During the next few centuries the few remaining Christian fundamentalists gradually left the system, migrating to other Old Christian worlds (the Christian communities of New America were popular and received a large influx) or moving outward to attempt to found new colonies, none of which seem to have been successful. With the departure of the Christians the moon John the Baptist was formerly called Pan (the Dionysians had been calling it Pan for some time, but it was still registered as John the Baptist in some older catalogues)

Meanwhile the Edenist Church developed from those very liberal Christians who decided to remain in the system and adapt to the Dionysian life. They combined the hedonistic/neopagan ideas of the early revolutionaries with Christianity. The church remained fairly informal, with congregations led by local preachers and a bishop representing the church elected by the preachers at an annual meeting.

In 1510 Pan Interstellar was founded, as the system's first interstellar trade and travel company, owned by several Dionysian organisations and companies as a joint venture with Leonides Spaceways. Complete with large shipyard and docking faculties, it soon began regular contact with the rest of the galaxy, first using amat-fusion and then, in the following centuries as the technology became available, conversion drive relativistic vessels, with passenger services and trade (especially for new drugs and experiences).

This period revolutionised Dionysos. There was huge influx of new settlers (enamoured by the stories of bohemian idealism propagated by the megacorps selling real estate on the asteroids and outsystem), new industry, technology, and new ideas flooded in. Over time the Dionysians for the most part become enamoured with outsider cultures and the wealth and knowledge they brought, and many speak of a second renaissance.




The Dionysian Erotocracy

Throughout the 16th and 17th century, as the Federation began to ossify into an increasingly centralised and impotent bureaucratic Colonialism centered on the Sol System, both the megacorps and the local colonies began establishing empires and fiefdoms. Dionysian ideas spread widely, and, thanks to careful memetic engineering and arrangements with some of the big erotech and entertaintech megacorps were soon established on a number of colonies.

It was during this period that the Erotocracy developed. As the name implies, love is the guiding principle - not in the traditional Christian agape sense but more erotic, more based on desire and pleasure. This was a federation based on the maximisation of individual pleasure - instead of the pursuit of happiness (in the Aristotelian sense) it was the pursuit of pleasure.

With increasing industrialisation, the Dionysian Erotocracy was able to send out large relativistic and sub-relativistic vessels to nearby star systems, most of which were fairly sparsely populated red dwarf systems. Everywhere the Dionysian's went they established habitats. Within a century they had a good presence in a radius of some 20 LY around Psi 5 Aurigae, with further colonies reaching out along the main trade routes, and a Mutual Trade, Exchange and Defence Alliance with the powerful Arcadian Hegemony.

Among the important systems the Erotocracy attempted to subvert was New Gaia (Lambda Aurigae IV), the closest major colony to Dionysos. From the mid 16th to the 18th century, the Erotocracy was a major player among the megacorps arriving in and developing the system, and Edenist missionaries were active on New Gaia. This caused a lot of local resentment in that system. While Lambda Aurigae never became a formal part of the Erotocracy, it was clearly part of the sphere of interest. When the Caretaker God known as "Rachel" (after an Old Earth atomic age ecologist) arrived the Erotocracy lost the political power, but memetically it remained, and to this stardate there are Edenist communities in habitats around the system and various enviro-hedonist movements.

On some worlds the Erototic principles led to pharmacracy and even in a few cases rule by brain stimulation (such as the 1342 Capricorni system).




The Decline of the Erotocracy

Dionysian culture itself was not without its problems. As early as the late Federation era the Erotocracy was beginning to loose its lustre. It became bogged down in routine, addiction problems, megacorporate subversion, intercolony rivalry, and forced enthusiasm. Many began to strive for greater authenticity, and many took inspiration from the various orthodox communities encountered in other star systems and colonies. An interest in mysticism and psychology spread, and in the 1700s the basics of psychodesign were developed: mental techniques combined with drugs and therapy allowing people to modify their personalities, values and views at will. Not only that, the neuropsychology of religious conversion and mystical insight was understood.

This discovery turned out to be surprisingly disruptive to the Erotocracy. When values and personalities can be changed, what is certain? What to base society on? While some colonies and habitats ignored the situation, among others doubt crept in. Some Dionysians revelled in it, regarding this as the total freedom. Others wanted to keep psychodesign within reasonable limits; a society cannot work if people change personality too freely. The early 1800's were a time of confusion, conflicts and warring ambitions, often called the "Big Mess".

As the Big Mess occurred, and shockwaves spread throughout the empire, the erotocracy broke down. At Dionysos and some other system the Psych Police helped restore one kind of order, elsewhere other solutions were reached. Many worlds, colonies, and habitats seceded to go their own way, while others, although remaining a loyal part of the Erotocracy, still had their own slant on things that differed markedly from that preferred at Dionysos Prime. As the Communion empaths began to really influence things and the Utopia Sphere and Zoeific Biopolity grew, many worlds joined them.

During this period, the Erotocracy was replaced by more formal institutions.

The Orphic Society was also formed at this time, as an academic/professional society for psychodesigners and related groups has a significant power. It was among other things responsible for setting ethical standards for psychodesign (a highly nontrivial process in a fluid society like Dionysos) and educating new psychodesigners (most undergo first medical school or basic psychology studies, followed by some years of psychodesign education and practice).

The Psych Police was an independent force not dealing with crimes but with mental states. Their purpose was to prevent people getting stuck in bad mental states, insanity and addiction. For this reason they regularly auditioned all Dionysians, checking their state and often placing them in a rational, objective mode of thinking where they can evaluate their lives. The Psych Police consisted of psychodesigners and counsellors, but is strictly independent of the Orphic society. One of the most ironic and far-reaching effects of the Psych Police was the formative influence their methodology played in the Negentropist AIMHEM

Empath immigrants also became increasingly established on Dionysos, where their easy manner and superior psychological stability allowed them to gain greater influence. They worked closely with Psychodesigners and the Psych police, but were resented by groups like the Tixotroph.

The "tixotrophs", radicals who espoused free personality and value modification remained, but as a small minority. The Tixotroph Fluid was the "organisation" of the tixotrophs. They lived in their own enclaves and settlements, where they indulge in unrestricted psychodesign. Tixotrophs changed so much and so often that it is hard to speak of individuality among them; they are somewhat isolated from the rest of society and not very trusted. The Fluid was however an important source of uncontrolled psychodesign services (to the irritation of the Orphic Society and Psych Police), as well as various more bizarre entertainment.

The rest, including many former orthodox, regarded psychodesign as useful and healthy, but only when rationally considered. Social norms of how to handle self-transformation evolved, and it became a natural part of life for most. The growing influence of empath ideas, fashion, and memes were visible everywhere, and psychodesign became increasing empathised. The influence went both ways however, because the local empaths were also subverted by Dionysian and old erotocratic memes.

Society during the this period was very distinctive. Since values, personality and even the body can be changed, the only truly unique thing about a person is his experiences. Hence experiencing new things is the key to true personal growth, the rest is just tools for this experience. If somebody intrudes on somebody else's experiences, he limits or forces the other person -- each person must be allowed freedom to change his consciousness, but not to change other's without their permission. However, it is possible to trap oneself in a static state (e.g. by becoming rigidly religious, trapped in bliss or psychosis) and for this the rule must be changed. The "psych police" (an organisation directly overseen by the colony council and independent from the ordinary police) was allowed to modify other's mental states without their consent, in order to bring a trapped person to a state where he can think about his situation in a flexible, rational way. While this works well in practice (the psych police mainly help addictions, cases of erroneous psychodesign or self-reinforcing memes), it leads to some problems when dealing with the fundamentalists: are they to be modified so that they can come to understand the full image of their religious views and lives, or should they be left alone? There have been many debates over this, but the general consensus is that the psych police should only deal with the citizens of Dionysos proper, trying to convert everybody would become a never-ending crusade.




The Expansion and Interstellar Empires Ages

By the early 21st century a.t. things had settled down. Dionysos joined Communion, and in 2310 the first Wormhole Link was established between the Psi 5 Aurigae system and Heartland. Over the following few centuries links was also established with Sol, Arcadia, Atlantis, and a number of other Inner Sphere systems.

During this time, Dionysian society was dominated by a mainstream with strong Dionysian-Edenist and Dionysian-Empathist leanings; they were not actual believers but have a semi-religious appreciation of life, and the empathics were not real empaths but rather Dionysians who had incorporated empath ideas and interpersonal dynamics and given them their own slant. Most people underwent gradual psychodesign to become "fully themselves", generally rational, pleasant, social, stable people, and quick changes to suit the situation. There were minorities and immigrants, especially in some of the orbitals and habitats established on the various moons and asteroids. There were also the orthodox naturalist Dionysians who disliked both empaths and psychodesign, and the tixotrophs, who seemed with their radical approach to alienate everyone. Most of these minority clades lived in isolated communities, either planetside or offworld. Mental techniques were common, ranging from self-hypnotic modifications to building daimons, semi-independent subpersonalities that could act in parallel with the main person. People often changed names to better suit their present selves, and have nicknames others use when referring to them.

Among the new clades that developed during this time, the Desert Dancers were a movement of nature-mystics who have moved into the remote northern deserts to commune with "God-nature". They employed many traditional means of altering consciousness such as fasting, meditation, prayer and exhausting dancing, eschewing all forms of psychodesign except an "initiation" into the movement. This initiation made all members psychologically very similar, nearly mental clones of each other.

The Grail Keepers guarded Grail Lake, a crater lake in the equatorial drylands where iron oxide turns the water blood red. The lake is an oasis in the desert, a perfect circle of crimson surrounded by lush vegetation. The original Christian colonists saw it as a sign, a symbol of Christ's blood, and built a major chapel on the shore. Today the lake is still viewed as sacred by all the Dionysian religions, both the Reformed Communion of Eden (much derived descendants of the old Edenists), the Dionysians (who see it as a symbol of the lifegiving blood/wine of Dionysos) and even groups like the Tixotrophs (who saw it as a symbol for the "human liquid" of changing identities). From the beginning this led to several conflicts, and during the days of the early colony the Jesurun fundamentalists saw it as blasphemy to allow other groups access to the sacred water. Formed after the Eoster Attack in 3259, the Grail Keepers are an ecumenical order instituted to guard and protect the lake, trying to negotiate access for everyone. They remain to this day one of the oldest surviving organisations in the star system, even if their role has been merely ceremonial for many centuries.

Dionysos surface
Image from Anders Sandberg
The Valley of the Jinn, a monumental valley where a cliff produces a long series of dramatic dustdevils that dance along the length of the valley for most of the late summer



The Second Federation and After

By the middle Interstellar Empires Age, Dionysian society had reached its present form. Empath Psychodesign ensured psychological health, although the Psych Police were never disbanded, since there was always be the occasional mishap, atavism or tourist in need of saving. Instead it largely became a sinecure. Gone were the wild experiments of the earlier period. The Tixotrophs and other extreme clades, as well as most of the old style Dionysists, migrated to the new worlds in the Zoeific Biopolity and elsewhere, intending to set up their own utopias or tried to revive the dream of what Dionysos and the Erotocracy originally was.

During the Version War, despite neutrality, the system was occupied by a succession of great powers on both sides. The situation was prevented from ever reaching crisis point by the skilled machinations of empath diplomats. The occupiers, fearing memetic and pharmacological subversion, kept to their ships, not even establishing the usual garrisons, and, apart from the shutting down and partial dismantling of the stargates to prevent their use or sabotage by the warring factions, no lasting harm was done.

Since the Second Federation period, Dionysos has been home to the Institute of Hedonic Engineering. The Institute developed from the old Orphic Society. Over time it has accumulated many odd ceremonies, like any other academic association.

To this date Dionysos remains one of the least changed worlds just due to the fluidity - people change all the time, but society is stable. But while the planet itself is still pretty distinctive and retains some of the old Dionysian tradition (even if nowhere like in the old days), the rest of the system - apart from a few outposts and habitats of isolationist clades - is rather less eccentric, and not unlike any other part of the uniform cultural diversity that can be found anywhere throughout the civilised galaxy.




Language

Adam: A skilled and sexual man. Positive term, the counterpart of Lilith. ("Adams and Lilithi" is the Dionysian version of "Ladies and gentlemen")
Asmodeus: Somebody with a haughty, arrogant or otherwise unpleasant personality. Either very bad form, a Belial or a strong style statement.
Babylon The rest of the universe. Originally a negative term, today a positive term among Dionysians.
Being horned: Being active, in control of oneself.
Belial: A daemon that has destructive effects on the owner.
Book of Life: One's experiences.
Carnalization: To place somebody in the here-and-now, usually by drugs, sex or pain, to remove abstract thinking.
Cassia: Pleasantly smelling (but not narcotic) herbs and substances.
Death Forward: Changing so much that one becomes essentially a new person, loosing whatever made the original person unique. Common among the Tixotrophs.
Demon, Daimon: Independent subpersonality
Drunk Intoxicated with drugs (not necessarily just alcohol)
Flowering When the landscape blooms. Widely celebrated (a bit like the Japanese cherry blossom festival). Also used to denote when psychodesign, the environment and a person "latches together" to create fantastic performance.
Efod: The traditional linen clothing worn by psychodesigners and the psych police. Used to denote signs of authority.
Eternal Joy: Traditional greeting among orthodox Dionysians and Edenists, regarded as old-fashioned by most people, who shorten it to enjoy ("Enjoy! Great to see you! how is the fishing these days?").
Gratias: A synthetic drug which induces an undirected feeling of gratitude in the recipient; used in some Edenist eucharists.
Happy Harry: Somebody with a permanently cheerful and positive mood.
High Priest/Priestess: The leaders of Dionysian rites.
Hosanna: Common greeting
Kalmus: Stimulant extracted from certain saprophytes in the highest trees.
Loveapples: Aphrodisiac prepared from a variety of psychoactive substances. Common gift in the form of small "apples" with sexual drawings.
Lilith: A skilled and sexual woman. Positive term, the counterpart of Adam.
Milk and Honey: Food and drugs, things that are not necessary for survival but for a pleasant life.
Mindstyle Ones style of mind, like preferred personalities and values.
Myrrh: Local drug, extracted from the sap of some tree species. Used in salves or smoked; the effects are not unlike terrestrial marijuana or opium depending on the species.
Nazarene: Edenist
Nasir: Somebody who has devoted oneself completely to something. Originally religious zealots, but also used for people who due to psychodesign develop obsessive personalities. Slightly derogatory.
Orphean: Formal term for psychodesigners, often shorted to Orf ("What's up, orf?")
Possession: When a demon becomes a dominant personality.
Rebirth: To either start with a new personality, or a very through and deep cleansing.
Tixotroph: Somebody changing personality and traits so often that they are nearly fluid. Generally regarded as overwriting their Book of Life. (there are no original Tixotrophs remaining insystem, but the term is still used for any extreme or Tixotroph-like behaviour or technique)

 
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg and M. Alan Kazlev

Initially published on 17 November 2000.