Because someone asked about the religions of the other Shinobi Nations. I present to you the Gods of the Naruto World, MoS Edition.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. If I did, Sakura would've broken Sasuke's pretty face by now.
In God We Trust
1. There has never been any religious disputes on the Shinobi Continent; all things came from the Darkness, and at the end of their days, it was to the Darkness they would return.
(Because even their own personal gods, the Great Fire of Konoha and the Sky Weavers of Kumo and the Walking Torrent of Kiri and the others, all sprung from the same source. Darkness was the Mother of All, and it was from Her massive form that Life itself had come. So Darkness was Mother Darkness, and in the end, all things returned to Her, even if they came there by different roads.
2. There was also never any dispute about how life was first created.
(Ever child of the continent knows the story. Mother Darkness provided earth and wind and land to live on and water to drink, but She left creation in the hands of Those Who Came After. So the Stones Gods of Iwa crashed the rocks together to make the form, and then the Walking Torrent smoothed the edges and soothed the rough surface into soft, gentle skin. Then the Great Fire put a spark in the creation's belly for life, and the Eternal Gale of Suna breathed air into its lungs so that the spark would never go out. And then Sky Weavers looked down from up on high, and struck motion into the being with a shaft of silver lightning, and the rest is history.)
3. Each Great Nation has its own way of praying.
(Kiri nin have been known to dance in the misty forests at dawn, when the sunlight peeks through the fog and sets the tiny, clinging drops of dew alight. The inhabitants of Suna whisper prayers in their minds at the stroke of midnight, where they breathe in deep, make their prayer, and breath back out, effectively taking the Eternal Gale into their bodies and expelling it once again, this time filled with their hopes and wishes. Gaara will never know this, but Yashimaru chose to make his attempt dead on the last toll of midnight, holding his breath the whole time. He was praying, and the Eternal Gale answered his prayers. In Iwa, it is the custom to lie prone on the ground on your stomach, and then raise yourself up on your hands, like a push up. You hold the position for as long as you can, and let your energy flow down into the earth, where the Stone Gods dwell. The longer you can hold on, the tougher you are, and the more likely the Stone Gods are to answer you. In Kumo, they only pray during a thunderstorm, and even then, only when lightening splits the sky. It is said that if a person can get their wish out before the bolt fades, all their wildest dreams are sure to come true.)
4. Of all the Nations, Konoha has perhaps one of the strangest methods of prayer.
(Konoha prays with its fists. Each battle fought, each punch thrown, each step run towards a foe is a prayer. Every minute spent training is a minute in prayer. Every second spent learning jutsu is a second in prayer. Every drop of blood split, every wound gained, every enemy dead at their feet, is done in the name of the Great Fire. Konoha nin see their bodies as temples to the spark of Life the Great Fire gave all creatures. And every time they feel their Will of Fire burn, they know they are paying tribute to their God the best way they know how: By living.)
5. There are two times the people of Konoha official recognize their god.
(The second, less important one, is the Fire Festival on the fall equinox. The first is Baptism of Flames. Each child born in Fire Country makes the journey to the temple that lies beneath the Sacred Mountain, and is doused in the ritual oil, before being set aflame. There are always skilled jounin there to control the fire, and it never touches the child's skin. This ritual ensures that the child is now recognized as alive, and part of the living world, and cannot be baptized again until they pass on, and are cleansed of their earthly ties by the Great Fire. Every child born in Konoha has this done. But only shinobi have The Mark placed upon them.)
6. Konoha nin, once they pass the Genin Exam, are marked for life as being in the service of the Great Fire.
(The genin is taken once again the temple, blindfolded this time. They are stripped to their undergarments, and then have the oil painted on them by the highest ranking elders. Then their jounin sensei sets them on fire. Once the child has been completely covered by the fire, the flames dwindle and concentrate on one area. The oil is then painted over that area in a certain symbol, and that symbol is then burned onto the skin of the ninja. It is very painful, but any shinobi of Konoha will be glad to show off their mark.)
7. Since the start of the village, only one person has ever gotten out of this ritual, and that is Uzumaki Naruto.
(This is because Naruto has been marked since birth. As he lay there as an infant, squalling and red faced, the fox shifted and readjusted itself to its new home. And Naruto screamed for two days as a result. Later, when Kakashi tried to burn the kanji for 'determination' onto Naruto's shoulder, the mark kept fading, no matter what he did or how hot he made the fire. After four tries, the jounin just gave up, figuring the fox was healing the burns too fast for them to take hold. He was half right. The Kyuubi was healing the burns, but not just because. The King of the Tailed Beasts had already marked the boy. One of the symbols on the seal, at the very centre, is painted over a pinkish burn that no one can really see. It is a word in the ancient Tongues of Fire, which the Kyuubi spoke, because it is a god and it too, was born of Mother Darkness. In the Language of the First Ones, the writing reads 'one who will change'. Kyuubi meant that it would change Naruto into a monster. Unfortunately for it, things don't turn out that way at all.)
8. Ino's mark is 'beautiful flower'.
(She spends most of her early life being very proud of her mark. Not only is she destined for great beauty, but she is a fully bloomed flower, lovely and enticing and probably poisonous. She believes she is destined to be a great kunoichi, who will make waves and redefine her profession with grace and style. She believes this right up until a furious, white lined Sakura shoves her out of the girl's mind with a ringing 'Shannaro!'. There is a beat of stunned silence, and Ino wonders how in the hell Sakura ever managed to overcome the Yamanaka prized technique. And then, on Sakura's right side, just where her skin is bared right before her chest meets her shoulder, Ino sees her mark. 'Steel', and Ino wonders just which one of them will make waves. In the end, Sakura wrecks a training ground with one punch, and Ino is too happy for her friend to be bitter. Much.)
9. Each of the Rookie Nine and Team Gai got well-suited marks.
(Shikamaru's is 'Leader'; Chouji's is 'True Friendship'; Kiba's is 'Wolf', which sometimes gets the joke 'Papa Wolf' when he get protective of his little cousins, and Shino's is 'Omnicient'. Lee's is 'Never Surrender', Tenten's is 'Forge' and Neji's is 'Freedom'. Hinata's is 'Lioness', and no one in the Hyuuga Clan can understand why, but Neji gets a hint when Hinata hauls herself to her feet to face him when she should be dead. Naruto's is 'Changeling' or 'Changer', depending on who you ask. Sakura's is 'Steel'. Only Sasuke, of them all, received an odd one. His mark is 'Brother', and while he believes it's a testament to his vengeance on Itachi – and later, his vengeance on behalf of Itachi- only his elder brother knew the truth. It means Sasuke was a brother to the ninja of Konoha, and a son of the dancing leaves. It meant that Sasuke is Naruto's brother, destined to fight him, and maybe, just maybe, Naruto will be able to save him. Naruto is the Changer, after all.)
10. In all the Great Nations, there have been a few individuals who have been blessed by their gods.
(Haku was blessed by the Walking Torrent. The snow falling the day he died were the tears of the Torrent, who was crying for the child it accidentally cursed. Gaara is blessed by the Eternal Gale, because it chose not to answer the prayer in Yashimaru's mind, but in his heart, and Gaara lived. The Gale watched the boy carve 'love' onto his forehead, and wondered if it would ever apply to the world. Raikage-sama is blessed by the Sky Weavers, and that is how he became the Raikage. The oddest blessing is that Deidara was blessed by the Stone Gods. His death was forever a blow to them. Surprisingly enough, it's Lee and Sakura who are bless by the Great Fire. Lee, because he prays so hard every day, and Sakura, because her punches can level mountains, and her Will has burned the brightest on three separate occasions: Once when she cut her hair in the Forest of Death; once, when she promised Naruto she'd help him the next time they went after Sasuke; and once, when she threw herself between Sasori's sword and Chiyo, and allowed herself to be run through. Secretly, everyone in Konoha believes that Naruto is one of the Blessed, but that would be wrong.)
11. Naruto isn't blessed by any god- he walks blessed by Mother Darkness herself.
(Naruto is a catalyst, an unyielding aspect of change that arrives, alters, and leaves. He is the one who cries for Haku. He is the one who shows Gaara the truth. He is the one who begs the Raikage for Sasuke's life. He is the one who fights Deidara. He both befriends Lee, and inspires Sakura. And he, Mother Darkness has decided, is the one who will restore balance to a world that is tilting dangerously on the edge of the abyss. So Naruto is blessed by the mother of all life, and walks with both Her faith in him, and Her last, greatest child sealed away in his belly. Because that is the trump card no mortal being knows about.)
12. Jiraiya was the only person who came close to figuring it out-Kyuubi is more than just a demon. It's a demon god.
(Kyuubi is the last of the Nine Gatekeepers who watch over Hell. It is the Lord of the Ninth Gate, the King of the Tailed Beasts, the Ruler of the Damned, Its Infernal Majesty Kyuubi, and it has chosen to mark a human boy. Regardless of its intentions, Naruto is marked by a Demon Lord Divine, and if Madara ever hopes to recreate the Jubi that Mother Darkness created the Sage of Sixth paths to combat – it may have been Her child, but things were dangerously close to falling apart, and Mother Darkness made a choice-, he'll have more than a little trouble when it comes to the Kyuubi.)
13. Because Naruto is god-marked and Darkness-blessed.
(And he is the Changer, and there is no force on earth capable of stopping him. And every person who has ever met him knows this. But only the Blessed have a vague idea of why.)
I hope you enjoyed it.