At The Ending Was The Word

Thirty-Six Paths of Illumination, the (n.): A memetic mystery cult designed for the Imperial Exploratory Service by the Word of Command, ICC, the Thirty-Six Paths are designed as a means of handling severe cases of exodeism (q.v.).

In many cases, when primitive species conclude that it is necessary and proper to worship the “Shining Ones”, the “Great Star Gods”, or other such epithets, creative theology leads them to conclude that denials of divinity are merely a test for them, or indicative of avatar incarnation, or some such. In such cases, extreme denials or proof of non-divinity tend to cause severe backlash, societal disruption, and cultural implosion is not unknown, leaving aside the consequences for the unwilling gods.

Thus, the Thirty-Six Paths of Illumination are intended as a pathway to slowly and carefully wean exodeists and their societies from their faith in a manner designed to minimize the resulting personal alathkh√°ln and societal consequences; a thirty-sixth level adept of the Paths is fully aware of the reality of the situation and equipped to join in enlightening those below.

Other visitors to worlds in which exodeism is prevalent and the Thirty-Sixth Paths are in effect are requested to cooperate by non-contradiction with the program, and warned that memetic safeties and countermeasures are woven into the memeplex.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary