Almost everyone in the world follows one of the following four religions. These worshippers don't always get along, despite the similarities between their religions.
Church of the Pantheon
History: The Prophet Jordana began her ministry at the height of the Renlinean Empire, when they were exhausting their resources and relationships in her homeland of Chirmont in order to supply an invasion of Corsom. The Old Ways offered little solace to the underclasses -- mostly humans and gnomes -- and Jordana's message spread rapidly. After the Great Revolution and her death at the behest of the giants, her closest follwers began to codify her teachings and set up permanent ministries, seizing all the Magicants in the name of the gods. They controlled the Magicants directly until the War of the Thrones, in which noble factions, attempting various land-grabs, took possession of the Magicants by threat of force. But since Clerics were the only ones who could use the Essence, the Church retained the rights to Essence harvesting that they have today.
Practice: The head of the Church hierarchy is the High Priest, headquartered in the Prophet's Basilica in Chirmont. Each country's Church affairs are governed by an Archbishop, who presides over a cathedral. Local priests and bishops minister to their parishoners from churches. The main rite of the Church is Prayermeet, held once per week on a special day also called Prayermeet (which is actually considered to lie "between" weeks; a week is six days, and Prayermeet is one day, for a 7-day cycle). Prayermeet involves a sermon, scripture reading, and a lot of prayers. No-one works on Prayermeet; people are supposed to spend the rest of the day performing selfless acts of compassion, although few actually do more than help their neighbor put up a fence. Another common rite is the Balance, in which a member periodically explains to a priest all the things, good and bad, that they have done since their last Balance. If they have netted more bad things, they are assigned some "community service" to balance out the bad; if they have done more good things, they get a special blessing from the priest. There are lots of holidays associated with the Church as well.
Dogma: The gods created the universe as a training ground for mortal souls. Those souls which are virtuous can, after death, go to reside in the realm of the gods. The three pillars of virtue are compassion, courage, and faith. It is through selfless acts, religious devotion, and obedience to the Church that one practices and displays these virtues. Those who act against these virtues become corrupted and languish with the demons, forever apart from the gods. Only the teachings of the Prophet Jordana can guide mortals along the path of righteousness.
Symbol: An upward-pointing eqilateral triangle inscribed in a circle (the points of the triangle touch the circle). It is usually quite ornate, with knotwork designs around the circle and radiating patterns within the triangle.
Game Rules: Clerics of the Church can be of any alignment, and can choose any domains that don't conflict with their alignment. Even normally "evil" domains like Death and Destruction are allowed, although actually channeling negative energy is very frowned upon. A Church cleric can partake his daily Essence (and prepare spells) for free at any church.
History: The Independant Temple movement was born out of resistance to the Church's forbiddance of Heartstones. If such magic could do great good and be weilded by anyone, why was that such a good thing? It seemed to some people that the Church had strayed from the essential teachings of the Prophet. The movement spread to several prominent noble houses, and before long, entire countries were splitting with the Church, founding their own temples. Each Independant Temple is slightly different, but there are enough similarities that everyone (even members) treats them as basically the same religion.
Practice: Prayermeet is sometimes held in the afternoon or evening, depending on the Temple, but usually in the morning. It's a simpler ceremony, often involving singing and discussion. Community activities are often held on Prayermeet as well. The ritual of Balance is meant to be practiced alone, in private, every night before bed.
Dogma: The gods created mortals out of love, as a parent loves their unborn child. Evil and demons exist where there is a lack of love. Mortals should cultivate love and compassion for all people and all things, to drive away the demons and make the world a better place. In death, those who reject the gods will be rejected by them, but all others who showed sincere peity shall go to the realm of the gods. Only the teachings of the Prophet Jordana can reveal the compassion of the gods.
Symbol: An upward-pointing eqilateral triangle inscribed in a circle. It is usually deliberately quite plain, in contrast to the Church's fancy symbols.
Game Rules: A cleric of an Independant Temple gets three domains, but has no choice about them: Good, Healing, and Protection. They can't get any free Essence from their temples. They can't channel negative energy; an evil cleric can't spontaneously cast any spell and can't turn or rebuke undead.
History: Those who didn't buy into the Prophet's teachings right away were basically forced to do so at swordpoint. This led to the compromize of Orthodox Pantheism, in which some of the rituals and beliefs of the old ways were integrated with the teachings of Jordana. Although they answered to the Church in the beginning, the Orthodox clerics gradually became more and more autonomous, until, during the War of Thrones, they broke away entirely (or, from the Church's perspective, were let go as an unneeded burden). Orthodox Pantheists have been persecuted somewhat ever since. Although no one runs them out of town with pitchforks and torches as they do followers of the Old Ways, they are not seen as trustworth or good individuals. In many countries, they were forbidden to own land, and they are definitely forbidden to build temples outside of their own lands.
Practice: Most Orthodox Pantheists in most countries worship in their own homes, rotating between the homes of community members; those in Ponderry and Jarlheim have small shrines at which they worship. Prayermeet is held for them in the evening, and the ritual of Balance is held once per year and involves fasting. They don't celebrate the day that Jordana started receiving holy visions at all. Orthodox rituals are very mystical in nature and involve a lot of deep symbolsm. Clerics are expected to be knowledgeable about a lot of practical and arcane things, and easily accessible to members of their community. The religion has no central authority or hierarchy.
Dogma: The gods and the universe and mortals were all created because that is the only way it could be. The universe is comprised of patterns and relationships which come together to form recognizable entities like gods, mortals, the world, etc. Through understanding these patterns and living in harmony with them, souls can understand their own place in the universe and become like unto gods themselves. People should act selflessly, for in truth there is no self, only the universe. Only the teachings of the Prophet Jordana can reveal the true pattern of the universe.
Symbol: An upward-pointing eqilateral triangle inscribed in a circle, with a circle inscribed inside of it, and a triangle inscribed inside of it, ad infinitum. Mystic runes of ancient origin are written around the edge of the circle.
Game Rules: Clerics of the Church can be of any alignment, and can choose any domains that don't conflict with their alignment. Even normally "evil" domains like Death and Destruction are allowed, although actually channeling negative energy is very frowned upon. Clerics can buy Knowledge (Arcana) and Knowledge (Nature) as class skills; if they already have one as a class skill (such as from the Knowledge domain) they get a +2 bonus on such skill checks.
The Old Ways
History: Practice of the Old Ways stretches back into antiquity. It begun as a primitive animistic religion, but by the founding of the Renlinean Empire it had evolved into a proper polytheistic religion with the major spirits getting rolled into a pantheon of gods. As Renlinea unified the land, local religions were integrated, leading to a slew of secondary deities, or demigods. The Old Ways present a largely uncaring view of the universe which encouraged individual power groups and offered little comfort to the oppressed; hence, when the Prophet Jordana began to travel the realm, preaching her new message, the Old Ways (which at the time didn't even have a name) suffered a major setback. Today, the Old Ways are practiced mostly in far-off lands such as Erindu or remote Jarlheim, although certain isolated rural communities still hold to the Old Ways right under the nose of the Church.
Practice: Members of the faith revere the natural world and its power. They seek to understand the hidden mystical connections between things. They frequently engage in ritual sacrifice, difficult rites of passage, and "mystery cult" behavior consisting of chanting, dancing, and hallucinogenics.
Dogma: The gods are powerful spirits which rule the universe, which is comprised of smaller spirits. Mortals were created at the whim of some gods, as the servants of others, and by accident in some cases. Mortals can gain power by forging a strong relationship with allied gods, but must also work to appease angry gods. In the afterlife, those who pleased the gods may be taken to live with them, while those who gained great power may exist independantly as spirits. There is no need for prophets, because anyone who listens carefully enough can hear the gods themselves.
Symbol: There is no one single symbol of the Old Ways, but the symbols of the individual gods is often quite prominent. Areas and people associated with the Old Ways are often adorned with the Crystal Eye, a good luck sign and ward against evil spirits. It is a plus sign inside of a horizontal diamond, much like this: <+>
Game Rules: Priests of the Old Ways are druids, not clerics. They may hold any alignment.
These are sub-organizations within the Church of the Pantheon. The other religions are too small or secretive to support sub-organizations, although different Independant Temples may have different focusses similar to these sub-groups.
Those clerics which attend the Magicants are known as Keepers. Devoted individuals who observe the rites of Essence harvesting, the Keepers are a strict and somewhat paranoid sect. No-one may enter a Magicant chapel except for a Keeper or the noble who owns the Magicant, and there is always at least one Keeper on hand. Keepers tend to be extremely devout and skilled clerics, tasked with protecting the Magicant, although they also must guard against the dangers of Essence addiction (which is really not as common as you might think). They are fiercely obedient and maintain a strict hierarchy within their branch of the Church. They favor defensive spells such as various protection and magic circle spells, and others like sanctuary, obscuring mist, and glyph of warding. Some Magicants are even protected by symbols, although none today are known to possess such advanced spells. In combat, they favor spells which disable or drive off foes quickly, relying on their lord's household troops to actually deal damage. Keepers wear elaborate robes of gold, orange, magenta, and indigo, reminiscent of the colors of a Magicant. Their symbol is a triangle within a circle within a square diamond (a square rotated 45 degrees). Their most typical patrons are the Sun Father and the Moon Sister, although they try to pray to all the deities evenly.
Compassionate healers who are organized into monastaries and wandering monks, the Lacrima Divinae often train in the mundane arts of healing, as Essence is not as easy to come by for this relatively low-budget order. They are favorites of the people, as many rural villages send their talented young of to study as a Lacrima Divinae, so that they can return as the town's physician. They are a political disaster, as monks give no special treatment to the nobility. It is forbidden for the Lacrima Divinae to accept any payment for services rendered; their living expenses are paid directly by the Church. Most pray directly to the Prophet, although they also study the lore of the Earth Mother and the Moon Sister as well, and their places of worship often depicts this trio of goddesses. They wear blue robes with white trim, and their special symbol is a teardrop within a triangle within a circle.
The Lightbearers are the butt-kicking branch of the Church. Primarily composed of paladins and martial clerics, the Lightbearers are focussed on fighting evil in all its forms. Consequently, the Church hierarchy keeps them on the end of a long stick, constantly sending members on dangerous missions just to keep them from interfering with "delicate" matters of Church politics. Their special patron is the Sun Father although they pray frequently to the Prophet for guidance. They can be recognized by their white-and-gold tabards, and their special symbol is the church symbol (a triangle within a circle) with lines radiating down from the peak of the triangle to the base line.
Order of the Silver Shield (Church Knights)
The Church Knights, as they are more commonly known, is the comprised of soldiers and knights in the service of the Church. Ostensibly for defensive purposes, guarding cathedrals and priests, the Church Knights are sometimes used as muscle instead. Devout individuals typically drawn from noble families that hope to cement a stronger relationship with the Church, the Church Knights are almost never Essence-users, and are usually fighters, elites, or scions, although in time they do learn to cast a few divine spells. Many feel an affinity for the Silver Knight or the Prophet. They all carry, obviously, silver shields (they are only coated with silver, and simply count as masterwork light or heavy shields), and their emblem is a shape of a shield containing the Church's symbol (a triangle within a circle).
This organization often works with the nobility on matters of law and commerce. The head of a Tribunal is almost always a Truthsayer, and many nobles hire them during important business negotiations. Truthsayers are forbidden by a mark of justice to tell a lie, even a slight one, although many are adept at telling half-truths and talking around the issue (if the mark is triggered, they lose the ability to speak). They use almost all their spell slots for zone of truth and detect evil spells; higher-level Truthsayers make good use of speak with dead, discern lies, mark of justice, and scrying, although only a few of the organization's clerics can cast such high-level spells. Many are experts at forensic science (such as lifting hairs from a crime scene and then using scrying to ID their former owners). Although Truthsayers are often used by the nobility to squelch peasant mischeif, their devotion to the truth curbs the worst noble abuses -- a guilty noble knows not to call in a Truthsayer, but on high-profile cases they often intervene on their own. Their emblem is a triangle within a circle within an oblong eye-shape -- the effect is like an eye with a triangular pupil. They wear utilitarian outfits, often with a silver cape, mantle, or scarf. They often take the Sky Lord, the Keeper of Time, or the Judge of the Dead as patrons.
The Starlight Order
A secretive order within the Church which patronizes the Judge of the Dead. The goals of this group are mysterious, but it's thought that they slay enemies of the Church. Their symbols is a Church symbol (triangle within circle) surrounded by stars, although it is rarely worn or displayed in public. They are also fond of black hooded cloaks. Upper-level Church officials often claim that this group is a peaceful order with unsual practices, and that alleged murders are perpetrated by a group of assassins seeking to frame the Church.
Other Religious Sects and Traditions
Way of the Inner Eye
This tradition is almost exclusive to Orthodox Pantheism, although a few Church monks and Independant priests have strove for this path. The basic belief is that through meditation, cleansing one's mind of human thoughts and desires and opening it to the energies of the natural world, one can achieve divine perfection. The Way of the Inner Eye is difficult; there are only three living individuals (all elves) who have even reached 1st level in the associated Prestige Class. Followers don't have a symbol or special garb of their own, but often shave their heads and tattoo a small Church symbol (triangle-in-circle) in the middle of their foreheads.
Bold followers of Independant Temples, Jordanite Missionaries are linked by a common tradition but have no central organization. They are comprised primarily of hardened individuals, often from the middle class but sometimes low-ranking nobles, who have turned from the Church of the Pantheon and now seek to spread the Prophet's love to all people, even hostile individuals in dangerous lands (including certain devoutly Church lands). They often go on missions or provide defense for the Independant Temples they are associated with, and have a rivalry with the Church Knights. Their symbol is a holy symbol (triangle in a circle, you get the idea) cast in bronze, worn as an amulet, and they typically wear armor (but rarely platemail). Most consider themselves members of their particular temple first, and Jordanite Missionaries second.
All of the religions listed above worship the same set of gods (with a few minor exceptions). These gods are not very important individually, and what they stand for varies from religion to religion. Most people pray to "the gods" in general most of the time, and pray to specific gods only for specific needs -- for example, they might pray to the Ocean King when going on a sea voyage, or to the Sky Lord before a trial, but on Prayermeet most pray to just to "the gods." During the ritual of the Balance, Church and Independants pray directly to Jordana. (Orthodox Pantheists and the Old Ways don't recognize Jordana as a god.) Clerics usually choose a "patron" deity, who serves as a sort of spiritual guide or guardian, but still pray to the pantheon as a whole and to other gods as need be.
These deities do not have very much specific dogma or practice; these functions are determined by the religion. These gods do factor heavily in the world's mythology, however, and many legends about people, places, or monsters can be linked to various gods.
The Sun Father: A powerful figure of goodness and protection. Special patron of most paladins; prayed to by those beset upon by monsters.
The Earth Mother: An ancient figure associated with farming, fertility, and motherhood. Prayed to by farmers and wives; married to the Sun Father.
The Moon Sister: A mystical figure associate with magic, secrets, and femininity. Prayed to by magicians and anyone keeping/seeking secrets.
The Ocean King: A strong figure of both patience and wrath, and wisdom. Prayed to by anyone who travels on or lives by the sea, as well as most merchants.
The Sea Maiden: A playful figure of childlike innocence; daughter of the Ocean King.
The Sky Lord: A stern figure of justice, bringing rain to the pious and lightning bolts to the wicket. Prayed to by farmers.
The Fire Master: An intelligent figure of invention and craftsmanship. Prayed to by smiths, craftspeople, and artisans of all sorts, and those seeking inspiration.
The Fire Mistress: A creative figure of innovation and art. Prayed to by artists, performers, and those seeking inspiration.
The Huntress: A stealthy figure of hunting, symbolic of working one's way towards a goal. Prayed to by hunters, detectives, and treasure-seekers. Daughter of the Sun Father and the Earth Mother.
The Aimless Wanderer: A carefree figure who just enjoys life for what it is. Prayed to by merchants and anyone who's under a lot of stress, as well as loafers. Brother to the Keeper of Time.
The Keeper of Time: A impartial figure who marks the hours and records all that happens, in the past, present, and future. Prayed to by those who need just a little more time, astrologers, beaurocrats. Because time is money, prayed to by merchants and moneylenders.
The Judge of the Dead: A forboding figure who decides whether a soul, in death, should be allowed into the realm of the gods or be cast out into the void. Plays a major role in funerary rites.
The Trickster: A clever figure of using your wits to solve problems and defeat otherwise superior foes. A troublemaker, but only for bad people. Prayed to by everyone at some point.
The Silver Knight: A noble figure of honor and chivalry; son of the Sun Father and Earth Mother. Prayed to by nobles and anyone seeking courage.
The Golden Princess: A beautiful figure of romatic love, and parties. Prayed to by anyone who wants to fall in love, win someone's love, of marry of their children. Daughter of the Fire Master & Mistress.
The Prophet: A devout figure of faith and compassion. Prayed to by anyone who needs spiritual strength and guidance. (Church/Independant only.)
There are no evil deities. In the Old Ways, there are no strong notions of "good" and "evil" and all gods are both benign and malign at different times. In the newer religions, gods by definition can't be evil; however, there are demons, creatures of corruption, destruction, and terror, which stand against the gods. No-one worships these, but some may attempt to bargain with them for power.
These names should help with naming certain other things, like temples, religious orders, and even places. Because these names are so similar, most people know the names of all the gods in all the language groups; these are really more like regional pronunciation differences than whole new names. People most frequently make use of the appellations, though, as those are the names by which the deities are generally referred to in the Codex Luminaire. The Elven and Giantish names are listed first, as most civilized lands have languages in these groups, and then Orcish as it is the third most popular. Halfling should also be represented but I'm too lazy to do it right now, and Dwarven is spoken really only by dwarves, so meh. Celestial is the "base language" from which the other names are derived, even though few people (mostly priests and scholars) actually speak Celestial.
|The Sun Father||Siolin||Shillun||Sorlan||Solan|
|The Earth Mother||Maea||Mira||Maya||Mia|
|The Moon Sister||Illunea||Luna||Uln||Illune|
|The Ocean King||Lojantus||Lorgant||Loganad||Logant|
|The Sea Maiden||Tiala||Traley||Tay||Tialy|
|The Sky Lord||Diruth||Dartim||Dorth||Dartam|
|The Fire Master||Pirometh||Promit||Promud||Promuth|
|The Fire Mistress||Janiala||Janila||Gen||Genille|
|The Aimless Wanderer||Audan||Oton||Ordan||Odan|
|The Keeper of Time||Ciran||Corin||Kron||Chron|
|The Judge of the Dead||Mirutho||Maltus||Mort||Mortus|
|The Silver Knight||Biron||Brant||Brond||Brant|
|The Golden Princess||Aeslin||Heslin||Essel||Hesaline|
These deities reside "outside" the main pantheon. Some of them are regional patrons, epic heroes, or just powerful mythological forces from folklore. Few are actually worshipped.
Shahanar is a shapechanger, probably sorcerer or druid of level 17+.
Shahanar is one of the most common characters in the mythology of Erindu and the surrounding countries, as well as that of the Losha. The earliest account of this legendary character appears in a scroll, found in the Valo Library, in the capital of Kelphi, Diavle. Here is a translation of the myth, as it is presented there:
"...Presently the third witch-king of Valovard, Shahanar, left the city. He traveled the jungles... Shahanar was as strong as a constrictor, quicker than a lia lizard, and as wise as the dryad. He was seeking refuge from the one thing he truly feared -- his own mortality... There, among the tall trees, he watched a snake. The snake wiggled, and Shahanar wiggled. The snake twisted, and Shahanar twisted... he turned his skin inside-out...
...Shahanar returned to that wondrous city, Valovard, and his new body amazed every man. He spoke with the voice of Shahanar, yet his form was that of a great couatl, bright and magnificent... [Shahanar accomplishes many great deeds -- the details are unimportant. 12 years pass.]
...That day, Shahanar became a monkey. He could not find his house... ...Victorious, Shahanar returned to Valovard. In the gates of the city stood his brother, greeting him. "Who are you, dear man of the city?" said Shahanar... He could not recognize him... ...Met Firia the beloved, his charming wife. He turned her back to her. "Go away, and do not bother me, woman. I have no wife. You are a liar!"... ...Eventually the day came when he could no longer recognize his parents. He could not believe that they were his parents, but he could not tell who his parents were, either. Enraged and insane, he ran into the jungle, roaring and screaming, and he was never seen again in Valovard for one hundred years and ten years and one year after that..."
When Shahanar comes back, he does not remember anything except his name, which he never forgets in any of the myths. All of the kings of Valovard had "the Gift of Tongues", which allowed them to understand and communicate with any creature or god, so communication was not a problem. People feared him, but they gave him food and water in order to please him.
The myth above is very common, but other myths depict Shahanar differently. Hundreds of other stories tell about his numerous adventures. He is believed by some to be the father of the Satyrs, or the Minotaurs, and several other strange races.
In the art of Erindu, Shahanar is sometimes used as a symbol of change, eternity, and rebirth/rejuvenation, and sometimes he represents innocence, ignorance and forgetfulness. He is usually drawn as a couatl with many tails, or a man/monster with many faces. Shahanar frequently appears in folklore. His roles there are diverse.
When objects or even people disappear mysteriously, people sometimes say that Shahanar took them. He is blamed for the great fire that consumed most of the port-city Salanyel 124 years ago. Recently, the Faculty of Magic in the Azure Academy has chosen the traditional image of Shahanar (a many-tailed couatl) as its symbol.
The primary holy text of the Church of the Pantheon and the Independant Temples, the Codex Luminaire is a medium-sized tome describing the life and teachings of the Prophet Jordana. Written during and after her life by herself and her followers, the book consists of 18 chapters informally divided into 3 sections.
The Acccount: Three chapters which are independant accounts of the Prophet's life, written after her death by three of her followers. Originally written in Old Elvish, the language of Renlinea.
The Message: Seven chapters written by the Prophet herself. These recount various traditional stories from mythology, but told in such a way as to be morally instructive; the gods are formally described in these chapters as well. The basis of the Church's theology and morality can be found in these chapters. The Prophet wrote them in Celestial, which is considered the canonical version, but she also translated them into Old Elvish; in fact, these chapters are the primary resource for people seeking to translate something from either language.
The Vision: Eight chapters written during and after the Prophet's life by her followers. Some of these are evangelical letters to the orcs of Corsom and to the Renlinean Empire, some are accounts of the lives of Jordana's followers and the course of the Great Rebellion, and some are additional prophecies. These were originally written in Old Elvish and Old Orcish.
For years, monks transcribed Codex Luminaire in both its original langages and in Celestial; one of the issues that led to the schism creating the Independant Temples was the desire of some nobles to translate the Luminaire into common languages. Nowadays, copies in every modern language can be bought in any major city.
A bound copy of the entire Codex Luminaire costs 15 gp and weighs 5 lbs. It can be bound in a more compact format, costing 25 gp but weighing only 3 lbs., and some people carry a compact version of The Message alone, which costs 15 gp and weighs 2 lbs. The book is available in a number of different formats. It can be written in two languages (the original language plus a modern language), bear illustrations, illuminated text, or scholarly annotations. Each of these accessories doubles the cost and weight of the book (but remember that a double doubling is a tripling, etc.); a fully tricked-out Luminaire costs 125 gp and weighs 15 lbs. (or 75 gp and 25 lbs., for the cheap but heavy version). Such a tome is often contained in mulitple volumes, which makes usage more convenient but doesn't change the price.
Orthodox Pantheism only recognizes the writings of the prophet herself, in Celestial, as divine. They organize the seven chapters of The Message into a single work called the Shining Text. It is usually produced in a simple bound format with some amount of illustration and illumination, costing 20 gp and weighing 2 lbs.
Any holy text can be used as a holy symbol (although it is usually less convenient due to size and mass). A cleric or paladin who reads aloud from the Codex Luminaire (or the Shining Text) while attempting a turning check gets a +2 bonus on the check. This increases the time of the turning to a full-round action which provokes Attacks of Opportunity. The character must speak in a loud, clear voice, and must either be holding the book or be close enough to turn the pages and read from it (it can be held by another character, placed on a table, dropped on the floor if the character crouches to read it, etc.). A character needs at least 2 ranks of Knowledge (religion) to use the Luminaire in this fashion.
A spellcaster with at least 5 ranks of Knowledge (religion) can also read from the Codex Luminaire while casting a spell targetted at any outsider. This follows the same increase in casting time and additional restrictions as outlined for turning checks, above. If the spell already has a casting time of 1 full round or more, the casting time does not increase. The save DC of the spell increases by 2, but only against outsiders.
The major religions all observe the same holidays, but attribute different signifigance to each one.
1st and 2nd of Longnight: Also named "New Year of the Gods", Creation celebrates the creation of the world. For timekeeping purposes, the new year begins with Creation. During the first day of Creation (the shortest day of the year; the first day of Longnight or the last of Snowfall) People fast between sundown to sundown (Sick, old, and young people do not fast). At designated times, people are supposed to say special short prayers, thanking the gods for the creation of the stars, the sun, the plants, animals, and other things. The last hour before the end of the fast (In Treothe, the last 3 hours) is a time of communal prayer, celebrating the glory of the gods. After the prayer, a great feast is held on large tables, preferably with the whole community present. The second day is a happy day, and no work is done then, although in most places there are no special rituals. Killing anything is forbidden during Creation. According to Church lore, the Prophet died on the day of Creation, representing the cyclic relationships of all things.
End of Coldwind / Beginning of Springthaw: Celebrated during the first day of the spring, Greenday is considered the beginning of the agricultural year (and therefore also named "New Year of Trees"). It represents the time when the Prophet first began receiving visions from the gods. The date changes every year, and is announced by the local religious authority. Greenday is generally supposed to be celebrated one week after the first Jassels (small eyes in Old Elven) blossom. Jassels are small, yellow flowers, found in most of the northern countries, and are one of the first flowers of the spring. In the Great Isle, most of the south-western lands (Treothe, Minca) and the Mountain Duchies, they use different local plants. Greenday is celebrated by ceremonial plantings, mostly of fruitless trees. Large trees are adorned with ribbons and a great dance is held at noon. According to the Old Ways, new Mallorns are planted at Greenday.
14th of Midsummer: Summer Solstice is celebrated during the longest day of the year. Solstice is celebrated by a large prayermeet during the morning hours, followed by a huge breakfast. The rest of the day is dedicated to feasting, dancing, and merry festivals. Followers of the Old Ways often sacrifice animals, sometimes even sentient beings (with maidens being favoured by these Druids) to the Gods as a way of thanking them for keeping the sun on-track and the universe working. Modern religions celebrate the Summer Solstice as festival of thanks to the gods for the blessings of the past year, and a request for their blessing in the upcoming year. Because the Summer Solstice always falls on the night of a full moon, the lunar attribution (below) is thought to pertain to the entire upcoming year.
New Year's Day
First Oneday of Feasting: Also called "New Year of Kings", New Year's Day is celebrated by a large dinner with the family, containing special dishes that vary between areas and countries. Not being at home in New Year's Day is considered pretty sad, and lonely people or travellers are often invited to celebrate with larger families. New Year's Day is considered the beginning of the year for tax and business purposes. Many people also make changes in their own lives on New Year's Day -- it is a popular time for starting new projects or turning over a new leaf.
Most people in the world believe in astrology, the idea that celstial bodies reflect reality somehow. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that this is true, yet also some evidence that the rules of astrology are far more complex than the simple attributions given below.
The full moon always falls on the 14th night of the month, and the new moon on the 28th night (or the "0th" night of the next month -- when the sun rises, it is the first Prayermeet of the next month). The five faces of the moon (Dragon, Rose, Ship, Goblet, Nightmaiden) each bear some astrological signifigance. Because there are 13 months in a year, the moon's face in any given month will be three further than the year before -- if Longnight is a month of Rose one year, it will be Nightmaiden the next, and Ship the year after. This cycle repeats every five years.
Dragon Moon: The dragon is a symbol of power and nobility, and the Dragon Moon is the strongest of months. The Dragon Moon is morally righteous; evil spirits are kept at bay by the ferocious beast, but anyone engaged in wrongdoing, however slight, best stay out of the full moon's light. The month of the Dragon Moon is considered somewhat unlucky. Children born under the dragon moon, conversely, are though of as blessed and strong-willed individuals, as miscarriages are thought to be more likely during this month; women try not to get pregnant during the month of the Rose Moon.
Rose Moon: Strong emotions, both positive and negative, are tied to the Rose Moon. It is a time for wooing lovers and seeking revenge on your enemies. Most importantly, it is a time for paaaaaaar-TAY! Holding a local festival or personal gathering on the night of the full Rose Moon is quite common, and the month around it is an auspicious time for entertainment and leisure pursuits. Children of the Rose Moon are passionate individuals, usually with a creative or artistic streak.
Ship Moon: The Ship Moon is quite logically a symbol of travel and also change, representing the spiritual journey through life as well as physical travel. Sailors believe that the high tide of the Ship Moon is higher than any other, and all sorts of travellers will often press through the night of the full Ship Moon, believing its light will shield them from danger. The month of the Ship Moon is considered industrious and is a good time for building things, as well as travelling. Children born under the Ship Moon are thought to be both pragmatic and curious about the world.
Goblet Moon: The Goblet contains the water of wisdom, but too many people ignore this bitter drink and instead focus on the golden cup itself, representing material wealth and greed. The Goblet Moon also has a connotation of lawfulness; people will often "swear by the Goblet Moon." The month of the Goblet Moon is favorable to scholarly, business, or legal pursuits; when the full Goblet Moon is in the air, its light is thought to reveal sneaks, theives, and liars (although security measures are just as strong on these nights as on any others). A child of the Goblet is regarded as an intellectual and as very ambitious.
Nightmaiden: The Nightmaiden is though of as the "true" moon and is a feminine symbol of magic and mystery. Both arcane and divine spellcasters, and especially druids, feel more secure during the month of the Nightmaiden, and on the night of the full moon, many powerful rituals are carried out. The Nightmaiden also watches over women, and harming a woman during this month is considered bad luck. Girls born under the eyes of the Nightmaiden are considered lucky and sometimes magical, while boys are seen as brave and even-tempered.
New Moon: The dark period between months is related to death and the eternal void. Nights of a New Moon, people stay indoors. They paint holy symbols on their doors to keep evil spirits out, and many conduct lengthy prayers before they go to bed. Clerics of the Pantheon, Orthodox and Independant temples keep watch during the night with prayer and reciting holy texts and placing warding sigils. Druids generally do the same, with the addition that they sacrifice food and wealth and sometimes living creatures to the deities to keep evil at bay. The next morning -- the first Prayermeet of a new month -- people are thankful that the cycle of life continues.