Theoretical Variations in Worship
By Aphrodite D'Ourvean in Dark Ages
Faith. For so many of us, this can be at the forefront of our minds, a guide in our day to day actions. But, faith in what? Through listening to many different teachings, on can approach each God almost uniquely, based on one's personal beliefs. However, is there a commonality in all of this, or are we free to interpret each God in our own speculation? I believe, that no one true answer exists, as each deity is multi-faceted, and their meaning to each Aisling different. However, with the study of each of the eight faiths, I have discovered some shared viewpoints taken by worshippers
Where better to start, then at the beginning? Deoch, God of Debauchery and Creativity, remains an enigma to a good majority of Aislings. His ways seem to be as madness, flitting from one fancy to the next, but, in essence, is this not the spirit of the Aisling magnified? Truly, his worship can be an exciting, and sometimes frightening thing. Deoch's trinity is named the Trinity of Chaos, due to his association with Chadul, and by the very nature of himself, and his allies. There is no order to Creativity. Here are some further views of Deochian worship:
Creativity (Deoch Alone) - Those who follow this school of thought, tend to see the world much differently than your average aisling. Here, we have the sheer essence of Chaos, applied in constructive manner. While he who will not be named, Lord of Darkness, holds some sway over the forces of Chaos, it is Deoch himself who exemplifies this nature. Poets, crazed wizards experimenting with the elements, and madmen have been known to give their allegiance to this line of thought.
Passion (Deoch, viewed in Glioca) - Perhaps one of the most interesting philosophies, is the view taken by those who worship the Gliocan aspect of Deoch. Here, we see primality at it's greatest, the rush of great emotions. Love, hatred, can all stem from passion, as these feelings burn deeply within our beings. Worshippers of this aspect of Deoch are seldom as open about it, as there are rumors of strange, and unwholesome rituals celebrating the virtues of the flesh.
Rebirth (Deoch, viewed in Sgrios) - The calmest of all Deochians, would be those who view him in relation to Sgrios. When the end, in Sgrios, meets the beginning, in Deoch, we find the source of one of the miracles of Deoch, rebirth. While a Cailite might view a raging forest fire as balance of natural harmony, to prevent overgrowth, a worshipper of this Deochian thought would see it as a joyful reminder, that all that comes to an end, paves the way for new beginning. I have met very few who follow this line of thought in Deoch, but in itself, it seems perhaps to be the most fascinating.
At one time or another, each of us yearns for the gentle touch of the mother's hand. Glioca is, the great All-Mother, nuturing our wounds, drying our tears, and mending our broken hearts. She alone, bears the greatest burden of all the Gods, for her gifts are often taken for granted, and her thanks is very seldom. The trinity of Life, headed by Glioca, could argueably be seen as the greatest bastion of Goodness in the lands. However, Glioca herself can be seen in three forms, the Girl, the Maiden, and the Crone.
The Girl (Glioca, alone) - Here we have, the thing all of us seek, and that is unconditional love. Who else, but a child in it's innocense, can give such a precious gift? Followers of this theology, tend to give of themselves freely, healing scars, and helping others whenever possible, all while trying to maintain a freedom in expression of worship. As a childlike Goddess, she revolts against harsh restrictions. In my research, I believe a good portion of Gliocans follow this aspect of her worship.
The Maiden (Glioca, in Deoch) - Budding and fertile, her we have Glioca in her most interesting aspect, one of the Mother. Perhaps the single most interesting face of Glioca, as this theology teaches compassion by correction, while still maintaining the nuturing and loving mind. Due to the close stance with Deoch, those who follow the Maiden of Compassion tend to make decisions for the good of all, instead of ones that would benefit only a few. More inclined to place light restrictions, to protect her offspring, we find love of a different sort, that of protection.
The Crone (Glioca, in Cail) - Glioca, in her aged form, shows relation to Cail, the Lord of Nature. Here we have the wise old woman, who can heal any ailment, and spends time in quiet contemplation of life around her. Those who follow this aspect, are akin to the Druids of Temuair, safekeepers of that which might bring harm to others. Through mastery of the healing arts, we see a more mature form of love, the mender of things that are broken. Followers of this line of theology seem to be rare in these times.
The great sylvan father, patron of monks, and of all things living, we come now to Cail. Workers of the earth, tillers of stone, these Aislings are attuned to the mysteries of the earth, and the secrets therein. Those who choose to do his bidding, seek to preserve the natural balance, for they are most aware of what will happen if the balance is tipped to favor one side of the other. Of all the lines of theology, those who follow Cail are most likely to remain neutral in most situations.
Balance (Cail, Alone) - In this aspect of Cail, we see those who watch the events of the world, searching for ways in which to ensure balance in all things is maintained. Light and Dark, Law and Chaos, Good and Evil, these worshippers realize that each philosophy depends on the other, and for one to overpower the other would result in the stagnation and decay of both. Here we see the opposition to Sgrios, who embraces and commands all things decay. The struggle of those who follow this line of thought is neverending, with each action they take carefully plotted to ensure that the greater battle between forces remains equal.
Growth (Cail, in Glioca) - A much less concerned worshipper of Cail, than those who follow Balance, we have the Gliocan aspect of Cail. These followers often work the lands, and are said to be responsible for the great fields of fruit in the fertile Suomi valley. Growth can come in many forms however, as teachers of this philosophy encourage and work Aisling souls, as their brethren would the soil. It is here, in the three aspects of Cail, that one will find most who adhere to the teachings of the Druids of Temuair.
Wisdom (Cail, in Luathas) - Perhaps the most rare of all theologies, we have those who follow Cail's aspect in alliance with Luathas, that of wisdom. Great understanding, tempered with knowledge, followers of this theology encourage balance, through the study of the ways of Nature. While a Cailite, who follows the aspect of Balance, would say a raging forest fire was meant to happen, because it is the will of Cail that nature grow and be destroyed, a Cailite of this school understands the fire cleanses the soil, and clears room for new growth. In my time, I have met only one Aisling who espouses these teachings, Luata of Cail.
Of late, the worship of Luathas has faded, and finding information about his worship has been a difficult task. Through reading ancient writings, and chance discussions with the rare Priest of Luathas, I have discerned that the Luathan line of thought is exactly that. Thought. Concious mind, and the workings therein. A great lament, that such an interesting worship has all but vanished in these times, when it is needed the most. However, with this work, I hope to revive some interest in his following, and here, are the theologies of Luathas.
Knowledge (Luathas alone) - The great scholars, these Aislings treasure knowledge above all else, as it is the one commodity which can overpower any other. Some of the greatest Lorekeepers, Historians, and Philosophers have followed this line of theology, as they work tirelessly to preserve and teach the secrets of this life. It is apt that Sgrios is the polar opposite of Luathas, for Sgrios seeks to decay and erode all things. Chances are, if you find a follower of Luathas, they will most likely adhere to this theology.
Craftsmanship (Luathas, in Cail) - The great artisans, it is said that those who create great fabrications of stone, or paint, are touched by this aspect of Luathas. Knowledge, when applied, has lead to great wonders, such as the Castle of Loures, and the Bridge of Dawn near Rucesion. Tinkers, tailors, seamstresses, and inventors, all pay homage to this aspect of Luathas. It is here that we see the great knowledge collected, applied for practical use. In all the followings of Luathas, this is perhaps the most rare existing line of thought.
Magic (Luathas, in Gramail) - At once most common, the worship of this aspect of Luathas has tapered and dimmed, to a near ending. The knowledge of arcane arts, when used through the laws of man and nature, are the path to great sorceries. I am told, that long ago, nearly every wizard in the lands followed Luathas, and even a guild was established in his name, the Academie Arcanus. How such a powerful presence could dwindle remains a mystery to me, but, that seems to be the key principle of this theology. The veil of mystery can be difficult to penetrate, and generally only after much study. If followers of this theology still exist, they remain silent.
Gramail is known as the weakest of all the Earth Sea gods, but that is not due to lack of ability. Gramail is bound by the rules which he creates, and in essence, limits himself to what he will and will not do. Sadly, in my studies, I've found this is another deity who's worship has declined through the Deochs. The teachings of Gramail can be most difficult for Aislings to grasp, as we are naturally Chaotic, so such things go against our nature. Numerous philosophies of worship existed for Gramail in days past, but I will only touch on the main three.
Law (Gramail Alone) - Perhaps some of the most rational aislings in the lands, these are Gramailians who worship Law in itself. Logic is the forefront in their actions, and debate is their specialty. I know, that the few Gramailians I spoke with, have a tendency to be long winded, to say the least! While most followers of Gramail feel a natural pull towards politics, the followers of this theology tend to remain neutral towards them. Champions of Order, these Gramailians instead tend to devote their time to combating Chaos in all it's forms, ensuring the protection of all Aislingkind.
Justice (Gramail, in Luathas) - Knowledge of Law, both natural and man made, leads to a strong sense of righteousness, and here we have those who worship the Luathan aspect of Gramail. Of all followers of Gramail, these Aislings are prone to enter careers in Law Enforcement, as the position of Judge is one Gramail once held himself, aeons ago. Allowing little thought of compassion, these Gramailians tend to seek on thing above all else: The fufillment of Law.
Vengeance (Gramail, in Fiosachd) - Little was available for me to study on this theology, as the worshippers of this aspect tend to remain secret. While followers of the aspect of Justice work within the established institutions, these Aislings follow a darker route. They adhere to the principle of cause and effect, and seek to ensure that those who cause harm to others have that same harm visited upon them. In close affinity to Fiosachd, these Gramailians see no harm in bending a law, here and there, to ensure that the Law is fufilled. Given the little information I was able to discover, this theology must be the rarest of Gramailian thought.
Wanderlust. The thrill of discovery, and the unknown. Such is Fiosachd, long referred to as the Wanderer. Light hearted in nature, this deity is perhaps the most Aisling like of all the Gods. With one of the largest followings in Temuair, the faith of Fiosachd is very diverse, and seemingly strange. However, the rule of commonality has shown me, that, as with the others, three main philosophies of worship are adhered to in the Shrine of Fiosachd.
Luck (Fiosachd Alone) - As the patron deity of Rogues, Fiosachd represents the quality of Luck, be it good or bad. His followers, at times, seem favored, as many a harrowing escape, or chance discovery, has lead to great tales to be shared. In times past, this was the most common aspect of Fiosachd worship, but recently, the charming aspect of Luck, seems to have fallen to the wayside, in favor of a different aspect.
Prosperity (Fiosachd, in Gramail) - Here we have, the most popular aspect of Fiosachd. Wealth, through the affinity with the order Gramail provides, seems to be the key to many worshippers of Fiosachd. This aspect can lead to negative effects, such as indulgence and gluttony, but is also key in the creation of the shipping lanes, which run round Ardmagh. Sailors, Merchants, and Adventurers alike, often pay homage to this aspect of Fiosachd.
Desire (Fiosachd, in Ceannlaidir) - Perhaps the darkest of the theologies of Fiosachd, those who follow the Ceannlaidiran aspect of Fiosachd are akin to his nature. While Gramail and his order bring prosperity, Ceannlaidir and his wars bring oppourtunity for plunder. Brigands, spies, and thieves, worship this aspect of Fiosachd, mostly in secret, due to the nature of their activites. It is rumored that the Black Market, in Rucesion, was founded by worshipers of this philosophy, in order to further their possibilities for ill gotten wealth. Of all the followers of Fiosachd, the secrets of Necromancy are utilized most here in this philosophy, as a means to ensure their accumulation of wealth.
Of all the warriors know, none are greater than Ceannlaidir, Lord of Battle. His delight is the sound of combat, his joy the spirit of competiton. Of all the Gods, Ceannlaidir is interpreted most differently by his followers, as his faces are numerous beyond compare. For all these different facets, one thing remains. Ceannlaidir is an enigma, for he is the most complex, yet simplest of all the Earthsea Gods.
War (Ceannlaidir Alone) - The followers of this aspect, delight in nothing further than the thrill of battle. Great warriors, wizards, and even priests, champion a the glory of a cause the battlefield. However, this battle field can take numerous shapes, be it the carnage strewn fields, or the halls of politics. Each victory is a treasure, and each defeat a lesson to be utilized in the next battle. Followers of this aspect are less likely to kill without reason, but instead delight in the thrill of combat itself.
Honor (Ceannlaidir, in Fiosachd) - An entirely different facet of Ceannlaidir, these worshipers espouse the virtue of Honor. A strict code of conduct is adhered to by followers of these tenets, and in all things, they will hold to these codes at any cost. The Pit Fights, hosted on Abel beach, were an inspiration of a worshipper of this theology. However, the path of honor is a difficult one to walk. A follower of this tenet who abandons his code, is most likely to turn to the aspect of Carnage.
Carnage (Ceannlaidir, in Sgrios) - With all things, the dark side of Ceannlaidir exists, and lies in the hearts of these worshippers. While those of the tenet of War enjoy the thrill of battle, these Aislings delight in the spilling of blood. Sgrios's influence on Ceannlaidir, in this way, becomes the tool by which Sgrios feeds on the souls of the living. Senseless killing, the plunder and destruction of villages, and even the slaughter of innocents, are all rapture for those of this philosophy. The corruption of Life, through Necromancy, runs strong in these Aislings, as it serves as further means to create more havok.
All things must end. Such words, sum up the very philosophy of the worship of Sgrios. However, the varying theologies behind why and how things must end, are as varied as Aislings themselves. For some, the awakening of Chadul, signifying the end of the Age of Light, is ultimate triumph. Others, delight in bringing Death, to feed their dark master. However, Sgrios, of himself, is not entirely evil, nor are all his worshippers. Of all the theologies I've studied, I find these to be the most fascinating, and hope you can enjoy in them also.
Decay (Sgrios Alone) - An interesting perspective, followers of these tenets believe that through entropy, all things will decay and fade. By doing so, they grow closer to the one who eternally feeds on all that is living. While some followers take a passive role in this decay, watching in morbid fascination and wonder, others do what they can to advance this process. Unlike the other two aspects, followers of this theology see Necromancy as an abomination, as it is an abomonation, halting the process of decay.
Death (Sgrios, in Ceannlaidir) - The most common of beliefs, the tenets of this philosophy are simple. Death comes to all things. While some view this as a part of the natural process, others see this as a means to increase the power of Sgrios, who consumes the souls of the dead. Sub denominations of this philosophy abound, and some of the darker followers of this aspect encourage the death of others, in strange rituals. Here, Necromancy is seen as a nessecary evil, as the minions of undead can be easily blamed for any deaths which may occur.
Destruction (Sgrios, in Deoch) - Through the fires of Deoch, guided by the hand of Sgrios, all things are destroyed. Of all the worshippers of the Earthsea gods, these are perhaps the most dangerous. While other worshippers of Sgrios seek to further decay in more subtle means, these Aislings assault and destroy whatever may come in their path, without fear of retribution. The tools of Gramail, law and punishment, mean little to these Aislings, as ending their life will only result in their unity with Sgrios. While followers of this philosophy seem rare, most are hidden from view, relying on the manipulation of events and people to achieve their means. Followers of this aspect fully embrace Necromancy, as it provides them with an army that can be replenished with a simple incantation.
In conclusion, I would say that this is far from a complete dissertation on the various theologies present in the temples of the Earthsea. Such a work could easily cover numerous volumes, as the expression of faith is a wonderful and unique thing. With reading this, I hope you have gained a better understanding of the rich history of the deities of Temuair.