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    Druidism in the Flanaess
    Posted on Thu, November 29, 2001 by Toran
    Robbastard writes "Long a mystery to the civilized world, the rustic Old Faith of the ancient Flan has survived through invaders for untold ages. Even today, it manages to survive and sometimes even flourish in some of the most unlikely places, often driven underground and persecuted by local rulers. But now, some of the secrets of this ancient nature-religion revealed for all to see.

    Author: Rob Vest




    Druidism in the Flanaess

    By Rob Vest (robbastard@hotmail.com)
    www.bastard.isonfire.com
    Used with Permission. Do not repost without first obtaining prior permission from the author.

    History

    Druidism, known by laymen as the "Old Faith," is one of the oldest belief systems of the Flanaess, dating back to the days before the Twin Cataclysms. Druidism's origins are believed to be found among the ancient aboriginal Flan tribes of the Sheldomar river valley, where it was subsequently adopted and adapted by the migrating Oeridians, who spread the Old Faith to the shores of the Solnor Ocean and beyond. With the rise of civilization, many people of the Flanaess have abandoned the Old Faith, though the it is still practiced by many people in rural areas.

    The ancient druids held great power among the Flan and Oeridian tribes. Any major undertaking was doomed to fail without the consent of the druids. The druids were the ultimate authority when and how wars were to be waged, crops were to be planted, alliances were to be forged, children were to be reared. The ancient druids acted not only as priests, but also as teachers, advisors, and judges. Violence against them was forbidden. Few events took place in the tribes that the druids didn't have a hand in. Though those days, for the most part, are long gone, there are few who do not respect (or fear) the druids.

    Theology

    Druids believe in the immortality of the soul, which passes at death from one living being into another. Druidic rituals are usually held in forest clearings. The oak, holly, and mistletoe are most sacred to druids, and are often used in spellcasting. Druids are skilled in ancient verse, natural philosophy, astronomy/ astrology, and religion.

    Druids believe in an otherworld, imagined sometimes as deep underground, and sometimes as mysterious islands in the sea (the later is very popular with elven druids).

    Druids do not worship the deities of nature so much as the force of Nature. Though the gods are revered, they are simply seen as aspects of a greater power (ie, though Pelor is the God of the Sun, he is not the Sun itself, but merely an anthropomorphic manifestation of its power). Those rare druids that do devote themselves to a single deity usually serve Beory, the Earth Mother and/or Obad-Hai, the Horned God. In fact, these two deities are often the most important in any druidic tradition. Other deities are honored according to the situation, but only those whose portfolios are concerned with some aspect of the natural world. "If an animal isn't concerned with it, why would a druid be?" is a popular saying among non-druids. Though simplified, it is essentially accurate, as gods of abstract ideals (good, evil, ethics, honor) have no place in the Old Faith.

    Some examples of how druids view specific deities:

    Al'Akbar The demigod of guardianship, faithfulness, and duty is honored by very few druids.
    Allitur Druids have little use for the god of ethics and propriety.
    Atroa The Maiden of Spring is popular among druids, especially during Growfest.
    Beltar This evil goddess of malice, caves, and deep pits is honored mostly by druids who are evil, or dwell underground.
    Beory Mother Earth is honored more than any other deity by druids.
    Berei The goddess of home, family, and agriculture receives her share of homage, especially during Growfest and Brewfest.
    Boccob The god of arcane magic has few druidic followers.
    Bralm The Hive Mother has druidic adherents, especially among lawful druids and those concerned with insect life.
    Bleredd This god of metal, mines, and smiths is honored by few druids.
    Celestian The Far Wanderer has some druidic adherents, usually those concerned with astrology.
    Cyndor The god of time, infinity, and continuity receives little homage from druids.
    Dalt The god of portals has no place in druidism.
    Delleb Very few druids pay tribute to the Scholar.
    Ehlonna The goddess of forests meadows and woodlands is very popular among druids.
    Erythnul The god of hate, envy, malice, panic, slaughter, and ugliness has no place in druidism.
    Fharlanghn This god often receives homage from traveling druids.
    Fortubo The god of stone, metals, and mountains is honored by druids (especially dwarven and gnomish druids) who live in mountainous regions.
    Geshtai The goddess of lakes, rivers, and wells is honored by druids who live near those features.
    Heironeous This patron of paladins has no place in druidism.
    Hextor The god of war, discord, and massacre receives no homage from the druids.
    Iuz Old Wicked is hated by many druids, especially those of the Vesve Forest.
    Joramy This goddess is honored by druids as the patron of fire and volcanoes.
    Kord Few druids honor this god of athletics, though he does receive some homage during Lughnasad.
    Llerg The god of beasts and strength is honored quite often, especially by Sueloise druids.
    Merikka This agricultural goddess is most revered in farming communities dedicated to the Old Faith.
    Nerull The Reaper is viewed as an aspect of Death. Some believe Nerull originated as an agricultural dying/ rising god.
    Obad-Hai The Green Man and god of nature is second only to Beory in the Old Faith.
    Olidammara The Laughing Rogue is honored mostly by the Colleges of the Old Lore, a bardic tradition which sprang from the same roots as the Old Faith. However, Olidammara is less important to druids, though he is honored during Brewfest in his Dionysian aspect as a God of the Vine.
    Pelor This solar deity is revered as a manifestation of the Sun, as is Pholtus. This tends to anger both priesthoods.
    Pholtus See Pelor
    Procan The god of the sea and weather often receives homage from druids who live near (and in) the sea.
    Pyremius This Suel god of poison and murder also has a fire aspect, which evil and Suel druids often invoke when burning wicker men.
    Rao The god of peace and reason has no place in druidism.
    Sotillion The Summer Queen is most often honored during Richfest.
    Telchur The god of winter is most revered during Needfest.
    Tharizdun The Unnamed is despised by even the most evil of druids.
    Vatun The Great God of the North is revered mostly on the Thillronian Peninsula, usually during Needfest.
    Vecna Worship of the Whispered One has no place in druidism.
    Velnius This Oeridian sky god is honored by many druids.
    Wenta The Harvest Daughter is most important to druids during Brewfest.
    Zagyg This demigod of humor and eccentricities has no place in druidism.
    Zilchus This god of merchants, wealth, and finance is useless to druids.

    Regions of Control (Domains)

    The Flanaess is divided into nine domains, each under the stewardship of a Druidic circle, led by a Great Druid. These domains, and their respective circles are:

    Baklunish West Tusmit, Zeif, Ekbir, Ket, Dry Steppes, Ull, and the Paynim lands. The druids living in this domain belong to the Circle of Bakluni.
    Bitter North The Yatil Mountains, Perrenland, the lands of the Wolf and Tiger Nomads, Blackmoor, the Burneal Forest, and the Land of Black Ice. The circle in charge of this domain is known as the Circle of the Northern Reaches.
    Western Nyr Dyv High Vale, Veluna, Furyondy, the Vesve Forest, Verbobonc, Dyvers, Kron Hills, Hardby, Gnarley Forest, Welkwood, Suss Forest, Celene, Wild Coast, Greyhawk, and the Pomarj. The druidic organization of this domain is known as the Grey Circle.
    Sheldomar Valley Keoland, the Ulek states, the Hold of the Sea Princes, Yeomanry, Geoff, Sterich, the Jotens, Bissel, Gran March, the Dim Forest, the Hool Marshes, the Barrier Peaks, the Crystalmist Mountains, the Valley of the Mage, and part of the Hellfurnaces. This is home to the Circle of the Sheldomar.
    Empire of Iuz The Lands of Iuz, the Horned Lands, the Bandit Lands, the Shield Lands, the Barrens, Riftcanyon, the Wastes, the Fellreev Forest, and Tenh. This domain is under the stewardship of the Circle of Bone.
    Thillronian Peninsula The Barbarian lands, Stonehold, Ratik, the Griff Mountains, and the Rakers. The druids of this domain make up the Thillronian Circle.
    Old Aerdy West Nyrond, Almor, the Urnst states, the Pale, the Bright Lands, the Cairn Hills, the Abbor-Alz, and the Celadon Forest. This domain is under the watchful eye of the Circle of Western Aerdy.
    Old Aerdy East The North Kingdom, Ahlissa, Rel Astra, the Sea Barons, the former Great Kingdom, Onnwall, Idee, Irongate, Sunndi, the Adri Forest, the Bone March, the Iron Hills, the Menowood, and the Grandwood Forest. This is home to the Great Circle.
    The Southlands The Sea of Dust, the Amedio Jungle, the Olman Isles, the Vast Swamp, the Tilvanot Peninsula, the Lordship of the Isles, the Spindrift Islands, and north Hepmonaland. The eclectic mix of druids from this domain make up the Circle of the Southlands.

    Advancement

    Druids of the Old Faith who finish their training are known as Aspirants (1st level). Above the Aspirants are the Ovates (2nd level), who engage in record-keeping and minor divinations. Promising Ovates may then go through the Nine Circles of Initiation (3rd-11th level). Above the Initiates of the Ninth Circle (11th level) are those who can actually claim the title of Druid (in the druidic community, druids below 12th level are referred to by their titles, or as students or practitioners of druidism, or rarely, as druids with a lower case 'd'). A domain's Druids, Archdruids, and Great Druid make up a circle's Inner Circle. There are a total of eighty-one Druids in the Flanaess, nine for each of its nine geographic regions. Three Archdruids (13th level) reside in each region, and each region is overseen by a Great Druid (14th level). Above the Great Druids, there stands the Grand Druid (15th level), who oversees druidic activities worldwide. Former Grand Druids are said to belong to a cabal of ascended Hierophants (16th + level), who stand outside the druidic hierarchy as distant, aloof, and mysterious figures.

    Inititiates of the Ninth Circle who wish to receive the title of Druid must either wait for an opening in the Inner Circle, or issue a Druidic Challenge to one of the Circle's nine Druids. The Challenge usually involves ceremonial combat, but in some cases, the participants will agree on some other type of competition. The Druidic Challenge operates under prearranged rules. One who violates this rules automatically loses the Challenge. The combat is always one-on-one, not even allowing participation by servants or animal companions.

    First, the two parties must agree on the time and place of the duel. Usually Challenges take place at the next Moot. Next, the Challenge requires a witness, which must be a druid whose rank equals or exceeds the challenger's. Third, the terms by which the battle will be fought are set out by mutual agreement. Once agreed upon and witnessed, the terms can not change. If neither side can agree upon the terms, the witness selects them and declares the duel an all-out battle until one of the participants surrenders or becomes incapacitated. Terms may include the size of the battlefield (anyone leaving its bounds loses), use of weapons, magic items, shapechanging, and spells, terms of victory (first blood, surrender, unconsciousness, death), and nature of the Challenge (combat, or rarely some other competition-footrace, defeating a particular foe, scavenger hunt, drinking contest, etc). The Challenge is repeated for the offices of Archdruid and Great Druid. The loser of such combats, if he or she survives, remains or returns to their previous title in the druidic hierarchy.

    The office of Grand Druid is filled not through trial by combat, but by a selection process. One of the duties each Grand Druid is expected to perform is appointing his successor. Being the Grand Druid can be a stressful job, for one is expected, in theory, to be not only caretaker for an entire planet, but to also keep harmonious relations between the several Druidic Circles of his world. Few Grand Druids serve for longer than four years, sticking around long enough to deal with a crisis or two before selecting a worthy Great Druid to fill his shoes so he can get on with being a Hierophant.

    Little is known of the Hierophants, other than they occasionally recommend courses of action to the Grand Druid and/ or the various druidic circles, especially if more than one domain faces the same threat. It is believed that no Druid ascends to Hierophant status without first spending a certain amount of time as the Grand Druid, an experience that seems to serve as the Hierophants' "baptism of fire."

    Druids of Renown

    Here's a short list of major druids currently active in the Flanaess.

    Dallic Clay Touv Druid of the Pomarj. Thought to be a Hierophant.
    Earthramus Druid of the Gnarley Forest, and former member of the adventuring band known as the Flamebringers. Thought to be a Hierophant.
    Goldleaf Druid active in the Sheldomar Valley.
    Griffith Adarian Powerful druid living in the Adri Forest.
    Immonara Archdruidess of the Adri Forest.
    Lewenn Count of the County of Ulek, Archdruid of the Sheldomar Valley, formerly that region's Great Druid.
    Reynard Yargrove Great Druidess of the Sheldomar Valley.

    The Moot

    The three Archdruids and the Great Druid each have the right to summon a moot, a gathering of the entire circle. By ancient custom, moots are called four times a year, and coincide with the four fire-festivals of Needfest, Growfest, Richfest, and Brewfest. Three of the moots are called and organized by each of the circle's Archdruids, and one by the Great Druid. Rarely, an "emergency moot" may be called in addition to the four traditional moots, but this only happens when one of the Archdruids or the Great Druid sees something so deeply amiss in the domain that the entire circle must discuss it as soon as possible. Moots typically last seven days.

    The moot enables the circle to celebrate the changing of the seasons, gossip and socialize, exchange information on the state of the domain, and to fight druidic challenges before an audience. Druids at a moot perform ceremonies to celebrate Nature, offer sacrifices, honor the dead, perform marriages within the Old Faith, and initiate new druids into the Order.

    The climax of any such gathering is the High Council of the Moot, a closed meeting of the circle's nine Druids, three Archdruids, and Great Druid where important matters concerning the domain are discussed. Sometimes an emissary of the Grand Druid, an ambassador from a neighboring circle, or a Hierophant will attend the High Council. These personages bring news and greeting, and sometimes requests for help. After the High Council, the Great Druid (or the Archdruid who called the moot) addresses the entire moot, answers questions, and takes advice.

    While most of the activities that take place at a traditional moot may be witnessed (or sometimes even participated in) by non-druids celebrating the festival, initiations and the High Council are always closed to non-druids. Other activities may be closed as well, but this is usually up to the organizer of the Moot.

    Festivals

    These fire-festivals typically last seven days, and correspond to the four seasonal celebrations practiced by non-druidic peoples throughout the Flanaess. These festivals begin at sunset on the first day, and are the best time for sacrifices and divinations. Rituals often take place at stone circles or other centers of great natural power. Devotions are given in the Druidic tongue, though are sometimes also translated if laymen are present. Sacrifices consist of wicker men, blood-letting over cauldrons, and pit offerings. The Wild Hunt and fairy rades roam the land during these times.

    Needfest or Samhain (pronounced SOW-win)

    The winter solstice occurs on the fourth day of Samhain. Traditionally, it is the Feast of the Dead, and beginning of the new year. Death comes before Birth in the Druidic cycle of life, because before new growth can occur, there must be room for it. During this time, the boundary between this world and the Otherworld is weakest, and so passage between the worlds is smoother, and as they might be listening a little closer it is a time to remember and respect all those who died during the year. Games, feasts, and bonfires are held in honor of the dead, and often the fey-folk hold revels of their own, and invite mortals to join them. At Samhain, all fires are extinguished and re-kindled from the "need fires" that are lit at various ritual centers, distributed by runners with torches. This is considered a favorable time for divinations concerning marriage, luck, health, and death. During this time, it is said that the Reaper himself walks the earth. The Wild Hunt is most likely to be encountered during Samhain. This festival also celebrates the "birth" of the Dying/ Rising God, usually personified by Obad-Hai, though sometimes it is another male god such as Phyton, Nerull, or even Olidammara (or perhaps all of these). A male picked to play the role of the God is announced at this time, and is usually a local ruler. Other deities honored at this time include Pelor, Wee Jas, and Telchur.

    Growfest or Imbolc (pronounced IM-volk)

    The vernal equinox occurs on the fourth day of this festival. The ewes begin lactating around this time of year, and it is a sign that winter is coming to an end. Spring flowers are already blooming at this time of year. Divinations are cast to determine the state of the year's harvest. Imbolc celebrates the springtime and preparations for the planting season are begun. Imbolc is sometimes called Candlemas. Imbolc is sacred to the various fertility goddesses, such as Atroa, Beory, Berei, Merikka, and Ehlonna, and the rituals on this day tended to center upon the home and hearth. During this time, the goddess personifies a virgin or maiden aspect and is the protectress of women in childbirth. Other deities honored at this time include Lirr and Istus. Fewer human sacrifices take place during Imbolc.

    Richfest or Beltaine (pronounced BEL-tain-yuh) or Cetsamain (pronounced ket-SOW-win)

    This is a festival of fertility and life, often the choice time for marriages. This is the midsummer celebration, and the summer solstice falls on the fourth day. Fairs, dances, and divination games to determine the identity of future marriage partners are held at this time of year, and often there will be a minor baby boom nine months later. The Divine Marriage, between the Dying/Rising God and the Goddess is said to take place at this time. The roles of god and goddess are usually taken by mortals in an elaborate ceremony. The God represents the temporal world, and the Goddess the spiritual - consequently, the players in this drama are usually local rulers and female druids and priestesses. The Goddess is usually considered to be Beory, though other goddesses, such as Sotillion, Berei, Merikka, Ehlonna, Mhyriss, or even Wee Jas are portrayed. Fey and elven deities take these roles in sylvan communities.

    Also at this time of year, livestock will be driven between two purifying bonfires as a sort of "blessing" ritual. Other deities honored during Beltaine are Pelor, Llerg, Joramy, and Pyremius.

    During Beltaine, the boundaries between this world and the fey realms are very close, and many mortals speak of witnessing fairy celebrations. Fairy rades are more likely to occur at this time of year than any other.

    Brewfest or Lughnasad (pronounced LOO-na-shav)

    The essential harvest festival, to give thanks to the Earth for Her bounty. Lughnasad festivals are characterized by athletic competitions. This festival, the fourth day of which is the vernal equinox, is also called Lammas, or "loaf-mass", as it celebrates the end of last year's harvest and the beginning of the current harvest. This is the time when the Dying/Rising God dies, symbolizing the end of summer. In ancient times, the leader who was to portray the God was sacrificed to insure that next year's harvest would be bountiful (though proxies were used for all but the most incompetent and hated rulers). In modern times, criminals usually take on the role. Aside from Beory and other nature deities, Brewfest is sacred to Wenta, Berei, Merikka, Llerg, Kord, and Olidammara.

    Human Sacrifice

    Human sacrifice has been practiced by druids for centuries, and is one reason why many people fear them. Humanoid sacrifices are usually of the same race as the majority of participants in the ceremony, druids and laymen, and are often (but not always) condemned criminals. In some cases, the sacrifice is a proponent of the Old Faith, and goes willingly. Usually, they don't. Humanoid (and animal) sacrifices are usually made on high holy days, such as the four festivals. Methods include burning (sometimes while alive) in huge wicker men, slitting the jugular over a cauldron (cauldrons of powerful druids are said to perform as scrying devices when filled with blood), or throwing the victim into a very deep pit. Unlike evil priesthoods, most druids do not sacrifice out of cruelty, but because it is the way of things.

    In nations where the sacrifice of sentient beings is outlawed or discouraged, the rites take place in rural areas far from government influence, or in secret, and outsiders are forbidden to attend the festivals. Government investigations of humanoid sacrifice usually end one of three ways:
    1) no evidence of wrongdoing is found;
    2) some or all of the "cult" leaders are arrested and the Old Faith is stamped out or driven underground; or
    3) the government inspectors are themselves sacrificed!

    In one instance that took place in the Pale in 572, the leader of the small peasant community of Summerlea requested a prominent member of the Church Militant come to the village to investigate rumors of cult activity in the area. It turned out that the Lord of Summerlea actually led the druidic "cult," and he had lured the Pholtite to the village to be the Growfest sacrifice! The Church Militant eventually uncovered the fate of their missing brother, and Summerlea was razed to the ground.

    The frequency of sacrifices and the status of the victim usually depends on the alignment of the druid. Sacrifices of unwilling druids are forbidden.

    Neutral Good druids rarely conduct human sacrifice, and only during the four festivals, and only if the victim is both evil and a foe of nature.

    Neutral Evil druids practice human sacrifice whenever it is called for. Nearly any available victim will do, but foes of nature are preferred.

    Lawful Neutral druids make sacrifices whenever they are called for, and usually only sacrifice the condemned, though the actual guilt of the victim matters little.

    Chaotic Neutral druids make occasional sacrifices, and often seem to choose their victims arbitrarily, but guilt is more important than the victim's condemned status. Their victims are also more likely to be someone who wronged them personally.

    True Neutral druids tend to sacrifice sentient beings during all four festivals, and always enemies of nature. The alignment and condemned status of the victim matters little.



    Note: Balance, Druids, Old Faith"
     
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    Re: Druidism in the Flanaess (Score: 1)
    by Robbastard on Thu, January 16, 2003
    (User Info | Send a Message | Journal) http://www.bastardgreyhawk.isonfire.com
    Read the expanded version of this article at http://homepages.ius.edu/rvest/Greyhawk/Druidism.html
    In particular, I've added more deities, including the entire list from the Living Greyhawk Journal #3. I also plan to adapt the rules on sacrifice from the BoVD to druidism, as well as adding more druids of renown.

    Rob



    Re: Druidism in the Flanaess (Score: 1)
    by Robbastard on Thu, January 08, 2004
    (User Info | Send a Message | Journal) http://www.bastardgreyhawk.isonfire.com
    I just realized that the website listed under my name at the top of the article is NOT my Greyhawk website, though the URL is similar. Try http://www.bastardgreyhawk.isonfire.com

    Those interested may also want to check out the Emerald Conclave article by Skye Feydark(http://www.canonfire.com/cfhtml/modules.php?name=News&file=print&sid=387). The article covers a druidic group that splintered off the Old Faith, and complements my article quite nicely.




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