The Gods of the Flanaess: Celestian
Date: Sun, July 06, 2008
Topic: Gods & Followers
"The stars offer direction to those who seek their own paths in life. But, it is in truth where the ultimate responsibility of the seeker to determine how best to use the knowledge he has gained, and the talents he possesses, if he wishes to fully develop himself." - Excerpt from the book, Following the Paths of the Stars: A Treatise Upon the Theology of the god Celestian, by Delena Moonstone, High Priestess of Celestian, page 139.
The Gods of the Flanaess: Celestian
Domains: Stars, the Night Sky, Wanderers
Home Plane: The Astral Plane
Alignment: Truly neutral, tending towards neutrally good.
Alignment of Clergy: Lawfully neutral, lawfully good, truly neutral, neutrally good, chaotically good, or chaotically neutral.
Alignment of Worshippers: Any ethically or morally neutral. In addition to humans, Celestian is often revered by halflings, elves, dryads, sprites, brownies, satyrs, storm giants, and other members of the fairy-folk and similar races.
History and Relationships
After the imprisonment of the Dark Lord by the Oerth Mother and the sun Pelor, many new gods were conceived in what would in later days be called the Time of Legends. Among these gods was a young wanderer named Celestian, who is said to have been fascinated by the mysteries of the great beyond and by the endless stars and their hidden secrets. Yearning to explore these mysterious places, Celestian petitioned the Oerth Mother to be her ambassador to the various Outer Planes, and also to be able to intercede on her behalf with Boccob, to allow his magical ethers to permeate the world. His request granted, Celestian served as a messenger, an explorer, a seeker and a wanderer to many races, endlessly traveling the various planes, using the Astral Plane as a convenient means of access.
Through his services to a number of gods, Celestian was allowed to join their pantheons and receive the worship of the races they had created. In this way, he cultivated a following that grew into one of the most multiracial churches in the Flanaess. True to his nature, the church of Celestian claims, their god continues to serve as messenger and ambassador, all while indulging his passions of exploration and discovery. As willing to work for Nerull or Incabulos as St. Cuthbert or Pholtus, Celestianís worship spread far and wide as befits its patron. While initially only the Oeridians were counted among Celestianís human followers, various nonhuman races had revered him in the Flanaess since time immemorial.
Due to his wandering and mercurial nature, and his willingness to work with deities of almost any alignment, Celestian has few great allies or enemies. However, the gods Pelor, Beory, Corellon Larethian, Sehanine Moonbow, Sheela Peryoryl, Oberon, Titania, Verenestra, and Akadi all hold him in respect, either for his similar ethos and beliefs, his close approximation to their own areas of concern, or the long service he has done on their behalf.
In many ways, Celestian does not have a truly organized church, as his worship spreads often among wandering individuals, thriving by word of mouth as much as anything else. Nonetheless, his followers do hold a number of core beliefs, chief of which is the need for continuous exploration. This does not necessarily mean that one must physically wander, but rather that one must always challenge him or herself, and attempt to go beyond their limits and attempt to find their hidden potential. Life, so they believe, is an endless voyage of discovery, and those who make the efforts to better themselves and always seek out those hidden promises and secret dreams will be richly rewarded.
This drive and ambition can be realized in an individual or communal manner, as befits the person doing the exploring. A person may leave home to seek their dreams in life, or they may stay and work towards bettering their home, as in both cases they seek to learn more about themselves and develop their full potential. Similarly, the search for new horizons and knowledge exists not only in a personal manner, but also in that of knowledge. Academic and scholarly research are favorably viewed by the church, for thereby are new secrets unveiled and mysteries discovered. The adventuring life is also held high in esteem by the followers of Celestian, for not only do adventurers wander and explore in a physical manner, they also push themselves to greater challenges and greater rewards, learning more about both themselves and the world around them.
Among their other beliefs, it is commonly held by the followers of Celestian that a wise man is aware of how little he truly knows, and that by traveling and exploring, either in a physical or metaphorical sense, he may thereby grow wiser both within and without. Notions of good and evil mean somewhat less to the followers of Celestian than many faiths-selfish, personal gain may be as acceptable as mercy and compassion.
Further, as one gains experience and wisdom, they may in turn shine brighter and become guides to those still seeking to find their way. Just as the stars in the night sky are often used by travelers and the lost to find their way, so too can the experienced pass their knowledge on to the young. The faith of Celestian thus places great emphasis on respect for the elderly, who often possess wisdom and knowledge beyond the ken of the young.
The virtues of the Celestian faith include initiative, passion, decisiveness, curiosity, and the sharing of wisdom, passing it on to each new generation.
The sins of the Celestian faith include passiveness, meekness, apathy, the evasion of responsibility, laziness, the hoarding of wisdom and knowledge, and a willful refusal to accept an opportunity for improvement when such presents itself.
Interaction with Outsiders
The church of Celestian is not known for its political activism or its followers preaching in the streets. Most other faiths view the followers of Celestian as a collection of eccentrics, who keep their own counsel and rarely interact with other faiths. They minister to their own congregations, offering the standard religious services of healings, exorcisms, food and shelter, marriages, counseling, and so forth, but do not help those outside their faith. They will not perform healings on outsiders without first demanding a conversion, and the numbers of the faith remain small owing to its habit of having people seek it out rather than actively recruiting in the manner of St. Cuthbert or Pholtus. For the most part, they are content to remain as closed, withdrawn groups that exist in the background of wherever they live.
With their lack of large-scale activity, most governments and outsiders think little of the church of Celestian and are content to ignore it. However, many nonhuman groups among the fairy-folk, the elves and the halflings think well of it, and so human followers of Celestian often establish themselves among the communities of these races, in an attempt to broaden their horizons and learn more about the other races of the world. Serving with their clerical magic and other religious services, the clerics of Celestian thus act as bridges between the worlds of humans and those of other races.
Celestian maintains few large-scale churches across the Flanaess, although it does have establishments in Niole Dra, Rel Astra, Asperdi, Greyhawk, Dyvers, Leukish, Radigast City, Naerie, and Enstad.
Debate within the church of Celestian typically centers around the individualís obligations to the community, and the need to balance oneís own needs with those of the community. Some Celestian theologians claim that self-discovery can and often does benefit those around the person, who may benefit from the person finding his or her calling in life. They point to those who discover a particular passion, be it for teaching, sailing, blacksmithing, or one of a hundred other professions, and set about sharing their gifts with those around them, who profit thereby from the services the person offers.
Other, more cynical, followers of Celestian claim that self-discovery must be placed within the context of oneís obligations to the community. It is hardly beneficial to the community, for example, if a man realizes he has a talent for moneylending and finance, and proceeds to use this ability to impoverish his neighbors, still less if someone decides their skills and interests lie in murder or criminal activity! Those followers of Celestian who hold this belief claim that it is important to impress upon the young the need to determine how they might best use their abilities for the benefit of those around them. Certainly, personal profit is possible, but not at the cost of the livelihoods and well-being of others. This school of thought emphasizes Celestianís role as a guide to those who are still trying to find their way.
Still other followers of Celestian condemn this line of thinking, claiming that it interferes with the basic freedoms of individuals who seek to find their own way. Acting as a guide does not mean dictating the path, they believe, but rather informing the person and then leaving them to make their own decisions. After all, they point out, the stars do not actively force sailors or travelers to correct their courses if they are going the wrong way. If the supplicant misinterprets the advice given to him or her, or simply chooses to ignore it, the guide is not at fault for their mistakes.
While most adventurers prefer more martial faiths such as those of St. Cuthbert, Pholtus or Heironeous, followers of Celestian can still be found adventuring, out of a desire for self-discovery and fulfillment or on behalf of those human and nonhuman communities they befriend. Clerics may associate with whatever nonhuman races they wish, and can travel freely to new places to learn about foreign cultures and peoples, although to do so without a definite purpose in mind is considered a minor sin. Clerics may wear any armor up to banded armor and splint mail, although not the heaviest plate armors, and they typically wield spears in battle.
Clerics must tithe thirty percent of the wealth they obtain to a temple of Celestian, or to the followers of Celestian in any given community if there is no temple, or to an educational establishment, such as a school or university, if they have no other recourse. Celestian is said to smile on and favor those of his clerics who act as guides to those who are seeking direction in their lives, who pursue their own dreams with ambition and zeal, and those who put the knowledge they have gained in their physical or mental travels to good use in advancing their own agendas, or in helping others achieve their goals.