Written this 17 Anuyi, 989 (as reckoned in B’sheim) in Ruddlan Chapel, at the request of the Fitzalan family priest, Jack the Elihuan wise man, in the hopes that it may one day be of interest to the Sagronian Order, and strengthen understanding between the faiths.
On this Day I, Evalline Fitzalan, third daughter of Ewen Fitzalan, Duke of Arran Whiting, shall Answer the Call of Amar’is, and see where it shall lead me. I do this with the blessing of my father, freely given, and after seeking guidance from wise man Jack on how to approach the Call. For some reason, he seemed to think that I must choose one or the other. In the course of that conversation, he suggested that I write it all down to make sense of it.
I have read just enough of the texts in the Chapel library to know that I could never write things like a Sagron Oblate, so I’m not going to try. I shall simply write down what has happened, and why I took the actions I did, and leave it to the reader to make sense of it.
I first Heard the Call months ago, though I have been Called for many years before that. What I mean to say is, the Dreams began a few months ago but the omens I know from them (a funnel of leaves in the wind, spotting the ring about Velerena three months running, always being the first to sight a rainbow, and so forth) have been following me for some time.
Here the good wise man is asking me if these are the omens by which all people can know Amar’is. Naturally not! The Dancer has chosen these things to speak to me, but that does not mean he must use the same Symbols to reveal herself to others. Just as I may greet you in one way, and greet your neighbor another. Or greet you thusly today and a different way tomorrow. But once you know my voice, won’t you recognize it even if the words are different?
Once I understood that I was to leave home and give service to the Dancer I went to my Father for his permission to Answer. Had he not given it, I was prepared to Answer anyway, but, once my service to Amar’is (whatever that may be) was completed I would have been left a lady without a family, which is not what I would have wished.
Then I came to the good wise man for guidance. Mithras is one of my house-gods. Mithras being Mithras, it is known that he expects to be worshipped first, and concern was voiced (by some whose names I would not mention) that He would be insulted by my leaving to follow another. It seems a frivolous fear to me.
Wise Jack is looking askance at that, but I do not see why. It is not as though Mithras has ever Called me to his service, and I turned my back on it. I have learned the prayers and rituals. I have followed the tenets of the religion as much as one can who lives in the world outside the Church. He shakes his head at me, and I shake mine right back. Have I ever defied the will of Mithras? Profaned that which he holds holy? Committed sacrilige against him? Not that I’m aware of, certainly. I respect his Godhood, and his priests, but neither has made demands upon my life, nor would I have wished it so.
Amar’is, though, has filled my dreams for months, and music and art have filled my life for as long as I can remember. I am His and whatever She asks of me I must give. That does not mean that I will abandon Mithras (or any of the other gods). As time goes on I shall still hope for Shelter from the Father, and I am certain I shall, at times, pray to Mother for healing, and, when I travel I shall wish to have the Stranger’s good will. For each of these things I shall go to other Priests, and ask them to pray for me – for thus it is done among the Priests of Eire. I came to the Chapel to ask if I shall lose the right to ask for intercession with Mithras, though. Like my father’s blessing, it is something I would prefer not to do without.
Once I am finished here, I shall visit the Temple of the Father. If any Priests of the Dancer are near by, Jon should have news of them. I hope that I shall soon find one, and discover what I must do to answer the Call.
Lady Evalline Fitzalan
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Eirish Religion for Mithrandics,
Part the Second
Written this 13 Anuyi, 991, (as reckoned in B’sheim) in Ruddlan Chapel.
It has been nearly two years since I set out to answer the call of the Dancer.
At the Temple I found that Marjorie, one of Amar’is servants, happened to be passing through the area, and was paying her respects. Well do I remember being surprised and overjoyed to find her (strange, it seems, that although looking for the Dancer I was startled to find her so quickly…).
She asked me the signs by which I Heard the Call, then had me demonstrate some proficiency and knowledge of the Arts, and a willingness to put aside my home and my family to follow the Ways. Then she did pray over me, and meditated upon my call. In the morning she pronounced that I may Follow with her for a time. In the morning, we prepared a Festival, and there was a day of feasting and dancing before we set out.
And so I have been, Following where she leads, learning the prayers, and the duties, of a Priestess of the Dancer. It would not be fitting for me to reveal any of the Mysteries that I have been taught, but here are some observations and details that the Sagronian Sisters may find of interest.
Any person can appeal to any of the gods at any time, of course, but holy men and women, those to whom the Gods have shown favor in the past are often asked to intercede on behalf of their countrymen, by custom and by common sense. If, in addition to their personal history of divine favor, these holy men and women have sought out learning of the Gods, they are initiated as Priests and Priestesses.
It would not be convenient to have a priest convey every prayer on a day to day basis. Therefore, symbols are invoked and shrines are built, with or without the assistance of holy men and women. Each household has one or more shrines, as befits the station and leaning of the family. House gods include those that have blessed any marriages within the household, and gods that are invoked in the course of pursuing ones livelihood. Individual members of the household may also build shrines or othewise celebrate any god he or she feels a particular affinity for.
Although the shrines of a man’s household reflect his profession, they do not necessarily indicate it to an outsider. I have heard two butchers, for example, discuss whether or not prayers to the Shadow were a useful part of the daily routine.
The number of gods venerated within a household varies as well. Amongst the families of the Dukes, for example, it is the custom for a woman to embroider a cloth with symbols and signs of each of the Seven, so that the act of working such a cloth becomes a form of daily meditation, each of the Family being worshipped in turn. I have also visited households where only symbols of the Farmer were visible (although that was a rare and extreme instance).
When a man and woman are married, each of the priests who perform the ceremony present them with a sign to hang above their doorway, and a symbol to be put within the household shrines. These signs invite any travelling priests to shelter with the family, and reflect the gods who have been asked to bless the marriage, and the wedding vows. The couple is answerable to those gods (and to an extent, to their priests) for the way in which their marriage is conducted. Other priests should be aware of this before interfering with the way in which the family relates to one another, and rarely trespass on the territory of another god. This is one reason that all couples do not seek the blessing of each god (another being marriage costs).
The most common weddding vows and prayers are described below.
Signs of the Father relate to the family as a whole. It is rare indeed to see a marriage sign without tribute to Him.
Signs of the Mother are a prayer that the family produce children. Again, a very common, though not universal, part of a marriage.
Signs of the Dancer are a prayer for the household to have luck.
Signs of the Farmer are a prayer for the household to have wealth.
Signs of the Traveller are rare, I have never seen one on a house, although the wagons of travelling entertainers and merchants often bear them.
Signs of the Warrior are a prayer for protection.
Signs of the Shadow are the most romantic of the marriage vows – a pledge that the marriage last until death.
In some duchies, the custom is to have only one marriage sign. In others, there are two – the one on top reflecting the vows the couple has made, the one on bottom reflecting the blessings asked. The signs get quite complex indeed in some of the Southern duchies where, I hear, marriages can include more than one couple.
Each of the gods has shrines throughout the countryside, their number and manner changing somewhat from duchy to duchy – for, although the gods do not change from place to place, the people do, and the shrines tend to reflect local memories of miracles.
In addition to shrines, the Gods also have Temples, in various numbers and styles. Nearly all of the Ducal castles have Temples to the Father attached or near by, for example, and they are easily accessible in large towns as well. I have never seen a Temple to the Wanderer, but I have heard that such do exist in remote locations.
In Eire, Priests are Chosen (or called) by the Gods, not recruited by other Priests. There is sometimes a surfeit or shortage of Holy Men and Women dedicated to one God or another. This is one of the reasons that there are fewer Temples than Priests – most of us travel rather than staying in one place.
Likewise, anyone is free to celebrate any god whenever so moved, but it is judged most efficacious to have Festivals – the larger scale deemed pleasing to the gods, as needed by the peoples. Some few are regular occurances, determined by Equinoxes, Solstices, and lunar and stellar phenomona. Others are triggered by annual events, such as the harvest and spring thaw in the Northern parts of the country, spring floods and so forth in the South. The rest of the calendar is filled with celebrations as determined by signs and omens from the Gods, as interpreted by the Priests.
In Hopes that Understanding Follows,
May The Dancer Smile Upon You
Evalline, Follower after Marjorie of Amar’is
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Eirish Religion for Mithrandics,
Part the Third
Written this 8th day of Nudakera, 994, (as reckoned in B’sheim) in Ruddlan Chapel.
The Gods Call whom they will, when they will, and for what purposes they will. As Servants of the Gods, we have the unenviable tasks of interpreting the Will of the Gods, and we can only pray that we do not mistake the Divine Intent.
Each Servant has, by definition, an understanding of his or her own God. If there were more Servants around, so that at any given time, we could find a Servant of any particular God in a given area, interpreting the Calls of the Gods would be far easier. It is my observation that the Gods tend to Call the uninitiated when there is a dearth of Initiates available, otherwise they tend to communicate directly with their favorites (as being favored by the gods is a prerequisite for initiation). It is our custom and practice to have no Priestess of the Mother in a given town rather than to have one who is unable to perform a simple birthing. In time, the people of such a town will seek out a travelling priest to propitiate the Goddess, and they will surely seek out experts in herbalism to survive the interim.
So it happens that the uninitiated may be Called by a God and not have a Priest of that God available to interpret the Call. In some cases the signs and omens are clear enough to be followed without interpretation – I recall hearing of one young man who had a dream, three nights running, of dancing naked, with an Ash Tree, on a nearby hill under a moonless sky. On the fourth night (when neither moon shone in the sky) he went to the hill and found a calf wandering and lost. The dream may have come from the Dancer, or the Farmer, as is clear by the dance, and the tree, and the result of the dream (great luck and wealth from the Earth). The young man has not, at this time, chosen a life of the Priesthood, but it is very likely that he will be asked to pray on behalf of his neighbors as the years go on.
Not all Callings are marked by Dreams and Omens. One Servant of the Shadow told me that she had recognized her destiny, not from any direct message, but because she had killed once out of love, once out of hate, and once out of need.
We have all heard jokes of men called to serve the Mother. Yet I have met one such, and can tell you that the favor he shows is no laughing matter.
As a Servant of the Gods, we are often hard pressed to judge the veracity of a Call which is not to our own. In these conditions I have been given only one rule to follow – it is not for us to put a test to the Gods, only the applicant. One who is called to serve the Warrior would not fear to take up arms, for example, or one who is called to serve the Wanderer to leave home and family. If this means that a true Call might, for a time, go unanswered then so be it. I know for a fact that there were some years between when I was first Called and when I Answered, and that the Dancer was patient with me. As a whole, the Gods are patient and merciful. Exceptions are rare (but quite notable).
I do know of a time when the Dancer showed displeasure at a Call going Unanswered, but that was a case of willful disobedience to a non-ambiguous sign. After being struck with terrible luck for seven years, the man in question once again was given a sign to Follow the Dancer, and, once he did as was required, the God’s displeasure was lifted.
I do not expect to be writing more on the subject, but if the Sagronian Sisters wish to enquire further, you may leave messages for me here.
May the Dancer Smile Upon You
Evalline of Amar’is