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Aspectism - The Faith of the Alders and the Ame

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ASPECTISM

The Woodland Faith

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Origin

Before the beginning of time and living memory of any mortal being, the world was a barren, inhospitable place. It was in this dawn age that two beings descended down to shape our realm into how we see it today.

   

The original names of these two gods are lost, remembered only by the wind and the tides. Nevertheless it was they who breathed life onto the rocky wastes. By their guiding hand, the first meadows bloomed into brilliant greens through their gentle kiss, as did the beginnings of mighty forests, vast oceans and shimmering lakes.

   

The blank canvas that had been the world was now a wondrous landscape. However, the two gods decided they were not finished. The world was unmoving, and needed eyes to savour its beauty, muzzles to enjoy its scents, and ears to hear its earthly songs. And so they began creating the beasts. First the seas were populated with fish, then the skies with the fluttering of songbirds and majesty of hawks. The forest canopies and open meadows were gifted to the wolves, the stags and the wild horses while the earth beneath them was decorated with moles, foxes and mice to burrow away to their heart’s desire.

 

To protect each species, the Aspected bestowed one of each animal the title of Prince, and elevated them to immortality. These immortal beasts became known as the Mani, roaming the realm as wise, eternal guardian spirits.

   

It was at this point when the world was at its most pure. Everything had a place, a niche, a role to fill. The mortal plane had been shaped perfectly to the vision of the two nameless gods who had worked tirelessly to create paradise.

   

Then, we arrived.

   

The beginnings of elf-kind are clouded in mystery. Some say our forefather Malin was manifested alongside his three other brothers by a divine creator. This may have been true, but we were not part of nature’s plan, we did not share the same creator as the trees, the flowers and the beasts that roamed the world we’d been thrown into. Everywhere our first ancestors went, imbalance followed, for we were an extra piece to an already completed puzzle, what we took we did not give back.

   

The great Mani of the wilds looked to the Aspects for help in purging this anomaly from their realm. Yet instead of scorning us, or obliterating us from their perfect world, the father and mother of nature took pity upon us. They strove to find us a place in their world. They pondered and pondered, but we were by nature different to anything they had created thus far. So, they gave the elves a gift, as they had done for their own children.

   

To the birds they gave wings so they might soar through the sky.

   

To the wolves they gave fangs so they may hunt for their pack.

   

To the salmon they gave strong fins to push through the upstream tides.

   

But to us, our ancestors, the two gave something very different. They unlocked our minds.

   

Where a bear depended on its size to survive, and an elk on its speed, the elves became reliant on their intelligence. With our new divine gift, we spread out through the ancient forests and thrived. We developed clothing to keep us warm in the winter and bows to hunt with so we could eat. We had finally found our place in the balance.

 

When the hordes of Iblees stormed the realm, threatening all the good beings of the earth, the Aspects bestowed upon the elven people the fury of nature. It is said the first druids emerged during this time, blessed with the Aspect’s power to bend the will of the wild. Taynei’hiylu, a powerful dragaar and daughter of the Aspects first took to the skies during this time, her breath restoring life to the wild where the Ibleesian monsters had choked it out.

   

The ancient Elves were incredibly grateful to the beings who had given them so much, who had ensured their survival. They devoted themselves to the worship of these beings who they saw as their divine mother and father. In a tongue more ancient than elven, they gave their new deities names to call them by: Cernunnos and Cerridwen. The Aspects of Nature.

 

The Aspects

The Aspects are the highest form of worship among most Aspectist sects. In standard Aspectism there are two named Aspects, Cernunnos and Cerridwen. It is important to note that while the Aspects are often depicted in humanoid form, it is universally accepted that in reality, the Aspects are nature itself. They are the energy that exists within all living things. Some sects, such as the Ichorians, choose not to recognize the Aspects in corporeal form, instead choosing to acknowledge them as the spirit of the land itself, and worship them through their servants, the Mani. [x]

 

   Cerridwen, The Mother

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Also known as the Green Lady, or Cerridwen- the Mother is the matriarchal side of the balance, depicted as a woman wreathed in leaves and vines, shimmering surreally in many different shapes of nature. Cerridwen is the Aspect of growth, fertility, life and nurturement.

   

Wood elves believe that all trees, grass and other verdant flora and fauna are born and grow under Cerridwen’s nurturing touch, living until Cernunnos claims them in death. The green lady is prayed to for good harvest and when growing the massive elderwood trees in which the elves make their homes.

 

Cernunnos, the Father

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Also known as the Horned Man, or Cernunnos- the Father The patriarchal side of the natural balance. He is often depicted as a strongly built man with the horns of a stag and a longbow in hand. Cernunnos is the Aspect of the hunt, of predators, of chaos, and of death.

   

Wood elves believe that all animals have a deep connection to Cernunnos, and often pray to the horned man for luck when hunting, be it animals or sentient prey. While Cernunnos depicts death, this is not seen as sinister. For all things must die, and it is simply part of the cycle of nature.

 

The Mani [x]

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The Mani are the animal gods that rule the plains, mesas and forests all across the natural world. Each species of beast has its own immortal Prince, a ruler of its kind. The Mani were created to keep balance between the beasts of the land and the descendant peoples than roamed it. In time, the Elven tribes came to worship the Mani. Some Mani were given names by the elves and came to be widely prayed to, while others were not so well known. These worshipped Mani became known as the “Greater Mani”, and included Amaethon the Stag God, Morea the Wolf God, Moccus the Boar God, Kwakwani the Raven, Bolomormaa the Bear, and Machana the Steed, among others.

 

Many Elven traditions revolve around the Mani. Tribal tattoos often bore the likeness of the Mani, and Elven Seeds would often declare a particular Mani to be their tribe’s patron. For example, the Ithelanen consider themselves to be the Seed of the Wolf and the Boar, whereas the Caerme’onn are devout to Amaethon, the Stag. Mani are worshipped as Gods more prominently in the Ichorian faith.

 

Formation of the Faith

For centuries after their creation, the Elves lived as a united people under a Kingdom ruled by Malin, the first elf. One of the original four brothers. During this time, the mali had no formal faith. Malin himself was known to be beloved by the Aspects, and taught many to revere them. Malin taught the elven people about the Aspects, and to live in reverence for nature. Yet as centuries passed, many elves began to abandon the mother and father, and the teachings of Malin. This culminated in the dissapearance of Malin himself.

 

With that, schisms began to form.

 

The elves divided into three different races. The mali’ker under Veluluai would be banished for their madness, retreating into deep caves to worship the moon. The mali’aheral guided by Larihei would abandon the old cities of Malinor to erect silver towers, dabbling in forces of the arcane. Few were left who even cared for Malin’s teachings, let alone the Aspects.

 

It was in the fallout of this that Irrin Sirame emerged, a fierce warrior who had served Malin for centuries. She became convinced that there was no future left for her people in the crumbling city of old Malinor. She called all the remaining faithful of the Aspects and Malin’s teachings to abandon the trappings of the city and exodus with her into the deep forest, where they would adapt pure, natural lifestyles as the Aspects had originally intended.

 

Irrin’s flock were known as the forgotten folk. But they later became known as the Mali’ame- Wood elves. They split into many tribes known as Seeds and spread out across the forests, plains and coastlines.

 

The Seeds of the Mali’ame came to be guided by the great druidic dragaar Taynei’hiylu, who came to be known as their prophet. It was Taynei’hiylu, who at the first Omentahu (gathering of the Seeds) dictated the three tenets of Aspectism that all mali’ame must follow. With the tenets set in stone and the mali’ame people settled in their Seeds, the Aspectist faith as we know it began.

 

The Three Tenets

The Green Dragon dictated the three tenets to the mali’ame many thousands of years ago, her aim to unify the many different wood elven seeds of differing cultures under one code of faith. The three tenets are the pillars of the Aspectist faith, and the core of being a wood elf. To be Aspectist is to live by these pillars.

 

I - Prayer and Offering [x]

“Always worship the mother and father. Hold them dear to your heart. Have their names upon your lips when you experience fortune, and pray to them when you face suffering. Leave offerings, material or symbolic, before their sacred fire.”

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An Aspectist Shrine

 

The first tenet of Aspectism, predictably, is to worship the Aspects. By worshipping the Aspects we honour not only the gods whom keep our world balanced and bountiful, but so too honour the memory of Malin. The wood elven identity stems from the continued adherence of the Aspect’s will and Malin’s guidance even when their silver and ashen cousins abandoned it. The Aspects must continued to be worshipped so ‘ame lands may remain in balance, and the ‘ame people retain their ethnic consciousness.

 

Offerings are given at Aspectist shrines, which can be distinguished by a statue of both gods with a burning brazier between them. The faithful elves offer up material possessions into the flames to symbolically present them to the Aspects. Offerings are done for two main reasons. To seek boons from the Mother and Father in times of need, or to show thankfulness when living off the bounty of their land.

 

II - Bodily Purity

“There exist powers pulled into this world from other plains. Taint not your body with these arcane corruptions, for the veil between the void and the Aspect’s realm is fragile. Taint not your body with the afflictions of the undead or the cursed, for their very nature defies the balance of the wild.”

 

In her address to the Wood Elven Seeds, Taynei spoke out in warning against the dangers of voidal magic, of the unstable, volatile effects it could have upon the world the Aspects had cultivated. She warned that a veil existed between the mortal plane and the void, a veil that was torn at every time arcane magic was ripped into this world by a careless caster. A veil that, if permanently broken, could swallow up the world entirely.

 

To be Aspectist is to abstain from the void and its powers. And true followers of the faith should always do what is necessary to stop its spread among the mali’ame people. Naturally, necromancers and the undead are diametrically opposed to the Aspects, and the faith demands the active purging of these beings.

 

To abstain from tainting yourself with these afflictions is to keep your body pure, and to keep your body pure of otherworldly taint is to be mali’ame, to be Aspectist.

 

III - Upholding the Wild

“Be you gentle like the Mother, or fierce like the Father, always remember that as mali’ame, your duty is to the wild. Warriors, take up arms against that which threatens it. Healers, nurture it so it may run its natural course. Everyone must submit themselves to live with the ebb and flow of the cycle of life.”

 

Naturally, to be an Aspectist is to live with great reverence for nature. To understand and live in accordance to the cycle of life and the concept of a balanced ecosystem. Aspectists must take an active role in preserving nature, be it through everyday mundane actions, or great feats. One can be as bombastic as to take up an active hunt for necromancers and the undead and slay beasts born of the void. Or, as simple as being conscious not to overhunt, overfish, to plant their crops sparingly.

 

Aspectists must always be conscious of how their actions will affect the world around them. Be prepared to treat living creatures with as much a right to live as they do, as well as be ready to accept death as the natural course.

 

    The Balance

Core to Aspectist philosophy is the understanding of the balance. The balance is something elves have tried to fully comprehend for millennia, but never have they completely succeeded.

   

The Aspects are called the aspects because they are just that. They embody the aspects of everything. The nature of the world around us, and the nature of our souls. They have grown to know elf-kind very well in the millennia we have spent as their adopted children and servants, as we have gotten to know them. However, we can never truly understand the minds of gods, nor the true complexity of their magnum opus: the balance.

 

Sacred Seasons

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The natural seasons are considered a sacred phenomena in the Aspectist rite, and the passing from winter to spring to summer to autumn is met with a rich tradition of ritual and ceremony. The seasons are the essense of the natural world to wood elven eyes, and the way wood elves choose to live reflects the current season.

 

To Aspectists, the seasons also reflect the natural lifecycle of all things. Spring is the beginning of new life, summer the apex and prime of it, fall its inevitable decline, and winter its death. The cycle repeats in infinite and the wood elven traditions rely heavy on this symbolism.

 

Seasonal Ceremonies [x]

At the peak of each season, a public ritual is held. Depending on the season, these rituals can be massive public affairs, or somber, quiet processions. The rituals are reflective of the season in which they take place. They are all a time where wood elves come together as a community to worship their gods.

 

Seasonal Offerings

The act of ritual offering is an integral part of the Aspectist faith. Not all offerings are tied to the passing of seasons, but it is customary to give an offering to the Aspects at the beginning of each season. The material offering given reflects the nature of the season. A summer gift would vary vastly from a winter one.

 

Spring is a time of rebirth and rejuvenation. The wood elves celebrate their children during this time of year, and make promises and resolutions on how to renew and better their lives. The spring ceremony is a solemn and contemplative one, quiet and calming. Offerings to the Aspects during this time reflect the desire for a rebirth or renewal, such as a budding leaf, or a lock of one’s own hair.

 

Summer is considered a bright, vibrant and colourful time and the summer ceremony is a loud, public affair of contests, hunts, and fire. Offerings during the summertide are often symbolically tied to strength, featuring byproducts of beasts taken during great hunts.

 

Fall is a time of passing. A quiet, somber period. The fall ceremony is a quiet procession of remembrance, where wood elves honour their dead. Offerings in fall also incorporate animal byproducts and anything resembling the passing from the mortal realm into the eternal fae. It is often done in a context of honouring deceased ancestors.

 

Winter is a time of desolation and darkness. The winter ceremony, in contrast, is a bright, vibrant celebration. A great dance telling the story of Amaethon, a guardian mani spirit, as he banishes away evil spirits of the winter night. Winter offerings often are dedicated to Amaethon. Painted shells, rocks, and anything that represents a light of hope in the darkness are accepted.

 

The Naelurir [x]

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Naelurir are the official priesthood of the Aspectist faith and its representatives among the wood elven people. They are a circle of druids who devote themselves to the education and tradition-conservation of the elven people. The Naelurir are a purely elven druidic circle, with a name meaning ‘ones who teach’ in the ancient tongue. They keep the Aspects teachings strong, and teach their people to know how to live in harmony with the world created by the mother and father, just as Malin did many centuries ago.

 

The Naelurir are the successors of the ancient nealu’ir, a similar order of druids who served as mentors and peacekeepers among the ancient Mali’ame seeds under the guidance of Taynei’hiylu. However, in the modern era, the Naelurir’s mandate has become focused more on the recovery of lost knowledge and the eventual re-converting of all mali’ame who have forgotten the Aspectist faith.

 

Associations of the Faith

Religion and Culture went hand in hand in the among the ancient wood elves, thus developed traditions among the mali’ame people that were not necessarily born out of faith, but became synonymous with it as Aspectism became deeply interwoven with them.

 

The Seeds [x]

Seeds are more a secular tradition than a religious one. But their ancient roots [x] and deep connections with Malin and the Aspects make them an integral part to the Aspects faith. Each Seed has its own unique ilmyumier- i.e tattoo. These range from blood-red inking of stag horns, to ocean blue wave like patterns, to dark green swirls resembling the branches of a mother oak tree. An elf who belongs to a seed is easy to point out due to their painted nature.

 

The Seeds defined the Wood Elves for millenia, and each seed was Aspectist. It was one of the only things tying together what was often vastly different tribes under one common faith. In the modern day, a mali’ame family or tribe must be Aspectist to be recognized as an official Seed by the old rite.

 

Status Markings [x]

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The Mark of Kwakwani the Raven

 

The mali’ame came to develop a ritualistic system of vibrant skin-markings, all revolving around the core facets of their identity as individuals, and as a society and culture. First came the Seed Ilmyumier (old elvish meaning “To Carry”), where each wood elven tribe endowed themselves with a specific marking or crest, inked into their skin, to indicate their affiliation with that Seed. Next, came the Ilmyumier of Standing.

 

Wood elves began to brand themselves to indicate their status, and the role they had taken in life. These brands originally had little cohesion or consistency, but through many Omentahu (great meetings of all the Seeds) these status tattoos slowly became standardized across all seeds. So all wood elves, no matter from which tribe, would be able to look at the markings on any fellow mali’ame’s skin and be able to tell their rank and role within their Seed.

 

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Aspectist Scriptures

Scriptures of the Aspectist faith written by the various members of the Naelurir Druidic Priests, covering a variety of topics regarding the Aspectist lifestyle and tenets.

 

Rituals

The Sacred Essences and Markings

A Guide to Ritual Offering

Prayers in Elvish

Petal Lines - Tiva [x]

 

Schools of Thought

The Emerald Way Written by Sister Hurricane

Blessings and Sermons

The Ichor Way Written by Brother Koi

Ichorian Practices

The Sage Way Written by Sister Owl

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