In the quiet hours of the night, a small, robed figure slowly comes to a halt in front of the statues of Cerridwen and Cernnunos within the Sparrow Grove. She slowly kneels, laying a book on the steps, wrapped in leaves and tied together with handmade rope. Quietly she whispers a prayer, departing. The book has been left behind, for the priesthood.
The Emerald Way
The Way of Will, The Emerald Path
Perfection is unattainable,
But it is no excuse not to strive for it,
This henceforth is my quest,
My ideal, my call.
I will try when my arms grow too weary,
And face the unbeatable foe.
I will bear with unbearable sorrow,
And I will right the unrightable wrong,
What is sickness to the body of Emerald?
What matters pain?
For each time I fall, I shall rise again,
And woe be unto the wicked!
For I am Emerald
I will endure all things,
and be vigilant in my stand,
From this day until the end of my days.
The Oath of Emerald, scribed by the Oracle Hurricane
The Emerald Way holds no place amongst the annals of history.
I, it’s creator, am no ancient mali of yore.
Yet the way has taken root within our culture, and it grows now.
It began with the pilgrimage of the Oracle Awaiti Aureon, who took to the wilds in search of a solution to bring together the Naelurir of Caras Eldar once again. Over her time in the wilds, she scribed the beginnings of the philosophy, and laid down the framework for the creeds of the wild faith. The Emerald Way was born then as the first creed of the wild faith. From the birth of the first creed, others were motivated to kindle the beginnings of their own creeds. What followed was a renaissance of philosophy within the wild faith, and the birth of the Ichorian Creed, and the Sage Way. Their own separate and unique philosophies.
In the darkest reaches of the forests, the Ichorians dwelled, seeking to cultivate raw strength to match the power of the primal wilds. The sages took to their own, focusing on the balance within, ignoring the material need. But those that followed the Emerald Way took a different path.
After the exodus of the Ithelanen and the Torena seeds to the Gladewynn Company, the Oracle left her people, leaving the philosophy in the hands of her students.Within the budding nation, her students kept to the ways. To endure, to fight for what is right and just, and to revere the aspects in all things.
To be understanding, yet absolute. To not bow, or bend, or break. For the Emeraldians know that true strength does not come from the body, but from the will.
Not to be without fear. But to recognize that there is something more important than fear, something that outshines fear. From this, will is born.
To stand strong despite unspeakable horror. Despite loss and anger. To be able to think with a clear mind, while the world crashes down around you.
“The Storm Rises”
To look ahead, and prepare for the worst. The key is to look forward without becoming fearful or paranoid of what has not yet come. I pray caution.
“And Emerald shall rise to meet it.”
Philosophy of the Emerald Way
The Emerald Way can be summed up in its axiom
“To will change upon the self is to change the world. Only through will can all balance be attained”
This axiom rests upon several truths.
The self is malleable. Changeable. Nothing is untouchable by great change.
The world can be changed by the effort of the self. Our actions cause change.
Balance is gained through change. Change is obtained through will. Will is forged by choice.
As followers of the Emerald Way, we use these truths as a guide for our lives.
The Mother. Lady of Life. Bearer of all fruits. Cerridwen. She holds many names, and titles in our faith. She is the mother of life, the shaper of all that is living. She is often depicted as a beautiful woman, carrying a staff. She created all that is living, each and every tree and frog and tiger. It is to her that we owe our fruitful harvests, and it is to her that we thank for the shade of the great elder trees. We shape her trees into homes, that we may be sheltered from the storm.
Think of life itself as water. And think of every creature and plant as clay vases. Cerridwen created all of the vases, and filled them with this water of life. In the Emerald Way, we view her as the great unifier. We are all united by these waters of life, and each and every descendant carries this water of life inside of them.
The Father. The Horned Lord. Strength. Cernunnos. He holds many names, and many titles in our faith. He is the lord of the hunt, and the father of strength. He is often depicted as a horned man, carrying a bow, or a spear. It is to him that we owe our bountiful hunts, and it is to him that we are granted our strength. We enjoy full bellies, and great feasts because of him. But despite this, many view him as lord over death as well. After all, he chooses what lives and dies by granting strength and taking it. But the Emerald Way views him in a different light.
He is instead, the lord of change. Instead of drying the oceans, he is the tide, ever changing the world around him. And he is the current, ever shifting life around. In the Emerald Way, there is no death. There is only life. A corpse feeds the grasses, and enriches that life. Suddenly, more grass arises. We are fed, and we give birth to our sons and daughters. Life never leaves this world. It only shifts from form to form. Think back to the vases and waters in Cerridwen’s passage. Instead of breaking the vases, Cernunnos merely pours water from vase to vase, and shapes new ones. There is great peace in this. I take heart knowing that I will live on this world even when the last elf has fallen.
I. Morality as Inner Balance
On yesterday's eve, I witnessed a sight most common, though for some unknown reason, it struck me strange. An elk was torn into by a beast, and ripped into, to eat. A common occurrence, yes, this is known. Tis’ the way of nature, the beasts eat the common gazelle, and so on. The predator eats the prey, and the prey feeds on what it can. There is no evil in it, the predator must eat as much as the prey, and the prey must eat what it can, and there is only survival in it. The predator feels naught for devouring its prey, nor does the prey when it grazes upon the grasses, despite life being taken from the world. Such is the unseen way of all natural life. Life passes on and on and through each moving piece of it. There is no evil or good in the natural balance, only what is and what survives.
Such also is the way of druidism, our gifts are given without thought of good and evil, but with only this delicate balance of the cycle of life in mind. Druids are expected to be as neutral as nature in this sense, are we not? It is the duty of druids to correct the balance, wheresoever it may be corrupted, without heed for borders. It is our duty to correct it, we must. We have been charged by the aspects above to do our sacred duties, and the order has decided we must do it this way, completely neutrally.
But this charge ignores a most fundamental principle of our life as descendants, of how we have grown and developed to live with morality, to have the sense of good and evil, and all in between. It is what makes us what we are, it is what gives us our humanity, and this makes us truly and beautifully unique. We are not a part of this balance the aspects have created for us, but we surely live with it. Though to attempt to live without morality, to attempt to live neutrally and strive to think as the aspects do, without heed of what is good and evil, this is unnatural of our own being. It makes us only as simple as the beasts and prey that are in the balance we seek so desperately to protect. We cannot, and we should not deny what we are, how we think, but we must find a balance of our own, and look over the balance of nature with a sense of right and wrong.
To live along with both the balance and the descendants, separately, yet together. In this, we are allowed to exercise our sense of right and wrong and do our duty to protect the balance with great strength. It is not the nature of men to keep out of everything, we, as Malin's kin, must be involved in the survival of our people, and our culture, for surely the theatre of the world seeks to stamp us out yet. One would say it distracts us from our duty, to be a part of a nation. This is not the case, nay. I might even say it better allows us to perform our duties. While we cannot live as neutral, we are able to do our best to spread what is good, and what is just. It is of the utmost importance that druids maintain strong ties to the world they live in and protect, they cannot fly above it all. Neutrality is a disease that leaves men weak, and staggeringly alone, as many beasts are. Fellow priests of the balance, I say to you. Do not catch the disease of neutrality. Hone your sense of right and wrong, fight always for the path of good for you and your people. Do not become unnatural men, stripped of all sense of what is good or evil in the world. In morality, we find our strength together. Apathy is a fate worse than death, for even a rotting corpse feeds new life.
II. Will Within Balance
We are inherently separate from the thing we protect so dearly, as druii. The balance consists of life around us, the seen and hidden movements of nature ever moving in a circle around us. The birds and trees die out, but there is ever a forest standing, no? Songbirds fill the air, do they not? We are ever surrounded by life, yet death lurks and strikes here and there. No matter how oft or how heavy death’s strikes may be, life ever moves on. Many druii take our duty to protect the balance as a sign that the world is weak. It is the opposite indeed, for the balance of the world knows a will far greater than our own. Life will find a way, no matter how damaged it may be. We druii exist only as a means of preserving the balance’s state, and correcting it where we find imbalance.
Yet as I say, we are inherently separate from the balance of the world. Instead, we hold a force of our own within, potentially even equal to this primordial balance of the world. The balance of the self. The Emerald way is, at its core, the way of two balances. One cannot neglect this balance of the self when protecting the balance of the world, for it is far more fragile, and far weaker. This balance, in a way, is even more important than that which the druii are sworn to protect. With this separation from the balance of the world, the circle of life is entirely indifferent to us, to our very being. We have little sway over it, though many druids seem to rely on it for their source of strength. They use their gifts frivolously, and have grown dangerously dependant on them.
They fail to realize that to rely on their gifts to do protect is dangerous, and leaves men weak. No man or woman can hope to fully control this primordial force, and they are left with atrophied bodies, defenseless without their gifts. They fail to realize that true strength comes from within, and that in order to change the balance, and protect it, we must cultivate our own will to match the strength of the world’s will. While faith is important, true strength is drawn from our own volition; The power to use your will, which is equally important as obtaining power itself. Never live for the sake of another, or an ideology. Live for yourself, and no other. With that, we empower ourselves to carry out the will of the aspects, to protect the balance.
III. The Nature of Will
A man can change everything if he is willing to sacrifice for it.
The greatest changes require the strongest wills,
And we must give much for the salvation of this world.
In the beginning, we have nothing.
Our privilege is the dirt.
In such darkness, our will guides us to light
Perspective pierces the veil of dark.
Our birthright is our failings, and the pain we suffer.
When darkness comes, we can rely on no other to face it for us.
Only through our willpower can balance be attained.
IV. Beings of the Present Self
The balance does not, nor can it be made to be still for long. All things move until they pass on, and even then their energies move ever forward into other forms, other vessels that will move on and on. And from movement, movement is born, ever arching outward. You, druii, are no exception to this commotion. We constantly expend our energies in creating islands of quiet within our lives, trying to still the waves that march ever onward, yet it cannot last. Time encroaches, it consumes all things. Fling yourself to the waves of life, druii, engage in the here and now, and you will find that the key to living is your own will. The will to see life for its flaws, and the will to better it, to create your own waves.
One cannot focus on the waves that have long since passed, the echoes of feelings you once felt. The past does hold merit in giving us its teachings, but from there, move on. It holds nothing for you. Let the past die, and use what you have learned to shape your present. With the lessons of the past, we can focus on dealing with what is here and now, with the waves that crash over us. Use what you have learned to enact your will, and shape the waves around you. And perhaps prevent a tidal wave from overwhelming you in the future by dispersing it before it happens. By changing your destiny. There is no lasting stillness. It is impossible. Accept this. Know it in your bones. Watch the world happening around you, and through your will, forge your own echoes, your own cadence in this world. Live in the moment, and your will can shape the future.
V. The Balance of the Self
My words earlier in these pages were far too simple, I’m afraid, for they leave out a great deal in seeking to express the point, but they failed to truly explain my deeper meaning. Earlier, I stated that the balance within consists of the will to act on the sense of good and evil. Though I do not refute that, I’m afraid that the truer meaning of the inner balance is lost on such words. Good and evil are a point of view, different to each person. I have found better words to explain such a dichotomy. Instead of viewing the inner balance as the senses of good and evil, replace such words with selfishness and selflessness. To act for the self, and to act for others. This opens the situations to all by providing a common meaning.
You cannot have one without the other in life. Pure selfishness only harms others, and amassing your own power can lead you to enact your desires as opposed to working toward the balance. Instead, one must use the powers gained from selfishness to act selflessly in life. To sacrifice for the good of others, and of the balance. But beware, lliran. Pure selflessness is just as destructive as pure selfishness. Benevolence for the sake of benevolence leaves you in a worse position than when you started, it weakens you and sacrifices your own strength to help. In addition, it robs others of their struggles, their own opportunities to learn and gain their own strength. Never sacrifice your own strength to rob another of their struggles. As I said before. Recognize the value in letting people fight their own battles, and they will be all the stronger for it.
Selfishness for the sake of selflessness… this is how we can protect the balance. By enacting our own will through this, we have the strength to alter the balance and preserve it. This inner balance is not inherent to druids, or even the balance that they protect. It is inherent to the descendants, this ability to act in selfishness and selflessness. It is where inner strength is drawn, the will to enact change upon the world. Such a principle applies to all aspects of life, and so it is important that druids hone their will to act on this sense. A druid who has mastered their ability to act on this sense will go far. A soldier who has mastered it will find his enemies falling before him. A farmer who has mastered it will know only bountiful harvests. It applies to all paths through life. If we cannot find the strength to act on this and hold balance in our sense of selfishness and selflessness, how then can we hope to protect the primordial balance of the world? We cannot.
VI. The Absence of Understanding
The Lord and Lady have blessed you with eyes to see and ears to hear, and a whole world to experience. Yet we remain blind and deaf to most of it. I remain blind, despite teachings that were meant to open my eyes and help me see the world for what it was. We consider it a great tragedy when one falls to darkness, when they stray away from the teachings of the order, and when they fall into hands that turn them to violence and disparity. Many of our students are failing, falling to darkness in their belief continuously. Those that remain follow blindly to their teachers, like sheep, unable to think past the surface of druidism. Most haven't thought yet to dive in. We are missing something within our teachings. Missing a piece that keeps the ambitious prodigies away from darkness, and a piece that allows others to break their chains and to be free from the slavery of secular thought.
The teachings of our order, I find, ignore the dark of the world. They preach only the light, and are blind for it. I have sought the contrast myself, the dark to compliment the light, not to oppose it. I will not tell what I have learned here, only that the current teachings do not hold all of the answers you need. By learning what they have not taught me, I have seen what makes us weak. If you are to truly understand, then you too must seek this contrast, not adherence to this single ideal. To believe in an ideal is to be willing to betray it, to look where it may forbid you to go. It is a lesson of strength. If you do believe in an ideology, then find its opposite, so that you may reinforce it by correcting its flaws. Become what strengthens an ideology, not a slave to it by following it dogmatically. Without this contrast, we are but marionettes, tangled in the strings of weaknesses in our ideologies.
VII. The Value of Struggle and Self Reliance
Pure benevolence weakens the self, and those to whom it is cast upon. Do not roam the world, dispensing pity and self sacrifice unto others. By giving others the chance to fight their own struggles, internally and externally, we give them the chance to cultivate their own will. Do not be a thief in the night, stealing strength from others where you would mask it with benevolence. If you truly wish to help another, recognize the value in letting them cultivate their strength and will through their struggles. When they triumph, their victory will be far greater than it would be if you would help them.
Through your own struggles, cultivate this inner will, and you will find the path to balance. Create a strict reliance on yourself, rather than your connection to the balance, to the thing you protect. Too many druids of our age focus on honing their gifts to better serve the lord and lady above on this earth. I ask you, strip them of their gifts, and what do they become? Only empty shells, incapable of enacting their duty to the balance without the gifts of the aspects. And that is no true disciple of the balance. Without will, we are nothing.
This brings us to a fundamental question: If a druid loses her powers, is she still a druid? The way you would answer would depend on your view. If you say no, you believe inherently that only those with the gifts can make a difference in this world, and you are wrong. The devout, druii without gifts, are simply those with greater will. With the proper will, everything can be changed, such is the nature of will itself. Druidism is something greater than simply gifts. Those that would choose death over a life without their gifts are those whose wills are weak, and were unworthy of them in the first place.
VIII. The Nature of Life and Death
The Mother above creates and cares for life throughout the world, and spreads it over the land. Helps it grow, nurtures it. Heals it. Guides it. The energy of life exists through all living things. Tt surrounds us, penetrates us. It binds the world together, and unifies it all. It is fluid, like the water that carries it. This is known.
Death does not exist. This life created by the mother never leaves this world, it merely passes from vessel to vessel. The fallen elk feeds the grasses, and the prey feeds the predator. On and on the cycle moves, life being poured from vase to vase. It holds many different shapes and forms, but at its core, all forms are simply life. We are no exception to this. It is because of this that the role of the father is oft misunderstood, however. He is not death, nor is he the hunt. His name is strength, not for his ability to take life, or hold mastery over it. But for his power to move the energies of life from one vessel to the next. It is from his will that the balance exists. It is from his own will that life moves from vessel to vessel, never stagnating, never finding stillness. It is due to this change that life is truly precious, and each form just as valuable as the last.
So where do we lay among all of these vessels? Where does our power come from? We cannot define ourselves by our ability to take life, to control it even or possess it. To do so is to have nothing, truly. Death does not exist, and to define yourself by your ability to usher it, your strength is as fleeting as grains of sand in the wind. But if we define ourselves by our ability to will great change in the world, to move and change the vessels of life as Cernunnos does? That is true strength, lliran. This is what the focus of druii should be. Cultivating the will to usher change.
IX. Facing Conflict
I speak much against a neutral stance, and this much holds true. One should always act when they have the opportunity to, and when there is greater suffering in the world. But I have not always been clear on what it is to act on, or how one should carry themselves. In my life, I have been through many struggles of my own, and this is the view I have learned thus far, and it is the view I shall give unto the Emerald Way, that others may find a better way to approach their problems.
Live your life, and act with great respect and wisdom, for you must be a beacon of change for the world, a fount of knowledge and veneration. Without strong principles to guide us through our own morality, what then can we enact our will from? A principled life, one with a strong basis for which we act is the only life worth living. But what is principle without the perspective to see the world around you as it is? Through rigorous meditation we gain clearer perspective, and can find the solution to any problem. When on your journey through life, take one step at a time, look up from your feet and observe the living world around you. Speak to all you may meet and soak in all the details you can, learn what comes to you. Life is to be savoured, taken slowly. Rashness is the path toward greater suffering. Will. Principle. Perspective. These are three values that the Emerald Way promotes. Through these values, act with a tempered and clear mind, and seek always to see more than what you are shown. From these values, we find the strength to change anything in this world. Even destiny.
X. The Place of Gifts and Tools
I have said before, the druids rely on the gifts far too much. It overtakes their being, and in some cases, druids cannot function in day to day life without the use of their gifts. It becomes a crutch, one that would leave a druid crippled without it. Such deep rooted dependency is something to be avoided, something to be shut down and moved away from. And even in our divine mission, many rely entirely on this aspect-given gift to do our work. Without them, I don’t doubt that many would fail in their mission, that they would cease to protect the balance without their precious gifts.
And I sense an even more sinister plot. That many druids are here only for the power that they may receive from the gifts. Devotion is a scarce thing to see these days, true devotion to the lord and lady above. Many druids fall, and when they lose their gifts, they simply move onto something else that may give them the power they seek to enact their wills. Give many of the druids of the order only silence, and you will truly see who follows the aspects.
But you may see this as me having a negative view of the gifts, which cannot be further from the truth. I have only a negative view of druids that rely on such gifts, that depend on them, sometimes to the extent of needing them to live. Such reliance is weakness, and weakens the order as a whole. However, the gifts themselves are not to blame.
We have many tools at our disposal to aid us in our mission of preserving the balance of life. Our mind, our physical strength, our charisma, our words, and yes, our gifts. The gifts are but one singular tool with many uses, just like the other tools. You do not need the gifts in order to protect the balance, just like you do not need the gifts in order to be a druid. To believe that one must have the gifts in order to carry out our divine mission is vanity, don’t you see it? I would rather a devout person without gifts that protects the balance to the best of their ability rather than a druid who uses their gifts for personal gain, or one that seeks personal power.
The Order should enforce teachings of these inherent tools that we already possess, and their uses in protecting the balance, rather than preparing them to rely on their gifts. Teaching students that only their new power can preserve the balance is a dangerous and self destructive way of thinking, and is the reason behind many of the greatest failings of our order. There is a silent lust for power within our teachings, I think, and we are utterly blind to it. Always, the next step in learning is to master a new gift. At least, this is what I have seen in the world. There is a great flaw in this method.
XI. Amongst the Shadows, the Hunter Preys
“When the darkness comes, we can rely on no other to face it.”
A hard truth that rings out in the Nature of Will. We are alone in this world, and we can rely on no other, be it a nation, or a friend, to protect us from the evils that seek to cause imbalance in ourselves and in the world around us. Sure, others can assist you in your journey to find balance, but ultimately, we are on our own on this path. This includes when the walls of our world come crashing down around us, and when others draw blades in offense.
Remember this lesson though, amongst the shadows the hunter preys. Stick to the shadows and become the hunter, not the hunted any longer. The wild hunter works alone, or perhaps in a smaller group, staying away until the moment is right to strike. Be the wild hunter, and stick to the shadows like paste, be they physical shadows or metaphorical. A hunter can navigate through the webs that society weaves just as well as the darkest depths of the forests.
Watch always. Strike without warning. Wait for the opportune moment to strike. And train with but a close teacher watching, no others. Do not show others your strength until the last possible moment. Hold your strengths, your tools close to your chest, and they become all the more powerful. When traipsing through society’s webs, blend in. Do not draw attention to yourself.
To walk the path of a druid is to live in service to the two balances. Fight for both of them, and little else. Use violence for necessity and defense, never for indulgence or boasting. Survival is key. Balance is key.
XII. The Power of Identity
In all things, know who you are. Your identity as a person is imperative to the two balances. Control your identity. Form it. Shape it. Let no other have reign over it. For when your identity is controlled, you are controlled, and your ability to serve the balance diminishes. Your name is your own, and no other’s. In terms of your tools, it is among your strongest.
Forge a new identity if you must, in order to break the chains placed upon you by others. Take no titles but those you forge for yourself. Self control is the path to true will.
XIII. The Importance of Endurance as Mali
As mali, our people are fragile. We are few in number, but long lived. Much can happen within our lives, and we must be prepared to face everything. Be it death, war, famine, or genocide. Be it the murders that haunt us, or the misdeeds and sins of the many. Be it our own failures. We must endure through all things.
We must stand at the highest peaks, until the wind tears the mountain into the sea. We must live amongst the forests until they no longer stand. We must endure a thousand wars and watch the blood of our brothers and sisters stain the grasses.
This is why we must value endurance to the point of zealotry. We must tune the mind and body to last through all these things. We must constantly stand tall, or we are doomed to fail in our mission as druii.
As the world changes around you, remain unmoved by it. You have a duty to your brothers and sisters to endure. But more importantly, you have a duty to yourself, and to the aspects to endure.
XIV. On Mani
I have noticed something that quite disturbs me. It has brought questions that have shaken my being.
In the decline of the Dominion, before we were split to the core, I was beginning to see the rise of the worship of mani. At first, I was quite pleased to see it, watching the faithful delve deeper into the mysteries that the aspects laid before us. But before long, I saw trouble brewing.
The faithful began directing their prayers only unto the mani. They rose their names higher and higher, and I watched as many began to favor the statues of the mani over those of the aspects themselves. Before long, our faith began dividing itself yet again, its members grouping themselves by their patron mani. When I saw this, I suspected a schism to pass, yet I did little to change the fate I saw before me. And before I knew it, the followers of Morea and Moccus led an exodus from our lands.
This disheartens me. Watching my brothers and sisters place others over the aspects themselves. Perhaps it was the natural progression of this faith, I do not know. But even after I watched as many followed down this path, I knew that the aspects are above all. The Emerald Way will hold no mani of its own, that we may show our reverence to the aspects above all else.
Revere the mani, yes. Worship the mani, yes. But in all things, the aspects reign over all.
The Emerald Path
The dedicancy of an aspiring druid is a path that varies greatly between circles, and even between kindred druii. All of our brothers and sisters have been birthed from these various dedicancies, and many great druids have been birthed from it. Yet despite these successes, we’ve been failing our students. I’ve seen two extremes of our failure within the Naelurir. Our students become mindless sheep, unable and unwilling to explore the deeper mysteries of our world. They cannot act until they’re ordered to, and are often the victims of sloth. They do not carry out the tasks required by our priesthood.
And the other side are the independent minds. The ambitious ones with their own agenda in mind. Ones that seek power before faith. These are the dark ones that come from our order. We are responsible for them, for their actions as an order. We’ve always blamed them, their own passions and shortcomings, but we’ve never pointed a finger to ourselves. There is great fault in our teachings, a lack of tempering for these minds that leads them to search elsewhere for better answers.
Thus, the basic teachings of the Emerald Way;
After taking their oath to the aspects in blood, a strong foundation and understanding of the wild faith is important in fostering a deeper understanding from which we can truly become independent thinkers. To pass through the trials, one must have these foundations prebuilt, that they may fully utilize the tasks they’ve been given. Therefore, before tasks can begin, a student should have in depth instruction on at least the following topics, if not further.
The Core Teachings
Cerridwen, Cernunnos, The Balance, The Mani
The History of Mali
Taynei’hiylu, Irrin Sirame, Seed Era, Modern History
Medicine and Combat
Studies of the Mysteries
The Eternal Forest, Rituals, Prayers, and Offerings
The Insight of Creeds
To search for deeper insight. This is the purpose of examining the three creeds of the aspectist faith. It is one thing to know your duties, to perform them to the best of your ability. It is another to fully understand why you do them, and to find a deeper meaning in them that may echo in all of your actions. A creed is not something to tell you how to live your life, nor to tell you how exactly to do your duties. They are simply ways for finding a deeper understanding of druidism and aspectism in your life, and connecting the self to the balance in ways unheard of before.
Thus, it should be required of all dedicants that they examine each of them, learn from their heralds about each of them. To understand the contrast betwixt the three creeds is of the utmost importance, even when dedicated to the Emerald Path alone.
Path of an Acolyte
To further prove dedication to the aspects themselves, and to prove the prowess of the self, dedicants must serve the priesthood as unattuned persons, assisting their guides in protecting the balance through whatever means are required. Whether that be defending a druid during their travels and in their duty, or witnessing a conversion. Through their time as an acolyte, a dedicant should learn how to act as a priest, and how a priest must carry themselves.
After an acolyte has taken the path, and shadowed a priest, the priest overseeing them will announce them to be ready for the trials. The priest must present them either before two high priests, or two oracles to be judged if they are worthy to become priests. If found wanting, they will be returned to the path of an Acolyte. If they have been judged worthy, they will begin their trials to ascend to priesthood.
Which trials to be taken are up to the priest overseeing their acolyte. If one has joined a creed, then they may follow the trials of the creed. If not, a teacher may start them on their own trials. If a teacher has not developed their own tasks, they may follow the ones below.
Trial of Knowledge: The acolyte must write a thesis on the lessons of the wild faith, and of the Emerald Way to show their understanding and provide a new perspective on either of the three to show critical thinking. If they can find another way to show what they have learned, they may show it that way. It will be left to the judgement of the priest overseeing.
Trial of Steel: An acolyte must show great courage and bravery, be it through fighting a great enemy, or facing down against a great evil. Defeating a dark creature, or fighting in a war. Any great feat of bravery must be shown.
Trial of Endurance: An acolyte must endure great hardship, struggle, pain, or loss. Be it through battle, or the rending of flesh. Battle scars may suffice. If an acolyte cannot endure loss, or pain, how can they be expected to uphold their own character, and that of the order?
Trial of Reflection: Give dedicant peyote or other herb that makes them disoriented. Then, take him to a mountain nearby with a dagger and nothing else to learn about Cernunnos. To feel that longing for food and to experience the grit of the hunt. They must come back with a kill. (OOC NOTE: For this one, make them write a short story about their character’s experience, like a forum post, as making them emote at nothing while they’re on their own in a forest is boring.)
Trial of Faith: Perform a public ritual (Wedding/Last Rites/Warpainting/Leading a group offering), with an elder priest to oversee. OR an acolyte may bring two other mali into the fold of aspectism. Or in some way, the dedicant must demonstrate a considerable knowledge of the wild faith. Either will do.
GRAND TRIAL: Dedicant comes up with what they want their grand task to be. Guide has to approve it. Must be Grand
“The gifts do not maketh the priest. The priest maketh the gifts.” - The Oracle, Hurricane
After their path has been taken, and their trials complete, it has come time for a priest to be attuned, and to undertake the burden of the two balances.