Primal Spirits of the Delannwood
The wood elves of the Delannwood worship the natural spirits of the forest, eschewing the Archfey of the Feywild or the gods of man and dwarf. Though they do not outlaw the reverence of the gods, it is looked upon as unseemly - a corruption of natural elven ways, something introduced by outsiders.
Wood Elven Worship
The worship of the primal spirits is considered personal and intimate. There are no formalized rites, nor mass religious gatherings. Their only priesthood are the faertirnen ("watchers of spirits"), as druids are called among the wood elves, and they are not a pastoral priesthood - their service is to the spirits only, rather than to a congregation or petitioners of any kind. They do not even act to teach others rites or prayers, as such things are passed within families or other social groups, and the faertirnen are forbidden to work to change or alter such things.
Many of the faertirnen are craftsmen who work on small objects or shrines, often hung in trees in devotion, which other elves use as sacred places of prayer. Though nothing exists in the wood elven religious practice that mandates prayer and ritual be held in the presence of such a token, many wood elves claim that the craftsmanship of the tokens is pleasing to the senses, and reminds them of the spirits, and so places them in the proper frame of mind for reverence. The closest thing to temples the wood elves have are the structures wrought by those faertirnen who are also galadhremmirdain (those who construct the galadhremmirdain of the wood elven people).
Most elves know the names of a few of the spirits in their local area, as well as that of Mithonnen, Ithildinnir and Orntaural. But for the most parts, prayers and rites are spoken to Faerhoth, or "the host of spirits," rendering prayer in the plural for all those spirits named and unnamed who might hear such prayers.
Faergwador: Druid Circles
All druids hear the call of one of the spirits. Inevitably, this leads to the seeking of an audience with that spirit, and subsequent initiation into one of the brotherhoods of faertirnen, the faergwador (or "spirit brotherhood). The three main faergwador are:
- The Arangwanur: The "royal kin" brotherhood claim Mithonnen himself as their patron. They all tend to wield potent elemental powers, and take as their central oath direct service to the river and his queen, the Rînsirion of the Delannwood. Druids who hear the call of lesser spirits of elemental aspect are usually initiated into the Arangwanur.
- The Thondgwanur: The "root kin" are the faergwador initiated into the mysteries of the King of the Wood Orntaural. Any number of forest spirits who call to a faertirnen lead them to initiation in this circle, and they are easily the most common of the druids among the Delann.
- The Celegwanur: The "silver kin" are those druids who are called to the shapeshifting mysteries taught by Ithildinnir and by other beastly or strange, mercurial spirits of the Delannwood. The Celegwanur are often dedicated hermits and dendrites, dwelling in the forest expanses and among animals. Many of them also establish and maintain strong alliances with the shifter tribes.
- Mithonnen: This spirit, considered the patron and guardian of the Delann people, is a great spirit of the river whose name means "mistborn." Mithonnen is said to have been the first of the primal spirits to welcome the ancestors of the Delann to the mortal world after they fled the Feywild. Though it appears only rarely, it often appears as a great horse made of the rushing waters of the raging river, its mane the roaring white spray of the rapids, and its hooves made of river stones.
- Orntaural: "King of the Wood" is just that - a mighty spirit who is the very embodiment of the Delannwood. He is a wild spirit, and dangerous to those with neither woodcraft or respect for the sanctity of the wood. He appears as a pale stag with a dozen tines, though those who draw near to him can see that his flesh is the heart of a pine, and his stags are mighty forking oak branches, and his eyes are golden amber. Orntaural is favored by some faertirnen who seek the power of the land (Circle of the Land druids).
- Ithildinnir: This spirit's name means "of the full moon." Ithildinnir is a spirit little spoken of among most wood elves, whose lives are not directly impacted by this spirit's power. He is quite favored by the faertirnen, however, for many of the druids seek the power of Ithildinnir, who aids in their shapeshifting ability (Circle of the Moon druids). More notably, however, Ithildinnir is greatly revered among the shifter tribes as the Silver Radiance, the power of the moon that quickens the beastly blood in their veins.
- The Elenath: A name meaning "the Starry Host," the wood elves count the Starry Wisdoms as part of the Faerhoth. Even so, the faertirnen warn that the distant light of the stars make them undependable and difficult to be heard by, for they are so far away and uncaring of what happens in the homes of the elven people.
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