|Governance||Grand Conclave of the Druids|
|Rí na Ríthe||Melevor|
|Archdruid||TO BE DECIDED|
|Founder||Íor Murascaillbach, according to the Annála Draoidheachta|
|Origin||Age of Heroes, 1st century according to the Annála Draoidheachta |
Liathdruim, according to the Annála Draoidheachta
The Grand Order of Druids (Ceiltean: Ord Mór na nDraoithe), also known as the Ceiltean Order or the Druids, with 23 members in the home Ceiltean territories in the Union of Collectivist Council Republics. The Grand Order is headed by the Rí na Ríthe, the King of Kings, who has always traditionally been the head of state of the High Kingdom of Ceiltea and the subsequent Union of Collectivist Council Republics. While the Rí na Ríthe is the nominal and ceremonial head of the Order, the Order is effectively headed by the Archdruid who heads the Grand Conclave of Druids from the Liathdruim, south of the Folkscapital of Melevorgrad.
The Grand Order teaches that the Rí na Ríthe comes from the bloodline of Erses, the Elder King of the gods, and thus is given a divine mandate from the heavens. The Archdruid is handpicked by the Rí na Ríthe from the Grand Conclave of Druids, from among the clergy as the effective head of the Order. The Grand Conclave is comprised of all Druids who serve as clergy and so there is no limit on how many can be in the Conclave. To become a Druid one must undergo education at the Grand College of the Order.
The Grand Order is polytheistic which has long been passed down through oral traditions, but finally codified in Ard Saileach at the Liathdruim by Rí na Ríthe Melevor Elchsdringen around the establishment of the High Kingdom of Ceiltea. The pantheon of the Order is split between the Higher Thrones and the Lower Thrones, with the major gods sitting on the Higher Thrones and compulsory to worship. The Lower Thrones include the lesser gods who, while not compulsory to worship, are often worshipped in certain circumstances and at certain festivities.
Worship by followers of the Grand Order is often held in private, though there is instances of public chanting and singing both in times of crisis and in celebrations. In official state ceremonies and open clearings in forests or around standing stones conducted by official Druids. The holiest site in the religion is south of Melevorgrad at the relocated Liathdruim where ancient antiques relating to the gods. At the relocated Liathdruim open aired courts and areas for worship and the Grand Conclave are planned alongside a memorial dedicated to the family history of the Elchsdringen Dynasty.
The Higher Thrones
The gods of the Higher Thrones are the more powerful of the, in total, 11 Ardaithe gods. Among them sits the Elder King of the gods, Erses and his wife Ymis who are the parents to all the other of the gods of the Higher Thrones. It is thought that the reason the children of Erses and Ymis sit among them on the Higher Thrones is because of their immense powers and capabilities inherited from their parents' combined powers.
Erses is the main god followed by the Grand Order, worshipped as Elder King of the gods, Father of the gods, the Solar god and the god of rightful Kingship. Erses often takes the form of a large Ceiltean Elk, whose earthly lookalikes are believed to be another type of his offspring with Ymis and thus treated with reverence, respect and with piety in Ceiltea. Erses is the father of Edarr, Udros and Rhadohir, and husband to Ymis. It is also believed that Erses fathered the Elchsdringen Dynasty as the perfect humans to lead the Ceilteans, and before, the Pyrrhians forward in line with the gods.
Another name given to Erses is "Solar Elk", as his terrestrial form as previously mentioned, often was a large Ceiltean Elk shrouded in sunlight. Erses along with being the solar god, is also the god of treaties, oaths and rightful kingship. Erses is often portrayed as a warrior and a master craftsman, often working alongside his son Edarr and Gyorr the god of the forge.
Ymis is a major god, and the wife of Erses. She is attributed the title of Mother of the gods for her role in the creation of the other gods among those who sit on the Higher Thrones. Ymis is the goddess of healing and the home, often being worshipped for family members, healing during war and being the patroness of marriages. Ymis' appearance is that of a humanoid looking tree with emerald green leaves, similar to that of an Ent, who are credited as being offspring of Ymis and Erses.
Edarr is a major god, and a son of Erses. He is the god of war and combat, and entrusted with the role of delivering fallen warriors to the halls of Erses in the ethereal realm. Edarr is often worshipped before battle by warriors and generals alike, praying for victory, strength in battle and an honourable death. Edarr takes the terrestrial form of a Ram with fiery wool and bloodied eyes. Edarr was born after the Age of Ancients, after the War for Existence.
Udros is a major god, and a son of Erses. He is the god of the oceans and fish, whose domain is entirely the seas and the weather surrounding them. Udros is worshipped both by fishers and by sailors before either casting their rod or setting sail respectively. Falling on the bad side of the giant Octopus-like creature which Udros takes as his terrestrial form, and has reportedly appeared rising from the oceans during long voyages near Ceiltean waters has never ended well. Udros was born after the Age of Ancients, after the War for Existence.
Rhaodhir is a major god, and the only daughter of Erses. She is the god of the underworld, death and darkness and is entrusted with inflicting curses and retrieving the souls of those who die under dishonourable circumstances or commit great crimes against the gods. Rhadohir takes the form of a great spider, manifesting as the worlds' most terrifying creature in goliath size, often spinning her webs around those who she is bringing back to the underworld with her. The spiders which roam the world are thought to be offspring of Rhadohir. Rhadohir is not often worshipped due to her dark nature, though there are some rare cults, particularly those centred around death and assassination which worship the monstrous spider. Rhadohir was born after the Age of Ancients, after the War for Existence.
The Lower Thrones
The gods of the Lower Thrones are the less powerful of the, in total, 11 Ardaithe gods. These gods are unrelated to Erses and Ymis, but serve them faithfully in the occupation of elemental and skill-centric patronage. They all participated in the war against the Devourer during the Age of Ancients, and were granted physical forms by Erses following his consumption of the Flame of Creation.
Arasil is a minor god. He is the god of travel, transport, trade and sport, protecting those who use the roads and granting stamina to those participating in sports. Arasil is worshipped both by mainly travelling merchants and athletes, not only for protection and patronage both on the road and during sporting events, but also for success in business. Arasil takes the terrestrial form of a Horse, given to him by Erses, which represents the stamina, speed and travel that he is patron of.
Thygohr is a minor god. He is the god of flight and flying creatures, lord of all birds, he is skilled in espionage and scouting. Thygohr is worshipped by those flying with an elytra, and those assigned to scouting duties in armies. Thygohr takes the terrestrial form of a Falcon, given to him by Erses, which is most known for it's keen eyesight from far distances.
Raenar is a minor god. She is the god of food, scavaging and hunting, mistress of the wild hunt. Raenar is worshipped by hunters who are seeking food for their families. The only forbidden creature to hunt is the Elk, in reverence and respect to the Solar Elk Erses, doing so will inflict great misfortune and curses. Raenar takes the terrestrial form of a Wolf, given to her by Erses, which represents the hunt, which some believe she does on cold and windy nights as the wind howls and the hunting party moves across the sky.
Rhireus is a minor god. He is the god of knowledge and wisdom, patron of many different institutions of education in Ceiltea. Rhireus is worshipped by academics and aspiring students, alongside scientists and other researchers who pray for his gifts of knowledge and guidance. The Great Old ones of the Swamp, who live in Mudtown, are believed to be spirits with the patronage of Rhireus for their great knowledge and wisdom. Rhireus takes the terrestrial form of an Owl, given to him by Erses, representing his knowledge and success.
Gyorr is a minor god. He is the god of the forge and metals, acting as the patron god to many blacksmiths and soldiers. Gyorr is worshipped both by blacksmiths and soldiers, praying that their metals be strong and not break in the face of combat. Many blacksmiths have created great weaponry and armour under the blessings and guidance of Gyorr, and so it is tradition to have a large statue of the god facing an anvil for good luck. Gyorr takes the terrestrial form of a Monkey, given to him by Erses, representing his craftiness and skill with his hands.
Akbris is a minor god. She is the god of culture, festivals and celebration, and is also in control of the darker aspects of these such as vice and addiction. Akbris is worshipped by a large portion of the Ceiltean population who are consumers of large amounts of alcohol and have many festivals and celebrations throughout the year. Akbris takes the terrestrial form of a Bee, given to her by Erses, representing the Spring, joy and celebration through honey.
Creation and Destruction Myths
The Grand Order has preserved both the creation and destruction mythos of the faith, which for a long time, until the codification under Melevor Elchsdringen, was passed down through oral tradition as it was thought too important for outsiders - potentially corrupted by the powers of the Devourer - to gain knowledge of.
Creation Mythos - War of Existence
In the beginning all of Existence was covered in fog, shapeless and formless. From this, both nothingness and somethingness arose, the Devourer was the lack of space, it consumed vast areas with darkness and emptiness, while mass and light started to form where the Devourer could not be found. From this cosmic essence arose the first beings, Erses and Ymis alongside other less powerful spirits and entities which would later become the gods of the Lower Thrones. These entities came to be known as the Ardaithe, beings of Existence, material, essence, mind and body, while the all-devouring Devourer began birthing it's own entities to counter the Ardaithe. The Díghrádaithe would be entities tasked by the Devourer to engage in war with the Ardaithe, and to consume all that they created on behalf of the Devourer.
This would lead to an almost reality-ending war, in which the Díghrádaithe almost consumed the entirety of Existence, but were stopped by Erses who saved the last light from the Díghrádaithe by hiding it on what is now Earth. This last light came in the form of a small flame, barely surviving, but managing to do so. While the last light was hidden away the Díghrádaithe only got more erratic, their power dwindled as they starved, the light being their last food source. With the Díghrádaithe weakened, the Ardaithe retaliated against them, eventually destroying all of the entities through the use of the newly created Arcane. Banishing the Devourer beyond the walls of reality, upheld through Arcane magic, the gods were finally secure, though Existence was heavily scarred through the war and required healing efforts by the gods.
Thus planets came to be. The lack of Existence between different masses of form gave rise to many different masses spread across Existence far apart from one another. Returning to the last light, the spirit Erses consumed most of it, and assumed it's powers of creation upon which he bestowed his fellow Ardaithe powers, skills and abilities. Ymis created trees, flowers and shaped nature, while Erses created life in the form of Elks, and the Sun to shine His light upon Existence. The gods of the Lesser Thrones were not bestowed with powers of creation and so specialised in elemental matters and in the specification of skills for the new life created by both Erses and Ymis, humanity. It is believed that this was done from the site which housed a small part of the last light, the flame of creation, known as the Kiln of Creation
Yet, from beyond the walls of reality the Devourer continued to influence activities throughout Existence, manipulating and turning humanity against it's masters, corrupting many who turned their backs on the gods, worshipping various different idols and Devourer-inspired beings. This corruption of their creation horrified the gods, and so it was decided by Elder King Erses that a noble line must be created of his own blood to guide the faithful in The Way, and to wage bloody wars against the corrupted. Thus was created the regal line of Elchsdringen, ending the Age of Ancients, and beginning the Age of Heroes.
Destruction Mythos - The Great Consumption
After the faith has been restored fully on the Earth, an age of peace, stability and growth will occur with all under the watchful and glorious heavens. The gods will reign supreme over land, air and sea, projecting their will through their vessel of the Elchsdringen Dynasty. This age of peace will last for millennia until it is shattered by a great blasphemy by growing underground Devourer worship as the gods look elsewhere, believing the Earth to be secured. This blasphemy will cause many wars between the faithful and the corrupted, until the corrupted finally commit their greatest transgression, mass sacrifice to the Devourer, strengthening it until it is able to breach the walls of reality.
Rebirthed, the Díghrádaithe would wreck chaos on all of Existence as the Devourer slowly consumed behind them, following their path towards the gods. Taking the form of hideous creatures of colossal size, the Díghrádaithe would consume entire galaxies slowly and one by one, growing stronger all the while. The Ardaithe gods would ride out to face them, causing further destruction as they clashed against one another repeatedly, destroying galaxies, systems and planets alike. Great Erses would take his form as the Solar Elk of colossal size, and pierce many Díghrádaithe with his strong antlers, blinding them with his light.
The Great Consumption, as it would be called, would reign for an age, as the Ardaithe and the Díghrádaithe would be trapped in a stalemate. The Earth would be destroyed many times over by consistent natural disasters, wars and eventually the arrival of the Díghrádaithe, though the Flame of Creation would remain safe and concealed inside the Kiln of Creation, protected the most from Díghrádaithe influence. Growing desperate, and not wanting to lose like they did before, the Díghrádaithe would launch a full-scale assault against the Kiln of Creation with legions of corrupted humans, Devourer creatures and other corrupted lifeforms facing the full pantheon of the Ardaithe, those faithful remaining humans and the beasts of the gods. This would result in the most colossal battle in the history of Existence, the Cath na gCath, while inside the Kiln the Solar Elk Erses would commit to using the Flame of Creation against the Devourer in a final attempt to push the balance towards Existence.
Employing the Flame of Creation, Erses would burn the mammoth-sized hordes of the Devourer, plunging into the heart of the accursed nothingness which was overhead watching the battle happen. Suddenly, the Devourer and the heavens would burst into flame, the Flame of Creation would consume all of the Devourer, and all of Existence, destroying all.
Existence would be rebirthed, cleansed of nothingness and the Devourer, as the Ardaithe and their faithful looked upon their new existence they would begin to create majestic music which would fill the new Existence with life.
Prior to the arrival of Íor Elchsdringen on Earth, the population of the world was divided and either had no conception of religion or gods, or worshipped pagan idols. The story of the foundation of the Grand Order has been passed down through oral tradition, and has only been codified recently under Melevor Elchsdringen in the Druidic Annals (Ceiltean: Annála Draoidheachta).
Foundation and the Age of Heroes
The foundation of the Order and the context behind it is wrapped in mystery, speculation and lost history, as the story has been passed down through oral traditions for thousands of years and has lost some of it's key components. According to the Annála Draoidheachta the story begins with the descend of Íor Elchsdringen from the heavens after his creation by Erses and Ymis. Following this Íor built a following of faithful warrior-druids, beginning the Age of Heroes.
The Age of Heroes was a series of long and protracted wars by the warrior-druids of Íor Elchsdringen and the pagans of Western Arith. Though lasting for upwards of 200 years, the series of wars was finally won by the proto-Pyrrhians with the annihilation of the pagan temple which stood on the banks of the Saile river, modern day Union of Collectivist Council Republics. Though by this time Íor was dead by 75 years, his son was the first to truly settle in the lands and reign over peaceful territories.
The druids and proto-Pyrrhians lived a very peaceful lifestyle, living in nature under a loose Confederation headed by the chief of the Elchsdringen Clan. Under this Age of Nature shrines and standing stones to the gods thrived, appearing all over Western Arith as a result of Druidic wandering and nomad lifestyles. This would end with the rise of the Free Cities of Alathra, whose harsh policies against bandits would drive the money-making thieves into the relatively unsettled and nomadic West of Arith and into direct confrontation with the proto-Pyrrhains.
Age of Subjugation and Freedom
War reigned against the bandits and warlords for many decades, but more kept coming into Western Arith, leading to the total subjugation of the proto-Pyrrhians. The natives would be enslaved by their new bandit overlords, forced into endless mining across the iron and gold rich region. The proto-Pyrrhians lived a basic subsistence, with the majority of food, housing and other basic necessities being hoarded by the bandits, who become warlords and began fighting amongst one another.
While the suffering of the proto-Pyrrhians was immense, it would only get worse as the Four Piglins (Pestilence, War, Famine and Death) struck the region igniting a 15 year-long series of events which included multiple famines, droughts, bandit conflict and widespread plague scourging the lands. During this time many of the already small proto-Pyrrhian population perished either due to hunger, sickness or death at the hands of bandit warlords who fought throughout the lands for dominance. The so-called "15 Years of Death" was thought to be a plight inflicted by Ymis and Rhadohir on the bandits as a punishment for the maltreatment of the proto-Pyrrhians, though had the unintended consequence of killing many of the proto-Pyrrhians, who were thought to be immune to the sickness. The catastrophic event ended only after the organisation of a widespread rebellion by the proto-Pyrrhians spearheaded by Melevor and the establishment of the city of Pyrrhus.
When the High Kingdom of Ceiltea was created following the downfall of Pyrrhus, religion took centre stage in the new Kingdom, and inspired by the works of other religions throughout the world Melevor endeavoured to modernise and revive the very ancient, and dispersed, Grand Order. This was done through the codification of the mythos of the Order, which was long forbidden knowledge for outsiders and even non-Druids through the Druidic Annals (Ceiltean: Annála Draoidheachta). The Annals firmly seated the Grand Conclave at the Liathdruim, south of Melevorgrad, and cemented both the positions of King of Kings and Archdruid.
While the codification was still underway, the January Revolution occurred in Ceiltea, bringing about the creation of the Union of Collectivist Council Republics, and while the religion was still upheld by the majority of the Ceiltean population, it became part of the background of everyday life in the Union. The ideology of National Collectivism took the place of religion in the society, which had become secular under the Collectivist Charter, though many religious rituals continued to take place with Melevor's attendance. The Druids became sure of the gods' wish for Melevor to rule when the Great Old Ones of the Swamp, Mudtown, who are believed to be spirits in the service of Rhireus and thus knowledgable, visited the Folkscapital and bestowed upon the Eternal Leader the crossbow of Boogooyaga.
The Rise of the True Flame
Though over time, religion has started to come back to Ceiltean daily life. The foundation of the Sect of the True Flame by the heir apparent to both the seat of King of Kings and leadership of the Union, Melevor the Younger, has increased religious activities across the country, but most particularly south of Melevorgrad.
The True Flame are a radical and zealous faction of the Order who seek major reforms along the lines of the apparent demands of the Solar Elk, Erses, who Melevor the Younger has claimed has bestowed upon him the duty of Restorer of the Faith. The Sect of the True Flame continues to grow in influence throughout the Union, and may soon be in a position to overtake the leadership of the Order via the Grand Conclave.
Central Beliefs and Practices
The Grand Order is steeped in dogmatic religious beliefs and practices, which makes some of the practitioners, most particularly the elder Druids and the higher-ups of the Order seem very stubborn. This was shown most clearly during the Unity-Luton Pyhrria War in which Melevor refused to lay down arms in front of the joint forces of the Grand Duchy of Luton and Unity-Unending. The Order's reverence for the King of Kings, Ceiltean Elks and Natural Conservation all fall under commandments set out by the Elder King of the gods himself, Erses.
King of Kings and Mandate from the Heavens
The King of Kings (Ceiltean: Rí na Ríthe) is the paramount religious head, and representative of the gods on Earth. The King of Kings has always been a member of the Elchsdringen Dynasty, who are supposedly created specifically by Erses and Ymis after humanity's deviation from their plans to lead the Faithful as the vessel of the gods. Believed to have the blood of Erses himself running through their veins, the King of Kings is revered and respected as a divine monarch whose assaulting is of the highest blasphemy.
As a result of being a divine monarch provided with the blood of Erses and the goal of leading the Faithful, it is believed that the King of Kings has a "Mandate from the Heavens" to rule the Faithful and bring about the Age of Peace, the millennia before the beginning of The Great Consumption.
Under the Union of Collectivist Council Republics the belief of the King of Kings inspired Melevor's writings in the Collectivist Charter which led to the establishment of the title "Eternal Leader", and the personality cult around this title. Though the title remains officially one of his own, Melevor has rarely used it since the January Revolution, only allowing it's usage in description of himself while at religious ceremonies.
In Melevor the Younger's "Solar Codex", the dogma of the fanatic Sect of the True Flame, the title is accompanied by additional ones such as "Solar Emperor", and "Voice of Erses".
The Solar Elk Erses is the foremost god of the Ardaithe Pantheon. This has been a firm practice in the Order since its foundation, worshipping the so-called "Elder King of the gods", whose might brought about both the saving of Existence, through the hiding of the Last Light, and the expulsion of the Devourer. While most practitioners of the Faith follow Erses as the primary gods, worshipping the other gods as independent though less powerful entities, this has been challenged by the Sect of the True Flame.
The Sect claims to be in direct contact with the Solar Elk, proclaiming that this is a "miscommunication" between Erses and the founders of the Order during the Age of Heroes. The Sect claims that the other gods of the Ardaithe Pantheon are not independent spirits or entities, but rather fragments of his soul and personality manifested as different patrons of the elements and professions. Alongside this, the Sect claims that the Sun is itself Erses, and the only way to get closer to it spiritually (not physically) is through following the "True Path" laid out in the Solar Codex.
The conservation of nature has long been a goal of the Order, both in respect to Ymis and Erses, but also to channel nature into different forms and shapes. The Order makes clear exceptions for this for the establishment of settlements and cities, however, despises the destruction of natural wonders such as The Hive, which they consider as a gift bestowed on the Earth by Ymis and Akbris.
The conservation of nature has extended in the protection of rare animals such as the Ceiltean Elk, which is believed to be off-spring of Ymis and Erses, and so are treated with reverence. This has led to the banning of Elk head trophies, which Ceiltean society has subsisted with wooden effigies. Poachers who seek out the rare Ceiltean Elk are often hanged by state authorities, or if found by the Sect of the True Flame, burnt at the stake before the arrival of state authorities.
Culture of Honour
The Order has a long tradition of following a culture of honour, and has had a long-term impact on the psyche of both the Pyrrhian and Ceiltean identities. The Order subscribes to the thought that it is never acceptable to surrender, and that for a warrior or a king to enter into the afterlife they must die with their weapon in their hand, or in combat. Examples of this culture of honour in practice are seen most notably when Melevor refused to surrender to the joint-armies of Unity-Luton, or the attempted assassination of Melevor by Twyst.
The Order does not hold grudges against mercenaries or assassins unless they go out of their way to intentionally bring harm to Ceilteans while not being hired to do so, instead focusing their spite and malice towards the coward who refused to fight themselves against the Ceilteans. This has not stopped many Ceilteans from hiring themselves out as mercenaries as they see themselves solely doing business and not engaging in the cowardice of the benefactor.
Rí na Ríthe - King of Kings
Grand Conclave of Druids
Grand Conclave of Druids
Grand College of Druids
Factionalism under the Grand Order throughout it's millennia long history has been very limited, although the history of factions from the long-gone past may have been forgotten by history. Currently there is only one faction under the Order, which is the Sect of the True Flame, and has been growing substantially since its founding.
Sect of the True Flame
The Sect of the True Flame was established by Melevor the Younger on the 12th March 2022 at the Liathdruim as the Sun was dawning. Accompanied by twelve darkly robed Druids, the Sect was founded following the appearance of Erses through the summoning of him by the blood of the Elchsdringen Dynasty, which Melevor the Younger himself had spilled, through cutting his hand over a bonfire. The Solar Elk rose from the fire and spoke to Melevor, saying: "Son of Ancient Pyrrhus! Blood of my blood, you shall, as your father, lead my flock under my watchful eye! Seek not the methods of old, but those of the flame!".
Continuing correspondence between Melevor the Younger and the Solar Elk continued under the watchful eyes of the twelve Druids who accompanied the young heir apparent. This has led to the Solar Elk making several demands of the young man for the reformation and continued centralisation of the Order. Laid out in the written "Solar Codex", Melevor the Younger presents the Solar Elk's commandments:
I. The correction of the "miscommunication" that the Ardaithe are independent spirits, but are rather fragments of Erses, representing and being patrons of different elements and professions.
II. The centralisation of the Order further, dropping the term "Druid" and embracing a new hierarchy as defined by the Solar Elk himself.
III. The true internationalisation of the Order, bringing the Faith beyond the borders of the homeland and enlightening the world.
Following the Elk Sacrilege, perpetrated by Ra'thra, the Sect grew massively in popularity, as the whole Ceiltean population was outraged at the extreme religious offense implied when Ra'athra delivered Elk meat to the Liathdruim in front of Melevor the Elder, one of the highest sins. Since the Sacrilege the Sect has begun patrols around Ceiltean territories looking for heretics and Pater Carnis practitioners to burn at the stake.
The Kiln of Creation