THE SERPHELORIAN BELIEF

FAVOURED GODS - RELIGION IN DAILY LIFE
HOLY DAYS AND FESTIVALS -
MYTH/LORE - ORIGINS

The Serphelorian men believe in the twelve Gods of the Aviaria, as do all Santharians. However, like all Santharian tribes, the way in which they conceptualise the Twelve is unique to them. Seyella is the most important God to the Serphelorians, and they believe that she is very active in guiding the tribe and creating good fortune for them. Seyella is assisted in her work of looking after the Serphelorians by Armeros and Arvins, who support the tribe to protect those who are weaker than themselves. Since the tribe has settled, Jeyriall has become more popular too, looking after those who are less warlike. Their strong faith in Seyella’s guidance allows the Serphelorians to have a cheerful, nonchalant manner and an optimistic outlook in even the worst situations.

Favoured Gods. The Serphelorians worship primarily the following Gods - above all stands Seyella, the Goddess of Destiny:

Further Important Gods. Along with Seyella, the Serphelorians also venerate Armeros and Arven (known as Arvins in most other areas), and Jeyriall. These Aviaria are thought of as lesser gods, compared to Seyella, in Serphelorian belief. Armeros and Arven are most respected by those who live closer to the land, rather than those in bigger towns and cities, or by those who are closely affiliated with the Serphelorian Army. Both are invoked as War Gods by those in the army, but their more traditional spheres of influence are also observed on farms, and in the smaller towns and villages. They are both respected as the Gods who help Seyella to support the Serphelorians in their moral code to always protect the weak. Jeyriall appeals more to those who lead less martial, easier lives, and of course to farmers.

Armeros and Arven are represented as women sometimes (much to the horror of some clerics from other areas), and are almost always portrayed as much more androgynous than in other tribes’ representations. Given the strong features seen in the Serphelorian tribe, and the musculature which is prized in women, this step is less controversial than one might imagine. Also in respect to the matriarchal nature and history of the Serphelorian tribe, clerics will usually say "the God", or "the Aviar" rather than using a gendered pronoun in front of Serphelorians when referring to the two "Lesser Gods".

Other Gods. The role of the remaining Santharian Gods to Serphelorians is quite limited. Here are the most important details in this regard:

Religion in Daily Life. Many commentators have noticed a certain happy ‘fatalism’ expressed by Serphelorians; some sour individuals have gone as far as calling them “oblivious to reality”! Whether it is a good thing or not, Serphelorians do show a remarkable sense that everything will turn out for the best. Phrases like “Seyella’s plan is hidden”, “Troubles lead to treasures”, or the ambiguous, seldom finished “Lose your sword-hand…”[1] illustrate this philosophy in day-to-day life in Sanguia and its surrounds. This confident attitude allows them to remain more or less carefree in situations that would upset or sadden most members of other tribes, and to be as open and friendly as their reputation tells.

The
Serphelorians are not given to regular, formal worship (excepting the three religious festivals), rather tending to spontaneous acts of religious piety. Members of this tribe may pray and give offerings to the appropriate God when they are in need, or are feeling particularly grateful for their fortune, but celebrations are more common than stately communion. Loud parades praising their Seyella, Armeros and Arven were common after battles in more warlike times. When battles are few, celebrations with one’s community are held at any occasion a person can invent. This can be things like reaching another year of life or marriage, regaining one’s health after an illness, or even having a particularly good crop in one’s kitchen-garden. These always include some tribute to Seyella, if not also one, or all of, the three ‘Lesser’ Gods.

Priestesses of Seyella play a similar role here to the role they play in other areas, being available to those who seek wisdom, or advice in difficult situations. However, Seyellans are also usually the clerics called upon to bless marriages (although a repected woman might well be the one who officiates) and to preside at funerals. Those who can afford it sometimes make a donation to the temple, and ask for a priestess to bless their child at the celebration of their birth in the hope that Seyella will look with favour upon their newborn. Most parents don’t see this as being necessary, and just sing some of the joyful
Serphelorian prayers to Seyella with those who come to celebrate.

Clerics of Arvens, Armeros and Jeyriall are called upon mostly for things related to their spheres, like hunting, war or bravery, and crops and family happiness. Followers of these gods, or any others for that matter, can and do preside over marriages and funerals like Seyellans. However, this usually happens only when a person or couple feels a particular affinity for these Gods over Seyella, so it is relatively rare.

Different religious orders interact differently with the
Serphelorian people; their behaviour here is usually much the same as it would be in other areas of Santharia. Serphelorians tend not to be particularly awed by anyone, and so even the most aloof Seyellan or Arvenean is viewed with more respect and esteem than fear. A certain aloofness is, however, viewed as only proper to a priestess’ (or priest’s) station, and is not taken as an affront to the lay person – although it is not seen as a necessary part of all clerics, particularly with reference to the merry Jeyriallans.
Return to the top

Holy Days and Festivals. Prayers to Seyella are a big part of the Festival of the Foresighted One in the Turning Star, and festivals dedicated to Armeros and Jeyriall are celebrated in Awakening Earth and Sleeping Dreamress respectively. Arven does not have a festival dedicated specifically to him, but on Awendain a hunt is organised by the leaders of many towns. In some northern settlements it is traditional for those young people who will meet with the wise women during the Festival of the Warriors to spend the night in the woods, away from home, with only a bonfire to keep them company. More information about these festivals can be found in the main article on the Serphelorian tribe. Return to the top

Myth/Lore. In the earliest days, at the point of leaving the last of the Mynians and striking out on their own, a speech was made by Sophronia, the leader of the tribe and the woman from whom they later took their name. This speech, re-enacted every year during the Festival of the Foresighted One, is very much the same in all areas apart from a few words here and there. This gives credence to the Serphelorian assertion that it is the same oration, somehow preserved in its entirety across the millennia. The speech is re-printed below.

The Address of Sophronia to her People. "Welcome, all of you who have come to hear me speak. I am Sophronia. You came with me because I have knowledge of the ways of war and government, and because I believe that those who are weak must be protected, not cast aside or used for others’ ends. Together we have survived many things, and it is together that we will survive yet more.

Be welcome, and listen to what I have to say.

You know our past. We have lost our husbands, our homes, our friends. We have given up our sons to deaths of which we will never hear. We have been left here, in this worthless parcel of land, to die as barren old mares.

But tonight, I come to tell you of our future.

For those of you who feel forsaken; here is comfort. To those of you who feel lost; here is direction. Those of you who feel weak, scared and powerless: here is the strength to become warriors!

We have changed under the hardships we have endured. We are no longer scared, weak “ladies”, simpering at the whim of our lords. We have taken care of the children, the sick and infirm, and we have prospered. We eat well, our leather is strong and our horses fleet. Is this from the protection of others? Is this through the charity of men? No! It is time that we become our own protectors; our own champions!

Beginning tomorrow, we will come together and learn from the wounded whom we have tended so carefully. We will learn the arts of war, we will move away from those who would use us as brood-mares, and we will find for ourselves a place where we can stand tall, proudly ourselves.

Now, it is true that we will wander many ages - far beyond my lifetime - but I promise you this. We will, some day, settle in a land of bright grasses, where we are needed to protect. We will be respected and loved, and we will be a part of a great kingdom, serving and defending. We will be great women all, and we will be loved.

Now, my sisters. Go back, and around your nightly campfires repeat what I have said to those who could not come. Take heart in my words, and sharpen your blades: tomorrow we begin!"

This speech, along with the fact that Sophronia is said to have had occasional short periods of blindness, seems to be the basis (although by no means the whole) of the basis for the Serphelorians’ semi-deification of Sophronia. The last part of the address is said to be a prophecy – one that can now be said to have come true. The issue seems not whether it was a prophecy or not; rather the question is whether Sophronia was touched by She Who Sees All, or was actually an incarnation of Seyella. This is an issue clerics of Seyella seem unable to find agreement on at this stage. Return to the top

Origin. The Sophronians, the people who were the precursors of the Serphelorians, were born out of the fall of the Mynian Kingdom. It is told in the legends of the Serphelorians that they worshipped the Gods of that land, but no remembrance of who these were, or what they were like, is held by these people, or by their Kuglim cousins. Some think that the Mynians Gods might have been similar to the Kuglimz Gods Lier’tyan and Sur’tyan, but so far this is only conjecture.

The Serphelorians remember in their stories and performances, that at the Great Sundering and the fall of the Mynian Kingdom, their old Gods turned away from them. For many years they made offerings and spoke propitiatory prayers to these deities, but to no avail. First an orcish invasion, then raiding by other humans who had become barbarians unlike the Sophronians, then trouble with elves forced the tribe to move further and further south.

Some time after Sophronia’s death, the
Sophronians crossed the Dragon’s Maw and came to meet the people they called the "Avariafael" – thought to be those who would one day become the Erpheronian tribe. These people already knew of the Twelve, and, in the little contact the two tribes had together, the Sophronians learnt of the gods who, they were told, ruled over this new land.

As the Sophronians learnt of the Gods, so the Avariafael learnt of the Sophronians. One night the story of Sophronia, the Foresighted One was told in a Sophronian camp. Some of the Avariafael had been invited to hear the story, and to see it enacted. The tale is told that, during the story, a female cleric jumped up and proclaimed that the Foresighted One was an incarnation of Seyella herself, and that they would be led to their destiny by the All-Seeing Mother. A fight ensued between the cleric, who is said to have been touched by the Gods, uncontrollably shouting her vision, and the other Avariafael. The Sophronians protected the cleric from her death for heresy, leading to conflict between the two tribes.

Hounded away from the lands of the Avariafael, the Sophronians travelled south once more, quickly, to escape the vengeance of that wrathful people. The cleric came with them and (after a quick recovery from her divinely inspired fit) through her teaching the Sophronians learnt of the other Aviaria. Some scholars believe that it was through the Sophronians that the Kyranians came to worship Arvins.
Return to the top
______________

Footnotes.
[1] This phrase, while the original ending seems to be lost, is sometimes finished in a novel way, to amusing effect. The endings always run along the lines of "gain a (something)" where the ‘something’ usually appeals to the ribald Serphelorian sense of humour. One example, heard in the Santhran’s Shield tavern in Vreesran went "Lose a sword-hand, gain a stable-hand", which may not seem particularly provocative without the accompanying winks and loud laughter – therefore making this particular version printable. [Back]

 Date of last edit 25th Turning Star 1668 a.S.

Information provided by Grunok the Exile View Profile