The Old Faith
The Old Faith is the chief druidic order and it is ruled by the Archdruid of the Flanaess, though other druidic orders exist in various lands. Though strongly associated with the faiths of Beory and Obad-Hai, the Old Faith also encompasses other deities, principally those concerned with the elements or other natural phenomena. A quartet of gods representing the seasons is common, though the identities of these deities may vary slightly from culture to culture.
Adherents of the Old Faith hold trees, particularly oak and ash, and the sun and the moons as sacred, though other tenets exist between some druids within the Grand Circle. Druids of the Old Faith believe they must protect their tenets from destruction; to a lesser extent, they protect their human followers and animals as well.
They recognize that humans, humanoids, and animals need food and shelter, and don't begrudge them the right to hunt or practice agriculture if they do so responsibly. Druids of the Old Faith may not destroy woodlands or crops, though they may work to change the nature of these things if they feel it is worth the effort to do so.
All druids of the Old Faith are organized into the Grand Circle, not to be confused with the Circle of Eight. However, the Old Faith has divided the Flanaess into nine separate regions, each under the dominion of a Great Druid. These regions are known colloquially as the Baklunish West, the Bitter North (Old Blackmoor), the Western Nyr Dyv (Old Ferrond), the Sheldomar Valley (Old Keoland), the Empire of Iuz (Northern Reaches), the Thillonrian Peninsula (Barbarian North), the Old Aerdy West (Old Nyrond), the Old Aerdy East (former Great Kingdom). In addition, some isolated realms may also have a druid under their protection too.
The beliefs of The Old Faith can be summarized as follows.
- Promote the tenets of your deity, nature, the elements, and the cycles of the seasons and living things.
- Do not allow the needless destruction of woodlands, crops, or other aspects of your tenets.
- Protect and promote the animals, plants, and followers of nature.
Followers of the Old Faith view all natural things as part of a great cycle, with both good and evil being kept in balance. Only when their tenets or the cycles of nature itself are threatened do they feel called to action.
Druids of nature and associated deities make up the priests of the Old Faith. However, Old Faith holds itself aloof from worldly affairs, being primarily concerned with the aspects and cycles of nature and living things. The four festivals of Needfest, Growfest, Richfest, and Brewfest are all observed by the Old Faith. The night of Great Moon's Glory (Readying 11th) is also held as sacred.
The Old Faith's lowest-ranked clergy are known as Aspirants, who seek admission to the order, and Ovates, who read auguries and perform minor administrative tasks; both of these ranks do not appear below as they have yet to prove themselves.
Next are the true members of the order known as Initiates of the First Circle, followed by higher-ranking Initiates of the Second through Ninth Circles. Above these ranks are those who have the right to the title of Druid. There are only nine Druids in each region. Above the nine Druids are three Archdruids, who answer to the Great Druid of their region, far above this ranking system.
Druids of the Old Faith:
- Initiates of the 1st Circle (rank 1)
- Initiates of the 2nd-3rd Circles (rank 2)
- Initiates of the 4th-9th Circles (rank 3)
- Druid (rank 4)
- Archdruid (rank 5)
Admission to the ranks of Druid, Archdruid, and Great Druid is only granted via trial by combat. It is said that above the Great Druids stands a single Grand Druid, whose dominion includes the entire Oerth. Former Grand Druids are said to make up an inner circle of ascended mystics known as the Heirophants of the Cabal, though their existence is not remarked on outside the Old Faith hierarchy.
Common symbols are oak leaves, holly leaves, and mistletoe. However, there are a variety of other symbols used per each nature deity.