Mistress of the Woods, The Forest Maiden, Mother of Elves
|Domain||Forests, Nature, Weather, Plants and Animals|
|Ethos||All life flows from the forests, the womb of the world. We must honor and respect these ancient wooded lands.|
|Typical Worshipers||Elves, rangers, woodsmen, herbalists, gardners, farmers and all who make their living from the woods.|
|Head of the Church||No single ruler.|
|Demographics||75% Elven, 16% Human, 5% Grum, 4% Other|
|Geographic Regions||Worshipped mainly in Cyrell and Ethara.|
|Allied Faiths||Sarreth and Mireldokar.|
|Opposed Faiths||All of the Dark Lords. Some tension with Erylon.|
|Holy Symbol||The nut seed of a forest lord tree.|
Assytia is known as the Mistress of the Woods, the Forest Maiden and the Mother of Elves. True to that title, she is known throughout the world, first and foremost, as the primary goddess of the elves. She is also worshiped by herbalists, naturalists, woodsmen, rangers and all those who gain their livelihood from the forests and nature. Unlike Mireldokar who oversees the harvest or Imarus who concerns himself with orchard, vineyard and farmland, Assytia’s domain is the deep woods, the distant hills and the far wildlands. Her realm is Nature, far from civilization.
Assytia is depicted as a beautiful elven maiden of radiant youth, clad only in leaves and flower petals with blossoms woven in her hair. She is usually depicted in a sun bathed glade surrounded by all the animals of the forest. Her hair is the color of honey and sunlight and her eyes are as green as the forest.
Myths and Legends
The elves sing many songtales of Assytia and the tale of her beginning agrees with the tales told by the priests of Erylon. One of the first mortals created, Erylon refused to kneel and worship before Imarus or any god and lived apart for centuries, hidden from all, even Death.
When the Great War came, refugees fled the burning cities. Erylon guided many of them into the wilds and invited them to follow him. Among them was a human woman named Assytia. For years they dwelt in peace in the wilds and Erylon taught them to become masters of Nature. He taught them to hunt and fish and raise crops. He taught them how to use Nature, to control it and bend it to their will. He also taught them to make war with the orcs, to hunt and kill for pleasure and the joy of battle. Assytia, a simple commoner and herbalist, stood up to Erylon and his hunting warrior packs. A great schism occurred and Assytia led many of the followers into the deep wilds of the far west. They settled in the distant forests communing with the trees. In this way, the elven race was born.
The elven priestesses of Assytia declare that Assytia still walks the world. According to the tales, she converses with all the plants and animals of the world, that the winds and rains obey her command and that not a single leaf in the world stirs in the slightest breeze without her knowing it.
Overview of the Church
The elves have a unique religious perspective. They worship literally thousands of gods. For them, every field, every tree, every flower and every creature of the forest has a guardian spirit, a being of spiritual energy that represents the essence of that particular type of creature. For instance, all oak trees are brothers and their life is given to them by the great oak tree spirit. Likewise, there is a spirit for wolves, a spirit for daisies, a spirit of squirrels, etc. Even running water and soft earth and cold stone have a spiritual energy to them. These spirits reside in a realm which is at once intertwined with and apart from the mortal realm. There are both lesser and greater spirits and above them all is Assytia, called the Forest Maiden. She is that which guides the flow of all life and energy in the natural world. She rules as queen over every creature of the woods, every quiet glen, every leaf, stone and blade of grass in the forest. She and the spirits form a complex web of life that connects everything in Nature. Elves pray not to one spirit, but to all of them and to Assytia above all others. This faith, the worship of Assytia, is sometimes referred to as "Elven Mysticism".
Most elves worship Assytia. There are elves who go out into the world and live among other races and kneel before other altars, but even these wayward children of the forest often retain a great respect for Assytia and offer up a prayer to her from time to time.
Most elves, and especially the priestesses of Assytia, are self-appointed protectors of the forest, guarding their woods and caring for all those who dwell within.
The forest, and trees in particular, are a very important part of this religion. The most important of all is the great tharqel or “forest lord”, a giant species of tree, which is central to the faith. It forms their homes, their temples, their holy symbol and is intertwined into their teachings.
The worship of Assytia is strongest among the elven communities. She is the primary goddess of Ethara and Cyrell. She is also very popular in other nations scattered throughout the west: as far north as Normidia, as far south as Bathynia and as far east as the Grumman lands.
History and Origins
The true origin of this faith is interwoven with the history of the elvish people. In the aftermath of the Sundering and the World Storm, there were tens of thousands of refugees. Many took the woods for safety and many forest villages formed in the west. The descendants of the people of the woods became the elves. The stories of Assytia emerged with the stories of the elves.
The faith of Assytia is primarily concerned with the advancement of the elven race, the responsible use and protection of woods and the natural world.
Temples, Churches and Holy Sites
There are no grand temples or churches to Assytia. Instead, this faith has “holy glades”. A holy glade is a large circular clearing in the woods with a forest lord tree at the center. A dirt path often circles the perimeter of the glade. The clearing is adorned with bushes or flower beds arranged in graceful patterns. There are no structures at such a site… no terraces, no roofs or walls, and the only altar is the great central tree. The whole space is very open, light and airy. The whole is exposed to rain, lightning, wind and sunshine. Temples have natural living plants that are lovingly shaped by spell and skill over decades to form a natural living place. Such holy glades are usually not far from elven villages, although some are quite deep in the woods, hidden and isolated. Here, far from any village, the faithful find quiet solitude to meditate and commune with the trees.
Most elves are followers of Assytia and the philosophies underlying this church. Even those elves who venture out into the world and life in the cities amongst other races will still practice the “ways of the forest”. Assytia is also worshiped by herbalists, gardeners, woodsmen, rangers, naturalists and many farmers. Most folk who earn their living from nature offer up a prayer or two to the Forest Maiden. Farmers in many of the western lands pray to Assytia for good weather, healthy crops, bountiful harvests, safety when traveling and good fortune. She is the agriculture god of the western lands where Mireldokar is not worshiped.
Allied and Opposed Faiths
Although both religions are tied closely to the outdoors and nature, the teachings of Assytia and Erylon are very different and they find themselves at odds a great deal. Assytia is Nature whereas Erylon is the conquest of Nature. As such, there can never be any peace between the two. There has always been distrust and tension between the wild priests of Erylon and the nature loving priestesses of Assytia. At times, this tension can erupt into battle.
Assytia is generally on good terms with Mireldokar, a fellow nature goddess, and Sarreth, who espouses a similar philosophy of peace. She is neutral towards most of the Elder Gods and Celestials.
The Dark Lords are abhorrent in the eyes of Assytia as they seek only destruction, including the burning of forests.
Nature is the source of all things, all life, all knowledge. We are a part of it and it is within us. Nature deserves our respect and protection. And there is no more perfect form of Nature than the forest. The woods is the birthplace of us all. The trees are family, no less than our own brothers and sisters. They are the wellspring from which all goodness flows. They are the silent sentinels of ageless wisdom.
In general, the faith of Assytia teaches the elves to work in harmony with nature. This means that they will never harm any living tree. However, stone and metal are not considered a part of the “living” world (this fact is one of many reasons why elves and dwarves do not generally get along). Thus elven masons are free to break stones, carve rock and so forth. Likewise, elven smiths are free to melt and shape metal as needed. However, most elven architecture uses wood. Elven carpentry uses only wood that has come from fallen trees. In addition, much of their carpentry involves shaping wood with spells so that it bends and flows as they desire.
As is the case with most elven histories, the tales and philosophies of Assytia are bound up in aurells or songtales. The songtale of Assytia is known as the Ballad of a Single Leaf. It describes the histories, philosophies, rules and spells of the faith.
The symbol of this faith is the living nut of a forest lord tree. Like the tree, this nut is abnormally large, typically the size of a fist. It’s hard shell and oblong shape are easily recognized. Every priestess of Assytia carries one with her as a token. Because of the size and weight of this large nut, it is too unwieldy to wear around the neck. Most priestesses mount it atop a walking staff or rod or similar device. It is tradition to bury a priestess with her token. Even if a priestess of Assytia dies alone in the wilds, the nut will still sprout. In this way, a forest lord tree marks her grave and life arises from death as a part of the natural cycle.
Worship for the majority of elves is a very personal thing, not to be cluttered up with a great deal of ritual and protocol. On occasion, elves may gather to weep or sing or pray, but such is always spontaneous and natural.
In elven culture, most ceremonies are intertwined with the faith of Assytia. Elven marriages, births and funerals are all conducted by the priestesses of Assytia. The four seasonal nature festivals, celebrating at the solstices and equinoxes, are led by the priestesses as well.
Overview of the Clergy
Assytia is served only by elven priestesses. Men do not serve her directly, nor any other race. Priestesses of Assytia dwell together in small sisterhoods, typically one or two dozen members, near a holy glade. Like their goddess, the priestesses are quite skilled at naturalism, herbalism, plant lore, animal lore and so forth. Their spells tend toward healing, nurturing, growth, protection and divination. Such spells often utilize the trees, plants and animals around them.
The priestesses of Assytia enjoy great respect and love among the elven people. They are welcome in every elven home and at every meal. Assytian priestesses serve their communities as spiritual leaders, moral guides, teachers, healers and historians. They take a lead role in many social events.
Divisions and Rank Structure
The Assytia priestesses have four ranks. The four ranks have different titles, duties, powers and spell abilities.
Sister of the Seedling
At the first rank, the young priestess is a Sister of the Seedling, and often informally addressed as “seedling”. They serve the elder sisters, tend to the holy glade, care for the animals and carry messages. Their spell ability is limited to a few spells of healing. They also have basic animal empathy.
Sister of the Sapling
The second rank is Sister of the Sapling. They interact with the community a great deal and help with seasonal festivals. Their spell ability includes spells that promote plant control and growth, communication with animals, more powerful healing and minor spells for battle and protection. When called upon, they join with their other sisters to battle orcs and other intruders into the forest. They also have the ability to see and hear through the eyes and ears of nearby animals.
Sister of the Tree
At the third rank, the priestess is addressed as “Sister of the Tree”. The Sisters of the Tree are called upon to conduct important ceremonies such as births, marriages and funerals. Their spell ability allows them to control plants and animals, heal grievous wounds, powerful defensive spells and minor spells governing the four elements. They can also sense nearby disturbances in the forest. They often lead the sisters in battle when their forest is threatened. One of their special abilities is to physically merge with a tree for a short time. More than one sister has used this ability to evade a group of orcs. They also have the ability to borrow the abilities of nearby animals – the strength of a bear, the sight of an eagle, the stealth of a cat, the swiftness of a deer.
Lady of the Woods
The highest rank is known as the Lady of the Woods. There are dozens of priestesses of this rank as each one leads her own group of sisters. They oversee the most important social events and represent their particular group to the outside world. A lady of the woods has very powerful magic. In addition to the spells and powers of the lesser ranks, they are said to be able to sense any disturbance in their woods. They wield powerful spells over the four elements and can wield the weather as a weapon. They can divine the future with potent rituals of divination. Not only can they merge with an existing tree, they themselves can take the form of a tree for extended periods of time. It is said that they can also talk to the trees
This website was last updated November 30, 2023. Copyright 1990-2023 David M. Roomes.