Silvánús, the Father of Nature[edit | edit source]
Silvánús (sihl-VANN-us) is the god of nature. Silvánús is one of the oldest and most prominent deities in Malero. His worshipers protect places of nature from the encroachment of civilization with vigor and are implacable foes of industrious people, often dwarves or orcs.
Personality[edit | edit source]
He most often reveals a beneficent, paternal nature towards his faithful, who number among them travelers, adventurers, explorers, sages seeking knowledge in nature, rural communities far from the protection of the local lord, guides, hermits, wise women and men, herbalists, and a few long-sighted woodcutters and hunters (harvesting only the dead, the excess, and the weak), as well as druids and rangers. He swiftly turns an uncaring and even righteously wrathful face toward any who threaten the wild places and woodlands of Malero. Those who disturb the balance are often found at the edge of the forest torn to pieces by wild animals who cannot be tracked.
Avatar[edit | edit source]
Rather than appearing as an avatar, Silvánús prefers to appear as an oak leaf blown out of nowhere as a sign, or if he must take direct physical action, as a fire-quenching, eerie green glow that is always accompanied by the sounds of faintly whistling wind and running or dripping water. Alternatively, he may manifest as a stag-horned, silent man with burning white eyes who appears among the trees and has shaggy brown fur that is almost bark-like. As the Horned Man, Silvanus speaks only in the minds of those he touches and can point, lift, and carry things (even hurling trees or logs), inscribe words on wood by pointing with a fingertip, and cast spells (notably telekinesis of awesome weight capacity). The Horned Man most often simply materializes to show himself and indicate something by a gesture, a shake or nod of the head, or by pointing, and then fades away again.
Silvanus also indicates his favor or disfavor or sends aid through the presence or actions of treants, dryads, deer, badgers, unicorns, satyrs, sprites, pixies, and other woodland monsters.
Followers & Organizations[edit | edit source]
The Church of Silvánús is a pervasive influence, especially across the continent of Myralwin. Non-worshipers often do not view the Church favorably due to its tendency to disrupt expansion into woodland, sometimes with violence. Examples of rituals for worship are entreaties for spells at sundown or in moonlight. Most Silvanite clerics, sometimes referred to as Forest Masters, also function as druids or rangers.
Organization[edit | edit source]
The church of Silvanus is often referred to as the "greenleaf priesthood" after the symbol of its deity. Silvanus has a strong base among both clerics in urban areas and druids in the wilder territories. Silvanus also has a few shamans among the nomadic and barbarian societies of Malero who spread his word of balance and respect for nature while tending to their tribes' needs.
Silvánús church is loosely organized, and its branches are largely independent. There is little in the way of formal hierarchy. Silvanus' clergy are spread throughout Malero, favoring small communities over large cities, though there are several large communities of Silvanites in major cities.
Druids are the leaders and the backbone of the greenleaf priesthood and are most favored by Silvanus if they dwell in the forest and live in harmony with the land, where they are best able to be the stewards of Malero's wild places. Urban clergy of Silvanus more often become gardeners, trying to create a walled corner of wild forest in the city (or guard and revitalize an existing miniature wood). They often seek to attract followers by preaching of the peace and purity of the wilds and dispensing herbs and sweetsap drinks (especially maple syrup, mint teas, and sweetroot brews).
Day-to-Day Activities of the Clergy[edit | edit source]
Members of the clergy are expected to live off the land and work as guides and protectors of travelers, caravans, and traveling druids. Many also serve as guides for adventuring companies or as explorers. All of those who explore seek to visit all of the known scattered shrines to the Oak Father as frequently as they can while exploring to keep their connection to his 'branches' strong.
Most disturbances of the sacred Balance are due to too-heavy hunting or farming, which bring with them land clearances-essentially population pressures. The greenleaf priesthood is kept busy working to redirect development and control populations through covert sponsorship of brigands, breeding and selective placing of predators, and other means. It is essential that such work is as secretive as possible, so that most folk view the servants of Silvanus as essentially benign lovers of trees. Wildlife breeding, nursing sick animals, and replanting trees and wild shrubs are all work that should be done as publicly as possible to support this perception-- and as necessary work to redress the slipping balance, of course.
To do this work properly, two skills are essential to all Silvanite clergy: learning through instruction and lifelong study the intricate workings of the life-cycles of all living creatures in Faerûn and learning to take the long-term view so that the manifold implications of every action and combination of actions can be seen clearly well into the future. By planning for the long term, Silvanite clergy hope never to take a serious mishap and worsen any shift of the Balance. Superior patience, natural knowledge, and anticipation are the hallmarks of a worthy servant of Silvanus. They are also the qualities that make any Silvanite priest a deadly foe. A Silvanite should never be surprised and always be three or four steps ahead of an opponent, prepared for victories well beyond the battles than an enemy can see.
Temples[edit | edit source]
Silvánús prefers to be venerated at shrines, most of which are uninhabited and in remote places. Typically, a shrine to Silvánús is a stone dais built atop a high place, crowned with a stone seat or throne, and accompanied by one or more stone pillars pierced with holes through which the wind whistles. Many such shrines exist throughout all planes of existence outside of the Abyss and the Hells. The Oak Father is not commonly worshiped within cities and he has few formal temples as a result. Because the clergy members love to wander, his few temples constantly have new clerics arrive as others leave.
Dress[edit | edit source]
Silvánús clerics wear a dark-green swirling cloak over garb appropriate for the trail, and favor dark colors and silver in general. Many wear their holy symbol on the back of their gauntlet (usually leather or chain mail). When adventuring, druids and clerics of Silvanus may wear their ceremonial armor or switch to something less flamboyant, depending on their mission. They are usually very practical in their dress, choosing outfits to suit the situation at hand.
The ceremonial dress for both clerics and druids of Silvanus is a suit of armor made of overlapping leaves. For clerics, the leaves are made of metal plates and the suit functions as a set of scale mail. For druids, the leaves are made of green-tinted leather and the suit functions as leather armor. Either set is worn with brown breeches and shirt. Many of the wilder druids take to wearing only a loose, dusty brown cloak made of old hides adorned with feathers and carefully watered, woven-in clumps of mosses from day to day. Sometimes this body cloak is augmented by fur leggings or high boots. This garb, worn by priestesses of the Forest Father, has given rise to tales of wild women of the woods in many places around the Realms.
In urban areas, where the clerics outnumber the druids, the standard dress has been simplified to a verdigrised-copper pin worn on the breast when a priest is not involved with the High Ceremonies.
Rituals[edit | edit source]
Many rituals of worship to the god take place in a crown stand of tall, ancient trees on a hilltop. The god must always be worshiped by sacrifice-but never by blood sacrifice. Instead, something made from material taken from a wood must be ceremonially broken and buried-not burned. For example, a wood must be ceremonially broken and buried--not burned. For example, a cart, wagon, or chair fashioned from the wood or felled trees could become a sacrifice to Silvanus.
Dogma[edit | edit source]
Those aspiring to join the clergy of Silvanus are charged to fight against the felling of forests, banish disease wherever they find it, and defend the trees and plant new ones whenever possible. They are to seek out, serve, and befriend the dryads and learn their names. They are to kill only when needful, for all things in the forest are in balance, to destroy fire and those who employ it, and to beware orcs and others who bring axes into the forest.
"Silvanus sees and balances all, meting out wild water and drought, fire, and ice, life and death. Hold your distance and take in the total situation, rather than latching on to the popular idea of what is best. All is in cycle, deftly and beautifully balanced. It is the duty of the devout to see this cycle and the sacred Balance as clearly as possible. Make others see the Balance and work against those that would disturb it. Watch, anticipate, and quietly manipulate. Resort to violence and open confrontation only when pressured by time or hostile action. Fight against the felling of forests, banish disease wherever you find it, defend the trees, and plant new flora wherever possible. Seek out, serve, and befriend the dryads and learn their names. Kill only when needful, destroy fire and its employers, and beware orcs and others who bring axes into the forest."
Ceremonies/Holy Days[edit | edit source]
- Windride (Day)
- Celebrated on the 15th day of Showerfall. On this day, the Oak Father causes all his clerics to assume gaseous form at dawn, if they cannot wind walk on their own, so that they are carried with the wind. They return to normal (and are lowered safely to the ground) at dusk, usually in some place they have never been before.
- The Dryad Dance (Ritual)
- The Dryad Dance is a wild ritual of piping, dancing, and carousing that calls out any dryads from the woods around and empowers them to travel far from their trees for a lunar cycle (month) after the dance is performed (though they cannot use their charm ability when more than 360 yards from the tree). Dryads and their trees are healed and revitalized by the dance, and it is rumored that humans and dryads who tryst at this time cause the rapid spread of new oaks trees and the birth of new dryads linked to them.
- Highharvest (Day)
- Celebrated on the 19th of Dawnreach, this day is the day where prayers to Silvanus most often seem to be answered.
- The Night the Forest Walks (Day)
- The Night the Forest Walks can occur at any time during the year. It is a night when Silvanus is restless, and trees move, streams and ravines change their courses, and caves open and close in the forest. Forest-dwelling monsters are often stirred into action, and wild magic is especially strong and apt to go wild.
- The Call of Oak, Ash, and Thorn (Prayer)
- A simple prayer to Silvanus, a priest gathers leaves of the three named sorts of trees, floats them on water, and entreats Silvanus to hear a prayer. For deeper concerns (a conversation with a servant of the god, or the receipt of godly favors or magical powers) a Vigil is often employed: The worshiper anoints his or her own body with a powder of crushed acorns and mistletoe leaves mixed with rainwater or spring water and lies down on, or in contact with, a growing tree for most of a night. Some part of the bare flesh of the faithful must touch green, growing moss, so moss-covered giant trees are most favored for use in Vigils.
- The Song of the Trees (Ritual)
- A droning, haunting chant that is repetitive, leaps from sharp to flat in pitch, and increases in power the more worshipers are participating. Its performance always draws woodland creatures to gather in silent witness, laying aside their usual fears and their instincts to prey upon each other. The Song of the Trees heals burned, diseased, and scarred trees-and even, in rare moments of the favor of Silvanus, re-erects trees that have fallen or been felled.
- Thorncall (Ritual)
- A ritual magic that raises thick walls of deadly tearing thorns out of the forest soil. These barriers are permanent and as labyrinthine as the presiding priest desires, but they can only be called up when a servant of Silvanus (a worshiper or a servitor creature, such as a stag) has been slain or shed much blood in the vicinity. The Thorncall ritual is used to keep out those who would burn or despoil the forest in such a way as to upset the balance.
Major Centers of Worship[edit | edit source]
- Example, Example-land
Affiliated Orders[edit | edit source]
- The Riders of the West Wind