The Old Ways is a colloquial term used to refer to the various pagan faiths of Gilneas, Arathor, and Alterac. They consist mostly of proto-druidism and were brought along with the Vyrkul ancestors. Though these teachings fell out of favor in most regions of the Empire of Arathor, it has notably survived in Gilneas alongside the newer teachings of the Light.
Seen as the primary branch of the Old Ways, and by some as the progenitor of the belief, Gilnean Paganism is the most well known of the pagans of the Old Ways. Having been impacted throughout the centuries by the intermingling of the Holy Light and the ever changing and advancing society of Gilneas, the Old Ways (prior to the Worgen Curse) was mostly kept by the agrarian sect of Gilneas' society.
As with the nature of paganism, the Old Ways are not united in all beliefs. Depending on the region of Gilneas they are found, the practices and beliefs may be somewhat different (radically in some cases). Most followers of Gilnean Paganism have united beliefs through the spirits that they worship, though the rituals to pay homage as well as their names are often different.
The worshipers of the Old Ways have always worshiped the named and nameless spirits of the land. Due to the nature of the Old Ways being passed down rather than written down or with doctrines, the pagans of Gilneas often differ from location to location in certain rituals and identifications for the spirits. While all pagans within the kingdom share some common beliefs, from which they “unite” their faith, there is substantial difference between pagans of Northgate and pagans of the Blackwald.
Among these pagans, some have taken to granting names to the spirits they worship; claiming them to be passed down through generation. While some spirits, even within these sects that hold names, are nameless; these spirits primarily are meant to embody greater aspects of the world at large. As such, rituals are made in their name or of a specific type, hoping to invoke that blessing in specific. Since the advent of Druidism, some have taken to using the names of Ancients in place of the spirits, though the majority keeps to the natural spirits being nameless or their ancestral names.
Wicker Paganism or Galui Paganism is one of the most wide spread versions of paganism due to the rise and fall of the Wickers. This branch is linked by various spirits of the world, each personified with an ancient tale and form. It is linked to the Chronicles of the Lost Home in belief, as it shares many of the features; though more modernized.
Among these spirits are the Prime Spirit pantheon, which are detailed below. These spirits are those seen as masters of their domain, with other spirits falling into their classification seen as under them as servants or lesser spirits.
Kryfta, Spirit of the HuntEdit
One of the primary spirits mentioned in many sects is that of the Hunt. Lumped as one, the spirit personifies the spirit of the huntsman and living off the land as well as the bountiful virtues that can be found from within the many woodland areas of Gilneas. Though some sects separate the two into different spirits, others pray on certain virtues of this spirit when meaning to invoke specific blessings. Kept through sacrifices of furs, meat and other animal offerings, Kryfta is seen as one of the greatest spirits.
Kryfta, also called the Greathunter, was said to once be a half of a greater spirit. While when united, the greater spirit oversaw the forests and hunts, Kryfta embodied the spirit's desire for revenge and eagerness for sport. Personified as a large wolf, Kryfta the Greathunter embodies the ferocity of nature. Having been separated from his other half by the ancient spirit, Yolth, Kryfta's ferocity became unabated.
His eternal rage at being separated from his other half as well as Yolth's defilement of his being, Kryfta's physical form hunts for Yolth throughout the ages. It is stated that Kryfta's physical form was dragged into Yolth's realm during a great war against him, but the Underdweller underestimated him. Slaying and butchering thousands of Yolth's followers and servants, Kryfta's rage was eternally kept in Yolth's own realm, butchering scores of the dark spirit's followers for all ages. Hunters call upon this unleashed fury, seeking to sup from the excess energies of Kryfta and gain his strength.
During the outbreak of the Worgen Curse, it was believed that Kryfta had escaped the realm of Yolth and had been tainted; descending a curse upon humanity. When this was later proved false, the belief that Kryfta had still escaped Yolth's clutches remained, though believed to be pure.
Following the exposure to the rest of the world, pagans of Gilneas have noticed the overwhelming amount of similarities between Goldrinn and Kryfta. While some claim them separate, a large amount of pagans have begun to acknowledge the two spirits as one and the same. By this, it in turns means that Yolth may be a personification of the Burning Legion or the Old Gods. Ultimately, Goldrinn has supplanted Kryfta in some circles, with some regions either strictly referring to Goldrinn with the name of Kryfta or just using the name Goldrinn its place.
Gurnye, Spirit of the OceanEdit
Another primary spirit in most sects is that of the ocean, the great whale Gurnye. Gurnye is said to wander the oceans of Azeroth as her domain. A great friend of Galane, and as a result Sayat, Gurnye was said to experience most of her life under Galane's radiance. The moon's ever constant companion, Gurnye chased Galane throughout the day to be separated as little as possible from her friend.
Of Gurnye's many children, Gurnye laid her eyes upon the fish and whales of Azeroth as her favored servants. Scanning the wide oceans, the fish of Azeroth did their simple part in the balance of life; as Gurnye was claimed to never be a complicated spirit. When Yolth rose into an evil spirit, Gurnye did her best to prevent a corruption of the water to prevent the very lifeblood of Azeroth from being destroyed. Finding herself free of Yolth's attacks for a time, Gurnye attempted to aid Galane after Sayat's flames engulfed him. Alongside Hod, Gurnye channeled the power of the ocean upon Sayat, attempting to douse him to no avail. Able to protect and comfort Galane, Gurnye lends her power when she can to the great moon in times known as Eclipses. During these times, she protects Galane from Sayat's fire, allowing them to embrace and be close for small moments of time before they must separate again. Infuriated by Gurnye's interference, Yolth beset the ocean only to find Gurnye's protection was eons strong. Seeking a lesser punishment, Yolth took Gurnye's favorite breeds of fish and twisted them, creating the race known as Murlocs.
Stupid and violent, the Murlocs infested all of Azeroth with their presence, but Gurnye loved them ever still. Bestowing her essence unto them as she had the other sea-dwelling creatures, it became possible for the murlocs to learn understanding and peace. This resulted in some branches of the creatures changing into different forms, while others merely became docile. Not all Murlocs took this blessing to heart, still becoming the violent creatures they are known for. Gurnye still watches over them ever still, hoping to take in their forms when their spirits are released to allow them rebirth un-corrupted.
The spirit is often invoked in times of torrid weather for safe travel through its domain or that of bountiful fish harvests. As the ocean is vast, the spirit of the ocean is seen as one of the strongest spirits in existence. Often sacrifices are made in the form of several various land animals, throat slit and tossed into the ocean to feed the slumbering personification of the ocean. Other sects preform ceremonial dance or ritual to the ocean, depending on the desired outcome. For safe waters, as an example, it is often a slow paced dance with several runes marking the body of the dancer.
Followers of Gurnye often mark their entire body with runes of the ocean and otherwise, bestowing them powers over the water and the ability to swim as a fish, or even transform into one. To take the form of an orca is seen to be chosen by Gurnye as one of her own, with her followers set on protecting the ocean while also reaping from its bounties.
Faye, Spirit of the ForestEdit
One of the most widely prayed to spirits is that of Faye, the great doe of the forest. Said to be the other half of Kryfta, Faye rested in eternal slumber to recover from a brutal assault by Yolth. Personified as a great doe, Faye rested throughout the ages while her other half warred with their attacker. When she awoke, Faye wandered through the land, spreading her domain of the forest wide. From there, Faye became known as a matron of sorts to the woodland creatures and the denizens of Azeroth. A calming force, Faye has never enacted herself into violence; rather her power comes in the form of healing arts and restorative powers. It is said once that Faye walked across a land charred by battle and scarred beyond repair, with each step life bloomed until the battlefield had become a blossoming grove.
Faye is seen as an extremely pacifistic and benevolent spirit. Seen as having created the forests and the various bounties of it, the spirit is thought to be one whose objectives are to perpetuate the cycle of life. Having been attributed to the ability to work with animals rather than constantly war with them, many caretakers of animals may ask for Faye's blessings for strong herds or loyal animal companions. Many also beseech Faye for healing or restoration, with runes of that kind being attributed to her power. Followers of Faye are often benevolent selfless souls, with their sights set on healing and mending rather than war or the ill that comes with it.
Faye's origins seem mostly unique to the Gilneans, unlike others. While within the Chronicles it states that Faye may be connected to Freya, even then it was queer that Freya's name was used with little connection. It is believed that Faye may have supplanted Freya as early as the Chronicles, only to have the older name remain. Regardless of this, exposure to the druids of Hyjal has led to some pagans to believe Faye may be a personification of Aessina or a servant of Malorne. Faye is also associated with fertility and growth, a belief that carries on through the bountiful nature of the forest.
As Faye also symbolizes fertility, women will pray to her for fertility. Noblegarden is a day devoted to her in pagan worship.
Hod, Spirit of Winter and FrostEdit
Personified as a large cat, Hod embodies Winter and Frost. An observant spirit that can be quick to anger. He roams the land freely under his close friends, Sayat and Galane. Before the whispers of the Dark One reached his ears, he remained reclusive in certain areas because mortals enjoyed Sayat's warmth more than his chill.
It is said he can be seen in the snow-capped mountains, therefore, he is thought to also have a close relationship with Kolsir. There are tales that Hod often went hunting with Kolsir and they even held frequent duels for strength.
Deep in the forests, under the Moon Spirit's light and behind Sayat's back, did Hod first hear the whispers of Yolth. Yolth was able to seduce the Winter Spirit into thinking that Sayat wanted to be rid of him completely and turn the mortals to hate his Winters and how it made food scarce and the air chill them to the bones. Because of his love for duels, Yolth used this to his advantage and convinced the now-enraged Hod that a duel would also win Galane's favour, for she wanted a strong consort.
It was after this that Yolth cursed Sayat to burn even brighter than before, and to Hod, this only proved that the whispers of betrayal were true. The Lynx challenged Sayat to a duel and won. The end result, however, turned out to be devastating. Sayat was now weak, and instead of winning Galane over, as he was convinced he would, she was stricken with grief. The realization that his anger had been used against him washed over his mind and he became penitent.
Because of the duel, Sayat can only burn so long due to the wounds he sustained, and he charged Hod with watching over Galane and the land while he rested. Hod agreed to do this, but lives with knowing that the mortals must toil arduously in order to store food for his harsh winters.
Though he is associated with winter, frost, and the hard times they can bring, the faithful use this time as a time of solitude and reflection as Hod himself did after the duel and hurting his friend for an eternity. The rest of Sayat begins with the Wickerman, where the pagans cast aside old grudges and seek forgiveness from those that they have wronged. Winter's Veil is celebrated in late December to recount the forgiveness Hod received and his commitment to help protect Galane and the Blue Child while Sayat is resting.
Raeok, Spirit of HarvestEdit
Raeok is not originally a Spirit of the Old Ways. His tale is one of devotion and loyalty. Raeok started as a druid and a practitioner. Devotion to the Wild Gods allowed him, and people like him, to manipulate crops and the nature around them in order to better the world.
However, it is said that one day Raeok fell asleep, and in his dreams, he entered another realm completely and communed with the Spirits themselves. This realm later became known as the Emerald Dream. He continued to dreamwalk until he learned the art of shapeshifting into beast forms. The druid passed these arts down and taught them so that others, including the earth, may benefit from these gifts.
When he was near Death's Door, Raeok walked in the dream one last time. It was during this time that his physical body perished, but his dream form lived on. Stories began circulating that the Spirits themselves called the druid to their realm to feast and live with them, and he graciously accepted after a life time of intense devotion. Now, he represents the Harvest, and he is a role model to those wanting to walk the path or commit themselves to the Spirits of Eld.
His rune is a fox, for during his life, he kept vulpin companions more than any other and had a love for them especially. The Wickerman and Hallow's End is his festival, and in some areas, the Harvest Festival is another occasion used to pay him homage to his teachings. He is prayed to by students and those seeking guidance in the Old Ways.
Faralani, Spirit of the SkiesEdit
Faralani, spirit of the skies, is a spirit known to personify the freedom of the air and has been said to control powers over the winds. Taking the physical form of an eagle or, more commonly, a falcon, Faralani is said to hold unquestioned dominion over the air; the leader and mother spirit of all avian creatures. As a result, Faralani has become associated closely with the other avian spirits, Yim'nir and Hyroth. The trio make up various different realms, though Faralani has brought the three together under her great bough, a sprawling tree within the spirit realm that each of the three spirits inhabit.
Within the Great Bough, Faralani rests at the very top of the tree, her domain one of a large open nest where the eggs of her children rest under the watch of her consorts. From this mighty perch, she watches over all of the skies of Azeroth, using her children as her eyes in the smaller regions that her great sight might lack introspection on. Within the tree lays the many libraries of Hyroth, the Owl rarely leaving his domain unless in pursuit of more knowledge. Upon the branches is the empty home of Yim'nir which has laid dormant for most of its existence, as Yim'nir's quest is endless. Despite this, Faralani has watched Yim'nir from afar; her feelings of adoration for the mighty raven going unfulfilled as he journeyed tirelessly.
Faralani's domain is also that of the winds, bestowing her followers with the ability to control gales and storms with her blessing. Through Faralani, her followers adorn themselves with feathers and idols of her visage, using them as focuses for their spells or as conduits. Markings of Faralani are typically small runes marked along one's arms, allowing Faralani to bestow the marked with wings within the spiritual realm; wings that then allow them to channel through her power into the physical realm. To mark one's self with Faralani is vastly different than the other spirits. One swears an oath to her domain, becoming a child of the sky. It is believed that every child of the sky will enjoy rebirth as one of the avian creatures of the world at some point, to rest within the Great Bough as one of Faralani's children.
Faralani's blessings also extend into followers of Yim'nir and Hyroth, with joint worship of the three common among various groups; as the trio each embody an alternate path to life. Great scholars of Hyroth enjoy the freedom of the skies as their limit, where as Yim'nir's followers await the days their spirits are loosed into the skies to be welcomed.
Faralani is not just one of the skies, however, she is also known as great hunter. Sharing a friendly rival with Kryfta and Faye's unified form, Yolth's separation of the two was met with acceptance by Faralani first among them all. Faralani was one of the few who could direct Kryfta's boundless rage as Faye slept, driving him into the woods on joint hunts so he might abate his fury. Together, they roamed the forests of the slumbering doe, ensuring the animals of the forest would not out grow their homes with their matron in recovery. When Yolth returned to Kryfta again, he chose the under ground to evade Faralani's sight. Wracked with guilt to be unable to aid her friend in his prison, Faralani continued their endless hunt in his name. Her children, the Falcons, became scouts and watchers to aid with the endless hunt; to honor the fallen wolf. Tales spoke that when Kryfta inevitably wrenched himself from the underground, Faralani would be the first along with Faye to welcome him back; and that their hunt would continue ever more as equals.
No other spirit despises Yolth as much as Faralani, with her hatred of Yolth going as far as to antagonize his children as they wander the world. This hatred was borne within her heart with the robbing of her two friends, Yim'nir and Kryfta. When Yim'nir was defeated by Yolth, Faralani hunted for months attempting to find where the Underdweller had stolen away the great raven. Deducing that he was no longer in this realm, but that of the underground, Faralani raged against the servants of Yolth. Injured in her mighty reaping of vengeance, Faralani was forced to rest in her Great Bough, an act that would keep her mighty vision off of the world for a time. During this period, it was when Yolth struck at her other ally, Kryfta. Faralani's great guilt came in the form of this, as she was unable to warn Kryfta of Yolth's coming; leading to his capture.
When the Worgen curse swept through the world and the revelation of the ancients came to the Gilnean people, it was said Faralani returned as well to accompany her ancient friend. Tales of Aviana fighting alongside Goldrinn has led to many believing that the ancient tales have come true, as Faralani as Aviana has returned to Kryfta's, as Goldrinn, side as an ally. With Yim'nir's return as well, it is believed that Faralani's guilt has finally been put to rest.
Worshipers of Faralani often adorn themselves with feathers and carve the image of avian creatures into their adornments. Their great oath to the spirit is so strong, that some even don masks in the visage of a falcon when hunting. Some followers have also shown to have keepers of this spirit, keeping near-mythical mastery over the winds, to augment things such as archery beyond the skill of a normal person. Nearly every follower of Faralani keeps some sort of avian creature, with Falcons, Owls and Ravens standing at the forefront. To keep a Falcon is to devote one's self solely to Faralani's path, while an Owl is to search for Hyroth's blessings of wisdom and a Raven is to ask for Yim'nir's blessings in keeping the cycles of nature on going.
Hyroth, Spirit of WisdomEdit
A spirit of wisdom and magic, Hyroth is seen as the keeper of mana and a guardian of magic. Taking the form of a great long-eared owl, Hyroth and his children are seen as a symbol of knowledge and scholarly pursuits; the thirst for knowledge. Hyroth keeps a deep tie with Faralani and Yim'nir in the legends, resting within Faralani's Great Bough, a massive tree within the realm of the spirits that houses the spirits of all avian life. While Faralani claims domain over the sky and its creatures, Hyroth's owls are exempt from that, as they are said to be spread far and wide throughout Azeroth to hunt and find their own new knowledge that they carry back with them to their progenitor.
Deep within the Great Bough's trunk, it is said that a sprawling library of every libram and book that Hyroth has found on Azeroth is encoded. It is from these many tomes and scrolls that Hyroth holds the ultimate knowledge among the spirits, his endless hunt as he remains ever vigilant within this world. Hyroth's chosen few manifest in the realm of Azeroth as spiritual owls, used as scouts and wardens for those who could summon them. These ethereal creatures possess special magical powers beyond that of a typical spirit beast; allowing them the ability to teleport and even go completely invisible or heal alongside the typical damaging abilities.
Hyroth's tale is not without strife, however. One of Hyroth's greatest treasures was once the Scroll of Knowledge. An archaic thing, it possessed the workings and rune markings of every spell and incantation to be and would be, something Hyroth kept clutched in his talons whenever he embarked on quests for new knowledge. In the time of the scroll, the Owls of Azeroth were all ancient casters, able to watch over the flow of magic and mana through the world as they hunted evermore for their own separate knowledge. Unlike the other spirits who had mostly held animosity for Yolth, Hyroth found Yolth's, at the time, tricks entertaining or harmless. He bestowed upon Yolth's children the ability to speak and learn, elevating them from their dullness. Once the spirit of trickery, Yolth coerced Hyroth to allow him but a peek at the scroll, in exchange he would never pull tricks upon the owls of thew world. From that day, Yolth claimed he had learned the ultimate trick from the scroll, one he would never share with Hyroth. Despite his hunting and searching through the scroll, Hyroth could not discern the great trick that Yolth had learned, something that would silently haunt the owl for ages. When Yolth ultimately pushed the line by slighting Kolsir and the other spirits, Hyroth found him self being beseeched by Kolsir. Requesting a revoking of the brilliance he had granted Yolth's children, Hyroth agreed; finding himself semi-responsible for the amount of trouble that Yolth had been able to cause. Driven mad by Hyroth's perceived betrayal, Yolth swore vengeance against all spirits for their imposition against him. While the great owl questioned if Yolth's punishment was too severe, the attacks he made upon the other spirits found him lacking sympathy for the goat he once called friend.
Ultimately, Hyroth's tale is one of tragedy, as Yolth came for Hyroth last after all the other spirits. Calling upon the trick he had learned from the scroll, Yolth came to Hyroth with the blackened heart that he had gained. Despite Hyroth's attempts to make Yolth see the error of his ways, Yolth attacked the great owl in a rage; though Hyroth's wings kept him above the horns of the goat. Hyroth lambasted Yolth for his attacks on the others, only to be rebuffed with claims of vengeance and anger. Yolth gave a singular demand upon Hyroth, to return the brilliance of his children in exchange for being left alone by the evil spirit. Refusing, Yolth made good on his threat, claiming the trust between them had been broken long ago. And so the great trick that Yolth had learned was set upon Hyroth, to the owl's horror. A spell of blinding, robbing the great scholar of his sight forever. His vengeance upon Hyroth complete, Yolth returned to the underground, leaving the now blind owl to brood. Hyroth returned to the Great Bough with the aid of his children and rested within his abode, mourning his own foolishness and the hatred that had become his friend.
It is said that Hyroth is able to take away the spell for a short period of time by robbing one of Azeroth of their sight. For this day, Hyroth absorbs as much knowledge as he can, memorizing books upon books in his head with eidetic memory. When the day ends, he recants the stories and tomes to himself until he has read the hundreds he has memorized fully and truly, which is when he takes the sight of another. As Hyroth's claim upon their sight is pre-determined, the loss of sight is not dependent upon the soul's life having begun. In re-compensation for this, Hyroth grants these poor people second life under his service if they so will it, where they will be reborn with sight and natural potency for magic. Those who refuse are allowed then to relive their life, exactly as it was, the only difference being that their sight is with them. Ultimately, it is a tired thing to the great owl, as he hunts tirelessly even in his blindness to undo the curse upon him; the curse so strong that he cannot ever look upon the Scroll of Knowledge again.
Followers of Hyroth hold a close resonance with magic and knowledge, echoing the great owl's pursuits. Holding a respect for both Yim'nir and Faralani, the followers of Hyroth are seen within the realm of the sky, as only the heavens are their limits for finding knowledge. Those empowered by Hyroth often mark their arms with sigils of Hyroth, which include markings along their shoulders of open scrolls, referring to the scroll of knowledge. Some mark their eyes in respect of Hyroth, acknowledging their patron's lack of sight and opening themselves to be his eyes in this world. It is said to become blind from over reading or from various issues is Yolth's curse bleeding upon humanity. In this sense, Hyroth extends his pact to these unlucky souls to ease their burden, allowing them to benefit in the next life. Rituals to Hyroth usually include empty tomes and scrolls along with brews of magic. These mana potions are said to be gifts of the great owl, given to humanity to allow them to continue their pursuits with fervor. As a result, offering it back to the owl, home brewed, is said to be a gift to the owl to never falter. Followers of Hyroth often keep an owl companion of some sort, and to be gifted with a spiritual owl as a summoned creature or to be tamed is to be chosen by Hyroth's wisdom to augment their respective goals, be it the pursuit of knowledge or not. These owl companions absorb from the experiences they go through with their partner, taking them back to the Great Bough when their time is done to scribe their own great tales.
A spirit of death and the spiritual world, Yim'nir is claimed to shepard the trapped or lost to the next world. Tales speak of Yim'nir in detail concerning his origins, claiming his a story of adversity over come.
In the early ages of the world, Yim'nir was an outcast among the other spirits, having the ability to shift into a barren world where the sole inhabitant was himself. His many eyes remained closed aside from just two, never able to open them despite his attempts and knowledge of them being there, his powers weak and frail. When life was seeded, Yim'nir begun to hear cries for help endlessly, the raven bombarded with sound upon sound that he could never find the origin of, finding only solace within the other realm. However, it was upon one day that Yim'nir rested he felt a cry even within his own realm, close to where he was. Disturbed that this realm of silence and solace now had another inhabitant, Yim'nir pursued the voice with curiosity. Finding a dying warrior within his realm, the raven's many eyes opened for the first time. Seeing the man as he truly was, he saw his spirit trapped within his corpse, yearning for the other side. Ripping open the man's body with his beak, Yim'nir cracked the soul from its shell, the tie finally cut from the anchor that kept the man suffering. A bit of the man's soul found its self granting power to Yim'nir, giving the fledgling spirit a taste of a calling. With his eyes now open, Yim'nir saw countless paths to countless spirits trapped and lost within Azeroth. With silent thanks from the passing warrior, Yim'nir had found his purpose at last.
The great raven spent countless ages, gathering power and freeing souls from the realm he called his domain as he trekked far and wide across Azeroth. In time, Yim'nir began to learn to weave the power he had gained, the very essence of souls. Finding it to be a pure energy that sundered and empowered life it's self, Yim'nir began to test and document his findings. These tomes of Soulweaving, as he'd called it, were a sacred thing to Yim'nir. Being granted a domain within the Great Bough, Yim'nir and his servants, the ravens and crows of Azeroth, made their home within it. Housing his tomes, Yim'nir found himself in a friendship with that of Hyroth, the greatest scholar, and Faralani, the mistress of the skies. Refusing even they to look at his findings, Faralani pursued Yim'nir to bind their two domains together, with he alongside her as the lord of the skies. Refusing, as his journey brought him true purpose, Yim'nir set aside happiness and personal gain for that of his charge. From that day ever on, Faralani looked after him as a friend, finding unparalleled respect for the Raven's endless task. In his travels, Yim'nir took few followers, each being granted the ability over souls that he had learned, allowing them a singular student at times, while at others they alone would hold his teachings, sharing his charge as their own as part of their pact.
Yim'nir's tale came to an apex with the rise of Yolth. Perverting life as revenge against Faye, Yolth created undeath. As a result, Yim'nir too was slighted, as these souls were too tainted to be sheparded to the beyond. To add further insult, Yolth breached into Yim'nir's realm, attempting to taint the purgatory to cause any soul that entered into it to become tainted and befouled. Unwilling to allow this to happen, Yim'nir sought out and destroyed Yolth's attempts in his realm. Finally confronted by the goat spirit himself, Yim'nir repelled the evil spirit from his realm and chased him down into Azeroth. Challenging Yolth with the great powers of souls, Yolth was laid low until near the very end. Corrupting Yim'nir's very soul himself as a trump card upon him, Yim'nir was forced to enter into stasis to prevent himself from becoming a tool of Yolth, and to close off the purgatory from Yolth permanently. Infuriated that even then his plans had been foiled, Yolth claimed Yim'nir's body as a trophy, placing him within his realm, high above Kryfta as he eternally warred within Yolth's realm. As a result of his sacrifice, Yim'nir was seen as a martyr spirit in many circles. With Yim'nir gone, his ravens and students continued his work in his stead.
Yim'nir was said to take the form of a giant many eyed raven who would stalk fields of battle after they had ended to rip apart carcasses to free trapped souls. Said to roam the lands of the world through shifting in and out of the plane of existence, he held a deep respect for the dead. As a result, Yim'nir was violently opposed to forces that would twist or devour souls, having devoted his life to mastering ways to salvage them. Yim'nir's eventual defeat by Yolth was seen as a tragedy in many tales; something that would spur Kryfta and other spirits. Even in his stasis, Yim'nir was said to watch over the dead, as he kept his realm from being accessed by evil. It is said that Yim'nir's power over souls has also bled into Azeroth. Stillbirths are explained as Yim'nir preventing a weakened soul from taking form in Azeroth before their time, lest they be susceptible to Yolth. A mercy, albeit a tragedy, Yim'nir continues as a guardian of souls. Funerals are often seen as rites to this spirit, laying the body to rest to ensure the spirit is able to pass on if Yim'nir cannot reach them.
Followers of Yim'nir are few and far between. As his teachings were secretive to begin with, it becomes an even greater task to find one as worshiping a creature as paramount that associates with the dead is often not common. As a result, the runeworkings and rituals of Yim'nir are largely unknown. It is known that followers of Yim'nir unlock the true power of their souls, with the near mythical Soulweavers able to gain some of the most deadly magical teachings on Azeroth.
In truth, it has been found that Yim'nir is one of the few spirits to be confirmed as an entity, an ancient. Having fought during the War of the Ancients, Yim'nir was one of the few spirits to survive the onslaught of the Legion; though he disappeared shortly after. It was found that he roamed the lands of the world; thus leading to his appearance in paganism as the years went on. Making his resting grounds within Gilneas, Yim'nir would once again vanish from sight as he aided with the first death of Kil'zoth; believed to be Yolth himself by some of the pagans at the time. Trapped within Kil'zoth's dread mists, Yim'nir's sudden disappearance after the battle and the creation of the Dark Woods in its wake led to many tales that he'd sacrificed himself, a half truth as he had gone into stasis to protect others while he riled under the corruption of the creature of shadow.
Yim'nir currently is one of the most revered spirits after his appearance during the Discord and the rise of Ca'ries and the attempted revival of Kil'zoth. As a result, he is one of the few spirits that most pagans will acknowledge regardless of their branch. As stated earlier, despite his revived reverence, true followers of his path are still uncommon.
Yolth, Spirit of Trickery and SacrificeEdit
Called the Underdweller, Yolth is a personification of evil in the world. Having been said to once be a spirit of mischief and trickery, Yolth was a great many horned goat whose servants were the goats and rams of Azeroth. Said to be a plentiful and trickster people as well, his children were a nuisance to the creatures of the world. After stealing some of Kolsir's stores and iron, Yolth came into direct conflict with the great bear. Infuriated with Yolth's constant tricks, Kolsir cursed his children to become dull and idiotic; robbing them of their ability to speak or conjure magic. By doing so, Yolth became infuriated and attempted to defile the Realm of Spirits. Unable to do so due to the other spirits, Yolth buried deep under the ground, defiling the underground and the deepest reaches of the spiritual world.
Yolth is blamed for most of the miseries that happen in many of the spirit's tales. Having split the great nameless spirit that would become Kryfta and Faye, the corruption of Gurnye's children into the Murlocs and countless other tricks and miseries, Yolth is always seen as evil. Of Yolth's many evils, none is more lamented than the defeat of Yim'nir. Having said to attempt to defile the realm of the dead, Yolth faced off against Yim'nir in order to defeat the spirit of the dead. Refusing to allow this, Yim'nir warred with Yolth until he was unable to anymore. Defeating Yolth in a key battle, Yim'nir locked himself in eternal stasis to defend the realm of the dead. As a final victory over Yim'nir, he was dragged away into Yolth's domains as a trophy in his stasis.
It has been found that many old tales describe Yolth raining fire from the skies, rising from the ground and various other odd unlinked calamities. It is believed Yolth may refer to an amalgam of organizations, such as the Burning Legion and the Old Gods; though his more modern interpretations seem to refer closer to that of the Old Gods. This falls in line with the tales of Yim'nir's actual disappearance following the defeat of Kil'zoth, whom Yolth was thought to be.
Yolth is worshiped in some circles to ward away his curses by abatement or by others who believe worshiping Yolth will grant them his favor, and in turn his powers. As a result, shadow casting and sacrificial rituals are often key in these groups, using them liberally in the dark spirit's name. Following the liberation of Wickenden, in which Yolth followers were instrumental, Yolth's true nature has become more well known. Yolth, to his devout, is not the Burning Legion or the devout, rather, a vengeful yet cunning god who derives his power from deception and sacrifice. Akin to Leka, while Yolth is more prone to deception than full guile, his true power comes from sacrifice. His innumerable children and ability to call upon the powers of nature are made manifest in his belief that the ends will justify the means of his goals. His followers are often potent blood mages, as a result, quite literally sacrificing their life force to gain power.
Galane, Spirit of the MoonEdit
Galane is the spirit of the moon and all the moon embodies. She is a close friend of Gurnye and converses often with her. The ebb and flow of the change between high tide and low tide is considered to be a manifestation of their relationship to mortals. Her child is represented by the lesser moon and she is the consort of Sayat.
Her story is not without the influence of Yolth. Before his evil pranks, Galane was always full in body and provided her followers with power. However, the trickster coaxed her into coming into an other-worldly plain where magic ruled and the spirits of the recently dead would wander about aimlessly. It was a spirit world between the mundane and the purely magical. She was thought to be trapped there, but soon emerged and grew more powerful from her time within the realm. She grew into full power and body once more, but only for a brief period of time. Yolth cursed her to this cycle for the rest of her life, not being able to look upon her lover, her friend of the oceans, and the earth she helped curate.
This offered explanation to the Mother Moon's waxing and waning. On new moons, she is trapped, and during the process of waxing, she is breaking free from its grasp and growing in power. On full moons, she is most powerful and pours that power out to the creation below. After all her power is spent, she is tugged back into the otherworld, or the waning phase.
Those who want Galane's blessing will perform rites and rituals on a full moon. It is believed she releases the recently deceased back onto the physical world to be reincarnated and pours out the powers and energies she received unto worshippers.
She has a special pity for worgen, and it is believed now that her light offers them solace to quell the rage.
Sayat, Spirit of the Sun, Summer, and FireEditSummer, fire, warmth, and solar aspects are personified with Sayat. He is said to be the lover of Galane and father to the Blue Child. He is friends with Hod and enemies with Yolth.
Sayat has a close friendship with Faye and Raeok. His light allows for crops to grow upon the earth, which the Great Doe and Harvest Wizard tend to. It is a cycle which gives the devout the gifts of the earth to sustain themselves, and it is a way that the three repay the loyal for their prayers.
At first, Sayat's warmth was moderate. It was pleasant to sit under during the summers and it lasted throughout most the day until Galane came out to grace the world with her silver light. Under the influence of Yolth, Hod became jealous of Galane and Sayat's eternal bond of love and compassion. Secretly, he conspired with Yolth; on Yolth's part, he set the Summer Spirit on fire, causing him to burn intensely. This, in turn, caused those his lived below him to get burns on their skin if they stayed in his light for too long. Dry crops were set aflame by his light, and the earth dried out. Hod, in turn, made Sayat weak for five months of the year because of the wounds sustained in a duel against the Lynx Spirit, making for the onset of winter.
After seeing what trickery led to his friend's pain, Hod felt a yoke of remorse upon his shoulders for seeing the anguish that Galane experienced for her lover's weakened state. During the winter months, Sayat demanded that Hod watch after Galane and the Blue Child from further harm that Yolth might cause.
Sayat is prayed to by young men who wish to be strong and virile, and is depicted as a loving father and partner to Galane, who triumphs over the treachery of Yolth with the coming of the Summer. Midsummer is celebrated in honor of him.
Kolsir, Spirit of the MountainsEdit
Kolsir the Great Bear is the spirit of the mountains and of strength. With many beseeching the spirit for his strength, Kolsir's tale has been one of over coming adversity, and as such, the unending strength and vitality of the great spirit. Many of Kolsir's oldest tales describe the bear as a soul of great power, his fur changing between brown and black periodically with appearances; but each stating their unending charge in their objectives. A friend of many of the spirits, Kolsir appears in some way in quite a few tales that center around other ancient spirits.
The most famous of Kolsir's legends is that of the downfall of Yolth, told across many clans and communities that believe in the two spirits. Yolth, once the spirit of trickery, deceived the trusting Kolsir from his den into a false hunt; sending him off into a barren landscape while Yolth and his conniving children pillaged his stores of food that he had prepared for Hod's arrival across the land. Infuriated with Yolth's constant tricks, Kolsir demanded the return of his foodstores, lest Yolth face his wrath. Ever the trickster, Yolth pleaded with Kolsir to allow him to take some of the stores for himself and his children, as he had not adequately prepared for the cat of winter's arrival. Allowing a quarter of the stores to leave to Yolth, Kolsir awaited the return of his food. Return the food Yolth did, after it had spoiled and become rotten, some half eaten, while the pristine food remained in Yolth's possession for the winter. To make matters worse, as Yolth's children brought the befouled foodstores back, they pilfered from Kolsir's hoards of iron, making themselves crude baubles for their amusement.
Having worn the great spirit's patience thin, Kolsir cursed Yolth and his children, driving the goats and rams of Azeroth dull and lame, unable to stand up right or speak anylonger, with the compulsion to ever climb his many mountains as punishment. Unable to undo Kolsir's curse, Yolth's persnoality became more and more nefarious. Besetting the realm of the Wild Gods, Yolth attempted to befoul it with his rage, only to find Kolsir awaiting him. Faralani had spied him from the skies, Yim'nir tracking his movements through the other realms. Kryfta and Faye's unified form had heard his movements through the forests and Hyroth's ever vigilant gaze spied him. To move about Azeroth, he had also made himself known to Galane, Sayat and Hod as they waited. Many of the great spirits had conspired against Yolth, as he had slighted them many a time. Having out tricked the trickster, Kolsir struck a blow against Yolth, sending the nefarious spirit deep under ground and from the realm of the spirits. Named now as the Underdweller, Yolth became the embodiment of evil as he pursued vengeance against those who had brought their justice unto him.
Kolsir's tales continued with Yolth for many a time, becoming a watcher against Yolth as he befouled other spirits. When the time came that Yolth attempted his vengeance against the great bear, Kolsir stood strong. Able to fight off Yolth's attacks, Yolth gouged into Kolsir with his mighty horns to bestow a curse unto Kolsir himself, to split his great form into two and divide his power. Sundered, Kolsir became the bears Kol and Sir, a black and brown bear. The mighty magics of the spirit flowed through Kol, with the majority of his strength flowing in Sir. While both contained some of the power of the other, they were not the unified mastery they were as one. The battle raged on ever still, the bear brothers unable to overpower Yolth's deathly assault. When all seemed lost, however, their strength rumbled in their hearts as they realized the way to defeat the wild ram spirit. As one, they fought in tandem, and now as two they worked as a team. Kol's mighty magic alongside Sir's mighty blows beat back Yolth until in a mighty roar, they re-merged into Kolsir to finish off the Underdweller and send him back deep under ground. While in the aftermath, Yolth's curse remained and separated them, Kol and Sir had over come the adversity put upon them and had become stronger, as now two spirits possessed the fervor of one.
As such, Kolsir, or Kol and Sir, have been revered for their endurance in the face of adversity. Many pray and bestow offerings or sacrifices as rituals for the strength of the mighty spirit, adorning themselves with spiraling runes of power that increase their vitality. Twins are often seen as blessed by Kolsir, as they are seen as two halves of the same whole, much as Kol and Sir are the two halves of the Great Bear. Kol and Sir are celebrated under the joint festival of Fiach-Mór, or the Great/Grand Hunt, a celebration that also includes Kryfta. The first day is spent in Kryfta's name, hunting the wilds for meat and bounties of the forest, while the latter is spent in Kolsir's name, feasting and making merry as the season goes on.
Of the spirits, none are closer to Kolsir than Kryfta and Hod. It was said Kryfta was targeted by Yolth with a similar curse in order to slight Kolsir, and that Kryfta's imprisonment within Yolth's domain was yet another slight, despite the innumerable losses Yolth would suffer. As stated within the downfall of Yolth, the great stores that Kolsir had gathered for Hod had been stolen by Yolth; causing the fury of Kolsir to begin with. Every winter, Kolsir would gather his children and their food together in celebration with Hod's return, before sleeping as Hod blanketed the land, granting them protection from the winter in return. Kolsir's relationship with Faye has also been explained in several tales. As part of the spirit that was once Kryfta and Faye, Faye enjoyed much of Kolsir's presence even after their divide. In her slumber, Kol and Sir's children protected Faye as she recovered after Kryfta was robbed into Yolth's realm.
Leka, Spirit of Guile and PoisonEdit
Leka the great snake is a serpentine spirit that is associated with the aspects of guile, cunning and poison. Personified as an extremely large snake, Leka takes her form within the spiritual realm, her great body usually appearing in tales only half way, the rest of her resting within the spiritual realm. From Leka's great fangs, the greatest of venom can be found; an overpowering force that would kill any in a matter of moments. It comes from Leka that man learned the ways of poison weaving, linked into her being the absolute source of all venom.
Leka's tales usually revolve around her cunning and guile, being a bartering spirit who works towards her own angles and that of her children. One of the most famous tales is that of Faralani and Leka's great pact, which created the Wind Serpents. As the tales go, one of Faralani's favored consorts had been poisoned by way of Yolth's servants, having ambushed and struck him as he patrolled one of the forests of Azeroth. As the avian lay dying, Faralani did all she could to ease his suffering, searching far and wide for the cure of this great poison Yolth had procured, something that could potentially kill far more than just her beloved consort. Only after expending herself and her children did she give way, beseeching the great snake. To ask something of Leka was to open one's self to a deal, for the great snake was ever neutral and shrewd. Ever working to her own personal gain, as such, this was no different. As the great falcon laid low before the snake, Leka granted Faralani a single child of hers, a frilled snake. She told the falcon to bless it with the power of storms and wind, and in exchange, Leka would grant the falcon, her children, and her consort immunity to this mysterious poison. And so the pact was made, with the first Wind Serpent being born. Magnified by Leka's power, this demi-god serpent became Leka's greatest child; Harak. From Harak, the wind serpents were born in droves, taking their place among Leka's warren. With Faralani's deal made, Leka excreted some of her great venom for Faralani to deliver to Hyroth's owls, for them to create an anti-venom out of.
Little did the Falcon know, it was by Leka's hand that Yolth gained access to this poison. Even in his madness, Yolth knew better than to attack the great Snake in her home. To do so was to invite a pox or plague like no other, as the matron of disease and poison was known to be vengeful. Instead, he kept himself humble before the spirit as he had in ages past, refraining from his trickery in exchange for her power. Beseeching Leka, he requested some of her great venom for his quest and was rebuffed. Outraged, Yolth questioned the great snake for why she would deny a deal, as she had never done so before. Leka's explanation was simple, that her poison was far too great in any other's hands. Instead, she granted Yolth with a weaker, albeit still strong, poison in exchange for a touch of Yolth's services. Working under someone else, Yolth attacked Galane as she slumbered, sapping some of her strength to deliver to Leka; the power of shaded stealth. As such, when Yolth returned with this power and granted it unto Leka, she did so grant Yolth his poison. The twisted spirit cheered in glee, though Leka warned him clearly. By no means had she allied with him exclusively, and there was to be no attempt of repercussion should his plans fail. So deep was Yolth's fear of Leka, when he'd found that his poison was countered and saw the new winged serpents take to the sky; he brooded in silence for the first time. For Leka, every deal and barter is just another victory for her realm, for she, the matron of cunning, would always get the better deal.
Followers of Leka often pray to her for good fortune and luck, giving to her shrines bountiful offerings. In this way, they make a pact with her to gain. Others pray to Leka for protection from disease and poison, doing much the same to her shrines. Ever the shrewd matron, it is said if one is not blessed, their offering was not enough for their request to be granted. Leka's followers are primarily known to be very roguish in nature, deep-cunning men and women whose weapons lay in their tongues and poison dipped knives rather than armor and magic. It is known that magic associated with poison and venom are directly calling upon the snake goddess, with some who utilize this and sneaking seen as some of her most devout. There are not many festivals or rituals associated with Leka, as is personified as one not for fanciful ceremony. A creature of business and objective, she has little time for frivolous matters.
Fertility and Birth Edit
Rites of fertility and birth are common amongst pagans; they pay respect to the act of creating life to sustain peoples and traditions. To some, rites of fertility help feel others feel young, while others actually use them for their designed purpose.
For women, their fertility rites begin in the spring with Noblegarden. Women looking to have children will go out into fields and sow the harvest. They will plant seeds for herbs, flowers, and crops for Faye and pray for her blessing as they scatter the seeds into the earth. Men who wish to be supportive of their partners can pluck flowers from the earth and offer them as gifts; in turn, the woman will offer this as a personal, private sacrifice to Faye in exchange for fertility.
A man’s fertility rites come with Midsummer and praise of Sayat. Since the Spirit of Summer, Fires, and the Sun is burning at his hottest at this time, all pagans who worship him gather to praise and admire his strength and light that allows crops to grow. Poles are erected, symbolic of the male power, and ribbons of red, orange, and yellow are tied at the top for festival-goers to dance around. Finally, bonfires are built to pay homage to Sayat, and men may wish that he grant them strength and virility.
Finally, it is customary for women who are pregnant, and want a healthy pregnancy, to pray to Galane for her blessing and guidance throughout the journey.
Rites of Passage Edit
Rites of Initiation Edit
Rites of Initiation vary depending on the deity chosen to follow. However before one can be initiated, a period of study must carried out by the person seeking, supervised by a mentor, and then their knowledge is put to trial. Keepers undergo more hardier trials than those who just want to be a part of the faith: not only is their knowledge tested, but their devotion as well. A Keeper of Hod, for example, may have to brave the cold to obtain an artifact precious to the current Keepers. Average devotees will not have to do something of the same calibur, rather, they may have to help conduct a ritual important to those that worship Hod above the others. Devotees of Hyroth may assist in copying texts and scripts for their peers.
Once knowledge is tested and their devotion affirmed, a ceremony will be conducted to induct the person into the Old Ways. Those born into the Old Ways may not have to have an initiation, rather, their initiation will be included in their rite of passage.
Handfasting is a pagan's rite of matrimony. Anyone who is a long-practicing pagan and has studied sacred rites (usually more than a few years) can perform a handfasting between two consenting adults. This ceremony can be private, or it can include a form of audience participation.
The officiant chosen will have a rope, cord, or a ribbon ready for the couple and will begin with a prayer, channeling energies into the medium and asking Galane and Sayat to be with the couple throughout the ceremony. The reason it is Galane and Sayat is because they are eternally devoted lovers to one another, and couples pray to these spirits jointly in order to help guide their lives together post marriage.
Once this has been done, vows can be given, and the officiant will help tie the cord around the couple's arms. Each member of the audience may come up and give a blessing to the couple and tie a knot. This technique can be improvised so the couple gives a statement of their vows and help each other complete a knot until all their vows have been said.
Finally, the now-husband and wife remove their arms from the ribbon without cutting it, and take it to a special place in their home to keep it and remind them of the commitment that they made to one another.
This ceremony can be changed and adapted in many ways for a couple's tastes, beliefs, culture, and wishes, and much can be added to it to make the ceremony a meaningful experience.