A Treatise on the Priesthood
by Cliona Malkier in Dark Ages
The first path out of the world of the mundane was the priesthood. Lacking then the magic, which we now know, priests of the past turned their efforts to prayer towards the gods of Kadath, to the remaining members of the Aosda civilization. Those lost in prayer to this great civilization to the North went mad, unable to heal themselves through the invocation of light, through the favor of gods and goddesses without whom even we, Aislings of the age of Atavism, would be unable to continue without.
Priests were lost to the North, to madness and suffering the likes of which did not befall the Path again until the War of Shadows, the final battles of Danaan and Chadul. It may not be unthinkable to suggest that perhaps madness was a result of an effort to please all gods, ignoring the balances of power between them, ignoring all things which hold them in alliance or force them apart. I propose that perhaps if one's efforts towards the resting-place of the gods is focused upon one particular deity, that we may be looked upon with favor, cast pleasantly into the eyes of the Light.
Fiosachd guides those of the rogue's path; those cast from society, as he himself was cast out of Aosda. Sometimes deceptive, other times silent, he wanders the lands in search of someone whom he may deceive or from whom he may gain wealth. It is in this way which he calls the rogues to his alliance, feeding greedy dreams of wealth and self-defined power. He grants his followers with their agility, their skill and cunning, those things that are essential to one, should they seek to improve their financial situation.
Gramail casts his judgement upon Aislings, bringing them justice, using the powers of his age, learnt over the aeons in Aosda, to bring ages of insight into the nature of humanity to play, to understand the situations of judgement and to dispense it fairly and without bias, treating rogues and priests the same in the eyes of the light. He grants those without defense fairly from the dubhaimid, the scales of his justice always evenly balanced.
Cail, love-child of Ceannlaidir and Glioca herself, aids priests in their healing powers, turning the tide of nature to favor our healing, giving us all that we require, all that nature is able to do to aid us. Strong and silent, ever peaceful, Cail holds us close to the earth, the art of arms long lost, gentle in his ways. His father, Ceannlaidir, the god of war, watches over every battle, and, I believe, over every priest of the Hunt, giving her the strength, at times, to defend herself by fist and dagger, to fight the dubhaimid which seek her as well.
Deoch, for whom our calendar is named, continues the work of Danaan, his lover, and it is ultimately he who brought us light, the creation without which priests would not exist.
Perhaps I assume too much at this moment. I assume that all followers of the Path seek the Light. This is not always true. The Priesthood is a Path to which many Aislings are called, second only to the Wizards, dazzling young, bright-eyed Aislings with spells of whirlwinds and ground shattering explosions and water tearing a dubhaimid nearly into bits. It is perfectly conceivable that naïve Aislings coming from the life of a world-weary mundane may be lured into the realm of Sgrios, invited to join him in his Dark Ways, called to suffer eternally with him in the name of something I can't begin to call faith.
But I speak in biased terms now. I am a priestess of the light. I serve Glioca under the watchful eyes of Luathas, guardian of the lost and tormented, those seeking knowledge in words and writing, in the scriptures of the divine prophets, those of Hy-Brasyl, consorting with the gods and goddesses, sure of the role of nature. The nature of Light itself is found within these texts, these words in ancient languages telling of dies riae, dies illa, solvet saeclum in favilla, ancient words, a tongue only learnt through careful study and those long hours of referencing and cross-referencing texts, surrounded by books, forgetting for days to sleep, to eat, to dream, with nothing else mattering but seeking the knowledge of the world. I serve under Luathas, god of gnosis, divine knowledge.
Others serve under the priestly gods, Cail, Deoch, Gramail, or directly under Glioca herself, goddess of compassion, love, gentleness, a god whom I find myself almost unworthy to grace with my supplication. Her representation stands upon the altar in the Church of Our Lady of the Light, a wooden ikon of simple form, a cross of sorts, one wooden beam laid across another. The simple representation of love overlaid with compassion, gentleness, with no inner opening, as in a circle or star, within which hate or evil may become entangled. Also, perhaps, this is the form of a human being, crudely formed by earlier mundanes, the giving posture of a man or woman, arms outstretched with love, acceptance.
The stories of the gods and goddesses are well known, spread in words and pictures by Bertil, fae princess and guide to Aisling priests. They hold alliances among the gods, as well as holding enemies. Sgrios, enemy of Deoch, Luathas, enemy of Gramail. This is all well-known by learned Aisling priests, but perhaps not to the youngest of our Path, the smallest journeying from the life of a mundane, those seeking to serve Light and avoid shadow. It is now that I beg of you, for the sake of all priests and priestesses, as well as for the life of all Aislings throughout Temuair, land of the Earth-Sea, that you spread this knowledge to the youngest of us, tell them what you have heard here, the merits to following the light, to avoiding the realm of Sgrios, and saving others from the same fate.