Ehestra

NEUTRAL Goddess of Woodlands and Fields (Fecundity).

Beliefs

This Goddess is the classic personification of nature, natural forces, renewal of the seasons, fecundity etc.–all the things which make up the great Cycle of Life.

Ehestra is probably the most diversely and widely worshipped deity in the Crescent Lands. She is worshipped by spouses wishing for healthy offspring, farmers for good crops, and sailors for quiet seas and a steady breeze. Like the forces She personifies, Ehestra has the gentler aspects of nurturing, fertility, and patience as well as the wrath of a sudden winter storm, the strength of roots digging for purchase in stone, and the tenacity of flowing water wearing down the hardest stone.

Ehestrans work equally well with worshippers of LAW and CHAOS.

Since nature is the provenance of this religion, worshippers tend to care more carefully for the environment than most of their fellows, since it pleases the Goddess and reinforces their power. For, wherever nature holds dominion so does Ehestra.

Temples

Worship of Ehestra is mostly confined to small shrines and temples. It is rare to find a road without a shrine to Ehestra, an inn without Her image above the door, or a farm without a small brazier burning herbs pleasing to Her. The one exception to Her temples being found in lonely locations is the large, central temple in Aereolus City. Also, outside of Ma Cab (about a half days ride) is another major temple to Her.

Followers

Unlike most religions, a person can be a lay member of Ehestra and an initiate of another religion. Few religions do not allow this, except for such cults as Clovis, Sarnethra, Boriam, Thoem, and Nihil. Lay membership is easily attained by worshipping at shrines and making small sacrifices of burnt incense, dried petals, foods and other offerings pleasing to Her.

Lay and initiate members get +10% chance of improving all nature/healing related skills (Animal Lore, Plant Lore, First Aid, Fishing, Hunting, Tracking, Trap) regardless of where they are taught.

To become an initiate of Ehestra one must first choose one of Her Aspects to worship. There are four Aspects of Ehestra:

T'ohm La'l (The Infant)–representing growth, youth, beauty, and renewal.

Arg'Nt (The Amazon)–representing strength, endurance, wrath, and courage.

F'lo Una (The Matron)–representing wisdom, knowledge, nurturing, and patience.

Cha Cro (The Crone)–representing longevity, decay, experience and death.

The Aspects of Ehestra represent Her dichotomous personality. Since nature has many faces, many actions, many moods, to properly reflect this Ehestra must be equally faceted. Basic generalizations may be made about those who choose to worship at the altars of Her respective Aspects:

• The Infant is worshipped by artists, artisans, courtesans, pregnant women, and farmers.
• Worshippers of the Amazon are healers, warriors, masons and athletes.
• Parents with children, scholars, hunters, and rulers worship the Matron.
• The Crone is worshipped by the elderly, sages, mages, weavers.

The symbol of Ehestra is always of wood (initiates tend to have their symbols made out of more expensive types) and is carved with the stylized image of the World Tree (whose roots cradle the Abyss and whose branches brush the Heavenly Vault). Her colors tend to be browns, tans, greys, and green. The cult stone is jade. In the more expensive holy symbols, carved jade is inset as the leaves of the World Tree.

Worshippers of the Infant tend to wear clothing dyed light green, while those of the Amazon wear red and white, Matron initiates wear browns and rich umbers, and those who understand the Crone wear dark browns, black, and ivory white.

To become an initiate of Ehestra, one must first pledge to one of the Aspects and wear that Aspect's symbol. The Aspect's representation is always superimposed over the trunk of the World Tree on the symbol of the undivided Goddess. The symbol of the Infant is a yew seedling. The Amazon is represented by a crouching hawk, while the Matron is symbolized by a cat being suckled. Finally, the Crone's icon is a lightning struck World Tree. To be accepted as an initiate of any of the Aspects, the person's temperament must be judge suitable and she must have served the undivided Goddess in a meaningful matter.

Unlike most religions where there are very clear traditions and rules on what deeds or acts are necessary for initiate status, because of the encompassing nature of this religion, this is not so for Ehestra. All that may be definitely said is that the deed or deeds, acts or actions must serve to increase or spread the influence of Ehestra and Her minions.

It is not surprising that, since She is a unity of the diverse representations of nature, initiates of the various Aspects receive varied benefits.

All initiates receive training in Swim, Animal Lore, and Plant Lore (+33%).

Infants:

Those who worship the Infant will receive training in the spell Speak with Animals (1/1), Entangle (2/2) and Calm (1/3), and those who receive Miracles receive SwA as a 1st level miracle, Entangle and Calm as a 2nd level Miracle. Also, the person may receive instruction in creative skills, such as drawing, weaving, tanning, potting, sculpting, wood working, First Aid, etc., at 50% of cost, +15% chance of success. Also, these people become imbued by the Goddess with an understanding of young animals, which make them fine animal trainers or a feeling for plants which make them good gardeners and farmers. Wild animals must save to attack an initiative (unless there are no other targets). Typically hostile natural animals (bears, wolves, etc.) will be less likely to bother a worshipper of this aspect or be bothered by them. Finally, worshippers are less affected by those agents which destroy youth, thus saving at +1 versus poison, disease, and drugs.

Amazon:

A person initiated into the mysteries of the Amazon will receive extensive training (at 50% of cost, +15% chance of success) in outdoor or fighting related skills (e.g., First Aid, Hunting, Swim, Tracking, Trap, Animal Lore, Plant Lore) and receive the skill Star Navigation at 33%. Further, the temple will teach the spell Heal at no cost. Also, because wood is the flesh of Ehestra and feathers are the symbol of Her breath, any fletched missile weapon used by an initiate of the Amazon has a +1 chance to hit and +1 to damage al. Finally, once per day an Amazon my imbue herself with the wildness of the nature; when this happens she may strike harder and faster. Chance is level x 14%. If successful, the Amazon is +5 initiative, +1 to damage. The worshipper must save versus Resistance on 4d6 or lose 25% of her evasion points after the combat.

Matron:

Worshippers of the Matron are given training in skills which are necessary for the raising and nurture of youth (e.g., First Aid, Listen, Animal Lore, Plant Lore, Bargain, Voice) at 50% of cost, +15% chance of success. Further, non mages will receive training in the spell Protection and mages will be given the miracle Cure Light Wounds as a 1/1 spell. Clerics will receive as first level spells Speak with Animals and Calm Animals, as second level spells Plant Growth and, at third level the Miracle Wall of Wood. Cleric-types also receive +1 per every die of a healing spell. Mage-types receive +1 to their healing spells. Worshippers will further receive training in identifying illness and treatment with herbal remedies (+30% 1st aid & ID plant). Lastly, animals will be disinclined to harm an initiate of the Matron.

Crone:

Because initiates of the Crone worship the aspect which is most closely associated with CHAOS, they are the least comfortable with worshippers of LAW or even the other three Aspects of Ehestra. Initiates receive training in History , Evaluate Treasure, Read, Write, Spot Hidden, Plant & Animal Lore (at 50% of cost, +15% chance of success). Those who cast miracles will receive (as a second level miracle) Age. This miracle causes the subject to feel the winds of time sweeping across his soul bringing such feelings of mortality that the target will flee. It affects 1 3 beings (intelligent or not). Spell casters will be trained in this 2/2 spell. Further, because initiates understand aging, death, and dissolution, they receive knowledge/training in the use (-1 on saving throws for the poisoned) of poisons (both plant and animal) and using herbal remedies (+33% 1st aid & Plant Lore). Because of their lack of fear about death and their familiarity with corruption they are rarely affect by fear spells, nauseating odors, choking vapors (+4 saving throw), etc. and are +2 to hit and damage on undead. Finally, recognizing the inevitability of death, the Crone forbids the raising of the dead.

Ehestran Holy Days:

MAJOR
May 3rd Vernal Equinox
June 10th Penultimate (The day before Lord T’lloluvin’s moon. Trying to reclaim the Big Sister from Lord T’lloluvin.)
June 22nd Summer Solstice
November 11th Autumnal Equinox
September 4th Ascension of the Mother Moon
December 22nd Winter Solstice
MINOR
January 1st New Years Day
14th of each month Sha'Tcho (middle of the Big Sister's cycle and mid point of menstruation in human women.)
October 28th Harvest Day (Celebration of the Autumnal Harvest)

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