The Manifest Path/Rituals
- 1 Birth
- 2 Funerals
- 3 Marriage
- 4 Seasonal Festivals
- 5 Ceremonies of War
- 6 Rites of Passage
- 7 Oath Taking
- 8 Still Needed
Ritual of Birth:
The Ritual of birth for an individual newborn is decided upon the season which he or she is born. Known as the four blessings, each season symbolizes the overall directive of society, respectively. If born during the equinox of a season, one is considered to contain the most pure and true of blessings. Alternatively, if born on the first days, one shares traits from the previous season, and on the last days, the next season; effectively creating a hybrid spirit.
The blessings are as follows:
Claret/ The Blessing of Winter:
Warriors, heroes, fighters, and brawlers, those who never turn from battle, are born in the harsh and brutalizing winters. They are labeled 'clarets', for each desire to spill blood upon white snow, and revel in the victory over their enemies. Newborns are raised to be stalwart, muscular, and fearsome; with scars running along their bodies. They are blessed with the warrior's spirit, and are short tempered when their honor is challenged.
For a successful warrior's birth, the mother must hand her newborn with haste, having it brought to the nearest temple or shrine. Warriors, militia or knightly, shall encircle the baby, kneel, and present their swords downwards. The father, is responsible for ceremony, and if absent, the priest of the temple shall take his place. He is to proceed by cutting his arm or hand, and mark the newborn's forehead with his blood, reciting the passage of the war-born,
"We are the cold, and the hungry,
We yearn for blood, and starve for battle,
Pity those who stand before us,
As they share the destiny of mere cattle,
Our swords forever strike true,
Our courage never falters,
Let it be known to all who battle,
Another is born to our altar. "
A collective battle cry is heard by each warrior in the circle, followed by a long and silent pause to end the ceremony.
Pluvial/ The Blessing of Spring:
The revitalization of nature, life, and society, are in the hands of the 'pluvial'. Those born under the pluvial blessing are bestowed the will to reconstruct, peace-keep, and remain loyal to family and kingdom. They are both intelligent, and perceptive, adapting their personalities to those around them; calming even the most agitated of Fevers, or the most enraged of Clarets. Successful ambassadors, diplomats, and scholars are of pluvial nature, and tend to forsake glory for the well-being of others; blessed with the spirit of humanity.
Once delivered to a temple, a newborn is set in a basket of flowers and herbs, greeted by the community, noble or commoner. Attendees are to circle the baby, and begin with passage, collectively.
"With blood comes sacrifice, and war comes suffering. Bear us the newborn to rid us of pain; to bring back our humanity in times of survival and desperation. He who sows the seeds of revival and creates the path before us, forever shall your light be seen. Our brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers; let them rejoice under it, and begin the revitalization of our spirits. "
All attendees are to bundle together, caressing the pluvial infant.
Fever/ The Blessing of Summer:
Haughty are the 'Fevers' of the path, having a keen loyalty to their individual beliefs; making them fiery and imposing. Those who 'believe' and those who 'think', are distinct in nature to a Fever, who understands the latter need enlightenment, and the former need persuasion. Priests and missionaries of the path, of the most fond adherence, are commonly Fevers, and dictate the path for all to follow. Passion, is a main theme amongst Fevers, for example: warriors demonstrate anger or sacrifice, lovers may desire lust over relationship, and judges might prefer justice over mercy. Furthermore, many great philosophers are also Fevers, maintaining a drive in their theories, even in the face of adversity.
A newborn with a hybrid blessing of Fever and Temper must be given careful attention, for some of the same origin become assassins and revolutionaries; one with selfish loyalty, controlled motive, and leadership capabilities. This is of course, only a general assumption, for hybrids can be the majority Temper, and be driven by Fever-like attributes such as: revenge, justice, sacrifice, or brutality. They may also be considered a blessing, as they have both the drive and the capacity to lead. The vast majority of high nobility confine to this paradigm.
In the temple, a summer blessed newborn will prove to be loud and agitated. The family and collective of priests assemble for ceremony. The reason for an increased presence of priests, is the potential of a ill-Fever-Temper hybrid, which most, but not all, families wish against. A priest holds the newborn, surrounded by a circle of additional priests, and commences the passages.
"Walk our path, the path of enlightenment. Bring upon those who doubt - certainty, and those who blaspheme - reason. With your words and actions, the world will see our truth, and manifest themselves to the path. May you love with meaning, and fight with passion."
As the priest, found at the epicenter, raises the child in the air, the circle responds, "So let it be."
Temper/ The Blessing of Autumn:
Spearheading humanity's charge into winter, Tempers are calm, concentrated, wise, and natural leaders in society and on the battlefield. Rulers, council members, and influential military figures are commonly Tempers, understanding the truth of all things beyond the daily routines of life. Mediation between kin, and functionality as whole, or an individual, are key attributes to a successful Temper. Elders of the path also tend to be tempers, though slightly influenced by Fever traits. Like Autumn, Tempers symbolize the calm and patience before winter, and once arrived, demonstrate concentration in dire situations. A Temper's ceremony is of importance, and celebration. Much of the populace, commoners in particular, are in need of direction, guidance, and leadership in order to function and survive during everyday situations. Though much alike to a Claret's ceremony, the mother is required to proceed with passage; even in delicate situation. Warriors, Family, Community, and Priests, respectively, encircle the mother and newborn, kneeling, and commence their passage.
"Newborn of Temper, guide us, for those of us present will follow you, and adhere to your will. Serenity be example to all you meet, and leadership drive those to accomplish and succeed. Be the hand that guides the sword, the force behind the wind, and the guiding light in the shadow."
A silence follows, while warriors unsheathe their swords, and present them to the newborn, holding both blade and hilt in hand. This symbolizes both service and reverence to the Temper, providing that one day the offer may be accepted. The ceremony ends when all swords are sheathed.
Those born in the initial, or final, week of a season are considered 'hybrids', and contain a broad arrangement of traits from two separate blessings. The first week brings upon a genesis from both the previous blessing, and the respective blessing of the current season. The second week, or equinox, gives birth to pure attributes, while the third takes upon the blessings of the following season.
Still to be written.
Note: The blessings represent tendencies, and not certainty; for a newborn Temper may contain a personality of a Pluvial. Albeit, such events are uncommon. Furthermore, it should be noted that one may 'prove' himself of another blessing; this being accomplished during the ritual to adulthood.
When a human dies, the body ought to be burned, so as to deny the mortal vessel to the foul undead. The full ceremony should be performed whenever possible, and involves laying out the corpse at the nearest temple or shrine with something representing their highest achievement, what they are most proud of, and a shield. The first is to show what aspect of their soul was improved the most during their life, and the second represents the guardian their soul has become. Once the pyre is lit, a time should be set aside so that those who knew the deceased best can speak as to the deceased's virtues, and try to identify where or what in the temple or shrine has taken up the soul. This should take no less time than the pyre takes to properly burn, so that all may ensure that nothing remains for the foul undead to pervert.
Often enough, alas, the burning must be a hurried affair but is very important for it weakens one of our foes. Most commonly, this haste arises after battles. In such a case, the bodies should be prepared with sword and shield to signify that they gave their life defending the Path and will now guard it, and a banner should be set near the pyre. Once it has burned out, the banner should be carefully stowed and taken to a temple to be added to the collection for the honoured dead, in the hope that the souls of those who fell will take to the banner and thus join the temple defenses.
The Ritual of Marriage, according to the Manifest Path, is the advancement of humanity in forms of creation and love. Being the most prominent trait within humans, love is represented in the union of two souls; it strengthens, fortifies, and expands the capabilities of both involved; figuratively ushering one advanced entity. Additionally beneficial, in the union of nobles, is the absolute certainty of lineage, and uncontested parentage of children.
Premises of Marriage:
Nobles: The ritual must occur within the Royal Palace of the groom's realm, under witness of the King, and the Magistrate of said realm; all uncertainty must be eliminated with recognition from both State and Church, to guarantee the union of superior blood.
It should be noted that monarchs or judges are not required to adhere to the Path, and their representation is purely of the state. When a noble is married, such a recognition is required to authenticate the union.
Peasantry: A temple, within any region where the Manifest Path has established, is the location of passage for peasantry and lower caste; where their souls may be guided and unionized without corruption or fault. A witness is required from each participant, and must be sworn on pain of death. Procedure of Marriage:
The Manifest Path favors the will of a female, as stated in the chapter of fertility, for she is the creator of humans, whose primary role is the raising of her child. As such, the female is required to propose, traditionally, to the male she desires. Alternatively, its commonplace for a female to select a suitor who can provide superior traits unto a child, without a prior relationship.
Requisition of Priest
Nobles: An elder must be present to cite the proper ceremonial passages in the union of superior blood; the elder may also be either one of two witnesses (The King or Magistrate.)
Lower Caste: A member of the Path must be present to cite the proper ceremonial passages for any and all lower caste marriages.
Attendees will be seated in a forum-like manner, forming a semi circle around the bride and groom. Witnesses will be seated equally on both sides of the couple. By being at a lower head level, the witnesses are adhering to the divine union of the couple ((i.e: In a nobleman's wedding, the couple would be facing the priest, the King would be seated to the couple's right, the Magistrate to their left. ))
Nobles: The bride is dressed in a silk gown of choice, representing true nobility; choosing color, lining, trim, fitting, accessories, etc.. She must accompany her gown with a laurel wreath as symbolism of verity and perseverance.
The groom is dressed in a ceremonial outfit or robe, and may also chose several accessories. Albeit, a groom is required to wear a sheathed sword; an image of strength and honor, but also patience and intelligence.
Lower Caste: A formal gown for the bride, formal wear for the groom, would be sufficient, alongside the required wreath and sword.
Once all have settled, a distinct entry call, sounded by trumpets, ushers the witnesses to the stand, where sworn in by a priest; if a witness is the designated priest, he must only swear in the other witness. The oath is as follows, dictated by the priest, and repeated by the witness, "I, title and name, profess myself as witness to marriage, upon which, I adhere to the union of both bride and groom. If I were to retract, withdraw, or falsify, in any fashion, the truth of my involvement, then through pain of law, my head shall be placed on the tallest of pikes, for all to see the foolishness of my actions."
Upon completion of oath, a second trumpet call is sounded, signaling entry of the groom through the left forum isle. At the stand, the groom must turn and face the attendees, unsheathe his sword, and present it, tall, to onlookers. Considered the most crucial time during the procession, the dance of doubt grants any male or female, from the audience, the opportunity to challenge the groom's decision to accept by rising, and presenting their sword, respectively. The groom, having his wedding infringed upon, is granted the right to declare terms; a duel to the surrender, or death. If the challenger is successful, the marriage is annulled under absence of honor or life. If unsuccessful, the challenger is either escorted, or taken, away from the location.
Under absence of challenge, or victory, the groom sheathes his sword, and returns his attention to the priest. A third trumpet call is sounded, and the bride enters the right forum isle. When the couple is united at the stand, the priest begins the required passages:
"All walkers who follow the path,
Understand the manifestation of order,
Order is between government and anarchy,
From civilization to chaos,
Those who fight with the mind,
Who envision with the heart,
Who walk the lands of Dwilight,
Hear our calling,
Fight the inhuman hordes at our gates,
For the eternal crusade has been called!"
A silence follows, and the priest continues.
"In adherence to the tenets of marriage, title and name of bride, is hereby bound to conceive child within the next four seasons. Failure of this task results in annulement, though given right to appeal. Does, title and name of bride , accept the contract of union?"
If denied, the marriage is canceled, and if accepted, the priest continues.
"With my right, I grant thee official union, and through the seal of a kiss, forever shall your souls live together in love and benevolence."
Couple kisses, trumpets initiate their final call, declaring the success of marriage, and the couple then leaves through the center isle of the forum.
Note: Honeymoon traditions are to the accordance of the wedded couple's houses, and shall not be dictated by the Path.
The Pluvial Day / The Spring Festival
On the first of spring, we celebrate our new peace and victory over the abominations. To prove our solidarity, no true member of the Path may draw a blade against another man. The most pious of walkers would not even draw a blade on this hallowed day in self defence, or even war. We have proven our worth against the abominations, and we should not tear that victory asunder with human bloodshed.
Not only does this solidify our victory, but it celebrates the Pluvial nature; their hard work, calmness, and skill for peacekeeping.
In addition, massive feasts are held, consuming the remainder of winter's storage. Dancing, drinking, and all other celebrations are commonplace in the streets, and those able to attend the greater splendour the capital can afford do not take hesitation in doing so. Those who take the travel are heavily rewarded, for at dawn and dusk, the sky is lit up with magnificent fireworks, symbolizing light's triumph over the dark.
Finally, on the very last minute of the day, at the height of the celebrations, the lord of a region (or the highest-ranking person in their absence), flips a coin. Should it land with the head facing up, it will promise a bountiful harvest, and a prosperous season. A King usually flips a coin as well, in a grand ceremony at the palace balconies, which promises the future of the Kingdom as a whole. Additionally, each village elder also throws a coin, as well as the patriarch of each family, in hopes of community or family fortune, respectively.
These coins are usually quite saught after, and are regarded as lucky charms. A king, or duke's tossed coin, can usually fetch quite a sum on the markets, though the thrower would normally bestow the coin on a friend or loved one. Many soldiers are also known to carry a coin from their village elder, to guide them safely through the war.
Ceremonies of War
Obviously, armies may only have a little time to spare from necessary preparations, and thus pre-battle rituals are by nature short. The first is that each soldier should spread a bit of their blood on their banner, to establish a link in case they fall in battle so that their souls may find their way more easily to the banner and be carried back to a temple. By the same token, all efforts should be made to retrieve the fabric of banners that fall in battle so that the souls of the dead may be brought to strengthen the defenses of the temple.
Priests, if present, should take of their blood to paint each soldier or, if there are too many, each captain and troop leader and provide some of their strength to guard the troops in the coming fight. If time allows a short sermon to bolster morale should be offered.
There are two paths here, one in the case of victory, and one in the case of defeat.
If victorious, banners should be recovered and records updated on those who died. The banners should be dipped into the blood of the dead of their unit, and then packed away for transport to a temple. The pyre must of course be prepared, the surviving troops tended to. Those lightly or unwounded should gift some of their blood to their wounded comrades to help protect them, and Priests should do likewise. If those fought were abominations, their fetid corpses should be burned as well to prevent them from being reassembled or fouling the land. If those fought were humans, the broken banners and bodies of their fallen should be returned unless they are of an evil faith, in which case the bodies should be burned along with the banners to keep the bodies from the abominations and hopefully stop their souls from returning to guard the worship of evil.
If defeated, heralds should be sent to honorable foes requesting the right to gather banners and the dead for the above rituals. If fighting foul foes, be they abominations or their servant humans, then raids by brave souls should be undertaken to recover as many banners and bodies as possible. If some must be left behind, then efforts must be made to take the field at a later date and recover banners and see that the bodies are burnt. If the banners are taken as trophies, these must be pursued even at great cost, as the very souls of Walkers are at stake. Recovering all lost banners should be a primary point in peace negotiations.
Rites of Passage
From Adolescence to Adulthood
There are two parts to this rite. The first is that during their sixteenth year, young men and women must leave their homes, taking only a walking stick, a blade, a small purse appropriate to their status, and a day's worth of food. They must travel to a land different from their home, city folk to farmlands, farmers to the towns and cities, etc, taking whatever work they must along the way to pay for their lodging and meals. Upon reaching this new land, they must take service at the temple working on its behalf in whatever capacity is called for in order to learn how lands other than their own are run. This will continue until the temple elders declare that the youth is ready to return, and shall last no less than one and no more than three seasons. This symbolizes the inherent selfishness of childhood by sending the adolescent out with only the barest tools and requiring that they fend for themselves during their travels as well as the growing understanding of responsibility in learning of other lands, widening the horizons of a child coming to adulthood. The adolescent then returns home, bearing the fruits of their labours to their community.
Upon returning, all the adults of the community gather together, and a cut is made on the left wrist of the adolescent. Each adult then shares a bit of their own blood in order to transfer some of their essence, representing the final bonds of mutual responsibility that signify adulthood. The new adult's name is recorded by the temple, and a new adult Walker of the Path is born.
After this, the blade, walking stick, and whatever rewards were granted for service during this rite are granted to the community in exchange for the tools of the appropriate trade, or the traveler's kit for those who will be departing.
The Oath of Fealty
The vassal kneels before his liege-lord, places his left hand before his heart, presents his sword to his liege, and declares a vow, similar to the following: "I promise, in the name of the Path and of all Mankind, to be forever faithful to my lord, to render any services he requires, to never do deceit unto him, to die if he so commands it, and to live as he permits it. I am to follow this vow until such time as I am relinquished from duty. I also swear (in absence, if necessary) the same onto my Sovereign, the King." His own choice of words, as well as any additional clauses or oaths, may be used.
In response, his liege-lord declares to the following effect: "I swear to do good to your wellbeing to the best of my abilities, to provide for your estate, to not demand sacrifice unless it is necessary, and to grant a pension to your family upon your death."
He then lightly slaps his vassal with either a glove or his bare hand, or taps his shoulders with the flat of the knight's own blade, and states, "These are the first and last blows you will take as a knight without swearing vegeance, and the last insult to your honour you will sustain without a response in kind." Again, anything to that effect is enough.
The ceremony is thus complete, with the bond between vassal and liege solidified.
The Oath of Heroism
A hero is one who has dedicated his life to war, and will almost assuredly die in battle. A hero may not leave his path, as he is sworn to fight until he dies. This ritual embodies these traits. It is also a hard ritual to overcome; the path of the hero is not for the meek, and the ritual must be dangerous to reflect the life they will lead thereafter. A hero's test only ends at his death.
First, the hero must show his commitment to humanity, and all which it stands for. He will fill a vial with blood for each temple of the path currently in existence, and send them via holy courier (if possible, a religious pilgrim) to each temple of the path. The local priest will then spill a few drops of the blood over the region. Not only does this bless a region with a hero's holy soul, but it also proves that a hero swears by his blood to defend the Path, and every part of the path, onto death. The blood must all be taken in a very small period of time, and he must send a large portion (relative to the hero's stature) of blood to each temple. He must prove himself to have a strong soul, and to prove that he can withstand injury, pain, and suffering.
Second, he must make his vows to a host of witnesses, to prove that he is sworn to his Path, and may never return. Normally, taking the vow before the King and his court would be preferrable, but taking the vows before the hero's liege-lord, to an Elder of the path or the Magistrate is also acceptable. The vows must be taken in person, and cannot be sent by letter or with the main witness in absentia. The vows may be anything the hero wishes- his reasons for his devotion are his own. It is only required that he swear to fight by his own hand, to never stray from his path, and to die at the hands of another if his sovereign, his realm, his liege or his Path demands his sacrifice. Other vows can be added at the hero's discretion, but these are purely of his choice. After this point, the noble is a sworn hero of the path.
Third and last, a hero makes his first battle. He must lead the first charge into battle, and must be at the head of the charge. This final act tests his faith, courage, and valor. If he survives the charge, he must return with the head of the first foe vanquished by his hand, as a hero. An engraver will take the head, and inscribe its personage into a slab of marble. This sculpture is then given into the hero's possession, and he must keep it in his possession for the rest of his life, to remind him of his own mortality, and to give honor to the vanquished. At the hero's death, the marble slab is placed upon his pyre as it burns, and is then recovered and placed before his grave. Only after a hero's death in combat has he proven his true commitment, and is revered as a true hero of the path.
Rituals for marriage; birth and birthday celebrations; pre-battle preparations; post-battle affairs; recognition of when a child becomes an adolescent; recognition of when an adolescent becomes an adult; recognition of when an adult becomes an elder; spring festivals welcoming the new year; autumn festivals welcoming the harvest; winter festivals to show our defiance of the dark; summer festivals to show our joy at life; oath-taking; fealty swearing (both by the vassal and liege); acceptance of lordships, Marshalships, Council positions, and especially Rulerships; taking up a new walk of life as Courtier, Priest, Warrior, Trader, Infiltrator, Hero, Cavalier, Diplomat, and Mentor; and the taking of a new region from the wild-lands.