The Selkie are Pagans, following a religion formally known as Selkie-Paganism by religious scientists,
Despite some other people's words, Selkie are pious people, taking their own Gods and the Gods of others very serious and rising to the defense of those, who's Gods were insulted. It is seen as very indecent and rude to insult another person's Gods or faith.
The Pantheon of the Selkie knows six main Gods and Goddesses:
- Rhiannon, Goddess of Horses and Fertility, with the Principal Temple in Fortham, heraldic animal being the horse.
- Carman Fea, Goddess of War and Science, with the Principal Temple in Ironcastle, heraldic animal being the Red-White Eagle.
- Abhcan, Goddess of Dance and Music, with the Principal Temple in Wembury, heraldic animal being the Little Black Fox.
- Gavida, God of Arts and Crafts, with the Principal Temple in Leuda, heraldic animal being the Tine.
- Lodan Lir, God of the Sea and the Rivers, with the Principal Temple in Cuan, heraldic animal being the Blue Mudskipper.
- Ladra, God of Helmsmen and Boatmen, with the Principal Temple in Silverport, heraldic animal being the Sea Weasel.
These Gods have specific roles and their cults are nearly everywhere, in every city and town, as well as in many villages, although those depend on whicb village exactly.
The SDF-Navy names their frigates, previously their light cruisers, after the six highest gods and goddesses, currently being the six frigates of the Rhiannon-II-class. These names have a long tradition in seafaring amongst the Selkie.
Other Gods and Goddesses
- Searc and Cion, the Lovers. Searc, Goddess of Love, is the goddess of love between lovers and of the more... bodily manifestation of love. Cion, God of Love, is the god of love between family members and close friends, including spouses.
- Tigernmas, God of the Miners, Diggers and Blacksmiths, has a heart of iron. His forge, Mount Bolcán in the Mainland, was lighted by a Tine.
- Coillteoiri, a group of minor deities associated with Gavida and forestry.
- Cailleach, one of the Weather Goddesses, specifically Goddess of Winter.
- Borvo, one of the Weather Gods, specifically God of Spring.
- Amaethon, one of the Weather Gods, specifically God of Summer.
- Taranis, one of the Weather Gods, specifically God of Autumn.
- Cailb, Goddess of Death, Destruction, Rebirth and Pudding, and Dian Cecht's Lover.
- Dian Cecht, God of Healing and Resurrection, and Cailb's Lover.
- Áillen the Burner, God of Fire and Harp-Playing, lives in Mag Mell.
- Luchta, God of Carpenters.
- Achall, an Earth Goddess.
- Aeval, a Guardian Spirit and Goddess.
- Áine, a Sun-Goddess.
- Badb, a War-Diety and associate of Carman Fea.
- Bebhion, Goddess and Wife of Lodan Lir, Ruler of the Mag Mell.
- Boann, River-Goddess, Girlfriend of Ladra.
- Munanna, a Bird-Goddess.
- Grainne, Goddess of Ancestry.
- Alisounos, a local vulpine mountain Deity of the Silver Mountains.
Places of Worship
Priests, Servants and Semi-Professionals
Besides the normal, general worshippers, nearly everyone can join the ranks of the God or Goddess of their choosing, either as a layperson, as a semi-professional or as a Priest or Priestess.
There are no slaves within the Free Lands, so someone being adressed as or adressing themselves as, for example, "Servant of Abhcan" isn't to be understood as literal servitude to a person or a cult.
Rather, Servants of the Gods are laymen and laywomen, who were recognized by their respective cult as such and as a level prior to actual priests. Most Servants of the Gods live in more rural areas after being taught in the cities. There, they give spiritual and actual guidance to the population in these areas, all under the leadership of the priest in the nearest temple.
Responsible for their leadership, and advice as many Servants are rather young, are Priors, usually Priests and Adepts, who took up either other occupations or married and are now housepeople. Their role is less control or command.
Druids are hermits, living on their lonesome or with a few handpicked followers, and comtemplating. They usually work by the ways of collecting herbs for medicine and other purposes, some even produce herbal skin lotions, which they sell to merchants or at the local markets. Many Children of the Great Woods are Druids. Druids, however, are bound by oath to not produce substances, which could endanger someone applying them correctly, or to produce substances amounting to recreational drugs (the formula words it a bit differently).
Priests are the standard run-of-the-mill priests we all know and love. After being trained first as Adepts, then as Arcane Adepts for a minimum of three years, the Priests are well trained professionals, who tend to the temples in cities and to sacred groves and other places of worship on the countryside. After years and years of service, and with tending to a major temple, a Priest becomes an Arcane Priest, who has a say in matters of the Cult and is allowed to elect, or be elected, as High Priest.
High Priests are the leaders of their cults and the only ones allowed to perform Spring Sacrafices,
Current High Priests and Priestesses are:
- Fiona Ardsagart of the Tribe of Antrim, High Priestess of Ladra.
- Lilianne Preab of the Tribe of Antrim, High Priestess of Abhcan.
- Aife Cuisle of the Tribe of Wicklow, High Priestess of Lodan Lir.
- Glynn Uisinn of the Tribe of Westmeath, High Priest of Carman Fea.
- Meave Broinn of the Tribe of Fermanagh, High Priestess of Gavida.
- Coner Banaí of the Tribe of Wicklow, High Priest of Rhiannon.
Amongst the Gods not belonging to the Six-Pantheon, the High Priestess of Cailb, Morgane Macánta of the Tribe of Cork has the highest position, the Cult of Cailb having taken the mantle of representing quite a few of the smaller cults.
The Envoys are a special case of Selkie-superstition. Myth and legend have it, that sometimes people enjoy the protection of a specific God or Goddess, who keeps them from harm, much like an envoy. Upon their return, they are usually tested and if they are proven worthy, they are heralded as the envoy of their respective god - more of a figurine (not a figurehead) then anything else, mostly subjected to the High Priest's will (especially true for children). The only current Envoy is Mona Beag of the Tribe of Louth, who is envoy of Lodan Lir.
During the 3rd and 4th Centuries, more and more women took up the occupation of being a warrior - as only relatively late, with High King Áed the Hunter, these women were officially accepted by the High King as warriors, they needed to search for another one to employ them and their talents. The Cults were happy to adopt their own armed forces, which they could use to guard their treasures, their possessions and their convoys, as well as hire out to others in need of such services - the Orders were born.
The Orders, or Eagar in Selkie, a term which can also be used to describe stability, as the Orders were indeed providers of stability in several regions without stability, were the military forces and representative forces of the Cults, usually female-only, first by need, then by tradition. They were never a force of their own, but provided valuable reinforcements whenever needed to whoever the High Priests thought worthy of it.
- The Lancemaidens of Rhiannon, established in 328.
- The Swordmaidens of Carman Fea, established in 325.
- The Daggermaidens of Abhcan, established in 330.
- The Axemaidens of Gavida, established in 333.
- The Arrowmaidens of Lodan Lir, established in 325.
- The Shieldmaidens of Ladra, established in 336.
Besides the assistance with word and deed, the Priests and Servants of the Gods perform a variety of sacred rites,
- See Main Article: Selkie and Marriage.
The Selkie prefer cremation over an earth burial. At the death of a person, a group of friends
Normal, everyday services are held every day in every temple, usually early in the morning, short ceremonies during week days, longer ones on more special occassions,
Selkie offer sacrafices to their Gods, either by the way of incense burning or, which is more widely used, by using the own time and money to help those less fortunate, for example poor people, or children in need of education in warzones, like the Cabhair Group does. Incense sticks are usually offered in every corner store and used in the sacred groves.
The Spring Sacrafice is the most important sacrafice of the year, a horse of good breed being offered to the Gods, as a token of gratitude for the good harvest of last year, as a 'bribe' for a good harvest that year. It is the only time in Selkie calendrical procedures, that a living being is offered. In relation to that, during a Spring Festival, the horse is offered over a bowl, the blood spilled then used by the ones coming of age that day to leave a fingerprint on a canvas, which is burned with the horse's corpse later.
- See Main Article: Calender of Festivals of the Selkie.
There are two important times for Festivals, namely the beginning of Spring being celebrated as the Spring Festival and the end of the harvest season with the Harvest Festivals. Other, smaller and more local festivals are held over the whole year and with gusto, many of them including the contests of the Marcach.
Study of The Ancient Gathering reveals, that in the 1st century BCE, the number of Gods in the Main Pantheon was reduced to nine. In addition to today's Six Pantheon, there was Calib, Goddess of Death, and Searc and Cion, the Lovers, being worshipped in a far larger and wider manner then today.
Myths and Legends
As the Gods, too, sought enjoyment every once in a while, they decided to have a drink or a few more one evening. Gavida gave the whiskey, Abhcan gave the Music and the ball got rolling. A few many bottles later, Achall threw in the idea of creating something again and started right away by providing a lump of clay, putting it between the stars.
The Weather Gods soon began to let their winds run over it, smoothing it in some places, creating breaks and canyons at others, Ladra and Lodan Lir filling the world with water. In this water, Boann and Bebhion put fish and other life, while Tigernmas created mountains, including those, which throw fire. Rhiannon, Searc and Cion gave life to the land, plants and animals. Áine, at some point, realized, that it was too dark and simply went up to create a light, where she is to this day.
The merry creating went on for as long as the whiskey lasted, which was a lot of time.
After the whiskey ran out and the inevitable hangover was done with, the Gods assembled in the First House, which Luchta had built at some point and, when looking around on what they had done, it was Rhiannon, who asked: "What did we drink last night?!"
- Arallfyd is the Other World, the mythical world, which is separated from our world. To enter Arallfyd before the own time comes requires Silver Branches (a term sometimes used to describe weapons). There are dozens of realms within Arallfyd, the most notable of which are:
- Mag Mell, the Plains of Joy, is a land on the other side of the horizon, where weary travelers can come to eternal rest. Lodan Lir rules there, in paradise and in peace.
- Mag Mór, the Large Plain, is the Realm of Rhiannon, a wide plain with lush grass, clean rivers, soft breezes and eternal sunshine. Marcach of old and not-so-old times hoped to come to eternal rest there. The Halls of Heroes are here.
- Lochlann, the Land of Seas, is the mythical home of the Selkie, from where they came. When they were stranded on what today is the Free Lands, Lochlann was quickly forgotten.
- Tír Tairngiri, the Promised Land, was the land the mythical ancestors of the Selkie tried to get to before they stranded at the shores of the Free Lands. Some people think, that Tír Tairngiri were the Free Lands from the very beginning.
- Oilean na mBeo, the Land of the Living, are the Free Lands, which are (evidentally) not so mythical.
- Sídhe are hills, which connect our world with the mythical world, the Other World or Arallfyd.