The Hands that Move the World
“We look, then, to our ancestors for guidance on the great journey, for they have walked this road long before we first set foot upon it. They who have transcended death lead us selflessly towards the ends they have already achieved themselves.”
– Silaor’s Testimonial
The elves of Khorvaire practice a variety of religions. In Aerenal and Valenar, ancient customs of life and death, of heritage and immortality, hold sway. Aerenal and Valenar elves revere their ancestors, but seek to preserve their heroes by differing means. Two major sects reflect this distinction in Elven religion — the Undying Court, and the Spirits of the Past.
The Undying Court
Aerenal elves see life as a spiritual journey. Living in the world is a great trial that hastens the spirit toward perfection. Those who have come before can show those now alive the way. However, the journey to perfection is so long that a single lifespan, even an elven one. isn’t enough time to accomplish it.
To complete the journey, an elf must move beyond life, dying and yet continuing to exist in the world by undergoing the Transition and becoming one of the undying. As one of the undying, an elf first serves the Undying Court. Eventually he or she joins the Court as a peer and becomes an undying councilor using his or her wisdom for the benefit of Aerenal. Such an elf eventually transcends death as well, becoming an immortal being that can travel the planes at will.
Spirits of the Past
The Tairnadal elves of northern Aerenal and Valenar respect the Undying Court, but they share only a portion of the beliefs that their kin in southern Aerenal hold dear. Most significant, they do not seek to become undying. Instead, they believe that the soul’s journey in life is fulfilled by emulating the glorious examples set by one’s heroic ancestors.
Typical followers of this faith live with respect toward their ancestors. They resemble the faithful of the Undying Court, but followers of the Spirits of the Past live more for the present than for the past. They esteem immediate action and achievement more than the patient pursuit of perfection.
An individual practitioner learns all he or she can about his or her patron ancestor. This study is not only for inspiration; a practitioner attempts to surpass the deeds of his or her patron ancestor.