The Opal Empire
Many elves believe that by aligning oneself in harmony with the universe, one can live forever. They live by a set of ideals called The Four Paths. These four paths are:
- balance of the four forms and four forces
- harmony with spirits
- purity of mind, body, and spirit
- beauty, inside and outside
Magical energy is called THI. It’s pronounced “thee”, but the “th” is unvoiced, like the “th” in “tooth,” and it’s almost a “t” sound.
Everyone has thi. It’s what makes you alive. The four forms shape your thi. The four forces move your thi.
The four forms are earth (or solid), air (or vapor), water (or liquid), fire (or energy). Earth and fire are considered “female” forms where air and water are considered “male” forms.
The four forces are order (or law), chaos (or freedom), life (or creation), death (or destruction). There is no male/female association with these forces.
Their religion is built around the idea that spirits are in everything. People and animals have them, but so do the trees, and even inanimate objects. You interact with spirits in everyday things all the time, so it’s important to live in harmony with them.
This belief turns out to be absolutely true.
If you examine the subtext of elven religious texts and societal beliefs, you’ll find a set of informal ideals.
Female strength. The first is that women are stronger than men (but not superior). Male weakness is attributed to their inability to bear children, relative impulsiveness, and perceived mental disadvantages. These last two things are not actually real, but nonetheless elves (male and female alike) tend to buy into society’s opinion of women and men.
Sin. The second informal ideal is that many things are sinful. Sin, in elven religion, is anything that weakens the spirit or imbalances one’s four forms and four forces. If you accumulate too much sin, you could get possessed by a nasty spirit or demon—or even turn into a demon. Many elves take this idea too far. Sex imbalances thi. Emotion, battle, the wrong foods, too.
Gods. The last idea hiding in elven religion is that the gods are still present in their lives. Maybe they never really left. Maybe they are cut off, but their presence can still be felt, or their rules are still in place. They might return any time. The new religion built after the gods left doesn’t need the gods, but it still has a place for them. Maybe if you die with your thi in perfect balance, you can get to heaven and finally be with the gods again.
Rituals and such
A lot of elven ritual focuses on fasting, meditation, sacrifice, and cleansing. There are rituals to drive spirits out of an area, to balance one’s thi, and to please the gods (but they can’t see it).
Marriage rituals allow sharing of divine spirits, and polygamy is common as a result (though some sects prohibit it). Remember, people trap spirits for their power. Usually, only the trapper can use the spirit. Married people have combined spiritually, so their power can be shared.
Elves perform a common ritual when they enter a temple: light a candle from a censer, drink water from a cup, spit it into a pot of dirt, blow out the candle.
Stranger elven cults have less common rituals, including spirit possession, speaking in tongues, and falling with seizures. Some of these groups are degenerate sex cults.