Scales of War
Elven Deity of Illusions, Dreams, Love, and the Moons
Although Corellon’s symbol is the crescent moon, Sehanine Moonbow is the elven goddess of the moons or, more specifically, the full moons. She governs divinations, omens, and subtle magics and protects against madness. She watches over the dreams of the elves, keeping them from harm while in reverie and sending omens to protect them from future dangers. Sehanine watches over the passage of elven spirits from the world, and she is protectress of the dead. The Daughter of the Night Skies is also a guardian and guide to those elves whose days in the mundane world of mortals are done and who seek to travel from the lands they know and love to whatever lies beyond. She also watches over such refuges and ensures they are kept safe from intrusion. Sehanine governs long journeys, both physical and spiritual, and in elven cultures that proclaim the reality of reincarnation, Sehanine and Corellon work together to guide the spirit to its best subsequent incarnation as it works its way toward perfection. Although Sehanine is venerated by all the Fair Folk (including half-elves and a handful of gnome illusionists), she is particularly revered by elves, who view her as their protector.
Her power waxes and wanes with the phases of the moon, growing strongest when the moon is full. As befits the elven goddess of mysteries, Sehanine is cloaked in secrets and illusions and rarely speaks her mind directly, preferring to communicate through a process of dreams, visions, and other mystic experiences. The Goddess of Moonlight is truly spiritual and ephemeral being who evades any attempt to define her and whose serenity surrounds her like a mantle of moondust. Sehanine appears as an elven female who is simultaneously youthful and ageless, wearing a diaphanous flowing gown formed of semi-solid gossamer moonbeams.
The church of Sehanine is generally perceived as removed from the daily concerns and outward expression of everyday life. As such, little is known of the Lady of Dreams and her clergy members by the N’Tel’Quess (non-elves). Among elves, Sehanine’s faith is closely held and deeply cherished, for the Luminous Cloud envelops and binds together all the Tel’Quessir. For the Fair Folk, Sehanine embodies the joy at the heart of the elven spirit, and her priests serve as guides to the next world or life that one may achieve through transcendence.
Novices of Sehanine are known as the Mooncalled. Full priests of the Daughter of the Night Skies are known as the Heavenly. In ascending order of rank, the titles used by Sehanite priests are Stargazer, Moondancer, Sky Seer, Vision Seeker, Omen Teller, Dream Walker, Transcendentalist and Reverent Dreamer. High-ranking priests have unique individual titles. Specialty priests are known as starsingers.
Sehanine’s priests are the seers and mystics of elven society. They serve as the spiritual counselors to elves and half-elves who seek to embark on journeys in search of enlightenment so as to transcend their current state of being. As shepherds and protectors of the dead, Sehanine’s priests organize and administer funeral rites and guard the remains of the fallen. They seek out and destroy undead creatures, for Sehanine holds such creatures – with the notable exceptions of baelnorn and other good-aligned undead beings who voluntarily prolong their existence in order to serve their kin – to be blasphemous. As defenders of elven homelands, Sehanine’s clergy are responsible for weaving and maintaining the illusions that guard those sanctuaries that remain and for divining potential threats to their continued existence. The prime task of adventuring priests is the retrieval of lost arcane and magical knowledge, especially if it pertains to illusions and/or divinations. Other seek out isolated elven enclaves, bringing them news of the Retreat and practical assistance in preparing for such a journey if they so choose. (Sehanine’s priests do not provide any guidance along the journey itself, as this is done through direct intuitive revelation by the Lady of Dreams herself.)
Members of Sehanine’s clergy favor silvery-white diaphanous gowns (for the priestesses) and togas (for the priests). A silver diadem is worn on the head, oftentimes with a moonstone pendant dangling above the brow. Simple sandals are worn on the feet, and a silver lace sash is worn around the waist. The holy symbol of the faith is a moonbar crystal carved in the shape of a small flat disk (approximately three inches in diameter), and such devices are often worn around the neck on a delicate-looking silver or mithral chain.
Sehanine’s temples are soaring monuments open only to elves and a few pious half-elves. Most such temples are constructed of white stone (often marble) and shaped so as to suggest imminent flight. Symmetry and circles are highly prized by the faith, reflected in the architecture of Sehanine’s houses of worship. The central chapel is always perfectly circular and is usually open to the night sky or covered by a retractable or transparent dome. Great gardens and hedgerow mazes often encircle the main structure, their formations imitating the paths of the heavenly bodies in the night sky above. Near long-standing temples, megaliths form great stone circles for use in tracking the position of the moon, fixed stars, and wandering stars by elven astrologers.
When the time comes for an elf to leave the ordinary lands of mortals and pass on to Arvanaith (the elven concept of the afterlife), it is common for the individual elf to spend several days in vivid daydreams and waking reverie. Exactly when this happens is unknown to any elf, even to Sehanine’s own priests. It is usually obvious to other elves when one of the Tel’Quessir is undergoing this change, but two marker events are definitive indicating that the Transcendence has begun. First, Sehanine sends the elf a vision where she or he must go to begin this journey from the world. Second, within the lens of the elf’s eye appears a telltale opaque milky crescent, the moonbow of Sehanine’s honorific name. When the time comes for an elf great in wisdom and accomplishment to depart, an accompanying full moon may display the moonbow as an event in nature. On rare occasions at such a rime, other elves join with the one about to depart in a shared trance state, sharing memories and knowledge in a direct telepathic communion known as the Circle of Transcendence. In some elven cultures this departure is a physical one – that is the elf walks off alone into the wilderness and his or her body is never found. In other societies, the elf’s spirit departs its material body, leaving behind a lifeless husk.
In cases of violent or accidental death where the spirit is not utterly destroyed, Sehanine’s priests serve in the stead of the departed spirit in the ritual of Transcendence. A Ceremony of Recovery involves one or more days of meditation and mystic communion with the natural and spiritual worlds. If successful, the priest channels the lost spirit through his or her own link with Sehanine, enabling the spirit to transcend to Arvanaith. During such ceremonies, after contacting the lost spirit, Sehanine’s priests display the characteristic moonbow within the lens of their eyes, but such manifestations of the Lady of Dreams vanish immediately upon the ritual’s conclusion.
Elven funeral rites vary widely from community to community and from individual to individual, reflecting the nature of the departed spirit. If the elf has simply answered Sehanine’s call, as opposed to death by accident or violence, death rituals are more often a celebration that the elf has achieved the joys of Arvanaith than a time of mourning. In either case, if the body remains, the method of disposal varies as well. In some communities, the assembled mourners gather with great pomp to watch the body be interred in the ground, with examples of the late elf’s artistry and passions displayed and speakers expounding on the merits of the deceased. Other elven societies bury the body immediately, regarding it as a mere husk from which the life force has departed. After disposing of the shell, they celebrate the spirit of the elf who once resided there. Still other elves believe that burning is the only way to truly rid the spirit of its earthly ties. Not only does it free the spirit for Arvanaith, it also prevents anyone from using the body for nefarious purposes.
Myths and Legends
Sehanine manifests through dreams and waking visions. She grants boons only to worshipers who enter an altered state of awareness, whether it be through meditation, dance, or trance. The Mystic Seer’s most common manifestations grant the recipients the ability to call on Sehanine’s wisdom, enable them to communicate through dreams to other beings, or allow them to view truths otherwise unseen. Sehanine sometimes manifests in drugged, drunken, unconscious, or sleeping beings and causes them to ramble on about random topics in all languages known. The foci of such a manifestations need not be worshipers or even elves, although the Luminous Cloud manifests as such only if at least one worshiper is present. The Goddess of the Moon sometimes manifests in enspelled worshipers when they are sleeping or in a trance state so as to unravel spell effects or to utter cryptic prophecies to those in attendance. She demonstrates her favor through the discovery of mithral, moonbar moonstones, silver, sunstones and the occurrence of a meteor shower or a single fallen star. The Daughter of the Night Skies indicates her displeasure by causing the moon to appear to wink at the target of her wrath.
She guides elven spirits on the way to Arvandor, where she dwells with most of the rest of the Seldarine. Her Moon Arch leads to a realm designed to test the spirit of the departed elf for judgment of worth in the lands of Elven Gods.
“Life is series of mysteries whose secrets are veiled by the Luminous Cloud. As the spirit transcends its mortal bounds and new mysteries are uncovered, a higher form is achieved and the cycle of life continues. Through contemplation and meditation, communion with the Lady of Dreams is achieved. Through dreams, visions, and omens revealed in sleep or the reverie, the Daughter of the Night Sky unveils the next step along the path and the next destination on the endless journey of mystic wonder that is life and death and life. Revere the mysterious moons, who draw forth tides or being from us all.”