The theological principal of Salsham'ai belief is
that Chaos and Concord are balanced and that if this balance is disturbed
or upset it is detrimental to all life. While Salsham'ai society tends
towards order - so agreeing with Manrupashnar's
philosophy - this is balanced by the wildness of the large expanses of
forest. They believe that all things in nature are a combination of Chaos
and Concord: a patch of forest might seem chaotic and random but the internal
structure of a tree (botany is well advanced here) is an excellent example
of a logical ordered system to provide food and sunlight. Equally law and
order are vital to maintain society but creativity and inspiration (chaotic
elements) are necessary to keep that society alive and vital.
Shroma, Lord of Chaos is a sun deity represented
by a wild horned hunter and warrior, while Themnass, Lady of Concord, a
moon deity, is a learned and placid mother figure. These are the only gods
in their belief system but there is a wide variety of Sidhe (pronounced
Shee - fairies, elves and goblins) connected to places, objects and creatures.
So placating the tree spirits will make you a better woodworker etc.
Their holymen are known as Loremasters or Loremothers
and they combine the role of priests, teachers, historians and healers.
Each small village will have one, perhaps with one or two apprentices,
and larger towns will have more. There is no formal "church"
or award of status, each Loremaster learns by being apprenticed for no
less than 10 years. They are self-initiating, the master and apprentice
just agree as to when it is time for him or her to branch out on their
own. This means that there is great variety amongst the practices of different
regions, and newly "graduated" Loremasters usually spend many
years travelling widely learning from other traditions and so dispersing
their knowledge as well.
Such an informal system might be expected to produce
a large amount of charlatans and cranks, and while they are not unknown
there are surprisingly few of these. Loremasters work closely with the
people and any who might be a disruptive influence are quickly invited
to "move on" by the local authorities.
Local community Loremasters tend to be generalists
who are "jacks of all trades". Other more specialist types who
would be well known as primarily historians, or healers, or mages, or teachers
and who would most likely be hermits or work at the Thalsa library or be
travelling around seeking out new or lost information.
In Thalsa there is the
Great Library (literacy is quite high amongst the population); as part
of the Royal Household the Great Mother appoints a venerable and respected
Loremaster and he runs it with other Loremasters. It contains copies of
most of the writings and knowledge of all Loremasters (one of an apprentice's
main tasks is to make copies of their teacher's writings to be sent to
the Library) as well as other native and foreign literature. Again most
Loremasters spend some time there during their lives, studying and offering
their services to assist in its maintenance. There is a small community
of lay-students as well, usually the daughters of governing families.
Magic - Pas at
Loremasters are able to channel the "universal
life energy" - Pas at - that exists in all things and creatures. They
can then direct this energy and manipulate it. This fits into their Balance
of Chaos/Concorde theology in that they believe that the energy is essentially
chaotic, but the focus of the conscious mind orders it.
In practice a Loremaster could not conjure up an
object out of thin air, but can direct the Pas at into objects, people
(to heal them), form physical and aetheric shields. Certain minerals and
locations are particularly strong in Pas at and so lend themselves to magical
workings. When the Shadow Moon is in ascendance it strengthens Pas at generally.
The theory includes the belief that there are four
major meridians in the body - the crown, heart, navel and root. These have
associated colours and other concordances. Using Pas at a Loremaster can
read another's meridians and so help diagnose illness or other problems.
Loremaster apprentices spend many years learning
how to channel and direct the Pas at - it takes meditation and mental exercises
to achieve control over it. It would require a much greater skill than
most Loremasters have to be able to "drain" Pas at from a living
person, everyone has a natural ability to contain their own Pas at, that
is why it takes apprentices such a long time to learn how to channel it
within themselves - however such things are known.
Salsham'ai magic is not as ritualised and formal
as Empire magic but some ritual is used as an aid to meditation and focus.
Deep trances are often entered into, and if precautions are not taken can
leave practitioners vulnerable to physical attack.
Loremasters have the ability to tranfer part of their
consciousness, through the Pas at, into other beings - not enough to control
them, it must usually be a willing recipient - and see through their eyes,
so they often have a familiar, such as a muita or voyhawk, with which they
"journey". They can also interact with the Sidhe on the aetheric
level using Pas at.
Magic workers have to have served a Loremaster's
apprenticeship in order to learn the philosophy and ethical background
to magic. However given the fluid and unformalised nature of the Loremasters
organisation there is room for undesirable people to learn these arts.