Religion and the Sha
The Sha are a very spiritual people and hold a religion that draws heavy influence from their utilitarian natures.
A cornerstone of the Sha faith is that they make no attempt in espousing to have a superior or ‘the one true religion’ but that their are in-fact countless Gods and faiths that they recognize to be true, most of which they have no interest in worshiping as they only care for their gods who care for them. They believe all Gods who draw worship are on some level real and that many where actually created by their worshippers in a similar manner to which a ‘tulpa’ in Tibetan traditions draw its strength from belief.
The Sha believe there are essentially three types of gods.
1 The Creator. The god who is beyond existence and understanding and who has always been
2 True Gods. Gods willed into existence by the creator or born from other such gods. They don’t rely on thoughts or prayers to sustain their existence
3 Created Gods. gods created by thoughts, prayers, belief and worship. They can actually die if they are merely forgotten over time.
To the Sha the Gods themselves are believed to strengthen their existence through the minds of their followers and even their antagonists’ and skeptics’ thoughts of them. It is for this reason they believe it is important to measure their thoughts and emotions and adjust accordingly. (For example they attempt to never think of Judaea-Christian archetypes of devils or evil as they certainly do not wish to fuel the existence of such a being.) However, they believe no sentient life form is completely devoid of at least the occasional negative thought so they channel their lower thoughts into a belief in the “Shadow Elf” as a means of channeling the mystical energies of darker thoughts and beliefs into something that can have a positive outcome.
Their are four major Gods or Godlike entities in the Sha Panthion
- The Shadow Elf- a being created by the energy of the Sha
- Yngvi The god of the Sha among other things. They believe that he is a “True God” assigned custodianship of most Elves by a higher power(possibly the creator)
- “The Mother” the Sha goddess of nature and knowledge. She protects plant life and blesses the Sha with a special kinship with plant life an helps them commune with ancestor trees
- “The Creator” The god of gods and the supreme aspect of all creation.
The “Shadow Elf” is not an elf but a powerful godlike entity that resides in the collective conscience of all Sha and even all who know of the “shadow elf”. It is thought that when the negative thoughts, emotions and belief in this entity reaches critical mass it will possess and fuse with the soul of a young and vulnerable Sha who has strong negative emotions and thoughts. This results in a child who will grow to be an incredibly powerful elf capable of terrible destruction. It is for this reason that when the “Shadow Elf” manifests every member of the Sha make it their duty to guide the young demigod along a path of warmth and compassion, and redirect the child’s warlike nature into that of a protector because in much the same way an army can be used to conquer it can be also be used to protect and defend.
Due to the nature of how the “Shadow Elf” manifests into our realm by fusing with the soul of a host Sha, it is believed every “Shadow Elf” is not only a return of the previous “Shadow Elf” but also a reincarnation of several previous hosts. Previous hosts provide the benefit being the newest host’s “Jiminy Cricket” to help counteract the negative thoughts and urges caused by the “Shadow Elf” presence (yet another measure to help mitigate the risk of corruption. Previous hosts will remain attached to the spirit of the “Shadow Elf” for several incarnations until their souls having been freed of negativity naturally detach from the “Shadow Elf” and ascend or reincarnate.
However, the power of a “Shadow Elf” comes at a terrible price. Because life is a positive state of being, regardless of how it is spent, channeling the power of the “Shadow Elf” damages the life force of the host and channeling all of the “Shadow Elf’s” power means certain death to the host. The last “Shadow Elf “ was the legendary Last King and his death was the result of him channeling all of the dark energies within himself at once to protect his people. Since that time there have been no other “Shadow Elves” as there aren’t enough Sha left who know of the “Shadow Elf” for him to reach critical mass and manifest in a Sha in our realm.
Yngvi is the patron god of the Sha. His responsibility is to guide the souls of the Sha to other Sha. The Sha believe Yngvi helps the Sha find one another when they are lost. The Sha also believe that Yngvi help Sha souls find their way on the path of reincarnation and that he receives lost souls from “The Mother”
The Mother is a goddess of nature, knowledge and burial rites. She watches over the ancestor groves and will hold troubled souls to be collected by Yngvi. She blesses the transfer of knowledge from Sha corpses to ancestor trees. She blesses the Sha with the ability to commune with plant life and she blesses her most devoted followers the ability to access and join the collective consciousness of plant life in meditation. (These most devoted followers are often thought of as having become half plant half Sha.) It is debated among the Sha as to wether she is a “true god” or a “created god” but she is nonetheless revered by all Sha
The creator is unique in that the creator is accepted to be the singular being beyond understanding and presumption. Therefore the Sha offer this being the greatest reverence but make no attempts describing or understanding who this being is or what role said being plays aside from that it creates all things by force of will and the universe exists only because this being continues to will it.
The Sha believe in both reincarnation and transcendence.
It is believed that when a Sha dies the memories left in the body can be preserved in an ancestor tree.
An ancestor tree is a tree grown from the corpse of a Sha. Only descendants of the corpse that nourished the tree and OwmEw can “read” memories from an ancestor tree.
In the rare instances when a Sha soul fails to or chooses not to ascend or reincarnate they may become entangled in the tree growing from their corpse. Many choose this fate intentionally. When this occurs it is called “living with the Mother” because those in this state are one with the collective consciousness of all plant life and are also able to hear the voice of the mother directly. Sha souls entangled in this manner are also able to act as keepers of their perspective ancestor tree, allowing those who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to “read” their tree. They can even deny access to anyone they don’t wish “reading” their tree even if they are descendants or OwmEw
The OwmEw or Daughters of the Forest are the most devoted followers of “The Mother” The process of becoming OwmEw is a long and arduous process that requires much sacrifice. They first take an oath to never take the like of a plant and adopt a strictly carnivorous diet. They them pain stakingly pluck every hair from their body (Sha only grow hair on their heads and their pubic area) and plant special tiny vine seeds under their skin in place of their plucked hair. They then enter into a hibernative/meditative state and attempt to commune with the seeds germinating beneath their skin and guide the growth of each seeds roots. If they fail the roots will grow out of control and kill them. If they are successful their mind will become as one with the many vines grow from their bodies, they will gain the ability to communicate directly with the collective consciousness of plant life, receive secondhand guidance from the mother through plants, “read” ancestor trees, gain the ability to photosynthesize energy as plants do to supplant much of their carnivorous diet effectively becoming an elf-plant hybrid, and they will enjoy a position of respect and admiration from Sha society as spiritual leaders a wise women. However all of these benefits come at a cost. Over time their skin will begin to store chlorophyll causing their skin to turn green, they will become reliant upon sunlight to maintain their health, and perhaps most devastating they will loose the ability to bare children and may experience some minor alienation for not contributing to the delicate population.