Silence and Empress of the Black River
"In the conception of Xanolath the Miserable, the silence is a river that separates life and death. That Black River flows from the far past and slowly towards oblivion. Every drop in the Black River is one forgotten matter or affair which cannot be taken on to afterlife. One black swan swims in the Black River. That swan guards those invited who are crossing the Bridge of Shadows. In a poem Xanolath describes Theala to be an enormous shape whose presence covers the River of Death, the black swan and Bridge of Shadows. In the poem the face of the goddess appears on the surface of the Black River when some dead soul stumbles off the Bridge of Shadows. The Hand of Theala rises from the water and saves the dead soul from eternal oblivion."
Time is a rhythm. Death is another phase of time. Death is the silence between the pulses. Theala is the silence. Mortals comprehend Theala to be something final and as the mystical disappearance. This is understandable, because mortals only comprehend what life implies about the great rhythm of the cosmos. To many, death is the end of everything. There are also those to whom death is only a new beginning. For them, there is always something, even though it wouldn't be better.
In symbolic art, the figure of Theala is often described as a black swan. Writings however always speak of her collective essence, which cover the swan, the bridge and the Black River. Paintings often describe Theala as a collective entirety, her face is reflected large from the surface of the Black river. Her left hand forms the Bridge of Shadows and right hand is described to be the neck and head of a swimming swan. In sculptures and paintings describing her human form, she has been described to be a beautiful female. Her skin is pale and ghastly bluish. She has long black hair, which surrounds her graceful eyes. Like in images of other gods, Theala's divinity is also described by eyes without pupils and breathing white and holy energy. In that kind of avatar-figure Theala is wearing a low-necked dress made of feathers of black swan. The dress highlights her feminine features.
In stories and legends Theala takes form of a black whooper when she leaves the Black River and flies to other worlds. By some beliefs the swan is taken to be a holy bird among people revering Theala. If somebody kills a white swan, he/she is believed to face a violent death. A killer of a black swan would experience torture and an agonizingly long death and his/her entire family would be cursed. Under the curse every member of the family would die within a year or not later than when the family member turns twenty. By common beliefs the flight of the black swan is certain sign of tragedy. If a black swan flies over a house, village or town, it knows death before end of the day. If the black swan also calls out, it predicts a major calamity to the region. According to beliefs, the calamity could be great fire or an epidemic disease.
"There is only one step - walk from dream to death."
- Proverb of the brotherhood of Itmorren -
Dreams also belong to the passive influence of Theala. Sleeping intuals best reflect the passive activity of Theala. Psionics, and especially dream-walkers have found considerable resources from resting the mind. Psionics often speak of that dreaming is a passively active state. The more freely the thoughts of an intual can fly, the better it rests. It may be said that in dreams the individual is closest to the Black River. Itmorren, named "dream-wizard", found a school of magic that is specialized in dreams and spells affecting dreams. They categorize themselves as necromancers. Their saying is that there is only one step to walk from dream to death. This brotherhood confirms the thesis of psionics that The Black River flows from dream to oblivion.
Theala is one of the elder- and also one of the most feared gods. Among gods, Theala can be seen as to belonging to the domain of time. To same extent the Time divides in to sound and silence. Representative of sound or in other words the active part of time is Achali, the Guardian of time, but the sound itself is actually everywhere. Theala could be seen to belong to a silent part of the rhythm. Xanolath the Miserable called the passive side of the rhythm of cosmos the "family of death." He also divided the family of death
into three deities. Volaris represents silence, Theala is the soul of silence and Toga is the effect of silence.
Theala is not conceived to be very close or distant relation to any other deities than those of time. She affects common happenings and decisions in her own passive way. In other words in a passive way she is as active as other deities. Relations between Theala and Opanta can be described thus that Theala is, and Opanta fights against her.
Counterforce - Opanta
The time of cosmos is a rhythm and Theala is the silence in that rhythm. The question is what deity is the pulse? Thinking in one way the existence itself is the pulse of the rhythm, but it also is the silence of the rhythm. When existence is divided and the pulse of time is searched, we finally end up with a small but powerful force. This power is the source of the will to live. It is in all life. It is the obsession of living to effect. In their inmost hearts every intual wants to leave something of effect in life. It could be a
sculpture, wisdom, offspring or anything else. Does it come from empty air what animal instincts tell you what to do? Is it coincidence that makes flies copulate? It can't be coincidence, because million flies aim to the same goal. Heart of all that trying and striving crystallizes in the goddess called Opanta. She is the empress of the halls of birth. She is the one who encourages the fighting against silence. She is the one who gives more strength when everything is already lost. On an individual level Opanta is the beginning and Theala the end. Because of this intuals comprehend Theala and Opanta to be opposite deities.
Realm - The Black River (From dream-space to oblivion)
Realm of Theala is a proximate entity of controversial boundaries and definitions created by mortals. Vague stories and historical myths suppose that Theala could have had an own realm at some point at the beginning of time. These secrets sunken into oblivion refer that Theala herself or some other deity may have destroyed Theala's own realm. There is only a thought left of her first-born race if even that. Who were they? What did they do? Where they are now? These are questions having no answers anymore. Or could the right answers be found beyond dream-space? "There is always something."
Some psionics, many mystic dreamwalkers and some necromancers claim the dream-space to be the ancient and shattered realm of Theala. By those travelers of dream-space, all individuals, animals and even plants are connected to this dream-space. The dream-space is a reflection of the present and at same time an ancient energy stream. Researchers can't tell where dream-space begins or where it ends. The dreamers describe dream-space as follows:
"Dreams are shattered pieces of reality."
- Jellegrouth -
"Dream-space is a great dream, -nobody's dream. What is seen there or better said not seen, is not darkness. It is rather a restriction of the conscious. It seems to be continuing somewhere farther like eternity itself. Dream-space has no space or distances. There is no direction, though the intual’s sense of sight may otherwise insist. Senses are completely dependant on physical matters like sounds, scents and sensations around the sleeper. For this reason, the only sense that can be trusted in dream-space is intuition. The term "see" can also be used for this perception with intuition.
The dream-space is filled with numerous amounts of different sized and colored dream-worlds. Those sprinkle the distant dream-space like stars sprinkle the night sky. The difference between dream-space and the night sky is that dream of another intual can be very close to a dream-traveler. A dream close to traveler is like a round window to a new separate world. "Frames" of these windows are vague side effects of dreams and dream-space. A dream-window is not a two-dimensional "painting." A more describing word instead of window could be a "bubble." If looked from the dream-window figures and objects could be very far away and look small. They could also be so close that even the smallest details are clearly visible. Commonness or detail of the view depends on the sleepers own intensity towards his dreams. Many other matters like the spiritual connection between sleeper and traveler, similarity and bilateral acceptance of subconscious minds effect that too.
In addition to normal dream-windows a dream-traveler can encounter an empty dream. By their tellings, plenty of empty dreams are born in dream-space. An empty dream is the last breath of a dying being. It is a phase when dream turns to death. An empty dream is the moment when vital functions cease and the soul remains for a moment in the dead body. An empty dream can be the moment when Volaris comes to make his claim. An empty dream can be a truth shown by Volaris or Theala about meaning and purpose of an individual. An empty dream can be anything. In dream-space empty dream seems to be vague and translucent. It possible to go into that dream like it is possible to go into any other dream. But going in to an empty dream has its dangers. In a same way how an inexperienced intual falls to a normal sleep, an experienced dream-traveler would probably fall to death with an empty dream. There are also those who have fallen towards death with an empty dream and succeeded in returning back. These dream-travelers have told that they were sucked into a dark and gloomy river. That river wasn't formed of water, but ancient thought, emotions and memories. Unseen dreams, muffled fears, forbidden feelings and wasted secrets pass amongst the flow to oblivion. Those who returned from the Black River tell about the irresistible urge to grab up ancient secrets, unseen memories, own fears and new emotions. That attraction to experience something new, but ancient, is tempting. When curiosity draws the individual towards those matters, some part of consciousness cries as if in mortal fear. That cry is a warning that the grasping would take consciousness to oblivion. Those dream-travelers, whose will was strong enough, succeeded in forcing themselves to dream of a shore to the river and were able to get themselves back to dream-space. It is not known how many have drifted with the river to oblivion."
The history knows only eight dream-travellers, who have succeeded in returning from the Black river: Jellegrouth (before time), Andielle (before time), Nardanruth (before time), Zalhgeron (Age of law), Brilli (Age of stability), Itmorren (Age of stability), Zhanque Hasserh (New age of dragons) and Dantores "wingsoul" (Age of miracles).
The Black river
It is impossible to go far enough back in time to reach the beginnings of history and discovering the origin and fate of Theala's realm. Some things may however be concluded and guessed by the Holy writings, sleep-memorandums and chronicles. Theala's realm covers Dream-space, The Black River and Oblivion. Like dreamers described, the Black River is not formed of water, but memories. Many artistic points of view however describe those memories as liquid. On the other side of the Black River is the border of dream and death. It is formed of dark coniferous forest where nightmares live. Those nightmares try to pull dream-travelers and lost sleepers into the darkness of the forest forever.
On the opposite side of the Black River the lands of death begin. The lands of death begin as vertical black granite walls, which rise from the Black River. Only way to get to the lands of death is to pass along the Bridge of Shadows. Necromancers have their own and "criminal" means to call or smuggle spirits between the lands of death and other worlds. The lands of death have many names like Death, Afterlife and Underworld and so on. The lands of death are ruled by the god Toga, who is believed to be the son of Theala and Volaris. Usually young gods don't have their own realm. Toga is one of the exceptions. He rules either the "lost" realm of Volaris or a big part of Theala's realm.
In the middle of the Black River close to the Bridge of Shadows a large island is located. By the myths the island may look small, but even dragon's life wouldn't be enough to flying around it. It is said that there is only a lime tree grove, the Reaper's grove. Theala and her servants live there. Maid servants are the closest mortals to her. They are elven women who died because of wrongdoings of other elves. In addition to them, only newborn babes that died in their cradle or the womb get there. The grove has its own little cradle for every child that has "fallen asleep young."
Priestesses and temples
Priestesses of Theala are retired women devoted to Silence. They were girls taken into care that possibly had been born as bastards or otherwise unwanted girls and were left orphans at young age. Older women who have lost their will to live or desperate are accepted to priestesses of Theala. In temples of Theala the priestesses are trained as ascetic members of temple-society. Priestesses of Theala live isolated in temples and deal with other people as little as possible. The temples are quite self-supporting and most of them are forbidden of men. For women and children those temples are a last and reliable sanctuary. Women and children fleeing war, violence, men or even diseases are always welcome to temples of Theala. Temples are always located quite far away from settlements. Some towns could have small or large chapels of Theala, but never temples. Temples are large, but barren "palaces." The temple could be like a village of priestesses or even a small town. There are many rooms, workshops, halls, a library, reading hall, large kitchen, cowshed, stables, fencings and an enormous garden. Surroundings of temples have agricultural land and well cared forest.
Cult ceremonies of Theala are secret. Outsiders are not allowed to take part to any rituals or even watch. For the inexperienced, the rituals are hard to understand and even harder to perform. Numerous amounts of different doings belong to the rituals: breathing exercises, mental image exercises, different dances, sacrifices, controlling of own body and mind and their connection. Rumors say that human sacrifices are not rare. The rituals are performed together, but everybody concentrates on their faith and performs the ritual for themself. The rituals consist of accepting self, life and death. The rituals teach priestesses to feel own self and limits to be able to better use capacity as effectively as possible for living, dying and preparing for a new beginning.
Special comprehensions of people
The worshipping of Theala is rare compared to the worshipping of other elder gods. All folk have large suspicions and fear about the worship of the empress of death. Proportionally most worshippers of Theala can be found amongst Veendal, who are otherwise known for their matriarchal social structure.
The elves are very suspicious of worshippers of Theala, like they are towards those of Volaris. That fear of death however is directed mostly at Volaris and Toga rather than Theala. For the elves the empress of death is the most harmonic goddess of "Silence." Should somebody among elves respect death, target of the respect quite probably is Theala.
At some point during the age of miracles a small détente towards the family of death occurred among grand elves and later also among other elves. The elves could mention name of Theala and gradually they even forgot to grin when hearing a mention of the goddess. Inspired by that a young and promising poet Nolath Laiblin Ilnealenil (Nolath of the golden age and scent of sandalwood.) had a dream about Theala. The dream acceded also to Toga and Volaris. That young grand elven aristocrat made an anthology of poetry named "The family of death." This gloomy and beautiful anthology of poetry shocked the entire elven people. Right after the first performance other grand elven aristocrats exiled young Nolath and added a word "Gxa" to his name. Gxa means extreme opposite of blessed. This worst scandal of an entire age raised a fear of the corruption among the young. Angry of that the elves took more disapproving attitude towards all deities of death. Gxanolath escaped to wilderness and gradually attuned to the "stink" of humans. In any case he was not able to forget the dream and the anthology of poetry. Two hundred years after his banishment he became known in court of Velgadur with his anthology of poetry. Religious affiliation of Theala has brought many things to art and the understanding of the anthology of poetry by the grand elven aristocrat known as Xanolath the Miserable, even though the priestesses would deny that.
Divine artifact - No special artifact
Holy symbol and holy scriptures - The silent word
Holy symbol of Theala always has a black silhouette of a swimming swan. Sometimes it could be symbolically decorated with the Bridge of Shadows and the Black River.
Holy scriptures of Theala are called the silent word. It is written of dreams, visions and ancient tales. It is believed that the silent word was the first holy book of gods dealing with time. All the writings of the pantheon of Time support each other by the most parts.
Written by : NorAdronPrintable version of this text
Translated by : MoR