Sylvan Mourning

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Sylvan Mourning is an Official GemStone IV Document, and it is protected from editing.

Anchors Within Chaos: Sylvans & Mourning

Throughout their long history, sylvans have had many different responses to death and mourning, but at their heart, one belief holds firm to this day -- naming a place is holy. To sylvans, a name anchors an area within the chaos of the Otherworld, and this allows confused spirits to find their way into the Realm of the Dead.

Thus, any area where sylvans live for longer than a season is given a name, and areas housing the deceased or monuments to them are also named with care and writ upon the histories for time immemorial. Funerary rites themselves are less tied to a specific D'ahranal and more tied to familial or area customs.

Sylvans practice the embalming arts in several of their burial rituals, but it is also common to eschew any embalming so the deceased can more quickly become one with the earth. Cremation is less common, but it is still present.

While in mourning, friends and family will often wear amber teardrops to indicate their grief, as amber is symbolic of the tears of Imaera or a grieving earth. Some feel the symbol should be reserved for times of great import and tragedy, such as a natural disaster or war, and not for the death of an individual.

The Ivethlyss: Telling the Trees

Originating in sylvan communities nearest to Yuriqen, the yr'ivethlyss is loosely translated to mean "telling the trees." Some have intimated that it is the inspiration for the forest gnomes' idrisa since that translates in Common to "telling the bees." However, despite the convenient rhyme, the two rituals appear to have developed independently.

The ivethlyss (the "yr" is a dropped prefix and not said or even typically written out) is practiced amongst several smaller sylvan enclaves deep within the forests of Elanith. These enclaves grow a small grove of seven sacred trees, representing the Seven Modwirs of Yuriqen. The village names the grove, inscribes it upon their holy scrolls, and appoints an ivelyrael or caretaker. The ivelyrael is frequently a clergy of Imaera and often of the Fresiawn D'ahranal.

When word comes of a sylvan's passing, the living gather at the grove. Shepherded by the caretaker, the closest living family member approaches each tree and whispers the name of the deceased. If no family member is present, the caretaker does this themself. Next begins the recitation of the lyssatha, a prayer proffered up to the trees, Imaera, and Gosaena.

The body itself is laid to rest nearby, buried unembalmed, and a tree is planted over the site. Care for these trees rests with the children and young adults, as each sylvan has a part of the cycle of life.

After the ivethlyss and burial, families gather together and celebrate the life lived and the lives still to be. Food and drink flow freely, and while not a raucous affair, neither is it particularly somber.

Athgosael: Gosaenaen Rituals

The athgosael ritual is a gem-based ritual, one often chosen by followers of Gosaena, involving three precious stones highly prized amongst this faction. Using polished cloud agates, it starts with a meditation session by the deceased's innermost circle. The meditation ends with an invocation to Gosaena to uncloud their eyes and provide clarity of the world beyond the mortal life.

The body is embalmed by a cleric of Gosaena specializing in the practice, and another carves small wings out of malachite. At the burial ceremony, a chosen cleric places the wings of malachite over the deceased's eyes and recites the words carved across the stone, "Forever closed to mortal suffering; forever held in eternal peace."

Finally, the body is placed in the ground, and mourners walk by one by one. Each carries a piece of moss agate, the stone representative of the transition between a mortal life to a life immortal. The mourners place their stones in the grave and whisper their own personal blessings.

What happens after the ritual varies from area to area, but it usually involves quiet, group contemplation and simple meals of the deceased's favorite food and drink.

Caelrivel: Rites of Amber

The caelrivel ("rites of amber") holds roots in Yr'Shryv traditions. One of the Seven Modwirs of Yuriqen, Yr'Shryv was dedicated to the Otherlife, and several rituals started amongst its branches. Several communities predominantly practice the caelrivel for death rites, and others still will do so if requested by individuals. Those dedicated to mystical or divination arts especially are prone to requesting a caelrivel even if they live in an area known for other rituals.

To start, caelrivel clergy prepare the body for embalming by first conducting a trio of ceremonial death rites. Brown amber incense is burned throughout the rites as a deterrent to negative forces that may become attached to a newly passed soul.

The first rite is one of cleansing the body and wrapping it in linen. Next, clergy perform rituals of naming and binding meant to ensure an easy passage through the Otherlife. Finally, family members visit the deceased, leaving a heart of green amber carved with messages behind.

Rituals complete, the family leaves, and the embalming artists begin their work. The heart is removed and replaced with the green amber heart. The sentiments carved upon it are believed to carry on with the deceased into their new life beyond the Ebon Gate. The actual heart is burned and its ashes placed in a small urn. When the body is prepared, caelrivel initiates transport it to the burial site.

Burials vary between communities, but most sylvans practicing the caelrivel have dedicated cemetery groves where the body is laid to rest. Some families may have their own groves as well.

After burial, the heart ashes are presented to the closest family member. What happens to it also varies based on family traditions and personal preferences, but it is quite common to have an artisan create a trinket of some sort out of the ashes.

A Note on Ashes As noted above, it has become quite common to request a loved one's ashes be turned into a trinket of some sort. Artisans report glassworked beads called rivelyn are the most popular. Created in a variety of colors and shapes, several rivelyn can be made, allowing several loved ones to have a remembrance. Pottery is also commonly requested, with small vases and figurines being popular.

Tyshveriel: A Ceremony of Remembrance

Sylvans in the northwestern areas of Elanith, especially alchemists, magic users, and those of the Tyesteron D'ahranal will follow a funeral with the tyshveriel. Some believe that a single zircon, boiled in tea, increases one's general health and longevity.

The tyshveriel builds upon this. Alchemists will seek out rare zircons, especially the tyshath, a deep red zircon with interior starring of dark purple, and the vyshath, an unusual blue-green zircon, but any zircon will work. The zircons are then ground into a fine powder and brewed into a tisane with local herbs. Those mourning gather together and drink of the brew and share memories.

It is said that participating in a tyshveriel will solidify the remembrance of the person and assist in their passage through the afterworld.

Zircons in order of potency, according to some: Red (the darker, the better, and especially the tyshath), blue-green, blue, green, yellow, orange, and brown.

Mourning During Travel

The sylvan past is fraught with deaths occurring while in transit, seeking peaceful solitude away from the destructive nature of other races. During these times, as sylvans abandoned one city and searched for another, normal mourning rituals had to be suspended.

When death accrues in large numbers, such as at the maw of the Golden Anvil, a stele was raised, incised with the names of the dead. A pleasing location was typically found, somewhere beautiful and tranquil, and while the sylvans stayed in the area, the stele was well cared for. However, no shame or guilt was felt upon leaving it. It was enough to know that it was placed and honored.

Ritual of the Past: High Council of the D'ahranals

According to the histories, members of the high council passed knowledge from one generation to the next, possibly through a sacred scroll or other Arkati-blessed ritual.

When a member of the sylvans' high council died, the other councilors gathered together with the body to conduct secret rituals and ceremonies said to assist in passing on the deceased's inherited knowledge to an amphora where it was held until a new councilor was elected. The body was then honored in unknown rituals.

The general population were made aware of the councilor's death by the beating of a large drum known as Rantylan.

Other Funerary Customs

Regardless of which ceremony a particular group tends towards, there are other funerary customs that sylvans often embrace and work either into the ceremony itself or immediately before or after.

Aelyreth: Those participating in this "ceremony of the fallen leaves" gather leaves from local trees and, when possible, leaves from the deceased's birth area if different. When available, the body is laid upon the ground (or an effigy is used) and the leaves are carefully arranged about it. A designated speaker recites a poem or favorite passage and offers the dead to the trees. The aelyreth typically occurs prior to any other ceremony but can be done after-the-fact if needed.

Lyraev: Far back in the sylvans' history, a fashion trend took storm known as Ilyraelin. Still popular today in some sylvan enclaves, it involves capturing fireflies into small lace netting and adorning one's clothes with the twinkling creatures. Great care was taken not to harm the fireflies, and they were released after the evening's event was done. They were typically adornments along lushly appointed capes and cloaks, but other uses occurred as well (such as at the cuff of a shirt or scattered across full skirts).

Legend has it that a trio were at a ball when word finally reached them of a friend's passing. They left in a hurry to attend the ceremony, arriving just in time. At the end, someone whispered kindly to them that the fireflies were still flitting about in their silken cages. Unwilling to risk waiting, the trio surreptitiously pulled the hidden cords that opened the mesh and released the fireflies. Dozens of fireflies flickered across the glade just as sun was descending, creating a beautiful sight that caught the attention of all mourners.

From there, it was a simple leap to the addition of the lyraev at ceremonies held at dusk and during firefly season. It is not actually limited to funerals, but other ceremonies, such as weddings, may incorporate the lyraev as well.

Interestingly enough, some forest gnomes incorporate something similar for weddings, with daytime weddings using butterflies and evening or night weddings using fireflies. At various points in history, elves have imitated the ilyraelin style also using bits of arathiel instead of fireflies.


Death comes to us all in time, and sylvans believe in finding ways to honor the living, the dead, and the world that they are a part of. This takes numerous forms depending on where they live, what they believe in, and what other influences may be in place. In the end, respect and remembrance will be most important.

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