The Lillium religion is a set of myths and beliefs centered on nature, magic and the spiritual world. It originated in Alberia, although there are many versions and ramifications elsewhere in Gaia, like Galgados, Kanon or even in the distant Pristina. It is difficult to pinpoint its exact origin, but it is likely that it was born from the relationship that the people of the Kingdom of Eternal Rains maintained with other ancient cultures and the spirits of the great forests.
Its practitioners have an animistic conception of nature and the world itself; gods and demons are everywhere, and places of great importance often have life. Accordingly, there are many sacred sites in their belief such as mountains, lakes or rivers. By their direct contact with nature, trees have a fundamental importance. They are holy spirits, linked to the very life essence of the people. Thus, each tree has a different significance, embodying a fundamental principle in the Lillium’s culture and religion.
While there are plenty of divine creatures, for the Lillium there is only one true God: The Mother. She is an absolute deity who represents life and nature, from whose womb all things are born. She requires no worship nor requests it, she lays no rules or demands tribute; she simply loves all her children, among whom man is without a doubt her favorite. Their believers pay honor to her, but always indirectly as not to offend her. There are some who believe that The Mother is Terrakath, the Saffron Dragon of Earth
The symbol of the Lillium is most often a large tree.
The Sacred Trees
The so-called Sacred Trees are the greater spirits of the Lillium stories. They are based on the idea that, although each tree has a unique soul, simultaneously is also a part of a larger whole, an almost divine presence composed of all the trees of a given species. There are hundreds of great spirits (in fact, as many as every kind of tree that exists), but eight of them hold greater importance and relate more directly to Alberia’s culture.
The Oak: For many it is the sacred tree of greatest importance because it controls the dominion of war. The oak symbolizes power, strength, courage and sovereignty. Therefore, kings and the great generals claim it.
The Hazel: The tree of beauty and wisdom, because of its beautiful flowers and delicate fruit. It symbolizes intelligence, evolution and change.
The Holly: The Holly is extremely important to the Lillium because it represents the tree of heroes and legend.
The Apple Tree: The tree that separates the living and the dead, several regenerative and healing powers are attributed to it.
The Yew: The tree of death and funerals, it allows communication with the beyond. All pyres in which the dead are burned are always of yew wood.
The Birch: Traditionally, birch branches were used to frighten demons and for flogging offenders for lesser crimes. It’s regarded as a tree with a benevolent primeval power, whose essence is noticeably feminine, so only women can have a birch as their sacred tree. Some circles of the occult establish a deep relationship between the birches and the incarnations of the Ilakavir Azrael.
The Willow: Considered the tree of witches and poets, its gifts vary noticeably depending on whether attributed to a man or woman. It is the tree of magic and creativity.
The White Hawthorn: The White Hawthorn is an evil tree, whose inside is as dark and poisonous as the souls of those whom it is associated with.
The Sidhe is an ancient Lillium myth. These are supposedly the first settlers of Alberia, who reached an alliance with the ancient spirits of the forest. It is believed that from the moment a Sidhe is born, it is devoted to a specific tree, which springs from the ground at that precise moment to reflect its mortal soul. A special bond forms between them, connecting their essences forever. They grow and evolve together until the moment the Sidhe dies, where the tree rots and breaks.
The greatest heroes of the Lillium (and some of their worst enemies) have always been considered Sidhe, since they possessed superhuman powers conferred by the great spirits. Sometimes, when they achieve a certain historical importance, the powers of the great spirits claim their soul at the time of death, removing it from The Flow of Souls to transform them into a Lim Sidhe (who for the Lillium were a kind of demigod). Even today, some still pay them reverence, singing hymns or requesting their aid before an important battle.
The Priesthood and The Church
Lillium priests are seen as mediators between men and spirits, interpreters of the afterlife. Traditionally they hold the role of magicians and diviners, although they are currently no more than distributors of knowledge and religious custom. Their work resembles that of spiritual advisors, being revered as wise people. Most of them live in Alberia, although a few may be found in the deepest valleys of Galgados or in the forests of Pristina (though nobody can say how they got there).
Unlike other religions, Lillium priests do not hold mass before crowds; what’s more, most of their practices can only be celebrated between priests. Outside intervention during the rites of the clergy is normally forbidden because it is considered dangerous by possibly altering the harmony of the spirits. The Lillium has no cult temples, preferring to perform their rites in the forests near springs or wells. The Forest of Glenda is the heart of its Church and the place where they meet annually to celebrate the changing of the seasons.
The priests do not have different ranks; once the apprentices achieve their teachers’ levels, everyone is equal. The women can also be priestesses, having the same privileges as the men; in fact, since they are fertile and can give birth, their views are often the most valued. The spiritual leader of The Church is the Great Priest, a title that has a life term and is chosen by every priest in a great celebration called “The Arrival”.
Two elements are always present in The Lillium rituals: nature and music. The first is usually the purest way to approach the spirits, but the secrets of these rites only are reserved for the priests. The ceremonies based on nature usually include animal sacrifices or the preparation of complex potions that can briefly unite men with the awareness of the great spirits. Music, by contrast, is much more common in the religious celebrations of the people. For those who are not priests, the only way to commune with the spirits or the Lim Sidhe is by means of musical songs or instruments, which are equivalent to prayers. The songs are a staple of every celebration, and it is believed that those with the best voices have a special talent communicating with the great powers.
Life, Death and Reincarnation
Despite the apparent passivity of their beliefs, the Lillium see life and death as an endless cycle. For them, the struggle and the conquest are intrinsically tied to man’s nature, being elements as important as protecting what each person holds dear. In consequence, their followers do not see conflict or war as something bad, as long as certain lines are not crossed. The same applies to nature; if necessary, a whole forest can be cut down to build houses, boats or anything. After all, this is the logical cycle of everything. By contrast, the Lillium is completely opposed to senseless destruction, unnecessary battles or the indiscriminate devastation of nature. These things upset the balance of the world and harm The Mother.
In a manner similar to Alkavian myth, the Lillium believe that the souls of the dead go to The Land of Mist, a continent beyond the ocean. There they wait many years until The Mother needs them in the world of man again where they reappear as children without any recollection of their previous lives. Only in death do people recover their lost memories.
The Lillium have no need for cemeteries since their burial practices usually consist of burning the bodies using great bonfires of yew wood, the tree of souls. Another possibility, reserved only for important people, is to construct a boat and float the body down to the ocean, hoping to arrive alone in The Land of Mist.