The principles of Grima are based on the Faedin teachings of the spiritual world, while simultaneously tracing its roots back to ancient customs practiced within Myrkir.
Followers of Grima are not worshipers, but practitioners. Grima does not have a pantheon, nor does it have disciples. At its core, Grima is about meditation, the worship of one’s ancestors, and the study of the veil that separates the physical and spiritual worlds.
In order to properly practice Grima, it is important to understand where it comes from. The ancient clans that once inhabited the regions of modern day Myrkir lived in a constant state of war and turmoil. The people revered honor, self-sacrifice, and forbearance as the tenets of society.
The constant conflict between clans, paired with the spiritualistic teachings of the Faedin, ancient warriors of these clans developed funeral rituals which honored the fallen with the blood of the living. The blood offering was thought to connect the fallen warriors with the living, comforting the spirits of their fallen comrades. These funerals were always performed at night, when the veil that separates the physical world with the spiritual is thought to be weakest.
The Veil and the Realm of Spirits
Energy flows through Elyria, permeating all living creatures and bringing them to life. When a creature dies, its energy passes into the spirit realm, crossing the barrier that separates the physical and spirit realms. This barrier is called the veil. A living consciousness is unable to pass through the veil into the spirit realm, though one can open oneself up to commune with the energy on the other side.
The veil exists to maintain an asymmetry between the energies of the two worlds, and offering respite to the deceased Elyrians once they cross over. The spirit world is thought to be one of peace and serenity, where souls may rest so they may one day return to Elyria.
If the veil were shattered, or otherwise bored open, a it is thought that a cataclysmic feedback of entropy would tear the physical world apart. Some Grima scholars believe this is how the world will end, and this coalescence will bring a balance to the universe along with everlasting peace. Though living consciousness will no longer exist, the energy of all living creatures will remain in eternal harmony.
It is held that some individuals possess the ability to commune directly with the spirits of dead Elyrians, though years of meditation and practice are required to do such a feat.
Over a century ago, the first Umbra envisioned a realm where the energy of deceased creatures resided. In this realm, towers upon towers of records were kept, recounting the deeds of each soul that resided in Elyria. The Umbra prophesized that an Elyrian of unmeasurable talent to harness spirit energy would one day walk with a living consciousness through the great halls and bring about The Coalescing and the balance of the universe.
“ And thus, the veil shall be pierced. The Grima shall fall and the world shall Coalesce. Do not weep, child of the Mani, for nigh has the balance come, and eternal harmony there shall be”
One could be forgiven for having the false impression that practitioners of Grima worship the dead, or the blood that once coursed through their veins, but this is a simple ignorance of the larger picture.
There exists a connection between the two realms of spirit and physical. Energy that will one day transfer into the spirit world needs a physical manifestation in order to bring the creatures of Elyria to life. This manifestation is blood; the life-giving ichor that flows through all creatures. When a living creature passes over into the spirit world, their energy slowly transitions into the spirit realm. As they transition, much of their energy lingers in their blood, forming a temporary connection into the spirit world.
Through blood, we all share a connection to the veil, and thus, to the realm of spirits. Through blood, one can pierce the veil and commune with the souls of the ancients and harness the energy on the other side. Given blood is a biological manifestation, the blood of a dead creature is subject to decomposition and its connection to the spirit realm are fleeting.
It is said that some Elyrians possess the ability to use their own blood, as it courses through their bodies, to commune with the spirit world. Through years of practice and meditation, these individuals may find and lead lost souls of the recently deceased back to the physical realm. Some cultures refer to this practice as Spirit Walking, in Grima it is referred to as Gandr.
Practitioners under Moonlight and the Observation of Natta
Tracing its root back to its ancestry, Grima still observes traditions once held dear to ancient practitioners. One such practice is to hold its ceremonies at night and to observe its holidays during the long nights of winter.
During the shadow of night, the veil is at its weakest, allowing more energy transfer to occur between the two worlds. For this reason, the practitioners of Grima still observe the ancient traditions under moonlight. The moon is thought to be significant because it gives its faint light during the twilight hours. Old tribes of Myrkir once thought it to be spirit energy incarnate.
During winter, when the nights are at their longest, the Season of Natta is observed. Natta is celebrated by festivities during the days and great feasts during the long nights. Although exceptions are made during times of war, Natta is a season of embracing the living connection to the realm of spirits.
During the longest night of the year, a great sacrifice is made to pay homage to the souls lost through the year, and to pay tribute to the ancestors. The sacrifice is the bridge used to commune with the spirit real, therefore the constitution of the sacrifice is a direct reflection of the strength of the bond between the worlds. A willing participant may be sacrificed, or a fierce beast of the forest may be captured and sacrifice for the ritual, which is referred to as Skadi and will be detailed in a later chapter of this book.
The ritual of Skadi is typically performed by a Penumbra or the Umbra, though anyone may perform it if one is unavailable. After the observation of Skadi, a great feast is held and Natta is ended.
The Umbra and Penumbra
In Grima, there are practitioners who base their lives on the understanding of the connection between the two worlds, and base their lives on gaining a greater insight into the veil and its secrets. These practitioners are given the title of Penumbra. Many Penumbra are known to possess the ability to Gandr and may actively commune with the spirits of the dead.
The Penumbra typically live in the centers of ritualistic practice called Munr and will frequently venture out into their towns and cities to commune with the population. A Penumbra is caught between two worlds and is one who strives to gain a greater understanding of both.
An Umbra is one who has been selected by the Penumbra to lead rituals of great importance and who has gained an unparalleled insight into the realm of spirits and the nature of the veil. The Umbra is the leader of the practitioners of Grima and therefore makes decisions affecting the practices. The Umbra may decide to alter a ritual or create a new ritual which he or she has found to have more promising results in relation to communing with the veil.
The Rituals of Grima
Rituals in Grima serve to offer a brief connection to the veil, allowing for the flow of energy between the two worlds. This connection may be used to commune with spirits, or to channel the energy found on the other side. Blood which has undergone the Dreyri or Bita may be preserved, though fresh blood is typically preferred, as it is purer. Rituals performed during twilight hours are typically preferred, due to the veil being at its weakest.
The rituals may serve various purposes, which shall be outlined in the list below.
- Dreyri: The routine sacrifice and preparation of blood for other rituals. The Dreyri is the most commonly performed ritual, as it is required to honor the creature who has given its blood. As the chosen sacrifice is slaughtered, or during the bleeding of the sacrifice, the words, “Mani:kend fa thaksir dreyrugr blota. Ykkarr sal kveykva leid skerjal ek Grima” are spoken to honor the sacrifice. The words are spoken in the old tongue and are loosely translated into We, the children of the Moon give thanks to the sacrifice of your blood. Your soul lights the path which pierces through the veil. Though this ritual is typically performed by a Penumbra, it may be utilized by any practitioner which has gained a keen understanding of the nature of the veil. The blood from the sacrifice is kept on ice to preserve it, and it may be used for many other rituals or alchemical processes.
- Bita: The Bita is a ritual of self-sacrifice where the practitioner offers his or her own blood to the veil while reciting the words, “Gjalda blod rej gildi ek Grima ‘ Bjoda ek Sali forn sitja” which roughly translates from the old tongue as I give my blood as an offering to the veil, and I summon the souls of the ancients by my side. The blood is sanctified and may be used as an offering for ritual.
- Nysa: During this ritual, the blood of a sacrifice, which has undergone the Dreyri or the Bita, is consumed or worn by the practitioner, or may be used to scrawl the ritual circle on the ground. The blood most commonly used is from the Bita ritual, rather than that of the Dreyri. Once the blood has been consumed or scrawled with, the practitioner begins to meditate in order to commune with the veil. The Nysa is a ritual commonly performed by practitioners.
- Rekkr: A ritual used commonly by soldiers in preparation for battle, the Rekkr uses blood which has undergone the Dreyri or Bita. The blood may be used to coat the weapons and armor of warriors, or may be consumed or worn as war paint. The blood offers a connection to the veil, and sends warriors into a frenzy as they channel the energy of ancient warriors in battle.
- Elska: The Elska is performed during wedding ceremonies, being used to merge the energy of the two, binding their souls in both life and death. The ceremony is presided over by a Penumbra, who creates a ritual circle with the blood of either a Dreyri or Bita. The two participants stand within the ritual circle, recite the words of the Bita as the bleed themselves, then offer their blood to each other. The blood is consumed by each partner, and the ceremony is closed by the presiding Penumbra offering a gift to the couple; usually a set of rings blessed by a Bita.
- Deyja: As practitioners rely on the energy from souls which have passed onto the spirit realm, it is only right to honor the dead in a funeral ritual. Practitoners who wish to mourn the passing gather around the funeral pyre and recite the words, “Blod ek ve Blod : gildi minn veita ykkarr Sali. Vegr vel minn:vinr”, which loosely translates into Blood of my Blood; I offer a tribute of myself to your soul. Travel well, my friend.
- Horgr: A ritual used to sanctify a location, creating a Munr, which may be used as a conduit for future rituals. The Ritual circle is first scrawled with the blood from a Dreyri or Bita, then the circle is inscribed in a more permanent way. Once the ritual circle is in place, the words, “Andi ek forn heita ykkarr ‘ lofa gildi kveykva yokkvar leid.” Are recited, which translate into Spirits of the ancients, I call to you, let this offer light your path.
- Skadi: Performed once a year during the longest night of the year, the Skadi is intended to pay homage to the losses of the past year and to prepare for the year to come. A sacrifice of great constitution is offered to the veil: either a willing human sacrifice or a powerful beast. A ritual circle is scrawled with blood from the Penumbra as he or she recites the Bita. The sacrifice is placed within the circle, and the Dreyri is performed. As the sacrifice is bled, celebrators gather around and collect a small cup of the blood and recite the Dreyri, then consume the blood. An hour of meditation is then performed, followed by a great feast.
Ritual Circle used in many Grima rituals
The circle is slightly skewed to represent the asymmetry between the two realms.
The following are words derived from the old tongue. First, the translation of the word will be given, then the modern-day usage will be outlined.
Bita: To cut or bite. The word is used to describe the ritual of self-sacrifice.
Deyja: To pass on, or to die. The word is used to describe the funeral ritual.
Dreyri: Blood, or to become bloody. The ritual is performed when sanctifying the blood of a sacrifice.
Elska: Affection; to love. This ritual is performed to join two people in marriage.
Gandr: Walking staff used by the first Umbra, which she used to focus her energy and walk through the spirit world. The modern usage is to spirit walk and actively commune with the souls of the dead.
Grima: Veil, or veil of night. The name of the religious practice stems from the knowledge of the veil which separates the realms of the living and dead. The principle behind the practice of Grima is to understand the veil and to find a way to consciously pierce it and subsequently communing with the energy on the other side.
Horgr: A sanctuary or altar used for sacrifice. This is a ritual used in the creation of a Munr for future rituals.
Mani: Moon. The ancient tribes of Myrkir thought the moon to be spirit energy incarnate, and thus named themselves the Mani:Kend, or Children of the Moon.
Munr: Heart, or central location. The modern usage is to describe a location that has been sanctified and acts as a conduit for spirit energy. A Penumbra will typically reside in this location.
Natta: Becoming night. The Natta is the month-long celebration of the winter, where feasts occur each night in honor of the dead. These feasts are in preparation for the final celebration of the Skadi.
Nysa: To search; investigate. The ritual in which a practitioner uses blood to meditate.
Penumbra: the partially shaded outer region of the shadow cast by an opaque object. Given the relationship between Grima and the night, the chief practitioners are referred to as Penumbra. These practitioners are well studied in Grima and possess great knowledge about the veil and the spirit world.
Rekkr: Warrior. This ritual is performed in preparation of battle.
Skadi: Loss. This ritual is performed on the last night of Natta and is meant to pay homage to the souls lost over the course of the last year.
Umbra: The fully shaded inner region of a shadow cast by an opaque object. The chief penumbra that has gained the most insight into the veil. Can alter rituals and practices.
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