Arynian Purification Rituals

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Note! Though Arynians have many special names for some of these tasks, simply referring to them by their English translation within IC activities is fine ;D

Arynians place a great deal of emphasis on ritual purity and have many customs surrounding this practice in their lives. Vicars in particular routinely partake in these ancient rites, and they are often used to help a wolf frame their mind and body in preparation for any Spiritual labour. 

Ritual purity was once considered necessary before beseeching the One for anything, and coming before the Great Spirit with an unclean soul or body was a sign of great disrespect.

Though still considered a display of great reverence with considerable significance, nowadays it is not considered strictly necessary to physically purify one's self before prayer, pilgrimage, or meditation. 

Ritual cleansing is symbolic, and, in and of itself, it does not physically wash away wrongdoing or serve as an act of penance. It represents the intent of the individual to follow the Path and the One with an open heart.

Wolves should seek to approach the Great Spirit with humility and respect, even when struggling in the faith - for the One sees all and knows all, and deserves reverence even in the face of confusion or doubt. This is not to say that wolves should mask pain or anger, but rather, to acknowledge a higher purpose alongside mortal limitations. Aryn's purification rituals help achieve this clarity of mind. For many, they provide comfort and a sense of heavenly perspective.

An additional side effect of these customs is the remarkable cleanliness most Arynians display, which further contributes to the health and longevity of the pack body.



Anointing


Anointing is a form of symbolic consecration and is used in certain formal interactions. Anointing "oil" typically consists of juice crushed from rowan berries or in some cases, animal fat. Vicars perform this ritual on others, and typically recite a relevant verse or prayer alongside the action.

Guests
Guests are anointed with a sprinkling of oil upon their reception to the main den by the Lord or Lady. This signifies that for the duration of their stay, the guest should be welcomed and cared for as one of Aryn's own. They must be offered food and shelter within the densite, and protected from harm while in Aryn lands.

The Sickly
The sickly are sometimes anointed with rowan berries if it is believed an evil spirit torments them. They may also be "washed" in medicinal herbs for the purposes of healing and cleansing wounds.

Newborns
When given their names, cubs receive a small swipe of oil across their brow to welcome them into the pack and confirm their place within Aryn. After being anointed, the pups are usually carried from their secluded whelping den to the main den, so that scents can be learned and the youngsters can be socialized as they grow.

Newlyweds
If a packwide ceremony is held, newlyweds are anointed together with a paw's dab of oil between their ears, as a confirmation of their vows and new bond to one another.

Aryn's Leaders
Aryn's Grand Vicar, Lord, Lady, and Rah'at are anointed with a "crown" of oil, and prayed over at the time of their rise to authority, reminding them that their duty to the pack is a holy calling conferred upon them by the Great Spirit.



Ritual Impurity & Living Water


Ritual impurity, or tum'ah, can occur when wolves make contact with dead bodies, particularly the dead bodies of other wolves. It is important to note that touching a dead body is not considered sinful, it is simply spiritually dirtying in the same way that a newborn pup is messy and requires a bath after being born.

Though primarily associated with the dead, other ways of becoming ritually impure include contact with maggots or other grave-eating creatures, plague-infected animals, and anything the infected has also touched. If a dead body is found in an enclosed space, the area is considered unclean for a sennight, and anyone who enters it will be considered impure. Any perishable item within the area is also considered unclean and must be discarded.

In order to remove tum'ah, a wolf must submerge themselves in "living water." These are pure flowing pools formed by natural means, such as a river or waterfall. Being groomed by another wolf does not qualify one as ritually pure, the defiled must bathe in living water.

If possible within the circumstances of the defilement, unclean wolves are discouraged from mingling with their fellow packmates until they have bathed in an immersion pool. 

The most notable pools in Aryn territory are Rockhollow Tarn and Aveilim Falls.



Baptism


Baptisms take place when apprentices complete their training. The pack gathers together at the edge of a body of living water. The wolf to be baptized and a gamma-ranked or higher Vicar wade in. The Vicar recites the Guidance Verse and then submerges the wolf, ritually cleansing them. Afterward, the Vicar charges the rest of the pack to care for and recognize the baptized wolf as a Brother or Sister, and to care for them as though they are blood relatives. This is followed by celebration, typically a feast.

This practice confirms the unity of the pack and functions as a rite of passage for members.



Clean and Unclean Food


All herbivores and most insectivores and omnivores are considered consumable. Songbirds, fish, ungulates, rabbits, shellfish, squirrels, badgers, pheasants, etc. are all regularly hunted. Grave-eaters like maggots and buzzards, and other predators, such as bears, foxes, and coyotes MAY be consumed in times of great need - but only if all other game is unavailable. Cannibalism is strictly forbidden by Aryn law, except where an already deceased body will save a life that would otherwise perish. The hunting of another wolf is considered murder.

In all cases, at the time of death prey should be properly verbally thanked for its sacrifice and killed cleanly and with dignity. Food should not be consumed in excess and hunting should never be done for sport.



Shemirah & Tahara  - Burial Rituals


Processing grief is an intense process, especially for wolves of Aryn who are encouraged to speak and feel boldly. There are many traditions surrounding Arynian burials, most of which help mourners process their loss, and provide a routine and a structure to an otherwise chaotic event.

Death is considered the conclusion of a long journey for Arynians, and as such the passing of an individual is treated with great respect and a proper sendoff. Just as a helpless pup is washed clean when they are born, so is the body cleansed for a wolf when they pass on into the next life. Additional rituals serve to comfort those who live on after the departed.

It is believed that the spirit lingers around its body for three days after death, sometimes being greatly attached to and distressed to lose its mortal figure, or otherwise unwilling or unable move on. Without a proper sendoff, the spirit may become a dybbuk, and live trapped as a ghost between worlds. Through shemirah and tahara, living wolves can comfort the souls of the dead and help them to pass on to the next life with dignity and peace.

This process ties heavily into Arynian emphasis on the circle of time, and the dual nature of endings and beginnings. Death is not just the end of a wolf's mortal life, it is a new beginning for them on the spiritual plane!

From the time of death until the burial, the task of shemirah (lit. watching/guarding) is considered of utmost importance. A dead body cannot be left unattended. Family and friends of the deceased take turns; if the deceased had neither of these, then other Arynians will be asked to fill the role. Referred to as shomer for males and shomeret for females, these guardians are tasked with watching the body to prevent it from coming to any harm or indignity, as well as comforting the soul near it by their presence. They may sing spiritual verses, but cannot eat, drink, converse, or do anything else to distract from the task at hand. Shemira is a sacred rite, and the time should be spent reflecting on the life of the departed wolf.

The rituals for burial are collectively known as tahara. Vicars first groom the body, and then immerse it in living water. These cleanse the body physically and spiritually. For many Vicars, this is a deeply spiritual process, providing them with a keener appreciation for the both life and death. Vicars typically do not discuss the details of this process with mourners, but it is common for a higher level of solidarity to arise between the attending Vicars and aveilim (mourners.)

Afterwards, the body is laid in a clear, flat place and "dressed" with a branch from the Old Rowan, as well as flowers, feathers, and other decoration, and items the deceased may have had a special affinity for in life. Beforehand, these items are also washed clean in living water. This is symbolic preparation for the great and sacred journey their soul is about to embark on, in which they will be reunited with the One. Most bodies are laid near Falcon Creek or in High Country, but the base of Adamant Peak and the woods surrounding Rockhollow Tarn are also known places for interment.

The final step involves most of the pack, but particularly those closest to the one who has passed on. Each wolf takes at least one stone, washes it clean, and places it around the body. Stones are added until the body is entirely covered so that no insects or scavengers can easily reach it. After the burial is complete, those gathered sing cerdd requiem, a "Poem for the Dead," composed for the individual being buried about their life. Mourners may linger at the site and even visit it for Pilgrimage in years to come. Some will return to lay Rowan branches down when the tree blooms each year in remembrance.

Following the burial, seven days of mourning called shiva are practiced. Mourners undergo ritual purification after the completion of the burial mound. Packmates will provide these aveilim with a freshly gathered "Meal of Comforting" immediately upon their return home. This meal is provided to stave off the risk of aveilim starving themselves out of grief, and is additionally a display of compassion from pack Brothers and Sisters. For the next seven days, mourners remain at the densite together and sleep under the stars. They do not perform their routine tasks, but may participate in the Full Moon Festival should it fall on a day of mourning. Shiva is about comfort for aveilim, meant to stave off the loneliness of those left behind, and to remind them that there is still goodness and light in the world.

For one moon following the death, mourners typically recite prayers and abstain from excess pleasures. If especially close, such as children, siblings, mates, or total bros, mourners recite prayers for the departed daily until the return of the season (one year.)


Special thanks to Shichibi and Halkuonn !


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Aerial-Vew's avatar
I love these all so much