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The church of Selûne (pronounced: /sɛˈlnɛseh-LOON-eh[5][2][3] or: /sɛˈlnseh-LOON-ay[7]) was the primary religious organization dedicated to the worship and service of the goddess Selûne, Our Lady of Silver. They were commonly called Selûnites.[5] [1] [6] [2] [3] [7] [4] [9] [8] [10] [11] [12][note 1] In the Shining Lands of Durpar, Estagund, and Var the Golden, Selûne was known as Lucha, She Who Guides, and her worship was part of belief in the Adama.[2]

DogmaEdit

The highest principle of Selûne's ethos was acceptance and tolerance. She bade the faithful to encourage and exemplify acceptance, equality and equal access, tolerance, and understanding; to treat all other beings as equals; and to make all welcome in the faith.[6][2][3][7][4] Fellow Selûnites were treated as dear friends and were to be aided freely.[2][3][7][4] They were to be as helpful and friendly to lonely and goodly people as was feasible.[2][3] Taught to be compassionate, they were usually patient and accepting of everybody, with an understanding ear and a healing hand.[4]

Worshipers were also urged to be humble and self-reliant, to use common sense and practicality,[2][3][7][4] and to find their own practical paths through life to be as successful as possible while not neglecting their compassion for others. This long-sighted approach allowed priests to grow content, happy, and prominent, and saw the clergy gain influence and strength.[2][3] Indeed, in Durpar, they believed Lucha would guide her worshipers to the most profitable customers.[2] Selûne made few demands on her followers and was lenient on issues of alignment and religious observance,[2][3] so practical, common sense and following one's own path were more important than details of faith or strict performance of ritual.[2][3][4]

The goddess taught guidance through observation of the heavens[4] and that life changed like the moon waxed and waned.[2][3][7][4] As ever force in the world ebbed and flowed, she encouraged her followers to never lose faith or lose hope. Yet they were still to struggle to hold back the tide of evil and bring light to the darkness.[8]

Let all on whom my light falls be welcome if they desire to be so. As the silver moon waxes and wanes, so too does all life. Trust in my radiance, and know that all love alive under my light shall know my blessing. Turn to the moon, and I will be your true guide.
— Selûne's words, charged to novices[2][3][7][4]

The church also had an ideology of female empowerment. Women were honored for their roles as teachers and as role models in society and in the family. Selûnite doctrine implied that the moon had a subtle effect on the natural cycles of the female body; at a full moon, a female cleric felt closest to the goddess. Milk was seen as a symbol of motherhood and the sustaining power of the feminine.[4] Followers of Lucha believed she watched over all marriages performed by her clergy.[2]

The goddess exhorted the faithful to find those who carried the curse of lycanthropy, and to cure those who desired release from their affliction, and to destroy who surrendered to the beast inside.[8]

TerminologyEdit

Selûnites had their own terms for night-time conditions. When the moon was out, even if not visible, it was known as "moonlight". When the moon was dark or not out, it was known as "nightgloom".[2][3]

ActivitiesEdit

There were broadly two kinds of Selûnite clergy: those who remained at the temples (often but not necessarily due to age or infirmity), and those who wandered Faerûn. Their duties were similar but distinct.[4]

Temple priests provided healing to the community and tended to the residents of asylums and sanitariums, which often adjoined their temples. As the goddess bade them, they were generous with their healing magic and charged very little for it.[2][3][7][4] Instead, the temple priests made good money by practicing astrology and telling fortunes. With divine guidance, they were more successful than ordinary folk.[2][3][7][4]

May Selûne guide your steps in the night, and bring them to the new dawn.
— A common blessing by priests to the faithful.[2][3]

Itinerant priests spread the faith by seeking out and keeping in touch with both existing and potential worshipers, in the belief that Selûne could be worshiped anywhere.[2][3][4] Such priests also provided healing, usually asking for nothing more than a meal and a warm place to rest.[2][3] They practiced humility and self-reliance.[7] These habits kept the clergy well-traveled, resilient, and in touch with the natural world in a practical manner.[2][3]

Wandering priests also kept watch for people afflicted with madness or lycanthropy. They would heal or help them if they could, or else escort them to the closest Selûnite temple, where senior clerics could aid them.[4] Both kinds of priests were united in opposing evil lycanthropes when they threatened a community. They were fearless and did all they could to uncover, cure, or eliminate the affliction of lycanthropy. Such struggles won them the respect of farmers and the common people.[2][3][7][4]

In Durpar in the Shining Lands, almost all marriages were conducted by priests of Lucha, as it was believed that the goddess watched over all marriages performed by her priests.[2]

OrganizationEdit

Silverstar

A human and a werebat, united under Selûne as silverstars.

MembershipEdit

With the faith of Selûne promoting equality and understanding for all, and with her wide assortment of worshipers, her priesthood were just as diverse and eclectic.[6][7] Nevertheless, the great majority of members were women,[4] and the senior ranks were dominated by female humans.[2][3] There were also a scattered few lycanthropes, both natural and afflicted, but all of good heart.[1][2][3][7] They all worshiped Selûne in their own personal ways,[2][3] but whatever their differences they were friendly to one another and cooperated in relative but boisterous peace.[1][2][3][7] However, with such variety, they could divide into many different factions; the order of silver ladies was established to better accommodate them.[13]

HierarchyEdit

Suiting the goddess's chaotic and changeable ways, the church hierarchy was highly variable, shifting from location to location and even with the predictable phase of the moon and other, unpredictable heavenly events.[1][4] It was a jumble of clerics and specialty priests, crusaders and mystics, and blessed or well-informed lay worshipers.[1][2][3] The silverstar specialty priests were elite members of the church.[2]

TitlesEdit

The clergy of Selûne were known collectively as "Selûnites", which was also the adjective for the faith.[1][2][3][7][4]

The clergy held a wide assortment of titles. Novices were always known as the Called, while a full priest was known as Priestess or Priest, typically prefaced by Touched, Enstarred, Moonbathed, Silverbrow, Lunar, Initiate, and High Initiate, in order of increasing rank. Higher-ranked clergy were instead known as "Priestess/Priest of the…" followed by a term traditional to the shrine or temple with which the priest was affiliated. For example, Priestess of the High Moonlight Naneatha Suaril was high priestess of the House of the Moon in Waterdeep. Such was the case in the time of Netheril and in the great temples of cities like Waterdeep in the 14th century DR, but there were many variations at country shrines and temples and in other lands.[2][3]

The specialty priests were called silverstars, in both the time of Netheril and in the 14th century DR.[2][3]

ClassesEdit

The church of Selûne commonly included among its ranks clerics, the elite specialty priests known as silverstars, crusaders, and mystics.[2] In the time of Netheril, however, the spellcasting clergy were only silverstars.[3] Clerics and specialty priests alike were able to turn undead like many other good and neutral priests.[2][3] From 1372 DR, clerics would often also train as bards, sorcerers, or become silverstars.[7][4] After this time, silverstars were the prestigious champions of the faith.[14][15][9] Other clergy could be druids and rangers.[16] There were also a number of lay worshipers who could not cast spells and had no special talents.[2][3]

In the time of Netheril, all clergy were good-aligned, but by the 14th century DR they widened to include neutral members.[2][3] After 1372 DR, clerics were chaotic good or similar.[7][4]

OrdersEdit

Moon knight

A moon knight out on a moonlit night.

The church of Selûne was associated with a number of religious orders:

The church was also affiliated with the Harpers.[2]

RitualsEdit

The diverse faithful all paid homage to Selûne in their own individual ways, often adapting the standard rituals into very personalized, even unique rites.[2][3] However, there were still many commonalities and shared matters of faith. Many rituals revered a woman's role as a teacher and role model, both in the home and in society. Milk, a sacred fluid, was a vital holy substance in ceremonies.[4] Rituals often involved offerings of milk or wine and dancing, and were performed as personal matters.[7] Followers of the Moonmaiden would often set bowls of milk outside on nights when the moon was full.[21]

Clerics prayed for their spells at night while facing the moon, if it was out and visible.[7][4]

During the full moon, a female cleric would perform morning ceremonies to make herself receptive to special insights, intuition, and visions. This was in the belief that the moon subtly influenced the cycles of the female body, and thus she felt closest to Selûne during the full moon.[4]

A regular ritual was the "night stalk", as it was often known, an occasion for worship and communion with the goddess, in which the clergy reaffirmed their nearness to the Night White Lady.[5][2][3] This could be just a simple solitary night-time walk under the moonlight, hence its name.[5] More involved ceremonies involved dances under the open sky and prayers in the moonlight, with libations of milk and wine over a central altar. These were held on the nights of every full moon and new moon.[2][3][22][note 2] For example, High Initiate Courynna Jacerryl would pour milk and wine over a moonstone-inlaid altar, then dance while chanting a prayer. She would be mimicked by junior clerics, who felt honored to participate. They could even dance until they collapsed in exhaustion.[22]

It is a blessed night, and a good sign for you all, that Our Lady of Silver considers you worthy to see her gift.
— High Initiate Courynna Jacerryl, upon receiving moonfire[22]

If the goddess was pleased by a ceremony, she bathed the milk or wine poured on the altar with moonlight, transforming it into a holy substance known as moonfire. This crept away from the altar to touch or envelop whatever the goddess chose, in turn enchanting items, empowering the faithful, and destroying undead.[2][3][22] When moonfire appeared, the clergy considered it a good sign, believing the night was blessed and they were worthy. Those it touched were thought to be marked for a special destiny.[22][note 3]

The most sacred rituals, observed by all clergy, were the Mystery of the Night, an annual holy day, and the rare Conjuring of the Second Moon.[2][7][4]

The Mystery of the Night was the most sacred ritual; every priest was required to perform it at least once a year. The priests cast certain secret spells than prostrated themselves before an altar, where they fell into a deep trance. Then they flew upwards, to spiral around the night sky and even to circle the moon. Meanwhile, they communed and communicated personally with Selûne through mental visions. This was draining and injurious, but easily healed with time or magic.[2][3][7][4][22][note 4]

The Conjuring of the Second Moon was conducted only on Shieldmeet, a day that occurred once every four years. Every Shieldmeet, at every temple to Selûne in Faerûn, the clergy chanted in coordination and the confluence of their devotional energy summoned the Shards, the planetar servants of the goddess. For one night only, the Shards would do as the clergy bade them, most often to combat the minions and dark forces of Shar. However, at dawn the next day, the Shards elevated one mortal priestess to their ranks, before they departed for the planes.[2][7][4][note 5]

BasesEdit

Anywhere the full moon shines is the place for Selûne.
— Selûnite saying[1][2][3][4][9]

Shrines & TemplesEdit

Suiting the changeable and individual nature of both church and goddess, the holy sites of Selûne varied across the land. They ranged from simple shrines, such as those in the Dalelands and oft in the wilderness, to amazing opulent temples like the House of the Moon in Waterdeep. There were also humble hermitages, hilltop circles in which worshipers danced in the night, and ornate temple mansions, which were huge edifices with open-air courtyards or great skylights. Nevertheless, there was a widespread preference for smaller shrines and individual worship.[1][6][2][3][7][4] Common features were feminine symbols, small gardens, and reflecting ponds.[4] Selûnite temples were often adjoined by asylums and sanitariums, the residents of which the clergy cared for.[4]

Notable LocationsEdit

Although the church had no central base, its greatest and most magnificent temple was the House of the Moon in Waterdeep in the 14th century DR. Because of it, much Selûnite activity took place in Waterdeep and its environs.[1][6][2]

In the Shining Lands, where Selûne was known as Lucha, the city of Lastarr was a hub of her faith. The folk here favored the worship of She Who Guides.[2]

The legendary city of Myth Lharast, lying somewhere in Amn, was founded as a whole city of Selûne's faithful. Though it fell into the grip of evil beings, Selûnites still hoped to liberate and restore it.[2]

SymbolEdit

Selune symbol 4e

The holy symbol of Selûne in the form of a silver pendant.

The symbol of the church was the holy symbol of the goddess: a pair of eyes, of a darkly beautiful human woman, encircled by seven silver stars.[5][1][6][2][3][7][4][8][9] This was typically carved into or out of moonstone and fashioned into an item of jewelry.[3]

PossessionsEdit

DressEdit

The original ceremonial dress of the priests of Selûne during the time of Netheril consisted of white robes, which could be either plain and unadorned or embroidered with silver and decorated with moonstones; a circlet of woven flowers or vines worn around the head, and no shoes. A high priest carried as their symbol of office a wooden staff wrapped with silver, including silver flowers and vines, and topped with a moonstone.[3] By the 14th century DR, the priests of Lucha in the Shining Lands still wore white robes, circlets of flowers and vines, and no shoes, while priests carried staffs wrapped with flowers and vines.[2] In the city of Yhaunn, young acolytes of Moonshadow Hall wore blue and silver robes.[23]

Meanwhile, the later priests of Selûne had highly variable ceremonial costumes. The most humble wore plain brown robes, while others wore normal clothes accented with but a little moonstone jewelry. The grandest and haughtiest wore only the very finest attire, such as expensive gowns bedecked with jewels, with magical and animated capes and trains, and crowns set with moonstones. For example, Naneatha Suaril, high priestess of the House of the Moon in Waterdeep, presided over ceremonies in a majestic dress with a wide-bottomed hooped skirt and a great fan-like collar ascending from the back of her neck, both stiffened with whalebone, all set with clusters of pearls and other precious stones.[1][2]

In everyday life, Selûnites wore fashionable but not gaudy attire. In their work, they adopted whatever was practical for the task at hand.[2][3]

WeaponsEdit

In battle, Selûnites preferred a certain kind of mace they called "the Moon's Hand".[1][2][3][4] A Moon's Hand had a smooth head[1][2][3] representing the moon in a specific phase. Each temple had its own preferred phase for their Moon's Hands.[4] It was otherwise identical to a typical footman's mace,[1][2][3] light mace, or heavy mace, with the clergy favoring the heavy mace.[4]

MagicEdit

Magic ItemsEdit

The goddess was generous with her gifts.[1][2][3]

The clergy gathered "drops fallen from the moon", the holy essence of Selûne[5][2][3] that fell from her avatars, moon motes, and manifestations[2][3] or were believed to fall from the Tears of Selûne, the asteroids that trailed the moon.[5] They prized these, for they were a powerful ingredient in many beneficial potions and healing drafts and ointments.[5][2][3]

The holy substance called moonfire could, at the goddess's direction, envelop and enchant items to create a variety of magic items for use by the clergy. These included:[2][3][22]

Handfire

A cleric of Selûne casting the handfire spell.

SpellsEdit

A number of spells and prayers were unique to Selûnite priests or were closely associated with them:

Clerics, druids, and rangers initiated into the higher secrets of the church could choose all these spells and were greatly skilled in casting auguries and divinations.[16]

RelationshipsEdit

Selune symbol 5e

The holy symbol of Selûne displayed on a standard.

The eternal war between Selûne and Shar was waged through their servitor creatures and mortal worshipers and thus their respective religions, reflecting the unending tension between good and light versus evil and dark. Hence, the church of Selûne had been war with the church of Shar since their beginnings. When followers of each faith encountered one another, open battle invariably broke out.[6][2][27]

Most good folk of Faerûn respected the Selûnite clergy, though few understood the details of the faith. Common people saw them as mysterious, but knew them as a force of good and foes of werebeasts and undead, and as caretakers of the ill and the mad.[4]

In Durpar, the clergy of Lucha enjoyed the worship of almost everyone in the land. They struggled tirelessly against the followers of Mask and other dark deities.[2]

HistoryEdit

The Selûnite religion was an ancient one in Faerûn.[4]

In the Time of NetherilEdit

Selûne was worshiped by the Netherese in the ancient empire of Netheril.[28] A temple dedicated to Selûne, the Abbey of the Moon, was established in −3847 DR.[29][30]

Modern HistoryEdit

The Time of TroublesEdit

In the Year of Shadows, 1358 DR, the Time of Troubles came, magic went awry, and the gods were forced to walk the Realms in mortal form. One night, a purported avatar of Selûne arrived in Waterdeep and summoned the faithful to the House of the Moon, where she was welcomed by high priestess Naneatha Suaril. The avatar promised the faithful her grace and protection. However, one did not believe her: Luna, the true avatar of Selûne, who'd come with her friend Vajra to see for herself. As the mob of worshipers and then the temple guards subdued Vajra, Luna confronted the avatar and the two engaged in a spell battle on the steps of the temple. Finally, the priests gave the false avatar the Wand of the Four Moons and she used it to knock out Luna. The temple guards took Luna prisoner at the avatar's direction.[31] Her true identity as Selûne unknown, Luna was kept as a "special guest"—prisoner—at the House of the Moon for a dozen days. The false Selûne had her completely under her control.[32]

Selune v Shar DC Comics

Selûne's light blasting Shar's Rod of Oblivion, during their battle over Waterdeep.

Learning of this, Luna's friends Vajra, Kyriani, Onyx, and Timoth resolved to rescue her from the temple.[33] Their infiltration of the temple culminated in a battle with the Lunatics. The heroes unmasked one of Lunatics, expecting the dark goddess Shar but finding instead a brainwashed Luna.[32] Witnessing the battle, Naneatha began to question the false Selûne, who soon revealed her murderous intent. Learning that Luna was truly Selûne and that the false avatar was in fact Shar, Naneatha defiantly shoved her off the temple balcony. Her near self-sacrifice bought time for Luna and her friends to escape the temple.[34][35] Later that night, Luna transformed fully into an avatar of Selûne, and famously battled Shar over the streets of Waterdeep, her light blasting away Shar's darkness.[2][34][36][37] It became a local legend of the faithful that during the Time of Troubles Selûne battled Shar in Waterdeep[36] hurling her down amongst the city's spires.[2]

Recent HistoryEdit

Following the Godswar of 1358 DR, with her growing faith, theologians of the 1360s DR predicted Selûne would once again be elevated among the gods, possibly within their own lifetimes.[2]

In the aftermath of the Time of Troubles, the clergy grew in strength. To atone for being tricked by Shar, Naneatha launched a crusade against Shar's followers and had driven them out of the city by 1372 DR. Naneatha had also firmly supported the establishment of the Order of the Blue Moon, dedicated to both Selûne and Mystra.[35]

After the Spellplague happened in the Year of Blue Fire, 1385 DR, Selûne became a popular deity across Faerûn, as her priesthood made pilgrimages to every corner of the continent, wanting to bring hope to people in those desperate times.[38]

AppendixEdit

NotesEdit

  1. There is no known proper name for the overall body of clergy dedicated to Selûne, nor is there a unified formal organization. Instead, the term "church of Selûne" is adopted for discussion and wiki purposes; the phrase "church of Selûne" is mentioned in several sources about it.
  2. The "night stalk" changed from a "solitary moonlit walk" (where the name is more fitting) in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Set to open-air dances and libations in Faiths & Avatars and later sources. It is unclear if these are meant to be the same or alternative "night stalk" ceremonies. It should be noted that, at the new moon, the moon is not seen and hence there is no (natural) moonlight for such ceremonies.
  3. Magic of Faerûn, page 17, has the Mystery of the Night ritual be a precursor to producing moonfire. However, while the prior sources discuss moonfire immediately after the Mystery of the Night, it is not necessarily the case that the Mystery produces moonfire. Instead, the conditions described for creating moonfire are the same as those of the night stalk. With both in mind, this article treats moonfire as potentially being produced from any ritual.
  4. Magic of Faerûn, page 17, merges the night stalk and the Mystery of the Night rituals, essentially renaming the night stalk as the Mystery of the Night. This article separates the two for clarity and treats the described ritual as a night stalk.
  5. Netheril: Empire of Magic reprints Selûne's write-up in Faiths & Avatars, copying the Mystery of the Night but neglecting the Conjuring of the Second Moon. This suggests the Conjuring of the Second Moon was introduced sometime after the Fall of Netheril.

AppearancesEdit

ReferencesEdit

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