Chauntea

Chauntea.jpg
Chauntea (pronounced Chawn-TEE-ah), the Grain Goddess or the Great Mother was the goddess of life3 and a parallel deity to Silvanus, who was considered the god of wild nature, whilst Chauntea herself was seen as being the embodiment of all things agrarian or agriculture. She was a goddess of agriculture, plants cultivated by humans, farmers, gardeners, and summer.

Some of her worshipers claimed that her divine glimmer gave life to the natural world, and some contended that she was the creator and source of all mortal races. In some sense Chauntea was the manifestation of the earth itself—the Avatar of the twin worlds Abeir-Toril. Her most despised enemy was Talona, the lady of pestilence, since she had a disposition to wreak suffering, disease and decay upon the natural world.

Worshipers
Chauntea was seen by Faerûnians as a critical aspect of the assumed cycle of life. Private land owners and destitute (perhaps as a consequence of an unproductive harvest) farmers visited the clerics of Chauntea for any divine suggestions for abetting the harvest. If at any time plague or drought struck the crops, farmers looked to Chauntea, since they hoped she would save the harvest, due to her love of nature.

The church was an approachable one, in that it welcomed all irrespective of gender or race. The liturgical doctrine of the church was such that it attracted more females than males, due to its preoccupation with femininity, and while female attendees outnumbered men, there was still a range of males that worshipped Chauntea.

Chaunteans maintained simplicity when it came to apparel. Druids preferred brown robes, and priests preferred to wear a brown cloak with more standard livery such as a tunic underneath.

In Rashemen she was worshiped as a member of the triumvirate of goddesses praised there known as The Three with Mielikki (Khelliara) and Mystra (The Hidden One). Here she was known as Bhalla. She was worshiped as Pahluruk in and around the Great Glacier.

In Kara-Tur she was worshiped as Chantea but only by an underground sect of paladins who were viewed with distrust or outright hostility depending on the country they were found in. In Wa, followers of Chantea were immediately put to death upon discovery. The Juzimura rebellion was noted as the official eradication of her religion in Wa, but there were suspected cells of underground worshipers in isolated areas.

Though she had a diverse collection of followers, Chauntea was fanatically worshiped by peasants, servants, Druids, gardeners, and any others who earned pay from working on farmland.

Clerical practice
Clerics prayed for their spells at sundown, as did druids. They usually led dual lives as either gardeners or farmers, and were industrious people. They were expected to appreciate natural beauty and possess a feeling for meditation. The clergy instructed Chauntea’s followers that they should make entreaties every sunrise. Compared to other faiths, ecclesiastics appointed few holidays. One holiday which was observed was a festival during Greengrass, which was a festival bordering on depravity and indulgence, where excessive consumption and uninhibited behavior was encouraged. Abundance was an important part of life worshiping the Great Mother. A rite of passage for many of the faith was concerned with Holy Communion. Newly married couples were instructed to spend their first night in fresh fields, supposedly to guarantee a fertile marriage.[citation needed]

The clergy observed and recognized the dogma set forth by Chauntea herself, and read the ‘High Prayers of the Harvest’, at a perennial ceremony, which was usually at the start of harvest.

Denominations with the holy order
The divided clergy of Chauntea was sectarian by nature. Associates of the Chauntean canonry wre divided into two camps. Those who ministerial positions, who advised farmers and workers all over, were named, appropriately, ‘Pastorals’. The wilder, untamed conclave, who were charged with preserving the wilderness, referred to themselves, albeit insouciantly, as ‘True Shapers’.

The deaconry had by no means any centralized governing body, and was not collective. It promoted individuality, and was far less unitary than other faiths.

Doctrine
The church outlined a general set of precepts and forbiddances, though some of these were given to subjective interpretation, since the faith was individualistic. Chaunteans saw wanton destruction as antithetical to the cycle of life. They were urged to nourish at least one living thing every day of their lives. They were advised to eschew fire also.

In terms of correct agricultural practice, the church advised that campaigns of replanting, prudent irrigation and crop rotation were necessary to ensure that the land was kept fertile. However, followers of Silvanus regarded these teachings with derision. They postulated that these practices were an abomination to the natural world and that agriculture was not conservation, but manipulation. They argued that their sect encouraged exploitation, overpopulation and this was in contradiction with nature. As a result, some proselytized to the Silvanite faith, though many “Pastorals” disregarded these criticisms.

Relationships
She had strong ties with other deities concerned with nature, such as Shiallia and Mielikki, and she shared a close relationship with Silvanus. As mentioned before, she opposed Talona with the utmost vehemence, due to her malefic intent in spreading poison and disease to the natural world. She was always in conflict with Talos.

History
Chauntea was believed to be one of the eldest gods in Faerûn— she was born when Toril was created by the primeval battles between Shar and Selûne. Selûne favored her and nurtured her with her light, with the help of Mystra. Chauntea battled deities who sought to desecrate and expunge nature; she opposed evil deities such as Malar and Bane, and viewed the latter’s resurgence as portentous. She was also known to have romantic affiliations with Lathander.

Before her days as the “Great Mother”, she was said to have been named Jannath, and in her early days, she frequented places of overgrown nature, wilderness and packs of animals. This role is now much more Silvanus’, though in the Moonshae Isles Chauntea is still worshiped as Jannath.

Chauntea

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