Silvanus, the Forest Father, is the god of nature, though formerly considered only the god of wild nature and druids. Silvanus is one of the oldest and most prominent deities in Faerûn, and the wilder counterpart to Chauntea the Earthmother (who are both on good terms). His worshipers protect places of nature from the encroachment of civilization with vigor and are implacable foes of industrious peoples. He is served by Eldath and Mielikki, and many of the followers of one deity venerate the others as well.
The church of Silvanus is often referred to as the Greenleaf Priesthood after the symbol of its deity. Silvanus has a strong base among both clerics in urban areas and druids in the wilder territories. Like Chauntea he calls both his dear children, but in his case the druids are the favored of the two. Silvanus also has a few shamans among the nomadic and barbarian societies of Faerûn who spread his word of balance and respect for nature while tending to their tribes' needs.
Silvanus's clergy are spread throughout Faerûn, favoring small communities over large cities. Non-worshipers often view the church unfavorably due to its tendency to disrupt expansion into woodland, sometimes with violence.
Druids are the leaders and the backbone of the Greenleaf priesthood and are most favored by Silvanus if they dwell in the forest and live in harmony with the land, where they are best able to be the stewards of Faerûn's wild places. Urban clergy of Silvanus more often become gardeners, trying to create a walled corner of wild forest in the city (or guard and revitalize an existing miniature wood). They often seek to attract followers by preaching of the peace and purity of the wilds and dispensing herbs and sweetsap drinks (especially maple syrup, mint teas, and sweetroot brews).
Most Silvanite clerics, sometimes referred to as Forest Masters, also function as druids or rangers.
Most disturbances of the sacred Balance are due to too-heavy hunting or farming, which bring with them land clearances-essentially population pressures. The greenleaf priesthood is kept busy working to redirect development and control populations through covert sponsorship of brigands, breeding and selective placing of predators, and other means. It is essential that such work is as secretive as possible, so that most folk view the servants of Silvanus as essentially benign lovers of trees. Wildlife breeding, nursing sick animals, and replanting trees and wild shrubs are all work that should be done as publicly as possible to support this perception-and as necessary work to redress the slipping Balance, of course.
To do this work properly, two skills are essential to all Silvanite clergy: learning through instruction and lifelong study the intricate workings of the life-cycles of all living creatures in Faerûn and learning to take the long-term view so that the manifold implications of every action and combination of actions can be seen clearly well into the future. By planning for the long term, Silvanite clergy hope never to take a serious mishap and worsen any shift of the Balance. Superior patience, natural knowledge, and anticipation are the hallmarks of a worthy servant of Silvanus. They are also the qualities that make any Silvanite priest a deadly foe. A Silvanite should never be surprised and always be three or four steps ahead of an opponent, prepared for victories well beyond the battles than an enemy can see.
VestmentsThe ceremonial dress for both clerics and druids of Silvanus is a suit of armor made of overlapping leaves. For clerics, the leaves are made of metal plates and the suit functions as a set of scale mail. For druids, the leaves are made of green-tinted leather and the suit functions as leather armor. Either set is worn with green breeches and shirt.
In urban areas, where the clerics outnumber the druids, the standard dress has been simplified to a verdigrised-copper pin worn on the breast when a priest is not involved with the High Ceremonies.
When adventuring, druids and clerics of Silvanus may wear their ceremonial armor or switch to something less flamboyant, depending on their mission. They are usually very practical in their dress, choosing outfits to suit the situation at hand.
Many of the wilder druids take to wearing only a loose, dusty brown cloak made of old hides adorned with feathers and carefully watered, woven-in clumps of mosses from day to day. Sometimes this body cloak is augmented by fur leggings or high boots. This garb, worn by priestesses of the Forest Father, has given rise to tales of wild women of the woods in many places around the Realms.
HierarchyThe church of Silvanus consists of a central hierarchy dominated by druids, but many members, particularly clerics and rangers, stand outside the formal hierarchy. The structure of the church is patterned after the circles of the ancient druids. A highranking druid, called an arch druid, leads most circles and members are all considered an initiates of varying level. Each arch druid in turn reports to the grand druid of the region, and all the grand druids in turn report to the great druid of the faith. The last is a difficult office that is never held by any one individual for more than a few years. Former officeholders are considered elders of the faith.
TemplesSilvanus's church largely eschews formal temples and favors small communities over large cities, although clusters of his clerics work in large cities to create garden-like walled areas of wild forest within the city limits. Most of the faithful worship the Oak Father amidst stands of forest giants, particularly ancient oak trees, or within rings of standing stones set deep within the great forests of Faerun.
RitualsPriests of Silvanus pray to the Forest Father at all times, though the god seems to respond best to prayers at sunset and in moonlight. Greegrass, Midsummer Night, Higharvestide, and the Night the Forest Walks are holy days to the greenleaf priesthood. The Night the Forest Walks can occur at any time during the year. It is a night when Silvanus is restless, and trees move, streams and ravines change their courses, and caves open and close in the forest. Forest-dwelling monsters are often stirred into action, and forest magic is especially strong and apt to go wild.
Many rituals of worship to the god take place in a crown stand of tall, ancient trees on a hilltop. The god must always be worshiped by sacrifice-but never by blood sacrifice. Instead, something made from material taken from a wood must be ceremonially broken and buried—not burned. For example, a cart, wagon, or chair fashioned from the wood or felled trees could become a sacrifice to Silvanus.
The simplest prayer to Silvanus is the Call of Oak, Ash, and Thorn, wherein a priest gathers leaves of the three named sorts of trees, floats them on water, and entreats Silvanus to hear a prayer. For deeper concerns (a conversation with a servant of the god, or the receipt of godly favors or magical powers) a Vigil is often employed: The worshiper anoints his or her own body with a powder of crushed acorns and mistletoe leaves mixed with rainwater or spring water and lies down on, or in contact with, a growing tree for most of a night. Some part of the bare flesh of the faithful must touch green, growing moss, so moss-covered giant trees are most favored for use in Vigils.
The two most powerful and holy rituals of Silvanites are the Song of the Trees and the Dryad Dance. The first ceremony is a droning, haunting chant that is repetitive, leaps from sharp to flat in pitch, and increases in power the more worshipers are participating. Its performance always draws woodland creatures to gather in silent witness, laying aside their usual fears and their instincts to prey upon each other. The Song of the Trees heals burned, diseased, and scarred trees-and even, in rare moments of the favor of Silvanus, re-erects trees that have fallen or been felled.
The Dryad Dance is a wild ritual of piping, dancing, and carousing that calls out any dryads or hamadryads from the woods around and empowers them to travel far from their trees for a lunar cycle (month) after the dance is performed (though they cannot use their charm ability when more than 360 yards from the tree). Dryads and their trees are healed and revitalized by the dance, and it is rumored that humans and dryads who tryst at this time cause the rapid spead of new oaks trees and the birth of new dryads linked to them.
Sadly, it seems the most often performed ceremony in the Silvanite canon is Thorncall, a ritual magic that raises thick walls of deadly tearing thorns out of the forest soil. These barriers are permanent and as labyrinthine as the presiding priest desires, but they can only be called up when a servant of Silvanus (a worshiper or a servitor creature, such as a stag) has been slain or shed much blood in the vicinity. The Thorncall ritual is used to keep out those who would burn or despoil the forest in such a way as to upset the balance.
OrdersThe church of Silvanus does not have any affiliated knightly orders. It has firm connections to several orders of rangers who serve Mielikki, since she in turn serves Silvanus, and its holy groves and forest pool shrines are often guarded by the seldom-seen clergy of Eldath along with the druids and clerics of the greenleaf priesthood. The Emerald Enclave, a large and aggressive society of druids active in the Vilhon Reach, has close ties to the church, but its members considered a tad radical by many Silvanites elsewhere in Faerûn who see their actions as likely to provoke a negative backlash against the Silvanite religion in the future. Finally, the church of Silvanus also has ties with the Harpers, an organization working against the rise of great powers, which tend to endanger all natural life and conditions around them by trying to reshape Fearun, and so endanger the Balance.
Silvanus saw and balanced all, meting out wild water and drought, fire and ice, life and death. Hold your distance and take in the total situation, rather than latching on to the popular idea of what is best. All is in cycle, deftly and beautifully balanced. It is the duty of the devout to see this cycle and the sacred Balance as clearly as possible. Make others see the Balance and work against those that would disturb it. Watch, anticipate, and quietly manipulate. Resort to violence and open confrontation only when pressured by time or hostile action. Fight against the felling of forests, banish disease wherever you find it, defend the trees, and plant new flora wherever possible. Seek out, serve, and befriend the dryads and learn their names. Kill only when needful, destroy fire and its employers, and beware orcs and others who bring axes into the forest.
Silvanus may manifest as a silent man with stag horns and burning white eyes. He typically appears among the trees and has shaggy brown fur that is almost bark-like. As the Horned Man, Silvanus speaks only in the minds of those he touches. He can point, lift, and carry things (even hurling trees or logs), inscribe words on wood by pointing with a fingertip, and cast spells (notably telekinesis of awesome weight capacity). The Horned Man usually materializes to show himself and indicate something by a gesture, a shake or nod of the head, or by pointing, and then fades away again.
Silvanus prefers to appear as an oak leaf blown out of nowhere as a sign, or if he must take direct physical action, as a fire-quenching, eerie green glow that is always accompanied by the sounds of faintly whistling wind and running or dripping water.
Silvanus also indicates his favor or disfavor or sends aid through the presence or actions of treants, brownies, dryads, deer, badgers, unicorns, satyrs, atomies, sprites, pixies, and other woodland monsters.
Whilst having no superiors, Silvanus was a long-time ally of Chauntea, despite their clergies' differences. He was also allied with Lathander. Silvanus was served directly by Eldath and Mielikki, whom some called his daughters, and indirectly by Gwaeron Windstrom, Lurue and Shiallia. Silvanus resented the destructive nature of the storm lord, Talos, and the Lady of Poison, Talona, who encouraged disease beyond what was natural and reserved his greatest hatred for the Beastlord Malar and his followers, working against his insatiable bloodlust at every opportunity. Silvanus despised life-threatening impulses in anything.