Mielikki is the Lady of the Forest, the goddess of the woods and those creatures who live within them. Specifically, she is the goddess of autumn, druids, dryads, forests, forest creatures, and rangers. She is the patron of rangers in the same way that Oghma is the patron of bards.
Mielikki is good-humored and quick to smile. She is confident in her actions and conveys this confidence well in small groups, though she dislikes speaking formally or leading large contingents. She is fiercely loyal and protective to those she calls friend, but does not grant that consideration lightly. Though she knows that some creatures must die to make way for others in life, she finds the injuries of animals and other friends hard to bear and often cures hurt creatures that Silvanus would leave be to fuel the cycle of death and rebirth.
Mielikki and Ehlonna are the same Deity. Their portfolios and cosmology are virtually identical, with only plot points separating them and the number of siblings/servants she has. Mielikki is based on a historical Mielikki from Finnish mythology, supposedly having been active in more than one plane of existence.
Many rangers venerate Mielikki as their deity. She grants her rangers their spells, and they see her as their leader, the supreme ranger, and their watchful mother. Other followers of Mielikki include dryads, hamadryads, treants, woodsmen, the occasional elf (especially wood elves), a few bards, and many of the Harpers. The followers of Mielikki usually do not organize themselves into official temples, but rather assemble in peaceful forest glades to worship the goddess. Shrines to the goddess are more common than temples and are found throughout the North, the Western Heartlands, and parts of the Dalelands in wilderness areas.
Clerics and druids of Mielikki are oriented toward protecting nature (especially forests) from the forces of evil and ignorance. They often wander among small communities nestled at the edges of forests both great and small, encouraging the inhabitants to care for and respect the trees and the life beneath their leafy boughs. They try to prevent further encroachment by civilization on the remaining great forests by teaching careful forest husbandry. When called upon, they defend the trees with force of arms if necessary. Rangers of the faith protect and support the clergies of Eldath and Silvanus in defending, renewing, and even extending forests and forest life. They oppose those who deal in fire magic (notably the Red Wizards and followers of Kossuth) and encourage both city and farm-dwelling folk to view woodlands as pleasant refuges for renewal and enjoying natural beauty, not deadly wilds to be feared and fought.
The members of Mielikki's church are widespread and rarely collect into large groups for any length of time. Almost all clerics of Mielikki multi-class as rangers or (to a lesser extent) druids. In recent years, the church has organized into three branches: the Heartwoods (dryads and treants), Arms of the Forest (clerics and druids), and Needles (rangers). Mielikki has dictated this to ensure the continued vitality of the faith and preserve the ancient ways of the forest.
The Heartwoods are the heart of the faith, and serve as voices of the spirits of the trees themselves. These members of Mielikki's faithful include dryads, hamadryads, and treants.
The spiritual followers of Mielikki, known as the Arms of the Forest, or Forestarms, are the clerics and druids of her faith. They protect the forests of the world. Mielikki's priesthood is open to all good and neutral humans, demihumans, and members of other woodland races, but tends to be dominated by human and half-elf women of battle experience, passionate character, and adventuring interests. Forestarms tend to be practical, unfussy folk, reverent in their fireside prayers to the Lady but impatient with too much ceremony.
The Needles are rangers. They are considered to be the most beloved of the Lady of the Forest. They sometimes serve as clergy, but most often act as the warrior arm of the faith and serve a defensive role protecting the forests from marauders, humanoids, and the followers of the god Malar. Included in this branch is a small religious order of druid/ranger woodland knights known as the Shadoweirs (SHA-doh-weerz).
Forestarms and Needles are given to dwelling in the forest (Heartwoods do so by nature). Forestarms and Needles often have two or more abodes and a dozen or more caches of food and items that they can travel to in times of need. They tend to be the most adventuresome of forest and wilderness dwellers and to have easy-going dispositions. They are serene in their knowledge of the balance of natural cycles and at peace with all other sylvan faiths except the followers of Malar (whom they call "the Great Beast" or "the Beast of Beasts" or "the Bloodgod").
VestmentsThe colors of Mielikkian ceremonial garb vary with the seasons, each season having a base color and an accent. Winter is white with green accents, spring green with yellow accents, summer yellow with red accents, and fall red with white accents. The white and green of winter symbolizes evergreens and the unsleeping life of the forest, the green and yellow of spring is for the slow awakening of the forest to lush life, the yellow and red of summer represents the full splendor of flowers and burgeoning fruits and grains, and the red and white of fall symbolizes fall leaves being overlaid with snow. These colors govern capes worn with armor in times of war and the ceremonial dress of the Forestarms and the Needles: trousers, boots (always brown), a short cape, and a tabard that is long-sleeved in winter and sleeveless in summer. Whatever the garb, the unicorn's head of Mielikki, carved of ivory or bone or stitched in silver thread, is always worn over the heart.
The ceremonial dress of the Shadoweirs is chain mail and deep forest-green cloaks woven by dryads from spider silk and dyed with natural dyes. Many powerful forest knights wear ancient suits of elven chain mail they have been given by elven lords for their efforts in defending the forests. The symbol of the Shadoweirs is a giant shadowtop tree with a pair of crossed swords overlaying it, and it is sometimes stitched as a design on their clothing or worn on their shields.
When adventuring and in the field, most Walkers in the Forest Way dress appropriate to the weather and their duties, though they maintain the preferred seasonal colors of their faith. In very hot weather or in the summer woods most wear only a sash and baldric of the right colors. They carry needed gear in pouches, small packs, or strapped to their boots. The Shadoweirs prefer suits of gleaming chain mail or studded leather armor in the field.
HierarchyThe church of Mielikki has no formal hierarchy but is instead led by the most senior clergy of the faith. Elder clerics, druids, and rangers gather about them a network of allied individuals who share information and come together to achieve the church's ends.
Clergy titles include the following: Questers (novices) who are accepted into the ranks of the priesthood may rise through the following ranks: Spring Stag (clergy members of less than two winters of service), Stalkers in the Green (experienced clergy who have not achieved outstanding achievements or appointments to senior temple staff duties), Forest Flames (senior temple staff, envoys, and recognized tutors of the faithful), High Rangers (leaders of temples and champions of the faith), and Hawks of the Lady. This last title is given by the Lady herself to denote her most cherished and high-ranking followers. Temple staff titles tend to be very simple: Cook, Master of Novices, Doorwarden, Housemaster, Prior, Abbot, and Worship Master are all common titles.
TemplesThere are few temples to the Forest Queen; most worship takes place in glades or at small shrines. Temples always include a small stand of trees if not actually constructed in a grove. Most have at least one oak, which serves as both altar and the home of a dryad. Small forest creatures are always welcome within such houses of worship, and many reside therein year-round.
RitualsWorship of Mielikki involves periods of introspection and meditation each morning and evening (in the forest whenever possible). They listen to and understand the whispers of the woods after a period of meditation and extended introspection. These whispers have been transcribed by a few bards and rangers, but never seem to say the same thing twice. The general theme is the preservation and understanding of the forests and the creatures living within them (those who listen for a long period of time are reputed to improve their tracking and woodland survival skills as well as their knowledge of animal lore).
Groups of worshipers also gather under the stars to sing the Lady's praises and ask for her guidance. When a worshiper of Mielikki begins a self-imposed quest to right a desecration of the forest, a special prayer is given up to the Lady of the Forest for strength and guidance. When aid is needed performing some simple task like setting the broken leg of a trapped wolf or following a trail, Walkers of the Forest Way usually ask for the Lady's blessing under their breath before proceeding.
The best-known to outsiders of the holy rituals of Mielikki are the Four Feasts of the solstice and equinox nights. These are known simply as the First Feast, the Second Feast, and so on. They are occasions for holy rituals and revels, wherein all Mielikki's faithful are expected to celebrate the sensual side of existence and sing praises to the Lady in forest depths wherever possible.
The festivals of Greengrass and Midsummer Night are even greater rituals, combining revels similar to those of the Four Feasts with planting rites and the Wild Ride. During the Wild Ride, the lady causes unicorns to gather in herds and gallop through the woods. Her faithful are allowed to ride them bareback through the night, covering astonishing distances and seeing much. On such rides, unicorns are empowered by the Lady to use their teleport ability as often as they desire for up to triple the normal range. On years when Shieldmeet follows Midsummer, riders can continue the Ride for that day and night if they so desire.
At least once a month, every member of the clergy must perform the Song of the Trees and serve any dryads, hamadryads, or treants their song calls forth. The clergy members perform the small tasks requested of them, but are free of dryad charms through the will of the Lady.
Every fire lit by a member of Mielikki's clergy must have the Dread Prayer whispered over it. In return, Mielikki makes the fire give off intense heat in particular directions indicated by the supplicant but almost no smoke. Such fires glow only dimly, so as to attract as little attention as possible, and do not spread. In this way, no watch need be kept against starting forest fires.
OrdersNamed for the greatest trees of the forests, the shadowtops and the weirwoods, the Shadoweirs are a highly secretive branch of the faith that originated in the northern reaches of the High Forest. Its members consist solely of half-elf multiclassed druid/rangers, and its membership has spread (thinly) beyond the High Forest throughout all of Faerûn.
The Shadoweirs serve as a sort of religious knighthood of the woods. Unlike the Arms of the Forest or even the Needles, the Shadoweirs are an activist and proselytizing order who are willing to go on the offensive in the behalf of their sacred forests. They seek to advance the regrowth of ancient forests reduced by civilization. Many Shadoweirs are adventurers, wandering the Realms with missionary zeal. They seek to halt the endless assault of civilization on their ancient homelands.
Within the Walkers of the Forest Way, the Order of the Unicorn's Horn is a small society of itinerant healers who bring solace to both injured people, animals, and plants. The Mielikkian faith also has close ties with Those Who Harp (the Harpers), an organization working for good throughout Faerûn and against the rise of great powers, which tend to endanger all natural life and conditions around them by trying to reshape Faerûn.
Intelligent beings can live in harmony with the wild without requiring the destruction of one in the name of the other. Embrace the wild and fear it not, because the wild ways are the good ways. Keep the Balance and learn the hidden ways of life, but stress the positive and outreaching nature of the wild. Do not allow trees to be needlessly felled or the forest burned. Live in the forest and be a part of the forest, but do not dwell in endless battle against the forest. Protect forest life, defend every tree, plant anew where death fells a tree, and restore the natural harmony that fire-users and woodcutters often disrupt. Live as one with the woods, teach others to do so, and punish and curtail those that hunt for sport or practice cruelties on wild creatures.
The Lady of the Forest often appears to rangers as a mortal woman lost and alone in the forest. A perceptive person will notice that her feet never touch the ground, and therefore she leaves no trail. Mielikki also manifests as a glowing white unicorn who gallops through the air. Mielikki also works through the actions of dryads, satyrs, hawks, songbirds, sprites, swanmays, treants, unicorns, wolves, and other woodland creatures.
Mielikki is the daughter of Silvanus and sister of Eldath. Gwaeron Windstrom and Shiallia serve her, and Lurue the Unicorn is her mount when she rides into battle. Mielikki is friendly with Shaundakul and Lathander and opposes evil-aligned deities, particularly Malar, Talos, Talona.