Chauntea, the Grain Goddess or the Great Mother, is the goddess of life. Chauntea is 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.
AspectsBefore 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 became much more Silvanus's, though in the Moonshae Isles Chauntea is still worshiped as Jannath.
In the wake of the Spellplague, Yondalla is reported to be an aspect of Chauntea. While the Earthmother is considered to be a very prominent aspect of Chauntea in the Moonshae Isles, the Earthmother was actually a primal spirit.
In Rashemen, she was worshiped as a member of the triumvirate of goddesses known as The Three with Mielikki (Khelliara) and Mystra (The Hidden One). Here, she was known as "Bhalla".
She is worshiped as Pahluruk in and around the Great Glacier.
In Wa, she is worshiped as "Chantea" but only by an underground sect who are viewed with distrust or outright hostility. Followers of Chantea are immediately put to death upon discovery. The Juzimura rebellion was noted as the official eradication of her religion in Wa, but there are suspected cells of underground worshipers in isolated areas.
Though Chauntea has a diverse collection of followers, Chauntea is fanatically worshiped by peasants, servants, druids, gardeners, and any others who earns pay from working on farmland. She is seen as a critical aspect of the assumed cycle of life. Private land owners and destitute farmers visit the clerics of Chauntea for any divine suggestions for aiding the harvest. If at any time plague or drought strike, farmers look to Chauntea, since they hoped she will save the harvest, due to her love of nature.
The church is an approachable one, in that it welcomed all irrespective of gender or race. The liturgical doctrine of the church is such that it attracted more females than males, due to its preoccupation with femininity, and while female attendees outnumber men, there are still a range of males that worship Chauntea.
Chauntea's priests tend to be folk of all races who have a deep love for the land and an appreciation of natural ways and balances, seeing humans and other intelligent life as part of an ongoing series of cycles. They tend to be gardeners or farmers by trade and training and have an increasing appreciation for the beauty of plants that brings them at last to the veneration of She Who Shapes All.
Chauntea is spoken of as "Our Mother" or "the Mother of All" by her clergy. They know that she is very powerful in a quiet way—and like her, they tend to be quiet and patient in their ways. The clergy allows all races, though women vastly outnumber men, perhaps because the religion's liturgy is infused with references to fertility, motherhood and femininity. Chauntea's clergy are known for ministering in rural communities. They are known for their wisdom and appreciated for their willingness to freely (without fee or obligation) tie up their skirts and pitch in when agricultural work must be done, especially where farmers are ill or injured.
Priests are charged to learn—and pass on to others, both fellow clergy and laity—all they can of horticulture, herblore, plant types, and plant diseases, and to encourage all civilized folk to enrich the land by replanting, composting, and irrigation, not merely to graze or dig it bare for what it can yield and then pass on. They replant trees wherever they go, root out weeds that strangle and choke crop plants, and till plants back into the soil. They strive to let no day pass in which they have no helped a living thing to flourish.
Clergy of Chauntea are encouraged to work against plant disease wherever they go. They often hire nonbelievers to help them burn diseased plants or the corpses of plague-ridden livestock to prevent the spread of sickness. They keep careful watch over such blazes. Chauntean clerics do not like handling fire but are not forbidden to use non-magical fire.
Chauntea's church has two wings: standard clerics who minister to the faithful in towns, cities, and civilized areas, and druids who work in more outlying regions. Those clerics who minister to farmers and agricultural workers in cities, towns, and villages refer to themselves as Pastorals, while those of the wilder, older sect that caters to the wilderness call themselves, with a touch of arrogance, the True Shapers or the "True Clerics of Chauntea". The druids have always venerated Chauntea, and consider the more recent city disciples to be upstarts. The more civilized priests, in turn, feel that the druids' day is done, and while druids are still useful in wild lands, the rising nations need an organized, professional faith controlled by a more reasonable and rational clergy. Chauntea sets out a doctrine outlining a general set of values and taboos, but how each cleric or druid adapts this code for herself and her flock is largely a matter of personal interpretation.
VestmentsThe druids prefer simple brown robes with high rank denoted only by a belt laced with gold thread or some other similar, precious decoration. The citified clerics, on the other hand, wear an open-fronted brown cloak with more standard garments, like tunic and trousers, underneath. Priests in wealthier areas, and of high rank, tend to favor white or sun-colored ceremonial robes trimmed in deep forest green and to use staves smoothed by much handling but otherwise natural in appearance. Some such staves are often enchanted to purify or promote the growth of what they touch.
HierarchyPriests of Chauntea use such titles as (in ascending order of rank) Close One, Watchful Brother/Sister of the Earth, Trueseed, Harvestmaster/Harvestmistress, High Harvestmaster/Harvestmistress, and Onum.
TemplesThe backbone of the Earthmother's faith is composed of small, local temples (often these are seed-storage caverns near pure wells). However many larger, impressive temples and shrines exist in large cities and towns. These larger temples often have great libraries dedicated to agriculture and contain granaries to ensure an abundant supply of food for the community. Chauntean services are also held in open fields and druid groves.
RitualsChauntea encourages her faithful to make offerings of food to strangers and those in need, freely sharing the bounty of the land. It is also said that money given to one of her temples returns to the giver tenfold. Worshipers should plant at least one seed or small plant-cutting a tenday, tend to it faithfully for as long as possible, and see that their own wastes are always tilled back into the soil to feed later life. Any extra seeds yielded by plantlings should be taken to a temple of the goddess for distribution to the less fortunate.
Clerics pray for their spells at sundown, as do druids. The clergy instruct Chauntea's followers that they should make entreaties every sunrise. Compared to other faiths, ecclesiastics appoint few holidays. One holiday that is observed is a festival during Greengrass, which is a festival in which excessive consumption and uninhibited behavior are encouraged. Abundance is an important part of life worshiping the Great Mother. A rite of passage for many of the faith is concerned with Holy Communion. Newly married couples are instructed to spend their first night in fresh fields, supposedly to guarantee a fertile marriage.
The clergy observes and recognizes the dogma set forth by Chauntea herself, and read the High Prayers of the Harvest at a perennial ceremony, which are usually at the start of harvest.
OrdersWhile by no means defenseless, the church of Chauntea has no affiliated military or knightly orders. Those who guard its temples and shrines are usually members of the clergy.
Growing and reaping are part of the eternal cycle and the most natural part of life. Destruction for is own sake and leveling without rebuilding are anathema. Let no day pass in which you have not helped a living thing flourish. Nurture, tend, and plant wherever possible. Protect trees and plants, and save their seeds so that what is destroyed can be replaced. See to the fertility of the earth but let the human womb see to its own. Eschew fire. Plant a seed or small plant at least once a tenday.
Chauntea rarely manifests herself in physical form, preferring to diffuse her essence throughout the living land of Toril. Religious icons depict her as a matronly, middle-aged woman with pale white hair a welcoming smile. She wields a sturdy shock of grain as both walking staff and weapon, on the unusual occasion in which she finds herself in battle.
Mielikki was created by Chauntea but has since grown to become a full deity in her own right.
Chauntea has strong ties with other deities concerned with nature, such as Shiallia and Mielikki, and she shares a close relationship with Silvanus. She also has ties to Ariel, and to some extent Amaunator and Corellon. She was also known to have romantic affiliations with Lathander.
She opposes Talona with utmost vehemence, due to her malefic intent in spreading poison and disease to the natural world.
The relationship with the Raven Queen is a complicated one. They are both strong allies who protect the circle of life, and polar opposites in what they think is important. A part of what might be called a truce is that the Raven Queen mostly has influence over the actual death and departure of the soul, while Chauntea focuses on the creation of life and the return of the body to the food chain.
Shar tried to kill Chauntea almost as soon as the latter was created, which hasn't endeared them to each other. But the goddess of life isn't one to hold grudges and she can understand the benefits of darkness for life to appreciate the light.
Chauntea is always in conflict with Talos. She has bigger issues with those simply intent on death and destruction, such as Gruumsh, The Onyx Knight, Asmodeus, and Tiamat. Not to mention her hatred for most demons. She also battles deities who seek to desecrate and expunge nature; she opposes evil deities such as Malar and Bane, and views the latter's resurgence as portentous.
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