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Oath Under Heartree

Beneath the Heartree we stand, beneath the gaze of our gods, to bind our souls and hearts to one another, to promise to love and care for one another until Myrdros takes us and bears us away.
— A young couple being united in marriage beneath a Heartree.
  Heartrees are sacred trees that can be found across all Arinthel. Different cultures and nations might call them by different names, but all recognise and protect them as holy sites and are used to worship a variety of gods. They are considered to be a direct connection to the gods themselves and therefore are a way to access the gods blessings. Under the eaves of a Heartree, folk gather for a number of different reasons. They might travel to these sites to bring offerings and prayers before the gods in their desperation to be heard and answered. Local festivals and feasts can take place around the base of these trees, with great long tables being set up and strings of gemlights and ribbons hung from the lower branches. During these times, actors and musicians might perform reenactments of popular religious stories as a form of worship and teaching.   To swear an oath under a Heartree is to make an unbreakable vow in the sight of the gods. These can take many different forms such as weddings, dedication to a style of life (such as that of a Traveller) and is most often where a King or Queen's coronation takes place. It is a serious offence to break an oath made under a Heartree, and in the Old Days, such folk would literally be branded as an Oathbreaker. This brand would be a mark of someone who cannot be trusted and are often banished as an outcast from their home towns and cities.   In Arhia, Heartrees are dedicated to the worship of Kellarhia. The greatest Heartree in all Arinthel can be found in Dosharia and features on their national flag and is a symbol of national pride. These trees are tall with silver-white bark and amber leaves. In the winter their leaves don't drop, but turn a deep shade of purple. No snow or frost has ever been known to encase these trees, making them stand out in stark contrast with their pale surroundings during the winter months.   Miniature versions of Heartrees can be found in some households or their gardens. These act as a small shrine for the household to pray to on a daily basis without having to travel far to get to a temple or Heartree. These small trees might not look exactly like miniatures of their larger siblings since the Heartrees are so sacred that no cuttings or branches can be taken from them. Any branches or leaves that are blown free during stormy weather are gathered and formed to make an offering to the gods. Small prayer ribbons are tied to the branches with different colours to represent topics of prayer. Fancier versions of these ribbons are used during the festivals and feasts to decorate the larger Heartrees.

The Song of the Heartree Bird

  For some reason there is only one bird that nests in these sacred trees, and they are only found in these trees. To hear the bird sing is considered to be a true blessing since they are relatively quiet birds. One musician was inspired by hearing the Heartree bird once, and decided to create a flute to mimic the birds song. This flute is used during songs of worship to encourage the birds to add their voices to that of the worshippers so as to be a pleasing sound to the gods ears.

The Colours of Prayer Ribbons

  These colours may change depending on the culture and nationality of the household, but these are the most common colours you will find on the Heartrees of Arhia.   Yellow: Love
Purple: Family
Blue: Good Health
Red: Money/Fortune
Green: Harvest
White: Thanksgiving/Praise

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Cover image: by Mariam Soliman

Comments

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Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
11 Dec, 2020 19:43

The image of a Heartree fluttering with different coloured prayer ribbons is beautiful. I love the sound of the rituals that take place there.

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
15 Dec, 2020 09:00

Thank you! Yes it's one I hope to draw someday!