The Samerine's Funeral Tradition / Ritual in Erisdaire | World Anvil

The Samerine's Funeral

A word of warning to those who are not of elven lineage, reading this document. Do not broach this topic with any of your elven friends, do not ask for clarification, and do not presume to affect an understanding of anything within. Merely sharing this information is a taboo among my people, yet it is impossible to speak of our history without explaining the Samerine and the Fall. Furthermore, it is imperative to understand our deep grief for losing our future...
— Thelun Arkady, "A History of the Elves", Volume III
  Elves are known throughout Erisdaire as a very solemn people, especially towards the end of the tenth moon in each year. At this time, there is a melancholy which seeps through them and few have had the reasons explained to them. Scholars and researchers have long sought answers, and have only recently been given an insight into this aspect of elven culture. According to the records of history translated by Myrisic sages there were ancient elven empires which encompassed area not just on Erisdaire but in the realm of faerie as well. Leading them was a figure known as 'the Samerine', and when she fell there was a great sorrow which engulfed elvenkind. Their era had ended, so it was said, but they would not forget what once was - or could have been. Thus the elves have a ritualized memorial service which has continued for untold amounts of time, one of their most private and sacred traditions. Yet the observance of this memorial service looms over elves today, or at least those who take their heritage seriously.


In ancient times, the elves once were led by an avatar of their deities, known as the Samerine. It is said she was a lady of exceptional beauty, kindness, and wisdom who took the incredible responsibility of guiding elvenkind through a difficult era. As the light leading the way, the Samerine was known as the 'Guiding Star' among poets writing of this era. However, tragedy struck some time into the reign of the illustrious avatar. Assassins from beyond the elven lands snuck into the palace and struck down the Samerine with a weapon crafted specifically for the task. While the physical self could shrug off the blow easily enough, it was her divine essence which was rent apart. This has become known to elvenkind as "the Fall", when all their hopes for prosperity were shattered by a dagger in the back. The Samerine's body crumpled to the floor even as royal guards rushed to her aid, finding nothing which could be done. Except, of course, what was done with what remained behind.

Elven lifecrafters, sorcerers of exceptional power who specialized in working on living objects, were able to keep the Samerine's body from death. Try as they might, however, it proved impossible to restore her spirit. Instead they encased her body in a young tree taken from the realm of faerie, protecting the flesh until such time as her spirit could be rejoined to it. Once her spirit returns, the elves can once again begin healing their ancient wounds and become restored to their place in the world. Once the spirit is restored, the tree will bloom in colors never before seen on Erisdaire.

Thus, every year to mark the occasion of her death, the Samerine Tree is draped with wreaths of various flowers symbolizing the wish for the tree itself to bloom. A poet is invited to recite a poem written to commemorate events which took place in the year since the last meeting, to keep the Samerine informed of what has transpired. Whether she is aware or not, none can say, and not even the Gods are forthcoming on details of her fate.


"It is my estimation these gatherings have long ceased to be about remembering the Samerine herself. Now they serve as a morbid celebration, around one of the darkest days of our people, reopening the wound anew and salting it. I thought humans were depraved as a species, lacking a fundamental appreciation for reality, but you all are acting in denial of it. I am not so far advanced in my age to welcome painful remembrance, as if I were I have far more painful memories than this one to relive.

Do not trouble me again on this matter.
— Lady Amerastacia, Last of Her Name.
  Over time, the gathering has gone from a tradition to a ritual with a simple formula. As the sun starts to set where the Samerine Tree stands, the participants find their positions around the tree. A priest from each of the elven Gods gives a blessing to those gathered, and an entreaty to the Gods for the return of the Samerine. Once this is completed, the chosen poet stands in front of the tree and begins "the Recitation of the Year's Past". By the time the Recitation finishes, the moon should be overhead and the priests once more stand before the tree to each repeat the same sentence. "For another year has passed, and the Samerine remains asleep. We wait, patiently, for Her awakening to lead Her people again".

Since this particular gathering is not inclusive to all of elvenkind, there are many smaller observances across Erisdaire. In the place of the Samerine Tree, there is often a painting or sculpture to serve as an icon for the gathered. Elven settlements will have a central area dedicated for such gatherings, usually a shrine for one of their Gods, and the head priest will serve as the person leading the gathered in quiet contemplation. These smaller gatherings are more about reflecting on the year which has since gone by, and end with local poets or musicians sharing their talents in their own forms of admiration for the Samerine and Her people. At the end, a bottle of elven alcoholic spirits is opened and shared among the attending people to represent their communal bond. It is similar to the practice of humans performing "a toast", but significantly more solemn in observance.

For elves who are away from home, they often find a quiet place as the sun sets and look to the sky. Since the birth of the Samerine, and Her moniker of "the Guiding Star", the first and brightest star to appear in the skies every evening has been called the Guiding Star and serves as the focal point for individual observances of the Samerine's Funeral. If more than one elf is present, they will share a remembrance of significant events in their lives before offering a prayer to the Gods for the return of the Samerine.


We gather here to gaze upon the remains of the Samerine, and the tree which protects Her. We gather here to speak, in the hopes She can hear our words. We gather here to remember what was and wish what will be shall come...
— Traditional Invocation
  The participants have changed over time, such that now only the nobles of the high elven houses attend the affair at the actual Samerine Tree. Despite invitations being left open for all of such members, several decline to appear for various reasons. Lady Amerastacia has not attended for several centuries at the least, going so far as to send a sharply-worded letter to the organizer of one such gathering. The House Holimion has sent only junior members of their household to sit in observance, citing more important duties to attend to. Beyond that, priests from the elven Gods attend to handle small functions of the ceremony itself. Each year, a poet is selected to handle 'the Recitation of the Year's Past'; often this selection is simply the poet from the previous year, but accomplished new talent has sometimes changed this trend.


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3 Jul, 2021 00:31

Oh goodness, the warning at the beginning... I love it! It made me want to stop reading and then read the whole thing in one gobble all at once! THAT is a way to get people interested in what you are writing, that's for sure.   I loved how you mentioned what people do if they are not in attendance to the actual ceremony and how they participate in their own way privately. Excellent detail, considering the importance of the ceremony to elven kind.

"Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?" —J.R.R. Tolkien