The Will of the Seasons
You think our Gods are gone because we no longer rule? It is a foolish thought. Our Gods are the seasons, eternal in Their splendor and terrifying in Their displeasure. All things which have been, are, and will be fall under Their power.The elves have a different perspective on Gods than humans do, and thus their pantheon is arranged in a manner more to their understanding. Rather than the Gods being masters of the world and shaping it for Their children, the elves see the Gods as being gardeners tending a world which was entrusted to Them. As such, Erisdaire is referred to as 'the great garden' in the language of the elves - and often includes the Faeweald and Umbral Realms as well. The finer details vary depending on whom is questioned, and such questions are not treated as important. What is more important is how the Gods interact with the world, and how the world can assist the Gods in Their tasks. While the official name given to the collective whole is 'The Will of the Seasons', this is often simply used as 'the Seasons' when speaking informally.
According to the elves, the most important aspect of the world is the cycle of the seasons. It always persists, never changes, and is yet always a different experience. So it is the Gods are seen as being an aspect of the seasons, four individuals which move aside for each other as are required. Independently They are powerful forces which give the world life, shape, and energy. But together They are both the trials which all living things face, and the guiding voices which can help one navigate through adversity. Thus each of the Seasons has both a virtue and a vice which spring from Them, a positive aspect and a negative aspect existing together in the same being.
It should be noted, the elves do not deny there are other Gods outside of their pantheon of four. After all, there are many things in the world which cannot be explained as well as evidence others have been creating new things to put into the 'great garden'. But these other Gods are not to be worshipped or have offerings made to them. Furthermore, elves do not commonly show reverence in the same fashion as others do; to them the Will of the Seasons is not meant to be approached without need or outside of specific ceremonial rituals. Thus, it can seem the elves do not 'believe in Gods', when they simply do not treat Gods as someone to approach without good - and important - reason.
- Spring, Season of Renewal.
For elves spring is represented by the 'Sister of Waking Blossoms', known as Siera Nothus. According to the faithful, her position in the pantheon is meant to embrace the concept of spring as a rebirth of the world. It is believed everything is renewed when the spring thaw occurs, and Siera Nothus is the guide for all things to wake once again. Offerings are made in the form of prepared water; a silver bowl is filled with fresh water and left exposed through a full day of calm weather. Once that is done, the water can be poured over a tree's roots with a simple request meant for the Goddess to answer.
Siera Nothus represents the elven virtue of "empathy", the suggestion an elf to try seeking understanding before undertaking actions. It is important to understand what drives someone to action, or to inaction, in order to know whether or not intervention is needed. By showing this empathy, an elf is blessed and certain of finding their loved ones in the afterlife. In contrast, it is considered a poor sign to simply not care enough about a problem to try understanding the solution.
- Summer, Season of Joyous Light.
Triss Celebraum embodies the elven virtue of "creativity", nourishing their penchant for finding things to do with their long lives. Summer is the time of year when elves can relax and pursue projects of leisure. Thus this period is when many artistic endeavors begin, and the Season involved either reflects this or causes the tradition. Any creation by elves is intended to have a bit of artistry in it, and as such it is common to find everyday objects from the zenith of the elves which can rival masterpieces of others.
According to the elves, it is not only important to survive in the world, but to create something which can exist after your death. Primarily, elves value something which lets others who come after see what those who were there before had lived through. Artistic endeavors are as important as recording history, and should the two be entwined then it is singularly impressive. It is less interesting to create something merely to leave a sign there once was someone who lived, as this shows an excess of pride.
- Autumn, Season of Turning Leaves.
With autumn comes the harvest of many plants, and the maturation of several things begun earlier in the year. Thus Lirela Cicilion is known as the "Mother of Many Returns" Elves do not have the same habits as humans, with stockpiling food for over the winter. This is partly since elves have access to more types of food through the Faeweald, and also because they use other sources for food. Therefore, there is less focus on the need to prepare for winter's hardships and more on seeking closure on things done throughout the year.
With these things being said, it should not be surprising the virtue of the Season is "diligence". Elves have long lives, but this does not mean it is a good idea to leave projects untended. Some projects require long periods of time between moments of interaction, but it is most important to keep up with them. Elves frown upon those who begin projects either without an intent to finish, or no clear ending point in mind. Even the most careless of lifecrafters have an idea of what their goal is when using their magic to alter beings around them.
- Winter, Season of White Tranquility
The season of perseverance, the time when the world is wrapped in a shroud of cold white snow. Where humans see it as a time to shelter and wait out the weather, and dwarves see it as a time of relaxation from work, the elves see it as a time for reflection on a year (or lifetime) which has passed. This is the time for the God known as "The Watcher in Lost Snows", often seen as a much more passive force in the world than the other Seasons.
The Watcher has no name, and is often thought of as less a person than a presence. It dwells either just outside or just inside the awareness of an individual who has Its attention. It is believed to be the entity which comes to dying elves and collects them to take beyond death into the beyond, and as such it is considered a bad thing to die in the company of others. If others are present, the Watcher cannot come calling, and thus the soul may never find peace. As such, It represents the virtue of "dignity" and how it is important for elves to even take death with dignity instead of fear. This also drives the elven cultures of Erisdaire to avoid being boisterous or garish, and to avoid intentionally seeking to be the center of attention.