Root of the Oji'tan
In Raum'Alur, there is a plant called the Oji'tan. It is unassuming and quite boring from the initial inspection. One would certainly not seek it for display in their gardens. But, it is not the leaves that make it special, it is the root. Many of the Utuk'taseg would even call it sacred, believing that stored within are powerful spirits able to guide those that seek healing and perspective. The Oji'tan only grows in small patches in deep and ancient woods and vales within the borders of the valley, it is accepted by most that the root must only be plucked from the earth if it is to be used in a Dakai ritual. A ritual which means To Face the Truth. It is used to cleanse one's spirit of negative energies and to provide spiritual guidance in times of personal turmoil. It is often used for those that have faced extreme trauma in their pasts, a common occurrence amongst the Utuk'Taseg. During the Dakai ritual, the Oji'tan root is brewed into a special tea which can allow those that drink it to travel back to the moment of their greatest trauma and face it with a fortified spirit. Those that wish to embark on the spiritual journey the Oji'tan root enables must tread lightly, as these journeys can be dangerous if not treated with care. For this reason, the Dakai ritual is always conducted by an experienced Utuk'Taseg shaman, who ensures that the ritual is performed properly and that nothing goes wrong. Those that seek this spiritual journey must also select a Seeker, usually a close friend or a trusted partner. This Seeker plays an important role in the collection of the Oji'tan and the protection of their friend while they experience the effects of the ritual.
For Those that Seek Guidance
The Four Stages of the Dakai Ritual
SeekingThose that wish to embark on their journey must first attain an Oji'tan root. However, this must not be accomplished by one's self, a trusted companion named as the Seeker must retrieve the root on their behalf. This is an important part of the ritual, as it is believed that the Seeker's strength of spirit will enter the root and grant the ritual taker extra-strength during their endeavour. The Oji'tan root is rare and is only found in dense forests and vales and is left alone to the spirits of the lands they occupy. It is imperative that once found the Seeker prays to spirits of the land, promising to use the root for spiritual guidance and that its sacrifice will lead a wayward soul towards a path of healing. If the spirits do not retaliate the seeker may uproot the Oji'tan and take what is required for the Dakai.
RitualOnce the Seeker has retrieved the root, the Shaman can begin their preparations. First, the shaman will take the root and prepare it for the making of tea. In order to do so, it must be cleansed of any impurities it may have picked up on its travels here. The shaman cleans the root, removing any knotted roots, blemishes, or bruised spots. Finally, the Shaman will speak a prayer of healing over the root, hoping to excise any bad energies it may have received since being uprooted. Many Shamans believe that any impurities in the root may follow those that seek guidance into their spiritual journey and accost them. Once the root has been cleansed, it will be peeled and sliced into thin pieces, both of which are hung to dry in small clay bowls inside a low-temperature kiln. This can take several days and the shaman must pay close attention to the root at this time, for if the kiln becomes too hot it may burn or ruin the root. But if done correctly the root will become dried and brittle. The dried root is then added to a pot of boiling water and left to seep, but only for a few minutes as the tea may become toxic if left for too long. Then, while the tea is still hot the shaman begins the Dakai ritual in full instructing the imbiber and their Seeker to drink the tea, the shaman follows suit, drinking their own cup of tea. As the tea's effects begin the shaman begins to chant, calling for the spirits of their lands and their ancestors to seek them out and to enter their vessels so that they may guide those that seek healing. The shaman guides the spirits into both the Afflicted and the Seeker, allowing them to drift away as if falling asleep allowing them to pass into a world of spirits, where they will be faced with their trauma and the evil spirits that haunt them.
JourneyOnce the journey begins the shaman stays close and ensures no danger befalls both the Afflicted and the Seeker, as any outside harm or shock may cause severe damage to the individual's psyche. The shaman will chant and pray the entire ordeal, often for hours, to ensure no outside influences befall those taking the journey. The shaman's job is tasking and will require extended bed rest once the ritual has completed. While inside the journey the Afflicted will be faced with their greatest fears, failures, and traumas. Depending on the strength of their inner turmoils they can be faced with numerous trials while undergoing this journey, and it is up to them on how they resolve or come to terms with the situations at hand. If they aren't careful evil energies that reside within their spirit may use this opportunity to attack the person's mind and attempt to devour them. This is why the Seeker has imbibed the tea as well, so that they may join their friend in their spiritual journey and provide them with protection against these evil spirits. Though the Seeker must tread lightly as too much interference may anger the spirits that guide the Afflicted, as the end of the journey must be forged by the Afflicted themselves.
ReflectionIf the Afflicted is successful in their trials they will awaken alongside their Seeker, feeling as if a weight has been lifted from their chests. Despite being physically and spiritually exhausted the shaman will give the opportunity to both the Afflicted and the Seeker to speak on what they have seen, helping to illuminate them on the potential meanings behind visions seen during their journey. It is important for the shaman to do this, as in their community the shaman acts as both a spiritual and psychological mentor and will gladly, despite their exhaustion, speak on further guidance, interpretation of visions, or future fears.
AppearanceThe Oji'tan plant itself is unassuming, its leaves are dark green with a faint outline of purple around the edges. It grows in small bunches with no more than three or four stems growing up in the same spot. It enjoys shadier areas, usually tucked in between tight copse of trees that are themselves hidden deep within old forests and vales. The leaves serve no herbal or spiritual purpose, and if brewed create a bland and grassy taste. If plucked, the Oji'tan root is dark purple in colour and can grow to about the size of an orc's palm. The purple root has dark veins of red that run through it, and the few that have plucked it swear they see them pulsing and coursing with some sort of liquid or nectar.