Saya Unal Profession in Saleh'Alire | World Anvil

Saya Unal

The Eyes of Netamesphut

Saleh'Alire » Organizations Religious Human Ileri

A deep twilight sky awash with fast-streaked flames, alas, the bright song of a Heron sing; here a great people fall to an icey howling born of deceit.
Pasali Nihat, 2nd Saya Unal of Baruti;
Oracular Record, 2nd century

The Saya Unal are a highly esteemed group of religious oracles revered among the Ileri, and second only to the religion's High Priest- ranking them second highest among the Ilerian religious Elite.   While many minor Oracles exist among the Ileri, having a natural propensity for divination, only the best are trained to serve in the Se-Hesmiya. These individuals are trained in the ways of vision seeking, becoming Saya Unal.
Current Oracles & their Locations

Linguistic Discrepancies

  Language often transcends cultural barriers, and words may take on many meanings; what one culture may call an Oracle, another culture may not- and yet this doesn't always stop the term from being applied across a variety of groups according to these different definitions, even inacurately. This is truer nowhere else than in the case of Kheper-Nebt.   Famed for his abilities to speak to the dead, Kheper-Nebt is often called an Oracle by outsiders to the point where title stuck even among his own people. But according to the strict cultural use of the term among both the Ilerians and Enethians, that was most certainly not the case; while Necromantic abilities are considered rare and powerful, and have their place within both cultures, Kheper-Nebt possessed no legitimate divinatory or oracular abilities during his lifetime that would have actually earned him the proper title of Oracle.

Requirements for Service

Saya Unal are exclusively chosen from women, as only the women of the Ileri are born with the natural gift of prophecy required for the position in the first place; in the event that a male presenting individual manifests such abilities, they become Haram and are taken to temples to live as women in service to the Saya Unal.   Such divinatory gifts typically present themselves among the Ileri by age 12. Many who manifest them, however, have low level abilities and typically stay within their village- using them to help their own people. Occasionally a young woman will manifest stronger abilities, driving them to seek out training at one of the Se-Hesmiya.
Unlike among the Enethi, who have similar Oracles, the Ileri maintain no purity laws for those serving as Saya Unal. For this reason they are free to have sexual relations, marry, and even birth children during their tenure. Many find it difficult to juggle such responsibilities with those of their profession, however.   Still, Saya Unal are encouraged to bear at least one child throughout the course of their life, as there is a always a higher chance that their children will possess strong enough abilities to take their place after their death.

Methods & Interpretation

I saw her cast the petals in one by one and contemplate them. For the life of me, I couldn't see whatever it was that she did. But within minutes she produced a favorable omen for my travels abroad. And so with a heavy heart I write to inform you that I leave tomorrow. I shall go to Ar'lasang first- and then from there to Martova. Where, from there, I know not yet.
Pylus Tomusli, Marine Elf Adventurer
Divination is typically performed through Hydromancy, Water based Scrying methods, and Dowsing. Other methods, however, may include casting rocks, leaves, and other trinkets into flowing water and examining their path for signs and omens (a form of Divination similar to Hydromancy).   Divine visions themselves, however, require an intense trance state entered into through a combination of magical incense, and the consumption of the toxic root of a particular kind of Lotus sacred to Netamesphut, which grows in areas believed to be blessed by her presence and energy. The resulting visions produced during these transcendant states, are believed to be direct revalations from Netamesphut herself, and are poured over by Priests seeking their interpretations.
  The results of both divination and vision seeking are frequently vague- leaving them open for interpretation; many a squabble has resulted from conflicting opinions as to how a prophesy or omen should be interpreted. All have come to pass with accuracy, however, even if the original interpretation was incorrect.

Cover image: Reaching Hand by Min An


Author's Notes

▼ Please Read Before You Comment ▼
I absolutely love getting feedback on my setting and its worldbuilding. I love it even more when people poke and prod at it, and ask questions about the things I've built within it. I want both. I actively encourage both. And it makes me incredibly giddy whenever I get either. However, there's a time and a place for critique in particular- mostly when I've actually asked for it (which usually happens in World Anvil's discord server). And when I do ask for critique, there are two major things I politely request that you do not include in your commentary:   ➤ The first is any sort of critique on the way I've chosen to organize or format something; Saleh'Alire is not a narrative world written for reader enjoyment... It's is a living campaign setting for Dungeons and Dragons. To that end, it's written and organized for my players and I, specifically for ease of use during gameplay- and our organization needs are sometimes very different than others'. They are especially diferent, often-times, from how things "should be organized" for reader enjoyment.   ➤ Secondly, is any critique about sentence phrasing and structure, word choice, and so on; unless you've specifically found a typo, or you know for a provable fact I've blatantly misued a word, or something is legitimately unclear explicitly because I've worded it too strangely? Then respectfully: Don't comment on it; as a native English speaker of the SAE dialect, language critique in particular will almost always be unwelcome unless it's absolutely necessary. This is especially true if English is not you first language to begin with. My native dialect is criticized enough as it is for being "wrong", even by fellow native English speakers ... I really don't want to deal with the additional linguistic elitism of "formal english" from Second-Language speakers (no offense intended).   That being said: If you want to ask questions, speculate, or just ramble? Go for it! I love talking about my setting and I'm always happy to answer any questions you have, or entertain any thoughts about it. Praise, of course, is always welcome too (even if it's just a casual "this is great", it still means a lot to authors)- and if you love it, please don't forget to actually show that love by liking it and sharing it around. Because I genuinely do enjoy watching people explore and interact with my setting, and ask questions about it, and I'd definitely love to hear from you... Just be respectful about it, yeah?

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Jan 2, 2021 01:39 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

The requirements for service section is really interesting, especially the comparison between these and a similar profession of another cuture. :)

Jan 2, 2021 01:54 by Anna Katherina

I actually should have also mentioned the discrepancies between what the Ileri consider an oracle, and what the term's typically applied to by other groups. Because there's a male Ilerian character usually called an Oracle by outsiders who ISN'T technically one, but it's just kind of become common to call him that; I might expand the article to talk about that once the WE award ceremony's over lol.

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