"When you drink, your body will prepare. When you are ready, the spirits will take you. When you awaken, you will know your purpose."Spiritseeker's Tea is a ritual beverage among the Ranata people of the Sapphire Sea. It is used in the Travel, a coming of age ritual where a Ranata coming of age experiences a narcotically-induced spiritual vision laying out a particular quest, or Travel, that they must complete in order to take their place among their tribe.
-A Ranata shaman prior to a Traveler drinking Spiritseeker's Tea.
The ritual is carried out in a secluded place on tribal lands away from villages or settled area; glades, beaches or a hill are common choices. The Traveler carries out the task of harvesting all the components of the tea throughout the day, and is joined by a Ranata shaman at the site in the early evening. From there, the Traveler enters a period of quiet reflection while the shaman being to prepare the tea. The solid ingredients of the tea are ground together until very fine, then the water and sap are added to the mixture and stirred together. The mixture is then brought to a boiling point and allowed to cool. The presiding shaman then recites incantations over the tea, invoking the patron spirits of the tribe, then the spirits of the Ranata people themselves, and finally the Traveler's own spiritual totem assigned to them at birth. Once these incantations are complete, the shaman abruptly withdraws, leaving the Traveler alone to drink the sea. For the first hour of solitude, the Traveler will feel nothing beyond a numb feeling in their tongue and extremities. This begins to intensify as time passes, then as the second hour begins, the Traveler is struck with a bright flash of light seeming to come from behind their eyes. As this light begins to fade, so too does their awareness of the world around them as they begin to experience a vision. The nature of the vision can vary wildly; in some cases it can be a very clear set of events or instructions with easily recognisable figures, in others it can be disjointed, chaotic and esoteric. What is common across all visions is the clear presence of one or multiple spirits interacting with the Traveler. These spirits often have no connection with the Traveler and are manifestations of nature or abstract ideas, but in some cases the spirits of a Ranata's clan or family can approach. In all cases the Traveler finds themselves called to seek something - anything from a specific object or person to a much more nebulous concept or vague meaning such as 'the knowledge the tribe needs' or 'correct an injustice'. As the vision fades after anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, so too does the Traveler's consciousness. When they awaken several hours later, they feel invigorated, alert and full of energy. They then await the return of the shaman, who informs them that they must leave the tribe and seek out the item, person or concept the vision pointed them towards. They are given enough food and water to leave tribal lands safely and then embark on their quest.
Components and tools
Spiritseeker's Tea is made up of the following material components;
- The ground root of pepper plants native to the Ranata Isles
- Ground onions
- Tomato paste
- Guarana berries
- Most importantly, the sap of a tree that was planted on the same day as the participant's birth. This tree is specifically planted in the village or other place of importance for this purpose, usually by the same shaman overseeing the ritual.
The ceremony is very minimalist - the prospective Traveler is expected to undergo most of it alone. A Ranata shaman - usually the tribe's Clan Mother or Clan Father - presides over the ritual, prepares the tea and invokes the spirits over it, but they withdraw very shortly.
The only hard and fast rule about imbibing Spiritseeker's Tea is that it can only be done once, and must be done when a Ranata comes of age. This is generally accepted to be during a Ranata's late teenage years, when they make the crossing into early adulthood. This observance is not enforced by the Ranata themselves - they do not need to enforce it. Spiritseeker's Tea simply will not work outside of these times. If a Ranata imbibes the tea before or after they come of age, they will not experience any spiritual visions or dreams. In the case of somebody drinking it too early, they will simply have a stomachache and an awful taste for a few hours, but if they take it after the specified time, the side effects become much more severe and can include temporary blindness, loss of hearing or loss of sensation in their hands. The Ranata believe that this is chastisement from the spirits themselves. The reaction is even more grave if a Ranata has already drunk the tea once before and tries again, with reports of Ranata suffering terrible side-effects such as coma, permanent loss of senses or even death. Strangely, these consequences do not seem to apply if there are extenuating circumstances - for example, somebody who has been physically unable to partake in the ritual before early adulthood still experiences the vision without any ill effects if they do so as soon as they are able to. It appears the spirits who preside over such visions seem to be capable of understanding a person's reasons and circumstances.