Sidhe

Moon elves value freedom of expression, optimism and hope

The Sidhe, commonly known as moon elves, are all about freedom of expression. They live life passionately, with a positive attitude towards the future. Aside from the Alfar they are the most likely elven ethnic group to take to a life of starfaring. Indeed, they are often encouraged to do so, because it appeals to their sense of wonder. Most of the elves that other races encounter in space are likely to be Sidhe.   While there are several Sidhe families that have been elevated to noble status in the course of their history, they are more likely to be commoners. They tend to do a lot of the urban work in elven communities. There is also a strong faith tradition, and it is not uncommon for moon elves to enter the clergy, particularly as healers or counselors. They are also frequently pursue artistic professions, as art is valued as an essential part of daily life in their culture. In communities with elected officials, Sidhe sometimes go into politics, especially if they are noble, because they are often gregarious and well-spoken.  

Appearance

Narissa's heart dances as Laeroth Oakheart appears at the arbour, draped in the traditional golden robes and flowered headdress of a wedding. “Sorry, am I late?”   He is tall, but not quite as tall as Lord Sunfall, and handsome, all sapphire blue eyes and night-black hair and glowing moon elven smile. His rapier’s jewelled hilt sparkles in the sunlight.
Homefront: Toy Soldier Saga by Diane Morrison
 

gothic.jpg

Gothic by darksouls1

  Moon elves are distinguished by their moon-pale fairness, which ranges from alabaster to ivory, and the silver sparkles in their usually-blue eyes. Rarely, eye colour may be indigo, purple, or silver. Hair colour is most often brown or blue-black, but may also be silver or shades of blue.

Naming Traditions

Feminine names

Personal names among the Sidhe can change many times over the course of one's life, even though it's most common for a moon elf to just keep using the name they were given by their parents. Feminine names tend to be melodic and roll off the tongue.   Examples: Sylria, Deliana, Selene, Selena, Lianna.

Masculine names

As with feminine personal names, masculine personal names can change many times over the course of a Sidhe's life, even if they rarely do. Masculine names sometimes have slightly harder sounds than the feminine names.   Examples: Madrimlian, Yvoleth, Laeroth, Naivon, Lannatyr.

Unisex names

Most elven names can be used by either gender, as not a lot of thought is given to gender divisions in elven culture.

Family names

Family names are usually reserved for elven nobility, or for elves who are known for a particular trait or action. Like most elven surnames, they relate to elements of the natural world.   Examples: Wintermist, Oakheart, Oleander.

Other names

Many elven cultures, including the Sidhe, have a tradition of parents and other family elders giving children affectionate nicknames that are only used in the confines of the family. They hold the same kind of affection in a dimuniative that such human nicknames as pumpkin, princess, melon or munchie do.   Examples: Rualith "little star," Ruasali "honeystar."

Culture

Major language groups and dialects

Sidhe speak Elven, although many Sidhe communities have either developed their own distinct dialect or accent. Occasionally Sidhe study High Avalonian, in the way that human scholars often study dead but scholarly languages, such as Latin.   Sidhe starfarers also tend to pick up a smattering of languages from other starfaring cultures they typically encounter, including human languages such as Celtic, Gnomish, or Elfin, the pidgin Elvish that is used for common communication among spacefarers of differing cultures.

Culture and cultural heritage

The Sidhe were dragged into the various conflicts of the Succession Wars, both for and against the Alfar, though never with designs on the Imperial Throne itself. It was far more common for the moon elves to declare neutrality in the conflicts, or to create separatist nations with their own Queens and Kings, not beholden to the Imperial Crown. Sometimes the Alfar put down these separatist movements mercilessly; other times, they allowed the Sidhe to go their own way.   One might think they would have an equally hopeful-but-cool relationship with the Svartalfar, but this is not so. The dark elves resorted to (probably desperate) acts of horror and violence that the Sidhe simply could not abide, including acts of genocide. To this day, the moon elves are more likely to attack dark elves on sight than to reason with them, although there have been notable exceptions. Still, the Sidhe are far more willing to let bygones be bygones than other elven ethnic groups.

Shared customary codes and values

On the other side of the closed bedroom door, Shaundar’s father and grandmother were arguing. “You’re going to take all the adventure out of the boy, Ruavel,” his grandmother was saying. She sounded cross.   “Damn it,” Ruavel said, “the boy is going to grow up with some decorum! He’s a Seelie Alfar noble!”   “No, he isn’t!” Deliana growled. “And you can’t expect him to be!”   Shaundar did not want to hear any more. He went to the window over his bed and opened the shutter to gaze out into the starry night. That was the problem, wasn’t it? He was not Alfar. But, despite his failings, Shaundar swore to himself that someday, somehow, he would make his father proud of him.
A Few Good Elves by Diane Morrison
  The right to express oneself is considered an in alienable right, and even duty, of every moon elf. They encourage expression in many forms; art, politics, literature, music, and more.   Compassion is considered the highest virtue -- although once you have made the Sidhe angry, changing their minds, or swaying them from a course of vengeance, is nigh impossible.

Average technological level

Sidhe have collectively gained full access to all the benefits of elven technology and arcanology, including access to starfaring. However, there are many isolated moon elven communities that choose not to engage with starfaring cultures.   Curiously, Sidhe collectively tend to have better access to plumbing than even Alfar do, probably because they are more willing to do dirty work and thus, keep their piping in better repair. The difference is unnoticeable in any mixed community, however.

Common Etiquette rules

Sidhe greet each other with an open-hearted bow if they don't know one another, and an embrace if they do. There is an assumed kinship between Sidhe, and they will extend trust to one another, and even (usually) to other elves, unless they are given a reason not to.   It's traditional for moon elves to be willing to host any other moon elf that comes to call upon them for three days, even if they are total strangers. The host is expected to provide a place to sleep and adequate food and shelter, such as they may have (so this might vary from a guest room in a fine manor to an extra blanket and a place at a campfire.) The host is not expected to defend their guest against the guest's enemies, although it's considered especially noble if they do so. They are expected to defend the guest against their own enemies, of course.

Common Dress code

“I’ll get the flowers,” Selena volunteers. Not being a Navy officer, she is wearing a gauzy silver dress to match Narissa’s golden one, which flatters the silver glitter in her Sidhe blue eyes, and her fair, not-quite moon elven complexion.
Homefront: Toy Soldier Saga by Diane Morrison
  For obvious reasons, moon elves prefer to wear cool colours and silver metallic accents, with silver or Mithril jewelry. Their emphasis is on comfortable rather than fancy, although silk and similar fabrics often allow for both. Many Sidhe cultures use knotwork as ornamentation, usually in bright colours that contrast their background fabrics. Common Sidhe wear practical outfits suited to their professions.   A special note is due the clothing of their forest rangers, which is a significant profession in Sidhe culture. Sidhe and Nunnehi have developed techniques of working the natural materials of the forest, such as leaves, moss, leather, and thistledown, to build clothing that is not only beautiful and practical, but blends with its surroundings to camouflage the wearer.   In urban environments, Sidhe will wear clothing that is open at the breastbone if possible, such as deep scoop necks or plunging Vs. While this lack of modesty occasionally scandalizes conservative humans and some Alfar, it is not done for lascivious reasons. Instead, it symbolizes that a Sidhe's heart is open.

Art & Architecture

So it happened that Shaundar had a perfect vantage point from the huge tree branch he had managed to climb – technically, part of the roof of the Sunfall manor – to see Lord Goldenbough and Yathar coming up the walk.
A Few Good Elves by Diane Morrison
  Sidhe prefer to build their living spaces in harmony with the natural world around them. Manor houses formed of large, ancient trees, created through a combination of magic and carefully-controlled growth and pruning, are not uncommon among moon elven nobility. Mountain homes will be built into the lee of the rock with sun-facing windows, and part of the structure may even be underground. Forest cottages are often built of carefully gathered stone and deadwood. The moon elves try not to create disturbances by their living choices. They probably invented the concept of "earthship."   Art, on the other hand, is intended to make a splash, and the Sidhe do it all; from painting to textiles to sculpture to oratory, theatre, narrative prose and music. Artistic creations are full of colour, ornament, and expression, and may reflect the real world or carry abstract symbolism. There are even Sidhe philosophers, and natural philosophers who seek to understand the workings of the universe.

Common Customs, traditions and rituals

Sidhe celebrate everything. Births, weddings, festivals, seasonal holidays, religious observances, birthdays; these are all justification for celebration and joy. These are lively gatherings involving song, drink (and sometimes other substances), and theater.   Along with Alfar, it's a tradition for a Sidhe who intends to propose to another elf to give the gift of an Amber Tear Charm. These take many different forms. The finest of them are heirlooms handed down through families over generations. The heart represents the blessing of Freya, goddess of love, and accepting the charm means accepting the proposal.   The charm is worn until the wedding takes place, when it is replaced by a marriage torc. These might be simple wound silver bands, but can become quite detailed, expensive, and elaborate, and might be gold or even platinum or Mithril, etched with complex designs, or set with jewels.   Weddings are typically private oaths taken between the intended, who speak their vows naked under the next local full moon. Clergy, family and friends may or may not be present, as the significance is given to the promises between the lovers and nothing else. Likewise, divorce is signified when the other members of a committed union toss the remaining possessions of the divorcee out of the house, and declare, "I (or we) divorce you!" three times. This is never done lightly, and even when a member of the union has abandoned the marriage, it's not uncommon for the remaining lover(s) to hold on to their things for years or even decades as a sign that they hope their beloved will return.

Birth & Baptismal Rites

Like the Alfar, the Sidhe gather when a child is coming into the world to sing the baby into the community. Such an occasion is cause for everyone to celebrate with wild abandon. It's not uncommon for elves in such a community to be celebrating the birth of a new baby a few months after such a celebration.

Coming of Age Rites

Sidhe celebrate an elf reaching their age of majority (50 years) the same way they do everything else -- with a party. Music and art usually feature prominently in the proceedings. A new-adult moon elf sometimes chooses to give gifts to all the people who are most important in their lives, and if they have a lover, they may also declare their intent to marry at this time.

Funerary and Memorial customs

Sidhe grieve with passion and abandon. It is not unknown for moon elves to tear at their hair and faces when someone they love dies, or to smear ashes on their faces. Some have even been known to literally pine away.   Sidhe cremate their dead, and may choose to either bury the ashes in a family plot on holy ground (usually a Church of Arianrhod,) but they may also keep some or all of the ashes on their hearths, or wear a phial containing some of them to keep their deceased loved one close.   Like most elves, Sidhe wear white to symbolize that they are in mourning. They might choose to simply wear white clothing, or to wear white facepaint or facepaint mixed with ashes. Facepaint is especially common when a loved one is killed and the moon elf wishes to swear a vow of vengeance.

Common Taboos

Bards, skalds, and spellsingers are to be given aid and succor whenever possible, in return for carrying news. It is considered very bad luck to harm such a person, or to allow harm to come to them.

Common Myths and Legends

The legend of The Last Stand of Lyrissande Verbena is a cultural icon to the Sidhe, and in general, they hope someday for a mass elven reunification. The Affirmation of Avalon is known to almost every starfaring moon elf.

Historical figures

Lyrissande Verbena

Ideals

Beauty Ideals

Lady Sunfall glides into the room. She is the plate from which her daughter is stamped, but she is as ethereal as Selena is earthly. A full-blooded Sidhe moon elf, somehow she seems to float through the Universe like a phantom; more so since her son was killed. The gauzy gown of an Arianrhodian priestess flows around her like mist.
Homefront: Toy Soldier Saga by Diane Morrison
  Sidhe often enjoy dressing in ways that flatter their ethereal beauty, but they are just as likely to have little concern for such vanity. Moon elves in active professions such as soldiers, spacers, or farmers will lean to practical clothing rather than elaborate displays. Cosmetics are saved for special occasions, because in general, Sidhe prefer natural beauty without artifice.   It is not uncommon for moon elves to fancy tattoos, however, and their body art is usually brightly-coloured and elaborate, featuring full-colour panels of the natural world or abstract knotwork and symbolism. They may also elect for some body piercings, such as their ears, navel, occasionally nipples, and rarely, a small gem nose piercing.

Gender Ideals

Elves in general pay little attention to differentiations of gender in cultural roles. Many genders are recognized, but this aspect of identity is given as much attention as eye colour or preferred music.

Courtship Ideals

Love is the only acceptable reason in Sidhe culture to pursue marriage. Marriage is not at all expected, however, and is just as common among same sex couples (or trios, etc.) as it is among moon elves of different genders. When marriage does occur, it is celebrated and valued.

Relationship Ideals

Sidhe are expected to love with their whole heart. While dedicated couples are the most common, it's not uncommon for moon elves to live in dedicated unions of multiples, an ever-evolving amorphous group of mutual lovers and friends, or even to flit cheerfully from one affair to the next with abandon. An ancient tradition also exists which echoes the troubadours of some human cultures, in which a Sidhe who cannot have the lover of their choice chooses simply to live without love instead, and this is respected in the same way that a monastic lifestyle is respected. Some moon elves also choose their own company for extended periods of their lives, whether because they aren't interested in sex or because they have more pressing concerns. It's not uncommon for military Sidhe to choose a solitary life, rather than risk breaking someone's heart when the risks of their profession catch up to them.   A Half-Elf is more likely to be of moon elven ancestry than any other elven ethnic group.

Major organizations

Honourable Mention: WorldEmber 2019 Ethnicity Category


Cover image: Fantasy Elve Wolf by Venita Oberholster

Comments

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30 Dec, 2019 20:31

Very interesting. Given their attraction to nature would they have a type of Floriography to use when communicating with each other for special occasions or events?

30 Dec, 2019 22:20

I like this idea very much because I love the very idea of Floriography. Say it with flowers! Thanks for a great idea for a Tradition article...

30 Dec, 2019 22:24

No problem! I look forward to reading the Tradition article!