The primary worship in Mawali, and throughout the bay area, is to the bay itself, the source of food and therefore life. Over the centuries, through the devotion of the inhabitants, the bay has become an awakened Place. It uses its Power to provide for its people and they, in turn, continue to revere the bay.
However, few people revere a single deity. Many people revere the Bright Mother, one aspect of the sun deity, or the Sea since that is the ultimate source of Mawali’s abundance. Most families have their family altars for reverence of the house spirits and the ancestors. Most people also stop at any shrine they encounter (and there are hundreds scattered throughout the city) and give offerings, even if it’s only a bow and a short prayer. The deities are simply a part of life and encountering a shrine is like running into an old friend.
In addition to the ubiquitous small shrines, there are many gathering places for worship. Not all of these are buildings. There are three Groves in Mawali, tended by druids and priests belonging to the Oasis Order. These Groves are open to any who wish to spend some time in meditation of, or reverence for, the Earth Mother. These Groves also hold the city’s three largest wells, providing the city with fresh water. The Oasis Order maintains and protects these wells, aided by a small cadre of knights oath bound to the order.
Most people show reverence and love for their deities through gifts, usually of food, drink, or flowers. Small hand-made items such as dolls or animal figurines are also common gifts. Sometimes people will leave broken items if the items were well-loved and precious. To the bay itself people give drink, coin, and blood. Every ship captain, before sailing into the bay, performs a solemn ceremony at the bow giving the bay gifts, asking for permission to enter and safe passage through its waters.
The greatest gift a family can offer is a child. This happens rarely, and is usually because a family is poor and cannot care for another child. The infant is fed, bathed, and clothed in the finest swaddling the family can afford, then left at the shrine. Most of them are found and taken in by another family. Sometimes the child dies, even under someone’s care. Most often, the child becomes a true cleric, serving as the deity’s voice and hands in the world.
This work by Jean Headley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.