Rites and Rituals of the Ashbound
Ritual is intensely personal for the Ashbound. Supplementing the ritual of arcane opposition are the following rites.
The act of initiation is brief and to the point. By the time a prospective initiate contacts the Ashbound, they are already aware of his character. Had they not approved, he would never have made contact. The local leader, or the highest-ranking druid if the leader is not one, requires the candidate to swear an oath on his life and on the life of the earth. Should he fail in his duty, goes the oath, may he be struck to ash. The ritual concludes with the smearing of ash onto the initiate’s face, usually in the shape of the skeletal tree. He does not wash or remove this mark until he has completed his initiate’s quest.
Individual groups of Ashbound hold their own observances, and most practitioners perform private rituals at personally meaningful times. However, completing a mission demands a commemorative rite (often concurrent with leaving behind the mark of the tree). The exact nature of this ritual is up to the individual Ashbound, but it always contains an element of mourning for the earth’s pain. This might entail a small sacrifice at a sacred grove, or a libation to the spirits of nature, accompanied by a promise to ease the suffering of the world by whatever means necessary.
Grand conclaves take place at the equinoxes and solstices. Each group’s leader, and all druids within a group, attend these ceremonies, which are held in an unspoiled region within the Towering Wood. The exact location changes with each gathering and is set at the end of the previous season’s conclave. Group representatives report on progress, display trophies, and discuss policy for the coming seasons. The winter conclave prescribes the campaign for winter and spring, while the summer conclave deals with summer and autumn. Usually a great quest is set for all adherents to follow: Its goal is broad, so that each member can decide in her own way how to accomplish it. For example, a summer conclave might prescribe the “destruction of the scythe,” which could mean sabotaging a harvest, destroying farm implements, or even attacking servants of death and undeath.
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