| "Be not afraid."
This article, Druidic Gods, contains information that is far beyond the reach of any mortal in Esria. Most characters simply do not know these truths.
Decades later, after the resurgence of magic and the weakening of Heaven's grip on Esria, they were able to return, in no small part due to widespread promotion of the Church of the Imperial Creed, whose followers practised widespread druidic worship, albeit under different names entirely.
Before the resurgence of the aethereal links, there were many different denominations incorporating many different beliefs, and these came to be known under the umbrella term as the druidic gods. Opinions on the gods and their names and roles differed widely across each continent, so there was never a clear way for the mortals of Esria to construct and represent a strict hierarchy within a single druidic pantheon. As a result, although druids were prominent across the whole of Esrian history from the Arcane Era to the Common Era, they never once had an organised religion.
The Four Goddesses
The four goddesses were celestials who noticed the creation of Esria and amongst the many celestial ones who swam across the void after the Resonance to bask in the energies of creation. In the early days of the world, they were able to establish aethereal links to the mortals through belief and worship, like any celestial being not intrinsically tied to the planar structure. This connection was severely weakened and almost destroyed after the Archangel Netheriel corrupted a large amount of the druidic population.
Without worship, the goddesses were unable to enter the mortal planes. They were solely responsible for all druidic energies on Esria, and were the only major celestials on Esria outside of the Archangels.
It was said by the druids of old who worshipped them that they were four sisters who, although closely related, were often of a different mind to one another, and that their powers were constantly ebbing and flowing throughout the year. The rotating seasons in which each goddess became more powerful on Esria was called the Cycle.
Although each civilisation had their own names for the four goddesses, their true names were:
Adrastei, Goddess of Life
Adrastei was often erroneously considered the head of the druidic gods, despite general opinion being that the four were equal in power. Most powerful during the season of spring, she was considered the goddess of life, and was capable of many miracles. Many of her followers believed strongly in her healing capabilities, which were said to be more powerful than any ailment known to the mortal world. She was capable of healing any wound, and able to restore sanity and the minds of those lost to war. She was also purportedly capable of resurrection.
Adrastei had many familiars, but they often appeared as a horde of rabbits that moved with her.
Although the four goddesses did not fight amongst each other, they did not stop their followers from doing so. Followers who pledged themselves chiefly to Adrastei often banned the worship of Arioch in their villages, despite only a minority of individuals throughout history ever wanting to do so.
Adrastei was associated with only one animal, the rabbit. In most druidic cultures, this led to the banning of their mass hunting, but they were still consumed on a regular basis. She was known to followers of the Imperial Creed as Lavinia.
Astoreth, Goddess of Nature
Astoreth, the second sister, was most powerful during the season of summer. In the many cultures who worshipped her, she was often known as the patron of agriculture and animals. It was said in many ancient texts that her followers often asked her to enforce peace between the predators of the forests and humans, and that her love of the trees helped the forests of Esria grow vastly. She was capable of blossoming plants and other crops, as well as having the ability to cleanse poisoned wells and bodies of water. Her very feet were also said to grant good health and prosperity to the soil which she walked upon. Animals popularly associated with Astoreth included the deer, the bear, as well as horses and other farm animals.
Astoreth had many familiars, but was often depicted riding a towering elk with glowing eyes and great antlers. She was known to followers of the Imperial Creed as Olivia.
Arioch, Goddess of the Cull
Although part of the four goddesses, worship of Arioch was not an accepted practice, and this was common across all druidic religions, suggesting an understanding of the evil happenings surrounding Arioch. As the third sister, Arioch also appeared to be one of the youngest. She was most powerful in autumn, and was said to be the one that tore the leaves from the trees. She was responsible for the decay of dying things, as well as keeping nature in check with her powerful aethereal energies. She was also said to be the one who prepared the land for the coming of winter.
Of the minority of mystics and deranged individuals who chose to follow her, she was known as a liar, arbitrary in most things and fond of playing dangerous games with her followers. Above all, she was cold and calculating with her bargains. Unlike the other sisters, she often demanded sacrifices, as she was never known to exchange her services to any that did not give something in return. In the days of old, druids used to believe that she was the one who granted magic to the Fey, despite the reality that the Fey were terrified of her.
Although the followers of the other goddesses were rarely granted the powers of their patron god, the most powerful followers of Arioch, although limited in number, were said to be bizarre and peculiar and were often evil folk capable of decomposing things at a simple touch. Animals that were strongly associated with Arioch included the spider, the fox and the wolf.
Arioch, unlike the other gods, had no familiars, preferring to appear in person to those she wished to contact. She was known to followers of the Imperial Creed as Avaricia.
Eswenna, Goddess of Midwinter
Eswenna was the youngest of all of the four goddesses, and was said to be the one who cared the most for her people. She was the last to enter the world through her aethereal link, and so was most powerful in the winter. She was responsible for the blanketing of the land, wiping clean the strains of autumn and preparing it for life anew in the spring. Most cultures had tales of her charity, but also of her profound sadness. It was said that she weeped for every individual that did not survive the winter.
It is said that she had the power to slow the moon and sun, and was said to do so twice during the year, during the corresponding solstice festivals. This was important for many cultures that followed the druidic gods, and often gained her the reputation of a timekeeper, as well. She was also in part popularised amongst her followers for being the god of fertility and love, and was often depicted riding an albino bull, representing the strength and virility of her followers.
She was known to followers of the Imperial Creed as Meridia.