Xenofos — Centring

????, Illusion Week


Xenofos’s lessons continue during Illusion Week as he prepares to take the marks of Goddess on Godday. After [[[s02:session-29|Session 29]]] and before [[[s02:session-30|Session 30]]].


“Uleria lies at the heart of all forms of love,” Aranda tells him one morning as they sit in a small garden. Despite the season, there are flowers blooming and the air is sweetly scented. “But three are the most sacred and form the basis of the Three.”1Building this on the notion of the Three Ways of Love, from the Apple Lane Temple of Uleria. (GM Adventures, pp. 60-61.)

“And what would these three be? I have known love for clan and city, to family and comrades at arms but all these seem to pale in comparison…”

“Love for clan, city, family, and comrades – this is all the Love of Community. It holds Orlanthi and Ernaldan societies together. Without this Love, tribes would all apart. Kin-strife would break our world down. So you already know one of the Three.” As always, she speaks to him in their shared language. The lilting sounds of Esrolia lift his heart.

He nods and smiles. “That love runs quietly. It does not make my knees weak.”

“The second great Love is known to make knees go weak. This is way is through the Body. You have known this Love too and have let it carry you closer to Her. In its truest form, this Love surrenders the Self to Uleria.” She reaches out, her fingers gently tracing the outline of his ear, then down his neck, raising goosebumps in their path.

“Through the body? You are not talking of lust Aranda, are you?”

“No, Xenofos. Lust is selfish. Love of the Body is giving. It is about giving of yourself to your partners and giving of yourself to the Goddess. When you engage in this Love, you seek to ensure your partners always come before yourself.” The smile she gives him makes it clear that she meant that in all the ways it could be interpreted. “It does make things rather interesting when two lovers follow Uleria’s Way.”

He nods. And smiles a bit wistfully. “Indeed, that sounds interesting.”

“The third Love may surprise you. Most expect this to be Romantic Love, and that is of Uleria too. But the third Love is through Propagation.” She gestures around them at the flowers blooming in the midst of Storm Season. “People often assume that this is the Love that leads to babies, kittens, and lambs, and of course it is that too. But more importantly, it is the Love that leads to creation. It is that which makes anything grow, from a flower in a garden to the food that we eat. It fosters the growth of creativity within a person. It inspires the singer who makes our hearts swell with her song, the dancer whose movements entrance all others, and artists whose hands shape the beauty that brings tears to the eyes.”2 And that is me playing fast and loose with the notion of propagation. According the the Apple Lane material, it looks like this is meant to be tied to the Reproduce spell, which deals with fertility and living things. But I wanted it to be more.

“That would have been my expectation, Aranda.”

She smiles warmly at him. “Your ability to see and understand is why the priestess allows me to teach you, Xenofos. You are already Uleria’s in so many ways.”

“I don’t feel like I see. I feel thrown around by Her whims, not quite understanding what is happening, but with no will or interest to resist.”

“It takes time, Xenofos. She is a goddess and we are mortal. We can aspire to understand, but we will always be reaching for that which is just beyond our grasp,” she explains patiently.

“So where does romantic love fall? To one of Body or one of Propagation?”

She holds a finger to his lips. “Together, these three ways lead to Uleria’s followers to the Eternal Moment of Allness. Few are able to reach this state and stay. It is… overwhelming in its entirety.” She sounds wistful as she speaks of it and her eyes take on a distant look. With a little sigh, she brings herself back to the garden and once again, it feels as if Xenofos has her full attention.

“Romantic love…” She studies his face for a moment. “It depends on the nature of that love. Romantic love, when it is generous and open, intersects with each of the Three. Romantic love can lead to marriage and thus the increasing of Clan and Tribe. It adds a dimension to the Way of the Body that helps transcend the merely physical sensations of sex, making it easier to reach the Goddess. And selfless romantic love, while not necessary for propagation, pleases the Goddess and can make Her more generous. You must understand, romantic love is not necessary for any of the Three, but it is like a touch of honey – it brings out the flavours and makes the Three that much sweeter.”

“I must think on that. I cannot say I truly understand it.”

“Romantic love is like the rain. It can water your garden and help things grow. But it can also be a tempest that destroys instead of nurtures. When lovers are selfish, either together or apart, their love can hurt the Tribe and tear at each other. We hold all love as sacred, but seek to foster that which nourishes.”

He sighs. “What feels so simple, even as it makes no sense, becomes confusing if I try to think it in those terms.”

She chides him gently, “Scholar, you must be patient with yourself. You expect to understand, in less than a week, that which people dedicate their lives to exploring?”

“My apologies, Aranda. I think too personally. Seeing one, and failing to see the whole.”

“It comes with time, Xenofos,” she promises. “Now come. There are dances to learn that will help your body to understand the lessons we seek to teach your mind and heart.” She rises gracefully and offers him her hand.