Animism, Shamanism, and Totemism

One of the most common spiritualities in Tolrea, aside from organized religion, is the veneration of nature sprits. Animism is actually widespread; it's a commonplace for bargemen on the Mereflow River to address the current itself, especially during foul weather or when the river is running full because of melting snow in the mountains surrounding Merethrone. Animistic practice and belief is tied as closely to reality as formal religion—perhaps more so, since the Spirit World is eternally present in the wilderness.

Mages and druids who espouse animist beliefs are especially common, and the most knowledgeable among them are skilled in magic which can open portals between the Spirit World and the mortal realm, allowing them to call all manner of creatures, from fey to genies, to their service.

Totemism is a variation on animism, and consists of the belief that the spirit of an animal or monster can serve as a person's guide, protector, and inspiration. Like animism, it is common amongst druids (but less so amongst mages), and it is characteristic of a variety of relatively "primitive" tribes at the periphery of the Aureshan Empire and the Mereflow Valley. Orcs and half-orcs raised among orcs are especially likely to venerate a totem spirit in these regions.

Finally, shamanism refers to a whole branch of spiritual traditions in which a specially trained individual serves as a mediator between the Spirit World and the mortal realm. Such individuals frequently serve as guides for the souls of the dead, or as sources of information about the hidden spiritual causes of malaise in mortal life. Advanced students of shamanic mysteries can bind spirits as their allies and servants, gaining a degree of power that rivals the most powerful of wizards or druids.

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