Contest of Wills
The Great Mother
Chauntea (pronounced Chawn-TEE-ah), the Grain Goddess or the Great Mother1 is the goddess of life and a parallel deity to Silvanus, who is considered the god of wild nature, whilst Chauntea herself is seen as being the embodiment of all things agrarian or agriculture. She is a goddess of agriculture, plants cultivated by humans, farmers, gardeners, and summer.
Some of her worshipers claim that her divine glimmer gave life to the natural world, and some contend that she is the creator and source of all mortal races. In some sense Chauntea is the manifestation of the earth itself—the Avatar of the twin worlds Abeir-Toril. Her most despised enemy is Talona, the lady of pestilence, since she has a disposition to wreak suffering, disease and decay upon the natural world.Worshipers
Chauntea is seen by Faerûnians as a critical aspect of the assumed cycle of life. Private land owners and destitute (perhaps as a consequence of an unproductive harvest) farmers visit the clerics of Chauntea for any divine suggestions for abetting the harvest. If at any time plague or malnutrition strikes the crops, farmers look to Chauntea, since they hope she will save the harvest, due to her love of nature.
The church is an approachable one, in that it welcomes all irrespective of gender or race. The liturgical doctrine of the church is that it attracts more females than males, due to its preoccupation with femininity, and while female attendees outnumber men, there is still a range of males that worship Chauntea.
Chaunteans maintain simplicity when it comes to apparel. Druids prefer brown robes, and priests prefer wear a brown cloak with more standard livery such as tunic underneath.
In Rashemen she is worshiped as a member of the triumvirate of goddesses praised there known as The Three with Mielikki (Khelliara) and Mystra (The Hidden One). Here she is known as Bhalla.
She is worshiped as Pahluruk in and around the Great Glacier.
In Kara-Tur she is worshiped as Chantea but only by an underground sect of paladins who are viewed with distrust to outright hostility depending on the country they are found in. In Wa, followers of Chantea are immediately put to death upon discovery. The Juzimura rebellion is noted as the official eradication of her religion in Wa, but there are suspected cells of underground worshipers in isolated areas.
Though she has a diverse collection of followers, Chauntea is fanatically worshiped by peasants, servants, Druids, gardeners, and any others who earn pay from working on farmland.
Clerics pray for their spells at sundown, as do druids. They usually lead dual lives as either gardeners or farmers, and are industrious people. They are expected to appreciate natural beauty and a feeling of meditation. The clergy instruct Chauntea’s followers that they should entreaty her every sunrise. Compared to other faiths, ecclesiastics appoint few holidays. One holiday which is observed is a festival during Greengrass, which is a festival of almost depravity and indulgence, where excessive consumption and uninhibited behaviour is encouraged. Abundance is an important part of life worshiping the Great Mother. A rite of passage for many of the faith is concerned with Holy Communion. Newly married couples are instructed to spend their first night in fresh fields, supposedly to guarantee a fertile marriage.
The clergy observe and recognize the dogma set forth by Chauntea herself, and read the ‘High Prayers of the Harvest’, at a perennial ceremony, which is usually at the start of harvest.
Denominations within the holy order
The divided clergy of Chauntea is sectarian by nature. Associates of the Chauntean canonry are divided into two camps. Those who ministerial positions, who advise farmers and workers all over, are named, appropriately, ‘Pastorals’. The wilder, untamed conclave, who are charged with preserving the wilderness, refer to themselves, albeit insouciantly, as ‘True Shapers’.
The deaconry has by no means any centralized authoritarian bureau governing, and is not collective. It promotes individuality, and is far less unitary than other faiths.
The church outlines a general set of precepts and forbiddances, though some of these are given to subjective interpretation, since the faith is individualistic. Chauntean’s see wanton destruction as antithetical to the cycle of life. They are urged to nourish at least one living thing every day of their lives. They are advised to eschew fire also.
In terms of correct agricultural practice, the church advises that campaigns of replanting, prudent irrigation and crop rotation to ensure that the land is kept fertile. However, followers of Silvanus regard these teachings with derision. They postulate that these practices as an abomination to the natural world and that agriculture is not conservation, but manipulation. They argue that their sect encourages exploitation, overpopulation and this to in contradiction with nature. As a result, some have proselytized to the Silvanite faith, though many “Pastorals” disregard these criticisms.Relationships
She has strong ties to other deities concerned with nature, such as Shiallia and Mielikki, shares a close relationship with Silvanus. As mentioned before, she opposes Talona with the utmost vehemence, due to her malefic intent in spreading poison and disease to the natural world. She is always in conflict with Talos.
Chauntea is believed to be one of the eldest gods in Faerûn—she was born when Toril was created by the primeval battles between Shar and Selûne. Selûne favored her and nurtured her with her light, with the help of Mystra. Chauntea has battled deities who seek to desecrate and expunge nature; she opposes evil deities such as Malar and Bane, and views the latter’s resurgence as portentous. She has also been known to have romantic affiliations with Lathander.
Before her days as the “Great Mother”, she is said to have been named Jannath, and in her early days, she frequented places of overgrown nature, wilderness and packs of animals. This role is now much more Silvanus’, though in the Moonshae Isles Chauntea is still worshiped as Jannath.