The Way of the Nine
By: Asara Posted on: April 22, 2007
My time as a clerywoman for the Neraeian Order has led me to pen several encyclicals. This one was my first, yet it considers the most important concept central to the Neraeian religion: the Path of Equilibrium. This Path is taught, spoken of, and practiced every day by members of the Order of the Sea. These teachings of Lord Neraeos have never been written, and I realize I am taking a risk by disclosing some here for the public. However, serious theological consideration of Achaea's Gods and their fascinating ideologies have never been as fully appreciated as I believe they should be, so I have decided that since many of the Pantheon's eloquent philosophies are as soul-reaching and meaningful as any bardic oration (and similarly have been the source for many creative inspirations,) this discussion has been submitted for the artist as well as the scholar. That being said, it is my hopes that this scholastic work is as well appreciated as any theatrical or alehouse story.
THE WAY OF THE NINE
And so does a cleric lay quill to parchment that the teachings of the Great Sea God may be preserved in written text. Never have the Mysteries been scribed that the words of the pen-wielder be confused with doctrine, but I say to you, blessed Neraeian or landwalker friend, it is through the guidance of Virtas alone that I present the only written word of a thus-far primarily oral tradition. My time as Prophet is not eternal, so I have recorded the teachings of this faith as I know them, that I may leave the Order with what should not be forgotten in the times to come.
The Way of the Nine or the Path of Equilibrium. These are synonymous names for the life the Nerai have chosen to live. The essence of the Neraeian philosophy lies in the Nine Neraeian Virtues: Duty, Passion, Reason, Vigilance, Pride, Humility, Respect, Strength, and Excellence. These Virtues are efficacious and sacred qualities esteemed by Lord Neraeos. Each one of them plays a part in how we approach the world, not separately, but together in the beautiful relationship we call Equilibrium. The defining principle of the Order of Neraeos, equilibrium is the synthesis of all the Virtues. It is achieved at last through the noble Virtue of Excellence, and is a concept that must be understood as ever-shifting and ever-flowing, never stagnant. This is also how we must view ourselves: dynamic individuals who, with the way of the Nine, are always changing in flux with the world that we may surge through life's difficulties and bring glory to Him of the wine-dark Sea.
The Neraeian strives to master the use of these Virtues, and ultimately equilibrium, by choosing their application wisely. You see, ultimate Excellence is achieved through many, many mixtures of the Virtues, depending on the circumstance. The path is flexible: some Virtues may be utilized where others are not. For example, the warrior may more likely implement strength and vigilance while the scholar may apply reason and respect. However, this is also not to say that the Virtues are exclusive. ALL individuals utilize ALL the Virtues - the key is in their varying degrees of usage. This is also not to say that this sort of flexibility assumes inconsistency, because constant excellence is recognizable in many different forms. When the combination of Virtues (and their varying degrees of use has been selected and applied, and the preferred outcome therefore reached, one has then achieved equilibrium for that particular quandary. The world is a myriad of quandaries that require our vigilant application of the Nine. With constant evaluation and continuing practice, the Neraeian will know themselves and their limits, and will be able to master the shifting of Virtues that occur within. With this ideology and this path, the Nerai better themselves so that, in turn, they may better serve the Lord.
But, some of the Virtues look to be contradictory. Some of them are, in fact, opposites. Pride and Humility? How can they both be Virtues Ah, but the reality that there are "opposites" does not imply one requires a present fifty-fifty balance of each. Balance is an idea loyal to the God of Balance, Lord Daedalus. Remember that equilibrium is different than balance because balance is stagnant while equilibrium shifts. Like the sea, we ebb and flow like the Tides, and we adapt to situations and overcome obstacles to achieve the overarching Virtue of Excellence. In other words, in the words of our Lord, to be at Equilibrium, that state which so few have attained, is not to say that you have an equal balance of all the Virtues. It is to say that you have complete and utter mastery over their shifting. The opposites compliment one another and also keep each other in check. To ignore the principle of equilibrium is folly, for to fall to the extremes of many of these Virtues alone is disastrous. Too much passion lends to needless destruction. Too much humility leads to insecurity. We are always shifting, for this realm presents many new and different experiences where old and stagnant Virtuous arrangements may not succeed. Such is also the way of the Sea: always flowing, always uninterrupted, yet always searching for that equilibrium which allows it to exist as the coherent whole that it does.
How else, then, does the Path relate to the Ocean? The Lord is wise and almighty, and of His realm the Sea and the God, thus the Ocean and the Path, are one. We learn from the sea by its archetype representation of the dichotomies of life. As such, we learn from it how to harness both sides of the proverbial coin and how to use extremes in conjunction with each other. As I have learned from a wise man: excellence comes as a result of living by a set of personal standards and virtues so that you are living correctly in relation to that which surrounds you. The Sea is the birth and death of life, is angry and calm, swirling chaos and orderly, methodical tides, and can be both breathtakingly beautiful but monotonous and ugly as well. Seeing that none of these alone is a perfect method of being, we seek those Virtues, encompassed by Excellence, to live as well as possible, with Lord Neraeos' guidance. The relationship between those dichotomies, therefore, is a parallel for us with our Virtues, that relationship being, of course, equilibrium.
The beauty of the Neraeian theology of Virtues is also that we can stress -personal- equilibrium. Uniquely, Virtues are adaptable in their shifting so that the philosophy is applicable to all sorts of Achaeans. Unlike some other faiths whose principles may be too rigid, the versatility of the Virtues, while not entirely subjective in regards to definitions, allows for universal applicability that achieves results for -everyone-. Thus, it transcends beyond the definitions of Good and Evil and is flexible while still retaining its core ideals. This, then, is our ideal Path. Its practical application, its encompassing relevance, and its effective results show that, indeed, those who choose to follow the Lord have chosen a most worthy servitude: that which protects the Sea and, in reciprocal, we are able to enrich ourselves from it. It is a Path that has been proven again and again in the many members of the holy Order of the Sea - a proud fellowship of over thirty city leaders, ministers, guild and House founders and masters, and even several more who have joined the immortal ranks of the Garden.
The depth of this philosophy (no pun intended) far surpasses the mortal mind. Each Virtue lends itself to its own discussion as well, but as a follower of Lord Neraeos, it is up to you to establish the inner-workings of these merits in specific application to our own shifting. To be worthy enough to embrace the Path is one thing, but to be able to successfully harness its potential is quite another. Only Virtas Himself can claim to have ultimately mastered the Mysteries, and it is only through Him that I have been able to scribe what is merely the surface of the ocean of enlightenment the Path has to offer. I leave to my future Prophets and Pontiffs, clergymen and clergywomen, the task to discover the vastness of His teachings and to continue to be the Excellent Achaeans this Order has been known to patron. Blessed be the Sea, whose wisdom and devastating authority have remained majestically unpredictable to mortal-kind since the dawn of time. Glorious is the expanse of both its intrigue and comfort, thrilling to the unexplainable soul-felt familiarity that is inherent within all who revere the watery realm. Only those who can truly appreciate it will see it other than just an endless void of deepest blue. And for that, friends, you must seek the Way.