The Grove Faith is an animistic and totemistic religion practiced by the people of the Grove Tribe of the Great Mesa. It is centered around venerating and communicating with various elemental spirits, of whom Earth spirits are seen as the most important and closest to the tribe itself. A variation of this religion is also practiced in the Schevakian Apostolic Church of the Grove, which is spearheading the expansion of the religion outside Grove Tribe, and in minor religious branches elsewhere.
According to the religion, everything that has a physical manifestation also possesses a counterpart spirit (héhé), which can be divided into four elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind. The people of the Grove Faith try to live in harmony and friendship with the various elemental spirits of the Overworld, honoring them in word and deed. The faithful also practice elemental magics fuelled by spiritual energy.
Whilst all Overworld spirits are seen as worthy of respect, members of the Tribe have a particular affinity for earth spirits (hrahé). The Grove Tribe believe themselves to be descendants of such spirits and it is thought that upon passing away, a tribesman once again becomes an elemental spirit free to roam the earth. Other faithful from outside the Tribe may also identify with earth spirits, but also other spirits. As of such, the term héhé also covers ancestors of the Grove Tribe members and other Grove Faithful.
Due to their regard for the spirits, the tribesfolk avoid warping or processing the natural elements in radical fashion, believing that upsets the spirits and disturbs the natural order of things. Therefore, it is rare to see cobblestone, planks or other such blocks in tribal territory. Notably, however, blocks of pure metals and minerals are seen as genuine representation of the corresponding spirits, and not frowned upon. The Schevakian Apostolic Church takes a more lighthanded approach to this, instead offering sacrifices and tribute and performing rituals to appease and placate the spirits of the places humans have raised their buildings.
All members of the faith believe the End and Nether to have their own spirits (šušurru and nárra), which are harmful to the Overworld and corrupting to its spirits. The religious actively pursue the destruction and removal of all End- and Nether-related blocks and items in their territory, and refrain from using them or even going into the dimensions themselves. Any undead or enderman that cross their path are killed on sight.
Concepts are believed to have their own spirits as well, falling under one of the four elements. For example, Honour spirits fall under the element Earth. These spirits oversee oaths and promises, and consider words to be very strong bonds. As of such, Tribesfolk never break their word and dislike renegotiating contracts, even if it benefits them. While a follower of Honour spirits may twist words or omit truths, they also never state an outright untruth.
Similarily, Fire contains Pride and Work spirits. Pride spirits guide the faithful to only take what they need and deserve, which is why members of the tribe dislike receiving charity, unless they feel they have done something to earn it, or it pertains to religious matters. Work spirits inspire followers to work with passion and grit; they are the reason the Grove Tribe has forbidden mob farms. It is also known members of the tribe venerate Wisdom spirits, which belong to Water.
The Grove Faith has been the ancestral religion of the Grove Tribe for a long time, and was introduced to the server together with the tribe itself. The first person from outside of Grove Tribe to convert to the Grove Faith was thepolg from Schevakia in July 2020; other people from Schevakia and other nations later followed.
Whilst the Faith is generally a peaceful religion that tries to get along with others, it had a violent period in 2021, when it launched two crusades, which have become known as the Grove Crusades. In February 2021, the Grove-Yusefist War took place when the Grove Faith interpreted the association of the deity of Yusef with the Nether as Yusefists worshipping Nether spirits, and made an attempt to drive the religion from the Overworld. The war escalated until the Burning of the World Tree, which was an allegedly unplanned grief of a Grove religious site during a confrontation the true culprit for which has never been found. After this, the public opinion somewhat turned against the Yusefists, and a peace was established.
For similar reasons, another crusade, this time against the followers of FaeMor in Fauxford, was launched in June 2021. The latter crusade lead to a minor crisis in the faith as the spiritual leader of the religion at the time, Earthseer CreeperColder, realised he had been unsuccesful in conveying the values of the Tribe to the followers of the Faith, who proceeded to take courses of action he ideologically disagreed with during the crusade. As of such, he abdicated, leaving StonkseleksI to guide the faithful in the middle of the war. The first crusade was regarded amongst the Faithful as a shallow and costly success; the second, a stalemate. The second crusade also resulted in the formation of the Four Orders of Grove Faith: the Earthwardens, the Firekeepers, the Waterseekers and the Windchasers. The orders were formed to enable each member of the Faith to have their own interpretation of the virtues and ideology of the Faith, instead of making the Earthseer (now titled Loreseer for the Faith) force the Grove Tribe worldview upon all members. With the formation of the orders, CreeperColder returned as the Loreseer, maintaining that his task was now merely to pass on knowledge, not to adjudicate morals for all Faith members (although he still holds responsibility for the Earthwarden Order).
Since then, the Grove Faith has once again returned to relative peace, introducing the Tranquil Nights Festival to celebrate peaceful times in Decembers 2021 and 2022.
Main article: Grove Tribe Epic
See also: Tribal Fables
The Grove Tribe believe that once upon a time, the Villagers, Overworlders and Spirits were all one people, and they banded together into four tribes ruled by four powerful siblings: Winds, Earth, Waters and Fire. Movement between those tribes was free and each was powerful and skilled in their own right, with the people of Winds being musicians and bards, Earth's folk being farmers, rangers and crafters, Waters hosting explorers and scholars and Fire holding sway over the mightiest warriors and mages.
However, Fire grew jealous of the other peoples and closed the gates of his realm to bar any from leaving. Many of his subjects, however, fled before he was able to shut the passageways, becoming the native fire and magic spirits of the Overworld. He then sent undead and other woes forth from his realm to capture and corrupt the other lands, and does so to this day. The state of being permanently captured in his Nether came to be known as Death (although this Overworld Common term has also been applied to the state of temporary corporeal destruction experienced by Overworlders. In the Grove Tribe language, permanent death and temporary death are distinct, unrelated terms). The former Fire became the dark spirit Wither.
Seeing this, Winds grew fearful and separated her domain from the Overworld, and only few spirits of hers remained below, becoming the wind and weather spirits. The rest fell prey to a great depression and sorrow, and haunt the Wind plane, nowadays known as the End, guarded by the Ender Dragon, the tormented and corrupted form of the former chief Winds.
The people left in the Overworld then split into three peoples. The wisest and most powerful, having lost many kin and lamenting the lost past, faded into the elements and became one with the world, and they came to be called Spirits. The Grove Tribe looks up to those spirits as their ancestors and worships them, asking for advice and strength. Some folk forgot their valiant past and the old days, and failing to cope with what had happened, their minds became simple and they became timid and powerless. Those were the Villagers.
Lastly, those that carried on fighting were Overworlders: humans, dwarves, gnomes, goomies and so forth. In time, they have split into many tribes and factions and mostly forgotten their origins or purpose, but the Grove Tribe believes themselves to be the carriers of Earth's legacy and await the day of the promised leader, called Steve (Stíf), who would unite all the peoples and retake the Nether and the End.
Artefacts and Places of Worship
The lands of the Grove Tribe are surrounded by a number of Earth Totems or hraħanemm (also called Smoking Totems), which serve a triple purpose: to remind travellers that they are entering tribal territory, and should act accordingly; to ward off evil spirits, such as Nether creatures; and to act as a guide and beacon to friendly spirits. The Grove Tribe places great importance in the smoke the totems and their campfires emanate, as smoke is believed to unite the four main elements (it comes from fire, behaves like air, and is made of earth and water).
Near the Grove Tribe village, an altar can also be seen. It is known the Tribe uses it to bring offerings to the spirits, as well as communicate with them. The altar is adorned with two Talking Earth Heads (kumethracemu), a prominent feature in Grove Tribe architecture. Those Jack-O-Lantern-esque blocks are believed to allow the spirits to interact with mortals, as spirits are thought to be able to speak and see through them.
Under the tribe's main plateau is located their temple to all spirits of all elements, called Ryuššriħan or Aŧásriħan, the House of Cleansing.
Far south, near the former grand city of Grand Mesa, lies Hagu'ahakħan or The Temple of Toils. It is a temple dedicated to working and professions and the spirits that embody those. It contains two shrines, one for crafters and the other one for providers such as hunters and farmers.
The tribal lands also contain various smaller places of worship to local spirits, such as a totem of the Cool Nut Spirit, who guards the woods between Grove Tribe proper and former New Mesa, and an altar to the Andesite spirit.
Montrose, whilst not having any Faithful themselves, has the oldest full Grove Faith temple outside of the Tribe.
An altar to the spirits can also be found in Schenektengrad, built for the Schevakian Apostolic Church of the Grove. In December 2022, a former Scheslamic Church in Schenektengrad was converted to a small temple of Grove Faith, with focus on Wind spirits.
Holidays and Rituals
October 31st - Whilst other peoples celebrate Nether spirits on this day, it is known that for the Tribe, it is a day of harvest feast and thanking the spirits for their kind bounty. In the Grove Tribe language, it is called Báta'hratyép or Giving Earth Day
Tranquil Nights Festival - A festival held in late December, which is usually a quiet time on the server. It celebrates peace, harmony and the beauty of nature and life.
Test of Four Spirits - A test a new follower of the faith must pass before being accepted as a member. Individuals who take the test must prove four virtues about themselves to four associated elemental spirits and then partake in a ritual trance with the Earthseer, wherein the spirits will show their acceptance with a vision sent to the new member.
Cleansing Ritual - it is known that various rituals involving throwing End and Nether items to safely purge them from existence are performed in the House of Cleansing. Followers of the faith might occasionally even commit ritual suicide in fire or lava to make sure they do not carry evil with them after having handled such items.