The Precious Gift of the Prayer of Communion
Written by Brother Willoughby Hornsmith - Blessed servant of Cholen
Our gods have seen fit to gift us, their holy servants, with the precious gift of the Prayer of Communion. This gift shouldn't be taken lightly and must be treated with the proper respect! Only the holy clerics of the gods are naturally able to learn the Prayer with proper attention to their studies. Studying includes not only learning the proper chanting and whatnot of the words to the Prayer, but also studying under a master the whys and wherefores of how to conduct a proper Communion. The great Lord Cholen has seen fit to answer my Prayer a time or three during my lifetime of devotion, so I expect I have a few words of wisdom I can pass on for the benefit of my fellow clergy.
This might seem common sense to most clerics, but there are things to consider! You don't want just anyone horning in on your prayers or there might be some dire consequences.
First, make sure, unless you're conducting some personal rite alone, that everyone attending knows what you're doing, and why you're doing it. They need to understand the nature of the undertaking so they can show the proper respect. You don't want your deity to show up only to hear a bunch of senseless yammering. Gods aren't impressed with folks fidgeting or flitting about while whispering to each other about the weather and their latest ball gown purchase. If different people will have their own parts to do, make sure they know what they are and when to do them.
Finally, make sure there isn't someone attending who shouldn't be. You know the types, spies and troublemakers! If you're trying to Commune with the Lord Ronan himself and an acolyte of Sheru snuck in, well, I won't be responsible for the consequences!
Be prepared! That's some of the best advice I can give my Brothers and Sisters. The Prayer of Communion isn't the holy version of Call Familiar, so don't treat it like it is! That is, unless you enjoy being zapped with lightning from the heavens, immolated beyond recognition, or worse yet, ignored by your deity for the rest of your miserable mortal existence.
If your god is going to grace you with their presence, they want signs that you've given everything due thought and that you're ready to receive them. Most of them expect proof you understand that asking for the attention of a deity means a good mite more than sitting down to tea with your local manor lord.
If you're going to perform a ritual, and usually you should, practice it somewhere in private first to make sure you've got it all memorized and won't have any embarrassing surprises. Collect any ritual items you'll need in one place and have them with you when it's time. Don't forget to pay attention to how you're dressed! Sure, maybe Lord V'tull would be happy to arrive and see you attired in your armor freshly splattered with blood and gore, but most of the rest may be none too pleased.
Where the Prayer is chanted may not seem like a significant choice to the ignorant. After all, the Arkati can go anywhere they want to and it is what is said and done that is most important, right? Wrong!
Picking the proper place is probably more important than anything else. If your deity has a temple, shrine, or altar somewhere nearby then you're set! Lacking that, put some thought into picking a good place. Lady Oleani might like it if you pray to her in a rose garden and The Grandfather might be pleased with a library or magic workshop.
You want to make it obvious to your deity that you didn't just plop yourself down in the first spot you came across. Part of showing proper respect is proving you have more than a mere passing understanding of your god, and picking a symbolic place to pray is part of how you do that.
The gods like rituals. So do most clerics, so that works out pretty good. A ritual has several purposes. It helps you attract the attention of your deity, because like I said, the gods like them. A ritual helps you organize your thoughts and prayers. A ritual is a way for you to prove you're worthy of your deity's presence. Also, a ritual uses symbolic implements as points of focus.
Don't let the word ritual scare you off if you're not one of the clerics who enjoy them or you haven't ever done one before! Rituals don't have to be fancy, but they do have to come from the heart.
A ritual at its best should contain both symbolic actions and prayers. The actions can be as simple as lighting a candle at the altar and making an offering. Some deities really appreciate extra effort though, so give them a show! Sing, dance, chant! Or maybe her Ladyship would enjoy a bit of groveling. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it's something pleasing to the deity you are attempting to Commune with. If you do something they don't like or that makes it look like you haven't a blessed clue what you're doing, they aren't going to give you the time of day.
The prayer part of the ritual doesn't have to be too formal, though like with everything else, sometimes formal is what a deity wants. Like her aforesaid Ladyship, for instance. Your prayers should show your reverence, and throwing in some praise never hurts. But most importantly, your prayers should include something about why you're seeking your deity's attention.
The gods are powerful, but no one has proved yet if they're all mind readers. So give them something to work with and be specific about your purpose. Even if your deity knows what is in your heart and mind they still like it best if you state things plainly. Most of them don't want to waste their time on little guessing games!
The Prayer of Communion
The Prayer of Communion is unusual. It's a formal prayer, but it's not just a prayer, it's a special prayer wrapped in holy magic. Some ignorant types call it a spell because of that, but it isn't really a spell any more than it's an ordinary, everyday prayer.
It's best to prepare and say the prayer before you get started with any fancy rituals so you can try to forge the link with your deity first. There isn't much use in making your offerings or doing your dance before you even get their attention! A cleric trying to contact the deity they serve can gather and cast the magic around them, or better yet, focus it at their holy symbol. A cleric trying to call on a deity other than the one they serve must concentrate on Communing to that deity.
Magic is a tricky thing, and holy magic can be even trickier. For one thing, the gods don't like to be pestered too often, even the friendlier types. So if you try to bother them too much you might be in for a surprise, one that hurts. Sometimes even if you haven't been a pest, the magic goes awry and you can't form a link. But if everything goes right, after you cast the magic of the Prayer, you'll find yourself falling into a trance. After you wait a bit, then you want to start your other prayers you've planned.
It's best at the beginning to pray and maybe give some idea of why you're there and why you're calling on your deity. You might have to repeat yourself a bit because the gods aren't at our beck and call and won't come running the exact second you request their presence. So just keep praying for a while and be aware of any signs of their attention. Sometimes they make their presence known through a creeping fog or a whisper from the shadows. It could be any little thing, so be alert! Once you're aware of a presence, you can perform any ritual you prepared.
Just because you pray to a certain god it don't mean that god is the one who's going to answer. Sometimes they're busy or not interested and send a spirit servant. Sometimes some other god will notice and think it's a lark to come calling in their place. That could be good or bad. Sheru likes doing that and oh, the tales I could tell! Well, I won't, because they aren't pretty. There's even tales of entities other than the gods taking notice and arriving, though those tales don't usually have very good endings either.
One big rule for Communing is to be flexible. You're breathing at the gods' sufferance and things won't always go the way you expect. Sometimes you might catch a god in a bad mood. Sometimes they get easily irritated, so don't act like a dimwit! Pay attention to any signs and portents and act accordingly. The gods also tend to be annoyingly vague. They must think it's funny or something. So if you're asking the great questions of life be prepared to have to interpret whatever answers you may get.
Sometimes even after you think you're successful in forming a link, nothing happens. It's always a bit hurtful to a cleric's pride to be ignored, but these are the gods we're talking about and that means they're unpredictable. Sometimes it means they were just too busy with other things. Sometimes it means you did something, or didn't do something, that made them think you weren't worth their time. Best you can do in such a case is think about what you learned from the experience and try again another time.
Of course, there's also the fact that some clerics are pretty darn arrogant and think no matter who they serve they deserve their deity's attention. Well, the gods don't work like that. Some gods are fond of their faithful and don't mind taking a bit of time with their clerics. But there's a bunch of them that don't think much of us mortals and rarely ever respond to the Prayer. Some never do. Count yourself lucky certain deities never or rarely show up, because if they did I shudder to think what might happen!
There may come a time in your life when you feel that saying the Prayer is needed or proper for the immediate moment and you have no time to prepare anything. That's all right; many clerics are successful in such situations anyway. Just remember all the tips I've given so you can do your best with the supplies you have handy and in your given circumstances.
Communing for Others
Sometimes you might be asked to Commune on someone else's behalf. After all, it's not just clerics who are devoted to the gods or may think they need an audience. It's best if they can get a cleric in service to the god they want to Commune with, but that isn't always possible.
In such cases, you need to be extra careful not to offend the deity you're calling on. If you're calling on a deity who's in conflict with yours, that's an offense right there and you'd best say no to the whole darn thing to avoid harm and mayhem. Otherwise, make sure that you're especially reverent and are clear you're acting on behalf of someone else. It's best to say the Prayer and forge the link, then once you think you might have the deity's attention allow the person you're Communing for to take over and make their offerings or pay their respects.
There may also be times when a cleric feels the need to Commune for their own needs to a deity other than the one they serve. Like say you're anguished over something in your love life. Well, if you serve the Lord Eonak I can't say he'd be too interested in that. I expect Lady Oleani or the youngsters, Voaris or Laethe, might be the better choices.
Well, I hope my ramblings about the Prayer of Communion are of some help to my Brothers and Sisters. Just remember to treat this gift with the respect it deserves and you should do all right. May you all be steadfast in your service and may Cholen smile upon you now and always.
Best regards to my Brothers and Sisters,
Brother Willoughby Hornsmith, Blessed Servant of Cholen
Day seven of the month Charlatos in the year 5108
Crimson Lute Monastery at Nydds