The Hardest Part

The first part of acting in accordance with jírileth is the easiest: do as thou wilt. To exercise the power of choice comes naturally to all who think, as it must, and in the hearts of the eldrae qalasír burns bright. We do as we choose, obeying only our need for mélith and the dictates of our own necessities. Thus it has been; thus it shall always be, for jír is the core of our nature.

The second part is more difficult than mere action, for it is right action. To tame the fire of our passions, to discipline ourselves to the Codes and Excellences and to take on talcoríëf, such that we may pursue only our enlightened self-interest with mind and countenance as serene as the moon captured in still water, that is the first challenge of mastery we must each overcome; and yet it is the smallest.

The third part is that which the Canticle of Truth speaks best:

“The Fire burns in the Heart,
Through choice its blaze is stoked.
Can a fire burn without fuel?
When one man takes another’s will;
By this the Flame is quenched.

“This is the first Darkness.
Vile and accursed are they
Who would command another’s soul.
They shall know death beyond this world,
The Twilight City denied them.”

It is the renunciation of kóras, the power of compulsion. At first this seems simple: we may say to ourselves, “I shall not tyrannize; I shall not enslave,” and this task is easy. At second glance, we come to realize the myriad ways in which kóras and choice-theft may hide themselves behind good intentions, and justifications, and by guising itself as mere persuasion, or as duty, or as implicit obligation, and rooting it out of our minds’ gardens becomes a worthy challenge. But this, too, is not the pinnacle.

There will come a time in all our lives when another’s choices, we perceive, will lead them to loss, ruin, even death; when example, advice, and warning all fail; when they stand at the brink, and begin their leap. The highest test of our commitment to jírileth is, when that moment comes, to stand aside.

It is the power of choice that makes us sophont; the Flame that elevates us above clank automata and the lower beasts. To commit choice-theft – even with the best of intentions, and in what you perceive their best interest to be – is to reverse this, to reduce them to little more than an infant, an animal, or a clank; it is to fundamentally violate their self-integrity. Even if it was done out of one’s highest motives, it remains a rape of the soul; the conversion of a person, an end in themselves, to a mere instrumentality for our choices, a chattel of our will.

Thus, we must permit a lesser destruction, for in its avoidance lies a greater one.

“To trade the eternal for the ephemeral
is to sacrifice a greater thing for a lesser.
This trade has no worth.”

– writings of Sardonyx, student of the philosopher Arlannath

 

Balances

The book of Balances is one of the most significant segments of the Word of the Flame as it addresses the eldraeic character. To be specific, it takes the form of a lengthy debate between Kanáralath, Bringer of Clarity, the eikone whose concern is reason, logic, and truth unalloyed, and therefore that quality of spirit which we esteem as talcoríëf, and Elárion, the eikone representing liberty, individuality, and volition, and therefore the quality of valxíjir.

The debate dissects the question of these two qualities that lie at the heart of our nature as eldrae (q.v. the Parable of the Crystal and the Flame). At first, this is almost conducted as a duel, as Elárion praises our driving energy, qalasír, and the great deeds it has inspired, while Kanáralath speaks on the virtue of wisdom. Then, in answering each other’s points, Elárion decries (with appropriately fiery rhetoric) the bloodless contemplation of his counterpart, while Kanáralath coldly dissects the great tragedies of passion.

Both, of course, are correct. We are, as Elárion teaches, creatures of Flame, not mere creatures of clay, born to exert our will upon the world. But a flame untended runs easily wild, as the bloodier centuries of our history demonstrate in great depth.

The next section of the debate has the eikones discuss the interactions between the two – and the failure to balance them property – in detail. This section of the Word indeed describes six of the Antithetical Heresies, which such an imbalance can give rise to. A deficiency of valxíjir is the straight and narrow way to the Heresy of the Deedless Cripple, that of those who do not strive and depend upon others for their worth; while an excess leads one into the Heresy of the Uncaring Rider, who negligently exerts his will heedless of the rights and hearts of others. Likewise, a deficiency in talcoríëf is the path of the Thoughtless Churl, who obeys and enforces without understanding; while its excess delivers one to the Heartless Philosopher, whose contemplation paralyzes action. Talcoríëf curdled begets the Heresy of the Obstructive Naysayer, who disdains the thoughts and ambitions of others; while corrupted valxíjir is the way of the Defiling Nihility, who finds satisfaction only in exerting power, ultimately only to destroy.

The final synthesis of the debate discusses the empowering balance of passion and reason, and the way in which each quality must be fulfilled by the other. Reason superdominant is impotent: contemplation exalted to inaction, if not empowered with the will to use it. Overriding passion is dangerous: folly, destruction, and chaos alone come from action without mastery of the will exerted to give rise to it.

Reason, therefore, must be enlivened with passion; passion, ruled by tempered reason. The enlightened sophont seeks and rests upon the balance point from which both valxíjir and talcoríëf may simultaneously be affirmed. From within this place, they may make choices in cool rationality, neither ruled nor controlled by their passions, and then act upon those choices with an absolute and pure will.

– Commentaries and Insights, Vol. IV,
the Luminous Sessily Arkonides of Atheléä

Elmiríën’s Truths

The following is an extract from the Word of the Flame, the record of the series of dream-visions the seeress Merriéle experienced on the side of the mountain Tirias Calémon in the year 1,199 pre-Imperial.  The contents of these visions formed the basis of the mainstream Eldraeic religion.

 This particular excerpt are the fifteen verses of the book of Truths, which – while elaborated on in other works – form the core of her religion’s ethos.  Essentially, these are the equivalent of the “Ten Commandments”, or other similar precepts.

In dreams I walked
The streets of the Twilight City
Under the sky lit with starlight,
Amid the buildings wrought from words,
And the towers woven of song.

There Elmiríën spoke to me
Patterner, Bringer of Order.
In the light of the Flame,
That burns at the Heart of Creation,
He revealed these truths to me.

Aldéré, Enkindler, Divine Ignition,
From base matter She made you,
But in your hearts set this Fire,
That you might know yourselves,
And your will might shape the world.

All that live partake of the Flame,
In the heights as in the depths.
The candle that glimmers in the darkness,
The suns that illuminate the world,
Each burns with its own light.

The Fire burns in the Heart,
Through choice its blaze is stoked.
Can a fire burn without fuel?
When one man takes another’s will;
By this the Flame is quenched.

This is the first Darkness.
Vile and accursed are they
Who would command another’s soul.
They shall know death beyond this world,
The Twilight City denied them.

As fire lives in a lantern,
The Flame dwells in the flesh.
Can light shine without its vessel?
To wound the vessel is to mar the light;
To destroy the vessel to extinguish it.

This is the second Darkness.
Those who bring the swords against another
Without right or provocation
Damn themselves in Saravóné’s sight
Her fires shall rise against them.

All the works of your hands:
Stone and metal, wood and water, fire and wind.
All that your will creates.
These things are forged in your Flame;
That which you create is yours.

This is the third Darkness.
Those who take what is another’s
Lay hands upon his soul.
The Flame they steal shall burn them;
No fires shall warm their hearts.

To give your word is to give your Flame.
Two fires commingled burn brighter still;
The hoarded flame can only dwindle.
A promise kept gives light forever;
The heart of the faithless is ashes and dust.

In the light of the Flame truth is revealed;
All things are seen as they are.
To deceive yourself chokes off your Flame.
To deceive another casts you both in Shadow.
Beware, lest Darkness find a dwelling there.

Light burns away the Darkness;
Shadow cannot stand against Flame.
Blessed are those who stand and do not falter
Against those who walk in Shadow.
Dúréníän accepts them as his own.

A man is judged by his creations alone:
All your works partake of your Flame;
By them shall its worth be known.
Above all, create yourself;
The well-tended Flame burns brightest.

Let all your works be wise,
For knowledge is the light of the Flame;
Let all your works be beautiful,
For beauty is its warmth;
Thus is your Heaven built.

– The Word of the Flame, Truths 1-15,
as dictated by the seeress Merriéle,
Chosen of Elmiríën and Namer of Eikones

Word of the Flame (4/9)

The following, as were the preceding three (1,2,3) and will be the other five entries in the series, are extracts from the Word of the Flame, the record of the seeress Merriéle’s visions that is also the primary text of the Church of the Flame, the mainstream eldraeic religion.

More specifically, this series will contain all 51 verses of the book of Principles, which enumerate the principles of each of the eikones in the form of each’s foremost principle as they would have it expressed under Heaven, although naturally each eikone’s own book examines the fullness of the principle they represent from many more angles and in much more detail.  Nonetheless, the three verses of the Triarchs and the 48 verses of their Divine Ministers are second only to the book of Truths in Flamic moral teaching.

In simplicity the mind sleeps still;
The mazy path leads many places.
Let wit and cunning shape your life’s creation.
This is the command of Leiríah
Who swathes all things in mist.

Flawed steel splinters at one blow;
Only the tempered withstands use.
Enter into the fire, and be purified!
This is the command of Lódaríön
Who burns away the dross.

The light that grows; the fire that transforms;
The heat that warms when darkness falls.
These are mine; use them well and in fullness.
This is the command of Lumenna
Whose radiance illuminates the world.

Against the Flame, do naught.
As qalasír demands, do as you must.
In all else, do as you will.
This is the command of Elárion
Whose choice knows no boundaries.

The secrets of the world are writ in its elements;
Stone and metal, wind and rain, wood and fire.
Ask them every question, and be answered.
This is the command of Elliseré
Whose mind mothers all new things.

You are the Chosen, keepers of our dream;
Heirs to our glory, shapers of greater still.
Stride on, undiminished, until eternity’s end.
This is the command of Eslévan
Who once was Alphas’s line.

The Word of the Flame (3/9)

The following, as were the preceding two (1, 2) and will be the other six entries in the series, are extracts from the Word of the Flame, the record of the seeress Merriéle’s visions that is also the primary text of the Church of the Flame, the mainstream eldraeic religion.

More specifically, this series will contain all 51 verses of the book of Principles, which enumerate the principles of each of the eikones in the form of each’s foremost principle as they would have it expressed under Heaven, although naturally each eikone’s own book examines the fullness of the principle they represent from many more angles and in much more detail.  Nonetheless, the three verses of the Triarchs and the 48 verses of their Divine Ministers are second only to the book of Truths in Flamic moral teaching.

Perfection is asymptotic;
All things brook improvement.
Let nothing be untested; nothing tested, unimproved.
This is the command of Merélis
Who permits nothing to stand.

The tree with its fruits, the wolf with her cubs,
The smith at her forge, the worker in stone;
All leave the world greater than it was.
This is the command of Medáríah
Who revels in abundance.

The circle, the branch, these are machines.
Each cog must turn in harmony;
The forms must be obeyed.
This is the command of Ráfiën
Through whom many act as one.

The will is strong, sovereign in itself.
Its clash brings only pain and entropy;
To find the serene path rewards all.
This is the command of Rúnel
Whose words please all who hear.

In Her sight all things are fixed;
In Her slumber alone are you free.
Seek not to know the future, only to shape it.
This is the command of Laryssan
Whose eyes discern the Weave.

The artist, upreaching, brings a divine spark to earth;
The lovers, conjoining, kindle a new fire below.
Let the light of both illuminate your lives.
This is the command of Lanáraé
Whose warmth dwells in all hearts.

– the Word of the Flame, Principles 10-15

The Word of the Flame (2/9)

The following, as is the preceding one and will be the other seven entries in the series, are extracts from the Word of the Flame, the record of the seeress Merriéle’s visions that is also the primary text of the Church of the Flame, the mainstream eldraeic religion.

More specifically, this series will contain all 51 verses of the book of Principles, which enumerate the principles of each of the eikones in the form of each’s foremost principle as they would have it expressed under Heaven, although naturally each eikone’s own book examines the fullness of the principle they represent from many more angles and in much more detail.  Nonetheless, the three verses of the Triarchs and the 48 verses of their Divine Ministers are second only to the book of Truths in Flamic moral teaching.

Knowledge is its own justification.
To learn it is good; to discover it is better;
To record it, imperishable, is best of all.
This is the command of Aláthiël
Through whom all things are known.

The stars hold wisdom beyond their light.
The deepest study reveals truth beyond truth,
The blossoming tree revealed in the acorn.
This is the command of Aéren
Who sees through every surface.

Your words are your thoughts, given form;
Your thoughts are echoes of your heart’s truth.
Therefore shape them well, with harmony.
This is the command of Atheléä
Whose songs resound in every voice.

Do not rely on chance; it will betray you.
Neither fight it; you will lose more than you gain.
Trust only that chance is.
This is the command of Athnéël
Whose presence is ever unlooked-for.

The eternal may persist forever;
Those which are ephemeral must end.
That which must end should end well.
This is the command of Pétamárdis
Who sees all endings made anew.

The world is clay, unshaped, awaiting the fire;
The world is metal, unshaped, awaiting the forge.
By your hands must all things be completed.
This is the command of Mahánárel
Who first wrought shape from chaos.

– the Word of the Flame, Principles 4-9

The Word of the Flame (1/9)

The following, as will be the other eight entries in the series, are extracts from the Word of the Flame, the record of the seeress Merriéle’s visions that is also the primary text of the Church of the Flame, the mainstream eldraeic religion.

More specifically, this series will contain all 51 verses of the book of Principles, which enumerate the principles of each of the eikones in the form of each’s foremost principle as they would have it expressed under Heaven, although naturally each eikone’s own book examines the fullness of the principle they represent from many more angles and in much more detail.  Nonetheless, the three verses of the Triarchs and the 48 verses of their Divine Ministers are second only to the book of Truths in Flamic moral teaching.

In mad passion and fire all things began.
Be warmed by the furnace within;
But beware lest the blaze consume you.
This is the command of Aldéré
Whose Flame ignites the world.

Entropy is the foe of all things;
Imperfection is anathema.
Seek ever the clarity to overcome them.
This is the command of Elmiríën
Whose hand guides the Spheres.

The Flame changes all, and is changed itself;
Change is a little death, but stasis a greater one.
When the door opens, pass through.
This is the command of Entélith
Who Opens every portal.

– The Word of the Flame, Principles 1-3