- "A good deed may carry forth untold but is never in vain."
- -- Bertrand Whitemist, Priest of Lakeshire.
- "The Knights lead our path in battle, even if we can not hear their voices."
- -- John Livingston, Soldier under the Knights of the Silver Hand.
- "The Statue of the Lightbringer speaks to me, even though it is mute."
- -- Jean-Pierre d'Armagnac, Priest of the Cathedral of Stormwind.
- "When our hearts are moved, we are rendered speechless. Yet these moments can be more defining to us than many songs and poems."
- -- Barry Thormain, poet and singer.
- "It is not the waves on the surface that determine the depth of the fishing waters."
- -- Ness Barloch, fisherman.
- 1 Introduction and History
- 2 Ritual Robes
- 3 Opening ritual
- 4 During the vow of silence
- 5 Relief of silence
- 6 Notes
Introduction and History
Speech, writing, horns and even the drums of battle... all deliver powerful forms of communication. Communication is so abundant in our society that its availability is rarely questioned. People can talk for hours with hollow words, before taking one meaningful action. In its abundance, our communication has silenced valuable lessons: symbols can speak without sound, actions speak louder than words and words alone can not change this world. Without these lessons, our mind does not learn to listen to the heart inside.
A vow of silence is a long known ritual and training among the clerical orders. It teaches that actions can speak for one, that a symbol of faith is not measured by the strength of its voice, that silence can be golden. It teaches his will can not be stopped, should an enemy silence his voice. It makes the priest strong in silence when an enemy chooses to read his emotions and words. It is a training for a Priest to ascend beyond the limitations of the physical plane and display his will beyond the doubt that words bring.
Records and references to these rituals note the origin of this training may not have been unique to priests but was shared by art teachings in sculptures. Unfortunately, these old books only speak of sculptures for clerical orders and therefor it can be known if the clerics or the artists designed the ritual. Over time, both trainings evolved in their own right. The training for priests developed a more testing path, though some priests still go back to making sculptures or calligraphy in preparation for their vow of silence.
The ritual clothing
Clothes can still speak for us. They can send a signal, reveal a position or declare a stance on social matters. For this purpose, the ritual is to be conducted in the following ritual clothing, so that the only message that the clothes sends, is the vow of silence and dedication to the Light. The robes have to be unmarked and plain.
The ritual clothing will be composed off
- A white linen shirt
- White linen robes, held by a thin cloth belt or white sash.
- A white mask that conceals the mouth at all times.
During this rite, the participant will bear no tabard or any mark of affiliation for such symbols could speak in the participant's stead.
In history, only one priest was known to make an exception to change his clothing during the ritual. This was in memory of losing someone dear to him, presumably his mother. He wore black robes since her funeral till his ritual had ended.
The precedent of accepting this one change does inspire to permit at least this single expression of emotion. It is recommended this is agreed upon before beginning the ritual.
The participant choses his supervisor and acknowledges the desire to complete this task. They then publicly declare their intention to participate in this ritual, so all may bear witness of the vow of silence. The participant should be present in the fitting ritual robes.
Vow of silence
- I have a heart that yearns to be heard, but my voice doesn't let it speak. I :choose to follow a path of the Light that proves my heart's resolution.
- The Light will lay a path before you, that you must follow in silence.
- Only so, can you learn its meaning.
- Only so, will the Light bless you with its wisdom.
- Only so, will the Light lend you its blessing.
- Are you ready to take your vow?
- I am.
The participant kneels. The supervisor places his or her hands on the participant. These will be the last words spoken by the participant until relieved of this vow;
- Let my mouth be ever so silent,
- Let my heart run ever so deep,
- May the Light show me the end.
- Till that time, I will not speak.
- Let your mouth be ever so silent,
- Let your heart run ever so deep,
- Only the Light will show the end,
- Till that time, you will not speak.
The participant stands and is bound to silence. Only after the vow of silence has been taken, will the participant be presented with the challenges he must complete to be released from his vow.
In records, the vow of silence was usually followed by a test of silent suffering. It is a display that the priest will keep his silence, even under the test of pain. It teaches a priest to carry his sacrifice and burden for his people in silence.
It could be noted that most books refer to this as a formality and the priest is generally tested with a firm hand after taking the vow of silence. However, some records speak of priests willingly choose to be branded as display of their faith and strength in the Light. Unfortunately, this also ended with some priests failing their trial early and ending up branded with shame for the rest of their life.
During the vow of silence
Rules of silence.
The participant is not permitted to communicate in any way but through actions. This forbids any expression of emotion, laughter or weeping. To avoid emotions can be read from his face, the participant should hide those features of his face that might betray them. When sleeping, and even when not, it is recommended the participant is gagged to avoid an accidental error. The participant is not permitted to write a single word on paper. The participant is not permitted to develop a language through hand gestures. Even prayer is to be conducted in silence.
Throughout history, priests have displayed the ability to pray for and bless people, even without words. Some have obtained such ability during their trial of passage in their vow of silence.
The trialling priest should develop a silent prayer for people other than himself, during which he is not allowed but a single gesture. It should be witnessed as he prays it in silence, and those who listened should understand its message and its blessing though no word was spoken.
Some priests develop this ability before their vow of silence. They are often sent to towns to work and aid the population in silence instead, blessing them daily during their work.
Not all vows of silence were passed by trials alone. Some merely requested the priest to remain silent for a long period of time. One in particular, Brother Macloud, kept quiet for nearly ten years.
The participant should remain silent for a prolonged period. This is often combined with the requirement to continue one's daily work and tasks.
Recorded in the books of the village's history, a Priest under the vow of silence once confronted a thief in Eastvale's woods. The thief stood over the murdered body of a lumberer, stealing the meal ration the man had on him. So terrible and burning was the anger of the Priest that he smote the thief down with the Light. But in his Compassion, he had seen the hunger that drove the thief to such desperate measures.
When the thief woke up, the Priest loomed over him like a silent statue of faith... the thief understood and cried. Converted to a cleric in Northshire, the thief worked tirelessly since, to provide for the family of the man he murdered.
Many priests have tried to follow his example during their vow of silence. Few have succeeded, but it is since accepted that a Priest able to steer a criminal onto the path of the Light, succeeds his Silent Resolution.
Counsel during the vow of silence
While under the vow of silence, the participant may request counsel from his supervisor. To do so, the participant should kneel before the supervisor and accepting the counsel and judgement that will follow. The supervisor may give any advice, describe the tasks the participant has yet to complete and renew the vow of silence.
To renew the vow, the supervisor lays his or her hands on the head of the participant and speaks the following words: "Follow the path that the Light laid before you, where your voice, you will meet."
Relief of silence
Should the participant have completed all his work, then at his request for counsel, the supervisor may relieve him from his vow of silence.
The supervisor lays his or her hands on the head of the participant and speaks the following words: "You have followed the path that the Light laid before you. The ritual is complete. Now rise, Brother/Sister, and speak!"
May the first words he or she speaks be recorded as the first words spoken by a new and enlightened mind that is born into this world.
I recommend a prolonged period for this rite, spanning over two weeks or a month. By taking enough time, the character's social environment and community will notice this change better and this will increase the immersive experience as well as the impact on your character.
Out of character, this rite can be seen as a challenge to roleplay without "/s" or play a mute person without needing to roll a new character.
I recommend to avoid expressing subjective or intentional messages throughout emotes. This is both a part of the fun/challenge, and the purpose of the ritual. Avoid emotes such as: /e nods in approval /e nods happily/eargely /e motions for silence Instead, the following emotes are suggested: /e nods once deeply and follows it with a few short nods. /e nods rapidly /e moves a hand in the air and then places a finger over his mouth.
Remember that lack of understanding may very well be part of the fun!
And as a final note: all names and stories referred to in this book are fictional.