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Lore:Loremaster's Archive - The Druid Circles of Galen

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Loremaster's Archive - The Druid Circles of Galen
by Laurel of the Stonelore
A druid from the Systres answers lore questions on druidism

The questions were originally asked here.

LO-book-The Druid Circles of Galen.jpg

Clear paths and warm days, friends. My name is Laurel, Druid of the Stonelore Circle. It's not often followers of the True Way are able to address such an eager audience, to discuss our history and faith. I'm honored to have been chosen by the Archdruids to represent the epigones of the Stonelore, Eldertide, and Firesong circles.

The True Way is a promise we've made to the groves, to the seas, to the sky. It's not always an easy one to keep. Our devotion has been endangered more times than we can count. But we're still here, quietly tending to the Green in ways set down by our forebearers.

I only hope my answers can cultivate your interest. Who knows, perhaps if the wind in the trees and the sun on your face call to you as they do to me, one day we may see you here in the heart of druiddom [sic].

What's the origin of the name Galen? Your ancestors referred to themselves as the Druids of Galen long before they even reached the Systres isle of Galen, according to the Logbook of Druid Betrys. What is (or was) the original Galen?

—Analeah Oaksong

By far, this question is the one I saw more often than any other. I know that the time period before the druids left the lands of Direnni is of great interest to students of history. I spoke with both Trilam Heladren and Varona Vedralu during their time in the archipelago, and it was at their suggestion I wrote "Exodus of the Druids."

What our visitors had trouble understanding, good Oaksong, is that my interest in the past is not academic. Not in the way it is for mainlanders. Understanding King Kasorayn is a type of personal worship for me. I probably know more about our early past than any other follower on the island. It's a truism among druids that the now, the present, is the most important place to live. Which is a healthy point of view, I think, but tends to dissuade scholarly research.

Friend, if it seems like I'm stalling, it's because I am. Because you're not going to like the answer I have to give you. I don't know where the name Galen comes from, and I believe that anyone that claims otherwise is telling you a falsehood.

I can tell you a number of stories, though. Galen, it's said, was the name of a spirit that walked from the heart of the forest into the midst of an ancient proto-Breton settlement. They were the one to sing the songs of Y'ffre to our ancient forebearers. They were the one to teach us the ways of the Green.

Or, if you believe another tale, Galen was the name of the first Archdruid, the first Druid Queen. She was one of the very first Nedes to channel the songs of the Singer, and rose to lead the first circle in the deep woods of High Rock.

Or, in yet another telling, Galen was the name of an island in a lake. A place of sacred worship where Y'ffre's heart could be felt beating even here in the realm of mortals. It was there, on that island, where our forebearers heard the songs and learned to tend the groves.

Which one is the truth? Honest-to-garden objective fact? I have no idea. And despite years of study and attempts to answer that question, I'm no closer today than I was the day I began to translate the ancient tablets. All we know for certain, today, is that the name holds a special place in the heart of my people. It is a name conveying solace, home and hearth, reverence and conservation. And so we are, and always will be, the Druids of Galen. Wherever our travels take us in the world.

Do you believe druidism has a future on mainland Tamriel, perhaps among the wyrds of High Rock?

—Legoless, Tiger-Doyen of the United Explorers of Scholarly Pursuits

What a fascinating question. I'd like to think so, yes. Recent events have given me the opportunity to get to know some of our mainland brethren. Surprising to no one who's studied our faith, there are many commonalities between the beliefs of our Beldama and Glenmoril sisters and our own. With the increase in travel to High Isle and Galen of late, I'd like to think our beliefs could find a voice of their own among you Tamsfolk. But that's a harvest for another year.

I've heard some among the druid-folks have taken to shapeshifting to animals like those dire bears known as ursauks. I am curious how your arts differ from the Glenmoril Wyrd's shapeshifting - which is connected to the Stag Prince Hircine.

—Tyrrosh of Clan Firewolf

Shape magic, the ability to temporarily wear the form of another living being, is a gift given to us by Y'ffre. A great divide exists between the followers of the True Way and the Wyresses of Glenumbra [sic], you see. The Wyresses look to the past, to the old gods of the ancient past and the beneficent mask of the "Stag Prince."

Just as the Druids have the clarity look beyond, to the wider world, so too do we have clarity in our belief. Y'ffre alone is the wellspring of our power. Just as a song or a tale can be reshaped, be revised and retold in the telling so too can a living being channel the strength of the Singer and find themselves a bird, or a buck, or a mighty bear.

How many Druids does it take to light a lamp post?


Oh, I've heard this one before. Ahem: "At least three. One to light the lamp, one to plant a tree, and one to bore you with the tale of how nature gave us the gift of fire." I'd like to think my stories are anything but boring, by the by, but I understand the lore of the True Way is not for everyone.

Can Druids predict the future?


In a way, yes. It is a very rare gift. The ability to subsume yourself so completely within the Green that you can see beyond tomorrow has only been granted to a few Archdruids over the years. King Kasorayn himself, of course, is the most well-known seer in druid history, and his "Dream of King Kasorayn" is an excellent example of what these predictions look like. It’s an extensive metaphor, one that can be deciphered in a number of ways.

The songs sung by Y'ffre are very hard for the mortal mind to comprehend. And so we can only interpret, imagine, and hope that our seers learn what the Storyteller wants them to in these beautiful visions.

The reason for this letter was to see if you could help us clear up an issue that has been troubling the leaders of my guild, Aetherium Sankers. What could be the reason for the appearance of beings called "Chimeras" on the island of Galen? Is it some plan of the Firesong Circle or is it something beyond our continental knowledge?

—Barsai Firepunch, Knight Errant of Magnus

The Chimeras are old magic, ancient even by the standards of the True Way. They are guardian beasts born of devotion and sacrifice to Y'ffre. Blood magic done in reverence to the Green is well known, if somewhat overdramatized, across Tamriel. But this is one area where I believe even the druids of the circle once spilled vitae on stone to see great workings done. You must understand, the followers of the True Way have almost been destroyed time and time again. Our earliest history is one of fear, repression, and a flight for freedom.

When the early druids landed in the Sytres in their Singer-made craft, they still felt a great deal of fear. They did not know of the many trials that would follow, but how could they not desire some measure of safety after everything they'd been through? And so the Druid King and first Draoife sang to the Storyteller to make an ancient tale into a reality.

In the here and now there are only a handful of the creatures left. Where once they stood against the enemies of the druids, now most of them can barely recall the endeavor to which they were born. If you have not read it, Phrastus of Elinhir has written an interesting piece on these magnificent creatures, showing an understanding deeper than some of my own order.

I have been reading Systres History, penned by Trilam Heladren. In his writings he references the ability of Systres druids to terraform even a volcanic island into something lush and rife with life. What are the extents of such an ability?

—Arwa at-Razia, Merchant Banker

I greatly respect Heladren's writing, but you must understand that from his viewpoint much of Galen's past is frustratingly ahistorical. Researchers like Trilam and Varona want to study physical, traceable documents written by those who were there. And while some do exist, such as the diary of Druid Betrys, the history of my people is primarily an oral tradition. When you read Trilam's descriptions of druids magically singing boats and trees and food into existence, it's a mixture of fact and well-intentioned fiction.

I believe, from some of our oldest tales, that our faith in the Singer did play a large part in our survival. But you have to remember that the earliest druids were also talented farmers, herders, sailors and scouts. When our faith is rooted, so to speak, in the power of nature it's easy to mistake knowledgeable crop-tenders for magic. If that's an unhelpful answer, you have my apologies. Blame the kelp-brained fools that recorded the history of our volcanic island on flammable materials.

From time to time, this one cannot resist the temptation of scratching trees, Spriggans included. This one looks at the trees fondly and is certain that all Khajiiti kin feel the same - that trees provide happiness and scratching. But this one is concerned: What do the trees really think? Do they appreciate the scratches?


I feel both honored and a little flummoxed to find myself speaking on behalf of Tamriel's trees. I'll try to do the grove proud. It's a truth of nature that cats across the continent sharpen their claws on bark, and Y'ffre makes no mistakes. So if you find yourself deep in the green and feel the need to scratch that itch, I think you're fine. While that's true of trees in general, Spriggans are a people all their own.

The next time you find yourself near nature's guardians I would take the safest of all possible options and ask their permission before attempting to sink your claws in. While the Singer's patience is unending, some of their followers are inescapably mortal.

I've prowled my way across High Rock, Hammerfell, Valenwood and now, the Systres looking for the legendary centaur. Half-man, half-horse, should be some unique meat, right? Yet, despite all the stories, despite all the people in the cities telling me where I can hunt one, I've found nothing, not even a trace of their scent. Do centaurs even exist? Or are they some druid trickery to travel faster or something?


I appreciate the spirit of your question, even if I'm not sure I agree with the dichotomy that you've established here. I feel like there's a middle ground here between "centaurs do not exist" and "centaurs are a druid trick." I've never met a centaur, to be fair. Most of the stories I've read about half-man half-horse warriors have been purest (sometimes carnal) fiction. But some of the oldest stories handed down through the circles speak of centaurs as wise, spiritual people. A culture deeply in tune with the Singer's will.

Just because we cannot touch or see a thing does not mean it does not exist. Faith is a funny thing, Tsrak-ri.

What are your ties and knowledge of Archdruid Devyric? What was he like before this Earthen Root situation? What could have possibly changed him?


Blight take that man. My anger over the events at Earthen Root Enclave is still fresh, you understand. I'm trying to tend the garden of my soul while assimilating the idea of our own raising a hand against us.

The Druid King was wise to split the faith in three, each of the circles brings a unique and beautiful viewpoint to the conclave of the Draoife. Before his turn, his corruption, Archdruid Devyric was a wise and vibrant man. A touch egotistical, but few rise to the level of Archdruid without being somewhat conceited. I hate what he became, but mourn his loss.

I truly believe that Devyric does not represent the heart of the Firesong, an ancient and beautiful tradition. In these tumultuous days, a fiery defense of the natural world may be a viewpoint we could all benefit from.

With apologies for leaving you on something of a somber note, I think that will conclude our correspondence today. It's been a privilege to speak for the druids of Galen, to convey some small measure of our ancient faith to you.

The Storyteller teaches us that we should let stories grow within us, like a seed in fertile ground. Let these ideas grow within you, and share them again in turn. Green keep you, friends.