Spirits are mysterious beings said to ensure the day-to-day functioning of the world. They direct or influence the various phenomenon necessary for the world to continue operating: the changing of seasons, the growing of crops, the flowing of rivers, the creation of various gems and stones, storms, the tides, etc. Through the actions of the Spirits, the world moves along, providing a viable place for people to exist.
The origins of Spirits is not known — they pre-existed Gallidon, possibly even the world itself. The Orders do not address this question, and it has served as a stimulus for hours of debate.
Birth of the Empire
The Orders state the Spirits very nearly brought about the extinction of the people before Na'naat returned to set the world in order once again. The commonly held belief is that Spirits became envious of the people's enjoyment of the world, while the people slowly stopped appreciating all the Spirits did to make their world inhabitable, safe, and satisfying.
The Orders state Gallidon was imbued with the ability to control the Spirits, though only indirectly (he relied on Houses Kaday and Ravan to issue his commands to the Spirits). Na'naat placed Gallidon in charge of the Spirits and the world to ensure the people were able to flourish. The Orders state that Na'naat had her brothers and sisters place their own agents in the world to assist Gallidon (these agents became the founders of the Greater Noble Houses).
Commoners, and many nobles, typically interact with Spirits on a more frequent and intimate basis than with Na'naat. Homage is not denied Na'naat so much as people view the Spirits to be Na'naat's agents, and worshiping the Spirits is – by extension – worshiping Na'naat. However, Na'naat is seen to be so removed from the direct, daily life of people that most find themselves turning more to the Spirits for their immediate needs.
Spirits are commonly believed to abide in or near specific objects in nature such as rivers, fields, mountains, a grove of trees, large rocks, or ponds. Thus, a spirit is usually associated with a finite, particular space in the world. People normally offer appeasement or appeals at these locations, as it's believed the effect will be enhanced by the proximity to the spirit.
Nature of Spirits
Spirits have different personalities, with varying powers and reach. Without over-generalizing, the personalities of Spirits often reflect the nature of their influence on the world. For example, storm Spirits are often capricious, temperamental, and given to extremes. Spirits residing in lakes tend toward predictability, tranquility, and a balanced approach towards people.
Some Spirits have a stronger influence on the world than others, and some are perceived to be "older" than others. For instance, less powerful Spirits can choose to interact with the world in a small, localized area, such as a single tree, while more powerful Spirits can make their presence felt across larger areas, such as a mountain. Attempts to apply humanistic concepts to Spirits are inaccurate at best, folly at worst.
When a Spirit stays in one place long enough, it typically becomes known by a proper name, such as De'nithe. This might take a generation or two to occur. Frequently an adept of Spirit Mastery will aid in the naming of such a Spirit (there is a record of a daughter of the Greater Noble House Kaday correcting the name given to a Spirit by the locals; issues with the village's tainted well-water ceased after the locals began using the new name).
The predominant characteristic of all Spirits is that they are rarely seen but their influence is constantly felt. Their effect on people's lives is evidenced on a frequent basis, but direct interactions (e.g., summoning or corporeal manifestation) are the subject of rumor, gossip, and legend. Spirits are mysterious elements whose actual reality is unknown (and possibly unknowable) by the people.