Worship of Nemea is usually decentralized, leaving Her adherents to individual worship. Despite this, several religious sects have arisen over the centuries, often focusing in on specific parts of Nemea's domain. While the specific goals and natures of these groups vary, they all tend to have loose organizational structures, whether that be in not having one or allowing people to leave and join at their own will.
While most worship Her in ways unique to themselves, there are a number of common ways people show devotion to the goddess of the forest and hunt, including:
- Meditation during times of grief. Though all meditation can be considered worship of Nemea, it is specifically grief-stricken meditation that rests closest to her domain.
- Offering thanks to Nemea over meals and hunted game. Often incorporated into this is a vow to ensure that none of what has been taken will go to waste, though this is most commonly used by hunters, not the general populace.
- The donation of the Lumin flowers or coins to shrines to Nemea.
- Wearing Nemean religious symbols, especially in times of grief. The most common of these is an emblem of silver vines wrapped around a Lumin flower.
- Attending festivals at the start of the season is considered one of the most important methods of Nemea worship. Though attending in festival attire isn’t required, it is traditional to do so.
- Traveling to Mount Pavlonis is considered a religious pilgrimage, though it should be made through forest as much as possible to allow the pilgrim plenty of time to enjoy Her forests.
- Tea rituals, ranging from complex to simple, can be considered worship of Nemea. Though a commonly acknowledged practice, it is mostly associated with the tea maidens. This is due to the time involvement and coordination between multiple worshippers for the more complex rituals, which conflicts with the individualistic nature of Nemea’s worship outside of the group. Despite this association, even just enjoying a cup of tea in Nemea’s name and with thanks can be considered worship of Her.
In poetry and writings, Nemea is often described as solemn and impartial, distanced, rarely with a smile. Despite this cold demeanour, the goddess is just and of a benevolent nature. She is exceptionally tall, though to what extent varies depending on the story, with champagne-blond hair that's pale and translucent, and brown earthy eyes. Her complexion is said to change with the season; just like we take in the sun during the warmer months, so does she, but to a greater extent.
As one of the high rulers of the Spirit Realm, she takes her place within Vanaheim alongside most of her brothers and sisters, and her palace is the closest to Yggdrasil itself. Following catastrophe and blight, it is Nemea's sworn vassals that may task the spriggan and other fae-spirits to the living world to inspire new growth, under the oversight of the goddess.
Despite the nature of Nemea worship, there is one cohesive group of worshippers that has existed in Delphina since soon after the faeborne began to appear. Notable for being both a group primarily made of said faeborne and the length of time it has existed, they don’t acknowledge themselves as a religious group nor have an official name. Some scholars of Wylden suggest that they were originally referred to as 'Min'el', speculated to mean 'ladies of the leaves' or 'ladies of tea'.
Colloquially, they are known as ‘tea maidens’, a name which the group has historically either approved of or not cared about. This name came from the group’s focus on devotions to Nemea through tea; whether it be in the form of elaborate social rituals or just a cup of a maiden’s preferred brew left on a Nemean shrine.
While they are an ancient religious order, the group forswears political power, devoting their attention to worship of Nemea alone. As a result of this long-standing tradition, they are often called on as mediators in the various Delphinian courts, able to act without overt bias. They also often act as hosts to diplomats from neighboring nations, where the customary greeting is the sharing of a tea from the diplomat’s homeland, most often prepared by the tea maiden. Despite this involvement, they are an entity unaligned with the ruling body of Delphinia; attempts to place political pressure on them to coerce them is considered a great affront to Nemea.
Though tea maidens are traditionally women, there is nothing stopping others from joining their ranks, something which has happened multiple times in history, even if not a common occurrence. While there isn’t a book of tenets to follow when joining the tea maidens, there are a few requirements:
- Worship of Nemea is a necessity, not a recommendation. All tea maidens worship the goddess of the forest and hunt.
- Tea maidens can’t wield political power directly. This includes leading a city or being a member of a noble house, though nobles who abjure their nobiliary rights are allowed to join.
- Though not a strict requirement, it is generally acknowledged that tea maidens are knowledgeable about the different varieties of tea available in Delphinia, Vdalion, and Aphros. This is a stereotype; the majority only know in-depth knowledge of their preferred types of tea, while there are some who take it upon themselves to learn of all the tea on Eternia itself.
A sect that focuses on Nemea's darker themes and the way the seasons change them. Grief, Illusions, and Seasons. Each trait of the Goddess has a certain way to pray and offer to her. This Religion is meant to only obligate a person to indulge- or focus- on one aspect. However, the Soothsayer, leader of the sect, must know of all three and their practices.
The sect has been around for some time, roughly a century or so after the first Faeborne began to appear. It accepts everyone, though Faeborne are obviously looked upon more favorably. Anyone may enter, anyone may leave. So lax it is that even if one were to drop it, none should be judged for that sort of action. Rememberance is enough, to have it in one's mind for the rest of their life is more than what is required.
The only thing outlawed is betrayal. One should not turn against another's brother or sister. To turn against the very thing which you were once a part of, even, is seen as great taboo and dishonorable.
Unlike many of the other freeform archetypes of the Nemean faith, it is her youngest creations that worship her the most fervently. The Ursidian faith often isolates itself from their Faeborne 'siblings', considering their practices at best outdated or at worst outright incorrect. To worship Nemea as one of Pyrin's chosen is to embrace what it means to be a guardian. Dedicating oneself not only to the preservation of the natural spaces of Meranthe, but also defending them against whatever threats may impose themselves.
Festivals and sometimes rituals aren't uncommon, and feasts after great hunts are frequent, where the greatest kill is offered only to the Goddess. Burned to ash in offering in the cooking pyre, as her followers cheer and feast themselves.
Tying into the Ursidian tradition of the Black Hunt, it's also exceptionally common for followers of this path to hunt and destroy creatures and other sources of Shadowland taint. Often viewed as a balancing act to aid the Huntress' wild kingdom, such beings are considered active threats, and heresy to coexist with.