Also known as the Martyr, the Wounded Woman, She of Bloody Water
Goddess of Healing, Sacrifice, Hope and Perseverance.
- Associated Colours: White and Red
- Symbol: An extended hand with a bleeding palm
Do all you can to heal those who need healing or to abate their suffering in the understanding that Vaitera suffers in kind to alleviate their pain. Always choose practicality over comfort, as Our Lady knows no comfort, and to honour her eternal suffering to elevate that suffering from us, we should keep our worldly comforts to a minimum. Freely make sacrifices for the benefit of others. Remind those you aid that Vaitera suffers for them freely and asks nothing in return. Remain healthy in your own body so you might best aid those around you. No follower of Vaitera is permitted to heal a sufferer of leprosy, nor endure contact with those suffering leprosy, as it is too vile a disease for even Vaitera to suffer.
The only female god within the pantheon of the United Church, Vaitera is a much-needed element of nurture and healing. She is seen a figure of maternity, a figure of empowerment, entertained as a figure of courtly love, a noble entity of martyrdom, a vigil of hope through sufferance and a mournful figure in perpetual anguish. Readings and interpretations of Vaitera and her sacrifice are widely varied and often a cause for controversy between conflicting readings.
The only source of healing magic that is ‘clean’ and ‘reliable’ in the eyes of the average man is that of Vaitera’s blessings. Of sources of healing does exist, in alchemical concoctions or savage rituals, but Vaitera’s healing is both thorough and blessed. It is known that, in the heavens, Vaitera has sacrificed all heavenly comforts to exist in eternal suffering, granting those followers that draw upon her powers the capability of transplanting the wounds of mortals onto her godly being, so she might suffer in place of them. The wound of a man is nothing for a god to suffer, but the countless number of wounds she accumulates from the healing that her followers do accumulate to an existence of anguish for the god. A follower of Vaitera must accept the fact that they are, in wielding the powers bestowed by her, causing Vaitera to exist in eternal and endless suffering: but it is a suffering she endures willingly.
The healers of Vaitera must be discerning in when they do and do not heal, however. Leprosy is a disease brought about by sin and endured only by those that have wronged the gods in some way and in Vaiterian texts it is said again and again that they who suffer leprosy must not be cured. Not only are they deserved of their fate, but the disease they carry is too much for the Wounded Woman to bear. Leprosy is amongst the plagues that Vaitera cannot endure and, whilst it is possible to heal these disease with her magics, doing so has dire consequences for the individual and for their goddess. Vateranites that have cured leprosy have seen punishment befitting murder and treason in the past.
Vaitera manifested at the Last Battle of Starkholm as a woman dressed in white robes over which the blood that flowed from her many wounds ran as if the wool of it were slick and waxed. Her very tears were blood, and she left a a bloody footprint where she stepped. Her steps, however, did not carry her very far. She quietly and slowly waded through the battle, stricken by blows from Legionaries, she merely accumulated cuts and wounds, walked herself atop a hill, and announced in a voice that would have been too soft to hear were it a mortal: ‘I suffer the wounds of mankind to relieve their own suffering. I do not extend to you the same courtesy.’
With her arms outspread, the inflicted the wounds that she had suffered on behalf of humanity onto the Legion.
Though several nations claim to have been the heart of Vaiterian worship, there is no discernible ‘origin’. The influence of the Martyr was widespread from the very beginning, the incredible powers possessed by Vaiterian healers meant that the talents of her clergy were sought-after in all walks of life. Across most of the nations of the Realm, the clergy of Vaitera have always been in a position of respect. But what the history of Vaiterian worship is full of is fractures and splinter-groups, branches of the church formed over different interpretations of the holy texts of Vaitera, and several internal conflicts between these groups that have lead to age-old grudges that still foster even today.
Vaitera has long been a presence in the various cultures of the Realm. Offerings and prayers to Vaitera were a practice indiscriminate of age, gender or social status. If a friend or family member became ill, most everyone turned their thoughts to Vaitera. Monasteries and churches to Vaitera were quite often houses of healing and hospices that would welcome anyone into their halls, be if it they walked there or were carried, to be given the treatment they needed or the capability of spending their waning days in peace and care provided that they did not carry any of the unholy diseases that the texts of Vaitera deemed unclean and incurable.
There was a trend for wandering Vaiterans to travel in self-imposed pilgrimages to live a selfless life curing any and all that required them. Called the Wandering Clergy, they were common across all of the nation of the Realm and saw pilgrimages as far as the Iron Empire and even Norlundar. There was some divergence even there between those who believed that they should travel as comfortable as they might and accept rewards and recompense for their healing and those that sought an impoverish life and eschewed even necessities such as foot-ware, travelling in discomfort to mirror the suffering of their goddess.
This latter mindset is what brought about one of the more radical branches of the Vaiteran church, the Ibarrish branch of Her Lady’s Scourged. Believing that any suffering that a follower of Vaitera can shoulder would elevate the suffering of the goddess herself and that it is the duty of those that truly worship the goddess to practice the mortification of the flesh. Her Lady’s Scourged usually travel swinging crops over their shoulders to lash at their much-scarred backs, barefoot and shaven headed with merely a pair of woolen trousers to clothe them.
Just as Her Lady’s Scourged believed in Vaitera being a woman in constant anguish that needed revered, the Lancesians believed something much different. They believed that Vaitera was a distressed damsel, locked in the heavens in a prison of suffering that might not even have been her will, longing for a knight in shining armour to rescue her from that place. To these followers, Aethon was that very knight, and worship of Vaitera was often very closely linked to worship of Aethon. It is of little surprise, then, that these two branches of thought in particular were often at odds. The church of Lady Vaitera Virtuous despised the brutal and barbaric actions of Her Lady’s Scourged, and Her Lady’s Scourged detested how the church of Lady Vaitera Virtuous ignored the true implications of her suffering for the sake of a romanticised love story.
When the Great Pestilence, the already respected and valued Vaiteran clergy became a necessity for each and every settlement, and a necessity that could not be so widely spread. The church of Vaitera had neither the time nor the resources to see their followers distributed so far and wide across the Realm. There was also a reticence from the Vaiterian clergy to endorse such a distribution. The Great Pestilance was believed to be as foul a disease as leprosy to some, and several priests reported that they had received visions of Vaitera being incapable of suffering such a disease. There came a time of internal dispute within the Vaiteran church that saw some of the more zealous branches of the church challenging some of the more humanitarian wings in their actions.
Come the formation of the United Church, in light of there being so many nuances to Vaiterian worship, the choice of which text would be included in the Libris Unitas was pivotal. Ultimately the Church settled on reproducing a Damryn version of the text, the Codex of Cademon with an Anderian influence in its editing and a general decree that ‘if an individual, in following the Martyr, Vaiteria, believes and wishes to pursue an avenue more pious that in the eyes of another might seem more vulgar, that is a matter of discussion between those two individuals and serves no place in this Church.’
The Fall has, if anything, exacerbated the arguments between the branches of the church. The survivors of most splinter groups are few and far between, but those few that have survived believed they did so due to following the true will of Vaitera. The United Church’s stance on this is to point out that the bulk of Vaiteran worship today is contained within the United Church.
Worship of Vaitera comes in many forms, with central themes running throughout most of cleanliness and recognition of the goddess’s sacrifice and suffering. Within the United Church sermons to Vaitera mostly consist of select readings of the texts and some hymns, usually quiet and somber affairs that allow for quiet contemplation. Most Vaiteranites pray and sing knelt down with their heads cast upwards to the heavens, sometimes with their arms outspread and palms facing upwards. Their hands will be drawn together and their head bowed only when their prayer is done. In these times of prayer, it is not uncommon for followers to weep or even experience spasms of anguish.
The tales told at Vaiteran sermons tend to be tales of sacrifice and selflessness, mostly drawn from Damryan and Anderian tales of much the same subject matter, but some tales of further afield have found themselves intergrated within Vaiterian sermons.
There tends to be a strong personal influence to Vaiterian sermons. The song and tales are mostly lead by a Priest, but anyone of the church can arrange to lead the song or tell the tale. In this, there are more stories entering Vaiterian sermons. Several tales of nobility and sacrifice from the Fall have been circulated amongst the worshipers of Vaitera, and were able to become solid fixtures by the men and women of the church that told them.
Confession is a practice of the Vaiterian church, a member of the priesthood often available to sit in a booth specifically designed to preserve the confessor’s anonymity so that they might admit their sins to Vaitera and to the Church and hope that the gods will grant them mercy. The priest would often discuss ways that the sinner could begin their road to redemption and how best to atone in the long-term.
The average priest of Vaitera is a patient and empathetic individual who can be as soothing and understanding as any situation needs them to be. There is, because of this, something of an expectation for Vaiteranites to be soft-spoken, timid and easy to influence. These stereotypes, whilst true in some cases, are just that: stereotypes. In fact, after the fall, there has been an increase of Vaiteranites learning a weapon, spurred on perhaps by the atrocities witnessed during the Fall at the hands of the Legion or inspired by the words of the goddess herself, ‘I suffer the wounds of mankind to relieve their own suffering. I do not extend to you the same courtesy.’ That said, any Vaiterian healer that worked amongst knights as a combat healer would know a weapon so that they might defend themselves on the field.
Traditional Vaiterian garb includes a cord or rope tied around each of the wrists. The colour of this cord usually denotes rank within the church, though red rope is worn by all members of the Vaiterian clergy to symbolise the blood of their goddess.
Vaitera was no better regarded than anywhere else in the Realm, and though she was not disregarded, she had minimal role in Damryan society. She was sometimes depicted to be a strong women capable of weathering the greatest of all challenges, but ultimately Tyaus and Aethon were favored in worship over her.
Worship of Vaitera within Lancereaux was often conducted in light of her relationship with Aethon. The fact that she was a prominent and powerful goddess was often underplayed in relation to the power of masculinity and, as such, she was portrayed more as a damsel in distress that needed aid from a masculine god more than an independent deity of her own
In Andermark, worship of Vaitera was a fairly no-frills affair. The church of Vaitera was treated in much the same respect as the churches of Aethon and Tyaus, and as such come the formation of the United Church there was ample communication between the parishes that brought about Vaitera’s inclusion amongst the four.
Worship of Vaitera within Calavria saw a boost come the Great Pesitlance, the nation that stood most strongly in favour of healing the plague that swept across Calavria. Not only that, but it was most notably Calavrian nobles that saw the priorty of the healer’s attention, who then in turn put money back into the church of Vaitera.
The home of Her Lady’s Scourged, worship of Vaitera within Ibarran has always been taken to something of an extreme. The suffering of Vaitera has been seen as relative to the suffering of the Ibarrish people over the years in both a social and political matter. The Ibarrish believe strongly that neglecting the suffering of Vaitera and lack of respect towards that suffering indicate someone who does not truly worship the Martyr goddess.
The Norls have never worshiped Vaitera in any organised fashion. As such, any Vaiteranite followers in Norlundar were exceptions, and would likely have conducted their worship in the manner of their conversion.