Rewarding divine faithfulness was not the only method the gods employed to bestow magik. Sometimes the gods chose to send their messages through servants housing their divine spirit, making these people into divine vessels from which their magik flowed. The primary distinction between these divine vessels and the people of faith described above was, unsurprisingly, faith. In the former examples, those people received the gods’ favor as a reward for devotion. For divine vessels, opportunity was the catalyst to divine magik, not faith.
The gods, excluding the Vanara, did not visit Sangrar. In effect, the Ban of the Primals, which forbid the Craeylu from coming down from the Heavens following the Battle of Molten Fire, was extended to all the Elder Gods during the Age of Man. For the Craeylu, the Ban’s continuance was no great punishment. They had been confined to the Outermost Heavens for so many ages that they had grown accustomed to it. For the Ealar and Elehu, newly come to the Heavens following the Reckoning, the Ban was far more severe. These gods had spent the entirety of the Elder Days on Sangrar, coming and going as they pleased and interacting with members of the Elder Races. To have these interactions taken away, so completely and so abruptly, left the gods feeling isolated, withdrawn, and distant. They could easily scry upon the people of the world, but pure voyeurism was not enough to satisfy them, not after spending ages among the Elder Races. These were gods, beings with important works to carry out and important messages to deliver.
With the world forbidden to them, the gods had to resort to other methods to see their will done. They interacted with the people of the world by possessing individuals and transforming them into divine vessels, conduits through which the gods could reach out to the people of the world. To be sure, the gods selected people of great faith more often than not, though this was not a requirement. Because the gods mostly selected very spiritual people to serve as their vessels, it’s easy to confuse a divine vessel with a person receiving a gift from the gods. To some extent, it’s a distinction mostly of intent. In one instance, the god’s intent is to reward an individual’s faith. In the other, the god’s purpose is to guide his or her flock of followers. Stated differently, with divine vessels it’s more about the message than the messenger. Another way in which the two differ is the duration of the divine favor. With divine vessels, the god’s presence was often temporary. In constrast, the rewards granted to people of great faith very often remained intact throughout the recipient’s life.
Take Hermyna, the Maiden’s high priestess as an example. She was a person of great faith and a divine vessel for the Maiden. She kept Her traditions alive when the Devotees were hunted and persecuted by the God-Emperor’s Averchai. Surely she was deserving of a reward for her faithfulness, but that is not why the Maiden blessed her. The Maiden chose Hermyna as a vessel so that Her word would spread to the Devotees and keep Her worship alive. Hermyna had power as the vessel of the Maiden, a power that always served the Maiden’s purpose.
Another example is the priestesses serving Norath the Seeress described in Madness Ascendant. When the priestesses stared into the scrying waters, they saw visions granted by the Seeress, in effect making them her divine vessels. The Seeress always worked towards the fulfillment of the Prophecies of the Ages and steered her priestesses appropriately by granting them visions.
The blessing of the seasons likewise illustrates the concept of divine vessels. The turn of each season was celebrated across the great expanse of Sangrar. These celebrations varied from nation to nation, and over the course of time, but always represented the cycle of life, death and rebirth burned into the world during the dawn of time by Lillandra and her brother, Aerdran the Thunderer, a pattern so strong that it survived the breaking and remaking of the world. A champion represented each season: Solare the Summer Lord, Garruth the Laughing God of the Harvest, Kandalla the Winter Lord, and Spollnar River Goddess of the Spring. When the people of Sangrar celebrated the beginning of a new season, these champions possessed celebrants, one from each community, and breathed their blessing onto the world. On the first day of Spring, a thousand Spollnars blessed the planting of the crops. On the first day of Fall, a thousand Laughing Gods blessed the harvest.
This distinction, that between divine vessels and people of great faith, may or may not seem important to you, but as I see it, the distinction is terribly important. These two types of divine magik illustrate how the gods were capable of rewarding those that served them well and, just as importantly, how the gods had goals of their own, causes that they championed, causes that they actively pursued rather than passively waiting and hoping that they would come to pass.