In Silmaren, magic and the mother goddess are thoroughly intertwined. It’s a given that Sias, the Divine Mother, grants certain holy women special powers; and a woman who desires to hone her gift turns naturally to either the ecclesia (the religious hierarchy) or the two lay sisterhoods outside the ecclesia.
A woman with a calling for healing might join the Sisters of Remedy and train as either a lay keyholder or an apothecary, depending on whether she wishes to work directly with the sick and injured or whether she prefers compounding medicines. If she hopes to use her gifts to magnify Sias, she would apply to the Order of Malady within the ecclesia with the goal of becoming a holy salver, a phylaxor (a specialist in obscure disorders), or a nutricia. All of these religious professions are essentially keyholders – that is, they scan and manipulate the “keys” (radices) and “bridges” (arcs) of their patients – but their healing rituals contain a different emphasis than that of their lay sisters.
Healers are not the sole recipients of Sias’ bounty. Within the ecclesia, the Order of Sage-wifery offers women with a scholarly bent the opportunity to study a wide array of subjects – from the arcane discipline of mathematics to the more practical life sciences or earth sciences – and to devise ways in which magic might benefit these disciplines. Such women are called theurgists. Within the Order, there exists the Society of Theomancers, which accepts men.
The Sorority of Euna is the third order within the ecclesia to which gifted women turn. It also accepts women lacking the boon of Sias. Celebrants preside in the chapels where the Silmarish population worships. Gifted celebrants perform the high rites requiring magic, while mundane celebrants lead everyday services. Oath-sisters (both gifted and mundane) officiate at baptism, accordance, marriage, reconciliation, vows of vocation, and unction.
Outside the ecclesia, the Sisters of Hospitality offer justice to those wronged or forsaken by the royal judicial courts, contemplative atonement to repentant sinners, prophecy to petitioners chosen by the goddess, and ordinary hospitality to wayfarers. Their respective titles in these roles are: justiciar, confessor, oracle, and hostelier. Each has its own unique disciplines and magical teachings.
The vast majority of gifted women in Silmaren practice their vocations under the auspices of the Sisters of Remedy, the Sisters of Hospitality, the Great Orders of Malady or Sage-wifery, or the Sorority of Euna. A very few set up as independent theurgists, usually mentored by a man. Most male theurgists are independents, since gifted men have few options for sponsored practice. The gift of Sias is rare, however, so independent theurgists number but a handful and usually cluster in Silmaren’s capital city. Without the protection of the ecclesia or one of the lay orders, they risk being accused of incantatio by the less educated folk of the countryside.