Sacred groves or sacred woods are groves of trees and have special religious importance within a particular culture. Sacred groves feature in various cultures throughout the world. They were important features of the mythological landscape and cult practice of Celtic, Estonian, Baltic, Germanic, ancient Greek, Near Eastern, Roman, and Slavic polytheism; they also occur in locations such as India, Japan (sacred shrine forests), West Africa and Ethiopia (church forests). Examples of sacred groves include the Greco-Roman temenos, various Germanic words for sacred groves, and the Celtic nemeton, which was largely but not exclusively associated with Druidic practice. During the Northern Crusades of the Middle Ages, conquering Christians commonly built churches on the sites of sacred groves. The Lakota and various other North American tribes regard particular forests or other natural landmarks as sacred places. Singular trees which a community deems to hold religious significance are known as sacred trees.
I first reached Mummel and then passed through Courland, reaching the Curonian king, where we had to watch his pagan superstitions. Since Christmas was approaching, they went hunting in their holy forest, where they do no hunting and do not cut a single rod throughout the rest of the year. All that they now hunted there: roe deer, red deer and hares, they skinned, cooked and placed on a long table. They fastened a large number of wax candles to the table, for the souls of their parents, children and relatives. After this, standing and walking to and fro, they ate and drank, and forced us to do likewise. Later, they brought an empty beer keg and beat on it with two sticks, and the men and women, as well as the children, danced around the table, something that continued for the whole night. When they went to bed one after another, they invited us to eat and take with us what we would, since they would not eat what was left over, but would give it to the dogs. Neither did they want to take any payment from us for what we had eaten.
Based on historical data, it is estimated that there are around 2500 sacred natural sites in Estonia, the largest of them covering up to 100 hectares. Although rather exceptional among most of the technologically developed countries, in Estonia both the sacred natural sites and indigenous customs connected to them are still in use. Therefore, the heritage that is connected to sacred natural sites has great importance to the national identity and environment of Estonians.
The Conservation Plan foresees creating a database which supports researching and managing natural sanctuaries. The database would consist of folkloric, archaeological, natural, historical and other data on sacred natural sites and provide information on the exact location, condition and form of ownership of each site. In 2011 a scandal occurred when a company started clearcutting Rebala's sacred grove nearby Maardu manor due to a misunderstanding between the Environmental Board and the National Heritage Board.
However, one of the most striking examples of the tree reverence among them can be seen in the graveyards which are considered as holy ground, on which no stone structure can be built upon. The whole area are covered by large and tall trees, so much foliage that the scorching tropical sun is reduced to a dim shadow as temperatures drop to a comfortable cool. Malay folklore relates that the trees whisper prayers to the creator in absolution of the past transgression of the ground's once human inhabitants. The trees are also allowed to take root into the graves where the grave keepers (penjaga kubur in Malay) slowly remove gravestones (which used to be made from wood) as they are ejected from the grounds onto the surface. There is also a ritual of planting small tree sapling on fresh graves by family members who will then water it and tend to it periodically. Petals from fresh red and pink roses are also brought upon visitation to be scattered on the graves and a ritual of pouring rose water upon the soils are also performed.
Religion represents the belief systems of the ancient world, usually polytheistic and encompassing a wide range of gods, and important to everything, from daily life to the highest political echelons. In the game, every state, character, and pop belongs to a particular religion, with their interactions playing a significant role in loyalty and pop happiness. The choice of pantheon gods and omens in the state religion forms an important part of the modifiers and bonuses that a country has, and is the one of the main interactions that a player will have with religion, with the systems of holy sites and sacred treasures providing more auxiliary goals and flavour. Most religion interactions can be managed through the Religion tab.
Every nation has a state pantheon consisting of four deities (also called prophets, yazatas, or paradigms, depending on the religion), one for each category: War, Culture, Economy, and Fertility. Every nation can select from a fixed list of their religion's deities to fill the slots, with some deities available to all countries of that religion and some with stricter requirements such as culture, tag, or finishing a certain mission task. In addition, polytheistic nations can also select deities from other polytheistic religions if they own that deity's holy site, or a high enough percentage of their pops follows a given religion. The percentage required depends on the deity's rarity: Very Common deities require 5% of the nation's total pops to follow the deity's religion, Common deities require 10%, Rare deities require 20%, and Very Rare deities require 40%.
Each deity has a fixed passive modifier which is in effect as long as that deity is part of the pantheon. Additionally, every 5 years (adjusted by the Omen Duration modifier) one can invoke an omen from one of the pantheon's deities, which confers an additional, usually more powerful, bonus. The current omen's effects are multiplied by the nation's current Omen Power, with the base effects being reached at 100% Omen Power - note that omen power is uncapped and often will rise above 100% as the game progresses. Owning the deity's holy site increases the effect of both its passive and omen modifiers (if enabled) by 25%.
Holy sites can hold sacred treasures, which confer bonuses to the entire province the holy site is located in - it is therefore typically useful to bring as many sacred treasures as possible to the capital province in order to maximize the effects of their bonuses. Any treasure can be placed in any holy site regardless of its religion, but each holy site has a limited number of altars where sacred treasures can be placed, depending on the rank of its territory: one for settlements, two for cities, and three for metropolises. There is a fixed amount of sacred treasures in the world, with new ones only being created as a result of certain missions and events. Sacred treasures can be removed from an owned holy site at any time at the cost of +1.00 Aggressive Expansion.
Desecrating a holy site can be done at any time through the Religion menu if it is owned, or by using the Desecrate Holy Sites army ability with an army located on a controlled holy site's territory - note that a holy site does not necessarily need to be owned for an army to desecrate it, which means that an army can desecrate a holy site belonging to another nations if it is occupied. Desecrating a holy site destroys it and deposits all of its sacred treasures in the desecrating nation's reliquary, while the territory gets a -10% Local Population Happiness modifier to the territory for 12 months. Using the army interaction also costs +2.00 Aggressive Expansion, and if the army is a they may gain either the Pia or Impia distinctions depending on whether or not the holy site's deity belongs to the state religion. Every nation that follows the religion of the holy site's deity will also receive a notification event and might lose opinion of the desecrating country.
In the holy sites tab in the religion menu, all holy sites in owned territories as well as those for deities currently being worshiped in the pantheon, even if currently unowned, are shown and can be selected in the list. Owned holy sites - even those of deities currently in the pantheon - can be desecrated at any time, with their treasures being returned to the reliquary, at the cost of -10% Local Population Happiness in the territory for 1 year (as well as the loss of the holy site itself). Treasures in holy sites of deities not in the pantheon can be removed here.
As a separate god, deified rulers are not affected by the holy sites of their parent deity and may have their own holy sites created in a territory - this does mean that if a deified ruler is created out of a deity whose holy site is currently owned, the new deity will not get the +25% bonus from owning the holy site until a new holy site is created for the new deity. If a deified ruler is not part of any country's pantheon for more than 20 years, their cult will be forgotten, and the deity, including any holy sites, will no longer be available.
Religious Reformation - Pagan rulers can reform their faith, turning it into an organized religion with a religious head. This requires either a) control of 3 of the religion's holy sites and 50% moral authority, or b) all 5 holy sites. A significant amount of piety is also required in either case. Rulers who follow a Reformed Pagan faith can use the Holy War Casus Belli, gain access to most succession laws, no longer suffer Prestige loss while at peace, and will have less trouble with independent minded vassals. However, they will also lose the defensive supply limit penalty for religious enemies in their territory, and their vassals will now get upset if their levies are raised for too long. For all pagans except Norse, the religious head title goes to a rand