Pre-Dawn Gilneas refers to the era before the birth of legendary king Aderic I, the conquest of Gilneas, and the later separation of Gilneas. It is referred to as P.D.G. on the Aderician Calendar and is seen as the era before the beginnings of modern Gilneas. It was noted for the presence of petty kingdoms along the peninsula that worshiped the Old Ways of Druidism, such as Duathe and Eldir'thiirn. These kingdoms were invariably conquered and their people later assimilated into the Empire of Arathor towards the end of this period.
In many respects, these years constitute the birth of a new culture, provided by the spark of the Duathe traditions. A vast amount of literature was written in this period of time.
Some of the customs of this period are preserved today. Notably, the modern 'keepers of the old ways' generally preserve the traditions of this period, rather than that of the strictly Duathe druidism. Additionally, the manner of ancestral reverence, government, and architecture seen today all have their roots in this period of time.
A noted historian wrote the following on the religion in this period:
“The Dru-weid of the headlanders represented an incredibly vibrant religion, born in the spring-time of civilizations, and yet having not withered overmuch from its original forms. Despite having enormous malleability when viewed from a purely localized perspective, the core principle, or ‘founding’ rule, remains unaltered: the world as a living organism.
There was a great creative force exemplified in the early headlanders, which manifested itself in oral tales, dances, and other -temporal- rituals. They are temporal in the sense that they are highly vulnerable to change, and hence within every successive generation one would find the stories changed slightly, and yet the essence of the faith maintained.
This deeply local faith, where each town had a slightly different pantheon of Gods, was also shown in the governmental structure of the Duathe: a collection of independent city-states, often warring with another until great crisis confronted them. Hence without the organizing principle, indeed, with -no- rational binding rule, the religion was scarcely able to blossom to the heights that it could potentially reach.
But what of the faith of the Arathorians themselves?
They bore their own pagan faith, and yet under imperial arathor this pagan faith served moreso as tool to supplant effective governmental rule, rather than a genuine religion which men live by. Indeed, there were many Arathorian writers of the time period whom claimed that faith had become ‘lame’ and out of style. There are several books published solely upon ancient Arathorian faith, but for this essay a brief summary shall suffice.
The native Arathorian face bore the organizing principle before Imperial Arathor even came to power. Hence, the texts and other various legends and sagas that were written, as well as the hiearchy that it possessed. With the rise of Imperial Arathor, philosophy gradually grew to become of more importance than faith, until the pagan religion largely became the ‘maiden of philosophy’. The Gods became conceived as split from the earth, untouchable and unknowable by man.
Many Arathorian customs of yore were thoroughly maintained. Most notably, the Irminsul tree, belief in nymphs, and emphasis upon the patriarchal individuality of man were exemplified in early Gilneas. The religion of ‘Drurla’ itself adopted a variety of Arathorian innovations, which served to enhance its spirit, while still maintaining the soul it had long held.
The creation of a single pagan faith to rule over Gilneas can largely be seen as an integration. The Arathorian pagan faith subtly influenced Drurla - but as has been stated before, the primary influence was not one of Arathorian religion as much as that of Arathorian -culture- in general. A single faith meant that there could no longer be ‘local’ forms that bore too much differentiation, and hence an -organized- faith was required.
Over a short period of time, the Elder Ways were gradually purged of local differences, and brought under a single mythology. There was little genuinely -new- mythology that came to be in this time period, but rather that of the old was unified, organized, and then written down in a series of tomes that would serve as vessels of the accumulated wisdom of the ancients.
In many respects, the Elder Ways was previously a ‘spirituality’ and now became a ‘religion’. One that had all the hallmarks of a young, flourishing faith, recently invigorated by the introduction of writing into Gilneas. The Dru-weid reborn under this new title: drurla, would serve as the faith of Gilneas until it was converted to the Light...”
As can be seen in this passage, the Drurla, what is now practiced by Keepers of the Elder Ways, was the result of the contact between a young, dream-like culture, unable to manifest its ideas into true granduer, and an older, decaying culture, replete with rationalism, and thoroughly requiring a new faith. "