The Aereni tradition of ancestor worship has evolved considerably
since the birth of the Undying Court. Instead of revering
those ancestors long dead, the Aereni venerate the dead
that remain. In the eyes of the elves, existence is a spiritual
journey that takes thousands of years to accomplish—a journey
only the undying can complete. Thus, the Aereni honor the
deathless who are on this final path, but their true deity is the
combined essence of the ascended councilors, the undying
who have journeyed beyond life and death to reach the final
destination of the elven soul. While the ascendant councilors
can still take physical form, the elves do not worship them as
individual deities. Instead, they revere the ascendant union
as the ultimate embodiment of the elf race.
As a result of these beliefs, the Aereni do not fear death. On the contrary, it is a state to be desired as the next step on the path to ascension. However, an elf must earn the right to walk this path. The Priests of Transition are the ambassadors to the Undying Court, and it is these clerics who judge the achievements of an elven life and decide the fate of a candidate. Those who have shown tremendous heroism and skill at arms may be reborn as undying soldiers, while the wisest among the elves become undying councilors. An elf judged to be flawed or foolish may be left to die, leaving room for a stronger spirit to enter the community. But more often than not, the Priests of Transition use raise dead to restore a fallen elf so that he may continue his journey along the path of existence.
The elves believe that it is the devotion of the family that preserves the spirits of the undying. As a result, an elf is expected to be deeply familiar with the lives of his undying ancestors, and to show respect to all of the undying. The Tairnadal elves of Valenar and Northern Aerenal have a different focus. While they respect the elders of the Undying Court, they worship the spirits of the warriors of Xen’drik—elves who fell long before the Undying Court was raised. The Tairnadal priests are known as the Keepers of the Past, and their ranks include both clerics and bards. At birth (or upon joining The Tairnadal, in the case of a half-elf or Aereni recruit) the Keepers of the Past consult the spirits to determine an elf’s patron ancestor. The Tairnadal believe that by emulating the behavior of their patron ancestors, they give those ancestors a chance to live again in the current generation.