Ondra (AHN-drah) (Huana: Ngati) is the goddess of all seas and oceans, who according to legend was in love with the moon. She is venerated by fishermen, sailors, those who live near water, and those who mourn loss - especially love.
The legends of Ondra are old compared to those of the other gods, and tales of her romance with the moon are especially well-known. In the stories, Ondra attempts to touch the moon but grasps only a piece of it, which plummets into the ocean. Its catastrophic impact causes the earth to shudder and the seas to surge all over the world. Ondra still pursues the moon, which kith believe causes the tides. Tidal waves and tsunamis are a result of her more forceful advances.
Ondra is one of the few gods that doesn't have a physical shape in legends and she is never known to speak. She is imagined as a goddess who listens without judgment. As such, many use the seas as a confessional. "Ondra's Hair" are long, shifting pillars of water that appear on the surface of oceans. They are the most direct manifestation of Ondra, and people believe they serve to thwart and punish plunderers of the sea.
In reality, Ondra was one of the gods created by the Engwithans. As the master of forgetting and the only one determined enough to handle the task, she sought to destroy the Engwithans to prevent them from ever threatening the gods with their refinement of animancy. This would be the last intervention before the gods swore off direct involvement in the affairs of the kith. To achieve this, she pulled Ionni Brathr, the smallest of Eora's moons, down from its orbit such that it would impact the Eastern Reach and Deadfire Archipelago, centers of Engwithan civilization. However, Abydon interfered with her plans. He forged a hammer that shattered the moon, causing most of its fragments to crash into the ocean. However, the largest shard remained on course. He threw himself in its path, sacrificing his life. Ondra honored his memory by erecting the Abbey of the Fallen Moon around his body, which lay in the mountains of the the White March.
Ondra is the patron of oceans and seas, forgotten places and things, loss, mourning, tides, and relentlessness.
The cult of Ondra takes on many forms, the most noticeable of which are Ondra's Giftbearers. They are a group which collects trinkets, love notes, and other objects from people that live far from the sea in exchange for a small fee. These objects are then cast into the ocean or dropped in a particularly deep spot during a special ceremony. There have been some cases of Giftbearers abusing their responsibility, which led to them being mistrusted or even attacked in some areas.
Of note is the secretive Abbey of the Fallen Moon, a remote cloister in the White March. Unknown to all but the highest ranking members of the cult and Giftbearers, it is built around the corpse of Abydon, the smithing god. It houses both the Salt Well, where the greatest burdens are forgotten, and the orders of High and Low Tides: the most revered ranks of Ondra's faithful, dedicated to memory and forgetting. The order of the High Tide is responsible for the day-to-day operations and defense of the Abbey, as well as preparing for the Low Tide's vows. The Low Tide is composed of Giftbearers who inhabit the Halls of Silence beneath the Abbey, where they submit to slow erasure of memory. Ultimately, they are sacrificed in the ritual of the Rising, where the Tidecaster selected by the Conclave arrives to drown them all and allow members of the High Tide to take the vows and inhabit the Halls below. Notably, many members of the Low Tide later regret their choices and the slow disintegration of their minds. Thus, the ritual is designed to prevent them from ever leaving the confines of the Abbey and revealing their secrets to the world beyond.
The ritual of sprinkling holy water is one of the most important traditions in the Ondrite church. For Ondra's followers, it signifies not only a sanctifying of the church, but the actual presence of the Lady of Lament herself. All Ondrite holy water comes from the ocean, and those pilgrims who convey the water from the sea are held in great esteem among Ondra's faithful.