Translator's note: Common is not English, nor is druidic Japanese. But these were the closest concepts I could find. I apologize for any infelicity of meaning.
Editor's note: This is a fragment of a lesson delivered to novice druid candidates at the Dreamgrove in central Byssia. Although delivered in druidic, I have translated it into Common. The word "kami" has been left, as the Common words "spirit" or "god" or "supernatural" have the wrong connotations. Shindai and genki are technical terms also left in the original.
Everything that can grow or develop or change must have an associated Spark, the thing that changes but remains the same. In the races of man, we call that Spark the soul. Well, the forces of nature, the plants, the animals, the wildfires, the storms, all these and more have a Spark as well. To distinguish these Sparks from the mortal soul, we will call them kami.
Kami come in two basic states, between which they can transition (consciously or not). Shindai (asleep) or genki (awake, lively, healthy). Shindai-kami can only be changed by outside forces, they cannot change themselves. Genki-kami can grow and change on their own, like plants or animals in their natural state. A hunk of metal ore, torn from the ground by miners and hammered, can only be shindai. Mourn for the spirit, now stifled in silence if it exists at all. This is why we, those who hear the voices of the kami, will not willingly surround ourselves with suits of beaten metal. We accept that it must be, but to surround ourselves with the silent voices of the sleepers is too much. Too much pain to bear.
It is a fact of the Dream that kami are not separate entities, unlike souls. The mountain is one kami, but so are each of the boulders, yet they are both separate and not separate kami. When the mountain must move, the kami are one. When the boulders must move, they are separate, but still united. The kami of the wolf-pack is one, but each wolf is both the kami of the pack and the kami of the individual beast. So it is with all. This paradox of unity and division lies at the root of the seemingly irrational mentality of the kami. They understand death and birth (how could they not--birth and death are part of the cycle of change), but they don't understand individuality and loss, except dimly. If you disperse a spirit entity without destroying the physical entity to which it is bound, it will reform some time later unharmed. Dispersion is a minor consequence, like losing a childhood game. More serious is the corruption of nature--forcing things to go against their inherent natures. This the kami hates. Undeath too, the kami hates, for it tugs and nibbles at the net of kami itself, leaving only void in its wake.
Kami remember anything that happened to them, or any that they have merged with. But the meaning they take from it is not what we take, because their senses are not the same as ours. What they remember most clearly, and what affects them most, is the emotion with which the acts were performed. Only those kami who inhabit the bodies of animals even understand human emotion at all, and theirs is a muted, altered experience. I used the word "hate" above--a better term would be "is opposed to, acts against." So acts endowed with strong emotion fascinate the kami. In places or situations full of strong emotions, the local kami gather, merging into more complex forms that take physical shape that mimics those of mortals. These are the fey. They flit about the edges of mortal society, studying, mimicing, and inciting emotion. The fey are not eternal--many are transitory, existing for a moment and then dissolving back into their constituent kami. But some, especially those that become addicted to emotion, are longer lived.
The fey wear emotions like masks--the emotion they are portraying determines their shape and their behavior. They are not inherently malicious (although some act in ways indistinguishable from malice), but that does not make them harmless. To the fey (like to all kami), individual death is meaningless, but grief and pain are emotions to be toyed with just like joy or pleasure.
Some talk about Courts of the fey--this is both true and false. There are two main polarities of fey--those that are portraying the "positive" emotions and those that are portraying the "negative" emotions. Both these terms are misleading--a fey's portrayal of joy may be strange, almost manic, while a fey's portrayal of sadness may be beauty itself. For they do not understand the emotions that they portray. They experiment with combinations, with experiences, jumbling them together like a kalidoscope. Fey also change from one polarity (or Court) to another seemingly randomly--sometimes prompted by events of emotional salience near them, other times on a whim. There are no rulers, although the fey will crown one of their number "king" or "queen" (the title is at a whim, fey are neither male nor female) in mimicry of human traditions. The only thing that binds them is their kami nature--they are tied to their areas and cannot willingly go against their natures. They also will only cause lasting harm to another kami's territory under extreme duress, although mortals are fair game.
Beware of the kami associated with concepts, for those are the strangest of all. I will speak more of those later, after your initiation is complete.