The Oak and the Holly:
Calendars of the Clans
Other players have written about the intricate politics of the Clans of the Holly and Oak on other pages; my task is to merely touch on this so that this article makes more sense to you. For more generations than they can count, the Oak and Holly have been blood enemies. This is not unusual in the Wood where different Clans have vastly different lifestyles, yet the tenacity of the feud evolved into a very complex war dance, shall we say. In order to keep the peace, the Holly chose a champion and that champion had only one task: to kill the king of the Oak at the appointed time. In retaliation, the Oak warriors were allowed to hunt down and kill the Holly champion the next cycle. This was astonishing to us, for it was universal among the Tree Clans, that at the end of their lives they should tak on the shape of a tree and "take root." There were whole groves of dryads who had taken root throughout Anieth, which was one of the reasons that they hated humans for their felling of these groves.
The complexity of the feud comes into play with the eclipse pattern. There are three interwoven generations in the eclipse pattern of 18-19 years occurring at intervals of 5, 8, and 11 years. Below is the eclipse pattern again, so that you can see quickly what I mean. Do not try to decipher it, just look at the repeating patterns of blue red and bold-face black. The Terran Year column gives you an idea of our approximate dating in years BCE of these events.
The next step to understand is that there are three groups of each people: the Red Holly, the Red Oak, the Black Holly, the Black Oak, and the White Holly and the White Oak. This division among the people was to insure a balance of power. A White Oak King is elected, but he is killed by a Red Holly. The Oak Warrior who kills the Red Holly champion is elected Black Oak King. The mnemonic is this: red kills white, black kills red, white kills black. At first this seemed very primitive to us and bloodthirsty until we realized that this ritual had kept the peace on the border of these two strong peoples for centuries. Holly warriors vied for the championship and encouraged berserker traits in their sons. The system was not perfect, but no political system is. They did not seek perfection, only a balance of power and a focus of violence to keep war from breaking out constantly. Below you can see the event calendar of the Holly and Oak to see this ritual.
The people regulating this cycle and predicting the eclipses were the Hazel Clan, a client clan to the Oak who specialized in rituals and the storing of knowledge. They used the observatory at An Doras to calculate their predictions.
Each group of these two peoples kept their own dating, in that they called the years in their own pattern. So a Red Holly might say it was the "Year of the Red Wolf," but a White Holly might say it was the "Year of the White Pig," and a White Oak would said it was the "Year of the White Hawk." This seemed overly complicated to us, but we did not grow up with the system. It is often little differences like this that add up to an aggregate identity. Here is a large picture showing you the year pattern of these six groups. Because many of the other Clans were client to these two strong clans, they adopted the appropriate calendar.