Cycles, Families and Politics

Before you can begin to understand the politics of the Nine Nations, or the structure of the families, or even how the calendars are reckoned, there are some basics. The image below is a bit daunting. Lets begin with the cycle, which is a generation.

The Horse People, like most people who existed before Greece, based their year on the position of a certain star showing up at a certain time in the exact same part of the sky. The moon and the sun rarely share the same part of the sky, but do so in times that we have eclipses; a solar eclipse when the new moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, and a lunar eclipse when the Earth passes between the Moon and the Sun and casts a reddish shadow on the moon. Although eclipses happen at regular intervals, it takes 56 years for the sun and moon to be in the same part of the sky at the same time. If you have an eclipse on May 14, 1900, it will be likely that another eclipse will occur at May 13, 14, or 15 in 1956.

The peoples of Anieth, divided this 56 year cycle, called a Metonic Cycle, into three. Two sections of years numbering 19 and one of 18 years, depending on when eclipses were likely to happen. During the Metonic Cycle, there will be patterns of eclipses occurring at similar times of year, but a week off, or a month off. Sometimes the eclipse will be closer to the same date at 18 years, sometimes at 19, rarely at 20.

Family Tree

If you look at this family tree of the Holly and the White Nation, you will see at the top generations under the years. The Nine Nations reckoned the beginning of their calendar from the Clan war. The Clans reckoned their generations from a great distaster (volcanic eruption) that almost wiped out civilization. In Earth time, this would have been about 2500 BCE about the time that the great volcanic eruption in Iceland occurred and covered most of Europe in dust for two years. Thus the 10 generation is about 190-200 years, whereas the 18 generation is the date above of 317-335 years. The numerical dates used in the books are from the eruption, but neither the Clans nor the Nine Nations reckoned dates by years, but by generations. Below is a map of the generations.

Visual Mnemonics in Anieth

So you see here first, that the years are numbered on the left and that cycles (in color) occur about every 18 to 19 years. I'm going to show this image to you repeatedly, so now just look at the repeating bands of light orange, dark orange, light brown, dark brown, etc.

Nations and their Patrons

The Horse People (Tualárach) split off nine tribes or nine nations and settled Anieth. They started pushing into the heavy woods and mountains of Anieth and ran into a war with the native Clans and lost. The Hazel Clan created this new political model for the Nine Nations, who became more and more separated from the rest of their kin on the Plain of the Horses. Each Nation was to be ruled by one family. Each generation a woman (usually the daughter of the reigning queen) would be elected to serve as queen. This election involved a rigorous initiation overseen by her patron Wood Clan. After her election, she then would oversee the election of a consort king.

In ancient times, kings and queens often were the embodiment of gods and goddesses. For the human to fullfil this role, required perfection of body as well as purity of heart. Because of the nature of mortality, these tenures were often cut short abruptly as a king or queen began to fail of age or the accumulation of the bad manna of the group. Think of ancient rulers as "lucky charms" whose luck would rub off as the person aged. For the rulers of the Nine Nations, the tenure was 18 or 19 years. At the end of that time, a queen had to step down and a king had to die. This may sound cruel or barbaric to our modern ears, but most people believed firmly in re-incarnation, and killed kings always became gods. In ancient societies like the beginnings of Egypt, kings were often killed and then all their wives and concubines were sacrificed to accompany them to the afterlife. In modern times, not even fanatics have this capacity for belief!

Look at the image again.

Nations and their Patrons

You will note two things among these Nine colored bands. One, that an animal queen is always paired with a tree king and a tree queen with an animal king; and two, that they switch off each generation.

A female is chosen to be queen. She undergoes an initiation in the wood where she is paired with a man of the Clans. If the child is born healthy and is a girl, the princess will inherit the magical mind of her father. If the father was of a Tree Clan, she will be a Tree Queen. If the father was of an Animal Clan, she will be an Animal Queen.

Unlike much of the world, Western Europe (and Anieth since it is an alterate Earth) enjoyed an ancient system wherein the females usually stayed with their birth families and inherited those lands from their mothers. Actually, they did not own the land, but inherited the guardianship of that land and the settlements upon it. Thus a family might be three or four generations of mothers and daughters and their female kin. The males of the family either stayed in that family's territory, or went off to seek their fortunes. Among the Nine Nations, a consort king was one of two men. As a Tree King, he was the royal son of another family; as an Animal King, he was a local (or foreign man) of lower class status or of foreign status.

This map corresponds to the bands you see on the chart above. You can see here how each Nation neighbors another in a fan around the Wood, rather than being clumped together. To insure the cooperation of the Nations, the White Nation was held hostage, surrounded by the Wood, deep in the hostile country of the Holly, Oak and Willow. For more information, see the other political articles.


The Hazel and the Clans of the Wood were interested in one thing: to keep the Nine Nations from consolidating power. By giving the Queens competing powers, they created a breach between generations of women. By forcing the Kings to come from different families or social strata, they set up a competition between King and Queen so they did not consolidate power. The King, with his warriors, usually opposed the Queen and her family. By varying the generations across the Nine Nations, starting their cycles at different years, their could be no solid group of kindred kings in neighboring Nations to join together to form an alliance.

To begin to understand most of the problems in the Tales of Anieth, it is vital to understand this cyclical balance of power imposed upon the Tualárach by the Clans of the Wood. It also broke up factions in the wood since the Clans would tend to favor those Tualárach families that carried their blood. A Wood King would only have influence over a Nation for as long as his daughter ruled. Natural rivalry between the Clans prevented any power consolidation at the patron level as well as among the humans.

The crux of the Invasion Re-enactment hinges on King Raol's defection to Zelosia in 379, the year before he was supposed to be sacrificed to make way for the next Red Elk King. Fearing his death at the hand of his wife's patrons, the Ash Clan, he deserted his Nation, for which he had little loyalty, being a Prince of the White Nation, and joined forces with Zelosia to destroy the Clans. He did not know that in destroying the Wood, he would also have to see his own people destroyed.

Peter Shields says that this is the first sign of the natural evolution of Kings in which a King, not desiring his holy death, finds a Scapegoat King to replace him, thus evolving the society from a manifestation of god channeled into the sacrifice unto god while the king might be that god enthroned, or might be engaged in appeasing the now angry god with everything but his own death.

© 2012, A.R. Stone

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