Rituals - The Selection of Kings and Queens
Rituals and Taboos of the Royalty of the Nine Nations
I must ask of your patience with such a complex subject. As you know, my style is not very clear to begin with, but this subject is especially complicated. For the sake of brevity, I shall briefly talk about the Nations in general and give detailed explanations of the three Nations still in tact at the time of the Corr of the Avena: the White Throne, the Red and the Black. But first I must discuss a little of the difference between our rituals and those of the ancients.
It is important to understand mindset when talking of ritual. Moderns are good at playacting, but for them, especially of the West, ritual is little more than a touch of the past effecting custom. People think the Morris dancers to be quaint and fun, but they no longer are transported by the ritual itself, just taken by the music and the mummery or curious, anthropologists in the own culture. In any discussion of royalty, the first thing you must do is to jettison all your ideas of royalty as a political force. One of the crux conflicts of Anieth is the difference between the political royalty of Zelosia in the person of the Emperor and the Lords of Zelosia and the spread of royalty demonstrated in the natives. For the Tualárach are also different from the Tree Clans and they are different from one another. However, that aside, I shall try to get you into the mindset of ancient or confederate royalty. Be aware that among the great confederations, kings and queens were illegal, so some explaining needs to be done.
The great change between confederate kingships and the Classical was political. For the ancients, a king or queen was a religious figure, very much like the King of Fools still depicted in Catholic countries during various Mardi Gras celebrations. The idea of a king and queen has its roots in ancient agricultural celebrations that were also common among pastoral peoples, but not present in hunter-gatherer societies who were religiously dominated by wizards and witches instead. In the agricultural communities, the religious nature of the world was transmitted from the individual who could channel the energy of animals or elements to the group who made a mass appeal to perpetually angry gods. As nature fell more and more under the control of man, so the energy of the world became more and more anthropomorphized so that a bear mother became a grain mother, or not the figure of a bear, but the figure of a human woman carrying a stalk of grain. In most societies, Artemis still trails in the pantheon, but Demeter holds forth as someone just as or more important. Among the male energy, the ancient male elements became demonized and the figure of the male became younger and more beautiful, less mysterious and very human.
For a long, long time, kings and queens continued to be religious in nature, yet in many societies they obtained political power and became rulers instead of privileged slaves. This reached a height across the grain belt with the elaborate sacrifices taking place with a slave substituted for the king! One of the best analogies I can think of for that of the ancient religious king is that of the lightning rod. The king was elevated above the people to take the wrath of the gods and ground it. He had to be of a certain nature to attract the attention of the gods, who were very choosy and hard to please. Contests were held to choose the best of the best to be the king. He had to be physically perfect, young, win at all the contests, be attractive to women, and carry charm. Charm meant much more than our word "charming". It was a way of saying that a man was chosen by fate. He had an ability to be popular, to stand out from the crowd. He was often lucky. The best kind of king was a commoner who was so coordinated and beautiful that he rose up out of the ranks and caught the attention of everyone. This person is still portrayed over and over and over in the form of the hero, showing that this ritual is still a popular story, so popular that sports show no sign of losing the interests of the common people any time soon.
So rather than thinking of a king like King Henry or King Phillip, it is better to think of a sports star, perhaps not very bright, but very very physically coordinated and wildly popular. Think of him being a kind of national mascot, a figurehead of luck and charm. The ancients then took this man and made him into the darker figure that we moderns try to ignore: the scapegoat. Like a lightning rod, once struck, the king had to be buried and a new king supplied. The king was there to take the wrath of the gods and absorb the bad karma of the nation so that, in a ritualistic death, that karma might be expunged. Of course, most kings didn't really like this part of their job, and very soon figured out ways to put someone else in the place of the scapegoat, even in stories. But the pageant of Jesus dying for the sins of man is so much more ancient than Jesus of Nazareth that it's embarrassing.
But what a pageant! Even today this concept of a man becoming holy and then taking on the sins of man is a powerful religious concept. It could be said that the ancients were more literal than we: it was not enough for them to refer to a man that lived in the deep past, they wanted that man before them, literally dying over and over again. But it could also be said that Jehovah of the Christians is a much milder god than the ancient gods were. He might cause bad things to happen just as frequently, but he's less bloodthirsty about it. Gods tend to tell us more about ourselves these days than the world.
The queen concept is almost dead in modern societies. Neopagans are fervently trying to resurrect the concept of the earth mother, with mixed success. The problem is that the ancients were capable of living with the disparate concepts of the mother layered on top of other female energy, but we moderns tend to be a bit confused on the issues and more confused by the Feminists insisting that these concepts are threadbare at best. Among the Nations, both major female energies are still represented as well as both major male energies. I shall explain these below.
Originally, the queen was the earth itself and the king was the seed, the plant and the grain to be harvested. So the figure of the mother carrying the sheaf of grain was the earth supporting that which grew in and on the earth. For the earth to be made human was for a woman not to be set apart to please the gods, like the male, but transfigured into the sacred in and of herself. So where the male was chosen from the ranks, the female was the land, was the nation, and could not be chosen but must be born into her role. She could have no talent to set her apart, her only talent was in her being, so her beauty was all. Her job was merely to keep pure what she was born with. Just as the earth must be fertile and free of poisons, so the queen had to be chaste, virginal, free of cultural evils and purity itself. Only in her cleanliness and beauty and health could the seed flourish. It is important to understand that, although this queen represented the earth, she was originally a water spirit, something that still shows up in her being figured as connected with the ocean as in the figure of Aphrodite or even Mary. Blue was her color, not brown, but later she took on the colors of the earth: white, gold, red and black.
Because of the earlier connection to water, often the purity thing became stressed to the point of sexual purity and chastity until you finally get modern concepts such as holy conceptions taking place without a man around. Even this religious idea, as strange as some may find it is ancient and important. In ancient societies, the queen passed on the godly energy, not be producing offspring with a mortal man, but with a god. In some twisted way, the holy offspring often became a male. This was due to the confusion of the holy male being produced out of the common people, often a slave woman whose beauty had drawn the attention of her master, so leaving her with a child who had no father of the ranks. A small step is needed to make him a child of god and thus charmed, or chosen by the gods.
o we moderns, it often seems of all importance to know the father of a child. To the ancients, it was often of little or no consequence, so little that the legalities of inheritance were matrilineally based just to get around the whole debate of who was the father. Legal precedent was such that it was just easier to connect wealth through the mother. In religious rites this gave women the ability to chose a god father or spirit father for a child, especially if the child showed strange qualities not found in nearby relations or if the mother was ambitious. Part of the conflict in the world of Anieth is this over-emphasis of patronage that the Zelosians make that the Tualárach find pretty ridiculous. You see this switch to the confusion of finding that father among the Classical gods as well.
To we moderns, it often seems of all importance to know the father of a child. To the ancients, it was often of little or no consequence, so little that the legalities of inheritance were matrilineally based just to get around the whole debate of who was the father. Legal precedent was such that it was just easier to connect wealth through the mother. In religious rites this gave women the ability to chose a god father or spirit father for a child, especially if the child showed strange qualities not found in nearby relations or if the mother was ambitious. Part of the conflict in the world of Anieth is this over-emphasis of patronage that the Zelosians make that the Tualárach find pretty ridiculous. You see this switch to the confusion of finding that father among the Classical gods as well.
So, to begin with, the Tualárach have queens who are born of a "sacred" father and the existing queen. The king or mate of the queen is elected or chosen using particular criteria. I shall not explain the calendars again here, but the queens rule for approximately nineteen years or the complete metonic cycle. This cycle can vary from eighteen to twenty years, so careful track must be kept by the priests to determine the course of the calendar. It is the first responsibility of the new king consort to "murder" or sacrifice the old king consort at the end of his tenure, again nineteen years. The queens are not killed, but the old queen is supposed to step down and act as an advisor for the new queen. The new queen does not take the throne unless she is already pregnant, something that might seem odd to the modern mind, but if you think of her as the fertility symbol of the people, you begin to see why it is vital that she not be barren.
The next concept is a little more distant from the modern mind. I spoke of earlier energies or gods being upstaged by the rise of the pageant of the grain or cattle king and the earth mother. This has completely taken place among the Zelosians who have moved on to the political king god who rules by sacred appointment from birth. For the Tualárach and, even more so, for the Clans, this transition is just taking place. Some of the Clans still have the old system. It is tied to how nomadic they are and how much of their food is wildcrafted versus grown or raised. It is a big element of cultural contrast to see this range of kingship/domesticity among the Clans. The Nine Nations are well into the pastoral cycle, still following herds, but having distinct territories, hill forts for their royal families and many farmers although land ownership is still non-existent and political rule and criminal law are unknown concepts. The integration of the new system into the old created a pantheon of gods that worked so well that every local aspect of an expanding empire added to the pantheon. See the "Gods" page for a list of individuals and their properties. It should suffice for this page to say that there are four basic aspects, two female, two male that effect the choice of kings.
The queen of one generation mates with a shapeshifter of a Beast Clan and the next generation, she mates with a shapeshifter of a Tree Clan. This keeps the recessive genes from destabilizing the magical elements and introducing insanity or pathological personality conditions into the line. The queen who is the daughter of a Tree, is called a Bride Queen and mates with a king who is a stranger, either a warrior from another Nation, a foreigner, or a man of lower caste who wins his way into the kingship by guile. The queen who is the daughter of a Beast is called a Witch Queen and mates with a heroic king, or one of her own Nation or nearby Nation who wins the contests. The Nations themselves are also paired into witch/wizard Nations and hero/bride Nations. This is because each Nation is supervised by a joint Tree/Beast Clan who provide the "sacred" mate and hold in check any abuses that the queens may introduce into their societies. (See "History" and "Magic".)
This division into king and tanist Nations mimics the structure of the Clans where the kings are killed by members of the same Clan but a different family, or killed by the paired clan. In more complex structures, the Clan is divided into two or three families to trade off the job of killer and king so that the man chosen to kill the king of the paired Clan is not in the same family who chooses the mate of the queen of the paired Tualárach Nation. (See Holly and Oak on the "Clans" page.)
The Rituals of the Individual Nations
It is important to keep in mind that the reason for ritual among the ancients was not just to celebrate, keep track of time, and to channel the spiritual energy of the earth. An important part of ritual in newer civilizations was to keep religious control over those who held potential political power. A society was a system of checks and balances. The religious kept control over the warrior caste and the lawyers kept control over the merchant caste and those who tithed kept control over the non-producing castes of the warriors and religious. A great deal of the problems that came from Empires was the abuse of one caste over another. For instance, taboo demanded death or some other kind of sacrifice. When religious power was transferred to god kings or political kings, criminal law emerged with its sacrificial and death penalties as opposed to civil payment penalties.
So the entire ritual for both queens and kings was to keep power in check with the side effects of some calendar marking and celebration. The queen's rituals were kept strictly secret for the queens maintained the mystique of the virgin conception in order to perpetrate the magical quality of it and uphold the law that demanded that half-breeds be killed. The king's ceremony, on the other hand was partially private, but very public in some ways as the ritual demanded the participation of the entire community.
All the Nations had in common the humiliation of the young queens. It was thought best that the queens be actual virgins before entering into the initiation, but the only real demand was that they not be with child or have had a child before the ritual. Both paired Clans participated in the ritual although only one would be that generation's king. As I said before, among some Clans, families also traded off the honor of being the father of the next Tualárach queen. The princess would be "kidnapped" or "found" by one Clan and given to the mother of the paired Clan's king. This will become clearer as we go along. The function of the mother was not only to test the girls, but to utterly humiliate them, beating out of them (sometimes literally) all pride or vanity of their station and appearance. The religious idea was that the girls would then want to go to their mates, seeing the once-feared shapeshifting men as rescuers. Often this set up led to a great affection of the princess for her savior that tainted her later marriage to the king consort. It was thought that a strained marriage between the queen and king would further act to keep power from being executed without a serious check, right in the family.
The king ceremonies took place both at the sacred area of the individual nation and at An Doras. The king was shackled and often publicly humiliated or tormented in the borders of the Nation, but he was killed at An Doras in a ceremony where the only other human participants were the next king consort, the queen his wife, and the next queen, her daughter. If the older queen was still alive, often she also made the journey. The mystery of the king's death would be a secret so that young men would not approach the honor with fear or shun it. The old king was said to have passed into the next world directly through the gate, or An Doras. Yet it was the new king who was pushed into An Doras, not the old king. Before the new king murdered the old king, he was tried at An Doras both as a way to humble him and to test his mental stability.
Both these rituals were such closely guarded secrets that the Wood Clans had another way to keep control over the Nations through the threatened exposure of the queens as half-breeds and the kings as murderers. Often the shame of these rituals also served to keep the queens and kings in check, as if they had to be extra good so that their dirty secrets were not discovered.