Re: Ernalda the Sensualist

From: John Hughes <>
Date: Sat, 3 Mar 2001 10:55:09 +1100


Chris and Joerg have been discussing Ernalda.

> If you want a deity for female sexual experimentation, I'd look for a
> not so childish version of Voria. When you look into it closely, flowers
> are a plant's sexual organs, and Voria has them all over...

While within the bounds of possibility, I'd be careful with this. Voria is traditionally a childhood goddess, and we know that sex is taboo before initiation. Women's initiation occurs after menache.

I've personally been expanding Roitina the Dancing Ceremonialist to fill this role. Earlier this year I posted an essay on Heortling courtship and marriage to the Hero Wars list - the original version is available in the HW files section at y-groups.
Jeff Kyer and I have also expanded and refined the original for the Issaries site. Here's our (new) section on the Deities of Courtship and Marriage

 Sex is easy, marriage is hard, and the gods bless the sworn bond."
- -King Heort.

In Ernaldan Initiation, women of the clan experience the many lovers of Ernalda, the Power, Esrola, the Body, and Maran, the Action. They learn the wisdom and secrets of the ways of women with men.

In Orlanthi Initiation, men of the clan experience the youthful adventures of Orlanth as well as the courtship and marriage of Orlanth and Ernalda in the Storm Age. They receive a glimpse of the joys of married life, and also of the struggle. They learn how peace was made between men and women.

Orlanth and Ernalda offer guidance and example to men and women through every stage of their life, and various Aspects of the deities provide models and inspiration for men and women involved with romance, marriage and courtship. New initiates may be drawn to these Aspects as they prepare for adult life.

Rotina the Dancer draws the clan together; she is a young aspect of Ernalda the Queen. She dances to the songs of Sereni and Dragarsi the Bard, and she teaches such dances to the clan. Rotina brought the Threshing Dance, the Cider Dance, the Square Dance, and the lithesome Maiden's Dance that enchants young men with gentle swayings and covert glances. It was also Rotina who, in the Greater Darkness, made stuffy Elmal burn bright with embarrassment with her rollicking Skirt-lifting Dance. Most young women learn her stories and dances, and worship for a time before moving to other, more assertive Aspects. Rotina teaches pride, tact and lust for life.

Esrola is the fertility of the fields and animals. Worshippers understand the secrets of fertility and virility, and the wisdoms for attracting a mate. Goose Girl is often the cult of the youngest worshippers; the more valuable cattle and other livestock subcults being entrusted to more experienced women.

Esrola the Healer is often the Aspect of choice for more venturesome women who are not willing to forgo their traditional roles. Many will join Enfara the Supporter or Brevara the Medic in their youth. Travelling as members of the fyrd or clan warband, they have opportunities to meet men of other clans not accorded their stay-at-stead sisters. And they can participate in battle and see the bravery and prowess of the menfolk first-hand.

The Aspects of Ernalda The Lifegiver are more for the settled woman, especially Mahome and Orane the Mother. Yet Vela the Matchmaker is of great importance to everyone involved in courtship. Her priestesses are consulted by those seeking match or marriage, whether it be for love or for the strength of the clan. Marriage is, after all, a joining of clans as much as a joining of individuals. No one can make you do anything, but with the help of Vela, your kinfolk can be very, very persuasive. Vela is the love nurtured by kin and community, not the destructive passion of the demon Uleria.

Menfolk seem to change the Aspect of their worship more readily than women. Most married men are initiates of Orlanth The Farmer, but in their youth they follow Orlanth Adventurous. He embodies the Great God in his youth - a fitting Aspect for a young man exploring the ways of love. Once settled, men turn to Durec or Orlanthcarl to become good providers for their families.

Orlanth Adventurous provides many outlets for a young man to show his worth, and a few bear special mention. Destor The Adventurer is a wanderer, He embodies the God as he travelled without the encumbrance of home, family or even clan! Seeing new places means going to new clans and going to new clans means meeting womenfolk who are not your cousins. One day you will find your Ernalda. And there is much pleasure along the way...

Niskis the Lover is the Aspect most suited for passionate love. However, his followers are hardly material for good husbands: they are nicknamed "stray cats". Excelling at seduction, they enjoy a reputation as exquisite lovers. A woman (even a married one) may dally with such a man, but Niskissi are generally considered hopeless at formal courtship. Followers of Orlanth's brother Yinkin are also known for their sensuality and lovemaking prowess.

Orlanth Thunderous embodies Orlanth as the virile rain, but it is not usually a young man's Aspect. Most followers will be already married. It is a dangerous thing to have a man with such powers without the governance and cold counsel of hearth, home and harstings.

>And since Ernalda the Healer subcults are for unmarried women, with
> Enferalda singled out as seductress of Orlanth, there seem to be some
> such aspects.

Not exactly the seductress. Enferalda (Ernalda in disguise) flirted with Orlanth to test his faithfullness to the marriage bond. Ernalda seems to be constantly testing Orlanth, not only in their courtship. :)

> > I would assume that before marraige, Heortling women can sleep with
> > whomever they want,

Indeed. Though circumspectly for the most part, to avoid complications when formal courtship begins.

Here's an example of one woman's experience from the essay, a example that is typical but hardly exclusive - Kandreya is a rich young woman from an influential clan, and is more aware of the political and economic aspects of courtship than most young women. Because of this, she is particularly cautious and calculating.

 Post Initiation

 As she grows into womanhood, Kandreya learns the secrets of wealth, fertility and lust from her mother, female kin and elders. Accompanied by her brothers, she begins to journey beyond her stead, perhaps visiting married sisters in other clans or attending tribal rituals. She learns to evaluate young men in a cold though honest way, as well as thrilling to the occasional discrete dalliance or infatuation. Kandreya begins to assess the relative wealth and prestige of neighbouring clans.

Late Adolescence

 Kandreya does her best to ensure that her family and hearth are in harmony, and spend lots of time with her female cousins discussing the merits of menfolk in neighbouring clans. She encourages flirting and male advances but is careful in her response. She may take lovers discretely. In doing so, Kandreya learns the lessons of Ernalda's courtship, and how to direct men to each of the six directions. If she decides to take an adventuring path, she may entrust her fertility to a priestess for a number of years.

Young Adulthood

Kandreya will have realistically assessed five or six potential suitors, a mix of well-established older men (widowers or divorcees) and promising young men only a few years older than herself. She is looking to a long-term match, so will closely examine her potential suitors' clans and tribes, assessing their wyrd for the next ten or twenty years. Going to her father and uncles, she will then allow them to 'persuade' her that these six men should be given serious consideration, for the sake of her bloodline. She will then 'grudgingly' agree to her elders insistence that she accept these men as suitors. The suitors will be then encouraged, either directly or through the exhortation and advice of Kandreya's kin, to attend and begin to seriously court her.

Has Kandreya chosen wisely? Will any of her chosen attend? Will she show too  much favour to the one she secretly dreams of? Will she make the right choice? Might she be forced to take a difficult or low status match? These are trying times!

> > I'm not exactly sure what the rules for Heortling women are in
> > regards to having lovers once in marraige, but I'm sure that the
> > social restrictions that do apply are distinct so as to preserve
> > the family and the happiness of the married couple.

Adultery is usually a big no-no, and a cause for divorce and considerable loss of status if made public. Marriage is a sacred bond

> While we're at the subject, what is the attitude towards sex with thrall
> women? Ernalda once was a thrall, and quite certainly had her encounters
> with various courtiers or servants of the Emperor.

IMO, while a thrall may be property (and only a minority of clans take thralls!) adultery is still adultery. In my draft of the TR law codes, I included fines for laying with a thrall, for one-off sex while married, and for unneccessary visits to a body priestess. While this is not official, if such laws do exist they give the aggrieved party recourse to a variety of lesser responses than immediate divorce, and also allow a bloodline to take action even if the aggreived party does not.


John                   John Hughes

The subject of wizards and sex is a complicated one, but as has already been indicated it does, in essence, boil down to this: when it comes to wine, women and song, wizards are allowed to get drunk and croon as much as they like.

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