Heortling Triads

From: John Hughes <nysalor_at_primus.com.au>
Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2001 22:07:46 +1000

Heys folks

This post is a slightly longer, modified version of a post I made to the HW list. It ties in with the discussion on both lists of great Heortling lovers and other folk figures, and of Gloranthan creativity. Not exactly new and improved, but it notes a few additional things and it *has* been spell checked.

 HEORTLING TRIADS [This is a taken from my draft of a longer piece on Heortling triads, which I'm currently collecting and composing as I did for Heortling kennings. The kennings list can be downloaded from


I'm posting the triad notes without extensive examples; these will be forthcoming. It seems timely to discuss them given recent discussions on fame, folk legend, folk heroes and creativity.]

It strikes me that triads are the perfect medium for listing figures of legend. Heortling triads are short poems, at their most simple lists of three. Short and easily remembered, in a few lines they encapsulate beauty, wonder, poetry, magic... and even the occasional fact. For the majority of Heortlings who are not trained as skalds, they are a way of remembering and passing on law, history, myth, folk wisdom and rules for proper conduct. They comprise a common medium for self-boasting and spreading your reputation, and are also one of the most common methods of passing on news, opinion, and rumour. A good deal of cult lore is also retained and taught as triads.

I'm experimenting with using triads as sources of news and clues in a scenario I'm writing about a tragic Heortling love affair with some typically Orlanthi twists and turns.


"Three things not easy to check: the stream of a cataract, an arrow from a
bow, and the deeds of a vengeful man." (folk wisdom)

"Three kings of Dragon Pass: Sartar the Founder, Tarkalor Trollkiller, and
the hidden hero-son who rides the Freedom Wind." (historical fact/prophecy).

"Three Winds of future seasons: the Freedom Wind, The Righteous Wind, the
Hurricane Rebellion." (prophecy and hope).

An example of cultic use:

"Three battles the elements to master; Duro, Kara, Vanda - to win, to draw,
to lose." (a Daylanus mystery - ST 10).

 Sometimes triads come in short groups that stress oppositions:

"Three good visitors: the mother of cows, the mother of grain, the father of
Three bad visitors: the daughter of Malia, the daughter of seven, the son of winter.
Three uncertain visitors: rain, wind, a mercenary band."

There's a particularly Sartarite form that names a god, a hero and a local in that order:

"In Sartar's land three great ploughmen; Barntar, who ploughed the bed of
the retreating sea; Kargrin, who ploughed Blue Mountain with the winged bull of brass; and little Braggi Bent-Bow, who ploughed the lettuce patch with a bent stick for a cup of mead."

"Three weapons are known to all, first is Humakt the final end, second comes
Vingot's spear, bright in darkness, third comes Braggi's broken bow that Nalda Mudshins liked." (this one composed by Bo Rosen.)

It's considered good form to put something unexpected, ironic or humorous as the third term:

"Three fine things for a chief: the staff of Andrin, the peace of Ernalda,
the bronze of kinsfolk."

And occasionally, they join in more complex groupings:

"Praise not the day till evening has come; a woman till buried, a man till
burned. Praise not a horse till broken; a sword till bloodied; a youth till married. Praise not a life till death has judged it. Thereafter, nothing can change the song of our valiant dead."

In our world triads are a Celtic verse form, and the Welsh and Irish triads contain a large number of verses that simply list things - the biggest, the best, the bravest, the three cities, the three mountains, the three greatest heroes and what they did, the three greatest lovers and their exploits, kings, horses, traitors, raiders, battles, wonders, horrors, cattle magics, winds... you name it, its there.

I suggest that we do precisely the same thing for the Heortlings, as a way of both encouraging the poetic ways of the barbarians and of bringing out some of the folk heroes and wisdoms we've been discussing.

So, go on, make up a triad! It might be personal (three things I've fought, three steads I've raided, three boasts of my becoming...), clan level (the three great deeds of the founder, the three wonders of the tula, the three greatest cattle raids of your memory), tribal level (three heroes of the Quivini, three great queens of the Kheldon, three Far Walker chiefs who avoided kinstrife (difficult that!), three tribal heroes the Lunars cannot catch...) or national (three kings of Dragon Pass, three miracles of Sartar, three battles where kings died, three unlikely heroes, three greatest lovers, thieves, raiders, warriors, berserkers, weavers, peace-makers etc. of the Kingdom).

King of Sartar is an excellent source for ideas, and you'll each have your own areas of expertise. Don't be afraid to make names up, just add a single sentence reason/explanation for their deeds. I'll collect all that are posted to the lists and add them to my own growing collection, and if some triads disagree, all the better! Over time I'm sure triads will get combined until a broad consensus emerges, just as it happens in Sartar.

Although triads vary from tribe to tribe, there are some standard forms...

"Three things in Kerofin I name..."

"In Sartar's land three great [subjects]"

"Two things I name, three things I proclaim."

GREAT LOVERS OF THE LAND OF SARTAR On the topic of folk heroes, here's my stab at three great lovers of the land of Sartar:

"Three great lovers in the Land of Kero Finn: Elmal and Redalda, from whose
love was forged the foreigner's wedding; Jenest and Oranda, heroes whose pact made peace between two warring tribes; young Braggi Bent-Bow and Nalda Mudshins, whose bed was bought with three poddy calves."

This is humorous, and would be passed from person to person as a way of announcing the betrothal of Braggi and Nalda, a local stickpicker and his mash-tub bride. (I'm beginning to wonder if Braggi Bent-Bow and Nalda Mudshins aren't Everyman figures who pop up all the time). It follows the form of naming god-hero-local. I usually mock stuffy Elmal, but here I acknowledge his place as a true romantic. And I've made a case for two famous lovers, Jenest and Oranda.

"In Sartar's land, three lovers grand; Jenest the Patient and Oranda the
Faithful, whose bed was a battlefield and whose bride-price was peace between two tribes; Prince Jarosar, who ransomed his kingdom for the love of Yaransoar; Hogarth and Harlii, whose life was long, whose breath was one and who died the same death by the love of Orlanth and Ernalda."

Here I'm offering three great pairs of lovers; Jenest and Oranda again, who had to bring peace between the Kheldon and Culbrea before they could wed; Jorasor, Prince of Sartar, who endured some (previously unrecorded) trial to marry Yaransoar; and Hogarth and Harlii, who lost everything but each other and yet were perfectly content.

Jorasor and Yaransoar are historical figures, the rest I've created. I hope to return to Jenest and Oranda in particular to tell their story and justify their status as the lovers par-excellence of Sartar legend. Because folk-figures are as yet largely unexplored, there are few barriers to wholesale creativity and invention. By writing and posting a few triads you may in effect create Sartar's equivalent of Romeo and Juliet, MacBeth, or Hamlet. I'd be delighted to hear other stories and triads of great Sartarite lovers, and of other triads.

'So warrior, who are the great lovers of your tribe?'



Nysalor_at_primus.com.au                   John Hughes

The aesthetic event is something as evident, as immediate, as indefinable as love, the taste of fruit, of water. We feel poetry  as we feel the closeness of a woman, or as we feel a mountain or a bay. If we feel it immediately, why dilute it with other words,  which no doubt will be weaker than our feelings?

"You played it for her, now play it for me."
"Play it for me Nigel -- play 'Lick my Love Pump'"

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