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Ufnal

Pentan initiation myths and rites

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I was recently thinking about how Pentan initiation rites could look like and I've had some ideas I'd like to share and have critiqued. Three caveats:

1. My knowledge about Pent heavily relies on the Pentmaniac blog [which is based on canon stuff but includes lots of new fan material] and the Six Ages game [which describes cousins of veeery distant ancestors of one of the Pentan tribes], so I may be some ways off the canon

2. YGWV of course, so while I am interested in anybody telling me whether my ideas fit with canon, I am also interested in whether you think they feel right for Pentans, whether they are cool or lacking or whatever.

3. Pentans are of course very varied; but I guess seeing as they are united in at least a broad framework of the beings they worship (I will be talking about the Solar Pentans, I have no idea how Storm Pentans work) and a way of life. So at least some discussion can be had on general patterns and mythical ideas for Pentan initiation.

 

 

Pentans seem to be heavily gender-separated, so I guess we need to have a male and female initiation. For a male one, the mythic idea that comes to my mind first is the Great Darkness and the rise of Kargzant. An initiation could start with the initiated experiencing the bliss and perfection of the Golden Age Heavens, then the fall into darkness, confusion and chaos, then finally meeting Kargzant and joining him and his retinue in the ride across the Sunpath. If we wanted Pentans to be a bit more “theistic” than they seem to be in the canon, I think an interesting idea for the initiatory secret that Kargzant reveals to his followers is that We Are All Sun. Being the Sun that conquers Darkness and Chaos is a question of proving one's worth, as Kargzant showed, but it was a joint effort in which he led a host of other powers who contributed to his victory and his status as the new Sun. Every Pentan has a Solar and Star ancestry and every Pentan has a part in renewing the Sunpath and keeping the darkness at bay – a more powerful initiate may even see himself *as* Kargzant, leading the Fire/Sky powers and becoming *the* Sun. Alternatively, for a more spiritist experience, the initiate can identify with their ancestor(s) that accompanied Kargzant and learn the secrets and bargains of the spirits of Kargzant's Sky Herd.

 

For female initiation, I was inspired by the Six Ages myth of how Hippogriff became Gamari [Gamara]. It is a story of a Sky being wounded by her enemies, who with the help of Hyalor finds a new identity and a connection with Earth and fertility. The sequence of a state of innocence, hurt and loss and then reinventing oneself and finding new strength and purpose is perfect for an initiatory story, but what I find most interesting about it is the question of agency. In the myth as mentioned by your advisors in Six Ages and in parts of its description and ritual, it would seem as if Hyalor healed Gamari. But the crucial part of the myth as transcribed in Six Ages shows that it is Gamari who decided her new name, identity and purpose, and Hyalor, while he thought he gave them to her, only echoed what she already decided in her heart. This looks like a powerful initiatory secret: while identity always emerges in a relationship, and while the society will think it imposes your role upon you, it is you who decide who you are. It would be especially interesting if Pentans practiced inter-clan patrilocal marriage as most Dragon Pass Orlanthi do (as this seems the kind of secret that would really help women struggling to cope with the change or broadening of clan identity due to relocating to the husband's clan), but even without that there's both wisdom and magic in this secret.

 

Using these myths as basis of initiation would highlight Pentans' Sky ancestry while also showing the Elemental divide between genders. It also marks the men as holding the secrets of survival and leadership and the women as holding the secrets of identity and change. It would suggest a society in which the men fight, lead and hunt and the women tend to the matters of clan memory and history, as well as guiding people through the changing stages of their lives (caring for the children before they become adults, burying the dead etc. - this theme goes well with the age strata Pentans organise their clans into).

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There are a few myths about the ascendance of Kargzant in GRoY - his celestial battle with Shargash, from which he emerged victorious and strengthened about two centuries before the Dawn (leading to the Jenarong emperorship), and of his bridling by the storm barbarian wielding the iron sword at the end of the first century (after the Hyaloring rule over Dara Happa), from which Child of Evil/Huradabba emerged as son of Vettebbe.

While these things occurred in the first century of the Dawn Age, Vuranostum's victory over Argoom the Shadow Rider feels like something for an initiatory tale, too, and may have been a reprise of something Yamsur may have done in the Golden Age or Storm Age.

Mixing Hyalor and Gamara into a single myth is part of the syncretic horse culture of modern Pent. This may have developed in the united front of Hyalorings and Jenarongs against Vettebbe and Huradabba.

 

(I still have to play Six Ages:Ride like the Storm (and this weekend doesn't look like I'll find the time to start), but from what I have seen second-hand so far, the skill of riding the horse was brought to the Nivorah folk before they abandoned their city, from the east, by the son of Yamsur. I have no idea about the goal of the Six Ages game yet, and neither any idea whether the agriculturalist/pastoralist mix is going to merge into the Berennethtelli and/or Orgovaltes tribes of the Vingkotlings or whether the next (or third) chapter/Age will cover the horse warlord period in Dara Happa or the Second Council struggles in Saird.)

 

The Starlight Wanderers in Jenarong's ancestry adopted Zarkosite goat herding or goat herders, or possibly Zarkosites adopted stray Nivorah refugees and their horses and migrated through the Greater Darkness. For a while, even Kargzant was away, but some remaining stars lit the way. With the re-appearance of Kargzant and Shargash, civilization restarted in the Gray Age, and the various horse warlords along the Oslir and Oronin (and in between) experienced the Dawn with a head start similar to that of the Seshnegi, Akemites, Ralians and Theyalans. Some were riders, some were charioteers, some were cattle folk, but all appear to have been blessed by the sun horse.

Pentan culture started with the expulsion from Peloria after the battle of Argentium Thri'ile. The fleeing horse people have lost the majority of their men-folk and elders, and the remaining ones get to build their religion with the myth that they can collect. Whatever head start they had as overlords over the city folks has been lost. Some of their lore now rests in Dara Happan or Pelandan temples and may be re-discovered over the next generations. Some may be carried against them and regained in defeat.

 

One old (RQ2 era) Yelmic myth suitabe for initiation is his ascension over three enemies - Basko the Black Sun, Molandro the Earth Tyrant, and Jokbazi the Predark demon of annihilation.

GRoY doesn't mention anything about this at all. Overcoming Shargash is part of this. Plentonius reports the Bridling of Kargzant and the resultig rule of Last Evil, but I wonder how the horse warlords  dealt with that episode in their story-telling. The loss at Argentium Thri'ile is the final tale of woe that sends them into unknown lands to form a new, vibrant culture.

 

King of Sartar gives some insight into the Grazelanders, a pure horse variation of the Pentans.

 

At least older sources have made Hippoi and Gamara different (and even hostile) creatures to one another, but something very bad happened to Yamsur and his followers, and only a handful of them escaped his annihilation at Earthfall and survived among the descendants from Nivorah.

The Grazer chief Varnatol the Durtarl, for whom the author of Composite History of Dragon Pass collects the document as a gift to be given to Argrath prides himself in his role in the fight against the Fake Sun warriors.

The Grazers also have a hatred for the False Sunhorses - given the timing of their appearance, those seem to be the Char-un units of the Cavalry Corps.

 

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13 hours ago, Joerg said:

I have no idea about the goal of the Six Ages game yet, and neither any idea whether the agriculturalist/pastoralist mix is going to merge into the Berennethtelli and/or Orgovaltes tribes of the Vingkotlings or whether the next (or third) chapter/Age will cover the horse warlord period in Dara Happa or the Second Council struggles in Saird.

not covered in the game, but without spoilers, pretty clearly the effect of the Six Ages tribe will be the Solar presence in later Theyalan societies. We're in the Ice Age and we are seeing some later gods for the first time. And yes, Berennethtelli are clearly related. 🙂

The game takes place in roughly what is now the City-State of Raccoon, i.e. Vanch, if you want to coordinate with your maps while playing without first figuring it out. Sadly I never met any raccoons.

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5 hours ago, Ufnal said:

Also the game suggests that Hyalor and Gamari in one myth is a Storm Age Idea.

Sounds like an adoption (of Hyalor) to me.

I always wondered whether Gamara wasn't just a winged, carnivorous horse rather than a bird-headed and -taloned entity. At least the Char-un re-breeding efforts have achieved the carnivorous stallion and the winged mare.

 

In Grazer society, the first status of adulthood is the Rider. If Pentan society is similar, this indicates the horse-breaking as a transformative experience for the rider, and it might be both the task to tame a horse on your own for the first time and the mythical experience of Hyalor's Horse-breaking that is marking this step.

As the female Pentans live on horse-back, too, this might be a fairly un-gendered experience. There will be some gender initiation, too, of course, and those parts may split the initiands into separate secrets to be learned. (Secret as in the "how and why" of self-evident truths.)

I wonder whether there is a similar number of ancestor worshipers among the Pentans as there is among the Praxians.

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