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Puberty rites for Both and Neither?


moonwolf8

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In Runequest Roleplaying in Glorantha it says that the Orlanthi recognize 4 sexes and 6 genders. I'm reading my copy of Six Seasons in Sartar and it suddenly occurred to me what are the puberty rites for the Both and Neither sexes?

Has anyone come up with Puberty rites for these other two sexes? If so, what were your sources of inspiration?

I have a tentative story for the Both sex. Umath, frustrated that he could not have Asrella ejaculated onto Stone the brother of Mostal and got her pregnant. Their offspring is Androgeus and we who are Both male and female are their descendants.

My source of inspiration. From Cassell's Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol and Spirit is the story of Agdistis. Zeus tried to seduce Cybele, but she turned him down. Zeus masturbated and ejaculated onto a rock. From the rock sprang forth a hermaphrodite child called Agdistis.
I suddenly remembered the story of Lady Setenaya and the Shepard: the Birth of Sawseruquo from the Nart Sagas. The Shepard Tezhidada; who's name means Eldest Ram, sees Lady Setenaya when she is out bathing in a river and ejaculates at the sight of her. His jism lands on a rock which then grows to become Sawseruquo. Sawseruquo is not a hermaphrodite however.
Ideas I've come up with so far:

  1. Androgeus encounters and seduces Flamel the father of seeds and gives birth to {Wine God} the god of wine.

  2. Androgeus is traveling on Kero Fin mountain and hears a woman in labor. S/he serves as midwife to the birth of either Yinkin or Orlanth.

  3. Androgeus is wet-nurse to the two brothers Yinkin and Orlanth.

  4. I like the idea of Androgeus being the elder half-sibling of Orlanth.

  5. From the Another Mother Tongue I learned that the word bad comes from the word baedell an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning hermaphrodite. So I'm thinking of adding the affirmation "We are the Baedell, those who are Both male and female."

  6. For the Neither I am thinking of their being the children of Orlanth and Mee Vorala the mushroom goddess. Like mushrooms popping up after a summer rain I imagine them coming along in batches with multiple women going into labor at the same time.

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2 hours ago, Darius West said:

The logical answer is that the cult of Vinga holds Vingan puberty rites and the cult of Nandan holds Nandan puberty rites.

Those are genders, the question is about the other two sexes. Yeah, it can be confusing.

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7 minutes ago, PhilHibbs said:

Those are genders, the question is about the other two sexes. Yeah, it can be confusing.

You're correct, and the other two sexes are neuter and hermaphrodite.

So when we say 'neuter', do we mean someone who was born without sex organs, or has had their sex organs destroyed, or simply doesn't have any sexual impulses, or someone who is infertile?  The meaning here as it applies to the Heortling culture is unclear.

As for hermaphrodites, stats tell us that 1 in 2000 people are born intersex, so, for a clan of 1000 people, that's about one ever 4 and a half generations (given a 15 year generational turn-around which is normal for a bronze age society).  I think we can assume that the issue of hermaphrodites and their initiation would be sufficiently unusual that the Clan Ring would be able to take council with the individual and their kin and come to a suitable accommodation among the cults represented within the clan.

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26 minutes ago, Darius West said:

As for hermaphrodites, stats tell us that 1 in 2000 people are born intersex,

Intersex conditions are when the different biological markers for sex don't all align; this commonly leads to infertility. A hermaphrodite can take the role of either male or female sex during conception. In the real world, there are no documented cases of this existing in mammals, though it is common in fish and invertebrates[1].

In Orlanthi society, intersex children maybe  get some level of guided choice of either the male of female initiation rites. Like anyone else, they can leave those rites as a nandan or vingan, or even fail in such a way they don't have an accepted gender role.

Interestingly, the biological term _hermaphrodite_  comes from the son/daughter of Aphrodite. And there is Androgeus. So in a mythical world it is very plausible that there are divinely-descended exceptional people who can both father and bear a child. In such rare cases, I could see that they go though both sets of rites.

To complete the logical pairing; none refers to those judged very unlikely to succeed at either rite[2]. They may well be barred from it for their own safety, if nothing else. This includes non-humans.

[1] FYI, some people consider using the term _hermaphrodite_ outdated or offensive when applied to those with intersex conditions.

[2] Temporary damage will normally delay the rites until healing is complete. And with with Heal Wound being able to regenerate limbs, almost all damage is in principle temporary.

 

 

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1 hour ago, radmonger said:

[1] FYI, some people consider using the term _hermaphrodite_ outdated or offensive when applied to those with intersex conditions.

Well, they're wrong.  This is the accepted scientific term and has been for hundreds of years.  I intend to keep using the term.  You don't hear about intersex fish for example, some species are hermaphroditic, well, so are some people.

Edited by Darius West
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The six genders are the six primal runes (yes, Moon is in there)

Nandans are Earth, and Vinga is literally Orlanth. I don't think they'd necessarily have separate rites. As a trans person who loves representation of traditional gender roles in other games, I would actually reject traditional or modern earthly understandings of gender here. I'd just suggest Orlanthi cultures are basically pushing people into Earth and Air roles (just as pre-Lunar Dara Happans pushed people firmly into Earth and Sky) with the Orlanthi 85% being the result. How you act and feel culturally represented by your Rune affiliation seems like an appropriate thing. Water, Darkness and Sky rune people in Orlanthland are well-established, cultically, in minority religious cults.

(I don't know what the four sexes are in Glorantha, this is just about the genders.)

 

7 hours ago, Darius West said:

The logical answer is that the cult of Vinga holds Vingan puberty rites and the cult of Nandan holds Nandan puberty rites.

 

Edited by Qizilbashwoman
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1 minute ago, Darius West said:

Well, they're wrong.  This is the accepted scientific term and has been for hundreds of years.  I intend to keep using the term.

not to be difficult, but do you think maybe we should listen to the intersex people? Hermaphroditism is a scientific term but people have asked not to be called "hermaphrodites".

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2 minutes ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

not to be difficult, but do you think maybe we should listen to the intersex people? Hermaphroditism is a scientific term but people have asked not to be called "hermaphrodites".

If they ask me specifically not to call them that, I will likely oblige, unless they are rude about it, in which case I will double down.  They also need to provide a decent alternative term, as intersex doesn't have a clear meaning if you stop to consider it and could easily be misinterpreted.

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7 minutes ago, Darius West said:

You don't hear about intersex fish for example, some species are hermaphroditic, well, so are some people.

Politeness aside, this is simply factually wrong. Hermaphroditic people could logically exist, and likely do in Glorantha. In the real world, they don't; mammalian biology doesn't work that way. If someone wants to deliberately use the wrong term, then if are not trying to insult people, what are they doing?

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18 hours ago, radmonger said:

Politeness aside, this is simply factually wrong. Hermaphroditic people could logically exist, and likely do in Glorantha. In the real world, they don't; mammalian biology doesn't work that way. If someone wants to deliberately use the wrong term, then if are not trying to insult people, what are they doing?

Mosaic hermaphrodites can also logically exist IRL with both sets of human sex organs in working condition.  It involves the incomplete subsuming of a fraternal twin in utero.  It is also the time honored term for what some people have now chosen to re-label "intersex".  Like I said, if an hermaphroditic person wants me to use new term (with all its associated poverty of history and meaning, and potential for misunderstanding) for them, I will likely oblige at their request, but I won't change for people who aren't just to fit in with their odd preferences.  I can't understand why someone wouldn't want to be a child of the two most powerful pantheistic divinities of ancient Greece anyhow.  It's kind of awesome.

Besides, Heortlanders don't recognize intersex people, they recognize hermaphrodites, look it up.  And this is as it should be.  Glorantha is a Bronze Age society where there is every chance that such a rare occurrence in their community would be considered unusual enough to be of divine importance.

Edited by Darius West
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As discussed in the overlong "males and BG thread", I would apply that Both have more options than others in terms of cults, but nevertheless will probably go with only one. I assume some cults may actively try to recruit them, but as they will be a small cult it may not be attractive enough for many. They are probably considered favored, unlike the RW, and I expect they are also much more frequent, including functional hermaphrodites, or even sequential hermaphrodites, that with a little magic can adopt both sets, but only one is active.

As for the use of the term, I am with Radmonger. In the RW there are no true hermaphrodites, so I understand people preferring to avoid a misleading term, and one, possibly due to excessive exposure in Japanese manga, with a loaded sexual content.

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1 hour ago, radmonger said:

To complete the logical pairing; none refers to those judged very unlikely to succeed at either rite[2]. They may well be barred from it for their own safety, if nothing else. This includes non-humans.

This is very interesting because I previously thought about the Heortling "neuter" as a fourth positive sexual expression different from M+F-, M-F+ and M+F+ . . . a theoretical spectrum for anyone set up along different lines from the binary that prevails here on earth, kind of like how they see in more than three primary colors in The Voyage To Arcturus or how Gold Wheels play a crucial role in giant reproduction. (For "cradle" read "ovipositor.") In this model "neuter" people might read M-F- to outsiders but actually be performing M-F-G+ or M-F-R+ or M-F-G+S+ or whatever multidimensional hanky codes exist in one's fantasy lozenge. Of course someone might also be most fully described as F+G+ or M+F+S+ or any combination but the bronze age rubes from the video game aren't really equipped or interested in handling the rarefied terminology and concepts, so the system functionally tops out at four.

But in the absence of these exotic experiences, "neuter" as true "none" also reads as uninitiated or non-initiable. I guess this formally includes children and foreigners who might not have the adulthood ordeals where they come from . . . or members of minority cults that participate in the community but remain aloof from the O+E mysteries? And again, assignment in edge cases becomes a challenge for the initiators as you point out. I think I really like this as a description of how it works practically in modern Sartar. It has ramifications for child rearing though, with I guess voria / voriof being more about the way household labor is gendered . . . "boys" can simply be those juvenile neuters who work outside and "girls" staying closer to the house, no matter what sex they end up initiating into. It's tricky.

Likewise, I think Androgeus is a tricky figure here because the original model wasn't so much persistent M+F+ as the possibility of reassignment . . . the pronouns flow, never "they" (Greg had access to early efforts toward non-binary vocabulary and didn't use them here) but a succession of "he" and then "she" and then "him" again. I wonder who the children of Androgeus are in modern Sartar and how they fit into the O+E hegemony. Shamanism may be a cleaner fit . . . and as the original post suggests, shamanic initiation tends to be intimate and unique, you truly don't know who you're going to encounter or what they're going to reveal about the shape of your life. Think of all the spirit sexes and all the roles people play. It's exciting.

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1 hour ago, Darius West said:

Well, they're wrong.  This is the accepted scientific term and has been for hundreds of years.  I intend to keep using the term.  You don't hear about intersex fish for example, some species are hermaphroditic, well, so are some people.

As usual with this kind of knee-jerk grumpiness, you're the one who is wrong even under your own terms. In biology, hermaphroditic individuals are those with more than one form of reproductive cell. Human intersex individuals are those with ambiguous genitalia, divergent development of secondary sexual characteristics, or sex hormone insensitivities; there are no humans capable of reproducing with both ova and sperm.

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To the OP: as far as I know, the Orlanthi don't practice "puberty rites." They practice adulthood rites which are associated with certain signs of secondary sexual development. One can be born intersex and end up menstruating; one can be born male but never develop androgenic body hair. But I don't think the assumption that this means they'll never initiate via the Ernaldan or Orlanthi rites is sustainable, because those are primarily about gender. How are Nandani who don't experience menarche chosen to initiate to Ernalda, for example? I think that would be a much more fruitful avenue of inquiry.

Also, the prevalence of intersex conditions is closer to 1.7-2%; lower numbers are usually more specifically referring to ambiguous genitalia at birth.

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10 hours ago, Darius West said:

The logical answer is that the cult of Vinga holds Vingan puberty rites and the cult of Nandan holds Nandan puberty rites.

Greg was explicit that this doesn't happen, though. That adulthood rites are about sex, not gender. 

This does not answer the original poster's question though, as those issues are about sex. I would expect that "Nones" are overwhelmingly eunuchs, which isn't normally going to happen to the youngsters in Orlanthi society?

Edited by Akhôrahil
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14 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

Greg was explicit that this doesn't happen, though. That adulthood rites are about sex, not gender.

Oh? Where? The Orlanthi and Ernaldan initiations archived on the Well of Daliath are specifically noted as gender-specific, and certainly read that way.

Edited by Ormi Phengaria
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23 minutes ago, Ormi Phengaria said:

Oh? Where? The Orlanthi and Ernaldan initiations archived on the Well of Daliath are specifically noted as gender-specific, and certainly read that way.

Old mailing list posting that I can't find right now (I was looking for something else when I came across it).

I think it makes some sense, too - by what we know, boys can wait for a couple of years for adulthood initiation if they have to, no biggie, but a girl reaching menarche has to have an adulthood initiation right now, because that's not the kind of thing you can leave hanging around for a while. On the other hand, I could very easily see the adulthood then veer off in some different direction for would-be Vingans.  

Edited by Akhôrahil
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There's nothing in the Orlanthi initiation rites requiring you to have a penis. I would expect Vingans to undergo them the same as any boy, with other Vingans (or even just knowledgeable men-- big weird world out there!) teaching them the story of When Vinga Got Pregnant. Otherwise, it's just pain and bleeding-- nothing strange to any follower of Adventurous.

The question of menarche for Nandani is different, and to my knowledge Nandan hasn't ever been portrayed as "of course not" a woman. Current Well entry: "Nandan is the god worshipped by women who are born in the shape of men." So it's worth wondering how to resolve that.

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3 minutes ago, Ormi Phengaria said:

The question of menarche for Nandani is different, and to my knowledge Nandan hasn't ever been portrayed as "of course not" a woman. Current Well entry: "Nandan is the god worshipped by women who are born in the shape of men." So it's worth wondering how to resolve that.

I agree that Vinga and Nandan aren't symmetrical in this regard.

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There's a slight difficulty here, in that if we're talking sex as a bodily phenomenon, Orlanth is both masculine and feminine and so really the Orlanth initiation would have to be the "both" initiation. And if we accept the Enferalda story from the older material, Ernalda's initiation would also be a "both" initiation.

But let's set that aside and consider that initiation into adulthood is a social phenomenon and the ritual exists to confront the child with dangers relevant to adulthood that they prove adult status by overcoming. Which is to say, initiation for someone with "both" or "neither" on their body, and initiation for "helering" and "none", must revolve around the presumed social role of adulthood in the culture.

What is that role? For some cultures, we can assume that this gets you put on the express train to Shaman Station, but although shamanism is present in Orlanthi culture it is also countercultural- it represents tendencies that run against the grain of common daily life. So precocious shamanic initiation is an option but probably not what little kids with ambiguous bodies usually go through.

What kinds of gods have ambiguous, fluid, or multiple genders in Orlanthi tradition? Heler is about it. What ones have no gender, xenogender, or gendervoid? None have been articulated.

What is the social role that Heler plays in the society? Well, canonically, to accompany Orlanth, but how does that translate into an initiation? Does Heler have any existence or presence or social existence beyond this? What gods might be non-gendered and what social role would they play?

If we go to the elemental model, of course, these questions apply just as well to Fire, Water, Dark, Moon, non-elemental, true null, and Chaos genders.

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Though a Lunar through and through, she is also a human being.

Eight Arms and the Mask

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18 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

I agree that Vinga and Nandan aren't symmetrical in this regard.

At one point they were intended to be, but Greg appears to have accepted the fandom understanding of Vinga at some point after enough flamewars on the mailing lists.

Nandani probably need to be initiated right around the time they're showing signs of puberty for the same reason that GnRH agonists are prescribed to certain children today. I don't know if they go through any particular different initiation rite- I suspect that there are actually two forms of the Ernalda rite, which you might refer to as the "inner" and "outer" routes.

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Though a Lunar through and through, she is also a human being.

Eight Arms and the Mask

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6 minutes ago, Eff said:

the ritual exists to confront the child with dangers relevant to adulthood that they prove adult status by overcoming.

I just finished reading Margaret Clunies Ross's Prolonged Echoes, volume 1, and one thing she repeatedly notes in the comments is that although the older expectation was that myths and rituals paired with one another, and if we lacked a myth for a ritual it was a lost myth that could be reconstructed, fieldwork in the second half of the 20th century has shown that myths and rituals are only sometimes associated with each other, and can be associated loosely. So these rites may not have a straightforward myth explaining them, unlike the one of Orlanth's first initiation, or how Ernalda's is woven from a variety of Ernalda mythemes.

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Though a Lunar through and through, she is also a human being.

Eight Arms and the Mask

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