When studying any culture, it is crucial to understand, sometimes more so than the culture itself, the underlying situations which mold it. We were all once mundanes, and I don't believe that anyone here will dispute the importance of the three most important times of an Aisling's life; the beginning, middle and end; Birth, Love, and Death. Who without love ever truly lives? This school of thought prompts this essay, chronicilating mundane tradition and culture surrounding the three most important points of an individual's existence. With Mileth the center of mundane growth, this essay will mostly surround the tradition established in the Mileth/Abel region.
A child's life begins at his first movements within the womb, because that is the first and, quite possibly, only positive sign that a mother will have to confirm her suspicions. Once a child has been recognized, the next step is to have his arrival prepared for by the woman's circle of his particular village. The woman's circle is nothing more than the loose alliance of every woman within a town to have given birth to a child, the one true sign of womanhood. If he is the first child of a woman, his arrival is heralded by a small ceremony of gift giving for the new mother. If he is the second child of a woman, she is presented with a small knotted necklace of flowers. This symbolizes the hope the women feel for her, and their continuing wishes that her child is carried safely.
Several months later, when a woman's birthing pains begin, she is bundled by her sisters to the home of the eldest woman in the village. In this situation, the eldest woman is the one who has had the most children, and is thereby the most experienced in the village. There, only the other sisters in the woman's circle may care for the woman. It is said that if any man were too look upon this ceremony of birth that he would be so shocked, that he would never lay with another woman again.
When a child is born, wet and wrinkled even before he may be allowed to cry, he is placed within a warm tub, to be dried and, ever so slowly, eased into the world. He is allowed no contact with the mother, who is to be occupied with her own care, for a woman's business is her own and no others. Sometimes, in the case of illness, an elder may assist a new mother, but more often than not they require no assistance.
A child is traditionally then allowed uninterrupted time with the mother. When she is feeling well enough, the father may be allowed to come in and see the child, but she is given a week to recover from the trauma of the birth, allowing her time, also, to become accustomed to the situation. During this time they are encouraged to spend time outside or in bed, but are not allowed into town.
On a child's seventh day, they are to be taken to a council of the village elders, a mixture of priests, government officials, and Aisling guides. There, the babe is to be judged, using both magical and traditional means, for future potential. There, he is named. Sometimes, on the basis of deed or personal preference, an Aisling may change his name, but as a mundane, it is not an accepted practice, and there is no acceptable method for putting a new name into general use.
Mundanes typically marry before the age of eighteen, with the average falling sometime around the fifteenth or sixteenth year. Aislings generally do not marry in the typical fashion, instead going to a Fae glade or asking another Aisling priest to marry them in the grand church of Glioca within Mileth's city limits.
Most commonly, mundanes marry informally. Their ceremonies are performed in town squares or village halls, with the woman's circle and the generally accepted male mayor in conspicuous attendance. The whole of the ceremony involves the bride and groom standing side by side while declaring intentions to marry and a true and whole love. In many regions, all excluding the Undine/Suomi, the final event that confirms a marriage is an exchange of rings forged from the same smith. In Undine and Suomi, the culminating event is nothing more than the bride choosing her husband through the simple act of taking his hand.
Once the marriage has taken place and both the women's circle and the mayor have accepted the union (often a nod of the head is all that is necessary), the two are left on their own to sort out the unique chemistry of their marriage.
With regard to the taking of names, in most villages it is a line following the men, with the eldest son taking on the responsibilities of the father following his death, and with the melding of families following the name of the male, while in Undine, the black sheep of all mundane traditions, the line follows the female.
In the event of the death of a spouse, the remaining widow or widower is to follow a period of mourning no less than one year following the death, for the safety and well being of all the townsfolk. Once the period of mourning has been completed, a village-wide festivity is thrown as a celebration not only for the release of the remaining spouse from sorrow, but also for the release of the soul from its earthly ties. While the soul of a mundane may at any time before this point be released into the netherworld, it is generally accepted knowledge, handed down from the gods themselves, it is said, that a soul will under no circumstance remain earthbound longer than one revolution of the seasons. This way, the soul can find his peace with one last autumn or sunset, granting them nothing further to regret from their former life.
When it comes to death, both mundane and Aisling traditions align completely. Here, for the sake of convenience, and based upon the fact that we ourselves are Aislings, we shall refer to the rituals surrounding death on an Aisling basis.
When an Aisling dies in battle, the first portion of the ceremony is to create for him a funeral pyre. After a battle, an entire countryside may end up aflame. By reducing his body to ashes, the purest form a human may take, and by burning the ground upon which his blood has spilled, it prevents another thing, be it blade of grass or a newborn kitten, for of course animals will not give birth upon tainted land, from beginning a life before the one who lost it, the Aisling warrior, may be laid to rest. His ashes are then to be either spread or buried in the hometown of his remaining family, based upon the family's own personal traditions.
When an Aisling dies of age or as a result of illness or accident, they are buried with a chant and a prayer to the god of their choice, if not their family's. In death, an Aisling's wishes are to be accepted out of respect, regardless of the choices they made in life.
~ Cliona Malkier
~ Deoch 7