The Monk’s Traditional Social Graces and Culture
Scribed By Garland, Former Tsayadim (Council monk),
And Ra-duno (Big or elder brother) in Dark Ages
The monk is a constant enigma. Although a rebel born from a discontent people, the monk has always kept the beliefs of peace, harmony, and virtue in his (or her) mind. Although we have melted every scrap of metal in the land, the monk can fight with unparalleled power, and keep on fighting long after another person would have expired. A monk is poor, yet he/she has all of nature at his/her disposal, and is content to live with just nature. How this culture survives under such difficulties is beyond me, yet they continue to thrive. How they do this is beyond my comprehension…
Quoted by an Unknown author of Rucession,
A Brief History and Introduction to the Monk
As it is with the Legend of Cail born of Glioca, our people were born into oppression. In the 10th Aeon, our home of Undine was conquered by the Empire of Loures. Fearing an uprising, all the metal in Undine was seized and melted down by the state, leaving the men and women in Undine without any weapons, or armor in which to defend themselves with.
However, 5 years later the first monk appeared. Nobody is quite too sure who taught the first monk. Legends say it was Cail himself who enlightened us. Others believe we taught ourselves how to fight. And it’s possible someone from a far off land may have taught the first of us our skills. But none the less we had found a way to over come adversity of not having iron, or vast material wealth, and that our own bodies and nature provided us with all we would ever need. And thus the monk was born.
What is not written is that over the years we developed a close knit society that grew in strength, and is still growing to this day, despite all the suppression Loures has put on our people of Undine for the centuries we have existed. I find the unique thing about our society is the fact that for the most part we have been united throughout our existence. While the other crafts and societies have constantly bickered and fought among themselves for centuries, the monks have banded together over the years. This is perhaps why Loures has always considered Undine to be a thorn in its side and the monk guild to be a threat.
Our tradition grew out of our difference compared to other societies, and thus we have a rich culture despite our hardships. This document should hopefully help you understand the monk’s tradition, and help all monks understand a bit about themselves too…
Undine, the Monk’s Homeland
Undine is a beautiful, yet small village where the monk was, in a sense, born and raised. Although it has little agricultural land, Undine has never been short on food. This is because there have been many fish over the years. However, a disaster (involving a wizard casting a spell to put all the fish on land), we have survived off of food that can be found in the woodlands from (Cail no karriunce, or Cail’s bounty/food). Off to the south, there are the mountains, then Astrid, and Suomi. This is mostly woodland or coastal area. Therefore, monks have learned to survive in the woodlands and feel right at home when traveling woods (obviously it’s very rare for a child monk to get lost in the woods, since how can you be away from home when you are home?).
Monk, and his/her relationship with Nature, and chi
To become a monk...
Monks and Nature go together like peas and carrots. A traditional monk, from the day he or she is born is taught to respect, love, and harness nature. And a monk is always in and around nature in anyway possible. He or she is also taught the ‘dos’ and "don’t"s of being in any wooded area. Therefore monks will rarely have any problems with Cail’s creatures (conflicts with creatures that are controlled by the forces of darkness and hate are another mater, though) simply because they know how to aviod them. In the unlikely event of a confrontation with a wild animal, the monk knows how simply not to get away from it. Therefore parents of young monk children don’t worry when their young ones go to play in the woods, and the greater outdoors seems more of a home then most buildings do for the monk.
It’s also been discovered over the years how many plant herbs can be used as food, and for the healing of the human body. This herbalism has been proven to be one of the monk’s greater rewards of being close to nature, since we are capable of being able to mix potions for most of our lives. This skill traditionally was handed down from parent to child for a long time. However, it’s not uncommon for a monk to self teach him or her self to make potions. With little more then a cloth glove to handle the flowers, and wine as a preservative, a skilled herbalist monk can make many potions that can vary from healing poison and wounds (personica duem and hydele duem), to soothing nightmares one may have (betony duem), to even soothing an upset stomach, just a drink to help you sleep. And the majority of herbalism is done without tools made by man (well, with the exception of the bottle to hold the potion).
(For more information on herbal lore, Chloe Ta’null’s "Herbal Lore" text is highly recommended)
The one last thing about the monk’s relationship with nature that I should explain is the using of nature’s nochd (or life energy) to aid one’s self. Within all living things, light or dark, there exists mana of all the elements. A balance of this energy is known as nochd. It consists of all the elements, including light and darkness, fire, water, air, and earth.
While this knowledge is common place for all monks, only Monks as they start to get into their Ra (adult, elder) years ever really start to be able to sense this energy. A Ra monk, who is well trained, can sense the energy of all living things, and can determine many things about a creature, person, or place by opening his/her mind ((thus this is where the skill martial sense comes from)). With even more mastery of the martial arts, a monk eventually is able to even use his/her own energy and the energy of nature around him for whatever purpose he or she may desire. Some use it for healing poison and blindness (ao poisien, ao dall), others channel it to make themselves stronger or more resistant (Mist, Dion, the stances learn from forms). Then there are those really skilled monks are capable of using any form of energy as a weapon, such as beag nochd, Kelberoth strike, and poison punch. This is just to name a few well-known skills. However, unlike wizard that uses entirely the energy of elements around him or her-self, monks use a combination of their own chi (inner energy) and nature’s energy as a whole. Unfortunately, any kind of metal armors get in the way of channeling this energy, so anything more heavy then a bracer is rarely used by the monk.
((For more knowledge on how exactly a monk uses these skills in the form of a training guide, view brother Randolf’s Monk lore manuals))
An Overview of Monk Social Graces, and Clothes
Monks, as the centuries have come and gone, have developed a society for the most part based around Cail’s teachings of harmony and nature. Monks, unlike other guilds, have never war with one another. Instead, a certain kinship with one another has developed. This is thus why we call each other Duno (Brother) and Duna (Sister), out of general respect for one another, as well as love. One of the first rules a monk knows is that all others of our kind are considered family. Even if they have different religious beliefs then you do, they are treated like family (Sgrios monks are just kind of the trouble making brothers and sisters if you wish to think of it that way).
There’s not much of a social standing if you really want to think of it that way. However, it is common to show respect to an older monk by calling him or her ra-duno(duna) (big brother or sister) , or to call one younger then yourself ne-duno(duna) (little brother or sister). As monks get older, they consider themselves big brothers or big sisters to all the younger monks, and feel it’s their duty to keep an eye on the younger kin. As for someone whom you consider equal, you would refer to them as Fe-Duno(duna) (roughly translates to "Comrade brother or sister). It is respectful to call every monk a sister or a brother. Your teacher, someone you highly respect, or even your own parents (when you get older) can be called brother or sister in the standard language of Tremuir. However, if speaking traditionally to another monk, calling someone more respected then your self Fe or Ne Duno is considered disrespectful.
As for the disputes or laws within the monk guild, there was traditionally a Tsayadim council (Tsayadim meaning roughly elder, or one who is respected) that would meet in times of crisis or settle disputes. This council was made up of monks who have proven their worth and loyalty to the monk beliefs of harmony, so decisions were usually reasonable. This council was responsible for deciding things within the monk guild when there was a time of crisis.
Unfortunately there is no current Tsayadim because the last group was killed during the battle of the pool shadows nearly 9 years ago… therefore disputes between monks now are by the traditional Aisling court of law. This I consider a decline, because it was far smoother and far more reasonable to settle internal disputes within the monk’s own guild, as opposed to the court system that involves mounds of paper work and red tape...
Then there is the relationship between male and female within the monk guild. For the most part, man and woman are considered equal and train alongside one another. It’s been found although males are stronger and faster physically, females tend to be able to focus energy and still fight effectively. Therefore the more highly trained monks are much less the same, male or female. So no discrimination weather you are a boy or a girl, and they are trained much less the same as each other, and along side each other (One of my best training partners and rivals was a girl actually). Love and marriage more or less works the same way as any other culture in Tremuir, except the bride isn’t as subordinate to the groom as other traditional cultures.
As a rule, monk garments may not offer as high of protection or look flashy, but are durable, light, and allow flexible movement. The men commonly wear Doboks, Culottes, earth garbs, and wind garbs. What one of those they wear depends on one’s level in training. Only the more skilled monks can wear an earth or a wind garb. Despite the fact that they look simple, a lot of tailoring skill goes into making the fabric for these clothes. They’re usually made out of either a heavy cloth, or a fine durable silk designed to take a lot of punishment. As for the women, Bodices are the traditional wear of the female monk. They range from the earth bodice to the lighting garb. All female monk clothing are designed to allow easy movement, are durable, and make the wearer look good as well. However, monk women usually do not wear dresses as often as other women do, as a long dress or gown would get in the way of one’s kicking abilities.
As stated before, all shields or weapons are forbidden from being worn by a traditional monk. This is to do not only with the imposed ban on iron in Undine so long ago, but also out of a sign of respect towards Cail who in turn was forbidden to use any weapons. Also, the bulky swords and shields severely throw a monk off balance in a fight, preventing the effective use of any kicks. These are the main reasons why weapons and shields have been banned from the monk’s use.
Monks (for cultural reasons) also normally do not wear any footwear. This is a well-known fact throughout Tremuir, but many have wondered why the monk does not wear any footwear like all other cultures do. There are a few reasons for going barefoot such as they do. First of all, it is believed since Cail never wore any footwear himself, that going barefoot would make one closer to him, the earth, and in turn nature around us (which in fact is a very important thing in a traditional monk’s life). This is why at a Cail religious mass all followers (not just monks) take off their shoes or boots as a sign of respect towards Cail and nature.
Another reason for this is heavy boots tend to get in the way of a monk’s kicking ability and movement. A pair of bulky, leather boots would cramp one’s feet, and give the martial artist blisters beyond what you could imagine. Therefore, the only foot wear monks will wear are slippers, stockings, or other light more flexible materials.
Perhaps a more historical reason for the bare-foot monk is that during the Silent uprising of Undine over 300 years ago, whence the monk was born, there was no iron whatsoever. Therefore boot and shoe makers could not make any new shoes. So it was not really a matter of choice, but just simple because there was no footwear available at that time.
Therefore, we honor our ancestors who went without shoes or boots, as well as Cail, by going without footwear. There are a few exceptions to this rule nowadays, however. This change is due to monks migrating to other parts of the world, and the fact that people would look at them with scorn for walking into their houses barefoot, since in other cultures it’s a sign of disrespect to walk into someone’s house without shoes on. (It’s happened where monks over the years have been even executed for approaching a monarch’s home with no shoes, and thus were assumed to be showing disrespect towards the royalty). Therefore monks, as they become more respected, may wear slippers or light footwear along with their clothes, provided they are not too thick, and allow ease of use, and are not too flashy or showy. They may also wear footwear for special occasions, or if it is required.
Not that monks are hindered any by their lack of boots. Monk feet over the years tend to become almost as thick as leather. And due to a lack of weight on the feet, they are in turn more nimble then most others. Therefore monks feel just fine walking over gravel or sharp rocks that would normally cut, say a warrior’s, feet to shreds within minutes.
Greaves of any type may also be allowed to be worn, but usually monks tend to avoid them simply because they interfere with their chi energy, and the energy of nature. However, there are magical greaves, which allow the flow of movement and energy, that exist in Tremuir. These greaves are often worn by fighting monks who wish to protect their shins, which are vulnerable parts of the body.
Cail’s Teachings and the Monk
Although monks freely follow any religion they please nowadays, traditionally the monk was born of Cail and followed Cail. It is seen in the way all monks act, dress, and fight. Even those monks who follow Sgrios’ or Fioschd’s paths still using Cail’s teachings (although they do not wish to admit it). This is why I shall briefly describe some of the outlines of the Cail fellowship.
The two rock solid foundations of the Cail fellowship are Respect for Nature and Harmony. Nature is a provider, nurturer, and protector of all those who dwell within it. It provides us with food, protection, shelter, and can lend its aid in the form of raw energy if necessary. In turn, it is expected that a traditional monk show respect, love, and caring towards one’s environment, and all life. No things in nature are wasted for one’s material desires, therefore monks tend to live simply. This is also why Fioschd is considered an enemy of Cail, since they believe that anything to get them money (weather it be killing something, cutting down a forest, etc.) is just that ; something to get them money.
As well, Harmony is the belief that all things in the world happen for a reason, and that every thing is part of an enormous balance in the world. Although it is a sad thing when say a woodland animal dies, that creature’s meat will give other animals life. And what is left over from that will become nurturing ground. As well, as anything dies, there are others being born at the same time. Thus, is the balance nature, which we all are part of. Death, then rebirth.
The difference between this and Sgrios’ beliefs is that Sgrios believes there should be no rebirth, and no life and it longs to destroy all things, thus setting the world out of balance. This is why Cail and Sgrios are enemies. While Cail wishes to preserve life and nature in some form or another, Sgrios tries to destroy it. The two gods are at constant conflict with one another locked in a stalemate… it has been this way forever.
What this means for the monk is that he or she should cherish all life, and that having to fight or kill something is not something one should long to have to do. Yet sometimes it is a necessary evil to preserve the life of other creatures, or people to fight and maybe even kill something. It is a constant moral battle for us all when you really think about it, that we face every time we fight…
Some things in the monk culture still remain a mystery. For instance, who taught the first of our kind? Was it Cail himself, did someone from a distant land teach us, or did we "invent" the martial arts? And the magical energy around us for some enigmatic reason still baffles even the greatest scholars upon it’s creation, and how it interacts with all of us. Some mysteries surrounding the monk have yet to be solved in over the course of time. Others still will not ever be solved…
However, I hope these writings will shed some light upon the monk. I as a monk myself, have found this to be a great honor to be able to write about the culture I belong to in detail for all to understand, and to be able to learn and understand what makes me proud to be a monk.Garland,