?

Log in

Apr. 15th, 2006 @ 06:35 pm Dark Ages: Fae thoughts, Part 1: Mother
ioianthe, mjhockabout2 and mebib will probably be able to verbalize and contexturalize this better than I can. After all, I'm just the GM. :) But there's something very special about the exploration we've done in Dark Ages: Fae of female mythic archetypes.

I think it all came to a Freudian boil last night when ioianthe's character, a captive selkie (well, for lack of a better term) named Marie (née Mairead) was trying to forestall her second husband from annulling their marriage. It gets confusing, but here's the rough timeline:

  • Marie is "born" as a water spirit.
  • Marie is captured by her first husband, a fisherman named Eoin. He knows the tales and holds her shawl.
  • Marie, enslaved by a mortal and obeying the ancient Gold Oath that rules over her kind, becomes Eoin's wife and bears him children.
  • Marie takes a lover, Eoin's fellow angler, Lir.
  • Eoin kills Lir in a fit of rage with a harpoon through the chest. This is a secret Eoin has Marie keep.
  • Marie doesn't age, so Eoin packs up the family and moves to Northern France (we never quite tackled why an Irish fisherman goes to France, perhaps in a future flashback?)
  • Marie gets involved with the local fae.
  • Marie's second-eldest daughter Siobhan shows signs of developing into a fae herself. She's eventually driven into a convent to escape these weird phenomena.
  • Eoin suffers from a mysterious illness and dies, but not before handing the shawl to their youngest son. Now the son essentially holds Marie to the surface world and her mortal life.
  • Marie, through her own machinations and those of mebib's character, Hauviette, try to "fix up" Hauviette's recently-abandoned (secret Cathar) dad, Robert, with Marie.
  • They marry, both as Cathars and as Catholics (a smokescreen).
  • Things start getting weird around Robert and he starts wondering if his secret (and, he's slowly realizing, the secrets of his new wife) can be kept safe from Marie's vindictive daughter, the putative Sister Margaret and the rumblings of Inquisition.
  • Marie and Hauviette disappear for three days, and Robert, who formerly espoused the Cathar belief of equality of the sexes, seeks an annulment because Marie does not "obey." This sets off alarm bells, and the Circle believes Robert's been messed with by their enemies.
  • The Circle of Marie, Hauviette, and mjhockabout2's character Beata essentially render Robert pliable with magic.
  • Robert, almost in an infantile state, is led back into "his" house.
Okay, whew. But you get the idea. Robert's gone from forward-thinking women's-rights heretic, to a dupe for the Circle's enemies, to an easily-led shell of his former self. Fair enough.

It just came to me as Marie was leading her husband back into the house, that he should stammer, "Ma-... Marie?" (It works better if you sound it out). Brilliant, and totally off the cuff. The husband has become the son, much as the son, who now holds the selkie shawl, has become the husband. Lovely that linguistic quirk that makes "ocean," "mother" and "Mary" so close. :)

Marie's always been the most interesting of our Maiden (Hauviette)/Mother/Crone (Beata) triad to me. Mainly because the myth of the selkie is so clearly a metaphor for the near-inseverable ties of marriage and family for the pre-modern woman.

I know my players are reading Spinning Straw Into Gold, which takes fairy tales and places them in a context of life-transitions: from Maiden to Mother and Mother to Crone and back again ("second childishness and mere oblivion"). She has the vindictive daughter (which is an odd reversal of the usual vindictive mother of the Wicked Stepmother ilk who is jealous of her daughter's fecundity and nubility) and the men in her life are either domineering father-sons or submissive son-fathers.

Marie's character is the one, I feel, with the most total interior emotional life. Is it solely due to the fact that she has a family that she love/hates? Or a dream of innocence snatched from her, a life in the seas which are now poison to her? No. I think it's because Marie, despite Beata's being creepier than a full moon on a cold October night, is the most twisted of all three of the PCs.

When Marie's dead lover, Lir, was recently re-introduced after a trip to Hell? the Sunset Lands? Purgatory? and frozen until someone "of pure heart" comes to melt him, and Marie was told in no uncertain terms that she is not pure, I started thinking about the myths and what they say about the state of the Mother.

Eve's fallen to the pain of childbirth. Lilith is the Crone. The forgotten third Maiden, never touched by Adam. (Okay, I stole and adjusted this triad from Neil Gaiman, who probably stole it from someone else, but still). Eve's the Fallen one. Lilith gets off more or less scot-free and gets to give zipless birth to legions of demons and become the crone-witch of legend.

What is a curse? Motherhood? Femininity? The state of being tied to a home? I forgot to mention, one of Marie's Echoes (the mythic prohibitions and geasa that characters in Dark Ages: Fae bear as part of being in the world of humans) is that she must offer hospitality to all who enter her home.

It's believed that Marie was Spring Court (rebirth, joy, fertility) before she was captured by Eoin, and then in her bitterness turned to the horrors and coldness of the Winter Court when she was forced to breed for her mortal captor. In that way, she is on her way to becoming the succubus, the night-witch of Cronehood.

There's no way to go back, I guess, and recapture that lost innocence. Which I guess makes Hauviette's eventual and imminent growth into nubility that much more interesting.

coming soon: Part 2: Maiden

crossposted to mgrasso

Edit: Holy SHIT. I guess I should've looked this up sooner. *laugh*

SIOBHAN
Gender: Feminine
Usage: Irish
Pronounced: shi-VAWN [key]
Irish form of Jehanne, a Norman French variant of JEANNE.

*laughs some more*
About this Entry
la pucelle
mgrasso:
[User Picture Icon]
From:mebib
Date:April 17th, 2006 01:26 am (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
This is a fantastic breakdown of what is going on with Marie. I agree that she is probably the most complex out of the three of us because she has so much internal and external conflict. For Hauviette and Beata, the conflict has mostly been external. Given the new "role" Robert has taken, I'm looking forward to seeing how that might effect the relationship between Marie and Hauviette as it has already sparked a few words to be shared between them last session.

Siobhan = Jeanne = Joan = Super Freakin Freaky. Did you do that on purpose Mandy?
[User Picture Icon]
From:mgrasso
Date:April 18th, 2006 12:32 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
agree that she is probably the most complex out of the three of us because she has so much internal and external conflict. For Hauviette and Beata, the conflict has mostly been external.

*thinks* Hmm, well, I think that Hauviette being replaced by a doppelganger provided quite a bit of internal conflict (although in retrospect it seemed colossally unfair to you as a player and way too railroady) and Beata's quest for the Knights has produced all sorts of internal conflict about how to proceed with Joan. Also, we need to flash back again to Beata "poisoning" her husband and explore that some more.

Given the new "role" Robert has taken, I'm looking forward to seeing how that might effect the relationship between Marie and Hauviette as it has already sparked a few words to be shared between them last session.

We've been off the inter-party conflict since about session 8 or 9; it's nice to see it happening again. :)
[User Picture Icon]
From:mebib
Date:April 18th, 2006 01:40 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
"Hmm, well, I think that Hauviette being replaced by a doppelganger provided quite a bit of internal conflict (although in retrospect it seemed colossally unfair to you as a player and way too railroady)"

I appreciate the intrigue that this doppelganger situation has brought to the game. I don't feel railroaded at all, Hauviette was given the option more or less as far as these events are concerned. Granted I had no control over how the doppelganger would effect us, but its all very mysterious, I love it! Like I said the other night, this game is the only one that has literally made me nervous. There is so much going on that we are unaware of, and the fact that we are all so intuned with our characters, that I get nervous for them. I'm very curious to find out all of the plots going on behind the scenes...perhaps some day...

I cannot speak for Beata, but I feel as though, since I do not have control over what my doppelganger is doing, I don't feel a huge internal struggle with that. For me, it is more dealing with the day to day conflicts that arrive with other characters. I'm sure we will be able to delve into this a little more after the "Maiden" posting.

What good is a game without a little IPC, to which I say...bring it on Marie!
[User Picture Icon]
From:ioianthe
Date:April 19th, 2006 01:11 am (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Lovely that linguistic quirk that makes "ocean," "mother" and "Mary" so close.
do you think that was by accident? ;)