This section describes the Heortling passage into adulthood.

Becoming an Adult

All Heortlings undergo the initiation rite that takes them from child to adult in society.

Children do not have full rights in society. They are forbidden sex and from learning magic and the deeper mysteries of their religion.

Adulthood Rites

The adulthood rites are conducted by the elders and are segregated by gender.

  • Girls. Initiation occurs after menstruation begins. The clan holds a ceremony for all initiates once a year.
  • Boys. Boys are initiated some time after turning fourteen. Your clan conducts the rites once every five years so that some boys may be as old as nineteen when they become adults.

The rites take place so infrequently because they are magical journeys, a form of Heroquest that requires the support of the clan’s magic. As with any journey to the Other Side the rites can be dangerous. It is rare for things to go wrong but sometimes children and elders do not return from the journey.

The rites themselves are journeys of discovery where the children learn their places in the community and the universe.

The Girls’ Initiation

Girls journey to the Other Side and witness the miraculous birth of Ernalda, Esrola and Maran to Asrelia the Mother. They learn the secrets of the Green Age when Maran created the world. They take on aspects of Esrola, the Sheep Mother, the Barley Mother and many other forms, learning that the Form is not the Goddess but the Goddess is the keeper of the Form. With her five soul-senses awakened each girl gives birth to her True Self and Ernalda acknowledges her as a woman. Ivarne the Ancestress then instructs her on how to use her powers for the good of all. At some point she succumbs to the Great Sleep and awakens in the world of her physical body, crying out the secret words Ernalda gave her.

The Boys’ Initiation

Boys journey to the Other Side and participate in the great struggles of Orlanth, journeying with him from his hall to fight unjust Yelm, the Sun God, and brave the terrors of the Great Darkness after the sky god was slain. Some boys walk the trail to the Second Son, who explains to them the things that lie beyond in the dark. Some go farther and touch or even receive their own Star Heart. Rare individuals see the place where the Devil’s Face appears and even rarer boys confront it and survive. After going as far as they can, the boys return to Orlanth’s Hall, arriving with the marks of clan and rune tattooed on them. They wake to find themselves in the Sacred Camp, as men and adults.

After the Rites

For at least two years after the rites the initiated are ‘New Adults’, with the rights and responsibilities of adults. This is a time when they discover which god they will worship. They usually declare the deity that they think has chosen them (often Orlanth or Ernalda) and receive instruction on worship and their adult responsibilities over the coming years. They don’t learn any magic unless they initiate to an actual deity.

When two years are up, a decision to commit to a god is usually made, though some may delay this so that they can receive further instruction or because they are being called by an unusual deity of the pantheon, like Gustbran. Once a decision has been made they become full adults in the community.


The Book of Kendring Percyprune