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OVERVIEW INTRO HERE PLS
Statistics & Foundation
ADOPT from HEARG NJORTH
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- 1. Essentials
- 2. Culture
- 3. Structure
- 4. Religion
- 5. Significant Families
- 6. History
- 7. Notes & References
The Heargh Njorth is located in a stretch of forest -- formerly a national park -- in the upper peninsula of Michigan, along the shores of Lake Superior.
At the center of the territory the Hearg itself stands as the religious "temple" of the pack. A small grove of trees on a hilltop with pile of stones at the center of grove was the extent of the temple, however.
The most striking geological feature of the Porcupine Mountains is the long escarpment parallel to the Lake Superior shore, overlooking the Lake of the Clouds. A second ridge farther inland, on the other side of Lake of the Clouds, includes Summit Peak, the highest point in the mountains at 1,958 feet (595 m). Rivers, waterfalls, swamps, and lakes lie between the rocky outcroppings. There are a number of waterfalls on the Presque Isle River, draining the Lake of the Clouds into the larger Lake Superior.
Lake of the Clouds and Presque River
The Lake of the Clouds is a large, long lake near the center of the Hearg territory. The easternmost shores are occupied by the völva sect; this part of the Hearg territory is forbidden for non-völva canines to enter. The westernmost shores are used by the Fiskr caste to provide food for the Hearg. The Lake of the Clouds freezes solid in winter.
The Presque River drains the Lake of the Clouds, and provides an important food source for the canines of the Hearg. As with the lake, the Fiskr caste utilizes the river and its many falls to build weirs, trapping the fish along the river where it is easiest to catch them. The Presque freezes over in winter.
The Nonesuch Mine is an abandoned copper mine and small ghost town in the southeast corner of the Porcupine Mountains State Park. It was abandoned long before the demise of humanity; only a few buildings' stone foundations -- one of which is used for skjoldr -- remain. The mines themselves are deep and winding, cutting deep into the southern ridge of the Porcupine Mountains.
Lake Effect Snow. Even after the majority of the snowstorm (to the east) has moved off, thick bands of cold air and precipitation dragged across the surface of the lake can cause continued snow in affected areas. The red dot shows where the Hearg Njorth is located.
Most notably, the winters in the Hearg are especially harsh. The proximity of the canines to Lake Superior, as well as the low, rolling ridge of the Porcupine Mountains, contribute to weather known as lake-effect snow. Lake-effect snow is produced during cooler atmospheric conditions when cold winds move across long expanses of warmer lake water, providing energy and picking up water vapor, which freezes and is deposited on the leeward shores. This can produce narrow but very intense bands of precipitation, which deposit at a rate of many inches of snow per hour -- often resulting in copious snowfall totals. The area around the Hearg can average over 200 inches (508 centimeters) of snow per year.
Snowfalls of five and six feet are not uncommon in the valley where the Hearg Njorth wolves live -- these snow squalls may last days at a time if a system hovers over the area. Also interesting is the potential for thundersnow -- that is, snow showers accompanied by lightning and thunder. This typically only occurs with extremely cold air blowing across Lake Superior and is not as commonplace as large-volume snowfalls, but may take place as often as twice or three times per year. Hail is seen more frequently than thundersnow.
The Hearg is a conjunction of seven Luperci families numbering numbering about fifty total canines. Though most aspects of the Hearg Njorth are similar to other canine pack, the religious aspects are emphasized. Beliefs are derived from both Anglo-Saxon, Norse paganism, and Neo-Paganism beliefs. Much of their culture comes from the Scandinavian influence of the northern midwest United States; other beliefs were repurposed from neo-pagan elements present in humanity's culture around 1988.
In general, the canines of the Hearg are conservative and traditionalist. They don't react well to change, and they've been living the way they have for some years now, with most canines born into their culture. Few outside influences enter the Hearg, and those that do are usually assimilated in no short order or kicked out.
- Language: Everyone here is boring and speaks English, but their names are all awesome Old Norse.
- Residence: Canines here reside primarily in underground dens, with the occasional leaning shelter of branches and brush. There are no buildings or human constructions utilized by members of the Hearg.
- Many canines of this area are of Great Plains Wolf descent. A few families -- particularly of the Fylgja and Silfr families -- claim Tundra Wolf descent, though this is highly unlikely, as the tundra wolf is a Eurasian subspecies.
- Interaction with other species -- dogs and coyotes -- is minimal in Hearg Njorth. It is likely canines of the Hearg would regard them with reserved curiosity. Whether such a canine could be accepted into the Hearg remains to be seen. Hybrids have been accepted before, notably amongst the Helsi family.
- Canines here live mostly as normal, feral wolves.
- The Secui form is utilized for various purposes: namely, during the winter during the deep snows. Though the Secui form's endurance is not so great as the Lupus form, the powerful limbs and tall bodies of the Secui form make for easier movement in these snows.
- The Optime form is reserved primarily for purposes of worship and during the "thing.". Residents always present themselves at the Hearg in Optime form. Optime form is not banned for uses other than these specified, nor is it looked down upon -- members simply tend to prefer their birth forms to their shifted forms.
- Shifting and becoming a different form is considered a form of magic, as is the sharing of the Luperci virus. Men are, accordingly, not permitted to shift in front of women within the Hearg Njorth; however, if they are careful to shield their shifting from the most devout women, the fact that they appear in forms other than Lupus is conveniently overlooked.
Most members of the Hearg have little familiarity with advanced human technologies. The few technologies they utilize are generally used by ancient men -- e.g., bone blades and items constructed of animal hides and parts. They are capable of constructing rudimentary fishing weirs of stone, and fish makes up a small part of their diet.
They ferment a weak, watery sort of wine used exclusively in their drinking ritual and use drinking horns -- these technologies, used for religious purposes, are taught by the völva. The völva are the only canines of the Hearg with the ability to read -- they are educated in English. This is a secret from the other canines of the Hearg, who are mostly unaware of the abilities of the völva.
Personal character and virtue are emphasized in the Hearg. Truthfulness, self-reliance, and generosity are important moral characteristics; honor is especially cherished. Strong competition between castes, families, and individuals is discouraged.
Ritual feasting is extremely important within the Hearg -- though sans the feast; there's no food! The "feast," "festival," "toasting," or "thing" as the Hearg call it is a drinking ritual where all members gather together for various purposes:
- To share news
- To settle matters of politics and disputes, though disputes may escalate further
- To make oaths to other canines. Oaths said over the symbel-horn were seen as binding; failure to fulfill an oath will affect the luck of all in attendance
- To celebrate religious or spiritual occurrences. While witch-women generally do not attend, they were free to do so if they chose, and völva attendance typically provokes a much more subdued and spiritual feast.
All participants share special drinking horns, passing them around so that each member of the pack in attendance would drink from each of his neighbors' cup. All members in possession of a drinking horn -- generally given to a canine by a parent or other older relative -- are permitted to attend the feast. Attendance was not mandatory, but continued absenteeism is counterproductive to one's status in the pack. It is viewed as anti-social and could, at worst, end up with severe reprecussions if a dispute was not heard for three festivals.
Any canine in attendance may speak, and therefore the feast is typically a rather long affair, lasting through most of a day. The thing is typically followed by a (usually unsuccessful, due to the tiredness of the pack's members) hunt.
Gender & Sexuality
Society in the Hearg is somewhat based in matriarchy, though men are not debased or considered invaluable in the general populace. Women and men are free to participate in most roles of society, excluding the religious order. Males typically take the female name in a mateship, though the opposite may occur occasionally. Men are excluded from "practicing magic" -- they may not serve within the religious sect of the Hearg.
Homosexual relations are tolerated, though canines in homosexual relations cannot seek to become mates officially, as their unions can't produce children. Anything more esoteric than homosexuality -- e.g., polyamory -- is not tolerated.
There are a few distant packs surrounding the Hearg, but there is little exposure to the outside world due to their somewhat remote location. Most members of the pack are aware of and indifferent to their neighbors; there is no hostility between the Hearg and any neighbors. Outsiders are regarded suspiciously, but lone wolves are permitted to join the pack, provided they profess to adopt the religious ways of the Hearg. As many canines from the surrounding areas already follow some similar religion, the transition is smooth in most cases.
The Hearg's societal system is based upon a caste system, wherein young canines are drawn to a particular practice or trade by their natural skill. It is worth noting that there really isn't a "hierarchy" -- e.g., a Moðir could not expect to give a Skylda or Valr orders to do something and expect automatic obedience. The hierarchy is a description of respect each different caste gets. In most cases, a Skylda or Valr would follow the Moðir's orders, simply because of the respect the profession of Moðir grants. However, a Moðir who has an ill reputation as an individual cannot exepct obeisance due only to her caste.
- Völva: The female-only religious sect, reserved and removed from most interactions of the Hearg. The "rulers."
- Moðir: This is another female sect, though men might be permitted to join (none have ever petitioned). These women assist mothers in caring for their children, and number from four to six.
- Røkkr: The elder canines of the Hearg, past their prime and without obligation to the pack. These canines usually number from five to six. Völva never become Røkkr.
- Fiskr: These canines were in charge of maintaining and constructing the pack's fishing weirs. A small sect numbering from four to seven.
- Hundr: The hunter's caste. This is generally the largest group within the Hearg, numbering from sixteen to seventeen.
- Skylda: These canines are the scouts of the pack, reporting to the Hundrs regarding food supplies and intercepting trespassers. These canines number from twelve to seventeen, the second largest sect of the pack.
- Valr: The warrior's sect. These canines are generally the largest and strongest of the Hearg, and number anywhere from five to eight.
The Hearg lacks any overseeing government; while the Fyrstrvölva is the "alpha" of the pack, she generally does not involve herself in petty disputes, rank squabbles, etc. -- only when a crisis of pack direction or serious religious inquiry occurs is the Fyrstrvölva sought. Otherwise, the system of justice within the Hearg is enforced by the canines themselves, typically through feasting, Skjoldr, etc.
Individual disputes are settled by dueling.
- The fight occurs on special grounds, where four ancient cornerstones of a house stand -- the skjoldr. The house itself is more than long gone, with only the worn, crumbling rocks remaining.
- Skjoldr is always performed in Secui form.
- Being pushed out of the skjoldr or dying is a loss. If one is pushed from the square, they must vacate the Hearg by the next full moon, or they can be killed by their Skjoldr opponent (and his/her friends and family) without repercussion.
Women are more likely to demand a skjoldr. Fights involving two women are widely considered the deadliest. A Skjoldr is attended by a majority of the pack, as it is a relatively rare occurrence -- prior to 2008, only three such fights had ever occurred. From 2008 onward, the fights have occurred more frequently. Most of the pack agrees this is due to their increasing numbers and the number of outsiders flocking to their midst.
Exile is one of the few punishments by law the Hearg enforces. Exile of a particular canine is proposed during the ritual feast, generally for reason of severely unbefitting religious conduct (e.g., inciting the public toward atheism, defiling the Hearg proper, etc.). The canine exiled must always give up the surname they were granted at birth to avoid shaming their family when they depart from the Hearg. Returning -- at any time, for any reason -- is cause for the exiled party's death.
Members of the Hearg worship various deities of fertility -- specifically, the Vanir god trio: Freyja (female fertility), Freyr (male fertility), and Gerth (earth fertility). The Hearg is considered seat of the trio of fertility, and thus the Hearg's primary devotions are to Freyja, Freyr, and Gerth.
Members of the Hearg acknowledge other gods; the völva teach that there are an innumerable amount of gods, most to be accepted as fact. Their home is named for Njorth, a god of wind and water and the father-god of Freyja and Freya, though he is not of particular import to the canines of Hearg Njorth.
- Supernatural Creatures: Members of the Hearg hold strong belief in various supernatural spirit creatures -- dwarves, elves, fairies, giants, spirits, etc. These are all fashioned more like Luperci -- e.g., rather than a tiny man with curled ears and a beard for a dwarf, it's a tiny Luperci. There are various myths and fairy tales told to children regarding these creatures, and they are passed orally from one generation to the next.
- Fylgja: Supernatural beings or creatures which accompany a canine in connection to their fate or fortune. Fylgja usually appear in the form of an animal during sleep; seeing one while awake is considered an omen of one's impending death. On the other hand, seeing evidence of its visits in the night -- e.g., footprints -- is a sign of impending good luck.
Members of the Hearg engage exclusively in animal sacrifice. Canine sacrifice is a practice considered abhorrent to the gods, never practiced within the Hearg. Horned animals -- cows; goats; male deer, elk, and moose; etc. -- are strongly preferred. The sacrifice ceremony is performed to honor and please the gods, as well as to ask for good favor in particular ventures.
- Blót is the ceremony performed within the Hearg, wherein a horned animal's throat was slit and its blood smeared on the participants and around the Hearg. The old blood is never cleared; thus, the Hearg smells of old death and is covered with rusty stains.
- Dísablót: This is the Blót ceremony specifically performed on the vernal equinox to honor women and female spirits. Freyr is specifically excluded from this ceremony, with all honors owed to Freyja and Gerth. The sacrifice of this ceremony is always a female cow, abundant in the lowlands surrounding the Hearg Njorth territories.
The mateship ceremony involve a joining of male and female in the Hearg. The mateship ceremony is overseen by a völva, who ascertains both parties are capable (to their knowledge) and willing to produce children in the Hearg. Völva, man, and bride bequeath Freyja and Freyr to provide the mateship with longevity and fertility.
The attending members of the pack hunt each night in their Secui forms while the völva attends in Optime form until prey is felled. Many nights of hunting are considered impending poor luck for the mateship, and attendance in the hunting party may begin to wane. The völva performs the Blót ceremony when prey is finally felled, smearing the faces of each attending canine with the prey's blood. The mated couple eat first.
The raven banner along with raven symbols are frequently used by the völva to evoke an air of mystique and frighten non-völva.
- The Valknut decorates many parts of the Hearg. It is often found adorned to members -- branding and scarification both are commonplace. True tattooing is not practiced by members of the Hearg, but canines with healing scars or burns will often use colored dyes to turn their healing scars a particular shade. Ash and cherry are common, leaving many members with gray and reddish marks.
- The raven banner along with raven symbols are frequently used by the völva to evoke an air of mystique and frighten non-völva.
The völva are the religious order of the Hearg. Exclusively female, they are priestesses known for their magic and seduction. While not all women are bound for this particular group, men are not permitted to serve here. Though their prophecy is respected, they are feared and reputed to seduce men to their two-legged forms for use in their fertility rituals, which are generally mysterious and unknown outside of the witch-woman circle itself.
The völva are the most educated members of their society. While they rarely -- if ever -- participate directly in the politics of the Hearg, their prophecy is adhered to nearly as law. They are the only members of the pack with the ability to read, though most of their reading is devoted to religious texts and they have a similar exposure to outside culture as the other members of the Hearg. One or two books not of religious material exist within the Hearg, passed from one inquisitive priestess to the next without the knowledge of her sisters.
At any one time, there are generally three to six völva within the pack. The number fluctuates and does not provide a minimum or maximum, though times with only one or two völva are considered lean and harsh, and times with eight or ten are considered quite bountiful and miraculous. The witch-women are not restricted from any regular part of the Hearg lifestyle -- they may take mates and bear children, so long as they are five years of age or more. Though many völva bear children and publicly acknowledge the father, few choose to take mates.
The völva appear as Optime far more frequently than the other members of the Hearg.
The völva only produce daughters, leading many residents of the Hearg to infer the völva cast magic to produce only women. In reality, the völva are simply careful never to appear pregnant, disguising the sizes of their litters. Male children are immediately killed, as they firmly believe male children produced of a völva are too magical to survive.
One does not elect to be chosen for the völva sect; the existing völva evaluate all new daughters born to the Hearg for their magical abilities over the first six months of their lives, and upon the girl's first shift, draw her into their sect. It is considered an honor to produce a daughter chosen for the task. The girl is bound to serve the elder priestesses in training until she reaches five years of age; upon her fifth birthday, she is made a völva-priestess proper.
This is the leader of the völva caste within the Hearg. The Fyrstrvölva (first witch) leads her sisters and is ultimately responsible for all the völva do. She holds the recipe for the feast's wine and passes it to her successor alone, brewing each batch of the ceremonial wine herself. She chooses her own successor and elects new daughters to be inducted to the caste upon her sisters' recommendations.
The Fyrstrvölva is regarded as something of the "alpha" within the Hearg's society, though she does not concern herself with most petty matters of the pack, which are collectively decided. Rather, she is the foremost religious entity of the pack, feared and respected as the most powerful of the völva.
Women are regarded as sacred and the exclusive holders of magic -- men who proclaim to practice magic were not respected in the least. Rather -- male practictioners or would-be male practitioners are shamed and considered sexually perverse. They are often killed after being chased for several hours by the female warriors of the pack. Young boys who show strong magical inclinations where the völva are concerned are sometimes killed, though the parents generally abandon the child in the lands beyond the Hearg in the hopes they are found by others before the child can be killed.
- Helsi Family / Helsi Offboard
- Dvergr: Very small of stature, especially in comparison to most others within the Hearg. Their name means dwarf and some rumor they have dwarf blood in them.
- Brynja: Extremely burly of stature; warriors and fighters. Many male children and few female children.
- Fylgja and Vöndr: Larger families; considered to have abnormal amounts of magic in their blood. Many Völva come from their families.
- Silfr: All the members of this family are pale silver in coloration, with blue or gray eyes.
- Reyrr: Members of this family are considered and rumored to be lazy, though these claims may be unfounded. This family is the smallest of the Hearg, consisting of only a few members.
- 'Souls Characters: Siv Helsi, Reykr Helsi, Draugr Helsi, Sonje Helsi, Hugleikr Silfr, Stjarna Fylgja, Svanr Reyrr, Siva Vöndr