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ConCulture: Kélen: Society and Religion

From:Sylvia Sotomayor <kelen@...>
Date:Wednesday, May 30, 2001, 1:14
Since someone asked...:-)

The People

The Kéleñi are not native to Térjemar.  They came from elsewhere.
They are humanoid, giving rise to theories that the Kéleñi are
genetically modified humans. The Kéleñi, however, say that they are
not human, thank you very much.


Traditionally Kélen society is divided into four parts (four being
the sacred number).  These are: the clan, the church, the guilds,
and the wanderers. The clans are matrilineal and often matriarchal.
Allegiance to a clan is obligatory for all Kélen on the grounds that
everyone has a mother. Allegiance to the church or to a guild is
optional, and not always permanent, though it is assumed to be
long-term. Being a wanderer, on the other hand, is typically a
short-term thing, indulged in by youth. There are, however, a small
number of people considered to be permanent wanderers who are well
respected by all members of society and often act as mediators
between the various groups.

The Kélen clans and guilds control most economic activity, often
sharing control of any given area.  Guilds cover such wide areas as
street and public park maintenance, civil defense, mining,
hand-crafting of luxury items, etc. Oddly, the storytelling guild is
not actually a considered a guild. Instead, it is seen as a loose
conglomeration of Wanderers.

The church on the other hand mediates clan disputes and oversees the
making of new clans.  It also defends the groups and guilds from
being controlled entirely by one clan.

The clans usually number between 150 and 250 people all pooling their
economic resources as well as child care needs. The clan is
matrilineal, matrilocal and generally matriarchal, with a ruling
council of old women and grandmothers. Often this council includes
men, but sometimes the men have a separate council of their own. The
clan takes care of the child raising for all of its members, leaving
them free to do other things if necessary. Since all the children are
raised together, the difference between a sister and a cousin is
negligible. However, since the women stay in the clan and the men
eventually leave, the difference between same-sex and opposite-sex
siblings and cousins is important.

The clan house is usually a large and varied structure with gardens
and courtyards,  receiving parlors for non-kin and areas where only
blood-kin are allowed. Even in the cities, clans are clustered
together and separated from other clans by public parks and market
squares. Most of the gardens and parks are covered as well, if only
partially, to provide protection from a native airborne predator.
Each house and market square usually has a well or fountain. Some
public ponds are stocked with an iridescent fish. These fountains and
ponds are maintained by a specific guild. Public greenery is
maintained by a different guild. The trellises and coverings over
public spaces are maintained by yet another guild. Chimes are also
common, and a particular guild is responsible for a popular set of
chimes that plays musical notes. Another is responsible for public

Education is shared between the clans, the church, and the guilds.
The clans provide elementary education during childhood. At a
certain age, the girls are usually packed off the a church school for
higher education. Some churches offer schools for boys as well. The
guilds provide vocational training and education, sometimes far
beyond the scope of what the guild officially does. The permanent
wanderers will sometimes give tutoring in one or more of the four
arts: anassálien (storytelling and music), anattennárien (dance and
motion), análtien (healing and touch), and anakkeílkien (visual
design). These four arts are also taught in other places and in other


The creation story has them coming to Térjemar in the form of seven
sisters who fell from the stars. They were then found by a local
power named Ánenánte who taught them how to live properly and gave
them various gifts, as well as an eighth sister named Xámorta, who
was the child of two other local powers known as Kíthje and Nárelke.
Some consider these local powers to have been individuals of the
tattérjien, a semi-legendary race native to Térjemar. Some stories
have only Nárelke as native to Térjemar, and Kíthje in particular as
"one of us".

Needless to say, Ánenánte has been deified, as well as Kíthje and
Nárelke. However, the most important deity is actually the Star
Goddess Lúáne. She is the one most Kéleñi pray to. She is also the
visible form of anannárien, or the underlying order of the universe.
Some say she is the mother of the universe and of jannárien.
Jannárien, in the form of one's genes and upbringing and history and
the consequences of one's decisions and actions, is what makes a
person a person and it is also what makes a person distinct and
unique. It is closer in definition to "human nature" than to "fate",
though it includes a degree of inevitability, though jannárien can be
overcome. As it is partially self-defined, it also corresponds to
such concepts as "honor" and "integrity".

Groups, guilds, and clans also have jannárien - theirs being made
up of all the individual jannárien and the group history. This in
turn becomes jannárien for the entire species of Kéleñi, which in
turn is part of anannárien, or the underlying order of the universe.
While jannárien is interlocking, it is not seen as hierarchical. It
is rather seen as a substance spread around the universe of which
everyone and everything has their piece. The pieces have the same
nature as the whole, much in the same way as a small puddle of water
has the same nature as a lake.

Jannárien is sometimes opposed by jattáLien or Chance. Some see
jattáLien as hostile to anannárien, others see it as a necessary
part of anannárien. The concept of balance or jaxxáláejien is
important here. Balance is maintained by jaccánien, which is love or
emotion. There is also the idea that the universe is a dynamic
pattern that started with the beginning of time and will not finish
until the end of time.

One class of priestesses (males very rarely have this ability) claims
to be able to see anannárien and how it exists in space and time.
These are the tiróáñi. Non-Kéleñi call them oracles.

Sylvia Sotomayor
Harcourt College Publishing

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