Star Bears: Mythos & History of Arakang

From: Andrew Behan (ajbehan@maedhbh.maths.tcd.ie)
Date: Fri 09 Jan 1998 - 22:40:12 EET


(What follows is speculation on my part, reasonably constructive
criticism isn't so much encouraged as begged for.)

The region now known as Doblian and specifically the western land of Arir
was a hunter-gatherer society until the middle of the Second Age. The

natives were backward tributaries of the Dara Happans in the Concilliar
period, and of the Empire of Gloom for most of the Second Age. In common

with the rest of the Pelorian basin it was heavily wooded and had heavy
soil which could not be turned by the light pony drawn ploughs of the
civilized Dara Happans and Pelandans.

The dispersal of Carmanian iron plough in the ninth and tenth centurty
precipitated the rapid decline, or transformation, of the formerly
dominant hunter cults: Kenestrata, Orogeria and Arakang. The new cults of
Oravinos, Turos and Oria came to prominence and the old ways survived in
the rugged foothills of the Yolp Mountains and in the northeast near
Mount Jenalf.

The agriculturalists and their new Carmanian overlords, with their
penchant for hilltop qasirs, came into conflict with the mountainy men.
The tale of Oravinos and Arakang reflects this hostility. Dara Happan
tradition, which disapproved, of saleseh and bear deities, provided
religious justification for persecution. To defame them further settled
folk gave the tale of Purendi a materialist gloss as a cannibalistic
orgy.

The Arakang cultists formed a covert spirit cult offering one non-hunting
spell to its miserable backwoods followers who came to accept their
scapegoat status. The raising of sacraficial bear cubs and the attendant
festivities took on a secretive, even sinister tone in the four centuries
between the appearance of agriculture in the region and the Lunar
conquest of Carmania. Its devotees were the downtrodden, the
dispossessed, slightly crazy and downright dangerous. It was a secret
society, an outlaw cult of witches and brigands just like Orlanth (only
kidding)

The Lunars subverted this completely. The mountainy men were early allies
of the New Moon Queendom, and converts to the Lunar creed such was their
desperate need for support. Rufelza-Orogeria's conquest of the Star Bears
in Hell was, at one level, an allegory for this association. Like the Star
Bears the Bear Witches were considered to be subdued foes, turned loyal
servants by their new masters rather than as equals. Nevertheless their
link with the Star Bear Rider earned them tolerance as a Lunar sub-cult,
particularly in Doblian.

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