Rulers: An Danu (ruler) / An Dagda (military leader, selected by the Danu).
Hearth-Keepers Council: A mixed group of Lords and Ladies of the Hearth (heads of households, clans, etc.) to help see to the day-to-day running of the courts and lands that fall under the Gwerin’s domain. The Hearth-Keepers Council, augmented by representatives appointed by other clans, will choose the next Danu.
Hearth-Keepers: Lord and Lady of the Hearth (heads of household and clans).
Morrighan and Dragonguard: As defenders of the Arcane Light, the siege, and their local Court, the Morrighan and the Dragonguard are held in high regard. Their spot on the social ladder is disputed by the High-Born.
The High Born: These are the lords and ladies of the Gwerin, usually members of the most ancient bloodlines. The High-Born view most Morrighan as “mutts” due to their tendency to form marriages with one another regardless of race.
Court Councillors: The various chancellors, councilors, etc. As some of these may be of the High-Born, they may have more power and status than this denotes.
Citizenry: As always, this group is very low on the social ladder. They are also backbone of the culture. This group includes everyone living in and around sieges, citadels, and courts.
Clan-Less: Those that are orphaned are cherished and cared for. However, after they reach a certain age in their adult life, if they remain without a clan or Clan-Name, they are considered the lowest of Gwerin society. It is true that the Clan-Less tend to turn more toward criminal activities and are more easily lured into service of the Shadowed One.
The majority of Gwerin society are good people. They are hard workers, protective of those less able to defend themselves, stand against The Shadowed One, and the Dark Hordes that he commands. Also, like any large group of individuals, some are less sterling of character. There is an element, mostly amongst the High-Born, that feel the Gwerin should rule all lands and subjugate the younger races. This insidious group is called The Purge (y Carthu in the ancient tongue) since their original stated purpose was to rid the world of the younger races. It should be noted that there is not any Carthu amongst the Morrighan since the dragons would not tolerate such an agenda.
Gwerin organize their extended families into Clans and Clan-Septs much like the Scottish Highlanders did. The Clan is considered extremely important to their society and, in fact, garners almost as much loyalty from them as do the dragons and the Arcane Light. Clan-Septs are determined by allegiance. The Hearth-Keepers of a Clan-Sept can state their fealty to one of the Clans. From that point on, they are expected to support that clan in all things.
And this is where Gwerin culture can become very complicated and confusing. Because of their loose views on monogamy, property inheritance tends to be matrilineal while Clan-Names and allegiance by a pair’s offspring can be chosen.
Naming Day is one of the most important milestones in a young Gwerin’s life. At the age of sixteen, they must choose their clan allegiance and Clan-Name. The majority of Gwerin choose either their sire’s clan or their dam’s clan. This decision is usually dictated by which clan they spent the majority of their time with.
The Clan-Less are Gwerin orphans and even children of other races raised by the Gwerin. These young adults often choose an original clan name for themselves. Orphans are usually welcome to choose the name of the clan that raised them. The final decision is normally dictated by the treatment they received from their foster clan and its leaders.
Petitions: Some Clan-Less will petition to be allowed to earn a Clan-Name. This involves being given a Clan-Name based on their deeds or having a clan offer to adopt them based on how prominent they have become.
Note: Original Clan-Names are usually chosen based on the individual’s magical affinity.
Marriage and Family
For many millions of years, the Gwerin followed the dragon’s practice of taking a single lifemate and only pairing with another if the first one died. Like the dragons, Gwerin men would engage in a non-lethal battle to win a lifemate. In the High-Born Clans, pairings were arranged since these clans did not want to risk serious injury or death from fighting for their mate. Gradually, the tradition of marrying evolved.
The Gwerin population took a huge hit during the four thousand years of the Uthuria Shadow Wars (The Fall of Uthuria). Along with the huge losses from the wars, more died during the Great Ice (ice age) that followed. There was some fear that the race would not survive. While the practice of marrying to foment Clan-Name succession, the Gwerin began forming brief liaisons strictly to propagate the race.
Arranged marriages are still common amongst the High-Born for dynastic and clan allegiance reasons. However, this is rarely an ongoing monogamous relationship after the Hearth-Lady gives birth to the couple’s first child, which seals the alliance. After that, both husband and wife will likely engage in numerous affairs, not always heterosexual in nature. The woman will usually raise her children within her marital clan with the father(s), spending time with them or fostering them to their own clan for a time.
Marriage rituals are simple handfasting ceremonies that are usually overseen by the clan chieftain or chieftess.
Due to the rather lax nature of relationships amongst the Gwerin, the overwhelming majority of clans are matriarchal and governed by the bloodline’s eldest female.
Note: The High-Born will conduct brief sexual affairs with Sassenach (other races). However, the offspring of such unions are considered Clan-Less and usually left to be raised by the outlander’s family or clan. The fact that the Morrighan have no such onus against marrying and having children with non-Gwerin lends to the High-Born’s contempt for them. They tend to see the Morrighan as “mutts,” even though some of them come from High-Born clans.
Gwerin, Morrighan, and Marriage
Gwerins that have taken service with the Morrighan tend to follow the dragon’s practice of taking a partner for life. Since children are not the primary concern of Morrighan as their offspring are not automatically Morrighan, there is no onus on same-sex lifemates. Likewise, few Gwerin Morrighan views Sassenach or mixed-race negatively.
Death and Death Rituals
“The Silver Wheel,” “High Fruitful Mother,” Arianrhod is the sister of Gwydion and wife of Donn. Deity of the element of air, reincarnation, full moons, time, karma, retribution. The palace of this sky Goddess was Caer Arianrhold (Northern Aurora). She is the Keeper of the Silver Wheel of Stars and the Sword of Light, a symbol of time and karma. Arianrhod rises in the evening to gather all of the spirits of the worthy that have reached their earthly life’s end. In the morning, she parts the Veil and releases them to continue their journey.
All Gwerin eventually reach a point in their incredibly long lives where they feel it is time to leave their earthly existence behind and start their next journey. Many Gwerin that serve the Morrighan hear their own version of the Song of Airsith and know it time to leave. Often this decision is precipitated by the loss of someone very significant, their wingbond, a lifemate or lover, etc.
Note: Gwerin do not generally fear ending their earthly existence. This is not the end of them but the beginning of another journey.
The term “Crossing” refers to Crossing Through the Veil. It is believed that the Veil is the invisible wall between Aereth and other realms such as the Sword of Light and the Abyss (the in-between realm).
When their earthly life ends, the Gwerin undergo the Crossing. Their physical bodies cease to exist. Those that witness a Crossing will see a spearpoint of Light ascending to the heavens. This is the physical expression of their passing through the Veil to the Sword of Light.
The Sword of Light is the name for Aereth’s galaxy. It also refers to the bright, visible, densely-packed swath of stars visible from Aereth’s surface. This swath of stars resembles a magnificent and massive star-spangled sword.
The Abyss (Affwys)
In the Gwerin’s beliefs, this is a very real place that lies Beyond the Veil, beneath the realm of the Arcane Light. It is ruled by Nuelia, the Goddess of Affwys and Penance and wife to Tar’garath, the God of Chaos and Shadows.
The reason that the Abyss is viewed as an actual land or realm is because so many of the Shadow Horde can cross freely between it and the real world. A good example of this is the drakhmar, dragons that lost their eyes and had their spiritual connection to the Arcane Light severed.
Note: The Abyss (aka Affwys) would be analogous to what Christians on Earth consider as hell. If you are an evil or bad person in life, you will be condemned to Affwys or the Abyss for all time. Those that were allied with the Shadowborn in life are condemned to spend all eternity doing penance in the Abyss. They are neither truly alive or truly dead.
Disposition of Personal Property
When a Gwerin approaches the end of their earthly life, they will write a will that details who will receive their personal property. Morrighan does this once they have impressed a dragon and are inducted into the ranks as a Paladin. In the case of someone becoming Shadowborn or being slain without a will, their closest clan members make the decision for the dispensation of property.
Biases (Against Others)
Since the Gwerin believe they are descendants of the Tuatha Dé Danann, their pantheon of Gods and Goddesses, it can be expected that they have biases toward others. Although generally cordial, their manner carries a hint of arrogance and condescension. Although the Gwerin do not view the “younger” races as completely primitive, they do not see them as anywhere near as advanced as they are.
Because they interact with members of the younger races regularly, the Morrighan tend to be less biased and judgemental.