Readers of the Tide Organization in The Ocean | World Anvil
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Readers of the Tide

The River Culture bands always had those members who could easily determine whether a source of water was safe to drink, how long a storm would last, and how deep and how fast the river currents ran. The first bands to migrate to the coast learned quickly about the interplay between the moon and the ocean. Those with strong water affinity could, with experience, stand in the surf for the space of a few minutes and tell the tidal stage and strength of change, and when and how high and low the next cycles would be.   The complexity of the tidal pattern in that region led them to believe the moon was speaking directly to the ocean, so that someone who could interpret the water's motion could be said to be listening to the moon herself. The people with this ability came to be known as Readers of the Tide, and for a thousand years they served not only as intermediaries between the people and their creator deity, but also as messengers between communities and as guides for safe travel at sea.

Public Agenda

In the early days, the Readers' purpose was to inform coastal communities when it was safe to gather food from the intertidal zone.  When boats began traveling frequently between the coast and nearby atolls, the Readers kept track of when it was best to set sail.


The River Culture bands reached the coast around -200 Oce, and within ten years the first Readers began working. At first there was no formal organization of Readers--each community had its own experts, though some male Readers migrated between settlements, in keeping with old tribal custom. They carried news and other correspondence, and exchanged information with local Readers about the offshore conditions in different areas. Combining reports from several southern communities led to the realization that there were shallow areas in the ocean not too far from shore.
The first year of the Oceanic Era is the year it is estimated that humans first traveled in boats out of sight of the coast. Readers of the Tide led those ships to the shallow places and found them to be low islands, many with palm forests. The demand for skilled Readers increased sharply, since they were needed to guide ships safely between the coast and the islands. Peripatetic Readers became teachers also, offering instruction in listening to the ocean wherever they visited, and what had been a loose association of colleagues became a structured guild with masters and apprentices.
Beginning around 600 Oce, the alignment of a bright star with the celestial north pole made it possible to take even longer voyages. A major shift in religion began around the same time, with the ocean replacing the moon as the primary deity.


By 800 Oce, coastal humans had become economically dependent on inter-island trade.  Navigators continued to be called Readers, but more often interpreted ocean currents and waves than tides.  The work involved enough non-water-based techniques--watching sea birds, estimating winds, tracking stars--that water affinity was no longer necessary.  In one sense the Readers of the Tide still exist, since navigation remains a crucial role even in the Volcanic Era, but with the moon no longer the focus of humans' worship, the need for communicating with the tide was gone.

Granted Divine Powers

Besides the practical aspects of knowing when the tides occur, Readers of the Tide were often called upon to deliver messages to the moon, or to request favors from her.  Enough Readers complied that they acquired a minor reputation as fortunetellers.  Although this kind of tide reading has not been practiced in more than ten thousand years, many superstitions centered around the tides remain. Some equate the height and direction of tide at the time of a child's birth to the type of future life the child will have. Expressions such as "good tides raise you" and "thank the tides" are commonly used even by people who hold no particular beliefs in tidal luck.

-200 Oce - 800 Oce

Guild, Professional
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