Spirit-talker Rank/Title in The River | World Anvil
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Spirit-talker is the woman with secret knowledge of how to control the unseen conditions that affect the body and mind.  The power she holds depends on her approach to the role. If she is of a generous and open personality, she will more often share her knowledge and resources, in which case her power is founded in women's gratitude toward her. A more guarded Spirit-talker keeps her work secret and adds flourishes to her rituals to heighten the mystery, so that her power is founded in women's awe of her.


A candidate must pass a water-sensing test. The current Spirit-talker presents her with sets of gourds filled with water, and she must correctly answer Spirit-talker's questions about them. While most women can identify clean water, a Spirit-talker must be able to detect different kinds and concentrations of contaminants.


Spirit-talker is the only adult role that can be held by a girl. Still, for most girls the respect is not worth the isolation. Unlike other women, Spirit-talker does not build her own house. When she takes the role, she moves into the existing spirit houses, which can be up to a 15-minute walk from the village center.  There are three total: one for Spirit-talker to live in, one for the ending of full-belly, and one for the expulsion of particularly stubborn or dangerous spirits.  If the village has more than one Spirit-talker they share the same living quarters rather than build another house.


When the candidate passes the tests, she is initiated in a private ceremony by the current Spirit-talker.  If she is a girl, her woman name is revealed to her at this time.  If she becomes a woman later, she does not have her own woman ceremony.


Spirit-talker protects the well-being of the community as a whole.  When someone is inhabited by a spirit they want to get rid of, she performs the necessary rituals.  Her most secret duty, which only Woman Woman knows about and could command her to do, is to kill anyone--boy, girl, or even woman--who poses a threat to the safety of the village.


Spirit-talker gathers ingredients and makes the recipes and talismans that attract certain spirits and repel or dispel others. She also prepares the ceremonial drink for the village's monthly greeting to the full moon.


Spirit-talker is well supported by gifts of food and tools from the other women. She also enjoys a greater personal freedom than other adults. There is no one else who can speak as an equal to Woman Woman.


The price of a Spirit-talker's power and respect is the near-isolation in which she lives. Her work requires the use of many plants that are not allowed to grow within the village's forage area. So that she can find them easily, she lives at the edge of the wild forest, with the midden trench as a defensive barrier against wildlife. It is such a dangerous place to live that if she gives birth, the baby must live in Woman Woman's house as an orphan.

View from the future

In one sense the role of Spirit-talker still exists in the modern Ocean and Vastland, because there are always people committed to healing. However, with the decline of lunar worship, the mysticism has faded from the practice of medicine.

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