You're grounded! Document in The River | World Anvil
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You're grounded!

Heads up: this article discusses infant abandonment. Proceed with caution.

A penalty oath is a kind of oath plate that a village's Woman Woman uses to enforce a punishment on a girl or woman.  Such oaths are normally kept between Woman Woman and the penalized woman, but in certain circumstances the conditions of the oath must be made known to the public, such as those surrounding the punishment of a woman named Prickle Seed who unknowingly exposed a dangerous secret.

Historical Details


The crime that Prickle Seed committed was going into the wild forest with late-stage full-belly, staying several days, and coming back carrying a baby and assisted by three boys no one had ever seen before.  Strong Blood recognized that the boys must have come from a girl's trash birth and somehow survived being left in the midden trench as newborns, a practice that was supposed to be a secret guarded by a group of cultural defenders that Prickle Seed was not a member of.   To protect the secret, Woman Woman spread a story that the boys were bodies without life spirits, and prepared the penalty oath to punish Prickle Seed for bringing dangerous spirits into the village.


"From now to the end of your life, Prickle Seed, when there is no house in your sight, you must be in a woman's sight." Woman Woman snapped the plate in half and threw one of the pieces to the ground. "You may not leave these houses alone any more, Prickle Seed. That is the oath."
By making the penalty oath public, Woman Woman hoped to humiliate Prickle Seed into obedience as well as inform all the women that she was not to be allowed away from the village unsupervised.   The two halves of the oath were also displayed publicly, one staked to the ground in front of Prickle Seed's house and the other placed in Woman Woman's meeting house where it could be seen by everyone who came to speak with her.

View from the future

The oath plate remained on display in front of Prickle Seed's house until her house was torn down.  By then Moon Wish was Woman Woman, and burned the oath plate as fulfilled by Prickle Seed's death.

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