Friday, April 19, 2013

Changeling Autumn Court Festivals

The festival days listed below are for the Changeling: the Lost genre set in London.  You can read more about the overall campaign (which ironically enough is from a campaign involving a vampire) over here.  Beneath the entry for each festival are some superstitions associated with these dates as, after all, deal with the Wyrd long enough and you start to realise that superstitions can be more real than you would like.  The Autumn Court are more aware of this than most and don't actively destroy superstitions unless they are known to be both blatantly untrue and harmful to follow.  At the very end of this article, I include links to other people's festivals and ceremonies for this genre.

Autumn Equniox (varies between the 21st - 23rd September)
This is the big festival of the year held by the London Autumn Court and is the day when the different Autumn courts around London and the Greater Metropolitan area hold a massive gathering where occult truths and myths are mixed upon the stage in specially decorated theatres with an impressive number of performances designed to frighten and inform.  There are also a number of static art shows, such as wax figures, and demonstrations of new tokens and hedgespun equipment and automata.  There are also often informative presentations on subjects as diverse as hedge fruit farming techniques and foreign cultures.  Changelings of all courts who belong to established Freeholds and ensorcelled humans attached to known Changelings are invited.  Each Autumn Court monarch may invite an additional three individuals to the festivities who do not fit these parameters.  No Changeling may leave the Autumn Festival Grounds directly into the Hedge nor range within 500 yards of it for fear of drawing hobgobling or Fae attention.

Superstitions: To mention individual Gentry at all, even through metaphor, will call them to the event as large gatherings of Changelings are noticeable enough without such comments.  The Autumn Equinox festival must be held in part on Earth with the majority of the Lost at any one time being in the Earth portion as to do otherwise will court attention.  Seven saucers of milk must be left about the Hedge and replaced daily for three days before the festival lest mischief makers crash the festivities.  If one breaks glass within a room, it must be immediately vacated and sealed for the rest of the festival.  If one breaks a mirror, the festival must end and all must leave.

Samhain (31st October)
Samhain has been seen as a time when the "door" to the Underworld opened enough for the souls of the dead, and other beings, to come into our world.  In its early years, this was a day of  myth making about foreign monsters, placating the dead, feasting, and making votive offerings for those left behind in Arcadia.  Since the 1880s it was co-opted as the night when the Autumn Court renewed its vows with the Ordo Dracul coterie detailed here and where business deals would be made with such Kindred.  The Kindred are invited into a particular Hollow called the Sepulchral Amphipheatre through a particular door and are ushered through a long corridor by an Autumn Court knight.  The deals made here with the Kindred aren't backed by pledges as the Kindred already have their maximum number of three pledges laid upon them.  There is an official statement from Joy Tyler and a representative of the Autumn Monarch (who never attends this event in person).  There are certain chambers in the Sepulchral Amphitheatre where Changelings kneel singly, in pairs, or in motleys, to light a candle or some incense to lost lives of all sorts.  The Kindred are not welcome in this.

Superstitions: It is a time when pledges can be accidentally made so one must use inconclusive language when bartering for goods or services until the deal is struck or else the Wyrd might make your comments binding.  One must avoid entering the Hedge on this day unless passing directly into a Hollow as the Hedge is said to thin and the True Fae are thought to hunt and weave their stories on this day.  If it is necessary to venture into the Hedge, one must carry a flaming torch or else will-o-the-wisps will arrive to lead you astray and onto the path of a Keeper.  While it is safer to walk upon the Earth, if leaving your home at night, keep to the light and make it quick.  If forced to walk in the darkness, turn your clothing inside-out and carry salt to keep the fairies at bay (few believe it works, yet most still follow it just in case).

Day of the Innocents (1st November)
This day, to the Mexicans, had as its focus the honoring of children and infants but in its transfer to the London changelings it came to mean the profound loss of innocence felt by changelings.  The Winter Court collude with the Autumn Court to set up reminders of all that has been lost and the Changelings of the Azure Freehold visit symbolic altars that match what they have personally lost and make an offering or other sign of acknowledgement to them.  For those who wish to maintain their privacy in loss, they will visit each altar in turn but their heart will only be sincere at the ones that matter.  Such altars might be to lost friends, lost youth, lost love, lost homes, lost safety, lost warmth, and lost ability to trust, among other things.  That night the Kindred will be allowed to visit the Sepulchral Amphipheatre for two hours to conclude any deals made the night before.  During this time, select myth making performances from the Autumn Equinox will be performed to impress the Kindred.  A feast is provided with the assistance of the Spring Court, with ample alcohol, and the night swiftly moves into a raucuous wake for what has been lost.  This is also the day of telling scary stories of loss and devastation as warnings of what might happen.  The celebrations end at dawn.

Superstitions: If you see your face reflected, you must spit over your shoulder, lest you lose something else into the mirror.  Avoid the laughter of innocent children for the comparison between their purity and your miserable losses will mark you and the child out to the Gentry.  Other than that, general laughter and loud noises are good because it will confuse the Others and keep you safe.  Being drunk on this night, or even high on life, will bring you good luck for the following year.  Feeling fear touch your heart this night will bring you omens when danger approaches and thus help you get out of the way.

Day of the Dead (2nd November)
The celebrations begin at dusk, allowing the Changelings to sleep away the day.  This day has as its focus the gathering of family and friends to pray for and remember deceased or Taken friends and family members.  Again, the Winter Court collude with the Autumn Court but on this day it is the Icebound Lake (a hollow) which houses the occasion.  One can whisper the names of those Take or dead into the well in the middle of the lake and it will cause those names to etch onto the walls themselves.  No distinction is made between the Taken and the dead.  Some will use metaphors or nicknames rather than true names, though this isn't as common as one might think as there are thousands of names etched upon the icy walls and thus anonymity.  Besides, the Changelings find some comfort in knowing that their loved ones have achieved some form of immortality, if only in name.  This is a quiet and sedate day with voices barely raised above a whisper.  It is customary to sit and contemplate the icy wall of names and confront your own fears or death and loss, allowing yourself to soak in the fear.  Food is provided but it is all quite bland and ordinary.  At midnight, the Changelings leave in silence to their own homes and often private parties hosted by the Spring Court to cheer people up after such a morose session.  Some will hold meals, or even banquets, for the dearly departed at this time.

Superstitions: You won't be haunted by the dead if their true name is etched onto the wall.  Do not touch another Changeling lest you lose what they have lost.  Hugging a mortal human is good luck.  Feeding a child is good luck.

Changeling Ceremonies
This article over on the Age of Ravens blog goes over several different ceremonies that might be in place in a given Changeling society.  It's well worth a look.

If you liked this article and would like to track down more, it comes from a post gathering up all articles inspired by a particular campaign.  See the index over here.

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