In one of our recent discussions, Mr E talked about a yearly coming of age festival that takes place in the small town that he lives in while he is working with us. The town, which he calls Lakeside, corresponds geographically in his world to where we live in ours so it makes it easier for him to be available to us when needed. So, although his home country is far away in what would be part of Denmark and Germany, he is nearby for now.
Here is a transcript of our recent conversation about growing up and coming of age as well as some information about who can and can’t become knowledgeable in magic. I have added a couple of short related audios from Mr E at the end. I hope you enjoy this brief window into the elven culture:
Mr E: These locals, (Lakeside people) are different from Fynians. They have a coming of age gathering, where they transition from childhood to manhood or womanhood. There’s a festival every year for a group of children, who have grown up together and reached maturity, to be announced as adults to the rest of their community. It’s not just a birthday party.
NL: It sounds sort of like a “coming out” party that society people often have.
Mr E: Right! After this they are considered adults.
NL: So what is this festival or party like? Do males and females have two different ceremonies or whatever you call it?
Mr E: Yes, they all do it at the same time but the females do it a little differently than the males do.
Males are tested–can you build a fire? Can you use different weaponry–you know, survival skills so they can live on their own. Females have different tests as well but I’m not that familiar with the exact details because men aren’t allowed to attend.
NL: What else are they required to know before they can be considered adults?
Mr E: Well that depends on the family craft. If the family craft is building a house, then they need to know that…
NL: I see, if it’s fishing then they have to know how to do that on their own. So, whatever their means of making a living would be…
Mr E: Right, they have to pass that test as well. And they do these things over a period of a month. It’s big, elaborate.
NL: So, do they also learn something like defensive magic or is that not something everyone learns…
Mr E: Magic is not…I have to come up with the right words to explain…common, or for everyone.
NL: Why is that?
Mr E: Because we don’t want just anyone to have the ability to do this.
NL: Because it’s dangerous? Like giving someone a weapon?
Mr E: Right! It’s like giving anyone down the street a machete. You have to be in the right mindset or else you are going to use it the wrong way and then everybody gets involved. If it gets into the wrong hands, then you have to find a way to confine them, to bind them, you know and it becomes a bigger problem.
NL: But, one thing that concerns me is that this could be a way to keep control of the masses and that wouldn’t be right.
Mr E: They have the right to learn if they want to. If they truly want to learn magic–if their solid goal is to be magical and know these things–then they can follow that path by going to school. However, there is a required, one year preliminary schooling before you can even know any magic whatsoever. There is a weeding out, so to speak.
NL: Can they afford it?
Mr E: The thing is whether or not they can afford the time. For instance, going back to the my favorite example, the bakers–you’ve got a baker husband and wife and they have three baker kids. Now, let’s say that Molly, one of the kids, has decided that she wants to become knowledgeable in magic because it was something she was drawn to–it resonates with her even though she was born into the baker family.
Well, in order for Molly to be able to do this and break away from the bakers and become a magic practitioner, the parents have to be self sufficient enough financially in their bakery to be able to lose her from the business (and from their life) for a very long time.
Family networks are very important and that’s how everyone survives, by working with each other. So, when you’ve got one that just took off, that means the others are going to have to work twice as hard to make up for the one that left. It’s a hardship. So the child’s attendance at the preliminary schooling depends on whether or not the family can handle that hardship.
If the family decides it can afford to be without her, Molly goes off to this school and she won’t see her parents and family for years. It’s a very large separation, they are in another area entirely, like going away to college only worse because you can’t visit back and forth. There’s no way to communicate except for maybe by post. Maybe they get posts every once in a while and they get word sent to and from so that they know everything is okay, but they don’t really get to see each other. It’s this way for the first year for sure. But, if she doesn’t pass the preliminary(first) year, she will be kicked back home and would most likely become a baker again.
The first, preliminary year is when the teachers are deciding “are you okay enough to be this, will this really be okay for you to become an expert in magic?” There’s lots of people making decisions at the school because it is a very sensitive subject. It’s not like becoming a baker, this is much more sensitive because it’s so powerful. It’s not something just anybody can do. Here, in this situation, their personality and their actual being is judged as well. Their moral sense/compass and everything else is being judged, it’s very focused.
NL: Can you tell me a little bit about the school?
Mr E: Well, it’s really not a building, it’s an organization.
NL: Okay, so it could be a small place in a little town, or a bigger place in a bigger town.
Mr E: Yes, they are a network all over the country, all over the world. They are all following the same book (teachings). It’s the same information, they all share it.
NL: So, I guess it’s not like Harry Potter’s Hogworts where they basically have one school.
Mr E: No, it’s as if you took Hogwort’s and exploded it and now you have have a bunch of tiny Hogworts everywhere.
NL: And they all are consistent in the information that they teach?
Mr E: Right, it’s all the same stuff.
NL: So, I guess you have to have at least one teacher in a small town that teaches this?
Mr E: They are part of the network and sometimes they come together for important things and then they go apart. These people can be kind of nomadic and they are following and traveling together and learning.
NL: And they go where they are needed
Mr E: Right, exactly.
Here are a couple of short, related audios from Mr E:
The first one explains why he is fond of using the “bakers” as his example when discussing various things:
The second one talks about learning magic and his schooling experience :