There’s a line somewhere in Thendara House to the effect of “In order to properly renounce something, you’ve got to understand what it is you’re renouncing.” I’m not sure who says it. I think it’s in the context of Jaelle talking with Cholayna about the first twelve years of her life (Darkovan years; in Earth years it’s 14.4 years, maths at the end, probably wrong).
For all the problems inherent in the Darkover novels, given their author was a child molester married to a child molester and their children suffered, there are things in there that I’m not sure how to process. I don’t want to throw away something that really woke me to the realities of relationships between men and women. I swore the Renunciates’ Oath, which I know I have to substitute with something that applies better to my world and, um, wasn’t authored by Walter Breen. Darkover through the lenses of its rebels is my kind of place: the people of the Forbidden Tower and their reforms, the Renunciates, those people. You could argue Regis/Linnea/Danilo are in their own way rebellious, though so much a part of the fabric of Darkovan society that it’d be difficult to cast them out.
But this is not that post.
This post is about what to keep and what to throw away, and how you go about determining that.
For me, the best way to understand something is to live it. The dead of winter is a fine time to try, with our short dim days and cold weather… and our dead of winter is probably their late autumn/early spring. Welp. I’m going to get opportunities to learn how their women dealt with the outdoors in the winter, since I’ve a good shift, a warm dress, and tunics (though not wool). I have what a Renunciate would call a belt knife (what’s the difference between a sword and a knife? About three inches) and I can wear it everywhere around this house as the only thing it used to do was hang on our wall as a decoration! I will be attempting to sew a suit of new clothes from the skin out, in addition to making repairs and making over what I can. And I will rewrite that Oath, just as I will found something intended to help women find their strength and their justice. The only thing I can’t do is the fantasy aspect, anything to do with laran. I can perhaps look deeper within my spirituality, the aspects of it to do with women. Often have I put it thus: the God aspect of my worship is the Christian God, who perhaps has mellowed since His son came to get to know those pesky humans a little better. Died for us, even. So the magic that happens is the magic of the universe, God-given. I need to reach into the mystical. Especially in the darkest hours, I must explore the light.
And I need to learn everything about the Breendoggle that I can. I have to get it as straight as I can. Who was involved? What are their backgrounds? How did they become involved? Where are they now? And what influence does the nature of the beasts have on the story of Darkover?
Before I turn my back on it, I need to know exactly what to turn against.
I am not doing this for myself alone. I do it for others who face the same questions, have lost more in the asking. I do it for those who wonder why anyone would even touch the work of a child molester. I do it for those who wonder why not. I do it because one of the people who may have touched the horror is a founding mother of the Society I hold dear. If “there’s a crack in everything”, then I must make sure the light gets in.
My logic, with 15 being the age of maturity on Darkover and 18 on Earth:
Earth year = 8760
18 Earth years = 157680 hours
/15 (to represent number of hours in a Darkovan year) = 10512
12 years = 126144
/8760 (to represent equivalent years in Earth reckoning) = 14.4
Per Wikipedia, the year is 15 earth months long, but how many days? Dividing the Darkovan 10512 hours into 28-hour days yields a year of about 375 days — but 438 earth days, which is about what you get if you multiply 29 by 15. So all in all my reasoning is probably good enough, if not perfect.