Dear Harmonia

Dear Harmonia,

I have always been a law abiding citizen and have done my duty to the fullest letter of the law. Through no fault of my own, my only daughter was born on Election Day last year. It doesn’t seem fair to me that the same government that required me to have a daughter, now forbids me from celebrating on her actual birthday! Surely the birth celebration of a daughter of the Queendom is more important than Election Day? I challenged the party ban on Election Day at my local level and lost. Before I take my challenge further, my friends urged me to consult with you. Do you have any advice on how I can prevail? Perhaps, in your wisdom, you know of cases like mine in Herstory?

Sincerely yours,
Babies triumph over ballots!

Dear BTOB,

Sit down, before you read this, sweet mother. Sit down with your precious baby on your knee and your favorite soothing drink on hand…for the words I must pen are difficult ones, and I am moved by your plight.

Nothing should come before the blessed celebration of the birth of one’s daughter. Daughters are the lifeblood of the city. The birth of a child changes everything. Before the birth, we are one person, with one outlook. After the birth we transformed, and like all transformations, bliss and pain are mingled in the changing.

But, dear Mother BTOB, consider this…just as motherhood ushers in different priorities than singlehood, doesn’t one’s duty to the Queendom grow even greater once a daughter is born? The success, or failure, of the city we live in decides your daughter’s future!

Voting may seem like an occasional duty, but I think you forget, it is a Sacred Duty! Nothing should distract any woman from the ability to cast her vote for the best candidate for leadership positions in the Queendom. Voting should not be entered into lightheartedly, or haphazardly, which is why Ballot Casting Day is a day of prayer and fasting, a solemn day, a day of change, of new birth, in a way, for the entire Queendom.

So, with anguish in my heart for your horrible predicament, I urge you to drop your petition to have the party ban lifted. I urge you to celebrate the your daughter’s birth the day before or the day after Election Day. In doing so, you teach her, and everyone around you, of your devotion to her future and the future all every citizen of our Queendom.

I don’t mind telling you that I weep for you as I write this. Yours is a tragic situation, a rarity in Herstory. Putting the needs of the world before yourself, and worse, your daughter, is part of the transformational pain I spoke of above. I urge you to let this tragedy change you! Make more scrupulous selections this election year than you have ever done before. Examine the issues and the candidates in great depth. Vote well, and be mindful that you are not only casting a vote for yourself any longer, but for your daughter and your daughter’s daughters. And don’t make the mistake of voting based on the issues of your Sector only. Examine how every issue effects our entire population. We usher in new eras in Herstory with the votes we cast. The only bright spot in your plight is that each Election Day you will be reminded of the direct link between the ballots you fill out and the Queendom your daughter will grow up in. Not every citizen will vote with the wisdom that you now have.

I’m sorry to be so inadequate in this situation. I know this is not the answer you wanted to read, and it is not the answer I wanted to give. But it is the correct answer. I cannot see the paper anymore for the weeping I do on your behalf, for truly, and for the sake of the Queendom…

Ballots must triumph over babies,
Harmonia

Procreation in Evlantis: The Quickening Chambers

My very rough sketch of the building known in Evlantis as the Quickening Chambers.

To ensure that the resources of the city will keep the occupants fed and clothed, the population of Evlantis is strictly controlled by the Quickening Committee. Pregnancies are planned in advance based on deaths in each sector in the preceding year. A special committee maintains genealogical records and schedules quickening appointments. The quickening season begins as Harvest Festival ends, with a grand procession of mothers and mothers-to-be on the first night of quickening appointments. 

The events below happened during book two, Sephora’s Revenge, but were cut long before the final edit of the book. The year Sephora laid siege to the city, she re-appropriated quickening assignments to favor those who were loyal to her. This “lost” passage joins the procession to the Quickening Chambers at the close of the Harvest Festival:

Andria had misgivings. Though she lived in the Government Sector, which had remained loyal to Sephora, her true sympathies were with Rachel and the proponents of equality for men. Her daughter had been misused by the High Queen for her own gain. She had tried to talk her daughter out of the quickening rite, but her daughter would not listen. As badly as she wanted to be a grandmother, she wished that her grandchild’s conception would be under different circumstances.

I must take my mind off my worries, thought Andria as they marched toward the sprawling, ancient one-story building in the market section of the Religion Sector. Legend said Mother Eve herself designed the twenty-four room structure. Three main corridors ran the length of the building east to west, while five shorter corridors ran north and south. The four largest rooms measured ten by twelve feet. The smallest rooms were ten by six feet, barely large enough to contain much more than a bed. When the city had been abandoned and the building ravaged by storms and natural decay, much of the rebuilding had been done according to the original design. The building that housed the quickening chambers was one of the few structures re-built upon its original foundation and specifications.

Andria focused her attention on the two mothers in front of her who were gossiping as they walked in the joyful procession from the Palace Hall to the quickening chambers.

“Suffrage, the Goddess of the Poor, has blessed us mightily, I tell you, Berty!” one woman said to her friend.

“You can say that again, and again, Shanice!” Berty laughed. “Pinch me so I know I’m not dreaming. I don’t need to tell you my poor daughter has been passed over for the last six years. I gave up hope of ever being a grandmother.”

“Me, too! Our lines will not die with us, my friend! All this time we comforted each other that there is a special section of the afterlife for the poor. Who would have thought the recent upset in the Queendom would have changed our fortune for the better? As early as tomorrow morning both our precious daughters’ wombs may be carrying the granddaughters of our legacy! This is a joyous night indeed! What a Festival it has been!”

“A short Festival. Are you worried about men being free?”

“Not one bit. There are six thousand women in the city, and only a thousand or so men. High Queen Sephora will set things right again. Why? Are you worried?”

“Not me! My only beloved daughter has her first quickening assignment tonight! I might become a grandmother!”

“Both of our beloved daughters! It is too bad they were assigned the smallest chambers. I got to peek into a royal chamber once on my walk to the third tier. You can’t imagine the wonders in those rooms! Mirrors, furs, jars of precious oils and ointments, flowers, a washtub, shelves full of pleasure toys. I swear to you I saw a costume hanging on the wall.”

“What was the costume for, do you suppose?” asked Berty.

“Oh, it was the definitely the costume worn by Randy, the slave who ended the infant shortage in the play Fertility.”

“No! The boots, cape, and mask?”

“Yes! I swear it on my mother’s and my daughter’s life! Can you imagine? I’d jump into a quickening bed faster than you can say ‘baby’ with any man dressed as Randy.”

“Me too! Oh, remember the glories of those days? The endless nights of mixed pain and pleasure, and the thrill we experienced when we missed our periods?”

“I do. Walking in this procession makes me relive it all again.”

Both women sighed and spent the rest of the joyous procession in silence, lost in pleasant memories and high hopes for their future.

Without the distraction of the conversation in front of her, Andria’s concern for the future of the city of Evlantis took over all her thoughts. She could see no good outcome from allowing only Sephora’s supporters to populate the city. Andria, feeling very guilty as she walked with all the hopeful grandmothers-to-be, prayed to every goddess she could think of for an intercession that would prevent pregnancies this night.

Stage Six: Reverse Childhood

Stage Six: When the Daughter must care for the Mother

The goddesses have deemed that if old age is granted to a woman, the descent to the land of the dead is preceded by childhood in reverse. If a woman lives long enough, she becomes like a child, then like an infant, needing constant care. It is a blessing and a privilege to care for the old ones, for they are near to the gates of the goddesses. It is said that those who enter the land of the dead as babies, helpless but well cared for, are counted as jewels to the goddesses who receive the dead. The daughter that treats her mother well will receive their reward when their time to enter the land of the dead comes.

Stage Five of a Woman’s Life: Maturity

Stage Five: Maturity – Marked by the Cessation of Menses

Photo by Rene Asmussen from Pexels

These years are some of the happiest in an Evlantian woman’s life. This stage is heralded by the advent of eagles’ claws around the eyes and joy lines around the lips. If the goddesses have blessed her she will be honored and beloved by daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters. The cessation of menses is known to bring clarity of thought not enjoyed since childhood. But, unlike childhood, she now possesses the gifts of knowledge and wisdom gained from a lifetime of experience. Mature women are a treasure to the city.

Stage Four of a Woman’s Life: Age of Opportunity

The Age of Opportunity in Evlantis corresponds loosely with our “empty nest” stage.

Stage Four: Age of Opportunity

After the Daughter Leaves Home until a Woman Reaches the Age of Maturity

Days of discovering purpose: If one has not been blessed by the goddesses to bear a daughter, a good citizen of Evlantis moves directly to this stage and must reconcile her talents to the needs of the Queendom. Mothers move to this stage directly upon completing the tasks of motherhood. This is a particularly difficult task for a mother to take on, especially after the joys of motherhood. Every other purpose in life pales in comparison to raising a daughter. Every support is made available to a mother whose daughter has left the home hearth to establish her own home. The Queendom is rich in resources to help her find her way to a life of purpose and meaning after giving of her life and self to ensure the Queendom’s legacy continues through the daughter she raised.