As wrenching as it is for a mother to let go of her daughter, mandatory education in Evlantis begins for every girl the day after her seventh birthday celebration. The only exception is for children who are diagnosed with disabilities. Those children are allowed to stay at home. It is regarded as too cruel to separate those children from their mothers, and as well as too much of a challenge for mothers to trust others with the duties required to care for their special little one.
It is one of the sacred duties of the priestesses to educate the precious daughters of the Queendom. To be a teacher is one of the most prestigious jobs there is. Though Priestesses take vows of celibacy and cannot be mothers themselves, the status of Teacher confers all the benefits that becoming a mother bestows.
There are many buildings of education housed in the Religion Sector, including the Great Library. In their early years of education, young girls are taught reading, writing, herstory, and etiquette. In their middle years they are taught literature, science, advanced herstory and everything about birth and childcare. In the final years of education they concentrate on city government and sector life. All students are taught the basics of the specialties of each sector, then complete apprenticeships in each of the six sectors to help them choose which one to apply to at age fifteen when their mandatory education is complete.
Education in the Religion Sector can continue beyond age fifteen in for some women. Physicians can take courses to increase their understanding of disease and treatments. There are advanced degrees offered in the Religion sector for farmers, journalists, and those who care for animals. There are also classes offered for the residents of the Religion Sector for those who wish to rise in the hierarchy of the ranks of the Priestesses as well as for those who wish to become Teachers.
There are highly specialized courses of advanced education for women who wish to excel in the fields of government, the arts, fashion, or the military also. Those advanced degrees must be earned, respectively, in the Government sector, the Arts sector, the Livestock sector and the Soldier sector. To better oneself by getting a higher education is valued in the Queendom of Evlantis.
Time is regarded as an element in the Queendom of Evlantis-along with other elements such as earth, air, fire, and water. The element of time has the property of transvelocity. Women recognize that time is not constant. The exact same increment of the sun’s journey through the sky may contain an overabundance of time for one woman, while for another woman the exact same increment may have the blink of an eye of time in it.
Transvelocity of time is ever shifting throughout each woman’s lifetime, and is unique to each woman. Though it has been noted there are exceptions. For example, at shared events transvelocity of time will synchronize, it speeds up or slows down at the same rate for the majority of the women present. There are several theories to explain this. One popular theory posits that there are some women that have an innate and powerful bond with the element of time (just there are those that have an innate and powerful bond with fire, wind, water, or earth) and that these women’s rate transvelocity may be transmitted to others around them at gatherings.
Just as time is not constant from woman to woman, time is regarded differently in each sector of the Queendom. The differences are so vast that it is one of the biggest adjustments to make if a woman must move to a new sector at sector choosing time. Here is a brief synopsis of how the element of time is regarded in each sector of the city.
Women of the Government sector regard the element of time as something to master. They maintain that no matter what rate of transvelocity a woman experiences there are always methods to increase productivity. Most of the research and writings about the element of time come from this sector.
Women of the Agriculture sector regard the element of time as an enemy, something to rage against. The Agriculture sector is home to farm women and the Queendom’s physicians. For these women, who are responsible for the health and well being of women in the entire Queendom, the element of time is always stingy with what is doled out to them to them to accomplish their tasks.
Women in the Religion sector see time as a sacred mystery. The priestesses would never blaspheme to say that any woman can control time, but they teach that certain goddesses, such as Fortuna, have powers over the element of time. The Priestesses believe there are practices, such as meditation, gift-giving, and prayers that may sometimes be effective to influence fickle Fortuna to adjust transvelocity in a woman’s favor.
The women of the Arts Sector have an utter disregard for the element of time. For these women creativity is everything. It is irrelevant at what rate time passes, all that matters is the current piece of art being produced. The only time a woman of the Arts sector mentions time at all is when it hangs heavy on her hands because the well of her inspiration has gone dry.
The women of the Livestock sector revere the element of time as a gift. They are charged with the nurturing of animal life and women of this Sector are acutely and constantly aware of the finite amount of time allotted to each living being. There are grateful for all states of time transvelocity.
The women of the Soldier Sector view the element of time as a tool. Rather than trying to be time’s master, they are taught to be acutely aware of their own transvelocity of time. They recognize each rate of transvelocity carries its own benefits and challenges. Being aware of their current state gives them the power to be the best soldier they can be.
Lastly, no quick tutorial of the element of time in the Queendom of Evlantis would be complete without a mention of how women mark time. It is referenced by events such as the place of the sun in the sky, an upcoming meal, or the birth of a daughter. Years are referenced not by numbers, but by which High Queen ruled, the term (if there was more than one) and which of the seven years the event occurred in.
In the city of Evlantis the government is a democracy; ruled by women, for women. The city is a rough semi-circle and is divided into six wedge shaped sectors: Government, Agriculture, Religion, Arts, Livestock and Soldier sector. Each of the sectors is allowed to have complete control over function and the number of elected officials it requires to serve the needs of its citizens, though each sector must have a Low Queen to oversee the interests of its government and sit as a voting member in all things effecting the entire Queendom.
An elected High Queen resides in the People’s Palace, situated where all the sectors meet. She presides as the judge in the People’s Court, as well as coordinates citywide law-making with the low Queens. The High Queen is charged with keeping peace between the sectors.
Election Day is held at the beginning of summer every year. Each Low Queen, as well as the High Queen, serves a seven-year term. Each year there are general elections in each sector for open offices and one major election for either a Low Queen or the High Queen. Election Day is a solemn day marked by prayer and fasting.
Who votes in Evlantis: Voting is mandatory for every woman living in the city proper who has begun their menses, no matter what their status or legal standing. Each sector’s population is maintained as close to one-thousand citizens as possible. Each ballot is counted and the total number of ballots received must equal the amount of women eligible to vote in each sector.
Who doesn’t vote: Men are not allowed to vote. Women who live in the Fringe are not allowed to vote. The Fringe is a settlement on the outskirts of the agriculture sector. Women are sent there as punishment for certain crimes. The women who live in the Fringe have two purposes: they must tend the vast gardens alongside the slaves and they must guard that most vulnerable border of the city to keep slaves from escaping. Though the women in the Fringe provide valuable services to the city, they would never be allowed to vote because that would give the Agriculture sector an unfair advantage in elections for High Queen.
Who covers the Elections: Just as running water was invented long before the wheel in the world where women rule, printing presses were invented very early in the Herstory Timeline. Each major gossip parlor has its own printing press. Who’s running and what the candidates stand for, along with all the juicy tidbits of personal information fit-to-print is covered by all the major papers for weeks leading up to the election.
Each sector has its own ballot system. Each sector assigns its most trusted citizens to stand guard at the polling place that each woman must make her way to during the day to cast their vote. Along side the appointed sector officials, a dozen soldiers from the Soldier sector are assigned to stand guard also. At sundown the voting ends. The ballots are ceremoniously paraded to the Hall of the People’s Palace where the work of counting the ballots begins, scrupulously overseen by citizens of both the Soldier sector and the Government sector. The results are eagerly anticipated by the candidates and citizens alike.
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?
Babies triumph over ballots!
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…
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: 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: Maturity – Marked by the Cessation of Menses
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.
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.
There is no higher calling in the Queendom than to become a mother. At the same time that it is the most rewarding and joyous of a woman’s existence, motherhood is the stage of greatest responsibility marked by days of self-denial. The “I want” and “I need” inherent in the first two stages of a woman’s life are transformed into “I must” and “she needs” as the mother’s desires become eclipsed by the many necessities of child rearing.
Expressions about Motherhood commonly used during the Evlantian period of Herstory
In thee household let thy daughter be a Princess, but never forget! Thou art the Queen. (Ancient saying attributed to Mother Eve)
Keep in mind that the Daughter that vexes you may someday be your Queen. (Sapheera of the Arts-mother of Sephora)
Every day in Evlantis is Daughter’s Day. (High Queen Rachel, the year her womb-born daughter Rebekkah survived the plague)
It is never too early to celebrate Mother’s Day. (Low Queen Sephora of the Arts Sector)
Some people have “the one that got away” packed into their emotional baggage. I have “the one that ran away.”
I met him in community college in the fall of 1981 after I got kicked out of Bible College. His name was Sam. He had blue eyes and dark hair; he was brilliant, charismatic, and witty. He was the president of the Christian association on campus and every girl I knew wanted to get his attention. I never thought I had a chance with him, but I liked him so much that I didn’t want to give up without trying.
I thought long and hard about how to stand out among the competition. Finally, I sat down at my typewriter and crafted an “Application to Be Your Girlfriend.” I switched to handwriting and filled it out. I left it in his campus mailbox.
Days later he called and asked me out. In many ways we were perfectly suited for each other. Three months into our relationship he sat me down and told me about the one way we were not compatible.
He said he was gay. He told me he hadn’t expected to feel the way he did about me. He asked what I wanted to do about his revelation and our dating.
Quite frankly, Sam was an awesome relationship for me. I preferred not to have a sexual relationship at that time. And the pros of dating Sam outweighed the absence of a physical relationship. His adventurous streak made every day exciting. His insights helped me grow. His companionship was beyond satisfying. Him being gay, while a shock, was not something I had a problem with.
We dated for a few years before the end came. He was open and honest with me about what it was like to be gay in a culture that would not accept him for it. I accepted that he expressed his sexuality without me, and while, because we were close, he shared somewhat, he was very discrete. We even talked openly about men he (and I) were at attracted to. But Sam had intensity that, when it was focused on me, made me feel like I was number one with him. Ours was one of the best relationships of my life. Why he ran away was horrible and heartbreaking. It happened with rare fights between us, a series of conversations that always went something like this:
Sam: “Julie, I want to be able to take our relationship further and to be able to offer you a family some day. I found a program that will turn gay men straight.”
Me: “Sam, you’re gay and that’s okay with me. If you want to have a family we will figure it out when the time is right. We could adopt. Please, don’t leave me! You’ll never come back!”
Sam: “I will come back! I’m doing this for you!”
Me: “You are not doing this for me, because I don’t want you to change! I love you the way you are! And if you go, you will never come back! I know it! Please, don’t go!”
I lost that fight, and just as I had known I would, I lost Sam forever. What happened at the place he went, the quest he undertook, would have been his story to tell.
Our relationship, thankfully, wasn’t exactly over. I lost my Sam, but I gained Guy. During his experiences at the program he went to, he embraced his sexual identity, came out, and from then on preferred to be called by his middle name. We kept in touch on an off through the years, though our lives were very different; while I was putting diapers on my babies, he was wrapping naked men up in saran wrap at parties.
Over the last decade we had become close again. We would get together about once a year, and we would chat by phone in between visits. Last year he told me he still had the application to be his girlfriend. He asked me, more than once, to move to Georgia to live with him. He let me know that the relationship we had had been as significant to him as it was to me.
This year I had planned to go see him in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend to attend Dragon Con together. He was so excited he sent me last year’s program and would call to talk frequently about my trip. Neither of had any inkling he’d be going on a much different journey.
Guy was hospitalized June 1, 2018. The reports of his progress varied a great deal, some days he improved, some days he had set backs. But the set backs increased and on June 27th I received the call that he had, once again, left me.
I grieved hard for weeks. Then one day I realized it’s not myself I should feel sorry for. Sam/Guy had left me before, and I had learned how to get by without him. Now my heart grieves for those who loved him who have never lost him before. His close friends, his neighbors, his family. It is a big adjustment to live without the benefit of his wit, his intense passion for social justice, and his magnetic charisma.
Just like before, Sam/Guy has travelled on without me. I am wiser now. I have hope that one day we will betogether again.
He impacted my life, and he impacted the world my books take place in. Here are three ways that early and awesome relationship influenced the world where women rule.
When he was Sam, he encouraged me to write. He read all my stories and even remembered them better than I do. Guy also encouraged me, and this year he gave me the constructive criticism I needed to fine tune a chapter in book three.
The experience of watching Sam live a lie about who he was in a culture that would not accept him with open arms had a lasting impact on me. It is why, in the alternate earth where women rule, that love between women and men is forbidden. Women partner (and unpartner) with women romantically. Pregnancies are scheduled for population stability by the Quickening Committee. For fun, I thought heterosexuals should have to experience the world I had to watch Same live in.
Sam/Guy was my inspiration for a character in books one and two. One of my favorite characters, Octovin, is brilliant, charismatic, opportunistic, and gay. And like Sam/Guy did, Octovin flirts with a lot of gray areas in the civilization he lives in.