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Vinga RQ3 cult: Mythos and History


(This is, of course, the mythos as it is known in the 1600s: and, therefore, the mythos as it has always been, just as the present Yelmalio mythos is the same as it has always been).

Vinga is the daughter of Orlanth and Ernalda, and is close to all her brothers and sisters. She grew up in the Gods War, a time of strife, and this shows in her nature: ever ready to protect the weaker members of her family. Many of her battles are against chaos, protecting non-combatants, especially women. Her adventures generally show her using speed, courage and wits, rather than strength, and helping others to help themselves is a common theme.

Vinga's only notable action before the Darkness was to turn aside Ragnaglar when he came to Orlanth's stead with his perverted lusts upon him. Far from fearing his mighty weapons, she laughed at him so hard that he slunk away, ashamed, and vented his frustrations upon Thed instead.

Yet when the Lightbringers had left, and the Eternal Ring was formed to guard Orlanth's stead, Vinga was not permitted to take her place with the male warriors.
"How can you fight alongside us?" asked Elmal. "You cannot take your place in the shield-wall, for you do not have the strength to lift a shield!".
Vinga looked at the great shield, and knew that while she might be able to lift it, she could not wield it for long. "I do not need a shield", she said. "They are fit only for those too clumsy to avoid a blow. There is always another way."
"Show us this other way, then", said Elmal. He took down a practise spear and struck at Vinga, but she dodged to the right and avoided the blow. Elmal muttered under his breath and tried again, but Vinga dodged to the left, so she was on his vulnerable unshielded side. Once more Elmal tried to hit Vinga, and this time she dodged right past him and slapped him three times on the rear with the flat of her dagger. Trying to turn round and face her, Elmal tripped over the discarded shield and fell on his face.
"Now", said Vinga, "why can I not be a warrior?"

Staunch Heler stepped forward, Heler who brings the rain that brings life. "Because you are a woman, Vinga, and are precious to us", he said. "You can bear sons, who will grow up to be warriors. Better to have many more warriors in the future than one more now."
Vinga thought on this, for she wanted above all to help her clan. She thought of the children already in the stead, who cried with hunger because Chaos had taken the harvest. And she thought of her cousin, Babeester Gor, who had renounced her fertility forever to gain the power of Death.
"I will speak with my mother on this", she said.
Vinga went to her mother Ernalda, who understood the ways of childbirth better than any other. "Mother", she said. "I do not wish to bring children into the world while the darkness is still upon us. Is there a way?"
Ernalda considered her daughter, and considered what she might do if not given this secret. "There is always a way", she said. And she showed Vinga the secrets of the camphire plant, which Uleria uses to dye the soles of her feet red, and which Ernalda uses to help nourish her children.
"Use this", she said, "but on your head, not your feet. For a year it will protect you, and you will have no children."
Vinga thanked her mother, and used the camphire to dye her hair as red as the sunset. The forces of Ragnaglar saw the fire of her hair beyond the palisade and, knowing that they could not harm her, snarled in impotent fury.
"When there is peace", said Vinga, "I will perhaps consider children. But not until then."

Her brother Barntar came to her then. "Truly, Vinga", he said, "you are a good fighter, as good as any here. But the rest of our warriors are men. They have been taught from childhood to protect women, even at the risk of their own lives. If you fight alongside them, they will fear for you, and will fight less well in their efforts to protect you."
"And do they not fear for you also, brother?" Vinga asked.
Barntar blushed and said nothing, for he knew that it was true.
Vinga looked out over the palisade at where the forces of Chaos were driving the men back towards the stead.
"Let us see if this is true", she said. And she drew her sword and leapt down into the fight. "Follow me!", she cried, and ran forwards into the enemy lines. And the men of Orlanth's stead took heart from her courage and followed her, and the creatures of Chaos fell back before them and fled.
"Now", said Vinga, "why can I not be a warrior?"
Elmal tried to protest, but his voice was drowned in the noise of the warriors cheering Vinga. And from then on Vinga fought alongside the rest of the warriors, and taught the women of Orlanth's stead to fight, too, each in their own way.

As is told elsewhere, Vinga and Elmal became good friends later on. Vinga helped Elmal at the Hill of Gold, and after that, though he still feared for her safety, he did not try to prevent her from fighting Chaos. Indeed, when Vinga asked him for the use of the Horse that she might reach the enemy more quickly, he did not deny it to her. Some say that he hoped it would bear her from battle even more quickly than it took her to it, others say that he would not trust the care of his beautiful wife to any of the male warriors. Vinga does not comment on the matter.

Most Orlanthi goddesses are non-violent in nature, and many of Vinga's stories are about how she encourages them to use their gifts to defend the group as a whole. (The same stories within those other cults may be rather different!)

Vinga fought Chaos throughout the Darkness, and was there at the Dawn to welcome her parents back to the world.

She is known to have fought at Castle Blue, at one point facing the Red Goddess alone and forcing her back for a time, though she was injured herself in doing so.


The cult of Vinga has never been large, but becomes popular whenever Orlanthi women have to fight to defend themselves or their homes and families. Perhaps because this only happens in times of deep trouble, the cult is associated with last-ditch battles and pulling victory from the jaws of defeat. It has a stronger following in Sartar and Heortland than in more scattered areas of the Barbarian Belt, and is particularly popular in Pavis. The cult history mirrors that of Orlanth, though on a smaller scale. Some scholars have suggested that the cult only came into being in the second Age, but since Heort himself was the son of a Vingan, this is clearly not the case. The cult history in the first and second ages is certainly confusing, made worse by references to some groups of warrior-women as Vingans when their use of star powers make it quite clear that they are in fact Yelornans (a totally different cult), despite their being part of an Orlanthi society. It seems likely that in fact the cult started in several places and merged at a later date: at one point it seems to have been a warrior school rather than a cult as such, and at least one of the heroines whose deeds were attributed to Vinga the goddess seems to have become a warrior to avenge her husband. Any Daughter of Vinga, if asked, will of course deny most of this.
Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998 Jane Williams
Most recent revision April 1998