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Created On 20 May 1998
Last Updated On 20 May 1998
Copyright (c) Simon E. Phipp 1998
These are typically Praxian, although there is no reason why they could not be found in Balazar, Pent or any other shamanic culture.
A Sacred Society is an organisation of people who share a common dream or common ideals or even a common heritage. They provide a means for people from many walks of life to band together in a Social Unit other than clan, cult or tribe. Sacred Societies are ritual organisations, bound together by the rituals and artefacts of the Society. They operate almost as a cult, but without a Deity to worship. In fact, many skills and spells are available from Sacred Societies which would not be available normally, simply through member Shamans teaching Spirit magic or skills, or even calling on Spirits to make their Divine Magic available.
Some Societies are secret and can only be joined if the shaman is sought out by the Society's members, often after they have had Visions concerning the Shaman.
Most Societies are found across the Nations of Prax, so there would be White Bull Societies in the Bison, Sable, High Llama, Impala and even the Morokanth Nations. Often, however, the Societies are not recognised as common, especially when Secret. Thus, whereas the Thunder Bird Society is known throughout Prax and members form different nations or tribes may treat fellow members as brothers, after a fashion, members of the secret White Bull Society would have no idea that other Nations would have the White Bull Society. One of the things that Argrath did was to show that the Bison and Sable Nations had members of the White Bull Society and thus allowed them to unite behind the White Bull as friends and not enemies.
Shamans gain entrance to Secret Societies by various methods. The most common method is via a Vision. Those who receive certain Visions have to join certain Secret Societies, for instance Shamans having Visions of the Thunder Bird must join the Thunder Society. Some Shamans become members of Secret Societies by performing a HeroQuest, others are members by birth, still others may gain entry by worshipping a Spirit, in which case the Secret Society will resemble a cult.
Common Secret Societies in Prax and the Wastes include White Bull, Thunder Brothers, Thunder Bird, Sun Hawk, Raven, Sun Dragon, Rolling Serpents, The Red School of Masks, Serpent Dancers, Star Witches, Sunset Society, Wind Singers, Bullocks, Wild Fire and Red Horse Eater Society.
Membership in a Secret Society has several effects. The Shaman will gain certain gifts and geases.For instance, members of the Thunder Bird Society gain the ability to tell when the weather will change and have to dance in the rain when it rains. The Shaman may also interact with Shamans from other nations or even other cultures. This is particularly true of those Societies which cross normal borders such as the Thunder Bird, Wild Fire or Red Horse Eater Societies. Where Waha Shamans interact with those of other cultures there will be hostility and tension which must be overcome. It is difficult for a Waha Shaman to easily deal with an Agimori or Pol Joni Shaman.
The White Bull Society is joined by people after seeing a Vision of the White Bull, a sacred spirit of Prax. This secret society is common across the nations but each tribe does not know that the White Bull is known amongst other nations.
The Thunder Brothers are those who were visited by certain Storm Spirits in dreams or Visions. They are taught how to controlthe Rains and Thunder powers and can wield the powers of Lightning Boy. Popular amongst shamans, this Secret Society is strong near the Storm Hills bordering Prax.
Those who join the Thunder Bird Society must have had a Vision of Thunder Bird. He appears to people and speaks with the voice of thunder, spitting lightning onto the ground. When the shaman digs at the spot where the lightning struck, he finds a flint which will become a Thunder Stone when the shaman joins the Thunder Bird Society. Shamans in the Thunder Bird Society may contact the Thunder Bird and gain its magics. They gain a gift and a geas when they join - members of the Thunder Bird Society gain the ability to tell when the weather will change and have to dance in the rain when it rains.
Members of the Sun Hawk Society generally come from the Unicorn Riders, Ostrich Riders, Pol Joni or Sun Domers. These are the dominant groups of Light Worshippers in Prax. However, many others join the Sun Hawk after seeing a great bird descending from the Sun.This normally happens when the shaman has been without water in the Wastes during Fire Season,when visions come easily. All those in the Sun Hawk Society gain the ability to tell whether somebody is lying and may not cover their heads during daytime. They gain magics of Fire and Truth from the Sun Hawk.
The Raven Society is very secretive and is a Society of thieves and furtive people. All members of the Raven Society dreamed about the raven and were told where to join. They could learn the skills of stealth and theft and were known to be untustworthy and were the first to be accused whenever things were stolen in the clans.
The Sun Dragon Society is only joined by those who have met the Sun Dragon itself. Very few people have met the Dragon in person yet many have met it in dreams. Not all those who have met the Dragon will join this Society, but if they choose to they will not be turned away. Some of the Shamans in this Society gain the ability to fly and breath fire. This is a feared Society and has many members from Old Pavis.
The Rolling Serpents Sacred Society is made up mainly of water cultists with a high number of shamans of Zola Fel, Frog Woman, River Horse or the other water spirits of Prax. People who had been caught in flash floods or who dream of raging waters may aklso join. This society makes available many water magics to its members, many of which would normally be unavailable to many shamans. Some Oasis Spirits can be contacted through this Society and give their own divine magic. The Society is best known for its ability to raise Flash Floods which can devastate camps made in dry serpents,hence its name.
The Red School of Masks
The Red School of Masks was a band os shamans, madmen, and other petty magicians taught by the Lunars when they invaded Prax. The resultant unit was greater than the sum of its parts, and remained a powerful school for many years. Called the Loonies for their strange rites, many who sought to join were driven mad by the experience.
The Serpent Dancers were the most secretive of the magical societies. Their wild rites involved trances, ecstatic fits and week-long dances. Their name came from their habit of meeting in the dry beds of the seasonal rivers,called Serpents by the nomads.
This was a society of powerful women who studied the stars. They had great power, being the most ancient of the magical schools,and attracted disaffected wise women,shamanesses, and priesteses from all tribes.
This school of mages practiced the forbidden magic of the night. They accepted only men,and those touched with nightmares and forbidden desires were eventually drawn to their concealed meetings. Praxian mothers scared children with stories of their evil worship and foul sacrifices, but their dark wisdom came from other, more potent sources.
These magicians were wel-known in Prax and the Wastes, for they alone were able to follow the deadly Storm Bull Winds. They followed the twists and turns of the winds,heard every word carried on a breeze and raised their keening songs whenever the wind rose, died, or changed. They were said to be as unreliable and flighty as the winds they had mastered, however, and so were not fully trusted by the tribes.
The Bullocks are a Secret Society made up of warriors. Its members are made blood brothers and will not fight each other even when they come face to face in a tribal war. Occasionally, the members of the Bullocks will band together and fight for some cause or other as mercenaries. Only a very few shamans join the Bullocks but those who do achieve great fame as warriors.
The Wild Fire Society is the worship of Oakfed amongst the Praxians. It takes in shamans from all tribes, not just those of Waha,and has a particularly strong membership of Agimori. It teaches fire-based magics and allows for the summoning and binding of immense Fire Spirits in Oakfed Medicine Bundles, ready for release in times of battle. The Wild Fire Society also teaches the Purifying Rites which may be peformed to purge places of Chaos and Evil.
Red Horse Eater
This Secret Society was started a few decades ago by a shaman in the north of the Wastes,near the borders of Pent. He was searching for aid against the Pentian horsemen when a many-armed Crimson goddess descended froma Star and taught him many secrets. The Society is open to all who hate horses and teaches how to scare horses, the creation of Balls of Tails, how to infect horses with dieases and how to track horses through the Wastes. It has a small following, mostly along the borders with Pent and the Pol Joni, but is also growing in strength near the newly settled areas. The Lunars are trying, fairly successfully, to keep this Society away from their settled areas.
 Some of these descriptions are taken from the game Nomad Gods.