So where did this marrying the land business come from?
Originally it came from Ireland. Back in the Early days, the Irish Kings would marry the land as a symbol to their lordship. You couldn’t be a King over any one of Ireland’s regions if you hadn’t married the land.
Sacral High Kings
Early Irish kingship was sacral in character. In the early narrative literature a king is a king because he marries the sovereignty goddess, is free from blemish, enforces symbolic buada (prerogatives) and avoids symbolic geasa (taboos).
According to 7th and 8th century law tracts, a hierarchy of kingship and clientship progressed from the rí tuaithe (king of a single petty kingdom) through the ruiri (a rí who was overking of several petty kingdoms) to a rí ruirech (a rí who was a provincial overking). (See Rí.)
Each king ruled directly only within the bounds of his own petty kingdom and was responsible for ensuring good government by exercising fír flaithemon (rulers’ truth). His responsibilities included convening its óenach (popular assembly), collecting taxes, building public works, external relations, defence, emergency legislation, law enforcement, and promulgating legal judgment.
The lands in a petty kingdom were held allodially by various fine (agnatic kingroups) of freemen. The king occupied the apex of a pyramid of clientship within the petty kingdom. This pyramid progressed from the unfree population at its base up to the heads of noble fine held in immediate clientship by the king. Thus the king was drawn from the dominant fine within the cenél (a wider kingroup encompassing the noble fine of the petty kingdom).
The kings of the Ulster Cycle are kings in this sacred sense, but it is clear that the old concept of kingship coexisted alongside Christianity for several generations. Diarmait mac Cerbaill, king of Tara in the middle of the 6th century, may have been the last king to have “married” the land. Diarmait died at the hands of Áed Dub mac Suibni; some accounts from the following century state that he died by the mythic Threefold death appropriate to a sacral king. Adomnán’s Life tells how Saint Columba forecast the same death for Áed Dub. The same Threefold Death is said in a late poem to have befallen Diarmait’s predecessor, Muirchertach macc Ercae, and even the usually reliable Annals of Ulster record Muirchertach’s death by drowning in a vat of wine.
A second sign that sacral kingship did not disappear with the arrival of Christianity is the supposed law-suit between Congal Cáech, king of the Ulaid, and Domnall mac Áedo. Congal was supposedly blinded in one eye by Domnall’s bees, from whence his byname Cáech (half-blind or squinting), this injury rendering him imperfect and unable to remain High King. The enmity between Domnall and Congal can more prosaically be laid at the door of the rivalry between the Uí Néill and the kings of Ulaid, but that a king had to be whole in body appears to have been accepted at this time.
So there you have it. I took this particular idea for SURRENDER from my studies at the Grove of Dana Druid College. I believe I even wrote an essay on the importance of True Kings and the importance of marrying the land.
Because Avristar is both an island and the “female spirit of the land” (which is also from Ireland and my druid studies), it seemed appropriate that the kinfolk leaving Avristar would bind themselves to her before heading to the Lands of Men where they will no doubt face monsters, desolation and poverty.
It’s very similar to the way nuns marry God, or the way monks and priests stay celibate.
On that happy note, have a fantastic Monday!