True Names
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True Names

dedicatedfollower467 13th May 2016, 12:00 AM edit delete
dedicatedfollower467
I’ve wanted to talk about True Names for some time, and since they’ve finally been used in the comic, it’s time to discuss them.

True Names are a notable common thread among the primary religions of the dwarves of Western Abkhin, as well as several halfling/Duneard religions and folk traditions, and even a few human superstitions. No less than twenty different faiths and folk traditions believe in what is generally referred to as a True Name or a Secret Name, although there are variations on when, where, why, and how one receives it.

Both Gunnora and Alfdis have True Names in the Nathithad tradition (pronounced not-heet-HOD). Nathithad has four gods; the Mother, the Father, the Son, and the Daughter. Sometimes, the gods get along, and when they do, wonderful miracles occur. But generally, the gods don’t get along at all. Imagine the world’s biggest family feud, fought on a cosmological scale, with the souls of dwarves hanging in the balance.

Each child born to a dwarf of Nathithad is automatically claimed by one of the four gods, based on the time of day when they were born. Mother claims all the children born in the morning, Son claims all the children born in the afternoon, Father claims the children born in the evening, and Daughter claims the children of the dead of night. A child’s first name is then claimed by the god of their birth.

However, having the mark of only one god on you can be disastrous. All the other gods will try to win you over to their claim. Some, like the Son, will tempt you with wonders and gifts; thus folks will say of a lucky dwarf “The Son must be courting them.” However, Mother, Father, and ESPECIALLY Daughter, are very vindictive, and they will often try to put you in hazardous or lethal situations so that you cry out to them for help. They often don’t care much if you die before you can be saved.

In order to get around this, a special claiming ceremony is held. A newborn baby is brought to the temple, along with the cloth they were born in (or the first scrap of fabric that touched the baby after its birth). The cloth is burned ritually, as a way of releasing the first god’s hold on the baby. Then the ashes are mixed with water, and with the ink created, a new name is written on the baby’s forehead by a priest, while a blessing is held.

This new name – the True Name – is claimed by all the gods, and must be a name in High Dwarvish. It is generally picked by the child’s parent(s), although priests may get involved if the parents don’t know enough High Dwarvish. While the first name is still used in public, the True Name will be used in all religious ceremonies, and is often used in times of great solemnity or catastrophe by the person’s family and closest friends. Although there is no religious injunction against it, most Nathithad dwarves consider it bad luck to use a True Name too often. Therefore, it is only used by family and friends.

Gunnora’s True Name, Ghivashel, means “treasure of treasures.” It’s a very common True Name for those who don’t speak High Dwarvish fluently; there’s more than one folk song about the lovely Ghivashel.

Alfdis’s True Name is Nomal, and it means “one who gives kisses.”