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Caste of Initiates

 

Is part of the High Castes and are the representatives of the Priest-Kings in Gorean Society. They are the Religious Branch of the Governement. Their Caste color is White.

"Kassau is the seat of the High Initiate of the north, who claims spiritual sovereignty over Torvaldsland, which is commonly taken to commence with the thinning of the trees northward. This claim, like many of those of initiates, is disputed by few, and ignored by most. The men of Torvaldsland, on the whole, I knew, while tending to respect Priest-Kings, did not accord them special reverence. They held to old gods, and old ways. The religion of the Priest-Kings, institutionalized and ritualized by the castle of Initiates, had made little headway among the primitive men to the north. It had, however, taken hold in many towns, such as Kassau. Initiates often used their influence and their gold, and pressures on trade and goods, to spread their beliefs and rituals. Sometimes a chieftan, convered to their ways, would enforce his own commitments on his subordinates. Indeed, this was not unusual. "

Marauders of Gor, page 34

 

"I looked at the cold, haughty, pale face of the High Initiate on his throne.

He was flanked by minor initiates, in their white robes, with shaven heads.

Initiates do not eat meat, or beans. They are trained in the mysteries of mathematics. They converse among themselves in archaic Gorean, which is no longer spoken among the people. Their services, too, are conducted in this language. Portions of the services, however, are translated into contemporary Gorean. When I had first come to Gor I had been forced to learn certain long prayers to the Priest-Kings, but I had never fully mastered them, and had, by now, long forgotten them.

Still I recognized them when heard. Even now, on a high platform, behind the white rail, an Initiate was reading one aloud to the congregation."

Marauders of Gor, pages 34 and 35 

 

"The initiates are an almost universal, well-orgnized, industrious caste. They have many monasteries, holy places and temples. An initiate may often travel for hundreds of pasangs and, each night, find himself in a house of initiates. They regard themselves as the highest caste, and, in many cities, are so regarded generaly. There is often a tension between them and the civil authorities, for each regards himself as supreme in matters of policy and law for their districts. The initiates have their own laws, and courts, and certain of them are particularly versed in the laws of initiates. Their education, generally, is of little obvious practical value, with its attention to authorized exegeses of dubious, difficult text, purporting to be revelations of Priest-Kings, the details and observances of their own calendars, their interminable, involved rituals, and so on, but, paradoxically, this sort of learning, impractical though it appears, has a subtle practical aspect. It tends to bind initiates together, making them interdependent, and muchly different from common men. It sets them apart, and makes them feel important and wise, and specially privileged. There are many texts, of course which are secret to the caste, and not even available to scholars generally. In these it is rumored there are marvelous spells and mighty magic, particularly if read backward on certain feast days. Whereas initiates tend not to be taken with great seriousness by the high castes, or the more intelligent members of the population, except in matters of politcal alliance, their teachings and purported ability to intercede with Priest-Kings, and further the welfare of their adherents, is taken with great seriousness by many of the lower castes. And many men, who suspect that the initiates, in their claims and pretensions, are frauds, will nonetheless avoid coming into conflict with the caste. This is particularly true of civic leaders who do not wish the power of the initiates to turn the lower castes against them. And, after all, who knows much of Priest-Kings, other than the obvious fact that they exist. The invisible barrier about the Sardar is evidence of that, and the policing, by flame death, of illegal weapons and inventions. The Gorean knows that there are Priest-Kings. He does not, of course, know their nature. That is where the role of the initiates becomes most powerful. The Gorean knows there are Priest-Kings, whoever or whatever they might be. He is also confronted with a socially and economically powerful caste that pretends to be able to intermediate between Priest-Kings and common folk. What if some of the claims of Initiates should be correct? What if they do have influence with Priest-Kings?

The common Gorean tends to play it safe and honor the Initiates.

He will, however, commonly, have as little to do with them as possible.

This does not mean he will not contribute to their temples and fees for placating Priest-Kings.

The attitude of Priest-Kings toward Initiates, as I recalled, having once been in the Sardar, is generallly one of disinterest. They are regarded as being harmless. They are taken by many Priest-Kings as an evidence of the aberrations of the human kind.

Incidentally, it is a teaching of the initiates that only initiates can obtain eternal life. The regimen for doing this has something to do with learning mathematics, and with avoiding the impurities of meat and beans. This particular teaching o the initiates, it is interesting to note, is that taken least seriously by the general population. No one, except possibly, initiates, takes it with much seriousness. The Gorean feeling generally is that there is no reason why initiates, or only initiates, should live forever. Initiates, though often feared by the lower castes, are also regarded as being a bit odd, and often figure in common, derisive jokes. No female, incidently, may become an Initiate. It is a consequence, thusly, that no female can obtain eternal life. I have often thought that the Initiates, if somewhat more clever, could have a much greater power than they possess on Gor. For example, if they could fuse their superstitions and lore, and myths, with a genuine moral message, of one sort or another, they might appeal more seriously to the general population; if they spoke more sense people would be less sensitive to, or disturbed by, the nonsense; further, they should teach that all Goreans might, by following their rituals, obtain eternal life; that would broaden the appeal of their message, and subtly utilize the fear of death to further their projects; lastly, they should make greater appeal to women than they do, for, in most Gorean cities, women, of one sort or another, care for and instrust the children in the crucial first years. That would be the time to imprint them, while innocent and trusting, at the mother's or nurse's knee, with superstitions which might, in simpler brains, subtly control them the length of their lives. So simple an adjustment as the promise of eternal life to women who behaved in accordance with their teachings, instructing the young, and so on, might have much effect. But the initiates, like many Gorean castes, were tradition bound. Besides, they were quite powerful as it was. Most Goreans took with some seriousness their claim to be able to placate and influence Priest-Kings. That was more than they needed for considerable power."

Marauders of Gor, pages 37-39

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