Keywords: fundamentalist religion, matriarchal structure, worships nature, keeps to themselves
In-game language: English (if we have English-speaking participants)
Women are the dominant sex in this culture: Sekolts will say that it is the will of the Goddess. However anthropologists would look at the gender imbalance with about four men per woman and the fact of men’s over all physical frailty and quieter temperament. Sekolts has been a distinct culture in various communities in several galaxies, and keep to themselves and have done so for centuries. They see themselves as special and touched by the Goddess, ever since their religion was born for over a thousand years ago on the moon Sekolt, the cradle of their culture.
This moon was a very fruitful and paradise-like planet; however, it was also exposed to hard radiation, which caused a higher mutation frequency and multiple malformations amongst the small group of early settlers on Sekolt. The deformed children were culled. But quickly a special set of mutations from the male leader, a self-proclaimed tyrant became widespread in the population due to his privileges regarding sexual intercourse with female subjects. This mutation meant that the carrier was able to cope with the highly mutagenic conditions without getting cancer and (as many) deformed children, but it went together with another set of genes that, due to a brain defect, gave the carriers frequent hallucinatory and ecstatic experiences.
As may be understood, the original Sekolt culture was dominated by men, but this gradually changed when a new mutation (in addition to the two earlier mutations) showed up a few generations later in the then king. Because it was the king who had this mutation, it spread as quickly as before to a large part of the population, since they could not deny him anything. The mutation meant that female babies were sickly and often didn’t survive childhood – but if they did, they had normal strength. Male babies on the other hand were healthy, but as they grew did not attain normal male strength.
So, the king and his male descendants were physically weak, but the power structure and the traditional gender roles protected their positions of power to some degree, at least for a time, so that this mutation too was spread in the population. The Sekolt were starting out a small and isolated population, and thus there was no way to avoid a high degree of inbreeding and the consequent genetic uniformity of the population. As most men were born weak, and the vast majority of Sekolt experienced vibrant and strong hallucinations, the existing structure of society got more and more unstable, and the time was ripe for Tengala to proclaim herself as the prophet of the Goddess and to lead all women in rebellion.
The revolution of Goddess began as a secret religion amongst the women: stories of superiority of women, about their closer connection to nature both physically as well as mentally, stories about the Goddess of nature, the actions and miracles she performed, stories told amongst women. These stories got known by more and more and increasingly shaped a cultural basis as well as a framework for interpretation of the hallucinations experienced by the Sekolt. In the beginning, the religion was only about nature, and not about the power structure of society, but this changed as Tengala began to see visions, where the Goddess informed her that she was chosen to give power to the women, as they were the most suitable to control society, protect nature and lead the weak and unintelligent men. Since many men had been told the stories of the Goddess when they were small children at their mother’s knee, soon several men also saw the Goddess and worshipped her, and the new religion spread like wild fire. The revolution was therefore quick, mainly without blood shedding and very soon a fact.
The Sekolts are consequently really able to “see” their Goddess and to experience strong ecstatic, joyous reactions during these hallucinations, hallucinations which enhance their faith. Women lead the families, each woman is married to more men, as the men need the guidance and steering of women to follow the way of the Goddess and thus to be reborn as one of their female descendants. Women can look forward to entering Paradise if they have honoured the Goddess and lived according to Her will through many lives.
The Sekolts consider Sekolt to be their lost paradise. They were driven away from there when a big multi-system company got a license to extract radioactive materials from the moon. The moon is now blown to pieces, and the radioactive materials which shaped the Sekolt culture and religion now runs nuclear engines in several solar systems. Therefore the Sekolts envisage (very vivid and convincingly) a new Sekolt available only to them, a place that only the Goddess knows of. As religion is indeed very much present for everyone, they have no need of priestesses, but the older women have a leading role in their communities.
So it is not possible to become a Sekolt, it is something you’re born to. For girls the genetic legacy causes a very high mortality rate, so only the healthiest and strongest girls survive. For men, the consequence is first and foremost physical weakness and a calmer temper due to lower testosterone levels.
There are still a few Sekolts who carry healthy genes, but no one can see it. Only if they get a child with another person who also carries the hidden healthy gene, and they happen to both pass this, they will get an ordinary child. There are two options: Either the couple have a risk of male children with normal strength and hormone levels or they have a risk of unfortunate children of both sexes not able to experience the Goddess. Men who are different from the norm are considered unmanly and sick. It depends on the individual Sekolt colony whether the sick individuals are simply expelled from the Sekolt society or if they fare much worse (see below).
Individuals without the ability to see the Goddess are discovered already as children, unless they learn quickly to simulate religious attacks. What happens to these individuals is debated among anthropologists: some believe that they simply are expelled and for instance placed in orphanages or with friendly families, and there are certainly examples of this. Others argue that there are strong indications that these unfortunate are sacrificed to the Goddess and are ritually consumed by the congregation.
This theory is one of the reasons why Sekolts are often ostracized by society and are discriminated. Sekolts also want isolation because they do not want to live too close to the pagans, who cannot see the light of the Goddess. Sekolts often find jobs which benefits nature, for instance environmental remediation such as removal of pollution from soil and recycling of waste, work that nobody else wants to do, but the Sekolts perceive it as the will of the Goddess.
Sekoltism is a strict fundamentalist religion, upheld by hallucinatory and ecstatic experiences. There is a strong division of the sexes, who of course have very different abilities and a strong focus on the next life, into which you will be born.
Humility and submissiveness are what men must expect in this life, but perhaps a better life awaits, if they can be reborn as a woman in the next life. Sekolt men are significantly weaker than the general norm for the human race. Their physical strength is roughly equivalent to that of a normal child of ten years. This is due to several malfunctions on a biochemical level, but as their disability is not visible their physical weakness appears quite surprising. Men also participate in the work of the colony though in less important positions, but they only work outside the home after they are married. They are submissive to all women (also pagans), but are used to viewing other men as equals. They are usually younger than their mate and follow her bidding, as is the will of the Goddess.
The women on the other hand differ only slightly from the human norm. They are a bit stronger and smarter, because most girls dies, and only the strongest survive. The role of women is to protect nature, to enjoy and appreciate life, follow the will of the Goddess, to obey their mother and to protect and guide their men. If they live a good life, they might return to Sekolt after their death. The alternative is of course to be reborn as a woman or if they are very bad as a man.
Sekolt mates wear a bracelet with the name of their mate. The bracelets are not supposed to be removed in order to symbolize that marriage lasts throughout this life. Men, of course, only wear one name ribbon on their bracelet, while women have a name ribbon for each of their mates on their bracelets.
Women are more likely to emigrate alone because they can fend for themselves, but also because it is women who can continue the family and their people, and so it is women who need to be moved to safety. For the most part men are only emigrating in the company of a mate or to join a mate who has travelled ahead of them.
Men wear colourful scarves around their necks (for some reason Sekolt perceive the neck as a very erotic area), long sleeves, long pants in dark colours and are very restrained towards strangers.
Women also wear fairly dark clothes, but it should be tight, especially on the upper part of the body, so they can show neck and cleavage to emphasize their femininity. They are usually slightly stronger and larger than other women, but not necessarily.
Sekolt women are named after female qualities such as Strength, Honour, Truth and Joy, while men are named after male virtues such as Sincerity, Obedience, Patience, Grace and Thanksgiving. They do not use family names, as all Sekolts see themselves as being part of the same family, the family of the Goddess. However they will often identify themselves by their mother’s name (Joy, daughter of Wisdom). They often call upon the Goddess (“Thanks to the Goddess,” “If the Goddess wills it”, etc.) And swear by the name of the prophet (“By Tengala”, “By Tengala’s breasts” or “Tengala’s/the Prophet’s womb” – the latter is a very strong oath).
They experience religious visions/hallucinations in every day ordinary situations and sometimes throw themselves headlong on the floor to honour the Goddess or have conversation with Her, though only they can see Her. Sometimes they speak out loud; sometimes they have conversations only within themselves. Their religious behaviour is thus not a fixed ritual, performed together with other Sekolts, but something the individual experiences at times when she or he feels a need for the presence of the Goddess’ presence (consciously or unconsciously). Sekolts get these religious experiences on an almost daily basis. These experiences are accompanied by a rush of happiness, which in intensity and strength corresponds to the effect of a narcotic drug. This can obviously lead to some problems and flawed choices.
Sekolts emigrate from communities where they have lived in isolated parallel societies, but with little religious persecution (as they view it). Over time, there have been several violent pogroms on different planets, but right now it is especially on the planet Sacki, there are problems, and many Sekolts flee from there. Sekolts emigrate to several colonies which they have founded in the shadow of the Culture where they hope to be in peace and live isolated. The Culture is still discussing (this discussion have gone on for two centuries now), what to do with them. So far these colonies have been allowed to exist undisturbed.
Sekolts consider androids to be an abomination since it is not allowed for humans to usurp the power of the Goddess and create new life, especially not a grotesque mechanical imitation of life such as the androids. Hence, they are very critical of the machine intelligences of the Culture and certainly do not aim nor wish to join the Culture.
Especially women will be very protective and wish to look after and care for their mates and other men who are under their protection. They will certainly not want their men to talk to other women while they will be more tolerant of men who speak with men (what harm can it do?). The men who are not accustomed to going out or leaving their home will be rather naive and curious. They will be submissive towards other women while other men will be considered as equals (at least until they see a demonstration of their astonishing physical strength).
Sekolts eat a very healthy and ordinary diet. This means whole grain products, vegetables, fresh and dried fruit, fresh cheese, only a little meat, water.
On Sacki, intergalactic credits is the common currency, conversationally referred to as credits, which is used in several galaxies. The refugees have paid about 20,000 credits for their journey on the ship of the human traffickers.
Sekolts does not use money within their own society; they are not very rich and are not very accustomed to money. They receive a salary from the Sackian community paid in intergalactic credits and trade for things they cannot produce, but this is done collectively and managed by the elder women. Especially Sekolt men have no understanding of the value of money, as they have never been allowed to or had the need to manage them. On the journey it will naturally be the women who handle the money of the family. The question is whether they have enough money to reach their destination or if they must rely on the Goddess to help them.
Ioe / Obedience (M), male anarchist revolutionary, with Sekolt heritage, but unbeliever with average strength and without hallucinations, traveling with Laio and Siro to improve believability of their cover identities, 25 years old
Wisdom (F), the elderly matriarch, has only brought her daughter Joy (22 years old, disappeared in Sacki City), her mate Careful (21 years) and her younger beautiful mate Industrious (18 years), but left three mates and four sons behind. Only somewhat plagued by guilt. 43 years old
Industrious (M), traveling with his mate Wisdom (43 years) whom he hates, and Careful (21 years), who is the mate of Wisdom’s daughter Joy. He is afraid since Joy was abducted in Sacki City, and misses his brother and mate Purity. 18 years
Careful (M), Sekolt, the mate of Joy who disappeared without a trace in Sacki City. Travelling with his mother-in-law Wisdom (43 years) and her younger mate Industrious (18 years). 20 years
Diligence (M), normal Sekolt man, but his son Modesty (16 years) cannot see the Goddess. Therefore he fled with his son under the guise that he is to marry a Sekolt woman, but in reality is trying to avoid it, 39 years old
Modesty (M), normal weakly Sekolt man, but he cannot see the Goddess. Consequently on the run with his father under the guise of travelling to marry a Sekolt woman, 16 years
Delight, daughter of Pride, freshly made matriarch and mother, the great responsibility makes her nervous. Mates: Dutiful (19 years), Gratitude (17 years), daughter Beauty (3 months), 21 years old
Dutiful (M), very caring, oldest mate of Delight, is the one who cares the most for baby Beauty. 19 Years old. Mate: Joy (21 years), Brother and partnering mate: Gratitude (17 years), daughter Beauty (3 months, baby doll)
Gratitude (M), tormented teenager, constantly reminded of his great defect: normal strength, very religious, speaks with the Goddess. 17 years old Mate: Joy (21 years), brother and partnered mate: Dutiful (19 years), daughter Beauty (3 months, baby doll)