The cult of Eurmal the Trickster is surprisingly important in Sartar. The Orlanthi hold that clowns and tricksters are essential in contact with the sacred. Laughter and humor are a part of every ceremony, even the most serious, because laughter opens and frees one from rigid preconception. Tricksters are needed in the most sacred ceremonies because the sacred comes through upset, reversal, and surprise. Orlanthi gods and heroes can be foolish in one tale and wise in the next, helpful and then villains.
This may be tough to grasp with our Western ethics and morality, but the Orlanthi are perhaps more open to life’s multiplicity and paradoxes than we are. The sacred is both wondrous and terrible, and heroes like Arkat and Argrath represent both.
The Trickster as a cultural hero runs deep with the Orlanthi. Not just Eurmal, but Orlanth, Humakt, and all the Lightbringers have a touch of the Trickster. And that is perfectly accepted by the Orlanthi and held as an important part of their religious life. I think this gets easily missed by us Westerners who are often clueless to the nature of the sacred.
A social oddity and convenience for the Orlanthi, Clowns are Tricksters and, as such, can get away with almost any social disruption and trouble because of the useful functions they provide through showing what is serious, absurd, baffling, or wrong, fearful or comical about life and the cosmos. The Orlanthi recognize this as powerful magic that both disrupts and helps to maintain the cosmos.
Another function of the Clown is that of public scapegoat, for whenever there is some official cause to find a person at fault the Clowns are the ones chosen. They may be outlawed, driven out of town, or (rarely) killed.Until they are used as scapegoats, Clowns can violate sacred laws freely while they carry out their ritual roles. However, Clowns are required to dress in special costume to enjoy this protection. Some initiates paint their body with black and white stripes, cover themselves with mud or filth, wear false phalluses, or simply wear their clothing backwards and inside out.
Clowns sometimes appear—usually without invitation—at the ceremonies of other Orlanthi cults and mock them along with other attendees. At other public ceremonies, clowns may dance out of step, sing out of tune, and imitate cult and other societal leaders. They beg food, throw food away, or are gluttons. They even use magical regalia in inappropriate ways, engage in foolish, silly, or even obscene side-shows, often with respected members of the community.
Eurmal is outside of all social conventions, including gender. Tricksters are known to deliberately defy and even mock such conventions – even in the most sacred rituals!
Note that the month and year of this post are correct, just not the date.