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History And Sociology Of House Of The Rose

Sociology is defined as “the science or study of the origin, development, organization, and functioning of human society; science of the fundamental laws of social relations, institutions, etc.”

When I first began to write about the House of the Rose, I made it up as I went along, but that soon became unworkable. It was necessary to know how a House of the Rose, in any city around the Mediterranean, would be organzied. Who would do what jobs. What jobs would be needed. How the people of the House would interact with their neighbors–and their children. And how they could possibly keep the major secrets that they safeguarded.

I never took a Sociology class in college, so I don’t have the official terminology to discuss these concepts. I beg the pardon of any academic types who may be offended by my ignorance. And I may be getting everything completely wrong (as much as anything wholly fictional can be wrong) but these are my thoughts anyway.

Origin of the House of the Rose

Sharibet is the source and foundress of the House of the Rose. She was the faithful servant and Chief Priestess of Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld, Goddess of the Cities of the Plain before the Flood (which event has some evidence for having actually happened about 6500 BC–see Noah’s Flood by William Ryan and Walter Pitman. There’s nothing like using historical and scientific data for verisimilitude.)

After the Flood’s widespread destruction of the civilization of the Cities of the Plain (an event attributed to Inanna, who was being tried for high crimes at the time), Ereshkigal Transformed Sharibet into a djinniah. (Note: djinn or djinni is an Arabic word translated ‘demon’ whose origin–as far as I can see–is Latin: genius, or ‘guardian spirit of a place, person, institution, etc.’ The plural of genius is genii and it is commonly spelled genie in English. You can google for ‘genii’ or ‘apkallu’ and see many images of winged protectors, either human or animal-headed. When people commonly think of winged spirit protectors these days they call them ‘angels.’ Angelos is a Greek word meaning ‘messenger’ and is a direct translation of the Hebrew ‘mal’akhi, ‘my messenger’–which becomes the name Malachi. Angelology is a whole different subject…)

Sharibet’s daughters were still little girls when the Flood happened. She raised them to adulthood during the very difficult years after the Flood, ensured they had surviving offspring of their own, and Transformed them into djinni as well. These djinniah went to India, eventually. (We haven’t even touched any of the possible stories that might come out of that branch of the House–but I think, sometimes, about djinn auras that make lots and lots of hands of air and what that would look like in terms of statuary and religious icons…)

Sharibet and Ereshkigal collected people and created djinni (who mostly didn’t last very long) and formed an enclave for protection against wandering bands of survivors. They eked out a precarious existance for perhaps up to fifteen hundred years. They had to farm; domesticate, feed, and breed food animals; and make all their own tools, farm implements, furniture, clothing, utensils, and so on. Life expectancy of humans was short, but they at least had medical knowledge, some magical healing, and the djinni’s ability to Raise and Name others so they could remember their past skills and abilities. So their settlement prospered (but not too visibly, since any sign of riches would have made them a target for bandits and beseigers.)

During a period of extreme drought, they moved, with great difficulty, into the area of the ‘two rivers’ which the Greeks much later called Mesopotamia. They found one (Ea), and then another of the Lost siblings of Ereshkigal, who, Transformed and Raised and Named, regained their powers and their memories. These beings were the ‘abgal’ (Sumerian for sage, wise man, or wizard, from abba, ‘elder’, + gal, ‘great’. In later times they were called “Apkallu” in the Akkadian language.<sup>*</sup>) They began a new civilization, taking on their former roles as gods and goddesses as the population grew.

Inanna was only restored to her place as one of the Apkallu after civilization was back up and running for a thousand years. The Apkallu and the House “remembered” her part in the tragedy of the Flood, but she was deemed to have been punished enough for her transgression.

The Apkallu as gods were served by the priests and priestesses of their respective temples in the cities they claimed for their own, and the family of the House of the Rose in this period was only protected by Sharibet and her descendent djinni.

After the upheaval of the meteor strike that ended the Sumerian civilization (circa 2300 BC) the House of the Rose entered into a new, closely co-operative phase with the remaining Apkallu. The priests and priestesses of the temples developed independence and no longer ‘believed’ in the physical presence of the gods. With writing, they had the ability to transmit their knowledge of history and ‘magic’ to their next generations, and had no need for immortal gods, or desire to worship those gods in the flesh. They started demonizing the Apkallu, who then needed the protection and service of the House of the Rose in order to survive.

Development of the House of the Rose

The ceremony of ‘Appointing’ was developed after the fall of Sumer in order to bind the Apkallu (and family, or ‘Crown of Service’ djinni) to serve the House without harming its members. Having blood-drinkers live in your house, in close proximity to your children, would make ‘contractual obligation’ a high priority.

The whole ritual and apparatus of the Appointing ceremony: the lighting of the torches by the presiding djinni, the introduction of the candidate for appointing by Ereshkigal, the reminder of the dinni’s promise by the oldest matron of the house hosting the ceremony, the painting of the faces of the djinni with ochre by a young mother with her baby, the specific naming and representation of old and young, male and female, the pronunciation of the punishment for failure to abide by the promises, the appearance of the male djinni’s concubine as the cup holder for the testing and blook covenant, the presence and function of the Man of the Ax as the final arbiter of the acceptance of the new djinni by the people of the House, the presentation of the crowns and the choosing of their specific crowns by the djinni, the revelation of the shattered crown of Inanna and the repeated cursing of Inanna for her crimes in destroying the world–twice!–originated piece by piece in the years following the upheaval of the land. I almost hate to speculate the problems for which each segment of this ceremony formed the solution…

During this period, as the House began to specialize in the production of rose perfume–a guaranteed upscale-market item wherever they might go–they developed and fine-tuned the specific functions of a well-regulated House.

(We imagine that the House also employed poets and singers to create the ideal of rose perfume as a very desirable commodity.)

Organization of the House of the Rose

  1. Makeup of a typical House: the chief Trader and his wife are the Master and Mistress of the House of (city name). They, their children, and another couple (usually a sibling of either husband or wife who work as major domo/butler and cook and are available as back-up Master/Mistress) with their children, and at least one grandma to oversee midwifing and the medical needs of the family, form the core group of an established House. Founding Houses may consists of only one nuclear family group, with attendants.
  2. The Master of the House is the main interface with the world of work outside the House. He’s the man who sells perfume and other luxury goods, signs contracts, makes deals, buys and sells property, conducts alliances, shares in civic responsibilities, and performs whatever other masculine roles are expected in that locale.
  3. Mistress of the House is Sharibet’s representative. Her responsibility is the welfare of the House as a whole and her House in particular, including all domestic tasks such as establishing a functioning dwelling, feeding and clothing the personnel, the care and education of children, the training of maids, the pigeon post, and overseeing Sharibet’s breeding program. If there is no grandma, she’s the doctor, too, although she may assign this position to someone qualified. She obtains domestic or political information from her contacts outside the House and consults with the Master on contracts.
  4. The cook in any house with djinni in residence has the special duty of making up the jars of blood that the djinni drink as food. The production process must not only be scrupulously clean, provided with the right herbs and as airless a condition as possible, but also as much secrecy as can possibly be maintained. Try to butcher a chicken, lamb, calf, sheep, or cow with blood transfusion to a clay pot without the blood congealing, and with nobody noticing! The cook’s position is often under-respected, but is vital when djinni live in with the family.
  5. Most houses have at least four teenaged but Raised and Named young people being ‘fostered’ to learn their adult foles. Two females, ‘maids’, help clean, watch the kids, make cloth and clothing, and contribute to all the domestic tasks; and two males as ‘stable boys’ are available for horse care, running messages, security, and heavy lifting. They learn or relearn the perfume trade and local market conditions. Everybody stays alert to changing customs and mores. Being Raised and Named, they remember all the skills and abilities they ever had. These low-responsibility positions let them grow into their adult roles without the angst and mystery of normal human teenage life. The turn-over on these positions is five to seven years. When the youngsters turn twenty-one or twenty-two they move on to an adult-responsibility position.
  6. Sons of existing Masters of Houses get first choice to be successors to their fathers. Only in cases of ineptitude will this custom be set aside. After their fostering experience, they return home to learn the local ropes.
  7. The ‘extra’ males who don’t get settled with an existing House as ‘backup or valet’ go into the transportation side of the perfume trade, starting as ‘ensigns’ and graduating from lesser-responsibility positions to Captains of their own ships. Seaport Houses would each own and operate, or finance and build, at least one ship. Ships would be crewed with mostly non-family sailors (hard to get enough family members in one place to man up a ship.) But the main officers would be family.
  8. Former maids may marry in to the family where they fostered, or other marriage arrangements may be made for them. A daughter of the House may be ‘married out’ to form an alliance with a local important family. Once married to an outsider, she would be required to a) never reveal any of the House’s secrets and b) have her children ‘tested’ at puberty to see if they’re reborn of the house or of the Apkallu. Her duty would be to fit it with her new family, keep the fearsome repute of the House, and forward any political or cultural information back to the local House and, thus, to Sharibet. Think Mommy. Mommy Bond. (This might be, in another worldview, an intolerable assignment. But for House of the Rose women, it’s just ‘temporary detached duty’ and may even count as ‘vacation time’ depending on the marriage.)
  9. In larger Houses, there may be additional couples with their children acting as assistants to the core couples, or as servants, such as valet and maid. No live-in outside servants or slaves would be used except in cases of emergency, due to the security risk.
  10. The hierarchy of the House functions are followed under normal circumstances, and even emergencies are planned for and preparedness-drilled, with specific roles for every house member. However, all the Raised and Named adults know who among their particular House members have special skills applicable to emergencies, such as the youngest maid with the most physician experience in her past lives.
  11. The Raised and Named people of the House do have to fulfill expected gender roles, but they know these roles are not completely restrictive. As souls may be reborn in different bodies, the person will get a chance to fill different roles depending on whether they are reborn male or female. They may have a preference for certain roles, and insofar as circumstances permit, they will be allowed to follow these preferences. However, need governs duty. If you want to be a Trader, but some ship needs a captain, you’ll go be the captain. Inside the House, a person’s preference for a particular form of art or play may be allowed to predominate without prejudice. Outside the House, clan members must conform to the bounds of the outside culture.
  12. Children in the house are treasured, cared for, educated, put to work in tasks within their capacities, and mostly allowed only to learn the information known by outsiders. Anything they need to know about the inner workings of the House and its history, they learn at their Raising and Naming. Everybody knows you can’t keep secrets from a curious kid, so the ‘secret’ about the djinni and their magic is told to them. (Those who can’t keep secrets are also noted.) But they don’t learn anything about what Raising and Naming really entails, or about the immortality of the djinni. They also are forbidden to be in the kitchen when the cook makes djinni food. Kids who just won’t leave the secrets alone suffer a sliding scale of punishment and reeducation. If necessary, a djinni will coerce such a kid to be silent. If worse comes to worst and the child or young person spills the secrets he’s learned to an outsider, that child may even be executed according to the terms of the covenant: “whoever knows our secrets must be silent, dead, or one of us.’ Adults try really hard to keep kids from getting that far into trouble.
  13. Children are encouraged to form friendships and working partnerships with people outside the house, and to learn the language, idiom, and customs of the people in the city and country where they live. The more they know, the better. Except for the secrets of the House.
  14. Every House reports to Sharibet with information about cultural and political conditions, births, deaths, children ready for Raising and Naming, maids and stable-boys ready for their next postings, potential marriage alliances, and profits. Sharibet is the information hub, but each House has a pigeon post network.
  15. The pigeon post is the House’s communication advantage. Each House maintains a particular pigeon route and also subsidiary routes, in order to be able to spread important information as quickly as possible, theoretically as little as three weeks from England to India. Children of the House are taught pigeon maintenance and serve as lookouts and message runners. Their schedules are at the discretion of the local House. Pigeon training and pigeon transfer are under the direction of the either the Master or the Mistress of the House, whichever role is appropriate in their particular locale.
  16. When djinni move into a house (and they must rotate through different locations every ten years) they have their own suite of rooms to live in. They provide high level security functions, interfacing with the local powers and aristocracies, and creatively keeping up the ‘reputation’ of the House of the Rose as a family not to be messed with. The djinni don’t interfere with any of the perfume trade functions of the family, except during invasions, wars, religious pogroms, and other disruptions of everyday business.

Functioning of the House of the Rose

To be written…

*We took the name for our Apkallu based on the legend of the seven sages of Babylon, and the existing sculptures of ‘Apkallu’ also called genii (genius is the Latin word for ‘protective spirit’). See these websites or search on ‘Apkallu’ for more info.

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