Writings on the Unicorn Tribe

Ephemera — Nala S01 Session11


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The very existence of the unicorn tribe can be doubted. Nevertheless, it emphasises the existence of the patriarchal dichotomy of the virgin and the whore: either a woman is “pure,” and is rewarded with a steed (which other, more real tribes forge partnerships with regardless of their sexual status or orientation) who is, of course, male; or she is a whore, not worthy of companionship, let alone partnership.

-from “Unveiling the Hidden Patriarchy: Prax” by J. Kriteva

The dichotomy addressed by Kriteva holds true, especially in the mythical figure of Evranala, the unicorn rider. The woman afraid to transgress or address any kind of sexuality is exemplified by her unearthly, untouchable beauty and apparent disdain of men. Most texts have her, however, despite this, as an avatar of the Earth Mother, she whose priestesses routinely have many partners. If she had been a devotee of Maran Gor or Babeesta Gor, it is unlikely the texts would have dwelt so long on her actions, instead casting her as enigmatic Other, like Berra daughter of Jerrang, from the same myth cycle.

-from “Categorising Goddesses: Beyond the Healer-Companion” by I.R. Gray

Mystery plays are not exempt from the stereotypes under discussion. If we take, for example, the following stage direction from the usually-more-bawdy Mounting Kero Fin:

Nala, wearing the presence of the goddess [Maran Gor], approaches the Wind Lord, practically floating, with the flames of the temple behind her and in her eyes, and her long hair whipping about her head like live snakes, and says, “ I don’t care if you are Orlanth. I’m neither your wife nor your whore, and if you touch me with that intent so help me I will bury you three miles in the earth.”

The conflation of Maran Gor (flames, implicit violence) and Ernalda (snakes) aside, we see here that the flip side of the usually chaste Evranala is the sexually threatening, wicked scarlet woman, as we so often see in texts of this era. Touch her and you will burn. The dominion of the whore figure is danger and pain. In this there lies a useful comparison with the Lunar Red Goddess, the archetypal scarlet woman….

—-from I. R. Gray, ibid.

The mythical, mystical figure of Evranala, if and when accepted as a historical figure, is mainly and wrongly known in academe as only her mother’s acolyte, or, worse, as the unicorn Tiwr’s foil. It is forgotten that she carried the weight of the goddess on her shoulders, both literally in terms of body adornment (witness Piscarev, et al., 63-64) and also by carrying the bright, heavy beauty of the goddess wherever she went. #smashthepatriarchy

—-Tweeted by @feministlit, who was traced by the editor to one Dr. G. Astonbury