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The Arming of Vinga

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The Arming of Vinga



The Arming of Vinga is a ritual used as part of a heroquest to recreate the goddesses’ preparations for a particular adventure or battle. A successful ritual and the appropriate preparation can greatly aid a would-be heroquestor. The ritual is also used to prepare a priestess for battle, in emulation of the goddess, and some clans have secret additional rituals that can impart some of the strength of the goddess to the priestess completing the ritual.

There are many extant versions of The Arming of Vinga myth. This principally results from the many slightly different versions of the history and mythos of the cult known to different Orlanthi social units.

The ritual also varies depending on the time in Vinga’s life at which the Arming takes place (as decided by the hero quest being attempted). She armed herself differently before she became a member of the Thunder Brothers, and acquired several items during her adventures (Scarf of Mist, Sandals of Darkness etc) that do not feature in her early panoply.



The discussion below details an eastern Sartarite perspective of the Arming ceremonies (Dundealos tribe), modified by information held at the temples in Last Cast and Pavis. The ritual shows Esrolian influences as well. It was compiled by Serenity Macleod, and largely represents her knowledge and understanding of the rituals. It should be noted that she is a much-travelled priestess, and that the majority of clan Vingans would be largely unaware of much of the material that follows.



The Arming of Vinga ritual consists in fact, of two separate rituals. Both are used in preparation for attempts to emulate the goddess or follow one of her paths on the heroplane.

 The first, or Youth, ritual is used when embarking on a heroquest to follow the early paths of the Sword Daughter. Many Vinga the Adventurer heroquests use this ritual for preparation. This is mainly an Esrolian custom, Sartarites tend to use the second Arming ritual almost exclusively and comparatively few clans even know that the first ritual exists. Using the second Arming ritual seems to have no adverse effect when following one of the earlier paths of the goddess.

The second Arming ritual (War) describes Vinga’s battle preparations when she was left to defend the Storm Tribe in the Great Darkness. It is the appropriate ritual to use when following most of the later paths of the goddess.

Minor variations on the Arming ritual exist; most are detailed in the stories of the goddess held by different clans. All appear to work equally well, even those that seem to describe different preparations for the same path.

 It seems likely that all of the preparations described by different clans were at some point used by the goddess. Even if a particular version of the ritual is not ‘quite right’ for the path it is attempting to follow, it does increase the connection between goddess and priestess, and will provide benefits when heroquesting (following the path of the goddess). Using the ‘right ritual’ strengthens this connection but only slightly, and is by no means necessary for success; a thorough knowledge of the lore of the path that is being followed is far more important, and devotion to the goddess is the most important of all.

I have been told that it is possible to combine elements from Arming rituals from several sources, and that such ‘new’ rituals do work; I am inclined to believe that when such rituals do succeed, they do so not because they are new, but because they are in fact an accurate recreation of one of the Arming preparations used by Vinga, knowledge of which had been lost in the passage of time. More accidental discovery than anything else, these ‘new’ rituals are not perhaps as new as their ‘creators’ would like to believe.

The idea that this might be possible however does raise a variety of interesting possibilities and questions. None of which I intend to discuss here, far too cerebral an activity for the likes of me.

The table below shows the core elements of the Youth and War Arming rituals, the story of both is told elsewhere. A discussion of the individual elements of the ritual follows the table.


















Spear or Sword

Spear or Sword


Two javelins

Two javelins











Healers Bag






Clansfolk to reassure

Clansfolk to reassure



Acceptance of the warband


Speech to gain support

Speech to gain support


These then are the elements common to most Arming rituals. Known variations are discussed below.



1.        Trousers.  Given to Vinga by Voria in both variants, these are worn under a blue skirt. Various descriptions of them exist; they are variously described as red, plaid, brown, and blue.

2.       Hair.  In the Youth ritual Vinga’s hair is left unbound. This is also true of many versions of the War ritual; in others Vinga cuts her hair and sacrifices it to the wind.

3.       Henna/Woad.  In clans that believe that Vinga dyed her hair red when she became a warrior, this section of both rituals involves Vinga being told the secret of infertility by Ernalda, and using a pot of henna to dye her hair. Most Sartarite clans believe that Vinga’s hair was red before she became a warrior, changed by her anger at Elmal when he told her to leave the palisade. They do not dye their hair at this stage but instead daub their bodies and faces with woad (often believed to have been given to Vinga by Babeestor Gor), marking themselves with the sacred runes of the goddess.

4.       Spear or Sword. Vinga equips herself with a weapon borrowed from her father’s Hall. In many clans this weapon is a sword called Death, in others a spear called Moving Thorn. In at least one Arming ritual she bears the sword Vengeance, made for her by Gustbran the Smith. Some myths maintain that Humakt gave   her a copy of Death, in return for her aid; others that Vinga was lent Death, and kept a copy for herself when she returned the sword to him.

5.       Two javelins.  Also taken from her fathers Hall. In most variants of the Arming ritual they are called No Escape and Last Cast. In some versions Ernalda gives them to Vinga.

6.       Shield.  Accepted at first, then discarded as too heavy. In some versions Ernalda gives it to her, in others by Elmal. In at least one ritual detailed in the temple library at Pavis, Vinga is given a second sword by Eurmal, the origin of her Flashing Blade feat. Its name is recorded as WidowMaker, also known as Doom of Man.

7.       Cloak/Scarf.  In the Youth ritual, Vinga is given a heavy woollen cloak by Orane, to keep her warm during the night. In the War ritual, she dons Mist, a fine silk scarf given to her by Huraya.

8.       Amulet/Armour.  In most versions of the Youth Arming ritual Vinga is given an amulet before she leaves. Most agree that Enferalda gave her an amulet of strength, but many versions differ (as to both the source and nature of the gift). In at least one version, Ernalda gives her Boa, to guide and assist her. In the War version, Vinga usually dons her mail coat, WardWand. The hauberk has several other names, the most common of which are PointBreaker and Earth’s Leaf. Turn

9.       Healers Bag/Sandals. In most versions of the Youth ritual, Bevara gives Vinga a small bag filled with herbs and herbal preparations. In the War ritual, she dons the Sandals of Darkness, given to her by the Mother of Darkness and brought to her by Voria. Some variations exist, but this seems a fairly constant element of the Arming ritual.

10.    Boots/Horse.  In the Youth ritual, Vinga borrows a sturdy pair of boots from Barntar (some versions say she got them from Ernalda, others that she already had a pair, which Voria fetched for her). In the War ritual, she gets a horse, brought to her by Redalda (although variants do exist).

11.   Clansfolk to re-assure.  All variations include a group of clansfolk that Vinga had to reassure. The size of the group and type of clansfolk is what varies, and tends to be adapted to suit the path being followed anyway.

12.   Oath or Boast/Acceptance of the warband.  In the Youth ritual, Vinga always swears to accomplish a set goal, or boasts of her achievements to come. In the War ritual she always has, or obtains (usually via a challenge or speech), the acceptance of the male members of the warband.

13.   Speech to get the support of the women of the clan. In most versions of the Arming ritual, Vinga makes a speech to gain the support of the women of the clan; this often varies, usually depending on the path being followed. For example, in most versions of the ‘Why Vingans aren’t Afraid of Trolls” heroquest, part of Vinga’s preparations include making a speech to reassure the cottars she was protecting.



Many of the versions of the Arming ritual that I know of, mix the order of these elements. Generally this is because the path of the goddess that is to be followed involves different preparations. Many clans have their own understanding of the goddess, the continued success of their rituals prove their validity.