The following is an excerpt from a lecture given by Serenity Macleod to new initiates at the Hall of the Red Lady.
Most of the lecture discussed the history and mythos of the cult; in this section she discusses why Vinga has red hair.
One aspect of our faith, which all know of, but few outside the cult understand, is the requirement
that we dye our hair red to honour the Goddess. This is true, by dying our hair we do indeed honour the Goddess; this is however
the extent of the limited knowledge that most people, including some Vingans, have about this ritual.
They understand its broader purpose but know little or nothing of its practice or reason. They
fail to understand that the form of the ritual is largely mutable in ordinary practice, that devotion to the Goddess is the
one constant element and ultimately it is this devotion that brings us closer to the Goddess and honours her.
We honour her through our deeds, prayers, sacrifices, and words; she has no need of, or desire
for, flattery. Vinga is a proud goddess not an arrogant one. She does not, and would not, demand that we dye our hair. This
we do of our own volition, to bring us closer to the Goddess, and emulate her as best we can. It is not compulsory, remember,
No One Can Make You Do Anything.
The nature of our practice is this. Upon initiation, a Vingan cuts her hair, sacrifices it to
the wind, and calls upon the goddess for strength. She will then dye her hair, usually with henna (although camphire is commonly
used in Esrolia). After that, worshippers are free to let it grow as they wish. Most Vingans wear their hair in braids, although
many followers of the Adventurer aspect of the goddess keep theirs loose.
Each year on Defence Day, and during Sacred Season, we dye our hair for the rituals and ceremonies.
At other times, there is no need to bear the flaming badge of the Goddess. Most Vingans do, but this is as much a symbol to
others of their allegiances and devotion as anything else. There are times however when it is more practical and much safer
to keep ones faith hidden. This is especially so if being known as a Vingan could harm innocents or the clan in some way,
the Goddess was never one to stand on ceremony if her people were under threat.
In some cases, a would-be initiates hair turns red during the
first stage of the initiation rituals, such women are considered blessed by the Goddess and are often given the titles Child
of Vinga or Beloved of the Goddess. It is usually seen as a portent of great things; many of those blessed by Vinga go on
to become powerful and famous heroes of the cult.
All priestesses of the goddess have red hair, either natural or changed by the goddess when they
become a priestess. Their devotion to the Goddess cannot be readily concealed; indeed few would want it to be so. The goddess
sometimes blesses the most devout of initiates with the gift of red hair as a sign of her favour.
Several of you have made comments about the colour of my hair. You are indeed correct, it is not
henna-red, but blood red, a gift from the Earth Avenger. It is a great and yet terrible gift.
I am an Avenging Daughter and Red Lady, as well as a Storm Lady. I have sworn terrible oaths of vengeance to the Axe
Sister, taken the Red Vows, and was bathed in the Cauldron of Blood (well, dunked really), as the Goddess was in the God’s
Time. I shall speak no further of this, it is a dark path that I would not wish
for any of you. My vengeance will come, and my anger abate, when the Red Moon no longer shines over Sartar, and more than
the rivers run free
Our goddess is of the Storm, ever changing, and the passage of time has hidden many of the tales
of her exploits from us. Much lore has been lost, and that which remains seems at times almost contradictory.
It seems likely that different tales of her deeds
have emerged simply because no one clan has an all-encompassing knowledge of the Goddess, and thus almost all keep to those
tales that they know to be correct. All of the myths are true, it is just that they are taken from different points
in the life of the goddess, seen from different perspectives, and this can give the impression that they disagree with other
myths or stories. The loss of much ancient lore has left our knowledge of the
deeds of the Goddess fragmented.