The Wolves of Brandenburg
In Livland there is the following legend: When Christmas Day is over a boy who limps with one leg goes around calling together all those who have yielded to the Evil One — and there is a large number of them — bidding them to follow him. If any one of these resists or hesitates, then a large tall man is also there who hits at them with a whip braided from iron wire and little chains, driving them along with force. It is said that he whips at the people so cruelly that a long time later marks and scars can still be seen on their bodies, and they are in great pain.
As soon as they begin to follow him, it appears as though they lose their former shape and turn into wolves. Several thousand of them come together. Their leader, with the iron whip in his hand, leads the way. When they have been led into a field, they cruelly attack the cattle, ripping every animal to pieces that they can catch, thus doing great damage. However, they are not able to harm humans.
When they come to a body of water, their leader strikes at it with his switch or whip, and it divides, allowing them to cross over with dry feet. After twelve days have passed, they abandon their werewolf form and become humans once again.
- Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Deutsche Sagen (vol. 1) (1816)
The moot is the central political and religious ceremony of the Garou, equivalent to attendance at church mass. Although the moot has several purposes, its main is religious and the entire event is an extended liturgy. As such, participation during the moot requires use of the Garou’s liturgical language, the Garou Tongue.
The Garou Tongue was invented by the Fianna thousands ago and all Garou who want a common language learn to speak it; no Garou is born with instinctive knowledge of the language. The Garou Tongue cannot effectively communicate certain very new human ideas, such as technical terms. It is a common patois that can express limited ideas and details outside its liturgical purpose. The Garou Tongue can generally be spoken in all forms but homid, though it is a bit limited in lupus and glabro. (The human body has difficulty controlling the required scent and body language aspects of the Garou Tongue, and the vocalizations are basically created for the furrier forms. Lupus has some problems with some of the vocalizations, but the body language and scent direction comes naturally to that form.) As such participation in the moot is generally done in the Crinos or Hispo forms. As Crinos is the form of war, the Garou of the Green Wood prefer the moot to be conducted in Hispo. Some Garou also assume Glabro or Lupus form and use partial transformation to achieve the necessary capability to speak the Garou Tongue. This is sometimes done by the moot officials if they need to gesture with their hands or make other use of the bipedal form.
Moots commence with the Opening Howl, followed in order by the Opening of the Inner Sky, the Cracking of the Bone, Stories and Songs, and finally the Revel. This is the traditional order in which things happen, and is generally not deviated from.
Master of Howl: Iron Shield
The Fool: varies
Caller of Wyld: Serpentbraid
Truthcatcher: Gretchen Blessed of the Sun
Talesinger: Blooms at Midnight
Wymrfoe: Open, typically rotated with the honor bestowed by Skullcrusher
Important Objects of the Moot:
- Harmony Flute
- Mead Horn
Where a wilderness sept would howl to summon the local Garou to the sept, the Green Wood is too close to Berlin to withstand repeated wolf howls. Instead, music is played. For most of the sept’s history this was done by members singing traditional German folk songs, but as more musically talented Garou have arrived at the sept, actual music instruments are played. Nowadays, the conducting of the “official” music for the summons is arranged by Blooms at Midnight, a Galliard of the Silver Fangs. At this time, several specific kinfolk are allowed to attend the caern so that additional musical instruments may be played (before the moot actually begins, they are escorted out of the area).
During the summoning, a member of the sept plays one of the sept’s fetishes, a Harmony Flute. Nowadays, this is typically held by Reinhard Greenthumb, Get of Fenris Galliard.
The music plays for around an hour, giving arriving Garou a time to relax and socialize with each other. Many begin horseplay and spar with each other in various fashion, but always in good humor.
THE MOOT ITSELF
Every Moot begins with the Howl, and it is typically led by the Galliards of the Sept. One Galliard serves as the Master of the Howl for the Moot, and he or she leads the songs and chants that begin the Moot. It is the responsibility of the Master of the Howl to summon the other Garou of the Sept to the Moot, and then to perform the Moot Rite that officially opens the Moot.
Iron Shield opens the moot with a prolonged howl that initiates the Moot Rite. As befits a caern of Harmony, the howl is elegant and expressive, the wolf song being quite beautiful and almost a lullaby. If the moot is called for a special reason besides the monthly blessing of the caern, Iron Shield varies the opening howl slightly to indicate the solemn purpose (for example: celebrating a triumph over the Wyrm; judging an accused criminal). After the initial howl, the rest of the sept join in a circle. Only once the circle has formed, may they join their voice to the howl.
After the moot rite is performed, the Master of the Howl continues by reciting the Litany. During this time, another Garou performs the ritual rool of “The Fool” and challenges the tenets recited by the Master of the Howl. After the Fool challenges each point, the Sept then reaffirms its conviction to the Litany by shouting down the Fool and affirming their allegiance to the sacred laws.
In the Sept of the Green Wood, the role of the Fool is played by a variety of Garou so that no one is Fool is for two moots in a row. Nevertheless, the sept has favorites at who they think performs the role best, typically Ragabash. The Fool is typically the first sept role new Garou enact before being allowed to conduct other roles. In recent years, the Old One Skullcrusher has delighted the sept with his rendition. It seems in his elder years, the old Ahroun has a mischievous humor.
After the howl is completed, the Master of the Howl is responsible for the smooth transition from one section of the moot to the next. As such, Iron Shield works extensively with the other holders of the moot offices beforehand to perform the moot efficiently, and he makes effort to keep the moot schedule on track.
OPENING OF THE INNER SKY
During the Inner Sky, the Theurge Serpentbraid takes on the role of Caller of the Wyld. The Caller of the Wyld is responsible for conducting the rites that reach into the Umbra and contact the spirits, and bring their presence to the Moot. The Inner Sky is crucial to the health of the Caern, for if the spirits are not contacted and honored by the Sept, they will begin to lose their connection to the Caern, and the Caern in turn will weaken and eventually grow dormant.
As a totem of wisdom and harmony, Old Whiskers requires a sing song recitation while the Caller of the Wyld performs a libation to the spirit by asking the spirit to bless a horn of mead. After some ceremony, the Caller of the Wyld takes the horn to each member of the sept to sip. Once all members of the sept have done so, the Caller returns to the spawning pool and takes a drink,a nd then pours the remainder of the mead into a patera. The Caller then empties the patera into the waters.
The Caller of the Wyld – Serpentbraid – often performs this portion of the moot rwith the assistance of one or more other Garou (typically holding the various objects before she needs them, or following her with additional mead horns should a Garou greedily consume too much). Such assistants are typically young Garou Theurges as part of their training.
Besides contacting the caern’s totem spirit of Old Whiskers, the Caller of the Wyld typically makes appeals to other local spirits as well (and more rarely, other spirits the sept may have need to summon or appease).
Once the libation is poured, the spirit of Old Whiskers appears and the Garou know the caern spirit has brought his blessing. At this point, the Inner Sky is concluded. Because of the nature of this ritual, the Caller of the Wyld is typically in Glabro form as are her assistants.
CRACKING OF THE BONE
Gretchen Blessed of the Sun, a member of the Philodox auspice, takes on the role of Truthcatcher who conducts the Cracking of the Bone. This portion of the moot begins when the Truthcatcher actually breaks in half the legbone of some animal.
This is the part of the Moot during which the Sept’s business is conducted. Disputes may be settled, policies made, grievances aired, and judgements handed down, all presided over by the Truthcatcher. Most often any Garou who wishes to speak at the Cracking of the Bone will be permitted to do so, though higher ranked Garou are usually deferred to by lower ranking ones.
The Trutchcatcher’s main task is to determine what is actually done during the Cracking of the Bone. Not only does she recognize what Garou are allowed to speak, she decides what business is to be discussed at all. She may refuse to hear complaints, end discussion at any time, or even forbid a Garou from further speaking on this or any matter.
Challenges may be made to assume a sept office (or pack alpha) or simply to resolve a grievance. To honor a spirit of harmony, the challenges are every ritualistic and done with the intent to reconcile the Garou in question so that the two will not feud in the future over whatever caused the grievance. If the Truthcatcher decides the challenger has the right to challenge the other Garou, the second Garou must accept the challenge, and the Truthcatcher then decide what the challenge will be. In the past, the Truthcatcher was usually allowed to decide whether the challenged could determine the form of challenge, or issue one herself. However, the Master of Challenge Strong Counsel usually now oversees all challenges done at the moot (not all challenges are made during moots, those for rank or office are often done outside a moot under the supervision of the Master of Challenge).
Garou may experience any concerns they have regarding the safety of the sept or threats by the Wyrm. Traditionally packs are expected to notify their sept mates of any dangers or information about the Wyrm they have encountered. Typically, this is also the time for petty grievances, disputes, and complaints. Often the complaints issued here will form the basis for future challenges (either at new moots or outside of them).
If a problem is sufficiently important, the Garou will make plans about how to address or solve them. While everyone may contribute or criticize ideas, very rarely will the sept determine a course of action. Instead, the Council of Elders – particularly the Sept Alpha – will determine a plan based on what was heard during the Cracking of the Bone.
This part of the Cracking of the Bone will deal with any trials and punishment of violators of the Litany. Typically this is the only time when Rites of Punishment will be used. Sentences are carried out immediately – there is no appeal.
The Rite of Accomplishment is performed during this part of the Moot. While a Garou may step forward and request it to be done, tradition dictates the Garou asks an elder in rank to perform the Rite before the moot. Therefore, it is the elder Garou who calls out the younger for acknowledgment. The Garou then steps forward while the elder recites his accomplishment. This is accompanied by anyone who desires to speak on behalf of the Garou. Usually only affirmation is done, but more rarely a Garou may dispute the claims by heckling the ritemaster during the Rite and speaks boldly on the shortcomings of the Garou.
For the duration of the Cracking, any Garou who speaks out of turn inappropriately may lose renown (or be otherwise punished by their Septmates). Respect the Bones!
STORIES AND SONGS
During this section of a Moot, presided over by a member of the Galliard auspice called the Talesinger, tales are told of past and present Garou exploits. The old stories of the Sept are remembered, and the newest heroes are honored with howls of recognition and rites of praise. This portion of the moot is typically reserved for new stories of recent accomplishments of the Garou of the sept. However, older stories are done on important anniversaries, or to remind Garou of important legends and lore from the past.
In the Sept of the Green Wood, the first story told is always a Legend of the Garou that highlights the importance of working together or ending grievances for the benefit of Gaia.
In the Green Wood, the current Talesinger is Blooms at Midnight. While any may tell stories during this time, the Talesinger typically only calls upon fellow Galliards for the honor. If a pack does not have a Galliard, another may be choosen. Nevertheless some Garou outside that auspice are known for their storytelling ability. The Philodox Iron Shields is revered for his telling of important Legends of the Garou and past history of the sept. A character who has just undergone the Rite of Accomplishment or risen in rank are allowed the honor to tell their own stories. The sept’s best storyellers are acknowledged to be Blooms at Midnight, Tobias Speaks-the-Word, Iron Shield, Skullcrusher, and Sinews-of-War.
Any Garou who speaks better have a good rating in Charisma + Expression. This is a good time to develop a reputation within a sept, but failed rolls and botches could damage both the storyteller and anyone he seeks to praise.
The Moot finally culminates in the Revel, when the passions of the Garou are fully released and the Caern is recharged with their energy. The stories and songs grow more and more impassioned as the Moot continues until finally, at a signal given by the Talesinger, a member of the Ahroun auspice called the Wyrm Foe changes into the lupus form and, with a mighty howl, leads the Garou in mock-battles or displays of strength. When the Wyrm Foe decides that the Sept has worked itself up into a proper state of passion, he leads the Garou on a wild run to clear the area around the Caern of all enemies.
Traditionally, the Wyrm Foe of the Sept of the Green Wood has been performed by Skullcrusher. However, in recent years instead of changing into lupus and leading the Revel, Skullcrusher tells one last story depicting himself as the Wyrm and egging on Garou to defeat him in battle; the one he allows to do so becomes the Wyrm Foe. Because of the importance of the Revel, Skullcrusher chooses only Garou whom he knows are capable. His preference are Ahrouns, but he occassionally decides on another auspice that has proved themselves in combat.
It is at this time that the built up passions of the Garou are released in the form of Gnosis to the caern totem. The caern must receive at least ten Gnosis during the moot, generally each attendee is expected to donate one Gnosis.
Note: Much of this is adapted from the GAROUMUSH wiki.