by Dr. Sir John Coates, KOS
The early weeks of 2007 saw those of us in the Order re-examining many of our basic tenets. There were many questions asked at the first Gather of the year. "Why do we do things THIS way?" "Is there any reason NOT to do things this other way?" "What can we do to make THAT better?" Questions such as these were raised on several of the core ideas and traditional practices of Selohaar. This day of self-examination was not pessimistic in nature. The positive attitudes and creative energy of those in attendance was like nothing I'd experienced at a Gather in quite a long time. Many of us expressed the opinion that the weather on that cold February day was a surprisingly sharp contrast to the atmosphere inside the Manor. It was my greatest hope that this creative spark and positivity would not just flare up at one Gather and then die out. My wish was granted. This energy has continued in an unprecedented flow of new ideas and a willingness to reappraise old concepts.
One aspect of the Order that we put under the microscope that day was our Selohaar magical lore - the Carcosan Mythos. The story of Vorthr, Verena and Volnar was crafted almost a quarter of a century ago by Sir Carl with input from Sir Christian (subsequent contributions were made to the character of Verena in the late 1980's). The story had a more barbarian than Arthurian vibe and it was set in post-Ice Age Rhode Island. There is nothing wrong with the tale of Vorthr per se, or the things that inspired its creation for that matter. Our founding Knights are not the first to be influenced by popular books and movies. The idyllic New England landscape has captured the imagination of many authors and continues to do so today. This story is part of the foundation of the Order; however, the question was asked whether this mythos and these characters had stood the test of time. The Order has evolved. We have changed as individuals over the years. Does the mythos still resonate with Selohaar?
Our garb, weapons, mysticism, and our basic chivalric ideals all have a Medieval and European flavor to them. The traditional mythos of Selohaar does not quite fit with this. The story as it stands today was suited for what we were doing during the early years of the Order but again, does it still work today? The general consensus was that the story would benefit from being updated. Our mythos should correlate with the trappings and overall theme of Selohaar. Once this was decided the only thing that remained was how to best accomplish an update without invalidating the original writings. Adopting known characters like Arthur would be relatively easy but it would also detract from the integrity of our previous work. Besides which the story of Arthur is something of a cautionary tale that I for one would not wish to emulate.
So it was agreed that retaining the original character archetypes but changing the setting to something more in keeping with an Arthurian style would be the best course of action. This, however, led to another excellent question. Why do we know almost nothing about Volnar? He represents one third of the triquetra that we use as a symbol of the Order. Vorthr and Verena were pretty well fleshed out by the original mythos and subsequent stories - but what about Volnar? Of all the Selohaar Regalia, the Crown is perhaps the most recognizable and yet we know much more about the archetypes representing the Sword and the Grail. I believe that Vorthr and Verena were created and then elaborated on by those who most closely identified with those characters at that time. One of the goals of the update must be to more thoroughly develop the character and deeds of Volnar.
Throughout the first half of the year, several of us have been
emailing each other and spitballing ideas to Sir Christian. This summer Sir
Christian formally set the task of expanding the Selohaar mythos to Lord Rob,
Lord Chris and Lady Catriona, under the supervision of yours truly. I wholeheartedly
welcome the opportunity to contribute to the history of the Order and am honored
to build on the foundation set by Sir Carl. For the rest of the team, this
could potentially be a Quest unlike anything undertaken by any previous junior
members. They have been entrusted with a great responsibility and I am absolutely
certain that they are up to the task. Each of them has strengths and expertise
that I believe will bring a new dimension to the Selohaar mythos. We have
only begun this journey and yet I can see even their initial ideas taking
the Order down new roads. From what I can see so far, these are roads that
we have not only never before traveled, but in actuality never knew existed.