“Her eyes were like pools of darkness and her hair was a dark cloud of perfume and as fine as silk. I saw her dance but once and knew she was a goddess for no mortal woman shines like all the stars in the heavens and moves with unearthly grace. I saw her but once and knew I must travel down every road and through every forest and over every mountain to see her just once more. Ah, Syeira Rartibal, I know not your name. But your eyes burned into my soul.” – From the Song of the Lungo Drom, a Gypsy Origin Tale
Vanaria is the goddess of gypsies, dancing, dueling, diplomacy and lust.
Titles: The Veiled Dancer, Vanaria Silver-Tongue, Queen of the Lungo Drom, Syeira Rartibal
Holy Animal: Cats, as they capture Vanaria’s capriciousness, gracefulness, curiosity, playfulness, and temper.
Vanaria is the daughter of Aravel and sister of Teel. Teel was born of Aravel’s song- joyous and free and then Vanaria sprang from her footsteps, swirling into being, inspired by the beauty of divine music. She does not resent being the younger of the Twain because she loves her brother so much and nothing makes her happier than hearing his songs. Teel leads his sister into mischief (which she well enjoys) but she is always able to convince others of her innocence and smooth over any hurt feelings or insults her brother has caused with her quick wit and her charming silver tongue.
Vanaria is beautiful. She has long dark hair and striking dark eyes framed by long eyelashes. The sight of Vanaria is enough to make bards weep at her beauty and cause anyone who glimpses her to desire her and be filled with pangs of longing. Vanaria is the goddess of lust, not because of her behavior, but because she is cursed to inspire it in others. Belendor lusted after Vanaria in secret for many years and when Teel learned of this and mocked him with song Belendor became enraged. In his rage, he decided if Vanaria wouldn’t love him, she would never be loved. So he cursed her to inspire nothing but lust with her beauty, destroying any chance she would ever know true love.
Vanaria’s love of dance, silver tongue, and carefree nature have caused the gypsies of all the lands to claim her for their own. Some legends say that Vanaria was the inspiration for the wandering nature of the gypsies. Long ago, the first of them set out on the long road, the Lungo Drom, hoping to once again find the beautiful woman who had danced at his fire the night before. They call her Syeira Rartibal, Dark Haired Princess, and every wagon has a small shrine that honors her. The gypsies reverence of their queen protects them from her curse. Her true followers are overcome with awe at her beauty rather than lust and are very protective of her, fighting duels whether with blade or with sharp wit and silver tongue, with any who besmirch her honor or say lewd things about her. This protectiveness and her own love of swordplay has made her the patroness of duelists, particularly those who are spellblades.
Vanaria is enigmatic and mysterious. She tends to be good-spirited and kind, but mischievous. She prefers Aranayan and the good powers but like her brother, she has a rebellious streak and hates the idea of actually swearing allegiance to another. Where Teel goes, Vanaria follows, always looking to her slightly older brother for advice and guidance, so if Teel were to swear to a power, Vanaria would as well.
Dancers, duelists, and diplomats all pay lip service to Vanaria hoping to curry her favor and gain some small measure of her talent for themselves. Gypsies are her most devout and loyal followers and it is very rare for anyone not gypsy born (or raised if adopted) to truly revere the Veiled Dancer. Some bards, particularly dancers, also are devoted to Vanaria as they feel she is the exemplar of their craft. She has no organized clergy and no true temples, just the shrines that every gypsy family maintains in her honor.
Those who are stricken by lust occasionally offer prayers to Vanaria for relief, whether she caused it or whether they lust after a mortal they can not have. On occasion, this draws Belendor’s displeasure and the lust-stricken mortal finds their life unravel, or that which they cherish most destroyed.
Vanaria’s rare priests are often called whirling dervishes. They dance for enlightenment and for death. They never utter a word of prayer in her name, they dance, spinning in endless circles with their arms held aloft seeking wisdom and a way to break Belendor’s curse. They are terrors on a battlefield, whirling with blades in hand delivering death with each strike. Many of them spend their lives hunting followers of Belendor and killing them, either in battle or by murdering them. To them, Belendor’s followers must pay for their Lord’s curses and transgressions against their beloved Queen and “fighting fair” or being honorable is out of the question.
Approbation and Displeasure:
Actions/ideas that please Vanaria:
- Dance, whether skilled or unskilled, Vanaria appreciates those who are moved to dance by music
- Music that inspires dance. Truly blessed is the musician who weaves a tune that moves the Veiled Dancer to visit just so she can dance to the song.
- Duels, particularly those fought for to protect the honor of an innocent woman.
- Successful negotiations, whether small marketplace deals or treaties made between great nations.
- Minor mischief, nothing harmful, but simple playful mischief that causes laughter and delight
- Showing kindness to gypsies
- Fortune telling
Actions/ideas that displease Vanaria (and may result in loss of magical abilities):
- Destroying a happy, loving marriage or relationship
- Destructive lust, particularly after women who do not want the attention . Belendor’s curse is her one and only woe.
- Intentional harm or murder of Gypsies. Vanaria cares deeply for her people and is angered when they are harmed or suffer.
- Angry, miserable people who spread sadness and discord.
- Failing to properly care for a blade. Vanaria is not often remembered for her skill at swordplay but she holds swords to be amongst her sacred objects
- Failing to dance when moved by music to do so
- Showing kindness to a follower of Belendor.
Vanaria is mercurial and whimsical. Not all of the aforementioned actions always please or displease her. She is a difficult goddess to follow at times as her displeasure can be swift and confusing.
Holy Places and Holy Days
Every night is sacred to Vanaria as long as there is a fire to dance around and music being played for a gathering of people. And nowhere is more sacred than a fire in a camp of gypsies with circled wagons. Her followers celebrate every occasion that provokes dance and every successful negotiation, duel, and the birth of every gypsy baby. Her followers celebrate the death of every follower of Belendor that they slay with dance and and laughter, often spitting upon their fallen foes and mocking them with taunts of impotence and derisive scorn.
Vanarians also celebrate the day that Trimond was founded, as it is where her followers congregate. This was done in May, and is celebrated by dancing, feasting, dueling, and making deals. This day is known as “Reen Dzési”
The Gypsies are secretive about the history of their Queen. She is never referred to as “Mother” by any gypsies, though many outsiders think that the gypsies are her children. They maintain that their beloved queen is chaste and pure, cursed never to find love by Belendor, and that their affinity for song comes from Teel who has loved many young gypsy women and that their affinity for dance comes from their Queen, who was moved to dance by the song that became Teel.
Correct Worship and Rites/Rituals/Requirements
Followers of Vanaria typically engage in:
- Aiding gypsies in any way
- Performing a magic ritual using only dance and not speaking a word
- Offering thanks to Teel for the beautiful music that inspired your dance
- Overseeing negotiations or helping resolve minor conflict with words instead of blades
- Killing followers of Belendor, particularly his priests, and rejoicing in their deaths
- Dancing endlessly, hoping to receive enlightenment or visions from Vanaria
- Perfecting one’s skills with a blade