Laws, rituals and codes of Initiates

 

At that moment I suddenly realised I was ringed by Initiates.

Their codes forbade them to kill but I knew that they hired men of other castes for this purpose. Priest Kings of Gor, page 297

The initiates are an almost universal, well-organized, industrious caste. They have many monasteries, holy places and temples. An initiate may often travel for hundreds of pasangs, and, each night, find himself in a house of initiates. They regard themselves as the highest caste, and in many cities, are so regarded generally. There is often a tension between them and the civil authorities, for each regards himself as supreme in matters of policy and law for their district. The initiates have their own laws, and courts, and certain of them are well versed in the laws of the initiates. Their education, generally, is of little obvious practical value, with its attention to authorized exegeses of dubious, difficult texts, purporting to be revelations of Priest-Kings, the details and observances of their own calendars, their interminable involved rituals and so on, but paradoxically, this sort of learning, impractical though it seems, has a subtle practical aspect. It tends to bind initiates together, making them interdependent, and muchly different from common men. It sets them apart, and makes them feel important and wise, and specially privileged. There are many texts, of course, which are secret to the caste, and not even available to scholars generally. In these it is rumoured there are marvellous spells and mighty magic, particularly if read backwards on certain feast days. Whereas initiates tend not to be taken with great seriousness by the high castes, or the more intelligent members of the population, except in matters of political alliance, their teachings and purported ability to intercede with Priest-Kings, and further the welfare of their adherents, is taken with great seriousness by many of the lower castes. And many men, who suspect that the initiates, in their claims and pretensions, are frauds, will nonetheless avoid coming into conflict with the caste. This is particularly true of civil leaders who do not wish the power of the initiates to turn the lower castes against them. And, after all, who knows much of Priest-Kings, other than the obvious fact that they exist. The invisible barrier about the Sardar is evidence of that, and the policing, by flame death, of illegal weapons and inventions. The Gorean knows that there are Priest-Kings. He does not, of course, know their nature. That is where the role of the initiates becomes most powerful, The Gorean knows there are Priest-Kings, whoever or whatever they maybe. He is also confronted with a socially and economically powerful caste that pretends to be able to intermediate between Priest-Kings and common folk. What if some of the claims of Initiates should be correct? What if they do have influence with Priest-Kings? Marauders of Gor, page 28,29

Incidentally, it is a teaching of the initiates that only initiates can obtain eternal life. The regimen for doing this has something to do with learning mathematics, and with avoiding the impurities of meat and beans. This particular teaching of the initiates, it is interesting to note, is that least taken seriously by the general population. The Gorean feeling generally is that there is no reason why initiates or only initiates, should live forever. Initiates, though often feared by lower castes, are also regarded as being a bit odd, and often figure in common, derisive jokes. No female, incidentally, may become an Initiate. It is a consequence, thusly, that no female can obtain eternal life. I have often thought that the Initiates, if somewhat more clever, could have a much greater power than they possess on Gor. For example, if they could fuse their superstitions and lore, and myths, with a genuine moral message of one sort or another, they might appeal more seriously to the general population: if they spoke more sense people would be less sensitive to, or disturbed by, the nonsense; further, they should teach that all Goreans might, by following their rituals, obtain eternal life; that would broaden the appeal of their message, and subtly utilise the fear of death to further their projects; lastly, they should make greater appeal to women than they do, for, in most Gorean cities, women, of one sort or another, care for and instruct the children in the crucial first years. That would be the time to imprint them, while innocent and trusting, at the motherís or nurseís knee, with superstitions which might, in simpler brains, subtly control then the length of their lives. So simple an adjustment as the promise of eternal life to women who behaved in accordance with their teachings, instructing the young and so on, might have much effect. But the initiates, like many Gorean castes, were tradition bound. Besides, they were quite powerful as it was. Most Goreans took with some seriousness their claim to be able to placate and influence Priest-Kings. That was more than they needed for considerable power. Marauders of Gor, page 29, 30

The only Gorean caste which, as far as I know, officially believes in an afterlife is that of the Initiates, and they believe in it, it seems, only for themselves, and seem to believe it is connected with such things as the performance of secret rites, the acquisition of secret knowledges, mostly mathematical, and the avoidance of certain foods. Initiates commonly wear white and have their heads shaved. They also, supposedly, and perhaps actually, on the whole, abstain from alcohol and women. They count as one of the five high castes, the others being the Physicians, Scribes, Builders and Warriors. In some cities they are quite powerful, in others it seems they are largely peripheral to the life of the community. I have never been in one of these temples. Slaves, like other animals, are not allowed within. It is felt they would defile such places. They may wait, however, in special, small, walled areas outside the temples, usually at the back or sides, where their presence will not prove distractive or offensive to free persons. I have looked within some of these temples, from the street, through great opened doors, or through the open colonnades, such temples being roofed, but not walled, upon occasion. Some are lavishly decorated, even ornately; others seem very austere. It depends on the city, I suppose, or the tastes of the community of Initiates, those who care for the temples, in a given place. The Chief Initiate of Ar claims to be chief of all the Initiates of all the cities, but the other Chief Initiates, in the other cities, do not, it seems, at least on the whole, acknowledge this claim. I have gathered that in these temples there are no chairs or pews, or such, unless for Initiates near the altars. Goreans perform their rites, recite their prayers, and such, standing. The Gorean tends to regard Priest-Kings not so much as his masters as his potential allies, who might, if he is lucky, be flattered, wooed with gifts, and such. On the high altar in each temple there is supposedly a large, golden circle, the symbol of Priest-Kings, a symbol of eternity, of a thing without beginning or end. The "sign of the Priest-Kings," similarly, is made with a closed, circular motion. The teachings of the Initiates, their recommendations, exhortations, and such, seem to b taken most seriously by the lower castes. Dancer of Gor, page 279, 280

A free woman drew back her robes, hastily, frightened, lest they touch an Initiate. It is forbidden for Initiates to touch women, and, of course, for women to touch them. Initiates also avoid meat and beans. A good deal of time, I gather, is devoted to sacrifices, services, chants, prayers, and the perusal of mystic lore. By means of the study of mathematics they attempt to purify themselves. Magicians of Gor, page 17

I did not scorn the lad for noticing her. If anything, I was pleased that he had. It made him seem a little more human. To be sure, I supposed that he had best watch his step. Too, she had best watch hers. Though she was now a free woman, she was a stripped captive, and would doubtless soon be slave. If he became involved with her I had little doubt that it would not be he, but it would be she, particularly if she were a slave, who would be found at fault. In such a case I do not think any of her sisters in bondage would envy her. But perhaps he would leave the case before it was too late, if it were not already too late, before, say, he took his final vows, or performed whatever act or acts t might be by means of which his entry into the caste might be effected. Perhaps, before he became much older, he would come to understand that there were two sexes, really, and that they are formed by nature, each in its own way, for the other. The caste of Initiates, incidentally, provides a socially acceptable refuge for men who may not wish, for one reason or another, to relate to women. It is probably a kindness for a society to provide mercies of this sort. This observation is not intended to reflect on the caste as a whole. It is my surmise, incidentally, that the great majority of Initiates, for better or for worse, abide by, and respect, the regulations of their caste. Witness of Gor, page 427, 428