The Calendar and Time

The names of the months have changed completely.  Two of the Warriors of Love month names (Cornsprout and Swellbelly) refer to the agricultural year.  Two more refer to the length of light and darkness (Litnight and Blinkday).  The remainder refer to the weather.

Warriors of Love month names

Month names used by the Old Time Blasphemers

Chillflurry

January

Iceflake

February

Windrush

March

Drizzlemoon

April

Cornsprout

May

Litnight

June

Glarehaze

July

Thunderhead

August

Swellbelly

September

Mistream

October

Dankfog

November

Blinkday

December

A memory of Chillflurry from Daisy:

“Better to keep to a steady pace, Sally.  Otherwise, we’ll slip, and likely end up in the tarn.”

“Yeah, I know.  We have hills and little lakes in Wales… not so very different from this.  Out hiking with my friends, I did once fall in the water.  Fortunately, it was summer.”

“The countryside wasn’t much like this place, but I once landed in the brickfields pond without meaning to.”

“Brickfields, Daisy?”

“Clay workings, to make bricks.  It leaves some steep banks, and – at the bottom – the clay won’t allow the water to escape.”

“Leaving a pond.  I hope it was summer when you accidentally hit the water.”

“No, it wasn’t.  It was Chillflurry, and I broke the pond ice.”

There are four great festivals during the year, which seem universally acknowledged.

Season

Month

Festival

Spring

Drizzlemoon

Lifenbud

Summer

Litnight

Midsummer

Autumn

Mistream

Plentitude

Winter

Blinkday

Solstice

A mention of Lifenbud from Jane:

“Wonder what we’ll do for Lifenbud,” I said, changing the subject.

It was now spring, a season for giving birth – to their young for animals, and to offensives for the army.  We were on our way to newly-conquered Lundin to oversee the distribution of prizes awarded to soldiers.  The invasion was a development I’d expected since early autumn, yet surprised me when the generals launched their attack.  Amongst the unlikely-seeming aspects had been Mum hearing of it before I did.  Returning from work one evening, I found Mum standing with her back turned to a table scattered with incomplete Lifenbud decorations.  On the sideboard, the honeycake paste rabbit, adorning the seasonal cake, squatted but half-formed.  In place of the activity I’d expected to see, Mum folded a newssheet.

The days of the week, likewise have changed.

Warriors of Love day names

Day names used by the Old Time Blasphemers

Selday

Monday

Sorday

Tuesday

Comday

Wednesday

Ruday

Thursday

Valday

Friday

Olday

Saturday

Briday

Sunday

In the time of The Warriors of Love, the original significance of these names seems to have been forgotten.  It may be that the name of Briday once referred to the brightness of the sun, but it has become a traditional day for weddings, taken to mean brides’ day.

Selday is envisaged in Margaret Again:

“I sincerely hope that you are sorry.  If you are not, be sure that I have the means to instil sorrow.  Now, let us drop the subject.  You will be at liberty for the next two and half days, but I will expect you at your desk at the usual time on Selday morning – is that perfectly clear?”

The division of the day into AM and PM has been abandoned for the fourfold division we find in Daisy’s Day.

Bc

Bella’s country

from dawn to noon

Mr

Mata’s realm

from noon to sunset

Pd

Phoebe’s domain

from sunset to midnight

Sq

Slia’s queendom

from midnight to dawn

These are named after four goddesses:

Bella: morning and spring.

Mata: afternoon and summer.

Phoebe: evening and autumn.

Slia: night and winter.

These goddesses also have other associations, as seen with Slia in this passage from Daisy.

Other girls, who evidently shared the kitchen, appeared – one by one. Our contemplative hour at an end, Sally rinsed the tea mugs, returning them to an overhead cupboard. She nodded to me, which I interpreted as a signal to depart. Stooping, I took the lantern from the floor. My friend patted a pouch at her waist, jingling the lock picks. Nobody but me seemed to take note of the almost musical sound. Smiling at the company, raising our hands in valediction, we slipped from the room. In another minute, we descended the staircase, more quietly than usual. Slia, as goddess of stealth and subterfuge, seemed to have already slipped her mantle upon us.

“This is a doubtful business,” Sally whispered to me, as we crossed a courtyard. “Perhaps we should pray.”

“I’m not a very religious person,” I replied. “In any case, the only goddess image I have is the one my genny gave me… a martial goddess… and she doesn’t seem…”

“No, Daisy, this is work for Slia, and I just happen to have…” Reaching down the front of her jersey, she withdrew an image on a slender chain, “…and here she is…”

“Just happen to have her? I can’t imagine your mum, or your genny…”

“There’s no reason why they shouldn’t. Slia’s not just mistress of stealth and subterfuge, but one of the four quarterly goddesses. She isn’t the most comfortable of them, of course – queen of winter, night and the monthly bleeding. But my birthday is Chillflurry the Eighteenth: deep in Slia’s queendom. I think that I was born at night, too. All the same, you’re right – my parents didn’t give me the image. I bought her myself.”

“Images, and cheese from your homeland, your allowance stretches…”

“Image in the singular, and she wasn’t so very expensive. And I’ve saved a bit of money in not buying a candy-striped rabbit.”

“Touché! But, however religious you may be, Sally, I wonder a bit at Slia. As you say, she’s an uncomfortable goddess. I suppose you must have chosen her on account of when you were born.”

Partly, but it was also Liz saying that I’d been chosen by the goddesses for the practical skills course. I thought: which goddesses? And one name sprang to mind. I maybe need her continued protection.”

“We both could do with her protection tonight.”

“Let’s pray, then.”

Unfastening the chain from her neck, Sally placed the goddess upon her outstretched right palm. Reaching out, I clasped her hand, and the goddess within. She kissed the back of my hand gently; I placed my lips on her fingers. We paused for breath before beginning.

“Slia,” I murmured, “placing you in our hands, we place ourselves in your care.  Please be merciful.”

“Goddess, please,” Sally said, “be with us tonight, and do not let the hand of retribution fall upon us.  Although this is an unlawful enterprise, it is not a blasphemous one.  We seek to purify my friend, Daisy, in pursuing to its limit her obsession with a vain and spiteful girl.  Smile upon us, for we move in stealth to no evil end.  So be it, goddess.”

Although leaving them loosely joined, we opened our hands – to reveal the goddess, sparkling slightly as moonlight caught her earthly form.  First Sally, then I, kissed the image.  My friend fastened the chain about her neck once more, this time allowing the goddess to dangle outside her jersey.  Hand in hand, we stepped to the back door of University House.  There, we found a security guard turning the lock.  As she straightened, I recognised her as the person who had questioned me the day after my escapade with Heather, Bea and Nerys.

“Hello,” the guard said, “we’ve met before, haven’t we?”

“Yes, at the start of term.  I was one of Olivia Harkness’ guests, and…”

“I remember.  We never did get to the bottom of that business.”

“Well, you said yourself that there was no great harm done.”

“No, there wasn’t, young lady… but all the same…”

“Are you,” Sally asked the guard, relieving me of the conversation, “pretty well finished for tonight?”

“Not in the least.  I’ve a hard night ahead,” the guard winked, “with the girls in the gatehouse.”

“Keeping us safe,” Sally continued.  “I know all about that – my mother’s a constable.”

“By your accent, I’d guess she doesn’t protect the folk of Berenice.”

“No, she’s in Wales.”

“Splendid.  We’re all one Empire.  But I should be getting on.  Don’t want the girls sending out a search party for me.”

The security guard sauntered away without looking back in our direction.  Once the official turned the corner, Sally handed me a tinderbox, which I clicked at the lantern.  It flared brightly.  Reducing the aperture, I trained the light on my friend, already plying a pick.  A moment later, the lock clicked open, and we were in the dim corridor beyond.  Sally closed the door behind us.  We paused to change into dancing pumps.

“Well,” Sally said softly, the laces tied, “it looks as though Slia has favoured us… so far, at least.”

“Yes,” I agreed, “if the guard had locked up a few minutes later, or we’d been a tad earlier…”

“Quite.  Be ready to close the lantern, if anyone comes.”