October 16th, 2011

Spiritual Meanings/Uses for Plants

I'm trying to find any spiritual meanings attributed to plants (not necessarily flowering ones) that could be found in prairies to make a symbolically significant perfume for a bride to wear to her wedding.

The setting of my story is its own universe, though it has a diverse climate/evironment like Earth. The town the bride is from has a climate/environment much like the Kansas, USA area. As for technologically, they would be similar to approaching-the-Renaissance. The society is socially matriarchal, and their feminine holy medium is potion/medicine making. The things that the woman's perfume represent will set the tone for the whole rest of her marriage, and her potion-maker gets most of her ingredients from the prairies. Animals and insects can be used to, but I don't think they'd be very aromatically pleasing...

I tried searching "spiritual meanings for plants" "prairie plants" (just to get some names of things and then to look up spiritual significance seperately) "spiritual meanings for flowers" (but that mostly turned up stuff about what kind of flowers to get for your honey type of things) "spiritual meanings for prairie plants" "aromatherapy" and "spiritual uses for herbs" (which was the most helpful, but most of the results only focused on things that would help with prophecy/dreams).

I'm just looking for any herbs/plants/etc from prairies that symbolize virtue/luck/etc and, as a bonus, possibly smell good.
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Altai Wedding Customs

Context: A Tolkien-verse fanfic, but with several original characters from a canonically fairly undescribed group (the Mithrim Sindar of the First Age prior to the return of the Noldor). I was hoping to include information from real-world cultures which may have led a similar lifestyle (a mountain-based nomadic or semi-nomadic subsistence-style clan culture) for greater depth and some feeling of authenticity.

Question: My research for the above criteria brought up the Altai ethnic group (preferably the Northern subgroups before Russian colonization and mission), and I have a fairly solid overview on shamanism/tengerism/animism to work with, but what my research falls rather short on are customs and traditions concerned with weddings and marriage. I found exogamy as a prevalent form, great awareness of kinships over several generations, incest taboos, but very little on other wedding criteria, customs and traditions. Would political marriages to invaders be permitted, what would a wedding ceremony look like in the first place, what social expectations would be had of wife and husband?

Research: I googled any number of combinations of the following; Altai wedding customs, Altai ethnic wedding, Altai marriage, Altai social customs, Altai family life, Altai ceremonies and similar terms, but mostly seem to hit up Russian dating sides, and while there appear to be a few journal articles on the topic either on Google Scholar or Books, most are inaccessible to me.

It's probably also worth noting that 100% accuracy are not necessary since the information will be fitted into a Tolkien framework (Eru or Manwe instead of Tengri, a Cuiviénen origin myth) and undergo some distortion, but I'd appreciate pointers for additional search terms or sources, or just plain answers. Thank you.
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US Army officers' Mess dinner

I hope someone can help me with their experience of the scenario. The setting is a Mess dinner in the Officers' Mess in Fort Bragg.

Now, while I have been to numerous British Mess functions, I don't dare to assume that they are the same as US ones (certainly no toast to the Queen with Sherry... ) but the characters are at the dinner, with one being a Mess member, the other being their guest/partner.

This is not something I could find on Google, because what I am looking for is some description of how the evening would go: drinks first while mingling? Sit down dinner with speeches first? Evening entertainment?

Any specific rules Mess members and/or guests have to adhere to? I bet there are just like in Britain, but what are they?

Ladies' dresses who are guests: long evening length to go with partners' Mess dress?

Even if I just got an overview how the evening pans out would be enormously helpful. The rest, well, that's what a writer's imagination is for. ;-)