Elsewhere that I will leave unspecified, there has been some discussion and debate about Voluvals, lately. A lot of confusion and stereotypes were passed on, so I figured maybe I will explain some things from my own point of view.
The Voluval, for those readers who are unaware of this custom, is a very important Minmatar ritual - you could say the Minmatar ritual. If one thing exists we are all almost all familiar with, this would be it.
We Matari are often bashed about how much stock we put on the Mark. The stereotypical holovid Bad Marks in international movies - the tragic hired gun who was banished from their home at an early age, the serial killer possessed by an Evil Spirit, the innocent youth saved by the brave and dashing hero from some filthy slum after their kin cast them out - no doubt have an effect on this. As do Bad Marks who have actually done bad things but publicly attribute their punishment to the Mark, not their deeds.
As Arrendis said elsewhere, also my impression is that the attitudes towards bad marks were tamer in my youth than in that of my parents. In civilized places, while a bad mark might be an issue for say succession, marriage prospects, or getting into the school of your dreams, outright banishment is rare, and honor killings over a mere Mark are a stuff of legends. I am not saying it does not still happen - but it is not the norm. My hunch is that with the “tribal” revivalism, attitudes are getting harsher again in many places. I hope I am wrong.
In Sundsele, where I come from, while you might have been born to a clan, you are not a member of the tribe if you do not have your Mark. Someone without a Mark we regard either a child, or a foreigner. An Unmarked Youth cannot sign contracts in their own name, they cannot own property or earn money on tribal lands alone, they cannot speak in adult gatherings uninvited; once they have their Mark they can do all these things, even if still young. Conversely, once Marked, you are ours - even if you commit crimes, they are ours to prosecute and punish. The Voluval is, thus, a step with huge legal implications.
I of course do not know any more than the next person how the Voluval works exactly, and I have no right or wish to pry into it. I do not say it is not a spiritual ritual. I do not think the details are important, really. How I think of it is, it is basically an aptitude test.
People are different. This is a fact. Even two youth born to the same clan on the same day will not be the same on their first full year, and they will definitely not be the same when they go to school. We have different genetic makeup, we have different personalities, we are differently equipped to control ourselves. I believe that the Voluval takes these things, measures us (our spirit, if you wish), and what we see on our skin is an indication of what it sees.
Now, severely punishing someone because of they failed an aptitude test would be silly. Sometimes people fail a test or another in their youth, and still become great things. Maybe they heed the warning. Maybe they learn later, and compensate for whatever problems they had with the test. Just the same way, sometimes people are worthy to receive a prestigious Mark, even one of the most revered ones, and fail in their tasks or die before fulfilling that destiny, but that does not mean the Mark did not mean anything.
I do not see Fate as laying us a fixed path of events that will happen no matter what. Fate walks on twisted paths, and Luck is her twin. Fate is about things inherent you, your situation’s unmutable facts, and your true being that you cannot avoid. Fate does not tell you what to do; she tells you the ways of doing that work for you.
I am open to questions.
Word of warning about etiquette, though: while it is not taboo to talk about these matters and volunteer information out of one’s own initiative like I do here, in general many Minmatar consider spiritual beliefs a deeply private matter. “Prying” for information about someone’s actual beliefs beyond what they volunteer, or discussing those of a third party in front of someone they have not revealed their deepest thoughts themselves, is considered extremely rude by many.