Some comments on the Voluval

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.


Reporting in.

Thanks Else.

Anyway, I think there’s a lot of truth to the Voluval. The thing shows one’s potential, and once it’s out for everyone to see, things like all kind of biases and self-fulfilling prophecy ■■■■ come into effect, and, sometimes it’s just really handy to dump all ■■■■ in your life on whoever awarded you with that Mark, like, “it’s not my fault that I’m a lying drug addict that likes to casualy murder people, it’s the goddamn Mark!”


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Take your meds and stop being an idiot, Jade.


Yes ma’am.
Step one: cease posting on the IGS. In progress


Thank you for making this point in particular.

I will volunteer this, and this alone; that which is considered a “bad” Mark by some may be considered an auspicious Mark by others. The Mark is a matter of perception, by no means one of reality.


Dear Lady Rhiannon.

Please forgive me if I am intruding, I still have an Amarr ancestry after all.

I dedicated my life to become a friend of the Matari people after I knew the sufferings of my family’s vitoc-fed victims.
Now they all are sent under republic’a care after my family’s demise during sudden Sansha incursion.
However the Matari that my family wrongfully held often told tales of their traditions, the noble and the ugly.

I heard that certain marks such as the Pale Eye and the Slaver’s Fang will either impose them to lifelong exile to a certain distant colony of Arzad II or impose them into vow of silence which violation results in loss of one’s tongue.

If there are any negative sentiments of the Matari left of me, it is going to be this terrible fate of this negative Voluval marks.

It does relieve me to no bounds that such consequences are lessened as of current times, but please inform me.
Is there any way to lessen the sufferings of such negative mark holders?

Can the Arzad II’s living conditions be improved enough to be secure and livable anyhow?
Can the silence-mark bearers can speak once more in certain conditions?

I am of foreign origin from a civilization who have done horrible, horrible wrongs to your people.

This inquiry is of my personal curiousity and concern, but if you think I am not worthy of this question, I shall rescind.

May the Matari forgive me for the sins of my lineage.

Octavech Raholan
Former Liberal Holder
Freedom Fighter
Proud Apostate


I cannot see why pouring money into communities could not improve their living conditions, nor do I see any particular reason why individuals could not be removed from such - assuming they want the aid, or want to leave, that is, of course. Starkmanir specifically is a hellhole on the warzone, though; how much is realistic to achieve there without completely moving the community is questionable.

Individuals who are facing exile from their localities can usually not return, nor can they speak to those clans enforcing silence. These things are that clan’s call, and it would not be prudent to interfere with it. The whole structure of the Republic is - and was even before the coup - built on the idea that the lowest possible level of law and custom applies. Where it is the question of a clan member’s relations to their clan, and no one else is involved, it would be extremely distasteful for outsiders to try and dictate what they can or cannot do, even when we think a custom barbaric. And if one chooses to bear the consequences one’s own blood’s customs enforce, that is of course commendable, andesh, in accordance to Fate.

But let’s be realistic, it’s a big cluster - if someone banished by a clan/subtribe in some city on Odatrik V goes and starts a new life in another city, on another planet, or on another region competely, who there will even know about their troubles and sentences locally if they do not choose to be open about them? Clan law cannot extend to outside that clan any more than tribal law can extend to outside the tribal lands where it was applied. The ohnesh individual will no doubt have face hardship and prejudice in any case, but as far as enforcing any particular consequence goes, the limitations on a person’s possibility to choose to go against blood and custom are more often financial than legal.

And if they go to the Federation, who the hell there will even give a damn that they have some ‘tattoo’?

That said, individuals banished are rarely so solely based on the Mark, even when they claim so. Tribal criminal law might extend farther than that of blood and spirit, and many well-meaning aid projects have ran into being abused by people who absolutely did deserve their banishment, or worse.


Thank you for your clarifications lady Rhiannon.
I am an outsider and even an Amarr, yes, but I hope I am considered one of the good ones.
Of course that would mean not overstepping my boundaries.

I see a misconception that acts such as the vow of silence is a punishment. It is not. It is a redeeming act that the person in question chooses to undertaken themselves and should be honored.


Maybe I was obscure, but yes, that is also what I tried to say with stressing that bearing the consequences is andesh. The rest of my answer is under the assumption that the individual chooses another path.

I doubt these statistics are easily accessible, but I would be very interested to know the distribution of marks on Minmatar who immigrate to the Federation. I think they would say a great deal about the level of mark based discrimination as cause for immigration.

The vow of silence may not be a punishment, could you be so good as to tell me Mr. Aloga; what is the penalty for breaking that vow of silence?

As I understand it, that is not a question that cannot be answered in a general sense; it depends entirely on the jurisdiction. In some places, it might not be more than the sad and disappointed faces of your aunts. In other places, oath-breakers are cast out.

In many places, the traditional solution to conflicting loyalties - say, if an oath demanded that you be silent, and another demanded that you speak - when one is not clearly a higher duty is suicide, but that might be considered a rather drastic move in this day and age.

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It wasn’t conflicting loyalties I was asking of, and don’t know if that’s an evasion or you’re simply from a more enlightened tribe than those I’ve had cause to speak to of late.
But for the breaking of the vow of silence imposed on those stained by the Slaver’s Fang, in some places is for the offender’s kin to cut out his tongue.

Elsebeth Rhiannon:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, they proved enlightening. I can empathize with the at times difficult nature of expressing the profundity of spiritual beliefs with outsiders who either offend through misconception, or seek only to score cheap propaganda points in ignorance.


Well, over here cutting off tongues is only reserved for certain slavers.


If not, that is only because of ignorance. It is one thing that should be considered in deciding such a case - was there another loyalty that caused the oath to break? If so, was it higher enough that the person can live with it?

If you say so. I will leave commenting on that to clans that practice such customs. It is not my way. (That is, if they so choose. I do not mean to imply they owe explanations to a slaver.)

Im not sure what exactly the point of your overall argument is? No has denied that the practices still exist, only that it is rare and uncommon. How ever to answer your original question, yes, when some one breaks their vow of silence, one of the courses of action is to have their tongue removed. It is to enforce a consequence someone chose when they took their original oath, even if they chicken out later.

Some even choose to have their tongue removed after they take the oath, so that they do not break their vow ever.

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I was not given to understand that marks are chosen.

I would hazard a guess he meant that there are cases you are given two choices: exile or vow of silence. If you choose the vow, you’re expected to keep it and some communities might be sterner in enforcing it.