I am a MummerMan because of my voice. I didn’t choose this work. It’s sort of an assignment that a young man can get if he has the right voice at the time of HeManHood, which I obviously did. I never know if it is day’s light or night’s darkness outside in the natural world. Most of my time is working down below in one of the underearth shrines. I probably work more than anyone around here with the possible exception of the Healer. I mean everyone has their reason for coming down here, but — Oh, my honored ancestors! There should be some kind of schedule invented.
The underearth shrine is a sacred place of communion. Visiting within the very substance of the Earth Mother is an intimate experience that cannot be taken lightly. The bones of our ancestors are kept in them; the air quakes in them, normal time does not exist in them. I don’t know exactly how to explain to you. It is part of the symmetry of being that the cycle of life and death and regeneration continues for eternity. There are rituals and traditions that are a very deep part of our culture.
Generally, each cluster of temples has one underearth shrine to service the surroundings. They are cut from the livestone. If you don’t already know about this stone, it was once alive in the form of sea creatures who were crushed. In some places on the land near the sea, the softer parts of stone have been worn away by the wind and a whole shell comes out like some dough you could have flattened in your hand. Well, that’s livestone and we have quite a lot of it. Our builders know how to work it very finely.
So. I will tell you, because we are friends. Here, we MummerMen guide the transition rituals and dream training in the underearth shrines with our voices and sometimes other devices. We are seldom seen in the daylight and largely stay with each other’s company instead of mixing in with the community. Of course, by necessity the Temple Ladies are quite close with us. We understand each other very well.
You see, the underearth shrines have powers. They are a bit different from the temples because of being down within the earth, I suppose. We MummerMen have mastered skills by which we can make the livestone respond in a most mystical way. That’s all I’m going to tell you for now. It can be a terribly frightening experience for someone who doesn’t understand the context.
Two darks passed, some visitors came here from the larger lands toward the mountains. These visitors — you can know from what they ask that they still need to learn some respect for context. And no MummerMan is going to spend his breath in their company, I can assure you. Such a thing will not even be suggested. The door is closed. The conversation is ended. Full stop. No.
If we speak again, I will tell you what we have done with those visitors.