The Megana are the only nation of Bayë with matriarchal customs. This does not have a biological cause behind it, as the zuna matriarchal traditions do (in that their females are the more physically dominant and stronger sex), but rather this developed as a backlash to ancient misogyny of the Megana. This value reversed, and the liberation of females eventually became adoration and power of females, which in many cases led to females holding superior positions in government and commanding a lot of influence in social groups. In modern times, females generally control more aspects of the society than males, though their matriarchy is far less violent and extreme than that of the Tosi.
The Megana are the only Bayën group to promote relatively strict monogamy. It is generally thought of as the woman‘s prerogative to go looking for a mate, while males are supposed to present themselves as appealing but in a much more indirect and subtle way. Marriage rituals are extremely minimal, consisting formally of the Kast Pound, which is an oath taken by both parties in the presence of a close friend or relative, during which the two people hold their fist to the other‘s whilst making direct eye contact. One may break the Kast Pound, but to do so is very difficult and hastexa, or a legitimate reason, must be given for justifying the break. Outside of the obligations one has to a spouse, sexual promiscuity is generally accepted, though dishonesty is generally not, and it is almost expected that one would react with great wrath in response to romantic infidelity. Such a wrath is considered justified, and for this reason, a lot of violence related to such issues is largely accepted by the populace and ignored by the law.
Megana political systems are usually short-lived. Rebellions are frequent, and full revolutions occur about once every three thousand years, which is considered very frequent for Bayë. Currently they have an absolute monarchy under Limmir, who is the daughter of the former republican prime minister, Histaxe. Limmir led a contrafaction against her father, whom she believed was ineffectual and leading the Megana into ruin because of his extravagant governmental spending for foreign military causes. Thus Limmir’s rule has removed a lot of power from the offensive military groups and placed more importance on domestic defense and creating sociopolitical stability. Such an endeavor has rarely been held by any Megana leader, since political upheaval and unrest is so basic to the public environment of the Megana cities. In the past century before Limmir’s ascent to power, one main cause of serious chaos was the mother of Limmir herself, Ekasta. Ekasta was very powerful amongst the masses and some considered her more influential than Histaxe himself. Ekasta created something like a cult around herself, claiming large portions of certain cities to hold her meetings with followers and forces all others out. She was infamous for her episodes of apparent psychosis, and she had a habit of going into trances for days on end, muttering and twitching, proclaiming she saw visions of the future. It was thought that these proclamations of precognition were a lot of what made her so appealing to the masses; the future was as a rule uncertain for the Megana, so chaotic had their past been, and this promise of knowledge of the future gave many Megana some sense of trust, even in such a clearly unstable woman. Ekasta also attempted several times to assassinate Histaxe, who had apparently at one time been her mate, as she had Limmir by him. Though she was wanted by the government and there was a high bounty on her head, military forces had a difficult time tracking her or reaching her, since her followers protected her with their lives. There were several vigilante groups that stalked the cities where her followers were prominent, as they had a tendency to become violent at seemingly random times, often making “sacrifices” in her name.
Megana religion is extensive, to put it mildly. There is one predominant native religion amongst the Megana, called Kosmiir. Kosmiir is based on the worship of dozens of deities, each of which has many marreθ, or “faces”. This means that in each region, the deity is presented and worshipped in a different way; sometimes the differences are slight, sometimes great. It is believed that each “version” of a particular deity represents one single deity in actuality, but each worshipper believes their version is more accurate and their style of worship is more effective in communicating and pleasing the deity in question. A large part of worship is mestiuss, or substance-induced trance. Ideally, each worshipper should engage in mestiuss once every lunar month, in worship toward a deity of their choosing. Often the deity they choose is based on a current problem or situation, such as an illness, natural disaster, financial issue, or even a political event. There are specific deities which preside over certain areas of life, some having more power in some areas than others, so choosing which deity to invoke during mestiuss is an important decision.
The ritual of mestiuss takes place on a special rug called the xunna. Five red candles are burned in front of this while the person is seated cross-legged on the xunna. The initial chant is sung, consisting of the invocation to the deity, the person’s reason for calling on this deity, and a devotional section in direct worship. The hallucinogen is then taken, either through smoke or tea. The most common types of hallucinogen are members of the hasjuppa family, a family of flowering plants that are almost all hallucinogenic. The leaves of the plant may be either smoked or infused and drunk as a tea. Depending on how much of the hallucinogen is ingested, the trance can last from twenty minutes up to hours. Most people trance for around twenty to forty minutes. All kinds of bizarre things can happen during the trances, especially trances involving multiple persons (which do occur). There is a book written by one Gilarmiv Xottai on the various behaviors of people under the influence of trance, entitled Balsakline, or “Celestial Cries”.
After the trance, there is a certain tea that is drunk that neutralizes some of the effects of the hallucinogen. This is nespo tea; it is said to “return [the individual in question] to clarity”. This tea too is a traditional part of the worship, and often friends or family members will sit around and socialize while drinking their nespo tea after trances.
The ideology behind Kosmiir is basically that the gods are powerful beings to be summoned for help whenever one might need it. But in order to persuade them to help, one must adore them and offer them worship to appease their often capriciously irate personalities. The unpredictability of the gods is the Kosmiir explanation for disasters and misfortunes in the world. The gods are viewed as inherently angry beings, who have an internal rage with which they came into existence. Some gods are naturally angrier and more difficult to appease, some are more easily mollified. A part of the purpose of trance is to put oneself in a mad and uncontrolled state, and thereby it is hoped that the absorption of this madness into oneself will siphon some of the anger and madness away from the gods.
Many forms of art are practiced amongst the Megana, but the term art must be defined specifically in this context; art to the Megana is not necessarily a form of communication from the artist to the audience, but rather as an esoteric expression of the subconscious, something that cannot always be interpreted or understood by the beholder. It is for this reason that there are very few separate “styles” of art in whatever medium, since innovation is considered so fundamental to art that few Megana would see the purpose in following the style of someone else in this regard.
Probably the two most prominent forms of art are poetry and theatre, which in instances seem to merge into each other. Poetry is usually read aloud to groups of people and stems largely the storytelling tradition. This usually takes place indoors on a stage. Sometimes small props are used during the recitation, but the environment tends to remain quite sparse. Poems are always memorized by the performer/writer, and they are often quite long; sometimes single poems can take up to four hours to recite in full.
Theatre can be viewed as an extended, fleshed out form of poetry to the Megana. Theatrical events do not involve more than five or so people, and are either very intimate (with the actors performing within a few feet of the spectators) or very spacious, being sometimes performed outside. These outdoor performances involve the audience in a very direct way—the audience members are required to walk along with the actors as they move across distances of land, reciting their lines all the while. This form of theatre is known as mestreɸa, named for a queen who was known to be very fond of it.
Science, Technology, and Medicine
Megana science and technology is the most advanced of the Bayë, especially in the area of medicine. They have refined many native plants of their area in northeast Ei and have created effective treatments for many Bayën diseases, such as the devastating Toshaffa fever, which causing the skin around the blood ropes to become very thin and infected with a bacterium. The skin thereafter usually breaks and the victim dies of blood loss.
The Megana have had a troubled history, one full of chaos; but almost universally, the Megana do not consider their past to be so, despite the fact that other nations across Aeniith marvel that they have maintained their integrity for so many millennia. The Megana seem to consider chaos as a norm of their sociopolitical reality, even at times seeming to thrive off it. The frequency at which they become involved in wars is extremely high in comparison to other Bayë groups. On average, a Bayë nation will engage in true warfare (i.e. involving an official declaration of war between two groups) about once every two thousand years. By contrast, the Megana have all-out warfare about once every 500-700 years. About 40% of these wars are internal, civil conflicts between the leaders of various cities vying for control of various outlying lands within Megana territory, though these conflicts have been controlled to some degree by the current ruler Limmir. But still this has led to a lot of their population being killed in warfare. In order to slow down this decrease in population, the Megana military began to hire mercenaries from both Bayë and amelae groups.
The structure of Megana living spaces takes the form of several large cities within smaller villages in between. Their main territory exists in the northeast corner of Ei stretching between the Akte Horn and the Sea of Mesdel. They also control territory in Elta, mainly along the border between the Shaina and Mo Chiriade countries. Because the Mo Chiriade land had been colonized by the Selupa, the Megana and Selupa share an important alliance. Since the Mo Chiriade and the Shaina people have always been either enemies or under an uneasy peace treaty, the Shaina have come to resent the Megana forces located along their borders and conflict sometimes occurs there.
All large cities (i.e. 200,000+ inhabitants) have a central tower that functions something as a city hall, but in reality is much more diverse. It functions as a government building, an administrative building, and also as a commercial center for certain types of services (insurance, banking, real estate, etc.). These towers are called nislai, or center points, which is an accurate name due to the fact that so many important politicians, departments, and documents rest here. Unfortunately, this fact has also been a significant problem for the Megana during times of war, since the nislai are perfect targets that, when hit, deal a lot of damage to the Megana.
The small village between and around the large cities are in a constant state of limbo, being alternately controlled by their surrounding mother cities, as they are called. A lot of internal wars in the past originated because of city leaders’ disputes over control of outlands and villages.