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Updated: Jun 15, 2023

Having attended the wedding of the daughter of a close friend this past weekend, I thought it would be interesting to discuss the Valrimir rite of Eshala Tasaad, which is essentially the process in which the eligible Valrimir men and the Varimir maidens are betrothed for marriage.

In my First book, Earth of Fire, Sky of Ice, I describe the rite in great detail in Chapter Fourteen; The Joining. Our hero Gary Krahmer has previously had his Valrimir friend Rasmius make an ornate metal delicately carved with spirals and squares to give to Trista as a gift. SPOILER ALERT: (This later becomes a very big problem for Gary). The box has a padded cloth interior and contains hair combs, and a regular comb. However, when Trista receives the box, it makes Trista cry, she states that she cannot accept the gift, and she runs away and the displeasure upon her father's face is obvious.

Shortly afterwards, Thealt asks Gary to make other arrangements for his living accommodations, and Gary becomes a guest in the lodge of Rundo and his Mate, Kiara.

Trista refuses to see Gary, (or Trista's father Thealt does not allow her to see him) and after a few weeks. he considers returning to the outworld. He goes to Thealt's lodge, and asks to say goodbye to Trista, however, Thealt forbids any contact between his daughter and Gary. Late that night however, Trista's mother Camia sneaks a note from Trista to Gary, saying that her father Thealt refuses to allow him to see her, but that she wishes for him not to leave the Valrimir people. She explains in her note that there is much that he does not understand about the Valrimir way of life.

Clearly, Gary has committed a serious social faux pas. However he doesn't know what he possibly could have done to hurt Trista so deeply, and to offend her father. Shortly afterwards, Gary is observing something different about the Valrimir women. Rundo's mate Kiara has gone to stay in the lodge of her parents for a few days, and he notices that the Valrimir joined (married) women who normally wear their hair down and free flowing have braided their hair in the unusual fashion of the maidens. They braid their long hair, and it loops down below their chin crossing upon the front of the neck, and looped back up, and joined at the back of their heads with ornately carved hair combs.

While visiting the Lumiskveya hall, Gary happens to overhear two Valrimir men speaking about how they are warming the great hall in anticipation of the joining to be held that very night. Gary makes his way to the great hall, and ensuring that no one sees him enter, he makes his way up a flight of stairs where he hides behind a short wall with a small crack between the stones where he is able to look down upon the floor of the great hall.

After some time, two separate lines of men and women enter into the great hall and the joined men and women, being led by the most elderly of the Valrimir and his mate. eventually the two lines come to a halt at the base of the royal dais. Whereas the joined men and women stand in fairly close proximity to each other, the unjoined, eligible bachelors and maidens stand at a distance of about 30 feet apart. Lord Validor (The king of the Valrimir people) welcomes all in attendance. He then ceremoniously makes his way to the end of the line where the Valrimir maidens are lined up, and passes them, and eventually he makes his way back to his own mate, Estrala. A ceremonial exchange then takes place where the King indicates that from amongst the many, he has chosen his mate, the queen Estrala. The queen then states that she is well chosen, and she presents the robe that she has made for her mate to him, stating that she has made it with her own hands, and that she gives it to him as a symbol of her care for him. Validor receives the Robe, and he places it upon himself, and states that he will wear it as a symbol of his devotion to his mate and queen, Estrala. He then presents her with an ornate box and states that he gives it to her as a symbol of his care for her, and she receives it, stating that she will cherish it as a symbol of her devotion to him. The king and queen then take their place upon their thrones upon the dais.

The ceremony proceeds, and the most elderly couple in the line exchange their Tashalas or "gifts of self" and the exchange continues down to the youngest of the joined couples based upon the age of the Valrimir man. A few of the Valrimir men will make the walk past the maidens and will eventually return back to their mates. This oddity shall be explained hereafter. The vast majority of the men, however, do not make the walk, and simply make their choice of their own mate who is standing before them. They then exchange their robes and Tashala boxes. Eventually, those couples who became betrothed at the previous right of Eshala Tasaad will choose their betrothed. Any betrothed couples that have gone through their season of courtship and are ready to be joined (married) join the king and the queen upon the dais.

The king then announces that "It is time for the Eshala Tasaad". The king asks the unjoined bachelors, if there are any amongst them who wish to make their choice known. If so, any bachelors who wish to make their choice known step forward. The king then asks the unjoined maidens who are in attendance, if there are any amongst them who wish to be chosen. Those maidens who wish to proclaim their availability for marriage then step forward.

One by one, any bachelors that wish to make their choice known, and that have brought a Tashala box with them will one by one based upon their age pass the line of the maidens that have stepped forward, and they will then make their choice.

Upon seeing the ceremony, Gary realizes that when he had asked Trista to make a robe for him, and especially when he gave the ornate metal box to Trista as a gift, it was essentially a marriage proposal, but it was not done in the right time and place, or according to Valrimir tradition. Besides, Trista's father has made it very clear that there is no hope of a relationship between Gary and his daughter because he is an outworlder.


While this might seem a strange and primitive method of matchmaking, in reality the rite is probably much less a matter of chance than one might think. In most every case, the unjoined man and woman probably know each other very well already, and have already agreed to choose each other in the upcoming ceremony. They have no doubt already had some measure of courtship long before they choose to attend the rite of Eshala Tasaad, and step forward. Most of the Valrimir that are choosing and are being chosen are friends, and they already know before the ceremony who is going to choose, and who will be chosen. Furthermore, it is a long standing Valrimir tradition, that even if a Valrimir maiden steps forward to be chosen, if she fails to raise her eyes to meet the gaze of the potential suitor, then it means that she does not want to be chosen by him, and it is considered to be very bad form (practically forbidden) for a Valrimir male to choose a maiden who does not raise her gaze to meet his. Were such a thing to happen, the Valrimir man would most likely become shunned and avoided by the rest of the Valrimir people and his status within the community would be markedly decreased.

So now, lets explore what happens if in the event that a couple choose and are chosen in the Valrimir Rite of Eshala Tasaad. They then enter into a courtship period for three months where they and their families are expected to spend quite a bit of time together getting to know each other. Let's suppose that a couple does so, and at the end of the three months, they feel that they are not right for each other (or the families just don't get along, etc.). In such a case, the Valrimir maiden can simply choose not to step forward with no embarrassment, and/or the Valrimir bachelor can simply choose another maiden to enter into the period of courtship with. No harm, no foul, everybody is happy.

As part of the actual joining ceremony, the Tashala box is opened, the man removes the hair combs from the back of the maidens' head, and the combs are carefully placed within the decorative box. The groom then unbraids the hair of his bride to be, and he takes the comb within the box, and combs through the hair of his bride to be. Her neck no longer guarded by the braids which so recently crossed her throat, the groom places his hands upon wither side of his bride's face and she does likewise. This is known as the Selana or the embrace of the interwoven souls and is exclusively reserved for couples who are joined, and is a common way of greeting ones joined mate after a long period of absence. During the ceremony while in the embrace, the couple looks deeply into each other's eyes, as the words of the joining ceremony is pronounced upon them. Finally the two take each other by the hand and extend their clasped arm, and a ceremonial band of ribbon is wrapped around both of their arms, and the couple remain hand in hand and bound by the cermonial band until they arrive back at the lodge of the groom where it is removed and placed in the Tashala box for safe keeping this band is one of the Valrimir couple's most prized and cherished possessions as it is the very symbol of their being joined to one another.

After the couples return back to the privacy of their own lodges from the rite of Eshala Tasaad, the husbands will commonly remove the hair clips, and unbraid and comb the hair of their mate. However, not always.


As I mentioned earlier, there are some occasions (other than when the king makes his ceremonial walk of course), when a Valrimir man may choose to make the walk past the Valrimir maidens and then back to his own mate. Perhaps then, this is a show that the Valrimir man is displeased with his mate for some reason. The woman also has such a means of expressing her displeasure with her mate.

If a joined (married) Valrimir woman refuses to allow her husband to unbraid and comb her hair after the conclusion of the ceremony, and she continues to wear her hair braided and in the fashion of the maidens, then it may be an indication that she is displeased with her husband for some reason. Should the matters remain unresolved, and should she continue to wear her hair braided until the next tribunal, which occurs before the rite of Eshala Tasaad, the joined man and the woman may appear at the Tribunal and request that their joining be undone. if a Valrimir couple wishes for their joining to be undone, it must be a mutual decision. They must walk into the Tribunal hall with one arm each clasped and tied togther with the ceremonial band that they received when it was tied upon their arms as a part of the marriage ceremony (called the Selana Taelesir) The Lawgiver and Administer of Justice unbinds the two, unwrapping their two arms, and the couple is then considered by all to be unjoined and they are free to choose / be chosen by another at any future rite of Eshala Tasaad. Generally, the woman will return and live in the lodge of her parents since the lodge is the possession of the man due to the fact that it was he who built his own lodge with his own hands by cutting the stone from the rock face, and clearing the space and forming the walls and doors himself. If disputes arise, they are heard by the lawgiver and the Administer of Justice at the next tribunal.

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