October 30th – The Festival of the Wishing Fleet

Wishing wells are a common sight in Buentoille, as are wishing fountains, both of which adorn many a square of plaza. There are other ways to send your wishes to the universe, other forms to attach them to; in the rocky heights of Guilgamot district there are two houses with a great gulf between them, over which are strung two lines; a washing line and a wishing line, which holds thousands of pieces of cloth embroidered with someone’s wishes. If you go to Rennario Shill’s Bar and order the ‘wishing soup’ you will be given a thin soup with a sheet of rice paper, a quill and some edible ink. It is the custom to place your wish in your dinner date’s soup, but if you are eating alone it is perfectly acceptable to place it in your own. And there are, of course, always the stars.

For those looking for another way to trust the important aspects of their life to enigmatic and potentially non-existent forces, there is today another opportunity; the Festival of the Wishing Fleet. The festival is hosted in southern Buentoille, at the Temple of Great Moway, a small but ancient religious group which spawned out of Escotolatian spirit cults around the time of the City’s formation. The Temple, dedicated to the worship of the river that runs through Buentoille, the Moway, is located on the inside of a bend of said river, and is formed of a small collection of buildings and a long, wide set of steps that reaches down into the waters, where the acolytes bathe every day (this is part of the reason the temple is built upstream from most of Buentoille).

This Temple is fairly new, even though the religious organisation which uses it is very old. For a long time there was no infrastructure that served this religious group; they merely went down to the river to pray every morning, wherever they happened to be at that point (which was never far from the river; according to doctrine, acolytes of the Temple aren’t allowed to travel more than three miles away from the banks of the Moway or its tributaries). This was because of long held persecution from the Chastise Church, but later, when the Church’s powers were curtailed, because they were considered to be dangerous fanatics, terrorists even, after they poured several barrels of toxic industrial waste down the chimneys of the Parliament building, in protest over the dumping of the same waste into their holy river. The Temple still maintains that the re-routing of the Moway in the fifteenth century was an act of revenge for their protest.

In recent years, the Temple has become rather trendy, and has opened its doors to visitors, even allowing them to take part in some of its rituals. Worship of the river that runs through the heart of their City seems in some ways natural for many Buentoillitants, an easy thing to understand and believe in. Yet there are concerns from more ‘traditional’ Temple-goers that allowing folk who do not adhere to the doctrines, who travel beyond the bounds of the river and who travel over the Moway by bridge rather than swimming as they should, to participate in their rituals will offend the Moway. For now, those who believe in an open Temple are in the majority, buoyed by the influx of new members, many of whom have become fully signed up to the doctrines. They argue that Mother Moway will know who amongst them are pure of heart, and will not blame them for trying to bring more worshippers to her watery glory.

What all of this means is that, for those looking for another way to make the universe hear them and grant their wishes, they now have the chance to join the Temple in doing just that. The Temple-goers believe that today was the day that the Moway first met the sea, and fell in love with him. As a result, today that love will be renewed once again, and in a fit of good spirit, the Moway will grant any wishes provided to her by the correct methods. Today is the day that acolytes of the Temple normally get married, and most of their wishes centre around that union, but for the single or already married other wishes are permitted too. The marriages are conducted all together on the steps of the Temple, and are sealed by the couples walking down into the river together and kissing underwater for as long as possible, circulating their breath between them. It is not until evening that the wish-making commences.

The small wax boats are intricately carved with various designs intended to grab the attention of Mother Moway, but space is left between the designs for each person to carve their wish. These ‘wishing boats’ are given for free to Temple members, and are available for a small fee to anyone else. Anything can be written on them, but traditionally the wish is expressed in a small poem which fits in one band around the ship’s hull. Those who have just been married are given larger boats, with sections on their tops where colourful flowers are placed. As the sun sets, the Temple band begins to play slowly and quietly, giving the signal for everybody to cease carving, then walk down the steps, light the wick protruding from the top of their boat, and place it in the water, to be swept downstream. Atop the water their reflections pool beautifully as they are dragged out of sight, and below the earnest wishes are illuminated, where the river can read them.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Honesty
  • The Festival of the Bright Cave
  • Chopped Off Nose Day