Leather notebook with a tree on the front, on a wooden table

Leisure of the miiquils

Today on Twitter, I posted this “Promptly”:

Promptly: Setting Saturday. In the world of your current work, describe leisure culture. Freewrite for 10 minutes, or 2 sprints of 5 minutes.

Since I’m trying to provide examples in the same breath, I wrote a brief response about my miiquil species (from the world of Portent)… and ended up thinking about it all day. (I blame one of my art & writing inspirations, whom I’ll call TVWT, for inspiring me to expand on this kind of public worldbuilding as a way of motivating myself to explore my world further!)

Leisure of the miiquils

Miiquils are very social creatures, and generally prefer to spend their leisure time with friends and family. Since leaving Miiqua, the colony has become even more close-knit and insular, making their culture’s emphasis on feasts, festivals, and group worship even more prominent.

Feasts

Food plays a major role in miiquil culture, due to their origins as a gatherer society, constantly on the move to escape the predatory species that chased them. When they have excess, they consume it quickly together, enjoying the time spent over a delicious meal. When times are leaner, or they’re on the move and can’t afford to carry much extra sustenance, they focus on flavor subtleties and the inherent enjoyment of the eating experience.

Families, extended families, neighbor groups, and even entire clans will eat together; any occasion is just an excuse to pull extra food and drink from storage and indulge in gluttony.

Some of their favorite foods include:

  • Daari-stuffed pastries
  • A hearty yet light bean soup called cardil, made with chickpeas and onions
  • Boppan (lentil “meatballs”)
  • Lightly-grilled fish and other sea life (though most miiqs are actually vegetarians for most of the year)

Their favorite spices include bay leaves, parsley, black pepper, cumin, and a variety of chili peppers, all of which they call by very different names.

Festivals

Miiquils are festival-happy: about half of their festivals are ritualistic preparations for the other half. Since the celebrations and traditions are all tied to the seasons and their planet’s rotation around its sun, they can be adapted to whatever world the miiquils are currently inhabiting. In the case of Kihata (their word for Earth), the years are shorter than on Miiqua, and so there is a festival nearly every other (human) week.

During any festival, miiqs will throw large parties, spend a lot of time eating and drinking, and pray en masse.

Rain-season festivals are about renewal, fresh starts, new love, and births. Feasts are modest, as there is less fresh food early in the year, before the heat has had time to coax new plants out of the earth. But those who survived hard winters are often feeling quite delighted about surviving — and are in the mood to perpetuate the species, right as the roughly year-long gestation period comes to an end for young-bearers and the new generation is born.

Heat-season festivals center around abundance, success, coming-of-age, and fertility. When miiqs can safely settle in one place for a while, the heat-season is a time of harvest and plenty, a time when bellies are full and heads are clear enough to give older adolescents their welcome to adulthood.

Cold-season festivals celebrate ancestors, survival, togetherness, and family. Even a humid rainforest-heavy planet like Miiqua saw its colder season, when food plants died off or stopped producing, and predators grew hungry and extra nasty. Cold-season is a time to be thankful for being alive and with loved ones, and is also the time when communities get together to create large communal art projects, which they trade for other community art at other seasonal festivals.

Temples and religion

The miiquils worship a quadrant of forces, the most powerful forces of the planet on which they reside. On Miiqua, these were Wind, Skyfire (lightning), Sea, and Moon (theirs was very large and had a significant pull on the tides). On Kihata, these are Wind, Sea, Stone, and Green (Miiqua’s plant life was rarely green). Collectively, the forces are referred to as “cherann,” or “life-givers and life-takers” (the literal English translation).

In miiquil tradition, cherann are not actual personified beings, but rather the underlying fabric of the worlds and therefore to be heeded, respected, and consulted. Followers of cherann are not generally superstitious, but rather practical and logic-driven, yet able to both see and sense how all things are connected and influenced by one another. This even allows some of them, through intense training begun early in a miiq’s life, to become “seercasters” — that is, combining knowledge of the laws of physics with the power of cherann to create such intense illusions that they may be acted upon as real by living beings who encounter them.

Most miiqs believe in cherann, or at least live their life by its natural rhythms. At the four corners of any miiquil settlement — including Naushena, the island on which the miiqs live in “Portent” — a temple is placed for each cherann. This is dictated by tradition.

Not dictated by tradition, however, is the placement of these temples; this is eclectic, left up to the individual city planners to decide. On Naushena, Sea is at the north, Wind is at the east, Green at the south, and Stone at the west. (There are probably reasons for this, but nobody is sure of them.)

Miiqs often go right after their labors are over to pray and meditate at one of the four temples. Though all miiqs can and do worship at any temple, most gravitate towards a particular one, often (but not always) associated with where Kihata was in its revolution around the sun when they were born.