Laws of the Moot: A Cheat-Sheet to the Garou Nation's Most Sacred Rite
The Moot Rite: the political, social, spiritual centerpiece of sept life. It binds a Garou to the earth, stirs the werewolves' emotional cauldrons, brings punishment to the foolish and praise to the brave--and in LARP, it can be an exciting pageant or deadly dull. Here's a brief outline of the ceremony, and an idea of what is and is not required of the participants…
The Moot: an outline--each Auspice rules over a portion of the Moot, from the Fool's challenge of the litany to the Ahroun-led Revel that closes the ceremony. The flow of the Rite builds up energy until the Garou release it, in the form of Gnosis, to the earth.
Master of the Howl: The leader of the moot rite, usually a Galliard. The only Garou who must know the actual Rite.
The Fool: The Fool questions the Litany, insults the more pretentious Garou, deflates pomp and nettles wherever it will do good. It is considered dishonorable to lose your temper and actually talk back to the fool. Ragabash vie for the "honor of this sacred position."
1. The Opening Howl: The greeting howl, angry or celebratory, sets the tone for the whole moot. The Master of the Howl leads.
1b. The Mournful Howl immediately follows--a sad howl for the dying Lupus breed. In some Septs a single wolf sings this; in others, all the Lupus join in.
1c. When the howls end, the Master of the Howl recites The Litany (see other side). The Fool causes trouble and contradicts the Master of the Howl; it's up to the Sept to defend against the Fool's attacks. In some Moots this takes the form of a "question-and-answer" session. In others, it's a free-for-all as the Garou howl their affirmations of the Litany.
During the Opening Howl the Master of the Howl greets the Garou, tells why he brought them here, and lays down the direction for the Moot. The Fool is the most active here, but there's no requirement that he leave afterward…The Fool's job is to strengthen the Garou by showing their foolishness--here's the important bit--NEVER agree with the Fool! That just encourages him…
2. The Inner Sky: Here the Garou thank the Spirits that aid them. The Inner Sky begins in silence. One Theurge, sometimes with four assistants, "calls the winds." In the most elaborate Moots, Garou play the parts of the winds and Totem Spirits. Any Theurge may be called on to participate here:
East Wind: Affiliated with sunrise. Represents Gaia's gift of the Umbra, stepping sideways, spiritual insight.
South Wind: The south wind, associated with fire and the desert. Represents Gaia's gift of Rage, important to the Warriors of Gaia!
West Wind: Affiliated with rain. Represents the gift of shape-changing.
North Wind: Associated with cold, the winter, the mountains. Represents spirit-gifts and the wisdom of tradition.
Inner Wind: Associated with the earth. Represents the sum of Gaia's blessings, Gaia's power within the Garou, and in some septs the gift of peace. Said by the Caller of the Wyld.
"Five" is a sacred number to the Garou; the meanings of the winds sometimes change, but the four-and-one pattern's consistent across most Moots.
2b. Thanking the Spirits: The Garou thank the spirits that watch over their Sept and packs. If the Winds and the Spirits are not thanked, the spiritual power of the Caern dwindles away. The Spirits have sometimes shown up to hear the Garou give thanks, particularly if the Moot takes place in the Umbra.
3. Cracking the Bone: The business of the sept occurs here. A Philodox presides, called the Truthcatcher. Here, the Garou may discuss Sept policy, question their elders, ask advice of the Sept and bring challenge against a Garou and request judgement. Cracking the Bone is the only "organized" section of the moot; the Truthcatcher passes around a "talking bone" to show who has the right to speak, usually from the Eldest to the Cliaths. Speaking out of turn here is considered dishonorable. Restless Ragabash and Galliards have trouble sitting still, waiting for the Stories…cubs keep silent.
4. Stories and Songs: A Galliard serves as the Talesinger for the evening--a position that every Galliard craves, since it's the best chance for them to show off! The "Talking Bone" is snapped, and it's time for tales. The Talesinger traditionally tells a tale of the Garou heroes, and Garou who have somehow convinced the Talesinger to sing their story or let them tell their own (it's a good idea to let a Galliard do it for you) have a chance to get some Renown. Another Garou might tell a story to contradict such a tale or make the "hero" look foolish, but it's not done often. The Talesinger can lose Renown if he lets the Audience get too bored…
5. The Revel: When the Stories are brought to a close, the Master of the Howl stalks around the circle of gathered garou and meets the gaze of the warriors. Impatient Ahroun sometimes fight to catch his eye. Once the Ahroun and the ritesmaster's eyes meet, they begin an intense staredown. If the Ahroun wins the staredown, he is made the Wyrmfoe. The Garou assembled cheer, howl, yip and bark, and the Wyrmfoe is expected to silence the Garou with his own howl. The Wyrmfoe traditionally brings the Sept a great contest--a mock battle to take the Caern, races, hunts, or other wild games. In the background, challenges for Sept positions and dominance take place. Surrounded by wild werewolves, the Wyrmfoe is the only control--that's scary. When the assembled werewolves' energy reaches its zenith, the Garou channel their Gnosis into the Caern, renewing its energy for the next month--and the Moot is over.
Playing the Moot; Or, When Not To Scratch
The most essential part of the Moot Rite is to put the player into a Garou's shoes (those that wear them). It is up to the Storytellers and to the players to reach that point where the participants can feel like Garou among other Garou. To do that, we have to leave just a bit of our humanity at home.
* Attendance: Only rarely is a moot mandatory. Moots can be small or large, and sometimes not everybody attends. Garou who don't go in for the political structure may decide to prowl the Bawn, guarding the Caern. They may hold their own parties away from the moot's circle. Occasionally entire packs will leave the circle--this happens most often during the Cracking of the Bone…
* QUIET!!: The Philodox-dominated Cracking of the Bone is the only tightly-controlled section of the moot and the only place where talking out of turn is dishonorable. Ahroun and Ragabash will hiss, prank, or possibly throw things at a bad storyteller in the Stories and Songs, and the Talesinger's honor depends on a good show. In some Septs (and in some Native American cultures) you can ask questions during a story. But it's never calm. Imagine getting eight-year-olds trying to sit quietly in a circle…now give them Rage.
* Some Settling May Occur During Shipping: The words may change. The Uktena might call the great spirits of the East and West instead of the four winds. The Bone Gnawers and Shadow Lords both tend to "drop" the Litany part. If you are called on to play a part, remember--everybody does the moot differently, though the basic form is the same.
* Energy Levels Rising, Captain: Garou are creatures of passion. The Moot starts slowly, with the very formal opening howl and Calling the Wyld. The VERY formal "Cracking the Bone" is painful for some characters (do you have the "Impatient" trait?) After that, though, the Stories and Revel might degenerate into a big party. In Junior High you had to sit in your seat and obey the teacher--and you probably hated it. Garou are part wild animal, and it is not mandatory for them to sit silently. The Moot should be reaching a fever pitch during Stories and Songs, when wild hunts and great revels are on everyone's mind--is this a time for a long, boring dissertation-type story? Play your character like he or she is--on the edge of self-control, a creature of primal emotions. The Moot brings those emotions to the surface in the Tabletop book. With a full Sept of Garou, we should aim for the same.