by Max Barry

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The United Island States of
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Marriage in AHSCA

In AHSCA, marriage is a very important aspect of life among the people. Regardless of gender or background marriage is generally a very open institution in regards to who can marry whom. Attitudes towards same sex marriage, mixed marriages, marriages outside of tribes or villages have varied from place to place over the years but overall have usually been very open and tolerated in general.

Traditions

Generally any marriage is expected to be met with approval of the family of the engaged spouse. Upon approval a period of time down the road is set, usually within a few weeks, some even as soon as days if not on the spot, often depending on the season and the extent of the spouses-to-be family ties between the islands. Those in the faith of Madokamisim will pick any priest or priestess to commence the ceremony and give a blessing on the future marriage.

The Trials

A traditional rite of passage remains common among the nation's faithful or those with deep histories and ties in the islands (namely a majority of the population.) There isn't really an official name for the rite of passage, it's commonly referred to simply as, The Rite but some colloquialisms include, The Woman's Walk Bridal Trials or The Four Trials. These are done generally at night and in any weather condition, excluding of course a major hurricane but they're often done while the weather is dry.

Traditionally, this rite of passage is done by the women though some men may partake in it, occasionally. Why this is the case, isn't exactly known, the reasons do vary. Some say it's a proof of a woman's strength and ability to bear children, others have said it's a permanent reminder to their husbands-to-be what their brides-to-be went through in the name of their love for them. Some women same-sex couples will both opt to do it, other same-sex couples will have one volunteer. In the case of a cross national couple (one hailing from a foreign country one native) the native will naturally offer themselves up regardless of Gender. The trials aren't considered mandatory in the name of the religion but are often expected.

The trials consist of, the parties of the wedding party are assembled in a place, often an alcove or strip of seashore. The bride or groom is presented by the presiding priestess or priest. Notably the bride or groom is typically nude, this is said to be representing them in their purest unaltered form. It's also to show the future spouse they are presenting themselves and nothing but themselves. The presiding clergy announces the spouse has decided to undergo the trials and everyone must give their attention. The witnessing spouse is expected to watch and never avert gaze. Averting one's gaze will force the trial participant to redo any given trial.

Trial 1, Walk: The participant will walk over a strip of hot coals a few centimeters to a few meters. The walk symbolizes marriage can be a rough road and treading correctly avoids harsh burns.

Trial 2 , Stacking Several heavy stones are placed before the participant, they must carry them from one point to another and align and stack the stones to make them balanced without falling over. This symbolizes the need for puzzle solving and balancing the weights of marriage.

Trial 3, Soaking Buckets of ice cold and very hot water are poured over and over again for a period of several minutes. This symbolizes the extremes that come with marriage.

Trial 4, Prayer With the presiding clergy, the participant will recite important prayers for a healthy marriage over and over again. This symbolizes the need for faith in marriage, spiritual or simply faith with your spouse. The participant is also placed near an active bonfire to make them sweat more as a cleansing ritual.

Once all trials are complete the participant is doused with pleasantly cool water with some kind of sweet smelling incense leaves and plants mixed in and they are encourage to embrace their new spouse and engage in a night of intimacy while the families are left to celebrate the union of their two children.

Other Traditions

As weddings are almost always held at night, the day is usually spent in prayer, washing your self time over to "cleanse your body" and for some there are physical routines but what's important is the ceremony is done at night. This ensures regardless if you belong to the Sun sect of the Night sect of the religion, the union is a bond is sealed by the two goddesses. As not all have to participate in the the trials something similar of physical activity and spiritual activity is encouraged to prepare yourself for the needs of marriage.

As AHSCA has become more open in the world, foreign wedding traditions have also taken on. This can be the classical "white wedding" or Christian wedding, Shinto weddings, other traditions of other cultures are also sometimes implemented.

Divorce and Separation

While being arbitrarily single is sometimes taboo, separating from your spouse isn't entirely taboo. Especially true for those who may be tied with abusive spouses, though tradition had dictated an abusive spouse may be killed, this has long been outlawed in the lands and it's now expected an abusive spouse will be remanded into custody.

Issues with Child Custody

AHSCA's court systems are still new but still only focused on matters of criminal law. As such family law still remains the domain of the families themselves and/or the Church of which they belong to, if any, willing or able to help in the matters.

Separation or divorces is expected to be amicable and couples who have children are expected to make sure their interests are being fulfilled.

A clergy in the Madokami faith will help with these proceedings, first seeing if anything can be done to prevent a split but if differences are truly irreconcilable they will bless the need of the split. Those with two children often practice what is know as a Solomon divorce (or officially known as, split parenting situation) wherein one spouse gets one child each. This practice is often done when the family has an even numbered amount of children beyond two. In the case of a single child or odd numbered amount of children, the father will get the sons or older children while the mother gets any daughters or younger children.

It is expected the parents will still remain apart of their children's lives if they so choose otherwise it is expected they do not harass, bully or intimidate the spouse. If an elder sibling is old enough to care for their younger siblings and can't or won't choose a single parent to reside with they can become an active emancipated party.

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