The Wheel of Time - The Call of the Horn
Far Dareis Mai
Far Dareis Mai, the Maidens of the Spear, is an Aiel warrior society that only accepts women, as opposed to the other male societies.
One day, early in the Jenn Aiel’s history, a woman’s child was taken by raiders. This woman, named Morin, refused to merely ask for aid. She demanded to go and fight with the men, knowing that this would mean that she could never return to her wagons. She was given a shortened spear which is now in use by every Aiel. Morin became wedded to the spear, saying that she was married to no man. Today, no Maiden of the Spear may marry, nor fight while carrying a child.
Maidens are not permitted to marry, but may give up the spear to do so. They still have children, though, which at birth are immediately given to the care of the Wise Ones. These children are passed around through various Wise Ones, effectively hiding the child’s original parentage. Occasionally male lovers, who cannot persuade their Maiden to give up the spear, arrange for themselves to be taken as gai’shain – of course the Maiden would not look at a man in white, and the first thing she will do is teach him to sing for her sister Maidens. If a Maiden is to become a Wise One, she must give up all her weapons and have every part of them made into an item that will never be used for combat (childrens’ toys/tools). The maiden must give away the reconstructed weapons herself as to reinforce the fact that she is no longer a maiden of the spear. Maidens have their own “handtalk” or sign language which consists of finger spelling as well as complete words and phrases. Many clans, male and female, have their own set of handtalk, but Far Dareis Mai are the only ones that have nearly a full language in handtalk alone. It is known only to other Maidens, though Faile was taught some by Bain and Chiad.
Maidens accompany Rand as his honor guard. When he first comes to the Waste he tells the Maidens that they “carry his honor,” a task they take very seriously. Though he has no society or sept, he was born of a Maiden and is regarded by them as “the first son of a Maiden to come back to us.” They will not allow his honor to be represented by any other group, and feel gravely slighted when left behind by Rand – they cannot comprehend his reluctance to commit them to battle (because of his aversion to any harm coming to women). The Maidens have a variety of attitudes toward Rand. Like other Aiel, the Maidens definitely do not take his commands as law; but they, more than most, readily disobey his commands that they consider “foolish.” They listen to Rand’s instructions in battle, but they find it unacceptable when he leaves them out of the battle – and they are willing to show their anger when he treats them as somehow less than the other male societies. At one point he is severely beaten while in his private chamber with Min. Many of the Far Dareis Mai treat him as a brother or a son – irrespective of their relative age. Maidens twice his age may joke with him like a brother, and Maidens younger than him may just as easily pester after him to make sure he’s not too cold at night.