The Thirteen Houses Project: Cereus

[TW: There will be discussion of ageism in this post.]

[Once a month for the next twelve months, I will be doing a post on the 13th of each month based on one of the Thirteen Houses of the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers from Kushiel’s Legacy.]

As the first post in the Thirteen Houses Project, it makes sense to begin with Cereus House, as it was from that House that the Night Court proper grew. The dowayne (that is, the head of a House) of Cereus House represents the Night Court on the City of Elua’s judiciary.

The House motto is “All loveliness fades”.

The House canon is fragile, fleeting beauty. Some members of Cereus House find that when the blush of youth fades, a steel interior reveals itself.

Cereus House, to me, embodies the Buddhist concept of impermanence, that is, well, that nothing is permanent. All loveliness fades, nothing lasts forever, joy is fleeting. A flower will lose its petals and wither away.

No one understands the fragile nature of beauty better than Cereus House, but rather than bemoan that fact, they choose to celebrate it, believing that “Beauty is at its most poignant when the cold hand of Death holds poised to wither it imminently.” (from Kushiel’s Dart.

For me, Cereus’ canon is also about learning to accept aging as a natural part of the average human’s life cycle, even if I don’t necessarily like the process (although, yes, I am counting the days until menopause). I would say that Cereus House is the house of “aging gracefully” but TBH, I hate that phrase, I don’t know what it is about that phrase, and besides, I will totally age grumpily if I want to!

Another important aspect of Cereus House is the “silk hiding steel” aspect (note: apparently–at least, according to TV Tropes–“silk hiding steel” is one way to refer to a femme, while the opposite is true for a butch, but I’m digressing). In this culture, at least, there seems to be this perception that when you’ve reached a certain age, well, that’s it. My a-mom seems to think that people over a certain age are all idiots who don’t know how to work them newfangled televisions and computers, this is in spite of the fact that eighty-something mother-in-law is not only capable of using a computer, but regularly prints and shares photos with her friends. Ageist stereotypes like this are all over the place, and I definitely think it’s important to cultivate the inner “steel” and enjoy the blush of youth while it’s there.

Image: “Hylocereus undatus. Night-blooming cereus” by Brocken Inaglory (Wikipedia)

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