The Thirteen Houses Project: Bryony

[TW: the following post contains references to rape and some racism.]

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.

It’s the 13, so you know what that means, it’s time for another post in the Thirteen Houses Project, and today’s lucky winner is Bryony House.

Bryony House’s motto is “Wealth seeks company,” and it’s canon is avarice and wagering. Bryony adepts are, well, adept at gambling to the point where they rarely lose. When adepts of Bryony House make their marques, they typically go on to staff the Royal Treasury. They are also the only adepts who will wager their own bodies in a bet. Bryony House holds that when Naamah slept with the King of Persis, she “made a good bargain in the exchange.”

But Bryony House also has a dark side, as we learn when it’s discovered that Csavin, one of the Tsingani (or Roma, as we would call them) wagers his cousin Anasztazia and loses, and ends up deceiving his cousin into an assignation with a noble who paid Bryony a lot of money for the chance to be with a Tsingani virgin. Unfortunately, although they should have been tried for heresy (in Terre d’Ange, rape is heresy as well as a secular crime) no one at Bryony is ever held accountable for the deed. This is but one of the many incidents we have which indicates that the Terre d’Ange in general and the Night Court in particular often seem to trumpet the idea of Elua’s Precept while not bothering to follow it.

…And once again I am reminded of how problematic this series can be re: race and stereotyping.

Rather than talk about wagering and gambling and such (because I have no poker face and this would be a short post) I’m going to talk about money, managing money, spending money, trying to save money.

I am so bad at saving money. Yeah yeah, Capricorns are supposed to be ambitious curmudgeons who SAVE ALL THE MONIES! and I am generally okay if money either goes directly into my account or if I’m able to get to the bank right away with a cheque.

But the longer I leave it, the more it calls to me. “Gef, spend me! Spend me!”

Currently, there is a $20 bill lying on my desk where I can’t see it. I have told myself I am saving it, so it is just sitting there, and I’ve so far resisted the temptation to spend it. Ideally, it’s going to sit here until the end of my Thirteen Houses Project, in practice, if I can go a month or two without spending it, I will count that as a rare accomplishment indeed. I have to learn how to save money sometime, might as well make it now.

I’ve already written about the idea of “Pay to Pray” and how, on the one hand, paying a lot of money for things that are traditionally available at no cost or low cost to the average person just feels….wrong. On the other hand, I also don’t understand this assertion that money is inherently evil. Even tarot readers and such need to eat, and why shouldn’t they expect some sort of compensation for those services? It almost seems like the people who whine the loudest about how “we don’t need money” are the ones who most likely haven’t had to experience things like constantly having crappy cheap food to feed your family, or working long hours just to pay the pills, or any of the million other things people on or below the poverty line experience every day.

I could be wrong, but I know my life would be a lot harder without cold hard cash.

Money isn’t inherently the root of all evil, but, as Bryony House itself demonstrates, it can be put to less than lawful or altruistic purposes. It all depends on how it is used.

Image: “White bryony (Bryonia dioica)” by sannse (Wikipedia)

Random money-related fact about me: the only math that I was ever really good at was the kind of math you use when calculating which thing you’re buying is the “better bargain” (unit prices and such). Basically unless it has to do with shopping, I don’t like math, except that trippy philosophical math with multiple correct answers, I aced that class.


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