The Thirteen Houses Project: Camellia

[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 13th, another month, another entry in the Thirteen Houses Project. Today I will be discussing Camellia House.

Camellia House’s motto is “without fault or flaw” and it’s canon is perfection. Camellia House holds that when Naamah slept with the King of Persis, “her unveiled perfection caused him to go blind for two weeks”. Prior to her initiation as an adept in Kushiel’s Dart, main character Phedre witnesses a Showing at Camellia House. (A Showing, for those of you who haven’t read the series, is when would-be adepts witness a sexual rite between two adepts (always a man and a woman) and marks the beginning of an adept’s training.)

I wouldn’t consider myself a perfectionist, not really, because I’ve recognized that the image I may have in my head of a thing is not how that thing usually turns out, and I’ve also learned to appreciate the little “imperfections” in things that I own. Some of my tarot cards have creases and such, I suppose I could have sent them back, but I think it gives the decks character, and anyways, the marks don’t affect the backs of the cards, so it’s not like I’ll be able to instantly recognize them when I draw them.

At the same time, I will admit to not being so accepting when it comes to books. I will search through the shelves at the bookstore to find the “perfect” copy of a book. Used books drive me crazy, and, with one exception )my own copy of Fifty Shades of Grey) I despise writing in books. I’m particularly picky when it comes to spines, I like my book spines unmarked, thank you. I guess I don’t yet appreciate the little “quirks” in the books I buy.

Maybe it seems very cynical of me to say that I’ve (mostly) stopped trying to be “perfect” but because I grew up in a tradition that held up “perfect” figures like Jesus and the Virgin Mary as role models for faithful Catholics, some part of me still contends with this idea even though I’m generally okay with (and prefer) my deities being “imperfect” beings. Or perhaps “imperfect” isn’t really the right word for it, rather, they are whole, they are male and female and both and neither, sexual and virginal, artists, poets, warriors, farmers, sailors. They aren’t really good or bad, they just kind of are, and, to be honest, I ind them to be much more palatable than a supposedly “perfect” being who I can never, ever see myself in. Sure, my deities may be nigh unapproachable sometimes, but none of them have ever expected that I meet some unreasonable standard of perfection in order to make them happy.

The next post in the series will be a happier, more coherent one, I swear.

Image: “Camellia sasanqua” by junichiro aoyama (Wikipedia)

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