From Aristasian Customs and Manners

Affection is very abundant in Aristasia. If the higher degree of formality suggests coldness or distance to you, you must put that idea aside entirely. In Iron-Age Telluria, with its unbalanced-Vikhelic nature, rivalry and competition are common bases for relations with others. In Aristasia, love and appreciation of other girls is very deep. Seeing someone dressed beautifully pleases us. It may also inspire us to do better ourselves, but our first thought is: “How lovely; and how nice of her to make our world prettier”. Affection is really quite overflowing in Aristasia, and there are many kinds of friendships and relationships. The idea of one jealously-guarded relationship, surrounded by (and sometimes causing) rivalry and wariness everywhere else, is very alien to Aristasia. Aristasia is regarded as a family with the Empress as the mother of all (sometimes termed the Little Mother of the World — because God is the Great Mother).

Love between Aristasians at all levels is one of the fundamentals, and showing respect is, in Aristasia, a way of showing affection. Of course one shows respect even to those for whom one may not feel affection, but for a good Aristasian, affection is almost universal. A thing the newcomer needs to understand, though, is that an Aristasian may often show someone more formal respect because she loves her, rather than less.

Lady Aquila comments:

While this is certainly true, it could give the impression that Aristasian society is non-competitive in nature. This is not the case. In academic work, for example, or in the Vikhelic (martial) Arts, there is vigorous competition. Competition for badges, medals, ribbons, sashes and such things, awarded by schools and other institutions is probably stronger than in most Tellurian establishments, and such little honours, which might be considered “childlike” in Telluria, are given in many contexts to grown Aristasians (for the idea of “adulthood”, especially for blondes, is not nearly so strong. We are all children of the Empress and of Dea). Competition for the favour of elders and even prefects is also often intense.

So in some ways competition is a big part of at least some aspects of Aristasian life. What is harder to convey is the much friendlier spirit of this competition. In the more traditional contexts, as soon as a contest of any kind is over, the loser(s) reverence the winners and the winner(s), as the current holders of a certain aspect of Divine favour, bless the loser(s). In Telluria this might be seen as insufferable arrogance, but in Aristasia it is actually pleasurable for both parties. The easy transition between dominant (or giving) roles and subordinate (or receiving) ones should be light and beautiful, like a dance, and each should be full of grace and pleasure.

Where bitterness enters into competition, this is seen as an aberration; a lapse of thamë. It is not, in either the superficial social sense or the deeper metaphysical sense good form. Good form consists of an elegant dance in which all roles are graceful and pleasurable; and in which there is always a childlike pleasure in victory, whether the victory be one’s own or another’s.

For the full article see: Aristasian Customs and Manners