The Seven Sisters, as I’ve mentioned in the past, are believed to be the “founding mothers” of Vao Artan.  Bits and pieces of a myth-like creation story has been floating around in my head, and I’ve been jotting them down as best I can.  They are scraps, but they begin something like this:
The origins of the Seven Sisters are shrouded in mystery — some say that they were born of the Mother Goddess herself, others that they slumbered in the earth’s womb before they were awakened by some nameless purpose, and still others that they came from the glittering stars in the sky, or the white cresting waves of the sea. Whatever the circumstances surrounding their birth, it is believed that they settled Vao Artan, and that each was blessed with a precious gift. It is believed that the talents of each sister has been passed down through the generations, and that each child after her has inherited them.
(This last bit reminds me, ever so slightly, of the Old Testament, and the telling of the 12 tribes of Israel, originating from the 12 sons of Jacob.)  This heritage has grown more diffuse over time, so that at the opening of this tale, the women (and men?  The jury is still out) pursue the profession or calling that they are deemed most suited for, rather than the trade that their mothers’ may have followed.

However, I digress.  I named each of the sisters last night, and I am quite proud of myself.  Each has a specific bird as her emblem/symbol, and so all of their names are derived from that bird’s taxonomic name (I think that’s what it’s called).

Without further ado, the Seven Sisters:

1. Cygne: magic-wielder and spell-caster.  Her bird is, of course, the swan.

2. Ofrysia: cultivation of crops and livestock.  She is associated with the wild fowl, the birds who spread the seed needed for crops, and who offer their bodies for food once their lives are complete.  Ofrysia is derived from the Himalayan quail, otherwise known as Ophrysia superciliosa.
3. Astura: warfare and martial prowess.  She is associated with the falcon and other birds of prey.  Astura is my shortened form of Asturaetus, a synonym for the falcon (genus falco) from 1906.
4. Atthis: music, painting, and the other arts.  She is associated with the hummingbird, which just works so well, because they are the most beautifully-colored, delicate, precious little birds.  Atthis is a genus of hummingbirds (including the bumblebee hummingbird, Atthis heloisa, and the wine-throated hummingbird, Atthis ellioti).  However, Atthis is also the name of a lover addressed in one of Sappho’s love poems, which adds a whole other layer of highly applicable symbolism.

5. Tyto: history and scholarly research.  I think this also will expand to include things like record-keeping, etc.  Her bird is the owl, as they are wise and whatnot.  The name comes from the common barn owl.  If you are so inclined, I highly suggest googling “tyto.”  The pictures are SO awesome.  Barn owls are absolutely gorgeous.

6. Vipio: science and mathematics.  Her bird is the crane (Grus vipio, the white-naped crane), and I’ve started thinking up wee snippets of ideas for her.  In my mind, she longed to have her sister Cygne’s gift of shape-shifting and magic, but the talent was not innate in her, and there was no way that Cygne could teach her.  She is sad and depressed by this, but the crane comes to her and speaks, and tells her that it can teach her other ways of understanding the earth and all that dwells upon it.

The lore, perhaps, states,

And with the crane’s guidance, Vipio comes to learn about the tides of the sea and the phases of the moon, the hidden mysteries of the animals and the rules that order all things.  It was she who built the scales upon which we measure our grain and our gold, she who devised the system by which we understand the passing of time, she who gave us the skills to erect our most beloved dwellings and temples and towers.

7. Zénaïde: Politics and diplomacy.   Zénaïde is the first queen, and her daughters have ruled Vao Artan in an unbroken line of succession ever since.  Her bird is the dove, which seems fitting, for a queen should first and foremost be devoted to keeping the laws and striving for peace within her borders.  This name is perhaps my favorite, for  Zénaïde is a genus of doves, named for  Zénaïde Laetitia Julia Bonaparte, princess of Spain and wife of Charles Bonaparte, an ornithologist who named the Zénaïde doves after her.  Like Atthis, this is a name with a nice, weighty double-meaning.