Heraldry is as old as the clowder itself and has been a feature of Grimalkin life since ancient times. We have a strong sense of identity and we want everyone else to know exactly who we are and what we stand for. Ever since the First Days, we have used the world around us to identify ourselves pictorially. Many of these motifs have been used over and over again in one form or another, changing as we or our family group evolve.
There are many heraldic shields and devices within the clowders, including those representing the various establishments within clowder. Many have changed over the years; the winged lion of Leptailura transformed into the rampant lion of Longwhisker for example. But the style depends on one’s ancestry. Those of Wildcat and gypsy heritage often have devices that feature knotwork and stylized animals and birds. Mottos reflect the ethics and the principles of the family to whom it belongs. Below is a list of Grimalkin families, their device and their mottos.
The House of Leptailura
The most famous and well-remembered founder is Diera Leptailura, the first Clowder Mother of Grimalhame. At the age of thirty, Diera brought together all the clowders and settlements from Kellisdruinn in the north, to Archangel in the south, to the Henge and proposed a new settlement. All of the matriarchs and elders of these clowders formed a council to discuss the matter. They held a vote and all agreed to found a new clowder on the condition that those who wanted to remain citizens of the smaller clowders could do so and return to their places of origin. Diera agreed, stating those clowders could have their own council but were to be under the protection and jurisdiction of the new Clowder Mother. All clowder citizens were free to choose where they lived and were welcome to travel between the clowders as they wished. And so, by a majority vote, Diera Leptailura was elected the first Clowder Mother of Grimalhame.
The House of Marlioch
The design of the clowder was the work of one Grimalkin and his name was Gefin Marlioch, one of the three founders of Grimalhame. Gefin helped create the first clowder, and was instrumental in the creation of the clowder as it is today with the aid of his detailed plans, diagrams and schematics. All of the outbuildings are also his design. In the year 342 GG (in the Time of the Great Gathering), when the clowder of Grimalhame began to thrive, Gefin Marlioch set out to create a new clowder. He travelled to Birchwood and declared a new clowder should be built. Many master masons and their apprentices helped Gefin lay the foundations and soon a new clowder began to emerge and this new site helped ease the problem of overcrowding back at Grimalhame.
By the time the Clowder of Marishame was almost complete, Gefin was very old, so his descendants carried on his work after he died including his son Reoch, and his two daughters Sorchia and Morvyth (the clowder of Morvyntholme is named after her). Many skilled workers from Grimalhame came to Marishame to help build the underground system, creating living spaces, a school, hospital, kitchen and library. Some of those workers stayed and had families of their own. But before Gefin died, he stated that there should be another clowder established south west of Marishame. The Clowder of Orishame was founded ten years after his death.
The House of Deodar
The Clowder of Grimalhame was now a busy community of Grimalkins. Skilled in labouring and crafts they set to work improving their own homes. May set up workshops and made furniture, household items and tools. Female Grimalkins set up craft circles and made blankets, quilts and clothing and, among these skilled females was Soriah Deodar.
Soriah decided to take the craft circle one step further and began recycling old textiles into new ones to distribute among the needy and destitute.
Her charitable work inspired her to set up the Order of Tir Oliach, the Order of the Oak Spirit, and brought together all the Grimalkins who were skilled in the healing arts and magic to work for the benefit of the whole clowder. As you will see, the Order became much more than a group of select individuals adept in the magic arts. Not only did Soriah create the first druidic order, she also began chronicling the history of Grimalhame and the clowders before it. Soriah became the first historian and Chief Librarian of Grimalhame. The Moonpaw family - as direct descendants of Soriah Deodar - continues the tradition of recording everything that happens in and around the clowder and beyond.
The House of Longwhisker
A gold lion rampant of a red field. Motto: strength, courage, fortitude. The lion is the symbol of the most influential family in Grimalhame. The Longwhisker lion is a variation of the winged lion of Leptailura, the ancestor of all Longwhiskers, a family that have produced a long line of Clowder Mothers and master healers.
The House of Moonpaw
A tawny owl spread on blue field. Motto: wisdom before knowledge.The owl of Moonpaw is also featured with a book and a moon. The book represents the traditional occupation of the Moonpaw family (historian/scholar), and also the long history of Moonpaws as librarians, teachers and scribes.
The House of Longleap
A white goat salient on a blue field. Motto: kindness rewards kindness. Longleaps have traditionally held the position of herbalists and physicians and work alongside the Longwhiskers in the healing profession. Many Longleaps have been named after plants, trees and flowers, such as our current Master Physician Hellebore Longleap.
The House of Woodharrow
A white hart couchant on a light blue field. Motto: no greater gift than love. The Woodharrow family has an illustrious history in the field of clairvoyance and mediumship. Some of the best mediums and psychics in Arcadia have been from the Woodharrow family. The Woodharrows are unusual as most of them are born white with blue or odd eyes. This is called heterochromia iridis, when one eye is a different colour from the other. Despite intermarriage with Orishame cats in the past (mostly tabbies), the children of these unions are still born white. It is often said the Great Mother marked them out as far-seers by always painting them white. Those who are born with blue eyes are clairvoyant (seeing spirits) and those born with odd eyes are clairaudient (hearing spirits) and are always deaf in one ear. Deafness occurs in these Grimalkins on the side of the blue eye but they can hear spirit sounds in the ear that cannot hear physical sound. Odd-eyes can be blue-orange, blue-green, or rarer still, blue-lilac. On the whole, it is the females who have blue eyes while the males are often odd-eyed. Blue-eyed males are nearly always profoundly deaf while blue-eyed females are not.
The House of Brightpaw
A pink paw pad, brown triquetra and yellow sun on a light blue field. Motto: Never a paw idling. Like the Moonpaws, the Brightpaws have a history of teaching. They make great lecturers and professors, and have penned many academic textbooks on medicine, healing and botany, often working in tandem with the Longleaps. They have also produced many Clowder Mothers over the millennia.
The House of Pawsley
A blue wyvern erect on a white field. Motto: the darkest hour is before dawn. The Pawsleys are also drawn to the teaching profession and have mainly taught the younger generation and founded many crèches and kindles. If there is a kindle in the quarter where you are staying, it will probably be run by a Pawsley. They make natural midwives and have worked with the Longwhiskers and Windshadows bringing many young ones into the world. It is said that the first paws to touch a child when entering the mortal word will be either a Longwhisker’s, a Windshadow’s or a Pawsley’s.
The House of Kilclawden
A fiddle with crossed bows behind it on a dark green field. Motto: strong grows the oak that bends with the wind. After Longwhisker and Moonpaw, the third most famous (or infamous) name in the world of Grimalkin is Kilclawden. The Kilclawdens have been famous amongst Grimalkins for as long as any creature can remember, not only because they are exceptionally gifted musicians, but because they can turn even the most simple gathering into a fully-fledged party. Their spirit literally lights up wherever they are in the world and will come to Grimalhame armed with whatever instruments they have and hold impromptu ceilidhs. But the most unusual and little-known element about the Kilclawdens only comes to light when it is called upon. Like the Woodharrows, the Kilclawdens have the extraordinary ability to see the future. While most psychics only see the past and present, Kilclawdens can see events often years ahead. This is a very rare gift in Grimalkins as only desert dragons are able to do this. They are also very skilled at dream interpretation and augury and many a Grimalkin has travelled a long way to seek advice from a Kilclawden. They have also been known to produce Holy or Blessed Fools. Kilclawdens are also unusual as they are the only tabbies in Arcadia who are silver. Long-haired silvers can be found in the Silurian clowders but only the Kilclawdens have the short, silver tabby fur.
The House of McShearclaw
A blue, black and white falcon on a white field. Motto: boldly forth. The McShearclaws are of Wildcat ancestry and are also masters and mistresses of entertainment. The McShearclaws specialise in music and will perform dramatic and spectacular epics in the wood henge of the clowder of Orishame. With their heavy black markings, they could be mistaken for Wildcats if it wasn’t for the fact they are a third smaller than their highland cousins.
The House of Blubane
A salmon naiant with three stars on a light green field. Motto: never despair. Like many Orishame cats, the Bluebanes’ ancestors were originally from the far north, this time from the area known as Fòghrann Alandsay in the Ansharian highlands not too far from Glennmannoch. Bluebanes are what is known as blotched tabbies, that is to say their black markings are heavy with circular smudges and marbling and these unusual markings make them stand out from other tabbies. You will know a Bluebane before they tell you they are simply by their splotches.
The House of Aonbarr
A silver winged leocampus on turquoise field. Motto: triumphing by brave defence. The Aonbarr motto seems a little extreme for a Grimalhame family, but the Aonbarrs are a mix of Wildcat and forest cat, a true hybrid family. The Aonbarrs only came to Grimalhame six or seven generations ago and brought their motto with them. No-one knows why they came down from the borderlands but perhaps they tired of the cold and wild northern weather, or the feuding of the clans. Caught between the democracy of Grimalkins and the feudalism of Wildcats, the Aonbarrs were given the choice as to whether to go north and honour their Wildcat heritage or go south and integrate with Grimalkins. The Aonbarrs chose the sanctuary of the south, but brought with them their authentic Wildcat ways and customs.
The House of Merrow
a while yale sejant on a light green field. Motto: steady pace, steady gains. The Merrows are another hybrid family that came to Grimalhame long before the Aonbarrs, some three generations before. Although they have integrated fully with Grimalkin society, they still retain their Wildcat ways and traditions. Deeply superstitious and devout, the Merrows still acknowledge their own minor gods and goddesses as well as the divinity of the Great Mother Goddess. They will often leave votive offerings to the Irya Nos (the Dark Sister who takes Wildcats to the halls of their ancestors) on the death of a citizen, and leave food and offerings at the Henge every Ceramican full moon for the ancestors. Some Grimalkins have adopted this practice and created shrines of their own.
The Clans of the North
A grey and blue wild boar statant on a white field. Motto: justice by sword and spear. Laird Thenghri Braeblackstripe is also known as the Wild Boar of Anshar because of his size (a full head bigger than the tallest Wildcat, Maddock ‘Mad Dog’ McRednoch) and his fearlessness and tenacity in battle. The wild boar itself, and the legendary battleswine (which can grow to seven feet long and weigh up to a ton), roam the vast tundra of Anshar, fearing no-one. Peaceful when left alone, but dangerous when angered, the wild boar has been the symbol of Clan Braeblackstripe since Wildcats inhabited Anshar before the time of Leptailura and the treaty of Diera and Thangrill Skyfyre of Tharsis.
A red stallion rampant on a yellow field. Motto: by land and sea, no quarter.The clan of McRednoch is the second most dominant clan in Anshar (after being defeated many generations ago in the inter-clan wars by the Braeblackstripes). The red stallion comes from the wild mountain horses that roam eastern Anshar – wild, dangerous and impossible to tame. Unlike the miniature Arcadian Mountain horse, the wild horse will attack rather than retreat so was aptly chosen to represent this most fierce of clans.
A gold eagle spread on a brown field. Motto: tae listen, tae watch, tae ken. The eagle of McLonnachclaw clearly shows the eastern origins of this clan. Originally, Clan McLonnachclaw hails from the eastern side of the Great Arcadian Mountain Chain. At some point in the distant past, the clan moved slowly west, travelling between the mountain chain and the southern Cordilleras. This clan is known for its diplomacy and has often acted as arbitrator and peacemaker, especially between the clans McRednoch and Sprucetail.
A black crow spread with three northern stars on a light blue field. Motto: stand fast and fear not. Renowned for their plaid-making skills, the McClawnocks have provided the clans and septs of the north with some of the finest garments known to Grimalkins. Not only does this clan specialise in tartan-weaving, it also makes the finest Arcadian pipes, sporrans, skean dhus and weapons, especially claymores and seaxes. Not one for engaging in inter-clan warfare without good cause, the McClawnocks would rather say home and make things.
A black raven spread with knotwork design on a white field. Motto: no mountain too high, no valley too broad. Not known for their peacekeeping skills, Clan Sprucetail is better known for its long-standing feud with the McRednochs. It has been going on for so long that even they can’t remember how it started. Moreover, neither does anyone else. The Sprucetails have been known (when they are not bickering with other clans) to take to the sea occasionally. Not the only clan to sail, the McRednochs have also been known to put out to sea. It is thought that perhaps this battle to rule the western sea resulted in the bitter feud that has claimed countless lives of both McRednochs and Sprucetails alike over the centuries.