The Dealers are a female-only religious order which formed soon after the Catastrophe. Dealers have several unusual characteristics in Bridges culture:
- They take no intoxicating substances, in order to play their hands to the best of their ability.
- They are the only religious group allowed to handle the Holy Cards, and so it is considered a great honor to be asked to join.
- Aspirants may apply to the order and allowed to train, but according to doctrine, this has no bearing on whether one is invited.
- Dealers are often chosen from the community without the person applying or showing any interest at all. A woman so chosen is socially expected to leave her family and home without question, even if she is married with small children. However, membership is in fact voluntary, and Dealers may stay for as long or as short a time as they wish to, even simply overnight.
- Men are forbidden from interfering in the woman’s decision in any way under penalty of imprisonment, and an invitation to the Dealers is sometimes used to aid a “beaten woman” of high standing.
- The term “one-hand lady” is used in a semi-derogatory sense for those who are invited to the Dealers yet stay for less than a year.
- Dealers may choose their station: silent meditation upon the Cards and service to the poor are those most frequently chosen.
The Dealers run the poorhouses, which are located in the slum areas adjacent to and just outside of the Pot.
Before the fall of the Cathedral, children were traditionally brought to the Dealers there for their blessing, the typical time for a blessing being on their seventh birthday. This involved the Dealer displaying a set of cards in a similar manner to a Tarot reading.
The blessing was both warning and encouragement to the child and was thought to foretell the areas which the child must strengthen and should spend his or her energies in.
Occasionally, girl children were invited to the Dealers at their blessing, and were inducted after a year of preparation.
See also: A Short History of Bridges
See also: Religion in Bridges
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