Bene GesseritThis is a featured page

Sisterhood of the Bene Gesserit
Name: Sisterhood of the Bene Gesserit
Organisation Type: Religious and Political
Center of Operations: Wallach IX
Equipment and Abilities: Various mental stimuli, unarmed combat, espionage and intelligence work.
Function: Truthsayers to the Emperor, Arbitrators and trainers of the young.
Intentions: The eventual birth of a Kwisatz Haderach, a super being created through years of precise breeding programs. The eventual 'maturity' of the human race.
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When are the witches to be trusted? Never! The dark side of the magic universe belongs to the Bene Gesserit and we must reject them.

Organisational Information

Jessica
The Lady Jessica, a Bene Gesserit Sister.
The Bene Gesserit (the name being a likely derivative of the Latin phrase "quamdium se bene gesserit", meaning "as long as he/she shall have behaved well") were an ancient sisterhood of women, all skilled in many mental and biological tricks and manipulative techniques, acquired through training, exercises, life and physical disciplines and use of the Spice Melange. The Bene Gesserit's prime area of study was politics, how to shape politics and how to manipulate opinion. Their over arching goal was the "maturity of humanity". In this sense the Bene Gesserit has taken it upon itself the maternal role of upbringing applied to the entire human race. Bene Gesserit discipline was encompassing and rigorous. The Sisters were not only manipulative and relentless in their discipline but they also put a strong premium on effectiveness.

Teachings

Punishments

The phrase "No one must forget a Bene Gesserit punishment" was almost a basic axiom of the Order. In addition "punishments" were often permanent and would hopefully benefit the recipient. The "punishment banquet" emulated a meal. There was an appetizer to awaken the senses of the punished. The main course provided the bulk of the lesson. The dessert would "lock in the lesson". Punishments were not necessarily corporeal but they were always painful.

Prana Bindu

The "prana bindu" exercises were meant to sharpen the body while enhancing a sense of control. The mind must be its own master, desires never exceeding too far the grasp and capabilities of the desirer. These exercises also included fighting disciplines meant to let the Sister defend herself while at the same time enhancing her sense of Self. Another basic axiom of the Bene Gesserit is the idea that we each control our own reality, to the degree that what we perceive and experience is shaped by our own preconceptions and expectations. The Bene Gesserit way is far more profound than this simple truism, in that an adept is able to make herself behave in accordance with this idea, to the extreme of being able to function without food, water and sleep for far longer than ordinary people. Bene Gesserit adepts are also able to modify their metabolism, so that they can function in hostile environments. They can also determine whether they will conceive a child and can determine its gender.

Enzyme Balance

By using a technique called "Enzyme Balance" adepts could even stave off the effects of the aging process. However the latter measure was discouraged lest it "bring down the wrath of all upon us", though one could argue that this "reason" was itself manipulative, the real reason for desiring mortality is that a changing universe full of unchanging Bene Gesserit would hold back the maturity of the human race.

Voice

Put Your Hand in The Box
With the power of voice any untrained mind could be manipulated.
The concept of "Voice" was a means by which Bene Gesserit could influence people by adopting certain vocal patterns to which ordinary untrained minds were exquisitely vulnerable. Voice allowed Sisters to end conflicts or to manipulate the untrained in order to influence events.

Imprinting

Males were controlled through "imprinting" a process of sexual union that brought the male towards a greater sense of intimacy with the entire Order. Many men who were raised by Sisters were conditioned to view the Sisterhood with awe, love and were given a sense of its purpose. In contrast the Sisters themselves were conditioned to view the emotion of Love as a "weakness" of "lesser people". The distorted "tantric" practices of the Honored Matres might have been an offshoot or corruption of this Bene Gesserit practice. Men could and did receive prana bindu training but the deepest training was beyond them due to the physical limitations of men, almost all of whom were not able to handle the Spice Agony needed to achieve Reverend Mother Status. The "Kwisatz Haderach" (one who can be in many places at once) was a male who could survive the Spice Agony as well as perform other Bene Gesserit tasks.

Love

The emotion of Love was intensely distrusted by the Order. The emotion was considered a source of disorder, confusion, chaos and was credited with some of the larger failures of individual Sisters. Thus as a preventative measure Sisters were conditioned from early childhood to be suspicious of Love, to understand that in its many manifestations the emotion is overpowering and that it breaks discipline and conditioning. Rather than have any sort of marriage or permanent pairings Sisters were encouraged to use the male "training masters" for physical enjoyment. Sexual intimacy was important to the Bene Gesserit. They shunned "artificial methods of procreation" preferring the union of Man and Woman, less the feelings of love. Even when called upon to resurrect "their" Bashir the Bene Gesserit used the womb of a volunteer, a Reverend Mother, to achieve the cloning process rather than resorting to a "corrupt practice" such as using an Axlotl Tank. Child rearing for the Bene Gesserit was a communal affair. Sisters with the proper genetics were encouraged to bear children for the Order. These were usually removed from them before bonding and were carefully raised by the Order. Sisters with defective genetics would be sterilized but were permitted to serve the Order any capacity that they could make a contribution. It was a very rare event that an infant in the care of the Bene Gesserit was subject to infanticide or discarded. Sometimes infants and young girls were presented to the Order for training by Great Houses, much as younger sons were presented to the Catholic Church in ancient times. The Order always offered to train young women (and sometimes men) of the Great Houses. Bene Gesserits were also offerred as concubines for Nobles. In this way the Order influenced many Great Houses while building up political support for its causes. Many Emperors took Bene Gesserit wives or concubines. The Mother of the Kwisatz Haderach, Jessica, was a Bene Gesserit. She trained Paul in the Prana Bindu disciplines covertly, empowering him to withstand the Spice Agony and to lead the Fremen.

Governance

The Bene Gesserit order was run through a "Juried Democracy". The Order conducted polls on events of great import, such as selecting a Mother Superior or taking novel directions in policy. Day to day decisions were monitored through the "Proctors", a body empaneled by a vote which at any time could challenge the decisions of the Mother Superior. The Proctors could and did remove Mother Superiors from their posts if they did not have confidence in her decisions. The Proctors served as a check on the power of the Bene Gesserit order as a whole to vote and on the otherwise dictatorial powers of the Mother Superior.

Methods and Goals

The Bene Gesserit were an anomaly in the Imperium, as, though their power was great enough to make them one of the four super-powers in the universe, they relied instead on clandestine manipulation, never straying into the heart of society. It was in this manner that they preserved their ways through the years. Through use of underhanded subtlety and insinuation, the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood intended to create a super-being, the Kwisatz Haderach, using a centuries old breeding program. The Kwisatz Haderach would be the only male Bene Gesserit and would be able to view an area of the inner being that was untouchable by any woman. Two of these Kwisatz Haderachs were created, both of which proved to be failures. The first, Hasimir Fenring, was not powerful enough, and was a genetic failure, whilst the other, Paul Atreides, would not bow to the will of the Bene Gesserit. In spite of these apparent failures both men were highly capable, very dangerous and in their own way supported the Bene Gesserit. According to Scylate the Bene Tleilax also created a "Kwisatz Haderach" by "dabbling in various essences". Essences of what he did not elaborate upon. According to Scytale the Tleilaxu's Kwisatz Haderach "promptly destroyed himself" rather than trying to become his opposite. Whether this revelation was a crude attempt at manuvering the Conspiracy against Paul Atreides or an admission of some interesting genetic play was not elaborated upon. Scytale offered this insight as evidence that Paul Atreides could be defeated by a determined conspiracy which tried to "make him into the opposite of what he is". That Paul did become in many ways an opposite of his responsible Emperor self, a pawn and plaything of the Cast Out who rescued him from the desert while awaiting "his worm", was not known at the time. Due to the mysterious ways of the Order and their seeming ability to always achieve their goals despite any visible governmental power, the Bene Gesserit were regarded by many as witches and dark meddlers, and were generally untrusted by most. However the Order had its utility in the Imperium, in that to many they were also considered wise. Bene Gesserit thus often served as arbitrators and negotiators to end conflict or to reach understanding between peoples. The Bene Gesserit were trained on Wallach IX, though, in later years, their secret headquarters were on the planet Chapterhouse. Bene Gesserit individuals could and did furnish training off planet. Some chose to go on Sabbaticals to train or do penance. The fundamental goal of the Bene Gesserit was not power but the "Maturity of the Human Race". They hoped to bring about an awakening of the human race. The Order hoped to futher the goals of the Butlerian Jihad which had delivered the human race from an infant like dependency upon machines. The Bene Gesserit hoped to finally liberate humanity from its own superstitions and childishness. In order to curb reaction and preserve their own integrity as an order the Bene Gesserit were forced to use indirect means, to manipulate with word, deed and through genetic manipulation (by selective breeding for the most part). In their encounters with the Honored Matres the Bene Gesserit were able to transcend the relative immaturity of the Honored Matres, in a sense performing the task upon them that they later wished to accomplish with the human race. In a sense the struggle between the Bene Gesserit and the Honored Matres was an above board microcosm of the entire Bene Gesserit experience.

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Keyword tags: bene Gesserit sisterhood
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Anonymous Selective breeding 1 Jan 3 2010, 8:30 AM EST by russ.waddel
 
Thread started: Oct 15 2009, 6:58 PM EDT  Watch
I've often wondered what breeding program, if any, the Honored Matres practiced. It seems they had none, that they recruited almost randomly from the general populations of the planets they controlled or intended to control. Herbert doesn't flesh this part out anywhere other than Murbella's story of how she was trapped and taken.
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