The Speaker's order is the collective group of practicing Speakers on xcheamo. All persons with astral abilities who are practicing Speakers are automatically counted as members. There is currently no such order on Terra, only a Speaker's communication network. A few of the more influential personalities often act as focuses in the rare instances when decisions or procedure must be set.
The order is run by the Speaker's council, made up of the head or Leader of the order and a group of chosen representatives. The council meets regularly every few moons, and much more often coming up to a Gathering. The members work separately in areas such as pairing up students and mentors or certain aspects of Gathering, and in groups for matters such as group training and development teams.
Head of the Order
The head of the order is chosen by the council from among their members at the time of the previous Leader's retirement or death. The current head of the order is Remev, an older man with a quiet personality but much strength.
The Speaker's Council
Unlike the Leader's council, members are not chosen from each territory, but purely by their talents, skills, and overall fit with the current council. Members may retire at any time or keep their positions until death as long as they are still capable of contributing. There is no set number of members. They will also recruit Speakers or other astral people to contribute or assist them as necessary.
The purpose of the order is multi fold: (1) to ensure proper training and education for those with astral abilities, (2) to pass along big news and announcements in a consistent manner through the Speaker network, (3) hold placement each day, and (4) planning and running Gathering every 4 years in conjunction with the Leader's council.
Training and Education
Most of the council members spend their time pairing young astral people with experienced Speakers for mentorship, organizing periodic group classes (usually once or twice a year), and providing on-site training.
Pairing mentors and students can be an exacting business, especially with particularly quirky people. Unlike the usual mentor/apprentice relationship, Speakers and their students must be able to achieve a good rapport. Training includes not only exercises in shared mind, but may require shared mind in order to observe how a particular act or exercise is carried out. It is also necessary to teach and develop a counseling relationship where the two parties will likely become mentally intimate and must be able to trust each other. Therefore, the council members take great care in pairing personalities and skills, often having both astral conferences with various parties, as well as physical meetings before pairing young people with a mentor.
While a Speaker may have more than one student at the same time, this is not common. Most student/mentor relationships are one on one. A Speaker may have more than one if they are versed in a particular skill, or if other circumstances make this an ideal situation for those involved. However, the focus is on one on one training for several years, usually from placement and through the teenage years.
Mentorship is also a generational program, where people of different generations form a line of mentorship, as only people in their last 2--3 decades will not have a mentor or older person whom they can consult. Sometimes these chains are taken into account when assigning mentorship with new people, while sometimes not, depending on applicability and what's needed.
The organization of group training is a subproject which several members of the council oversee. They decide when the training will be offered, who will attend, and find people to teach on those subjects. They will also arrange for Speaker coverage for packs during the training. Topical courses usually run several weeks, although some maybe be longer or shorter as necessary. They also help coordinate and assist the immortals in running the season-long training at the Place of the Touched, where there is always a basic and advanced course running.
Group training is held at the Gathering field as a central location and one does not need to be a practicing Speaker to attend--just have astral abilities, whether ralgi or astralgia. Age is also not a factor, so long as one is old enough to have been placed.
Members of the council will also travel or arrange for someone to travel to teach someone with a a particular gift that requires further instruction than their mentor can provide. This is also available for those unable to participate in group classes for whatever reason.
The Speaker Network
The Speaker network is the main and only encompassing communications network on xcheamo. It is used to make announcements, spread news, convey messages, and respond to emergencies.
In most cases, announcements and planet wide messages come from the council, and are spread through communal shared mind rather than along a string of Speakers, as news and messages are usually conveyed. Under certain circumstances, news is reported to someone on the council, and the group will decide whether an announcement should be made, and what is reported.
It can also be used to enable contact between Speakers who are out of each others astral range via shared mind with Speakers in between. This kind of communication may be used for personal news or emergencies if it must be done right away. Almost all other personal communications would naturally be delivered in person or go by letter with the runners.
The network may be especially useful in natural emergencies such as fire or floods, or the appearance of certain creatures too dangerous to hunt normally. However, such communications may also take place via shared mind to all pack members or all persons in a particular area.
In absence of the immortals, the Speaker's order holds placements each day near the Gathering field, and arrange a schedule of 2–3 per day to take care of this important function along with a member of the Leader's council. Speakers from the council, as well as others who have shown talent and skill in this area are included in the rotation. They interview the young person being placed, assessing the person as a whole and often asking both informational and personal or intimate questions during the process, and based on this information place them in the appropriate pack in conjunction with the attending Leader's knowledge of the packs.
The Speaker's order arrange and plan Gathering every four years in conjunction with the Leader's council. They coordinate most of the communications regarding the event, and all the other groups give them reports of their progress whatever their responsibilities are. Several members of both Councils are assigned to this project, and these people are those ultimately responsible Gathering for those four years. It is a lot of work in the last year, and then putting it on, but new people are chosen for each one, so that no one has to do several in a row unless they choose to.
The scope of this event is the largest on xcheamo, and requires a great amount of organization and coordination. Groups such as those who run the competitions (members of Masters' Seminar), the storytellers, and food experts must all be organized, as well as food, water, and camp sites for tens of thousands of people. Meeting times, speeches, and many other such events and plans must be made. The night of the grand performance by the storytellers must be organized with tailors, dyers, and weavers for costumes, props must be made or found. Speaker volunteers must be organized to broadcast speeches and announcements, and many other such details.