"In peasant villages on this
world," he continued, "each hut was originally
built around a flat stone which was placed in the center
of the circular dwelling. It was carved with the family
sign and was called the Home Stone. It was, so to speak,
a symbol of sovereignty, or territory, and each peasant,
in his own hut, was a sovereign."
---Tarnsman of Gor, 2:26
It is a rock, usually a simple
looking stone on which a letter is carved although as rich a stone
as a topaz has been used. It is the center of many rituals, myths,
beliefs and even laws. It is said that none would ever stand in
the way of a man carrying a Home Stone, first as a show of the deep
respect which the Home Stone commands, and second, for the fierceness
with which it would be defended.
father had risen to his feet and had begun to pace the room,
and his eyes seemed strangely alive. In time I would come
to understand more of what he felt. Indeed, there is a saying
on Gor, a saying whose origin is lost in the past of this
strange planet, that one who speaks of Home Stones should
stand, for matters of honor are here involved, and honor
is respected in the barbaric codes of Gor.
---Tarnsman of Gor, 2:27
he said, "I carry a Home Stone."
I stood back and made no move to draw my weapon. Though
I was of the caste of warriors and he of peasants, and I
armed and he carrying naught but a crude tool, I would not
dispute his passage. One does not lightly dispute the passage
of one who carries his Home Stone.
---Nomads of Gor, 1:1
It sits at the centermost
point of the hut, the village or the city, and although the more
commonly spoken of Home Stone is that of a city, we are told that
each man having earned the right to have a Home Stone, would have
such an item in his home.
is your caste?" I asked.
"I am of the peasants," he said proudly. It was
a large, broad man, with yellow, shaggy hair. His hair,
too, was sheared at the base of his neck; he, too, wore
a collar of hammered iron.
"Do you have a city?" I asked.
"I had a free holding," he said proudly.
"A Home Stone?" I asked.
"Mine own," he said. "In my hut."
"Near what city," I asked, "did your holding
"Near Ar," said he.
---Raiders of Gor, 8:84
The Home Stone, it would
seem, holds the power to make or break a city by the mere fact of
its existence and we are reminded at times, of the ancient rituals
and beliefs surrounding tribal icons and totems, of the power they
held in keeping tribes together and safe from disaster.
Historically, we are told
that the very name of the planet, the 'rock' these people live on,
is indeed the Gorean word for 'Home Stone'. We are also given the
legend of Hesius, said to be one of the many mythical theories of
the origin of the Home Stone, which claims to supply the origin
of the tradition of Home Stones, and the origin of the very first
of these Stones, that of the City of Ar.
account has it that an ancient hero, Hesius, once performed great
labors for Priest-Kings, and was promised a reward greater than
gold and silver. He was given, however, only a flat piece of rock
with a single character inscribed upon it, the first letter in the
name of his native village. He reproached the Priest-Kings with
their niggardliness, and what he regarded as their breach of faith.
He was told, however, that what they gave him was indeed worth far
more than gold and silver, that it was a "Home Stone."
He returned to his native village, which was torn with war and strife.
He told the story there, and put the stone in the market place.
"If the Priest-Kings say this is worth more than gold and silver,"
said a wise man, "it must be true." "Yes," said
the people. "Whose Home Stone is it?" asked the people,
"yours or ours?" "Ours," responded Hesius. Weapons
were then laid aside, and peace pledged. The name of the village
was "Ar." It is generally accepted in Gorean tradition
that the Home Stone of Ar is the oldest Home Stone on Gor.
---Dancer of Gor, 20:302
There are, of course, less
romantic theories on the origin of the Home Stone, socio-economic
and political in nature. For example, some believe that the concept
was born of a necessity to give the peasants and lower castes of
the labor force a sense of belonging which would ensure their loyalty
to a city, their willing participation to its development and survival.
laborers share a Home Stone with the aristocracies of these cities,
the upper castes, the higher families, the richer families, and
so on. Accordingly, because of this commonality of the Home Stone,
love of their city, the sharing of citizenship, and such, there
is generally a harmonious set of economic compromises obtaining
between the upper castes, and classes, and the lower castes, and
the labor force, in general. Happily, most of these compromises
are unquestioned matters of cultural tradition. They are taken for
granted, usually, by ail the citizens, and their remote origins,
sometimes doubtless the outcome of internecine strife, of class
war, of street fighting and riots, of bloody, house-to-house, determinations
in the past, and such, are seldom investigated, save perhaps by
historians, scribes of the past, some seeking, it seems, to know
the truth, for its own sake, others seemingly seeking lessons in
the rich labyrinths of history, in previous human experience, what
is to be emulated, and what is to be avoided. Some think that out
of such crises came the invention of the Home Stone....
---Dancer of Gor, 20:301-302
The various rituals which
involve the Home Stone can be found scattered throughout the Chronicles
of the Counter Earth, but would appear to have passed the barriers
of distance in how alike they are, from city to city. Passage to
adulthood, the time when a man or woman becomes full citizen of
a given city, is habitually subject to a ceremony which involves
touching and sometimes kissing the Home Stone. Planting feasts,
those times of prayer for healthy crops, are also usually the source
of Home Stone-centered festivities.
surprised to hear such sentiments," I said, "from those
who must once have held and kissed the Home Stone of Ar." This
was a reference to the citizenship ceremony which, following the
oath of allegiance to the city, involves an actual touching of the
city's Home Stone. This may be the only time in the life of a citizen
of the city that they actually touch the Home Stone. In Ar, as in
many Gorean cities, citizenship is confirmed in a ceremony of this
sort. Nonperformance of this ceremony, upon reaching intellectual
majority, can be a cause for expulsion from the city. The rationale
seems to be that the community has a right to expect allegiance
from its members.
---Vagabonds of Gor, 28:303
Warriors pledge their swords
to them, and willingly die to protect them, not only that which
they represent, but the physical rock itself. That the Stone remains
intact, beyond even the people of its city, holds a degree of importance
that gives the reader a sense of mythical power and life.
Home, on Gor, is
not defined by territory, but by the presence of this Stone.
could now, if it wished, the Home Stone moving, even migrate to
new lands. In Gorean law allegiances to a Home Stone, and not physical
structures and locations, tend to define communities.
---Blood Brothers of Gor, 54:473-474
The concept of the Home Stone
is perhaps one of the most intangible of Gorean beliefs. On one
hand, we can compare the Stone to our Earth symbolism of flags,
banners, armories. The warrior, for example, pledges his sword to
it, citizens of a same city refer to each other as 'sharing a Home
Stone'. Clearly, it symbolizes the heart of a city, a village, a
home; the banner under which its citizens will rally.
We here on Earth fight for
the flag, yet we understand that it is not the flag itself we fight
for, but what it represents. In that, we can compare the notions
to a degree. Yet limiting our study of this notion to this parallel
is clearly not enough. Here on Earth, there is no one flag to a
country, the symbol can then not be stolen as its representation
would simply be replaced by another identical one. The 'concept'
of the flag, does not reside in one physical item and in that we
cannot sum up the concept of the Home Stone by comparing it to the
Home Stone-sometimes little more than a crude piece of carved rock,
dating back perhaps several hundred generations to when the city
was only a cluster of huts by the bank of a river, sometimes a magnificent
and impressively wrought, jewel-encrusted cube of marble or granite-the
city finds its symbol. Yet to speak of a symbol is to fall short
of the mark. It is almost as if the city itself were identified
with the Home Stone, as if it were to the city what life is to a
man. The myths of these matters have it that while the Home Stone
survives, so, too, must the city.
But not only
is it the case that each city has its Home Stone. The simplest and
humblest village, and even the most primitive hut in that village,
perhaps only a cone of straw, will contain its own Home Stone, as
will the fantastically appointed chambers of the Administrator of
so great a city as Ar.
---Outlaw of Gor, 2:22-23
Indeed, how to explain that
the disappearance of what is physically a lifeless rock, could be
the source of an entire empire's downfall? There are no easy answers
to that question and one can only try to grasp the extent of the
power which is accorded to the Home Stone and the depth of its influence
on the Gorean people.
looked at my father. "I am sorry," I said, "that
Ko-ro-ba was destroyed."
father laughed. "Ko-ro-ba was not destroyed,"
was puzzled, for I myself had looked upon the valley of
Ko-ro-ba and had seen that the city had vanished.
said my father, reaching into a leather sack that he wore
slung about his shoulder, "is Ko-ro-ba," and he
drew forth the small, flat Home Stone of the City, in which
Gorean custom invests the meaning, the significance, the
reality of a city itself. "Ko-ro-ba cannot be destroyed,"
said my father, "for its Home Stone has not perished!"
father had taken the Stone from the City before it had been
destroyed. For years he had carried it on his own person.
---Priest-Kings of Gor, 33:304
Jason Marshall compares the
Home Stone to the center point of a circle and in that perhaps symbolically
at least, can we begin to glimpse at meaning. The Home Stone of
a given home, village or city will indeed be central to the territory,
but more importantly, the Stone is the center of the city's reason
for existence. The example of Port Kar is undoubtedly the most powerful
reminder of this.
The City of Port Kar, as
we find it when Bosk first enters it, is clearly considered a land
of 'nothingness'. The population of Port Kar is said to be of no
particular belief or breed, composed of thieves, outlaws, and generally
unwanted types rejected from other cities. Though it exists in the
physical sense, buildings, ships, markets, various homes and such,
we are given ample examples and comments on the absence of common
purpose or value. The dark and unruly nature of the city is somehow
acceptable and even expected that Port Kar cannot have this worth
or value simply because it has no Home Stone. The men and women
of Port Kar are, it seems, expected to behave in dishonorable and
dishonest fashion and not truly found at fault for it, as if somehow,
they could be no other way.
This becomes extremely vivid
when the city itself is threatened and its people run. Port Kar,
though it is their home and where their lives and assets lay, is
unworthy of dying for, and as a Home Stone is produced, the mindset
of an entire population changes. As if magically, the physical existence
of this stone gives the city a life it did not have. We are witness
to a complete turn about of attitude then, which is difficult to
understand, as much as it was to grasp the lack of interest which
was demonstrated before this Stone appeared.
what of Port Kar?" I asked.
"She has no Home Stone," said one of the men.
I smiled. It was true. Port Kar, of all the cities on Gor, was the
only one that had no Home Stone. I did not know if men did not love
her because she had no Home Stone, or that she had no Home Stone
because men did not love her.
The officer had proposed, as clearly as one might, that the city
be abandoned to the flames, and to the ravaging seamen of Cos and
Port Kar had no Home Stone.
"How many of you think," I asked, "that Port Kar
has no Home Stone?"
The men looked at one another, puzzled. All knew, of course, that
she had no Home Stone.
There was silence.
Then, after a time, Tab said, "I think that she might have
"But," said I, "she does not yet have one."
"No," said Tab.
"I," said one of the men, "wonder what it would be
like to live in a city where there was a Home Stone."
"How does a city obtain a Home Stone?" I asked.
"Men decide that she shall have one," said Tab.
"Yes," I said, "that is how it is that a city obtains
a Home Stone."
The men looked at one another.
"Send the slave boy Fish before me," I said.
The men looked at one another, not understanding, but one went to
fetch the boy.
I knew that none of the slaves would have fled. They would not have
been able to. The alarm had come in the night, and, at night, in
a Gorean household, it is common for the slaves to be confined;
certainly in my house, as a wise precaution, I kept my slaves well
secured; even Midice, when she had snuggled against me in the love
furs, when I had finished with her, was always chained by the left
ankle to the slave ring set in the bottom of my couch. Fish would
have been chained in the kitchen, side by side with Vina.
The boy, white-faced, alarmed, was shoved into my presence.
"Go outside," I told him, "and find a rock, and bring
it to me."
He looked at me.
"Hurry!" I said.
He turned about and ran from the room.
We waited quietly, not speaking, until he had returned. He held
in his hand a sizable rock, somewhat bigger than my fist. It was
a common rock, not very large, and gray and heavy, granular in texture.
I took the rock.
"A knife," I said.
I was handed a knife.
I cut in the rock the initials, in block Gorean script, of Port
Then I held out in my hand the rock.
I held it up so that the men could see.
"What have I here?" I asked.
Tab said it, and quietly, "The Home Stone of Port Kar."
"Now," said I, facing the man who had told me there was
but one choice, that of flight, "shall we fly?"
He looked at the simple rock, wonderingly. "I have never had
a Home Stone before," he said.
"Shall we fly?" I asked.
"Not if we have a Home Stone," he said.
I held up the rock. "Do we have a Home Stone?" I asked
"I will accept it as my Home Stone," said the slave boy,
Fish. None of the men laughed. The first to accept the Home Stone
of Port Kar was only a boy, and a slave. But he had spoken as a
"And I!" cried Thurnock, in his great, booming voice.
"And I!" said Clitus.
"And I!" said Tab.
"And I!" cried the men in the room. And, suddenly, the
room was filled with cheers and more than a hundred weapons left
their sheaths and saluted the Home Stone of Port Kar. I saw weathered
seamen weep and cry out, brandishing their swords. There was joy
in that room then such as I had never before seen it. And there
was a belonging, and a victory, and a meaningfulness, and cries,
and the clashing of weapons, and tears and, in that instant, love.
---Raiders of Gor, 16:250
Similar situations are seen
throughout the series; the theft of the luck of Ar for example,
sending the entire city into a chaos so intense that we almost expect
the skies to darken. The survival of the Home Stone of Ko-Ro-Ba,
although the entire city has been destroyed, seeming to be more
important than the walls and buildings themselves and unquestionably
believed to be motive enough for the scattered citizens of the former
city to travel back to its ruins and rebuild. The keeping of conquered
cities' Home Stones in the conquering city as was done by Ar, ensuring
its power over them, is yet another example of the powers attributed
to the symbol as well as to the physical object itself.
the explanation for the Gorean political arrangements and attitudes
in the institution of the Home Stone. It is the Home Stone which,
for the Gorean, marks the center. I think it is because of their
Home Stones that the Gorean tends to think of territory as something
from the inside out, so to speak, rather than from the outside in.
Consider again the analogy of the circle. For the Gorean the Home
Stone would mark the point of the circle's center. It is the Home
Stone which, so to speak, determines the circle. There can be a
point without a circle; but there can be no circle without its central
point. But let me not try to speak of Home Stones. If you have a
Home Stone, I need not speak. If you do not have a Home Stone, how
could you understand what I might say?
---Fighting Slave of Gor, 11:144
Confusing at best, this God-like
property given to a single item, but then maybe it is that its meaning
is simply not something we here on Earth have what it takes to understand.
It is no wonder John Norman so often mentions the necessity of looking
at Gor from the inside, and how impossible it is to understand this
world from the outside.
the most significant difference between the man of Earth and the
Gorean is that the Gorean has a Home Stone, and the man of Earth
does not. It is difficult to make clear to a non-Gorean the significance
of the Home Stone, for the non-Gorean has never had a Home Stone,
and thus cannot understand its meaning, its reality. I think that
I shall not try to make clear what is the significance to a Gorean
of the Home Stone. It would be difficult to put into words; indeed,
it is perhaps impossible to put into words; I shall not try. I think
this is one of the saddest things about the men of Earth, that they
have no Home Stone.
---Slave Girl of Gor, 9:213-214