A Keeper is a particular member of a telepath circle, almost always a woman, who acts as the central point of this circle. The Keeper receives the amplified energons flows procuded by each member of the circle with her/his matrix (see matrix), tunes the flows and create a big flow which is sent for further amplification through the large matrix the circle is working with (The Heritage of Hastur, p. 239). The keeper is the "head" of the circle and controls what the amplified energon beam will be used for. Moreover, she helps other telepaths to tune their minds.
Danger and constraints
Being a keeper is very dangerous: the amplified energon flow procude by one individual matrix is just enormous. Lew Alton says in op. cit. (p. 246) that he can alone turn the blades of a helicopter fast enough for it to take off. The keeper must focus and weave energon beams coming from several telepaths and send the result to a large matrix. In order to do that, she must allow those beams to go through her body, more precisely through her channels.
The trouble comes from the fact that the channels must be completely open in order to allow to the huge energy to traverse them. The main problem is that channels are shared between energons and "sexual energy" (this is one of the causes of threshold sickness). If the keeper has any sexual activity (even a non physical one), her channels won't be completely free and this can cause some overflow when they'll receive energons beams. This can cause very grevious wounds and even death (see op. cit., p. 365).
In order to avoid problems, Keepers are trained to not attract desires and even to not feel them (op. cit., p. 119). Active keepers remain celibate and strictly chaste. An even more difficult aspect of their role is that they must remain distant from other circle members, wehreas the circle itself brings members together.
Traditional keeper status
During the darkest age of laran (see laran history), Keepers were sheltered and sacred virgins (op. cit., p. 221). Virginity was considered essential for a keeper and people believed that a non virgin acting as a keeper will immediately died, as told in the legendary story of Marelie Hastur (op. cit., p. 279).
Keeper training during this period included ways to deal with virginity: would be keepers were trained to avoid any physical contact (The Forbidden Tower) and even to have deadly reactions when they were threaten with rape (as in Rediscovery).
Belief in this superstition was so strong among Darkover people that Cleindori Aillard, first keeper to marry while keeping her charge at Arilinn, was murdered by fanatics (as told in The Bloody Sun).
Elorie Ardais was the last keeper trained in the old way (op. cit.).
Male keeperAbout his matter, Lew Alton has a very interesting discussion with Rafe Scott (in The Heritage of Hastur, p. 239):
"Why are Keepers always women?"Famous male keepers include Varzil the Good, responsible of the adoption of the Compact (see Two to Conquer) and Damon Ridenow (see The Forbidden Tower).
Link with the Hastur giftThe Hastur gift, sometimes called the living matrix gift, has several manifestations. One of them is the hability to tune the gift bearer minds to any matrix. It seems that the gift was transmited through genetical manipulations to ordinary keepers (see Sharra's Exile).
source file (Last modification: Wed Apr 21 17:21:45 1999)