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Encyclopedia > Bene Gesserit
The Bene Gesserit (as seen in the prologue of an alternate version of the David Lynch Dune film.)
The Bene Gesserit (as seen in the prologue of an alternate version of the David Lynch Dune film.)

The Bene Gesserit (from Latin or Arabic: see the origin of the name) are a key social, religious and political force in Frank Herbert's science fiction universe of Dune. It is described as a secretive sisterhood whose members train their bodies and minds through years of physical and mental conditioning to obtain powers and abilities that can easily be seen as magical to outsiders. Due to their secretive nature and misunderstood abilities, outsiders often call them witches. In Dune, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen is less than trusting of their motives: Image File history File linksMetadata Bene_gesserit. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Bene_gesserit. ... For other persons named David Lynch, see David Lynch (disambiguation). ... Dune is a 1984 science fiction film directed by David Lynch, based on the 1965 Frank Herbert novel of the same name. ... Latin is an ancient Indo-European language originally spoken in Latium, the region immediately surrounding Rome. ... Arabic can mean: From or related to Arabia From or related to the Arabs The Arabic language; see also Arabic grammar The Arabic alphabet, used for expressing the languages of Arabic, Persian, Malay ( Jawi), Kurdish, Panjabi, Pashto, Sindhi and Urdu, among others. ... The Bene Gesserit (as seen in the prologue of Dune) The Bene Gesserit (from Latin or Arabic: see the origin of the name) are a key social, religious and political force in Frank Herberts science fiction universe of Dune. ... Frank Patrick Herbert (October 8, 1920 – February 11, 1986) was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful American science fiction author. ... Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... The fictional Dune universe, or Duniverse, is the political, scientific, and social setting of author Frank Herberts six-book Dune series of science fiction novels. ... This article is part of the Witchcraft series. ... Dune is a science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert and published in 1965. ... Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, portrayed by Ian McNeice in the Sci-Fi Channels Dune miniseries The Baron Vladimir Harkonnen is a fictional character from the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ...

Bene Gesserit! the Baron thought. The universe would be better rid of them all!

Trained at the Mother School on Wallach IX, and later headquartered at a hidden world known as Chapterhouse in the two last books of the original series (Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse Dune), the Bene Gesserit are loyal only to themselves. However, to obtain their goals and avoid outside interference, they often screen themselves with an illusion of being loyal to other groups or individuals. Wallach IX is a notable fictional planet in Frank Herberts science fiction universe of Dune. ... Below is a list of fictional planets from the universe depicted in the series of books beginning with Frank Herberts Dune. ... Heretics of Dune is a 1984 science fiction novel by Frank Herbert, fifth in a series of six novels. ... Chapterhouse Dune is a science fiction novel by Frank Herbert, last in his series of six Dune novels. ...

Contents

Origin of the name

In the real world, the name "Bene Gesserit" was likely extracted from the legal Latin phrase "quamdiu se bene gesserit" = "as long as he/she shall behave himself well". Bene Gesserit by itself means "(s)he shall have behaved well". This article is about law in society. ... Latin is an ancient Indo-European language originally spoken in Latium, the region immediately surrounding Rome. ...


Gesserit is a form of the Latin verb "gerere" (third person singular, in either the future perfect active indicative or the perfect active subjunctive), whose meanings include "to carry", "to wear", "to manage", "to bear (a child)", "to behave", or simply "to do". Thus the translation of "bene gesserit" is open to wide interpretation. Among the possibilities are "it will have done well", "she will have borne (a child) well", "he will have behaved well", et cetera.


In Brian Herbert's biography of his father, Brian speculates that the name "Gesserit" is supposed to suggest to the reader the word Jesuit, thus evoking undertones of a religious order. Like the Jesuits they have also been accused of using casuistry to obtain justifications for the unjustifiable. Brian Herbert (born 1947) is an American author. ... Seal of the Society of Jesus. ... A religious order may mean any of the following: // In Buddhist societies such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, Korea and Tibet, a religious order is one of the strikingly large number of monastic orders of monks and nuns. ... Casuistry (argument by cases) is an attempt to determine the correct response to a moral problem, often a moral dilemma, by drawing conclusions based on parallels with agreed responses to pure cases, also called paradigms. ...


William F. Touponce writes:

"Considering Herbert's early education at the hands of Jesuits, it seems likely that this choice of name for his majordomo [Moneo] accomplishes a deliberate irony. By the way, Bene Gesserit means "that it may be borne or accomplished well," and is derived from the hortative subjunctive of the Latin verb gero, meaning "to bear or carry away" in its root sense, but also "to conduct oneself in society."[1]

Bene is also an alternate spelling of the Hebrew "B'nai" meaning 'people of', which accounts for the other groups in the Dune series whose names also begin with the word "Bene,", i.e. the Bene Tleilax.[citation needed] Hebrew redirects here. ...

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

History

For a comprehensive roster, see List of Dune Bene Gesserit The following is a comprehensive list of Bene Gesserit sisters (and rare male initiates) from the fictional Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ...

Legends of Dune

In the Legends of Dune series it is revealed that the Sorceresses of Rossak, who possessed destructive telekinetic powers existing only in females and had a breeding plan to create more powerful telepaths, were the predecessors of the Bene Gesserit. As a Sorceress was always killed when she unleashed her full power, they sacrificed themselves to destroy some of the Titans and Neo-Cymeks in the Butlerian Jihad. Later, they expanded their genetic program to preserve human bloodlines when mankind was endangered by a widespread plague (created and unleashed by the thinking machines). Raquella Berto-Anirul became their leader after surviving a poisoning attempt by being the first to internally render the toxin harmless. The ordeal also made Raquella the first to access Other Memory and use the power of Voice; she subsequently established the Bene Gesserit. Sisters who survived a similar ritualized poisoning achieved increased awareness and abilities, and were then called Reverend Mothers.-1... The Bene Gesserit (as seen in the prologue of Dune) The Bene Gesserit (from Latin or Arabic: see the origin of the name) are a key social, religious and political force in Frank Herberts science fiction universe of Dune. ... The Titans are a group of fictional characters in the Legends of Dune series of novels, written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson and set in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ... In Frank Herberts fictional Dune universe, A cymek is a type of cyborg, a machine-human hybrid. ... The Butlerian Jihad is an epic turning point in the back-story of Frank Herberts fictional Dune universe. ... The Thinking Machines are a fictional group from the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ... The following is a comprehensive list of Bene Gesserit sisters (and rare male initiates) from the fictional Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ... A Reverend Mother is a fictional character appearing in the novel Dune, being a Bene Gesserit woman who has finished her training. ...


Original Dune series

Reverend Mother Mohiam as portrayed by Zuzana Geislerová in the Dune miniseries.
Reverend Mother Mohiam as portrayed by Zuzana Geislerová in the Dune miniseries.

The Bene Gesserit existed for millennia, appearing as a semi-mystical school that trained women for service to the Empire as Truthsayers or mates. In reality, they were subtly controlling the Empire behind the scenes in order to help humanity become more mature. They developed a large-scale breeding program in order to create a superbeing that they could use in order to gain control more directly. To do this they sent breeding sisters to mate with those whose genes they required. Image File history File links Ghm. ... Gaius Helen Mohiam is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ... Zuzana Geislerová as Reverend Mother Mohiam in the Dune miniseries Zuzana Geislerová is an actress best known to US audiences for her role as the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam in the Sci Fi channels Dune miniseries and its follow-up, Children of Dune. ... Frank Herberts Dune was a three-part miniseries based on the 1965 novel Dune by Frank Herbert. ... Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV, portrayed by Giancarlo Giannini in the Dune miniseries The Padishah Emperor was the title of the hereditary rulers of the Padishah Empire in Frank Herberts fictional Dune universe. ...


Their superbeing (the Kwisatz Haderach) arrived early in the form of Paul Atreides, who was free from their control. In Dune, he took control of the Empire and held a tight monopoly on the spice melange, becoming the Sisterhood's enemy; despite their scheming, it was his own abilities that would lead to his destruction. His son Leto II, however, had far greater powers and for 3500 years he dominated the universe and the Bene Gesserit. Their spice supply was very limited and huge restrictions were placed on their actions. Their breeding program was taken away from them as well. Leto II's intentions though were, in part, to strengthen and mature the Bene Gesserit — a strategy that proved successful. The Kwisatz Haderach is a fictional name of a prophesied messiah figure in the Dune universe, created by Frank Herbert, and later extended by his son, Brian Herbert, alongside science fiction author Kevin J Anderson. ... Paul Atreides, as portrayed by Kyle MacLachlan in David Lynchs Dune (1985), wielding the infamous Weirding Module. Paul Orestes Atreides is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ... Dune is a science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert and published in 1965. ... Look up Melange in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Leto Atreides II, portrayed by James McAvoy in the Children of Dune miniseries Leto Atreides II is a fictional character in the Dune universe, created by Frank Herbert. ...


After Leto's death, the Bene Gesserit slowly gained back their power. During the Famine Times and the Scattering, many Reverend Mothers were sent out among the scattered humanity. The Bene Gesserit survived for a time with no problems until the scattered ones began to return to the Old Empire. Descendants of Tleilaxu Face Dancers and another matriarchal order called the Honored Matres began to threaten the Bene Gesserit's power. At this time the head of the Sisterhood, Mother Superior Taraza, made a bold plan to release humanity from the oracular hold of Leto II by destroying the planet Rakis (Dune), the only known source of the spice. The Honored Matres were goaded into destroying Dune and the Bene Gesserit brought a single sandworm to their secret home planet of Chapterhouse to begin a new spice cycle. Sandworm from the cover of Heretics of Dune. ... The Scattering is a fictional event that takes place in Frank Herberts Dune books. ... The Bene Tleilax or Tleilaxu are a secretive society in the fictional Dune universe created by Frank Herbert in the Dune series of novels. ... Face Dancers are a type of human in Frank Herberts fictional Dune universe. ... Matriarchy is a form of society in which power is with the women and especially with the mothers of a community. ... The Honored Matres are an organization in the fictional Dune universe created by Frank Herbert in his Dune series of novels. ... The following is a comprehensive list of Bene Gesserit sisters (and rare male initiates) from the fictional Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ... Arrakis, (derived from the Arabic name ar-rāqiṣ, the dancer, originally a star-name for Mu Draconis) later Rakis (known colloquially as Dune) is a fictional desert planet featured in the Dune novels by Frank Herbert, where it is the home of the Fremen (Zensunni wanderers) and later, the... Sandworms are fictional desert-dwelling creatures from Frank Herberts science fiction series Dune. ... Below is a list of fictional planets from the universe depicted in the series of books beginning with Frank Herberts Dune. ...


The Honored Matres began to destroy all of the planets held by the Bene Gesserit and enslave the populaces of all planets that they controlled. They were being chased by far more powerful forces from the Scattering. It was discovered that the Honored Matres were in reality descendants of Reverend Mothers and Fish Speakers that had fled out in the Scattering. The new Mother Superior Darwi Odrade formed another bold plan; she decided to use a captive Honored Matre turned Reverend Mother to join the two forces under a single leader. At the end of the original series, a very shaky truce existed as the two groups were newly allied under new Mother Superior/Great Honored Matre Murbella. The Fish Speakers are a fictional army from Frank Herberts Dune universe, as depicted in the Dune series of science fiction novels. ... Reverend Mother Odrade, also known as Darwi Odrade or Dar is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ... Hunters of Dune cover art: Murbella meets with Guild Navigator Edrik. ...


New Sisterhood

In the continuation of the series, Hunters of Dune, Murbella struggled to bring the opposing factions of her New Sisterhood together (and adopted a new title, Mother Commander). One faction of Bene Gesserit was willing to merge with the Honored Matres to fight the coming Unknown Enemy, another faction believed it to be fundamentally wrong to ally with the Matres, whom they considered their enemies. Sheeana led 150 dissenters to escape Chapterhouse aboard a no-ship that was later named the Ithaca. It has been suggested that Dune 7 be merged into this article or section. ... Daniel and Marty are fictional characters from the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ... Sheeana Brugh is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ... A no-ship is a fictional type of spacecraft from the Dune science fiction series by Frank Herbert. ... Ithaca is a fictional no-ship from the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ...


Similar factions were created within the Honored Matres. Many refused to acknowledge Murbella as their leader; the largest such rebel group was led by Matre Superior Hellica in the Tleilax system. Of the Honored Matres on Chapterhouse, some agreed with Murbella's visions and others resisted assimilation. At large meetings on Chapterhouse the Bene Gesserit would stand at one side of the room, and the Honored Matres stood on the other. After a bloody brawl between acolytes in the schoolyard which left several dead, Murbella imposed a strict dress code forcing everyone to wear a simple black singlesuit. The Honored Matres are an organization in the fictional Dune universe created by Frank Herbert in his Dune series of novels. ...


As she amassed weaponry for the coming battle with the Unknown Enemy, Murbella formed an elite force of commando troops to beat down the rebel Honored Matres on other planets who still refused to acknowledge her as leader. These "Valkyries" were trained with the combined battle talents of Bene Gesserit, Honored Matre and even Sword Masters of Ginaz. Eventually, Murbella and her army were able to defeat Hellica on Tleilax, galvanizing many dissenters into finally joining her cause. The Swordmasters of Ginaz are a fictional school of martial artists in Frank Herberts Dune novels. ...

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.
 
Tylwyth Waff, Master of Masters, Heretics of Dune

Tylwyth Waff is a fictional character from the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ... Heretics of Dune is a 1984 science fiction novel by Frank Herbert, fifth in a series of six novels. ...

Strategies and goals of the Bene Gesserit

Breeding program

The ultimate goal of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, up to the end of the novel Dune, is the creation of the Kwisatz Haderach, a male Bene Gesserit. This is being achieved through a massive human breeding program, which the Sisterhood has conducted for countless generations; using careful manipulations of relationships and people in general, the Bene Gesserit have controlled bloodlines through the ages. The Kwisatz Haderach, with access to both male and female lines in Other Memory, will be an overt figure in the Bene Gesserit's manipulations, thrust upon the universe as the Messiah (see Missionaria Protectiva below). The Kwisatz Haderach is a fictional name of a prophesied messiah figure in the Dune universe, created by Frank Herbert, and later extended by his son, Brian Herbert, alongside science fiction author Kevin J Anderson. ... In Judaism, the Messiah (מָשִׁיחַ Standard Hebrew Arabic: Al-Masih, المسيح), Tiberian Hebrew , Aramaic ) initially meant any person who was anointed by a prophet of God. ...


In the novel Dune, the Bene Gesserit breeding scheme is, in theory, to have come to full fruition from the union of an Atreides daughter (planned to be born of the Lady Jessica and the Duke Leto Atreides) and the na-Baron Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen (son of Abulurd Harkonnen, brother of the Siridar-Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. Vladimir is himself secretly the natural father of the Lady Jessica). Of course, the ever-so-valuable breeding scheme was disrupted when Jessica chose to conceive an Atreides son rather than the daughter she had been ordered to produce. This son proved to be the Kwisatz Haderach, a generation early. Emblem of House Atreides from Emperor: Battle for Dune For the novel of the same name, see Dune: House Atreides. ... Lady Jessica Atreides, portrayed by Saskia Reeves in the Dune miniseries Jessica Atreides is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ... Duke Leto Atreides, portrayed by William Hurt in the Dune miniseries Leto Atreides I is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ... The Na-Baron is a fictional title in the Dune series by Frank Herbert. ... Feyd-Rautha, portrayed by Sting in David Lynchs Dune (1984) Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen is a key character in the science fiction novel Dune by Frank Herbert. ... Two characters are named Abulurd Harkonnen in the fictional Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ... Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, portrayed by Ian McNeice in the Sci-Fi Channels Dune miniseries The Baron Vladimir Harkonnen is a fictional character from the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ...


In Dune Messiah, the Tleilaxu Scytale reveals that the Bene Tleilax created their own Kwisatz Haderachs — in their case, beings of pure evil or pure good, indicating that the term "Kwisatz Haderach" means some sort of creature of essence. Scytale observes that their Kwisatz Haderachs could be destroyed by forcing them to become their opposites. In the novel, Scytale raises the point as part of a conspiracy to destroy Paul Atreides, the Bene Gesserit's unexpected Kwisatz Haderach. The conspiracy unfolds along the lines of Herbert's theme throughout the Dune novels that prescience grants control, but that control paradoxically traps the prescient in a foreseen future that they can not change. Dune Messiah Dune Messiah is a science fiction novel by Frank Herbert, the second in a series of six novels. ... This article is about the encryption device; for the Dune character, see Scytale (Dune). ... Prescience is the ability to predict the future through vision. ...


In God Emperor of Dune, the God-Emperor Leto II has taken over the Bene Gesserit breeding program for his own purposes (see Golden Path). By Heretics of Dune, the Bene Gesserit have given up the idea of breeding for a messiah, instead breeding for special individuals of great talent and usefulness in order to amplify certain human characteristics and preserve them. In this and the last book of the original series, Chapterhouse Dune, the 'Latter-day Bene Gesserit' seem to see themselves as shepherds of humanity, gently nudging humans forward, rather than the comparatively gross manipulations of the early novels. God Emperor of Dune is a science fiction novel by Frank Herbert published in 1981 — the fourth novel in the Dune series. ... The Golden Path is Leto IIs strategy to prevent humanitys destruction in Frank Herberts fictional Dune universe. ...


The behind-the-scenes intrigues of the breeding program are illuminated in the Prelude to Dune trilogy as the program nears fruition. Every generation, a Reverend Mother is chosen to serve as "Kwisatz Mother" and guide the program. At that time, Anirul Sadow-Tonkin is the youngest Kwisatz Mother ever; the Reverend Mothers in Other Memory have revealed everything to her, while keeping the details of the program hidden from most Bene Gesserit. It is Anirul who is able to make the calculations that lead to the birth of Paul Atreides. Dune: House Atreides Dune: House Harkonnen Dune: House Corrino Prelude to Dune is a prequel trilogy of novels written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, set in Frank Herberts Dune universe. ... Lady Anirul Sadow-Tonkin Corrino is a character and member of House Corrino in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ...


The origins of the program are revealed in the Legends of Dune series. The Sorceresses of Rossak had started keeping detailed breeding records circa 400 B.G., trying to improve the potency and prevalence of their telekinetic powers. In 108 B.G., Ticia Cenva led the Sorceresses in the collection of genetic samples of various human bloodlines, as they were in jeopardy from a catastrophic virus (the Demon Scourge) genetically engineered and unleashed by the Thinking Machines. Since the Sorceresses later became the Bene Gesserit (see History above), this process marked the beginning of the wider scope for the Sisterhood's breeding program that would later target a specific goal: the Kwisatz Haderach. Norma Cenva is a fictional character from the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ... The Thinking Machines are a fictional group from the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ... The Bene Gesserit (as seen in the prologue of Dune) The Bene Gesserit (from Latin or Arabic: see the origin of the name) are a key social, religious and political force in Frank Herberts science fiction universe of Dune. ...


Avoiding direct power

The Bene Gesserit have chosen to use indirect methodologies to further their goals, rather than wield overt power themselves. They have noted the Taoist principle that whatever rises must fall; and so rather than taking direct control of the human race, instead manipulate the social and political order with subtlety and insinuation, often using extraordinarily long-term stratagems spanning generations. They avoid becoming or seeming too rich or too powerful or indeed revealing the extent of their powers, so as to avoid being seen as overtly responsible for the rise and fall of governments and empires. For other uses of the words tao and dao, see Dao (disambiguation). ...


Missionaria Protectiva

The Bene Gesserit practice "religious engineering" through a faction called the Missionaria Protectiva, which spreads contrived myths, prophecies and superstition (collectively known as Panoplia Prophetica) among the populations of the Empire. A Bene Gesserit may then later take advantage of the prophecies, casting herself as a guide, protector, or some other figure in fulfillment of the prophecy, in order to manipulate the religious subjects for protection or other purposes. These myths also exploit religion as a powerful force in human society; by controlling the particulars of religion, the Bene Gesserit have a manipulative lever on society in general. // For the Derek Sherinian album, see Mythology (Derek Sherinian album). ... Prophecy in a broad sense, is the prediction of future events or the speaking of divine words (divine Revelation) through chosen human messengers (prophets). ... The number 13 is often avoided in public buildings, also floors, doors and this Santa Anita Park horse stall. ... Young people interacting within an ethnically diverse society. ...


In Dune, Jessica and Paul take refuge among the Fremen after the attack on House Atreides. With his mother's guidance, Paul is able to make use of the planted myths by claiming to be Mahdi, a messianic figure from legendary material planted among the Fremen by the Missionaria Protectiva. That the Mahdi legend has been planted on Dune indicates to Jessica that conditions on Dune are truly awful, since this legend is reserved for only the harshest environments where a Bene Gesserit would need the maximum advantage over surrounding influences. Paul's meteoric rise to power is greatly facilitated by his association with the Mahdi legend. In Judaism, the Messiah (מָשִׁיחַ Standard Hebrew Arabic: Al-Masih, المسيح), Tiberian Hebrew , Aramaic ) initially meant any person who was anointed by a prophet of God. ...


The Missionaria is also used in much more ambitious ways. The Bene Gesserit employ it to prepare the entire Empire for its Kwisatz Haderach. Later, there are plans to unite the Old Empire under the Bene Gesserit against the forces of the Scattering. The plan is to use Reverend Mother Sheeana's ability to control the great sandworms to become a direct religious force. The Old Empire is a fictional galactic empire in the Dune-series. ...


Training of the Bene Gesserit

Training from childhood

The Bene Gesserit begin training acolytes when they are very young, and those of preference would begin training from birth. The younger a child becomes an acolyte, the more likely that child will become a Reverend Mother. The Bene Gesserit do train people at later ages, but only if they are supremely talented (e.g., the House Corrino leader Farad'n) or if they have already received similar training (e.g., the Honored Matre Murbella). This article is about religious acolytes. ... Emperor Frederick Corrino IV, played by Adrian Sparks, seated on the Golden Lion Throne (as seen in the computer game Dune 2000 by Westwood Studios) For the novel of the same name, see Dune: House Corrino. ... Faradn Corrino is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert, featured in Children of Dune. ...


Spice agony

Main article: Spice agony

The Spice agony is an ordeal in which an acolyte of the Bene Gesserit takes a poisonous Awareness Spectrum Narcotic and, by internally changing the substance and neutralizing its toxicity, awakens her inner self and the selves of all her female ancestors (called Other Memory). In Dune, Lady Jessica notes that the ritual originated with the "discovery of the poison drug on Rossak"; the Sisterhood used some form or descendant of this drug until the discovery of the so-called Water of Life on Arrakis. The Water of Life is produced by drowning a "little maker" (small sandworm) in water, making it give up its bile (which in itself is a concentrated form of melange). In the Fremen version of the rite, after the ordeal the Reverend Mother also provides the changed water for the Sietch Orgy. In the Dune series of science fiction books by Frank Herbert, spice agony is an ordeal, in which an acolyte of the Bene Gesserit takes a massive overdose of the spice melange and confronts her inner self, and the selves of all her female ancestors. ... Below is a list of fictional planets from the universe depicted in the series of books beginning with Frank Herberts Dune. ... The Water Of Life is a fictional drug from Frank Herberts science-fiction novel Dune. ... Arrakis, (derived from the Arabic name ar-rāqiṣ, the dancer, originally a star-name for Mu Draconis) later Rakis (known colloquially as Dune) is a fictional desert planet featured in the Dune novels by Frank Herbert, where it is the home of the Fremen (Zensunni wanderers) and later, the... Look up Melange in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Sandworm from the cover of Heretics of Dune. ...


An acolyte unable to effect this change dies. Only females had ever survived the agony, but through their breeding program the Bene Gesserit sought the male Kwisatz Haderach who would be able to change an illuminating poison. The Bene Gesserit try over many generations through selective breeding to produce such a being. A Kwisatz Haderach is given abilities different from those of a Reverend Mother. During the Spice Agony, there are two areas of the soul that the acolyte may visit — the part that gives, and the part that takes; a Reverend Mother cannot access the memories of her male ancestors, and is terrified by the psychic space within her that the masculine memories inhabit. Until Paul Atreides, all men who had attempted the spice agony had tried and died. The soul, acording to many religious and philosophical traditions, is a self-aware ethereal substance particular to a unique living being. ...


Jessica endured the spice agony while pregnant with her daughter, Alia. This had a profound effect on the unborn Alia, who was consequently born a full Reverend Mother with the complete Other Memory of both the male and female ancestors in her bloodline. The Bene Gesserit refer to children born this way as "Abominations". Without the benefits of Bene Gesserit mental conditioning, however, this later led to Alia's downfall, as she was unable to maintain control of the other egos striving for dominance. Interestingly, the personality that eventually took control of Alia was that of the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, Alia's grandfather, whom she murdered as a child in the events of Dune. Presumably, Alia had been more genetically likely to access male Other Memory than the typical Reverend Mother, as her brother Paul was the Kwizatz Haderach. Alia Atreides, portayed by Daniela Amavia in the Children of Dune miniseries. ... The Bene Gesserit (as seen in the prologue of Dune) The Bene Gesserit (from Latin or Arabic: see the origin of the name) are a key social, religious and political force in Frank Herberts science fiction universe of Dune. ...


The origin of the ritual is explained in Dune: The Battle of Corrin when Raquella Berto-Anirul is poisoned by Rossak Sorceress Ticia Cenva with the Rossak Drug. She manages to internally convert the poison into a harmless substance and is thus the first to experience the awakening of Other Memory. Raquella later establishes the Bene Gesserit, presumably perfecting the technique and training others to survive the ordeal. Dune: The Battle of Corrin is the third book in the Legends of Dune series. ...


Powers of the Bene Gesserit

Other Memory

One of the 'powers' of a Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother is her Other Memory: the combined ego and memories of all her female ancestors, passed on through the genes, and thus, up to the point where each following ancestor was born and the physical contact with the mother broken. The ego/memory combination remains a distinct identity within the Reverend Mother's mind, and is able to inject itself into her awareness at appropriate or emotional moments, though the Reverend Mother's ego is always dominant. The first Bene Gesserit to access Other Memory was Raquella Berto-Anirul, the founder of the order, as revealed in Dune: The Battle of Corrin. For other meanings of this term, see gene (disambiguation). ...


A Reverend Mother has access only to her female lineage in Other Memory; her male line is unavailable to her, present as a dark void that terrifies her. Until the time of God Emperor of Dune, the purpose of the Bene Gesserit breeding scheme is to breed a Kwisatz Haderach, a male with Other Memory who can see both lines, male and female. Male memory will be complete untill moment of conception, when physical contact whith the father, through ejaculation, is lost.


Reverend Mothers may also pass their own ego/memory combination to other Reverend Mothers at will, merely by touching foreheads. When a Reverend Mother dies in the presence of another Reverend Mother, the second will accept the ego/memory of the first to prevent the loss of the dying Reverend Mother's experience and ancestral memories. Especially when the Mother Superior perishes, it is important to take her ego/memory so that her plans and strategies may continue uninterrupted. This is first explored in Dune, when Jessica accepts the life experience of the dying Fremen Sayyadina Ramallo. In Chapterhouse Dune, Darwi Odrade is Mother Superior, a contentious choice ratified by the fact that she was present at the previous Mother Superior's death, and has her in Other Memory; she represents the most continuous line of leadership. Under extreme conditions, a large community of Bene Gesserit will practice Extremis Progressiva, a mass sharing of ego/memories with each other to spread all the ego/memories amongst everyone; thus, if one survives, they all survive. In Chapterhouse Dune , the Bene Gesserit school on Lampadas, under attack by the Honoured Matres, undertakes Extremis Progressiva; Lucilla escapes with the "Lampadas Horde", hoping to return to the Bene Gesserit with them. Sayyadina Ramallo, or Reverend Mother Ramallo, is a fictional character from the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ... Below is a list of fictional planets from the universe depicted in the series of books beginning with Frank Herberts Dune. ... Lucilla is a fictional character from the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ...


The Voice

Bene Gesserit are trained in the use of their Voice (it is always emphasized as "the Voice" in the novels) to compel obedience in listeners on a subconscious level. By controlling the subtleties of her voice, a Bene Gesserit can speak to a person's unconscious mind, commanding it in a way that the conscious mind is aware, but cannot resist. The Voice can be specific to individual listeners, but it is applicable in group speaking as well. In some way, Voice is an extreme version of oratorical ability. This article may contain original research or unverified claims. ... Oratory is the art of eloquent speech. ...


Voice control is not magical or mystical. It is an innate talent, present in greater or lesser amounts in everyone, requiring only training to be made useful. A Bene Gesserit doesn't have to be a Reverend Mother to use Voice, and others outside the order may be taught to use it. In Dune, Jessica teaches it to Paul; after the Reverend Mother Mohiam tests Paul, she urges Jessica to give him the 'deep training', the deepest secrets of Bene Gesserit in the use of Voice, saying only that "he'll need it." The first Bene Gesserit to use Voice was Raquella Berto-Anirul, the founder of the order, as revealed in Dune: The Battle of Corrin. Gaius Helen Mohiam is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ...


At least three things hamper the Voice: it is useless against targets who cannot hear the Bene Gesserit (e.g., someone deaf), and its effectiveness is limited by how well the Bene Gesserit can analyze her target's personality and vocal patterns to determine what pitch of Voice will be most effective—a limitation offset by the Bene Gesserit's skills in observing their targets and perceiving its weaknesses. Also, being a manipulation of the target's subconscious mind, the Voice is of limited utility against an extremely disciplined mind, such as a Reverend Mother or a strong Mentat; if the target understands what Voice is and how it works, and is aware that it is being used, he may resist it; in Dune Messiah, Paul trains some guards to resist Voice so that he may imprison Bene Gesserit. The word deaf can have very different meanings depending on the background of the person speaking or the context in which the word is used. ... A Mentat is a profession or discipline called human computers in Frank Herberts fictional Dune universe. ...


In Heretics of Dune Reverend Mother Odrade explains to Sheeana that planetary populations exposed to long term Voice control learn ways to adapt to it, and can no longer be manipulated. This why the Honored Matres have been driven back into the old empire. Over-controlling, they've built up both resistance and rebellion, and are now on the run from their former subjects. Sheeana Brugh is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ...


Petit perception

Bene Gesserit are trained to exercise petit perception at all times, noticing to a terrifying degree minutiae that others miss. When combined with their analytical abilities, Bene Gesserit appear to be witches (hence the nickname for them), capable of divining secrets in persons and circumstances that are invisible to everyone else. Slight differences in air currents or the design of a room will allow a Bene Gesserit to detect hidden portals and spyholes; variations in a person's voice and tiny reactions allow Bene Gesserit to deeply understand a person's emotional state, and manipulate it.


Truthsaying

Bene Gesserit trained as Truthsayers are able to detect whether someone is lying by detecting inflection and change in a subject's voice, observing and interpreting their body language and analyzing physical signs like pulse and heart rate. Such perception of someone else's veracity is an ability that all humans have, in principle, but that requires extensive training to develop to the point of usefulness. This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ...


The training of the Bene Gesserit is very useful for developing this ability, but is not the only way. It is not a skill: It is the development of a latent talent. One character describes the talent as "whenever I hear someone tell a lie, I want to turn my back on them."


Truthsayers are used widely in politics and trade; the Padishah Emperors are never without one. Combined with Voice, Truthsaying is also useful for interrogation and torture. Truthsayers have been known to be wrong or deceived, most often because they are facing another Bene Gesserit who has of course been trained to disguise the very signs the Truthsayer is analyzing. Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV, portrayed by Giancarlo Giannini in the Dune miniseries The Padishah Emperor was the title of the hereditary rulers of the Padishah Empire in Frank Herberts fictional Dune universe. ...


Simulflow

Bene Gesserit also have the ability to practice simulflow, literally the simultaneous flow of several threads of consciousness at any given time; mental multitasking, as it were. The combination of simulflow with their analytical abilities and Other Memory are responsible for the frightening intelligence of the average Bene Gesserit. This simulflow can also be held with Other Memory; Mother Superior Odrade practiced both forms in Heretics of Dune.


Prana-bindu training and the Weirding Way

The Bene Gesserit develop their physical abilities as well as their mental abilities. A trained Sister has full control over each muscle in her body; this is called prana-bindu training. It allows her to bend the last joint in her little toe while remaining otherwise motionless, bend and contort her body in ways that most would consider impossible, or put a remarkable amount of force behind a physical blow. The mental part of prana-bindu, or prana-nervature (prana stands for breath, bindu stands for musculature) is the precise control of the totality of nerves in the human body. In Dune, Reverend Mother Mohiam tests Paul with a nerve induction device that causes the sensation of intense pain. Paul learns that he is not the only one to have tried it, but is perhaps specially resistant; this conversation points to a widespread use of it as a tool among the Bene Gesserit to measure self control, nerve control, and as Mohiam puts it, crisis and observation.


Unarmed attacks are part of the specialized martial art called the Weirding Way, which incorporates the prana-bindu methods of optimized muscle control, which enable one to deliver powerful blows and to move with extreme precision and speed. The basic principle behind the Weirding Way is that, as Farad'n Corrino says, "My mind affects my reality." A user of the Weirding Way has to know that the action he or she 'wants' to perform has already been performed. For example, to imagine oneself behind an opponent at the current moment in time; when trained well, this knowledge will place you at the spot desired. Hawaiian State Grappling Championships. ... Faradn Corrino is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert, featured in Children of Dune. ...


Internal organic-chemical control

Just as the Prana-bindu allows the Bene Gesserit to precisely control each muscle and nerve, they also have complete control over their internal organs and body chemistry. A Sister can completely control her breathing and heart rate to the degree that she can appear dead to most tests even after intense physical exertion. They can control their need for food and water to the extremes of hunger and thirst, and even commit suicide at will by simply stopping their hearts. The Bene Gesserit are therefore immune to poisons, as they can simply change the chemical makeup of any harmful substance in their body and render it harmless. It is hinted that should a Bene Gesserit wish to, she could slow her aging process dramatically, controlling every aspect of her metabolism. Of course, no Bene Gesserit would ever do this, as it would call too much attention to the Sisterhood and reveal too much of their abilities. In Children of Dune, Jessica realizes that her daughter Alia has done this, which is her first sign that her daughter is sinking into Abomination. Suicide (from Latin sui caedere, to kill oneself) is the willful act of killing oneself. ... Overview of the citric acid cycle The citric acid cycle, one of the central metabolic pathways in aerobic organisms. ... Children of Dune Children of Dune is a science fiction novel by Frank Herbert, third in a series of six novels set in the Dune universe. ...


One of the most significant biological abilities of the Bene Gesserit is their control their own menstrual cycles, and their ability to control (at conception) their child's gender. Jessica was ordered to bear only daughters to the Atreides, but defied her Bene Gesserit sisters (out of her love for the Duke) and had her son, Paul Atreides. The Bene Gesserit conspired against the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV's desire to have a male heir and only allowed his Bene Gesserit wife to give him daughters, such as Princess Irulan. Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV, portrayed by José Ferrer in Dune (1984) Shaddam Corrino IV is a character in the fictional Dune universe of Frank Herbert. ... Julie Cox as Princess Irulan in the miniseries Frank Herberts Dune. ...


Sexual talents

The Bene Gesserit are notable for their extensive skill in seduction, sex and sexual imprinting.


In Heretics of Dune, Reverend Mother Lucilla is charged with the seduction-imprinting of the Duncan Idaho ghola. While Duncan ultimately avoids her, it is implied that seduction was and is a tool for the Bene Gesserit. Lucilla also mentions the hundreds of sexual positions and variations she knows (presumably so does every sister). It is also notable that Lucilla is a breeding mistress, pointing to their sexual talents as a major force in their breeding programs, not just in their role as concubines and wives. While Reverend Mother Mohiam was raped by Baron Harkonnen in the Brian Herbert novels, the original novels point to a 'clever seduction' in his youth as the reason for Lady Jessica's existence. Also, in Dune, Lady Fenring is instructed by the Bene Gesserit to seduce Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen in order to "preserve the bloodline" by retrieving his genetic material through conception. She also intends to "plant deep in his deepest self the necessary prana-bindu phrases to bend him," which she later refers to as the "Hypno-ligation of that Feyd-Rautha's psyche." When Paul later fights Feyd to the death, Jessica advises her son to temporarily stun him using the word-sound Uroshnor, typically implanted in a dangerous person who has been prepared by the Bene Gesserit. Paul, however, refuses to use this advantage. James Watson as Duncan Idaho in the Dune miniseries Duncan Idaho is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ... A Ghola is a creature in the fictional Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ... Lady Margot Fenring is a fictional character from the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ... In biochemistry, a ligase (from the Latin verb ligāre — to bind or to glue together) is an enzyme that can catalyse the joining of two molecules by forming a new chemical bond, with accompanying hydrolysis of adenosine triphosphate or other similar molecules. ...


Weaknesses of the Bene Gesserit

Addiction to melange

Reverend Mothers are dependent on melange to give them their abilities. Any person who consumes Melange regularly becomes addicted to it and requires it for survival, however, one who has gone through the agony has a far greater need. Though the effects of melange are highly favourable, including vastly increased lifespan and mental powers, it is an addiction. Withdrawal causes death and individual Reverend Mothers are vulnerable to isolation and being without the sisterhood's resources. Melange is expensive and thus is a continual drain on the Sisterhood's wealth. Look up Melange in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


But the most deadly danger is collective, i.e., the loss of the supply of melange. For most of history melange has been limited to one source, the planet Arrakis. This situation of hydraulic despotism is a central issue in the beginning of the series. The Bene Gesserit have thus been dependent on the maintenance of that supply and the transport of that supply across space by the Spacing Guild. A hydraulic empire (also known as a hydraulic despotism or a water monopoly empire) arises through the need for flood control and irrigation, which requires central coordination and gives rise to a specialized bureaucracy. ... The Spacing Guild is a fictional organization in Frank Herberts Dune universe created in a series of science fiction novels starting in Dune and ending with Chapterhouse Dune. ...


Abomination

Main article: Abomination (Dune)

Other Memory figures prominently in the Dune series for several reasons, one of which is that a human with access to Other Memory who has not developed a sufficiently strong ego will become possessed by a strong ancestral ego. If a Bene Gesserit undergoes the spice agony while pregnant, the fetus will also undergo the spice agony and gain access to other memories, becoming "pre-born". Since the fetus has no ego of its own, it becomes a vessel (eventually) for someone long-dead. This is called "Abomination" by the Bene Gesserit, and abominations are always killed immediately. In Dune, when Jessica undergoes the spice agony with a wild Reverend Mother with the Fremen, she is pregnant with Alia. Since Jessica and Alia are with the Fremen, the Bene Gesserit cannot kill Alia, though they urge it strongly upon Jessica, who refuses. In Children of Dune, Alia eventually succumbs to the ancestral ego of her grandfather, the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, who wants nothing more than the destruction of the Atreides, and is given another opportunity, from the inside, to realize it. Paul and Chani's children, Leto II and Ghanima, are also pre-born, but before they become possessed, they stumble across solutions: Leto, forced to undergo a radical spice agony, constructs an executive of benevolent ancestral egos (such as Paul and his father Leto I) who protect him; Ghanima, as part of their plan to fake Leto's death, consciously blocks the memory of Leto and their plan, inadvertently developing a mental discipline capable of protecting her undeveloped ego. She also uses the ego of her mother, Chani, as a 'door guard' of her other alter egos, only 'peeking behind the door' when she needs advice from her Other Memories. Abomination, in the context of the Dune series written by Frank Herbert, refers to one who aquires full concience as a fetus as a result of being exposed to the spice agony, gaining to all their ancestral memories before birth. ... Spiritual possession is a concept of many religions and tales, where it is believed that a demon, or disincarnate being, may take temporary control of a human body, resulting in noticeable changes in behaviour. ... Chani (short for Chanisihayah) is a fictional character featured in Frank Herberts science fiction Dune universe. ... Ghanima (meaning spoil of war in the Fremen language) is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ...


The litany against fear

Main article: Litany against fear

In the Dune novel, the Bene Gesserit used the following chanted words to reduce their fear. The Litany against fear is a fictional incantation spoken by characters in Frank Herberts Dune and its sequels in order to focus their minds in times of peril. ...

"I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain."

Other productions based on the novel alter the litany. The version from David Lynch's film ends at "over me and through me'"—the last three sentences are removed. The litany is also slightly different in the TV-miniseries of Dune and Children of Dune (Children of Dune adapts Dune Messiah and Children of Dune into one miniseries). For other persons named David Lynch, see David Lynch (disambiguation). ... Dune is a 1984 science fiction film directed by David Lynch, based on the 1965 Frank Herbert novel of the same name. ... A litany, in Christian worship, is a form of prayer used in church services and processions, and consisting of a number of petitions. ... Frank Herberts Dune was a three-part miniseries based on the 1965 novel Dune by Frank Herbert. ... Children of Dune was the sequel to the 2000 Dune miniseries produced by the United States Sci Fi channel. ...

"I will not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
I will face my fear.
I will let it pass through me."

In fact, many characters throughout the series say the Litany in a slightly personalized form, although the core concepts remain.


See also

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Dune is a science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert and published in 1965. ... Lady Jessica Atreides, portrayed by Saskia Reeves in the Dune miniseries Jessica Atreides is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ... Paul Atreides, as portrayed by Kyle MacLachlan in David Lynchs Dune (1985), wielding the infamous Weirding Module. Paul Orestes Atreides is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ... Gaius Helen Mohiam is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ... Dune: House Atreides Dune: House Harkonnen Dune: House Corrino Prelude to Dune is a prequel trilogy of novels written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, set in Frank Herberts Dune universe. ... The following is a comprehensive list of Bene Gesserit sisters (and rare male initiates) from the fictional Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. ...

References

  1. ^ pg 75-76, Touponce 1988
  • Touponce, William F. (1988), Frank Herbert, Boston, Massachusetts: Twayne Publishers imprint, G. K. Hall & Co, ISBN 0-8057-7514-5; PS3558.E63Z89

External links

  • Bene Gesserit Sayings
  • I Stand In The Sacred Human Presence - short excerpt related to BG initiation

  Results from FactBites:
 
Bene Gesserit - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (4210 words)
In the novel Dune, the Bene Gesserit breeding scheme was, in theory, to have come to full fruition from the union of an Atreides daughter (born of the Lady Jessica and the Duke Leto Atreides) and the Na-Baron Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen (son of Abulurd Harkonnen, brother of the Siridar-Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.
Without the benefits of Bene Gesserit mental conditioning, however, this led to her downfall as she was unable to maintain control of the other egos striving for dominance.
Bene Gesserit are trained in the use of their Voice (it is always emphasized as "the Voice" in the novels) to compel obedience in listeners on a subconscious level.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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