Star Wars: Shards
On the world of Cathar, the Catali or “Song Talkers” provided wisdom to the Cathar tribes for over a thousand generations. Advisers, healers and protectors when needed, the Catali were ‘shamans’ that handed down their traditions through song, writings, or “Force-weaving”. The latter being a skill unique to the Catali, where they would use the Force to imprint a song into the Force at a given location. Such an imprinted song would only be heard by those attuned to the Force.
Their skills were invaluable with regards to detecting changing weather patterns, healing the sick and infirm with their “Song Paintings” made of sand and crafted through their skill with the Force. Not being as technologically advanced as orders like the Jedi, the Catali fashioned an entire martial arts unique to them. This martial art combined physical prowess with skills in the Force, called the Onbat. The Catali had two weapons of choice: Moril ( “to skirmish” ) sticks or Punjil claws made from the crystal teeth of a giant Kiltik beetle.
This remained unchanged until the events of the Mandalorian Wars, where the Mandalorians conquered Cathar and nearly exterminated the species.
To survive, many tribes fled their ancestral home world to avoid slavery. Many settled on Ord Mantell, Taris and planets in the Mecetti Province of the Tapani Sector.
Apprenticeship and Training
An apprentice begins training when he is taken on as a Whalee ( ‘Learner’ ) to a Catali. During these years the Whalee learns the basics of Onbat, the beginning verses of basic songs, assembling medicine bundles called Jinshi, and the art of Song Paintings. Of all these, Song Paintings are the most difficult, since this is where a Catali uses the Force to ‘weave’ or ‘paint’ an image in sand to expel illness, bring good fortune, and so on.
A Whalee ascends to the rank of Catali, only when the Catali deems his or her apprentice ready for independent performances. When a Whalee is ready, the Catali begins what is called the Tomaril, or the Song of Long Walk. Once the Catali begins, the Whalee must join in on the second verse. Then they collectively create a Song Painting from the Force sensitive sand that depicts a glimpse into a future moment from the Whalee’s life once they are a Catali. If both teacher and student are able to complete this painting, the Whalee is then pronounced a Catali. If not, they remain a Whalee to continue their studies.
Throughout the lifetime of a Catali, they may only learn a few chants or songs. This is because each song or chant takes a great deal of time to learn and perfect. Some songs were unique to given tribes, or even a particular family lineage.
Catali maintain a deep respect for honor, balance and harmony. As a part of this, they would officiate, and participate in, the “Blood Hunt” where warriors would individually challenge a nest of the giant Kiltik beetles. This ceremony controlled the population of the giant beetles. Without it, the Killtik would overrun a region like a swarm of locusts.
Their philosophy is captured by the first song a Catali teaches the Whalee:
I sing the song of the honor, so I will not kill with wild abandon.
I sing the song of balance to abstain from taking what is not given.
I sing the song of truth so that knowledge and wisdom may blossom.
I sing the song of harmony to ease the ills of those in pain.
I sing the song of strength, so that I will stand with all my line that came before, back to the beginning.
For together, with this song, I stand to defend and share the wisdom that was shared with me.
Catali Songs, Skills and Martial Arts ( “Onbat” )