Who is Haruspex in Carnival Row, Explained

Created by René Echevarria and Travis Beacham, ‘Carnival Row’ is an Amazon Prime fantasy action drama series that deals with themes such as steampunk, magic, mystery, war, religion, politics, and romance. The story takes place in a world where humanity lives alongside mythical creatures, though their co-existence is far from peaceful. Before the start of the show, human empires waged war on the fae lands, forcing the latter to leave their homes and become refugees. The plot is predominantly set in The Burgue, the capital of the Republic of The Burgue, where the influx of refugees has made the human population angry. Magic exists in this world, though its presence is quite subtle. The term “haruspex” is often used in ‘Carnival Row’ in association with magic. Here is everything you need to know about it. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Who Is Haruspex?

Beacham developed ‘Carnival Row’ from a spec script he wrote for an unproduced film. He always intended magic not to be at the forefront of the narrative while still being an important part of the show. “It’s funny, in developing the season, the season roughly follows the events of the feature in a tweaked kind of way, but I try to pay homage to it [folklore and old fantasy stories] here and there,” Beacham told Buzzy Mag in an interview. “But there are a lot of subterranean battles and whatever. I will say in the seasons going forward, we’re trying to explore the depth and gravity of the magic in the world. We try to keep magic relatively rare in order to give it that presence when it’s onscreen, then you really feel like something exceptional is happening, rather than waving a wand every third second. So we’re trying to create a slow burn magic story that will play out across multiple seasons that sort of flirts with those same ideas.”

The term “haruspex” comes from ancient Rome, where it was part of the religion those people practiced. A haruspex (plural haruspices) is a religious figure who reads the will of the gods in the entrails of sacrificed animals. This practice is known as haruspicy (haruspicina), which the ancient Romans inherited from the Etruscan religion. In the faith of ancient Greece, which bears considerable similarities to its Roman counterpart, the practice was known as epatoscopy or hepatomancy. Even after the advent of Christianity, haruspicy continued to be practiced in Mediterranean Europe in the centuries that followed.

In ‘Carnival Row’ season 1, the haruspex is Aoife Tsigani (Alice Krige). She is both dreaded and respected in the faerie community. As a religious figure, she performs a necessary role in society, different from that of a Mima, who is revered and loved, and seems to have a direct connection with magic. The Martyrite Faith, the predominant religion in The Burgue, considers the haruspex and her abilities as blasphemy. That is not the case with residents of other human nations. Piety Breakspear (Indira Varma), a noble from the country of Leonice, grew up learning about magic from Aoife and eventually surpassed the abilities of her mentor.

After Piety kills Aoife with her Darkasher, a golem-like entity created by combining parts of various mythical creatures, the haruspex manages to deliver a message to Rycroft “Philo” Philostrate (Orlando Bloom) from beyond death, telling him who killed his fae mother. She also finds her successor in Tourmaline Larou (Karla Crome), who is also there with Philo. In season 2, Tourmaline begins to have visions of Aoife. She increasingly becomes terrified and goes to speak to Mima Sawsaan, who looks into the other fae’s mind. Unsettled by what she found there, Mima Sawsaan reveals to Tourmaline that Aoife has selected her as the next haruspex.

Read More: How Much Time Has Passed Between Carnival Row Seasons 1 and 2?