Published 11th Mar 2011
Questions from David Millians, Herve Carteau and others. Answers from Moon Design.
Q: After looking at the pictures in the old Genertela boxed set, I got the impression that the Malkioni broadly analogous to the medieval Catholic Church. Is that correct?
A: Not really. One thing these new Moon Design publications regarding West intend to correct is the impression that either Rokarism or New Hrestolism are broadly analogous to the medieval Catholic church, with miraculous saints, and so forth. Its not: the Malkioni are their own thing, with more parallels to Neo-Platonic Gnosticism, Hinduism (especially the four varnas), Zorastrianism, and Kaballahism than to medieval Europe and the Catholic Church.
Q: What are Malkioni “saints” then?
A: Saints are individuals who “know the Truth” or “has experienced Essential Reality”. They are teachers and guides, not direct sources of magic (although by studying the deeds or sayings of a saint, you can learn to understand how Glorantha functions and thereby do magic). Most saints are associated with a particular school(s) of Malkionism; frex, the several schools that study the healing arts typically venerate Saint Xemela as their teacher. The Hrestoli revere their teachers and venerate them, but gain no magic from that act. The Brithini and (to a lesser extent) Rokari do not revere these teachers.
Q: How did Malkionism develop from the Brithini “atheism” to the Rokari and New Hrestoli of the Third Age?
A: The origins of Malkionism is with the Brithini – strict adherence to the Law, which also strictly restricted the spiritual understanding of the world to the Zzaburi caste (who neither worked, fought, nor ruled). Don’t obey the Law, you die (thus making the Law self-evidentally correct). In the Darkness, many Malkioni were no longer able to adhere to the Law:
- when there are only a hundred people in your community, how can you maintain strict caste restrictions? If you don’t the community starts to die. If you try, the community dies faster.
- when there are only a hundred people in your community, do you take wives from outside (ie from the barbarians)? If you do, the community starts to die. If you don’t, it dies faster.
And so on. The Brithini settlers in Genertela could not follow the Law and survive the Darkness and so they didn’t. They offered tribute to wayward Eranaschula (particularly Worlath, Ehilm, Seshna, Magasta, Ladaral, Neliom, and so on) and used inferior magic to the powerful Brithini sorcery (which they had lost when they were no longer able to follow the ancient laws of Brithos). This era is seen as a terrible tragedy by both the modern Malkioni and the Brithini.
However, Malkionism was revived (for the settlers in Genertela) when Hrestol had his Revelations of Malkion and revealed it was possible to have spiritual unity with the Invisible God AND work, fight, and rule. Hrestol founded Malkionism as a religion as distinguished from the Brithini way. Most Third Age Malkioni sects ultimately derive from Hrestol (even if they reject him). Thanks to Hrestol, people could learn sorcery even if they didn’t strictly belong to the Zzaburi caste (ie the fourth male born to parents who followed the Law). Sure the Brithini sorcerers were more powerful, but something is much better than nothing.
Over the next six or seven centuries lots of schools of thought developed. Some adopted worship of the gods and spirits, others developed elaborate codes of behavior and morality for the Hrestoli “Men of All” (ie the warrior-priest-rulers who came in Hrestol’s wake).
The next huge development comes with the Abiding Book, a book that integrates Hrestol’s Joy with the Brithini sorcerous understanding of the world and promises much more. Studying the Abiding Book results in an materialist understanding of the workings of Glorantha that rivals the Brithini techniques. Under the benevolent guidance of the Emperor of Land and Sea, all Malkioni (except the Brithini and a few transgressive heretics like the Irensavalists) are rejoined in one “community”. Only with the Middle Sea Empire can we really speak of a Malkioni “Church” that unites the many schools and sects of Malkionism (a very broad and diverse church at that). Ascetic schools of wizardry (the so-called “monastic orders”) are authorized by the Holy Mountain council. Only the Irensavalists of Loskalm, the Brithini, and the various Safelstran secret societies rejected this unity in the Second Age.
With the Closing, the Malkioni Church collapses and that unity was lost. The Irensavalists come to power in Loskalm (and another Irensavalist sect comes to power in Carmania where it slowly syncretizes with Pelandan divine worship). In Seshnela, a new movement – the Rokari wizards (with their Sharp Abiding Book) – asserts the authority once held by the Malkioni Church of the MSE (while reject Hrestol entirely). The alliance of the Rokari movement with the House of Bailfes (a Talor family who were the military overseers of Rindland and revitalized the ancient Kingdom of Seshneala) has put the sect in a dominant position throughout Seshnela and even parts of Ralios.
One thing to keep in mind – the Rokari Church and the New Hrestoli Church of Loskalm are probably the only sects worth calling “churches” (ie have universalist claims, heirarchies that embrace multiple cities, and seek out “heretics”.) Most of the other sects are based around a single city or even a single school. Even within the Rokari and New Hrestoli churches, a few cities dominate intellectual life (Leplain amongst the Rokari and Southpoint amongst the New Hrestoli).
Q: What are the priestly offices within the Rokari Church?
A: The lowest rank of priest within the Rokari Church is called a “Reader”. A Reader does just that – reads caste-appropriate sacred writings to the assembled members of the Reader’s caste, and facilitating their magical energy to travel through the Chain of Veneration to the Invisible God. Readers are not permitted to gloss or otherwise interpret the sacred writings (other writings blessed by Theoblanc provide guidance to the Readers) . Most Readers are not of the Zzaburi caste, but are literate Dromali or Horali who have been appointed by a Watcher. Most Readers know some caste-specific spells. “Knowers” are the wizard-priests of the Rokari. They read, interpret, and analyze magical grimoires derived from the sacred Sharp Abiding Book. The Knowers cast spells to benefit their community. Knowers are subject to the authority of a Watcher. “Watchers” are appointed by the Holy Guide of the Rokari (Theoblanc) to oversee the Knowers and Readers in an administrative district (always based on a city). They have full spiritual authority within their district, subject only to the Holy Guide of the Rokari. The ranking wizard of the Rokari is called the “Holy Guide,” or sometimes Highest Priest (Supreme Pontiff). His decrees concerning issues of philosophy and theology are definitive and binding on all Rokari.
Q: What are titles of nobility in Seshnela?
A: Noble titles in Seshnela are largely derived from the military offices of the Middle Sea Empire. Most of the administrative districts of Seshnela date back to the Second Age. Thus the talar responsible for raising, equipping, and supplying the single Battle for an entire administrative district is called a “Count”; the military overseer for several districts is called a “Duke”. A few subdistrict regions are placed under the supervision of a “Viscount”. The talar of a district (or districts) is responsible for justice between the castes, as well as the defense of the district. Dukes, counts, and lesser nobles are subject to the King of Seshnela, the heade of the House of Bailifes who receives the sacred regalia of Seshnela from the Holy Guide of Rokar. The ruler of a district is the head of the local talar kinship group and is assisted by his entire kinship group, as well as numerous hangers-on, and noble companions. Hereditary service is the norm; however, the King of Seshnela has on several occasions removed rebellious rulers and placed a district under his direct rule.
Q: What is a Malkioni Knight?
A: “Knight” has several meanings in the Malkioni West. It means “cavalry soldier” but can also mean the soldier-wizards common to Hrestolism. Thus the Seshnelans have Horali knights (heavily armored cavalrymen of the Horal caste) but the Loskalmi have “knights” that are wizards belong to a school of military wizardry (and worked their way up from being soldiers).