Home Forums Glorantha Glorantha Discussions Some thoughts on spirits and gods

This topic contains 23 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Jeff Richard Jeff Richard 3 years, 6 months ago.

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  • #7395
    Profile photo of Charles
    Charles
    Keymaster

    Opinion: The blurring might well go deeper than just the identification of the entity as a god, spirit or essence.

    At the level of worship and practice quests, I think that the following apply:

    • When following a theistic path, a questor must take on a role and interact with those they meet as the original role-model would.
    • When following a shamanic vision, the questor must have the right spirits and other items to negotiate with those they meet (which might include actually fighting with a weapon spirit).
    • When following a wizard’s map, the questor must correctly identify those that they meet and know the formula to deal with them (I must admit, I’m somewhat vague on this aspect).
    • As I understand it, mystics start out on one or more of the other approaches above and, as they increase in understanding, they must undergo austerities to advance, such as performing a quest and refusing the power(s) offered.

    I suspect that the more advanced questors gain in power by blurring the lines during their quests and use techniques of the other approaches to get through the story. This means, for example, that when they meet a theistic entity, instead of acting in their role, they negotiate with the god as a shaman would negotiate with a great spirit (and all the other possible variations). Because they go through their story in an unusual way, they achieve unusual powers.

    Of course, doing this blindly as an inexperienced questor is liable to quickly lead to disaster, except for those that already destined for greatness (Harmast, Arkat etc).

    #7396
    Profile photo of Jeff Richard
    Jeff Richard
    Keymaster
    Quote:
    Compared to the days when I had to keep track of whether a given sacred river needed to be contacted via theism or shamanism or sorcery, it’s truly a breath of fresh air. The river is the river and the storm is the storm. They are both awesome. It’s up to me to forge a relationship with them, learn their names and ways, court their elementals. Your experience with the storm won’t be mine, but finally we might not have the worries about whether this particular cloud has a spirit or a soul or an essence. Maybe its servants are technically daimones or sylphs or umbroli or raw winds. As long as they help me do my thing, it’s all good.

    Also because the theist model remains dominant in the materials, tearing down the classification walls keeping me from the river and the storm is a win for those of us who liked the old shamanistic tissue of the world, the parliament of spirits & the bush of ghosts. There’s a little more room for that kind of thing again. So not the monomyth at all. A way to defy the monomyth by refocusing on the here and now of the world. And the river is a brisk and leaping thing again, the storm is wet. But of course that’s just me.

    That is entirely our take on the matter.

    #7411
    Profile photo of David Cake
    David Cake
    Spectator
    Quote:
    This was something previous rules systems made way too big of a deal, and forced epistemological certainty on something that should always beyond certainty.

    Let me be another to agree with this sentiment, and thank you Jeff for expressing it so succinctly. I never liked the idea that some Gloranthan practices were just empirically verifiably wrong (the whole idea of misapplied worship). Or that virtually all ‘correct’ Gloranthan (or RW, for that matter) religious practices could be neatly categorised. One thing I really like about the current material is that it is seen as quite natural and common for many religions to have practices that blur the boundaries between two forms of magical practice to some degree (as Pavis, Lhankor Mhy, Odayla, and Urox all do in published sources to far).

    #7412
    Profile photo of Harald Smith
    Harald Smith
    Spectator
    Quote:
    Not all storms are Orlanth. There are a lot of storm gods out there and not all of them are going to be the same. This is part of what makes the blurring wonderful: two entities might be masks of the same thing, or they could be different but similar. And both we and the inhabitants of Glorantha face the difficulty of telling the two apart.

    Yes! This is what makes it fun and interesting. And it’s what I was not taking away from the initial post.

    Quote:
    The God Learners had that process down to a science, to the point where (arguably) they could take two things that were distinct and force them to be the same.

    This was what I was picking up in the initial thread – a line that seemed to be arguing that they were all the same, but just different views/perceptions of the same.

    Quote:
    Opinion: The blurring might well go deeper than just the identification of the entity as a god, spirit or essence.

    Hopefully it does. For one thing, it would allow heroquests to blur between the different Otherworlds. And would help explain why you don’t want to go veering off your familiar path – your Orlanthi quester takes the wrong path and finds himself in the realm of the kolatings, who must be negotiated with in a very different way and don’t care that he is walking in the footsteps of Orlanth.

    Quote:
    When following a theistic path, a questor must take on a role and interact with those they meet as the original role-model would.

    This sounds correct.

    Quote:
    When following a shamanic vision, the questor must have the right spirits and other items to negotiate with those they meet (which might include actually fighting with a weapon spirit).

    And the magical geography probably shifts because many parts of the spirit world shift around, so you need to find the spirits who can guide you in the right direction to your vision goal.

    Quote:
    When following a wizard’s map, the questor must correctly identify those that they meet and know the formula to deal with them (I must admit, I’m somewhat vague on this aspect).

    I think the map/movement will be much stricter here – you need to understand the nodes that intersect and how to move along defined paths (e.g. find the Bridge of Darkness, from there reach the Cave of Fear, etc.). And the formula to deal with them probably includes knowing or overcoming them to learn their Right or True Name.

    Quote:
    As I understand it, mystics start out on one or more of the other approaches above and, as they increase in understanding, they must undergo austerities to advance, such as performing a quest and refusing the power(s) offered.

    Yes, seems to be that they must be strongly tempted by various powers, probably ones that could significantly benefit them or those they love, and must deny or refute the power. And they must be able to do so across all the Otherworlds.

    #7413
    Profile photo of Bruce Turner
    Bruce Turner
    Spectator

    I agree that seeing the end of “misapplied worship” is nothing but good. Separate worlds aside, the piece that always bothered me was the understanding that most Gloranthan societies survive thanks to the magic they wield. Any society that embraced a magical strategy that was substantially less efficient than those of their neighbors would be much less likely to survive the crises from both before and after Time.

    #7418
    Profile photo of David Cake
    David Cake
    Spectator

    I think that there is no single right way to do theism, or shamanism, or sorcery, or mysticism. Many paths don’t neatly fit into that classification. It is not objectively better to be a shaman that fights spirits, or that befriends and bargains with them )or both). Theist traditions may have have dionysian abandon, or apollonian reverence. Sorcerers may be henotheist, or a pure sorcerer, or a demonologist, and practice may involve unworldly exercises to strengthen the mind, or alchemical experiment. Even the vilest (the Vadeli, for instance) have a consistent worldview that they have evidence to believe is correct. There are different forms of practice within the Big Four traditions, and different forms of practice that cross the boundaries cheerily and don’t see any inconsistency in doing so.
    But this doesn’t mean anything goes. There is no single true practice, but there is most definitely a correct and incorrect way to do things within your practice. And doing it wrongly according to the rules of your practice will have consequences, often dire ones. The correct way of doing things within your practice is complicated, and we can only sketch out the outlines, but suffice to say there are many subtle errors as well as overt ones. And that is precisely why most traditions, of whatever kind, involve the hierarchical transmission of knowledge (be it via a master student relationship, strict rules, exhaustive books of instruction, etc) to guide the novice in the avoidance of error.

    #7419
    Profile photo of David Cake
    David Cake
    Spectator

    Harald and Charles –
    I think it likely that one way sorcerers navigate the otherworld is with reference to elaborate tables of correspondences and symbolic interpretations. They must interpret (logically in theory, but in practice often by reference to exhaustive lists that may need to be memorised) what the significance of the door being made of chrysopase is, or why that angel has the head of a cuckoo and a voice like a trumpet, and has precisely 19 points on its crown. For example there are encyclopedias of such correspondences worked out according to kabbalistic numerology (Godwin’s Caballistic Encyclopedia is a well known one).

    As far as mysticism goes – I think that starting with practice in another form of practice, and then moving into mysticism is probably a common form of practice, as it is for real world mysticism, but I doubt it is the only one. And explicitly being offered and rejecting power is one form of austerity, but not the only one – other forms of mysticism may reject worldly power in less magical but more direct ways, such as by just sitting and doing nothing for a few years. Or subtler ways, such as being content to keep doing the thing you are doing.

    #7420
    Profile photo of Harald Smith
    Harald Smith
    Spectator
    Quote:
    I think that there is no single right way to do theism, or shamanism, or sorcery, or mysticism. Many paths don’t neatly fit into that classification.

    Yes, agreed.

    Quote:
    There is no single true practice, but there is most definitely a correct and incorrect way to do things within your practice. And doing it wrongly according to the rules of your practice will have consequences, often dire ones. The correct way of doing things within your practice is complicated, and we can only sketch out the outlines, but suffice to say there are many subtle errors as well as overt ones.

    And all makes for good roleplaying!

    Quote:
    I think it likely that one way sorcerers navigate the otherworld is with reference to elaborate tables of correspondences and symbolic interpretations.

    Yes. And even priestly rituals will involve some of this as well. Dara Happans utilize the sacred numbers, directions, star alignments, etc. for symbolic associations with the proper stories.

    #7439
    Profile photo of Jeff Richard
    Jeff Richard
    Keymaster
    Quote:
    Quote from Harald Smith on April 6, 2014, 17:54
    Yes. And even priestly rituals will involve some of this as well. Dara Happans utilize the sacred numbers, directions, star alignments, etc. for symbolic associations with the proper stories.

    Absolutely. Logical techniques are often employed for better worship of the gods, ecstatic techniques are often used to enable better manipulation of the runes, and sacrifice and prayer are often used to bargain with spirits or create connections with powerful srvuli. Even though each approach to magic is different, sometimes tricks and techniques used from different approaches. Such borrowings are not entirely harmless, as they can change one’s perception of the Sacred beyond what is accepted by your society or even your cult, and sometimes taboos exist for a good reason.

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