Home Forums Glorantha Glorantha Discussions Some thoughts on the Gloranthan gods, cults, and

This topic contains 18 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Joerg Baumgartner Joerg Baumgartner 3 years, 6 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 19 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #5365
    Profile photo of Jeff Richard
    Jeff Richard
    Keymaster

    Most Gloranthans believe the greater gods transcend any specific culture. Ernalda, Lodril, Magasta, Orlanth, Sedenya, and Yelm are all known by many different peoples by many different names. Orlanth is the Storm God of the Theyalans and Praxians; he is called Umatum or Rebellus Terminus by the Pelorians, Baraku by the Fonritians, Worlath by the Westerners, Wangbiao in Shiyang, and so on. A worshiper of Orlanth can travel broadly and almost always meet his god in some form; sometimes there might be different stories attached to him – the Dara Happans think Orlanth is the son of Uleria, the Ralians say he was once imprisoned by the dwarves but escaped, the Doraddi claim he killed Artmal after the Indigo Conquerer killed his son Desero.

    Going a step further, many Western philosophers believe the Runes are the transcendent powers beyond culture and even gods. The Runes are “owned” by powerful magical entities worshiped by barbarians, semi-humans, and krjalki. However, these powerful magical entities are prisoners of Time, and can be manipulated and controlled by sorcerers who carefully study them and know their identity.

    Understanding this was key to the God Learners’s magic. If Baraku was king of the lands north of the barrier mountains, then must be Orlanth. And  importing the cult of Orlanth to Umathela might give the Jrusteli a secure foothold in Pamaltela. If Issaries is the God of Trade, then the exporting the cult of Issaries might create neutral markets throughout the frontiers of the Empire. This cult might become associated with, add to, or even completely replace whatever god (if any) had been the patron of that activity. Thus we see Issaries cults spread as far away as Kralorela and Fonrit.

    Cult also get spread by immigrants, conquerers, merchants, and foreign spouses. Nochet has a thriving Western community that reveres the Invisible God and Hrestol. The Seven Mothers first came to Tarsh with Lunar treaty wives. The cult of Sartar came to Alda-Chur along with the son of Terasarin and Sartarite cults came to the Grazelands through the Feathered Horse Queen. Ernalda came to Melib with the merchants of the Holy Country. And so on.

    Thus travelers in Glorantha can find some of their own gods everywhere, albeit somewhat disguised at times and speaking in foreign tongues. However, the actual cults  differ greatly in specific details from place to place regardless of what the god is called. Prayer and sacrifice, and also libation, procession, and votive gifts, are the elements of cult that make up the worship of gods in Glorantha; altar, temple, and image are the markers of space where the cult takes place. Participation in these rituals are part of what defines your identity; changing the rituals is often understood to threaten loss of identity.

    Religious innovations that result in new rituals raise the specter of God Learnerism far more than learning a new story about a familiar god. Whether food intended for the gods is to be conveyed to them by burning or by having the priests eat it themselves may prove a more insurmountable obstacle than simply agreeing Umatum is another name for Orlanth.

     

    #7226
    Profile photo of Robin Mitra
    Robin Mitra
    Spectator

    From the real world we know similar concepts. Jews, Christians and Muslims all agree that they believe in the same deity, the deity that was worshipped by Abraham/Ibrahim. The names, stories and ceremonies, however, differ so much, that this is only interesting for scientific purposes. For most worshippers this link is negligible. So far I handled Glorantha similar. People may agree that Orlanth is Baraku and that the two Fonritan Brothers of War are in fact Humakt and Zorak Zoran, but names, stories and ceremonies would differ so much that this would be irrelevant for all but God Learners.
    Would you agree on this?

    #7227
    Profile photo of Jeff Richard
    Jeff Richard
    Keymaster

    Actually I would not agree. If an Orlanthi from Dragon Pass came to Umathela, he’d offer sacrifice to his god at the altars dedicated to the local Orlanth. If he then traveled to Garguna, he’d offer sacrifice at the temple to the Storm God Baraku or perhaps dedicate a votive image to Orlanth Baraku. He might not be able to lead ceremonies or rituals there, but he could certainly seek to become part of the local cult (and would likely be accepted).
    And the stories might be different, but they also all share some commonalities. Certain core parts of the story remain the same, even if the details change. More important, the Orlanthi would likely “recognize” his god and could contact him at the foreign holy places. That’s of more than scientific interest, I think.

    #7228
    Profile photo of Martin Helsdon
    Martin Helsdon
    Spectator
    Quote:
    From the real world we know similar concepts. Jews, Christians and Muslims all agree that they believe in the same deity, the deity that was worshipped by Abraham/Ibrahim. The names, stories and ceremonies, however, differ so much, that this is only interesting for scientific purposes.

    Real-world monotheistic religions aren’t a particularly good model, save perhaps for the Gloranthan West, where the differences between sects of the Invisible God seem to have a similar intolerance for each other.

    Instead, ‘pagan’ religions seem a closer fit to the Gloranthan norm: the Romans busily associated and assimilated local deities with their own, and the Greeks eagerly found correspondences between their deities and, for example, those of Egypt, resulting in some fairly strange associations and new amalgam deities. Take, for example the association of Zeus with Amun/Ammon, and the resulting deity Zeus Ammon; in addition to shrines and temples in Egypt, Ammon also had temples at Sparta and Thebes. Whilst a Greek would consider Amun/Ammon to be Zeus, you can be sure the Egyptian rites were very different to those familiar to a Greek. For that matter, even in Ancient Greece there were several very different Zeus cults, and Hellenized Jews associated Zeus with Baal Shamen.

    In fact, it wasn’t too tricky to combine most of the deities of the different cultures with an Indo-European language base.

    #7229
    Profile photo of Hervé CARTEAU
    Hervé CARTEAU
    Spectator

    Interesting. I never imagined an orlanthi from, say, Ralios, could be welcomed among, for instance, the pirates of Sarro who worship Um-Oradin (or whatever his name is). I thought he could never make it to the Temple, most sacred place of the locals, without being killed first. The practical aspects would be hard to overcome. Yet I can understand the orlanthi could FEEL things during the ceremonies, such as the winds stirring his Soul, and recognized it’s the same, or at least a very similar god. I don’t think it’s an intellectual process – it’s intuition, a feeling of familiar wonder, an energy coursing through body and soul. But first, get there alive.

    #7231
    Profile photo of Jon Hunter
    Jon Hunter
    Spectator

    hmmm … a few thoughts on your thoughts.

    Religion and people are a strange mix, and if you look through our world you can see all forms or random strife in religion that makes no sense, and instances of very wide acceptance which also makes little sense.

    Logically I understand religion/spirituality as a mix of essence and form, the essence is the essential nature of the faith and underlying spiritually, the form is the stories and the rituals.

    Where the essence is shared and common the form should not really be a source major conflict, where the form is common but the essence is different that is where profound differences and clashes occur.

    So with Islam and Christianity we have a similar form, shared names, similar stories, but a profound difference in essence with Islam being a law based religion and Christianity being a grace based religion.

    With the different pagan traditions we are very much looking at the same essence but different forms, so agreement between them isn’t hard.

    However with people being people I have seen much argument over minor form issues, where people are in complete agreement over essence, sad but true.

    This focus on form I term religion and avoid, the focus on essence I consider a walk of spirituality and prize highly.

    The gloranthan cults strike me as shared essence and variance if form for the most part, so little conflict should be apparent due to cultural issues….

    #7232
    Profile photo of Jon Hunter
    Jon Hunter
    Spectator

    So theists will usually share the same essence.

    But a sorcerer and theist will have very little room to argee, even if they have common stories, value and rituals.

    #7233
    Profile photo of Jeff Richard
    Jeff Richard
    Keymaster

    Religious war exists in Glorantha, but rarely in the model we’ve seen in the last century in the real world. Followers of a god may attack another cult because it repeats the deeds of that god in the God Time (Shargash always hates Darjiini usurpers!), or because that cult supports their mundane foes (making the god a mundane foe as well). Sometimes cults are attacked because they are blamed for evil events (frex, Orlanth is blamed for most rebellions in Peloria). Sometimes cults are attacked because if they weren’t, their followers might conquerer you (Seshnela feared the Dark Empire, and its wizards greatly fear the return of Arkat). And in one notable case, cults are attacked to make room for a New Goddess (the Red Goddess’ war in Time with Orlanth over the Middle Air).

    But what you don’t see often in Glorantha is religious war over “wrong belief”. The Dara Happans don’t go to war with the Orlanthi to convert them to Yelm worship. They go to war with Orlanthi because Dara Happa is the rightful ruler of the world and the Orlanthi refuse to acknowledge the Emperor as their lawful overlord.

    #7234
    Profile photo of Jeff Richard
    Jeff Richard
    Keymaster

    The one big exception to this is Chaos-worship. The Orlanthi, Praxians, and Westerners do have cults that hate Chaos so much that they will invade other lands to exterminate Chaos cults. But even then, Storm Bull does not seek to convert Chaos worshipers to Storm Bull worship. He seeks to kill them. Kill them all.

    #7237
    Profile photo of Jon Hunter
    Jon Hunter
    Spectator

    The lunars?

    #7238
    Profile photo of Jeff Richard
    Jeff Richard
    Keymaster

    That fits into the one big pattern. The Orlanthi widely believe the Red Goddess with her Crimson Bat is a Chaos deity like Gbaji. On the other hand, most of the Lunar New Gods are not Chaotic (Seven Mothers, Hon-eel, Hwarin Dalthippa, etc). But elements of Orlanthi society do kill Chaos worshipers whenever possible, and the rest of Orlanthi society either supports that behavior or at least tolerates it.

    Prior to Sheng Seleris, the Lunars followed traditional Dara Happan patterns with the Orlanthi. They forced the Orlanthi to submit to the Red Emperor (or at least his Conquering Daughter) and then largely ignored them once the Four Directions were again ruled by the Emperor. The 80 year conflict with the Kazkurtum Emperor (Sheng Seleris) changed the Lunars. After Sheng Seleris, Orlanth needed to be chained. But a good argument can be made that the post-Sheng empire was a very different animal in many respects from the pre-Sheng empire (like a good argument can be made that the pre-Heraclius Eastern Roman Empire was a very different animal from the post-Heraclius Byzantine Empire).

    #7241
    Profile photo of Robin Mitra
    Robin Mitra
    Spectator

    Ok, let’s say the Orlanthi from Dragon Pass would go to Sarro and worship Baraku and the temple guards would let him in, although he looks so weired. Would he alrealdy be an initiate of the cult or would he have to join it? What if a Varama initiate from Fonrit came to Dragon Pass? Which sun god would he feel most attracted to Yelm, Elmal or even Yelmalio?

    #7254
    Profile photo of jonathan quaife
    jonathan quaife
    Spectator

    Personally I feel that it’s best to always opt for a RW analogy rather than create something different. From what I know of Greg his foundation with Glorantha reflected his own RW interpretations based on experiential (rather than academic) exposure to ritual. And of course as soon as anybody exposes a straw man (brave of Jeff!) it will be contradicted–I’m sure that, for example, Malkioni fight wars over differing interpretations of the same god, and arguably the Dara Happan source material is full of examples of the same (and arguably this might be something different). The point is, it’s easier to stick to RW analogy than it is to try and invent something different.

    IMO the nature of a deity in Glorantha is dependent on her or his worshippers. Again one could argue that Gloranthan history is full of examples of deities who have changed–possibly Sedenya would be an obvious example, and my impression is that the changing interpretations and experiences of Yelm underlie GRoY. It would be limiting to suggest that this change could only be temporal and not geographical also. IMO it’s more interesting if the Orlanth worshipped in Dragon Pass is much the same as, but slightly different to, the Orlanth (or whatever his name is) worshipped in Ralios, and still more so in relation to the Orlanth (ditto) worshipped in Umathela. (In fact, if a deity worshipped in one temple or community is slightly different to the same deity worshipped in the next one.) More game play options and oddities are created this way, and players and Gloranthans alike are unlikely to be overly perturbed by the Godlearner urge to explain everything in a rulesy kind of way. And of course this reflects the actual nature of religious worship in a RW sense.

    If one were to accept the notion that a deity’s nature changes according to the theurgies of its worshippers over geography as well as time, and for fun one wanted anyway to think like a Godlearner, then one would be left asking the question, “Well, what is the REAL ORLANTH like, then?” I don’t know enough about the Godlearners to answer this question in qualified Gloranthan terms, I think, but I suspect that the answer would find a context in runes somehow: I imagine that some essential quality of a deity relates in some way to rune rather than to a name.

    #7255
    Profile photo of Jeff Richard
    Jeff Richard
    Keymaster

    I’ve been rereading pretty carefully Entekosiad, GRoY, and FS, and here’s the only example of what we moderns tend to think of fighting over the identity of a god:
    The gods of Dara Happa are jealous. There was one among them called Lodril. He was the first to quarrel. He ordered his priests to destroy the temples of Turos in Darleep.
    And that’s not really a good example since it took place in the God TIme.
    Now the Dara Happans did go on pograms against worshippers of Nysalor, Umbarism, and Dragon worship, but those were largely for political, not theological reasons. Same thing when the Sons of the Sun had the Theyalan missionaries killed. When the Carmanians tried to replace the Yelm cult (which was politically problematic) with Idovanus (which was a state cult of the Shah), there was religious violence (but the Dara Happans had already determined that Yelm was NOT Idovanus. Or Murharzarm. Or a body of Fire. Or much at all.

    And that is consistent with the real world regarding religions that were “not of the book”. The Assyrians and the Babylonians fought lots and lots of wars, but not over whether Ashur was just a pale copy of Marduk.

    It is impossible to answer whether a deity’s nature changes over Time (what does that even mean?), but it is absolutely clear that cults change over Time, their rituals change, and the characteristics of the god they worship change. The Yelm cult of the Seventh Wane is NOT the Yelm cult of Plotinus. The Orlanth cult of the late Third Age is not the Orlanth cult of the Dawn. And lacking a central hierarchy (unlike the Yelm cult), the many Orlanth cults have many differences. In those cities with more than one Orlanth temple, each temple has a somewhat different cult.

    #7260
    Profile photo of Peter Metcalfe
    Peter Metcalfe
    Spectator
    Quote:
    The gods of Dara Happa are jealous. There was one among them called Lodril. He was the first to quarrel. He ordered his priests to destroy the temples of Turos in Darleep.
    And that’s not really a good example since it took place in the God TIme.

    It takes place in the Dawn I think. It comes after “The Peace which Lendarsh brought to Pelanda and later in the same article, a footnote describes an action by Mahzanelm.

    However it just so happens, I asked Greg about the passage that you quote a few years ago and _he_ said (usual caveats apply) that it was really the Priests of Lodril ordering the destruction rather than Lodril. In any case the jealousy could apply to the wealth the Turos priests were collecting which should have rightfully belong to the Lodrili Priests rather than theological disputes about who the one true earth god is.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 19 total)

The forum ‘Glorantha Discussions’ is closed to new topics and replies.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes