Home Forums Glorantha Glorantha Discussions Talking about magic and mythology – or how I learned to stop trying to count the angels on a pin

This topic contains 5 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Jeff Richard Jeff Richard 4 years, 5 months ago.

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    Profile photo of Jeff Richard
    Jeff Richard

    One thing that I’ve noticed about a lot of discussions involving Gloranthan mythology, magic, and gods is how easily we over-analyze the stories. We forget that mythology is necessary metaphor.The only way human beings can talk about things and matters related to the sacred is through metaphor, using (and often misusing) language originally meant to describe things and matters having to do with mundane reality. We must use everyday language to talk about the sacred, but we do it symbolically, expressing what we know or thing about it in terms of analogous experiences and ideas in everyday life.
    That means getting to a single objective “truth” about Gloranthan mythology (or indeed our own) is simply impossible. There is a structure to Gloranthan mythology, but that structure allows nearly infinite variation. All acknowledge that the Sun was killed in the Gods War, and that the celestial phenomenon the Orlanthi called Orlanth’s Ring had something to do about it. Most acknowledge that Orlanth’s Ring is somehow connected to the Air Rune (or at least to the powers of Air, storm, wind, etc.). But with that, we are already in the realm of metaphor.
    Those initiated into the secrets of the Sun, or of Orlanth’s Ring, may experience or reenact that event. Explaining that experience requires metaphor; reenactment is a type of metaphor as well – an attempt to communicate that experience through ceremony.
    The common structure to Gloranthan mythology is the monomyth. But the monomyth is an attempt to put sacred experiences into a framework of metaphors. Some myths inevitably will contradict that structure.

    Anyways just a few thoughts as I continue working on the Gods of Glorantha material.

    Profile photo of Chris Bell
    Chris Bell

    So, you’re saying we shouldn’t make the same mistakes that the God Learners did, mistaking form for function, yes?

    Profile photo of Roko Joko
    Roko Joko

    Most of what’s been written about heroquesting has said that participants perceive the other side concretely rather than as an explanation of an ineffable experience.

    Profile photo of Jon Hunter
    Jon Hunter


    The question is what are they perceiving and experiencing in a concrete way, the true events or their mythology of those events. I would believe the latter.

    In Glorantha the Gods themselves are divided in what actually took place, what hope do mere mortals have?

    Profile photo of Erick Eckberg
    Erick Eckberg

    What’s worse is the scientists out there who try to measure, quantify, and otherwise justify/de-bunk Glorantha. I view the world thusly = it’s a flat as our world was before we discovered it wasn’t, the gods and magic are as real as they were to our ancestors. Do these same folk try and explain or discuss the melting of the wax holding together Icarus’ wings? Do they go spelunking, in search of the underworld and River Styx? Leave the office/classroom/lab behind when entering Glorantha. Get “ancient”. If you just can’t let go, maybe you should game in some modern technically accurate game world where you can discuss the kinetic energy of various bullets and there accordant damage ratings….

    Profile photo of Jeff Richard
    Jeff Richard

    Heroquesting allows one to directly experience the eternal God Time and interact with it. They are guided by the metaphors they bring (i.e., their own myths of the God Time); the experiences they have form the basis of new myths (enabling future explorations of the eternal). But Heroquests do not give us the single objective truth about Gloranthan mythology. In one Heroquest, the Lightbringers fail in the Underworld; in another, they succeed. Both experienced the eternal God Time. In one Heroquest, the path of Gerra led to Illumination and liberation; in another it led only to the Fourth Hell and eternal imprisonment.

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