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Jrusteli Theism


Sir_Godspeed

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I've always thought of the 2nd Age Jrusteli as monotheists in a "purist" Western/Malkioni vein, but the Sourcebook refers to Wachaza as the "war god of the Jrusteli", which made me a bit confused. Additionally, they were supposedly harboring a clandestine worship of Dirot as well. 

So did the Jrusteli combine Invisible God worship/sorcery with polytheism? Was it a pluralistic society with the theist cults standing aside from the sorcerer castes, or was it a case of the sorcerers enforcing their will on Wachaza and Diroti (or alternatively, gaming their worship rituals for benefits), or is there some other process/dynamic at play? 

Cheers.

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Did you need to be an initiate of a god to use God Learner sorcery to manipulate theist magic? Or are they just sorcery spells which any God Learner could access?

If you needed to be an initiate, the Jrusteli might all be theists, just very badly behaved theists.

If you didn't need to be an initiate, there were no limits, any God Learner sorcerer could learn and practice any available magic, without fear of retribution.

 

Edited by EricW
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3 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

I've always thought of the 2nd Age Jrusteli as monotheists in a "purist" Western/Malkioni vein, but the Sourcebook refers to Wachaza as the "war god of the Jrusteli", which made me a bit confused. Additionally, they were supposedly harboring a clandestine worship of Dirot as well. 

The Glorantha Sourcebook is merely repeating something that Greg's written about the Jrusteli for quite some time.

3 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

So did the Jrusteli combine Invisible God worship/sorcery with polytheism? Was it a pluralistic society with the theist cults standing aside from the sorcerer castes, or was it a case of the sorcerers enforcing their will on Wachaza and Diroti (or alternatively, gaming their worship rituals for benefits), or is there some other process/dynamic at play? 

Something that's important to understand is that the average Malkioni doesn't believe in the Invisible God - they believe the Wizards.  The wizards practice sorcery but what the others practice is dependent on what the Wizards permit.  Thus the Seshnelan warriors worship thinly disguised Hsunchen cults and so forth.  So long as the Wizards practice the right sorcery and subscribe to the right ideas, all is well in the world.

Thus the Jrusteli were quite happy with the worship of Wachaza among their warriors and Diros among their sailors.  It is only when the Arkati combined sorcery with the active worship of big gods that the Jrusteli really became upset.  

 

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On 3/18/2020 at 1:20 PM, Sir_Godspeed said:

I've always thought of the 2nd Age Jrusteli as monotheists in a "purist" Western/Malkioni vein, but the Sourcebook refers to Wachaza as the "war god of the Jrusteli", which made me a bit confused. Additionally, they were supposedly harboring a clandestine worship of Dirot as well. 

So did the Jrusteli combine Invisible God worship/sorcery with polytheism? Was it a pluralistic society with the theist cults standing aside from the sorcerer castes, or was it a case of the sorcerers enforcing their will on Wachaza and Diroti (or alternatively, gaming their worship rituals for benefits), or is there some other process/dynamic at play? 

Cheers.

Yes, of course they did.  God Learners were illuminates who abused the system.  Suppose you are a munchkin powergamer who gets to write their own cult for RQ?  How would you abuse the system?  You just know it will all end in the "Godslayer of Hitpoints".

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54 minutes ago, Darius West said:

God Learners were illuminates who abused the system. 

You don't need to be Illuminated to abuse the system, and the God Learners did not require Illumination to do so. The God Learner references in Middle Sea Empire clearly note the most prominent Illuminates as evil, e.g. p.32 Arkat as the Corrupter and "Source of Lies" and Gbaji as the Devil, or Son of the Devil.

The God Learners just followed the logical paths of "scientific" exploration. As it notes on p.37 "We can go to where the pagans get their magic, and we can get it too."

They found the rituals that let them onto the Hero Plane, eventually figured out how to get past the guardians, and went from there. No Illumination was required.

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The God Learners as such didn't emerge until fairly late in Jrusteli's pre-Closing history anyway.  The Abiding Book didn't appear to/wasn't written by the Jrusteli magi until the 600s.  Even then the God Learners don't really become a thing until generations later, after the Return to Rightness Crusade and the New Order of Sorcery laid the groundwork.  Before then the Jrusteli magicians weren't powergamers, they were just zzaburi doing their normal thing among Malkioni societies that practiced a greater or lesser degree of henotheism based on local needs and inclinations.  If the Jrusteli islanders worshiped Wachaza as their war god after the Dawn it's not so different from the way Seshnelans started worshiping Seshna Likita and had their line of sacred serpent-tailed kings in the First Age.

Rather than the Jrusteli wizards being munchkins from the start, the progression I see begins with the Dawn Age Seshnelan settlers of Jrusteli taking that propensity for henotheistic Malkionism to their colonies, the zzaburi grumbling about the people acknowledging imperfect Erasanchula but getting by anyway.  The capacity to recognize gods and spirits as other than devils probably helped the settlers come to terms with the original human inhabitants of Jrustela.  Then the Abiding Book comes along, uniting the Jrusteli magi in ways they'd never had before.  The Abiding Book took a much firmer line on dealing with gods and spirits, requiring purer observance of monotheism among all the castes, but the Jrusteli would've still had access to the sacred stories their culture picked up before the reformation.  These stories return to prominence as paths to power for increasingly ambitious Malkioni sorcerous groups like the Free Men of the Sea, who seem to have directly weaponized old Jrusteli water myths to pull off the sorcerous inferno at the Battle of Tanian's Victory.  From that point on the Jrusteli/Western/Middle Sea Empire approach to theistic myths and the God Plane only grows more cynical and exploitative, but it need not have always been so.

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2 hours ago, dumuzid said:

The God Learners as such didn't emerge until fairly late in Jrusteli's pre-Closing history anyway.  The Abiding Book didn't appear to/wasn't written by the Jrusteli magi until the 600s.  Even then the God Learners don't really become a thing until generations later, after the Return to Rightness Crusade and the New Order of Sorcery laid the groundwork.  Before then the Jrusteli magicians weren't powergamers, they were just zzaburi doing their normal thing among Malkioni societies that practiced a greater or lesser degree of henotheism based on local needs and inclinations.  If the Jrusteli islanders worshiped Wachaza as their war god after the Dawn it's not so different from the way Seshnelans started worshiping Seshna Likita and had their line of sacred serpent-tailed kings in the First Age.

According to the Stafford Library "The Middle Sea Empire" page 38, God Learner Study groups begin in the year 500. 

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2 hours ago, Darius West said:

According to the Stafford Library "The Middle Sea Empire" page 38, God Learner Study groups begin in the year 500. 

I'm familiar with that reference.  Here's the text for the thread, from p. 38 of the 2006 edition:

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Note how the term "God Learner study groups" is in quotation marks.  There were several independent sorcerous societies coming together in the Jrusteli city-states in the 6th, 7th and 8th centuries, like the New Order named there, and the Free Men of the Sea who, after many reverses, ultimately broke the Waertagi monopoly on ocean travel.  These sorcerous orders operated more or less independently, though after 646 their practices were guided by a unifying liturgy in the Abiding Book.  The only group that ever called themselves the God Learners was the God Learner Collective, founded centuries into the history of the Middle Sea Empire in 845, a union of sorcerous societies dedicated to exploring (and manipulating) the God Plane.

The main point that divides the true God Learners from their predecessor traditions is the God Learner emphasis on the monomyth, the idea that all theistic myth springs from a common and singular source.  They were trying to break down theistic magic into its barest, most functional essentials in order to speed their heroquesting.  It's this monomyth approach that led to the arrogant, exploitative treatment of the God Plane by the God Learners.  Predecessor groups all manipulated forces from the God Plane--Malkioni have been heroquesting since Hrestol himself just after the Dawn--but they'd usually either abided by the old Arkati dictum, "No questing without respect or humility," or been destroyed by the forces they sought to manipulate.  Presumably earlier Jrustelan henotheists were more respectful, but the God Learners lost that respect for the mythic world and simultaneously marshaled the power to avoid being immediately destroyed for their arrogance.  They quested cynically and destructively into the God Plane, leading to disastrous experiments like the Goddess Switch

It's not precisely clear when the monomyth entered Jrusteli sorcerous practice, but it must've been some time after the Abiding Book was first written and promulgated because by the 9th century there was a faction in Jrusteli Malkionism called the Doctrine of Inerrant Delay (Abiding Book [RQ2] p. 7) whose whole deal was lamenting that the Book did not emerge a century later to solve the thorny theological question of the importance of converting the 'pagans' within the Middle Sea Empire to monotheism.

Edited by dumuzid
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IMG "pure" monotheism is the historical exception rather than the rule and there was enough ruin & complexity in the empire that every one of these reconstructions is valid in its context. Consider it a version of the "Orlanthi All." And there's so much unexploded mythic ordnance left in the surviving records that any mention gets noisy.

Trivia: any ur-proto-GodLearning on the island before the Nralarites arrive in the early 600s would have been in the Olodo cities for what that's worth. I don't think they had the kind of zzaburites we would recognize through the rokarist lens. That's interesting. And then there's that funny line that while a wave of brithini "tried" to settle the island a generation later, most were "recognized as being incorrigible" and were sent further down to Pamaltela. 

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52 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

the Olodo cities

The Olodo were Malkioni city-builders before the Seshnegi colonists arrived?  My impression from Middle Sea Empire was of non-urban animists or theists in the rugged interior of the island, whose culture was absorbed and mostly erased by the expanding colonists.

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3 minutes ago, dumuzid said:

The Olodo were Malkioni city-builders before the Seshnegi colonists arrived?  My impression from Middle Sea Empire was of non-urban animists or theists in the rugged interior of the island, whose culture was absorbed and mostly erased by the expanding colonists.

They built at least four of the original Thirteen Colonies and others now lost to the record so while imperial historians would scoff at mud huts and thatch I prefer to entertain the notion that they preserved the lost urban civilization of Slontos wiped out in the Dawn Age floods. Of course a few centuries of aggressive colonial hegemony will force the remnants off island, up into the highlands or into assimilation as you note. 

The alternative is a Seshnegite presence on the island over a century before the Nralarites, which is definitely a possible convolution but renders a lot of "Beautiful Jrustela" overly opaque. Or we just abandon the 500 date entirely.

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2 minutes ago, dumuzid said:

Right, I forgot the Olodo weren't autochthonous to Jrustela, they arrived via Waertagi dragon-ship in the Dawn Age from Slontos for a number of causes.  Really shouldn't have surprised me that the author of "Beautiful Jrustela" downplayed their society.

Yeah, the real history behind the elementary textbooks is somewhere between profoundly ironic and sad. But maybe it has a happy ending if we can just resist the known conversational land mines long enough to have an authentic encounter with the god of the west, invisible or otherwise. The whole SW Genertelan coast is blooming with radical archaeological discoveries . . . tying into your other work.

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1 hour ago, dumuzid said:

Can you expand on this?  In another thread even, if it's not germane to this one.

There are pre-Malkioni civilizations there, like the ones that built Hrelar Amali, and the catacombs of Seshna Likita, or maybe he's thinking of urban coastal Slontos, idk. 

There appears to be this Dawn Era, or pre-Dawn Hsunchen/Hykimi-Earth complex in places, which appears to have built some stuff, is my general impression. 

We discussed a lot around this during an earlier thread, although it's a bit late on my side so I can't really look it up right now.

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20 minutes ago, dumuzid said:

Can you expand on this?  In another thread even, if it's not germane to this one.

Thread Drift is the way of our tribe but I'll try to keep these thoughts aligned with the larger topic of how the Jrustelite religious framework evolved in all its terminal complexity and splendor. 

I was recently reminded of the way the Aeolians argue that the Expulsion terminated in modern Kethaela, which shifts the usual map of the colonial diaspora a lot farther to the east than the conventional Neliomi-centric narrative suggests. There's a lot of coastline on that shifted map and much of it is gone now, lost in multiple disasters. But an unusual number of isolated enclaves and other sites survive here. Their interaction with the Empire is mysterious and complex. The imperial chauvinists would have embraced what they found there that reminded them of themselves and exploited everything else as "pagan ways" no matter where it came from. 

Now the Ingareens participated in the OOO coalition and as Entrulites and other lifebringer missions started opening up the coast they would have brought aeolianism with them to seed in receptive survivor communities. Most of these undoubtedly found their way into the empire and were more or less destroyed. A few, barely recognizable, linger as the regressive Ramalians and others. And then you have the "Erenplose" culture, which disappeared before the Gbaji Wars and had a secret pact with the sea gods. I suspect that these were the people the Waertagi ferried to Jrustela, but it could as easily have been any other now-lost Slontos people or combination of cultures. Until today I assumed they were a pagan pig people but now you guys highlighting that 500c. reference makes me wonder if they were something like Ingareens, an "aeolian" people more like "Seshnelans" than land goddess barbarians.

They definitely know their way around boats! Either way, once the Neliomi cities established contact with this part of the world magic could circulate. We know a bit about how various Seshnegite centers embraced or experimented with various "aeolian" forms, identifying with various sea gods or darkness entities or whatever, with the legendary fighting children of Damol taking it seriously enough to marry into the Kolat order. Aeol = wind. This is always fundamentally a storm syncretism.

Invisible Orlanth = storm Malkion.

And as we know, Malkion Aerlit is only a sea god on his mother's side. 

All of this is part of the Western religious vocabulary, often suppressed but sometimes open for expression. These are the Hero Wars.

People who inhabit truly "various" Gloranthas can take it from here. For me, for example, I am still not convinced that Old Trade is the historical "Brithos" that Hrestol's people left and he visited. That corner of the map is too static and too quiet to obey normal Gloranthan historical currents. Old Trade may originally have been something else while the historical "Brithos" may have been elsewhere. A lot depends on where the original Srvualela really was . . . some sources suggest the Homeward Ocean, others primeval Jrustela (as Magnetic Mountain south of Brithos), others Genert's Land and still others Gbaji's realm.

That's a complicated proposition but it gets me thinking of how Es-ruvula (s-ruvula) was allied with the waertagi by 150 ST and how (Old) Narilor in lost Wenelia was special to the waertagi, "the only place they would land" or perhaps do any land-based spawning they needed to do. All worth exploring as we hunt the original god of our fathers and maybe the mothers too.

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I think the God Learners are very intellectually and magically diverse, and this is obvious in Middle Sea Empire. It also evolved considerably over a few centuries, and went from being overtly hostile to Illuminated/Arkati thought, to being somewhat riddled with it. 

I think some of them were Illuminated, and some were not. Some of their acts required Illumination, and some did not - for example, the Goddess Swap probably did need some Illuminated insights, but notably Zistor and the Clanking City, being almost entirely a sorcerous project, did not. The Puzzle Canal is notably an Illuminated project, being a physical/magical structure that grants Illuminated insight itself. 

I think the Illuminated stream of God Learner thought can be identified with Malkioneranism, and mainstream un-Illuminated God Learner thought with Makanism. But as you can become Illuminated (rarely) without doing anything intentional, and a lot of Malkioneranist projects became quite major parts of God Learning, there is inevitably some cross over. 

It's also notable that other forms of Malkioni thought likely have a quite a few strands of Illumination running through them through Arkatism, or related Arkati thought. I personally think that Talor had secret doctrines to do with mysticism/Illumination, and like Arkat they are not inherently hostile to it, but are even more cautious - its something like the last temptation offered by the demiurge.

Edited by davecake
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I think the God Learners know only a very limited conception of Illumination - and it is intentional that they have striven to differentiate their ideas about it from either Arkati or EWF ideas about it, and so reject a lot of what both those traditions know about it. 

I think they think of it as a way to connect with the mind of Makan or Malkion. They regard it as a way to cleanse oneself and transcend certain sources of UnLogic (even though paradoxically, one must experience the seemingly paradoxical to do so - conceptualised as transcending the limits of mere mortal thought as necessary to approach the One from the current devolved world, to try to glimpse the Second Action). 

Greg would totally have regarded God Learner Illumination as a limited/failed mystic path and a mistake - but then, he mostly thought that about Pelorian Illumination, the EWF, Eastern martial magic, Sheng, and pretty much everyone except Eastern orthodox sages. Jury is out on Arkat (and pretty sure they declared a mistrial and the jury is never returning a verdict, and it will remain (deliberately) unknown for ever). 

In game terms - I think the God Learner version of Illumination has only a limited ability to Illuminate others (I think their understanding is a complex intellectual form that is very opaque to outsiders, and requires magical exercises on the Essence plane or heroplane etc that make it very difficult for non-sorcerers), and they are also very limited in their ability to combine incompatible runes, again mostly only able to unlock this ability via heroquest (though this mostly doesn't bother them unduly - they are still able to utilise magic from incompatible runes via sorcerous means like any other sorcerer - learning Death sorcery doesn't much interfere with learning Life sorcery, etc). 

 

Edited by davecake
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