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Animist Greater Darkness?


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Theist narratives of the Greater Darkness are pretty well-covered and common: they usually take the form of person-centric stories about heroism and survival of one kind or another, against the anthropomorphised or monstrous powers of Chaos or some other similar power (like rebellion, decay or disorder), and the collapse of social norms and interpersonal bonds. In many cases these stories tie together into a larger, semi-organized/semi-canonical cycle, like the Lightbringer Saga (albeit with plenty of variation across space and time). Thematically, the struggles of the main characters of these stories, the collapse of the specific, named societies, and the peril of the Cosmos at large are usually conflated or made interrelated. 

My question is, do animist cultures differ from the above model when talking about the Greater Darkness? Animist societies are sometimes (arguably) seen as more local than theistic societies, more concerned with the minutiae of a very localized and particular worldview, but there's no hard rules on this, of course. Additionally, animism, especially how it's presented in Glorantha through the Guide at least, is less focused on the cosmos as a result of the actions of a limited number of named personas (gods).

The one animist Greater narrative that comes to mind is the Praxian one, which as far as I can recall, does have similar traits to the theistic ones I cited above (perhaps inaccurately, I'm more thinking out loud than confidently asserting anything), with Storm Bull, Waha, Eirithia and Genert all acting in much the same way as the central characters of a theistic narrative, as far as I can tell. But then, Praxian religion also seems to straddle the animist and theistic, so maybe that's a cultural peculiarity. On the other hand, it's not like theistic cultures aren't replete with very localized elements in their myths, so this dichotomy is at best a difference of degrees more than anything. 

What's your thoughts? Is there a different trend among animist societies in how they view the Greater Darkness? Do we have any solid examples aside from the Praxians? The Doraddi come to mind, but most of what I recall is their disdain of the Artmali Empire, less so then their own actions specifically. I'm probably wrong, or lacking some info.

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One of the big deals about the Greater Darkness shamanistic cultures is that the dead can't be separated from the living (and worse yet, the undead), and that this is a problem. Both Daka Fal and Horned Man have important tasks to help sort this out.

Edited by Akhôrahil
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In the Cult Compendium it is described a ritual of Daka Fal celebrated by some mercenary baboons (pgs. 61-66), and it speaks of the Greater Darkness, so it might be useful for this question. 

The baboons are organized around a shaman of their kind, who starts the ritual by throwing something into a bonefire wich makes the flames green and creates some green coals that are buried there. At nightfall, the flames have died, the baboons smear themselves in the ashes, some drink spirits and set unlit torches aroud the camfire. They then start to dance, chant, clash weapons and then fall to the ground and cry like babies. Then 2 masked baboons appear; one wears a red mask and a sattlesnake tail, the other a yellow mask and a staff topped by horns. These two figures start acting and telling the stories of the baboons during the Darkness. Spirits start appearing amongst the living there, hungry of flesh, and they attack the red-masked baboon and kill him. All baboons seem terrified and cower behind the yelow-masked one, who starts chanting, and with words of power traps the spirits in the bonfire. He then walks to the dead baboon and brings him back to life. Then all baboons cheer and dance and celebrate until the sun comes out. The shaman speaks then to the man who tells the tale, and gives him one of the coals of the beginning, now transformed into a "nut" of sorts, which gives the spell Summon ancestor.

I don't know if the first part has some symbolic significance or if it's just part of the ritual for utilitarian purpouses. The second part, the dancing, clashing and cyring probably tells of the baboon's life before they met Grandfather Baboon, maybe they fought amongst themselves and ended up broken. The 2 masked figures are said to be Granfather Baboon and an unnamed "baboon's founder" (maybe he is the one who is Granfather Baboon and Daka Fal is not the same as GB as I had thought?), who's who is left unanswered. The baboons then proceed to tell of how, during the GD, DF came to them and taught them many things, which is why they follow and honor him. The next part has to have some connection with the mytheme of Granfather Mortal's death; one of the masked baboons (the red one) is murdered, and the rest are shocked and terrified of that. The other masked one (the yelow one) then magically commands the ghosts and traps them in some sort of magical stones, and then resucitates the dead shaman. One could say Red-mask was Granfather Mortal, as he is killed by Death according to some myths, but he usually is said to have died before the GD, so it could be that DF presented himself to the baboons once he was already dead, and that is why Yelow-mask is not afraid of the murder, has control over the spirits and is able to resurrect Red-mask. I personally favour the second theory.

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9 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

One of the big deals about the Greater Darkness shamanistic cultures is that the dead can't be separated from the living (and worse yet, the undead), and that this is a problem. Both Daka Fal and Horned Man have important tasks to help sort this out.

Good point. Hoert was a shaman, and his story mentions that as well. It's interesting how the Orlanthi sort of have this-side stories (Heort and the I Fought We Won), and other-side stories (Lightbringer), a relic of the gods having somewhat deviated from their worshippers somewhat even by that point, maybe.

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One of Waha’s feats was to pull together the broken land, bits of land which had completely broken free. 

What would life have been like on one of these isolated broken fragments? Maybe people clinging to life on a lonely piece  of land floating in the void would have formed a bond with any spiritual guide they could find. Those who survived would have an enduring bond with their saviour.

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