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Ten Household Goddesses?


AlHazred

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So, I'm trying to harmonize a Hero Wars/HeroQuest 1st edition campaign framework with later lore that was expanded in HeroQuest 2nd edition. In the book Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes, it has a bit about the Household Goddesses on page 143. It says "The household goddesses are the daughters and handmaidens of Ernalda... They serve as not only the model of the household, but also the proper servants of a woman. Generally, only a wealthy woman can afford to have all ten servants attend to her." Okay, so there are ten of them, and they are sometimes independent goddesses and other times more like aspects or personifications of Ernalda's powers. So the list given is this:

  1. Kesta, who prepares the food.
  2. Istena, who fills the water and wine skins.
  3. Sharla, who spins the wool into thread.
  4. Berlintha, who mends the clothing.
  5. Mahome, who tends the hearth.
  6. Arnna, who holds the key to the treasure box.
  7. Jera, who keeps the healing kit.
  8. Beseta and Besanga, who bear the Goddess’ burdens.

So, I have HW/HQ1 subcults for Jera the Herbalist (in Thunder Rebels pg 195-196), Mahome the Hearth Goddess (Thunder Rebels pg 189), and Kesta the Preparer (Masters of Luck and Death pg 22). Arnna, I seem to remember, can be considered a version of Asrelia, and I have a subcult for Asrelia I can adapt for Arnna from Storm Tribe pg 194-195. I have a player who is probably going to be interested in filling out the roster, in both a magical and game-mechanical sense, so I'd like to be prepared.

But, by my count, that list only has 9 goddesses. Who is the 10th goddess? I checked the Book of Heortling Mythology and King of Sartar and posts from the old mailing list, but I'm falling short. Does anybody have a more complete list?

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ROLAND VOLZ

Running: nothing | Playing: Battletech Hero, CoC 7th Edition, Blades in the Dark | Planning: D&D 5E Home Game, Operation: Sprechenhaltestelle, HeroQuest 1E Sartarite Campaign

D&D is an elf from Tolkien, a barbarian from Howard, and a mage from Vance fighting monsters from Lovecraft in a room that looks like it might have been designed by Wells and Giger. - TiaNadiezja

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Posted (edited)

Now I'm wondering if the 10th goddess is Nandan, who tends the children. Typical conservative Orlanthi, leaving out inconvenient elements...

Edited by AlHazred
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ROLAND VOLZ

Running: nothing | Playing: Battletech Hero, CoC 7th Edition, Blades in the Dark | Planning: D&D 5E Home Game, Operation: Sprechenhaltestelle, HeroQuest 1E Sartarite Campaign

D&D is an elf from Tolkien, a barbarian from Howard, and a mage from Vance fighting monsters from Lovecraft in a room that looks like it might have been designed by Wells and Giger. - TiaNadiezja

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47 minutes ago, AlHazred said:

Now I'm wondering if the 10th goddess is Nandan, who tends the children. Typical conservative Orlanthi, leaving out inconvenient elements...

Oooh, I don't hate that!

Other alternatives include Voria, who as a pre-adult girl could serve some kind of general helping or attending role. 

I'm trying to think of specific domestic/household duties that need to be done. So far we've got food and drink, warmth, clothesmaking and cloth repair, treasure keeping (and presumably keeping a domestic tally/ledger, if only mentally) and general physical labor. 

These roles are obviously a bit arbitrary, or rather, the delineation of them is a bit arbitrary, but here's some roles I can think of:

- Watching young children (already mentioned above) (Possibly overlapping or encompassing) with wetnurse roles

- Lightning the oil lamps and keeping the oil stocked. 

- Cleaning, washing, sweeping. 

- Protecting the door (not in a military or armed sense, more in a chaperone or outward-face kinda role, if that makes sense.), mirroring keeping the strongbox. 

- Butchering. Possibly already included in "preparing the food", though I can't help thinking Maran would fit here in some sense. 

- There are some other roles I was considering, like a body-painter or storyteller or tutor, but these are so situational.

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42 minutes ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Oooh, I don't hate that!

The one downside I can see is iconography.

Each of the Household Goddesses has their own iconography, so that Beseta and Besanga can be depicted as mares, Arnna as a hummingbird, etc. When they are not depicted separately, they are usually depicted as decorations of Ernalda's images, "with symbols painted on as if they were jewelry." So, Jera could be present as a healing kit, Istena as a wineskin, Arnna as a ring of keys, etc. all painted on the statue. I can see most of these, but Nandan is usually depicted alone. I'm not sure how you would depict childcare as an item on an Ernalda statue.

Another idea I'd had is some Plant connection, with "XXX, who tends the garden." But I don't know what the Orlanthi would name the daughter of Ernalda and Falamal. All these God Learners and their Monomyth.

ROLAND VOLZ

Running: nothing | Playing: Battletech Hero, CoC 7th Edition, Blades in the Dark | Planning: D&D 5E Home Game, Operation: Sprechenhaltestelle, HeroQuest 1E Sartarite Campaign

D&D is an elf from Tolkien, a barbarian from Howard, and a mage from Vance fighting monsters from Lovecraft in a room that looks like it might have been designed by Wells and Giger. - TiaNadiezja

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10 minutes ago, AlHazred said:

Each of the Household Goddesses has their own iconography, so that Beseta and Besanga can be depicted as mares, Arnna as a hummingbird, etc. When they are not depicted separately, they are usually depicted as decorations of Ernalda's images, "with symbols painted on as if they were jewelry." So, Jera could be present as a healing kit, Istena as a wineskin, Arnna as a ring of keys, etc. all painted on the statue. I can see most of these, but Nandan is usually depicted alone. I'm not sure how you would depict childcare as an item on an Ernalda statue.

 

A swaddling cloth? A literal baby? Some sort of item to amuse or soothe (or discipline) a child?

13 minutes ago, AlHazred said:

Another idea I'd had is some Plant connection, with "XXX, who tends the garden." But I don't know what the Orlanthi would name the daughter of Ernalda and Falamal. All these God Learners and their Monomyth.

Well, Aldrya, basically, but she's more about forests and trees and not so much herbs and vegetables, I think. The Grain Goddesses are for the fields, not so much the garden as well, I think.

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12 hours ago, AlHazred said:

But, by my count, that list only has 9 goddesses. Who is the 10th goddess?

Roitina, Thunder Rebels, page 32:

Quote

The traditional Heortling household goddesses are:

  • Kesta, who prepares the food.
  • Istena, who fills the water and wine skins.
  • Sharla, who spins the wool into thread.
  • Berlintha, who mends the clothing.
  • Mahome, who holds the fire tubes.
  • Arnna, who holds the key to the treasure box.
  • Jera, who keeps the healing kit.
  • Roitina, who teaches all the dances.
  • Beseta and Besanga, who bear the Goddess’ burdens.

 

Edited by David Scott
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8 hours ago, David Scott said:

Roitina, Thunder Rebels, page 32:

Thank you! That makes a lot of sense. I was thinking an Ernaldan during the Lunar Occupation might use 10 Household Goddesses for mythic support where 7 Lightbringers or Thunder Brothers might cause political problems.

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ROLAND VOLZ

Running: nothing | Playing: Battletech Hero, CoC 7th Edition, Blades in the Dark | Planning: D&D 5E Home Game, Operation: Sprechenhaltestelle, HeroQuest 1E Sartarite Campaign

D&D is an elf from Tolkien, a barbarian from Howard, and a mage from Vance fighting monsters from Lovecraft in a room that looks like it might have been designed by Wells and Giger. - TiaNadiezja

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15 hours ago, AlHazred said:

Thank you! That makes a lot of sense. I was thinking an Ernaldan during the Lunar Occupation might use 10 Household Goddesses for mythic support where 7 Lightbringers or Thunder Brothers might cause political problems.

It's worth reading a bit more about household god/essess. For Ernalda it's likely that they are representations of Ernalda's abilities, and could act as minor protective spirits in their demesne (so Istena wards off the vinegar fly, Sharla prevents the thread from catching), and as it says not everyone has them all. You would likely find their idols in specific places around the house or carved into items:

Kesta, in niche in the kitchen.

Istena by the spring (likely carved on a rock), well or watching over the beer and wine

Sharla carved on a distaff or spindle

Berlintha, is likely a sewing basket 

Mahome, is the hearth fire (all Ernaldans can learn Ignite for free)

Arnna, is the carving on the key or a humming bird carving on the box 

Jera, is a bundle of herbs hanging somewhere or a small caving holding fresh herbs. (representing First Aid and Plant Lore)

Roitina, is likely a styised carving of a dancer or Ernalda herself (representing Dance)

Beseta and Besanga, are as noted usually depicted as red and grey mares, so perhaps found in the stable or as small carvings (representing Insight (human))

The high priestess of Ernalda likely has them as jewellery or worked in to her clothing. So Beseta and Besanga could be threaded images on an apron.

Using them for magical support in the context of an Ernalda ritual makes sense, but beyond Ernalda I would find it difficult to imagine their power beyond as individual goddesses. While Mahome is often a separate goddess, I'm not sure what she would bring to the table for mythic support in a situation where you would be avoiding the use of the seven lighbringers or the thunder brothers.

I'm interested in your approach to this.

Edited by David Scott
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Posted (edited)

That was an error on my part -- I was thinking of Orlanth's Thanes: swordthane, spearthane, shieldthane and backboy. The retinue. Although, I suppose I'm not totally wrong, and some Sartarite chieftains insist on having their own Talking Thane, Knowing Thane, Healing Thane, etc.

Come to think of it, there's probably a HeroQuest in there somewhere, of Ernalda going to the Emperor's court (reflecting the Emperor going to the Underworld) and then coming back again after adventures and acquiring allies. Possibly a nonviolent reflection/inversion of the Lightbringers. "She's not dead, she's just gone away!" A self-resurrection.

 

EDIT: I was thinking of the bit with Ernalda escaping in The Book of Heortling Mythology. And while checking the source, I found this which lends some credibility to the idea of the Household Goddesses having a mythic purpose in such a thing:

Quote

Ernalda had already prepared her escape. Kesta had laid aside food, Berlintha had packed clothing, Mahome had made clay tubes to bear fire, and Istena had filled many skins with water and wine. Arnna has a small treasure box, Jera the healing kit. Beseta and Besanga could turn themselves into mares, and were ready to carry it all away.

 

Edited by AlHazred
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ROLAND VOLZ

Running: nothing | Playing: Battletech Hero, CoC 7th Edition, Blades in the Dark | Planning: D&D 5E Home Game, Operation: Sprechenhaltestelle, HeroQuest 1E Sartarite Campaign

D&D is an elf from Tolkien, a barbarian from Howard, and a mage from Vance fighting monsters from Lovecraft in a room that looks like it might have been designed by Wells and Giger. - TiaNadiezja

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10 hours ago, soltakss said:

Orane the Spinner, or Orane the Steadwife, might be a candidate. 

I think in this case, Orane and Ernalda are interchangeable as the head of household.

ROLAND VOLZ

Running: nothing | Playing: Battletech Hero, CoC 7th Edition, Blades in the Dark | Planning: D&D 5E Home Game, Operation: Sprechenhaltestelle, HeroQuest 1E Sartarite Campaign

D&D is an elf from Tolkien, a barbarian from Howard, and a mage from Vance fighting monsters from Lovecraft in a room that looks like it might have been designed by Wells and Giger. - TiaNadiezja

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On 6/24/2021 at 4:30 PM, AlHazred said:

I was thinking of Orlanth's Thanes: swordthane, spearthane, shieldthane and backboy. The retinue. Although, I suppose I'm not totally wrong, and some Sartarite chieftains insist on having their own Talking Thane, Knowing Thane, Healing Thane, etc.

There's also the Handmaidens of Ernalda, The Book of Heortling Mythology, page 150:

  • Belveren the Chaos Cleanser
  • Enferalda the Combat Support
  • Eninta, Goddess of Childbirth
  • Esra the Barley
  • Kadone The Landers
  • Kev the Natural Lawyer
  • Orventili the Peacemaker
  • Overdruva the Forest Friend
  • Sereni the Ceremonialist
  • Uralda the Cow
  • Vela The Matchmaker
  • Votenevra, the Earth Healer

These would seem to be equivalent to Orlanth's thanes (as opposed to the household goddesses).

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I assume Sereni is the equivalent of Roitina? That's a great list, they've got some stuff worked up in Thunder Rebels! I'm a little surprised at the inclusion of Overdruva in there -- I thought she was a rarer subcult not usually followed. Isn't she mostly Elf-focused?

ROLAND VOLZ

Running: nothing | Playing: Battletech Hero, CoC 7th Edition, Blades in the Dark | Planning: D&D 5E Home Game, Operation: Sprechenhaltestelle, HeroQuest 1E Sartarite Campaign

D&D is an elf from Tolkien, a barbarian from Howard, and a mage from Vance fighting monsters from Lovecraft in a room that looks like it might have been designed by Wells and Giger. - TiaNadiezja

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14 hours ago, AlHazred said:

I assume Sereni is the equivalent of Roitina?

Roitina is also called Sereni in some stories.

14 hours ago, AlHazred said:

That's a great list, they've got some stuff worked up in Thunder Rebels! I'm a little surprised at the inclusion of Overdruva in there -- I thought she was a rarer subcult not usually followed. Isn't she mostly Elf-focused?

This is from the Heortling Mythology Book, so myth not mechanics orientated. Overdruva is Orstan the Carpenter's wife, so the forest friend of Aldrya, Ernalda's sister. She looks after woods when there are no elves present (see Heortling Mythology page 158). As part of Ernalda's Household, she's listed as a Helper of Ernalda the LIfegiver. See also the Overdruva hero cult of Sorandessa on page 184. Most clans will have woods.

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Search the Glorantha Resource Site: https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com. Search the Glorantha mailing list archives: https://glorantha.steff.in/digests/

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