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Glorantha, Meaning, and Mythology


jajagappa

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49 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Ancients also had no problem getting lost in minutia. 

A significant factor, I believe, in this phenomenon is written text which often seems to "freeze" or codify myth to one "true" form or meaning.

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On 9/8/2021 at 6:49 PM, jajagappa said:

A significant factor, I believe, in this phenomenon is written text which often seems to "freeze" or codify myth to one "true" form or meaning.

So what you're saying is, Lhankor Mhy cultists have the exact same kind of arguments we're having right now, and everyone around them is just baffled at how hung up they get over it? Yeah, that sounds right.

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On 9/9/2021 at 2:58 AM, Rodney Dangerduck said:

I agree on most of his overall points, but disagree that "Glorantha fans get lost in the minutia of the mythology" because of our "modern" perspective with too much emphasis on facts.  Ancients also had no problem getting lost in minutia.   Consider early Christians and the details of The Trinity.

I think that was already the beginning of the end for the more free-flowing nature of oral polytheism, when the great literary religions arose, along with the standardization of narratives and so forth. I mean, this is literally where the term "canon" comes from.

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33 minutes ago, d(sqrt(-1)) said:

I have the opposite problem - I read the myth, whether it be Gloranthan or something else and think "I have no idea what that is supposed to mean". 

This is not the worst problem to have. The best myths I have read have seemed akin to dreams. A lot of familiarity, but... there is just something off, something not quite right. Children get this effect on hearing any true myth or great story. After all, wonder is intrinsically oft encountering the unknown! To my way of thinking this is a great thing, a shamanic thing. 

 

On 9/8/2021 at 7:49 PM, jajagappa said:

A significant factor, I believe, in this phenomenon is written text which often seems to "freeze" or codify myth to one "true" form or meaning.

no, I was referring more to this, some take the need to know all aspects to a great enough degree that perhaps the wonder would fly...it does for me... and I feel a certain loss as a result. Each to their own though, far be it from me to say this is wrong, just not for me. 

Now, you were referring to your own take... 

33 minutes ago, d(sqrt(-1)) said:

"I have no idea what that is supposed to mean". 

I will admit to having the small problem of late. I hear several multisyllabic names, each a suitcase full of begots and beentheres and donethats and got thet-shirts that my head begins to spin and my incoherent stare stops at a vacant 1000 yards... Is that were you going?

 

love, love love the moniker!

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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... remember, with a TARDIS, one is never late for breakfast!

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14 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

I think that was already the beginning of the end for the more free-flowing nature of oral polytheism, when the great literary religions arose, along with the standardization of narratives and so forth. I mean, this is literally where the term "canon" comes from.

Ironically, the Christian canon itself contains contradictory stories and multiple incompatible versions of the same events. Just saying.

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3 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

Ironically, the Christian canon itself contains contradictory stories and multiple incompatible versions of the same events. Just saying.

The technique of writing texts as though they were written by characters in the fiction is very effective. It makes the imagined reality seem so much more convincing and immersive.

Edited by simonh

Check out the Runequest Glorantha Wiki for RQ links and resources. Any updates or contributions welcome!

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9 hours ago, Bill the barbarian said:

Now, you were referring to your own take... 

I will admit to having the small problem of late. I hear several multisyllabic names, each a suitcase full of begots and beentheres and donethats and got thet-shirts that my head begins to spin and my incoherent stare stops at a vacant 1000 yards... Is that were you going?

love, love love the moniker!

Not quite - I'm usually ok with the language and with undefined things - I'm a big fan of Vance and Wolfe who do this all the time for evocative purposes, but in those stories they are there to provide a wider scope and stir imagination. A myth /story is usually there to provide some insight into expected behaviour or moral code but I often find myself thinking "what am I supposed to have learnt from this? How would hearing this alter my behaviour?". I have the same problem at weddings and funerals!

Glad to hear you picked up on the name - I think you are about the third person ever to have mentioned it!  

Edited by d(sqrt(-1))
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Always start what you finish.

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3 hours ago, d(sqrt(-1)) said:

A myth /story is usually there to provide some insight into expected behaviour or moral code

That is only one function of myth. 

The explanation of the cosmos is another.  Why do clouds block the sun?  Why does the sun set, and rise again?  Why is light not extinguished forever by the darkness?  Why is there evil?  Etc.

How to pass through the stages of life or the psychology of your life can be another.  How do you become adult?  How do you deal with aging, or death?  How do you reconcile the Shadow within yourself?

It can function to show timeless aspects of life.  Awe and wonder at the mystery of the world.  The desire to live forever.

It can function as historical allegory.  How did Dara Happa survive the ice? 

And many function on multiple levels at the same time. 

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I think an important point to consider is that myth in Glorantha is not like myth in our world. Jeff on Facebook mentioned

Reminds of a bit from Campbell about the four functions of mythology:
1. The mystical
2. The cosmological
3. The sociological
4. The pedagogical. 
 
In Glorantha, it does all these, but in Glorantha myth's most powerful function is to relive the myth through HeroQuesting and gain powers/change the world as a result of reperforming the myth. On one level it's magical technology as was proved by the GodLearners, though of course it's much more than that, as was also proved by the GodLearners. I think its one of the great dangers for the powerful in Glorantha, losing the numinous aspect of myth and using it as a technology, part of the reason that Argrath goes wrong? Definitely where Tatius the Bright went wrong -
 
Tatius: Hey, here's this massive source of raw energy, I can use it to power my TECHNOLOGICAL TERROR here! 
 
Aide: Perhaps we should do some investigation and determine the source of the power, Sir?
 
Tatius: Take this naysayer who would deny the power of the Lunar Empire away!
 
Danfive Xaron Inquisitor: Of course Governor
 
I really hope it goes wrong for Harrek who seems to me to be the epitome of exploiting mythology
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5 minutes ago, Martin Dick said:

but in Glorantha myth's most powerful function is to relive the myth through HeroQuesting and gain powers/change the world as a result of reperforming the myth.

The cultural rituals, of course, embody the myths and serve to maintain them.  E.g. the Sun does NOT stop in the sky at its zenith, but continues on; storms arise regularly, but always move on; the Earth reveals its bounty, but becomes cold and barren, only to once again reveal its bounty; and each year, evil and entropy are again contained.

Cultures approve of heroquesting where those help to maintain those myths.  The treasures brought back may seem "personal", but help to maintain the cosmic balance - reinforcing the cultural rituals (e.g. they brought back Orane to help the Earth reveal its bounty; they brought back the Lawstaff to maintain Justice; etc.).  Or they bring back the tools to keep their foes in line. 

12 minutes ago, Martin Dick said:

Harrek who seems to me to be the epitome of exploiting mythology

I wonder on that.  Each Age ends with Destruction.  And even the Great Darkness ended with Destruction.  It may be as likely that Harrek is simply the chosen tool/vehicle for the incarnated power of Destruction and has little free will in the matter. 

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31 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

I wonder on that.  Each Age ends with Destruction.  And even the Great Darkness ended with Destruction.  It may be as likely that Harrek is simply the chosen tool/vehicle for the incarnated power of Destruction and has little free will in the matter. 

Did the Great Darkness end with Destruction? To me it ends with rebirth, when Yelm rises again. To be honest I really hope Harrek isn't lacking in free will, I would hope that an incarnation of Destruction wouldn't be so petty. It also seems to be a bit unGloranthan for a mortal to be lacking in free will.

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There's a consistent uncertainty about whether Harrek or the White Bear is the dominant figure in their relationship. This may be a willing partnership- the White Bear yearning to break beyond the bounds of Rathorela and wander the world freely. Of course, for the traumatized people who lost the White Bear's magic as he settled around Harrek's shoulders, this could not have been the case, it must have been cruel blasphemy on the part of the conveniently departed Harrek.

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The Thelxinoë of the Graclodont set.

Eight Arms and the Mask

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15 minutes ago, Eff said:

the White Bear yearning to break beyond the bounds of Rathorela and wander the world freely.

Harrek infamously defies the normal logic around the Ban or at least demands unusual gymnastics around the timeline. 

But change may be one of the most painful things for most gods to contemplate. A new incarnation into uncertainty, you could get turned into a fur coat and go from beautiful to incredibly dirty. All the strange rock and rollers doing all right.

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3 hours ago, Martin Dick said:

I think an important point to consider is that myth in Glorantha is not like myth in our world. Jeff on Facebook mentioned

Reminds of a bit from Campbell about the four functions of mythology:
1. The mystical
2. The cosmological
3. The sociological
4. The pedagogical. 
 
In Glorantha, it does all these, but in Glorantha myth's most powerful function is to relive the myth through HeroQuesting and gain powers/change the world as a result of reperforming the myth.

I suppose this is covered by number 3 on the list, but gaining power and changing the world are very much part of real world religion. Coming of age ceremonies turn children into adults, marriage ceremonies turn single people into married couples, funerals bring closure to bereaved families, investitures turn lay people into clergy or priests. Now of course these aren't quite the same as blasting someone with a lightning bolt or flying through the air, but the above is a meta analysis. Religious believers do think that their prayers, worship and rituals make changes in the real world, some of them actually tangible, and they certainly make recognised social changes. They affect lived reality. So ok, maybe that's under item 3, but I think it's worth pointing out that these are routes to power and change.

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Check out the Runequest Glorantha Wiki for RQ links and resources. Any updates or contributions welcome!

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2 hours ago, Martin Dick said:

Did the Great Darkness end with Destruction? To me it ends with rebirth, when Yelm rises again.

Depends on how you define the Great Darkness.  In GRoY, Shargash destroys everything and the world is completely broken, and even Shargash goes to the Underworld.  But Yelm then sends Shargash back out again to pick up the pieces and prepare for the Dawn, then sends Kargzant out to find what survives.  All this pre-dates the Dawning and is equivalent to the Silver Age in Heortling myth (also post-Great Darkness/post-Unity Battle, but pre-Dawn).

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We also shouldn't underestimate the degree to which myths are, well, fun. Aside from explanatory or educational potential, the very TELLING or experiencing of these myths brings folks together in good moods and close togetherness. Have a good laugh, experience second-hand fear, widen eyes at the sheer audacity, grip the hand of the person next to you as you wait for the shoe to drop. The very act of myth-telling is social glue. 

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10 hours ago, simonh said:

I suppose this is covered by number 3 on the list, but gaining power and changing the world are very much part of real world religion. Coming of age ceremonies turn children into adults, marriage ceremonies turn single people into married couples, funerals bring closure to bereaved families, investitures turn lay people into clergy or priests. Now of course these aren't quite the same as blasting someone with a lightning bolt or flying through the air, but the above is a meta analysis. Religious believers do think that their prayers, worship and rituals make changes in the real world, some of them actually tangible, and they certainly make recognised social changes. They affect lived reality. So ok, maybe that's under item 3, but I think it's worth pointing out that these are routes to power and change.

I don't disagree that those things give power in a society, but even at the meta-level I think there's a qualitative difference between calling down a Sunspear and blasting them in to a blackened husk and excommunicating someone from the church, it's physical 'Might makes Right' power versus social power.  I also don't really think myth and religion are the same thing, especially in Glorantha. 

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