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The Shadow on the Red Moon


Eff

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The Red Moon, as we all know, changes colors, from red to black and back again, embedding the essence of edgy Gothiness into Glorantha at a cosmological level, and the phases of the Red Moon mimic those of our own Moon. The black areas of the Red Moon form a curved terminator* line as they advance and retreat. 

Now, the phases of our own Moon are from the Earth's shadow falling between the Moon and the Sun. The roundness of this shadow is a bit of evidence for the roundness of the Earth known for millennia. Glorantha is not round like a ball, and the Earth cube is vastly larger than the Red Moon, so this seems rather unlikely to be the explanation.

In addition, our Moon merely reflects like a mirror, but we all know the Goddess is the mirror and the mask and glows in her own right, with her own light. Light in Glorantha is associated with the eyes in a way that suggests a hybrid intromission/extromission theory of light is true in Gloranthan optics: light emits from glowing objects but also very faintly from mortal and animal eyes, which must be actively suppressed by active sources of Darkness. Contrasting this, light in Glorantha presumably has a finite speed, because that allows Mastakos to be faster than it.

So while I have several theories about the physical manifestation of the fundamental truth of the Goddess as represented by Her weekly Lesser Waning, these must be modulated by uncertainty over the nature of light in Glorantha. I have given these theories a brief title to summarize them. 

1. "The Goddess is tossing Her hair."

The phases of the Red Moon are materially caused by a physical veil of the same real size as the portions of the Red Moon they cover, which blocks the Goddess's light, but allows some to faintly shine around the edges, which is more visible under the Glowline. 

2. "A thirsty star will drink a river of light." 

The apparent size of this shadow is spurious- a small object moves across the face of the Red Moon and absorbs the Goddess's light, bending it towards themselves and eating or storing it. This appears to be a large shadow, with light at the edge of the sphere of influence of the object leaking through. This object is presumably related to the Red Goddess just like the other stars that cluster near her in the Middle Air. 

3. "The Red Moon is always full, no matter what your eyes tell you."

The Red Moon actually changes color and emission spectra to produce its phases, and this includes everything on the surface. Including visiting adventurers. The leaking bits of light near the edges are due to some kind of light scattering phenomenon that undoubtedly has a place of pride in the Lunar College of Magic's quals. 

4. "Effy, you simpleton, it's all epicycles."

The divine mystery the Goddess has set before us is simply beyond our ability to analyze in this matter. Her decisions, Her actions, Her sartorial choices, they are all things we cannot understand without becoming Her, at which point they cannot be communicated to anyone who is not already Her. 

Or something like that. 

It is worth noting that apparently the Red Moon's phases are digital, and the Goddess presents the same face all day and only changes it at night. I am unsure how literally to take this, but it certainly implies some things!

So after all this... what thoughts do people have about this tenebrous presence hanging over Glorantha, unnamed and only incidentally commented upon?

*The Dying Moon phase provides a lovely folkloric explanation for using this real astronomical term. 

Edited by Eff

Though a Lunar through and through, she is also a human being.

Eight Arms and the Mask

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I like the Moon being veiled, that sounds Lunar to me.

Also, I like the idea of the Moon always being full, but with its constituent parts waxing and waning,

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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I believe that the Red Moon has an invisible companion which orbits it, and casts its shadow upon it. This is referenced in the Guide where 'Darinex stands exactly there, turning upon that spot to always face his twin brother, Destix, at whom he points.'

Now, an invisible orbiter called Destix doesn't sound good news...

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Once upon a time, I tried to simulate a black orbiter creating something resembling a half-occluded moon when seen from almost below...

If Darinex is located at the down pole, then everybody looking at the moon from below will see more or less a half moon. At some distance from the moon, you will see all the way up to the Crown  Mountains fencing off the top region of the moon, and two of the cardinal poles, unless you are due east/south/west/north of the Crater where you may see three at once.

People perceive the structures on the Red Moon as jewels on Her face. The lower sea forms her mouth, with the down pole structure being a nose piercing IIRC. This tells me that the moon surface beyond the pole is meant to be seen when looking at Her from below.

But then we know that people in Dragon Pass see a full moon on Wilddays, and a totally black one on Water and Clay days - not some red sheen peeking through underneath. Also symmetrical crescents on Freeze and Winds Days.

There is no way to model this using straight light, and I don't have the programming skills to simulate bent light. But in the end, my efforts told me that the appearance of the moon as a roving searchlight have to be a magical effect.

 

That leaves the nature of the shadow. And the moonglow.

One old thesis of mine: The dark moon is when it gets real, manifesting real Darkness, the red glow is the absence of Darkness.

It is eminently possible that the orbiter happens on the surface of the moon, or even below it. Possibly it isn't a shadow on the inside, but a reflector, pushing back the moonglow into the orb.

Or the orbiter casts a cone of Darkness or Absorption onto the moon, neutralizing the Red Glow.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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6 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

I believe that the Red Moon has an invisible companion which orbits it, and casts its shadow upon it. This is referenced in the Guide where 'Darinex stands exactly there, turning upon that spot to always face his twin brother, Destix, at whom he points.'

This was one bit of Glorantha I've never liked or been happy with.  In my mind, it raises questions of why such a companion exists?  Where's the mythos for it?

I much prefer the idea noted above that there is some type of shadow which moves or flows around the surface of the Red Moon.  Perhaps a shadow of her underworld quest, perhaps a gift from Xentha, perhaps just her shadow-self.  Any of those options create more mythic interest.

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I imagine the moon is always full when the goddess reigns over the land

So the moon is full on the lunar empire because she is the leader (master ? owner ?) of the lunar empire.

If there is a cycle elsewhere, that means the goddess try to conquer the rest of the world, and she needs energy to to it, sometimes she has enough (full moon), sometimes she is more or less tired and cannot show her full power.

 

With this option, there may be some regions in the world where you cannot see the moon, where you ignore her or her agents.

 

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1 hour ago, jajagappa said:

This was one bit of Glorantha I've never liked or been happy with.  In my mind, it raises questions of why such a companion exists?  Where's the mythos for it?

I much prefer the idea noted above that there is some type of shadow which moves or flows around the surface of the Red Moon.  Perhaps a shadow of her underworld quest, perhaps a gift from Xentha, perhaps just her shadow-self.  Any of those options create more mythic interest.

Right. In Lunar doctrine, the phases correspond to Masks, and one of those is Gerra, who I think produced night under Manarlavus's Dome by occluding Antirius. 

So perhaps the shadow is Gerra embodying the portion of Sedenya that is definitely not a Sun, least of all the Blood Sun. Since the Lunar Empire is built on Dara Happa, this whole shebang would be politically inconvenient, and we have a story about an invisible companion instead of this horrendously mutable Sun-Moon in the middle of the air...

But of course, perhaps the shadow is the back of a mirror, and the Goddess is freshening her makeup. 

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Though a Lunar through and through, she is also a human being.

Eight Arms and the Mask

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I may be missing something here, but I always thought the Moon had a red half radiating red and a black half radiating darkness (you know, like Natha) and that the phases are caused by its rotation. This seemed simple and sensible, but I take it from this discussion that this just isn’t the case?

Edited by Akhôrahil
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10 hours ago, jajagappa said:

This was one bit of Glorantha I've never liked or been happy with.  In my mind, it raises questions of why such a companion exists?  Where's the mythos for it?

I much prefer the idea noted above that there is some type of shadow which moves or flows around the surface of the Red Moon.  Perhaps a shadow of her underworld quest, perhaps a gift from Xentha, perhaps just her shadow-self.  Any of those options create more mythic interest.

It does rather smack of a try-hard Dayzatari/Buseri materialist rationalisation, in the spirit of RW epicycles, crystal spheres, etc.  "My first theory didn't quite work out, so I added a kludge konstant and a fudge factor with no empirical, logical, or intuitive basis, and now it's grand, so!"

There are of course Black Moons in Lunar mythology, notably Gerra and Rashorana.  That the "shadow moon" isn't linked to either of those in myth, nor apparently magically visible to those worshippers is indeed iffy.  Though that either of those would be "suppressed" by the Glowline would sound even more problematic than that is already.

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In my personal headcanon the Red Moon physically rotates; the bright red shining face of the goddess turns through 360°, over the course of each week, to survey her rich domains (and those few benighted lands beyond her sway).

Behind the bright red Full Moon face is the dark side of the moon, where nightmares dwell. When the Red Moon is in one of her Dark phases, it can’t be seen from outside the Glowline. Within the Glowline the Moon is permanently haloed by a corona-like effect, so the dark bits of the Lunar sphere are outlined with a red glow.

In some of Greg’s work it appears that the Red Moon is static, always staring fixedly south, never turning her gaze in any other direction, and “there is no dark side of the moon, really.” Plus of course this mindbuggering weirdness about “orbiting shadow emitters.” Pass the hookah, Sultan.

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1 hour ago, Nick Brooke said:

Plus of course this mindbuggering weirdness about “orbiting shadow emitters.” Pass the hookah, Sultan.

It's a sort of 'sound of one hand clapping' koan, like a paradoxical parable in Zen Buddhism to elicit enlightenment? Enlightenment in this case being Illumination. 

Pass the waterpipe...

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Possibilities:

  • The Red Moon is illuminated/darkened by an unseen astronomical body rotating beyond the Sky Dome.
  • The phases of the Red Moon are the normal phases she would have had had she not been killed in the Gods War and continued to orbit the sky (ie a Sunpath planet with a period of seven days).  She manifests those phases out of its astronomical context to prove her mastery over time, to redress the injustice that was done to her and to stick two fingers up at the Great Compromise.  This implies that the life span of the Red Moon is limited.
  • The Red Goddess splits her time between the observable and the transcendental realms.  The Bright Side is when he is observable and the dark side is when she is not.  Thus the bright side and the dark side are different places with different features depending on where their direction (facing Rinliddi, the light side has birds while the dark side has bats).  The Illuminates see the complete picture which is shown in the Guide to Glorantha, much to the consternation of the Materialists who would really like to know what mushrooms they have been smoking.
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The landscape face on the moon idea reminds me of the amateur reconstruction of "Ecce Homo" anyway.

12 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

In my personal headcanon the Red Moon physically rotates; the bright red shining face of the goddess turns through 360°, over the course of each week, to survey her rich domains (and those few benighted lands beyond her sway).

Given the many different ways to look at the moon, would a static, unmoving moon contradict a rotating face? The Red Moon is an exercise in paradoxes.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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15 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

In my personal headcanon the Red Moon physically rotates; the bright red shining face of the goddess turns through 360°, over the course of each week, to survey her rich domains (and those few benighted lands beyond her sway) ...

Mine, too.

 

15 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

...
Behind the bright red Full Moon face is the dark side of the moon, where nightmares dwell ...

and madness.
"... where nightmares and madness dwell."

===

It is notable, in this model, that the Red Moon is 50% glowing approval, and 50% nightmares and madness (except within the Glowline).

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On 10/30/2021 at 6:35 AM, Nick Brooke said:

In my personal headcanon the Red Moon physically rotates; the bright red shining face of the goddess turns through 360°, over the course of each week, to survey her rich domains (and those few benighted lands beyond her sway).

"Ah, but what about metaphysically?!  <smug nod>"

 

On 10/30/2021 at 6:35 AM, Nick Brooke said:

Behind the bright red Full Moon face is the dark side of the moon, where nightmares dwell. When the Red Moon is in one of her Dark phases, it can’t be seen from outside the Glowline. Within the Glowline the Moon is permanently haloed by a corona-like effect, so the dark bits of the Lunar sphere are outlined with a red glow.

Sorry, my bad on the corona, yeah, that still works within Stated Canon, AFAICS.  And works for me, too.

 

On 10/30/2021 at 6:35 AM, Nick Brooke said:

In some of Greg’s work it appears that the Red Moon is static, always staring fixedly south, never turning her gaze in any other direction, and “there is no dark side of the moon, really.”

it's both major sources on the appearance of the Moon, indeed, Tales and the Guide.  A difficulty if one goes with the "single rotating bright face" take is that the details of its appearance in these then needs a very vigorous edit -- in the admittedly unlikely event this ever comes up, I admit it never has for me.  One side is now straightforwardly visible to mundane perception, the other only magically.  Maybe not quite as visible as with the RW Moon as it's (presumably) slightly smaller, but (presumably) fairly comparable.  (How visible the disks and surface features of of Shargash, Entekos, etc are is another day's work.)

Now I don't think it's RuneSight Science to determine which is which:  hrm lessee, the one centred on Zaytenera’s Palace, or on Gerra's Pit to be the bright side, I wonder...

Another possibility would be to have it both rotate and phase...  but at different rates.  (Say, a daily rotation, for the sake of not over-over-complicating this over-complication.)  Then you have both each part lit at different times, and each part facing in different directions.  I kinda like that as a compromise of sorts, though it's very whole-cloth.  That in a week you get Six Turns that are actually Seven (depending whether you're counting relative to the mundane world, or relative to the Light Face) is kinda nice.

A still-bigger hack would be to drift it in "Glorantha's more like Earth, but for very distinct (or rather, Bronze-Age mythic) reasons" style.  Get rid of the feature of it looking different from different parts of the lozenge, then you have one less variable to worry about.

 

On 10/30/2021 at 6:35 AM, Nick Brooke said:

Plus of course this mindbuggering weirdness about “orbiting shadow emitters.” Pass the hookah, Sultan.

The mindbuggering weirdness part seems bang-on, at least!  Question is, it it the correct amount -- and right sort -- of mindbuggering weirdness.  That fine line between High Mythic and Low Cartoonish again.

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  • 2 weeks later...
33 minutes ago, JonL said:

In the Glorious Re-Ascent of Yelm, Plentonius described Sedenya the Changer as an inconstant sun. Whatever's going on with that shadow, it predates the Red Goddess as she is known in the Third Age.

In this case, the Inconstancy was IMO probably basically just the whole new-fangled rising and setting thing, which is implied in a couple of places to be something the Dara Happans were very much Against (before they were For It -- such ideological Inconstancy themselves!).  To which possibly add Southpath rather than Sunpath behaviour, i.e. very erratic in where she rises, sets, and passes through the Middle and Upper Sky.  Given that GRoY refers to her as "Red" and as a "Sun", I'd be inclined to provisionally equate her with Verithurus/Verithurusa/Verithurusus(/Verithurususus, etc?), who gets mentioned a handful of times, in almost as many different spellings.

Though by all means throw in phasing too, if it feels good!

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1 hour ago, Alex said:

In this case, the Inconstancy was IMO probably basically just the whole new-fangled rising and setting thing, which is implied in a couple of places to be something the Dara Happans were very much Against (before they were For It -- such ideological Inconstancy themselves!). 

While GRoY is a post-dawn document, the tales within it that reference Sedenya take place in prior to the dawn, in the early Storm Age/Antirius period. Plentonius is certainly a biased and flawed compiler of tales, but inserting a diurnal cycle way back into history that way would be out of character for him, muddying as it would his use of Yelm's return from the underworld as metaphor for his patron Kordavu's re-establishment of a unified Dara Happa.  

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56 minutes ago, JonL said:

While GRoY is a post-dawn document, the tales within it that reference Sedenya take place in prior to the dawn, in the early Storm Age/Antirius period. Plentonius is certainly a biased and flawed compiler of tales, but inserting a diurnal cycle way back into history that way would be out of character for him, muddying as it would his use of Yelm's return from the underworld as metaphor for his patron Kordavu's re-establishment of a unified Dara Happa.  

"Sunpath" doesn't imply "diurnal" -- and "Southpath" pretty much necessitates "not diurnal", I'd imagine.  And thinking too hard about what "diurnal" means in the God Time, and before the sun is doing the obvious thing, isn't necessarily recommended.  Protestations of the Dara Happan calendar notwithstanding.

The later "Jernedeus" footnote (yet another alias!) makes clear it's certainly the modern Lunar understanding that other bodies -- "moons", if you will -- were rising and setting before Yelm.  I think it's strongly implied in the Plentonus material, too:  celestial objects have "trails", sully themselves with the world and the underworld, etc.

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There's a lot of variables working here. Celestial objects were starting to move around at least* as early as Umath's careening through the Sky, and that's not only pre-Time, that's pre-Storm Age too. By the time of the Storm Age, the sky was turning blue, the stars had come out, and various planets seem to have gotten their current trajectory (I think?) so what Plentonius' reference means depends on when it is supposedly set. 

Or, well, it depends on what purpose Plentonius has for slandering it as well, of course., but that goes without saying. 

Working with Dara Happan ideas of suns and what they meant in the Golden Age, it seems plausible that Plentonius was referring to an object of celestial light that was "supposed" to be stationary above one of the city-states, but then wasn't. I don't recall if the cities are supposed to still have those things by the time he described Sedenya, so I can't comment further.


(*There's the possibility of a cyclical Sky during the Green Age as well, but I don't think that's terribly relevant to Plentonius.)

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We had this kind of discussion way back in the times of the RuneQuest Daily (this one has a reaction by Nick Brooke and by myself, the quote is from the latter and made its way to the back cover of Codex #2).

Quote
"The moon is always full, she only looks into different directions."
(allegedly said by Icilius Overholy)

"Darkness protects the world from the chaotic glow half the time, creeping 
around the globe of the moon to keep its influence from gathering in one 
place. The glowline thwarts this effort. Because Light has submitted to 
Lunar rule, half the time Chaos emerges unhampered."
(A Dagori Inkarth mistress troll after speaking to Bina Bang)

"Another Crimson Bat, invisible, but even larger, orbits the Red Moon and 
spreads its glow. It is fed Storm gods by the Goddess."
(Allegedly told to Jojo the Bobo during dinner with the Mad Sultan)

"The red glow is the spiritual blood wrenched from the deceived Lunar 
populace. The darkness is where the Void feeds on their souls. If the 
glow stood still, all Lunar worshippers in that direction would lose their 
souls at once. Beware of the machinations of Chaos by the Lunars!"
(From a speech held by Harmast Moonhater, a demagogue in Nochet.)

"The orb of the Moon is a perfect reflection of the nature of the 
Universe. One half glows with Light, the other side of Darkness takes 
it in. As the World hangs in the Void, the Moon hangs in the world. As 
the World is of the Void, the Red Moon is of the World. From the Red Moon 
shall come the White, and once more shut out Chaos and Strife in Celestial 
Peace."
(From: Lunar Cosmology, confiscated by imperial authorities from a raid on 
White Moonies)

 

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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