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Western Terminology Questions- Joy, M-o-A, and Ascended Masters


Tabor

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I've been doing a fair bit of reading on the West, and as I've been studying the Guide, Revealed Mythologies, and the Middle Sea Empire book, I've run into a bit of a snag in my understanding of the central concepts of Joy and Men of All. In order to explain, let me first elaborate my own understanding, and then ask a couple of questions.

 

So, Hrestol is the first to experience Joy, and he creates the Man-of-All caste by teaching it to others. At this stage the two seem inextricably linked: having Joy is what makes one a Man-of-All. Being able to experience Joy also seems to come from having been a member of every caste first, though of course it was spontaneous for Hrestol himself. Presumably he either changed caste membership several times on his accidental Heroquest, or was just particularly primed for this mystic-ish enlightenment through luck, his own philosophizing, what have you. The Glorantha wiki entry on Joy seems to agree that Joy is what makes someone a Man-of-All, and though I can't find an exact citation in the Guide or Revealed Mythologies, my own reading of the passages on Hrestol and Arkat seems to line up with this idea.

 

So, question one: How exactly did Hrestol lay out how to achieve Joy, and am I correct in thinking that Joy was necessary to be a Man-of-All in his time?

 

Skipping over the second age and the God Learners, we wind up in Loskalm, who have their own Man-of-All caste. The Loskalmi promote someone to a Man-of-All straight from the Guardian caste, and before someone has been a Wizard or Noble. In fact, membership in the M-o-As is a necessary prerequisite for becoming a Wizard as well as a Noble. So, there's an issue here, because the concepts of Joy and Men-of-All are now decoupled a bit, leading me to believe that a Loskalmi Man-of-All is not the same thing as a first age M-o-A. Which would make sense to me, as a Loskalmi Wizard is different from a Zzaburi, etc. If it's necessary to experience every caste before achieving Joy (which is my understanding), then a Loskalmi Man-of-All is someone who is preparing themselves to achieve Joy, but has not actually experienced it yet. It may also be the case that my understanding of Joy is incorrect, and Joy is actually what allows you to change caste in the first place. In that case though, a Loskalmi M-o-A has already changed caste once before, from a Dronar/Worker to a Holiri/Guardian. In that case they would all have already achieved Joy a good time before becoming Men-of-All, which just seems absurd and also would mean that Loskalm has tens of thousands of enlightened mystics running around in it, which is Lunar Empire levels of crazy.

 

Question two: When exactly in the procession of castes do Loskalmi expect to experience Joy, if it can be expected at all?

 

Then, we have Ascended Masters. The Guide blurb on them simply defines them as people who have "achieved complete unity with the Invisible God." Now, Joy is defined as a union with the Invisible God, which would seem to imply that anyone who has received Joy is an Ascended Master, but that feels wrong to me. Ascended Masters seem rather rare, and more on the level of Gods or Heroes. The wiki even calls them the Malkioni equivalent of heroes, and though I can't find any support in the Guide for this it makes more sense to me. My own guess is that while Joy is unity with the Invisible God, it's not a complete unity. We know that Solace is related to the 3rd action and Joy to the 2nd, so that would imply that there is an as-of-yet unknown mental state/revelation connected to the First Action (Illumination?). Maybe the Ascended Masters are people who have experienced that

 

Which brings me to my third question: what separates an Ascended Master from a Man-of-All from someone who has experienced Joy?

 

Laying it all out, I think my confusion is caused by the fact that we have two names for things: Man-of-All and Ascended Master, but three different things. There's someone who is seeking Joy, someone who has experienced Joy, and someone who is beyond the world. The term Man-of-All seems to overlap the first two, and Ascended Master the last two. It really makes me want to bring back the word Knight, which I understand was cut from the game line for having too many real world connotations, but it would make a lot more sense to me though if Knight was the Loskalmi word for their not-yet-Joyful mounted warrior/wizard caste and if Man-of-All was specifically a term for someone who had experienced Joy. It would fit with how the Loskalmi simplified the other caste names, presumably an effort by Siglat to modernize their language. Still that's based on a lot of assumptions that - as I've already outlined - may be wrong.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read this and hopefully you can help me clear this up.

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1 hour ago, Tabor said:

So, question one: How exactly did Hrestol lay out how to achieve Joy, and am I correct in thinking that Joy was necessary to be a Man-of-All in his time?

Jeff probably will have a better answer (considering the material's largely unpublished), but Hrestol combined all the castes into himself to create an overload of philosophical forms that allowed him to attain a new state of awareness - Joy.  You can achieve Joy without combing castes but it is the mist sure route.

 

1 hour ago, Tabor said:

Question two: When exactly in the procession of castes do Loskalmi expect to experience Joy, if it can be expected at all?

When they become a Guardian (the rank above commoner).  Subsequent higher ranks are dependent on the Guardian having demonstrated his trustworthiness and shown that he has not fallen into Material Error.  

 

1 hour ago, Tabor said:

The wiki even calls them the Malkioni equivalent of heroes,

Depends on which Wiki you refer.  If it's my own writing then much of it was composed before the guide in order to make sense of the contradictory sources then proliferating about.

 

1 hour ago, Tabor said:

Which brings me to my third question: what separates an Ascended Master from a Man-of-All from someone who has experienced Joy?

Ascended Masters have created a new understanding of the Cosmos which benefits others.  They need not have experienced Joy (many sects with Ascended Masters think that Joy is a bad thing).  Fort example Rokar is an Ascended Master for his reformation of the Abiding Book.  This new understanding may be independent of any magic that the Ascended Master may teach.

 

 

Edited by metcalph
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Most sources contradict each other, or are not clear. Some are written from the point of view of a particular sect, so they are subjective. This is my personal view, heavily influenced by the Guide, rather than older documents.

For me Solace is akin to Nirvana, breaking from the material world to join the creator. The main objective effect of achieving Solace is that you cannot be contacted, either through your descendants or any magic. To reach Solace you have to follow Malkion's rules to the end. Ascended Masters are those few individuals that are claimed to have reached Solace while still alive. As once you are in Solace you cannot give any magical benefit, it is not possible in a practical way to confirm if you really ascended while alive, so the list is not universally accepted, as it reflects the preferences of each sect. Many are not Hrestoli, so there is no connection between Men of all and ascension, except that many consider Hrestol himself ascended. They offer examples of good behaviour, and some sects may well offer magical benefits by living that way that they claim come from the Masters, but it cannot be confirmed as the masters are unreachable. Some sects even reject the Ascended Master idea, such as the Rokari, so I expect  nobody considers Rokar an ascended master. 

Joy, which is the core Hrestoli concept, for me is what you feel when you break the rules because it is the right action. It is a personal experience, and the right reasons vary from one sect to another. Joy breaks also the material world chains on your soul, and take you closer to Solace. Breaking caste law is probably the easiest way to experience Joy, and it has become the basis of Loskalm's New Hrestolism, but Old Hrestoli will claim that just breaking the laws is not the point, it has to be at the right time and for the right reasons. 

My Old Hrestoli Men-of-All are those who have experienced Joy and now are working to experience it again, which includes breaking the caste laws. The New Hrestoli sistematize the experience of Joy through organized caste law breaki, and (IMO) do not necessarily experience Joy as much as they should. One is a personal ascension path, while the other is a sistematized meritocratic state religion. In a way, After experiencing Joy the Hrestoli, having broken Malkion's Laws, can no longer achieve Solace in the old way, so now they must follow Hrestol's path as their only choice.

This dual path, reach Solace either by strict adherence to the laws of Malkion, or reach Solace through breaking the laws at appropiate points, drives the dynamic of Western religion and internal conflicts. To make it more complicated, some sects consider you only have one shot at Solace, while Hrestoli and some others believe in reincarnation, so you have many tries till you do it right. How convenient. It also helps to justify any break of the laws of Malkion, because it gives me Joy.

Now to answer your questions.

Hrestol did not set up to achieve Joy, he experienced it, and at the same time got his revelation from Malkion. After this revelation he embarked on his quest, and it has become an alternate way to Solace. That also means that for Old Hrestoli the path usually starts as "knight errant", so it is probably easier for Horali to start along the path. I believe that one of the Hrestoli secrets is that once you master a caste skills, it is frequent to experience Joy when you start to learn another caste. That is also the main tenet of New Hrestolism.

Loskalmi expect to experience Joy when they master the first caste, usually Dronal. My own take is that many do not, but claim they do.

An Ascended Master is defined above. A Man-of-all is anyone following Hrestol's path, either a personal quest or the systematic approach of Loskalm. New Hrestoli usually lack both the intrinsic knowledge of Joy of the Heart and of right action compared to the Law. So they have the skills but not the inner conviction. Any Malkioni in theory can experience Joy, though usually only Hrestoli learn how to identify it, or how to proceed to experience it again. 

I like it that Westerners have the most regulated culture in Glorantha, but also a baked in way to rebel and change it. Let's not forget the God Learners were Hrestoli at heart, and I am sure they experienced a lot of Joy, by breaking the rules.

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5 hours ago, Tabor said:

So, question one: How exactly did Hrestol lay out how to achieve Joy, and am I correct in thinking that Joy was necessary to be a Man-of-All in his time?

So, my thoughts (which are of course not 'canon', my Glorantha sure does vary, MGSDV, etc.) on this subject. 

Solace is derived from a quite literal thing- back in the good times of Danmalastan, you could go to the Citadel of Thought and sit alone with Malkion the Law or Malkion the Seer, and chill in solace. Whenever the world ran down, it was wound back up and renewed. But Malkion the Seer became Malkion the Sacrifice. The way to solace was lost; there was no Malkion in the world anymore. Or so Zzabur said. But the people of Malkonwal thought better. They knew that by following Malkion's revised and expanded laws, they would enter eternal Solace with Malkion when they died, and so too would everything that perished, held forever in Malkion's mind. And so Solace becomes a place as well as a condition. 

But they had no experience of Malkion to prove this, even to themselves. So Joy is another quite literal thing in its origin- the joy that Hrestol felt on knowing that there really was a Malkion still, and that there was something beyond inevitable entropy and decay. 

But there's a major difference here. Joy involves ego death, and Solace does not. This is how I see the distinctions in RM between the Second Action (manifestation) and the Third Action (multiplication)- with the Revelations of Now, you could go back to the moment at the beginning of the Third Action when the singular platonic forms become their material representations through multiplying, and achieve a state where it's just You, Eransanchul, and Malkion. But with Joy, you can go back further, to the moment when the singular forms separate from the One, and become one with Malkion. 

And this is where the MoA/knight comes from- you have had the subjective experience of having your caste identity erased and you have become the maker of the laws of Malkion for a moment. You have authority over the laws to interpret them and even change them, make rulings and exceptions. (And Hrestol judges the Vadeli.) Lots of profound things fall out of this. 

But Joy doesn't have to be a grand experience- I think Hrestol experienced it for the first time accidentally and then had to rediscover the pathways to it that can be approached intentionally. So you can achieve Joy without necessarily having a clear understanding of what Joy is and what it means. 

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Question two: When exactly in the procession of castes do Loskalmi expect to experience Joy, if it can be expected at all?

And that's why New Hrestol Idealism can go peasant/dronar -> soldier/horal -> man-of-all/hrestol -> wizard/zzabur -> noble/talar, because while you can achieve Joy through a process of weakening the ego's attachment to caste as an existential definition, you can also achieve it through other means. And Irensavalism separates out the demiurge Makan and the true Creator Irensaval, and presumably places the authority of zzaburi and talars on the latter- Joy in their understanding is the ability to get past Makan of the Third Action and move into the truer world beyond, where true authority is from. 

Quote

Which brings me to my third question: what separates an Ascended Master from a Man-of-All from someone who has experienced Joy?

And an Ascended Master would be someone who has transformed the Laws in some fashion, who has achieved sufficient identification with Malkion to "write a grimoire", as older materials might put it. But this is separate from Joy or being a man-of-all, because you can also achieve it through the process of creating additions or supplements to the Laws alongside altering them or making exceptions. And so Rokar can be revered by a school of thought that objects to Joy as meaningful or authoritative and is deeply suspicious of men-of-all (while appropriating titles like watcher and high watcher from the Hrestolist man-of-all). 

In other words, an Ascended Master really is like a Christian saint, in that they can be someone who has practiced esoteric or contemplative or monastic life, or they could be someone like St. Thekla. There are also parallels with Zen concepts of kenshou and satori here. 

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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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In my own explorations of Malkionism, to summarise very crudely, Solace is about communitarian orthopraxy with Wizards as mediators (if you die in a state of ritual purity -- as adjudicated by the Wizard caste -- then you will receive an eternal reward) while Joy gives a liberating sense of individualism (if you do the right thing, you don't need a Wizard's blessings; plus, you don't need to keep a support crew from the other castes on hand, as you can do everything yourself).

My Brithini have no Solace. To them, that's Malkion the Lawgiver's big ERROR. They never talk about God or an afterlife.

My Malkioni struggled to adapt the "Golden Age" (pre-Time) Laws of the Brithini for a mortal human society within Time.

My Hrestoli decided that wasn't a sensible way to carry on, and came up with something that actually works for people.

The result gives you the tensions Greg wanted -- Wizards vs. Knights, and Chivalry vs. Sorcery -- in a player-friendly and -enabling way: having a conscience and striving to do good is better than cleaving legalistically to scriptural caste obligations and ritual purity requirements. YGWV, but that's what informs A History of Malkionism and my other articles (coming eventually to the Jonstown Compendium, inshallah).

Edited by Nick Brooke
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7 hours ago, Tabor said:

I've been doing a fair bit of reading on the West, and as I've been studying the Guide, Revealed Mythologies, and the Middle Sea Empire book, I've run into a bit of a snag in my understanding of the central concepts of Joy and Men of All. In order to explain, let me first elaborate my own understanding, and then ask a couple of questions.

 

So, Hrestol is the first to experience Joy, and he creates the Man-of-All caste by teaching it to others. At this stage the two seem inextricably linked: having Joy is what makes one a Man-of-All. Being able to experience Joy also seems to come from having been a member of every caste first, though of course it was spontaneous for Hrestol himself. Presumably he either changed caste membership several times on his accidental Heroquest, or was just particularly primed for this mystic-ish enlightenment through luck, his own philosophizing, what have you. The Glorantha wiki entry on Joy seems to agree that Joy is what makes someone a Man-of-All, and though I can't find an exact citation in the Guide or Revealed Mythologies, my own reading of the passages on Hrestol and Arkat seems to line up with this idea.

 

So, question one: How exactly did Hrestol lay out how to achieve Joy, and am I correct in thinking that Joy was necessary to be a Man-of-All in his time?

Joy is a moment of where one experiences the Invisible God and is transformed by it. Like henosis in Neo-Platonism - union with the fundamental source of reality. The Hrestoli tradition teaches us that we must go beyond restrictions of caste and taboo to achieve Joy, but we must also have experience caste and taboo first - this is like the theurgy involved in Neo-Platonic henosis. Malkion appeared to Hrestol in his darkest moment and showed him the path to Joy.

Through Joy we have a direct line experience of the One - to the Good above the gods and Runes. 

 

7 hours ago, Tabor said:

 

Skipping over the second age and the God Learners, we wind up in Loskalm, who have their own Man-of-All caste. The Loskalmi promote someone to a Man-of-All straight from the Guardian caste, and before someone has been a Wizard or Noble. In fact, membership in the M-o-As is a necessary prerequisite for becoming a Wizard as well as a Noble. So, there's an issue here, because the concepts of Joy and Men-of-All are now decoupled a bit, leading me to believe that a Loskalmi Man-of-All is not the same thing as a first age M-o-A. Which would make sense to me, as a Loskalmi Wizard is different from a Zzaburi, etc. If it's necessary to experience every caste before achieving Joy (which is my understanding), then a Loskalmi Man-of-All is someone who is preparing themselves to achieve Joy, but has not actually experienced it yet. It may also be the case that my understanding of Joy is incorrect, and Joy is actually what allows you to change caste in the first place. In that case though, a Loskalmi M-o-A has already changed caste once before, from a Dronar/Worker to a Holiri/Guardian. In that case they would all have already achieved Joy a good time before becoming Men-of-All, which just seems absurd and also would mean that Loskalm has tens of thousands of enlightened mystics running around in it, which is Lunar Empire levels of crazy.

 

Question two: When exactly in the procession of castes do Loskalmi expect to experience Joy, if it can be expected at all?

During the Ban it was easy. Through training and experience, we are able to mimic in reverse the mistakes of the demiurge and achieve Joy. Indeed even peasants could do it. But now, even some of our most noble leaders are without Joy, a sign of our degenerate times no doubt.

7 hours ago, Tabor said:

 

Then, we have Ascended Masters. The Guide blurb on them simply defines them as people who have "achieved complete unity with the Invisible God." Now, Joy is defined as a union with the Invisible God, which would seem to imply that anyone who has received Joy is an Ascended Master, but that feels wrong to me. Ascended Masters seem rather rare, and more on the level of Gods or Heroes. The wiki even calls them the Malkioni equivalent of heroes, and though I can't find any support in the Guide for this it makes more sense to me. My own guess is that while Joy is unity with the Invisible God, it's not a complete unity. We know that Solace is related to the 3rd action and Joy to the 2nd, so that would imply that there is an as-of-yet unknown mental state/revelation connected to the First Action (Illumination?). Maybe the Ascended Masters are people who have experienced that

 

Which brings me to my third question: what separates an Ascended Master from a Man-of-All from someone who has experienced Joy?

Our greatest heroes are those that could ascend and be in perpetual union with the Invisible God, but remain tied to us as guides and guardians. Bodhisattvas, gurus, helpers, and friends of the Invisible God. They are held in reverence even after their death.

 

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I love your user name. Thank you very much for being here! Let's embroider around these other great responses . . . maybe confuse you a little more, maybe give you the clarity you want.

17 hours ago, Tabor said:

So, question one: How exactly did Hrestol lay out how to achieve Joy, and am I correct in thinking that Joy was necessary to be a Man-of-All in his time?

IMG this is controversial within the historical development of Hrestolist teaching so you are right to ask. The word "joy" appears many times in the Book of the Reign of King Froalar, the most complete (contemporaneous?) account of the great teacher's life we have today. The references are casual and not esoteric . . . "the joy of the returning sun," "many sorrows and joys," "and so the king was filled with joy." 

Instead, the central teaching as communicated in this extremely archaic text is very simple. This is the whole of the founder god's new covenant with the nation of Froalar:

Let the old ways be changed in Seshneg, for you are set upon by a mighty foe. Let those who would lead, do so. Let those who would fight, do so. Let those who would reap and sow, do so. Let those who would study and ensorcel, do so. Go forth and do as you wish, for my blessings go with you. And may all the gods look upon you with favor.

This liberation from caste constraints is, the teacher is quoted as saying, how to become as a god and how to gain the powers of a god. While remaining human.

But to misquote Mr Crowley, the word "joy" does not appear here with its modern aura intact. This is not to strip away all the revelations that come after, only to highlight the rather humble insight at the dawn of it all. With hard work and willpower, you can become whatever you set out to be. You can learn any skill that appeals to you. Nothing human is foreign to you. You can innovate.

"Joy" takes care of itself and seems to get conflated with the hrestolic experience at various points in history, rejected again, reclaimed. Maybe it originates in the exile period. Maybe somebody later comes along and inserts it. Maybe it was always there from year zero, riding alongside caste liberation, hidden between the texts that survive.

Either way, your characters here in the terminal third age can fret at its minutia, sixteen hundred years of theological needlepoint . . . or not. Follow the road in front of you and eventually you'll get somewhere interesting.

17 hours ago, Tabor said:

Question two: When exactly in the procession of castes do Loskalmi expect to experience Joy, if it can be expected at all?

For the people of post-Siglat Loskalm I think there is a terrifying shadow between theory and practice. In theory, joy might come at any moment . . . often, as you suggest, completely unexpected. Joy is a Surprise and a Surprise can be its own Joy. You can experience it as a child digging in the yard, sudden moments of being, sun and smell and the work that is its own reward, the butter melting on the hot bread fresh from the oven. You can experience it at the end, looking backward at the whole carnival of being human. Joy, the riddle goes, is what goes on four legs in the morning, three legs at night, changing shape with you along the way.

In practice, they don't make much time for it until near the very end, when they've absorbed multiple perspectives and lived multiple lives. It's in the contrasts that they discover the universal experience that unites us all. We could even argue that this is a form of native "experimental heroquesting" across incarnations, but that's heavy stuff. Just follow the tension between theory and practice and you'll discover some great memories.

17 hours ago, Tabor said:

Which brings me to my third question: what separates an Ascended Master from a Man-of-All from someone who has experienced Joy?

I'm going to say the first is almost always a role other people ascribe to you, with or without your cooperation. It's largely a matter of posterity, a death mask. They give you one when you were especially memorable and then their need keeps you coming back.

The second is a role you elect for yourself. You see it in the mirror. It's a goal and a path as well as a status in the here and now. It's an acknowledgement that you are On The Road. Maybe you're modest, you're merely a man of some (with a fortune to come). Man of few. But you're trying.

Joy comes and goes, finds you. All masks and mirrors go away. Sometimes smart people can see it on your face, sometimes not. Who cares?

The rest of these responses are great also. In the fullness of sixteen centuries there are few objectively wrong answers, only things people asserted or believed or tried and time judged them for itself. The best parts either persist through the ages or are constantly perversely being reborn. I've discovered new things just writing this and reconsulting the archaic texts . . . for example, Hrestol and his "dragon." The curious "elision" of Hrestol's time in hell, a place for "joy" as we understand it today to emerge, if only that part of the story weren't somehow missing.

9 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

inshallah

inchmalle, surely?

Edited by scott-martin
missing "w" (can you find it)
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On 5/17/2022 at 11:48 AM, Tabor said:

I've been doing a fair bit of reading on the West, and as I've been studying the Guide, Revealed Mythologies, and the Middle Sea Empire book, I've run into a bit of a snag in my understanding of the central concepts of Joy and Men of All. In order to explain, let me first elaborate my own understanding, and then ask a couple of questions.

 

So, Hrestol is the first to experience Joy, and he creates the Man-of-All caste by teaching it to others. At this stage the two seem inextricably linked: having Joy is what makes one a Man-of-All. Being able to experience Joy also seems to come from having been a member of every caste first, though of course it was spontaneous for Hrestol himself. Presumably he either changed caste membership several times on his accidental Heroquest, or was just particularly primed for this mystic-ish enlightenment through luck, his own philosophizing, what have you. The Glorantha wiki entry on Joy seems to agree that Joy is what makes someone a Man-of-All, and though I can't find an exact citation in the Guide or Revealed Mythologies, my own reading of the passages on Hrestol and Arkat seems to line up with this idea.

 

So, question one: How exactly did Hrestol lay out how to achieve Joy, and am I correct in thinking that Joy was necessary to be a Man-of-All in his time?

IMO Hrestol's revelation of Joy was what made him devise the path of the Man-of-All, as a vehicle and road to repeat that experience. (That, and a desperate need for a magical warrior class in the struggle against the Pendali whose lion-magics and earth magics made them superior in that vendetta of early Dawn Age Seshnela.)

The henosis with the Invisible God has been the initiatory experience that marks the graduation to the Man-of-All status ever since the second person (IIRC Faralz, a horali companion of Hrestol) in Malkioni history achieved that lofty rank. Hrestol's (Seshnelan) revelation brought forth the book of chivalry (in older terminology) which laid out the requirements of attaining the Man-of-All status. Possibly as a physical document handed over to the Talar Hrestol in his revelation, possibly written by him during his experience/ordeal, possibly dictated by him to a zzaburi scribe or written down by himself as part of his Talar caste training under his father's first sorcerer.

Other than the weird decision of the Rokari heresy to combine the talar caste with the man-of-all function and status (slightly less weird if you consider that for more than a millennium, most talars worth that name had graduated to Man-of-All status as a matter of policy), there is no Malkioni group where something like man-of-all status is an automatic reward of birth.

 

Hrestol himself had already experienced Joy once before he finished his "mastery" of all four castes. His role at his father's court had given him already the full education of a talar, probably as part of him achieving adulthood. After his revelation by/intellectual unity with Malkion (both as his Ascended great-grandfather and as the emanation of the Invisible God?) Hrestol set out to master the other castes, which included mastery of sword and lance from the Horal caste (a noteworthy feat as his swordsmanship was second to only few of his contemporary Malkioni or Brithini). Undergoing a vigil contemplating on his achievements in all four castes, Hrestol succeeded in achieving henosis again, and thus fortified he set out to assassinate the Pendali ancestress.

 

On 5/17/2022 at 11:48 AM, Tabor said:

Skipping over the second age and the God Learners, we wind up in Loskalm, who have their own Man-of-All caste. The Loskalmi promote someone to a Man-of-All straight from the Guardian caste, and before someone has been a Wizard or Noble.

This applies only to Loskalm after the Syndics' Ban. Prior to the Ban, Loskalmi were as linealist as the Castle Coast refugees from Rokari supremacy or the hidden linealist Hrestoli families in southern Tanisor, the Quinpolic League, and Pithdaros.

There is no Guardian caste. Guardians are members of the Commoner caste who have taken on voluntary duties for their communities, which include military service, peacekeeping and mediatory involvement in disputes. Probably tax collection and similar functions, too.

One might say that in Siglat's Loskalm, the Guardians were those who had mastered the Commoner Caste and became (possible) trainees for the Man-of-All path. There should be plenty Guardians who have no ambition or hope of achieving the Man-of-All status but who are content to serve their communities in the slightly elevated form of the community volunteer.

Whoever has both the ambition and the talent to achieve more in Loskalm will undergo the full training to become a man-of-all rather than just the immediate training to be able to perform as a Guardian in whichever function he needs to fill (which includes military service for the vast majority of Guardians).

 

On 5/17/2022 at 11:48 AM, Tabor said:

In fact, membership in the M-o-As is a necessary prerequisite for becoming a Wizard as well as a Noble. So, there's an issue here, because the concepts of Joy and Men-of-All are now decoupled a bit, leading me to believe that a Loskalmi Man-of-All is not the same thing as a first age M-o-A.

From the "life of Hrestol" section in Middle Sea Empire, there is a possibility that already during Hrestol's lifetime the men-of-all in Frontem were different from those prototype ones he left behind in Seshneg, as Hrestol had renounced all of his achievements and started anew when arriving in what would become Loskalm, leading the emancipation of those colonies from the Enjoreli bull people.

(His Loskalmi disciple Tomaris appears to have been less of a warrior than Faralz, possibly a zzaburi instead. We know that Tomaris is counted among the Ascended Masters, but not all Ascended Masters need to be Men-of-All - I am fairly certain that Halwal never became a man-of-all, yet he has that Ascended Master status, too.)

In Malkioni sects with a hereditary zzabur caste, not every member of a zzabur caste will be a full wizard, and not every member of the horal caste will be a fully trained soldier.

In Serpent King Seshnela, it looks like that a generation after Hrestol, all ruling talars were also men-of-all, and many above-average Horali achieved that status too. Also, once a non-talar had achieved the rank of man-of-all, he could receive a Talar's office as a local ruler, like Faralz did upon his conquest of a Pendali fortress-town. It looks like at least some of the leading zzaburi also achieved the rank of man-of-all. A local ruler was expected to be the military leader, too - a position that does not include fighting by yourself, but leading from the front required the skills of a man-of-all, and leaders leading from the front achieved the results in the struggles with the Pendali.

A wizard seems to need to have undergone a state of unity with the runes he mastered, which isn't quite the same as henosis with the Invisible God, but on the other hand not that dissimilar.

 

On 5/17/2022 at 11:48 AM, Tabor said:

Which would make sense to me, as a Loskalmi Wizard is different from a Zzaburi, etc.

Inasmuch as that he has enough of a basic proficiency with weapons to have passed the Man-of-All graduation - can wield sword, spear and shield with some confidence, can ride a horse. At least IMG even the idealist New Hrestoli of Loskalm are pragmatic enough not to let a talent for wizardry dig latrines or serve as cavalry soldier beyond a mandatory minimal service. They will be selected for magical duties under wizards, effectively an apprenticehood masked as squirehood, or even trained in regimental magics.

 

On 5/17/2022 at 11:48 AM, Tabor said:

If it's necessary to experience every caste before achieving Joy (which is my understanding), then a Loskalmi Man-of-All is someone who is preparing themselves to achieve Joy, but has not actually experienced it yet.

I disagree with this conclusion. To be granted that rank, one must have had a glimpse of henosis. Much of the subsequent soul-searching of a man-of-all will be to repeat and expand that experience.

 

On 5/17/2022 at 11:48 AM, Tabor said:

It may also be the case that my understanding of Joy is incorrect, and Joy is actually what allows you to change caste in the first place.

 

On 5/17/2022 at 11:48 AM, Tabor said:

In that case though, a Loskalmi M-o-A has already changed caste once before, from a Dronar/Worker to a Holiri/Guardian.

A Guardian is not a Horali warrior. In practice, the rank and file of the Loskalmi army is made up by Guardians, yes. Those who serve permanently are trainee men-of-all. The Loskalmi man-of-all replaces the Horali caste as having mastered all of the warriors requirements.

There can be professional fighters among the Guardians whose combat abilities exceed those of a majority of the men-of-all but who lack ability or ambition to master e.g. the Loskalmi law code or business arithmetics (as part of the Talar requirements) or advanced literacy and basic Logic (as part of the zzaburi requirements). (There might even be a few unfortunate Guardians stuck in that state because they fail to master animal care even though their knowledge of Loskalmi law and swordsmanship is excellent.)

 

On 5/17/2022 at 11:48 AM, Tabor said:

In that case they would all have already achieved Joy a good time before becoming Men-of-All, which just seems absurd and also would mean that Loskalm has tens of thousands of enlightened mystics running around in it, which is Lunar Empire levels of crazy.

No more than 15k, if the army is the main destination for graduates. One out of 200-500 (away from my numbers, as my computer requires repair or replacement). That's fairly high if you compare them with illuminates. And it is abysmally low if you compare them with initiates, or even rune levels.

The Heortling male initiatory experience of the Secret of the Star Heart may not be Joy, but it is a similar transcendent experience that is an adulthood requirement.

 

On 5/17/2022 at 11:48 AM, Tabor said:

Question two: When exactly in the procession of castes do Loskalmi expect to experience Joy, if it can be expected at all?

First time experience should be at the end of the vigil that comes with Man-of-All graduation, although there may be blessed individuals who experience Joy prior to that ordeal, or even without having joined the Guardians.

 

On 5/17/2022 at 11:48 AM, Tabor said:

Then, we have Ascended Masters. The Guide blurb on them simply defines them as people who have "achieved complete unity with the Invisible God." Now, Joy is defined as a union with the Invisible God, which would seem to imply that anyone who has received Joy is an Ascended Master, but that feels wrong to me. Ascended Masters seem rather rare, and more on the level of Gods or Heroes. The wiki even calls them the Malkioni equivalent of heroes, and though I can't find any support in the Guide for this it makes more sense to me. My own guess is that while Joy is unity with the Invisible God, it's not a complete unity. We know that Solace is related to the 3rd action and Joy to the 2nd, so that would imply that there is an as-of-yet unknown mental state/revelation connected to the First Action (Illumination?). Maybe the Ascended Masters are people who have experienced that

Most Ascended Masters apparently receive that appellation posthumously.

Under the old Three Separate Worlds concept, these were people who left an original impression or node on the "saint" plane, people who founded a philosophical school or order.

Joy is Unity with the Invisible God, not Complete Unity. Men-of-All and other recipients of Joy have seen the Light, but the Ascended Masters have passed through it to that higher level of cognition on a permanent base. So yes, experiencing Joy is a single moment recognizing the potential of Insight that there is. Ascending means gaining the insight rather than just recognizing it.

 

On 5/17/2022 at 11:48 AM, Tabor said:

Which brings me to my third question: what separates an Ascended Master from a Man-of-All from someone who has experienced Joy?

The recipient of the revelation of Joy has that blessing. The Man-of-All is someone who quests to repeat his experience of Joy. The Ascended Master supposedly has a surefire method to repeat the experience.

The Man-of-All is (supposed to be) on a quest to experience Joy again (and again, and again).

 

On 5/17/2022 at 11:48 AM, Tabor said:

Laying it all out, I think my confusion is caused by the fact that we have two names for things: Man-of-All and Ascended Master, but three different things. There's someone who is seeking Joy, someone who has experienced Joy, and someone who is beyond the world. The term Man-of-All seems to overlap the first two, and Ascended Master the last two. It really makes me want to bring back the word Knight, which I understand was cut from the game line for having too many real world connotations, but it would make a lot more sense to me though if Knight was the Loskalmi word for their not-yet-Joyful mounted warrior/wizard caste and if Man-of-All was specifically a term for someone who had experienced Joy. It would fit with how the Loskalmi simplified the other caste names, presumably an effort by Siglat to modernize their language. Still that's based on a lot of assumptions that - as I've already outlined - may be wrong.

IMG the Man-of-All is the not yet reliably Joyful mounted warrior/hedge wizard/apprentice wizard of the New Hrestoli sect. Has seen the grail from afar, but has yet to find it again. May find fortification in the past experience, or may find a way to experience again.

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Thanks for the responses, everyone. I only get one post a day at the moment and I'm hitting the road tomorrow so I'm gonna try to make this one count.

 

On 5/17/2022 at 4:55 AM, metcalph said:

Depends on which Wiki you refer.  If it's my own writing then much of it was composed before the guide in order to make sense of the contradictory sources then proliferating about.

Pretty sure it's yours, yeah. Thanks fo

 

On 5/17/2022 at 7:10 AM, JRE said:

For me Solace is akin to Nirvana, breaking from the material world to join the creator. The main objective effect of achieving Solace is that you cannot be contacted, either through your descendants or any magic. To reach Solace you have to follow Malkion's rules to the end. Ascended Masters are those few individuals that are claimed to have reached Solace while still alive. As once you are in Solace you cannot give any magical benefit, it is not possible in a practical way to confirm if you really ascended while alive, so the list is not universally accepted, as it reflects the preferences of each sect. Many are not Hrestoli, so there is no connection between Men of all and ascension, except that many consider Hrestol himself ascended. They offer examples of good behaviour, and some sects may well offer magical benefits by living that way that they claim come from the Masters, but it cannot be confirmed as the masters are unreachable. Some sects even reject the Ascended Master idea, such as the Rokari, so I expect  nobody considers Rokar an ascended master. 

Joy, which is the core Hrestoli concept, for me is what you feel when you break the rules because it is the right action. It is a personal experience, and the right reasons vary from one sect to another. Joy breaks also the material world chains on your soul, and take you closer to Solace. Breaking caste law is probably the easiest way to experience Joy, and it has become the basis of Loskalm's New Hrestolism, but Old Hrestoli will claim that just breaking the laws is not the point, it has to be at the right time and for the right reasons. 

Interesting. The way I see Solace is that it's a logical understanding of one's place in the world that brings relief from suffering. It might be highly complex, but once one is walked through the syllogisms or equations and comprehends it, one has it. I also think it has a lot of overlap with the Mostali and their conception of the world-machine, following your caste duties to heal the world, etc. What's interesting to is that Solace was revealed by Zzabur, and we know that the people that still live in Zzabur's society don't believe in an afterlife (which may or may not be canon, can't find a source but it certainly seems to be a popular belief, as @Nick Brooke mentions it in his post), so I think the idea of Solace being a place of refuge in the afterlife is a later addition that came about once enough people had experienced Solace that it became a more prominent place in the Otherworld. Does it function that way now? Maybe, but I don't think it did when Zzabur first revealed it. Plus, it was first experienced before the dawn. Though it all follows logically, many of the original concepts, runes, and lemmas have now been fundamentally changed or destroyed by time and chaos. It's probably a lot more work to reach Solace in the third age, having to be like "OK so before the sunstop light used to have a speed of x and hue of y so when you plug those in instead of their modern values then you z."

 

On the other hand Joy is a far more emotional experience of the Invisible God, and once you've touched it and felt its awareness (and, inversely, it has also touched you and been made aware of you), you are certain that the IG has a plan for you. No need to logic it all out, your god knows about you and you've felt it in your bones.

 

On 5/17/2022 at 10:11 AM, Eff said:

And this is where the MoA/knight comes from- you have had the subjective experience of having your caste identity erased and you have become the maker of the laws of Malkion for a moment. You have authority over the laws to interpret them and even change them, make rulings and exceptions. (And Hrestol judges the Vadeli.) Lots of profound things fall out of this. 

I've always been interested in Hrestol's time in the Vadeli Isles and thought it would make a fun myth. Something like he tries to be fair and moral but the Vadeli twist all his judgments to suit themselves and do evil with them. Fun little narrative.

On 5/17/2022 at 10:11 AM, Eff said:

But Joy doesn't have to be a grand experience- I think Hrestol experienced it for the first time accidentally and then had to rediscover the pathways to it that can be approached intentionally. So you can achieve Joy without necessarily having a clear understanding of what Joy is and what it means. 

And that's why New Hrestol Idealism can go peasant/dronar -> soldier/horal -> man-of-all/hrestol -> wizard/zzabur -> noble/talar, because while you can achieve Joy through a process of weakening the ego's attachment to caste as an existential definition, you can also achieve it through other means. And Irensavalism separates out the demiurge Makan and the true Creator Irensaval, and presumably places the authority of zzaburi and talars on the latter- Joy in their understanding is the ability to get past Makan of the Third Action and move into the truer world beyond, where true authority is from. 

And an Ascended Master would be someone who has transformed the Laws in some fashion, who has achieved sufficient identification with Malkion to "write a grimoire", as older materials might put it. But this is separate from Joy or being a man-of-all, because you can also achieve it through the process of creating additions or supplements to the Laws alongside altering them or making exceptions. And so Rokar can be revered by a school of thought that objects to Joy as meaningful or authoritative and is deeply suspicious of men-of-all (while appropriating titles like watcher and high watcher from the Hrestolist man-of-all). 

In other words, an Ascended Master really is like a Christian saint, in that they can be someone who has practiced esoteric or contemplative or monastic life, or they could be someone like St. Thekla. There are also parallels with Zen concepts of kenshou and satori here. 

Also interesting is how it parallels Dragonewts and their philosophy. They slowly become dragons through reincarnating through their own set of castes, having many different emotional experiences. While mystic truth is never a guarantee, it certainly seems that having a lot of experience in different areas of life is a big help in receiving it. A lesson for us all.

 

On 5/17/2022 at 11:33 AM, Jeff said:

During the Ban it was easy. Through training and experience, we are able to mimic in reverse the mistakes of the demiurge and achieve Joy. Indeed even peasants could do it. But now, even some of our most noble leaders are without Joy, a sign of our degenerate times no doubt.

This would seem to line up with my impressions of the frequency of Joy among the different castes. I'd say the "big names" all have experienced it regularly- Meriatan, Penthea, Gundreken, the Council of the Wise. Many Nobles too, some Wizards, but as you get to the Loskalmi Men-of-All, Guardians, and Dronars it becomes a vanishingly small percentage of people.

 

18 hours ago, scott-martin said:

For the people of post-Siglat Loskalm I think there is a terrifying shadow between theory and practice. In theory, joy might come at any moment . . . often, as you suggest, completely unexpected. Joy is a Surprise and a Surprise can be its own Joy. You can experience it as a child digging in the yard, sudden moments of being, sun and smell and the work that is its own reward, the butter melting on the hot bread fresh from the oven. You can experience it at the end, looking backward at the whole carnival of being human. Joy, the riddle goes, is what goes on four legs in the morning, three legs at night, changing shape with you along the way.

In practice, they don't make much time for it until near the very end, when they've absorbed multiple perspectives and lived multiple lives. It's in the contrasts that they discover the universal experience that unites us all. We could even argue that this is a form of native "experimental heroquesting" across incarnations, but that's heavy stuff. Just follow the tension between theory and practice and you'll discover some great memories.

 

While Joy can come at any time, I do think it's more likely to come at some times than others and that the Loskalmi ordering of society and progression through caste is meant to make it far easier for it to come. I'm sure they also have some meditative practices and texts to contemplate for it as well, else Meriatan wouldn't be shutting himself away in a monastery before the coming of the Kingdom of War.

 

7 hours ago, Joerg said:

There is no Guardian caste. Guardians are members of the Commoner caste who have taken on voluntary duties for their communities, which include military service, peacekeeping and mediatory involvement in disputes. Probably tax collection and similar functions, too.

One might say that in Siglat's Loskalm, the Guardians were those who had mastered the Commoner Caste and became (possible) trainees for the Man-of-All path. There should be plenty Guardians who have no ambition or hope of achieving the Man-of-All status but who are content to serve their communities in the slightly elevated form of the community volunteer.

A Guardian is not a Horali warrior. In practice, the rank and file of the Loskalmi army is made up by Guardians, yes. Those who serve permanently are trainee men-of-all. The Loskalmi man-of-all replaces the Horali caste as having mastered all of the warriors requirements.

I disagree pretty strongly with this. The Guide seems to use the word Guardian pretty interchangeably with Soldier in the sections on Loskalm, measuring battalions in terms of Guardians, Men-of-All, etc. Which would lead me to believe that in addition to being a town militia, a guardian is a standing occupation for someone, more akin to an Orlanthi thane than just a Dronar with a pitchfork. Besides, we know that under the original Malkioni law it was forbidden for Dronar to fight or be harmed in war. While Loskalm is casting off a lot of old beliefs, I would still think there's a pretty sharp divide between someone who is a trained soldier and someone who is any other Dronar job. Horali and Men-of-All coexisted alongside each other during Hrestol's era as well, so I don't think the two would be merged together.

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16 hours ago, Tabor said:

Interesting. The way I see Solace is that it's a logical understanding of one's place in the world that brings relief from suffering. It might be highly complex, but once one is walked through the syllogisms or equations and comprehends it, one has it. I also think it has a lot of overlap with the Mostali and their conception of the world-machine, following your caste duties to heal the world, etc. What's interesting to is that Solace was revealed by Zzabur, and we know that the people that still live in Zzabur's society don't believe in an afterlife (which may or may not be canon, can't find a source but it certainly seems to be a popular belief, as @Nick Brooke mentions it in his post), so I think the idea of Solace being a place of refuge in the afterlife is a later addition that came about once enough people had experienced Solace that it became a more prominent place in the Otherworld. Does it function that way now? Maybe, but I don't think it did when Zzabur first revealed it. Plus, it was first experienced before the dawn. Though it all follows logically, many of the original concepts, runes, and lemmas have now been fundamentally changed or destroyed by time and chaos. It's probably a lot more work to reach Solace in the third age, having to be like "OK so before the sunstop light used to have a speed of x and hue of y so when you plug those in instead of their modern values then you z." I would also hold that the strengthening of Malkioni during time would argue that the two paths, adherence to the laws to reach Solace, or the experience of Joy of the Heart, still are valid.

For what is worth I agree with Joerg on the Guardians. Graduating from Guardian is what really starts you on the path of Man-of-all.

 

A small nitpick. Although we disagree somewhat on what Solace is, I expect we all agree that it was Malkion and not ZZabur who discovered / created / opened access to Solace. Doing that got him and the former logicians that sided with him expelled from Brithos by Zzabur. As I said, for me the key part of Solace for the Malkioni was that you, or a part of you that is considered the quintessential you, would survive the body's death. So besides a potential or real location, it really is a promise of an afterlife, and that is the break with the Brithini and the Vadeli.

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1 hour ago, JRE said:

A small nitpick. Although we disagree somewhat on what Solace is, I expect we all agree that it was Malkion and not ZZabur who discovered / created / opened access to Solace. Doing that got him and the former logicians that sided with him expelled from Brithos by Zzabur. As I said, for me the key part of Solace for the Malkioni was that you, or a part of you that is considered the quintessential you, would survive the body's death. So besides a potential or real location, it really is a promise of an afterlife, and that is the break with the Brithini and the Vadeli.

Malkion proclaimed Solace -that after death the essential you persists (the soul) and will be reincarnated into the mundane world. We gain Solace in this - that there is an immortal Self.

Zzabur says that the spirit, the soul, whatever - that is not I AM. These are names we give to the animating energies that help constitute the I AM, but upon death I AM is no more - it is reduced to its constituent parts and is no longer I AM. And whatever it is, is of no further interest. 

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We are saying the same thing with different words. And I hope we agree that different sects interpret Solace differently, as can be extrapolated from the opinions in the thread. If five Gloranthaphiles hold different opinions on this, what about a few million westerners? I would refer to GtG Ascended Masters and Rokari interpretation of Solace as additional examples of differing views.

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19 hours ago, Tabor said:

I disagree pretty strongly with this. The Guide seems to use the word Guardian pretty interchangeably with Soldier in the sections on Loskalm, measuring battalions in terms of Guardians, Men-of-All, etc. Which would lead me to believe that in addition to being a town militia, a guardian is a standing occupation for someone, more akin to an Orlanthi thane than just a Dronar with a pitchfork. Besides, we know that under the original Malkioni law it was forbidden for Dronar to fight or be harmed in war. While Loskalm is casting off a lot of old beliefs, I would still think there's a pretty sharp divide between someone who is a trained soldier and someone who is any other Dronar job. Horali and Men-of-All coexisted alongside each other during Hrestol's era as well, so I don't think the two would be merged together.

The Loskalmi army is composed of Guardians and Men-of-All, yes - because by taking up weapons for king and country, you show your responsibility to the community and the country. But where does the Guide say that serving in the army (or navy) is the only way for a guardian to serve the community?

A guardian is the equivalent of an Orlanthi carl (or freeman if you prefer the dialect of Blandistan). Fairly competent in martial matters, but few are likely to be able to train others.

I stand by my claim that Guardians are commoners taking an active role in the communities, similar to the Jonstown city militia.

Commoner doesn't imply pitchfork. Think Swiss Army (of any period since the Rütli-Schwur) rather than Frankenstein-style rabble. The kind of volunteers from which the Papal guard was and is recruited.

The concept of mastering the four castes to become a Man-of-All makes it inevitable for dronars or  zzaburs or talars to pick up warriors weapons alongside commoners' tools or writing utensils. Malkion spoke to Hrestol to reveal that those old ways are no longer working in the world inside Time. Like allowing a Talar to care for his own horse or to prepare a meal.

There also has to be an underbelly of Loskalmi society (and Malkioni society in general) which has people trained in weapons or magic outside of the control of the state, i.e. outside of the Guardians.

While an individual serves in the army, that is a standing occupation, but if Plato's republic applies, then the Guardians are supposed to have their commoner livelihood alongside their volunteer time. Something like the volunteer fire-fighter forces in Germany outside of major cities (and even in suburbs of such cities).

I agree that there are plenty Loskalmi who are useless at wielding any military weapon (other than the axe). Much like there are civilians inept at handling a gun in modern countries without mandatory military service. There will be guardians barely better than that, though not in the regular army after a certain period of service.

 

Hrestoli society used to encourage people of all castes to engage in pursuit of logic and the emanations / laws of the Invisible God. The God Learner movement resulting in the Abiding Book was a popular movement in Jrustela engaging in the philosophical debates, across the castes

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On 5/18/2022 at 5:20 PM, Tabor said:

While Joy can come at any time, I do think it's more likely to come at some times than others and that the Loskalmi ordering of society and progression through caste is meant to make it far easier for it to come. I'm sure they also have some meditative practices and texts to contemplate for it as well, else Meriatan wouldn't be shutting himself away in a monastery before the coming of the Kingdom of War.

"Practices"  . . . the cage they build around the experience in the hope of making it a little more predictable like you say. So let's look a little more closely at those bars.

Start with the element of uplift. The historical Hrestol doesn't seem to have had a developed sense of the castes existing in any kind of hierarchy, but instead seems more receptive to a matrix view where the soul is drawn to overcome existing constraints. If you're born into a talar family, you naturally crave a more active and adventurous lifestyle. If you're a horal, you might never really be content in that role . . . and anyone might want to investigate the intellectual disciplines of the zzaburs or figure out how to live productively. You're never really going "up" or "down" across caste lines in the sagas. You're simply expanding "across" barriers.

By the time you arrive at post-imperial Loskalm, the caste matrix has hardened into more of a pyramid with a few aristocrats on top, a teeming perpetual underclass on the bottom and some specialists in between. It's a dark age where pragmatic political economy enforces some squalid feudal divisions. The aristocrats already grow up with everything they need to be happy, so the utopian impulse is to extend that largesse to the workers. Max Weber would say the motive here is something like altruism and something like guilt, embarrassment. There might also be a surrender to demographic inevitability going on that we don't know about yet. (The secret history of the West is full of dronar liberation movements, some of which might even be more or less successful.)

So what you end up with is a system where everybody's "free" to recapitulate the hierarchical system by starting at the "bottom" and working up as high as their talents and opportunities take them. Most people don't get their consciousness expanded all that far . . . from a cynical POV, opening up horal consciousness to the dronars basically means instituting a universal rolling draft (Greg met Hrestol during the Vietnam War) and so your "reward" is getting put in harm's way. Those who survive that experience and can handle more qualify for initiation into the chivalric meritocracy, which is where the deeper Hrestol consciousness emerges. If I remember the math correctly something like 90% of the population never gets there in this lifetime.

Now the horal (kshatriya) is an interesting figure within this work because the real tension for the historical Hrestol and his friends was whether horals could lead and talars could fight. That's the caste line that concerned them, probably (IMG) because of shifts in the balance of importance among the castes within the dawn age communities. We even see this back on the island where the question of might (military force) versus right (the law) rises to the surface. Hrestol is an aristocrat who craves a life of action. The other prominent early "men of all" (engrionor) are grunts who crave a broader life than simply following orders. This is the pivot in the modern Loskalm system as well, with the aspirational warrior (drawn from the workers) rising while the children of the rarefied classes (aristocrats and professional / ritual support) are sent back to the bottom to make room. 

What we have is a society in which everyone in a position of authority has distinguished themselves through feats of arms and craved something more. That "craving something more" is when they're initiated into the Hrestol mysteries and presumably get access to the meditative practices that feed the more philosophical pursuit of joy. (I suspect most people below MOA are not "literate" in our sense, although I welcome surprises.) The content of these practices is worth exploring! I think the bulk of the teaching is applied ethics, how to consider a situation from multiple personal perspectives . . . the game impact would be a kind of "illumination," ironically enough, a kind of relativistic consciousness. They had riddlers in the north too.

Anyway a lot of words but it's that kind of thread, might as well lean into it!
 

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It may not be pure illumination, but I expect that the Loskalmi keep arkati secrets and are expert heroquesters, but only from the sorcerer level up. So yes, something like illumination. 

I also believe Arkat's secret, later exploited by the God Learners, is that sorcery Rune mastery can replace rune affinity in heroquests, which is why Westerners are always better in creative heroquests, because they can represent Orlanth without having a high Air affinity, just Air Mastery. The Loskalmi real power is not the 10% of Men of All, but that potential 1% creative heroquesters sure in their rightness.

However it is very risky when all your soldiers want to fight, and all your sorcerers are supremacists convinced of their divine superiority, and all your leaders know they are better than anybody else in the world. Overconfidence is an understatement.

Last time we had this combination was in Jrustela...

 

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1 hour ago, scott-martin said:

Start with the element of uplift. The historical Hrestol doesn't seem to have had a developed sense of the castes existing in any kind of hierarchy, but instead seems more receptive to a matrix view where the soul is drawn to overcome existing constraints. If you're born into a talar family, you naturally crave a more active and adventurous lifestyle. If you're a horal, you might never really be content in that role . . . and anyone might want to investigate the intellectual disciplines of the zzaburs or figure out how to live productively. You're never really going "up" or "down" across caste lines in the sagas. You're simply expanding "across" barriers.

Brithini society (including the continental colonies that would become the Malkioni) was ruled by fear - fear of old age, fear of death. That fear would overcome any lesser urges like curiosity or ambition outside of the licit.

There was the weak promise of Solace after dissolution of the Self, and the memetic "survival" as an ancestor whose descendants would keep one's memorial (being remembered by others) alive.

(There might be something to be discuvered discussing the Malkioni burial or "Book of the Dead" practices, and comparing those to the murals accompanying e.g. Egyptian burials, only without maintaining the actual material body.)

 

It might be fair to say that Hrestol expanding across these caste definitions was born out of fear, too, although the official line is that Hrestol experienced a revelation from Malkion. Not in an abstract way, but as an experience of a dialogue (think Plato's writings) with Malkion in person expounding on the new ideal way to deal with the problems of life inside Time, and (initally more urgently) staying alive in the struggle against the Pendali.

Hrestol's decision to assassinate Ifttala may have been born out of rather low emotion, the frustration of being thwarted at destroying the fleeing forces besieging the city whose talar had (accidentally?) killed the king (warlord) of a neighboring Pendali kingdom (tribe) in the courtship contests for the daughter of one of the Pendali nobles (commanders of a lesser ket fortress). In an athletic contest of wrestling (???). Hrestol led the relief forces and routed the besiegers, but when rushing after the Pendali to slaughter them from behind the earth turned against his forces, causing casualties too. Hrestol rationalized his hurt pride and was willing to sacrifice himself to achieve his goal to take away that advantage from the Pendali.

(Compared with Arkat's struggles, the early history of the rulers of Frowal and its expansion over the entire peninsula is pretty petty at times, even when demigods get involved. And the role of women in that is fairly limited, along the lines you find in Arthurian stories, as damsels in varying degrees of distress or rarely as sorceresses/witches, or as pagan priestesses.)

Hrestol's leadership in that battle was already as a man-of-all, the only one who had achieved that rank through study and vigil, repeating a whiff of his initial revelation. A few of his companions starting with Faralz (a horali) and a few talars commanding the satellite settlemens of Frowal may have begun their education back then. Malkioni from other settlements like Hrestol's cousin Yadmov actively condemned that breach of caste law. (Yadmov would change his mind soon afterwards and became one of the first men-of-all in history, and the first from his father's colony Neleoswal).

The Seshnegi Hrestolism after Hrestol's departure has been published only in one fragment on the Well of Daliath, the Seshnela King List. While the Second Age entries were revisited and annotated by Greg in the Stafford Library book "Middle Sea Empire", the Dawn Age list did not receive such a treatment, although there are a few more details for the Gbaji Wars period.

 

Hrestols exile brought him into a semi-autonomous part of Brithos, where he was accepted as a talar and son-in-law ruler of a satellite town on the condition that he abandoned his caste-defying man-of-all ways, which he did in deed, if not by conviction, but when it came to decide between the (unjust and petty) commands of the Brithini nobility or saving the life of his friend Faralz (who had slain the petty Brithini talar and consensually abducted his bride from the bloodily disrupted wedding ceremony) he chose friendship over caste obedience. (Unfortunately, Greg's detailed narration ends at this point, and I have only seen annotated chronicles of what happened in Seshnela afterwards, and nothing about what went on in Brithos, the Vadeli Isles, or Fronela beyond the two paragraphs in Middle Sea Empire).

 

The Hrestolism of Fronela is based on Hrestol's ascension to become king and unifier of those colonies against the Enjoreli Boll People threat, after his experiences as Vadeli judge. We learn about a new disciple from that period, Tomaris, although I have no idea whether Tomaris was actually a companion of Hrestol or a posthumous disciple and chronicler like S(/P)aulus. Hrestol arrives here and seems to start out as a farmer, picking up the other professions of the castes as need arose.

(And emulating King Drona's example, I suppose, the Farmer King who came from the West (before the  Kachasti?) with his boar companion.)

And then he abdicates, having found his spiritual development hampered by these achievements, starting anew. (This time without his wife and children?) And runs afoul of the Sog City Brithini (or their hirelings), and gets his martyrdom (emulating Malkion the Sacrifice in a quite truncated story), passing on in (or even into) Joy. (And body...) And I am not sure whether Hrestol followed the path of the Man-of-All in this third approach, or whether he wrestled with the experience of Joy directly.

Fronelan Hrestolism grew out of all three of these Man-of-All or "Contemplationo of Joy" approaches, presumably with the second approach creating the practical forms of Dawn Age Fronelan Malkionism, and the Seshnelan influences coming in periodically as the power of Seshnela (and later its succesor colony Jrustela) waxed and waned.

 

Early Third Age Fronelan Hrestolism was created under the influence of Halwal, the Makanist dissident sorcerer who had been passed over as head of orthodox Makanist Hrestolism and who set off on a pilgrimage with just one companion riding two donkeys in a manner similar to Hrestol's third approach to Joy.

Interestingly, Halwal's complaints about the mistakes of the God Learners don't seem to address the Malkioneranist dabbling with deities and Godtime at all - from the looks of it, Halwal's position and those of his rivals towards outgrowths like the Zistorites, the Umathelan God Learner mass gradiations or the Slontan experiments (never mind the False Dragon Ring weirdness east of Eest) appears to be hte same.

Halwal's involvement in Fronelan matters starts with the rebellion of the Fronelan resistance against the Adalla usurpators who had become a dynasty by this time, in its third or fourth generation. Halwal collects foes of the Adallas, including the weird Irensavalists whose mundane leader succeeded the Adallas as king, but also barbarian allies, nonstandard monastiic wizards (and possibly Man-of-All monks?), and presumably Makanists who were political rivals suppressed by Adalla nepotism. Halwal dabbles in Irensavalism (becoming revered as an Ascended Master for him rescuing the suppressed lore and explaining it, presumably adding to the canon), but judging from his later Ralian activities, embracing all kinds of non-orthodox Malkioni philosophies in search for (his) greater truth. And after succeeding in placing an Irensavalist on the Fronelan throne, independent from the Seshnegi king and high wizard, he goes on to foment trouble in Ralios, researching Arkatism, a form of Malkionism declared a heresy by the pettiness of Nralar the Old.

 

Overall, the major developments of Malkionism appear to grow out of human weakness and pettiness.

  • Hrestol's decision to slay Ifttala after his pursuit was blocked by powerful earth magic.
  • The Serpent King mission to claim the land of their divine ancestress Seshna Likita with Ylream dead/going underground in the process of dying after a simliar failed move of self-aggrandizement repeated by his grandson, ending Ylream's male lineage
  • Nralar enraged that the Autarch (ruling a much greater realm) wouldn't pay him tribute
  • Halwal's rage quit over being passed over as head of the orthodox wizards

And don't get me started about the Enerali-descended ruler of Rindland who adopted the fringe monastic philosophy of Rokarism over orthodox Seshnegi Hrestolism.

 

Irensavalist dualism must have been fairly widespread alongside traditonal Hrestolism when the Adalla dynasty used their Seshnegi orthodox connections to forcibly convert Frontem into Seshnegi mainstream Malkionism as per the Return To Rightness definition. Starting with a series of descendants of Gerlan.t and Nralar, but later replaced by a dynasty descended from Damol (and thereby from Yadmov Neleosson and Fenela Froalarsdaughter, and from Aerlit Kolate) that may have brought back pre-Gerlant notions. A portion of Syranthir's followers were Irensavalists, with a wide array of other magical traditions (probably including hill barbarian bull worshippers) arriving at Lake Oronin and taking over from the Spolite regime of terror.

I don't think that Talor the Laughing Warrior was an Irensavalist, even though he was an avatar of Joy. Talor's kingship re-defined Fronelan Malkionism the same way Gerlant's did in Seshnela. While Talor and Gerlant reportedly had a cordial relationship with one another ruling their fringe kingdoms while Arkat meditated in his Autarchy in a role comparable to that of Belintar in the Holy Country, each rebuilt their kingdom from the ravages of the Gbaji Wars, with Talor having to deal with a much more recent mess than Gerlant whose kingdom had been liberated for good more than thirty years before the conquest of Dorastor.

Talor's exposure to Arkat would have been rather short and recent, unlike Gerlant's who rode by his side throughout most of his campaigns as an Orlanthi/Humakti avatar, and probably even after he became a troll. I think that Talor only ever met the man that emerged from the ruins of the City of Miracles, across the battlefield receiving Arkat's curse (or his separation from his chaotic nature) after Nysalor's death. Talor's main teachigs about Arkat would have come via Harmast Barefoot and his Lightbringer companions.

 

Talor's kingdom was separated from Gerlant's by the sea route (dominated by the Waertagi, and subject to Vadeli interference) and by the land route across Erontree Forest and through Arolanit. While individuals may have carried philosophies across (think about all the damage the monk Patricius left behind in Ireland, destroying possibly more of the bardic/druidic inheritancce than Caesar or his successors), there is no indication that Bertalor's Ecclesiastical Council would have had any influence on Talor's heirs even if it had taken place rather than providing the stage for the assassination of the last direct heir of Gerlant wearing the serpent crown and wielding the flamesword. But by then the philosophical discourse had long become the subject of popular debate in wealthy and peaceful Jrustela rather than conflict-torn Seshnela or still recovering Fronela.

 

Another, much weaker influence on Fronelan Malkionism might have come from Jonat's Seshnegi monastery, but that would have been localized further east, and probably had a stronger influence in Carmania than it ever had in Loskalm.

With Talor's efforts cleaning up whatever came out of the Gates of Banir finished, the common cause between the Hykimi and the coastal Malkioni had disappeared, and it could be replaced by the White Bear Empire long before that empire and the kingdom of Loskalm came into conflict. The Janubian metropolises shared the contact and trade via the riverine Waertagi as their main trait, with at best henotheist Orlanthi as the main influence.

The Carmanian bull shahs had little in common with the Irensavalists of Loskalm but would have had influence on the Talsardian etc. bull kingdoms along the upper Janube that managed to unify the Janubian cities somewhat. Halwal's bull barbarian allies remained on the edges of Malkioni Loskalm, in place for Hrestol to gather aid against the White Bear Empire and to participate in the Syndics' godslaying venture.

 

Theomachies mark the start of most important Malkioni developments. Ifttala at the Dawn, Nysalor at the onset of the Seoond Age, Serpent Form Froalar marking the end of Seshnela proper, and the God of the Silver Feet starting Siglat's Loskalm. Snodal's deed was the first written by Greg, even though it is the most recent in Glornthan history. So, not just human pettiness, but also hybris and nuclear options taken. Quite similar to the career of a certain storm god, really.

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I don't see Arkatism as a strong movement in Fronela at any time. Talor's ecstatic Joywould have been sought after, possibly leading to the dualism of Irensavalism, with Darkness/Underworld and the material world  receiving a bad reputation while Light nd (magical) Energy as per Zzaburite mythology and a more personified yet still invisible and untouchable, not immanent god beyond the demiurge readily associated with Yelm Idovanus by Syranhir's refugees..

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12 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Irensavalism . . . Ascended Master

It strikes me that while ascended master cults are common lore, I don't actually know much about where and when they actually emerged or who maintained these structures as part of their ordinary spiritual landscape. Given the surprising paucity of even "saints" in the orthodox southern materials and the quasi-manichean twirl people like to give the Irensavalists, this may really be a northern phenomenon with living masters honored like Cathar parfaits or sufi pirs while the persistence of contacts beyond death foregrounds some of the transmigratory dimensions that people are chewing on elsewhere in the thread. "Ascension" is when something survives. The "master" is what survives. And there are technical vocabularies for routinizing contact with these survivals as well as just maybe replicating the feat on your own . . . some of these would be those Malkioni Books of the Dead you're looking for. Others, sadly, might secretly steer the reader toward vivamortism and other blasphemies.

I don't believe the line of Syranthir was ever venerated in this way . . . their route to historical immortality was probably different and more extreme . . . but I welcome correction if experts want to pipe up. This is important because it would suggest whether ascended mastery gets a foothold in Carmania because if the imperial founder or his divine son don't get ascended master status then what's the point of anyone having it?

Of course the Stygians might well have perpetuated the practice as seen in places like TOTRM and references to people like "St. Paslac." Whether they had easy lines of communication with the north is an open question. I suspect they did (Arkat conquered the passes and the Wolf Empire seems to have managed on both sides of the mountains before him) but we can disagree. Somebody, however, evidently venerated Paslac as an ascended master after the fall of the Stygians. Who were those people? Where did they live? Are any still around? They might, for example, have been some of the elemental magician-priests who show up in the northern sagas in Jonat's time . . . stygian-tinged sectarians on the fringes between emerging imperial orthodoxy and the pagan traditions. Maybe they conveniently vanished in the ban if not before.

In any event this thread is developing a cluster of strands that each weave into the fabric of conventional "hrestol experience" but may not be equally present in all places and times. There's caste liberation. There's "joy," which may or may not be a philosophical consolation against mortality. There's ascended mastery, which may or may not be a condition of lasting joy. There's the transmigration of souls. And then, as oppositions to this complex, we have the various brithinist and quasi-brithinist (and mostalite and quasi-mostalite, if there's a real distinction) rejections of mortality in favor of caste performance that currently drive movements like the devout rokarist's hope to live forever. We know all the moving parts. How they get dealt into time is an interesting proposition.

(I'm half inclined to just wave a wand and state that the HW approach to all of this, "sorcery plane," "grimoire network" and all, is a fantastically distorted version of what recent Irensaval-oriented philosophers actually taught, before they were wiped out in the purge and their inner teachings lost. But that's a dangerous wave.)

The one thing I forgot to say in my earlier screed today is that I think modern Loskalm has psychologized caste identity by separating it from caste performance. "You are not your job," Siglat may once have said apocryphally or in public where the scribes were waiting with pens juicy with ink. "A farmer may have the soul of a warrior, a sage, a king. Our crusade is to find that soul, feed it the proper food. For when I see the workers of the body, I will give you warriors of the heart. Is not every man a duke? Does not every woman have man rune, is she not a man also?"

Of course this feeds directly into my more recent dumb theories. There's too much we will never really know about the north. Their history is too broken and Greg wasn't really interested.

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Last postscript for now, the best developed "man of all" we have today is probably Ethilrist. While he is profoundly heterodox in innumerable ways, the only western title he ever seems to accept is the simple and slightly archaic "sir." That's the only one that fits, as far as he's concerned. What's his take on "joy?" How does he solve for death and other problems of the soul? If you kill him on the WBRM battle map, will he find a way back?

(He will also accept the title "hero" but I'm not convinced that one originates in the west.)

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5 hours ago, scott-martin said:

Now the horal (kshatriya) is an interesting figure within this work because the real tension for the historical Hrestol and his friends was whether horals could lead and talars could fight. That's the caste line that concerned them, probably (IMG) because of shifts in the balance of importance among the castes within the dawn age communities. We even see this back on the island where the question of might (military force) versus right (the law) rises to the surface. Hrestol is an aristocrat who craves a life of action. The other prominent early "men of all" (engrionor) are grunts who crave a broader life than simply following orders. This is the pivot in the modern Loskalm system as well, with the aspirational warrior (drawn from the workers) rising while the children of the rarefied classes (aristocrats and professional / ritual support) are sent back to the bottom to make room.
 

Of course, this immediately reminds one of the three/fourfold division of primordial Dara Happan society and the Elevens in the Glorious ReAscent. I think there's also elements here of the primordial Danmalastan/Zerendel not ever confronting this question, which suggests that they never sent out many military expeditions where these questions could emerge. And then when the imperial Brithos of the Silver Age begins sending off its castoffs to settle the mainland, they have to confront these questions- but Hrestol is there as well.

I think there's also a factor here where hierarchy becomes more essential in the hostile land- do we know Arkat's initial caste when he leaves Brithos? Brithini are conventionally a kind of mummified living dead without being metaphysically Undead, but perhaps they weren't always so- this may come into play with the "Son of Malkion" being occupied. And maybe they aren't in general- Arolanit seems to have had peaceful transfers of power in Time.

32 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

Last postscript for now, the best developed "man of all" we have today is probably Ethilrist. While he is profoundly heterodox in innumerable ways, the only western title he ever seems to accept is the simple and slightly archaic "sir." That's the only one that fits, as far as he's concerned. What's his take on "joy?" How does he solve for death and other problems of the soul? If you kill him on the WBRM battle map, will he find a way back?

(He will also accept the title "hero" but I'm not convinced that one originates in the west.)

Ethilrist has raided Hell, and of course he views Harrek with some contempt because Harrek can only kill him, unlike Argrath with his eternal twinkling orange eyes. And he has the Hound, a chit akin to a true dragon in both numbers and effects, though instead of the 1-ring extension of hexes from a dragon, the Doom Run occupies a straight line to the edge of the map...

So I think perhaps Ethilrist's understanding of himself is in the Nietzschean powerlust mode:

Does anyone have or can find a higher resolution version of this image ("You  shall be as gods" from the intro cutscene) so I can use it for my FB cover  photo? :

And the simplicity of "Sir Ethilrist" is the most fitting title- there is no need for anything more, because the Wille zur Macht expresses itself through the Cloak of Darkness, and the existence of Black Horse County, and so on. And possibly because Keener Than would hove outside the window of his bedroom and laugh at him if he made any more pretenses.

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

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2 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

It strikes me that while ascended master cults are common lore, I don't actually know much about where and when they actually emerged or who maintained these structures as part of their ordinary spiritual landscape. Given the surprising paucity of even "saints" in the orthodox southern materials and the quasi-manichean twirl people like to give the Irensavalists, this may really be a northern phenomenon with living masters honored like Cathar parfaits or sufi pirs while the persistence of contacts beyond death foregrounds some of the transmigratory dimensions that people are chewing on elsewhere in the thread. "Ascension" is when something survives. The "master" is what survives. And there are technical vocabularies for routinizing contact with these survivals as well as just maybe replicating the feat on your own . . . some of these would be those Malkioni Books of the Dead you're looking for. Others, sadly, might secretly steer the reader toward vivamortism and other blasphemies.

There was a mention of St. Mardon as patron (or perhaps wyter) of the Rokari temple in Leplain. Other than that and Rokar himself (by extrapolation, similar to St. Aeol as eponymous founder of the air-related heressy of Kethaela), the only pre-Guide saint of the south I can name is Gerlant Flamesword.

The Rokari have been painted as iconoclasts or at least directly opposed to the concept of Ascended Masters, including their own founders and first "ruling" Seer Mardron. Just for the irony, I am all in favour of having Mardron (perhaps as "Rokar") as an Ascended Master.

Gerlant was a friend of Talor, and one of the vanquishers of Gbaji. He might even have been one of the Lightbringers accompanying Harmast on his second run of the LBQ resulting in Talor being brought back, although I think that would have been mentioned in the King List. Srill, YGWV.

If it is a Fronelan thing, the concept of Ascended Masters may have been introduced to Safelster by Halwal when he resurrected the various threads of Neo-Arkatism from the Makanist Hrestolism and from more henotheist traditions.

 

The (possibly somewhat heterodox) Brithini from Horalwal had a tradition similar to Ascended Masters, with Yingar the Messenger the ascended brother of Hrestol's father-in-law, and Menena having her own temple managed by her direct descendants (including the duke and his family, but apparently hundreds of individuals across the castes in the unpublished Hrestol's Saga manuscript). However, the majority of the heterodox ones relocated to Frowal, with the youngest daughter of the duke marrying Ylream after he had sired his snake-legged heir on his twin sister and chief priestess of their mother Seshna, Nebrola.

 

2 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

I don't believe the line of Syranthir was ever venerated in this way . . . their route to historical immortality was probably different and more extreme . . . but I welcome correction if experts want to pipe up. This is important because it would suggest whether ascended mastery gets a foothold in Carmania because if the imperial founder or his divine son don't get ascended master status then what's the point of anyone having it?

Syranthir achieved a more personal apotheosis similar to how Moirades (or his ancestor Pyjeemsab) experienced his, with the Lady of the Lake, He probably is one of the residents of the Castle Blue franchise of Hotel California, rather than an occasional visitor like Alakoring. His son is a different matter, possibly an Artmal reborn. They would be tied to the Hidden Castle, although Camanos might have (had) a cult.

 

2 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

Of course the Stygians might well have perpetuated the practice as seen in places like TOTRM and references to people like "St. Paslac." Whether they had easy lines of communication with the north is an open question.

Paslac's death marks the end of unified or open Stygian worship, and any Ascended Master status might be the work of Halwal as there wouldn't have been many supporters of such an elevation at the time of Paslac's death. (At least he was spared being broiught to Frowal in a bloody triumph culminating in a public dismemberment.)

 

2 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

I suspect they did (Arkat conquered the passes and the Wolf Empire seems to have managed on both sides of the mountains before him) but we can disagree. Somebody, however, evidently venerated Paslac as an ascended master after the fall of the Stygians. Who were those people? Where did they live? Are any still around? They might, for example, have been some of the elemental magician-priests who show up in the northern sagas in Jonat's time . . . stygian-tinged sectarians on the fringes between emerging imperial orthodoxy and the pagan traditions. Maybe they conveniently vanished in the ban if not before.

I see some potential for Paslac receiving hidden ancestor worship during the Jrusteli occupation, including the Jrustela-descended usurpators who had married Paslac's female offspring, or at least their lineages from which the current Safelstran "pure Arkati lineages" descend. Those families are quite likely also in the (unabridged) Abiding Book (and their presence there might have been one of the petty reasons the "Rokar" monastic collective had to abridge ithe Word of God).

 

2 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

In any event this thread is developing a cluster of strands that each weave into the fabric of conventional "hrestol experience" but may not be equally present in all places and times. There's caste liberation. There's "joy," which may or may not be a philosophical consolation against mortality. There's ascended mastery, which may or may not be a condition of lasting joy. There's the transmigration of souls. And then, as oppositions to this complex, we have the various brithinist and quasi-brithinist (and mostalite and quasi-mostalite, if there's a real distinction) rejections of mortality in favor of caste performance that currently drive movements like the devout rokarist's hope to live forever. We know all the moving parts. How they get dealt into time is an interesting proposition.

IMO Seshnegi Hrestolism (which is Jrusteli Makanist Hrestolism as propagated by Gerlant and his dynasty) has always had the strict separation of birth castes (including the zzabur caste, IMO) with the Man-of-All as a means to transcend rather than violate these. The Diamond caste of the Mostali might be a weak analogon, another heresy to the original concept becoming orthodoxy by decree of the most populous and powerful surviving colony/ies.

I am rather intrigued by the popular debate not just inside the zzaburi caste which led to the precipitation of the Abiding Book among the mainly Nralarite Seshnegi emigrants on Jrustela (although there were recent emigrants from Brithos, descendants of Damol, and converted Olodo and possibly even converted Timinits and recurring Waertagi visitors in the mix shaping that book).

 

2 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

(I'm half inclined to just wave a wand and state that the HW approach to all of this, "sorcery plane," "grimoire network" and all, is a fantastically distorted version of what recent Irensaval-oriented philosophers actually taught, before they were wiped out in the purge and their inner teachings lost. But that's a dangerous wave.)

I would allow it as one possible silhouette on the cave wall approximating the Invisible God meme.

Rather than an energetic dis-continuum with nodal topography nowadays I tend to see a memetic one. A password (=knowledge)-shielded wiki that requires in-app purchases to set your personal hyperlinks or to share those with your school (as a grimoire), with mastery of runes and techniques enabling search results in those categories.

 

2 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

The one thing I forgot to say in my earlier screed today is that I think modern Loskalm has psychologized caste identity by separating it from caste performance. "You are not your job," Siglat may once have said apocryphally or in public where the scribes were waiting with pens juicy with ink. "A farmer may have the soul of a warrior, a sage, a king. Our crusade is to find that soul, feed it the proper food. For when I see the workers of the body, I will give you warriors of the heart. Is not every man a duke? Does not every woman have man rune, is she not a man also?"

How much of that do you think is Siglat, and how much of that may harken back to (chhonic, but not autochthonic) King Drona(r) presumably from even before the Kachasti Speaking Tour?

(Waving a flag here for my Dronar and Dromal twins performing the Froalar solution upon the arrival of the Logisiticians in Brithela "dumbest theory")

 

2 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

Of course this feeds directly into my more recent dumb theories. There's too much we will never really know about the north. Their history is too broken and Greg wasn't really interested.

For "Greg wasn't really interested" we have a disproportional amount of local historical detail published for the first time in the Guide, from ancient unpublished fragments rather than newly created (like a majority of the local detail in volume 2 of the Guide, comparing with Missing Lands). Significantly more than for ancient Seshnela (ignoring most of the Pendali King Lists details in the process, though, by putting the focus on Imperial Seshnela instead, escept for that Ylream illustration and comments).

The change in Fronelan coastline topography between the Imperial Age and earlier maps (Trollpak, mythical maps in the Guide appendix) and the modern shape of the land (Modern Age map in Trollpak, AAA and historical maps in the Guide based on that and the higher resolution transparent paper master with the 50 years step historical overlays, several of which are shown in the "Dara Happan Book of Emperors" pre-release of the Fortunate Succession as photocopies of the Pelorian portion) with the roughly 15° to 30° insert and the topographical upheavals along the middle Janube indicates an unreconcilable break in continuity of central Fronelan history, though, instrumentalized as an outcome of the Syndcx Ban and Thaw. And possibly freshly awakened Harrek and Infant Jar-eel traipsing through and absborbing territory that no longer exists on the surface of Arachne Solara's Web along the seams of the Ban fragments.

The God Learner mythical maps (consequently) follow the Second Age map of Genertela in Trollpak rather than the post-Ban topography maps used for the historical maps.

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2 minutes ago, Eff said:

Of course, this immediately reminds one of the three/fourfold division of primordial Dara Happan society and the Elevens in the Glorious ReAscent.

I wonder whether the Solar caste system is restricted to Dara Happa. Teshnos has a solar caste system, too, and Kralorela might have a meritocratic variation thereof with its public exams for bureaucrats. But then both Eest and Kralor were subject to the weird form (Malkioneranism) of the God Learner empire and may have accepted those caste structures in Godtime retroactively.

 

2 minutes ago, Eff said:

I think there's also elements here of the primordial Danmalastan/Zerendel not ever confronting this question, which suggests that they never sent out many military expeditions where these questions could emerge. And then when the imperial Brithos of the Silver Age begins sending off its castoffs to settle the mainland, they have to confront these questions- but Hrestol is there as well.

The Nidan uprising against the Kachisti of the Janube valley and Safelster does mention the standard castes for the suprised (and soon to be genocided) Kachisti.

 

2 minutes ago, Eff said:

I think there's also a factor here where hierarchy becomes more essential in the hostile land- do we know Arkat's initial caste when he leaves Brithos?

The Arkat Sage fragments that Greg read on the 1990ies conventions had "young Arkat" among the youngster Horali cadets on the Brithini crusade against the Krjalki, apparently because his mother's father was of the Horali caste and his father unknown. But that is an assigned caste, possibly also due to possession (or maybe just prophecied possession) of the Unbreakable Sword.

 

2 minutes ago, Eff said:

Brithini are conventionally a kind of mummified living dead without being metaphysically Undead, but perhaps they weren't always so- this may come into play with the "Son of Malkion" being occupied. And maybe they aren't in general- Arolanit seems to have had peaceful transfers of power in Time.

Speculation: The majority of the population of Arolanit may well be male Dronars dating back from the conquest of Brithela, possibly together with the uncompfortable number of daughters in later generations (no more than three, though) defying the desirable blue of the Menena female Logician breed. Those not aging from the occasional use of the Rite Forbidden by Urosto (sp?) may still show the occasional gray i(or baldness) in their hair, and other precursors of decrepitude, simply for liiving that far from the Sorcerer Supreme.

There even is a faint possibility that none of the "natives" of Arolanit was born here, that all are first generation emigrants from Brithos. At least in some places.

Bailifide Seshnela reserves topless female dress code for the upper caste - Talar females, possibly Horali females (there are no Zzaburi ones after the Rokari reforms). I wonder whether that applies to Arolanit in any way, or whether all Arolanit folk wear (cusp of the) Ice Age costumes (if with the down padding removed).

The land was conquered by Seshnela a couple of times, and resisted conquest at least once, too. When conquered - whether by Fornoari Enerali, Safelstrans, or Seshnegi/Jrusteli - there is a possibility that the conquerors did not stoop down to acutally tilling the land themselves, using the "native" worker caste population as serfs. (Which caused hardly any change to their lives under Brithini upper caste management, except for the goods taxation was based on).

I am unclear where the unconquerable Horali force went during periods of occupation.

 

2 minutes ago, Eff said:

Ethilrist has raided Hell, and of course he views Harrek with some contempt because Harrek can only kill him, unlike Argrath with his eternal twinkling orange eyes. And he has the Hound, a chit akin to a true dragon in both numbers and effects, though instead of the 1-ring extension of hexes from a dragon, the Doom Run occupies a straight line to the edge of the map...

While the Hound does have some expression of the Infinity rune (at least in boardgame context), Ethilrist himself apparently does not. He might be regarded as a patchwork superhero, but he lacks the cohesion for the full effect. And while Her steed is the Bat Out Of Hell, it is a deeper, more cursed Arkati Hell She released it from.

 

 

2 minutes ago, Eff said:

So I think perhaps Ethilrist's understanding of himself is in the Nietzschean powerlust mode:

Does anyone have or can find a higher resolution version of this image ("You  shall be as gods" from the intro cutscene) so I can use it for my FB cover  photo? :

That is already the credo of Hrestol for his Ifttala theomachy, a concept inherent in becoming a Man-of-All. Maybe not as the basic state of being, but as the goal. Ethilrist's arrogance surpasses this basic statement by a lot. At least in writing his memoirs, if not in deed.

 

2 minutes ago, Eff said:

And the simplicity of "Sir Ethilrist" is the most fitting title- there is no need for anything more, because the Wille zur Macht expresses itself through the Cloak of Darkness, and the existence of Black Horse County, and so on. And possibly because Keener Than would hove outside the window of his bedroom and laugh at him if he made any more pretenses.

"Count" of Black Horse Count(r)y might indeed be an insulting belittlement of his achievements, at least to the bearer of that name. The land grant by the Red Emperor doesn't define the hero any more than the Emperor's claim to sovereignty over it had any chthonic substance.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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6 hours ago, scott-martin said:

It strikes me that while ascended master cults are common lore, I don't actually know much about where and when they actually emerged or who maintained these structures as part of their ordinary spiritual landscape.

My guess (based on wot Jeff has said) is that many of them are worshipped as Ancestors in Seshnela.  Thus they would be open to the nobility who also regulate or prohibit their worship by the soliders and farmers.  The stuff about veneration is ignored by the Rokari (Wizards and Nobles) as a barbarous superstition - for them, the only criterion of whether somebody should be worshipped is ancestry.  That's why Hrestol's worship still persists in Seshnela even though his reputation is quite bad.  Because they are not venerated, they only provide spirit and rune magics.

So what would be classified as ascended master cults (if veneration was actually practiced) would be Gerlant, Arkat, Xemela, Hrestol, Froalar and Dormal (a bit tricky calling him an ancestor but the Zzaburi can always create legal fictions to justify the practice).

Since Halwal is worshipped in Loskalm, I think that in Seshnela, he, Argalis and Yomili are also followed in Seshnela with Theoblanc being a recent addition.  Instead of these being traditional rune cults, they would be more like schools of thought among the wizards with subtle spell effects that comes through practicing their philosophy.

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Finally back home, pretty tired tonight but I will say that my own opinion is that the God Learners probably did pretty good in exterminating Arkati sects in Frontem. I'd think that if any Arkat worship remains in the country, it would probably be very secret and underground. However, they'd probably be rather quick in reviving it as soon as they encounter any remaining cults in Fronela - a likely candidate is Zemstown. They need anything they can get to fight the Kingdom of War, after all.

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My own take on arkati thought in Fronela is simply that Talor surely had access at least to the basics that Arkat shared with his Tanisor veterans when he moved in to Ralios, showcased by Talor's success in the second front against the Bright one. Arkati secrets do not require arkati henotheism or belonging to the Dark empire, and I am sure they were widespread in the forces that destroyed Dorastor. Even if Frontem was pillaged by the GLs for this knowledge, and to purge the non-Abiding compliant modes of thought, Syranthir march and the length of the Janube, make me sure most Talorian (if you prefer that to Arkati) knowledge persisted. Much of this was already known again or rediscovered when Snodal moved along the land in his own quest, and was  used by Siglat and his heroquesting cadres, while waiting for the Ban to thaw. 

I suppose I am not the only one that believes that the Kingdom of War is the shadow of Loskalm, created by the excess of war magic pillaging heroquests by the Loskalmi during the Ban. They were preparing for total war, so total war was waiting for them when the Ban ended.

As for Ascended Masters, I am not comfortable with Jeff saying they give spirit and Rune magic, but we will have to wait and see how it is presented. I would prefer if there is a divide between ancestors / theist and Ascended Masters / mystic, as they are supposed to be impossible to contact, Boddhisatvas analogues. You can experience something similar to their life experience through mystical means. With a cynic hat on, maybe all that talk of Joy is just reliving Hrestol's ecstatic meditative techniques, linked to being a bad boy (disobeying your Lord, breaking caste rules, consorting with Vadeli, killing your host...). But possibly it is just that I have problems letting go of twenty years of Saints. 

Reflecting on it, I would accept some Ascended Masters having divine undertones, just because there is an overlay, possibly a remnant of Jrusteli divine exploitation, so even if Xemela is truly inaccessible, you can use her name and shadow to get Healing magics from the global CA archetype, and it is useful for Rokari and even New Hrestoli, while some in the castle coast and Pamaltela keep the old techniques that allow you to take on yourself the wounds and diseases of others, and hopefully heal them on yourself. Arkati and henotheists just go to the primary source, so they will not be as concerned on what mask it wears. 

Lastly, for Carmania I would expect that Syranthir is inaccesible, through ascension, entrapment in Castle Blue or because Charmain used his soul to create Carmanos, but I am sure Carmanos was accesible to the rulers and the reason why the name is Carmania and not Syranthiria. After the disappearance of the Castle, I still think there is a link with Carmanos, though mediated through the Lunars admitted into the castle before its disappearance, and it was key in the West marches resistance to Sheng Seleris. Whether it is really a lunarized Carmanos or some Lunar mirror is unclear to me, though we will know when the castle returns during the Hero Wars. 

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