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Glorantha’s Founding Myth and the Nature of Religion


mfbrandi

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  Over in the Argrath Good/Bad Orlanthi thread:

3 hours ago, Eff said:

Well, to answer these questions thoroughly and precisely: the question is how do you define "god"? This is a very difficult question- are gods immortal? (Devas and asuras in Buddhism aren't, though they have lifespans which may be longer than the duration of the observed universe. The Norse gods weren't, the Ugaritic ones may or may not have been. But the Greek ones were.) Do gods have absolute power? (Answering this question leads you down a rabbit hole in defining "absolute".) There are certainly people who will tell you that they had no concept of a god before Christianity and Christian missionaries came, but their mythological stories and their public-facing ritual practices would seem to suggest that they believed in entities or presences that did the kind of things gods do for other cultures.

And maybe the other end is important too- how small can a spiritual being be before it no longer counts as a god? Lares and penates were certainly gods to the Romans, but domovoi, hobs, brownies, pucks, and the like are in the liminal categories of fairies- but they exist in a Christian context. Even in the non-Christian context of Japan, though, zashiki-wariki and zashiki-bokko are typically considered to be part of the liminal category of youkai. And then next door in Korea, the Gasin/Gashin are clearly gods, though they have formalized names even as they fulfill very similar functions to a brownie. 

But setting that aside, the question of "interventionist" in relation to gods (whatever they are) is perhaps a bit confusing to me. What's a non-interventionist god? Would interventionism mean a god that responds to human appeal in a way that explicitly contradicts the laws of physics, or that does so on their own? That is, there seems to be a kind of assumption that gods and spirits are cleanly separable from natural processes, such that you can distinguish natural lighting from the unnatural lightning of an interventionist weather god. To a very real extent, this begins by defining gods as clearly parasitic or perhaps commensal organisms, ones which are uninvolved with the actual processes but just sit there and perhaps redirect some lightning bolts every once in a while. 

But as far as whether gods or other spiritual entities are good or not... I think that this is possibly the wrong way to think about it, because the more important factor would be that they exist, or that you have a strong belief that they exist. The question of whether they fit into a dualist structure of good and evil is secondary and from a descriptive level, not all that common. To look at contemporary Shinto, which has some degree of developed philosophy on this topic, kami have at a bare minimum an assertive or fierce aspect (ara-mitama) and a gentle or kind aspect (nigi-mitama), which is to say they are neither good nor evil, but more like humans, capable of either. 

As far as ontological commitments go, I would say that all sincere religion at least has the ontological commitment that the religion has meaning beyond the simply personal. This is obviously not necessary and sufficient definition of religion, but it is something that covers the very loose kind of spirituality associated with pantheists, some Buddhists (especially in Europe, the US, Canada, etc.), and some Quakers and Unitarian Universalists, in that they still define themselves to the rest of the world as this, and not an atheist, agnostic, or secularist, or any of the other associations we use to signify that we are not religious, and thus that this has some kind of external meaning. 

This is of course a long answer. I think a short one is that I don't really think that it's likely that someone who sincerely thought that spiritual beings were real, attempted to consult them or ask their aid, and also thought their aid or influence was purely malignant in effect would exist as such, or call themselves a shaman if they did, and that it's not that much more likely that an arbitrary distinction between benign spirits and malignant gods would be central to their worldview but not be evident in this fictional motif (as it's being presented here and in the linked post and in general in these kinds of discussions), which seems to straightforwardly be a kind of disenchantment-of-reality one where all the magic vanishes, not one where one specific kind of magic vanishes but the other three are unaffected or only minorly so. 

… and I think that probably deserves its own thread.

For context, here’s my take on the “founding myth” of Glorantha, the one we all read at the beginning of RQ2 — with some of the later elaborations:

Quote

The gods break stuff and let chaos into the world (the Gods War, in godtime). Stuff gets fixed and the gods get locked out (AKA the birth of time). Unfortunately, this doesn’t work — sneaky gods manifest within time, more than once — and the hero (it is always the same one) has to repeat the original quest to fix stuff and lock out the gods, again. This cycle culminates in the murder of all or most of the gods. This time the world is fixed for good … maybe.

So the question is — I think — if this is a tale told by a religious person, not by a Richard Dawkins or a Christopher Hitchens, what is going on? (To try and keep the question open and not have me shut it down before we’ve started.)

I don’t really think this is problematic — even given my spin on the myth — it is a tale of the desirability of human self-reliance. It expresses an attitude toward life (the universe and everything). And probably, we could just leave it there, but the trouble is that people have theories about what religious belief is, what it means, and what religious believers “really think” the world is like. I am as guilty of this as anyone … probably more so.

Cards on the table: I am not religious; I never have been; when people try to explain their faith to me, I do not understand them. Does that make me an atheist? Well, as Eff says, what is a god anyway? (Although asking the question is maybe a sign something has already gone wrong.)

An attitude that Wittgenstein attributes to J G Frazer (of Golden Bough fame) is that the religion and magic of “primitive” people embodies mistakes about the world. This is echoed in Campbell’s notion of the cosmological function of myth as proto-science. That is: people used to have theories about how the world worked — and these invoked gods and spirits — but we have science, which is better and replaces their “magical” theories like-for-like. I tend to agree with Wittgenstein that this attitude short-changes the people Frazer was talking about: it makes them out to be idiots, which clearly they were not. Wittgenstein would probably say that attempting to explain religious practice is a mistake. Me? I honestly don’t know. (I will put some quotes from Wittgenstein on The Golden Bough in a later comment.)

So in my clumsy way, I was trying to suggest that there is nothing strange about a religious person creating myths about gods who are nothing but trouble, and that it is a mistake to think that all religious people are deluded — they don’t think that gods are part of the furniture of the world in the way that Toni Morrison was, whatever myths they may tell. At least not all of them do (and that is where I really slipped up), and it seems charitable to assume they don’t.

Myths are not fighting for space with physics, and this is where Glorantha gets odd: it seems we are being asked to treat Glorantha as a place where myth and magic take the place of the physical sciences. When one inserts religion into Glorantha, things get mind-bending: myth has to do double duty as science and as myth (i.e. what if Frazer were right, but the world was different?) — but don’t we have different requirements of these two things?

Anyway, that’s more than enough rubbish from me. What does everybody else think?

Edited by mfbrandi
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As promised, some quotes from Wittgenstein’s Remarks on Frazer’s Golden Bough (Brynmill Press edition).

Page 1e:

Quote

   Frazer’s account of the magical and religious notions of men is unsatisfactory: it makes these notions appear as mistakes.
   Was Augustine mistaken, then, when he called on God on every page of the Confessions?
   Well — one might say — if he was not mistaken, then the Buddhist holyman, or some other, whose religion expresses quite different notions, surely was. But none of them was making a mistake except where he was putting forward a theory.

   Even the idea of trying to explain the practice — say the killing of the priest-king — seems to me wrong-headed. All that Frazer does is to make this practice plausible to people who think as he does. It is very queer that all these practices are finally presented, so to speak, as stupid actions.
   But it never becomes plausible that people do all this out of sheer stupidity.

Page 2e:

Quote

   Frazer says it is very difficult to discover the error in magic and this is why it persists for so long — because, for example, a ceremony which is supposed to bring rain is sure to appear effective sooner or later.
   But then it is queer that people do not notice sooner that it does rain sooner or later anyway.

Page 3e–4e:

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   A religious symbol does not rest on any opinion.
   And error belongs only with opinion …

   Burning in effigy. Kissing the picture of a loved one. This is obviously not based on a belief that it will have a definite effect on the object which the picture represents. It aims at some satisfaction and it achieves it. Or rather, it does not aim at anything; we act in this way and then feel satisfied …

   The same savage who, apparently in order to kill his enemy, sticks his knife through a picture of him, really does build his hut out of wood and cuts his arrow with skill and not in effigy …

   If the adoption of a child is carried out by the mother pulling the child from beneath her clothes, then it is crazy to think that there is an error in this and that she believes she has borne the child.

 

Edited by mfbrandi
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3 hours ago, Eff said:

But setting that aside, the question of "interventionist" in relation to gods (whatever they are) is perhaps a bit confusing to me. What's a non-interventionist god? Would interventionism mean a god that responds to human appeal in a way that explicitly contradicts the laws of physics, or that does so on their own? That is, there seems to be a kind of assumption that gods and spirits are cleanly separable from natural processes, such that you can distinguish natural lighting from the unnatural lightning of an interventionist weather god. To a very real extent, this begins by defining gods as clearly parasitic or perhaps commensal organisms, ones which are uninvolved with the actual processes but just sit there and perhaps redirect some lightning bolts every once in a while.

Well, I probably didn’t do a good job of asking the question. My fault.

Think of the cases of kissing a photo and stabbing an image of one’s enemy. Isn’t praying to one’s god like those? The photo kisser isn’t going to say, “I kissed their photo, but my beloved couldn’t feel the kiss.” The image stabber isn’t going to say, “I stabbed the picture over and over, but somehow my enemy is still alive; what went wrong?” (unless that’s part of the ritual, of course).

To quote Jim Morrison: “When I was back there at seminary school, there was a person who put forward the proposition that you can petition the lord with prayer. You cannot petition the lord with prayer.” This isn’t because the god in question “doesn’t exist” or is powerless, it is because religion is not a theory about how the world works, and prayer isn’t a lever you can pull to get a chocolate bar. Of course, you can have bad theories about how religion works and what gods are, and then you might expect … anything, but I don’t want to write off all religious people as nut jobs (or worse, philosophers).

Yes, a myth may say that a type of god lives 100 years or 10, or indefinitely, but in telling the myth, are you making a claim about the properties of the furniture of the world?

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37 minutes ago, mfbrandi said:

 

Well, I probably didn’t do a good job of asking the question. My fault.

Think of the cases of kissing a photo and stabbing an image of one’s enemy. Isn’t praying to one’s god like those? The photo kisser isn’t going to say, “I kissed their photo, but my beloved couldn’t feel the kiss.” The image stabber isn’t going to say, “I stabbed the picture over and over, but somehow my enemy is still alive; what went wrong?” (unless that’s part of the ritual, of course).

To quote Jim Morrison: “When I was back there at seminary school, there was a person who put forward the proposition that you can petition the lord with prayer. You cannot petition the lord with prayer.” This isn’t because the god in question “doesn’t exist” or is powerless, it is because religion is not a theory about how the world works, and prayer isn’t a lever you can pull to get a chocolate bar. Of course, you can have bad theories about how religion works and what gods are, and then you might expect … anything, but I don’t want to write off all religious people as nut jobs (or worse, philosophers).

Yes, a myth may say that a type of god lives 100 years or 10, or indefinitely, but in telling the myth, are you making a claim about the properties of the furniture of the world?

Well, religion is not a theory about how the world works, but of necessity it is built on such a theory. Or you could say that it is built on a number of theory-fragments, or assumptions, the theory itself being an unarticulated assemblage or superposition of them. This is also true of lack of religion or non-religion, and there it is easier perhaps to see- agnosticism is generally founded upon a belief akin to "I don't have enough information to treat a defined belief in the truth of religions or existence of gods in the abstract as if it were factual", which is of course founded itself upon a theory about the workings of the world, which you might sum up as this: "Personal experience and reasoning cannot produce answers about the truth of religion in the abstract."

This feels mostly like a statement of the obvious to me, though. So to get to Herr Wittgenstein, I think that in a real sense he is making an error there in the passages you quote, though he's doing better than Frazer. Wittgenstein is, to use the last of these passages, taking an example of a ritual associated with adoption where the adoptee undergoes a reenactment of birth with their new adoptive mother, and takes the position that the new mother must not believe that she has given birth to the person, as this would be false. And it is in the last clause there that Wittgenstein's error falls, because he is taking it as given that "birth" can and must only refer to the process of expelling a developed fetus from the womb through the vaginal canal via muscular contractions, as assisted or enabled through surgical intervention. And this perhaps feels like an intuitive perception.

MagrittePipe.jpg

This is not René Magritte's 1929 painting "The Treachery of Images", it is a digitized photograph of that famous Surrealist painting, which in turn depicts what is merely an image of a pipe with a caption reminding us that une pipe, she is not present. As David Byrne never put it, this is not my beautiful art, this is not my beautiful wife! But through the tangled thickets of metafiction, it is also straightforwardly the case that this level of literalism is playful. A digitized photograph stands in for the painting, and the painting of a pipe only is not a pipe because it is captioned to tell us that it isn't so. The connection here is clearly real but not literal, and it is true in some senses and false in some other senses.  

So when an adoption requires a ritual reenactment of birth, that is a birth in the very important sense that it means that your adoptive mother has given birth to you and established the maternal relationship through the figurative birth. It is not a birth in the sense that you have not just been forced through a vaginal canal. And for our purposes, it is precisely as literal a form of transferring parenthood as contemporaneous adoption paperwork, which is also not literal. Of course, you can say that adoption paperwork is only meaningful in the legal context of the state and doesn't inherently carry any weight, that all that really needs to be done to change parents is a matter of words. That could be a very long discussion about the power of ritual to create meaning and all that jazz, but my point here is that Wittgenstein's approach is to assume that the religious practice, because it cannot be true literally, could not be "believed in", could not be really understood as truth. And yet we understand in other contexts that rituals do not have to be literal to have power.

But that's for what is, facially, a secular rite in either case. How does this relate to, to use one of Wittgenstein's other examples, stabbing an image of someone to do them harm? (Around here, the preferred technique is to take a photograph and run water over the face of the target so that it's slowly obliterated.) This post is already a massive wall of textual bricks, so I'll continue in a separate one.

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"I just read an article in The Economist by a guy who was riding around with the Sartar rebels, I mean Taliban," -Greg Stafford, January 7th, 2010

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10 minutes ago, Eff said:

a massive wall of textual bricks

paves.jpeg.339dc1c2e185b1fd70543bdb08637362.jpeg
Without the wall, where would we scribble our slogans?

For example, while I'm busy at the office this week I'm reminded of Kafka's little enigma, "On Parables" when it comes to special-case pleading for the instrumentality of religion, especially gloranthan religion as a projection, a sort of band constructed by music critics. What are dreams but diseases of consciousness? What is consciousness but a disease of [desire]? And yet here it is, the mythic.

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This is s very interesting caption for an expression which translates as "under the paving stones you'll find sand" and could mean "under civilization lies freedom!" I like both the original sense and the sense you have used scott. In 4 short sentences and a revolutionary bit of graffiti... you have me thinking as much as the other two had.

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

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Why would intelligent, curious people believe that magic works, or that by performing a ceremonial invocation of rain and pleading with an intangible person who dictates the clouds and makes the hail fill out forms in triplicate they can actually make it rain?

There's a substantial quantity of theoretical work done on this, but let me use another practical example. Have you ever struck a computer and had that fix a problem you were having with it? Have you ever done so hoping that it might fix the problem without knowing why it might possibly do so?

You have performed magic, and you believed in it. You thought that an action performed with inadequate reason for it to do what it's meant to do would work, but you did so because it had worked in the past. Or you learned about it from another folk magician who had it work for them.

This is not to say that thumping a computer is inherently incapable of fixing problems, there are certainly potential mechanisms that can do so. After all, Claude Levi-Strauss reported secondhand the findings of a man named Quesalid, a traditional medical and magical practitioner of the Kwakwaka'wakw people, who had become a "shaman" (as Levi-Strauss uses the term) intending to expose the fraudulent nature of traditional medicine, but in the process of doing so, learned to his shock that it worked- that when he hid cotton in his mouth and bit the inside of his cheek to stain it with blood, spitting out the blood-soaked cotton to show he had pulled the disease out of a sick patient- there was clearly a medicinal effect from this ceremony. You could call it the placebo effect, which I think really undersells the full range of bizarre effects that sociopsychological context has on medicine (not least of which is that it is quite possible to administer an emetic to patients to treat nausea and it will reduce their nausea rather than inducing vomiting) but the point is that magic can turn out to have rational cause-and-effect buried within.

More importantly, when it comes to complex systems like computers, cars, and the human body, it is very difficult to understand the precise chains of cause and effect and doing folk magic works often enough to become folk magic. Rituals justify themselves. And perhaps this is mostly psychology (it can't actually be all psychology because there are physical mechanisms involved), but we are talking about why intelligent, curious people thought that their religion worked.

And the simple answer is that, like thumping a computer, it did work. It didn't work in the direct, simple way of push button-rain falls, but they would have seen rituals performed and results happen. And to continue with this analogy, if you have a problem with your computer, if you're like me, you have a ritualized set of responses you go through, some of which are rational (pressing ctrl-alt-del or alt-f4), some of which are semi-rational (continuing to press alt-f4 multiple times when it fails to work the first time) and some of which are nonrational or irrational (swearing at the computer). And if you have a dry spell, perhaps you have a series of rational responses (slaughter the safety margin in the livestock to reduce the need for grazing) and you have your religious/magical ones, but they have a particular order. And you start with the small interventions and move up to the bigger ones. (And recursion to the mean and the law of averages mean that statistically, big rituals are likely to "work" because they're more likely to come towards the tail end of dry spells.)

But maybe the rituals all fail. Maybe your computer seems bricked. And then you start trying to improvise. Maybe nothing you try works. You fall back on mythology- sometimes, there are long droughts, because Ba'al and Mot are fighting again. And Athtar/irrigation isn't enough to make up for the lack of rain. He just can't stretch enough to reach the edge of Ba'al's throne. Maybe if you get the layabouts and the braggarts, like Anat who keeps talking about how she beat up Fire until Fire cried like a little baby, to pitch in, you can get enough of a harvest to keep people going. Or maybe you send the violent Anat off to fight and secure food elsewhere, through force or through service. And maybe you just have to wait it out. Seven years passed before Anat fought Mot herself and threshed him, winnowed him, ground him into flour, and burned his chaff.

And maybe you start looking around to see what the people in wetter areas know. The other aspect that Wittgenstein understandably missed is that these techniques were traditions, they were built on the weight of a long stretch of observed correlations, but if they stopped working, or if a technique proved to "bring rain", the old could be pushed aside or the lineup expanded.

In all of this, there's a clear theoretical basis for these techniques, and it is one that does not underlie all of religion everywhere, but it is a common one- namely, that humans are not unique beings, but are rather ordinary and representative. We have minds, we have a social order. Other things must have minds and a social order. See, dogs have a clear social order. Bees have a clear social order. Dogs have minds, even if they're not going to be doing the accounting anytime soon. It makes sense that this is general. That the natural world has minds and a social order, and because of this, appeals to that mind through knowing that social order work as well as doing so with humans does.

It is worth pointing out here that the question of why consciousness and minds exist and how they emerge from things which do not have minds is still one that there's no clear answers to, and where panpsychism (mind is universal) is at least as credible as claiming that consciousness is an illusion or does not exist, because they are both the same answer in an important- there is no distinction between matter without mind and matter with minds, and no emergence, just increasing complexity, perhaps.

But you can also categorize this theoretical basis as a kind of pareidolia for the mirror neurons, or something- the projection of things that don't actually exist into the universe through seeing resemblances that our brain assembles. I am not really a secularist, but the secular, or atheistic, or however you want to phrase it, these explanations are not facile ones, even if I don't accept them. They have clear credibility.

I think the final summary, the conclusion here, is this: people believed magic worked despite being intelligent because of the following factors: 1) they lived among many complex systems which they knew could be manipulated in potent ways by seemingly small things, 2) they needed these complex systems to cooperate in order to live and thrive, 3) they were willing to abandon methods that failed to work and try new methods, 4) they generally understood magic as working in an analog fashion where success and failure are not cleanly divided, and 5) they understood nonhuman things as human enough to have relationships with. And so that's why people believed that magic worked, and that's why people believe that magic works today, even though it's only academics and jackasses like me who'd call thumping a computer or swearing at a car a magical practice.

Edited by Eff
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A third, much shorter post, finally talking about the founding myth of Glorantha- it may be the intended foundation of the setting as of RQ2 (minus embellishments) but it is also clearly inadequate to use this to understand the setting. I'm going to quote the text you used as a summary, @mfbrandi

Quote

The gods break stuff and let chaos into the world (the Gods War, in godtime). Stuff gets fixed and the gods get locked out (AKA the birth of time). Unfortunately, this doesn’t work — sneaky gods manifest within time, more than once — and the hero (it is always the same one) has to repeat the original quest to fix stuff and lock out the gods, again. This cycle culminates in the murder of all or most of the gods. This time the world is fixed for good … maybe.

Who and what are the gods manifesting within time, in this understanding? Nysalor, Zistor, the EWF dragons, and the Red Goddess are constructed from within time, and while there's a version of the setting in which all of these are Gbaji, I don't think that's a Glorantha that anyone has ever assembled with red yarn and pushpins. Who is the lowercase eternal champion? Where's Arkatgrath at the fall of the EWF, or at the collapse of the Middle Sea Empire? Agratharkat's quest may have been constructed to Joseph Campbell's instructions, or it may not have been, but in the particulars, the two vary quite dramatically- indeed, if you attempt to read Argrath's life as a reiteration of the Arkat mythos, Argrath is not Arkat, Argrath is Harmast and Sheng Seleris is Arkat! And then Harmast kills Arkat and finishes the job by doing the opposite of what Arkat did historically. So if we take it as given that Argrath is Arkat, it is very dubious that there is a cycle, rather than a new set of events which Arkat-2 understands in light of his past.

So here's another myth which is not in any sense a founding myth, because it's a kind of bouillon cube or ramen soup packet:

Quote

Once upon a time, there was a god who was the nephew of the ruler of the universe. The god had been born into misery and pain, because injustice had been delivered by his uncle against his parents, and his parents had responded with violence. The god grew to adulthood in the world, and saw that it was not a place which allowed him to exist as himself, nor indeed allowed many others to exist as themselves. He determined to challenge his uncle, marshaling an army of those condemned to the edges of the universe, and fought many great battles, proving that he had dominion over all, but unleashing great destruction in the process. Seeing what he had done, the god descended into the underworld.

Now let's have that again.

Quote

Once upon a time, there was Orlanth, who was the nephew of Yelm, emperor of the universe. Orlanth had been born into misery and pain, for injustice had been done by Yelm to his father Umath, and Umath had responded with violence. Orlanth grew to adulthood in the world, and he realized that he could not be free- he could not play the music that he liked, or dance the way he enjoyed. He learned that others were trapped by Yelm, forced into degrading existences. He attempted to challenge Yelm, marshaling an army of those outside of Yelm's court, and fought many great duels, finally unleashing the power of Death and slaying Yelm. Finally realizing after many long years as king that his actions had brought ruin to the world, Orlanth descended into the underworld.

And again.

Quote

Once upon a time, there was Wakboth, who was the nephew of Orlanth, king of the universe. Wakboth had been born into misery and pain, for injustice had been done by Orlanth to his mother Thed, and Thed had responded with violence. Wakboth grew to adulthood in the world, and he realized that he could not be free- he was condemned by the fact of his birth to forever be outside of reality. He learned that many others were kept outside of reality by the power of Orlanth and his court, and forced into nonexistence. He attempted to challenge Orlanth, marshaling an army of those outside of Orlanth's stead walls, fighting many great battles, finally unleashing the power of the Void and destroying Orlanth's mountain hall. Finally, looking upon the ruin of the world he had made, Wakboth descended into the underworld.

What's going on here? My interpretation is a pretty simple one- Orlanth tries to solve the problem of injustice by killing those who behave unjustly, such as his uncle Yelm. But because Orlanth's reign is itself built upon acts of injustice, it can only end in Wakboth, who shall do to Orlanth what Orlanth did to Yelm, with the same relationship between them. The cycle moves forward.

But it doesn't. What happens is that Orlanth decides to give up his dominion over the universe, and Yelm gives up his dominion over the universe. They compromise, and strike a deal, and this deal is one that grows big enough to have a place for Wakboth, who is transfigured into Time. They admit the existence of linear time into the world, and in turn, linear time becomes part of the world. And then when anyone attempts to bring back eternity and deny the importance of Now/Time, then the world pushes back against them. But it does not destroy them, it incorporates them and adjusts for them. Arachne Solara is subtle, but malicious she is not. Or so I have concluded.

(Or on a metatextual level, these events can be quite easily spun around and reinterpreted so long as we accept what came after RQ2... Even something so strange, so Pocharngo-esque, as misapplied worship, even if we need to transfigure it to find it a place.)

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2 hours ago, Eff said:

Why would intelligent, curious people believe that magic works, or that by performing a ceremonial invocation of rain and pleading with an intangible person who dictates the clouds and makes the hail fill out forms in triplicate they can actually make it rain?.......

 

It has been decades since I skimmed the Golden Bough.  But it made an impression on me, and in that light much of this can be explained by one observation and one pre-historical hypothesis:

(1) that the human mind is very good at seeing patterns, and easily sees coincidences as patterns.

There is an evolutionary explanation for this: It is a pattern that an unexplained movement in the leaves may be a big cat intending to ambush a hominid.  Those who avoid that, live and reproduce.  If it is occasionally not really a big cat, they still live and reproduce.  Thus to see patterns that are not real in addition to those that are, was still an evolutionary advantage.  Even though in the present day it tends to make one a conspiracy theorist.

(2) that some time very early in prehistory, one of our ancestors developed a hypothesis: That things that move have spirits in them.  This appeared to have great explanatory power: If you kill an animal it stops moving, and you have already decided that killing it let its spirit out. 

This hypothesis was extended to trees moved by wind  and streams moved by gravity, thus we get belief in dryads and naiads.  Even to the wind, can't you feel it moving?

Shortly thereafter some humans grew attached to the idea that they could manipulate spirits, and shamanism developed. 

Near the beginning of history other people developed a belief in really big and powerful spirits, for instance a storm god, since you can see the clouds move and the hurricane arrive.  It was a short jump to say that these are too powerful to control in the manner of a shaman. But they can be bribed by sacrifice, ceremony, and prayer, and a priest claims to do that. 

And often enough, as you observed above, the ceremony and sacrifice seem to work.  This makes the priest a big man.  Sometimes the ceremony is to ensure that the Nile flood arrives, and sure enough tbe flood does arrive after the sacrifice, for a thousand years.  The priest is a god-king.    When they don't work the priest spins a story.  Who is some farmer to dispute that story, which was told by a learned man higher ranking in the community, even a god-king?  Doubters had better keep their doubts to themselves.

 

 

Edited by Squaredeal Sten
Evolutionary explanation; anmd quoted Eff.
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8 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

  I tend to agree with Wittgenstein that this attitude short-changes the people Frazer was talking about: it makes them out to be idiots, which clearly they were not.

Incorrect. Some of those people will have been idiots.  Every group of humans always contains either professional (village), amateur, or temporary idiots.  Idiots are a constant in all periods in history, in all sexes and orientations,  and in all social classes, cliques, and groups.  Idiocy is in all ways inseparable from the human condition, and anyone at any time may discover that, on reflection, they either are, have been, or were recently an idiot.  The fact is that idiots have always walked among us, and been systematically discriminated against. Most people during their lives will repeatedly flirt with idiocy, and many of us are in fact either living in various states of idiocy, or are recovering idiots.  Idiots have made enormous contributions to human history and development, and continue to play a role in every aspect of the human experience.  What most people don't expect to discover is that they themselves may be idiots without knowing it, or are descended from long lines of illustrious idiots whom they took to be perfectly normal.  There has a long term push to deny idiots employment on the basis of their idiocy, but such discrimination seldom prevails, as it seems whenever someone makes a system idiot-proof, inevitably, and usually quite quickly, the designer of the system will discover that someone has built a better idiot, leaving the designer to wonder (if they have the wit to reflect on their predicament) whether they are, in fact, the idiot, and thus need to be sacked themselves.  Idiots spread a great deal of merriment and joy in the world, and are the source of many highly educational stories, they love well (if not wisely) and their willingness to 'take one for the team' is proverbial.  You likely know and love many idiots, and it is time to stop assuming that people like Wittgenstein and Frazer were in fact not idiots themselves. For example, I would suggest that Wittgenstein was absolutely an idiot based on the way he died, as it was completely f*&king idiotic and preventable.

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8 hours ago, Bill the barbarian said:

This is s very interesting caption for an expression which translates as "under the paving stones you'll find sand" and could mean "under civilization lies freedom!" I like both the original sense and the sense you have used scott. In 4 short sentences and a revolutionary bit of graffiti... you have me thinking as much as the other two had.

The English translation I know and love is “Beneath the streets, the beach!” which to my ear seems appropriately playful, but I shouldn’t bandy translations from the French with a Canadian! As I understand it, the reason the “beach” was being revealed is that the stones were being prised up to throw at the coppers. My baby brother was born in May ’68, but I think the poetry of it was lost on him — though I did get him this as a birthday present one year:

may68.webp.ea6ca743ce72e3f20d1cdb4f30bd5d24.webp

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9 minutes ago, mfbrandi said:

The English translation I know and love is “Beneath the streets, the beach!”

Correct.

9 minutes ago, mfbrandi said:

As I understand it, the reason the “beach” was being revealed is that the stones were being prised up to throw at the coppers.

Also correct, although the poetic sense of freedom, as exposed by our on site barbarian, was also implied.

11 minutes ago, mfbrandi said:

My baby brother was born in May ’68, but I think the poetry of it was lost on him

I was in Paris in May '68, Boulevard Saint Michel (on my father's shoulders, because I was just over 1 year old).

12 minutes ago, mfbrandi said:

though I did get him this as a birthday present one year:

This is a nice book.

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9 hours ago, Eff said:

So when an adoption requires a ritual reenactment of birth, that is a birth in the very important sense that it means that your adoptive mother has given birth to you and established the maternal relationship through the figurative birth … That could be a very long discussion about the power of ritual to create meaning and all that jazz, but my point here is that Wittgenstein's approach is to assume that the religious practice, because it cannot be true literally, could not be "believed in", could not be really understood as truth. And yet we understand in other contexts that rituals do not have to be literal to have power.

But that's for what is, facially, a secular rite in either case. How does this relate to, to use one of Wittgenstein's other examples, stabbing an image of someone to do them harm?

Wittgenstein is not saying that the ritual lacks power, and he is not saying that it is not a perfectly satisfactory way to effect an adoption. He is saying — whether we want to follow him or not — that the ritual, the piece of magic, stands on its own two feet and does not require shoring up by theory: it is fine on its own. He does say that the adoptive mother does not believe that she has given birth to her adoptive child. He does not say this to mock or undermine the ritual; he says this against Frazer.

Of course, one can always say “it is not literally true, but …”, but old Ludwig would say that there is no need. I would add that there is no need for theories of figurative or metaphorical meaning: a metaphor is (typically) false, but it is suggestive of something else; do we need to say any more?

Wittgenstein claims — and it is up to us whether we want to follow him in this — that the enemy’s photo is not stabbed in order to cause the enemy harm, that it is similar to kissing the picture of a loved one, which is not supposed to benefit the loved one but feels right and satisfying to the kisser. For Wittgenstein, magic is expressive. For Frazer (or LW’s Frazer, at least), it is ropy technology founded on a false theory. Ludwig isn’t decrying the photo-stabbing magic, but equally it was not, one supposes, part of his life.

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8 hours ago, Eff said:

even though it's only academics and jackasses like me who'd call thumping a computer or swearing at a car a magical practice.

If you don’t think these will fix the problem (or if that belief is only incidental: you have a theory about your practice, but the practice doesn’t rest on it) but they have a rightness for you/produce satisfaction, then old LW might have admitted these as magic (or magic-adjacent language games), but of course, he was both an academic and a jackass.

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In the Real world I am an atheist positivist and humanist, with some existentialist undertones, as expressed by Jacques Monod. It colours a lot my own approach to Glorantha, which tends to be quite God Learnerist, though I still hold the closest position will be that held by the clay dwarfs. That probably makes my own take more a dwarven point of view than a general truth about Glorantha. As such it is mechanistic and descriptive, and expressed as a clear justification why dwarves do not use Rune magic.

The big difference between the RW gods and religions and Glorantha in the third age, as I will leave out for the moment other ages and the pre-Dawn, is that the transactional nature of religion is much more evident, as rune magic works, and it works differently than the other kinds of magic, which are based on the self and universal laws, whether it is spirit formulas powered by your own energy, or alterations to the world laws, once again powered by your own spiritual energy. In the case of Rune magic, you link and represent a deity, sacrificing / linking part of your soul with that deity in exchange for being able to use that link to manifest the deity's power.

In this descriptive form, deity is any otherworld entity that can provide magic in exchange for a soul-link. I scratched off the otherworld as we know people who are in the mundane world, superheroes and demigods, that provide magic outside the compromise or the Godtime.

It may be interesting to differentiate if Jar Eel does really provide the rune magic of the Moonsword cult, or if she is just a proxy and the magic really flows from her ancestress the Red Moon, but it is clear you can get power from entities outside the compromise, such as the Red Moon while she walked Glorantha, even if the compromise tends to push back strongly, so I maintain that you can get Rune magic from creatures in the world.

Most cults follow entities within the compromise, which means that they are integrated in the magical fabric of the world, their magic can be accessed in reliable ways as the entity itself is now outside time, and usually it is contacted and linked through trips to the otherworld, recreating certain events of power. This would apply also to most Spirit cults, as despite the name, the entity would be a deity according to the definition, and those entities are caught up in Arachne's web, whether it is Oakfed, Lanbril or Lightning Boy.

The interesting part are those deities that appear after the Compromise, as they do quite regularly. Most join the compromise and are integrated in the Godtime, in many cases becoming an aspect, or a modifier of an existing deity, and are usually classed as divine heroes or masks, though in a few cases they keep an independent existence. But how can a mortal become a deity? The definition does not explain it, as it is purely descriptive, but we can speculate. 

Where does the magic come? I think most will agree it comes from the spirits of the living beings, with some differences on our world, as rock and other materials can be living in Glorantha, and we can assume the world itself was alive at the beginning, and that surely was a lot of power.

Where does the magic that the deities use come? From their own spirits, as many were powerful creatures in their own, but also from the spirits of those already gone but that they captured for their own use. So Orlanth not only has access to his own personal spirit, but also that of most of the storm tribe that he gathered as they were lost in the Gods war, those followers they had before time, and those of their followers since time came who were soul linked with Orlanth or one of his aspects / masks.

I do not know if before Dawn and the Compromise deities already soul linked with their followers and that allowed them to manifest the deities’ powers, but I expect the answer is yes. As the deities were less constrained then, I expect the connection was more straightforward. Swear your soul, or a similar connection, and you will get power in exchange. No surprise that many logicians, whose leaders rejected such faustic deals, and many hsunchen, who relied on their own spirits, and possibly a link to the original Glorantha entity that was the initial source of all magic, were tempted to enter those deals in the hard times of the Gods War, despite the potential consequences for their souls. 

Other entities just devoured and used the power of the devoured or were able to extract the magic from the runes themselves, but most those practices were classed as Chaos and were curbed by the Compromise, so now they have to use the same system as all the others.

So how can you become a deity within Time?

You can build up a huge amount of power, and that could be the mechanism used by some mystics turned deities, possibly including Sheng and the divine aspect of Kralorelan Emperors, though usually they become a source of Rune magic after their death / departure from the world /joined the Compromise.

You can access some available power in the God Time. It may be a destroyed entity, or a forgotten one, or a corner that nobody really cared about. Or you can latch to an existing entity and subvert it, taking power from it for your own purposes. That usually backfires, as the Compromise protects its members, as the GLs found out. But you need some link to the power trapped in the Godtime.

In theory you could get some power from souls linking to you without you giving them anything in return, and if you get enough marks, you could be able to power up a limited amount of rune magics. Unlike the real world, the temporary persistence of the dead souls make this kind of pyramid schemes viable in Glorantha, though usually they require huge death tolls, or the destructiveness of Gark. Some critics of the Lunar Empire will indicate this is one of their techniques, but it has been used in other highly populated areas, such as Fonrit, where a huge underclass can be used as a power source.

The big advantage of being linked to the God time is that no mundane catastrophe can undercut that power. The disadvantage is that the Compromise will both tempt and threaten you.

The definitions I use mean that many deities will be very human, as they are really built up from human souls, while other will be totally alien, as they arise from the sea deeps, hell, plants or devouring exo-gloranthan hunger personifications.

As for the founding Myth, I am still working on it, and this is long enough.

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This was mostly stream of consciousness, though It came out much more Lunarized than I intended. So I edited some draconic and dwarven parts that did not fit with the rest and allowed the Lunar parts to remain.

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In the beginning was the One in the Void. Alone, the One started to divide into several, and the parts interacted, mixed and divided further. I will call the One Glorantha. However, the limited being of the One made Creation impossible, as only division and recombination was possible, and the system became static. This state lasted for uncounted eons till an unknown being opened a hole to the outside. That allowed more matter and power in, from the Void, and is usually known as the Chaosium.

The new power fueled a frenzy of creation, division and variation, which brought also conflict for rulership and access to the power. In the fight for access to the new power, the hole became a tear, and suddenly not only new material was coming it, but Gloranthan material was going out. A group of desperate entities quested together to unify all the Gloranthan descendants against the outside, though parts of Glorantha joined the outsiders, and some outsiders joined the Gloranthans, for who can say who was who?

The unification succeeded but the tear could not be fully unmade. Parts of Glorantha will still get slowly lost, and new things will always come in. To limit and control it, all that existed in Glorantha at that point was joined, willingly or unwillingly, into the Great Compromise. The God Time was how the old deities tried to protect themselves from entropy, becoming unchanging once again as in the heyday before the Chaosium, while the Mundane world were those parts that were allowed to decay but also to receive the influx of novelty from outside. Despite the old gods plans, entropy still gnaws at them, and they slowly get lost, unless renewed and remade. That is what happens in the Sacred Time, but only the parts that are known can be remade, and sometimes people add something new, and sometimes a myth or a god is lost. 

All new creation can happen only within Time, in the mundane world, and there we have a replay of the old conflict between the Old and the New. The Old has won each time, but each time they lose more and more of themselves, and the New becomes more prominent. Only when the Old is gone or has embraced the new, can Glorantha be joined as one, and entre a new age of creation and change, unburdened by the prejudices of the past.

 

 

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14 minutes ago, JRE said:

The real question for me is whether Glorantha is expanding, stable or contracting. I propose an expanding Glorantha, and that is why the New eventually will win over the Old  powers.

IMG that which separates Glorantha from the Void was made to contain a certain pressure, but the birth of Umath exceeded that pressure, and the container got torn in places, allowing the void to contaminate parts of Creation into Chaos in places other than the Chaosium, taking away from Creation rather than contributing to it.

The Greater Darkness destroyed quite a lot of what had previously made up Glorantha, and only shards of that were recovered by Arachne Solara, extended on the fringes by memories of what was there before imprinted on the regurgitated stuff of Kajabor. Thus my Glorantha has the mythically solid places which are carry-overs from Godtime - e.g. the Paps, the Block, Tada's Tumulus, Stormwalk, Nochet... and there are rather non-descript places in between which may be overwritten by as little as a fertile imagination. And then there are parts of the Godtime which have not successfully been re-integrated into the Surface World reconstruction but which linger in loops of the web, much like non-expressed DNA e.g. for a fish tail lingers in the human building plan. Those may be pretty hard mythical places, too, but possibly having lost their mythical actors.

When the Syndics' Ban fell on Fronela, that region flipped some places out of existence and provided others as "always having been there" but without any textual or living memory of their origins, especially in the Dona region of the Janube, but also the Black Forest. Check the section in the Guide and read it with this concept in mind...

 

The Malkioni/Brithini West suggests Devolution, a way of expansion that makes everything new that comes into the world smaller than what was there before, thus expanding the holding capacity of this container by mucking up the dimensions. The mystic East challenges our concepts of reality instead.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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Immortality of gods: clearly not the case - plenty of gods perished upon contact with Greater Chaos during the Gods War. Plenty of Creation did, likewise.

But it doesn't even need capital D death to take deities out of (expressed) Gloranthan reality. Umath was dismembered and so much diminished that only his fragments ("sons" and "daughters", like Kolat) and offspring (other sons and daughters with known co-parents, like Storm Bull of Mikyh or Orlanth of Kero Fin/whatever the Mountain goddess of Top of the World is called/...) remained active in the late Golden Age. Molandro and Jokbazi did not re-appear after Brightface vanquished them.

Perhaps this is one valid criticism that Western philosophy has on the supreme Theist interpretation: the Gods are exchangeable and finite, the Runes remain infinite (albeit limited).

Does current Glorantha know and experience all of the runes that existed prior to the Greater Darkness? Hard to say, really. The runes might still be around but currently not recognized as essential building blocks of Glorantha, but then the God Learner understanding of ecology and the minor role of lesser actors keeping the whole intact and running was provably flawed (thinking of raccoon guardians and the like), and it is their syncretic theory that is perpetuated by the Geeks of Lhankor Mhy (in all of her masks).

 

Amount of divinity to "count" as a god:

The ones to gauge deities on such scales would be sorcerers, who would have a fairly objective metric of required magical power to manifest that deity through a straight (no short cuts or auspicious circumstances used) summoning. (Not that any sorcerer ever would do such a thing, except as gedankenexperiment.) In praxis, they probably know how much to invest under more and less auspicious circumstances and will be able to calculate an estimate of an unaided summoning. And they used the method "it takes a god to summon a god greater than itself" to call down Tanian, and luckily for them their back of an envelope estimate rather than calculation was enough.

Another metric might be "how hard is it for an orthodox mystic to refute a deity", but mysticism and metrics don't really get along.

A deity is master over its domain, and its power might be measurable as the Energy from the mystical/magical source, aka the Ultimate through this domain. How much of that is required for a deity to provide rune magic? (And keep in mind that already living heroes and rather minor spirits may have a way to grant rune magic.)

(In non-RuneQuest context, Rune Magic might be a Feat or a Subcult Secret if we look at HW/HQ1 mechanics, and there should be similar parallels for HQ2/HQG/QWG or 13G mechanics that could be identified with RQ Rune Magic. And toss RQ gifts and geases, taboos and shamanic abilities onto that pile of Rune Magic equivalents.

This does run into a problem as the really cosmic dimension deities like Arachne Solara don't usually deign to grant any mortal use of rune magic. Some immortals or capital H Heroes do manage, though, like e.g. Cragspider.

A different approach (also tested out by the God Learners) is the amount of community/cult magic sacrificed to the concept of the entity. The Jogrampur experiment succeeded beyond their wildest imagination. But they might have been warned if they had read the report of Eestern mythographers about that Avanapdur business...

Both Jogrampur and Avanapdur (if indeed they were different entities) prove that a deity doesn't require permanence or object permanence, as long as enough power from the Source (refined by mortals) is channeled through that entity.

 

What's a non-interventionist god?

Having established the concept of a domain, there may be deities whose domains are rather real (and possibly required for persistence) but who don't appear to do anything (or at least, not anything other than resisting erosion/evaporation). Entities with or without permanence, but without agenda or agency beyond being.

When a lightning or disease strikes, does it do so according to a plan or intention of the deity, or does this simply happen due to a random expression of the impersonal nature of the entity or their domain? Propitiatory worship deals with both these possibilities, appealing to the emotions of a deity not to grant a strike that another group may have requested, or appealing to its domain's existential proclivities erecting a screen against such expressions.

The real world polytheist model of interaction with the divine is that sufficient appeal to an entity will result in its action or inaction. In Gloranthan terms, with the gods prevented from freely manifesting (what remains of) their powers of Creation applied to their domain or expanding on the extent of that domain, energies donated through worship, flavored by the content of the ritual (which usually will address certain Godtime feats of the entity, or in case of ascended mortals, hero plane achievements).

Their domains may include quite mundane phenomena, which may be influenced by larger scale magical activity. One such pair of cumulative magical activities are the Cloud Call and Cloud Clear rune spells.

 

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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5 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

The English translation I know and love is “Beneath the streets, the beach!” which to my ear seems appropriately playful, but I shouldn’t bandy translations from the French with a Canadian! As I understand it, the reason the “beach” was being revealed is that the stones were being prised up to throw at the coppers.

Bandy away, French is my second language and one I have not—and at my age, I fear I never will—master. And as a note, too many Canadians do not speak french. This was how I translated it and just to be sure I went to a couple of translation sites before posting. Being Canadian I missed the tossing of the stones after the lifting, but seeing as we are stealing this great thread for small gain I suggest we retreat with the waves and leave this beach to the sand.

5 hours ago, Kloster said:

Also correct, although the poetic sense of freedom, as exposed by our on site barbarian, was also implied.

5 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

Ah, have I made it to the exalted position of Site Barbarian.... I am honoured!

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... remember, with a TARDIS, one is never late for breakfast!

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12 minutes ago, Bill the barbarian said:

Bandy away, French is my second language and one I have not—and at my age, I fear I never will—master. And as a note, too many Canadians do not speak french … but seeing as we are stealing this great thread for small gain I suggest we retreat with the waves and leave this beach to the sand.

It is OK. I mean what you said is true, but the other translation is snappier and preserves the verblessness and beachiness of the thing. Just think Pauline à la plage. 😉

I think my view of the Frenchness of Canada is skewed due to my half-French cousin marrying a French Canadian. I mean the two of them must make up 90% of the population, right?

As for drifting off topic, I think we have all done it on this thread. It is kinda my thread, and I don’t mind — say whatever you like.

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1 hour ago, Joerg said:

Immortality of gods … The Jogrampur experiment succeeded beyond their wildest imagination … One such pair of cumulative magical activities are the Cloud Call and Cloud Clear rune spells.

This is all good, and thanks for reminding me of the name “Jogrampur” (the idea I couldn’t forget), but if you feel like it, turn your brain toward IRL conceptions of magic and religion and then play that off against Gloranthan shit if you like.

I am in the camp of real-life magic and religion are not about blowing stuff up and pulling the lever on the celestial chocolate dispenser, so we don’t get to point at all the practitioners and say, “You idiots, you didn’t get nothin’!” I seem to be in a minority of one, because everybody else thinks that either [a] it is about a faulty understanding of cause and effect or [b] it is not so crazy to think that there is cause and effect there. I would, of course, be overjoyed to be wrong about what other people think (which I usually am, anyway).

What is your take? I mean you did say:

1 hour ago, Joerg said:

The real world polytheist model of interaction with the divine is that sufficient appeal to an entity will result in its action or inaction.

… but that is perilously close to “if you pray, something will happen or it won’t.” But perhaps that is not what you meant.

 

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3 hours ago, JRE said:

In this descriptive form, deity is any otherworld entity that can provide magic in exchange for a soul-link. I scratched off the otherworld as we know people who are in the mundane world, superheroes and demigods, that provide magic outside the compromise or the Godtime.

It may be interesting to differentiate if Jar Eel does really provide the rune magic of the Moonsword cult, or if she is just a proxy and the magic really flows from her ancestress the Red Moon, but it is clear you can get power from entities outside the compromise, such as the Red Moon while she walked Glorantha, even if the compromise tends to push back strongly, so I maintain that you can get Rune magic from creatures in the world.

Just a note, I remember Jeff saying that only the otherworld can provide magic. The Moonsword cult might have some small spells or techniques they can teach, but neither Jar-Eel nor any other Hero can actually provide magic from themselves unless they've given up their agency and become a god.

 

17 minutes ago, mfbrandi said:

This is all good, and thanks for reminding me of the name “Jogrampur” (the idea I couldn’t forget), but if you feel like it, turn your brain toward IRL conceptions of magic and religion and then play that off against Gloranthan shit if you like.

Thanks for clarifying what the point of the topic is right as I was typing, though now I need to erase everything I'd written since it wasn't relevant.

 

I don't have a terrible lot to add, since I'm not nearly as smart and well read as the people here, but from my perspective as a Christian, my real-life faith isn't really concerned with performing magic and getting results, the most important thing is simply the belief that I am an agent of a benevolent creator for the sake of creating a better world - maybe you could say the magical ritual and the results both are just our own actions. Sure, I pray and believe that God answers prayers, but I don't look for the answers to be obviously supernatural or immediate or anything like that. If God is the ruler of creation, things will be done mostly according to those rules that he set down for it. And yes, I know that's a huge f-ing cop out of an answer, as it sounds like me saying dumb luck and placebo are what sustain my faith, but at the moment I'm not feeling articulate enough to explain how I feel better.

As for other religions and practices, the impression I've gotten from those I've talked about this with (unfortunately not many) is that they feel similarly. Things that could be called coincidence could just as easily be called divine intervention, whether immediately good or immediately bad. The proof of the magic depends on the observer, and rational science can coexist with irrational mythology (except for maybe among the most radically fundamental).

Okay, to try and pivot this to Glorantha, I think it's the same deal that divinity is an almost mundane thing. The storm bearing down on your stead is both a natural formation of clouds and electricity and a manifestation of Orlanth. The sun is Yelm, the earth is Ernalda, the ocean is Magasta, the night sky is Nakala, the moon is Sedenya. They have rules and measures and principles which they follow but that doesn't stop them from also being divine. Obviously rule-breaking supernatural stuff is more common than in our world, but by that very point you might say that that's just a natural thing too. The sorcerer can say it was a natural result of power being used to manipulate nature just as easily and just as accurately as the barbarian can say it was his god responding to his need.

I'm sorry if this isn't very clear, it's been a while since I tried to give an actually intelligent answer and it shows. Hopefully it contributes something.

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17 minutes ago, Richard S. said:

The proof of the magic depends on the observer, and rational science can coexist with irrational mythology

Thanks for chipping in, Richard.

I don’t want to put words into your mouth, but would it be fair to say that the two of us might look at an event, agree on some boring “scientific” explanation of it, but that you might also be able to say that it is God’s will?

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