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Defining Hrestoli


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Taken from a thread on the RQ forums to avoid a threadjack.

10 minutes ago, hipsterinspace said:

Hrestoli, the so-called Men-of-All, would be within rightness worshiping a deity as an emanation of the Invisible God,

The Men-of-All do not worship Gods as emanations of the Invisible God.  They seek henosis (mental unity) with the Invisible God and view worshipping other gods as being impediments to that goal.  The Loskalmi even go so far as to shun the worship of all Gods within their kingdom, according to Jeff.


Within Loskalm, ALL citizens worship the Invisible God and the Ascended Masters (Malkioni hero cults) exclusively.


How sustainable this is is another question entirely (my own opinion is, not very).  There is a strand of Hrestoli that does worship Gods, the Arkati, but the Hrestoli would consider classifying the Arkati as one of them to be an insult.  What the Arkati think about worship of the Gods ranges from simple pragmaticism to illumination aids.


10 minutes ago, hipsterinspace said:

the God Learners—probably the most prominent Hrestoli group of all—did quite a lot of that.

The God Learners did do a lot of that but they a) weren't Hrestoli (even going so far as to persecute the Hrestoli of Loskalm) and b) didn't consider the Gods to be emanations of the Invisible God.  The Aeolians do, but they're not Hrestoli either.


10 minutes ago, hipsterinspace said:

I'd think the very syncretic Jonatelans are likely to have a few Hrestoli, especially given the role of the Talor cult (Talor himself being a Hrestoli).

I wouldn't call the Jonatelan faith syncretic.  The Jonatelans can be understood as a Malkioni kingdom with a large part of the population not practicing Rightness.  In this, they are not very different from past Malkioni kingdoms such as Seshneg and Slontos. 

Talor was a Hrestoli but I think Malkioni view his worship as a cult in its own right rather than a Hrestoli cult.  The trouble with suggesting followers of Talor and Hrestol as pirates is that they are meant to be valiant heroes defending their lands against evil.  Sailing around, sacking cities and taking stuff that does not belong to them is hard to reconcile with this.     

10 minutes ago, hipsterinspace said:

I'd think some Hrestoli Navigationalists probably count among the 5% of "Malkioni Heretics" who are part of the Wolf Pirates given their whole mytho-religious preoccupation with naval metaphors.

I don't think the Navigators are Hrestoli.  They come from Rokari-adjacent Pasos and  were part of the Kingdom of Seshnela not so long ago.  Their opposition to the kingdom seems to be rooted more in political differences (we are servants of the Hadestolids and nobody else) rather than doctrinal ones.



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Hrestolism was the mainstream Malkioni philosophy up until the God Learners got God Learned, and it's not the same as what the Loskalmi practice. Both New Hrestolism and Rokarism are reactions to the failure of old Hrestolism, whose belief that the world was fully subject to humans led to the excesses and failure of the MSE.



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There is a perennial disagreement about what constitutes Hrestolism and what doesn't.

Practically all Malkionism is divided between who is important: the wizards and the men-of-all. The wizards draw upon the traditions of Zzabur, the men-of-all draw on the revelations of Hrestol.

The old Brithini way has Zzaburism, refined over the millennia and purified by eviction of all impure practices. There are no men-of-all.

Other than Arolanit and the Brass Citadel in Sog City, the descendants of the Brithini in Genertela have departed from Zzaburism. and are called Malkioni instead. And all their colonies (also the ones founded since the Dawn) have embraced the teachings of Hrestol, based on his Man-of-All revelations of henosis with the Invisible God.

The dominant sect in Tanisor, the Rokari, define themselves by rejecting this core tenet of Hrestolism, but they have inherited and modified all the changes Hrestol's revelations brought to Seshnela and the countries conquered by Seshnegi, spreading their ways to people of non-Brithini descent.

(Tnere may be small communities of Danmalastan descent who made it to Genertela between the Expulsion March/Breaking of the World and Hrestol's revelations, some possibly carried there on Waertagi ships. The God Forgot Brithini ways are suspicious, but might just as well be the result of just another God Learner experiment.)

This covers all non-Hrestoli Malkioni.

Calling the all the others Hrestoli might be tempting, but isn't that helpful.


9 hours ago, hipsterinspace said:

I was under the impression that Mularik was still a Hrestoli, just like Arkat himself.

Arkatism has plenty interpretations, some aligning well with Hrestolism, others not that much (e.g. Arkat the Troll). I would agree that Mularik's Arkatism has strong elements of Hrestolism and few of the pagan orientations.

Arkat received the full fourth century Seshnegi Hrestoli experience when he defected from the Brithini forces to the kingdom of Seshnela.

His opposite number in Seshnela after the end of the Gbaji Wars, Gerlant, had the same experience (he was not from the kingdom of Seshnela, either, but from one of the regions formerly ruled by the Silver Empire). While Gerlant and the previous dynasty had continued the fight alongside Arkat, they had condoned the condemnation his conversion to the Lightbringer ways (Orlanth and Humakt) by the wizards of Old Seshnela.

Arkat's successors shared Seshnegi Malkionism to quite some degree in Safelster, although with strong Lightbringer influences that extended to sacrificial practices the further you got away from the lower Tanier valley.

Halwal liberated the various Arkati sects that had hidden under God Learner rule, co-opted quite a few of the God Learner-descended nobility to his cause and seems to have managed to syncretize three different main expressions of Arkatism (following one each of the Three Rivals) and to have their troops march alongside him against Yomlili.

Halwal's orthodox God Learner Hrestoli ays will have contributed the glue between the genuine bits rescued from obscurity, re-inforcing Hrestolism a little more in Safelstran Arkatism.

The Galvosti sect (based on Holut) with their own charming take on tapping of non-Malkioni has been described as a Hrestoli sect in the Guide.  Their ancestors may have been one of the groups following Halwal, but if they are an Arkati group, that isn't made explicit. Tapping goes against the teachings of Hrestol, as far as we know. (Greg's old, hardly published stories about Hrestol don't mention that magical practice.) Galvosti seem to tap only humans and possibly (local) deities, not the world around them, a weird restriction compared to what Zzabur and the Vadeli did to the Neliomi Sea and their lands in the Gods War, or what the sorcerers of Arolanit do to their home country.

The obscure Boristi sect seems to draw on Arkat's experiences confronting Chaos in the Gbaji Wars. Whether that makes them Arkati or not is another question.

(Halwal had previously re-constructed Fronelan Hrestolism against his own God Learner Hrestolism, joining forces with the local Bull Lightbrinnger population and possibly allowing a little of their traditions into the Fronelan mix. It is unclear whether he brought some of the Irensavalist stuff into Safelster.)


Arkatism may be more defined by their approach towards (responsible) creative heroquesting than to its roots in Malkionism - another semantic trouble in these definitions.


8 hours ago, Richard S. said:

Those are New Hrestoli. As far as we know, there aren't any original Hrestoli left; the last of them died with the god learners.

Rokarism was a movement against Seshnegi-style Hrestolism outside of the immediate cataclysm area, i.e. the Tanier valley. A portion of those older-style Hrestoli went into exile on the Castle Coast (depopulated by the Old Seshnela cataclysm) and founded their own decadent utopia there. A majority went into hiding, confessing to the Rokari doctrine when observed but maintaining at least portions of older Hrestoli ways, not dissimilar to how the Arkati "survived" under the God Learners.

One monastic community of God Learner-trained wizards was rescued from the Old Seshnela cataclysm by Jonat and transplanted into his nascent kingdom.

The kingdom of Ramalia escaped most of the Slontan cataclysm and went into paranoia mode.


Seshnegi-style Hrestolism never was tainted with that Demiurge doubt that Fronelan Hrestolism seems to have built up from the beginnings of Hrestol's Kingdom in Loskalm, or at least that one disciple Tomastus built up. Taking that apart requires a look into the history, and attempts to extrapolate the shape of Malkionism from the known history of Seshnela and the less-well known history of Fronela. See below.

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Dawm Age Hrestolism

The first and half of the second century of Seshnegi Hrestolism was identical to the Serpent King dynasty. Most of the Men-of-All (apparently rising from all the castes) were pagan practitioners of worship to Seshna, Aerlit and other such deities in the region. The kingdom of Frowal annexed or conquered several Pendali "kingdoms" of fortresses with some urban character and acculturated the population of those kingdoms, of no (recent) Brithini descent. Some former Pendali warriors and definitely their descendants became men-of-all, too, but most of the man-of-all candidates appear to have been of Brithini ancestry throughout the Dawn Age, with "Brithini" active in their courts and cities and leaving descendants.

The rather small Brithini-descended populations of Froalar's and Neleos's colonies accepted the kinfolk of Hrestol's wife from the "duchy" of Horalwal on Brithos, a coastal portion of that island that seems to have held a third of the population under the Talar of Brithos with their own very influential talar Antalos, a direct descendant of Malkion (like Neleos) and of Menena but not of Talar, the son of Malkion who was the first ruler of Danmalastan/Brithos and the archetype of the Talar caste. It is unlikely that a third of the population of Brithos left on Waertagi ships as the result of the civil war started by Faralz on his quest for the hand of Antalos' middle daughter. Antalos' youngest daughter became the wife of Ylream, Hrestol's serpent-legged half-brother, and mother of his daughters (but not of his serpent-legged successor, a son of his twin sister and high priestess of Seshna). Antalos did have very loyal supporters, and the influx of Brithini-descended people to Froalar's and Ylream's kingdom would have been significant, probably a third of the population already in place, whjile leaving about 70% of the previous population - mainly of farmers and lower caste urbans - on Brithos, under the new ruling talar.

The Brithini active in Seshnegi history in the second and third century may have been from Arolanit or insular Brithos. The ones we hear about are clearly of the talar caste, possibly in the kingdom of Seshnela as merchants or diplomats, or as recent exiles, as they mingle and mate with Seshnegi nobility. One dowager queen and her child by one of those talars seems to have been taken back into Zzaburite territory, only to return for another succession struggle.

These Brithini seem to have cooperated with the non-pagan or anti-pagan Seshnegi who would have been a party or movement evén during the Serpent King dynasty, accepting of the sovereignty rites that also brought peace with the Pendali barbarians (and possibly their non-lion-descended farming population) but refraining from personal interaction with those pagan deities. They would have been in oppostion to those purely pagan or man-of-all pagan people uniting behind the sons of Damol, the demigod son of Aerlit and the daughter of Fenela Froalarsdaughter and Yadmov son of Neleos. (Weirdly this pagan great-grandson of Froalar was an ally of Aignor the Trader, the other pagan grandson of Froalar via Hrestol's Vadeli Judge son and presumably a Vadeli mother, who sired the second line of Serpent Kings upon Seshna before his murder.) Their stronghold Damolsten remained renowned for a martial spirit, and became the home for an early God Learner order.

The anti-pagan party grew strong at the end of the second century and started the Silver Empire, a Hrestoli entity that expanded into the Tanier Valley, annecting Fornoari Enerali, Pendali refugees, and possibly other Ralians with different beast origin and/or Kachasti ancestry, encroaching on the domain of Hrelar Amali with its own paganism before it was strengthened by contact with Lightbringer missionaries and magics. This was the first "pure" Malkioni kingdom in Seshnela, two centuries after Hrestol had established one in Loskalm. The SIlver Empire spread some measzre of Hrestolism into Safelster, though it isn't clear whether by conversion or by establishing Hrestoli rulers in conquered territories marrying into native Fornoari nobility. Something like this is a possible ancestry of Gerlant (the alternative for Gerlant's lineage claims in the Abiding Book being a lineage from Malkion's Expulsion March hiding among at least partially Kachasti-descended beast barbarians).

The SIlver Empire faltered when the Hrelar Amali Enerali (and possibly the Tanier valley Pendali) were strengthened by (Second Council) Lightbringer ways and regained control of the Tanier Valley, making incursions into Old Seshnela. This may have preceded acceptance of the Beast Totem warrior societies, which seem to be a Ralian inheritance to the Seshnegi Malkioni only. (Or at least I have a hard time imagining the Fronelan coastal Malkioni tolerating a bull totem warrior society at the time of Talor.) The Hrestoli creed of the Silver Empire with its  Brithini-friendly orientation seems to have survived into the fourth century and into contact with the Bright Empire.

Fourth-century Seshnegi-style Hrestolism was behind Arkat and the God Learners, but developed in rather different and distinct ways.

Fronelan style Hrestolism inherits from the kingdom established by Hrestol after his experience as Vadeli judge (an office inherited by his son by his dissident Brithini wife). If anything, the mystical Man-of-All aspect seems to be stronger in that first century Loskalm than in Seshnela, where the practice had been continued by and under the Serpent Kings. Talor resulted from a tradition that had little in common with the Silver Empire experiences of second and third century Seshnela.

The ongoing struggles of the Gbaji Wars strengthened the Malkioni wizards, who were the first to declare Arkat anathema. The Seshnegi nobility (usually men-of-all) kept supporting the war effort but the majority did not join Arkat on his religious experimentation. Men-of-all from the warrior caste might have been more open to Arkat's acceptance of Lightbringer ways. 

There is little evidence for zzabur-caste born men-of-all. The wizardly henosis required for sorcery may have made the (token) mastery of the other three caste trades less attractive, and possibly there was some political distance between the wizards and the men-of-all. That said, some of the nobility became men-of-all and supported the wizards, and wizard-sponsored men-of-all from the soldier caste may have been a thing, too (thinking of something along the line of Richelieu's musketeers vs. the kings musketeers).

Gerlant is the mystery man-of-all who leads a cavalry force into a decisive battle against the Bright Empire party in Seshnela. His forces come from barbarian lands but are foes of the Bright Empire. Gerlant remains active in the Gbaji wars, as do his sons, all but one (Nralar) of whom die during the war. Gerlant and the last survivor of the plagued dynasty of Gbaji Wars Seshnela remain on Arkat's side, apparently all the way jnto Dorastor.


I know a lot less about Talor. He is a man-of-all from the ruins of Hrestol's coastal kingdom of Fronela, who spent his career fighting the forces of the Bright Empire and demons from behind the Gate of Banir. He has a special hate of the Telmori shock troops of the Bright Empire. He dies and goes to Hell, where he is picked up by Harmast on his second attempt to bring Light into the world.

Talor's defining feature is his ongoing experience of Joy - "the Laughing Warrior". Whether that epithet implies a birth to the Horali caste is unclear, but it would be another thing he would have in common with Arkat (alongside the Hell escape as rescuee of Harmast).

There doesn't seem to be evidence for pagan practices in Talor's homeland, but the source material I have access to is sparse. All I know is that Harmast and Talor emerge in Ralios, travel across the Nidan mountains to the (bull) Orlanthi of southwestern Fronela and join forces with the coastal Malkioni against the forces of the Bright Empire (who probably put their main effort against Arkat's troll and Hendrik's Heortling invasions from the east). Talor and Harmast strike against the heartlands of the Telmori (already once ravaged by Arkat prior to his Hell experience) and seem to enter Dorastor from Ralios via Kartolin Pass. Talor gets to meet Arkat (no longer in troll shape) and Gerlant and strikes off a friendship with Gerlant before he returns to coastal Fronela. Harmast apparently survives meeting Arkat again and returns home to Kerofinela/Kethaela.

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Hrestolism and Irensavalism are not the same thing.

All Malkioni in one way or another were influenced by Hrestol and the spread of his beliefs through the influence of the Middle Sea Empire, every modern sect has been significantly shaped by those ideas. Even Rokarism in Seshnela, the anti-Hrestoli theological reactionary movement that opposes his teachings the root of the God Learners’ hubris, requires first acknowledging Hrestol’s ideas.

Irensavalism, the gnostic strain of Hrestolism practiced in Loskalm, is very much not the norm for Hrestoli, and their unusually ascetic pursuit of henosis is something Jeff has remarked as only being possible as a consequence of the Ban.

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20 minutes ago, hipsterinspace said:

Hrestolism and Irensavalism are not the same thing.

I really don't like the term Irensavelist and put it in a drawer of hideous categories to be quietly forgotten along with Makanist, Makaneranism etc.  It doesn't have that snappy feel as a label and every time, I see it used I wince as I feel a tiny portion of my soul just being sucked out of existence with a tiny straw.  Even the Guide uses the kinder, gentler New Idealism.

I do believe that the Hidden Mover is not an invention of the New Idealists but has been reached by the Hrestoli throughout history, starting with Hrestol himself.  Hrestol and his followers saw it as Malkion.  In the wake of the Abiding Book, the Hrestoli saw it as Makan.  As a result of modern Loskalmi research, the Hrestoli of Fronela see it as the Hidden Mover.   But the God behind the name is the same.

20 minutes ago, hipsterinspace said:

All Malkioni in one way or another were influenced by Hrestol and the spread of his beliefs through the influence of the Middle Sea Empire, every modern sect has been significantly shaped by those ideas. Even Rokarism in Seshnela, the anti-Hrestoli theological reactionary movement that opposes his teachings the root of the God Learners’ hubris, requires first acknowledging Hrestol’s ideas.

I disagree that to be a Rokari requires the acknowledgement (and refutation) of Hrestoli ideas.  Their philosophy is that of the Wizards, a proud philosophical tradition that proceeds from Zzabur.  They distinguish themselves from the Brithini in that they have not rejected Malkion.  Hrestol to them is some hack philosopher who did many bizarre things in his time before finally being executed for his more abominable crimes.

Hrestol's ideas do have an big influence in Seshnela because he blunts the more severe demands that the Rokari philosophy places upon the lower orders of Seshnelan Society.  But that's not due to any design or acknowledgement of Hrestol by the Wizards.

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Second Age Hrestolism


Talor's kingdom seems to embrace some form of dualism demonizing the demiurge. I don't know whether Talor himself had a dualist creed or whether the teachings of Tomastus slowly gain popularity under some spiritual successors.(The Third Age Rokari philosophy seems to have preceded its triumph under the alliance between Mardron and Bailifes by a few centuries in relative obscurity, too.) The Hill Barbarian kingdoms start out as allies against the remains of the Bright Empire who seem to have been allied with Hsunchen tribes, and the antagonism, against the Hykimi is a recurring theme in Genertelan Malkionism, possibly more so in Fronela than in Seshnela and Ralios.

By the time the Adalla dynasty (that seems to have rejected the dualistic ways) receives Jrusteli support against the dualist faction that included Syranthir and some of the barbarians, the Hrestoli impetus has shifted from Seshnela to Jrustela.

It takes Halwal's disappointment with (or non-appointment as had of) the orthodox God Learner Makanist sect for the irensavalist revival in Fronela, while the exiled Carmanian branch leaves the God Learner sphere of influence completely and opens its own prong in the struggle against the EWF. Halwal did profit from the Closing, but it is hard to say whether he was informed of that. (He would have been one of the Jrusteli sorcerers cooperating with the Zzaburi of Brithos to tuirn the Fireberg Umaliath away from Malkioni lands, so there may have been opportunity to learn of this.)

Halwal's liberation of Fronela from the Seshnegi empire (the Closing has already separated Seshnela from the overseas territories) fails to affect Yomili's Seshnela, which means that Halwal leaves for Ralios to try a repeat of his Fronelan alliance.

Fronela escapes the cataclysms of 1049-1053, but was the first place to be hit by the Closing.



Rather than Gerlant's and Nralar's peninsular kingdom west of the Tanier Valley, the Autarchy of Arkat and his Stygian successors was the most influential land with Malkioni background at the start of the Second Age.

"Autarchy" translates as self-rule, leaving the administration to the local archons rather than having a centralized authority. A federal state, one might say.

To the Arkati, the man-of-all interaction with the Otherworld is both the basic model to go on quests and an irresponsible and potentially disrespectful interaction with the Otherworld. Hrestol himself on his quest to slay Ifttala, the ancestress of the Pendali and daughter of Seshna Likita, encountered a number of Otherworld entities and had respectful and courteous exchanges. (Up to almost ending up in a tryst with a forest princess, like Damol's and Ylream's grandson's double marriage with Forest King daughters two generations later.) The Arkati become the Guardians of the Otherworld, establishing stationary quests as antagonistic testers of the Heroquesters. "Quis custodiet ipsos custodies?" - the Arkati.

With their focus on heroquesting, their enthusiasm for philosophical debate seems to be a lot less than among their Seshnegi neighbors.

After the demise of Gerlant and possibly the apotheosis of Arkat, Gerlant's brat Nralar has the audacity to demand tribute from the Archons of Stygia for his ascension, and doesn't get any.


His declaration of war reminds me of Trump's reaction to Obama grilling him at the White House correspondents' dinner, with similarly catastrophic breakdowns of his country's unity and stability.

(Spoilered because of political snark, open at your own discretion.)

Nralar destabilizes the Tanier valley in a grab for pan-Malkioni unity (again not unlike a current grab for a neighboring country, although in the opposite cardinal direction). This unity against an external foe stabilizes his interior, but his way-too-long reign leads to his older sons and their followers leaving the country for newly established Jrustela, draining the country of some of their best minds.

Gerlant and Nralar positioned their Hrestolism as staunchly non-pagan, a bit of a repeat of the Silver Empire stance three centuries earlier.

One possible point of internal dissent might be the beast totem Horali brotherhoods, if these already exist. Bertalor's main reason for his attempt at a Malkioni "Ecclesiastical" Council may have been the Jrusteli debates, but the weakness of his kingdom's military might have stemmed from an overzealous policy against these pagan magics. Then again, there is a good chance that it took the Fornoari and mercenary occupation of Seshnela prior to the Return to Rightness Crusade to establish these beast totem societies, or an inheritance from the subsequent conquest of Tanisor and Safelster.

After two short and unsuccessful reigns of sons of Nralar in Seshnela, the country collapses against a strong Tanisoran kingdom (which may or may not have been part of or sponsored by the Autarchy), and Seshnegi history gets determined by Jrustela for a century or two.

Seshnela does become the seat of the Middle Sea Empire, which deserves its own segment.


Jrustela, Umathela, Slontos and other overseas areas

Jrustela experiences numerous independent pioneer cities, apparently formed by the disillusioned ruling elite of Seshnela despairing of their undying monarch. While the Jrusteli did include the Olodo settlers from Slontos who had arrived there (and in Umathela) before them after a while, there seems to have been a high proportion of Brithini-descended immigrants with strong ancient Malkioni lineages, or desperately constructed claims of such (like the ruling lineages descended from Gerlant).

One important section of the Abiding Book (one that may have been among the first excisions of Rokar in the next age) were the sacred lineages, the Ancestor Worship component of Hrestolism.


The Umathelan debates resulting in the Abiding Book are fairly detailed in Middle Sea Empire (alongside the annotated Second Age history of Seshnela, unlike the Dawn Age and Bailifides king lists on the Well of Daliath), expanding on a shorter presentation in Revealed Mythologies. What is difficult about these Stafford Library sources is the "church" terminology that has been declared obsolete in the current vision of Glorantha (already in the Guide). Cleaning up those first millennium Christianity parallels is a job I will leave mainly to Jeff, hopefully in the next three or four years.

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