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Are there any male nature spirits in Glorantha ?


Agentorange

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The nature spirits presented in the bestiary are all ( as far as I can see ) modelled on the idea of Greek nature spirits: Oreads,Dryads and so on. And so are all female.

Which begs the question are there any male ones  for RQ/glorantha ? I seem to remember that White Dwarf magazine had one back in the 80's called the Fossergrim ( associated with waterfalls I think ) and there are other examples in European mythology - the Slavic leshy springs to mind. I just wondered if any existed in Glorantha, even if they're pretty rare.

Edited by Agentorange
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I have always understood the "male nature spirit/demigod/etc" principle to have taken a huge hit when Genert fell.  They are exceedingly rare.

IMG they are relatively-common in Pamaltela, because Pamalt's existence still ultimately sustains this, provides the meme-channels for the beings' existence to flow through.
 

Edited by g33k
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11 minutes ago, g33k said:

I have always understood the "male nature spirit/demigod/etc" principle to have taken a huge hit when Genert fell.  They are exceedingly rare.

i know that we as players have the notion of a "nature spirit" but 100% Glorantha doesn't think that way. (I took an entire course on the evolution of the idea of "Nature" in Buddhism and in East Asia in college.) Here you are confusing Earth and "Nature". There are plenty of Plant and Water deities and spirits associated with male attributes (or both, as with Orlanthan Heler).

I'm not trying to nitpick, I think there's a real good reason to clarify how we are discussing this.

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The dearth of male earth spirits definitely feels like a result of Genert's death. I'd guess they're probably more common in Pamaltela, since Pamalt's doing fine. I think there's more male plant spirits than we think, we just usually see Dryads which are a special case. And there's definitely a lot of male animal spirits.

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2 hours ago, Agentorange said:

Which begs the question are there any male ones  for RQ/glorantha ?

Flamal, Father of Plants, is the most obvious.

The Jolly Fat Man I think would count as another.  

In my Imther setting, Dalmach, spirit of the vine, would be another (not quite a trickster, but definitely touches on drink and inebriation).

I tend to give spirits of stone a masculine cast (or in some cases neuter), and some of my tree spirits are definitely male (though they don't tend to materialize like dryads).  

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Elves and Beast Men are also "nature spirits" in the sense that they are in the same roles as other nature spirits from the real world- a nature spirit doesn't have to be ethereal. And they certainly tend more masculine in their description and definition. River gods tend to be described as masculine also, though really we should expect they're fluid of gender and presentation. But those are some immediate examples that aren't obscure, but are obscured by how the tendency is to assume nature spirits can't be touched.

(An obvious aspect of all of these things is that the gender balance of nature spirits in Glorantha and Glorantha's primary real-world inspirations is driven by the assumption that it's men who are coming into contact with them, and thus the interaction can play upon a variety of fears, anxieties, fantasies, and social obligations related to interactions between men and women. But of course, this is Glorantha and it would be more in the spirit of things to also have homoerotic encounters and encounters where adventuring women encounter passive male figures of nature

Or to put it another way, perhaps some of these oreads and water nymphs are actually just femboys?)

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

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13 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Perhaps should be "was the most obvious."? 🙂

If the one male nature spirit we can cite was killed in the God Time, that seems to answer OP's question.

Flamal was brought back to life by the Lightbringers Quest. 

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Now, I've just been back to read the bestiary and upon a second reading it does seem Oreads, Naiads and so on are as much spirits of place or Genius Loci as they are nature spirits. Which makes it all the more suprising we don't see male spirits.

I can run with the notion of there being few or no earth ones due to Generts death. But......that doesn't hold true for the other elements or concepts ( or whatever  ! ) After all there's plenty of powerful water Gods in Glorantha. Oreads as the spirits of high spaces and mountains could be said to owe as much to Air as Earth. In the bestiary they are desribed as " minor goddesses" so why no minor gods in the same way
 

As an aside given Chaosium have just released the Rivers of London rpg in those books Old Father Thames and his sons are very much a thing....

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3 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Perhaps should be "was the most obvious."? 🙂

If the one male nature spirit we can cite was killed in the God Time

Unlike Genert, who remains dead, Flamal was brought back to life - evidence of that is everywhere that plants live and grow.  He's a central figure of worship in Clearwine among other locations (e.g. the Feast of Beasts from SKoH) and among the elves.

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14 hours ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

i know that we as players have the notion of a "nature spirit" but 100% Glorantha doesn't think that way. (I took an entire course on the evolution of the idea of "Nature" in Buddhism and in East Asia in college.) Here you are confusing Earth and "Nature". There are plenty of Plant and Water deities and spirits associated with male attributes (or both, as with Orlanthan Heler).

I'm not trying to nitpick, I think there's a real good reason to clarify how we are discussing this.

This is a good point; I was definitely thinking of the "Fertility/Earth" element.

Arguably, most animal spirits are "Nature" spirits -- Fralar is "Father of Carnivores" & AFAIK most of his children are presented as male (which, y'know, looks a bit sexist these days).

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17 hours ago, Agentorange said:

The nature spirits presented in the bestiary are all ( as far as I can see ) modelled on the idea of Greek nature spirits: Oreads,Dryads and so on. And so are all female.

another option (than earth vs nature I support too) is to consider that what you consider as nature spirit are all nymph of nature.and if now you translate nymph as "female spirit" it changes the view

Are sylphs, gnomes, and so on nature spirit  ? in my opinion yes.

Are they male, in my opinion, yes. The demonstration is easy : a large part has  no INT 😛 so if they don't think with their brain, it means they think with lodril's spear

so there are female spirits : the nymphs

and there are male spirits :  the elementals

but maybe there are male nymphs, female elementals,

and why not other spirit catagories than "just" beautiful, smart and sexualized nymphs and ugly, often dumb, and raw elementals

 

 

 

 

 

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I continue to suggest "Nature" is the wrong way to understand Gloranthan deities. Many of the deities described herein are Plant ones, not "Nature".

"Nature" is an extremely European and even specifically Christian notion, and I really don't think Glorantha reflects a divide between Man and Nature in the way we are discussing it, even if the Authors of the Texts were aware of it (I think Greg was certainly aware of it given his personal beliefs).

As people have noted, Earth spirits in Genertela are almost all female, but that's precisely because Genert died. Forms like sylphs aren't "Nature", they're Plant, water, etc. Solar deities are largely masculine, including ones like Gustbran, but Mahome is Solar and feminine and associated with the human hearth and Barntar is Earth and associated with human farming.

So again: it's not a good idea to say "nature spirits" here when discussing the game. We can discuss metafictional issues like "inspired by Greek spirits" or whatever.

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19 hours ago, Agentorange said:

The nature spirits presented in the bestiary are all ( as far as I can see ) modelled on the idea of Greek nature spirits: Oreads,Dryads and so on. And so are all female.

Without getting into details, the Greeks did have male nature spirits, but they've been used for other purposes in RQ. The Genius Loci in the Bestiary aren't assigned genders, except for nymphs. In spirit encounters, I often let the player define the gender of a Genius Loci, or otherwise leave it genderless. For example when adventurers encountered the spirit of Apple Lane's land during the Apple Lane wyter ceremony, I asked how it manifested itself to their adventurers. Without prompting, they said it was the father of the apple tree spirit (making the wyter a sort of dryad). Shamanism allows for gender fluidity, so a spirit may appear as a different gender to different individuals (or genderless), although this can be defined by the shaman's experience, which informs their followers. If in doubt, just give the spirit the Shapechange ability if you need to. I'm sure their are nymphs out their with the ability.

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20 minutes ago, David Scott said:

Without getting into details, the Greeks did have male nature spirits

Interesting. Following the link behind the link:

Quote

The Kouretes were gods of the wild mountainside, inventors of the rustic arts of metalworking, shepherding, hunting and beekeeping.

So gods/spirits in the wild, but acting on the wild with their invented bits of culture, not representing nature innocent of culture (or acting in reaction to culture)?

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I would expect there to be many male nature spirits, especially in temperate areas where plants and trees are affected by winter, as examples of dying/reborn spirits, both in the wild and in agriculture. For agriculture, perhaps these are the sons of the Grain Goddesses; in the wild, sons of Flamal who follow the same life cycle as their father.

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36 minutes ago, David Scott said:

Without getting into details, the Greeks did have male nature spirits, but they've been used for other purposes in RQ. The Genius Loci in the Bestiary aren't assigned genders, except for nymphs. In spirit encounters, I often let the player define the gender of a Genius Loci, or otherwise leave it genderless. For example when adventurers encountered the spirit of Apple Lane's land during the Apple Lane wyter ceremony, I asked how it manifested itself to their adventurers. Without prompting, they said it was the father of the apple tree spirit (making the wyter a sort of dryad). Shamanism allows for gender fluidity, so a spirit may appear as a different gender to different individuals (or genderless), although this can be defined by the shaman's experience, which informs their followers. If in doubt, just give the spirit the Shapechange ability if you need to. I'm sure their are nymphs out their with the ability.

Thanks for that ! I followed the link back to the original site - full of Greek mythology which has now been added to my faves list 👍

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3 minutes ago, M Helsdon said:

For agriculture, perhaps these are the sons of the Grain Goddesses

     They took a plough and plough'd him down,
     Put clods upon his head,
     And they hae sworn a solemn oath
     John Barleycorn was dead.

Of course, both the Kouretes and (domesticated) grain gods make me want to ask: what is a nature spirit, anyway?

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1 hour ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

Forms like sylphs aren't "Nature", they're Plant, water, etc. Solar deities are largely masculine, including ones like Gustbran, but Mahome is Solar and feminine and associated with the human hearth and Barntar is Earth and associated with human farming.

So again: it's not a good idea to say "nature spirits" here when discussing the game. We can discuss metafictional issues like "inspired by Greek spirits" or whatever.

The most clear-cut nature spirits in Glorantha are nymphs of various kinds, and also landscape spirits. And while nymphs are female, there's no reason to think landscape spirits would all be, I think.

Edited by Akhôrahil
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2 minutes ago, Ormi Phengaria said:

Definitely. There is, however, a Goddess of Nature in the setting, and I should hope that colours how people think of it!

What this implies is that Arachne Solara's will determines the gender balance of "nature spirits". It all makes perfect sense when you put it like that...

 

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

"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

Eight Arms and the Mask

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IMG the key to the answer revolves around how the way magicians who work with these spirits are also working with gender and desire . . . intentionally or via unconscious heroquest channels. Most of the accounts we have are of relatively straight boys looking to access fertility and its higher runic octaves by cultivating relationships with "female" spirits. As noted already in thread, when "nature" impinges in the life of the female magician in this way the entity is often classified as beast folk.

For those looking for different kinds of magic, the gender of the spirit is largely contingent. You get who you get and on a very basic level they tend to keep their pants on. Most basic elemental contacts are of this type since they usually struggle to model any consistent personality traits whatsoever. But as you move deeper into their hierarchies you can access more complex (named) daimones who can express gender and so forth . . . or not, as it suits them.

The historical evolution of "female" cohorts within the Gloranthan magical traditions we know about may be an accident or (less attractive) something intrinsic to the world. As noted in thread, there are plenty of river gods but Water is obviously fluid and contextual as far as modern storm people are concerned. Most storm magicians (rune "lords") we know about will interact with local nature entities as symbolic marriage partners (and so the water becomes "female") or rivals (river "gods") . . . a tradition of rune "ladies" within the FHQ cult or wherever might or might not cultivate the same kinds of relationships.

In theory there may be traditions where a female magician heroforms one type of spirit and a male magician embodies another in their various rites so the subjectivity is reciprocal. On the other hand we moderns would read some architectures of desire as homosexual. A few of the known Pelorian ceremonial systems seem to mostly call dude spirits, for example, but it's up to you at this stage whether these shining beings of light are considered "natural" in your game, who calls them and for what purpose. The fetch is a complicated phenomenon. Sometimes it looks like you and sometimes it doesn't.

TLDR find out what the female centaurs are doing in your game and you should be pretty close. 

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Posted (edited)
30 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

IMG the key to the answer revolves around how the way magicians who work with these spirits are also working with gender and desire . . .

ENORMOUS SNIP.....

TLDR find out what the female centaurs are doing in your game and you should be pretty close. 

I think it's all much simpler than that. Greg Stafford loved his mythology and pretty clearly he loved a bit of Greek mythology...witness: Centaurs, Manticores , Satyrs and many other influences.

I think he just picked up the notion of  Nymphs from Greek mythology and dumped them in Glorantha wholesale  without really thinking about  the mythical underpinning of it all  😁

Edited by Agentorange
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2 hours ago, Ormi Phengaria said:

Definitely. There is, however, a Goddess of Nature in the setting, and I should hope that colours how people think of it!

her definition is lord of the universe, though. that title exists but it seems quite different in meaning from what people mean by "Nature". she maintains the entire world.

she's the distant god, much like Olorun in Orisha, responsible for the world but not directly worshipped.

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5 hours ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

I continue to suggest "Nature" is the wrong way to understand Gloranthan deities. Many of the deities described herein are Plant ones, not "Nature".

 

Ya know, I can not think of an analog to mother nature in Glorantha. That seems to be a European thing. Someone implied (ah here it is, Ormi Phengaria implied) the spider as mother nature but I have a hard time wrapping me head around that. So I got to go with Qizilbashwoman on this.

Edited by Bill the barbarian

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