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Lunar Initiations


Aurelius

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I was reading Six Seasons of Sartar by @Andrew Logan Montgomery . I really, really, really loved the work on rituals, initiations and heroquests. So as I'm getting to the second book to obtain more cult initiations, I was wondering... 

How would the initiations work in Lunar society and Lunar pantheon cults? 

I imagine a lot of cultural initiations are not Lunar at all, but traditional initiations to the annexed cultures. Girls' initiation in Tarsh might be very similar to the one used by the Harabori. Of course the Empire would spill a lot of blood trying to root out stuff like Sons of Umath and I Fought We Won from its provinces, replacing them with more acceptable stuff based on less dangerous local myths (Sons of Barntar, isn't that cool, all the plowhards assemble, let's see who's fastest with an ox and a plough!). Some myths might be violently changed (Why am I getting a kiss from Hon-Eel for all this farm work?) and others would be replaced with Lunar myths.

But what would those Lunar myths be?

Fighting in Castle Blue? Some of the adventures of Teelo Estara before she grabbed the moon and got to the sky -- but that stuff happened in Time? 

For some reason Seven Mothers' journey to hell and back again doesn't feel exactly right with me either.

Would Irrippi Ontor reproduce some Buserian stuff that Irrippi Ontor also reproduced and skewed while he walked on Glorantha? What about Yara Aranis, whose myth is, I think, very brief? 

Any ideas?

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IMG, most of the Lunar empire[1] doesn't practice 6SiS-style adulthood rites. Children are trained in an occupation, typically by their parents, sometimes via an apprenticeship system. That training is judged complete at anything between age 16 and perhaps 25.

Than, for a solider, they initiate into a regiment, for a noble when they are assigned holdings, and so on. This cult initiation can be anything from a magically potent exam to a shamanic awakening. Failure at this stage is rare; unpromising candidates do not complete their apprenticeship.

The real initiation quest comes when a Lunar citizen becomes illuminated and wishes to join the cult of the Red Godess, and so must repeat her 7 steps (as per the Lunar Way).

The official Imperial rule is that all candidates must be Rune levels in their cult, and so have proven their capability, loyalty and steadfastness over a period of many years. But, despite the crackdown on the White Moon movement, all kinds of unapproved sects sometimes run the ritual in ways that break that rule, including for starter PC types. This is commonly done in groups of 7, from a variety of Lunar cults (i.e. a PC party and some NPCs to go mad to demonstrate the danger of the ritual). 

 

1. excepting those provinces, like Imther, which are still heavily Orlanthi.

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On 6/16/2024 at 9:51 AM, Aurelius said:

I was reading Six Seasons of Sartar by @Andrew Logan Montgomery . I really, really, really loved the work on rituals, initiations and heroquests. So as I'm getting to the second book to obtain more cult initiations, I was wondering... 

How would the initiations work in Lunar society and Lunar pantheon cults? 

I imagine a lot of cultural initiations are not Lunar at all, but traditional initiations to the annexed cultures. Girls' initiation in Tarsh might be very similar to the one used by the Harabori. Of course the Empire would spill a lot of blood trying to root out stuff like Sons of Umath and I Fought We Won from its provinces, replacing them with more acceptable stuff based on less dangerous local myths (Sons of Barntar, isn't that cool, all the plowhards assemble, let's see who's fastest with an ox and a plough!). Some myths might be violently changed (Why am I getting a kiss from Hon-Eel for all this farm work?) and others would be replaced with Lunar myths.

But what would those Lunar myths be?

Fighting in Castle Blue? Some of the adventures of Teelo Estara before she grabbed the moon and got to the sky -- but that stuff happened in Time? 

For some reason Seven Mothers' journey to hell and back again doesn't feel exactly right with me either.

Would Irrippi Ontor reproduce some Buserian stuff that Irrippi Ontor also reproduced and skewed while he walked on Glorantha? What about Yara Aranis, whose myth is, I think, very brief? 

Any ideas?

The Red Goddess initiation begins with the examination for Illumination, of course.  But that's not for teenage adventurers.

I would think the most important ones to develop for campaign use would be generic Seven Mothers. and then Yanafal Tarnils as a likely adventuring cult (assuming the Lunar Army is a handy way to start a campaign, and the army tries to get everyone to emulate YT.)

Seven Mothers: The Lunar Way p.30 just describes 3 weeks at the temple and questioning about attitudes, expectations and intentions.  

But we still want a magical/ mystical experience, don't we?  Perhaps it would be a participatory vision that justifies getting all common rune spells, which are first on the seasonal list on page 31.  The new initiates aid the Red Goddess with their magic as she performs some of the basic divine miracles.  Either that or they see themselves aiding the Seven Mothers with their magic as the Red Goddess is incarnated in Teelo Norri's body, sort of A Frankenstein's Laboratory scene.

We avoid the question of time travel for a cult founded in Time, vs. crossing over to the Godtime for a cult baded on pre Time.  Isn't an initiation about crossing over to the hero plane, the plane of legend?  That needn't imply time travel. because the Lunar founding is 400 years in the past, safely in the domain of legend.  As with other heroquesting, by definition it is not time travel.

Now Yanafal Tarnils will be simpler:  The candidate is already a combat veteran of the Lunar Army   He has already been sworn unto his regiment, and presumably sacrificed to their wyter, and taken Loyalty to the Red Emperor.    Now at initiation he gets a heroquest in which (1) the initiate gets an understanding of Death (Yanafal as a Humakti) and then (2) Rebels against and fights Humakt - or a ceremonial stand in for Humakt.

Note that implicitly he doesn't get the severing of ties a Humakti does.  After all he must come in and go out with ties to his regiment.

 

Edited by Squaredeal Sten
ties, spellig
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9 hours ago, radmonger said:

IMG, most of the Lunar empire[1] doesn't practice 6SiS-style adulthood rites. Children are trained in an occupation, typically by their parents, sometimes via an apprenticeship system. That training is judged complete at anything between age 16 and perhaps 25.

While Pelorian society is different from Orlanthi society, adulthood still includes a few rather decisive things, like the license to engage in sex, the license to learn and use magic, and to undertake binding oaths such as joining a cult or swearing fealty to an overlord. Even lay worship (which includes expenditure of magic points) is usually discouraged in children as uncontrolled magic point loss to zero may invite malign spirits.

Given Lodrili and/or Weeder notorious licentiousness, I doubt their typical adulthood initiation age is anywhere beyond 16 years old.

The Seven Mothers cult does reach out to children via its Teelo Norri subcult, offering some form of childcare and education preparing the children for life in a Lunar society (although not necessarily initiation into a Lunar cult). Stuff like fluency in New Pelorian in addition to whichever language the parents and home village use among themselves.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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The Lunar initiations should involve the Seven Steps and a Visit to the Moon.  

  1. THE DESCENT.  The prospects fly to the Moon.  But their trip goes wrong and they are
  2. EMPTY VICTORY  The prospects are totally lost and think they are in hell (actually they are on the Dark Side of the Moon).  Soon in their wanderings, they will meet a gruesome demon which cuts them to pieces
  3. MEETING WITH THE SPIDER WOMAN: While dismembered, they encounter the Spider Woman who devours their pieces and makes them whole.
  4. BINDING OF GBAJI.  Struggling to understand what just happened to them, the prospects meet two demons, one true and one false.  In defeating the demon, the prospect realizes they are on the Moon and not Hell..
  5. RIDING THE SKY BEAR.  Although the prospect now knows where they are, they must hunt down another demon to take them from their location to where they are meant to be (like say the City of Power).
  6. THE FULL VICTORY:  Remember the Demon that cut you up?  It's here.  Kick its ass.
  7. THE RETURN: Self explanatory
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4 hours ago, Joerg said:

While Pelorian society is different from Orlanthi society, adulthood still includes a few rather decisive things, like the license to engage in sex, the license to learn and use magic, and to undertake binding oaths such as joining a cult or swearing fealty to an overlord. Even lay worship (which includes expenditure of magic points) is usually discouraged in children as uncontrolled magic point loss to zero may invite malign spirits.

Given Lodrili and/or Weeder notorious licentiousness, I doubt their typical adulthood initiation age is anywhere beyond 16 years old.

None of that disagrees with anything I said, or at least meant.

What IMHO neither the Dara Happans nor Pelorians do is have single, near-universal Otherside experience prior to cult selection and initiation. Which is what gives Orlanthi society some degree of social mobility or meritocracy, at the cost of breaking a small percentage of young men.

The son of a Lodrili peasant may initiate young, but they do so to Lodril. Normally, there is no chance of them finding their way to Yelm's palace and being welcomed as a sun.

Buserian-tradition full-time students seem to be taken away from their clan or family to live and be educated in the temple. They quite likely are legally treated as children until initiation, even if that is in their twenties. Note that in both the LightBringers and the Lunar way books, Irripi Ontor/Lhankhor Mhy students must remain celibate until initiation.

 

 

 

Edited by radmonger
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13 hours ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

.

We avoid the question of time travel for a cult founded in Time, vs. crossing over to the Godtime for a cult baded on pre Time.  Isn't an initiation about crossing over to the hero plane, the plane of legend?  That needn't imply time travel. because the Lunar founding is 400 years in the past, safely in the domain of legend.  As with other heroquesting, by definition it is not time travel.

 

 

I think glorantha has a harder definition for myths and legends, that being stuff that hapened during the godtime,while the founding of the lunar empire is history. Some lunar myths are in the hero plane, but that's cause of heroquesting and not something that happened in the normal world(and the red goddess herself is absent from the hero plane).

remember that gloranthan myths aren't just stories, they define how the world works. The example that comes to mind(and I think is in oine of the books) is that fungi pray on plants because Mee Vorala won a fight against Flamal(or something like that), if you were to do some god learner magic and destroy that myth fungi wouldn't eat plants.

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17 minutes ago, radmonger said:

What IMHO neither the Dara Happans nor Pelorians do is have single, near-universal Otherside experience prior to cult selection and initiation.

While we agree that there is no way for non-descendants to initiate into the (imperial) Yelm cult, and while male adulthood initiation might be less streamlined than in Theyalan society with its I Fought We Won myth, there appears to be a stronger unity in the female adulthood experience.

The welcome into the patriarchy might be somewhat different, but in the end Aether placed his three sons into their positions in the world, re-arranging themselves and the world into a vertical hierarchy. Some sort of "know your place" experience.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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On 6/17/2024 at 12:51 AM, Aurelius said:

(Sons of Barntar, isn't that cool, all the plowhards assemble, let's see who's fastest with an ox and a plough!).

It's all fun and games until the Barntari treat the battlefield as a crop field and plough your troops under.

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7 hours ago, theconfusingeel said:

I think glorantha has a harder definition for myths and legends, that being stuff that hapened during the godtime,while the founding of the lunar empire is history. Some lunar myths are in the hero plane, but that's cause of heroquesting and not something that happened in the normal world(and the red goddess herself is absent from the hero plane....

This has interesting strategic implications if true: Then it should be impossible for Orlanthi heroquesters to do significant harm to the Red Goddess, so there can be no payback in kind  for the Windstop.  That implies a major Lunar advantage in the heroquesting conflict, if they can hit but not be hit back.  

 

Edited by Squaredeal Sten
implicatiions not obligatiosn. phone spelling scrambler!
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16 minutes ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

This has interesting strategic obligations if true: Then it should be impossible for Orlanthi heroquesters to do significant harm to the Red Goddess, so there can be no payback in kind  for the Windstop.  That implies a major Lunar advantage in the heroquesting conflict, if they can hit but not be hit back. 

They need to defend against proof that the Moon and its Goddess(es) were killed in the Greater Darkness. The physical reality of the moon in the sky is a great crutch for that, but in Godtime, there is no such thing - at best there are different pre-incarnations of the Goddess available.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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11 minutes ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

Then it should be impossible for Orlanthi heroquesters to do significant harm to the Red Goddess

Tearing down the Moon counts as significant harm...

As I understand it, when you visit the God Time, you are not actually time travelling, you are interacting with the memory of those events, as recalled by temple wyters and otherside spirits. 'Killing Orlanth' is destroying those wyters who remember him, deconsecrating the temples that held a unique portion of the mythic record.

When Harrek killed Rathor, the Rathori didn't wink out of existence, they just lost their spiritual and political unity. So they became a bunch of disconnected clans with radically different perspectives on what just happened, and what should be done about it.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

This has interesting strategic obligations if true: Then it should be impossible for Orlanthi heroquesters to do significant harm to the Red Goddess, so there can be no payback in kind  for the Windstop.  That implies a major Lunar advantage in the heroquesting conflict, if they can hit but not be hit back.  

In theory, they could go back and kick the butt of Verithurusa, Lesilla, Rashorana or whatever, but I don't think that's what the Orlanthi do -- in my Glorantha, heortlings don't have a good access, and don't bother too much with the Lunar esoterica. Easier to go wake up a dragon and hope it's hungry.

My theory would be that Lunars do have a heroquesting advantage in that they can invade your quests and screw you up, which is not a very Orlanthi thing to do. At the same time, they have a disadvantage as they have a lot less super-easily applicable material in the spirit of "Red Goddess Kicks Storm Butt" to wield against their enemies. They need to go esoteric and improvise, because the stuff everyone knows in the Empire is within Time and un-applicable. 

I guess if I had to run a game today, I'd have a Yanafali go fight Humakt using the same myth Yanafal Tarnils used to go fight Humakt. You don't incarnate Yanafal Tarnils, but whoever it was Yanafal Tarnils himself incarnated. This approach makes a lot of sense me, but is not as awesome as I'd like, though.

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11 minutes ago, Aurelius said:

In theory, they could go back and kick the butt of Verithurusa, Lesilla, Rashorana or whatever, but I don't think that's what the Orlanthi do -- in my Glorantha, heortlings don't have a good access, and don't bother too much with the Lunar esoterica. Easier to go wake up a dragon and hope it's hungry.

Going back into the God Time and beating up the parts that become the Red Goddess might not work since many of them have failure and pain and death baked into their Mythological Experience. You might just get identified/switch identity with the entities that damaged the various Moon Goddesses rather than doing it in your own special way to fulfil some political aim. At worst (for you) maybe the suffering you make them feel becomes something new they internalize and grow resistant against once those parts are integrated into the Red Goddess, triumphing over the suffering like the moon does everytime it turns from dead-moon phase. Kind of like a bacteria growing resistant to anti-biotics.

To paraphrase a tumblr post, the Red Goddess's position on this might be something like this:
"Can you feel your heart burning? Can you feel the struggle within? The fear within me is beyond anything your soul can make. You cannot kill me in a way that matters."

You could definitely strike them when they're weak, just like Sheng Seleris did to the Empire by egregiously abusing their moon phases where they are weaker... but the Empire bounced back like it always seems to do.

 

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4 hours ago, Joerg said:

They need to defend against proof that the Moon and its Goddess(es) were killed in the Greater Darkness. The physical reality of the moon in the sky is a great crutch for that, but in Godtime, there is no such thing - at best there are different pre-incarnations of the Goddess available.

But as i understand it, in the Great Darkness the Red Goddess's previous divine part(s) WERE killed.  That's what the Seven Mothers had to work with, and their project was to make a Frankenstein's Monster god.

Edited by Squaredeal Sten
typing
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On 6/18/2024 at 3:26 AM, Squaredeal Sten said:

This has interesting strategic implications if true: Then it should be impossible for Orlanthi heroquesters to do significant harm to the Red Goddess, so there can be no payback in kind  for the Windstop.  That implies a major Lunar advantage in the heroquesting conflict, if they can hit but not be hit back.  

 

In "Orlanth is Dead" which describes the Wind Stop, the book makes it clear the Lunars are busy twisting myths to suit themselves, like substituting in Lunar entities to twist the outcomes of quests. 

But in "King of Sartar" Argrath finds his way through the broken mythic landscape and achieves his goals anyway, along with doing his own twisting of myths, such as the double heroquest which resurrected Sheng Seleris. 

So the answer is it is possible to prevail against Lunar godlearnerism, but you need to be a very unusual Orlanthi to push back against that kind of tampering with the mythic landscape. 

Edited by EricW
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On 6/18/2024 at 2:35 AM, Aurelius said:

In theory, they could go back and kick the butt of Verithurusa, Lesilla, Rashorana or whatever, but I don't think that's what the Orlanthi do -- in my Glorantha, heortlings don't have a good access, and don't bother too much with the Lunar esoterica.

You go back and find out how Veritherusa, Lesilla, etc was defeated, find some secret knowledge about it. Then when you are back in the present you have a secret that you can mythically prove will work against the Goddess, you know a secret weakness.

But the Lunars are really good at this. 

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