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That's a very good picture and a very nice article. It seems like a smart approach. I like the fact that you are aligning the worship of Ernalda to historical precursors. It makes everything feel more...um...grounded... 

Edited by Prime Evil
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One point in the article I find strange :

"Grain goddesses represent local goddesses. So far, they representone type of crop. In my opinion, this makes no sense. It suggests, that mainly that crop is raised in a certain area – usually are more crops raised and it suggest a variety of crop which makes no sense. Grain goddesses are bound to an area with a bundle of crops, not bound to a certain type of crop. Therefore, they should and will represent a bundle of crops which are popular in the region they are bound to. "

Whilst total monoculture is a modern invention, a particular crop being dominant in a certain area or region is not.

The Beauce region in France has always been associated with large wheat fields, parts of England with barley, and let's not forget the historic wine regions !!

Farming (crop or livestock) has never been solely about simply satisfying local needs, except in places with poorer farmland, but it's always been about subsistence plus trade. And that trade is nearly always, in historic times as much as in the present, centred around one or two particular resources that their land is particularly well suited for.

I've actually attended some crop ritual festivals in southern Italy, and these vestiges of the old pagan cults are most definitely centred around a particular crop to the exclusion of all others.

That doesn't mean that the image of the crops bundle is absent from these sorts of traditions, particularly in the harvest rites when all of the bounty is gathered together (and one can see this sort of thing locally to this day throughout much of Europe), but then I'd also imagine that there might be shrines to the millet and turnip goddesses and so on in a temple of the barley goddess, instead of the barley goddess demanding some sort of exclusive worship and monoculture of barley and nothing else.

Edited by Julian Lord
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Yeah, I find the idea of crop deities being local less likely and functional. 

(obviously, local gods are a thing and there were historically local fertility deities. But I also quite like crop-specific deities, as such plant personification somehow feels more archaic maybe?

If I were to choose, as I agree there is a bit of a contradiction there, I'd go with crop-specific deities. Or, crop specific global deities with local variations = "Oh, yeah, Pela, totally. We call her Palu here.". Or is that too Godlearnery? :))

Basically, should a local area fertility goddess necessarily be a grain goddess? I can imagine her being seen more as a mother/leader/overseer of the smaller crop-specific grain goddesses, or even their local servant if we wanted to flip it and preserve the global crop deities as universally more important.

(edit: It's possible I'm just seeing it as less practical and less neat from a systemic point of view - to have thousands of small local goddesses who are nearly identical, but their <barley/wheat/millet/oat...> vector has slightly different permutation of values. Guess it depends on how much Glorantha needs to be like the real world, which is undeniably messy, and how much it wants to be a game setting. ;))

Edited by JanPospisil
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Having separate spirits for separate food plants may seem attractive, and having special rites, sacrifices and possibly sewing, field preparation or fertilizing methods for these might be the case. Thunder Rebels had both the goddess of the fertile land whose womb would sprout all those beneficial plants, and the minor goddesses of the plants themselves. 

The Goddess of the Land is an intermediate phenomenon. In a way, she is the genius loci, a greater oread or limoniad, or mother of these, the goddess you seek out for the Great Marriage to the land. She will have her favourite grain offering, which may be different from the culturally preferred crop.

The Goddess of the Land may also be completely unrelated to any harvest - see Kero Fin, or her aspect Sorana Tor.


Some regions have almost a monoculture, especially where perennial plants like wine or apple are cultivated. Usually this is done for cash crops that benefit from local conditions and that can be transported to the markets. (In case of grain that means water transport, other crops like wine are processed locally and the processed goods are sold.) Usually, soil exhaustion puts a limit to the intensity of your crop permanence, unless you have events like the Nile flooding which replenish the fertility. There are known cases where such intensive land use has led to emigration and near-total depopulation of that land, like in 4th century Anglia (Cimbric peninsula, not Britain).


I seem to remember that the mesolithic grain gatherers of the northern Fertile Crescent had about 40 types of edible seeds to pick.

A similar case of multiple grain (or pseudograin) cultivation or gathering was found in the stomach of the Tollund Man, an ancestor of the Jutes. His last meal was a porridge primarily of barley and flax/linseed (from cultivation), false flax and knotgrass (in all likelihood gathered from wild plants). Numerous other seeds were found in small amounts, too, possibly weed seeds mixed into the harvest or gathering.


We have numerous types of edible grains represented in the Perfect Sky, giving a fair impression of important crops in Dara Happa.

The Heortlings are known to grow more than just barley, too - and more than the grain "subcult" daughters of Esrola in Thunder Rebels suggest, too.

The EWF core lands grew Velt and Kreet, two grains dependent on the Dragon Dream, and Silver Age Heortlings survived among other things on Thingrass, a very fine-grained seed that had died out by the beginning of the Second Age but which was part of the customary Kitori tribute.


Given the ubiquity of linothorax as the medium armor type, we can assume that the Heortlings grow flax, too, and probably will use linseed or linseed oil in their food. (Not necessarily, since the production of linen requires stems from unripe plants.)

Telling how it is excessive verbis


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14 hours ago, MOB said:

Blood, sex and Rock'n Roll! - a write-up of Claudia Loroff's Goddesses of the Earth seminar at the Continuum Convention last weekend.


Thanks for this, I was too busy playing a game to attend any seminars at Continuum, so missed this.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 


Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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Whilst playing Six Ages, it occurred to me that if I'd had a huge temple to Nyala instead of a measly shrine, it might have come with a very handy 'bomb shelter' below the sub basement which would have been be of more than liturgical utility in certain exigences. An Earth temple would make a natural rally point after disasters, and depending on how migratory a clan is, probably a fall-back position in adversity.

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I was really glad to see this article. Early Gloranthan material tended to have a very male-centered approach, as much fantasy gaming did back in the day, and although Glorantha has slowly opened up to a wider range of female roles for PCs, especially since HQ came out, there's still a ways to go, I think. So it's nice to see an article that explores ways in which female cults are 'cool' and how they can be made more dynamic for game play. We still need more hero quests for goddesses though. 

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