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Jeff

Notes on the Many Suns and the Sun Gods of Prax

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1 hour ago, jajagappa said:

But we also never assume or argue that Orlanth / Storm Bull / Vadrus / Umath are the same, though why wouldn't we if we go down the God Learner's path?

Depending on the context, I do.

If I’m thinking about the core entities behind the gods, then Orlanth, Umath, Urox are the same. One might think of that entity as the Rune, though I suspect the Rune is another mask. 

If I’m thinking about the gods from the point of view of their worshippers then those gods are clearly separate entities (accepting that Umath has no (very few) worshippers).

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1 hour ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

I guess what I'm getting down to is.... I'unno. Different interpretive models produce different answers.

Yes, they do.

I'm in the anti-God Learner camp.  While gods can be equated, and even be views of the same thing, their roles (even based on the evolution/devolution) indicate they are and can be distinct entities.  I like the messiness of myths and mythology.  I don't like reductionist mythology.  And Elmal will live and retain his unique spark in my games.

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1 hour ago, Charles said:

If I’m thinking about the core entities behind the gods, then Orlanth, Umath, Urox are the same. One might think of that entity as the Rune, though I suspect the Rune is another mask. 

If you reduce it far enough you just have the Runes.  There is no Storm God but Orlanth, no Earth Goddess but Ernalda, etc.  But at that point you've lost the realm of myth that makes Glorantha a unique place to play and explore.

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2 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Yes, they do.

I'm in the anti-God Learner camp.  While gods can be equated, and even be views of the same thing, their roles (even based on the evolution/devolution) indicate they are and can be distinct entities.  I like the messiness of myths and mythology.  I don't like reductionist mythology.  And Elmal will live and retain his unique spark in my games.

I’m both a God-Learner and an anti-God-Learner. Does that make me Illuminated?

2 hours ago, jajagappa said:

If you reduce it far enough you just have the Runes.  There is no Storm God but Orlanth, no Earth Goddess but Ernalda, etc.  But at that point you've lost the realm of myth that makes Glorantha a unique place to play and explore.

I believe that it is part of the beauty of Glorantha that both extremes work and there can be a synthesis that also works.

And I still don’t get why we have these outbreaks of ‘this breaks Glorantha for me/you are wrong/this is hateful’ every few years, particularly over Yelm/Elmal/Yelmalio.

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3 hours ago, jajagappa said:

If you reduce it far enough you just have the Runes.  There is no Storm God but Orlanth, no Earth Goddess but Ernalda, etc.  But at that point you've lost the realm of myth that makes Glorantha a unique place to play and explore.

If you adjust the runic balance just right - a few more of this disorder, a little more change, not too much death, and just enough beast...

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5 hours ago, Joerg said:

If you adjust the runic balance just right - a few more of this disorder, a little more change, not too much death, and just enough beast...

The perfect World Machine!  And much rejoicing among the Mostali. 😉

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6 hours ago, Charles said:

And I still don’t get why we have these outbreaks of ‘this breaks Glorantha for me/you are wrong/this is hateful’ every few years, particularly over Yelm/Elmal/Yelmalio.

Personally, I liked the revelation of Elmal way back.  It was very liberating from a GM perspective to know that you could have similar gods which were similar, but not the same.  It opened up new views on Glorantha, and ways to shape local culture that would be familiar and yet different.  That can be carried to an extreme in one direction with the many fragmented gods of the HW era.  It can be as well in the other direction with God Learner reductionism.

 

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Personally, as a part of a newer generation of Glorantha-enthusiasts, I'm primarily worried about obfuscation frustrating and driving away potential fans. I understand to some people here that is possibly kinda of a point, but I just think there should be a way to gradually introduce people to more and more contradictions and mysteries - as opposed to straight up printing a seemingly non-subjective statement in a book, then saying something completely different in a different book, pseudo-in-universe-unreliable-narrators notwithstanding.

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4 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

I'm primarily worried about obfuscation frustrating and driving away potential fans.

And I think that is a significant reason for the confluence here.  For RQG to have a broad inclusiveness it needs to steer away from the esoterica of the mysteries (yet retaining enough to be interesting).

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1 hour ago, jajagappa said:

And I think that is a significant reason for the confluence here.  For RQG to have a broad inclusiveness it needs to steer away from the esoterica of the mysteries (yet retaining enough to be interesting).

Now I know that Glorantha isn't a cult, but: The esoterica can be retained, as many cults have degrees of initiation, so what you tell the newcomers isn't what you learn at subsequent levels.

Yesterday, I was attempting one of the periodic 'digs' into my collection, and uncovered issues 1 and 2 of a long dead magazine called The Gryphon. Issue one had a review of Cults of Prax by Professor M.A.R. Baker, with a response by Greg Stafford (the latter is reprinted in the Gloranthan Classics Cults of Glorantha, but not the former - due to copyright?) Both cast an interesting light upon the development of religions in RuneQuest. Issue 2 had a long essay by the professor about creating fantasy religions which was also of interest.

Edited by M Helsdon
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15 hours ago, Charles said:

I’m both a God-Learner and an anti-God-Learner. Does that make me Illuminated?

Is that a Koan?

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1 hour ago, Atgxtg said:

Is that a Koan?

He learns the gods' ways

And moons Godlearnerism

Shine on Glorantha

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Having written lengthy descriptions of over 50 cults, this really boils down to me making a judgment call. Is it better to treat Elmal, Yelmalio, and Kargzant as:

1. Independent cults like Orlanth and Storm Bull. Sure they are both associated Air deities but everyone knows that Orlanth is not Storm Bull and vice versa. 

2. Separate write-ups like Ernalda and Dendara. One core cult writeup, with another short writeup saying that the God Learners (and others) believe that the cults are the same, and even managed to transpose worshipers with no ill effects, but they never succeeded to get either deity to admit identity with the other.

3. Treat them all as variations of each other. Y(Elmali)io and Kargzant are just different masks for the same solar deity, and generally recognised as such by their worshipers. They might have some different spells (and only Yelmalio has gifts and geases) but they are working off the same template.

Option 1 is clearly wrong, and I think option 2 is misleading.Option 3 fits the situation the best. 

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2 hours ago, Jeff said:

Having written lengthy descriptions of over 50 cults, this really boils down to me making a judgment call. Is it better to treat Elmal, Yelmalio, and Kargzant as:

1. Independent cults like Orlanth and Storm Bull. Sure they are both associated Air deities but everyone knows that Orlanth is not Storm Bull and vice versa. 

2. Separate write-ups like Ernalda and Dendara. One core cult writeup, with another short writeup saying that the God Learners (and others) believe that the cults are the same, and even managed to transpose worshipers with no ill effects, but they never succeeded to get either deity to admit identity with the other.

3. Treat them all as variations of each other. Y(Elmali)io and Kargzant are just different masks for the same solar deity, and generally recognised as such by their worshipers. They might have some different spells (and only Yelmalio has gifts and geases) but they are working off the same template.

Option 1 is clearly wrong, and I think option 2 is misleading.Option 3 fits the situation the best. 

I've no firm opinion on the main point. Apart from I think I had just got used to Elmal then he is back as Yelmalio. 

People don't like unexpected change. They really don't like having 10 - 20 years to get used to unexpected change and then have everything change back again. Any movement like that whatever the merit of the argument will create resistance.

My observation from spending most of my adult life with religious people is that we are a little bit nuts and have the capacity not to see the obvious, loose greater truths in arguing about very minor points, and are so committed to our beliefs that the slightest deviations can be seen as a very major issue.

The chances of these different groups of seeing their cults, Gods and practices as one and the same if they really are may possibly be quite limited.

Anyway I may be being an idiot here, but I thought Kargzant was analogous with Yelm. Did I get this wrong or is yelm analogous with Yelmalio too? 

Edited by Jon Hunter

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19 minutes ago, Jon Hunter said:

I've no firm opinion on the main point. Apart from I think I had just got used to Elmal then he is back as Yelmalio. 

People don't like unexpected change. They really don't like having 10 - 20 years to get used to unexpected change and then have everything change back again. Any movement like that whatever the merit of the argument will create resistance.

My observation from spending most of my adult life with religious people is that we are a little bit nuts and have the capacity not to see the obvious, loose greater truths in arguing about very minor points, and are so committed to our beliefs that the slightest deviations can be seen as a very major issue.

The chances of these different groups of seeing their cults, Gods and practices as one and the same if they really are may possibly be quite limited.

Anyway I may be being an idiot here, but I thought Kargzant was analogous with Yelm. Did I get this wrong or is yelm analogous with Yelmalio too? 

Yu-Kargzant is Yelm, Kargzant is Yelmalio. Kargzant appeared before the Dawn, Yelm appeared with the Dawn.

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3 hours ago, Jeff said:

3. Treat them all as variations of each other. Y(Elmali)io and Kargzant are just different masks for the same solar deity, and generally recognised as such by their worshipers. They might have some different spells (and only Yelmalio has gifts and geases) but they are working off the same template.

3. is best for a gaming resource, but it might be worth a (brief) annex giving an overview of the cultural differences between the three? Not just spells, but nature, as perceived by their worshippers?

Ever since I learned that all three were associated with Lightfore, it has struck me that (with clear differences) Mit/h/ra/s in Vedic/Persian/Roman religions is the closest terrestrial analogy to Y/Elmal/io. Mithras was also a soldier god, in his Roman manifestation, after being merged with Helios...

Edited by M Helsdon
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8 minutes ago, Jeff said:

Yu-Kargzant is Yelm, Kargzant is Yelmalio. Kargzant appeared before the Dawn, Yelm appeared with the Dawn.

Does the fact that Pentans identify the sun disk with Kargzant (GtG: 646) as a rival to Yelm, indicate this is the Pentans worshipping Yelmalio/Kargzant as the Sun Disk, or is this mention of Kagazant referring to Yu-Kargzant and the Pentans are distinguishing between Yu-Kargzant and Yelm and viewing them as rivals?

Edited by Tindalos
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5 hours ago, Jeff said:

Having written lengthy descriptions of over 50 cults, this really boils down to me making a judgment call. Is it better to treat Elmal, Yelmalio, and Kargzant as:

1. Independent cults like Orlanth and Storm Bull. Sure they are both associated Air deities but everyone knows that Orlanth is not Storm Bull and vice versa. 

2. Separate write-ups like Ernalda and Dendara. One core cult writeup, with another short writeup saying that the God Learners (and others) believe that the cults are the same, and even managed to transpose worshipers with no ill effects, but they never succeeded to get either deity to admit identity with the other.

3. Treat them all as variations of each other. Y(Elmali)io and Kargzant are just different masks for the same solar deity, and generally recognised as such by their worshipers. They might have some different spells (and only Yelmalio has gifts and geases) but they are working off the same template.

Option 1 is clearly wrong, and I think option 2 is misleading.Option 3 fits the situation the best. 

This exccludes the quite functional status quo we have in the HQ books. The Elmal write up and Yelmalio write up both extant, complete, and good. The question of their relationship is presented an in-setting mystery and dispute among their worshippers. Monrogh's revelation is one perspective. The Hyalorings' legacy is another. There is no need for the rules to take a side.

What is so wrong about that posture to make breaking trust in the Guide necessary? Morover, what is so wrong with that approach that it's worth breaking the trust people place in you when you write things like,,  "The core canonical texts for Moon Design Publications and its licensees are..." and "the Guide to Glorantha must be the foundational document for all future publications"?

 

 

Edited by JonL
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I'm on the side of 2. in Jeff's discussion.

There is a fourth possibility: Only devotees (RP/RLs) are potentially privy to the 'unity of the Little Sun' and the wider cultural distinctions are more important to the laity or even possibly the initiates. This might include such stuff as 'secret names'.

The main distinction between Glorantha and our world here is that in the former the priests can actually ask their god. Only a really vague answer or a really fouled up divination is likely to deceive in a profound way...

Fortunately, I'm not planning on running a game centred on the Far Point, where this sort of question changes from academic to somewhat important.

I have a question. What was the name (or names) used for the Little Sun at Goldedge and in Tarsh before the 1490s? This would logically be the same name used in Alda-chur, of course.

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14 minutes ago, JonL said:

This exccludes the quite functional status quo we have in the HQ books. The Elmal write up and Yelmalio write up both extant, complete, and good. The question of their relationship is presented an in-setting mystery and dispute among their worshippers. Monrogh's revelation is one perspective. The Hyalorings' legacy is another. There is no need for the rules to take a side.

What is so wrong about that posture to make breaking trust in the Guide necessary? Morover, what is so wrong with that approach that it's worth breaking the trust people place in you when you write things like,,  "The core canonical texts for Moon Design Publications and its licensees are..." and "the Guide to Glorantha must be the foundational document for all future publications"?

 

 

I wrote the Guide and regularly consult it on all of this. But on such matters the Guide is wafer thin. Here's all the references:

Pg 33: One of the seats in traditional Orlanthi tribal councils is the "Elmal" seat. STILL CANON.

Pg 37: Elmal the Sun God is a minor deity of the Orlanthi. STILL CANON.

Pg. 152: Elmal is listed as the Orlanthi sun god. STILL CANON.

Pg. 160: A picture is detailed as Elmal carrying the Sun. STILL CANON.

Pg. 188: Runegate has a temple to Elmal the Sun God (also in RQG: Gamemasters Pack). STILL CANON.

Pg. 236: A Second Age panel of the Lightbringers has Elmal as the Sun Stallion. STILL CANON.

Pg. 646:  This is the only problematic section in the whole guide: 

"The Sun is worshiped in some form by most peoples in Glorantha. Yelm, the Dara Happan Sun God, is the most widespread name given to this god, and is known in many lands outside of Peloria. Most Orlanthi say that the Sun is Elmal, a thane of Orlanth, while in Pent it is Kargzant, the Horse God who was a rival of Yelm when the Pentans ruled Dara Happa in the First Age. In Teshnos the Sun is called Somash, in Kralorela it is the celestial representation of Emperor Vashanti (who ruled during the Grey Age), and among the Doraddi it is called Varama, one of the sons of Balumbasta."

I admit that is not as carefully written as I wish. If I were to edit this paragraph I'd have it read:
"The Sun is worshiped in some form by most peoples in Glorantha. Yelm, the Dara Happan Sun God, is the most widespread name given to this god, and is known in many lands outside of Peloria. MANY Orlanthi say that the Sun is Elmal, a thane of Orlanth, while in Pent it is SOMETIMES Kargzant, the Horse God who was a rival of Yelm when the Pentans ruled Dara Happa in the First Age. In Teshnos the Sun is called Somash, in Kralorela it is the celestial representation of Emperor Vashanti (who ruled during the Grey Age), and among the Doraddi it is called Varama, one of the sons of Balumbasta."

To be honest, I am not troubled by the Elmal part in here (I should have said "many" not "most" but ok), but the Kargzant stuff is really misleading. Kargzant is Lightfore not the Sun. But ok, I am sure most Gloranthan scholars make mistakes about that as well.  STILL CANON, but SLOPPILY WRITTEN.

Pg. 720: A reference to Elmal's arrows at a First Age battle. STILL CANON.

In comparison to those 8 references to Elmal, there are 35 references to Yelmalio in the Guide.

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5 minutes ago, jeffjerwin said:

I'm on the side of 2. in Jeff's discussion.

There is a fourth possibility: Only devotees (RP/RLs) are potentially privy to the 'unity of the Little Sun' and the wider cultural distinctions are more important to the laity or even possibly the initiates. This might include such stuff as 'secret names'.

The main distinction between Glorantha and our world here is that in the former the priests can actually ask their god. Only a really vague answer or a really fouled up divination is likely to deceive in a profound way...

Fortunately, I'm not planning on running a game centred on the Far Point, where this sort of question changes from academic to somewhat important.

I have a question. What was the name (or names) used for the Little Sun at Goldedge and in Tarsh before the 1490s? This would logically be the same name used in Alda-chur, of course.

In the Far Point, the native god was called the Golden Spearman. In the essay in WF14, I called the Little Sun cult that serves Orlanth "Elmal" and the Little Sun cult that proclaims its own independence "Yelmalio". Of course, both names are anachronisms and are used more consistently by us scholars than by their cult. I am sure Yelmalio gets called "Elmal" at the Sun Dome Temple in Sartar, and the temple at Runegate calls their solar deity "Yelmalio".

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17 minutes ago, Jeff said:

I am sure Yelmalio gets called "Elmal" at the Sun Dome Temple in Sartar

This makes perfect sense, given their Monrogh-ist origin and perspective. 

18 minutes ago, Jeff said:

the temple at Runegate calls their solar deity "Yelmalio".

As described in the HQ Sartar books, that would be fighting-words in Runegate.

 

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BTW, in case it helps, here is a section on the Many Suns that appears in the Yelmalio cult writeup in Gods and Goddesses:
 

THE MANY SUNS

There are several solar cults who are often identified with Yelmalio. These are sometimes treated as independent deities, sometimes as different names for Yelmalio, and sometimes as subcults of Yelm or some other solar deity. These cults resemble Yelmalio’s cult in most respects (including spells) but rarely offer gifts and geases.

ANTIRIUS

This subcult of Yelm worshiped in the Lunar Heartlands shares a substantially similar mythology to Yelmalio, and Second Age scholars viewed Antirius as the Dara Happan version of Yelmalio. Antirius provides Sunbright.

ELMAL

Elmal is a variation of Yelmalio found in Kethaela and parts of Dragon Pass. The Elmal cult resembles Yelmalio’s cult in most respects (including spells) but does not have gifts and geases. Elmal is associated with Orlanth, Ernalda, and Hyalor cults. He receives the Shield spell from the Storm King instead of Yelm.

After Yelm was killed by Orlanth, Elmal settled his feud with Orlanth and swore to serve him. When Orlanth departed on his Lightbringers Quest, the Storm God named Elmal to rule the world while he was gone. Elmal defended the last flickering lights of the world against Chaos and was wounded, battered, and weakened many times. Yet Elmal never faltered, and he survived as a last light in the Darkness until Orlanth and the other gods returned with the Dawn.

Although Elmal was initially worshiped as the returned sun by the Dawn Council, in the later First Age his cult was largely subsumed into that of Yelm or Yelmalio. Only in Heortland did his cult survive intact. During the early Third Age, the Heortland was isolated from Peloria by the Inhuman Occupation of Dragon Pass and were part of the Shadowlands ruled by the Only Old One. When Dragon Pass was later resettled by Heortlanders, they came into contact with the solar cults of Peloria and the Elmal cult was thrown into turmoil.

During the reign of King Tarkalor, the Sartarite hero Monrogh the Founder revealed that Elmal was a mask of Yelmalio. Most Elmal cultists joined the new Sun Dome Temple that Monrogh founded in Dragon Pass, although some remained with their traditional tribal cults.

Elmal is perhaps best thought of as that part of Yelmalio that loyally aided Orlanth and defended his people during the Darkness. Yelmalio is that part of Elmal that was a rival of Orlanth. They are different names for the same entity. Yelmalio is now the more popular name, but Elmal is still invoked.

KARGZANT

Kargzant is a Lightfore cult worshiped by the Pentan nomads. His cult resembles Yelmalio’s cult in most magical respects but emphasizes Riding and replaces Pike skill with the Lance skill. Kargzant is even more closely associated with the Pentan Yelm cult (called Yu-Kargzant) and with the Hyalor cult, and has the Command Horse spell. He is also associated with Polaris who provides Arrow of Light. As with Elmal, Kargzant does not have gifts and geases.

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12 minutes ago, Jeff said:

BTW, in case it helps

Many thanks for this. It probably won't help, in my opinion.

The uproar about Elmal and Yelmalio being seen as the same deity is only matched by the uproar that happened when we found out that they were the same deity, twenty years ago.

Most people don't care, some people vocally care a lot.

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