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Air and Mammals


Sir_Godspeed

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It's no secret that the most prominent Storm Peoples out there are closely associated with pastoralism, and with ungulate herd mammals. They're obviously not the only ones associated with it, but there seems to be some kind of special connection there. We sometimes also see carnivores associated with Storm people (ie. Yinkin), but this association seem a lot less universal and a lot less characteristic. 

Secondly, it's also said that mammals appear to be a more recent addition to Glorantha, with the fauna prior to them, in the Green and Golden Age mostly being made up of reptilian and feathered animals, which are more or less associated with Earth and Sky, respectively (kinda, it's more complicated than that).

So, I guess what I'm wondering is: what role did Umath's separation of Earth and Sky play in the emergence of mammals. Where they contemporary? Was there a direct causal link? Why do mammals appear to be on the Gods Wall then? Do the Storm People and Mammals share ancestry? Is there a particular reason why Storm People tend to overwhelmingly tend toward herding rather than hunter-gatherer cultures, for example, even pre-Time? (or is this a false impression caused by potential Storm hunter-gatherers being overshadowed by their more famous "horde" relatives?)

Is there a more fundamental connection going on here? I know I've brought this up earlier, but that was a part of a larger, wider look into Storm People in general. What I'm looking into here is hopefully specific enough to be different. 

Urox is a bull. Orlanth is often a Ram. Ragnaglar possibly a Billy Goat. Vadrus may have been a horned animal that's no longer extant (perhaps an Ordeed or something even fiercer?). In each case, of course, the relevant deities are often not just the animal itself, but also the tamer of them, the keeper and herder of them. Such dual roles are common. And this is not bringing in the Animal Mothers. Once again the themes of Air-Earth combination is brought out.

Anyway, I'll stop before I keep rambling on too much.

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9 minutes ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Why do mammals appear to be on the Gods Wall then?

If anyone has completed the full Da Vinci Code analysis of the Wall's profundities this would be a good time for them to step forward. For me the Wall contains all the lapses and innovations of Time and so from a certain perspective reflects the moment of Umath as well as more conventional golden age that came before. This is the snapshot that shows us the hidden cracks that would later become the world. It's literally the primal scene from the Copper Plates told in a different language.

Now at that moment you have a lot of people and forms that aren't necessarily important yet, people who will go on to become templates for creatures like bears or goats or lions. Within the golden age, nobody knows that bulls will become their own tribe. They just know Urox is the shape he is. Some people on the Wall become patrons of tribes. Others have not done so or their people died out. (Side note: a surprising number of Wall entities survive and have reproduced in one vestige or another. This isn't really a map of the world before it broke, only the pieces that come down to us.)

Within the true Golden Age there may be a whole ecology of marvels that have since degenerated or gone extinct, flying horses and griffins, snakes of fire, predators and prey born when Earth and Sky were married. Before that, a whole ecology of marvels from Earth and Water, but they have their own empire and so the sea is still full.

Mythologically I suspect the difference between mammals and birds is that real flight is mostly barred to the fleshy children of Umath (or Aerlit) and may actually be the condition of our bastard birthright. We breathe. We aspire to the heights and make great running leaps. We innovate also. 

This may be why a certain faction within the empire hates ducks as an embarrassment and a profound disappointment. They're almost birds but don't even have the dignity of being born in a proper egg. 

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Yes, the majority of mammals are associated with air (or storm).

Horses are beasts of fire, except when specific types aren't (Shell Horse, River Horse, Mastakos' steeds, Ethilrist's steeds)

There may be other beasts that we count as mammals that get other elemental associations. E.g. whales.

Mammals were around in time for the Gods Wall, with the various beast mother finger goddesses arrayed there, and also with Buserian, the sacrificer of bulls, already established, but then according to GRoY the reign of Murharzarm started 10,000 solar year units after the birth of Umath (50k YS vs. 40k YS). (And Gata was pregnant with Umath for about 15k solar year units if Lodril descending into the Earth Cube was the moment of conception.)

The Malkioni devolution of beasts in Anaxial's Roster disagrees with that picture.

Pamaltelan beast appearance doesn't follow the Genertelan pattern - in Pamaltela, dinosaurs appear to be a rather recent addition to the fauna, whereas the Fiwan (Pamaltelan Hsunchen) species are there as witnesses to the Creation of the World, and they include numerous mammals.

Humans appear way before mammals are distinguished, which means that the concept of feeding milk to offspring vastly precedes the birth of Umath.

So, what's the deal with Storm and mammals? In the end, they all harken back to Gata and her daughters (or Triolina's daughter Tholaina in case of marine mammals) and Hykim and Mikyh, with occasional other fathers stepping in, like Storm Bull, his sons, or Heler establishing ungulant herds of more or less domesticated herd beasts.

Then, storm and carnivores? Trickier. Take large felines, for instance. Yinkin is brother to Storm, though he has no storm ancestry himself. Lions on the other hand have both solar and storm associations. Durbaddath in Dara Happa is a solar beast, possibly lesser kin of King Griffin. The Pendali Basmol appears to have become part of the Storm pantheon with Greymane's tribe.

Rathor is the Sky Bear, traditionally a storm entity. Wolves are associated with Humakt, and Telmor is the Death of the Sun in Hsunchen myths - a good correspondence. Dogs are anything but friends to (Kerofinelan) Orlanth, with a few weird exceptions (looking at the Greydogs of the Lismelder tribe...). Orlanth elsewhere (say Ralios, Fronela, Saird) might have friendlier relations with canines, although wolves are suspect because of their pact with Nysalor, and the Praxian Storm folk (aka Beast Riders) are friendly with dogs. Foxes appear to be part of the Trickster tribe of animals, along with ravens, raccoons, hares, hyenas, and probably others. Tigers, leopards and panthers are somewhat associated with Storm, but to varying extent. How much the Sakkar sabretooth cat is a storm entity I cannot say - in Dara Happa it appears to have some Death and Underworld associations, as do dogs.

 

Bats are beings of Darkness more than Air or Sky. I'd make a similar case for insectivores.

So what about rodents? Nah, no need to get silly... (We do have gopher and porcupine hsunchen, though. No peccari ones that I know of.)

On the other end of the size spectrum, rhinos and elephant-kin. The woolly variants are credited to Vadrudi progenitors/makers, the Pamaltelan ones to no specific element, and the Teshnan ones are fine in their fire--dominated myths. (And don't even start about Afrotheria and Laurasiatheria... there might be beasts like the tenrec or the elephant shrew, but they will be morphologically associated rather than in Real World cladistics. Are Gloranthan manatee and dugong related to elephants? I doubt it.)

There probably are aardvarks somewhere in Glorantha.  And (from the real world Xenarthra) ant eaters or armadillos. Sloths were discussed just last week.

Finally, primates... these are possibly better treated as Man Rune drop-outs (or alternative branches), beginning with the Morokanth's herd men, and in a different way the giant baboons of Prax and the Wastes. (Something similar is going on with runners in relation to elves.)

 

Non-placental mammals: I would bet that there are opossums in Glorantha, but I wouldn't take bets on native Australian fauna. Opossums are another case of "who cares" or "they're Trickster beasts".

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42 minutes ago, Joerg said:

So, what's the deal with Storm and mammals? In the end, they all harken back to Gata and her daughters (or Triolina's daughter Tholaina in case of marine mammals) and Hykim and Mikyh, with occasional other fathers stepping in, like Storm Bull, his sons, or Heler establishing ungulant herds of more or less domesticated herd beasts.

I can't help but think there is something incredibly interesting and perhaps mythically potent in here, since time and time again the Storm peoples pop up with some ungulate (usually horned) herd mammal or other. Is it all just Storm Bull's fruit that gets spread arund, or is there something more going on?

I guess I'm just poking at the tapestry to see if a good yarn can be spun from it.

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Apart from Humakt and the Triolini/Zabdamar ancestors and Veldru, all storm gods known to me have ungulant aspects. Sometimes directly sired, like Storm Bull's various Founder sons' tribes, sometimes adopted, as for Orlanth (rams) or Vadrus (goats) with neither of them having any myth to have mated with Mikyh or another such beast goddess.

This comes with pastoralism, which appears to be the big invention of the Storm peoples brought into the fabric of the world. While domesticated beasts preceded the ungulant herds, like e.g. gazzam earth shakers in Dara Happa or geese in Esrolia, herding as the main means to gain nourishment from the land was new (and different from the ungulant Hsunchen ways of hunting their totem beast herds).

There is one species of domesticated ungulants which doesn't seem to have storm gods associated, though, and that's the water buffalo, whether in Seshnela or in the East. (The Lofak Yak is a Hsunchen beast not quite domesticated.)

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4 hours ago, Joerg said:

There may be other beasts that we count as mammals that get other elemental associations. E.g. whales.

I think air-breathing sea creatures like whales and dolphins are specifically called out as the children of Water deities by Air deities, just as seafaring birds are claimed as the offspring of Water and Sky. Other animals like bats and the like are probably also considered to be in that kind of nebulous space where they inhabit one elemental "sphere" but have obvious traits of another and thus are regarded as the result of the two mingling.

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4 minutes ago, Brootse said:

Would rats be Stormy enough for allied spirits?

Certainly a possibility, but do you really think a society which has alynxes prowling everywhere is a good place for a rat familiar?

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49 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Certainly a possibility, but do you really think a society which has alynxes prowling everywhere is a good place for a rat familiar?

Good point. One of my players' duck was thinking about getting an allied spirit in a rat. My opinion was that it would be technically posible, but requires him to persuade the priest. I checked the RQG book, and Argan Argan was still the only one that usually had rats. One thing that was a bit strange to me, was that now Orlanth too had hawks. I had always thought that they were emblematic to Sun cults.

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I am intrigued, and a bit puzzled, by the Storm/Pastoral linkage.

Pastoralism is all about stability, settled-down-ness.  Storm is brawling independence & disruption of the status quo.

They are almost diametrically opposed.  Not quite, but almost...

It really, really looks to me like Storm's "ungulance" was created to be mated to Earth.

Which may well be, because Greg.  But it also may have been some in-world intention, too...?

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1 hour ago, g33k said:

I am intrigued, and a bit puzzled, by the Storm/Pastoral linkage.

Pastoralism is all about stability, settled-down-ness.  Storm is brawling independence & disruption of the status quo.

They are almost diametrically opposed.  Not quite, but almost...

It really, really looks to me like Storm's "ungulance" was created to be mated to Earth.

Which may well be, because Greg.  But it also may have been some in-world intention, too...?

Farming is about settling down, but pastoralism is about moving your herds with the seasons.

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2 hours ago, g33k said:

I am intrigued, and a bit puzzled, by the Storm/Pastoral linkage.

Pastoralism is all about stability, settled-down-ness.  Storm is brawling independence & disruption of the status quo.

They are almost diametrically opposed.  Not quite, but almost...

It really, really looks to me like Storm's "ungulance" was created to be mated to Earth.

Which may well be, because Greg.  But it also may have been some in-world intention, too...?

Pastoralism is herding, and so is quite dynamic and is often (but not always) migratory. 

On the topic of hooves as emblematic of the meeting of storm and earth - that's not a bad shout, actually. Maybe there's some mythical secret in there somewhere. I suspect some sort of Sky creature had hooves before (maybe some kind of Lammassu-thing), but maybe some kind of Sky-heritage got re-tooled or what have you. Umath is a Burtae, after all.

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10 hours ago, Brootse said:

Good point. One of my players' duck was thinking about getting an allied spirit in a rat. My opinion was that it would be technically posible, but requires him to persuade the priest. I checked the RQG book, and Argan Argan was still the only one that usually had rats. One thing that was a bit strange to me, was that now Orlanth too had hawks. I had always thought that they were emblematic to Sun cults.

There has been a storm raptor since the Three Feathered Rivals, and extending that to one of the cloud layers was just an extension of Thunder Bird. Yes, Vrok Hawks are classically solar birds, manifestations of Vrimak.

Speaking of hawks and rats - I wonder what pest-control animals are used in Dara Happa. Snakes might be possible, birds of prey are another possibility (although getting those house-trained is a lot harder than with cats.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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1 hour ago, Joerg said:

There has been a storm raptor since the Three Feathered Rivals, and extending that to one of the cloud layers was just an extension of Thunder Bird. Yes, Vrok Hawks are classically solar birds, manifestations of Vrimak.

Speaking of hawks and rats - I wonder what pest-control animals are used in Dara Happa. Snakes might be possible, birds of prey are another possibility (although getting those house-trained is a lot harder than with cats.

Yeah, and they need extra training to make them crawl into the mouseholes voluntarily.

Maybe they could use weasels or small dogs? Or they could have breeded domesticated cats, that have lost (some) of their independent nature. Speaking of domesticated cats, as far as I know, the only normal cat in Runequest material is Rat's (Frekor Firmfarer, Wind Priest of Orlanth) allied spirit in Raid on Yelorna. Maybe alynxes hadn't been found by Greg yet?

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On 3/28/2019 at 10:43 PM, RHW said:

I'm almost certain there were once RQ stats for this aardvark in particular:

 

5002958-cere.jpg

He looks mean, but aardvark never killed anyone.

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

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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9 minutes ago, Brootse said:

Yeah, and they need extra training to make them crawl into the mouseholes voluntarily.

Maybe they could use weasels or small dogs? Or they could have breeded domesticated cats, that have lost (some) of their independent nature. Speaking of domesticated cats, as far as I know, the only normal cat in Runequest material is Rat's (Frekor Firmfarer, Wind Priest of Orlanth) allied spirit in Raid on Yelorna. Maybe alynxes hadn't been found by Greg yet?

Shadowcats may have been understood as just another breed of house-cats at that time.

Anaxial's Roster has a Kralori myth about house cats, so their existence alongside alynxes or big cats (like leopards, panthers, pumas, lions or tigers) hasn't exactly been challenged. We still don't know how their relation would be towards alynxes.

The Yinkin myth almost suggests that Yinkin is at odds with all other carnivore descendants of Fralar. Certainly with the bobcats of Fronela, so why should alynxes be tolerant of house cats or ferrets?

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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1 minute ago, Joerg said:

Shadowcats may have been understood as just another breed of house-cats at that time.

Anaxial's Roster has a Kralori myth about house cats, so their existence alongside alynxes or big cats (like leopards, panthers, pumas, lions or tigers) hasn't exactly been challenged. We still don't know how their relation would be towards alynxes.

The Yinkin myth almost suggests that Yinkin is at odds with all other carnivore descendants of Fralar. Certainly with the bobcats of Fronela, so why should alynxes be tolerant of house cats or ferrets?

You asked what animals would Dara Happans use for pest control. So they wouldn't have to care about the opinions of alynxes.

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3 hours ago, Brootse said:

Maybe they could use weasels or small dogs?

Small dogs make sense.  Dogs are associated with the Underworld, as well as with Jajagappa Catcher of Souls (who drags evil back to the Underworld). Makes sense that they'd be employed to deal with vermin such as rats which clearly belong back in the Underworld.

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