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What actually happens at Sacred Time?

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So, my current RQG campaign is entering Sacred Time 1625, and it takes place around a Dundealos clan in Sartar. So far I haven't gone into any detail with describing worship rituals and what they actually entail, and I figured Sacred Time would be the right time for it. What myths are traditionally reenacted at Sacred Time? For Orlanthi is it always the Lightbringers Quest? And if so, can a small, poor clan perform it as a simple ceremony, or does it have to be a heroquest? 

My players include an Orlanth warrior, an Issaries merchant, and a Praxian shaman of Daka Fal who was adopted into the chieftain's household. I don't plan on turning the worship rituals into a big adventure, but I figure they can all play some part or another, since two are clearly Lightbringer gods, and Daka Fal could be a stand-in for Flesh Man. Anyway, our next session is on Friday, so any advice for storytelling Sacred Time would be helpful. 

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Yes, I read somewhere that most Orlanthi clans reenact in some way or another the Lightbringer Quest during Sacred Time.

As I understand it from the book Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes, there are different levels of heroquesting-depth and risk. Most of the time, for cult ritual purposes, the reenactment is done "in this world", meaning the participants don't physically go to the God plane, but rather they invoke the Hero plane onto the Middle World. However, all initiated participants still see the guys in costume during the ritual as if they were really were their gods and goddesses, since the power of the God plane is present. So the deities are present. "This world" heroquests are relatively easy and are usually successful. I guess deeper heroquesting during Sacred Time only happens when there is an urgent magical need on top of the annual "repairing the world" heroquest that is the Lightbringer Quest, which is vital in itself and no trivial thing, no matter what level of depth the clan reenacts it with.

That involves lots of preparation like cooking, building, sewing costumes, purifications, organising the people to do different tasks, ensuring no Chaos enemies wander into the ceremony, and a big etc.

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The LBQ is to Heortling religion what the Passion narrative is to Christians--the core story of the religion. So just as a Christian Church wouldn't enact a nativity play during Holy Week, I don't think a Heortling tribe would perform, for example, the Sword Story instead of the LBQ.

But there's still a lot of room for variation. Some churches have a series of special services which mostly look like services in other parts of the year but with a common theme, while other churches do things like Washing the Feet, a Passion Play, contemplation of the cross, a Saturday Vigil, a sunrise service, or an Easter procession. Some churches host Easter breakfasts or Easter egg hunts, which aren't strictly speaking religious rituals at all. Some do services that are mostly Bible readings and hymns, with no sermon or communion. 

I doubt that many Heortling clans attempt a full quest version of the LBQ--it's one of the hardest quests there is and it's rare enough that a successful quest is a long-remembered event, like a major war. But some might do one small piece of the quest, depending on what particular problems they are facing. Others (perhaps most) will simply do the Gloranthan version of liturgical drama, walking through the events with people playing the roles but not performing an actual quest. A clan with a strong tradition of worshipping one specific Lightbringer, like Issaries or Chalana Arroy, might focus their rituals on that god, while others might have a meta-cycle in which each year they focus on a different Lightbringer. Each Lightbringer receives at least one day of the Sacred Time focused on them (except Eurmal--no one wants to focus on him), so if a clan has a strong relationship with a god their rituals might culminate on that day. Worshippers may be transported to the Godtime on a particular day and help their god perform a key event during the LBQ.

Another key activity is taking omens for the next year. I think most clans conduct at least one ritual seeking omens, most commonly from Lhankor Mhy I expect. But the rituals probably vary from one clan to another--one studies the entrails of a sacrificial animal, while another pours out Lhankor Mhy's Inkpot and studies the patterns that form or looks at the shapes of the clouds. Unusual natural occurrences during the Sacred Time are extremely important--if Chalana Arroy's sacred doves refuse to eat, that means that war or chaos is coming while a strong gust of wind on a cloudless day is Orlanth saying something. Everyone pays special attention to their dreams.

In some clans, Sacred Time is a time to renew its relationship with the wyter or an important spirit that lives on the Tula and must be kept happy. If Old Man Willow doesn't get his pig, the hunters will have trouble finding game or they will have a lot of injuries and accidents. These rituals often take the form of little plays where the clan's pact with the godling is re-enacted. Old Man Willow thinks every chieftain is Old Hrothgar the Founder so every chieftain plays Hrothgar in that ceremony. There might be ceremonies commemorating important ancestors and a memorable deed they did. Since the walls of Time are bit weaker during the Sacred Time, it's much easier to re-enact Eonislara's Taming of the Black Death-Pig this time of year. 

But it's also a time of celebration. There will certainly be at least one major feast, and it includes special food items only made that day of the year--a rich egg bread drizzled with honey or candied fruits or a particular mead-drink. The fact that there are a lot of sacrifices means that there's more meat than usual--the gods get the bones and skin and the humans get the meat (except Chalana Arroy--she gets the first slice of the special spice-cake and the clan gets the rest). Many clans hold a special Voria Hunt on Day 1 to commemorate Voria's appearance on Flower Day--so the children search for toys and sweets and the first child to find where the Voria Priestess is hiding (or the clan's carved Voria Flower treasure) is the Spring Child and plays a role in the Sea Season ceremonies that year. 

Edited by Bohemond
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8 hours ago, Bohemond said:

I doubt that many Heortling clans attempt a full quest version of the LBQ--it's one of the hardest quests there is and it's rare enough that a successful quest is a long-remembered event, like a major war. But some might do one small piece of the quest, depending on what particular problems they are facing. Others (perhaps most) will simply do the Gloranthan version of liturgical drama, walking through the events with people playing the roles but not performing an actual quest. A clan with a strong tradition of worshipping one specific Lightbringer, like Issaries or Chalana Arroy, might focus their rituals on that god, while others might have a meta-cycle in which each year they focus on a different Lightbringer. Each Lightbringer receives at least one day of the Sacred Time focused on them (except Eurmal--no one wants to focus on him), so if a clan has a strong relationship with a god their rituals might culminate on that day. Worshippers may be transported to the Godtime on a particular day and help their god perform a key event during the LBQ.

Thanks this gives me a lot to work with. I may try to pick one specific part of the quest that my players can assist with. 

8 hours ago, Bohemond said:

Another key activity is taking omens for the next year. I think most clans conduct at least one ritual seeking omens, most commonly from Lhankor Mhy I expect. But the rituals probably vary from one clan to another--one studies the entrails of a sacrificial animal, while another pours out Lhankor Mhy's Inkpot and studies the patterns that form or looks at the shapes of the clouds. Unusual natural occurrences during the Sacred Time are extremely important--if Chalana Arroy's sacred doves refuse to eat, that means that war or chaos is coming while a strong gust of wind on a cloudless day is Orlanth saying something. Everyone pays special attention to their dreams.

 

I've specifically told the players that the clan has no Lhankor Mhy worshipers, so divination is probably going to involve entrails. I also think 1626 would definitely be an "ill-favored" year, given the death of Kallyr Starbrow and the general chaos that follows. 

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On 5/15/2019 at 9:21 AM, Bohemond said:

There will certainly be at least one major feast, and it includes special food items only made that day of the year--a rich egg bread drizzled with honey or candied fruits or a particular mead-drink.

This whole post is absolute gold, but this here got me hungry and now I'm thinking someone needs to make a YouTube Glorantha cooking channel.

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8 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

This whole post is absolute gold, but this here got me hungry and now I'm thinking someone needs to make a YouTube Glorantha cooking channel.

Welcome to Cooking with Mahome! Today we're going to be looking at the proper way to roast a whole calf for the Sacred Time feast. First, never forget to inspect the calf for any signs of broo-birth, because broo larva will give the whole calf an unpleasant bitter taste and may cause eaters of the meat to grow hooves. 

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22 hours ago, Gallowglass said:

Thanks this gives me a lot to work with. I may try to pick one specific part of the quest that my players can assist with. 

I've specifically told the players that the clan has no Lhankor Mhy worshipers, so divination is probably going to involve entrails. I also think 1626 would definitely be an "ill-favored" year, given the death of Kallyr Starbrow and the general chaos that follows. 

I don't think you need LM worshippers to take omens in the LM style. Just as a clan ring may have a seat for a specific god but no worshippers of that god, I think that a clan's Lawspeaker may represent LM without actually worshipping him. Obviously it helps, but one doesn't have to worship a specific god to invoke him or her for ritual purposes. 

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Every Sacred Time the world teeters on the edge of destruction, and the solemn and joyous affirming of the Gods' work, and every person's own small work, towards its survival, is acknowledged, and sets the stage for another rebirth.

Also, a screw-up in the sacred time rites is a really bad omen.

Edited by jeffjerwin
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Different clans have different traditions.

Each clan celebrates the Lightbringer's Quest and takes part in the non-magical rituals associated with it. Each clan celebrates Ernalda and the Earth Pantheon as Flamal's Day approaches. Certainly each clan offers reverence to their ancestors, their founders, and the clan wyter. Note that this is all in addition to whatever Holy and High Holy Days the various deities observe. Sacred Time is a time of recognition for ALL the gods who effect the clan and its livelihood.

Sacred Time is also an observance of the end of the Gods War, the Great Darkness, and the advent of Time.

Shamans, oracles, and the wise also make predictions for the next year, which the clan ring uses to plan the year.

On the Mundane Plane, Sacred Time is also for the collection of taxes and conclusion of contracts. Chiefs recognize outstanding clan members of all classes during Sacred Time feasts.

So if you think about it, the Sacred Time is a very busy time in the life of everyone. It's a wonder that it all gets done in just two weeks.

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9 minutes ago, svensson said:

So if you think about it, the Sacred Time is a very busy time in the life of everyone. It's a wonder that it all gets done in just two weeks.

"Director and Stage Manager" are clearly rolled into Worship (Deity) for all those priest[esse]s, shamans, and god talkers.

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1 hour ago, jeffjerwin said:

"Director and Stage Manager" are clearly rolled into Worship (Deity) for all those priest[esse]s, shamans, and god talkers.

Ah, so you've seen the Catholic /Episcopalian liturgy then....  :) [And I say that as an Episcopalian myself. I call it 'Diet Catholic: all the ritual, half the guilt']

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4 hours ago, Bohemond said:

Welcome to Cooking with Mahome! Today we're going to be looking at the proper way to roast a whole calf for the Sacred Time feast. First, never forget to inspect the calf for any signs of broo-birth, because broo larva will give the whole calf an unpleasant bitter taste and may cause eaters of the meat to grow hooves. 

Aaaaannd now I'm looking up the Walktapus recipes from the RQ2 Runequest Companion...

I've been known to say to friends on Memorial Day Sunday to enjoy their cook out... yeah, it's a cook out. If it was BBQ, you woulda started last Thursday lol

 

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10 hours ago, Bill the barbarian said:

Walktapus stew, the meal that keeps on giving.

Gives a new meaning to "coming back up"...

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On 5/17/2019 at 7:31 AM, Bohemond said:

I don't think you need LM worshippers to take omens in the LM style. Just as a clan ring may have a seat for a specific god but no worshippers of that god, I think that a clan's Lawspeaker may represent LM without actually worshipping him. Obviously it helps, but one doesn't have to worship a specific god to invoke him or her for ritual purposes. 

In my view of the culture, more than ‘all’ Orlanthi (i.e. more than 6 in 7) are pantheon worshippers in addition to their initiation. Which means that likely 99%+ of Orlanthi worship LM at least once a year and likely 85%+ worship LM once per season. Only the rune priests / rune lords / devotees have some degree of exclusivity about their worship, and Orlanth and Ernalda priestesses, as community leaders, often get to lead Issaries or LM worship when there is no initiate available.

Edited by Charles
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1 hour ago, Charles said:

In my view of the culture, more than ‘all’ Orlanthi (i.e. more than 6 in 7) are pantheon worshippers in addition to their initiation. Which means that likely 99%+ of Orlanthi worship LM at least once a year and likely 85%+ worship LM once per season. Only the rune priests / rune lords / devotees have some degree of exclusivity about their worship, and Orlanth and Ernalda priestesses, as community leaders, often get to lead Issaries or LM worship when there is no initiate available.

aren't all the schoolchildren (to the extent that such things exist) lay worshippers of LM? Also, whenever a person needs their lineage recited or the law ascertained, bam, sacrifice to LM...

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In my mind, pretty much really all Orlanthi are lay members of all mainstream Orlanthi cults. Or in other words, Orlanthi initiation to any mainstream cult is also pantheon initiation.

3 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

aren't all the schoolchildren (to the extent that such things exist) lay worshippers of LM?

Orlanthi strongly discourage children doing anything magical. Certainly for rural Orlanthi, children are a significant section of the labourforce and I would suspect similar among the poor and middleclass city Orlanthi.  So I don't think there are many children studying under LM (or equivalent) instruction; children of kings and the ulra-rich perhaps.

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5 hours ago, Charles said:

Orlanthi strongly discourage children doing anything magical. Certainly for rural Orlanthi, children are a significant section of the labourforce and I would suspect similar among the poor and middleclass city Orlanthi.  So I don't think there are many children studying under LM (or equivalent) instruction; children of kings and the ulra-rich perhaps.

I don't know whether I can agree to that blanket statement. Children don't receive any personal magic (spirit or rune magic), but it will be hard to keep them from exercising their passions.

Do their runes manifest in the course of the adulthood rites? Or are they there already, only not yet tattooed?

Children will learn the public dances of the rites, and will be encouraged and often even required to participate, in order to receive blessings. They will learn the general overview over their myths, their lineages, and quite possibly the markings used by Issaries to count and label goods or harvested items. They are likely to pick up Tradetalk, too, and possibly some understanding of the rote verses in Stormspeech and Earthspeech used by everyone in the liturgies.

And sooner or later children will become initiands who are taught the basics of magic in preparation for their adulthood rites. Not yet actual spells, but controlled sacrifice of magical energy in the worship services, for instance.

And already small children will be taught how to invoke (passive) protective charms that aid them against e.g. spirits.

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11 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

aren't all the schoolchildren (to the extent that such things exist) lay worshippers of LM? Also, whenever a person needs their lineage recited or the law ascertained, bam, sacrifice to LM...

Except that there aren't any formal schools in Orlanthi culture. Most learning happens on the home steading with additional religious instruction during Holy Day ceremonies. Only the most curious and precocious children pursue an education beyond learning the trade /craft /clan role of your elders and the expectations of your cult. As a result, Orlanthi literacy rates are very low, certainly under 20% and most probably lower.

Even in the Lunar Empire education as we know it is more along the Greco-Roman model rather than what we on Terra Prime think of as schooling. In this model a noble family [or several] hire a pedagogue to privately instruct the children of the household. Once the children are grown, this pedagogue acts as the household sage, genealogist, and advisor in matters of ethical or legal import until the grandkids require their letters and sums.

Commoners seeking an education look towards a learned teacher who takes up a corner in the marketplace and instructs children for a fee paid daily in cash.

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12 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

aren't all the schoolchildren (to the extent that such things exist) lay worshippers of LM? Also, whenever a person needs their lineage recited or the law ascertained, bam, sacrifice to LM...

"All the schoolchildren" implies that Sartarites have some system of general education roughly comparable to primary/grade school. IMO, that's far too modern a thing for a Bronze Age society. I think it may happen that a child occasionally shows signs of being favored by LM before the adulthood rites happen. In a case like that, the child might be sent to study with an LM or at Jonstown or Boldhome, but I think that's extremely uncommon. I think it's probably uncommon even in a more urban society like Esrolia or the Lunar Heartland, although I could imagine that in those cultures there is some system to test the aptitude of children, perhaps around 10 years of age. 

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6 hours ago, Bohemond said:

I think it may happen that a child occasionally shows signs of being favored by LM before the adulthood rites happen. In a case like that, the child might be sent to study with an LM or at Jonstown or Boldhome, but I think that's extremely uncommon. I think it's probably uncommon even in a more urban society like Esrolia or the Lunar Heartland, although I could imagine that in those cultures there is some system to test the aptitude of children, perhaps around 10 years of age. 

At least in my Glorantha, the clan lawspeakers and scribes will be on the lookout for precocious youths with an inclination towards literacy and knowledge. They will send these folk on to the LM temples: Jonstown, Boldhome, Derensev, the great temple at Nochet, etc. Why? It's an "offering" from the clan/tribe to the temple - one that encourages the LM temple to pray for the clan/tribe during Sacred Time, and to answer questions otherwise.  Those youths who don't have the aptitude might well be sent back to the clan before initiation.  Those who do have aptitude will stay, be initiated, get to effective levels of lawspeaking and scribal work, and some of those will be sent back to the clans, too, though probably as a result of more offerings from the clan.

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1 hour ago, jajagappa said:

At least in my Glorantha, the clan lawspeakers and scribes will be on the lookout for precocious youths with an inclination towards literacy and knowledge. They will send these folk on to the LM temples: Jonstown, Boldhome, Derensev, the great temple at Nochet, etc. Why? It's an "offering" from the clan/tribe to the temple - one that encourages the LM temple to pray for the clan/tribe during Sacred Time, and to answer questions otherwise.  Those youths who don't have the aptitude might well be sent back to the clan before initiation.  Those who do have aptitude will stay, be initiated, get to effective levels of lawspeaking and scribal work, and some of those will be sent back to the clans, too, though probably as a result of more offerings from the clan.

Checking "Evens of my Life" by Minaryth Blue, who was gifted with a writing quill at birth, shows no sign of such an internship.

 

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14 hours ago, Joerg said:

I don't know whether I can agree to that blanket statement. Children don't receive any personal magic (spirit or rune magic), but it will be hard to keep them from exercising their passions.

Do their runes manifest in the course of the adulthood rites? Or are they there already, only not yet tattooed?

Children will learn the public dances of the rites, and will be encouraged and often even required to participate, in order to receive blessings. They will learn the general overview over their myths, their lineages, and quite possibly the markings used by Issaries to count and label goods or harvested items. They are likely to pick up Tradetalk, too, and possibly some understanding of the rote verses in Stormspeech and Earthspeech used by everyone in the liturgies.

And sooner or later children will become initiands who are taught the basics of magic in preparation for their adulthood rites. Not yet actual spells, but controlled sacrifice of magical energy in the worship services, for instance.

And already small children will be taught how to invoke (passive) protective charms that aid them against e.g. spirits.

Generally agree your criticism of my statement, it was over-broad. A better restatement might be: Orlanthi strongly discourage children from ‘learning’ and performing active magic.

Passions are equivalent to talents in our world - some children are better at running, others at rote learning, others at tending animals, others at tending plants, etc.. Possession of charms and other received magics are likely more widespread than among adults.

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16 hours ago, Joerg said:

Checking "Evens of my Life" by Minaryth Blue, who was gifted with a writing quill at birth, shows no sign of such an internship

Clearly his kinsfolk had high hopes, and even blessed him with the name Minaryth.  I'd just take it that he proved to have no aptitude, not even to be sent to Jonstown.  But this otherwise provides no indication one way or another regarding actual practices.

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