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EricW

Does Glorantha have fake religions?

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Are there religions in Glorantha which are fake? False priests who lead worshippers on with promises of power but the worshippers (and priests!) never receive any magical return for their devotions?

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I wouldn't say there are any that are totally "fake", but there are definitely cults in which the worshippers get little to no return for their investment while the priests secretly use their followers energy for themselves. The EWF in its latter years was a great example of this from what I've heard.

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The Cult of Immortality is one such false religion. From the description of Maculus the Monitor in Strangers in Prax:

Maculus' background is the most unusual of the Coders. He was bom in Tarsh over 130 years ago, when the region first fell under Lunar sway. Although many in Tarsh resisted Lunar influence, Maculus found the preachings of the Lunar missionaries curiously attractive. But before he could take the plunge and join the Seven Mothers, he fell prey to another cult which had slunk into Tarsh riding on the tide of the Imperial missionary program. This cult was the Church of Immortality, an insidious false religion that claims to sell the secret of eternal life. The Church of Immortality is essentially a pyramid selling operation, where hapless converts transfer their youth and money to higher members, in exchange for greater standing in the cult. Maculus became an enthusiastic zealot, recruiting a huge number of converts to the banned cult. When Maculus finally reached the top of the pyramid, he discovered that the religion he had spent the last 85 years toiling for was an empty, hollow sham, and this prompted a complete nervous collapse.

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Nysalor and Lokamayadon are perhaps the closest but they are both dead and have no current cults. Arachne Solara offers nothing to worshipers but is a real God.

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1 hour ago, albinoboo said:

Nysalor and Lokamayadon are perhaps the closest but they are both dead and have no current cults. Arachne Solara offers nothing to worshipers but is a real God.

Arachne Solara offers the continued existence of the cosmos, and thus her 'nothing' that she gifts is a bit like Ra for the Egyptians: the preservation of all life; it's only nothing because we are accustomed to more easily imagined concepts like 'rune spells' and 'the rain in spring' that she seems ungenerous.

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9th century Umathela saw the God Learner experiment of introducing the cult of Jogrampur, an entirely made-up deity. After a few decades of worship, the overseeing university experienced a bad shock when the rebelling worshipers of Jogrampur wielded very real magic against their experimentators. It isn't clear whether the cult still exists and whether it still provides magic.

Another such case in the past was Avanapdur, Lord of Nightmares and leader of the Antigods during the Greater Darkness, a temporary reality boosted by lots of worship in the East Isles, which never returned from a challenge put to it by Mashunasan.

 

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9th century Umathela saw the God Learner experiment of introducing the cult of Jogrampur, an entirely made-up deity. After a few decades of worship, the overseeing university experienced a bad shock when the rebelling worshipers of Jogrampur wielded very real magic against their experimentators. It isn't clear whether the cult still exists and whether it still provides magic

Although I am by no means asserting this religion is in any way fake, check out the previously unknown Indian Goddess Santoshi Mata - the Goddess of Satisfaction - who began to be worshipped after appearing in a low budget 1975 Bollywood film that really struck a chord. Santoshi is now sincerely venerated by millions in northern India, despite having no basis in Hindu scripture whatsoever.

Edited by MOB
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6 hours ago, EricW said:

Are there religions in Glorantha which are fake? False priests who lead worshippers on with promises of power but the worshippers (and priests!) never receive any magical return for their devotions?

I'm sure there are sorcerers or shamans who can/have "manufactured" religions, probably for their own profit. And of course Tricksters could using some "mask" of their god.

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6 minutes ago, MOB said:

Although I am by no means asserting this religion is in any way fake, check out the previously unknown Indian Goddess Santoshi Mata - the Goddess of Satisfaction - who began to be worshipped after appearing in a low budget 1975 Bollywood film that really struck a chord. Santoshi is now sincerely venerated by millions in northern India, despite having no basis in Hindu scripture whatsoever.

The Goddess English, as in language, is also being worshiped in India. The Dalit community built a temple because it's the only large scale  spoken language in India that has no caste terms built in.  

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Well, as long as we're mentioning real world examples, there's always John Frum, who is perhaps less of a god and more of a millenarian, Messianic entity.

As for Glorantha: isn't Aurelion & twin "fake", or at the very least manufactured/altered?

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For a while, Greg was talking about "short worlds", essentially regions of the otherworld that can be tapped into for magical power but eventually run out because "they have no connection to the transcendent". I think this thinking has gone out of the window along with mis-applied worship, but I found it interesting. These short worlds were what fake religions tap into, they appear to work for a while, but they eventually are revealed for the sham that they were. Is it possible to Heroquest to prove that your religion is real? Sure. If you prove it's real, it's real.

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1 hour ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

As for Glorantha: isn't Aurelion & twin "fake", or at the very least manufactured/altered?

Not so much "fake" and more that they were just philosophical constructs dreamed up by the God Learners to fit things more squarely into their view of the world, IIRC.

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59 minutes ago, PhilHibbs said:

For a while, Greg was talking about "short worlds", essentially regions of the otherworld that can be tapped into for magical power but eventually run out because "they have no connection to the transcendent". I think this thinking has gone out of the window along with mis-applied worship, but I found it interesting. These short worlds were what fake religions tap into, they appear to work for a while, but they eventually are revealed for the sham that they were. Is it possible to Heroquest to prove that your religion is real? Sure. If you prove it's real, it's real.

Sounds very similar to what Avanapdur (or rather, whoever created him) were up to.

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4 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Well, as long as we're mentioning real world examples, there's always John Frum, who is perhaps less of a god and more of a millenarian, Messianic entity.

I have visited Tanna, the tiny South Pacific island where the John Frum cult is located. Tanna also has the Prince Philip Movement (having seen Prince Philip on an official visit to Tanna,  they worship HRH as a living god: great when you have your deity's postal address and can even go visit Him, as some did in 2007. Apparently Prince Philip's adapt reply when asked "When will you return to Tanna to institute the Reign of Plenty?" was "I will return one day, but now the time is not right" which they were apparently very satisfied with). I would not describe these religions as "fake", at least from the worshippers' perspective, as they are completely sincere in their beliefs. 

Tanna was an amazing place to visit. As well as the unusual religions, it has an active volcano you can walk to the top of, and we went to a village where the women could summon a dugong by wading into the lagoon up to their waists and slapping the water and singing. It felt very magical. 

[BTW, I thought the feature film Tanna - nominated for best Foreign Film in the 2017 Academy Awards - was very Gloranthan in feel: Set on a remote Pacific island, covered in rain forest and dominated by an active volcano, this heartfelt story, enacted by the Yakel tribe, tells of a sister's loyalty, a forbidden love affair and the pact between the old ways and the new. Although the people who worship John Frum and Prince Philip live the "Kustom" traditional lifestyle, there are others who are Christians (Presbyterians, if I recall correctly). I love the scene in the movie where the two protagonists meet the proselytising Christians and look at each other and "These people are people are freaking me out, let's get out of here". I could see an Orlanthi saying that, meeting Lunarised compatriots.]

 

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Any Vadeli could tell you that becoming one with the all and finding Solace is just a scam by Krarsht and the worshippers of the Invisible God are merely fools rushing into the Maw of Krarsht to be devoured.  But hey, nobody ever listens to us.

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5 hours ago, MOB said:

I would not describe these religions as "fake", at least from the worshippers' perspective, as they are completely sincere in their beliefs. 

That's the issue with attributing such notions (fakeness and realness) to real-life beliefs. Is John Frum any less real that the Son of Man? Or Rama?

I think this thread perhaps more accurately deals with, to some degree, what we would call intentional shams, perhaps. In Glorantha even the initially unreal can manifest in the Otherworld if reinforced enough - to my knowledge - whereas in the real world we sort of have the opposite problem, in that if we discount one belief system based on lack of evidence, they all really should be discounted.

That's where I think the intentionality of founder/leadership becomes important. I mean, the Cult of Immortality mentioned above *worked* - but its intentions were entirely selfish, and served no higher cosmic purpose or role, so perhaps most closely resembles what we would call a "fake" religion - irrespectively of the existence or nonexistence of its target deity.

Maybe I'm overthinking it, or moving the goalposts.

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22 hours ago, EricW said:

Are there religions in Glorantha which are fake? False priests who lead worshippers on with promises of power but the worshippers (and priests!) never receive any magical return for their devotions?

Anyone recall the magazine module of a satyr <possible spoiler>

Cheers

 

claiming to be a prophet. I don't think that this is a spoiler by itself but you might want to hide responses in between spoiler tags if it gives anything away to the unsuspecting possible player

Edited by Bill the barbarian

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And I mean, sometimes you can't tell whether something had an effect - you sacrifice the the Red Cave Lizard to protect you from disease, and then for a while you don't have many diseases, and it's a pretty minor sacrifice, so why take any chances? This kind of crud is bound to accumulate. 

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On 7/6/2019 at 9:36 AM, EricW said:

Are there religions in Glorantha which are fake? False priests who lead worshippers on with promises of power but the worshippers (and priests!) never receive any magical return for their devotions?

Great question, and the answer is yes !!

(though I think you mean cults rather than religions)

Gloranthan fake priests typically siphon the magical sacrifices for their own benefit alone -- offhand I can't thinlk of any published example except the Vivamort cult, but I'd imagine there are others.

A fairly marginal question anyway, as the Gods of Glorantha do not act in secret.

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17 hours ago, Julian Lord said:

though I think you mean cults rather than religions)

You can have a very real cult based on fake or false beliefs.

A fake cult would be one in which the members (at least the upper hierarchy) know it's based on fake or false beliefs.

In the real world, that's basically what most religions (cults) think all the others are.

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1 hour ago, Shiningbrow said:

You can have a very real cult based on fake or false beliefs.

A fake cult would be one in which the members (at least the upper hierarchy) know it's based on fake or false beliefs.

In the real world, that's basically what most religions (cults) think all the others are.

Strictly speaking, all the polytheists (Hindus and Pagans) I know are of the opinion that any one religion certainly does not cancel out another one. The theology maybe be mistaken, sort of, in terms of exclusivity, but they wouldn't imagine telling someone that their god or goddess doesn't exist. So I would emend your statement by saying, "that's what most monotheist religions think all the others are (or, for the broad-minded ones, at least the incompatible ones that can't be termed Abrahamic)."

 

Edit: In Glorantha, as in a fair bit of non-monotheistic cultures, the 'wrongness' of a religion is in its strangeness, abhorrent practices, or incoherent motivations, not in the existence of its divinities or spirits or concepts.

I admit, however, that most polytheistic Gloranthans think that the Invisible God is implausible and that many mystic paths are a bit recondite.

Edited by jeffjerwin
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