Types of Illumination

From: Curtis Shenton (curtiss@netcom.com)
Date: Fri 12 May 1995 - 02:53:15 EEST



I've been thinking about Illumination of late and have been trying to come up with some different approaches besides just Nysalor Riddles. Arkat cults do NOT riddle people I'm sure. I think Riddles are what Nyalor and Red Goddess style illuminates use. I've come up with a few other ideas but first I'm going to explain what I see the sources off illumination being(from a theistic viewpoint).

First there was Rashoran. I'm not sure if his teachings survived past the Dawn. If so I'd say he's likely to be the source of the
"illumination" Arkat received as well as the mystical tradtion of
Kraloria.

Next comes Nysalor of course. And I agree with the idea that even the illuminates who went to the Dark Side weren't particularily concerned with Chaos. There evil was based in their total disregard for morals and cultures. Solar priests raising zombies was just as bad as Orlanthi Vivamorts IMHO. Falling to Gbaji meant essentially becoming a psycopath and becoming unconnected with other people.

The next source of illumination is Arkat. I don't think Arkat was really going about illuminating people or teaching people who to illuminate until after the death of Nysalor. And even then I don't think most Arkat cultists during the Dark Empire and since have been illuminated.
"Initiates" or the equivalent probably have a lot of the theory about
the mind set of illumination and know how to spot an illuminate "Watch for people asking funny questions. And keep an eye out for people suddenly dropping their old values." Only Rune level types were allowed to reach true illumination.

The Red Goddess basically is the inheritor of Nysalor. The lunar religion has shaped the teachings of Nysalor to match their focus on chaos and balance. A Bright Empire era illuminate would probably be rather supprised by a Red Goddess illuminates spiel about how illumination lets you loose your fear of chaos.

Now for other methods of Illumination. I think some version of the original teachings of Nysalor has made it east to Kraloria. The riddles there are definetly of the Zen Koan variety. But I also think there should be a more meditative approach to enlightenment. I'm rather fuzzy on the details as I'm not sure if this would be a hold over from Rashoran or if it has it's roots in Draconic thought. [idle thought for the day, can a Dragonnewt be illuminated? Would it notice?]

I've got some more solid ideas for Arkat. First I'm sure there are a few cults that worship Arkat as Gbaji or Nysalor that use riddles. But these aren't really descendents of the teachings of Arkat. In thinking about Arkat I had two basic ideas. First of all Arkati do not see themselves as Illuminates and do not use riddles, and second that Arkati illumination is not so eaily spread like Nyalor illumination is. I can't see Arkat retiring and establishing a cult that could repeat the disastor of Nysalor.

I've always read the war between Arkat and Nysalor in terms of meeting one's shadow. Nysalor and Arkat are great "shadows" of each other. The teachings of Arkat IMHO would focus on this. I think when a Arkati is judged worthy he is taken on a mini heroquest and has to defeat his or her own shadow. Arkat designed his system to weed out as much as possible candidates who would abuse illumination. Those with to strong a dark side are defeated and consumed. Whatever is left is dealt with by the leaders of the cult. What exactly this dark side is would vary from individual to individual and Arkat cult variant to Arkat cult variant. Most often it's a version of the initiate turned to Gbaji. The scene in Empire Strikes Back where Luke enters the tree is the best example I can think of.

And ever after the Arkati illuminate carries with himself the image of their dark side. I'd think that helps explain why the Arkati cults didn't spread out and fall into the same kind of corruption the Nysalor/Gbaji cults did. They may have fallen into other traps but in general they didn't become Gbaji.

End of Glorantha Digest V1 #274


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