Opposed Runes

From: David Cake (davidc@cs.uwa.edu.au)
Date: Wed 21 Jun 1995 - 09:05:49 EEST

>> Why can't you have opposed Runes in a given cult? Even the
>>God Learners thought this was possible with Chaotic deities.
>I am taking issue with the idea of _opposed_ runes. This reeks of
>Cultural Materialism of the worse kind[1]. Everybody who has read
>RQII will automatically come up with Life and Death being a Prime
>Example of opposed runes and only held together by Cults of Dubious
>Standing (Yelm, the Seven Mothers etc).

        Well, I will agree that not everyone thinks that combining Opposed Runes is necessarily Bad, but I do think the concept has some validity. In fact, I will even go so far as to claim that the 8 opposed pairs of the Power runes is probably intellectually understood by just about everyone that actually uses the Runes. They will have very different interpretations of what 'opposed' means, but the basic idea is there.

> Yet the Orlanthi see Humakt,
>Death, as being in the Service of Life and do not really comprehend
>the point of 'opposing' runes in this context.

        If anything I would say that the RQ2 view IS the Orlanthi view, and it is the Dara Happans who would have the most problem with the concept.

        Humakt are closer to Death, so they are unable to access the most important life power (Resurrection), in the Humakti scheme of things.

        I think the Lunars acknowledge the opposition of Death and Fertility and feel clever and smug about their religions ability to combine them.

        The people most likely to have a problem with it are the Yelmites, but I think perhaps even they see the Life and Death aspects of Yelm as a Mystery aspect of the Yelmic religion. The Yelm mythology may not have originally acknowledged the opposition, but I think it probably does now.

>>didn't like it with other gods, though. I suspect if they'd had
>>their way with Yelm, there would be two suns in modern Glorantha --
>>a "Life" one, and a "Death" one.

        I would have suspected that they would either make the gods of the Sun in the Sky and the Sun in the Underworld different gods, or they would have just acknowledged Yelm as an unusual and important deity.

>Anybody who mentions Bijiif, the Ashen Yelm as an example will be
>roundly set upon. Bijjif seems to be a cult of Dead Fire Worship
>(ie ashes) based in Darjiin. The fact that he is sometimes called
>the rival merely reflects the numerous scraps Darjiin and Alkoth
>have had over the many years.

        I find your attempt to interpret the myth of Bijiif purely in terms of cultural history just as bad as the concept you lambast below. Bijiif is not 'the rival' merely because of a number of historical altercations between cities - the Dead Fire being opposed to the Live Fire makes perfect mythological sense in a number of ways.

        I never really thought of Bijiif as really having a cult in any case - I assumed that Bijiif was an aspect of Yelm important only internally to the Yelmic religion. But then again, what do I know - I haven't even read TFS yet.

>[1] 'Cultural Materialism'. The concept I'm railing against here is the
>tendency to simplistically ascribe an culutral practice to an environmental
>effect. The best example of it I can give is the Aztecs supposedly
>practicing Human Sacrifice to ward of protein deficiency. The Rich were
>the only ones who regularly partook in such feasts and the poor could get
>their protein from other sources...

        The environmental effects responsible for separating the runes into opposing pairs here being what? That humans are generally not alive and dead at the same time? That things are either moving or not? Generally the opposed Rune pairs make good intuitive sense (not that they are universal, but I don't think anyone would find them difficult to comprehend).

>Given that the Orca is a killer whale, I have a difficult time believing
>that Trunhin Da (sp?), the Blue Dragon of the Deep is actually reptilian
>in appearance. I think that he looks more like a Colossal Sperm Whale.
>I think that when the Kralori say that he is a True Dragon they are
>actually saying he has a spiritual status to a Saint akin to saint or
>hero. Certainly Godunya's not reptilian in appearance.

        Possible, though I have no problem with a draconic power helping humans to access non-draconic powers to combat a common enemy. There is no particular implication that the Cult of the Orca actually worships Thrunhin Da (thought they doubtless revere him as founder).




This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.7 : Fri 10 Oct 2003 - 01:51:37 EEST