[Glorantha]Oasis Folk replies

From: Joerg Baumgartner <joe_at_toppoint.de>
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2004 14:32:07 +0100 (CET)


>> every oasis, a set of helper spirits with
>> powers like "aid <plant> fertility if sprinkled
>> with <oasis> water" or similar appears to
>> be in order.

Chris Lemens:
> I pretty much agree with this, but I think it is a
> simple spirit given by the (comparatively big) spirit
> of the Oasis. The Oasis Folk primarily worship the
> spirit of their own Oasis. It is the biggest spirit
> they know personally (apart from the aberrations in
> Pavis).

So basically the Oasis spirits have sheltered a number of lesser spirits from the pre-Gods War habitation? All right with me, although I'd have preferred minor families of spirits with a still minor family head spirit receiving an "organized" form of worship (say the equivalent of a bowl of milk outside the door).

>> We haven't seen many spirits for
>> tanning or other hide curing, either.

> I think this is common magic. Waha taught the
> Survival Tricks to anyone, after all.

Not all the Survival Tricks stem from Waha, Foundchild being the most prominent example.

>> Hence the description of the 48OO as
>> agricultural spirits. While the Golden Age
>> Praxian city folks would have appreciated
>> a horn of plenty per city or oasis (as per
>> "savannah watering place"), I doubt they went
>> and had Ragnaglar break one off for them.

> Don't over-emphasize the agriculture there. I'd say
> horticulture is more like it.

Your aversion against tractor-pulled multi-plows aside, I doubt the oasis folk have many plows. What little plowing they do might be done by donkeys (or where did Issaries get the other half of his mule breeding? The Heortlings aren't known donkey breeders, either...)

> Also, "city" is a bit
> much. I'd say they were more ceremonial centers.

By city I was referring to Ex and possibly Winter Ruins, those man-built ruins which have no oasis attached. Lokarnos has links to Sandy's digest descriptions of these...

>> There have been descriptions of Golden Age Prax
>> as the land where milk and honey flowed without
>> any need for labor. I don't think so: We're
>> talking Golden Age Prax here, not Green Age.

> I do think so, at least by way of comparison. They
> had no deiseases or bad weather. The fertility of the
> Green Age was undiminished. You plant a seed, it
> grows, you eat.

Not too different from pre-Storm Age Ernaldan culture, then.

BTW, how did Prax fare during the second flooding? The first flooding marked the arrival of Seolinthur and his tribe/utaries, a beneficial event. While raging sea mostly stayed south of Prax and Genert's Garden, there is an early Storm Age mythical map showing Dragon Pass as an Island.

>> Golden Age Prax was a fertile savannah, patches
>> of rich grasslands alternating with copses or
>> orchard-like shaded meadows.

> I don't think this is true. Prax was a forest. I
> forget which source says so, but this is canon.

I don't think I really disagree with Chris. Like agriculture, this seems to be a matter of definition. Savannah is semi-open woodland. Tree density may be similar to subarctic forests. Beasts like giraffes or high llamas graze off the trees...

Then there is dry savannah, which is mostly steppe with quite a lot of tree stands - this doesn't sound like Golden Age Prax, but this is the land favoured by impalas and sable antelopes. Bisons might be at home here, too (temperature problems left aside). Either Prax or Genert's Garden must have featured such terrain for Storm Bull's children to immigrate.

There will have been places of outright forest - thick undergrowth, tall trees competing to be the highest worshippers of Splendid Yamsur. But given that Prax was connected to Eiritha, I really doubt that the Beast Mother would have favoured a land where her beasts couldn't be at home.

Limited to European impressions, I looked up Redwood and found it to be the northern Pacific coast sequoia (giant or ordinary sized), basically a Green Elf forest although with some temperate undergrowth (e.g. http://www.neiu.edu/~ncaftori/sonoma/forest-redwood.jpg). IIRC this even requires periodical fires to rejuvenate?

I fail to see how any "Garden" composed solely of such forest could be as bountiful (to humans or herd beasts, or even giant sloths) as the Green Age Prax described in the introductory paragraph of the Tales of the Wastes.

> Oakfed at the forest of Prax. Redwood was its Great Tree.

Yes. Part of Prax was Aldryami forest, and a tiny remnant still exists in Dagori Inkarth, where stalwart elves defend Stump and Torch against troll hunger. IMO unlike other places, the forest actually had wide less forested stretches of savannah in between.

>> It would be an interesting exercise to catalogue >> the extinct trees of Golden Age Prax.

> Indeed. Were did cacti (in the cactus desert / cactus
> forest, depending on your source) come from?

To give a European parallel, Mallorca's rocky slopes have a quite variated cactus population. After the ecological changes of the Long Night and Oakfeds burnings, these pioneered into the now uncontested plains.

>> Prax was the kingdom (or whatever) of Tada,
>> a demigod or superhero who fathered or adopted
>> the Tada-Shi, aka the Golden Age Folk of Prax.

> I'd say _a_ Golden Age people of Prax. The Oasis Folk
> are the only apparent remnant, but there were others.
> I think some of them re-appear in the Hero Wars. For
> the rest of this, I assume you mean the Tada-shi in
> broad sense, including peoples other than those that
> became the Oasis Folk.

Basically, I see five groups of humans in Prax: Beast Riders who immigrated from the south (Spike), Men-and-a-half who immigrated from the southeast (Pamaltela, via Teleos), Hsunchen who immigrated from the west (Basmoli, likely via the great forest of Ralios/Maniria), River folk who immigrated in the wake of Seolinthur, and indigenous Tada-Shi. I have no idea how many different cultures the Tada-Shi may have had. IMO they are unrelated to the Copper People, Long-ears or the Aldryami Lords who sometimes re-appear from the Eternal Battle (and who IMO are from Genert's Realm).

>> What we know about the Tada-Shi is that they were >> - earth worshippers,

> I don't _know_ this. I don't see any reference that
> proves it.

Ronance and some of the other spirits of the Paps. Unless you have a valid alternative for their worshippers.

> We know that the Ostrich Riders -- another
> Golden Age remnant from the area -- worshipped the
> sun.

So do the Impala Riders.

> I'd say that it is more likely that they
> worshipped a complete pantheon led by Genert that had
> its own sun god, river god, etc.

So do the Esrolians - earth worshippers with a complete pantheon of sun, storm, water and darkness husbands. The Heortlings worship a complete pantheon with important solar (Elmal, Yavor, Mahome's numerous brothers), sea (Heler, Mastakos) and some (strangely unspecified) darkness deities. The Dara Happans have air gods (Entekos, Doburdun), river gods (Oslira and her folk) and darkness gods (Deshkorgos, Jajagappa) in addition to the fire/earth combination of Yelm and Dendara (Lodril and Oria). I doubt you will find any incomplete pantheon anywhere except the monotheist West.

> One interesting
> question to ponder is whether the current Oasis Folk
> have always worshipped their Oasis water spirits
> primarily or, if not, when and how and why this
> changed.

Possibly a key to understand them, yes. The easy answer is of course that they started to rely exclusively on the water spirits after all other sources of fertility failed, but they seem to have a special connection to the oasis spirits which goes further.

The nature of the oasis spirits is quite unknown, too. The perhaps best described spirits is that of the Portable Oasis...

>>  - builders of some sort (producing all the altars
>> and ruins scattered over Prax along Ronance's
>> roads),

> Again, yes, so long as you mean Tada-shi broadly. For
> example, the Monkey Ruins were built by apes of some
> sort.

I wouldn't include Monkey King and his folk in the Tada-shi, and I agree that there may be other sources of ruins from the Golden Age, but places like Ex or Old are Tada-Shi/Oasis Folk remnants.

>> The Oases were tended by them (and still are).
>> One can speculate what function the Oases had in
>> lush, semi-forested Prax, but clean waterholes
>> are valuable everywhere.

> I suspect that the Oases are the remnant of larger
> entities. They were once most likely creeks, streams,
> and small rivers. Prax in particular stands between

> mountains on two sides, a sea on the third, and a
> river on the fourth. Seems strange that there are not
> more tributaries to the Zola Fel.

IMO that's because the oasis spirits are not directly connected to Seolinthur's immigration, but are native sources of water.

Besides, much of Prax seems to be a bowl emptying into what is now the Dead Place. Before the battle between Storm Bull and Wakboth, this must have been a lake district full of flamingos and similar water-loving life.

>> IMO the Golden Age people of Prax had a form
>> of agriculture similar to that of the Chagga
>> people on the upper slopes of the Kilimanjaro:

>> http://www.oneworld.org/patp/vol5_4/eden.html

> Yeah! That's evocative. And totally consistent with
> them being "arrangers" of the golden land. I'd use a
> word other than agriclture to describe this though.

Horticulture doesn't quite fit the bill, either.

> Perhaps it is just me, but when you say "agriculture"
> I think of cereal monoculture (I know, it is
> distinctly modern, but still, my mental image is
> wrong).

Where I live, cereal fields are enclosed by hedges of hazel, willow and similar low-growth trees. After WW2 many of these hedges have been razed to allow for combination-harvesters, but field size still is just a few football fields apiece. The cereals alternate with raps (which would have been flax fields a century ago, or beans) and roots or cabbages. Interspersed between the fields under the plow you find pasture for cattle. Occasional patches of "forest" or less fertile meadows, or wet areas likewise left for pasture would have provided pasture for lesser husbandry.

This combination is what evokes my picture of agriculture.

> Joerg:

>>The Golden Age folk of Prax (the Tada-shi) did have
>>agriculture or horticulture, and therefore the need for
>>appropriate spirits.

Daniel Fahey:
> Why would they have these when everything grew in plenty without any
> effort?

In order for this to continue? We know the Pelandan myths about how things subsequently went wrong - how cold came, how unfriendly neighbors arrived, etc. We also know that Genert's Garden wasn't spared these changes from early Golden Age (when these Green Age conditions still lingered) to Middle Golden Age - e.g. when deciduous forests were developed to deal with the changes that made the yellow elf forest previously there unviable.

The Golden Age sedentary Praxians had Tada as their cultural hero to lead them through these changes. IMO resulting in the "Arrangers of the Land" culture I've been preaching.

Horn of Plenty
> Joerg Baumgartner:

>> >>The Golden Age folk of Prax (the Tada-shi) did have agriculture or >> >>horticulture, and therefore the need for appropriate spirits.

Peter Metcalfe
>> > They did?

>>Hence the description of the 48OO as agricultural spirits.

> The 48 Old Ones are a subservient cult of Eiritha and associated with
> Eiritha priestesses. There is no evidence of their association with the
> Tada-Shi/Oasis folk nor can they be adduced as evidence of golden
> age agricultural practices.

If I hadn't quoted the word "agricultural" from Cults of Prax I might agree with that line of reasoning. However, the counter-evidence is quite weak, too:

From HeroQuest Voices, Tales of the Wastes:

: Genert and the spirit giants made the world so long ago no one
: remembers. They were strong, and lived in a fertile garden.
: Food was everywhere: jackrabbits came freely to the eating,
: and if you dropped a seed you had do jump back when the tree
: sprang up with much fruit.

Personally, I read this as "all of this happened so long ago no one remembers". The description clearly is Green Age, especially the jackrabbits bit.

Since it is a Beast Rider shaman who tells this history of Prax, no mention of Tada or his era is made. (And noone ever accused wily Tada of trying to deal fairly with the devil...) It continues:

: But the dead giants failed at last - they tried to deal fairly with the devil.

Enter "our folk", the Beast Riders (whose leaders actually were absent from the Gods' Last Stand).

Given the fact that Sandy told us the Beast Riders gained intelligence in Waha's Contest (rather than the Herds only losing it), little more details of the Golden Age are to be expected from this source. Basically, this entire scenario makes it likely that the Golden Age Oasis Folk already then provided food for the Beast Nomads, like treasured pets used in landscape gardening. Think herd men and herd beasts traveling together in symbiosis...

>>While the
>>Golden Age Praxian city folks would have appreciated a horn of plenty per
>>city or oasis (as per "savannah watering place"), I doubt they went and
>>had Ragnaglar break one off for them.

> They didn't need a Horn of Plenty in the good old days. The land was
> so fertile that jackrabbits came freely to eating etc.

"so long ago none remembers".

>>The Golden Age oasis folk were a sedentary people who cultivated some of >>the land for food production.

> They did?

I fail to see how they were different from the early Vingkotlings and Durevings in their respective land of milk and honey.

> The Golden Age folk weren't vegetarian and the argument is over
> how they gathered their food, _not_ what they ate.

The methods of producing or gathering the food surely would have influenced the diet?

>>There have been descriptions of Golden Age Prax as the land where milk >>and honey flowed without any need for labor. I don't think so: We're talking
>>Golden Age Prax here, not Green Age.

> And why wasn't golden age Prax a land of milk and honey?

("Land of Milk and Honey" may have been a too weak translation of the German term "Schlaraffenland", but I'm totally unfamiliar with the suggested term "cockaigne".)

Because something brought change to Genert's Garden between the earliest and the middle Golden Age. The original evergreen broadleaf forest was gone, a new species of Aldryami, the Brown Elves, tended the new kind of forest which replaced the yellow elf forest from the earliest age.

This is the usual transition Green Age -> Golden Age. In the earliest Golden Age, you get jackrabbits offering themselves for lunch, later, when things got complicated, people tended the soil and grew and harvested their food. And learned to take precautions against unexpected shortages.

> Similar
> claims are found about Dara Happa, the Land of Logic and Kralorela.

And all of these were agricultural societies.

>>> So why does Aldrya/Redwood give Eiritha the magic >>> of accelerate growth in Cults of Prax?

Chris :

>> I think this is the magic that the Most Respected
>> Elder at the Paps can use to replicate Eiritha's
>> action when She first brought forth Eiritha's Bounty.
>> I.e., it only works on grass.  Praxians would not use
>> it on something they planted (because they don't plant
>> things),

Julian Lord :
> I'm sure the Praxians have magic places where they grow
> special (or ordinary) plants.

They certainly have places where they harvest special harvests, like skullbush, and they might use magic to accelerate this harvest before the herds move on. However, I don't see any Beast Riders planting these plants as a crop. A sacrifice of part of the bounty to the spirit of the place might be a means of sowing plants, but there would be no tending.

> Some oases are AFAIK controlled by Praxians,
> not Oasis People, for starters ...

There are a couple of altars of Prax with no oasis community attached. (IIRC Tourney Altar, Pimper's Block and Day's Rest, for instance).

All oasis communities (except Pavis and the Paps, and nowadays Moonbroth) are controlled by Beast Riders. The exact group in control may change, but the fact of control won't.

>>>>They are restricted to places unravaged by
>>>>the Wildfire, though, where sufficient
>>>>water flows.

>>> The Oasis folk are restricted to places where
>>> sufficient water flows. This has nothing to >>> do with the Wildfire.

> To be fair, it's a definite mythic possibility.

Thanks. I was wondering whether I was alone in this...

> Fertile Earth <> Sufficient Water : Chicken <> Egg ?

There are other factors like nutrients (be they chemical or magical), but water is as crucial to plant life as are carbon dioxide and light (in whatever form Gloranthan myth provides these).


>> I think they are largely the same.  if they are
>> different, I agree with Peter.  I see the Oasis Folk
>> version of "agriculture" really being more of extended
>> gardening, very labor- and water-intensive, mostly
>> fruits and vegetables.

> This would vary from Oasis to Oasis

Depending on what families of spirits found shelter there

>> But hey, what would you expect of inbred idiots

> You're confusing them with the Oasis People again ...

In their case, it might rather be a problem of interbreeding with herd men?

Guy Hoyle

> Peter Metcalfe wrote:

>> Joerg Baumgartner:

>>> The Golden Age folk of Prax (the Tada-shi) did have agriculture or >>> horticulture, and therefore the need for appropriate spirits.

> I thought that agriculture and horticulture were unnecessary during
> those days? You could drop a seed to the ground and you'd have to jump
> back because the seed grew so fast.

"Those days" actually is a long time between when the spirit giants made the land and when the devil invaded. Lots of things happened, such as Tada tricking Death towards the end of Golden Age Prax.

> Of course, there are the troublesome ruins of irrigation canals that you
> sometimes find along the Zola Fel, IIRC from Borderlands, so SOMEBODY
> was practicing agriculture at some time in Prax.

The Sun Domers were present only from 870 onwards and didn't expand that far south, IIRC. I doubt the Jrusteli colony at Feroda had much if any agriculture. This leaves the Oasis Folk, at no specified time - but it is unlikely they did so within history and were exterminated before either Jrusteli or EWF contacted them. Heck, the Theyalan missionaries entered already in 35 S.T.

Peter might claim that these canals were part of landscape gardening, but in that case who killed all the gazebos?

--__--__-- Received on Fri 13 Feb 2004 - 12:04:14 EET

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