AA, Uz, Ravens (rrawk!)

From: James Frusetta (gerakkag@wam.umd.edu)
Date: Tue 14 Jan 1997 - 21:15:03 EET

Nick Brook points out Argan Argar is also an imperialistic god, indeed:
Uh, would you buy that the trollkin militia exist to preserve trade
routes, peace and the Trollish way? I guess what I'm thinking is that his
primary orientation are communication and trade; on reflection, Peter's
arguments for violence are strengthend by the fact that AA, XU, Aranea and
Subere can all commit violence, even if they don't do it out of habit
(while, say, in the Lightbringers CA is anti-violence, Issaries doesn't
use it much). So, point for Peter.

In fact, reflecting on the violence = Uz thread, I may be protesting
violence too much. Maybe the original mistress race trolls weren't violent
(in fact, Trollpak implies they only ate basic chemicals and elements),
but violence does seem to be solidly present in their society. Hmmm. And
just cause uzuz was don't mean uzko is, I suppose. In fact, more hmmm, it
seems like ZZ rises to power as the uzko appear and dominate, too; maybe
there's a innate difference between uzko and uzuz -- the loss of Korasting
encourages more violence, or something. <Shrug>

Daniel McCluskey expressed my thoughts on Uz humor as a release mechanism
better than I did: it's a "weapon" of last resort. Accepting humiliation
lowers your social status, but it's a reprieve from violence when you'd
otherwise lose or have your friends and family cripped. Humiliation, I
think, would be a big part of Uz humor.

Finally, I hope you stick your thoughts on ZZ the trickster on your
website, Peter. Nice site, that. I still do think there would be _more_
than just violence to Uz tricksters (yeah yeah, I've blathered about that
before), but I think ZZ as a ancient troll trickster is an interesting
thought. Still hold to my pro-Karrg rebuttle of all that ZZ propaganda,
though. <g>

- ----

Simon Phipp disagrees with me about ravens/Raven:

> 1. Raven is primarily a Praxian deity, mentioned nowhere else, as I
> recall.
Why is impossible for this to be the same deity, interpreted two different
ways? I'm not saying that the Praxian cult is the Dara Happan cult. I said
the Solars consider Raven to be a traitor deity and his fellows to be vrok
hawk fodder. I'm also saying that Raven the trickster used to be Raven,
God of Ravens in Solar myth. I'm sure the Solars had the myth before they
heard of the obscure Praxian spirit.
As to having been mentioned no where else: So what? I haven't read
anything about the God of Blue Jays, but I assume there may be one. Lack
of a reference does not automatically equal lack of god, particularly in
this obscure stuff (I just can't see Greg staying up nights wondering,
"The name for the god of blue jays... gotta have a name. And a myth"). And
as Stephen Martin points out, there is a Dara Happan constellation called
Raven. So there's even a reference. Da?

Simon points out Yelm created Sun Hawk, Orlanth Thunder Bird (#2):

Drat -- I've read the write-up in question, but I don't have it handy. One
quick question -- are there physical birds who represent Sun Hawk and
Thunder Bird? I'm assuming Vrok Hawks work for the former.

The myth would (seem) to assume to say that not all Bird Deities are
descended from Vrimak. But I assume the Solars say (any solar experts on
this wanna comment?) that Vrok Hawks descend from Vrimak, and don't
acknowledge Thunder Bird. And the myth doesn't _say_) who created Raven;
I assume the Praxians don't give a hoot. Using "the Praxians say this, so
it must be true in Solar myth" seems a dubious argument: I think the
Solars _do_ say all birds come from the Solar court, but some have gone
traitor (just as Gorakikites say all insects come from Gorakiki, but some
have affiliated themselves with other pantheons). If I'm wrong on Vrok
Hawks -- if they come directly from Yelm in solar myth -- then I'm wrong,
and will eat my large floppy trollish hat at your whim.

> 3. It makes Raven more interesting than having his actions dictated
No way! (sorry). I _like_ the idea of linking Raven's behavior to the
birds. Corvus Corvax is _easily_ the most interesting bird in the bird
world. Scientists are still boggled why it will act in completely
contradictary ways (e.g.: ravens are incredibly bold. Yet they are very,
very slow to approach food on the ground. Much slower than crows, for
example, who face the same danger -- that the food isn't dead yet, or that
there's a predator around. So the same bird is cowardly and brave.
Trickster!) We're not talking about a route set of a few behaviors which
Raven the god has to be straightjacket into -- we're talking about little
flying trickster birdies that no one understands. Raven can do whatever he
wants, because we don't know a raven wouldn't do it.
And why does it have to be the birds who shaped Raven? I'd assume that
most Gloranthans who say Raven is the god of ravens would say the deity
shaped the birds. Made 'em just like he is: squawking, crapping, thieving,
destructive little bundles of joy.
On the darkness rune: I thought the Tales writeup superceded the 3
Feathered Birdies writup? Stephen Martin mentions that Greg has
rejected the direct association of Raven with darkness. I'd prefer the
association myself, but... <shrugh> In fact, I like the 3 Feathered
Birdies writeup. I'm just curious about the non-Praxian myths.

And the reasons why I'm stubbornly arguing this:
   1. The deity is named Raven, after all. It seems vaguely logical to
assume some association with Ravens. If there's NO connection, as you
prefer, why didn't they name him Throat Warbler Mangrove instead of Raven?
Or (*sigh*) did they name him Raven because he was similar to ravens in
many, many ways, but had categorically no connection to them, never has?
   I suspect there's a Praxian myth out there about how Raven creates the
ravens. A 2 minute hack: Raven is trying to steal something. The guardian
of the thing (shiny bits, food, whatever) keeps him away. So Raven divides
himself up into many small ravens/makes a bunch of helpers, and they mob
the hell out of the guardian. It can't stop them all, so they steal the
stuff. Afterwards, Raven doesn't find all the bits he separated himself
into (so there's ravens)/he's so pleased with his helpers he makes
more, and they breed. Completely different than what I'm proposing for the
Solar myth, but I think it would work for the Praxians.
  2. Raven is a trickster. Corvus corax is commonly assumed to have
trickster aspects, including stealing, destruction, slyness, poor
parenting (raven chicks are _noisy_, which led many ancient ornithologists
to conclude that they were hungry, and the parents didn't feed them
enough), a capacity for playfulness, etc. They've even been documented
as tool-users (big little birdy brains, aparently). If Raven isn't the god
of ravens, why is there such overlap? Coincidence, again?
  3. Ravens have one of the largest habitats known to animals. A handful
of species are found across North America, parts of South America, Europe,
Africa and Asia. If you include crows & rooks, there are few areas Ravens
aren't in -- I think they've even made it to Australia, yah? (I know
they're native to New Caledonia). Ergo, there should be ravens in many
parts of Glorantha, not just Prax But the 3FR cult really only deals with
Prax. So how are they covered in other areas?
  4. I happen to _like_ it. I wanted a reason why ravens could hang out
with trolls (which is suggested by the fact that trollish-corvid
interaction would benefit both from a food basis), and the idea that Raven
was cast out and made black by Yelm works nicely. I'm not saying this is
the One True Myth; I'm saying I think it works for Solars/Darkness (who
may well not consider the God of Ravens to be an important trickster
figure: I argue the uz don't). The Praxians say Raven is black because he
was burned by Sun Hawk. I'm sure there are many other versions of the
story among other peoples. <Shrug>. And I can't imagine, BTW, that the
Praxians -- regardless if they consider him to originate from Yelm's
court -- don't associate a deity named Raven with ravens, in light of

Sorry. For me to accept this is "flawed," I want a source that directly
contradicts what I'm arguing: "blah blah blah, Raven, who is not the God
of Ravens," page X of Book X, sort of thing, or an argument that is much
more convincing. (Sorry). I think it _is_ interesting to associate the
two, Stephen has pointed out a reference, and I think the 3 Feathered
Fruitbats mythos is probably little used outside of Prax/Dragon Pass, IMO.
Next volley of criticism, please? <g>

Wait a second... I could have sworn Stephen Martin said the Praxians don't
believe in Yelm, but in 3FR he made the Sun Hawk? Huh. I'm confused.

On Vrok-Hawking those pesky Ravens:
Whoops. My girlfriend (ravens are her hobby -- I get it from her) pointed
out that, at certain times of the year, crows & ravens will gather in
larger groups (up to 10 million, RW). They also, in such numbers, greatly
enjoy taking down larger avian predators by mobbing. Ergo, vrok hawking
thmem is subject to at least a _little_ discretion (Rrrawk Rrrawk Rrrrawk!
<Thud> "No! My favorite hawk/familiar/allied spirit! Noooooo!") Rooks
apparently don't mob, so they're still fair game. ;)

Which, IMO, is another reason for trolls to associated with the birdies.
When the Yelmist/Yelmalian sends his avian familiar/allied spirit to scout
over your trollish hovel, the large raven roost you encourage (by leaving
food out, by not killing them) mob the hell out of it. One less avian spy
to worry about.

James Frusetta


End of Glorantha Digest V4 #78

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