Atlas shrugged

From: Peter Metcalfe (
Date: Mon 19 May 1997 - 16:46:54 EEST

Erich Schmidt:

Me>>From Cults of Terror:

>> (Description of the Celestial Court)
>> (Description of Form Runes)
>> (Arkat's Parentage)

>These are contradictions that I can live with though, because they are
>parrelel explanations of the same event/entity.

But these parallel explanations do *conflict*. And despite these
conflicts, Glorantha has not come to an end.

CF>>>I call it "distortion of our viewpoint". If the myths contradict each
>>>other then SOME ARE WRONG.
Me>> Yes and? What difference does it make if the myths are wrong?

>It matters to me.

But what difference does it make to the Gloranthans? To denote
a philosophy as Evil or False or Imperfect does not make its
practitioners powerless to act. If you decide that Sorcery
is Wrong and leads to divinely ordained masturbation, bedwetting
and brain damage, the sorcerer's spells still work.

>*I* want to know who is right. I want to know for my
>own personal interest and if it should come up in a game where it does

I too play the 'Historian as a Detective' in Glorantha. I was
really bad when I first manifested on the digest. But determining
what happened is by no means the same as determining what people
believe in.

>If an Orlanthi is fighting Lunars with Pentans in the Redlands
>and needs to refresh his rune magic, what happens if he prays at the
>West King Wind shrine of his allies?

This has nothing to do with the objectivity of myth. If I
were to say that those deities are completely seperate and
had no historical connection with each other, I would still
maintain that the spells can be renewed (provided the Orlanthi
filfuls Pentan cultural norms) on the grounds that they are
Storm Gods.

>However, I think that the
>difference between us is that if you can collect the different myths
>about a deity you can determine what that deity actually did during the
>Godtime and what is accretion from culture and misunderstood myth.

1) You are assuming that for a myth to be valid, it must have
been historically correct. I don't believe this to be correct.
There is a certain pattern in mythology whereby one deity borrows
a myth from another deity. In glorantha, since myths have to
do with magic, a god's repetoire of spells may becomes more complex
over time as he absorbs nifty tricks from other gods.

For example, a Priest of a Solar Cult might decide that he wants to
use Sunspear but his God has no tradition of Sunspears. He swipes
the Yelm myth and where it says Yelm, he writes in the name of his
own god. After heroquesting to prove this myth true, he can now
use Sunspear as does anyone who follows his path. Is this myth

2) There seems to be the assumption that the literal meaning of
the myth is all-important for it to be useful (ie If I believe
the Sun God wore a Crown in myth when he historically did no
such thing, my understanding of the God is flawed and imperfect
and thus my magic suffers). This, I feel, is _wrong_. The key
importance of the myth is increase the *spiritual* *understanding*
of the God and the spiritual understanding is how Theists do magic
in Glorantha.

So while the 'Historian as a Detective' Game is harder, it is
more rewarding IMO as one actually works with people with real
human feelings and not mindless robots who only believe what
their god says they should.

>Where does the religion come from? When the priest teaches the laity
>how was the ritual learned? I feel that, "in the Beginning", there was a
>direct communication between deity and mortal where the god said "You
>will worship me in this fashion." and the mortal said "You bet."

In the Provarian era of Wendaria (comparable to the Aboriginal Dreamtime
- - I'm referring to the Entekosiad), the first humans lived and died, but
were not sapient of the differences that could be observed (ie between
three animals and four, between themselves and other people, between
man and woman). They could do these things but they are not *aware*
of having done so.

Gradually as they became to notice the differences, they became
aware of the differences between themselves and the Otherworld.
Thus they began the first conscious interactions between themselves
and the Otherworld. However these godly relevations are only
known in a certain area. One area might believe that the Otherworld
is full of their ancestors and incarnate them so they may return
to Life, whereas another area might end up believing that the
Otherworld is full of Gods who make the world.

As the horizons of these cultures begin to expand, they came into
contact with other cultures who happen to be different. If and
when these cultures combined, their beliefs became a fusion of the
two cultures. If the storm tribes of Borlan and Orlanthus combined,
they would say their god was Orlanth. Thus central genertela ended
up with powerful gods that ruled the heavens.

This expansion lead to the first kings, early empires and primitive
armies in the Golden Age. Then came the Great Darkness after
which civilization began to expand anew.

Carl Fink:

>>Even the Objectivist position of mythic truth implies this.
>>If the God Learner myths are True (tm) then the myths before
>>the coming of the God Learners are false. Ergo one does not
>>need truth in myth.

>Difference between "false" and "imperfect" not recognized above, I

Huh? An 'imperfect' myth contains some elements of Falsehood
if the criterion used for perfection is Truth. Before the
great relevation (be it the God Learners or the World Council),
every mythology contained some false aspects. But it made
jackshit difference.

>As Sandy and Greg have both written to me, "personification" can be
>read to imply a "person". The idea is that the Wind develops a
>personality, not that people incorrectly assume a personality.

The Malkioni deny that the God is anthromorphic which is believed
to be true by the Orlanthi. A fairly blatant contradiction methinks.

>>Wrong. As far back as Tales #5, Greg was rejecting this
>>school of thought. And even if it were the World of Greg, why
>>then is your apparently anal-retentive Gregophilia causing you
>>to reject Glorantha as Greg says it is now?

>Again, you misunderstand me. My problem is not "Gregophilia", it's
>that Greg doesn't have a firm grasp on the underlying structure
>himself and puts out contradictory stuff (as he won't deny, I

How patronising. He feels free to put out contradictory stuff
because he does not believe in the objectivity of myth rather
than some spastic lack of 'firm grasp' which means that he
can't get his shit together.

>The stuff about Greg's absolute power is recognition of legal and
>practical reality, not what Dr. Pangloss might be posting.

Oh please. The practical reality is that Glorantha is so big
that Greg couldn't assume a harsh dictatorial role in Glorantha
if he tried. As far back as the early eighties, Pamaltela was
largely given to Sandy to develop, frex. As for recognition of
legalities, frankly I don't give a fuck. The Monomyth is Dead
and I, for one, piss on its grave.

Me>>Laurie's position is *not* Pure Berkeleyism because Pure Berkeleyism
>>refers to *everything* (including the material world) being relative
>>and subjective, not just myth and magic.

>Remember we're talking about Glorantha here. Please define the
>difference between "myth and magic" and "the material world".

The Material World - the world of Glorantha minus the magic. Look
at the Dead Place for instance. The Renunciators of the East Isles
have renounced all magic yet they live, breed and expire. The
Material World can be affected by magic in that you could use an
ignite spell to light a bonfire.

The Magical World - the difference between Glorantha and the Material
World. The God Learners labelled this the Otherworld and purported
to deduce several regions within it such as the God plane, the Spirit
World and so forth. Nobody can do magic in glorantha without contacting
the Magical World. Whether one casts a sorcery, worships a God, or
communes with the Spirits, one is partaking of the magical world.

The Magical World is, unlike Earth where it belongs to the world of
ideas IMO, observable by the material senses. The closer the Magical
World is to the Material World, the more it resembles the Material.
Thus the magical counterpart of a human being is his spirit which
looks like him to magical vision. As one departs the Material World,
one begins to view the Magical World by his own experiences and
perceptions (think of Solaris). Thus Orlanth looks like a barbaric
chieftain to the Sartarites.

Mark Sabalauskas:

Me>>Why do you think the World Council had the One True Mythology and
>>not say the Kralori, Artmali or the Malkioni?
> If the theists' gods exist that hardly implys that they
>are worthy of worship or that we have any reason to believe that
>they know The Truth (pat. pend.).
So where do the Kralori, Artmali or Malkioni get their Truth
from since they deny the Theist Truth?

> Anyway, in the real world, people manage to believe in
>a loving, omniscient, all-powerful divinty whose revelation
>occured in a specific geographic and cultural context as
>opposed to everywhere and all at once.

Thus leading to the RW counterpart of what we have been discussing:
the Problem of the Pious Pagan. What happens to the pagan who
lived a decent life but through some sad accident of birth (ie
born in China 1 AD) was not able to hear the truths that would
lead to his salvation? Is he damned by his unavoidable igmorance?
Either the divinity is not loving, all powerful etc or these truths
are not totally necessary.

Hence if the Malkioni does not know of the Theist Truths then
it follows that the Theist Truths are not universally true.

- --Peter Metcalfe


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