Stargazing.

From: Alex Ferguson (abf@interzone.ucc.ie)
Date: Sun 15 Feb 1998 - 10:21:27 EET


Wheeee, the Gloranthan Sky, again. As some of you may have deduced,
this is a Pet Topic of mine, so please bear with me while I blether on
at some length. [ Rest of Digest: "ZZZZzzzz...." ]

Phil Hibbs needs to know:
> Is there a cool Gloranthan word more appropriate then horoscope?

I suggest the term "celestiomancy" for the practice of which you speak.
My neologism generator isn't working quite well enough to come up with
an instant direct equivalent of "horoscope", alas.

> In Glorantha, [celestial movements and peoples personality] fit
> together naturally, and don't have the same air of mystique and
> uncertainty about them.

I'm all in favour of having a system that makes more _sense_ than the
terran one (wouldn't be hard), but having something totally simplistic
and bog-standard-fantasy would be unsatisfying, IMAO. (I don't suggest
you're advocating such.)

In particular, we need a Sky that's as hard to predict as the Gloranthan
one is _alleged_ to be (inability to forecast the Southpath, difficulty
in agreeing a post-Buserianesque model of the Sky, etc, etc), and hopefully
one that's rich enough to get some interesting mytho-historical hooks
out of. If we get the latter-day equivalent of the Doom Conjunction
every couple of years, it lessens the impact, to say the least.

> [a PC Humakti] rolled his birthday randomly and got Wind/Death/Storm!

That sort of thing could scar a person for life! Not so much so as
actually being a Humakti mind you, vis a vis actual scars, and said
life being altogether shorter.

Jane Williams demands, with good reason:
> Do we have a Zodiac to play with?

No actual zodiac, since the sun and the stars move along different
nightly paths (d'oh!). I think the most likely analogues are: the
constellations along the horizon; and the constellations around Polaris.
Gloranthan star-fans could then say a given body is "in" a constellation
on a given day or night if it (variously) rises in it, passes through it
in the Upper Sky, or sets in it. I think I considered the first scheme
for Kralorela, the second for Dara Happa (or maybe vice versa: argh!)

I tried to work out some of the fallout from this many, many moons ago.
(Shortly before GRAY, I think actually, which was unfortunate timing in
some ways, such as trying to get feedback from Greg on it, not entirely
unreasonably.) So naturally I forget most of my own conclusions, at
least off the top of my head, but IIRC among them were that this was
_amazingly_ boring for some planets, such as Mastakos, and that more to
the point, I'd need to know a lot, lot more about the constellations
(even after GRAY), to sanity-check/modify this sort of idea.

Stephen Martin calculates:
> Unless things change, pretty much everything would have to hinge
> on the Southpath planets, since the Sunpath planets repeat their exact
> pattern every 62 years. Entekos is the reason for this -- without her,
> they would repeat every 2 years.

I think what we currently have for the Sky suggests that it'd work OK
for "personal" astrology, but would be pretty hopeless for predicting
the fall of empires, the return of the devil, longer term type stuff
like that. To get this doesn't _necessarily_ require that things be
retGregged, just that there be other factors of variability that haven't
been taken into account yet (or more precisely, which have been assumed
to be non-variable, without Official Statement that they are).

Which reminds me, Steve, did you re-investigate the change-of-day-length
thing? I intended to hack up a slightly more "realistic" approximation
to this myself, but never got around to it.

> Unless I fumbled my Use Microsoft Calculator roll, that is 1 degree of
> change every 70 years, which is _extremely_ significant in terrestrial
> astrology.

It's significant in that it would mean that things would "break" over
long periods of time, yes -- things like zodiacs, heel stones aligned
with the solstice, and star-towers of the Story of the Young God,
certainly. But it's an _extremely_ subtle change to expect anyone to
detect through observation, unless you either have phenomenally precise
measurements, to notice it within your own lifetime, or to be able to
reconstruct from written (or monumental) records, given the obvious
tendency to ascribe such changes to errors on your predecessors' part.

Leon Trotsky, he got an ice pick, but not before saying:
> Beyond simple sun-signs, the important features in RW astrology are the
> angles which the planets subtend to each other and the division of the houses

Remember that the planets go through the same houses too, which even some
Pop Astrologers manage to work in there. Though to little avail, as few
Sun or Mirror readers are going to know their "Mars-sign" or their
"Uranus-sign". (This latter having, of course, all the esoteric Western
Tradition authenticity of performing haruspication on a Teletubby.)

> (which depends on latitude as well as date and time of birth).

The presumption seems to be be that there are no "latitude effects" in
Glorantha, but one never knows... This is one of the things I wanted to
pin Greg on, but haven't managed to. There are two separate issues,
here, in fact: latitude effects per se, and those caused by parallax.
By actual latitude effects I mean those caused by living on a curved
world (which Glorantha isn't), or an _apparently_ curved world (which it
is -- see Wonky Light thread _passim_, ignoring the more plaintive cries
of pain it caused).

The current Top Answer on parallax seems to be that celestial objects
show either no parallax at all, or no more than they would on earth,
which would make even the parallax of sun or moon dashed tough to detect.
The Red Moon, though, may or may not exhibit parallax, or may just appear
at the size and position the She happens to feel like, for any given
location of an observer (or hell, in general!).

> Many of the Gloranthan planets also subtend interesting angles with each other

Not sure what you (or astrologers) mean by this. Inferior and superior
conjunctions, opposition, etc?

> I'll look into it and see what I can come up with.

Please do. If we're sending the rest of the Digest to sleep, then
feel free to email me, and I'm sure there are others who'd wish to
hear what you come up with.

[No precession]
> It does away with all the dawning of the Age of Aquarius stuff for a
> start, which is a pity.

At least it's an acknowledged one; I asked Greg about this at the last
Convulsion, and he a) did _not_ say "What the heck is the precession of the
equinoxes?"; b) said that what he had written to date more-or-less ruled
it out (which is what I had suspected), and c) agreed this was something
of a shame. But still, I hope to be able to salvage _some_ degree of
mitigating complexity out of Gloranthan celestial mechanics. I agree with
Steve that the main "hope" is the Southpath, which could be as fiendly
complex or as redundantly simple as one likes, for all we Officially Know
right now.

There are other sorts of "precession" which probably could be nic^H^H^H
adapted to Glorantha, though. Degree of axial tilt, orbital transit,
eccentricity of orbit, and likely several others I'm forgetting all vary
on earth, with effects that could be "simulated", even in a world that's
Copernicus' and Galileo's worst nightmare...

More serious "lacks" in the Sky are non-integral periods for different
heavenly objects (and worse, ones that don't have pretty trivial lcm's,
for the most part), varying rising and setting points, retrograde
motion, that type of thing. Those are the sorts of things that gave
earthly astrologers such headaches historically (and occassionally, at
least in the popular imagination, fatal neck-ache), but at least kept
them in jobs. It seems that in Glorantha, an idiot with a stick would
go far in astronomy class. ;-)

> OTOH, I should explain that RW astrologers ignore the
> precession of the equinoxes when drawing up horoscopes

Just to amplify, this is despite the zodiacal signs being roughly a whole
house "out" from where they are supposed to be, the sun "missing" at
least one sign, and going through a couple that its not supposed to at
all. One "leading" RW astrologer, once justified this on TV by claiming
that Astrology _really_ depended on the terrestrial season, rather than
where some crummy old stars and planets _actually_ are, so everything
was still perfectly OK, making one seriously wonder if you took up the
right "-ology".

One can only imagine than anyone trying that sort of stunt in Glorantha
would either be swiftly executed when one of their more blatantly
observable predictions bombed, or would be landed with the sort of rep
for stiff-necked intransigence and mental inflexibility normally enjoyed
by dronars hacking away at glaciers with their hoes -- or with Dara
Happans, most days of the week, come to that...

> Oh, and I had a think about finding something to parallel the 'division
> of the houses'

You mean something like the decanates? Or in deviations above or below
the "plane of the ecliptic"? Seemingly in Glorantha, Sunpath planets
don't, at all, ever, [ *stifles yawn* ;-) ] while the Southpath ones do
so rather wildly, in a not-yet-determined manner. Given what we know of
the Buserian model, it seems more likely that said latter variations are

reckoned according to position in the _Sky_, rather than relative to the
path of the sun. Introducing a slight wiggle into the course of the
Sunpath planets (other than Yelm and Lightfore, of course) would give
some extra complexity without really breaking anything else, however.

Congratulations if you made it here sans skip/skim mode!

Slainte,
Alex.

------------------------------

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