Re: Adopted Pagan Deities

From: Nick Brooke (Nick_Brooke@compuserve.com)
Date: Sat 16 May 1998 - 13:03:08 EEST


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Peter writes:

>> If I remember correctly, local gods and some "dubious" candidates
>> are included among the boddhisatvas.

> This is not unique to Mahayanna buddhism and can be found in
> Christainity, Islam and Hinduism among other religions.

A nice example: the popular British and Irish Saint Bridget. Formerly
eponymous patron deity of the Celtic tribe of the Brigantes, who *suddenly*
turned out to have been a mortal Christian saint ("all along"). So all the
pagan shrines to Brigantia turned into Christian shrines to St. Bridget,
and -- I like to imagine -- kept the same adaptable curators...

But what's this got to do with Glorantha?

Simple, really. Some things are damnably hard to work out for sure.
Malkioni, it would seem, have a hard time interpreting exactly what their
scriptures are on about when they mention (obscurely) holiness and purity
and unclean spirits and angelic messengers and saintliness and so on and so
forth. So, to use a recent mention by Julian Lord as an example:

: One of my players has a Rokari Knight who's met Humakt and has
: experienced the divine nature of this god.

But what precisely does he mean by "the divine nature" of Humakt? If he were
a purist Rokari, he'd know that an unclean demonic pagan spirit had
attempted to mislead him -- no Rokari denies that there are barbarians who
worship odd things they've found, or cooked up, or been duped by. If the
Knight in question were boggled by the size of Humakt, or the power, or the
apparent omnipresence ("I am in every Death"), or whatever, that's no more a
reason to consider the big H. a "deity" on the level of the Invisible God
than if he were similarly impressed by an Elephant, or a Waterfall, or
Sunlight.

Consider: are exorcists polytheists?

"This young Knight appears to have made an elementary mistake," Old Wizard
Marlet tells us. "Because he has undergone a stressful and unusual
experience as a result of pagan magical ceremonies, he is falling into the
false belief that this barbarian mythical mumbo-jumbo somehow contradicts or
disproves Holy Scripture. Of course it does not. Consider when Malkion cast
out the Devil, or Hrestol faced the Lion Goddess of the Pendali, or Froalar
married the pagan goddess Seshna Likita to bring true Malkionism to all of
Seshnela? These encounters with spiritual entities are recorded in Holy
Writ. Now, you may not be the equal of Malkion or Hrestol or Froalar -- but
you can at least prove yourself stronger than Arkat, who fell to the
blandishments of pagan spirits and was utterly lost to the True Faith."

So: is a spiritual entity you encounter worth worshipping, or listening to?
The current mainstream Malkioni answer -- after the tragic downfall of the
God Learners -- is a pretty universal "No!" The Rokari burn witches; the
Hrestoli loot the hero plane and kill gods. Avoidance of doubt, eh? They're
there all right, but it's safest to have nothing whatsoever to do with them:
look what happened in the when we tried that in the Second Age!

But the fringe sects -- Henotheist, Stygian, Aeolian, Carmanian, Valkarian,
etc. -- have all reached their own accommodation with various pagan spirits,
claiming that they have some special relationship with the Creator that
makes it OK to deal with them. Mainstream Malkioni say that at best they are
foolish, at worst they are deliberately perverting their true religion with
these pagan flummeries, and if we're lucky they'll all be wiped out by the
Wrath of God, just like the God Learners were.

Purity is in the eye of the beholder. Look at the three Religions of the
Book in the RW today, and all of their myriad variants, now and ever. They
*all* think that they're right, you know.

So now tell me that a religion which admits that other powerful spiritual
entities exist, some of which are naughty, and knows that man is a fallible
thing and that heresies can be created by mortal error, will be thrown into
crisis if someone says he's encountered a spirit who showed him that "I'm a
God, too, and very very powerful, and your scriptures are wrong about us
pagans."

The auto-da-fe beckons...

:::: mail: <Nick_Brooke@compuserve.com> or <Nick_Brooke@csi.com>
Nick
:::: web: <http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Nick_Brooke>

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