Re: Prophecy/Future

From: Nick Brooke (
Date: Fri 29 May 1998 - 08:25:34 EEST

Steve asks an old 'un:

> What is the status of Prophecy? and as a related question, how widely
> is the doctrine that Gods can't know the future spread? It seems to me
> that if no one, not even the gods, can see the future, then prophecy
> wouldn't get the same respect it does in the real world... How does
> prophecy get any respect if people know that even God doesn't have a
> clue what's going to happen next season?

Prophecy is about plans, intentions, and recurrences. It need not involve
"foretelling the future". Your mother could prophesy, "You're going to be in

big trouble when your father gets home"; or, "If you don't wrap up warm,
you'll catch your death of cold." While your priest could prophesy, "Orlanth
will smite the unrighteous with his impests and wind fists"; or, "Unless all
true Sartarites worship Orlanth Lightbringer, the Voice of the Storm will be
forever stilled."

The modern and misleading belief that prophecy is "foretelling the future"
needs to be nipped in the bud. Instead, it is a predictive statement, based
on the nature and (if you think they have such things) the intentions of the
god concerned. Prophecy tends to be conditional ("Unless you do such and
such, this bad thing will happen") or exhortative ("If you act thus and so,
this good thing will happen"), rather than purely predictive ("This thing
will happen, regardless").

And, of course, prophecy is subjective. Like Zzabur's "map of the future"
(ho ho), it represents one side's preferred (or feared) outcome. By stating
a prophecy, a priest or oracle or visionary intends to change the way his
people behave -- if they don't pull their socks up and (stop being bad /
start being good / pay attention to his warning), terrible things will
happen -- or wonderful things won't.


"Glorantha" surely means "all of Glorantha", not just "the Inner World of
Glorantha". Or are the Spirit Plane, Hero Plane and God Plane "not parts of
Glorantha"? (A bizarre notion).

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