Re:Digest V7 #88 initiations

From: Alex Ferguson (abf@cs.ucc.ie)
Date: Thu 23 Sep 1999 - 04:21:27 EEST


Bob Stancliff:
> The opinion was presented on the RQ rules list, that true pantheon
> initiation is what was intended when the 7 Mothers cult was written up...
> everyone joins the 7 Mothers pantheon and the advanced members specialize
> at a later date.

Not sure I'd describe 7M as a 'pantheon', though to a degree this
approximates the truth in the Provinces, I guess. At least, Provincial
Church and 'Seven Mothers Cult' seems essentially synonymous.

> For Orlanthi, this is not quite the case. It would be better to
describe
> Orlanthi as being lay members of all the pantheonic cults that they are
> willing to attend services for, but most actually join one or two cults as
> initiates, especially since initiation is a rite of passage to adulthood
> in barbaric and primitive cultures. The cult write-ups could use some
> discussion of lay member obligations and favors.

No, this is in part confusing, and in part, incorrect.

The 'Initiation' into adulthood for the Orlanthi is not into a 'cult'
in the RQ sense, but into the whole 'religion', or if you prefer,
into the 'Ernaldan' and 'Orlanthi' halves thereof. This initiation
doesn't determine, though doubtless considerably influences, which
'cult' you later join. So, in RQ terms, you'd at this point be a
little like a lay member of every cult your clan has: but I think
it's these days recognised that 'RQ terms' aren't a perfect model.

In think there's some terminological unclarity here, which as it's
Greg's mess, I'll hope he'll mop up in due course. But without
wanting to pre-empt him here, the impression I get is that there
are two _different_ things that the phrase 'initiation to Orlanth'
could mean. In the first sense, and as Pam says (congrats on the
new modem and posting policy; bring back the doggie sig, sez I
(alynxes ate it, I betcha)) it means becoming a male (or, male role?
not 100% clear) adult. This also has copious religious and magical
significance, but it's _not_ much like joining "Orlanth Adventurous"
or whichever other aspect, as I understand it. (Though since it'll be
primarily descibed in a different rules system, differences may be
some obscured.)

In essence, you're being initiated into 'Orlanth as cultural deity'.
You're now an adult male, can do everything (magical and mundane)
that all Orlanthi males can, and you can now worship in a pantheon
manner all the gods. Within the broad Orlanth religion you can
obtain magic to do all the 'normal' activities. If you want (or,
'are called to', perhaps) a more particular niche, this may involve
a separate, different 'type' of "initiation", which may be less formal
or even not formalised at all, and is certainly quite different
from your adulthood initiation. This could be into either a different
god of the pantheon, _or into an aspect of Orlanth_. This latter
sense of initiation is the context in which I've heard the terms
'devotion' and 'devotee' banded about, and this sort of relationship
with the divine being of a somewhat more 'animist' character than
normal 'pure theism'. (Depends what you call 'normal', says I...)

Disclaimer: am presenting this by no means as gospel, and am hoping
merely to have avoided the broad category of 'complete rubbish'.
If I've absorbed the thoughts of anyone else told to me that they
didn't wish to stand by/in confidence/when very, very drunk at the time,
I hope they're not offended at any regurgitation of same.

Slan,
Alex.

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