Heortling Odaylans

From: John Hughes (nysalor@primus.com.au)
Date: Mon 06 Mar 2000 - 01:12:39 EET


Heys Folks

DARVALL'S ODAYLAN SUGGESTIONS

"A great hunter can track birds across the sky. Even the air leaves tracks.
Every act has meaning. That's what tracking is all about."

Braggi Afraid-of-the-Dark.
Lagerwater Stead. Canistame, 1623.

Darvall on hunters (30 Jan):

Thanks for the post! I did get to it eventually, and found much good stuff
to chew on.

>I wrote this stuff in order to give my hunter's a more wilderness centred
>approach to their lives. The conditions on the gifts are not meant to be
>geasa but more a growth from the hunter's intimate contact with the wild &
>the goddess of same. Having experienced some of these feelings (albeit to a
>lesser degree) on returning from extended periods out bush I felt they
> could form a basis for weird Odaylan behaviour.

Like Darvall, my love of wilderness stems from long weeks in the aussie
bush - all this euro-siberian oak and otter stuff is pretty alien to me
personally. Which is perhaps why we both find it so compulsive...

Our experiences help to ground it of course. Talk all you like about
surrendering to mystical oneness and the nobility of solitude, but also
remember the cold and damp that gets in your bones and just won't go away,
the insect bites, the way it *feels* to sleep on the ground, the effect
that all that *space* and silence and darkness can have on you, (mystical -
maybe, scary - you bet!) and the uncertain pleasures of campfire cooking.
Did I mention the way your companions all start to smell? And the longing
for decent toilet paper?

Glorantha being essentially a twentieth century suburban myth, our concept
of hunters and hunting therein tends to reflect twentieth century suburban
mythology about wilderness and hunting, with all the clustered associations
of 'Man the Hunter', independence, mastery, and solitude. It tends to
ignore the distinctly unglamorous ethnographic reality of women and
children bringing in 85-95% of the food in plants and small game, the
chronic unreliability of big game hunting, the reliance on carrion
scavenging from kills by other predators, and the complex and far-ranging
interrelationships between hunting bands, settled communities and cities. I
have no problems with this romanticisation, in fact its a mythology that is
personally very appealing - but I do like to remind myself of it before
jumping in.

Tricksterian factoid: in the archaeological record, wars begin around the
same time megafauna (BIG big game) are finally hunted to extinction.
(Ehrenreich again).

Some responses to Darvall's post ...

I should note that Darvall and I are talking about Far Place Odaylans and a
particular mythology of the Animal Twin heroes shared in Questlines I. Not
all that follows will be applicable to other Heortling hunters. And some of
my thoughts simply result from me approaching the mechanisms from a
different direction to Darvall.

I stumbled a little over the proper name 'Tara' for the Lady of the Wild,
it already being an Irish ceremonial centre, a Hindu tantric goddess and a
whole wondrous, delightful group of Tibetan bodhisattvas, in varieties
blue, green red and black. I coarsened the vowels till it sounded like
'Daaara' and it no longer jolted.

> As mother /protector/
>hunter of all wild creatures she both provides the hunters' prey & preys
>apon them. The act of hunting brings a mortal into her domain more surely
>than any other.

So cult membership is part active worship and part surrender to a reality
too big to be ordered or controlled. And part cold opportunism.

> Unlike the various domestic activities, herding, berrying
>etc, hunting is always part spirit quest & so hunters attract more of her
>attention. The various rituals involved with hunting are as often as not
>aimed at Tara with her son interceding on the part of the hunters.

I like this. She is raw nature: it is Odayla that sympathises with the
clans and their way of life. She is wilful and capricious: attempt to
placate her at your peril.

(I often also feel this way about both Orlanth and Ernalda, you love 'em
and worship them, but they're just far too BIG to understand, their raw
power can burn you away if you're not very careful in the rituals. Godis
and god-talkers risk madness in a very cthulhoid way. And these are *your*
deities, not enemy gods!)

>Any meeting with Tara is a mystical
>event, although Taran mystics have low life expectancies.

Yip. Isolation takes its own toll. Many LotW mystics would become liminal
even to the hunting folk, becoming as beasts. There is a strong correlation
right across Heortling culture between solitude, mystical experience,
arcane power and wacko off-ya-face high strangeness/madness. Heort taught
that solitude is for the outlaw, holy person and madman - all liminal and
dangerous categories - and no doubt labels that often conflate together.

Like King Sweeney in the Irish 'Buile Shuibhne Geilt' (translated by Seamus
Heaney as 'Sweeney Astray') they would be partly delighting in the
participation of Oneness, and partly self-pitying at the constant physical
discomfort, degradation and isolation from kin. Most hunters would clearly
see the dangers of too close a participation.

One thing I really liked with your effects was the way you wove the
distribution and eating of the kill into sources of power. Most hunting
groups have strict laws about who gets what part of a kill. In my play, it
is also part of a strong general hunters 'cannibalism' taboo that extends
to bans on chewing nails or sucking a cut finger. Identification with

animal totems and beast tribes is strong, so strong that totemic
'cannibalism' becomes a serious worry.

>Share of Blood Meal

I'd deal with this sort of identification long-term by using personal totem
animals, and extending it with personal taboos and animal mimicries.
Semi-hsunchen, if you like.

- -
>Wolf' Portion Tara takes all the guts & the hunter becomes impervious
>to all but the coldest weather (-5c & below) & all normal insects ignore
>him. The hunter then finds normal clothing, ie shirt & trews, unbearable if
>the temperature climbs above 0c hence they generally
>get about in kilts.

Tovtaros Odaylans have their famous cloaks. Famous for the elaborately
decorated geometric marns that adorn the outer shoulder cloak, and famous
because they keep them warm even when sluicing about in Dark Season
snowdrifts. In their case its one of the two common personal heroquests:
the cloak being woven by Warm Mud Woman if you bring her the right gifts of
game and correctly answer her riddles. The other (more dangerous) quest is
the escape from FourTooth Rend, a troll mountain spirit with a *big*
appetite. Success in that quest grants the ability to walk trackless
through snow, and is the source of the elaborate foot tattoos that give the
Bluefoot Orlanthi their name.

>Bear's Portion Tara takes the whole kill. In return she gifts the
>hunter with the bear's ability to slay. Any strike the hunter makes
>against natural prey (ie in season) is lethal. As the hunter can kill using
>the simplest of weapons metal is eschewed even to the point of use as
>ornament or armour. NB this ability can only be used on such animals as are
>in season,it can be used on humans from the start of Harmony / Earth to the
>end of Harmony / Storm as this is Man season.

As discussed in previous posts on hunters, I tend to play Odaylans as being
anti-metal anyway, out of a general mind-set that the best place to carry a
tool is in your head. 'The gors provide'.

>Yinkin's Meal The hunter shares the kill with Tara. Both eat the
>prey raw on site staying til it is finished. This imbues the hunter with
>the stamina to run down any prey. Thus this is what they do shunning all
>missile weapons.

The difference between Raw and Cooked is a pretty basic taboo line about
being 'cultural' i.e. 'human'. This would be dangerous, with a chance of
being claimed by The Lady.

>Stag's Portion Sex. Regardless of the gender any sex with Tara
>results in a child wrapped in leaves & hair appearing at the hunter's
>stead 2-3 seasons later. This child will either be a great hunter or a
>wild priest of Tara. In addition the hunter conceives a great longing for
>the Lady of the Wild which outshines all mortals. This can be broken by
>moving to another land. The fornication brings out or heightens the
>hunter's dominance. The hunter will lead any group
>of which they are a part. This may result in challenges from other dominant
>individuals & ends when the hunter is decisively beaten.

I'd regard the birth of any divine child as major heroquest material. Once
again, you spell out clearly the risk of obsession and madness when messing
with the Lady. I'm not sure a hunter *could* go to another land for any
extended period, they share soul with their tula in some basic physical sense.

>Gargath lottery Tara hunts the mortal through the forest. If he
>escapes the experience tunes him to flight. Nothing can catch him in the
>wild. All ambushes are detected & enemies noticed on aproach through an
>attunement to the nature of both animal behaviour & that of wild
>spirits.Subsequently he can't bear to pursue an animal with an alynx.

Again, a majorish heroquest. Give us the myth!

>Twinson's Fate The hunter is sacrificed on the Wild Altar. This
>confirms the old pact that ended the tearing claw. Any hunters related to
>the sacrifice are blessed with a 15% better chance of success

A desperate act for desperate times.

>Deed of blood The hunter sacrifices a specific creature to Tara &
>bathes in its blood. This permanently removes the hunter's scent but heated
>water always acts as an uncomfortable reminder of the ritual. Thus the
>hunter chooses to bathe in rivers or rainfall.

Sweat lodges aside, I'd think immersion in hot water baths would be pretty
foreign to most Odaylans.

>Bewilder The hunter must cause some ploughed land to return
>to wilderness. This imposes a connection to the local flora enabling the
>hunter to feel changes in the local forest making it easier to locate the
>best food sources & hence the best prey. Loss of this connection, as when
>the hunter is inside a house, is uncomfortable at first rising to
>unbearable the longer the lack of contact is maintained.

The first part of this to me is either clan politics (given that hunting
lands are part of the tula) or aldryami-type terrorism. The second part is
pure psychology, and similar to effects fairly common in earthly tribal
experience. I'm not sure why B should be contingent on A.

>Taboo The hunter can judge the success of the hunt, the
>weather, coming battle, lawsuit, or other matters from the behaviour of a
>single species. Only one matter can be judged per species but the hunter
>will not harm the messenger species.

Ahhh, animal symbolism. Divination, Solara's web of wyrd. An *enormous* topic.

Cheers

John

___________________________________________________________
nysalor@primus.com.au John Hughes
johnp.hughes@dva.gov.au

 ... a flying arrow, a crashing wave, night old ice,
a coiled snake, a bride's bed talk, a broken sword,
the play of bears, a king's son.

                                           Havamal 86.

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