Re: The Glorantha Digest V7 #461

From: aelarsen@facstaff.wisc.edu
Date: Tue 14 Mar 2000 - 18:10:10 EET


>From: John Hughes <nysalor@primus.com.au>
>Subject: Heortling Food, Drink & Famine

        Interesting stuff. I liked a lot of it.

>The cycle of farm labour is difficult and constant, and periods of both
>feast and famine are part of the yearly cycle. The abundance of wilderness
>resources protects Upland Far Walkers somewhat from the threat of crop
>failure, but even so periods of famine do occur and are greatly feared....

        This reminded me of an interesting phenomenon which seems to have
occurred with some frequency during the Middle Ages, at least according to
one hypothesis. In the late winter, temporary malnutrition seems to have
been a problem for many peasants. Lacking any easy way to preserve fruits
and vegetables, by the end of the winter, many people had gone for several
months with no fresh or preserved produce of any kind, which resulted in a
variety of temporary malnutrition-related medical problems, including
things like land scurvy and a type of temporary blindness known medically
as winter blindness.
        Now, these peasants have no way to know that these conditions are
temporary, and late winter/early spring is not a bad time for travel, since
the weater is usually mild and there isn't much agricultural work that can
be done yet. Thus, in reaction to these medical problems, the peasants
often went on pilgrimage to a shrine seeking healing. They prayed to the
saint for healing and then went home. By this time, some of the early
spring fruit was beginning to appear and their nutrition would begin to
improve, resulting in relief from the afflicition. The gums stop bleeding
or vision returns. Naturally, the peasants attribute this to the saint's
intervention, and the saint racks up another miracle.
        Given our vigorous discussion of food and food supply, it occurs to
me that these temporary nutritional problems may also occur for the
Orlanthi. Presumably it has more to do with disease spirits that are
particularly abroad during Dark and Storm Season, but there are probably a
lot of pilgrimages to the healing shrines of Chalana Arroy during Storm
Season and early Sea Season.

Andrew E. Larsen

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