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When you worship, do you see the myths?
Yes, if you are an initiate (cf. King of Sartar's "Report on the Orlanthi"). The uninitiated see a bunch of weirdoes in strange costumes acting out something from an old script, usually rather badly (and with extremely dodgy use of Stormspeech, etc.).
The cultists and priests and temples put lots of work ahead of time into preparations for their ritual ceremonies (constructing and preparing costumes, masks, ritual paraphernalia, etc.), and on the day they see the Real Thing, not the abstraction they created. This is the interface between the Material world (perishable, measurable, mundane, etc.) and the Mythic (eternal, infinite, magnificent, etc.), a Lunar scholar might say.
By making a donkey costume for your small child to wear on the Seven Mothers High Holy Day, you create an image or semblance of "donkeyness", which is ready to be inhabited by an archetypal Donkey Avatar at the right time and place. Your child sings the Donkey Song as well as she can learn it, and by doing so she assists in invoking the mystical Music of the Spheres, which was heard at the original Song of the Animals, in 1220 ST at the rebirth of the Red Goddess.
You know you made the costume yourself from odds and ends of scrap cloth; you know that your child is wearing it; you suffered through weeks while they practiced the song at home. But on the day, in the Temple, you see a Donkey and hear the Song of the Animals.
If someone was HQing in the myth you're looking at, would you see them?
This would normally represent a tanked-up heroquester gate-crashing someone else's rituals. You might see them as their mundane selves, or as mythical approximations -- either their own, or else your equivalents. Thus, if Orlanthi rebels attacked the Red Emperor while a Yelmic court ritual was in progress, they would appear to be Rebellus Terminus. (In fact, if Lunar Dart Warriors did so, they would probably appear similar -- or else everyone watching would "realise" that Johnny Reb isn't necessarily a barbarian usurper, but can be any destroyer of Divine Order).
The issue isn't so much who the intruding HQer actually is, as whether they're doing fits your myth. And remember that in a temple on a holy day, your own cult's magic and mythic reality are much stronger than at other times and places. It's possible to coerce enemies into acting the way they're expected to, simply because of the ineluctible grip of the expected outcome. (If you like, a gate-crasher "takes on" the role of an appropriate mythic opponent, willy-nilly, in just the same way as the childrens' choir become avatars of the singing animals).
When you worship, do you affect the myths?
Could you ever come across someone HQing in normal Glorantha?
Absolutely, yes. Cf. Rurik in the Zorak Zoran chapter of Cults of Prax (on the Issaries, Inc. website, one of Biturian Varosh's last dispatches). Also one of my favourite aspects of Glorantha. The HQer is on the otherworld, meeting river nymphs, redeeming ancient vows to perform the River Ritual; in the real world, we see (with mundane eyes) an extremely overheated man wearing heavy gilt armour, thrashing around in the waters of the Zola Fel.
If the myth they're HQing in involves some place which exists now, would you see them at it if you were there in person?
Possibly, but that's not strictly necessary. The Hero Plane's geography is different enough to that of the mundane Inner World that similarities, congruences, essential samenesses are enough to invoke it. Thus, you don't have to be at the Hill of Gold (near Bikhy, in Vanch) to find Elmali, Yelmalion, Shargashi, Orlanthi, Inoran and Zorak Zorani heroquesters acting funny on hillsides. (But it helps). Likewise, the Six Stones ritual can happen wherever you find Six (appropriate) Stones; the Hill of Umath's Camp is close at hand, wherever your tribal tradition says it was; just as Camelot tends to be located in amateur Arthurian scholars' own post-code region. (Thanks to Jeff for the parallel).
Would you be sucked into the Hero Plane?
Odd question. It coexists with the Inner World, to some degree. Are you "sucked into the Spirit Plane" when you engage in spirit combat? Are you "sucked into the God Plane" when you worship at your temple? If you can answer those two questions, then try this latest addition to the corpus.
If someone HQs a myth which represents something which happened in the past in normal Glorantha, could they change history or geography?
No, of course not. They would simply be "getting it wrong". Within their own community of worshippers, they might gain different magical powers (i.e. they would bring through a "different" version of the otherworld, from their warped perversion of it, into the established Glorantha we all share) -- like, say, Yelmalio HQers regaining Fire powers, or Yanafal Tarnils becoming a self-resurrecting Humakti.
But remember that we're talking about someone powerful abusing their community's backing and the position of mythic trust they hold, choosing deliberately to pervert the correct outcome of a mythic event and present this falsehood to their trusting followers. This is not very moral, in my opinion -- you could compare it to nationalist/racist archaeology (cf. Nazi Germany or indeed the BJP in India today), or Orwell's "Ministry of Truth"with its ongoing revision of history, or, stuff it, to almost any form of demagogic disinformation.
You can try the Big Lie in Glorantha, and excite and empower your followers that way, but that doesn't make it true. Or nice.
Aren't all myths ultimately just a bunch of stories made up by different cultures?
Theistic thinking follows:
Lions (and Lion People) exist. Ergo, a god of lions exists. Let's call it Basmol (or Basmola, or some other name in different cultures).
Lions are big and fierce and scary, and they eat people. This is a Bad Thing.
When we know about Bad Things happening, we get our gods and heroes to help out. We learn how they dealt with the Bad Thing, and apply those lessons in our own daily lives.
Ergo, cultures which live near lions will have stories about gods and heroes who have fought and killed lions.
Cultures which live near lions and don't, will be eaten by lions.
Lion People worship the god of lions. (Let's call it Basmol).
They get to be bigger and fiercer and more scary by summoning up the powers of their god. They also eat people, because their god does.
People who live near them think this is a Bad Thing. But the Lion People don't care: they just cast the divine magics that make them into Big and Fierce and Scary avatars of the Lion God, and go around killing people and eating them. Because they can.
Until, some day, they get beaten for the first time. By a big tough hero, or a small wily hero, or a hero dressed in a lionskin, or a hero wielding a thunderbolt, or whatever variant suits.
Thereafter, this kind of thing happens more and more often.
The Lion People know that their most perfect embodiment of Basmol has been defeated by the local victims.
The local victims know that they can beat the Lion People.
We add another myth to the corpus.
Did anyone "make something up"? No: the culture hero (or god) did defeat a Lion, and the Lion in question was a really tough one embodying all of the powers the Lion God gives his worshippers. These people can beat lions. They tell the story in order to preserve knowledge of how to beat lions.
Is it "the same lion god" who's killed by all of these different culture heroes? Of course not: any more than "the same first animal" is killed by "the same first hunter" all around the world.
Is it necessary that the lion god be defeated by his opponents? Well, can you think of any cultures today which live in mortal fear of being destroyed by invading lions? I think not. Cultures that don't have a "we overcame the lion god" story are rather pathetic, and may not survive; those that do take this early step towards civilisation are the successful ones we see today.
Consider: Balazarings are still working on beating sabretooth tigers and cave bears. Anyone particularly impressed by the Balazarings? Thought not...
Don't HeroQuesters just keep on performing quests their god lost, until they win?
After nigh-on 2,000 years of Christianity, surely nobody believes the Son of God was nailed up in Judaea any more? That would make him a "Loser"! Likewise, surely no Malkioni celebrate Hrestol's Martyrdom; nor do Yelmalions admire the steadfast endurance and obedience of their glorious deity. Orlanthi have entirely forgotten their god's contrition, responsibility and ordeals; Yelm-worshippers quietly ignore the "Underworld bit" of their mythology...
This sounds utterly spurious to me. There is more in life (and myth) than "Winner" Quests and "Loser" Quests. (Though if Gloranthan mythology were a beat-em-up computer game for the Sony Playstation, maybe this wouldn't be so).
Glorantha, HeroQuest, Hero Wars, and Issaries are trademarks of Issaries, Inc. The contents of this page are copyright by Nick Brooke , 2002; any material derived from Greg Stafford's world of Glorantha is also copyright by Greg Stafford. Glorantha is the creation of Greg Stafford, and is used with his permission.