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Argrath's Saga

As was his way, Argrath did not do what everybody expected him to do. He did not wish to hazard the lives of all the best beings of body and spirit against the gods of entropy, as if this was another Battle of Doom. Instead, Argrath called upon all the powers of his left hand, which he had used only once. With whomever would help from each direction he did the Dragon Move, and in that way called into his presence Shakharzeel, which was promised freedom in return for its honest and true assistance.

Shakharzeel then shared with all beings which were present the secret of the ceremonial utuma, and there came into being from the ends of the universe the Seven Dragons. Then Argrath gave them their instructions...

[exciting description of the destruction of the physical Red Moon by draconic forces omitted]

The shape of the world was changed. The way that nature works was changed. The way that men and women relate to the world was different. The way that the gods and mortals communicated was altered.

This is the thing that Argrath did, to serve his people, to shape his god, and to make the world a better place for us.

Hail Argrath! Bless us!

- King of Sartar, p.38f

The northern, pro-Lunar manuscript of Argrath's Saga concludes with a scrawl in a different hand: "So they say. But it's still here! And now it's invisible instead!" So the key to the "destruction of the Red Moon" is the secret of the ceremonial utuma, whatever that may be. To find out, I turn to:

The Dragonewt Creation Myth

First was Chaos. Within the infinite realms of Chaos, the Empty Void, lay the Power of Disorder. Deep in the heart of Chaos the Disorder stirred, and within its stirrings was formed a sleeping egg.

The egg hatched, and out crawled the Grand Ancestral Dragon. It sat and meditated within the Silent World, planning its growth. The halves of the eggshell were made into the servants of the Grand Ancestral Dragon, and they were called Inside and Outside.

The mild waves of Disorder lapped back from the Void and the Oozing Chaos was born, returning now to thwart Creation and reclaim its own to the Void. The first sluggish waves of Chaos burbled at the feet of the meditating Dragon, interrupting perfect plans. To combat the distraction the Grand Ancestral Dragon took the Disorder Power and used it upon the Chaos. This made a new Power, which drove off the Chaos and held it at bay. This was the race of Darkness, formed from the feet of the Dragon.

When its meditations were complete the Grand Ancestral Dragon cut open its loins and from the blood that ran forth was born the power of the Oceans, seas, and all liquid things.

From its belly the Dragon created the power of the Earth and all things which lay within it.

From the head of the Dragon came the fiery beings which are the Sky and the Aetheric powers, and each of the Dragon's eyes became a noble god of that realm.

The brains of the Grand Ancestral Dragon, hidden deep inside and outside the worlds, hatched secretly among the fledgling races of immortals. These were the Ancestral Dragons, wise teachers of deities, who met once for a mating dance in the place now called Dragon Pass. They completed their mysterious dance, laid the first dragon eggs, and disappeared from the world.

- Wyrms Footnotes #4 and #14, Wyrms Footprints p.33

The myth is footnoted as follows in the article on the Dragon Pantheon, Wyrms Footnotes #14.

This dismemberment, called utuma in dragonewt philosophy, is the result of the Grand Ancestral Dragon's willingness to accept the duty of entanglements which his actions had brought about and resulted in his full integration into the world. By dying he re-entered the world to fulfill his duties. To have done otherwise would have resulted in a fatal weakness which would have destroyed the basis for draconic existence.

So, the secret of the ceremonial utuma appears to be that it is a voluntary act of ceremonial suicide by self-dismemberment, which fully integrates the participant into the world. If we rewrite the note above for the Red Goddess at the end of the Third Age:

This dismemberment was the result of the Red Goddess's willingness to accept the duty of entanglements which her actions had brought about, and resulted in her full integration into the world. By dying she re-entered the world to fulfill her duties. To have done otherwise would have resulted in a fatal weakness which would have destroyed the basis for Lunar existence.

But this should come as no surprise. The Lunars know that the Lunar Empire is just a transitional stage en route to the healed Lunar Cosmos, an 'incubator' or 'egg' for the Lunar Way. And the Orlanthi have always "defeated" their vilest enemies by making them into an integral part of the fabric of the world: remember the Ritual of the Net, where the Great Compromise which recreated the world is sworn upon Time, the son of Kajabor and Arachne Solara, Entropic Chaos and Nature, who is the omnipotent ruling god of the new world-age of History.

The Ritual of the Net

[Arachne Solara's] child is the Pledge of the Gods, and all of existence swore upon it to uphold their agreements... This is called the Great Compromise or the Immortal Pact, and it is the oath which recreated the world...

Arachne Solara stood upon the Gate of Time and cast her net across the universe, catching each surviving thing and binding it into the new world. Her child was born then, concealed by the net and protected by the strands. The child was called Time. The gods marched across the barren world, bringing warmth, light and flower to awed survivors. The new world was created. Time reigned. History began.

- Cults of Terror, King of Sartar, Wyrms Footprints

A bit more background:


In God-time, Kajabor was slain by Wakboth and went to Hell where he confronted the last of the gods, massed in their final stronghold. Arachne Solara there enmeshed him, wrapped him in her legs and struggled mightily, and at last devoured him alive. The resulting combination of entropy and existence synthesised into the god Time, who rules the cosmos. [1]

- Prosopaedia, in Gods of Glorantha


Time is nowhere worshipped as a deity, but almost everyone acknowledges its omnipotence. Before the advent of Time the divinities were free of constraints and acted as they wished. These actions destroyed the world, which was saved only when Arachne Solara arranged the cosmos, devoured chaos, and gave birth to Time. The Red Goddess, reborn within recent history, sometimes claims to have special powers of Time, but such boasts have never been backed by action.

- Prosopaedia, in Gods of Glorantha

So the Orlanthi defeat Chaos by making an entropic god into the omnipotent ruling deity of the Cosmos, eh? And in the Third Age they defeat the Red Goddess in a suspiciously set-up manner: the Lunars planned it; the inscrutable, unfathomable Dragons executed it; and even one of the versions of Argrath's Saga ends its account of the destruction of the Red Moon, "But it's still here! And now it's invisible instead!"

The Zin Letters

Finally, the Fourth Age Zin Letters (in King of Sartar) include a page of interesting speculations on What Happened to the Moon. Without going into too much detail, the author's own preferred explanation is:

It was destroyed, but only in form. Although the physical body of the Red Goddess was destroyed, the spirit is eternal and lives on. In fact, say Lunar thinkers, such was planned. The goddess simply went the next step in her divine liberating style. I myself favour [this explanation], of course, since the world certainly seems worse of late than it was in the old stories, without any silly old moon in the sky to make it worse.

Food for thought, eh? (Any Orlanthi out there: ever feel you've been had?)

[1] Given my Freudian Lodril theories, you can guess how I'll interpret a spider-goddess who "wraps someone in her legs and struggles mightily, then devours him alive." King of Sartar's account of the Ritual of the Net is even more blatant: "She wrapped the Chaos god in her legs and her web, and with every orifice she sucked everything out of the Devil and filled herself with it." Yuk.

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