En gång för många år sedan gjorde vi en HeroQuest och mötte Greg Stafford. Han satt ner, tog sig tid, lyssnade och berättade. Texten nedan är förordet till Cults of RuneQuest: Mythology. Ett av mina starka minner är at han med emfas hävdade ”Your Glorantha Will Vary” – YGWY – det blir vad vi väljer att göra det till. Det är en lång text men en regnig dag när det regnar och stormar ute kanske du vill läsa den.

GOD LEARNER CERTIFICATE
GOD LEARNER CERTIFICATE

Your Glorantha Will Vary

Dancing Women Maran Gor tej The Earth Shaker Maran Gor is the goddess of the Earthquake. She represents the destructive side of the Earth Mother
Dancing Women Maran Gor tej The Earth Shaker Maran Gor is the goddess of the Earthquake. She represents the destructive side of the Earth Mother

This book is not for everyone. It is for those who wish to lead decent lives, with a modicum of happiness and peace. We wish good for ourselves, our family, and for the world at large.

You, curious scholar, are probably an urbanite, educated among your contemporaries, with a decent and reliable source of income. Many of you have children or will sometime. You may live within a week of travel from where you were born, although there is a good chance you live near where you were educated. You probably have met people of many social classes, including some petty nobles during your education.

Jar-eel, Harrek the Berserk, and Argrath
Jar-eel, Harrek the Berserk, and Argrath

You probably attend important local festivals, wear the masks, sing the songs, and tithe to the temple. You probably know the Seven Lightbringers and two or three of the Enemy Gods, but don’t admit to the latter. You know the stories: how the Old Gods made the world, how their children made the humans, how Orlanth and Ernalda made the world right for humans and gods, and how the Unholy Trio brought evil to the world and corrupted it all.

Battle of Castle Blue
Battle of Castle Blue

Then, as we have all learned, Orlanth brought back Life from Death, freed the gods, and initiated the cosmic events wherein we were freed from our bondage and misery into the world of Time. Finally, the gods made the Cosmic Compromise, saving the universe but starting the division between Time and the Divine.

These are known to everyone. They are the Folk Tales of Truth. They begin our education and are our stepping-off places to find the Mythic Truth promised by Grandmother Spider.

Searching for Truth

Empire of Wyrm's Friends
Empire of Wyrm’s Friends

Mythic Truth is what we seek, but we cannot focus upon it any more than we can upon peripherumbars. However, we can focus upon portions.

In fact, we can only focus on portions. In storytelling, we inevitably focus upon parts. Our minds cannot accommodate everything in the world, for we are small, and the world is large.

Hero Wars battles in Dragon Pass
Hero Wars battles in Dragon Pass

Nor would we want to, for the world changes slowly, and we are fast creatures, here only a short time. There is always some piece of action to which we concentrate our attention. So, we listen to the tale, by bits, and learn of that single thread.

True stories are made to be retold. The retelling is where we discover the depth. By retelling the stories, or rereading them as we modern folk do, we learn more of the whole world by being distracted from initial impressions. We look about inside the tale, often seeing something which we did not see before.

Gagix Two-Barb, the Scorpion Queen of Jab entertains Lunar emmisaries
Gagix Two-Barb, the Scorpion Queen of Jab entertains Lunar emmisaries

This allows us to know more about the world there, even if it is only to know that we need not look back to that corner. This way we learn background, framework, and atmosphere. This is the accumulation of wisdom, which can only be gained over time.

Myths always include us as characters. While just listening to myths or legends, after a while, we will recognize portions of ourselves in the stories. Perhaps you will be an obscure figure standing among a crowd, one of the nameless casualties of a hero’s murderous rage, or even the victim of some meaningless accident, but little by little, we discover ourselves in any true myth. In this way, we experience what we could not even imagine before.

Smoking Ruins på avstånd
Smoking Ruins på avstånd

This interaction of imagination and mythology is our interface with the Other Side. It is the way we prepare for those moments when the nonphysical world intrudes itself upon our lives. These times are the most horrible and fearful that most people know. It could be when the bandit tries to break your skull, when the taxman sees through the wall to your silver, or when your baby is born, bloody and squalling in protest.

Or perhaps not. When someone dies, the spirits come to our houses. When your loved ones perish, the spirits enter your guts. If you have never felt this before, you will be helpless. If you have already ventured into the invisible world, where these spirits live, then it will bearable.

Perhaps none of these convince you, so consider the frightful question: what will you do when you die? This is the foundation of religion. Piety preserves us.

Religions train us for survival. We learn the stories, glean their wisdom, and participate in ceremony and ritual. Sometimes, we do this to prevail, but most often, we do this to survive.

Battle of Castle Blue
Battle of Castle Blue

We see proof in the stories of heroes and rulers of our people. There were many, whose names we remember, experts at recovering in the face of disaster. At the dawn of Time when the demon Gbaji invaded the world, all were terrified and helpless, but Harmast Barefoot and Arkat were not. They prevailed, saving the world. And in our lifetimes, even the mighty Red Emperor was halted by Argrath. He mastered the Animal Nomads and used the dragon’s secrets against the Emperor.

These heroes, and many between them, prevailed because they were experienced in dealing with the Other Side. And as we all know, what Harmast Barefoot could do, anyone can do.

We are lesser, and expect less of ourselves, but we can achieve greatness if we lead good and pious lives.

Books

Long ago, elders were the sole repositories of wisdom. They could not write, but we can, and learn many important facts before our elders could. Back then, when they learned those things, they would have already known how to discriminate between the three types of myths they were exposed to.

We, who can read, do not acquire wisdom over time.

Instead, we take the shortest path to Knowledge. (Hopefully, you are not one of the fools who mistake knowledge for wisdom. A balanced person looks forward to the ripening of their years and the wisdom they may acquire. However, it’s most likely that few readers of this book are Blinkers; no closed mind would have read thus far.)

Knowledge is accumulated facts and information. We discuss only knowledge and mythology here. Knowledge is what this book contains. It does not have the experience required to attain wisdom. Nonetheless, it can provide you with access to wisdom by spreading forth a lifetime of stories to peruse and make your own, deciding where in the story you’d like to begin, which parts to delve into, and which to ignore.

Today, in modern times, we experience a vast diversity of peoples and cultures who have gathered here, drawn by the wealth, peace, and well-being of our land. Each brings their own stories and tales of the ancient days. Many are lies, however. Many are inappropriate for most of us. So, we must choose carefully if we wish to progress spiritually and obtain our eternal bliss among the gods and ancestors.

The Important Facts

As you read these stories, you should recognize several things:

1. Myths Only Make Sense Within Themselves.

They are definers of a closed system and often do not make sense to outside observation. Once it is experienced within the system, and only then, does everything make sense.

2. There Are Different Types of Myth.

We categorize three different types of myth:

Folk Tales

These were mentioned before and are most known. They are stories that anyone can learn, talk about, change, and restate in any manner they choose. They are for entertainment.

Although they often draw upon other (more sacred) tales, they are not to be considered a reliable source of mythological information unless verified by other, deeper, sources.

The heroes of these tales are often nameless, having a title instead of a specific identity. Likewise, the places are figurative rather than specific. Finally, the creatures and oppositions are likely to be either allegorical or imaginary.

When deities wear this type of mask, it is like the masks worn on the Day of the Dead, when everyone disguises themselves and visits neighbors to receive gifts for good luck.

There are no ceremonies associated with this type of story (unless the casual family hearth chat or the company of the drinking house is considered ceremonial). Although they contain the potential to be considered, they usually lack the sacrifice necessary to fulfill a real magical or religious function.

Legends

Legends refer to the stories of our historical events. They record what our ancestors and ancient lawmakers did to make our world the way it is today.

The heroes of these tales are well known to us, or at least they were famous to our ancestors. We all know about Harmast, Arkat, and Gorangi Vak, but some heroes are so ancient that we bypass their tales without the slightest realization. Who now questions whether we should use plow to cut the earth? Thus, we accept the ancient tale of Barntar, who made the first plow amidst great local opposition and personal anxiety. We have other more pressing, and modern, issues at hand.

Some of these ancient legends are moral, instructing us on proper behavior. Some of them are political. Some are magical, showing us how to obtain the magical powers of these heroes.

Many legends include all these themes within a single story.

All legends take part in two realms. First are the historic sites where the heroes lived and died—the places where their ancient actions were performed and where we can still go to partake of their creative magic.

The other realms of legend are the places on the Hero Plane where these mortals interacted with the gods. Although the vast and inhuman cosmos seems unchangeable, there are places where the world was altered. These are the realms outside of ordinary reality where mortal beings changed the fabric of the Universe. These legendary places can only be activated through unique—and profound—interaction.

Ceremonies for legendary heroes are often of a social or political nature, though they are commonly associated with the bringing of some mythical force to the locale.

Myths

Myths are sacred tales that directly address our contact with the Divine Mystery. They explain why the world is the way that it is, granting an intuitive grasp of our mortal situation, and provide us with experiences of the deepest sort.

Their characters are the deities who inhabit the fabric of our cosmos, their settings are the universe at large, and their results were the creation of the greater universe, the one which we humans cannot ever hope to change.

Ceremonies for the gods are religious re-enactments, revelations, and other rites whose purpose is to immerse (or at least expose) the individual to direct contact with the ancient powers. They may be public, familial, or personal.

Myths of this type do not generally require rationalization or explanation to its worshipers. The apparent illogic of its parts is irrelevant in the face of personal experience. But whenever these tales are told to an outsider (which is the source of most of the tales in these volumes), some of the meaning is lost. Furthermore, the inexperienced receiver of the tale almost inevitably interprets the information without understanding the esoteric meaning.

The results of this may be correct or incorrect (i.e., in line with the original nature of the meaning) or good or bad (i.e., for continuing the original meaning).

3. Truth Is Inconsistent

Ever since Tylenea first deceived Orenoar, we have striven to separate the true from the false. So how do we, as humble mortals, do this in myths? In striving to preserve Truth, even the God of Knowledge was brought low.

Some myths are obvious lies. The story of Zzabur the Sorcerer is clearly false, for no mortal born of woman and fathered by man will live forever. Nor is the story of Gark the Calm true, for no one finds eternal peace through utter and thoughtless surrender.

This false tale was made to attract the lonely and the desperate to become mindless worshipers of the zombie god. It is a trap for fools. Similarly, the myth of the Red Goddess is a lie. We all know that violating the Cosmic Compromise and changing the God Time lets Chaos back into the world and threatens the destruction of the cosmos.

These lies must be avoided, for they are meant to bring harm. They were made by sorcerers to enslave us and encourage the desiccation of Life.

But it is not necessary to lie intentionally. Well-meaning misinformation is common. People naturally wish to conceal their secrets from outsiders and have done so since the start of the humanities. Indeed, some philosophers say that Idealism and Hope themselves are just necessary lies, created by the good gods to give people something to live for.

Untruth is, in fact, inescapable to us, since we are mere mortals and cannot know everything, ever. We can only touch it, briefly, and lose it as the huge world closes in upon us once more.

We often try to convey our unique experiences to others who also seek Truth. But, by need, our best communication is more limited than the experience. Even the direct mind-to-mind communication that we all know from the high ceremonies obscures the reality of the individual experience. Nonetheless we try, even though subsequent retellings are locally re-interpreted for the audience. This further obscures the original tale, even as it widens the possible audience of interest.

Part of our mortal dilemma is “How do we know what myths are true?” The answer is simple: a myth remains true if it provokes the initial reaction within its readers even through layers of acquired interpretations. Those ancient, imaginary pathways are true if they continue to serve the needs that provoked the original Urge. The Truth is found where we find a way to be at One with ourselves and the cosmos. Experience proves this, when our inner Truths can perceive even without us realizing it. We find this Truth even under increasingly thick layers of exaggeration, misrepresentation, and distortion.

Greg Stafford
Greg Stafford

How do we recognize these? Failure only brings more pain and trouble. As the Sacred Time rites teach us: the Truth is in our hearts. If we are touched by a thing, whether it is a story, a person’s action, or even some distant event, then it holds meaning, and therefore, Truth, for us. It is our responsibility, then, to pursue this, that we may do our part to preserve the cosmos and live once again among the gods.

–Greg Stafford

 

PDF: Cults of RuneQuest: Mythology

Sandy Petersen om Greg Stafford
Sandy Petersen om Greg Stafford