A Gloranthan feminine plot

From: SÚrgio Mascarenhas <sermasalmeida_at_mail.telepac.pt>
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 16:07:23 +0100

One of the things that I think Glorantha lacks is a woman touch. I mean, most of that universe is male oriented.

What about all the millions of women there, what do they think, what do they do,
and, more important, how do they contribute to the mighty times of the Hero Wars? Do they simply stick to the traditional supportive role for males? Or is there some distinctive intervention reserved to female?

My own view is that the female half of Glorantha is as involved in the events as the masculine person.

What follows is my account on why the feminine Orlanthy were as concerned - or even more concerned - with the lunar menace as their masculine counterparts.

The basic idea is the next: Orlanthy women feel even more deeply than men the lunar
menace. The reason is that under the lunar power orlanthy men loose their freedom; orlanthy women loose their soul. (Notice that in my account this is how orlanthy people "feel"; this is not what would happen in fact.)

WHY DO ORLANTHY WOMEN THINK THAT THE RED GODESS IS A MENACE Barbarian women perceive the red Goddess as an evil and twisted manifestation of womanhood.
1. In barbarian culture man and woman have different and distinctive places in society, and that translates into distinctive behavior, and customs. That permeates barbarian morality and myths. The best representation is the Goddess Ernalda, queen of the barbarian goddesses and her husbands (that despite being different maintain similar relations with Ernalda). The Red Goddess, on the contrary, has traits that barbarians associate with the male half of society (and with minor cults of barren goddesses like BBG). This is a contradiction - a menace - to barbarian customs and morality. 2. The ascent of the moon represents in itself the twisted womanhood of the Red Goddess. In fact, that means that she decided to separate form earth and place herself between Yelm and Orlanth, the opposite of Ernalda's behavior. By breaking the connection with earth, she throws away a woman's most important skills: the skills to fertilize the land and feed the people. By putting herself between Yelm and Orlanth she invades the reign of men.
3. But the ascent of the red moon was a chock to barbarian women in another sense. They perceived it as the obscene exposition of a secret to be kept only to women: the secret of menstrual cycles. (I suppose that women's physiology in Glorantha is the same as that of women in earth and they have menstrual cycles).
4. Even worst, barbarian women think that the extension of the glow line, and the fixing of the moon in the full part of the cycle means an awful menace to women: if that happens their menstrual cycle will stop in the bleeding ("red") phase. Maybe women will bleed to death; or they will become
barren, like the Red Goddess that only gave birth to one son. 5. Then there is the menace of marrying Ernalda to the Red Emperor. In barbarian culture Ernalda is a queen among goddesses and women. She must be the first of the goddesses married to the first of the gods. If she marries the Red Emperor she will not only be second to the Red Goddess, but will also be second to the many wives the emperor collected in the past. 6. Orlanthy women are horrified by things like the Seven "Mothers" cult. Mothers? What Mothers? That cult's name is an insult to the most sacred duty of women: giving birth.

WHAT NEXT? The stated motives explain why there is more below Yelm than meets the eye. Most of the knowledge about Glorantha and specifically about Orlanthy people fights with lunars fail to account to the worries and point of view of women.

So, what did women do in the barbarian belt to fight the menacing goddess? I can only say that I suppose that they did something. I don't know what but I think that:
- - It should be a completely different line of action from men's "brute"
- - It would be something very effective but unremarkable and low profile.

What was it? I don't know (after all, I'm a man).

Sergio Mascarenhas

End of The Glorantha Digest V5 #78

WWW at http://rider.wharton.upenn.edu/~loren/rolegame.html

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