Inspirations for Gloranthan Myth

From: Hughes, John (NAT) <"Hughes,>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2000 13:34:52 +1100

Is this how we should address you? :)

~I don't know true Lingua Latina (SIGH) I should be envious about studying.

Terra shared some thoughtful musings on Glorantha's mythic inspirations.

~RAGNAROK, Gabriel, start Music of Destruction with Trumphet against my

Greg's vision of Glorantha is eclectic, he derives inspiration from a wide variety of sources. The broad strokes are borrowed or adapted, the fine detail is usually pretty unique. There are limits however, in using analogies: what is different is usually equally important as what is the same. European myth also borrows heavily from preceding cultures, so we can see ideas, deities and themes repeated and reconfigured through the ages, though still uniquely reflecting the ideas of their culture. There are many surface and superficial similarities.

~Thick and Thin still exist: such as Romanian Mithras or Mongolian Oilat
ignored for some reason, Gypsy are ignored as in Nazis Germany! (Please ignore my histerical stress...)

We must be careful: deities and mythic ideas only make sense in a particular time and culture, and to see them divorced from that culture, or to read them through our own cultural spectacles can lead to basic misunderstandings. (Joseph Campbell and Jungians generally are notorious for this). Myths also are multivalent (can be understood on many levels, in many ways) and usually have many local variants. Writing down myths starts a process of standardisation, destruction of alternatives, literary contamination (making them 'better stories'), censorship and in 90 % of cases, fundamental misunderstanding. Our popular ideas of say the Norse Gods have particularly suffered from our Victorian ancestors cleaning up, combining and censoring mythic fragments.

~Thomas Bulfinch? We may be able to speculate why some sources are should be

My own understanding of Glorantha's inspiration is this:

The grand structure of Gloranthan myth (the progression of the Ages, war with Chaos, successive generations of the gods) is very similar to later Greek myth, in particular Hesiod's great poem 'Theogyny' (Birth of the Gods). The basic archetypes (hateful word, but it will do) of the Orlanthi gods also have many correspondences to the Greek gods: Orlanth as Zeus, Vinga as Athena, Humakt as Ares, Heler as Ganymede etc. Of course, it is the *differences* here that are most important. (That Terra can see similar analogies with the Norse Gods is a subject worth further exploring - it may simply be that in a particular corpus of myth there are only so many roles/personalities.)

As I noted a few days ago, the modern scientific mythology /cosmology of the Big Bang (explosion of the Spike) and the successive pre-atomic ages of the universe also seems to feature as inspiration: and this mythology was being popularised in the early seventies when Glorantha was gaining substance.

~Mountain Indian Sumer Idea and (China has some mythology about Evil God
Breaking Pillar of Heaven...Shortage Parallel? )
~And we cannot ignore RW working for "notorious" utilization Syncretism
Greek called Shiva Dionysus, Romans called Lugh Mercurious, etc...
~Onion-like structure.

The cycles of Gloranthan history are repeating or at least cyclical as in the Indian and Middle eastern mythologies, rather than the straight line of history that is a feature of Christian myth and world view. The Christian obsession with apocalypse is noticeably missing from explicit Gloranthan thought. (This may be in part because of the implicit idea that surfaces from time to time that Glorantha is actually our Earth before the death of the gods and the Elder races and the great continental upheavals.)

~Or already ended with Great Darkness (We already lost our Gods as in Modern
~AND Dara Happan Chinese Analogy cannot be ignored.

As Nils noted, Orlanth is similar to Thor, and also to Indra, the Thunder God of the Vedas. The incident in the Rg Veda where Indra defeats the drought dragon is almost identical to Orlanth's finding Heler.

~And Babylonian Malduk, Japanese Susano, Egyptian Set (Rebellous Terminous?)
~many many other Eye of Storms exist.

Babester Gor and the Dark Earth goddess draw much of their inspiration from Kali Ma and Devi, goddesses from more recent Indian mythology. Notice Gorgorma's name, with its evocation of both the Gorgon and Ma. In the same way that Kali Ma is widely misrepresented and misunderstood in the West, so I have a constant feeling that we collectively still have a long way to go in misunderstanding the Gloranthan significance of the Dark Goddesses.

~Egyptian Sekumet drank beer of Blood by Trick of Isis and Ra.
~Lilith, Hell and other "Demonic" Goddess Figure...

The story of the Red Goddess is modelled in part on the Sumerian Descent of Inanna (Istar), the western world's first and still one of its greatest stories. The hero-epic Gilgamesh provides incidental detail such as the great flood and the first scorpion men. Both myth-cycles model the idea of the heroquest.

~Other Important Goddesses Isis, Cybele, Demeter, etc...Her Reincarnation
Image has great
similarity to Buddha Siddharta (But he still be man...).
~Gilgamesh and Enkidu: Gartemirus and Wild Man Friendship Story..

The heroquest itself is derived from a mythology about mythology, that is Joseph Campbell's Jungian writings on the Journey of the Hero. Greg wrote about Campbell's 'The Hero With A Thousand Faces' in the early eighties, and for many of us it was our first introduction to the monomyth and to systematic approaches to mythology. (In that, Greg has a lot to answer for :)).

~So we cannot play Detective Story with Hero Wars not as Rune Quest.

As would be expected, Greg also evokes themes from Amerindian mythology: the sophistication of Trickster is more Amerindian than Norse, and Arachne Solara is based on the Spider Woman / Changing Woman mythology of the American southwest.

~I don't know much about this...

If the Irish myth cycle seems remote, it is in part because we have lost the grand sweeping Celtic myths of creation and the gods. The main exceptions, the Book of Invasions and the Tain (Cattle Raid of Cooley), are historical in their settings. The Irish myths are very useful however, in their depictions of clan life, and Cu Chulain and his magical and martial feats seems the very model of a Hero Wars hero. The Norse and Icelandic sagas are obviously also compulsory reading for Orlanthi fanatics.

~IMHO, Persian Rustem (in Book of Kings) and Cuchulainn have many
similarities about their Aryanic Nature...(Both kill their own Sons and are killed by treachery. )

The Bible does not seem to feature heavily in Greg's inspiration, but this may be to do with our cultural taboos about treating the Bible as myth. A pity in some sense, for the Old Testament is filled with heroes and tricksters and heroquests if we read it with our mythic senses tuned.

~In Paganistic Eye of Japanese, many traits of Bybliotic Nature appeared...
~His three Godlings: His naming about Noah, Jason, Alisia (mis-spelling?)
 indicated his sense?

There are many other influences of course: Glorantha is a shared world. However, the ones I've mentioned above seem to me at least to be in some way fundamental. No doubt others will have alternative ideas. One of these days I want to sit Greg down and interview him in depth about his process of systematising Glorantha. In the meantime, we have the evidence of Glorantha itself.

~By the way, WHAT IS "NANDAN"?

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