How do you solve a problem like Uleria

From: Peter Larsen <>
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 14:41:30 -0600

Andrew Larsen says:

> I don't think this has really been hashed out.

        My mistake. It was hashed (and hashed) on the Hero Wars list. Check it out!

>> Duplicated, for the most part, by acceptable gods, of which Ernalda, the
>> Queen of the Storm Pantheon, is the most prominant.
> But by this argument, there is little reason to worship most Orlanthi
>gods, since their magic can largely be duplicated by subcults of Orlanth or

        Well, agreed. According to the most recent numbers (Greg Stafford on the Hero Wars list), the "major other" cults are about 1% each of the population of Sartar (roughly 900 people each). "Minor other" cults (e.g. the Gors) are about a tenth as big. I doubt Ulerians are even this common.

>better. And Uleria does some things better than Ernalda. Besides, Uleria
>represents a basic human drive, one which cannot be suppressed even in
>strict societies, so I suspect that part of her cult's nature is that it
>springs up everywhere to some extent, even where society may not entirely
>like it.

        But sexuality, even divine sexuality exists within the Storm Pantheon. Even if Uleria is the source of all this, worshipping her in a Heortling context is a little like worshipping Dame Darkness (or whatever she's called these days) to get Darkness Magic. Sure you could do it, but it's the long way around.     

> Quite honestly, I think the reference in TR to Uleria being a demon is
>less persuasive than simply silly.

        Well, OK. For that matter, our Gloranthas may vary, and no one can make you do anything.

> Yes, but Malia is also associated with explicitly Chaotic forces, and
>was instrumental in the birth of the Devil. Uleria is not associated with
>Chaotic powers, and given that she rules one of the fundimental principles
>of the universe, almost by definition she can't be chaotic.

        No, but she can be weird, foreign, and alien. To the Heortlings, that's almost as bad as chaos, and their response is similar, though less extreme ("kill them when they come here, rather than find them and kill them").

>> But the Heortlings are cram-packed with community building rites and
>> deities. Why do they need to worship some weird goddess from the the very
>> start of things? Worship of Uleria is as out of place in Sartar as worship
>> of Innana in Medieval Scotland. In my opinion, of course.
> Not really a fair comparison for any number of reasons.

        OK, but you still haven't answered my question. Why would any Heortling want to go outside the Storm Pantheon to get powers he/she can get without losing all their status in the community? Look at the description of the clan response to someone who wants to convert to a foreign god (TR, I don't have a cite right now); it's not a pretty picture.

Martin Dick says to

>> Anaxial's Roster is quite a bit more global than Heortling
>> theology.
>The myth is specifically referred to as an Orlanthi myth,
>now maybe it's not a myth in Sartar, but given past material
>it seems probable it is. As well, nothing indicates that
>Tinta are not to be found in Dragon Pass, the opposite in
>fact (distribution is worldwide (rare)).

        I meant the tone of AR as a whole -- the entries have very little "bias" in them (and a good thing, too. Uleria is tained with disorder in that myth; I think that's a pretty good summation of the Heortling view.

>I'm sure that it's not only for her vast tracts of land.

        Here I thought it was becasue she was huge tracts of land....

>Lots of different possibilities, but in a society which says
>nobody can make you do anything and has a darkness worshipping
>tribe of Orlanthi (the Torkani), having the ancient goddess of
>Love as a small part of the 15% doesn't seem like a big ask.

        No, if you like the idea, but we are talking small (I don't know, 30 in all of Sartar, not counting Lunar imports, if any?). The idea I find more interesting is that Uleria is the sort of god that has many more Devotees (and even Disciples) than Initiates. Either you can't do without her, or you don't worship her. Either way, her "choosing" a worshipper is not a moment of joy for that worshipper's kin.

>Sacred prostitution is a very
>different matter to what happens on street corners of a modern
>city. So her role is probably different in some ways to that
>in some of the old material, doesn't mean Uleria should be
>totally thrown out of Heortling culture on the basis of one
>line in Thunder Rebels. A line in the Matchmaker sub-cult and
>one only has to look at the stereotypical portrayal of matchmakers
>throughout history to realise the potential for bias in this

        But that line makes a lot of sense, if you think about it. There is not much benefit for the cost of worshipping Her, sacred sexuality is part of Ernalda, and it seems not unreasonable that most Ernaldans (and their husbands, sons, suitors, etc.) will not cotton to Uleria. Sure, there might be some tribes or clans or bloodlines that tell more accepting stories, but it's not like there are going to be a lot of Ulerians running around. Most Heortlings won't ever meet one or know anyone who has.

Donald R. Oddy tells us:

>Why Uleria is not welcome in our stead

        I liked it; it's a pretty good summary of my idea of the average Heortling take on this.

Mikko Rintasaari says:

>I think Peter is (rather aggressively) defending a rather extreme view of
>Uleria. She is raw power, and can be somewhat disruptive. She is still the
>primal force of love, and not a monster of the predark, or an enemy

        Not so agressively as all that (assuming you're talking about me; Mr. Metcalfe seems to have wisely gotten out of this). I do find it hard to believe that Heortlings are going to abandon worship of their gods for the dubious benefits of Uleria. Yes, she is potentially very powerful, but the costs are very high. There may be worshippers, drawn by whatever primal urges, but they are, almost by definition, foreigners, cut off from their roots. Anyway, I'm not so sure the Predark and the Celestial Court are as far apart (as conceptual entities) as your average Gloranthan might think.

        So, in my emphatic but hopefully not too agressive way, that's my point of view. Ulerians don't make a lot of sense in Heortling culture as it has developed. There's little room for prostitution (except connected with the Lunars), other gods give largely the same benefits, and I would prefer Uleria to be a figure of disconcerting cosmic insight, almost more mystic than theist whose touch burns as well as liberates. This is my take, though; I think it's a good one, but, until Issaries publishes "A Flourish of Strumpets and an Anthology of Pros : the Cults of the Prostitutes of Boldhome," we'll never know.

Peter Larsen

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