It is fascinating how hard it is for us post-modern Westerners to disentangle themselves from the idea that culture precedes cults, even in a fantasy setting such as Glorantha.
To a very significant extent, in Glorantha cults drive culture. By looking at the significant cults (say more than 2% of the population) in any particular community, we can get a quick overview of some of the key components of that community’s culture. Now not all is going to be driven by the cults, but they are important drivers.
So if Orlanth, Humakt, and Storm Bull are all significant cults in a community, that is going to mean something. Similarly if a third of the community is initiated into Ernalda, that is going to mean something. If both Storm Bull AND the Seven Mothers are present, that is going to mean something as well!
One of the forthcoming Cults books is going to be providing a lot of this sort of information and should really help with expanding Glorantha outside of Dragon Pass and Prax (and will shed a lot of light on those places as well!).
Now cults do change in Time – but that is a result of their followers continuing interactions and experiences with the God Time, aka heroquesting.
Why would a heroquester want to change the nature of a cult? That’s another post – but people tend to assume that hero questers intended the specific experiences they had. But the God Time is not so easily contained or controlled. The two most common types of Heroquests are:
- We know our god did things but we have not experienced it. Orlanth defeated Aroka, so Alakoring quested to experience that event, and came back with Orlanth Rex magic, which enabled him to defeat the Diamond Storm Dragon.
- We need something more than we have, so we will interact with the God Time. We are familiar with the places of our god and can wield their powers, so that guides us and shapes our experiences.
Obviously these two are interwoven.
How would a Lhankor Mhy initiate feel about an initiate of Orlanth Lawspeaker for example? Orlanth Lawspeaker is just Orlanth + the LM associated spell.
Aren’t ALL men were Orlanthi and women Ernaldi. I think we need to let go the idea of a few % participating in religion. Everyone does. It has real demonstrable benefits? Not all men are initiates of Orlanth, even in Sartar. Not all women are initiates of Ernalda, even in Esrolia. In Sartar, about 34% of adults are Orlanth initiates. Let’s say that comes out to less than two-thirds of men, as there is a distinct Vingan community. But there are also initiates of Yelmalio, Seven Mothers, Issaries, Humakt, Storm Bull, etc.,