2020-02 Jeff on Facebook

Jeff Richard is one of the regular posters in the RuneQuest Facebook Group. here’s some of his recent RuneQuest posts, only Jeff’s replies are included where relevant. Facebook membership is required to access the originals.

As an aside, I often post notes or things that I am working on that I think people will find interesting or useful. But I am posting this material without edits or revisions – they are all notes or works in progress. If people really expect me to edit or revise such ephemera before I post it, I am probably not going to post such things.

Jeff Richard, 2021

Eurmal’s Clown magical societies

One thing that gets a big emphasis in the forthcoming Cults of Glorantha are Eurmal’s Clown magical societies. Don’t think of modern clowns from the circus – think the sacred clowns of the Kachina religion, the Heyoka of the Lakota, or the masked performers of the Booger Dance. Clowns are able to violate sacred laws freely while they carry out their ritual roles. However, Clowns are required to dress in special costume to enjoy this protection. Some initiates paint their body with black and white stripes, cover themselves with mud or filth, wear false phalluses, or simply wear their clothing backwards and inside out.These have been around in Greg’s Sartar material since the beginning, but really got short-shrift in the Issaries material. Not anymore.

Photo credit: Wikimedia CC

Will these be taking the role that Tricksters have played historically in Gloranthan society or will they be an addition? They are Tricksters.

But in Orlanthi society, a Trickster who belongs to a Clown society is allowed to violate sacred laws as long as he or she is acting in their ritual role as a Clown. Which means wearing the costume. They can do this without binding themselves to an Orlanth initiate – although they obviously have other restrictions in their actions (much harder to carry out Murder, Theft, or Seduction while wearing a silly costume and a fake ceramic phallus).

CLOWNS

A social oddity and convenience for the Orlanthi, Clowns are Tricksters and, as such, are allowed to get away with almost any social disruption and trouble because of the useful functions they provide through showing what is serious, absurd, baffling, or wrong, fearful or comical about life and the cosmos. The Orlanthi recognize this as powerful magic that both disrupts and helps to maintain the cosmos.Another function of the Clown is that of public scapegoat, for whenever there is some official cause to find a person at fault the Clowns are the ones chosen. They may be outlawed, driven out of town, or (rarely) killed.Until they are used as scapegoats, Clowns are able to violate sacred laws freely while they carry out their ritual roles. However, Clowns are required to dress in special costume to enjoy this protection. Some initiates paint their body with black and white stripes, cover themselves with mud or filth, wear false phalluses, or simply wear their clothing backwards and inside out.Clowns sometimes appear – usually without invitation – at the ceremonies of other Orlanthi cults and mock them along with other attendees. At other public ceremonies, clowns may dance out of step, sing out of tune, and imitate cult and other societal leaders. They dress inappropriately, beg food, throw food away, or are gluttons. They even use magical regalia in inappropriate ways, engage in foolish, silly, or even obscene side-shows, often with respected members of the community.

Is this specifically and exclusively for Eurmal initiates? exclusive for Eurmal.

Like the Gelede (a great Africa reference for this sort of transgressive and ribald role in a real-world ancestor cult.)?

Interesting. I am far more familiar with the sacred clowns of the Pueblo, Plains, and Eastern Woodlands (as was Greg) but this is also a good reference for ideas.

Beanworld is a great source of inspiration.

Related Pages