Greg’s Introduction from 1998
Here’s an excerpt from Belintar’s Book, most or all of whose content will be included in the first Issaries, Inc. release, tentatively title The Hero Wars, Introduction to Glorantha.
Elves, which are walking plants, are not really like humans, even though both types of creatures are truly People. The similarities between elves and humans are due entirely to their being copies of the primal Person rune. In fact, all the humanoid races are copies of this primal rune; their deep differences stem from the different interpretations and materials of their creators.
Elves do not have gods. When we humans interact directly with the spiritual power of the Aldryami, however, they might as well be. We can’t do any better than to treat them as deities. The Gods of the Elves are not recognized as separate or divine entities by the Aldryami. Rather, these “deities” are parts of the Group Mind which all plants share, and with which the elves may commune and of which they expect to become a part.
Recognizing the elven Gods as distinct individuals is at least partially a human approach. I can only remember them as gods now, from the time I was an elf. I know that I felt otherwise then, but now, as a human again, I can not remember them except as gods. So as gods, I tell you of them.
The First Plantings
In the beginning, there was the one, all-encompassing, the primal entity of which all else has been born. Although the original being was all things, he was also no things, and thus we name him It. When the time was right, It became the twins, Grower and Taker. It became all life, and all death, all that was and all that was not.
As Grower, It bore the life force of the universe. It was the spark of creation, the drive of expansion, the originator of life. From itself, Grower made the world. It became Eron, the nurturing water, Gata, the protecting earth and Halamalao, the warming sun. Finally, It became The Seed.
When Grower became the world, it made Eron, who we call the healing waters, the nurturing provider, and the first father. In the new world, Eron was the sea encircled the world and the rain which fell down upon the forests. Eron provided Seed with nourishment.
The second of the Deities of Life who came from Grower was Gata, who we call the All-mother, the Enclosed, and the beautiful. In the new world, Gata was the earth that sat at the middle of the world, the rich field where life was first born. Gata provided Seed with sanctuary.
The third born entity of Grower was Halamalao, who we call the unfailing light, the enveloping warmth, the wise father. In the new world Halamalao was the great sun rooted in the middle of the sky, the light that shone upon the whole world. Halamalao provided Seed with life.
After Grower had become the sea, the land and the sun, It became Seed. Seed lay within Gata’s protective embrace, nurtured by Eron and Halamalao, and it became Falamal.
We know Falamal by many names. He is the father of all, the bearer of the life force, the unifier of spirit. As Falamal, Grower was reborn within the world. Falamal was The Great Tree, planted at the center of the universe, encircled by land, sea and light. From Falamal, there came many seeds, which spread throughout the world. The first seed fell upon the earth, and that was Aldrya. The second seed fell upon the sea, and that was Murthdrya. Finally, a seed was lifted up to the sun, and that was Halamdrya.
Aldrya is the Eldest Sister, the first daughter of Falamal born in the world. She is the mother of all plants grown upon the land, and is also the all-encompassing mind which includes all born upon Gata, both those growing and those taken. The Brown Elves, the Green Elves and the Yellow Elves are all part of Aldrya.
The second daughter born of Falamal was Murthdrya. She was nourished by healing Eron. Murthdrya is the mother of all plants grown in the sea, and is also their communal consciousness. The Blue Elves are a part of Murthdrya.
The third seed of Falamal’s seeds was lifted up to Halamalao, Halamdrya was born. Halamdrya is the mother of all plants grown upon the Sun, as well as their collective soul. The White Elves are still a part of Halamdrya though they are now gone from the world.
All grew, and the whole of Glorantha was covered with lush growth. Upon the top of the spike were the great and pure White Forests. Upon its slopes were the Yellow, and lower down were the vast expanses of green covering the hills and flatlands. They grew some more.
At the end of the Age of the Grower, the entirety of creation was filled with life. But, since the Taker had not yet come into the world, the Growth continued, straining at the fabric of the universe. A tiny crack appeared into the universe, and a bit of Oblivion seeped into the world of Potential.
The elves, the mobile vegetables in the shapes of people, were the first to recognize another force which came to exist from overabundance. They call it Oblivion, which opposes the It-Potential. The Potential includes the powers of both growth and death, the eternal cycle of life and rebirth. Oblivion, however, takes things away without ever returning them. Chaos is a part of Oblivion.
When Oblivion came into the world the first of the elves were broken from Aldrya’s group mind, which had previously encompassed the whole world. They experienced self consciousness, and were shattered to be torn from the embrace of the forest mind. Their own religious ceremonies today still all act to link them with the annual cycles of vegetation. Any of them who are not distressed by their separation are considered to be Rootless, and pitied by all Aldryami.
The Second Plantings
As Taker, It became the embodiment of entropy. It was destruction, dissolution and extinction. In all ways, Taker was equivalent to Grower, yet opposite. In truth, though, they were one and the same. A common elf truism states
“There is no life without death; there is no death without life.”
When Grower grew the world, Taker took only itself; thus for a long time, only the power of growth surged in the world.
When Falamal’s presence in the world had been fulfilled, Seed appeared once more in the world. The Seed which had been Taker was buried in Stone, hidden by Darkness and burned by Fire. All good things became bad. Water turned to fire, earth turned to stone and light turned to darkness.
Where nothing had ever grown, a new creature came forth, and that was Zazakzor, who was Taker reborn within the world. Zazakzor began to move across the world, taking all he saw. Halamalao fell first, and only Darkness was left. Beautiful Gata could not protect herself, and so she was destroyed, leaving sterile Stone before. Finally, Zazakzor turned upon Eron, and so the healer fell, his mending waters becoming hurtful Harakakara. Then, Zazakzor turned to Falamal, and he took him into himself.
When the world began to darken, Eron’s nurturing waters ruptured and became the devouring flames of Harakakara. They burned the forests and scorched the land.
As the power of Taker rose, Gata began to harden. She became unyielding, infertile and sterile. Nothing living could grow in Akem (Stone) and so life began to disappear.
Finally, Halamalao began to dim, and only the cold of Darkness was left. The freezing cold crept between fibers and organs and shattered Falamal’s tender children, leaving only cold ice and lifelessness.
In the Darkness, Halamdrya’s (White Elf) children could not survive, and instead of the Growing race a new race of Takers came into existence. These creatures were the trolls, and the first among them was Kygor. The children of Kygor seek to consume all, enclosing the world in their darkness.
Nothing could grow upon the sterile earth, and thus Akem made his children from himself. Thus did Mostal come into the world, and his descendants, the dwarves. The Mostali are as sterile and lifeless as the god that birthed them.
Harakakara burned everything that it touched, leaving nothing living in it’s wake, but still it brought forth new life. Promalt was the first of the flame men, who marched through the world, trying to increase the domains of flame. The burning flame men sought to reduce the world to charred ash, but they only succeeding in destroying themselves, for now they are seen no more in the world.
In the Age of the Taker, there was one perfect moment where the Grower and the Taker were in balance. Many new being came into the universe, combining the aspects of the twins. Thus were born the black elves, who lived off the death of others, the red elves, who lived off their own dead, and finally men and beasts. But, the moment was quickly gone. The Taker continued to grow; the Grower continued to be taken.
As the Age of the Taker progressed, Zazakzor moved across the world slaying all that he saw. Even the Gods fell, first Halamalao, then Gata and Eron, finally Falamal itself. Only the Gods of darkness, stone and water were left behind.
It soon became obvious that the excesses of the Taker were as bad as the excesses of the Grower. The universe of Potential grew weaker and weaker, and Oblivion once more seeped in, this time as Chaos. The entire world was dying, but not the good death of the Taker, rather the bad death of Oblivion. It would never be reborn again.
Many elf heroes fought valiantly during the Age of the Taker, all trying to preserve the sacred growth. These heroes included High King Elf, Vronkal and Chalaneron. But these protectors all fell. Eventually, all creatures of the Grower were dead, and the takers began to take themselves.
The Third Planting
The Seeds, which had been buried deep, opened once again. Grower and the Taker were reborn again in the world. In the past, the Grower and Taker had been discoordinate, working disharmoniously rather than working together. As a result, the universe was nearly destroyed. This time, new beings rose.
Bebester was the Taker reborn, but her aspect was slightly changed. Part of the Grower was within her, and so she took that which was unrecoverable, so that new Growth could occur. Bebester destroyed all of that was left of the world, so that it could begin anew.
Sanarana was the Grower reborn, but she too was changed, now containing a bit of the Taker. She accepted Bebester’s death, knowing that it would bring better life. When all was gone, the spark of Potential in the sea of Oblivion nearly extinguished, Sanarana recreated the world.
When Sanarana recreated the world, the flowers bloomed, life coursed, buds opened ot be leaves. In the new world, neither Grower or Taker was all-powerful. They both controlled equal parts of the world, and thus, at last, the Universe was at harmony.
In the annual cycle of flowering spring to falling autumn, the aspects of the world remained in harmony. For five centuries the forests rested easy and thick, content with their interactions with the other races.
The Grafting Experiment
One group of elves was very friendly to other races. In the place where Dragons Live the Elf Lord called Fwalfa Oakheart had cooperated in a great battle against an army of Chaos. Many races and peoples cooperated in that fight, and it is called the Unity Battle because they fought as one against chaos. Ever since then the creatures that had fought shoulder to shoulder remained friends in the areas around Dragon Pass. Under the leadership of the Only Old One they formed the Unity Council, and brought their civilization to the shattered survivors of the Darkness.
Over the centuries the Unity Council met more and more other peoples, some of them only clans, while others were stronger tribes. They found the Empire of Dara Happa, too. The wise among them decided that they needed to reform the unity of all beings in their world.
The wise among them decided to create a new deity of harmony and peace. Saratin Seomale was the speaker for Talastar Forest. He was impressed with the plans. They saw the new deity as being the reconciliation between Potential and Oblivion, just as the Grower and Taker had been brought back together and redefined the nature of the plant world.
However, this effort clearly failed. Most of the elves in the world at that time thought it was misguided. Most elves today still think it was misguided.
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