This question comes from debate on the Glorantha Digest. Answer by Greg Stafford. Published 7 Mar 2000.
Q: Who was the god worshipped by Balazar? The original publication of Griffin Mountain said it was Yelmalio, but information in King of Sartar, Enclosure #2, and the Issaries, Inc. web page seem to contradict this. The latter source says the name of their god is Tharkantus. Who is the god of the Sun Dome Temples?
A: Yelmalio is the popular name of a god currently worshipped in southern Peloria, especially among the Alakoring tribes, but also among the Heortlings.
Yelmalio is actually just one name for the deity. It is the common and public name but it is more properly a title that means “Brightness of Yelm.” This title it is used for a number of different gods in Dara Happa who derive their powers form that transcendant core of light called Yelm, either by their worshippers or by outsiders who have trouble telling the gods apart.
If you use only King of Sartar as a source, the god known as Yelmalio has only been worshipped for about 60 years. So say the cultists there and they are happy to let others believe this. But like all cults, Yelmalio has many secrets, some of them very very deep. Here is some information to clarify things and reveal some truths about the god and cult that are known only to initiates and devotees.
Sun Dome Temples existed in the First and Second Ages and their congregations revered deities whose existance is generally unknown today. As reported in Enclosure #2 (“The Origin of the Sun Dome Temples,” page 37), the original patron of the First Age temples was called Daysenerus, a god sent by Antirius in the Darkness to bring the word of light to the barbarians. Although he was not called Yelmalio, Daysenerus’ temples were called Sun Dome Temples. They were all nearly all destroyed during the Gbaji Wars, and the vengeful Heortlings and trolls eradicated Daysenerus’ name throughout Peloria. No one dared to mention the name of this minor deity and his worship was lost.
In the Second Age a new deity called Yelmalio was discovered and worshipped in southern Peloria. He brought light and blessings to his worshippers. They were popular among the class of wealthy farmers and many people joined into the worship. New temples were established in sacred places where the Yelmalio Light could be conjured.
Only initiates knew the god’s name as Tharkantus. Only the priests knew that relics of Daysenerus were used to bless their firrst temples,or that the biggest temples rose upon the ruins of former Daysenerus temples. Outsiders were told the god was Yelmalio, which was explained to mean “Little Sun.”
As the EWF expanded the new Sun Dome Temples were among its military arm and helped to enforce its rule in Peloria, Dragon Pass, and even far-away Prax.When the EWF fell many of these temples were destroyed. Most the remaining members were slain during the Dragonkill War as part of the True Golden Horde. Most temples fell into ruin, or became isolated from the world.
Balazar worshipped Yelmalio Tharkantus. Balazar entered Votankiland and founded a temple to his god there. Although he eventually returned to die in the Dragonkill War, he had organized the citadels among the primitive Votanki hunter clans, who were ruled thereafter by his three sons. Eventually, the land became known as Balazar in his honor.
The Tharkantus temple in Balazar survived because it was basically the only worshipped deity in the towns where Balazar’s sons ruled. Its worshippers retained their religion and today they are holdovers of this Second Age religion. When strangers came they discovered a deity who was called Yelmalio in public and Tharkantus in private.
The situation in Prax was similar to Balazar. The temple survived the destruction of the Dragonkill War, it was a small outpost without much competition, and was an extremely strong source of divine power. Over the centuries its customs and worship were eroded as the free farmers were enslaved and the priesthood was seized by Praxian nomads who often used their shamanic practices to worship in the temple. Although the name of the deity and his rites were nearly lost he was still called Yelmalio and was the same intense divine light. When cultists came from Dragon Pass with the old rites, the waiting god strengthened them against the foreign rites and the old cult was established in its full glory once again.
In Sartar the great hero Monrogh established the cult. He originally worshipped Elmal, the sun of the Orlanthi pantheon, but followed other lights and entered into doctinal disputes with the Orlanthi priests who normally ranked over the sun. Monrogh was challenged by Prince Tarkalor of Sartar to reveal his god who was stronger than Elmal, and he revealed Yelmalio. As proof, Monrogh led the conquest of the Kitori, and Tarkalor granted him the wide conquered lands to honor and recognize the new god and his worshippers. A few thouand people departed from the worship of Elmal and converted to Yelmalio, then left their homelands and settled in the new grant by the Creekstream River. Monrogh established regular relationships with the other temples of Yelmalio throughout Peloria. Monrogh also sent worshippers to settle near to Pavis where they re-established the old rites on a temple that there.
No single high priest rules all the Yelmalio temples. They do acknowledge the overlordship of the temple from which their founder originally came. They also acknowledge the Yelm cult priests as spiritual superiors. The Balazar temple has no superior, for Balazar’s overseer and ancestral temple are destroyed. Monrogh claimed to have no overseer, having come to Yelmalio by himself. The Pavis temple sometimes acknowledged the Dragon Pass temple as overlord, and sometimes has resisted it, claiming they are older than Monrogh as their traditions prove.
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