Greg Sez: The Red Emperor (Sep 1998)

Question From MARTIN LAURIE. Answer by Greg Stafford. Published 1st Sep 1998

Q: You’ve said that Emperor Yelmgatha “was recognized as an avatar of Yelm” and “He was called the Five/Sixths because he had within him five of the six parts of Yelm.” (FS, p 76) So is the Emperor part of a God? How powerful is he? How debilitating is his decadence?

A: The Red Emperor is not a human. He is a minor deity in his own right, obtaining potency from several sources, and much more powerful than any human being, even most heroes.

First, he is the Emperor of Dara Happa, and the Emperor always includes a part of Yelm within his personal being. The Ten Tests are infallible to prove that at least one part of the candidate for Emperor is simultaneously a portion of Yelm. Most often it is the Virimakus (the immortal Spirit) part, but sometimes it contains other parts as well. The Dara Happans rate the 77 Emperors and quantify which portions of Yelm each had.

The Red Emperor, Takenegi, has proved that he shares in the Great Eagle soul of Yelm. This gives him tremendous spiritual energy to perform multiple tasks, and access to some great magical powers.

He can simultaneously occupy several discrete bodies, is protected by hundreds of defensive magics and dozens of spirits, and is in mental command with thousands of people, the weakest of whom he can simply take over at will. His consciousness can reach out hundreds of miles to investigate oddities or curiosities.

Takenegi’s apparent decadence is a manifestation of his public mask, put on to divert his nobles, mislead his enemies, and entertain himself. It affects only a portion of his total self. He can not get Yelm’s spirit drunk, nor divert his Kazkurtum with sexual shenanigans.

Question From JULIE WATSON.

Q: “Does the Emperor party or not? If so, how does he rule? Is there really a core of cosmic decadence at the core of the Empire?”

Answer provided by MARTIN LAURIE.

A: Yes, he parties, and he rules wisely and well.

The Emperor is a demigod, he is more than human, more than heroic. His mother is the Turner, his teaching is of the lives she has lived and the truths she made available. With his innate power and his Goddess-given majesty, he is a figure of awe, inspiration and emulation for his subjects. Yet he is also the greatest of debauchees, a hedonist without compare and the pinnacle of decadence. How are these views reconciled?

First one must consider the change in the way the Emperor ruled after the wars with Sheng Seleris and the Emperors’ return in the Mask of Magnificus. Before the death of Takengi the Emperor was centered upon his Yelmic souls, as befits one who rules in the way of a Dara Happa. Yet this path was not fulfilling. It did not teach the way of the Goddess, the way of growth and change. Instead it brought stultifying conformity and Yelmic strictness. Therefore, in normal Dara Happan fashion, the emperor’s Other was summoned to end his rule. Sheng Seleris was Takeng’s ritual Other, but Takenegi was not a normal emperor. Sheng Seleris inflicted the change which the Goddess and her Son needed to Turn the Empire upon its road to Zaytenera. Through the service of his Shadow, Takenegi became something new. No longer did his same body return from death, but instead his spirit occupied new Masks as the life of each ended. Thus the rigid unchanging Solar Way was modified from within to become the changable Lunar Way. After this change, another became apparent to those who studied the Emperor at court and in his actions. His Masks to varying degrees and in varying ways became more visceral, more bodily focussed.

Soon the Emperor began to sponsor the ultimate indulgences that were available in Glamour. Debauchees from across the wide Empire came to his Endless Party. Every manner of excess was practised and encouraged. Followers of Yelm were appalled at this change in their beloved Emperor, thinking that such acts ill-befitted the Majesty of Yelm. The Dolathi Mystics were disdainful of the pointless focus on bodily pleasure, for they knew that enlightenment came only through austerity and the spurning of the worlds’ falseness. But the Orgies of Delectation carried on with great intensity despite their disapproval. There was no shortage of people who wished to sample them.

Many came to the Party and most left as burnt out husks, shattered by the delights of spirit and flesh that were designed for the enjoyment of a demi-god and his kin. Yet for every dozen who used themselves up in this way, there emerged one who saw the world with new eyes. The extremity of the acts they’d partaken of had shocked their souls into an appreciation of the Goddess’ message and their own oneness with the Cosmos. They had become enlightened, illuminated, Seventhed by the power of their bodily experience. The Emperor welcomed these folk fresh from their experience, and he gathered them together. He told them that they were the first of a new way. He told them that the way to enlightenment lay not only through renunciation of the world via austerities. Such a rigid view was flawed. He said: “The traditional mystics see their bodies as something to be spurned as they say flesh inevitably binds them to the world of Many, not oneness with the cosmos. They are only partially right, or totally right for some of the poeple. It is not the whole truth. The body that cloaks our spirit is the necessary part of the cosmos which allows us to find liberation. Instead of seeing the body as a hindrance to spiritual growth we can see it as a vessel for the exploration of All, starting with the physical universe. We are both material and spiritual. We seem dual, yet are not dual for both are one within the Cosmos. You who have survived the extremity of your experiences have seen this revelation, one that was given to me by Rashorana upon my Third Return. Now you must teach others of your experiences and give them aid to find them too.”

This was the founding of the Rashoranic Path of Mysticism. The Emperor sent out those he had converted in his Party and created that new way of seeing the Goddess. Its teachings hold that by living life and exploring it without illusion, one can see beyond the veil of both material and spiritual concerns to the oneness of the cosmos. They don’t deny that austerity can bring such enlightenment and they practice austerities as well as ritual excess via sex, food and lifestyle. The Rashoranic way to enlightenment is often rapid, within a mortal lifetime, for the intensity of the Rashoranic experience in the intensity of life itself.

The Red Emperor parties, he is decadent, he is a champion debauchee but he has purpose in all he does. Who else could give a chance at cosmic understanding amid the lusts and indulgences of an orgy?

Question From NICK BROOKE.

Q: Martin Laurie’s Q&A (above) about the Red Emperor’s parties mentioned: “Before the death of Takengi the Emperor was centered upon his Yelmic souls, as befits one who rules in the way of a Dara Happan.”

But the best widely-available overview of the Lunar Empire and Dara Happa, in the Genertela Book, says that in the First Wane of Lunar history, “the patriarchal Dara Happans resisted integration by the feminist Lunars, resulting in political and religious conflict. The Tripolis revolted. From 1270 to 1285 war raged in the Oslir valley, but eventually the cities fell to the Red Moon. The government which had united the cities was exterminated and the Dara Happan lands divided among several Lunar states.”

This strongly suggests that the Red Emperor did not rule in the way of a Dara Happan emperor, given that one of his first major actions was the dismemberment of the ancient DH empire and its replacement with a new government and a new array of “Lunar” successor states.

Can you clarify this, please.

A: Happily. I cite here from the best not-so-widely available overview of the Empire, The Fortunate Succession.

The government of Dara Happa has been reorganized several times since the Dawn. The despotic rule of the Jenarong dynasty was replaced by a more collective administration of Khordavu (26th Emperor). Erzanestyu (35th) instituted a Senate to advise the emperor (though it was subsequently gutted of its powers and significance). Dismesiod (48th) hanged protesters to his rule and instituted the New Witnesses, with new offices and positions. Sarenesh (57th) incorporated many Carmanian practices, only to have them brutally purged by Karsdevan (59th). Other examples exist. All of those were Rulers of Dara Happa, and “ruled in the way of Dara Happa.” Takenegi’s changes were no more radical than most of those cited here.

Takenegi’s continuation is also indicated by the fact that he was enthroned using the ancient rites, and followed the ancient customs upon that enthronement. He even underwent the Eleventh Test to prove he was the true emperor.

Furthermore, Takenegi spent the first century or so proving that he was still the proper Solar-type Emperor. He underwent the complete ceremonies as Lord of the Four Quarters, and then went on to perform others.

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