Greg Sez: Understanding Windstop and Esrolia (2005)

Prompted by discussion on the mailing lists in December 2005, Greg Stafford writes:

A recent series of questions on one of the lists has prompted me to attempt an answer here, with some elaboration not quite compatible with a list format. Some of the questions that came up are apparently the result of speculation and theory, but not supported by me, nor my history and mythology of Glorantha. I don’t care how clever or entrenched that speculation may be, if it is incorrect.

1.I thought Orlanth was killed by the fall of Whitewall.
 Correct. This is what occurred in this story. However, as everyone knows, Orlanth is the Great God of Air, and all of the air in Glorantha is part of his body. Nowhere does it state that all of the air was struck down, and so it is obvious that his death was a local phenomenon of the 250 miles around Whitewall. Tarsh was protected by the Glowline.
2.Why did the Windstop affect Esrolia?
 The simple answer is because it was within the zone of the holy places that were immediately affected. That is, the ancient seat of Whitewall is the center of a region of Orlanth worship. It extends in a more-or-less circle out from there and encompassed all of the air within that region. Thus it went out over Prax, into Dragon Pass, out to sea and, of course, over Esrolia as well.Of course, all air is connected, and all of the air wasn’t stopped by this magical act. This rather indicates that Orlanth wasn’t really dead, but was rather, was only locally dead.
3.Why were the subcults of Orlanth affected?
 The subcults are extensions and specializations of Orlanth’s powers. They do not exist without him. Many of them are actually Orlanth in a specific role. When something affects the Great God, then it affects the aspects and subcults as well.
4.Why was Ernalda affected? She doesn’t derive her powers from Orlanth.
 As is well known, she is the wife and help mate of the great Storm God, and has often healed him and supported his efforts in many ways. There are not two religions, but one, which is of Orlanth and Ernalda.The two are inseparable, and could not exist without each other any more than men and women could exist without each other. Thus the Lunar efforts to disable Orlanth was also an effort to disable Ernalda.
5.Was Ernalda affected in Esrolia too?
 Yes. The Ernalda worshipped in Esrolia is the same divine entity worshipped by the Heortlings.
6.But wait, in Esrolia, isn’t Orlanth just one of the six husband-protectors of Ernalda and no more mythologically important than the other five?
 The goddesses of Esrolia have many husband-protectors, and Orlanth is one of those for Ernalda. It does not matter that she has other husbands as well. Her relationship with Orlanth is the critical one in this action. Ernalda’s liaisons and other marriages are acknowledged among the Heortlings as well, but that did not alter the effects in Hendrikiland.
7.But I thought the Esrolians were fundamentally mythologically different from the Heortlings?
 No. They worship the same entities and often with the same rites. They emphasize different parts, and certainly emphasize different relationships, than the Heortlings. But they are the same entities. No one in Esrolia would claim that their Ernalda is different from the Ernalda of Hendrikiland, Dragon Pass or Tarsh.
8.But women rule in Esrolia, so didn’t they heroquest to change Orlanth’s relationship with Ernalda?
 No. Both Orlanth and Ernalda are Great Gods, and it is essentially impossible to change their essential beings. The founders of Esrolia changed the manner in which they worship their deities, and the importance that they have in their social structure. But they did not require heroquesting to do this (since they lived in the creative, pre-time era.)
9.So what are the roles of the other husband-protectors?
 Their jobs are generally twofold. One is to sacrifice themselves for the good of the goddess. One protects her in the night time, another in the day time, one from beings of light, another from beings of the sea, etc. (These functions are the same for the Orlanthi of Dragon Pass, for the most part.)The second major function is to be the progenitor of certain crops that grow in the lowlands of Esrolia but not in the higher altitudes of Kerofinela.None of them are accorded worship as King of the Gods.
10.OK, so what is Imarja?
 Imarja is an entity from none of the Otherworlds, but rather, one of the “everything entities” who encompasses the beings within her realm. She is the Greatest Goddess of the region, accorded worship and respect by everyone in her territory. She is the source and manifestation of many of the feminine powers of the region, sort of an alternative circuit for many of the powers of Ernalda and her family.

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