Question in the Glorantha Digest by Orlanth Umathi, answer by Greg Stafford. Published 4th Apr 2007
Q: Greg, please explain in simple terms why the underworld keeps coming up as a theme whenever we talk about the “grey area” guys in Glorantha.
A: I am at a loss to explain the reasons, since I both:
- don’t know all the examples of which you speak; and
- don’t know why other people bring this up.
Your questions is also a bit vague for me to get a handle on what you are asking. Nonetheless…
Q: What is it about the underworld?
A: I *THINK* “it” is about the fact that the Underworld is the illogical ancestress of known Glorantha. It precedes all that can be known, and thus can not be truly known in of itself. It houses mystery, spawns mystery and is a mystery itself. It is not any one of the Otherworlds, but has aspects of them all. Many think that the Otherworlds themselves were spawned from the Underworld.
Q: I have been trying to get this straight in my head for years. Stygian Heresy was my first confusion, what does this heresy have to do with the underworld or the Styx?
A: Nothing. It’s a name given to the heresy by the people who didn’t know about it. Stygian is a synonym for “of the underworld” and when the Seshnegi were confronted with Arkat, who had been Malkioni but, upon returning to Ralios was a darkness devotee of some sort who still used sorcery, they thought it “hellish” and dubbed his region the Stygian Lands. And his religion, about which they knew virtually nothing, was called the Stygian Heresy.Note: he never called it that, just his enemies.
Hint: no one ever calls their own religion a heresy.
Q: Then there is the more recent discussion on chaos. Why for instance should Mallia be connected to the underworld, as an ex-fertility god?
A: She was dead when she did her deed with the others, hence of the underworld. Also, all fertility has underworld connections, both as a place of origins of life and the destination of it.
Q: Is it just that the “chaotic events” happened during the eras of darkness? I would understand if chaos originated in the underworld but that won’t fit with published facts, take for example Cults of Terror.
A: There is a connection of frightening things with the Underworld, not all of which are deserved. Connections are often made that are not “real.” And, as you point out, the connection between the Great Darkness and Chaos is legitimate.While we are on nomenclature, let me point out the diference between the Darkness/Lesser Darkness and the Great Darkness. These are Solar terms. The Lesser Darkness is known to the Orlanthi as the Storm Age, a wonderful and glorious era.
Q: The Birth of Chaos has this to say: At first these creatures seem to have seeped through cracks in the world’s logic.
A: Well, if you can locate the “world’s logic” you are doing better than I! 🙂
Q: Later, The Gods’ last stand states on its origins: Most of these places are on the far edges of Glorantha, where the forces of order were weakest.
A: In the north, in fact.
Q: Apart from some troll history, the death of various deities, and the Lightbringer’s quest, published material steers clear of the underworld. In fact there is only one occurrence of the word in the Cults of Terror Cosmology and History. A: Just never got to publish much about it.
Q: I understand that there is some precedence for gods that died being tied to the Underworld for a part of the year, and an analogy with the Underworld and Winter, but apart from that I don’t see why it is so often quoted as a source of such guys as Vivamort.
A: Vivamort was, I believe, stated to have been a darkness deity to begin with. But I’d not say all the vampiric entities came from the Underworld. Hope this clarifies that which can not be seen. 🙂 YGWV
- Belintar’s Book: Aldrya’s Own Story (1998)
- Greg Sez Guest: Does the Emperor party or not? (Jan 1999)
- Greg Sez Guest: Dragon Slayers and Dragons of Saird (Feb 1999)
- Greg Sez Guest: EAST ISLES: United or not? (Jan 1999)
- Greg Sez Guest: The Mighty Janube (Nov 1998)
- Greg Sez Guests: Five Troll Questions (Sep 1999)
- Greg Sez: Barbarians – Heortlings, Vingkotlings, and Orlanthi (Jan 1998)
- Greg Sez: Between the Devil and the Dawn Age (Aug 1998)
- Greg Sez: Chaos Taints Q&A (2007)
- Greg Sez: Divinity and Gender (2009)
- Greg Sez: Ducks and Eggs (Dec 1997)
- Greg Sez: How Big Is My God? (Oct 1998)
- Greg Sez: How Does the Red Emperor Rule? (Feb 1999)
- Greg Sez: Humakt Illuminated? (Apr 1998)
- Greg Sez: Information about Elves (Jan 2000)
- Greg Sez: Malkioni Literacy (May 1999)
- Greg Sez: Metals In Prax (Feb 1998)
- Greg Sez: Mistress Race Trolls
- Greg Sez: Second Age Peloria and Carmania (2007)
- Greg Sez: Sheng Seleris in Hell (May 1998)
- Greg Sez: Tada’s High Tumulus (Feb 2000)
- Greg Sez: The Kingdom of War (Jul 1998)
- Greg Sez: The Mother of Monsters (Aug 2009)
- Greg Sez: The Nature of Harmony and Fertility (Jun 1999)
- Greg Sez: The Red Emperor (Sep 1998)
- Greg Sez: The Sky World (Aug 2009)
- Greg Sez: The Southpath Gods (Jul 1999)
- Greg Sez: Who Are the Blue Peoples? (Mar 1998)
- Greg Sez: Who are the Dog Fathers? (May 1999)
- Greg Sez: Who was Baroshi? (Jun 1998)
- Greg Sez: Why do the Giants use the River of Cradles (May 1999)
- Greg Sez: Yelmalio (Mar 2000)
- Library of Londarios: Ancestors of the Lenshi Kings (1998)
- Library of Londarios: Clarifying the Primal Worlds (Feb 2003)
- Library of Londarios: Danmalastan (1999)
- Library of Londarios: Deneskerva the Great Sister
- Library of Londarios: Postcards From Glorantha (Mar 2004)
- Library of Londarios: Stellar FAQ (Dec 1999)
- Library of Londarios: The Abiding Book (1999)
- Library of Londarios: The Birth of Elmal (1993)
- Library of Londarios: The Kings of Seshnela, Part One (1999)
- Library of Londarios: The Kings of Seshnela, Part Three (1999)
- Library of Londarios: The Kings of Seshnela, Part Two (1999)
- Library of Londarios: What the Mystic Taught Me (1998)
- Myth of the Month: Aedin’s Wall (2000)
- Myth of the Month: Chariots and Chariot Gods (2003)
- Myth of the Month: How Orlanth Met Ernalda (1998)
- Myth of the Month: How the Islands Came Apart (1998)
- Myth of the Month: How Vith Pacified the Anti-Gods
- Myth of the Month: Malkioni Otherworld (2001)
- Myth of the Month: Morden Defends the Camp (1999)
- Myth of the Month: Orlanth makes a Ring (1998)
- Myth of the Month: Shang-Hsa (1998)
- Myth of the Month: Shargash the Destroyer (1998)
- Myth of the Month: The Blue Dragon Sshorga (Dec 1999)
- Myth of the Month: The Orogeria Moon (1998)
- Myth of the Month: The Vithelan Creation of the World (1998)