In 1220 ST, great stirrings in the world centered in the land of Peloria, presaging an event that would utterly change the world. It was the birth of the Red Goddess. Her birth was a long-wrought magical spell completed with the extraordinary event. Some say that the goddess was a shattered spirit from the Gods Age who was resurrected by the Seven Mothers. No one knows her parents.
The unearthly powers of the Red Goddess stirred fear and mistrust from the peoples and deities about her, and her early life was a time of battle and victory. Her fights were temporal at first, then she entered a great heroquest to find herself and her secret inner powers. She was gone for years; her lands fell into disrepair as enemies slowly crushed them. At last, she reappeared, this time leading the Crimson Bat, and she spread terror before her. Afterwards, with the Bat and her army, she continued her conquests.
The Red Goddess met and overcame several strange deities in her heroquesting, who are said to be part of her source of odd powers. These gods include Arachne Solara and Nysalor, and philosophers say she also is intimate with Time. To the gods of the world, these are all strange powers, and many still fear and mistrust her.
Happily the Red Goddess in no way condones the widespread worship of Chaos entities which follow the way of the Devil and fall into moral depravities. The religion and state do not forbid it, either, as required by their philosophy. The rulers are adroit at manipulating the results if people do fall into the ways of Chaotic gods. Lunar history contains lessons of generals and priests gone bad, and point them out as bad examples.
By its faith, the Lunar Empire must accept Chaos and make use of it as necessary. The Crimson Bat is an example of how this can be done, as may be the vampire regiment rumored to be training in the mountains of Peloria. Yet many Lunar heroes gained fame by killing Vivamort cultists or smashing the slave heads of Thanatar. The awareness of the educated or sensitive concerning the proximity of Chaos makes them acutely aware of their dire responsibilities. The teachings of the Red Goddess, though passionate and fierce, strongly admonish against certain temptations.
The Lunar religion is one of unendurable freedom compared to most of the religions and societies of its time. Inner secrets reveal the immense dangers of such freedom, and Lunar disasters of over-experimentation sometimes are noted. But to attain such cosmic freedom, it is necessary to include a worshipful understanding of the Chaotic bondage of mindlessness and the Void. Such concepts, though, are alien to most trained minds of the world, and proven ways of life and religion do not bend easily in the face of novelty. The Lunars, of course, consider this rigidity to be ignorance and imbalance.
It is unnecessary for Lunars to be exposed to gruesome Chaotic things, and warnings spread throughout their teachings admonish the unprepared to stay off those dismal paths. The more awful manifestations of Chaos, such as the Crimson Bat, are no more loved by loyal Lunar citizens than they are by the Empire’s enemies. But Chaotic elements are tolerated officially, and rather than knowing nothing but fear toward such monsters, Lunar citizens have the questionable surety of the words of government and religion that such horrors can be controlled.
It is, IMO, important to remember that the Lunar Way’s acceptance of Chaos is far more than merely using the Crimson Bat. Chaos is part the secret inner powers of the Red Goddess – she is after all associated with the Chaos Rune.
But the Lunar Way holds that Chaos is not in and of itself evil. The Red Goddess cult strongly admonishes against succumbing to the temptations of Wakboth – but also recognises that each must face that temptation themself.
And just as there are examples of Lunar generals and priests succumbing to the temptations of the Devil, there are examples of Lunar heroes that have rejected that path. The Lunar Way holds that path must be acknowledged and available for there to be the possibility of cosmic liberation.
It should also be acknowledged that many other religions – that of the Lightbringers, Earth, Darkness, the Invisible God, etc., – find that to be madness. Of course, Madness is one of the Red Goddess’ spells…
As an aside, a book that was quite useful for me when I was writing the Lunar cults is The Taming of Demons, which explores some of the violent themes from 9th-10th century tantric Buddhism. The Lunar Way and its relationship with Chaos has some interesting parallels.
Remember, most who lost their innate fear of Chaos due to Rashorana’s teachings succumbed to the Greater Darkness without a struggle. There’s a point there as well.
Uleria and Humakt didn’t succumb to chaos, doubly interesting – although Humakt is illuminated and his cult ambivalent about Chaos, Humakt considers the Red Goddess to be a hated enemy. Chew on that for a while. Indeed, Humakt hates the Red Goddess as much as Orlanth, Storm Bull, Kyger Litor and Zorak Zoran do. There’s some deeper mysteries there.
Important point – the Red Goddess is unambiguously associated with the Chaos Rune and her cult makes no secret of it. Indeed, it holds that acceptance of Chaos is necessary for spiritual liberation (although the cult does not condone embracing Wakboth or other moral evils – then again, it does not forbid that either). The closer one gets to Glamour the more this is obvious.
But the Seven Mothers – and most other Lunar cults – are associated with the Moon Rune alone and not with the Chaos Rune. They accept and revere the Red Goddess’ revelations, but few initiates of these cults understand its meaning. Much is held to be metaphorical rather than literal, and an emphasis is often placed on promises that the religion can control Chaos and its horrors. That is why the Seven Mothers is a missionary cult – it points towards the secrets of the Lunar Way and prepares us for them but they themself cannot reveal them.
Nick Brooke says: Probably worth noting in this context that while the Seven Mothers is in no sense a chaotic cult, perpetrating Kinstrife is unequivocally a chaotic act.
Let’s be precise. Kinstrife – and the entire Gods War can be viewed as one gigantic act of kinstrife (Shargash for example was Umath’s nephew, and Yelm ordered his own brother’s destruction) – weakens the world and allows Chaos in. It is not itself Chaotic any more than Death is (and careless use of Death weakens the world and allows Chaos in).