The Red Goddess was born out of the parts of ancient Moon deities, shattered and broken in the Gods War, but reunited and reborn in Time. For her the Gods Time is an era of suffering, pain, and loss – but is redeemed by Time. Time is after all cyclical, not endless, and the Red Goddess wanes and waxes. She is ever-victorious, but also ever-defeated. She succumbs to Chaos but also restores Life, only to succumb to Chaos again. If you can’t accept these principles, you can’t truly hear Her message.
The Red Goddess was Illuminated by Nysalor in the Underworld, and was able to then defeat and bind Gbaji. Without Illumination it is impossible to reach the Red Goddess.
Life and Chaos are united by the cycles of the Moon. Like Yelm, she is able to embraces opposites thanks to her Illumination. Masks and mirrors are important concepts. She is her own Shadow – she is both Light and Chaos. But that is hard stuff to digest, and beyond what most people will ever reach.
Now that’s why the Seven Mothers is promoted. They are not Illuminated. They are not associated with Chaos. But they do prepare people to accept the Red Goddess. And they point towards the path that might take one to Her, although most do not follow it.
That path is not about civilization, about empire, even about healing the world. It is about accepting and embracing our own Shadow, about accept BOTH the Full Moon and the Dead Moon.
One of Greg’s greatest creations. and she is locked in conflict with one of Greg’s other greatest creations – Orlanth. The dance between Orlanth and the Red Goddess was the last necessary ingredient to turn Glorantha into a mythological masterpiece.
The Seven Mothers manage to unite Life and Death through the Moon Rune, but they are externalities, a superficial understanding. You need to go much further to get to the Red Goddess herself – Illumination and Chaos are both needed.
The Red Goddess is not associated with the Illusion Rune and magic, and yet the Moon Rune is often associated with illusions. So what’s going on there?
Simple – the Red Goddess shows us that existence, reality, order and Chaos are all “illusions” – reality as “illusion” or maya. Reality – even eternity – is constantly changing, and thus ultimately temporary and illusory. What is spiritual reality then? That requires Illumination to answer.
We are All Us. The microcosm is the mesocosm is each of us.
One of the things about acknowledging that you are your own Shadow is that you accept that you are both a good guy and a bad guy. The Red Goddess is both benevolent and malevolent. She freed her people from Carmanian slavery, but killed or drove mad thousands of her own followers in the process. And she’s not an ends justifies the means kind of goddess. She’s both saintly and a devil. That’s what it means to be the Moon.
To some extent that is inherent in all Gloranthan Heroes – having one foot in the divine world means that by necessity you have one foot in the Gods War, and are truly awe-ful. But the Red Goddess takes it even further, having one foot in Life and the other in Chaos. There’s a path there for those willing to walk it, and it requires many sacrifices – of self, of others, of spiritual illusions. But if one can stay on the path and continue, it holds the promise of something greater – of cosmic liberation.
And not cosmic liberation as some kind of Marxian or Christian liberation of the poor or weak – but our own liberation from spiritual illusion, from the temporary and changeable.
The Red Goddess established her empire. She appointed her son to rule it when she became the Red Moon Goddess. The empire was conquered with chaos, bloodshed, and madness – unleashed by the Red Goddess, not Moonson.
And the Lunar Empire has survived four centuries – which is longer than pagan Rome lasted. What the Red Goddess might say is that all things in this world – even my empire – is an illusion and doomed to rise and fall. That is the way of things. We can momentarily reach Oneness, but whenever we try to prolong that moment, we invariable fail. But that is in the nature of mortal beings inside of Time and the things they build.