One thing that writing the Cults Book has really hammered into me is how much fear the traditional rulers of Peloria (aka the Yelm cult) have for Lodril as Monster Man. But even more so, how much terror and loathing they have for Gorgorma, who is everything the Yelm cult fears about women, sex, and the Other. But then here is where it gets interesting – the Lunars say that Gorgorma is a manifestation of Gerra and Natha, and the Red Goddess befriended Gorgorma in the Underworld.As a result, the head of the Yelm cult holds Gorgorma on a leash. Officially tolerated but usually discouraged, the Red Emperor can always unleash her if the local rulers disappoint him.
And here’s the REALLY interesting thing – you can’t have Dendara without Gorgorma. Dendara insists on that and even the Yelmites accept that. She is acknowledged as a fear that cannot be expelled, a shadow that no light can dispel.
Now the Earth cults approach this different. Ernalda includes Dendara but also a lot more, with many husbands and many lovers – including Yelm and Orlanth, but also pretty much anyone who paired with the Earth. Uxorial loyalty is not her thing – fertility and Earth are. Her twin sister is the destructive Earth – so what we know is dangerous and malevolent about the Earth itself – earthquakes, curses, and that jazz.
But the vengeful side of things is contained in her daughter, Babeester Gor, who is acknowledged, accepted, and supported. BG is feared, but also viewed as useful by the local rulers, most of whom are tied directly or indirectly to the Ernalda cult.
In short, the Ernalda v. Dendara/Gorgorma cults hold a tremendous amount of cultural information. And honestly is a more interesting discussion to me than the perennial “are Elmal and Yelmalio different gods?” The God Learners were convinced that Ernalda and Dendara are the same BUT they failed to prove it and both goddesses refused to confirm them. However, the Pure Horse People of Pent worship Dendara, but the Grazelanders worship Ernalda. Which is interesting indeed…
Also interesting to me is where Ourania and Yelorna fit in this, in that they are among the very very few celestial goddesses. Ourania is celibate and pure, but Yelorna may marry (although only to Earth and Sky cultists).