The Gloranthan deities fulfill psychological or cosmic needs, if they are to be worshiped. Even Zorak Zoran and Storm Bull has their place in the cosmos and in the needs of their worshipers. They often do awful deeds (in the literal meaning of the word) that demonstrate their divine power.
Because the gods are powerful, but not all-powerful or all-knowing, the question of theodicy that so often consumes moderns just doesn’t show up. Ever seen a tornado close up? That’s divine power. Is it good or is it evil? It simply IS – a part of the cosmos. In Glorantha I can wield some of that divine power by initiating to the cult of Orlanth.
Orlanth is a destructive and violent god (tornadoes, hurricanes, thunder, lightning, etc.) who also is an upholder of cosmic order. He and the Sun had a rivalry, which he ended by unleashing Death (another divine manifestation). Because of this, we have Time, Day and Night, and the world we mortals recognise. As farmers we love him, for his storms bring the rain that fertilizes the earth and lets us grow crops.
Is Orlanth a “good” god? The Orlanthi say yes – he lets them wield his power, his associates and friends are broad and useful, and his cult is the cornerstone for their social organisation. Non-Orlanthi tend to view devoting oneself to such a destructive force to be foolish at the very least. Who’s to say who is right? All we can say is that the Orlanth cult has certainly proven itself to be useful and has spread itself far and wide.
Thunder Rebels really missed the point here – and Greg and I made the decision not to update it for HQ because we both agreed it really didn’t describe the Orlanthi religion in Dragon Pass. If it describes anything, it is the henotheism of the Chariot of Lightning movement in Ralios, where Orlanth is worshiped as the supreme god (instead of just “king of the gods”). But that is a topic for another thread.
“his associates and friends” ? That was a quick way of saying, his cult is associated with a whole pantheon of deities, including the Earth Mother, Grain Goddess, Storm Bull, Plow Man, the Healing Goddess, the Talking God, the Knowing God, the Trickster, the Rain God, the Mover, the Sky Bear, the Winter King, and more. And the cult of Death is friendly to him, one of the few cults that get that respect.
So by worshiping Orlanth, we gain access to a broad range of powers and forces that are useful for mortals.
Now we could do that same exercise with plenty of other cults. So Yelmalio is a useful deity because he is the Light that is not extinguished by the Darkness. We humans fear the Dark, and Yelmalio defends us – that’s a psychological need. He is also a cosmic force as he was not extinguished in the Greater Darkness – some Light always remains in the Middle World.
And by worshiping Yelmalio we gain an invite to a greater group of gods, including the Sun God, the Earth Goddess, the Horsebreaker, and the Forest Goddess.
Orlanth is both an elemental force and a psychological archetype. Simultaneously. That’s pretty common with the gods.
What particular psychological or cosmic need does the Invisible God fulfill for the Malkioni? The need for a human-centric materialist universe is so pervasive that it is probably hard for many people to imagine anything else.