All Malkionism begins with the teachings of Malkion, where questions pertaining to laws of nature, the origin of the universe and the place of man in it are asked.
These are incredibly ancient religious texts – first preserved in the writings of Zzabur. Since the Expulsion it has not been possible for ordinary mortals to consult Zzabur’s library, so people are reliant on texts that have been copied and recopied over the millennia.
Shortly after the Dawn, Prince Hrestol, the son of Talar Froalar, had a religion vision and was instructed by Malkion to smash down the old order and to establish justice and make the world a place for mortals. This was the first “division”- from the perspective of those who relied on the writings of Zzabur, this was heresy – an “innovation”. From the perspective of Hrestol and his companions, this came directly from Malkion and thus took precedence over his previous writings.
With Hrestol, we now have two different sources of theological authority – the writings of Zzabur AND the teachings of Hrestol and his companions. But quickly we get more. Malkion divided human society into castes; one of those castes, the zzaburi, were the scholar/priests, and naturally they had lots of scholarly disagreement. Many disagreements were seen as reasonable (and thus tolerated), but some were seen as heretical. And thus Malkionism developed into many different schools of thought, especially along the following issues:
- Caste stability versus caste mobility;
- The question of Tapping;
- Metaphorical versus literal;
- Personal experience of the Invisible God versus teachings of Malkion/Hrestol/etc;
- Joy versus Solace;
- Mystical versus legal;
- Tradition versus empiricism;
- Worship of the Invisible God alone versus worship of lesser emanations (aka gods and spirits) and veneration of heroes.
We give many of these schools of thoughts labels and names, although these labels oversimplify. Even within a well defined school such as Rokarism or New Hrestolism, there are often disagreements.
After Arkat, this all gets even more convoluted, as the Malkioni try to understand Arkat’s magical explorations AND try to determine where and how it went wrong. Throw in a few centuries of God Learner experiments and discoveries and you can imagine how far diverse Malkioni thought got during the Second Age.
The major modern sects of Malkionism are reactions against the philosophical excesses and hubris of the Second Age. But within them they have many movements.
So for example, even among the Rokari we have those that take a metaphorical interpretation of texts more than a literal interpretation, or that view empiricism as a better theological foundation than tradition.
For ordinary people, Malkionism offers you at least Solace in the face of Death. And for some it offers Joy.
Sadly, far too many of us cynics view Solace as some kind of con job – but remember Solace is real. The Malkioni have comfort and reassurance in the face of Death. Although that is not a tangible game mechanic cool power, it is a rational consolation that is of value to many.
Zzabur the Sorcerer Supreme was the Perfect Thought that emanated from the primal being called Malkion. Zzabur applied logical philosophy to understand and shape the world.
The magical writings of Zzabur are among the most ancient texts in Glorantha. Within these texts, Zzabur described the origins of the cosmos and the Runes, the genealogies of the gods, and the events of the Gods War. The books were named for their color, as each used parchment made from the skins of Vadeli. Thus, there is a Brown Book, a Red Book, and a Blue Book. What each book contained was a source of debate and dispute between the various sects of Malkioni and Knowledge Temples.
In the Second Age, the enigmatic God Learners discovered a fragment of Zzabur‘s Red Book. The book detailed the origins of the cosmos and the Runes of Acos, beginning with Chaos and the emergence of the Powers and Elements. From that fragment, the God Learners began to categorize magic associated with gods and spirit as part of the Mythical Synthesis Movement. In 850 ST, the Revised Red Book was presented by the God Learners Collective to Bralak, Emperor of the Land and Sea.
The Revised Red Book is thought to be the first text that differentiated Rune magic from spirit magic. It also synthesized different spells with near-identical effects into a common spell with a descriptive name. Under this rubric, the label Bladesharp comprised a thousand different spirit techniques for enhancing the deadliness of a bladed weapon and the protective blessings of dozens of different cults all became known as Shield.
The original Revised Red Book was lost in the disasters that ended the Second Age, but enough fragments survived to enable the authors to reconstruct much, if not all, of that wondrous tome, now simply called The Red Book of Magic.
So if you imagine, along the western coastline of Genertela, we have many centres of intellectual discourse and discussion. Imagine the wizards debating in Leplain or Southpoint, with the most radical journeying to Sog City to consult copies of ancient texts kept within the City of Brass. This gets diffused by other wizards, taught to talars, and is forced to confront experiences of initiates and the power of cults.