One of the clear distinctions made in the Compromise is that Chaos is not of this world. The deities and powers of the world had touched it, and were still afraid of it, and their continued existence required that they remain apart from Chaos. Chaos became the enemy which must be fought and suppressed. With one enemy recognized by everyone, the squabbling deities found a common theme for unity.That statement is attributed to the God Learners, but could be said by any Dawn Age Orlanthi, trolls, aldryami, mostali, Malkioni, Praxians, and Yelmites. In the late First Age, the Sun stopped in the sky and Nysalor was born. Nysalor taught that Chaos is, in itself, neither evil nor inimical. His followers used this knowledge – called Illumination – to use Chaos to further their goals. As we all know, a terrible war followed, Nysalor was torn into pieces and his cult scattered.
Centuries later, the Red Goddess met and overcame Arachne Solara and Nysalor on her great Goddess Quest. She returned from the Underworld with a Chaos god called the Crimson Bat and used Chaos to destroy her foes. She now teaches Nysalor’s path to Illumination and by its faith, the Lunar Empire must accept Chaos in philosophy. 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 admonishes against certain temptations.
The Lunar Way in no way condones the worship of Chaos entities which follow the ways of Gbaji and fall into moral depravity. 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 way of the Chaos gods. Lunar history contains lessons of generals and priests gone bad and point them out as bad examples.The world hates the Empire because it includes Chaos within its worship. This is a clear and necessary stand for the old gods to have, for their very existence is based upon the fighting of Chaos.But the Red Goddess, born inside Time, has other options, and wisely uses them to maintain her power among the gods of the cosmos. Her secrets are woven into Balance and Time, resulting in the Lunar cycles laid upon the surface of the world.
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.
This is the core conflict about the Lunar Empire – its relationship with Chaos and whether that is progress or destructive lie. We can spin that around and around and around again, and the best answer we get is “Both”.
Did she really overcome Arachne Solara? Yes, but what that means might be other than what people think. She contacted Arachne Solara, was not destroyed, and gained a secret boon or knowledge from her. That is what the Lunars mean when they say the Red Goddess overcame her.
She Who Waits is not Arachne Solara, nor is the Red Goddess.
The Red Goddess meeting Arachne Solara in the underworld is one of the oldest and best known parts of the Seven Steps of the Red Goddess. Although no doubt there have been Lunars who have wanted to conflate the Red Goddess and the Spider Mother, the Red Goddess herself rejected that identification (as she also rejected the identification with Entakos).
What about her identifications in the Entekosiad? One of the sub-themes of the Entekosiad was Greg pointing out that not all identifications are correct. But who knows – perhaps you will be able to repeat the Goddess’ Quest and prove that you are Arachne Solara, instead of simply learn secrets of the web. Maybe you can fight off Cragspider (who might make similar claims). After all YGWV.
The Compromise includes Time, which allows the gods and Chaos to co-exist as this account makes clear:The Spider Woman constructed a great and magical web made of many things no longer found in the world, and then she gave the web to all the gods to hold ready between them, to use as a net. When Chaos entered their realm, the gods cast the net upon the Devil and held him tight. While the other deities had distracted the Devil, Arachne Solara leapt upon him with vengeance and a strength of desperation and mystical splendor. She enwrapped the Chaos god in her many legs and struggled mightily, and at last devoured the evil soul.The great beings of the universe then held council and tried to discover what their further course of action might be. The Seven Lightbringers proved that they could lead the way out of the Underworld, but they were not sure what world was left outside. Their Old Way was gone forever, replaced by empty void and Chaos. But they could no longer exist within the confines of the universe.Arachne Solara proved capable of communicating with the Beingless Voice of Eternity. Through her, and with the Voice, the gods made unchangeable pacts and carved themselves into powerful spells. Arachne Solara led a great dance, reconstructing the shattered cosmic matrix, linking all the surviving gods within an immutable web of pacts and oaths, bonds and relationships, conjurations and creations. The gods swore themselves into a Great Compromise with Chaos, wherein the Old World and the New World (of Death and Chaos) would co-exist, alternating their forces and powers along the myriads of weaves within the matrix of the universe. She revealed her child, born after she devoured the Devil. The child is Time, the Pledge of the Gods, and all existence swore by it to uphold their agreements. This is the Great Compromise, and it is the oath which recreated the world.
Don’t some of the Pamaltelan cultures also integrate Chaos into their society? Ompalam is the God of Slavery and Submission, and is the Greater God of Fonrit. He holds that Slavery is the one cosmic law. The God Learners associated him with the Chaos Rune.
Are the Lunars humanists? The Lunars are not humanist. That’s the Malkioni.
But all lunar deities are ascended humans. It is worth remembering that the Lunar deities are deities, regardless of whether they started as mortals. Hon-eel is now as separated from other mortals as Sartar or Orlanth. The Red Goddess teaches that Illumination – a divine secret beyond reason – is the foundation for understanding the cosmos.
The Malkioni – especially the Rokari – view mortal reason and rationality as the starting point for understanding the cosmos. That’s why they are humanists.
Illumination is not the process of rational thought. Thinking about being illuminated and trying to understand will not result in illumination. The process of Illumination is irrational.
Malkionism, on the other hand, is rational and logical, and prioritizes human experience and understanding.