Understanding Jar-eel


The Fourth Inspiration of Moonson, Incarnation of the Red Goddess in Time, daughter/lover/mother of the Red Emperor, poetess and musician, defeater of barbarians, etc. Jar-eel is the great-granddaughter of the demigoddess Hon-eel the Artess and the defender of Lunar civilization and enlightenment.Blessed with grace, intelligence, and beauty, she has already become an immortal. She is a living goddess, seemingly flawless, merciful and cruel, with an enigmatic smile like the moon. The perfect face of Lunar civilization, she inspires lust and love with all who see her, and yet kills without hesitation or remorse.

Jar-eel has proven herself as a peerless fighter, magician, poet, musician, and Heroquester. She has stormed impregnable citadels, transformed rebels into followers, dismembered an enemy demigod, debated gods in contests where her soul was at stake, given rightful order to Chaos, and emerged triumphant from the Pit of Sorrows as the Balancer and Turner. She saves Beat-Pot Aelwrin and he becomes her most devoted servant and one her lovers. It is worth keeping in mind that Jar-eel and Argrath are each other’s shadow self. Argrath is the rebel, the romantic adventuring hero, the magical rock star who reinvents himself whenever you think you got him figured out. Jar-eel on the contrary is a goddess of the Empire. Her attributes are not only love, beauty, sex, war, and justice (and do not forget how important her sense of justice), but also political power. She moves on from conquest to conquest like Inanna. Although she is a goddess of love, beauty, and sex, she is not associated with marriage and is not associated with grains, general fertility, etc. She has one child as far as we know and that is not a key part of her identity as a living goddess. A living goddess of love and war.In terms of a real world point of reference, I’d look at Inanna and her various echoes. Here’s a great hymn to Inanna that works great for Jar-eel:

She stirs confusion and chaos against those who are disobedient to her,
speeding carnage and inciting the devastating flood,
clothed in terrifying radiance.
It is her game to speed conflict and battle, untiring, strapping on her sandals.

And of course, when we think of our goddess of love and war riding atop the Crimson Bat, we can’t help but think of Revelations:

I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast,
full of names of blasphemy... 

And that of course is Jar-eel as well – the Mother of Abominations, the Scarlet Woman, and of course Babalon.

Apocalypse by Gebhard Fugel, source: Wikimedia commons

If we look at the relationship between Jar-eel and Beatpot, we easily get Inanna and Dumazi. Beatpot is her lover, her cook, and her priest – but Jar-eel has all the agency. She takes other lovers – that is her prerogative as a living goddess of love and war. If Jar-eel gets killed, he’d better mourn her, or he’s going to be in a world of hurt when she gets out of the Underworld!

Jar-eel is also the dominant personality in the Lunar Empire of the 8th Wane. She overshadows “her father” the Red Emperor and everyone else. She walks into the court, and all eyes are on her. Jar-eel is what most people see when they imagine the Red Goddess.

Justice is also a key attribute to Jar-eel. But it is not Justice as we moderns might think of it. It is the justice of Natha – retribution against those deserving of it, and protection for those deserving of it. It is beyond law, moderation, or social agreement – it is divine and terrifying in expression.

She is Nemesis to those who harms the Lunar Empire. Implacable justice against those who would harm or threaten the followers of the Red Moon.

This Nemesis function is where her Cruel/Merciful contradiction comes in. To those who have harmed the Lunar Empire (a very fuzzy definition), she is a terrible goddess of vengeance. But to those who need its protection, she is benevolent, kind, and loving.

To her foes, Jar-eel is the Whore of Glamour, who rides a Scarlet Abomination. She consorts with broo, vampires, and other monstrosities. To them, Jar-eel is a personification of the Lunar Empire and of Evil itself.

Source, Wikimedia commons

There definitely were Inanna-Babalon-Whore of Babylon themes going on with Jar-eel. Remember at the time Greg was publishing Bonewits, and Babalon riding the Beast was a common motif in the SF Bay counterculture of the 60s and 70s. Heck I can remember psychedelic posters with that theme in Berkeley bookstores as a kid in the late 70s/early 80s.And when you imagine Jar-eel riding the Crimson (Scarlet) Bat with its many tongues and eyes, the imagery becomes unescapable.

I am just going with the idea that there would have been plenty of Scarlet Woman/Whore of Babylon imagery going around when Jar-eel was created. It is only a hop-skip-and a jump from that to having Babylonian imagery for Dara Happa.

I cannot think of a more divisive figure in Glorantha than Jar-eel, maybe only Arkat rivals her. She is a living goddess within the Empire, a personification of evil outside of it. Even Argrath doesn’t engender that much hate – to most Lunars, he is “just” a barbarian rebel and not even the most frightening. But in the Provinces and beyond, Jar-eel is the personification of the Red Goddess and Her Empire.

Her duel with Argrath in 1654 really gets to be an epic Tantric dance of life and destruction and illumination. Our Glorantha Gita. But with giant scarlet bats and dragons.

The currently known list of lovers (as of 1625) includes Beat-Pot, Moirades, at least one Mask (probably two), no doubt a god or three, no doubt satraps, yoga instructors, and many others. Moirades died at his moment of enlightenment, and no doubt there are tantric depictions of Jar-eel standing atop a prone but blissful Moirades, like Kali atop Shiva.

Moirades dies. Beat-Pot dies. Not sure about her yoga instructors. But clearly all of her lovers are transformed by Life and Death through her.