Mythology: Paths to Divinity

Section 1: Gods and Goddesses

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Mythology

Table of Contents

Preface

Section I: Gods and Goddesses

Section III: Myths and Religions of other Peoples

 

Grenage, Goddess of Beauty and Joy Page 2

Legends

Of Beauty and Joy
Divine Visitors

The Priesthood

Stagecraft Clerics
Beautician Clerics 
Bardic Clerics 
Clothing 

The Temples 

Blessings and Curses 


Clothing

“As a rule, it is pretty difficult to recognize a Grenage cleric. That isn’t exactly newsworthy, I know, but it’s something that’s been nagging at me throughout my career. You see, I have spent twenty-five years running a good theater troupe – one of the best, if you don’t mind me saying so. I’ve never been to a Grenage temple, and I don’t… Well, that is, I haven’t been there as an acolyte, or anything of the sort. Of course I worship the Radiant Light; it would be pretty stupid not doing so.

“But I don’t hold much with any fixed hierarchy, being told where you can go, and so on, and so forth. The Grenage clergy is as stuffy and fixed as all the others. Jump out of line, and you’ll be snapped back so hard you’re liable to forget whether you’re a priest or a priestess.

“Anyway, that’s what I do. I’ve got a nose for good plays, and even better, for good actors. (Don’t listen to the rumors that it’s actresses I’m most interested in. That’s a load of cattle dung. When it’s about putting on a stageplay, the actors are as bloody important as the ladies. Afterwards, well… Nonetheless, I’ve got to know when an actor’s good – or when he’s the kind of man that half the women in the audience want to take home for themselves, and the other half wants their daughters to have – leastways so they can look at him often enough. There’s money in that!)

“And still I’m plagued by the Grenage clergy. Some places, the theater owners won’t allow a non-Grenage company to stage a play – as if you needed the badge to get the proper instinct. Load of cattle dung! All right, that’s not true everywhere. Go out into the rural areas, and the peasants will be happy to see any show. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a cleric’s show, or an ordinary man’s show.

“The trouble is, the same folks who couldn’t care less, they usually can’t tell between a good and a bad show, either. What good is there in having a great troupe when your audience doesn’t know? I could take a random selection from that selfsame audience, put them in costume, have them recite their lines – intonation or none -, and they’d get the same kind of applause.

“So I’m very interested in playing the cities. But there, you have critics, most of whom happen to be clerics. Now, honestly, I can understand that they prefer their own kind. It’s silly, and a good critic shouldn’t be influenced by what goes on outside of the stage – but it’s the kind of thing that happens whenever people rather than gods are involved. (Unless you count the gods in some of the plays we put on, that is.)

“Which also means that a man like me had better talk to these critics at length, to sway them in my direction – which is fairness. I want a fair judgment, no more than that.

“(All right, there’s a school of thought that claims critics are incapable of fairness. I don’t subscribe to that – especially not in a conversation that’s going to be printed and made available in Darawk libraries!)

“Seriously, though, it’s a problem. I have a decent handle on it. With most of the critics you can convince them how serious you are about your work. But – and now this is important and more about the question you asked me – it’s a damn load of dung if you don’t know whether this particular critic is a priest or not. Imagine approaching a non-consecrated fellow with grandiose statements about how beholden you are to Grenage. What’s the most likely response? ‘Why don’t you go join the temple then?’

“That’s not a good idea, obviously. And the reverse is also true. You’ve got to have an idea who you’re talking to.

“Unfortunately, the priests don’t particularly care about making it easy. There are no rules on how they have to clothe themselves – not even whether they have to wear their badge of office. A literal badge, commonly made of silver, showing a stylized face that is laughing on the right, crying on the left side. They all have one; it’s given to them at their consecration ceremony, but some priests stow it in a safe place and forget all about it. Others wear it proudly, and I’m grateful for them. But still with those, if you have a wintery day, they might throw a cloak over it, not bothering to fasten the badge on the outside of the cloak.

“In general, priests dress in bright clothes, fashionably so, by whatever standards applicable at the time and place. (That’s something which’s kept nagging at me, too. In order to have a good idea what is currently fashionable, I have to study that kind of thing. Fortunately my wife is very interested in that, so I do have a lot of help, but still… It’s not my favorite thing to do.) Drab clothes, I understand, are frowned upon by the clergy – except when we’re talking about a teacher at one of their temples. Then, drab clothes are preferred. Have to cut an authoritative figure as a teacher, I suppose.

“It can get even worse, because some people wear badges highly similar to the clerics’ Grenage badges. People who’ve taken the Radiant Light as their patron goddess, and who show their affiliation proudly, without being a priest. Some of those badges are so good, you can easily mistake them for the real thing, if the light’s dim, for example.

“Ah, you see what’s so bothersome? Go by one set of rules, and you’re liable to miss all your guesses on who’s a priest.”

Mailliw Stirs’Ale, Theater manager
(excerpt of a conversation printed in “An Overview of Deshram Province’s Lives and Peoples”,
3162 A.E., Norville, Deshram Province, Topay Coalition)

 

 

Temples

“A Grenage temple is rarely the same as the next. In fact, it is not uncommon to find three or more in the same street – provided the settlement is of decent size -, and not two will look alike. Nor are they likely to serve the same principal purpose.

“It is one of the oddities of the followers of Grenage that they dedicate themselves to such seemingly disparate purposes. Bards have little if anything to do with beauticians, after all, and though one can make a rather easy connection of beauticians to the stage, that connection seldom holds true when you enter a shrine or temple dedicated to beauty.

“Yet if you ask a cleric of the goddess about this, at best you’ll receive a shrug and a smile. At worst, you will be the butt of a lengthy explanation how this is a natural development, and that one should not question the logic of such an arrangement. (It’s difficult at such times to forget that Grenage’s father is Darawk. Much as a mortal child often bears the parents’ sign in her, so does the Radiant Light follow both her divine parents.)

“In general, a Grenage temple is most likely to be devoted to stagecraft. Meaning that it will have a large hall with a stage, lighting equipment, and all the rest – including a small altar before the stage, sometimes raised above an orchestra’s pit. Aside from plays being mounted, that hall may also host a bard’s performance, or it may – and often does – serve for general functions of the city, such as banquets honoring returning heroes, or celebrating the city’s foundation anniversary, or other holidays. It also often happens that a Grenage temple’s hall is selected for assemblies of the populace; such as for important announcements, when the city’s own townhall is expected to be too small.

“A Grenage temple is very much suited to that, especially in smaller cities. The same may hold true for larger towns, and even for such giants of their kind as Cayaboré’s Hallowton – yet there, at least, the local nobility and leadership is quite keen of separating their mortal power from that of the clergy. (Besides, in those cases, the temples are generally set up for specific plays running for weeks or months – sometimes years – at a time, and clearing out the stage from the requisite sets and props would endanger the proper continuation of the performances. Indeed, I would also like to cite the example of Hallowton where you have an entire district composed almost entirely of Grenage temples – with the addition of taverns, of course -, all playing separate plays and vying with each other for their audiences.)

“Take a shrine, though. It is a much smaller affair, and quite rarely devoted to the stage. As we know from our everyday life, there is the term ‘beauty shrine’ – much known and beloved by women everywhere. It doesn’t always refer to an actual shrine of Grenage, of course. False usage is disliked by the clergy, yet our language has grown quite comfortable with using the term in such settings as an apothecary’s wife setting up a few stools where women can buy and use their various powders. In several areas, it is also quite common for a woman to refer to her makeup table at home as her ‘beauty shrine’.

“The actual beauty shrine is consecrated to Grenage and administered by at least one cleric of the goddess, generally a priestess. (Although there are priests who choose this dedication, they are rarely as well received and often the butt of ugly rumors about their reasons.) The shrine has a large foyer, with an altar to Grenage, varying assortments of chairs, a counter over which beauty items as well as beverages are sold. (The beverages are commonly for the enjoyment of the customers, and it depends much upon the priestess’ decision whether to charge for them.) That is the basic arrangement, although there is a multitude of applications one can find here. Commonly a shrine is part of another building which may be a temple to another deity, or a mundane house with shops or apartments. Since it consists of little more, there is no need, and as a result, the priestess must come to terms with the room she has at her disposal.

“Shrines are commonly painted in rose colors, sometimes blue, sometimes other tones of pastel. Soothing tones, always. Aside from what I mentioned above, there is always a variety of decorative items – ranging from paintings over sculptures to flowers or to whatever else suits the cleric’s fancy. The shrines quite rarely tend towards the grandiose and opulents displays of a temple, adapted to a quiet atmosphere where the customer enjoys her time and likes to chat.

“Bardic temples are quite rare. The few that I have seen don’t quite rate to be called a temple, since they – with a single exception – were located in a corner of a tavern, much like the stages one finds often in such establishments. Nor can I claim to have seen much of a difference. A small altar to Grenage was always present, but the same can be said of several taverns I have visited – none of which had been consecrated to the goddess.

“Aside from these temples devoted to the general audience, there are also schooling temples, often called colleges. It is very common to find these as part of a Darawk Academy – occasionally they are separate, and sometimes located in a temple consecrated to Atawn. Much like the Darawkian academies, the Grenage colleges are designed for schooling of an intense variety. There are classrooms, dormitories, eating halls, and practice halls.

“In the colleges, one can find all the kinds of clerics conmingling, separating only for their separate classes – and often enough their courses of lectures will overlap.”

Alevian Hylatov,
Noresh Detla, Kraznyczar

 

“Beauty shrine, hah! We aren’t gonna have ourselves one of those things in my town anytime soon, ya mark my words!

“Not again, that’s th’matter. Darn lady who set herself up last year – wearin’ that silver badge, made all th’womenfolks think she was a proper priestess and all. Trained in th’ways of makin’ a lady look better, no matter whether she’s ugly and bloody unlikely t’find a man willin’ to take her on. Y’know, I gather it’s important fer a woman t’do all that. Abyssal flames, there’s been plenty o’women I met in a tavern, thought she was a nice lookin’ lady an’ all that, an’ what do I find come th’mornin’? Madam Wrinkleface.

“Ya wanna be careful with that, but – well, I gather that th’lady wouldn’t have had any fun at all without those paints on her face. An’ I’m real willin’ t’remember that I was havin’ a bit o’fun as well. All fair and square, when th’light o’the mornin’ comes round t’call.

“But th’lady with her so-called beauty shrine? Yeah, she was real successful with th’womenfolk. All came a-callin’ an’ spendin’ their coins on the paints. An’ they were all real happy with the stuff they layered on their faces. Didn’t go round askin’ the lady where she learned her craft, just chatted up th’afternoon, or the mornin’, or whenever they were there.

“Was kinda funny how the lady kept divin’ outta sight whenever another priest showed up, ‘specially that Darawk teacher we have ourselves. (I kinda understood, seein’ as I’ve never been happier than when I left that bloody school.) None ever remarked on that, though, not that I’ve heard.

“So we were real stunned when the Darawk priest suddenly came in th’shrine an’ started questionin’ th’ladies about all th’particularities of her upbringin’ an’ the like. Went on for a coupla hours, an’ th’women who’d been there were tellin’ everybody else ‘bout it, in th’way that women have. Before th’whole thing was over, half th’town was assembled around th’shrine, listenin’ t’th’shoutin’ goin’ on inside. An’ shout they did. I’d nary’ve thought the old priest were capable o’that – much louder than when he caught me dozin’ off durin’ his lecture. An’ much angrier, too.

“Couldn’t believe it, an’ much less when he came outside to declare that th’lady wasn’t a lady, an’ much less a priestess. She was a witch!

“A witch who’d been makin’ all the paints an’ stuff! A witch! Can ya believe that?

“An’ th’only one t’see through her was stuffy ol’ Bookworm! As if that weren’t show enough, there was the fun we had, watchin’ all th’ladies rush about an’ washin’ an’ scrubbin’ their faces, before headin’ home to burn all the evil paints they’d paid their pretty pennies fer. (Can’t ever know what evil a witch may’ve brought t’yer place.)

“I’ve gotta say th’ladies recovered quickly. (Not a surprise, seein’ as they’re the ladies of my town. My kinda ladies.) They got us menfolk gatherin’ some torches an’ a couple of weapons, an’ then we had ourselves a great deal o’fun payin’ that witch back fer trickin’ us. Damn shame she got away. Could’ve gone on fer another day or so, rather than headin’ back to doin’ real work, y’know?

“But that was it fer beauty shrines around these parts. (Except fer ol’ Bookworm. He got some payback, too, seein’ as our ladies remembered that Grenage’s his lord’s daughter, an’ so Bookworm had to read some books on proper paints an’ th’like. Except that I think Bookworm got t’like it, havin’ all th’ladies around him so much.)”

Damm Cooper,
Brydgeham, Cayaboré (ca. 3144 A.E.)

 

Blessings and Curses

 

The Blessing of Enhanced Speech (Elocution; Loudness)

“It’s a pity that two blessings are usually referred to as one and the same. Really, enhancing the elocution of an actor has nothing whatsoever to do with making voices carry further than a person’s throat can. It is for both that one speaks of Enhanced Speech, unfortunately.

“Their usage may appear similar, yet their application and the inherent magics are quite different. Both, of course, serve the purpose of making a play more understandable to the audience. Say that you have an actor with an unfortunate lisp – what better way to cure him than to enhance his speech?

“Here, though, the blessing is a very personal affair since the cleric has to learn the precise measures of the speech impediment, taking care not to excise a dialect or the like. One should never impair the actor’s ability to converse with his fellows from home, therefore it is important to make a detailed study. Of equal importance it is to take care to confine the effects of the blessing to the duration of the play, should a removal of dialect be necessary (for it is a terrible affair to have a king speak in the manner of peasants). A removal of a lisp, though, may well be beneficial off stage as well. Still it is a matter of utmost precision that the cleric should take great care with.

“On the other hand to cast voices far, not much of personal knowledge nor skill is required. The purpose is not to tamper with the details of a person’s elocution, but to have the person in the theater’s last row understand the words as easily as the one in the first. An easy matter, really, and learned in the first semester at college.

“Were it only that the enhancement of elocution was as easy!”

Reyn Syngyn, priest of Grenage,
Gynkalleigh, Ibrollene (ca. 3106 A.E.)

 

The Blessing of Enhanced Appeal (Beauty)

“Woe on those whose appearance at a gathering will not turn heads in joy but turn them in dismay and disgust. Woe on those who feel secluded from society for the mere reason of their lacking appeal.

“Take mercy on them, and let them partake of a blessing that shall return them to lives worth living.”

Anonymous writing, contained in “Blessed Beauty’s Book”,
A book unauthorized by the clergy of today yet reputed
to have been their main guide in the 25th and 26th century

 

“A blessing of appeal is not a matter for the young. It is not a matter for those unskilled at magic, and much less for those unskilled at society. Much is there to consider before casting this blessing, for its repercussions will range far wider than the immediate enhancement.

“For the physical difficulties, the blessing alters the body of the blessed person. Such alterations go against the natural construction created by the gods, wherefore the mortal may easily upset the entirety of the body. As a nudge of a cheekbone may loosen the jaw and teeth, as a deeper tan may affect the skin to grow wrinkled more rapidly, so the mortal must take great care in what changes he causes. Too easy it is to be confused by the lighthearted joy of giving a person a perfect face – in particular should that person’s disfigurement be caused by an accident -, so that less than perfect care might be employed.

“For the psychological difficulties, consider the effect such a change of appearance has on the person, and for what purpose it may be employed. These are even more infinite to guess – yet as important to estimate – as the bodily effects.

“If the purpose is one of repairing damage and attaining a more or less normal level of appeal, that is usually well received by society. Indeed, it is the single most worthwhile application of the blessing.

“Should said purpose be one of self-aggrandization, then several other factors will come into play, the least of which is how well the individual will cope with his or her new appearance. The priest must investigate how the individual plans on using the enhanced appeal – and furthermore, how the individual is likely to do so, once tempting opportunities appear. It is well known that a person of less than perfect beauty will be more easily seduced. (Please refer to “Shayrazd’s Guide to the Mind’s Developments”, Hallowton, 3114 A.E. for more information on this topic. Alas, this book cannot do more than give a general guideline.)”

Plazt Ikseargery, priest of Grenage,
Dauverre, Cayaboré
“Dauverre Book on Blessings,” 3121 A.E.

 

The Curse of Diminished Appeal

This curse is very similar to the Blessing of Enhanced Appeal, as it uses many of the same aspects – albeit in a negative manner. In some texts I have found, the authors only make a single distinction between blessing and curse – the latter is a blessing gone awry. I cannot quite share this interpretation since I have read of as well as witnessed several cases when the curse has been used quite consciously to damage a person.

From what information I could gather, this curse is not easy to cast and almost impossible for a young priest. It takes experience, growing skill, and a growing amount of magic to effect substantial changes.

An interesting footnote to this curse is that there seems to be an illicit group of priests who call themselves the Detractors. Their purpose is to sell the curse to any who can afford their exorbitant fees – by the nature of the expensive sum, their curses almost always are cast on rich and powerful people. Supposed examples cite the sudden fall of some people into decrepitude, in a matter of days or weeks; unfortunately I have not been able to confirm these examples in the slightest. Some of the persons cited I have known, and I can attest that their decline in liveliness was rapid – yet instead of days, it took generally several months or longer and was accompanied more often than not by illness.

Nonetheless it is noteworthy that there are some instances which point to the actual existence of the Detractors. Since they would be a highly secretive group, it is not surprising that there is no firm evidence. On the other hand I cannot help but wonder how they would be able to acquire customers while staying secret? And how, I also wonder, would they stay in the good stead of their goddess – a fact required for them to cast their curses? I cannot offer a good reply; at best I can make the guess that – provided the Detractors do exist – they do not seek actual payment but pursue another goal which is in some fashion in line with the goals of their goddess.

G.A.Q.

 

The Blessing & Curse of Joy

“How can joy be anything but a blessing? To cast merriment into the people before you, to enhance the effect of a joke, or a song, or a poem?

“Ah, there is naught better, and I thank the wonderful Grenage for her gift to us!”

Elorim Debnar,
Grelmount, Arrufat Peninsula

 

“Anything can be corrupted. Even joy. All you need is someone with a dark enough purpose.

“Imagine if you will, a speaker whose goal is to make his audience riot against a basically benevolent ruler. Ordinarily his rhetoric would fall on deaf ears, since the populace is not troubled overly by the situation. But now think if his words were enhanced by this curse. They take on more meaning than is truly present. They evoke emotions in the listeners that otherwise would stay calm.

“An allusion to a simple scene of peace would become the embodiment of paradise in the listener’s mind – and then the description of reality would appear so shattering that the listener would yearn to follow this speaker who clearly knows the path to the paradise.

“There are speakers in the world who can accomplish such a goal without the crutch of this curse. Yet there are so many more who have too little charisma and too little understanding of the art of rhetoric. These people, though, can achieve the same goals when they lean on this cursed crutch.

“Be wary of that, I task you.”

Kowlan the Elder, wizard,
Dean of Hauberk Wizardly College, Topay Coalition
(excerpted from “Cautions To My Children”, printed as a pamphlete in 3139 A.E.)

 

 

 

Continue reading on Grenage on March 28th 2003!