Flaming Ring of Kings

I am slightly obsessed with anthropology and comparative mythology. Naturally, classic fantasy and S&S are a gold mine for this sort of stuff; they consist in large measure of pseudo-anthropology and invented mythologies (someone once said that Lovecraft was far richer than anything Crowley ever came up with).

Anyway, I have developed some specific takes on religion and elves I’d like to get into. The basis is the Silmarillion/LotR and MERP books. I will be taking focus from the western regions and to the East. There is very little ‘canon’ material regarding the lands beyond the Sea of Rhun and Utter Harad, so I’ll be relying on a couple of MERP books on Harad and the Sea of Rhu. To supplement this I’ll be using the Stormbringer 5e book The Unknown East.

In the MERP books the steppe culture around Rhun are essentially proto-indo-European; nomadic, pastoral, horsemen. Their language is close to PIE, which works very well for my elves of the region, as I’ve decided the ‘Dark Elves’ are sort of Vedic Hindus.

The biggest thing I don’t understand yet is tweaking the magic system; I think Faith and Elven magic are fine as is, but I’d like to slant human sorcery in a Buddhist and Daoist direction. I have books on Buddhist and Daoist magic, I just haven’t gotten into Magic Burner or even the Rim of the Wheel.

The main idea is to deconstruct the cosmology and ethical assumptions while retaining much of the symbol cues and history. Similar in concept to what Elric was, but less Westernized Orientalism. A lot of ‘eastern mysticism’ is European IRL; I think Dumezeil is closer than Campbell - mythology is ideological, literal and normatively specific; the whole hero thing is a common enough theme but the fact that ancients did not generally espouse an existentialist, subjectivist, Universalist culture (Maya means ‘play’ more than ‘illusion’) takes away from the raw paganism and the concept of heroic virtue that is legitimately present. Campbell seems to want to deemphasize it, but the f ancients really did mean killing your enemies as well as overcoming obstacles can not be dismissed because it doesn’t fit le slave morality.

Accordingly, I’m giving out Arta based on certain assumptions. Instead of praising a martyr you praise the guy who took some enemies down with him trying to succeed against superior forces. Simply failing or complicating your life is a sign of ineptness and irrelevance; it’s really when you prove you can impose yourself despite going through fire and stone to do it. Deeds Arta, especially, is more about being the God of with the Hammer than the one getting nailed up. In other words, Deeds Arta depends on accomplishing your values despite stern opposition from natural and human agencies. If such agencies have some power over you, or are widespread (popular) you probably deserve it all the more! After all, something most people loathe can’t be all bad; if you start from the premise that people are usually wrong when it counts and those that aren’t have primarily an imperative to act according to their judgment, not to share it with blockheads and ideological recalcitrants.

Example Stuff:
[li]Kala [Morgoth], who represents the all-consuming destruction that razes the old world. During his return from outer darkness and rampage across creation (Dagor Dagorath), Kala will face an incarnated Siva who, wielding the blade Aster, will destroy all creatures of shadow in a titanic battle.
[/li][li]Suryanar - The Avatara of the Sun, brother to Yama.
[/li][li]Tvastar [Aule] - Known as Aule in the West, Tvastar is the smith of the Devalar.
[/li][li]Rbhu [Sauron] - Sauron the “Admirable Smith,” or ‘Admirably Cunning’ - an apprentice of Aule (Tvastar) and who forges weapons and plans to bring about the triumph of Kala, whence the Universe may be reborn and his Master Kala returned to his rightful reign of Middle Earth. Rbhu’s deceptions are not unknown in Rhun, but are seen as clever and retributive rather than aggressive and treacherous.
[/li][li]Utthatr Zakti [Melkor] - The creative and energizing aspect of Kala-Morgoth. In the Satya Yuga it is Utthatr Zakti is associated with restoring a perfected Arda after Siva’s War, by reciting the mantra of creation with Visvakarman.
[/li][li]Visvakarman - Iluvatar, Eru
[/li][li]Yama [Mandos], Visvakarman’s daughter Usha and the Tvastar the smith had two children; the Burning Wheel of Suryanar and the master of Death, Yama. Yama was given tto govern over the reincarnation of Elves, and the rewarding or punishing of dead Men.

The Elves who went westward were actually harried around the Rhune sea by the ‘dark elves’, who were unsympathetic to their religious dualism. The Elves of the East had always worshiped the Devalar, and it is likely that the split with the Vanarya was likewise over the increasingly intolerant cult of Manwe and Iluvatar. Though virtually every deity revered by the kin-slayers is also revered by the old religion of Elves the Elves of the West hold themselves ineffably superior due to their personal catechism under the domineering eyrie of Manwe.

Note here that the point wouldn’t be that Manwe is a ‘bad guy’, Manwe has a prerogative as the king to impose his authority and to move people around like sacks of sand. This wouldn’t be an embarrassing or sticking point for ancient societies, who accepted this view of (hereditary/martial) caste amongst and between heaven and earth. The Dark Elves nonetheless don’t buy as much of his propaganda/influence, even though they generally acknowledge him as the King of the Cosmos.