Sunday, 8 February 2015

Maran, the Shaker Goddess

Mythos and History
Maran was born in the green age, along with her sisters, and was given rulership over the greatest powers of Earth. She took many lovers, and produced many children, these being the mighty quakebeasts of legend, which shook the earth as they walked. Maran loved her children, whose thundering movement brought joy to her heart, no matter the destruction they caused.
In the Stagnant Age, the Evil Emperor came to power. He saw the quakebeasts as pests, and commanded his warriors to destroy them. Jagrekriand and Vestkarthan destroyed many of them, including the new warlike quakebeasts Maran shaped to defend the others from the Fire Tribe. Seeing so many of her children slain, Maran took up her mace, and marched to destroy the fire tribe. From then on, the goddess knew no joy.
The remaining quakebeasts were no longer as many, nor as great, but Maran loved them all the same. Then the Elves came, claiming that the beasts destroyed their forests and destroyed all they found. Maran shaped some of them into enormous shapes, who fed on trees as a cow feeds on hay. The elves sold themselves to the godless sorcerer Seravus for aid, who provided an army of men-who-were-animals to fight the giant quakebeasts. Maran avenged her children with the aid of Finovan the raider, and slew the sorcerer's son with a single mighty blow of her club.
When the great darkness came, the remaining quakebeasts were no match for the armies of ice and troll, who froze and devoured the last quakebeasts. Maran wept tears of blood, before coating herself in black blood and taking up her great axe and marching on the ice demons and the trolls. She slew countless monsters, men and gods, until the trolls relented, and promised her worship in exchange for letting them survive. Maran relented, but from then on, the goddess knew no love.
When Nontraya came for Ernalda, Maran saw she could not protect her sister from his ways, and slew Ernalda to save her from being dishonoured. In the end Maran slew all the world to protect it from the ravages of Chaos, until there was no one left to protect her from Tekakos the stillness. When he confronted her, she did not resist, and went to the Underworld to meet her kin.
When she met her sisters, they once again vowed their bonds of sisterhood, granting Maran the strength to provide life to her sisters, who used this power to return life to the entire world.

Nature of the Cult
Maran is the violent and rumbling earth, whose angry movements destroy the enemies of the Earth Tribe. All Orlanthi know that when the ground shakes, Maran is angry, and will immediately make propitiatory sacrifices to please her.
Maran is commonly worshipped as a subcult of Ernalda. However, Maran is also worshipped as an independent cult. This is more common in places such as Esrolia and Tarsh, and many traditional Orlanthi regard this form of worship as dangerous and unpredictable.

Maran is depicted as a monstrous and fearsome woman, and her terrible face is a favoured carving for clubs and axes. Along with Babeester Gor, Maran is one of the sacred guardians of all Earth Temples, and a statue or carving of her will always be at their entrance.

Rune Affinities
Maran is associated with the Runes of Earth and Disorder.
Earth Rune Affinity
Maran is associated with the Earth Rune in its malign aspect. An incomplete list of the abilities Marani have been known to use the Earth Rune for includes: call earthquakes, command quakebeast, curse crops, have the earth open up and swallow people or things, knock down buildings, summon and command lesser Earth gods, and to draw strength and power from the Earth. Cultists strong in the Earth Rune are patient, callous and relentless.

Disorder Rune Affinity
Maran is a major goddess of the Disorder Rune, although not its source. An incomplete list of the abilities Maran initiates have been used to know their affinity with the Disorder Rune to perform includes: assume a berserker trance, kill men, assume a terrifying appearance, thwart healing, wither plant life. Cultists strong in the Disorder Rune are destructive, reckless and selfish.

Opposed Runes
Maran is in conflict with the runes of Chaos and Harmony.

Particular Likes and Dislikes
Maran loves her sisters Ernalda and Esrola, and has pledged to protect these two pacifists. She is often a rival of male war gods, such as Elmal and Urox, but is friendly with the War Women cults.
All of Chaos is her enemy, as is anything else that seeks to harm the Earth tribe. She also hates the elves and ice giants for the slaying of her children the quakebeasts.

Cult Organization and Holy Places
Maran is not a popular goddess amongst the Heortlings, the few initiates to her in each clan usually being sacred Erantha Gori axe warriors. Most of her worshippers are found in Peace Clans, where they serve on the much smaller fyrd and act as bodyguards to the clans' priestesses.
In Dragon Pass, Maran has two great holy places: the first being the Shaker Temple at the base of Wintertop, this sacred building has survived since the Gods Age, and contains shrines to all the subcults of Maran. It is ruled by the Shaker Priestess, the incarnation of Maran upon Glorantha, who is served by forty seven male and female virgin cannibal initiates of Maran.
The second holy place of Maran is Giniiji, also known as Snake-pipe hollow. This valley and the neighbouring ones were created when Maran crushed a waiting army of Chaos. The remains of this army reformed from the bloody mess left after the valley was made, and holy warriors of Maran are often found waging holy wars against the Chaotic monsters found there.

Maran has relatively few full time priestesses maintaining her temples and shrines. They are all celibate, pledging their love to their goddess rather than to any man.

Holy Days and Sacrifices
Each week on clay day, Maran's worshippers perform worship ceremonies, and she is worshipped by all Orlanthi on Shutting the Door Day, which takes place on Wild Day of Fertility Week in the Earth Season. Here everyone feels the gate of the underworld close with a rumble, as the dead are separated from the living.
Maran is often given only propitiatory worship by the Heortlings, for they fear her as much as they love her sisters. They will often give offerings such as ritual knives and bowls to be sacrificed to her, but all know that Maran craves blood as a sacrifice most of all.

  • All initiates of Maran must possess an affinity with the Earth Rune; however they may initiate with either an Earth Rune, or a Disorder Rune affinity of 1W or higher. 
  • Few men join the cult, for those who do must sacrifice their masculine nature to the goddess, becoming eunuchs.
Maran has taken many names, many faces over her existence, and many of these are remembered as subcults of the goddess.
Dargeth Kor
When Ernalda slept, and Orlanth had gone, the people of the Storm and Earth Tribes went hungry. Their fields were barren, their granaries empty, and the forests held no game. When the Fire Tribe came to confront the two peoples, to take the women as thralls, and to slay the men, all fought until the ground was soaked with blood. Maran emerged as Dargeth Kor, fed and joyful at the blood, and shared her bounty with the survivors, as the empty earth brought forth food for the hungry. This subcult provides the Bloody Earth Feat.

Erantha Gor
Erantha Gor was the name Maran took the second time she went to war, after the last of her children were taken from her by ice and troll. She clad herself in the black blood of her foes took up her axe, and swore to never love again. No man may ever belong to Erantha Gor, and no member of this subcult may ever marry. Worshippers of Erantha Gor can use their Disorder Rune affinity to aid them in axe combat.

Gatara Tor
Before she was infertile, Maran was once Gatara Tor, the Mother of Quakebeasts. These creatures are mostly dead, but their spirits remain beneath the earth, in mountains and hills, and within the souls of her intitiates. Worshippers of Gatara Tor may use their Earth Rune affinity to take the form of a Quakebeast.

Maran Devor
Maran Devor was the name Maran took the first time she went to war, when many earthshakers were slain by elf and sorcery. With her mace she shattered forests, and broke the backs of giants, and finally avenged her children upon the sorcerers. This subcult is the least restrictive, and even some men join in the worship of the Mace Goddess. Worshippers of Maran Devor can use their Disorder Rune affinity to aid them in mace combat, and to Slay Elves.

Maran Gor
After all of her children were taken from her, Maran became Maran Gor, barren and loveless. Still she remembered her kin and aided her sisters when they could not protect themselves, by using her sorrow to shake the very earth itself. This subcult provides the Earth Shaker Feat.

Sorgoth Kor
When the Fire Tribe came to seize the goddesses of the Earth Tribe, Sorgoth Kor was there to meet them. This was Maran as the barren earth, the taker of her sister's bounty, and the destroyer of fertility. Every man she struck became impotent, and where she stood nothing would grow. This subcult provides the Blast Earth Feat.

  • A Maran initiate with a rating of 11W in either the Earth Rune or the Disorder Rune may dedicate themselves completely to Maran and become a devotee of their goddess. 
  • As well as the usual restrictions, Maran's devotees must vow never to marry or know the love and kindness of another's bed.

Devotees of Maran may perform magic feats; powerful repetitions of her mythic deeds. Some feats are universal to the cult, others are associated with specific subcults. Here are some examples of Maran's feats, although more exist:
Blast Earth
When Maran was sorely offended, when nothing another god did could please her, Maran would unleash the power of Ana Gor, the goddess of human sacrifice. By slaying another, whether friend, enemy or innocent, she could destroy her enemies crops, crack and blight their fields, and render them dead and empty for years.

Earth Shaker
Maran and her children carried all the weight of the world upon them, and when they walked their feet shook the earth. Together, by performing a rhythmic and thumping dance in a wide circle, they could shake the ground for miles around sending steads crashing down and leaving all around unable to stand.

Earth Blood
When the people are starving, when they have no food and their fields are bare, they will beg Maran for succor. In turn she releases Ana Gor, who is fed on human sacrifice. Through Ana Gor's power, Maran makes the fields fertile, and the crops plentiful.

Tame Fire
Once Vestkarthan attempted to claim Esrola as his bride. Maran was there, guarding her sister, and confronted the volcano god. Vestkarthan attempted to burn Maran, who was blackened but survived. Then Maran took Veskarthan's burning spear and broke it in two, and smothered his fire with her breath. From then on, Vestkarthan became Maran's thrall.

Divine Retribution
Maran shares the Driman agents of reprisal with her sister Ernalda, but she also curses those who fail in their vows. Against her worshippers who ignore her holy days, Maran sends the Wounding curse, which blocks any attempt to heal the worshipper. Against her devotees who break the goddess' vow of celibacy, Maran unleashes the Blood Debt, which turns the very earth against the worshipper, drinking in their magic until the worshipper has nothing left. The only way to end this curse is to sacrifice their lover in the bloody rites of Ana Gor.

Lesser Gods of Malign Earth
Maran is the source of Ernalda's Gornans, who lends her the Talosi serpents in turn. The description of these lesser earth gods can be found in Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes, page 144.

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