What form do marriage ceremonies take in Glorantha? This depends on the cultures involved, but often they are an abstracted version of the marriage of the local Culture Hero or Deity, so in Orlanthi Lands the marriage ceremony reflects that of Orlanth and Ernalda, in Dara Happa that of Yelm and Dendara, amongst Yelmalians - Yelmalio and Ernalda, in Prax Storm Bull and Eiritha, in Esrolia Ernalda and one of her husbands. Many cults have a ritual Spirit magic Ceremony Spell which enables people to be married. However, many people prefer to enact the actual marriage ceremony in a HeroQuest Rite. This has the benefit of being very binding magically and also of being recognised by all concerned, where a normal marriage ceremony may not. This is often used to cement a marriage so that it is very difficult to break and also to ritually marry, something which is often important to Priests, Lords, Kings and Heroes.
Where a HeroQuest is used to marry, each of the participants must perform certain tasks, these normally take the form of Introduction, Wooing, Courtship, Exchange of Gifts, Marriage and Consummation.
I will give some examples of Marriage Quests of various types from different traditions to illustrate the stages of the Marriage Quests. These Quests are Orlanth-Ernalda, Yelm-Dendara, Tada - Beautiful Woman and Gargarth - Earth Nymph.
For instance, Orlanth sees Ernalda at Yelm's Court and is rebuffed by her aloofness as Yelm's Wife.
Dendara sees Yelm in his Majesty and is ignored by the Emperor.
Gargarth sees an Earth Nymph laying on the ground and leaps to her, startling her and making her run away.
Tada spots a beautiful woman when visiting a friendly camp, he speaks to her but her family hide her away in a tent.
Orlanth engages Yelm in a series of contests designed to prove he is worthy. Eventually, he kills Yelm, but few Orlanthi need to go this far.
Dendara sings for Yelm ,dances for him and shows what a Good Wife she would be.
Gargarth crackles and rages, chasing the Nymph, spinning around and running through the Air.
Tada tells how great he is, tells of the Chaos he has killed, shows what a good rider, hunter, fighter, singer and dancer he is.
Orlanth shows Ernalda that he can protect her as well as Yelm could. Ernalda shows him the bounty the Earth can provide.
Yelm shows Dendara how his Splendour can enhance her beauty and position. Dendara shows him how a Good Wife can support and assist him, magnifying his position.
Gargarth shows the Earth Nymph how strong he is and what could happen to her if she denied him the Earth. The Nymph shows Gargarth her beauty and fertility.
Tada shows the Woman how he can protect her and be a good husband and provider. She shows him how she can care for the herds and do woman's work.
Ernalda gave Orlanth the Fertile Earth. Orlanth gave Ernalda his Cloak of Protection.
Yelm gave Dendara his Clear Sky. Dendara gave Yelm her obedience and that of her children.
Gargarth gives the Earth Nymph a thrashing. She gives him her tears.
Tada gives the Woman a place on his saddle. She gives him knowledge of where she will be.
Orlanth and Ernalda agree to support each other. Orlanth agrees to protect Ernalda and she agrees to be his Fertile Earth. The two bind their hands together with a rope.
Yelm and Dendara agree that Dendara will serve Yelm and be his Good Wife and Yelm agrees to be her Emperor. They are bound together with a Golden Chain.
Gargarth catches the Earth Nymph and forces her to the ground, tying her with a Slave's Knot.
Tada rides to the woman's camp and pulls her onto his saddle, beating off her relatives. He ties her to his saddle and to his hands.
Orlanth and Ernalda celebrate in the Lovers' Hut which is kept for that occasion. Sometimes it is specially built for the particular marriage, but more often it forms part of the Ernalda Shrine of the Clan involved.
Yelm and Dendara retire to their Palace and are secluded away for the night.
Gargarth rapes the Earth Nymph.
Tada and his Woman ride to his camp, or simply set up camp on the Plains, and enter into union. Sometimes they simply consummate on the saddle in nomadic style.
There are many more of these Quests as each culture or area has a number of marriage quests which can be performed. For instance, a Praxian Nomad may want to use Storm Bull-Eiritha to marry a woman whose family approves of the marriage, Tada-Woman to marry a woman who is willing but whose family opposes the marriage and Gargarth - Earth Nymph to abduct and rape a woman who is not willing.
In all cases, marriage by HeroQuest is binding and legal although it can be opposed and challenged by the relatives, friends or enemies of the participants. This is the difficulty when using HeroQuest rituals.
The Orlanthi have a number of abduction Quests - Orlanth - Huraya, Vadrus - Blue Woman and Ragnaglar-Thed to name but three. Praxians have two major abduction Quests, those of Tada and his Beautiful Woman and Gargarth and the Earth Nymph. There are many myths where a Hero gains a Nymph, sometimes from the forests, sometimes from the waters, sometimes from the earth, but usually the Nymph is given as a prize or taken as a trophy. Those who follow such Quests can gain a new bride without much of the effort that normally comes before a wedding. Often, the marriage that results is successful, or at least as successful as those marriages made for the wrong reasons.
As a matter of interest, in the real world marriage by abduction was common in many areas. Even today, marriage by abduction is common in Kenya where teenage girls are abducted by the family of a man who rapes her continually until she becomes pregnant and is shamed into marrying him; in Tadjikstan where a woman may be invited to a party and have a head-dress placed on her head by the man's mother, so everyone there knows that she has been claimed - this is clearly a variation of putting a sack over the woman prior to abduction.
Orlanth sees Ernalda at Yelm's Court and is rebuffed by her aloofness as Yelm's Wife. Orlanth engages Yelm in a series of contests designed to prove he is worthy. Eventually, he kills Yelm, but few Orlanthi need to go this far. Orlanth shows Ernalda that he can protect her as well as Yelm could. Ernalda shows him the bounty the Earth can provide. Ernalda gives Orlanth the Fertile Earth. Orlanth gives Ernalda his Cloak of Protection. Orlanth and Ernalda agree to support each other. Orlanth agrees to protect Ernalda and she agrees to be his Fertile Earth. The two bind their hands together with a rope and celebrate in the Lovers' Hut which is kept for that occasion. Sometimes it is specially built for the particular marriage, but more often it forms part of the Ernalda Shrine of the Clan involved.
This Quest can be used to take a woman away from her current husband or lover, but normally is used as a normal courtship and marriage. Not all Orlanthi perform a HeroQuest in order to get married, but some will do so in order to make the marriage stronger, more magical or to bind two clans together via a ritual marriage.
The HeroQuestor travels to the woman's home, where he sees her and falls for her. The woman initially is aloof but warms to him, eventually, encouraging him and egging him on to further the Quest.
This Station may be used elsewhere to force a meeting with a woman and to help her to be friendly.
The HeroQuestor engages in a series of contests in order to show how good he is. These were the contests between Orlanth and Yelm, but could be any series of contests. If the HeroQuestor is defeated at every turn then the Quest is over. However, Orlanth was often defeated and still won Ernalda's heart, so determination and refusal to give up may be a better way of determining success. Sometimes, there will be combat between the HeroQuestor and the guardian, lover or husband of the woman, if this is the case then the HeroQuestor must be victorious in order to continue with the Quest.
This Station is often used to initiate one of the contest between Yelm and Orlanth.
The HeroQuestor and the woman show what they are made of. The HeroQuestor shows how good a warrior he is and how good a husband he will make. The woman shows what delights he will receive when married, maybe she dances, maybe she cooks a meal or sings to him. In any case, the GM must decide whether the courtship is acceptable. If not, the Quest is over.
This Station is used to keep the interest of a partner.
The HeroQuestor and the woman exchange gifts. Her gift is fertility based and his is normally protection. The original gift was the earth, but Orlanth returned it as he had blasted it with his winds, then he saw it more fertile than before, the result of his fertile rains and they shared the gift.
If the gifts are not deemed suitable, the Quest will end.
This Station can be used to force gift-giving and can be used to gain fertility magic or powers from the earth and to gain protection from Orlanthi.
The HeroQuestor must agree to accept the Fertile Earth and protect the woman. They exchange their vows and their hands are tied together and a rope is placed around their waists, tying them together. The HeroQuestor must bind himself to the woman so that they cannot be torn apart.
This Station is generally used to cement a marriage between two people.
The HeroQuestor and his wife retire to the Lovers' Hut or a carefully prepared house or area where they can consummate their marriage. This normally involves the physical act and a period of honeymooning where they confirm their place with each other.
This Station can be used to make a relationship stringer and more fulfilling.
This HeroQuest is a method of gaining a marriage where, perhaps, the marriage would not normally take place. It is relatively common amongst Orlanthi and is well known. It can also be used to gain magical gifts from the earth and sometimes is used when a Wind Lord wishes to marry an Ernalda Priestess.
Dendara sees Yelm in his Majesty and is ignored by the Emperor. She sings for Yelm ,dances for him and shows what a Good Wife she would be to attract his attention. Yelm shows Dendara how his Splendour can enhance her beauty and position. Dendara shows him how a Good Wife can support and assist him, magnifying his position. Yelm gives Dendara his Clear Sky. Dendara gives Yelm her obedience and that of her children. Yelm and Dendara agree that Dendara will serve Yelm and be his Good Wife and Yelm agrees to be her Emperor. They are bound together with a Golden Chain. Yelm and Dendara retire to their Palace and are secluded away for the night.
The HeroQuestor meets the man she wants to marry and is ignored by him. She must walk the tightrope of being noticed by him but not being acknowledged. If he does not notice her or if he acknowledges her then the Quest is over.
The HeroQuestor tries to attract the man's attention, normally by singing, dancing and showing that she has mastered the noble woman's arts. If she does not attract his attention, the Quest is over.
This Station is also used to attract the attention of one in a position of authority. Often it is used to advance one's career.
The HeroQuestor must act as a mirror, reflecting the glory of the noble and showing that she can be a Good Wife and that she can care for him and do the things that are required in high society. The nobleman must show how glorious he is and must impress the HeroQuestor with his majesty.
This Station can be used to show how suitable a person is for certain positions in society.
The HeroQuestor must give the gift of service. This normally means swearing homage and service, often for herself and for her family or future children, almost becoming the slave of the husband-to-be. The nobleman often gives some kind of magical gift, often a Clear Skies spell or something similar.
The HeroQuestor agrees to serve her master and they are tied with a golden chain, swearing that nothing will break the chain that binds them. Thus, divorce is virtually unknown in such marriages.
This is a very private affair and the physical act is often not performed for many days. The couple do cement their relationship and perform various rituals that ensure they will remain together.
This Quest is not the Quest to perform if you are in love with the person you want to marry. It is a Quest that promotes arranged marriages, or marriages of convenience or of duty. Romance is not a common theme in Yelmic marriages.
Tada spots a beautiful woman when visiting a friendly camp, he speaks to her but her family hide her away in a tent. Since Tada remains in camp for a while, the woman's family cannot keep her hidden and so they meet again. As they speak, Tada tells how great he is, tells of the Chaos he has killed, shows what a good rider, hunter, fighter, singer and dancer he is. As they walk through the camp, Tada shows the Woman how he can protect her and be a good husband and provider and she shows him how she can care for the herds and do woman's work. They know that the Woman's clan will not agree to any relationship between her and Tada for he is a foreigner, even though they were both from Prax, so they tried to find another way. Tada gives the Woman a place on his saddle and she tells him where she will be. Tada rides to the woman's camp and pulls her onto his saddle, beating off her relatives. He ties her to his saddle and to his hands. Tada and his Woman ride to his camp, or simply set up camp on the Plains, and enter into union. Sometimes they simply consummate on the saddle in nomadic style. Afterwards, the Woman's family come to Tada in force and demand her return, but he rides off. There is a long chase where Tada visits each of the Holy Sites of Prax with the Beautiful Woman and they speak to all they find. Eventually, the Beautiful Woman's family catch up with them and challenge them under the Law, but each of the Judges find for Tada and the Beautiful Woman.
This Quest is normally used as a Practice Run Quest by young braves who want to marry a woman whose family disapproves of them. However, it can be used as an Otherworld Quest to gain a magical wife, or even as a God Time Quest to force a mythic marriage between two spirits, heroes or deities. Here, I will only outline the Practice Run version, as the others will follow from this.
Once this Quest is set in motion, the salient points of the Quest will begin to occur. The Questor will meet a woman, usually the woman he desires, sometimes a new woman; they will engage in wooing and maybe courtship; if this goes well, they may exchange gifts and marry. At each stage, the Quest can only continue if the participants agree at each stage, so this Quest is dependant on the actions of all participants.
Normally, men who take part in this Quest already know the woman they wish to marry, so this Quest will engineer a meeting. In the event that the man is looking for a new wife then the Quest will cause a meeting to happen.
The HeroQuestor will come to a strange place, maybe a camp maybe an oasis, village or town. When he wanders through the place, he will bump into the Beautiful Woman. He must perform some deed to make himself stand out so that she notices him. She must also perform a deed to ensure that he notices her.
If neither of these is performed, the Quest can go no further and will end.
This Station can be used elsewhere to cause the HeroQuestor to meet a Beautiful Woman.
The HeroQuestor, having performed a deed to be noticed, must now show why he is a good mate and to attract the Woman. Normally, in Nomad style, he will boast of his past deeds, show off his riding skills, his fighting skills, his singing and dancing skills. The GM must judge as to how impressive these deeds are and how the Woman will be influenced.
If the HeroQuestor does not impress the Woman, the Quest can go no further and will end.
This Station can be used elsewhere to make someone notice the HeroQuestor and to make them be impressed.
The HeroQuestor and the Woman must now show what they can offer each other. Normally, the HeroQuestor shows what a good hunter and warrior he is and how well he can guard the Woman. In return, the Woman tries to convince the Questor that she will make a good wife, how well she can cook, what a good herdswoman she is and how good she is at dancing. As before, the GM should determine how well the participants interact.
If the HeroQuestor and the Woman do not convince each other of their worth, the Quest can go no further and will end.
This Station can be used elsewhere to show the worth of the Questor.
Quite often, the Questor performs this Quest because he is not wealthy and has no power, so he has little to give as a wedding gift. Normally, he offers what he has - a place with him, in his heart and on his saddle, to remain with the Woman and share his life with her. She normally gives the promise of being there for him, of sharing his life and allowing him to take her away. Of course, the participants may well also exchange tokens, magical gifts or whatever as extra gifts. The GM should determine whether the gifts are successful, but this stage is almost always successful.
This Station can be used elsewhere to force the exchange of gifts and promises and all that entails. It is sometimes used to defuse a difficult situation by forcing a gift exchange and the consequent obligations.
The HeroQuestor must ride into the place and sweep the Woman off her feet, taking her on his saddle and riding away. He must tie her to his saddle and to himself so that she cannot be snatched away by her family. These deeds require a good deal of nomad skill, from the riding, the capture, tying the Woman and the escape. Quite often, this involves some combat as he sometimes has to fight his way into the camp and fight his way out of the camp. Once he has escaped, he must use his skills to evade capture and to move far enough away that the Woman's family cannot catch him.
If the Woman is snatched back or the Questor is captured then the Quest cannot continue and is over. The consequences of capture may be death, enslavement or mutilation. If the Woman is snatched back but the Questor escapes, then he merely loses face.
This Station may be used to capture or abduct a person from captivity or from their clan or family. It generally attracts some opposition, but is more often than not successful.
Once the Questor and the Woman have moved far enough from the Woman's home, they can consummate the marriage. This is not merely the physical act of consummation, which is normally performed either on the move, for instance if the Questor rides a large animal such as a bison, high llama or rhino, or at the Questor's camp, but also includes the cementing of the marriage. Normally, the Questor and the Woman spend time together avoiding her relatives and travelling to various places as they grow closer to each other and get to know each other, showing others that they belong together.
At some stage, they will be caught by the Woman's family and have to prove their love for each other. If they are not in love, the marriage will fail as the Woman will return to her family. However, this rarely happens as the Quest in itself causes the Woman to be inclined to remain with the Questor.
This Station may be used to seal a relationship, to make it difficult to break and to be robust.
This HeroQuest does not have Stations that are combat oriented, it does not give special abilities or provide cult advancement. However, it does enable a relationship to grow and to be sealed. The Stations on this Quest can be used elsewhere, with a little imagination, and many Praxians know this Quest and use portions of it elsewhere.
Fairly often, the Beautiful Woman also invokes a HeroQuest to attract a Strong Warrior to take her away with him and make her his wife. When this happens, the male is brought involuntarily into the HeroQuest and performs all the stations without realising what is happening. When this happens, the marriage is often more successful than when the male initiates the Quest.
Once, when the earth was green and not bare, a mighty god named Gargarth came to the land. He walked through the air and did not deign to touch the earth until he saw an Earth Nymph laying on the ground. Gargarth's blood began to boil and he leapt to her, startling her and making her run away. Enraged and full of lust, Gargarth crackled and raged, so he chased the Nymph, spinning around and running through the Air.
Gargarth showed the Earth Nymph how strong he is and what could happen to her if she denied him the Earth. The Nymph showed Gargarth her beauty and fertility. When he caught her, Gargarth gave the Earth Nymph a thrashing and she gave him her tears. Gargarth forced the Earth Nymph to the ground, tied her with a Slave's Knot and raped and despoiled her, taking what he wanted and what he thought was his by right of conquest and by right of mastery.
Afterwards, he took the Earth Nymph with him, tied to his belt. Whenever they stopped, he would take her with violence and hatred while she wept and cried out. Eventually, Gargarth tired of his new toy and left her weeping on the barren earth. Beaten and broken, the Earth Nymph tried to crawl back to her meadow, but had no life left, so she fell, a victim of the Destructive Storm. As she bled into the earth, she gave all her energy to the blasted land and gave a small piece of earth life as hers drained away. Few people know where this secret spot is, but occasionally nomads who are lost in the Wastes will find the area of green and will remember the fallen Earth Nymph.
This HeroQuest is almost never entered into willingly by the female, unlike the Tada Quest. The HeroQuestor is the aggressor and the instigator of the HeroQuest. This Quest is usually used to make a rape acceptable under Praxian law and custom, but is sometimes used to punish a clan by abducting and despoiling a woman from the clan. When the Quest has been completed, the HeroQuestor has become a Despoiler of the Earth and becomes open to the retribution that such a deed attracts, so the HeroQuestor may become the target of Babeester Gor HeroQuests or other Avenger Quests, so the Quest is rarely entered into lightly.
Once the HeroQuest is invoked, the Stations fall together naturally, so the Questor will meet a woman alone in the countryside, will chase her and probably catch her, will beat her, tie her and abduct and rape her. Normally, the Questor will release the woman far away in the wilderness where she would be expected to die.
The HeroQuestor will meet a woman alone and without guards. She is normally an earth cultist, but in Prax most women are initiates of Eiritha so this is common. The HeroQuestor will ride to where she is and show himself. He will try to find her if she hides, using his wilderness skills of Track and Search.
If the Woman successfully hides or runs away then the Quest is over.
This Station can be used to cause a random meeting with a woman in the plains.
The HeroQuestor shows how powerful he is by riding around, shouting and bellowing, chopping things up and smashing things. It is a series of destructive acts to make the Woman frightened and intimidated.
If the Questor is not sufficiently frightening, he will lose interest or the woman will face up to him and defeat him and the Quest will end.
This Station can be used elsewhere to frighten and intimidate a woman.
The HeroQuestor, having frightened the woman, now shows her what will happen if she refuses his advances. He makes more shows of threat and violence and will physically chase her. The woman need do nothing, for her presence, beauty and fertility is enough to enflame the desires of the HeroQuestor.
If the woman escapes then the Quest will end.
This Station can be used to bend another to the HeroQuestor's will by using enough force to intimidate the other person.
Here, the HeroQuestor catches the woman and beats her, giving her pain and receiving her cries and tears in return. If he does not catch her or cannot beat her then the Quest will end.
This Station can be used to physically punish or chastise another person. It is used when the other person has done nothing wrong.
The HeroQuestor must force the woman to the ground, in contact with the earth, and tie her in a Slave's Knot. If the HeroQuestor fails to force her down or does not tie her then the Quest will end.
This Station can be used to capture and bind a captive. When performed properly, the captive will be unable to resist and to escape.
The HeroQuestor will rape the woman and take her away, often repeatedly raping her over a period of time. He may keep her with him, but normally tires of her and abandons her in the wilderness.
If the woman escapes and returns to her family or friends then the Quest is over.
This Station can only be used to force sex with another person.
This HeroQuest is a violent one and one that will almost certainly be frowned upon by many people. It is, however, one that is performed. Whilst I cannot condone the actions described, such deeds have been performed since the dawn of time and deserve a place in the mythical and fantasy world of Glorantha. This Quest belongs to a whole series of Quests that are violent and outside the norms of society.