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Phases of the Red Moon

The Red Moon
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The Red Moon hangs motionless above the centre of the Lunar Empire, and slowly turns through her weekly cycle of phases. One face of the moon is bright red, the other is black. As the cycle progresses the red face wanes, replaced by darkness creeping around it. The darkness grows to cover half the moon, then three quarters, until the last crescent of red moonlight disappears. When the moon is dark (the Dying and Black phases), it can be seen only faintly by observers within the Glowline; it is no longer visible outside. It remains dark for two days, after which the red light creeps in again and waxes to full. An entire lunar cycle takes seven days and nights.

This change of phases is not the same across all Glorantha: the Full Moon phase in Dragon Pass (which begins at sunset on Wildday) coincides with the Black Moon in the north of the Empire.

The names of the Lunar phases are: Black Moon, Crescent Coming, Empty Half, Full Moon, Full Half, Crescent Going and Dying Moon.


Cyclical Magic

The changes in the Red Moon's phases affect the magical power of the Red Goddess upon the world. Spirit magic and sorcery spells are unaffected by the cycle, for their power derives from within men, not from the gods. All Lunar cult magic, Lunar divine magic and Lunar Magic follows this cycle unless specified otherwise.


The Glowline

The Glowline is a magical boundary which surrounds most of the Lunar Empire. It can be perceived by various magical means, and (like all magic) becomes briefly visible at twilight. Within the Glowline, all Lunar cult magic, Lunar divine magic, Lunar sorcery and Lunar Magic is beneficially affected as if the moon were full, although the Red Moon still visibly goes through its phases in the normal manner.


The Chronomancers

The Chronomancers are Lunar Magicians responsible for determining the precise phase of the Moon. Wherever the Red Moon is worshipped, one or more Chronomancers are charged with making ritual observations, after Sunset and before Dawn, and calling out the change in phase. At temples in the Heartlands, this position is a sinecure: the Moon follows her seven phases regularly. Travellers within the Glowline but away from settlements have few problems, as the Sky is usually clear, while the reflected radiance of the Glowline makes it possible to observe in detail even the phases of the Dark Moon.

Beyond the Glowline and away from Lunar temples, mobile forces entrust this task to their attendant Priestesses or to the magicians of the Lunar College. When the sky is overcast and the Red Moon shrouded by clouds, the Chronomancers must resort to water-clocks, scrying-glasses, Cloud Clear rituals and other methods to determine the precise moment of the phases' change.

A Chronomancer's best-known tools are the two threads, one red and one white. When neither can be seen, the Moon is in a Dark phase (Dying or Black); when both appear to be red, the Moon is Full.

Black Moon The phase begins when the Red Crescent is sighted around the right side of the Black Orb. Through both the phases of the Dark Moon, there is insufficient Moonlight for the Chronomancer to distinguish between the Red and White Threads: both appear to be Black. (New Moon)
Crescent Coming The phase begins when the Moonlight is sufficient for the Chronomancer to tell the Red and White Threads apart. Chronomancers call this the Scimitar. (First Quarter)
Empty Half The phase begins when the Red Moon is more than half full, as determined by bisecting the Orb with the Threads. (Waxing Gibbous)
Full Moon The phase begins when the Moonlight is too bright for the Chronomancer to distinguish between the Red and White Threads: both appear to be Red. (Full Moon)
Full Half The phase begins when the Moonlight has waned enough for the Chronomancer to once again distinguish the Red Thread from the White. (Waning Gibbous)
Crescent Going The phase begins when the Red Moon is less than half full, as determined by bisecting the Orb with the Threads. Chronomancers call this the Sickle. (Last Quarter)
Dying Moon The phase begins when the Moonlight is too faint for the Chronomancer to distinguish between the Red and White Threads: both appear to be Black. (Old Moon)

The Seven Mothers and the Red Goddess

Each of the Seven Mothers is associated with two phases of the Red Moon: the one which is most sacred to that Mother's own myth, and the one on which they assisted the Red Goddess. These two days are never the same. What happens is, on their own holy day the Priestesses worship their own Mother at His or Her own Temple, while on the Red Goddess's holy day, they assist in the Goddess's rituals (which are associated with her previous incarnations) at her own Temple.

On the day of the Full Moon, the Red Goddess is "born" in the Seven Mothers' Temple, then makes a triumphant procession to her own Temple, escorted by her Mothers.

Worship at the Seven Mothers' Temple

Phase of
the Moon

Worship at the Red Goddess's Temple

Moon Goddess
given Worship


Full Half


Crescent Going


Dying Moon

the Witch

Black Moon


Crescent Coming


Empty Half
The Red
Full Moon


Red Gaze of the Moon

Before the publication of Elder Secrets, there had been nothing to suggest the days and phases of the Red Moon weren't the same everywhere. Now, though, we get movable Lunar holy days - which fits the religious experience of our own world (consider Easter and Ramadan) - to contrast with those fixed Solar worship ceremonies.

It makes for more referee work. But it's a bit more plausible, too (as now the Red Moon's rotation can be understood). The only existing symbolic correspondence between days and phases is surely Wildday = Full Moon, which is what we Sartarites know about the Telmori and the Birth of the Goddess. The others don't make much sense, as shown here:

Dragon Pass

Lunar Phase Mother's Day Weekday
Crescent-Going Irrippi Ontor Freezeday
Dying Moon Danfive Xaron Waterday
Black Moon Jakaleel the Witch Clayday
Crescent-Coming Teelo Norri Windsday
Empty Half Queen Deezola Fireday
Full Moon The Red Goddess Wildday
Full Half Yanafal Tarnils Godsday

A "symbolic correspondence" would surely have had the Dying or Black Moons on Freezeday or Windsday, and Deezola's or Teelo's ceremony on Clayday. I see no correlations at all in the table. But this seems to be an argument for the "floating calendar" - find a part of the world where the Black Moon is on Freezeday, and you've probably found a Jakaleel cult centre. For example, 2/7 x 360 degrees counterclockwise from Dragon Pass t akes me roughly to First Blessed, where it all began!

In fact, if this is so, we'd have:

First Blessed

Lunar Phase Mother's Day Weekday
Black Moon Jakaleel the Witch Freezeday
Crescent-Coming Teelo Norri Waterday
Empty Half Queen Deezola Clayday
Full Moon The Red Goddess Windsday
Full Half Yanafal Tarnils Fireday
Crescent-Going Irrippi Ontor Wildday
Dying Moon Danfive Xaron Godsday

And those make loads of sense to me! So I am now a fervent convert to the Roving Searchlight Theory of the Lunar Way!


Other Resources

See also The Way the Moon Turns (on this site) for an interesting error that's crept into Lunar sources, and Wesley Quadros' Map of the Lunar Phases (warning: the Red Moon rotates backwards in this version!).

Cyclical Magic

The Glowline

The Chronomancers

The Seven Mothers and the Red Goddess

Red Gaze of the Moon


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