Friday, February 10, 2012

Gods and Seasons, Part 4 - Winter

(The final part of a four-part series; part 1, part 2, part 3)

Winter gods and their months:

The Keeper - The excess of the harvest runs dry, and the nights grow long and cold and dark.  This is the Month of the Keeper of Secrets, a pale, black-robed god with only one eye, and patron of black magicians and dabblers in forbidden lore.  In ancient days, the Keeper ripped out his own eye and set it in motion about the world, that he might see all that transpired below.  This is the origin of the moon, known as the Keeper's Eye, and in the Month of the Keeper, the moon is full and open for an entire month (the normal waxing and waning is believed to be the Keeper sleeping and waking).  The Month of the Keeper is a time of dark magic and evil spirits, as the winter solstice occurs.  People stay indoors and often construct folk-wards about their doors and windows to keep evil spirits out.  Festivals of the Keeper are forbidden in civilized lands, but are still practiced by witch-covens in the country, and often entail animal or human sacrifice.  Contests of riddles, however, are traditional during this month.  Temples of the Keeper are not unheard of, being usually located in large cities, and often his priesthood is comprised of spies and assassins.  Their temples are not allowed to exist out of goodwill, but because their priests are useful or feared.  He also has some worshippers among the nobility, where secrets are power, and naturally among magicians.

The Elder - The winter grows colder, with snow piling up and raging, icy gales.  This is the Month of the Elder, an emaciated, white-skinned god with icicles in his beard, and the patron deity of sailors, the sea, cold, the old, and the dead.  During this month, sailors are forced into port by the weather, and so it is a time of relaxation for them; they pay homage to the Elder to avoid his wrath, and to the Traveller to guide them.  Festivals of the Elder often entail storytelling contests about the hearth, both tales of elder days and tales of the sea.  The Month of the Elder is also a time for veneration of one's ancestors.  In ancient days, the Elder sought to cover the world in ice, but he was slain by the combined power of Warrior and the Reaper, and now is the god of the dead as well.  The icy and dead Elder stands in opposition to the firey and hearty Smith on the Great Wheel.  Priests of the Elder are often old sailors rendered unfit for duty, and he has shrines along the coast.  It is also not unusual for temples of the Elder in large cities to be responsible for the disposal of bodies, and to maintain extensive catacombs.

The Savage - As the saved harvest runs low in late winter, men may turn to unspeakable acts of savagery to feed themselves.  This is the Month of the Savage, when raiders and bandits often attack.  The Savage is depicted as a great muscular barbarian with a great axe and scalps upon his belt, and is the patron of berserkers, vikings, cannibals, the violently insane, and primitive tribesmen.  The Month of the Savage is a harsh time, and he is a terrible and forbidden god, and so there are no festivals during this month in civilized societies.  Among societies where he is worshipped, festivals of the Savage tend to involve raiding and pillaging nearby settlements.  The Savage stands across from the Warrior on the Great Wheel, and sects dedicated to the two often fight during this season.  Most temples and priests of the Savage are present in tribal societies, though some decadent societies may also use temples of the Savage as gladiator stables.  Many bestial humanoid races claim descent from the Savage.

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