- Community Day
- Apotheosis of the Dierne (July Apotheosis)
- Abandonment of the West
- Murder of Alynah Blake
- Entrance of the Eighth God
- First Monday
- July 15 (Mid-Month)
- New Moon
- Hell Month
July is a rough month in the Otherfaith. It culminates in the celebration of the Dierne’s deification. But the month honors everything leading up to that: the Dierne killing Mircea, the Laethas being devoured and reborn in the form of the Firebird, everything going to momentary hell. Hence the name ‘Hell Month’.
July actually starts off with the theoretical Community Day on the first. This is meant to start off the month right, or as well as we can manage. Spiritually, July is supposed to be rough. We’re essentially taking on the trauma of our gods. No doubt my own experiences of the month are influenced by where I live. Summer is awful here in Arizona – hot, muggy, stormy. We get to experience thunderstorms that come in with our monsoons. Everyone’s experience of Hell Month will be influenced by their own internal landscape as well as where they live. Hopefully we’ll begin to understand July on a wider scale this year.
Apart from the monthly additions to our calendar (which can be viewed here), three important additions to July’s holy days are the Abandonment of the West, Murder of Alynah Blake and the Entrance of the Eighth God. These three events can be seen as related or not. I don’t think it’s necessary to have just one story concerning the arrival of our Eighth God. I’ve been working on a story in which the events are related, but I highly encourage people to come up with their own ideas.
The Abandonment of the West starts off along with Community Day on the first of the month. The first Four Gods – the Clarene, Ophelia, Laetha, and Dierne – are all out of commission as gods ruling over Western Fairy. Some of them journey to other worlds (such as our human one), while others wind up reliving and bound up in their own traumas. the Laethas are caught up in in-fighting and unable to work properly as a god or cohesive unit; the Clarene is out wandering the worlds; the Ophelia retreats under her River; the Dierne either wanders the worlds similar to the Clarene or is reduced to his pre-divine form. The gods are still able to be reached during this time, but their forms are more warped than during other times of the year and can be difficult to interface with. Unable to fulfill their duties, their right-hand spirits take charge and sit upon their seats. The spirits that take on the gods duties are Desiree (for the Clarene), Mallory (for the Ophelia), Althea Altair (for the Laetha), and Lilibell (for the Dierne). The latter Four Gods – the Laethelia, Ophelene, Darren, and Eighth God – remain, though far less experienced than the former Four Gods.
The spirits are left to themselves. They have to deal with the traumas and problems plaguing the West all on their own – similar to the situation that led to the Dierne’s deification. A variety of issues pop up while the interim-gods sit on their seats, only two of which I’ve identified formally.
The Murder of Alynah Blake (born at the start of Reunion, the opposite holy day to the Apotheosis of the Dierne) takes place near the beginning of the month, in the first week, and is one of the larger problems the West has to deal with. Mythically, she meets during Hell Month to spar with the Ophelene, a symbolic balancing of the force of chaos and the force of justice in the Otherfaith. For one reason or another, one of their battles ends not in the usual tie (with the rabbit spirit Alynah sprinting off into the wilds). Alynah either trips, slips, or simply doesn’t dodge as she usually does, and the Ophelene slices her in half. It’s intended as an accident, the Ophelene so used to their routine she doesn’t have time to pull back. She kills off the spirit of chaos, leaving a rather gaping hole in the energetic landscape of the West during a very vulnerable time.
Alynah’s murder is complicated. Some spirits view it as a positive act – Alynah is a bloodthirsty and violent spirit, pushy in her recruitment of new members to her Rabbit Troupe. She’s also incredibly powerful, near godly, and her birth only lends to her energetic importance. She’s the daughter of Althea Altair and Lilibell, the granddaughter of the Clarene and Adilene, and adopted by the Dierne. Practically the only thing keeping her from actual godhood is her irresponsibility and the protests of the other gods.
Unleashed at the same time of her murder is her Companion – a physically smaller but magically stronger spirit. Other Companionships are Erann with Ava and Aletheia 012 and Casimir with Neve. Being the giant half of a Companionship, any spirit Alynah entered into the relationship with would have to be more powerful energetically, which sends the interim-gods and the Ophelene into panic-mode. They eventually find Alynah’s Companion – Abel Blake – and the Ophelene takes on temporary responsibility for him until Alynah is reborn near the end of the month.
Later in the month, likely close to mid-month, the Eighth God arrives on the scene. Their arrival might be filling the chaotic role left behind in Alynah’s death, or they simply may decide that the restless and disastrous time is the best to announce themselves. Their attendant spirit Nevander announces their coming in some version of the god’s beginning. In others, the Laethelia announces the Eight God, the new god on her arm, or the Darren announces the Eighth’s arrival with little fanfare. However it happens, the Eighth’s entrance into the West is catastrophic. The interim-gods have no idea how to handle him (though Desiree calls for his murder once she sets her eyes on him, regardless of how he is announced), and the latter Four Gods are unsure how to deal with their new sibling.
The Eighth God is highly irreverent. Their spirits have little or no consideration for piety or regard for the other gods, and the Eighth themselves/himself/itself is outright hostile to the Clarene. They are a sort of anti-kingship god, lacking any throne. (Nevander, their attendant spirit, gladly appropriates the other god’s thrones for his purposes, though.) A combination of the Laetha and Dierne, the Eighth God is essentially ‘the worst’ of both gods. Many people have seen the Eighth God as very inhuman, hostile and frightening and everything scary. I see the god as more in-between, but I’m also a devotee to half of the god that creates the Eighth. My interpretation of the Eighth as a frightening, cruel god is balanced out by viewing them as also deeply important to the Otherfaith as a challenger spirit, one unafraid to confront the other gods on their bullshit.
The arrival of the Eighth God also shows us something interesting about the latter Four Gods: the combination of the lovers tends to create unpleasant deities. the Clarene and Ophelia create the Ophelene, a god of retribution who is commonly seen carrying a giant sword and shield. the Laetha and Dierne create the Eighth God, a god of chaos and terror. Meanwhile, the deities in conflict (Clarene vs Dierne, and Ophelia vs Laetha) create much most peaceful gods: the Laethelia, god of oceans and joy, and Darren, god of mediation and peace.
I don’t expect most people to like the Eighth God. In all honesty, I’m not sure they even want our worship, at least not in a way like the other gods do. But it still feels inappropriate to leave them out of my prayers. I may see them as a giant white centipede of death, ready to bite my head off, but I still feel compelled to offer them my appreciation. the Eighth is the god of outsiders and those ostracized by the Western spirits, after all. He may send shivers up my spine, but he’s become vital to my practice.
This month, and the killing of Alynah and the arrival of the Eighth, are all tied up in the Ophelene. She’s a god of duty and obligation, usually following the orders the Clarene gives her without question. That doesn’t mean she’s without guilt – she doesn’t intend to kill Alynah, for example, and is ambivalent about the praise she receives for doing it. Hell Month signals a huge change for the Ophelene. When Desiree orders her to kill Abel, for example, she refuses. Though Abel is dangerous and poses a serious threat to the West, a land the Ophelene is obligated to protect, she decides to take responsibility of the younger man and enter into temporary Companionship with him.
When the Eighth God arrives, the Ophelene is tasked with killing him. Desiree, and the Clarene once she returns to the West, view the Eighth God as fundamentally incompatible with the West and its values. And the Eighth God provides plenty of reasons to the Ophelene. He goads and insults her. He mocks her for her affection for the Laethelia. He constantly shoves in her face that she’s simply a murderer, as awful to behold as the Eighth himself. Outraged and injured, the Ophelene does try to kill the other god, bearing all her divine strength and ability down on him, slicing him to as many pieces as she can before stopping just short. Rather than following her orders, she allows him to live – acknowledging his role in the Four Gods as valid and important.
Giving these events a solid date is difficult. They all swirl together to make Hell Month what it is. There will likely be more events and stories that reveal themselves both this Hell Month and ones in the future. I have no doubt the religious calendar for this month will eventually be bursting, as the month of December hopefully will be in the future as well. I feel I’ve written more than enough on Hell Month for today, though.
Happy Wednesday, and happy July.
Thank you for reading. ‘Of the Other People’ is a site dedicated to the Otherfaith, a modern polytheist god religion. We are supported through Patreon and want to give special thanks to our patrons Jack at Drawing Stars and Leithin Cluan at Treasure in Barren Places. If you enjoy the writing here, consider becoming a patron!