Masterpost: the Laetha

This is part of our basics series, seeking to educate newcomers on the Otherfaith and our gods. It is also part of the '30 Days of Devotion' project. The original prompts for the '30 Days of Devotion' can be found here.

This is a masterpost of the Laetha and will include all her symbols, myths, and other basic information.

Overview

from here:

the Laetha

Main Role: Challenger of the People
the Laetha is once human then fae then god. Her entrance into the West causes upset – because the land rejects her. So she dies and lets the land have her, lets the West strip from her what it rejects, until she is born anew as one of the People. Her role toward us in the faith is to challenge who we are, who we can be, and how we fit in the world.

the Laetha is a multi-selved deity, having been split into many pieces on the precipice of her apotheosis. There are currently ten known and named Laethas – Alaria, Aletheia, Alma, Arabella, Arrise, Artois, Asier, Ava, Azure, and the Firebird. the Firebird is considered both the ultimate combination of all Laetha and his own self, and there is a mechanical form of the Firebird that is used by the Laethas. Each of the Laethas can be considered their own deity, as they have preferences, personalities, and relationships with each other and other spirits.

the Laetha exemplifies the Other People’s dystheistic beliefs, and it can be complicated to offer and interact with this god. She should receive a good deal of apotropaic offerings.

  • House: Hark
  • Court: Red
  • Initiatory Order: Nix

Origins

the Laetha was the first of the Four Gods to make herself known. Aine had heard of her from other spirits she was working with at the time, though the Laetha was understood to be a male deity then. He appeared as a giant bird made entirely of flames, glorious and terrifying.

The god was slow to reveal her origins, however. It was through the other Four Gods that it was learned she originated from Appalachian region. She also appeared as a young main painted as a candy skull, making a clear connection to the Southwestern United States. Because the Laetha was shattered into hundreds or thousands of pieces, which were said to be scattered through the many worlds, the god doesn’t have a true origin beyond her original Appalachian home. the Laetha Arabella, the first of all of them, came from the area, tumbling into the Other People’s otherworld after falling off a cliff.

Still, no matter the impressions we receive about these gods, they are not attested to in folklore. Our ideas and even messages from the gods should not be considered fact or scholarship. We are not reconstructionists. Their origins are more important to us for mythic purposes, not factual ones.

Personality

Describing the personality of the Laetha is made difficult due to the god being multi-selved. Each shard has their own personality and preferences. The most common trait among them all is the willingness to sacrifice self or others and a tendency toward cruelty. Most of the Laethas squabbled between each other, ranging from vague tension to murderous intent.

Included below are some mythic examples of Laethic personalities:

from Touch [Trust], a myth that could be from Arabella, Asier, or an Aletheia’s perspective:

“I’m sorry I left without telling you anything.”

“Okay,” you say, passing the coffee to him. You search your fridge for food, but there’s nothing but chocolate and old bananas. The only food in the cupboard is ramen, but you make it anyway. He’s used to shit food. He doesn’t have room to complain. You set one ramen cup in front of him a bit more forcefully than you need to, and there’s violence in the way you slurp your own noodles.

from this myth, which could be about Arabella or Ava:

She ran her sweet short fingers over ink and pencil and page. She let you write poems on her skin. Her eyes were honey brown then, and she didn’t rise out of sidewalks and doorways and air. She never lied, she doesn’t lie. She danced with you and murmured the terms of your contract – such a lovely, lonely deal.

She sealed it with a kiss and a promise to rip your heart out.

from The Marriage of Othani, which is about Aletheia 009:

“You have fallen in love with a fire, and that fire has filled you with the only thing it knows,” she said. “No matter how the fire is – tree, stone, man – he will burn you.”

from The Red Room, about Aletheia 003:

…his voice is a void.

No emotion scratches it. You want to say it is a perfect monotone, but that’s not quite right. When he speaks his voice is like a hole, spaces where sound should fall apart. You’re only vaguely aware that he is saying words. He’s like a robot repeating command prompts. You have to focus, let his words process a few moments later.

…That boy is code and gold and steel and gears.

from Ava at the Gate:

The girls, curious as all Laethas are, peered into the chasm, and their eyes widened as they beheld the endless bones within.

the Laethas can be grouped into three overarching personalities – placating (typified by Arabella), protecting (typified by Asier), and challenging (typified by Aletheia). the Firebird is in his own category, being the sum of all the Laethas.

Placating Laethas are soothing and kind, and they could be described as motherly. They are characterized by softer auras and their gentle, nurturing approach to humanity. They seek to stop fights and conflicts between the Laethas themselves and other spirits, and they are usually known for their compassion. Placating Laethas are Arabella, Alaria, and Alma.

Protecting Laethas are characterized by brute force, such as when Asier shoves the very foundation of the world to reconnect to the West. They can be seen as physically and energetically imposing figures, incredibly skilled in whatever they pursue. They are notable for confidence and their defense of other spirits, often against other Laethas. They work best with the placating Laethas due to a shared desire to defend. Protecting Laethas are Asier, Arrise, and Azure.

Challenging Laethas are the cruelest of the bunch. They act as hostile forces to humanity, sometimes with little redeeming qualities. Sometimes they are violent, often with epithets of ‘bloody’ or ‘blood stained’. They are considered far from humanity and human empathy, challenging us to find points of connection with these Laethas. They are voracious with their mockery and dislike of humans and each other. Challenging Laethas are the Aletheias, Artois, and Ava.

Ava, notably, has a horrid relationship with Artois and Aletheia, possibly because they share personality traits. She actively tries to slaughter Aletheias, though this might be a retributory response as Aletheias often border on the ethical lines of the Other People.

the Firebird, when not in a frenzied state, is notable for his calm, even assessment of his surroundings and the spirits around him. He can be impartial to a fault, affecting his children, but also impart great knowledge, even more so than the other Laethas – likely due to his being the integrated form of all of the fire gods in the faith.

Themes

The most obvious theme of the Laetha is transformation, especially apotheosis (becoming god). the Laetha Arabella is originally a young human who falls into the West, wasting away in the sacred fairyland before she is united with the land as a way to save her soul. It is this process that turns her into a bird of faery fire – and then she is sundered into hundreds of pieces before she can truly claim godhood.

She is tied to rebirth not as a phoenix is, but through the process her many selves undergo – setting themselves aflame and achieving godhood. Her devotees can also be ‘reborn’ as Aletheias, a process which is said to strip the individual of a degree of selfhood. Whereas the Ophelia often strips or washes away parts of her devotees, the Laetha uses them to inflame, infect, and eventually incinerate her followers. Like the Ophelia, she is known as a Heartmaker. (This epithet is partially because the Laetha actually removes the spiritual heart from those who initiate into her order.)

the Laetha is also tied heavily to technology, especially speculative technology. Coding and computers fall under the Laetha’s domain. Robotics are also part of the Laetha’s focus, highlighted with the Aletheias and the mecha-Firebird. This theme leads us to explorations of artificial intelligence and how we, humanity, will relate to such creations. Much of the conflict between AI and humans in the Otherfaith myths comes from a fundamental misunderstanding, misuse, or abuse of that technology. These technological themes also lead us to one of the Laetha’s epithets – Singularity – which references when technology begins to outpace and ‘outsmart’ humanity. the Laetha herself is seen as an example of this, hence why she is sometimes considered the most ‘alien’ of the gods while being originally human. She has transcended mortal flesh, and this is a complicated matter – the Other People do not treat the idea of technological Singularity as inherently positive or negative.

In opposition to the Clarene’s themes of creation, one of the Laetha’s themes is destruction. This is consistent across all the Laethas – the Firebird, in his frenzied state, almost destroys the entirety of the West, and all of the Laethas eventually have to burn themselves up to unite with the Laethic Firebird. the Laetha’s destruction is very violent and bloody, often violent for violence’s sake. In the myths she is able to almost crush the Clarene, and it is only another Laetha/Laethic shard that is able to calm or divert the destruction the Laetha can bring.

This is where the Laetha’s epithet of ‘Oppressor’ comes from. Though the Laetha is tied to rebellion – also possessing the epithet of ‘Oppressed’ – it is in a different way that the Dierne is. the Laetha doesn’t care about creating a new world, or leaving anything behind; she simply wants to burn everything down in her anger and horror at what she is and what she has done to others.

Ethical Consequences

What does having a god such as this in our religion mean for us, ethically? What does she teach us, and how do we live in right relationship with her outside of devotional activities? (And those matter! Our hands cannot fail to do the work our lips are extolling.)

The ethical teachings the Laetha offers us are, to put it rather simply:

  • utilitarianism
  • contractarianism
  • consequentialism

But we have to beware approaching those on just their face.

The main ethical teaching the Laetha offers us is utilitarianism. She advises us to seek that we gives us the most pleasure and least pain for all – but she also acts as a warning. the Laetha is a mythological example of the ‘utility monster’ thought experiment – an entity that receives more utility/pleasure in its consumption of resources than other entities. She warns us against simply calculating numbers of what gains the most utility, as the Laetha could consume the world and be viewed as a ‘positive’ outcome in some utilitarian schools. She reminds us that we have to balance the numbers and the overall benefit with the effects it has on individuals, or we may end up washing people away in our search to bring the most people comfort. (The utility monster can be compared to capitalism, and you can read more about it here.)

Contracts and the upholding of them is important to the Laetha. Unlike the Ophelia’s teachings of questioning authority, the Laetha very much seeks for people to obey. She wants to impart the importance of contracts and that the violation of them weakens communities, and she teaches that hierarchies have use – and danger. the Laetha is a dangerous, chaotic god, after all, so her lessons concerning contractarianism are double-edged.

Consequentialism is tied to utilitarianism – what is more important than intent is the outcome of an action, and the Laetha goes so far as to view ends justifying any means. She can also get ahead of herself – such as willing to destroy the entire West in order to ‘right’ what she had wronged – and, again, we have to contemplate just how far we are willing to go and where these ethics begin to clash against the other gods’, splintering along the edge.

All these ethical teachings must be understood from the starting point of the consequentialism ethics that permeates the Otherfaith – we emphasize the actions and consequences of those actions rather than the intent or virtue of the person acting. We also have some influences of deontological (duty-bound) ethics, but those come secondary to the focus we place on whether an action is itself in line with our ethics are not. The intent behind the actions is not considered as important or relevant.

Domains

  • Artifical intelligence
  • Fire
  • Nuclear fission/Nuclear bombs
  • Sacrifice
  • Song
  • Technology
  • Time
  • Transformation
  • Violence

Symbols

  • #s 7, 12, 13
  • ‘Devil’ tails
  • Amaryllis
  • Arrows
  • Beetles
  • Bombs (atomic)
  • Butterflies
  • Cars, especially trucks
  • Coal
  • Daisies
  • Firebirds
  • Gears
  • Gold
  • Gold crown
  • Jasper
  • Lanterns
  • Lightbulbs
  • Matches
  • Mechanical hearts
  • Nuclear reactors
  • Peacock feathers (painted red)
  • Poppies
  • Ram horns
  • Red
  • Robots
  • Three gold teardrops
  • White bark trees (such as eucalyptus)
  • Wildfires

Epithets

  • Boy of Bones
  • Devourer
  • Firebird
  • Flower-King
  • Forgetful One
  • Gold-King
  • Gold-Mother
  • Gold-Queen
  • Gold-Teared
  • Heartmaker
  • Hollow One
  • Hundred-bodied
  • Lost Boy
  • Many Souled
  • Many-Armed
  • Mortal
  • Oppressed
  • Oppressor
  • Singer
  • Singularity
  • Sundered Self
  • The Lantern
  • White Tree
  • Wretched One

Related Spirits

  • Adilene
  • Aeron Blake
  • Alice
  • Althea Altair
  • Alynah Blake
  • Amira
  • Anne Marie
  • Aster Aira
  • Baryla
  • Beryl
  • Blaim
  • Blair
  • Danny
  • Dawn
  • Dusk
  • Epiphany
  • Eran(n)
  • Mary Anne
  • Othani
  • Sabia
  • Thiam
  • Thunderhorse
  • White Mare

Links

[Basics] The Four Gods

Laetha (Otherfaith Wiki)
Aletheia (Otherfaith Wiki)

[Essay] Theophany
[Hawthorne & Heather] on Disembowelment
[Hawthorne & Heather] The Bird & the Snake

Reunion [2014]
27
Ava at the Gate
The House of God
in June, to December
Jealousy + the River
Lilibell of Two Hearts
The Marriage of Othani
The Red Room
Touch [Trust]


Thank you for reading. ‘of the Other People’ is a site dedicated to the Otherfaith, a modern polytheist religion. You can find more about us here and here. You can contact us here if you have any questions or would like to get involved.

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About the Faith
The Otherfaith is a modern polytheistic religion. We are urban-centric, technology-loving, and always keep our eyes to the future. We were born from the modern Pagan and polytheist movements, and from them we have grown and become new, modern, evolving - a new faith. In 2015, we go into this our fifth year and seek to create more solid practices and structures for the faith.
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