I’ve got a few hours to touch base before I have to swing back up Seattle way. I’ve been spending a lot of time on the bus (three bloody hours each way for an hour-and-a-quarter drive..), which means I’ve also been spending a lot of time reading. In this case, a shitload of occult anthropology and ancient linguistic works; there’s a reason I play the system I do..
So, I find that a lot of people get way too Jungian when they’re building their pantheons, neglecting just how fucking weird we as a species have gotten in the past. Here’s some examples of ways to weird up your creepy native cultists all proper-like.
For starters, I found a couple of excerpts from Budge’s 1895 translation of the Egyptian Books of the Dead (available here) that were too deliciously pulpy not to pass on.
..The Night-Watchers of Set. Yea, the Night-Watchers of the Crocodile, whose faces are hidden, who dwell in the divine Temple of the King of the North in the apparel of the gods on the sixth day of festival, whose snares.. are like unto Eternity. – Book of the Dead, V.II, Ch LXV, On Coming Forth By Day from the Nu Papyrus
Tell me that isn’t setting off the fires in your head right now. Elsewhere (Ch. LXXI) they consistently refer to “the God of One Face”, which is a hell of a title. Excerpt deliberately partially redacted, as I try to avoid using magical incantations – especially to obvious demons – in my daily life. For some reason.
....the God of One Face is with me… ye seven beings, who support the scales on the night of the judgement.. who cut off heads, who hack necks to pieces, who take possession of hearts by violence and rend the places where the heart is fixed, who make slaughterings in the Lake of Fire.. -op. cit., Ch. LXXI, Papyrus of Nebseni
There’s your demonic titles right there.
Meanwhile, the Aztecs are getting up to their own pantheonic Weirdness; the information here is taken from a book that’s rather badly out of date at this point, “A Primer of Mayan Heiroglyphics” by Daniel G. Brinton. Still, even what’s wrong is a fertile ground to play in. Just, preface all this with “Brinton says that..”. Anyway..
• Aztec Dwarves were the degenerate remains of the previous age of the Earth, having survived the apocalypse in defiance of the gods. Indeed, their very degeneracy brought the Apocalypse. Would explain the dour demeanour and throwing themselves into their crafts, certainly. Holding on to the dying arts of a dead world, lurking underground to avoid the prying eyes of the New Gods, not enslaved to the current god of Death. Adventurers are tired of an eternity of cowering, unafraid (or only a little) of walking under the eyes of the Sun. Some were said to have come, in the last, to the form of flowers.
• Some divine titles and charges (note that these are far, far more interesting than the shit that made it into Deities and Demigods) :
“The Virgin Fire” – Infants
“The Virgin of the Butchered Kill” – Hunting
“The Divine Snare” – goddess of killing by ropes and traps.
“He who tends the cooking fire” – Fisherman’s deity
“The intoxicating Mead” – Drinking, but not boning. So no Dionysis here.
“She who vomits precious stones” – Patron of gemcrafters in amethyst and jade
“The infinite jewels” – Medicine (consider the importance of gems in Western “medicine” until the ~1700s and it’s not that much of a leap..)
“He whose teeth are Six Lances” – War
“The Archer” – War, plague
“Dangerous one” and “The Terror” – War demigods
“Fire is his Face” – Burning things in war
“He who works in Fire” – Destruction by fire in a more general sense
“The Bearer of 8,000 lances” – war
..not that the Maya had a fixation or anything.
More to come later. Gotta head out to the bus now.
–All excerpts are from texts in the public domain, your personal cultural heritage. Defend it.