One of the most common shared practices across the various Quatrian civilizations is a practice with no real modern correlative, named for the Antlers of Anthuor, the Pre-Shamanic Spirit of Life Force, traditionally depicted as a deer.
“Anthuor’s Antlers” is many things: a philosophical theory, a divinatory process, a story-making device, a meditation technique, even a game. Quatrian children were taught this practice almost as soon as they were able to form full sentences. This simple mental device can open up vast new windows of insight into the relationships underlying “reality.”
HOW IT WORKS:
- Think of a Thing.
- Identify either a) the Thing’s Opposite or b) the opposite of one of the Thing’s Qualities.
- Repeat with the Opposite or Quality until the desired result is reached.
Although difficult to explain, an example should illustrate the process. Suppose we think of a “Mountain.” We consider the Mountain at the apex of an inverted “Y”:
Now, what is the opposite of a Mountain? There are no real wrong answers, depending upon how one chooses to approach the question. For the sake of this example, we’ll say “Lake,” as Mountains show height and Lakes show depth.
Now comes the fun part. We move on to Lake, which is the new apex of its own “Y”:
What is a quality of “Lake” that we can use to generate an Opposite? Any of the characteristics of a Lake will do. Blue? Life-filled? Large? For this exercise, we’ll do “Wet.” The opposite of “Wet” is “Dry.” What is something dry? How about the Desert?
Let’s do one more.
What’s a Quality of a Desert? One that comes to mind: the Sun. And the opposite of The Sun? How about The Moon? Our entire thread thus far now connects “Mountains” with “The Moon.”
This process can be repeated indefinitely. It can also be “directed;” given two unrelated Things, one could trace a path between them using Anthuor’s Antlers, uncovering unexpected relationships between them.
Let’s take a look at some “Use Cases” to see how important this practice was for the Ancient Quatrians.
USE CASE ONE: Philosophical
Quatrians understood the connections between everything to be of greater importance than things themselves. “Anthuor’s Antlers” can be used as a tool to investigate these connections and find relationships that aren’t “obvious.” Quatrian libraries were filled with volumes of diagrams of Antlers, categorized by “Thingness.”
Underlying the idea of the exploration of opposites is that, if one continues the process back far enough, it is believed one will finally reach an understanding of the entirety of reality as a “Thing Unto Itself,” which contains no opposites or differentiation.
USE CASE TWO: Meditation/Mnemonics
As a meditative exercise, Quatrian Magicians would begin with a completely concrete Thing and, via Anthuor’s Antlers, would trace it as far back into realms of abstraction as possible. Tales are told of Shelvin Parz, a Quatrian Magician who began with “Toenail” and ended up finding a path to “Inner Peace.”
It was also possible, using Anthuor’s Antlers, to memorize an incredibly complicated and complex series of Things by moving backwards and forwards along the thread.
USE CASE THREE: Divination
When faced with a difficult decision, or when seeking insight into a situation, Quatrians would begin with a key aspect of the question and roll a numbered clay dodecahedron, working through the thread as many times as displayed on the face of the die. The final result would provide some kind of insight into the situation at hand.
Different Quatrians developed more elaborate divinatory methods to use with Anthuor’s Antlers; these will be described in detail at a later date.
USE CASE FOUR: Game or Storymaking Device
Anthuor’s Antlers remained one of the most popular games for all age groups, all the way through the Pantarctican Diaspora. The game, similar to the modern “Six Degrees of Separation,” was played by two competitors. The first would provide two seemingly disparate Things, and the second would have to connect them by finding opposites. They would then switch, and Player 1 would take a turn. Whichever player connected her two Things using the least number of steps would “win.”
Known variations on the game included the following:
- One player would challenge the other to solve the puzzle in a limited number of steps.
- Points would be given for using something’s EXACT opposite (i.e. “Dark” for “Light”) instead of the Thing’s “qualities” (i.e. “River (Wet)” to “Fire (Dry)”).
- Points would be awarded by bystanders for particularly creative or inventive connections.
Finally, if the session was an “all-nighter,” a recorder would list all of the threads, and all present would be invited to create a story using the elements thereon. This may be the reason, some folklorists believe, for the apparently random elements in some surviving Quatrian tales. However, another school of Quatrian studies holds that even the most well-know Quatrian tales were composed in this fashion (e.g. The Lay of the Quatrian Knights); they just don’t seem “random” because their authors were particularly skilled at playing the game.