The Quatrian Symbols Explained
THE MOUNTAIN is the second of the sixteen “Experienced” Powers.
A common myth regarding the indigenous societies of the American Plains holds that, after hunting the American Bison, they would “use every part.” This wasn’t, in fact, always the case; if it were, we wouldn’t have any evidence of the practice of the “buffalo jump” (1). What does seem to be the case, however, is that these communities could use every part of the animal. This is how the Quatrians understood their relationship with mountains. Seeds, food, and materials from plants; shelter and minerals from caves; water and ice from glacial run-offs; even fire from a volcanic lava flow according to a Southern Quatrian myth-cycle — the veneration of mountains, seen as a partnership between elevations and humans, became a hallmark of Quatrian society.
The Ancient Quatrian root word for mountain, kuh’-, applied to any kind of rise in the contour of the landscape, and a clue to a nuance of the “mountain” concept can be found in the word kh’lamih, “a significant/powerful movement/flow down from above” (2). Quatrians understood topography as the source of all things; just as the original Quatrians descended from the Sky after leaving Magino, so the Life Force moves down from above as water melting from the glaciers. Even the water found below the ground, in wells, springs, and limestone caves, ended up there after moving downward from the sky and seeping into the earth.
Mountains were also considered the basis of plant life, likely due to their forested slopes and the seeds which wafted down from their sides. This may also be a good time to mention that Quatrians tended to place more value on the rain-side of rises; they avoided drier areas as a matter of course (we’ll discuss this further when we cover The Forest symbol). The relationship between The Forest and The Mountain is a prominent feature of Quatrian philosophy, the subject of numerous dialectic compositions.
Most major Quatrian settlements were located on or near rises in the landscape. Even those settlements, like Ur Tlepeti, which were located on coastal plains, tended to be located at the highest point on that plain. We know that the Quatrian ability to measure topography has yet to be surpassed, although the closest modern correlate is likely Keyline Design.
The Symbol in Magical Practice
When traced with a Spell Stick, the MOUNTAIN sigil was used by those seeking to increase the flow of positive effects in their lives. It was also traced by those interested in learning the best way to utilize a bounty of resources. A Woodweaver, for instance, who came across a stand of willows, might trace The Mountain nearby, or even on each tree, to ensure the continuing health of both the trees and the structure she planned to create with them.
As a source of water, shelter, food, metal, and even mystery, The Mountain is the most nakedly auspicious symbol when received in divination.
(1) Crow, Joe Medicine. “NOTES ON CROW INDIAN BUFFALO JUMP TRADITIONS.” Plains Anthropologist 23, no. 82 (1978): 249–53. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25667512.
(2) Croft, Haraldur. A Quatrian Chrestomathy and Glossary. Harrassowitz Verlag (distributed); 2 edition. Berlin 2014.