The Festival of the Hypogeum
The Myth Behind the Solstice in Quatria
(See “The Hypogeum is Open” for additional details)
According to the Teachings of Mavani and Iktion, on or around First Frost (in the Northern Climes) or the beginning of Water Season (approx. Nov. 1st in the Northern Hemisphere), eight primordial monsters with beast-like heads emerge from the Hypogeum, which opens for three days, and begin causing havoc upon the land. These demons— the Therioanthropic Monsters — are chthonic remnants of the prior world, who seek to throw the current world into eternal darkness.
The names of the monsters vary from telling to telling, but the most common names, and the attributes of each demon, are listed below:
Gnew — Ruler of Smoke — Male — Wolf-headed
Gneuth — Ruler of Stench — Female — Sow-headed
Weweu — Ruler of Labor — Male — Scorpion-headed
Wehneh — Ruler of Violence — Female — Hyena-headed
Kekew — Ruler of Cruelty — Male — Frog-headed
Kehket —Ruler of Shame/Guilt— Female — Serpent-headed
Djerr — Ruler of Waste/Pollution— Male — Bird-headed
Djuewet — Ruler of Anxiety — Female — Hare-headed
On Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, the Hypogeum reopens. Anthuor and his Eight Magicians ride forth from the bright chthonic realms, carrying hazelwood staves covered in vines and thorns. Every other day, one of the Magicians binds one of the Monsters with the vines, and lashes it with the thorns, returning it into the Hypogeum for another year.
The names and attributes of the Magicians are:
Yan — “The Temperate” — Female — Grape and Blackberry
Tan — “The Kind” — Male — Honeysuckle and Nettle
Tether — “The Calm” — Female — Sweet Pea and Rose
Mether — “The Bountiful” — Male — Gourd and Locust
Pip — “The Joyous” — Female — Poison Ivy and Hawthorn
Azer — “The Hilarious” — Male — Wonga Wonga and Thistle
Sezar — “The Mysterious” — Female — Nightshade and Devil’s Club
Akker — “The Giver” — Male — Ivy and Holly
During the festival, Quatrian families would draw decorated sticks from a bag every other day to determine which Magician captured which Monster (ex. if the Solstice falls on 12/21, sticks would be drawn on 12/22, 12/24, 12/26, 12/28, 12/30, 1/1, and 1/3). After each draw, the sticks representing the two powers would be removed from the process, until only two remained on the final day (thus no need for a toss).
Depending upon who captured whom, portents would be recorded for the coming year. The Magician drawn on Day 1 represented the strongest “Positive” influence for the year, while the Monster remaining on the last day would be the strongest “Negative” influence. Charms, prayers, and supplications would be composed accordingly.
On the final day of the Festival, after all of the Monsters had been returned to the Hypogeum, everyone would gather for a feast, during which the house would be decorated in vines and thorns and 16 dishes would be served (one for each Power). Gifts crafted from found objects would also be exchanged (interesting rocks, curiously shaped branches, dolls made of leaves, etc.). Finally, everyone would gather to play a ritual board game before retiring for the night and sleeping late the next day.