The Grim Moon: A Closer Look

Copyrighted. Don’t steal. It’s bad for your health.

Song Suggestion: Fairy Tale by Nox Arcana

A Note From The Author: I know what you’re thinking. What does this have to do with anything? This is for those who love to have a fully immersive experience with their reading. Legends and myths, as well as a few short stories connected to the Grim Moon will be dropping for a bit. This is something of an appendix post that will help you understand more about what is going on and keep me from doing huge info drops in the middle of a story. Cause I hate that.

The Grim Moon: A Closer Look

  1. A. Shrine and Food: In the center of the village, a large stone slab is set with places for all those who have died during the year. Their families leave offerings that they might buy their way out of the Grim Hunt (or Haunt) if they happen to be caught by it.
    • The food can consist of very simple fare, such as meal or porridge, but most try to leave the sugar sand cakes or honey bread; it is believed that the Haunt prefers that which is sweetest, for it reminds them of the life they no longer have.
    • The shrine itself is also decorated with the early blooming snowbell and snow violets. It is said that Elphame loves these flowers above all others and that is why they grow so thickly within the Wicked Wood. There might be candles, perfumes, and incense in more prosperous years, though these are just extras and not necessary for pleasing the lady.
  2. Sira: This is also a time when the dead are remembered and blessed. Sira, being the goddess of death, is treated as an honored guest. 
    • The day before the New Moon rises, there is a drawing in which all the names of the women in the village are put into a basket and one is chosen to represent Sira during the fortnight of the celebration and she is known as Sira’s Companion during this time. Her name will not be used and those who dare speak to her will call her only ‘Milady’. Although all the names are entered, it tends to go to those who are still young and have no children of their own. The chosen woman is given a great, black wolfhound and a scythe. Her face is painted to look like a pale skull and a dark cloak is drawn over her. Every evening, she is the last to leave the streets and return home with her hound, who will have to be bribed with bits of jerky by those who linger over long outside. The rest of the woman’s family will have been removed to the houses of relatives and friends. This is the way Sira is honored, for she reigns alone over the seven hells and guards the gates to heaven with none but her hounds to keep her company. During this celebration, the chosen woman sits with her in spirit, thanking her for keeping the damned, and the demons that fester with them in the seven hells, from leaving their prisons to infest earth or invade heaven. The woman will speak to no-one of what she has seen or heard, but never has any woman remained unchanged by the experience.
      • After the full Grim Moon sets, the family will retain possession of the hound which will be used to breed a new litter of wolfhounds. The hound that will be used on the next Grim Moon is chosen and raised by the woman who was Sira’s companion, just as Sira always chooses the best of her hound’s pups to do her bidding. 
      • This is a great honor and it is believed that Sira, who governs chance, chooses her own stand-in. To have more than one Grim Hound in your house is a great honor. It is believed that Sira will choose favorites and those who have two or three of the blessed dogs do seem to gain a few favors. Few die young in these families and their elderly have a swift, graceful passing. There are some in Sildess that claim this is mere coincidence, but it is supported by centuries of evidence, though why Sira would care for the celebrations in a small village near the forest, no-one can answer; she is worshipped elsewhere in the fall with much fanfare and more offerings than the village of Downing Dale could ever dream of. But who can know the heart of a goddess? Especially one so dark and mysterious.
  3. The Pale Lady: This is thought to be Elphame, the goddess who chose to fall when she was tricked into marrying the king of the Fair Folk, Faine, rather than give him the right to sit beside her in the heavens, where he could cause all manner of trouble. There are those, however, who argue that it is really Sira beneath the hood and that this is the time of the year when she is allowed into the mortal world to visit her sister. Still others argue that it is Lira, but those are few in number; Lira loves life and does not often bring herself to punish any. She leaves that to Sira, for her heart is too soft. To imagine her as the lady of the Grim Hunt is to put her in the position of judge. It is not a role that suits what is known of her.
    • The Pale lady, no matter which of the three she might be, is honored in a particular way during this time. The treats made for her are very particular and have been the same for as long as anyone can remember. She likes a particular sweetmeat made with pecans and a cream and sugar paste. This is a recipe that has passed from mother to daughter since before men left the forest and this is the only region where this particular delicacy can be found. During the Grim Moon, the village sells several dozen crates of these treats to the city in the north, Sildess. There, the candies are sold during their much lighter hearted version of the celebration.
    • Besides the flowers, there is a sweet treat that is very personal and though there are those that sell it in Sildess, in Downing Dale it is nearly a holy sacrament, for it is the favorite of The Pale Lady. Made of melted sugar sand, these are effigies sculpted into shapes such as skulls, skeletal horses, or great hounds. They are decorated with sugar paste that is made in many bright colors. These are large and heavy, set out under a special pavilion on the first day of the Grim Moon, and broken apart and eaten on the first day after the full moon sets. It is believed that those who give to the lady the most pleasing of these sugar offerings buy a place for their deceased family in the Court of the Moon where they will become one of the undying.
  4. Afterward: The day after the full Grim Moon has set is one of dancing and loud celebrations to welcome spring. This Marks the beginning cycle of the Storm Moon, which brings the rains over the mountains. Proposals made during this day are considered blessed, especially if they are for marriage. The woman who represented Sira is brought out. She is bathed by the women in the village with rose soaps and her face is carefully cleaned of the skull paint. Her hair is braided with bright wildflowers and she is draped in colorful silks. When she is ready, she leads a group of merry girls through the village, dancing and singing. All the villagers will call out her name to bring her back to life from the shadows of death. It must be noted that her hound will always go with her, after this, and most of the women, being fairly young when they are chosen, are happy to keep them close, for the wolfhounds are tall, fierce creatures that will protect them at all costs.
  5. History: This celebration, it is noted in the annuls of the historians in Sildess, has its beginnings in a time so distant there are only the barest records of it. There is some indication that this already complicated ritual was once even more elaborate. The Pale Lady – why she is called thus and why she is master of the hunt – is a mystery. Though most argue that she is clearly an aspect of Elphame, not Sira, who prefers shadows to moonlight, or Lira, who is no punisher, it is a common debate among those who study this little known, but fascinating celebration.
    • Believed to have its origins in the kingdom of Angboria – the Wicked Wood being a small slice of what is left of it. The Forsaken Lands beyond lie fallow and sterile, an inhospitable country that, if tales be true, were once rich and beautiful and made up the rest of the old kingdom. The Wood was the beating heart of Angboria and it was here that the few, small clues lead those searching for the beginning of the Grim Moon. Angboria was ruled by three kings, brothers, who each had a talent. The youngest brother is usually accepted as the wisest of the three. There is a mention of an accord between the Fair Folk and the youngest of the kings, though the reasons for it have been lost.
    • There is little told of those who have broken the rules during this time. Mostly because they are never seen again. There are a few who speak of peeking out, in the dark of night, and seeing a pale, cloaked figure moving through the trees with a company of dark, warrior type figures. She rides upon a pale, shining horse, surely one of the Aiosshee, the faery horse (or first horse), which was gifted to Elphame’s mother, the goddess Aine to show the love of Kyne, her mate.
  6. The Bargheist: Little will be said of this spirit here; he deserves his own section and his involvement in the Grim Moon festivities seems to be limited to the small offerings left outside the doors of the homes, for he is a great protector and this is a time when demons and evil spirits are seeking shelter from Sira’s hounds. To be trapped in one of the seven hells is eternal and thus those who know they belong there are always trying to hide from she who keeps it. Carvings of bears and offerings of corn are the most common things to find on the doorstep during the Grim Moon, though some will leave winter apples and early berries.

XXX

Feed The Dragons

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