Grothar brings rain, snow,
clouds, and other meteorological phenomena. His primary responsibilities are to
control and guide the Auratic Winds, and to create and sustain the weather
patterns on the face of Caelereth.
Names. Grothar: God of the Weather, also called Grothar Weathergod, the Grey King, Rainlord, Cloudmaster, King of the Skies or Father of the Skies, especially among the Eyelians.
Grothar is often drawn or sculpted as a very young male
elf. Slim, with long flowing hair and sharply
pointed ears, mischief twinkles in his eyes though his lips are solemn. The
famous fresco on the round ceiling of Grothar’s main temple in
Carmalad shows him dressed in a flowing
robe that seems woven of snowflakes, with a mantle of raindrops thrown about his
shoulders. Muted brushstrokes suggest that he is seated casually on a dais
formed of cumulus clouds, with here and there faint faces of wind sprites
flowing around him. The soft shades of grey, silver, pale blue and light green
create a peaceful, delicate environment within the temple, the white marble
columns rising like slender birch trees all around the circle.
Mythology. Grothar is one of the Twelve Gods or High Spirits (Aeolía) who sprang from the Dream of Avá the Beautiful according to the elven myth as related in the Cárpa'dosía. Together with Eyasha (Peace) and Nehtor (Healing), Grothar is one of the three Gods dedicated to the Element of Wind, and in fact those three were the first to be breathed out of Avá’s Dream, and so are still very close to her. The fourth month of the Santharian Calendar, the Month of the Changing Winds, (or Méh'avashín, Méh'avashín, in Styrásh) is associated with Grothar.
However, while Eyasha is seen as peaceful and tender, and Nehtor as sorrowfully compassionate, Grothar’s ways are not as predictable. Though he loves and cares for the people of Caelereth, his moods are capricious and changable. Perhaps this is why, of all the Twelve, only Grothar is depicted as a very young being. Men believe that just as the weather can change from sunny and smiling in the morning to overcast and rainy by the eve, so Grothar’s favour can veer in a short time, and he must be constantly entertained or placated.
Lore. Grothar is known for having created the Western Cross, a beautiful constellation made up of four bright stars. It matches Nehtor’s Eastern Cross, which the two Gods designed at the same time after seeing Eyasha’s Diadem constellation and hearing Baveras’ appeal for skymarks to aid her sailors and navigators. If one begins at the top of the Western Cross and moves clockwise, it consists of the stars Quallthar, Aelean, Grothamien and Eferia (in rough translation: Brightlord, Coldeye, Grothar’s Gem and Fiery Mistress). Grothamien forms the base of the cross and is the brightest of the four, a glittering blue-white star which marks true West and the place of the Injèrá’s setting.
Grothar is naturally close to the other two Wind Gods, Nehtor and Eyasha, but he also has close ties to several of the other deities. He once aided Urtengor, God of the Forge, to store up water for Urtengor’s Thergerim, and in return received a beautiful hunting hammer and lightning staff. When dark clouds go scudding across the sky in terror as the thunder roars, men say that Urtengor is out teaching Grothar to hunt the cloudbison. Grothar also has a puzzling and passionate relationship with Foiros, the Sun God. Their aims are the same - to provide a balance of life and health for the people of Caelereth, yet often their actions must be in conflict. It is believed that they often squabble about their godly priorities, duties, and responsibilities - yet they invariably resolve their differences of opinion to continue serving Caelereth.
Importance. Grothar is said to love sunsets, white wine, brass instruments, and crystal. He is associated with willow trees, small puddles of water, frogs, cow horns, and magpies. Millers, sailors, and singers often appeal to Grothar for ‘more wind’, and it is jested, although not loudly, that he is also the God of wizards and politicians. The Styrásh runes for “só avásh” (só avásh) are often carved by farmers on their gates or plowdar boundary posts as an appeal to Grothar to bless their fields with good weather. Green or Tree Druids worship Grothar by tending to forests and creating beauty through patience, attempting to protect the balance of nature in their area.
In the south, it is common among peasant folk to make prayers to Grothar by writing their requests on light-coloured strips of fabric, then tying them on the branches of willows. As the rain washes out the ink, the sun bleaches the colours, and the wind ripples and snaps at the streamers, the petitions are brought to Grothar’s attention. Noble folk who are concerned about the weather for any reason usually pour a crystal glass half-full of white wine and set it in a secluded place outdoors, letting it evaporate. Only the most impious of humans would dare drink such an offering; however, currently nobles who do not believe in leaving such things to chance use white wine mixed with a drop of Kasumarii Tyrsam, reasoning that poison would scarcely affect a God, while it would permanently deter any unbelievers.
Symbols. Grothar's colours are grey, white, and silver, standing for clouds, snow, and rain respectively. Recently there has been a trend among religious artists to also add pale blue to represent the sky, and a very light green to stand for the winds. The stylized lightning bolt (a thick golden stroke slanting from top left to right, left again and back to bottom right, thinning as it goes) is one of Grothar’s symbols, as is the six-pointed snowflake. Farmers and merchants will often accompany the carved runes for ‘só avásh’ (wind) on their gateposts with a hammered-metal lightning bolt nailed to the wood. Wealthy followers of Grothar prefer crystal ‘raindrop’ necklaces - a dainty silver chain which suspends a single blown-glass tear - to indicate their faith. Willow boughs are used to deck his temples and to make wreaths for his priestesses; their supple nature and slender, wind-blown leaves appeal to the devout sense of what is fitting.
Celebrations. There exist mainly two celebrations for Grothar worth a special mentioning:
Rain-Beg, Mummer’s Moon
The fourth month of the year (Changing Winds) is a time when the vicissitudes of the weather are on everyone’s mind, and the first full moon of that month is regarded as a night dedicated to making appeals to Grothar for favourable planting temperatures. Known as “The Rain-Beg” or “Mummer’s Moon”, and lasting from the sunset of one day to the sunset of the next, it is an amusing and lighthearted festival designed to convince the Rainlord that they are in desperate need of his bounty.
Farmers and their families stay up all night, aided by vast doses of Bai’an-cha'ah and K’laaf. No alcohol is allowed except the ceremonial offering of white wine in a crystal cup - or, in really poor communities, fresh beer in a stone goblet. Everyone wears their most ragged clothes, in hopes of convincing Grothar that their plight really is genuine, and anyone who can make the slightest melodic noise on a flute, whistle, trumpet, or other wind instrument does so, as they dance, link arms, sing plaintive songs, and sit round a huge bonfire roasting the last of the left-over root vegetables from last year’s harvest. Late the next day (or whenever they finally get up) the women go out and search for fresh mountain herbs and wild spring greens, which they will cook lightly and serve for the only meal of the day. It is a very good omen to see a magpie or hear a frog croaking at this time.
This is the time of year when spirits are the lowest, and a good festival is really needed. The nights have been longer and darker and the weather usually foul and gloomy; the solstice provides a chance for people to feel as if they can have some influence upon the world again. The festival is not dedicated solely to Grothar, but he does come in for some singing, some prayer, and the sacrifice (supposedly) of a young white cow. Of course, everyone in the village enjoys the meat while Grothar gets the horns (made into a musical instrument and then donated to the nearest temple). Lots of feasting, noisemaking, and shenanigans are associated with the solstice celebrations, and people eat too much, drink too much, and make too much love. But it’s all in good fun, and no one (except the cow) gets hurt.
Image description. A Grothar temple with its typical columns surrounding a willow in its center, representing archways for the God's Auratic Winds. Picture by Seeker.
Temples of Grothar usually have a fairly similar design, and although some may
stray from this basic pattern depending on the wealth of the community and other
factors, almost all of them - in human
settlements at least - share at least some key details. Firstly and most
importanty, all of the Weather God's temples are open to him and his weather, be
it sun, storm or snow. Secondly, they are if
at all possible white, and lastly they are all constructed around the number
four, as a tribute to the four cardinal winds.
The usual layout of a temple of the Grey King is a ring of eight columns, three to four peds high, which form archways for the passage of Grothar's Auratic Winds. Supported on these columns is a ring, forming the effect of eight archways into an open circular area, in the centre of which grows a Grothar's Willow or equivilant supple and delicate tree depending on climate, from which hang all the prayer strips and offerings brought by the people in exchange for fair weather. Some temples also hang metal rods or subtly contrived whistles in such a way that when the wind blows, the tree seems to be playing an eerie melody, along with whatever decoration the worshippers bring, often strands of brightly-coloured cloth that flutter this way and that or even cleverly arranged gutters and waterwheels to collect rain. Small bells are not unusual, often hung from the arches. The sound is often used by priests as an aid to meditation, being referred to as the "Voice of Grothar" by some more mystical devotees of the Grey King. Many priests claim to be able to predict the weather using this method, but researchers have been unable to verify or disprove this claim, although scholars treat it with skepticsm. With this having been said, a researcher from the Ximaxian Wind Tower notes that whether a supernatural force is at work or not, Grotharian clerics are generally talented at predicting the weatherIn larger and fancier temples, instead of a ring, eight ornate semicircles are often used as the tops of the archways, and the columns can be very decorative.
Shrines to the Cloudmaster, common in poorer villages with fewer resources to spare, usually have only four columns and four arches, and are often made of whitewashed wood, of which the best is again willow or similar, but most temples are stone. Where temples are made of wood or stone that is not grey, white or silvery, they are usually whitewashed, sometimes rather clumsily. During the summer months, temples are adorned with wreaths, often woven around the pillars themselves. Priests of the King of the Skies tend to live in small houses near the temples. While these are not technically part of the temple itself, they are usually near enough that during the Stormwelcome ceremony, detailed below, they are used as a shelter for the old, sick or pregnant, or anyone else who could not participate. Other than this, they are very basic buildings, often more open to the elements than would be usual. The priest spends most of the day in the temple, helping people bring their pleas to the God, and only goes home to sleep.
Services dedicated to Grothar are irregular and fairly rare. The most common, or at least the most well-known, is the abovementioned Stormwelcome ceremony, most common in farming communities with a close tie to the Weathergod. When the priest predicts a storm, the entire community will gather in the temple and the God's moderation of the coming storm is invoked. On the approach of the storm, those who cannot or do not wish to participate return home while everyone else, led by the priest, remains in the open for the duration of the storm. Although participation is voluntary, the ceremony is believed to be made less effective if less people take part, so withdrawing without a legitimate reason - such as age or pregnancy - is frowned upon by most. This is supposed to protect buildings such as houses, as the people have symbolically "taken" the destructive force of the storm, and ensure that Grothar follows with good weather, as the people have shown that they are willing to bear his wrath as well as his blessing. After the storm has passed, those who did not take part return to the temple and wring the water from the robes of those who did, symbolically washing in the storm, as the participants did.
Temple Locations. The main temple is in Carmalad, a lovely circular confection of white marble. Outlying courtyards are open to the vissicitudes of Grothar’s weather, and paved in a sturdy dove-grey slate. The central dome is supported on slim white pillars and the famous fresco (see above) is painted in trompe-le-oeil on the inside of the dome. Eight lesser domes encircle the central area, each a separate area named after and dedicated to one of the virtues of the eight main Auratic Winds (“Justice, Independence, Peacefulness, Charity, Dedication, Humour, Creativity, Helpfulness”). A cleric or priestess who has most graciously demonstrated one of these virtues is assigned to each dome, there to serve by studying, writing, and answering seekers’ questions on the virtue in question. Grotharian clerics are noted world-wide for their scholarship and courtesy.
Smaller temples are located around the country; another attractive marble dome is located in the northern quarter of Strata, and of course there is the ancient so-called Church of the Silver Cross at Vista Castle, near New-Santhala. It is believed that this odd name comes from the inlaid mithril compass rose set into the mosaic floor, which before the recent restorations was mostly invisible with grime and tarnish, so that only four of the sixteen directions showed clearly!
Among the elves, there are similar clerical communities, but their focus is more meditative and internal, rather than aiming towards education and outreach. They are known as “Windsingers” or “Ava’shae’llae”. An important part of their ethical and spiritual development is training to listen to the unfiltered howling and soughing of the wind in nature: on lonely mountaintops, in solitary forests, along deserted beaches and cliff-faces, or wherever else they can hear the Windsong. Direction, force, tone, pitch, and even scent of the particular wind all play a part in interpreting and discerning the message which Grothar wishes to convey. They seek out isolated places in small groups and usually scatter out from a central supply area, living as hermits for several months on end, only returning sporadically for more food and other necessities.
Smaller human settlements which cannot afford to set up Grotharian temples will at the very least have a Grothar’s Willow, with its prayer strips and offerings, and travelling clerics are always ensured of bed and board with whichever farmer is most eager to win favourable weather for his crops.