While many of the Southern gods have made their way into the Northlands, near the edges of the Angrelid, the peoples still follow the path of the original gods. These are the couple, Ustig and Silstig (first mother and first father). As legend has it, Ustig gave birth to the world and followed by bestowing it with 9 fair sons (Vanik, Orstag, Gessig, Urdag, Vorig, Kostan, Yeln, Tura and Grod). Silstig, jealous and bitter over the worship Ustig received, slew Grod who was the youngest and was cast from the Great Glacier by the other 8 sons. He landed in the lowest lands where great beasts tore his arms and legs from him; being a god of sorts, he escaped by taking the shape of a drake and slithered into the long passages of the Gallendaag. The spirit of Grod returned, but since he could no longer walk the path of the Great Glacier, he roamed the lands to guide the dead back to safety.
Ustig – FirstMother
Domains: Life, Ice
Holy symbol: A circle in a pair of hands
She is the mother of all things. Her cult primarily consists of females clerics and doulas, though men are not forbidden to serve. She’s the primary goddess when anyone prays or gives thanks. Her sons are considered demigods, each with his own special trait, but there are few clerics at all that still serve the sons. Her priestesses dress in loose animal skins and ritually paint their faces. Her holy symbol is a silver dagger in the shape of an icicle. (NG)
(Note: Some scholars believe Ustig and Aerthas are the same goddess in a different aspect, But neither religion would admit to such a thing.)
Son Servants – Followers of the Eight
Holy symbol: A bone square with the name of the demigod engraved on it
Typically, there are Soncults surrounding nearly every church or community. While they do NOT have any organized clergy, some talented individuals can call on the power of the eight if it serves the right purpose. The Eight remaining sons of Ustig each have a nickname that gives some idea as to what their influence is:
Vanik the Shieldbearer, Orstag the Runner, Gessig the Lover, Urdag the Brute, Vorig the Voice, Kostan the Trickster, Yeln the Puzzler, Turak the Archer.
Since there is no organized church, there is no central worship site or temple for the Eight. Nor are there any sort of vestments. What passes for a holy symbol among their believers are small totemic representations of the sons, usually carved from some sort of animal bone. (No alignment affiliation)
Grod – The Ever Wandering
Domains: Death, Travel
Holy symbol: A primitive compass rose
Grod’s death is a tragic story, especially knowing that his spirit has no rest. His worshippers and clerics are a very somber lot. They typically handle the dead in the issuance of last rites. They paint themselves in ice and dress in white skins to honor Grod’s ever journey across the ice. The hold a round stone as their holy symbol, eternally rolling and never sitting still. They also consider the followers of Silstig their mortal enemies. (N)
Silssstig – The One Who Crawls Below
Domains: Trickery, War
Holy symbol: A thick, stone snake
There are a number of Northers who not only reject the teachings of Ustig as weak, but they embrace Silssstig, which they perceive to be a survivor. One may notice in the old texts that his name was extended to emulate the hissing of his eternal form. He is represented as a snake, naga-like, who’s skin is hard as stone. His clerics seek only power and to dominate those around them, driving their conquests into servitude. They dress in deep green robes and are adorned with many images of snakes. As a matter of rank, they are tattooed with images of serpents – the more tattoos, the more dangerous they will be. The holy symbol of Silssstig’s followers is a stone snake. (NE)
The Old Gods – Those Who Whisper Beyond
Domains: Magic, Knowledge
Holy symbol: Typically, a petrified or mummified eye or finger
There are still some who follow the whispers in the darkness, whom they believe to be the Original Gods; formless, twisting shadows who gave form to Ulstig herself. The followers of the Old Gods are pragmatic and can be secretive. It’s unlikely one would ever see a cleric of the Old Gods, because they believe blending in is the most important sacrament. While some would call their worship pagan and barbaric, with blood sacrifice and little regard for life, the followers understand that these sacrifices keep the balance of all things.
It’s thought that the original followers of the Old Gods who pushed South were corrupted by the Spearfolk and it gave birth to the cult of Shta’Nodaen. While this could be true, there is little actual proof, save the similarity in the theme of dark tentacles.
The only holy symbol for worshippers of the Old Gods is some token taken from nature and blessed by a prayer; a special twig, a phial of dark water, etc. It varies from believer to believer. However, all of them believe in the idea of sacrifice, even if it means to lose one’s self. (N)