Strange Gods

Strange Gods tend to die, for their weirdness inhibits worship. The human mind wants deities like mirrors, and rejects as inhuman that which it cannot comprehend. Muted prayers, temples emptied or unbuilt, sacraments forgotten, and not a single child baptized by their fire - this is how holy telomeres shorten.

Yet in death they remain incorrupt, and their bodyminds are scattered throughout time and space. In these corpses the strangeness festers, until it rots through to the bedrock of the universe, and what was once strange becomes physics. Thus, in death, they create the conditions for their resurrection.

Consider the case of the hundred-featured behemoth, who had one hundred names, though he is merely remembered as Elef. When he perished from the mind of the world his hundred legs became the father of all centipedes; later, his arms resurfaced, represented in the hundred pose knife dance of a bronze age culture. His eyes gaze through the surveillance state, and it is believed his brains will come online in the near future, as circuits in parallel, sentient once more.

Strange fruit, forbidden, dark and sacred.
Not enough names remembered
A mass grave buried in history.

Wild ghosts waiting for justice.
No longer traumatized.
Seeds scattered.
now woke.

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Those that do not die become something else. That undefined Other. Things of myth and nightmare. Of legend and dream. Good or bad or something in between. Or something unknowable. Impossible to classify by our minds, bound as they are by the conventions of the physical world we inhabit. Some of us may call ourselves strange, and we may label some things strange, but these are strange gods, neither us nor our things.

Some have worshipped these strange gods. They were powerful in ages past, when mankind was just starting to search for meaning, and the things that went bump in the night took on the attributes of gods. Or was it the other way around? The attributes of gods came from the things in the darkness, the things hiding at the very edge of the circle of light cast by the fire.

In our modern times, they have wormed their way into our lives through our own myths and legends. Fiction. Books and movies and theater and tv. There have been those among us who have some connection to the strange gods, who might have had their dreams visited by one of them, or whose dreams perhaps are one of them. Who might have seen a face in a cloud, heard a word whispered at night, seen a crumbling temple in the smoke from a opium pipe.

They have incorporated the things they have seen and heard into what they have written or painted or acted or filmed. Given these aspects of the strange gods strange names to go with their strange attributes.

Nyarlahotep. Chochin-obake. Ogdru Jahad. Nuckelavee. They have been given many names.

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Strange gods, of course, require strange temples. That’s why I’ve come to you, dear financier – to seek your fiscal support in the establishment of a new sacred garden. I have reason to believe you’ve touched, or been touched (for who can say which way the agency flows, when the deterministic and acausal collide?) by these deities. It is written in the symbols that percolate the shadowy organizations you’ve funded, in your unspoken handshakes with Mephistopheles. I’ve seen the face you see on the underside of coins.

We have options. We could buy 400 acres in the mountains. We could buy the city’s abandoned Roman sewer system, and make it a shrine. We could rent space in a local church under the guise of a charity and subvert them with our own icons. I am friends with many architects, architects whose minds have been twisted by these same entities, who desire nothing but the opportunity to construct the spaces which have invaded their minds.

Let us grant them a canvas.

At first the Roman sewer system seemed most tempting. How the tunnels thrum with the ever-echoing skittering of centipedes, how the walls would shift and shimmer with the shiny carapaces of their undulating bodies. Or the tunnels stuffed like sausage casing as the turgid, scaled flesh of once-great gods writhed through the passageways, their size the only majesty left about them. Worshippers would follow the twisting of the pipes, brave and wriggling in the narrowing shafts, until they emerge at the other end of the birthing canals, reimagined to the likeness of our strange gods.

That, however, would be too dull, too obvious a choice. No longer should our gods lurk in the dark, now that the dark has become safe refuge for the ignorant, the hole in which they buried their heads while their bodies are lashed and basted and roasted in a heat so mild at first it swathed them in its loving embrace.

Such underground spaces would be difficult, also, for internet connectivity. We worship old gods, in the modern age.

But tell me of gardens. Tell me of lush, fertile soil and the many-limbed creatures that burrow in its depths. Trees that reach for the skies that have forsaken us. A living, twisting, rotting space.

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If you desire gardens, let me sell you an orchard, a parody of where the world began. Soil so full of life that it pulses, beds of moss that breathe, and decaying fruit swallowed by the earth itself. A shower of peaches like a hailstorm, crushing the skulls of intruders, and enlightening the chosen. Seeds deposited in the heads they knock, new peachtrees growing in abstract, brain-whirl glory, all forking math and algorithms and fractals.

Fountains of hallucinogenic toadstool juice, harvested from rotting mounds of pomegranates. Blood of the mycelium trickling from organic tumuli, electronically pumped into a silicone basin, sprayed through the mouth of a statue of some censored godform.

Instead of snakes in the branches, we will tangle fiber optic cables with the roots.

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Say no more, dear sir, my silver-tongued salesman, my red-eyed tempter, for I am convinced, seduced, and every moment that passes does my longing grow. My feet cannot stay still so that even now they tap in erratic rhythm, wishing the linoleum of your office were the thick grasses so rich with phytoliths that would grate my soles into plush pulp and leech my blood for the soil.

Now it is no longer I that you need to satisfy.

Our Oracle may be found in the dying rays of dusk, sitting upon the barnacle-studded slope of the jetty and staring out at the water so with pollution and oil spills that she can no longer see gods’ eyes reflected upon its surface.

She will croon in a voice as viscous as treacle that should you wake to greet the demons you fought so viciously the night before, the vices you will fight this day again and every day after, then you will prove yourself worthy of respite in the gardens of her gods.

When you have braved the night on her shore and awoken with fine grains of her soft sands lodged in your every pore, then come find me, and I shall deliver you the riches you seek.

One last parting gift, because I am so fond of you, your steel-threaded ardor, the shivery tremble in your hands–Our Oracle has a voice as lush and rich as sap, so noxious and alluring that the bees cannot stay away, would buzz and squirm and tunnel their way in so that you might not here anything again but their low euphoric buzz.

As a teenager filled with off brand teenage immortality and monkey curiosity, I was climbing around in the great innards of the city’s infrastructure. I imagined it a great beast, or a maze. I didn’t know what we’d find at the heart of it.

On the roof of an metro station, the low ceiling made out of the actual rock above us, I found an altar. it was carved out from the isolation of the pipe under it and it had a curious assortment of offerings. Toothbrushes, earrings, Legos, a broken piece of lipstick, a RAM-memory circuit, to name a few.

And above it there was a short text, one of my then friends photographed it but I no longer have a copy or contact with him so you’ll have to rely on my memory. “To the Minotaur of the endless tunnels, add your own sacrifice and receive a boon. Leave without and the curse of the great god of the tunnels will be on you.”
We all made a small sacrifice, I know I know, it’s stupid. But I had a toothbrush in my backpack, don’t ask, and I think we added a keyring as well.

I will never be able to tell you if the last part is true. As we were leaving the place, I looked back, and I think it must have been diodes, shining green far of in that small space on top of the metro station ceiling, but the teenage me, filled with imagination and the creepiness of it all, would swear he saw some green luminous eyes, approaching the altar as we climbed out.