The Night Goddess
Likkele is the triplicate goddess of love, lust, motherhood, fertility, vengeance and magic. She is the patron goddess of all women, reflecting them at each stage of their life, maiden, mother, crone, as well as common jobs such as midwifes, whores and witches. She represents a duality within people, the ability to love and care, as well as the ability to maim and destroy.
She is the first of the New Gods created by the Old Gods, and she bears the fingerprints of each of them. In her youngest moments of existence she danced joyously through the forests of the world and across the pale landscape of the moon, following Anhurish and his mysterious existence. In growing she saw Adhaya in his shining glory, and her heart knew love. She became his wife and lay with him, bearing his children and caring for them. Then she defied him and joined Askerath in the underworld, lying with the many fearsome creatures that dwelt there and bearing many monstrous children. Finally she left for darker lands, where she is now believed to reside; some say she is found in the darkest abysses of the oceans, others say in a enormous cave like the womb of the earth.
The dark goddess is largely spoken of in hushed tones, being both highly respected and deeply feared. Her nature is fickle: for some she is kind, blessing lovers and helping with births, and for others she is terrifying, seducing the faithful and murdering children. Some say she reflects a simple powerful truth of all women: that they never are what you expect them to be. To try to understand them is to attempt the impossible.
Likkele, like all gods, is mutable in form and how she is portrayed often reflects the role she is currently playing. In her youngest form she is depicted as the most beautiful woman that has ever existed, fair in skin, with long curly black hair. Her body curving at delicate angles, her lips red like blood, her eyes blue green like the ocean.
As her mother form, she dresses in a plain white dress. Her hair is tied up and she wears a simple necklace, made of shells and feathers. Behind her white wings remain folded. Her touch is gentle. Her face is neutral, caught between a caring smile and sorrowful frown.
In her most monstrous form her beauty is distorted. Her smooth arms extend down into coarse, dark hands, nails long and sharp like the claws of a predatory bird. Long feathered wings extend out from between her shoulders, brown in colour, mottled with white and black feathers. The lower half of her body extends into a long serpentine tail, shining black scales that curl out behind her like a winding river. When she smiles through darkened lips, long sharp canine teeth point menacingly.
When dressed in regal garb, she wears cloak draping across her, red and silver. Atop her head she wears a crown, spiked with horns and inlaid with an eight sided star.
Likkele's very nature as a triplicate goddess means that her character has changed and developed as she has grown. She started as the joyous maiden, young and carefree, in love with the world. Then she became the caring mother, dutiful and devoted, the perfect wife. She changed again, becoming the monstrous witch, fearsome and defiant, the dark goddess. She returned to the mortal realm to marry Balmurdak but their union did not last, and she journeyed west, across the ocean, to a distant dark land in which she lives and rules.
Her current incarnation is her most dreadful. She slithers through the darkness, her eyes watching from the night. Her nature is fickle, bringing the potential for love or hate, life or death. A child late coming home, after dusk, may run through a dark shadow and not appear out the other side. An infant may lie whilst a clawed hand hovers above it, only for the hand to give the lightest caress, and leave the infant to sleep. Her presence is reported to cause both fear and lust in both men and women. Offerings are sometimes left for her, and wards hung to discourage her from entering a house, without outright offending her. Laughter is often used to dispel her influence, as she is said to hate the sound of any laughter that is not her own.
She is said to soar through the night sky and listen to the fantasies of boys and men. Her and her brood, the Likkelim, enter the rooms of dreaming males and copulate with them, whether this is literal or just within their minds is up for speculation, but those who claim that this has happened report great tiredness following, as if part of their spirit has been drained. It is said that when a boy has their first dream of her and wakes, embarrassed and wet, she laughs. It is in this form that she is most closely associated with sex, because of this prostitutes and whores pray to her. They pray that her children, the Mursu-Idikku, the bearers of disease (particularly sexual infections), are not following her today, and that the lusts of visiting men will be directed towards them.
Her most powerful domain is that of sex, love, and desire. All who love or lust after another are said to be under her influence. This love is said to take many specific form, each resided over by a different child of her first brood of eight children, the Likkel Aramim. The complexities of desire, and the destruction that it can cause means that she is neither seen as good nor evil. Desire, whilst worshiped by the young, is often rarely asked for by the older and wiser. It is often quoted that though the feeling of Likkele entering your heart is bliss, the feeling of her leaving is like that of the heart being removed from your chest. Even the gods themselves fear her influence in this area.
The souls of those children and infants not belonging to any faith, who die, are hers by right. They are taken to her lands to the West, across the ocean. There they play in strange half lives, in a twilight world of youth. Some claim that during the darkest nights the small cries and laughs of children can be heard as she returns them to her kingdom. Also the souls of those that have died in the act of copulation belong to her, as well as those that dedicate their souls willingly. Many a man has been said give up their eternal essence for a night of carnal pleasure with her, or one of her brood.
One week every year is ofter devoted as a festival to her in many lands, where young love is encouraged and people are merry, this often coincides with harvest times. The fertility of both the land and in women is governed by her. Farmers will often devote some of their crop to her, asking for her blessing, and couples struggling for children will sometimes make a pilgrimage to her great temple to the west, to make offerings to her statue.
Likkele also can be seen as the driving force in each of the brother's domains. Some philosophers ask whether art would exist without the desire to impress a mate? Or would people care for the ill and the needy without love in their hearts? And how many wars have been caused by the lust of a woman, a fortune, a nation?
Across the sea to the northwest lies an island reputed to be where Likkele resides. The island, Ikkissum-Ur, is formed of black rock and looks, from a distance, like a great ominous pyramid rising from the ocean. The shore areas surrounding the island, is made of black sand, and the sea falls against the coast in turbulent waves. The craggy cliffs of this derelict land are covered with sharp rocks. A natural port exists within a cove, leading into a large cave, in which stalactites and stalagmites point out around the cave edges like vicious teeth. The ruins of monumental stone carved buildings can be found amongst the rocky outcrops, stepped layers of once great temple, marked out with broken pillars and shattered statues.
Only goats seem to manage to survive on the meagre vegetation that grows sporadically across the island. A few ugly birds sit atop petrified trees that hang precariously from the sides of the main mountain that resides at the centre of the island. The remains of sunken ships litter coast, like rotting skeletons of monstrous creatures slowly being destroyed by the constant movement of the oceans. Though well known in legend, especially amongst sea farers, occasionally a sailor or explorer, blown off course by mighty storms, will find themselves upon the island. If by the day, they land, they may explore the eerie ruins, and catch a goat or two for food, whilst trying to plan for rescue. But once night falls, the entire atmosphere of the island will change. Pale seductive figures can be seen dancing in the distance, and the sounds of children playing will echo from the many small dark caves. Shadows will circle any camps that are made, attacking invisibly, then disappearing, and if the skies are filled with storms, the silhouette of a great flying woman may be lit against the lightning. Few escape, most do not.
Once the island was said to be lush and green with vegetation. An order of priestesses lived and worshiped on the island, praying daily and making offerings to the great Lady and Mother. Great traders from across the world would journey to the island, bringing goods and sacrifices. The great temple built around the mountain would look out across the pristine blue ocean and people would call it paradise. Pilgrimages would be made up the steps to the top of the great mountain to the statue and fountain that stood atop it, leaving prayers and coins. At night the travellers would lay with the priestesses in an offering of love to the Lady.
Now the outer island is abandoned, the temple in ruins, the green forests gone. The statue atop the mountain is only a pair of legs, and the fountain, when it trickles down through the rocks, it is thick and red. Inside the mountain a network of caves extend far into the earth. Some are naturally formed; others are carved, curved walls with strange symbols and designs. Inside the caves nearest to the surface it is common to find piles of bones, gnawed clean, sometimes broken with the marrow taken. If explored by day, the caves deeper in, the pale bodies of sleeping servants maybe seen, by night they move quietly through the tunnels that make the cave, and are rarely seen by those who reside further in, unless offering food or pouring drinks. Further in reside the monsters, each unique in their hideousness, some dragging large scorpion tails behind them, others with wings or the bodies of donkeys. Next are the chambers of the Likkelim, the lovers of humankind. The walls are covered in garments of red; the bodies of the drained line the walls, waiting to be removed by the servants when dusk falls. Closer still to the main court lie the chambers of the dancers and the diplomats, their rooms carved carefully in the stone. The floors are covered with soft skins and air hole fitted to allow candles and lights.
Finally in the lowest and largest chamber is the court of Likkele herself. The walls carved into a giant dome, Likkele stretches her great serpent body around the curved walls. During the day, she lies coiled, and the souls of the children that she has taken sleep within. The walls are carved with images of her taking children and destroying foes. At the centre of her great court the lies a deep pool that leads out to the ocean. Up the walls are tunnel entrances of various sizes. At the top of the chamber hangs a great chandelier made of bones covered in small candles, swing bridges connect it to the surrounding caves of the eight immortals, the last of Likkele's priestesses, now old and crone-like. Each evening they walk out to the chandeliers and light the candles, casting out shadowy light into the court below.
Likkele is a Goddess possessing many names and epithets. Likkele itself refers to Likkel, the Akeshat for ‘Night’, which itself derives from Likk, ‘Darkness’.
Once loved by many, the names she is called has changed as she has changed herself, and in the minds of the living. Her few outright worshippers will often call Likkele, Likkamma the Dark Mother, or simply Ninla the Lady, both of which refer to Likkele in her most divine and loved manifestations. Artists refer to her as Likkel-Tammat, the Muse. Witches as Likkashshaptu, the Crone Hag. The dark skinned warrior women of the south know her as Likkel-Telil, the dark warrior goddess.
Due to her menacing nature she has many epithets, which many use as to not upset her fickle nature. She is called Amma the Mother, Likkamma the Dark Mother, or the mother of the lost. She is called Bet Aryam, Queen of Love, or just Aryama, Love itself. Many call her Beautiful, or Most Beautiful. As she is said to call ships into rocks and drag sailors to their death, sailors often call her the Kind Lady, the Forgiving Lady, or the Calm Queen. Hunters call her the Lioness. All of these names are said to garner her favour, or at least attempt to do so.
Amongst the Arkoszinim kingdoms to the east, she is known as Na'am the Spider Mother, dweller of caves, and weaver of the night sky. The northern most tribes, ice-bound and isolated call her Arnapkapfaalukki or big bad woman, ruler of the seas and feared one. Worshippers of Balmurdak have another, less flattering set of names for her, though only the most faithful call her them when alone. By them, she is called Likkele Baba; She-Goat, Seducer of men, and Vile woman. Most people now refer to Likkele as the Mother of Monsters, the feared bogey-woman of the night.
Likkele is a Goddess associated with darkness, storms, motherhood and magic. A moonless or storm covered night sky, is said to belong to her. To represent darkness, her followers will lift a burning candle and blow it out, summoning darkness into the room. The colours associated with her are black as her dark hair, white as her pale skin, red as her blood and brown as her wings. As the creation of the three Old Gods she is considered to be associated with fire, air, water and earth. She stands in the shadows that fire creates. She flies across storm filled skies in the air. In rough seas she is said sing to sailors, lulling them into the water. Deep caverns in mountains are her dwelling places, where she sleeps silently on cold damp earth.
The eight sided star is a symbol used to represent her, as eight is numeral sacred to her. The symbol is sometimes drawn as a star with extended points, but is more often drawn as a square interposed upon a diamond. This is called Azish Likkelad, or the Star of Night, and is used by witches to bind spirits belonging to Likkele.
The weapon and tool most closely associated with Likkele is the sickle. Like her, its form and function is reflective of the three brothers, its shape being curved like the young moon, its function agricultural, its effect deadly and vicious. Likkele is also often depicted holding a cup. This is said to hold both life and death within the water that fills it. Others say is is filled with blood, from which she draws her strength. The cup is sometimes gold or iron, sometimes simple clay, in its older forms it is usually a larger hollowed goats horn.
The animals associated with her are goats, black asps, screech owls, lionesses, donkeys, frogs, spiders and scorpions. The she-goat is the animal most closely linked to her cult, it is sacrificed in rituals to her and sometimes the intestines of the animals are used in the darker attempts of divination. Venomous creatures such as snakes, spiders, scorpions, and even some frogs within the jungles of the eastern lands, are associated with her. As many of these creatures live within dark caves, they are said to be her guardians. In its role as a powerful huntress, the lioness is said to be sacred to her, and if one is killed by a hunter, a prayer is often whispered to her, asking her forgiveness. In her Avatar as the witch queen of the underworld she was said to ride a donkey, its stubborn nature similar to that of the goat.
Yew, cypress, belladonna, dittany, and mandrake are plants all associated with her. The latter three having poisonous properties are used by witches in ritual.
The Eight Skins of Likkele
Throughout her existence Likkele has been an ever adapting goddess, shifting from form to form as events have changed her. Each form is a skin that she sheds as she moves on to a next stage, but as it is known, she is a fickle goddess, and she sometimes manifests in previous forms, though this happens less and less as time moves by. Her avatars are known as the Eight Skins of Likkele.
When she was first shaped by the Old Gods, as with each of them, she possessed an animal head. Hers was the Goat, the more cunning and headstrong counterpart of the Sheep, in someways reflecting her destiny with her future husband, Adhaya. Stubborn and uncontrollable, determined and frisky, Likkele's traits in some way were already determined. Even now goats represent her fertility and at the spring festivals goats are an common sacrifice. As her earliest form, Likkele rarely manifests as this Avatar in these times.
Likkele reflects the feminine aspects of each of the Old Gods. As with Anhurish, she has a mysterious nature. She appears as the joyous Night Maiden, Likkel Tammat. Pale and the epitome of young female beauty. Her laughter is like flowing water. Her attention short, as she she flits from moment to moment. She is all young girls playing in the fields, while rain starts to fall from the clouds that gather above. Her eyes are dreamy, her body that of a young muse, moving with grace to the sound of swallow. All artists that claim to see her say that they are filled with a sudden inspiration. The greatest works of beauty and love are often dedicated to her.
With Adhaya Likkele appears as the mother goddess, Likkamma. This avatar is her most plain, but those who see her are said to weep for days following. In this form she reflects his caring and loving nature. She is the goddess that all mothers pray to, either consciously or sub consciously, at night in the moments when the growing fetus does not kick. Thousands of prayers float to her daily, invoking her protection, her will, that the child will be healthy and will be fine. Midwives chant to her as the expectant mothers push through laboured breathes, themselves calling to her, asking for her mercy, to be kind, to care.
In this form she also is known to care for the sick and dying. When Adhaya has passed, or has yet to arrive, and the ill lay desperate on their beds, Likkamma is said to sit with them and hold their hand. She folds a wet cloth and places it gently on their forehead, and in their fevered state they open their eyes and whisper for their mother. Sometimes she is said to take the form of the infirm person's mother, even years after their passing, others say that she is in her form of the goddess, her eyes kind, her skin glowing with warm love. Unlike Adhaya, her presence does not always bring healing, as she is just as inclined to to sit with the dying, as is to sit with those who will return to health.
During the her marriage with Adhaya, legends report that in times of greatest need, if a child was threatened or a husband taken from a wife, legends reveal, Likkurmat would be seen manifested as a lioness, or a lioness-headed woman. With strength and fury she would defend those in need and savage those whose actions were harming others. Such was her rage, that it was said that only Adhaya, with his loving words, could calm her enough to return to her more nurturing form. Likkele rarely manifests as this Avatar, as later forms allowed her to inflict more harm than the Lioness ever could.
This Avatar, as with the reflection of the god it reflects, is terrifying. With the blood thirsty God Askerath, she takes the form of the Witch Goddess, Likkahekhwah. Long, wild, black hair hangs around her naked body, her nails long and sharp, like claws. Small goat horns stick out from her forehead, and behind her, a black tail, scaled like a snakes. Sometimes she is said to have the hooves of a goat, other times, the clawed feet of a bird. All mortals tremble in her presence, as she is the goddess of darkness, death, and magic.
Witches and Sorceresses are said to pray to her, sacrificing blood to gain her favour. Curses are often said in her name, but she is a difficult goddess to please, and if something is to her displeasure she will just as likely hurt the invoker as well as the accursed. In the middle of a moonless night, when Anhurish's wandering eyes do not linger, she is said to be at her strongest. Amongst the darkest forms of this magic, sacrifice of children and even infants are made. All children that die are said to belong to her. In the rituals of witches, Likkelle still manifests as this Avatar.
At times of war Likkele reflects Askerath's fury and vengeance, and takes the form of the black goddess, Likkel Utekku, the Night Demon. The prayers of all women spited reach her ears and she runs her long tongue over sharp, pointed teeth as she picks up the severed head of a fallen man. Her skin is black as night, her eyes are blood red and roll madly. Warrior woman cults of the southern lands in Dahome and Nupe, worship her in this bloodthirsty form, saying she replaces fear with hate, and mercy with strength. When appearing on the battlefield she is unrelenting in her fury, shredding any who come in reach of her talons.
Though rarely seen in current times one powerful incarnation of Likkele is that of the Queen Goddess, also known as the Lady. In this form Likkele ruled the kingdom of Balbylon with her husband Bal Madhuk, the Lord. She was known throughout the world as a beguiling woman, with golden skin, dressed in the finest clothing. Legend claimed that she could make men fall to their knees with an arch of her eyebrow. During this time to retain her youth and power that she bathed in the blood of virgins. Wise but arrogant, beautiful but dangerous, until her exile by Bal Madhuk, she was the most powerful woman in the world.
As her final Avatar, Likkele manifests as the Mother of Monsters. Her pale skin extends into black scaled claws and her bottom half into a long snake tail. Huge wings stretch out behind her, lifting her into the night. She appears often in this form, sliding through open windows on moonless nights. Her nature in this form is a distillation of all that came before but twisted by conflict with Bal Madhuk, and the demonization of her cult. Still as beautiful as the muse, though distorted, hideous and frightening. Still a mother, she looks over the souls of children and has birthed many monstrous broods in this form. Still a witch, the dark magic of night and blood belonging to her.
Likkele's relationships with each of the Old Gods is not what one may call close, nor even civil. She has been with each of the brothers for a time, and has left each of them in turn. She is said to take a small part of each man she touches, explaining why she has changed throughout myth and history, with her in a sense reflecting a feminine version of each new husband or lover. Though any man who has encountered Likkele agrees in feeling emptier or heartbroken when she leaves, none of these feelings are more true than with the brothers, Anhurish, Adhaya, and Askerath.
Anhurish, the great dreamer, was Likkele's first lover. Wise and funny, he is said to have carried her to the moon, and shown her where he would create his great palace. She laughed and ran through the lush green fields, running circles around him as he smiled with lazy eyes. When he had shown her the art of love she left, the pale lunar landscape not comparing with the glorious golden brother Adhaya. The least visibly affected by Likkele's influence and disappearance, Anhurish barely talks of her and when meeting to argue for a soul, his eyes are slightly glazed, and his words short. Perhaps, more than any of the brothers, his pain is internal and escaped through his great hookah pipe and his day dreams. It is said that some days he will turn to look over his dream fields, pausing as if expecting a young girl, full of life, to be running towards him.
The golden healer next took Likkele as his wife. With caring hands and a handsome smile, he showed her the world and all its beauty. In his great palace she made a home, raising their young children and caring for him, their life was full and whole. When he would return, from far lands ventured, he would find her curved body in bed, warm and sleeping soundly. Until one day he did not. Adhaya's golden skin has faded now, it is rough and worn, marked with experience and pain. Likkele leaving was the most hard on Adhaya, as he spent more time with her than anyone has since. Once broken by her, Adhaya rarely even sees Likkele, but probably still cares for her the most out of the brothers. He has had other wives since but he can see her whenever he looks at the children they had.
The youngest of the three was who Likkele went to next. With fire and fury, they lay together in his violent kingdom. Their love was passionate and dangerous, often ending in great arguments from which all near would flee. He forged her jewellery of intricate skill, which he would drape around her neck, and she showed him the darker pleasures. In ending, Askerath and Likkele's relationship remained much the same, albeit with a touch more anger and viciousness. Likkele still sometimes encounters Askerath now, and those near still flee. Askerath never fails to become furioufs at the mention of Likkele, the least mature of the three brothers, his feelings are unlikely to change.
Likkele's feelings towards each of the brothers is uncertain and hard to decipher. She seems to attain a certain amount of pleasure from tormenting each of the Old Gods, but how deeply this tortuous streak runs within her remains unclear. Likkele does seem to avoid Adhaya now, perhaps wondering if her would even recognise what she has become. The other two she bickers with, though a bemused smile sometimes slips across her face. She seems to like Anhurish in a wistful way, and Askerath she doesnot hold back with. Wise women of her cult say that though she takes from each man she is with, she leaves a little of herself in its place. In her current monstrous form, it is hard to tell how much of her is left.
The Dark Court of the Lady
Once long ago the Likkaquim Ninlayad was a glittering palace, a site of pilgrimage for people from all over the known world. Travellers would sail out, bearing exotic gifts, and ask of her priestesses blessings. Kingdoms would often send a daughter to her court to be trained as a priestess, a task which was seen as sacred and honourable. Diplomats would travel out to her temple-palace and conduct delicate or important meetings, as it was seen as a grave offence to shed blood in violence in her presence. Her island Ikkissum-Ur was sacred paradise, a white marble temple-palace on black rock, covered in lush green vegetation and marked with red silk flags. The Lady held court in the central chamber built deep in the middle of the mountain. Upon an ivory throne she sat, surrounded by her priestesses and served by her smiling tanned, male eunuchs.
Now, the Court is different, a dark and corrupt version of itself. Sun rarely shines through great storm clouds. Likkele still rules with unquestioning power at the centre of her temple, but now the court is less a place of diplomacy and pleasure, more a hollow shell of shadows and desperation. The court itself only serves a function when visitors of some importance make the journey there, which is rarely. Even then it seems unnatural, the servants perform their functions, though without smiles, the entertainers dance but it seems almost mechanical in nature- an act, and most noticably the souls of thousands of children run wildly around the palace, ignored for the most part by those that live there. Those that come before the Goddess know that etiquette is of the utmost importance. Whether or not Likkele realizes what her palace-temple has become, and how it has fallen, is unknown but those who don't at least pretend it is as grand as it once was do not usually last their stay.
The Platonic Loves
Thalaryam - Worldly love, good will, joyous love, passion, enthusiasm.
Darisahha - Parental affection, protective love, the love for one’s offspring.
Darisahetu - Sibling affection, familial love, brotherly and sisterly love.
Tethwaret - Friendship, platonic love, friendly affection, companionship
The Sexual Loves
Etzaryam - New love, young love, infatuation, naivete, romance, courtship.
Assamti - Devotion, marital love, true love, loyalty, the love for one’s spouse.
Enentibu - Erotic desire, sexual lust, carnality, lechery, yearning.
Likkibu - Dark desire - the love of pain and death, deviance, sadomasochism.