Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Xubatu, the Slithering God

I could see down forever and ever, and I recollected all I'd ever heard norrated about the Bottomless Pool. How it was blue as the sky, but with a special light of its own; how no water ran into it, excusing some rain, but it stayed full; how you couldn't measure it, you could let down a sinker till the line broke of its own weight.

Though I couldn't spy the bottom, it wasn't rightly dark down there. Like looking up into the blue sky, I looked down into blue water, and in the blue was a many-colored shine, like deep lights.

-- Manly Wade Wellman, "One Other"

A regional deity with a relatively small number of followers, Xubatu is known as a patient, meditative god of magic, thought, and mystical experiences. He is said to dwell in the Bottomless Pool, a large well which is housed at the center of the Slithering God's temple in Val-Soth. Those who have stared into its depths speak of an iridescent glow which emanates from the dim recesses of that blue lagoon.

Although few outside of the Cult of Xubatu have laid eyes on the Slithering God, depictions of the deity show a massive, sickly yellow snail with a nacreous steel shell covered in thin spines as long as a man's arm. These translucent spines are filled with a silver, opalescent liquid which secretes from the tip, similar to the metallic trail left by Xubatu.

Stretching out around them as far as they could see was a shore of bones, moss-covered and old, with a few whiter and newer additions. They had come upon a graveyard of a strange and horrible kind.

How many generations, how many lives of the world outside, must have been spent to create that vast and moldering wrack of skeletons, not even the inhabitant of the lake could have said.

-- Sterling E. Lanier, The Unforsaken Hiero

The Cult of the Slithering God attracts those who seek power, especially magical might. Members speak of the Maze with the Seven Thousand Crystal Frames through which they must pass to unlock their true psychic potential and, indeed, many a failed magic user has gained great power by joining the cult. Cultists can be identified by their witch's mark, a large, raised lump on their torso from which a network of pulsing red marks crisscross the body. Priests tend to favor spears fashioned to resemble the spines of Xubatu.

Finally, those who would brave the secrets of Xubatu's lair should be warned of foul rumors that circulate about the night-black complex beneath the temple, the majority of which is submerged underwater. It is said that Cultists of the Slithering God never truly die, instead achieving immortality through meditative practice, sitting in eternal contemplation in those still, blue waters. What strange powers these eternal beings possess is unknown, but none as yet have entered that brine-choked underworld and yet lived.

You've got to look into the lake at a certain angle, otherwise you can't see anything. Down on the bottom, among the weeds - stagnant water, everything dead, except . . . There's a city down there, all black spiraling steeples and walls at obtuse angles with the streets. Dead things lying on the streets - they died with the journey through space - they're horrible, hard, shiny, all red and covered with bunches of trumpet-shaped things . . . And right at the center of the city's a transparent trapdoor. Glaaki's under there, pulsing and staring up - I saw the eye-stalks move toward me...

-- Ramsey Campbell, "The Inhabitant of the Lake"

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