- Discworld gods
The Discworld gods are the fictional deities from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series of fantasy novels. The Discworld, being a flat disc supported on the backs of four elephants on top of a giant flying turtle, exists in a region of the universe where reality is somewhat less consistent than it appears in our own, more mundane corner of existence. Because reality on the Disc is so fragile and malleable, belief has a tendency to take on a life of its own, and Gods are far more obvious to the people of the Disc than they appear to us.
Gods are everywhere on the Discworld, a crucial element of the world's peculiar ecology that gives power to belief and demands resolution to any and all narratives. Gods exist in potentia in numbers uncountable, but the moment an event of any note occurs — say, two snails happening to cross at a single point — a god becomes tied to it and begins to manifest in the physical world. Most gods remain small and unknown, but a very few come to the notice of humanity, whose belief then shapes and strengthens them until they gather enough power to join the Disc's vast, unwieldy pantheon.
Gods on the Discworld exist as long as people believe in them and their power grows as their followers increase. This is a philosophy echoing the real-world politics of the power of religion and is most detailed in the novel Small Gods. If people should cease believing in a particular god (say, if the religion becomes more important than faith) the god begins to fade and, eventually, will "die", becoming little more than a faded wispy echo.
Discworld demons are also considered gods, more or less; after all, "believers" does not necessarily mean "worshippers". A thousand people cursing you as an evil djinn has the same effect as a thousand people singing psalms in your honor (in fact, it's probably preferable –- fear tends to be a rather more powerful motivator than love ).
A third category of godlike being on the disc is the "anthropomorphic personification"; a sentient manifestation of a worldly process, such as Death, Time or Chaos whose aspects, though not necessarily powers, are shaped by belief. Beings such as The Old High Ones, the creatures from the Dungeon Dimensions and the Auditors of Reality appear to exist without, and in some cases, despite, the power of human belief.
On the Disc, the power of belief blurs the line between godhood and mortality. Many very human characters, such as Mort, Susan Sto Helit, Lobsang Ludd, Jeremy Clockson, Tiffany Aching, and Pteppic have permanently or momentarily assumed the roles of gods, or at least of anthropomorphic personifications. Tooth Fairies and the History Monks are groups of humans who play godlike roles.
The total number of gods on the Disc is effectively infinite. Of those, the number powerful enough to fully manifest is about 3000, according to The Folklore of Discworld. Here is a list of most of the gods mentioned in the series to date, describing their roles in the stories.
Gods of Dunmanifestin
The major gods live in an Olympus-like mountain-top kingdom in the centre of the Discworld called Dunmanifestin ("Done Manifesting", which is also as a pun on the traditional British house name Dunroamin). Most of the major gods tend to stay at home, usually limiting their presence in the rest of Discworld to the occasional lightning bolt. Cori Celesti, the mountain upon which Dunmanifestin stands, can be seen from anywhere on the Disc on a clear day, and has likely made lasting impressions on most of the original myth-creators. Those gods known (or likely) to reside in Dunmanifestin are:
The lightning goddess of the beTrobi people. Mentioned in The Colour of Magic.
Aniger is a minor goddess of squashed animals. She is a relatively recent addition to the Discworld pantheon, appearing only after some developments relating to the speed of carts and quality of roads. Since she is witnessed by thinking "Oh God, what was that I hit?", she may be an Oh God(dess), much like Bilious is. She is mentioned in Hogfather and The Last Hero.
The minor goddess of Things That Stick in Drawers, Anoia is praised by rattling a drawer and crying "How can it close on the damned thing but not open with it? Who bought this? Do we ever use it?" As she says, sooner or later every curse is a prayer. She also eats corkscrews and is responsible for Things Down The Backs of Sofas, and is considering moving into stuck zips. The Maccalariat family of Ankh-Morpork have been Anoians for five generations. She is not part of the number of gods praised at the Temple of Small Gods, but instead has a freelance priestess who also serves for various other minor deities. Thud! refers to a painting of Anoia Rising From The Cutlery (probably a parody of the iconic Venus Rising From the Sea).
She was previously a volcano goddess, possibly under the name Lela. Anoia (and Lela) are first mentioned in Going Postal. She appears in Wintersmith as a tired, skinny woman wearing a bedsheet and smoking a cigarette that sparks like a volcano (she began smoking when the Storm God kept raining on her lava). On a whim, Moist von Lipwig named her as one of the gods responsible for his "miraculous" recovery of a large sum of buried money that he had in fact himself buried: since belief is what empowers Discworld gods, she benefited tremendously from the resulting surge of believers. As of Making Money her religion has seen something of a revival, and now she is making a move into becoming the Goddess of Hopeless Causes.
"Anoia" sounds like a Greek word meaning "mindlessness", but contains an obvious allusion to the verb "to annoy".
The Ephebian Goddess of Love, held in extremely low regard by the god Om and sister to the goddess Patina. She bribed Rhome of Ephebe to steal and hide the Golden Falchion, in return she gave Elenor of Tsort to Rhome; This story is a parody of the beginning of the Trojan War; the Golden Falchion is the Golden Apple, Elenor of Tsort is Helen of Troy, and Rhome is Paris (they are both names of European cities). Mentioned in Small Gods and Discworld Noir.
The God of Wine and Things on Sticks. He appears as a large, overly-merry man in a toga. In Tsort he is also known as Smimto, and Tuvelpit in Ephebe. He never gets a hangover (those are part of Bilious' portfolio), but he does get the unpleasant side-effects when Bilious takes a hangover cure. The effects of this link, should either ever drink time-reversed alcohol such as vul-nut wine, is undiscovered. His name literally means "one who drinks".
The "Oh God of Hangovers," who gets all of the bad effects of drinking even though he has never touched a drop. He has a supreme dislike of people who drink heavily, especially if they don't appear to suffer from a hangover the next day; understandably so, since the reason that they have not, in fact, suffered a hangover, is because he has suffered it instead.
He appears in "Hogfather," where he decides to drop his duties as the Oh God of Hangovers and become holiday relief for other gods. He also begins dating one of the many Tooth Fairies and still exists because of her belief in him.
Blind Io is the current king of the gods. He is seemingly an amalgam of Odin and Zeus, with elements of Thor — seen primarily in his use of a number of different hammers (seventy, actually, as detailed by Om in Small Gods). He is completely blind in the traditional sense but instead has countless eyes, which seem to have a mind of their own, orbiting his head. He was eventually compelled to get rid of his raven messengers because of their species' instinctual desire for devouring eyeballs. He lives in Dunmanifestin where he and the other gods play games with the lives of mortals.
Besides the hammers he also, apparently, uses a "double-handled axe", or at least has one as a symbol. This is probably a reference to the double-headed axe used by Zeus.
Blind Io is a thunder god. Actually, Io is the only thunder god on the Disc. He goes by many names and appearances to make sure he keeps the optimal amount of followers. This is not really unfair because all the other gods use the same trick.
He also has an apparent monopoly on the natural phenomenon of thunder, as detailed by Om in Small Gods, who stated that lightning was allowed for common use by all deities but thunder was strictly regulated. Later on in the same book, Om stormed into Cori Celesti, and when Io got up to see who was at the door, Om broke his nose, and told him to 'take his face away, while he still had some left'.
The high priest of Blind Io in Ankh-Morpork is, as stated in the book Reaper Man, Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully's brother Hughnon Ridcully. Much like his brother, Hughnon is the leader of all of the Ankh-Morpork religious denominations by dint of constant vigilance.
The Discworld Companion claims that he is not native to the Disc, but was forced to leave another reality in undisclosed circumstances.
The name Blind Io probably comes from the Blind Yeo river in North Somerset, but may also be a joke on the Bingo phrase "Blind 10". It also could come from the moon Io, a significant moon of Jupiter named after a nymph from Greek mythology.
The Goddess of Misunderstandings. This little known goddess was the cause of the Tsortean Wars; not, as most people believe, Elenor. Understandably not the most liked goddess, Errata wasn't invited to many weddings, one of which was Peloria and Theta's. She was not pleased, and so devised a plan for revenge. She had Neoldian forge a golden falchion with "For the Strongest" engraved on it. This caused a fight between almost 80 different war gods. Luckily Neoldian had also engraved "Batteries Not Included" on the falchion, which fortunately for Errata, caused an argument between Patina, who thought the sword was a subtly observed metaphor for the hopelessness of existence, and Cephut, who thought it was a big knife. In the end it became so heated that Astoria bribed Rhome of Tsort to steal and hide the falchion just to shut her sister up. In return, Astoria gave Elenor to Rhome and the resulting extramarital confusion blew up into the Tsortean Wars. The whole story is a parody of the Trojan War, even to the point of having people being ignorant of her role in the matter, much as Helen's role in the Trojan War is well known, but Eris' (who is not invited to a wedding, and crashes it with a golden apple saying "for the fairest", causing the female Goddesses to fight over it) is not. Mentioned in Discworld Noir.
One of the Discworld's most implacable gods, and very difficult to understand. He looks like a pleasant, middle-aged man, but his eyes are starry voids. It is possible (although difficult) to bargain with him, but proverbially impossible to cheat him, although this has been done at least once. (When Cohen the Barbarian rolled a 7 on a six-sided die by cleaving it in half in midair.) He is known to play games against The Lady using mortals as pawns, and always plays to win. His Temple is situated in the Gods' Quarter of Ankh-Morpork. It's a small, heavy, leaden temple, where hollow-eyed and gaunt worshippers meet on dark nights for predestined and fairly pointless rites. He is said to come from a world other than the Disc.
Fedecks is the Messenger of the Gods, the Ephebian version of Hermes. His name is a reference to FedEx. There was previously a golden statue in the Ankh-Morpork Post Office which may have portrayed him. If so, he appears as a radiant figure in a winged hat, winged sandals and a winged fig leaf. He is mentioned in Small Gods and Discworld Noir, and the statue appears in Going Postal.
The Ephebian God of the Winds. He is mentioned in Small Gods and Discworld Noir, and appears in The Last Hero. His name derives from "flatus", Latin for breaking wind. This also is a reference to the word flatulence.
The Ephebian God of Avalanches. Mentioned in Small Gods. Slightly sarcastic, and according to Xeno (a philosopher from Ephebe), 'enjoys a joke as much as the next-man'.
Note that the name 'Foorgol' is the reverse of 'Logroof'.
The Goddess of Topiary, worshipped by the Militant Servitors of Ikebana. Mentioned in Discworld Noir. She is named after the Japanese art of formal flower arranging.
The god of beggars. The Ankh-Morpork Beggars' Guild has a statue of him. Mentioned in Men at Arms.
The Goddess Who Must Not Be Named (also known as the million to one chance). She is constantly opposed to Fate, and she is just as difficult to understand, although where he is implacable, she is capricious. Since everyone believes in her, she does not need to be worshipped, and would regard such a thing as taking her for granted. Her favour instantly disappears if she believes someone is relying on her, or calls her by name (though it is stated in The Colour of Magic that she is attracted to the sound of dice). Attempts to worship her by some members of the Guild of Gamblers led to their deaths within a week - after all, being lucky doesn't necessarily mean having good luck.
Her appearance is hard to determine. After witnessing her in person, Rincewind and Twoflower were not able to agree upon what she had looked like, other than that she "appeared to be beautiful" and had green eyes. Her eyes are her defining feature: no Discworld God can change the nature of their own eyes, and hers are green from edge to edge, without iris or pupil.
When playing games with mortals, The Lady never sacrifices a pawn, and doesn't play to win, but rather plays not to lose. Rincewind, who refuses to believe his continued survival against the odds is anything other than coincidence, is one of her favourites.
Rincewind began to say her name in The Colour of Magic but was cut short; since it began with "L", and in the Audio book version he pronounces "Lu" with a short u, along with all the other aforementioned clues and traits, it is commonly assumed she is Lady Luck. (This would seem to jibe with a commonly-held superstition among gamblers that if they talk about their luck it will desert them.) Given Pratchett's fondness for setting things in opposition it might also be appropriate to refer to her as "Fortune," the opposite of Fate - he cannot be cheated, but she cannot be beaten. The one time Fate loses a contest with a mortal, it is with Cohen the Barbarian, another of the Lady's special favorites (she uses him as a pawn in an earlier novel) and he almost certainly has her aid in doing it (incidentally, Cohen wins in the same way as The Lady did in The Colour of Magic, rolling a seven on a six-sided dice, although Cohen's means were rather less magical).
The Goddess of the Sea, Apple Pie, Certain Types of Ice Cream and Short Lengths of String. Her name and appearance suggest the Statue of Liberty. She appears in The Last Hero and she may or may not be the same goddess as the Sea Queen, who appears in Small Gods.
The Blacksmith of the Gods. He forged the Golden Falchion and engraved it with the words "For the Strongest - Lagunculae Leydianae Non Accedunt" (Batteries Not Included). He also repaired Leonard of Quirm's 'Kite', enabling it to return safely back to Ankh-Morpork. A parody of Hephaestus. He is mentioned in Discworld Noir and appears (but is not named) in The Last Hero.
Offler is a crocodile god originating from Klatch and is worshipped in most hot lands with great rivers, and even other parts of the Discworld where the people have never even seen any crocodiles. He is described as having developed a greater degree of common sense than the other gods in his long existence, leading him to take a more pragmatic approach to most problems than others do, such as limiting his list of Abominations to a few undesirable foods so as to attract more worshippers. He might be inspired by the Ancient Egyptian crocodile god Sobek.
Offler is given as an example to the series premise that belief, which creates gods, is a reflection of people. Thus Offler rather uncreatively resembles a human with a crocodile's head, which forces him to speak with a lisp. He is attended by sacred birds, who give him news from across the Disc, and also clean his teeth.
His followers are called Offlians, and the second month of the Discworld calendar, Offle, is also named after him. The traditional sacrifice to Offler when praying is composed mainly of sausages, (this is almost certainly a reference to a crocodile's snatching away string after string of sausages in the traditional Punch and Judy show). The sausages are fried, allowing the "true sausagidity" to ascend to Offler by means of smell, while the clergy eat the "earthly shell" of the sausages, which the clergy claim taste like ash, as Offler has eaten their essence (Moist von Lipwig commented that this could be the reason that frying sausages always smell more appetising than they actually taste). Atheists and non-Offlians are suspicious of this claim.
Despite his traditional moderate behavior, Offler was described as 'trigger-happy' by a priest when he struck the golem, Dorfl, with lightning after the golem doubted the gods (a lightning bolt almost struck the priest as well, but as he was the head priest of Blind Io the lightning was averted and hit the ground harmlessly a few feet away).
The Ephebian Goddess of Wisdom, a portmanteau of Pallas and Athena, as well as a play on the word patina. She is shown holding a penguin (this is due to an incompetent sculptor getting a statue wrong), a parody of Athena's owl. She is mentioned in Small Gods, appears in The Last Hero and is the sister of Astoria.
The Goddess of Football, first mentioned in Unseen Academicals, in which a statue of her suddenly appears in the basement of the Ankh Morpork Museum, along with an ancient urn painted with a picture called "The Tackle". It is implied she may have been influencing the events of the book to make modern Ankh-Morpork street football closer to the game played by her worshippers. Her name is a play on "pedestrian", someone who uses their feet.
The Ephebian Goddess of "negotiable affection," worshipped by ladies of the night. Mentioned in Small Gods. Her name appears to be a reference to the words "petulant" and "Petunia". Also wears a dress that by present circumstances is too low and 'skimpy' (translucent).
The god of a country near Omnia where the people believe there are only 51 people in the world, therefore (at least he believes) he has 51 worshippers. Appears to be very stupid, probably because of his country's very simple inhabitants. Resembles a newt. Mentioned in Small Gods. (possible reference to Monty Python - P'tang P'tang Ole Biscuit Barrel, a member of the Silly Party)
The God of Club Musicians. Mentioned in Soul Music.
Possibly a parody of Set. There is a charity school run by the Spiteful Sisters of Seven Handed Sek in Ankh-Morpork. The eleventh month of the Discworld calendar, Sektober, was probably named after him.
The God of Cut Timber who prohibited the practice of panipunitiplasty among his followers, even though in actuality very few of his followers knew what panupanitoplasty was (he didn't have a clue, either, but did it because it worried his worshippers). A minor deity mentioned in several novels, including The Last Hero.
The Goddess of Snow, Saunas and Theatrical Performances for Fewer than 120 People. Her name is probably a parody of the word Eureka, and the Swedish celebrity Ulrika Jonsson. She appears in The Last Hero.
The ancient Ankh-Morporkian goddess of being sick. "To make an offering to Vometia..." means vomiting. Mentioned in The Last Hero as having faded away from lack of worshipers.
Featured in The Discworld Almanak, Wilf is the god of astrology. Few people believe in him or worship him any more, so, in an attempt to keep belief in astrology going, he personally writes the horoscopes for the Almanak every year.
Gods of the Ramtops
The Ramtops are a series of high mountains that, due to their position near the Cori Celesti, lie like a live circuit directly over the point of origin for the Disc's magical field. Reality in the Ramtops is an even more negotiable proposition than for the rest of the Disc. It is not surprising therefore, that gods can also be found there.
Herne the Hunted
The God of Hunted Animals. Herne appears as a small figure with floppy rabbit ears, small horns and a good turn of speed. He has the unfortunate job of being the constantly terrified and apprehensive god of all small furry creatures whose destiny it is to end their lives as a brief, crunchy squeak; it has been said that he arose from the feelings of prey animals during the hunt, whereas other gods of the hunt arose from the passions of the hunters. He is a parody of Herne the Hunter and is mentioned in Wyrd Sisters and appears in Lords and Ladies, where he shows that he may sometimes serve as champion and protector of hunted animals, when he defended a nest of newborn rabbits by distracting the elves torturing them.
Hoki the Jokester
A nature god usually found haunting the deep woods of the Ramtops, in which he manifests himself as an oak tree or a flute playing half-man, half-goat figure. Thought of by many gods and people alike as a bloody nuisance and a bad practical joker, he was eventually banished from Dunmanifestin for pulling the old exploding mistletoe joke on Blind Io. Hoki parodies various characteristics of Loki and Pan and other trickster gods, and is mentioned in Mort, Equal Rites and The Last Hero. His name is a wordplay on "hokey" and Loki.
Gods of Skund Forest
The barely inhabited Forest of Skund is also home to a surprisingly large number of gods, probably due to its high level of residual magic. Why this should be is unclear, though since (at least according to Count Casanunda) it is also home to a certain Queen Agantia, there might be more to it than initially apparent.
This Druidic Goddess fancies drinking mead from a silver bowl in the company of young virgins, among other things. The Druids of Skund Forest celebrate the Rebirth of the Moon (a ceremony dating back thousands of years) by sacrificing a young virgin to the Moon Goddess. The virgin, dressed in a ceremonial white robe and golden torc, is led by a precession of trumpets and percussion instruments to a large and flat stone altar, situated in the centre of a circle of standing stones, where she is summarily sacrificed, using a knife. Mentioned in The Light Fantastic, when Rincewind, Twoflower, and Genghiz Cohen the Barbarian save the sacrificial virgin, who then complains of "eight years of staying home Saturday nights down the drain".
She may be the same as the Mother Goddess who, according to Pyramids, is worshipped by some believers in her aspect as the Moon (and by others in her aspect as a big fat woman.)
In the depth of Skund Forest he is referred to as the Spirit of the Smoke. Local tribesmen believe you must first see Skelde before you can become a shaman. Mentioned in The Light Fantastic.
A spirit known to the shamans of Skund Forest as Topaxci; the God of the Red Mushroom. Elsewhere he is known as Topaxi; the God of Certain Mushrooms, Great Ideas that you Forgot to Write Down and Will Never Remember Again, and of People who Tell Other People that 'Dog' is 'God' Spelt Backwards and Think that this is in Some Way Revelatory.
In the depth of Skund Forest he is referred to as the Soul of the Forest. Local tribesmen believe you must first see Umcherrel before you can become a Spirit Master. Mentioned in The Light Fantastic.
These gods are still widely believed in, but no longer openly manifest or play an obvious role in mortal affairs.
The Great God Om is an omnipotent, omnipresent (only within the boundaries of the Omnian church) god in the country of Omnia. His temple resides in Kom, presumably the capital, and his followers are known as Omnians. Unlike the major gods, who exist within a pantheon, Om is a monotheistic deity whose followers insist that he is the one and only true God. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Omnians also insisted, up until a hundred years ago, that the world is a sphere. Omnianism is the most oft-mentioned religion in the Discworld series.
The desert country of Omnia is a theocracy on the Klatchian continent, ruled by the Cenobiarch. At the time of Small Gods (a hundred years previous to the time explored by other Discworld novels according to Thief of Time), the Cenobiarch was a very old man, and the country was actually ruled by his advisors, chiefly Vorbis, a character who is believed to be based on Ximenes de Cisneros. A major factor in Omnian affairs at this time was that very few people actually believed in Om himself, only in the clerical hierarchy and in the superficial trappings of religion.
Because of this lack of belief — the "food" of the Discworld gods — Om had virtually no power for most of Small Gods and was trapped in the form of a tortoise. He only vaguely remembered the seven prophets who claimed to have delivered his commandments and precepts, and Brutha, his last believer, had to come to grips with the fact that the Great God Om was, in fact, insulting, arrogant, frivolous by self-admission (when he manifested to one of the prophets, his words had been 'Hey, look what I can do!' and nothing more), and not nearly as knowing, powerful, or present as Brutha had been raised to whole-heartedly believe. Om was also selfish and in some regards, amoral. Difficulties also arose because Om would immediately recognize other gods, even tell Brutha some gossip about them, but the Omnian religion put to death anyone who suggested other gods existed. The god at first cared for Brutha only because Om's own survival depended on Brutha's belief, but eventually grew to the realization that individual people are worth fighting for and agreed with Brutha that there would be no commandments unless Om adhered to them as well.
Although no one in Omnia at the time of Small Gods actually believed in Om himself, they all believed in his clergy; in particular the Quisition, and in particular what the Quisition did to unbelievers. What the Quisition (consisting of the Inquisition and the Exquisition, or people who can say "exquisite" with a straight face) largely did was torture people, as evidenced by their unofficial motto, "Cuius testiculos habes, habeas cardia et cerebellum," which Pratchett loosely translates as "When you have their full attention in your grasp, their hearts and minds will follow." (The line is a reference to a quote attributed to Richard Nixon counsel, Charles Colson). It is also attested by their use of the Torquus Simiae Maleficarum ("The Monkey Wrench of Witches"; a reference to the real-world Malleus Maleficarum or "The Witches Hammer"). The Book of Om says that witches shall not be allowed to live, although this may be a mistranslation since it also says that they may be caught in traps of treacle. This has led some to believe the word may in fact be cockroaches. A theory has also been advanced suggesting that, in a later passage stating they bring lascivious dreams, the word might actually be translated as "boiled lobsters." This is a parody of the controversy surrounding the translation of verse 22:18 in the book of Exodus. The verse is rendered as "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" in the KJV; but the word translated as "witch" is sometimes claimed to actually mean "poisoner".
The reason for Omnianism's previous intolerance was not that Om was an intolerant god, but because he was largely an indifferent one. After spending some time trapped in the shape of a tortoise in Small Gods, his perspective was changed, and he allowed Brutha to turn Omnianism into one of the Discworld's more moderate religions, although they still insist Om is the only real god, or at least the only god worth worshipping. Om now refuses to manifest directly and demands that his followers develop their own theology and ethics based on faith in his existence and his last few commandments, redacting the former Omnian creeds into a simple code of nonviolence and moral uprightness. Omnianism now demands that Om triumph over competing gods not through military force but in the "marketplace of ideas". The church has thus become more evangelical in its methods, and its followers can be seen going from door to door to convert unbelievers. Omnianism is consequently proving popular, because a god that doesn't actually do anything is somewhat comforting. Owing to Brutha's allowance of opposing viewpoints, the church also schisms every couple of weeks.
Many modern Omnians are given names like "Smite-The-Unbeliever-With-Cunning-Arguments", "Visit-The-Infidel-With-Explanatory-Pamphlets" and "Mightily-Praiseworthy-Are-Ye-Who-Exalteth-Om". This in contrast to older Omnians, who were given bloodier names. The names parody Puritan "hortatory names" like "O-Be-Joyful", "Fear-the-Lord", "Job-Raked-Out-of-the-Ashes", and "If-Jesus-Had-Not-Died-For-Thee-Thou-Hadst-Been-Damned" Barbon. The ancestor of Samuel Vimes, Suffer-Not-Injustice, is also named in the Puritan manner, based as he is on real-world Puritan Oliver Cromwell.
Omnianism as a whole is Pratchett's parody of the less admirable aspects of Christianity, such as the Inquisition, and later intrusive doorstep evangelism. It also may resemble aspects of Islam in some of its political structures and cultural trappings. Such treatments can be seen as ambivalent, however; one of the more sympathetic characters in the Discworld is Mightily Oats, from Carpe Jugulum. He is an Omnian priest who has begun to doubt his faith due to Om's putative absence and the bloodless, seemingly pointless nature of his commandments, and secretly longs for the old "fire" of the bloodthirsty Omnian prophets. Mightily Oats' conversations with Granny Weatherwax constitute a dissection of the social and psychological role of modern liberal Christianity, and ends with Mightily Oats finding some measure of faith in the nature of his faith itself and of "holiness", if not in his faith's tenets per se.
Interestingly, Mightily Oats loses his "holy tortoise of Om", a holy symbol — based on the form Om took in his long sojourn as a tortoise (replacing the "holy horns" of Om's previous incarnation as a mighty bull), as well as the metal tortoise that the prophet Brutha was sentenced to death upon, an allusion to Jesus on the Cross — and to replace it Jason Ogg makes him an amulet of a double-headed axe to symbolize his moment of true faith, when he managed to slay a vampire with an ordinary hatchet that his faith transformed into a holy weapon. Probably intentionally, the symbol of a "double-headed axe" has often been one way of referring to the symbol of the Cross, though it is clearly more like a Labrys — that said it may well be intended to allow for both readings.
In Monstrous Regiment, Vimes refers to Om as a "very popular" god, in part due to the fact he "imposed very few abominations and no special clothing, and was rather loose on prayers".
The creator god of the dwarfs, first mentioned in Thud!.. The dwarvish creation myth states that Tak first "wrote himself", then "wrote the Laws," then "wrote the World", then wrote a cave and a geode. The geode hatched and from it emerged two brothers. One left the cave and saw the sky; he was the first Man and he was enlightened. The other went deeper into the cave; he was the first Dwarf, and he was endarkened. Here earlier forms of the myth differ from later forms; in the earlier version, Tak notices that the geode is striving to become alive, and as reward for the service it had given, makes it into the first troll; in a later, reedited version (written by dwarfs as propaganda), the geode comes alive of its own accord and was left to wander the world without purpose.
Though the dwarfs believe in Tak as a creator, dwarves are not religious; Tak left as soon as he created the world and doesn't demand eternal loyalty or followers. One dwarf - Grag Bashfull Bashfullson - gives a Deistic summation that "Tak does not require us to think of him, only that we think."
Some cultures, particularly the non-human races, have their own pantheons of gods completely separate from the main stream of Discworld mythology.
Most of Djelibeybi's gods were likely to have been invented by the High Priest Dios. Paradoxically, many of them exclusively perform the same godly duties, with a large number claiming functions such as supremacy over the other gods and the right to push the sun. When they temporarily manifested in Pyramids (while Djelibeybi was temporarily in its own set of dimensions), they spent most of their time fighting each other or tormenting humans for fun. They include:
- Bast - The cat-headed God of Things Left on the Doorstep or Half-digested Under the Bed. The name is shared with the historical Egyptian cat-goddess more typically known as Bast, but Discworld's Bast is a male while real-world Egyptian Bast is a female. Terry Pratchett has also mentioned Bast with regard to his theory of cat-naming in The Unadulterated Cat; that a cat's name is for shouting, and should be short, sharp and sound somewhat like invective. He is mentioned in Pyramids and appears in The Last Hero, making him the only god seen to continue to exist after Dios disappeared.
- Bin - The Supreme God.
- Bunu - The goat-headed God of Goats.
- Cephnet- The god of Cutlery
- Chefet - The dog-headed God of Metalwork. He carries a hammer and is known as the maker of rings and the weaver of metal.
- Cephut - The God of Cutlery. At the wedding of Peloria and Theta, Cephut started an argument with Patina over the Golden Falchion. Mentioned in Pyramids and Discworld Noir.
- Dhek - The Supreme God.
- Fon - The Supreme God.
- Fhez - The crocodile-headed God of the Lower Djel. An animosity is shared between him and Tzut.
- Gil - The Sun God.
- Hast - The Supreme God.
- Hat - The vulture-headed God of Unexpected Guests.
- Herpetine Triskeles - The sole ruler of the world of the dead, possibly based on Hermes Trismegistus.
- Jeht - The Boatman of the Solar Orb.
- Juf - The cobra-headed God of Papyrus.
- Ket - The ibis-headed God of Justice, probably based on Thoth.
- Khefin - The Two-Faced God of Gateways, perhaps inspired by Janus. The last known High Priest of Khefin was the bald-headed Hoot Koomi, who served during the Year of the Cobra.
- Nept - The Night Sky Goddess whose blue naked body stretches over the heavens, possibly based on Nut.
- Nesh - The Goddess of the Sun and blower of the spinning blue soap bubble which is the sky. The secret rituals of the Smoking Mirror hold that the sun was in fact merely a round hole in the soap bubble which opened into the fiery real world beyond, and that the stars were the holes that the rain came through.
- Net - The Supreme God.
- Orexis-Nupt - The sole ruler of the world of the dead.
- Ptooie - The Supreme God.
- Put - The lion-headed God of Justice. He is often depicted holding a pair of scales.
- Sarduk - The Goddess of Caves. One of the older goddesses, whose female worshippers are known to "get up to no good" in sacred groves.
- Sessifet - The naked blue Goddess of the Afternoon, also appears in The Last Hero and Discworld Noir.
- Set - The Supreme God.
- Silar - The catfish-headed God who alone rules the world of the dead.
- Sot - The Supreme God.
- Syncope - The sole ruler of the world of the dead.
- Scrab - A giant dung beetle known as the Pusher of the Ball of the Sun.
- Teg - The easily amused horse-headed God of Agriculture.
- Thrrp - The Charioteer of the Sun.
- Tzut - The snake-headed God of the Upper Djel. An animosity is shared between him and Fhez.
- What - This Sky Goddess was believed to eat the sun every evening, but save and plant one pip in time to grow a fresh sun for the next day.
- Vut - The bad smelling, 70-foot (21 m) tall, dog-headed God of the Evening.
- Yay - Whose eye is the sun, toiling across the sky in his endless search for his toenails.
- The Djelibeybians also recognize Blind Io as the Supreme God.
The Voodoo religion of Genua has a wide range of minor gods, or loas; the voodoo practitioners understand where gods come from and can feed small gods intentionally. Amongst those mentioned in Witches Abroad are:
- Hotaloga Andrews
- Lady Bon Anna
- Master Safe Way - The Discworld version of Mait' Carrefour, god of the crossroads, and a play on the Carrefour and Safeway supermarket chains.
- Stride Wide Man
- By the end of the book Baron Saturday (named after Baron Samedi) may also have gained local divinity.
- Chondrodite - Troll god of love. Causes trolls to fall in love by hitting them on the head with a rock. Mentioned in Moving Pictures. The name is a composite of Chondrite, a stoney meteorite, and Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love.
- Gigalith - Bestows wisdom on trolls by hitting them on the head with a rock. Mentioned in Moving Pictures. The name may be a play on Ganesh, or perhaps Gilgamesh, as well as the term megalith, or even the computer memory term gigabyte.
- Silicarous - Bestows good fortune on trolls by hitting them on the head with a rock. Mentioned in Moving Pictures.
- Monolith - A mythic troll hero figure of dubious position. A parody of Prometheus, he first wrested the secret of rocks from the gods (the secret being that you can hit someone with one). Even though the famous human Fingers-Mazda (Thief of Fire) is usually credited with being the Disc's first thief, Monolith probably predates him considerably ("Troll gods were hitting one another with clubs ten thousand years before we'd even stopped trying to eat rocks" ~Samuel Vimes, Men at Arms). In Feet of Clay, however, statues of Monolith are referred to as "troll religious statues", indicating that he is also some kind of demigod or similar. (Kaos makes a remark in Thief of Time about how "someone steals fire from the gods, and he becomes a god," so the same thing may have happened with Monolith.) He is also mentioned in Moving Pictures.
Similar to the Jotuns of Norse mythology, the Ice Giants are apparently necessary for the Apocralypse. When this came close to occurring during the events of Sourcery, the Ice Giants, described as huge beings made of ice with tiny, coal-like eyes and riding tame glaciers, hurtled down towards the civilised world. They spoke with a pronounced Nordic accent. Nowadays seemingly redundant, they engage in small conflicts with the Gods on the smallest pretext, currently their refusal to return the lawnmower and not turning their loud music down. While they may be opposed to the Gods of Dunmanifestin, by the Discworld definition, the Ice Giants are nonetheless gods, and are worshipped whenever one of their rather inaccurate effigies (snowmen) are made. Pratchett suggested in The Discworld Companion that they might be a kind of troll.
This article is about the concept of small gods. For the Discworld novel also called Small Gods, see Small Gods (novel).
Small gods are a special classification of deity unique to the fictional Discworld, but with analogues in our world, particularly the Graeco-Roman concept of numina or the Japanese kami. They are the gods of slightly significant places, say the point at which two snails cross. On the Disc, the power and presence of a god waxes and wanes according to the number of believers. A small god therefore is a god without enough believers to manifest in any significant form. There are two very different kinds: those who have yet to accumulate enough believers and those who were once powerful but have been forgotten. Of the former there is an almost infinite number on the Disc; Pratchett compares their hidden ubiquity to that of bacteria in our world. The other may still have memory of its former days, but its identity will be almost completely lost, even to itself.
A god may become small even if it has a large following. It is well established in the novel Small Gods that while many people call themselves Omnians, this has more to do with the participation in the religious institution rather actual direct belief. Therefore, while the following is large, the god Om himself is very small, both in size and power.
A household god on the Discworld is a small god that has a limited number of committed believers, perhaps only one, but nonetheless enough to manifest in a specific visible form. The Unseen University was plagued by a plethora of household gods in Hogfather when a surfeit of belief caused by the Hogfather's absence led to their uncontrolled random generation. It could be argued that the great god Om, having been reduced to just one true believer, was a household god for most of Small Gods.
The city of Ankh-Morpork has a Temple of Small Gods, which provides spiritual solace to those who, while they may accept the idea of a deistic presence in the universe, don't really have a clue what it might be. Its cemetery is the favoured burial ground of the City Watch.
The following is a list of those gods named so far which could be considered small gods or household gods:
Big Rat Underground
The creator god somewhat hazily conjectured by the Clan in The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents. Some of the Clan believe that if a rat has been a good rat, then when the Bone Rat comes, he will take them to the Big Rat, who has a tunnel full of food. Most of the rats who think about this are continually questioning it, so it's not clear if there is enough belief for a god to form. Still, one rat's near-death experience seems to suggest there may be something similar to the Big Rat Underground waiting for the Clan beyond death.
The "Oh God of hangovers". His reason for being is to feel the after-effects of drinking, instead of the god Bibulous (the Discworld's Bacchus). He is one of the characters who appears during the events of Hogfather, due to there being a lot of unused belief floating around.
Thanks to the wizards of the Unseen University Bilious' symptoms are reversed for a time and he is able to help Susan on her quest (and make Bibulous feel thoroughly miserable. After all, everyone knows a good hangover cure has got to involve a lot of humorous shouting, et cetera, and this one was made by wizards; however, since Bilious always receives Bibulous' hangovers, the negative effects of the cure are transferred in the opposite direction). While most of the beings created in Hogfather disappeared at the end, it is possible he remained because of the belief that Violet (a tooth fairy) had in him, in which case he may have begun a relationship with her, and started a career as a temp-worker for gods that want a holiday. Or, alternatively, since it is impossible to die in the Tooth Fairy's Castle, he could still be there as he is unable to vanish from lack of belief.
A "rather liberal" god in the opinion of Constable Visit, "not big on commandments". His followers died out fighting some of the most gruesome wars in the history of the Unnamed Continent. An excerpt from the Cenotine "Book of Truth" was the Chem of the golem Dorfl, until Carrot Ironfoundersson purchased him and set him free by replacing it with the receipt of the purchase.
The goddess Czol was an ancient goddess of Thut before that land sank under the sea some 9,000 years ago. One does not ask about her. Mentioned in Going Postal on a list of things that a messenger can't deal with. She is an ancient form of Mrs. Cake.
The Howondalandish tribe of this Goddess believed that their ancestors resided in the Moon. After a signal from their ancestors (an unusually large flare from the Moon) they were urged to kill anyone who didn't believe in Glipzo. Three years later the tribe was destroyed by a rock falling out of the sky, as a result of a star exploding a billion years before. Mentioned in The Last Hero.
God of Evolution
The paradoxical God of Evolution appears briefly in The Last Continent, where he is found 'sculpting' animals. Since he hasn't figured out reproduction yet, he makes every animal unique.
Although no-one believes in the God of Evolution, he survives thanks to his own strong belief. He does not believe in himself, because he is an atheist, but he believes in what he does. During events detailed in The Last Continent, he briefly takes on Ponder Stibbons as an apprentice, but scares him off when he reveals his most perfect creation to be the cockroach. This may be a reference to the real statement of J. B. S. Haldane that "God must have inordinate fondness of beetles". He subsequently appears in The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch, where he is inadvertently responsible for a lot of confusion. The God of Evolution exists in part to parody the concept of Intelligent Design.
The Goddess of Shoes. She has a small following that gathers in the Temple of Small Gods and worships the Sacred Lace of Hyperopia. Mentioned in Reaper Man and Discworld Noir. Named after the technical term for long-sightedness, and it is possible that she is inspired by the Greek goddess Nike, and the shoes named after her.
The Goddess of Interminable Opera. She is one of the many gods and goddesses recognised in the Temple of Small Gods. Mentioned in Discworld Noir.
Nuggan is the locally worshipped monotheistic and omnipotent God of Borogravia, but elsewhere he is known as the God of Paperclips, Correct Things in the Right Place in Small Desk Stationery Sets, and Unnecessary Paperwork. He usually sports a fussy little moustache.
His holy writ (the Book of Nuggan) is a Living Testament, into which more material is added on a regular basis. All believers regularly add pages to the ring binder Appendices, which then eventually fill with more commandments, usually Abominations unto Nuggan. By the time of Monstrous Regiment, his commandments were becoming rather nonsensical — among his ever-growing list of Abominations were cats, the colour blue, Dwarfs, oysters, mushrooms, chocolate, garlic, babies, cheese, the smell of beets, ears, jigsaw puzzles, crop rotation, shirts with six buttons, and rocks. He is also very opposed to the clacks system, as it interferes with the prayers of the faithful.
His existence is the basis for Monstrous Regiment and he appears in The Last Hero. He is now dead because belief has switched to his abominations, similar to the events leading to Om's weakening in Small Gods.
The God of a Howondalandish tribe which wiped out the nearby N'tuitif tribe at his signal (an unusually large flare from the Moon). Shortly after, this tribe was also wiped out by another tribe who worshipped the goddess Glipzo. Mentioned in The Last Hero.
Thousands of years ago this god was a major competitor against Om. The god now being completely forgotten by humans, only Om recalls the existence of Ur-Gilash. As a small god, he may have been encountered by Om while the tortoise-god was crossing the desert with Brutha. Om and Brutha came across a small god who knew genuine god-speech, which was such a rarity that given the location, Om reasoned that it was once Ur-Gilash himself. Mentioned in Small Gods.
The term "demon" is essentially interchangeable with "god" on the Discworld. It is even possible for some to be both at the same time. Pratchett explains the difference between them as being essentially the same as that between "terrorists" and "freedom fighters".
Astfgl is a Demon Lord, appearing in Eric. At the start of the book he has been made King of Hell, and his modern, go-ahead attitude is driving the other demons to distraction. In particular, Astfgl believes demons should operate Hell and extend themselves to the Discworld by creating such instances of extreme and inescapable boredom that the human brain turns to mush and the condemned soul realizes there are worse things than eternal pain (Particularly since they don't even have bodies any more and hence can't actually feel pain unless they want to). By the end, thanks to the machinations of his more old-fashioned rival Vassenego, he is "promoted" to Life President of Hell, a job that consists of writing "policy statements" while Vassenego rules in his stead.
Imps are tiny demons that perform minor tasks rapidly (similar to Maxwell's demon). A number of Discworld labour-saving devices exist which function by trapping small imps (it is implied that they are made using magic, and in Making Money they are described as a "living spell", but small 'wild' demons have also been used). The most notable is the iconograph, but others include watches (The Colour of Magic, Reaper Man, Thief of Time), food processors (Nanny Ogg's Cookbook), razors (Thud!) and personal "dis-organisers" (Feet of Clay, Jingo, The Truth, Thud!).
The imps in these devices seem not to mind their jobs, although they get sarcastic if overworked or asked to do things outside their purview. They also seem to lack imagination making them (theoretically) more reliable to do things correctly.
A neuralger is a female demon which comes to men in their dreams and has a headache at them. They are usually summoned by mistake, by demonologists who were expecting a succubus. The Neuralger is mentioned in Eric, although a similar concept appears in Pratchett's (non-Discworld) drabble Incubust. From Neuralgia the medical term for a painful disorder of the nerves often resulting in severe headaches.
While being basically a demon of relatively low rank, Quezovercoatl (also known as The Feathered Boa), was the god of Human Sacrifices in the Tezuman Empire's state religion. He appears in Eric and is described as half-man, half-chicken, half-jaguar, half-serpent, half-scorpion and half-mad (a total of three homicidal maniacs). Because his physical form was some six inches tall in real life, he had relied on appearing in visions to guide his followers. Conversion was probably sped by the bloodthirsty nature of his religion and the fact that the Tezumen were at the time worshipping a stick. Eventually he was forced into appearing physically by Astfgl, whereupon he was trampled by The Luggage. After some time spent worshipping the Luggage, to no avail, the Tezumen finally killed off their priests and settled for atheism. His name is a portmanteau of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl and the word "overcoat".
The Great God of the Strict Authorized Ormits. He can usually be found residing in one of the Nether Hells. As of the Year of the Cobra there are only two known worshippers left; a student assassin (Arthur Ludorum) and his mother.
The correct worshipping of Orm seems to consist of sacrificing a goat within a double circle with occult runes, a sprig of herbs and a rope of skulls. It is said that, as a punishment for not worshipping him, Orm comes in the night, winds out your entrails on a stick and sucks out your eyeballs. By the completion of his assassin training, Arthur appears to have become a "lapsed Ormite", having noticed the aforementioned punishment never happened. Mentioned in Pyramids.
An anthropomorphic personification is a natural process endowed with human form and personality. On the Disc, personifications are fully fledged characters whose personalities have evolved beyond their "jobs". The difference between "god" and "anthropomorphic personification" in the Disc's pantheon is unclear; essentially it appears to be that a "god" is a being assigned a wide range of roles and powers by human belief, while personifications embody concepts and things that would exist whether people believed in them or not. However, Anthropomorphic Personifications of the disc would cease to exist if total belief in them stopped. (see The Hogfather.) Belief shapes how a personification manifests, not what it does. There are a number of ambiguities. For example, Death is certainly a personification (since living things die whether or not people believe they do), as are his fellow Apocralyptic (Apocryphally apocalyptic) riders Kaos, War, Pestilence and Famine. However, Fate and The Lady (i.e. Lady Luck), despite personifying concepts, are better thought of as gods, since one has to believe in fate or luck for them to exist.
The Auditors of Reality
See: Undead (Discworld)
The Discworld Creator appears in Eric. He is a little rat-faced man with a put-upon voice made for complaining, who created the Discworld while the main universe was being built, and it was obviously on a budget.
He was not responsible for creating the entire universe, and is somewhat disparaging of it, describing the Big Bang as "showy". After creating the Discworld, he left behind his personal grimoire, the Octavo. This was, apparently, typical absent-mindedness; he says he once created a world and completely forgot the fingles. No-one noticed, because they evolved there and didn't know there should be fingles, but they could tell there was something missing somewhere, and it caused them deep psychological problems.
Rincewind is believed to have had a hand in creating humans on the Discworld, as described in Eric, when he met the Creator and dropped an egg and cress sandwich (with no mayo) that the Creator had brought into being for him, into a rockpool. He believes that this may have kick started evolution, and isn't happy about it (possibly because this was the first good thing to happen to Rincewind, and he wasn't there to see it).
The various aspects of the Creator's act of Creation are remembered vaguely by the spirits of the Octavo, who spend a great deal of time arguing over which event was the true act of Creation. They are described in mythological terms but seem more mundane than they might appear – the Cosmic Egg is described as "rubbery" – and it is only later that we learn how mundane these events appeared when the Creator actually performed them.
It is strongly implied that the Creator's physical appearance is a reference to Terry Pratchett himself, and he is a self-parody of Pratchett's own act of creation in writing the novels.
The Creator of XXXX
The Creator of XXXX is not the same Creator who made the rest of the Disc. As described by "Scrappy" the kangaroo (a manifestation of a Trickster), after the world was made, there was a big space in an ocean with nothing in it, so another Creator added on another continent. Kangaroos are apparently a kind of signature – he includes them in every place he creates (implying that Australia itself was created by him, but also possibly in reference to Australian cartoonist Rolf Harris, who frequently includes "Rolf-aroo" self-caricatures in his work). The Creator is described as being an old aborigine man, with skin as black as space and deep set eyes. He wears just a loin cloth, and carries a spear, a leather sack that contains the universe (according to legend), and a boomerang – described as being a large, heavy, gently curving object that does not return on account of being stuck in the ribcage of what it was thrown at. He doesn't speak unless he has to, and only speaks in a whisper when he does – and the ground rumbles slightly at even that. As described in The Last Continent, he doesn't dare raise his voice in "the shadow world" lest he raise mountains as well.
The Discworld's version of Father Christmas or Santa Claus. He wears a red, fur-lined cloak, and rides a sleigh pulled by four wild boars (or, in modern portrayals, cute pink piggies), Gouger, Rooter, Tusker and Snouter. In earlier times he gave households pork products, and naughty children a bag of bloody bones. Earlier than that, he was a winter god of the death-and-renewal kind. The modern version is a jolly toymaker, with vestiges of the earlier myths (such as his Castle of Bones, a vast palace of ice which has nothing notably bony about it, except for the suggestion of a protruding femur or scapula here and there) still clinging to him.
In the book Hogfather, the Hogfather first appears in the manifestation of a wild boar. Death and his granddaughter Susan manage to save him, in order that the sun might rise in the morning. Without the Hogfather, according to Death, the Discworld would merely be 'ILLUMINATED BY A BALL OF GLOWING GAS.'
The Hogfather is one of a number of beings that hover on the boundary between "god" and "personification", yet probably is best thought of as the latter, since people still receive presents at Hogswatchnight, even if they no longer believe in him. The Hogfather was first mentioned in Reaper Man and dealt with extensively in Hogfather.
The Horsemen of the Apocralypse
Besides Death, the Horsemen of the Apocralypse are War, Famine and Pestilence (and, originally, Kaos). Like Death (and many other anthropomorphic personifications) they have developed beyond their roles. They make a brief appearance in The Light Fantastic and subsequently have more significant roles in Sourcery and Thief of Time. War and his children also make an appearance in Interesting Times.
- War is an overly jolly and enthusiastic man, something like the less sadistic kind of gym teacher, in red armour. He is married to a former Valkyrie, who does his thinking for him, and has lost some interest in war by Thief of Time, although he likes watching ants fight in his garden. They have two sons (Terror and Panic) and one daughter (Clancy). Clancy appears to be about seven years old, and wears a hard hat and a Pony Club badge.
- Famine is, as his name suggests, permanently hungry (or at least, permanently eating, although this may be merely to ensure others go hungry). While he enjoys good food, he also enjoys salad cream sandwiches. Amongst the personality traits he has picked up from humans is arrogance.
- Pestilence's sense of self has led to a sense of self-preservation. Beyond that, his most notable personality trait is an annoyance with soap, although he likes hospitals, which gather sick people together. In early appearances he spoke in italics (representing a voice that sounds contagious), but this was dropped by Thief of Time.
Leaves frosty tracings on icy windows. Can draw anything, but happens to really like fern patterns. Mentioned in Hogfather, when the newly created Verruca Gnome (a household god that went around dispensing foot warts) convinced him to branch out from ferns, feathers, and paisley, and there are references throughout the rest of the book to a window forming a picture such as three puppies looking out of a boot.
Kaos, aka Ronnie Soak
An anthropomorphic personification of Chaos, originally spelled with a "K". The fifth horseman of the Apocralypse who left before they became famous (a play on the fifth Beatle), known for his disruptive behavior whenever the horsemen attempted to interact with mortals, a parody of various stories of temperamental rock stars. Rides a chariot rather than a horse and wields a sword so cold that it has negative heat – it radiates cold, symbolizing in general Kaos' power to reverse entropy and violate laws of probability.
His abandonment of the Four Horsemen coincided with a decreasing sense among humans of the nature of the unpredictable Kaos from which the universe sprang as their world became increasingly civilized. He was persuaded to return to power in a new form by Lu-Tze, one of "his creatures" (an individual naturally defiant of odds and of the way things ought to go), after learning how to exist in a symbiotic rather than hostile relationship with order, and also that the vastly increasing complexity of civilization and laws only made their effects more widespread and unpredictable. In Thief of Time, he changes from the ancient Kaos of old to a slicker, altogether more modern and mathematically complex Chaos (Pratchett uses the butterfly effect and fractals as recurring themes leading up to this). His intervention is decisive in giving the other four horsemen the power to defeat the "overwhelming odds" of the Auditors, for whom he holds a special hatred and whom he refers to as "The Law".
When not heralding the destruction of all that is (or saving it from the Auditors), he runs a very fine dairy, using his super-cold sword (which is so cold that he is considering expanding to ice cream to keep things from getting too cold) and his ability to move outside of time to be able to sell any dairy product in existence (derived from any species' milk, including alligator), perfectly fresh, perfectly cold, and always arriving at precisely 7:00 a.m. simultaneously at every household in the city to sell his wares. Known for being the only person punctual enough to please Jeremy Clockson's preternatural awareness of time.
Old Man Trouble
Comes round your door if you ain't got rhythm and you ain't got music. It's best if you don't mind him. Mentioned in Soul Music, Thief of Time and Hogfather as one of the gods who, having lost his purpose, has truly gone insane. Also mentioned as being in an Anhk-Morpork bar in Feet of Clay. A reference to the George and Ira Gershwin tune "I Got Rhythm".
Presumably the personification of slumber, The Sandman uses bags of sand to put people to sleep, though in Soul Music it is mentioned that he doesn't take the sand out of them, implying that he uses the bags to knock his clients out.
Soul Cake Duck
An analogue of the Easter Bunny, it comes on Soul Cake Tuesday (the Disc's equivalent of Halloween). Soul Cake Tuesday is also the start of the duck-hunting season, which complicates the story somewhat. The first duck to appear on Soul Cake Tuesday is considered very lucky, although this luck clearly doesn't apply to that duck itself. Mentioned in Soul Music and Hogfather, with further details from The Discworld Companion. Soul cakes are a real-world feature of Halloween in some parts of England.
It can also be seen as a reference to Pancake Tuesday in the UK, as it also always falls on a Tuesday, and shredded duck is commonly served in pancakes.
The Summer Lady
The spirit of Summer, she is asleep when the Wintersmith is awake and vice versa; they meet only at the Spring and Autumn Morris dances. She appears towards the end of Wintersmith resembling Tiffany Aching, but says her real form is "the shape of heat on a road, the shape of the smell of apples". She is, at her core, the element of Fire. Her natural home, her "heart", lies in the blasted deserts where all life dies. She speaks in a hiss and has golden, snakelike eyes. She carries a cornucopia, and plants grow where she walks. Like all elementals she does not understand humans, which makes her somewhat petulant when forced to deal with them.
Originally a dark-haired woman who resided in a palace of glass, she had an affair with the founder of the History Monks, Wen the Eternally Surprised, which led to the birth of two sons, or, more accurately, two different versions of the same son. One, Lobsang Ludd, eventually became a History Monk himself under the tutelage of Lu-Tze; the other, Jeremy Clockson, became a brilliant if socially maladjusted clockmaker. The Auditors eventually fooled Jeremy into constructing a truly accurate clock, which halted the passage of time. Able to move outside of time, both "brothers" eventually met and fused, becoming the new personification of Time, allowing history to recommence from where it had left off, and their mother to go on a long honeymoon with Wen. This new personification has been romantically linked with Susan Sto Helit, Death's granddaughter. Appeared in Thief of Time.
Unlike our concept of the Tooth Fairy, the Discworld Tooth Fairy is operated as a franchise. Tooth collection is subcontracted to ordinary young women who walk the streets at night with money, ladders and pliers (the pliers are necessary in case the tooth collector finds herself without the correct change – a second tooth can be taken to balance the books). The Tooth Fairy lives in an unreal place shaped by the idea of a child's painting. The entity that became the Tooth Fairy personification was originally the first bogeyman. The bogeyman's stated purpose in establishing this was to prevent the teeth from falling into the wrong hands, as they could be used to control the children. It seems that centuries of watching children had given it an affection for them, much like Death has for humans. The role is eventually delegated to Banjo Lilywhite by Susan Sto Helit. Appears in Hogfather.
The personification of Winter, he appears in Wintersmith, where he believes he's fallen in love with Tiffany Aching. At his core he is the elemental personification of ice. Originally just a shape in the snow, with two violet eyes, he later formed a "snowman" out of all the elements that make a human body. He creates snowflakes and icebergs, and also the patterns of ice on windows (which may make him the same as Jack Frost, although this does not appear to be the case. Possibly Jack Frost is a subordinate, or an avatar of some kind, or merely formed from the extraneous belief like the Verruca Gnome).
In the novel Hogfather the "demise" of that personification led to the uncontrolled random generation of a number of anthropomorphic personifications as the excess belief that would have normally gone into sustaining the Hogfather sought other outlets. Some, such as Bilious, the Oh God of Hangovers- whose entire role in life was to have the headache while the God of Wine had the party-, appear to have survived the Hogfather's return to power. The fate of the rest is unknown, though they are likely to simply have vanished. These personifications included the Cheerful Fairy, a kind of motivational speaker with a whistle and a tracksuit, the Blue Hen of Happiness, a pun on the "bluebird of happiness" that accompanies the Cheerful Fairy, the Scissor Man (a play on the "great, long, red-legged scissor man" from Shock-Headed Peter), the Hair Loss Fairy and the Eater of Socks, which lives near washing machines and has an elephant's trunk. The Verruca Gnome was created by Mustrum Ridcully when remarking about his own opinion that a gnome to hand out verrucas has just as much probability of existing as a tooth fairy. The first of these personifications to be created was the Glingleglingleglingle Fairy, which makes the jingling sound that occurred whenever one of the new personifications manifested, and thus, as Pratchett notes, could be considered a kind of "meta-personification".
The Old High Ones
These are beings far more powerful than gods (who are, from their point of view, only slightly more troublesome versions of human beings) who control the workings of the multiverse. There are eight of them, according to The Discworld Companion, and they are not worshipped on the Discworld, the general populace being unaware of their existence. They are only very ambiguously referred to in some of the Discworld religions and the most that Discworld scholars have learned is that eight 'entities' exist.
There is no single word that can effectively explain their role, which seems to be to observe in a dynamic way, in order for the observed events to actually be able to happen (think of the old Berkeleian question "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear, does it make a sound?"). It might be simpler to say the multiverse exists because they believe in it.
Virtually nothing is known about their role in Discworld affairs, except that, in prehistory, they substantially reduced the amount of magic on the Discworld and made humans smaller, owing to the strain the Sourcerers were putting on the fabric of reality in their war on the gods and each other.
Death is their servant, and it is likely that The Creator and Time are as well. They are also the apparent employers of The Auditors of Reality, although they seem to ignore the Auditors' recent tendency to break their own rules. Presumably they have their reasons.
They may be derived from the Great Old Ones in the fiction of H. P. Lovecraft.
Only one has been mentioned in the books so far, Azrael. The other seven – if they have names – have not been revealed.
Azrael, also known as the Great Attractor and the Death of Universes, is apparently not a worshipped god on the Discworld, but he exists nonetheless, and is an entity of enormously unthinkable scope and size. While there are many 'Deaths' for different worlds (who are themselves divided into Deaths for different creatures) in the Discworld novels Azrael is their ruler. All other Deaths are aspects of him (a similar relationship as the Discworld Death has to the Death of Rats).
When he appears, it is as a figure so immense as to make a supernova a mere gleam in his eyes and he takes a whole page to say YES. His size suggests that he may, in fact, be the universe itself. He also appears to be the keeper of what is logically the opposite of a clock, in that it tells Time what it is, and not the other way around. Azrael's connection with the personification of Time (currently the combination of Lobsang Ludd and his temporal double Jeremy Clockson) is unknown. Statements of the clock seem to indicate that it is a measure of the life of the entire universe (the Universe hand only goes around once). The clock also bears a minute hand, a millenium hand, and an eon hand.
In the revised version of The Discworld Companion, Azrael is described as one of the Old High Ones.
Azrael clearly has a personality and a concept of mercy like his servant, the Death of the Discworld. He appears in an integral role (although not particularly often) in Reaper Man and overrules the Auditors' wishes, allowing the Discworld Death to carry out his own merciful bending of the rules for a personal case when he agrees to Death's demand Lord, what can the harvest hope for, if not for the care of the Reaper Man?
Although Pratchett never makes the connection explicit, the dark gods of the Necrotelicomnicon are probably creatures from the Dungeon Dimensions that have found a way to survive in the main discworld universe. If that's the case, then they cannot be seen as gods per se, or even as demons, since their existence is not dependent on human belief; nor can they be placed on the same moral spectrum as gods or demons, since, as they are completely lacking in vitality, they are neither good nor evil, but the opposite of both. Rather than being generated by human belief, they instead represent the aspects of reality that are truly unknowable and hostile to the attempts of human belief to shape it into recognizable forms. The names of the Dark Gods are often references to creatures from the Cthulhu Mythos.
Since the "Necronomicon" is sometimes referred to as "The Book of Dead Names" or "The Book of The Dead", "Necrotelicomnicon" could be translated as "The Book of Dead Telephone Numbers" or simply "Phonebook of the Dead". The book is also known as the Liber Paginarum Fulvarum, Latin for "The Book of Yellow Pages". It lists all the old, dark gods of the Discworld (i.e. the Things from the Dungeon Dimensions). The First Edition, kept in the basement of the Library of Unseen University, has been known to eat readers. This is not unusual for library items. It is said that any man who reads more than a few pages will die insane, which works out fine for the Librarian; he is an orangutan and thus, not a "man".
It was written by the Klatchian mystic Achmed the Mad, who apparently preferred to be called Achmed the I Just Get These Headaches, (a parody of H. P. Lovecraft's mad Arab Abdul Alhazred) after drinking too much Klatchian coffee. Achmed is also the author of Achmed The I Just Get These Headache's Book of Humorous Cat Stories, the writing of which was said to have driven him mad in the first place.
Grimoires called Paginarum Fulvarum (Yellow Pages) also appear in Good Omens (co-written by Pratchett and Neil Gaiman) and Gaiman's Sandman comic book. Pratchett calls it a "shared joke", and in the dedication to Equal Rites thanks Gaiman for lending him the last surviving copy of the book.
Bel-Shamharoth is also known as the "Soul-Eater," the "Soul-Render," or the "Sender of Eight." The inner dimensions of his eight-sided temple disobey a fairly basic rule of architecture by being bigger on the inside than on the outside, like many other Discworld buildings. It is quite disgusting, full of tunnels covered with unpleasant carvings and disjointed skeletons, and lit by a violet light almost black. The eight-sided crystals set at intervals shed a rather unpleasant glow that does not light the room, rather emphasizing the darkness. The floor is covered with eight-sided tiles (impossible with regular octagons, which do not tessellate, but possible for some irregular eight-sided figures, and hyperbolic octagons) and the walls slope to create eight-sided corridors. Even the stones can sometimes be seen to have eight sides. All routes lead to the centre, where an intense violet light illuminates a wide room with eight walls and eight passages. In the room, there is a low, eight-sided altar and a huge stone slab, also eight-sided, and slightly tilted. Under that is a black tentacled creature with an enormous eye and thousands of suckers and tentacles and mandibles: Bel-Shamharoth.
The temple is long since abandoned, worship of the Sender of Eight being a decidedly short term prospect. These days he is mostly remembered in the name of the Young Men's Reformed-Cultists-of-the-Ichor-God Bel-Shamharoth Association. His likeness is etched on the cover of the Octavo.
Terry Pratchett is well known for his references to, and parodies of the works of other authors, and indeed Bel-Shamharoth is one such- he bears many similarities to Cthulhu of H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. Yog-Sothoth is another of Lovecraft's entities, who is referred to as "the eater of souls" in Shea and Wilson's Illuminatus!. Also in that work Yog-Sothoth is imprisoned in a castle of five sides, not eight. With these, along with the hyphenated name, one could suggest that Yog-Sothoth is also a partial inspiration for Bel-Shamharoth.
Another, possibly better, source might be the name Shemhamphorasch, one of the alternate Hebrew names of God, which has over the centuries acquired occult significance and was adopted by Anton LaVey for rituals of his Church of Satan.
Moving Pictures, however, also lists a more direct parody of Yog-Sothoth — the "outerdimensional" entity Yob Sodoth, recognisable by his distinctive cry of "Yerwhatyerwhatyerwhat!" The latter is a famous football (soccer) chant, indicating that the opposing fans are barely audible; in this context Yob Sod Off is a more likely derivation. (In England the word 'Yob' is a term for a person of rude and disrespectful behaviour.)
Other Dark Gods mentioned in the series include The Insider — a parody of the Lovecraft short story "The Outsider", and C'hulagen (likely a portmanteau of Cthulhu and hooligan), both of which are mentioned in Equal Rites. The computer game Discworld Noir features a parody of Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos, named Nylonathetep, the Laddering Horror. Tshup Aklathep, Infernal Star Toad with a Million Young, who according to Victor Tugelbend tortures his victims to death by showing them pictures of his grandchildren until their brains implode, could be a reference to Shub-Niggurath, The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young, and possibly also Tsathoggua, often described as "toad-like".
Terry Pratchett's Discworld (Portal) Novels
The Colour of Magic · The Light Fantastic · Equal Rites · Mort · Sourcery · Wyrd Sisters · Pyramids · Guards! Guards! ·
FaustEric · Moving Pictures · Reaper Man · Witches Abroad · Small Gods · Lords and Ladies · Men at Arms · Soul Music · Interesting Times · Maskerade · Feet of Clay · Hogfather · Jingo · The Last Continent · Carpe Jugulum · The Fifth Elephant · The Truth · Thief of Time · The Last Hero · The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents · Night Watch · The Wee Free Men · Monstrous Regiment · A Hat Full of Sky · Going Postal · Thud! · Wintersmith · Making Money · Unseen Academicals · I Shall Wear Midnight · Snuff · Raising Taxes · Scouting for Trolls Short stories Other books
The Discworld Companion · The Science of Discworld · The Science of Discworld II: The Globe · The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch · The Pratchett Portfolio · The Art of Discworld · The Unseen University Challenge · The Wyrdest Link · The Streets of Ankh-Morpork · The Discworld Mapp · A Tourist Guide to Lancre · Death's Domain · Nanny Ogg's Cookbook · The Discworld Almanak · Where's My Cow? · The Unseen University Cut Out Book · The Discworld Diaries · Once More* With Footnotes · The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld · The Folklore of Discworld
Games Films and TV series Characters Races and creatures Locations Organisations Other
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