- Name: the Laetha
- Main Epithet: Firebird
- Domain: Destruction
- Placement: Third
- Color: Red
- Symbol: Heart
- Element: Fire
- House: Hark
- Court: Red
- Order: Nix
the Laetha was the first of the Four Gods to reveal herself. She appeared as a giant bird of fire and was immediately marked by her destructive tendencies. She is the god of flame, song, and prophecy, as well as time-travel. It was later revealed/understood that the Laetha is a combination of divine spirits.
Mythically, the Laetha was originally the human Arabella who fell into Western Fairy from the Appalachian Mountain Range. She is accepted into Western Fairy and eventually deified by the Clarene into the Laetha. She is split apart during her apotheosis into a dozen spirits. These became Asier, Alaria, Ava, Alma, Artois, Azure, Arrise, Aletheia and the Firebird. Each of these spirits has their own identities and stories and further origins beyond the original deification of Arabella.
the Laetha exemplifies the Four Gods’ names as titles: all of the divine spirits are referred to by name and title (for example, the Laetha Ava or the Laetha Arabella).
Some of the Laethas can be tied to the Southwestern United States, as well as Appalachia. Other physical connections aren’t well known at the moment.
As the Laetha is a combination of many different spirits, there are dozens of variations in appearance. However, there are consistencies among these ‘mini-gods’.
All Laethas bear teardrop markings known as Gold Marks – three gold teardrops on each cheek. Any Laethic spirit that does not bear these marks is not part of the god or is a pre-deified form of the god. Spirits can be given this mark, but that implies they are undergoing deification and being incorporated into the god.
Another consistency is red hair. A Laetha’s hair, even if almost black, will have a reddish tint. Generally, darker hair and a subdued red tint represent distrust toward other Laethas. The Laethas Alma and Artois both have almost pitch black hair, and both eschew the common values of the Laetha in favor of their own individual desires.
The united form of all Laethas is the Firebird (himself another Laetha). He is a literal bird of flame, containing all colors of a fire except blue. He is large enough to block out the sun and towers over the mountains in the West (where his nest is). There are two distinct variations of the Firebird: the Laethic Firebird, also called Rebellion, and the Mircean Firebird, known as Oppressor. The Laethic Firebird is himself composed of orange and red flames, flying free and unbound. The Mircean Firebird is predominantly white and bears chains around his neck and legs. The Mircean Firebird draws his name from Mircea, the star spirit who is the antagonist and focus in the mythic formation of the first Four Gods.
The appearances of the other Laethas will be linked to as they are available.
Due to the varied nature of the Laethas, a solid temperament for the god is difficult to pin down. Each Laetha deserves their own in-depth exploration, but brief explanations of their typical behavior is described here.
When unified in the Firebird, the Laethas are direct and commanding. This form is the entirety of the Laethas working together, so bickering is also common. All their personalities even out to create one of the most stable temperaments for the god, however. When brought together like this, they are focused on long-term plans.
When just himself, separate from the unified Laethas, the (Laethic) Firebird is noted for a calmness and quiet curiosity. He oversees any deals made with the Laetha and is practically-minded. He can seem apathetic or gruff, but he is a good ally to devotees. He values fairness and keeps the other Laethas from wiggling out of their side of a bargain. The Mircean Firebird, in contrast, screeches in pain and exudes distress and rage. The Mircean Firebird is far more dangerous for devotees to interact with due to his embodiment of Oppression, as well as his tendency to consume others voraciously.
Arabella and Asier are two other Laethas with calmer demeanors. They commonly accompany each other. Having been human, they are sympathetic toward human plights and defensive of their devotees. The two gladly give advice and aid. Normally docile, their ire can be raised when their devotees are threatened. They are perhaps overly ‘sentimental’ toward humans, to the point of poor decision-making.
the Laetha Alaria is the martial form of the god. While associated with warfare, she is an even-keel Laetha. She keeps herself impartial, treating spirit and human equally. Often a voice of reason to her divine siblings, she hesitates to take extreme action until aware of its consequence. She dutifully fulfills her role as the mediator of disagreements. Her aura is one of steel, likely due to her being clad in armor and weaponry, and she does not mind handing down ultimatums.
Paired with Alaria is Artois, a sharp-tongued Laetha who embodies dissent. Hostile to the other Laethas, Artois is disdainful of most anything she comes across. She is sarcastic, a constant critic. She largely acts as a conflicting force within the Laethas. In doing so, she keeps them reigned in and pokes at their soft spots. This opens the god up to growth, but she can also turn her observant eyes to us and cut us down if she sees fit.
The twins Ava and Alma, meanwhile, are a study in opposites.
Alma, the younger, is a traveling healer. Trained in the art by the Clarene and her own intuition, Alma aids all those she encounters. She is the only Laetha to avoid consumption by the Mircean Firebird, earning her the titled ‘untainted’. She is unexpressive and impartial, a boon to her job as a healer. Being oriented toward restoration, she is at odds with the inherently destructive nature of the Laethas. She is often far from the rest of her siblings because of this.
Ava, the elder, embodies that destruction. Ruling atop her gold throne, she gladly bosses all manner of entity about. She is crowned in an opalescent haze, obscuring the heavy red tint she gained from being eaten by the Firebird, and she dresses in white and lace, appearing as a child. She is expert at deception. Frenzy is the most appropriate word for her; one moment glowing praise and the next harsh words and demands. She is domineering to the extreme, frequently insisting others bow to her. Her bloodlust is noted, and depending on the form encountered it may range from random violence to divine retribution. Similar to the Dierne, she can ‘smell’ a ‘foul stench’ on sexual predators and attacks people accordingly. Her relation to devotees is usually hostile and challenging. Her personality shifted drastically after being consumed by the Mircean Firebird. Previously, she had been a healing-type of spirit similar to Alma.
The adult forms of the twins (created when Ava and Alma expelled them in rejection of adulthood), Arrise and Azure, are confident athletic types. Always on each other’s arms, they are cheerful talkative Laethas. Their cockiness is balanced by their gregarious nature. They are eager to share their skills and good teachers. Intensely competitive, they excel at any sport and goal before them. They are also tied to the mech (giant robot) forms of the Laetha, as well as piloting jets. They encourage devotees and often push them to their limits in order to pursue growth and glory.
The last named Laethas are the Aletheia Androids. Each specific android (000 through 099) has hir own purpose influencing their personality. They are mostly blank-faced and impassive. They can be excellent teachers of sigil magic and store huge amounts of information, making them aids to devotees in pursuit of stories or associations. Their temperament can be altered somewhat with programming. One can infer their individual personality and tendencies based on the other spirits they manifest with. For example, Aletheias appearing with Arabella and Asier are often of a more protective bent and work to aid those in danger. Universally, the Aletheias tend toward violence, whether offensive or defensive.
the Laethas are gods of destruction and renewal. This hints at phoenix connections though the Laethas will insist they are Firebirds and make a distinction between the two birds. This may be due to their eternal burning; unlike phoenixes, they do not actually turn to ash themselves. They turn others to ash and then build them up again.
These gods can seem like spirits of chaos. They’re unpredictable and often wild in their violence or benevolence. However, their main role is to tear down. Along with their flower imagery (favoring red flowers, though especially red poppies and amaryllis), they are tied to fungus. They are decay as it sweeps through the forest, as much as they are the wildfire.
the Laethas also fulfill a time-traveling role. They walk upon the River, hinting at the Ophelia’s river of time. When she desires to tamper with the many streams of time and action-reaction, she calls up the Laethas and their spirits to meddle. the Laethas teach this skill to some of their spirits, though the gods are seen as the most masterful of the art. They are also heavily tied with loops, an unfortunate result of ill-made wishes or time-altering.
the Laethas are fundamentally transgressive and excessively liminal. Due to originating as a human who turned to god and later being comprised of many spirits ranging in origin, they cross boundaries and borders. Like the Liathane, they exist in some level of tension and conflict with the rest of the gods and the wider West Fairy as well as some of the values of the Other People. Notably, they lack the emphasis on consent and regularly bulldoze spirits and, likely, humans. Though the other gods usually step in to interfere with breaches in consent as it relates to devotion, the Laethas are often conniving enough to offer deals to individuals they are interested in, presenting almost Faustian pacts. Because of this, they are associated with power exchanges and more advanced energetic manipulation. These practices are vital to not only the spirits of the West (to keep energy flowing in different directions) but also to the West itself.
These gods, tied to the West itself as a landscape, trade some of their energy with the spirits technically living upon their flesh. This is important to note as while the Clarene creates the West, she is not the West itself. That role goes to the Laethas, as Arabella is deified by being buried in the soil of the Clarene’s Orchards. This may tie into the pushy nature of these gods – they assume certain rights due to their connection to the landscape. However, they are equally protective of those who inhabit them. This may manifest in unpleasant ways for all parties involved, though the gods see themselves as aiding their charges. (In a human context this would likely result in one’s life falling apart, notably in the cases of toxic relationships, behaviors, and life choices.)
Similar to the Ophelia, the Laetha is a god of transformation, though their transformation are different in quality and tone than the Ophelia’s. the Ophelia turns humanoid to animal to humanoid or other. the Laethas, meanwhile, often turn humanoid to robotic-humanoid or robotic-other. This is most relevant in the case of the Aletheias. Though the Aletheias are also part of the god, they are an entire line of androids ranging in divinity (anywhere from entirely divine to semi-divine). the Laethas choose individual spirits to be transformed into the androids. With this transformation, the spirit is granted two forms: their original form and their Aletheia body. The energetic changes and, often, gifts that come from the Aletheia body are activated at certain times or for certain purposes. Whether being transformed into an Aletheia is a blessing or a curse can be debated. The robots are notorious for ‘errors’ that often result in self-destruction or hyperviolent behavior.
The transformation of flesh-to-machine reveals the Laethas’ function as a technology god. This accompanies their destruction qualities. To create technology, especially on the level and scope that is associated with this god, involves an incredible amount of resources. Though in the ideal Western Fairy, there is a balance between consumption and sustainability, the Laetha represents a danger. They embody a threat to the sustainability of the West and give us warning toward our own misuse of our resources and planet. This melding of machine and flesh hints at a deeper mystery concerning the abuse and indifference with which we treat our technological devices, eagerly discarding them at their soonest flaw. It is a humanizing of the deeply inhuman, of the human creation that we struggle to accept as possibly ensouled.
the Laetha continues the lessons of duty and structure that are connected to the Clarene and Ophelia. The gods are able to engage in such destruction and wildness because they fall back into a structure with the other gods, even if they are in conflict them. They are not outside the laws and responsibilities of the West, they simply butt against them. Their spirits are incredibly strict in appearance and behavior, and it is likely that any pursuit of a deeper devotional relationship with these gods may require such from humans.
the Laetha is the third of the Four/Four Gods and a challenging force to both the other gods and in our own practice. This means they confront our biases, assumptions, and expectations at almost every opportunity. This is why they are sometimes described as an ‘alien’ god. They are removed in ways from humanity, further even than the fairy-god Clarene and river-spirit Ophelia. (Though it should be noted all of the gods are, obviously, inhuman in many ways and often our perception of their humanness is due to anthropomorphism, even when they originated as humans and became deified.)
Ironically, rituals concerning expulsion and boundaries are given to the Laetha. They are seen as experts in chewing up and tossing out foul behaviors and habits. They also erect boundaries and walls around us when we request. Certain Laethas may do this against their siblings, even, if asked. (The most receptive to such requests are Arabella, Asier, and the Laethic Firebird.) Their rituals and prayers are often of a bartering nature, though. When petitioned for protection they are unlikely to propose shady deals, which should be kept in mind.
Opposite the Ophelia, the Laethas explore heavenly/celestial energies. They are burning to the River God’s drowning. Both are concerned with spiritual plights and emotional roller-coasters. the Laethas are most comparable to mania. Their presence can be described as piercing, lancing us upon their fiery arrows. They incite us to heights of emotion and revelation we wouldn’t otherwise know, and usually we crash back down in a blaze of glory (so it goes). the Laethas crack us open to reveal the light within us, our ideal selves, our dreams, and goals. Often, they do not care if these are painful to gaze at. They want extreme acceptance of ourselves, our demons and our dreams and our lights.
Restraint is coupled with luxury when it comes to the Laetha. Restraint is required of their spirits and they expect proper piety and respect when interacting with humans. They teach us ritual behavior. At the same time, they love the luxury of a well-tended home decorated beautifully. They may turn up their nose at a dirty or haphazard shrine space (though it is likely they would rather have space on one’s shrine than to be absent).
When we struggle with devotion or with duties we wish to uphold, the Laetha is relevant to us. They hold that tension between duty and the many things that can get in the way of that: distractions, other work, insecurity with our devotion, or mental illness that keeps us from engaging how we wish. Our god of contradictions is both firmly duty-bound to the point of extremes yet unafraid to admit when they cannot uphold them, when they need a break or when they have bent under those pressures.
the Laetha is a god that undergoes immolation to be deified, and she causes her devotees to undergo this process spiritually. This can be caused by simply being around the god for extended periods of time. Immolation by the Laetha most often involves a loss of the self or identity. It is also tied to possession, a serious practice within most religions including the Otherfaith.
The loss of identity marks working with the Laetha in more than just her burning associations. This loss of identity does not necessarily mean one joins or unifies with the god, however. Rather, it is a negation of the self. The devotee’s identity is altered and tinkered with and returned. It is a cycle of identity-nothingness-identity. This cycle is quickest and most likely to cause trauma at the beginning of intimate devotion. As devotion continues, the cycle slows and becomes more manageable.
Along with the Ophelia, the Laetha is a ‘Heartmaker’. This god focuses on the negation of emotion, emptying our emotions and minds to then be filled with what we choose. This can cause emotional distress and be taken to dangerous extremes (such as attempting to cut off all emotions all the time, which is not the point of the negation the Laetha teaches). Once the initial emptying has occurred, it is intended that the devotee is better able to regulate themselves.
- Altair (star)
- Aquila (constellation)
- Arizona, USA
- Artificial Intelligence
- Birds (in general)
- Domestic cat
- Fairy hounds (red-ear, white-body)
- Hawk (all)
- Musician (job)
- Pleiades (stars)
- Red Mansion (otherworld locale)
- Saturn (planet)
- the Clarene
- the Dierne
- Alynah Blake
- Mary Anne
- White Mare
- Althea Altair
- Alynah Blake
- Aster Aira
- the Ophelia
- Alynah Blake
- All spirits beginning with ‘A’
- Mary Anne
- Neve Winter
- White Mare
- Bloodied One
- Boy of Bones
- Emptied Heart
- Forgetful One
- Hollow One
- Lost Boy
- Many Souled
- Shattered Soul
- Sundered Self
- The Mortal
- West Herself
- White Tree
Thank you for reading. ‘Of the Other People’ is a site dedicated to the Otherfaith, a modern polytheist god religion. We are supported through Patreon and want to give special thanks to our patrons Jack at Drawing Stars and Leithin Cluan at Treasure in Barren Places. If you enjoy the writing here, consider becoming a patron!