‘Tis the reason for the season! Krampusnacht is the other main holiday celebrated in The Secret World, and as usual – like Halloween – it has a darker flavour than the common real-life event. I like the way that the Secret World delves into mythology for inspiration and to flesh out events like these.
Our wisdom flows so sweet. Taste and see.
TRANSMIT – initiate the Saturnalia signal – RECEIVE – initiate the Lord of Misrule cadence – YOU BETTER WATCH OUT – initiate the Feast of Fools – YOU BETTER NOT POUT – initiate the Childermass prerogative – LULLAY, THOUGH LITTLE TINY CHILD, BY-BY, LULLOO LULLAY – initiate the hel-bár complexion – WITNESS – Krampusnacht.
HE SEES YOU WHEN YOU’RE SLEEPING.
Who’s that yonder, all yuletide banes – dragging behind him a sack of chains?
Mistletoe to kiss by. Mistletoe to gouge out the eye. Packages and parcels and red-red wrapping and little hands dismembering it all in joyful sporagmos. We smell him under the rot of the Black Friday dead. Nephew of a snake and a wolf. Go to momma!
HE KNOWS IF YOU’VE BEEN BAD OR GOOD.
Who’s that dancing on the icy roof – stamping on the ramping with a cloven hoof?
“Hra-hra-hra! To all a good night!” Cheeks painted red. His belly writhes like a bowl full of worm jelly – children’s faces press from within distended skin like nervous actors against the theatre curtain. He reeks of sugarplums. When will the Krampus Gate open? When will the Holiday Devil come for the little ones? “When mother freezes over,” he cackles. “Hra-hra-hra!”
YOU BETTER NOT CRY.
Time for all good sweetlings to go to bed. Shall we tell you a bedtime story? This is the story and the story goes… It is a silent night. All black, all white. A man dangles from a roof on a noose of Christmas lights. The jolliest of gallows. He sways. So quiet. So peaceful. Just the crunching of snow. The twinkling glow paints his corpse red and green.
His plastic name tag says: BEN. He has a black eye, a gift from a customer eager to get a steal-of-a-deal on a nifty-keen TV. One side of his face is healthy, the other a ghastly blue. Holiday retail slowly ate his heart, like a sluggish worm in a frozen apple. But a stranger gave Ben a kindness, bought him an eggnog that warmed half his body. The stranger gave no name, just called himself “Granddaddy” and gave Ben a present. A book. The pages contained old names and rites. Ben followed them to the letter, then strung himself up as an ornament.
And so this year, the Krampus Gate is open wider than it should be. Will you close it, sweetling? Will you give the Yuletide Devil chase? We sing, “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Nail the Devil to the post, Thrice I strike with holy crook, One for God, one for Wod, and one for Lok!”
Once upon a time, Beowulf cradled the hairy monster in his hands. Who was he to know that momma was much, much worse? But that was just a retro-echo. Go now, to the nine frozen rivers. Go now, to Niflheim. Go to the mother with horns in her frozen tomb-womb.
Each object sings a syllable of Her true name. The lump of coal is a prelude to fire, reminds Her of father’s displeasure. A bottle of an alcoholic’s frozen piss is haunted by icy regrets and spirits. A pouch of soil, for all of Her subjects who swim in the dirt. The yew branch reminds Her of cemetery trees, rots tickling Her face. The wolf fang reminds Her of brother. Snake skin reminds Her of brother. Corpse maggots remind Her of life living impossibly in the grave, and of dwarfs wriggling in great-great-great-grandfather’s guts. A cadaver’s finger nails remind Her of death and of ships built on their brittle spite. The horns of the Holiday Devil remind Her of son.
And now it is well past bedtime, sweetling. A story then? This is the story and the story goes… A girl is punished by her father. In the beginning of winter, he carries her to a nearby lake and hangs her between two trees. Half of her body is submerged in the freezing water of the lake and half is left in the open air.
Slowly her submerged skin shrivels and blackens. The pain wounds her, tears her soul in two and with the eye that rots on her submerged face, she begins to see the shadows of the world beyond ours. Every touch of death, every ravage of time. On every living thing.
Her father returns and cuts her free. He gives her a drink of something wonderful that warms half her body.
“Father, why was I punished? she asks, quietly.
“Punished? Why you have been been blessed!” Loki said.