Chthonic Magi, paganism and Faerie

Hello all. I've become interested in Chthonic magic and particularly the applications with dark and scary parts of paganism. The description of Chthonic magic states that it is "associated with the gods of the underworld".
This ties in with a game I'm writing which will feature the Cult of Hades, Greek god of the underworld. Now obviously the greek gods are faeries. But chthonic magic is infernal and magic aligned.
So would a temple of Hades, hidden in the bowels of a cave system and maybe featuring a well of Styxian water be faerie aligned (because Hades = pagan god) or infernal aligned (because Hades = underworld god).

At the moment I'm only interested in the "non-infernal" parts of chthonic magic and whether this cult of Hades would find it useful or whether it factor into their ritual sites and temples. Obviously a priest of Hades might find themselves in evil places such as sites of a massacre where infernal vis and auras might be more prevalent and he might see chthonic magic as his god protecting him from that fell influence, but would his temple have an infernal aura or a faerie aura?

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The classical Latin "inferi" refers to the pagan underworld and its gods, not medieval demons, as ArM5 "infernal" does.
Hades as an underworld god is indeed a faerie, not a demon, and need not be "infernal aligned" in the sense of ArM5 at all. If he is also a god of Chtonic magic, this can change!

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Considering how the dark gods were worshiped in ancient societies, which included a number of very non-public rituals it is entirely possible that the dark gods remained magical because their "roles" would not provide much opportunity for faeries to gather vitality. Which probably also served those communities well because the last thing you want is a god of death vying for attention...


There are many places and stories connected to Hades, especially those reputed to lead into the underworld, which provide a lot of occasions for vitality gathering still in the middle ages: see the Cumaean Sybil in the Aeneid, the Lago d'Averno near Pozzuoli, and Enna.

... like abducting Persephone ...

Note however that Persephone was a goddess- faeries tend to enact their stories, and involve mortals in doing so. You hardly want a re-enactment of the Orpheus myth every year or two. Similarly light gods would be fed vitality by the fact that worshiping them was a routine part of people's lives. The dark gods were not- ceremonies were a few people and conducted in secret. Simply appearing in myths is not a method of gathering vitality, it is about involvement in people's lives.

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I agree that we hardly want that, however a faerie Hades just might want it, and would be unlikely to care about what people want.

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Which is part of my point- if Hades is magical rather than faerie it works out much better for the populous, which would be part of why they continue to worship the dark gods in a manner which suggests magical rather than faerie entities.

Actually the change of seasons is enacted by Hades abducting and releasing Persephone.

And the change of seasons is a very important part of people's lives.

Maybe you are better of with Hecate than with Hades for this aspect.


And the ceremonies about changing the seasons are much more about Persephone than Hades. Of course YSMV as always, but realistically Hades plays a very passive role in that story compared to Demeter or Persephone. Furthermore people telling stories about faerie deities would have Persephone as a sympathetic intercessionary for dealing with Hades, and keeping Hades himself as magical would be much better for the population. Additionally since people would be dealing with Hades less and less with Persephone being available Hades is much more likely to stay a magical being- the dark gods being the ones people deal with the least (and thus give the least potential vitality) they are more likely to remain magical.

At least Enna had temples for Persephone and Ceres. But the story doesn't work without Hades - so Hades is due his share of vitality for sure.

Hecate is described as "equally powerful in heaven and hell" and really isn't cthonic in the way Ars Magica uses the term (though she is in a divinatory sense, in that she traverses the realms and can bring information between them) though she can be seen as the crone aspect of a Persephone/Demeter/Hecate triple goddess. IMO Hecate is one of those places where, once again, Ars Magica classifications fail, and there may be both magical and faerie versions of her, though in this case the faerie versions are likely darker than the magical as her reputation darkened with the rise of Christianity.

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In the later classical literature relevant for medieval perception, like the Pharsalia, Hecate is the "rotting goddess" with a "pallid decaying body" dealing with ghosts and demons - so pretty cthonic indeed. Compare RoP:TI p.123f Chtonic Magic.

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Yes, that is the perspective of Hecate in Medieval Christianity, which has a penchant for demonizing the classical gods. It is what the faerie version of Hecate would likely be.
The Hecate which was actually worshiped by The Greeks and Romans was definitely not this. She was as Cthonic as Persephone, able to move between worlds, but not of the darker realms.

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I've had further thoughts.

As a faerie god, I think the Temple of Hades should have a faerie aura.

BUT, as a chthonic god of the underworld, Hades has power in all the dark places of the world, and thus chthonic magic would be appropriate for his cult, to allow them to reap the power of dark places (e.g. infernal auras and vis) without fear.

I don't see him as magical at all. His whole role, ruling over the lands of the dead and the dead themselves, his involvement with mortal heroes, his place in the pantheon of the Greek gods and in Greek society just screams out faerie to me.


The Pharsalia - with its book 6 on Erichto - are not a Christian text, but - just as the Aeneid and the poems of Horace - representative of what was thought of the classical Myths in the times of the Julian emperors.
These texts were available in the middle ages, while our time's research results about Greek cults were obviously not.

The Athenian sanctuary to the Furies/Erinyes
included Hades
The Erinyes being more primordial than the Olympian gods, and definitely interested in human sin. Though I guess could still be faeries...

Yep, the classical Baedeker Pausanias records a place for sacrifice to Hades and other gods at the Athenian cult site of the Eumenids near the court of the Areopag. Those acquitted of murder by the court - like the mythical Orestes - could afterwards sacrifice to the gods most relevant to death.

Tmk Pausanias is not widely read in the middle ages. Were he better known then, as a classical god of death his Hades would make a good faerie in Ars Magica.

This is a decision you can well make for your saga. Letting him have "power in all the dark places of the world" might overtax the generally local power Faeries have in most sagas, though.

I very much agree with this, plus it ties in with the Witches of Thessaly/Daughters of Erychto which are fairly well defined ex Misc traditions.

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