ARVINS, SANTHARIAN GOD OF HUNT AND BALANCE

Names - Appearance - Mythology - Lore - Importance
Symbols - Celebrations - Temple Design - Temple Locations

Arvins is the Lord of the Chase, and as such stands for both the Hunter and the Hunted. Arvins, as he is most commonly known, is much loved by the elves, and worshipped by the humans. Closely associated with deer and the forests in which they roam, the Huntlord controls the fate of those who die for food and those who must kill to eat. He also stands for control and stewardship of the natural world (a concept known as Arvins' Balance).

Names. Arvins is also known as Arvin, Huntmaster/lord, the Silent One, the Listening Lord, the Horned One, the Green Prince, Avens, Arven or Arvyn.
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Arvins, God of the Hunt

View picture in full size Picture description: Arvins, the God of the Hunt, listening intensly to the sounds of the woods. Image drawn by Enayla.

Appearance. Arvins is always depicted as taking the appearance of a young male elf (just as Urtengor is always portrayed as Thergerim). The Green Prince, as he is sometimes also called, is usually shown with soft brown skin, and deep golden eyes the shade of oakleaves in fall. Rich golden-brown hair falls around his nude shoulders, interwoven with young green adlemir leaves and delicate herbs. In most modern images, he is sketched or sculpted wearing only a breechclout and soft hunting boots, or with the addition of a fur-trimmed cape. Older versions of the Silent One show a more solid, fur-clad hunter, with solemn eyes under a deep hood. Usually he is shown with a bow, but sometimes a spear or a bronze knife. His quiver is full of hawk-feather trimmed arrows.

One particularly striking image which is doubtless familiar to many Santharians would be the life-size representation painted in fixed tempera in the Great Hall in New-Santhala: Dark, deep eyes framed by strong brows, and full pensive lips, make the Huntlord’s face both masterful and plaintive; a perfect tension between the power of the bow-bearer and the anxiety of the prey. Horns arch from his springing curls, and his head is tilted alertly to one side, listening to the sounds of the woods around him.
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Mythology. Arvins is one of the Twelve Gods or High Spirits (Aeolía) who sprang from the Dream of Avá the Beautiful according to the elven myth as related in the Cárpa'dosía. Together with Queprur (Goddess of Death and Coldness) and Urtengor (God of the Forge and Warmth), Arvins is one of the three Gods dedicated to the Element of Earth. In fact, Arvins stands between the other two Gods of Earth as a sort of mediator between the powers of creation, represented by Urtengor the Forgelord, and the necessity of the transitory, executed by the Goddess of the Scythe. Arvins represents both the joy and power of the hunter, and the terror and pain of the hunted.

The ninth month of the Santharian Calendar, the Month of the Fallen Leaf, (or
Chúh'Querín,, Chúh'Querín, in Styrásh) is dedicated to Arvins. Return to the top

Lore. It is written in the Cárpa'dosía that Arvins was eager to teach the Children of Avá when they gathered under the Life Tree. He wanted to show them how to heed the beauty and balance of nature; how other life must be taken in order to survive and to prosper, but killing must not be enjoyed for killing’s sake. He wanted to tell them about nature and through nature about Avá's forgiveness, goodness and kindness which shines through all living things.

And so it was that Arvins was one of the first of the Gods to change his ethereal shape and take corporeal form. He descended to the earth where he appeared to the Children - some say as a young elf-prince of their own kind, others claim as a golden deer with the Styrásh tongue flowing from its lips as smoothly as birdsong. And indeed, however Arvins appeared, he taught the races many things. In some legends it is even told that the God of the Hunt Himself was the one who created the tool of the bow and gave this wisdom to the elves so that their hunt would succeed. It is still rumoured among the elves that the first to spot the star constellation of the Bow on the first night of the Chúh'querín (
Chúh'Querín,), the Month of the Fallen Leaf, that elf will be blessed with exceptional luck at the whole hunting season.

Arvins has made many personal appearances throughout history: one of the most famous was the Prophecy to Caldar Eywing, given in 963 b.S. (see more details at the Kyranian tribe, History section): A youth who saw a white stag successfully hunted it and ceremoniously offered its blood to Arvins as a way of re-establishing the weak and faltering Kyranian kingdom. The Huntlord then manifested himself and promised the youth kingship and a long reign as long as his people returned to the ways of nature and Arvins' Balance.
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Importance. A number of trades depend upon Arvins' blessing, such as the leatherworkers, butchers, and of course hunters. Lesser well-known is the fact that the Listening Lord is also the God of Fugitives and those who are hunted, or those who swear bloodoath. Amulets of hide and horn are worn by such people to mark them for Arvins and protect them against enemies.

Since obtaining meat from any non-domestic source means hunting it, by definition, Arvins is a popular God in most parts of Caelereth. His favour must rest on the hunters for them to be successful, and as he is also the God of the Prey, much human effort goes into attracting his attention. At all hunting expeditions, whether large or small, triumphant or unsuccessful, the Huntlord is invoked and thanked or placated in similar fashion.

Before the hunt, blood is spilt, in fours. For a young peasant going off into the woods to slaughter game for the table, it may be four drops of blood from his left thumb; for a wealthy merchant out hawking with his peers, it may be four bowls from a slaughtered hunting dog; for the king, it can be as elaborate as the death of four tame red roedeer by silver daggers in each direction of the compass. After the hunt, the quarry is quickly bled and quartered, and the numbles given to the dogs. The heart, lungs, tongue, liver, and other nourishing perishables are usually cooked and eaten on the spot. However, fragments of each organ are carefully carved away and wrapped in a clean leaf, then laid within the edge of the woods. Should the hunt have been completely without kill, then Arvins' pleasure rests not with men, and every person in the party must refrain from hunting or eating wild game for the rest of the month.

A modern sceptic has recently published a pamphlet currently circulating in the cities which claims that this custom arose out of common sense and necessity: if game was so scarce that not even a rabbit was slaughtered, a temporary moratorium on hunting to ensure that the wild reserves would build themselves up again was simply good stewardship. And obviously if no kill had been made, it would be difficult to eat any of it! Also, says this mocker, such a threat would ensure that each hunter in the party made his or her best effort to secure a kill, for the good of everyone. However, this so-called scholar is obviously without either common sense or the blessing of the Gods, and his theories should be disregarded as heretical.
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Symbols. The colors of Arvins are deep green and brown, representing the colors of nature, of life and the woods. Various shades of those two colours are used throughout paintings which depict Arvins. Arvins is the God of hunters, leatherworkers, butchers, woodcarvers, fugitives, anyone under bloodoath, all wild game, archery, and earth instruments (drums and other percussion instruments). He is evoked by the number four, pieces of horn, handclaps, animal blood (usually spilt in four drops or gushes and allowed to soak into the ground), the sound of castanets, bogs, loose stones, pine trees, the scent of musk, fur pelts, fires built out-of-doors, and bronze weapons. The Santhalian Black Hart is sacred to Arvins; in fact, popular wisdom has it that the Listening One set a poisoned curse upon it for its violent ways, and the story is often told to novices in the hunt taverns. Hounds and hawks are also beloved of the God, most particularly those trained in the hunt. Leather, horn, feathers, and fur are all common motifs in pictures of Arvins, and are often used to decorate his shrines or make small amulets.

The symbolic animal of the God of the Hunt is of course the deer, which is also the reason why Arvins is often portrayed with antlers, and elongated half-deer, half-elven ears, listening intently to the sounds of the wood like a young buck expecting a predator. Again, the picture in the New-Santhalian Great Hall is probably the most famous of these portrait types. In tales of Arvins it is sometimes popular to draw him as a kind of cervine centaur; half human, half deer, although in the oldest stories he is seen as a bear-man; a heavy, fur-clad creature with solemn brown eyes full of a deep passion.
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Celebrations. It can't be stressed enough that the God of the Hunt stands for both sides, the hunter and the prey, and that the hunt, in the elven interpretation, is an important act of maintaining the balance of nature, neither to ravage it wastefully nor to let it run uncontrolled. The hunt itself as well as the deer are sacred in the eyes of the elves, and before and after each hunt the elves pray to Arvins in order to receive his blessings. Exceptionally large hunting occasions, for example, the assigning of a new Avá'ránn, are usually also great religious feasts where Arvins can be found worshipped at the center of the celebrations.

For humans, there is usually no regular ceremonial occasion on which Arvins is praised, although it can vary from area to area, and some local customs are not recognized by the religious leaders in larger communities. This is possibly why there are so many variations of the Huntlord’s name...

Also, the Druids of the Arwoods tend to be a law unto themselves, and care little about the theological trends or fashions that frequently pass through larger denominations. Successful hunts can be the impetus for a large celebration (see above, Importance) but it is tied to circumstance, not calendar. Likewise, the crafts and trades which depend on Arvins' bounty make their own prayers, worship, and thanks in their own times. But whether or not it is observed in any way, the fourth day of the Ninth Month (Fallen Leaf) is holy to Arvins, and known as “Awendain” (
Awendain). Return to the top

Temple Design. There are no temple buildings for the Horned One. As a God of the woods and the wilds, enclosed domestic spaces are considered inappropriate to his nature and so do not exist. However, there are instead Arwoods, or Groves of Arvins. Thick copses of adlemir, silverpine, eu’r-oak, cinnabark, larkentir, birch, or other local trees are tended lovingly by a few druids, usually at a good distance from cities or towns. Thin paths outlined with moon-moss and silvery pebbles usually mark the three or four ways into an Arwood, and if one waits patiently within the confines of the grove, with a suitable offering, a druid will eventually appear to listen gravely to one’s request. Return to the top

Temple Locations. Elven sanctuaries of Arvins can only be found within deep forests and are very often hidden in the darkest, seemingly inaccessible parts of the woods in order to provide an unique atmosphere of tranquility and contemplation. It is said by those favored few humans who have been escorted (always at night and blindfold) that the beauty of these sanctuaries almost outweighs the glory of the great elven tree cities or the splendor of the Thaelon in full flower.
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