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 honour (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 unknown, but it is certainly enormous. Here is a list of most of the gods mentioned in the series to date, describing their roles in the stories.
Gods of DunmanifestinEdit
The major gods live in an Mount Olympus-like mountain-top kingdom in the centre of the Discworld called Dunmanifestin ("Done Manifesting", since most of the Dunmanifestin gods tend to stay at home, mainly limiting their presence in the rest of Discworld to the occasional lightning bolt, as well as a pun on the traditional British house name Dunroamin). This is probably caused by the massive size of Cori Celesti, the mountain upon which Dunmanifestin stands, as this mountain 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. The gods known or likely to be on 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 (Note: 'Aniger' is 'Regina' spelled backwards). Mentioned in Hogfather.
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?" 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: 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 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.
Her name may be a reference to Astoria, Queens, the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, the city of Astoria, Oregon, or to one of the other institutions named after the Astor family.
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 often, 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.
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 lightning 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.
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.
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 everyone 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.
Name derives from "flatus", Latin for breaking wind. This also is a reference to the word flatulence. It is more commonly known as 'farting', 'passing gas', or 'passing wind'
The Ephebian God of Avalanches. Mentioned in Small Gods.
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.
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 emerald green, 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 favorites.
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.
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 person 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.
Formerly the locally worshipped monotheistic and omnipotent God of Borogravia, but elsewhere known as the God of Paperclips, Correct Things in the Right Place in Small Desk Stationery Sets, and Unnecessary Paperwork. He is now dead. For more information on him, see small gods.
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 worshipers. He might be inspired by the Ancient Egyptian crocodile god Sobek. Offler speaks with a lisp because of his crocodile mouth which is not ideal for human language. 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 first 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. Atheists and non-Offlians are suspicious of this claim.
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 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)
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 panupanitoplasty 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. The name may be a pun on the popular misinterpretation of Vomitorium. Could mean vomit.
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 RamtopsEdit
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 HuntedEdit
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 JokesterEdit
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 is mentioned in Mort, Equal Rites and The Last Hero. His name is a wordplay on "hokey" and Loki.
Gods of Skund ForestEdit
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".
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.
His believers began to dwindle as they ceased believing in him and began to believe more in the notion of believing in him until only one remained: A boy named Brutha with a truly remarkable memory. After a harrowing adventure across the disc, Om (trapped in the form of a tortoise for most of the trip) finally regained his believers and Brutha prevented a war.
The creator god of the dwarfs. 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 went into the cave and became a dwarf, the other left the cave and became a man. 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, they don't worship him; he left as soon as he created the world and doesn't demand eternal loyalty or followers. 'Tak does not require us to think of him, only that we think,' a principle exceptionally similar to that of Enlightenment-era Deism. Tak is first mentioned in Thud!.
Some cultures, particularly the non-human races, have their own pantheons of gods completely separate from the main stream of Discworld mythology.
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 god 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.
- 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. 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.
Small gods are a special classification of deity unique to the Discworld, but with analogues in our world, particularly the Graeco-Roman concept of numina. They are the gods of slightly significant places; the hair rising on the back of your neck as you enter a suddenly still glade. They do not manifest as great anthropomorphic titans of the sky but rather, if they are noticed at all, as a simple, faceless presence. There are two very different kinds, by far the most common being those who have yet to accumulate enough human belief to obtain any true power or purpose. There is an almost infinite number of these gods on the Disc; Pratchett compares their hidden ubiquity to that of bacteria in our world. The other, far rarer kind of small god is one that was once worshipped by large numbers of people across a vast area, but is all but forgotten now. Such a god may still have memory of its former days, but its identity will be almost completely lost, even to itself.
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. 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, 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.
A neuralger is a female demon which comes to men in their dreams and has a headache. 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, like Time or Summer or Scrofula, endowed with human form and personality. In the Discworld novels, this phenomenon takes place on Discworld with the effect that anthropomorphism become actual entities which perform the task they personify. The most notable anthropomorphic personification on the Disc is Death, but one exists for practically every concept.
The Old High OnesEdit
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 the old Zen koan "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. It has also been theorised that they are a reference to The Endless from the comic book The Sandman, of whom there are seven (although as one represents two aspects, there are eight in total (And the number 8 carries much more significance in Terry Pratchett's world than the number 7)), and who occupy roles similar to those attributed to The Old High Ones. The Endless were created by Neil Gaiman, with whom Terry Pratchett has collaborated in the past (see Good Omens), and the two frequently reference each others' work.
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. 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's a measure of the life of the entire universe (the Universe hand only goes around once).
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 our 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. 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-Shamaroth.
Moving Pictures, however, also lists a more direct parody of Yog-Sothoth — the "outerdimensional" entity Yob Sodoth, recognisable by his distinctive cry of "Yerwhatyerwhatyerwhat!"
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 tortures his victims to death by showing them pictures of his grandchildren until their brains implode, according to Victor Tugelbend, 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". Throughout the series, there is a recurring mention of a disturbing (but unexplained) incident that happened at Mr. Hong's fish shop on Dagon Street, built on the site of an old temple in Ankh-Morpork. This is a reference to the eponymous fish-god from Lovecraft's short story Dagon.