As the snow-filled winds howl against my windows, icy fingers slipping through crack and crevice to chill me as I lay in the dimly lit living room, I remember stories from my youth, tales of the Yeti, the abominable snowman, even the bumbling snow monster portrayed in that old children’s holiday show we watched very year, huddled together under blankets and stuffed animals. Stories, of course – fictions created around firelight during winters’ dark chill to chase away the boredom and the cold – but like most stories, there is basis in facts, lost to the centuries, more terrifying than any made-up tale of winter horror.
In my studies, seeking Yog Sothoth and his kin, I found other stories speaking of a terrible creature, massive to behold, a god of ice and frost. The Norse tales of Ice Giants may reference this demon, which goes by Wendigo, Wind-Walker, and by the terrible Ithaqua, unspoken for so many generations for fear of the power of the word, the summoning of the old god himself.
Ithaqua – I call it by that old name not out of bravery, but out of respect and yes, fear – has walked the frozen wastes since time immemorial, since the time of the Elder Things and their great wars, since the time even before the great cities were built and sank into the seas. I have seen mention of the great one in ancient books with curled and cracked pages, have seen the name written in latin and lemurian, have seen it’s image staring out of cursed books full of the darkest spells and rituals. I have felt the chill of it’s presence spill out of these books, like it’s very name can call the snows and winds.
We, as a species, are doing terrible things to this planet – there is no shortage of news about changing climate and the decimation of the arctic, with images of huge glaciers shattering and polar bears standing on lone chunks of ice. What if our impact to these frozen regions is displacing more than polar bears and walruses? What if the melting of the polar ice is unlocking other things, things that have lain buried deep, slumbering in eons of ice? What if our arrogance releases things that have not walked this earth since before the time of the dinosaurs, since the world was lush and green and the shoggoths and shantaks roamed, doing their master’s terrible bidding?
So many myths and legends… terrors of ice and snow, spoken about in hushed whispers even today. Some of the wise and the fearful, whose traditions find their origins in the deep arctic, else on the shadowy Plateau of Leng, still leave offerings to Ithaqua, when the blizzard winds howl and the ice shrieks into the black night. According to cursed tomes like the Cultes des Goules and the Liber Sacramentis, in the deepest caves of the North, far from any semblance of civilization, the Gnophkehs still worship great Ithaqua, their blood stained lips calling to it in the frozen wastes.
And even here, among the trappings of ‘civilization’, in grand old Providence, the snow still brings whispers, still brings stories… people still huddle closer to the fire, or light an extra candle as the winds howl and drive the snow into a swirling frenzy. People still see tracks in fresh snow that they cannot, or dare not, understand. People feel things, too – a chill that’s deeper than the air should be, a mournful sound on the wind that seems to come from nowhere, or a shadow against the snow where there is nothing to cast it…