The Three Mothers

alt: Three Sorrows, Our Ladies of Sorrow, Lachrymarum, Mother of Tears, Our Lady of Tears, Tenebrarum, Mother of Darkness, Our Lady of Darkness, Suspiriorum, Mother of Sighs, Our Lady of Sighs, Helena Markos, The Black Queen

habitat: City

origin: English

Triumvirate of founding witches. Three ancient witches of tremendous power. Mater Lachrymarum is the most beautiful with wild and sleepy eyes. She wears a diadem around her head. Mater Suspiriorum has a heavy head, as if sighing. She wears an old turban and carries a key. Mater Tenebrarum appears as a spectre of death with blazing eyes, and moves with sudden violence.

TRAITS Widespread influence from the shadows / Keepers of great relics / Aspects of Death herself

The Three Mothers Lore

"Let us call them, therefore, Our Ladies of Sorrow. I know them thoroughly, and have walked in all their kingdoms. Three sisters they are, of one mysterious household; and their paths are wide apart; but of their dominion there is no end. Them I saw often conversing with Levana, and sometimes about myself. Do they talk, then? O, no! Mighty phantoms like these disdain the infirmities of language. They may utter voices through the organs of man when they dwell in human hearts, but amongst themselves is no voice nor sound; eternal silence reigns in their kingdoms.

[…] They utter their pleasure not by sounds that perish, or by words that go astray, but by signs in heaven, by changes on earth, by pulses in secret rivers, heraldries painted on darkness, and hieroglyphics written on the tablets of the brain."

– Thomas de Quincey, Suspiria de Profundis

Try to imagine, for a moment, the overwhelming power of witches and mothers. A witch, through her deep connection to nature, her knowledge of alchemy, astrology, and all the earth's secrets, her pact with demons and the Prince of Darkness himself; through these connections the witch gathers power about herself and may weave true magic to carry out her designs.

A mother has an even deeper connection to nature. A mother represents the force of all creation – a powerful agent through which nature expresses herself. A mother is always at the beginning of things. It is common for the witch and the mother to be one. See Baba Yaga for example.

Though the knowledge is almost lost, and their purposes well served by its fading, I am here to tell you of the Mothers who were there at the beginning of all witches. There were three: a triumvirate of ancient sisters who came by the coast of the Black Sea and founded the witches' craft that would bring so much suffering to our world. Some say they are the personification of Death itself.

Since that unholy day, the Three Mothers have spread their influence across every corner of the earth. Working through proxies they have remained out of sight, building their wealth and bringing ruin to the places they visit. Their actions are so cleverly obfuscated that even those who know of them, believe that they are long dead.

They are not.

Mater Lachrymarum, The Mother of Tears

"The eldest of the three is named Mater Lachrymarum, Our Lady of Tears. She it is that night and day raves and moans, calling for vanished faces. […] She it was that stood in Bethlehem on the night when Herod's sword swept its nurseries of Innocents, and the little feet were stiffened forever, which, heard at times as they tottered along floors overhead, woke pulses of love in household hearts that were not unmarked in heaven. Her eyes are sweet and subtle, wild and sleepy, by turns; oftentimes rising to the clouds, oftentimes challenging the heavens. She wears a diadem round her head."

– Thomas de Quincey, Suspiria de Profundis

Mother of Tears illustration Illustration generated by The Oracle. Create your own for free.

The Mother of Tears is the most powerful and beautiful of the three. She can travel by the wind, swiftly moving from place to place, attending those who worship her or those who suffer a sadness of the soul. She sits beside a king showing him images of his stillborn daughter, just as she sits beside a beggar who dreams of the joyful daughter he lost. She carries with her a set of keys that open any lock. Indeed, the eldest sister has the widest influence. Wherever there are grieving men, women, or children, sleepless from suffering, the Mother of Tears intrudes.

One story mentions that she possesses a powerful relic, a red cloak, that could be a key to defeating her. What powers the cloak possesses are unknown. It seems unlikely that this is true. How could a cloak stop the most powerful witch to ever walk? A witch who feeds on grief itself?

Mater Suspiriorum, The Mother of Sighs

"The second sister is called Mater Suspiriorum , Our Lady of Sighs. She never scales the clouds, nor walks abroad upon the winds. She wears no diadem. And her eyes, if they were ever seen, would be neither sweet nor subtle; no man could read their story; they would be found filled with perishing dreams, and with wrecks of forgotten delirium."

– Thomas de Quincey, Suspiria de Profundis

Mother of Sighs illustration Illustration generated by The Oracle. Create your own for free.

The Mother of Sighs does not walk upon the winds challenging the heavens. Her head is forever heavy, drooped towards the ground as she walks. She wears an old turban and sighs constantly. Her sighs are the sighs of the hopeless. Every slave, every meek prisoner, every disgraced bastard and victim - they will hear her sighs.

She carries one key, which she uses infrequently. It is a key that will unbar the way to the elite members of society. Those who appear to us as completely confident, as having every thing a man or woman could ever desire: those people also entertain the Mother of Sighs.

At one point in history, the Mother of Sighs went by the name Helena Markos. Under this name she led a coven inside of a German dance school. A foolish dancer from America, named Suzy, uncovered the truth and confronted her head on. She found a disgusting hag, covered in sores and the protruding limbs of half-formed infants. Markos attacked but was defeated when Suzy stabbed her through the neck.

Markos had been involved in combat with a white witch before her confrontation with Suzy. It was that virtuous foe who had weakened her in battle, leaving her in the hag-like state that would make it possible for a common dancer to defeat her.

The defeat was only temporary of course. For a witch of such power, the corporeal representation of her will is only one aspect. Losing her body is a setback, not a true death. Go for yourself and visit those who have lost the spark of hope. Go and listen closely, and you will still hear the sighs.

Mater Tenebrarum, The Mother of Darkness

But the third sister, who is also the youngest! Hush! whisper whilst we talk of her! Her kingdom is not large, or else no flesh should live; but within that kingdom all power is hers. Her head, turreted like that of Cybèle, rises almost beyond the reach of sight. She droops not; and her eyes rising so high might be hidden by distance. But, being what they are, they cannot be hidden; through the treble veil of crape which she wears, the fierce light of a blazing misery, that rests not for matins or for vespers, for noon of day or noon of night, for ebbing or for flowing tide, may be read from the very ground. She is the defier of God. […] And her name is Mater Tenebrarum, Our Lady of Darkness."

– Thomas de Quincey, Suspiria de Profundis

Mother of Darkness illustration Illustration generated by The Oracle. Create your own for free.

The Mother of Darkness is the youngest and most cruel of the three. Though it is conjectured that the Three Mothers are a personification of Death, never is it so clear as with Mater Tenebrarum. Her psychotic violence can utterly transform her so that she appears before you as the Grim Reaper. She moves forcefully and erratically, like a foreign predator attacking any who suffer a deep schism in their mind or body. When you are stripped down and brought to your worst, when your mind breaks and your body fails you, that is when she comes.

She carries no key for her realm on earth is limited. Whenever a window of opportunity presents itself, she flies towards it – laughing.

Written by Giles Ravensong.

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