The Horned Axe
'We call upon the Horned-Axe:
who bears two blades;
who permits passage
when passage is to be permitted;
who waits at the threshold.' 
The Horned-Axe is the last of the gods-from-stone, the Hours who existed before humanity and were worshipped by the Carapace Cross. While the rest of them were slain in the Lithomachy, the Horned Axe remains as a liminal guardian of the Threshold. She is an Hour who separates and distinguishes, watching over the boundaries of the Mansus. Her aspects are Knock and Winter. Her hour is 1 p.m.
The Lithomachy: The Horned Axe’s fellow gods-from-stone were all killed in the Lithomachy, when the newer Hours usurped them and humanity forced its way into the Mansus. For whatever reason, the Horned Axe survived.
The Flaying of the Thunderskin: After a time of likely hostility between the Horned Axe and the newer Hours, she came to an agreement with the Ring-Yew and the Red Grail. The Thunderskin, a Name of the Red Grail who loved the Yew, was sacrificed in an act presented as restitution for the deaths of the Horned Axe’s siblings. These Hours became those worshiped by the Sisterhood of the Knot.
The War of the Roads (1450-1580): The Sisterhood of the Knot allied with the Church of the Unconquered Sun to repel the Children of the Leashed Flame, a group of English Long empowered by the Forge of Days. As an Hour of the Sisterhood, it is implied that the Horned Axe took part in the war.
The Intercalate (1582): The priestesses of the Red Grail prophesied the union of the Forge of Days with the Sun-in-Splendour, but those of the Ring-Yew and especially the Horned Axe included their own lamentations and warnings about the event.
- Ghirbi (?): A wounded golden head that rests beside the Stag Door, whose riddle must be answered in order to pass through and be counted among the Know. Ghirbi is a Name, but is not permitted to pass through into the House of the Sun himself. He was among the mortals who shattered the Stag Door during the Lithomachy and became the first Know, and his current circumstances are implied to be punishment for his actions, as he is prone to weeping and wishes he had died in the Wake. As a guardian of a Door involved in the Lithomachy, a common theory is that Ghirbi is in fact a Name of the Horned-Axe conscripted into her services unwillingly, though this is unconfirmed. He is also speculated to be a Name of the Forge of Days due to his molten tears and his door-shattering past.
- The Carapace Cross: The Carapace Cross are the predecessors to humanity, who worshiped the gods-from-stone such as the Horned Axe. They are believed to be extinct, though in truth, “the Carapace-cross did not perish but passed within”.
- The Sisterhood of the Knot: An occult order originating in Phrygia which existed in all the Histories and venerated the Ring-Yew, the Horned Axe and the Red Grail, as well as the Thunderskin. They were a powerful force in several Histories, though they were severely weakened after the War of the Roads.
- The Gods-from-Stone: The other gods-from-stone who died in the Lithomachy are often referred to as the siblings of the Horned Axe, and it is implied that their destruction angered her greatly.
- The Ring-Yew: One of the Hours worshipped alongside the Horned-Axe by the Sisterhood of the Knot. The Thunderskin’s love for her is suggested to be part of the reason for his sacrifice.
- The Thunderskin: The Hour which was sacrificed as restitution for the death of the Horned Axe’s loved ones, and sealed the treaty between the Hours of the Sisterhood. The Thunderskin may have also been intended to fulfill a former duty of the Horned Axe’s sibling, the Wheel.
- The Witch-and-Sister/Sister-and-Witch: The Horned-Axe wars with the Twins, likely because of her nature of division and separation, while the Twins favor union and joining.
- The Red Grail: The Hour which drank the Tide, a sibling of the Horned Axe. To restitute this act and the deaths of the other gods-from-stone, the Red Grail flayed the Thunderskin as part of an agreement between her, the Horned Axe, and the Ring Yew. However, this act also served to help the Grail challenge the Twins and their dominion over the aspect of Heart.
- The Crowned Growth: The Horned Axe, as the guardian of thresholds and boundaries, is said to be one of the old Hours which protects the House from becoming infected by the Crowned Growth.
- The Horned Axe is the oldest living Hour, as the only god-from-stone left.
- The Fane of Owls is a location in Candia-Heraklion where the influence of the Horned Axe is strong, a great hawthorn tree amidst the foothills of Mount Ida.
- A memory of the Horned Axe can be found as part of the Ghoul legacy, hidden in the remains of Lagun, a once-immortal Long.
- The Congregation of St. Felix appears to hold a shrine to the Sisterhood of the Knot, with a feathered ornamental axe in honor of the Horned Axe alongside symbols of the other Hours they worship.
Real World References
- The Horned Axe takes the place of Death in the Tarot of the Hours. The Death card can represent endings, change, and transition. It typically does not suggest physical death, but rather a time of transformation and new beginnings.
- The Horned Axe may have drawn inspiration from a minor Roman deity, Cardea, who presided over door hinges. Ovid connected her to another figure named Carna/Cranae. In Ovid’s Fasti Cranae is a nymph and a huntress that is raped by Janus. Afterwards he gives her whitethorn/hawthorn, which has protective powers and repels evil influences at the entrances to homes. At this hinge or ‘turning point” Cranae transforms from a wilderness spirit to a goddess who guards the thresholds and boundaries of homes. Hawthorn is specified to repel strix, owl-like creatures of ill-omen. Hawthorn is a symbol of the Horned Axe, and her relation with the Traitor Gods and the treaty she came to with them reflects her abuse at the hands of Janus and his attempt to appease her. Her Tarot card also includes in it what appear to be owls, which may in fact be striges.
- The Sisterhood of the Knot reflects elements of triple deity worship, which appears in a variety of religious practices in history. The three Hours that the Sisterhood venerate can specifically be read as representations for the standard female archetypes of the maiden, mother, and crone, with the Horned Axe as the crone, an ancient power with wisdom and knowledge lost to the other Hours.
- Double axe (labrys) was an important symbol in Minoan civilization, associated with female deities and priestesses.
Theories and Questions
- Why the Horned Axe survived the Lithomachy is not explained. Perhaps no Hour came to challenge her place in the Mansus. Perhaps she was too powerful or difficult to kill. Perhaps her role as a guardian of the House was too important to risk removing her, as she is implied to oppose the Crowned Growth and the forces of Nowhere in general.
- Some suggest that the Axe’s Winter aspect came as a result of the Lithomachy, since it is implied that the event changed her in some way, perhaps the grief and memory of the fate which befell her brothers and sisters.
- The Horned Axe apparently dislikes Edge dyads, those who take part in the Corrivality, likely because their immortality is based on a union, in this case two forces struggling eternally against one another, where the Axe prefers things to be separated and distinguished.
- Despite the apparent alliance formed between the Sisterhood Hours, many assume that the Horned Axe still harbors some resentment against the newer gods, and towards the Red Grail in particular for manipulating their treaty to further her own power and influence. After all, having your entire family murdered isn’t something most get over easily.
1. We call upon the Horned-Axe, who bears two blades
We call upon the Horned-Axe, who permits passage when passage is to be permitted
We call upon the Horned-Axe, who waits at the threshold
2. Liminal Evocation
3. Read 'The Songs of the Carapace Cross'
4. Exercise the Mind: A Brighter Illumination
5. Veneration: Winter
6. Both confirmed in Exile by The Horned Axe's Shadow and Divided Soul
7. Read 'A Second Glory'
8. Read 'The Morphy Codex'
9. Read 'Against the Sisterhood of the Knot and the Foulness of their Depraved Customs'
10. Read 'The Vinzant Inscriptions'
11. At the Stag Door, Again, Way: Through the Stag Door, This is Not the Answer, The Stag Door deck
12. On the Smoky Satisfaction..., Enigma compilation
13. The Temple of the Wheel
15. Study 'De Bellis Murorum', by 'Solipsistos'
16. "Around 1890, in the Third History, the Crowned Growth could be perceived through the White Door" "...I thank the Sun for the Horned-Axe, the Black-Flax, and the other older Hours. Without them I wonder whether we might not all be the Growth."
17. Visit the Fane of Owls, Candia-Heraklion
18. Lagun's End, One More Treasure, Long-Flake
19. Liminal Memory, The Colours of the Double Threshold
20. Secret Devotions
21. At the Fane of Owls