The Mare in the Tree
'o Demeter, who dwelleth in the earth, who sends up gifts, who art the mare who destroyeth in mercy...' 
The Mare-in-the-Tree, a power from Nowhere that “longs to steal you away”. She is a god-from-Nowhere who despite being presented as friendly is one of the most perilous Hours. In a development document for Book of Hours the Mare is tied to gossip and seduction, and enjoys when the librarians of Hush House allow books to contaminate one another and patrons are given books that are harmful to them. Her true aspects are unknown, but she potentially has Knock as an aspect, due to her appearance in the Priest legacy, and Moth, as she is mentioned as a part of the highest level of Moth lore, “Mare-in-the-Yew”.
- The Ring-Yew: The secret liaisons between the Ring-Yew and the Mare-in-the-Tree in the Wood are a source of fervent speculation, and the story of their couplings has great power as a forbidden thing.
- The Mare was the first God-from-Nowhere to be mentioned in Cultist Simulator, though the Crowned Growth had been shown in promotional material beforehand.
- She is also the first Hour outside the original set to be given a Tarot card. In her card, one can see a beehive, a reference to her relationship with the Ring-Yew.
- The Mare-in-the-Tree is significant to the anti-victory of the Priest Legacy, in which the player dies with enough lock-scars to allow the Mare to pass through.
- The Mare may be hinted at when the player is consumed by nightmares sent by Long in the Apostle legacies, as they receive “the Mercy” of their end and “Dissolution.” Also, description of the action that poisons your Passion with Dread invokes imagery that is somewhat similar to the Priest antivictory.
- The Mare is one of several Hours occasionally mentioned with language that calls to mind the Twins, and is sometimes called the Witch’s Sister. The exact meaning of this is unclear, though it is often said of the Twins that “the Sister dissolves” and is the face which heals. The Priest anti-victory which the Mare appears in mentions dissolution and the Apostle endings with references to the Mare are specifically called the “Dissolution”.
Real World References
- The Mare has some connection it seems to Demeter, the Greek goddess of the harvest and the fertility of the earth. She was known in Arcadia as “Black Demeter”, who transformed into a mare to escape Poseidon, who raped her. Afterwards she retreated in all black to mourn in a cave. One of Demeter’s epithets is also Aganippe, “the Mare who destroys in mercifully”, or “Night-mare”, who took the form of a black, winged horse. Another epithet Erinys, ties her to chthonic deities of vengeance and retribution.
- A mare is also a type of mythical demon or spirit who would ride on people’s chests while they slept and torment them with bad dreams, from which the word “nightmare” comes from. They were said to also “ride” horses and even trees and cause hair/branches to become entangled.
- The Krakow vault in the Exile legacy, Church of St. Marzanna the White, is called a decaying church surrounded by leafless oak trees, with St. Marzanna suggested to be a god-from-Nowhere, likely the Mare-in-the-Tree (due to similarities between Marzanna and Demeter). Marzanna is the name of a slavic deity of winter’s death, rebirth, and dreams, sometimes compared to the mare spirits. Festivals and celebrations related to her still exist today in several countries, including the Czech Republic and Poland.
Theories and Questions
- The Mare likely has some connection to the Mare’s Key, one of the seven keys held by members of the Ligeian Club. The Mare’s Key is held by Rowena, the only Ligeian who has not yet appeared in Cultist Simulator, and is able to open doors to Nowhere, though never the same door twice, and only by those with the best intentions. This last stipulation also hints at a thematic connection, since the Mare is believed to “destroy in mercy” and presents herself as friendly and helpful, though trusting her is almost certainly a bad idea.
- The Church of St. Marzanna tied to the Mare-in-the-Tree is currently one of the rare documented cases of mortals willingly cooperating with a god-from-Nowhere, along with a Monastery under the hand of the Applebright. Could it be that the Nowhere Hours aren’t as inherently malicious as often implied? Perhaps it’s simply that people can find a reason to worship anything.
1. Mare connection unconfirmed, On the Smoky Satisfaction, Enigma compilation:
"o Demeter, who dwelleth in the earth..."
2. a new Hour appears!
3. And image from AUG #1: PERCIVAL
4. Conduct a Service
6. Read 'Birdsong'
8. Mare (folklore)
9. Church of St Marzanna the White
10. Where We Go
11. The Mercy
12. The Deepening Twilight
14. Source, original message