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|“||A god. Ancient. One of the Jötunn. A bastard offspring of Loki. We do not say its name. We worship it. It keeps us here. Let us live beyond natural life. No more pain. No more death. Your ritual begins tonight. It is a privilege to worship. You will kneel before the god. If not, it will hang you from the trees.||„|
|~ A female cultist about Moder.|
Moder, or also better known as The Creature, is the main antagonist of Adam Nevill's 2011 British novel The Ritual, and its 2017 film adaptation of the same name. It is an obscure demonic Jötunn that inhabits a forest in Northern Sweden and is venerated by an ancient group of cultists.
Judging by its name, people suggest that Moder is based on the HP Lovecraft's creature Shubb-Niggurath. While others suggest that the creature also may be based on another creature of Scandinavian origin known as Sleipnir.
In the 2017 film adaptation, its vocal sound effects were provided by Luke Gentry.
As described by one of the Swedish cultists, Moder is a "bastard son" of the Norse god Loki and is one of the Jötnar, a race of supernatural beings in Norse mythology. It appears as an enormous, elk-like monster with bright yellow eyes, skeletal head antlers and a pair of human-like hands on its head. Moder stalks travelers who enter the forest and "marks" the person who has suffered from emotional pain. That person is given a choice; worship Moder or die at its hands. Those who are not marked by it are tortured and sacrificed.
After centuries, Moder has created a cult of worshippers, made up of missing people who hiked through the forest. The cultists who worship it are given eternal life and are protected by Moder from outsiders. A group of friends, Phil, Hutch, Luke, and Dom, are hiking in northern Sweden in honor of their friend Rob, who was killed during a store robbery. Hutch converses with Luke and decides to hike through the forest because it is a quicker route back to their lodge. Everyone agrees, and they enter the forest in the early morning.
In the forest, the group notices that the woods are unsettlingly quiet, and come across a large eviscerated elk, skewered on a tree. As the rain comes, the group notice a runic symbol carved on a tree and find an abandoned cabin. Upstairs, they discover a headless wooden effigy with deer antlers for arms. The friends are unnerved but decide to stay in the cabin. That night, supernatural occurrences begin; Luke has a nightmare of Rob and wakes up with a strange claw mark on his chest. Subsequently, Hutch wakes up and finds that he had wet his pants. Dom suddenly begins screaming in his sleep before he wakes. Luke heads upstairs and finds Phil, naked and praying in front of the effigy. Frightened, the group hurriedly leave the cabin and plan to continue on their hike.
When the group stops due to Dom injuring his leg, Luke climbs to a clearing to scout out the area and sees Moder hiding behind a tree before it startles him. Dom and Luke get into an argument before they continue. As they camp one evening, Hutch asks Luke to head to the lodge at sunrise while he will stay with Phil and Dom. However, Luke awakens in the night to Moder's footsteps before it abducts Hutch. The friends later find his body in the same manner as the elk; bloody and impaled on a tree. Luke climbs to higher ground and sees that they are near to their lodge; when he returns, Phil is taken by Moder and is momentarily found impaled on a tree. Luke and Dom run from Moder and stumble on a village, where they are held hostage by a group of Swedish cultists. One of them reveals that Luke will be offered to join the group, as they are all marked like him, but Dom is sacrificed to Moder, who takes the form of his wife before killing him.
Luke escapes and ignites the barely living elders of the cultist at the attic of the main cottage where he is held to cover his escape. This infuriates Moder who kills the surviving cultists as punishment for their negligence. Luke runs from Moder into the forest and is forced on his knees several times, being offered a chance to submit to Moder. Luke strikes at Moder with an ax and flees until he exits the forest; Moder halts by the forest's boundary, and cannot cross. Luke and Moder exchange roars at each other before Luke heads to the lodge.
Personality and Traits
As stated before, Moder is a Jötunn who since ancient times, stalked travelers who enter its home in the forest. It chose those who suffered from emotional pain and offered them salvation and eternal life in exchange for worshiping it as they more easier to convert. It can choose potential followers by marking them on the chest with magical means. But for those who not marked, Moder will kill them or have its followers sacrificed them to it. Moder also banned its followers to either harm their elders or let others do the same thing, as it slaughtered them for poorly guarding Luke who escaped and burn their barely alive elders at the attic of their main cottage.
Moder is an entity whose appearance fit to that of a Jötunn, the primordial, and chaotic in nature Giants of Norse Mythology, and a child of Loki as stated by one of the cultists, which fit considering the Trickster God was father of monstrous beast-like Jötunns Jormungandr and Fenrir. In Moder's case, it has the appearance of a large elk-like creature with body overgrown with plant matter, spikes protruding along its spine, and an additional set of human-like hands by its hips. Its head resembles a headless human torso with antlers for arms and arms for legs, with a vaguely human head with glowing eyes where its crotch would be.
- In the book, the film based on, The Creature's name revealed to be Moder and is the female Jötunn. The film, however, established that the cultists are afraid of mentioning its name and merely referred it as "bastard son of Loki".
- Though Moder endows its followers' immortality in exchange for sacrifices, the said immortality doesn't stop them from aging, as elders of its worshipers became desiccated living mummies as discovered by Luke.
- Moder means "mother" in several Scandinavian languages.