Sithee is the God of the desolate industrial wasteland* that stretches from Chesterfield to Wakefield. He represents this benighted county with a Thorne in its side. He is the county’s own God. Sithee is a deity of many avatars. He has died and been re-incarnated at least 25 times. With each death more dramatic and poignant than the last. He is one of the few deities to be a martyr to his own faith. Between each incarnation, his priesthood will form a circle and chant the word “Bastard” over and over until he is born again.
Sithee has two sacred animals. The first is a duck which is constantly on the wing. It is said to never, ever land. In short, this duck is always up. The second is a mighty water serpent, which likes to coil in t’bath. Sithee consorts with a celestial harem of promiscuous concubines, known (somewhat unkindly) as “The Slag Heap”. He is sometimes depicted with his ceremonial weapon, used for stabbing his enemies in the guts, called the “Tripedent”.
Sithee’s priesthood maintain his temples and conduct the “Reyts” of worship. The music for these rituals is supplied by a live former-colliery brass band playing traditional South Yorkshire classical tunes, such as “Don’t You Want Me Baby”. For occasions of great gravitas, they will play the hoviest of hymns, Largo from Dvorak’s New World Symphony. At the climax of the Reyt a cup of tea is shared amongst the congregation as a kind of communion. A proper Yorkshire brew is made in the ceremonial tea pot. Which is never washed. The oldest of these ceremonial tea pots has such thick tannin deposits inside that it barely holds a thimbleful of tea.
There are four temples of Sithee, located in Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster. Each temple is the centre of a different sub-sect of the church of Sithee. The sects can be distinguished by what they call a narrow passage between two houses, and by what they will serve you when you ask for a fishcake. One does not simply walk into a Temple of Sithee. It used to be that the best way to get there was by the much missed Eagle Cars. Nowadays, pilgrims are dashed to the temple at a terrifying speed, through countless red lights by Chitty Taxis. Don’t try to get there on the 120 bus. It will only get you to Halfway (and you’ll be robbed if you try to get there on the 52 as it has Crookes on it). You can’t use your own car to get there as, strangely, there is no parkin nearby.
Every year Sithee demands a tribute. One night each summer, unwary Offcumdens are herded into t’Wicker Ski Village, and the whole thing is set ablaze. It is then rebuilt ready for next year’s ritual burning. One year, Diana Rigg was nearly accidentally ignited. The priesthood were momentarily confused by her theatrical R.P. English and put her into the rattan chalet. As the flames started to take hold around her, one of the priests sarcastically asked the sacrifices “How are you getting on in there?”. When Diana answered “Ah. Not so bad.” She was immediately rescued.
The church is renowned for being inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community. This actually started accidentally. One day the message board outside the temple read “We love shirt-lifters”, and from that point onwards his gay following grew. The church leaders decided to keep very quiet about the fact that they originally put up the message to try and get a corporate sponsorship from Farrow’s Mushy Peas.
The church of Sithee runs a dating advice service, where young men can learn the art of elegant chat up lines. Amongst the tried and tested Yorkshire chat up lines you can learn are, the passionate “Brace thi’ssen Lass” and the more casual “Wake up”. The church also run a charitable emergency ambulance service. You can recognise their ambulances by their distinctive sirens which go, “Dee-da, dee-da, dee-da, dee-da”.
Should you decide to be initiated into the church of Sithee, be prepared to undergo a strange and dark Reyt. First one will be anointed with a special blend of Henderson’s Relish and River Don Water. Then one has to hold a ferret in one’s trousers whilst pouring molten steel from a crucible and forging it to make a Sheffield Steel knife. Only the most dedicated, steady handed and pain oblivious neophytes make it to full membership. If you make it however, you earn the privilege of calling all the other priests “Love”.
*No. You can’t see any rolling purple moors, dramatic views, secluded wooded valleys, elegant stately homes or picturesque parks. It’s all an optical illusion in your mind. Now keep quiet about it. If you tell anyone, they’ll just think you’re mad.
Thank you to Nick Ward for naming Sithee, and to Adam Broadhurst, Rebecca Stothard, Wesley Perriman, Cis Heaviside, Ju Haynes, Carrie-May Mealor, Pascal Harper, Will Bayley, Alex Smith, Carey Anne Boyce, Jozafeen Knights and Janet Hudson for piling in with loads of excellent suggestions. (So many in fact, that over the coming “Yorkshire Days” for the next three years there will be a deity for each area of the God’s own county.)
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