Orphan of Kos is a boss that appears in Bloodborne.
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The Orphan of Kos is the final boss of the Old Hunters DLC. He emerges from under the corpse of Kos, covered in guts and grime, as an alien looking old man.
The Orphan is staged to be the ultimate secret of the DLC, as The Hunter's Nightmare is born from Fishing Hamlet, and The Orphan embodies the history of the village.
"Do you know why the Hunters are drawn to this Nightmare? Because it sprouted from their very misdeeds.
Things that some would rather keep secret, a pitiful tale of petty arrogance really. High time someone exposed the whole charade." - Simon the Harrowed
"Oh, I know very well. How the secrets beckon so sweetly.
Only an honest death will cure you now.
Liberate you, from your wild curiosity.
...A corpse... should be left well alone." - Lady Maria
Lady Maria sits at the peak of the Astral Clocktower to protect the secret, declaring that "a corpse... should be left well alone".
The corpse she is referring to is - ironically - both her own and that of the dead Kos, which is worshipped by the inhabitants of Fishing Hamlet.
"…Please, I need you to do something…
…This village is the true secret.
Testament to the old sins…
…It feeds this Hunter’s Nightmare…
…Please, bring to an end to the horror…
…So our forefathers sinned?
…We hunters cannot bear their weight forever…
…It isn’t fair, it just isn’t fair…" - Simon the Harrowed
Trapped in The Hunter's Nightmare, Simon is cursed to endlessly relive his uncovering of Healing Church secrets, and his subsequent murder at the hands of Brador.
Warriors connected to Byrgenwerth once led an incursion on Fishing Hamlet, hunting for Great One blood. These events are feeding The Hunter's Nightmare.
"Byrgenwerth...Byrgenwerth...Blasphemous murderers...Blood-crazed fiends...Atonement for the wretches...By the wrath of Mother Kos. - Fishing Hamlet Priest
"This is the Hunter’s Nightmare, where hunters end up when drunk with blood. Aimless, wandering hunters, slavering like beasts." - Simon the Harrowed
By killing the wraith at the end of the bossfight, you get the message "Nightmare Slain" and the macabre Sun of the DLC turns to peaceful white sky .
Fishing Hamlet, born from Innsmouth and Junji Ito
Innsmouth is a decaying, seaside town that harbors the Esoteric Order of Dagon. It's the central locale of Lovecraft's story: "The Shadow over Innsmouth".
Dagon is the giant king of the Deep Ones, and the spouse of Mother Hydra. Dagon was based on the Caananite/Babyonian fertility/fish god "Dagon".
In exchange for human sacrifices, Dagon grants the village an abundant supply of fish. He also provides them with golden trickets created by the Deep Ones.
All those part of the Order of Dagon, must agree to have intercourse with a Deep One. As a result, the inhabitants of the town are all part Deep One.
Deep Ones are manlike beings with fish/frog like characteristics . Their half-human children are born human, but turn into Deep Ones over time.
Once fully transformed they will acquire everlasting life. They will then be moved by a great urge, to journey beneath the ocean, to the city of Y'ha-nthlei.
Junji Ito is a reputable Japanese Manga artist, who in 1997 released "Slug Girl" a compilation of eight short stories, among them "The Thing That Drifted Ashore".
"The Thing That Drifted Ashore" is a massive lifeform that washes up on the Japanese coast. It's believed to be the decaying corpse of a prehistoric lifeform.
People observe that the creature exhibits transparent patches of skin. In its innards, the spectators begin to make out the forms of people .
The frightened spectators bring a blade and try to cut open the creature. A surge of human bodies gushes out of the hideous carcass.
Then the bodies begin to move, and the onlookers begin to recognize friends that have been missing for years, lost in a freak accident.
Somehow undigested, the victims have survived for seven years inside the creature's insides, but they have undergone fishlike mutations and are completely mad.
A man observes that the creature is covered in luminescent anglers and may have once been fully transparant. What did the victims see in the dark of the ocean?
The Orphan as the Aztec god Tecciztecatl
Under Kos (Mother), I discuss the likeness of Kos to the Aztec goddess Chalchiuitlicue. The son of Chalchiuitlicue is named Tecciztecatl (Old Moon God)
Tecciztecatl was called "He Who Comes from The Land of the Sea Slug Shell" and represented "The Old Man In The Moon".
When The Orphan is born, he's already fully grown, a recurring theme among Aztec gods. His old age is concurrent with the role of Old Moon God.
"Land of the Sea Slug Shell" is a fitting description for Fishing Hamlet, and mother Kos is referred to as "Great Slug" in the song "Hail the Nightmare".
The Aztecs used "slug" to refer to The Moon, in which they recognized the form of a naked slug. As such, Land of the Sea Slug Shell is also The Land of The Moon.
"Land of the Sea-Slug Shell" can also be interpreted literally as "a land full of sea-slug shells" - or a "the land of a particularly important sea-slug shell".
Fishing Hamlet contains large calcified structures, mirroring man-made fortresses , though perhaps these served as a dam instead .
These structures have been transformed by large deposits of calcium and possibly nacre , the material that pearls are made of.
The great Kos and may thus have created its very own shell, in the form of these gigantic calcium structures.
Tecciztecatl is often depicted wearing pale shells or slugs , in reference to his land of origin and his role as a god of the Moon,
The Orphan himself shares some of these symbols. In his first form, his wings mirror a slimy slug , while his cranium , is calcified like a mollusc shell.
The Orphan also carries with him a giant placenta that is shaped like a crescent Moon .
The story of Tecciztecatl and Nanahuatzin
According to Aztec mythology, the world has been created five times and destroyed four times.
The first world was created by Tezcatlipoca "god of night" - the second by Quetzalcoatl "god of wind" - the third by Tlaloc "god of rain".
For the duration of his reign, each god served as the Sun of that world. Chalchiuhtlicue - Tecciztecatl's mother - had been the fourth Sun.
Chalchiuhtlicue is described as having been a kind ruler, but she ended up grief-stricken by the harsh accusations of Tezcatlipoca.
She cried bloody tears for fifty-two years and drowned the fourth world. But she still managed to turn her people into fish so they would survive.
There are two main myths as to what happened next. In one, the war god Huitzilopochtli becomes the fifth Sun. In the another the gods summon Tecciztecatl.
According to this myth, the gods convene under Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and prepare to sacrifice themselves for the fifth world.
For the purpose of becoming the fifth Sun, the gods choose the wealthy and proud Tecciztecatl.
This will require no small sacrifice, in order to become the Sun, he is to throw himself into a great fire.
Four times Tecciztecatl tries, four times he is repelled by the searing heat.
After seeing this, the humble Nanahuatzin - "He Who is Full Of Sores" - throws himself into the fire and becomes the fifth Sun.
Tecciztecatl, having gained new courage, or wounded in his pride, goes after him and leaps into the fire.
Looking at the two Suns in the sky, the gods are offended.
They throw a rabbit at Tecciztecatl, this damages him to the point that he becomes The Moon instead.
The Aztecs used this story to explain why there's an impression of a rabbit on The Moon .
This could be The Orphan's backstory. The humiliated and hurt Tecciztecatl is forced to look up at sky and see Nanahuatzin shine as the new "Sun".
The strange structure covering the Nightmare's Sun might then be the damaged Moon-Sun of Tecciztecatl.
The return to the ocean
...Ahh, sweet child of Kos, returned to the ocean... A bottomless curse, a bottomless sea. Accepting of all that there is and can be.
After defeating The Orphan, there appears a snakelike wraith on the carcass of Kos.
In order to properly conclude the DLC, the wraith must be attacked and destroyed. This triggers the final cutscene.
A narrator reads the above lines, leaving the player to reflect on their meaning.
If the above theory of The Orphan being an Aztec god is true, then the meaning of "the return to the ocean" may be found in Aztec tradition.
Aztec tradition commonly associates the womb with waters (and at other times earth).
Chalchiuhtlicue, Tecciztecatl's mother, thanks her position as a goddess of childbirth to the connection between the womb and lifegiving waters.
The connection is however, doublesided. Water gives life, and water takes life away. The sea is full of bounty, and yet it consumes people.
Chalchiuhtlicue herself is a goddess of childbirth but Chalchiuhtlicue is also known for having drowned the world with her tears.
In Aztec tradition, water is the active element in venereal diseases, sores, scabies, leprosy, edema and gout.
One Aztec legend describes the world as being born from primeval water and the remnants of the giant crocodile Cipactli.
Cipactli, who swam around in the primordial ocean, is cut apart by Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca, from its parts they formed all coasts and mountains.
The following is from an Aztec religious rite, performed by midwifes, in honor of Chalchiuhtlicue.
My son, the gods Ometecutli and Omecioatl who realm in the ninth and tenth heavens,
have begotten you in this light and brought you into this world full of calamity and pain,
take then this water, which will protect you life, in the name of the goddess Chalchiutlicue."
Then with her right hand she would sprinkle water at the head of the child and say,
"Behold this element without whose assistance no mortal being can survive."
She also would sprinkle water on the breast of the baby saying, "
Receive this celestial water that washes impurity from your heart."
Then she would go again to the head and say, "Son receive this divine water,
which must be drank that all may live that it may wash you and wash away all your misfortunes,
part of the life since the beginning of the world: this water in truth has a unique power to oppose misfortune."
At the end, she would wash the entire body of the little baby, "In which part of you is unhappiness hidden?
Or in which part are you hiding? Leave this child, today,
he is born again in the healthful waters in which he has been bathed,
as mandated by the will of the god of the sea Chalchiutlicue."
Water is where all life comes from, it is equated with the primordial darkness that preceded creation, and to which all life will return.
The womb in this sense is a dark space that bears life, what happens inside of it reflects the original creation of life inside the primordial waters.
There's reason to belief that Bloodborne has adopted a similar metaphysical system, one of life shifting in and out of some primal matter.
"One of the basic ingredients used to satiate a Holy Chalice is this incoagulable blood.
When all is melted in blood, all is reborn." - Ritual Blood
These words could describe the story of Chalchiuhtlicue who drowned the world in her tears. One legend describes her as crying tears of blood.
"When Aldrich ruminated on the fading of the fire, it inspired visions of a coming age of the deep sea.
He knew the path would be arduous, but he had no fear. He would devour the gods himself." - Soul of Aldrich, DS3
Aldrich may have dreamt of Chalchiuhtlicue, bringing forth a biblical flood, expunging all life. What better motivation might he have had to murder the gods?
There's another Aztec deity who embodies this cycle of death and rebirth. The earth goddess Coatlicue, whose womb is described as being both a birthplace and a grave.
Coatlicue means "skirt of snakes" and around a headless neck she wears a necklace made of human hearts, hands and skulls.
Blood spurts from her neck in the form of two gigantic serpents and she is endowed with a ravenous hunger, much like the beast Cipactli.
She is mother to the stars, The Moon and The Sun. According to legend, 400 evil star demons led by The Moon, once tried to murder their pregnant mother.
But fully grown, Huitzilopochtli (The Sun) sprang from his mother's womb and beheaded his evil sister Coyolxauhqui (The Moon).
Every day, Huitzilopochtli repeats these events, chasing the stars out of the sky, and finally throwing his sister's head into the sky, to form The Moon.
Coatlicue belongs to a seemingly timeless congregation of evil/ambiguous mother goddesses with a relation to serpents, like Echidna, Tiamat and Sedna.
The ancient Egyptians had a converging myth about the god of primeval darkness, Nu or Nun.
The Egyptians described the first darkness as primeval waters. From these waters the first god - Ra, or Amun - was born.
The darkness of Nu encompasses all creation. Without Ra the world would once again be swallowed up by death and stillness.
From Nu rose the serpent Apep, the worldgorger. Every night Ra (The Sun) must battle Apep, lest the world be plunged into eternal darkness.
Here too, water and darkness are equated, and this element either depicts chaos/evil (Egyptian) or it bears some vaguer connection to it (Aztec).
The Ancient Greeks had a similar mythology. They equated "chaos" with formlessness (like water).
To Aristotle, the soul was form, and formlessness was the equivalent of death. This also meant that "having no form", meant having no soul.
What this means for The Orphan, is that the act of "returning him to the ocean" means returning him to either the basic building blocks of life, or to the primordial darkness.
The Orphan will return to the state he was in before he was created, his matter will break down and his soul - if he has one, will face an uncertain destination.
While this could entail an uncomplicated death, the problem is that "Oedon" has claim to formlessness, chaos, and the prima materia of "blood".
It could be that the snakelike wraith is actually The Orphan trying to be reborn from his dead mother, avoiding death, avoiding Oedon.
There are more questions here than can be answered by mere theory, perhaps The Orphan's death is what "saves him" from an endless cycle of rebirth.
It could be that formlessness is a dark realm akin to hell, but it may also be a heaven, waiting to welcome The Orphan into its arms. It's worth thinking about.
Observations & Trivia
The Orphan has a hunched posture , which exacerbates after he goes into phase 2 . He had a very long, birdlike neck .
There are bony spines sticking out just below his elbows, see above. These vaguely resemble the bones of fish, but are too alien to be authentic.
His cranium is calcified, as are several other parts of his body. The parts that aren't calcified display a slimy white skin.
His umbilical cord is wrapped around his right arm, then enters an abdominal cavity from the left . It remains attached in both forms.
The placenta itself has a dark, bony-metalic edge on the outer rim . On the inside its raspberry red and "bubbling".
These "bubbles" very much resemble the fleshy growths found on cursed Blood Gems .
On each hand The Orphan has five clawed fingers but on each foot he has seven toes .
In his first form, the slime on his back looks like a solid whole - a cape . When he transforms this cape transforms into veiny, hole-filled wings.
When he transforms, The Orphan gets bigger. He also gains new tissue on the abdomen , his back, and possibly other places as well.
When he scream and summons a wave of lightning, this wave always emerges from the carcass of his dead mother .