The Elder Scrolls video game series has some expansive lore, but the origins of its deities is one of the most confusing tales of them all.
The gods, demons, and other deities of The Elder Scrolls are numerous and mysterious. Conflicting information and a plethora of names can make it hard to explain exactly how the divine entities of Skyrim and the Elder Scrolls series’ other games behave. Still, enough research can give one a rough idea of the pantheon’s history and origins.
It’s rare for anyone, even the protagonists of Elder Scrolls games, to come into contact with the series’ gods in any direct way. Most of the time, such an event only occurs with one of the Daedric Princes. However, the demonically-inclined Daedra are only one side of the divine coin that inhabits this universe. The beings mortals tend to worship as benevolent forces are known as the Aedra and are commonly grouped into a pantheon known as the Eight (or Nine) Divines. Oddly enough, the distinction between Aedra and Daedra means very little, as their history in Elder Scrolls’ unique lore reveals a common ancestry.
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According to The Elder Scrolls Wiki, the Aedra and Daedra (along with existence itself) came from the interactions of two primordial entities: Anu and Padomay. Anu was an entity of light and order, while Padomay embodied chaos and darkness. In their struggles against each other, both entities drew blood, and the mixture of their blood created other entities called the et’Ada. These et’Ada would eventually become the Aedra and Daedra players encounter in each entry of The Elder Scrolls.
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However, there are two important et’Ada who were created by other means. In an effort to achieve true self-awareness, Anu “birthed his own soul,” according to the Wiki, creating an entity name Anui-El. Never to be outdone, Padomay did the same to create Sithis, an embodiment of the Void that the Dark Brotherhood assassins actively worship. These two newer entities repeated the self-birthing cycle again to create Auri-El (aka Akatosh, chief of The Elder Scrolls‘ Eight Divines) and Lorkhan. These two beings would prove themselves the most important et’Ada of all, as it is their actions that inevitably result in the creation of the mortal world and the establishment of the Eight Divines.
As Sithis’ creation, many characters believe Lorkhan was created to destroy the universe. This is contested by some Elder Scrolls lore, but regardless of the truth, Lorkhan is the god most responsible for the creation of Mundus, the mortal dimension. For one reason or another, Lorkhan convinces other et’Ada to help create Mundus. Unfortunately, he left out the fact that doing so would sap all of them of a majority of their power, if not outright kill them. From this process, three factions of et’Ada were created. The Aedra that humans worship are the et’Ada who gave up most of their power to create Mundus. The Daedra are those who refused to aid the process at all. Finally, the Magna Ge are the ones who fled Mundus before its creation, tearing holes in the dimension that would become its sun and stars.
After Mundus’ creation, the only thing that remained were the Aedra and Daedra. As punishment for tricking them, Akatosh and the other Aedra did their best to kill Lorkhan, but they could not destroy his heart. Afterwards, most of the Aedra either left Mundus, died, or reproduced with each other to eventually become The Elder Scrolls‘ fictional races, like men and elves. The most powerful ones who remained became the Eight Divines, with Akatosh as their leader. The Ninth Divine, Talos, did not come until later. Meanwhile, the Daedra traveled to Mundus and became forces of either good or evil (but usually evil). Most other details about The Elder Scrolls‘ gods are still a mystery, both in the games’ lore and in fans’ real-world knowledge.
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