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InfiniumWheel

The fire is mine: let it consume thee,
And make a secret door
At the altar of the Aurbis,
In the House of We
Where we become safe and looked after.

Introduction

Hello again, everyone. Hope you're doing well.

In my latest Elder Scrolls Blog, where I talked about the setting's general cosmology and lore, I promised that there would eventually be a follow-up blog, where I would discuss the truly complicated, metaphysical concepts featured in the series. And while it may have took a little while, that day has finally arrived.

This Blog - and by extension, the endeavor of the Elder Scrolls Revisions as a whole, are easily my biggest and most ambitious project in this Wiki. I spent months immersing myself in the series' lore, reading through dozens of texts, forum threads, listening to hours of rambling podcasts, etc. to get where I am now.

At first I did this out of a sense of vague curiosity and a desire to help the Wiki, but soon I became fully invested in the Elder Scrolls, reading and researching it out of deep, genuine interest. Nowadays, The Elder Scrolls is probably my number one favorite fictional universe. Consider this series of Blogs a passion project that goes beyond my role in this website. I plan on posting this series elsewhere as well, in other formats if needed.

Once again, dedicate absolute gratitude to Ultima Reality, whose considerable (incalculable) efforts in helping me out have made this Blog possible. Without his assistance, this project would never had left the drawing board.

This being said, I should say something else before we begin:

Firstly, this Blog deals with highly complex, often convoluted topics, and will at times delve into real world philosophy and religion to draw parallels and better explains the ideas here discussed. If that makes you uncomfortable, I would advise you go elsewhere. Secondly, this blog expects the reader to have at least a cursory understanding of the Elder Scrolls Universe. At the very least, you should have read my previous blog on the Elder Scrolls, Cosmology & Lore, before diving into this one. Don't say I didn't warn you.

With all that said, let us (finally) get into this:

The Annuad: Annotated & Expanded

“The first ones were brothers: Anu and Padomay. They came into the Void, and Time began.
As Anu and Padomay wandered the Void, the interplay of Light and Darkness created Nir. Both Anu and Padomay were amazed and delighted with her appearance, but she loved Anu, and Padomay retreated from them in bitterness.
Nir became pregnant, but before she gave birth, Padomay returned, professing his love for Nir. She told him that she loved only Anu, and Padomay beat her in rage. Anu returned, fought Padomay, and cast him outside Time. Nir gave birth to Creation, but died from her injuries soon after. Anu, grieving, hid himself in the sun and slept.
Meanwhile, life sprang up on the twelve worlds of creation and flourished. After many ages, Padomay was able to return to Time. He saw Creation and hated it. He swung his sword, shattering the twelve worlds in their alignment. Anu awoke, and fought Padomay again. The long and furious battle ended with Anu the victor. He cast aside the body of his brother, who he believed was dead, and attempted to save Creation by forming the remnants of the 12 worlds into one -- Nirn, the world of Tamriel. As he was doing so, Padomay struck him through the chest with one last blow. Anu grappled with his brother and pulled them both outside of Time forever.”
- The Annotated Annuad

So, many might have already seen this: The Annotated Annuad. It forms the overall basis for the deeper Philosophy and Metaphysics of the Elder Scrolls Universe - If you have already seen other in-game books relating to the upper echelons of the Cosmology, as well as the previous blog, you might find it strange that it antropomorphizes both Anu and Padomay, treating them as people, rather than primordial, abstract concepts, and also introduces a third figure exclusive to it, Nir.

This is because the Annotated Annuad is in fact a children’s book, presenting a simplified account of the primal creation myth. Because of this, many complex details and metaphysical concepts are left out, or only alluded to. This makes it the ideal place to begin our dive into the metaphysics of the Elder Scrolls Universe.

With that said, let’s dissect what goes on in this text:

The Annuad presents us the conflict of Anu and Padomay, two opposing forces or beings that existed before anything else, which resulted in the creation of a third entity: Nir. Something analogous to how the interplay of Stasis and Change created the Aurbis. However, the story diverges in what comes next:

Both Anu and Padomay fall in love with Nir, but she only loved Anu. She becomes pregnant with his child, and Padomay, enraged with her rejection, kills her as she is giving birth to creation. Anu then battles Padomay and defeats him, casting his brother outside of Time. Nir’s mutual cry of delivery and death is known as the Primal Wail, and it is what forms creation as it is known.

Now, what happens next is extremely important, and will serve as the basis for absolutely everything that will be talked later, so we have to establish it now:

“Anu, grieving, hid himself in the sun and slept.
Meanwhile, life sprang up on the twelve worlds of creation and flourished. After many ages, Padomay was able to return to Time. (...) Anu awoke, and fought Padomay again.”

With both Nir and Padomay dead, Anu lies alone in creation, and struck by grief, hides himself in the Sun and sleeps. As this happens, life springs up within creation, and Padomay returns. Anu awakes, and their battle begins anew.

As with the rest of the Annuad, this is a simplified metaphor. What truly happened is far more complex. Essentially, the whole Elder Scrolls Universe - not just the Aurbis, but the entire setting - is the Dream of Anu. Not Anu, the primordial embodiment of Stasis, opposite to Padomay, the primordial embodiment of Change, as they are also part of his Dream, but ANU, the brother of Padomay, and lover of Nir.

These three beings, whatever they were, predated creation, existing in a primordial Void. Together with Nir, ANU sought to create a new existence, but Padomay’s intervention stopped it just as Nir was giving birth to the Twelve Worlds. This series of events led to ANU reaching a state known as Amaranth, wherein he fell into sleep, Dreaming a world in shattered reflection of what he would have created with Nir.

ANU is present in this Dream as Anu, the Embodiment of Stasis, while his brother Padomay is his opposite, the Embodiment of Change. Likewise, Nir is present in it as the product of the interplay between both concepts - The Aurbis (And, more obviously, Nirn and Tamriel), the middle possibility that lies between both absolute opposites. The Gray Maybe between the White of Anu and the Black of Padomay.

This is why Aurbis means “Arena” in Ehlnofex, and why ANU’s dream is one of conflict and suffering: It is a reality created out of death and grief and sorrow, defined by reflections of the conflict between the two brothers. Two primordial forces in perpetual opposition, fighting for what lies between then. In short, the Dream of ANU is a grieving nightmare. A Prison from which we must escape.

Enantiomorph: Rebel & King, the One and One

Now that we explained the Annuad and established the basis for the metaphysics with the Dream of ANU, we should probably discuss one of the most important features of said dream: The Enantiomorph.

Of course, if you are a normal person, chances are that you are probably wondering “What the hell is an Enantiomorph?”

Well, in real life the term comes from Ancient Greek, and it means “Opposing Forms” (enantíos, “opposite” + morphḗ, “form”). It is a word used in geometry to describe chiral images, figures which are mirror-images of each other, yet not quite the same. In the Elder Scrolls universe, it is a term used to refer to a cosmic constant which echoes across all levels of ANU’s Dream.

“As far as the Anuad:
Nirn (Female/Land/Freedom catalyst for birth-death of enantiomorph)/ Anu-Padomay (enantiomorph with requisite betrayal)/ ?* (Witnessing Shield-thane who goes blind or is maimed and thus solidifies the wave-form; blind/maimed = = final decision)”
- Michael Kirkbride

The Enantiomorph is primarily expressed through the interplay of Anu and Padomay with Nir in-between that led to her death and the start of ANU’s Dreaming. Nir’s Primal Wail, her cries as she both gave birth and died from her wounds, echoes through the whole Dream as a song, the underlying tones which define and shape all existence:

“Tamriel. Starry Heart. That whole fucking thing is a song. It was made either out of 12 planets, or from two brothers that split in the womb. Either way, it's the primal wail and those that grew up on it - they can't help but hear it, and add to it, or try to control it, or run from it. The reason there IS music on Tamriel at ALL is because it exists.
It was and is and it will not stop. There are repeats in it; plays on a tune. Variations.”
- Michael Kirkbride

The Enantiomorph is generally agreed to be composed of three elements - The King, the Rebel, and the Observer - and to a certain degree follow a specific pattern:

Metaphorically speaking, there is a King and there is a Rebel - two figures in mirror-opposition to each other. The Rebel will betray his King, and the ensuing conflict will usually result in death of either one, or both of them. This interplay is observed by a metaphorical Witness who will usually be blinded or maimed by the event, and is the one who determines which of the two conflicting parties is the Rebel or the King, “solidifying the wave-form”, so to speak. Without the Witness, the King and the Rebel are interchangeable, as they have essentially no distinction between each other, and could easily switch places while remaining unchanged. This idea is best illustrated in Sermon 11 of the 36 Lessons of Vivec, which describes the Enantiomorph between the Hortator (Indoril Nerevar / the Nerevarine), and the Sharmat (Voryn Dagoth / Dagoth Ur):

"The ruling king is armored head to toe in brilliant flame. He is redeemed by each act he undertakes. His death is only a diagram back to the waking world. He sleeps the second way. The Sharmat is his double, and therefore you wonder if you rule nothing.
Hortator and Sharmat, one and one, eleven, an inelegant number. Which of the ones is the more important? Could you ever tell if they switched places? I can and that is why you will need me.”
- The 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon Eleven

Both the Nerevarine and Dagoth Ur see themselves as the rightful ruling King facing an opposing Rebel. It is only through the observation of the Witness (Vivec in this case) that their true identities can be determined. Without him they are the One and One, the number Eleven, seemingly identical elements put together, with no distinction separating them.

More information on the Enantiomorph and the number Eleven can be found in Sermon 29 of the 36 Lessons of Vivec, appropriately titled “The Scripture of Numbers”. In it, the numbers 1 through 36 are given meanings which relate to their respective sermons, and can tie to each other.

http://en.uesp.net/wiki/Morrowind:36_Lessons_of_Vivec,_Sermon_29

1 is the number of the Tower, the “ I “, while 2 is the number of the Enantiomorph. 11 is the number of the Master, anon Ruling King, the individual who transcends the duality of the Enantiomorph and possesses no equivalent.

As you can quickly observe, the Master (11) is composed of two Towers (1), which added together form the Enantiomorph (2). Two mirror-opposites locked in conflict, with the ultimate result being the emergence of a being beyond said duality.

If you are not convinced about the Enantiomorph already, and think that I’m reaching and overanalyzing things, let me present you with only some examples of the Enantiomorph:

  • The original Enantiomorph of Anu (The King) and Padomay (The Rebel), with Nir as the Witness. Results in the creation of the Dream.
  • The Interplay of Aka and Lorkhan. The interaction between Time and Space which stabilizes the Aurbis and allows it to congeal from chaos. The identity of the King and the Rebel depends on your viewpoint, but the Witness if widely accepted to be Magnus. Results in the creation of Mundus and Tamriel.
  • The Enantiamorph of Talos, with Ysmir Wulfharth and Zurin Arctus as the King and Rebel, and Hjalti-Early Beard (Tiber Septim) as the Witness. Results in their union as the TAL(OS) Oversoul.
  • The Alessian Rebellion, where Periff (Saint Alessia) led the slaves of Cyrod against their Ayelid masters. Periff (Alongside Pelinal) is the Rebel, Umaril the Unfeathered the King, and Morihaus the Witness. Results in the sundering of Pelinal, and Periff’s ascension as Empress of Cyrodiil.
  • The Battle of Red Mountain, where Indoril Nerevar led the Chimer armies against their former Dwemer allies. Though there are many conflicting descriptions of the event, Nerevar is considered the King, with Vivec, Sotha Sil and Almalexia as the Rebels, and Alandro Sul as the Witness. Results in the Chimer’s transformation into the Dunmer, and the birth of the ALMSIVI.
  • The Nerevarine Prophecy. The events around which The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is centered, with the Nerevarine as the King (Hortator), and Dagoth Ur as the Rebel (Sharmat), and Vivec as the witness. Results in the destruction of the Heart of Lorkhan, and the end of the ALMSIVI.
  • The Oblivion Crisis. The events around which The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is centered, with Martin Septim as the King and Mankar Camoran as the Rebel. Interesting enough, the Champion of Cyrodiil (The player character) is the Witness in this case. Results in the destruction of the Chim-El-Adabal, and the end of the Cyrodillic Empire.
  • The Greymarch, the cyclical conflict between Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, and Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Order who rises to overthrow Sheogorath’s reign. This is an Enantiomorph where the King and Rebel are in fact the same being, but the Witness’ identity is debatable.

This are only a few of the numerous Enantiomorphs which are present throughout the Elder Scrolls Lore. As you can see, this isn’t a random theory which crazy fans invented out of nowhere, but an easily identifiable pattern across the whole series.

AKA AE LORKHAN: The Divine Interplay

Now that we have already established the underlying Duality of the The Elder Scrolls universe, it is time to move on and discuss what are easily two of the most misunderstood figures of the series’ lore, and their intrinsic connection to each other: Aka and Lorkhan, The Dragon God of Time and the Missing God of Space

To understand their relationship and connection it is important we establish one notion: That in the Elder Scrolls setting, all things begin with the primordial Dualistic Interaction which defines the very Universe, that is the interplay between Stasis / All and Change / Nothing which created the Aurbis. Such interaction continues to Echo even further in the Mundane, as the schism between Men and Mer, Humans and Elves.

All Tamrielic religions begin the same. Man or Mer, things begin with the dualism of Anu and His Other. These twin forces go by many names: Anu-Padomay, Aniel-Sithis, Ak-El, Satak-Akel, Is-Is Not
- The Monomyth

However, to dive even further into the Metaphysics, we need to subvert this concept entirely, disregarding it as fake. This is because in the Elder Scrolls Universe, the concepts of Duality and Separation are illusions that hold no meaning, as all is the Dream of the Godhead ANU, who exists in pure Oneness, bereft of a double. The concept of the Enantiomorph reinforces this idea, as thus in-universe sacred numerology:

As I sit here in the perfection of this garden, I contemplate the Sacred Numbers that we recognize as Auspicious and critical to the existence of the universe.
Three is the Number of the Prime Celestials, as embodied in the sun and the two moons. It is also the number of my perfect daughters, which is why we shall produce no other heirs.
Five is the Number of the Elements, for reality consists of Earth, Air, Water, Fire, and Aether. It is also the number of books I have open upon my desk at any given time.
Eight is the Number of the Planets, as well as the sum of three plus five. Eight is also the limit I impose when drinking glasses of Gossamer Tawny Port with the members of my philosophical society—no more and no less.
These are the Good Numbers. And the sum of the Good Numbers, which we call Sixteen, is a very powerful number indeed.
We must beware the Bad Number, though, for Two lacks vision and attempts to display duality, which we all know is impossible.
- Thoughts on the Sacred Numbers

Anu and Padomay follow this principle, as they are in truth a single force without distinction or dual nature, which is perceived as two separate forces by lesser beings, this is clearly shown by the Yokudan God of Everything, Satakal, an Infinite Serpent who holds Satak (Anu) and Akel (Padomay) as aspects of its body. Hence, illustrating that all dual concepts are like opposite sides of the same coin, a White one and a Black one, as opposed to two disparate coins.

“The Second Nirn. The inchoate Nirn-Ensuing. The thought-form that anticipates the world to come: Tamriel Final. Anuvanna'si. Only Sotha Sil knows its shape. Its nature lies forgotten in the before-time when Anu broke itself for wisdom's sake. Our lessers know the Source as two forms: Anu and Padomay, but this binary is without merit. One of the Lorkhan's Great Lies, meant to sunder us from the truth of Anuic unity. Our father, Sotha Sil, would have us know the truth: there is no Padomay. Padomay is the absence of value. The lack. A ghost that vanishes at first light. A Nothing. There is only Anu, sundered and known by many names, possessing many faces. The one.”
- The Truth in Sequence, Volume One
“The lover is the highest country and a series of beliefs. He is the sacred city bereft of a double. The uncultivated land of monsters is the rule. This is clearly attested by ANU and his double, which love knows never really happened.”
- The 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon Thirty Five

Their Souls, Anui-El and SITHIS, embodiments of Existence and Nonexistence (IS and IS-NOT) respectively, also follow this principle, although more subtly. As everything is the Dream of the Godhead, existence itself can be said to be fake, an illusory land where nothing truly exists. Thus, IS (Existence) IS NOT (Doesn't Truly Exist)

Now, what exactly creates this illusion of Duality? The Concepts of Time and Space.

Through Time, things gain a sense of progression and continuity, and beings can perceive themselves differently in past, present and future. And through Space, things gain a sense of form and position, and beings can perceive themselves as separate from their surroundings.

The Truth in Sequence illustrates this notion through repeated references to “Lorkhan's great lie” and “The Cursed Dragon whose name is multitude”:

The will of Sotha Sil is the chrononymic will. The Nameless Will. For what is "Name?" The Divine Metronome tells us that "Name" is the wedge that pries gear from pinion. The residue of Lorkhan's Great Lie that loosens the wheel chain and corrodes the frame. The et'Ada Gears named each and each, in their way. Our lessers see this as a kindness, but the Mainspring Ever-Wound calls it a curse, rooted in selfish pride. To name is to cleave one from another. It is the death of Anuic convergence and the Nirn-Ensuing - the misassembled dragon that breathes dry falsehood and whose name is "Multitude."
- The Truth in Sequence, Volume Two

Now you see it is extremely important to note the connection between these two concepts, embodied by the two et'Ada who are manifested directly from Anui-El and SITHIS respectively, and the main subjects of this section: Aka and Lorkhan

As the Monomyth of the Aurbis records, The Dragon God of Time Aka created its namesake as a Concept upon mutilating himself, becoming the blood which permeates through the Aurbis and allowing the once Boundless and Eternal Et'Ada to erupt from Ineffability and recognize themselves as separate beings with a past and a future:
At first the Aurbis was turbulent and confusing, as Anuiel's ruminations went on without design. Aspects of the Aurbis then asked for a schedule to follow or procedures whereby they might enjoy themselves a little longer outside of perfect knowledge. So that he might know himself this way, too, Anu created Auriel, the soul of his soul. Auriel bled through the Aurbis as a new force, called time. With time, various aspects of the Aurbis began to understand their natures and limitations. They took names, like Magnus or Mara or Xen. One of these, Lorkhan, was more of a limit than a nature, so he could never last long anywhere.
- Monomyth: The Heart of the World

However, looking solely into the Altmer Monomyth is perceiving things from a limited perspective. While delving deeper into the Obscure Metaphysics relating to this, you need to remember that since Duality doesn’t truly exist, Aka and Lorkhan are actually one and the same, mirror-images which reflect their dichotomies with opposing reactions, much like your reflection in the Mirror will always do the same things as you, but on an opposite angle

With this in mind, it is important to note that prior to the Creation of Time, Lorkhan was actually the “first” of the Et'Ada to gain individuality. He saw the chaos of the Aurbis being shaped and reshaped by the Original Spirits, and desired None of It and All of It at once, and being a Padomaic Being driven by Change, he went outside of the Aurbis, at the border of Creation. And looking back, he saw the Wheel of the Aurbis sideways as the Tower, the True Name of God. I.

In this moment, Lorkhan realized that he wasn’t truly real, but merely a static image in the Dream of the Godhead, ANU, trapped in a prison of suffering from which all should escape.

Anu’s firstborn, for he mostly desired order, was time, anon Akatosh. Padhome’s firstborn went wandering from the start, changing as he went, and wanted no name but was branded with Lorkhan. As time allowed more and more patterns to individualize, Lorkhan watched the Aurbis shape itself and grew equally delighted and tired with each new shaping. As the gods and demons of the Aurbis erupted, the get of Padhome tried to leave it all behind for he wanted all of it and none of it all at once. It was then that he came to the border of the Aurbis.
He saw the Tower, for a circle turned sideways is an “I”. This was the first word of Lorkhan and he would never, ever forget it.
- Vehk’s Teaching

Hence, Lorkhan became one with the Aurbis itself, stabilizing it with the concept of Space and becoming "The Scarab", the Shell that encloses the Arena while simultaneously acting as its frame. This motif is a symbolic representation of Lorkhan's Goal: As the Scarab - the Dung Beetle - was considered a symbol of renovation and emergence of Life from the putrid in Ancient Egypt, something which Lorkhan's Plan reflects perfectly, the emergence of a New Dreamer from the depths of a terrible Dream filled with rot and suffering.

Vivec says unto the Hortator remember the words of Boet-hi-ah:
We pledge ourselves to you, the Frame-maker, the Scarab: a world for us to love you in, a cloak of dirth to cherish. Betrayed by your ancestors when you were not even looking. Hoary Magnus and his ventured opinions cannot sway the understated, a trick worthy of the always satisfied. A short season of towers, a rundown absolution, and what is this, what is this but fire under your eyelid?
- The 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon Ten
Oath-breakers beware, for their traitors run through the nymic-paths, runner dogs of prolix gods. The Dragon's Blood have hidden ascension in six-thousands years of aetherial labyrinth, which is Arena, which they yet deny is Oathbound. By the Book, take this key and pierce the divine shell that encloses the mantle-takers! The skin of gold! SCARAB AE AURBEX!
Commentaries on the Mysterium Xarxes, Book Three

It is also important to note how the Symbology of the Scarab not only relates to Lorkhan's Goal, but also to the Psiijic Endeavor, the Teachings of Mephala, Boethiah and Azura, based on the ideologies of the Space God himself. It works on the principle of achieving Apotheosis and transcending the boundaries of the Aurbis through suffering and submission - Vivec describes this in detail in Sermon 32 of his 36 Lessons, stating that by submitting themselves to the torture of the Daedra, the Dunmer can discipline themselves and achieve divinity, even going as far as describing the former as the Jailers, the Key and the Lock, as they are part of the World-Wheel which encloses mortals, yet contain the potential for granting Freedom in their actions.

The Scripture of the Mace, First:
The pleasure of annihilation is the pleasure of disappearing into the unreal. All those that would challenge the sleeping world will seek membership in this movement. I denounce the alienation of the Cloven Duality with a hammer.
Second:
Take from me the lessons as a punishment for being mortal. To be made of dirt is to be treated as such by your jailers. This is the key and the lock of the Daedra. Why do you think they escaped the compromise?
Third:
Velothi, your skin has become the pregnant darkness. My brooding has brought this on. Remember that Boethiah asked you to become the color of bruise. How else to show yourselves people of the exodus into the vital: pain?
(...)
Sixth:
In the end, rejoice as a hostage released from drumming torment but that savors his wound. The drum breaks and you find it to be a nest of hornets, which is to say: your sleep is over.
- The 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon Thirty Two

This, again, fits perfectly with the Scarab Motif of Ancient Egypt. As the larvae birthed by the insect inside balls of dung would be born involved by Food, allowing them to emerge alive from a pile of rot, thus the Egyptians would associate them with emergence of Life and with the eternal cycle of death and rebirth. Now, compare this to the philosophy of the Dunmer described above.

Anyway, returning to primary topic: As Lorkhan stabilized the Aurbis by birthing the concept of Space and becoming The Scarab, an opposing reaction to His Tower-Induced epiphany occurred: The Dragon God Aka also realized the ephemeral and insignificant nature of his existence within ANU’s Dream, but chose to deny this fact, proclaiming himself as an existent being, and not a mere image in the Dreams of a Schizophrenic Godhead, through this, he shattered Himself and bled through the Aurbis as the concept of Time, allowing things to have a semblance of duration, per his own Anuic nature, and Individuality / Separation.

This is why the Dragon God of Time possesses so many different names. Akatosh, Auri-El, Alkosh, Alduin, etc. aren’t the same being under cultural variations, but shards of a greater entity, Aka, the original God of Time.

The Aedroth Aka, who goes by so many names as to perhaps already suggest what I'm about to commit to memospore, is completely insane. His mind broke when his "perch from Eternity allowed the day" and we of all the Aurbis live on through its fragments, ensnared in the temporal writings and erasures of the acausal whim that he begat by saying "I AM". In the aetheric thunder of self-applause that followed (nay, rippled until convention, that is, amnesia), is it any wonder that the Time God would hate the same-twin on the other end of the aurbrilical cord, the Space God? That any Creation would become so utterly dangerous because of that singular fear of a singular word's addition: "I AM NOT"?
- Etada, Eight Aedra, Eat the Dreamer

Aka & Lorkhan are Echoes of what their Progenitors represent, which defines their philosophies and shapes their actions. Aka is an Anuic Spirit defined by Stasis, who comes from the IS of Anu and Anui-El, and thus, he firmly states that he is an existent being, and not a nonexistent Image in the Dream of an Schizophrenic Godhead (I AM). Therefore, he seeks to preserve and maintain the Aurbis as it is through the Concept of Time, even being described as one that is always satisfied.

On the Other Side of the Coin, Lorkhan is a Padomaic Spirit defined by Change, who comes from the IS-NOT of Padomay and SITHIS, having seen the Wheel of the Aurbis sideways as the Tower and realizing that he isn’t truly real, and that everything is nothing but an Ephemeral Dream without any intrinsic substance (I AM NOT). Therefore, he seeks to achieve the Ultimate Act of Change: The Destruction of the Aurbis followed by the eventual Creation of a New Dream formed and shaped through Love, unlike the current one, which was created through Violence and Hate.

However, Lorkhan was aware that such endeavour could only be achieved through self-reflection upon one's own insignificance within the bounds of the Godhead's Dream, and as the Original Spirits were Infinite and Boundless, they could never realize it in their current state. As such, they would need to be limited, becoming mortals instead of gods. It was this realization that led to the creation of Mundus - the Mortal Plane.

To create it, Lorkhan required the et'Ada to sunder themselves, mutilating their infinite “bodies” to enter the Mortal Plane and become trapped in it. Of course, the et'Ada wouldn’t want to let go of their own boundlessness, and so Lorkhan instead resorted to manipulation, convincing the et’Ada to follow his plan through trickery, wisdom, and force.

The et’Ada who followed along with Lorkhan's plan were greatly diminished in power and reach, becoming bound to the Mundus they created. The most powerful spirits among these maintained some semblance of their divinity, becoming the Aedra, while the weakest would become the Ehlnofey, the progenitors of all mortals.

Aka (Now in the fragmented aspect of Auri-El) would become enraged with Lorkhan's betrayal, and would rally an army against him. Some spirits sided with Lorkhan, however, and the two engaged in the War of Manifest Metaphors. The Ehlnofey who sided with Auri-El would give birth to the first elves, while those that sided with Lorkhan gave birth to the first men. Ultimately, the Aedra were victorious, and Lorkhan had his Heart ripped out and his body mutilated, with its rotten fragments remaining in the skies as the Moons

As their respective Ehlnofey ancestors fought on opposing sides of this War, Men and Mer possess different viewpoints on Lorkhan and the Mortal Plane. Most human cultures revere Lorkhan as a Creator Deity, and Father of Humanity, viewing the creation of the Mortal Plane as a blessing. Meanwhile, most elvish cultures (Particularly the Altmer) view the Mundus as a prison of flesh, and thus revile Lorkhan as a trickster devil, a Demiurge who trapped their souls within a false existence.

Ultimately, neither interpretation is wholly right or wrong. Through Mundus, Lorkhan sought to create a testing ground for transcendence, an Arena where souls would be most subject to change and suffering - and thus the perfect environment for them to one day escape from the prison that is the Dream.

Lorkhan is the Spirit of Nirn, and the god of all mortals. That does not mean all mortals necessarily like him or even know him. Most elves hate him, thinking creation as that act which sundered them from the spirit realm. Most Humans revere him, or aspects of him, as the herald of existence. The creation of the Mortal Plane, the Mundus, Nirn, is a source of mental anguish to all living things; all souls know deep down they came originally from somewhere else, and that Nirn is a cruel and crucial step to what comes next. What is this next? Some wish to return to the original state, the spirit realm, and that Lorkhan is the Demon that hinders their way; to them Nirn is a prison, an illusion to escape. Others think that Lorkhan created the world as the testing ground for transcendence; to them the spirit realm was already a prison, that true escape is now finally possible.
- Spirit of Nirn, God of Mortals

Only the Dunmer of Morrowind, out of all the races in Tamriel, truly understand this. Thanks to the Psijic Endeavor of Saint Veloth and the writings of the Living God Vivec, they see the Mortal Plane as a testing ground of great suffering, and that only by submitting to the ordeals set by Lorkhan they may achieve Apotheosis and overcome this existence. This understanding is what will ultimately set them apart from the other spirits of the Arena.

The Prisoner: The Hero Who Frees The World

In The Elder Scrolls series, it’s common knowledge that the Player Character often starts as a Prisoner with no background. This is a recurring element featured in almost every game since Arena, with the only exceptions coming from spin-off games such as Battlespire and Redguard. It is normally done so that the Players themselves can create their histories and immerse themselves in the world of the game, defining it as their own personal narrative. As Todd Howard likes to say:

Go where you want to! Be who you want to be!

However, unlike to what many think, this is not simply a convenience used because Bethesda is lazy and has a prison fetish, quite the contrary. In truth, the Prisoner is a cosmic constant which pervades throughout the Godhead's Dream.

Sotha Sil's dialogue in Elder Scrolls Online is likely the most straightforward indication that the Prisoner is a Cosmic Constant who holds great power, with the Clockwork God even stating that the Prisoner is free from deterministic fate and causality, thus being capable of making their own choices.

Sotha Sil: The Prisoner wields great power, making reality of metaphor. We will need you before the end.
Vestige: Why do you keep calling me the Prisoner?
Sotha Sil: A fool's hope, perhaps. I should explain.
Look around you. All of this exists because it must exist. I stand here, in this place, in this moment, not because I wish to, but because I have to. A result of action and consequence.
Vestige: So wouldn't that make you the prisoner?
Sotha Sil: Clever... but incorrect.
The Prisoner must apprehend two critical insights. First, they must face the reality of their imprisonment. They must see the determinative walls - the chains of causality that bind them to their course.
Vestige: You haven't done that?
Sotha Sil: I have. But I fall short of the second insight.
The Prisoner must see the door to their cell. They must gaze through the bars and perceive that which exists beyond causality. Beyond time. Only then can they escape.
Vestige: You don't see the door?
Sotha Sil: I see only unsteady walls.
If the people of Tamriel must exist inside this cell. I will make sure that the walls are stable, the gaps are sealed, and all who remain stay safe within it.
Vestige: I have no other questions.
Sotha Sil: I've met few heroes like you. Very few. I take this matter of the Triad upon myself, but in truth, you may be the one that saves us. The Prisoner who frees the world. We shall see.
Farewell.

Other indications of this idea can also be found in Elder Scrolls Online, with the Prophet and AI(OS), a Moth Priest who has read the Elder Scrolls and an A.I (Automata Incarnum) which administers the Clockwork City respectively, stating that the Vestige is a wound in the fabric of time which exists outside of all possibility.

AIOS: Beginning entity analysis. Entity exists outside known possipoints. Transitioning to general reception array.
Hello.
The Prophet: It's good to see you again. I do see you, in my own way. You are a wound in time, a tear in reality that shouldn't exist and cannot long endure.

However, this concept isn’t a retcon invented for Elder Scrolls Online, but rather a consistent idea that has been present in the series since The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. To begin, read the following Nerevarine Prophecies showcased in the game, and note how both of them emphasize how the Chosen Hero is a stranger, born under uncertain stars to uncertain parents.

“On a certain day to uncertain parents
Incarnate moon and star reborn.
Neither blight nor age can harm him.
The Curse-of-Flesh before him flies.
In caverns dark Azura's eye sees
And makes to shine the Moon and Star.
A stranger's voice unites the Houses.
Three Halls call him Hortator.
A stranger's hand unites the Velothi.
Four Tribes call him Nerevarine.”
- The Seven Visions
“When earth is sundered, and skies choked black,
And sleepers serve the seven curses,
To the hearth there comes a stranger,
Journeyed far 'neath Moon and Star.
Though stark-born to sire uncertain,
His aspect marks his certain fate.
Wicked stalk him, righteous curse him.
Prophets speak, but all deny.
Many trials make manifest
The stranger's fate, the curse's bane.
Many touchstones try the stranger.
Many fall, but one remains.”
- The Stranger

This may not seem like much proof, so let us look at the 36 Lessons of Vivec next. They also prophecize the coming of the Nerevarine, referring to the Hortator as the Ruling King:

“The ruling king is to stand against me and then before me. He is to learn from my punishment. I will mark him to know. He is to come as male or female. I am the form he must acquire.
Because a ruling king that sees in another his equivalent rules nothing.”
- The 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon Thirteen
“You have discovered the thirty-seventh Sermon of Vivec, which is a bending of the light, long past the chronicles of the Hortator who wore inconstant faces and ruled however they would, until apocalypse.”
- The 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon Thirty Seven

The first quote states that that the Nerevarine will come as male or female, and the second states that the Nerevarine wore inconstant faces and ruled however they would.

These quotes make reference to how the Nerevarine - as the Player Character - has his race, gender, appearance, and actions all determined by the player’s desires, rather by predetermined programming. An even more blatant example of this can be found in the C0DA Prequel, Landfall: Day One, where the Nerevarine is literally a shapeless, multi-racial being who quantum-vibrates between several forms:

PIC 1: Through the breach, the gigantic form of Akulakhan looks down at all of us, unreadable hope in its eyes. Its third eye is open, with the barely discernible head of the Nerevarine serving as its pilot, the gender and race either indistinct or, if you prefer to render it this way: simply just "quantum-vibrating" too fast to tell.
- Landfall: Day One

But there’s also something else at play. Look back at Sotha Sil’s quote from before:

“All of this exists because it must exist. I stand here, in this place, in this moment, not because I wish to, but because I have to. A result of action and consequence.
(...)
The Prisoner must apprehend two critical insights. First, they must face the reality of their imprisonment. They must see the determinative walls - the chains of causality that bind them to their course.
(...)
The Prisoner must see the door to their cell. They must gaze through the bars and perceive that which exists beyond causality. Beyond time. Only then can they escape.”

As previously established, the Elder Scrolls Universe is a Prison dreamt by the Godhead, and all beings in it are creations and manifestation of its Boundless consciousness. As such, they have no true Free Will of their own, as all their thoughts and actions are determined by chains of causality and consequence set by the Dreamer.

The Prisoner is the exception to this rule. They are able to perceive the truth of the Prison that surrounds then, and see the chains that bind them. Further, the Prisoner can see the door to their cell, and gaze through to see what lies outside, beyond time and determinist causality: Freedom.

“Unless, of course, there's a loophole. Say, something like the someone called the Dovahkiin happening to show up..."born under uncertain stars to uncertain parents." (An aside for extra credit: what in the Aurbis makes the Prisoner such a powerful mythic figure?)”
- Michael Kirkbride

This is why the Nerevarine is born to uncertain parents under uncertain stars, and is of either gender and any race. This is why the Vestige is a tear in reality that exists outside possibility. Because as Prisoners, they aren’t part of the Godhead’s determinist will, and are able to make choices for themselves.

Tonal Magic: Taking the Mantle of Myth

Taking a break from the complex metaphysics of the Dream, The Enantiamorph and Lorkhan, let us talk about what will likely be the simplest concept explored in this Blog: Mantling.

In the Elder Scrolls, reality itself is comprised of vibrations, Tones which exist as reflections of the Primal Wail of Nir and pervade across the entirety of the Dream as a Song, Gray Possibility that exists between Anu and Padomay. These Tones can be manipulated, reshaped and modeled in order to alter reality itself, and this is what is known as Tonal Architecture, a practice mainly known to the Dwemer, which are heavily hinted to be one of the races capable of “hearing” the Primal Wail in some way, thus having a natural impulse for shaping the Tones which are created in reflection of it.

Another name for this act is “Mythopoeia”, which describes the art of reshaping Mythical Forces and Archetypes which pervade through the Mundus and the Aurbis. The most well-known examples of it are the Dwemer making metals made of solid sound which don’t rust and are not subject to decay, as well as Kagrenac's Tools being used to form a physical shell for the The Heart of Lorkhan, with Yagrum Bagarn stating outright that said Tools were created in order to make “Mythopoeic Enchantments” - This also helps establish that the Heart of Lorkhan was not destroyed, only released of its physical form.

However, Tonal Manipulation does not serve only to create Metals which don't rust and to warp reality in a localized scale. The most powerful and absurd variation of it is called Tower-Dancing, the extremely difficult endeavour of metaphorically “dancing” in synchronicity with the Music of the Aurbis, and through this tapping into its power in order to manipulate reality in a vast scale, enough to reshape the very nature of the Gods themselves.

As foretold by the moth-eyed, Ayleid hubris was to bear bitter fruit. With their vision on high to behold the overworlds, they failed to note the seething Nedelings at their feet, until the thralls rose up and took their Tower away from them. Chim-el-Adabal they took as well, but not before the arch-mage Anumaril fangled an eightfold Staff of Towers, each segment a semblance of a tower in its Dance. And then seven of these segments were borne by White-Gold Knights to distant Fold-Places, where they were hidden.
(This was all unknown to Pelin-al-Essia, be certain, or there might have been a different Eight Divines!)
- Aurbic Enigma 4
It is what the Maruhkati Selective enacted in order to split the Cyrodiilic Dragon God of Time Akatosh from his Elven Counterpart, Auri-El. Upon dancing atop of the White-Gold Tower, they could reach a state of Monothought which echoed Lorkhan's Tower induced-epiphany, and through this they split the God of Time, causing the Dawn Era to return, an event known as the Middle Dawn.
Scholar-priests of the Alessian Order tamper with the Dragon God of Time.
A fanatical sect of the Alessian Order, the Marukhati Selective, becomes frustrated by ancient Aldmeri traditions still present within the theological system of the Eight Divines. Specifically, they hated any admission that Akatosh, the Supreme Spirit, was indisputably also Auriel, the Elven High God.
Newly invented rituals were utilized to disprove this theory, to no avail. Finally, the secret masters of the Marukhati Selective channeled the Aurbis itself to mythically remove those aspects of the Dragon God they disapproved of. A staff or tower appeared before them. The secret masters danced on it until it writhed and trembled and spoke its protonymic.
The tower split into eight pieces and Time broke. The non-linearity of the Dawn Era had returned.
- Where Were You when the Dragon Broke? (Michael Kirkbride's Out-Of-Game Version)
Though all given Concavities, or sheathes within the integument of the Aurbis, are necessarily contained by the Aurbis, Right Reaching dictates that a defined sheath may be detached from the integument by invocation of Mnemoli. Upon intercourse with the star-orphan, the Beseeching Alesstic performs eversion of the organ of thought, an employment of the Hurling Disk that recapitulates the truth that a circle turned sidewise is a Tower. By same-truth, twisting the enveloping sheath into the middle dawn (to the number of seventeen) brings it to untime and unplace.
Eventualism, of course, predicts reabsorption upon depletion of the Wheeling Force, but the absence of duration may render even eventuality moot.
- On the Detachment of the Sheath

Vivec also references Tower-Dancing in his trial. However, he did not Dance in a Mythical Tower to shape the Mundus. Rather, he danced in the Tower witnessed by Lorkhan to shape the Aurbis itself, tapping into CHIM.

Vivec: Now, I climb you, Moon and Moon, and dance on your Tower!
- The Trial of Vivec

Tonal Shenanigans do not occur only through forceful and mechanical process though, the collective perceptions and beliefs of the inhabitants of the Mundus can also reshape the Multiverse at large, and forge their very own Mythopoeic Enchantments. This phenomena of Mythic Manipulation is what gave birth to Gods such as Shor, a Nordic Aspect of the Space God Lorkhan, and Baan Dar, a Khajiiti Thief who was elevated to the status of a Rogue Plane.

Now that we established a solid basis for this section, we shall now move on to the main topic: What exactly is Mantling?

Surprisingly, to explain this concept, it is necessary to firstly quote a passage from the Bible:

When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.
Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to Bethel.”
But Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.
The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?”
“Yes, I know,” Elisha replied, “so be quiet.”
Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha; the Lord has sent me to Jericho.”
And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho.
The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?”
“Yes, I know,” he replied, “so be quiet.”
Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.”
And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on.
Fifty men from the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”
“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.
“You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.”
As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.
Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two.
Elisha then picked up Elijah’s mantle that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.
He took the mantle that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.
The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, “The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha.” And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him.

In this passage, as he is about to be taken to the Heavens by a carriage of fire, Elijah passes down his Mantle to his disciple, Elisha, symbolically representing him passing down his role as the Prophet of the God of Israel to him. Upon seeing this, Prophets from Jericho proceed to claim that Elijah's spirit now rests on Elisha.

Essentially, Mantling is the act of metaphorically taking up the mantle of an absent mythical figure which had some importance in the history of the Elder Scrolls, and thus becoming so indistinguishable from said individual that you end up becoming them. Such an event happens either by inheriting the role of a certain individual, or by (re)enacting it through a Prophecy or Mythical Event. Either way, the ending result of Mantling is your Nymic Tone, the essence that makes up your being, being rewritten, be it by the Mythopoeic influences of society, or by passive intervention of reality itself.

Fittingly, The 36 Lessons of Vivec describes Mantling as the Third Walking Way through which one can ascend to divinity and escape the prison of the Dream, being consisted of the collective madness and hysteria of society, which can be explored by those with Wisdom in order to replace one Law with another without disrupting any system, even if the result is incoherent, and still state that they are working within the same method.

"The third walking path explores hysteria without fear. The efforts of madmen are a society of itself, but only if they are written. The wise may substitute one law for another, even into incoherence, and still say he is working within a method. This is true of speech and extends to all scripture."
- 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon Twenty Seven

Another thing that further supports this concept is one of Michael Kirkbride's statements, which explains Mantling as the act of being so special at replacing a certain individual that no person ever remembers the time where you simply weren't said individual all along.

"Lots of things are objects. We need some restrictions to define our explorations before we go buck wild. At its root, you might be on to a very cool idea. And something pretty close to the famous theft of a famous thing.
Are we:
Limiting the term "object" to a normally non-sentient physical item or tool normally considered mundane? Ex. a rake that has not been enchanted/cursed/used by a famous magic user nor host to a demon, god, or hero?
Let's say YES
Is this rake observed in any way by "regular" mortals? Ex. the farmer that uses the rake.
OR
Is this rake observed only by other normal farmer tools? Ex. tools sitting in the farmer's shed, forgotten.
OR
Is this rake observed by no one except the interior of the shed? Ex. Self-explanatory.
OR
Is this rake observed by no one since there is no light showing in the interior of the shed? Ex. the farmstead and shed are either buried underground or under the shadow of a month-long eclipse? For these examples, let's remove any mythical forces associated with the Underworld, nature, Oblivion, the Moons, Magnus, etc.
Pick one or more
Is the normal use of the rake required but there is no one to use the rake? Ex. the autumn leaves are piling too high.
And so on. Start with this rake within these limits. Try to make the rake do something so special at being another tool that it supplants that tool so much that no one remembers when the rake wasn't just that tool all along.
- Michael Kirkbride

Unexpectedly, the two best examples of Mantling are all in-game, and in the same game at that! The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, to be more specific.

In the Shivering Isles Expansion, the Champion of Cyrodiil is taken to the titular Realm of Oblivion and meets with the Daedric Prince of Madness, Sheogorath. There, he is tasked stopping the Greymarch - A recurring event where the Prince of Order, Jyggalag, takes over the Shivering Isles before destroying them completely.

Eventually, it is revealed that Sheogorath and Jyggalag are one and the same, and the Champion of Cyrodill is unable to stop the Prince of Order’s return. However, the situation is ultimately averted as the Champion takes Sheogorath’s mantle as the Prince of Madness, obtaining his power and wielding his Staff in battle against Jyggalag, ending the Greymarch in the process. In doing so, the Champion of Cyrodill becomes the “New Sheogorath”, with there being no real difference between the Old Sheogorath, and the New one.

In fact, the concept of mantling is alluded to many times in the Shivering Isles - in the game’s synopsis, in Jyggalag and Haskill’s dialogue, and in a quote from developer Kurt Kuhlmann - all dealing with the player character ultimately taking Sheogorath’s place as the Prince of Madness.

"Do you have the strength to survive his trials, tame a realm fraught with paranoia and despair, and wear the mantle of a God?"
- Official Shivering Isles Synopsis
"Now, though, you have ended the cycle. You now hold the mantle of madness, and Jyggalag is free to roam the voids of Oblivion once more. I will take my leave, and you will remain here, mortal. Mortal...? King? God? It seems uncertain. This Realm is yours. Perhaps you will grow to your station. Fare thee well, Sheogorath, Prince of Madness."
- Jyggalag
"You've done it! Well done, Lord Sheogorath. I never doubted you for a moment. Now, of course, there is business to attend to. As you have assumed the mantle of Sheogorath, there are matters that deserve your attention. As lord of this Realm, there are a number of benefits to which you are entitled, as well as a number of duties to which you must attend.
(...)
You may also summon entertainment to your throne room. Your predecessor found this most invigorating. Speak with me if you wish entertainment. You also have the ability to affect the weather in your Realm. As it is an extension of yourself, it will often have an effect on you, as well."
- Haskill
"By defeating Jyggalag, the player breaks the curse and assumes the mantle of the Prince of Madness."
- Kurt Kuhlmann

And then we have the Knights of the Nine Expansion, which takes place before Shivering Isles, and has the Champion of Cyrodiil going on a quest to unite the titular order of knights, and reassemble the Divine Armor of Pelinal Whitestrake. In doing so, the Champion becomes the prophecised rebirth of Pelinal, and is outright stated to be his Embodiment by the Prophet, who is implied to be an avatar of Talos. Pelinal’s own spirit also states that many other heroes have wore his armor in times of crisis, hinting that Pelinal’s rebirth is a recurring event in the history of Cyrodiil:

Pelinal Whitestrake: Hail knight! You seek my Relics with a worthy heart! Your prayers have woken me from my endless dream. Or perhaps you have entered my dream, and I still sleep. I think others have sometimes spoken to me, others like you, but my memory is doubtful. Perhaps the others came after you. Your need must be great for the gods to allow us to speak. Has Umaril the Accursed found a way back? The foulest of a foul race. A thousand curses upon his unholy name! I thought I'd won. But I should have known. The Slavemasters are a cunning breed. Umaril found a way to cheat death, as I could not. If you would seek for my Relics, I know little that can help you. All that has passed since my death is like mist that my mind cannot take hold of. My friends built a shrine upon the site of my death, where the Elves tormented me in a final act of revenge. I can show you where it once stood. Perhaps it is there still. Fare thee well, sir knight. May the gods grant you to destroy Umaril utterly, as I failed to do.
- Knights of the Nine
The Prophet: You have stepped from the humble shadows of obscurity and into legend. No feat you have accomplished in your life compares to what you have become. You are an embodiment of Pelinal Whitestrake, the bane of Umaril the Unfeathered. The time has come for you to fulfill your destiny. Umaril lies hid in the ancient fane of Garlas Malatar. You must go there and destroy him.
- Knights of the Nine

Having explained all that, I think it's time to talk about the most important and significant act of Mantling in the Elder Scrolls Universe: The Mantling of Lorkhan by Talos. To begin, the quote which introduces this idea (Which is also the quote which first features “Mantling” as a word):

Tiber Septim: "The Stormcrown mantled by way of the fourth: the steps of the dead. Mantling and incarnation are separate roads; do not mistake this. The latter is built from the cobbles of drawn-bone destiny. The former: walk like them until they must walk like you. This is the death children bring as the Sons of Hora."
- Nu-Hatta of the Sphinxmoth Inquiry Tree

To explain how this occurred we have to establish one essential idea: Talos isn’t a singular entity in the conventional sense, neither as a God nor as a Mortal. He is in truth an Oversoul comprised of three different individuals: The immortal Atmoran King, Ysmir Wulfharth; The mysterious Archmage, Zurin Arctus; and the seemingly ordinary young chieftain, Hjalti Early-Beard.

Although these three appear to be completely different people, they are in fact united by one common trait: All of them are Shezarines, mortal incarnations or manifestations of the God Lorkhan - each embodying a different aspect of Talos, and simultaneously representing an individual part of the Triad of Prime Constellations; The Warrior (Wulfharth), The Mage (Arctus) and the Thief (Hjalti).

These three would ally themselves in a shared goal of conquering and uniting Tamriel, made possible only through the combination of their individual strengths. And, for political and strategic purposes, they would all act under one shared identity: General Talos Stormcrown, later to be crowned Tiber Septim. And in doing so, they often impersonated one another.

Zurin Arctus, the Grand Battlemage (not the Underking), then crowns Hjalti as Tiber Septim, new Emperor of All Cyrodiil. After he captures the Imperial Throne, Septim finds the initial administration of a fully united Cyrodiil a time-consuming task. He sends the Underking to deal with Imperial expansion into Skyrim and High Rock. Ysmir, mindful that it might seem as if Tiber Septim is in two places at once, works behind the scenes. This period of levelheaded statesmanship and diplomacy, this sudden silence, heretofore unknown in the roaring tales of Talosian conquest, are explained away later.
- The Arcturian Heresy

However, in these constant acts of impersonations and shared identities, the three Shezarines would go on to unite the provinces of Tamriel in a way that perfectly echoed Lorkhan’s persuasion of the et'Ada and the creation of Mundus: Through Wisdom (As Zurin Arctus, the Mage), through Force (As Ysmir Wulfharth, the Warrior), and through Trickery (As Hjalti, the Thief). And given what we’ve already established about the Elder Scrolls Universe, it is no surprise that their act had incredibly significant mythic consequences.

Hjalti, Wulfharth, and Arctus went from merely impersonating one another, to actively embodying and becoming each other, ultimately merging as aspects of a single Oversoul: Talos, anon Tiber Septim.

The second to see the Brass God was the Enantiomorph. You may know them individually as Zurin Arctus and Talos. The Oversoul was known to the world as Tiber Septim.
- Skeleton Man's Interview with Denizens of Tamriel
The Prophet: And Talos said to the Arctus, "Let us join as one to fortify this throne, this land, these people, each one glorious under heaven!"
- Knights of the Nine
And it was of the Tower that my emperor wanted to hear. He was dying and I loved him yet. He, too, was a Master and so I knew that he realized just how big a realm that the Tower encompassed. I am sure that when I meet the Warrior and Arctus again, they will have brought similar burdens.
- Vehk’s Teaching

The Talos Oversoul, itself comprised of three Shezarines united through mythic reenactment, would ascend to divinity by way of a process known as CHIM (More about it later), and in doing so took Lorkhan’s mantle as the Ninth God in the Heavens. Because at that point Talos resembled Lorkhan so much that there was no true difference between them. They were no longer two different entities, but One, a Two-Headed Ruling King:

Vivec then saw the moths that would come from the starry heart, bringing with them dust more horrible than the ash of Red Mountain. He saw the twin head of a ruling king who had no equivalent. And eight imperfections rubbed into precious stones, set into a crown that looked like shackles, which he understood to be. the twin crowns of the two-headed king. And a river that fed into the mouth of the two-headed king, because he contained multitudes.
- The 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon Nineteen

For further explanations on this, and proof that I’m not simply making up crazy theories, see the following quote by Michael Kirkbride:

“Think of the mystical power of Reenactment.
What did Lorkhan do to solidify the plans for the Mundus? Oh, I dunno, he tricked, promised, betrayed, and made concessions to the various "rulers" of the etada, right? Sounds like the summary, only a few existence lenses down.
And, just like the varying accounts of how that Convention and its consequences have become murky with Time and myth, so too is Tiber's ascension to the first true Emperor of all of Tamriel. Accident? No way.
As above, so below, and that's how you do it. Especially when there's a hole just ready to fill.
Hope that helps.”
- Michael Kirkbride

CHIM: The Secret Syllable of Royalty

The Way of Mastery is to break all the rules—but you have to know them perfectly before you can do this; otherwise you are not in a position to transcend them.
~ Aleister Crowley
Now, it is time to actually take a step up in the ladder of complexity, and explain an extremely important concept in The Elder Scrolls, whose meaning is often heavily misinterpreted or dismissed as contradictory New Age nonsense by many who try to delve in the endeavour that is learning the series’ Lore: The Concept of CHIM.

It is important to remember and memorize that the entirety of the Elder Scrolls Universe is ruled and defined by a simple Formula - I ARE ALL WE. The idea that the entirety of the Elder Scrolls Setting is comprised of nothing but pure Oneness, as duality is an artificial concept only perceived as real by those bound by the illusions of Time and Space, and all things are in truth the Dreams of the Godhead, insignificant and devoid of intrinsic essence to the point of being said to not exist at all

Such a concept is projected in the very structure of the Aurbis itself. It is a Wheel, a “ O “ which when turned sideways becomes the letter “ I “, the True Name of God, and the Hidden True Self which lies inside of the Universal Self. Further reinforcing the notion that the Godhead embodies everything, and pervades over all.

What is the Tower?
The Tower is an ideal, which, in our world of myth and magic, means that it is so real that it becomes dangerous. It is the existence of the True Self within the Universal Self, and is embodied by the fourth constellation, and is guarded by the Thief, the third. The Thief is another metaphorical absolute; in this case, he represents the “taking of the Tower” or, and sometimes more importantly, the “taking” of the Tower’s secret.
- Vehk's Teaching: the Tower

To behold the grand structure of the Aurbis as the Tower is to realize the True Nature of the Universe, and to become aware of the fact that all things, including oneself, are not real in any sense of the word, and are merely a part of a great Mass of Union with no distinction or parts which comprise a whole, as all is whole. Through this, one looks past the illusory concepts of Time and Space and Duality imprinted into the Aurbis by the Eternal Aka and his inconstant mirror-brother Lorkhan, and overwhelmed by the Truth of all things, ceases to be from the Dream itself, becoming unhinged from all Concept and dissolving like a drop of Water falling into an Ocean, as the chains that made up who they are became naught to them.

This event is known as Zero-Sum, as it is the convergence of the Illusion that you exist and the Fact you do not exist into a single thing (-1 + 1 = 0)

However, if one beholds the Tower of the Aurbis and realizes their role and position within the Dream of the Godhead, submitting themselves with all their senses to the undeniable truth and horror that they are not truly real, yet manage to maintain their own being and individuality, surviving the Dissolution into Nothingness that is Zero-Sum, they achieve CHIM.

While it is primarily a sigil of the Ehlnofex language, which translates to “Royalty” (or Starlight and High Splendour), the word CHIM is mainly used to describe a State of Existence wherein one becomes unhinged and free from the concepts of Time, Space and Duality upon seeing the Aurbis as the Tower, but retain their own Self and Consciousness by having the sheer Will to proclaim themself as an existent being, whilst still fully accepting and embracing the truth of reality.

What is the Tower’s secret?
How to permanently exist beyond duplexity, antithesis, or trouble. This is not an easy concept, I know. Imagine being able to feel with all of your senses the relentless alien terror that is God and your place in it, which is everywhere and therefore nowhere, and realizing that it means the total dissolution of your individuality into boundless being. Imagine that and then still being able to say “I”. The “I” is the Tower.
- Vehk’s Teaching: The Tower
Fifth:
Look at the majesty sideways and all you see is the Tower, which our ancestors made idols from. Look at its center and all you see is the begotten hole, second serpent, womb-ready for the Right Reaching, exact and without enchantment.'
Sixth:
'The heart of the second serpent holds the secret triangular gate.'
Seventh:
'Look at the secret triangular gate sideways and you see the secret Tower.'
Eighth:
'The secret Tower within the Tower is the shape of the only name of God, I.'
- The 36 Lessons of Vivec: Sermon Twenty One

Through this, an individual identifies themself with the Tower that is the Aurbis, adding an “I AM” to the “I ARE ALL WE” formula (I AM AND I ARE ALL WE) and attaining a state where they exist in Unity with the Aurbis, while simultaneously remaining as an Individual being who transcends it altogether, existing unbound by Mortality and the laws of reality established by the Gods, as dictated by the teachings of the Prophet Veloth and the Three Good Daedra (Boethiah, Azura and Mephala)

What is the Psijic Endeavor?
The basis for the teachings of the Prophet Veloth, founder of present day Morrowind and father of Dunmeri culture. Veloth describes the Psijic Endeavor as a process of glorious apotheosis, where time itself is bent inward and outward into 'a shape that is always new'. Those who can attain this state, called chim, experience an ineffable sense of the godhead, escape the structures of the world-egg.
- Vehk’s Teaching: More on the Psijic Endeavor
What is the purpose of the Psijic Endeavor?
To transcend mortal boundaries set in place by immortal rulers. At its simplest, the state of chim provides an escape from all known laws of the divine worlds and the corruptions of the black sea of Oblivion. It is a return to the first brush of Anu-Padomay, where stasis and change created possibility. Moreso, it the essence needed to hold that 'dawning' together without disaster. One that knows CHIM observes the Tower without fear. Moreso: he resides within.
- Vehk’s Teaching: More on the Psijic Endeavor

To further reinforce this, the Tower is also called an Ideal which both opens and closes the way to Freedom, as it both encloses all beings within its vastness, but also holds the Key to transcendence, which one can achieve by beholding it and obtaining CHIM.

What protecteth ye Celestials e'en as it supports the very world? The Tower, that both opens and closes the Way. Make therefore thy shield so it be strong as the Tower, closing the way to the weapons of thy foes, yet opening when thou smitest on thine own account.
- Crafting Motif 41: Celestial

As seen above, CHIM and the Tower are also connected to the Archetype of the Thief which pervades through the Aurbis as a whole, as the Thief can be said to be the one who “steals” the Tower's Secret, that is, that state which exists beyond Duplexity and Opposition, and allows for ascendence beyond the boundaries of the Aurbis. In fact, the Thief is described as the one who unlocks the “Door” by unhinging the Lock, and breaks free of their Prison.

Now you really start to wonder why only Lorkhan, Talos and Vivec were known to possess CHIM.

Are there no ears to hear the warnings? Are there no eyes to witness the Wheel's breaking? The Eight and One favor only the righteous! And too few of you remain! The Thief has found the lock that he cannot break! The Warrior, the foe that cannot fall! The Wizard, an incantation that takes not to his tongue! Truly this is the Age of the Serpent and the Void that follows!
- The Prophet

Upon obtaining the state of Royalty that is CHIM, one becomes the Individual known as the Ruling King, a singular being who stands above all forms of duality and possesses no equivalent, whose control extends over all parts of the Aurbis and beyond, as they essentially reached a state of “Lucid Dreaming” within the wider Dream of the Godhead, gaining the capability to shape its underlying structure at will.

The waking world is the amnesia of dream. All motifs can be mortally wounded. Once slain, themes turn into the structure of future nostalgia. Do not abuse your powers or they will lead you astray. They will become lost and resentful and finally become pregnant with the seed of folly. Soon you will be the grandparent of a broken state. You will be mocked. It will fall apart like a stone that recalls that it is really water.
Keep nothing in your house that is neither needed or beautiful.
Ordeals you should face unimpeded by the world of restriction. The splendor of stars is Ayem's domain. The selfishness of the sea is Seht's. I rule the middle air. All else is earth and under your temporal command.
(...)
The ruling king that sees in another his equivalent rules nothing.
The secret of weapons is this: they are the mercy seat.
The secret of language is this: it is immobile.
The ruling king is armored head to toe in brilliant flame. He is redeemed by each act he undertakes. His death is only a diagram back to the waking world. He sleeps the second way. The Sharmat is his double, and therefore you wonder if you rule nothing.
- The 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon Eleven
"The secret syllable of royalty is this: (You must learn this elsewhere.)
The temporal myth is man.
The magical cross is an integration of the worth of mortals at the expense of their spirits. Surround it with the triangle and you begin to see the Triune house. It becomes divided into corners, which are ruled by our brethren, the Four Corners: BAL DAGON MALAC SHEOG. Rotate the triangle and you pierce the heart of the Beginning Place, the foul lie, the testament of the irrefutable-for-a-span. Above them all is the horizon where only one stands, though no one stands there yet. It is proof of the new. It is the promise of the wise. Unfold the whole and what you have is a star, which is not my domain, but not entirely outside my judgment. The grand design takes flight; it is transformed not only into a star but a hornet. The center cannot hold. It becomes devoid of lines and points. It becomes devoid of anything and so becomes a receptacle. This is its usefulness at the end. This is its promise.
(...)
The ruling king is to stand against me and then before me. He is to learn from my punishment. I will mark him to know. He is to come as male or female. I am the form he must acquire.
Because a ruling king that sees in another his equivalent rules nothing."
- The 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon Thirteen
“The ruling king will remove me, his maker. This is the way of all children. His greatest enemy is the Sharmat, who is the false dreamer. You or he is the shingle, Hortator. Beware the wrong walking path. Beware the crime of benevolence. Behold him by his words.
(...)
You alone, though you come again and again, can unmake him. Whether I allow it is within my wisdom. Go unarmed into his den with these words of power: AE GHARTOK PADHOME [CHIM] AE ALTADOON. Or do not. The temporal myth is man. Reach heaven by violence. This magic I give to you: the world you will rule is only an intermittent hope and you must be the letter written in uncertainty.”
- The 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon Fifteen

Examples of Reality Warping feats done through CHIM are Talos Stormcrown / Tiber Septim warping Cyrodiil from a Jungle to a land of temperate climate. This change affected Cyrodiil not only on the present, but across all of Time, and was confirmed to have objectively happened by Mankar Camoran:

And after the throne of Alinor did finally break at the feet of Men, and news of it came to the Dragon Emperor in Cyrodiil, he gathered his captains and spoke to them, saying:
'You have suffered for me to win this throne, and I see how you hate jungle. Let me show you the power of Talos Stormcrown, born of the North, where my breath is long winter. I breathe now, in royalty, and reshape this land which is mine. I do this for you, Red Legions, for I love you.'
- From the Many-Headed Talos
CHIM. Those who know it can reshape the land. Witness the home of the Red King Once Jungled.
- Commentaries on the Mysterium Xarxes, Book Three

Tiber Septim also performed numerous other feats through CHIM, such as: Changing the “color” of the Moons, realigning the constellations of Aetherius, and rewriting events from history and memory. This helps reinforce the notion that the Ruling King has complete control over the Aurbis:

Duadeen wondered if the pirate could give any kind of version at all now. Every time the Emperor shouted, things went violent and awkward. One shout after another. Even the snow looked a different color, gone a bit brown from the dirt stirred up underneath, or the sweat which all of them contributed to, the animals as well, as the horses had never liked it, this shouting and those Imperial aurochs, snorting their bellows-hearted move to go, but all including the moons made to look by the red diamond men and small militia, even Duadeen’s own small contribution, professional scofflaws and hard men of worth; their retainers were exceeding high to the robber-baron of the Way Rest, but probably nothing in contrast, not even worth a spoken well-done, to this new and two-headed crown in at least many ways reborn.
- Tiber Septim’s Sword-Meeting with Cyrus the Restless
“I’m sproutin’ flowers here, make it soon.”
Fornower was glad now he had his glimmerwelt. “I’m fine. Lizards don’t seem to want to lace around my head at all. Now who’s laughing?”
Why aren’t we remembering our dead, Chemli wondered, and then petals. “Petals,” she said.
“It’s all in our heads,” Cyrus said. “Stay good.”
“Oh,” Thorpe smirked, licking a mushroom knuckle, “Forgot about that. Treaties and all. The Hist just broke it, right? Easy enough. Petals.”
They were losing it. Commands were needed.
“You’re losing it, Thorpe,” Cyrus said, “Trees aren’t dumb enough to fall into a sunbird’s wake sitting on the edge of the Accord. Unless.”
“Unless there’s no more Accord,” Gar finished. “Yessir, look, the stars are moving, meaning the constellations went wet again.”
Cyrus started jogging towards the Colony, westward in berth, hoping the others would know best to follow. They did, Thorpe trailing a visible lily scent.
“Went wet? How do you mean?” Jill asked. She ran fast even as she studied the new plant life above her.
“Sorry, I forget you’re young to the Carrick. By ‘wet’ I mean they slid off our maps. Only the Emperor can do that, change which stars mean what. What it really means is that the birth signs are even getting out the way.”
“Petals.”
“Yeah, that’s the short version.”
- Tiber Septim’s Sword-Meeting with Cyrus the Restless
Tiber: “And the Hist now twice shamed, though I suppose I should thank you for that, at least. The one version of this place where you did cut the atomos to make my friend look foolish? You don’t even remember that because I had to make it right again. I am tired of always standing against breakers of worlds with a grudge to fulfill. You are not a myth. You are not a story.”
- Tiber Septim’s Sword-Meeting with Cyrus the Restless

Again, the 36 Lessons of Vivec also state that the Ruling King is capable of fully manipulating the themes and motifs present in the Song that is the Aurbis as they please, as well as breaking and warping the Laws of Reality defined and embodied by the Earthbones:

"Ordeals you should face unimpeded by the world of restriction. The splendor of stars is Ayem's domain. The selfishness of the sea is Seht's. I rule the middle air. All else is earth and under your temporal command. There is no bone that cannot be broken, except for the heart bone. You will see it twice in your lifetimes. Take what you can the first time and let us do the rest.
- The 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon Eleven

However, as the quote above indicates, there are limitations to the control of the Ruling King: These being the Heart of Lorkhan, as mentioned above, and the Moons Masser and Secunda. This is doubtlessly because all three are parts of the corpse of the being who was not only an et'Ada, but the Original Ruling King who beheld the Tower as well.

So to quiet his mind the Hortator chose from the Fight Racks an axe. He named it and moved on to the first moon.
There, Nerevar was greeted by the Parliament of Craters, who knew him by title and resented his presence, for he was to be a ruling king of earth and this was the lunar realm. They shifted around him in a pattern of entrapment.
'The moon does not recognize crowns or scepters,' they said, 'nor the representatives of kingdoms below, lion or serpent or mathematician. We are the graves of those that have migrated and become ancient countries. We seek no Queens or thrones. Your appearance is decidedly solar, which is to say a library of stolen ideas. We are neither tear nor sorrow. Our revolution succeeded in the manner that is was written. You are the Hortator and unwelcome here.'
- The 36 Lessons of Vivec: Sermon Sixteen
“What happened?” From Chemli, taking the scrub’s shoulder.
“It’s just him being loud,” Cyrus said, sliding down the crater’s rim. “The Emperor. He’s scared. He can't bend this place [Masser] to his will. Death doesn’t work right here. Coyle, how is everyone doing?”
- Tiber Septim’s Sword-Meeting with Cyrus the Restless

Thelema: The Mastery of Love Under Will

Before we can tackle the final and most complex subject of this Blog, we need to take a step sideways, and talk about Thelema and its influence in the Elder Scrolls Metaphysics. But to begin, what exactly is Thelema?

Thelema (Ancient Greek for Will) is the spiritual philosophy / religion developed by infamous hermetic occultist Aleister Crowley, which began in 1904 with the writing of the Liber Al vel Legis (The Book of the Law). The writings and books of Thelema are often strange, confusing, and esoteric, borrowing elements from Egyptian Mythology, Jewish Kaballah, Hermeticism, etc. but it’s main philosophy can be summed up in the following two sentences from the Liber Legis:

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”
“Love is the law, love under will.”

Don’t worry if that didn’t make any sense to you yet, I promise that by the end of this section you’ll understand it (Probably).

But to make a long story short, Thelema and Aleister Crowley in general have had a massive influence in the Elder Scrolls universe, its themes, cosmology, and philosophical concepts - Mainly because Michael Kirkbride is a Gnostic Thelemite himself. And so to truly understand the most complex ideas in his Elder Scrolls writings, we have to also take a look at Thelema and the direct parallels we can drawn between them.

To begin, Love.

Love is a concept often talked about in the 36 Lessons of Vivec (A text which contains entire lines taken straight from the Liber Legis with little to no modification), usually in reference to Vivec and CHIM as a whole. The incredibly confusing 35th Sermon is outright titled “The Scripture of Love”, and talks about the concept at great length. But what is Love?

Well, one thing’s for certain, Thelemic Love has almost nothing to do with the emotion love. To quote Crowley himself:

“The Formula of Tetragrammaton is the complete mathematical expression of Love. Its essence is this: any two things unite, with a double effect; firstly, the destruction of both, accompanied by the ecstasy due to the relief of the strain of separateness; secondly, the creation of a third thing, accompanied by the ecstasy of the realisation of existence, which is Joy until with development it becomes aware of its imperfection, and loves.
This formula of Love is universal; all the laws of Nature are its servitors. Thus, gravitation, chemical affinity, electrical potential, and the rest—and these are alike mere aspects of the general law—are so many differently-observed statements of the unique tendency.
The Universe is conserved by the duplex action involved in the formula. The disappearance of Father and Mother is precisely compensated by the emergence of Son and Daughter. It may therefore be considered as a perpetual-motion-engine which continually develops rapture in each of its phases.”
- Little Essays Towards Truth: Love
To us, however, this matter is not one for regret; it is (like every phenomenon) an Act of Love. And the very definition of such Act is the Passing Beyond of two Events into a Third, and their withdrawal into Silence or Nothingness by simultaneous reaction. In this sense it may be said that the Universe is a constant issue into Trance; and in fact the proper understanding of any Event by means of the suitable Contemplation should produce the type of Trance appropriate to the complex Event-Individual in the case.
- Little Essays Towards Truth: Trance

Essentially, Thelemic Love is the event where two opposing yet complementary elements look past the illusion we call “Duality”, realizing that they are in fact single unified whole. Through this, they annihilate the concept of multiplicity that unbinds them, and “destroy” themselves through the joy of dissolution, thus creating a third thing which contains characteristics of both elements, yet ultimately transcends them.

The Formula of Love is universal, and expressed in all things, from the creation of existence, through the act of childbirth, all the way down to the interaction between protons and electrons.

This is true in the Elder Scrolls Universe as well, through the concept of Subgradience, best explained in the aptly titled “Loveletter from the 5th Era”:

“All creation is subgradient. First was Void, which became split by AE. Anu and Padomay came next and with their first brush came the Aurbis.
Void to Aurbis: naught to pattern.
The marriages of the Aether describe the birth of all magic. Like a pregnant [untranslatable], the Aurbis exploded with its surplus. Will formed and, with it, the Potential to Action. This is the advent of the first Digitals: mantellian, mnemolia, the aetherial realm of the etada. The Head of this order is Magnus, but he is not its Ward, for even he was subcreated by the birth of Akatosh.
Aurbis to Aetherius: possibility to maintenance by time.
Lull calls this a refutation of sorts, but the wise may know it as the first appearance of Nu-Mantia, which is Liberty. Rather, the road to Liberty.
Another subcreation happened to the wheels of the etada, a shore that all of creation crashed against, the terminus of limits known as Oblivion. An echo of the Void before but unalike, many spirits fled here and came to power by merely harnessing the impossibility of Limit+All.
Aetherius to Oblivion: creation to destruction.
We begin to see the first inkling of emergence, which by its nature requires the merging of two-fold powers. Inevitably, this leads to another gradient, but this time by forceful process: the Trap of the Lunar God. The Aedra are Named at this time, having lent their hands to what was to be the arena of the eternally impossible: Mundus, or Exactness.
Oblivion to Mundus: debris of all possibility to anchor of all things.”
- The Loveletter from the 5th Era: The True Purpose of Tamriel

Essentially, the Elder Scrolls universe is defined by subgradience, an act metaphorically compared to a marriage, where two-fold powers merge to give birth to a new gradient in echo / mirror of themselves. This process is an universal expression of Love, which begins with the start of the Dream itself, and stretches all the way down to the Final Subgradient below Mortal Death, through which the current Dream can end and a new Dream can be birthed.

The concepts of Love and Subgradience are also discussed in other texts. For example, Xarxes and Oghma, where the god explains the act of Marriage as the merging of Two into One:

"I am to be married," she said aloud. "Xarxes, is this what I want? Or just what I must do?"
He rose from her book in silence, measuring her worth.
"Marriage joins two as one," he said. He wrote in the dirt with a dark oak staff, creating a river.
"This is one," Xarxes said. He wrote again. The terrain changed, splitting the river in two as it flowed over a newly-formed cliff. He stepped to its edge and beckoned to her.
"Two become one," he said softly in her ear, pointing over the edge at the twin falls joining together in a pool below.
"Should I marry then?"
"One can travel quite far alone, or together. Which do you prefer?"
- Xarxes and Oghma

And, more broadly, in the 36 Lessons of Vivec, which establishes that the concepts of Love (Creation) and Violence (Destruction) are one and the same. Subgradience is referred both as the Primordial Marriages which define the universe (The Dream of the Godhead), and the Catastrophes which will bring its end.

'For I have crushed a world with my left hand,' he will say, 'but in my right hand is how it could have won against me. Love is under my will only.'
- The 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon One
The fourth spirit came with the fifth, for they were cousins. They could ghost touch and probed inside the egg to find its core. Some say Vivec at this point was shaped like a star with its penumbra broken off; others, that it looked like a revival of vanished forms.
'From my side of the family,' the first cousin said, 'I bring you a series of calamities that will bring about the end of the universe.'
'And from my side,' the second cousin said, 'I bring you all the primordial marriages that must happen within them, each one.'
- The 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon Two
Later, and by that I mean much, much later, my reign will be seen as an act of the highest love, which is a return from the astral destiny and the marriages between. By that I mean the catastrophes, which will come from all five corners. Subsequent are the revisions, differentiated between hope and the distraught, situations that are only required by the periodic death of the immutable.
- The 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon Thirty Five

Considering all of this, it is truly no wonder that Vivec would attain CHIM, the Mastery of Love Under Will. As a reflection of Mephala, Vivec holds dominion over the Concepts of Sex and Murder, Creation and Destruction respectively, the expressions of Love through which subgradiency occurs.

Why did I just refer to CHIM as Mastery? Well, about that:

“The aim of him who would be Master is single; men call it Personal Ambition. That is, he wants his Universe to be as vast, and his control of it as perfect, as possible.
Few fail to understand this aim; but many fail in the formulation of their campaign to attain it. Some, for instance, fill their purse with fairy gold, which, when they try to use it, is found to be dead leaves. Others attempt to rule the universe of another, not seeing that they cannot even take true cognizance thereof.
(...)
The most common and fatal pitfall which menaces the man who has begun to extend his Universe beyond the world of sense-perception is called Confusion of the Planes. To him who realises the All-One, and knows that to distinguish between any two things is the basic error, it must seem natural and even right to perform what seem perforce Acts of Love between incongruous ideas.
(...)
The invention of electric machines has in no way interfered with Matter or Motion; it has only helped us to get rid of certain aspects of the Illusion of Time and Space, and so brought the most intelligent minds to the threshold of the Magical and Mystical Doctrine: they have been forced to imagine the possibility of the perception of the Universe as it is, freed of conditions. That is, they have been given a glimpse of the nature of the Attainment of Mastery.
(...)
Here the great obstacles are these; firstly, the misunderstanding of Self; and secondly, the resistance of the rational mind against its own conclusions. Men must cast off these two restrictions; they must begin to realise that Self is hidden behind, and independent of, the mental and material instrument in which they apprehend their Point-of-View; and they must seek an instrument other than that which insists (with every single observation) on impressing on them what is merely its own most hateful flaw and error, the idea of duality.”
- Little Essays Towards Truth: Mastery

The Master is the individual who sees past the illusions of Time and Space, and the erroneous idea of Duality. In doing so, they realize the “All-One”, and see no true distinction between any two things, thus perceiving a Universe free of conditions, where they exist in oneness with it. Essentially, through a Mastery of Love under their Will, the individual transcends all dualism and becomes one with existence.

Sounds a little familiar with CHIM? Well, that’s because this is exactly what it is. In fact, those that obtain CHIM are often called “Masters” themselves.

“And it was of the Tower that my emperor wanted to hear. He was dying and I loved him yet. He, too, was a Master and so I knew that he realized just how big a realm that the Tower encompassed.
(...)
Understand that I am a Master and make my own way. For me, Mystery is dead. That is so hard to write. You cannot feel the pause. My brother is dead.”
- Vehk’s Teaching: Vehk’s Book of the Last Hour
“Vivec’s eyes went to the Glass Opal cradled in the pirate’s arm and frowned. He looked at Cyrus, dourly, saying, "I know all of this about you, Sura, and more, and it grants us a kinship despite your crime against me, and so it pains me yet that I think you really know nothing of me and my Mastery.”
- Lord Vivec’s Sword-Meeting with Cyrus the Restless
Jubal and Talos, outside now, in appropriate moonscape outfits. Jubal has his breather-scarves on. The “outfit” that Talos wears is particularly impressive: he’s just turned himself into platinum.
JUBAL-LUN-SUL: Because, one, I’m drunk and I see it now. Two, because you were at one time. You fed off of it. The Mastery. And I can’t really blame you. Because the alternative?
JUBAL-LUN-SUL (CONT’D): The alternative means that one of us wins at the expense of the other. Just because.
- C0DA

In the excerpts above Talos and Vivec, both confirmed CHIM users, are referred to as Masters and are said to hold the Mastery. This absolutely cements the notion that Thelemic Mastery = Elder Scrolls CHIM.

AMARANTH: The Scarab that Becomes the Nu-Men

At last, we arrive at the end of this Blog. We’ve talked about the basic structure of Anu’s Dream. We talked about the Enantiomorph and the song which echoes across all levels of the Dream. We’ve talked about the divine interplay of Aka and Lorkhan, and the purpose of Mundus. We’ve talked about Tonal Magic, Mythopoeia, Mantling, CHIM, Quantum Mechanics and we even talked about Aleister Crowley’s Thelema.

Now it’s time to bring all of this together and talk about the final concept: Amaranth… Okay, it will probably not be that difficult to explain, specially given that we’ve built a ground foundation and strong supporting pillars with everything discussed in this Blog. If you got this far and aren’t completely lost, then you’ll understand what comes next.

Alright.

Amaranth (From the Greek Amárantos, meaning Unfading) is the name of a Flower, one which is also called, among many other things, Love Lies Bleeding. This alone should give you an idea of what The Amaranth is in the Elder Scrolls.

To quote Michael Kirkbride:

“3) To the close dreamers, don't forget the Amaranth. There *is* one step beyond CHIM, but you're right in that it is not godhood. It's the flowering of a statehood where the images you give birth to in your dream-- stolen (?) from first dreamer-- wakes up. Wails knowing free will. And begins to dream in the same way. Children of liberty without end, and then the music lives forever as a pirate radio tuned against the rules of Heaven and the vulgarities of Hell.”
- Michael Kirkbride
"More like slide out from the cosmos to become a new one. A splitting of hairs, maybe, but the Amaranth is the hardest concept I've ever attempted, so I'm a bit picky about it.
Anyone that can make the final jump goes to sleep and dreams forever, making a new cosmos and being each new part of it, watching as those new parts wake up within him/her, their actualizing children, some of which naturally rebel, but love begets love which is the Amaranth.
What does this hologram have that the Aurbis doesn't?"
- Michael Kirkbride

Essentially, the Amaranth is the flowering of a state beyond CHIM, where one can finally escape from the Dream in which they are trapped, becoming the New Dreamer themselves. The current Amaranth, then, is ANU, and the new Amaranth is yet to come.

This diagram drawn by Michael Kirkbride also helps understand this idea, showing the Godhead which dreams all of existence, until an individual called the Ruling King is able to perceive both himself and the Godhead, achieving Amaranth and becoming the Godhead which dreams a new existence.

However, these are extremely simplified explanations. Amaranth as a concept is far more philosophically complex than it may seem at first glance.

You may have noticed that Kirkbride referenced something called “The final jump” in his second quote above. That’s because the Amaranth’s transcendence doesn’t work by reaching “above” the Dream, but by falling “below” it.

This goes back to the concept of Subgradience mentioned in the Loveletter, and the conflict of Aka and Lorkhan. The Amaranth is the Final Subgradience, which lies beneath Mortality and beneath Mortal Death. It is the breaking of the Scarab’s Shell, the purpose of Mundus finally achieved.

“When one visits Memory, you become filled with the first ideas of the Lunar God, and see the trap within the trap. Vehk knows it at this point, and sees for all of you, and realizes the need for treaty: avenue of escape, first stone.
C0DA translation: if all previous gradients continue along this path, especially given that there is now a centerpoint, impossible Mundus, the process of continuation can be pre-figured.
The echo of the Void is Oblivion. The echo of Oblivion is now mortal death. Death results in reappropriation of spirit towards its aligned AE—either to the god-planet Aedra or the Principalities of Oblivion. Vehk’s name for this transaction, mentioned above, is “lunar currency”.
AE CHIM NU-MEN NU-MANTIA
Mundus to Mortal Death: centerpoint to the soon recycled.
Here we come to the Scripture’s greatest resignation: to imagine the subcreation AFTER mortal death, which by pattern would mean an echo of Mundus, and through this imagining, the failures of so many.
The Digitals' record of the Lunar God’s involvement in all of this is called the Great Pain: “The Lunar God failed by his own devices, to show the new progeny how they might not.”
You in the Fourth Era have already witnessed many of the attempts at reaching the final subgradient of all AE, that state that exists beyond mortal death. The Numidium. The Endeavor. The Prolix Tower. CHIM. The Enantiomorph. The Scarab that Transforms into the New Man.
Simply put, as the Gods cannot know joy as mortals, their creation, so mortals may only understand the joy of Liberty by becoming the progenitors of the models that can make the jump past mortal death. And so many of you give up.
Mortal Death to Z (Z being the state-gradient echo of Mundus Centerex): antinymic to [untranslatable].”
- Loveletter from the Fifth Era: The True Purpose of Tamriel

Among the ways which mortals have attempted to reach the Final Subgradient is CHIM, but also “The Scarab that Transforms into the New Man”. The Scarab is Lorkhan, and the New Man is what the souls of this Dream can become. Amaranth is the process through which the Scarab becomes the New Man.

The Final Subgradient is appropriately called the Z, or the State-Gradient Echo of Mundus Centerex. I’m not even going to bother explaining what the means in detail, because someone’s already done a much better job than I ever could, but essentially it is image of the fundamental central mind behind all information in the world, aka the Godhead / Dreamer.

For further explanation, we have one example of a character attempting to reach the Final Subgradient and make the jump to Amaranth: Vivec.

“Vivec put on his armor and stepped into a non-spatial space filling to capacity with mortal interaction and information, a canvas-less cartography of every single mind it has ever known, an event that had developed some semblance of a divine spark.”
- The 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon Nineteen
“That's the spookiest part of the Sermons, that's as close as Vivec got then.
Sermon 19. What does Vivec do? makes the Provisional House. He attempts the Dream. He is answered with a song, a poem. He's not ready for his own answer, looking at every Corner, hiding in some new thing he made to survey this new House he can't make.
That's the tremble of "I"
"This house is safe now, so why is it--"
He knows right then he can't make. He can't commit to that marriage.”
- Michael Kirkbride

In this Sermon, Vivec steps into a “a non-spatial space” devoid of any form or canvas, composed entirely of mortal interaction and information, of every single mind it had ever known. If you’re reminded of the Final Subgradient, the Z, that’s because this is exactly what it is.

This “location” is usually called the Dreamsleeve, and lore regarding it is painfully vague. Outside of this Sermon, we also know that the Dreamsleeve is the “realm” where Souls which that don’t make to any Afterlife are sent to, and stripped of their identities and memories, in order to be recycled back into the Mundus.

But why did Vivec, who had already understood the nature of the Dream, seen the Tower, and attained CHIM, failed to make the jump to Amaranth? Kirkbride already alluded to it: He can’t commit to the marriage. In other words, the Amaranth cannot be reached alone.

And the red moment became a great howling unchecked, for the Provisional House was in ruin. And Vivec became as glass, a lamp, for the dragon's mane had broke, and the red moon bade him come.

"The sign of royalty is not this," a signal blueshift (female) told him, "There is no right lesson learned alone."
(...)
The light bent, and Vivec awoke and grew fangs, unwilling to make of herself a folding thing. This was a new and lunar promise. And in her Biting she tunneled up and then downward, while her brother and sister smeared across heaven, thin ruptures of dissent, food for scarabs and the Worm. She took her people and made them safe, and sat with Azura drawing her own husband's likeness in the dirt
"For I have removed my left hand and my right, he will say," she said, "for that is how I shall win against them. Love alone and you shall know only mistakes of salt."
The worlding of the words is AMARANTH.
- The 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon Thirty Seven

The Amaranth (And by the extension The Dreamer / The Godhead, as they are the same thing) isn’t a singular entity, but rather a composite state of being, possessing many minds, bereft of any separate individuality or illusory distinction. It is the New Men, where all souls are United.

Vivec cannot reach Amaranth alone. He needs another. The Final Subgradient can only be reached with Love, through a marriage where two Perfect Beings (Ruling Kings with no equivalent) unite into a single whole.

This idea is expressed metaphorically in “The Scripture of the City”, Sermon 25 of the 36 Lessons, a text which talks about the City of Vivec, and how it and the God are one and the same, and thus all those who live in the City of Vivec are one with Vivec, part of his body and his soul. The City is thus “A Million-Eyed Insect Dreaming”, a direct reference to the Scarab of Lorkhan.

The final paragraph of the Sermon in particular cements that it is talking about the Amaranth, describing the City of Vivec as the flowering scheme of the Aurbis, and the Promise of PSJJJJ (Padomay, Change - Expressed through Lorkhan).

“I raise lanterns to light my hollows, lend wax to the thousands the candlesticks that bear my name again and again, the name innumerable, shutting in, mantra and priest, god-city, filling every corner with the naming name, wheeled, circling, running river language giggling with footfalls mating, selling, stealing, searching, and worry not ye who walk with me. This is the flowering scheme of the Aurbis. This is the promise of the PSJJJJ: egg, image, man, god, city, state. I serve and am served. I am made of wire and string and mortar and I accede my own precedent, world without am.”:
- The 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon Twenty Five:

Now, you may be wondering how one can become the Dreamer by falling beneath the Final Subgradient of the Dream, rather than ascending above it. To understand that concept, you must first understand the nature of the Amaranth itself: The Amaranth is the Zero from which all numbers spring from, the Void from which all AE emerges. It is both what lies above the First Gradient, and what lies below the Final Subgradient: Featureless nothingness holding the potential for all possibility.

“Generous silver chalice, sword in the clouds, dying-radiant lady-star. He entered the Temple, passed the seven veils, beheld his wife, Berahzic. O: the word, the deed, the end inevitable: O!
She asked of him truths beyond words, and he answered without words, but added in completion:
"There is nothing beyond bliss, after death comes the void. Only then are we free to love.”
(...)
Many thousand millions are the visions of aminreaV [Vaermina, Daedric Prince of Dreams]. A, awake, the first and last, the King of I.”
- The 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon Zero
The darkness is reborn, crowned and conquering, and you pull the covers tighter and sleep.
When will you realize what happened to the Dwarves?
When will you Wake from the Elven Lie that all Men believe?”
- Kier-jo (Sermon Zero Thread)

This idea, like so many other things in the Elder Scrolls Metaphysics, is directly tied with Aleister Crowley’s Thelema. In it, the Universe is said to have sprang from the 0, the result of Two Perfect Beings uniting into a single unseparated whole, and stripping themselves of all individual features and conceptualizations, in their place emerging the Nondual and Impersonal Unity.

This is why attaining Amaranth is compared to an act of Sensory Deprivation, you simply cease to be an active and conscious being, partaking in the Ultimate Sacrificial Act and dissolving into pure, featureless Nothingness. The Zero.

“When we say that the cosmos sprang from the 0, what kind of 0 do we mean? By 0 in the ordinary sense of the term we mean 'absence of extension in any of the categories...' Nothingness is that about which no positive proposition is valid. We cannot truly affirm: 'Nothingness is green, or heavy, or sweet...; Let us call time, space, being, heaviness, hunger, the categories... This is the Advaitist idea of the future of man; his personality, bereft of all its qualities, disappears and is lost, while in its place arises the impersonal Unity, The Pleroma, or the Parabrahma. Unity is thus unaffected, whether or no it be extended in any of the categories.”
- Aleister Crowley, Berashith

As further evidence of the connection between this concept and the Elder Scrolls’ Amaranth, consider the bolded numerology in the quotes belowq, and try to relate it to the numerology of the 36 Lessons of Vivec:

“Then the priest answered & said unto the Queen of Space, kissing her lovely brows, and the dew of her light bathing his whole body in a sweet-smelling perfume of sweat: O Nuit, continuous one of Heaven, let it be ever thus; that men speak not of Thee as One but as None; and let them speak not of thee at all, since thou art continuous!
None, breathed the light, faint & faery, of the stars, and two. For I am divided for love’s sake, for the chance of union.
This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.”
- The Liber Legis
“The word of Sin is Restriction. O man! refuse not thy wife, if she will! O lover, if thou wilt, depart! There is no bond that can unite the divided but love: all else is a curse. Accurséd! Accurséd be it to the aeons! Hell.
Let it be that state of manyhood bound and loathing. So with thy all; thou hast no right but to do thy will.
Do that, and no other shall say nay.
For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.
The Perfect and the Perfect are one Perfect and not two; nay, are none!
- The Liber Legis
For I am perfect, being Not; and my number is nine by the fools; but with the just I am eight, and one in eight: Which is vital, for I am none indeed. The Empress and the King are not of me; for there is a further secret.
I am The Empress & the Hierophant. Thus eleven, as my bride is eleven.”
- The Liber Legis

The origin of the universe is expressed in the numbers Zero and Two, through the 0 = 2 Equation. This concept is directly tied with the number Eleven, two Perfect and unique (One) beings with no equivalent united in dissolution.

In other words, two Ruling Kinds who have Mastered Lover under their Will, merging to become the Amaranth. Those that succeed in the act shall “become” the New Men, in plural, an individual who exists above and below all AE, free of all things but its own free consciousness:

“Those who do not fail become the New Men: an individual beyond all AE, unerased and all-being. Jumping beyond the last bridge of all existence is the Last Existence, The Eternal I
I AM.
A whole World of You.
God.
God outside of all else but his own free consciousness, hallucinating for eternity and falling into love: I AM AND I ARE ALL WE.
C0DA Digitals have confirmed that a subject in sensory deprivation begins to hallucinate after only twenty minutes. Scale unto this along the magical spectrum and maintenance of time, which is forever, and you begin to see the Lunar God’s failure as Greatest Gift. As above, “This is the love of God.”
Why Love?
Know Love to avoid the Landfall, my brothers and sisters of the past.
The New Man becomes God becomes Amaranth, everlasting hypnogogic. Hallucinations become lucid under His eye and therefore, like all parents of their children, the Amaranth cherishes and adores all that is come from Him.
I ARE ALL WE.
God is Love.
COME TO THE HOUSE OF WE.
God is Love.
ONE WORLD IN SPIRIT I AM.
God is Love.”
- Loveletter from the Fifth Era: The True Purpose of Tamriel

The Amaranth is attained at last in the end of C0DA, Michael Kirkbride’s personal ending for the Elder Scrolls Mythos, through the symbolical marriage of Jubal-Lun-Sul, the final Nerevarine (As the Father) and Vivec in female form (As the Mother), with Lorkhan as the priest who weds them, their union producing a baby made of flowers: The Nu-Men. The Amaranth of a new Dream defined through Love and Union rather than Grief and Betrayal.

PAGE 62
PIC 1: EXT. THE TEMPLE BELOW
Jubal is marrying the High Alma’s daughter at the Under-Temple of the Velothiid. The whole of Dunmer race is present.
LARGE PIC.
And it turns out, the High Alma’s daughter is Vivec. As a woman. The most beautiful woman you can draw. The priest is Lorkhan, his heart-hole exposed.
JUBAL-LUN-SUL: (EMPTY SPEECH BALLOON)
PIC 2: EXT. THE TEMPLE BELOW
Closer as Jubal recites his vows. We can kind of see that Lorkhan’s heart is perhaps a cage of a dragon. Akatosh.
LORKHAN: (EMPTY SPEECH BALLOON)
PIC 3: EXT. THE TEMPLE BELOW
Vivec recites hers.
VIVEC: (EMPTY SPEECH BALLOON)
PAGE 63
PIC 1: EXT. THE TEMPLE BELOW
Closer. Lorkhan’s heart-hole isn’t a cage at all. Or maybe it is. Akatosh, Time-Dragon, First Born, begins to eat his tail. The priest address the audience: if there are any here who would object.
LORKHAN: (EMPTY SPEECH BALLOON)
PIC 2: EXT. THE TEMPLE BELOW
None do. None would.
VIVEC: I—
JUBAL-LUN-SUL: I—
VIVEC: WE.
JUBAL-LUN-SUL: YES.
PIC 3: EXT. THE TEMPLE BELOW
The kiss. Lorkhan’s hole is no more. It’s healed. His heart is secure. All things are secure.
PAGE 64
PIC 1: FULL PAGE SPLASH. THE COSMIC ISSUE— THE FIRST OF THE NU-MEN, A BABY MADE OF FLOWERS— LOOKING TO THE READER, BUT NOT BREAKING THE FOURTH WALL. IT’S IS SIMPLY SEEING SOMETHING WE’RE NOT, SOMETHING THAT’S BEHIND US. “SCROLLING” BEHIND IT IS THE FOLLOWING TEXT.
NEW LANGUAGE, CONTINUED MEANING, STRING-STRAND OF BOTH. MEANING REMAINS: WELCOME TO THE HOUSE OF WE.
- C0DA