The Gnosis of Tamriel

I was asked by Alex Rivera to do an article on Hermaeus Mora being Gnostic- some time ago- and so I decided today that I would do an article on the Gnosis of the world of Tamriel in the Elder Scrolls video game series. Skyrim is the culmination of all the prophecies in the games from Daggerfall to Oblivion. Much like real-life Gnosis, one must experience Skyrim and all the other games and expansions from Daggerfall to Morrowind, to Oblivion, and then Skyrim, to truly appreciate all the little chunks of hidden gnosis ingrained within the world of Tamriel.

Elder Scrolls is up there with Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and Star Wars, and many of the great fairy tales like Snow White and Alice in Wonderland. To miss out on this game is to miss out on some of the finest story telling in our history. It all began in 1992 with the release of Arena. Arena was originally a very boring idea. It was a world in which teams went from city to city competing in Gladiatorial combat until they reached the Imperial city of Cyrodil to win the championship. It had next to no RPG elements. It’s follow up title was Daggerfall which was a full blown RPG with a world twice the size of Great Britain and a population of 750,000. Then came Morrowind in full 3D and it has only improved from there.

Elder scrolls is packed with a rich lore found in conversation with the inhabitants of each land visited and the books found in each game. The very Elder Scrolls themselves are full of forbidden knowledge known to blind their readers and even cause death. They are engraved with ineffable words. Even the Dragons speak in ineffable words and repose in silence amidst the tall mountains.

A key text to the lore of Tamriel is “Before the Ages of Man” by Aicantar of Shimerene which increases your characters mysticism and illusion skills (sounds pretty damn Gnostic to me). This book first appears on the game Oblivion and seems to be by a man who lived in the time of Jagar Tharn during the Daggerfall game. This book begins with myths and legends rather than history. Aicantar calls this period prehistory and divides it into two eras: the Dawn, and the Merethic.

Dawn was before “mortal time” likely meaning before the act of mortals recording their time on earth. When you live for hundreds or thousands of years it’s rather cumbersome to keep track of time isn’t it? This era ended with an Exodus of the gods and magic from the world at the founding of the Adamantine tower which is a place on the Daggerfall game on the continent of High Rock. Notice the Adamantine land theme of Gnosticism here? Or maybe even the Tower of Babel?

The Pocket guide to the Empire 3rd edition discusses the founding of the tower as does Before the Ages of Man. It is where the Aedra met to discuss the creation of Mundus. Then the Elves ruled Tamriel during the Merethic era, and Ysgramor the Nord after them.

The creation stories is as follows:

“The Cosmos formed from the Aurbis [chaos, or totality] by Anu and Padomay. Akatosh (Auriel) formed and time began. The Gods (et’ Ada) formed. Lorkhan convinced– or tricked– the Gods into creating the mortal plane, Nirn. The mortal place was at this point highly magical and dangerous. As the Gods walked, the physical make-up of the mortal plane and even the timeless continuity of existence itself became unstable.”

Notice here that the Cosmos was formed out of chaos which is equated with the totality, everything being blobbed together without definite boundaries. Here the Pleroma is Aurbis that Anu and Padomay manipulated to create the Cosmos. Lorkhan here is kind of like the serpent in Genesis.

Next we are introduced to the Architect (Demiurge?) Magnus who is Magic itself embodied:

“When Magic (Magnus), architect of the plans for the mortal world, decided to terminate the project, the Gods convened at the Adamantine tower [Direnni Tower, the oldest known structure in Tamriel] and decided what to do. Most left when Magic did. Others sacrificed themselves into other forms so that they might stay (the Ehlnofey). Lorkhan was condemned by the Gods to exile in the mortal realms, and his heart was torn out and cast from the Tower. Where it landed, a Volcano formed. With Magidc (in the Mythic sense) gone, the Cosmos stabilized. Elven history, finally linear, began (ME2500).”

Lorkhan is much the Loki character in this story but notice here that like Aristotle’s Demiurge, Magic simply left the Cosmos behind unattended. This world “congealed into reality” as the Pocket Guide to the Empire puts it. The Ehlnofey are aka as the Aldmeri (High elves) of Aldmeris. The Moth priests who watch over the Elder Scrolls have passed down a tale that the land of Aldmeris was never a mortal physical land which is why no one ever found it, but rather that it was a collection of light images left over from the Chaos during the Dawn.

Mundus is the space surrounding Nirn and its moons. The eight planets were made from the body parts of the Gods. The Aedra are the 8 divines all of which are actually mortals. So here we have Aeons, at least a few. Next I will introduce you to Hermaeus Mora. These posts will be fairly short.

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