Elder Scrolls Lore » Discussions

On the Nature of the et'Ada

  • November 5, 2012

    What are the Aedra and the Daedra?  Where do they come from?  Are they good?  Evil?  One of the answers to these combined questions lies in a myriad of sources mixed with a healthy dose of metaphysical interpretation.  Notice, however, that this is only one possible answer.  There are endless ways to fill the gaps left by sources and endless ways to interpret those sources.  Here we will attempt to divine the most complete conclusion.

    In the beginning, there was only Anu.  Anu, being one, and being alone, sought to understand himself in his solitude.  Thus it was that Anu created Anui-el as a reflection of the endless possibilities of his existence.  While this was useful in some ways, endless possibilities are useless without limits imposed to focus understanding.  Sithis was made from this necessity and became an expression of limitations and existed in parallel to Anui-el. (The Monomyth) Even with this infinitesimal beginning, in this tale, the nature of the et'Ada, the original spirits, is partially revealed.  Anui-el and Sithis exist not as individuals but as definitions and concepts: possibilities and boundaries respectively. 

    From this point onward, a similar trend is established, though the story takes on different themes depending on the culture referenced.  In the Altmeri culture, the major source for this article, as Anui-el and Sithis interacted, Anui-el divided into many small parts that collided and moved chaotically with little design or direction.  Seeing this problem, Anu created Auri-el, a singular entity whose express purpose was to create time and impose a sense of order. (The Monomyth) Because creation now possessed some sort of order, in that it was now ever moving forward, other spirits emerged; some aligned with Sithis, others aligned with Anui-el.  This is to say, some preferred to explore boundaries, others favored and preferred order. 

    As time passed, the remaining Aedra and Daedra formed into representations of various concepts.  The Aedra are spirits who tended towards a preference for order and perfection in their definitive forms; whereas the Daedra are those with a preference for exploring boundaries and extremes.  Essentially, the et'Ada were, at first, thoughts expressed through the interaction of Anui-el (possibilities) and Sithis (boundaries).  Interestingly, there is a fractal relationship between the various stages of creation such that the same interactions are repeated endlessly in smaller and smaller reproductions.  Even looking at the interaction between Sithis and Anui-el in this manner brings to mind the very interactions within the brain.  Indeed, the entirety of Aurbis (the entirety of creation--the universe) is nothing more than the mind of Anu in perpetual self-reflection, though most inhabitants of this universe do not consider their existences in this manner. 

    So, the question now is, if the et'Ada are only concepts, are they good or are they evil?  First, consider that good and evil are only perspectives of the same thing.  Second, concepts cannot, in and of themselves, contain any moral or ethical standpoint.  It is only until a concept is applied in some way that morality and ethics come into play.  Thus, it is that Aedra and Daedra can do what is often perceived to be an evil action, but they are not inherently evil. 

    If they aren't good or evil, then what are they?  The most cohesive way to view the Aedra and Daedra is to see them as constants and variables respectively.  For the most part, the Aedra exist as examples of constant forces in the universe.  Auri-el is the constant flow of time.  Y'ffre is the laws of nature, which may or may not refer to the laws of physics.  Kynareth exists as patterns in weather and the atmosphere. Mara exemplifies the unchanging nature of creation through unifying elements; some have interpreted this to mean love or fertility. (Varieties of Faith) And so on.  Such a view is highly congruent with the Altmer's love of "stasis" when it comes to the Aedra.  In the beginning, the Aedra did not want to change as it was against their inherent nature to do so.  Instead, it took Lorkhan, a Sithis-aligned spirit and a representation of extreme boundaries, to cajole the Aedra to adapt a new constant.  It was this event that created Mundus, which is the current "known" area of the universe. 

    On the other hand, the Daedra, as mentioned, exist as examples of variables.  Their sole purpose is to act as agents of change within the confines of the Aedra's constants.  Because of this, the Aedra and Daedra are in constant disagreement.  Furthermore, because Daedra are Sithis-aligned beings, their inherent nature is one that expresses boundaries.  Unlike the Aedra, who were able to create from themselves, pushing new forms outward, the Daedra create within themselves.  The Daedric realms are nothing more than the internal constructs of each individual Daedra.  Because of this, lesser Daedra are not true sentient beings with free wills.  Instead, they are merely further subdivisions of their original forms, left attached in a way that causes an almost self-stimulating cycle of thought.  Since the Daedra are defined by boundaries in this way, there is little growth and a very self-interested perspective of the world.  They are, in many ways, one-dimensional as the realm of possibilities belongs to the Aedra, who seek to order it as they have little comprehension of boundaries themselves. 

    So it is that the interaction between Anui-el and Sithis, the Aedra and the Daedra, and their lesser forms provides constant balance within Mundus.  One cannot exist without the other, and too much of either results in severe problems.  Together they create and destroy as Anu continues to ponder his true nature.





    Now what's really going to bake your noodle later is, is Anu just a random person walking around in another universe and this is all nothing more than a daydream?

  • November 5, 2012

    Great job, Kyrielle! Makes you realize how good of job Bethesda did, not just saying "Yo, bad guys over here, good guys over there."