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Khajiit Part 1: Religion

  • July 2, 2014

    Disclaimer: This lore article was written by Loremaster Vix but was inexplicably deleted. I have recovered it for your reading pleasure.

    In the latest of our racial series we'll take the time to look at the Khajiit. It's no secret they're a favorite of mine and they're one of the odder races out there. However, there does seem to be both misconceptions and some ignorance regarding the Khajiit in addition to the usual hot bed of discontent surrounding them for the anthropomorphic race that they are. But for a minute at least, lets not deal with that at all. It's better to call them lycanthropes, for in many ways, they follow similar tendencies and have several personality types that set them out as unique and interesting stemming from their culture and their general beliefs. Due to several larger topics, notable, a different pantheon and morphological differences between Khajiit this is an extensive article and will be arranged in four separate parts.

    • Part one will focus on the basis of Khajiiti religions including their pantheon, their creation myth, and some aspects of their modern practices.
    • Part two will detail the physical differences in the various sub-species of Khajiit that we are aware of and some physiological differences between themselves and humans.
    • Part three includes information pertaining to the Khajiiti culture. This will explore aspects of Elsweyr's geography, it's social and government structure, the Khajiiti mindset, war, family, and of course the importance of moonsugar.
    • Part four will include the history of the Khajiit.



          Understanding the Khajiiti religion and what it implies is key to understanding the fundamental inhuman nature of the Khajiit themselves. This is why, breaking with the tradition of the past, I decided to place Religion first. The monomyth creation tale is quite similar to the elves and humans but the Khajiit have several critical differences. These manifestations create an oddity when regarding their entire structure and their focus on the nature of Mundus. This creation story is singular and recounted everywhere the Khajiit are by their revered Clan mothers. As such it is no surprise we find the Khajiiti myth in the book Words of Clan Mother Ahnissi.


    The First Pantheon and the Beginning:

          In the beginning there were two: a pair of siblings named Ahnurr (Anu) and Fadomai (Padomay/Sithis). They decided that they would be married, then they created the first children in the void. This was the primary pantheon:

    • The first was Alkosh (Akatosh) called 'First Cat'. He takes the form of a winged dragon but this, of course, is still a cat to them. Ahnurr and Fadomai gave him the dominion of time. This is important, Time is implied to already existed in the Khajiiti creation myth as a concept. Whether it was crystallized at the beginning is something harder to determine but it makes no mention of it needing to be fully enacted.

    • The second was Khenarthi (Kynareth) who was called 'the Wind'. Khenarthi was given the dominion of the sky and of flight, she was said to be the one what could fly the highest, far past even Alkosh the winged dragon.

    • The third was Magrus (Magnus) the 'Cat's Eye'. He was given the sun.

    • Then was Mara (Mara, go figure) called the 'Mother Cat'. She was given the dominion of love.

    • The final child was that of S'rendarr (Stendarr) who was 'the Runt'. Because he was the smallest and weakest he was given charity and mercy, it is the reason all runts are said to survive.

          This is the first part of the pantheon, the elder portion. In it we see the usual trappings of the Divines. However, Magnus is included as a principle figure where as Dibella, Arkay, Zenithar, Julianos, are all absent. This does given a basic idea of the very fundamental nature of all things alive in the Khajiiti mode of thinking. What is interesting is this is not the only pantheon or only part of it.

          These existed separately for a great deal of time on their own. There was no immediate creation of all things, everything took time. It should be noted with the exception of Lorkhan the major players in Akatosh and Magnus are still present and capable of creating the Grey Maybe in other legends. However, this isn't the case in the Khajiiti creation. After a great while Ahnurr and Fadomai decided to have more children.

    • The first was Hermorah (Herma Mora) and he was given the title of 'Tides'. He has the powers of precience. What is key here is what Fadomai said to him “for who can say whether the moons predict the tides or the tides predict the moons.” already the lunar analogy comes to prominence as part of a duel system. It is also a symbol of order and something quite inescapable.

    • The second was Hircine (Hircine), 'The Hungered Cat'. Due to his appetite he became the great hunter.

    • Next was Merrunz (Mehrunes Dagon) who is called 'Ja'Khajiit'. Already the Khajiit have name which is linked to Mehrunes Dagon. This can be said to be an odd case of post-hoc knowledge but in itself . However, the title itself is reflective of himself. 'Ja'Khajiit is the Ta'agra (Khajiit language) name for a youth, quite literally a kitten. It has a connotation of destruction and activity.

    • Forth was Mafala (Mephala) the 'Clan Mother'. This sets a precedent in also being the name of the Khajiiti religious authorities in the Clan Mothers. The domain of such a Clam Mother was that of secrets, why will become apparent later.

    • Fifth was Sangiin (Sanguin) called 'Blood Cat'. Much like his counterparts in other legends he is given the nature of passions and urges that are spontaneous.

    • The sixth and last was Sheggorath (Sheogorath) the 'Skooma Cat'. He is simply crazy.

          What is important to understand is that these, while all Daedra while the first are Aedra, are not inherently different. They are younger creations and entirely the same as their elder siblings. This is similar to the simple concept of et'Ada though the Khajiit do not classify them as something different by any measure of which one is 'good' or 'bad' or anything quantified in such a manner. In this time the various offspring created more children of their own, thus what is recorded is merely the children of Ahnurr and Fadomai. This was also supposed to be the last of the children of Ahnurr and Fadomai. Ahnurr said “two litters is enough, too many will steal our happiness” which is an echo of the fears of the elves in the monomyth.


    Second Pantheon:

          It was Khenarthi that went to Fadomai saying that she was lonely with her domain, discontent, there was no one else in the sky where she was as not even Alkosh could reach. So Fadomai took pity on her and decided to formulate a plan. She seduced Ahnurr and was going to bear another litter, something Ahnurr wasn't to find out about:

    • She gave birth to the moons Jone (Masser) and Jude (Secunda), and set their cosmic orbits. This is very different from the Lorkhan cloven divinity that is said in other legends.

    • Then she gave birth to Nirni. She is unique in the creation mythos, for there isn't anyone similar so far as I can tell. Nirni wasn't a physical presence, it was more of an essence like the other et'Ada aspects. She contained the aspects of deserts and forests.

    • Azurah (Azura) was born afterwards who was given control of the dawn and of the dusk.

          These are somewhat noticeable effects, and not only that, Ahnurr was right regarding the end of happiness. Not only was this too many, but Nirni and Azurah immediately set to infighting and squabbling for their mother's favor. In this way can Fadomai's nature as related to chaos and change in Sithis be fully understood. It is through Chaos that things were created and order kept them functioning and working for a single betterment. Ahnurr found out, and found her when she was still in labor. Ahnurr struck Fadomai and she fled from him into the darkness of the void and gave birth to her last child. Seeing her flight Fadomai's children restrained Ahnurr and let her escape.

    • Lorkhaj (Lorkhan) was born. However, the void harbored what was called the Great Darkness, which seeped into his very being.

    • It was this echo and awakening the the Great Darkness found a mind of its own, and it called itself Namiira (Namira). That later statement both reinforces classical Monomyth mentality of Lorkhan being inherently evil or at least corrupted and selfish. The oddity is that this Great Darkness which was an expanse opposite to Magnus and the sun was in itself a different primal entity. Namiira, in this way, isn't seen to be an et'Ada spirit like the others at all but was the corrupting presence of Lorkhan and a self-aware power of the void as well.

           In the end Fadomai was too weak, she was aware she was going to die and was determined to set things in motion. She imbued the moons Jode and Jone calling them Ja-Ka'jay. They are separate aspects of the same identity, as such they comprise separate parts of a single being though still independent. It corresponds with the Aldmer/Bosmer pantheon which is essentially the same. This was called the Lunar Lattice (also called the Moonstrings). It was a protection from Ahnurr, for herself and for all her children in case Ahnurr wanted revenge. Nirni was given her gift as well, it was that of Fadomai's greatest aspect, creation. Now Nirni would be able to create children and people as well. She was pleased with this, sensing she was the most favored and Azurah would have been left with nothing. Nirni swiftly departed leaving Fadomai alone with Azurah.

          Azurah was left without any physical gifts, instead Fadomai told Azurah she was her favorite and gave Azurah her greatest gifts: three distinct secrets as well as a set of three instructions.

    1. Azurah was to take one of Nirni's children and change them. They were to be “the fastest, cleverest, and beautiful people. They were to be called the Khajiit”

    2. She was to make the Khajiit the best climbers, if the Lunar Lattice ever falls they're supposed to restore it to its proper place with help of Khenarthi.

    3. The Khajiit are to be the best deceivers, for they need to hide their true nature from the children of Ahnurr.

          This was to make the Khajiit the best survivors, as Fadomai knew that Nirni would be jealous and try to destroy them. She predicted that their lands would turn harsh and inhospitable and in that way the Khajiit people would always be in a state of war with Nirni. With this, Fadomai died.

          What is genuinely important about this is the very nature of Fadomai. Before the names and gifts had been agreed on by Ahnurr, this gave perspective and order. The last three children were given peculiar gifts in many respects and it is from this last order of children that the modern notion of Nirn was formed and the primary pantheon of fourteen ancient gods came into being.



          Nirni became worried with her gifts, she was able to create many children but there was no room for them. She went to one of her siblings her own age, telling Lorkhaj her problem. Lorkhaj, filled with corruption, concocted a plan saying that he would create a space for Narni's children.  To this end he tricked his other siblings into occupying the same place as Nirni, others escaped and became the stars. Many of the siblings died to making Nirni's form as it was, however, it is notable that these are not specifically the 'earth bones' laws of reality. This, more than anything, is what angered the others.

          They punished Lorkhaj, exiling him to walk Nirni's new form, and Lorkhaj's heart was hidden within her. Even so, Nirni forgave Lorkhaj because Nirni was now both the essence of herself and coupled with a place for all her children. Nirni had moved from being strictly an essence and being to a physical object as well. So Nirni gave birth to the many races but her favorite, the forest people, were without a defined form (We talked about this and the creation synchronization issue as well right here).

          Azurah came to Nirni and said she would make things right, she'd make and give Nirni a new people. The first secret told to her allowed Azurah to bypass the Lunar lattice and approach Nirni. She took some of the forest people and placed them in deserts and forests, then shaped them to her specifications. They had forms, set and ordered, ranging between 'man' and 'beast', giving the distinct morphologies of the Khajiit. They were the same people and the same race, but given different forms. And thus Azurah called them the Khajiit. She told them the second secret, and beyond this she taught them the values of secrets. Then, she bound them and their forms to the moon's constant inexorable cycles. In this way they are much like typical lycanthropes, dependent entirely on the moon for their form. Then Azurah spoke the third secret, and it made the moon light descend on the marshes and shores, creating sugar.

          There was just one other who heard, a spirit of spontaneity and the present, Y'ffer (Y'ffre). He decided to tell Nirni of Azurah's plan and the secrets, this enraged Nirni who made the forests of Azurah's people poison and the deserts dry and unyielding. And for this information Y'ffer was able to change the forest people however he saw fit. And so he made the Bosmer. Then, Y'ffer shouted out to all the other siblings and spirits the first secret so they could bypass the Lunar lattice, plunging everyone into mortal danger of Ahnurr's wrath. It took all of Azurah's guile and skill to close the ears of two individuals, Ahnurr and Lorkhaj. After this, Azurah has little place and power in the Khajiiti legends.

    Modern Religion:

          These tales are all the same (Ahzirr Traajijazeri), each taught by the 'clan mothers' that value the secrets of Mefala. These are in essence the ones who dictate religious orders and are a very integral part of society. However, there is one nominally above them. The Mane is the religious and secular greater power when it comes to authority. They descent from the prophet Rid-Thar-ri'Datta (often shortened to ri'Datta).

          It was the prophet ri'Datta that established the principle pantheon as it is seen compared to merely a corporate history of the Khajiit as a whole. While the tale exists in this form emphasis on practical worship is what remained quite different through Khajiiti societies until the establishments put in place by ri'Datta..  Alkosh became a principle deity along with Lorkhan in Anequina, the desert states. This is a codification of the religious system and more importntly determined its emphasis on each god.  It could have come from outside influences or seen as such by outside eyes and some of the post-hoc names and titles could have been created during this period. Outsiders commonly believe that the dro-M'artha (Dark spirits) are the Daedra and correspond with the darkened shapes of the moon (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st edition). It may very well be additional et'Ada given that the Khajiit seem not to differentiate Daedra and Aedra. Several other revered forms have come to a certain prominence as gods more recently, but they are worshiped in a manner more like saints than the original pantheon. Ri'Datta did set one important 'god' in place that was not seen before, Riddle'Thar.

    • Riddle' Thar is known as the Two-Moons-dance. It is not so much a physical anthropomorphic god as a primal essence that subjects all Khajiit to an instinctive set of rules and promises. One of them is entrance to a paradise called Llesw'er after death. It's quite likely these all related to the secrets told to the Khajiit by Azurah. Nevertheless there are prophets and avatars of the Riddle'Thar, they tend to be messengers, humble and generally positive in helping smooth over problems and assisting the Khajiit as a whole. The Riddle'Thar is sometimes called the sugar god, why we'll discuss why it retains this odd name later.
    • Rajhin, who is called “Footpad”, was a skilled trickster and the most masterful of thieves. Born in Senchal and operating in the opening days of the third era he was said to have been able to steal anything including the tattoo from the neck of the Dunmer Empress Kintyra as she slept. He's a patron to those in need of nimbleness of mind or hand.


         This is the basic foundation of the Khajiiti religion It is always best to keep the basics in mind.  These principles more than players for distinctive understandings to the world.  Aspects of each crystallize to form concepts about life as well as the greater role of themselves and others.

    Part Two: Physiology→

  • October 1, 2015

    After running around Khenarthi's Roost in ESO my thoughts on the Khajiiti religion has changed. It's actually a lot closer to what I thought it should've been than what I thought it was, if that makes sense?

    The gods seem to be thought of more like Devas, not lesser spirits as such but beings governed by Riddle'Thar just like any living thing. Riddle'Thar itself isn't a god at all but more like a cosmic philosophy, I know in Varieties of Faith it says that it isn't really a god but it always seems to get lumped in with other deities. But the way Khajiit talk about it, it's more like the name of their actual philosophy\religion. Think of it more like Rid-Thar ri'Datta as the Buddha, Riddle'Thar as Buddhism, and The Mane as the Dalai Lama.

     Their will be a lot more on the Khajiit religion the farther I get in ESO since I know there's quests involving the actual Mane.

  • Member
    October 4, 2015

    Pretty cool that is  Veloth and pretty close to how I see their religion working in practice.