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Bosmer Part 1: Religion and Creation

  • Member
    July 2, 2014

    Disclaimer: This is an article of our former member, renown Loremaster Vix, acknowledged by Bethesda themselves. It ended up being deleted and I'm merely reposting it.


    After a number of other topics, I figured we might be able to take a look atanother of the less popular races out there. Skyrim didn't give them too much attention, they've been the joke of most of the games as a matter of fact but with the new facelift they seem to have gotten a major renovation with regard to how they're presented. Even so, when we look at the Lore, we see it's only getting back to the principle tenants with what has already been established by the lore for quite some time. Like the other articles the Bosmer will be done in 4 separate parts:

    • Part one will cover the Bosmeri religion and creation story.
    • Part two will include the basics of Bosmeri culture and their racial identity.
    • Part three will cover what we know of Valenwood.
    • Part four will catalog the history of Valenwood and the Bosmer in general.


    Bosmeri Religion and Creation

    To understand the most basic elements of Bosmeri life and Bosmeri culture we have to look at the foundation of their beliefs. Many of their peculiarities and oddities can be gleaned from their religious views. In much the same was as Bosmeri law stems from Aldmeri law, Bosmeri religion stems from Aldmeri religion and has a great deal in common with the Altmer of neighboring Alinor. We learn about this religion in detail from The Monomyth.


    The Bosmeri Creation Story

    In the beginning there was only one, Anu a Cosmic god. Much as mortals are apt to do, Anu considered his state and his being. From this were born two aspects, one was his very spirit, the very nature of the universe, Cosmic Order who is called Anuiel. But it also spawned a second split, a shift as the darker thoughts of limitations and boundaries formed in order. Thus the polar opposite was created, and this aspect of chaos and change was called Sithis. These two, Anuiel and Sithis became the primal forces of Order and Chaos. Between these two titanic forces was spawned a null space called The Grey Maybe, also known as the state of Aubris.

    In this empty space between them were many parts of Anuiel all asking the same questions, but they were without form and unacted upon. Thus the first aspect was made to counteract this; Anuiel split his very essence of order and created the being Auriel (known elsewhere as Akatosh). He came through to The Grey Maybe as a single emerging concept, time. Thus with this set in place, other aspects of Anuiel could better understand their limits and concepts, and thus the other aspects could form themselves into coherent and separate beings. Thus they began to grow and form, eeking out their own respective dominions and emerging as rulers over their realms.

    The book Sithis directly states that Sithis himself saw the aspect of Anuiel as a threat. As these aspects began to order themselves and control the vast space called The Grey Maybe. But existence didn't seem to change, it was the same creature split into many, “Stasis asks merely for itself, which is nothing.” And for this, an aspect of Sithis was created, and the being was known as Lorkhan, and he was sent to destroy the statuesque of The Grey Maybe.

    The Elves likewise believe that these new aspects formed realms in the void and were aligned along the two great primal forces. Some were more closely aligned to Sithis, and some to Anuiel. Auriel and Lorkhan were simply closest to these respective states of polarity.

    Lorkhan was a clever being, immediately he set about crafted a great plan set around the perceived concepts of limits and endings. Thus, he went to the other aspects, and spoke with them, outlying a great plan to create a single soul for The Grey Maybe, a cosmos inside itself. It was envisioned to be a place in which each of the different aspects could contemplate and reflect in the very same way as Anu did to spawn Anuiel and Sithis. These other aspect spirits agreed, and thus they set to work constructing the foundations and plans for the soul of The Grey Maybe, which they named Mundus. And in this act of creation, the aspect spirits became known as the et'Ada.

    But the creation of Mundus in The Grey Maybe was all limitations and not the same balance of The Grey Maybe. Lorkhan had tricked the other et'Ada and created a world of change, suffering, pain, a world of Sithis without Anuiel, an existence lacking in balance. In this creation the et'Ada were trapped and for the first time, the et'Ada began to die. Many were destroyed in the creation of Mundus itself. Some et'Ada recognized this betrayal before it was too late, the architect Magnus who laid the plans for Mundus ripped a hole in the veil creating the Sun, and other lesser spirits tore free and created the stars.

    Others, such as Jephre, transformed themselves into the physical laws of the world, known as the earthbones, in order to escape death for all things. Other et'Ada married and procreated, spawning weaker and weaker generations. From this the Aldmer were physically created. Lorkhan tried to create something similar, where as Auriel had created descendents, Lorkhan had created slaves, and they were called Men (Sithis). Those that created the elves were known as Aedra, literally meaning 'ancestors' while the other et'Ada spirits were known as Daedra, 'not-ancestors'.

    Aruiel recognized the betrayal and pleased with Anuiel to take them back. But by creating Mundus, they had destroyed the state of balance, and The Grey Maybe was destroyed. Anueil granted Auriel something else though, a bow and shield, so that the Aldmer could be saved from Lorkhan's creation. Already many of the Aldmer had fallen, the Chimer had been tricked and tainted by the other Daedra, and the Bosmer were created 'Mannish wives' and thus were half breeds of a tainted lineage. Thus the first war began.

    The Aldmer were already fragmented, and Lorkhan and his army invaded The Elder Wood, Altmora, and destroyed it. Thus the Elves were driven from their homeland they were dispersed when Altmora (known as the Elder Wood) fell to Lorkhan's creatures, Men. Thus all the elves were driven from their homeland south towards the continent called Old Ehlnofey, a shattered part of a realm that became Tamriel. The Men followed them there as well, and fell upon the elves again. Trinimac, Auriel's greatest knight, caught Lorkhan and drew him to the front of the army of Men. Trinimac defeated Lorkhan then tore his heart out before his war host. The Men swore eternal vengeance on all the heirs of Auriel, and dragged the corpse of Lorkhan away. Trinimac and Auriel both tried to destroy Lorkhan's heart, but the core couldn't be destroyed. Thus Auriel fastened it to an arrow and loosed it into the sea so that no one should ever find it.


    Jephre and the Shapeless Ones:

    One of the common tales ascribed to the Bosmer is that they were shaped from Chaos. While the typical story of all elves is that they are descended from the Aedra, specifically Auriel, there is also another aspect to the form that the elves take. It comes from two different stories that are the antithesis of each other.

    The Bosmer legend is that in Nirn's infancy Jephre chose them as his own people. They claim that he was one of the first gods and his domains were nature and song. He taught the birds their song and the waves theirs. Jephre is seen by the Altmer as one of their great teachers as well, but principally he is the god of the present. Jephre accomplished his molding of the natural world, then became the patron of the Bosmer. He granted the new race, the Bosmer, with their natural affinity towards animals, and he granted taught them how to survive in the wilds (Of Jephre). It was here that the Bosmer agreed with Jephre's pact, known as the Green Pact, in order to not offend Jephre who was said to be infuriated by harm to nature. Jephre then transformed into the first of the earthbones, the very laws that fixes Nirn's laws of physics. But he also left them with one last gift, Jephre gave them knowledge of the Chaos time so that they would always be defended (Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd edition). This knowledge was the basis for the transformation into the Wild hunt which will be in the next section.

    The Khajiiti legend is similar and yet different in many respects. The Clan Mothers teach that when Nirn was new the forest people had no definite shape. They shifted back and forth into horrid and terrible shapes and then dissolved again into another. Azura promised the deity Nirni –the physical embodiment of Nirn– that she would fix this. Azura plucked a number of them up and changed them into the stable forms of the feline race then set them in another garden spot to the east. She gave them all definite shapes, stopping the endless change, and thus the Khajiit were born. Jephre had been watching, a curious god he simply followed the secret path Azura had opened from Oblivion to Nirn. Here he betrayed Azura, telling Nirni that she had been tricked and betrayed and making the Nirni furious. Jephre was then given dominion over the favored Forest people, and he stopped their endless shifting and instead of giving them bestial forms he gave them the form of elves (Clan Mother Ahnissi).

    What is the implication between these two stories? They both should happen before the Aldmer were expelled from Altmora, thus, like the Nords and the Redguard, the Bosmer may very well be tangentially related to the elves by chance and not direct bloodline. They look similar, but they may have existed as a separate race on Tamriel prior to the incursion of the Altmoran elves or the Atmoran men. As the Khajiit are one of the first recognized races on Tamriel, and Jephre stabilized the world in the earliest of times, both seem to coincide that the teaching of the Bosmer happened before the great human/elven war.


    Bosmeri Pantheon:

    The Bosmeri Pantheon is very similar to the Aldmeri pantheon (with some additions), however, there seems to be variations when it comes to the principle position and stresses that are placed on individual entities. Reverence to one in Alinor might be more or less important than is given to the same entity in the Valenwood capitol of Falinesti. As such we will look at the Bosmer pantheon as presented in the book Varieties of Faith.

    The most important god to the Bosmer, overtaking Auriel the King of Gods, is Jephre. He is the God of forests, song, and seen as the spirit of the present. Jephre is known for creating the first ballads and songs, giving voice to nature, and manifesting his gifts in the bards and talented elven youth. In Altmeri legends he gave the sound to the sea and blessed the elves with the beauty of their home island (possibly Alinor, possibly Altmora, it's not as clear as it could be). The birds act as his eyes and ears as repayment for him giving them their song, and has many temples and altars in the deep secluded glades of Valenwood. He is the god of the Ranger and Bard and is recognized by all Mer as one of the first gods (Of Jephre).

    One of the Pantheon is that of Auriel, known as the 'King of Aldmer'. He ascended to Aetherius so the elves could learn the true way to escape the mortal plane.

    The son of Akatosh, he is known as 'the Mortal's God' as he was created after creation itself. He is god of death and funeral rights and staunchly opposed to necromancy.

    Baan Dar:
    “The Bandit God” is a minor god of the Bosmer, he's a god of trickery and cleverness. He is the patron of thieves and beggars.

    The Daedra Herma-Mora is known as 'the Woodland Man' and is known for nearly turning the Nords to Aldmer, though he is thwarted by Ysgramor in Nordic legend.

    Called Mara's Tear, Jone is the aspect of Masser, the larger of Tamriel's two moons.

    Is called Stendarr's Sorrow, the aspect of Tamriels smaller moon Secunda.

    The Missing Good, Lorkhan, is the antithesis god of the Aldmer as described in the above creation tale.

    Like almost all Tamrielic religions, Mara is one of the most important gods. The Goddess is a fertility god, wife or concubine of Auriel and Lorkhan, as well as the being Nir of the Anuad similar to Nirni of Khajiiti mythology.

    Unlike in much of the rest of the Empire, Stendarr is seen as simply the apologist of men and thus does not seem to be a positive god.

    The Aldmeri god of Ancestry and hidden knowledge, he was a servant scribe to Auriel. He writes all Aldmeri Accomplishments, regardless of importance, ever since the beginning of time. Xarxes created a wife, Oghma, out of his favorite moments of this written history.

    Z'en is the Bosmeri god of payment, and thus is called the God of Toil. While he is present in Argonian and Akaviri mythologies it seems that worship was imported to Valenwood by Kothringi sailors from Argonia. Z'en is an agricultural deity and one that's not always easy to comprehend. Yet, perhaps ironically given the connection to the Kothringi, his worship died out because of the Knahaten flu.


    This basis for the religious institutions of the elves we can gain a better understanding of some of their peculiar cultural aspects that will come into focus within the next section.

    Part 2: Culture and Identity →