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Lore Article: The Two-Moons Dance

  • Member
    August 10, 2015

    "Ja-Kha'jay, to you Fadomai gives the Lattice, for what is steadier than the phases of the moons? Your eternal motions will protect us from Ahnurr's anger." And the moons left to take their place in the heavens. And Ahnurr growled and shook the Great Darkness, but he could not cross the Lattice. Words of Clan Mother Ahnissi to her Favored Daughter

    Ja-Kha'jay, the Lunar Lattice, is the force exerted by the movement of the two moons Jode and Jone, which  in Khajiiti belief, influence all aspects of their lives from the mundane to the spiritual. (Moon Worship Among the Cat-Men) In the quote above we can also see how it acts as a barrier against the forces of Oblivion. 

    It is an undeniable fact that even Khajiit species, or "furstock", is decided by the positions of these moons at the time of each kitten's birth. (The Moon Cats and their Dance) (Moon Bishop Hunal)

    Every cat can see the moons, feel the caress of their sweet light as it shines on fur. Every cat feels the tug of the tides, the rhythm of the Two Moons Dance that cannot be ignored. (Trail and Tide)

    So we can see with that brief introduction that the Two-Moons Dance is inextricably tied to the Khajiit on many different levels. It is a fact of life, a religion and a philosophy. For a more in-depth look at the Khajiit one could do worse than reading Vix's articles which cover everything including their history, religion and culture.

    This article will focus more on the spiritual path taught by the Temples of Two-Moons Dance and the Way of the Riddle'Thar.

    Fadomai knew we needed Jone and Jode to protect us and guide us, and likewise you must use the left and right hands. The moons are different, but they are both moons, and, just so, you shall hold a weapon in each hand for battle. Maybe not the same weapon, but weapons still. The moons are both circles, not a circle and a square. For dance, it is the same; you hold the hands—left and right in right and left, but hands all the same. (Mazubar-do's Advice)

    The three Temples of the Two-Moons Dance are centres of worship among the Khajiit as well as schools of the martial arts. The Lunar Clergy, consisting of Moon Bishops who conduct services, regulate ceremonies involving the imbibing of Moon Sugar and rule on all matters theological. When a Mane dies, a Moon Herald is appointed to act as a guide for the potential successors on The Two Moons Path. (Moon Worship Among the Cat-Men)

    It is important to remind ourselves of the spiritual significance of moon sugar for the Khajiit:

    The khajiit also believe that their gods regularly bestow blessings to their chosen people, in the form of the moon-sugar, a substance native to the Tenmar Forest in southern Elsweyr... As has been said, the moon-sugar of Elsweyr is the holiest of substances to the khajiit. They speak of sugar as we might speak of the soul or the lifeforce. (PGE 1Ed)

    Compare that to what light is in TES and it gives us an insight into how the cats see the world of the spiritual. Light is magicka; Soul Gems store magicka; souls are magicka and so crystalised moonlight, or moon sugar, must be souls, magicka and light.

    The Way of Riddle'Thar

    Riddle'Thar (Two-Moons Dance): The cosmic order deity of the Khajiiti, the Riddle'Thar was revealed to Elsweyr by the prophet Rid-Thar-ri'Datta, the Mane. The Riddle'Thar is more a set of guidelines by which to live than a single entity, but some of his avatars like to appear as humble messengers of the gods. Also known as the Sugar God. (Varieties of Faith)

    The Way of Riddle'Thar teaches its students to reject vanity and synchronise the body with the mind. This philosophy is related to the balanced duality of the moons and how they protect the Khajiit. It's a symbiotic relationship: the cats eat the moon sugar which is the essence of their gods, gifted to them by Azurah as the third secret whispered by Fadomai. In exchange "The Khajiit must be the best climbers, for if Masser and Secunda fail, they must climb Khenarthi's breath to set the moons back in their courses."Words of Clan Mother Ahnissi to her Favored Daughter

    We can see a pattern in how Jone and Jode are strongly tied to the martial skills by looking at the book Mazubar-do's Advice as well as Litter Mates of Darkness:

    Warriors use the Way of Jone, which is to unsheathe the claws and strike the darkness until it is no more. And this way is a good way, for everyone who is strong of heart and claw can use it.

    Priests use the Way of Jode, which is to bathe the moonless dark in bright lunar light. And this way is a better way, for bent spirits thus banished do not return. (Litter-Mates of Darkness)

    In addition, Arms and Armour of Tamriel mentions that the lunar symbolism isn't confined to the spiritual arts but seems to pervade every aspect of Khajiit war-craft:

    Devotion to the moons is at the forefront of any embossment or augmentation of Khajiiti attire, and shields and plate armor are no exception. Certain shields are crescent shaped, to aid in both the veneration of Maser and Secunda, and in the swift stabbing motion through the shield's gap favored by the dagger-wielding warrior...

    ...It is rare to chance upon a Khajiiti weapon that doesn't feature a curved edge or a symbol of the waxing or waning moon. (Arms and Armour of Tamriel)

    It has been said that true masters of the Way of Riddle'Thar were where unmatched in power and skill were even by supernatural and magical means. (Master Zoaraym's Tale)

    Wizards.com: Ajani Goldmane

    Discussion Points:

    I haven't played ESO so much of my information is second hand, learnt through books rather than gameplay. Is there a concept you feel is important which I have omitted or outright ignored? In what other ways are the moons incorporated into Khajiit society? What does it mean when Fadomai says  "The Khajiit must be the best climbers, for if Masser and Secunda fail, they must climb Khenarthi's breath to set the moons back in their courses."? Is there a cultural parallel with the role of the Lunar Lattice, the role of the Dragonborn Emperor and the role of Dragonbron in Nord Myth?

    Thank you for reading, please feel free to comment, criticise or discuss below.

  • August 10, 2015

    I haven't read this, and I will, but it's worth it just for the punching kitten!

  • Member
    August 10, 2015

    Thanks Idesto, I suspected the cat might win me at least one like

  • August 11, 2015

    After the Dunmer the Khajiit have my favourite lore! They are walking talking contradictions, the race as a whole is a living enantiomorph.

  • Member
    August 11, 2015

    Thanks for the reply Mr the Pilgrim  This one is quite brief; no metaphysics to reflect some of the feedback and opinions kept on a leash. It feels quite stripped back but at least it's got all of the Khakiiti martial arts lore in one place for reference purposes.

  • August 11, 2015

    I like the idea that if the next Elder Scrolls game is set in Elsweyr it would be set during the Void Nights and you would play as an avatar of Riddle'Thar trying to restore cosmic order. I also like the idea that the Thalmor used some high end Dawn Magic to trick Rajhin in to stealing the moons from the sky.

    Hopefully if we ever get that game the hand to hand combat will have a serious overhaul. 

  • August 23, 2015

    So I've got to wondering since Riddle'thar is the Sugar God and the Khajiit see Sugar as the soul essence would that possibly make him the cat version of Arkay?