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Lore Expedition: The Khajiit Pantheon, Part 1 of 3

Tags: #Khajiit  #Dragonborn1721  #Lore Expedition 
  • November 15

    General Introduction:

    Before we can delve further into the Khajiiti Pantheon, we have to acknowledge that there are deities in it that are more along the lines of just different named versions of the Imperial, Altmeri or Nordic Gods. And for the most part, the worship of these deities is almost boringly similar to the more classical worship that you see in other provinces. It is, however, important to note that at this time, most of this comes from the work of Mikhael Karkuxor (who is just Michael Kirkbride with a 'totally disguised' name) of the Imperial College, and while I'm not saying that he certainly isn't a Khajiit, it can be expected that at the very least he has a bias because of his connection with an Imperial Institute, and probably not being a Khajiit. The book's that he's written include Varieties of Faith in Tamriel and Varieties of Faith in the Empire. Varieties of the Faith: Khajiit is a condensed form of these books that contains all of the information he's written on the Khajiiti Gods. The closest we have to a Khajiit view on the overall pantheon would be Words of Clan Mother Ahnissi to her Favored Daughter, but that mostly examines the creation myth of the Khajiit.

    So who are these deities that are arguably just Khajiit versions of Altmer or Imperial Godds? S'rendarr, Mara, Khenarthi, Magrus and Hircine are all currently just different versions of other deities. Perhaps Sheoggorath is another example, but there are interesting connections to the idea of worshipping him, especially since they see him in the following manner

    The King of Insanity appeals to the darker side of the Cat-Men, who chafe at the strictures of sanity and responsibility.

    He's still essentially just a Daedric Prince of Madness and Insanity, but the Khajiit more openly worship him and accept that insanity is a part of their lives, something that is much rarer than the other small changes that are made to Mara or Magrus. And while all of these deities are somewhat boring, there are a rather astonishing number of unique gods to the Khajiit Pantheon.

    Unique Deities:

    Riddle'Thar:

    Riddle'Thar is probably the best example, because he represents, in part, something that is almost entirely unique to Khajiit Culture, in the form of Moon Sugar. 

    The cosmic order deity of the Khajiit, 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.

    While other Races to partake in Moon Sugar, it is something that represents the Khajiit in a rather monumental way, and the fact that one of their more abstract gods that represents a set of guidelines contains a connection to Moon Sugar is something that is incredibly interesting and somewhat unique. There really isn't time to delve fully into the connection between Khajiit and Moon Sugar without devolving this discussion, but it's a really cool subject. 

    Other than the connection to Moon Sugar, there's also the idea of Riddle'Thar being more of a concept or life guidelines rather than an actual deity. 

    Entry 274

    Dog-Bite-Me's story is not unlike my own. She lost a brother to the Crosstrees and came to Windcatcher Plantation. She wanted to learn how to fight. But she says the monks are trained to think. Every martial lesson is a puzzle. Until students demonstrate their understanding, they cannot advance. Riddle'Thar gave her guidance and tempered her need for revenge with a desire for justice. When she did act, it was calculated and precise. The Crosstrees never realized it was anything but an accident.

    Entry 275

    My training proceeds well, though I have some difficulty with Riddle'Thar. It seems one must view one's self as a tiny part in a greater schema. A novel way to think. Entirely different from the ways of old Aldmeris, though I admit it is far more flexible. Especially in regards to moral qualms. I will meditate upon this.

    The first source here, is the Journal of Hinaamos, by, what I presume to be an Altmer based on a few lines who is training to understand Riddle'Thar. These entries detail two aspects of Riddle'Thar; The first is, it could be Justice over Revenge, but I believe that it's more based off of Patience. Either way, Riddle'Thar teaches that rather than rushing in for revenge, that being patient and calculating is a better option for confronting foes. The second entry details Riddle'Thar's more neutral, or ambigious moral nature. Having a more flexible morality is something that is rather interesting in any set of guidelines, and it's something that Riddle'Thar seems to embrace as a concept.

    The other rather interesting source is Twilight Rites and Hymns, which talks about Lorkhaj and his connection with Riddle'Thar.

    The dro-m'Athra dance to no music but the beating Heart of Lorkhaj. It is a song without song - dark and seductive. The heartbeat is a lie that repeats and repeats until it becomes truth to the cat who hears it. When a Khajiit accepts the will of Lorkhaj as truth, they forget the Riddle'Thar and become Lost Cats. Khajiit that are well and truly bent cannot be saved through song, they can only be banished with knives and moonlight. Cats that still struggle against the Heart, however, can be drawn back from the Darks.

    There are a number of different 'discoveries' or ideas that can be formed based on this source. It could be a literal "Lorkhaj is bad, follow the teachings of Riddle'Thar" or it could be a more, metaphorical idea. Lorkhaj is essentially Lorkhan, the God of Man and something that is probably more different to Riddle'Thar and the teachings of the Khajiit. While Man and Mer are complete opposites, they still share more similarities with each other than with the Khajiit. It's possible, that Lorkhaj is a symbol for Man as a whole, and that Khajiit that turn away from Riddle'Thar/The Khajiit are doomed to a different. It isn't an entirely complex theory, in fact it's just a rather simple one, but to me it would highlight how different the different races are.

    Something to think about at least.

    Baan Dar:

    Baan Dar is directly related to Thieves, Beggers and Khajiit Cleverness (and them disrupting the plans of Elves) but there's also a few other less consistant titles that he's been given. These come from, what is pretty much the only full source on Baan Dar, The First Scroll of Ban Daar. Oh and The First Scroll also suggests that Baan Dar might have been a regular man/Khajiit at some point, so he may be an Ancestor-God.

    Baan Dar, The Legend...Thief, Warlock, Shadowmaster, Ruthless Assassin, Undying Avenger, Dark God, Robber Baron, Mastermind of Nefarious Plots. All these things and more are the Legendary Baan Dar, he who is called The Bandit God; but what is the Truth?

    Baan Dar, The Man is a much more simple and complex being. I pen this tale as I slowly die of old age and a mortifying arrow wound. I cannot decide if the truth will add to or subtract from the legend that is Baan Dar, nor if the original Baan Dar would want the truth to be known. Therefore, I will leave this tale hidden when I am done and gone, and let Fate (which was ever Baan Dar's true master and motivator) decide.

    What is interesting, is the way that Baan Dar is used by Bandits. UESP uses the following quote to suggest the theory that Baan Dar is similar to Riddle'Thar in that Baan Dar is also a manner of living rather than just a God. It's an interesting part of The First Scroll of Baan Dar, but my take is slightly different 

    The Legend grows still. Of the Dark Avenging Blade on the Wings of Night that make no sound. The Patron Saint of the Lone Wolf. The Thousand Eyes and Ears, the Hundred Arms direspectful of Time or Distance. Undying, Master of Disguise, Man of a Thousand Faces, Shapes and Sizes, Gentle, Rough-Edged, Gay, Stern. All the Mystery of the "Man Unknown and Undying"... not a single man nor God at all, but a string of seeds sown upon the land and left to grow into a forest. How to reconcile this truth with the tales of cruelty and the gangs of "Baan Dars" or "Bandits"

    My focus is more on the final line there. "How to reconcile this turth with the tales of cruelty and the gangs of 'Baan Dars' or 'Bandits'" to me this just seems like Baan Dar is a name used by other groups of Khajiiti Bandits, or perhaps that it's just the Khajiit word for Bandits. You pair that with the parts above that mentions, "if the original Baan Dar" which indicates that there are copycat Baan Dar's. 

    Rajhin:

    Hah, finally a deity that I can just say is a deity rather than the weirdness of Riddle'Thar and Baan Dar (huh, maybe it's the rhyming?). Rajhin is a relatively simple god in terms of what he represents, being the Trickster God, and general God of Thievery. He's not entirely more complicated than that to be entirely honest,  and to obviously reflect this. He has more sources written about him than either Baan Dar or Riddle'Thar. Yeah, uh, not sure why but it doesn't have to make sense and it does make Rajhin more definable than the other two. It is however, important to note that most of these are just stories written about Rajhin rather than something like The First Scroll of Baan Dar. The Thief God's Treasure is the first of these, which basically just documents some of Rajhin's thefts.

    Rajhin, he who is fleet of foot, the very embodiment of speed, agility, and slyness, has borrowed many treasures from coffers across the lands. No possession is safe from his desire—not even those of the Daedric Princes. Rajhin's most well-known plunder was the celebrated Ring of Khajiit, named after our people...

    But Rajhin wasn't finished. On his way out, he spied the killing word of the Spider, the black edge of shadow, and claimed it, as well...

    From the Webspinner's threads, Rajhin found his way to a land where all trees have fallen, and the only currency is knowledge. There, Rajhin pillaged the Book that Knows from the one who knows it all and disappeared amongst sheaves in the wind...

    There is an interesting connection between all three, in that it's Rajhin stealing from the Daedric Princes. The first two lines describe him stealing from Mephala while the third is probably Hermaeus-Mora, two Daedric Princes which aren't ever considered 'good'. It doesn't make Rajhin some sort of Lawful-Good thief or anything, but it's an interesting little tidbit of knowledge. Other then that, The Seven Shadows of Rajhin describes him stealing a man's shadow, asvRahjin and the Stone Maiden pt. 2 which also involves him throwing a man into the moon... That's an interesting connection there I suppose. He's known for stealing from Mephala, and stealing the shadows of men, or fat people really. It's mostly only interesting because Mephala is associated with Shadows as well, probably nothing too impactful but still an interesting connection.

    Closing Notes:

    Thanks for reading everyone. This is a three part series with the next article primarily being about Jone and Jode and just the general presence of the moons in Khajiit Society. It'll probably be a really complicated section that dabbles on Lorkhaj as well now that I think about it. Anyway, I'll start on that at the end of the week and then next week, write about Alkosh to finish the articles.

    This is aimed more at a quick take on the Khajiit Pantheon rather than an incredibly detailed one, so I've no doubt missed some things. I probably would've talked a little more about Lorkhaj in this one, especially where Riddle'Thar connects with him, but I wanted to leave that for part 2, and again I won't be getting too into it, just the basics.

    Sources: 

    Varieties of Faith in the Empire by Mikhael Karkuxor

    Varieties of Faith in Tamriel by Mikhael Karkuxor

    Twilight Rites and Hymns by Anonymous

    Hinaamo's Journal by Hinaamo

    The First Scroll of Baan Dar by Unknown, translated by Arkan

    The Seven Shadows of Rajhin by Anonymous

    Rajhin and the Stone Maiden part 2 by Anonymous

    The Thief God's Treasure by Wafaruz the Veracious Spitter

  • Member
    November 17

    Very good stuff DB. The Khajiit are fascinating, and their theology is another reminder to us that our most common perspective of an Aedric and Daedric mythology sometimes dosn't hold up. There is no distinction for the cats, Azura is as much of a goddess as Khenarthi to them - of the same family, as it were. Sometimes we're at risk of trying to shoe-horn their cultural distinctions into our own preconceptions in order to make nice and orderly classifications, a trap many an Imperial scholar has fallen into... "Just the members of the Eight by other names." While not necessarily the wrong perspective, it can be an obstacle in simply seeing the gods as the Khajiit do.

    I could go on at length on the Khajiit, especially Baan Daar as he is also a trickster god. One of the highlights from ESO was visiting his realm, The Five Finger Dance, after participating in an annual celebration of fuckery in Reaper's March:

    "There are trickster spirits in many of Tamriel's cultures. The Khajiit and Wood Elves have raised one to the level of a major Divine. To them, Baan Dar represents genius, sly innovation, and agile wits. He is the nimble escape when trapped in a tight spot." I loved it!

    Edit: This is the loading screen art of The Five Finger Dance:

  • November 17

    Very good stuff DB. The Khajiit are fascinating, and their theology is another reminder to us that our most common perspective of an Aedric and Daedric mythology sometimes dosn't hold up. There is no distinction for the cats, Azura is as much of a goddess as Khenarthi to them - of the same family, as it were. Sometimes we're at risk of trying to shoe-horn their cultural distinctions into our own preconceptions in order to make nice and orderly classifications, a trap many an Imperial scholar has fallen into... "Just the members of the Eight by other names." While not necessarily the wrong perspective, it can be an obstacle in simply seeing the gods as the Khajiit do.

    Heh, oops :P Really I'm not entirely sure if, at the moment at least, I can see any real change for a lot of the deities in the Khajiit pantheon. I don't doubt that they exist, but at the moment as far as I can tell Mara really is just Mara. There's probably something deeper to it that we'll discover later on, but for now I just couldn't find anything to comment on there. I should've written it differently maybe, but with most of them, I dunno...we'll have to see.

    But yeah, I do think their worship of Azurah, Merrunz, Sheggorath, even Lorkhaj are all rather interesting, and the fact that they don't differentiate between the two is one of the more interesting aspects there.

    I could go on at length on the Khajiit, especially Baan Daar as he is also a trickster god. One of the highlights from ESO was visiting his realm, The Five Finger Dance, after participating in an annual celebration of fuckery in Reaper's March:

    "There are trickster spirits in many of Tamriel's cultures. The Khajiit and Wood Elves have raised one to the level of a major Divine. To them, Baan Dar represents genius, sly innovation, and agile wits. He is the nimble escape when trapped in a tight spot." I loved it!

    Hah,feel free Phil, Baan Dar was particularly interesting and I did assume that ESO addded some rather interesting stuff to his Lore but couldn't find much of it. I might have to check out more on Reaper's March a little more.

  • November 19

    This is a very good start, DB, especially with the three deities absolutely unique only to the Khajiit. Rajhin has been my favourite since the time I played ESO, where you meet one of his Shadows and...Well, the guy stole Falinesti didn´t he? That´s just...damn. 

    Btw, since you´re into this now, there´s one thing I just never could wrap my head around. 

    Khajiit sort of worship the moons, right? Their shapes and forms are determined by the moons. And yet...the moons are Lorkhan's divine body, but Lorkhan - or Lorkhaj - is still aknowledged as sort of evil trickster in the pantheon. And then you have the Dark Moon, Den of Lorkhaj, which is tied into the Great Darkness of Namira. Lorkhaj's body worshiped, Lorkhaj's actions condemned. How does all that tie in?