Off and on in the Elder Scrolls series, the Daedra are facsimiles for the demons and evil gods of other universes. However, in some installments (Morrowind especially), the Daedra took on more of a morally gray and philosophical role in the world. This post was written to that intent, where even such evil characters as Molag Bal were given a purpose and a reason for worship in Ashlander society, beyond your usual edgelord cultist seeking evil powers. I feel this presents a better picture of a coherent world and is more loyal to the Pagan roots of some of the Daedric Princes.Author’s Note
[Dictation and translation credited to Cantur Caelmoryn, dated during this honorable Altmer’s travels through the foreign lands of Morrowind.]
The first thing you must see, is that there are no Good Daedra or Bad Daedra. That is a House Dunmer folly. The Daedra only ARE, and only your wisdom draws such lines.
The Daedra are not of this world, and are jealous of our walks here, even as they laugh at our inanities.
The Daedra are teachers and testers, but never masters. Only a foolish Dunmer does what a Daedra desires without consideration.
The bones of the earth are dead and can only whisper their secrets. The Daedra scream theirs, and can change the course of the world with their hands, while the Aedra must plead for mortal interference. That is their power, but beware your own arrogance if you choose to claim it as your own for a time.
The Daedra of our worship are Seven, but the Princes’ territories are as endless as the ancestors. Listen well now, and I will tell you these seven stories.
Mephala is the artist, the weaver of dance and death. Her sex is the act of creation but the destruction of will; Her murder the bringer of fear, but the possibility of night. There is birth in every death, death in every birth, and breathtaking beauty in both. Would you see only ashes and death here, in our home? Or the splendor of the morning’s kiss on the mushroom’s cap, the writhing colors of an active foyada? Lava ravages the land; lava washes the land clean. The new growth is a brighter green, but will attract more locusts and House Dunmer to prey on the land. Which would you see? Mephala reminds us that there is duality in all, and to take happiness where we can. Dance lightly on the ground else it will shift, but breathe in deep and full, else you will never know the joy that comes with our petty existence.
Boethiah is the warrior: fierce, proud, and cunning. He reminds us to never stop fighting, even in seeming defeat. If you cannot cross the foyada, go around it, go along it, wait a day and build one’s own bridge, but never to let it remain your obstacle. To surrender fully is the coward’s way out, but only the false warrior mistakes laying down one’s arms as surrender. In the face of a wicked enemy, there are no codes of honor beyond what a mer can do, and what a mer can’t. Always honor the enemy for the strength they gift you however, like the nourishment of a bull guar’s seared heart. We are greater than we know when pushed to the brink by violence. The deaths of many reveal the one who would lead. Boethiah knows this, and chases the soles of our feet with His cinders.
Azura is the mystery, the space between waking and sleeping. She governs transitions: from day to night, from the wet season to the dry, from babe to full-grown man. All change needs guidance to be wholesome, and Her smile is the proud tusks of the kagouti, as She jostles and guides Her enemy to their own undoing, or Her mates to their painful ascendancy. A flute never stays on one quaver, but sways back and forth like a woman in dance. When you are blind, you can hear this best, and that is why She would take your eyes. Azura’s realm is the grace and the balance that goes with it.
Malacath is the warning, the fallen. What is an Ashlander with no tribe, no ancestors? Exile is not in the deed but in the heart. Cleave to your ancestors, but don’t forget our heritage, the path of the wayward and the doubter. Ideals are only pillars waiting to be cast down. The rigid who do not look beneath the surface of their thoughts are eaten by the darkness that lies below, and His degeneracy is our proof of this lesson. To truly see this champion of malcontent, you must keep your mind open, but your heart stern.
Mehrunes Dagon is the sculptor of the earth. When the winds blow and waves crash, when the Mountain erupts, He is behind these things. We are of the earth and weak, and flee before Him. But remember this: as bones are re-broken to be set anew, as leeches clean a wound of blood and infectant with their greed, so we are able to make an art of it, and swallow our past mistakes. The lava burns away the chaff to make way for new grazing. He is a sister to Mephala in this way, the brushstroke to Her genius.
Molag Bal is the wanton fertility, the twister of authority, love, and childbearing. As a maggot devours offal of our kills, in His proper place He will eat of our discards, but as a maggot loose in the meat, He will foul our careful labors. His is the true power behind the Living God’s decrees, and though a wise Ashlander will feel sorrow for the sufferers of His deceit, they will also recognize the untruths this pain has given seed to. Molag Bal’s lesson is instead in the whisper of the Ashkhan’s wife before he would charge into his exploits; though she may be of weaker arm than her warrior husband, her discretion and sympathies guide her tribe as much as the control and vigors of her partner, and those who corrupt either are ceded to Molag’s mercy.
Sheogorath is the slower blight, eater of order. He is our ally against the House Dunmer, punching holes of chaos into their prideful veneers, but like a rabid nix-hound, will blunder and bite at Ashlanders on the way. Eat of His flesh and you share of this madness, so set Him loose well away from the tribes. Should He come sniffing around the yurts, coolly show Him your manners as befitting an honored guest, but do not let Him in.