The Daedra – AKA #Blaugust Day 24

Holy shit you guys, one more week of this Blaugust stuff to go! I think I am going to do another lore segment today, as honestly i’m not sure what to write about.

Today I am going to talk about the Daedra in the Elder Scrolls canon. In an earlier post I talked about the Daedra and said that they were similar to demons, but this term is simultaneously under-descriptive and overselling it. See, when… creation happened there were beings who supported, and took part, in the creation of our plane of existence, called the Aedra (or “Ancestors”), and those who didn’t support it, and took no part in it (the Daedra or “not our ancestors”). Taking part in the creation of weakened the Aedra somewhat, as it required a piece of themselves to take shape. Meanwhile the Daedra gave no such part of themselves, so they are still at full strength.

Now, while there is a vast, untold number of minor Daedra in existance (and these are the ones you could think of as the minor demons, footsoldiers of a sort), there are also several Daedric Princes (or Lords or what have you). The term might be misleading, as they are all actually gender-neutral, but leave it up to us silly mortals to assign genders to everything. As such, all of the Princes have a particular way they generally prefer to manifest to people, but they can generally do so however they wish. Each Prince is the ruler of their own specific plane of Oblivion (which is basically a different realm of reality. It’s often compared to hell, but again, this only tells PART of the story), with each one of them having sway over a different sphere of influence. Hermaeus Mora, for example, is the keeper of knowledge, memory, and fate, whereas Sheogorath is the Prince of Madness (or more accurately, chaos). There are 17 Daedric Lords in all, each with their own sphere of influence, and realm in Oblivion.  Think of them kind of like the Greek pantheon. None of them are inherently good or evil, they all just have extreme views relating to their particular position, and with some of their realms (like Peryite being in charge of Natural Order and Pestilence. It may seem like an odd combination, but when you think about it, everyone has to die somehow at some point, because it’s just the natural order of things), it can come across FEELING evil, but honestly the Daedra don’t view good and evil in the same sense that mortals do.

Over the course of the various Elder Scrolls games, the Daedra play an important role to all the different heroes in one way or another. They all have a task they would like you to do, and upon completion of their task, they give you access to a powerful relic for a time to help you on your “heroic” quest. These quests generally tend to vary on the alignment scale in a way that is fitting to their sphere of influence. In Skyrim, for example, Meridia will have you slay a necromancer who is feeding off of the souls of people killed in the civil war and has taken up residence inside one of her temples. Boethiah, on the other hand, will have you take a trusted friend to an alter and murder them outright with a ritual dagger. Funnily enough, both of them are widely considered to be two of the “good Daedra”, by people who make such distinctions.

I’ve always found the relationship between mortals and divinity fascinating in the Elder Scrolls games. Daedra worship is generally… frowned upon, let’s say, by the public at large, but at the same time it’s also widespread. Even devout worshippers of the Eight Divines (who are Aedra) will still make a sort of… nod, or give thanks, to certain Daedra in appropriate times. One of the Daedra (Boethiah) is even considered to be allied with the temple of Stendarr (one of the Eight Divines, who is the God of Mercy and Justice), so go ahead and try to reconcile THAT in your mind. Daedra are actually pretty simple creatures in their way, but mortals are limited so their simple ways are actually rather complicated from our limited perspective. The mortal relationship with them is, as I said earlier, absolutely fascinating. I realize this kind of lore-heavy wiki-esque post may only be interesting to me and a few other huge TES nerds that I may know, but that’s alright. I have a lot of fun writing about things that I think about, and so I give you over 750 words on the friggin Daedra.

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2 thoughts on “The Daedra – AKA #Blaugust Day 24

  1. It’s definitely a unique mythology. It plays out kind of like demons and legends of King Solomon whose wisdom gave him great power of those demons, which in turn gave him access to unique powers as well. But then, you mix on top of that a polytheistic religion with the Aedra, but they are far less imminent than anything else.

    It’s definitely one of the more interesting worlds/mythologies in fantasy games these days.

    Like

    • I have to agree. Daedra aren’t just the instant scapegoat for everything bad in the religions across Tamriel. (Well, unless you ask maybe the Vigilants of Stendarr, but that’s another story). They’re both good and bad. By and large people seem to accept that a lot of times bad shit happens and either the Divines or Daedra really only influenced it about as much as luck might. There may have been a pull or a tug here and there, but by and large it’s people’s fault.

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