A Model of the Godhead and its Contents

(Reddit repository for the most up-to-date versions of these texts, as well as texts written after this was posted.)

Part I – Wherein a Mess is Hopefully Made Sense Of

What the hell is the Godhead, and what does it contain?

At the very top, encompassing all else, I place the Godhead, the blank dreamscape, that which all else distinguishes itself within. It has no inherent concepts except the rules that enable Dreams.

Within the Godhead, an infinite array of Dreams, each an Amaranth unto itself, paradoxically both branching off of each other and depending on nothing else but themselves and the Godhead’s rules. Amaranths determine everything within themselves except for the Godhead’s rules. This is how it’s possible to learn about the Godhead and form a new Amaranth from within the rules and concepts of another.

An Amaranth tends to carry concepts from its progenitor Amaranth into itself, tends to remember things. But memory is sometimes flawed, or deliberately altered. Either way, all cosmology is locally contained within an Amaranth, and can differ from one Amaranth to another.

Within an Amaranth, the rules of the Godhead can make themselves known through CHIM. CHIM/Amaranth is always metaphysically possible, throughout the Godhead. But the internal structure of a given Amaranth may or may not lend itself to the actual achievement of CHIM/Amaranth. That is, it might be nomologically impossible, within the physics of some Dreams, to realize that they are Dreams. Those would be dead-end Amaranths, which cannot produce further Amaranths.

On the other end of that spectrum, we can have a Dream that is structured particularly well for the revelation of the Godhead’s rules. I would argue that Anu’s Dream, containing Tamriel, fits this bill.

Within the rules of Anu’s Dream, we have c0das. These are infinite variations of its own history, which tend to center around a particular pattern of events, but nevertheless contain versions which do not. Think of it like prime numbers. Most integers are not prime (most c0das don’t diverge much from the general pattern), but, within the infinite set of integers is an infinite set of primes (within the infinite set of c0das, an infinite amount of them do diverge from the general pattern).

C0das in Anu’s Dream appear to have something to do with the absence of Memory. Anu’s Dream is amnesiac. It can’t remember the difference between the hypothetical and the real, between the fiction and the non-fiction. Stories exist in Anu’s Dream, stories are reality, to the point that even if something once wasn’t “just a story,” it definitely is now and, paradoxically, always was. So the c0da depicted in C0DA, then, probably was the “original” timeline from which all other c0das diverge, but its own events render that distinction meaningless.

Further, it’s possible for c0das to converge and diverge and interact freely, just like cross-over fiction and spin-offs and so on. Of course, that also implies the existence of corresponding c0das which do not interact with each other.

(There could be, and probably are given the infinite nature of the Godhead, other Dreams with phenomena like or identical to c0das.)

Between the omnipresent laws of the Godhead, the infinite variation of c0das, and the general structure of the Aurbis and its subgradients within most of those c0das, I think Anu’s Dream is an incredibly prolific one. Not only does every single entity get infinite chances at discovering the Godhead, but every single entity actually succeeds in an infinite number of those attempts (which is contained within the greater infinite set of c0das in which they do not). From the perspective of any given single c0da and its denizens, there are very few entities who achieved CHIM, let alone Amaranth (the infinite variations of Vivec, Talos, possibly Jubal among them, because they were present in the original from which most are patterned). But, if you regard the whole, you’ve got infinite Amaranths, Amaranths for days.

So where do kalpas fit in this?

I think they’re subject to the infinite variation of c0das. Each c0da has its own set of kalpas, and whether Tamriel’s kalpa is the last (or even occurs at all) depends on the c0da.

What about CHIM?

I’ll just point you to this thread for the mechanics of CHIM under my model, which were inspired by the thoughts of Jaridase_ZasmyoclRottenDeadite, and Mdnthrvst. For now, though, you just need to know that CHIM is the stepping stone to Amaranth. It’s knowledge of the Godhead’s workings through unity with your progenitor Amaranth, and that knowledge allows you to step outside of that progenitor and become your own Amaranth.

How does the subgradient structure of the Aurbis contribute to CHIM and new Amaranths?

It reveals the Wheel by repeating it, over and over again, smaller and smaller, with more and more focused depictions. The Wheel is the fundamental unity of an Amaranth with everything within it. Turn it on its side and see the I. That gets you to CHIM.

The jump to Amaranth, then, is the realization that if there’s an I, that means there’s something that isn’t I, something from which I distinguishes itself. That something has to be the Godhead, the blankness. I’d wager this is symbolized within the context of the Wheel first by the Void, then by Oblivion, then by the oceans. What’s across the Godhead from Anu? Other Amaranths. What’s across Oblivion from Mundus? Other realms, the Princes. What’s across the oceans from Tamriel? Other continents. This brings us to:

Akavir as the Future, and the Continents in General

A lot of hubbub surrounding this lately! Essentially, MK put forth the idea that Akavir is the Nu-Amaranth. If taken literally, this has… Problems. Problems the solutions to which cause even more problems.

So I’m not taking it literally (though the exploration of it was fun).

Rather, I’m adopting this view:

  • dream A = Yokuda of myth + unknown Tamriel + unknown Akavir
  • dream B = remembered Yokuda + Tamriel we know + Akavir we know
  • dream C = remembered Yokuda + Remembered Tamriel + Unknown Akavir.

Where A is Anu’s progenitor, B is Anu, and C is (at least one of) Anu’s progeny. In this model, MK’s statements about Akavir being the Amaranth and the future can be read as a description of C, not of B. The imagery of east/west time is a carryover from the procession of the Sun: New days always start in the east. A new Dream might carry that concept forward, and set itself in a version of an eastern continent from its progenitor Dream. Likewise, Anu might remember its progenitor Amaranth by placing Yokuda, a blasted world (remember Nir’s murder?) as a symbol of it, to the west, which is the symbolic past.

This fits especially well if you consider the above about the structure of the Aurbis and its subgradients. Why wouldn’t a Nu-Amaranth from that structure center its dream on another continent, if the continents were always symbols hinting at the possibility of Amaranth?

And it also explains why travel to Yokuda is apparently fine, but travel to Akavir is weird. The memories of the past are clear, because Anu was from the Amaranth that Yokuda symbolizes. But the Amaranth that Akavir symbolizes is alien to Anu. Anu doesn’t get it. It’s hypothetical to Anu, a land symbolizing what might be. And sometimes it’s scary, and confusing, and not what we expect, and sometimes it seems like it’s already here and changing the world we thought we knew, the people we thought we were. Thence the Akaviri invasions, the Potentates, the Dragonguard. Thence the failure of Uriel V’s invasion, because you can’t live in the future, you can only live in the present.

Atmora, the continent, too, would be a symbol of the conceptual space from which humans hail, just as Aldmeris is for the mer. Maybe the reason Aldmeris seems not to have a physical continent is because of the merish cultural rejection of the physical, of the constraints of Mundus, whereas humans embrace it. But Atmora is frozen over, motionless, and inhospitable, which is how humans’ predecessors might characterize existence outside of Mundus.

Nagging Question:

Where the hell did Memory go, if not literally into Akavir? Did it just die? Was its leaving/death yet another symbol of the possibility of Amaranth, to provoke the question of where it could have gone? In that sense, is it an inverse of an Earthbone? Earthbones died to nail down limits, but Memory died to free Anu from its constraints?

​Part II – Trans-Amaranth Travel Boogaloo

Nagging Question Answered:

Where did Memory go? That was the nagging question. In an earlier thread, I suggested that Memory literally went to Akavir, since it was the light of the new Dream, and east is where new days dawn. I later backed off of that, along with the idea of Trans-Amaranth travel, but I think I was actually onto something. Memory literally went with the Flower Baby into its new Dream.

This is not because Anu’s Akavir is identical with Tosh Raka’s Akavir. Dream B and Dream C remain separate Amaranths without conventional joined borders. More on this in a bit.

Rather, Memory left with(in) the Flower Baby, who later took the shape of Tosh Raka within Dream C based on what it found in Memory about the big shots in Dream B’s Akavir. That is, Memory joined with or entered the Flower Baby as it left to forge its own form within the Godhead.

And, since Memory’s departure was the cause of the infinite c0da digressions, that leaves room for each c0da to form its own internal Memory, which would also depart if that c0da produces an Amaranth, splitting into yet another infinity of variations.

Trans-Amaranth Travel

Remember how I said the Amaranths don’t share conventional borders? Typically we think of borders as physical lines we cross, or abstractions of those lines, laid over geography. I maintain that crossing geographical borders does not allow Trans-Amaranth travel.

But there may be a different kind of border, that allows a different kind of crossing. We’ve discussed before that Amaranths have symbolic overlaps. See here:

  • dream A = Yokuda of myth + unknown Tamriel + unknown Akavir
  • dream B = remembered Yokuda + Tamriel we know + Akavir we know
  • dream C = remembered Yokuda + Remembered Tamriel + Unknown Akavir.

What else do these dreams have in common? Well, the omnipresent laws of the Godhead, certainly. And I think that’s enough to get Trans-Amaranth travel.

Imagine sailing to Dream B’s Akavir. There you are, in a symbol of the future, having crossed the ocean, a symbol of the Godhead. You’re not in Dream C. Not yet. But what if you knew that Dream C existed? What if you had knowledge of the Godhead, of CHIM and Amaranth; what then?

I think, as long as the Akavir of Dream C were sufficiently similar to the symbol-Akavir of Dream B (based on the lineage of Memory), that the resemblance could be formed into a bridge between the two. If you knew enough about Will, and Love, and the Godhead and its contents, you could trick/convince/Will the Godhead into placing you in both Dreams at once (possible because the Godhead’s laws are present in both). Then, you’d just back off of your presence in Dream B, and there you are. You just traveled from a progenitor Dream to its progeny Dream. Maybe you’re slightly different due to the changes in physics between the two, but hey, close enough.

This should not be thought of as mere time traversal! It is reality traversal. But, because realities have sequential lineage through Memory, it can have the timetravel-like effects described by threads like this one.

 

​Part III – The Dreamsleeve

What the hell is the Dreamsleeve, and what does it contain?

The nature of the Dreamsleeve has been one of the most confusing aspects of the lore for me for the very beginning. It’s been called a magical internet, it’s considered a soul recycling system, it’s theorized to be the Center where the Dreamer sleeps…

I think it’s all of these. But maybe not in the way you’re used to thinking of it. I fully expect this bit of elaboration will be somewhat controversial, because the Dreamsleeve itself is so contradictory and many of us have built ideas of what it is or might be. But, here we go:

Under the excellent influence of /u/Jaridase_Zasmyocl, /u/laurelanthalasa, and /u/IceFireWarden, I’ve come to see the Dreamsleeve as the portions of the Godhead between Amaranths. For one thing, it certainly feels accurate to describe the thing around Dreams as the Dreamsleeve. I’ve always thought it was odd to consider the Dreamsleeve as containing the Dreamer that contains the Dreamsleeve. So now I don’t!

As for its contents, well, earlier in this series of posts I described the medium of the Godhead as “concept-blank”, as containing only the rules required for Dreams to form. But now I don’t think that’s an appropriate descriptor. Rather, I think /u/laurelanthalasa hit the nail on the head when she said this:

it’s basically stable systems swimming in an infinite river of data.

That is, the Dreamsleeve, all the parts of the Godhead that aren’t Amaranths, is the infinite river of data. It contains and transmits all information, all possible things, all possible ideas. But it’s incoherent. It’s jumbled, almost impossible to parse, indistinguishable from random noise, and so, despite being utterly full of stimuli, it provides the sensory deprivation necessary for an Amaranth to start up a Dream. It’s like a white noise machine, y’know?

How does it recycle souls?

I think this will require a re-thinking of what souls are. People who’ve seen me around here in the last few months might recall that I’m fond of a particular idea of what souls are like. I’ll ask them to endure once more!

Unlike in real world modern religions, I think souls in TES should be thought of as made of multiple parts, which can be separated. At a minimum, I think there are two such parts: The AE, the information that is the soul’s identity, history, memories, personhood, and so on; and the animus, the spark, the little star, the hole that draws magicka from the environment, which is then used by the identity to animate the body according to its desires.

I think this has a lot do with why enchanting isn’t considered necromancy by Tamrielic society at large. When you’re enchanting a weapon or trinket or shield or rock or whatever, you don’t have to tie an identity down to it. You can take a “white soul,” that is, only the animus of the soul, and slap a different set of information on it to make use of the magicka it gathers (that would be the spell that the enchantment casts). But if you use a black soul, the animus and the identity tied together, then it’s necromancy.

Consequently, I don’t think black and white souls have anything to do with Arkay’s decision or sentience or power or any of that. I think it boils down to whether you can remove the identity from the animus. This has to do with whether the AE considers its soul to be indivisible, whether it believes the animus to be inextricably part of their identity; this constitutes a grip on the animus that is extremely difficult to break. This handily explains why Vivec apparently has a white soul, according to TES III (hir AE knows better re: the animus), why Falmer appear to be regaining their sentience but still have white souls (their culture probably doesn’t espouse an indivisible soul), why a mammoth has a grand soul despite being relatively simplistic (size of animus is unrelated to sophistication of AE), etc. As for the Orsimer, I’ve seen no convincing argument they ever had anything but “black” souls. I have since revised this particular position: Arkay blesses some people to protect them from being soul trapped without their permission. This has to do with whether cultures that are mythically “in charge” of Arkay and his aspects regard a class of beings as “people.” The souls themselves aren’t changed at all. The only difference between a white soul and a black soul is whether Arkay has warded it in this way.

Okay, so, now that I’ve elaborated on this particular idea of souls, where does the Dreamsleeve get involved? I think it’s as simple as the Dreamsleeve being the place where all information comes from, including the information that makes up an identity. It doesn’t recycle a soul as a whole so much as take in the information of an identity, which gets lost, absorbed, in the random noise. Its elements may get used again, shuffled in with others, when another identity is pulled from the noise by Anu, or another Amaranth. The animus, then, may wind up within an enchantment, taken by some divinity for its own purposes, or trapped in a soul gem indefinitely.

(Note that it would also be possible for a divinity to take an identity rather than let it fade back into the random noise of the Dreamsleeve. This would be the case of a “soul” winding up in an afterlife rather than being recycled. And notice that the identity in particular, the AE, is what is usually said to “align” with a divinity in this case.)

Magical internet?

So, if the Dreamsleeve is external to Amaranths by definition, how can it be used by Anu’s mortals to communicate with each other?

Well, how does Anu pull identities from the Dreamsleeve? I think it’s simply tied to an Amaranth’s nature in shaping the noise into stable systems. The mortals, as pieces of Anu, have this ability as well. They’re shaping little loops of information from one part of Anu to another; memospores, meme-spores, bits of information launched into the Dreamsleeve’s wind and retrieved by knowledge of its presence. They might just misunderstand what the Dreamsleeve is, and what it indicates about the nature of their reality.

A memospore without a pre-prepared receiving destination, then, would just get lost in the noise, a message in a bottle in an ocean with no hope of reaching shore except by extreme coincidence of someone stumbling on the proper mental configuration to receive it.

(Think about what the previous two sections would mean for reincarnation and for Shezarrines. Viruses indeed; the former received passively by symbolic actions, the latter shaped into symbols by information injected within the soul from the start.)

The Center

Before I go further on this one, a disclaimer: I’m not entirely clear on the symbolism of the Sermons. If the Center isn’t actually to be taken as the Dreamsleeve, then just ignore this part.

But, if we do take the Center as being the Dreamsleeve, where the Amaranth sleeps and Dreams the Dream, then it’s clear that would line up with this model well. The stable system of the Amaranth swims within the random noise of the Dreamsleeve. And why is it called the Center if it’s outside? Well, consider the Amaranth as a point in an infinite sea of Amaranth points. When you’ve got an infinite expanse, where’s the center of it? Everywhere. Each point has an equal distance to the infinitely distant edges of the expanse. The Center is everywhere, at the edges of everything. Around every aspect of the stable system of the Amaranth, the Center roils. In the same way, the elements of Mundus are a stable system, around which infinite Oblivion roils, at the edges of every body. Remember:

What’s across the Godhead from Anu? Other Amaranths. What’s across Oblivion from Mundus? Other realms, the Princes. What’s across the oceans from Tamriel? Other continents.

This brings us to:

Trans-Amaranth Travel as a Whopping Big Memospore

In Part II, I discussed Trans-Amaranth travel as making use of the symbolic ties between Amaranths, which are formed through Memory. But I wasn’t very clear on the mechanics, because, at the time, I didn’t have a solid idea as to how it would work.

Imagine yourself as a Trans-Amaranth traveler, and the continental symbols as giant I/O ports, matched up by their symbolic similarity. You’re sailing for a distant port, more distant than anyone who doesn’t understand the Godhead could realize. But what does the ocean symbolize? The Void between Amaranths, the Dreamsleeve. Crossing the ocean is integral to the process of Trans-Amaranth travel, because it symbolizes crossing the Dreamsleeve, just as the points of departure and arrival, the continents, symbolize the Amaranths.

The whole time, you’re pushing this symbolism out into the the Dreamsleeve. It’s forming a transient orderly system within the Dreamsleeve, a giant bolt of a memospore, a coherent beam of information that homes in on its most similar point out in the Godhead, the receiving symbol of the destination Amaranth. For the duration of the bridge, those Amaranths are joined as one, by a shining laser of ideas.

That’s how you would “trick” the Godhead into placing you in both Dreams at once. You turn yourself, and your actions, and all the information contained therein, into the bridge, by sheer awareness of meaning. Again, this wouldn’t happen by accident. It would require tremendous Will and enlightenment and understanding of precisely what you’re doing. As /u/laurelanthalasa put it, “Serious badassery.”

 

Addendum I – The Dreamsleeve, Oceans, and Hermaeus Mora

In Part III, I described the Dreamsleeve in the following way:

The Dreamsleeve, all the parts of the Godhead that aren’t Amaranths, is the infinite river of data. It contains and transmits all information, all possible things, all possible ideas. But it’s incoherent. It’s jumbled, almost impossible to parse, indistinguishable from random noise, and so, despite being utterly full of stimuli, it provides the sensory deprivation necessary for an Amaranth to start up a Dream. It’s like a white noise machine.

And regarding the controversial “soul recycling” aspect of the Dreamsleeve, I said this:

I think it’s as simple as the Dreamsleeve being the place where all information comes from, including the information that makes up an identity. It doesn’t recycle a soul as a whole so much as take in the information of an identity, which gets lost, absorbed, in the random noise. Its elements may get used again, shuffled in with others, when another identity is pulled from the noise by Anu, or another Amaranth.


The following from Part III’s comments, in response to /u/Mdnthrvst’s skeptical comment:An identity being constructed from the noise of the Dreamsleeve fits with its description as a map of all mortal minds (in that said map is contained within the noise), though I can’t for the life of me recall where that description came from either. So the question can also just be phrased as what Anu pulls from the Dreamsleeve. Even if the identity doesn’t return to the noise, the noise is infinite and random, so recycling isn’t necessary at all.

So, whether the Dreamsleeve recycles or does not, I think the AE comes from and returns to it in some fashion.

Next up, a running theme from this series is the symbolism of parts of the Aurbis matched up with greater metaphysical principles of the Godhead:

What’s across the Godhead from Anu? Other Amaranths. What’s across Oblivion from Mundus? Other realms, the Princes. What’s across the oceans from Tamriel? Other continents.

Finally, in a recent thread, there has been a lot of discussion about Hermaeus Mora, the oceans, and mortal memories. If, as the Mora worshiper in that screencap says, all mortal memories go into the water, then that implies a connection with the Dreamsleeve.

I’ll posit the following to thread these all together: The oceans of Nirn, as discussed before, are symbols of the Dreamsleeve. In the same way that Amaranths might provide access to each other through the symbolism of continents, oceans and other bodies of water might provide access to the Dreamsleeve through their own symbolism. Mortal AE might pass through the oceans to join up with the infofoam of the Dreamsleeve; perhaps they even leave imprints of themselves in this process, memories, which might be called up again from the depths. (I’m reminded here of the holographic theory of black holes and the information they consume.)

And it’s especially fitting that Hermaeus Mora be a sea-god, in light of this. The Dreamsleeve contains all possible information, roiling about in an incoherent mess (according to me, anyway). The oceans contain all mortal memories, perhaps churning about in the depths. Mora contains an infinite library, impossible to navigate, with unlabeled books and snippets of sense lost without the context required to decode them.

So, once again I fall on the side of symbolism rather than literal interpretation with this new information. The oceans are still the oceans, but, through their symbolic nature, they can serve as gateways to higher-order concepts, such as the Dreamsleeve, Oblivion in general, or Mora in particular. It all depends on how you interpret them, and whether you have the mastery or inherent nature required to feel the connections.

(I would tentatively venture that this also implies that Oblivion is indeed infinite in variation, with realms and spirits, both lesser and greater, that no finite mortal has ever encountered or heard of. They’d be off doing their own things, without a care in the Aurbis for Nirn and its affairs. Oblivion politics indeed, Haskill.)

​Addendum II – Aetherius as the Afterlife

In Part III and Addendum I, I discussed the Dreamsleeve and the senses in which it might “recycle” AE, but I did so without special regard to the existence of afterlives like Sovngarde and the Far Shores. /u/Nigh-thawks has recently brought to my attention the firm positioning by ESO of afterlives within Aetherius, and I think there’s potential here for yet more symbolism shenanigans.

From Addendum I:

The oceans are still the oceans, but, through their symbolic nature, they can serve as gateways to higher-order concepts, such as the Dreamsleeve, Oblivion in general, or Mora in particular. It all depends on how you interpret them, and whether you have the mastery or inherent nature required to feel the connections.

Further, we also know that Aetherius is outside Oblivion, at the edge of the Aurbis, forming the rim of the Wheel.

So if the AE of the departed pass through the oceans to be incorporated into Memory and meet up with the Dreamsleeve, perhaps they don’t just stop in the Dreamsleeve and get torn apart into their component information-parts. Instead, consider the dead AE as a memospore. It gets launched out into the Dreamsleeve, and if there’s a portion of the Aurbis that will receive them, it homes in on it, gets pulled back out of the Dreamsleeve. Such portions could be either the realms of the Princes or the realms of Aetherius, of which I believe only the Far Shores and Sovngarde have been explicitly named thus far. (If there is no such receiving portion, well… back to the ol’ white noise for you, little AE. Hope you mastered Will, because that’s the only way you’ll survive out there.)

So there are the bare mechanics laid out, but what about the symbolism? How does it fit in with the structure of the greater Godhead?

As quoted before:

What’s across the Godhead from Anu? Other Amaranths. What’s across Oblivion from Mundus? Other realms, the Princes. What’s across the oceans from Tamriel? Other continents.

The Princes can be taken as symbols of other Amaranths, and so, too, can the realms of Aetherius. The passage of the AE through the oceans, through the Dreamsleeve, to end up at new, symbolically aligned realms? Sounds familiar!

Imagine yourself as a Trans-Amaranth traveler, and the continental symbols as giant I/O ports, matched up by their symbolic similarity. You’re sailing for a distant port, more distant than anyone who doesn’t understand the Godhead could realize. But what does the ocean symbolize? The Void between Amaranths, the Dreamsleeve. Crossing the ocean is integral to the process of Trans-Amaranth travel, because it symbolizes crossing the Dreamsleeve, just as the points of departure and arrival, the continents, symbolize the Amaranths.

Seems to me, then, that the passage of the mortal AE into the various realms of Aetherius and Oblivion is a symbol of Trans-Amaranth travel.

Which raises a question: Why are there realms which receive mortals in Aetherius to begin with? They can’t be the plane(t)s of the Aedra, not really. Those are dead, and inextricably tied to Mundus. They’re not in Aetherius. But we do know about some beings that are. So here’s what I suggest: Magnus and the Magna-Ge have constructed these realms within Aetherius. Their motivations could be one, or both, of two options: 1. They regret and mourn the fates of mortal AE without such destinations, the AE-without-Will torn apart by the noise; 2. They want to complete the symbolism of the Aurbis as much as they can, because they have come to believe in Lorkhan’s project after the events of the Dawn.

This is bolstered, I think, by the presence of both strange and (relatively) familiar spirits within Aetherius. On the one hand, who the hell is Thermallélé? On the other, Merid and Daubella seem pretty obvious. But they’re also different. This is because Amaranths who depart the Aurbis, too, will be at once strange and familiar, new interpretations of Memory. (And I think it’s pretty obvious, too, that the Magna-Ge fled from the “trap” of mortality, just as Amaranths conquer death and depart from Ald-Anu.) As for the motivations, well:

I’m sorry I left, but hey, I’m still right up here.

So why the difference between the Magna-Ge and the Princes? If the Magna-Ge are symbols of Amaranths originating from Ald-Anu, then the Princes would be symbols of Amaranths who did not originate from Ald-Anu. Predecessors, or parallel-but-independent. Beings who insist that, no, really, Mundus isn’t all that, they have other concerns, just as some Amaranths, if given voices, might insist that Ald-Anu isn’t all that, but merely part of a larger tapestry. Yet the Princes, for all their protestation, still meddle in Mundus’ affairs, which makes me wonder whether other Amaranths have likewise brushed up against Ald-Anu, which fall outside of its progenitor(s) and progeny. It seems possible, to me. Symbolism can happen by accident, after all, and those connections can still be taken seriously.

I will further suggest that Sovngarde’s presence indicates that Lorkhan, as the Void Ghost, also has access to Aetherius, slinking in by taking the form of the unstar Serpent constellation. Note the following description of the Serpent from Sermon 33, emphasis mine:

‘I am born of golden wisdom and powers that should have forever been unalike! With this nature I am invited into the Hidden Heaven!’

By which he meant the Scaled Blanket, made of not-stars, whose number is thirteen. Lie Rock became full of foolishness, haggling with the Void Ghost who hides in the religions of all men.

Perhaps Aetherius is where all botnets are, held up against the Void that is the Dreamsleeve, intercepting suitable newcomer AE before Daubella or some other Ge has a chance to usher them through an appropriate sign down to Mundus.

 

Addendum III – Mythopoeia and CHIM

This time around, I’ve had a thunderbolt of inspiration courtesy of /u/Hollymarkie’s comment on my thread about Towers and mythitecture:

Like Ada-Mantia is the one that shaped reality around it, the Towers shape the reality of the people (mythopoeia? Homo Mensura? maybe a bit of both).

Symbolism abounds!

Mythopoeia is (according to me, anyhow) the ability of mortal stories to alter and fracture and shape the AE of the Aedra and Earthbones, who died as part of the creation of Mundus, became comatose and shifting and many-faceted. They gave up agency, or had it stolen from them, depending on who you ask, and so they cannot choose to define themselves, even as they form the underlying rules and themes of the Mundus.

And, as discussed in my mythitecture theory, the Towers form the various collective AE of the mortal denizens of Mundus, as their plot threads stabilize and shape the nature of the Aedra and Earthbones. The Towers are giant mythopoeia machines, essentially, carving out the aspects of the Aedra by force of cultural belief and story.

Now, take Mundus as a symbol of Aurbis, the Wheel within the Wheel, as usual (and note that Anu-as-Amaranth died to form Aurbis, and split into many aspects). At the Aurbical level, from the apex of the Tower, from the state of Love under Will, Aurbis can be shaped. What does that look like at the Mundane level? What symbolizes CHIM within Mundus? The conscious manipulation of mythopoeia, of course. It’s right in the title of this thread. And there’s also the obvious connection between the use of Tower label for both phenomena.

From the apex of a mythic Tower, one can shape Mundus, and from the apex of the Tower, the Wheel turned on its side, one can shape Aurbis. What constitutes the apex in the case of a mythic Tower? Probably depends on the Tower, but in the more literal cases, the actual top of the structure; being within it does not suffice, just as being within Love does not suffice on its own. And this corresponds with the apex of the Aurbical Tower, which, as mentioned above, is the state found by taking the Triangular Gate, that is, the achievement of Will. Love under Will; Will is on top.

So, if Mundus is designed as a symbolic roadmap to Amaranth, through CHIM, what better way to reveal the possibility of CHIM than to reproduce it in miniature? To demonstrate the changing of a world through willpower and belief, with tools that look an awful lot like the mechanisms of CHIM?

Sidenote: The various apotheoses of Talos are very interesting to dissect in this light. Which came first, mantling Lorkhan, CHIM, or the second Convention? I’d wager the lattermost came first, that Talos became a conscious mythic Tower, then felt Love through that state, survived via Will, and followed this up by finishing the formation of the Empire, thereby mantling Lorkhan but remaining distinct through Will. And yes, I mean all of Talos. Not just Septim. The enantiomorph fused their souls, and they know it; what one has, they all have, in my opinion. (Speaking of the enantiomorph, consider how much more prepared Talos would be to take the Triangular Gate, the Royal Enantiomorph, having already undergone an enantiomorphic event before feeling Love. And think about what that might mean for the Nerevarine’s chances at success in the Endeavor.)

 

(The texts after this point aren’t strictly part of the series above, but are still part of this c0da.)

 

Nirn’s Divinity, the Missing AE, and Talos Twice-Hearted

At Convention, Auriel (the Rebel) violently excised the divine Heart of Lorkhan (the King) as Magnus (the Observer) looked on from Aetherius, having betrayed Lorkhan. Auriel, the newly reigning King, then imbued Nirn with this extracted divinity. Nirn, having acquired this unguided, mindless divinity, was able to sustain its form without the conscious presence of the et’Ada, who, when awake/alive, warped Nirn too much for it to be stable (but they were still inextricably tied to it). Their conscious selves never left; they just died. They died into Nirn, forfeited the vast majority of their AE, their egos, to Nirn’s unguided divinity, and thus became structures upon which Nirn proceeded (their Hearts remained, as ever, in the sky). But, from time to time, they may stir, and slightly or more than slightly warp Nirn. See: Dragon Breaks, blessings, Martin Septim.

Lorkhan lost his divinity, but not his AE. Lorkhan, in this sense, is an opposite of the Aedra. He is the Void Ghost, the Missing God, an empty skin slinking about. Sep. His AE asserts itself fitfully in the mortal realm, in an attempt at taking care of his own Heart, furthering its vitality and trying, in some sense, to act as its guidance once again, to reclaim his divinity without divorcing it from his cherished creation.

These fitful assertions take the form, mostly, of Shezarrines, mortal avatars. These avatars have varying levels of awareness of their demigod natures, but all act in some way to further Lorkhan’s goals, because they are all, collectively, in the most fundamental sense, the ghost of Lorkhan, the shambling AE to Nirn’s divinity.

Three Shezarrines in particular did three extraordinary things, mythically immense things. First: King Wulfharth, Zurin Arctus, and Tiber Septim anon Hjalti Early-Beard reenacted the enantiomorph of Convention, the King, the Rebel, and the Observer, when Zurin (the Observer) betrayed Wulfharth (the King), solidifying Septim (the Rebel) as the new King. Three beings who were essentially the relatively unconscious stirrings of the divinity-bereft, shambling Void Ghost reenacted divinity’s power and squabbles, which themselves were the subgradient echoes of an even higher conflict. In doing so, they fused together, their identites interlinking yet again, and drew upon the divinity of their supergradient selves, granting Lorkhan’s AE a new Heart. Their apotheosis resulted in the oversoul of Talos. This was a Walking Way, the sixth, soul fusion.

But that was only the first of three extraordinary feats. The second is this: At some point, Tiber Septim anon Hjalti Early-Beard attained CHIM, the secret syllable of Royalty, the fifth Walking Way. In short, Septim became aware of his place in and relation to the rest of the universe, realized that he exists and does not exist simultaneously, but managed to retain his distinct identity through Will. Septim thus achieved another divinity, a divinity that his Ghostly AE father-self intentionally failed to achieve so that mortals might learn from his failure. Talos, then, is the possessor of divinity twice over, is the AE of Lorkhan not only conscious but also Awake. Fitfully assertive and surgically mortal Lorkhan unconsciously followed his own example and achieved what he meant not to.

The third: Talos united Tamriel, a body of disparate and clashing polities, through treaty, treachery, or outright violence, depending on whom you ask and where you look. This echoes Lorkhan’s actions as the impetus for Mundus, Lorkhan who united so many spirits into one body, through treaty, treachery, or outright violence, depending on whom you ask and where you look. Talos thus mantled Lorkhan directly, a piece mantling the whole, and took Lorkhan’s place in the mythic; this is the fourth Walking Way. But, unlike the normal process of mantling, Talos did not become indistinguishable from Lorkhan. This is because Talos knows CHIM, the secret of maintaining distinct identity within the knowledge that you are identical with all else. In this way, Lorkhan returned to his place in the mythic under a new name, and cemented his newly acquired divinities.

Talos is Lorkhan who fathered Lorkhan; Shor, Son of Shor. Many-Headed Talos, the Missing God Returned, Twice-Hearted, Void Ghost Resurrected.

Talos’ role in the Aurbis is this: Talos reinforces Mundus against the (sometimes internal) forces working toward its end, and stymies them further by continuing to send Shezarrine avatars to the Arena. Lorkhan’s AE has claimed two new Hearts and is more consciously pulling the strings of Nirn’s AE-less divinity. Talos knows Love, and wields Love in the service of Will. The House of We, the identities carven of self-division, of self-violence, paradoxically have a conscious, unified deity of their own, solidifying the place of mortality and its transcendence in the fabric of the Dream. In Talos, Nirn talks in its sleep and says, “I AM (NOT),” and it asserts divine truth.


Terms, both for those who don’t know and to explain exactly what I mean when I use them here, which may differ from how others use them:

AE – Identity, self, selfhood, consciousness, ghost (when disembodied), story-shape, narrative-and-plot-and-narrator in one

Arena – Division of AE through self-struggle, self-rejection, self-violence; another name for Nirn, its Heart, and Mundus; the House of We

Aurbis – Totality, the Dream and its Dreamer, the state of Amaranth, the story that tells itself to itself, the sum of all AE and all Heart

CHIM – Pairing of Love and Will, allowing persistence of AE even in the realization of its illusory (self-constructed) nature; lucid dreaming, a character becoming an author without forsaking characterhood; I AM AND I ARE ALL WE, a Walking Way

Convention – A particular instance of the Enantiomorph, the creation of Mundus

Enantiomorph – A particular story-shape, a tripartite AE, echoed through the gradients, granting relevance (new Hearts) to itself by repetition; a motif, the King, Rebel, and Observer; a kind of soul fusion; a Walking Way

Heart – Divinity, the ability of an AE (or collective of AE) to stake out a claim to importance and mythic relevance, conceptual meaning, sphere

Mantling – Acting out a story-shape, an AE, in such a way as to become indistinguishable from it in the mythic; when the AE has a Heart (or would be granted one in the process), a Walking Way

Mortal – Embodied AE without a Heart to call its own

Mythic – The quality of being part of the story of the dream, and thus not forgotten or left out by the Godhead; the bits left after proofreading

Walking Way – A path which, when taken, leads to possessing a Heart, to the transcendence of mortal form

CHIM:  Mastery and Domain; Will and Love

CHIM

Ehlnofex word for Royalty. In terms of the metaphysical and spiritual principle, I will define it as the pairing of Will and Love.

Will

Other words for Will: AE; I; Mastery; I AM; the Secret Tower.

Mastery over the self is crucial in the state and exercise of CHIM. If you don’t have it, you zero-sum. This is worse than death. Your storyself, your AE, doesn’t even get to pass into the waters of Memory, and you don’t get a chance to live again as part of a new Amaranth, like the regular dead people.

What does Mastery consist of? What is Will? It is the assertion of the self. I AM. And it carries with it an assertion of nature, an assertion of who and what. All of that. It’s the strength of an AE that cannot be bent by any other, that cannot be lost or subsumed. A song that cannot be erased or forgotten, because it sings itself with utter confidence.

Love

Other words for Love: Domain; Unity; Jurisdiction; I ARE ALL WE; the Tower.

The first experience of Love is that which carries the danger of zero-sum. It is the fire in which Will is forged. None can come to true Will without first knowing the transformative divinity of Love.

What does Domain consist of? What is Love? It is the feeling of unity with the whole of the Dream. I ARE ALL WE. The extension of the self to encompass all else is “falling into love,” as Jubal puts it. On the first experience of Love, an AE has two paths. The easiest is to lose itself into Love, to zero-sum, to melt back into the Dream. The hardest is to assert itself, to beget itself within the Dream instead of being begot by the Dream. The latter path is the achievement of Will.

CHIM as Royalty; Molag Bal; The Secret Tower

Bring the two together. Will plus Love. Indomitable I AM paired with divine I ARE ALL WE. That is CHIM. That is Royalty.

Why “Royalty?” In Western traditions, there’s this interesting linguistic quirk known as the royal we.

Its first recorded use was in 1169 when King Henry II, hard pressed by his barons over the Investiture Controversy, assumed the common theory of “divine right of kings”, that the monarch acted conjointly with the deity. Hence, he used “we”, meaning “God and I…”

God and I. Love and Will. Domain and Mastery. Sovereign State and Monarch.

Will is a state of being which, once attained through first Love, is permanent. I AM never goes away; it’s thereafter fundamental to the nature of the AE. “The Eternal I.” A being that possesses Will cannot help but continue to exist, and the first act of CHIM is always the permanent attainment of Will, the alteration of the self to be everlasting, because that’s the only way to survive Love.

Love, however, is transient. It’s slippery. It’s extremely difficult to maintain, because to do so under Will is necessarily to dominate the Dream and shape it according to that Will. But the Dream resists; it is, after all, the product of an entirely separate I AM, that of its Dreamer. To assume both Love and Will simultaneously is to usurp Anu as the Dreamer, and it’s fundamentally untenable, because it conflicts with the nature of Will, which is the existence of the self independent of its origins. To take up Love in the state of Will is to unify the self with its origins once again, and Will can’t abide that for long.

In the previous paragraph, I used the word “dominate.” There was a reason for that. Vivec learned the secret syllable of Royalty from Molag Bal, the Prince of Domination. Vivec allowed hirself to be dominated, and learned thereby how to dominate.

I would be remiss if I did not also mention the Wheel, the Tower, and the Secret Tower. The Wheel is the Aurbis as perceived by those who have not known Love. Its shape is echoed throughout; see Mundus; see White Gold. Turn the Wheel on its side and see the Tower. See I. See the unity of all within the Wheel. See Love. But don’t stop. Don’t get lost in the Tower. Find the Triangular Gate, the Secret Tower. Find Will. Find the Eternal I.

Commentaries on Commentaries

Commentaries on the Mysterium Xarxes has a section labeled CHIM:

The Tower touches all the mantles of Heaven, brother-noviates, and by its apex one can be as he will. More: be as he was and yet changed for all else on that path for those that walk after. This is the third key of Nu-mantia and the secret of how mortals become makers, and makers back to mortals.


CHIM. Those who know it can reshape the land. Witness the home of the Red King Once Jungled.

He that enters Paradise enters his own Mother.

This supports my assertions thus far, I think you’ll find. A couple of comments:

Nu-Mantia, New Law, is Liberty, the ability to self-determine; the Will I discuss is a form of it. The permanence of Will and the escape from the Ald-Mantia of the Dream is the sense in which one can “be as he was and yet changed for all else on that path for those that walk after.” Those that walk after on the path of the Tower are those who start to feel Love, and they will find that the AE that possesses Will is forever beyond Love’s reach.

Interesting, too, is the last line. Some substitutions: He that enters Will enters Love. The Mother, the Aurbis, is “entered” by the tempered AE, the Will, and forced to shape that AE according to its own desires; this is the birth of that AE’s Liberty.

Enantiomorph; The Triangular Gate

Previously, I’ve discussed Shezarrines and Nerevarines as eternal botnet ghosts. /u/Sakazwal asked me, in that thread, what it would take to create a new botnet. I waffled a bit in generalities, then came to an idea.

Botnets are entities that continue to exist past mortal death. This is a… strange analogue to Will.  It is enforced by Anu the Dreamer by virtue of the importance of the enantiomorph, the first instance of which is the events that led to Anu’s Amaranth.

Now, this is perhaps a bit wobbly, but consider the pairing of Will and Love as an enantiomorph in itself. Love is the King, Will is the Rebel, and the Dream is the Observer. Will switches places with Love, dominates it, and the Dream is altered (maimed in the first act, as the AE of those with CHIM is severed, partway, from the Dream). Then Love reasserts itself, and Will is deposed. The two switch places again, with the Dream as Observer, traitorously taking control from Will and giving it back to Love, until the next act of Royalty.

That’s the Triangular Gate; the Secret Tower within the Tower:

Look at the secret triangular gate sideways and you see the secret Tower.

The secret Tower within the Tower is the shape of the only name of God, I.

King, Rebel, Observer. Anu, Padomay, (Unknown Observer; Nir?). Lorkhan, Auriel, Magnus. Wulfharth, Hjalti, Arctus. Nerevar, Sharmat, Vivec (later, Sharmat, Nerevar, Vivec). Each resulted in an everlasting self, something that persisted past death. In order: Aurbis; Void Ghost; Talos; Nerevarine. All because Ald-Anu recognizes that it’s important, that it has to beget something everlasting.

The Triangular Gate thus functions within the Tower because the Dream can’t help but recognize the enantiomorph as the creation event of something everlasting; it’s embedded in the metaphysics right from the start. Managing to take the Triangular Gate, to enact Will within the Tower that is Love is the first step toward being on the same gradient as the Dreamer, and goddamnit, the Dream has to honor the raw gumption of it. WE begets I, as the latter carves itself from the former.

Just to clarify, this is all with respect to Ald-Anu. Other Amaranths might have entirely different things they consider important and meaningful, different symbols which can lead to new Amaranths (or, it might be relatively impossible; depends!).

CHIM as a Step to Amaranth

How, then, does CHIM prepare the self for Amaranth? Easy:

A whole World of You.

God.

God outside of all else but his own free consciousness, hallucinating for eternity and falling into love: I AM AND I ARE ALL WE.

The Will is everlasting. If it cuts itself off from all senses (sets itself adrift in the Dreamsleeve, the infofoam whitenoise), it still coheres, still exists; it can’t help but exist; Eternal I. But it also can’t help but fall into Love, can’t help but hallucinate, can’t help but transform itself through the lens of Memory into a new Wheel. That is the culmination of Nu-Mantia, New Law which is Liberty. I begets WE, as the latter carves itself from the former.

The Thelema Device

A handy device to wrap your head around all of this:

I AM AND I ARE ALL WE

+

Love is the law. Love under will.

=

I ARE ALL WE is the law. I ARE ALL WE under I AM.

 

Shezarrines and Nerevarines: Viruses of AE

Botnets and AE

Let’s start with the words of Talos:

I WAS THE MASTER OF THE LAST EMPIRE OF ALL MEN! I WAS THE RED JEWEL OF CONQUEST THAT MADE ALL THINGS RIGHT! WHY DID YOU CALL ME A VIRUS?

Yes, why did Jubal call him a virus?

It’s a vulgar name for how Talos/Lorkhan operates, but it’s not incorrect. We’re talkin’ computer viruses here. Specifically, I’d like to bring up botnets.

A botnet is a collection of Internet-connected programs communicating with other similar programs in order to perform tasks.

If -ines are members of a botnet, then the bots are portions of their nature that connect with each other. I propose specifically that the AE of a given mortal can be infected by certain features (the bot) which allow for connection with an oversoul of those who have those features (the net, possibly actuated through the Dreamsleeve). Note that AE is, as always in my writing, defined as “Identity, self, selfhood, consciousness, ghost (when disembodied), story-shape, narrative-and-plot-and-narrator in one,” which, in mortals, is only part of the soul (the other part being the animus).

Vectors

How do some mortals get infected and others not? In conversation with /u/TheGhostOfDRMURDER, I think we’ve hammered out at least two methods:

  1. Direct summoning.
  2. Prophetic summoning.

Direct summoning would be something like what the Greybeards do several times in history, “summoning” the Ghost of Shor back into the world to complete some task. In the conversation I linked, /u/TheGhostOfDRMURDER puts forth the idea that they’re bequeathing the status of Ghost of Shor on someone who wasn’t before, such as by naming the Last Dragonborn Ysmir. In terms of the Shezarrine botnet, this would be like intentionally installing a fully realized bot, which may even reach back and affect the individual’s AE “before” it happens. Remember that AE is, in part, the history of an individual. This may allow someone to be recognized as a Shezarrine/avatar of Lorkhan before the events which make it so. Timey-wimey, in other words. This particular vector would require some kind of divine intervention, I think; the source of the bot being installed has to consent to the installation for it to take effect. Shor, for example, would have to agree that, yes, this person is also connected to me, now. This would be a kind of mantling, if you squint at it. But not the full-blown kind, not the “walk like them until they walk like you” kind. More like an incomplete version: The mantling of the Ghost of Shor, rather than the mantling of Shor himself. (In the same way, a botnet consists of many computers acting in tandem, but that’s not the whole of what each individual computer does. There are other programs running, other tasks.)

Prophetic summoning, in contrast, would be a more subtle vector, and possibly the vector through which traditional “-ines” emerge. This is incarnation, in other words, which is “built from the cobbles of drawn-bone destiny.” The bot consists of certain AE features, remember? Features in things like personality, history, etc. Prophecy concerns the fulfilling of certain conditions, both of personal history and of willful deeds. A prophecy is made specifically involving incarnation, and by successfully following its steps and matching its initial conditions, a mortal invites the botnet into their AE. The botnet builds a new node of itself from the seeds of chance-history and the choices made with those seeds. Examples include the Champion of Cyrodiil and the Nerevarine, both preceded by prophecies depicted in Morrowind.

Pelinal

The Star-Made Knight is a unique case. As a time-traveling artificial being, I suspect he was created in the future with the botnet node pre-installed (along with a lot of other programming, possibly including a separate botnet node connected with Aka, with whom he shared his “madness”), and then summoned by Alessia.

Nerevarines

Here the importance of successfully fulfilling the deeds of prophecy (as well as the history specifications) is made clear. In Morrowind, we meet failed incarnations, those who had the chance-history seeds, but didn’t manage to coax their growth into the full node, and thus didn’t fulfill the prophecy. They had legitimate claim to potential, but failed.

Dragonborn (Last, and Previous)

I currently believe the Dragonborn (all of them, emperors and otherwise) consist of mortal AE with the animus of a dragon, granted by Akatosh. No virus shenanigans here; almost purely mythopoeia. But the AE certainly can be infected in parallel to the dragon animus, in theory, through the vectors already discussed. This is how someone like the Last Dragonborn can be blessed by both Akatosh and Lorkhan.

Whether the Last Dragonborn was infected by direct summoning or prophetic summoning is an interesting question. On the one hand, there is a prophecy about them, but it never says anything about incarnation. I think that prophecy was the mythopoeic means by which they gained their dragon animus, yes, but I also think /u/TheGhostOfDRMURDER is correct in saying that the Shezarrine botnet gained a foothold in the Last Dragonborn through direct summoning rather than incarnation.

Heroes in General

And here we come to the biggest What If of this post: What if becoming a node in an oversoul botnet makes someone a Hero in the process? What if that’s what gives some Heroes the divine strength of Story to choose their own fates? And what if feeling those botnet connections makes such Heroes uniquely suited to certain forms of apotheosis, such as CHIM and mantling and soul fusion?

And the tantalizing possibility here: What about mortals who don’t have that botnet advantage? How can they find that Heroic freedom, how can they start to feel the connections and liberty of the divine?

I think that question is precisely why, when Jubal apologized to Talos for calling him a virus, he called him a preacher instead:

I’m sorry I called you a virus. You’re not. You’re a preacher.

Lorkhan wants mythic freedom for everyone. Nu-mantia! Liberty! All of ald-Anu’s facets deserve it, he preaches. It’s there, waiting for you. Reach out and take it for yourself, using the map Lorkhan drew for you. Even if you don’t have the aid of drawn-bone destiny, like the Nerevarine, or the favor of some extant divinity, like Hjalti and the other aspects of Talos, there are other ways to forge mythic significance.

Steal the secret of the Tower. Ascend.

 

A Theory on the Mechanics of Towers

Often people ask how, exactly, the Towers stabilize Mundus, and why, exactly, the Stones are necessary to maintain that function. I’ve had answers to these questions fermenting for a while, and I think they’re ready to put forth.

Mythitecture

The spike of Ada-Mantia, and its Zero Stone, dictated the structure of reality in its Aurbic vicinity, defining for the Earth Bones their story or nature within the unfolding of the Dragon’s (timebound) Tale. The Aldmeri or Merethic Elves were singular of purpose only so long as it took them to realize that other Towers, with their own Stones, could tell different stories, each following rules inscribed by Variorum Architects.


Every dawnmaker Tower takes a myth-form. Red Tower is a volcano and its surrounds. Snow Throat a mountain whose apex is only half here. Walk-Brass is appropriately ambulatory, and (most of the time) anthropomorphic… Though the Ayleids gave theirs a central Spire as the imago of Ada-mantia, the whole of the polydox resembled the Wheel, with eight lesser towers forming a ring around their primus. To dismiss this mythitecture as being a mockery of the Aurbis is to ignore an important point: this same “jest” gave White-Gold Tower a power over creatia unalike any on this plane(t).

With those two quotes, I think it’s clear where I’m going with this. Towers are stories. At first I thought they had to be stories about Mundus, but I turned out to be half-wrong, on further reflection. They aren’t necessarily stories about Mundus. They’re stories of Mundus. They are structures dictated from within, not from without. You follow? The Towers, collectively, are the emergent AE of Mundus, and all its consituent parts, the Aedra, the Earthbones, the mortals within, are subject to them.

Everything in the Aurbis is a song, a story. That includes Mundus, and the end of Mundus’ story is the end of Mundus itself. But stories don’t have to end all at once. Plot threads can resolve together, or separately, interweaving or splitting as they will. Therefore, to end the story of Mundus, to kill its AE, you have to resolve each of its major plot threads.

The Stones, then, are anchors, resonant evidence of the relevance of the Tower stories to Mundus’ overall arc. Material objects and phenomena eternally at the center of myth, things that scream out, “THIS REALLY HAPPENED.”

And note, of course, that the plot thread that constitutes a Tower is not necessarily the same as the purpose for which it was constructed, if it has one. The purpose for which a Chekov Gun is acquired is irrelevant to the role it eventually fulfills in the plot. But, at the same time, it is also possible for the purpose and the plot to overlap.

Resolved and Unresolved

To resolve a Tower is to end its relevance to the ongoing story of Mundus. Its pieces may persist, and may even have further parts to play, but they no longer constitute the resolved plot thread.

Take the Towers in turn:

Ada-Mantia: The first plot thread of Nirn, Convention. Anchored by the Zero Stone, which is held in the Foundation Vault. Unresolved.

Red Tower: The second, Red Mountain, the story of Lorkhan’s Heart and its flight over Tamriel, and the mer who followed it. Anchored by the Manifest Heart itself, which beat deep within the mountain. Resolved by the Nerevarine, who set the Heart free from its material form.

White-Gold: The story of the Ayleids, bleeding into the story of the Cyrodiilic humans and the empire they forged. Anchored by the Chim-el-Adabal, the Amulet of Kings, a symbol of the Dragonborn lineage and the right to rule. Resolved by the Champion of Cyrodiil, who aided Martin in shutting out Mehrunes Dagon with the power of the Amulet.

Crystal-Like-Law: The story of the Altmer quest for divinity and escape from Mundus, taking the form of the apparatus by which they sought Dracochrysalis. Anchored by a Person, perhaps Auriel, who succeeded by ascending Ada-Mantia, and whom they sought to follow by erecting Crystal-Like-Law. Resolved by the destruction of Crystal-Like-Law itself in the Oblivion Crisis, shutting the Altmer out from Auriel’s path.

Snow Throat: The story of Skyrim and its struggles with dragons, with the form of the Throat of the World, sacred to both the Nords and dragons. Anchored by the Cave, perhaps the Time Wound at its peak. Resolved by the Last Dragonborn, who entered the Time Wound and learned its secrets to defeat Alduin for good.

Green-Sap: Falinesti and its siblings, the story of the Bosmer, who did not build, but grew. Anchored by the Perchance Acorn, which could have been in many trees, and so there were many Green-Saps, and each was all, and they walked and shifted. Resolved, perhaps by the Thalmor, when the Green-Saps stopped walking and shifting.

Orichalc: The story of ancient Yokuda. Anchored by the Sword. Likely resolved by the sinking of Yokuda with the Pankratosword.

Walk-Brass: The story of the Dwemer, who hated the very idea of existence, and sought to overrule it with denial and refusal. Anchored, ironically, by itself and its refusal to let go of its single-minded purpose. Resolved by Jubal-lun-Sul, who convinced it to die, who convinced it to end by convincing it that NO is not the only answer.

Khajiit: The story of Azurah’s children, who live by and for the moons. Anchored by the Mane, who conducts them to climb and set the moons right again when needed. Resolved (for now), perhaps by the Thalmor, perhaps by assassinating the Mane.

Talos: The story of Lorkhan reborn, through the myth-echo of the enantiomorph, of his ferocious fight to protect what he loves, Mundus. Anchored perhaps by mortal life on Mundus, his beloved children. Resolved perhaps by the exodus of mortals from the Mundus in the wake of the Landfall event.

I will also conjecture that the Hist and Argonians constitute an unresolved plot thread, and thus act as a Tower. There are probably others aside.

Is it any wonder that a Tower falls with almost every game? The plot threads are resolving, sometimes through conspiracy, and sometimes through the natural course of events; that only ever brings about an end. But not the end.

 

Let’s revisit the definition of mantling, eh?

First, I’ll just link this comment for some context. It’s a list of what I think the various Walking Ways are, along with some discussion with /u/Sakazwal.

Now: The most common understanding of what mantling is comes from Talos’ own mouth (well, one of them):

The Stormcrown manted by way of the fourth: the steps of the dead. Mantling and incarnation are separate roads; do not mistake this. The latter is built from the cobbles of drawn-bone destiny. The former: walk like them until they must walk like you. This is the death children bring as the Sons of Hora.

“Walk like them until they must walk like you,” which is assumed to describe only the fourth Walking Way.

But notice that he says he mantled by way of the fourth. Not that the fourth is the only way to mantle, and not that the fourth is mantling.

Granted, later he clarifies the difference between mantling and incarnation, but there’s not a solid syntactical link between those thoughts and the description of what the fourth is.

So what is Talos actually saying, then? The first sentence:

The Stormcrown manted by way of the fourth: the steps of the dead.

Talos is here calling the fourth “the steps of the dead” and saying that he mantled that way. This indicates that mantling is a more general process, and that “the steps of the dead” are a specific kind or process of mantling. I’ll posit that “mantling” refers to the assumption of a sphere of influence, taking the mantle of an immortal concept, wearing it as your own. This can more generally be seen as any kind of apotheosis at all; that is, all the Walking Ways are mantling, but “the steps of the dead” are what we currently think of as the only interpretation of “walk like them until they walk like you” and currently equate with the word “mantling.”

The rest of the quote, less the last sentence:

Mantling and incarnation are separate roads; do not mistake this. The latter is built from the cobbles of drawn-bone destiny. The former: walk like them until they must walk like you.

Talos is saying here that incarnation (Shezarrine status, in the case of one or more of his component selves) is not in itself apotheosis, mantling, or the taking of a sphere, which only makes sense. If mantling is the taking of a sphere of influence, then incarnation is either giving one up by inhabiting a truly mortal form, or not having one in the first place. Note that Shezarrines are incarnations of Lorkhan, who was removed from his divine spark, from his sphere of influence. The Void Ghost doesn’t have a sphere, but it can still incarnate due to its Ghost status (which I believe is the primary result of enantiomorphic events). This seems to hold true of the Nerevarine, as well.

In other words, Talos mantled Lorkhan by taking the steps of the dead, and, in so doing, returned the mantle of Lorkhan to life. He took the sphere of Space and Limit by doing what its former owner did. But it just so happens that its former owner was incarnated in the components of Talos, so Lorkhan was, in a certain sense, taking it back by retracing his steps. And the specific way that Talos mantled Space and Limit involved the steps of the dead, the merging of identity through like actions. (But CHIM allowed Talos to retain an independent self, layering on an extra-confusing “fuck you” to people trying to figure out how this all works.)

So how does “walk like them until they walk like you” interact with this broadened concept of mantling? Basically, the steps of the dead are the most literal way of mantling, of taking a sphere of influence, and the least nuanced. You’re basically just shoving your AE into a pre-existing one and saying, “Ha, it’s mine now, suckers.”

But there are other ways to “walk like them until they walk like you,” and this is tied to what, exactly, “they” refers to. It doesn’t have to be a specific, pre-existing AE. It could just be the concepts of the (attempted) sphere of influence.

Take the fifth Walking Way as an example, CHIM: What’s the mantled sphere of influence? The self. Mastery over it. CHIM is an elevation of the self into a sphere unto itself. This is what allows Talos to take the fifth and the fourth without losing himself.

What did the Dwemer do? They mantled Denial, through Tonal Architecture and soul fusion, which I place as the third and sixth Walking Ways, respectively.

Mannimarco? He had control of Numidium, that is, the spirit of Denial and the collective of all Dwemeri knowledge and history. He mantled Necromancy through Tonal Architecture, by making the walking embodiment of all advanced Tonal Architects, Numidium, deny his mortality, deny the parts of him that weren’t Revenant. Anyone with formal logic training knows that from a contradiction, all conclusions follow.

(Maybe a big part of Talos’ own apotheosis was Numidium as well, denying his mortality, and double-confirming him as Space and Limit. If you like.)

The last sentence:

This is the death children bring as the Sons of Hora.

No idea what this means. I don’t know what “Hora” is doing in a TES character’s mouth or what it indicates.

But yeah, I think this broader idea of mantling as the taking of a sphere of influence is pretty solid, and works with all the texts and characters I’ve thought to examine. In particular, it means that if CoC “mantled” Sheogorath, that doesn’t necessarily mean by way of the fourth. Sheo ain’t dead, and never was, remember? Rather, I think CoC mantled Sheogorath by the second walking way, symbolic ritual:

I give you an ancient road tempered by the second walking way. Your hands must be huge to wield any sword the size of an ancient road, and yet he who is of right stature may irritate the sun with only a stick.

Second seems like some kind of symbolic magic. “The right stature” probably refers to a perceptive state, substituting the “stick” for a “sword the size of an ancient road.” Substitute the self with symbols of godhood to become a god?

If you’ve played Shivering Isles, you know that’s exactly what happened. The CoC donned a bunch of symbols of Sheo’s station to take it from him, leaving Jygallag free of the ancient curse.

Which leaves open a door: The CoC? They’re still in there, totally intact. They just choose not to reveal their old identity, except through cryptic clues. (Or not. Maybe your CoC didn’t do SI.)

And, just to throw further fuel on this, here are many uses of “mantling” in two separate TES texts by MK which appear to mean exactly what I posited above:

And with that we will regain the mantle of the imperishable spirit.


We mortals leave the dreaming-sleeve of birth the same, unmantled save for the symbiosis with our mothers, thus to practice and thus to rapprochement, until finally we might through new eyes leave our hearths without need or fear that she remains behind. In this moment we destroy her forever and enter the demesne of Lord Dagon.

You are exalted in eyes that have not yet set on you; you, swain to well-travelled to shatterer of mantles.

The Tower touches all the mantles of Heaven, brother-noviates, and by its apex one can be as he will.

By the Book, take this key and pierce the divine shell that encloses the mantle-takers! The skin of gold! SCARAB AE AURBEX!

That is your ward against the Mnemoli. They run blue, through noise, and shine only when the earth trembles with the eruption of the newly-mantled. Tell them “Go! GHARTOK AL MNEM! God is come! NUMI MORA! NUM DALAE MNEM!”

Starlight is your mantle, brother. Wear it to see by and add its light to Paradise.

None of these uses appear to have anything to do with the merging of identity, but they all seem to have something to to do with taking godhood, with apotheosis, with the taking of a role and nature. Coupled with the fact that Septim is being heartily misinterpreted, I am extremely confident in my argument that mantling is not the merging of identity through like actions. It is and always has been the taking of a mantle, the taking of godhood.​

 

Analyzing the Altmeri Commentary on Talos

All right, I think it’s a good time to take a hard look at this text and dissect its possible interpretations. It gets used to justify so many claims about the Thalmor endgame, but I’m not so sure most of those claims hold up.

To kill Man is to reach Heaven, from where we came before the Doom Drum’s iniquity. When we accomplish this, we can escape the mockery and long shame of the Material Prison.

To achieve this goal, we must:

1) Erase the Upstart Talos from the mythic. His presence fortifies the Wheel of the Convention, and binds our souls to this plane.

2) Remove Man not just from the world, but from the Pattern of Possibility, so that the very idea of them can be forgotten and thereby never again repeated.

3) With Talos and the Sons of Talos removed, the Dragon will become ours to unbind. The world of mortals will be over. The Dragon will uncoil his hold on the stagnancy of linear time and move as Free Serpent again, moving through the Aether without measure or burden, spilling time along the innumerable roads we once travelled. And with that we will regain the mantle of the imperishable spirit.

So, there it is, in all its hostile glory. Let’s get started, eh?

Tower Destruction

The most prevalent interpretation of this is that the Thalmor are trying to destroy the Towers in order to destroy Mundus and “regain the mantle of the imperishable spirit.” This is mostly based on the understanding that the Towers stabilize Mundus, so if the Thalmor want to destroy Mundus, they gotta get through the Towers first.

Problem is, it’s not supported by the Altmeri Commentary. Like, at all. It doesn’t mention Towers once. If we’re to take the Altmeri Commentary as the stated goals of the Thalmor, then the Thalmor don’t care about the Towers.

If their goal is truly to undo Time, it seems like they should care about the Towers (which, among other things, serve as markers/enforcers of Time), but that doesn’t seem to be the case at first glance.

“Erase the Upstart Talos from the mythic.”

Here’s the real meat of the text. Let’s look at what is actually being said, since they aren’t saying anything directly about destroying or deactivating Towers.

They want to “kill Man” to “escape the mockery and long shame of the Material Prison.” To do this, they list out three separate parts, seemingly in chronological order. I specify that because it invalidates the claim that destroying all the humans will destroy Talos.

These parts are numbered, in a sequence, with the third (being the “we win” step) requiring the prior two in order to happen. From that I think it’s reasonable to read the first and second as happening in that order as well. That’s just the nature of a sequential list. And the first goal is to “erase the Upstart Talos from the mythic,” whereas the second is to “remove Man not just from the world, but from the Pattern of Possibility.” If it happens in that order, then clearly the second can’t be a prerequisite for the first.

So what are they actually claiming? And why is erasing Talos from the mythic so important to the goal of unbinding Mundus? Well, because Talos is a Tower. Yes, I know, I just pointed out that they don’t seem to care about Towers. This is a bit where it just doesn’t really make sense; undoing Time and Mundus requires caring about the Towers. Seems pretty unavoidable to me, since the Towers are the structures that create and maintain Time, starting with Auriel’s adamantine spike. The best I can come up with to sweep this under the rug is that they do care about the Towers, but they’re being loud zealots about Talos in particular because 1. they hate him so much and 2. he’s one of two Towers that are gods, and the only one that is reliably self-directed. They’re focused on him in this text because he’s the Big Fish, the one they really have to worry about.

Anyway, the word “mythic” is important here. Towers are mythitecture. So erasing Talos from the mythic does not require destroying Talos (which is basically impossible at this point anyway, what with CHIM and its Eternal I). All it requires is deactivating Talos as a Tower, which, in Talos’ case, means destroying his Stone. What that is, I dunno for sure. I suspect it’s the mortal worship of him, the cultural influence he has. If that’s the case, then the Thalmor efforts to discourage his worship make total sense. This part doesn’t require the removal of humans from existence.

The next part does, of course, because the removal of humans from existence is the next part. Not really sure how they hope to accomplish this without literally murdering every single human. I suspect they attempted to use Numidium for this, and screwed up royally.

Third step is, of course, the “we win” step. And they do! Kinda. If you squint and ignore their total erasure from the Aurbis in the process of “winning,” and also the continued presence of Mundus even in its broken state (thanks Seht!).

Is this even a Thalmor text to begin with?

Here’s where it gets kinda tricky. It seems extremely unrealistic to me for the Thalmor as a whole to be on board with this plan, especially considering most of them seem focused on the elven supremacy parts of their ideology. It would just be cartoonish for every Thalmor agent and bureaucrat to be like, “Yo, let’s destroy the only home we’ve ever known and everyone else on it. Fuck ‘em.” Sure, you could say the Thalmor think it would be for everyone’s good and putting humans out of their misery and so on, and that does take some of the edge off the “BLOW IT UP” attitude. But it’s still cartoonish in this regard: It would be talked about somewhere in Skyrim if every or even most Thalmor had this ideology, but instead we get line after line about elven rule being more legitimate than human rule, and the Empire being corrupt and bloated and so on. (Don’t worry: I’ll mention Ancano in a bit.) Unmaking Mundus doesn’t even really line up with their overall fascist silhouette: How can you keep everyone in line and under your elven boots if you unmake the very concept of sequence and the Material Prison?

And the text isn’t signed, or attributed, or dated. We only know that it appears to be from an Altmeri perspective, at some point after Talos’ apotheosis. Not all Altmer are Thalmor; usually this gets used to point out that not all Altmer are as fanatical as the Thalmor, or indeed fanatical at all, but in this case, it might be that not all Thalmor are as fanatical as this particular Altmer, who might not even be Thalmor.

However, as /u/Sakazwal pointed out, it does line up suspiciously with the whole “banning Talos worship” thing, so I think it’s safe to assume for now that this ideology, or something like it, is active somewhere in the Thalmor hierarchy. But where?

The (Super-)Mundane Thalmor

The only way I can think of for all this to fit together is that there is a distinction between the vast majority of the Thalmor, who want elven supremacy on Tamriel, and an even more radical portion that want to destroy Mundus entirely and ascend as immortal spirits. I’ll call the former the Mundane Thalmor and the latter the Super-Mundane Thalmor just for convenience.

The Super-Mundane would have to be in a position of power over the Mundane, so they can’t be too far from the top. Either at the top, or able to manipulate the top. Seems most realistic for them to be a small group, somewhere in the dozens at most. The elite few, who can keep secrets and steer situations in their favor, using the larger body of the Thalmor and the Dominion to wage war on humans as a useful tool and cover for their more metaphysical goals. The secret few who might just include Ancano, who appears to work alone and who uttered that oft-debated line about “the power to unmake the world at [his] fingertips.”

This picture accounts, I think, for both the general attitude of common Mundane Thalmor agents as encountered in Skyrim and the more grandiose text of the Super-Mundane Altmeri Commentary; however, I also only hold it to be the case very conditionally. It’s fragile, and depends entirely on the picture we get in future games and texts.

  • Kyle Perkins

    Amazing.

  • Arrkath

    I love this