Introduction If you've read Varieties of Faith and think you know everything there is to know about the Breton pantheon, you are sorely mistaken. Ask a Breton what gods he knows, and you can keep them talking for days.
The Bretons have a strong belief in the Faerie Chain theory, a cast system encompassing all magical creatures and ranks them based on age and propensities for magicka. This caste plays a central role in Breton religion as well, as the Bretons do not believe in a clear-cut difference between Gods and Mortals, but in a chain of powerful spirits. Spirits cannot be born higher on the faerie chain than their parents, but they can rise above its ranks through earned veneration. The more worship a Spirit receives, the more powerful it becomes.
Each Temple is its own separate political power and much like the Breton Kingdoms, the Temples have allies and enemies and go to war with each other. Bretonic temples are not just places of worship and healing like you’d find in other provinces; inside the temples are temple merchants, apothecaries and potion mixers, missionaries, summoners, blessers, healers, dancers, priests, schools, libraries, food storage, weapons and the barracks for the temple's military arm. Most of these services are only available to members of the Temple, and members are expected to pay a yearly contribution to make use of them. All aspiring knights and adventurers (of whom there are many in High Rock) are free to take quests from the Temple Missionary. Higher ranking members can make use of the libraries and send their children to the temple for schooling. For a considerable sum and only for high ranking members the temple summoners will evoke any daedra or daedric prince on their summoning day. These are just some examples of what seperates Breton culture from everywhere else, but central are of course their Gods. Let us waver no longer, and get right into them!
In Part One of this two part series we will be delving into the venerated Spirits of High Rock who were born in Aetherius but left their home to create the Mortal Realm where all spirits could escape Stasis and rise above their rank.
Akatosh Dragons are the most ancient of the fey, beings of pure magic, putting them firmly at the very top of the Faerie Chain. Akatosh is the father of all dragons and thus father of all fey, including men and mer. He is the most constant of gods, for his sphere is time itself. Akatosh, together with Mara and Stendarr, is celebrated for the timewarp in the Iliac Bay known as the Miracle of Peace, which transformed the always feuding territories of High Rock into the seven prosperous and easy to manage imperial vassals that exist today.
He is said to have founded the Dragon Village where all races can live in peace under the vigilant watch of the Great Dragon, but no one knows where this is. Some believe the faithful join Akatosh in the Dragon Village when they die, others think the Dragon Village is the lost Aldmeris. The Bretons believe their ability to absorb spells thrown at them is a divine Gift from Akatosh.
Temple: The Akatosh Chantry might grant one time: time to heal your injuries or time to shorten your voyages, if one is willing to make an appreciable donation. The Akatosh Chantry is dedicated to the breeding of Dragonlings: Giant flying lizards speaking maddening riddles and non sequiturs in the Draconic language. Dragonlings aren’t thought to be very intelligent, but their words carry much wisdom. This contradiction is explained by their unique relation to time, giving them memories of events in the past and the future they never experienced. Thousands of riddles are stored in the Temple’s libraries, both translated and in the original draconic. Scholars have debated for centuries whether these dragonlings have a relation to the dragons of old, or whether the dragons of old are nothing but tall tales describing the dragonlings. The Chantry of Akatosh is convinced that their dragonlings will grow into the great dragons of old once Akatosh's rule is absolute.
Templar Knightly Order: The Order of the Hour, devoted to the protection of dragonlings and the destruction of their enemies.
Allies: The Benevolence of Mara
Enemies: The Chantry of Auriel and The House of Dibella
Arkayn Arkayn is the great spirit who brings every man and woman, human, elf, and beast into this world, and when the time is true, ends their circle. Arkayn is fertility and blight, joy and sorrow and the changing of seasons. Where other gods were mortal first, Arkayn was born a God of the Mundus, the embodiment of Order crystalised by the Chaos of free will. Arkayn cyclically ascends and descends up and down the Spirit Chain to walk among mortals and Gods.
Temple: The Order of Arkayn celebrates the Blessed Neutrality that Arkayn stands for. While they do not offer strangers blessings, for to give favour or curse would be to upset the eternal balance, the Order offers much to its members. Their libraries and sages are some of the finest in Tamriel. Of course, few are worthy to be initiated into the mysteries of Birth and Death.
Templar Knightly Order: The Knights of the Circle seek to exterminate all the undead that roam the land.
Enemies: The House of Dibella, The Order of the Black Worm
Auriel Auriel is the First Elf and venerated by the Bretons as the God-King of early Elf-kind. Auriel founded the first cities: Aldmora and Aldmeris. Auriel could not prevent the sundering of Aldmora by Lorkhan, nor the freezing that followed, but slew Lorkhan and saved Aldmeris from destruction and unrest. When Auriel shot Lorkhan’s heart across Nirn, men and elf followed, men to reclaim, elf to hide it. Some of Auriels devoted believe their souls will sail across the sea and the stars to land in Aldmeris where they will greet each other as kings, men and elf equal, all subservient to the High King Auriel.
Temple: The Chantry of Auriel
Templar Knightly Order: The Sun Paladins
Allies: The Temple of Spring
Enemies: The Akatosh Chantry
Dibella Dibella is the first Nymph from whom all forest- and water nymphs (Nereids) are born. She is the Goddess of beauty, music and art, both artificial and natural. She is favoured by artists and her followers are often scarcely clad.
Temple: The House of Dibella seeks truth through beauty and the worship of the embodiment of beauty, the Goddess Dibella. Dibella smiles on those who give generously to the House. Temple workers are often clad in nothing more than their undergarments and ceremonial attire, the temple dancers in even less. The temple's library has many tomes on nymph language and culture, and the temple depots are filled with art of innumerable value.
Templar Knightly Order: The Order of the Lilly
Allies: The Druagaa Blossom, The Benevolence of Mara
Divad Divad was a Magne Ge who chose to leave with Magnus to return to Aetherius before the completion of the Mundus made that journey impossible. Divad however, procrastinated. By the time he was ready to leave, he was too drained to follow where the others had gone and fell back to Nirn to land in Daggerfall. He taught early mankind the dangers of waiting too long and is credited with the partial creation of many incomplete artifacts, including the Divad Monument itself, which was supposed to be a staircase leading back to Aetherius would it have been finished.
Temple: The Divad Monument is an eighty-four stories tall temple build over the Crater of Divad. All other Temples are small buildings with few services for its members, as most of the Temple’s resources are pooled into adding more floors to the Tower in order to see its completion through.
Templar Knightly Order: Order of the Ticking Clock. Their primary goal is securing and completing His artifacts. Among these artifacts they hope to find a tool allowing them to complete the staircase to Aetherius, as mortal tools have proven insufficient.
Allies: The School of Julianos
Ebonarm Reymon Ebonarm is the God of War and the companion and protector of all warriors. He is said to ride a golden stallion named War Master and is accompanied by a pair of huge Ravens. Described as bearded, tall and muscular, and as having flowing reddish-blonde hair and steel blue eyes. He has an ebony sword fused to his right arm and is always clad in full suit of ebony armour. In his left hand he always caries an ebony tower shield with the symbol of a rose on it, a flower that is said to grow wherever Ebonarm appears. According to legend, he appears on the field of battle to reconcile opposing sides and prevent bloodshed. Ebonarm is said to have turned Sai into the God of Luck, and to keeps him in check.
To the Bretons he is one god with multiple reincarnations, each reincarnation showing only a small portion of the True Reymon Ebonarm. Although the temple acknowledges the Soul of the Black Knight worshipped by dark elves, and the black panther of Khajiit myth as being reincarnations of Ebonarm, these foreign manifestations are not incorporation into the temple’s teachings. A politically motivated choice to appeal more to the human-centric culture of the Bretons.
The oldest manifestation of the Ebonarm comes from Reachfolk tales. The two great ravens that always accompany him are thought to be the Hagraven Sisters who advised the Black Warrior, a Reachfolk hero who covered himself and his companions in black paint to slaughter the Nordic invaders at night. The Ravens had given him seeds to plant in the corpses, which grew into bloodthorn vines digging through their flesh and reanimating it. The undead army fell upon the Nords, and when all the Nords were defeated, upon the Reachfolk. When the Black Warrior saw the destruction he had sowed, he repented to Mara. Mara told him if he was truly sorry, he would shed a tear for every seed he had planted. He did, and for every tear that fell a red rose grew from the vines, until the undead army had become a tranquil field of roses.
His Nordic appearance might've come from a Nord chieftain clad in ebony sat atop a dwarven horse of golden brass. Some stories told by the Reachfolk say this Nord slew the Black Warrior and turned his undead army into a rose field with the power of his voice, as they believe the Black Warrior never betrayed the hagravens.
The sword fused to his arm is a Redguard influence, who venerate Ebonarm as an individualized manifestation of the Hoonding. The Warrior's sword was fused to his arm in the catastrophic battles against the Daedra of the Before-Time.
Temple: The Anvil of Ebonarm is among the few Temples without any summoners among its ranks. The temples are often surrounded by grand rose gardens and are raised on (supposed) battlefields where Ebonarm intervened. Cuttings of these Ebon Roses make up a considerable part of the Temple’s income, which the Temple spends mostly on caring for the mentally ill and the sick.
Templar Knightly Order: The Hammer of Ebonarm seek to destroy all daedric worship in High Rock. Despite their name, the Hammer of Ebonarm does not arm itself with hammers. Instead the pata, also known as a sword-gauntlet, are part of the standard attire. The Hammer of Ebonarm paint their armour black as to conjure the illusion of being clad in ebony.
Allies: The Temple of Shandar, The Reliquary of Sai
Enemies: The Temple of Stendarr, All Daedric Princes except Sheogorath
Imperial Cult Temple: The imperial Cult, the missionary arm of the great faiths, the Imperial Cult brings divine inspiration and consolation to the Empire's remote provinces. The cults combine the worship of the Eight Divines: the Aedra Akatosh, Dibella, Arkay, Zenithar, Mara, Stendarr, Kynareth, and Julianos, and additional deities with significant Breton cults: Magnus, Y’ffre, Sheor and Phynaster. Imperial Cult priests provide worship and services for all these Gods at the Imperial Cult shrines in settlements throughout High Rock. The Imperial Cult has become the state religion of High Rock, after decades of relentless lobbying from the empire.
Templar Knightly Order: The Imperial Cult does not have a Templar Order, as it is protected by the kings and queens of High Rock.
Allies: Wayrest, Daggerfall, Camlorn, Jehanna, Northpoint, Evermore
Enemies: The Akatosh Chantry, The Resolution of Z'en
Jephre The First Bard whose songs inspired and influenced Auriel, the first king of the elves. Jephre birthed many laws and concepts into existence like this. A messenger of the Gods and intermediary between Auriel, the Gods and the people. His Lute is sought after for its power to influence the masses and control kings.
Temple: The Opera House of Jephre
Templar Knightly Order: The Jephran Bards are schooled in the art of warfare and combat or magic like any other knightly order but distinguish themselves by being great singers and musicians as well.
Allies: Kieran’s Theatre
Enemies: The Oak of Y’ffre
Julianos Julianos, first and only son of Magnus whose blood flows through the veins of all mages, is foremost a symbol of learning, logic, philosophy, and wisdom. Scholarship is a long and difficult journey, and Julianos does not tolerate those who wish to shorten it. When Magnus fled Creation, Julianos took on the mantle of Architect.
Temple: The School of Julianos is no mere temple, dedicated to mindless obeisance to a distant and hazy God figure. The School espouses no moral philosophy other than the goodness of knowledge. As the great Psijic once said, the power of ignorance can truly shatter mithril like glass. That is their enemy.
Templar Knightly Order: The Knights Mentor
Allies: Clavicus Vile
Enemies: The Synod, The College of Whispers
Kynereth Kynereth is the first of the Spriggans, Mother Nature, the Goddess of Air, the Pure One. She protects the forests and animals within. It was She who gave the Lord's Mail to Her warrior lord Morihaus to combat the unclean Daedric spirits and found the Empire of Cyrodiil.
Temple: The Temple of Kynereth have become the greatest physicians in Tamriel, their ability to cure magical and mundane diseases is truly unrivalled. The Temple’s Libraries are filled with knowledge of herbs and alchemy.
Templar Knightly Order: The Kynaran Order, famed for their animal handling.
Magnus The Architect who drew the twelve concepts of creation and combined them into the egg but fled before it could be hatched into Creation. Magnus sometimes comes down from the Heavens as a shooting star, to walk among mortals in search of his Son and repent for his leaving. One of these reincarnations, named Phynaster, aided the King of Anvil, Bendu Olo, in the formation of the All Flags Navy and reascended to godhood because of it.
Temple: The Magnus Orrery specialises in observational astronomy and studies Aetherium by attempting to peer directly through the stars and the sun with the help of massive telescopes made from enchanted meteoric glass. The Orrery’s horoscope readings are sought out by many travellers, nobles, and sailors.
Templar Knightly Order: The Magnus’ Magnificant’s main duty is tracking down sightings of fallen stars in search of a new reincarnation of Magnus to serve.
Allies: The Benevolence of Mara, Vigryl’s Harbour, The Association of Stars (An organisation of thirty-seven temples dedicated to the veneration of a Magne-Ge without their own templar knightly order, and various small organization with a vested interest in the study of the observable universe)
Enemies: Hermeus Mora
Mara Mara is the Mother who birthed the Gods and mortals and is alternately the wife of Akatosh, Magnus, Raen or Lorkhan. Mara is also credited with the creation of many later Gods, such as Jode, Sai and Arkayn. Mara, together with Stendarr and Akatosh, are credited for the Miracle of Peace, which turned the numerous territories of High Rock into easy to manage imperial vassals.
Temple: The Benevolence of Mara is the Temple devoted to the Mother Goddess of Tamriel. They are called Benevolences for they are devoted to the charge of uniting all creatures as brethren, children of Mara. They are intolerant only of those who show intolerance; they hate only those who hate. Mara is their Mother Goddess, and thus she blesses all with the gift of love.
Templar Knightly Order: The Maran Knights
Allies: Temple of Stendarr
Raen God of agriculture worshiped by the Bretons of the Iliac Bay who taught the early Nedes how to take seeds and use them to grow food. Raen has fought with the demon Sheor in many myths. Filled a very early role as fertility God before Mara replaced this role. Reliquaries are found in marketplaces and on farms, where farmers can deposit their seeds (both of the fields and of the flesh) in these reliquaries for those in need.
Temple: The Temples of Raen is an agricultural magnate. The storages of Raen are always full of seeds favouring the blessing of Raen. Most of these seeds belong not to the Temple, but to farmers who have banked them there. The temple is free to use these seeds as they please, as long as they store enough for the farmers to withdraw whenever they need. The kingdoms of the Iliac Bay pay tribute to the temple to have first pick when their own kingdom faces shortages.
Templar Knightly Order: The Knights of Raen protect the farms of its members. Rumour has it they also attack farms of non-members.
Allies: Daggerfall, Sentinel, Wayrest, and Orsinium
Enemies: The Resolution of Z’en
Springseed Springseed was the squire to Auriel and is worshiped by the Bretons of the Iliac Bay. With his boots woven from spring beans, Springseed was able to jump after Auriel's arrows and back to retrieve them. His boots are now too crisp to try on, but they are still brimming with magic and circulating around the Iliac Bay, being gifted from noble to noble. Springseed is thought to have played a much bigger role in ancient times, as a god of spring, but this part of his domain has since been absorbed into Mara's and Arkayn's spheres. Some say Springseed is Y’ffre.
Temple: The Temple of Spring
Templar Knightly Order: Springseed’s Squires are fully accomplished knights, but nevertheless believe themselves to be nothing more than squires to Springseed. Only once they’ve died are they named Knight of Springseed, to serve Him serving Auriel serving Akatosh in the afterlife.
Allies: The Benevolence of Mara, The Chantry of Auriel
Stendarr Stendarr is the Father of Compassion. Many in High Rock still know him as Stennar, but the temple now knows him as Stendarr as part of the alliance with the Vigilants of Stendarr. Where his older brother Z’en is a warrior, Stennar is a healer. Where Z’en goes, Stennar follows. Stendarr, together with Mara and Akatosh, are credited for the Miracle of Peace, which turned the numerous territories of High Rock into easy to manage imperial vassals. Stennar is said to have turned Sai into the God of Luck, and the one who keeps him in check. In times of great strife and unrest, Stendarr comes down from the Heavens clad in armour of ebon to end wars swiftly to avert the decades of bloodshed that would’ve followed.
Temple: The Temple of Stendarr is often mocked as being an order of tenderhearts, but everyone, no matter their strength, crawls to them when Sai, the God of Luck deserts them as he is prone to do. They heal those who are in pain, for more complicated ailments, diseases, and poisonings, they direct one to the Temple of Kynereth with due respect, for they are the finest apothecaries.
Templar Knightly Order: The Crusaders and The Vigilants of Stendarr. Where the Vigilants lack mercy for witches, man-beasts and daedra, the Crusaders lack mercy for the merciless.
Allies: Benevolence of Mara, Temple of Kynereth
Enemies: The Anvil of Ebonarm
Tarva Tarva combines aspects of the Redguard Tava, the Nordic Kyne and Jhunal and the Aldmeri Golden Eagle and Merid-Nunda into one bird Goddess who holds dominion over sun, storms, omens, and faith. Augurs are prevalent in Breton Culture, especially in the Reach, who interpret the movement of birds to predict the future. Many superstitious beliefs are perpetuated by the followers of Tarva, such as the belief that a raven landing on a ship mast is bad luck, unless there are two of them, which is good luck. An owl showing up at one’s house means someone is soon going to die, unless a mage sleeps in that house. If an eagle's screech can be heard during childbirth the child is doomed to a short and glorious life.
Temple: Tava’s Roost. Her temples are built atop mountains and hills, always elevated above other buildings. If they are built on lower grounds, their tower is taller. Augurs reside in the tower from where they watch the movements of birds and write down prophecies.
Templar Knightly Order: The Falconers of Tava
Allies: The Temple of Kynereth, The Griffin Knights
Y’ffre The first Wood Elf, who breathed in Kynereth and exhaled the Song from which woods and meadows, kelp forests and heath, herbs and forests were born. When the Nords came to slaughter the Wood Elves and dragons of High Rock, after they had slain the dragons and Ice Elves of Skyrim, Y’ffre sang a city into being, hidden in the greenwood where elf and dragon could be safe. Many followers of Y’ffre believe that if they hear a faint song in the woods, they should follow it to find the Dragon Village, but they can never return. Other believe they will go there when they die.
Temple: The Oak of Y’ffre is dedicated to the orderly expansion of forests and the education of bards in the songs of druids. The temples are always built around ancient oaks. When the oak dies, the temple is abandoned for nature to take over and for fae to move in.
Templar Knightly Order: The Druids of Y’ffre
Z'en Zenithar (commonly shortened to Z'en) is the God of Commerce and Patron of Merchants and Mercenaries. Z'en was the first knight and the strongest of Gods. When Lorkhan's trickery was revealed, he defeated him and tore out his heart, but also vowed to see the creation of the Mundus through. Z'en was devoured by the Serpent when it came for the heart, but he escaped the Serpent's bindings as it shed its skin. From the Serpent skin was born Mulluk, first of the Goblins, and from the scales shattered on the four winds during the struggle were born the goblins. Z’en is the God who always comes out on top, no matter the adversities, be it mercantile or of bloodshed. Bretons always cast their prayers for Z’en at their zenit.
Temple: The Resolution of Z'en is devoted to Zenithar. Long ago, in their movement's birth, their forefathers made them a temple like no other: one meant to be adaptable, but resilient to the storm of time. They are thus called Resolutions, a far more descriptive term than temples. The Resolution of Zenithar favours those who favour them — they do not choose to hide behind words like donations, gifts, indulgences. The Resolution of Z'en believes that Z’en’s power wanes when Mulluk’s power grows, thus the Resolution seeks the complete eradication of goblin-ken. Orcs may not join this temple.
Templar Knightly Order: The Knights of Iron counts few mages among its ranks, and those that are present are clad in steel like the sword- and spearman. Mulluk demands a blood price. Z'en's price is no different. The Knights of Iron secure payment.
Allies: The Fortress of Daegout.
Enemies: The Benevolence of Mara, Mulluk, The Anvil of Ebonarm
- The True Varieties of Faith: Bretons, Part 2
- Regarding the dragonborn and the confusion of the multiple pantheons of Nirn
- A Knight’s God?
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