Today is a special day, folks! It is the three-year anniversary of the first time I ever played Skyrim. I had wanted it since the knowledge of its future existence. I couldn’t afford to get it for myself on 11-11-11 when it was released, but my angel of a mother got it for me for Christmas of that year. I didn’t own a PlayStation3…but my dad did! So after going to his house for second Christmas I was finally able to meet my beloved one-on-one.
Six and a half hours later I emerged from the bedroom with my hair a mess and a strange glow about my face. It was approximately four in the morning. The only thing to tear me from my new-found love was my pesky bladder. I grabbed a snack to take back with me and reentered my paradise of Dragons and Stormcloaks. I was hooked.
Fast forward (hundreds of hours of game play) to my junior and senior years of college and enter my 9 month research project on the glory that is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Today I’m going to share some more of that research with you! This time on some of the mythology parallels found between Norse cultures of the past and Skyrim. If you haven’t already read about the sources I used and the general intro for this project, I suggest you do so at some point! I still don’t know how much info I should be giving or not, so if this is too dense let me know and I’ll try to fix it!
On Creation Myths
The people of Skyrim believe that their world was created from two brothers, Anu and Padomay, who got in a fight over a girl, Nirn (that’s the short version). Long version:
Mundus, the realm of men (AKA the solar system of The Elder Scrolls series) according to the mythology of Skyrim, was created after two brother beings, Padomay and Anu came out of time. It is not explained how they were born from time. Through their juxtaposition and the interplay between their opposite forces, another being, Nirn, was created. Nirn and Anu fell in love and Padomay retreated into the Void in bitterness. According to legend Nirn got pregnant and Padomay got jealous. He beat her in his rage and when Anu returned (from where I have no idea) and fought him, casting him outside of Time. Nirn then gave birth to Creation (12 whole planets- damn) but died from her injuries sustained from asshat brother Padomay and also giving birth to twelve planets. Anu was a grieving being born of time so he did what any normal celesital being would do and hid away inside of the freaking sun for a nap. Oh, a couple hundred years later Padomay got back into Time and got pissed that Creation was all created and stuff and smashed the shit out of it with his sword. He shattered all twelve worlds and pissed off his brother something royal. Anu was so mad that he climbed out of the freaking sun to fight Padomay, again.
Probably because he was so pissed off that his brother had just smashed all twelve of his kids, Anu beat the crap out Padomay. After casting his brother aside, he began to grieve his children and dead lady. In a last-ditch effort befitting any creation myth, Padomay gathered his remaining strength and stabbed Anu through the chest so the brothers died together. Anu’s blood formed the stars (awesome!) and Padomay’s blood formed the Daedra (basically the closest thing The Elder Scrolls has to demons- not as awesome). Their mingled blood formed the Aedra, which are basically gods. Lorkhan (an obvious parallel), one of the Aedra, thought “hey, I have a good idea! Let’s fuck over my brothers and sisters!” He tricked them into using their divine powers to combine the broken pieces of Creation into one plane (aka planet) called Nirn to be all sentimental.
The planet Nirn was then inhabited by the Aedra (good dudes) , while the Daedra (not-so-good dudes) created their own realm of Oblivion from the Void left by Anu and Padomay (empty space around Mundus). Shortly after beginning Time on Nirn, the architect of the plan, Magnus, realized Lorkhan was a dick and withdrew from Nirn into the realm of Aetherius. Many of the Aedra followed suit, but others decided to stay and let their powers and life force be drawn from them to give life to Nirn (how sweet). These Aedra became the Eight Divines(hereby referred to as “the Eight”). Finding out that Lorkhan was behind the mortalization of their beings, the Eight literally threw him off a tower, ripped his heart out, and hid it on Nirn. The mortal descendents of the Eight, known as the Ehlnofey, continued to populate Nirn, losing all divinity and power and evolving into the races of Mer (elves) and Men (hopefully you understand that term).
The creation myths vary slightly in Skyrim, depending to whom you speak. The Mer do not take kindly to their mortality, and call it the Curse of Lorkhan, while the Men, especially Nords, celebrate Lorkhan’s trickery and his gift of life. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to, am I right?
Though the mythology of Skyrim may seem freaking ridiculous and one might attribute that to the fact that the entire universe of The Elder Scrolls is fictional, the creation myths of Scandinavians is not much more grounded (AKA also ridiculous…ly awesome!). The creation myths of the Norse are explained mostly through The Poetic Edda and Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda. According to “Voluspa” in The Poetic Edda, the giant Ymir, from which came everything, came from nothing, where Earth was not found and there was only “the Yawning of the Deeps,” or Ginnungagap. The vast gap parallels The Void in Skyrim’s mythology and how out of nothing came creation. Later in The Poetic Edda the poem “Vafthruthnismol” says that the world came from the flesh of Ymir, his bones made mountains, and (I just have to quote this) “from his blood the billows of the sea.” Tasty.
Nords in Skyrim believe that their highest mountain, colloquially referred to as the Throat of the World, was where the breath of the gods brought wind to the world. Both of these myths put emphasis on nature’s creation before that of man. Man’s creation is later explained in The Poetic Edda, saying that a man and a woman were born from Ymir’s armpit. There is not much on the interplay of man and woman in “Vafthrusthnismol,” though it does describe the creation of time, much like that of Skyrim’s mythology, with the phrase “the story of Time, he shall yet come,” referring to Time as a being instead of an idea. “Voluspa,” after describing Ginnungagap, describes how the sons of Odin “uplifted the world-plain and fashioned Midgard, the glorious Earth.” The sons of Odin created the Earth for the cosmos similarly to the Aedra fashioning Nirn, though in Norse mythology the gods chose to create Midgard on their own and not by being tricked (Loki: 1, Lorkhan: 0, although Loki totes makes up for it later).
An extremely specific parallel is that of Men and Elves being descended similarly in both Skyrim mythology and in the writings of The Prose Edda. While in Skyrim, Man and Elfkind evolve from Ehlnofey, the devolved Aedra, in Norse mythology:
Of different origins
are the Norns, I think
not all of one kindred;
some come from Aesir-kin,
some from the elves.
Snorri tells the reader that some men come from the gods’ descendants and some from elfkind. Although this passage does not state that elves and Men evolved in unison, it does describe the evolution of Men in relation to the elves.
Wow, sweet! I cut like 3,000 words down to 1,200. Let me know how you liked it in the comment section below. Thanks for reading! Until tomorrow, folks.