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The Nords' Totemic Religion

Michael Kirkbride
The gods are cyclical, just like the world is. There are the Dead Gods, who fought and died to bring about the new cycle; the Hearth Gods, who watch over the present cycle; the Testing Gods, who threaten the Hearth and thus are watched; and the Twilight Gods, who usher in the next cycle. The end of a cycle is said to be preceded by the Dragonborn God, a god that did not exist in the previous cycle but whose presence means that the current one is almost over.
The Dead Gods
Dead Gods don’t need temples. They have the biggest one of all, Svongarde. Nord heroes and clever men visit the Underworld all the time. They bear a symbol to show that they have, which garners much respect.


  • The Fox - Shor
  • The Bear - Tsun
The Hearth Gods
The Hearth Gods have temples appropriate to their nature: Kyne’s are built on peaks, Mara’s are the halls of important Witches, Dibella’s are the halls of important Wives– the temples aren’t like those of the Imperials; as Hearth Gods, they are always homes to someone, and the highest-ranking female of that home is their de facto high priestess.
  • The Hawk, Kyne
  • The Wolf, Mara
  • The Moth, Dibella
The Testing Gods
The Testing Gods don’t really have temples – they are propitiated at battlegrounds or other sites where they caused some notable trouble. Nords understand that the Daedric Temples are something else entirely and think them as much of a waste of time as the formalized religion of the Nine Divines of Cyrodiil.
  • The Snake, Orkey
  • The Woodland Man, Herma Mora
The Twilight Gods
The Twilight Gods need no temples– when they show up, there won’t be any reason to build them, much less use them – another waste of time. That said, Nords do venerate them, as they always venerate the cycles of things, and especially the Last War where they will show their final, best worth.
  • The Dragon, Alduin - Alduin is venerated on the winter solstice by ceremonies at ancient Dragon Cult temples, where offerings are made to keep him asleep for one more year. Alduin is also the source of many common superstitious practices before any event of significance.
  • The Dragonborn God, Talos - Talos’ totem is the newest, but is everywhere – he is the Dragonborn Conquering Son, the first new god of this cycle, whose power is consequently unknown, so the Nords bless nearly everything with his totem, since he might very well be the god of it now, too. Yes, as first of the Twilight Gods, this practice might seem contradictory, but that’s only because, of all the gods, he will be the one that survives in whole into the next cycle.
Nord view of Imperial Religion
The Eight Divines are viewed by the Nords as a “Southern” import. They retain some of the taint of the Alessian Order, and are basically viewed as a religion for foreigners. Their gods are fine for them, but Nords need Nord gods.
Some of the gods are the same (or similar) – significantly these are the three female gods, which are far more important to the Nords than they are in the Imperial Cult. (Kyne is in fact the de facto head of the Nord pantheon.) The Nords are perplexed and disturbed by the Imperial Cult’s focus on the Dragon God – they regard this as a fundamental misunderstanding of the universe, and one likely to cause disaster in the end. (Which fits perfectly with the pessimistic Nord view of the world in general – things are likely to turn out badly, and it will probably be caused by some foreigner.) Lucky for the world that the Nords are so diligent about keeping Alduin asleep, while the southerners are busy trying to get his attention! Any mention of Akatosh in a Nord’s presence is likely to bring a muttered invocation to Alduin to stay asleep in response.
The Nords believe that, During the Oblivion Crisis, it was Talos (Dragonborn, Martin’s forefather) lending his aid, not Alduin.

The Talos Mistake

Leonora Venatus

The Talos Mistake


Leonora Venatus
Imperial Liaison to the Aldmeri Dominion


As citizens of the Empire, all are of course familiar with the deeds of Emperor Tiber Septim. But it is the Emperor's ascent to godhood, as Talos, that is the subject of this work.

Until Tiber Septim's death, there had been but Eight Divines: Akatosh, Dibella, Arkay, Zenithar, Stendarr, Mara, Kynareth, and Julianos. These gods were, and are, worshipped throughout the Empire. And while some may have different names in the varying provinces (for example, Akatosh is known as "Auri-El" to the Aldmer; and Arkay is sometimes known as "Ar'Kay"), all are recognized and revered by all races and cultures of Tamriel.

But when Tiber Septim passed to Aetherius, there came to be a Ninth Divine - Talos, also called Ysmir, the "Dragon of the North." The man who was so loved in life became worshipped in death. Indeed, it can be argued that Talos, the Ninth Divine, became even more important than the Eight that had preceded him, at least to humans. For he was a god who was once just a man, and through great deeds actually managed to ascend to godhood. And if one human could achieve such a feat - couldn't it be done again? Couldn't all humans aspire to achieve divinity?

So we thought, we humans. And so we continued to worship Talos, and revere him as the ultimate hero-god. But that was then. This is now. And now, we know the truth:

We were wrong.

As citizens of the Empire, we all experienced the horrors of the Great War. And it was not until the signing of the White-Gold Concordat, the treaty between the Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion, that we once again knew peace. One of the most important stipulations of that treaty, as every Imperial citizen is well aware, is that Talos can no longer be worshipped as a god. This edict shook the very foundations of the Empire. There were those who rebelled against the law. Indeed, some still do.

But the citizens of the Empire must know this: the Emperor did not agree to outlaw the worship of Talos because it was demanded by the Thalmor, the ruling body of the Aldmeri Dominion.

The Emperor agreed to the outlaw of the worship of Talos because it was the right thing to do.

Today, the Emperor, and indeed the Empire itself, recognizes that allowing the worship of Talos was a mistake. For by doing so, by allowing the worship of Talos as a Divine, the Empire actually did its people a great disservice: for this only succeeded in weakening the memory of the man Tiber Septim and his many extraordinary (though mortal) deeds; and pushing people away from the Eight Divines, the true gods, who do deserve our love and reverence.

And so, the Empire admits it was wrong. The Talos Mistake will not be repeated. May we find centuries of peace and prosperity with our new Thalmor friends, and continue to share a spirituality that binds together all the cultures and races of Tamriel.

The City of Bruma




The chilling northern city of Bruma lies near the border of Skyrim. The Nordic architecture is clearly visible in the various houses in the city. The inhabitants build their dwellings with the wood harvested from the native forests of the High Jeralls. In order to conserve heat, the houses are built partly below ground level.

This city often works closely with neighboring Cloud Ruler Temple, the bastion of the Blades. Bruma is ruled by Countess Narina Carvain, a strong woman with cunning political skill. Ruling over a bunch of Nords is not an easy task.

Entering Bruma from the east, one will find himself facing the great statue of Talos or better known as Tiber Septim, the first Emperor of the Septim Dynasty. The statue of Talos is directly in the front of the Chapel of Talos, it is obvious the city worships Talos more than the other Nine Divines.

City of Bruma

The City of Bruma



Oblivion Description

Talos Window

Talos (Tiber Septim)

Talos Oblivion Symbol

God of War and Governance

Description Wayshrine Locations

Tiber Septim, Talos, the Dragonborn, Heir to the Seat of Sundered Kings, is the greatest hero-god of Mankind, and worshipped as the protector and patron of just rulership and civil society. Tiber Septim conquered all of Tamriel and ushered in the Third Era and the Third Empire. In his aspect of Ysmir, 'Dragon of the North,' Tiber Septim is also invoked as the patron of questing heroes.

  1. Midway between Skingrad and Kvatch, just east of Miscarcand
  2. South of the Imperial City, on the Green Road, just southeast of the Inn of Ill Omen
  3. South-southeast of the Imperial City, on the west side of the Upper Niben, between Hircine's shrine and Fort Variela
Blessing Chapel Location
Strength Bruma
Statue of Talos

Morrowind Description

Talos Morrowind Symbol

Tiber Septim

Tiber Septim, Talos, the Dragonborn, Heir to the Seat of Sundered Kings, is the greatest hero-god of Mankind, and worshipped as the protector and patron of just rulership and civil society. Tiber Septim conquered all of Tamriel and ushered in the Third Era and the Third Empire. In his aspect of Ysmir, 'Dragon of the North,' Tiber Septim is also invoked as the patron of questing heroes.

In Morrowind, Tiber Septim makes an appearance as Wulf.

Talos Morrowind Symbol


Nu-Hatta of the Sphinxmoth Inquiry Tree

Michael Kirkbride

Well, I tried to help. Here's Nu-Hatta of the Sphinxmoth Inquiry Tree and his somewhat edited response:

"Hnnnh. Critical subplex inquest: divine roster, supermundus physiotype."

Tiber Septim: "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."

Arkay: "Lies from a previous age."

King of Worms: "The Jills of Aka-tosh have mended this numidition. Mannimarco remains as he was: the high priest of maggots."

Almalexia: "Hnnnh. Kyne and Mara and Dibella and sixteen Daedric elements: all contributed to the snake-faced queen when she touched the drum. Their sum? A Beauty Cala as none have seen. Cala! Wetness of Kingdom!"

Sotha Sil: "...incalculable."

Vivec: "Arenotelicon."

Dagoth Ur: "Sharmat. Dream-sleeved inversion, where the Biters live, he brought them here, pawn of the Aggregate."

Nerevarine: "Pantheon by incarnation, as all alive now know."


Below are the proposed categories by which to measure these divinities. I think most of them lead falsely to a silly DnD number-crunching mechanism of Who’s Cooler, so I’ll ignore them for now. After all, gods are beyond our ken, even though it is us who are their true parents.

- Origin as a mortal
- Divine Acquisition
- Divine Level (standing against the Aedra & daedra & other god-heroes)
- Lifespan


"A 'jill' is an archaic term for a female dragon. The minute-menders would take on a suitably draconic form."


From The Many-Headed Talos

Michael Kirkbride

"And after the throne of Alinor did finally break at the feet of Men, and news of it came to the Dragon Emperor in Cyrodiil, he gathered his captains and spoke to them, saying:

"'You have suffered for me to win this throne, and I see how you hate jungle. Let me show you the power of Talos Stormcrown, born of the North, where my breath is long winter. I breathe now, in royalty, and reshape this land which is mine. I do this for you, Red Legions, for I love you.'"