The Elder Scrolls – Hermaeus Mora

I find Hermaeus Mora, Prince of Knowledge and Memory, the most interesting of the Daedric Princes.  Known for scrying the tides of Fate and the past and present as read in the heavens, he calls himself “…The riddle unsolveable. The door unopenable. The book unreadable. The question unanswerable…” and has numerous epithets including The Golden Eye, Gardener of Men, and (my favorite) Old Antecedent.  The Nords, and the Skaal, call him Herma-Mora, and there are numerous tales of Ysgramor escaping his clutches…and I shall call him such in the rest of this post because it’s slightly shorter of a name.

Herma-Mora’s realm of Oblivion is called Apocrypha, and it is characterized by a constantly shifting landscape – stairways move, halls shift, and piles of books litter the walls and floor, sometimes making up buildings in their own right.   This makes sense; as Prince of Knowledge it stands to reason that he has quite a collection of reference material.  Aside from the Prince himself, Apocrypha is populated only by Seekers and Lurkers; these denizens of Apocrypha are not quite as unsettling as Herma-Mora himself, but they’re deadly enough in their own right.  Mortals only venture to Apocrypha through reading one of the seven Black Books, and then only at Herma-Mora’s whim.

Unlike most other Daedric Princes, Herma-Mora does not have a humanoid form; when he appears to mortals at all, he is seen as a mass of eyes, tentacles, and claws that form and reform, or as a purple vortex.  His “alignment” (can’t think of a better word) is also less tangible than that of other Princes – when one is dedicated purely to knowledge, there is only what is known and what is unknown…and all things are worth knowing and therefore worth pursuing.

This last bit appeals to me immensely, for what is worth chasing if not knowledge?

I don’t worship Herma-Mora myself, largely because I feel like I already have so many gods to worship…but there’s also a part of me so seduced by the idea of gathering hidden knowledge that I am fairly sure I could end up pitching myself headlong into something I’m not prepared for.  With knowledge comes transformation and change, as evidenced by Herma-Mora himself, and I am not ready for additional liminal work, and tracing of threads, and peering into shadows.  This doesn’t mean I might not petition him at some point, but I am nowhere near doing so now.

For those who would approach him, offer something from the deepest recesses of your mind, something you’ve never breathed aloud to any other being.  Such things please Herma-Mora immensely.

Gallipot

The vessel where I store myself is permeable;
I want to be able to get out, should the need arise.  Mostly, though,
I am content within earthenware walls,
With lid closed tightly above me, so I don’t leak out onto the floor.

I’ll percolate in here, or maybe ripen.
The air is moist; I breathe, and my skin is still and cool.
But under there all manner of things writhe and twist, weave and twine,
And ply their limbs along my bones.

This is not a process fit for public consumption.

When all mystics speak mystic (and they do),
It doesn’t matter if they hear you scream.  They’ve been down
This road before.  Even so, shifting on an elemental level
Is not the prettiest thing they’ve seen.

And for those who have not, or can not, or will not (it doesn’t matter which),
Logic overtakes the lack of reason needed
To fold oneself in tiny squares, to remove the parts that need
Analysis, and study them.

It is an exceedingly tight fit in this jar.

Lack of reason it is, but just the same there are reasons for this;
To become, I must inhabit the parts I most dislike.
I must know them inside-out, and so I turn myself that way.
I curl into a ball and wall myself up to be cut loose.

Within the mystibabble is something worth remembering:
That this is chosen, that we break ourselves to fix ourselves,
That our heads split open to be put back, over and over again,
That transformation is a violent, gory process.

And in the end, we’re something more.

Seasonal Impressions

In and through, over and over,
Grey lion chases fluffy lamb,
Or lamb runs after lion; the order does not matter
But for an elementary phrase.
The air is streaming.  Moisture gathers
In all my cracks and crevices, while wind
Does its best to keep it back.
I am turning inside-out.
Innards gleaming on the outside;
Change is coming.

Marrow aches; my mind is racing.
Pressures rise and fall to
Fill the evening sky with light.
What is tomorrow but another changeling day?
When all the dust is turned to ribbons,
When I am saturated with the sounds of greening,
Then comes this along the skyline:
A fading line of blue and green.
In twilight creeps the heart of all the being,
Sight unseen, but not unheard.

Time will prick behind my eyes,
And my own sap will start to rise.

Gyromancy

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things to do was spin around in a circle until I fell over dizzy.  I’d go outdoors on a sunny day, find a spot in my yard, and spin and spin until I couldn’t stay standing and toppled over into the grass.

(I also used to roll down the hill in our front yard, but that’s a topic for another time.)

Anyway, the idea of doing such a thing now makes me nauseous – in addition to my equilibrium changing after I had my son, I also have benign positional vertigo (BPV) which means I sometimes get dizzy and fall over for no reason at all.  Spinning in a circle until I fall over is now off the table, as is going on any amusement ride that spins and watching any movie that uses shaky cam as a thing.  But, I was amused to discover that my childhood spinning actually had a use that I didn’t know about – divination.  I’m referring to gyromancy.

Gyromancy is the practice of divination by circles or rounds, and there are a couple of well-known methods:

  • A person, or a group of people, spin or dance in circles until they become dizzy enough to fall on the ground.  At that point, everything that is said by the ones on the ground is recorded, and then those recorded words are interpreted for potential meaning.
  • A person, or a group of people, stand within a circle that is bordered by letters or symbols.  At the appropriate time, the person or group walks around the inside of the circle repeatedly until they grow dizzy enough to fall on the ground.  At that point, the position of the people on the ground in relation to the letters/symbols is noted and interpreted for meaning.

Both of the methods above sometimes involved the person or group of people getting up once they fell and repeating their actions until they couldn’t stand again or, as reported in Occult Sciences: A Compendium of Transcendental Doctrine and Experiment: “…till he evolved an intelligible sentence, or till death or madness intervened.”

Ummm, yeah.

Another method, and one I hadn’t heard of before researching for this post, uses a nicked or marked coin – the coin is spun within a circle of letters, and words are spelt out by where the nick or mark lands when the coin falls over.  I think I like this method best as it doesn’t involve me spinning in circles and then spewing.  Although, that might be another method – spin the person and interpret meaning based on where the discharge lands?

(Okay, forget I suggested that.  EW.)

Since I started pondering gyromancy, I’ve had a picture in my head of someone practicing it at a day care facility, at random, based on spinning pre-schoolers.  I mean, they will spin on their own – why not make some use of it by giving them soft mats marked with letters to use as a base?  I don’t know how accurate it would be, but it might make for a good experiment provided that no one actually spun the children; the children would need to spin on their own, of course.

Clearly, I am getting silly.  Sillier than usual, anyway.

I don’t currently know anyone who practices gyromancy, much like I didn’t (and still don’t!) know anyone who practices tyromancy.  If you do either, I’d be really interested to know your how and your why, and whether you think harnessing the power of small children is worthwhile.  After all, a day when I learn something new is a good day!

Today is a good day.

Falderal

At times, it’s all I can do to embrace my connections with others while ignoring the falderal that accompanies it.

As a human being surrounded by other human beings on most occasions, it is inevitable that I’ll be exposed to a certain amount of human behavior that is just baffling.  Some of this behavior might fit most people’s definition of nonsensical  (an adult pirouetting in Starbucks while waiting for coffee, for example), but a lot of it simply doesn’t make sense to me, and it makes me wonder if it is the behavior that is unusual or my perception of it.

We’re all blessed with unique perspective, since no two human beings are exactly alike, and so there’s a certain amount of play in the idea of what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t.  For example, if we take dining in a restaurant as an example situation, I am relatively certain that running up to the table of a stranger and removing all of their cutlery is unacceptable behavior.  But, in that same restaurant, is it acceptable for a child to run around the restaurant rather than staying at the table with whoever brought them?  Some would say yes, and others would say no.  It’s a matter of perception; if I allow my own children to do that thing, then it is likely to be acceptable to me if other people allow their children to do the same thing.  If I don’t allow such things, then it is more likely I will find such behavior appalling and be baffled at the idea that someone thinks this is okay.

It gets tricky, for me anyway, when looking at things that society as a whole deems acceptable that I just don’t get.  To take what I think is a good example: marriage in the United States contains an expectation that the people entering the marriage will behave as if they have no romantic love for anyone but their spouse, no physical attraction for anyone but their spouse, and no desire to form relationships that go beyond the platonic friend stage with anyone but their spouse.  Those who do not behave in this fashion are called “immoral”, “unethical”, “cheaters”, and many other things because they deviate from the societal norm.  But, while I understand that society has built up expectations of how married people behave, those expectations baffle me.  I cannot imagine turning off my feelings and attractions to other people simply because society expects me to, and thankfully my spouse is of like mind (if he weren’t, we probably wouldn’t be married now).

(Now, I should probably say at this point that I do think lying about such things is inappropriate.  Someone who agrees to do one thing but does another is a liar, and that’s what makes it cheating.  Anyway.)

My position on relationships between people has led to some interesting situations in my day-to-day life.  I can’t watch a television show that has a “love triangle” plot without ranting about how the person in the center of the triangle should just admit how they feel and try and work things out with the other two.  If I am attracted to someone who is in a relationship with someone else, I tend to ask about the openness of that relationship, thereby exposing myself as non-monogamous.  This baffles other people at times, and yet I am baffled at their bafflement…and around and around we go.

Here’s another one: there’s a child in one of my swimming classes, a four-year-old boy who, when choosing a toy, always picks one that is pink, or purple, or has sparkles on it.  He’s a bright child, and is really enjoying his swimming lessons, and I didn’t even think about his toy choices until his mother approached me after a class and mentioned that her son’s toy choices didn’t mean he was gay.  I am sure the expression on my face conveyed my confusion, because she further explained that he was the youngest of four children, and the others were girls, and so it was natural that he would want to play with their toys…

WTF?  This person was concerned that I might read something into her child’s behavior, that I might think her four-year-old was gay because he likes to play with pink and purple ducks in the pool.  I was flabbergasted that she felt the need to say anything, but of course I reassured her that I hadn’t read anything into his behavior and that, in my class, everyone gets to choose the toy they want.  She walked away happy, and I stood there stunned because the idea that someone would expect a preschooler to adhere to gender stereotypes, and then comment on them, is baffling to me.  It’s falderal – it makes NO SENSE to me.

It’s easy enough to be myself, to be open and honest, when I’m in situations where it makes things better.  In the case of the swimming lessons above, it was an easy thing to reassure the mother than I wasn’t thinking anything about her son based on his choice of duck, and go on when life…but when it is my own behavior that is causing bafflement, it gets trickier.  When I see that I am brushing up against societal norms and cultural mores, when I see I am making others uncomfortable, I end up torn in two directions.  On the one hand, I want to rail and shout and explain that I am a decent person despite their bafflement, and that it is our differences that make humans so interesting, and that everything I do is consensual and it doesn’t affect them anyway!  On the other hand, well, I have to live in society and things work better if I am not marked for ostracism.  So, almost inevitably, I end up pulling back and behaving in ways that are way outside my own norms to please others…and it fucking sucks not to be myself.

So, why am I writing about this, especially over here on a religious blog?  Well, I’m a FlameKeeper, and as a FlameKeeper I am always looking for connections, for the things that tie us to other pieces of the Divine and to the Universe.  And, behavior is a pretty big connection between people; we’re joined by our behavior preferences, by things we do and do not do, by what we think is appropriate and what we think is inappropriate.  The trouble is, we’re also connected to the people who do not behave like us, and those people are not going away despite our wishes to the contrary.  There will always be someone on the other side of the debate: for every person who identifies as pro-choice, there is a person who identifies as pro-life.  For every liberal, there is a conservative.  For every theist, there’s an atheist.  For every gamer, there’s someone who thinks video games are a waste of time.  But, we’re connected to those people, the ones who disagree with us on a fundamental level, the ones who behave totally unlike us.

We are all Divine – you, me, the tree, the rock, and my left shoe (especially my LEFT SHOE).  The connections between us are there, even when we pretend they aren’t, even when we let the falderal get in the way of recognizing them.  The trick is to see past the nonsense to the essential, to see the spark and what radiates from it, and then nourish those connections.  Through this, we improve ourselves, and thus the Universe.

The Elder Scrolls – Fox

I’ve mentioned, in a previous post, before the Nords were as they are today, during the rule of the Dragon Priests, the people of Atmora worshiped nine animal gods – six shown as male, and three as female.  The Fox, depicted as male, is thought to be Orkey, Nordic god of mortality, who tricked the Nords into having a limited lifespan until Shor removed this curse.  Orkey is considered to be an enemy to the Nords.

If the Fox is Orkey (“Old Knocker”), then it is also a Trickster and seen as a combination of two other gods – Mauloch (also known as the Daedric Prince Malacath) and Arkay.  Orkey is sometimes called a loan-god because of this; it is thought that the Nords did not worship him until the period of Aldmeri rule over Atmora.

But, perhaps Orkey is deserving of his own post; here, I’d like to focus on Fox as seen by the Ancient Nords.  What relevance does Fox have for those of us who are not from Atmora?  What can Fox teach us, and what aspects of Fox are important to remember and apply?

Fox as a Trickster may be a reminder to look before we leap, and to make sure we have all the information we need before doing something.  Without checking, how can we be sure we’re making an informed decision?

Fox as a symbol of curses and the betrayed may be a reminder that everyone has the potential for allies and that those we think of as “lesser” may have stronger support than we realize.

Fox as a symbol of the cycle of birth and death may be a reminder that everything comes full circle eventually, and to focus on what can be done in this life and to live that life to the fullest.

For me, Fox is a reminder to act rather than stagnate; there’s no point in remaining still and wasting the time I have on indecision.  What is Fox for you?

Dragon Age – Elgar’nan

Little is truly known about the ancient elven gods; even the Dalish know little, and they share less.  What information there is must be picked up from ancient texts and oral teachings; although, we sometimes come across information where it is least expected.

Elgar’nan, Wrath and Thunder,
Give us glory.
Give us victory, over the Earth that shakes our cities.
Strike the usurpers with your lightning.
Burn the ground under your gaze.
Bring Winged Death against those who throw down our work.
Elgar’nan, help us tame the land.

– Song to Elgar’nan, Temple of Mythal

Elgar’nan is the eldest of the elven gods, born when the Sun leaned over and touched the Land.  Vengeance is his dominion; the story goes that when the Sun became jealous of the attention Elgar’nan gave to the gifts of the Land, he burned them, and Elgar’nan threw down his father for this act.  It took the Land and Mythal together to persuade Elgar’nan to restore the Sun, and he only restored him when the Sun promised to set each day.

When the elves call to Elgar’nan, they call him the All-Father, the Eldest of the Sun, and He Who Overthrew His Father, and to them he also represents fatherhood; he is paired with Mythal, the All-Mother, and together they lead the elven pantheon.  When Elgar’nan is invoked, however, it is usually in a call for something to be destroyed; his rage is terrible, and his thirst for justice means his arm is swift.

Interestingly, I see parallels between Elgar’nan and one of the netjeru (gods of Ancient Egypt); Sekhmet, Beautiful One, is terrible in her rage and her job is to uphold ma’at (Divine Order) at any cost.  In this role, she destroyed mankind almost to the point of no return; others of the netjeru had to intervene, first by tricking her into calming down, and then by using logic once she was calmed.  Sekhmet, in her role of justicar, destroys the enemies of ma’at swiftly and surely, just as Elgar’nan did to his father and continues to do when injustice is pervasive.

(Of course, there are parallels between Sekhmet and the asari justicars as well, but that’s a topic for another post.)

With these similarities, it seems to me that those wishing to worship Elgar’nan outside of video game context could approach him as I approach Sekhmet: be confident and self-aware but respectful; offer things that are appreciated – I give Sekhmet cool water, bread, and red beer, and I believe cool water would also be appropriate for Elgar’nan, given the nature of elven temples; and invoke with caution.  Much like Sekhmet, I suspect the blessings of Elgar’nan can be dual-edged and, once invoked, he may be difficult to stop before the work is done.