Orkey, the “Old Knocker” is an adversarial god of the Nordic pantheon, and his worship is recorded as having started during the Aldmeri rule of Atmora. At that time, it is said that the Atmorans had lifespans as long as the elves and that it was a bargain with Orkey that tied their lives to “the count of winters”. It is further stated that Orkey actually summoned Alduin the World Eater to devour the lifespans of the Atmorans, and it took an intervention from the ghost of Shor and the life of King Wulfharth to save them.
In my post about Fox, I mentioned that it is likely that this symbol is meant to represent Orkey, and I also stated that Orkey deserved his own post. He does, and as I’m becoming more interested in the concept of the adversary I thought I could explore him in that vein.
What is an adversary? Well, strictly defined (because words mean things) an adversary is “one’s opponent in a contest, conflict, or dispute”. It has a negative connotation, and many people think of the word in that manner, but anyone can be (and is) an adversary at one point or another. If I take an opposing position to my friend on an issue, or compete against them in a contest, I am an adversary. If I routinely disagree with someone, our relationship is adversarial.
However: I can, and do, have adversarial relationships that aren’t necessarily negative. Disagreement and opposition are opportunities for growth and change, and as I believe stagnancy should be avoided, I actively seek out such opportunities. This means I routinely run into people who take on the role of my adversary…but that doesn’t mean that I dislike those people or wish them to be destroyed (except sometimes). In fact, in a recent discussion on The Cauldron there were several people who took up an adversarial position to my own and I (mostly) think I benefited and learned from those exchanges.
(That thread is here, if anyone is interested experiencing its glory.)
In a religious sense, the idea of the adversary is often conflated with evil. In Christianity, for example, Satan is given the epithet of “The Adversary” and is painted to be the epitome of evil, and as not too few modern polytheists were actually brought up with this mindset, it spills over into other mythos as well. Both of my primary deities, Sekhmet and Set, take on the role of the adversary in the Kemetic mythos and there are a great number of people who are hesitant to approach them because of it. Neb.y Set is especially associated with evil by non-Kemetics and has been for millennia, as can be seen in his Greco-Egyptian association with Typhon. And yet, the inhabitants of Ancient Egypt knew that the adversarial role did not directly equate with evil and that Set as adversary was necessary to uphold ma’at.
In thinking about Orkey as a Set-type adversary, I think he can be associated with more than trickery and mortality – as Set is god of the Other, so can Orkey be associated with Other and Foreign things, things that go against the traditional grain and upset the applecart, as it were. To worship Orkey, then, is to acknowledge the parts of us that long not to follow the crowd, to be independent thinkers, and put our thoughts into practice. To worship Orkey, or any adversary, is to revere individuality and personal freedoms.