The faith originated in Atmora in the Merethic Era where Dragons ruled supreme. Their servants, the Dragon Priests established a ruling body known as the Dragon Cult and held power equals to kings.
Part of the cult's beliefs was a faith focused on the worship of animal gods. The deified animals were the hawk, wolf, snake, moth, owl, whale, bear, fox, and the dragon. Low reliefs found in ancient Nordic ruins have led scholars to believe that these deified animals were actually totemic representations of several Et'Ada, some of which are present in the pantheon of the Eight Divines. Of these reliefs; six are depicted as male and three as female.
Influence in Skyrim
The Ancient Nordic Pantheon was brought to the shores of Skyrim during the mass Atmoran migration that took place over the next several centuries. It served as the predominant Nordic faith during the early First Era, however over the centuries the Nords eventually discarded the notion of animal worship and moved to towards the worship of the Et'Ada themselves. This culminated in the formation of the Nordic Pantheon which served as the predominant religion in Skyrim until the rule of Alessia in 1E 243, who melded Aldmeri and Nordic pantheons to create the pantheon of the Eight Divines.
The whale is depicted as a male and is believed to be the representation of Stuhn,[source?] the Nordic precursor to Stendarr and brother of Tsun. Like his brother, he served as shield-thane to Shor, and fought against the Aldmeri Pantheon.
The owl depicted as a male and is believed to be the representation of Jhunal the Nordic god of runes,[source?] hermetic orders, wisdom, and knowledge. Also known as the father of language and mathematics.
The Dead Gods
The fox depicted as a male and is believed to be the representation of Shor, the fallen god-hero of mankind. Allusion to the characteristics of the fox include his successful attempt at persuading his fellow Et'ada to create Mundus.[OOG 1]
The bear depicted as a male and is believed to be the representation of Tsun, Nordic god of trials against adversity.[OOG 1] He served as shield-thane to Shor and died defending him from foreign gods during the Ehlnofey wars of the Dawn Era.
The Hearth Gods
The hawk depicted as a female and is believed to be the representation Kyne, warrior-widow of Shor, also known as the Goddess of the storm and the Mother of Men.[OOG 1] Nords believe she was instrumental in both their creation and for giving them the gift of the Thu'um.
The Testing Gods
The Twilight Gods
The Dragon was the chief deity in the ancient Nordic pantheon as is widely accepted as being a representation of Alduin, the "World Eater."[OOG 1] Low reliefs in ancient Nordic tombs don't depict him directly, rather his servants; the Dragon Priests are shown.