Mantling is a process whereby an individual can achieve apotheosis; that is, become a god. It is frequently considered one of the Six Walking Ways, the Fourth, and is sometimes called the Steps of the Dead.
The process of mantling appears to involve taking up of a role, which then grants the person the power and, to an extent, the identity, associated with that role. It can be used to reshape the nature of gods,[OOG 1] and in the examples that we have of the process all involve the manipulation of a deity in some form.
Note that none of these examples are fully confirmed by independent sources, or stated fully to be "mantling" in any context. Their status is therefore debatable, but are discussed here to provide examples of this concept.
The Arcturian Heresy gives an account that implies that Hjalti Early-Beard, Zurin Arctus and Wulfharth mantle Lorkhan in their construction and use of the Numidium. Of particular note, the Underking loses his heart and tears a hole in Zurin's chest, mimicking Auriel's or Trinimac's tearing out of Lorkhan's heart. In addition to this, Tiber Septim led a war against the mer, just as Lorkhan had led a war against Auri-El.
During the Greymarch at the end of the Third Era, the Champion of Cyrodiil undertook a variety of tasks to defeat Jyggalag. At the end of this process, Jyggalag addresses the Champion as Sheogorath, suggesting that they have become the same being at that point.
One of Vivec's writings may imply that the Tribunal have mantled the Anticipations, in claiming that "Six are the guardians of Veloth, three before and they are born again," Vivec is implying that the Tribunal took on the roles of Azura, Boethiah and Mephala by mantling. The Tribunal Temple implies that this may be their orthodox claim to divinity, stating that the Tribunal became "high ancestor spirits" where the Daedra are "ancestor spirits," with the strong implication that the Tribunal and the Daedra became one and the same kind of being, at least in respect to Dunmer theology.
The Trial of Vivec further implies that the Tribunal stole worship from the Anticipations, and Vivec states, "from [the Anticipations'] basis did we spring, called to heaven by violence, our people throwing our mantles to us across stars, and across time, and magic and dream, and here we remain."[OOG 2] However, the same source states that this was not the Tribunal's primary path to godhood.
- Most of the examples we have seem to indicate that the process is only possible when the entity being mantled is in some way absent from the world. However, the example of the Tribunal could either disprove this, or suggest that mantling has a wider application than generally thought (see note below).
- Nu-Hatta of the Sphinxmoth Enquiry Tree could potentially imply that mantling is not just the fourth Walking Way, but that there are different ways to mantle, and that Talos used the fourth way to do so. The notion of being given a mantle by others, as suggested in the case of the Tribunal, could also support this idea.
- The etymology of the term is derived from the Old Testament, where Elisha both has Elijah's mantle (cloak) cast upon him, and when he takes it and his role as prophet up after Elijah ascends to Heaven (see External Links).