Elder Scrolls

The Interpreted Soul

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An initiate disturbed my meditations last night, wide-eyed and distraught. “Abbot,” cried he, “I have endured the most horrible dream. I was tending to the elders in their cells, bringing them food and water, listening to their soothing songs. The moths’ gentle wings fluttered, tranquil as always, when suddenly I was confronted by hideous apparitions! Incorporeal dead roamed the halls, and it appeared to me as if the moths were feeding on them—sucking wisps of ghostly material, perhaps their very souls, into hungry maws! Please, Abbot, tell me this is madness, that this is not so!”

It is not unusual for initiates of our Order to suffer unsettling dreams, especially as they learn more of the nature of our sacred charges, the Elder Scrolls, and the ancestors that grant us the wisdom to approach their infinite mysteries. Though much of the knowledge gained through readings of the Scrolls must be experienced personally to truly comprehend it, and despite being quite exhausted from my daily rigors, I was able to help him set aside his fears about our Order’s relationship with mortal souls and the moths that preserve fragments of their erudition from beyond mortality.

Not for us are the brutal methods of the conjurer or necromancer, tearing the soul from its vessel, constraining it and forcibly redirecting its energies with no regard for its journey or contents. No, the interplay of moth and ancestor soul is delicate and as natural as the canticle trees themselves, and we are patient and conscientious observers hoping to make sense of the cosmic tapestry by glimpsing its threads. It is through service to the moths and the ancestors that we gain guidance, not through the clumsy coercion of will without understanding the consequences.

The soul, I told him, has much in common with the moth—they are a symbolic pair. Though it is typical to think of it as the Aedric essence at the core of every mortal, I advised him to consider the soul in another light, scaled like the wings of the moth, and to imagine it comprised of vessels filled through the events of mortal existence. On release from life on Nirn, it is our belief that a kind of dissipation begins, and it is then that the moths learn the song of a soul’s fjyrons, which are shepherded under our care and protected generation after generation.

The fjyrons themselves must retain a connection to the grand fabric of creation, to the scattered soul-remnants in all their destinations. Through this link and with patient care, we receive guidance from beyond the present or past and the known world, where time is irrelevant. The moths do not capture or devour the souls of the ancestors, but only repeat to us what they’ve filtered, like a chorus repeating the verses of a grand song.

I could tell that, though the full dawn of understanding had not broken for him yet, his wild fears about the ancestor moths were somewhat allayed. I was pleased to assist him in his journey, and told him he would have ample time to ponder the nature of souls as he scrubbed the silkroom floors for the next week—penance for intruding on my nightly reverie.


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