Sunday, October 3, 2010

Azura, video games, and Paganism

Fear not, for I am watchful

I have long held that The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is my absolute favorite video game since the day I picked it up. Yes, I know that there are a great many number of older games from older platforms (including The Elder Scrolls series), but this game left such an impression on my video game mind that it made a connection to my spiritual mind as well. Bear with me on this... even if you don't play video games.

Quick summery: One begins this immense game waking up on a prison boat that has brought you from the Imperial capital to a distant, and exceptionally large island that has long resisted imperialistic rule and which also boasts a volcano at its center. You are originally tasked with essentially being the "eyes and ears" for the emperor in finding out who, what, where, when, and why the province has fallen on strange times. Eventually the truth spills: the emperor thinks you may possibly be the reincarnation of the Nerevarine (a man who united the tribal people of the land and was killed during a battle on the volcano--Red Mountain--in disputed and unsure circumstances). Without further going into too much detail, you do become the Nerevarine. But along the way you are helped by the Goddess Azura, and here is where my Pagan strings were plucked within this game.

The Shrine of Azura

Her beginning words are a comfort in the difficult times that you know lie ahead: I am Azura, Queen of the Night Sky and Mother of the Rose. I am your protector. Fear not, for I am watchful. You have been chosen. These lines always gave me such a thrilling chill every time I saw them. If you choose to, you can learn a very deep and well developed history and theology of the entire world the game(s) revolve around. Being a natural bibliophile, I read all of the books I could find in the game (and I kept a few special ones in my houses for some re-reading when I got tired of quests).

Borrowed from my absolutely favorite Morrowind site The Imperial Library, Azura is described throughout the game's books as:
"Azura, whose sphere is dusk and dawn, the magic inbetween realms of twilight; known by the names The Daedric Prince of Moonshadow, Mother of the Rose, and Queen of the Night Sky.
Azura maintains the domain of Moonshadow, a twilight country of shades and half-thoughts. Visitors to this isle have historically come mainly from the Dunmer of eastern Morrowind (as Azura is one of the Dunmeri three Good Daedra) and the catfolk of Elsweyr, whose people both hold a great affection for the mother of immanence, though by separate roads.
According "The Doors of Oblivion", Moonshadow is a very beautiful place. Flowers, waterfalls, majestic trees, and a city of silver decorate the realm, but it is all a blur. The colors run like water. It's damp from the rainy weather while the wind smells like perfume.
The summoning date of Azura is 21st of First Seed (also known as Hogithum). Azura can also be summoned in her shrine, if the summoner offered glow dust, while the time was at dawn or dusk.
According to "Darkest Darkness", the Winged Twilight is a messenger of Azura, Goddess of Dusk and Dawn. Winged twilights resemble the feral harpies of the West, though the feminine aspects of the winged twilights are more ravishing, and their long, sharp, hooked tails are immeasurably more deadly."
How could I, a stumblingly new, young (at the time) Pagan, not see these words and descriptions as beautiful and inspiring? How could I not see vague resemblances to Nyx and Aurora (and in Azura's more valiant ways, Athena)--Goddesses that I would come to know better now in my life because of their inspiration within a video game Goddess? Everything about Azura seemed to appeal to my soul. Her dream-like realm, the times of her greatest power, that she requires her worshipers to be of good mind, body, soul, and love (as described in the game's book Invocation of Azura), and the way she made me feel almost primitive and primal, yet capable of great wisdom and love was an extraordinary feeling that I can only link to the way I feel to the Goddess.

When I visualize and feel my Great Goddess, I can't help but to sometimes see and hear Azura. I don't worship Azura. But her image resonated within me similarly to the way the Goddess does and it unintentionally appealed to my Pagan path. That I adore her is quite different from worshiping her; I want to make that clear. I was drawn to her attributes though and that is what I began seeking in my spiritual path: To be of good mind, body, soul, and love. Attributes that can be found in a variety of religious and unorthodox places.

(image from Arwen's Morrowind journal)
The Cavern of the Incarnate
Azura's statue sits with the Moon and Star. A ring symbolizing her power and your destiny.

EDIT: Just to be clear, the game never inspired me to become a Pagan. There are already enough people out there that think video games are "corrupting the youth" and all that re-hashed anti-technology mumbo jumbo. I was already delving into learning and feeling out my path before Morrowind came along. It just flared my passion for the Goddess even more at times.

EDIT #2: For those that keep searching my page for where and how to obtain Azura's Star, The Elder Scroll's Wiki has a link to each of the games versions and how to get them. Hope that helps :)

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