The Daedra (sing. Daedroth; Eurasian: Didrae, sing. Didra; Dovahzul: Deyra) are a group of powerful immortal beings in Novem Deos. Considered the antithesis of the Aedra, the Daedra share no spiritual or ephemeral connection with the mortal world, and are totally alien beings. They are considered by many Deosians to be evil, cursed creatures, and their worship is highly ostracized in Eurasia and outright banned in Cortoriacum.
The Daedra are ruled, according to Deosian teachings, by the Daedric Princes, a cadre of sixteen of the most powerful Daedra, each of whom rules a section of Oblivion (see Deosian Cosmology). These princes maintain total control of their respective realms, and often seek to ensnare the souls of mortals in Deosian lore.
The word "daedra" is ultimately of Ayleid origin (D'ay'drah), meaning literally "not of our ancestors". It entered English vernacular through Eurasian "Didra". The singular form of daedra is daedroth, however the word daedroth is gradually becoming obsolete as daedra takes on both a singular and plural meaning. Daedra are also commonly referred to as "demons" by laymen and non-Deosians, despite the fact that Daedra do not necessarily fit the conceptualization of "demonic" in all cases. It is worthy of note, however, that many do fill this role, and that Christian concepts of demons may well be based off of Deosian daedric legends.
Origin and Nature
According to Deosian origin theory, the Daedra originated at the beginning of time, when the eternal static, Anu, was sundered by the eternal chaos, Padomay. The combined blood of Anu and Padomay formed the Aedra, while the pure blood of Padomay formed the Daedra. As such, the Daedra share no connection with the mortal realm later created by the Aedra.
By their nature of being unrelated to the mortal world, Deosian theologians hold that, while the Daedra may appear evil to mortal sensibilities, they exist outside the realm of mortal ethics and morality, and as such cannot truly be considered "evil". The Daedra act as is their most base nature, and if that manifests as ill intent towards the mortal realm that is as a projection of their ultimate being, not as a necessary desire to become evil. Though to mortal eyes they may appear evil, they are not that by definition, as their nature cannot be understood by mortal comprehensions of right and wrong.
Moreover, not all Daedra are evil by nature. Some, such as Meridia and Azura, share many traits in common with the Nine Divines. However, it is necessary to note that the Daedra appearing benevolent in fact are not truly benevolent towards mankind, instead merely reflecting what is their sphere of influence and their purpose. Merida hates necromancy because she hates necromancy, not because it damages mortal souls. Azura is Prince of Roses because she is Prince of Roses, not because mortals find roses palatable to behold.
Though many men consider Daedra outright evil, this is a gross oversimplification. The Aedra of the Nine Divines represent constancy and static, whilst the Daedra represent fluidity and change. Daedra are thus perceived from mortal perspectives as destructive and violent. While some Daedra are possibly evil, there exist Daedra on both ends of the spectrum of morality who do not easily fit this mold.
Some scholars have posited that many Daedra, chief amongst them the Prince of Destruction Mehrunes Dagon share an affinity for the mortal realm because of its breakability. A prince such as Dagon cannot truly practice his nature of destruction in Oblivion, as it is eternal and cannot be broken. The mortal world can be destroyed, and as such it is the only place in which he can truly fulfill his nature. This is one of the primary reasons that individuals such as Akatosh and Alessia are so strongly worshiped in Deosian tradition, as they prevented Dagon from truly fulfilling his purpose and destroying the world.
Most of the Daedric Princes view the mortal races as little more than a curiosity, and occasionally as sources of entertainment. Sheogorath and Sanguine, for example, can often be found tormenting mortals for their own amusement, but not with the express intent of causing harm. Azura's dealings with mortals are almost entirely beneficial, making her the most "benevolent" of the Daedric Princes. Likewise, Meridia is regarded as benevolent due to her hatred of undead, and Nocturnal lends her aid to thieves. Of course, there are a few Princes, such as Mehrunes Dagon, Molag Bal and Boethiah, who do take pleasure from causing harm to mortals, and as such, would fit the common definition of "evil". Even Daedric Lords who appear to represent something "good", such as the Daedric Prince of Order, Jyggalag, can cause severe harm in the mortal world when that aspect is taken to its utmost extreme.
Daedric Princes are the most powerful of the Daedra, and thus the ones most commonly worshipped as gods. Each has a particular sphere (plane of oblivion as described in detail in The Doors of Oblivion), which it is said to govern. Although Daedric Princes may assume the form of a female or male, they have no inherent gender, and are all referred to as "Princes."
The Princes consist of:
- Azura – The Daedric Prince of Dawn and Dusk, Mother of Roses, Queen of Twilight.
- Boethiah – The Daedric Prince of Murder and Deceit, Prince of Plots, One of the Tribunal.
- Clavicus Vile – The Daedric Prince of Wishes and Bargains.
- Hermaeus Mora – The Daedric Prince of Knowledge, Knower of the Unknown, Keeper of Knowledge, Keeper of Forbidden Secrets, Herma-Mora.
- Hircine – The Daedric Prince of The Hunt, Father of Man-beasts.
- Jyggalag– The Daedric Prince of Order, Hatred of Madness. Jyggalag is in fact the original form of Sheogorath. The other princes cursed him into what he despises most out of jealousy. Sheogorath becomes Jyggalag again at the end of each era (see Greymarch).
- Malacath – The Daedric Prince of Curses, Keeper of the Bloody Curse, Lord of Sworn Oath, Corner of the House of Trouble.
- Mehrunes Dagon – The Daedric Prince of Destruction and Change, The Changer, Corner of the House of Trouble.
- Mephala – The Daedric Prince of Spiders, Whispering Lady, Spinner, One of the Tribunal, Patron of the Morag Tong,
- Meridia – The Daedric Prince of Life, Enemy of the Dead, Lady of Infinite Energies.
- Molag Bal – The Daedric Prince of Domination, the Corrupter, Creator of Corprus, Corrupted Creator, Corner of the House of Trouble, Lord of Domination, the King of Rape, and Enslaver of Mortals, Father of Vampires.
- Namira – The Daedric Prince of Ancient Darkness, the Spirit Daedra, the Lady of Decay, the Eater of Children.
- Nocturnal – The Daedric Prince of Night, Mistress of Night, Mother of Thieves, Lady of Ravens, Lady Luck.
- Peryite – The Daedric Prince of Pestilence, the Taskmaster, The Lord of Lower.
- Sanguine – The Daedric Prince of Debauchery, the Lord of Sin, Master of Sins.
- Sheogorath – The Daedric Prince of Madness, Mad-god, Demented Duke, Corner of the House of Trouble.
- Vaermina – The Daedric Prince of Nightmares, Lady of Evil Omens, the Dream-lady, The Collector of Minds.
Daedra worship is commonplace amongst certain elements of society. Those who worship the daedra see them as gods, and seek their favor. Amongst Deosian elements, the practice is ostracized, and in areas with Deosian majority such as Cortoriacum banned outright. Daedra worshippers are frequently the targets of witchhunts in Eurasian history, and being exposed as a Daedra worshipper is highly destructive. Some Daedra worship is more tolerated than others, such as worship of Azura or Meridia, though it is still discouraged.
Daedra worshipers often related that they felt "called" to worship the Daedra, and thus worshiped by choice. Most times a worshiper followed a Daedra that most closely parallels their own conscience. For example, a follower of Nocturnal, the Daedric Prince of Night, might feel a kinship with the darkness, whereas a follower of Mehrunes Dagon may have a great hunger for power.