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A soul

The Soul, also known as the Animus, is a feature of an entity which seems to be closely connected to its animating consciousness and the body it has, both spiritual and physical. All living things on Nirn seem to have a soul, though the souls of more intelligent and stronger creatures tend to be "larger" (more powerful). Under ordinary circumstances, the mind and soul of a mortal are intertwined. The word, "soul", is almost exclusively used to describe Anuic animus that mortals possess,[1] though other entities like Dragons and Daedra also have an animus that serves a similar function.

Souls are generally immortal though there have been a few cases of spirits that got erased from existence, like Umaril the Unfeathered. In death, a mortal's soul usually journeys to Aetherius, where it remains forever. Mortals who serve a Daedric Prince, who retain strong emotional ties to the mortal realm, or who are affected by certain spells, may instead find their souls on Mundus or one of the planes of Oblivion. It is possible to trap and manipulate souls through necromantic arts and spells like Soul Trap.

It is possible that souls are composed of various parts and influenced by variables that are yet to be understood, for example a Shadow of the soul can be separated from it and transformed into an independent entity, leaving original soul in a weakened state.[2][3] Other anomalies of soul mechanics include the odd nature of Cadwell, who shared his consciousness between his old body and the one formed by his Vestige, resulting in two distinct versions of the same person. While the precise nature of the souls is uncertain, what can be known is that souls are a source of mystic energy .[4] Soul Magic, Enchanting, Necromancy, Mysticism, and Conjuration all make use of this energy. Soul gems are the most common method of trapping souls, especially for enchanting, although items such as animus geodes can be used in some cases.

Mortal Souls[edit]

An Argonian's soul being torn from his body as he dies
A soul's essence surrounds Iszara, restoring her

The Anuic animus of mortals, commonly referred to as a "soul",[1] is described as having certain characteristics.

The spirits of mortals are noted for their mutability, in contrast to the Daedra who are described as largely immutable and static, incapable of experiencing change in spiritual nature or certain aspects of character,[5][6][7][8][9] or to Nature Spirits who are said to always return to a core nature,[10] mortals can change, in their nature, their ways, their names,[11] which makes them stand out. Because of this difference in mutability, even a mortal who's received power from a Daedric Prince to achieve transformation into a "mock-Daedra" remains mortal in terms of nature.[5] This mutability is said to extend to a soul's vessel, where a mortal might change their spirit's vessel through some basic magic, a change a number of mages have undergone, taking on forms such as that of a Voriplasm , a tree, a Tomeshell, a Giant, or even a Dragon skeleton,[12][13][14][15][16] a Daedra's form is defined by their Nymic or "incantatory true name" in it's one changeless form.[11]

According to Hermaeus Mora, it is the nature of mortals to always have a chance to succeed and reach a desired outcome even when it would otherwise be impossible, a quality not possessed by immortal beings like himself who would inevitably fail in the same circumstances.[8]The unique ability of mortals to choose their own fate is also affirmed by the Daedric Prince Ithelia, according to whom mortals, unlike immortals such as the Daedra, possess the ability to change who they are and alter their own fates naturally, without the need of magic or divine power, something which beings such as herself or her servants are incapable of.[6]

Unlike the Vestiges of Daedra, the souls of mortals are described as not fettered to existence, with the proper rites they can be "decoupled" from the body entirely and persist as immortal spirits that sustain themselves by consuming other souls. This unmooring process is not the same as the soul being separated from the body at death because than the resulting spirit is dead, a Ghost, whereas if separated prior to death the mortal becomes a living spirit.[17]

The mortal soul contains certain facets, the Shadow is said to be the darkness which innately belongs to mortal souls, an integral part of a creature's animus, it being damaged while attached to the rest of the soul is equivalent to the soul being damaged and can lead to death.[18][2][3] In at least one case, a mortal's essence was separated into their aspects of Magicka, Health and Stamina through magic.[19]Though souls can be sundered through the use of powerful magic, it is said the spirit can eventually recoalesce, given enough time,[20]in addition to their fragments eventually reconstituting on their own, shattered spirits can also be restored through the use of Soul Magic, a process which can also allow for souls that have been altered as in the case of the Dro-m'Athra to be restored to their original state.[21] The mortal soul is said to contain tremendous power, but it also places certain checks on mortal will which obstruct the mortal from accessing it, separating the soul from the body, as is done through the process of transformation into Lichdom, is said to remove such boundaries, opening the door to a virtually limitless magical horizon.[21] Some sources claim that spiritual corruption manifests within the soul as a tangible thing, something which those with the required knowledge and skill can isolate and remove, leaving the soul itself alive and healthy. Such an ability is said to have been possessed by Saint Veloth, whose ability to distinguish good from bad and skill as a healer were combined in his symbol of power, the artifact Veloth's Judgment, which could cleanse souls of corruption by siphoning it from the spirit in a precise manner. Whatever the case, using the same process to siphon a living creature's entire soul instead, can grant the one using it immense power.[22][23][24][25] According to some accounts, the Hunger of Sep exists deep within the core of every mortal, it is a thing that can never be sated and is related to mortals being overtaken by greed. It is said that those who pursue avaricious desires can be taken body and soul by the Hunger of Sep, leading to calamity. Being taken by this "hunger" is said to be what caused the Samara Scarabs to transform into the Assassin Beetles of today, growing larger and sprouting rending claws and mandibles due to its influence.[26]

The soul of an individual on the precipice of death can manifest in a spectral form, similar to a ghost. A soul burdened by strong emotions such as regret can splinter, its parts manifesting simultaneously in multiple locations tied to those emotions.[27] Such souls, caught between life and death, can be prevented from moving on to the afterlife through the use of powerful magic. However, even the power of a Luminary can't prevent a soul from passing on to Aetherius indefinitely, and powerful wraiths might eventually arrive to force the transition into Aetherius.[28][29]

Souls are described as being linked to the origin of certain phenomena. When a mortal dies their memories become Water,[30] with rivers of memory even connecting Nirn to realms beyond,[31] and the oceans being described as extending beyond the three dimensions mortal senses perceive, and as having a true nature that can be fatel to witness.[32] Because of this, with the proper knowledge, the memories drawn from mortals can be coalesced to create a Water Stone, an artifact capable of creating an endless supply of water, said to be very close in nature to that of a nature spirit of water.[33][30][34] The memories a mortal accumulates throughout life, much like their lifeforce, can be tapped into through magic, potentially serving as a source of power for spells and curses. Absorbing a spirit's memories is equated to absorbing its essence itself, thus lifeforce drawn from the body can manifest as memories, and memories either manifested through magic or tied to an object with emotional significance can provide the one they originate from with lifeforce. A spirit's memory is known to serve as a potent source of mortus energy, the magical energies of necromancy.[35][36]. Through the use of magic, a mortal's memories of another individual can even be extracted to create a version of that individual that can go on to substitute the original in the role they were meant to perform.[37][38] In addition, a mortal experiencing suffering or death is said to produce necromantic energies which can stain the area where such events occurred and trap the souls of those present to haunt it, or serve as a reserve of magic for necromancers.[39]

Because of their connection to the Hist, the souls of Argonians are said to have unique qualities not shared by souls of other races of Tamriel.[40] Normally when they die they are able to return to the Hist tree which is bound to their tribe, but if that is prevented or the tree is suffering, the soul may remain as a ghost.[41]The souls of Khajiit are also described as having unique qualities, an innate duality or choice to be made not found in other souls, which is what allows for their transformation into Dro-m'Athra, dark spirits who have been described as "bizzare mutants" of a Daedric nature by the Daedra themselves. It is said by master necromancers that to view Dro-m'Athra as either just a form of Daedra or as just corrupted mortal souls is not quite accurate.[21][42] One Khajiit account describes how a Khajiit souls travels to Azurah's Crossing after death, and encounters Azurah herself. At that point the spirit remembers that it has lived and experienced the passage to the afterlife many times, and mentions it to Azurah. To this observation Azurah responds that the spirit has "walked many paths" to stand before her.[43]

Though certain aspects of souls, such as them being a source of magical energy, are understood, their true nature has been described as ultimately unknowable, with every mage who has attempted to discover it vanishing without a trace.[4] Indeed, the Numinous Grimoire, an arcane tome held in Apocrypha that is said to be a dissection of the mortal soul in both life and death, and contains rites that allow one to "decouple" their soul from the physical and become an immortal living spirit, is said to destroy the minds of any mortal who reads it, with the knowledge within only being transmittable through the aid of immortals who've read it first.[44][45][17]

Some sources claim that mortal spirits experience a change upon reaching Aetherius, with many souls of mortals becoming spirits of a different sort in that place.[46] Many reports from across Tamriel describe a phenomenon where the souls of the dead adopt a variety of forms to return and speak with the living. Animals, plants, or even fearsome visions, are all reported manifestations. It is theorized that the Luminaries, immortal beings of pure magic, might have originated as mortal souls, being the spirits of Ascended Ancestors that transformed into their current state after death due to this described phenomenon. As the Luminaries themselves can't recall their origins, this theory remains unproven.[47][48] Whatever the case, however, a Luminary can indeed be created out of the essence of a mortal soul, as was the case with the Crow Luminary, who was created through a ritual devised by Ulfsild the Evergreen out of a portion of her own essence. Though the process is straining and the restoration of the spirit takes time, a soul that was used in such a manner will eventually recover.[49][50][51]

According to the Daedric Prince Ithelia mortals, by their very existence and lives, help preserve and maintain Aurbis, every child born, war fought, or field plowed by mortals, helps stabilize reality itself. It is said that mortals were designed as servants to perform tasks that maintain reality and so, the limitations that constrain them, such as the inability to comprehend and traverse the Many Paths, were placed upon them intentionally. This truth, Ithelia claims, is generally kept from mortals, to minimize the risk of them disrupting the plans of those who benefit from this secret. Despite this, there are certain individuals who have been shown to not be bound by at least some of the usual mortal limitations, being able to comprehend and traverse the Many Paths without issue.[6]

The essence of a mortal soul is one of those influences that, when joined with purest creatia from the realm of a Daedric Prince or Daedra Lord, can give rise to a Demiprince.[52]


The Soul of Dusk, a Daedric animus
A Dremora having his essence return to nothingness, effectively the closest thing a Daedra can have to a peaceful death

Daedra lack an Anuic Animus, also known as a mortal soul,[1] each one instead possessing a Daedric soul known as a Vestige (sometimes also called an Animus[53]). When a Daedra is destroyed, either in Mundus or in Oblivion, its Vestige is banished to the Void,[54][53] and attracted back to the plane of Oblivion where it originated. A Daedra reforms according to the pattern within its Morphotype (a concept which seems to be interchangeable with the Vestige though it more closely relates to the form of a Daedra) using Chaotic Creatia (e.g. the Azure Plasm of Coldharbour).[1] A Daedric Prince can create a new Daedra by replacing an entity's original Animus with a Vestige, a process which was used to give rise to the original Daedric Titans.[55]

According to the Mazken Madam Whim, a renowned information broker operating out of Fargrave, the original formation of the Vestiges of lesser Daedra is generally the work of a progenitor Daedric Prince, who forms them out of the Creatia of their realm and sets their nature and path at the time of their making.[52] There have been cases of lesser Daedra that were created by their progenitor Prince to accomplish a specific purpose or task, such as the scions of Ithelia, who were created by their Prince to help avert her foreseen imprisonment after a conflict with the other Daedric Princes.[6]

Though normally unchanging, a Daedra's Vestige and therefore it's Morphotype can be altered and given new qualities through vestigial hybridization, a process through which a Vestige is given traits originating from a different Vestige thus allowing a new type of Daedra to be created. Examples of this process include the creation of the Xivkyn by Molag Bal through the combination of elements from both Dremora and Xivilai within the Vile Laboratory, and the transformation of Valkyn Skoria, who became a being of elemental fire through the addition of elements from Flame Atronachs to his Vestige by Mehrunes Dagon.[56]

It is possible to trap the animus of a Daedra by magically infusing it into an item.[57] It is not known what happens to a Daedra killed in Aetherius,[58] though it has been suggested that this may be one way to permanently kill a Daedra.[59] While normally considered immortal, even by their own reckoning, a lesser Daedra can experience a form of death through the rare method of it's Vestige being changed by a Cataclyst, a device designed by the Moth Priest Elegian which permanently merges multiple Daedric Vestiges into one to create an Incarnate, a more powerful Daedra which is said to be the incarnation of a natural disaster, effectively eliminating the original identities of the combined Daedra and killing them even though their essence persists.[60][61] There is one known way for a lesser Daedra to be rendered incapable of ever returning, and that is for their own progenitor Prince to consign their essence to nothingness. The Dremora Torvesard met his final end at the hands of his Prince, Ithelia, in this manner.[6]

Soul Shriven[edit]

Soul Shriven are mortals who have had their souls taken by Molag Bal. Cultists devoted to him ritually sacrifice victims,[62] who are pulled into Coldharbour,[63] their souls stolen and replaced by a Vestige at the moment of death.[1] This process leaves a soul shriven's mind and body intact and allows it to regenerate after death as the Daedra do. However, as they are not native to Oblivion, their bodies are imperfect imitations of what the soul shriven had on Nirn.[1] It also reduces the victim's willpower and causes their sense of self to degrade, allowing Molag Bal to enslave the soul shriven for eternity.[62] However, the process is imperfect, and over time both the mind and body of a soul shriven decay, resulting in a violent, feral, decrepit creature.[63] Some soul shriven also claim to still feel a connection to their souls, believing that they can feel sensations that correspond to the treatment of the soul gems in which their souls are kept.[64]

It has been suggested that the soul shriven experience this effect because mortals require an Anuic principle to maintain their forms. In this case, there might exist "paragon" mortals with a different Anuic aspect, who would retain their forms and sanity after becoming soul shriven, while still becoming immortal.[1] This hypothesis was confirmed during the Planemeld, during which a mortal became capable of fighting to defend Nirn even without a soul.[65]

Dragon Souls[edit]

Dragon soul being absorbed

Dragon souls are unique in that they generally persist eternally due to the link between a dragon's soul and its physical remains being far stronger than that of a mortal.[66] The souls of dragons are said to be exceptionally resilient, making influencing them through necromantic magic a difficult task which requires great power and preparation,[67][68][69] however, it is possible to use powerful soul magic to sever the connection between a dragon's soul and its physical remains, although the effects of this is the subject of fierce scholarly debate, with some speculating that a dragon soul once severed may simply dissolve over time or return to join father Akatosh.[66]. After severing the dragon soul from the remains a mage may attempt to capture it, but it will be lost to them should they fail to contain it. [70]

Dov (Dragons and Dragonborn) can absorb the souls of fellow dov.[71] This grants the recipient a portion of the knowledge and life essence of their fallen opponent, but it also destroys the dov permanently, rendering it beyond the ability of any ritual to resurrect.[72][73] In addition, certain dragons have claimed to possess the ability to "shred" the unabsorbed souls of other Dov so they may never rise again. [67]



  • Lefthanded Elves protected their abdomens with a shield-girdle because they believed it was the "throne of the soul".[74]
  • Some styles of facial hair are known as soul patches.[75]
  • Travelling through portals is described as "moving with the winds of the soul".[28]

See Also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Chaotic Creatia: The Azure PlasmDoctor Rhythandius
  2. ^ a b Divayth Fyr's dialogue in ESO
  3. ^ a b Lilatha's dialogue in ESO
  4. ^ a b Souls, Black and White
  5. ^ a b Loremaster's Archive - Tamriel's DungeonsDhulef
  6. ^ a b c d e Ithelia's dialogue in ESO
  7. ^ Scruut's dialogue in ESO
  8. ^ a b Hermaeus Mora's dialogue in ESO
  9. ^ Leramil's dialogue in ESO
  10. ^ Druid Laurel's dialogue during The Stonelore Defense in ESO
  11. ^ a b On the Nature of NymicsDivayth Fyr
  12. ^ Sorcerer Rectavius in ESO
  13. ^ Vorm in ESO
  14. ^ Orryn the Black in ESO
  15. ^ Thallik Wormfather in ESO
  16. ^ Strange Sapling in ESO
  17. ^ a b Uldazaan the Heresy-Keeper's dialogue in ESO
  18. ^ The Shadowcutter BladePriestess Endunore
  19. ^ Galerion's Health dialogue in ESO
  20. ^ Sombren's dialogue in ESO
  21. ^ a b c Vastarie's dialogue in ESO
  22. ^ The Judgment of Saint VelothMagistrix Vox
  23. ^ Saint Veloth's dialogue in ESO
  24. ^ Magistrix Vox's dialogue in ESO
  25. ^ Boethiah's dialogue in ESO
  26. ^ The Hunger of SepThe Unveiled Azadiyeh, Songbird of Satakalaam
  27. ^ Jahones Valain's soul fragments in ESO
  28. ^ a b The Netch'dialogue in ESO
  29. ^ Inevitable End in ESO
  30. ^ a b Herald Kixathi's dialogue in ESO
  31. ^ Vistha-Li's dialogue in ESO
  32. ^ Augur of the Obscure's dialogue in ESO
  33. ^ Lorelia's dialogue in ESO
  34. ^ Water Stone's description in ESO
  35. ^ Old Mjolen's dialogue in ESO
  36. ^ Maxten's Research Journal in ESO
  37. ^ Naanurrel's dialogue in ESO: Necrom
  38. ^ Landolvel's dialogue in ESO: Necrom
  39. ^ The Great Stain
  40. ^ Haj Uxith loading screen in ESO
  41. ^ Tree-Minder Deyapa's dialogue in The Tree-Minder's Fate
  42. ^ Loremaster's Archive - Mehrunes Dagon & Daedra in the Second EraLyranth
  43. ^ Azurah's CrossingAmun-dro, the Silent Priest
  44. ^ On Tracts PerilousCipher Sethali
  45. ^ Cipher Plautis's dialogue in ESO
  46. ^ Girnalin's dialogue in ESO
  47. ^ Loremaster's Archive - Scribing — Votary Nahila
  48. ^ Ulfsild's Notes: The Origin of LuminariesUlfsild
  49. ^ The Crow's dialogue in ESO
  50. ^ Ulfsild the Evergreen's dialogue in ESO
  51. ^ Fable of the Crow
  52. ^ a b Loremaster's Archive - Malacath and MaelstromMadam Whim
  53. ^ a b Dylora's dialogue in Shivering Isles
  54. ^ The Book of Daedra
  55. ^ Daedra Dossier: The TitansDenogorath the Dread Archivist, Paragraph 10
  56. ^ Lyranth the Foolkiller Answers Your QuestionsLyranth the Foolkiller
  57. ^ Lyranth's dialogue in Summary Execution
  58. ^ Journey to Aetherius quest
  59. ^ "Death" of Morphotypical EntitiesDoctor Rhythandius
  60. ^ Dothaz's dialogue in ESO
  61. ^ Lyranth's dialogue in The Celestial Palanquin in ESO
  62. ^ a b How Long Before the Echoes Fade?
  63. ^ a b Lyris Titanborn's dialogue during Soul Shriven in Coldharbour in ESO
  64. ^ Slave's Diary
  65. ^ Events of Soul Shriven in Coldharbour in ESO: the Vestige absorbs a skyshard at the Prophet's behest
  66. ^ a b Loremaster's Archive - Dragons in the Second EraCamilla Calsivius
  67. ^ a b Nahfahlaar's dialogue in ESO
  68. ^ Valerica's dialogue in Skyrim
  69. ^ Paarthurnax's dialogue in Skyrim
  70. ^ Caluurion's dialogue in ESO
  71. ^ Arngeir's dialogue in Skyrim
  72. ^ Balgruuf the Greater's dialogue in Skyrim
  73. ^ Paarthurnax's dialogue in Skyrim
  74. ^ Lefthander's Aegis Belt description
  75. ^ Soul Patch collectible