This article is about the god. For the book, see Sithis (book).
Sithis, also known as Padomay, Akel, Is-Not, or El, is a representation of the one primordial state of chaos. Sithis is most often associated with the Dark Brotherhood, an assassin organization dedicated to his worship. He is often associated with serpent-like imagery, and small aspects of Sithis have even been known to reveal themselves in the form of ghostly serpents.
Despite being revered as a god, Sithis is not seen as either Aedric or Daedric, but the embodiment and personification of chaos, change, and the Void, a realm beyond Oblivion and Aetherius where the vestiges of slain Daedra are banished to while they reform. To kill or to be killed in the name of Sithis will send a mortal's soul to the Void upon death as well.
Origin and Creation
Variations on the story of Sithis exist in many Tamriellic Pantheons. In most of these, Sithis is related in some way to a version of Anuiel, the personification and embodiment of order and stasis, and ends with him creating the god Lorkhan so that he can in turn create the Mundus.
In The Annotated Anuad, a creation myth from the Mythic Era, Anu and Padomay were brothers that fought over the personification of reality, Nir. Anu and Nir created Creation, angering Padomay and causing him to attack. Both wound up dying to each other, and their blood led to the creation of the gods. The Daedra came from Padomay's blood exclusively, detaching them from Creation, while the Aedra were spawned from the mixing of the blood of both Padomay and Anu, allowing the Aedra to be 'capable of both good and evil' and tying them to Creation.
In Khajiiti creation stories, Fadomai and Ahnurr were mates and gave birth to the litters of the Aedra and then the Daedra. Though Ahnurr was content with this, Fadomai secretly tricked Ahnurr into helping create one last litter, angering him. Interestingly, the roles of creator and aggressor are flipped in this particular story, with Ahnurr attacking Fadomai during the birth of Nirni and the Moons. Following his attack, Fadomai flees to the Void to birth her final member of the litter, Lorkhaj, who creates the Mundus for Nirni to exist within and tricks the rest of the gods to become trapped in it.
Yokudans see Sithis and Anuiel as a single being known as 'Satakal', a giant serpent constantly eating its own tail in an endless cycle. To avoid being eaten by Satakal, Spirits hopped from scale to scale in a way that became known as 'the Walkabout'. The Second Serpent, Sep, claimed to have an idea for a way to avoid Satakal and the Walkabout by creating a new world. Once again, this creation traps the other spirits within and makes them mortal and unable to leave this world, which was too far separated from Satakal.
Though Argonian society as a whole doesn't have an established singular creation story, the Adzi-Kostleel tribe claims that two beings, Atak and Kota, fought until they joined together as a singular being known as Atakota. When they did this, they shed their skin and created a Shadow. This Shadow, though initially intending to devour everything, soon came to see the creations of Atakota as its own children, and instead gave them the gift of change, which would later come to be known as Death.
In the Altmeri mythos, Sithis was created as 'the sum of all limits' by Anuiel, the soul of Anu, so that Anuiel could create borders and define himself. As Sithis isn't an active being in this story, Anuiel instead has the role of creating Lorkhan, who is created when Anu creates the soul of his soul, Auriel, and time begins. Lorkhan, again, tricks the gods into becoming trapped in the mortal world, full of limitations like himself, which was then known as 'the house of Sithis'.
The Dunmer believe that the birth of Sithis was the start of creation, as the everlasting stasis of Anu meant nothing could ever change. Sithis broke the nothing and creating ideas that ebbed and flowed out of it. Anuiel, the demon, came later and created the Aedra in order to counter him by building 'everlasting, imperfect worlds'. To counter this, Sithis begat Lorkhan, who created the mortal world and allowed things to once again decay by trapping the other gods within. The Dark Brotherhood, having split off from the Dunmeri organization known as the Morag Tong, seems to share this belief, as this story can be found in many of their hideaways.
A simplified and secular interpretation of the Monomyth can be found within the Bretonic children's story, The Light and the Dark. In it, two immortal entities representing Chaos and Order chose Tamriel to be their eternal battleground. This everlasting battle would create energies so powerful it distorted the world and created both the "people of Et'Ada", who would in turn give the gods the structure they have today. According to the grandfather, all of creation exists to echo the battle between the Dark and the Light.
Many of these stories end with the creator sacrificing themselves or being killed, as is the case with Sep, Lorkhan, and the shadow of Atakota. The Reachfolk and Khajiit have their Lorkhan stand-ins undergo similar sacrifices, but with the key difference of them surviving the removal of their Heart long enough for Namira to replace it with darkness.
Despite being recognized in most Tamrielic cultures, Sithis is rarely publicly worshiped. Instead of priesthoods, many of the organizations dedicated to Sithis act as assassin guilds first and foremost.
The Dark Brotherhood is one such organization, and has ties all throughout Tamriel. Their worship of Sithis involves multiple intermediates. The lower ranking members of each branch answer to a Listener, who in turn communes with the supposed bride of Sithis, known as the Night Mother. To get in contact with a member of the Dark Brotherhood, one only needs to construct an effigy of the intended victim and pray to the Night Mother, and a representative of the Dark Brotherhood will soon contact you. Though brutally effective assassins, their method of worship is extremely macabre. Their effigies to Sithis often incorporate bones or organs of some kind, and even their telltale symbol is a bloody handprint.
The Morag Tong is yet another assassin organization that's dedicated to Sithis, though unlike the Dark Brotherhood their organization is both legal and an accepted part of Dunmeri society. Instead of relying on gory rituals, they take writs of execution from the various Houses, committing the political assassinations out in the open. Unlike the Dark Brotherhood, they're no more obsessed with gore and death than the rest of Morrowind, and instead have a hall similar to any other guild you may come across. They lack a Night Mother entirely and instead worship the Daedric Prince, Mephala, one of the three Reclamations in Dunmeri society. Indeed, some have come to the conclusion that 'the Night Mother' herself is some version of Mephala because of this missing connection, and the fact the Dark Brotherhood initially splintered off from the Morag Tong without a Night Mother.
In Black Marsh
Argonians are one of the only cultures in Tamriel to openly revere Sithis, which they have done since at least the Merethic Era. The closest Sithis has to a priesthood is the Clutch of Nisswo, an organization operating primarily within Black Marsh. Before Dusk fell, Sithis's priesthood held great status in Argonian society. Some in modern times refer to the old priesthood as "Nisswo-Kings".
The old priesthood believed Sithis is always watching, waiting to destroy the world and return existence to the Void. The priests appeased Sithis in the hopes they would be spared from destruction. Their most infamous gifts to the Void were live blood sacrifices. When the Hist revealed Sithis's nature as an embodiment of creation, destruction and change rather than a mere destructive force, Sithis's priests dug their heels in instead of accepting the Hist's words. The high priestess of one of the Teeth of Sithis, Xulneihavu Shuxaltsei, became a vampire and went so far as to tempt Sithis into destroying the world.
After Dusk fell, the old priesthood was eventually succeeded by a loose coalition of Sithis preachers known collectively as the Clutch of Nisswo. The Clutch still revered Sithis, but viewed him as a force of change rather than a purely destructive force, just as the Hist revealed before Duskfall. Unlike their predecessors, the Clutch of Nisswo recognizes that Sithis is a creator as well as a destroyer. Sithis is Nothing, which gives way to Something. Everything has an end, and change is inevitable; people die, houses are taken by storm and swamp rot, societies rise and fall. Nothing is permanent. Modern Argonians are more conscientious of this cycle of change that Sithis embodies, and seek to overcome what is known as "shunatei"—feelings of regret and loss caused by that which has come to pass. An example of a change brought about by this shift in perception of Sithis is how Argonians tend to build homes with mud or reeds, which are easily replaceable. The Argonians recognize that their structures will be destroyed in time, no matter what they do to try to stop it. Instead of dwelling on the loss of a hut destroyed by a storm, they rebuild it.
Argonian society also honors Shadowscale, an order of assassins dedicated to serving Black Marsh. Traditionally, Argonians born under the sign of The Shadow would be given to the Dark Brotherhood to be trained as one. Shadowscales are honored as ku-vastei, those who bring about the needed change. They are respected as instruments of Sithis's will. The nisswo view the Shadowscales' training by the Dark Brotherhood as a necessary evil, but urge the Shadowscales to turn away from the Brotherhood's view of Sithis when their training is complete. Indeed, many do leave the Dark Brotherhood in order to serve as arbiters and peacekeepers within Black Marsh. Shadowscales declined from prominence along with the Dark Brotherhood itself. Following the closure of the training ground in Archon and the death of the last known living Shadowscale in 4E 201, the fate of this organization has been left unknown.
Shrine of Sithis in Deepscorn Hollow
- Fire and Darkness by Ynir Gorming — The history of the Morag Tong assassin guild
- Greywyn's Journal by Greywyn — The history of the Crimson Scars
- The Monomyth — A theological book containing the common creation myths
- The Night Mother's Truth by Gaston Bellefort — A thesis on the Dark Brotherhood and its spiritual leader
- Sithis — Text detailing an apparent connection between Sithis and Lorkhan
- Lies of the Dread-Father by Nisswo Xeewulm — A poem regarding Sithis from the Clutch of Nisswo
- Speakers of Nothing by Nisswo Xeewulm — A poem regarding Sithis from the Clutch of Nisswo
- The Monomyth
- The Aspect of Sithis in the Elder Scrolls Online questline, Pull the Last Fang
- Spirit of the Daedra
- The Night Mother's Truth — Gaston Bellefort
- The Annotated Anuad
- Words of Clan Mother Ahnissi — Clan Mother Ahnissi
- Children of the Root — Solis Aduro
- the Light and the Dark — Irek Unterge
- Ardanir's dialogue in ESO
- Great Spirits of the Reach: Volume 3 — Vashu gra-Morga, Chief Daedrotheologist at the University of Gwylim
- Events of Oblivion
- A Kiss, Sweet Mother
- Events of Skyrim
- Events of Morrowind
- Fire and Darkness — Ynir Gorming
- Nisswo Xode's dialogue in ESO
- Xukas's dialogue in ESO
- Nisswo Uaxal's dialogue in ESO
- Talen-Jush's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
- Teinaava's dialogue in Oblivion
- Scales of Shadow — Nisswo Xeewulm
- Events of Online
- Sulahkeesh's dialogue in ESO