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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. 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 .[2] 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]

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,[3] or to Nature Spirits who are said to always return to a core nature,[4] mortals can change, in their nature, their ways, their names,[5] 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.[3] 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,[6][7][8][9][10] a Daedra's form is defined by their Nymic or "incantatory true name" in it's one changeless form.[5]

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.[11]

The mortal soul contains certain facets, the Shadow is said to be the the darkness which innately belongs to mortal souls, it being damaged while attached to the rest of the soul is equivalent to the soul being damaged and can lead to death.[12] In at least one case, a mortal's essence was separated into their aspects of Magicka, Health and Stamina through magic.[13]Though souls can be sundered through the use of powerful magic, it is said the spirit can eventually recoalesce, given enough time,[14]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.[15] 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.[15]

Souls are described as being linked to the origin of certain phenomena. When a mortal dies their memories become Water,[16] with rivers of memory even connecting Nirn to realms beyond.[17] 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.[18]

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.[19] 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.[20]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.[15][21]

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.[2] 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.[22][23][11]

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.[24]


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

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[25]). When a Daedra is destroyed, either in Mundus or in Oblivion, its Vestige is banished to the Void,[26][25] 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.[27]

It is possible to trap the animus of a Daedra by magically infusing it into an item.[28] It is not known what happens to a Daedra killed in Aetherius,[29] though it has been suggested that this may be the one way to permanently kill a Daedra.[30]

Soul Shriven[edit]

Soul Shriven are mortals who have had their souls taken by Molag Bal. Cultists devoted to him ritually sacrifice victims,[31] who are pulled into Coldharbour,[32] 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.[31] 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.[32] 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.[33]

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.[34]

Dragon Souls[edit]

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.[35] 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.[35] Dov (Dragons and Dragonborn) can absorb the souls of fellow dov.[36] 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.[37][38]


  • Lefthanded Elves protected their abdomens with a shield-girdle because they believed it was the "throne of the soul".[39]

See Also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Chaotic Creatia: The Azure PlasmDoctor Rhythandius
  2. ^ a b Souls, Black and White
  3. ^ a b Loremaster's Archive - Tamriel's DungeonsDhulef
  4. ^ Druid Laurel's dialogue during The Stonelore Defense in ESO
  5. ^ a b On the Nature of NymicsDivayth Fyr
  6. ^ Sorcerer Rectavius in ESO
  7. ^ Vorm in ESO
  8. ^ Orryn the Black in ESO
  9. ^ Thallik Wormfather in ESO
  10. ^ Strange Sapling in ESO
  11. ^ a b Uldazaan the Heresy-Keeper's dialogue in ESO
  12. ^ The Shadowcutter BladePriestess Endunore
  13. ^ Galerion's Health dialogue in ESO
  14. ^ Sombren's dialogue in ESO
  15. ^ a b c Vastarie's dialogue in ESO
  16. ^ Herald Kixathi's dialogue in ESO
  17. ^ Vistha-Li's dialogue in ESO
  18. ^ The Great Stain
  19. ^ Haj Uxith loading screen in ESO
  20. ^ Tree-Minder Deyapa's dialogue in The Tree-Minder's Fate
  21. ^ Loremaster's Archive - Mehrunes Dagon & Daedra in the Second EraLyranth
  22. ^ On Tracts PerilousCipher Sethali
  23. ^ Cipher Plautis's dialogue in ESO
  24. ^ Girnalin's dialogue in ESO
  25. ^ a b Dylora's dialogue in Shivering Isles
  26. ^ The Book of Daedra
  27. ^ Daedra Dossier: The TitansDenogorath the Dread Archivist, Paragraph 10
  28. ^ Lyranth's dialogue in Summary Execution
  29. ^ Journey to Aetherius quest
  30. ^ "Death" of Morphotypical EntitiesDoctor Rhythandius
  31. ^ a b How Long Before the Echoes Fade?
  32. ^ a b Lyris Titanborn's dialogue during Soul Shriven in Coldharbour in ESO
  33. ^ Slave's Diary
  34. ^ Events of Soul Shriven in Coldharbour in ESO: the Vestige absorbs a skyshard at the Prophet's behest
  35. ^ a b Loremaster's Archive - Dragons in the Second EraCamilla Calsivius
  36. ^ Arngeir's dialogue in Skyrim
  37. ^ Balgruuf the Greater's dialogue in Skyrim
  38. ^ Paarthurnax's dialogue in Skyrim
  39. ^ Lefthander's Aegis Belt description