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Lore:Clever Folk

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Old Mjolen, a Clever Woman

Clever Folk,[1] also referred to as the Clever Men,[2] (also spelled Clever-Men,[UOL 1] and Clevermen)[UOL 2] and Clever Women,[2] are Nordic mages and practitioners of the old hedge magic,[3] and totemic Old Ways,[4][5][6] also known as clever craft,[7] clever art,[8] and clever magic.[9] Those terms were also, more rarely, used by Nords to refer to all Nordic practitioners of magic and magic itself in general, though they made a distinction between the rare Nords who followed the old ways and those who practiced magic sanctioned by factions such as the Mages Guild.[6] As of the Second Era, even though the term was considered archaic, it was still in use.[5] They were considered to be a kind of witches.[10]


Storm Atronach Bear, akin to the one conjured by Ysgramor's personal Clever Man
A Ternion high priest performs a healing ritual

Clever Craft is associated with the Nordic gods Shor,[11][12] and Jhunal.[UOL 3] According to the Nordic tales and traditions, Shor created the realm of Sovngarde with his clever magic in the ancient times, before he faded from their world.[11] Clever Craft was originally practiced in Atmora, and a number of Clever Men arrived in Tamriel with Ysgramor.[13][UOL 1] Clever Craft was used against the Snow Elves during the wars waged by Ysgramor following the Night of Tears. The Harbinger was known to ride a Storm Atronach shaped into the form of a bear conjured for him by his personal Clever Man.[13]

In the ancient times, the clever craft and its practitioners were respected.[7][UOL 2] Some clever men and women were known to became Draugrs.[8]

During the reign of Harald in the First Era, clever men and women were already an uncommon sight in Skyrim's army. They served as battlemages and were distinguished by their great steel staves bearing the dragon masthead that Harald claimed as his sigil. Since then, their presence in the Nordic military has diminished.[14] Scholars debated to what extent and how commonly the Nords employed magic in war. It was theorized that Clever Men and Women assumed advisory roles for rulers far more often than they were seen on the battlefield, but such situations were not unheard of.[2][UOL 2] As of around the Twenty-Third Century of the First Era,[15][16] the practice of clever craft was still so prevalent that entire communities, or clans of the Clever Folk, made their homes throughout Skyrim.[1]

The clever men and women were considered a "dying breed" by the Second Era. They were seen with both admiration and fear.[4] Some of them, such as Old Mjolen, were considered regional legends.[5] Ternion Monks were a monastic order dedicated to the following of the totemic Old Ways, active at that time.[17][18][19]

Although the Nords have forgotten their forefathers' respect for clever craft, it was still considered honorable in the Halls of Valor in the Sovngarde and by the god of trials, Tsun, as of the Fourth Era.[7]

Practices and DutiesEdit

Shor's Fox Mural
Nord priestess transforming into an owl, with the help of Clever Magic

Clever Men and Women are known to commune with spirits and understand the ways of ghosts.[12][20][21] Their rituals and spells involve bones and blood,[12] and revolve around primordial animal spirits.[4] They also practiced Alchemy,[22][23][24] and, on certain occasions, stole elixirs from Hagravens.[25] Foxroot is a rare herb used in clever magic.[26][27][28] They were adept at the art of Conjuration. They knew how to summon Atronachs and how to alter their shapes.[13] Practitioners of the clever craft were the experts of the arcane, and they used their knowledge and powers to aid and heal members of Nordic communities.[10] Clever magic can also be used to shapeshift into an animal form.[9]

The practice of divination was not uncommon among the Clever Men and Women. They were able to discover truths by studying melting snowflakes and mammoth teeth.[4] One of their divination rituals involved the bones of a wolf and an alive deathbell plant pulled up by its roots. With the usage of those ingredients and the invocation of the Mother Wolf they could locate the previous owners of various objects. They also practiced the magical craft of enchanting and could imbue items with a divination spell that inextricably linked them to their owners.[20][24] Followers of the Old Ways used ancient runes in enchanting. It was theorized that this practice was linked to veneration and search of the blessings of their animal gods.[29]

Some Clever Men and Women possessed a certain amount of knowledge related to Reachfolk witchcraft and magical practices and rituals,[4] and knew how to brew cleansing mixtures used to purify the Hagraven necromantic corruption of nature.[5][30]

Clever Women of Skyrim are keepers of an ancient ceremony of binding blood to the tides through the usage of the runes and turning one's skin into one that mirrors the sea's restless waters. They are the only group known to possess that knowledge and the secrets of the Runic Seabrume.[31]

Inhabitants of the settlement of the Kyne's Perch on the Kyne's Aegis island entrusted their town's Clever Woman with disposal of the dangerous relics. One of such items was an Amulet of Bats, formerly owned by Lord Falgravn.[32]

Practitioners of the clever craft are often distrustful of the Mages Guild, which they consider to be an institution of Elves. According to them, "they know nothing of the soul of the world" and attempt to measure and weigh magic. Unlike the mages of the Guild, Clever Men and Women put an emphasis on "feeling" magic rather than "knowing" it.[24] Despite their distrust, they were willing to cooperate and even teach the members of such organizations when it was necessary for the safety of the people.[33]

Known IndividualsEdit

"Clever Man" Wizard Hat
  • Old Mjolen — Clever Woman active during the Interregnum, who partook in the defeat of the Gray Host.[33][24]
  • Clever Woman Moritra — Clever Woman active during the Interregnum, knowledgeable about the animal spirits of Sovngarde.[34]
  • Yrsild — Priestess of Kyne and wielder of clever magic, known for her shapeshifting abilities, active during the Interregnum.[9]
  • Fantasticus the Clever Man — A popular fictional "clever man", known for his signature wizard hat.[35]
  • Alabar the Oddly-Colored[UOL 1] — A personal Clever Man of Ysgramor, known for his Storm Atronach conjuration feats.[13]
  • Ternion Monks — A monastic order dedicated to the worship of three animal totems known for their healing magic and ability to call forth aspects of the Three Old Gods.[17][18][19]
  • Ulfsild — Ancient priestess of Jhunal and pioneer of the Scribing.[1]


Jhunal's Owl Mural

See AlsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Our StoryUlfsild
  2. ^ a b c Ancestral Nord: Staves antiquity codex entry in ESO
  3. ^ Maxten's Research JournalMaxten Favrete
  4. ^ a b c d e Fennorian's dialogue in ESO
  5. ^ a b c d Koljir Loreseeker's dialogue in ESO
  6. ^ a b Lyris Titanborn's dialogue in ESO
  7. ^ a b c Tsun's dialogue in Skyrim
  8. ^ a b Crafting Motif 38: Draugr StyleNarsis Dren—Treasure Hunter
  9. ^ a b c Yrsild's dialogue in ESO
  10. ^ a b Lady Ninetha's dialogue in ESO
  11. ^ a b The Road to Sovngarde
  12. ^ a b c Havil's dialogue in ESO
  13. ^ a b c d e Storm Atronach Bear's description in ESO
  14. ^ Crafting Motif 87: Ancestral Nord StyleBjarnus Whitewhiskers
  15. ^ Loremaster's Archive - Scribing — Votary Nahila
  16. ^ Mages Guild Charter
  17. ^ a b High Priest Esling's dialogue in ESO
  18. ^ a b The Ternion MonksElgad the Scribe
  19. ^ a b Events of Eternal Slumber in ESO
  20. ^ a b Events of Dark Clouds Over Solitude in ESO
  21. ^ Events of Long Journey Home in ESO
  22. ^ Svana's dialogue in ESO
  23. ^ Events of The Gray Host in ESO
  24. ^ a b c d Old Mjolen's dialogue in ESO
  25. ^ Aerolf's dialogue in ESO
  26. ^ Foxroot item description in ESO: Gold Road
  27. ^ Safeguards of the GryphonThe Gryphon
  28. ^ The Crow's dialogue during The Wing of the Gryphon in ESO: Gold Road
  29. ^ Rune-carved Steering Oar antiquity codex entry in ESO
  30. ^ Events of Mother of Shadows in ESO
  31. ^ Runic Seabrume description in ESO
  32. ^ Thane Ogvar's dialogue in ESO
  33. ^ a b Events of Daughter of the Wolf in ESO
  34. ^ Sovngarde Clawthane Wolf, Silver Nimbus Wolf, Lambent Shadowmane Courser, Auric Sabre Cat Duskstalker, Sovngarde Valorfang Sabre Cat, Valiant Sovngarde Charger, Sovngarde Stoutheart Bear, Valorous Sovngarde Guar Strider, Resplendent Sovngarde Camel, Sovngarde Bear Cub, Sovngarde Pony, Sovngarde Wolf Pup, Sovngarde Pony Guar, and Sovngarde Sabre Cat Cub mount and pet descriptions in ESO
  35. ^ "Clever Man" Wizard Hat item description in ESO

Note: The following references are considered to be unofficial sources. They are included to round off this article and may not be authoritative or conclusive.