|Up||Great Spirits of the Reach|
Most residents of Tamriel profess some variety of faith. In a world beset by danger—both conventional and cosmic—rejecting deities out of hand is a failing proposition. Unfortunately, this shared desire for religious identity rarely brings people together. Instead, it commonly drives us apart. Many of the fault-lines are predictable. Racial politics, historical enmities, and claims of divine sanction routinely undercut any attempt at a good faith dialogue. But one central rift underpins all of it: the perceived supremacy of the Aedra.
An old Orcish proverb reads, "conquerors name the wars" — an apt description of how those in power shape our understanding of history. But this proverb is doubly true when it comes to matters of faith. Conquerors do more than name wars. They shape beliefs. If we accept the premise that those who hold the White-Gold Tower hold Tamriel in some fundamental sense, the primacy of Aedra makes perfect sense. Not because they are in fact superior, but because those in a position of supremacy insist that they are.
With a few notable exceptions, the story of Cyrodiil—and thus Tamriel writ large—has been shaped by those professing Aedric faiths. It began with the Aldmer and passed to the Ayleids. And while the Wild Elves flirted with Daedra-worship for a time, they paid a high price for it at the hands of the Alessians. From that point forward, the Aedra enjoyed special status in the realm of Tamrielic faith—a status that by definition diminished the standing of those races who cleaved to non-Aedric practice. Most of these races already suffered scorn and abuse at the hands of Men and Elves (Orcs, Argonians, and Khajiit), while others were regarded with cruel suspicion by their Elven kin (the Chimer, and later the Dunmer). All these people suffered—and still suffer—the privilege awarded to Aedra worshipers. But no race has suffered more abuse on the basis of their faith than the people of the Reach.
Despite being bullied, scorned, and repeatedly invaded by foreign aggressors, the Reachfolk have managed to retain a rich Daedra-worshipping culture that shows no signs of dilution or retreat. It is my sincere hope that this treatise will shed new light on this under-appreciated faith and inspire a greater respect for the proud and hardy people of the Reach.