"Only our order is able to read the Elder Scrolls. All that is known of them comes from our augurs, whose readings are rewarded with flashes of insight into the scrolls' prophecies. Each reading exacts a price, eventually rendering the augur blind."
Crassius Viria[src]

The Order of the Ancestor Moth,[3] also known as the Cult of the Ancestor Moth,[2][4] or the Cult of the Ancestor-Moth,[2] is a cult located within Cyrodiil. They are tasked with reading the Elder Scrolls.[1]


  • Initiates/Novitiates

New members of the Cult of the Ancestor Moth.[4][5] These are the members which take care of the Blind Moth Priests at the Monastery of the Ancestor Moths.[3] They are also trained for the reading of the Elder Scrolls.[4]

  • Scroll Drudges

Scroll Drudges are initiates tasked with retrieving Elder Scrolls from the library for Librarians.[6]

  • Adepts

Adepts are those who have been gifted with the ability to read the Elder Scrolls.[3]

  • Librarians

Librarians are the Moth Priests in charge of the library housing the Elder Scrolls.[6]

  • Abbots

Leaders of monasteries of the Ancestor Moth.[5]

  • Augurs

Augurs are Moth Priests who are able to attract the Ancestor Moths.[7][8]

Traditions and beliefsEdit


An Ancestor Moth.

The Order of the Ancestor Moth believes that the Ancestor Moths are manifested by the spirits of their ancestors.[3][8] As such, the Priests nurture and celebrate them. The Cult believes every moth carries the "fjyron" of a spirit, which is loosely translated to the "will to peace". This "fjyron" can be sung into the silk produced by the ancestor moths, which can then be spun into clothing. Given the genealogy of the ancestor is correct, when the silk is spun into cloth and then embroidered, powerful clothing could be made.[3] It is said that when a person has died on Nirn, the Monks believe a kind of dissipation begins, and the Ancestor Moths learn the song of a soul's fjyrons, which in turn are shepherded by the monks and protected for generations. The reason why this fjyron is sung into silk is because it must retain a connection to the fabric of creation. Through this link, alongside patient care, guidance from beyond the present, past, and the known world is received, where time is irrelevant. As such, the moths neither capture nor devour the souls of the ancestors, instead repeating what they filtered from the dead.[5]

The Order has the sacred duty to study the Elder Scrolls, the knowledge of which they use to aid the Emperor. On occassions priests are sent out to collect more Scrolls for their library in the White-Gold Tower, where the Moth Priests occupy the Middle Floors.[1] Adepts to the Order are gifted with prescient powers, as the wisdom of the ancestors can show the future while in the present. As a result of this, the Order of the Ancestor Moth is given the sole privilege to interpet the Elder Scrolls, artifacts which exceed both Aedra and Daedra. Reading of an Elder Scroll comes at a price, however. Every reading of an Elder Scroll is more profound than the last, and every reading leaves the priest blind for longer periods of time than before. The last Elder Scroll a Moth Priest reads is the Scroll which leaves him permanently blinded. During the last reading, the priest achieves a nearly sublime understanding of the contents of the Scroll. After being blinded, the Moth Priest loses his ability to read a new Elder Scroll.[3]

Those who have become blinded are brought to the Temple of the Ancestor Moths, which is located within the Jerall Mountains of Cyrodiil. The monastery is dedicated to serving these members of the order, which are considered noble. At the monastery, the blinded priests live out their lives among the Ancestor Moths which they so loved. Underneath the Monastery, the priests are often found, as these conditions are well suited to the moths. While the priests are blinded, they still raise and nurture the fragile moths, singing to them constantly. They still harvest the silk and spin it into bolts of cloth. This cloth they then also weave, embroidering it with the genealogies and histories of the moth which spun the silk.[3]

As the blind monks tend the ancestor moths, so do the monks of the monastery tend to the blind monks, providing them with food, water, tools, furniture, secrecy, anonymity, and purveryors to sell the fruit of their labors.[3] The novitates of the Cult also provided protection. Once upon a time, a monk known as Gudrun came to the monastery, being blinded of visions of what was to come she brought new teachings. Her visions had provided her with the foresight that the monks needed to defend themselves. Since then, the priests train and practice her teachings constantly, which would be known as the way of the peaceful fist.[9]

The Elder ScrollsEdit

The Monks keep the Elder Scrolls in the Imperial Library within the Imperial Palace. Here, the scrolls were sorted based on a variety of categories, such as scrolls related to specific prophesies, or scrolls related to particular periods of history. Attempting to categorize the Scrolls, however, fails. As whenever they are attempted to be categorized, areas would overlap or contradict one another. Different Monks are even said to have claimed the same scroll to be located in a different section of the tower. When one attempts to count the Elder Scrolls, they are often tricked as well, as the Scrolls do not exist in countable form. Whenever a specific number of Scrolls is counted, this number changes when they are counted again,[10] though a contradicting account by Moth Priestess Terran Arminus states that the notion of the Elder Scrolls moving on their own is false, having personally served as a Scroll Drudge.[6]

There are four groups of effects of the Elder Scrolls, each belonging to different individuals.[4] The first group, known as the Naifs, cannot learn a prophecy or gather knowledge from the Scrolls, when they look at the scroll, it is awash in odd lettering and symbols. The second group, known as the Unguarded Intellects, do learn from the Elder Scrolls. They possess knowledge to actually read what is inscribed in the Scroll. However, they have not developed adequate discipline to prevent the mind-shattering effect of reading the Scroll. When these people read an Elder Scroll, they are permanently blinded. This blindness is not without a reward, however, as a fragment of the hidden knowledge is achieved.

The final two groups are the Mediated Understanding and the Illuminated Understanding, both of which have only been achieved by the Cult of the Ancestor Moth, as only the Cult has found the discipline required to protect one's mind when reading the scrolls. Novitiates of the Cult must undergo rigorous mental cultivation, often spending a decade or more at their monastery before being permitted to read their first Elder Scrolls.[4] During this time, it is not uncommon for the initiates to suffer from nightmares, even more so as they learn more of the Elder Scrolls and the Ancestors that grant the Cult the wisdom to approach their infinite mysteries.[5] The monks claim this time of cultivation is for the initiates' own protection, as they must have witnessed a number of Unguarded Intellects among their more eager ranks. With the proper training, these cultivated initiates still achieve blindness, though at a far lesser magnitude compared to the Unguarded Intellects. Their vision is fogged slightly, but they retain shape, color, and enough acuity to continue reading normal texts. The information provided by the scroll is also somewhat tempered, and the initiates require both meditation and reflection to fully understand and appreciate what they saw.[4] Monks have often attempted to translate the runes they find on the Elder Scroll after a reading, only to conclude what they wrote down is gibberish, as the messages of the scroll are only written on one's spirit and soul.[6]

The Monks of the Ancestor Moth achieve the Illuminated Understanding. Through the continued readings of the Elder Scrolls, these monks become gradually more and more blind, but also receive greater and more detailed knowledge from their readings. Spending their days thinking about their visions, they also receive a stronger mental fortitude.[4] As every Priest slowly loses their vision, the text in the Elder Scrolls gradually takes on characters of the language which is most familiar to the reader, making them more legible.[6] Every monk also has a day of Penultimate Reading, when only knowledge an Elder Scroll provides is that the monk's next reading shall also be his last. When this Penultimate Reading comes is unknowable, as each monk encounters theirs at a different time, though attempts have been made to discover its origins, sufficient evidence lacks.[4]

Before the Ultimate Reading, the monks often withdraw to seclusion to reflect upon a lifetime of revelations and dedicate their minds for revealing the last. Following this Ultimate Reading, the monk is permanently blinded. The new blinded monk retains his understanding over a lifetime, and is often able to describe what has been revealed to him in great detail.[4] The Monks also acknowledge that every prophecy recorded within the Elder Scroll may or may not come to pass. No prophecies found within the Scrolls are stuck in the Scroll until they have actually come to pass.[6]

Ritual of the Ancestor MothEdit


An Ancestor Glade located within Skyrim.

The Ritual of the Ancestor Moth is a ritual performed within Ancestor Glades found across Tamriel, one of which is located within Skyrim.[11] At these glades, Canticle Trees are located. The bark of the trees must be carefully removed using a Draw Knife, a ritual every Moth Priest is taught, but few get the chance to perform.[11] Through this ritual, one can attract Ancestor Moths to themselves. These Ancestor Moths have a connection with ancient magic, which allow Moth Priests to decipher the Scrolls.[11][12]

Drawknife 03

A Draw Knife.

The higher ranking monks of the Cult have the ability to forego the ritual necessary to enchant the ancestor silk, and prefer to instead wear the moths around the neck and face. Through finely grounding the bark of the Canticle tree, these monks were able to apply the bark-dust to their bodies. By doing this, and sub-vocalization of certain mantras, ancestor moths would be attracted to the monks. The mantras had to be repeated constantly in order to maintain the skin contact with the moths, an effort the monks had to endure for the sake of cosmic balance. When a monk interrupts these mantras, such as in conversation, the moths burst from his body in a remarkable fashion every time he speaks, only to return to his skin when he resums the, inaudible, chant. Within the Imperial City, moth priests could often be seen walking around surrounded by a cloud of ancestor moths.[2]


During the time of the Cyro-Nordics, the people of Cyrodiil had exported ancestor-silks to the rest of Tamriel, which were silks woven from the native gypsy moth known as the Ancestor Moth. When the Cult of the Ancestor Moth came into existence, ancestor and moth became one and the same. In a special, ritualistic, gathering of ancestor silk the singing and hymnal spirits of a person's forebears were caught. The resource is then used to create a variety of costumes or robes.[2]

The swishing of this ancestor silk during movement produced an ancestrol chorus which was contained within the material during the gathering. This quickly became a sacred custom among the early Nibenese, a custom which continued to exist for many years after. The Colovians considered the Cult of the Ancestor Moth bizarre, much like they did with the other Nibenese cults.[2]

Second EraEdit

Alliance WarEdit

During the Alliance War, each of the tree Alliances had sent out Generals and Legates demanding custody of the Elder Scrolls. The Moth Priests refused, stating the notion that possession of the Scrolls would provide any sort of benefit was absurd.[6] Following this, the Cult of the Ancestor Moth was raided of some of its Elder Scrolls by the Daggerfall Covenant, Ebonheart Pact, and First Aldmeri Dominion.[13] One of the Monks of the Cult studied the war after the Scrolls were stolen, and did notice a pattern between the victories of each of the Alliances and the Scrolls in their possession. This Monk, Brother Euclidius, theorized that the soldiers in an army which possessed an Elder Scroll are open, on an unconscious level, to a collective absorption of the prophecies in the Scrolls. Because of this, the Monk argues that as far as the goal of the soldiers' all align toward victory over their enemies, they also collectively make choices which allign with the prophecies said in the Scrolls. An army with a Scroll is therefore somewhat more likely to make decisions that coincide with the probability of events, leading to victories. Though these tests were based on a rather small scale, leaving room for doubt.[6] Elaborate Temples were created to house the Elder Scrolls. These temples housed the Elder Scroll of Chim, Ghartok, Alma Ruma, Mnem, Ni-Mohk, and the Alatadoon.[14] One priest pointed out that, ironically, one of the Scrolls might show how the War would come to an end, but that with the scrolls stolen, no such reading could be done by an Augur of the Ancestor Moths. The priest also pointed out how the power of the Scrolls had blinded the Alliances of the knowledge they held.[15]

Entering the Temple of the Ancestor Moths, forces from each of the three alliances cut down any priests who attempted to defend the Scrolls, and took them with them back to the Alliances.[16] Each Alliance had managed to capture two Scrolls from the Cult's hiding places.[17][14] The Cult tried to retrieve the Scrolls by sending out emisarries,[17][16] but these were denied the Scrolls. Each of the protectors of the Alliances had their own opinion on returning the scroll. The Covenant acknowledged that the scrolls were needed for the war, and that handing them over would only result in the Pact or Dominion acquiring the Scrolls.[18] The Pact responded with disdain, believing the Priests could not expect them to hand over the Elder Scrolls they worked so hard to obtain. Ordering their guards to deny the emissary henceforth, and waiting for the Grand Warlord to permit a more severe beating whenever the priest showed up.[19] Only the protector of the Aldmeri Dominion was uneasy with denying the emissary the Scrolls, but acknowledged that the Dominion soldiers needed the boons that the Scrolls provided. The Protector revered the scrolls and honored the Moth Priests for their dedication and study, but still made temple guards escort the emissary away.[20]

The last Moth Priest within the Imperial City, Sister Terran Arminus, had also left an Elder Scroll within the White-Gold Tower. As such, when Clivia Tharn attempted to reclaim the Tower, the Moth Priest offered her aid. When the Vestige further came to support the assault, the attack on the Tower took place. While the Tower was reclaimed, it would become clear that Clivia Tharn had not been present, and instead been replaced by a Daedric minion of Molag Bal.[21] This had been indirectly prophesied within the Elder Scroll, which had said that the Empress Regent would be a shadow of herself, and turn into an enemy to her own people. What was strange about this particular scroll was that, no matter how often it was read the outcome always remained the same, with a blank ending.[22]

Third EraEdit

The Ultimate Heist Art

A Priest of the Ancestor Moth provides an Elder Scroll to who he believes to be Celia Camoran.

During the late-Third Era, the Cult of the Ancestor Moth would be used by the Thieves Guild within Cyrodiil. The Gray Fox desired Savilla's Stone from the catacombs of the Temple of the Ancestor Moth,[23] which was said to be an artifact with magical powers.[24] The Moth Priest had managed to keep the stone secret from the Emperor, who would have had it destroyed or kept locked in the Palace. This did not prevent the theft of the stone, however, which would be used by the Gray Fox for its ability to see past the defenses of the White-Gold Tower.[23]

One of the things the Stone revealed to the Gray Fox was a need for a special arrow, known as the Arrow of Extrication, which was in the possession of Fathis Aren, the court wizard of Bravil.[25] Only the arrowhead would be obtained, however, as this was the only part in possession of Fathis Aren.[26]

While the arrowhead was being repaired, the Gray Fox used the stone once more, and discovered he needed the Boots of Springheel Jak in order to go through with his plans. After acquiring the boots, the Gray Fox needed to spend a little more time with Savilla's Stone before he would be ready to finish planning the raid.[27]

The final heist would be the theft of an Elder Scroll from the Imperial Library, a raid which the Gray Fox had been working on for eleven years. Through his final usage of Savilla's Stone, the Gray Fox discovered a way around the locked entrance to the Elder Scrolls, through the sewers of the Imperial City.[28] With the power of the Elder Scroll, the Gray Fox was able to alter history, and named the thief of Gray Cowl of Nocturnal as Emer Dareloth.[29] As such, the true identity of the Gray Fox was also revealed once more, Corvus Umbranox, who would take up his position as Count once more after awarding the Gray Cowl to the thief who helped him in the final heist.[30]

Fourth EraEdit

During 4E 175, the Elder Scrolls disappeared from the White-Gold Tower, leaving the Imperial Library empty.[1] Later, in 4E 201, Harkon, Lord of the Volkihar Clan, would attempt to bring about the prophecy of the Tyranny of the Sun.[31]

Lord Harkon's daughter, Serana, had been locked away with an Elder Scroll which Lord Harkon sought to obtain in order to bring about the prophecy.[32] After having been given the Scroll, he would spread the word of an Elder Scroll having been found to catch the attention of a Moth Priest.[33] Dexion Evicus would be sent to Skyrim with an Imperial Legion escort to find the Scroll.[34] Along the way, he was ambushed by a unit of vampires, who took him to Forebears' Holdout.[35][36] Here, he was turned into a thrall to the Vampire Malkus,[37] until being killed by Dawnguard forces.[35]

After being taken from Forebears' Hideout, Dexion would read the Elder Scroll to the faction of his liberator, providing them with the knowledge about the Tyranny of the Sun.[35] However, not the entire prophecy could be known, as the Moth Priest needed two other Elder Scrolls to add to the information. To find these Scrolls, the Last Dragonborn had to go around Skyrim to retrieve them.[38] Upon returning with the Elder Scroll of Dragon and the Elder Scroll of Blood however, Dexion would have been permanently blinded.[12] In order to read the Elder Scrolls, Dexion taught the Dragonborn the ritual revolving around the Canticle Tree and the Ancestor Moths.[11] With this knowledge, the Dragonborn was able to read the Elder Scrolls in Ancestor Glade,[39] after which the Dragonborn would obtain Auriel's Bow,[40] and defeat Harkon.[41] It is unknown if the Dragonborn made the prophecy of the Tyranny of the Sun come true or not.

Known membersEdit




  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Dialogue with Dexion Evicus during "Prophet (Dawnguard)"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Pocket Guide to the Empire, First Edition: Cyrodiil
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 The Order of the Ancestor Moth
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Effects of the Elder Scrolls
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Loremaster's Archive: The Interpreted Soul
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 Loremaster's Archive: Questions for the Moth Sister
  7. Dialogue with Adelais Tanier
  8. 8.0 8.1 Dialogue with Crassius Viria
  9. Pension of the Ancestor Moth
  10. An Accounting of the Elder Scrolls
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Dialogue with Dexion Evicus during "Seeking Disclosure
  12. 12.0 12.1 Events of "Seeking Disclosure"
  13. Dialogue with Bellona Novatian
  14. 14.0 14.1 Events of The Elder Scrolls Online
  15. Dialogue with Ramad
  16. 16.0 16.1 A Plea for the Elder Scrolls
  17. 17.0 17.1 Dialogue with Sandana Axius
  18. Letter to Grand Warlord Dortene
  19. Letter to Grand Warlord Zimmeron
  20. Letter to Grand Warlord Sorcalin
  21. Events of "Planemeld Obverse"
  22. Dialogue with Sister Terran Arminus
  23. 23.0 23.1 Dialogue with Gray Fox during "Turning a Blind Eye"
  24. Dialogue with Brother Holger
  25. Dialogue with the Gray Fox during "Arrow of Extrication"
  26. Events of "Arrow of Extrication"
  27. Dialogue with the Gray Fox during "Boots of Springheel Jak"
  28. Dialogue with the Gray Fox during "The Ultimate Heist"
  29. Conversation between the Gray Fox and Countess Millona Umbranox
  30. Events of "The Ultimate Heist"
  31. Events of The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard
  32. Events of "Awakening"
  33. Speech of Harkon during "Prophet (Vampire)"
  34. Dialogue with Imperial Soldiers at Dragon Bridge during "Prophet (Dawnguard)" and "Prophet (Vampire)"
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 Events of "Prophet (Dawnguard)" and "Prophet (Vampire)"
  36. Vampire's Note
  37. Events of "Prophet (Dawnguard)"
  38. Events of "Scroll Scouting"
  39. Events of "Unseen Visions"
  40. Events of "Touching the Sky"
  41. Events of "Kindred Judgment"
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