An illustration of Indoril Nerevar, whose return members of the Nerevarine Cult await.

The Nerevarine Cult is an outlawed[1] Ashlander cult whose members believe that Nerevar will be reborn to cast down the Temple and drive the outlanders, namely the Imperials, out of Morrowind.[2] The cult has not much influence with most Ashlander tribes. It is most strongly connected to Urshilaku Ashlanders.[3] Their relations to other important factions in Morrowind are strained, the Dissident Priests being the only ones not disclaiming the cult's beliefs altogether. The cult plays an important part in the main questline of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.

Background[edit | edit source]

The Nerevarine Cult must be seen in the context of the Ashlander's ancestor cult practices: Before the department of the Dunmer people into Ashlander and settled Dunmer, the ancestor cults were the traditional cults of the Dunmer's forefathers, the Chimer. Now, these practices live only within the Ashlander customs.[1][3]

In this context, the Nerevarine cult can be understood as an ancestor cult worshipping the great khan and warleader of the House People, Nerevar. Nerevar himself, although not born as an Ashlander, honored the ancestor cult practices and the traditions and laws of the tribes.[4]

The events surrounding the Battle of Red Mountain and its aftermath, leading to the disappearance of the Dwemer, the transformation of Almalexia, Sotha Sil and Vivec into gods and that of the Chimer into Dunmer, can be seen as the historical background of the Nerevarine cult.[5][6] Different traditions and interpretations of these events form the foundation both of the Temple and the Nerevarine cult beliefs. Most importantly, the Ashlander accuse the three gods of the Tribunal of murdering Nerevar and ignoring Nerevar's promises to the Ashlanders.

For the version of the events as passed on by the Ashlanders, see Nerevar at Red Mountain.
For the version of the events as told by the Tribunal Temple god Vivec, see The Battle of Red Mountain.
For a comparison of the two versions, see Progress of Truth.

Beliefs[edit | edit source]

Nerevarine cultists believe that the incarnated Nerevar, the Nerevarine, will return to honor ancient promises to the Ashlanders.[7] The foundation of this belief can be seen in the written records about the Daedric Prince Azura cursing the ALMSIVI directly upon their transformation into gods, and also her foretelling the return of Nerevar through her own powers.[6][5] The foretellings express themselves in the Nerevarine prophecies, that are passed on by the Ashlander tribes. The wording of Sharn gra-Muzgob in his Nerevarine cult notes suggest that hese prophecies derive from dreams or vision of Ashlander wise women.[7] The importance the cult lies on these prophecies and the interpretation of dreams by seers show that it can be considered as a mystical cult.[1]

In the context of the Battle of Red Mountain, great general Nerevar convinced the Ashlander tribes to join the House people in the field, promising them to honor the ways of the Spirits and rights of the Land in return.[1] According to the Ashlander's tradition, the Tribunal gods murdered Nerevar in the course of the events and neglected Nerevar's promises to the tribes.[1] The Nerevarine cult believes that Nerevar will return and restore the glories of ancient Resdayn and reestablish the traditions of the prophet Veloth.[7] They believe that he will cast down the false gods of the Tribunal. He will also make good his promises to the tribes, honoring the Spirits and driving the outsiders from the land, all with the help of his magic ring, Moon-and-Star.[1][7][3]

Spread of the Nerevarine cult[edit | edit source]

The Urshilaku Camp, center of the Nerevarine Cult.

As the Nerevarine cult is a secret cult, it is hard to judge how widespread it is among the Ashlander, or whether it may even have followers outside of the tribes.[7]

However, the return of the reincarnated Nerevar appeals to many Ashlanders. For them, it symbolizes a longed for and largely romanticized Golden Age of Nerevar's Peace, when the nomadic tribes enjoyed equality with the settled Dunmer, and before the Dunmer people had for the most part abandoned traditional ancestor worship for the autocratic theocracy of the Tribunal Temple.[1] But although this is true for most Ashlander people, the majority doesn't seem to believe in the Nerevarine prophecies and don't follow the Nerevarine cult. Thus, the cult is of small consequence in the Ashlander culture.[3]

The cult has most influence with the Urshilaku tribe, a group residing in the forbidding regions of the northern Ashlands and West Gash.[3] Their Ashkhan Sul-Matuul is the Warrior-Protector of the Nerevarine cult, while their wise woman Nibani Maesa is their seer.[3][8]

Notable members[edit | edit source]

Relation to other factions[edit | edit source]

Empire[edit | edit source]

The Ashlanders generally tend to have a hostile attitude towards all outlanders,[3] which have come to Morrowind following the occupation by the Empire.[9] The Nerevarine cult anticipates a time, in which the Nerevarine will drive all the outlanders, including the Empire,[7] from the land. Thus, the cult sees the Empire and the emperor as their foes and is hostile to both.[1]

The Empire obviously can not accept the existence of a cult openly hostile to them. For this reason, they outlaw the cult, repress its practices, and threaten its members with death or imprisonment.[1][7] The Empire also grants the Ordinators a free hand when dealing with the Nerevarine cult.[1]

Tribunal Temple[edit | edit source]

The Ashlander in general and the members of the Nerevarine cult in particular have always seen the worship of living Dunmer as an abomination,[1] thus suspecting the Temple of heresy and accusing the Tribunal of being false gods.[3][7] The Nerevarine prophecies even foretell the downfall of the Temple upon the return of the true Nerevarine,[3][7][8] thus making clear that the Nerevarine cult is hostile to the Tribunal Temple.

This fact influences the Temple's attitude towards the Nerevarine cult: While generally rather intolerant,[10] they are inclined to tolerate Ashlander ancestral cult practices.[1] But the Nerevarine cult to them is not only a primitive superstition,[1] but due to their hostile attitude towards the Temple a possible threat. As a consequence, they punish Nerevarine claimants with the approval of the Empire with death or imprisonment.[1]

Despite this negative relations, the Temple honors Saint Nerevar, not least as a companion of the three Almsivi gods, Almalexia, Sotha Sil and Vivec.[7] What they reject, apart from the hostile attitude towards the Temple, obviously, is the cult's mysticism and prophecies, which they consider primitive superstition,[1] and the notion that the Incarnate Nerevar will walk the earth.[7]

Dissident Priests[edit | edit source]

Gilvas Barelo, leader of the Dissident Priests.

The Dissident Priests are a group that have separated themselves from the Temple, criticizing many of their practices and dogmata. One point where their opinion differs from that of the Temple is the handling of the Nerevarine cult: They reject the persecution of the Nerevarine and the Nerevarine cult, and condemn this persecution as being unjust and politically motivated. This does not mean that the Dissident Priests follow the Nerevarine cult themselves or believe in the Nerevarine prophecies. In fact, there is no consensus within the group about the genuineness of the prophecy. But they acknowledge mysticism, revelation and prophecy as part of the religious experience, and many amongst them have started to study the Ashlander's ancestors cults, in particular the rites of the Ashlander seers and wise women, the Nerevarine prophecies and other prophecies recorded in Temple archives.[11]

During the events of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, the support of the Dissident Priests for the notions of the Nerevarine Cult increases. As their leader, Gilvas Barelo states, the order's interest in the cult started as a matter of principle, a willingness to consider the validity of the mystical insights connected with it. However, while Dagoth Ur gets stronger, they see the Incarnate Saint Nerevar as the best hope for salvation.[12]

Main quest[edit | edit source]


Sources[edit | edit source]

Books[edit | edit source]

Characters[edit | edit source]

When the Nerevarine has reached a specific point in the questline, many citizen and Ashlander on Vvardenfell can give them some information about the Nerevarine cult. The following are characters with unique information about the cult:

Appearances[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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