The 神族 (singular: Aedroth)[UL 1] are one of the two groups of immortals which took part in the creation of 曼德斯. Their name is from the old 奥德莫ic tongue, and translates roughly into "our ancestors," referring to their role as the progenitors of 莫 and 人类. To the majority of cultures on Tamriel, the Aedra are revered as gods.
As Oblivion is the night sky on Tamriel, so the Aedra are considered by some to be the planets. The largest eight planets are considered by Imperial society to be the Divines, while the stars are the Magna Ge.
The origins of the Aedra are the subject of many, often conflicting, creation myths. This account will endeavor to create a single narrative while highlighting where such variances occur.
The et'ada were formed either through the interactions of two primal beings, Anu and Padomay, or their conflict. These were distinct types of being either from their creation, or at the moment of the creation of Mundus. The Aedra were those spirits who were persuaded or tricked by Lorkhan into sacrificing part of themselves to create the world. They are distinct from the Daedra, who created worlds within themselves, and from the Magna Ge, Magnus and his followers, who withdrew from the creation of the world before it was complete. The flight of these Aedra created the sun and the stars.
After the creation of Mundus, some Aedra returned to Aetherius, while others were unable to do so either died, became the Earthbones, laws of nature, or bred with each other to sustain themselves. In this way the Aedra became the antecedents of all races on Nirn. However, alternative accounts exist which claim that the progenitors of mortal races are not descended from the Aedra, but instead come from another world or worlds altogether.
In a similar way to Daedra, the Aedra have certain spheres. The precise names of the Aedra that oversee each sphere may vary depending on the cultural pantheon in question, although there are several commonalities between various cultures' pantheons. However, the only constants are the dragon god of time, most commonly called Akatosh, and the missing god, most commonly called Lorkhan.
There are accounts claiming that there were two groups of Aedra on Mundus, following the creation of Mundus. Some, led by Auriel, fought against Lorkhan and his followers, eventually becoming the Old Ehlnofey and from them the Aldmer. Others joined with Lorkhan, and became men.
Unlike the Daedra, the Aedra are bound to Mundus, and can possibly be killed, as may have happened to Lorkhan after the meeting at the Adamantine Tower. However, another account suggests that Lorkhan was not killed, but instead condemned to exile and his heart torn out.
The pantheon of gods worshiped by the various races is derived almost exclusively from the Aedra. (A notable exception are the Dunmer, who generally reject the gods of both men and other mer, and worship either Daedra or the Tribunal.) Each race has chosen to deify a different set of Aedra, often with their own beliefs on creation.
Since the Alessian Empire, the Divines has been the most prominent set of Aedra worshiped by men and mer. The pantheon was created by Alessia upon creation of the empire, as a means to unify the allies who helped her win Cyrodiil and the merish cultural practices of the slaves she liberated. At the time, there were Eight Divines, but at the end of the Second Era, the Emperor Tiber Septim transcended mortality to become Talos, the Ninth Divine. The majority of the original Eight Divines can be described as Aedra, as for the most part they were present.
Most of the gods in this pantheon are shared between the Imperials and Nords, since Alessia chose to adopt most of her Nordic allies' gods after overthrowing the Ayleid slavers. Many of these gods are worshipped by the Bretons and Bosmer as well.
Merish religion is more focused towards their ancestors than mannish pantheons, evidenced by the very use of the term Aedra to describe them. These Aldmeri ancestor-heroes include Trinimac, Syrabane, Phynaster and Auri-El, the head of the pantheon.
The Altmer's pantheon includes a number of Aedra that are no longer considered "part of" Nirn. This includes Magnus, whose withdrawal from Nirn created magic, and Jode and Jone, whose death created the twin moons. The Altmer also worship those Aedra who withdrew from creation in time to maintain their divinity, and who cursed Lorkhan as a trickster. Chief among these is Trinimac, though both Altmer and Chimer legend state that Trinimac was transformed into the Daedra Malacath.
The Khajiit religion is similar to that of the Altmer, though many of the names are different. Various Daedra, particularly Azura, play a key role in the Khajiiti creation story, and thus are worshipped as gods. The Khajiiti also revere the moons above all other deities, in forms similar to that of the ancient Aldmer.