elder mother


Sign of The Elder-Mother:

The Sylvan Gate

This is a sigil I created within my practice for the purpose of convoking and conducting the influence of the Elder Tree Mother.

The Elder Mother is an arboreal guardian figure in British, Germanic, and Scandinavian folklore, known by various names, such as the Danish Hyldemoer (“Elder Mother”) and the Lincolnshire names Old Lady or Old Girl. She is known as the protector of the Elder Trees, as well as the one who guards the door to the Otherworld—realm of the Faerie and/or the Dead. As such, she is associated with some of the darker mysteries and magics, especially in relation to the cycles of life, death and rebirth.

The Sylvan Gate, Sign of the Elder Mother, channels the primordial power of the Elder Tree Mother and ratifies it on Earth. I use this sigil when working with the genius of The Elders, for one purpose or another, but I also use it any time I see fit to work with the Elder Mother herself. As such, it is appropriate and useful when in it comes to any magic planted firmly in communion with the Otherworld, the Faerie, and/or the Dead. Self-enchantments for the second-sight, calling upon the Mighty Dead, and pacts with the Nefolion (Faeries, Spirits, etc.) are several examples of spellweaving that might benefit from the potency of the Elder Mother.


         Mara is considered the mother-goddess and goddess of love. Some consider her as a universal goddess. Her origins started in mythic times as a fertility goddess. In Skyrim, Mara is a handmaiden of Kyne. In the Empire, she is Mother-Goddess. She is sometimes associated with Nir of the “Anuad,” the female principle of the cosmos that gave birth to creation. Depending on the religion, she is either married to Akatosh, or Lorkhan, or the concubine of both. She appears in nearly every culture’s pantheon in Tamriel.

                                            tes aesthetics | the nine divines

Do you have five children, Mother?

I’ve heard that you do.

Five children? No, tonight I have four!

Four children, sweet and pure.

Four and no more!

Do you have four children, Mother?

I’ve heard that you do.

Four children? No, tonight I have three!

Three children abed late today.

Three and no more!

Do you have three children, Mother?

I’ve heard that you do.

Three children? No, tonight I have two!

Two children, quiet and shy.

Two and no more!

Do you have two children, Mother?

I’ve heard that you do.

Two children? No, tonight I have one!

One child, singing a song.

One and no more!

Do you have one child, Mother?

I’ve heard that you do.

One child? Please, I have none!

They’re with their father now

And live here no more.

–A Mother’s Nursery Rhyme


Late night talks with mom, am I right?

This was a little thing that absolutely got away from me.

Aerys was pretty young when she was basically dragged into The Dark Brotherhood and being someone who grew up without a family she definitely latched onto Astrid’s “family” and got waaaay too attached, so when Astrid basically told her she preferred when Aerys didn’t exist to her it fucked her up really, really badly.

For as long as I can remember myself, it has rained in Armenia for April 24th. This year isn’t an exception. 

Rest in Peace 1.5 million innocent men, women, kids, elders, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, friends, lovers. You did not deserve to die in anguish, and for your sacrifice you will be forever remembered. 

It’s the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian genocide. 

Why Oblivion’s Dark Brotherhood was way better than Skyrim’s

Oblivion’s Dark Brotherhood was arguably one of the most memorial parts of The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion. And as for Skyrim’s, well, I’m convinced that if you took out the pure awesome idea of killing the emperor, it suddenly falls very flat.

Note: I’ve been obsessed with these two games lately. On my latest assassin play-through of Oblivion, I downloaded Deepscorn Hollow, took the weapons of all my fallen comrades after purifying the Cheydinhal Sanctuary and placed them in spots of honour within my new home. Vicente’s claymore, whom I considered my mentor and closest friend after Lucien, was in the pedestal of my bedchamber. I would’ve put Lucien’s there, but I couldn’t find it after he was made into a meat hanging (thanks Mathieu, you fuck).

The Overall Organisation

I’m willing to accept the idea of Skyrim’s guild being weaker. In fact, I think it’s a great idea and even gives it more substance. But without the old ways, I’m honestly not sure why the Dark Brotherhood exists at all. I’m not only talking about the Black Sacrament going unheard, because the idea behind the Night Mother goes a little deeper than that.

Let’s look at Oblivion, and how Skyrim’s Dark Brotherhood failed to emulate it.

The old ways were a lot more than just a bunch of rules; the attitude that came with them is what bound an unlikely collection of psychopaths together into what they called a “family”. They’re the reason the assassins had such a fondness for each other.

Let me give you a quote from Lucien Lechance:

“Have you not heard of the Dark Brotherhood? Of the remorseless guild of paid assassins and homicidal cutthroats? Join us, and you’ll find the Dark Brotherhood to be all that, and so much more. We are, more than anything, a union of like-minded individuals.”

You’ll note that Lucien wants you to know that the Dark Brotherhood is a union. It’s kind of like a “we’re all in this together” kind of way. And it’s not just tough love, because the mythos of the Night Mother and the assassins being her children is the reason for this family-like bond. Even as you join the brotherhood for the first time in Oblivion, everyone (except Dar) welcomes you with open arms and overwhelming support, because they know that you are now their brother, someone who has come forward to adopt their strict ways of life. Like family, merely by being apart of the brotherhood, you are already deserving of respect and affection, unless you outright prove unworthy.

Now, this whole bond came from the old ways and the attitude it put into its subordinates. Without this way of life (which Astrid refers to as ‘outdated’) why exactly is everyone in Skyrim’s Dark Brotherhood apparently so close with one another? Why do they consider themselves a family if they’ve apparently abandoned this life-style and instead live as they see fit?

Take Nazir for example. He says “-the dark brotherhood saved me from myself.”

Saved you? How? They’re just a bunch of cutthroats with a truce against each other. There’s nothing binding these people together except for the fact that they’re all crazy and homicidal. You can describe them the same way you describe bandits. Why do you, and the rest of these people, apparently have an unbreakable bond, if you’ve abandoned the old way?

I get that Skyrim’s Dark Brotherhood is different, and has purposely abandoned the old ways, but without them it makes no sense that they would even have a reason to call each other a “family”, which they do anyway. It almost downplays how Oblivion’s Dark Brotherhood was so special. The game is saying that any bunch of jokers could become a family as long as they didn’t kill each other and lived together in some place.

The Characters

When Alduin scalds you for not meeting the standard set by the original heros, I feel the same way meeting Skyrim’s Assassins. Aside from Babette and Cicero, I don’t really like any of them. I’ll explain each character, next to the character I think they’re closest to in Oblivion.

By the way, I won’t cover Babette and Cicero, but I’ll quickly say this: Babette had some questionable moments herself, but I forgave them because she was colourful. And Cicero, well, it’s hard to dislike him after you read his journals, and see the way he went to hell and back because of his devotion to his duty. 


Astrid/Lucien Lechance

Now, I know Astrid was a traitor, which makes a lot of people dislike her, but I’m going to say that even before the quest Death Incarnate, or even before the quest The Cure for Madness, she’s still kind of awful.

Let me compare these two leaders by describing them without talking about their appearance, abilities or roles.

Lucien LeChance: Cold, calculating, intelligent, strong-willed, loyal, honest, sadistic.

Astrid: Proud, arrogant, paranoid, foolish, short-sighted.

In the simplest terms, Astrid was weak. But I’m not going to dwell on this any longer, because in her case, it was intentional, and this is more salt than criticism. 

Nazir/Vicente Valtieri

I like Nazir. But there’s an issue here.

The reason Vicinte’s role in the story was so genius relates back to what I said earlier, about the old ways being essential to the dark brotherhood’s identity as a family. Vicinte is your first quest-giver, and he tells you not to worry about him feeding on you, because the needs of the dark brotherhood are too great. His role is a great way to introduce to you the mentality behind the merry band of murderers.

The first time you met Nazir, well, he’s an asshole. I know he got better toward the end, but if truth be told, respecting someone after they kill the emperor isn’t exactly a big thing to ask.  

Now, Nazir did grow on me, I’ll admit, but the role of these two characters kind of represent my problem with the Skyrim Dark Brotherhood as a whole.

Festus Krex/M’raaj-Dar

Festus introduces himself as the kranky old uncle that everyone should avoid. I mean, isn’t it a contradiction to introduce yourself like this? It’s like going up to a random stranger on the street and telling them to not talk to you, because you hate talking to people you don’t know.

M’raaj-Dar downright ignored you the entire time, but you could still seamlessly talk to Festus about whatever you wanted. There wasn’t really any reason for him to be a grumpy outsider and it never fit into the story.

Festus grew on me about the same time that I grew on him, but his character is rather uninspired. He’s just a grumpy man who likes being known as the grumpy man.

Feeling that family love right about now.

Veezara/Teinaava + Ocheeva

Veezara isn’t bad, but he wasn’t nearly as interesting as Teinaava or Ocheeva, who set a hard bar to compete with. 

The twins are clearly well-connected, as Ocheeva has been trusted with leadership, and Teinaava is tuned in enough with Argonia to know when and where to send you to kill Scar-Tail. And you get the idea that they’re intelligent and well-travelled. For example, Teinaava knows how to exploit Fort Sutch’s defences and how to escape from Gaston Tussaud’s ship. Ocheeva even mentions completing a contract on a ship at sea near Vvardenfel.

Aside from being a shadowscale, which was cool, Veezara didn’t have much going for him. Ocheeva and Teinaava were very colourful. Most of Veezara’s conversations were like this:

               Tell me about yourself.

                               Well, I am a shadowscale, and I was trained to kill.

               How do you feel about Cicero and the Night-mother?

                               I don’t know. All I know is, I am a shadowscale, and I was                                     trained to kill.

And that’s pretty much it.

You know it’s cooler if you don’t go flaunting it around in everyone’s face. 

Basically, make Veezara an Imperial or a Nord, and he will be far less memorable.


I don’t really know what to say about Gabrielle, because I don’t know anything about her. (I have the official game guide for Skyrim, and it has bios for every character in the Dark Brotherhood. It doesn’t say much about Gabrielle.)

These characters aren’t even that similar, except for the fact that they’re both Mer archers.

Telaendril had personality. She was eager to please and lusted after the chance to advance in the guild, as seen by her disappointment by not being given the “special assignment”. She also tried telling Gogron about the virtues of stealth, and in doing so she was showing her loyalty to the old ways. However she also let her guard down around Gogron because she had a soft-spot for him (and a wet spot too, or so Gogron claims). It made her seem well connected and apart of the family, and not just a shoe-in to have an archer in the assassin’s guild.

Which Gabrielle was.

I didn’t even know she was an archer until I destroyed the Dark Brotherhood in another profile. I killed Gabrielle’s pet spider and used its venom to poison her, and then I cut her head off of and threw it in the pond.

Arnbjorn/Gogron gro-Bolmog

These characters both fit in the role of “ignorant warrior who just likes to kill”. Gogron likes you from the start, Arnbjorn is an asshole but becomes nicer (am I noticing a pattern here?).

Gogron’s ignorance made him charming, because he was just in the Dark Brotherhood doing what he loved, and he was happy to talk to you even if he wasn’t completely clear on what he was doing.

When asked about the night mother: “All I know is, she pays me to kill people. My own mother should’ve loved me so.”

When Arnbjorn is ridiculed about disrespecting the night mother: “Keep talking little man, and we’ll see who gets punished.”

One of them isn’t aware of his ignorance, and it makes him likeable. One of them embraces what little he knows, which makes him annoying.

Not to mention, why exactly did Arnbjorn dislike you, only to end up respecting you towards the end of the questline? Apparently it’s because you “proved yourself time and time again” but if he was just distrusting of your competence, why wasn’t his wife’s testimony enough? Or, killing Alain and his gang, or something earlier?

Each time I do The Purification, it’s completely heartbreaking. For Death Incarnate, I don’t care.

So long Arnbjorn! I hope you skip the Hunting Grounds and go straight to BURNING IN HELL!


Something tells me I won’t need to try hard to prove this point.

Skyrim’s assassinations were all very basic. You had a bunch of side missions, where you killed targets who weren’t going anyway. And, you also had the main quests. There were no unique ways to kill any of your targets, and no extra effort required for any of them, except for thinking about an escape.

Oblivion’s assassinations were all so incredible and memorable. Even the most basic one involved smuggling yourself onto a ship to kill the captain and escaping through the back.

There was also the quest where you became a sleuth and tracked down an Altmer skooma addict, or another where you were invited to a party and had to murder each guest (or turn them against each other), or there was infiltrating an occupied military fort, and the prison you started the game in.

The purification, which broke everyone’s hearts, I will speak no more about.  

And my favourite part, defeating the members of the Black Hand. Replaying the quest knowing who these targets REALLY are makes each of them seem like a legend in their own right.

J’Ghasta, the Khajiit martial artist who could kill with his enemies without being armed. Shaleez, the Argonian huntress (who is probably also a shadowscale) who made her lair in an abandoned flooded mine. Alval Uvani, the travelling Dunmer wizard who is a master of destruction. Havilstein Hoar-Blood, the Nord barbarian residing in the mountains, who is probably strong enough to send you down the mountain in a single swing of his axe (or was it a hammer?). And finally, we come to the listener, Ungolim. The Bosmer archer who has by now been anticipating you, and whose hunter-like instincts make him detect you before you strike.

As terrible as it was to learn that you killed even more of your comrades, you learned that each of them was a formidably killer with deadly prowess, not only making them worthy targets of a highly-trained assassin, but the perfect leaders for the shadowy organisation.

Was there anything that memorable in Skyrim’s Dark Brotherhood? 

You fought against some Imperial agents, I guess. You fought Alain.

The end :/

In Conclusion

I know most people probably already agreed with me on these points, but I just wanted to get them settled. Hopefully in the next Elder Scrolls game, the brotherhood is strong with the old ways again, and not everyone dies.