Dunmer society is very spiritual, as nearly all Dunmer revere their gods, primarily the Tribunal through the organization of the Tribunal Temple. Daedric cultists are common in Morrowind, and the Ashlander tribes are known to worship the Three Good Daedra. The Malakh-Orcs of Malakh-Bazhul also practice their own variation of Orcish theology, and the Imperial Cult is seeping into the province following the Empire's increased interest in Morrowind.
The Tribunal Temple
The primary religion in Morrowind, recognized by every Great House, the Tribunal Temple is the overarching spiritual authority of most of the Dunmer people. The organization itself is not just the organization of Dunmer religious beliefs, also serving as the hands, eyes, and ears of the Living Gods, the Tribunal. The Temple is ruled primarily by the Alma Rula, a position who answers only to the ALMSIVI itself, however as of late the Temple and the Imperial puppet-Kingdom of Morrowind are more at odds. Most of the Temple's resources are focused towards maintaining the Ghostgate, a large magical barrier meant to keep the Sixth House Cult's Blight disease quarantined along with the Imperial-mandated quarantine of Vvardenfell.
The Tribunal, ALMSIVI, or Living Gods are the primary object of worship to the Tribunal Temple. Sometimes considered a single entity and other times three separate deities, the Tribunal are active participants in Dunmer culture and the governing of Morrowind. The origin of the ALMSIVI is said to be that through their outstanding deeds, they ascended to become the god-kings of Morrowind in the mid-First Era. When they took their place as the rulers of Morrowind, they blessed the Chimer people with ashen skin and red eyes to distinguish them from their Chimer past of Daedra-worship. In recent memory, many Dunmer have become discontent with the Tribunal, as each Tribune has been in near complete solitude in their cities since the beginning of the Third Era.
Almalexia or Ayem is the first of the ALMSIVI, representing herself as a female Chimer and confining herself to her temple in the city which shares her name. She is worshiped for her mercy, compassion, and love for Morrowind and her people. She is credited with the protection of Morrowind, defeating the Akaviri leader Ada'Soom-dir-Kamal by impaling him with her ribcage, which would later become known as the Isle of Arches. Almalexia also defeated Mehrunes Dagon when he destroyed the city of Mournhold, banishing him back to Oblivion and using her divine power to rebuild the city as the modern city of Almalexia. She was the wife of Saint Nerevar, and is seen as a maternal figure to the Dunmer people. Almalexia's most devout followers are the Hands of Almalexia, elite Ordinators who are stationed within the Mournhold District of Almalexia.
Sotha Sil, Seht, or the Clockwork God is the second of the ALMSIVI, known as the god of mystery, secrets, magic, and craftsmen. He is a Dunmer, credited with being the first one to inform the Dunmer that their ashen skin was a blessing, but has not been seen since the Second Era, even by his diehard followers. His city, called both Sotha Sil and the Clockwork City, is located in an indeterminate location, sometimes said to be underneath Mournhold and other times to be in the Arnesian Swamps. He is the most mysterious of the Tribunal, spending most of his time either within his city or on the Isle of Artaeum as an ally of the Psijic Order. As a child, his home village of Ald Sotha was destroyed by Mehrunes Dagon, which led him to form the Coldharbor Compact with eight Daedra lords when Molag Bal destroyed the town of Gilverdale. The compact forbade these princes from directly interfering with Nirn's affairs; what Seht offered them in return is unknown. Regardless, Mehrunes Dagon attacked Mournhold soon after, and Sotha Sil returned to Morrowind to help Almalexia in defeating the prince.
Vivec or Vehk is the last of the ALMSIVI, called the Protector of Vvardenfell. Vivec is a hermaphroditic god, split between Chimer and Dunmer, who maintains the Ghostgate from his palace in his city, Vivec. Vehk represents pride, courage, art, and poetry, known as a warrior-poet before her days of godhood. The 36 Lessons of Vivec, penned by Vivec themself, tells a mythic account of the days prior to the War of the First Council, in which Vivec is described as the child of a Netchiman and his wife, who fused with a robotic replica of his mother to become mature. The Lessons also speak of Vivec's affair with the Daedric Prince Molag Bal at the Pomegranate Banquet, in which the children of Vivec and Molag Bal were conceived and where Vivec received their spear Muatra. Vehk killed the children she had with Molag Bal, and later took his place in leading Morrowind. Vivec is credited as leading Dunmer armies during the Four Score War against the Reman Empire as well as flooding Morrowind to rid the land of the Kamal invaders during the Second Akaviri Invasion. Vivec was also the one who wrote the Armistice between Morrowind and the Septim Empire, giving Tiber Septim Morrowind in exchange for unique privileges that would preserve Dunmer traditions.
The Anticipations, also known as the Three Good Daedra, consist of Azura, Boethiah, and Mephala. These three Daedra lords are highly significant to the history of the Dunmer and Chimer people, however their worship has fallen out of favor within the Tribunal Temple. The Anticipations were the ones who told Saint Veloth of the Psijic Endeavor and convinced him and his followers to leave Summerset Isle. They and the House of Troubles were worshiped during the Merethic and early First Eras, however when the Tribunal came to power they branded the Good Daedra as instead Anticipations of the Tribunal, raw and primal representations of what the Tribunes would become.
Azura is the Twilight, Goddess of Dusk and Dawn. She is the anticipation of Sotha Sil, paralleling Sotha Sil as a female aspect of his sphere. Azura is more often portrayed like a cosmic force rather than a god by the Chimer, but regardless priests and priestesses of Azura were common in Resdayn. Azura's role in Dunmer theology is largely relegated to the Ashlanders due to Azura's rejection of the Tribunal. Despite this, she is still recognized as an anticipation of Seht.
Boethiah, the Prince of Plots, is believed to be the original god-ancestor of the Chimer. Sometimes called the God-King of Morrowind, Boethiah and his compatriot, Mephala, were the most active Daedric forces in Chimeri mytho-history, directly credited with telling the prophet Veloth of the Psijic Endeavor. When the Velothi were organizing their exodus from Summerset, the false ancestor-hero Trinimac of the Aldmer tried to convince the Velothi to stay. Boethiah in retaliation tricked Trinimac into going in his mouth. Boethiah took Trinimac's form and voice and made a fool of him, instead convincing the Velothi to leave. Once the Chimer arrived in Resdayn, Boethiah taught the Chimer various secrets of magic, philosophy, and architecture. Boethiah is considered the anticipation to Almalexia, the male to Ayem's female.
Mephala is the Androgyne, anticipation of Vivec. As the prince of lies and secret murder, Mephala taught the Velothi the virtues of conspiracy and manipulation when they traveled to Resdayn. Through these teachings and values, the Chimer learned to conquer their enemies, the teachings of Mephala and Boethiah becoming the basis for the House-based structure of Dunmeri society today. His aspects are echoed through his place as the anticipation of Vivec, sharing undertones of conspiracy and lies. Mephala is inextricably connected to the Dunmer assassin's guild, the Morag Tong, which is protected by the Temple for its political convenience. The Morag Tong worships Mephala and directly engages with lies and secret murder via carrying out legal political assassinations, although many members lean less into the religious aspects of the guild.
The Four Corners of the House of Troubles
The House of Troubles is the term for the four Daedric Princes who followed the Velothi and the Good Daedra to Resdayn to be worshiped by the Chimer who were reduced to lesser spirits when the Tribunal took over. These Daedra rebelled against the Tribunal and became known to the Temple as the Four Corners of the House of Troubles. The House of Troubles works to undermine Dunmer livelihoods and the authority of the Tribunal, often directly confronting the ALMSIVI in combat. Despite their rebellion and cruelty against the Tribunal, the Temple holds that the House of Troubles must be appeased to keep them from doing harm.
Archaically known as Malak, God-king of the Orcs, Malacath is the first corner of the House of Troubles. Originally the Aedra Trinimac, Malacath was eaten by Boethiah when he tried to keep the Velothi from leaving Summerset. After Boethiah excreted Trinimac as feces, the priests of Trinimac rubbed the remains on themselves, turning them into the goblin-like Orsimer or Orcs. The dung then transformed into Malacath, and he followed the Velothi to Resdayn. He is said to test the Dunmer for physical weakness, and also has many Orcish followers in Morrowind, including the Malakh-Orcs.
Mehrunes Dagon is the God of Destruction or King of Blood, the second corner of the House of Troubles. He is the god of rebellion, chaos, and the overthrow of authority. There are many instances of Mehrunes Dagon directly attacking the Dunmer people, such as the village of Ald Sotha in the First Era, Maar Gan, and the destruction of Mournhold at the end of the First Era. He is said to have destroyed the small town of Ald Sotha during the First Era, only to be fought off by Vivec, who saved the young Sotha Sil in the ruins after disposing of Dagon. Dagon once threatened to hurl a rock at the Redoran town of Maar Gan, however due to the cunning of Vivec, the rock ended up hitting Dagon himself. The rock, called the Magic Rock of Maar Gan, serves as a pilgrimage site for aspiring Temple members on Vvardenfell. However Mehrunes Dagon's most infamous achievement was the destruction of Mournhold during the last year of the First Era. After supposedly being summoned by a cultist, Mehrunes Dagon appeared over the capital city of Mournhold and utterly destroyed the city. Only through the efforts of Almalexia and Sotha Sil did Dagon's assault on the capital come to an end, however the damage was already done.
Molag Bal, the King of Rape, is the third corner of the House of Troubles and archenemy of Boethiah. It is said that Molag Bal was born in the Daedric shrine of Bal Ur, when the Doom Drum tricked him into becoming mortal. He serves to upset Dunmer genetic and spiritual purity, being father of the vampires, who are reviled by the Temple. It is said that Molag Bal taught Vivec the syllable of royalty, CHIM, when he held the Pomegranate Banquet with many other Daedra as well as Vehk. In the process of the Pomegranate Banquet, Vivec and Molag Bal had several children, which Vivec went on to slay. One of Vivec and Molag Bal's children was the Ruddy Man, an echo said to be left behind from when the Dreugh ruled the world with Molag Bal as their god. The truth of this account is unknown.
Sheogorath, the final corner of the House of Troubles, tests Dunmeri mental fortitude. He is in fact so reviled by the Temple that the worship of Sheogorath could sentence a man to death. However, with the current social and political state of Morrowind, rumors are circulating that Sheogorath worship is gaining in popularity. Sheogorath's most well-known myth is one of the myths of Baar Dau, in which he flung a moonlet called Baar Dau into Vivec city. Vehk stopped the moonlet in the air, negotiating with Sheogorath so that he would stop tormenting the Dunmer of Vvardenfell. Sheogorath agreed to protect Dunmer on Vvardenfell from insanity as long as Temple pilgrims appease the House of Troubles, and he has not caused trouble with the Tribunal since.
Main Article: Temple Saints
Outlying or outstanding mortals are recognized by the Tribunal Temple as saints. While not directly worshiped, Temple Saints are seen as role models to Temple members, and they are many in number. Some Saints are claimed as patron saints by the Great Houses, but not all.
The most historically significant Temple Saint is Saint Veloth the Pilgrim, who represents outcasts and philosophers. Veloth was born to a noble family in the Summerset Isles, until he was told by Azura, Boethiah, and Mephala of the truth of the Mundus. His reflection and bettering of himself led to his organization of the Velothi Dissident Movement, rebelling against the Aldmer government. He and his people left the Summerset Isles, crossing the deserts of Shipal-Shin and founding the nation of Resdayn. Veloth himself founded the city of Narsis, which has since been the center of power of Great House Hlaalu. Because of this, House Hlaalu claims Veloth as their patron saint, although he is renowned throughout all of Morrowind for his significance in culture and history.
Another historically critical Temple Saint, Saint Nerevar the Captain was the Hortator of Resdayn during the War of Succession, in which he fought against the Nordic Empire. Through Nerevar's friendship with the Dwemer leader Dumac Dwarf-King, he formed an alliance between the Great Houses and the numerous Dwemer clans which had long been fighting each other. After expelling the Nords from Morrowind, Nerevar ruled with Dumac over the First Council of Resdayn. When the Tribunal first attained power, Nerevar was a trusted companion of Vivec, who traveled across Nirn and beyond with him. This age of peace and prosperity would end with the War of the First Council, when the Dwemer betrayed the Chimer by trying to create their own god, the Numidium. Nerevar and the Tribunal fought at the Battle of Red Mountain, killing King Dumac and forcing the panicked creator of the Numidium, Kagrenac, to use the Heart of Lorkhan preemptively. This act removed the Dwemer from reality but left the Heart of Lorkhan and the tools Kagrenac used on it. The leader of Great House Dagoth, Dagoth Ur, took the Tools of Kagrenac, betraying Nerevar and killing him after using the tools to become a god. After Nerevar was killed, the Tribunal killed Dagoth Ur, who is said to sleep in the center of Red Mountain. A different account of Vivec from the 36 Lessons of Vivec claims that Nerevar was killed by Dagoth Ur when he ventured into Red Mountain. Regardless, Nerevar was given sainthood by the Tribunal Temple, claimed by Great House Redoran, and is revered as a very honorable man.
One of the most important facets of Dunmer religion is the importance placed on their ancestors and family. The Dunmer believe that their ancestors should serve the living after death to provide advice and wisdom, allowing the returning of a soul to the Mundus as long as it is performed by a Dunmer of the deceased's family. Noble Dunmer are interred in designated Ancestral Tombs that are littered about Morrowind, while commoners or other Dunmer lacking an Ancestral Tomb are buried in the city of Necrom. In more calm times, Dunmer spirits would be allowed to be summoned from the home of a Dunmer, however since the start of the Third Era, the Temple has committed the spirits of every Ancestral Tomb to the upkeep of the Ghostfence. This also robs Ancestral Tombs of their only means of security, allowing any outlander to plunder their halls.
The Sharmat is a position in Temple doctrine which describes Dagoth Ur, the traitor. Dagoth Ur betrayed Nerevar and the Tribunal at Red Mountain, using the Tools of Kagrenac to become a god. With his new powers, he murdered Nerevar before he himself was felled by the Tribunal. However, his presence lingered throughout Morrowind's consciousness. Following his defeat, Dagoth Ur became known as the Sharmat, an adversarial and malicious figure which opposes the Tribunal and the Dunmer. It is said that the Sharmat sleeps at the heart of Red Mountain, waiting to awaken and pervert Morrowind and the Dunmer. The Sharmat has recently become a greater concern due to the rise of the Sixth House Cult, a dangerous resurgence of Dagoth Ur's family, Great House Dagoth, which threatens to consume Morrowind via the Blight and Corprus diseases.
A tribal culture which exists only on the fringes of Dunmer society, the Ashlanders' religious teachings differ from that of the Temple's as much as their culture does. Ashlander religion has no overarching authority, however within individual tribes the Wise Woman usually tends to her people's religious needs. The Ashkhan of a tribe sometimes also has religious authority, such as in the case of the Urshilaku.
A point of contention between Ashlanders and their Great House counterparts is the capacity of worship of the Daedra practiced. The Ashlanders refuse the godhood of the Tribunal, instead continuing the tradition of worshiping the Daedra as their god-ancestors as the true gods of Morrowind.
Azura, Boethiah, and Mephala
Like the Temple, Azura, Boethiah, and Mephala are recognized by the Ashlanders as being the instigators of the Velothi Dissident Movement. Much of the views of the Temple on the Good Daedra are the same as the Ashlanders up until the apotheosis of the Tribunal. The popular Ashlander telling holds that at the Battle of Red Mountain, Nerevar made a deal with Azura to make the Dwemer disappear in exchange for the promise that no Chimer would use the Tools of Kagrenac. After Nerevar, Dagoth Ur, and the Tribunal debated ineffectually on what to do with the tools, whether to destroy them or preserve them, Nerevar attempted to summon and consult Azura, however the Tribunal poisoned Nerevar's robes and the candles used in the ritual. Nerevar was murdered by the Tribunal, however Azura appeared to the false gods of the Tribunal and cursed the Chimer with ashen skin and red eyes as punishment for their crimes. A hero told to be the immortal son of Azura, Nerevar's shield-companion Alandro Sul, lived among the Ashlanders after the battle and popularized this story.
The other Daedra who followed the Velothi to Resdayn are in some ways venerated by the Ashlanders, however they are not seen as important as the core three. They are also not told to be evil by the Ashlanders, instead testing gods who teach the Ashlanders to withstand Morrowind's environment.
Indoril Nerevar Mora, unlike in Temple theology, takes a very prominent role in Ashlander beliefs. The Ashlanders see Indoril Nerevar as a tragic figure who represents the pure Velothi/Chimer way of life, murdered by the Tribunal in their bid for power. Ashlander teachings say that Nerevar was Azura's chosen champion, gifted with the ring One-Tribe-Under-Moon-and-Star, which can only be worn by Nerevar himself. Regardless of the specific story told, Ashlander myths of Nerevar state that he was murdered by the Tribunal so they could use the Tools of Kagrenac to become gods. The death of Nerevar is sometimes seen as a death of Velothi culture and Veloth's teachings, supplanted by the Tribunal and their decadent ways.
Nerevarine Cult and the Nerevarine Prophecy
A popular belief among Dunmer outside of Temple doctrine is the belief in the Nerevarine Prophecy. The Nerevarine Prophecy states that when doom befalls Morrowind, Indoril Nerevar will be reincarnated as the Nerevarine, pass several tests, become Hortator of the Ashlanders and Great Houses, and restore the worship of the true gods of Morrowind, the Daedra. These beliefs congregate in the Nerevarine Cult, a loose organization located in the Urshilaku tribe, which serves to guide the Nerevarine through his trials. Belief in the Nerevarine Prophecy is strictly suppressed by the Tribunal Temple, and as such only Temple members have ready access to most records regarding the Nerevarine, leaving only sparse and vague oral traditions from the Ashlanders and condemnations by the Temple itself as the records of the prophecy's existence.
The Tribunal and their apotheosis are the origin point for the estrangement of the Ashlanders from larger Dunmer society. When the Tribunal came to power, the Ashlanders refused to worship them, seeing them as false for supplanting the Daedra and murdering Nerevar. Some Ashlander tales depict the ALMSIVI as a single entity, a demon that takes the form of three mockeries of the Daedra, other Ashlanders see them as simply false gods and murderers.
The Ashlanders' means of worshiping their ancestors do not differ that greatly from the House Dunmer. They still summon their ancestors for advice, however Ashlanders do not bury their dead in tombs like the House Dunmer. Some tribes, such as the Urshilaku and Ishuranan, have caverns in which they mummify their dead, while others burn or bury their dead.
Aside from the Temple and Ashlanders, there are numerous religious groups from both external and internal origins.
An import that came to Morrowind when it was absorbed by the Empire, the Imperial Great Faiths or more simply known in other provinces as the Imperial Cult is also seeping into Morrowind. Worshiping the Nine Divines: Akatosh, Arkay, Dibella, Julianos, Kynareth, Mara, Stendarr, Zenithar, and Talos, the Imperial Cult most often has power within Imperial settlements or settlements made up primarily of outlanders. Very few Dunmer convert to the Imperial faith, and those who do are branded as outcasts by their peers.
Main Article: Orcish Pantheon
Daedric cults are especially common in Morrowind, mostly due to the frequency of Daedric shrines that have been abandoned around the province's wilderness. From these shrines, Daedric cultists are free to commune with their god, usually away from the rest of society.
Sixth House Cult
The Sixth House Cult are a recently formed group, popping up at the start of the Third Era and gaining traction since. Sixth House Cultists primarily consist of House Dunmer or Ashlanders who had been plagued by strange dreams of the Sharmat, Dagoth Ur. After a while experiencing these dreams, these people reach a strange state of enlightenment, calling themselves "Dreamers" and spreading the ideals of the Sixth House. The Sixth House is a resurgent movement of Great House Dagoth, the ancient sixth Great House which was eradicated following the War of the First Council and the betrayal of their leader, Voryn Dagoth, better known as Dagoth Ur. The Sixth House returned at the end of the Second Era, proclaiming their god, Akulakhan, to be the true god of Morrowind. They take Dagoth Ur as their godly leader, with powers equal if not on par with the Tribunal, and they seek to drive the Imperials from Morrowind and place the province under the leadership of Great House Dagoth's god-priests. The Sixth House is responsible for the propagation of the Blight and Corprus diseases, plagues sweeping through Morrowind and transforming its citizens into grotesque monsters. The Tribunal Temple is attempting to contain the Sixth House via use of the Great Ghostgate erected outside of Red Mountain, however these efforts have failed and the Sixth House has reclaimed its ancient capital of Kogoruhn. The Sixth House is seen as a threat by both the Tribunal Temple and the Empire, however no direct actions by the Empire have been taken.
The Dissident Priests are an outcast organization of former members of the Tribunal Temple. These priests refuse Temple Doctrine, following the Ashlander belief that the Tribunal's godhood is false and built on trickery. For their beliefs and their collecting of redacted Temple documents, called Apographa, they are persecuted by the Tribunal Temple, driving them into hiding. Their numbers are few, but their forbidden knowledge has at many points ended up with their confinement within the Ministry of Truth.
Main Article: Nordic Pantheon