The All-Maker, Skaal, & Tinfoil Theories (wall of text warning)

Orkey's a bit of a confusing subject. Many sources, a few of them from MK's own writings, conflate him with the god of the Orcs - Malacath. Examples would be Varieties of Faith, The True Nature of Orcs, The Five Songs of King Wulfharth, and The Five Hundred Mighty Companions. Though that last one is a bit tenuous. (See Kjhelt of the Cult of Orkey/Kuujhe’elthilax of the Kalpa of the Orsidoon)

This led many, most notably myself, to believe that Trinimac was the Arkay equivalent within the Altmeri pantheon, before his fall from grace. However, recent evidence has revealed that Xarxes, Auri-El's scribe, is the Arkay equivalent within the Altmeri pantheon, and that Trinimac's equivalent lies in Zenithar, god of labor, commerce, communication, and - through his associations with Xen/Z'en and Zeht - agriculture.

Confused? I'd be surprised if you weren't. Why would so many sources equate Malacath with Orkey rather than Tsun, Zenithar's Nordic aspect? I believe I might have an answer. Just keep in mind that it is speculation.

Personally, I don't believe Orkey is Arkay at all. Not originally, at least. We have to remember that the Orkey of old was hugely antagonistic towards the Nords. We must also remember that multiple sources connect him to Malacath, who was formerly Trinimac - mankind's greatest foe. It's no secret that Trinimac hated Lorkhan and everything to do with him, so when we look at the legends of how Orkey tampered with the Nords' lifespans - once in Atmora, once in Skyrim - it isn't difficult to see Trinimac's involvement. Trinimac is, after all, a war god, and war gods are drawn to conflict like flies to shit, even if it means stirring up trouble themselves. Very characteristic of a trickster.

But how does Zenithar fit into all of this?

Zenithar, as god of merchants, encompasses commerce and communication as parts of his sphere. This means that Zenithar is a god of contracts and oaths between traders. Why is that significant? Because Trinimac/Malacath is a god of oaths, hence the moniker 'Keeper of the Sworn Oath'. Which means Trinimac/Malacath and Zenithar are both gods of truth. It's quite fitting, actually, because the both of them are lords of fire (blacksmith gods), and fire is often a symbol of truth.

But how could a god of truth be a trickster, like Orkey?

Well, in real-world mythology, gods of oath and contract are often tricksters. Two very good examples are Hermes/Mercury and Lug/Lugh/Lugus (This guy right here is equivalent to Mithra, in fact). You could make a very good argument that Hermes/Mercury was the inspiration for Zenithar, for they both are gods of commerce and communication. However, unlike Zenithar, Hermes/Mercury is also a patron of thieves and deception. In the case of Lug/Lugh/Lugus, whose name means "oath", his trickster aspects come from his mixed blood - he is half Tuatha De Denaan (gods of light) and half Formorian (gods of darkness). He sometimes appears as an old man to fool people into believing he is weak, and he is the source of the leprechaun myths. Aside from that, he is also a god of war, sun/fire, smithcraft, and a god of the harvest, and known as the Gaulish Mercury. He's very, very similar to both Trinimac and Zenithar.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, it's much more clear to see how Trinimac might actually be the trickster Orkey. For one, let's not forget that Trinimac was accused of leading the Elven peoples astray with lies about Lorkhan and the purpose of his test. Let's also not forget that he is a berserker, and the berserkers of real-world history were notorious for their fickle behavior on the battlefield, harming as much their allies as their foes. It's part of the reason why they were hated and ostracized, and eventually outlawed. There's also one source that explicitly refers to Malacath as a trickster: Chimere Graegyn. He does so in regards to the Savior's Hide, which he states is an artifact of Malacath, and that, like many of Malacath's artifacts, it's a mixed blessing, making the wearer either highly resistant or highly susceptible to magicka. We can probably brush this one off as old lore, though, since Hircine is now the owner of the Savior's Hide. Anywho, I like to imagine Trinimac/Malacath as the Green Knight of Arthurian legend, who tests the honor and valor of knights by setting them up to fail. It's a bit hypocritical, yes. But I guess that's how you'd weed out the wheat from the chaff.

I hope you don't think I'm finished, 'cause this is where the crazy shit begins. I'm gonna try and make this as short and understandable as possible, so bear with me. Things will begin to make much more sense as to why Zenithar, Trinimac/Malacath, and proto-Orkey are one in the same, and what their connection is to Arkay.

Zenithar (all his aspects) is, simply put, the Divine Reaper. A reaper in every sense of the word.

But what does that mean?

The single-most important aspect of his sphere we must start with is his agricultural affiliations. There is no doubt that, as a god of agricultural fertility, Zenithar is ruler of the harvest, making him a reaper in the agricultural sense. This puts him in a very close relationship with the Time Dragon. In fact, this close association with the Time Dragon is easily seen with Ruptga and his son Zeht, where it is said that Zeht renounced his father at the creation of the world. In doing so, Ruptga makes it very difficult to grow crops. I think it bears mentioning, too, that the Kronos/Cronus/Saturn of Greek/Roman mythology is both the god of time and the god of agriculture and harvest. So there's that.

Moving right along, let's talk about the reaper's tool: the sickle or harpe. Oh yes, the sickle/harpe is very important here, because it isn't just the tool a farmer uses to reap the fruits of his labor. The sickle/harpe also has interesting real-world connections to death and vengeance. I don't think I need to point out what instrument the angel of death, AKA the Grim Reaper, uses to collect the souls of the dead in his otherworldly task. Nope, sure don't. But seriously, the sickle/harpe is also sometimes the weapon in which certain gods, like Mars or Saturn, enact retribution against transgessors (See Bringing in the Sheaves), which brings to mind Z'en and Malacath, who both employ a 'Blood Price' in their respective codes of retribution. Vengeance is theirs to reap, and there's plenty of death imagery associated with Malacath. And since we're on the subject of death and how it relates to Zenithar-as-Divine-Reaper, let's discuss Tsun - the Master of Trials. He, as you well know, is considered a 'dead god' within the Nordic pantheon, and he possesses similarities to Arkay or Tu'whacca. For starters, he's a psychopomp. He also acts as a judge of souls, deeming any warrior who bests him in combat worthy to enter Shor's halls.

But the similarities between one of Zenithar's aspects and Arkay doesn't end there. I've yet to bring up the fact that Z'en is a god affiliated with the cosmic order.

Cosmic order can range anywhere from the change of seasons, to social interaction, to the ascent and descent of souls. As 'Lord of the Wheel of Life', Arkay is charged with maintaining the change of seasons, as well as the ascent and descent of souls - he's a kosmokrator, of sorts. However, Zenithar controls the cosmic balance of social interaction in the world, punishing those who steal and lie in his destructive aspects. Moreover, he's in charge of commerce, which could very well involve the spirit trade (See 'Lunar Currency'). Lastly, his role in the agricultural cycles of the world paint him out to be a fertility god, which isn't surprising when we consider that his planet is orbited by Dibella and Mara, both of whom are fertility goddesses. There's even a passage in the High Rock entry of the Emperor's Guide that mentions the farmers of Alcaire give praise to Zenithar for the favorable weather and the bountiful harvests. So who, exactly, is supposed to be in control of the weather: Zenithar or Arkay? Given Zenithar's close associations with Kynareth - 'Mother Nature' made manifest - it's very possible that Zenithar, too, has some measure of control over the weather, especially considering that he is known to be the god most in touch with the mortal realm. And what of his moniker, 'the god that will always win'? Could it be that he is accorded this title because he possesses mastery over the cosmic order of the world?


/r/teslore Thread