This Sermon isn't as long as some, but it covers so many broad subjects so rapidly that the commentaries built up in a big way. This Sermon marks the creation of MUATRA, a sword and a symbol in one, and the birth of Vivec's children, eight or nine of which will become a major factor in Vivec's story.

In Morrowind, Sermon 14 grants a bonus to the Spear skill, appropriately enough. It is worth 200 Septims and weighs 3 units. A copy can be found in the temple in Balmora, and in the Tower of Dusk at the Ghostgate

Sermon 29 names this Sermon "The King's Cough." Its number is 32, which references the word "this."

For those of you who are familiar with the numerology of the 36 Lessons, it's eight spokes to the Great Wheel times the Number of the Master. For those of you who aren't familiar with that sort of thing, wait until we get to Sermon 29 where I'll explain the whole thing.

We mentioned the relevancy of feet in Sermon 12. But consider also the concept of chakras: the Eastern concept of lines of energy that flow through the human body. Points along these canals of energies are called "chakras," and careful mental or physical manipulation of these points can cause a wide range of spiritual and medical phenomena. This manipulation is a central concept in many Eastern religions and traditional medical practices. Perhaps the removal of Vivec's feet nullified hir energy canals, rendering hir body weak and vulnerable.

Another suggestion by Scourgicus is that the Hebrew word "feet" is sometimes used as a euphemism for male genitalia in the Old Testament, which suggests a different and extremely uncomfortable scenario.

Why does the blood of a Daedra allow Vivec's giant-form feet to avoid harming the earth? I have two theories on this: either the blood of a being of another plane is unable to harm Mundus, or this blood is applied to the chakras of Vivec's feet (see previous comment) and imbue hir entire energy system with power.

The consumption of (possibly) Dunmeri ancestor spirits seems a little out of place considering the degree to which Dunmer revere their ancestors. Ancestor worship is a huge part of Dunmer culture throughout history, whether Velothi or Ashlander, due in part to the utility of their spirits in their service after death.

Later in the 36 Lessons, we'll watch Vivec interact with an ancestor ghost charged with guarding its family tomb, serving even after death. Many more Dunmer elect to serve after death as fuel for the Ghost Fence, the magical perimeter that barely holds back the perpetual cascade of Dagoth Ur's growing army.

However, it's worth noting that these spirits upon which the Daedra feed are not specifically "ancestor spirits," so it's a safe bet that they're probably just the spirits of animals and monsters who had previously died in the hazardous wastes.

I suppose it's possible to infer from this that Vivec's mating with Molag Bal is what elevated the Daedric Prince to his current position of power. Whether this is true or not is unknown and probably also pointless. Before this event, however, I guess we can suppose that Molag Bal was a "lesser" Daedric Prince. I'm not familiar enough with the finer points of the political structure of Daedra to comment on this.

But maybe Molag Bal has now "become necessary" to the Tribunal, and has realized that he has injured the conspiracy of the Four Corners against the Tribunal and the Hortator, as outlined in Sermon Seven. As Duke Kh-Utta arrives, the scamp's presence reminds Molag Bal of his failure, that he has succumbed to the beautiful Warrior Poet's seduction.

Also, this could just be another example of the 36 Lessons attempting its own myth-making - which is to say it is attempting to answer one of the most common questions in history: "Why are things the way they are?" Such is the purpose of all myths. They answer why the world exists, why the sun doesn't burn the horizon, why the plants hide in the winter, where children come from.

Though it may be tempting to reduce the 36 Lessons to a mere collection of metaphors, I'd caution against it. I'm not saying that the children of Vivec and Molag Bal aren't metaphors for the interaction of two powerful entities. Rather, I'm suggesting that they are both metaphorical and literal.

The specific appearance of every one of Vivec's children isn't outlined, but judging from the descriptions of the few that escape this Sermon's carnage, they are almost certainly ferocious. A more interesting topic is to wonder why Vivec and Molag Bal have so many children?

But without question, most fans of the 36 Lessons want to know what the children of Vivec represent.

In short, the children of Vivec represent the last remaining "flaws" in hir god-like nature. They fall from Vivec's corpus like bark falling from a tree, removed like bugs from a system, knocked free by the overwhelming and purifying fire of Molag Bal's will. But removing a problem does not solve the problem, and the road to divinity is never as easy as that. In order to continue the path promised by the PSJJJJ, Vivec must find and destroy these problems by resolving their flaws and re-absorbing their new perfect nature.

I'll detail them in greater specificity when they return in later chapters.

I am in no way surprised that Molag Bal would consider a metaphor for a strong-willed woman to be an insult. It does seem to fit his idiom. But something I'd like to see explored in the Elder Scrolls games is the aesexual or feminine form of Molag Bal's domination. Elder Scrolls Online does a fine job of demonstrating the non-sexual aspect of domination, but I weaned my teeth on Morrowind, so I'm personally more interested in tougher subjects.

Every so often, the 36 Lessons will attempt to explain a fact of modern Tamriel. In this case, it's well known that summoning Scamps is one of the earliest spells taught to disciples of the Conjuration schools of magick. The ease of their summoning is often explained by their weak wills and frail constitutions. Perhaps this is due, as this Sermon suggests, to their admonishment by Molag Bal. This kind of "curse" is actually seen quite frequently in mythologies both Western and Eastern.

The presence of this kind of legend seems to indicate that the 36 Lessons of Vivec were not intended to be read solely by the clergy and the occasional hero-aspirant, but rather by the Velothi as a whole, which I suppose isn't exactly a revelation. But there's always the argument in the Elder Scrolls Lore community: who were the 36 Lessons written for? Were they scribed for the general Velothi literate? Or exclusively to educate the Nerevarine?

As with most things, I tend to think that it could be both.

Despite Molag Bal's violent and invasive nature, he's unable to abuse Vivec's body in any way that he (or perhaps either of them) finds satisfactory. He suggests that this is due to the Barons of Move Like This, who conditioned Vivec's egg-form way back in Sermon One. This is a common theme in many legends - unrefined strength in any form or magnitude cannot conquer true mastery.

Sure, Molag Bal could be using the word "love" to refer to sexual passion or affection. If so, he's insinuating that he's all power but no finesse, so to speak. But what if he's using the word in the Thelemic sense, as Vivec often does?

Spoken of in this way reminds us of one of Crowley's major contributions to Hermetic philosophy, which is that the infinitely varied fractal-like nature of God creates a unique and varied mirror of itself in every mortal on Earth. This in turn means that no two people commune spiritually with their inner divinity (and therefore God) in the same way. Nor does their inner divinity require the same forms of worship through action. One person may perform Love exclusively by donating all his money to charity, while another might be called to donate all his time instead. Other people might behave strangely while acting under Will. Painting, coding, surfing, brain surgery, customer service - all these things can be actions of Love under Will.

It's an important lesson that Crowley wanted to teach, that we can't judge another person by the nature of his or her Will. The only thing we can do is work to help these people act truly in the spirit of their own variation of God and not according to their own selfish, sinful needs. It might be easy to spot the Will of God in the deeds of a musician or a philanthropist, but what about an abusive drill instructor? Or a slaughterhouse worker?

Our inner divinity can seem strange in the eyes of others, but there are no easy clues to the nature of its light. We are all the same, Crowley and others have suggested, in the respect that we are all infinitely different.

Let's consider the possibility (crazy or misguided as it may seem) that Molag Bal does intend this word to mean affection. It's possibly an easier concept - it just means that when Bal tries to demonstrate affection it ends up resembling violence for reasons he feels are beyond his control. Hermetic philosophies consider this to be a sign of a flaw in Molag Bal's spirit. He feels his actions and emotions are out of his own control because (among other reasons) he either does not understand or refuses to accept his true nature.

If you're having trouble with my first explanation, just try that second one. Does it make more sense to you? Good. They're kind of both the same.

Is Molag Bal unable to refine the nature of his love, and therefore it takes the appearance of a weapon?

Or is it "accidental" in that he is unable to control or influence his own nature, and therefore its weaponized appearance is not by his choice? There has long been speculation that the Daedra are incapable of changing their own nature, and that Molag Bal's lust for domination or Mehrunes Dagon's destruction are locked tight, and they must serve their roles until the end of the Kalpa or until some external force changes them in some way.

So does Molag Bal act according to his Will? Does he Love, in the Thelemic sense? It's hard to see Molag Bal as anything other than evil and selfish, but we must remember that Love may sometimes seem like selfishness, like hatred, like abuse. Of course, that's no reason for any of us to put up with any of it from anyone else, don't get me wrong. Just because someone's Will demands that they pour boiling hot tar on everyone they meet doesn't mean our Will demands that we hang around and let it happen.

It does make a bit of sense, however. By describing the "shape" of his Love as accidental, Molag Bal admits that it is largely out of his own control, just as the Will of our own inner divinity often does not conform to our own wishes. Though I might love to sit around the house and eat cookies and drink beer, my Will demands that I sit behind a computer and write commentaries on a mystical collection of stories that very few people have read about.

The key point behind Crowley's philosophy is that he believed that Love under Will is the true path to happiness in both this world and the next. Performing Love is a blissful experience, which is one of the many reasons why the word "love" is so appropriate for this concept. A farmer's day might look like brutal work, but when they stop to wipe the sweat from their brow there's a smile on their face.

In that state of performing Love under Will, the work itself becomes the greatest reward. It's easy to see why: the act of committing oneself completely to the divine and perfect will of a supreme God must surely resemble a state of ecstasy.

Still, cookies and beer, though. You know what I'm saying?

Doubtless this is a reference to Vivec's nature as the Mastery of both Almalexia and Sotha Sil. However, it's easy to get hung up on the perceived contradiction this phrase creates. If Vivec has "only" a grain of mercy, why does ze speak so authoritatively on the subject of the Mercy Seat, and on the practice of compassionate power?

The key here is that this is a grain of Ayem's mercy, which is a different concept altogether. Almalexia's mercy is not the same as Vivec's Mercy. Almalexia's is a merciful form of compassion and self-sacrifice. Vivec's Mercy is like Vivec's Love - it can be confused for cruelty and even abuse. We touched on this in Sermon 13 when we spoke of Vivec killing the weeds of Veloth. Hir intentions are merciful in that ze intends to improve Veloth, to save it from the curse of weakness, to protect it from external threat and the stale deterioration of time.

Remember earlier when I said that sometimes a spear is just a spear? Not any more.

Vivec's genital-weapons will cause any psychoanalyst's ears to perk up. Sigmund Freud wrote extensively about phallic obsessions, most frequently when explaining their appearance as he analyzed the symbolism of dreams.

Though Freud's study of dreams may not seem to have much of a connection to the Elder Scrolls mythology, the fact that the entire universe takes place in a multi-layered dream is all the relevancy we need. However, modern psychology does not embrace Freud's work in this area, or in Freud's version of dream analysis. Don't take this for accepted mainstream psychological theory.

One of the fundamental principles of Freud's dream-state symbolism is that objects appearing in a dream represent a real-world object without actually resembling the object itself. That's important, and it'll come up later on in this Sermon. The representation of a penis is, according to Freud, often cylindrical, such as a cigar or a pinnacle, or projects in a phallic ejaculation, such as a fire hose or a discharging weapon.

Freud argued that weaponry was particularly phallic, and that association for Freud stretched past the dream world and into reality. Freud suggested that people who were obsessed with weaponry were actually suffering from a phallic obsession. Freud even suggested that the urge to utilize weapons to force your will onto someone else was closely related to the reproductive urge. To Freud, there was a functional (but rarely substantial) connection between the emotional acts of sex and violence. In a way, Freud and his peers argued, murder and rape are closely related, not just as acts of violence, but as crimes performed with phallic weaponry.

In the 36 Lessons, this sexual weapon symbolism can be applied directly to Vivec and Molag Bal. When Bal explains that his "love is accidentally shaped like a spear," he creates a metaphor connecting his phallus with his weapon. His penis is not literally a spear, although metaphors tend to be literal in Elder Scrolls lore. Instead, I would suggest that we start thinking of these metaphors as "markers," like references to an original concept that act in all ways the same as the original, but without actually being the original. This concept of markers will become very relevant later in this Sermon.

Normally in the 36 Lessons the term "biting" is used to describe the act of taking a secret or power without the intention to give it back. You could think of it as devouring the flesh of an enemy in order to gain its power, if you like.

But in this case, Vivec's biting changes the shape of Molag Bal's love, and in doing so ze likely gains knowledge as well. Any gift from Vivec is, as they all have ever been, a gift unto hirself.

Can Molag Bal now do more than dominate through violence? Or does "more than ruin" imply that, before this moment, Molag Bal could only destroy, not enslave?

Traditional Hermetic orders often refer to those without knowledge of power were considered to be "uninitiated." It was quite important to these orders to protect, but to also alienate, these uninitiated. Doing so not only protected these outsiders from dangerous threats, but also protected the centuries of knowledge these orders spent great effort to accumulate. The Freemasons are probably one such order, having created extensive rituals and tests of faith and trust to determine which of their members could be relied upon to be bound with the knowledge of their trade secrets. In the case of the Freemasons, these secrets were literally the mathematics, plans, and techniques of construction, all vulnerable and precious treasures before the invention of copyright law.

This is oral sex, obviously. Turns out the Tribunal Temple is rather conservative in their sexual practices. Was this added later, by someone who isn't Vivec? That's not such an unusual idea, considering we've possibly already seen evidence that the Temple has influenced, or even directly edited, the Lessons after Vivec wrote them. In Sermon 18, for example, we'll see that evidence in uppercase.

But I'd like to note that this "practice" does not make any allowances for the sexuality of the participants. Simply put, the act of fellatio is forbidden with no regard given to the performers.

Now we're treading dangerously close to euphemism, but basically this is the biggest and most violent blood-orgy in the history of Tamriel.

The first question one might have is whether this is wetness caused by blood, semen, or both, but it's almost certainly semen.

This reminds me quite strongly of stories from quite a few varying cultural mythologies, although I can only recall most clearly that of early Mesopotamian myths, which draw connections between the concepts of rain falling into soil, and semen fertilizing the womb. The connection is easy to make. Just as rain falling into seeded soil brings forth new crops, semen falling into the womb brings forth new children.

Of course, we get a lot of that in this sermon.

It's also worth considering that the Stoics also spoke of a concept called the logos spermatikos (the generative principle of the Universe), "words" that serve as the primary generating force of all that follows. Similar to the idea of a "true name" (as discussed in Sermon Nine), these first words are the "purest" examples of the archetype they begin, and all other repetitions of the logos spermatikos are less pure. An abstract sense of value can therefore be assigned to everything based on how close it is to the first version.

Apparently the Stoics didn't buy into the idea of generational evolution, but let's not get distracted. I suppose they were just talking about ideas, not physical things.

Anyway, the "sperm" in logos spermatikos brings us to the etymological root of this concept, "sperm." If you're still having trouble marrying the two concepts of semen and magic, this can be one possible key to understanding the metaphorical and metaphysical relationship between the two. They are the "seed" through which lust becomes flesh, inspiration becomes reality, will becomes change.

If we think about the previous comment about the earth becoming wet, you might wonder about the results of the same ritual if it was performed with improper or mis-matched elements?

Instead of the semen of mortals, or the rain of nature, we have demons and monsters ejaculating onto the earth. This is a terrible perversion of the natural order of things, the combination of two primal elements that should never be combined, and the reason why Vivec's children are so terrible in nature and visage.

It stands to reason that this is also an excellent formula for creating powerful beings. The unnatural combination of these two disparate energies requires an incredible amount of energy which translates directly to the product.

Perhaps this is just shorthand for Molag Bal, Vivec, and their children. But maybe it also indicates that the biting itself lent a quality to this new race of monsters. I'd suggest that every one of them is fixated with "biting," and the rest of Vivec's children that are detailed later in the Sermons will all have some variation of that attribute.

Creating a weapon from your sex is a fantasy common to many people regardless of their physical or sexual identity. Perhaps the details are not as clear, but engendering their gender with immense physical power has an obvious attraction.

The secret could be that Vivec has realized how to exert hir nature onto hir environment. This is an externalization of Vivec's Love under Will, similar but not identical in technique to Molag Bal's own behavior.

Mystically, this is a huge moment for Vivec. Ze has discovered a secret many hermetics desire - the ability to externalize the raw power of hir nature, which among other things is the living embodiment of Mephala, of sex and murder.

But it could also be that Vivec has learned another secret, not from biting, but from submission.

And so Vivec "kills" Molag Bal, having married him and destroyed him by changing him for better or for worse. This is the fulfillment of a strategy advised by Vivec in Sermon 11: ze has had Molag Bal murdered through marriage.

Was this hir plan all along?

I don't think this word means anything outside of the 36 Lessons, but it does serve as the name of a very complex subject in Hindu mythology: the "Lingam."

In Hindu society, the Lingam is seen as a symbol of either the potential or energy of the god Shiva, who is a central god in Hinduism in much the same way that Vivec is a central god in the Tribunal. In fact, the resemblance between Shiva and Vivec is so striking that it becomes easy to mistake VIvec for an outright carbon copy of Shiva. If you're not paying attention, that is.

The Lingam also (arguably) represents Shiva's phallus, and the connection between Shiva's penis and his potential and energy is almost identical to the connections between Vivec's will and MUATRA. Did you read that comment earlier for "earth became wet"? Hopefully that can help out here.

The Lingam, being a cosmic pillar that unites the heavens and the earth represents Shiva's ability and motivation to change his environment, and in this respect it is again identical to MUATRA. And again, like MUATRA represents Vivec, the Lingam represents Shiva himself. If it is a weapon, MUATRA is also broadly a powerful spiritual representation of Vivec. It's Freud's dreamstate symbolism, sure, but it could also physically resemble an actual spear without invalidating any of these concepts. The form of MUATRA changes as much as its usage, but it always remains the "signature", or mark(er), of Vivec.

This name is actually quite heavy with meaning. If MUATRA was purely phallic, and not vaginal, in nature, it would distribute milk, or sperm, not take it. Instead, Vivec's nature becomes as ze is: a combination of equal parts male and female. Perhaps hir phallic spear becomes a vaginal receptacle.

This becomes a key part of MUATRA's use as a weapon.

Over the remaining Sermons, Vivec will utilize MUATRA to destroy hir remaining eight children. But hir children don't simply die. Instead, MUATRA absorbs the "essence" of hir children, and by "essence" I of course mean their nature, represented in mysticism by sperm, or sometimes in the 36 Lessons as milk.

I'm not really sure if there's a connection to be made with breast milk at the moment. I'll edit this section if I find anything later.

Anyway, therefore MUATRA absorbs, or takes, or even steals, the essence of hir children that fell from hir during hir marriage to Molag Bal. It is a phallic weapon that operates vaginally. It doesn't become a vagina, it is both a penis and a vagina at the same time.

I should also like to take this opportunity to laugh at how amazingly cis-gendered mysticism can be, sometimes. "Vaginas are intended to receive sperm!" Right. Well, this is very old philosophy and religion we're talking about. Many of the earliest attempts at religion and myth started as explanations of the "miracle" of childbirth. I just think I'd have an easier time with this stuff if we could shift the language focus away from organs. But then again, discovering that scholars (ancient and modern) spend a lot of time contemplating their junk isn't a huge surprise. I can't get fifteen minutes into a conversation with a comic book nerd without the subject of Superman's wang coming up.

Apparently this is what happens when MUATRA takes your essence. The threatening progeny of a God dies, as is so often the case in real-world mythology. It's one of the earlier events in Greek mythology, actually, when Cronus eats his children.

With the destruction of hir children, Vivec sends a statement to the Gods: "As you are above, so will I become below."

Maybe this means that no other Daedra or Aedra have ever managed to create progeny through a Mortal. I'm not sure I can recall another time that such a thing has happened. I suppose you could suggest that Lamae Bal is the daughter of Molag Bal, but I think it would take an entirely new website to explain all the reasons why that's a bad concept.

Probably not the story you want to tell your kids before you tuck them in. "Watch out for Vivec. If you're naughty, he'll shove a spear in EVERY HOLE YOU HAVE."

Are we really supposed to respect Molag Bal's "love?" Not exactly. Our respect is shown by allowing Bal to be as he is, and not as we would want him to be. It does not require us to allow him to do whatever his Will demands to whomever he can get his claws on. Fight against those who would be your oppressor if it is your Will to do so, but do not ask them to change their nature.

Lesson Fourteen

Synopsis | Narration

Vivec lay with Molag Bal for eighty days and eight, though headless. In that time, the Prince placed the warrior-poet's feet back and filled them with the blood of Daedra. In this way Vivec's giant-form remained forever harmless to good earth. The Pomegranate Banquet brought many spirits back from the dead so that the sons and daughters of the union had much to eat besides fruit.

The Duke of Scamps came while the banquet was still underway, and Molag Bal looked on the seven pennants with anger. The King of Rape had become necessary and therefore troubled for the rest of time. His legions and Kh-Utta's fell into open war, but the children of Molag Bal and Vivec were too elaborate in power and form.

The Duke of Scamps therefore became a lesser thing, as did all his own children. Molag Bal said to them: 'You are the sons of liars, dogs, and wolf-headed women.' They have been useless to summon ever since.

The holy one returned at last, Vehk, golden with wisdom. His head found its body had been tenderly used. He mentioned this to Molag Bal, who told him that he should thank the Barons of Move Like This, 'For I have yet to learn how to refine my rapture. My love is accidentally shaped like a spear.'

So Vivec, who had a grain of Ayem's mercy, set about to teach Molag Bal in the ways of belly-magic. They took their spears out and compared them. Vivec bit new words onto the King of Rape's so that it might give more than ruin to the uninitiated. This has since become a forbidden ritual, though people still practice it in secret.

Here is why: The Velothi and demons and monsters that were watching all took out their own spears. There was much biting and the earth became wet. And this was the last laugh of Molag Bal:

'Watch as the earth shall crack, heavy with so much power, that should have been forever unalike!'

Then that stretch of badlands that had been the site of the marriage fragmented and threw fire. And a race that is no more but that was terrible at the time to behold came forth. Born of the biters, that is all they did, and they ran amok across the lands of Veloth and even to the shores of Red Mountain.

But Vivec made of his spear a more terrible thing, from a secret he had bitten off from the King of Rape. And so he sent Molag Bal tumbling into the crack of the biters and swore forever that he would not deem the King beautiful ever again.

Vivec wept as he slew all those around him with his terrible new spear. He named it MUATRA, which is Milk Taker, and even the Chimeri mystics knew his fury. Anyone struck by Vivec at this time turned barren and withered into bone shapes. The path of bones became a sentence for the stars to read, and the heavens have never known children since. Vivec hunted down the biters one by one, and all their progeny, and he killed them all by means of the Nine Apertures, and the wise still hide theirs from Muatra.

The ending of the words is ALMSIVI.