The Sword is mentioned extensively in 13, where Vivec first teaches us about the Sword and its relationship to ALMSIVI. Of course, the 36 Lessons of Vivec were also intended to be skill books, so one of the requirements of many of the books is that they needed to have something to do with the skill they raised.

That's not to say there isn't a deeper meaning to this Sermon. In fact, the "scripture" lessons, 21, 23, 25, 27, 32, and 35 are all a "set" of Sermons that teach the fundamentals of Vivec's philosophy. We've already covered Sermon 21, the Scripture of the Wheel, which describes Vivec's perception of the nature of reality. This Sermon will describe Vivec's philosophy of the values of testing and strife, and warfare. In so doing, ze will reveal to us the second Walking Way to divinity.

In Morrowind, Sermon 23 grants a bonus to the Long Blade skill, unsurprisingly. It is worth 200 Septims and weighs 3 units. A copy can be found in the Practice Room at Ald'ruhn, and in the Temple at Gnisis.

Sermon 29 names this Sermon "The Hollow Prophet." Its number is 54, which references the word "own."

Once again Vivec refers to the adaptation and absorption of knowledge or power as "eating." But the Sword must be consumed carefully - its lessons are sharp. If you don't take care to delicately consume its lessons, the Sword will wound you badly.

This is a collection of symbols arranged so that they become art. Artists often utilize a collage to unite a sometimes unrelated collection of objects in a central theme. Using this technique, meaning can be suggested when the viewer thinks about the relationships between the objects in the collage.

From this we can assume that the Sword, when properly devoured, can be a collection of symbols that can be interpreted as lessons. This makes sense considering that the other Houses consider the Treasure Wood Sword, the inspiration for this Sermon's scripture, to be a "lessoning tune."

In this respect, the Collage is also a College. There. That's a free Dad Joke for you.

In The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, Carl Jung suggests that a person's life is divided into two halves. The first half is spent building your sense of personal identity, importance, and safety. It requires a break from support systems to build a sense of independence, the completion of trials or the passing of tests to build a sense of accomplishment, and the defeat of threats to build a sense of self-reliance and security. In the framework of the Hero's Journey, this is the "adventuring phase," when the Hero leaves home and tests his ability against the dangers of the world. This is the development and enablement of the Ego.

The second half begins when a person realizes that the heroic and powerful Ego that they display to the world is only the exterior, or container, of the True Self, which is much deeper, flawed, and still vulnerable. This person realizes that money, accomplishments, and health are not nearly as important as the satisfaction of the soul. To this end, the Ego changes roles and works in service to the True Self, to the soul, and a sense of inner peace.

We often see this transition in myths and tales of proud warriors who, one day, break their swords and retire from the world of adventure, retreating to the mountains or the woods to meditate, or work in service to a higher power. These characters are often perceived as being "grounded" and humble, even if they still retain great ability. The power of mythology tells us, subliminally, that these are more than just capable fighters - these characters are, in some way, enlightened.

However, their quests have not ended when they put down their swords. The transition to the "second phase" is marked by a sudden tension, a stressful urge to find satisfaction in a way they have never understood. Men and women in the real world often experience a sensation often called a "mid-life crisis," and this is exactly what Jung was explaining. It's an existential crisis, a crisis of existence. Why do we exist? What is our purpose? What is life for?

Some Elder Scrolls cultures, such as the Orsimer, seem to interpret this transition in their lives as the nearness of death. The Orc Umbra in Morrowind asks for an honorable death after he has grown tired of a life of adventure and victory. Clearly the transition to the second half of life is not settling well with this character.

Crowley sometimes compared a developed intellect to the use of a sword, specifically in terms of discernment - the ability to identify the separation of things. This of course serves everyone very early in life, since the ability to distinguish individual objects that are not one's self is a fundamental part of an infant brain's development. Thus, in early life, we must discover "I am separate from other things." But later in life, as a requisite part of spiritual progression, we must discover "I am a part of everything."

We cannot do the latter without first doing the former, even if the former seems to inhibit the realization of the latter. But the true secret of the Sword is this: the "cutting" that allows us to separate ourselves early in life is the same "cutting" that allows us to strip away our sense of ego to reach a true sense of ourselves and our connections to everyone else.

This term seems to bring to mind the idea of a meditating warrior, and any warrior of accomplishment who lives in the first half of life may be only a moment of rest and reflection away from the realization that will send him into the second half of life. When a warrior stops all movement and considers his nature, and his relationship to the world around him, it can sometimes result in that fateful moment of introspective awareness. There is also the ideal evoked by fortification, which I'd suggest should remind you of the image of an armored warrior. What is interesting to contemplate here is the idea of Vehk actually wavering whilst donning hir cancerian armor in Sermon 19, where the Provisional House was built... but with fear...

Vivec speaks of hir goal to construct Vivec City, a place of protection and culture where hir people, the House Dunmer, the worshipers of ALMSIVI, can live in peace. But Vivec's goal for hir city is not to create a land of luxury and excess.

Instead, Vivec intends to create a place where the people of Veloth can become better people. Or rather a City of desperate ideas, ideals, and contradictions… all while enabling its citizens to share a localized central identity. Both a physical city and an intangible culture. In much the same way desperate pieces of a psyche make up the intellectual identity of an individual, a City or State contains these compounding contradictory states towards its total identity… breaking upon the "law" of its shared self.

This is consistent with Vivec's description of hirself as "the killer of the weeds of Veloth'' in Sermon 13. Hir desire is to use the metaphor of the Sword to surgically remove the undesired flaws of Veloth and its people. This desire comes from a place of Love, of course, but also because Vivec's state of CHIM has revealed the Amaranth. So by extension, ze already likely has some idea of the strife that the children of Veloth will experience in the 5th era.

Vivec plans to improve hir people by using the Laws of Veloth to force them into behaving in a way that ze deems will be an improvement. Vivec argues in this and other Sermons that this is the obligation of a ruler. And a follower of Vivec's philosophy would argue that improvement through discipline should be a constant goal regardless.

In fact, this idea is something you more than likely already agree with. For more on this subject, try reading this essay.

This is Vivec talking hirself up. "Bled Pilgrims'' is a euphemism for virgin women. "Minor Spirits'' are little evil things that instantly evaporate simply from Vivec's awful presence. You get the idea. Vivec's a badass.

AE ALTADOON translates from Ehlnofex to roughly "I am a Useful Weapon," but I do mean roughly. The Third Law of Weaponry is just one of possibly many laws, but we don't have any of the other ones. It's very possible that they are the Vivec-themed equivalent to Sotha Sil's "The Law of Gears," but that's just speculation on my part.

Falling Awkwardly's "Metaphysics of Morrowind" suggested that "sleep holes" are a meta-reference to saving your game during combat so that you can continue playing at a later date. And by extension, the "immobile warrior" is the Player, who sits unmoving behind his controls while his avatar fights. This is a great interpretation, so good that I honestly can't get it out of my head. But I promised no meta-gaming analysis, so I'll do my best to approach it with a fresh perspective.

It's my suspicion that this is a reference to a zen-like state of meditation during combat, a trance not unlike the one Dervishes experience while conducting their whirling dance. So perhaps the lack of movement is all in the perception of the practitioner?

Alternatively, the "immobile warrior" could be creating tiny moments while fighting during which they can recover their strength, a feat made possible by moving so little that there appears to be no movement at all. This kind of efficiency in movement speaks to the famous stamina of practitioners of the Taoist internal arts.

The idea of a warrior that does not move is also another combination of contradictions that embodies the principle of the Enantiomorph, but I'm sure you already spotted that.

The armor here could thus be guarded against both outward danger, but also inward... a safeguard against risk of zero-sum due to fear, as without fear, armor and fortifications are unnecessary.

Instinct is something that was once said to separate man from animal, in the respect that a man can fight his instincts, while an animal cannot. This is outdated thinking, since we now have scientific evidence that both assertions are untrue. But from a metaphysics standpoint, instinct can be considered to be the communication of the divine inner-self to the conscious Ego, transmitted via emotion and involuntary action. Any communication between the Mortal and the Divine can be considered to be a miracle. More so because acting "with instinct" is acting without thought or ego.

Of course, luck and coincidence were defeated early in the Sermons. Many modern Western practitioners of Magic maintain that there are no coincidences, which means that every phenomenon is the result of a previous act of Will. Vivec asserts this as well, and suggests that hir favor (welfare) will determine the outcome of battle. Such is the suggestion of all Gods who wish for a warrior's praise.

Vehk's words in the Trial thread also hints at hir hands being "burnt black" in echo of hir Anticipation, Black Hands Mephala. In some Thematic practices, there is the idea of previous levels of enlightenment looping through one's Guardian angel into the current incarnation and helping into further spiritual journey through its communion. I've no way to tell the prevalence of this idea, but can only comment on its existence through a few sources.

Phrased differently, this is the lifetime of something that was never started in the first place. A "love of the absolute" is pointless, insignificant, and self-defeating. Vivec's always argued this, especially in the 36 Lessons.

This phrase is very reminiscent of Aleister Crowley, who suggested that the Buddhist concepts of mercy and kindness were antithetical to Thelema. Unfortunately, it seems to me that many Thelemites have leveraged this philosophy as an excuse to be cruel and indifferent to the suffering of other human beings. It doesn't help that Crowley's writings seem to clearly encourage that kind of selfish behavior.

The perceived idea of the initiated is likely to be that the idea of kindness or mercy onto another in a "golden rule" type of ideal is faulty, as treating those as one would like to be treated is a fallacy, as "one"and "all" are not separate entities, but rather the same. So by tearing "those" in means to tear them down, one can strip one's self of a self via "tearing one's self down"… even if just through selfish actions or metaphors.

Vivec's use of that language here seems consistent with hir behavior towards hir people. At the best, it can be construed as "tough, but fair." At the worst, it is simply malicious.

This is exactly what Dagon's Razor did for Mankar Camoran - it sliced off the chains of his ancestors and let him recreate himself.

Vivec suggests that the metaphor of the Sword is so powerful that it can cleave the very creation myths of the opposition. A similar power certainly seems to be at play when the Numidium undoes reality.

At its base, the intellectual sword is built from its foundations as the child learning within its family, within its village, within its city-state, within its country, within its continent, within this planet, within its solar system, etc… throughout time. These are the heaviest and earliest changes of hereditary identity that must be overcome to become without identity, or rather to be identified as "all."

Like many things, this reminds me of a metaphor leveraged by Jung in The Red Book to explain the experience of rejection. The torture by society of a rejected soul feels like expulsion to the desert. This metaphor is used to explain the importance of feeling "accepted" by the people around you. As Jung says:

"No culture of the mind is enough to make a garden out of your soul."

Though Vivec is exiled to the desert, ze does not feel the scorn of others. Therefore ze forms a bountiful garden in the midst of exile, strange flowering fruit in a desert of scorn, a lotus flower blooming among filth.

And perhaps Vivec is also testifying to hir dreadful past of crime and chaos. "I've experienced the worst of our society, yet now I'm its head."

Some of the Six Walking Ways are quite difficult to nail down, but the second isn't. Though fans sometimes refer to the Second Walking Way as "the way of the Sword" or similar, that isn't actually accurate. The Second Walking Way is warfare against flaws, trimming the fat, discipline, or "being cut into a better shape." This can be symbolized by a Sword, but that symbol implies an emphasis on fighting external forces. It's more accurate to say that the Second Walking Way must be used to defeat all foes, including yourself.

This "ancient road" is therefore a path that has been walked by many before Vivec, and many after. It is probably one of the most ancient paths, since self-improvement has always been a goal of anyone self-aware enough to identify their own flaws.

The size of one's hands symbolizes incredible strength. Not, you know, the other thing. That strength is both physical and mental, because discipline improves each. You must have the mental strength to maintain discipline and the physical strength to achieve it. And while the former may improve the latter, there is no moving forward on that ancient road without both.

Alternatively, along intellectual avenues, "Huge Hands" may be a strong intellect schooled and developed among many or strongly in single discipline. Arts, Science Language, Mathematics, Commerce, Culinary, Historical, Political, Religious, Sexual, and etc… The sharp mind is a sword forged to cut through all aspects of learned and unlearned aspects of learning, experiencing parts of culture, and avenues of study. Only the shapes of learned wit can cut through the disparate aspects, and determine the commonality between. Or one honed in a particular discipline carve through above the other authorities of that discipline.

If you remember Sermon Eleven, of course, you'll recall that Vivec takes a somewhat dim view of physical strength in the grand metaphysical scheme of things. The Second Walking Way is a legitimate path to divinity, but this path means little in the presence of God. Your hands may be huge, but cut them both off before facing God.

This is what I mean by the legitimacy of the Second Walking Way. If your strength of body and spirit are strong enough to use the Second Way to reach divinity, then you must surely be a being of immense ability, possibly even capable of poking the sun with only a stick. But though the Second Walking Way might make you divinely powerful, you are still powerless in the presence of the Infinite. And if the sun in this metaphor is God, then irritation is the best you can hope for.

So I suppose it all comes down to your own expectations. Is "divinity" absolute dominance over all of reality? Or would you rather simply become so impossibly powerful, so closely associated with your area of excellence that you transcend into the realm of legend, inseparable from the knowledge you now embody? The Second Walking Way might grant you the latter, but that path does not lead down to the former.

No matter how you choose to interpret the symbolism of The Sword in Vivec's lessons, it's obvious that the Second Walking Way involves intense levels of self-discipline and self-awareness. Perhaps the Second Walking Way involves removing all weakness so that strength may thrive, as is the duty of Vivec, the Gardener of Veloth. Or maybe it requires the elimination of all the things that separate oneself from others? Perhaps both?

Self-improvement is the name of the game, however. Internally, externally, or some combination of the two. The Second Walking Way is not a path of destruction, but renovation. Simple warfare is not the key, and if this Sermon seems to suggest that, it's because of how easy it is to misinterpret such complexity. This Sermon explains the importance of the "first half" of our lives, and by extension introduces the equal importance of the "second half." Without the self-improvement of the first half, we are ill-equipped to tackle the challenges of the second half. We have to gain wisdom, knowledge, skills, and stability so that we can be properly equipped by The Sword to face the larger existential problems we all must face. In other words, without learning the skills needed to conquer the challenges of existence, we can't conquer the challenge of explaining existence.

Hopefully at some point you may find yourself asking the infamous questions: What is life for? Why am I here? Why do I exist? The answer is only something you can reach with the help of the Sword. Just as everyone's life is different, every experience of life is different. And the answer to the infamous questions is: you must discover the answer for yourself.

Life is the most important challenge we will ever face. Like anything important, it is hard to do, and because it is the most important, it is the hardest. The answers to your questions can be found, but only through incalculable effort. Seek the assistance of friends, the support of family, and the lessons of myths, if you can. But in the end, that most important challenge is one we must face alone.

Isn't that always the way of all myths?

Lesson Twenty-three

Synopsis | Narration

The Scripture of the Sword, First:

'The sword, treated as a delicate meal, is the Symbolic Collage. It serves you well in the first half of life. Name one dynasty that knows this not.'


'The unity of my approach is understood by the immobile warrior. True eyes are acquired. Rejoice as my own subjects and realms. I build for you a city of swords, by which I mean laws that cut the people who live there into better shapes.'


'Girls burn their dresses on my arrival if I am armored. They crawl to me as bled pilgrims. Minor spirits die without trace. Follow me of all the ALMSIVI if you are to mark your days with killing. AE ALTADOON, the third law of weaponry.'


'The immobile warrior is never fatigued. He cuts sleep holes in the middle of a battle to regain his strength.'


'Instinct is not reflex action, but mini-miracles held in reserve. I am the welfare that decides which warrior will emerge. Beg not for luck. Serve me to win.'


'The span of the apparently inactivated is your love of the absolute. The birth of God from the netchiman's wife is the abortion of kindness from love.'


'The true sword is able to cut chains of generations, which is to say, the creation myths of your enemies. Look on me as the exiled garden. All else is uncut weed.'


'I give you an ancient road tempered by the second walking way. Your hands must be huge to wield any sword the size of an ancient road, and yet he who is of right stature may irritate the sun with only a stick.'

The ending of the words is ALMSIVI.