The elven pantheon comprises five gods and four goddesses, whom the modern Dalish elves refer to as "the Creators." The pantheon is led by Elgar'nan the All-Father, god of fatherhood and vengeance, and Mythal the Protector, goddess of motherhood and justice. There are also references in elven mythology to another race of gods, called "The Forgotten Ones," the enemies of the elven pantheon. It is said that Fen'Harel was the only one able to walk freely between the two clans, and they both thought of him as one of their own.
Interestingly, though the elven gods are responsible for the gifts of the world, and in some cases for recreating it, they too were created by and are not creators of the world according to elven belief. Their current location is uncertain, as they are not apparently able to interact with the mortal world. However, elven belief holds that the Fade, or Beyond as it is known to the elves, is considered a holy place and the gods are trapped there in the "Eternal City."
- See also: Elves#History
The elven pantheon was revered in the time of Elvhenan, before the humans came to Thedas. Little is known about how the gods were worshipped at this time except that the gods had temples with guards in specially made armor, the elves worshiped their gods for months at a time, and that worship may have included rituals involving water and kneeling and praying before altars.
Once the elves found that the very presence of the humans, or "quicklings," caused the once immortal elves to age and die, they attempted to isolate themselves. Many believed that the gods had judged them unworthy of their long lives and cast them down among the quicklings. The elves retreated within Elvhenan but were ultimately conquered and enslaved by the Tevinter Imperium. During their centuries of slavery, the elves lost most of their language and history and the worship of the old elven pantheon declined. However, the elves, led by Shartan, stood beside Andraste in her fight against the Imperium, and their reward was a new home in The Dales, where the worship of the elven pantheon could be revived. The elves left Tevinter for their new homeland in -170 Ancient (1025 TE).
The elves' new homeland was to be short-lived by the standards of Elvhenan, however. Over the next 270 years or so, relations between the elves and their human neighbours deteriorated, and in the early Glory Age there were numerous border skirmishes between The Dales and Orlais which soon escalated into war. When it appeared that the elves might actually capture Val Royeaux, the Chantry called for a holy war, resulting in a new Exalted March against The Dales that completely crushed the elves by 2:20 Glory. The lands of the Dales were appropriated by Orlais, with elven settlements being uprooted and worship of the elven gods forbidden. Elves who accepted the Chantry's offered truce were required to accept the Maker and live in ghettos, known as Alienages within human settlements. Some elves, however, refused to give up their worship or their dream of their own homeland, and they became the Dalish.
Elgar'nan: God of Vengeance Edit
—From Codex entry: Elgar'nan: God of Vengeance
Elgar'nan--also known as the All-Father, the Eldest of the Sun and He Who Overthrew His Father--represents fatherhood and vengeance, and leads the pantheon with the goddess Mythal. He was the first of the elven gods, born of the sun and the earth. According to elven legend, the sun grew jealous of the favor shown by Elgar'nan for the things of the earth, and so burned them to ashes. In retaliation, Elgar'nan threw the sun down from the sky, and only later relented because of Mythal's intervention. He was convinced, with her help, to restore his father to the sky on the promise that the sun would set each night. With the aid of Mythal and his parents, Elgar'nan remade the world. Most elves will invoke Elgar'nan's name when they need to destroy something.
Mythal: the Great Protector Edit
—From Codex entry: Mythal: the Great Protector
Mythal, the Protector and the All-Mother, is the patron of motherhood and justice and leads the pantheon with her male counterpart, Elgar'nan. In elven legend, when Elgar'nan threw the sun out of the sky in vengeance for burning the earth to ashes, Mythal calmed him and helped him see that he was wrong. Elgar'nan was convinced to free the sun. On the first night after the sun was released Mythal created the moon, from the glowing earth round its bed, to be placed in the sky as a pale reflection of the sun's true glory. Elves will invoke Mythal's name when they require protection.
Falon'Din: Friend of the Dead, the Guide Edit
—From Codex entry: Falon'Din: Friend of the Dead, the Guide
- O Falon'Din
- Lethanvir--Friend to the Dead
- Guide my feet, calm my soul,
- Lead me to my rest."
- --from Elven Prayer for the Dead
Falon'Din is the elven God of Death and Fortune and guides the dead to the Beyond. He and his twin brother, Dirthamen, are the eldest children of Elgar'nan the All-Father and Mythal the Protector and were inseparable from birth. Their first separation came when Falon'Din found an old and sickly deer in the forest and gathered her up into his arms and carried her to her rest beyond the Veil, where Dirthamen could not follow.
Since then he has guided elders on journeys of enlightenment while in Uthenera, and later swore to guide all creatures beyond the Veil when they died. Falon'din's husbandry of the dead has taken on additional meaning since elves have become mortal.
Dirthamen: Keeper of Secrets Edit
—From Codex entry: Dirthamen: Keeper of Secrets
Dirthamen is the twin brother of Falon'Din. He is the elven god of secrets and knowledge, and master of the ravens Fear and Deceit, having outsmarted them both. Dirthamen gave to elves the gift of knowledge and taught them loyalty and faith in family.
There are several elven legends involving the Keeper of Secrets. In the days before Arlathan, the first varterral was formed from the fallen trees of the forest to guard an ancient city said to be beloved by Dirthamen. Another tale says that he gave each creature a secret to keep. However, the hares shouted their secret to the treetops, the birds sold theirs for gold and the foxes traded their secret for wings. Only the bears kept Dirthamen's secret, so the bear is considered beloved of Dirthamen.
Andruil: Goddess of the Hunt Edit
Hear me, sons and daughters of the People--
I am Sister of the Moon, Mother of Hares,
Lady of the Hunt: Andruil.
Remember the Ways of the Hunter
And I shall be with you.
—From Codex entry: Andruil: Goddess of the Hunt
Andruil is the elven Goddess of the Hunt, creator of the Vir Tanadahl or Way of Three Trees. First, the Vir Assan, or Way of the Arrow: fly straight and do not waver. Second, the Vir Bor'assan, or Way of the Bow: bend but never break. Third, the Vir Adahlen, or Way of the Forest: together we are stronger than the one. The hawk and the hare in particular are beloved of Andruil. Andruil watched over the animals of the forest and taught elves to respect them.
Sylaise: the Hearthkeeper Edit
—From Codex entry: Sylaise: the Hearthkeeper
Sylaise, the Hearthkeeper, is seen as the sister of Andruil the Huntress. Sylaise gave the elves fire, taught them how to weave rope and thread, and to use herbs and magic for healing purposes. In her youth, Sylaise stayed at the home-tree to sing and create art while Andruil hunted and played. Her path is called the Vir Atish'an.
June: God of the Craft Edit
—From Codex entry: June: God of the Craft
June is the elven Master of Crafts, and brother to Andruil and Sylaise. He taught the elves to make all needful things, and in particular used Sylaise's gentle lessons to the elven people to teach them how to make bows, arrows, and knives to hunt Andruil's gifts. Elven legend tells how, before Sylaise came to teach them the use of fire and June to teach them to fashion bows and knives, the elves wandered the forests without purpose, eating only the berries and nuts they could find and shivering naked through cold nights. It is said that he created himself.
Ghilan'nain: Mother of the Halla Edit
—From Codex entry: Ghilan'nain: Mother of the Halla
Ghilan'nain is called the Mother of the Halla--white deer-like creatures revered by the Dalish and used to pull their aravel, or "landships"--and goddess of navigation. Ghilan'nain was once a mortal woman and beloved of Andruil. She was betrayed by an elven hunter and left for dead, only to be transformed into a Halla and offered apotheosis for her devotion to animals. Ghilan'nain is invoked when the Dalish wish to travel quickly.
Fen'Harel: The Dread Wolf Edit
—From Codex entry: Fen'Harel: The Dread Wolf
- "You know what the Dalish say to their dogs? “Take the Dread Wolf by the ear if he comes.""
- "Long ago, a clan lived on the Silent Plains. It was a terrible, lonely place where the sun was forbidden to shine. Their Keeper had a coursing hound. They had run down deer and hares and wolves together when they were young. But they had grown old together, Keeper and hound, and now only dozed before the campfire, dreaming of hunts."
- "But then the Dread Wolf came, for the Keeper was wise and kind—the things Fen’Harel hates above all else. At night, he tried to steal into the Keeper’s dreams, to twist his mind and turn him against the People. But even in dreams, the courser guarded his master. He caught the Dread Wolf’s scent and gave chase across the Fade."
- "Fen’Harel tried to shake his pursuer, but the hound ran as coursers can only run in their dreams. Even the wind couldn’t have fled that hound. He ran the Dread Wolf down and grabbed him by the tail! Fen’Harel howled, so loud that the Veil shook and even the stars scattered in fear. But the hound wouldn’t let go."
- "Neither hound nor Wolf gave in. Finally, Fen’Harel bit off his own tail to escape, and away he fled. Ever since, the Dread Wolf thinks twice about playing his tricks when dogs are on guard."
Fen'Harel is also known as the Dread Wolf, He Who Hunts Alone, Lord of Tricksters, Roamer of the Beyond and Bringer of Nightmares. He was known as kin to both the Creators and the Forgotten Ones. His supposed betrayal of both clans of gods by sealing them away in their respective realms, never again to interact with the mortal world, is sometimes used to explain why the elven gods did not intervene to prevent the fall of Arlathan. Indeed, Fen'Harel has allegedly never been fond of the elven people and is said to have spent centuries in a far corner of the earth after his great deception, hugging himself and giggling madly in glee.
This deceit itself--known as the "Great Betrayal"--is sometimes described as a truce suggested by the Dread Wolf, and other times as a hunt by the Creators and Forgotten Ones in the Heavens and the Abyss, respectively, for a blade Fen'Harel promised would stop a war. It may even have been a bid by Fen'Harel to rule the Fade himself without the interference of the other elven gods.
Statues of Fen'Harel are set facing away from any Dalish camp, as a reminder that the Dalish must always be wary. Despite this, Fen'Harel is reputed to continue to interact with elves, sporting with them or dispensing dark knowledge at his whim. He is also known to gleefully patrol the Fade, feasting on the souls of the dead.
Despite Fen’Harel’s reputation, he has been known to be invoked to express dismay at unexpected events ("By the Dread Wolf!"), to demand the annihilation of an enemy (“Dread Wolf take you!”), and as a wary farewell (“May the Dread Wolf never hear your steps”).
The Forgotten Ones Edit
- See also: The Forgotten Ones
—From Codex entry: Fen'Harel: The Dread Wolf
There are references in elven mythology to another race of gods: gods of evil, with whom the gods of the elven pantheon fought an endless war. These gods are now known as the Forgotten Ones, and for good reason as even the hahrens, or elven elders, know little to nothing about them. According to legend they, along with the elven pantheon, were trapped away from the world at around the time of the fall of Arlathan.
Vallaslin: Blood writing Edit
- Main article: Blood writing
—From Codex entry: Vallaslin: Blood Writing
When a Dalish elf comes of age, they are marked with intricate tattoos representing one of the elven gods. The tattooing is preceded by meditation on the gods and the ways of the Dalish, and by purifying the body and the skin. It is not known whether this practice was part of the worship of elven gods in ancient Elvhenan or is a more recent development.
- It is interesting to note that both elves and humans have legends of imprisoned gods. However, there is no known link between the stories of the Old Gods and those of either the elven pantheon or the Forgotten Ones.
- Fen'Harel is referenced, by way of a malevolent artifact, in the live-action series Dragon Age: Redemption. In it the artifact, the Mask of Fen'Harel, is stolen in hopes of sundering the Veil.
- Fen'Harel is referenced in Codex entry: The Emergent Compendium.