Elder Scrolls Lore Report: Psijic Endeavor, CHIM, and the Godhead?

Elder Scrolls Lore Report – CHIM, Psijic Endeavor, and…the Godhead?


Hold on to your butts for this one, it’s gonna get crazy. I have yet to preclude a report with this and am happy to say this one is the first to need so, but either way, before we begin, I have to inform everyone reading this: a large portion of the lore contained within this report is not technically canon. Whew, with that out of the way, let’s jump in.


Over the past few reports, I’ve been diving ever deeper into the cosmology of the Elder Scrolls. One of my first reports was on Aedra and Daedra – I don’t believe that one has made its way on the forge but it will eventually – a recent report was on Anu and Padomay as well as Anu-iel and Sithis, and not the last report, but just before that was on the Tribunal and their ascension to Godhood through CHIM. I realize now it is probably time to dive into what just might be the most convoluted and most confusing bit of Elder Scrolls lore that exists. So what is CHIM? Short answer: the final stage of the Psijic Endeavor. What is the Psijic Endeavor?




The Psijic Endeavor, despite its name, has nothing to do with the Psijic Order – in fact, the Order attests the Psijic Endeavor is a cardinal sin. The Endeavor is really a law or a charge placed on mortals that asks them to transcend their god that created them. The Chimer learned of this from Boethiah and Mephala sometime in the Merethic or possibly early First Era. In fact, in Morrowind, it is believed the Psijic Endeavor is closely associated with Lorkhan, the Missing God. The Endeavor forms the basis of the teachings from the prophet Veloth, who describes it as a process for apotheosis which manipulates time itself. The end goal of the Psijic Endeavor is to experience CHIM.


From Vehk’s Teachings written by Vivec

                What is the Psijic Endeavor?


The basis for the teachings of the Prophet Veloth, founder of present day Morrowind and father of Dunmeri culture. Veloth describes the Psijic Endeavor as a process of glorious apotheosis, where time itself is bent inward and outward into 'a shape that is always new'. Those who can attain this state, called chim, experience an ineffable sense of the godhead, and escape the strictures of the world-egg.


It should be noted that, while Veloth is given credit for establishing the anti-laws that govern the Endeavor, this process has its antecedents in the teachings of the Black Hands Mephala, Boethiah, Azura, Trinimac, and, of course, Lorkhan, through that lord's association with PSJJJJ.


What is "chim"?


From the Ehlnofex: an ancient sigil connoting 'royalty', 'starlight', and 'high splendor'. As with most characters of that dangerous language, the sigil CHIM constantly distorts itself. Those scholars that can perceive its shape regard it as a Crowned Tower that threatens to break apart at the slightest break in concentration.


Representations of the chim, and by extension the Psijic Endeavor, are always protean values, such as the anumidi models renowned by the Dwemer, the Scarab of contemporary astrolothurges, and the Striking ("exact egg-cracking") of old Argonia. All of these representations possess an innate and constant aspect of transformation.


What is the purpose of the Psijic Endeavor?


To transcend mortal boundaries set in place by immortal rulers. At its simplest, the state of chim provides an escape from all known laws of the divine worlds and the corruptions of the black sea of Oblivion. It is a return to the first brush of Anu-Padomay, where stasis and change created possibility. Moreso, it the essence needed to hold that 'dawning' together without disaster. One that knows CHIM observes the Tower without fear. Moreso: he resides within.


I am confused. What is the relationship of the Psijic Endeavor and the Tower?


Ah. Because from within one, you may regard the other.


That helps little. What examples of the Psijic Endeavor exist today?


The world you stand on is said to be the first attempt at chim. It is also admittedly the most famous. That it was choreographed by Lorkhan and ultimately failed is well-documented, but whether or not this failure was intentional is still disputed.


Wait. Why would anyone want to purposely fail the process of CHIM?


And this is the most-reached destination of all that embark upon this road. Why would Lorkhan and his (unwitting?) agents sabotage their experiments with the Tower? Why would he crumble that which he esteems?


Perhaps he failed so you might know how not to.


The piece itself is important as a whole, but I want to step back a second and isolate a single phrase, a small bit, from one of the latter paragraphs before we dive in to analyze everything,


It should be noted this is an archive of a larger post in the Elder Scrolls Forums. User Kurt Kuhlmann under the pseudonym Hasphat Antabolis, his in-game character in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind asked a bunch of questions on the Imperial Library which Michael Kirkbride took his time answering. The entire thread was collected and archived by Nigedo as The Road to Cyrodiil which was eventually published on the UESP Wiki as The Thief Goes to Cyrodiil which has now lead to the entire thing being archived on UESP and this snippet exists.


I digress. When Hasphat asked “…what examples of the Psijic Endeavor exist today?” Kirkbride responded: …[the] world you stand on is said to be the first attempt at chim. It is also admittedly the most famous. That it was choreographed by Lorkhan.


Lorkhan, one of the et’Ada, an original spirit, touted as the Missing God, attempted the Psijic Endeavor when he was building the material world. He projected himself into the Aurbis and witnessed the Tower. He saw the Wheel. And he failed to achieve CHIM. This is irrefutable proof that the Aedra, the Daedra, the et’Ada, the Earthbones, the Magne Ge, none of them are gods. They are worshipped as gods, but they aren’t gods. Elsewise, how could Lorkhan fail to achieve CHIM? I’ll get back around to this in a moment, but I want to backstep again and return to the report.




So, the overall goal with the Psijic Endeavor is to project into the Aurbis, which is the space outside all others – functionally, think of everything as a pool filled with water. If the water is Mundus and everything in it is the various planets and celestial bodies and the basin itself is Aetherius, then the space between the water and the pool is the Aurbis. It isn’t somewhere a normal person can even interact with directly, much less see. That is the basis of how the Psijic Endeavor works, that a mortal figures out how to interact with this space between all others. From the Aurbis, you can see the way the world and everything else are shaped, which looks like a Wheel, and the largest spoke in the center is the Tower.


Now, there are three things that happen when one manifests and witnesses the Tower and the Wheel. First, they are unmade – technically, this happens before witnessing the Tower; or, rather, during, as the process of reaching the Aurbis and the Tower is in your unmaking. Then there is the fight for control and understanding. The final thing can go two ways, depending on if you succeed in absorbing this knowledge of the Tower or if you fail. Before I discuss this, let’s talk about how you might fail.


Plain and simple, a mortal being witnessing the Tower is like an ant gaining the intelligence of a human being. It’s not that ants are dumb, it’s just that humans have a much grander scope of knowledge, and we know so much about things it didn’t even occur to an ant that it existed. Most ants would probably spontaneously combust gaining such knowledge in an instant, or at least go insane, which is what happens to those who fail when witnessing the Tower. They lose their sense of self, their individuality. The Tower becomes them instead of the other way around. So what happens when you lose yourself in the presence of the Tower?


Well, essentially, nothing. You get zero summed, which is exactly what it sounds like. You cease to exist. You don’t die, you no longer exist. You vanish, gone, forever. This is what may have happened to the Dwemer when the Heart of Lorkhan was activated on Numidium.


Now, if you succeed, you achieve CHIM – sometimes referred to as PSJJJ. You transcend your mortal boundaries set by immortal rulers, achieve a state of apotheosis, and can eventually become an Amaranth. Well, now we have arrived at a new question. What is an Amaranth? To answer this, we need to break apart the Aurbis and dissect its pieces, its gradients.


At the top is the Godhead, a schizophrenic dreamer – I’ll get to this – and in his mania, he split in two, creating Anu and Padomay, Order and Change, Stasis and Chaos. Anu and Padomay were never moving and yet never still, constantly whirling around each other, forming the Wheel and the Aurbis. Without going into detail – if you want, just read my Anu and Padomay report, there’s also a nice image I made for reference on what the Wheel looks like – they also split and became new, creating Anu-iel and Sithis, and from them came the et’Ada – which, at this point, I am comfortable revealing that this is an amalgam of Eight Aedra; bet you didn’t catch that one before!


Now, from the et’Ada, Aetherius and Oblivion came into existence. Lorkhan saw the limits of order and chaos, the limits of Aetherius and Oblivion. He traveled the Aurbis and saw the Wheel. He tricks the Anuic spirits into creating Mundus, a place that was the perfect mix of order and change. So now we have the next split – death and CHIM. When one fails to see what Lorkhan saw, they die and their souls are recycled in the Dreamsleeve – I’ll get back around to this one, too. And when one does see and proclaims “I exist” they attain CHIM.


Some believe CHIM is the final gradient. The last step of the Aurbis. It is not. It is simply the beginning of the end. One who achieves CHIM can become an Amaranth.

“You in the Fourth Era have already witnessed many of the attempts at reaching the final subgradient of all AE, that state that exists beyond mortal death. The Numidium. The Endeavor. The Prolix Tower. CHIM. The Enantiomorph. The Scarab that Transforms into the New Man.” (found on r/teslore pulled from the Imperial Library “Whirling School” in Loveletter by Michael Kirkbride




As we can conclude from the Loveletter, CHIM is merely another step on the ladder, it is not the peak of the mountain. It is simply a way for man to become Amaranth. So what is Amaranth? Recall earlier where I said that those that fail to exist in front of the Tower, the Tower becomes them? And those that succeed become the Tower? That’s the Amaranth. The New Tower. A Tower of You. The Amaranth is the New Man, the New Godhead at the Peak of His Own Tower. As Kirkbride puts it in Loveletter “…New Man becomes God becomes Amaranth, everlasting hypnogogic. Hallucinations become lucid under His eye and therefore, like all parents of their children, the Amaranth cherishes and adores all that is come from Him.”


The Amaranth becomes the schizophrenic dreamer. Or, rather, is the dreamer, as when the new Tower “becomes”, all others are “undone”.


Now, let’s jump a little more and talk about the Dreamsleeve. A rather obscure construct within the Elder Scrolls cosmology. Recall how I said the Aurbis is the space outside all others? What if there was another space outside even that? This is the Dreaming Sleeve, where all souls are recycled on death and spat back out in a ceaseless system of rebirth. It exists in all cultures and for all spirits, though everyone calls it something different. The Nords, for example, call it Sovngarde. Yes, the same Sovngarde in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim that the LDB enters to fight Alduin and not-destroy him – another report, when I finally decide to tackle Alduin, Akatosh, Alkosh, Auri-El, and Aka-Tusk – is actually the Dreamsleeve. It should be noted that, user Proweler on the Bethesda Softworks Forums (now eternally immortalized in the Imperial Library archives) said that Sovngarde translates roughly into common as “Sleeve of Dreams”. This is an unofficial translation and might not even be accurate.


The Daedra call it “the Waters of Oblivion”. The Argonians are reborn by the Hist. Redguards go to the Far Shores. In-game lore contradicts this when LDB enters Sovngarde where Alduin claims lordship in a place ruled by Shor. Now, obviously, the game can’t go into full detail and has to make the experience fun for the player, so amenities are made for an enjoyable moment, but the truth is that Sovngarde is technically not real, it is merely the manifestation of a dead Nord’s soul projecting while being recycled. The LDB’s ability to enter the Dreamsleeve without being dead implicates interesting theories, such as who the LDB really is and if they achieved CHIM to enter Sovngarde, but that’s neither here nor there and is entirely headcanon at best, baseless postulation at worst.


So, when anything dies, its soul is sent to the Dreamsleeve, recycled, and then returns to a new vessel. For Daedra, their bodies reconstitute and they come back exactly the same as they once were. For all other creatures, according to Mankar Camoran “…mortals leave the dreaming-sleeve of birth the same, unmantled save for symbiosis with out mothers” and he also states that being abandoned by your mother that dead mortal souls enter Mehrunes Dagon’s plane, which is part of the basis behind The Elder Scrolls: Battlespire. In fact, in Battlespire when Dagon’s forces invade Nocturnal’s realm of the Shade Perilous on their way to the Battlespire, Nocturnal’s Lieutenant Jaciel Morgen despaired and extricated herself from Oblivion and cast her soul directly into the Dreamsleeve, causing all the other Daedra to fall into a half-sleep. They were half gone, half present and completely unresponsive. When her servant Deyanira Katrece sacrificed herself, Morgen awoke and the other Daedra did as well.


10154807276?profile=RESIZE_584x(Jaciel Morgen sleeps while her soul is in the Dreamsleeve, as seen in An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire) 


As for the schizophrenic dreamer, the Godhead from which all things come, this is where things get even weirder. The Godhead, for all intents and purposes within the Elder Scrolls universe, is the one God. The running theory is that the Elder Scrolls is a dream. Hence the existence of the Dreamsleeve. I could go on about how various events within the games and existing lore further prove Elder Scrolls is a dream, but I won’t. Instead, you can have fun devouring this: Michael Kirkbride's Detailed Texts Have fun, and good luck.


10154808862?profile=RESIZE_710xBack to the Godhead. A sleeping god dreams of order and chaos, creating Anu and Padomay. He dreams of their dissent, becoming Anu-iel and Sithis. He dreams of eight Spirits, the et’Ada. He dreams of the Aurbis. He dreams of Mundus. Everything he dreams, becomes, yet also doesn’t, because it is dream. For him, it is real. For us, it is real. This had lead many to wonder if the Godhead is less an actual entity within Elder Scrolls and actually the man who dreamt the Elder Scrolls


And now that we finally understand that The Elder Scrolls is nothing but a dream, we can finally discuss what CHIM really is.


CHIM is the awareness that everything that is real is not. Reddit user u/Iorith describes it perfectly. If the Elder Scrolls is an equation and your existence is 1, when you reach the Aurbis, you realize you are not real, and the equation becomes 1 + (-1), to which the answer is almost always zero, which is a zero-sum and you cease to exist in the Dream.


Think of it like this: 1 (I exist) + (-1) (I’m not real). As aforementioned, normally you get 0, zero-sum, and vanish from the Dream. But when you get anything other than zero, you achieve CHIM. It’s the difference of “this is all a dream, I do not exist” versus “this is all a dream, I can control it”. Someone who achieves CHIM has begun the process to become the Godhead and create his own dream. It’s like playing with console commands. You can do anything now. Or, better yet, like playing a game in sandbox or with editor functions enabled.


Achieving CHIM gives a person nigh-infinite power over their own reality. The final step – becoming Amaranth and the New Man – is to figure out how to manipulate all of reality. There is one fundamental drawback to achieving CHIM. Most lose their ambitions. They realize nothing is real which means everything is pointless. Of the two known to have achieved CHIM – Vivec and Tiber Septim – neither took advantage of their new power. Vivec himself even helped the Nerevarine unmake him while Septim built the Empire and united the races of Tamriel under one banner. Further to support, it is believed that those who achieve CHIM lose all will to be terrible for fear too much will change and the Godhead will awaken, ending the Dream, which would mean the end of their existence, even if it is false. Which is the entire point of CHIM is to become aware that you aren’t real but still recognizing that you are. Those that fail to understand this blip out of existence, or, as they say nowadays, become dusted (like Thanos dusted).


10154809854?profile=RESIZE_710xAs for what CHIM itself actually is, it is the secret syllable of royalty. It is the state of being at which you escape all known laws and limitations of reality. It is the epiphany of nature of the universe and one’s place within it. When Mankar Camoran wrote the Commentaries on the Mysterium Xarxes, Book Three, he begins the book with CHIM which is CHIM in Daedric. “…CHIM The Tower touches all the mantles of Heaven and by its apex one be as he will. More: be as he was and yet changed for all else on that path for those that walk after…” He even talks about mortals becoming makers and makers becoming mortals, which is the Amaranth. He talks about the Walking Ways, the Six Paths to Divinity, how to mantle the Aurbis, of which achieving CHIM is the fifth step. When Lorkhan walked to the end of the Aurbis and turned around, he saw the Wheel and the Tower and learned the name of God: I. His desire to create Mundus was to help the other spirits achieve CHIM, which failed. Vivec himself has said Lorkhan failed on purpose so that all those that followed would know how not to fail, which I’ll touch a bit more on in a moment.




So, what do you think? Is the Godhead Todd Howard? Or is it someone else in another place of the real world? Or is the Godhead an actual figure within the Elder Scrolls. I leave you to decide for yourself.


Before I go, I want to jump back to Lorkhan now that we understand a lot more about the Aurbis, CHIM, and the Dreamer. Before he tricks the other spirits into building Mundus, he manifests in the Aurbis and witnesses the Tower. He fails – on purpose and we’ll get to that – to be recycled and find a way to make the perfect world, thereby creating Mundus. As an immortal entity capable of reaching the Aurbis, it is definite proof that the spirits, though possibly divine, are not gods. When the Tribunal reached their Apotheosis and Vivec himself actually achieves CHIM, they three understand this. Sotha Sil even laughs at Azura. In their thousand plus years as divine, they did more for the world of mortals than any of the spirits other than Lorkhan did, which is weird to think about. The spirits created Mundus and everything in it and since then, best they’ve done is attempt to destroy it several times – Molag Bal nearly succeeded with the Planemeld and Mehrunes Dagon with the Oblivion Crisis also came pretty close. The Triune, however, rebuilt their people, stopped Lorkhan from returning through Dagoth Ur, helped Septim build the Empire by not fighting him. Sotha Sil even sought to create a new perfect world until he came to the conclusion that it was not possible – or, at least, he wouldn’t be able to with the time he had left, since he had foreseen his death at the hands of Almalexia.


So, to have Lorkhan able to fail CHIM really resets the view of Aedra and Daedra. Now, as for why Lorkhan purposefully failed, there are a lot of theories. For one, when he saw everything was a dream, because death didn’t exist yet, he knew he would survive – or, rather, knew he would remain – and used the opportunity to create the perfect blend of order and chaos through Mundus. It’s also possible he knew he would mantle the Godhead and become the Dreamer and he didn’t want to do that. Or, possibly the most fun theory, is that he failed so others could learn how to succeed. Keep in mind Lorkhan was responsible for Mundus and Nirn, for the most part, and the other spirits populated it – Trinimac with the Orsimer, for example, before he was unmade and remade into Malacath. Lorkhan has always been for the material world. It would make sense that he would want mortal creatures to transcend, which is the entire purpose of the Psijic Endeavor.


10154809453?profile=RESIZE_400xOne last interesting tidbit. In The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn, we learn of Hermaeus Mora’s Black Books. Specifically, the Black Book Waking Dreams is actually about the Psijic Endeavor, CHIM, and the Dreamer. The eyes, on ebleached by falling stars of utmost revelation, will forever see the faint insight drawn by the overwhelming question, as only the True Enquiry shapes the edge of thought. The rest is vulgar viction, attempts to impose order on the consensus mantlings of an uncaring godhead.


I think I’ve prattled on about Lorkhan and other long enough, and it is an interesting thought, to be sure. I’ll see you guys next time with a much more specific report on The Night of Tears as requested by Furrion.

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Fimvul is the current master of the Skyforge Library. Interested in the Elder Scrolls from a young age, he has been diving headfirst into the richer aspects of the lore of the series for over a decade. With years of experience and research under his belt, he hopes to enlighten his readers with the wondrous mystery that surrounds the Elder Scrolls universe.

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