Tuesday, March 19, 2002

How Do Channellers Detect Other Channellers?



By BobH

This article examines when channellers can (and cannot) detect other channellers, and the mechanisms they use to do so. It also examines how channellers gauge the strength of other channellers. The article only deals with those channelling the One Power; those channelling the True Power are undetectable by other channellers, and are not discussed further.

Note that channellers and non-channellers alike can detect the result of someone channelling (and thereby identify that person as a channeller) either by 1) seeing the result of the weave (e.g. fireballs, lightning, etc.) or 2) feeling/sensing the result of the weave (e.g. being Healed, getting whacked with a club of air, etc.). This method of detecting channellers deserves mention, but is not discussed further. Only those methods that channellers (and Mat, via his foxhead medallion) use to detect other channellers are discussed below.


Definitions:

For the purposes of the article, channellers are divided into 3 general categories:

1. Inactive Channellers: Those who are neither actively channelling the One Power nor holding it. They include:

  • Those who have already learned to channel. Generally referred to below as "channellers".

  • Those who have never channelled before, but have the ability to do so on their own (e.g. Seanchan women who become damane). Referred to below as "sparkers" – i.e. those born with the innate "spark" to channel.

  • Those who have never channelled before, but have the ability to learn if taught (e.g. Seanchan women who become sul'dam). Referred to below as "learners".

2. Potential Channellers: Those who are holding the One Power but not actively channelling it.

3. Active Channellers: Those who are actively channelling the One Power. They include:

  • Those who are actively spinning a weave.

  • Those who are actively holding/maintaining a previously-spun weave. For example:

    Kneeling beside the girl [Nynaeve], Cadsuane laid the swallow on the ground beside her, took the girl's head in her hands and lessened the amount of saidar she was putting into the shield. Her abilities with Healing were no more than average, but she could wash away some of the girl's exhaustion at least without falling over herself. She was very conscious of the weakened shield over them, though, and she wasted no time in forming the weaves.

    - Winter's Heart, With the Choedan Kal

Note that active channellers do not include those who have tied off a previously-spun weave. Once a weave is tied off, its creator no longer has to channel the One Power to maintain it.

The article discusses how inverting or reversing weaves contributes to a channeller's ability to remain undetected by other channellers.

Inverting: The process of making a weave invisible after it has been woven, such that only the person who wove it can see it (see Weaves and Talents article).

Reversing: The process of making a weave invisible as it is being woven, such that only the person weaving it can see it.

The article also discusses various ter'angreals that are known to detect channelling. For more information on these ter'angreals, see Jewellery section of the Ter'angreal and Allied Items article.

Note that, for the purposes of the article, Aran'gar should be considered a male channeller since she channels saidin.


1. Detecting Inactive Channellers

a. Women Detecting Women: A female channeller can detect an inactive female channeller simply by being near her (within five or ten feet, according to The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time). She can "feel/sense" the other woman's ability to channel, without having to channel or hold saidar herself, provided the other woman hasn't masked her ability. Moiraine identified Egwene and Nynaeve in this manner when she arrived in Emond's Field (The Eye of the World Listen to the Wind).

Note that a female channeller does not have to see an inactive female channeller in order to detect her. When members of Elaida's embassy first met with Rand, Nesune was able to detect Egwene's presence in the room even though Rand had made her invisible with a weave of saidin (Lord of Chaos, Gifts).

A female channeller can also detect a female sparker simply by being near her. However, she cannot detect a female learner in that manner. Rather, she must "test" the woman for the ability to channel (The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time) by channelling saidar near the woman (typically a small flame), and then waiting to see if the woman feels the "resonance" of her flow. If the woman does, the tester is immediately aware of it, and knows the woman is capable of learning. Presumably, Verin and Alanna used this technique when they searched the Two Rivers for girls who could learn to channel (The Shadow Rising, Assurances).

In The Fires of Heaven, A Short Spear, however, Aviendha appears to be able to sense the ability to channel weakly in sul'dam. Nonetheless, this should be regarded as an exception to the rule. Firstly, Jordan has described those that have been sul'dam for years as being different from other learners in that they are brought right to the brink of being able to channel. The ad'am, for example, does not work on learners (only sparkers) and only works on those sul'dam that have been in the job long enough to come to the brink of being able to channel. Secondly, Aviendha is the only person in the series to have ever sensed that sul'dam are channellers without having to test them. Teslyn (who had spent time as a damane) was shocked to find out that sul'dam could channel, for example. It is quite possible that this observation is related to Aviendha's Talent of identifying the nature of ter'angreal, since she is also the only person to manifest this ability.

Note that women who mask their ability to channel must also invert the weave in order for the mask to be effective; otherwise, the weave itself would identify them as channellers to other female channellers.

All female Forsaken know how to mask their ability to channel and invert their weaves. Lanfear did so when she posed as Keille Shaogi while traveling with Rand and co. in the Aiel Waste; as did Moghedien when she posed as Marigan in Salidar; Mesaana whenever she meets with Alviarin; Graendal and Cyndane when they confronted Verin and Alivia respectively at the Cleansing; and Semirhage when she confronted Rand and co. at the manor in northern Altara.

The rebel Aes Sedai also know how to mask their ability to channel and invert their weaves, thanks to Moghedien, who taught Elayne and Nynaeve how to do both while she was held prisoner in Salidar (Lord of Chaos, The First Message). Egwene eventually taught the rest of the rebel Aes Sedai after Moghedien escaped (A Crown of Swords, A Pair of Silverpike).

Cadsuane and, presumably, those Aes Sedai with her at the Cleansing (and perhaps Alivia and Shalon as well) also know how to mask their ability to channel and invert their weaves, thanks, probably, to Nynaeve (Knife of Dreams, A Plain Wooden Box ).

b. Women Detecting Men: Female channellers have no way of detecting inactive male channellers unaided. However, Cadsuane has a ter'angreal (eight-pointed star) that enables her to detect if an inactive male channeller is nearby. It's unknown if the ter'angreal can detect male sparkers or learners, or if it can detect an inactive male channeller who has masked his ability.

c. Men Detecting Men: Unlike his female counterparts, a male channeller cannot detect an inactive male channeller simply by being near him (however, he can likely "test" an inactive male channeller for the ability to channel in the same manner as he tests male sparkers and learners (see below), provided (presumably) the other man hasn't masked his ability). Consequently, masking one's ability to channel is not as important for male channellers who want their ability hidden as it is for female channellers who want their ability hidden.

A male channeller cannot detect a male sparker or learner simply by being near him, either. Rather, he must "test" a man for the ability to channel (The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time). Specifically, he must channel saidin near the man (typically a small flame) and then wait to see if the man gives off a "resonance". If the man does, the tester immediately feels it, and knows the man is capable of learning. Taim demonstrated this technique to Rand when he tested Damer Flinn in Lord of Chaos, A Woman's Eyes.

It's unknown if the male Forsaken know how to mask their ability to channel, or whether it's even possible for a man to do so. This article assumes that it's at least possible, and that it affords the same level of protection for male channellers as it does for female channellers. Note that, like their female counterparts, men who mask their ability to channel would also need to invert the weave in order for the mask to be effective; otherwise, the weave itself would identify them as channellers to other male channellers.

Presumably, all male Forsaken know how to invert their weaves. Asmodean taught Rand how to invert his weaves (Lord of Chaos, Summoned in Haste), but it's unknown if Rand taught any of the Asha'man.

d. Men Detecting Women: Male channellers have no way of detecting inactive female channellers unaided. It's unknown if ter'angreals exist that would enable them to do so.


2. Detecting Potential Channellers

a. Women Detecting Women: A female channeller can detect a potential female channeller in two ways:

i. She can see a glow around the other woman, without having to channel or hold saidar herself, provided the other woman hasn't masked her ability.

ii. She can "feel/sense" the other woman holding saidar, without having to channel or hold saidar herself, provided the other woman hasn't masked her ability. Presumably, the more saidar the other woman holds, the farther away a female channeller can feel/sense it. It is unknown if a female channeller's own strength also plays a role in how far away she can feel/sense a potential female channeller, but it seems likely given that it does in how far away she can feel/sense an active female channeller (as discussed in the Detecting Active Channellers section).

A potential female channeller who has masked her ability does not glow, nor can another female channeller feel/sense her holding saidar, as Verin’s experience at the Cleansing demonstrates:

Using the full strength of her circle, she [Verin] wove her shield, and watched aghast as it rebounded. The woman [Graendal] was already embracing saidar, though no light shone around her, and she was immensely strong!

- Winter's Heart, With the Choedan Kal

b. Women Detecting Men: Until recently, female channellers had no way of detecting potential male channellers unaided. However, in Knife of Dreams, Call to a Sitting, the rebel Aes Sedai Nacelle demonstrated a new weave of saidar (one she apparently developed herself) that enabled her to detect Narishma holding saidin. It's unknown if the weave can detect a potential male channeller who has masked his ability.

Additionally, Cadsuane has a ter'angreal (two intertwined moons) that enables her to detect when a potential female channeller is nearby. The same ter'angreal (or possibly a different, unknown one in her possession) also enables her to detect when a potential male channeller is nearby. Presumably, the ter'angreal(s) can detect potential female and male channellers who have masked their ability.

c. Men Detecting Men: A male channeller can detect a potential male channeller in one way only - he can "feel/sense" the other man holding saidin, without having to channel or hold saidin himself, provided (presumably) the other man hasn't masked his ability. Presumably, the more saidin the other man holds, the farther away a male channeller can feel/sense it. It's unknown if a male channeller's own strength also plays a role in how far away he can feel/sense a potential male channeller.

Unlike their female counterparts, potential male channellers do not glow:

For a moment Taim only looked at him [Rand] expressionless; then the Power flooded into him. There was no glow such as women could see around one another, only a sense of force and menace, but Rand could feel it clearly, and judge it.

- Lord of Chaos, A Woman's Eyes

Consequently, it is much more difficult for a male channeller to identify a potential male channeller from among a group of men than it is for a female channeller to identify a potential female channeller from among a group of women.

d. Men Detecting Women: Male channellers can detect potential female channellers simply by being near them – they feel a tingling sensation (i.e. goosebumps) when a woman is holding saidar, provided the woman hasn't masked her ability:

"You can sense a woman embracing the source, Rand. Elayne is doing just that right now. … It doesn't matter what you see or don't see. You felt it."

- The Shadow Rising, Playing With Fire

Rand stilled a grimace before it could begin. His skin felt no tingling, no goosebumps. They [Cadsuane and Nynaeve] had masked their ability, and with it, shielded him from sensing the Power in them.

- Knife of Dreams, A Plain Wooden Box

Presumably, the more saidar a woman holds, the farther away a male channeller can feel it. It's unknown if a male channeller's own strength also plays a role in how far away he can feel a potential female channeller.

Additionally, Mat has a ter'angreal (foxhead medallion) that enables him to detect when a potential female channeller is nearby. The ter'angreal also (probably) enables him to detect when a potential male channeller is nearby, given that it detects when an active male channeller is nearby (as discussed in the Detecting Active Channellers section). Presumably, the ter'angreal can detect potential female and male channellers who have masked their ability.


3. Detecting Active Channellers

a. Women Detecting Women: A female channeller can detect an active female channeller in three ways:

i. She can see a glow around the other woman, without having to channel or hold saidar herself, provided the other woman hasn't masked her ability. Like a potential female channeller, an active female channeller who has masked her ability does not glow:

"One of them is channelling," Nynaeve said. … "I can't see anything, so she's masked her ability and inverted the weave – and I wonder how the Seanchan learned that! – but she's channelling."

- Knife of Dreams, A Plain Wooden Box

ii. She can see the weaves the other woman is channelling, without having to channel or hold saidar herself, provided the other woman isn't reversing her weaves (or actively holding/maintaining an inverted weave):

Then she [Verin] had no time for thought of anything as the golden-haired woman [Graendal] spun around and began channelling. Verin could not see the weaves, but she knew when she was fighting off an attack on her life, and she had come too far to die here.

- Winter's Heart, With the Choedan Kal

Presumably, all female Forsaken know how to reverse their weaves. In addition to Graendal doing so above, Cyndane reversed her weaves when she confronted Alivia at the Cleansing, as did Semirhage when she confronted Rand and co. at the manor house in northern Altara.

Shock lasted only the time it took her [Cyndane] to slice the other woman's [Alivia's] flows. She [Alivia] did not know how to reverse them.

- Winter's Heart, With the Choedan Kal

The only evidence of a non-Forsaken woman reversing her weaves may be when Leane turned half of the Southharbour chain to cuendillar. When the Tower Aes Sedai Melare reported what Leane did, she said:

"There was something strange, though. More than strange. We couldn't find the wilder [Leane], at first. We couldn't feel her channelling. There was no glow around her, and we couldn't see her weaves."

- Knife of Dreams, Embers Falling on Dry Grass

Melare's comments seem to indicate that Leane had masked her ability and actively channelled reversed weaves when she transformed the chain. However, an alternate explanation can be inferred from Egwene's thoughts immediately following Melare's comments:

"Clever Leane," Egwene muttered. … Leane had prepared everything in advance, before coming in sight of the harbour, all inverted and her ability masked.

- Knife of Dreams, Embers Falling on Dry Grass

Egwene's use of the word "prepared" (rather than, say, "planned" ) is of interest here. It seems to imply that, not only did Leane channel, invert, and tie-off the weave to mask her ability before she got to the harbour (which is undeniable – the Aes Sedai there never saw a glow around Leane), but she also channelled and inverted the weave to turn the chain to cuendillar before she got to the harbour. That is, she channelled and inverted (i.e. "prepared" ) everything that was needed prior to arriving in the harbour, to prevent detection. In which case, Leane simply held the cuendillar weave as she entered the harbour, and then placed it on the chain after arriving, maintaining it long enough to transform half of the chain before being caught.

If this interpretation of Egwene's thoughts is correct, then clearly the rebel Aes Sedai do not know how to reverse their weaves; otherwise, Egwene would have deduced that Leane had simply done that, rather than prepare the cuendillar weave in advance. Egwene appears to know nothing of reversing weaves. Both methods involve active channelling, so there's no reason to think that one method is more "stealthy" than the other.

iii. She can "feel/sense" the other woman actively channelling saidar, without having to channel or hold saidar herself. The more saidar the other woman is channelling, the farther away a female channeller can feel/sense it. A female channeller's own strength also plays a role in how far away she can feel/sense an active female channeller.
Sareitha was not strong enough to sense saidar being wielded at that distance. … She [Elayne] was not strong enough. Unless someone was using as much as they had on this hilltop.

- The Path of Daggers, The Breaking Storm

In rare instances, a female channeller feels a tingling sensation when another woman actively channels saidar (or, presumably, simply holds saidar).
As soon as the door closed the Amyrlin [Siuan] stood, and Moiraine felt a momentary tingle in her skin as the other woman channelled the One Power. For an instant the Amyrlin Seat seemed to her to be surrounded by a nimbus of bright light.

- The Great Hunt, Summoned

This tingling sensation occurs sometimes between women who train together in the White Tower, but usually fades away over time, as explained in New Spring:

A frown creased her forehead for a moment, and then Moiraine felt that small tingle again as the light of saidar briefly surrounded the other woman [Siuan]. Any woman who could channel could feel another wielding the Power if she was close enough, but the tingle was unusual. Women who spent a lot of time together in their training sometimes felt it, but the sensation was supposed to fade away over time. Hers and Siuan's never had. Sometimes Moiraine thought it was a sign of how close their friendship was.

- New Spring, Practice

Evidently, a female channeller cannot distinguish between a potential female channeller and active female channeller if she cannot see her.
"It's none of my business, of course," she [Vandene] said delicately, "but is there a reason you [Elayne] are holding so much of the Power? I thought you must be weaving something very complex when I felt you in the corridor."

- Knife of Dreams, A Bronze Bear

It's unclear if a female channeller can feel/sense an active female channeller who has masked her ability and is reversing her weaves (or actively holding/maintaining an inverted weave). The general consensus is that she cannot. And if she cannot, it's unclear whether it's because the other woman is masked, reversing, or a combination of both. It's quite possible that reversing only makes the weaves invisible, and that it's masking one's ability that prevents them from being felt. Considering that masking is what prevents others from feeling/sensing a woman holding saidar, it follows that masking is what prevents others from feeling/sensing a woman channelling saidar as well. It's also unclear if the situation depends on whether or not the other woman is using an angreal or sa'angreal.

Evidence that a female channeller cannot feel/sense an active female channeller who is masked and reversing:

First, Alviarin never feels Mesaana channel when they meet in the White Tower. And, it seems Mesaana does actively channel in Alviarin's presence - not only does Mesaana mask her ability and disguise herself for those meetings, but she also Travels to Alviarin's room and casts the room in shadows. While Mesaana may (and likely does) prepare tied-off, inverted weaves to mask her ability and disguise her appearance before Traveling to Alviarin's room, it's harder to explain how she could Travel to Alviarin's room and cast the room in shadow without actively channelling in Alviarin's presence. Note that Mesaana also showed Alviarin how to make a Gateway in one of their meetings (A Crown of Swords, Lightnings), which certainly required active channelling, but we are not privy to Alviarin's thoughts afterwards, so we don't know for sure if Alviarin was unable to feel Mesaana channel in that particular instance. Alviarin’s thoughts that the weave “appeared seemingly from nowhere” imply that Alviarin could see the weave at least, but sense nothing of the Power in the weaver.

Second, the Tower Aes Sedai at Southharbour never felt Leane channel, and Leane must have been actively channelling – either to reverse the cuendillar weave or to maintain an inverted one, since she was only able to transform half of the chain before being captured (a tied-off weave, if it had been possible to use, which it likely wasn't since apparently Leane didn't use one, would have been unaffected by Leane's capture). If Leane actively channelled reversed weaves, then clearly reversed weaves cannot be felt. But, even if she only actively maintained an inverted weave, then clearly actively-maintained inverted weaves cannot be felt, and therefore it can be inferred that reversed weaves also cannot be felt, since both involve active channelling and both, presumably, are equally stealthy.

Evidence that a female channeller can feel/sense an active female channeller who is masked and reversing:

The evidence centers around two instances when female channellers drew extraordinary conclusions about Halima/Aran'gar based on their inability to feel/sense her channelling saidar.

First, there is Moghedien, just before Halima/Aran'gar released her from the a'dam:

She [Moghedien] was struggling to speak, to say her name was Marigan, when suddenly she became truly aware of the light. A small glowing white ball, pale, hanging in the air near her head. With the a'dam on her, she could not do more than think of using saidar without permission, but she could still feel it channelled, see the webs woven. This time she felt nothing, saw nothing. Just a tiny ball of pure light. She stared at the woman who had called herself Aran'gar … A woman. But that ball of light had to be saidin!

- Lord of Chaos, The Answer

Second, there is Daigian, when Narishma informed the rebel Hall about a woman who channelled saidin. After Moria said that that's impossible, Narishma said:

"It might be impossible, but she did it. Daigian told us what Eben said, and she couldn't detect anything at all even while the woman was channelling. It had to be saidin."

- Knife of Dreams, Call to a Sitting

The thought process here is that, in both instances, a female channeller concluded that Aran'gar channelled saidin because she could not feel saidar being channelled while Aran'gar was channelling (if either had felt but not seen saidar being channelled, she certainly would have concluded that Aran'gar was reversing her weaves, so it's the lack of feeling something that seems to be the issue here). Implying that weaves reversed by women do not prevent other female channellers from feeling them, only from seeing them (and that both women are aware of this fact). Otherwise, both women should have drawn the much simpler conclusion that Aran'gar had masked her ability and channelled reversed weaves of saidar. Moghedien certainly knows about masking and reversing, and so should Daigian, given that she participated at the Cleansing where Forsaken women were noted to have done both.

Note that another possibility Moghedien should have considered is that Aran'gar channelled the True Power. And, later, Moghedien did consider it - in A Crown of Swords, Mindtrap, when Moghedien relived being freed by Aran'gar, she dismissed that possibility because she didn't recognize Aran'gar as a Chosen, and thought that few of them were fool enough to tap the True Power except in direst need.

b. Women Detecting Men: Nacelle's new weave (as discussed in the Detecting Potential Channellers section) can be used to detect active male channellers as well as potential male channellers. It can also be used to detect in what direction a man is channelling, but not what flows he is channelling (Knife of Dreams, Call to a Sitting). It's unknown if the weave can detect an active male channeller who has masked his ability and is reversing his weaves.

Additionally, Cadsuane's two intertwined moons ter'angreal enables her to detect when an active (or potential, as discussed previously) female channeller is nearby. The same ter'angreal (or possibly a different, unknown one in her possession) also enables her to detect when an active (or potential, as discussed previously) male channeller is nearby. Presumably, the ter'angreal(s) can detect active female and male channellers who have masked their ability and are reversing their weaves. Essentially, the two intertwined moons, perhaps in conjunction with one or more other ter'angreal in Cadsuane's possession, have the same abilities as Mat's foxhead medallion.

Cadsuane has another ter'angreal (swallow) that enables her to detect active female and male channellers at a distance close enough to threaten. It also indicates the direction the channelling is coming from, but not how far away it is, nor whether saidar or saidin is being channelled. It can detect active female and male channellers who have masked their ability and are reversing their weaves.

Nynaeve has a ter'angreal (ring with one pale green stone) that gives different vibrations depending on whether saidin or saidar is being channelled, even by channellers who have masked their ability and are reversing their weaves, but cannot yet be made to indicate the direction of the channelling:

One of her rings, set with a pale green stone that now appeared to glow with a faint internal light, seemed to vibrate continually on her finger though it did not really move. The pattern of vibrations was mixed, a reaction to saidar and saidin being channelled outside. For that matter, someone could have been channelling inside. Cadsuane was sure it should be able to indicate direction, but she could not say how.

- Knife of Dreams, The Golden Crane

c. Men Detecting Men: A male channeller can detect an active male channeller in two ways:

i. While active male channellers do not glow, a male channeller can see the weaves the other man is channelling, without having to channel or hold saidin himself, provided the other man isn't reversing his weaves (or actively holding/maintaining an inverted weave).

Presumably, all male Forsaken know how to reverse their weaves. Demandred did when he made Gateways to flee the attacks Cadsuane directed during the Cleansing.

It's unknown if Asmodean taught Rand how to reverse his weaves, in addition to how to invert them. Although, again, it may be that the two are so closely related that to know one is to know both.

ii. He can "feel/sense" the other man actively channelling saidin, without having to channel or hold saidin himself. The more saidin the other man is channelling, the farther away a male channeller can feel/sense it.

"I [Asmodean] felt your [Rand's] weave – anybody within a mile could have felt it – I never saw anything like it – I didn't know that anyone but Demandred could block a gateway that was closing."

- The Fires of Heaven, A Short Spear

And, when Rand used the Choedan Kal to remove the taint from saidin near Shadar Logoth (Winter's Heart, With the Choedan Kal), he channelled so much saidin and saidar that male and female channellers all over the Westlands (both Forsaken and non-Forsaken alike, even negligible channellers) were able to feel/sense it, and Travel directly to the location (in the case of the rebel Aes Sedai, several days later).

It's unknown if a male channeller's own strength also plays a role in how far away he can feel/sense an active male channeller, or if a male channeller can distinguish between a potential male channeller and an active male channeller if he cannot see him.

It's unclear if a male channeller can feel/sense an active male channeller who has masked his ability and is reversing his weaves (or actively holding/maintaining an inverted weave). The general consensus is that he cannot. However, Rand drew an extraordinary conclusion about Moridin (i.e. the third man in his head), based on his inability to feel/sense him channelling saidin when they met in Shadar Logoth:

He [Moridin] was using their so-called True Power. It had to be that. I [Rand/Lews Therin] felt nothing, saw nothing except his stream of balefire.

- A Knife of Dreams, News for the Dragon

The thought process here is similar to that used to infer that weaves reversed by women can be felt by other female channellers. That is, in this case Rand, through Lews Therin, concluded that Moridin channelled the True Power because he could not feel saidin being channelled while Moridin was channelling. Implying that weaves reversed by men do not prevent other male channellers from feeling them, only from seeing them (and that Rand is aware of this fact). Otherwise, Rand should have drawn the much simpler conclusion that Moridin had masked his ability and channelled reversed weaves of saidin. Rand should know about reversing, from Asmodean, from Lews Therin, or from Flinn's confrontation with Demandred at the Cleansing. And, he should at least consider the possibility that men can mask their ability, given that he knows women can.

d. Men Detecting Women: Male channellers can detect active female channellers simply by being near them – they feel a tingling sensation (i.e. goosebumps) when a woman is actively channelling saidar (just like they do when a woman is holding saidar), provided (presumably) the woman hasn't masked her ability. Presumably, the more saidar a woman channels, the farther away a male channeller can feel it. It's unknown if a male channeller's own strength also plays a role in how far away he can feel an active female channeller.

Note that male channellers have not yet discovered a weave that would enable them to detect active (and potential) female channellers, but they are working on it.

Some of the Asha'man were trying to puzzle out how to duplicate what Nacelle had created, to find a weave that would allow men to detect women's weaves, but so far without success.

- Knife of Dreams, A Plain Wooden Box

This would be useful since, presumably, it could be used to detect active (and potential) female channellers at a far greater distance than the goosebump sensation enables them to now, as well as detect in what direction a woman is channelling.

Additionally, Mat's foxhead medallion ter'angreal enables him to detect when an active (or potential, as discussed previously) female or male channeller is nearby. Presumably, it can detect active female and male channellers who have masked their ability and are reversing their weaves.


4. Gauging Channeller Strength

a. Women Gauging Women: A female channeller can gauge the strength of another female channeller precisely (regardless of whether the other woman is channelling or holding saidar) simply by being near her (within five or ten feet, according to The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time), without having to channel or hold saidar herself, provided the other woman hasn't masked her ability, or hasn't made herself appear weaker than she actually is.

A female channeller can gauge the potential strength of a female sparker in the same manner (The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time). And, she can gauge the potential strength of a female learner when testing her for the ability to channel (The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time). However, in both cases the gauging seems to be somewhat less precise than it is with experienced/trained female channellers. This can be inferred from the reactions of Moiraine and other Aes Sedai to Egwene, Elayne, and Nynaeve throughout the first few books. Early in the series, Moiraine and other Aes Sedai were a bit vague when stating/contemplating just how strong the three would become. But, as the three received more and more training (and became more and more experienced after the formal training stopped), the vagueness surrounding their potential disappeared. Another possibility is that Jordan firmed up his ideas as the series progressed.

Presumably, all female Forsaken know how to make themselves appear weaker than they actually are, although it has never been mentioned directly in the books. It has, however, been reported that Jordan said, at a booksigning in Washington DC, that "a channeller can hide strength as well as ability to channel, but that few people know how to do it and the Aes Sedai don't even know these tricks are possible" (from the WoT FAQ). Mesaana probably uses this technique in her alter-ego disguise in the White Tower, since it is likely she is masquerading as an Aes Sedai, and her full strength would give her away. Lanfear also would have used this technique when she masqueraded as Else Grinwell (who was known to be a novice at the time) in the White Tower in The Dragon Reborn, Scouting and Discoveries, Questions.

b. Women Gauging Men: A female channeller does not have a precise way of gauging the strength of her male counterparts. Rather, she must rely on comparing abilities and weaves in order to get some idea of a male channeller's strength relative to her own. For example, Egwene realized that she wasn't anywhere near as strong as Rand, when he was able to shield her and Elayne (and wield a dozen or so other flows) simultaneously (The Shadow Rising, Playing With Fire).

c. Men Gauging Men: Unlike his female counterparts, a male channeller cannot gauge the strength of another male channeller simply by being near him. Rather, he must either 1) observe how much saidin the other man can hold, or 2) evaluate the other man's abilities, such as how large a gateway he can make, in order to determine how strong the other man is:

"How strong are you?" Rand broke in. "Seize saidin. Do it. As much as you can hold." For a moment Taim only looked at him expressionless; then the Power flooded into him. There was no glow such as women could see around one another, only a sense of force and menace, but Rand could feel it clearly, and judge it.

- Lord of Chaos, A Woman's Eyes

"Why are you [Rand] still holding the Power?" he [Logain] asked suddenly. "And so much. If you're trying to show me that you're stronger than I am, I already know it. I saw how large your … your Deathgates were compared to mine."

- Knife of Dreams, Vows

But, these methods can be inaccurate, because the man being evaluated can hide his full strength simply by not grasping as much saidin as he can, or by not using his full strength to make a gateway, etc. Consequently, a male channeller can never be absolutely certain just how strong another male channeller really is.

However … there have been a few instances when a male channeller grasped or channelled saidin to the point of "straining" to reach his maximum strength, and a second male channeller sensed the strain and thereby concluded that the first male channeller had grasped or channelled as much saidin as he was capable of. In these instances, a male channeller was able to determine rather accurately how strong another male channeller was, but only because the male channeller in question was willing to reveal his maximum strength by straining to reach it.

Male channellers have no way of gauging the potential strength of male sparkers or learners, either:

For men, this step [the testing of men to see if they could channel] was only the beginning. It established only the possibility of touching the True Source. There was no way to tell how much potential ability an individual actually had. Only through training and experience could a man's strength and limitations become known, for with proper guidance the man's ability continued to grow until he reached those limits.

- The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time

d. Men Gauging Women: A male channeller does not have a precise way of gauging the strength of his female counterparts. Rather, like a female channeller gauging the strength of a male channeller, he must rely on comparing abilities and weaves in order to get some idea of a female channeller's strength relative to his own.


_________________________________________

Written by BobH December, 2005

Contributors: KCF, Linda, Onarishma, Dr Saidin








12 comments:

Neth said...

2005 was long enough ago that I don't recall the contribution I made - I assume that it was an on-going discussion that developed into a full article.

BobH said...

Yep, that's right. While I was working on the FAQ back in '05, I posted several questions on the wotmania MB re issues I wasn't certain of, and you (and Onarishma and Linda and Sidious) provided a lot of good (and much appreciated) feedback. In the completed form of the FAQ, I mentioned you all, and thanked you for your help. Linda cut that paragraph out, and listed you all as contributors. Which is fine by me - that's exactly what you were.

Joseph said...

Question:

I thought Mats medallion could only detect active channeling targeting the wearer.

BobH said...

Joseph,

Nope, that's incorrect. Here's a blurb on Mat's medallion, from the "Ter'angreal and Allied Items" article at this site:

The medallion goes cool when someone channels nearby (as does one of Cadsuane’s ornaments, see above) and icy cold when someone channels weaves of saidar (The Fires of Heaven, Gateways) or saidin (Halima in Lord of Chaos, The Colour of Trust) at the wearer. These weaves then unravel. The more power being channelled, either nearby or at the wearer, the colder the medallion gets (Knife of Dreams, A Cold Medallion).

Here are a few direct quotes from the books, that show/imply the medallion turns cool when it detects channeling not targeted directly at Mat:

ACoS ch.38: Gingerly, Mat fingered the medallion. It was cool. Not the cool of someone channeling nearby—maybe they were still at it below, but that was too far off—just the cool of silver.

CoT ch.1: The silver foxhead medallion beneath his shirt lay cold against his chest; not the cold that signaled someone embracing the Source nearby, just the accumulated chill of the night and his flesh too icy to warm it, but he could not stop waiting for the other.

CoT ch.28: In the downpour, they passed within ten feet without seeing him, but the silver medallion hanging beneath his shirt went cold against his chest. At least one of them was channeling, or holding the Power, anyway.

Essentially, the medallion detects channeling (either active channeling or if someone simply embraces the True Source) regardles whether it's directed at Mat or not, but it only dissipates weaves directed at him.

Fanatic-Templar said...

You know, I never thought of this before, but given the massive amounts of saidar and saidin used at the Cleansing, how could Cadsuane's Swallow ter'angreal point to the location of, say, Demandred's channelling, rather than consistently at Rand?

BobH said...

FT,

It's a good question, and RJ addressed it in the CoT Glimmers ebook Q&A:

Q: In the scene during which the taint is cleansed, Cadsuane uses a ter’angreal that detects the One Power being channeled and the direction it is coming from. She watches the ter’angreal, and when the enemy channels, she points, and someone attacks. Why doesn’t it point to the huge amounts of the One Power that Rand and Nynaeve are channeling – far more than the Forsaken are being pegged for?

RJ: Cadsuane’s ter’angreal was made during the Breaking of the World, at a time when men and women no longer linked, or at least very rarely, since male channelers were going mad at a rate of knots. What the maker was particularly interested in detecting was men channeling, but a man channeling in combination with a woman was, by definition, safe, because no woman was going to link with a man unless she knew absolutely that he was sane and not going to go over the edge into insanity while they were linked. Thus, saidin and saidar being worked in combination could be ignored, and in fact would be a distraction, since this was and is a warning device. Cadsuane’s ter’angreal won’t point to the two halves of the Power being wielded in combination.
That answer seems a little contrived to me, but it's not entirely unreasonable.

Linda said...

Bob:

That would mean then that if the Forsaken had (gasp!) cooperated and linked, the device would have ignored them and their chances of successfully making a hit would have increased greatly! What might have been...

Dominic said...

Eh, eh... exactly as RJ said... had they trusted each other enough to form a circle, they would have won.

I don't think RJ's explanation is 'contrived'. It stretches credibility that he would have forgotten not only Rand and Nynaeve's channeling, but also that of the circles in the woods. Cadsuane's device would have been useless, even dangerous, unless it could tell the circles from saidar and saidin wielded by the Forsaken.

Interesting that the nature of the OP is different enough when the two halves are combined that a ter'angreal can identify it. It has to be another "form" altogether of 'detection', because to channellers the two halves are still perceived the same way, and remain gender related (ie: no channeller can detect as such saidin and saidar wielded together)

I think it's more likely another example of RJ providing exposition about OP technologies and OP working if and when it suited him as a storyteller. He seemed terribly enthusiastic when he talked of the OP details in interviews etc., but as a storyteller he seemed a lot more careful with letting these interfere with the flow of the story. Other examples of this includes the workings of several *angreal, Mat's medallion and its side effects etc.

BobH said...

Linda, that's a great point!

Dom, I didn't mean "contrived after the fact", i.e. after the book had been published. I agree RJ would not have forgotten Rand & Nynaeve, nor the patrolling circles in the woods, as you said.

In fact, RJ had Cadsuane worry about the circles, in that scene. Here is the text:

A second golden bird, a swallow, hung from her hand by its thin chain. "There," she said, pointing in the direction it seemed to be flying. A pity she could not say how far away the Power had been channeled, or whether by a man or a woman, but the direction would have to do. She hoped there would be no ... mishaps. Her people were out there, too. If the warning came with an attack, though, there could not be much doubt.(Note that Cadsuane didn't dismiss the danger to her own circles. Also note that Alivia was NOT part of a circle, when she was patrolling.)

Rather, I meant "contrived" as in RJ devised an explanation beforehand that seems a bit ... contrary to established OP mechanics, in order for the plot to progress as he wanted it to. As you pointed out, other channelers cannot distinguish circles from non-circles, so defining a ter'angreal that can do so is a bit contrived, as I see it.

Honey said...

I think the most logical conclusion to draw about the a'dam's capacity to detect women's ability to channel is that it only works once you have channeled. Thus, Aes Sedai who only had the ability to learn to channel, and do so, could still be leashed in the end. This would explain why sul'dam don't get identified as marath'damane from the get go - their potential only manifests physically once they've begun training with the a'dam.

Taura-Tierno said...

"It might be impossible, but she did it. Daigian told us what Eben said, and she couldn't detect anything at all even while the woman was channelling. It had to be saidin."

I always thought that they assumed Aran'gar channelled saidin simply because Eben said so.

"Suddenly, Eben felt the blood drain from his face. What he felt was impossible! The green-eyed woman frowned in surprise, and he did the only thing that he could. 'She'ls holding saidin!' he shouted, and threw himself at her as he felt Daigian draw deeply on the Power."

I always thought that to be the main reason they assumed saidin was being used. If Eben hadn't sensed saidin, and stated that, wouldn't they just have thought the same as Verin did of Graendal? That they were fighting off weaves they couldn't see?

But I don't have an explanation about Moghedien's assumptions regarding Aran'gar. I do, however, really like the theory that reversing the weaves make them invisible, not undetectable, and masking your ability to channel makes people unable to sense them. Thus, you'd have to use both to completely hide your your channelling.

Linda said...

But the Aes Sedai don't believe anything the men say just like that and poor Eben was only 16. They took quite a while to believe that saidin was cleaned of the taint, even Corele (linked to Damer) and Merise (Narishma, who repeatedly said it was).

Narishma was making sure that the sceptical rebel Hall believed him by adding Daigian's (an Aes Sedai's) verification. He was right to do so: I doubt they would have believed what he said otherwise, and then that would call into doubt everything else he said...