Thursday, February 28, 2002

The Tao of the Pattern

By Linda

This essay discusses the strong foundation of Taoism in Wheel of Time philosophy.

Topics covered include:

Cycles and Patterns of Change
Complementary Forces: Yin and Yang
Five Powers
One Power as Elixir of Life
True Power as Elixir of Death
Using the One Power Virtuously

Cycles and Patterns of Change

The Tao is the order of nature; a force flowing through everything including life.

The Tao is constantly changing and chi [cosmic energy] circulates throughout the universe. But all is not chaos; there is an underlying harmony and pattern.

- Peter Marshall, The Philosopher’s Stone

Taoists believe in the cyclic nature of time and the universe. They accept the way of nature, that of impermanence and variation, and live with and adapt to the change, letting nature take its course. In Taoism, there is no deity or creation of the Universe. Balance is the heart of Taoism: the idea that nothing exists without its opposite and that opposites are only the ends of a continuum. The Wheel of Time world is also a world of opposites, but it needs to regain the balance that is so necessary for the proper functioning of the Pattern. The books are all about the necessity of balance.

Time is cyclic in The Wheel of Time, cycling without end from the moment of creation. There is a Great Pattern to Time, a design into which the threads of lives, things and events are interlaced to form the whole of existence and reality, past, present and future, even other dimensions and other possibilities (The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time). The major difference between Jordan’s world and Taoism is the existence of a deity who created the Wheel of Time universe, and another deity, the Dark One, who aims to undo this creation; for a discussion on Wheel of Time theology, see Theology essay. The fact that the two deities oppose and complement each other is Taoist.

The Pattern itself is neither good nor evil. In keeping with the theme of Taoistic balance, it is:

a Pattern in which light and dark, good and evil, male and female, and life and death struggle for balance within the weave of destiny.

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

As Moiraine says:

”The Wheel of Time weaves all lives into the Pattern, all actions. A Pattern that is all one colour is no pattern. For the Pattern of an Age, good and ill are the warp and the woof.”

- The Dragon Reborn, Within the Weave.

The Wise Ones advise people to accept their place in the Pattern, and, by going with the flow, find happiness:

"The Pattern does not see ji'e'toh," Bair told her, with only a hint of sympathy, if that. "Only what must and will be…You must learn to ride fate. Only by surrendering to the Pattern can you begin to have some control over the course of your own life. If you fight, the Pattern will still force you, and you will find only misery where you might have found contentment instead."

- The Fires of Heaven, Among the Wise Ones

Certainly the three ta’veren worked this out:

Try to run away, and the Pattern pulled you back, often roughly; run in the direction the Wheel wove you, and sometimes you could manage a little control over your life.

- The Fires of Heaven, After the Storm

Going with the flow and adapting to change in this manner is the Taoist philosophy.

Anything we do will inevitably create its own opposite. To succeed in life, according to Lao Tzu, we should step back and permit this balancing to take place…

- Annellen Simpkins and C. Alexander Simpkins, Simple Taoism: A Guide to Living in the Balance

This necessity of balance is shown repeatedly throughout the series, from the balancing of opposites, be they light and dark or male and female, to the existence of opposite weaves. The Ogier even incorporate the philosophy into their politics:

”An argument must have opposition if it is to prove itself”

- A Memory of Light, Into the Thick of It

Room for balance is provided and the change brought about by the resolution of opposites accepted.

When you let be, circumstances stop being a problem…Allow matters to take their natural course and the struggle of resistance lessens.

- Annellen Simpkins and C. Alexander Simpkins, Simple Taoism: A Guide to Living in the Balance

Rand equated willing surrender with being in a box. He thought the solution to enduring his fate was to be unemotional and deliberate when killing (The Gathering Storm, A Force of Light).

He would be harder, now. He understood how. Where he had once been steel, he became something else.
From now on, he was cuendillar. He had entered a place like the void that Tam had trained him to seek, so long ago. But within this void he had no emotion. None at all.
They could not break or bend him. It was done.

- The Gathering Storm, The Last That Could Be Done

The Dark One and Ishamael/Moridin forced Rand to do evil with the One Power and the True Power to break him and the Land—destroy the force of good. The darker Rand became, the fewer positive events in the Pattern (The Gathering Storm, A Promise To Lews Therin). A Taoist would predict that the harder Rand becomes, the more unbalanced he becomes, but also the more likely he would be to be pressed into the other extreme. And we saw this in Towers of Midnight, where Rand was Buddha-like or Jesus-like straight after this epiphany. It might seem logical that if Rand refuses to do any bad thing at all, this would twist events strongly in favour of the Light. But he cannot go too far. When Rand made a world where there was no evil in his battle with the Dark One, people were vapid and childish from the lack of choice in their lives. Rand had to learn to walk the middle path. Jordan wasn’t understating the case when he said balance is necessary; if his world gets sufficiently unbalanced reality breaks apart, as we saw in A Memory of Light. Rand also showed the Dark One that while he is a major source of good, he is not the only one and in fact it was the nobility of the people which inspired Rand to resist, and then defeat, the Dark One.

During much of A Memory of Light, only good events happened around Rand as he counterbalanced the efforts of the Dark One:

But, you see, I get only one side of the coin these days. Someone else is doing the bad. The Dark One injects horrors into the world, causing death, evil, madness. But the Pattern . . . the Pattern is balance. So it works, through me, to provide the other side. The harder the Dark One works, the more powerful the effect around me becomes."

- A Memory of Light, To Die Well

Complementary Forces: Yin and Yang

The Tao divides into the two fundamental principles of yin and yang:

Yin and yang [are] the two poles that set the limits for the cycles of change…All manifestations of the Tao [everything] are generated by the dynamic interplay of these two archetypal poles.

- Fritjof Capra, The Turning Point

They are two complementary forces operating in the universe which ebb and flow like a wave.

- Peter Marshall, The Philosopher’s Stone

The passive principle yin is represented by the tiger, darkness, water, and woman, and the active principle yang by the dragon, brightness, fire and man.

In Jordan’s world,

the True Source [or One Power] is made up of two complementary parts: saidin, the male half, and saidar, the female half. Each has separate properties and affinities, working at the same time with and against each other,

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

to provide the driving force that turns the Wheel of Time.

Saidar is yin-like in the way channellers must passively surrender to it to use it, and saidin is yang-like in having to be actively seized to be used. Appropriately, saidin users usually weave fire, a yang attribute, easily, and saidar users water. The Dragon (a yang symbol) is one of the strongest male channellers.

While some see yang as the stronger since it is ‘active’, others see it as weaker than yin, because it is changeable. Similarly, new channellers often think that Fire and Earth, powers saidin users are generally strong in, are more powerful than Water and Air. However, Aes Sedai say:

"There is no rock [earth] so strong that water and wind cannot wear it away, no fire so fierce that water cannot quench it or wind snuff it out."

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

Neither saidin nor saidar is stronger than the other, just different, and both are equally necessary for order and balance. Just as neither yin nor yang exists without its opposite, so neither saidar nor saidin exists without the other. Each channeller, no matter how strong, can only access half the True Source; no one can ‘have it all’. Cooperation is essential.

The ancient symbol for Aes Sedai in the Age of Legends, when both powers were used in balance, is a borrowing of the Taoist yin yang symbol (although with the colours reversed; saidar (yin) is white, not black, and yang is black, not white as it is in the Taoist symbol). The yin yang symbol represents balance: when yin and yang are present equally, there is order and calm, when one outweighs the other, there is disorder and confusion. Chaos versus order…sounds familiar. Consequently, this balance between yin and yang is much sought after in Taoism and is vital in the Wheel of Time world too. The Dark One thrives on disorder, and with the tainting of saidin and the unbalancing of the usage of the One Power, was able to throw the world into disarray, ending one Age and derailing another. Rand is prophesied to conquer under this symbol; his victory will restore balance to the Pattern and prevent the Dark One from taking over. Jordan deliberately left the dots of the yin yang symbol out to symbolise that his world is out of balance; the dots symbolise that within the depths of each power is the seed of the other. While most readers accept the absence of dots quite readily, in Taoist or Buddhist thought the lack is not far short of an abomination.

Moghedien observed that Moridin liked to combine opposites in seemingly conflicted or impossible ways (A Memory of Light, Prologue).

The dragon is one of the most powerful yang symbols and in The Wheel of Time; he counters the excess yin, the lack of creation, of the Shadow. It must be emphasised that yin is not evil, nor is yang, but an extreme excess of one or the other can cause destruction and suffering. As stated above, balance between the two brings order and well-being to the world. For three thousand years, saidin was too dangerous to be used thanks to the taint, so channelling was too yin: passive and unchanging. This is exemplified by the Aes Sedai, who have changed very little, clinging to custom and passively waiting on events in their own exclusive city, even preferring potential novices to come to them. With such an imbalance, it is not surprising that Rand is so yang.

Rand is not the only yang, or solar, character: Aviendha and Elayne are two other positive yang characters, while Graendal and Sammael are negative examples of yang characters. Golden or red hair is a physical manifestation of solar qualities, whereas dark hair and an affinity for dreams or the night are lunar characteristics. Egwene and Perrin are positive yin or lunar characters and Ishamael and Lanfear are negative yin characters. Ishamael/Moridin is rarely seen outside in the sun, or in broad daylight; which was why Rand forcing the sun to shine on Moridin in his dream had such significance symbolically. Moridin’s excess of yin increased his susceptibility to despair and nihilism; and thus, his early surrender to the Shadow.

Rand’s battle and stalemate with Egwene over the Seals (the unbalanced yin yang symbols!) was an example of yang and yin being exercised in an uncooperative manner. (Jordan may have meant this scene to look back to the contention between Lew Therin Telamon and Latra Posae Decume, which resulted in him making the yang strike on Shayol Ghul and the Dark One making channelling more unbalanced and extremely yin. However, Rand and Egwene were quite brattish in this scene.) Their impasse was resolved by Moiraine, the person who trusted the Pattern and the necessity for balance the most.

The number six is the most yin number, and it is no coincidence that this is the number of Forsaken remaining on the Day of Return. Conversely nine is the most yang number, and nine leaders of the Light fought these six Forsaken best or most closely: Rand, Mat, Perrin, Lan, Aviendha, Nynaeve, Moiraine, Egwene and Min. (For those who could argue against Min, she exposed Moghedien and deduced how to trap Moridin with Callandor).

Five Powers

In Taoism:

all substances in the universe are composed of five ‘elements’. The five elements do not refer to five kinds of basic matter as in the Western notion of the four elements (fire, earth, air and water) but to five sorts of processes. The ‘elements’ are not passive, but five powerful forces in ever-flowing cyclical motion. It was thought that when the five elements were aligned and associated in symbolic correlation, everything else in the universe would fall into a fivefold arrangement.

- Peter Marshall, The Philosopher’s Stone

Similarly, there are five elements in the Wheel of Time universe, and Five Powers of the One Power to manipulate (not create) them:

There are five different threads to the One Power, known as the Five Powers. They are named according to the elements their energies manipulate: Earth, Air (sometimes called Wind), Fire, Water and Spirit.

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

A channeller can use these Powers to create things, eg a sword from Fire, or a club from Air, or set the conditions right for fire to occur, but not create the elements themselves.

As Egwene realised, every weave has its opposite, even the dreaded balefire:

That isn't the way it works, she thought. Two sides to every coin. Two halves to the Power. Hot and cold, light and dark, woman and man.

If a weave exists, so must its opposite.

M'Hael released balefire, and Egwene did . . . something. The weave she'd tried before on the cracks, but of a much greater power and scope: a majestic, marvelous weave, a combination of all Five Powers. It slid into place before her. She yelled, releasing it as if from her very soul, a column of pure white that struck M'Hael's weave at its center.

The two cancelled one another, like scalding water and freezing water poured together. A powerful flash of light overwhelmed all else, blinding Egwene, but she could feel something from what she did. A shoring up of the Pattern. The cracks stopped spreading, and something welled up inside of them, a stabilizing force. A growth, like a scab on a wound. Not a perfect fix, but at least a patch. …

The two streams of power sprayed light against one another, the ground around M'Hael cracking as the ground near Egwene rebuilt itself. She still did not know what it was she wove. The opposite of balefire. A fire of her own, a weave of light and rebuilding.

The Flame of Tar Valon. …

Somehow Egwene knew that the Flame would have had much less effect on a person who had not given himself to the Shadow.

- A Memory of Light, The Last Battle

and Taim was actively channelling the True Power. The weaves were extreme opposites.

Jordan’s characters often travel in a Taoist fashion, by apparently moving the world around them rather than moving themselves: in the waking world, channellers Travel by either bending the Pattern and boring a hole in it, or by making two sections of the Pattern identical, and in Tel’aran’rhiod, the world moves around the person as they will.

Tao is bottomless yet empty; the heart of things, of life. Immortality is found in the emptiness. From the emptiness springs usefulness. The empty space within a cup makes it useful because without the empty space within, a cup cannot be filled.

- Annellen Simpkins and C. Alexander Simpkins, Simple Taoism: A Guide to Living in the Balance

Emptiness, the void, makes access to the One Power easier. Women empty themselves of emotions and open to the Power to be filled with saidar. Men put themselves mentally within the void and seize saidin.

The One Power is life, and brings longevity, though not immortality. Some channellers are tempted by the Dark One’s offer of immortality and go over to the Shadow. However, Ishamael found the immortality of the Dark One to be emptiness.

One Power as Elixir of Life

Channellers feel comparatively empty when they release the One Power. Perhaps because saidin and saidar stem from the Creator, they have the effect of enriching the lives of those who use them, and also increasing their longevity and well-being.

Longevity is a major concern of Taoists who:

sought to prolong life and were fascinated by youth. They believe there are techniques that can not only arrest the process of aging but can also recover the physical condition of youth.

- Peter Marshall, The Philosopher’s Stone

Some Taoists were/are alchemists, seeking either a chemical elixir or a spiritual technique that will maintain health, arrest aging and prolong life. (The balance between saidin and saidar is also equivalent to the alchemical wedding—the union of polar opposites—that European alchemists tried to achieve to form the philosopher’s stone, the elixir that would prolong life or restore youth (see Alchemical Symbolism essay) and is where the two philosophical systems meet).

In Jordan’s world, channelling the One Power has the effect of an elixir of life. Channellers live far longer than non-channellers and age more slowly, with all the diseases and conditions that come with aging—grey hair, weakened muscles, cardiovascular disease, dementia, or loss of fertility and libido—being greatly delayed. The stronger the channeller, the greater their resistance to disease as well as aging (The Wheel of Time Companion).

Channelling not only slows aging, but those who begin to channel late in life begin to look younger to a degree. For example, 67-year-old novice Sharina will still lead a long life now that she has learnt to channel, but she will live it out as an older woman. On his blog, Jordan explained further:

As an aside, I saw somewhere that I supposedly said that Sharina Melloy will not grow younger. If I did, then I misspoke. Sharina will not grow young, but she will grow younger in appearance, as will any other older women who begin to channel. For Sharina, by way of example, she will "regress" into apparent middle age, but no younger.

Jordan’s words indicate that Sharina, having undoubtedly gone through the menopause, will not regain the ability to bear children. There are limits to the One Power ‘elixir’—after all, channellers are attuned to only one half of the One Power.

Why have we not seen men who began channelling late in life, such as Damer Flinn, look younger? Perhaps slowing takes longer to manifest in men, or maybe an old man’s appearance has been unimportant amongst Rand’s group compared to the rush of events, or else Flinn’s just stuck with some very unobservant people. :P

Channellers feel more alive while channelling or even holding the One Power, while those channellers who are cut off from the Source feel lifeless. After Siuan was healed from stilling she told Nynaeve:

“You gave me back… my life. As simple as that. I had convinced myself I wasn’t dead, but it certainly seems so compared to this.”

- Lord of Chaos, To Heal Again

In contrast to the One Power, the Dark One’s True Power corrupts the body and mind, destroying eyes and mouth and perhaps more, and causing extreme addiction to its painful ecstasy, and eventually a horrible death.

True Power as Elixir of Death

The True Power is the dark elixir, the elixir of death, antagonistic to the Creator’s elixir of life. The One Power is universal, and in the Utopian Age of Legends was available to all through the standing waves, whereas the True Power is exclusive—granted to a favoured few—and is a poisoned chalice, since although it, or proximity to it, kept the Forsaken alive in the centuries they were sealed in the bore (Robert Jordan at a booksigning), it is ultimately lethal.

The saa are the stigmata of the True Power, and only the Naeblis used enough True Power to gain them. A mouth and eyes of fire are later stigmata. The Dragon also had stigmata—the brands on his hands, the wound in his side and also his heel. (His dragon tattoos proclaimed him Car’a’carn.) The Champions of the deities were linked in Shadar Logoth (birthplace of a third power inimical to both) when channelling a weave of the same purpose with opposite powers. The Dragon was forced to channel the exclusive power of the Dark One, and the Naeblis forced to contribute the True Power to protect the Dragon and the One Power as they sealed the Dark One away.

The Light won a conclusive victory by using the Dark One’s own champion against him. It seemed to me that while Moridin objected to being seized and used, he did not struggle over much—did not try to stab himself, or move away. Perhaps he soon accepted the resealing as a chance for oblivion?

The True Power is extremely unbalanced, being barely restrainable in what it does, as Demandred warned Taim. It is used in secret and only by grace of the Dark One—a selfish Power. If all power corrupts then the True Power is named true all right. It corrupts truly and absolutely; or truly corrupts absolutely.

Rand balanced the lure of the True Power he could draw unaided with the vast amount of One Power he could pull through the Choedan Kal:

He was not certain which of the two sources of energy was more dangerous, but as long as both called to him, he was able to resist both.

- The Gathering Storm, Into Bandar Eban

This shows how addictive and tempting the True Power is.

And what is the True Power ‘truly’ but power without responsibility (no one else but the Dark One knows when or how it is channelled) or empathy/compassion (there is no feeling of awe or heightened sensitivity to the universe)?

If saidar and saidin are channelled in a balanced fashion, and the True Power bound to buffer it, then the Dark One can be defeated and order and harmony restored.

Using the One Power Virtuously

In Taoism, each person’s chief task is the development of virtue. The three virtues to be cultivated are compassion, moderation and humility. A sense of humour also helps to keep a person humane.

In the Age of Legends, the Aes Sedai and their Da’shain did cultivate compassion, moderation and humility as they served the community. Aes Sedai in the Third Age pride themselves on accepting things as they are and accommodating change (as Taoists do) but largely abandoned developing the three virtues, and once they reached the shawl, no longer had time for the humour they saw as Accepted. Some Aes Sedai made a show of humility in an arrogant manner:

Sometimes sisters set themselves penances, in order to maintain the proper balance between pride and humility—that balance [is] much prized… many sisters [make] a haughty display of submission to the greater will of the Aes Sedai, an arrogant showing of their lack of arrogance. The pride of humility, Siuan [calls] it.

- A Crown of Swords, An Oath

but this only shows how far they drifted from the ideals of the Age of Legends. Aes Sedai were feared more often than respected. Damane are feared so much that they are completely humiliated and then enslaved into perpetual humility by those who could learn to channel. Compassion, moderation and humility are virtues all the channellers, all the once and future Servants, must have as they truly serve the community, and deserve their trust.

Finally, Taoism has some wise words for Rand:

It is the way of the Tao,
that things which expand might also shrink;
that he who is strong, will at some time be weak,
that he who is raised will then be cast down,
and that all men have a need to give,
and also have a need to receive.

- Classical Taoist text


Written by Linda, December 2006 and updated October 2013 and September 2019

Contributor: Old Salt


By Linda

In The Path of Daggers, Deceptive Appearances, Moridin lists three adult board games he knew of: sha’rah, no’ri (stones), and tcheran. This article explains what we know of Tcheran.

Tcheran is not much mentioned in the Wheel of Time series, so we know little about it. It has not been played so far on the mainland, so perhaps, like sha’rah, it may not have been played since the Age of Legends.

Semirhage claims to be an indifferent player of tcheran, but she lists three types of pieces in the game: High Counsellor, Counsellors and Spires. She likens the Forsaken to Counsellors and Spires—important pieces, but ones the Dark Ones is prepared to manipulate and sacrifice.

The Chosen were no more than pieces on the board; they might be Counsellors and Spires, but they were still pieces.

- Lord of Chaos, Threads Woven of Shadow

The High Counsellor is a prized piece in the game, perhaps essential to winning. It appears that the piece is not removed from the board if captured, but forced to become part of the captor’s force.
And one daring way to capture your opponent’s High Counsellor and turn it to your side was to sacrifice your Spires in a false attack.

- Lord of Chaos, Threads Woven of Shadow

Since the Spires are dispensable, they probably rank below the Counsellors in importance.

Therefore the ranking of the three types of pieces we know of, from highest to lowest, is: High Counsellor, Counsellors and Spires. The terms High Counsellor and Counsellor imply that there is also some sort of ruler or monarch piece. Plus, there are other, lower, pieces as yet undescribed. Both sides appear to have the same type of pieces.

Real World Parallel

The game tcheran is probably most like chess - there are similar pieces and tactics.

The capture of an opponent’s High Counsellor in tcheran by sacrificing Spires in a false attack, is similar to the classic strategy in chess where the bishops are sometimes sacrificed to capture the opponent’s queen.

Therefore the likely correspondence between tcheran and chess of the pieces described is:

High Counsellor – Queen
Counsellors – Rooks (Castles)
Spires – Bishops

However, in tcheran, the opponent’s High Counsellor can be turned to the captor’s side, rather than removed from the board as in chess. Again, Robert Jordan appears to have changed a real world game to create a game that mirrors the situation in his world.


Written by Linda, April 2004

Ter'angreal and Allied Items

By Linda

This series of articles will detail what we know about the various objects in the Wheel of Time world that use the Power for a particular purpose: what they do, how they are activated, their whereabouts, etc. Most of these objects by far are ter’angreal, but Portal Stones also belong in this category. Other objects such as stasis boxes may use the Power in some way to work, since the Power is at the heart of creation and drives the Wheel of Time universe. These objects, and others, will all be discussed in turn.


Ter’angreal (TEER-ahn-GREE-ahl) were/are made to do specific things. Most were made in the Age of Legends and for many of these their original purpose has long been forgotten. Over the years, a considerable number of Aes Sedai have been killed or burned out trying to discover the function of ter’angreal. Only a small percentage of the Tower’s ter’angreal are currently used and these usages may be nothing like the purposes their makers intended (The Great Hunt, The Testing). Some sisters of the Brown Ajah have made ter’angreal their life’s study (The Dragon Reborn, Punishments). The most recent of these was Martine Janata, who began soon after she reached the shawl and continued for over 40 years until she was accidentally burned out more than 25 years ago (The Path of Daggers, Unweaving). She was very cautious, unlike Elayne, yet still came to grief.

While some ter'angreal require channelling to work, others will work simply with the presence of any woman who can channel. It is likely that many ter’angreal can be used with either saidin or saidar, but we have not seen any man attempt to use one. Certainly, Portal Stones can be used by either men or women (Rand and Lanfear, for instance), and the defense system jewellery ter’angreal respond to either saidin or saidar. The male access key is the only ter’angreal attuned to saidin that we have seen. There are even ter’angreal that will function for anyone at all, channellers or non-channellers (The Great Hunt, The Testing) and ter’angreal that are activated by certain kinds of singing (Knife of Dreams, A Different Skill). In the Age of Legends, there were ‘standing flows’ which enabled ter’angreal that would otherwise require the Power to be used by non-channellers (Crossroads of Twilight, A Mark).

Ter’angreal vary greatly in size and can be so immense that they require men and horses, or even the Power, to move (The Path of Daggers, A Quiet Place). Many, but not all, are unbreakable except with the One Power (The Path of Daggers, Threads). A few are cuendillar and can’t be broken at all.

Ter’angreal are of varying strength (Robert Jordan’s Aes Sedai notes(). With those that require channelling, a channeller with insufficient strength may be trapped by the ter'angreal and be unable to break free. If they aren’t strong enough to make the ter'angreal work fully, it may work partially, or it may force them into drawing more of the power than they can handle, resulting in full or partial burnout or death. (This may be what happened to Martine Janata, and also why Elayne has so far remained unscathed from her experiments).


Very few ter’angreal in Aes Sedai possession "perform the same function" (The Path of Daggers, An Unwelcome Return). This is more a reflection of the comparative rarity of ter’angreal in the late Third Age (and of which the Tower has only a modest sampling) than anything else. In the Age of Legends, there were multiple versions of ter’angreal. For instance, we now know of two Oath Rods/binders. Ter’angreal with commonality (some similarity in function) are probably not that rare in the Third Age. However, since Aes Sedai know the function of few ter’angreal, and probably use many of the few they know about in ways different to that which was intended, it would indeed be rare for any commonality to show up.

Commonality can cause resonance, a dangerous situation. When Egwene was tested for Accepted, she left the twisted ring dream ter’angreal in the room where the Accepted ter’angreal was. Both ter’angreal are linked to Tel’aran’rhiod. The resonance built up to such a level that the ter’angreal being used, the Accepted ter’angreal, tried to either shut off the flow from saidar (possibly a built-in safety device) or melt. It took double the normal number of Aes Sedai to keep it operational long enough for Egwene to return (The Dragon Reborn, Sealed).

When a ter’angreal is used in the presence of another with commonality they may both melt and give nearby channellers a massive headache (The Dragon Reborn, Sealed).

In the Age of Legends, the access keys for the Choedan Kal had to be made a great distance away from the sa’angreal statues—the statues they were attuned to—because in the final stages of construction they would otherwise have resonated to the Choedan Kal (The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time). This would injure, perhaps burn out or kill, any channellers nearby.

The ter’angreal that the Black Ajah stole from the White Tower perfectly illustrate the very imperfect knowledge of Aes Sedai plus the occurrence of commonality among ter’angreal. According to Robert Jordan’s Elayne notes, Liandrin’s group took 26 ter’angreal from the storerooms when they fled, 15 unknown or imperfectly known and about 11 that were known. Of the unknown items, 8 were actually dream ter’angreal and one was the dice cluster that imitates the ta’veren effect. The known list comprised the other 5 dream ter’angreal, 3 more ter’angreal to do with sleep, the wood hedgehog and the balefire rod, and another ter’angreal.

Broken Ter’angreal

Ter’angreal can melt and break if overused. Some can be broken with the One Power and a few by smashing.

If broken, a ter’angreal can no longer correctly perform its function and can injure or damage a channeller that tries to use it, or even just touches it. Egwene picked up a broken female access key in Tel’aran’rhiod, which should have linked her with the female sa’angreal on Tremalking, but it was not able to do so correctly. Lanfear referred to this broken access key as “a fine trap” for an unwary channeller (The Shadow Rising, The Traps of Rhuidean). It certainly hurt Egwene, and she had trouble releasing the ter’angreal. The Power from the sa’angreal surged back and forth between the access key and Egwene and the crystal sphere of the access key flickered as it did so. Such large and rapid fluctuations in the Power would be painful. This ter’angreal showed no signs of the melting which is typical of overuse or misuse. It had probably broken during the Breaking or Third Age. Some ter’angreal can be smashed, as we saw when Rand and Asmodean fought in Rhuidean (The Shadow Rising, The Traps of Rhuidean).

Identifying Ter’angreal

When a channeller holds the Power and touches an item, if it is ter’angreal and responds to the same half of the Source the channeller uses, it will feel faintly warm or resonate (The Path of Daggers, Unweaving). It is not known if a channeller can use this method to identify items attuned to the opposite half of the Source, but the method did identify at least one object of the Power that does not require channelling: the Blue Roots Carving (The Path of Daggers, Unweaving and Knife of Dreams, A Different Skill).

Despite her great confidence with ter’angreal, Elayne is not the best at identifying them:

A few of the sisters Elayne had trained showed a greater skill in this than she did herself, but most came nowhere near.

- The Path of Daggers, A Quiet Place

Reading Ter’angreal

A channeller with this Talent can know what a ter’angreal does, or even sense how to activate it, merely by touching the ter’angreal. Aviendha has the Talent strongly (Knife of Dreams, A Different Skill), and Nynaeve has the related Talent of being able to sense a resonance or feeling from objects, especially those associated with the One Power; she sensed pain when she picked up the rod ter’angreal that inflicts pain, whereas Elayne felt nothing (The Path of Daggers, Unweaving). According to Robert Jordan’s Notes for WOT-1, some objects crafted with the Power may be affected, even tainted, by the people who possess them. The effect can come from any strong feeling, such as love, or hate or greed. This is what Nynaeve can sense and is part of the pervading power of belief in the philosophy in his world (see Theology article).

Making Ter’angreal

One of the best makers of ter’angreal in the Age of Legends was Jorlen Corbesan. He was:

one of the most talented Aes Sedai before the Breaking, a man who had crafted some of the most amazing ter'angreal Rand had ever seen. Except Rand had not seen them. Those were Lews Therin's memories, not his. Jorlen’s research facility of Sharom had been destroyed—the man himself killed—by the backlash of Power from the Bore.

- The Gathering Storm, A Tale of Blood

Since the Breaking there have been no known makers of ter’angreal on the main continent prior to Elayne. The Aes Sedai on the Seanchan continent retained some knowledge and ability to design and/or make ter’angreal. The most noted is the a’dam made by Deain to gain the favour of Luthair Paendrag. The only ter’angreal damane know how to make is the a’dam, but this gives them a good background into progressing onto other ter’angreal.

Elayne held classes on ter’angreal making during Lord of Chaos, but as of Crossroads of Twilight, Secrets, only three other Aes Sedai can make ter’angreal and none as well as Elayne. Moghedien deliberately lied to Elayne when she said that ter’angreal making is a matter of strength; it is actually a rare Talent (Robert Jordan’s Aes Sedai notes).

They are not simple to make. So far, Elayne has made a modified a’dam, medallion ter’angreal to protect against direct weaves to a degree, ter’angreal for weaving disguises for those too weak to do so otherwise, and ter’angreal for accessing Tel’aran’rhiod.

Elayne has determined that:

there seemed to be one common thread in those tiny structures for ter'angreal that required channeling to work, and another for those that simply made use of the Power.

- Lord of Chaos, A Matter of Thought

Destroying Ter’angreal

The destruction of a ter’angreal is difficult and dangerous because there may be wild surges of the Power during the process, or wild activations of the ter’angreal and/or variations of the purpose for which it was made (Robert Jordan, Aes Sedai notes). This applies even to ter’angreal with quite innocuous functions. In the Age of Legends, when it was judged necessary to destroy a ter’angreal, such destruction was usually done by a circle, though in some cases the circle may have been small.


Written by Linda, August, 2005 and updated May, 2016 and May, 2019

Access keys

By Linda

The Choedan Kal (see Angreal and Sa'angreal article) are both so powerful that using them safely requires purpose-built access keys, special ter’angreal like miniature versions of the great sa’angreal. Without the access keys, a channeller would be sucked in deeper and deeper and, unless they are able to pull out (as Rand did), their mind will be destroyed, or their channelling ability burned out instantly, or they will be killed (Robert Jordan, Aes Sedai notes). Only those from the Age of Legends are aware of this danger. The access keys are two white stone statuettes a foot stall, a robed man and woman, each holding a crystal sphere aloft in one hand (The Shadow Rising, The Traps of Rhuidean) and were originally made because the sa’angreal statues are too large to be portable.

If a person touches the access key attuned to the same half of the Source they use while channelling, they become aware of the huge sa’angreal statue that the access key is linked to and then an enormous amount of the Power surges into them. The crystal sphere of the access key lights up (as does the sphere on the sa’angreal, see Angreal and Sa'angreal article).

For some time, Rand kept the access keys in a secret niche in Rhuidean. The night he set the army in motion toward Illian he transferred them to Cairhien in case he had to get them in a hurry (A Crown of Swords, A Bath), and in Winter’s Heart, took them to Nynaeve. The female access key melted and broke after the cleansing of saidin (there is now a hollow where the female Choedan Kal was buried (Knife of Dreams, To Make An Anchor Weep)) and the male one was held by Cadsuane for a time (Winter’s Heart, With The Choedan Kal). After Cadsuane’s possessions were raided, Rand’s servants retrieved the statue for him (The Gathering Storm, Into Bandar Eban). He began using it more frequently and more tyrannically until after his epiphany he forced the Power through the access key into the male Choedan Kal and destroyed the sa’angreal (The Gathering Storm, Veins of Gold). Whether or not the access key survived, it is useless now.

There was a broken (but not melted) access key in the Panarch’s museum in Tanchico:

the upper half of a broken figure carved from some shiny white stone, a woman holding a crystal sphere in one upraised hand, her face calm and dignified and full of wise authority. Whole, she would have been perhaps a foot tall.

- The Shadow Rising, What Lies Hidden

Its effects on Egwene were described in the Broken Ter’angreal section. The access key seemed to call to Egwene because it was linked to the sa’angreal, even if imperfectly, and sa’angreal resonate to nearby channellers. The male sa’angreal statue called to Rand, too, when he was nearby. The broken access key is still in the museum, if it wasn’t destroyed by Jeaine Caide’s balefire.


Written by Linda, August, 2005 and updated May, 2016 and May, 2019


By Linda

A’dam are ter’angreal that form an involuntary link between the bracelet wearer (controller) and the collar wearer (slave)—involuntary on the collar-wearer’s part, that is.

Female A’dam

For over 2000 years after the Breaking, the Aes Sedai on Seanchan warred and contended and unscrupulously subjected the population. When Luthair Paendrag began his conquest, an Aes Sedai named Deain, believing that he would eventually win, tried to curry favour by bringing him an Aes Sedai collared with an a’dam that Deain had made. Her idea was that Luthair could use channellers in his armies to overcome Aes Sedai and to serve him rather than themselves. Deain made more a’dam and some years later sul’dam—those who could channel only with training—were selected to be used (The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time). This greatly accelerated the process of collaring Aes Sedai, now labelled as marath’damane, those who must be leashed. Deain herself was eventually collared (The Great Hunt, Damane). Over time, women who could channel were eventually regarded as dangerous animals rather than people; animals that had to be leashed and controlled or they would turn everyone into their property (The Shadow Rising, Hidden Faces). It was forgotten that sul’dam had the potential to learn to channel.

In appearance, the a’dam is a collar and bracelet of cunningly worked silvery metal connected by a leash. According to Elayne, the bracelet and collar have ‘absolutely identical matrices’ (Lord of Chaos, Prologue). It forms an involuntary link between two women: the dominant bracelet wearer and the enslaved collar-wearer. This is why the sul’dam must be a woman who can channel too. The leash is not an actual necessity (The Fires of Heaven, A Question of Crimson); apart from aiding physical restraint, it is a mark of subjection for the damane, and indicates which damane is linked to which sul’dam. A’dam are made by certain damane with the ability to make ter’angreal, who are more valued and have better conditions than most (The Great Hunt, Damane). These are the only type of ter’angreal damane make (The Gathering Storm, booksigning) and one of the few actual manufacturing processes for which damane are used, although they are also used for identifying ores in the ground. Any freed damane who has sufficient strength and had previously made a’dam obviously has already gained at least part of the skill necessary to manufacture other ter 'angreal (Robert Jordan, Seanchan notes).

Ironically, Elayne rediscovered the principles of making ter’angreal by studying an a’dam. Prior to this, the a’dam was the only ter’angreal known to have been manufactured in the Third Age. But logically, Deain likely didn’t invent the a’dam from nothing, she may well have made other ter’angreal, but such information has been lost. An example of Jordan’s theme of incomplete and lost knowledge.

The opening catch of an a’dam is well concealed (for obvious reasons) and the sul’dam discourage people from watching closely while they open an a’dam (The Great Hunt, A Plan). The bracelet is the easier to open: by squeezing top and bottom not quite opposite the leash, but still requires knowing where to look for the catch. The sul’dam can do it one-handed. The collar requires both hands: pressing spots on either side where the leash attaches, then twisting and pulling one way, then the other, while still pressing (Winter’s Heart, A Plan). The a’dam fits itself to anyone who puts it on (The Wheel of Time Companion).

An a’dam must touch skin to work: hence it is placed on the wrist of a sul’dam and the neck of a damane. On a neck, it emphasises the fact that a damane is a ‘domesticated’ animal, and of course can’t be amputated without killing the damane.

A sul’dam can wear more than one bracelet (eg one on each wrist) and thus control more than one damane (Knife of Dreams, A Short Path).

A’dam are apparently not as vulnerable to resonance as other ter’angreal, since they can be used in close proximity to each other.


While among the Seanchan, Semirhage spent “much time working with” female a’dam and found that they:

”allow some small measure of freedom, relying on nausea as an inhibitor”

- The Gathering Storm, The Last That Could be Done.

Not altogether true, since the restriction on movement without a bracelet wearer is based on pain.

The ter’angreal creates a link between the two women, a ring of two, with the bracelet wearer always leading. The wearer of the bracelet, the sul’dam, can inflict her wishes and desires upon the collared woman (The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time) and thereby make the damane channel as the sul’dam wishes. Instead of the sharing of emotions of a normal link, the a’dam magnifies the emotions of the sul’dam to force the damane to obey. When a sul’dam orders a damane, the damane feels an urge to obey. This can be suppressed to a degree, but the Seanchan train a damane to obedience. When damane and sul'dam are joined, whatever hurt the sul'dam feels, the damane feels twice over. This not only prevents the damane attacking her sul’dam, but ensures the damane uses her abilities to protect her sul’dam from danger (The Great Hunt, Damane).

A sul’dam wearing the bracelet knows what the damane is doing with the Power and what not (The Great Hunt, Falme). The sul’dam is also aware of the damane’s feelings and sensations in a separate part of her mind, and can mentally add to them to cause pain (The Great Hunt, Blademaster) or pleasure (Knife of Dreams, A Short Path). She could combine her own abilities with those of the other woman to channel a single linked set of flows herself, although knowledge of this has been forgotten since Deane’s time, another example of lost or incomplete knowledge (The Wheel of Time Companion).

Another property of the a’dam is that if a damane tries to channel even the tiniest bit of the Power without a sul'dam wearing her bracelet, she feels sick, and the more of the Power she channels, the sicker she becomes. When a sul’dam next puts the bracelet on, she will also know that the damane tried to channel without a sul’dam.

As well as preventing channelling independently, the a’dam prevents the damane from opening the bracelet and from touching anything the damane considers a weapon. In both cases, once the damane has these thoughts, her muscles knot until she stops thinking them (The Great Hunt, Falme). The a’dam did not prevent Egwene from striking her sul’dam with her fist, however, but the resulting pain effectively discouraged further attacks (The Great Hunt, Damane). The agonising cramps prevent a damane from putting on her own bracelet; if this prevention did not exist and the damane put on the bracelet, the damane would be sucked into a positive feedback loop and die.

A woman who can channel and is collared cannot move more than a few steps without her bracelet on the wrist of a sul’dam to complete the link (The Shadow Rising, Hidden Faces). If her bracelet is moved from where it was last touched by a sul’dam, a damane experiences agonising cramps (as both Egwene and Joline experienced when they each moved while collared without a sul’dam linking with them).

When Nynaeve forced an a’dam on Moghedien in Tel’aran’rhiod, Nynaeve was in complete control of what Moghedien channelled: if Nynaeve did not want to channel certain flows, they were not channelled (The Fires of Heaven, To Caemlyn).

The a’dam also buffers the amount of power that the damane draws to just short of her maximum ability so that she cannot burn herself out. This was perhaps originally designed to prevent a damane from deliberately burning herself out to escape being enslaved by the a’dam (The Wheel of Time Companion).

Another odd effect of the a'dam which might be called beneficial is that wearing it somehow buffers the shock of having the bond to a Warder broken. This it is obviously an unforeseen side-effect since the Seanchan Aes Sedai did not know about the Warder bond.
- Robert Jordan, Seanchan notes


The Seanchan test every woman in their governed areas annually until they are 25 (Winter’s Heart, Questions of Treason) to obtain the services of every possible damane and sul’dam. In newly acquired territory they promptly test every woman, then follow their annual testing procedure thereafter.

Sul’dam first test for damane by putting the collar on each woman and seeing if they can link with her—feel anything of her through the bracelet. Only those women who have channelled or who have the inborn ability to channel without training and are soon to do so respond to the collar. Every woman who responds to the collar is made damane and is struck from family records and the roll of citizens (The Fires of Heaven, Heading West). Even Morgase, a negligible channeller, was told that by law she should be collared but Suroth wanted to make an exception in her case so that she could have a worse fate (A Crown of Swords, The Irrevocable Words.)

After testing all the women under 25 with the collar, the Seanchan test the women with the bracelet, to see if they can feel what the damane feels. These women have the potential to learn to channel, since the Seanchan have already identified with the collar channellers and those with the inborn spark (The Great Hunt, To Come Out of the Shadow). They are (willingly) taken away to be trained as sul’dam, a respected position.


In order to be part of a link, a sul’dam must have at least the potential to channel. Women who can channel and women with the inborn spark can of course be sul’dam, which is why the Seanchan test for the collar first, to enslave such women as damane, leaving only those who cannot channel without being taught to be sul’dam. Unlike damane, who have the very long lifespans of those who have used the One Power, sul’dam have normal lifespans (confirmed by Jordan, DragonCon, September 2005).

After some years of using the bracelet (ie some time after turning 25, since sul’dam usually fail the test for damane), a sul’dam can tell when a woman is channelling, even if they are not leashed to her, and sense her weaves. Bethamin, for instance, can always sense a damane, and know how strong she is (Winter’s Heart, Questions of Treason). The sul’dam all believe that this is simply developed from long experience. To another channeller, an experienced sul’dam feels similar to a woman with the inborn spark:

Not quite the spark of a woman born to it, but almost. It's as if she were right at the brink of being able to channel, one foot poised to step over.

- Winter’s Heart, Sea Folk and Kin

They cannot channel themselves, of course, having never trained, but they have learned the early stages of channelling and control without having the side effects of learning unaided. Sul’dam like to link with damane—to feel, however vicariously, the joy of the One Power the damane channels. They call it being complete (The Great Hunt, Falme).

A stilled channeller wearing the bracelet can still sense what the damane feels—as Leane and Siuan did in Lord of Chaos, Prologue—but can’t affect her through the a’dam. If a stilled channeller wore the collar, a sul’dam might sense something of her feelings, but the sul’dam would not be able to make her channel. A burned out channeller would not sense anything at all through the bracelet or respond to the collar.


The damane does the actual channelling. For this, they are regarded as animals. Their physical needs (even sexual needs to a degree, see Pillowfriends article) are taken care of. They live a very long time, like other channellers. Stilled or burned out channellers cannot respond to the a’dam (Jordan, Dragoncon, September 2005).

Since damane can’t touch weapons, their meat is cut for them. No damane is ever left alone where she might jump from a height or throw herself into a river (The Great Hunt, Falme). The Seanchan have no illusions that all damane are happy.

Aes Sedai damane cause a few problems for sul’dam due to their Oath not to use the One Power as a weapon except to defend their lives, their Warder's life, or another sister's life. According to Robert Jordan,

The Aes Sedai captured by the Seanchan are indeed useless as weapons, except against Shadowspawn or Darkfriends, because they are bound by the Three Oaths, and that limits their value considerably since being weapons is a major use for damane. Damane are used for other tasks, however, including finding ores for mining, for some mining operations where it would be too dangerous or uneconomical to use human miners, and in some construction projects, especially where something very large or with a need for added strength is envisioned. The first two both require a high ability in Earth, which has faded considerably on "this" side of the Aryth Ocean and to a smaller degree of the other side, but construction projects and others things, such as producing Sky Lights, are well within the abilities of collared Aes Sedai. The Three Oaths don't inhibit them there at all.

The Seanchan should soon realise that an Aes Sedai can use the weapon if she fears for her life, or the life of another sister. It would then be a matter of making the Aes Sedai believe that her life depends on using the Power as a weapon…We can thank Joline for blabbing this in front of the Seanchan.


Channelling is regarded as evil in Seachan unless harnessed or controlled for the State or by the State, with the women who can do it considered tainted by evil. This fear is similar to that for channelling men on the mainland prior to the taint being removed from saidin, and with far less cause. It originated as a reaction against the female channellers on Seanchan who manipulated and dominated the populace.

Since channelling is also useful, the Seanchan hold their noses and look the other way at their hypocrisy in using someone to channel for their benefit. However

some purists (a scarce handful) believe the women should be killed just as males discovered channeling are, but their usefulness as weapons and in other ways keeps this from being more than a very minority view.

- Robert Jordan, Seanchan notes

Not all the damane are enslaved against their will, some believe that they are tainted and accept their penalty as necessary. Jordan likens the latter to good medieval Catholics accepting their penance in his Seanchan notes:

Toward the sul'dam they feel fear with regard to those who are harsh, many feel affection (Stockholm syndrome) with regard to those who are not (as the Seanchan see it, as least), and most even gratitude that the sul'dam are guiding and sheltering them and keeping them from doing the awful things that they must surely do if they were allowed to run free.

Damane are required to be downcast in public. Being on the lowest rung of society they are not allowed to look anyone in the eye. In private some are more content, and play and laugh with each other. Most damane are the property of the Imperial family, although many of the Blood will own several and non-nobles also are allowed to acquire one (Seanchan notes).

Damane are not the only slaves in Seanchan society, just the lowest of them, being perceived almost as an animal, thanks to the leash, which is not necessary for the a’dam to function, just necessary to physically restrain them and mark out which damane and sul’dam are linked.

While this harsh law is a valid law in Seanchan—and the Seanchan on the whole have more justice for more of their citizens than the mainland nations—it violates one of the Creator’s main tenets: the free will granted to all by the Creator (see Theology essay). The a’dam is designed to strip damane of their free will, even preventing the choice of death rather than slavery.


The a’dam is an unusual ter’angreal in that it is apparently designed for saidar users and yet is strongly affected by saidin users. Normally, a ter’angreal designed for saidar is completely unresponsive if touched by a channeller who uses saidin, and vice versa. But not the a’dam.

If a male channeller or one with the potential to channel puts on the bracelet of an a’dam, both he and the damane wearing the collar would die screaming (sport for Seanchan royalty, The Great Hunt, Damane). If such a man touches the collar, the damane wearing the collar feels great pain. A sul’dam wearing the bracelet of that a’dam would also feel pain. If he is holding the Power while doing so, the Power would rush through him into them. For example, Rand, while holding the Power, tried to remove a damane’s collar. The damane convulsed in agony and the sul’dam gasped with pain. Rand felt saidin rush through him into them, and Aviendha likewise felt ‘the Power’ (saidin?) rushing into them (The Fires of Heaven, A Short Spear).

This is quite a design fault. Obviously there must be some explanation, some reason why the a’dam, as Egwene says, is one link no man can be brought into (A Crown of Swords, The Figurehead.)

The answer must lie in the way the ter’angreal is made. The programming of the a’dam is that the bracelet wearer is completely dominant and has to have the ability to channel saidar. If a male channeller wears the a’dam bracelet with a female channeller wearing the collar, he must be in control, as a man would in a link between one man and one woman and as the bracelet is programmed to do; but he is not a saidar channeller. This partially conflicts with the a’dam’s programming and pain (partial or attempted linking) or death (actual linking) is the result, as is common with misused ter’angreal. If the collar were put on a man who can channel with a female sul’dam wearing the bracelet, this would completely conflict with the a’dam’s programming because not only is he a channeller of saidin, but he should be in control of the link, since a man has to be in control in a link between one man and one woman. The collared man and the sul’dam would die, and the a’dam could well melt or explode and other channellers nearby be affected as well.

Elayne’s Female A’dam

The first ter’angreal Elayne made was an altered copy of an a’dam and it was soon used on Moghedien (Lord of Chaos, Prologue). It is a silver bracelet and collar with no leash and was made from silver and other metals. Moghedien could walk around the camp, but not channel independently, escape or undo the collar herself. Nor did she commit violence. She was held by the a’dam whether anyone was wearing the bracelet or not. Halima, a channeller of saidin, was hurt when she removed Moghedien’s collar. Presumably it remained in Halima’s possession. Egwene had the bracelet, but it is unknown if she carried it when she was captured.

Male a’dam

Also called a Domination Band, this ter’angreal consists of two jointed bracelets of dull black segmented metal and a wide collar. All three are made of cuendillar. A female channeller who can sense resonance in objects feels old and sharp pain, sorrow and suffering when she touches either bracelets or collar (The Shadow Rising, Need, and Into the Palace).

The male a’dam was made during the Breaking (The Gathering Storm, The Last That Could Be Done). Presumably, women tried to make a device that would enable them to control male channellers despite the taint. Making them from cuendillar ensured their unbreakability. Suroth had more made by damane/sul’dam pairs with the ability and they may now be thinking of making other ter’angreal…

When Semirhage obtained access to the Domination Band and, presumably a male channeller to use it upon, she found it could completely compel the male channeler to obey. Wearing the collar, a man is unable to channel without permission of the dominant bracelet wearer, and cannot move or speak without her permission either. He can be forced to move and/or channel as the bracelet wearer desires, and she can add her flows to his if she has the knowledge and feel and affect his emotions. Feeling his emotions and physical sensation is clearer than with the female a'dam. If he tries to reach for saidin he experiences blinding agony—it will literally damage his eyes if he continues (Robert Jordan’s Seanchan notes). His collar must be removed by one of the bracelet wearers or else the man dies (Robert Jordan’s Seanchan notes).

While there is no leash, as the bracelets are moved away from the leash, a queasiness results, increasing as the distance does unless the bracelet is being worn. The "trigger" distance, creating incapacitating illness when neither bracelet is being worn (or when only one is), is quite large, on the order of a mile. As with the female a'dam, whatever is experienced by the woman or women wearing the bracelets is also experienced by the man, but the multiplier effect is greater; a blow that might or might not bruise her may well result in unconsciousness for him. Hit her hard enough to render her unconscious, and it is guaranteed that he will be conscious long before she is. Her death while wearing the bracelets will result in his death, of course…

Actively channelling saidar close to the collar produces increasing pain depending on how much and how close. Very close, within a few feet, a tiny amount can produce the sort of pain to make a man shriek and incapacitate him for some time. Oddly, a woman channelling close by can also cause eye damage in the same way that attempting to channel himself can. Simply embracing saidar or maintaining a weave woven out of his presence does not create this pain.

- Robert Jordan, Seanchan notes

However, according to Moghedien the device does not control men very successfully:

”Put the collar on a man who channels, and a woman wearing the bracelets can make him do whatever she wishes, true, but it will not stop him going mad, and there is a flow the other way, too. Eventually he will begin to be able to control you, too, so you end with a struggle at every hour. Not very palatable when he is going mad. Of course, you can pass the bracelets around, so no one has too much exposure, but that does mean trusting someone else with him… Or two women can each wear one bracelet, if you have someone you trust enough; that slows the seepage considerably, I understand, but it also lessens your control, even if you work in perfect unison. Eventually, you will find yourselves in a struggle for control with him, each of you needing him to remove your bracelet as surely as he needs you to remove the collar.”

- The Shadow Rising, Into the Palace

One woman wearing just the one bracelet to weaken the effect of the taint also has worse control issues (Robert Jordan’s Seanchan notes). The “seepage” and “flow the other way” that Moghedien refers to is the taint-induced nausea and madness. Problems stemming from the taint are no longer an issue, but the question of control remains. A man cannot be brought involuntarily into a ring, no matter how large (Lord of Chaos and A Crown of Swords Glossaries); hence the control the a’dam confers is temporary, especially in the ring of one man and one woman, because a man must be in control. This is why there are two bracelets to this a’dam. A male channeller putting on the bracelet controls and senses nothing (Robert Jordan’s Seanchan notes).

Semirhage naturally makes no mention that the male will eventually gain some control over the bond, but she may not have known this either. (Moghedien is a far more wary person than Semirhage). It does explain why, in desperation, Rand was able to access the True Power through his link to Moridin and destroy the cuendillar collar with ‘enormous spears of Fire and Air’ (The Gathering Storm, The Last That Could Be Done). Sanderson explained this occurrence at a booksigning:

The True Power works by destroying the Pattern. Everything that is done with it involves damage to the Pattern. For example, when we see Ishamael Travel, he does so by poking a hole in the Pattern. Cuendillar can be destroyed using the True Power.

The Shadow apparently planned to use this a’dam to enslave Rand, but Nynaeve and Elayne found it first in the Panarch’s museum in Tanchico. They gave it to Bayle Domon to be cast into the deepest part of the ocean, but he was stopped and searched by the Seanchan before he could do so. Egeanin presented the a’dam to Suroth (a Darkfriend), and damane made at least four more male a’dam since Semirhage took five to her ‘parley’ with Rand. They were in Rand’s possession for a time (Knife of Dreams, A Plain Wooden Box): one Seanchan copy was used by Semirhage to abuse Rand (and Min) and was destroyed by him with the True Power; the other four were given by Cadsuane to retired Aes Sedai to guard (The Gathering Storm, A Box Opens). Hopefully they are still there. Moreover, perhaps the Seanchan have more copies.


Written by Linda, August, 2005 and updated January, 2016 and June, 2019

Bowls, Cups and Vases

By Linda

Bowl of Winds

The Bowl is a shallow, heavy bowl of clear crystal two feet across, worked inside with thick, swirling clouds (The Path of Daggers, The Breaking Storm) and when someone channels into it, the clouds change. It is a ter’angreal to control the weather, and Elayne believes she is “not quite strong enough to work the Bowl” by herself (Lord of Chaos, Under the Dust). Elayne and Nynaeve found it in a cache of angreal and ter’angreal in Ebou Dar (see The Cache from Ebou Dar article about the finding of the Bowl).

When a small amount of the Power is fed into it—relative to what it needs to work it—it turns a pale sky blue and the clouds seem to move. They are not in the same positions after as they were before. When sufficient of the Power to work it is fed into it, it turns much deeper, darker colors, the blue of the sky and the green of the sea. The clouds sometimes appear to be waves. Both clouds and waves move, and when the Bowl is "powered down," whichever was last up, clouds or waves, is what is now worked into the inner surface.

- Robert Jordan, Sea Folk notes

Moridin is familiar with such ter’angreal and immediately saw the possible consequences of one in the expert hands of Windfinders:

In his own Age, weather had been carefully regulated with the use of ter’angreal…One of the surprises of this Age was that there were those who could manipulate the weather to a degree that should have required one of those ter’angreal. One such device should not be enough to affect even a large part of a single continent. But what could those women do with it? What? If they used a ring?

- The Path of Daggers, Unweaving

Moridin’s surmises were correct. A very powerful ring of thirteen women plus three angreal was used to manipulate the weather with the Bowl and they were able to affect the weather of the whole world, not just part of a continent. The Windfinders had possessed a Bowl early in the Third Age and lost it over 2000 years ago. (It is unknown if the lost Bowl is the Bowl that was used.) The leader of the circle, Caire, had closely studied the records of its use and was able to make a very complex series of weaves to restore the seasons.

All Five Powers were used in intricate weaves very precisely placed atop the Bowl (The Path of Daggers The Breaking Storm). The first weave of a four-pointed star made the Bowl turn the bright blue of a summer sky with fleecy white clouds. Next a five-pointed star made the Bowl show a green sea with great heaving waves. Then a six-pointed star made the Bowl show a dark blue sky with purple clouds heavy with rain or snow and a seven-pointed star a gray-green stormy sea. This pattern continued with an eight-pointed star showing sky, and a nine showing sea. At this point the Bowl began to draw saidar on its own, in a much larger amount than the circle was drawing, and also saidin. The pattern of sea to sky and waves to clouds continued, while a writhing, braided column of all Five Powers of saidar (and saidin) shot up in a column from the Bowl and after more weaves from the circle, spread in an intricate lace over the horizon. When Caire stopped channelling into the Bowl, it turned clear again, but small patches of saidar flashed and crackled around its edges.

The use of such a powerful and skilled ring had consequences, however: both saidin and saidar acted strangely for some distance around the site where the Bowl was used:

something had been wrong, back in Ebou Dar, and not just with this damane… They said the damane were all sick or insane.

- The Path of Daggers, Gathering Clouds

It was saidin itself that seemed full of currents and surges.

- The Path of Daggers, A Time For Iron

Both saidar and saidin were behaving unpredictably due to the way the Bowl had been used:

This was due to the Bowl being stressed far, far beyond its original design parameters because of the advanced knowledge of the Windfinders. It was affecting a global pattern, when it was designed for only a small region. Men helping would not have changed anything, and the effects linger most strongly near Ebou Dar, but also along the ‘spokes’ which radiated from that place.

- Robert Jordan at a The Path of Daggers book signing in Virginia, 21 November 1998, as reported in the original WOT FAQ.

This over-stressing did not affect the functioning of the Bowl at Thakan’dar where the Windfinders used it to combat the savage storms the Dark One created there (A Memory of Light, To Ignore the Omens). The Bowl is the property of the Sea Folk Windfinders, as part of the bargain made with them in exchange for their expertise.

Flat White Bowl

A flattish white bowl almost a pace across was found in the Ebou Dar cache is for looking at things that are far away (Knife of Dreams, A Different Skill). It was taken to Caemlyn, and it is not known if Elayne kept it with her or it was destroyed in the sacking of Caemlyn.

Tall Vase with Vines

A tall vase worked with vine in green and blue gathers water out of the air (Knife of Dreams, A different Skill). It was found in the Ebou Dar cache and was taken to Caemlyn. It is not known if she took it with her or if it was destroyed during the sacking of Caemlyn.

Other Cups, Bowls and Vases

Cups and bowls and vases, of varied size, design and composition were found in the Ebou Dar cache (The Path of Daggers, A Quiet Place). They were taken to Caemlyn. It is not known if she took them with her or if they were destroyed during the sacking of Caemlyn.


Written by Linda, August, 2005 and updated March, 2013 and June, 2019


By Linda

The callbox is a small gray cube intricately carved with patterns within patterns in a seemingly infinite series. It is very resistant to chipping or breaking (A Crown of Swords, Patterns Within Patterns). One was given to Sevanna by Sammael prior to Lord of Chaos Prologue, and was therefore not from the Ebou Dar cache, but perhaps from the stasis box he found.

If the smallest flow possible of Fire (saidar) is lightly touched on what looks like a twisted crescent moon, and another on a mark like a lightning bolt, a male channeller can sense the summons, locate the callbox and hear and speak through it. The box sends a signal referred to as a wayline. When activated in this way, the callbox draws saidar (Fire, Earth, Air and Spirit) in some of its runnels and also saidin. It can be activated in other ways as well (perhaps the summons for a woman channeller is different) and if powered too much or in the wrong way it may melt (as is typical of misused ter’angreal) or explode (A Crown of Swords, Patterns Within Patterns).

Moridin was also able to follow the callbox’s summons. He knows of two other callboxes in this world and appears to have learned interesting things from listening in to them, too (A Crown of Swords, Patterns Within Patterns).

Since Sevanna’s capture by the Seanchan in Knife of Dreams, Outside the Gates, the location of her callbox has not been known. Faile claimed the contents of Sevanna’s chest, so she and Perrin may have it. It could also be with the Seanchan or even with the Shaido returning to the Waste, though the latter is less likely.


Written by Linda, August, 2005


By Linda

Binding Chair

Sammael said that a binding chair can be used to bind people who cannot channel (A Crown of Swords, Spears). According to The Wheel of Time Companion, he told the truth. None has been seen yet.

Chair of Remorse

The Chair of Remorse is a large rectangular block of hard marbled gray material with a slanted top that moulds itself to anyone sitting on it. On one side is a palm-sized rectangular hole that has tiny notches spaced unevenly around it where the channeller activates the ter’angreal (Winter’s Heart, Prologue).

Aes Sedai use the chair for crime prevention and rehabilitation. Criminals caught in Tar Valon are placed on the Chair of Remorse to experience a series of carefully selected scenarios of the consequences of their crimes. These experiences seem real to the person sitting in the Chair. The toughest criminals are broken by their own guilt after experiencing two such series. On release, they invariably flee the island, and often reform their ways. There is (or was) very little crime in Tar Valon.

This is nothing like the way the Chair was used in the Age of Legends. Interestingly, Aes Sedai law forbids using the Chair on initiates of the Tower (Aes Sedai and Accepted) and the penalties are stiff: exile and birching, perhaps stilling, for Aes Sedai and unchairing as well for Sitters. This indicates there may have been a good reason for this prohibition that is now long forgotten.

The chair was used for entertainment in the Age of Legends as a virtual reality device. It drew on saidin as well as saidar, and discs with story lines could be inserted into it. The chair had a library of these that the Aes Sedai knew nothing of and had never used (The Wheel of Time Companion). It was not supposed to have scenarios input into it in person, and it is unknown how this became possible—whether it had been modified at some stage in the Age of Legends or just deteriorated.

Crystal Throne

The Crystal Throne is a great ter’angreal in Seanchan that causes anyone who approaches it to feel immense awe and wonder. It works without channelling (Winter’s Heart booksigning). Only the reigning monarch of Seanchan is allowed to use it (The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time). When the Empress speaks from the Crystal Throne, her word is law (Winter’s Heart, What A Veil Hides). Few people can shake off the awe and the urge to obey they feel when kneeling before the Crystal Throne (The Path of Daggers, A Time For Iron). Perhaps holding the Power makes a channeller resistant, since Semirhage was unaffected by the ter’angreal (Robert Jordan at a Knife of Dreams, booksigning) and even killed the Empress while she sat on the Throne (Knife of Dreams, Prologue).

The Seanchan Prophecies of the Dragon say that the Dragon Reborn must kneel before the Crystal Throne before Tarmon Gai'don, or all is lost (Winter’s Heart, What A Veil Hides) (see Prophecies of the Dragon article), but he did not: he bowed to her as a courtesy, A Memory of Light, Older, More Weathered.

Red Crystal Chair

A plain-carved chair of red crystal was found in Rhuidean and was taken to Cairhien in Kadere’s wagons (The Fires of Heaven, The Fifth, I Give You). Perhaps this is a binding chair.


Written by Linda, August, 2005 and updated May, 2016

Doorways and Arches

By Linda

One property arches and doorways seem to have in common is that they may only be used once by the same individual, which makes them unlike most other ter’angreal, which can be reused as needed.

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

It is not known where, when, or how the person entering these ter’angreal is transported, but while they are in the ter’angreal everything has the texture of reality (The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time).

Accepted Arches

The Accepted ter’angreal, discovered in the Trolloc Wars, has three rounded, silver arches, each just tall enough to walk under, sitting on a thick silver ring with their ends touching each other. Arches and ring are all of one piece (The Great Hunt, The Testing).

Three Aes Sedai sitting on the floor where the arches touch the ring channel into the ter’angreal to activate it. When activated, light flickers a while in the interior of the ter’angreal and then glows, filling the space and making it opaque (The Dragon Reborn, The Price of the Ring).

Whatever its original purpose, the Aes Sedai use the ter’angreal to test novices by making them face their greatest fears. The ter’angreal ferrets them out and makes them seem real or perhaps takes them to a place where they are real (The Shadow Rising, Doorways).

The candidate goes naked through the three arches of the ter’angreal in turn: the first for what was, the second for what is, and the third (the worst) for what will be. As they enter or leave, they feel consumed or plucked apart by the light in the ter’angreal. It is not known if it works the same for male channellers (nudity would ensure the candidate’s gender is correctly known and implies not) or non-channellers or whether male channellers can activate it. While the experience seems real, it is not known if it actually is. It is different for every woman who enters:

some have come out bearing the actual wounds of hurts taken inside. Others have been cut to the bone inside, and come back without a mark...The ancients said there were many worlds. Perhaps this ter'angreal takes you to them. Yet if so, it does so under very stringent rules for something meant just to take you from one place to another.

- The Great Hunt, The Testing

The places that novices visit while testing for Accepted are other realities, but it's not quite that simple. Anyone being tested is merely a visitor, or rider, on whoever she is in that world. Some of those who have not come back have died, and some have become absorbed in the different reality, but that is not to say that they are still alive in any sense that we would recognize. You really don't want to stay in the other reality, no matter how terrific it might seem.

- Robert Jordan, interview

Unlike other candidates, Nynaeve retained her knowledge of being able to channel in all three trips through the arches and safely channelled when threatened (The Great Hunt, The Testing). This is considered dangerous, since the first two Aes Sedai to test the ter’angreal were warded, so that they kept their memories and channelled the Power, and returned burned out.

Egwene’s trips through the arches were also atypical. She had brought a dream ter’angreal into the room with her, and this resonated with the Accepted ter’angreal, since they were both linked through Tel’aran’rhiod (commonality, see Introductory section). The resonance interfered with the Accepted ter’angreal’s function so that Egwene was partly aware of what was happening in the room and of the conflict between reality and the illusions of the ter’angreal. Traps were still woven from her fears, and included incorrect knowledge that Egwene believed was correct, such as that she was stronger than 13 Aes Sedai and that she could have the ageless look even though she never swore on the Oath Rod (The Dragon Reborn, The Price of the Ring). Due to her strong Talent for the Dream, some of her experiences were prophetic to a degree (that she became Amyrlin without swearing on the Oath Rod, was imprisoned in the Tower and denounced in the Hall) and she also ‘knew’ true, secret knowledge that few Aes Sedai know (about how channellers can to be turned to the Shadow). Her Talent and her channelling strength also allowed her to return safely from the malfunctioning ter’angreal. Nynaeve also had a precognitive experience: she heard of Sharina Melloy in her third trip through the arches and subsequently discovered she is a real person.

Once the ter’angreal has set the trap using the candidate’s fears, a shining silver arch appears briefly to allow the candidate to exit the ter’angreal by the same arch they went in. This is the test on whether they want to be Aes Sedai badly enough. The ‘memories’ that the ter’angreal makes to test the candidate conflict with the memories to return when they see the silver arch. If the candidate falters in returning, the ‘memories’ made by the ter’angreal grow stronger. Most candidates find leaving traumatic, and some do not return; they are not there when the ter’angreal is allowed to go quiet. Nynaeve overstayed her time through the third arch and the shining silver arch disappeared. She pictured it in detail in her mind, in a similar way to creating something in Tel’aran’rhiod, and it started to form. She drew in a great amount of saidar to create the exit arch. Nynaeve had two thorn pricks when she left the ter’angreal and they Healed with a scar, to Sheriam’s surprise, just as Verin’s injury gained in Tel’aran’rhiod did.

A novice is given three tries at facing her fears with the ter’angreal. If she still cannot at the third trial, she is put out of the Tower. However, once she has begun and entered an arch, she must continue to the end of the testing. If she refuses at any point, she is put out of the Tower. This is because each person can only use the ter’angreal once, so they cannot make subsequent attempts to pass the test.

Within the ter’angreal, the candidate appears to remember nothing except the last thing said to her before entering; hence the Aes Sedai are careful that this is the instruction on how to return: The way back will come but once, be steadfast (The Great Hunt, The Testing). Each time she leaves the ter’angreal her memories return.

Aes Sedai Oval Ring

The ter’angreal used for testing for the shawl is a great oval ring, narrow at top and bottom, its rounded rim arm-thick. Standing unsupported vertically well above a span in height and perhaps a pace across at its widest, it glitters in constantly changing swirls of silver, gold, green and blue (New Spring, It Begins). Seven Aes Sedai, one from each Ajah, kneel around the ring and channel all Five Powers in a complex weave to activate it. When activated, the colour-shifting increases in speed until they are flashing, then the air within the ring turns milky white and the ring revolves silently on its base. The Amyrlin also participated in Nynaeve’s test.

The candidate’s instructions are given by a senior Aes Sedai while another Aes Sedai touches the back of the candidate’s head with a weave and implants the instructions with a reminder to remember. When the candidate sees a sign of a six-pointed star of two overlapping triangles (perhaps the Star of David or Solomon’s seal, an important symbol used on talismans and a sign of Solomon’s legendary authority to make demons serve him (C. Lindahl, J McNamara and J Lindow, Medieval Folklore, and the hexagram of alchemical symbolism), she must go to it promptly and steadily and only then embrace the Power. The candidate is unable to channel until she reaches the star. She must begin the required weave immediately and not leave the sign until the weave is completed. The sign will reappear to mark the way and she must go promptly and calmly to it. And so on for 100 correct weaves in order and in perfect composure.

Due to her strength of character and in the Power and her prior experience in Tel’aran’rhiod, Nynaeve was able to circumvent these rules:

She embraced the Source, and something seemed to try to stop her. Something like a shield. She pushed it aside with difficulty and Power flooded her... “ I...well, actually I could remember what I was supposed to do, but not the reasons." Nynaeve grimaced. "That's why I broke the rules. I thought they were just arbitrary. I couldn't remember why I wasn't supposed to run, so in the face of seeing people die, it seemed silly to walk."
"The rules are supposed to hold strongly, even though you don't remember them," Egwene said. "And you should not have been able to channel before reaching the marker. That is in the very nature of the test."
Nynaeve frowned. "Then how—"
"You've spent too much time in Tel'aran'rhiod. This test ... it seems to function much in the same way as the World of Dreams. What we create in our minds became your surroundings." Egwene clicked her tongue, shaking her head. "I warned them that this might be a danger. Your practice in the World of Dreams made you innately able to break the test."

- Towers of Midnight, A Choice

The candidate steps into the ring naked and is in a place similar to Tel’aran’rhiod. At Dragoncon in September 2005, Jordan likened this ter’angreal to:

an uber-virtual reality device where what happens is entirely controlled in this case by the sisters controlling the device, but it is a virtual reality that is so terrific that it is reality for you. You die, you are dead. No game over, start again. You are dead.

In this environment they must calmly make 100 different weaves perfectly and in precise order while the Aes Sedai operating the ter’angreal try to distract the candidate and break her composure. Most of the weaves are complex, designed solely for the test, and none of them actually do anything nor produce anything dangerous if done incorrectly (New Spring, Practice). They must be woven very rapidly (New Spring, Shreds of Serenity). Most unusually, they don’t require hand gestures to make either, because the channeller will have to make other weaves at the same time that do require gestures. It is not known if this ter’angreal works the same on men (the requirement to be naked indicates perhaps not) or on non-channellers, or whether male channellers can activate it.

The first weave is to create something with very thin flows of Air, what is not specified (New Spring, Practice), since it will vary according to the situation created in the ter’angreal. Tying off is allowed. A mistake with this weave can make a deafening thunderclap. Nynaeve made a wall in her test.

The second weave is one of the complex and useless sort, requiring all of the Five Powers:

Air and Fire so, and Earth thus. Spirit, then Air once more. For some reason, you could not hold these weaves only partly done for very long or they collapsed into something else entirely. Spirit again, then Fire and Earth together…Air again, then Spirit and Water, all placed precisely… Earth again, then Fire, then more Air. The thing was beginning to look like the most hopeless knot in the world…More Spirit laid down and Earth threaded through...More Air, and Fire like so, followed by Water, Earth and Spirit. Then all five at once. Light what a ghastly tangle! And not finished yet…

- New Spring, Practice

The weaves cannot be held because the test is to force the channeller to make other weaves while doing this complex one. Any faltering will result in failure.

The forty seventh weave makes the sound of bells, the forty eighth makes a burning blue star shoot in the air and the forty ninth makes jets of air (Towers of Midnight, A Choice). The sixty second weave, if done incorrectly, collapses in a tangle of Earth, Air, Water and Spirit that leaves the skin clammy (New Spring, Shreds of Serenity). The eighty first weave is a very complex weave of Fire, Air and Spirit that creates three slightly different coloured rings of fire in the air which glow with unusual light and the eighty second weave is complex and makes a popping sound ( The Gathering Storm, The Plan For Arad Doman). The last weave produces a shower of shining colourful flecks if woven correctly and will painfully redden the skin if done incorrectly (New Spring, It Finishes).

The candidate experiences many different environments, situations, enemies and attacks, all seemingly real, but she lives entirely in the moment, remembering nothing of before the ter’angreal and forgetting events after each attack. Not until she leaves the ter’angreal does her memory return fully.

The test for each candidate is different and is tailored to what the Aes Sedai know of her character (New Spring, It Finishes) plus perhaps things the ter’angreal takes from her mind:

"You can sometimes create visions and situations based on the mind of the woman being tested," Egwene said. "It is an odd experience, using this ter'angreal. One that I am not certain I understand."...
Unlike the test to be raised to Accepted—which was made entirely by the ter'angreal—this test involved the sisters actively working to make Nynaeve prove herself.

- Towers of Midnight, A Choice

They probably plan beforehand what scenarios to use with each of the 100 weaves to best distract the channeller from making the weave calmly and correctly.


Death could result from being unable to overcome an attack, since injuries are real, or from refusing to leave loved ones behind in the ter’angreal. The candidate can also fail by making a mistake in the weave, losing composure, or by channelling when not on the sign, although the latter is not supposed to be possible. There may be good reason for the prohibition against channelling when not on the sign; it may be dangerous or fatal. If a candidate fails and survives failing, she collects her things, says goodbye and is put out of the Tower (New Spring, It Finishes). Some women never come out of the ter’angreal, but they cannot be killed by the actual weaves of the test; they must fail to escape the physical or emotional attacks. Any injuries received within the ter’angreal are real, just as in Tel’aran’rhiod. As well as sustaining injuries which required Healing, Nynaeve also lost part of her braid.

Weaving balefire while in the ter’angreal destabilises it, and could destroy it and kill the candidate and those operating the ter’angreal.

Wise Ones' Apprentice Three Rings

The ter’angreal to test Wise Ones’ apprentices is in Rhuidean, and consists of three dull grey metal rings, each more than two paces across, standing on edge and joined at the middle (The Fires of Heaven, A Departure). The naked woman is sent with a last reminder to return (The Shadow Rising, Beyond the Stone) as the novices are for their testing. She steps into one ring—which one does not matter, or is a matter of fate (The Fires of Heaven, A Departure)—and sees all of her possible lives, every decision made differently. The ter’angreal works without channelling. Aes Sedai may have studied the If worlds in order to make this ter'angreal. Some cannot face the future and do not return from the rings (The Shadow Rising, Beyond the Stone). Again, it is not known if the ter’angreal works the same way for men. The requirement for nudity may indicate it does not.

No one could remember so many possible futures, but a woman retains enough to have a sense of what things will happen in her life—whether she wants them to or not—and what things won’t happen—no matter how much she wants them to. Often, she does not remember until an important choice is on her and then there may be a hint or a mental warning.

The Wise Ones appear to have asked Aviendha what she experienced:

"You know your fate, Aviendha. You will be a Wise One of great strength and great authority, and more besides.”

- The Shadow Rising, Among the Wise Ones

They may do this to all apprentices, or perhaps they asked Aviendha because she was struggling against her fate and their commands. Aviendha may have volunteered the information to explain her actions. Aviendha learned she would love Rand, find sister-wives, become an important Wise One and more. She had a warning that it would be a bad idea to go to Rand while there was an enormous amount of the Power being channelled (Crossroads of Twilight, A Blazing Beacon).

From her trip to the rings, Moiraine knew that becoming Rand’s lover would be disastrous. She also discovered that without her sacrifice, Lanfear would either enslave or kill Rand (The Fires of Heaven, Fading Words). One good reason Lanfear had to be removed is because she knew Rand had the two access keys to the Choedan Kal and would press him to use them with her, especially since her jealous rage had brought her to the point of open action. She might kill him if he refused to share them with her; or if she were able to Compel or seduce him, enslave him so they could use them together.

Moiraine also saw all possible consequences of that confrontation in the rings: she would be trapped in the Eelfinns’ world and believed dead even though she is alive. If she was to be rescued successfully, Thom, Mat and another man were the ones that must make the attempt. And it would be so risky that any of them, including Moiraine, could die or they could all live and die as captives of the Eelfinn (Knife of Dreams, A Village in Shiota). Even the timing was important: Mat must not see Moiraine’s letter to Thom until he asks about it. Moiraine knew that Mat would know how to find her (through the Tower of Ghenjei) and she also saw that the game of Foxes and Snakes would be important in effecting her rescue (see Foxes and Snakes article).

It is unknown when the Aiel began to use this ter’angreal and if the Aes Sedai in Rhuidean advised them through the Dream on its use. It may not be used in the way it was originally intended to be used. The rings are still in Rhuidean and no one is allowed to enter them without the Wise Ones’ permission (The Fires of Heaven, A Departure). They were roped off, and were one of only two ter’angreal remaining in the open in Rhuidean (Towers of Midnight, Near Avendesora, the other being the Glass Columns).

Twisted Redstone Doorway in Rhuidean

This ter’angreal is a large twisted doorframe of polished redstone with three lines of triangles points down along each upright. The triangles are apparently the sign of the Eelfinn (foxes), whose realm this doorway opens to. Any person can step through the doorway, since channelling is not required, but they can use the ter’angreal only once. In this ter’angreal there is an agreement with the Eelfinn: the petitioner can ask three requests and the Eelfinn will always grant them, though perhaps in a way not intended by the petitioner, and at a very high price. As well as the price, the Eelfinn savour the petitioner’s experiences and emotions and perhaps forge a mental link so they can harvest their experiences and memories (see below). The petitioner must also abide by the treaties and agreements and carry no iron, instruments of music or devices for making light (The Shadow Rising, Rhuidean). The ter’angreal was in Rhuidean, but was taken by Kadere’s wagons to Cairhien. It is now destroyed.

Like the Accepted and Aes Sedai ter’angreal described above, when the person steps through, they experience white light, only in this ter’angreal it is more extreme and accompanied by a vast roar of sound (The Shadow Rising, Rhuidean). The doorway allows entry to another world, where different natural laws operate, and the light and sound are a reflection of the gulf between the two worlds and the ‘distance’ travelled in one step.

In the world of the Eelfinn, the doorway stands in a large star-shaped chamber with a dull white floor and many thick black columns, each with eight ridges, the edges of which glow with a soft yellow light. The Eelfinn are very tall, pale and lean with very wide shoulders and narrow waists. They give the impression of foxes with their large colourless eyes, narrow-jawed faces, pointed ears, gruff voices and stiff, reddish hair (The Shadow Rising, Rhuidean). They are predatory—their black kilts are held up by human leather straps. Mat believes that the Eelfinn never come to the main world side of the twisted doorway ter’angreal for longer than minutes at a time (Knife of Dreams, Dragons Eggs).

When Mat stepped through, he made his requests entirely by chance, not knowing anything about the Eelfinn and thinking the agreement was the same as with the Aelfinn (see below). He asked for the holes in his memories to be filled and received the memories of men who entered the Eelfinn’s world and returned to live and die in the Westlands. None of Mat’s memories date from before Maecine of Eharon (400‒500 years before the Trolloc Wars; and thus over 2500 years ago), or from after Arthur Paendrag Tanreall (1000 years ago) and none of the memories are of childhood or growing up. How did the Eelfinn get these memories? According to Robert Jordan:

At least a partial answer will be coming up in the next main sequence book, so I guess you could say this is a RAFO. But I will say that if I said those adventurers all entered through the two ter'angreal, I misspoke. A good many entered through the Tower of Ghenjei, which was more widely known in earlier years, if never exactly a household name.

Mat thinks the Eelfinn create some sort of link to any human who visits them, a link that allows them to copy all of the person’s memories after that right up until the moment that person dies (Knife of Dreams, Dragons Eggs). He also believes that the Eelfinn, and maybe the Aelfinn too, therefore know everything Mat now does or experiences through this link (Knife of Dreams, A Village in Shiota).

Mat also asked for a way to be free of Aes Sedai and the Power and received a medallion ter’angreal that breaks a web (stops direct weaves from touching him, see the Jewellery section). His last ‘request’ was for a way out to be away from the Eelfinn and back in Rhuidean. They returned him to Rhuidean, but hanged him from Avendesora (an Odin parallel, see Mat essay) because he did not offer them any payment or price. Rand was luckily able to revive him. Mat thought they fulfilled their request just be returning him and that the ashandarei was a taunt, but he had it backwards: it was the real fulfilment of his request, the hanging in Rhuidean was their price.

Moiraine and Lanfear also went through the ter’angreal. This was Moiraine’s doing; she saw from the Wise Ones' ter’angreal (see above) that Lanfear had to be removed or else she would kill or enslave Rand. As Moiraine forced them both through the doorway, she clawed Lanfear’s bracelet angreal away.

Immediately they entered embracing saidar, white light filled the doorway. Lightning appeared around the ter’angreal, which gave off a buzzing noise and then burned (The Fires of Heaven, Fading Words). A ter’angreal usually melts when misused or overloaded in some way. Some have speculated that the ter’angreal burned because Lanfear had entered the ter’angreal once before and Moiraine’s actions had caused the agreement to be violated (but see below for Mat’s experience in Tear). The theory is that the gateway opened for Moiraine but she pushed Lanfear through with her at exactly the same time. When the Finns detected the breach they sealed the gateway.

However, Moiraine and Lanfear might have cut the connection between worlds with their channelling. At a booksigning, Jordan said that the door way burned in part because both were channelling and the world on the other side of the doorway has a radically different set of natural laws (Original WOTFAQ).

Moiraine wore her best clothes and jewellery (The Fires of Heaven, Choices), presumably because this is what she saw herself wearing in the Wise Ones' ter’angreal. They may have come in handy to pay the Eelfinn and indeed when we see her in Towers of Midnight, she is naked. One of her requests was for the angreal bracelet. Lanfear was also granted three requests since she went into the Eelfin’s doorway and that holds the Eelfinn to the bargain, but later said she was held by both Aelfinn and Eelfinn (Winter’s Heart, With the Choedan Kal).

Twisted Redstone Doorway in Tear

This ter’angreal is a large twisted doorframe of polished redstone with three sinuous lines running down each upright from top to bottom (The Shadow Rising, Into the Doorway). It looks unstable but does not move easily. The sinuous lines are apparently the sign of the Aelfinn (snakes), whose realm this doorway opens to. Any person can step through the doorway, since channelling is not required, but they can use the ter’angreal only once. When Mat stepped through the doorway a second time, he was not transported; the ter’angreal did not work at all.

In this ter’angreal there is an agreement with the Aelfinn: the petitioner can ask three questions about past, present, or future and the Aelfinn will always answer them, though perhaps in a way not always understood by the petitioner. The petitioner must ask all three questions and hear the answers before they leave because otherwise the agreement cannot be fulfilled, since the petitioner cannot re-enter this ter’angreal. Frivolous questions are punished, though what may be serious for one can be frivolous for another. Most importantly, questions touching the Shadow have dire consequences for the petitioner—they may be killed or injured if they ask them (The Shadow Rising, Doorways). The answers are true so long as they are about the petitioner’s own future.

How are the Aelfinn able to read the future of a petitioner? Moiraine speculates:

That world is . . . folded . . . in strange ways. I cannot be clearer. It may be that that allows them to read the thread of a human life, read the various ways it may yet be woven into the Pattern. Or perhaps it is a talent of the people. The answers are often obscure, however.

- The Shadow Rising, Into the Doorway

If the Aelfinn do read the thread of a human life, it may be necessary for that person to be in front of them, or in their world at least. This would explain why their answers to questions about the future of other people are not true. They truly are alien however.

In exchange, the Aelfinn savour the petitioner’s experiences and emotions. It is not known if the Aelfinn link to the person and harvest their memories and experiences as the Eelfinn apparently do (see above). The petitioner must also abide by the treaties and agreements and carry no iron, instruments of music or devices for making light (The Shadow Rising, Into the Doorway). The Old Tongue is the preferred language of trade.

The ter’angreal is in Tear in the Great Holding. It used to be in the possession of the Firsts of Mayene, who used its answers to help defend Mayene from Tear (The Shadow Rising, Doorways). About three hundred years ago, a First, Halvar, donated the ter’angreal to the High Lords as a goodwill gesture to convince them that Mayene would always put its own interests after those of Tear.

Like the Accepted and Aes Sedai ter’angreal, the person experiences white light on entering and leaving, only in this ter’angreal it is more extreme and accompanied by a vast roar of sound (The Shadow Rising, Into the Doorway). The doorway allows entry to another world, where different natural laws operate, and the light and sound are a reflection of the gulf between the two worlds and the ‘distance’ travelled in one step.

In the world of the Aelfinn, the ter’angreal stands in a large round chamber with a floor tiled in spirals of white and yellow stripes and many spiral yellow columns with glowing spheres atop. The Aelfinn are very tall and thin and have straight black hair. They give the impression of snakes with limbs: they have scaly skin, eyes with vertical pupils and layers of yellow cloth winding around their bodies (The Shadow Rising, Into the Doorway). When Mat went to the worlds of the Aelfinn and Eelfinn he found that the ter’angreal had been destroyed (Towers of Midnight, The One Left Behind) possibly by Moridin when he went there to find Lanfear/Cyndane.

While in the ter’angreal, Mat heard a bell toll, the walls rang with reverberations and the ground shook. This was because Mat and Rand, two strong ta’veren were in the ter’angreal at the same time. According to Moiraine:

“One of you would have been bad enough, but two ta’veren at once—you might have torn the connection entirely and been trapped there.”

- The Shadow Rising, Into the Doorway

The questions they asked and the answers they received are discussed in The Aelfinn's Answers article.


Written by Linda, August, 2005 and updated March, 2013