Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
In the Age of Legends
Aes Sedai, in the Old Tongue, means "servants of all," and the Aes Sedai of the Age of Legends lived up to this definition. They aided mankind as scientists, healers and philosophers. Women used saidar and men saidin, as today, although it is believed that channelers in the Age of Legends were much stronger in the Power than modern equivalents; it is believed that they could fly, and things that would seem miraculous today were supposedly commonplace to them. Some of their lost Talents, such as Traveling (teleportation) and Dreaming, have only just been rediscovered. As today, however, the greatest works were wrought by men and women working together.
It was, ironically, an Aes Sedai research team at the Collam Daan that ripped open the Dark One's Prison. The researchers, headed by Mierin Eronaile, thought they had found a power that both men and women could wield. They were quite wrong. What followed was a general decline of civilization over the course of several hundred years, followed by the War of Power. In the end, the Dragon sealed the Dark One in his prison at Shayol Ghul, and the Dark One's final counterattack, tainted saidin itself, driving all male Aes Sedai mad. The women could not control them, and the men, rampaged across the known world, boiling oceans, raising mountains where there were none, killing countless innocents. This was the Breaking of the World. Whilst some of the men managed to find refuge in Ogier stedding (where they could not touch the Power, and therefore would not go mad), after a time they left the stedding hoping that the taint to the saidin had disappeared. It had not and they went insane, prolonging the breaking of the world (but ensuring that it was not as disasterous as if all the men had gone insane all at once).
After the breaking
The female Aes Sedai organized themselves on the island of Tar Valon, and built the White Tower, which the city of Tar Valon grew around. Their policies have since changed. The Aes Sedai, though still 'servants of all,' keep their own agenda. Though they still provide aid and altruism to any who ask, it is said that any gift from an Aes Sedai has a price, and often one you never see coming. The Amyrlin Seat, the woman chosen to govern the Aes Sedai, became as powerful as any king, queen or legislative body. The Aes Sedai also ensured that any man with the ability to channel would be severed ("gentled") from the Power. While the Aes Sedai overcame great crises such as the Trolloc Wars, the War of the Hundred Years, the Aiel War, and many corrupt Amyrlins, an event in 999 NE broke the Tower's unity. Elaida do Avriny a'Roihan, an ambitious sister of the Red Ajah, illegally overthrew Siuan Sanche, the ruling Amyrlin and formerly of the Blue Ajah, and assumed the Seat herself; in response, the Aes Sedai split into armed camps, one in support of Elaida and one in rebellion. There has always been strife between Reds and Blues, and now the rift seems too great to be healed: there are no Blues at the White Tower supporting Elaida, and no Reds with the rebels. The rebels made their home base in Salidar (the birthplace of one of the Blues' most celebrated Amyrlins) and gathered strength there temporarily; they have since moved to Tar Valon to attempt to retake it and depose Elaida.
Aes Sedai divide themselves into seven Ajahs. An Ajah is a sub-society which has representation on the administrative councils; its own ideology and purpose for its members; its own ruling head or heads; and its own spy network. The Ajahs are Blue, White, Green, Yellow, Red, Brown and Grey. Their is also an eighth Ajah, the Black, whose existence is hotly denied and, in fact, was unconfirmed until quite recently. Black sisters keep their allegiance a secret and belong to another Ajah as well, so it is difficult to determine if any given sister is Black.
The Blue Ajah
The second smallest Ajah after the White, but probably of the most respected. This is in part due to the fact that many Amrylins over the years have been of the Blue. Blue sisters strive for causes and justice, and they also have the most extensive eyes-and-ears network of any ajah. They are closely allied with the Green, a friendship that has lasted a thousand years, and are on good terms with the Brown as well. The Blue Ajah is governed by a leader, known as the Head Selector. When Siuan Sanche was removed, the Blues fled Elaida's wrath and organized the Salidar Tower, the rebel faction of the Aes Sedai. Not one Blue remained with Elaida. Important Blues include Moiraine Damodred, Siuan Sanche, Sheriam Bayanar, Leane Sharif (after being Healed from her stilling, she switched to the Green Ajah).
The Red Ajah
The Red Ajah is the largest Ajah. They have, for millennia, been seeking out men who can channel and gentling them. They do this mostly by detecting the residue of weaves made from saidin. As part of their ideology they despise men, and even refuse to bond Warders. Red sisters generally do not have friends outside of their Ajah. Reds are rarely raised to be Amyrlin; only two Amyrlins have ever been dethroned and they were both Red. The last Red to be raised to the Stole was Bonwhin, whose attempt at controlling Artur Hawkwing led to an attempted invasion of Tar Valon by Hawkwing. She was removed and replaced with a Blue. Reds and Blues have been enemies ever since. The Ajah is governed by a leader known as Highest. Elaida, a Red, has raised herself to Amyrlin, causing a divide between sisters of all Ajahs. Important Reds include Elaida do Avriny a'Roihan and Galina Casban.
The Gray Ajah
The diplomats of the White Tower are Grays: they are ambassadors, conflict mediators, and treaty drafters. Little else is known about them, although their leader is called the Head Clerk. Worth mentioning is the Grays tried to hold together the coalition of nations that fought against the Aiel during the Aiel War but failed. Though it has not been confirmed, it is logical to assume that Grays are skilled at political maneuvering. Important Grays include Merilille Ceandevin.
The Green Ajah
Greens call themselves "The Battle Ajah," as their primary purpose is to prepare themselves for Tarmon Gaidon, the Last Battle, when the Dark One breaks free and must be opposed. They are also the White Tower's counter to the Dreadlords, channelers (both men and women) who have openly gone to the Shadow and sometimes lead their armies in battle. (Interestingly, Dreadlords have not been seen in recent events, despite the rising of the Dark One's power.) Greens are also willing to bond more than one Warder and are known for their love of men; in this way, the Green is almost the ideological opposite of the Red. Greens are also known to marry their Warders (how they manage this if they have more than one is a question that has not been resolved). However, they do not oppose the gentling of men who can channel, as the example of Cadsuane Melaidhrin clearly sets. They have a long history of friendship with the Blues, and generally oppose the Red, although they were siding with them in many issues before the Tower broke. While many Greens did side with the rebel Blues, many stayed with the Elaida in the Tower. The Greens are governed by a single woman known as the Captain General. Important Greens include Elayne Trakand, Cadsuane Melaidhrin, Alanna Mosvani, Myrelle Berengari, Vandene Namelle, and Lean Sharif.
The Yellow Ajah
The Yellows dedicate themselves to the art of Healing, a Talent which not all sisters possess, but which is considered a requirement for entry into the Ajah. The best Healers are always Yellow sisters, and it is said they will try to Heal anything. Until recently it was thought that stilling could not be Healed, although a new sister, Nynaeve al'Meara, has discovered a cure, giving a new role to the Yellow Ajah. They are a smaller Ajah and have a minimal eyes-and-ears organization. Their leader is called the Head Weaver. Important Yellows include Nynaeve al'Meara.
The Brown Ajah
The Browns dedicate themselves to knowledge and history and generally forsake the mundane world. They can be usually found in the Great Library in the White Tower (which they administer), looking for something new to study. Min's viewings and Perrin's Wolfbrother have come under their scrutiny more than once. They are the wisest concerning Tower and One Power history. For the past few centuries they have been at odds with the Blue Ajah, but they are not enemies. They are not governed by a sole woman, but by a ruling council. Important Browns include Verin Mathwin, Adeleas Namelle.
The White Ajah
The smallest Ajah in the Tower. They ignore the social causes that define the Blue, Grey, Green and Red Ajahs and also have no room for the worldly knowledge that the Browns and to some extent the Yellows seek. They preoccupy themselves with questions of philosophy and truth, and it is said that they have no room in their hearts for passions. It was White sisters who first made the connection between the Reds' gentling crusade and the dwindling numbers and strength of female channelers. They proposed to the Tower that male channelers should, either before or after gentling, be allowed to mate with Aes Sedai. The Hall of the Tower flatly refused the idea (especially after one Green Sitter joked that, since the Whites had come up with the idea, they should be the one to bear the children). Whites are friendly with Blues, and generally oppose Reds. The Head of the White Ajah is called the First Reasoner. Important Whites include Alviarin Freidhen.
The Black Ajah
The Black Ajah is an unofficial and secret Ajah, comprised of sisters which hide in other Ajahs and who have forsaken their Oaths as Aes Sedai and have sworn to serve the Dark One. Until recently Aes Sedai denied fervently the existence of the Black. The Black Ajah is administered by a Great Council of Thirteen. It is thought that the Black Ajah was founded by Ishamael himself, who was not bound completely into Shayol Ghul as the rest of the Forsaken were. Reports of its existence were only recently accepted by other sisters when Liandrin, a Red, fled the Tower along with twelve other sisters, stealing several ter'angreal and killing a number of Tower personnel. The Ajah is currently controlled by Mesaana, who is undercover in the White Tower. Since Blacks can violate the Three Oaths, it is logical to assume that they somehow have access to the Oath Rod (which, with Alviarin, Elaida's right-hand woman, in the Ajah, isn't much of a stretch). Important Blacks include Liandrin, Alviarin Friedhen, Galina Casban.
Black sisters are organized into "hearts," a group of three women who know each other, who each know one sister in another heart. Only those very high in the Council (perhaps only the highest) know of every Black sister.
Achieving the Shawl
To become Aes Sedai is a long process. Girls with the spark or who can learn to channel are taken to the Tower at a young age, usually in their teens. They start out as novices, and wear a white dress. They attend classes taught by sisters and Accepted concerning the One Power. They have hardly any time for themselves, because when they are not training they are usually doing chores. They live a meager existence, with their dorms a small room with hardly any material possessions. They are governed by the Mistress of Novices, who is appointed by the Amyrlin. When Aes Sedai feel that a novice has proven herself worthy and respectful, she is summoned to a ceremony which will raise her to Accepted. She has the right to refuse the ceremony twice, but on the third time if she refuses she will be put out of the Tower. The ceremony consists of the novice walking naked through three archways, and once she starts she cannot stop, or she will be put out of the Tower. The Archways are a ter'angreal. When the novice walks through the first, she is faced with a fear from her past. She is usually bewildered and does not know how she got there, remembering nothing. When she comes out, she walks through the second archway, where she is presented with a fear from the present. The third archway is for a fear that is to come. No one knows if the fears come true, or if the world they are transported to is real. When they are in these dimensions, novices do not remember anything from their lives, and so do not always remember that the way out will only come once; this is the challenge of the ter'angreal, and some women never come back. If they channel while within the arches, the novice may burn herself out and permanently lose the ability to channel. Novices are also not allowed to speak of what they saw or did in the archways.
Once Accepted, the women have more privileges and are not usually forced to do chores. They can also wear the Aes Sedai serpent ring, but only on their ring finger. They train harder and also teach courses to novices. They spend several years more as Accepted, although when they are deemed ready to become full Aes Sedai they are summoned for another testing ceremony. The Accepted is brought to a chamber where sisters cause a ter'angreal to activate. The Accepted steps in. In this world, the Accepted seeks out a symbol on the ground and weaves a hundred very complex threads while retaining perfect composure. The sisters simulate distractions to try to throw her off.
The Oath Rod
When an Accepted passes the test, she is brought to another ceremony with the Amyrlin and representatives of every Ajah present (obviously the Black is not summoned). The Oath Rod, a ter'angreal that binds Aes Sedai to whatever oath they swear on it while channeling into it, is given to them. The Accepted then swears the Three Oaths. The Oaths were not always a part of the Aes Sedai tradition, and some sisters wish it still wasn't. The Rod was discovered sometime between the Trolloc Wars and the War of a Hundred Years. While sisters are bound to their Ajahs, they needed a common set of goals and principles to bind sisters of every Ajah together. The Accepted swears to never speak a lie, never make a weapon for a man to kill another with, and never to use the One Power as a weapon except against Shadowspawn, unless her life is in danger, or her Warder's, or the life of another sister. Sisters cannot break these oaths, though they can be circumvented (for instance, an Aes Sedai may deliberately put herself in danger to remove the constraint on using the Power as a weapon). Once they have sworn the oaths, the Accepted is now an Aes Sedai and chooses her Ajah.
The Hall of Servants
The Hall of Servants is the administrative body of the Aes Sedai and White Tower. It is comprised of 21 Sitters, who act like senators, three from each Ajah. There is also an Amrylin Seat and the Keeper of the Chronicles.
The Amrylin Seat
The Amrylin Seat, or simply the Amrylin, is possibly the most powerful woman on the continent. She is appointed for life by the Hall, and sheds any affiliation she has to her Ajah. The Amrylin is from no Ajahs, and from all. She wears a stole with all seven Ajah colors. She is the head of all Aes Sedai, they refer to her as Mother and she to them as Children. She is assisted in her duties by the Keeper of the Chronicles, who is second in command, and is usually from the same Ajah as the Amrylin. Her full title is The Amyrlin Seat, the Watcher of the Seals (in reference to the seven seals used to shut the Dark One's prison, though no one actually knows where they are anymore), The Flame of Tar Valon.
The Keeper of the Chronicles
The Amyrlin's second-in-command, the Keeper's duties are vague. What is known is that the Amyrlin chooses her and she, too, is appointed for life (either her's or the Amyrlin's, whichever one ends first). Traditionally, the Keeper comes from the same Ajah as the Amyrlin, but recently both Elaida a'Roihan (of the Tower) and Egwene al'Vere (of the Salidar rebels) to choose Keepers from Ajahs other than their own. Unlike the Amyrlin, the Keeper does not shed her ajah affiliation. Siuan Sanche's Keeper was Leane Sharif (both of the Blue); Elaida's is Alviarin Freidhein (of the White), and Egwene's is Sheriam Bayanar, Siuan's former Mistress of Novices (of the Blue).
Sitters are highly esteemed sisters who have been chosen within their Ajah to represent their Ajah and its interests in the Hall of Servants. Typically, the leader or head of the Ajah is not a Sitter.
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