Aes Sedai and The Wheel of Time
The Wheel of Time
The Wheel of Time is a book series written by James Oliver Rigney, Jr. under alias Robert Jordan. Initially, Jordan planned to write six books, but after some time, this number was expanded to eleven. After Jordan's death, it was decided that book should have fourteen parts.
Although Jordan wrote this series very diligently for more than fifteen years, he didn't managed to finish it before his death in 2007. But his work had been continued. New writer was chosen by Harriet McDougal, Jordan's wife. It was Brandon Sanderson, great fantasy writer and fan of the Wheel of Time series.
In the Wheel of Time series, people with supernatural ability are called Aes Sedai. If someone wants to deserve this title and become Aes Sedai, she must fulfill numerous tasks. First of all, one must be able to use One Power.
This power, according to Robert Jordan, comes from the unlimited True Source, that represents the driving force of the world by moving the Wheel of Time.
It is divided into male and female half, which are very different, but they also work together. This is similar to the concept of the jing and jang. Those who can reach (mentally) this source are able to use its abilities and because of that, they can perform supernatural deeds.
Male half of this source is called saidin, and female is called saidar.
The Dark One (who represents the dark side in this book series) had corrupted the saidin three thousand years ago, and since than, all of the man who were able to reach the True Source are sentenced to insanity and excruciating death. Because crazy men with supernatural abilities are a great danger for the whole world, female Aes Sedai are responsible to find them and cut them off the True Source. It can be done using One Power on the person who is capable to 'channel' this power. Once when person is cut off, it can never channel again, and most people become very depressed and dies after cutting of.
In time when True Source was corrupted, men haven't been cut off it, and that lead to Breaking of the World (series of events that changed the look of the continents) by male Aes Sedai that existed back then. In the time the books are about, there are no male Aes Sedai.
Organization of Aes Sedai
Aes Sedai are the most powerful persons in the world, not only because of their supernatural abilities, but also because the strict training every women pass until it becomes one of them. They are interested in everything that is happening in the world and consider their obligation and right to interfere in every important political event. Almost every monarch in the known world has one of them as adviser.
But the center of Aes Sedai's power is Tar Valon, the most beautiful town in Jordan's imagine world. Tar Valon is placed on the big island on the river Erinin. White Tower, place where Aes Sedai live and work, is built in the center of the town.
Any girl that want's to be Aes Sedai can come to White Tower and take her chance. Most of them can't channel One Power, and as such, will be refused, but the one that does, becomes 'novices'. Most novices are younger than eighteen years, because they should be submissive to the strict rules of White Tower, and older women tend to be more independent.
After few years of learning and working, novices that has needed strength with One Power, and character that is appropriate for one Aes Sedai, can take the next step and take the exam for 'Accepted'. Accepted has more freedom than novices, but they need to work even harder in order to become Aes Sedai. If women pass this test, it gets a ring shaped as serpent that bites it's own tail. This is the symbol of the circular nature of time in Jordan's world. It is also the symbol of Aes Sedai, and on of the ways to recognize one of them. Accepted has to wear the ring on the third finger of their left hand.
At the end, only a handful of women become Aes Sedai, while others has to leave White Tower as novices or accepted. On the other hand, most of the Aes Sedai don't leave Tar Valon except when they have some important task to accomplish somewhere else. In order to gain this title, women has to pass very complicated test and to swear upon Oath Rod. The oath given upon this object, can not be broken.
Every Aes Sedai has to swear the Three Oaths. They obligate them to tell only the truth, to not make a weapon, and to not hurt anyone with One Power (except the ones that are on the dark side, or in the case of self-defense or defense of her Warder or another Aes Sedai.)
Aes Sedai are also known as 'sisters'.
Sisters are divided between seven sub-societies which are called Ajahs. On top of all Aes Sedai is Amyrlin Seat, who is elected for life and can't be over throned except in extraordinary cases.
Although they are coming from different social layers and countries, they are ranked by their power. For example, Moiraina Sedai, who use to be a member of a royal family is the best friend of Siuan Sanche, fisherman's daughter who later became Amyrlin Seat.
The Ajaxs are: Blue, Brown, Green, Gray, Red, White, Yellow. There is also a name 'Black Ajax' for sisters who crossed to the dark side. Amyrlin doesn't belong to any Ajah, but she is also a part of all of them.
Aes Sedai from blue Ajah are interested in justice and important causes. They are open minded and involved in happenings around the world.
Brown Ajah is dedicated to knowledge, and green Ajah is known as Battle Ajah. Green sisters are known for their tolerance for man. Sometimes they even get married, and this is not common among Aes Sedai, because their power can be frightening for men.
The Red Ajah is looking for the men who can feel the saidin. They are preventing those men from madness and doing terrible things.
White sisters are dedicated to philosophy and truth, and Yellow are healers.
The existence of Black Ajah was always denied by other sisters. The reason for that is their work for Dark One and breaking Oaths of White Tower.