This section contains information on and discussion of legends and myths which RJ may have used as source material and works which share similarities with TWOT.
"There are elements from Norse, Chinese, Japanese, and American Indian mythologies, to name just a few. I think it adds resonance to the story, although I've taken great care not to follow the older material in any slavish way. Occasionally, I will add in details here or there, and then discover that I have done something that is absolutely authentic to the myth I was working from." [Waldenbooks' 'zine Hailing Frequencies]
NOTE: Due to the large volume of material covered in this update of the WOTFAQ and the realively short amount of time in which do it, this section has not been updated to include information from Knife of Dreams, The Gathering Storm or New Spring. For readers interested in discovering more about what Jordan referenced when creating his world, I suggest visiting the excellent 13th Depository maintained by the even more excellent Linda Taglieri.
We plan to update this section sometime in 2011.
Asmodean: A demon described in the Old Testament book of Tobit, which is included only in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox canon of scriptures (you won't find it in Jewish or Protestant Bibles; it's considered apocrypha in those circles). In the book of Tobit, Sara had been married seven times, but Asmodeus had slain all of them before they could consummate their marriage (Tobit 3:7-8). Sara eventually married Tobias, the son of Tobit, who was able to banish Asmodeus by burning the heart and liver of a special fish given to him by the angel Raphael in their bedchamber (Tobit 6:16-17, 8:2-3). Asmodeus fled to Egypt, where Raphael caught up with him and bound him up. [Rafael Sevilla]
Ba'alzamon: Ba'al, Baelzebub, or Ba'al Shamin (literally, "the lord of the heavens," an appellation of Ba'al). Baelzebub, Lord of the Flies, was an ancient Canaanite fertility deity that competed with worship of Yahweh in Old Testament times. Later became a euphemism for the devil from the time of Christ on (see Matthew 10:24, 12:24-27, Mark 3:22, and Luke 11:15-18) from its similarity to the Aramaic word beeldebaba ("enemy"), and from the fact that many ancient pagan gods were demonized in Christian times anyway. [Rafael Sevilla]
Be'lal: Belial, literally means "worthless" in Hebrew; "sons of Belial" is used throughout the Bible to denote evil men. Eventually becomes the name of a demon in Medieval times. [Rafael Sevilla] Belial was often noted as commanding legions, and has been referred to as the general of Hell. Be'lal was one of the noted generals of the Shadow. [John Novak]
Christ Imagery: There are tons of Christ/Savior parallels in Rand's character (although this savior is going to do major damage before defeating the DO), but here are a few of the highlights:
Ishamael: In Genesis, Abraham's eldest son (to an Egyptian serving girl Hagar) was called Ishmael. Apparently Abraham's wife took a disliking to young Ishmael and pressured Big Abe into exiling Ish and Hagar into the desert. The name literally means "God has Heard," because God is said to have heard of mother and son's plight at Sarah's hand. Jordan seems to have a taste for irony, methinks, as Ishamael is called the Betrayer of Hope! The whole quote about "every hand raised against him" is interesting, and in full:
"You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man, his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility towards all of his brothers." [Genesis 16:11-12]
As a side note, Ishmael is said to be the ancestor of the present-day Arabs and other peoples who now dwell in the lands around Israel.
Jehannah: Gehennah, a place of fire and torment. Literally "Place of Torment." A valley near Jerusalem where Solomon, king of Israel, built "a high place", or place of worship, for the gods Chemosh and Moloch. The valley came to be regarded as a place of abomination because some of the Israelites sacrificed their children to Moloch there. In a later period it was made a refuse dump and perpetual fires were maintained there to prevent pestilence. Thus, in the New Testament, Gehennah became synonymous with hell [Encyclopedia Mythica]. In the novels, Jehannah is a poorly run city, filled with mobs and low-class sorts.
Lews Therin/Lord of the Morning: Lucifer, "the morning star". The literal translation of Lucifer is "bringer of light" [Matthew Forrester].
Lothair Mantelar (Founder of The Children of the Light): Martin Luther?
Masema: Saul/Paul; goes from being anti-Rand to rabidly pro-Rand. Also, John the Baptist; the "voice crying out in the wilderness" proclaiming the coming of the savior and all that.
"I actually came across a reference to a demon named Mastema, which seems to have been an apocryphal name for Satan-- Satan in the sense of Chief Accuser, rather than corruptor" [John Novak]. Bill Kte'pi notes that Mastema appears in the Book of Jubilees as the head of the demons. Apparently he is involved with testing Abraham. Jubilees is part of the Pseudepigrapha [Gr.,"things falsely ascribed"], a collection of early Jewish and some Jewish-Christian writings composed between c.200 B.C. and c.A.D. 200, not found in the Bible or rabbinic writings.
M'Hael: Michael the Archangel who was Lucifer's chief opponent. The derivation of Michael is "Mikha'el" from the Hebrew meaning "who is like god". [Michael Schmidt] Michael was the great prince of all angels and leader of the celestial armies. [Encyclopedia Mythica] Amnon Wenger adds that the Hebrew word "m'nahael" means "principal" or "person in charge".
Paaren Disen: Paradise
Sammael: A member of Lucifer's host, often incorrectly identified as another name for Lucifer himself. Jeremy Yoskowitz tells us that "Samael" is an earlier name for Uriel, the angel of death from the Kabbalah. Some versions of the Lilith legend name Sammael as her husband (after Adam spurned her), and general of the army of demonspawn they birthed together. Their goal was to replace Eve's children with Lilith's.
Seven Seals: The Seven Seals of Revelations.
Shayol Ghul: Sheol: Hebrew for hell; Ghul: Gol or Gul, Arabic for Demon
Stigmata: There are five stigmatic signs recognized by the Catholic Church:
(Note on #1: There used to be much discussion among historical theologians as to whether the nails would have been driven through the hands or the wrists, since modern medicine tells us the structure of the hands isn't strong enough to keep a human body nailed to anything. Since the 1970s on, the generally accepted idea has been Jesus was nailed to the cross through the wrists, but the bleeding of the hands is still considered canon stigmata.)
Now compare to Rand:
Tarmon Gai'don: Armageddon
Twelve Tribes: Compare the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve clans of the Aiel. In fact, there is a thirteenth "clan," the Jenn. This "clan" is credited with building Rhuidean -- the holy place (temple if you will) of the Aiel. The Israelites also had a people charged with taking care of the Ark of the Covenant as well as the religious ceremonies within the temple (especially within the Holy of Holies) and those people were the Levites. A tribe not counted among the twelve, so in effect a thirteenth tribe also.
Craig Levin points out that the Levites are counted in the 12 Tribes. It's just that Joseph's descendants split into 2 tribes later on, and the Levites don't get land, it is their job (theoretically) to care for the Lord's Temple and other altars across Israel. Which is even better, since there was the Jenn/Aiel split, and the Jenn's job was to take care of Rhuidean/the temple.
Virgin Birth: In LOC, some of the rumors about Rand say that he was born of a woman touched by no man [LOC: 2, A New Arrival, 78].
Wormwood: When Padan Fain shows up to visit Pedron Niall in the prologue of TDR, he calls himself "Ordeith", which Niall notes is Old Tongue for "wormwood". Revelations tells us that come Armageddon, a great star would fall from heaven: "And the name of the star is called wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters because they were made bitter."(Revelations 8:11) [William Stewart] Wormwood is mentioned several times elsewhere in the Bible as well, always in the sense of making things bitter or poisonous. [Ben Goodman] This one's my favorite:
"Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth, Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name: That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong, so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress." (Amos 5:7-9)
"Peace be on you always," Elyas replied, "and on all the People." He hesitated, then added, "I will find the song, or another will find the song, but the song will be sung, this year or in a year to come. As it once was so shall it be again, world without end."..."Peace be on you," Elyas said. "And on you," Raen said sadly. [TEOTW: 27, Shelter from the Storm, 346]
Twice dawns the day when his blood is shed. Once for mourning, once for birth.
This is very similar to the darkening of the sun when Christ is crucified:
And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. [Luke 23, verse 44-5]
Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the world. No I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. I came to set sons against their fathers, daughters against their mothers.... a man's worst enemies will be the members of his own family. [Matthew 10:34-36]
cf: TFOH trailer prophecy:
And what was once did come again--in fire and in storm splitting all in twain. For his peace...was the peace...of the sword.
Mat and Odin: Mat has many of the attributes of Odin - wide brimmed hat, a spear with ravens drawn on it which refers to "Thought" and "Memory" (the names of Odin's ravens) and will in the future almost certainly lose an eye. Also, Odin agreed to be hung from Yggdrasill in order to gain wisdom and power - a definite parallel to Mat being hung from the Tree o' Life in Rhuidean.
Heimdall's Horn: Heimdall's job was to guard the Rainbow bridge into Asgard against the Giants. During the Last Battle (Ragnarok), he was to blow the horn Gjall to signal the arrayed gods and dead heroes that it was time to fight. cf. Horn of Valere. Granted, there are differences - the Heroes are bound to the Horn and not to a specific cause, and they live in T'A'R rather than the afterlife as such (where they'd fight all day, cutting each other to pieces, then get healed at day's end. Always got a kick out of that - sounds like a real heavenly afterlife to me), but the concept of dead heroes waiting around for the final battle stays the same.
Rand and Tyr: Tyr was a Norse god of war and of justice. This is a parallel with Rand bringing strife to Randland, and with his concurrent attempts to rule justly and by the rule of law. (Note: Tyr is not connected to legality as a maker of peace or a bringer to justice, but more as the embodiment of laws as power, of the fight that is fought in court instead on the battlefield. The god of justice in the Norse pantheon is Forsete, of which next to nothing is known. [Karl-Johan Norén]) Tyr's arm was snarfled off by the monstrous wolf Fenrir (Perrin?) when the gods chained him. (The gods thus defeated one of their greatest enemies, at the loss of one of their greatest assets, Tyr's right (fighting) hand.) If this parallel is valid, then this could be evidence that Rand will lose his hand-- RJ said at a signing in Atlanta that he deliberately made Mat like Odin and Rand like Tyr. Furthermore, Tyr offered to put his hand in Fenrir's mouth as an assurance that the chains would be removed. Hence, it was a willing sacrifice. This may be analogous to Rand sacrificing his life or body parts at Tarmon Gai'don (or before).
Perrin and Thor: Karl-Johan Norén notes: "Even though Perrin does not share any attribute with Thor other than his strength, his beard and the hammer, their roles and personalities are remarkably similar. Both are mostly connected to the common man, both have a good head but are slow to use it, and both are terrible in their anger, though Thor is much [quicker to lose] it than Perrin. Perrin's hammer is a symbol for peace and building, but this trait is also present in Thor and Mjolnir, even though it is not readily present in the myths."
Tuon and Freyja: Tuon's personal sigil is "an ancient war-cart being driven by two lions." The Titaness Rhea, wife of Chronus and mother of Zeus, was described as driving a chariot being driven by lions. Karl-Johan Norén mentions that the Norse Goddess Freyja was also known to drive a war-cart driven by cats, and further was said to have been a lover of Odin. There are attributes of Odin, mostly the fact that he traded an eye to gain wisdom and insight, which are found in Mat, so this meshes nicely with Tuon filling the Freyja role. Additionally, Freyja was known to have a fondness for jewelry (one of her names was Menglöd - "fond of necklaces" ); Tuon is always described as adorned with gems and jewelry. Lastly, both Rhea and Freyja were fertility goddesses, and as such were linked to the moon and its cycle. Tuon's title "Daughter of the Nine Moons" can be interpreted as referring to the nine months of pregnancy, as well as matching, generally, the symbolic tie between a woman's fertility and the moon.
Cyndane: Cynthia, a poetic name for Artemis, the Greek Moon Goddess, who also was identified with Selena (see below). [Rich Boyé]
Jupiter's women: Several of the moons of Jupiter are named for his mistresses. Among them were:
These match up nicely with Aviendha, Elayne and Min. [Johan Gustafsson]
Kore: Tuon, the Daughter of the Nine Moons, has as one of her names, "Kore." Kore was an ancient name for Persephone, the Goddess of Spring, who was abducted by Hades, and later they married. At the end of WH, Mat abducts Tuon, and they are destined to marry as well. [Rich Boyé] Also, the name "Kore" literally means "daughter" or "maiden." [Encyclopedia Mythica]
Moiraine: Moirae or Moirai, the three Fates of Greek mythology. The name means "parts" or "alloted portions", and their job was to assign to every person his or her destiny, and direct their steps along the path from birth to death; their dictates could only be circumvented with great difficulty. Homer personified them as one goddess, Moira. [Jennifer Myak, Leigh Butler]
And as long as we're talking about the Fates, isn't it interesting that Min was raised by three women she calls her "aunts", though we never find out if they are actually related to her, who didn't seem at all fazed by her ability to see the fates of others? [Alan Ellingson, Matthew Hunter]
Oedipus: Doomed king of Thebes who killed his father and married his mother. When he discovered what he had done, he blinded himself and exiled himself from his city. He led the life of a blind beggar until he died near Athens. [Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, by Sophocles]. Possible connection to the vision of Rand as a blind beggar.
Orpheus: A great musician whose wife, Eurydice, was killed on their wedding night by a snake. Orpheus traveled to the kingdom of Hades to try to get her back, and his music so moved the King and Queen of the underworld that he was allowed to take her back, provided that he leave, and not look back at her until he had reached the surface. He couldn't control himself, so he looked, and she went back to Hades. Orpheus ended up getting ripped to shreds by the Maenads, a tribe of ferocious women, during a Bacchanale. Possibly a connection to Thom rescuing Moiraine from the Finn. [D. Sohl] (Hopefully, Thom will fare better than Orpheus!)
People of the Dragon: The end prophecy from TSR runs:
And when the blood was sprinkled on ground where nothing could grow, the Children of the Dragon did spring up, the People of the Dragon, armed to dance with death. And he did call them forth from the wasted land, and they did shake the world with battle.
This is a direct reference to the legend of Jason and the Argonauts - one of the tasks Aeetes had Jason do in order to gain the Golden Fleece was sow the earth with dragon's teeth, which then sprang up into an army of warriors. It is interesting to note that the way Jason defeated them was to hit one with a rock and turn them all against each other, and they ripped one another to pieces... [Leigh Butler]
Selene: Selena, a Greek goddess of the moon (hence the icon), merged in Artemis and Hecate. She loved a youth named Endymion, and put him into a deep sleep so that he would not be conscious of her caresses.
Soe'feia: Sophia, the Greek word for wisdom. The Greeks personified wisdom as a woman, as did the Hebrews. [Maccabeus Epimanes]
Aes Sedai: In Celtic myth, there are beings known as the Sidhe (pronounced 'shee'), which literally means "people of the (fairy) hills". It is the Gaelic name for the fairies in both Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland. Specifically, the Aes Sidhe were 'the people of the hills', collective name for the old Irish gods who dwell in hills. According to the Encyclopedia Mythica, they "still live as invisible beings… In a just battle, they will fight beside mortals. When they fight, they go armed with lances of blue flame and shields of pure white". [Scott Dwiggins]
Bel Tine: Beltane, a Druidic holiday
Birgitte: Brigit/Brigid, Celtic goddess of fire, poetry, smithery, and/or healing.
Portal Stones: Evocative of the famous cairns and "standing stones" that dot the British Isles. Dustin Clayton notes, "The cairns were believed to be plexuses [in-between places] of a sort, except that they were plexuses to another world, better known to some as the Fairy World or Otherworld. The legends of cairns are that if you were to walk around a cairn three times in a 'sunwise circle' you will find an entrance to the cairn, especilly when it was sunrise or sunset. The cairns themselves weren't passageways to other worlds, but were meant to be warning signs to the unwary that strange powers rested at these places, and those who didn't understand them might be caught in them."
"Rhiannon at the Tower": Rhiannon from Welsh mythology. The closest connection between her and a tower that I could find is the following from the story of Manawyddan: Manawyddan, his wife Rhiannon, her son Pryderi, and his wife Kicva were out hunting. They came upon a mysterious castle. Their hounds ran into the castle, and didn't come out. Pryderi went in after them, and saw a large gold bowl. He touched the bowl, and became frozen. After a while, Rhiannon went in to look for him, got similarly stuck, and then the castle disappeared. (They finally got released.)
Tam Lin: [L:NS] notes that Tam's full name is "Tamlin al'Thor". Tam Lin was an Irish knight stolen away by the elf queen and forced to guard her kingdom, until the love of a mortal woman brought him back to our world. [Alex Bertran]
Tel'aran'rhiod: In Celtic myth the Goddess has three aspects, the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. The names of the aspects change from myth to myth, but in some versions the Mother aspect is called Arianrhod. "Arian" means "silver", while "rhod" is "wheel" or "circle". Arianrhod appears in the Mabinogian as the sister of Gwydion (or his wife, or both), and is associated with the moon, fertility, the stars, the aurora borealis, and time. [Kathy Putnam, Sonja Pieper]
Tuatha'an: Tuatha De Danann, "People of the Goddess Danu." A magical race of beings who were supposed to have inhabited Ireland at the time of the arrival of the Milesians (i.e. humans).
Wild Hunt: Wild Hunt, of Celtic legend. The Wild Hunt is a supernatural force that sweeps across the land at night. The actual object of the Hunt varies from place to place. In some areas it searches for anything that might be unfortunate enough to be in its path. Others say it hunts evildoers. The leader of the Hunt also varies. In Celtic Britain it is usually led by Cernunnos, the horned god. In Wales it is led by Gwyn ap Nudd, and sometimes Bran. After the Anglo-Saxons had settled in England, Cernunnos became Herne the Hunter. The Wild Hunt also appears in Teutonic myth, its leader being Woden or Odin. [Encyclopedia Mythica]
Min's vision of Rand's funeral bier: In the Arthurian legend (or at least the version I've read) Arthur is severely wounded and on his deathbed. Bedivere witnesses his being taken away on a funeral boat and ferried to Avalon to await the time when he is needed again. The only others on the ship are three women: 1) Arthur's half-sister Morgan Le Fay (the sorceress) 2) The Queen of North Galys 3) The Queen of the Waste Land. It is doubtful that RJ means for Rand's women to mirror Arthur exactly. It is probable that the women will be Elayne, Min, and Aviendha. Add to this the visions in LOC involving 3 women and (probably) Rand on a boat.
The Green Man: Both in the Arthurian version, where Sir Gawain encounters the Green Man, and the much earlier Irish myths where Cuchulain encounters a nameless entity that by the description is obviously the Green Man, the story follows the same pattern: hero makes deal with Green Man to show how brave he is, hero cuts Green Man's head off, Green Man reappears three nights later to finish the deal by cutting hero's head off, hero goes honourably to his destiny, Green Man stays his hand at the last conceivable instant and compliments hero on bravery. [Emmet O'Brien]
The Fisher King: a king in the legend of Perceval who had an unhealable wound corresponding to the woes of his land. cf Rand's side wound which is not Healable, the ACOS Header Prophecy, and the "Fisher" figure in Moridin's favorite game. For a more thorough discussion of the Fisher King, see section 3.06.
The Fisher King legend appears in TWOT in several guises, the first and most obvious being the unhealable wound in Rand's side which he received from Ishamael's staff in [TGH: 47, The Grave Is No Bar to My Call, 564]. Then, we have the header prophecy from ACOS: "There can be no health in us, nor any good thing grow, for the land is one with the Dragon Reborn, and he one with the land." Finally, we have the "Fisher" piece in Moridin's sha'rah game [TPOD: Prologue, Deceptive Appearances, 44]: "The Fisher was always worked as a man, a bandage blinding his eyes and one hand pressed to his side, a few drops of blood dripping through his fingers. The reasons, like the source of the name, were lost in the mist of time." Lost to Moridin, maybe, but not to us!
Steve Deffeyes tells us: "The story of the Fisher King has origins dating back to Celtic times. Originally it is the tale of a king who was stabbed through both thighs, or sometimes is it the side, with a spear thus causing his lands to fall to waste. There's something about early customs forbidding the rule of a blemished king but the true origins of the story are lost, which suits our WOT parallel just fine. Chretien de Troyes introduced it to the Arthurian cycle and everyone from Malory to T.S. Eliot has used it. He has been called King Pelles, Parlan, Bron and Anfortas among others. Sir Balin dealt him the Dolorous Stroke, wounding him with the same spear that stabbed Jesus. He could not ride or hunt due to his never-healing wound and took up fishing. Sir Perceval visited him while on the grail quest and saw the procession of the grail, bleeding lance, candelabra and silver platter but was a new and shy knight and failed to ask the critical question that would have cured the king. Later when Sir Galahad achieved the grail he anointed the king's wounds with the blood of the lance and he was cured."
Here are some additional details from John Johnson:
The Fisher King is the guardian of the Holy Grail. (In some of the earliest legends, this was known as the San Greal.) The Holy Grail was originally brought over from Israel by Joseph of Arimathea, and contained some of Jesus' blood. This explained the magical abilities of the Grail. Legends conflict as to whether his wounding was a result of pride or some other sin. He was directly tied to the land. The land could not be healthy as long as the Fisher King was wounded. He was a powerful magician; some people regarded him as being evil, others good. (Those legends which regard him as being evil cast him as the archetype of Satan.)
Some legends seem to cast the Fisher King as the archetype of mankind, with the wound being the Original Sin, while others show the Fisher King as being symbolic of Christ, with the wound being a representation of his suffering on the cross, or, in some cases, the evil of mankind. This is further confused by the title that Chretien de Troyes gives him. In medieval French it is "Roi des Pecheurs," which can be translated either The King of Fishers, or the King of Sinners, both of which could apply to Jesus Christ.
The quest of the Grail Knights was to seek out the Grail King, and ask him the Grail Question. When they did this, they were then able to heal the King, and thus heal the land. The legends have various knights succeeding to various degrees. Launcelot was able to see it from a distance, both Perceval and Galad were able to answer the Question. Some legends have Bors de Ganis also achieving the Quest with Perceval and Galad, but while they stayed behind, Bors returned to the world to explain what had happened.
Associated with the Arthurian legend of the Fisher King are four objects, the Hallows (there were other Hallows, but these four were most directly involved in the Arthurian legends), that were essential to heal the Maimed King. These were sacred objects, capable of great power. They were:
All of these were directly linked to the Maimed King's sovereignity, and to the idea of power. When Rand goes into beggar-mode, he will lose his power, and these will be necessary to restore him.
Taken from Man, Myth and Magic (volume 5, pages 693-4):
"The most striking of these is that the dragon in China is not, as in the West, a representative or symbol of the powers of evil. On the contrary, according to the old Chinese Book of Rites, the dragon as the chief of all scaly animals is one of the four benevolent spiritual animals. This reflects the general principle stated by Jung that 'every psychological extreme secretly contains its own opposite,' which is expressed in Chinese thought through the classical doctrine of Yang and Yin. That this principle underlies the dragon's transformation into a beneficent being is confirmed by Wang Fu's statement that the dragon's scales number 117, of which 81 are imbued with Yang and 36 with Yin, because the dragon is partly a preserver and partly a destroyer. Yang is also the male element and, as its representative, the dragon also became at an early period a symbol of the Emperor, and appeared on the Chinese flag. During the Manchu dynasty, the dragon was held in especial esteem, and everything used by the Emperor was described in terms of it: there was the dragon throne, dragon bed and so on.
"Although Chinese dragons appeared at favorable moments to presage periods of prosperity, and had been known to emit foam which had supernatural powers of fertilization, they could also, when offended or disturbed, cause a drought by gathering up all the water of a district in baskets, or they could eclipse the sun. To propitiate them, the Chinese flew dragon kites, especially at the mumming parade in the New Year."
The parallels with Rand and LTT are obvious.
"Death is lighter than a feather, duty heavier than a mountain": According to John Pickett, the quote is an excerpt taken directly from the First Precept of the Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors, written in 1883 during the Meiji Period of Japanese history. David Vogt adds that it was also a popular proverb among Japanese suicide troops during the late stages of combat of the Second World War.
Jearom: The greatest swordsman who ever lived, who suffered his only defeat at the hands of a farmer armed with a quarterstaff. Erin O'Toole suggests that RJ's inspiration for that was Miyamoto Musashi, the kensai (sword saint) of Japan. In the novel Musashi by Eiji Yokohawa, his bout with the farmer is prominently featured, though it is not known if such a duel ever really happened.
In an interesting cross-reference, Ho-Sheng Hsiao notes that Musashi wrote a book a few weeks before he died called Go Rin No Sho, or "A Book of Five Rings". It is divided into the Ground Book, The Water Book, The Fire Book, The Wind Book, and The Book of the Void.
Stones: The game of Stones is based on the Asian game Go.
Sword forms: It's research (books, not doing), and the forms come from Japanese sword fighting and some European fencing, before the advent of well-designed and well-made guns made swords obsolete. [Matthew Hunter at a signing, also mentioned by others]
Tony Ho believes that the sword forms "more closely resemble Chinese Wu Shu fighting forms than Japanese sword forms. The Budoken (Japanese sword fighting) makes use of "forms," but does not name these forms. Wu Shu fighting, be it weapon or weaponless, associates each movement with a poetic title such as: "Mountain Crushing Overhead," Old Ox Charging Forward," and even "Swallows Taking Flight," which is also a sword movement."
Tower of Ghenjei: There is a Japanese novel called The Tale of Genji. It is generally considered the first piece of work which qualifies as a novel, as the genre is defined today. Note the name's similarity to the Tower of Ghenjei in WOT. It was written by Lady Murasaki Shikibu in the early 10th century, during the Heian Period of Japanese history. [Jeff Han]
Yin-Yang symbol: The ancient sign of the Aes Sedai. Taoist tradition holds that Yin represents everything that is feminine, dark, withdrawn, receptive and passive, and of movement down and in; Yang represents the masculine, bright, forceful and expansive, and movement out and up. RJ's version inverts the colors of the genders, but the symbolism of opposite forces in balance carries across unmistakably in the saidar/saidin dynamic:
"[RJ] also spoke for quite some time on the splitting of the One Power into male and female halves, and on the disharmony produced when they don't work together.. this came across as one of the core elements in the origin of WOT. (re: Yin/Yang - leaving out the little dots in the symbol is an intentional representation of the lack of harmony between male/female Power in Randland)" [Emmet O'Brien, Dublin talk, 11/93].
Aes Sedai: "Siddhi" is a Sanskrit term which describes the side effects of achieving enlightment through yoga. Among these are invisibility, astral projection, ability to make life-saving medicines, control over the world of spirits and demons, and "the life essence that preserves youth". [Ho-Sheng Hsiao]
Anath: Anath was a Canaanite deity, a war goddess, a goddess who was believed to be insatiable in her lusts. She was also linked to Baal (Bhaal) as his sister and consort. Her lust for blood and/or sex was legendary. Bhaal was one of the Canaanite pantheon that the Hebrews had such a good time demonizing. However, the Canaanites worshiped Baal by sacrificing children to him, so he didn't need much vilifying anyway. [Rich Boyé]
Asha'man: Jimmy Sjöberg and others have pointed out that there are many similarities between the Asha'man and the Nazi SS. SS stands for Schutzstaffel (Guardian Group) and was originally created to protect Hitler. Asha'man means Guardians, and one of their functions is (nominally) to protect Rand. Both organizations use black as their color. The leader of the Asha'man is called "M'Hael," which is "leader" in the Old Tongue. The leader of the SS was the "Führer," which is "leader" in German. There were 12 officer and 9 enlisted ranks in the Waffen-SS; of these, 5 officer and 1 enlisted rank(s) contained the two words Sturm (storm) and Führer (e.g. Sturmbannführer, Obersturmführer, Sturmscharführer). This is also seen within the Asha'man in the Tsorovan'm'hael (Gedwyn's title, from [TPOD: 21, Answering the Summons, 407]). Julius T. Thiele observes, "The SS was organised into 12 main departments with the according department heads. Outranking all of these was the Reichsführer SS (in this case Himmler). Reading this, I was put in mind of a constellation consisting of Taim + 12 of his trusted lieutenants, which represents a convenient number for applying the classic 'convert-to-Darkfriend' method." The name itself, "Asha'man" may be a play on "shaman."
Crossroads: Crossroads are a constant in many mythologies as places of spiritual signifigance, usually as places where the dead/apparitions/spirits are likely to appear, and some cultures like the Romans thought them unlucky and tried to ward off misfortune by strategically placing shrines at them. Some of the myths of the British Isles also reflect a view that the dead are often seen at crossroads and such. Often with spectral hounds. [Rich Boyé]
Eamon Valda: The current leader of the Whitecloaks may have gotten his name from Eamon de Valera, an Irish statesman (1882-1975) who was variously president of Sinn Fein, Dail Eireann, and Ireland itself during his political career (in between bouts of imprisonment and exile). [Steven Cooper]
Gareth Bryne: Goetz Von Berlichingen writes, "[TPOD notes that] Gareth Bryne's horse is named Traveler. Robert E. Lee's favourite horse during the War between the States was Traveler. Bryne is considered the greatest general of the age, Robert E. Lee received similiar accolades. Bryne's habit of examining the ground over which he is riding is also similiar to one attributed by some contemporary writers to Lee."
Graendal: Grendel from Beowulf
Heroes of the Horn, from [ACOS: 21, Swovan Night, 362]:
Heron: The phoenix legend appears in many mythologies; in most it is depicted as an eagle-like bird with brilliant scarlet and gold plumage, and its self-immolation and rise from its own ashes is symbolic of immortality, rebirth, the cycle of the seasons, and the sun, which always sets only to rise again. The Christians associated it with the Resurrection; in Egyptian mythology the phoenix was closely associated with Ra, the sun god. What is interesting is the Islamic version of the phoenix legend, in which it is described as a large heron that was originally created perfect, but became a plague that had to be destroyed [Encyclopedia Brittanica].
Illuminators: a secret closed society whose technology is going to change the world, causing many deaths, etc., are Jordan's precursors to the modern Illuminati mythos [Mike Hoye, originally credited to Jeff Smith].
Laman Damodred: The Book of Mormon makes mention of a character named Laman, brother of the prophet Nephi, who was stubborn and rebellious and refused to eat from the Tree of Life.
Lanfear: French "l'enfer," the word for Hell.
Maerion: One of Birgitte's names in a past life. Maid Marion?
Mandragoran: Lan's last name is very close to "mandragora", which is the plural of "mandrake". Mandrake is a plant of the nightshade family, and its forked, fleshy root was thought to resemble/represent a man. Cf. the Aiel's name for Lan, Aan'allein ("one man"). [Megan Aguiar]
Mayene: Mayenne (1573, D F): for Charles de Lorraine-Guise, FP. Passed to Gonzaga 1621. Sold 1658 to La Porte-Mazarin. The title of duke remained by special clause in the letters patent, and became extinct in 1738. Essentially, Mayenne was a small, royal land-grant from the French Crown, that was near the Riviera. [Richard Boyé]
Mesaana: Possibly from Messalina, the notorious third wife of Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus, Emperor of Rome. Jose Abrigo observes that there was actually an ancient city called Messana, whose civil war was the catalyst for the First Punic War between Rome and Carthage.
Millennarianism: Well, our world didn't end in 2000 or 2001, but the belief that it would is a recurring and powerful superstition that crops up at the turn of every century or millennium. The year in Randland used to be roughly concurrent with our own, but has fallen behind over the last few books. The Feast of Lights that scandalized Perrin so much in LOC marks the last day of 999 NE, and approximately 96 days have passed between then and the end of COT, so Randland's date is still fairly early 1000 NE. [Don Harlow & Leigh Butler]
Nae'blis: Iblis, Another name for the devil in Muslim circles. Iblis, formerly called Azazel, was a jinn when captured by angels and carried off as their prisoner. He grew up among them and became an archangel. He was cast down when refusing to prostrate before the man Adam. Since he has roamed the earth, his domain, seeking to capture the souls of men. [Encyclopedia Mythica]
Neferi: Nefertiti or Nefretete, c. 1372-1350 B.C., queen of ancient Egypt; wife of Ikhnaton (XVIII dynasty) and aunt of Tutankhamen.
Ogier Rhyme: The lines of the Ogier rhyme recalled by one if the Sea Folk ("Here comes an Aelfinn to steal all your bread, Here comes an Ogier to chop off your head") are similar to the last two lines of "The Bells of St Clements."
The lyrics are:
"Oranges and lemons", say the bells of St Clements
"You owe me five farthings", say the bells of St Martin's
"When will you pay me", say the bells of Old Bailey
"When I am rich", say the bells of Shoreditch
"When will that be?", say the bells of Stepney
"I'm sure I don't know", says the great bell of Bow
Here comes a candle to light you to bed
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head.
[David Chapman, Young Blandford]
Olver: Oliver Twist?
Perun: Pre-Christian Slavonic (Balkan) god of thunder. His sacred animal was the bull. A war god, Perun's weapons were the axe, the hammer, or "thunder arrows," all of which symbolize thunder and lightning. [Rich Boyé]. In Croatian mythology, Perun's second name is Porin, and he is the oldest son of the prime deity Svarog, the creator of the universe. [Josip Cvetkovic] Fred Van Keuls notes: "He was a god of defensive warfare and was depicted with a big blonde beard." Jean Dufresne adds: "Those are his attributes as they had already drifted away from his original role, following the Norse influence on the slavic peoples. Originally, he also had a strong agricultural component mixed with the rest. Which makes him even closer to Perrin than Thor is."
Rahvin: the raven, harbinger of evil. Or, Ravana/Ravan, a demon in Hindu mythology who abducts Sita, Rama's wife, in the Ramayana. (cf Morgase and Sita: Both Queens, both fall under the power of a demon/forsaken, in both cases there are doubts by other characters about whether they were willing or no) [Emma Pease].
Saldaea: Chaldaea, region of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires.
Sammael: Napoleon? Sammael is described as a great general. He is short. Illian's symbol is nine golden bees; Napoleon's symbol was a golden bee.
Semirhage: Legendary Assyrian queen mentioned by Herodotus, wife and successor to Ninus, mythical founder of Nineveh. Noted for being so excessively lustful and depraved she even legalized incest within her realm. Dante Alighieri puts her in the Second Circle of Hell with those who committed the sin of lust.
Seven Ages: "Caliban" suggests that the choice of seven Ages for the Wheel of Time may be a nod to Jacques' famous speech in Shakespeare's As You Like It:
"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages."
(Act II, Scene 7)
Shai...: (well you KNOW who this is) : Satan. Will Baird notes that Shai... is the Arabic name for Satan literally. Jay Wiggins adds, "In popular Shiism, the Shai... is regarded as a pathetic figure, appealing to God for things humans are acquiring (mosques, prophets) that he wants for himself, i.e. someone inextricably linked to the trivial trappings of material goods and ignorant of the deeper, more spiritual side of existence."
Tamyrlin: Tamerlane, aka Timur (1336-1405), a Mongol conqueror who ravaged most of Southwest Asia. Though given to atrocities like mass slaughter, his positive achievements were the encouragement of art, literature, and science - and "the construction of vast public works". Choedan Kal-sized, maybe... [Pam Korda]
Tel'aran'rhiod: Kyle Matthews notes that the word "telaraña" means "spiderweb" in Spanish, bringing to mind Moghedien (aka the Spider) and her proficiency in the Dreamworld.
Time of Illusions:
Concurrent with this belief is the concept of samsara, which represents the fragmentary, constantly changing aspect of the illusory material world. Marcel Parent proposes that RJ borrows from this philosophy to create a "Time of Illusions" in TWOT: "the idea that there is a continual, endless waning and waxing of samsara (the cycle of birth and death) so that you get a period of great creation, production, creativity, happiness and civilization [The Second Age] followed by a period of decay, destruction, corruption, and immorality [The Third Age or Age of Illusions]... When the Time of Illusions comes to an end, a new Age will arise."
Truthspeaker: The Jesuit faith was historically led by an elected general, who was flanked by an "admonisher" whose duty was to constantly and truthfully criticise the leader. Similar "Devil's Advocate" roles were taken by Harlequins, Jesters, Fools & Bards, depending on the society, who often veiled their criticisms behind songs and/or humorous stories but could be all the more biting for that. [Jean Dufresne, Steven Hillage]
Wolfbrother: a moosh of various myths from Europe, Native Americans, and Australian Aborigines. [America OnLine conference, 10/94]
[Michael Nielsen, Pam Korda]
People frequently point out similarities between Jordan and other authors. A common example is to point out parallels between Frank Herbert's Dune series and The Wheel of Time -- similarities between Rand and Paul Atreides, for example.
First, note that in a series as large and complex as The Wheel of Time (or Dune), parallels with such an enormous variety of literature can be found that pointing out parallels (particularly if they are common to many sources) can be fairly pointless. In the interest of avoiding endless "RJ ripped off author X"/"Author X ripped off RJ" arguments, we present the following:
The only direct influence we know Jordan has acknowledged is Tolkien: "The only deliberate connection between WOT and any other modern fantasy was giving the first 100-odd pages of TEOTW a Lord of the Rings-esque flavor, to start people off in familiar territory." [from Dublin talk, 11/93, Emmet O'Brien]
For example, Rand losing a hand doesn't mean that RJ got the idea from Tolkien (Frodo and Beren both lose parts of their hand), or George Lucas, or S.R. Donaldson, any more than Lucas or Donaldson copied from Tolkien. Rather, all four authors most likely got the idea from the Norse god Tew.
Many parallels between Dune and the Wheel of Time have been noted. Some of the more important similarities include:
[Erica Sadun, Pam Korda]
The characters in the books are the source of many of our myths and legends and we are the source of many of theirs. You can look two ways along a wheel. [RJ, America Online chat, 28 June, 1996]
Time is a wheel. If you look in one direction, you are looking at the past. If you just turn around and look in the other direction, you are looking at the future. The books are set in our future and in our past, depending on which way you look... [RJ, America Online conference, 20 October, 1994]
Here are some possible references to our world:
[TEOTW: 4, The Gleeman, 43]:
[TEOTW: 24, Flight Down the Arinelle, 300]: Bayle Domon mentions a "mountain hollowed into a bowl, and in its center, a silver spike a hundred spans high, and any who comes within a mile of it, dies." This could possibly be a big radio telescope, or maybe the Age of Legends equivalent.
[TGH: 47, The Grave Is No Bar to My Call, 559]: "Michael instead of Mikel. Patrick instead of Paedrig. Oscar instead of Otarin." St. Michael and St. Patrick? I don't know of a St. Oscar. (Peter McDermott offers, "The Archbishop Oscar Romero, assassinated in 1980, is a candidate for beatification and canonization. It's a stretch but perhaps there's a connection.")
[TGH: 49, What Was Meant To Be, 574]: Loial is reading 'To Sail Beyond the Sunset'-- reference to Tennyson's poem "Ulysses"
[TSR: 11, What Lies Hidden, 146-7] In Tanchico Museum at the Panarch's Palace:
[TSR: 24, Rhuidean, 277]: Gautama Buddha-- Ghoetam under the tree of life
[Contributed by email@example.com, whose real name I never got.]
"Little tiger who hunts the northern pass" writes:
In reviewing the theories on the Aiel and who they represent, I have not found any references to any other cultures other than the thirteen tribes of Israel. At first glance I would also have agreed with this theory if I had not been initiated into Native American culture, and in particular the philosophies and history of the plains Indian tribes.
In reviewing their histories I have come across many similar tales in various tribes where the people were either forced to move to a new home or, for some unknown reason, chose to make the move of their own accord. The most notable would be the forced move of the Cherokee. This tribe could very easily pass for the peaceful Aiel who were forced to move to the hot dry lands of the Aiel Waste, a very fitting analogy for Oklahoma. However, due to the fact that they never became a serious threat in later years I have to discount them unless the Aiel are considered a blend of various tribes.
The two most notable tribes which I have encountered to date would be the Cheyenne and the Kiowa. Both tribes have tales which tell of their people moving from their ancestral home in search of a new home. There is a line in the Cheyenne tale which specifically says 'where every hand was raised against us'. This line I also believe was used by the Aiel in describing their migration. The Cheyenne were also made up of thirteen clans according to the original histories I have encountered about them. Having been an integral part of the Algonquin society of the northeastern tribes they were also a peaceful people until after their move to the northern plains. Their encroachment into other tribes' territories and the resulting wars is the most probable reason they became an extremely efficient warrior society. The Kiowa also have a tale of their movement from somewhere in the northwest area of the United States where they had to fight all the way to their current home, which I believe is in the Oklahoma territory, ending up with fewer than 300 people in the tribe. They also became an efficient warrior society due to their move and the expansion of the European colonists in later years.
The rituals of the Aiel are also distinctly Native American. The sweat baths taken by the wise ones and other Aiel are a definitive ritual of Plains Indian culture. (It may also be a part of other native American cultures but I have only been involved with the plains Indians and the Crow tribe to be specific.) The sweat lodge was described rather well by RJ, so I will not go into detail, but I know of no Israelite tales of sweat ceremonies or baths. The other ritual most notably used is the vision quest. This entails the seeker of the vision going out into the wilderness, stripping down to the bare flesh, and fasting for three to four days until a vision (hallucination from lack of food) is seen. In some tribes a 'sponsor' goes along as well to let the rest of the tribe know what is happening. This, of course, sounds just like Rand and Mat's trip into Rhuidean where they journey into the unknown without food or water, Rand has his 'vision' of his ancestors (another typical Indian philosophy), and they return three days later. I am not surprised if no one else had caught this, having been on a vision quest I did not catch this until I read it a second time and I was still unsure of it being one.
The thing that surprised me the most is the fact that no one has, to my knowledge, mentioned the fact that the Aiel warrior societies all sound distinctly Native American. I can understand about the clan names, two of which sound Japanese to me, but with names like Thunder Walkers, Brothers of the Eagle, Mountain Dancers, and Stone Dogs, I was surprised the connection had not been brought up before (to my knowledge). Being a Crazy Dog of the Crow Indian Nation I was pleased to note the connection between Stone Dogs and my own warrior society. Of course, Crazy Dogs drive a stake into the ground and tie their left leg to it in order to show they have no fear while protecting the tribe. I have yet to see an Aiel do that.
There were also tribe in the Northeast where each clan had a central meeting house. They also had a female as the leader of the clan. In order to gain entrance to the house permission was granted by her, like the Aiel House Mistress. [Leo Tokarski adds, "Also, in some Native American cultures, only women were allowed to own land."]
One last note, The more observant will have realized that the plains Indians were masters of the horse. But, if you could run as fast as one too, why bother? [Michelle Levine counters, "There is no problem with the lack of horses... there were no horses in North America prior to colonization."]
Eddie Bell mentions that the Sioux had a form of first-sister/brother acceptance - basically, if you decided that someone was honorable, you could adopt them into the family as a brother or sister. The Sioux's method of counting coup also bears remarkable similarities to ji'e'toh.
Tony Z. adds, "The thing with spear/shield, and then the Aiel battle tactics that Lan describes to Rand, for instance, are pretty much lifted from the Zulus."
[Richard Boyé, Sam McGee, Pam Korda, Trent Goulding, Linda Antonson]
Obviously, the various countries and nations of Randland draw some the their characteristics from real-world nations and cultures (both current and historical). Here's a list of Randland countries and real-world countries which may have influenced them. The ones labeled "RJ" are ones which have been stated/confirmed by RJ. The rest are just reasonable speculations.
RJ has said in interviews, "I live in the Two Rivers - check a map!" Charleston, South Carolina (RJ's hometown) nestles in the fork of the Cooper and Ashley rivers. [Michael Brown]
In March of 2000, Paul Ward received a letter from RJ in which he listed what some of the regional accents of Randland sound like:
("Y'all bow down to the Empress, y'hear?" - Johan Gustafsson)