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]