2.3.15: What's the deal with Healing stilling/gentling? --Updated
In [LOC: 29, Fire and Spirit, 418] Nynaeve makes OP history by Healing Logain of being gentled. A few minutes later, she Heals Siuan and Leane of stilling as well. What was interesting is that Logain had apparently been returned to full strength, while Siuan and Leane ended up much weaker in the Power than they had been before their stilling: [Leane speaking] "'I went by Logain's house. Six sisters are maintaining his shield, the same as when he was captured. He tried to break free when he found out we knew he had been Healed, and they said if only five had been holding the shield, he might have. So he's as strong as he ever was, or close enough to make no difference. I'm not. Neither is Siuan'" [LOC: 30, To Heal Again, 429]. Why?
First, we should note that "stilling" and "gentling" are just gender-differentiated names for the same process; in the AOL it was called "severing", and the term was applied to both sexes [Guide: 2, The One Power and the True Source, 21]; this was also mentioned by Moggy [LOC: Prologue, The First Message, 17]. There is no evidence that there is any difference in the method of cutting either gender off from the OP.
That said, there are two main theories for why the disparity with Logain and Siuan/Leane occurred:
- Women and men both use all five aspects of the OP - Air, Water, Fire, Earth, and Spirit - but in general men are far stronger in using Fire and Earth, while women are usually more adept at Water and Air (both are equal in using Spirit) [TSR: 7, Playing With Fire, 108]. Nynaeve used Fire and Spirit to heal Logain, then used the same for Siuan and Leane. So the idea is that if Nynaeve had used Air and Water to Heal the latter, they would have been returned to full strength also. It's worth pointing out, though, that from the Yellows' conversation after Nynaeve Heals Siuan and Leane, one of the reasons no one had discovered how to Heal stilling before Nynaeve is that she uses all five aspects of the OP to Heal, while traditional Healing only used Air, Water and Spirit. One would think, then, that if stilling could be Healed with Air and Water, the AS would have discovered it long ago.
- Nynaeve, a saidar channeler, Healed a saidin channeler to full strength but two saidar channelers to half-strength or less. Later, in [WH: 13, Wonderful News, 310], Corele tells Cadsuane that Damer Flinn, a saidin channeler, has Healed Irgain (an AS Rand stilled at Dumai's Wells in LOC): "Cadsuane, it's as if she'd never been...[stilled]." So, apparently Irgain was returned to full strength. The obvious conclusion to draw here is that for a stilled woman to be restored to full strength, she has to be Healed by saidin (a man), and for a gentled man to be restored to full strength, he has to be Healed by saidar (a woman).
Jordan confirmed that it is the second case in a blog entry, "...the Healing of stilling must be done by the other gender to be fully effective. A woman Healing a woman or a man Healing a man results in less than full restoration. It all ties into that theme I keep harping on. Men and women have to work together to be their most effective. And while the weave used by Flinn for Healing is not exactly that used by Nynaeve, either would use the same weave on a man or a woman."