2.4.03: Who is the Green Man? Who were the Aiel? What is the Song? Who will find the Song?
[Erica Sadun, Pam Korda, Teri Pettit, Aaron Bergman]
Who is the Green Man?
He is Someshta, the last of the Nym, a type of creature which was made of vegetable matter. He is described first in [TEOTW: 49, The Dark One Stirs, 621]. However we find out exactly who he is in the fourth book. [TSR: 26, The Dedicated, 303]:
A stir at the end of the field told him one of the Nym was approaching. The great form, head and shoulders and chest taller than any Ogier, stepped out onto the seeded ground, and Coumin did not have to see to know he left footprints filled with sprouting things. It was Someshta, surrounded by clouds of butterflies, white and yellow and blue...Each field would have its Nym, now...the Nym were older than anyone. Some said the Nym never died, not so long as plants grew...
Many years later, during the Breaking, we see him again, this time with the characteristic fissure in his face. He is being set to the task of guarding the Eye of the World, the Horn, the dragon banner and one of the seals [TSR: 26, The Dedicated, 300-301].
Who were the Aiel?
The Aiel (formerly the Da'shain Aiel) were the "Dedicated" who worked for the Ancient Aes Sedai. The group was hereditary and had features of light skin, gray or blue eyes and mostly reddish or blond hair. All Aiel could be identified by their particular hair style which was cut short with a tail hanging in the back. They were dedicated to a life of non-violence, following the "Way of the Leaf". Some male Aiel worked with the Ogier and the Nym in planting as they had the gift of the "Voice", the seed singing (this may not be limited to Aiel; in the TEOTW prologue, LTT asks Elan Morin if he has the Voice). Although the Ogier continue to have "tree singers", the Voice seems to be a talent that has disappeared. When the Aiel did their work in the fields, they wore light gray and brown "working clothes" (cadin'sor). The clothes, the hair style and the avoidance of the use of weaponry which cannot be used for other purposes than killing people remains today, but the talent of the Voice is currently unknown.
What is the Song?
The Tinkers, an early offshoot of the Aiel, decided to give up their duty of hiding *'angreal and instead dedicate their lives to re-finding the safety and peace of their past [TSR: 26, The Dedicated, 296]. They believe this will come about through finding the "growing song," described in [TSR: 26, The Dedicated, 303]:
The Ogier began it, as was fitting, standing to sing, great bass rumbles like the earth singing. The Aiel rose, men's voices lifting in their own song, even the deepest at a higher pitch than the Ogier's. Yet the songs braided together, and Someshta took those threads and wove them into his dance... The song caught him up, and he almost felt that it was himself, not the sounds he made that Someshta wove into the soil and around the seeds.
The Song is not to be confused with the Ogier Tree-Songs. The Ogier songs may be the Ogier part of the growing ceremony described above, or they may be something similar, but different in purpose.
For the Tinkers, "The Song" has become more than just the human part of the AOL growing ceremony. The Tinkers' legendary song is something that will bring back the peaceful lifestyle known by the Da'shain Aiel during the Age of Legends. Teri Pettit explains, "The Tuatha'an began their search looking for a safe haven where they could return to a way of life in which Aiel singing together worked wonders. That eventually got distorted into a life of perpetual travel searching for 'The Song', as if there were just one, and it was something a single traveler could know." [TSR: 26, The Dedicated, 296]
So, when we say "Will the Tinkers find the Song?" we really mean, "Will the Tinkers rediscover the AOL growing ceremony, plus the talent of the Voice, and be able to recreate the peaceful existence of their ancestors, the Da'shain Aiel?"
If the Song will be found, who will find it?
The primary contenders are Aram, Perrin and Rand. Aram's stated life goal had been to find the Song until he took up the sword in defense of Emond's Field and became 'Lost' to his people. To find the Song would reinstate him and justify his choice of giving up the peaceful Way of the Leaf. Perrin on the other hand keeps getting faced with the choice of axe or hammer: that is, the choice of creation or destruction, war or peace, way-of-the-warrior or way-of-the-leaf. Furthermore, Perrin is a contender to find the Song because of Min's viewing of Perrin standing among the flowering trees. Rand, and probably some of the Aiel clan chiefs, have actually heard the Song in the glass columns of Rhuidean.
Further Evidence that Rand will find the Song:
...ages past and will be in ages to come. Let the Prince of the Morning sing to the land that green things will grow and the valleys give forth lambs." [TEOTW: Prologue, Dragonmount, xv] (Emphasis added)
It is entirely possible that the Song is lost forever (or at least until the Age of Legends comes around again). Aaron Bergman explains: "In the breaking that followed the sealing of the bore, the Da'shain were scattered. Some ended up at Rhuidean with the caravans. Some broke off, eventually becoming the Tinkers. Anyway, during those times when mountains moved around when they were bored and food and water were scarce, the memory of the singing survived. This grew to become linked with the memory of the peace of the Age of Legends. This easily progressed to the idea that if they could discover this ephemeral 'Song', the Age of Legends would come anew. I think one of the themes buried in these novels is that the past is dead. You can't hope to regain the past. Rand can't go back to the Two Rivers and become a shepherd. The Age of Legends is dead, it will not return for a very long time; certainly not in the next (Fourth) Age. The Tuatha'an are seeking to regain the past. The 'Song' is a remnant of the past. Thus, the Song will not be found." There is no Song that will recreate the Age of Legends, for it is past.