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WoT If... Channeling is Lost?

Mashiara Sedai

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to "WoT If?".  This week, I want to look at the state of channelers, and speculate about what's in store for their future.  But before we begin:


SPOILER WARNING.  This will include content from A Memory of Light.  Please DO NOT read this if you have not completed the book.


Since time is a Wheel, and all things come and go, we know the ability to channel must eventually be lost.  Or else, we'd have channelers in our own time—and as far I know, we don't.  One of the panels at JordanCon, "After the Last Battle," touched on this topic a bit, but I'd like to expand it further.


It's been stated several times in the series that most Aes Sedai are under the impression that the Power is being culled out of the population.  Since they've been gentling male channelers for nearly 3,000 years, it seems logical that this would be the outcome.  However, I'd like to counter that argument by pointing out they are only gentling men with the spark, the ability to channel no matter what.  We know that fewer channelers have the spark; most have the ability within and need to be tested for it to mature.  So most of the male channelers are not being gentled, and are living their lives, passing on their genes, without knowing they can learn to touch the True Source.  


I think this is evident by how many Asha'man there are by the end of the series.  In almost no time at all, the Black Tower accepted and trained so many channelers.  And now that male channelers aren't going to be hunted down, it stands to reason that the number of channelers overall would increase.


So what other reasons are there for the Power to be lost eventually?  I've got a few theories that might work.


1. Disease


It's quite possible that disease could be the cause.  If a strain of bacteria or a virus erupted that only attacked the channeling population, there would be almost no hope for them.  Since channelers tend to group together—in the Black Tower and the White Tower, at least—it could spread through them quickly.  


There might be some hope if the Yellows, and those Asha'man dedicated to Healing, could think of a way to combat the strain.  But if it only attacks channelers, maybe it would be immune to flows of the Power.  


If a vast majority of the channelers were wiped out—like the Towers, or the kenneled damane—and only random patches of channelers still existed—like the Kin, the Wise Ones, or the Sea Folk—the smaller patches would likely die off over time.  The ability, if not widely spread and having a larger breeding pool, would definitely be culled.


2. Channeling outlawed


There may come a time, far down the road, where channeling could be seen as a bad thing.  We all know of historical examples of "witchcraft" being outlawed and punishable by death.  If somewhere along the way, the channelers lose sight of being focused on service, they could become a group of selfish, or evil, people.  It's typical that people in powerful stations eventually become corrupted.  I could see this happening quite easily.


If the channelers began to become enemies of the people, no doubt the people would rise up and demand a change.  The channelers would become hunted and killed.  The only difficult part would be catching them.  Since forkroot tea is common knowledge now, it might still be well known at some point in the future.


If the people are able to kill a majority of channelers, the same effects from the disease scenario would hold true.  The smaller groups, who must go into hiding, would eventually stop channeling all together, or lose the ability over time.


3. The world becomes a Stedding


This idea has been around a long time.  I've seen dozens of theories on this over the years.  Because of this, I won't spend a lot of time on it, but I also didn't want to leave it out.  


What happens in this scenario is that the Steddings begin to grow—perhaps the Ogier are able to make it grow at some point, before they open the Book of Translation and leave this world.  With a Stedding covering the whole world, the ability would be lost completely.  The channelers would probably go mad from losing the Source—it would be the same as stilling and gentling: they would sense it but could not touch it.


Or, in other forms of this theory, ter'angreal, like the ones in Far Madding, could be invented to make channeling impossible.  The same would be true, channelers would die off from losing the Source.


4. Evolution


Credit for this thought goes to Matt Hatch from Theoryland.  He proposed that the human body could lose the ability to channel.  When Nynaeve heals gentling and stilling, she is able to sense the connection inside the body.  There is something physically there for the person to be able to touch the Source.


If humanity evolves over time, that connection could be lost.  The Source still exists.  It's still driving the Wheel of Time, but we've lost the ability to sense it, let alone touch it.  Then, when the Wheel turns once again, the body evolves to encompass the ability.  The Power could become lost and found several times as the seven Ages come and go.


Of the four, I like the evolution one best.  It keeps with what we know of human anatomy.  Science will show us how we have evolved over the past 3,000 years—about the length of an Age.  It's easy to see that in another 3,000 years, when our Age ends and another begins, we could be completely different physically.


That's all for this week.  Let me know if you have other theories about losing the One Power.  I look forward to hearing more.  Next time, we'll examine the standing flows in the Age of Legends and see if it's something that can be duplicated in the world after the Last Battle.  Thanks for reading!

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5. Technology I got the impression from Aviendha's vision of the future that advancements in technology could eliminate the need for channeling. Why use one's own strength and energy to create a magical glowing ball of light to see at night when anyone, even those without access to the One power, could just flip a switch. Healing would even become obsolete thanks to medical advancements. Basicly it just boils down to "use it or loose it." Given enough time, the One Power would be forgotten.

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Mashiara Sedai


But if Aviendha's vision didn't come true, how can we trust anything she saw?


The Age of Legends mixed technology and the One Power--see next week's post on the standing flows--so I could see the next Age doing likewise.

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True, Aviendha's particular vision might not come true, but look at the possible futures that Rand Saw. It still gives a since that technology will take over. I see knowledge of the One Power being lost for a time (maybe generations down the road), but once the world becomes a utopina perfection, man kind will start to persue the development and perfection of the mind and body, thus descovering the One Power again. Mix the two together and you'll have the Age of Legends again.

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I also like the evolution theory the best, as it is the most logical step. Perhaps that is the change everyone is talking about coming in our time? The return of channelling? It bears thinking about. Anywho........onwards to Cage Match!

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Channeling will be lost because it will become obsolete; however, technology won't be the reason. If people are right and we are living in the First Age then eventually we will discover the One Power, and use that as a clean power source to run our cars, planes, and other gadgets. The One Power is also free, so there would be more interest in learning to channel than there is in the books now.


Rand's lighting of his pipe may be the discovery of a new power source. Perhaps when Rand weaved the threads of the pattern to create the Dark One's prison he inadvertently created/discovered the new power. It may be that Rand is not the only one who can use this new power source, and if that is true, then channeling would be rendered obsolete. 


Lets remember that after the 7th Age comes the 1st Age, which must mean that man became so powerful that they destroyed one another and everything in between. So it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that man keeps getting stronger with each age.

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I've been fascinated by the philosophy of the Ages with my first reading of Eye of the World.  So fascinated, in fact, that I have constructed an entire website dedicated to the idea!!  Its a play by post RP forum set in the First Age, defined as the Age before the Age of Legends.


In this revolution of the wheel, the ages break down as thus:


2nd Age - Age of Legends

3rd Age - Age of Illusions (the WoT books)

4th Age - the Age of Heroes (post Last Battle peace and prosperity)

5th Age - the Age of Gods (channelers are worshiped like deities) 

6th Age - the Age of Escape (the horrors of the godwars, channeler is eradicated)

7th Age - the Age of Industry (A channeler free world, civilizations emerge)


1st Age - the Age of Awakening (rebirth of channelers, the "gods" of our mythology)


Much more detail about the events in each Age in this particular revolution of the Wheel may be viewed on http://thefirstage.org/ages !  


So the question becomes, what happens between the 1st and 2nd Ages to eradicate all notion of war and crime, and channelers, the Aes Sedai, come to be revered, honorable servants of humanity?!?  How do the Aiel come to serve them so wholeheartedly in return?  Who were the people who wrote the Prophecies of the Dragon?  There is so much to discover in The First Age!! 





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I think you are not right with the first Age.

The first Age is the age with the Wolfbrothers since it is a thing older than channeling, so are the travelingstones.

In my opinion channeling is discovered in the age of legends.

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