In The Wheel of Time fantasy series by Robert Jordan, the One Power is a supernatural force which some characters can harness to perform feats of (magic). Using the One Power is referred to as channeling, and a character who can do so is referred to as a channeler.
- 1 Nature of the One Power
- 2 Items of the One Power
- 3 Channelers
- 4 Differences between Male and Female Channelers
- 5 Meditation
- 6 The Taint on saidin
- 7 Organizations of Channelers
- 8 Notable Weaves
- 9 References
Nature of the One Power
In The Eye of the World, Moiraine Damodred describes the One Power to Egwene al'Vere thus:
“The One Power comes from the True Source, the driving force of creation, the force the Creator made to turn the Wheel of Time. Saidin [//], the male half of the True Source, and saidar [//], the female half, work against each other, and at the same time together to provide that force. Saidin is fouled by the touch of the Dark One, like water with a thin slick of rancid oil floating on top. The water is still pure, but it could not be touched without touching the foulness.
(Rand al'Thor, The Dragon Reborn and Nynaeve al'Meara have cleansed saidin since "Winter's Heart", the 9th book of the series)
Saidar is described as a gentle force, which can only be controlled after surrendering to it. Saidin, conversely, is violent and must be dominated. The taint on saidin had deleterious effects on male channelers' mental and physical health: the more of the Power a man channeled, the faster his condition deteriorated. Since it was cleansed, no more deterioration occurs but what taint already affected the channelers remains.
Items of the One Power
Angreal are artifacts which enable their users to draw more of the One Power than they would normally be able to. Angreal also protect them from drawing enough Power to burn themselves out.
Sa'angreal are identical to angreal, except that they allow the user to draw more Power than even an angreal can handle. There are at least two Sa'angreal is known to be missing the buffer that prevents the user from drawing more than the channeler can safely use. This is Callandor, pronounced CAH-lahn-DOOR, the sword which is not a sword and Vora's sa'angreal which is . The access keys—both ter'angreal—for the two most powerful sa'angreal ever created, the Choedan Kal, are in Rand al'Thor's possession. These allow him to tap into the vast power of the one buried in Cairhien designed for use by men and another designed for women which is buried on Tremalking (although the access key for the female Choedan Kal was destroyed cleansing saidin during the ninth book Winter's Heart. At the end of the 12th book the male Choedan Kal itself is destroyed by Rand Al'Thor turning its power against it).
Ter'angreal are objects of the One Power that perform specific functions. Some ter'angreal do not require the One Power to be used for their activation, such as the spiral ring in the form of a Möbius strip which Verin gave to Egwene (which she gave to Elayne and Nynaeve), and the twisted red doorframes that lead into the realms of the Aelfinn and Eelfinn (Snakes and Foxes), as well as the cloaks worn by the Warders.
The techniques the ancient Aes Sedai used to create angreal, sa'angreal, and ter'angreal have been long lost to the White Tower. However, by studying a ter'angreal known as an a'dam, Elayne was able to devise and test a successful theory for creating ter'angreal, the first in what is assumed to be thousands of years.
The Aes Sedai consider all items of the Power to be property of the White Tower and, in general, this is not disputed. The High Lords of Tear, due to their fear of anything connected to the Power, collected a cache of items suspected to use the Power, which they hid away from the world. The Kin also collected a cache of items, one of which was the Sea Folk's Bowl of the Winds that was used to correct the weather in The Path of Daggers. However, the Aes Sedai do not know the uses for many of the objects, similar to many of the objects of Power kept in the White Tower. These objects can be dangerous to Aes Sedai testing them, sometimes burning the power from them or even killing them. Aviendha, of the Taardad Aiel may have a Talent for knowing what objects of Power can do, as well as a speculative power to go backwards in time, though there has been no conclusion from Jordan before his death.
Pronounced CWAIN-de-yar, cuendillar is also known as heartstone, and is an indestructible substance created during the Age of Legends. It absorbs any force attempting to break it and becomes stronger itself. Cuendillar is the material used to make the seals to the Dark One's prison, and a number of other artifacts are made from it. As with the art of creating angreal and ter'angreal, the way to create cuendillar had been lost over time until Egwene al'Vere was able to reconstruct the weave for making cuendillar from iron. She has had limited success in teaching other Aes Sedai, as it seems the weave requires strength in Earth, which many females lack.
Although once indestructible, the seals of cuendillar that formed the Dark One's prison have become so weakened from the strain that it is now possible to cut slivers from them with a simple knife, or for them to shatter from a fall.
Although the books contain many characters who can channel, the ability is actually rare in the population as a whole. Among those who do have the ability, most must be taught. Without instruction, a person with the ability to channel could go his or her entire life without ever channeling at all, or without even knowing he or she even had the ability to begin with. Generally those on the main continent find out when a member of the series' only formally-organized group of channelers, the Aes Sedai, visit their town on a recruiting trip. Aes Sedai visitors also search for the few channelers who are born with "the spark," an innate gift that will inevitably lead them to touch the Source. If left untrained, these gifted channelers often die without ever gaining control over their innate ability; the Aes Sedai estimate the mortality rate at 75% or more.
Those who survive, called "wilders" by the Aes Sedai, do not realize that they have channeled, only that "things happen" if they want them to. To aid in this self-deception, they often develop a "block," an instinctive self-preservation behavior that keeps them from channeling in all but exceptional circumstances. Known blocks include only being able to channel while angry, in the presence of men, with one's eyes closed, and so on. These blocks can be eventually overcome, but only after significant and sometimes drastic counseling. The trainee, Theodrin Dabei, who could only channel in the presence of men she felt strongly about, for instance, was broken of her block when Charel, the handsome young stableboy who had been attending her training sessions, revealed that "he" was actually the handsome young stableboy's twin sister Marel.
Channelers must first tap into the One Power before being able to channel it, and can "hold" the Power within themselves without using it; the feeling of accessing the Source is described as being "more alive than ever before," a powerful feeling of joy for women, or a feeling of "holding a river of frozen fire and burning ice" for men, as well as a significant increase of sensory acuity for both sexes. The "sweet" and addictive nature of the Power is problematic in itself, as drawing too much of it can kill the channeler, render them brain-dead, or — if they are relatively fortunate — "burn out" the ability to channel permanently.
Channelers can also be deliberately cut off from touching the Source by others, temporarily by means of shields woven of Spirit, or permanently; modern Aes Sedai call the latter process "stilling" when done to women and "gentling" when done to men, while historically it was called "severing" for either sex. Regardless of the circumstances, those who lose the ability permanently also tend to lose the will to live, and are often dead within a year. Very recently, Aes Sedai Nynaeve al'Meara and Asha'man Damer Flinn have (independently) discovered how to heal severing, but the process only works completely when the healer is of the opposite sex to the healed; when Nynaeve healed fellow Aes Sedai Siuan Sanche and Leane Sharif from their stillings, they were left with significantly reduced strength.
Channelers are not born equal: some are stronger in the Power and can handle larger quantities of it than others. Men and women, furthermore, are different in many regards when it comes to the One Power, as covered below.
Differences between Male and Female Channelers
The One Power is "woven" (or "spun" in the terminology of those from the Age of Legends) in "flows" or "threads" (or "webs") consisting of one or more of five elements: Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Spirit. Men are generally stronger with Fire and Earth, while women are generally stronger with Air and Water; strength in Spirit is typically equal, and equally rare. Male channelers, in general, are capable of holding more of the Power than female ones. However, female channelers, in general, tend to be more skilled and deft with their flows and weavings than their male counterparts. Male channelers cannot link to form a "circle" of multiple channelers working together without a woman's aid; only women can initiate a circle, and although men can be brought into a circle they cannot be forced, while women can be forced to do so (through the use of an a'dam **an a'dam creates a link between two women, the one wearing the bracelet of the a'dam has total control over the channeling abilities of the woman wearing the necklace of the a'dam, however women linked by an a'dam cannot join a circle with other women), however there cannot be more men than women in a circle; on the other hand, no more than thirteen women may link without including any men, and once this total is reached a man must take control. These differences allow for rough parity between male and female channeling, and it is known that the greatest works of the Age of Legends (a golden age that ended some 3,000 years before the start of the novels) were performed by men and women channeling in cooperation.
Female channelers can tell when other women are touching the Source: a white glowing aura appears around their body, though only visible to those trained to touch the One Power. It is also relatively easy for them to gauge each other's strength in the Power. Men on the other hand can only sense intuitively when another man is channeling (and roughly how much of the power they are wielding). Male channelers can sense a woman holding saidar as goose bumps on their skin; women have no innate method of sensing male channeling, though certain ter'angreal and weaves have been crafted which do the job for them.
Most vividly, saidar and saidin feel different: a woman would describe it as a gentle force that she must submerge herself in, as trying to exert control over it would lead to being instantly consumed; a man, on the other hand, faces a cataclysmic torrent requiring perfect control, immense willpower and ceaseless vigilance. In short, women "embrace" saidar, surrendering to it and influencing it from within, while men "seize" saidin, manipulating it by force. This essential difference in the "feeling" of the Power means that a woman cannot teach a man to channel, and vice versa (though both have been tried unsuccessfully on many occasions). Moreover, many weaves which work for one sex do not work the same way (or at all) for the other. That may soon change though. Recently, men and women have linked, allowing men and women to experience handling saidin at the same time as saidar. So far, only Rand has used the intrinsic differences between saidar and saidin in his weaves, with other characters merely taking advantage of the increased power to perform weaves they already know.
As an example, men can use flows of Fire to transfer the heat of a candle flame to another location (for instance, the stones of a fireplace), but women who try that have been grievously injured, some even bursting into flame just from a candle. (Women use a thread of Water or Air to snuff a candle.) Males and females also grow in the One Power differently; women gradually increase in strength, whereas men gain strength in sudden leaps.
Terminology differs between the sexes, as well. Women, as stated before, "embrace" saidar while males "seize" saidin. Males "wield" their half of the One Power as females "guide" it. Women are "stilled" when they are cut off from the True Source while men are "gentled"; a gender neutral term was used in the Age of Legends, "severing". "Burning out" (an accidental self-severing from the One Power occurring when one mis-handles or tries to use too much of the One Power) is gender neutral as well.
Some other differences include:
- A woman's shield for her dreams is a crystal barrier between the dreamwalker and the dream, while a man's shield for his dreams is described as a barrier showing dreams as if looking into "muddy water."
- The weaves for healing with saidin are specific to each ailment, whereas Aes Sedai use the same weave of Air, Water and Spirit no matter the condition or the degree; results vary based on that Aes Sedai's particular affinity for Healing. However, it has since been discovered that the Aes Sedai use a relatively primitive weave of Healing, whereas Damer Flinn has re-discovered a number of more advanced (and, presumably, efficient) weaves. It is also known that, after the Yellow Ajah discovered Nynaeve's use of all five powers in Healing, they began to discuss the use of different combinations of elements for treating different ailments.
- A male gateway for Traveling is made by "folding" the Pattern of the Age, making the two places to be Travelled as one (similar to a tesseract) and then "boring" a hole through the Pattern, from one place to another, with no distance between one end and the other. A female gateway is made by changing the weave of the Pattern, to make the two places in the Pattern identical.
- Two women in a circle can usually beat a man who is in the same comparative power level, even if they are weaker than he individually. The more powerful the man, the greater the number of women required to shield him, but a circle of thirteen women is strong enough to shield any man.
- Women are more susceptible to compelled Circles like the a'dam. A female a'dam, which allows a "sul'dam" controller to control her leashed damane's channeling ability, is essentially flawless and allows perfect control of the captured woman. A male a'dam, on the other hand, requires two women to safely handle and maintain the link to the man, though one would do for a short time, and the man will eventually be able to reverse the flow of control to some extent, causing the three to fight for dominance. Also a male can not be "leashed" using a female a'dam, for this will result in both being killed. A recently discovered weakness with the a'dam is that the use of one prevents the channeler from linking with other channelers. This is because the a'dam creates a forced link between the channeler and the one holding the a'dam, it is therefore not possible for a channeler to be part of a linked circle and be collared by an a'dam as it is not possible to be linked to more than one circle.
- Women are able to create a bridge of Air further than men can, regardless of the fact that men are generally stronger in the Power.
- Saidin seems to be more based in brute force, being complete will and pure instinct and thus, it is done bluntly, whereas saidar is more organized, more like weaving silk into patterns.
There are two main forms of meditation as presented in the series when referring to the One Power. They are the "Flame and the Void" and "The Rose Bud". Some additional meditation are found in chapter 13 of LoC. Including River and Banks, and The Lovers Embrace.
The Flame and The Void
The Flame and the Void is a conceptual idea used by beginning male channelers to harness the male half of the One Power known as saidin. The premise is that one pictures a single flame within his mind; into that flame one pushes all of his emotions and thoughts. The process leaves one with a clear mind, which in the case of a male channeler allows them to access the One Power. It has also been known to be used by non-channelers as well to gain more focus when performing such tasks as shooting a bow and arrow or fighting. In the Borderlands, this technique is known as the ko'di, or The Oneness. Tam al'Thor uses this technique to win the archery contests in the Two Rivers.
The Rose Bud
The Rose Bud is a form or technique taught to Novices to better help clear the mind and grasp saidar. It is used by the channeler imagining herself as a rosebud (or another flower) in the sunlight, slowly unfolding. Its effects are to calm the channeler and allow her to more easily and better grasp and manipulate saidar in a way that is smooth and gentle. It is one of the first techniques taught at the White Tower. However, not all Novices use this method; some devise one of their own.
The Taint on saidin
In the current age, the Dark One's taint on saidin causes any male with "the spark," whether or not he learns to channel safely, to inevitably go mad and succumb to a wasting sickness which causes the sufferer to rot alive (these curses may come in either order, or concurrently, at varying speeds for each male channeler). The taint came into being at the end of the Age of Legends, when Lews Therin Telamon and the Hundred Companions (actually 113 male channelers) re-sealed the Dark One into his prison, but not before the Dark One caused saidin to become tainted. This act drove all those attempting to seal him immediately and irrevocably insane, and gradually all other male Aes Sedai fell victim to the same madness. The ensuing chaos and destruction caused the Breaking of the World or the Time of Madness. Men who can channel, in short, are a threat. With this in mind, certain members of the Aes Sedai formed a faction, the Red Ajah, dedicated to the hunting down and gentling of male channelers before they can cause (much) trouble. As with all severed channelers, these men rarely live for long afterwards, and few have children. Coincidentally, by the time of the novels, fewer and fewer people of either gender are being born with any channeling ability. The logic-minded White Ajah have suggested that there is a link between this and the thousand-plus years of gentling, comparing it to the breeding-out of distasteful traits in domesticated animals. Despite this, increasingly powerful channelers have been discovered throughout the series, though this could be due to the effects of ta'veren or the looming specter of the Last Battle.
At the conclusion of Winter's Heart, the ninth book in the series, saidin has purportedly been cleansed through the use of two of the most powerful sa'angreal ever made, called the Choedan Kal. They were used by Nynaeve al'Meara and Rand al'Thor in a linked Circle. The complex process destroyed the ruined city of Shadar Logoth and was sensed by most, if not all, channelers of both genders in the Westlands. However, some have confessed doubt over the effectiveness of the cleansing, due to three thousand years of fear. A strong argument at the time was that Lews Therin himself said the source was 'pure and clean again'; he being one of the few who knew the source before its taint, he then would know for truth if in fact it was clean. The question was not answered definitively until the eleventh book, Knife of Dreams, in which both Rand al'Thor and various Asha'man confirm that saidin has been cleansed completely of the taint. However, any taint absorbed by a male channeler before saidin was cleansed was not removed from that channeler; men who had gone half- or entirely mad due to the taint were not returned to sanity, though they will also not suffer further deterioration. This was confirmed by Lews Therin Telamon speaking to Rand in his head in The Gathering Storm. As of the end of Towers of Midnight, Nynaeve al'Meara has discovered a way to Heal the madness caused by the taint, although, due to the extent of his madness, she has been unable to Heal Rand al'Thor.
Organizations of Channelers
The current Aes Sedai are the most visible organized group of channelers; led by the Amyrlin Seat, they are a female-only organization due to the (former) taint on saidin. The Aes Sedai headquarters, the White Tower, is on the island city of Tar Valon. Aes Sedai see themselves as the guardians or caretakers of the civilized world, and serve as a neutral, altruistic party (almost theocratic, though the Aes Sedai are not and have never been a religious order) in the socio-political climate of the series' main continent.
Many other cultures have their own groups of channelers, such as the Sea Folk's Windfinders, the Aiel Wise Ones, and a network of expelled or disgraced Tower trainees, the Kin, who operate under the Tower's nose to a degree; however, these groups keep themselves secret because of the open Aes Sedai ambition to control every living female channeler. Relatedly, some Aes Sedai will disparage any female channeler who is not Tower-affiliated and Tower-trained as a "wilder," even if she has received training from her own culture's institutions.
Formed by Rand al'Thor in preparation for Tarmon Gai'don, the Asha'man are an all-male group of channelers. Their name, an adaptation of the Old Tongue word for "guardian" or "guardians", is meant to distinguish them from the matriarchal Aes Sedai; in addition, the word "asha'man" has connotations of nobility; they will not fight for an unrighteous cause. Their headquarters is called the Black Tower (though the name was chosen purely for its symbolism; the actual territory is a farm in Andor, just outside Caemlyn).
The Seanchan's empire's power is based upon the Sul'dam and Damane. It has always been thought that Damane are women who can channel and sul'dam were women born with the power to control them through the use of an a'dam. It was later revealed that sul'dam are women born with the ability to learn to channel, and damane are women born with the spark, meaning that they will eventually begin to channel whether they are trained or not. This is one reason why there are always more sul'dam than damane, as the numbers should be similar to the disparity between those who can learn to channel and those who have the spark inborn.
Originally formed during the Trolloc Wars, The Kin is an association of women who have run away from the White Tower during their Aes Sedai education due to the harsh demands put upon them or have been cast out for not being strong enough in the power. The Kin were soon discovered by the Tower, but their existence was tolerated; in providing a supposed refuge for runaways, the Kin in fact aided in the Tower's capture of many trainees who had absconded. Over the centuries, the Aes Sedai gradually became less diligent in pursuing runaways, with the result that the Kin's true numbers are far beyond what contemporary Aes Sedai had expected. Rediscovered by Nynaeve and Elayne in Ebou Dar during their search for the Bowl of Winds, there are nearly two thousand known Kinswomen. Kinswomen often live to a great age, much longer than Aes Sedai, and this discovery has led some Aes Sedai to suggest that the Oath Rod has harmful side-effects. Secrecy is highly valued among the Kin, many of whom fear discovery and recapture by Aes Sedai; some also live in places (such as Tear or Amadicia) where use of the Power is frowned upon. Kinswomen work in a variety of occupations, sometimes under assumed names, and typically relocate every few years before their longevity leads to unhelpful speculation. Standing among the Kin is based on age, unlike among Aes Sedai where many factors, principally strength in the Power, are involved. The Kin is governed by the Knitting Circle, historically the thirteen oldest kinswomen in Ebou Dar at any given time, presided over by the Eldest of the Circle. Since the fall of Ebou Dar to the Seanchan, the surviving members of the Knitting Circle and many other Kinswomen fled to Caemlyn. The current Eldest is Reanne Corly.
Windfinders, an organization within the Atha'an Miere is primarily, though not entirely, composed of female channelers. They are especially efficient in handling thick weaves of Air and Water, in what is called the "Weaving of the Winds".
The Wise Ones are Aiel women who sometimes can and sometimes cannot channel. The Aiel find every single girl with the spark inborn and make her an apprentice to the Wise Ones. After two tests the girl becomes a Wise One. Not all Wise Ones can channel, but all Aiel women who can channel become Wise Ones.
A wilder is a collective term for women who have learned to channel saidar on their own, without formal education. Additionally, Aes Sedai use it to describe any woman who learned to channel outside of the White Tower, regardless of whether they had been taught by others or not, most notability Sea Folk Windfinders, Aiel Wise Ones, and members of the Kin. It can be a derogatory term, especially when used by certain Aes Sedai who went to the White Tower to train, although at other times it is simply used as a descriptor. The term has not been used for men in living memory, as all men who can channel have been doomed to go insane from the taint on saidin, obviating any need for a formal instruction program.
Women who can channel fall into two categories; women who can be taught, and a far smaller group of women who will start to touch the Source instinctively, whether they want to or not. Those of the latter group who survive this learning curve—approximately one in four—are called wilders, if they do not seek out training once they discover what is happening.
Even those wilders who learn how to manage their abilities tend to do so at a price; they almost invariably have some sort of 'block' against using the One Power effectively, and without training, they are usually limited to one or two Talents they have discovered on their own. Most commonly, these women have learned how to listen in on the conversations of others through a long-distance form of eavesdropping, or they have learned how to get what they want through a type of Compulsion. Some, however, learn to Heal, or predict the weather, or a number of other specialized skills, depending on their everyday occupation. They may not even realize that they are channeling when they do so, as was the case with Nynaeve al'Meara.
This is an incomplete list of significant or important "weaves" (spells) of the One Power. While none of the weaves are necessarily important in their own right, they illustrate the breadth, scope, limitations and dangers of channeling.
This kind of weave is used to form three-dimensional objects made of hardened Air so they can be useful for example to hit, cut, stab people or to slice or peel things. This same weave is used to form tentacles or ties to move objects, or hold or restrain them and even to bond people. With it is also possible to make a covering to shelter beneath or behind.
This extremely dangerous weave destroys anything it touches, with the exception of things made of Cuendillar. Anything destroyed with balefire ceases to exist before its destruction causing its presence and causal effects to be removed back in time from the present. Furthermore, whenever it hits a living thing, it also undoes any actions they recently took, though the memory of their actions does not fade. The length of this undoing is proportional to the strength of Power used to create the balefire. Balefire fell out of favor once its destructive effects on the Pattern itself became fully understood, and the Aes Sedai have forbidden its usage, though this did not stop at least one member of that organization (Moiraine Damodred) from learning it. Because balefire removes an individual's thread from the pattern entirely, it is impossible for the Dark One to resurrect an individual destroyed with it.
This complex weave of Spirit is used to bond a Warder to his Aes Sedai. It was developed after the Breaking.
This powerful weave can be used to impose limited mind control on its victims or to put strong suggestions into the mind. It has been completely lost by contemporary Channelers, leaving the Forsaken as the only living characters who know how to use it; having said that, many channelers have attempted to rediscover the weave, and two Aes Sedai, Verin Mathwin nominally of both the Black and Brown Ajahs and Liandrin of the Black (acting as a Red), have independently discovered weaves that have similar, if weakened, effects. Some novices discover how to instinctively create similar weaves before learning how to control the One Power or reaching the White Tower
These inter-dimensional portals can be used to move between any two points in any world. They can be used to move to an alternate dimension through which hyperspace-esque meta-travel is possible, which is called "Skimming"; they can be used to move instantaneously between two specific points in our world, which is called "Traveling"; and they can be used as weapons, their edges slicing through anything in their way. It is unknown if the edges retain their ability to slice matter after the initial opening. Skimming requires familiarity with the destination, while Travelling requires familiarity with the place of origin. The weaves for Gateways, as mentioned above, are different between men and women, and were lost until Rand al'Thor and Egwene al'Vere (independently) re-discovered them in The Shadow Rising and Lord of Chaos, respectively. The weave requires significant strength in the One Power, and the ability to create one is considered a mark of prestige or status. The introduction of Traveling allowed author Robert Jordan to increase the scope of the series, as Traveling characters can now become involved in events separated by hundreds or thousands of miles.
A Deathgate is a weave of the One Power using Spirit, Earth, and Fire that opens and closes Gateways very rapidly. It is a weave used by Lews Therin Telamon in Knife of Dreams when he seizes control of Rand al'Thor and channels through him. The weave is a modification of the gateways used for instantaneous travel, with several hazards added to the existing danger of its supernaturally sharp edges. Unlike the stationary gateways, deathgates can move as they open and close, and have been sent rushing into oncoming forces. The fact that Shadowspawn cannot travel through gateways makes Deathgates incredibly effective for the forces of the light against trolloc armies.
Along with Fire Blossoms, Deathgates are a newly rediscovered type of combat weave used by Rand al'Thor and the Asha'man in Knife of Dreams when they are attacked at Lord Algarin's manor by thousands of trollocs.
Traditionally, this weave involves flows of Air, Water and Spirit, but (as previously mentioned) a number of characters have begun to increase the scope of weaves used and ailments healed. Almost every Aes Sedai knows the original Healing weave, but their proficiency at it varies considerably.
A new type of healing, recently discovered by Nynaeve Al'Meara, uses all 5 threads of the one power, and has much more powerful and useful effects. It heals the wound of the person without any exertion of the body, thereby allowing the person to keep their energy
This weave, also known as Mask of Mirrors, creates a false image from The Power which overrides the normal image, meaning that a character can project an Illusion over themselves and even become invisible. In the Age of Legends, it was known also as the Mirror of Mists.
This weave of Spirit is used to put a barrier between a Channeler and the One Power, so the subject is temporarily unable to Channel. If the Shield is tied off, it will be more durable and it can remain even when the person who wove it stops channelling. However, this does make it more rigid and therefore more vulnerable. There are many kinds of Shielding: some Shields that are tied up vanish naturally after a precise amount of time; Liandrin was Shielded by Moghedien with a knot so intricate to be eternal; Asmodean was Shielded by Lanfear with a temporary Shield that permitted him to Channel only a very small amount of Power. Usually a Channeler, if already Channeling, must be cut off from the Source by a stronger Channeler. If a Channeler is caught by surprise, and not Channeling the One Power, however, it is possible for another to Shield them. It is possible for a weaker Channeler to hold a Shield over a stronger, though if the Shielded is substantially stronger, they have a greater chance of breaking through the Shield.
This weave of Spirit and Fire. as demonstrated by Osan'gar at Chapter 41 of A Crown of Swords, is very painful and it is used to stun and to paralyze. Another weave is of Spirit, Air, Water, and a touch of Fire used by the Red Ajah, to stun and capture male channelers. Because male channelers are usually stronger than female channelers, an Aes Sedai alone would normally not be capable of maintaining a Shield over a male channeler, posing a possible danger when hunting for False Dragons or maddened male channelers. This is overcome by Stunning them to be Shielded later by a circle of six for transport to the Tower and gentling.
A Ward is a standing and passive enchantment, often with its weaves "tied off," so that the channeler does not have to maintain it, and "inverted," so that no one but that channeler can see them. Wards can be made to serve a variety of purposes: in The Fires of Heaven Rand creates one in each cardinal direction, each programmed to produce a different bird call if Shadowspawn crosses it; in Lord of Chaos he places one outside a Waygate that, instead, kills any Shadowspawn that crosses it. According to Rand's narration, trying to make a ward do too many things will generally make it malfunction instead.
- Lord of Chaos, Chapter 8, "The Storm Gathers"