Written by Lila Sedai of the Gray Ajah
Welcome to this edition of Cultural Examinations of the Wheel of Time.
I am Lila Sedai and today I am exploring the influences of Northern Irish/Irish culture and histories on Robert Jordan’s beloved series.
To the international world, nobody may notice the subtle nuances Jordan uses that refer to Ireland/Northern Ireland. What first caught my attention was the description of the Band of the Red hand flag, and the shouts of ‘no surrender.’ I am no expert in this, but through research, I have pinpointed some other examples.
The Flag resembles the Ulster banner and represents the Province of Ulster. The symbol originated in pagan times and links with Irish mythology. There are many interpretations of what this actually means. Some see this as an emblem of celebrations in Loyalist communities, or used to antagonize the Republican community. Others see the flag as part of the history and legacy of Northern Ireland. ‘No surrender’ was a catchphrase used by the hardlined Rev. Ian Paisley, inciting hatred during the Troubles. Interestingly, he went on to become joint leader of Northern Ireland alongside past terrorists – but I won’t go off topic!
One tip – if you ever get a Band Of the Red Hand Tattoo, ensure it is covered if you wish to visit the Island of Ireland. It is a lovely country but the people can become very vicious if such a loyalist symbol was to be in view (people have been harmed for wearing football tops with this symbol if they happen to be in the wrong area at the wrong time).
Another interesting thing is the language of the Old Tongue. There are similarities to Gaelic, for example there is no doubt that the word Aes Sedai was derived from ‘Aes Sídhe.’ Aes Sídhe is an Irish term for ‘a supernatural race in Irish Mythology…comparable to the fairies or elves…’ Also, the name ‘Tuatha’an’ is derived from the ‘Tuatha De Danann’ in Irish legend. ‘Tinkers’ is also a slang term used for Irish Travellers.
In my own opinion, I think Two Rivers is similar to Northern Ireland as it is quite remote and most people have never heard of it. The amount of green is also reminiscent of the green landscape we have because of our high rainfall.
In conclusion, I am delighted that Jordan has used symbolism from Northern Ireland and all Ireland. It’s great to see my wee country noticed by such a fantastic author.
Until next time, may the Light illumine you
Aes Sedai of the Gray Ajah at Weaves of the Wheel
About the author:
Lila Sedai is a member of the White Tower at Weaves of the Wheel, aligned with the Gray Ajah. Lila also writes a forum called Talk Wheel of Time