While this essay was written by me, the core of the theory was contributed by my brother Shadar, whose essays can be read on this page under the heading of Shadar’s Mad Meanderings. Credit where credit’s due, much as I hate to lose any of it.
But before reading it, you should be familiar with the ideas expressed in a previous essay of mine, A Map of the Wheel. Basically, the Creator imprisoned the Dark One and made the universe, thus beginning the First Age; at the end of the Seventh Age the Dark One will be freed, the universe entirely destroyed and a new act of creation take place beginning another turning of the Wheel.
Shadar proposed a very interesting hypothesis as to where the Creator and Dark One came from in the first place. By the Seventh Age, humans as such will surely have become extinct – or else evolved, as in many science-fiction scenarios, into beings of energy that humans today would see as godlike. If two of these beings – or perhaps two focal points of a merge – gain still more power, enough to survive the destruction of the physical universe, then voila, you have a Creator and a Dark One ready-made for the new turning.
We have met our deities, and they are us.
Now this hypothesis promptly fueled a whole lot of speculation, and we each came up with several spins on the idea. The biggest of them (which I can claim) was that the souls which evolve into the Creator and Dark One (or at least serve as the foci for many souls to merge into each being) are the equivalents in each turning of, respectively, Lews Therin Telamon and Elan Morin Tedronai. The Dragon and – well, for want of a better word, the anti-Dragon. When they evolve into Creator and Dark One, a new Dragon and anti-Dragon arise, and the cycle goes on ad infinitum.
The Creator and Dark One, in any turning, are equal in power (I know that contradicts what I said in Each Flame Casts A Shadow, but I like this idea better) and the power of both is at a maximum at the moment of creation. Their energy or substance slowly dissipates over the Ages, and enough divine energy collecting together forms a soul. Since most souls will be a mix of both deities, most people have good and evil mixed within them.
By the end of the Seventh Age, these two deities have lost so much of their energy that they have dissolved away to nothing. The way is thus cleared for the Dragon and anti-Dragon to assume their roles.
There are two ways of seeing this. One, as the Pattern constantly choosing a new pair to replace the old, an endless parade of souls becoming first surrogates, then deities, then ceasing to exist. The other is that they alternate – that there are four souls who remain discrete beings and do not dissolve. Two of the Light – two of the Dark. Each spends one turning of the Wheel as Dragon or anti-Dragon, the next as Creator or Dark One, in alternation. Which one you think most likely is up to you.
If Creator and Dark One are equal, in some turnings it must be the Creator who is imprisoned. Right – and then it is the Dragon’s role to free the Creator and the anti-Dragon’s role to oppose them. (For an interesting take on this, read The Dragon Recycled by Blackthorne and Mulder, archived at Dragon’s Library) But from this viewpoint there is not necessarily any real distinction between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ – there are only two beings who constantly oppose each other. Because if they did not, the universe would be unbalanced – the Wheel would topple over.
From their first incarnations in this turning, Lews Therin and Elan Morin, the Dragon and anti-Dragon, have opposed each other. They still oppose each other. They will continue to do so through the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Ages, each seeking to finally destroy the other. But it is not until the point of their final transition into deity status that they will realise two key facts: One, neither of them will ever succeed in doing so. And two, they must play out the game, for game it is, all through the next turning of the Wheel.
But what happens if the Creator/Dark One is actually freed? Well, it may be that it simply isn’t possible – the Pattern will always be woven in such a way that the prison remains mostly intact until the Seventh Age. If it is possible, you would get a somewhat different pattern of Ages, but the cycle would still continue. What of the Dark One’s boast to ‘break the Wheel and remake Time and the world in his own image’? In my opinion, boast is all it is. The Dark One if freed could certainly change the world, but the Wheel and Pattern are eternal. Creator and Dark One are both very powerful, but they are not all-powerful.
This theory isn’t perfect. Some kind of arrangement has to be made for the souls of the Heroes of the Horn, who appear to remain constant through all turnings. But it should, please, be noted that all this is purely speculative. Someday, we may come up with a theory of Wheel of Time cosmology that we like better.
But for now, how do you like this one?