Threads in the Pattern
To fully understand this, you should probably read The Dragon Preborn first, but if you havent and dont want to go back these are the key ideas summarised:
One, the ability to channel the One Power and strength in the Power are properties of the body, not the soul. It is possible to be a powerful channeler in one incarnation and unable to channel at all in the next.
Two, the soul of Lews Therin, now incarnated as Rand alThor, has been reborn before in this Age, but the circumstances were not right for the Dragons rebirth. Several of the so-called False Dragons were in fact Dragons Preborn - the true Dragon born too early. Other great leaders in history may also have been Lews Therins reborn soul.
Ill go further with this theory and say that all of the main characters in the books are the reborn souls of people who have made a name for themselves in this Age or in the Age of Legends - or, conversely, that many if not all of the historical figures in the Wheel of Time were in fact the same souls, and are now reborn as the current main characters. Some of these, Im almost sure of. Others, Im guessing. But:
In the Age of Legends
Lews Therin Telamon, as we all know, is Rand. The other identities here were originated by Taardad of Taardads Clan Hold: thank you Taardad. The first two, I entirely agree with. The other three Im not sure about, if only because we know nothing about these characters beyond a single scene.
Ilyena Therin Moerelle - Min. Although the description, and the name, are very similar to Elaynes, the personality doesnt seem to fit, and it would be odd if Elayne and no one else were reborn with exactly the same appearance and similar name. Rand, aside from his height, looks nothing like Lews Therin. While Rand loves Elayne and Aviendha, it is Min that he feels completely comfortable with - more so than Mat and Perrin, who have been his friends since childhood. It was Min that he first declared his love for, and Mins presence that makes him feel sane and at peace despite being the Dragon. If any of these three is his soulmate - as I would expect from the reborn Ilyena - it is Min.
Latra Posae Decume - Egwene. A leader of the
Aes Sedai in the Age of Legends, a leader in the fight
against the Shadow, and in effect, a female counterpart
of Lews Therin. Egwene is certainly developing into a
leader - in fact, with very little experience, she is
already one of the more effective Amyrlins the White
Tower has ever had. Egwene is fighting the Shadow. Latra
Posae opposed Lews Therin - Rand is prophesied to confront
the Amyrlin Seat in all her anger.
Solinda - Aviendha. Of the three Aes Sedai in this scene, Solinda is the one who is most concerned with the future of the Aiel. And how ironic that a woman later to be reborn as a Maiden of the Spear should warn Jonai to ensure the Aiel continue to follow the Way of the Leaf.
Oselle - Nynaeve. The temper fits - while the other two were calm, Oselle was almost shouting at Deindre. And that leads to...
Deindre - Elayne. No reason, except that she has to fit in somewhere, and Elayne and Nynaeve argue plenty in this life, too.
Note: Solinda, Oselle and Deindre appear in a single
scene during Rands vision in the terangreal
in Rhuidean. Taardad had no suggestion for the identities
of Mat and Perrin in the Age of Legends, and few male
characters beside Lews Therin and the Forsaken are named.
Beidomon is one - and I suppose he could be either Mat or
Perrin, which would certainly be an interesting twist. My
guess is that one or both were among the Hundred
Legendary Aes Sedai
Elisane Tishar - the first Amyrlin Seat. Siuan. Pragmatic, stubborn, and strong enough to gather the scattered groups of Aes Sedai into a unified whole. Besides, it would be a nice turn of events to have the first Amyrlin reincarnated as the last one before the breaking of the Tower.
Rashima Kerenmosa - the Soldier Amyrlin. A legendary former-Green who at one time had five Warders, and died surrounded by the corpses of nine Dreadlords and a huge wall of Trolloc and Myrddraal bodies. I know only one woman whos this hard to kill, and shes already a legendary Green in this incarnation. Take a bow, Cadsuane Melaidhrin.
Caraighan Maconar - Cadsuane again. Caraighan is credited with feats that even most Greens consider unlikely, among them preventing a revolution single-handed, and bringing a False Dragon back to the Tower, again single-handed and without even a Warder to help. If anyone could stop a revolution its Cadsuane - shed walk right over anyone who tried to argue - and chasing after men who can channel appears to be one of Cadsuanes favourite pastimes.
Mabriam en Shareed - Egwene, although Im open to debate on this one.
The Trolloc Wars
Tetsuan - the Red Amyrlin who, according to Moiraine, betrayed Manetheren out of jealousy of Eldrenes power. Elaida.
Aemon al Caar al Thorin - There are a few candidates for this soul; many people believe him to be Mat, but judging from his memories, Mat was more often the king's top general than the king himself. Lan is a possibility, because of the similarities between Manetheren and Malkier and because, in this lifetime too, Lan is a Warder and a king. Perrin is another; his armies now ride under Manetheren's banner, and since Alliandre swore fealty to him he controls, in theory, most of the land that was once Manetheren. Rand is not a candidate. It was a nice theory, but Jordan has outright denied that Rand is Aemon reborn.
Eldrene ay Ellan ay Carlan - Three thoughts on this one; Egwene, Nynaeve and Faile. The first two were raised in the Two Rivers, which was once Manetheren, and Faile is now the Lady of the Two Rivers. If Eldrene was Egwene, it would link her in again opposing Elaida as Tetsuan. On the other hand, Eldrenes reaction to Aemons death - grief and rage, reached out to the One Power and annihilated the Dreadlord armies - sounds very like Nynaeve or, if she could channel, Faile. Either Nynaeve or Faile would, of course, link neatly in to Lan or Perrin as Aemon.
Kirukan - A warrior queen, and a perfect identity for Nynaeve. (Although depending on the timing of events in the Trolloc Wars, it could prevent her from being Eldrene) In The Fires of Heaven, Birgitte commented on Kirukans temper and added with a look at Nynaeve not at all like anyone nearby. Nicely ironic if Nynaeve was in fact Kirukan. From the information on Kirukan in The Path of Daggers, she displayed not only a temper but incredible stubbornness - not at all like anyone we know, of course.
Note: Very little is known about Tetsuan besides Moiraines words above, and that she was stilled presumably for her actions in betraying Manetheren. She was replaced by a Blue sister of whom nothing is known, but Im guessing that Blue was Siuan.
Artur Hawkwing, having made an appearance in The Great Hunt, is clearly not himself reborn in this time. I havent been able to find plausible identities for his first wife, Amaline - admittedly, she didnt play a major role - or for any of his children. However:
Guaire Amalasan - Rand. Amalasan, unopposed by Hawkwing, might very well have done what Hawkwing later did and united the lands west of the Spine of the World, much as Rand is now doing. He was supposedly an incredibly charismatic leader and one who many followed - like Lews Therin. And in The Great Hunt, Hawkwing spoke of opposing Lews Therin as many times as he had fought by his side.
Bonwhin Meraighdin - Elaida. Her own identification of herself with Bonwhin is just too close.
Tamika Paendrag - Egwene. There was rumour of Tamika being a renegade Aes Sedai, and her relationship with the Tower under Bonwhin was certainly cool.
Deane Aryman - Siuan. The formerly Blue Amyrlin who replaced Bonwhin - it fits in too neatly not to be true.
Souran Maravaile - Mat. Once again the great general.
Ishara - An interesting one, this - I say Elayne. The first Queen of Andor spun out again as potentially the greatest one. And it certainly puts Elaynes uneasy relationship with Mat into a new light...
Speculation on the Pattern
In several of the identities Ive listed, certain groupings appear - for example the Egwene/Elaida/Siuan conflict has appeared twice before this time. Elaida as both Bonwhin and Tetsuan - I say this because I like the idea of all three failed Red Amyrlins being the same woman, and because of the current identification of Elaida and Bonwhin. If Egwene was Eldrene, then conflict between these two was what led to Elaidas failure in that incarnation - where she was replaced by Siuan. If Egwene was Tamika - although Im not positive about that one, either - and Siuan was Deane, then it appears again. The logical follow-on is that Elaida will be deposed and stilled in this incarnation too due to the conflict between her, Siuan and Egwene, and thats certainly what I see happening...
Another is the Rand/Elaida conflict. If Rand was Guaire Amalasan - Amalasan was captured and gentled, presided over by Bonwhin the Red Amyrlin. Could this be one reason for Elaidas knowing as soon as she saw him that Rand would be dangerous?
Aside from Amalasan, one or more of the other False Dragons in history may have had the reborn soul of Lews Therin. Read The Dragon Preborn.
Now we get into serious speculation. The Pattern that the Wheel weaves is composed of both Dark and Light, and so theoretically neutral. However, the Wheel and the Pattern naturally work towards their own survival. Since the aim of the Dark One is to break the Wheel and remake the world in his own image, this results in the Pattern being necessarily biased toward the Light.
Imagine that the Pattern is self-aware and intelligent. Imagine that there is a game going on in which there are three players - the Creator, the Dark One and the Pattern itself. The moves of this game consist of nudging threads this way and that, and all three of the players have different ends in mind. The most important piece in the game is called the Dragon.
The Pattern has several times managed to weave out the key thread that will become the Dragon - the soul of Lews Therin Telamon - but the circumstances werent right and those moves were wasted. This time the Pattern has succeeded in weaving the Dragons thread into the right place, and is very carefully trying to keep that thread safe. In order to do so, it nudges the threads of a few other key players which are spun out to protect the Dragon.
Ilyena, his soulmate. Latra, leader in the fight against the Shadow. Deindre who Foretold his rebirth, Oselle and Solinda who helped her ward Callandor and place it in position ready for the Dragon to draw. Souran the great general. All of these were born within seven years of each other.
The Dark One was also busy nudging threads. Perhaps he can't control when a particular soul is spun out, but he can affect them once they are. Oh look, there's the Tetsuan/Bonwhin sould which is so good at causing trouble - let's see what we can do with her. Wouldnt Elaida love to know that her being Amyrlin is due to the Shadow?
The Pattern had Siuan in place as Amyrlin, and had made a good choice; the first Amyrlin, the one who was strong enough to create the Tower in the first place. The Dark One ruined that, sweeping Siuan out of the way and replacing her with an Amyrlin almost guaranteed to make a mess of things. But the Pattern won that little exchange in the end; it realised it had an even better thread nicely in position, that of Latra Posae, the great leader of the Aes Sedai in the Age of Legends. And by nudging a few more threads, it even put Siuan straight back in second position. Score one for the Pattern.
How to explain for the sudden appearance of False Dragons in recent years - when the soul of Lews Therin was already spun out? Logain Ablar and Mazrim Taim, and several unable to channel. My belief is that these were decoys - that the Pattern, in an attempt to protect the Dragons thread while still vulnerable, nudged events to produce a large number of possible Dragons to draw attention from the real one.
And Logain, especially - possibly Taim - appeared just at the right moment, when Rand was on the verge of realizing his potential. Logain may have been another of the important threads used by the Pattern, a necessary sacrifice to protect Rand. However - score another one for the Pattern. In the same move as restoring Siuan to power, it also restored Logain.
Well, why not? And now, the question is: do I seriously believe that in writing the books Robert Jordan intended to make all his characters souls reborn over and over again, or the Pattern an intelligent participant in the game? No. But I hold with Isaac Asimovs opinion here: A clever interpreter can find significance in various parts of a story that a writer will swear he had no intention of inserting. Just because Robert Jordan wrote the Wheel of Time, doesnt mean he knows everything there is to know about it.