In The Eye of the World, Egwene comments that Moiraine's staff must be very powerful, after seeing her channel to hide them from the Trollocs.

Moiraine responds that the staff is only an aid to help her concentrate, but that the true power is from within (or something like that, I'll try to find quotes later).

Is Moiraine the only Aes Sedai shown using a staff or similar object as an aid for concentration? I know some/most still use handmotions and similar, but what about physical objects?

"Blocks" ala Nynaeve also work, but I'm mostly interested in aids for concentration, such as the staff.

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    I have no evidence other than my own observations from reading the books, but I get the impression that Robert Jordan didn't quite have the rules for his magic system and world really locked in until about book 3 or 4. It could just be an early idea that he dropped.
    – Alarion
    Dec 30, 2017 at 19:47
  • @Alarion that's what I get out of it too, but I'm looking for in-universe explanations.
    – user57650
    Dec 30, 2017 at 20:29

1 Answer 1


The obvious answer is Nynaeve using herbs as her crutch to enable her to Heal via Channelling.

(She needed herbs to Channel for Healing through book 3. She needed anger for non-Healing Channeling - such as during the lesson with the Amyrlin in book 2 - and then up until she breaks through that block in book 7.)

There's also a chapter where Moiraine uses her blue stone to focus her eavesdropping, and muses that it was the first trick she learned, and ISTR there's a mental comment about how many Aes Sedai have such little tricks, but no examples.

I think the generalized Magic-According-To-RJ rule is: Channelers often stumble into their powers in puberty, and only after they manifest are they usually taken for organized training by Aes Sedai (or Wise Ones, or Windfinders, or Sul'dam, ...) As a result, many new channelers confuse, or conflict, their inborn ability with props - they don't have the holistic understanding of what's happening to them, so it's easier to be a bottle-shaker.

It's clear with wilders, in particular, how strong this is. Nynaeve and Theodrin both blocked themselves, using totems (Herbs and healing in Nynaeve's case, and gender attraction in Theodrin's case) to clamp down control on top of the power they had no formal training in.

I think Moiraine's staff could have been sold as an example of lingering attachment to an early crutch, or retconned as an an'greal, but really it just quietly disappeared as part of the "Book One was meant to be Lords-of-the-Ring like to pull people in with familiarity, and oh look! the staff is like a wand. Nevermind, moving on..."

In response to @NaturesCreed's comment, anger was the lingering block that Nynaeve had, but herbs was the first one which she overcame. When healing Dailin in "The Dragon Reborn":

"The Wise Ones use herbs, Aes Sedai, but I had not heard that Aes Sedai used them."

"I use what I use!" Nynaeve snapped and went back to sorting through her powders and whispering to herself.

and then, several pages later after being robbed of her herbs,

"She is hurt badly, Egwene. I think her skull is broken, and she is barely breathing. Egwene, she is dying as surely as Dailin was."

"Can't you do something?" Egwene tried to remember all the flows Nynaeve had woven to Heal the Aiel woman, but she could recall no more than every third thread. "You have to!"

"They took my herbs," Nynaeve muttered fiercely, her voice trembling. "I can't! Not without the herbs!" Egwene was shocked to realize Nynaeve was on the point of tears....

[Nynaeve gets angry and heals Elayne without herbs]

"Light!" she muttered. "Doing it that way... was like peeling off... my own skin. Oh, Light!"

  • The other "tricks" are explained later by Verin, who says that they're mostly in two categories: eavesdropping tricks and a weak form of Compulsion. Moiraine also teaches her eavesdropping trick to Egwene who also uses a stone of some sort.
    – Giuseppe
    Jan 2, 2018 at 16:19
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    Nynaeve's crutch to enable her to channel purposefully was her anger, not to be confused with an item (herbs) through which she used as an aid to channel while she was a wilder. I like where your thoughts are at, just needed a bit of clarification. Jan 3, 2018 at 19:23
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    @NaturesCreed Anger was her second block, but Herbs was her first. I've updated the answer with the references to /The Dragon Reborn/ where that's illustrated.
    – gowenfawr
    Jan 4, 2018 at 20:49
  • I know this is late, but another similar example to add would be the hand gestures. At some point in the series there's a mention that Aes Sedai generally make a throwing motion for fireballs. Not that it's necessary to channel, but since it is how they learned, they are generally unable to create the weave without it. Basically, once a weave is learned in a specific way (with a specific prop or hand gesture or emotion), it's very difficult to do it any other way.
    – kuhl
    Mar 11, 2020 at 18:26

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