In the Dune saga (1st three books) why aren't Fremen children born with prescience or pre-born? I get that Chani was put on a high spice diet when pregnant but surely given that all adult Fremen have the blue eyes and participate in the Spice orgy their systems would be so laced with Melange that it would transfer to their unborn children?

2 Answers 2


Becoming a Reverend Mother requires the Bene Gesserit sister to take and change the bile of a dying sandworm into the Water of Life using her prana-bindu training1 (literally creating a molecular catalyst out of individual molecules). During that process, if the mother is pregnant, her child may also gain the ability to access those same genetic memories but without the complex Bene Gesserit mental training that allows them to selectively control those memories.

In the absence of a revelatory moment (the moment in which a neophyte Bene Gesserit become a full Reverend Mother), merely taking large amounts of Spice isn't sufficient to awaken genetic memory in the children of any pregnant Fremen women2.

The Dune Encyclopedia makes the steps required abundantly clear

The Azhar Book outlines the conditions necessary to a state of possession (Mahrana IV: H-K). First a pregnant Bene Gesserit breeder must ingest the Water of Life, apparently an hallucinogenic chemical which varied during the history of the order. This chemical, carried in her blood to the womb, activates the fetal psychic awareness and produces a babble of sound and sensory imagery which the un-born is unable to comprehend or assimilate. At birth, this "awakened" baby supposedly sees with adult com- prehension because of the active, intelligent, adult memories it now carries at a conscious level. The child, therefore, appears to the uninitiated as extremely precocious but to the knowledgeable as a possible Abomination. Only bright Bene Gesserit children were suspect; precocious lay children were safe from scrutiny.

1Jessica mentions that the process of becoming a Reverend Mother at the Chapter House uses a different method (albeit one that also uses spice) but is basically the same in outcome

2Note that Leto and Ghanima are also pre-born, but through their genetic inheritance from Paul and hence can be discounted from this discussion.

  • Thanks for the info, I haven't read passed 'God Emperor' yet. Was wondering as Fremen have a test of possession that it was a more regular occurrence? Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 17:00
  • @SeamusTheDog - Hmm. Good question, My gut instinct is that it's a more general test for madness/dementia. It apparently involves overdosing the individual on Spice to see if they're actually possessed.
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 17:08
  • Like what was done to Leto II? Surely that would enduce the genetic memories even if one was not mad or possessed therefore forcing it? Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 17:15
  • @SeamusTheDog - Without Bene Gesserit training, high doses of Melange are just poisonous. You might get some slight prescience/genetic memory stuff happening if you skirt the line, but more than likely you'll just die.
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 17:25
  • Even Fremen who have for generations been exposed to more spice than anyone except navigators or Reverend Mothers? Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 18:33

Ingesting the water of life isn’t necessarily related to becoming a reverbs mother. It’s poisonous nature causes the candidate to go into crisis and either transform into a being with powers of reverend mother. Being a reverend mother isn’t necessary for the awakening, besides the training and preparation.

I haven’t heard an explanation of Leto and Ghana’s status of pre-born.

  • 2
    Hi, welcome to the site. I'm afraid the 'Your Answer' field is only meant for posting answers to the question at the top of the thread though, not for responding to previous answers. In order to respond to previous answers the right way, you need to earn a bit more reputation to unlock the comment everywhere privilege. Please take the tour and visit the help center center to learn more. Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 20:33
  • It seems you now have enough rep to comment. Welcome to SF&F!
    – Basya
    Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 11:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.