In The Wheel of Time's setting, the magical One Power is comprised of a "feminine" half, saidar, and a "masculine" half, saidin. The One Power is often depicted using the symbol of the Aes Sedai from the Age of Legends. That symbol is visually identical to the yin-yang symbol with no "dots" taken out of the halves, picture here. This similarity to the modern day symbol is surely an instance of Jordan's implication that the "real world" is also an Age of the Wheel, the first answer to this question discusses that in more detail.

The books make clear that saidar is represented by the white half of the symbol, the "flame of Tar Valon", while saidin is represented by the black half, the "Dragon's fang". But, to my admittedly shallow understanding, this is the opposite of the associations attributed to yin and yang. Yin, the dark half of the symbol, has a feminine association. Yang, the bright half the symbol, has a masculine association.

More tenuously: Saidin also ends in -in and shares its visual representation with yin, i.e. those names both refer to the dark half the symbol. The word "saidin" sounding to my ear more feminine compared to saidar screwed with me for years when I was first reading the WoT, as I tended to flip which was which.

The question: Is there any specific acknowledgement or discussion in the books or from Jordan that the masculine-feminine associations are "swapped" relative to yin and yang?

I don't recall any specific discussion of this in the books, but it has been many years. It looks like there's an interview quote database, it shows up evidence that Jordan did intentionally omit the "dots" for symbolic reasons.

I've tried my best Google-fu trying to find discussion of this specific question as well without much luck. It seems like people have of course noticed this discrepancy in meanings previously, but I'm curious whether there's evidence Jordan performed the swap intentionally.

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    I fear that quote you found about the missing dots is about as good as is likely to exist. Re: saidin sounding more feminine: I think the reference of 'saidar' is to 'seidr' which was considered feminine magic in the pre-Christian Norse world. Odin's use of seidr is one of the things he is mocked for in the Lokasenna (Poetic Edda). Jan 18, 2022 at 17:04
  • Given the destructive madness caused by male channeling, though, I think the male side of the Power has to be associated with darkness in WoT. (The "Dragon's Fang" was originally the male half of the yin/yang symbol but is by Rand's time associated with the Darkfriends.) So it is probably intentional but if there was an authorial confirmation it would likely be on the Theoryland database. Jan 18, 2022 at 17:07
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    @cometaryorbit I tend to agree- after a bit more creative Googling I finally turned up a similar question on Reddit that never got an answer. And I happened to reread the first 2 books in the past month. No answer there, though that's hardly surprising. reddit.com/r/WoT/comments/6hmnfm/…
    – user146823
    Jan 18, 2022 at 21:17

1 Answer 1


I don't know if this has been confirmed by anyone with authority, but there is evidence that the switch was intentional. The first part of this evidence is the interdependence between male and female in the story, then some specific evidence from how severing is healed that convinces me of the switch being on purpose.

Relationships between men and women (not limited to romantic) are important to the WoT plot throughout. Especially interdependence is emphasized, based on the number of times the story reminds us that the greatest works of Aes Sedai were accomplished with men and women working together. This could be reduced just to the ability to expand circles to 72, but I don't find that to be a very satisfying answer. There are many reasons to think that the Saidin/Saidar combination is more important than just increased power from linking:

  1. The creator has both driving the world.
  2. Elayne and Rand use very different methods to extinguish fire, suggesting that Saidin and Saidar work very differently, and using both tools will produce a more versatile skill set than one alone (also see traveling).
  3. Cooperation between men and women in the Age of Legends is used enough that Mierin Eronaile and her colleagues attempt to find a different source to make it easier.
  4. Key evidence: Rand needs both Saidin and Saidar to cleanse Saidin, and he likewise needs both Saidin and Saidar to mend the bore. The taint from Lews Therin's approach is solved by Rand using the True Power to buffer the Dark One from contact with the One Power, but the Saidin-only mend was just a patch, a temporary closure, while Rand using Saidin and Saidar together was able to restore it to something near its original state.

OK, all of that is necessary, but not really the point. Here it is:

First is the observation that women dealing with men is similar to women dealing with Saidar. Moiraine dealing with Rand is the key exhibit, but although I don't have any specific examples I can point to, I feel like this is observed by other female channelers, but only ever in reference to dealing with men, never with other women (please correct me if I'm wrong here). This starts to beg the question: is Saidar "the female half" of the One Power because it is female in nature, or because females can touch it?

What convinced me, however, was Nynaeve's healings of Logain and Siuan/Leane, paired with Damer Flinn's healings of stilled Aes Sedai. When Nynaeve used Saidar to heal Logain, he is described as having all his former power, while Siuan and Leane are left with a fraction of their former strength. Likewise, Flinn's healed Aes Sedai are described as being healed to full strength. Per the Wiki, Jordan confirmed that the opposite-gender healing played a role in this.

However, long before ever looking on the internet for an answer, I was bothered about the implications of this. Nynaeve describes her healing as creating a bridge. She feels something cut, but she doesn't heal the cut like she would a flesh wound. Nowhere else is Healing described as just a Saidar or Saidin patch. Only here is the healing described as what it is: it is a Saidar bridge that allows Logain to channel Saidin.

Do all men who channel walk around with a bit of Saidar in them? Do all women who channel walk around with a bit of Saidin? That also explains Siuan and Leane - their now Saidar bridges are a poor imitation of the original bit of Saidin that allowed them to channel in the first place.

You mentioned that the dots are missing, the dots that represent the seed of Yin in Yang and the seed of Yang in Yin. In your link, it seems that Jordan meant the omission to be a sign of the disharmony between the two halves. The symbol of ancient Aes Sedai was also made by the very human Aes Sedai of the age, none of whom knew how to Heal severing. Mierin wanted to discover a way to discard the Saidin/Saidar differences and find the One Source for men and women alike, and scholars of the age seemed excited by this possibility. Even though only a few actually created the bore, there was deep and widespread misunderstanding of the nature of the One Power shared by those who created the symbol without dots.

The truth is that Saidin only works with a seed of Saidar, and Saidar only with a seed of Saidin. Again, I have to ask the question: do we call Saidar the female half because it is female in nature, or because it is wielded by female channelers?

Of course, the simplest answer could just be as commented in the OP that the dark had to represent male and the light female for other thematic reasons, but it's also possible that Jordan intentionally muddied the difference between the identities of the powers and of those who wielded those powers.

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. I don't see anywhere in here that you've answered the question about the apparent swapping of the senses of the white (masculine vs. feminine) and black (feminine vs. masculine) parts of the symbol from our world's yin and yang. Please make sure you primarily answer the question before starting any digressions. You might want to read How to Answer.
    – DavidW
    Nov 9, 2022 at 22:12
  • Hello @DavidW. I have twice proposed the possibility that Saidar is masculine (and Saidin feminine), and that we only associate Saidar with femininity (and Saidin with masculinity) because of the person who wields them. I believe I have answered the question, but appreciate any help in making the answer clearer. Nov 9, 2022 at 22:23
  • It would help if you used "masculine," "feminine," "yin," "yang," "white," or "black" at all in your answer to explain what you are referring to.
    – DavidW
    Nov 9, 2022 at 22:26
  • I appreciate the attempt Bryan-- this is a question that I think it may be impossible to get an actual answer to. As you point out, I think there's quite a bit of indirect evidence that Jordan was aware of all of the "real world" associations and therefore the "mismatch" is meaningful. But it also seems like we're going to be missing any direct evidence. After a year nobody turned it up in the books, and I couldn't find anything via Google. Cometaryorbit's observation about saidar v seidr was very nice context.
    – user146823
    Nov 9, 2022 at 22:29

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