From Tar Valon Library
Author: Cariyad Teridal
Unless stated otherwise, all information herein is taken from TWoRJTWoT.
General Female Population
Aiel women who are not Maidens of the Spear wear long, bulky skirts and blouses often made from the algode plant (TSR, Ch. 49). Hair is worn at shoulder-length or longer, but is rarely braided or gathered up. Instead, Aiel women frequently pull their hair back from their face with a scarf. High-ranking women, such as Wise Ones or Roofmistresses, are likely to adorn themselves with many bracelets and necklaces, often of carved ivory or precious jewels. Aiel do not traditionally wear rings.
Maidens of the Spear
- Main article: Maidens of the Spear
Girls who want to be warriors, join the Maidens of the Spear, the Warrior Society for women. As long as a woman is a Maiden, she is not allowed to have children, and if she should give birth, must either give up the spear or the child.
The Wise Ones
- Main article: Wise Ones
The vast majority of cultures in the world of the Wheel of Time have women who dabble in herb craft and healing. In the Two Rivers this woman is the village Wisdom, in Cairhien a Reader, and in the Aiel Waste these women are the Wise Ones.
All female Aiel channelers are Wise Ones, but not all Wise Ones can channel (TSR, Ch. 23). All Wise Ones are trained in healing through herb lore and other means, but, despite the strength of many in saidar, the talent of Healing in almost unknown to the Wise Ones (TSR, Ch. 34). There are, however, things that the Wise Ones can do that the Aes Sedai can or will not, such as picking apart, or unweaving, a weave of saidar (TPoD, Ch. 2).
A Talent a few Wise Ones do possess, one thought lost to the White Tower, is Dreaming. This allows the Wise Ones to communicate with others through their dreams (TSR, Ch. 34) and to gain a limited and often metaphorical view of the future (TSR, Ch. 23). Dreamers also have free access to Tel'aran'rhiod, the World of Dreams.
The Wise Ones have great authority and influence with sept and clan chiefs. A Wise One can go into any Aiel hold regardless of clan, as not even blood feud touches a Wise One. Wise Ones may not be taken as gai'shain (TSR, Ch. 23).
The Wise Ones find all young women who can channel and train them. Training is harsh, and punishments of pointless exercise (such as digging a hole with a spoon and then filling it in again) are often used to drive points home. The Wise One Melaine calls the training of novices and Accepted in the White Tower “coddling” (TSR, Ch. 23).
During her training to become a Wise One, a woman enters the city of Rhuidean twice. The first time she enters what is almost certainly a ter'angreal: three circular arches that, when stepped through, reveal the many possible futures. Memories of this fade almost entirely, but often resurface when events foreseen within the rings occur in reality (TSR, Ch. 23). The second entrance to Rhuidean, at the end of training, takes the potential Wise One into the heart of Rhuidean and through the same glass columns as a candidate for clan chief. Again a ter’angreal, the journey through these glass columns reveals the history of the Aiel back to the Age of Legends, when their ancestors, the Da’shain Aiel, lived by the pacifist code of the Way of the Leaf.
While the sept chief of a hold may have control over it, he does not “own” it or its land. No man can own a roof or land. The hold belongs to the Roofmistress, traditionally the chief’s wife, who has ultimate decision over who is allowed into the hold. It is within her right to refuse entrance even to the clan chief (TSR, Ch. 48).
Young girls wear their hair in two braids, one over each ear with ribbon twined through each. Almost every girl dreams of becoming a Maiden of the Spear and learns at least the rudiments of the bow, spear, and of fighting with hands and feet (TSR, Ch. 34). It is almost as common to see a young girl carrying a miniature spear as a doll.