What is gentling in The Wheel of Time?

On the newest episode of The Wheel of Time we got to know Logain Abler (Alvaro Morte), a male channeler who thought himself the Dragon Reborn. As we learned early on in the series, male channelers are traditionally a problem, since the Dark One tainted the male half of the One Power long ago, meaning that whenever starts touching the One Power, it’s only a matter of time before he goes mad.

The mass onset of madness in male channelers in the Age of Legends is what led to the Breaking of the World, and the Aes Sedai are invested in making sure that never happens again. There’s even a whole contingent of Aes Sedai — the Red Ajah — dedicated to hunting down male channelers and “gentling” them, or cutting off their access to the One Power.

This is what happens to Logain at the end of the episode. After putting up a fight, the Aes Sedai bound him with the One Power and then forcibly kept him from ever touching it again. In the same episode, Thom Merrilin (Alexandre Willaume) told Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski) about a nephew of his who could channel, and who was eventually gentled by the Aes Sedai. As Thom tells the tale, his nephew lost the will to live and eventually committed suicide.

Can gentling be done to women in The Wheel of Time?

That’s the consequence of gentling: touching the One Power is such an ecstatic experience that once people are cut off from it they have a hard time filling that void with anything else, although it is possible. Female channelers can be gentled too, although in that case it’s usually called “stilling.” An Aes Sedai might be stilled for extreme crimes against the White Tower, although the punishment is only meted out in the most severe of circumstances.

Channelers can also gentle themselves, in effect, if they use too much of the One Power when already exhausted. This is called “burning out” and most often happens with channelers who have not been properly trained.

The next question is: can someone come back from being gentled? We’ll just have to watch…

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