Wheel of Time Real World References and Parallels | 63 Surprising Connections
The Wheel of Time is chock full of real world references and parallels!
As the author once said…
There’s very little in the books that’s by accident. -Robert Jordan
But beware of spoilers ahead! These Wheel of Time real world references cover the entire series of books, from Eye of the World to Morning of Light!
Wheel of Time mythology references and parallels
Robert Jordan was a masterful writer who paralleled aspects of several different mythologies into every character, culture and place. So we will break them down piece by piece!
Comparing The Wheel of Time and The Legend of King Arthur
Rand’s last name sounds similar to Arthur.
And looking a little closer, you’ll notice many similarities between character names and Arthurian legend.
- Al’thor: Arthur.
- Amyrlin: Merlin, also spelled Myrddin, Arthur’s chief advisor or magician
- Moiraine: Morgan Le Fay, also known as Morgaine, among other names
- Morgase: Morgause
- Tigraine: Ygrainne, King Arthur’s mother, who was seduced by Uther Pendragon with Merlin’s aid.
- Egwene al’Vere: Guenever/Guinevere, although beyond the name, she doesn’t share many similarities
- Artur Paendrag: Arthur Pendragon
- Callandor: Excalibur, the sword in the stone. It can only be removed by the person worthy of kingship.
- Galad: Galahad the Pure
- Gawyn: Gawain
- Green Man: Green Knight or Green Man
- Sa’angreal: San Greal (Holy Grail). An alternate spelling, Sang Real, translates to “holy or royal blood”
- Nynaeve: Nyneve or Vivian, who was Merlin’s lover and cause of his imprisonment in the enchanted cave in Cornwall.
- Merrilin: Merlin again, an advisor to a Queen. Also a bard and traveling minstrel in other tales
- Lan: Lancelot. Both are the best fighters in the land, though the similarities end there.
- Damodred/Demandred: possibly Mordred. Mordred was Arthur’s bastard son by his aunt Morgawse, and his slayer.
- Elayne: Elayne/Elaine: Elayne is sister to Queens Morgawse and Ygrainne (Arthur’s mother). In another Arthurian legend, she is one of the three women in Arthur’s funeral boat to Avalon. The second Elaine is Sir Galahad’s mother.
- Luthair Paendrag: Uther Pendragon. In WoT, he is Artur’s son, instead of his father
- Tar Valon: Avalon, a mythical island inhabited by nine sisters. Excalibur was forged in Avalon
- Caemlyn: Camlaan, where Arthur fought his final battle against Mordred. Or Camelot.
- Elyas, Aram, Demandred, Bors: All the same as or similar to names of Arthurian knights.
The Wheel of Time and Norse Mythology Parallels
Rand and Tyr
The Norse god Tyr is the god of organized warfare. And Tyr lost a hand when the Gods decided to bind the giant wolf Fenrisulf.
There aren’t too many connections between Rand and Tyr, but that leads us to…
Mat Cauthon and Odin
Odin is the oldest of the Gods, and ruler of Asgard. He’s associated with wisdom, war, battle and death, but also trickery and cunning. Odin is often pictured with a horse and a spear. He has magical artifacts, including a spear that never misses its target. The ravens Hugin and Munin flew around the world and reported back to him. And Mat is certainly associated with ravens.
He is the horn sounder associated with the Wild Hunt, where he leads a group of slain warriors across the sky.
Like Tyr, Odin is a God of war, but he is the bringer of victory.
Odin was hung from Yggdrasil, the world tree, and pierced with his own spear, in order to gain wisdom that would give him power in the nine known worlds. Sound familiar?
He also sacrificed an eye in order to be allowed to drink from Imers Well, and thus gain knowledge of the past, present and future.
Odin was known as the Father of Battles as well, and Mat is called Son of Battles by the Finns.
Wheel of Time and Slavic mythology parallels
Perrin parallels the Slavic god Perun.
In fact, their names are almost identical
And Perun’s favored weapons were the axe, hammer, and bow, paralleling Perrin’s half- moon axe, blacksmith’s hammer, and Two Rivers bow. The connection goes further- Perun’s hammer was called “molnia” and Perrin’s power-wrought hammer is called Mah’alleinir.
Bulls were sacrificed to Perun, and the wolves call Perrin Young Bull.
Finally, as missionaries converted Slavs to Christianity, they used Saint Elijah the Thunderer as an analogy for Perun. This parallels Perrin’s connection to Elyas!
Related post: Wheel of Time Easter Eggs
Trolloc bands parallel monsters from mythology
Check out the names of these trolloc bands in the Old Tongue. They correspond to mythological monsters in our world.
- Ahf’frait (Strong wind)- ifrit
- Al’ghol (soulless)- ghoul
- Bhan’sheen (bringers of annihilation) – banshee
- Dhai’mon (scythes of war) – demon
- Dha’vol (sires of agony) – devil
- Dhjin’nen (those who cause terror) – jinn, genie
- Ghar’ghael (brutes of venom) – gargoyle
- Ghob’hlin (harvesters of souls) – goblin
- Gho’hlem (takers of souls) – golem
- Ghraem’lan (prized of the mighty) – gremlin
- Ko’bal (circle of one, brotherhood) – kobold
Wheel of Time Real World References
As with many tales from the First Age, the facts have been lost in the turning of the wheel. Wheel of Time real world references often contain a bit of truth and some misinformation.
Lenn flying to the moon
“Tell us about Lenn,”Egwene called. “How he flew to the moon in the belly of an eagle made of fire. Tell about his daughter Salya walking among the stars.Elayne talking to Thom, The Eye of the World
This is a reference to John Glenn. Of course, the “eagle made of fire” is a rocket. In fact, the lunar descent module was called The Eagle.
Although Neil Armstrong was actually the first man on the moon, and Sally Ride (the first woman in space) wasn’t his daughter, this “myth” from our age faded over time.
Ages of Wonder
“Old stories, those,” Thom Merrilin said, and abruptly he was juggling three colored balls with each hand. “Stories from the Age before the Age of Legends, some say. Perhaps even older. But I have all stories, mind you now, of Ages that were and will be. Ages when men ruled the heavens and the stars, and Ages when man roamed as brother to the animals. Ages of wonder, and Ages of horror. Ages ended by fire raining from the skies, and Ages doomed by snow and ice covering land and sea. I have all stories, and I will tell all stories…Thom, The Eye of the World
Thom replies to Egwene, alluding to previous ages that ended with fire from the skies- likely nuclear weapons- and ice and snow covering land and sea- alluding to a disaster related to the climate.
Mosk the Giant
…Tales of Mosk the Giant, with his Lance of Fire that could reach around the world and….Thom, The Eye of the World
And Thom continues, likely alluding to Mosk (Moscow, Russia), with its missiles and weapons of the Cold War era.
Alsbet, Queen of All
….his wars with Alsbet, the Queen of All…Thom, The Eye of the World
Perhaps Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned over 32 different countries spanning the globe?
Mosk and Merk
Did Mosk and Merk really fight with spears of fire, and were they even giants?-Thom, The Shadow Rising
And this is another reference to Moscow (Mosc) and America (Merk) during the Cold War.
Materese the Healer
Back to our long quote from TEotW
…Tales of Materese the Healer, Mother of the Wondrous Ind.”Thom, TEotW
Here we have Mother Teresa of Calcutta, India. She was a Catholic nun and winner of the 1979 Nobel Peace prize for “work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress.”
The Heroes of the Horn
And yet more references to famous people of our time:
But he heard a hundred different names when he looked at each face, some so different he did not recognize them as names at all, though he knew they were. Michael instead of Mikel. Patrick instead of Paedrig. Oscar instead of Otarin.”
Mikel of the Pure Heart
Commonly believed to be Saint Michael the Archangel.
Paedrig the Peacemaker
Assumed to be Saint Patrick. Pádraig is the Irish form of Patrick. And this saint is well-known for his golden tongue, which he used to convert many pagans to Christianity.
Possibly Saint Óscar Romero, who was put forward for consideration for sainthood a few months before The Great Hunt was released.
Amaterasu, the Japanese goddess of the sun and a key figure in Shinto religion.
Buad of Albhain
Queen Boudica, a famous warrior queen in British history who led an uprising against the Roman forces of the time. And her story parallels The Last Ride of Buad of Albhain in WoT.
Albhain refers to Albion, an alternate name for Britain.
Calian the Chooser and Shivan the Hunter
The goddess Kali and Shiva the Destroyer
Ghoetam under The Tree of Life” – A Memory of Light
A reference to Gautama Buddha
Related post: Amazon’s Wheel of Time Series Overview
Hend the Striker
Hend the Striker is a dark-skinned man who carries a hammer in one hand and a spike in the other. He’s a reference to the American folk hero, John Henry.
“a woman who, who led a band band of thieves, stole money from a queen.”Elayne
Birgitte is a parallel to Robin Hood and even went by the name Marion (Maid Marian) in a previous incarnation.
She also resembles the Celtic goddess Brighid, meaning “fire arrow.”
And, Saint Bridget also had an affinity for children and beer.
But, wait there’s more! With her harp and silver bow, there are parallels with Greek god Apollo.
And, like the Greek hero Orpheus, she descends into the Tower of Ghenji to retrieve her lover (Gaidal Cain) but is unsuccessful. In both stories, the would-be rescuer played the harp to try to escape.
Related post: Wheel of Time Sayings
More Wheel of Time references to the real world
Jaem the Giant-Slayer
A reference to the fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk
Anla the Wise Counselor
Refers to Ann Landers, an advice columnist who wrote “Ask Ann Landers” which ran in several newspapers in the US for 56 years
Three- pointed star
A silvery thing in another cabinet, like a three-pointed star inside a circle, was made of no substance she knew; it was softer than metal, scratched and gouged, yet even older than any of the ancient bones. From ten paces she could sense pride and vanity…The Panarch’s Palace in The Shadow Rising
Perhaps a Mercedes-Benz hood ornament?
A tall animal
…and opposite it on the other side were the bones of some slender four-footed beast with a neck so long the skull was half as high as the ceilingThe Panarch’s Palace, The Shadow Rising
Could it be a giraffe skeleton?
Knife, Paper, Rock
In Path of Darkness, Min sees maidens playing a game called “knife, paper, rock.”
Rock, paper, scissors, perhaps?
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Old Tongue Parallels to Real World Words
Many of the words in Wheel of Time are references to words from our age. For example:
- Tarmon Gaidon – armageddon
- Shayol Ghul – Sheol is the place of the dead in the Hebrew Bible
- Shai’tan – the Arabic word for devil, similar to Satan
- Algode- cotton (algodon is Spanish for cotton)
Food and drink
And here are some food and drinks you likely know:
- Kaf- coffee
- Tabac- tobacco
- Oosquai – alcoholic Aiel drink, whiskey
- Zemai – crop the Aeil grow, maize, corn
- Poisonous peaches- did you know peach pits are poisonous in our world? In WoT, the entire fruit is poisonous.
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FAQ- Wheel of Time real world references
What world does Wheel of Time take place in?
The Wheel of Time takes place on Earth in a different time period.
Is The Wheel of Time our world?
Yes, The Wheel of Time is our world.
This quote from author Robert Jordan explains:
That’s the whole thing, in these books: it’s giving you hints, really, and it was the way it was giving you hints, clearly, as to the way things are working in the books, that these are the source of legends, but it’s not in any way a straightforward retelling. What two or three men have done will be compressed to make one story, or what one man has done may be split up into two different men—this part’s given to somebody else, and that part’s given to that one—and he himself is completely forgotten.
I put these things there in a way as a clue, a hint to you: this is the way things are working in these books, this is what has come of things that are somewhat recognizable from our time. What myths have risen out of them?
So, you see how the distortion has happened. What myths are going to arise out of the events of these books? It’s not going to be just another telling of what happens in these books—it’s all going to be twisted and woven together in ways that nobody who was there at the events would ever recognize. -Robert Jordan on Wheel of Time real world references [source]
What is the name of the World in Wheel
There is no official name for the world in Wheel of Time, but fans refer to it as “Randland.”
Who are the Aiel based on?
Robert Jordan confirmed that the Aeil are based on the Zulu, Bedouin, Apache, and Japanese cultures, among others.
And the 12 Aeil clans also resemble the 12 clans of Israel. Both had a 13th clan (the Jenn and the Levites) who founded a repository of their culture’s history.
Aiel clans and septs also draw inspiration from Scottish and Irish clans and septs.
Jordan also thought it would be fun to have a desert culture with an Irish heritage, which explains their physical resemblance.
First off, I’d like to say thanks Mr. Jordan for providing my family and I countless hours of reading enjoyment, and I’d like to ask you something about the Aiel, well, who are they?
You’re welcome. And they are the descendants of the pacifists who were in service to the Aes Sedai in the Age of Legends. If on the other hand, you mean the source of the culture…in my mind, they contain some elements of the Apache, some of the Zulu, some of the Bedouin, and some elements of my own including that I rather liked the fact of making the desert dwellers blue-eyed and fair instead of the usual dark-eyed, dark-complected desert people
-Robert Jordan, Section 23
Is our earth a future or past turn of the wheel?
Our earth is both a future turn and a past turn of the wheel.
Both. The characters in the books are the source of many of our myths and legends and we are the source of many of theirs. You can look two ways along a wheel.
Robert Jordan, Section 40
Wrap up- Wheel of Time Real World References and Parallels
The Wheel of Time has so many real world references and parallels, I certainly couldn’t cover them all in just one post! But I hope you’re enjoyed the dive into cultures and legends from around the world!
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