Why Whites Go Black
Author: Hyain Robere
Note This article was written before The Gathering Storm, specifically before Verin's List gave an accurate assessment of the number of Black Ajah Aes Sedai in each Ajah
Though for years many Aes Sedai refused to acknowledge the existence of the Black Ajah, it does exist. And though the existence of the Black Ajah has become clear, not very much is known about it or its members. There are twenty-one Aes Sedai (though some are deceased) known to be Black Ajah. They are listed below, grouped by their former Ajahs, although there are almost certainly more Black Ajah members who remain unknown - possible many times those listed here.
It's difficult to work out what percentage of each Ajah has gone Black because the Tower has never made clear the numbers of Aes Sedai in each Ajah, and because we do not know how many Black Ajah sisters there are. An educated guess puts the number of total Aes Sedai (in the Tower, in Salidar and traveling elsewhere) at around 1000 to 1200. It is known that the Red Ajah is the largest and that nearly 1 in 5 Aes Sedai is Red. This puts the number of Red Aes Sedai at 200-240. However, there are only 3 known Red sisters who turned Black Ajah.
If there are in fact no other Black Ajah members who were once Red, then only about 1.5 percent of the Red Ajah has turned Black. However, this number is probably inaccurate because it is so unlikely that only three former Red Ajah sisters joined the Black Ajah. A more likely guess would be closer to 5% and possibly higher, but this is only built off the assumption that there are at least ten more Black/Red Ajah members who we have not learned of.
It is even harder to guess the sizes of the other ajahs, even though we know that in order from the largest to the smallest they go Red, Green, Gray, Brown, Yellow, Blue, White. It is possible that Brown has the smallest percentage of Ajah members turning Black. But this is only a very rough guess, based on the fact that the Brown Ajah is in the middle size-wise and has the smallest number of members who've turned Black, out of all the Ajahs. However, the differences between the Brown Ajah and the Gray and Yellow Ajahs as far as size goes is completely unknown, as well as the fact that it is possible there are more who simply haven't been discovered yet.
The only other Ajah the size of which anyone can guess at is the White Ajah, because it is also the smallest. There are 20 known White Ajah members.
- Alviarin Freidhen
- Bernaile Gelbarn
- Daigian Moseneillin
- Falion Bhoda
- Ferane Neheran
- Norine Dovarna
- Rianna Andomeran
- Sarene Nemdahl
- Seaine Herimon
- Turanna Norill
- Valinde Nathenos
- Velina Behar
- Zerah Dacan
Of the 20 listed above, four are known to be Black Ajah, including Alviarin Freidhen, who is the leader of the Black Ajah inside the Tower. Also on this list there are only two White sisters who are known not to be Black Ajah. Seaine Herimon, White Sitter and Black Ajah Hunter. She cannot be Black Ajah because Alviarin does not recognize anyone but Talene (a Green Sitter) as Black Ajah among the Sitters. Also, Zerah Dacan, who cannot be Black Ajah because she swore on an Oath Rod and admitted that she was not, and the First Reasoner Ferane, as Mesaana is shown as upset that except for Galina, who got herself captured, none of the other Ajah Heads are Black. Among the rest of them, it is not known; it could be any of them.
There are not only twenty White Ajah members. A better guess would be anywhere between 40 and 80. If one assumes that there are at least 80 White Aes Sedai (which there may not be, this is only a guess, we only know there are at least twenty) and one also assumes that there are no other White Ajah members who are also Black Ajah members, then that means that already 5% of the White ajah has turned to the Black Ajah. If one goes on to try assuming there are only 40 White Sisters, and that there are no more than 4 White sisters turned to Black sisters, then that's 10% of the Ajah. These percentages include the absolute lowest number of White sisters who could have gone over to the Black Ajah, because it is simply fact that at least four have done so. There are probably more, and in that case, the percentage is even higher. Whether we assume four is the total number or that there are more doesn't matter, because it's still a higher percentage than any other Ajah no matter which way you work it. All the other Ajahs have had either four or fewer members go Black, and all of them have to have more Aes Sedai than the Whites because we know that the White is the smallest.
This creates the Question: Why have so many White Ajah members turned Black Ajah?
One theory is that the only reason for the high percentage is the small size of the White Ajah. In order for this theory to be true, there would have to be a similar number of Black Aes Sedai who turned over in each Ajah regardless of the Ajah's sizes, and then the Whites would have a higher percentage of members go Black, even if they don't really have any more members turn than any other Ajah. Say for example that there was a minimum requirement of four or five Black sisters from every Ajah, though no Ajah would have given more Aes Sedai to the Black, the percentages would all be skewed. This would also keep the members of the Black Ajah fairly well balanced. However this plan does have a flaw. Why would the Dark One (or his minions and Forsaken and darkfriends etc) be content to have only five (or possibly a higher number, ten, twenty etc) Black sisters from each of the ajahs, so that they were balanced and could keep it even between the Ajahs when there would be so many Aes Sedai in the other Ajahs to corrupt. And what would the Dark One want with balance and harmony and equality of separate Ajahs in the new Black Ajah anyway? It simply doesn't work... so there has to be some reason for the White sisters to specifically turn to the Black.
A possibility is that it is the personality of the White sisters which causes them to be more inclined to follow the Dark One. There is a possibility that because Whites are philosophers and thinkers, they may consider the situation very carefully (at least more carefully than members of the other Ajahs) and decide that the Dark One is more likely to win the Last Battle and so the logical choice is to side with him.