This article is about Tel'aran'rhiod in the Wheel of Time books. The Quest for Tel'aran'rhiod is about dreamworlds in real life cultures
Tel'aran'rhiod, or the World of Dreams is a world that is both of the world and apart from it, possibly lying between the weaves of the Great Pattern. Most people cannot enter it deliberately, though many touch it briefly, for just a few moments. There is a danger to those who do, as wounds taken there will still exist when the person wakes; a person who dies there dies in truth. Permanent features, such as the landscape and buildings, are mirrored exactly, but transient ones, such as papers, or the position of a table or chair, flit in and out of Tel'aran'rhiod (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 23). Every place has its reflection (ACoS, Ch. 11). There is a feel of 'unseen eyes' (TFoH, Ch. 9) and always a sense of light (LoC, Ch. 7). One hour might pass in the waking world while you spent five or ten in the World of Dreams, but it could just as easily be the other way around (WH, Ch. 26). What was in the waking world was here, but the reverse was not always so. The Unseen World reflected the waking world, if in odd ways, and perhaps other worlds, too. There is a pattern woven of worlds, of the reality here and others, just as the weaving of people's lives. Tel'aran'rhiod touched them all, yet few could enter except for a few unknowingly brief, yet dangerous moments. What happened to the dreamer in Tel'aran'rhiod happened in the waking world, including death (TFoH, Ch. 14). It is possible to pull a person into the Dream. The Aiel consider this an evil thing and will not even think about how to do it, but the Black Ajah worked it out and were able to pull Amathera into it (TSR, Ch. 52)
Some people have the ability to enter Tel'aran'rhiod at will. These people, Dreamwalkers, are not necessarily able to channel, but their abilities to shape reality while in the dream can be as powerful as any channeling. Dreamwalking is closely related to Dreaming, the ability to have prophetic dreams. Dreamwalkers are also able to find other people's dreams, enter them, or to pull them out of the dream and into Tel'aran'rhiod (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 23). Knowledge of Tel'aran'rhiod was often as powerful as saidar, more at times (ACoS, Ch. 12). When a Dreamwalker is in Tel'aran'rhiod, a tiny bit of her remains to keep her body alive. When she enters a shallow sleep and is able to talk in the waking world, then she appears faint in the World of Dreams much like those who use the dream ter'angreal (TFoH, Ch. 49). See Sleepweavers. Nightmares drifted through the world of dreams and sometimes latched onto a particular spot. Dreamwalkers destroy them (LoC, Ch. 7).
Entering in the Flesh
It is also possible to enter Tel'aran'rhiod via a gateway, though the Aiel believe that entering in the flesh is dangerous. When there, a person's control is somewhat limited, but their ability to draw on the One Power is greater (TFoH, Ch. 55) Egwene created a place with saidar where the real world was so similar to its reflection in Tel'aran'rhiod that there was no difference right there. She was then able to travel expeditiously (LoC, Ch. 34).
- Main article: Slayer
The being known as Slayer, who is some sort of amalgam of Luc and Isam has the ability to enter in the flesh, though he is unable to channel. It is unknown how this works, but he considers it a gift from the Dark One. He can step in or out of Tel'aran'rhiod at will, taking the form of either Luc or Isam, and while there, has considerable abilities.
It was said that wolves live in part in Tel'aran'rhiod (TDR, Ch. 9), and the spirits of dead wolves can be found there (TDR, Ch. 36). The way wolves talk to each other, the way they talk to a Wolfbrother, is in some way connected to this world of dreams. If a wolf dies in Tel'aran'rhiod, they die forever. Possibly as a by product of this Perrin wondered if something hidden in the "wolf dream" could produce an effect in the real world (ToM, Ch. 34). The wolf dream was dying (ToM, Epilogue).
- Birgitte could find anyone who knew they were in Tel'aran'rhiod (TFoH, Ch. 14).
- Sleep in Tel'aran'rhiod is not as restful as sleep undisturbed (TFoH, Ch. 25).
- Just as Rhuidean had been closed, Ogier stedding cannot be entered in Tel'aran'rhiod (ACoS, Ch. 11).
- Tame animals seemed to have no reflection in the World or Dreams and nothing done here could touch the waking world (CoT, Ch. 14).
- Traveling in the World of Dreams, letting need direct could be dangerous, but also illuminating (TGS, Ch. 38).
- The Aes Sedai test works much the same way as Tel'aran'rhiod. Practice in Tel'aran'rhiod made Nynaeve innately able to break the test (ToM, Ch. 20).
- Main article: Sleepweaver
During the Age of Legends, entering Tel'aran'rhiod was common and many ter'angreal were made to aid this, some of which required channeling, and gave limited access, for training students (LoC, Ch. 7) and others did not require chanelling (TDR, Ch. 21).
There is a world that lies within each of these others, inside all of them at the same time. Or perhaps surrounding them. Writers in the Age of Legends called it Tel’aran’rhiod, “the Unseen World.” Perhaps “the World of Dreams” is a better translation. Many people – ordinary folk who could not think of channeling - sometimes glimpse Tel’aran’rhiod in their dreams, and even catch glimmers of these other worlds through it. Think of some of the peculiar things you have seen in your dreams. But a Dreamer, child - a true Dreamer - can enter Tel’aran’rhiod (Verin to Egwene, The Dragon Reborn, Chapter 21)