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Our Great Mother does not take sides, Jake... she protects only the balance of life.
Neytiri to Jake Sully regarding Eywa protecting life on Pandora.
Woodsprites

Woodsprites are interpreted as signs from Eywa by the Omatikaya clan.

Eywa, also known as the All-Mother or the Great Mother, is the globally distributed consciousness of Pandora and the balancing and guiding force behind all its ecosystems, allowing all species to live in harmony and balance with their environment. She is the only known deity of the Na'vi.

Scientific Discoveries[]

Tree patterns

The bioluminescence at night shows Eywa's "neural pathways" akin to her "brain"

The rainforest of Pandora was proven to form a system with more connections than the human brain, with the roots of individual trees engaging in electrochemical communication with each other, acting like synapses between neurons, indicating that the entirety of the biosphere of Pandora possesses an intelligence or at least an "awareness," being capable of cognitive reactions.[1]

Na'vi Culture and Mythology[]

The Na'vi all share certain key values even across clans, including their reverence for Eywa, the Great Mother, made up of all living things. They see life as a network of flowing energy, knowing, all energy is only borrowed by all living things through which it flows, and that one day, it must be returned. All creatures are understood to have two forms: a body, and a spiritual counterpart or soul or spirit (vitra). At the end of one's life, their energy subsides into Eywa, giving birth to a new life form.

As Eywa is made up of all living things, the Na'vi say, they live in Eywa, and Eywa lives in them. This, however, doesn't mean that individual life forms are identical to Eywa, who encompasses but also goes beyond them all, in the same way all cells are parts of and having their life in the organism they form, but they're not identical to the unity they comprise.

Unlike some religions from Earth, the Na'vi do not personify and worship non-living forces of the world, such as mountains, rivers, or volcanoes, nor they view Eywa as a deity who creates and governs the cosmos, who is responsible for disasters, diseases and other events. They also know that Eywa defends and guides life itself, but won't protect or favor an individual or group over another - however, in times of assault on the biosphere and the balance of life itself, she acts to protect Pandora.[2] However, they do call out for her help in times of need and express gratitude to her for escape from danger.[3] The Na'vi view all living things as a single connected system to be respected and cared for. However, they revere certain trees and plants as especially sacred - as places where it's possible to connect and communicate with Eywa herself, such as the Tree of Souls of the Omatikaya and the Spirit Tree of the Metkayina. The tsahìk, the spiritual leader of the Na'vi clans are interpreting the will of Eywa, making meaning of the signs she is understood to send, usually through the seeds of the Tree of Souls.[1]

The Na'vi seek to live in perpetual harmony with their world. Their oneness with Eywa provides them with a sense of certainty, selfless values, and pure motives. This can be interpreted as childish naiveté to humans, some of whom hope to prey on the Na'vi's perceived innocence. However, faith and optimism have proved strong enough to lead the Na'vi through many hard times throughout their history.

The Na'vi relate to the rest of the biosphere along the lines of three principles called the Three Laws of Eywa, expressing their commitment to a low-impact lifestyle: gathering and hunting only that they need and not trying to alter the ecosystems to create greater comfort for themselves.

Spiritual Practices[]

Saving grace

3D Version: red/cyancross-eyedThe Omatikaya clan link together at the Tree of Souls to attempt a consciousness transfer.

The Na'vi respect, celebrate, pray to, and give thanks to Eywa in many of their cultural practices.

The Na'vi have a deep spiritual connection with entire biosphere of Pandora, seeing other living beings as brothers and sisters, as they're all children of the Great Mother. Thus, they put an emphasis on giving thanks to the animals they kill for their meat, wishing for their spirit to be reversed into Eywa.[1][3]

In times of great need, Na'vi clan members gather at the Tree of Souls and all unanimously connect their queues to the tree; through this, they all experience a simultaneous connection to each other, a condition of profound emotional power. According to the tsahìk, this connection enables clan members to better "see" each other and amplifies any message they have to Eywa. This is the strongest statement of purpose the Na'vi can make, and is vital to important processes such as the consciousness transfer.

Jake Prays To Eywa HD

Jake Sully trying to communicate with Eywa through the Tree of Souls.

The Na'vi also pray at sites like the Tree of Voices and upload their memories and consciousness to Eywa prior to any great act. These sites also allow the Na'vi to access the Pandoran Neural Network and the wealth of memories, information, and consciousnesses along with it, and even commune with deceased friends and family. Some Na'vi frequently upload information to the network, such as their hopes, dreams, and memories, while others only do so occasionally.[4] The Tree of Voices' strong connection to Eywa ensures that all pledges or vows made there are eternally binding.[5]

History[]

Neytiri & Woodsprite

A woodsprite lands on Neytiri's bow which she interprets as a sign from Eywa

In 2154, Neytiri was about to kill Jake Sully in his avatar as an intruder with her bow. However, a woodsprite landed on her bow which she interpreted as a sign from Eywa to let him live. She later saved Jake from the viperwolves, but refused to help him to get back to Hell's Gate. However, numerous woodsprites appeared and landed all over Jake's body, another sign from Eywa. As a result, Neytiri changed her mind and decided to lead Jake to the Omatikaya village.

Later on, when Dr. Grace Augustine was fatally wounded during an escape from Hell's Gate, Jake asked the Na'vi for help, who agreed to attempt to transfer her mind from her human body to her avatar. However, the time was too short, and Grace was succumbed to her wound, but not before telling Jake that Eywa is real and she is with her. Dying, Grace's life was absorbed into Eywa.

Avatar br 2312 20100627 1140732417

Jake asks Eywa to look into Grace's memories and see how humanity killed Earth

Shortly before the assault on the Tree of Souls, Jake begged Eywa for help in the upcoming battle, referring her to Grace's memories to get a better understanding of the RDA's intentions. When the Na'vi forces threatened to be overrun by the RDA, Eywa sent large amounts of Pandoran wildlife to stop the assault. The destruction of the Tree of Souls was successfully prevented and the human army was dispersed, forcing them to leave Pandora.[1]

In the 2150s, it was discovered that the avatar of Grace Augustine, which was still alive after the failed consciousness transfer, had inexplicably become pregnant by an unknown father or possible virginal conception. Her avatar gave birth to Kiri, a child with avatar features who was adopted by Jake Sully and Neytiri. As Kiri grew up, she began exhibiting strange abilities over and connection to the flora and fauna of Pandora, able to manipulate them to her will.

Although she could not prevent the return of the humans more than a decade later, Eywa could still work to protect Pandora from them, unwilling to let the moon suffer the same fate as Earth. Since the Second Pandoran War, Eywa assisted the Resistance as it knows RDA's presence in the Hallelujah Mountains was detected within 10 minutes and resulted in attacks against them, akin to an immune reaction against viruses or parasites. However, she was capable of distinguishing between the humans loyal to her and the Na'vi, and those who were her enemies.[citation needed] To circumvent this immune reaction, the RDA developed Recombinants so that Eywa would perceive them as Na'vi.[3]

Kiri with Aonung and Rotxo underwater

Kiri uses her abilities to kill their pursuers

In 2170, Kiri visited the Spirit Tree in the territory of the Metkayina clan and communed with the spirit of her mother, Grace Augustine. When asked who Kiri's father was, Grace's spirit was unable to respond, crying out in pain before Kiri experienced a seizure and fell into a coma. She was later healed by Ronal. During the Skirmish at the Three Brothers, Kiri's close connection to Eywa allowed her to use a Daisy Anemone to ensnare pursuers, as well as gather squids to light a way out of the SeaDragon.

Avatar: The Game[]

DS version[]

Nok Eywa

Nok communicating with Eywa through one of the various willow trees

In the DS version, it is said that due to being a biological entity, Eywa is not omniscient and she cannot see what lies out of her own ecosystem. As a result, Eywa selected Nok to be the Alaksi Nari or 'ready eye'. It was Nok's duty to collect information about the human threat for Eywa to make her understand that they were a terrible risk to the entire ecosystem. Eywa also had roots in which Nok could connect his queue to communicate with her.

Eywa responded by unlocking vegetal chests and providing Nok with weapons, as well as a banshee and Hammerhead Titanothere named Au Tsum. Because Anthony Ossman intended to research and apparently destroy the willow trees in order to learn more about Pandora, Nok and Molly Ossman began to fight back against Ossman in order to keep the Na'vi's links to Eywa alive and help resist the RDA.

RDA storyline[]

Willow Tomb

Willow trees are important to the Na'vi to communicate with Eywa

In the Avatar video game (PC/PS3/360), this psionic link can be manipulated by humans as well. If the player chooses to side with the RDA, then the main objective throughout the game is to gather three psionic crystals in certain areas and plant them near specific crystal willow trees, which are said to be where emanations of Eywa concentrate. This is done so that the willow trees resonate with the crystals’ combined vibrations, forming a 'song'. The songs collected from each willow tree can then be used to locate the long-lost Well of Souls. This allows RDA scientists to both find the Well of Souls and build an artificial psionic machine that emulates an aggressive version of the smaller willow trees' signals, which is then planted in front of the active Well of Souls. This allows the RDA to tap into Eywa itself, control the psionic consciousness, and take control of the moon's biosphere, causing the Na'vi to lose control over their banshees. However, Grace Augustine reveals that humans won't be able to control Eywa for long, and she will use the experience to ready herself for the upcoming war against the intruders.

Na'vi storyline[]

In Avatar: The Game, the Na'vi can ride and control creatures, like the direhorse, ikran and thanator. However, the player does so without connecting to them physically, because the game does not display animated queues for the Na'vi characters. The in-game Na'vi characters, including the player, do have queues, but all are shown to be firmly fixed to their shoulders rather than the free-hanging braided queues visible in the movie. This may have been a technical decision at the time; the Dunia engine does support the relevant dynamics, but the system was unused.

Trivia[]

  • In an early script of The Way of Water, Charles Stringer mentions the RDA calls Eywa "The Bitch". Norm also calls Eywa's neural network the "Eywa-net".
  • Joshua Izzo clarified that deceased people within Eywa are simply memory backups of their consciousness, and should not necessarily be interpreted as the true consciousness or true spirit of the deceased after death, even pointing out that people would need to remind the deceased that they have died every time they connect:
    • "It is a static backup. So imagine, it's not necessarily like time machine, it's more like an archive, that can't be changed. Here's the thing. You can go into the Eywa net. You can connect to one of the I/O ports all over Pandora, one of the Trees of Souls, the Tree of Voices, the Spirit Tree, whatever. That allows you to go into those particular memories that you yourself backup. So, if I'm going into my own memory that I've backed up, and I want to access that, I can interact with, and have a conversation with my grandfather from 35 years ago. You can have that conversation. And he can say, How are you doing? What's happening out there? I can tell him right now. I'm doing fine. Mom passed away. You know, there was, you know, there's a war. And he might be like, Oh my gosh, what I can't believe it. Are you okay? And then that version, in that memory of that moment, could react. But the minute that I disconnect, that never happened. If I go if I immediately reconnect and go back to that exact same moment, that exact same memory, that conversation, never happened. He will immediately be that first version that you first met. So if you walk into, like you know, Groundhog Day, he'd be like Josh, 10 minutes later, we could be crying together. If I disconnect and connect again, he, "Josh!", nothing changes. It's static. It's a static moment in time, but you are able to interact. And that's why you're able to talk to the ancestors, gain wisdom of.. somehow reread, be a part of that world again. But you can't ever change any of it. It lives forever in those memory moments."
  • Kinglor

    Kinglor are viewed as messengers of Eywa

    Eywa is a somewhat controversial topic some Avatar fans because they find aspects of Eywa disturbing, creepy or mysterious. There have been a rise of cosmic horror theories regarding Eywa, including that Eywa is Pandora itself, that Eywa manipulated Jake into falling in love with Neytiri and fighting for the Na'vi,[6] that Eywa is a fungus,[7]that Eywa was created by a technological race and may be an alien itself,[8] and that Eywa is using plants to intentionally keep the atmosphere toxic to humans and/or foreigners to Pandora.[9]
    • Of note is the fact that Eywa's Three laws imply an awareness of the danger they pose to her own existence, indicating familiarity with technology and civilization to some extent. As of yet, it is unknown how Eywa knows how such technology exists.
    • In Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, it is revealed that the moth-like kinglor are also believed to be messengers of Eywa by the Na'vi. Eywa's apparent ability to communicate with swarms of these creatures may hint that Eywa is some sort of insect-like hive mind or brain within the planet's core.
    • Eywa having a "immune response" which sends the plantlife and animals after perceived threats is somewhat similar to the 2008 horror film The Happening, where it is revealed plants have evolved to perceive humanity as parasitic to nature and are trying to kill humanity off.
  • Eywa is known as Gaia in Project 880 script, likely changed because it makes little sense for the Na'vi to use human terminology for their ancient deity. The script gives a lengthy explanation for what Gaia is, saying, "But more than a network, she has a will. An ego. She guides, she shapes... she protects. Sometimes she sacrifices something she loves for the greater good. And sometimes she is very strict. Gaia does not take sides. Gaia will not necessarily save you... her role is to protect all life, and the balance of life... and to protect that balance, death is necessary. She is, quite literally, Mother Nature."
  • James Cameron has stated that Eywa is visually represented by the color indigo, as well as anything sacred to the Na'vi.[10]
  • Mo'at says Grace must pass through the "eye" of Eywa in order to survive. This metaphor is easier to comprehend in a deleted scene which show that the Tree of Souls resembles an eye from above.
  • Possibly Eywa

    Possibly Eywa in the Dream Hunt.

    In a deleted scene, Jake undergoes the Dream Hunt and sees himself, the Na'vi as well as everything around himself as a network of flowing energy, just like how Neytiri described life on Pandora. He encounters a bright concentration of energy, possibly the seat of Eywa's sentience of selfhood.
  • There is a similar ancient Celtic word deiwa (pronounced dey-wa) meaning "goddess".
  • Several fictional mythologies from other planets or fantasy settings are similar to Eywa, such as the Mother Jungle from the planet Ithor in the Star Wars Expanded Universe or Yavanna from J.R.R Tolkien's "The Silmarillion", who created all life, plant and animal, in the shaping of the world and works to protect the life of the world. In Alan Dean Fosters "Midworld" books, "Emfol" is also a jungle hive intelligence to which the native inhabitants who live in a "Home Tree" can connect mentally. It is also threatened by human mining operations.

Similar Human Concepts[]

Eywa has been compared to a number of mythological figures and deities, such as Gaia (Gaea), Mother Earth, Mother Nature, the Triple Goddess, or God by those trying to explain the relationship between Eywa and the Na'vi. The Gaia hypothesis follows on that the entire biosphere acts like a single organism or at least a complex system (soft Gaia), or that the Earth is consciously manipulating the biosphere in order to make conditions more favorable to life (hard Gaia). Other comparable figures and entities include:

  • Jörð in Norse mythology, the personification of the Earth, similar to the Native Americans' religious views of the planet being one living entity.
  • Her title 'All-Mother' resembles that of the Norse god-king Odin, the All-Father.
  • More poetically, Eywa's embodiment as plant life may be a reference to Yggdrasil, The Tree of Life, a holy embodiment in Norse mythology. Yggdrasil is a tree, said to be the root of all life, sent to keep the natural order of life on Earth. It balances the three worlds: the god's world, man's world and the underworld.
  • The Maori earth goddess, Papatuanuku, who is believed to be the living embodiment of the earth and gave birth to all living creatures, including people. Maori also have strong, spiritual ties to the land, similar to the Na'vi.
  • Eywa’s name is an anagram of the Yoruba goddess Yewa whose name comes from Yeye Awa which means “Our Mother”. This meaning ties into Eywa’s role as a mother goddess.
  • The theological concept of universal selfhood, of a unified "flow of the universe" and natural world is present in Buddhist and Taoist philosophy.

References[]

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