In nations across the Westlands, Aes Sedai—particularly those of the Yellow Ajah—are known to be the preeminent healers in the world. Even in places such as the Two Rivers, which hadn’t seen an Aes Sedai visitor in generations until Moiraine’s arrival, stories persist of their awesome abilities and the miraculous recoveries their powers are able to bring about.
But, particularly given the scarcity of Aes Sedai and the mistrust that many feel towards them, the healing profession as practiced outside of Tar Valon is both robust and of central importance to communities throughout the land. In smaller towns and villages, one central figure (frequently aided by an apprentice) often simultaneously fills the roles of doctor, nurse, pharmacist, and midwife; larger towns and cities, meanwhile, will often boast numerous healers who offer their services and sell herbs and ointments in their shops.
Typically, practitioners and dispensers of medicine in the Westlands are women; Melfane Dawlish comments, for instance, that in Caemlyn “no one would buy herbs from a man” or “have a man midwife” (KoD, Ch. 35). There is, however, one nation that stands as a notable (and perhaps unsurprising) exception: Amadicia. Because women who practice healing are often accused of being Aes Sedai in Amadicia, it is more common for men to fill this role there (TFoH, Ch. 10). Elsewhere, however, women who are healers are well-respected for their knowledge and often play a leading role in their communities—as indicated by the very titles given to them, which can differ from nation to nation or region to region: Wisdom (Two Rivers), Wise Woman (Ebou Dar, Tear), Reader (Cairhien), Mother (Altara, Andor, Tear).
In most cities and nations, healing as a profession does not appear to be regulated by a single body or group, with the exception of Ebou Dar; the Wise Women of Ebou Dar, recognizable by the red belts they wear, are all members of the Kin and follow their rules. In smaller towns and villages, Wisdoms and the like are selected by the Women’s Circles; thus, although The Wheel of Time Companion states that it is “very rare for a Wisdom to be removed from office before her death,” there is, however, oversight of a type in other ways.
While most healers throughout the Westlands seem to be general practitioners of medicine, taking care of everything from curing fevers and headaches to delivering babies to stitching up wounds, there does occasionally appear to be at least some specialization or differentiation between roles. Essande, for instance, who is one of Elayne’s maids, makes the distinction that her niece is a midwife, although she also “dispenses herbs and ointments from a shop on Candle Street” (KoD, Ch. 15).
Who’s your favourite healer (Aes Sedai nor not!) in The Wheel of Time?