So far, I’ve spent a lot of time in 2015 rewatching Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. I’ve been watching the episodes by themselves, then going back to watch them with the commentaries…because I’m a nerd and I love learning everything I can about the Avatar universe. Also, I have Book Two and Three on blu-ray, and let me tell you now: buy Korra on blu-ray. It’s a few extra dollars, but it is well worth it. You will never be able to fully appreciate how visually stunning this series is until you watch it on blu-ray.
The commentaries aren’t the best, but they make me laugh and you do tend to learn little pieces about the show and how it was developed. I also learned that sky bison are a hybrid between a bison and a manatee. Who knew?
But today, I’m here to talk about a small detail from Book Two.
So Book Two: probably my least favorite season from both Avatar series, but it’s also special because you get to learn about the first Avatar, Wan.
We learn how Wan is able to keep his fire from the lion turtle when he is banished into the spirit wilds, which is where he learns how to live and cooperate with the spirits.
And then, of course, he is tricked by Vaatu and separates him from Raava, bringing chaos across the world. After seeing the devastation he has caused, he sets out with Raava to master all four elements. To do this, he must travel to each lion turtle civilization.
But since Wan already possesses the element of fire, Raava must hold the other three elements for him. By passing through his body, she is able to transport the different elements to him for a short period of time.
But then, during harmonic convergence, Wan and Raava are able to bind together, meaning he has access to the Avatar state and all four elements at once, since Raava is inside of him.
At the end of Wan’s story, we have a beautiful scene of him talking to Raava right before he dies. He apologizes and says that there wasn’t enough time to destroy Vaatu. And Raava replies:
Wan then dies, something leaves his body (his spirit? Raava? both? I’m not sure), and a baby cries, signalling that the Avatar cycle has continued.
All that is very well. Now, here is my question:
If Raava only held the elements of Air, Water, and Earth, how are subsequent Avatars able to firebend?
This might not be a problem with Avatars from the fire nation who are naturally able to firebend, but for the others, I don’t know how they would possess the ability. Raava never received fire from the lion turtle–Wan did.
This is assuming that the reincarnation of the Avatar focuses on Raava being present inside of them and it is Raava that gives them the ability to bend all the elements. It is possible that Wan’s ability to firebend somehow combined with the elements Raava held when they were united. It’s also possible that Wan’s spirit is reincarnated into the next Avatar, carrying the ability to firebend with him. We kind of see this theory when Avatar Aang’s spirit gives Korra the ability to energybend in Book One.
Does someone become an Avatar at birth or at conception?
The baby crying after Wan dies makes me think birth, but how does Raava become part of them? I admit, I know very little about reincarnation, so maybe this is just really basic stuff. Does the fetus just form with Raava inside of it? Or does Raava leave the previous Avatar’s body to search for a new one?
I previously thought it was the latter, but then I realized that this could not be true, because the only way Raava was able to bond with an Avatar’s body after separation was during harmonic convergence.
So what do you guys think? Is there an explanation within the beliefs of reincarnation that I’m missing, or am I just over-thinking the whole process?
Let me know!
P.S. I found this GIF on Pinterest of Korra’s journey and I think it’s beautiful: