I am Mother Aughra! I am Thra!
Aughra or Mother Aughra was the embodiment of Thra, acting as the world's eyes and voice. Created by the Crystal of Truth shortly after Thra's formation in the Age of Innocence to bring peace between plants and animals, Aughra guided the Gelfling in their early development, but later shifted her attention to the stars after being seduced by the otherworldly knowledge of the urSkeks during the Age of Harmony. During the Age of Division, she abandoned Thra in order to explore the Uni-Verse, returning later to guide the Gelfling resistance against the Skeksis.
Biography[edit | edit source]
Birth and early history[edit | edit source]
Aughra was given life by the Crystal during the Age of Innocence, in order to give a voice to the stones and eyes to the forests. According to The Covenants of Thra by Fellen the Elder, Aughra's creation was prompted by a war of supremacy between flora and fauna. It was her intervention which established the balance of the world, and she would renew the covenant between the two belligerents every nine trine, merging with Thra and becoming one with both.
She named all the creatures of Thra and developed a maternal fondness for the young Gelfling race, which she guided in their early development, teaching them through Dreamfasting the nature of the Crystal, how to plant, when to harvest and what creatures or trees to avoid. Her attention shifted skywards when an otherworldly object fell on Thra and gifted her with a son, Raunip. Prompted by this event, and with the Gelfling now thriving, Aughra became obsessed with learning the secrets of the Uni-Verse, creating the first Tree of Life, which permitted her to chart the movements of the stars and the Three Suns. Through her research, Aughra predicted the coming of the first Great Conjunction, and single-mindedly prepared for it while neglecting her son and the Gelfling.
Meeting the urSkeks[edit | edit source]
When the long-awaited Great Conjunction was imminent, Aughra and Raunip positioned themselves near the Crystal, whose blinding light burned one of Aughra's eyes. The urSkeks emerged from the Crystal and healed her, proclaiming themselves ambassadors and light bringers. They enchanted Aughra with their gifts of knowledge, and built an orrery for her. She developed a particularly close friendship with the urSkek TekTih, who contributed most to her research. Aughra became devoted to the urSkeks and withdrew from the world even further, much to the anger of her son, who viewed the offworlders with suspicion. Tensions between mother and son rose when Aughra intervened to stop Raunip from inciting the Gelfling into driving the urSkeks from Thra by force.
At the Great Division[edit | edit source]
A hole grows inside of me. I felt the Crystal crack in my very heart. Where once was great knowledge. Like smoke. It slips away.
990 trine after the arrival of the urSkeks, Aughra began to prepare for the second Great Conjunction by constructing a network of mirrors around the Crystal, hoping that their refracted light would allow the urSkeks to purge themselves of their darker impulses and allow them to return to their homeworld.
Ten trine later, with the Conjunction imminent, Aughra was present at the Great Division, witnessing the Skeksis drive the urRu from the castle. She pleaded with the Skeksis to rejoin with their other halves, but was rebuffed, and watched helplessly as they cracked the Crystal. Before the Skeksis could attack her, Aughra climbed down the shaft of the Crystal with her son, feeling her knowledge and memories slip away from her. The pair then spent several months searching for the cracked Crystal's lost shard, the only object capable of restoring the urSkeks.
When mother and son emerged with a basket of crystal fragments, Aughra stayed at her orrery, oblivious to the outside world as she searched for the true shard, ignoring the destruction caused by the Makrak raids and the implications behind the formation of the Alliance of the Crystal. Her faculties began slipping, at one point forgetting who Raunip was, thus causing him to leave her. Though tearful, she remained silent when Raunip bid her goodbye when he volunteered to lead the Makraks to the Field of Fire.
Some trine later, Aughra grew to trust the Skeksis and rekindled her friendship with skekTek, the Skeksis counterpart of her old friend TekTih. SkekTek continued assisting Aughra with her research and repaired Aughra's orrery after it was damaged by Raunip. Believing that skekSo had matured into a benevolent ruler, Aughra agreed to leave the Crystal in the Skeksis' care in order to continue her research into the stars via astral projection, unaware that skekSo intended to conquer Thra to build an Empire, using the Crystal's power to prolong the lives of himself and the other Skeksis.
Awakening[edit | edit source]
Awoken from her astral projection by the spread of the Darkening, Aughra felt Thra call out in pain. The Podling who looked after her body turned out to be the grandson of the one she knew, and told her that hundreds of trine had already past. Aughra sought answers from the Skeksis, demanding to see the Crystal for herself, but was banished from the Castle by skekSo. On her way out, she saw the Crystal and realized the full extent of its abuse by the Skeksis. The Crystal spoke to her via a projection of her past self, showing Aughra how the Skeksis were unbalancing Thra by consuming Gelfling essence. The apparition tasked Aughra with guiding fate by finding the "song of Thra", something she had lost while stargazing.
Aughra encountered urVa the Archer near the Sanctuary Tree and asked him for help to hear the song again, to which he cryptically indicated that the answer lay within Thra itself. Using several Mystic methods of divination, including the creation of a Master Time Spiral, Aughra failed to hear the song of Thra, and became further demoralised when a Pluff'm afflicted with the Darkening died in her hands. She beseeched the Sanctuary Tree not to forgive her, for she didn't deserve forgiveness, or to help her, but to help the creature, and all those who suffered for her mistakes. The Tree obliged, purging the creature of Darkening and reviving it. Learning from how the Tree listened, Aughra decided to wait and listen rather than trying to prompt Thra to "talk".
Aughra gradually began to hear Thra sing, and joined in with the song with increasing speed until she and numerous Gelfling all found themselves in the Dream Space. Aughra welcomed Rian, Deet, and numerous others, overruling their questions in order to introduce everyone. Aughra explained that their bodies were still on Thra, but that the Dream Space was "the source of magic and prophecy", and that The Crystal of Truth had brought them there to ask for their help to defeat the Skeksis. At that moment, Seladon burst out that it was treason, and began arguing with All-Maudra Mayrin until Aughra demanded to know if she would heed "Thra's call", to which Seladon said she would not give in to chaos. In response, Aughra ejected Seladon from the Dream Space. Aughra then gathered the remaining Gelfling around the Crystal, and it revealed to them the Skeksis' crimes. After the revelation, Aughra ordered Rian to Ha'rar, and from there to continue with Deet, Brea, and Lore to the Circle of the Suns. Aughra also tasked Naia, Kylan, and Gurjin with spreading news of the Skeksis' crimes to other Gelfling Clans. After All-Maudra Mayrin pledged Vapra to the cause, Aughra closed the Dream Space and returned everyone to their bodies.
Aughra then sought out urVa and instructed him to venture to the Circle of the Suns to confront skekMal, saying he could not win without sacrifice. When urVa asked if they would meet again, Aughra claimed not to know, before heading to Stone-in-the-Wood to prevent a "terrible mistake". There, she attempted to dissuade Maudra Fara from continuing her rebellion, stating that she should focus on survival rather than waging war against the Skeksis, but was ignored. Aughra later witnessed the fall of Stone-in-the-Wood to the Skeksis-Arathim alliance. The next day, she befriended a Threader, which she recruited as a spy. Giving the Threader her eye, Aughra planted it within Seladon's robes and watched as the new All-Maudra was imprisoned by the Skeksis.
Sacrifice and Resurrection[edit | edit source]
Hoping to save Seladon and the other Gelfling prisoners, Aughra went to the Castle, and offered her own essence to save the mortally wounded skekMal in exchange for the Gelflings' release. When fitted into the essence extractor, she futilely pleaded with skekTek to remember their former friendship. When the extractor was activated, Aughra resisted the process, taking the opportunity to prophesy before skekSo that he would eventually turn to dust. After a lengthy struggle, Aughra was disintegrated and her essence absorbed by skekMal, who seemingly died in the process.
The Hunter would eventually regain consciousness and join his comrades in the Second Battle of Stone-in-the-Wood, but died when urVa the Archer took his own life. Aughra arose from skekMal's ashes and witnessed the defeat of the Skeksis when Deet used the power of the Sanctuary Tree to deflect the Emperor's Darkening rays. In the jubilation that followed, the Shard of the Division was found, and Aughra congratulated the Gelfling on their victory, whilst cautioning them on the fragility of hope.
Imprisonment[edit | edit source]
During the Garthim War, Aughra hid in her observatory with the Shard to escape the horror of the war. She remained convinced that the Gelflings had been exterminated, until Jen arrived to obtain the Shard. Aughra presented Jen with multiple fragments of Crystal, unable to tell him which was the true Shard, until it responded to the tune of his firca. Before she could tell him what to do with it, the observatory was attacked by the Garthim, who captured Aughra and took her to the Castle. There, Aughra insulted the Skeksis to their faces and reminded them of the prophecy foretelling their doom. She was subsequently imprisoned in the Chamber of Life, where she was separated from her eye. Some days later, she witnessed the Scientist's attempts to drain Kira of her essence, and called to her to use her gift of Animal Soul Speaking to free skekTek's caged creatures. In the ensuing commotion, Aughra freed herself and proceed to pilfer skekTek's laboratory, and direct Jen to Kira's location. Later sensing the climax of the prophecy she moved to to Crystal chamber, not before rescuing Fizzgig. There she witnessed the urSkeks restored to their true forms, before returning to their homeworld.
Residence in the Castle[edit | edit source]
Crystal shines upon all. Hm. Good, bad, simple, kind, cruel. Offering or no offering.
With her observatory destroyed, Aughra took residence in the Castle of the Crystal, where she built a new orrery and lived as a hermit for a hundred trine. She broke her self-imposed solitude after witnessing the arrival of Thurma. Upon descending to the Crystal chamber, she expressed disgust at how the newly regenerated Gelfling race had turned the Crystal into an object of veneration, believing its healing power conditional on offerings. Upon being told of Thurma's intention to take a sliver of the Crystal to heal Mithra's inner sun, Aughra consulted the stars for prophecy. As Thurma shattered the Crystal, Aughra received a vision foretelling the rise of one world at the expense of another. After the Skeksis and urRu were reborn and Thurma escaped with the sliver, Aughra fruitlessly tried to convince the urRu to help in its retrieval. urSol, however, secretly gave her an enchanted tuning fork, which, when played, summoned Bohrtog. When the Skeksis escaped from their cells, Aughra took refuge in the Castle's upper towers with Kira and remaining Gelfling guards. During the siege, Aughra sought answers from the stars and discovered an approaching premature Great Conjunction summoned by the urRu. When Thurma healed the Crystal, it shattered and reformed, while the urRu and Skeksis rejoined as urSkeks once more. Aughra then realised that her prophecy had been misinterpreted, and that it simply meant the death of old ways, as represented by the materialism of Gelfling culture. Jen and Kira, restored to their youth, bid the oracle goodbye as they departed with the urSkeks, though Aughra believed they would see each other again.
After the departure of Jen and Kira, the citizens of the Gelfing Nation found themselves leaderless. Desperate for purpose, many turned to Aughra for answers only for her to ordain Kensho as their leader.
Personality and traits[edit | edit source]
She's loud and she smells and she talks like a mad person.
In her youth, during the Age of Innocence, Aughra was intimately involved in nurturing the creatures of Thra, in particular the Gelflings, to whom she felt a maternal bond. After the birth of Raunip and the arrival of the urSkeks, she became obsessed with expanding her knowledge of the cosmos, losing interest in Thra's internal affairs. Her thirst for wisdom was such that she was ready to forgo her duties to the Crystal and entrust them to the urSkeks in exchange for their knowledge. Because of the extent of her intelligence, she associated little with Thra's younger inhabitants and was typically impatient with them, finding their inability to understand her pronouncements or motives extremely frustrating.
Despite her aloofness, she was at heart a compassionate being, forgiving the misdeeds of others as mere acts of foolishness or ignorance. She had, however, nothing but scorn for those who abused the power of the Crystal, such as the Skeksis and the Crystalline Eminence, taking delight in tormenting the former by reminding them of their mortality and dismissing the latter as unworthy of even speaking to her.
She was easily discouraged by her own failures, being reduced to tears after failing to save Thra's creatures from the Darkening and becoming cynical and embittered after the Garthim War, being initially uncaring over the repercussions of the upcoming Great Conjunction and treating Jen with patronizing contempt. She was nevertheless quick to rekindle her hope when witnessing acts of courage or goodness from others.
She had a distaste for ceremony and empty words, considering important festivities to be wastes of time and promises that could not be kept to be "worse than lies". She was particularly disturbed by those who treated the veneration of the Crystal as a purely ritualistic act, and believed that all creatures of Thra could have access to its healing powers freely rather than through offerings.
She was a polyglot who, other than her native Aughrian, was fully fluent in Modern Gelfling. She could understand Podling, but never attempted to speak it. She could also communicate to Fizzgigs by imitating their vocalizations, and had a working knowledge of Skeksis expletives and insults.
Background information[edit | edit source]
Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]
A precursor to Aughra appeared in Jim Henson's second draft screenplay, The Crystal, in 1978, where she is portrayed as a curious and distracted creature called Habeetabat. At that point, the character was portrayed as a male, and sported animalistic traits like pincers and whiskers. Identified as a prophet, Habeetabat would have been the guardian of a magic key, which later turned into the shard.
The character subsequently went through numerous modifications. Froud insisted on changing the name, as he found "Habeetabat" too similar to "Habitat", a retailer he hated. With the arrival of screenwriter David Odell, the character became less a prophet and more a mother goddess. According to sculptor Lyle Conway, the decision to make Aughra more woman-like was made in order to appeal to a female audience. Froud followed the trend established by Odell and incorporated a third eye on the character which, in Hindu tradition, represents the ability to see into the future.
Sculpted by Lyle Conway with latex foam, the puppet had superior facial mobility compared to the Gelfling characters, thanks to its wrinkles. Its head was attached to the body with a pivot, which allowed natural movement. The character was portrayed via a two-handed puppet, with Frank Oz using his right hand to move the head and the left hand to move the character's corresponding arm. An assistant puppeteer dealt with the character's right hand, while a team of cable operators controlled the eyes and facial movements. To render Aughra's movements more fluid, some poufs were hidden beneath her robes in order to add weight to the character. In full body shots, the character was played by actors with dwarfism.
In choosing a voice actor for Aughra, Henson was inspired by Zero Mostel's performance as Kehaar in Watership Down. She was first voiced by Frank Oz, but Henson wanted a female voice, so he chose Billie Whitelaw. Odell later wrote that her line "Could be anywhere then" (after being told of urSu's death) was influenced by Jane Roberts' Seth Speaks.
Appearances[edit | edit source]
- The Dark Crystal
- The Dark Crystal (novelization)
- Legends of the Dark Crystal: Volume 2
- The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths
- The Power of the Dark Crystal
- Beneath the Dark Crystal
- Young adult novels
- The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
- The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics
- Songs of the Seven Gelfling Clans (mentioned only)
- The Dark Crystal Bestiary: The Definitive Guide to the Creatures of Thra
References[edit | edit source]
- Age of Resistance – "What Was Sundered and Undone". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Froud, B., Holguin , B., Sheikman, A. & John, L. (2011). The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths, Vol. I. Archaia. ISBN 978-1-936393-80-0
- Froud, B., Dysart, J., Sheikman, A. & John, L. (2012). The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths, Vol. II. Archaia. ISBN 978-1-936393-80-0
- Froud, B. & Llewellyn, J. J., (2003) The World of the Dark Crystal. Pavilion Books. ISBN 1-86205-624-2
- B. Froud, M. Dow Smith, A. Sheikman & L. John (2015). The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths, Vol. III. Archaia. ISBN 978-1-60886-435-5.
- Age of Resistance – "Nothing Is Simple Anymore". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Age of Resistance – "The First Thing I Remember Is Fire". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Age of Resistance – "She Knows All the Secrets". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Age of Resistance – "By Gelfling Hand...". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Age of Resistance – "Time to Make...My Move". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Age of Resistance – "Prophets Don't Know Everything". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Age of Resistance – "The Crystal Calls". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Age of Resistance – "A Single Piece Was Lost". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Henson, J. & Oz, F. (dir.); Henson, J., Kurtz, G. & Lazer, D. (prod.); Henson, J. & Odell, D. (writ.) (December 17, 1982). The Dark Crystal (Motion picture). New York City, NY: Jim Henson Productions.
- Spurrier, S., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #2, Archaia, USA, April 2017 Cite error: Invalid
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- Spurrier, S., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #1, Archaia, USA, February 2017
- Spurrier, S., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #4, Archaia, USA, June 2017
- Spurrier, S. & Kennedy Johnson, P., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #5, Archaia, USA, July 2017
- Spurrier, S. & Kennedy Johnson, P., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #8, Archaia, USA, October 2017
- Spurrier, S. & Kennedy Johnson, P., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #11, Archaia, USA, February 2018
- Spurrier, S. & Kennedy Johnson, P., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #12, Archaia, USA, March 2018
- Smith, A. C. H., & Odell, D. (1982). The Dark Crystal. Holt, Rinehart and Winston . ISBN 0030624363
- C. Gaines, The Dark Crystal: The Ultimate Visual History, Titan Books, 2017, pp. 31-33, ISBN 1-78565-592-2.
- M. Stein, "Inside The Dark Crystal". Fantastic Films. Maggio 1983:18-23; 30; 58.
- David Odell (2012), "Reflections on Making The Dark Crystal and Working with Jim Henson". In: Froud, B., Dysart, J., Sheikman, A. & John, L. The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths, Vol. II. Archaia. ISBN 978-1-936393-80-0
- C. Gaines, The Dark Crystal: The Ultimate Visual History, Titan Books, 2017, pp. 110-113, ISBN 1-78565-592-2.
- K. Von Gunden, Flights of Fancy: The Great Fantasy Films, MacFarland, 1989, p. 41, ISBN 0-7864-1214-3.