The birth of Sun and Moon
“An'she. My son. May you bring life, burning and bright.”
- — The Earth Mother's first words to the newborn An'she
The tauren believe that the Earth Mother shaped the world to be a sanctuary where she could give birth to "the light of her heart" away from the corruption of the Old Ones trapped in the depths. After creating the world and the elements, the Earth Mother went into labor and brought forth the first light of day, a radiant son she named An'she, followed by a luminous daughter she named Mu'sha. The elements called them "Sun" and "Moon". Over time, the twins grew close to the elements, with An'she wielding fire's light and warmth and becoming close friends with the mountains, while Mu'sha similarly bonded with the waters and winds. They steadily grew in power until they were able to influence the elements themselves and use their power to forge weapons so they might spar and play: dual blades for An'she and a bow and arrows for Mu'sha. The Earth Mother was overjoyed by this and gently guided her twins through the ages, but she remained ever vigilant against the Old Ones and their shadows.
She eventually grew tired and knew that she needed to rest. In order to keep her children close and safe while she slumbered, she pressed them into her eyes—first An'she, causing a peaceful night to fall on the land and calm her spirit, and then Mu'sha. The Earth Mother rested first with one eye shut and then the other, since her children's light was now too powerful to fully contain. However, this restless watch denied the world An'she's warmth, causing ice and snow to creep across the land. Similarly, without Mu'sha's guidance, the winds whipped up in storms. When the Earth Mother awoke, she despaired at how the elements had changed in her children's absence, but as their light returned, the cold faded and everything back to how it had once been. The elements consoled the Earth Mother and showed her how her time of rest had allowed new life to thrive, and so she named the seasons in her time of work (summer) and her time of rest (winter). From her eyes, she then showed An'she and Mu'sha how to guide the elements through these new seasons and eventually how to bring about the accompanying changes to the land at will. She told the twins that they had proven their strength and that they should watch over the world that she had made for them, but that they still had to stay safe inside her eyes.
Sorrow of the Earth Mother and An'she's wounding
The Earth Mother wished for her twins to share the love and happiness she felt at seeing their growth, and so created the shu'halo (tauren). On their mother's request, Sun and Moon taught the shu'halo everything they knew—how to work with the elements, build homes, acquire food, sing, dance, ferry the rivers, and hunt wild beasts. However, while Sun and Moon were almost strong enough to defend themselves from the Old Ones and their shadows, the tauren were young and vulnerable. The next time the Earth Mother slept, the Old Ones stretched their influence across the land and corrupted many of the tauren with their whispers, causing them to make war on each other and throw the elements into chaos. An'she and Mu'sha watched helplessly, as their mother had only ever spoken of shadows and not the suffering those shadows might cause. They cried out, waking their mother. Upon seeing what had happened, the Earth Mother wept a single tear. Realizing that she was also susceptible to the corruption and thus no longer a safe haven for her children, she wrenched An'she and Mu'sha free from her skull, her fingers digging so deeply that their light could never return to her again. Sun and Moon tried to console their mother, but she lay paralyzed by sorrow. An'she declared that they had to set off to stop the source of the corruption, and his sister agreed.
Word of the Earth Mother's sorrow and the twins' journey to save her was carried on the winds. The siblings soon encounted a party of uncorrupted shu'halo, who presented a radiant blue infant they'd found on the plains. When the child began to wail, the twins recognized them as having been born from the Earth Mother's lone tear. Mu'sha took the babe in her arms and An'she asked what they should call them. Mu'sha replied that their mother would know, but before the twins could return to their mother, the shadows attacked them. With the aid of the elements, the twins managed to hold back the darkness: An'she stood strong as the mountain and fought with fire's ferocity, and the light of his blades caused the shadows to retreat, while Mu'sha did the same with her arrows, wind, and water. As they began to beat back the darkness, however, one of the shadows lashed out for An'she's heart. Mu'sha destroyed it with one of her arrows, but not before it inflicted a great wound on An'she. Mu'sha tried to bind her brother's wound with water and wind, but it continued to bleed no matter what she did. Mu'sha sent a plea on the wind and the Earth Mother sought out her children. She told Mu'sha that her presence was keeping the bleeding An'she alive, but Mu'sha knew that her brother would surely die if her healing light strayed too far from him.
Knowing that the shadows would return to take the rest of the tauren, the Earth Mother decided to sacrifice herself to contain the darkness. The twins protested, but she quieted them and told them to take permanently to the skies, from where their light would be able to chase away any shadows she could not hold. She told them to always stay in each other's sight so Mu'sha could tend An'she's wounds. She then gave the blue child—whom she'd named Lo'sho—to Mu'sha and told the twins to teach the infant everything they knew. Although heartbroken, the twins obeyed their mother's words and took their eternal post in the skies with Lo'sho. The Earth Mother proceeded to embrace the land a final time and give all of herself in order to keep the shadows at bay. Seeing their mother's sacrifice, Mu'sha guided the water and winds so the tauren would always be able to hear and follow their mother's voice while An'she shone his fierce light across the land so the way would be clear. All the while, Lo'sho listened to their lessons, hearing in them the wisdom of their mother. The tauren believe that An'she still bleeds every morning, sacrificing part of his light to let the tauren know that dawn is coming. But he doesn't do this alone; the yeena'e ("those who herald the dawn" in Taur-ahe) help him. The yeena'e are the spirits of the deceased tauren - those who died saving lives, or making new ones. An'she is honored alongside the Earth Mother, and sometimes, the tauren build pyres to honor their fallen loved ones at dawn, as Sunwalker Dezco did with Cloudhoof, so that An'she could watch their passing.
Powers and worship
Tauren priests (known as Seers), and paladins (known as Sunwalkers) aim to revere the light of hope that the Earth Mother shines upon the world, through the use of An'she's power. Tahu Sagewind implies that such a focus on An'she, as opposed to the power of Mu'sha used by druids and night elves, could achieve the balance of the Earth Mother, granting the tauren another blessing from her.
In Cataclysm, the power of An'she can appear either as red flames emerging from a while-hot source or as golden magic similar to other divine magic. Tauren seem to use the terms "Sun", "Light" or both as synonyms for An'she.
An'she was apparently responsible for sending the tauren visions of the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. Sunwalker Dezco has specifically used An'she to weave protective shields of light around others, channel holy energies through his mace to crumble enemies such as the mogu to dust, and heal others' wounds with "bright yellow light", although its power has limits, as An'she could not save his son Redhorn from nearly dying. Dezco also mentioned that the sha's presence and influence in Pandaria was weakening his Sunwalker powers, and was unable to use An'she's power to save his wife Leza Farwalker from dying when she was giving birth to his two sons.
- Tahu Sagewind: "... There is balance in all things, even death."
- Aponi Brightmane: "It's always darkest before the dawn. The dawn will come... The sun will rise. The balance will shift back to where it should be."
- Tauren paladin trainers: "The light of the Sun illuminates the path to wisdom."
- Tauren paladin trainers: "The light of the Sun illuminates the path to wisdom. Where shall we walk today, friend?"
- Tauren paladin trainers: "May the Sun's light protect you, (class)."
- Tauren priest trainers: "The Light watch over you."
- Tauren priest trainers: "The Light protect you, (class)."
- Tauren priest trainers: "What shall the Light teach you?"
- Highmountain tauren: "An'she guide you." or "May An'she guide you."
Notes and trivia
- It is said that long ago, An'she himself kissed the mountain where Sun Rock Retreat now stands.
- Two subzones in Highmountain are named after the sun god: the Pass of An'she and Fields of An'she.
- The balance druid ability has "Blessing of An'she" as one of its buffs.
- In the story, Eyes of the Earth Mother, An'she is associated with fire and dual-wields blades; this is likely based on Shango.
- An'she, a solar deity of the tauren, may be based on the deity of the dawn Anpo or Anpao within Lakota mythology.
- The way Musha and An'she were born from the two eyes of the Earthmother due to her grief resembles how Izanagi produced Amaterasu from washing his left eye and Tsukuyomi from washing his right eye after washing himself having seen his sister-wife's dead body.
The Seers and Sunwalkers
Important to any understanding of tauren priests and paladins is the terminology tauren use to refer to their newfound powers, as well as what they call its practitioners. Due to the game mechanics of World of Warcraft, all quest texts and /says can be presumed to be said in Common unless otherwise stated, even if they are from a tauren NPC to another tauren (it is either difficult or impossible for NPCs to make the distinction between different races within the same quest). As such, the term 'priest' when said by tauren NPCS may, in fact, be a Common translation of a Taur-ahe word, literal or not (for example, it may be a translation of the Taur-ahe word for "Seer" to a term a blood elf would understand the full meaning of, and not just the symbolism of a "see-er": the Common word 'Priest'). 'Sunwalker', 'Paladin', 'Sun' and 'Light' may also be of this nature within the game.
Tauren Seers have been in the lore since before World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, and even Wrath of the Lich King, when Tahu Sagewind and Aponi Brightmane explain why tauren priests and paladins will become playable. These Tauren Seers were noted to be healers, but the source of their power was not elaborated on. With Cataclysm, tauren priests are known in-game as Seers – this seems to indicate that tauren priests, like the new gnome priests, are not new to the lore but were instead merely unplayable race/class combinations before now. Tahu Sagewind's words may suggest that a focus on An'she as well as Mu'sha, and therefore the idea of wielding the sun's power, isn't a concept new to the tauren. This path to revering the Earth Mother could have been already known to the tauren (most likely to traditional healers, the Seers), and has simply been rediscovered. Paladins too may have existed in some form or another before Cataclysm, perhaps with much less refined and effective knowledge of An'she.
Alternatively, these Seers may have been traditional tauren healers without magical abilities. If so, they have only now become what other races would call 'priests' with the adoption of magical healing skills. This is supported by Seer Ravenfeather in the new tauren starting experience.
Relation to the Holy Light and other divine magics
“You will find that the Light and the Earthmother have more in common than you think.”
- — 
So far, tauren priests and paladins have not been observed conclusively noting the similarities between the power of An'she and other forms of divine magic (such as the Holy Light), or even the similarities between tauren priests and paladins and those of other races.
An'she and the sun may be the tauren interpretation of the Holy Light, or another form of divine magic coming from a separate, if possibly related source. Tauren priests and paladins may have taken inspiration from their contemporaries among the newer races to Kalimdor and the Horde - some may even consider their magics to be one and the same. Priest NPCs other than Tahu Sagewind refer to a "Light", which could be a reference to the faith of the humans and elves of the Eastern Kingdoms. In contrast, Tauren paladins do not refer to "Light" without mentioning the sun. However, as Sagewind developed his ideas on An'she alongside Aponi Brightmane, apparent head of the Sunwalkers, it is unlikely that tauren priests actually have a radically different take on their powers from these paladins. "Light", like "Sun", is more likely to be a synonym for An'she or even a translation to Common.
Given the relatively unknown nature of the Holy Light, the powers of tauren priests and paladins could very well ultimately come from the Light. The Light does not discriminate based on race and does not truly bend to the will of others (no matter what groups may think otherwise), and since most of the tauren people already embody the virtues often held in great regard by many paladins, it is not difficult to envision that the tauren could easily obtain the powers of the Light. They may even be gifted it by the Light itself without them knowing it is the same power as that wielded by other races.
World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2 implies that Rukhmar's power, believed to be derived from Draenor's sun by the arakkoa, is actually derived from the Light itself; it is also conceivable that the stars themselves are natural conduits of the Light, which existed as a cosmic power which helped shape Creation. By this logic, An'she's powers are indeed potentially also ultimately derived from the Light, as Anduin, who had previously remarked that "light is light, whatever its source", when he gifted Fearbreaker to Baine Bloodhoof (after he mentioned that he felt a kinship through the Light-blessed weapon to An'she and Mu'sha), believes. Most in-game solar spells, such as and , and the Blessing of An'she obtained by the , appear to inflict nature damage against opponents in contrast with their lunar-based arcane spells, indicating that An'she is a patron to balance druids as well as the Sunwalkers, and that some Solar-based energies are also linked to Life.
Part of a larger cosmology
- In tauren mythology, An'she is the brother of Mu'sha, the tauren's name for the White Lady Elune. Therefore, An'she could in fact be an actual sibling being to Elune, whatever she herself might be - essentially, the masculine solar being counterpart to a female lunar being.
- Zandalari troll paladins originally rely on Rezan's powers, which they attribute to "de glory of de sun" in . Likewise, the central platform of Atal'Dazar, tomb of the first king of the trolls Dazar, has an elaborate solar symbol, Rezan was called the Loa of Kings.
- The Apexis arakkoa associated Rukhmar to their sun, and worshiped the sun otherwise.
- Dath'Remar Sunstrider received a vision of unclear origin that led to him forging , and blood elf culture uses the sun in various quotes, such as "The eternal sun guides us" (similar to the Tauren quote "May the eternal sun shine upon thee"), as well as choosing the name for the Sunwell, which today is both water from the Well of Eternity and M'uru's heart, serving as a fount of arcane and Light.
- While phoenixes have been stated to come from the Firelands, none have appeared thus far in-game in the Elemental Plane, although fire mages and the firehawks of Draenor are able to summon them (offspring of a Wild God), and A'lar is described as a "Phoenix God". As some Solar abilities inflict Fire damage, and as Elune's powers seem to be partly associated with water, it is possible that there is an elemental connection, most likely with the Firelands.
- The "Blessing of An'she" buff in the balance druid ability indicates a possible connection between nature-based beings such as the moonkin and night elf druidism.
- Some of the tol'vir, forged by the titans long ago, are "Sun Prophets", such as Sun Prophet Epaphos, Sun Prophet Tenhamen, and Sun Prophet Tumet. There are also NPCs such as Sun King Nahkotep. Most of the Amathet heavily use Fire-based solar energy, and High Priest Amet's goodbye quote is, "Have faith in the sun". In addition, the Sun Priests are an ancient order located in Uldum, who walked among all their tribes.
- ^ Highmountain tauren farewell emote
- ^ a b c d e "Eyes of the Earth Mother"
- ^ Before the Storm, chapter 8
- ^ Mists of Dawn
- ^ a b Bleeding Sun
- ^ Aponi Brightmane#Quotes
- ^ The Sunwalker Kodo's eyes and war-drums noticeably emit red and orange flame, while in contrast the saddle emits faint waves of golden light.
- ^ Sunwalker Dezco gossip text - "I feel the call of the Light, far to the north of here. But this place...It has not known the light for many, many generations. The sadness in the earth is quelling the gifts granted me by the light. My wife, she is suffering, and none of my abilities are able to help her."
- ^ Before the Storm, chapter 13: "[Anduin's] mind went back to the Netherlight Temple. The Light finds us, he thought. All of us. It chooses the story, or the face, or the name, or the song that resonates the most with each of us. We may call it Elune, or An'she, or just the Light, but it doesn't matter. We can turn away from it if we desire, but it's always there."
- ^ Bennie, Scott; Richard Farrese, Bob Fitch. Horde Player's Guide, 149. ISBN 9781588467720.
- ^ An Injured Colleague#Dialogue - Aponi Brightmane: "So are you going to bring this up to the elder?"... Tahu Sagewind: "Well, it isn't exactly a new thought, sister."
- ^ . "The way of the priest is a new one for our people, but it draws on the ancient traditions of our seers. In your lessons, you will learn the wisdom of the Earthmother as illuminated by the Light."
- ^ Sun Prophet Epaphos
- ^ Solar Magnifier
- ^ High Botanist Tel'arn