The Elemental Matrix Concept 3.0
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First of all, I'd like to point out that I don't really see this proposal as a theory, but rather as a discovery. Most aspects of it have been hinted at since the very beginning of BIONICLE, but have never been clearly explained. What this proposal aims to do is to unravel the grand scheme, if you will, and redefine that which has been there all along.
I've divided the theory into several basic parts, each raising and answering a question that I believe to be pertinent. So, starting off:
Most fans of BIONICLE never really stop to ask themselves what actually makes an Element and sets it apart from a regular power. Every explanation we've been given so far is dubious, to say the least. Some people just describe the Elements as something "Toa" wield, and are done with the subject, but that explanation leaves something to be desired.
So what really is an Element? IMO, it's an essential part of the Matoran Universe, that makes sure the infrastructure of the Mata Nui "robot" is running efficiently. In a broader sense, the Elements are an inseparable part of all life in the MU, which ensure a wide variety of environments, characters, abilities, and moralities.
Naturally, there must be several categories of Elements, as some are much more powerful and important than the rest. In this part, I'll enlist two categories:
The first and most essential category is that of the Legendary Elements, or as I like to call them, the Abstract Elements: Creation, Life, and Time. They are different from all the other Elements, as they aren't and cannot be wielded directly by any know species, but are fundamental parts of the MU. Creation in its own right is a process and a facet of every other Element. Life is at the base of all existence, and Time ensures progress and evolution. Out of these three, none can be created or absorbed, and they can only be manipulated to a slight extent.
The second category would be that of the Physical Elements: Air, Ice, Fire etc. Those Elements are also important parts of the MU, but unlike the Abstract Elements, they can be wielded directly by a number of species. They can be created, absorbed, and manipulated. So far, the Matoran/Toa/Turaga are known to naturally utilize every Physical Element, with the exception of Shadow, which is a Makuta Element (and also Acid, but more on that below).
Powers, on the other hand, are either artificial or Element-based abilities, that aid numerous species in their missions and goals. In my observation, what sets them apart from the Elements is they are not essential aspects of the MU, and grant their user a much more limited range of abilities, albeit diverse. A Toa of Water, for example, is capable of absorbing, creating, and manipulating her Element, whereas a being with Water-based powers would only be able to create Water and manipulate it at best.
A large number of Powers directly or indirectly originates from one or more Elements, as they all manipulate the environment and its inhabitants in some way. However, an Elemental being such as a Toa, doesn't necessarily have control over every single derivative of their Element. For example, Sand is essentially an aggregation of miniature Stone particles, but it cannot be controlled by a regular Toa of Stone. If it ever became a Power, it would still be a Stone-based one, regardless of the fact that it doesn't fall under the jurisdiction of a Stone-wielding being.
So, we've given a definition for the Elements and Powers in BIONICLE, and also separated the Elements into two basic categories. Moving on:
As every dedicated fan of BIONICLE knows, there are two Physical Elements that stand above all the rest, as they are the physical manifestations of the inner good, and inner bad within every being. You guessed it, I'm talking about Light and Shadow.
Now, in BIONICLE, Shadow is more than the mere absence of Light. It is a type of tangible, physical energy, that is the diametric opposite of Light. Furthermore, any being with active or inactive Elemental abilities has the potential to gain control control over either of the above two Elements, but in order to do so, they must become either completely good, or completely evil. So, virtually any Toa can become a Toa of Light, or a Toa of Shadow, however the former is a naturally occurring Toa Element, and the latter is not, meaning the only way for a Toa of Shadow to exist is if they were either willingly, or forcefully "purged" of their Moral Light.
The only instance we've seen so far of beings being purged of their inner good, is the Av-Matoran in Karda Nui and Takanuva, and that was done with the help of Shadow Leeches. The official explanation is that these creatures have the ability to "drain" your inner Light, or good, and then instill a mental barrier in you that would prevent your inner Light from "regenerating."
Personally, though, I've always disliked the way good and evil were referred to as something you can have more or less of. I believe that good and evil, i.e. inner Light and inner Shadow are abstract absolutes that are present within every being and don't shift in quantity or ratio. Instead, what determines whether a being is good or evil, is which of their two inner aspects they've decided (or have been forced) to embrace and pursue.
As you can see in the above graphic, I've presented the state of moral "balance" as a state of Void (I've also enlisted it as a regular Element, but more on that below). Don't misinterpret it as lack of morals, it has no negative or positive connotations whatsoever. It is meant to represent that difficult-to-attain state of complete peace and stillness, devoid of any ambition or desire. Mind you, being in this state would not mean you have an equal amount of inner Light and Shadow, but rather that you are equally inclined to "hear" and embrace both, while being in between.
Some of you might think this makes no sense, but ask yourselves, can you really be good and evil at the same time? No, just as you can't be happy and sad. You can't be both, but you can be neither, and that is precisely what the state of Void stands for.
The gray area around the center of the scale represents the so called "comfort zone" that most beings are in, as they are constantly leaning either towards their inner Shadow, or towards their inner Light. While they are still in this zone, they have control over their natural Element, but as soon as they cross either boundary, they begin to gradually lose their original Element and gain either Shadow or Light-based powers. At that point, they can walk the entire path and become complete beings of Light/Shadow, or they can go back and become regular "balanced" beings.
All of the above naturally raises the question of what the Shadow Leeches actually do. Well, personally, I like to interpret the expression of "draining your inner Light" as a figure of speech. You see, what a Shadow Leech really does is it makes you embrace your inner Shadow in a single instant, and it completely "deafens" your inner good (which would basically be equivalent to the mental barrier). Thus, if you were "drained" by a Shadow Leech, you'd be overwhelmed by your Moral Shadow, and would become completely incapable of responding to your Moral Light.
Ironically, the only cure for a Shadow Leech's barrier is the sonic scream of a Klakk bird, which would symbolically let you "hear" and respond to your inner good.
So, let's assume that the three basic moralities present in all inhabitants of the MU are Shadow, Void, and Light. They'd represent the inner evil, the inner balance (or state of "neither"), and the inner good, respectively. Altogether, they'd comprise the three Moral Elements, the third Elemental category.
But, as you've probably seen in one of the above graphics, I've also featured Void as a Physical Element.
As I mentioned earlier, Shadow (as an Element, and not a morality) is a tangible sort of energy, or matter. It isn't the absence of Light, as some people might think. But if Light is its own thing, and Shadow is its own thing, then there must naturally be something in between, something that would be the absence of both. And that's precisely where Void comes in. From a physical point of view, it is nothingness, the complete absence of matter. It would be the direct result of absorption.
It might be a hard concept to wrap your head around at first, but when you look into it, it actually makes tons of sense.
Void would be the opposite of all matter, and in that sense, it would the counterpoint of every other Physical Element:
"So, would there be Toa of Void then?"
Well, there don't need to be any, because all Toa already are Toa of Void, in a way. By absorbing their individual Element, they bring abut Void; and conversely, when they materialize their Element, they absorb Void. You might say this sounds far-fetched, but consider what Makuta Teridax said at the end of the MNOG:
Destroy me? You cannot destroy me. No more than you can destroy the sea (i.e. Water, which is an Element), or the wind (i.e. Air, also an Element). Or... the void.
I bore you. For I am Nothing. And out of Nothing, you came. And it is into Nothing that you will go.
You cannot destroy me. For I am Nothing.
So why would Makuta say all of that? Because he saw Shadow as the void? Hardly.
Teridax is by nature a contemplator, and a schemer. He's also a bit of philosophical type, and likes to deify himself whenever he gets the chance. By the time he'd started plotting against the Great Spirit, he'd have surely figured out that Light and Shadow are evenly matched, being both tangible forms of energy. So Makuta must've started searching for something greater than Shadow. What's the one thing that stands between that and Light, yet also above them? That's right, Void.
In the literal sense, Void can be interpreted as a Physical Element, as it is simply the absence of matter, but Makuta must've also viewed it as an Abstract Element, taking it to be the direct opposite of Creation (as Void relates to absorption), Life (as it is inanimate), and Time (as it is perpetual).
So naturally, after such a revelation, Teridax must've convinced himself that he should become Void, and the only way he could've gone about doing that would've been to meditate on the concept. We can't tell for sure how successful he was, but we can say that he believed in this idea.
Anyway, enough about Makuta. One last thing I should say on the matter is that Light and Shadow are both Physical and Moral Elements, so if Void were to be the third Moral Element, it would be sensible for it to also have a Physical counterpart. Thus, out of all the Physical Element, Shadow, Void and Light would make up the three Fundamental Elements. Following them would be the six Primary Elements (a.k.a. Air, Ice, Fire, Water, Earth, and Stone) and the nine Secondary ones.
BIONICLE has always been about three and six. Six heroes, one destiny. Six breeds of villains, six villages and tribes. Three Toa to form one Toa Kaita.
As you've undoubtedly noticed, I've featured the number three several times in the above parts: three Abstract Elements, three Moral Elements, and three Fundamental Physical Elements. What could I be missing? Why, it's the Three Virtues, a key point in the BIONICLE franchise.
As portrayed in the above graphic, each Virtue can be related to an Abstract Element: unity brings about creation, as it's associated with building and constructing; life can be viewed as a duty to the self, or to the others, depending on one's goals; and destiny can only be unfolded within a certain time span. The pattern fits rather nicely, wouldn't you agree?
Moreover, the Matoran of Mata Nui had derived six Principles out of the Three Virtues:
By now, people should be convinced that the number three plays an important part in BIONICLE, which is why I consider it to be the base number of the MU. Six, being the number of Elements originally introduced in 2001, is a multiple of three, and it is also the number of Toa needed to create a Toa Seal. It's an inseparable facet of Unity.
So, if we assume that Void can be a full-fledged Physical Element, it would be one of three Fundamental Elements (Shadow, Void, and Light), followed by six Primary Elements (Air, Ice, Fire, Water, Earth, and Stone), and eight Secondary Elements... so far.
In the above chart, I've presented all of the Physical Elements, including a free slot for an additional Secondary Element. Why do we need one? Because it would be the ninth Secondary Element, and nine is also a multiple of three. Furthermore, the complete number of Elements would be eighteen, which happens to be the product of three and six.
Why all this obsession with numbers? Well, numbers and numerical ciphers are what pertains to the Great Being's way of work, plus you have to admit, this proposed "matrix" is rather unequivocal and follows a strict pattern, in contrast to the already high number of Elements that have pretty much been canonized on a random basis.
So what is to be the eighteenth Element? I'll leave that spot blank.
Acid is probably the most problematic Element in BIONICLE. It's been confirmed that it cannot be wielded by Toa, as it is "immoral." Some sources describe it as a "low-level" or "non-Toa" Element, whilst others depict it as a regular Power.
In my opinion, Acid shouldn't be considered an Element, for one of several reason: first of all, it isn't an essential part of the Matoran Universe; secondly, it cannot be absorbed or manipulated, but only created, unlike every other Physical Element; thirdly, its current status as a "non-Toa" Element only creates confusion, especially since Physical Elements are considered to have no moral connotations.
So should Acid be considered a sub-power? Perhaps, or it could also be seen as a derivative of The Green. Some plants are known to synthesize Acid, so it could easily be considered a Plant Life-based Power. It wouldn't necessarily be controlled by a Toa of The Green, for the same reason Toa of Stone can't control Sand.
Another rather controversial Power would be Vacuum. It's never been considered an Element, as it is essentially a sub-power of Air. But it is the only Bohrok-Kal Power to have not been made into a Toa Element, so that somewhat disrupts the pattern... unless, you recall that Acid was also the only Bohrok Power to not be based on one of the Primary Physical Elements.
All the Bohrok breeds had Powers based on a respective Primary Element, except for the Lehvak, which had control over Acid. Conversely, all the Bohrok-Kal had Powers based on most of the Secondary Elements, except for Lehvak-Kal, who had Vacuum as a Power (a derivative/sub-power of Air the remaining Primary Element).
So, basically, Lehvak-Kal had a Power based on one of the Primary Elements instead of the Lehvak, which in turn had Acid Powers. Earlier in this part I suggested that Acid be a derivative/sub-power of The Green (and that just so happens to be a Secondary Element). Thus the Lehvak would've had Plant Life-based Powers. Why not? They were the green Bohrok, after all.
One thing we haven't observed yet, are the genders and their role in BIONICLE. Now, I can't say if there is a specific purpose for the current ratio, but that's really irrelevant. One thing we do know, is that genders pertain to Elements, and vice versa. So far, we've seen eleven male Elements, three female, and two mixed (Light and Shadow). Shadow encompasses both genders as a natural, as well as an unnatural Element, and so does Light (Toa of Light are naturally male and female, and so are Makuta; however, any being, regardless of their gender can become a being of Light or Shadow as well).
How would Void fit into this chart? Well, it is the third Moral Element, as well as the third Fundamental Element, next to Light and Shadow. As it virtually encompasses all Physical Elements, it can also be said that it pertains to both genders. Thus the three bi-gender Elements would be none other than Shadow, Void, and Light.
And that leaves us with three mixed, three female, and eleven male. Why not make the last Element male? This way, the ratio would be 3:3:12. Twelve is yet another multiple of three, and fits perfectly into the rest of the numerical matrix.
So, let's round up the key points of this proposal:
- The Elements are essential parts of the Matoran Universe. They are divided into three basic categories: Abstract (Legendary), Moral, and Physical Elements.
- The Physical Elements in their own right, are also divided into three groups: Fundamental, Primary, and Secondary Elements.
- Void is the third Moral Element, as well as the third Fundamental Physical Element, alongside Light and Shadow. As a Moral Element, it symbolizes the state between inner good and inner bad, or the state of neither, i.e. "balance." As a Physical Element, Void represents the absence of matter, and the direct result of Elemental absorption. It encompasses all other Physical Elements, in the sense that it is indirectly utilized by every Element-wielding species.
- Three is at the base of all significant numbers in the MU. It stands for the Three Virtues, the three Abstract (Legendary) Elements, the three Moral Elements, and their respective Physical counterparts. It is followed by six (the number of the Primary Physical Elements), nine (the number of the Secondary Physical Elements), and eighteen (the total number of Physical Elements).
- Acid is a Plant Life-based Power, a derivative/sub-power of The Green. It likely cannot be controlled by Toa of The Green, for the same reason Sand can't be controlled by Toa of Stone. Vacuum is a derivative/sub-power of Air.
- The gender ratio for the Elements is 3:3:12, with three mixed (Shadow, Void, and Light), three female, and twelve male. Twelve is yet another multiple of three. The eighteenth Element should be male.
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