Avatar: The Way of Water came out after 13 years of waiting, and so far, it seems to have blown away everybody. The story is light and not really deep, but even those who criticize the film agree that the visuals are simply spectacular and breathtaking. The world of Pandora and its people, the Na’vi, is something that you can’t describe – you have to see it.
The locations are very intricately and elaborately depicted, making the movie an incredibly immersive experience. Everything feels important, and it makes you feel that much more connected to the Na’vi Clans. Especially the breathtaking, sacred locations, so without further ado, here’s a list of all known sacred places on Pandora that will take your breath away.
I’ll mention places from both Avatar movies, even those that no longer exist due to their destruction.
The Tree of Voices
The Tree of Voices didn’t appear in Avatar: The Way of Water because it was bulldozed in the first movie. However, it was an incredibly important and sacred place for the Omatikaya Clan (Jake and Neytiri’s Clan).
The Na’Vi name for the Tree of Voices is Utraya Mokri, and it contains all the memories of the Omatikaya Clan throughout their history. You could describe it as somewhat of a biological server where the entire history of the Clan could be accessed. The memories are stored in Eywa, and the Clan members can access them through a ritual or a natural neural network.
Not only did the Tree of Voices house the memories of the Omatikaya Clan members, but also of all other plants and animals living in the rainforests of Pandora. It was also a very important place for our two main characters, Neytiri and Jake, as they chose each other as mates there. Sadly, it was destroyed by the RDA on its way to the Omatikaya Hometree.
The Tree of Souls
The Tree of Souls, or Vitraya Ramunong, might be the most sacred and most important place for the Omatikaya Clan and essentially all other beings on Pandora. It looks quite similar to the Tree of Voices and somewhat resembles a willow on Earth. However, its tendrils are long and bioluminescent, and the roots are much more elaborate, radiating out of the Tree.
The location is considered to be the closest connection that the Na’vi has to Eywa. When they connect to the tree in a ritualistic manner, the Na’vi link to Eywa and seek guidance. They use the connection for other purposes, too, sometimes simply to thank Eywa for maintaining the biological equilibrium of the planet.
Apart from that, the Tree of Souls can be used for healing or to transfer one’s mind and consciousness into another body, much like Jake’s mind was permanently transferred to his Avatar body.
The Na’vi also use the Tree of Souls to directly communicate with the planet through its seeds, known as Woodsprites, or Atokirina. The seeds are actually living organisms that resemble something between a small, bioluminescent, deep-sea jellyfish and a dandelion seed floating through Pandora’s atmosphere.
When a member of the Omatikaya dies, they plant a Woodsprite with their body to allow their consciousness to become one with Eywa. However, the seeds seem to be infertile, as there’s only one Tree of Souls known to exist. That means that if the Tree got destroyed, the Na’vi probably couldn’t simply take a Woodsprite and plant another Tree of Souls.
Cove of the Ancestors
The Cove of the Ancestors didn’t appear in the first movie but had a significant part in Avatar: The Way of Water, as the movie explored the Metkayina Clan much more deeply. The Cove is Metkayina’s sacred site that somewhat resembles the well-known Hallelujah Mountains from the first movie.
They look like floating islands as well, but much smaller and more horizontal than the Mountains. The difference lies in the geology of the Cove of the Ancestors, and the most recognizable feature of the Cove is the circular rock structures that look like inverted arches.
The Metkayina Clan’s life is closely connected to the ocean and water, much like the Omatikaya are connected with the rainforests and jungles. Hence, there are big bodies of water on the cove of Ancestors, and it’s believed that some locations there are similar to Omatikaya’s Tree of Voices – a connection to the memories and ‘voices’ of Metkayina ancestors.
The Spirit Tree
The Metkayina Spirit Tree, known as Ranteng Utralti among the Na’vi, is a similar place for that Clan to what the Tree of Souls is to the Omatikaya Clan. It’s located deep underwater on the Cove of the Ancestors and serves the Metkayina Clan as their main location from which they connect to Eywa.
It looks like somewhat of a bioluminescent reef of long, beautiful algae that closely resemble the tendrils of the Tree of Souls. The Metkayina use it to access the neural network of Eywa and as a ritualistic location. They can also access oxygen through the Spirit Tree, allowing them to remain underwater for prolonged periods.
Now, we went through all of the ‘official’ sacred places on Pandora, but there are other spots on the moon that are just as important to the Na’vi, and can be considered sacred to a degree. One of those spots is – or was – the Omatikaya Hometree, also known as Kelutral.
It was the big tree from the first Avatar movie where the Clan had lived. The Omatikaya believed that Eywa created a blue flute from the Hometree, and they used the flute in rituals and spiritual occasions to communicate with the planet, their ancestors, and Eywa.
After the Hometree was destroyed, it left the Omatikaya Clan devastated, not just because it was their home but because it had such a deep, profound significance for their culture, rituals, and overall clan identity.
The Toruk Totem
Now, it’s not really a sacred location, per se, but the Toruk Totem that was located in the Hometree held great importance to the Omatikaya Clan. The totem was built around the skull of a toruk, which translates to ‘Last Shadow.’ A toruk, or the Great Leonopteryx, was considered to be Eywa’s greatest creation by the Na’vi.
It’s a colossal animal with a wingspan of up to 30 meters (100 feet) that got its name (Last Shadow) from the Na’vi belief that, if a toruk casts its shadow upon you, it will be the last shadow you ever see. Remember how tough the big, flying mountain banshees are – the animals used by the Na’vi to fly on? Well, toruks eat them as their preferred meal choice.
Only a few Na’vi in history managed to mount a toruk and link with it and survive to live the tale. Those riders are known as Toruk Makto, or Riders of the Last Shadow. You needed to have a completely pure soul to accomplish that.
As for the Toruk Totem, the Omatikaya Clan had ceremonial dances, rituals, and songs around it dedicated to the Last Shadow to emphasize their fear and respect towards the creature, as well as to endow a toruk with mythic power. Unfortunately, the totem was destroyed along with the Hometree.
The Hallelujah Mountains
Again, the Hallelujah Mountains are not a sacred place on Pandora, per se, but the nature of the location is simply awe-inspiring and explored deeply in the movies. The mountains look like vertical floating islands in the air above Pandora. They sometimes collide with each other, which is why they are also known as Ayram Alusing or the Thundering Rocks.
They are suspended in mid-air due to the intricate balance and attraction between the moon Pandora and its planet, Polyphemus.
The magnetic fields responsible for the floating Hallelujah Mountains are attributed to the huge deposits of Unobtanium found on Pandora – a superconductive material that was essentially the main reason why the RDA attacked the Omatikaya Clan in hopes of mining the material.
In the second Avatar movie, we also learn that the Hallelujah Mountains are now the place where the Omatikaya, along with Jake and Neytiri, have created the High Camp – their stronghold, and base of operations. The High Camp is located in the Mons Veritatis cave system, located on one of the floating islands.
Other Na’vi Clans and their customs
The Omatikaya and Metkayina Clans aren’t the only Na’vi clans on Pandora. There are actually numerous other clans that were only briefly depicted or mentioned in the movies, and some that only appeared in other Avatar media, such as video games, comics, etc.
Each clan has a different way of life and likely its own sacred places, but none have been explicitly stated or explored so far. Let’s go over some other Na’vi Clans and their customs briefly to see what we can expect in the future installments of the franchise.
The Olangi Clan actually appeared in the first Avatar movie as the direhorse-riding, nomadic Na’vi Clan. They don’t really have sacred locations, as the nature of their way of life is based on moving along with game migrations. The Olangi live on plains instead of the reefs like the Metkayina, or the jungle like the Omatikaya.
The Tipani Clan has a more developed role in James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game and they are known as the first Na’vi Clan to make contact with humans. They are incredible warriors and probably the only Na’vi Clan to actually use armor in combat. However, they separate themselves into numerous villages, so it’s hard to determine a sacred location for the Clan.
Another Na’vi Clan we get to meet through Avatar video games is the Tawkami, and they are a clan that resembles humans the most. Not by appearance but by their fondness for science, research, chemistry, and other scientific branches.
They even developed a writing system for the Na’vi language. Much like the Omatikaya had the Hometree, the Tawkami lived in a jungle village called Greenhome.
We saw the Tayrangi Clan in the first Avatar movie as one of the clans to help fight the RDA. They are known as incredible ikran riders and based their life on aerial prowess. We never saw a concrete sacred place for the Clan, but we do know that they reside on the Eastern Sea’s cliffs on Pandora.
There are more Na’vi Clans introduced throughout various Avatar projects, but all of them have even more minuscule roles, so we won’t dive deeper into them. Some of those Clans are the Tomac’ta, Mangkwan, Kekunan, Hulanta, Huyuticaya, Anurai, etc.
Images source: avatar.com