“When the mind is enlightened, the spirit is freed, and the body matters not.” Oma Desala
Daniel Jackson ascends to a higher plane of existence
Ascension is a process that allows beings to be able to separate from their physical bodies and to live eternally as pure energy in a superior plane with agreater amount of knowledge and power. It can be a mental, spiritual or evolutionary processa direct result of obtaining a certain level of wisdom and knowledge as a civilization.
The Ancients were the first race to ascend and some of them, such as Oma Desala, attempted to teach the “lowers” to ascend without the use of technology. Dr. Daniel Jackson speculated that this is what the Earth religion of Buddhism is based on, and that Oma is Mother Nature along with the other Ancients as spirits.
According to research by Dr. Rodney McKay, once the brain achieves 90% synaptic activity, they must achieve an EEG of 0.1 to 0.9 hertz, during which they will learn how to convert their body into energy. If they do not achieve ascension before 96% synaptic activity is achieved, the lower functions of the brain will shut down. Ascension can happen in two ways: spiritually or evolutionary. Both cases, the physical body of a mortal being will become energy (leaving a heap of empty clothes), and a glowing light being will raise up through the ceiling. From then on the ascended being tends to take the form of the glowing light being. (SG1: “Meridian”) (ATL: “Tao of Rodney”)
Oma Desala in ascended form
A being previously or currently Ascended can help a mortal Ascend. The Ancient Oma Desala, found in Earth myths of Mother Nature, helped to Ascend many beings of this form, most significantly Dr. Daniel Jackson, and the entire population of Abydos. In this case, a being does not need to be morally good in the first place, although most Ascended beings would never promote a morally bad person. This happened to Anubis when Oma Ascended him and later realized what a horrible mistake it was. (SG1: “Maternal Instinct”, “Meridian”, “Full Circle”, “Threads”)
An Ori in ascended form
Ascension can also be a physical process, because, essentially, Ascended beings are still “strictly physical”. A human who has the ability to use approximately 90% of their cerebral capacity can learn to Ascend without much problem, gaining more and more power as a mortal (including telekinesis) until the person reaches this point (see Near ascension.) This is related to the myth of which the people only use 10% of their brains, with no real justification. Again, this form of Ascension does not require the being to be good of heart.
Some of the Ancients that Ascended naturally like Mesha reached this point without the aid of technology. Nevertheless, they also developed the DNA resequencer, a device able to make humans so advanced that they could obtain abilities like telekinesis, telepathy, healing, and more. They also created an Ascension machine to hasten the process. (SG1: “Prototype”) (ATL: “Tao of Rodney”)
An Asuran digitally ascending
Since the Atlantis expedition’s first contact with the Asurans, they’ve known that a splinter faction of the Replicators, led by Niam, had the aspiration to ascend, just as their creators the Ancients had done. However, this goal is impossible to achieve because they are machines, not humans.
After the rest of the Asurans and their home world were destroyed, Niam’s faction, now led by Dr. Elizabeth Weir, was able to pursue ascension without worry of any hindrance or fear of reprisal for not conforming. An individual named Koracen discovered a way to “ascend” into subspace as a means of reaching a higher plane. However, that plan didn’t work, as they were trapped in subspace. The experience is described as rather unpleasant, as they were constantly subjected to the background noise and transmissions sent through it. They were eventually forced to abandon that plan and retake corporeal form. (ATL: “Ghost in the Machine”)
Note that this is not technically ascension, as they did not gain any of the abilities of the ascended or move to a higher plane. Instead, those so ascended became, almost literally, ghosts in the machine; that is, a consciousness existing as electrical energy which can control technology. In this state, they could travel through subspace and take control of any machine after a short acclimation period.
According to what Dr. Daniel Jackson was told by Anubis/Jim, “There are many planes of existence between human existence and ascension.” When one exists in any of these planes beyond the corporeal, he is referred to as an Ascended Being because he has “ascended” to a higher plane as a form of intelligent energy. (SG1: “Threads”)
Oma Desala ascends Daniel
It appears that the various planes of existence not only dictate the powers an Ascended Being has, but also his level of understanding of the universe, or his degree of “enlightenment”. The higher level of ascension at which a being exists, the more power, knowledge, and understanding of the universe he possesses. When Dr. Daniel Jackson was helped to ascend by Oma Desala, he was only exposed to certain knowledge and understanding that Oma gave him. He told Colonel Jack O’Neill that all he knew was what Oma told him. She educated him at the “beginning of the journey” until he had managed to acquire all of the knowledge and power that an Ascended Being at Oma’s level could have. Oma had the power to take that knowledge away, but chose instead to bury it along with his memories into his subconscious mind upon returning him to human form. Daniel, during the early days of his ascension, told Jack, “I see things, I understand things, in a way I never could have before.” Near the end of Daniel’s year of ascension, he still did not know everything because he constantly insisted, “All I know is what Oma has taught me. Ascension doesn’t make you all knowing or all powerful. It is just the beginning of the journey.” This journey was Daniel’s Path to Enlightenment, the one on the road to the Great Path, which is most likely the ultimate level of ascension a being can reach. This ultimate level, however, Daniel has implied can never get a being to the level of being complete omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient, but is something that Ascended Beings still endeavor to achieve. Lt. Colonel Cameron Mitchell stated it this way, “Look, just because we know there is some beings on a higher plane of existence than ourselves does not mean there’s not an order of being higher than them.” (SG1: “Abyss”, “Full Circle”, “Origin”)
How far up the planes of existence Daniel reached during his first ascension remains unanswered, but he demonstrated limited capabilities and knowledge during that period. The true extent of his powers were never revealed due to interference from the Others. During his second ascension, however, he was brought into one of the lowest planes of existence where he was self-aware, but did not possess any extraordinary powers or become any further enlightened. Oma described this low level as a “stop along the way” to ascension where Daniel could make the choice as to whether or not he’d like to give ascension another chance but be forbidden from interacting in the corporeal plane or end his life because his body was already dead. Daniel rephrased this choice as to “contemplate my own enlightenment.”
Oma Desala engages Anubis in eternal struggle
Anubis reached a high plane of existence when he tricked Oma into helping him to ascend. Although Anubis held a high degree of enlightenment as to what ascension was, his soul was not pure. The fact that Oma could be deceived proves that ascension doesn’t make one all-knowing, just as Daniel said. The Others sent Anubis down a few planes of existence, what Daniel described as “stuck somewhere between human existence and ascension.” Anubis was still left as a being of energy, but his powers were limited. The Others instructed him that he could only use the knowledge and power he would normally gain as a regular Goa’uld, and Anubis amazingly followed that rule without waver. He gained eternal life through ascension, but now this eternal life is being spent in a never-ending battle with Oma. Oma engaged him in order to prevent him from destroying all life in the Milky Way Galaxy and to take responsibility for breaking the rule, “No lone ascended being shall help a lower ascend.” Although higher ascended beings have the power to kill lower ones, the Others would have stopped her from destroying a lower being, especially as Anubis’s evil was her punishment. She was forced to fully ascend him to the same level as her in order to stop him, but this meant that neither one could win. (SG1: “Threads”)
The City of Celestis on the Plains of Celestis
When the original Ancients, the Alterans, were forced to flee their home galaxy for fear of their lives because of philosophical differences between them and the others of their society known as the Ori, they were on the evolutionary path toward ascension. The Ori, like the Altera, eventually ascended after this separation. The Ori’s galaxy is home to a second evolution of humanity, just as the Milky Way Galaxy is. When Daniel met the Ori through a psychic link with one of these humans, he found out that the Ori claimed that they were humanity’s creators. It is possible that the Ori did in fact create humanity in their home galaxy through the use of technology similar to what the Ancients used in the Milky Way Galaxy after life was nearly wiped out by the Ancient contagion that occurred five to ten million years ago. Anubis/Jim told Daniel that the Ancients used the advanced device on the planet Dakara to reseed life in the galaxy after the plague “some million odd years” ago. The circumstances of the Ori’s re-creation of humanity in their home galaxy is not known, but Daniel assumed that this occurred after all of the Ori had ascended. The Ori manifest themselves in a wall of fire near the temple in the City of Celestis on the Plains of Celestis. (SG1: “Origin”)
Followers of origin prostrating to the Ori
The Ori created a religion with which to interact and manipulate the second evolution of man in their home galaxy. This religion, called Origin, forced a human to relinquish their free will to the Ori with the promise of ascension. The Ori were manipulating humanity because they actually gained power through man’s worship, but were not intending to share that power with their worshipers, so the promise of ascension was a lie. It is hardly a simple thing, but the interrelationships of all living things in the universe is illustrated in this dependence amongst the planes of existence. (SG1: “Origin”)
The Ascended Alterans kept the existence of humanity in the Milky Way Galaxy a secret from the Ori because they feared that the Ori would become too powerful and disturb the balance in their planes of existence. Additionally, they feared that they themselves could become corrupted by the temptation of this power in order to achieve higher levels of enlightenment. Because of this fear, the Ascended Alterans established their non-interference policy. They were not certain what the outcome would be if they were to directly confront the Ori, so they decided that the best way to achieve the balance was through the actions of those opposing the Ori in the lowest plane of existence, the corporeal plane. (SG1: “The Pegasus Project”)
For their part, this work included permitting one of their own to sacrifice his ascension and the chance at further enlightenment to retake human form to help humanity any way he could. Daniel Jackson had decided this was the course of action he was willing to take by retaking human form from both his times as an Ascended Being, but his advanced knowledge was not accessible to him. (SG1: “Full Circle”, “Meridian”, “Threads”) Orlin was given the opportunity to keep some of his advanced knowledge as a human, but that knowledge was not permanent and was life-threatening because the human brain is not physically designed to harbor or use such knowledge. Any of the Ascended Beings who have selected to return to human form are aware that their trip is most likely one-way and that they will not be able to ascend again. (SG1: “Ascension”, “The Fourth Horseman, Part 1”, “The Fourth Horseman, Part 2”)
However, the Ascended are not against interfering in the lower planes if they feel there is a significant enough threat caused by one of their own descended beings. One example is when they sent Morgan Le Fay to stop Merlin’s creation of the Sangraal that could kill Ascended Beings. While Morgan did this as she essentially had no choice, she skirted her orders as she came to believe that Merlin was right and preserved him in stasis so he could one day rebuild the weapon which he and Daniel Jackson did. The only time an Ascended Ancient managed to ever directly interfere in the lower planes is when Morgan herself secretly aided SG-1 against Adria, the last remaining Ori and her followers. As they were in another galaxy with no Ancients, The Others were unable to interfere and Morgan used the free rein on her powers to aid as best she could, ultimately sacrificing herself to destroy Adria after SG-1 reduced her power. (SG1: “The Quest, Part 1”, “The Quest, Part 2”, “The Ark of Truth”)
A group of Ascended beings in the Astral Diner
The superior plane of existence in which the Ascended reside is inhabited by several different Ascended races, but is inhabited in large part by the Ancients, and was also inhabited by the Ori, until they were killed. These two foreign races were in fact of the same species, that is to say, “the first evolution” of humans (Alterans), but they differ due to their opposing beliefs and method of Ascension.
The ascended plane of existence seems to have several “levels” and “ranks”, evident because some Ascended beings must have more abilities than others. Those that have been Ascended for a long time, or who Ascended of their own wisdom, obtain a “higher Ascension”.
The Atlantis expedition stumbled upon a being that was being studied by the Ancients for the purpose of learning how to ascend. This creature seemed to be on a level of existence close to that of Anubis because it’s physical form was that of a large, nebulous black cloud. This creature is the only evidence that beings on a higher plane of existence does not necessitate greater intelligence since this creature seemed only capable of the most basic reasoning. (ATL: “Hide and Seek”)
The rules of the Ascended are that one cannot interfere in the mortal affairs, a rule that is sometimes broken, causing the one who broke the rule to be punished by the other Ascended beings (“The Others”); often, this punishment hurts the mortal world instead of the responsible being, so as to show the transgressor the effects of his actions. The only time someone managed to directly interfere without being stopped was when Morgan Le Fay aided SG-1 against Adria and the Ori followers in the Alteran Home Galaxy using her powers more freely to help them as The Others were not there and were unable to stop her. She clearly broke the rule of non-interference and while some of what she did The Others could possibly have let her do such as send visions to Dr. Daniel Jackson to steer him towards the Ark of Truth, the rest was clearly in violation of the rule such as when she healed a mortally wounded Teal’c so he could aid his friends. (SG1: “The Ark of Truth”)
Replicator Carter processes Daniel’s ascended knowledge
Ascended beings are described as having “all the knowledge and power of the universe”, which is essentially an infinite knowledge (and, possibly, power). However, this does not equate to omniscience, as there are a few means by which Ascended beings can be deceived. The Ancients, for example, apparently hid the existence of the entire Milky Way from their Ori brethren, at least until the Tau’ri made themselves known to the Ori. While ascended, Dr. Daniel Jackson stated that Ascension “doesn’t make one all-knowing,” but rather the individual’s talent in tapping into and understanding the infinite knowledge of the universe at any given moment is substantially increased. This can be done because there are no neurons required to store memory for ascended beings. Replicator Carter tried to download the Ascended knowledge from Daniel Jackson’s subconscious mind, but found that there wasn’t enough memory in the entire Replicator army to hold it. RepliCarter claimed that she and her brethren just needed time to process the information and create more of themselves to house it, but Daniel argued that the knowledge was more than information, but being able to understand on a level that she could never reach due to her corporeal machine status. Unfortunately for RepliCarter, her attempt to access this from Daniel’s mind also gave him access to some of the information which showed him how to enter her mind, overpower her and freeze her army, turning the tide of a losing battle his friends were fighting. (SG1: “Reckoning, Part 1”, “Reckoning, Part 2”, “Origin”)
Daniel Jackson fights Anubis with his Ascended powers
The Ascended plane offers many powers to its inhabitants. Ascended beings have been seen to be capable of miraculous things. Some of these powers include but aren’t limited to:
Morgan confronting Adria on equal strength levels.
Cassandra Fraiser levitating a chess piece
Chaya Sar uses her ascended powers to destroy Wraith Darts
Healing power of near ascended beings at work.
They also have power over other beings like themselves:
Morgan Le Fay talks with Daniel Jackson in Atlantis
With all of these great powers, Ascended Beings might appear to be invincible. Ascended beings have been known to destroy each other. As mentioned above, when Dr. Daniel Jackson was an Ascended Being, he gathered powerful energy orbs to direct at Anubis, and Anubis admits that he would not have survived such an attack. This is further corroborated by Replicator Carter, then Oma herself after she saved Daniel.
Merlin building the Sangraal
The possibility of overpowering an Ascended Being led SG-1 to search for a weapon developed by Merlin, a former Ascended Being who feared the Ori and knew that the Others wouldn’t directly confront them in their plane of existence. The Others claimed that they don’t know what the true outcome would have been if they were to have confronted the Ori directly, but concluded that it could have been very detrimental to all planes of existence. Based on Merlin’s notes, the weapon, called the Sangraal, didn’t actually destroy Ascended Beings, but channeled energy from subspace to interfere with the energy form of the Ascended in their dimension (plane of existence). Daniel stated, “Well, technically, Merlin’s research didn’t refer to killing. A better translation would be ‘neutralizing’ or ‘canceling out’.” In later conversations concerning the operation of Merlin’s weapon, however, the effect of the device was equated with killing the Ascended Beings in the scope of the galaxy wherein the Sangraal was detonated. SG-1 found Merlin, built another weapon, and sent that weapon through the Ori’s Supergate to their home galaxy on board one of their warships. The actual success of this attack was not immediately known, however it was later found to have worked.
Ascended beings can increase their power substantially over other ascended beings by having people in the physical plane worship them. This empowers the worshiped ascended being to such degree that they would be many times stronger than any othernormally ascended being. The Ori have capitalized upon this fact and created the religion of Origin centering around Ori worship with the promise of ascension of the faithful upon death.
This type of empowerment has its weakness, as the ascended being becomes dependent on such a power boost. After a long period of time, they would be substantially weaker than normal when or if this power boost is removed. This was demonstrated when the Ori Priors and Doci were turned from Origin, having been revealed the truth by the Ark of Truth. Adria was instantly weakened to a normal ascended being equal and potentially weaker than her Ancient counterpart Morgan Le Fay, and reduced to making threats instead of before being able to met out instant retribution.
The Sangraal being constructed
In 2006, Dr. Daniel Jackson deciphered the writings left by the Ancient Myrrdin that correspond to the Arthurian legend of Merlin. He was an Ascended Ancient who was investigating how to defeat the Ori, but the Others wanted him to stop. In order to continue without their knowledge, he de-ascended himself again to be human, and continued his investigation in an alternate dimension where Ascended beings could not see (showing again that they are limited and physical beings).
Merlin created a weapon that could ‘neutralize’ an Ascended being. This weapon in itself turns out to correspond to the myths of the Sangraal (Holy Grail). This has opened many more possibilities to defeat to the Ori, and also it suggests much on the nature of an Ascended beingAscension does not make you a god; it merely enhances your ability. Most beings in the universe, nevertheless, still believe all ascended beings to be immortal and invincible. Although the device can only be created by a former ascended being who retains the specific knowledge needed to build it. (SG1: “Arthur’s Mantle”)
Several Pegasus galaxy humans following in the path of the Ancients and trying to ascend
The Ancients in the Milky Way and the Pegasus galaxy had different reasons to Ascend. In the Milky Way, the Ancients were knocked down by a plague that they, with all their technological advances, could not cure; the only way they could avoid death was to Ascend. In the Pegasus Galaxy, they were at war with the Wraith. Once they began to lose the war, many were forced to Ascend to prevent capture. Those that did not Ascend died or escaped through the Stargate to the Milky Way.
In general, Ascension can be used as large-scale ways of escape. When Colonel Jack O’Neill was captured by Ba’al in 2002, Dr. Daniel Jackson tried to persuade him to ascend as it was his only form of escape (at the time). (SG1: “Abyss”)
Cosmically, Ascension seems to be the final goal of all life; at least, this is the idea that is beginning to be considered in the Milky Way. The Free Jaffa Nation attempted to unite with the Ori in its search for Ascension.
Daniel and Bra’tac meditate with a monk in a temple on Kheb
The first known Tau’ri encounter with Ascension was when SG-1 arrived at Kheb, a legendary planet where they found the Harcesis. There, they also found a Buddhist monk in the temple not responding directly to questions, instead quoting Zen Koans. Dr. Daniel Jackson decides to sit with the monk and to learn about Oma Desala, a.k.a. Mother Nature. He learns how the monk can stoke a fire with his mind, and Daniel imitates this effect, only to realize later that it was actually Oma performing this action for him.
When the Goa’uld found the temple, they killed the monk, whom Oma then ascended. As SG-1 left, Oma created lightning and struck down the Jaffa. The storm then disappeared and Oma left through the Stargate. (SG1: “Maternal Instinct”)
A few years later Major Samantha Carter met Orlin, an Ascended being who fell in love with her. Orlin was punished for making a weapon for a foreign race that was under attack. Orlin de-ascended himself so he could be with Carter. He later re-ascended, presumably with help from the other Ancients, when he died. He de-ascended again later to use the knowledge of the Ancients to help Carter to cure an Ori plague on Earth. (SG1: “Ascension”, “The Fourth Horseman, Part 1”, “The Fourth Horseman, Part 2”)
Dr. Daniel Jackson, after ascending, became mortal again after failing to fulfill the non-interference rule by trying to destroy Anubis, a “half-ascended” being who lacked the power of his fully ascended brethren but was still immune to conventional weapons. Having returned to his human form, Daniel was initially totally amnesic, but eventually regained his memories of his human life, although he only remembered brief moments of his time as an Ascended being, and all of his regained memories from this time occurred while he was operating on the lower planes rather than while he was interacting with other Ascended. Despite his conscious loss of memory, Daniel was able to use Ascended knowledge still locked away in his mind to help destroy the Replicators and convinced Oma Desala to take on Anubis in an eternal struggle in order to stop him before he was apparently sent back by The Others, this time retaining his full memories of the experience. (SG1: “Full Circle”, “Fallen”, “Homecoming”, “Orpheus”, “Reckoning, Part 1”, “Reckoning, Part 2”, “Threads”)
Another transgressor was Chaya Sar, an ascended Lantean living in the Pegasus Galaxy. She used the ‘Destructive Energy’ form to defend Proculus from a large Wraith fleet. She was punished in a similar way, protecting Proculus forever without being able to offer aid to anybody else. (ATL: “Sanctuary”)
Rodney McKay accidentally uses the Ascension machine
In 2006, an Ancient Ascension machine genetically modified Dr. Rodney McKay’s DNA putting him on the path of Ascension. However, these changes meant that he either needed to release his burdens or die from the changes wrought on his body. Ultimately, Dr. Carson Beckett was given the necessary information by McKay on reversing the machine’s effects, which removed the modifications. (ATL: “Tao of Rodney”)
After being turned into an Asuran, Doctor Elizabeth Weir led a faction searching for a way to Ascend. They eventually tried digital ascension, but instead got trapped in subspace. After returning to physical form, the surviving Asurans were lured into space through a Spacegate and deactivated. However, this was not the end for Weir who was Ascended for real by Ascended Asgard Ran. Weir later guided Teyla Emmagan towards the truth of the Wraith in dreams and saved Rodney McKay’s life from a suicide mission into a sun. For this, she was returned to mortal form, human once more but with no memory. Like Doctor Daniel Jackson, she eventually regained it. (ATL: “Ghost in the Machine”, “The Furies”, “Inheritors”, “Stargate Atlantis: Unascended”, “Stargate Atlantis: The Third Path”)
An Asgard that managed to Ascend before the Asgard began their process of cloning and thus started to suffer genetic degradation. After Doctor Elizabeth Weir was trapped in space as a Replicator, having lured the others through a Spacegate, Ran helped her Ascend, but after she broke the rules to save a friend, had to descend her. However, like Oma Desala and Doctor Daniel Jackson, she made it so that Weir could be found by her friends and regain her memory. The Vanir, a rogue faction of Asgard and the last of the race began hunting for Ran to force her to descend as they believed that her uncorrupted DNA and eggs could be used to reverse the genetic degradation and save the Asgard race. At the suggestion of Weir, Vanir leader Dis traveled to Earth on an old Asgard scoutship where he visited a shrine made by the Ancients where they could be communicated with. Dis made a plea for Ran’s help in saving their race. Even though the Others were unsure of what to do, Ran felt that the extinction of a race was more important than the Ascended rules and returned to mortal form to help, aware that she may not be able to Ascend again. She warns though that even though she has returned to help, it may not be enough to reverse the extensive damage done to the Vanir by their centuries of cloning. (ATL: “Stargate Atlantis: Unascended”, “Stargate Atlantis: The Third Path”)
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