Nissa Revane - Color Pie Study
Our growth as a person can be measured by the changes in our personality and of the Philosophies which dictate our outlook as we learn who we are. With the characters of Magic the gathering this growth is best illustrated in the colors which represent their motivations, and when these colors change we can learn a lot about these characters. For this video we will be taking a deep dive into the character of Nissa Revane, her growth over the course of her life and her subsequent changing of colors. This won't be so much of a lore video but rather an inspection of who Nissa is as a person and how she grows over the course of her tale. Her story is an arch of self discovery and a perfect way to start off this new series. For this video I have requested the help of a Lore expert in MTG Loreseeker who will drop in from time to time, he will now set the stage for us and from here we will begin discussing Nissa, the animist with good intentions who seems to always find herself on the outside.
"Life is a force that can take on many forms - it can be found walking through city streets, or flying high above the clouds, or swimming through the vast ocean. But life is more than what moves with leg or wing or fin, it can be vast, sprawling canopies, the grass and moss beneath your feet, and deeper still, it can be the subtle soul of the world, resting beneath the surface. Such life has few ways in which to defend itself - which is when the defenders of such life step forward. Wardens of nature and all growing things, they dedicate their lives to the safeguarding of that which needs it most. And one such defender is an elf of the Joraga tribe of Zendikar - Nissa Revane"
-Mtg Lore Seeker
From a young age Nissa was always trying to find her place, as one of the last animists of Zendiakar she held a special connection to the land. A connection she always intended to pursue with the best of intentions but with results that never quite lined up. This connection is a vital part of her character and to some may seem like the only reason she is set in Green, but I would say a stronger tie to green for her is Nissa's desire to find her place. To be of service to the land and the life within. Its conceptually similar but the side of her that wishes to serve the land is stronger than any physical ties to it when it comes to Green philosophy.
“This elf, like many of her people, grew up living an isolated life, plagued by visions and dreams. Nissa was an animist, a shaman with a deep connection with nature, which not only caused her to have visions, but led to her being ostracized by her tribe. The young shaman departed on a journey, eventually ending up near the peaks of Akoum, where she attempted to confront the same nameless horror that plagued her dreams. What she encountered there, however, was a force more terrifying than anything she had imagined, the shock of it igniting her latent planeswalker spark.”
-Mtg Lore Seeker
Nissa from the start only wanted what was best for her people and for Zendikar but in return her clan feared her and her visions. Because of this she started her life out as a bad omen, not a servant of the land, which is all she wanted. This can have a distinct effect on a person at a young age, this rejection of who we see ourselves as. You see we all want to feel accepted whether we realize it internally or not. Because of this I believe Nissa suffered from a loss of identity and significantly damaged her self confidence. She knew what she wanted to do, she wanted to be in service of the land and its people and yet the land brought nightmares and the people brought rejection.
This motivation is very much green, the wishing to find ones purpose and their place, but when it is prefaced by uncertainty it can cause someone to act rash as they try and grasp at what they can to prove themselves to others and themselves. This of course leads Nissa down the path of leaving her clan and of her confronting the darkness within the Plane, both of which lead to failure. I think this is important to keep in mind moving forward when discussing Nissa, because these cracks in her character will continue to drive her until the day she heals herself. With her spark ignited though it was time for her to begin the process of finding who she was and wanted to be.
“Nissa was sent on a journey across the many planes of the multiverse. She would encounter worlds that seemed familiar, upon which resided elves similar, yet different, from the kind she knew. Yet other worlds were quite different, housing cities that seemed to stretch into the horizon.”
-Mtg Lore Seeker
Her journey's sent to her to many new worlds. We don't know everything about these travels but from what we are told, she found hate on Lorwyn, discomfort on Ravnica and imprisonment on some metallic Plane. None of these planes gave her the answer she needed, none of them fed her soul. Nissa at this point was steeping in her regret. Should I have abandoned my people should I have been so hasty to leave my home Plane when it clearly needed me. Regret is a word I think is key to the early life of Nissa.
Her purpose never fulfilled, leading her to one mistake after another, the Green present in Nissa ached for purpose, but it always seemed just out of reach. Regret is a natural emotion we all feel, there is always something in our past we have done which shapes our view of ourselves in a negative way. Regret, you see never goes away, it gnaws at us. This regret can do one of two things, it can defeat us or bring us resolve, unfortunately for Nissa she feels the former, but worry not this isn't the end of her. From here she would need to ground herself. To plant her feet back at home.
“Discontent with what she encountered beyond the blind eternities, Nissa elected to stay on her home world. When the Eldrazi brood began to break free of their bindings, Nissa teamed up with the mysterious Sorin Markov to attempt to seal them away.” 7
-Mtg Lore Seeker
It wasn't long before she realized she should have never left. Her place was here on Zendikar. Meeting Sorin in some ways is a blessing and a curse. I think there is some comfort that can be had when we find others like us, the problem is that Sorin isn't the most welcoming presence. Its at this point where Nissa is coming into her own, she knows at least what she must do and who she must be. She is an animist, the bridge to the soul of a Plane and its leylines. Her role is to protect Zendikar. This is the point where Green is more than just a color due to her being an elf, but rather it is routed in her role. As we know Green is the color which aims to be a piece of the greater puzzle and in return must give themselves to it and for Nissa, giving herself to Zendikar would bring her peace, unfortunately peace would not truly come to Zendikar or Nissa for some time.
“After a long journey to the Eye of Ugin, however, Nissa had a change of heart, believing that the Eldrazi would leave Zendikar if they were freed. The elf could not have been more wrong, and now her home was at risk from not just the brood, but the three Eldrazi titans. For over two years Nissa had battled the Eldrazi, coming to fully embrace her shamanic powers in the process. Eventually, she would be joined by other planeswalkers seeking to end the threat of the Eldrazi - Gideon Jura, Jace Beleren, and Chandra Nalaar.”
-Mtg Lore Seeker
Up until this point Nissa had spent much of her life pulled around, either by her visions or her quest to find her place. I honestly really feel for Nissa at this point, even with the dire mistake she has made, as she is a character with the best of intentions and yet those intentions are always clouded by the will of others or of her desire to do whats right marred by her inexperience. Things begin to turn here for Nissa though as during the fight for Zendikar she finds others who actually depend on her and her strength. This is a powerful thing as she is beginning to find her worth. Not just as a tool of Zendikar but someone who others value, which I believe is almost more powerful to her considering what she has struggled with up until this point. I believe without encountering these other Planeswalkers Nissa would have stagnated and perhaps would never have grown into the person she is now, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. The battle for Zendikar was on.
“Coming together as the gatewatch, these planeswalkers stood together against the Titans Ulamog and Kozilek, with Nissa tapping into the very essence of Zendikar to fuel a spell that not only trapped the Eldrazi, but allowed Chandra to incinerate them.”
-Mtg Lore Seeker
After years of failure and regret Nissa finally found her first instance of victory. With the aid of her new friends she had fulfilled her purpose on Zendikar. While this should have been the end of the arch it wasn't. You see she had accomplished what she had set out to do, which helped boost her confidence. The issue is that she had neglected her own needs this entire time. When you give yourself to a goal so fully that you ignore your heart, you can find that there is a hole left in its wake. It was now time to push out further, aid other planes and in the process find herself and who she wanted to be and perhaps fill that void with a greater purpose.
“Having saved Zendikar, Nissa traveled with the Gatewatch across the planes, gaining new allies like Liliana Vess and Ajani Goldmane. The group would do its' best to help others, a goal which eventually led them into a confrontation against Nicol Bolas, a clash that would eventually lead them into the War of the Spark.”
-Mtg Lore Seeker
It was on these travels where she would truly come to learn more about herself. First would come Innistrad a Plane tormented by the Eldrazi Titan Emrakul. Here she attempted to speak with the soul of this world and found only darkness and madness. Their previous tactics finding no ground here against Emrakul. Eventually victory came after they were able to trap the titan within Innistrads moon, but not without its tests upon Nissa's mind and her confidence in herself. I believe it is here, when confronted by horror, where Nissa begins to really question herself once again, her place and her purpose.
I consider this the softening of her character and is what will lead her to be able to shape and mold herself anew, which leads us into Kaladesh and the beginning of her self discovery. On Kaladesh she was granted a new perspective on nature. At first she felt stifled by the vast city, much like when she first travelled to Ravnica, that is until she learned to see nature in new way and perhaps in this way was able to see herself in new ways. It was here as well where a love interest would bud between Nissa and Chandra. Nissa with all of her goals never stopped to be loved but found it when imprisoned with Chandra on the Plane. Nissa as a character I believe doesn't show herself enough self love, she doubts herself, she regrets her past action and this self destructive nature can lead to depression, and sometimes it takes a loving hand to pull you from those depths.
Next they would come to Amonkhet and here we would see the fruition of her growth as a character. During her search of the Plane which was sickened by a curse, she encounters the trial of knowledge. Here she is forced into introspection. To take a logical and critical look at herself from the outside. This is a turning point for her, a critical path change, a fork in the road and the culmination of the seeds which where planted in Amonkhet and Kaldesh. Do I stay down this path which has brought me nothing or do I take another road that I've dared not travel. You see up until this time she had been nothing more than a pawn of others and further than that, Nissa was one who was always swept up in who she thought she should be, and of her desire to fulfill her role.
Always moved from place to place and never taking time to do what she wanted, more importantly what she needed and didn't realize. She learns here that instead of being moved as a piece on the board she must instead go forward as the hand which moves the pieces. While the fight for Amonkhet is a failure this is indeed where a new Nissa is born on a Plane of undeath. She will from here on out be her own person and not be the tool of others. On Dominaria she confronts Lilliana for her manipulations and decides to leave the Gatewatch. This is such a strong moment because in her youth I don't believe that she would taken things this far. She might have just bit her tongue and continued on, but she is stronger than that now. She doesn't need to follow, her lessons from Amonkhet coming to fruition. From here she would return to Zendikar to reset herself, this would lead her to shedding her Blue mana but not the lessons that were gained from it.
From this Place she would be called to Ravnica because of the pull of the Planar beacon. Here the fight for Ravnica would take Place against the ancient foe of Nicol Bolis. She was not filled with anxiety or doubt this time. She acted with confidence even though it would lead her to make more mistakes, but in this war anything that could be done was done. During this fight she would raise Vitu-Ghazi only to lose the great tree but things would turn around when her ability to channel the leylines would help turn the fight and victory was found, but not after losing a dear friend in Gideon and losing love in Chandra. The two compounded loses is what I believe completes her character arch and in many ways pushed Black into Nissa's color identity.
With everything that has happened, with every regret and loss, Nissa has learned that she must depend on herself and act in a manner that fulfilled who she now was. No more getting pulled around no more depending on the aid of others, no more finding her purpose. She knows now who she is and who she wants to be. Black in many ways can add a lot of self confidence and self reliance, as it's the color which dictates its life based on its own needs. I would say this is important for Nissa because it brings it all around full circle. At first she wanted to find herself and what she was meant to do but every action done, not on her own terms, lead to regret. Then she accepts differing perspectives and this is reflected in the addition of Blue and the self awareness and introspection which she had lacked or avoided. Sure she sheds this Blue for Black eventually but this almost mimics the journey we all go on as we grow up.
As kids and teens we try and look for what we are good at, what we want to be and what our purpose is, this could be said to reflect a Green phase in ourselves and of Nissa. Then in our twenties we go on a path of self discovery, asking questions of ourselves and learning who we truly are, reflected best in the addition of Blue and then in our thirties we know who we are and are confident to act with our best interests in mind, as we learn that no one is going to truly look out for you but you. The tale of Nissa is one we can all relate to even if her tale is more grand than our own, that is because her story is a human one, even behind those pointed ears, and because of that we can see aspects of ourselves in her. The mistakes we regret and the growth that happens when we learn to love ourselves and accept who are and what we wish to be.
Thanks for reading this article on Nissa, it was big endeavor to write but I am happy how it turned out. Special thanks once again to MTG Loreseeker for his help. Be sure to check out his youtube channel. If you enjoyed this article then consider becoming a site member that way you can be notified when the next article goes live. If you want more content from me then be sure to check out the links below. With that friend I will catch you in the multiverse, Bye!
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