Aes Sedai, in the Old Tongue, means "servants of all," and the Aes Sedai of the Age of Legends lived up to this definition. They aided mankind as scientists, healers and philosophers. Women used saidar and men saidin, as today, although it is believed that channelers in the Age of Legends were much stronger, or at least more knowledgeable in the Power than their modern equivalents; it is believed that they could fly, and things that would seem miraculous today were supposedly commonplace to them. Some of their lost Talents, such as Traveling and Dreaming, have only just been rediscovered. One thing is clear, however; the greatest works were wrought by male and female channelers working together.
Organization of the ancient Aes Sedai
In the Age of Legends, unlike today, being Aes Sedai did not define who you were; you could follow other courses of occupation, and often what you were did not elevate you much, though there was prestige in the position. The exception to this was in the field of Healing, where even a great doctor was outmatched by a skilled Restorer - a period term for a channeler skilled in healing. Of course, the making of ter'angreal was strictly limited to the Aes Sedai. Note, however, that things that allowed non-channelers to use ter'angreal, the "standing weaves", have long since dissipated, so use of the Portal Stones by normal individuals may have occurred.
Also, the principle of ajah (the definition of which has greatly changed over time) was also important. During the Age of Legends, the organization of the Aes Sedai were described as a sea of ajah, constantly changing. Ajah, without the capital, meant "a temporary group, brought together for some common purpose", according to a recently found ancient Old Tongue dictionary. This is contrary to the current meaning which simply means "a sisterhood of Aes Sedai". Despite the claims of some Aes Sedai that their organization has been constant since the Age of Legends, it is apparent that it was greatly changed by the Breaking. However, the seven colors of the Ajahs seem to have some importance, as they were seen around the Portal Stones in at least one other reality, although that paving could have been added after the Breaking.
The Hall of Servants
The Aes Sedai were governed by the Hall of Servants, headed by the First among Servants, and located in Paaran Disen, the capital of the time. The First among Servants could call Aes Sedai from their normal jobs to work in circles when the need arose, as became more and more common during the Collapse.
Channelers started their training at a young age, possibly as soon as their channeling ability was discovered. The ranks among Aes Sedai-to-be (compared to the Novice, Accepted, Soldier or Dedicated ranks among modern organised channelers) are unknown. Demandred recalls a particularly harsh training to reach the Oneness or Void, the mental emptiness required to channel saidin. He remembers having to enter the Oneness while being towed on a sled behind a horse, in the midst of a thunderstorm and even while a hot coal was pressed against his back, having to ignore the pain.
Considering the harshness of this example, the Aes Sedai training must have been very difficult. However, students probably did always survive their training, since channelers are too rare to be thrown away. What happened to a student who turned out not to be eligible to become Aes Sedai is unknown.
Talents of the ancient Aes Sedai
The Talent of Healing was much stronger during the Age of Legends, and it was said that anything short of death and burning out could be Healed. The Healing used by modern Aes Sedai was "the hastiest battlefield work" compared to the Healing of that time, until quite recently. They could make ter'angreal, angreal, and sa'angreal. Examples of genetic engineering were also commonplace, though strictly controlled within a code of ethics. This resulted in fantastical constructs like the choras and the Nym, and other varieties of plant life. Unfortunately it would result later in Shadowspawn. Aligning the Matrix, making metal stronger, was also a known Talent, as was the making of cuendillar or "heartstone". Other talents such as "Weaving Earthfire" and "Milking Tears" have been totally lost and now what they do is not even known. While the Brown Ajah speculates Weaving Earthfire may be the talent to create or manipulate magma and Milking Tears may be a power over other's emotions, what these Talents did exactly is unknown. Traveling, moving from one point to another without crossing the intervening space, was also commonplace to those strong enough. Those of lesser strength used Skimming, or simply used the transit systems of the time. The ability was there to travel to other worlds, using the Portal Stones.
It was, ironically, an Aes Sedai research team at the Collam Daan that ripped open the Dark One's Prison. The researchers, headed by Mierin Eronaile, thought they had found a power that both men and women could wield. However, this True Power emanated from the Dark One himself. What followed was a general collapse of civilization over the course of several hundred years, followed by the War of Power. In the end, the Dragon, with the help of the Hundred Companions, sealed the Dark One and the Forsaken in his prison at Shayol Ghul, and the Dark One's final counterattack tainted saidin itself, eventually driving all male channelers mad. The female Aes Sedai could not control them, and the men rampaged across the known world, boiling oceans, raising mountains where there were none, killing countless innocents. This was the Breaking of the World. While some of the men managed to find refuge in Ogier stedding (where they could not touch the Power, and therefore could harm no one and were protected from the effects of the taint), after a time they left the stedding hoping that the taint on saidin had disappeared. It had not and they went insane, prolonging the Breaking according to some. Others hold to the view that this was not as disastrous as if all the men had gone insane at once.