Obviously this is just a theory, so share your thoughts below. Nature of the Witness: We know that the Witness is the oldest creature we have seen so far in the game, as it predates Rhulk which predates the Hive as a species which have been alive for like eons. We know that the Witness is not the same as the Winnower, because it and the Darkness are mentioned as seperate entities on numerous occasions. Considering the fact that egregore connects thoughts across space and time, and burning it interacts with the pyramid ships, and people claim to hear whispers coming from the plants, I believe that the Witness is some sort of culmination of egregore. Its a fungus, a hive mind, which is why the Witness has so many faces in the smoke over its head. This is also corroborated by the fact that all official in-game talk about the Witness uses the pronouns "they/them/" which, while it can mean gender neutral, it can also insinuate a plurality of identities in one. By becoming "one" with the egregore, Calus became "one" with the Witness, a disciple within it's fungal network. The Witness is likely the origin of the egregore, which it releases through its smoke to spread across the universe. Purpose of the Witness: Has anyone ever questioned why it is named "The Witness"? We've known since the beginning that the Light gives life (takes death), but also takes memory. The Dark takes life (gives death) and gives memory. Given that the Witness seeks to "drink the Light" and is a "Witness" to something, its easy to speculate that it witnessed something that it wants to forget. Is it really about the Final Shape? Does it really want to whittle the universe down untill nothing is left? Or is it simply trying to forget something from it's past? Perhaps being one with the egregore has made the Witness a witness of all the pain and suffering in the universe and it simply wants to forget all of it. Perhaps it is unable to kill itself because it has been spread so vastly throughout the universe? What did it see? I firmly believe it is trying to forget something, and that the "Final Shape" is just a ruse. That, or the Witness somehow witnessed the birth of the universe and wants the universe to end, and then forget it even existed? That could blend both the "witness" aspect with the "final shape" aspect. Let me know your thoughts!
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The Witness goes by many names; The Winnower, The Voice in the Darkness, etc. However the one we're going with in-game thanks to Savathun is The Witness. Then there's the opposing entity: We call it The Traveler. Eliksni and Cabal call it a Machine. In opposition to The Winnower, it's also called The Gardener. It has a voice as well (Lore tab for Ghost Shell in Vow of the Disciple) Season of Drifter when we were told about "The Game" that Light and Dark are playing in. The Winnower / Witness believes in power over all, the true Final Shape is Survival of the Fittest, all those who are weaker will perish. "No more Death.... No more Life...." In the end, it basically seeks eradication of all sentient life or perhaps it will gift the last remaining species with immortality as a reward for winning "The game". The Gardener / Traveller seeks Peace through Cooperation. A belief that at some point, everyone can set aside their differences and work in harmony. This is the game they play, a competition of beliefs. However, historically, The Traveller has always lost. The story we play is not the first time this game was played, we're on an unknown amount of restarts and Elsie Bray is the only person alive right now who has an idea on how many times this game was played out. Dark Future lore books from Beyond Light state how one of those games ended: Dark Guardians vs what remained of Light Guardians and our character was not on the Light. Eris was the main "Queen" of Dark Guardians as well. Ikora and Drifter were dead, Mara Sov and Zavala were making one final desperate attack against the Dark Guardians while holding the Traveller captive with the Leviathan after it tried to flee again. During the battle, Mara Sov died from a betrayal by Ana Bray, who was killed by Elsie shortly after. Zavala was overrun and in one final moment, the Traveller sent Elsie back in time to the celebration parade when Cayde-6 was marked the new Hunter Vanguard after killing Taniks. We do not know how often that happened though, and Elsie has been trying to find the right methods to stop it from happening again. Back to The Witness, that's probably their entire point. To witness this game of theirs play out. It's won before, and it probably believes it will win again regardless of how many resets the Traveller makes.
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