While it’s a common piece of often-accepted theory (a la the Rasputin shot the Traveler theory), there’s a litany of evidence that suggests that the worms and Ahamkara are actually two different species. This post will hopefully contain all of that information, or at least a large portion of it.
One piece of evidence that’s commonly cited is the similarity of the words ‘worm,’ as in the Worm Gods, and the word ‘wyrm,’ a term that’s synonymous with the word ‘dragon.’ However, the Ahamkara are never referred to as ‘wyrms,’ either in-game or in the grimoire.
Alongside this is the fact that, regardless, ‘wyrms’ do not match the description of the Worm Gods. Wyrms are by definition “limbless and wingless,” which is what separates them from other types of dragons. In contrast, this is how Yul, the Honest Worm, describes itself:
Behold my vast displacement, my ponderous strength, my great and coiling length, my folded jaws and curled wings.
Are the two words similar? Yes. However, the Ahamkara are never referred to as wyrms in-game or in-canon. This misconception seems to have come from theories such as this one, and as a result became a part of the lore community’s own ‘canon.’
Given the fact that we have descriptions of the Worms, as well as Ahamkara fossils, it’s not impossible to compare the anatomy of the two species. First, the other description of a worm that we have, from Needle and Worm:
It is a dead white thing, segmented, washed up from the deep sea.
This description likens the worm to earthworms, except the color. Additionally, if we assume that this worm is the spawn of the Worm Gods and the same type that the Hive still ingest, then we have pictures of what the King’s worm looked like.
Additionally, the “folded jaws” Yul has aren’t a feature that the Ahamkara share.
The Sword Logic
While it’s unknown whether or not all creatures of the Deep ascribe to the Sword Logic in the same way that the Hive do, we do know that the Worm Gods require the Osmium Sisters to in order to live forever:
You must obey your nature forever. In your immortality, Aurash, you may never cease to explore and inquire, for the sake of your children. In your immortality, Xi Ro, you may never cease to test your strength. In your immortality, Sathona, you may never abandon cunning.
If you do, your worm will consume you. And as your power grows, oh Princes, so will your worm’s appetite.
The Deep is the opposite of the Sky; as a result, its power must be Taken. This is the reason Oryx kills Akka:
“But you gave us your larvae, the worm,” said Auryx, “and that is why the worm devours us now: because it was given, not taken. So I must take what I need from you, although you are my god.”
Power must be taken from the Worm Gods, or else one is consumed. However, before the Great Hunt, Guardians were going to the Ahamkara:
Power had been obtained from the bargains, and the City needed power. Knowledge had been gleaned, and the Ahamkara knew answers to questions no one had known to ask.
But the price was too high. And no edict or forbearance seemed to stop Guardians from seeking them out, driven by hope, or vengeance, or despair.
While the knowledge given had to be paid back, the Ahamkara did not require what the Worm Gods do. They were not trying to further the Sword Logic, and were in no way that we know of helping the Deep. Their “solipsistic flatteries” did not lead Guardians to eradicate other races; there is no ‘survival of the fittest’ philosophy like there is with the Deep.
Oh ____ Mine
This is the strongest connecting factor between the Worm Gods and the Ahamkara, and is what got the theory rolling in the first place. Sathona says the phrase in Verse 1:5:
It’s dead, but it still speaks to me. It says: listen closely, oh vengeance mine…
And again in 1:8:
Let us dive, oh sisters mine.
And Kagoor has a similar line, although not in the Books:
Saying: this is the shape of joy, oh ruler mine
Of course, this phrase is repeated many times by the Ahamkara:
Of this you can be assured, oh reader mine.
Reality is the finest flesh, oh bearer mine. And are you not…hungry?
Look at all this life, oh bearer mine. There is so much left to burn…
Give me your arm, oh bearer mine. Let me help you fill the world with teeth.
And so on. However, Destiny 2 has thrown an interesting wrench into this equation, and that wrench is Calus. From the D2 Cabal booklet:
I say this to you, oh champion mine, and I say it from my heart: there are those who would bargain away their souls just to live a little longer. I am not them. Life must be worth living. Life must be lovely and delicious and enviably sweet! Nothing has ever lived that will not die, so what matters is how we use our time.
Calus helps to refute the Ahamkara/Worms connection here. He actively dislikes the Hive and their Logic, the fact that they “bargain away their souls just to live a little longer.” Why would he ally himself with the Worms if he objects of them so?
Obviously, both the Worms and the Ahamkara have used the phrase ‘oh ___ mine.’ However, this doesn’t mean that the two are the same, or even that they have similar philosophies, as seen by Calus’ allying himself with what is possibly that Ahamkara while still having a distaste for the Bargain.
(The possibility of Calus being allied with the Ahamkara comes from this line in the booklet:
You sat on my throne with the signal in your fist. And when I reached out to beg, you crushed the bone in your gauntlet.
“Father,” you said, “I will not be weak.”
Obviously, this is far from conclusive, but given the combination of the ‘oh __ mine’ and the prevalence of Ahamkara bones in Destiny, it’s not impossible.)
Xivu Arath and the Wish Dragons
The other connective piece between the Ahamkara and the Worm Gods is the Harmony. From XLV:
THE DRAGONS. Our gods should be ours alone. Their smug freedom is an insult to me. I’d shut them all in cells. Bring them to me!
And the dragons are mentioned again in XLVI:
But the Harmony turn to dragon-wishes, and their wishful bishops wrestle Xivu in the ascendant plane.
Assuming these dargons are Ahamkara, then the key line here is, of course, “our gods should be ours alone.” However, there are a few other interesting points.
The first is that the Ahamkara and the worms are obviously on different sides here, and that the Ahamkara are different enough to the hive that Savathun is vivisecting them.
The second is that the Ahamkara are “free.” So, they are not stuck in a bargain like the Hive, or trapped like the Worm Gods.
Lastly, the Ahamkara are already following the Traveler; they are assisting the Harmony in XLV & XLVI. However, they are not helping the Hive to destroy the Traveler and consume the Sky. Instead, they are defending the Sky, at least by proxy.
So what does Xivu Arath mean? If she’s not referring to the Worm Gods, then she’s presumably referring to the Deep. But why are the Ahamkara not following the philosophy of the Deep, considering that they do nothing to advance the Darkness’ cause?
The linguistic connections between the Ahamkara, the Worms, and Calus point to a higher power influencing their speech. But Calus is not a servant of the Deep, and the Ahamkara don’t seem to adhere to the Darkness’ philosophy, either. So where does that leave us?
The Ahamkara aren’t entities of the Light, and don’t seem to be pure Darkness. There’s no evidence of them killing a Worm God or worshipping them. So, some speculation:
Is Xivu Arath correct about the Ahamkara worshipping the Deep? To the Hive, there are only the Deep and the Sky. If the Ahamkara are not of the Sky- and, given their tendency to get Guardians killed, they likely aren’t- are they automatically sorted into the ‘Deep’ category?
Or are the Ahamkara just ‘lazy’ worshippers of the Deep, and out for their own gain? Their bargains, while little are known of them, could be purely self-serving. Additionally, none of them further the Sword Logic, and without a worm they are free to do as they please.
Maybe the Ahamkara are simply following the Deep’s logic in their own way, attempting to weaken the Light through Guardian’s search for knowledge. However, this doesn’t explain why the decision to start the Hunt was so difficult for the City. It also doesn’t explain why the Harmony was strengthened enough to put Xivu Arath in a deadlock, as opposed to weakening them.