bTsan Saa, the High Lama, the Master, the Mystic, the Spirit Leopard
Existence unknown to the present-day Earth
Tibet, presumably long since declared deceased
Place of Birth
(as High Lama) Amazing Adventures #1 (1961); (as Ancient One) Strange Tales #110 (1963)
Strange Tales #148 (1966)
Bald with white beard, formerly black
To begin with his personal powers, the Ancient One mastered the art of astral projection, the mental ability to separate the astral self-the sheath of the soul, or life essence-from his physical self, and in this form traverse space unbounded by physical laws but fully retaining human consciousness. The astral form is invisible, intangible, and incapable of being harmed except by the most rigorous of mystical means. The astral form only possesses those magical powers residing in the sorcerer's mind (thought-casting, psycho kinesis, etc.) although it can also project bolts of mystical force that are effective only against other astral beings. In his prime the Ancient One possessed such mastery of astral form for up to 24 hours before his physical form would begin to undergo corporeal deterioration. The physical form was quite vulnerable to attack when the astral form was absent. While the Ancient One's astral form was absent, his physical form remained in a deathlike trance. If the Ancient One's physical form had been killed while he was in his astral form, he would have been stranded in his wraithlike state.
The Ancient One could mesmerize people to do his bidding, both in person and at a distance. The Ancient One could cast his thoughts over short or vast distances in a manner virtually identical with telepathy. The entire Earth was within the range of the Ancient One's mind, providing he knew where to contact the specific mind he was seeking. The Ancient One could simultaneously mentally communicate with up to a dozen minds at one time.
The Ancient One was also able to tap this universe's store of ambient magical energy mentally and to manipulate it mentally for a variety of effects. The Ancient One was able to form and hurl magical energy bolts with a high degree of potency and control. He was able to erect mystical energy shields or screens with a high degree of imperviousness to both physical and magical damage. He was able to use local magical energy for the conjuration of small physical objects or for unusual luminescent effects. The Ancient One could also transform one object into another, although the transformation only lasted for as long as he willed it. The Ancient One was sometimes able to utilize magical energy to teleport himself across the face of the Earth or into a mystical dimension (certain higher dimensions where the physical laws can be based more on magic than on scientific principles in numerous cases). Oddly enough, teleportation within a dimension is more taxing than teleportation between dimensions. Such expenditure of energy leaves all human sorcerers mystically debilitated for varying lengths of time. Physical teleportation across time rather than space is the most power-draining means of teleportation. Hence, in his later years, the Ancient One refrained from performing self-teleportation.
The Ancient One possessed a knowledge of a host of sorcerous spells and incantations invoking the names and aspects of various extradimensional objects and beings of power. The Ancient One was able to call upon these extradimensional sources of mystical power for very specific effects without taxing his own personal abilities. Some of these extradimensional phenomena included the Flames of the Faltine, the Shades of the Seraphim, and the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth.
In his extreme old age, the Ancient One was unable to perform major feats of sorcery without placing great physical strain upon himself.Upon his physical death, the Ancient One's spirit achieved mystical union with the universe. Hence, theoretically, the Ancient One may now be able to draw upon the vast mystical power of Eternity itself.
While Kaluu plotted further conquests and the people of Kamar-Taj fell into decadence, the paralyzed youth, whom Kaluu had placed in the public square as an object of ridicule, mentally called upon mystical forces to defeat Kaluu. However, the youth was not yet a full master of the mystic arts, and, although hr did not intend it, the mystic forces he summoned creates a pestilence that wiped out virtually the entire population of Kamar-Taj. Kaluu fled to another dimension. With Kaluu gone, the youth was freed from his paralysis. Ironically, Kaluu's spell had protected the youth from the full effect of the mystical pestilence: the youth was no longer immortal, but he would now age at a very slow rate, so that he would nor reach the end of his life span for five centuries.
Because of what he had witnessed in Kamar-Taj, the youth left the village in order to devote his life to combating other evil sorcerers. To this end, the youth sought out an ancient order of sorcerers whose elder members were known as Ancient Ones, and which was dedicated to protecting Earth's people from black magic. The youth continued his mystical studies with them, and rapidly became far more skilled in sorcery than his colleagues. His prowess was so great that he was the first Earth mortal to meet with Eternity, the sentient embodiment of the life forces of the universe, who presented him with the Eye of Agamotto, the Earth dimension's very first sorcerer supreme. The amulet enabled its possessor to protect his or her dimension from the sinister extradimensional entity known as Dormammu, and using it, the man who became known as the Ancient One kept Dormammu out of the Earth dimension for nearly five centuries, although he never succeeded in entirely defeating Dormammu. Through this and other feats, the man who became known as the Ancient One became recognized as the sorcerer supreme of the Earth dimension. The Ancient One further increased his knowledge even within the last century by traveling back in time to ancient Babylonia, defeating the gryphon whom the priests of the Babylonian god Marduk had set guard over the Book of the Vishanti, and thus obtained the book, the greatest known source of "white" magical knowledge.Baron Karl Mordo of Transylvania, who wished to become his pupil. The Ancient One was nearing the end of his long life and realized he needed a successor. Although he recognized Mordo's evil ambitions, he also sensed Mordo's talent for sorcery, and he decided that he could at best convert Mordo to the service of good and at worst keep him in check.
Sometime later, a gifted but somewhat amoral surgeon, Doctor Strange, sought out the Ancient One to cure his hands, which had been injured in an automobile accident in a way that prevented him from holding his surgeon's tools with the complete steadiness that was necessary to perform surgery. While staying at the Ancient One's palace in the Himalayas, Strange learned that Mordo was plotting against the Ancient One. Mordo placed a spell upon Strange which prevented him from warning the Ancient One about Mordo, but the Ancient One freed Strange of the spell and assured him that he was aware of Mordo's evil nature. Having witnessed the power of good and evil magic in action, Strange found a new, higher purpose in life, and became the Ancient One's disciple. Mordo left the Ancient One's tutelage sometime afterwards to embark on his career of evil. Dr. Strange, on the other hand, remained with the Ancient One for years, proved to be highly talented in the mystic arts, and eventually became the Ancient One's successor as sorcerer supreme.Living Tribunal, and the Ancient One, still in possession of his powers, was reunited with Dr. Strange some days later.
In recent years, Doctor Strange inherited the title of Sorcerer Supreme, having achieved in mere decades the skill level it had taken the Ancient One almost two centuries to reach. The Ancient One continued to advise Strange as necessary and tended to by the last of his servants, Hamir, occasionally aided by Strange against enemies, including Kaluu.Shuma-Gorath sought to enter the Earth dimension via the Ancient One’s mind, the Ancient One prompted Strange to kill his physical body rather than allow Shuma-Gorath passage. Although physically dead, the Ancient One has since manifested in astrial form in both the present and the past for various purposes.