The Priors of the Ori are a special class of missionaries whose role it is to spread the teachings of Origin, to convert new worlds to the religion, and to punish those who stray from the path. The Priors are human, and in most cases they begin their service as monks in the holy city of Celestis where they train and prepare to accept their calling. Those who are worthy are brought before the Flames of Enlightenment where the flames that are the embodiment of the Ori enter their bodies, and a transformation takes place. The Priors take on a ghostly appearance, with a pale complexion and whitened eyes, and they tend to speak and move slowly and deliberately, almost as if in a trance.
Through the power of the Ori, the Priors are more highly evolved, and they are granted special powers and insights into the secrets of the universe. They carry a staff upon which rests a pale blue crystal that helps to channel much of their power when the crystal glows. Priors have powerful telekinetic abilities, however they must be focused for their powers to work. To demonstrate the omnipotence of the Ori, Priors use their powers both to create and to destroy. With the power of their minds they may perform miracles, grow crops, heal the sick, or even restore the dead. In retribution, they have the ability to produce fire, to levitate, deflect, or strangle an enemy, to cause pain or torture, spread disease, or spark a global pandemic. Their powers provide them with protection as well, allowing them to disarm or deflect weapons, to walk through fire, or survive in a toxic environment. Because Ori warships use a main command interface keyed to the unique brain physiology of the Priors, it is the Priors who pilot the Ori ships using mind control.
It is the role of the Priors to spread the word of Origin. The usual procedure is to visit a new world, proclaim the power of their faith with "Hallowed are the Ori," share parables and miracles, and leave a copy of the Book of Origin behind, then return later and offer the population a choice to follow Origin or be destroyed by poison, plague, or natural disaster. In doing so, the Priors act as pawns of the Ori. They truly believe the Ori promise of ascension even though it is a lie, and the more worlds the Priors convert, the more powerful the Ori become. However, the Priors are only the first wave in the Ori's holy crusade. By bringing new followers to Origin, they prepare for the Day of Reckoning that is to come.
SG-1 first encountered the Priors when Daniel and Vala used the Ancient communication terminal to communicate with the Ori galaxy through the bodies of Harrid and Sallis. In the village of Ver Ager, Vala was accused of heresy and was burned alive, but a Prior appeared, and with the power of his staff he extinguished the fire and restored her to life. He also escorted Daniel and Vala to Celestis to meet with the Doci, the leader of the Priors, and on the orders of the Doci, he used Daniel and Vala to discover heretics among the population. Using telekinesis, he killed Fannis, and he condemned Daniel and Vala, in the bodies of Harrid and Sallis, to be burned alive at the Ara.
From Daniel, the Ori learned of the existence of the Milky Way Galaxy, and they began to send Priors through the stargate to convert new worlds in this galaxy. The first appeared on P3X-421, preaching parables and performing miracles. He was brought to Earth for questioning, but he responded only in the vague rhetoric of the Ori, then as his staff began to glow, he burst into flames, and vanished.
Priors had been reported on as many as 43 different planets in the Milky Way Galaxy when SG-1 next encountered a Prior on P8X-412. This Prior had been the Administrator in the village of Ver Ager. As a reward for his loyalty and his role in the deaths of Harrid and Sallis, he had been brought before the Flames of Enlightenment and transformed into a Prior. He warned of the approaching Day of Reckoning, and through his staff he brought about a plague among the unbelievers of P8X-412. His telepathic powers protected him from P-90 gunfire, and when SG-1 was powerless to stop him, the people bowed to his power. By curing the population, even restoring to life those who had died, he brought the planet under Ori control.
On Kallana, a Prior threatened retribution for the unbelievers among the Jaffa on that world, then he created a force field around the stargate in preparation for the creation of an Ori supergate. The Prior remained alive within the force field, unaffected by the toxic atmosphere, until the planet collapsed into a singularity, at which time he was certain he would achieve ascension.
Another Prior had visited both the Sodan world of P9G-844 and the more primitive desert world of P2X-885, from which an SGC officer returned to Earth as a carrier of the Prior plague. As the plague rapidly advanced to become a global pandemic on Earth, the SGC struggled to find a cure and confronted the Prior upon his return to the Sodan. A newly developed anti-prior device temporarily neutralized the Prior's higher brain functions, enabling SG-1 to subdue him and acquire a blood sample from which to synthesize a vaccine. However, they were unsuccessful in convincing the Prior of the truth about the Ori. Before becoming a Prior, his name had been Damaris, and he had left behind a wife and two sons in pursuit of the false promise of ascension. He would not be swayed, and he prophesied the coming of the final victory when the Ori would destroy the Ancients, but as he began to overcome the effects of the anti-prior device and regain his powers, Mitchell shot and killed him with his sidearm.
Meanwhile, the former Administrator-turned-Prior arrived on Dakara and found a willing ally in Gerak, the influential leader of the Jaffa. Gerak became convinced that the Ori were the true gods whom the Jaffa sought, and he was in turn transformed into a Prior. Forced to choose between the promises of his new gods and the lives of his own people, however, Gerak's faith began to waiver, and he agreed to return to Earth with Teal'c. The Prior plague still raged on Earth, but Gerak, knowing that it would mean his own death, defiantly planted his staff, sending a wave of energy that cured the plague, before he burst into flames and vanished.
Many other worlds were visited by the Priors, including Tegalus, which was nearly destroyed by the Prior plague and by an advanced Ori satellite weapon that sparked a global war. Other worlds experienced an infestation of carnivorous insects designated by the SGC as R75. The Sodan were also wiped out for treason against the Ori when a Prior cursed the Sodan warrior Volnek, causing him to fall ill and kill all of his own people. P9C-882 was spared from the Prior's wrath only by Merlin's phase shifting device that made the village seem to disappear.
In Ver Isca in the Ori galaxy, a Prior brought word to Vala that the child she carried was "the will of the Ori," and aboard the Ori starcraft as it entered the Milky Way Galaxy, he presided over the birth of Vala's daughter, proclaiming her to be the Orici. With the invasion of the galaxy, Priors piloted the Ori warships and attended Adria and the Ori warriors as they conquered and converted new worlds.
Even Daniel Jackson himself became a Prior at the hand of Adria, however his transformation was temporary due to the genetic programming that Merlin had left behind in his body. When Merlin's weapon was activated and sent to the Ori galaxy, there was no way to know if it had been effective against the ascended Ori. Nevertheless, the Priors, as their unquestioning followers, continue to lead the armies in their name.
Portrayed by: Mark Houghton, Larry Cedar, Greg Anderson, Ian Butcher, William B. Davis, Louis Gossett Jr., Morris Chapdelaine, Doug Abrahams, Peter Nicholas Smyth, Michael Shanks
Cross Reference: Administrator, Anti-Prior Device, Book of Origin, Celestis, Dakara, Damaris, Day of Reckoning, Doci, Doomsday, Flames of Enlightenment, Gerak, Daniel Jackson, Kallana, Ori, Origin, Ori Warship, P3X-421, P8X-412, P9C-882, Prior Plague, Prior Staff, R75, Sodan, Supergate, Tegalus, Tevaris, Ver Ager, Ver Isca
Episode Reference: Avalon, Origin, The Powers That Be, Beachhead, Babylon, The Fourth Horseman, Arthur's Mantle, Crusade, Flesh and Blood, Counterstrike, The Quest, Line in the Sand, The Shroud