From Destinypedia, the Destiny wiki
The Great Machine
- "The best voices never let themselves be heard at all. This lesson is worth teaching again and again. The choice is never mine. It is always yours."
- — The Traveler
The Traveler is a mysterious spherical paracausal entity associated with the Light. Massive in scale, it hangs motionless in the skies above the Last City built in its shadow. Once responsible for terraforming the worlds of the Sol System, it was rendered largely inactive during the Collapse, when its ancient enemy arrived and launched a devastating assault on human civilization.
The Traveler is an ancient and immensely powerful machine entity, the source of Ghosts and the paracausal powers of the Guardians. It is a source of Light, though not the only source in the universe. Its outer shell is made of lead, neutronium and "electroweak matter", the latter based on a fundamental force that hasn't existed since the dawn of time.
The interior workings of the Traveler remain a mystery. The Ghost Balthazar claimed that Ghosts originate within the Womb, a place inside the Traveler described as a "cosmos inside a bottle" or an "infinite space enclosed within a celestial egg", where trillions of star-like souls orbit each other in a complex weave. Another Ghost named Peach was dismissive of this description, contending that neither she nor Balthazar can remember the time within the Traveler.Fenchurch Everis claims to have been inside the Traveler, but no one has been able to confirm the veracity of his story.
Origins and Purpose
The origins and true nature of the Traveler are unknown. Some information can be gleaned from the poem known as Dreams of Alpha Lupi; based on this work, it appears that the Traveler chose Earth and humanity for a reason; it detected a "face" emerging from the Sun, later hearing a roar that contained something that it described as "a lucid melody". The Traveler felt joy, as it felt "the first hope in ages transform [it]," and it resolved to become strong enough to fight the Darkness.
The Traveler seems to be motivated by pure altruism; it has never wished to be worshipped as a god, nor has it made its presence known any more than necessary to cultivate a civilization. In the past, whenever its work was finished, it would simply leave without fanfare. It would seem then that its defense of humanity was an extraordinary act under dire circumstances.
Saint-14 suggested that the Traveler had previously visited other species before finding humanity. The Fallen civilization in particular once hosted the Traveler, which they named the Great Machine. However, it left their system around the time of a catastrophic event only known as the Whirlwind. Other than the likely involvement of the Hive, little is known about this event, though it is thought to be similar to humanity's Collapse. After the destruction of their homeworld, the Fallen went in search of the Great Machine, leading them to the Sol System. All of their previous conflicts with humanity have been attempts to claim the Traveler for themselves, either in an effort to prevent the destruction of their race, or to destroy the Traveler in vengeance.
Other species the Traveler has also uplifted include the Ammonites and the Harmony. The Cabal are aware of the Traveler's existence and nature, with some indications that they knew of it from other species. Ghaul in particular wanted to receive the same power as the Guardians, believing himself to be more worthy. It is later described in the lorebook Constellations that the Traveler felt more afraid of Ghaul, the Red Legion, and the cage device than its ancient arch-enemy itself, the Darkness. 
The Hive uniquely hold the Traveler in special contempt, as it embodies the antithesis of their culture and society. One of the objectives of their crusade is to hunt down and destroy the Traveler once and for all.
The Ancient Past
The origins of the Traveler are unknown. It is known to have existed for billions of years, during which time it has visited countless intelligent species, aiding their civilizations by paracausally terraforming inhospitable planets or realigning unstable orbits, among other things. It is known to have visited the Lubraeans, the Harmony, and the Ammonite billions of years before the present day.
The Golden Age
- "Traveling. Moon X. Look, we need to stop even thinking of it as a satellite or a false moon. It's big, but it acts alive— this thing moves with purpose. It's a visitor. It's… a Traveler."
- — Evie Calumet
The Traveler first came to human attention when it appeared around Jupiter and terraformed two of its moons. Initially dubbed "Moon X", it quickly became the center of international attention. After finishing its work on Jupiter, it vanished for fourteen months, reappeared to terraform Mercury, vanished again for seven months, and then appeared again to terraform Venus. Questions about the identity of Moon X abounded, and cults worshiping it emerged, some of which fell into conflict. Other cults held demonstrations calling for the unification of Earth's governments.
When Moon X was detected approaching Mars, a mission to intercept it was hastily organized. Initially known as Project Catamaran, the effort was renamed Ares One on the day of launch. Four individuals were chosen to be apart of this historic mission: Jacob Hardy, the pilot and mission commander; Evie Calumet, a theoretical physicist who first discovered Moon X; Qiao, the navigator; and M. Mihaylova, an artificial intelligence specialist. While the team played a game of basketball and brainstormed ideas for the mission, Evie dubbed Moon X as the "Traveler" due it moving with a seeming purpose. By the time the ship landed on Mars, the Traveler had brought the first rain to the desert planet. It helped humanity expand across the solar system, teaching humans new technologies, helping them terraform planets and leading humanity into a Golden Age.
- "The knife had a million blades."
- — Dreams of Alpha Lupi
Some time later, the Traveler's enemy, the Black Fleet, appeared in the solar system, leading to the destruction of almost all human civilization in an event known as the Collapse. For the first time, the Traveler decided to stand and fight the Black Fleet, as it abandoned its work on Io and raced to rescue its "children", humanity. At the end of the wars that terminated the Golden Age, the Traveler, in its sacrificial last gift to humanity, came to rest over a small area of the now wasted human planet. The Traveler laid dormant, apparently stripped of its senses and "flesh" by the Darkness, made blind, deaf and mute to the outside world.  As humanity struggled to rebuild itself from these events, the crippled object gifted its protection and powers to the recovering humans. Although the times after the war were difficult, humanity persevered and with the help of this celestial guardian, and the humans eventually began to re-explore their terrestrial and solar domain.
The Dark Age
In its last breath, the Traveler created the Ghosts, to seek out those who can wield its light as a weapon. The Ghosts revived fallen warriors as Lightbearers, with the intent of protecting humanity when the Traveler no longer could. Unfortunately, many Lightbearers would choose to become Warlords, subjugating the survivors of the Collapse throughout the Dark Age, where humanity faced the threat of not only the Warlords and the hardships of survival, but also the threat of alien races such as the Fallen. Lightbearers with integrity would band together to stand up to the Warlords in groups such as the Iron Lords or the Pilgrim Guard. Over time, the Warlords would be beaten back.
The City Age
- "I wish for something to grow in my shadow."
- — Constellations
The remnants of humanity built the City beneath the resting place of the Traveler, where they were safe from the continuous onslaught of the various alien races and the now-declining Warlords. This city rests in the shade of the great sphere, built under its protective aura as a last bastion of humanity. Over time, the people of the early City formed factions, dividing it and marking the beginning of the Faction Wars, which threatened to bring the City to its knees. It was during this time that a new generation of Lightbearers known as the Guardians emerged, taking a stand to end the fighting to focus on the outside alien threats. The Guardians are destined to protect this city and its inhabitants, and as such are gifted with some of the magnificent powers of the Traveler. Some believe that the Traveler chose Earth for a reason, and it is humanity's obligation to prove itself worthy of its light.
With the Darkness returning, humanity fears they will not be able to survive it this time. As a last ditch effort, the player is given the ultimate task of attempting to wake the Traveler before the Darkness arrives, in order to drive it back. The Guardians are able to help the Traveler slowly restore its light, first by stopping a Hive ritual in the Chamber of Night that is siphoning light from the Traveler, and then destroying the heart of the Black Garden.
- "In this dream, a horrible, brutal hand stretches toward you. But this is not the old enemy you know, it is something new."
- — Constellations
Two years after the Taken War, the Cabal Empire's Red Legion launched a major invasion of Earth headed by the leader of the empire, Dominus Ghaul. A devastating surprise attack on the Last City was launched, trapping the Traveler in a cage to siphon off its Light while separating it from the Guardian forces. Though trapped, the Traveler sent visions to the now Lightless Guardians to seek out one of its fragments in the European Dead Zone, whereby they could regain their powers. Dominus Ghaul attempted and failed to win the Traveler's approval to make him into a Guardian, and simply took the Light by force. When he gloated in front of the Traveler, the Traveler suddenly broke its cage and destroyed Ghaul, as well as slowly healing itself by drawing fragments back into itself. With the invasion ended and the city retaken, the Traveler was declared no longer dead but living once more.
Despite having awoken, the Traveler has still remained hovering above the Last City and has not taken any direct action. However, Benedict 99-40 claims that the Traveler has been busy.
A year after the Traveler woke, Ikora Rey revealed that the Traveler had been speaking to her and several other Guardians through visions since its awakening. Ikora then instructs Guardians to follow visions of light. Eventually, the visions lead the Guardians to Io, where the remnant light there grants them new abilities.
An Old Foe Returns
As the Guardians continued to protect the Last City and the Solar System from various threats, ranging from a looming Lunar Hive Fortress, a resurgent Vex invasion, scheming Psion Flayers looking to subvert time, to the Red Legion superweapon, The Almighty being turned into a kamikaze weapon directed towards the Last City, the Traveler's old enemy, the Darkness, slowly made its way towards the system. Though the Guardians soon gained a glimpse of the Darkness from their discovery of a Pyramid on Luna, the threat continued to ominously hang over them, especially as the Darkness made contact with The Guardian, addressing them not as their enemy nor their friend but as their "salvation".
In time, following the Almighty's destruction, a massive fleet of Pyramid vessels descended upon the Sol System, confirming the Vanguard's fears that the Traveler's counterpart has returned. However, as the Guardians work in deciphering what the Darkness wants, the Traveler continues to hang motionless over the Last City, even as the Pyramids touch down on various worlds. Even Zavala noted that the Traveler appeared to do nothing to combat its ancient enemy. Nonetheless, the Guardians continue to work diligently on figuring out the purposes in the messages the Darkness is sending while protecting their holdouts in the system.
As the Pyramids approached and consumed Io, Mars, Mercury and Titan, the Traveler, in an event which saw all fireteams return to the Last City to witness it, gathered light in order to repair the damage which had been caused by the events of the Red War.
The Traveler later called out to the Crow, sending him dreams of flying over the European Dead Zone and other areas he had previously visited. When the Guardian went to investigate the locations featured in these dreams, they discovered paracausal feathers at each site. Later, the Crow and the Guardian went to a region of the EDZ featured in these dreams, and were led by a spectral hawk made of Light to a previously-undiscovered shard of the Traveler. On top of the shard lay an effigy of the Hand Cannon Hawkmoon, crafted out of the material of the Traveler's outer shell.
During the events of The Witch Queen, The Guardian discovers that the Traveler purposely chose Savathûn, the Witch Queen and her Lucent Brood for an unknown purpose. Through usage of the Relic on Mars, it is learned that The Witness tricked the Hive into becoming its servants to avoid them being uplifted by the Traveler itself, like what occurred with many other civilizations. As a method of protecting the Traveler from destruction, the Light-bearing Savathûn attempts a ritual to bring the Traveler into her throne world, after which she would seal off entry for all beings. Despite succeeding in drawing the Traveler in, Savathûn is defeated at her own game and the spell is broken, causing the Traveler to return to the Last City's sky. Whether it truly wished to be brought to the throne world, wishing for the Hive to supplant the Humans, Exo, and Awoken as its Guardians, and if it even purposely chose the Hive, is still unknown.
The Traveler's emission of Light appears to undergo cyclical fluctuations. These fluctuations are tracked by the Tower and reported over loudspeaker in the Tower North. Traveler status announcements include:
- "Traveler at 1 revolution per zenith."
- "Traveler approaching zenith."
- "Traveler entering zenith."
- "Traveler intensity at zenith."
- "Traveler exiting zenith."
- "Traveler declining 1 revolution per zenith."
- "Traveler entering declining phase."
- "Traveler entering retrograde phase."
- "Traveler entering equilibrium."
- "Traveler approaching theta state."
- "Traveler entering theta state."
- "Traveler in theta state."
- "Traveler exiting epicycle. Returning to main cycle."
- "Traveler at minimum valence. The Light persists."
The Traveler, captured by the Red Legion.
- The Traveler first appeared in another Bungie game, Halo 3: ODST, where a hidden poster made it appear innocuously like the Moon.
- The Traveler's size has changed over the course of development. Early concept art depicts a Traveler the size of a small moon orbiting Earth, while its finalized appearance in the game shows it hovering much closer to Earth's surface, within the atmosphere, and roughly the size of the Last City. According to a Reddit post made on /r/DestinytheGame, players were able to determine the Traveler's in-game size (as seen from the Tower and Bannerfall) as 1.2 kilometres in radius. Destiny 2 concept art (see gallery) revealed that the Traveler's diameter is seemingly fourteen kilometers.
- The terms "Retrograde", "Zenith", "Epicycle" "Theta State" and "Valence" are used in tracking the Traveler's Light output.
- "Retrograde", "Zenith", "Epicycle" are astronomical terms. In astronomy, the zenith is the point at which something appears directly overhead relative to an object or observer. Epicycle is a former astronomical term which was once used to describe the motions of other planets, relative to Earth, but has since been disproven; however, it still finds use in astrology. It was based on the old "geocentric" belief that the heavens and all objects within it travelled around the Earth. Observers would often note that the planets seemed to slow and change their trajectories in the course of their passage across the night sky, appearing to trace loops in their orbits relative to the stars behind them. This led to the concept of an epicycle: or a smaller rotation of a planet around a barycenter in the course of its larger rotation around the Earth itself. The period in which a planet appeared to slow and descend into a loop, just prior to appearing to move backwards, was known as the declining or descending phase. The period during which the planet traced the bottom half of the loop, appearing to move in the opposite direction from its orbital path is known as the retrograde phase. "Equilibrium" denotes the point at which the planet ceases to move backwards and begins to ascend out of the loop and into its normal orbital path once again, denoting the end of that particular epicycle. This particular astronomical theory was eventually proven to be an optical illusion after Copernicus introduced the then-radical notion that the Earth was not the center of existence & that all planetary bodies within the solar system, including Earth, revolved around the Sun. Johannes Kepler later proved that the so-called "epicycles" were the result of the Earth's orbital position relative to that of the planet being observed.
- The term "Theta State" refers to a Theta Rhythm, which is an oscillatory pattern of brainwave activity in electroencephalography (EEG). This rhythm occurs within the human brain's hippocampal and neocortical regions at between 4 Hz. and 7 Hz. In both regions, these signals have been associated with transitioning from a dream-state to wakefulness, as well as a state of deep meditation.
- In chemistry, the "Valence" of an element is a measure of its ability to bond with other atoms when it forms chemical compounds or molecules.
- These terms are drawn from three different fields of science and the exact manner in which they apply to the Traveler's Light output is unclear at this time, save that they are used to indicate a repeating pattern.
- The Festival of the Lost features a mask of the Traveler that can be obtained by players, and which is worn by the Speaker for the duration of the event. The back of the mask is marked by the tricorn symbol worn by the Speaker and included in Destiny's logo.
- According to Fenchurch Everis, the inside of the Traveler "smells faintly of vanilla".
- The pre-Golden Age magazine depicting the Traveler shows it in a damaged state, although it only became damaged during the Collapse, as seen with the Destiny 1 intro and simulations of the past in the Infinite Forest, where it can be seen undamaged in the background.
List of Appearances
- Law of the Jungle (First appearance)
- Destiny 2
- Bungie (2020/11/10), Destiny 2: Beyond Light, Playstation 4, Mysterious Logbook: NOTE—Third Vision
- Bungie (2014/9/9), Destiny, PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: Ghost Fragment: The Traveler
- Bungie (2018/9/4), Destiny 2: Forsaken, Activision Blizzard - Lore: Ghost Stories: Difference of Opinion
- Bungie (2014/9/9), Destiny, PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: Ghost Fragment: Earth
- Bungie (2014/9/9), Destiny, PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: Ghost Fragment: The Traveler 2
- Bungie (2014/9/9), Destiny, PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: The Darkness
- Bungie (2014/9/9), Destiny: PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: Mystery: Vault of Glass
- " Gameinformer: What's Going On In Destiny's Story, Anyway?
- Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, Item Description: Doom of Chelchis
- Bungie (2015/5/19), Destiny: House of Wolves Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: Variks, The Loyal
- YouTube - Destiny 2 – "Gameplay Premiere Livestream (US)"
- Bungie (2019/12/10), Destiny 2: Season of Dawn, Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, Lore: Constellations: Entry IX
- Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard Grimoire: XXXVI: Eater of Hope
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Lore: Shattered Suns: Provoked
- Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: XLV: I'd shut them all in cells.
- Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: XIV: 52 and One
- Bungie (2018/8/5), Destiny 2: Warmind Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, Hardy's Journey
- Bungie (2018/8/5), Destiny 2: Warmind Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, Hardy's Calm
- Bungie (2018/8/5), Destiny 2: Warmind Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, Qiao's Strides
- Bungie (2018/8/5), Destiny 2: Warmind Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, Hardy's Orders
- Bungie (2018/8/5), Destiny 2: Warmind Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, Hardy's Control
- Bungie (2018/8/5), Destiny 2: Warmind Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, Qiao's Care
- Bungie (2014/9/9), Destiny, PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: Ghost Fragment: Human
- Bungie Destiny Story
- YouTube - Destiny: Official E3 Gameplay Experience Trailer
- Gameinformer: Jason Jones – The Destiny Interview
- Bungie (2014/9/9), Destiny, PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: Ghost Fragment: The Traveler 3
- Game Informer January 2014, page 52
- Bungie (2014/6/12), Destiny: Alpha PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: Ghosts
- Gameinformer, What's Going On In Destiny's Story – 2016 Edition
- Bungie (2019/3/5), Destiny 2: Season of the Drifter, Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, Lore: Ecdysis: War Hammer
- Bungie (2014/12/10), Destiny: The Taken King, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: Rezyl Azzir - Before These Walls
- YouTube: Reveal Trailer - Official Destiny ViDoc: Pathways Out of Darkness
- Bungie (2014/6/12), Destiny: Alpha PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: Human
- Bungie (2014/9/9), Destiny: Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard
- Polygon - Watch the first teaser for Destiny 2
- YouTube - Destiny 2 – "Rally the Troops" Worldwide Reveal Trailer
- Ben Hanson, How Bungie Teased Destiny In Halo 3: ODST (GameInformer, Jan. 9, 2014)
- reddit: We found the traveler's size! (using parallax on bannerfall) ("Used parallax and private matches to try to figure out the size of the traveler.")
- Destiny Tracker: Traveler Mask