Hey there friends, patrons, and fellow mythical astronomers! It’s a very special day today – it’s the R+L=J episode. It’s fitting that the fandom has come to refer to Jon’s secret parentage with an equation, what might also be called a formula or even a recipe, because Jon’s conception and birth is indeed symbolic of a formula with greater importance for the story – it’s the recipe for making ice dragons! What do I mean by that? Well, we’re going to talk about that today of course, but in short, the ice dragons I’m referring to are the Others, and the last hero – more specifically, the Others and the new last hero figure known as Jon Snow, the frozen version of Azor Ahai reborn.
Jon is a symbolic ice dragon by virtue of his parents’ symbolism. Rhaegar is a black dragon figure, and he gives his seed to Lyanna Stark of the blue winter rose. Similarly, the Others are created when Night’s King gives his seed to the moon-pale, ice-cold Night’s Queen. If Night’s King was a blood of the dragon person as I propose, then his creating Others with Night’s Queen expresses the same pattern as R + L = J: a black dragon figure has his fiery seed “frozen” in the cold womb of an ice queen, with Lyanna being a symbolic ice queen and Night’s Queen being a literal one.
This creates a parallel between Jon and the Others, and in the last episode, The Long Night Was His to Rule, we saw that Jon does seem to share some amount of symbolism with the Others, such as his being called Lord Snow, his dreaming of being armored in ice, and then there was that funny line where the Other-like wildlings were crossing through the Wall and it said “Others smiled at him like long- lost kin.” This seems a perplexing mystery at first, but by the end of this episode I think we are going to understand it well.
So in terms of mythical astronomy archetypes, R + L = J translates to “dark solar king (Rhaegar) + icy moon queen (Lyanna) = ice dragon children (Jon).” That’s our recipe, and as with all major symbolic patterns in ASOIAF, it has a celestial companion, a heavenly mirroring of the archetypal drama on the ground. That’s what mythical astronomy as a concept is all about, after all!
You all know what the dark solar king is by now, I think I’ve repeated it enough times – it’s the darkened sun of the Long Night. The sun is darkened first by the fire moon moving into the Gods Eye eclipse position (wandering too close to the sun, as it says in the Qarthine legend), and then by the dust and debris from the fire moon’s explosion (the waves of night symbolism). In both cases, it is the combination of the fire moon and the sun which creates the “dark sun.” This is basically like saying Azor Ahai become a dark lord after killing his wife, Nissa Nissa. Killing the moon maiden is an evil act, and it transforms the solar king.
I: Astronomy Explains the Legends of I&F
II: The Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai
III: Waves of Night and Moon Blood
IV: The Mountain vs. the Viper and the Hammer of the Waters
V: Tyrion Targaryen
VI: Lucifer means Lightbringer
So, up in the sky, fire moon appears to combine with the sun, creating the Gods Eye eclipse symbol, then explodes in meteor dragon childbirth to creates the dark sun symbol. These black fire moon meteors can be now seen as the dark solar king’s sword or seed, as I mentioned last time. And in a two moon system, it is inevitable that if one moon exploded, in whole or in part, some of the shrapnel would strike the other moon, which would be the ice moon. When one of those dark solar king star seeds impregnates the nearby ice moon, that is the ice dragon recipe in action, the celestial version of RLJ. It’s the dark solar king – think Rhaegar or Night’s King – giving his star seed to the icy moon queen, who is like Night’s Queen or Lyanna.
In other words, and I just want make this crystal clear, what I’m proposing – this one celestial chain reaction scenario mirrors both the conception of Jon and the creation of the Others. Whether in the sky or on the ground, it’s the same pattern: a night-associated black dragon figure giving his seed to an icy moon figure.
This creates two kinds of ice dragon children: the black dragon meteor that strikes the ice moon and becomes trapped in the ice, and the pieces of ice moon that would have been chipped off by the impact. The black dragon locked in the ice moon represents Jon, who is in so many ways depicted as a black dragon or crow lodged in ice and snow. Just to scratch the surface, you may recall the line from Bran’s coma dream about Jon, the one that comes just before Bran set eyes on that terrifying Heart of Winter and its dawn lights of the north: “He saw the Wall shining like blue crystal, and his bastard brother Jon sleeping alone in a cold bed, his skin growing pale and hard as the memory of all warmth fled from him.” Don’t worry, we’ll be expanding on this in detail later today.
As for the Others, they symbolize the pieces of ice moon that would have been chipped off by the impact – ice moon meteor dragons in other words. Hence the cold burning star eyes of the Others, I believe, which signify their status as cold falling star people. As I set out in the very first Moons of Ice and Fire episode, the Others parallel the dragons as symbols of falling stars of the moon meteor variety, with the dragons “coming from the moon” according to legend and the Others coming from a moon-pale icy priestess. They come from this ice moon queen only when Night’s King gives her his dragon seed, mimicking the celestial sequence that has ice moon meteors coming from the ice moon when it is struck by a black meteor.
We can also see that this hypothetical celestial sequence matches the myths about the Others coming for the first time during the Long Night. The fire moon explosion begins the Long Night, and as an immediate consequence, the ice moon is struck and impregnated, yielding up some icy moon meteors. Those ice moon meteors are analogous to the Others, and they would have indeed come shortly after the fall of the Long Night, as the Others did. It’s not really the topic of today’s episode, but according to my theory, one of those ice moon meteors would have been the pale stone from which Dawn was made.
Sometimes, I have to say, I feel like drawing diagrams for this stuff. Martin has his own way of doing this – he describes an eclipse by telling us that the moon wandered too close to the sun, he has Yoren draw pictures in the dirt with a stick, or he uses House Sigils like this one from House Pryor which shows a black moon sliding into eclipse position, or Euron’s Crows Eye sigil which looks a lot like my own eclipse-eye logo. He uses family trees quite a lot. But the very best diagrams of what seems to be happening in space come from the dragon-on-dragon battles. There’s one in particular involving Vhagar the symbolic ice dragon which acts as a perfect visual depiction of this whole dragon locked in ice concept, and I think it will seem less abstract and esoteric if we start with a “diagram,” as it were, as a prelude to RLJ.
As strange as this sounds, this dragon battle will essentially be dramatization of Jon’s conception, I want you to keep that in mind. Of course, it will be simultaneously be showing us the fire moon meteor lodging in the ice moon, because that’s how this works. As above, so below.
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Alright, now to a fictional story of an uncle and a nephew using dragons to kill each other over a lake.
Crouching Daemon, Flying Dragon
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The dragon-on-dragon fight that takes place over the Gods Eye lake between Daemon Targaryen riding Caraxes the Bloodwyrm and Aemond One-Eye Targayen riding Vhagar is one of my very favorite pieces of mythical astronomy in the entire series. It’s really tremendous because the Gods Eye concept is spelled out with a sky-ground parallel. The lake correlates to the sun, and the Isle of Faces to the fire moon, and that’s highlighted in the middle of a fight where the fire moon dragon blocks the sun and makes an eclipse, with the end of the fight giving us both dragons falling to the Gods Eye lake, bringing the above and below versions of the metaphor smashing together.
I’ve been saving it for a special occasion, and it seems that the RLJ episode is that occasion.
As you will recall, when Vhagar the “hoary old bitch” dragon is ridden Aemond One-Eye Targaryen, with his blue star sapphire eye, they combine to make the ice dragon symbol, and thus the ice moon symbol (particularly since Vhagar is referred to as a she-dragon). In the last Vhagar dragon battle, we had a red dragon, Meleys the Red Queen, playing the fire moon role, and in this fight we have another red dragon, Caraxes the Bloodwyrm, who I think is also representing the fire moon.
More specifically, Caraxes and Daemon are playing the role of a fiery dragon meteor coming from the fire moon explosion. A star seed of the dark sun, in other words. Daemon Targyen and his black armor adds the black, while the dragon is red with black horns and accents. Most importantly, Daemon wields Dark Sister, a smoke-dark Valyrian steel sword. At the beginning of the fight, we will see Caraxes move into an “eclipse alignment” and divebomb from the direction of the sun, depicting the transformation of a fire moon into a fire moon meteor, or said another way, a dark star seed coming from the dark sun.
Daemon himself is easy to identify as an evil Azor Ahai, dark solar king type. Just as Night’s King was a usurper king whose brother was said to be the Stark King of Winter, Daemon declared himself the “King of the Narrow Sea” when he quarreled with his brother, the rightful king Viserys I, thereby setting himself up as a kind of rival or usurper king. Fantastically, Daemon made his seat on Bloodstone Island in the Stepstones, giving him a great tie to the Bloodstone Emperor, who is kind of the original usurping dark solar king. Daemon also shares his name with his grandson, Daemon Blackfyre, who bore the sword Blackfyre and loved it so much he named his house after it, thus conferring even more dark solar king / black dragon symbolism onto Daemon.
So we have an evil Azor Ahai figure in Daemon, riding a fire moon dragon, Caraxes… and of course they are coming for Vhagar, our ice moon symbol.
I have quoted this scene before, but with the ice moon ideas in mind, it takes on new meaning and deserves another look:
Prince Daemon took Caraxes up swiftly, lashing him with a steel-tipped whip until they disappeared into a bank of clouds. Vhagar, older and much the larger, was also slower, made ponderous by her very size, and ascended more gradually, in ever widening circles that took her and her rider out over the waters of the Gods Eye. The hour was late, the sun was close to setting, and the lake was calm, its surface glimmering like a sheet of beaten copper. Up and up she soared, searching for Caraxes as Alys Rivers watched from atop Kingspyre Tower in Harrenhal below.
The attack came sudden as a thunderbolt. Caraxes dove down upon Vhagar with a piercing shriek that was heard a dozen miles away, cloaked by the glare of the setting sun on Prince Aemond’s blind side. The Blood Wyrm slammed into the older dragon with terrible force. Their roars echoed across the Gods Eye as the two grappled and tore at one another, dark against a blood red sky. So bright did their flames burn that fisherfolk below feared the clouds themselves had caught fire. Locked together, the dragons tumbled toward the lake. The Blood Wyrm’s jaws closed about Vhagar’s neck, her black teeth sinking deep into the flesh of the larger dragon. Even as Vhagar’s claws raked her belly open and Vhagar’s own teeth ripped away a wing, Caraxes bit deeper, worrying at the wound as the lake rushed up below them with terrible speed.
What’s happened here is that the Caraxes and Daemon first create the Gods Eye eclipse alignment by attacking with the setting sun at their back, just as the moon wandered too close to the sun before exploding if fiery dragon meteor childbirth. As if to reflect that alignment, the Gods Eye lake, which is analogous to the sun in the Gods Eye eclipse alignment, shines like beaten copper, which is a solar symbol (think of Drogo’s face like a copper mask, for example). Their red and black dive-bomb attack mimics a fire moon meteor flying from the eclipse alignment, and it lands…
…in the ice moon symbol, Vhagar ridden Aemond One-Eye. The idea of a black meteor embedding in the ice is implied by the Bloodwyrm slamming into Vhagar with terrible force, by Caraxes’ black teeth “sinking deep into the flesh” of the white dragon, and there’s one more thing… that thing which I like to call “the most badass thing anyone ever did in Westeros:”
And it was then, the tales tell us, that Prince Daemon Targaryen swung a leg over his saddle and leapt from one dragon to the other. In his hand was Dark Sister, the sword of Queen Visenya. As Aemond One-Eye looked up in terror, fumbling with the chains that bound him to his saddle, Daemon ripped off his nephew’s helm and drove the sword down into his blind eye, so hard the point came out the back of the young prince’s throat. Half a heartbeat later, the dragons struck the lake, sending up a gout of water so high that it was said to have been as tall as Kingspyre Tower.
Neither man nor dragon could have survived such an impact, the fisherfolk who saw it said. Nor did they. Caraxes lived long enough to crawl back onto the land. Gutted, with one wing torn from his body and the waters of the lake smoking about him, the Blood Wyrm found the strength to drag himself onto the lakeshore, expiring beneath the walls of Harrenhal. Vhagar’s carcass plunged to the lake floor, the hot blood from the gaping wound in her neck bringing the water to a boil over her last resting place. When she was found some years later, after the end of the Dance of the Dragons, Prince Aemond’s armored bones remained chained to her saddle, with Dark Sister thrust hilt-deep through his eye socket.
Talk about a warrior who knew no fear! And talk about mythical astronomy! You could not ask for a better example of a black fire moon meteor – the ones that symbolize Azor Ahai reborn, the black dragon – than Daemon in his black armor, leaping from the red dragon to the hoary white one, like solar king Azor Ahai skipping from one moon to the other. This is followed by a second ice moon impregnation symbol as Daemon jams the dark blade Dark Sister right through the star sapphire in Aemond’s blind eye.
That’s pretty freaking metal if anything is, and it’s also detailed mythical astronomy. Valyrian steel is a prime symbol of a black fire moon meteor, and since the two moons are like sisters, I think ‘Dark Sister’ is an excellent name for a piece of the moon which was burnt black. So that’s a black dragon sword from the dark sister moon, delivered to the ice moon with love by the dark solar king.
Although Visenya isn’t stabbed with Dark Sister, the fact that she is a Night’s Queen figure who carried around Dark Sister in her day creates the same metaphor – the ice moon queen carries a piece of her dark sister around with her. Brienne the Blue is another icy moon maiden, and when she carries Oathkeeper, it’s basically the same as Visenya carrying Dark Sister. Who gave Oathkeeper to Brienne? A solar lion, Jaime Lannister, or we might say it came from Tywin by way of Jaime.
Returning to the dragon-fight at the Gods Eye, I think the fact that Aemond One Eye’s corpse was found years later at the bottom of the lake, still chained to Vhagar, with Dark Sister still lodged in his skill, is an important clue. It speaks of this black moon meteor still being stuck in that ice moon, as I believe it may be still in the current story.
It’s funny to think about, but if we compare this fight between fire and ice moon dragons to the symbolism of Euron’s eyes as the two moons, in the symbolic sense, it’s basically equivalent to Euron’s blood eye attacking his smiling eye. The black and red blood eye / crow’s eye is equivalent to Dameon riding Caraxes, attacking from a solar eclipse position, while Euron’s blue smiling eye would correlate to Aemond-One Eye riding Vhagar, impregnated in violent fashion by black moon meteor symbols Daemon and Dark Sister. I don’t expect Euron to go cross-eyed or anything but I find that making these comparison helps to keep all the symbolism straight in your mind, and sometimes it leads to funny ideas like one of Euron’s eye attacking the other.
As I mentioned at the top, Daemon stabbing Aemond in the Eye with that sword is also equivalent to Night’s King giving his seed and soul to Night’s Queen, or Rhaegar impregnating Lyanna. Be it dragon sword or dragon seed, both depict the black dragon fire moon meteor being planted in an ice moon symbol. As ever, sex and swordplay, the dual metaphor. Daemon, like Night’s King, was an evil Azor Ahai, red dragon / black armor type, and when he jams Dark Sister into the blue star eye, he’s showing us the Night King giving his dragon seed to an icy moon symbol, and yes, as odd as it sounds, Rhaegar putting little baby Jon’s sperm in Lyanna’s womb. She did die giving birth after all, and Rhaegar also dies around the same time.
Accordingly, this fight happens on the same day as the Storming of the Dragonpit, perhaps the most fantastic fire moon death metaphor outside of Dany’s alchemical wedding:
On the twenty-second day of the fifth moon of the year 130 AC, Aemond One-eye and Daemon Targaryen entered their last battle. On that same day, chaos and death seized King’s Landing. Queen Rhaenyra had imprisoned Lord Corlys for helping his grandson, Ser Addam Velaryon, escape arrest when he was accused of treason. Some of the Sea Snake’s sworn swords joined the riotous mob in Cobbler’s Square, and some scaled the walls to try to free the Sea Snake, only to be hanged when they were caught. Queen Helaena then fell to her death, impaled on the spikes surrounding Maegor’s Holdfast—a suicide some said, and others a murder. And that night, the city burned as the Shepherd’s mob marched on the Dragonpit, attempting to slay all the dragons within.
Not only do we get the storming of the Dragonpit as a fire moon death metaphor, but also queen Helaena leaping to her death. Helaena was the grieving wife of the wounded King Aegon II, and thus a Nissa Nissa / fire moon figure, and of course falling to your death work well to depict a moon falling from heaven. If you think back to Weirwood Compendium 3, Garth of the Gallows, you’ll recall our discussion of Elenei – a child of the gods who came down to earth – seems to be based on Helen of Troy, and Helaena seems to fit the mold. Daenerys also seems to draw influence from the Norse goddess Hel, which could be another thing referenced by Helaena’s name.
The reason I point out that Helaena’s death and the storming of the Dragonpit occurred on the same day as Daemon and Aemond’s dragon-fight is the timing of it all. The ice moon is impregnated basically right after the fire moon explodes and the Long Night falls. It was the same with the dragon fight we looked at last time at Rook’s Rest, where Aemond One-Eye was crowned as a symbolic Night’s King after the fire moon dragon and rider were killed and the solar dragon and rider were wounded and hidden.
To finish up with the fight above the gods eye, let’s consider what happens to the combatants and their dragons. Daemon vanishes altogether, while Caraxes crawls from the lake before expiring beneath Harrenhal, which makes sense because Caraxes and Harrenhal are both fire moon meteor symbols. One of my favorite tinfoil theories is that Daemon made it to the Isle of Faces, since that’s a fire moon symbol too, but he probably just sank under the weight of his armor and lies buried in mud at the bottom of the lake.
Vhagar and Aemond One-Eye definitely remain at the bottom of the lake, which makes me think about how the Others voice’s are like the cracking of ice on a winter lake, and about how the Other melt when stabbed with dragonglass (their ice armor also reflects like the surface of a pond). For those of you who know about the symbolism of being under the sea – something we will get to in due time – it’s also significant to find the ice moon under the sea, so to speak. I think being inside the ice moon is essentially like being submerged in a cold lake, and this is hinted at with Varamyr’s death, where the line is “True death came suddenly; he felt a shock of cold, as if he had been plunged into the icy waters of a frozen lake.” That line comes right before Varamyr’s spirit finds itself inside a one-eyed wolf, naturally.
Finally, there is a nice memorial line to Vhagar in The Princess and the Queen that we really should read to do the great she-dragon justice:
Vhagar, the greatest of the Targaryen dragons since the passing of Balerion the Black Dread, had counted one hundred eighty-one years upon the earth. Thus passed the last living creature from the days of Aegon’s Conquest, as dusk and darkness swallowed Black Harren’s accursed seat.
It’s a poetic line, and I also wanted to include the bit about darkness swallowing Harrenhal at the end of all this.
So, having shown you how two dragons killing each other and falling into a lake symbolizes Jon’s conception – yes, that’s what we just did – let’s get to the main course and talk RLJ.
Dornish Moon Tragedy
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Rhaegar and Lyanna. RLJ. The dragon and the wolf. The song of ice and fire. But don’t forget about Elia – Rhaegar married her first and they had two children together. We still don’t entirely understand the rationale and motivation for Rhaegar and Lyanna’s actions, but we can understand the symbolic reason for this strange love triangle. It’s the same reason we get the the Aegon – Rhaenys – Visenya triangle: to show us one sun with two moons. Moons of ice and fire.
Dorne is associated with snakes and the fiery sun-spears, so the symbolic children of Rhaegar and Elia would be fiery dragon snakes, a good match for our idea of the fiery moon meteors coming from the coupling of the sun and fire moon. The sigil of House Martell tells the story: it’s a sun pierced by a spear. In other words, it alludes to a dying sun such as the sun of the Long Night, and to things coming from that sun like spears and hammers of the waters’es. Also, those of you who have listened to the Weirwood Compendium series might recognize the Odin / Jesus symbolism of a pierced solar king.
Everything about the Dornish symbolism describes the events of the fire moon exploding in front of the sun and the things which fell from the sky, whic helps identify Elia as the fire moon maiden. There are several ways the Dornish symbolism places an emphasis on the dying sun which throws things are the planet as opposed to simply the sun. We covered a lot of this in Bloodstone Compendium 4: The Mountain vs The Viper and The Hammer of the Waters, so I will just briefly sum up. The word ‘sunspear’ implies a spear coming from the sun, and in the trial-by-combat between Ser Gregor and Oberyn Martell, we saw The Red Viper’s spear point coated in poison that looked like black oil – a perfect symbol of a black moon meteor coming from the sun, since I tend to associate the black meteors and the oily black stone with one another.
In Arianne’s “The Queenmaker” chapter of AFFC, there’s a line about the two weapons of the Dornish:
“The arms of House Martell display the sun and spear, the Dornishman’s two favored weapons,” the Young Dragon had once written in his boastful Conquest of Dorne, “but of the two, the sun is the more deadly.”
The sun is deadly because of the sun rays coming from it, which are like weapons. Later in that chapter this theme is hit on again as it says “The sun was beating down like a fiery hammer, but it did not matter with their journey at its end.” Again, the emphasis is on things coming from the sun like weapons – sun-spears and fiery hammers. This line about the fiery sun hammer is followed almost immediately by Myrcella the fire moon maiden being slashed across the face by Darkstar’s sword, mimicking the “crack across the face of the moon” language of the Azor Ahai legend. The sequence clues us in to the idea that the hammer of the waters was a fiery moon meteor, one which drank the fire of the sun and can therefore be considered a sun-spear or a fiery hammer.
In fact (and this is kind of the overarching point in regards to the symbolism of RLJ as a sun and two moons thing), the collection of Dornish symbolism in its entirety is all about the Hammer of the Waters being a moon meteor impact. This makes a ton of sense, since the Hammer fell on the arm of Dorne. Besides the fiery hammer line and Myrcella the wounded moon maiden, there are the place names by the broken Arm of Dorne, Bloodstone and Sunspear. It’s the story of the dark solar king and his black meteor weapons, just like I’ve been talking about: the Bloodstone Emperor was the dark solar king, and his sun-spears were the black moon meteors. Again, this compares well to Oberyn the Red Viper as the dark solar king wielding a spear with a blade coated in black oil. Of course we just mentioned Daemon Targaryen the dark solar king who took Bloodstone as his seat, and Daemon symbolically became a sun-spear himself when he leapt from the back of one dragon to the other while attacking from the direction of the setting sun.
The other named island in the Stepstones is Grey Gallows, which seems like a reference to Yggdrasil, Odin’s gallows tree, as we discussed in Weirwood Compendium 3: Garth of the Gallows. The end result that this is yet another reference to Azor Ahai reaching for the fire of the gods, and complements the Odin-esque symbolism of the pierced sun.
As I like to mention whenever I talk about the Hammer of the Waters, one of the ships that brought moon maiden Myrcella to Dorne was King Robert’s Hammer, yet another reference to the Hammer of the Waters, but this time wrapped in Robert’s Storm King / Thor lightning hammer symbolism. Another galley in that convoy was “Lionstar,” which again gives us the sun-star idea… or in this case, a moon meteor which “drank the fire of the sun.”
There’s a clue about the Dawn meteor falling at the same time as the black meteors that caused the Long Night to be found in the fact that, sailing to Dorne alongside the ships King Robert’s Hammer and Lionstar, we also get one named “Lady Lyanna.” As we are about to see, Lyanna is a signature ice moon maiden, like Night’s Queen, so this may be a clue about the ice moon meteor falling along with the fiery ones. Starfall isn’t far, after all, and talk of Dawn and Arthur Dayne abounds in the Queenmaker chapter, due to Gerold Darkstar Dayne’s presence.
Ok, so I think that’s about as briefly as I can sum up the sun-spear/fiery moon meteor/hammer of the waters ball of symbolism, and I encourage you to check out the Mountain vs The Viper and the Hammer of the Waters episode if you want the rest, which includes significant characters getting struck on the arm (like the Arm of Dorne) at significant times. Point being, all of that and much more points to Dorne as a great symbol for the fire moon and the fiery sun-spears it became.
There’s also the Dorne = fire moon evidence we explored in the Visenya Draconis episode regarding the death of Rhaenys and Meraxes in Dorne at the Hellholt, a place once occupied by Ser Lucifer Dryland and which sits by the Brimstone River. That’s pleasing to me personally, because my fake name is Lucifer and my real world guitar pedal company is called Brimstone Audio (true story, and a complete coincidence, I swear I am not in Satanism or anything). But more importantly, the death of Rhaenys and Meraxes at the Hellholt is an important symbol of the fire moon destruction. Namely, Rhaenys is Aegon’s fire moon bride, and the spearing of Meraxes through the eye calls out the Gods Eye eclipse symbol which represents the death of the fire moon and the darkening of the sun.
Alright. Having set the Dornish stage for Elia of Dorne, let’s consider what we know about the Princess herself. Most of what we know concerns her tragic death, and her children and false children (cough, cough, fAegon). That’s pretty much a mirror for the fire moon, which is defined by its death and meteor childbirthing. We’re going to start with Elia’s death, which is fairly horrible of course, so fair warning.
As we know, Elia was horrifically raped and killed by Ser Gregor Clegane during the sack of King’s Landing. Gregor is called the Mountain that Rides, and his helm bears a stone fist on its crest. A comet or meteor can surely be thought of as a flying or riding mountain, and the stone fist gives the same idea, especially since we’ve seen fists and hands as depictions of moon meteors and moon-smashing comets. In the fight with Oberyn, he seems to play the moon and moon meteor role, but other times he plays the role of the comet, such as when he puts out Beric Dondarrion’s eye. In this case, since he’s killing someone who seems to symbolize the fire moon (Elia), his mountain-that-rides symbolism would seem to playing the role of comet-that-rides. He’s acting at Lord Tywin’s command, just as the Azor Ahai myth has the comet as the sword held by the sun king. Tywin is wielding Gregor against Elia, in other words, like the sun wielding the comet against the fire moon.
In fact, when Dany discusses her vision of Rhaegar and Elia in the House of the Undying with Jorah, Jorah refers to the murders of Elia and her children as having been done simply “by the Lannisters:”
She nodded. “There was a woman in a bed with a babe at her breast. My brother said the babe was the prince that was promised and told her to name him Aegon.”
“Prince Aegon was Rhaegar’s heir by Elia of Dorne,” Ser Jorah said. “But if he was this prince that was promised, the promise was broken along with his skull when the Lannisters dashed his head against a wall.”
“I remember,” Dany said sadly. “They murdered Rhaegar’s daughter as well, the little princess. Rhaenys, she was named, like Aegon’s sister. There was no Visenya, but he said the dragon has three heads. What is the song of ice and fire?”
An apt question there at the end; it’s the question we are answering today, at least from one angle. The title of the series has many layers of meaning of course, but Jon is the closest thing to a human personification of the song of ice and fire. Setting that aside, you can see that that since Amory Lorch and Gregor were acting at the behest of Tywin, “the Lannisters” did indeed murder Elia, and in terms of symbolism, that equates to the sun killing the fire moon.
Another detailed correlation with Elia’s death and the death of the second moon is the fact that Elia died in the Red Keep. The Red Keep is a symbol of the sun, so Elia dying in the Red Keep is entirely consistent with the second moon wandering too close to the sun at its time of death. Even better, the reason Elia was in the Red Keep is because Aerys was essentially holding her hostage; Jaime says in ASOS that “The king reminded Lewyn Martell gracelessly that he held Elia and sent him to take command of the ten thousand Dornishmen coming up the kingsroad.” Elia the fire moon is literally a prisoner of one sun king when she is murder by another (Tywin as a symbolic solar king figure of course).
Elia’s children are dead, supposedly, which would be a match for the idea of the black meteors representing dead things, as we saw with dead lizard baby Rhaego or even Ashara Dayne’s stillbirth. The symbolism continues onto Young Griff, a.k.a. fAegon Blackfyre, who claims to be Elia’s son but seems more likely to be of Blackfyre descent. We’ve spoken previously about the Blackfyre sigil is and the sword Blackfyre are great symbols of the black moon meteors, and in general terms the black dragon itself is the prime symbol of Azor Ahai reborn. Many also think that the stone beast breathing “shadow fire” in Dany’s House of the Undying vision may represent fAegon “Blackfyre”, with the thinking being that ‘black fire’ might might be the same thing as shadow fire. You can see how a stone beast breathing shadow fire is a great description of the black meteor dragons which brought the darkness.
The resurrection aspect of Azor Ahai reborn is present in fAegon’s symbolism too, because the idea of fAegon being the real Aegon VI Targaryen, Rhaegar’s son, would be akin to him returning from the dead. Tyrion expresses this thought when he sort of mockingly paraphrases what fAegon might say to Daenerys when he meets her:
‘Good morrow to you, Auntie. I am your nephew, Aegon, returned from the dead. I’ve been hiding on a poleboat all my life, but now I’ve washed the blue dye from my hair and I’d like a dragon, please … and oh, did I mention, my claim to the Iron Throne is stronger than your own?’ “
There’s even a hint about fAegon Blackfyre the black fire moon dragon being lodged in the ice. Buying into the tale that he is really Elia’s son Aegon for a moment, he would have been cast away from the Red Keep at the time of his fire moon mother’s death, and when we first see him, he has disguised himself by dying his hair blue and wearing blue, and that’s kind of like being frozen.
So that’s Elia of Dorne, may she rest in piece. She fits the fire moon pretty well. The one exception, which I do want to acknowledge, is that she doesn’t seem to have the fiery personality as Queen Rhaenys did, and Elia and Rhaegar’s relationship was not the passionate one, as opposed to Rhaenys and Aegon, who did have the passionate relationship. The rest of the symbolism is strong enough to make things clear I think, so it’s okay if this one thing was flip-flopped in my opinion. It’s easy to see that Rheagar and Lyanna’s relationship is likely to turn out to be the passionate one for reasons of plot, and the plot and character-driven narrative always come first of course. I would and do make the case that George has given us enough strong symbolism around Elia and Lyanna to easily identify them.
And just before we move on, let me just slip in an aside regarding the Targaryen family tree. I am primarily looking at this from the RLJ perspective, with Rhaegar as the solar king with lunar wives of ice and fire who conceives Jon with his ice moon queen, Lyanna. But if we want to include Daenerys, we can actually do so by considering Aerys and Rhaella the original solar king and fire moon queen. Dany and Rhaegar, as their children, would then be equivalent to black fire moon meteors, hurtling outward from the fire moon explosion (and you’ll recall that Dany was born during one of the worst storm in Westerosi history, while Rhaegar was born on the day Summerhall burned, both of which match the idea of a fiery moon explosion for a cradle). Rhaegar, however, unlike Dany, is the black meteor that goes on to impregnate the ice moon – Lyanna. In this schema, Dany is the fiery version of Azor Ahai reborn, child of the fire moon queen Rhaella, and Jon is the frozen version of Azor Ahai reborn, child of ice moon queen Lyanna.
Both ways of looking at the family tree work, and of course these patterns tend to repeat endlessly, with Jon going on to play the solar king role and have two symbolic lunar wives of his own, as we saw last time. But I just wanted to point out this other way of thinking about, since it includes Dany and nicely pegs Jon and Dany as ice and fire moon meteor children, with Dany paralleling dragons and Jon paralleling the Others. Hot and cold versions of Azor Ahai reborn – it seems like an intuitive way to think about them anyway, even without all this specific analysis, and that’s how I have long viewed them.
But I am getting ahead of myself – we still need to talk about Lyanna.
A Storm of Rose Petals Blue
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Turning our attention to Lyanna Stark, she of the blue winter rose, we can observe that she has two important scenes: the Tourney at Harrnehall in the Year of the False Spring, and her death scene at the Tower of Joy. The Harrenhall Tourney is kind of a two-part thing, consisting of the events of the tourney centering around Rhaegar and Lyanna as well as the Knight of the Laughing Tree story, since Lyanna was almost certainly the weirwood-sigil mystery knight in that story. We’ll deal with the Knight of the Laughing Tree another time when we are talking about the weirwood side of ice magic, so right now let’s beginning our Mythical Astronomy ode to Lyanna Stark by quoting the summary of the Harrenhall tourney from the World of Ice and Fire.
And when the triumphant Prince of Dragonstone named Lyanna Stark, daughter of the Lord of Winterfell, the queen of love and beauty, placing a garland of blue roses in her lap with the tip of his lance, the lickspittle lords gathered around the king declared that further proof of his perfidy. Why would the prince have thus given insult to his own wife, the Princess Elia Martell of Dorne (who was present), unless it was to help him gain the Iron Throne? The crowning of the Stark girl, who was by all reports a wild and boyish young thing with none of the Princess Elia’s delicate beauty, could only have been meant to win the allegiance of Winterfell to Prince Rhaegar’s cause, Symond Staunton suggested to the king.
Rhaegar is the dark solar king here, and his black lance penetrating the blue rose garland is symbolic of… well you know. It’s not just a dick joke – the black lance here represents the seed of the sun king, and in the sky, it’s the black meteor hurling towards the ice moon. Lyanna’s garland is called a crown of blue roses, and this event called the crowning of Lyanna, so I think her blue rose crown must equate to the lunar halo, the nimbus of light which seems to surround the moon – just as the points of the golden king’s crown represent the sun’s rays. The circle of the garland is penetrated by the tip of his black lance – again it’s not just a sex symbol, it’s the impregnation of the ice moon by a black meteor. He then lays it in her “lap,” implying more penetration. Recall again the sigil of House Florent: a red fox enclosed within a circle of twelve blue flowers. The red fox is equivalent to Rhaegar’s black lance, becoming “locked” in the ice moon symbol of the ring of blue flowers.
One of our patreon high priests of starry wisdom, Archmaester Aemma, founder of the Maiden Maesters & keeper of the two-headed sphinx, had a good find here. Ned recalls the Tourney of Harrenhal as the moment when all the smiled died when he thinks of it in AGOT:
Ned remembered the moment when all the smiles died, when Prince Rhaegar Targaryen urged his horse past his own wife, the Dornish princess Elia Martell, to lay the queen of beauty’s laurel in Lyanna’s lap. He could see it still: a crown of winter roses, blue as frost.
Now recall the dancing scene at Castle Black when the horn blew to signal Val’s return. The line was “Others had heard it too. The music and the laughter died at once. Dancers froze in place, listening.” I pointed this line out as a clue about the Others being created (frozen in place) in conjunction with a Night’s Queen figure and a horn, and Aerchmaester Aemma pointed out that the language about the laughter dying vs. the moment when the smiles died is very similar, and of course both events are tied to Night’s Queen figures, Val and Lyanna (gotta love the ‘blue as frost’ description of her crown). Dying laughter and dying smiles also remind us of Euron’s blue “smiling eye,” which we eventually see revealed as gleaming with malice, and more generally of the idea of smiling moon crescents dying.
Returning to the summary of the Rhaegar and Lyanna from TWOIAF , the narrative continues with strong parallels to the Long Night, and let me just point out ahead of time that when they talk about the False Spring lasting less than “two turns,” they mean two turns, or cycles, of the moon. Two moons. Here’s the quote:
..with that simple garland of pale blue roses, Rhaegar Targaryen had begun the dance that would rip the Seven Kingdoms apart, bring about his death and a thousand more, and put a welcome new king on the iron throne.
The False Spring of 281 AC lasted less than two turns.
As the year drew to a close, winter returned with a vengeance. On the last day of the year, snow began to fall upon King’s Landing, and a crust of ice formed atop the Blackwater Rush. The snowfall continued off and on for the best part of a fortnight, but which time the Blackwater was hard frozen, and icicles draped the roofs and gutters of every tower it he city.
As cold winds hammered the city, King Aerys II turned to his pyromancers, charging them to drive winter off with their magics. Huge green fires burned along the walls of the Red Keep for a moon’s turn. Prince Rhaegar was not in the city to observe them however. Nor could he be found in Dragonstone with Princess Elia and their young son Aegon. (. . .) Not ten leagues from Harrenhall, Rhaegar fell upon Lyanna Stark of Winterfell, and carried her off, lighting a fire that would consume his house and his kin and all those he loved – and half the realm besides.
So, there’s a vicious, vengeful winter that sets in and covers everything in snow, complete with the infamous cold winds hammering the city, right after Rhaegar gives Lyanna her frosty blue crown – sounds like Long Night symbolism. It even says Rhaegar “fell upon Lyanna,” like a black meteor landing on the ice moon. Naturally, it is during this Long Night-like time that R + L sneak off to the Tower of Joy to = J.
The all-important black ice motif makes an appearance as the Blackwater Rush freezes solid, something which is mentioned twice. I’ve pointed out before that the Blackwater Rush flowing from the Gods Eye is a wonderful depiction of the waves of night (black water) that flow from the sun / fire moon conjunction (the Gods Eye). But now the Blackwater is frozen solid, so it’s black ice coming from the Gods Eye. As you may know, I think the symbol of “black ice” refers to both Valyrian steel (like Ned’s sword black Ice) and dragonglass (frozen fire which looks like black ice), and both of those are also black meteor symbols. Thus, black ice coming from the Gods Eye during a cold winter is simply talking about black, sword-like moon meteors coming from the sun/fire moon conjunction during the Long Night, which happens to be our favorite topic.
During this cold time, we also have raging fires designed to fight the winter for a “moon’s turn.” The idea of using fire magic to fight the horrible winter definitely seems like an allusion to the Long Night, and reminds us of Melisandre lighting nightfires at the base of the Wall.
Taken as a whole, this tale creates a tremendous parallel. The story of Rhaegar making an ice dragon baby with his icy moon maiden Lyanna during this cold, Long Night-like time mimics the story of Aegon and Visenya creating the white shadow Kingsguard in the wake of the Rhaenys death, during the”Years of the Dragon’s Wroth” which was another ‘dark time’ period (it literally says “it was a black time”) which seems to be a metaphor for the Long Night. One of the most heretical ideas I’ve proposed in this series is that Night’s Queen and King lived during the Long Night and not after, so every time we see a symbolic Night’s Queen & King hookup that occurs during a Long Night metaphor, I am going to make a big deal out of it and make sure you notice. I don’t toss out the accepted canon at the drop of a hat; every time I do so, I try to show that there is a mountain of evidence steering us in that direction. This paragraph takes special care to say that “As cold winds hammered the city…” Rhaegar was absconding with his ice moon bride and conceiving Jon the ice dragon baby.
Now at this point, if you listen to all of my podcasts and have a sharp memory you might be saying to yourself, “wait a minute LmL, in one of the Bloodstone Compendium episodes I think you told us that Lyanna’s death in the tower represents Nissa Nissa’s death and the forging of Lightbringer, but now you’re telling us she’s the ice moon?” Yes, I am. The picture I am seeing is this: both moons share certain common elements, because they are essentially like sisters, but with subtle variations which always reflect the difference between ice and fire.
Think of the solar king forging a Lightbringer with each moon queen – I think that’s what we are being shown. The Nissa Nissa moon-impregnation process is repeated with each moon, and each moon maiden. For example, when and if the ice moon gets impregnated with a comet in The Winds of Winter, I’d expect it to mimic the gods eye eclipse alignment of the past as it gives birth to a fresh batch of meteor dragons.
The moons and moon maidens have a lot of parallel symbolism, in other words, just as ice and fire do. For example, since we are talking about blue roses, let’s consider the flower symbolism of the two moons. In one of those old Bloodstone Compendium episodes, we examined the idea of flowers being associated with the moon – the fire moon, I guess we can call it now. We talked about the heliotropium flower connection, which was pretty cool if you remember: one type of heliotropium plant is called the valerian, and it’s known for its purple flowers. You may have caught your phone auto-correcting to the valerian with an ‘e’ when you werereally trying to talk about dragonlords, if you are the type of person who types into their phones about dragonlords, as I am.
Essentially, this is a clue about the origins of the Valyrians being rooted in the Bloodstone Emperor and the Amethyst Empress: the Amethyst Empress looks like a Valyrian according to Dany’s dream vision, with amethyst eyes and silver hair, while the gem bloodstone is also called heliotrope, a name shared by a purple-flowering heliotropium plant which is also called valerian. At this point, we know that George never chooses any of his names without intention, I think it’s safe to say. We’ve also seen that he does indeed use the flower theme as a metaphor to tie together a couple of moon and maiden related concepts. Namely, “flowering” as a euphemism for a woman getting her first moon blood, and fire moon’s explosion can be symbolized as a tide of fiery moonblood, a bloody ‘flowering’ of the moon.
But the ice moon has flower symbolism too – those blue-as-frost winter roses. They make a great full moon symbol when in the form of a crown, but they’re used in a slightly different way in the famous Ned dream recall of the Tower of Joy scene, which, not coincidentally, is Lyanna’s biggest scene and the next thing we need to talk about anyway. This iconic passage is from AGOT:
And now it begins,” said Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. He unsheathed Dawn and held it with both hands. The blade was pale as milkglass, alive with light.
No,” Ned said with sadness in his voice. “Now it ends.” As they came together in a rush of steel and shadow, he could hear Lyanna screaming. “Eddard!” she called. A storm of rose petals blew across a blood-streaked sky, as blue as the eyes of death.
The blue eyes of death are obviously the eyes of the Others, who are the meteor children of the ice moon according to our hypothesis. The blue eyes of the Others in particular are called blue stars – so these blue rose petals that blew across the blood-streaked sky looking like the eyes of the Others would therefore seem to be a representation of ice moon meteors in the sky during the Long Night, a time when the sky was full of moon blood. The blue star eyes of death, streaking through the sky as the ice moon maiden gives birth – it’s poetic mythical astronomy.
This is a really strong symbol, and look – I know that people listen to and read Mythical Astronomy with varying degrees of skepticism. Some people think I’m more or less barking up the right tree on most things, while others buy the main moon meteor theory but might not be too sure about much else, and there are even a few people who even disbelieve most of what I posit but listen anyway because they enjoy the presentation or because the love to hate it or just like my reading voice, who knows. And certainly, I often point out little symbolic patterns which may or may not be intentional, realizing full well some of them are bound to be just coincidence.
But sometimes we get these doses of really, really clear symbolism, and I like to imagine people on the fence about the given hypothesis going “ok, I see it now, LmL is right, she is a damn moon maiden and those blue roses in the sky are some damn moon meteors.” You don’t have to cuss but I hope you are enjoying this entirely new look at the Tower of Joy, one of the most famous scenes in the backstory of ASOIAF, and I hope you are getting the full punch of these sort of banner scenes for mythical astronomy.
Frequently, we can find this kind of A+ astronomy metaphor attached to these sort of odd, yet poetic lines that really stand out of the narrative. It’s easy to understand why Martin would place blue rose petals in the sky in Ned’s dream recall version of the Tower of Joy, but why does he describe them as “blue as the eyes of death,” a phrase which unambiguously calls out to the blue star eyes of the Others?
In this case, it would appear that the answer can only be understood fully by understanding the mythical astronomy. Lyanna is an icy moon maiden, and by placing her blue rose petals in the sky outside her tower and comparing them to the blue star eyes of the Others, the author has effectively labelled the roses as blue stars – falling blue stars, coming from the pregnant moon maiden at the top of the tower. Spectacularly, this same image is also telling us that the Others originate from icy moon maidens – a hint about the primary origin of the Others being rooted in the Night’s Queen story.
Speaking of the Others, they aren’t just staring at us through Lyanna’s flying rose petals, they’re also standing guard outside the Tower of Joy. As we have seen, those kingsguard, with their snow-white, moon pale ghostly armor, can be used to represent white walkers – I hope I have established that by now. We can imagine these three kingsguard coming out of the Tower to meet Ned and his crew like ice moon meteors coming from the ice moon when it is impregnated with seed of the black dragon, just as the blue roses like the eyes of the Others do.
Dawn is an ice moon meteor symbol too, and of course Ned takes Dawn from the Tower of Joy and returns it to Starfall like an ice moon souvenir. Ned is actually confirming the origins of the Dawn meteor for us, I think – it came from the ice moon. We could interpret Ned carrying Dawn to Starfall as the Dawn meteor falling from the ice moon and landing at Starfall, just as the story suggests, or it could be that the Tower of Joy also serves as the landing site. The Heart of Winter is the other place I think the Dawn meteor could have landed, and it’s an ice moon symbol just like the Tower of Joy. Ned taking the sword from a dead Arthur might be symbolic of making a sword from the pale stone meteorite, after which it might have taken to Starfall.
Lyanna’s bones are also ice moon meteor symbols – the white bones of an ice moon maiden would symbolize pieces of the ice moon, certainly, and they too are taken from the scene by Ned.
The three sigils of the former houses of those Kingsguard actually seem to tell the story. Now, this is one of those patterns which could easily be coincidence, but I am pointing it out to you because it would fit with everything else going on in this scene, and Martin really does love to use people’s sigils to enhance the symbolism of a given scene. So here it goes.
The sigil of House Whent is a black bat on yellow, and they are from Harrenhall, a prime fire moon symbol; but here the black bat plays the fire moon meteor dragon locked in the ice, as it says “Across his white-enameled helm, the black bat of his House spread its wings.” The black bat is locked in ice, in other words. Then we have the “white tower crowned with flame on a smoke grey field” sigil of House Hightower, the former house of the White Bull Gerold Hightower. The burning white tower can be a burning white sword or a burning white tree or a burning white moon, and since Gerold is the White Bull and white bulls are lunar symbols, I’m inclined to say this is showing us one of the moons on fire. Then we have the white falling star and white sword of the Dayne sigil, showing us the ice moon meteor falling to earth.
So, black bat on white shows us the black meteor impregnating the ice moon, the Hightower sigil shows us a moon on fire, then we get the white meteor coming out with the Dayne sigil. I mean, perhaps, you know? I can’t help but make a sequence out of them, as these are all the right ingredients to tell the symbolic story of exactly what is happening here with Jon’s birth. Even if it isn’t a specific sequence, again, these are the right symbols to the meaning of the metaphor of R + L = J: white swords and white shooting stars, burning white towers on a smoke field, and a great dragon locked in ice symbol with the black bat on white.
To sum up, here at this most famous of locations we have three Kingsguard whose symbolism tells the story of the impregnation of the ice moon. We have four excellent symbols of ice moon meteors – the blue death’s eyes roses in the sky, the Kingsguard, Dawn, and the bones of Lyanna – all gathered at the Tower of Joy and then dispersed.
And this entire event was set off by Jon’s conception.
A Dragon Locked in Ice
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The symbol of the “seed” is key here, because seeds are the catalysts of our various chain reactions, be they in the sky with heavenly bodies, or on the ground, with flesh-and-blood people. Meteors and comets can be thought of as star seeds, and when the original comet hits the fire moon, that is the sun’s seed impregnating the moon. This is the first alchemical wedding, and it results in the moon ‘giving birth’ to baby dragon meteors. Those are in turn new star seeds or dragon seeds however, and while some of them impregnated the earth, one seems to have impregnated the ice moon. Because these black meteors are hurling outward from the sun-darkening explosion of the fire moon, we can regard them as the star seeds of the dark solar king, and that is our ice dragon formula: the dark solar king gives his seed to the ice moon queen to make ice dragon children. This is the second alchemical wedding, the marriage of ice and fire.
When Rhaegar puts on his black armor and gives Lyanna the blue rose crown at the Harrenhall tourney, this is the dark solar king signaling his intent to place his dragon seed in the womb of this icy moon queen. When Rhaegar literally impregnates her, when Jon is conceived, this represents the black dragon seed being locked in ice. That’s why pregnant Lyanna in the Tower of Joy is surrounded by Kingsguard, who are standing in for Others: it illustrates Jon the dragon seed being surrounded by ice.
But as I have painstakingly demonstrated over the course of the last few episodes, Night’s King and Night’s Queen creating Others is a parallel act to Rhaegar and Lyanna conceiving Jon. If Jon is the seed of the dark sun planted in the ice moon, then the Others are bits of ice moon that would have been chipped off – that’s how we originally identified the Others after all, as icy meteor children of an ice moon figure. Jon is like the seed still in the cold womb – that’s why he’s spent five books freezing his ass off at the Wall, preparing himself and training – while the Others have come out of the icy lunar womb and have become cold falling stars.
For what it’s worth, when Jon is resurrected and reborn, I expect him to be a lot paler – his hair, most likely – just as Jon emerged from one of the Winterfell tombs covered in flour as a “pale spirit moaning for blood” to prank the younger siblings. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves – let’s stick with Jon as the seed in the icy womb for now as that is his dominant symbolism up to this point in the story.
I’m about to show you all the ways in which Jon is depicted as the dragon locked in ice – or you can say crow in the snow, if you prefer – but first, consider this: the dragon seed meteor becoming lodged in the ice moon is what creates the ice moon meteors which are analogous to the Others. Similarly, it’s the impregnation of the icy moon woman we like to call Night’s Queen that brings forth the Others – and again, this is why we find Kingsguard directed to guard the Tower of Joy while Lyanna is pregnant with Jon, and why the blue roses in the sky look like the eyes of the Others. But haven’t we all been wondering why the Others have begin to stir after all these centuries of seeming inactivity? I think the answer is right here at the Tower of Joy: it was Jon’s conception.
‘What awakened the Others in the recent past?’ is one of those great riddles in the ASOIAF fandom, one which I’ve never had a strong guess about. But if Jon’s conception is symbolically analogous to the conception of the Others, then perhaps it was the actual birth of Jon Snow the magical ice dragon baby which was the omen that told the Others the end was nigh.
This idea fits well with fan theories about the Others having an equivalent to the Prince That Was Promised prophecy, but of course from their perspective it would be more like a prophecy of doom about this monstrous last hero fellow who is bent on their extinction. But I think you grasp the idea – if Jon is destined to confront the Others, perhaps the Others sense that and have stirred to life to meet their foe. It really would be the best possible match to the mythical astronomy events, which have the black meteor’s impact with the ice moon as the thing which triggered the birth of ice moon meteors.
I mean heck, you could possibly look at this whole thing a lot more simply, and just take the appearance of the blue roses that look like the eyes of the Others at Jon’s birth as a sign that his birth has awakened the Others, couldn’t you?
The big mystery here is why does the same symbolic “formula” create both Others and Jon Snow? What does it mean for the main story? This is kind of an uncomfortable parallel, as I mentioned at the beginning today. Both are children of an icy moon queen, and I’ve called both ice dragons… but unlike the white shadow Others, Jon is heavily associated with the color black. He famously tells Robb that “black was always my color” when he’s leaving for the Wall, and obviously he joins the Night’s Watch and dresses in black from head to heel in almost every scene we see him in. Yet, like the Others, he’s definitely associated with cold things: his name is Snow, his nickname is Lord Snow, he plays the King of Winter role symbolically and will probably be named to that title in actuality, and he dreams of being armored in black ice while defending the Wall.
Consider that last point a moment – armored in ice sounds like the Others, who essentially have ice-everything, including their armor and swords. In fact, in ASOS Daenerys dreams of torching her foes from dragonback, and her foes are strangely wearing ice armor as well – and I think everyone has taken this as a foreshadowing of Dany fighting the Others with her dragons, presumably near the end of the story. Check it out:
That night she dreamt that she was Rhaegar, riding to the Trident. But she was mounted on a dragon, not a horse. When she saw the Usurper’s rebel host across the river they were armored all in ice, but she bathed them in dragonfire and they melted away like dew and turned the Trident into a torrent.
It seems simple enough to interpret the possibility this dream is revealing in regards to the primary narrative: Dany’s Battle of the Trident will be her fighting the Others with her dragons. What’s interesting to note is that the Other-like ice warriors melt and turn a river to a torrent – this calls to mind the River Torrentine which flows out to sea at Starfall. The real Others melt when stabbed with dragonglass, including their milkglass bones, so if these icy warriors in Dany’s dream are supposed to be Others, we have melting milkglass bones creating a Torrentine River, the kind of river that flows by the castle that is home to a milkglass sword.
Setting that aside, the main point here is the identical “armored in ice” language which is applied to both Jon and Dany’s foes which clearly seem meant to represent the Others. As you can see, Jon and the Others are both ice-armored children of ice moon queens, but opposite in color – and of course Jon is rather famously dedicated to fighting the Others. Jon is like the good Other, or the black Other, basically!
So now we are going to do that thing where, having proposed a somewhat abstract concept based on flying space rocks which I claim relates to the characters in the story, I will now provide examples of beautifully written metaphorical passages from ASOIAF which demonstrate the hypothesis in action. I’ve said a few times that every single ice moon symbol, be it person, place, or thing, has some sort of symbolic depiction of the dragon locked in ice, but since this is the RLJ essay and Jon is what this pattern is all about, we’re just going to stick with Jon -related examples for now. From here on out in the Moons of Ice and Fire series, we’ll be tracking this symbolism as we visit all of the other ice moon places.
As I began to mention last time, the pattern of Jon being locked in ice begins as soon as the story begins, with Robert making the cryptic remark (see what I did there) about kings under the snow which everyone interprets as a clue about Jon Snow being a King under the Snow, but of course Jon would be a dragon king under the snow – a dragon locked in ice. AGOT doesn’t go more than a few chapters before Jon’s fate of being sent to the Wall is sealed, and Bran sees this represented by the line about Jon “sleeping alone in a cold bed, his skin growing pale and hard as the memory of all warmth fled from him.”
As a matter of fact, almost all of Jon’s examples of locked in ice symbolism revolve around the Wall, which is, conveniently, one of the most important symbols of the ice moon. That means that when Bran sees Jon sleeping at the Wall and losing the memory of warmth, that’s Jon sleeping in the ice moon. So too for all the foreshadowing of Jon’s body being stored in the ice cells of the Wall, which we mentioned last time – it’s Jon sleeping inside an ice moon symbol, awaiting resurrection and rebirth. That’s exactly how we should think about that black fire moon meteor – it’s still trapped up there in the ice moon, waiting for a stray comet to come along and spring it loose. I would love to see the comet return when Jon is resurrected, but that’s a tale for another day.
Castle Black itself the same symbol – a black castle sort of halfway embedded in the ice of the Wall. In fact, check out this quote from Dywen about Bowen Marsh’s plan to seal up the passages through the Wall at CastleBlack and elsewhere:
“And wildlings, and darker things,” said Marsh. “I would not send out hunters, my lord. I would not.”
No. You would close our gates forever and seal them up with stone and ice. Half of Castle Black agreed with the Lord Steward’s views, he knew. The other half heaped scorn on them. “Seal our gates and plant your fat black arses on the Wall, aye, and the free folk’ll come swarming o’er the Bridge o’ Skulls or through some gate you thought you’d sealed five hundred years ago,” the old forester Dywen had declared loudly over supper, two nights past. “We don’t have the men to watch a hundred leagues o’ Wall. Tormund Giantsbutt and the bloody Weeper knows it too. Ever see a duck frozen in a pond, with his feet in the ice? It works the same for crows.”
That’s pretty tasty, as it gives us that frozen pond motif again which seems tied to the Others, and I’ve been saying the dragon locked in ice can also be thought of as a crow in the snow, since Jon is also a black crow – and here we have that spelled out exactly, a crow locked in the ice of a frozen pond. To be honest I only found this quote at the last minute, long after I had started saying “crow in the snow.”
The tunnels bored through the rock beneath the Wall are called the wormways, which suggests the idea of firewyrms, who are cousins to dragons, tunneling beneath the Wall, and that’s terrific. One of my favorite tinfoil theories is that there is either a greasy black stone foundation or a fused black stone foundation beneath to the Wall, beneath all that ice, which would fit the pattern if true.
Now, to the really important stuff: the scenes with Jon at the Wall which serve as detailed metaphors of Jon’s conception. I’ve visited these scenes before, for different reasons, so forgive me for sounding like I am repeating myself, but I think you know I wouldn’t be going back unless we had new conclusions to draw, and that is indeed the case. Every single ‘dragon locked in ice’ metaphor represents Jon’s conception, but the ones with Jon at the Wall are the best. The important thing to keep in mind is that the Wall represents the ice moon, as Lyanna does, and so the Wall also stands in for Lyanna herself. We are going to see things embedded in the Wall which represent both little baby sperm Jon in Lyanna’s womb and also the black meteor getting lodged in the ice moon.
Famously, during her House of the Undying vision, Daenerys sees a vision which is generally taken to represent Jon: “A blue flower grew from a chink in a wall of ice, and filled the air with sweetness. . .” That blue rose would seem to represent Jon as a piece of Lyanna’s legacy blooming at the Wall, since the blue winter rose is primarily Lyanna’s symbol. The thing to notice is its placement in the chink, meaning crack, in the Wall, because in ADWD we see another of Jon’s symbols in the cracks of the Wall. This time it’s a detailed depiction of the sun’s fire being frozen, and about how this signals the time to prepare for the invasion of the Others:
Jon Snow turned away. The last light of the sun had begun to fade. He watched the cracks along the Wall go from red to grey to black, from streaks of fire to rivers of black ice. Down below, Lady Melisandre would be lighting her nightfire and chanting, Lord of Light, defend us, for the night is dark and full of terrors.
“Winter is coming,” Jon said at last, breaking the awkward silence, “and with it the white walkers. The Wall is where we stop them. The Wall was made to stop them … but the Wall must be manned.”
The light of the setting sun reflects like red fire on the meltwater in the cracks of the Wall, but as the last light of the sun fades – as the sun dies if you will – those streaks of red fire transform into rivers of black ice. That’s the sun king turning dark (i.e. setting) and impregnating the ice moon symbol (the Wall) with his red fire that then quenches to black ice, like a burning meteor that freezes to a cold black stone. This is like the freezing of fire, basically, the tempering of a fiery meteor sword in the heart of the ice moon.
This scene draws very strong parallels to the passage we read earlier about Rhaegar giving his seed to Lyanna when the Blackwater Rush that comes from the Gods Eye became iced over – that’s a literal river of black ice at Jon’s conception to match the apparent rivers of black ice here at this symbolic scene at the Wall. Martin is using the same black ice river symbol around Jon’s conception and a scene that symbolizes Jon’s conception, and I don’t think that’s an accident, but rather a clue that the two scenes are meant to be taken in parallel. Black ice isn’t a random symbol either – it’s one of Jon’s personal symbols, as we will see in a moment.
In other words, when Jon sees the dying sun give its red fire to the Wall to be turned into black ice, it’s kind of like Jon is walking in on his parents doing it. Ha ha – it’s true! I always like to joke about how the RLJ doubters are waiting for some sort of secret Lyanna and Rhaegar sextape that’s never going to come, but this might be the closest thing. And what does Jon say when he sees this? “Winter is coming, and with it the white walkers. The Wall must be manned.” This might allude to what I was saying a moment ago: when the black dragon is lodged in the ice, the Others are coming. When Night King gives his seed to Night’s Queen, the Others are born. When Jon is conceived, the Others begin to stir.
Finishing up with that last quote, take note of Mel’s fires burning “down below”: that’s simply another indication of there being fire injected into the Wall, into the ice moon. Mel is a fire moon queen, so when she comes to the Wall she is like a piece of fire moon going inside the ice moon, similar to how we interpreted Dark Sister as a fire moon meteor when it was jammed into Aemond’s blue star eye. We’re going to talk about this when we cover Sansa, but essentially the female version of the dragon locked in ice symbolism is when a fire moon character like Mel goes to live inside an ice moon symbol. This schema perceives the black meteor coming from the sun-fire moon conjunction as a piece of the damaged fire moon queen which lands in the ice and transforms.
For example, Sansa does fire moon things at Kings Landing, culminating with her helping to turn solar king Joffrey’s solar face dark… but then she turns to a stone (Alayne Stone) and darkens her hair and clothing, then flies from Kings Landing to embed herself in the Eyrie, a supreme ice moon symbol. Similarly, Cersei is a fire moon character who comes to be imprisoned in the Sept of Baelor – literally locked in an ice moon building. Her golden hair is shorn to demonstrate her fire being quenched, perhaps, like Sansa dying her kissed by fire hair and becoming a stone (Cersei is bald like an egg or a stone).
Alright, well, little detour there, but I do like to give you a preview of what is coming down the pipe occasionally. Getting back to Jon, his emblematic red fire / black ice combo appears in one other place, and again the theme is manning the Wall against the Others. This is Jon’s famous Azor Ahai dream I mentioned a moment ago, the one where he mans the Wall alone armored in black ice with Longclaw burning red in his fist. We’ve quoted the whole thing before (understatement), so I’ll just give you the key lines:
Burning shafts hissed upward, trailing tongues of fire. Scarecrow brothers tumbled down, black cloaks ablaze. “Snow,” an eagle cried, as foemen scuttled up the ice like spiders. Jon was armored in black ice, but his blade burned red in his fist. As the dead men reached the top of the Wall he sent them down to die again.
Both of these Jon scenes at the Wall with red fire and black ice show us the dragon encased in ice – Jon is literally encased in black ice armor in this scene, and standing on top of the Wall as well, while the previous scene shows red fire turning to black ice inside the cracks of the Wall. This scene is a strong clue that the black ice and red fire is a combination with specific relevance to Jon, and shows Jon as a character who is successfully uniting ice and fire. That makes sense, since he is the product of the second alchemical wedding, the wedding of ice and fire.
Continuing with metaphorical depictions of Jon’s conception using the Wall as a stand in for Lyanna, it’s time to get freaky. If you’re up to date on Mythical Astronomy essays, you may recall this scene at the Wall from ADWD which indicates Jon as a black shadow embedded in the ice, and it comes amidst talk of Mel and Jon creating shadowbabies, like she did with Stannis:
“The Lord of Light in his wisdom made us male and female, two parts of a greater whole. In our joining there is power. Power to make life. Power to make light. Power to cast shadows.”
“Shadows.” The world seemed darker when he said it.
“Every man who walks the earth casts a shadow on the world. Some are thin and weak, others long and dark. You should look behind you, Lord Snow. The moon has kissed you and etched your shadow upon the ice twenty feet tall.”
Jon glanced over his shoulder. The shadow was there, just as she had said, etched in moonlight against the Wall.
Fans of Radio Westeros will know that there is a lot of foreshadowing that Jon’s temporarily lifeless corpse will stored in the ice cells, such as when he visits Arnoff Karstark in the ice cells and it says “Jon Snow could see his own reflection dimly inside the icy walls,” and this after the door to the cells was yanked open by Wick Whittlestick, the first man to stab Jon at the end of ADWD. This etching of Jon’s shadow on the ice serves the same purpose, foreshadowing (literally fore-shadowing here) Jon’s corpse being stored in the ice of the Wall.
But in mythical astronomy terms, it’s also the black dragon meteor lodged in the ice motif. The shadowbaby talk here provides extra confirmation, because we already know that there are many parallels between the black shadow brothers of the Night’s Watch and the black shadows Melisandre can give birth to, and that both are black fire moon meteor symbols. The world seems darker when they show up, to be sure.
The mythical astronomy version of the RLJ formula is spelled out here in two parts. First, Melisandre, a fire moon figure, wants to help Jon cast black shadows like she did with Stannis, with both Jon and Stannis playing the dark solar king father role. “Let’s make some black meteors,” she’s saying. Then, to show us the black shadow Jon meteors lodging in the ice, it says that the moon kissed Jon and etched his shadow on the Wall. Jon is the solar king, kissing the fire moon and casting a black shadow meteor child into the ice moon, which becomes… say it with me… the dragon locked in ice. Jon is playing the role of Rhaegar, his father, here, but that’s ok because symbolism is fractal and repeats every generation, as we know.
A bit earlier in ADWD, Mel and Stannis play the casting black shadows on the ice of the Wall game, and this shows the same thing, the dark sun and the fire moon casting black shadow children into the ice:
R’hllor was a jealous deity, ever hungry. So the new god devoured the corpse of the old, and cast gigantic shadows of Stannis and Melisandre upon the Wall, black against the ruddy red reflections on the ice.
The “shadows of Mel and Stannis” are the shadowbabies, the dark children of sun and fire moon, once again being projected upon the Wall, which stands in for the ice moon. This act, in a way, makes the Wall look like it is on fire. This is a reference to the black fire moon meteor lighting up the ice moon with cold fire, or fire which is turned cold. The Wall looks like it is on fire, but it is not. It’s a bit like Stannis’s Lightbringer – it looks like it’s on fire, but it isn’t, and it gives off no heat.
The act of turning fire cold is something I have been kind of working my way to, because it’s one of the most important things to understand about the the creation of the Others and the merging of Night’s King and Queen. The freezing of fire is one of the results of the alchemical wedding of fiery black meteor and cold, icy moon. As such, we’ll now have a quick look at two parallel weddings in the north that depict the freezing of fire. Not to beat a cold, undead horse, but these cold weddings will also symbolize Jon’s conception and the creation of the Others.
The Second Alchemical Wedding
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The first northern wedding featuring a Night’s Queen figure and the freezing of fire takes place at the Wall and does involve Jon, although the focal point is ac tually Alys Karstark. This is her wedding to Sigorn, the young Magnar of Thenn, from ADWD, and right from the opening of the chapter, you can see that the cold fire theme is front and center:
“R’hllor,” sang Melisandre, her arms upraised against the falling snow, “you are the light in our eyes, the fire in our hearts, the heat in our loins. Yours is the sun that warms our days, yours the stars that guard us in the dark of night.”
“All praise R’hllor, the Lord of Light,” the wedding guests answered in ragged chorus before a gust of ice-cold wind blew their words away. Jon Snow raised the hood of his cloak.
The snowfall was light today, a thin scattering of flakes dancing in the air, but the wind was blowing from the east along the Wall, cold as the breath of the ice dragon in the tales Old Nan used to tell. Even Melisandre’s fire was shivering; the flames huddled down in the ditch, crackling softly as the red priestess sang. Only Ghost seemed not to feel the chill.
Alys Karstark leaned close to Jon. “Snow during a wedding means a cold marriage. My lady mother always said so.”
The wind is blowing off the Wall the like the breath of the ice dragon, equating the Wall with an ice dragon. Of course, the Wall has been directly compared to an ice dragon on other occasion, and both the Wall and Vhagar the symbolic idea dragon seem to represent the ice moon. In any case, this cold ice dragon breath makes the flames shiver and huddle in their ditch, as if they had been turned cold. That’s my whole point – the ice moon is what turns fire into cold fire. It’s the alchemical reaction chamber and the cold forge, the place where fire is transformed into the cold blue star fire mojo that fuels the Others.
Shivering flame is a symbolic motif that will turn up many times in the future, though we don’t have time to list them all now – we already saw a version of it once when I gave you a sample of the symbolism of the Eyrie, where the blue-veined white marble made “even the sunlight looked chilly.” Alys Karstark mentions the idea of a cold marriage, and indeed, she is pretty easy to peg as an ice moon maiden. In fact, Jon calls her out for us:
The girl smiled in a way that reminded Jon so much of his little sister that it almost broke his heart. “Let him be scared of me.” The snowflakes were melting on her cheeks, but her hair was wrapped in a swirl of lace that Satin had found somewhere, and the snow had begun to collect there, giving her a frosty crown. Her cheeks were flushed and red, and her eyes sparkled.
“Winter’s lady.” Jon squeezed her hand.
So there you go, winter’s lady, complete with frosty crown and sparkling eyes. And let’s go back to the idea of a cold marriage for a second, because right after Alys tells Jon that her mother told her that snow during a wedding means a cold marriage, Jon has a really funny line:
He glanced at Queen Selyse. There must have been a blizzard the day she and Stannis wed. Huddled beneath her ermine mantle and surrounded by her ladies, serving girls, and knights, the southron queen seemed a frail, pale, shrunken thing. A strained smile was frozen into place on her thin lips, but her eyes brimmed with reverence.
This is a great Selyse-as-Ice-Queen quote which I somehow missed last time, but the oversight works out rather well, because this cold marriage thing is great for us to focus on right now. Recall that snowstorm that assaulted King’s Landing and froze the Blackwater Rush which came as Rhaegar and Lyanna conceived Jon – it serves the same purpose of signifying Lyanna as an ice queen and their marriage as a symbolically cold one, like Alys and Sigorn’s marriage or Stannis and Selyse’s marriage. Hopefully this goes without saying, but all of these cold weddings are echoes of Night’s King and Queen, the original cold marriage.
The Karstark sigil is a white sunburst, also called a white star by some characters, on a night black field. The white star symbolism is something that makes us think of Dawn and the white star in the hilt of the Sword of the Morning constellation, which makes sense for Winter’s Lady if indeed Dawn is the “Dawn of the Others” as I suggest. There’s even a possible “others” play on words as Jon gives away his cousin in marriage:
“Who brings this woman to be wed?” asked Melisandre.
“I do,” said Jon. “Now comes Alys of House Karstark, a woman grown and flowered, of noble blood and birth.” He gave her hand one last squeeze and stepped back to join the others.
He stepped back to join the others, from whence winter’s lady came. Could be nothing, but it lines up with everything else so I thought I’d mention the possible wordplay. This is actually the same chapter we looked at last episode where the dancing breaks out with the Night’s Watch, Queen Selyse’s men, and the wildlings, only to be interrupted by the warhorn signaling Val’s return, and we got the line “Others had heard it too. The music and the laughter died at once. Dancers froze in place, listening.” And then back at the beginning of this chapter, when Mel is leading the prayers before the marriage, it says:
“Lord of Light, protect us,” cried Queen Selyse. Other voices echoed the response. Melisandre’s faithful: pallid ladies, shivering serving girls, Ser Axell and Ser Narbert and Ser Lambert, men-at-arms in iron mail and Thenns in bronze, even a few of Jon’s black brothers. “Lord of Light, bless your children.”
Among those “Other voices” we find clues about the Others: pallid shivering ladies, a Florent (with their circle of blue flowers and red fox sigil), and this Ser Lambert fellow, who turns out to be Lambert Whitewater, according the the wiki of ice and fire. We’ve seen the White Knife riven frozen over to create the icy white knife symbol – a reference to Dawn, the original Ice of House Stark, according to my thinking – and Ser Lambert Whitewater is later named as one of the dancers who froze in place. Since the Others are pale white, made of ice, are melt when killed, a frozen dancer made of white water works pretty well. And for those of you who know your old cartoons, Lambert the sheepish lion is a lion who grew up thinking he was a sheep. I would point out that a solar lion becoming a white sheep would be like a solar king turning into an Other, but that would just be completely jumping the shark and so I will refrain.
Getting back to the wedding ceremony, there’s a great sex-and-swordplay line here at the wedding too, as it says “the Magnar of Thenn stood waiting by the fire, clad as if for battle, in fur and leather and bronze scales, a bronze sword at his hip.” I don’t hardly have to say anything other than ‘look, it’s the bajillionth instance of weddings and sexual intercourse described in battle language,’ and that this is of course part of the metaphor of describing meteor and comet impacts as “impregnations.”
Now when Alys weds Sigorn, they modify the Karstark white star-on-black sigil in an interesting way:
Like so much else, heraldry ended at the Wall. The Thenns had no family arms as was customary amongst the nobles of the Seven Kingdoms, so Jon told the stewards to improvise. He thought they had done well. The bride’s cloak Sigorn fastened about Lady Alys’s shoulders showed a bronze disk on a field of white wool, surrounded by flames made with wisps of crimson silk. The echo of the Karstark sunburst was there for those who cared to look, but differenced to make the arms appropriate for House Thenn.
The white field of the Stark sigil is called an ice-white field, so I think the white field of the new Karstark sigil should also be taken as an ice white field, which is appropriate for a House now made up of a Wildling Magnar and an old northern bloodline. So I think what we have here is a bronze and crimson sun, locked in ice. That’s a good match for Alys the Winter Queen as an analog for Night’s Queen, and Sigorn the Magnar of Thenn as a Night’s King analog. It’s exactly where we should see the dragon locked in ice symbolism.
And see it we do – there’s another instance of shadows cast on to the ice of the Wall going on which mirrors the Jon scenes we just looked at:
And Melisandre said, “Let them come forth, who would be joined.” The flames cast her shadow on the Wall behind her, and her ruby gleamed against the paleness of her throat.
As I am sure you all realize, the flames are the sun here, and Mel the fire moon, and the shadow cast into the ice is the black meteor headed for the ice moon. This line actually comes right before Alys is described as Winter’s Lady and the ceremony commences.
In any case, despite Melisandre speaking of Sigorn and Alys warming each other when the night is dark and cold, and of them be joined by fire, Winter’s lady has a cold marriage and an ice dragon turns their wedding fire cold, and that is what I am driving at. In this chapter, there’s also two occurrences of Melisandre being asked what she sees in her fires when she searches for Stannis, with her responding “only snow.” That eventually becomes an upper case “Snow” in Mel’s own POV chapter, but right now it’s telling us that she is literally seeing lower-case snow in her fires – because the ice dragon turned them cold, ha ha!
This is also the chapter where we are told that the black brothers had taken to using the wormways to get around castle Black because of how cold it has become, and also the same chapter where Jon visits Cregan Karstark and sees his own reflection dimly in the icy walls, and where “Rusted hinges screamed like damned souls when Wick Whittlestick yanked the door wide enough for Jon to slip through.” And as I mentioned a moment ago, this is also the chapter where the “other dancers” of Queen Selyse “froze in place” at the sound of the horn.
In other words, it’s one of those chapters with a strong and clear theme that runs through multiple scenes within the chapter, and that theme is turning fire cold. The first five paragraphs of the chapter, which contained that bit about the ice dragon blowing Melisandre’s fiery prayers away, the flames shivering, and Alys’s talk of cold marriage, really sets a tone that carries through all the way to the end of the chapter where the other dancers freezing in place.
Alys and Sigorn’s wedding parallels the wedding of another ice queen figure in ADWD – Jeyne Poole dressed up as Arya Stark wedding Ramsay Snow / Bolton. Even though the moods of these two weddings are entirely opposite – Alys’s wedding is liberating, while Jeyne’s is an enslavement – they are pretty much the exact same in terms of symbolism. Again we will start with the beginning of the chapter – The Prince in Winterfell, this one is called – and again we can see the theme clearly spelled out right from the jump:
The hearth was caked with cold black ash, the room unheated but for candles. Every time a door opened their flames would sway and shiver. The bride was shivering too. They had dressed her in white lambswool trimmed with lace. Her sleeves and bodice were sewn with freshwater pearls, and on her feet were white doeskin slippers—pretty, but not warm. Her face was pale, bloodless.
A face carved of ice, Theon Greyjoy thought as he draped a fur-trimmed cloak about her shoulders. A corpse buried in the snow.
This is pretty blatant stuff: a face carved of ice, baby pearls to introduce moon symbolism, a corpse queen marrying an evil Azor Ahai figure in Ramsay, and of course shivering flames and a shivering bride. The cold black hearth also emphasizes the idea of cold fire. The language about Jeyne Poole being like a corpse buried in the snow is simply the female version of the fore moon meteor locked in ice again, such as with Sansa at the Eyrie, Cersei at the Sept of Baelor, or Melisandre when she comes to the Wall, and it is enhanced by the fact that Jeyne catches frostbite after escaping Winterfell – so in addition to being buried in the snow, she’s also sinking into the sea of warm milk.
There’s actually a perfect companion line to this at Alys Karstark’s wedding; as she is waiting for Mel to finish her praying, she asks Jon “How much longer, Lord Snow? If I’m to be buried beneath this snow, I’d like to die a woman wed.” So not just buried under the now, but married and dead as well, just like Jeyne Poole the corpse buried in the snow.
Oh and I should mention that the sigil of House Pool is a blue circle on white, meant to represent a pool of course – but it also makes for a nice ice moon symbol, and reminds us of how the Other’s voices are “like the cracking of ice on a winter lake.”
There’s actually a wonderful clue about House Poole symbolism being tied to Lyanna as Ned wakes up from his fever dream of the Tower of Joy. Right after Lyanna screams “Eddard!” as the storm of rose petals blew across the sky, the dreams continues with Lyanna calling Ned’s name again:
“Lord Eddard,” Lyanna called again.
“I promise,” he whispered. “Lya, I promise …”
“Lord Eddard,” a man echoed from the dark.
Groaning, Eddard Stark opened his eyes. Moonlight streamed through the tall windows of the Tower of the Hand.
“Lord Eddard?” A shadow stood over the bed.
“How … how long?” The sheets were tangled, his leg splinted and plastered. A dull throb of pain shot up his side.
“Six days and seven nights.” The voice was Vayon Poole’s.
In other words, Lyanna turned in Vayon Poole, helping confirm Jeyne Poole as an ice moon maiden.
Returning to Ramsay and Jeyne’s wedding, we find Theon is playing the same role that Jon did at Alys’s wedding: a sort of half-Stark giving away the ice queen. I’m not sure what that means yet, but I thought I would point it out as it is a parallel between the two scenes. Theon even thinks about himself as “a Stark at last” in this chapter, which is titled “The Ghost in Winterfell,” a title that partially applies to Theon.
The wedding itself has some great stuff, including mythical astronomy hall-of-fame lines like “Up above the treetops, a crescent moon was floating in a dark sky, half-obscured by mist, like an eye peering through a veil of silk,” and this gem right here, which follows immediately after Jeyne says ‘I do’:
“I take this man,” the bride said in a whisper.
All around them lights glimmered through the mists, a hundred candles pale as shrouded stars. Theon stepped back, and Ramsay and his bride joined hands…
This is our first symbolic depiction of the Others being created, but it’s coming at us from a mythical astronomy perspective – when the Night’s King and Queen figures join, this is the black meteor striking the ice moon, and the next sentence after she accepts the marriage, we are told of a hundred pale, shrouded stars. Those pale, other-like stars are followed up by this passage, which also seems to suggest the presence of the Others:
Once outside the godswood the cold descended on him like a ravening wolf and caught him in its teeth. He lowered his head into the wind and made for the Great Hall, hastening after the long line of candles and torches. Ice crunched beneath his boots, and a sudden gust pushed back his hood, as if a ghost had plucked at him with frozen fingers, hungry to gaze upon his face. Winterfell was full of ghosts for Theon Greyjoy.
Ghosts with frozen fingers sure sound like the Others, and you’ll notice the candles which created the appearance of stars a moment ago are mentioned again here.
Check out this passage, where the black ice makes an appearance:
..a hard white frost gripped Winterfell. The paths were treacherous with black ice, and hoarfrost sparkled in the moonlight on the broken panes of the Glass Gardens. Drifts of dirty snow had piled up against the walls, filling every nook and corner. Some were so high they hid the doors behind them. Under the snow lay grey ash and cinders, and here and there a blackened beam or a pile of bones adorned with scraps of skin and hair.
Broken panes of glass, covered in hoarfrost and sparkling in the moonlight… it kinda reminds of Ser Waymar’s sword, covered in white frost and glimmering in the moonlight before it was shattered. More important is the black ice present here at the Night’s Queen’s wedding, just as with the Blackwater Rush freezing when Rhaegar absconded with Lyanna, or as with the black ice in the cracks of the Wall symbolizing Jon’s conception. More dragon locked in ice symbolism, or we might say fire buried in snow, is found here with the ash and cinders and blackened and burnt wood buried in the snow here.
If we really want to parse the words here, we can observe that a “beam” can also refer to light, as in a beam of light, so a “blackened beam” might be the sort of sunbeam you get from a dark sun, right? “Blackened beam” also seems apt for the black meteors that drank the fire of the sun and now drink the light in general. And you know how I like to call Azor Ahai’s hypothetical black meteor sword “Dark Lightbringer.” There’s actually a great dark Lightbringer clue in this chapter, as a matter of fact, when Theon thinks about Ned and his smoke-dark sword Ice, musing that “the long steel shadow of his greatsword had always been between them.” Since we know that Ned’s sword is compared to the comet and is in many ways symbolic of Lightbringer, this is very like Stannis’s shadowbaby wielding a shadowsword, and both passages refer to the original sword of Azor Ahai, which I am pretty sure we can think of as “dark Lightbringer.”
Speaking of Ned’s sword, there’s an ever better black ice symbol that makes an appearance in one Theon’s later ADWD chapters, and in the same place as the wedding – in the godswood, before the heart tree. This time it is the cold black pond beneath the heart tree itself that freezes over:
The heart tree stood before him, a pale giant with a carved face and leaves like bloody hands. A thin film of ice covered the surface of the pool beneath the weirwood.
This is the ouroboros of black ice symbolism, where the head eats the tail, because Ned cleaning “black Ice” in this black pond is kind of an iconic image. The first time we saw Ned at Winterfell, we saw him cleaning “black Ice” in the black pond, and when Bran seem Ned through the eyes of the heart tree in his last ADWD chapter, he sees Ned sitting on a rock beside the black pool cleaning Ice. By having the black pond freeze over where Ned dips his sword “black Ice”, Martin is giving us a great clue that we should think of Ned’s black Ice as part of a larger black ice symbol.
There’s a lot more to see and discuss in that scene – Ramsay even has a wheel of “veined cheese,” meaning blue-veined cheese and thus another symbol of the Others, like the blue-veined marble at the Eyrie – but I want to stick with the theme of turning fire cold. I think it’s sufficient to see that at the weddings of these two unmistakable ice queen / Night’s Queen figures, we have the shivering flames symbolism appearing with dragon locked in ice symbolism and ties to the Starks and Winterfell. These two parallel wedding scenes go nicely with Jon’s scenes at the Wall, being representations of the RLJ formula. This is an alchemical wedding of a different sort we’re talking about here: one which transform fire into cold fire and makes ice burn.
And when I say cold fire, I’m talking about the mystery of why the Others have cold-burning blue star eyes, and why Martin is fond of telling us that “nothing burns like the cold.” You’ll recall that at the end of the last episode, I said the understanding how Jon is the living incarnation of the song of ice fire would help us understand the Others, and that’s what we’re about to discuss.
Freezing Fire, Burning Cold
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The song of ice and fire is more than just ice vs. fire. More than dragons and flaming swords against Others. It’s not just a conflict and a balance bet ween opposite forces – it’s also a song, after all, a harmonization. To that end, I’ve noticed an cool bit of symmetry in ASOIAF while thinking about elemental magic: sure, we have ice and fire, anyone can see that, but we also have both frozen fire (dragonglass) and burning ice (the cold burning blue star eyes of the Others) given to us as important symbols. These ideas, while strange and paradoxical-seeming at first, clearly speak of some sort of a harmonization of ice and fire. We’re going to spend more time on the burning ice idea, so let’s quickly discuss frozen fire in the context of everything we gone over so far.
The dragonglass knives which are becoming more valuable by the minute as the story progresses are also known by the Valyrian phrase meaning “frozen fire,” and this is a fairly literal description: dragonglass is obsidian, and obsidian is cooled magma – literally molten fire that froze and hardened into place under just the right circumstances. Calling obsidian ‘frozen fire’ is therefore apt, but George seems to be using this concept to define its magical properties: obsidian represents a piece of fire magic frozen in place, good for making black knives which kill ice demons.
Fire consumes and ice preserves, Martin tells us, and it seems if you use a freezing action to temper fire, you can fix it in place. If fire magic is a sword without a hilt, the act of freezing fire seems to add the hilt and makes it a weapon anyone can wield against the Others. In other words, it takes a red priest and a lot of pain and sacrifice to be able to wield raw fire magic as Melisandre does, but anyone can use dragonglass to stab white walkers, because it is a fire weapon that has been ‘stabilized’ by ice. It almost seems like it’s a better weapon than raw fire because it contains both an ice and fire nature.
In fact, I wonder if Jon’s Longclaw might be giving us a clue about this – its blade is smoke-dark Valyrian steel, but its hilt is a white wolf’s head with red eyes made from a “pale stone.” The pommel evokes the weirwoods, who share Ghost’s coloring and turn to pale stone if they should die, as well as Dawn, a magic sword made from a pale stone. I’ve long thought that Longclaw was showing an ice and fire unity for this reason, although I think it’s also implying the idea of weirwood as a stabilizing pommel for dragon magic. Said another way, the black blade being swallowed by the white wolf’s head shows Azor Ahai being swallowed by the weirwoodnet and Jon’s spirit being swallowed by his wolf who resembles a weirwood. So too is the black meteor swallowed by the ice moon.
Speaking of Valyrian steel, like dragonglass, it also kills ice demons – at least, in the show we know that is true, and in the books, some characters think this will be the case, and many in the fandom including myself expect that they are right. In a sense, you could think of Valyrian steel (and really all swords) as ‘frozen fire’ in the sense that they are formed in a molten state, then cooled and hardened and fixed into their shape, but there’s an even better clue about Valyrian steel in particular being “frozen fire” in a symbolic sense, and that’s Ned’s smoke-dark Valyrian steel sword named Ice.
Because Ned’s ancestor who wielded Ice was nicknamed “Barth Blacksword,” I think it’s okay to simply call Ned’s very dark grey sword “black,” and thus “black Ice.” It was forged in dragonfire, but now it’s black Ice – a frozen black dragon sword, essentially, and another symbol of the harmonization of ice and fire. And again, if both Valyrian steel and Dragonglass are black weapons forged in fire that kill the Others, it makes sense to think about them both as frozen fire.
Hopefully this goes without saying, but when the black moon meteors drink the fire of the sun, and then cool to black meteorites (particularly when tempered in the ice of the ice moon), they would also be frozen fire. Presumably, if I am right that Azor Ahai forged his sword from a black meteorite, it would also kill Others, and thus it’s more or less the same as Valyrian steel or dragonglass; they’re all black, frozen fire weapons associated with dragons that kill Others.
We have already identified “black ice” as an important symbol to Jon, a frozen black dragon figure who dreams of being armored in black ice while his sword burns red like Lightbringer. Jon is a man named “Snow” who wears black from head to heel – a black snow, in other words, and that’s almost the same thing as black ice. He often thinks of his father’s sword ‘black Ice,’ even thinking that Ice was the sword he really wanted when Lord Commander Mormont gave him Longclaw. This is one reason I would like to see Jon get his hands on Oathkeeper, but that’s beside the point. Black ice is a symbol which seems to encompass both Jon and his father’s black sword Ice, and I think it also includes dragonglass, a.k.a. frozen fire.
Simply put, dragonglass is black, and it looks like ice, and it can be considered “frozen” due to it’s “frozen fire” description. Thus I tend to see black ice and frozen fire as the same symbol, one which refers to obsidian and Valyrian steel and even frozen black meteors. Comets, in fact, can be described as black ice, because they are made up of rock and ice and metal, and as I have mentioned before, they are coated in an ultra-black tar called “space goo” which is a little bit similar to the char on a barbecue grill. Repeat: comets are literal hunks of black ice and metal that look like flying, fiery swords and dragons.
Thus it should come as no surprise that Jon the black ice dragon is compared to dragonglass, such as when Stannis tells Jon in ADWD that
“..you are the weapon the Lord has given me. I have found you here, as you found the cache of dragonglass beneath the Fist, and I mean to make use of you. Even Azor Ahai did not win his war alone.”
When Stannis talks of making use of Jon like a piece of frozen fire, he’s speaking of making Jon the Lord of Winterfell, which would make him the rightful owner of Ned’s black Ice, in a sense. When Jon considers the offer, it says:
He wanted it, Jon knew then. He wanted it as much as he had ever wanted anything. I have always wanted it, he thought, guiltily. May the gods forgive me. It was a hunger inside him, sharp as a dragonglass blade.
Finally, when Jon turns down the offer and is elected Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch instead, the token which signifies a vote for Jon is the arrowhead – the line is “The rest was arrowheads, a torrent of arrowheads, a flood of arrowheads, arrowheads enough to drown the last few stones and shells, and all the copper pennies too.” These arrowheads aren’t dragonglass, but gives Jon’s dragonglass symbolism, I think we can read these arrowheads that stand for a vote for Jon as symbolizing dragonglass, and thus we have three scenes revolving around Jon becoming wither Lord of Winterfell or Lord Commander of the Watch which equate Jon with dragonglass.
As the first quote alluded to, Jon, with the help of Ghost, was the one who found the cache of dragonglass by the Fist of the First men. And as Poor Quentyn pointed out on our recent livestream, which you can find on our YouTube channel, the cache of dragonglass was wrapped in a Night’s Watch cloak, as if it were a watchmen made of dragonglass. That’s what Jon is implied as, a black brother who is like dragonglass.
By the way, you gotta love the meteor shower symbolism here – a flood of arrowheads. If they are sort of representing the idea of the dragonglass arrowheads and if dragonglass is meant to be seen as black ice, then we have rivers of black ice here to signify Jon’s promotion, which of course would be highly appropriate! There’s the torrent language again too, and of course Jon has a lot of Sword of the morning symbolism as we have seen before. A torrent of black ice, however, sounds like Valyrian steel being compared to Dawn as an opposite of Dawn, which makes a lot of sense. It’s very similar to this quote from Barristan’s ADWD chapter about a black dawn, which comes only a page after Jon’s death:
He took his last shuddering breath in the bleak black dawn, as cold rain hissed from a dark sky to turn the brick streets of the old city into rivers.
That was actually the opening of the chapter right after John feels “only the cold,” which helps to juxtapose Jon’s death with Quentyn’s, something we’ll explore another time. We’ve talked before about how when Barristan sees a red slash a moment later denoting the sunrise, he compares it to the blood welling from a deep wound even before pain is felt – the exact thing that happened to Jon a page before when Wick Wittlestick slashed his neck.
Now as with torrent of arrowheads quote, the symbolism here applies to Jon and to the black sword that he represents – rivers of cold black rain running through the streets are very close to rivers of black ice we always see when Jon’s conception is metaphorically depicted, and these rivers of cold black rain come during the black dawn after Jon’s death. Think about: Dawn the sword is basically described as white Valyrian steel, so a Valyrian steel sword can be thought of as a “black Dawn.” Dawn the white sword is also the original Ice, and Valyrian steel is also black Ice in a sense. And here in this scene, we see the rivers of cold black rain appearing alongside the black dawn motif. Instead of symbolizing Jon’s conception and birth, I’d say we are talking about Jon’s rebirth here, since he’s just died. The black dawn motif also suggests a dark day, such as we have during the Long Night, so it would seem Jon’s death and rebirth will likely be tied to the new Long Night, where’s he’ll need all the frozen fire weapons he can get: “black Dawn” swords and black ice dragonglass knives, some Valyrian steel armor would be sweet, etc.
You’ll also notice the cold black rain in this scene “hisses” as it falls, adding a serpentine cast to this whole thing to make us think of dragonglass or dragon-like meteors.
As I pointed out last time, it’s especially notable that Stannis talks about using Jon like dragonglass in that one quote, and then speaks of Azor Ahai fighting his war. Obviously there’s synergy here as either flaming swords or dragonglass are useful for fighting Others, and Jon’s dream of being armored in black ice also has Oathkeeper burning red. We can see that the black ice and frozen fire symbols, in addition to being tied to Jon, seem to snuggle up with Azor Ahai and the Night’s Watch and the idea of fighting the Others, is what I’m trying to say.
In summation, Jon is the dragon locked in ice, so describing him as frozen fire makes a ton of sense. That’s the whole deal with the dragon seed being planted in the cold womb; it freezes the dragon fire. Hence the red streaks of fire turning to black ice in the cracks of the Wall, and Jon being encased in black ice armor atop the Wall. Jon is the frozen dragon seed, and frozen fire, black ice, dragonglass, and this black Dawn idea are all his personal symbols.
Speaking beyond the context of Jon, the frozen fire symbol is just what it sounds like – fire frozen solid. It’s a combination of fire and ice which plays on team fire, and it also goes by the name “black Ice.” But before we ever heard of frozen fire, we hear of the burning qualities of ice, and this is from the prologue of AGOT:
“It was the cold,” Gared said with iron certainty. “I saw men freeze last winter, and the one before, when I was half a boy. Everyone talks about snows forty foot deep, and how the ice wind comes howling out of the north, but the real enemy is the cold. It steals up on you quieter than Will, and at first you shiver and your teeth chatter and you stamp your feet and dream of mulled wine and nice hot fires. It burns, it does. Nothing burns like the cold.
Nothing burns like the cold, indeed. This idea is referenced when the first Other is sighted a few pages later:
The Other halted. Will saw its eyes; blue, deeper and bluer than any human eyes, a blue that burned like ice. They fixed on the longsword trembling on high, watched the moonlight running cold along the metal. For a heartbeat he dared to hope.
It’s a vein hope, of course, as Ser Waymar falls to the pale blades of the white walkers, though we can admire his courage to stand against them in the first place. And cold moonlight is always a nice thing to see around the Others when you have a theory about a moon with an affinity for ice… but those eyes. They are “a blue that burned liked ice.” We were just told that nothing burns like the cold, and now that phrase takes on new relevance as we stare into the blue eyes of the Other along with Will and Waymar.
After the Others dispatch Waymar and leave, Will climbs down, only to be confronted with Warmar’s wighted corpse, and once again, Martin makes the point about burning cold:
The right eye was open. The pupil burned blue. It saw.
Three times in one prologue: let’s just say it makes an impression. I’d call it the dominant motif of the entire prologue.
The next time we see a pair of blue star eyes, well, they burn too:
The hooded man lifted his pale moon face, and Jon slashed at it without hesitation. The sword laid the intruder open to the bone, taking off half his nose and opening a gash cheek to cheek under those eyes, eyes, eyes like blue stars burning. Jon knew that face. Othor, he thought, reeling back. Gods, he’s dead, he’s dead, I saw him dead.
Burning blue star eyes, once again, and this time in a moon face too! That would be an ice moon symbol, obviously, and Jon the dark solar figure has used his sword to leave a crack across the face of the moon, if you will. The wight is the black brother formerly known as Othor, which is one letter away from Other, and indeed I think he is symbolizing the Others as a whole with his blue star eyes and slashed moon face. That slash would represent the the mark the black moon meteor made piercing the ice moon, according to the theory, and of course Jon is the right one to deliver that blow. He’s like the Night’s King or Rhaegar with their ice moon queens, except his ice moon queen is a wight and he’s giving it his sword instead of his… “sword.”
Jon recalls the incident later with this line:
He still saw the wight in his dreams, dead Othor with the burning blue eyes and the cold black hands…
Burning, once again. Cold, and yet burning.
The next occurrence of blue star eyes is when Jon talks to Gilly in ACOK, which we quoted last time. Gilly says Craster gives his male sons to the “cold gods, the white shadows,” then Jon asks “What color are their eyes,” to which she responds “Blue. As bright as blue stars, and as cold.” So again, they are stars – burning things – but they are cold. Of course in terms of flame temperature, blue flame is hotter than orange flame, and in terms of stars, blue ones are the second hottest after white stars. Martin has imagined blue stars as cold, but it’s a burning cold. When he says nothing burns like the cold, he’s almost implying that very cold things are actually the hottest kind of burn out there. Any way you slice it, blue stars seem to be both very cold and very hot at the same time in ASOIAF.
The next sighting of wights or Others comes in Sam’s flashbacks to the Fist of the First Men at the beginning of ASOS. He’s remembering the wighted snow bear:
The bear was dead, pale and rotting, its fur and skin all sloughed off and half its right arm burned to bone, yet still it came on. Only its eyes lived. Bright blue, just as Jon said. They shone like frozen stars.
Like starfire… but turned cold. The phrase “frozen star” even implies a process by which star’s fire is frozen and transformed into cold fire. This process is important; this is Night’s Queen taking the fiery seed and soul of Night’s King to make the Others, the cold burning star people. This is why I started talking about the Others as frozen dragons when I introduced the theory that Night’s King was a blood of the dragon person. As you can see, Martin really seems captivated by this concept of the Others having a cold, internal fire; indeed, I would say that burning cold symbolism is actually what defines the magic that animates the Others and the wights.
Moving right along… Sam sees a white walker later in this chapter, but it’s eyes are not described. That’s the one Sam kills with a dragonglass dagger. We can observe, however, that frozen fire seems to beat burning ice, unless burning ice has more tricks up its sleeve. I for one would not want to try to wield dragonglass against Dawn, especially Dawn burning with some sort of blue or white fire. Anyway, this is also the scene where we got a look at the pale as milkglass bones of the Others, for what its worth.
Later in ASOS, Sam confronts the wighted corpse of Small Paul, who died fighting the Other with Sam earlier. The burning ice theme features prominently:
Before he could get out his other knife, the steel knife that every brother carried, the wight’s black hands locked beneath his chins. Paul’s fingers were so cold they seemed to burn. They burrowed deep into the soft flesh of Sam’s throat. Run, Gilly, run, he wanted to scream, but when he opened his mouth only a choking sound emerged.
His fumbling fingers finally found the dagger, but when he slammed it up into the wight’s belly the point skidded off the iron links, and the blade went spinning from Sam’s hand. Small Paul’s fingers tightened inexorably, and began to twist. He’s going to rip my head off, Sam thought in despair. His throat felt frozen, his lungs on fire. He punched and pulled at the wight’s wrists, to no avail. He kicked Paul between the legs, uselessly. The world shrank to two blue stars, a terrible crushing pain, and a cold so fierce that his tears froze over his eyes
The wighted Paul has hands so cold they seem to burn, Sam’s throat is frozen, but his lungs are on fire, and then finally the world shrinks to Paul’s face and those blue star eyes. That last bit makes it sound like those blue stars are getting closer to the world – falling from the sky in other words. When stars are rapidly getting bigger, that means they coming towards you, ha ha.
There’s matching line from AGOT during Jon’s fight with the moon-faced and undead Othor in Mormont’s study we need to look at. After Jon slashes his face and his burning blue star eyes are described, we get this:
Dead Othor slammed into him, knocking him off his feet.
Jon’s breath went out of him as the fallen table caught him between his shoulder blades. The sword, where was the sword? He’d lost the damned sword! When he opened his mouth to scream, the wight jammed its black corpse fingers into Jon’s mouth. Gagging, he tried to shove it off, but the dead man was too heavy. Its hand forced itself farther down his throat, icy cold, choking him. Its face was against his own, filling the world. Frost covered its eyes, sparkling blue.
So, very like the wighted Small Paul, Othor’s cold moon face and burning and sparkling, frosty blue star eyes are filling the world. Now, there are two ways to interpret these two scenes with Sam and Jon confronting wights with expanding faces. It could be the image of pieces of ice moon falling to the earth, as I mentioned, but it could also be the black meteor’s point-of-view as the ice moon swallows it. Othor’s face is pressed against Jon, creating the idea of a collision, and in this sense, Jon is simply paralleling the sword he used to slash Othor’s face.
Sam, like Jon, is a black brother, and his experience describes a “crushing” pain as his body parts begin to freeze. Sam has a moon face on four occasions, one of which gives him a “red moon face,” so I think we can see Sam as a fire moon-turned-black meteor, very like Jon, and in fact all Night’s Watch brothers have the symbolism of black shadows and black meteors. Sam is now being crushed by a cold wight with cold blue star eyes, which could read like the last journal entry of the fire moon meteor before getting trapped in the ice. Sam’s tears freeze in his eyes, giving him ice-eyes, like the statues of the Kings of Winter and a couple Starks and Boltons.
The last mention of blue star eyes that isn’t a reference to the Ice Dragon constellation or the Night’s Queen comes when Bran and company are seeking entrance to Bloodraven’s cave with Coldhands in ADWD. The wights that attack have eyes that “glowed like pale blue stars,” so it’s basically just more of the same.
I think we can observe Martin’s consistency here: I mean, he’s not known for being a disciplined writer, at least in terms of meeting deadlines or using outlines, but he is very disciplined about how he describes the Others and their eyes. They are very cold, the coldest things around – and yet they burn. Martin has chosen the symbol of the blue star to symbolize this all important concept of the burning cold, and we see it consistently wherever Others and wights and Ice Dragons and Corpse Queens are found.
The Black Dot
This final section is sponsored by Patchface of Motley Wisdom, High Priest of the Church of Starry Wisdom, and by Archmaester Aemma, founder of the Maiden Maesters & keeper of the two-headed sphinx
Now we have arrived at the heart of the matter regarding of all the clues about Night’s King being a blood of the dragon person: his fire was needed to make the burning cold energy that animates the Others. The internal cold fire shown in the eyes of the Others is reflective of their dragon heritage through the Night’s King, who in turn is either linked to Azor Ahai or is himself Azor Ahai. Thus, Azor Ahai’s connection to the Others may run deeper than the idea of him slaying them with his red sword. He is their daddy!
We could have turned this idea around and asked the question “why does the cold associated with the Others always burn? Why do they seem to have cold internal fire, shining out through their blue star eyes?” And now we know, or at least, we have a good theory to provide the answer to that question: because the Night’s Queen transmuted the fire of the blood of the dragon and created the Others.
I mentioned that ice and fire are the yin and yang of the story, and the yin yang expresses a vital truth here: there is no such thing as purity. The white half of the yin yang, the yang side, contains a black dot, the black yin side contains a white dot, and the point is that everything contains an element of its opposite. The dividing line is also not a straight line, but rather an S shape, where one side tapers off into the other. This speaks of cycles, meaning that life and death are part of the one cycle, as are day and night or summer and winter. It’s easy to see how consistent this is with some of the philosophy George has used to define ASOIAF, and that’s because George is an old hippie and old hippies know what’s up with this sort of thing.
Here’s what this means for ice and fire: in addition to fire and ice being inverted parallels of one another like the visual depiction of the yin yang, we know that fire can have a frozen aspect to it when it appears as frozen fire, and ice can have a burning quality, particularly with the blue star eyes of the Others and the wights. Frozen fire still plays on team fire, and the burning cold is definitely on team ice, if you will pardon the sort of overly basic euphemism. The somewhat paradoxical concepts of frozen fire and burning ice are simply George’s creative depiction of this aspect of yin and yang.
In A Storm of Swords, the Daoist philosophy of the yin yang is only thinly disguised as Bran and Meera and Jojen travel the North and the conversation turns deep. Meera says that she both loves and hates the mountains – loving them because they are beautiful, hating them because they are arduous to climb or go around – but Bran objects, saying that it’s impossible to both love and hate something. She responds:
“Why can’t it be both?” Meera reached up to pinch his nose.
“Because they’re different,” he insisted. “Like night and day, or ice and fire.”
“If ice can burn,” said Jojen in his solemn voice, “then love and hate can mate.
As I was saying, it seems we are being encouraged to think of the concept of burning ice as representing a unity of opposites, a mating of love and hate. Jojen could just as easily have said “if fire can be frozen, then love and hate can mate,” and it would have made the exact same, Daoist point. Martin is showing us that the Others, with their consistently burning blue star eyes, have an element of fire inside them. It may be a cold fire, but it burns nonetheless.
Do you see what I am getting at? The Others look like they swallowed some fire and turned it cold, don’t they? That’s what George has kind of been telling us – they are not just ice, frozen and immobile. Their ice magic is active, it burns like fire. There is a burning aspect to ice, just as fire can be frozen but still retain the magical qualities of fire, as dragonglass does.
I think he does this in part to amp up the power of the ice side of things to be able to rival the force and power of fire and the fire dragons, and in part because it’s just plain fun. That’s why he’s been thinking about ice dragons, or perhaps even a wighted dragon, and showing us the Others with burning blue star eyes. But of course I tend to think Martin does things with a lot of intention, and of course I am suggesting that there’s an important reason why the Others seem to have a cold internal fire: because their creator, the Night’s King, was the blood of the dragon.
Speaking in celestial terms, it’s a two-way street. When the fiery meteor interacts with the ice moon, it’s a wedding of ice and fire. Fire is frozen, and ice is animated with a burning quality. We can think of that black meteor inside the ice moon as filling it with fire energy – fire energy which the ice moon turns cold, just as the cold womb of the Night’s Queen transforms the fire of Night’s King into the burning cold of the Others. It’s worth noting that that meteor in the ice moon would the same breed of magical black meteor worshiped by the Bloodstone Emperor, and which I propose was used to make Azor Ahai’s black sword called Lightbringer – that’s powerful stuff.
You may have noticed this by now, but that black dot on the white half of the yin yang looks an awful lot like a black dragon meteor locked in ice – and indeed, a black meteor in a white moon would look a lot like the white side of the yin yang. It’s not just a visual correlation of course, but a thematic one – the black meteor in the ice moon does indeed represent the fire element to the ice side of things.
People who have watched the show will recognize that the magical ritual they created to explain the origin of their Night King character, who was turned into a blue-eyed white walker king by the act of shoving dragonglass into the heart of a living human, matches the dragon locked in ice pattern to a T, with Night’s King as the Ice moon and the dragonglass as the black meteor that fills things with cold fire. Of course, the show version of Night King doesn’t seem to exist in the books, or may not exist, and the show always simplifies issues of magic from their book canon, but I since I had this theory long before that episode aired, it definitely caught my eye. I’m not basing my theory here on anything in the show, however it was too close a match not to mention it, and at the least, it serves to illustrate the principle I am proposing. And of course it is possible that the show got their idea about stabbing people with magic rocks to make white walkers from something similar in the books we haven’t learned about yet.
I’d like to close this episode with a vision of Rhaegar as Night’s King. Now, I’ve implied a couple of times that Night’s King must have transformed himself in the process of giving his seed and soul to Night’s Queen, and a transformation is also implied in Old Nan’s line about Night’s King: “Night’s King was only a man by light of day, but the night was his to rule.” Jaime gets a glimpse of Rhaegar’s shade in his weirwood stump dream from AFFC, and it seems that George is using the scene as an opportunity to show us transformed, post death Rhaegar as a frozen dragon Night’s King figure:
“..there came two riders on pale horses, men and mounts both armored. The destriers emerged from the blackness at a slow walk. They make no sound, Jaime realized. No splashing, no clink of mail nor clop of hoof. He remembered Eddard Stark, riding the length of Aerys’s throne room wrapped in silence. Only his eyes had spoken; a lord’s eyes, cold and grey and full of judgment.
“Is it you, Stark?” Jaime called. “Come ahead. I never feared you living, I do not fear you dead.”
Brienne touched his arm. “There are more.”
He saw them too. They were armored all in snow, it seemed to him, and ribbons of mist swirled back from their shoulders. The visors of their helms were closed, but Jaime Lannister did not need to look upon their faces to know them. Five had been his brothers. Oswell Whent and Jon Darry. Lewyn Martell, a prince of Dorne. The White Bull, Gerold Hightower. Ser Arthur Dayne, Sword of the Morning. And beside them, crowned in mist and grief with his long hair streaming behind him, rode Rhaegar Targaryen, Prince of Dragonstone and rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
Prince Rhaegar burned with a cold light, now white, now red, now dark. “I left my wife and children in your hands.”
This is actually the one “Kingsguard as Others” quote I somehow forgot to include in Moons of Ice and Fire 2: Dawn of the Others, but I’m glad I saved it. Not only are the Kingsguard described as “pale shades” who are “armored all in snow,” the mist swirling from their shoulders also mimics the Others, whom Tormund describes as “white mists,” saying “how do you fight a mist, crow?” Of course we have the actual Sword of the Morning, Arthur Dayne, present, which is nice, and then to cap it off, we see Rhaegar, burning with a cold light that shifts from white to red to “dark.” You know what I’m going to say here right – it’s dark Lightbringer time again!
For what it’s worth, we might see an echo of this scene if fAegon – the man claiming to be Rhaegar’s son – will eventually be seen with the sword Blackfyre, as seems likely from certain clues about Illyrio, and if, as I predict, he takes Gerold Darkstar Dayne into his kingsguard after Darkstar – again, as I predict – steals Dawn from Starfall. Rhegar and his cold, dark light would parallel fAegon with Blackfyre, and Arthur Dayne with Dawn would be paralleled by Darkstar with Dawn.
When Martin talks about dark light or shadow fire, you can be sure this is more yin and yang style harmonization of opposites creativity. Rhaegar’s color change from red to white to dark implies a draining of light, a la Melisandre pulling from Stannis’s life fires to create the shadowbabies, and “burning with a cold light” is language that really belongs to the Others, as we just saw. But then, here is Rhaegar, leading a crowd of white shadows dressed in snow and mist, so I guess it all makes sense!
The whole thing about Night’s King being a blood of the dragon person is that his fire is transformed into the cold fire of the Others, and that’s what Rhaegar is showing us in this vision. This is an image of Rhaegar after his death, representing post-transformation Night’s King, and he now burns with a cold light which is also turning dark, having created his army or white shadows with his own life fires.
And who stands there, facing him? Two folks with flaming swords – ones which burn with “pale flame” and “silvery blue flame.” Jaime and Brienne both have a certain kind of last hero symbolism, and both were the owners of Oathkeeper, formerly the black Ice of House Stark. We’ll have to unravel this end of the exchange in the dream cave below Casterly Rock another time of course, but the fact that Night’s King Rhaegar and his snowy white shadows are opposed by flaming sword heroes only enhances the War for the Dawn vibe of this scene, and helps to confirm our identification of Rhaegar as the Night’s King figure in this scene.
Now, to preview the next episode, let me point to a question I’ve left hanging. You understand why the Others represent burning ice – because Night’s Queen froze the blood of the dragon to make them. But why does Jon represent frozen fire? If Jon and the Others come from the same “dark solar king impregnates icy moon queen” formula, why isn’t Jon’s symbolism simply that of the Others? Why is Jon instead like an inverted Other, with black ice armor instead of white? Why do both Jon and House Stark in general seem to have a connection to the Others, yet seem sworn to oppose them?
There’s a really, really good answer, and it’s going to be our next big Mythical Astronomy breakthrough discovery, if I do say so myself. Namely, we are going to get down to the nitty gritty of the founding of House Stark and the identity of the last hero. So get ready for that, and for some new characters from the books we haven’t discussed before. As usual, we’ll be doing a livestream QnA to follow up on this episode about a week after this comes out, on whatever that next Saturday is, at 3:30 EST, so be sure to come join in the fun with all of us.