Well, here we are – arrived in the Vale of Arryn, at last. It’s an ice moon symbol so massive and spectacular that I simply had to save it for it’s own day in the sun. The Vale has the entire vocabulary of the ice moon on display, and so I’ve been tempted to bring it up many times throughout the Moons of Ice and Fire series and Blood of the Other series, but it so quickly becomes a new section and blows up my current train of thought that I usually end up cutting it out. So now it’s all piled up high, like a mountain of snow, and now it’s time to trigger an avalanche of ice moon symbolism.
There’s another reasaon I set aside the lovely and surprisingly lively Vale of Arryn, and all the wondrous symbolism that goes on there: it brings up a whole new topic that is central to the mysteries we’ve been pursuing thus far. What topic is this? Well, it’s the title of this new series: signs and portals. The name is a continuation of my little joke of aping the title of famous bookss in Planetosi lore – first my Bloodstone Compendium to mime Colloquo Votar’s Jade Compendium, and of course “Signs and Portents” is the book which supposedly contains all the prophecies by Daenys the Dream Targaryen, who foresaw the Doom (again, supposedly) twelve years before it happened, enabling the Targaryens to relocate to Dragonstone and become the only living Valyrian-blooded family in possession of dragons in the world.
But what we are looking for, and what I’ve been building up to for quiiiiiiite a while now is the idea of portals, so we’re looking for signs of portals. They are everywhere, and we’ve actually been talking about them for a while now, beating around the proverbial burning bush if you will. The so-called “weirwoodnet” is certainly a kind of portal which greenseers can use to project their consciousness across time and space. Any time someone dies and comes back from death, that’s going to involve portal symbolism. And I don’t want you to think we are talking about portals because they are magical and fun and I’ve just sort of chosen them for a topic. I think longtime Mythical Astronomers know that I’m always following a few main threads of symbolism and meaning and building upon past ideas and discoveries to sort of feel our way around in the dark and discover the secrets Martin wants to keep hidden… well mostly hidden. These lines of research mostly dictate the topic, in that I’m always writing about whatever I feel needs to come next based on what we’ve learned so far.
The three main threads we’ve followed up to this point are the Technicolor Trident Trio, R G and B. Roy G Biv, the man with a multicolor, multi-pronged eating utensil. By which I mean… fire magic, ice magic, and greenseer magic. Dragons, Others, and Weirwoods.
We started with quite a lot about dragons of course, with five of the Bloodstone Compendium dedicated to dragons, Azor Ahai, the Long Night disaster, the truth of the sword known as “Lightbringer,” and so on.
The Sacred Order of Green Zombies delved into the hidden virtues of zombie-hood, which seems to mostly tie to greenseer and weirwood magic, but also seems to incorporate ice magic (in the case of Coldhands) and fire magic (as with the symbolism and foreshadowing of the Night’s Watch as fire wights). A lot of the green man folkore in the Green Zombies series is also good general background for understanding the greenseers, the children of the forest, and House Stark’s role as the King of Winter (which, spoiler alert, charges him with self sacrificial immolation to bring the spring).
Then I had a true bolt of lightning brainwave, of the biggest since my original discovery of moon meteors, and that was the idea of Azor Ahai being a greenseer, or perhaps we should say “someone who entered the weirwoodnet.” Ravenous Reader likes to say “I put the fire in the tree,” and what I am talking about here is Weirwood Compendium 1: The Grey King and the Sea Dragon. It’s an accurate but unfortunately misleading name for an essay which should probably have been called “OMG AZOR AHAI WAS A MOTHERF—ING GREENSEER Y’ALL!” It’s simply a quirk of the fact that the Ironborn mythology just so happens to be the key to understanding how Lightbringer & moon meteor magic and weirwood / greenseer magic are linked to one another as the two sides of the “fire of the gods” coin. I imagine a gold coin with one side having a Garth head like the pre-Targaryen Westerosi gold coins had, and the other with a Targaryen dragon such as all the post-conquest gold coins have had. After Grey King and the Sea dragon, the weirwood compendium series mostly explored the greenseer / weirwood connection and the related lore Martin used to craft it, although we continued to see signs of Azor Ahai running around inside the weirwoodnet – nowhere more so than in Weirwood Compendium 4: In a Grove of Ash, where we caught him red-handed in the act of going into the trees.
✧ Greenseer Kings of Ancient Westeros
✧ Return of the Summer King
✧ The God-on-Earth
End of Ice and Fire
✧ Burn Them All
✧ The Sword in the Tree
✧ The Cold God’s Eye
✧ The Battle of Winterfell
✧ Astronomy Explains the Legends of I&F
✧ The Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai
✧ Waves of Night & Moon Blood
✧ The Mountain vs. the Viper & the Hammer of the Waters
✧ Tyrion Targaryen
✧ Lucifer means Lightbringer
Sacred Order of Green Zombies A
✧ The Last Hero & the King of Corn
✧ King of Winter, Lord of Death
✧ The Long Night’s Watch
Great Empire of the Dawn
✧ History and Lore of House Dayne
✧ The Great Empire of the Dawn
✧ Flight of the Bones
Moons of Ice and Fire
✧ Shadow Heart Mother
✧ Dawn of the Others
✧ Visenya Draconis
✧ The Long Night Was His to Rule
✧ R+L=J, A Recipe for Ice Dragons
The Blood of the Other
✧ Prelude to a Chill
✧ A Baelful Bard & a Promised Prince
✧ The Stark that Brings the Dawn
✧ Eldric Shadowchaser
✧ Prose Eddard
✧ Ice Moon Apocalypse
Weirwood Compendium A
✧ The Grey King & the Sea Dragon
✧ A Burning Brandon
✧ Garth of the Gallows
✧ In a Grove of Ash
✧ Venus of the Woods
✧ It’s an Arya Thing
✧ The Cat Woman Nissa Nissa
Weirwood Compendium B
✧ To Ride the Green Dragon
✧ The Devil and the Deep Green Sea
✧ Daenerys the Sea Dreamer
✧ A Silver Seahorse
Signs and Portals
✧ Veil of Frozen Tears
✧ Sansa Locked in Ice
Sacred Order of Green Zombies B
✧ The Zodiac Children of Garth the Green
✧ The Great Old Ones
✧ The Horned Lords
✧ Cold Gods and Old Bones
We Should Start Back
✧ AGOT Prologue
In a Grove of Ash really tied together two of the three branches of the story: fire magic and the weirwoodnet. I’m not even going to begin to summarize; that’s a good one to re-listen to if you don’t remember it well. In fact, that’s kind of where this introduction is going: to really get the Signs and Portals series, you kinda need to catch up on any back episodes you haven’t listened to – the scripted episodes only, I’m talking about. I wrote the Moons of Ice and Fire to be accessible for anyone who simply knows my basic moon meteor theory, but at this point we’re ready to begin tying things together like never before, and for that to work, it’s necessary to understand what we’ve uncovered so far.
Now when we followed Azor Ahai’s path into the ‘grove of ash,’ a euphemism for the weirwoodnet, we made another discovery: Nissa Nissa was already there waiting for us. Thus was the Weirwood Goddess series born. Nissa Nissa, it seems, is some sort of elf-woman tied to the weirwoods, almost certainly a human-children of the forest hybrid or a straight-up child of the forest. Heck, maybe the green men have green woman who are taller and more to Azor’s liking. Any-who, it seems that when Azor Ahai sacrificed Nissa Nissa in some sort of magic ritual, she went into the weirwoods first… and not only that, I believe that the indications point towards her being the person the opened up the weirwoodnet for greenseers to inhabit in the first place. Nissa Nissa’s symbolism has led us to describe her as “the weirwood goddess,” and this is an archetype played by all the fiery Nissa Nissa characters, almost too many to count off quickly. Nissa Nissa is analogous to the weirwood tree itself, and here I believe the symbolism is somewhat literal. The weirwoodnet IS Nissa Nissa, in some sense, almost as if her mind merging with the weirwood tree conscious created the weirwoodnet as we know it today, and every greenseer is living inside the mind of dead Nissa Nissa.
Or something. As I like to say, “something along those lines,” because we’re getting closer to the frontier of what I’ve already explored a bit and feel I understand with some degree of confidence. I mean, not that close, I have lots and lots of notes for episodes to come… but as I start this series, I have serious, central questions that I do not currently know the answers too that I hope to discover in the process of writing and researching these episodes. I’ll introduce a couple of those to you today in these first two episodes.
I will say this, right off the bat: a lot of the mystery has to do with people going in and out of the weirwoodnet. We’ve caught Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa both going in there, we’ve begun to see that the Others probably come out of there, something we still need to talk about. Just as Nissa Nissa seems linked to the weirwoods, Night’s Queen does to, and say, is there a connection between Nissa Nissa and Night’s Queen? IS Nissa Nissa Night’s Queen? Or, more like, did dead Nissa Nissa become the infamous Corpse Queen of the Night’s King whom we call Night’s Queen? The weirwoodnet seem to be a sort of underworld, and it seems to be a potential vehicle for transformation – particularly as people go into or come out of it.
Thus, we’ve reached the central topic of Signs and Portals: the idea of the weirwoodnet as a door and everything that goes along with that. The means by which that door is created, used, abused, and perhaps shut. Who goes in and out, and what happens to them as they do. Most importantly, what’s it like inside? Are people stuck in there, and if so, who? Are there rescue missions, battle going on in there? Is it all one place, or are there sections? Ah, but I get ahead of myself. I think you lords and ladies get the idea.
So, with all that said, this is still the Sansa / Vale episode, or at least, this one and the next one and probably the one after that. As I said at the beginning, one of the reasons I held off on the Eyrie stuff is because so much of it has to do with the portal symbolism, and I just wasn’t ready to talk about it yet. We’re going to approach the Eyrie and the Vale as an ice moon symbol, because that’s clearly what it is and it’s basically the only ice moon symbol place we haven’t been too yet, but the portal stuff is going to begin creeping in pretty fast. Actually, right at the beginning. The Eyrie seems to be all about the ice moon with a special emphasis on doors, entrances, and exits, and yes, we’re going to talk about the Moon Door, of course. It’s made of weirwood, after all, and it turns people into moon meteors.
I’d like stop and say my thanks yous here – thanks first of all to Maester Merry, my friend from the IRL since Con of Thrones, for live performing the vocal readings from the text. Thanks to Stanley Black for the powerful-as-ever introduction music, and thanks to John Walsh for our flamenco guitar music. Thanks to George R. R. Martin for writing the books, and thanks most of all of you who’ve chosen to support Mythical Astronomy on Patreon. It really does mean a lot when someone new throws down to keep the lights on and the fires burning in the hearth, so what I’m trying to say is… you all are my light-bringers, and the wind beneath my wings. We’ve had a nice wave of new patrons since Con of Thrones and my recent appearances on certain podcasts of notoriety who are not podcasts, and you’ll be hearing some new nicknames for sure today. In fact, I’d like to welcome our new Guardian of the Galaxy Patron, Catherina of the Many Tongues, the Twin Claw, Righteous Sword of the Smallfolk and earthly avatar of Heavenly House Gemini. If you want to check out our Patreon campaign and get yourself a cool nickname and even early access to the scripted episodes, just go to LucifermeansLightbringer and click the Patreon tab, or search for Lucifermeans etc etc on Patreon. That’s why I use LmL, because the whole thing is long to say a lot. So thanks everyone, and let’s do this.
Vale of Frozen Tears
This section is sponsored with love by two brand new members of the Starry Wisdom Priesthood: Stone Dancer, The Mind’s Eye, Whorl-Master of the Trident, and Codfish the Steelbender, who words are “Under the Sea, all the metalworkers are codfish.”
We talked about the Vale and the Eyrie a little bit in the Ice Moon Apocalypse episode when we mentioned the legend of Alyssa’s tears and the icy waterfall that bears her name, and that’s actually a terrific place to start understanding the symbolism of the Vale. We compared the icy waterfall named for Alyssa to the icy waterfall in the Frostfangs that Jon Snow and Qhorin Halfhand ride through in order to take refuge in a secret cave. It was described as a moonlit curtain of water, and when Jon rides through, “the falling water slapped at them with frozen fists, and the shock of the cold seemed to stop Jon’s breath.” I pointed this out as being clear death foreshadowing language, and basically identical to the language describing Varamyr Sixskins’ death, where “he felt a shock of cold, as if he had been plunged into the icy waters of a frozen lake.”
We’ve talked a bit about how plunging through the waters of an icy lake seems to be a metaphor for an icy death transformation, or perhaps even turning into an Other or ice priestess such as we believe Night’s Queen to be. And you know what that makes the icy lake and icy waterfall symbols? Portals, that’s right! The simple way to say it is that they mark one’s entrance into the symbolic realm of the ice moon and the Others. When Jon goes through the icy, moonlit curtain of water and his breath is stopped, that’s what’s going on – the cave represents the inside of the ice moon, which also seems to represent the realm of the dead, and so Jon’s death is foreshadowed as he walks through the curtain. He’s entering the frozen part of hell, if you will, where the dragon known as Lucifer is imprisoned in a frozen lake.
Speaking of Dante, did you know that beast version of Lucifer trapped in the frozen lake has three heads which cry icy tears that in turn form the lake? I know, I know, three heads has the dragon, and icy tears like Alyssa. Poor, sad Lucifer, trapped in the cold lake, crying forever. It’s okay, he won’t stay there forever, MUAH HA HA HA oh sorry. No weird comments, please.
In any case, the point is that this curtain of water is clearly a kind of demarcation between outside and inside, between the realm of the living and the realm of the dead. This metaphorical partition or barrier is often referred to as “the veil of tears,” such as when Davos sees the frozen dragons on Dragonstone stirring as if to wake when Mel and Stannis do their Lightbringer ritual:
They were all afire now, Maid and Mother, Warrior and Smith, the Crone with her pearl eyes and the Father with his gilded beard; even the Stranger, carved to look more animal than human. The old dry wood and countless layers of paint and varnish blazed with a fierce hungry light. Heat rose shimmering through the chill air; behind, the gargoyles and stone dragons on the castle walls seemed blurred, as if Davos were seeing them through a veil of tears. Or as if the beasts were trembling, stirring . . .
Hopefully you can see the veil / Vale wordplay by now: the “Vale” of Arryn, with its frozen waterfall, in many ways represents a frozen version of the veil of tears, and everything that lies beyond it. It represents the ice moon, as I’ve said, and therefore it symbolizes the death realm, the frozen hell. The cold place beyond the veil of tears. Now although the Vale itself is very nice – it’s a lovely, picturesque fertile valley that rivals the output of the Reach -the symbolism of the Eyrie in particular is ice cold and as blue as the eyes of death, to use a well-known phrase.
This veil and curtain language has been used prominently in another famous ice moon location, and you may be thinking of it already:
Finally he looked 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. And he looked past the Wall, past endless forests cloaked in snow, past the frozen shore and the great blue-white rivers of ice and the dead plains where nothing grew or lived. North and north and north he looked, to the curtain of light at the end of the world, and then beyond that curtain. He looked deep into the heart of winter, and then he cried out, afraid, and the heat of his tears burned on his cheeks.
Now you know, the crow whispered as it sat on his shoulder. Now you know why you must live.
“Why?” Bran said, not understanding, falling, falling.
Because winter is coming.
That’s right, it’s the great curtain of light that guards the Heart of Winter, a.k.a. Aurora Borealis, a.k.a. ‘the dawn of the north.’ Beyond that curtain is the Heart of Winter – symbolically, the heart of the ice moon, where something truly terrible lies. Haven’t you always wondered what Bran saw there that was so terrifying? What secret lies in the Heart of Winter? George has said that TWOW will take us farther north than ever before, so perhaps we’ll find out soon, but what if we didn’t have to wait that long? Well, through symbolism, we can go where no POV character has yet gone and penetrate the Heart of Winter, which is in fact what we do every time we look inside an ice moon symbol!
When we cracked Winterfell open and peered inside looking for what was in the ice moon, we found the original Kings of Winter – who surely have some connection to the Others – as well as a ton of symbolism about Jon, the archetypal King of Winter for the main story. Related to Jon, we also found the infamous dragon locked in ice motif that we seem to find everywhere ice moons are symbolized. We don’t have to beat that one to death; we know about the dragon locked in the ice.
But we’ve found other things inside the ice moon too when we’ve looked at Other ice moon places, like Dawn. In the cave Jon and Qhorin hid in, we saw a symbol of Dawn in the shimmering pale stripe of moonlight that shone through the waterfall and projected on to the sand, which was followed shortly by a reference to waiting for the dawn. This is yet another piece of evidence supporting an icy origin story for the sword Dawn, as is the fact that the Wall, another ice moon symbol, is compared to Dawn on several occasions which we’ve discussed thoroughly. George gave the Aurora Borealis, which means “dawn of the north,” a prominent place guarding the Heart of Winter, almost as if Dawn and the Others are a weird version of the archangel with the flaming sword who guards the entrance to the garden of Eden. White Harbor is another ice moon place, it has that river called the White Knife which froze over when Brandon Ice Eyes came down during a cruel long winter. The Kingsguard’s snow white blazons shine like the dawn, and of course they all bunk together at the lovely and picturesque White Sword Tower.
You guys get the picture – Dawn is something that “comes from the ice moon,” either symbolically or, as I believe, literally, with the Dawn meteor having been chipped off the ice moon during the first Long Night moon disaster, what we think of as the destruction of the “fire moon.” A similar message, which is not at all in conflict, would simply be that Dawn was not forged at Starfall, but in the North, and has some tie to ice magic, Starks, and the Others.
Returning to Jon walking through the waterfall curtain and into ice moon world amidst death foreshadowing, let me make a non-mythical astronomy point. Before I was even thinking about something called an ice moon, I read this scene and at some point was reminded of Bran’s vision of the curtain of light around the Heart of Winter and Jon growing pale and hard at the Wall. Both scenes have Jon death foreshadowing, and the moonlit waterfall curtain reminded me of the curtain of light, so I read it and saw it as foreshadowing of Jon going beyond the curtain of light and into the Heart of Winter, which is something I can definitely see happening. But now I understand that the ice moon is a kind of overarching symbol which ties multiple things together – the Heart of Winter, yes, but also the very idea of a death realm which is linked to the Others, and so Jon walking through that moon waterfall now takes on many layers of meaning and import.
And now, we turn our attention to the Vale of Arryn, a giant ice moon symbol with a sometimes-frozen waterfall and the name “vale / veil.” The frozen waterfall is seen as a flow of cold tears, so it really is an obvious veil of tears symbol – one clearly anchored to ice moon symbolism. Alyssa herself is dead, so we can even see the tears as coming to us from the other side. The tears are ice moon meteor symbols of course, so this is just like saying ice moon meteors come from the ice moon. But the ice moon is a death realm, and so dead Alyssa’s restless ghost cries her tears from the other side of the “veil of tears.”
The Others are the most important earthly symbol of the idea of an ice moon meteor, and they can indeed be considered to be coming from beyond the veil of tears as well. George’s original draft letter pitching AGOT to his publisher called the Others “the neverborn,” which seems to hint at our theory about Night’s Queen somehow turning her babies or perhaps “pregnancies” into white shadows, much in the way Melisandre takes Stannis’s seed and births black shadows. These “seeds” or potential children of Stannis are never born, really – instead, it seems more like their life energy is converted into the shadow baby or harvested to make the shadow baby. I think Night’s Queen and King making Others must work something like this too, in all likelihood.
Whatever the details of Other creation – which is a mystery we are making gradual progress on, and which I hope to eventually solve – I think it’s indisputable that although the Others are not dead, like wights, they aren’t quite alive in the usual sense either, as their stated mission, per George, is to “ride down on the winds of winter to extinguish everything that we would call ‘life’.” It’s actually not their exact state of animation that I am talking about here, but rather the idea that they have come out of some otherwordly dimension, the frozen death realm I’ve been speaking of.
It starts with their persistent descriptions as shadows: the Others are frequently called white shadows or pale shadows, or just shadows. There are varying ideas of what a person’s “shadow” can represent, but all of them loosely incorporate the idea of a shadow being something less that a full being; something more like a remnant or ghost, or something called the “shadow self” which I won’t even begin to take the time to get into. Point being, when George calls them shadows over and over, he’s strongly implying them as some sort of inter-dimensional beings. Tormund calls them “shadows with teeth” and speaks of trying to fight a mist, implying that the Others may be able to substantiate their bodies at will. The fact that they don’t break the snow when the walk also implies them as ethereal beings, at least in part or at times.
I think the ghost grass that grows outside the walls of Asshai-by-the-Shadow is an excellent reminder about the ghostly nature of the Others, and since it’s such a gem, let’s do take it down off the mantle and give it a polish:
“Down in the Shadow Lands beyond Asshai, they say there are oceans of ghost grass, taller than a man on horseback with stalks as pale as milkglass. It murders all other grass and glows in the dark with the spirits of the damned. The Dothraki claim that someday ghost grass will cover the entire world, and then all life will end.”
Ser Jorah, amateur botanist and harbinger of doom, everyone. Thanks for the info buddy! In any case, we’ve talked about this before – the ghost grass looks like a field of Dawn swords, with tall stalks (or blades) that look like milkglass and glow a bit in the dark… but the ghost grass also evokes the Others, who have bones like milkglass and who indeed want to cover the world and, well, extinguish all life. The pale, crystalline swords of the Others are also invoked here, and again we’ll dust off the quote:
The Other slid forward on silent feet. In its hand was a longsword like none that Will had ever seen. No human metal had gone into the forging of that blade. It was alive with moonlight, translucent, a shard of crystal so thin that it seemed almost to vanish when seen edge-on. There was a faint blue shimmer to the thing, a ghost-light that played around its edges, and somehow Will knew it was sharper than any razor.
These ice swords are “alive with moonlight,” evoking Dawn’s “alive with light”, and they also have a blue “ghost light” playing around their edges. Other times, they are referred to as “pale swords,” which recalls the tower at Starfall named after Dawn, the “Palestone Sword.” We know what the deal is here, basically: although Dawn doesn’t seem to be a literal sword of an Other, Dawn and the Others are both symbols of ice moon meteors, and they share all of the same symbolism. And some of that symbolism alludes to ghosts – the ghost light of the Others’ swords and that of the ghost grass. That lines up perfectly with the idea of the inside of the ice moon representing a kind of icy death realm, beyond the veil of tears, and of things which come out of ice moon symbols as being ghostly, undead, or resurrected.
You may also recall that the Kingsguard, with their snow white armor and “pale shadow” and “white shadow” descriptions, serve as terrific symbolic stand-ins for the Others. You may recall this line from AGOT which we discussed in Moons of Ice and Fire 2: Dawn of the Others:
Ser Boros Blount guarded the far end of the bridge, white steel armor ghostly in the moonlight.
So, at the risk of being blunt, I say to you that the Others are like weird icy ghosts of some sort. They’re people from beyond the veil of tears, and their tears and veils are all made of ice. Another version of the icy waterfall is of course the frozen pond, lake, or river, and fittingly, the Others can also be seen to be coming out of this frozen lake. Their voices are, famously, like the cracking of the ice on a winter lake – that’s so they can get out of the lake, of course. The frozen Lucifer in the ninth circle of hell imagery really hits home here – if the Others are the children of Azor Ahai-turned-Night’s King as I propose, then we can see Azor Ahai as Lucifer (which we do already), and the Others as his progeny, escaping their frozen prison to fight the last battle. See! I told you Lucifer wasn’t stuck there forever. Don’t cry, buddy, chin up. The Others are coming.
Just to put a bow on that, consider the Wall, which as we know is described as a frozen river and a frozen stream. It works just like all the other veil of frozen tears symbols, marking the barrier between “the end of the world” and “beyond the end of the world,” as Jon says repeatedly in the first books. The phrase “curtain wall” leaps to mind, and leaves us with the impression of the Wall as an icy curtain… which it is! You can also imagine the Wall as the surface of the icy lake, with everything north of the Wall belonging to the Others and thus being under the lake. In order for them to come out of the lake, they will have to break through the ice, as we expect them to do anyway.
When the Wall melts, it weeps, and so we can see it really is an analog to the cold waterfall of Alyssa’s tears. Think about it – if the wall “weeps” when it melts, then it can be said to be made of frozen tears! The Wall will melt – or likely it will do some combination of shattering and melting – when the Others invade. They will be coming through the frozen veil of tears into the land of the living! This will be a perfect union of symbolism and event; The Wall symbolizes the frozen veil of tears from which the spirits of the Others come in a sort of metaphorical sense, but the Wall is also a literal curtain of ice implied as frozen tears which will need to break or melt in order for the Others to invade Westeros. Forgive me for harping on this, but I just love this kind of stuff.
This apocalyptic melting of the Wall is a parallel to the idea of Alyssa’s Tears one day reaching the ground… something which may only happen with an avalanche-style disaster involving the Giant’s Lance. Still, its the symbolism which is important here, and at this point I hope you can start to see how amazing a symbol Alyssa’s Tears are, and that the name “Vale” of Arryn indicates that this icy waterfall / veil of frozen tears symbol is central to what is going on here. Thus the waterfall is emblematic of the “Vale” as a whole, and since it serves as the symbolic entrance and exit – what you might call a portal – to the icy realm of the Others, I figured we’d use it as our entry path as well. In we go!
Lysa Like the Giant’s Lance a Lot
This next section is brought to you by the Patreon support of two new members of the Starry Wisdom Priesthood: Lady Silverwing, last child of the forest, Keeper of all leeward shores, and John, called St. Baptiste, Apprentice of Satyrs, Cupbearer of Leopards, and The thief of Sometimes
As Ice moon symbols go, the Eyrie is by far the easiest to identify. Lunar symbolism is everywhere in abundance: House Arryn has a moon in their sigil, they have that famous moon door in case any moon maidens need to make a quick exit, a place called “The Gates of the Moon,” a nearby mountain range called ” The Mountains of the Moon,” Ser Hugh of the Vale with his sky blue cloak bordered in crescent moons, and we can’t help but notice that Lysa’s favorite jewelry usually involves moonstones. She likes to pair the moonstones with sapphires, actually, which is the other part of the symbolic equation here: ice! and the Others! House Arryn’s cream-colored moon and falcon appears on a field of sky blue, and they are really quite dogma tic about that color pairing. The Eyrie is a castle built of snow white marble and it was built high up on the shoulder of a snow-covered mountain. Even more vivid is this description of the Eyrie from AFFC which comes as Sansa is descending from the Eyrie in the winch bucket:
The sky cells on the lower levels made the castle look something like a honeycomb from below. A honeycomb made of ice, Alayne thought, a castle made of snow. She could hear the wind whistling round the bucket.
We will talk more about both honeycombs and Sansa’s iconic snowcastle-building scene down the line, but let’s stick with the basics for now: it’s an ice castle dripping with lunar symbolism.
In other words, this isn’t exactly what you call a riddle: blue and white, moons and snow. That’s what you find here. But of course it goes a lot deeper than that. Those of us who have spent time studying the Others and everything else related to ice magic and symbols of the Others and ice magic as we have done throughout the Moons of Ice and Fire and Blood of the Others series will start to recognize all the familiar ice symbolism keywords and motifs as soon as we have a look around. We’ve already had a glimpse, of course; I’ve given you a couple of great quotes from the Eyrie in previous episodes, such as this one we quoted in Moons 3: Visenya Draconis:
When her uncle saw that she had stopped, he moved his horse closer and pointed. “It’s there, beside Alyssa’s Tears. All you can see from here is a flash of white every now and then, if you look hard and the sun hits the walls just right.”
Seven towers, Ned had told her, like white daggers thrust into the belly of the sky, so high you can stand on the parapets and look down on the clouds.
Gods it’s almost like you were standing on the moon from the sound of it. Not only do you look down on the clouds from the Eyrie, but also on a castle called Sky. You’re looking down at the sky, get it? Because the Eyrie represents the moon! And it’s armed with huge white daggers. From the ground, the Eyrie appears to be right next to Alyssa’s Tears, implying the Eyrie as an ice moon symbol from which Alyssa’s icy tears flow – and of course they have that white marble statue of Alyssa right in the godswood up there. That all fits – the tears are ice moon meteors, and they come from ice moon symbols like the Eyrie or Alyssa herself.
That same symbolic idea is presented by the seven marble towers that look like white daggers thrusting into the belly of the sky. The dagger towers point upwards at the sky of course, but if this were a moon, the white daggers would thrust into the belly of the sky by falling from space. Once again we see the purpose of placing a castle called sky below the Eyrie, as we can imagine the white dagger towers pointing down at Castle Sky and thus at the ground. White daggers are obvious ice moon meteor symbols, as we know, evoking Dawn, the pale swords of the Others, the White Knife river which freezes hard on occasion, and the Wall which is like a snake and a sword and shines “alive with light,” but also like a frozen river. This ice moon is locked and loaded, in other words. Cat also describes the seven white towers of the Eyrie as seven slender white towers as being “bunched as tightly as arrows in a quiver on a shoulder of the great mountain,” which makes the mountain sound like a giant with a quiver of giant white arrows.
The white towers also gain an extra icy dimension when we compare them to the seven crystal towers of the Sept of Baelor, another ice moon location. The Eyrie’s white towers are like white knives, so the crystal towers might be like crystal knives, and of course the Warrior’s Sons who live in the Sept of Baelor have a sigil with a crystal sword on a field of black, as I love to mention. The Others have longswords that appear to be razor-thing shards of ice crystal, as we know, so the crystal sword symbolism is overall a very strong tie between the Others and the Faith. The dagger-like white towers of the Eyrie, so intent on stabbing the sky, simply duplicate this symbolism. Later in AFFC, Sansa inner monologues about “an ice storm that transformed the castle into crystal for a fortnight,” reinforcing the symbolic link between crystal and ice and once again implying the Eyrie as an ice castle.
Another thing to notice in previous quote: you can only see the Eyrie “when the sun hits the walls just right.” When the ice moon castle drinks the fire of the sun, in other words, just as the Qarthine prophecy says that one day the other moon will kiss the sun too and the dragons will return – that’s when you can see the moon from earth, lighting up. We’ve seen a lot of great symbolism when the sun hits the great ice Wall of the north, such as when it becomes “alive with light” and “blazes blue and crystalline,” so this seems like similar play here. White ice daggers, drinking the fire of the sun… and we know what happens next: the sun’s fire is turned cold.
Sansa walked down the blue silk carpet between rows of fluted pillars slim as lances. The floors and walls of the High Hall were made of milk-white marble veined with blue. Shafts of pale daylight slanted down through narrow arched windows along the eastern wall. Between the windows were torches, mounted in high iron sconces, but none of them was lit. Her footsteps fell softly on the carpet. Outside the wind blew cold and lonely. Amidst so much white marble even the sunlight looked chilly, somehow … though not half so chilly as her aunt. Lady Lysa had dressed in a gown of cream-colored velvet and a necklace of sapphires and moon-stones.
Veined with blue implies blue blood veins – and hence the blood blood of the Others. Colors descriptions like milk-white and cream are always lunar in symbolic parlance, but can go either way in terms of ice or fire, as we’ve seen with Melisandre having skin like milk and cream combined with all the fire symbolism Martin could think of, and there’s even Maester Luwin’s mysterious pale red “fire milk” that applies to his wound after Shaggydog bites him a bit in the crypts. Here in the High Hall of the Arryns, however, it’s clearly a milk and ice pairing, shot through with veins of cold. The statue of Alyssa in the Godswood has it too – it’s described as “a weeping woman carved in veined white marble.”
Then we have ice queen Lysa herself, with her moonstones and sapphires. The idea that the sunlight is turned chilly in the hall, but that Lysa was even colder, implies Lysa as the coldest thing in the room, almost as if the cold was emanating from her like she was an Other. In fact, just a moment later when Lysa accuses Sansa of kissing Petyr, it says
The High Hall seemed to grow a little colder. The walls and floor and columns might have turned to ice.
This is standard Night’s Queen behavior which we have seen many times before: it’s extremely similar to Alys Karstark’s wedding, where she was named winter’s lady and the fire shivered and huddled in its ditch as the wind came off the Wall as cold as the breath of an ice dragon. This should come as no surprise: who did you think we’d find here at chateau ice moon? Night’s Queen, of course! She’s the parallel for the ice moon, what with her ice cold, moon pale skin and eyes like blue stars.
We’ve already done an in-depth study of Lady Cat, and found that her symbolism is consistent with that of Nissa Nissa throughout her entire life. Lady Stoneheart is a bit more complex, but still runs on fire magic and leads a cult of fire worshipers, so the message remains the same: Cat is a fire moon person all the way. Her sister, meanwhile, the traitor Lysa Arryn… decked out in moonstones and sapphires, enthroned in a castle of ice, the coldest thing in the room… well let’s just say they make an outstanding moon women of ice and fire pairing.
We’re going to keep discussing Lysa throughout, but let’s continue on with the physical descriptions of the Eyrie for a bit longer. In the longer quote we just pulled, with the chilly sunlight, there was a line, about “rows of fluted pillars slim as lances,” and of course those pillars are made from the blue-veined white marble like everything else. “Lance” is a not-insignificant word here in the Vale, where we find a giant mountain named “The Giant’s Lance,” and especially here at the Eyrie, which perches high on the slope of the Giant’s Lance.
So what’s all this about a lance? Is this about King Arthur and Lancelot?
Well, it’s always kind of about King Arthur in a sense, but the thing to think of is Gregor Clegane, the Mountain that Rides, who very prominently uses a lance to inflict great violence during the Tourney of the Hand at Kings Landing in AGOT. This scene is one of the most obvious examples of mythical astronomy symbolism in the the first book, and many people have messaged me about it over the years. I’ve never talked about it in a podcast episode before, but now it’s finally time! The exact meaning alluded me for a while until I cracked the secret of the dragon locked in ice metaphor, which is why I held it back until now.
The scene begins with Sansa observing heroes riding straight out of the songs and legends onto the tourney grounds:
They watched the heroes of a hundred songs ride forth, each more fabulous than the last. The seven knights of the Kingsguard took the field, all but Jaime Lannister in scaled armor the color of milk, their cloaks as white as fresh-fallen snow. Ser Jaime wore the white cloak as well, but beneath it he was shining gold from head to foot, with a lion’s-head helm and a golden sword. Ser Gregor Clegane, the Mountain That Rides, thundered past them like an avalanche. Sansa remembered Lord Yohn Royce, who had guested at Winterfell two years before. “His armor is bronze, thousands and thousands of years old, engraved with magic runes that ward him against harm,” she whispered to Jeyne. Septa Mordane pointed out Lord Jason Mallister, in indigo chased with silver, the wings of an eagle on his helm. He had cut down three of Rhaegar’s bannermen on the Trident. The girls giggled over the warrior priest Thoros of Myr, with his flapping red robes and shaven head, until the septa told them that he had once scaled the walls of Pyke with a flaming sword in hand.
I read the whole quote because it’s just quite the all-star cast, giving us flaming sword guys and white knights in snow and milk colored trappings. I’m sure you noticed Gregor thundering by like an avalanche – an avalanche from the Giant’s Lance is one form of the #IceMoonApocalypse foreshadowing after all. Then when Cat ascends to the waycastle known as Sky in AGOT, we get very rich symbolic talk about avalanches:
The waycastle called Sky was no more than a high, crescent-shaped wall of unmortared stone raised against the side of the mountain, but even the topless towers of Valyria could not have looked more beautiful to Catelyn Stark. Here at last the snow crown began; Sky’s weathered stones were rimed with frost, and long spears of ice hung from the slopes above.
Dawn was breaking in the east as Mya Stone hallooed for the guards, and the gates opened before them. Inside the walls there was only a series of ramps and a great tumble of boulders and stones of all sizes. No doubt it would be the easiest thing in the world to begin an avalanche from here. A mouth yawned in the rock face in front of them
Once again the name of Castle Sky works to imply a double meaning – an avalanche coming from the “sky” is simply another way to describe the ice moon meteor shower that was promised. Indeed, this castle called sky turns out to be an icy crescent of stone that can easily start avalanches – I mean this is just screaming out #IceMoonApocalypse. The stones are weathered, because the ice moon apocalypse is basically falling-stones-as-weather, the meteor shower a.k.a. storm of swords. Did some mention dawn breaking, and Valyria? Yeah? Okay, I wasn’t the only one who heard that. Oh and look – icy spears are hanging down. Not sure what those could symbolize.
There’s also good moon face symbolism as we see a mouth yawning in the rock face and the idea of the “snow crown” starting here. The icy crescent moon in the sky is the King of Winter, and he wears a snow crown as he sits up in the sky, brooding over the apocalypse and counting his giant lances, white arrows, and icy spears, fingers brushing the edges of his white daggers. You tell me what the foreshadowing is here, because all I see are warnings of the #IceMoonApocalypse.
Finally, note that Catelyn promptly enters the mouth of the moon rock face to enter the Eyrie. This effectively implies the Eyrie as the inside of the ice moon, which is exactly right, and it mirrors the scenes with Jon walking into the tunnel beneath the Wall being described as being swallowed down the gullet of an ice dragon. Gulp!
Returning to Gregor Clegane the moon mountain that rides thundering by like an avalanche, I will point out that even the thundering is important, because after the Others shatter Ser Waymar’s sword in the prologue, Will “found what was left of the sword a few feet away, the end splintered and twisted like a tree struck by lightning.” When Sam fights an Other in ASOS, it says
The Other’s sword gleamed with a faint blue glow. It moved toward Grenn, lightning quick, slashing. When the ice blue blade brushed the flames, a screech stabbed Sam’s ears sharp as a needle.
It makes a ton of sense to associate the Others with lightning – the Others are all about the concept of blue fire and cold burning blue stars, and real lightning ranges in color from blue to purple. It’s a natural fit for the glowing blue swords of the Others, so they move with lightning quickness and break swords as lightning does trees. You may remember the “shock” of the cold as Varamyr experienced during his real death, which was compared to plunging through an icy lake surface, as well as that same “shock of cold” that Jon feels when going through the icy waterfall amidst foreshadowing of his death. It’s electric, baby. And it’s also common sense – if you are searching for metaphors and symbols to depict the weird concept of cold, blue fire, electricity and lightning are the logical things to use.
Of course we can’t talk about lighting without thinking about the legend of the Grey King stealing the fire of the gods through a tree set ablaze by the Storm’s Gods thunderbolt. That’s also right on the money, because that Grey King myth seems to refer to Azor Ahai or his kind possessing the fire of the gods, and I believe that that fire was in part used to create the Others when an Azor Ahai person became the Night’s King and gave his seed and soul to Night’s Queen to make the Others.
To put it simply, the Others represent the frozen fire of the gods, and I think that should be an easy concept for you all to see with everything we’ve explored in the last year. We’ll going to build on this concept as we go, so I thought I’d point it out since Gregor is thundering like an avalanche in this scene. Think of an ice storm, but also the invasion of the lightning-quick Others. It sounds bad if you ask me.
Now back to The Moon Mountain that jousts, and the main action:
Sandor Clegane and his immense brother, Ser Gregor the Mountain, seemed unstoppable as well, riding down one foe after the next in ferocious style. The most terrifying moment of the day came during Ser Gregor’s second joust, when his lance rode up and struck a young knight from the Vale under the gorget with such force that it drove through his throat, killing him instantly. The youth fell not ten feet from where Sansa was seated. The point of Ser Gregor’s lance had snapped off in his neck, and his life’s blood flowed out in slow pulses, each weaker than the one before. His armor was shiny new; a bright streak of fire ran down his outstretched arm, as the steel caught the light. Then the sun went behind a cloud, and it was gone. His cloak was blue, the color of the sky on a clear summer’s day, trimmed with a border of crescent moons, but as his blood seeped into it, the cloth darkened and the moons turned red, one by one.
Okay, so what’s going on here? The poor young knight turns out to be Ser Hugh of the Vale, and it’s not to hard to see the basics of a giant’s lance penetrating a blue moon person and turning his moons bloody. Seems like surefire mythical astronomy. But this isn’t a simple Azor Ahai stabs Nissa Nissa thing, oh no. That’s a fire moon incident, as we know, and this the victim here is decked out in ice moon symbolism. He’s named “Hugh of the Vale” to clue us in that he represents the vale as a whole, and therefore the ice moon as a whole.
Hearken back to Bloodstone Compendium 4: The Mountain vs. The Viper and the Hammer of the Waters. The episode centered around the famous trial by combat between Ser Gregor and Oberyn Martel, the Red Viper of Dorne, and in that fight, it seems abundantly clear that Gregor is playing the role of the fire moon, with Oberyn as the sun and his spear as the comet. These mechanics are spelled many times over in the fight, with my favorite example being when Gregor blocks out the sun right as he’s stabbed with the spear, just as the moon “wandered too close to the sun” when it was cracked open by the comet.
Gregor’s whole deal is that he shows us the fire moon transforming into moon meteors, which can be seen a fiery hellhounds. Hence Gregor’s shield in the fight, which begins as a white shield with the seven pointed star of the faith on it, but reveals itself as the three black dogs on yellow beneath, the hellhounds-on-fire symbolism which calls out to three-headed Cerberus. Gregor is always covered in moon rock imagery, from his stone fist helm to the descriptions of him as a stone giant with a face “that night have been hewn from rock” whose voice is “like stone breaking.” Of course his main nickname is “the Mountain that Rides,” or just “the Mountain,” which really just makes the point that he represents a piece of flying space rock, a moving mountain. This also clues is into link Gregor, a giant mountain with a lance, to the giant mountain called the Giant’s Lance.
But isn’t the Giant’s Lance an ice moon symbol? Didn’t I just say the Eyrie is an ice moon, and that Gregor is a fire moon-turned moon meteor? Well, again, the dragon locked in ice metaphor solves the riddle. Gregor represents a fire moon meteor mountain which strikes the ice moon and lodges in its ice. That’s what the Giant’s Lance is too – it’s a giant mountain of dark stone, buried in ice and snow. The mountain itself is the dragon meteor locked in ice, just as the tip of Gregor’s giant lance breaks off and lodges in the throat of Ser Hugh of the blue moons. Ergo, when Gregor rides down Ser Hugh, this is simply the fire moon meteor, flying away from the first explosion to strike the ice moon. Gregor isn’t an ice moon person, but he can trigger avalanches when he embedds in the ice.
Ser Hugh’s arm lights up momentarily with a bright streak of fire before the clouds hide the sun. I probably don’t even have to tell you that this seems like a depiction of the the streaking fire moon meteor momentarily lighting up the sky before moon blood drowns everything and the sun is hidden by the clouds of dust, ash, and smoke which caused the darkness of the Long Night. Better yet, the cloudy sky is mirrored in Hugh’s cloak, which begins as “the color of the sky on a clear summer’s day, trimmed with a border of crescent moons,” but it “darkens” as the blood seeps in. It’s literally an image of moon blood darkening the sky. (Hat-tip Colin VW from the Twitteros crew!)
Also take note of the Hammer of the Waters signature wounds here – Hugh is pierced in the neck, then his arm appears to be on fire, just like the poor stableboy in the Oberyn and Gregor fight who lost his arm and then his head to Gregor’s rage. The Hammer is said to have struck the Arm of Dorne and the Neck of Westeros, in case anyone is feeling loopy today and forgot what that is about.
Then comes the crying! The next paragraph after Ser Hugh’s moons turn red one by one brings us wonderful tear symbolism:
Jeyne Poole wept so hysterically that Septa Mordane finally took her off to regain her composure, but Sansa sat with her hands folded in her lap, watching with a strange fascination. She had never seen a man die before. She ought to be crying too, she thought, but the tears would not come. Perhaps she had used up all her tears for Lady and Bran.
Much like Alyssa, Sansa cannot weep. Sansa will of course be going to the Eyrie to play the ice moon queen, so that figures. Jeyne Poole has even more clear Night’s Queen / ice queen symbolism, with her cold corpse language in ADWD and her house sigil of a circular blue pool on white. The cold pool symbol, paired with the tears, brings us right back to crying Lucifer and the frozen lake in Dante’s ninth circle of hell. Of course icy tears are just ice moon meteor symbols in general, and should come from ice walls or ice queens as they do here.
Ser Hugh has some other clues about the Others, pun intended, and they come in the form of double entendres using the word “others.” They come back to back when Ned goes to talk to Petyr Baelish, looking for poeple connected to Jon Arryn who are still in Kings Landing. Littlefinger mentions four people, Ser Hugh among them, and Ned says
“His squire?” Ned was pleasantly surprised. A man’s squire often knew a great deal of his comings and goings.
“Ser Hugh of the Vale,” Littlefinger named him. “The king knighted the boy after Lord Arryn’s death.”
“I shall send for him,” Ned said. “And the others.”
Ser Hugh is an ice moon symbol, so of course the Others come with him. Two pages later…
“Is there a man in your service that you trust utterly and completely?”
“Yes,” said Ned.
“In that case, I have a delightful palace in Valyria that I would dearly love to sell you,” Littlefinger said with a mocking smile. “The wiser answer was no, my lord, but be that as it may. Send this paragon of yours to Ser Hugh and the others.
Ned doesn’t need a palace in Valyria, because he already has a castle built over one of the furnaces of the world, ha ha. There’s one more like this when Ned speaks with Jory Cassel – the paragon of virtue – about the results of his inquiry:
It sounded as if this boy would be even less use than the others. And he was the last of the four Littlefinger had turned up. Jory had spoken to each of them in turn. Ser Hugh had been brusque and uninformative, and arrogant as only a new-made knight can be.
Ser Hugh definitely runs with the Others, that’s safe to say. There’s another, even more covert (but symbolically rich) clue which comes to us in AFFC when Brienne recalls the time several cruel knights secretly made bets as to who could bed her first. Here’s the quote, and it Brienne is thinking about how Hyle Hunt gave her the great gifts of a finely crafted book of legends, a blue silk plume for her helm, and even trained with her in the yard, which meant the most to Brienne the Blue:
She thought it was because of him that the others started being courteous. More than courteous. At table men fought for the place beside her, offering to fill her wine cup or fetch her sweetbreads. Ser Richard Farrow played love songs on his lute outside her pavilion. Ser Hugh Beesbury brought her a pot of honey “as sweet as the maids of Tarth.”
Hello! It’s not the same Ser Hugh, but the Beesbury affiliation makes us think of how the Eyrie is twice described as a white or frozen honeycomb. And look, he’s one of the “others” who started being courteous to Brienne. One them even plays a lute for her, echoing Rhaegar and Lyanna. I just love the idea of Brienne as a beautiful Night’s Queen whom the Others are gathering around to pay homage. That aside, Ser Hugh Beesbury brings Brienne a pot of honey “as sweet as the maids of Tarth,” but as we know, Brienne the Maid of Tarth is a terrific ice moon maiden, so this is once again a reference to frozen honey, and thus to the Eyrie, which is a frozen honeycomb.
Upon further analysis, the frozen honeycomb seems to be another version of the dragon locked in ice idea. The mythological concept of the food of the gods, which is essentially the exact same thing as the “fire of the gods,” is often depicted as honey. Think of young Zeus being fed the honey-sap of the ash tree by the Meliai, who are ash-tree nymphs or spirits. We’ve also seen the Biblical “milk and honey” language applied to weirwood paste and things that stand in for weirwood paste, like milk of the poppy or the sweetened iced milk Pycelle serves Ned. Ergo, honey is another form of the fire, power, and wisdom of the gods which man can consume, and so frozen honey and a frozen honeycomb work very well to depict the idea of the fire of the gods being frozen inside the ice moon. As we look at scenes from the Eyrie with Lysa and Sweetrobin ans Sansa, we will see honeycombs used a few times in suggestive ways.
So, the Giant’s Lance actually turns out to be nothing less than the biggest dragon locked in ice symbol of them all. It’s really quite thrilling, as the mechanics of the jousting scene correlate so tightly to the mountain itself. A fire moon mountain that rides, and leaves bit of lance in the ice moon.
Gregor also shows us locked in ice symbolism after he loses his duel with Oberyn, whereupon he is resurrected in some fashion and then locked in the snow white armor of the Kingsguard! It’s super easy to see the symbolism here, now that we have understood the Kingsguards’ status as Others stand-ins. Gregor the Mountain is once again exactly the same as the the Giant’s Lance mountain, wrapped in snow armor instead of actual snow. So now we can make a prediction – Gregor will be involved in some sort of fight against a comet or dragon person, and we will be treated to avalanche and ice moon explosion symbolism, and probably some Others invading symbolism as well. At the end of the last episode, Ice Moon Apocalypse, we also saw that Martin seems to be applying the “giants awakening” symbolism to the impending ice moon disaster in the two scenes with Wun Wun, and I’d expect that to be paralleled in Gregor as well. Look for him to smash someone against a wall, or be smashed against a wall. Maybe someone will knock him off a ledge – that may one of the only ways to kill him.
Since we’ve been talking about the Giant’s Lance this whole time, it seems like maybe I should show you the one actual description of the mountain itself that we get. I saved it for the end of this section on purpose, actually, because it will really ring out after everything we just discussed. This is the one that describes the Giant’s Lance as “dark stone,” but there’s a lot more here:
Looming over them all was the jagged peak called the Giant’s Lance, a mountain that even mountains looked up to, its head lost in icy mists three and a half miles above the valley floor. Over its massive western shoulder flowed the ghost torrent of Alyssa’s Tears. Even from this distance, Catelyn could make out the shining silver thread, bright against the dark stone.
When I hear “a mountain that even mountains looked up to” I think of Ser Gregor the Mountain looking up the Giant’s Lance Mountian and sort of, you know, liking what he sees and nodding in approval. That’s not the only Gregor joke Martin is making here; notice that “the head of the mountain is lost in icy mists.” The head of the mountain is lost. Yeah, that’s right, Gregor was decapitated. Bran’s dream vision of him depicts him as a giant armored in stone with nothing but darkness and blood beneath his visor, so we know the headless giant thing is important.
And hey look, icy mists and a ghost torrent – “icy mists” is specifically an Others phrase, and as we pointed out last time, the ghost torrent thing alludes to the Torrentine River at Starfall and Dany’s dreams of melting ice-armored warriors and turning the Trident River into a torrent. But we’ve talked about that before, ho-hum, what have you done for me lately? So, check the “shining silver thread” language applied to Alyssa’s Tears, and now look at this description of the Wall – which is 100% analogous to Alyssa’s Tears, as we discussed in the first section. This is Tyrion in AGOT when he climbs to the top of the Wall to have a piss and think about snarks and grumpkins:
He looked off to the east and west, at the Wall stretching before him, a vast white road with no beginning and no end and a dark abyss on either side. West, he decided, for no special reason, and he began to walk that way, following the pathway nearest the north edge, where the gravel looked freshest. His bare cheeks were ruddy with the cold, and his legs complained more loudly with every step, but Tyrion ignored them. The wind swirled around him, gravel crunched beneath his boots, while ahead the white ribbon followed the lines of the hills, rising higher and higher, until it was lost beyond the western horizon.
The Wall is an icy white ribbon with a dark abyss on either side, while Alyssa’s Tears are a sometimes-frozen shining silver thread with dark stone on either side. The Wall is “rising higher and higher into the horizon until it is lost beyond the horizon,” while Alyssa’s Tears are “flowing from the shoulder of a giant mountain whose head is lost in icy mists.” They’re very similar descriptions, because they are the same symbol! There’s also another layer added to the frozen veil of tears concept: the Wall is like a white road with no beginning and no ending – as if time is frozen. The Wall is also described as a frozen river, and you will recall that Bloodraven instructs Bran that “for men, time is a river. We are trapped in its flow, hurtling from past to present, always in the same direction. The lives of trees are different. They root and grow and die in one place, and that river does not move them.”
So what happens when you freeze the river of time? You some kind of very cold ouroboros, I think, like Tyrion’s conception of the Wall as an endless road. The Long Night can be thought of as stopping time, because it makes everything stuck on nighttime and winter, with the sun and the springtime never coming. Wow, the Others are getting more evil by the minute – freezing the river of time, coming back through the veil of tears… gods, if they freeze time, and then break it, what happens to the timeline? Okay, I’m getting a headache. Call it a brain freeze.
Metaphors aside, we now have a good general concept of what the Eyrie is about and how it works, let’s stop beating around the bush and get to her majesty the Queen in the North, Sansa Stark.
Or is it Alayne Stone?
To hear the debut of Part 2 of Signs and Portals, Sansa Locked in Ice, join me this Sunday, August 4th, a 3:00 EST on the Lucifer means Lightbringer Youtube channel! Maester Merry returns as my copilot, and we’ll be joined by Sanrixian for the post game. See you then!
44 thoughts on “Vale of Frozen Tears”
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