Hello friends, patreon supporters, and myth heads of the starry host. It is I, Lucifer means Lightbringer, and I welcome you to Weirwood Compendium 5! Today’s general topic is Azor Ahai gaining access the weirwoodnet, and though we’ve talked about this before, today we’ll be saddling up the green dragon and riding deeper into the net than ever before. We’re also going to follow up on Weirwood Compendium 1: The Grey King and the Sea Dragon and make a bit more sense of the Ironborn mythology that we went deep on in that episode. The green dragon symbolism we will explore today will reinforce the idea of Azor Ahai as one who gained access to the weirwood hive mind, and it will build on the symbolism of the Storm God’s thunderbolt, the fiery and wrothful sea dragon, Grey King’s weirwood boat, his mermaid wife, and all the rest.Best of all, following the trail of the green dragon will eventually lead us under the sea itself, where we will discover a fantastic new symbolic metaphor that unravels quite a bit about the weirwoods and the greenseers.
To really get the most out of this episode, you should definitely have already read or listened to Weirwood Compendium 1 – 4, as well as the three Weirwood Goddess episodes. If it’s been a long time since you listened to the first four Weirwood Compendium episodes, I’d probably recommend re-listening to those before this one, as we will draw heavily from all of those episodes. It’s also not a bad idea to listen to the first two Signs and Portals episodes too, those are really fun anyway.
As you may have noticed, I’ve been droning on and on about this thing called the fire of the gods all throughout the weirwood compendium, and probably elsewhere. It’s the main theme which unites the Grey King and Azor Ahai myths: a Luciferian or Promethean pursuit of the fire of the gods. This “fire” seems to take two forms in ASOIAF: the moon meteors (of course) and the power of the weirwoods. The Grey King mythology, again and again, sends us the message that the Grey King possessed both. Then we discovered that there are burning ash tree symbols – meaning weirwood symbols – at every scene that depicts the destruction of the moon and the forging of Lightbringer. The inescapable conclusion is that there is some connection between these two forms of the fire of the gods, between the moon meteors falling to earth and man gaining access to the weirwoodnet. A connection between Azor Ahai’s blood magic ritual with Nissa Nissa, and the idea of Azor Ahai becoming a fiery greenseer who enters the weirwoodnet, quite possibly by force.
To put it simply, myths of Grey King and Azor Ahai both have them calling down the meteor fire from heaven, and through explorations of their symbolism, we’ve discovered that they both seem to be greenseers… or something. I always add a little caveat there because I am by no means sure that we are talking about the standard sort of greenseer. What I see is that Azor Ahai’s blood magic ritual with Nissa Nissa, the weirwood goddess, seems to have permanently altered the weirwoods in such a way so as to allow mankind access to the the hive mind / collective consciousness that we refer to as the weirwoodnet. Azor Ahai / the Grey King may have been the first human greenseer, or the first of a new kind of greenseer.
I: Astronomy Explains the Legends of I&F
II: The Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai
III: Waves of Night & Moon Blood
IV: The Mountain vs. the Viper & the Hammer of the Waters
V: Tyrion Targaryen
VI: Lucifer means Lightbringer
I: The Grey King & the Sea Dragon
II: A Burning Brandon
III: Garth of the Gallows
IV: In a Grove of Ash
V: To Ride the Green Dragon
VI: The Devil and the Deep Green Sea
VII: Daenerys the Sea Dreamer
As we know, obtaining the fire of the gods always comes with a cost – indeed, in Martin’s world, all magic comes with a cost, and to be honest, I think Martin is more interested in exploring and writing about the cost of magic than magic itself. Azor Ahai seems to have underwent transformation, most likely an actual death transformation, as we have seen in past episodes. The Grey King, who lived for a thousand years and became as grey as a corpse, almost certainly underwent transformation through his possession of the fire of the ‘Storm God’ and the sea dragon, however many different things that concept may refer to. One thing is quite clear: possessing the living fire of the gods will always change you irrevocably, for better or worse.
With both Azor and the Grey King, this transformation process seems to have been initially triggered by the moon meteors, the more literal manifestation of the fire of the gods. Azor Ahai represents the sun, which was turned dark by the smoke of the meteor impacts, and in the legend itself, Azor Ahai supposedly becomes a hero and forges Lightbringer when the moon cracks. In the Grey King myth, it is the thunderbolt which sets the tree on fire. If the burning tree represents the weirwoods and the thunderbolt represents the meteor fire from heaven, we are left with the idea that the meteor impact had some effect on the weirwoods, and that it enabled the Grey King to obtain the divine fire.
Most of all, the burning tree represents the weirwoods in an activated state which can transfer the fire of the gods to man. We know that to attain this weirwood fire, the greenseer must join himself to the tree, so really we can say the burning tree in the Grey King myth represents the tree joined to the greenseer. That’s why we have trees with hands and faces and people who turn into trees. It’s a symbiotic relationship which flows both ways… and somehow it was set on fire.
As always, thanks to George. R. R. Martin for writing ASOIAF, and thanks most of all to our generous and loyal patrons, whose support enables me do Mythical Astronomy. If you enjoy the podcast and have the means, please consider joining the starry host and propelling the show onward and upward.
Finally, I’ve launched a separate channel for the Between 2 Weirwoods live panel discussion show, just to sort of keep things separate, and also to safeguard against future YouTube shenanigans, since if one channel has an issue, I’ll have the other as a backup. Please be sure to subscribe to the channel to so you will get a YouTube notification when we go live. Thanks everyone, and here we go!
Hey Are You Going to Burning Man?
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That brings us to the point where we left off at the end of the Grey King and the Sea Dragon episode, where we were talking about the symbol of the burning tree and discussing scenes where, right smack in the middle of Lightbringer forging metaphors, we seem to have fiery sorcerers waking from burning wood and burning trees. We looked back over many of the most prominent Lightbringer forging scenes in the books, and we found that indeed, burning wood seems to pretty consistently trigger flames which are described as either fiery dancers or a fiery sorcerers. Just as I interpret the burning tree as a weirwood joined to a greenseer, I interpret these fiery sorcerers that wake from the burning wood as representing greenseers who have undergone some kind of transformation process associated with fire. They are two different ways of getting at the same idea: a fiery sorcerer merged with a tree.
Because these fiery sorcerers and dancers always appear right when Lightbringer is forged, we can deduce that they are an important part of the larger Lightbringer picture. And all of that fits very well with the idea that the Storm God’s thunderbolt was a moon meteor which somehow created the burning tree, or perhaps we might say, the “burning tree sorcerer.”
The hallmark of all of these fiery sorcerers and dancers awoken from trees are robes of red, yellow, and orange fire, and sometimes smokey cloaks. The all seem to model the clothing of the red priests of R’hllor, who are, of course, actual fire sorcerers who dress in red, yellow, and orange attire designed to look like writhing flames, with some going so far tattoo their entire faces with masks of flame. Melisandre in particular is always described in these terms, with robes, hair, and even eyes that look like flame, and indeed, Melisandre is actually undergoing some kind of transformation where she is no longer sustained by sleep and food, but instead by the “power of R’hllor,” which means fire magic. In other words, there appears to be a literal truth behind the idea of a sorcerer who is “fire made flesh,” which is what all of these scenes clearly imply.
Listing in brief, those scenes were:
1.) The Alchemical Wedding scene in AGOT, where Daenerys woke her dragons. We got both the fiery dancers and sorcerers in this one. First it said that “the flames writhed before her like the women who had danced at her wedding, whirling and singing and spinning their yellow and orange and crimson veils, fearsome to behold, yet lovely, so lovely, alive with heat,” and then speaks of flames which appeared “each one a sorcerer robed in yellow and orange and scarlet, swirling long smoky cloaks.”
We also had logs exploding as the fire touched their secret hearts, with the idea being that logs with hearts and secrets evoke the heart trees, and being touched by fire suggests the burning tree of the Grey King. That tree was set ablaze by the thunderbolt which I claim to be a meteor dragon, and accordingly, the secret hearts of the logs in Drogo’s pyre are touched by fire right at the moment that one of the dragon’s eggs (the green one as a matter of fact) cracked open with a sound “loud and sharp as thunder.”
Last but not least in that scene, Dany saw the reborn spirit of Drogo rising through the flames, an he was wearing the familiar fiery regalia:
His clothing took fire, and for an instant, the khal was clad in wisps of floating orange silk and tendrils of curling smoke, grey and greasy.
This is highly significant, as Drogo’s reborn spirit, which Dany associates with the red comet, is a fairly straightforward manifestation of the reborn solar king, and that is exactly whom I believe the fire sorcerer woken from the burning tree is: Azor Ahai reborn.
2.) The burning of the Seven at Dragonstone in ACOK, where Mel and Stannis do their little Lightbringer reenactment. The “morning air was dark with the smoke of burning gods,” meaning that this bonfire is literally “the fire of the gods…” haha. And then it says that “the burning gods cast a pretty light, wreathed in their robes of shifting flame, red and orange and yellow.”
Those burning gods were wooden ones, made from the old wood of the masts of the ships which first brought the Targaryens to Dragonstone. Ships owned by Targaryens are dragon ships, and since the sea dragon’s bones turned out to have been a weirwood boat, we can see all dragon boats as symbols of the sea dragon – especially when they catch on fire. The fact they are not only burning wooden ships, but burning wooden gods spells out the idea that they posses the fire of the gods, as the Sea Dragon and burning tree of Grey King mythology do. And indeed, the burning statues of the seven are made from masts, and are thus also symbolizing trees – burning trees, like the one in the Grey King myth which really refers to the weirwoods. To make matters worse, Stannis literally pulls Lightbringer from the burning wooden sea dragon gods, clueing us in to the idea that all of this is tied to Azor Ahai and Lightbringer… the other form of the fire of the gods.
These first two scenes – the Alchemical Wedding and the burning of the Seven – are probably the most vivid and complete Lightbringer forging metaphor scenes in the series to date, and they both contain clear depictions of our fire sorcerers emerging from burning wood.
3.) Arya, Yoren, and the Night’s Watch recruits in the abandoned holdfast near Harrenhall, besieged by Ser Amory Lorch. The soldiers were depicted as having fiery armor and swords, while the flames themselves were personified as people, dragons, fiery fingers, and the like. The payoff line was:
Arya saw a tree consumed, the flames creeping across its branches until it stood against the night in robes of living orange.
Obviously that’s a tasty one because it literally gives us the burning tree, dressed as a fire sorcerer, with the fiery soldiers in this scene reinforcing the idea of people made of fire. Harrenhall itself is a tremendous symbol of the destroyed second moon, as I’ve mentioned a few times – it’s black stone burnt by dragonfire, it was built by someone with “black blood” as Harren’s line was called, and it’s currently haunted by fiery ghosts, to name a few examples. Additionally, because Black Harren cut down weirwoods to make the rafters and beams of Harrenhall, when Aegon the Conqueror set fire to the place with Balerion’s black fire, we did have burning weirwood symbolism going on. The God’s Eye is an even more amazing bundle of symbolism which leads us to the eye of Odin and thus to greenseers, so the location of this burning tree wearing the robes of fire is highly significant in its own right.
4.) Jon and Qhorin Halfhand in the Frostfangs in ACOK, right before they are caught by wildlings and Jon is forced to kill Qhorin.
Jon went to cut more branches, snapping each one in two before tossing it into the flames. The tree had been dead a long time, but it seemed to live again in the fire, as fiery dancers woke within each stick of wood to whirl and spin in their glowing gowns of yellow, red, and orange.
This quote is especially notable for its flagrant incorporation of resurrection into the mix – the tree had been dead a long time, but seemed to live again in the fire. A resurrected fire sorcerer may be exactly how we are supposed to think of Azor Ahai – one who wakes from a burning tree, or perhaps we might say that he lives again by merging with the symbolic burning tree known as the weirwood. By the way, if Jon is resurrected on a weirwood funeral pyre in TWOW… well it sure would be neat-o, wouldn’t it?
After all, the other time we see a ranger burned on a pyre, this happens:
Sam was red-eyed and sick from the smoke. When he looked at the fire, he thought he saw Bannen sitting up, his hands coiling into fists as if to fight off the flames that were consuming him, but it was only for an instant, before the swirling smoke hid all.
That’s kind of the ultimate point of the burning people and sorcerers emerging from these pyres: sure, one of them is Azor Ahai, but the rest are probably the Last Hero’s group of green zombie Night’s Watchmen, who are most likely fire-undead people similar to Beric, or similar to how Jon will be after he’s resurrected. You will hopefully remember the important parallels between the Beric Dondarrion the burning, undead scarecrow and the burning scarecrow Night’s Watch brothers in Jon’s Azor Ahai dream, as that was one of the big clues that the last hero’s companions are fiery undead, what George R. R. Martin has called “fire wights.” Their resurrection also seems to have something to do with the weirwoods, or with being skinchangers like Jon, so it makes a lot of sense to associate this group of fiery people who emerge from the burning trees we see at the Lightbringer forging scenes.
In fact, the burning scarecrow brothers are tremendous symbols of burning tree people in their own right: they are made of wicker and straw, and they are mounted on a vertical wooden pole. When they are set on fire, they become a burning tree person wearing robes of fire, very like Arya’s burning tree that wears robes of living fire.
So those are the first four examples of symbolic fiery sorcerers, with the fifth being moon dancer the green dragon (whom we’ll talk about in a moment). But wouldn’t ya know it, since I wrote that essay I found more examples of the phenomena! One of them was at Daznak’s pit, where Dany mounts Drogon for the first time and flies away from a pit of fire and blood and death. This scene is in many ways a mirror to the alchemical wedding, so it figures to see fiery sorcerers here. In fact, Dany’s recollection of Daznak’s begins with a comparison to the alchemical wedding! She’s thinking back to the moment of walking into the pyre, and it says:
The fire burned away my hair, but elsewise it did not touch me. It had been the same in Daznak’s Pit. That much she could recall, though much of what followed was a haze. So many people, screaming and shoving.
Skipping forward a few lines, it says:
She remembered the dragon twisting beneath her, shuddering at the impacts, as she tried desperately to cling to his scaled back. The wounds were smoking. Dany saw one of the bolts burst into sudden flame. Another fell away, shaken loose by the beating of his wings. Below, she saw men whirling, wreathed in flame, hands up in the air as if caught in the throes of some mad dance.
It’s the standard formula: a dragon hatches as our incarnation of Lightbringer being forged, and at the scene we find a lot of fire, death, blood, and of course, people wreathed in flame and doing some sort of shamanic mad dance. You may also notice the dragon is struck by wooden “bolts” from a crossbow which smoke and burst into flame, evoking the thunderbolt and the burning tree imagery.
Perhaps even better, I found a little something about burning tree dragons which I think fits here. TWOIAF tells us about one of the folly of King Aegon IV Targaryen, also known as Aegon the Unworthy, who apparently fancied himself as some sort of Westerosi Leonardo Da Vinci, inventing all sorts of crazy contraptions and whatnot. In an effort to conquer Dorne, which was still unconquered in his day, Aegon the Unworthy commanded his pyrmomancers to “build me dragons,” which TWOIAF describes as “wood-and-iron monstrosities fitted with pumps that shot jets of wildfire.” His foolish plan was to bring them down the Boneway to attack Dorne. But…
They did not come even that far however, for the first of the dragons went up in flames in the kingwood, far from the Boneway. Soon all seven were burning. Hundreds of men burned in those fires along with almost a quarter of the kingwood.
Although we do not have any burning sorcerers, we do have burning men, burning wooden dragons, and the burning trees in the kingswood. The line about “soon all seven were burning” is very, very similar to the phrasing in the burning of the Seven scene on Dragonstone, where the things being burnt were also wooden dragons after a fashion, being seven wooden gods made from the masts of Targaryen ships, which are wooden dragons and therefore sea dragon symbols. The phrase “kingswood” suggests that the burning trees belong to a king, and this in turn makes us think of the Grey King’s burning tree. Going further, the trees in the kingswood belong to a dragon king, just as the Grey King is a Sea Dragon King and possibly Azor Ahai himself.
Essentially, we have the same idea presented twice, side-by-side: the dragon king’s trees and the dragon king’s wooden dragons burn together, giving us a reference to both Grey King fire myths, the sea dragon and the burning tree.
What makes all of this corroborate even more strongly to the Grey King myths is that the whole wooden dragon idea which gave us a forest full of burning trees was actually Aegon’s second attempt to invade Dorne, and his first attempt also parallels both Grey King fire myths! It comes in the paragraph prior to the last one we pulled from TWOIAF:
Fortunately for the realm, the king’s plans to invade Dorne in 174 AC proved a complete failure. Though his grace built a huge fleet, thinking to succeed as Daeron the Young Dragon had done, it was broken and scattered by storms on its way to Dorne.
In other words, we have sea dragons in the form of ships owned by Targaryens – a reference to the idea of a “sea dragon” and the specific theory that the bones of the sea dragon Nagga are actually the fossilized remains of a weirwood boat hull. Additionally, the wooden sea dragons were destroyed by storms, which serves as a reference to the other Grey King myth, that of the Storm God’s thunderbolt which set the tree on fire.
Last but not least, the idea of the dragon trying to attack Dorne with these various symbols of the sea dragon and the thunderbolt works as a parallel to the idea of the Hammer of the Waters moon meteor striking Dorne. It’s kind of like when moon-maiden Myrcella Baratheon/Lannister is sent down to Sunspear with ships named “King Robert’s Hammer” and “Lionstar,” a symbolic depiction of moon maidens, fiery stars, and hammers from the storm god falling on the Arm of Dorne.
There’s one last set of parallels between Aegon the Unworthy and the the Grey King. The Grey King was said to have left behind one hundred sons who engaged in “an orgy of kinslaying until only sixteen remained,” just as Aegon the Unworthy famously legitimized his bastards on his deathbed and in doing so doomed the realm to five generations of Blackfyre rebellions, which certainly orgies of kinslaying and tragedy. At the end of his life, Aegon sounds a bit like a greenseer chained up to the weirwood roots:
He was grossly fat, barely able to walk, and some wondered how his last mistress—Serenei of Lys, the mother of Shiera Seastar—could ever have withstood his embraces. The king himself died a horrible death, his body so swollen and obese that he could no longer lift himself from his couch, his limbs rotting and crawling with fleshworms.
Aegon the Unworthy is actually Bloodraven’s father, and Bloodraven’s mother is mentioned here as well – Serenei of Lys. Besides the grossly fat thing, Aegon seems to be symbolizing a greenseer like Bloodraven. At the end he cannot leave his couch, as a greenseer cannot leave his throne, and the fleshworms crawling through his rotting limbs are a call-out to the white weirwood roots that pierce Bloodraven’s rotting skin, which Bran describes as graveworms.
All of this – the parallels to a greenseer chained to a throne, the simulation the Grey King myths in his attacks on Dorne – seem to act as corroboration that the Grey King was indeed a dragon person, which is another way of saying the Grey King is either Azor Ahai or one of his kind. Oh yes, and don’t forget – just as I believe that Azor Ahai’s Lightbringer was a black sword, and just as the ancient Ironborn were said to wield sorcererous, soul-drinking black weapons, King Aegon the wormy possessed the Targaryen ancestral sword, Blackfyre, a black, magical sword in its own right. Aegon the Unworthy also gave birth to the line of rebel dragons known as Blackfyres when he gave the sword to Daemon Waters, who became Daemon Blackfyre. Meaning, he has one usurper son with a black fire sword and another son who was a dragon-blooded greenseer who commanded the Night’s Watch. That’s, uh, a lot of symbolism. Bet let’s keep moving.
There was one other example of a fiery being wearing fiery robes from the Grey King and the Sea Dragon episode, and it’s the one we are going to expand on the most. It wasn’t a bonfire or a burning tree which looks human… it was a green dragon, Moondancer.
During one of the epic dragon-on-dragon battles in the Targaryen civil war known as The Dance of the Dragons, the dragons Moondancer and Sunfyre collided in the skies over Dragonstone in a wonderful demonstration of the ‘moon wandering too close to the sun” and “sun and moon merge as one” aspects of the Lightbringer fable. They slam into each other violently, then tumble from the sky, burning and bleeding like the bleeding stars of fire which the dragons represent. Their flames light up the sky like a “second sun,” and Moondancer becomes “robed in fire and smoke,” the trademark garb of the dancing fire sorcerers. Moondancer only becomes robed in fire after she kisses the sun and drinks its fire – the name of the dragon, Sunfyre, literally spells this out – so this really is a pretty exact and detailed depiction of the chain of events of Lightbringer’s forging.
Since we looked at this scene in Weirwood Compendium One, we’ve discovered the archetype of the weirwood goddess, who is always marked by the “weirwood stigmata” which makes her look like a weirwood tree: bloody hands, bloody mouth or a “red smile” throat wound, bloody or red eyes, and bloody or red hair. We can see that that our green moon dancing dragon is “blind and bloody” as she joins Sunfyre in a deathgrip during their fall.
In other words, she’s a moon dragon figure getting weirwood stigmata in the moment she joins with the solar dragon, just like Thistle getting the stigmata when Varamyr’s spirit enters her body. You’ll recall that Thistle did a mad dance as well, as it says “her legs jerked this way and that in some grotesque dance as his spirit and her own fought for the flesh.”
This is more confirmation of the idea that the meteors “set the weirwoodnet on fire” by altering them so that man could enter, because our weirwood goddesses always gain their bloody faces when the fiery greenseer spirits enter them. Moondancer fairly literally drinks the fire of Sunfyre and gains the stigmata. Once again we see that the weirwood tree symbol is created when two things merge together – sun and moon, greenseer spirit and tree.
The name Moondancer specifically calls out to the fiery dancers which appeared in the flames during Jon’s and Dany’s wood-burning scenes that we just discussed, and conveniently links them to the moon which cracked from the heat of the sun. And once again, the fiery sorcerer seems to be Azor Ahai reborn in this scene. Azor Ahai senior is Sunfyre, and Nissa Nissa is Moon Dancer, but Azor Ahai reborn is the child of both and is thus represented by their merging, which lights up the sky like a second sun – the son’s son, like Quentyn Martell as the son of Dorne. Accordingly, post-collision Sunfyre and Moondancer both show us Azor Ahai reborn symbolism after they collide: Sunfyre has one eye torn out, making giving one-eyed Odin/Bloodraven symbolism, and he also has severe neck wounds where Moondancer bit him, simulating the hanging wound of Odin which we also see with Beric and a few Others. As for Moondancer, well, she’s a fiery, dancing green dragon born of the sun and moon manifesting weirwood stigmata who’s wearing the signature fiery robes of the fiery sorcerers we’ve been following. The stigmata and the fiery robes both imply transformed moondancer as entering the weirwoodnet.
Given the presence of this greenseer symbolism, the fact that the dragon is green does seem like it might be a clue about a dragon-person who is a greenseer. I introduced this green dragon idea in the Grey King episode, but let’s follow up on it now and take a look at the green dragon that we have in the main story, Rhaegal, as well as a few other green dragon ideas, and see if there are any clues about greenseer dragon people. Spoiler alert; there are such clues, chuckle chuckle. The trail of the green dragon slithers this way and that, so we’ll be side-branching into topics such as Quentyn the Dragontamer, the crannogmen and extinct houses of the Riverlands, Dany’s unfortunate son Rhaego, and we’ll also return to the familiar scene of the Alchemical Wedding to harvest some new symbolic gold. We might even find ourselves lost in a dark forest if we are not careful.
A Thunderous Dragon
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The first clue about green dragons and fiery greenseers comes at the Alchemical Wedding, and I just mentioned it: it was the green egg, Rhaegal’s egg, which cracked “as loud and sharp as thunder.” This creates a potential parallel between the thunderbolt / burning tree myth and the thunderous awakening of the green dragon. That was also the moment when the fire touched the “secret hearts” of the burning logs, which again evokes the thunderbolt setting fire to the heart trees of the weirwoodnet. Twice in one paragraph, the green dragon’s awakening is tied to the thunderbolt and the burning tree, myths which we now understand to refer to mankind gaining access to the weirwoodnet. That’s a great tip-off that the green dragon is a symbol tied to greenseeing and, obviously, dragons.
Rhaegal the green dragon is named for Mr. Dead Prince Charming himself, Rhaegar Targaryen, as Daenerys tells us in ACOK:
I would name them for all those the gods have taken. The green one shall be Rhaegal, for my valiant brother who died in the green banks of the Trident.
Rhaegar is of course a prime symbol of the black dragon aspect of the Azor Ahai reborn archetype, so the idea of him being reborn as Rhaegal suggests Azor Ahai being reborn as a green dragon, whose awakening is like thunder. Rhaegar was struck down and transformed by the Storm King’s Hammer, a great analog to the Storm God’s thunderbolt which transformed the Grey King. The idea of a black dragon becoming a green dragon through the Storm God’s strike would again seem to suggest that Azor Ahai’s calling down the thunderbolt meteor fire may have allowed him access to the weirwoodnet – it may have enabled him to become a greenseer.
Rhaegar’s death also parallels the slaying of the Sea Dragon myth of course, because Rhaegar is knocked off of his horse – out of the heavens in other words – and then falls into the River Trident. That’s a drowning moon meteor symbol, and his fabled rubies tell the same story, flashing like fire before dropping into the water. The rubies are sometimes pulled out of the water, it should be noted, just as the Ironborn myth implies that they harvested meteor stone from the sea, perhaps in the form of the Seastone Chair itself. Setting the oily black chair aside, which is probably really hard to do since it’s probably really heavy, the point is that Rhaegar’s death acts as the beginning of his symbolic transformation into Rhaegal the green dragon, and it parallels both of the Grey King fire-stealing myths, the thunderbolt and sea dragon legends.
Heck, even the fact that the battle happened in the River “Trident” names it as a sea battle: it’s a battle in a river for domination of the “Trident,” the traditional symbol of the sea god’s power.
Getting back to the naming of Rhaegal the green dragon, we should note that this was actually Dany’s second attempt at naming someone or something after Rhaegar: the first was her own unborn child, whom she named Rhaego. He was supposed to be the Stallion Who Mounts the World, but was born dead in the tent of dancing shadows. Rheago’s symbolism, however, is quite intriguing and parallels that of the green dragon Rhaegal in many ways which are suggestive of greenseer dragons.
The giving of the prophecy of the Stallion Who Mounts the World starts is a big Rhaego scene, but it starts with Dany. This is her weirwood stigmata scene. She’s eating the heart of the wild stallion, which represents her as the moon eating the comet, or receiving Azor Ahai’s fiery sword, or in the reproduction context, she’s receiving the fiery dragon seed of the solar king. That’s what this ceremony is about, creating favorable omens for Rhaego, her unborn child. Check her out as a pregnant moon full of moon blood:
Her handmaids had helped her ready herself for the ceremony. Despite the tender mother’s stomach that had afflicted her these past two moons, Dany had dined on bowls of half-clotted blood to accustom herself to the taste, and Irri made her chew strips of dried horseflesh until her jaws were aching.
There’s definitely heavy weirwood stigmata happening:
No steel was permitted within the sacred confines of Vaes Dothrak, beneath the shadow of the Mother of Mountains; she had to rip the heart apart with teeth and nails. Her stomach roiled and heaved, yet she kept on, her face smeared with the heartsblood that sometimes seemed to explode against her lips.
She’s the spitting image of a weirwood tree, bloody hands and mouth, devouring raw flesh. Immediately after, her stigmata is spelled out again, and she declares herself pregnant, which reemphasizes the horse-heart eating as the impregnation of the moon and the weirwoods with Azor Ahai’s fire:
And finally it was done. Her cheeks and fingers were sticky as she forced down the last of it. Only then did she turn her eyes back to the old women, the crones of the dosh khaleen.
“Khalakka dothrae mr’anha!” she proclaimed in her best Dothraki. A prince rides inside me! She had practiced the phrase for days with her handmaid Jhiqui.
The oldest of the crones, a bent and shriveled stick of a woman with a single black eye, raised her arms on high. “Khalakka dothrae!” she shrieked. The prince is riding!
Then “a deep-throated warhorn sounded its long low note,” which gives us the ubiquitous magic horn symbol that we still have yet to explore fully, but which I have hinted at being connected to the idea of magic sound in general and Nissa Nissa’s cry that broke the moon. In any case, after the hornblast, we see a terrific example of the “rising column of smoke and ash as a weirwood tree” symbol that we sketched out in In a Grove of Ash.
The eunuchs who served them threw bundles of dried grasses into a great bronze brazier, and clouds of fragrant smoke rose up toward the moon and the stars. The Dothraki believed the stars were horses made of fire, a great herd that galloped across the sky by night. As the smoke ascended, the chanting died away and the ancient crone closed her single eye, the better to peer into the future.
It’s no accident that we get one-eyed Odin symbolism and an attempt to peer into the future in the same paragraph with the clouds of holy smoke ascending up toward the moon and stars. This is a nod to the burning ash tree / mushroom cloud symbolism that we often see at Lightbringer bonfires. The reference to the smoke rising to the stars and moon seals the deal; this is definitely a ground zero, impact-zone bonfire, the ones which clouded the sky with smoke during the Long Night. Together with Dany getting the stigmata and the symbolic impregnation here, we can see that this is a great depiction of “going into the weirwoodnet” symbolism mixed with Lightbringer forging / moon impregnation symbolism.
With all that said, we then get the prophecy of the Stallion Who Mounts the World, who is supposed to be Rhaego. The very notion of a stallion who mounts the world should absolutely make us think of Yggdrasil as “Odin’s horse,” since it is a tree which serves as a symbolic horse which allows Odin to traverse the nine realms of the universe. That’s astral projection, a sort of flying between the worlds and over the world… the idea of a stallion who “mounts the world” may well be playing on this, since the greenseers are already imitating Odin and “mounting” the weirwoods in the exact same way that Odin mounts Yggdrasil.
This is a “Rhaego is a greenseer” clue, in other words, and we get another one when the one-eyed crones says “I have seen his face, and heard the thunder of his hooves.” That’s a great match for Rhaegal‘s egg cracking as loud and sharp as thunder – the arrivals of both Rhaego and Rhaegal are heralded by thunder, in other words.
The crone also says that Rhaego will ride “as swift as the wind” and will be “as fierce as a storm,” once again evoking the Storm God and his thunderbolt. Rhaegal does this too; when Quentyn Martell tosses a sheep to the Rhaegal in the pit below the pyramid of Meereen in his mad attempt to steal a dragon, Rhaegal snatches the sheep in mid-air:
His head snapped round, and from between his jaws a lance of flame erupted, a swirling storm of orange and yellow fire shot through with green.
Rhaego the Stallion Who Mounts rides as fierce as the storm, Rhaegal the dragons belches a firestorm, both of which remind us of the Storm God’s fire that creates burning trees.
Then we have Daenerys Stormborn, who is fire made flesh, and “step into the firestorm, calling to her children” at the alchemical wedding, right after the green egg hatches like thunder and the fire touches the secret hearts of the wooden logs. This is the green dragon’s egg and everything here is about storm and thunder, so again, this is the thunderbolt coming from the moon and setting fire to the tree, with Dany herself serving as the fire sorcerer emerging from the burning wood, possessing the fire of the storm.
Similarly, Rhaego “The Stallion Who Never Was” also manifests clear fire sorcerer symbolism. Although Rhaego never lived outside the womb, we do get a glimpse of what he would have been in Dany’s ‘wake the dragon’ dream in AGOT, which she has in the tent with Mirri and the dancing shadows as she gives birth to Rhaego:
She could feel the heat inside her, a terrible burning in her womb. Her son was tall and proud, with Drogo’s copper skin and her own silver-gold hair, violet eyes shaped like almonds. And he smiled for her and began to lift his hand towards hers, but when he opened his mouth the fire poured out. She saw his heart burning through his chest, and in an instant he was gone, consumed like a moth by a candle, turned to ash.
Rhaego, for a moment, takes on the burning man persona – oversized goggles, silver spandex biker shorts, nipple rings, and a bedazzled fedora – wait, no, not that burning man, I’m talking about Rhaego as a person made of fire of course, a burning man. Take note of the burning heart, a callout to R’hllor’s fiery heart symbol. Rhaego is consumed by the fire, implying death; but since we are led to believe that Rhaego’s spirit or life force has somehow gone into the dragons or awakened the dragons – “only death can pay for life” being the operating principle here – we should also see this is a fiery death transformation. A burning man that awakens the green dragon or becomes the green dragon.
The same idea is implied with the line about Rhaego being “turned to ash” – he’s an Azor Ahai figure who undergoes a fiery death transformation and ends up inside the weirwoods, the ASOIAF version of the great ash tree Yggdrasil. After all, the one-eyed crone did peer into the rising “smoke of the future” and heard the thunder of Rhaego’s hooves – as if he was thundering from inside the smoke column, from inside the weirwood tree. Like a greenseer. Calling down thunder. And so forth.
So, Rhaego is a dragon made of fire, and his namesake Rhaegar Targaryen also happens to be associated with the idea of a burning man too, via his appearance in that same ‘wake the dragon’ dream where Dany saw Rhaego consumed by fire:
And she saw her brother Rhaegar, mounted on a stallion as black as his armor. Fire glimmered red through the eye slit of his helm.
Dany lifts the visor of his helm a moment late only to discover her own face, signifying that she was to become the “Last Dragon,” something which she did when she emerged from the funeral pyre as a manifestation of Azor Ahai reborn, the original burning man. As Dany walks into the pyre, she proclaims that she was ‘fire made flesh,’ just as the dragons are. So that all checks out – Rhaego is made of fire, Rhaegar is made of fire, Rhaegal and Daenerys are fire made flesh – it’s Azor Ahai reborn everyone, warrior of fire, dragon of the weirwoodnet.
Just as Rhaego the burning man has parallels to Azor Ahai, so to does Rhaegal the green dragon, as we have seen with Rhaegal’s ties to thunder. For example, just like Azor Ahai and the Grey King, Rhaegal is a is a moon-killer. In ADWD, Daenerys goes to visit Vision and Rhaegal in the pit under the pyramid, and we get this description of Rhaegal:
Rhaegal, still chained, was gnawing on the carcass of a bull.
We are well familiar with slaying the bull as a symbol of sacrificing the moon, I don’t even think I need to recap all the many times we’ve seen that. Here in the pit, we catch the green dragon red-handed (see what I did there), killing and devouring a bull. That of course is consistent with the idea that a greenseer dragon broke the moon. Those moon meteors were in turn described as dragons, thunderbolts, sea dragons, hammers of the waters, and of course, a sun-spear… and not three paragraphs after Rhaegal is eating the bull, we get this:
Rhaegal roared in answer, and fire filled the pit, a spear of red and yellow. Viserion replied, his own flames gold and orange.
The color of the fire of each dragons tends to match the coloring of their bodies, with gold sometimes added in: Drogon is ‘black fire shot through with red,’ or sometimes shot through with red and gold, Vision the white and gold dragon often has pale fire or golden fire, and we just saw that Rhaegal’s can be ‘orange and yellow shot through with green’ a moment ago. But sometimes, George likes to play with the colors a little bit to suit a given scene; in this scene inside the pyramid, George chooses to describe Rhaegal’s fire as red and yellow. I believe that is because he called the fire a spear, and to make it a sun-spear, it would nee to be red and yellow, the colors of the Dornish sun-transfixed-by-a-spear sigil. So, what I am seeing here in this scene is a green dragon devouring the moon and then throwing a fiery sun-spear.
It’s one of those clues which, by itself, would not be something I would base an entire theory on, but as always I am looking for repeated manifestations of the same pattern to make the best interpretation, and this one fits in pretty well with the green dragon waking with thunder, riding or flying like a storm, creating burning men, and killing lunar bulls.
And speaking of Sunspear, and green dragons creating burning men, you know we have to talk about Quentyn the would-be dragon-tamer who tries to ride the green dragon and becomes a burning man instead. We obviously going to continue talking about Rhaegal, but let’s make this a section break since we are going to focus on Quentyn for minute.
A Dragon in the Deep Wood
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My favorite description of Rhaegal’s green scales comes in ADWD as Quentyn the soon-to-be-burning man beholds the green dragon in the pit:
Two eyes rose up before him.
Bronze, they were, brighter than polished shields, glowing with their own heat, burning behind a veil of smoke rising from the dragon’s nostrils. The light of Quentyn’s torch washed over scales of dark green, the green of moss in the deep woods at dusk, just before the last light fades. Then the dragon opened its mouth, and light and heat washed over them. Behind a fence of sharp black teeth he glimpsed the furnace glow, the shimmer of a sleeping fire a hundred times brighter than his torch. The dragon’s head was larger than a horse’s, and the neck stretched on and on, uncoiling like some great green serpent as the head rose, until those two glowing bronze eyes were staring down at him.
Green, the prince thought, his scales are green. “Rhaegal,” he said. His voice caught in his throat, and what came out was a broken croak. Frog, he thought, I am turning into Frog again. “The food,” he croaked, remembering. “Bring the food.”
That’s particularly tasty because not only do we have a reference to the idea of a dragon in the deep woods with the description of Rhaegal’s green scales, but consider the “green as moss” language – Jojen’s eyes are also described as “green as moss,” and Jojen is of course a green-dreamer. Similarly, when Bloodraven describes the ways in which those with green sight are marked, she describes their green eyes with the same language, almost exactly: “as green as the moss on a tree in the heart of the forest.” In other words, the description of Rhaegal’s green evokes the eyes of greenseers and the forest itself – specifically, “the deep woods at dusk just before the last light fades.” That last bit suggests the Long Night, which of course I am now claiming was brought on by greenseer dragons, or you might say by dragons going into the weirwoodnet, perhaps.
And speaking of shifty frog-eaters like Jojen, I’ve mentioned before there is a frog-eater joke in this scene because Quentyn’s nickname is frog, and as he is trying to say “bring the food!” in the middle of the confrontation with the dragon, his voice croaks and he thinks to himself “I am turning into frog again.” Thus, he is the froggy food and the dragon is a would-be frog-eater. If you’re thinking of comparing Dany’s dragons eating Quentyn to Bran eating Jojen in paste form, yup, Bran is a symbolic dragon and a frog eater. But’s that’s a tale for another day.
There are other ties to the Crannogmen with Quentyn too, because his hair and eyes are described as the color of mud, and Barristan has a lengthy inner monologue about how Quentyn is like mud and how mud is useful for growing crops and all, but Dany wanted fire, not mud, and Dorne sent her mud. Quentyn is a mud-man, in other words, and that is one of the names the Ironborn use for the Crannogmen – mud men. That makes at least three allusions to the Crannogmen with Quentyn’s symbolism – he’s a frog, and a mud-man, and he’s trying to ride a dragon whose moss-green scales match the eyes of Jojen.
“So what’s the point of all Quentyn’s allusions to Crannogmen,” you’re asking. Well, Crannogmen almost certainly interbred with the children of the forest in the past, which is why the greenseer gifts run strong among them. Therefore I think the likely purpose behind tying Quentyn to Crannogmen is so that he can be used as a proxy for a greenseer trying to ride a green dragon. I don’t see what else it could be, really. And because Quentyn has that distant Targaryen ancestry, which is how he tries to talk himself into attempting this mad folly, what is actually being suggested here is a dragon-blooded greenseer.
Quentyn of course fails miserably in his attempt to ride the dragon; instead he is roasted by one – Rhaegal, our green dragon, of course. In other words, the frog with a drop of dragon blood became a burning man when he called down the fire of the green dragon. I’ll quote the last lines of his Dragontamer chapter:
Quentyn turned and threw his left arm across his face to shield his eyes from the furnace wind. Rhaegal, he reminded himself, the green one is Rhaegal.
When he raised the whip, he saw that the lash was burning. His hand as well. All of him, all of him was burning.
Several recognizable Lightbringer symbols here: the burning whip, which matches Drogo’s fiery whip that appeared to crack open the dragon’s eggs; the fiery hand, a familiar symbol that evokes the weirwood leaves as burning / bloody hands; the furnace wind to give us more fire storm imagery, a nice opposite to the “cold winds” that the Others bring; and the left arm burnt by fire might suggest the dragon meteor which struck the Arm of Dorne. In fact it does, because earlier in this chapter, Quentyn thinks to himself “I am Dorne” on two different occasions – his arm is the arm of Dorne. So what we have in this scene is a green dragon blasting the arm of Dorne with a spear of dragonfire.
As a compliment to this idea, Quentyn’s repeated choking and croaking in this scene implies a strangled neck, as in the Neck of Westeros which was strangled by the Hammer of the Waters, and of course all of Quentin’s frog and mud-man symbolism also point us to the Neck. You’ll recall the many times that we see arm and neck wounds together in a Lightbringer forging incident from the Mountain vs. The Viper and the Hammer of the Waters episode – here, have another. A neck that croaks like a frog and the arm of Dorne burned by dragonfire.
We’ve mentioned before that Quentyn himself has weak Bloodstone Emperor symbolism – he’s “the sun’s son,” as prophesied to Daenerys by the Undying of Qarth, an idea that is at the heart of the “Azor Ahai reborn as second son / sun” symbol. That of course is the idea that Lightbringer and Azor Ahai reborn, being one in the same, was the son of the sun and also lit up the sky like a second sun, as Sunfyre and Moondancer did. Quentyn wants to ride a dragon and marry the “Amethyst Empress reborn” Daenerys Targaryen (trademark Durran Durrandon), much as Euron does, and of course Euron is another Bloodstone Emperor echo. That makes all of his crannogman symbolism all the more remarkable, as it is yet another clue tying the Bloodstone Emperor to greenseer magic.
As a final clue about Quentyn’s Bloodstone Emperor parallels, we hear of his first kiss coming from a set of twins, the fair-haired Drinkwater twins. The punchline is that Quentyn didn’t know which one it was that kissed him, but the clue here is about the sun having two lunar wives or queens, a pattern we see quite distinctly with Aegon the Conqueror, Rhaegar, and Stannis, and in more subtle fashion with other Azor Ahai characters, as we saw in the Moons of Ice and Fire series. To hammer this point home, Cletus Ironwood once suggested to Quentyn that although they are thought of as too lowborn for Quentyn to marry, he could take one or even both of the Drinkwater twins as paramours after he has his official state marriage to some important lady of a noble house.
While we are talking Great Empire of the Dawn and his links to greenseer magic, now is a good time to talk about the eyes of the Bloodstone Emperor. Now of course the ‘bloodstones’ in the books have been turned black via the whole burning black moon blood thing, as evidenced by the greasy black stone and the many instances of burning being associated with turning blood black. But real bloodstone is mostly dark green and flecked with spots of bright red that look like spatters of blood. I tend to think of the Bloodstone Emperor as having either black eyes or fiery red eyes, but if we follow the pattern of the rulers having eyes to match their gems, perhaps the Bloodstone Emperor started out with green and red eyes.
Which are the colors of the eyes of greenseers, who have eyes as “green as the moss on a tree in the heart of the forest,” yes, but also “eyes as red as blood.” If you were to mix the two, you would have the exact appearance of bloodstone. You’d also have one freaky-looking dude.
As we turn back to Quentyn the Dragontamer, we find more relevant symbolism, much of it related to the sea dragon. We know that a torch can be symbolic of Lightbringer, such as with Mithras’s sword and torch, or such as when the comet is called Mormont’s Torch, and of course a torch is really just a fancy name for a burning brand, such as the Drowned God carries. In the quote from the scene where Quentyn enter’s the dragon chamber and behold’s Rhaegal’s glorious visage, it said that “the light of Quentyn’s torch washed over scales of dark green.” That’s a quick, subtle depiction of Azor Ahai / the Bloodstone Emperor using Lightbringer to create a green dragon, and it also gives us watery fire dragon symbolism, implying Rhaegal as a sea dragon. Similarly, when Rhaegal opened his furnace mouth, it said that “light and heat washed over” Quentyn and his party. All this fire washing also reminds us Daenerys imagining herself cleansed in the alchemical wedding bonfire and hints at Quentyn’s upcoming symbolic fire transformation.
What’s really cool is that those burning wooden dragons that Aegon the Unworthy made get a reference as Quent and company prepare to try to steal the dragons. Here the references to Grey King myth kicks into overdrive:
The big man looked out toward the terrace. “I knew it would rain,” he said in a gloomy tone. “My bones were aching last night. They always ache before it rains. The dragons won’t like this. Fire and water don’t mix, and that’s a fact. You get a good cookfire lit, blazing away nice, then it starts to piss down rain and next thing your wood is sodden and your flames are dead.”
Gerris chuckled. “Dragons are not made of wood, Arch.”
“Some are. That old King Aegon, the randy one, he built wooden dragons to conquer us. That ended bad, though.” So may this, the prince thought. The follies and failures of Aegon the Unworthy did not concern him, but he was full of doubts and misgivings.
So here we have a direct association between Quentyn the burning frog man’s attempts to ride the green dragon and the burning wooden dragons of King Aegon the Randy which evoked the sea dragon and burning tree myths. What’s really great is the wildfire joke here: Arch says that fire and water do not mix, for when it pisses down rain, your fire dies – but not if that piss is the “pyromancer’s piss,” as wildfire is called. And in fact that is what Aegon’s wooden dragons burned with – wildfire. So fire and water do not mix, unless we are talking about wildfire… or about the sea dragon, who swims in the sea, yet possesses living fire.
Just as the sea dragon is functioning as a metaphor for the living fire of a weirwood which a greenseer can possess, I think it’s easy to see how wildfire – green fire – does something similar, uniting fire symbolism and greenseer symbolism. Green fire also goes hand-in-hand with the green fire dragons, which are also symbols of fiery greenseers. The fact that wildfire is a liquid seems an apt way to refer to the sea dragon’s fire and the Ironborn’s idea of bringing fire out of the sea. More on this later.
Now after Quentyn’s attempt fails and Viserion and Rhaegal escaped the pit, Rhaegal took up residence in the black pyramid of Yherizan, which still smolders with fires. The description of it is worth quoting, and it comes from the opening of Barristan’s chapter of ADWD called “The Queen’s Hand:”
The Dornish Prince was three days in dying. 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 to rivers. The rain had drowned the worst of the fires, but wisps of smoke still rose from the smoldering ruin that had been the pyramid of Hazkar, and the great black pyramid of Yherizan where Rhaegal had made his lair hulled in the gloom like a fat woman bedecked with glowing orange jewels.
Mountains and pyramids, especially the tops of them (that’s where Rhaegal makes his lair), can symbolize moons, so the notion of a green dragon living in a black pyramid could imply a tie between the burnt-black fire moon and the green dragon. Calling that pyramid a fat woman with fiery jewels strengthens the lunar symbolism – the full moon is called fat on occasion, and moon figures are usually women – and therefore the fat woman with glowing jewels description of the black pyramid also suggests a burning moon goddess… one who harbors a green dragon.
The reference to drowning the worst of the fire once again evokes the drowned fire symbolism of the Ironborn – the sea dragon rising from the sea with fire and the Drowned God carrying the burning brand out of the ocean. It’s especially meaningful to get a drowned fire reference in such close proximity to discussion of the green dragon, and it’s yet another clue linking the green dragon to drowned fire, and thus to the sea dragon. Recall Quentyn’s torchlight “washing over” Rhaegal’s green scales.
Finally, take note of Quentyn’s three days to die thing – it seems like it might be a parallel to Jesus being dead for three days before his resurrection. Azor Ahai the burning man is the Jesus / savior figure of the story in terms of archetypes, and we do indeed find Jesus parallels with Jon Snow and others Azor Ahai players. In fact, these lines about about Quentyn taking three days to die are the opening lines of this Barristan chapter, and are actually the first words that come after Jon’s death scene, which ends the previous chapter. I have found that Martin sometimes likes to carry over a symbolic train of thought from one chapter to the next, and this would be one of those times. Jon manifests the symbolism of Azor Ahai and the Bloodstone Emperor quite strongly, so his death is symbolically the same thing as Quentyn’s. Barristan ties the two chapters together, because as he is searching the black dawn sky for signs of Daenerys, we read:
He saw no sign of dragons, but he had not expected to. The dragons did not like the rain. A thin red slash marked the eastern horizon where the sun might soon appear. It reminded Selmy of the first blood welling from a wound. Often, even with a deep cut, the blood came before the pain.
That’s exactly what just happened to Jon – he was sliced across the neck by Wick Whittlestick and the blood instantly welled beneath his fingers, though he did not seem to feel it, thinking it was only a scratch. But welling blood that quickly means Jon’s jugular was almost certainly cut open, which is why he rapidly loses feeling in his fingers, cannot draw his sword, and loses consciousness before he can even be stabbed three more times. He wouldn’t be losing his consciousness that quickly unless his jugular was cut, and so that’s what I think happened here – the people who think Jon hasn’t actually died are almost certainly wrong (wah-wun). He is dead, sliced across the neck like a true sacrifice by Wick Whittlestick.
Consider that name, by the way – wick as in candle wick, implying fire, or wick like wicker man (whose fate is to burn), and whittle-stick implies carved wood (like a heart tree). Thus, we have pretty strong burning weirwood symbolism here at Jon’s death scene (which makes sense of course). You could definitely call Wick a weirwood assassin figure. Wick Whittlestick’s name also calls out to Old Wyk of the Iron Islands, where the sea dragon bones rest, so I think we are safe to say this is no coincidence. And of course, Jon’s spirit is then headed into Ghost, who looks like a weirwood.
Pain Killer Jane, a.k.a. Lady Jane of House Celtigar, Emerald of the Evening and Captain of the Dread Ship Eclipse Wind, who is a frequent contributor to Mythical Astronomy, has a great observation here which further unites the symbolism of Jon and Quentyn. The name “Quentyn” is phonetically similar to “quintain,” which is ‘a post set up as a mark in tilting with a lance.‘ The most famous one we get in ASOIAF is made of straw and has antlers on it, making it a king of winter and a horned lord!
Of course I am referring to the endearing scene where Tommen jousts a “child-sized leather warrior stuffed with straw and mounted on a pivot,” which “someone had fastened a pair of antlers to” in order to make it signify the rebel and traitor King Renly Baratheon. We recognize the symbol of a straw man knight easily enough since we talk about the burning scarecrow straw man Night’s Watch brothers so often, and straw men also make us think of the burning wing of winter and wicker man mythologiies that the burning scarecrow brothers are based on. Indeed, the straw man quintain is compared to Renly, and of course when we see Garlan Tyrell masquerading as resurrected Renly, the fires of the Blackwater battle reflect golden off of his antlers and ghostly green off of his armor, implying him as a burning stag man.
As we discussed earlier, the fiery sorcerers waking from burning wood are almost certainly the fiery undead Night’s Watch green zombies, and that they share all the same king of winter and wicker man symbolism. Jon has all of that symbolism in spades of course, and that makes sense as he is set to be the signature undead skinchanger Night’s Watch zombie, quite possibly resurrected through fire. Quentyn on the other hand also has the greenseer / skinchanger symbolism by way of his frog, mud-man, and green dragonrider stuff, and of course he has the most vivid burning man symbolism possible. So is Martin implying Quentyn as a quintain, a straw man knight? It makes perfect sense. The wicker man and king of winter figures are essentially sacrifices that burn, and that’s just what Quentyn is.
So, combining the symbolism of the end of Jon’s chapter and the beginning of Barristan’s, we have Jon being sacrificed by a burning tree person which overlays with Quentyn being turned into a burning man by a green dragon and taking three days to die, and then we have a black dawn, the red comet wound, and the green dragon taking up residence in a fat black moon pyramid which still smolders. Fire is drowned, and men look for a Morningstar dragon to save them and bring back the sun. Pretty great stuff, right? There are a bunch of bleed-overs from the end of one chapter to the beginning of another, so don’t think this is a one-off. We’ll do some more in the future, and be on the lookout when you do a re-read.
Interestingly, I have found that the description of Rhaegal being trapped inside the pit mirrors Quentyn’s death. The following is from ADWD and comes after Dany recalling that they had managed to chain Viserion in his sleep :
Rhaegal had been harder. Perhaps he could hear his brother raging in the pit, despite the walls of brick and stone between them. In the end, they had to cover him with a net of heavy iron chain as he basked on her terrace, and he fought so fiercely that it had taken three days to carry him down the servants’ steps, twisting and snapping. Six men had been burned in the struggle.
Quentyn takes three days to die, Rhaegal takes three days to be carried down to the stygian darkness of the pit, an obvious hellish underworld location. Rhaegal made Quentyn into a burning man and sent him to hell, and here we see that he creates six burned men as he’s dragged down below the pyramid. Don’t miss the awesome greenseer / weirwoodnet clue here by the way: Rhaegal is trapped in a net! Hello, weirwoodnet-as-a-trap-for-greenseers symbolism. That’s a really nice one, and equates the symbolic death and journey to the underworld of the green dragon with being trapped in the weirwoodnet. Think again of Bloodraven, a dragon chained up by weirwood roots down in a dark underworld cave full of bones.
So now think of this as-above-so-below mirror image: Rhaegal chained up in the darkness below the pyramid, and Rhaegal later making a lair in the smoldering black pyramid after he escapes. This is similar to Odin going up and down Yggdrasil like a ladder to the various realms, or like the greenseer’s body sitting below the weirwood while his spirit uses the weirwood to “fly.” The image of a fiery green dragon surrounded by blackness is identical whether he’s at the top or bottom of the pyramid, because the greenseer really exists both below the trees and soaring above them. It’s a matching symbol, but George gives it to us in two places and in two forms; a chained-up version below and set-free version above.
You could also think of the pyramid and the “all-seeing-eye” symbol that we find on our money. The all seeing eye is at the top of the pyramid, and that’s more or less the image George is creating with the green dragon creating alair at the top of the pyramid.
There is a possible parallel for this symbol of the green dragon inside the black pyramid in the placement of the dragon’s eggs around Drogo’s corpse at the beginning of the Alchemical Wedding scene:
She climbed the pyre herself to place the eggs around her sun-and-stars. The black by his heart, under his arm. The green beside his head, his braid coiled around it. The cream-and-gold down between his legs.
It could be that the green is placed by his head to signify vision, knowledge, enlightenment, that sort of thing. Green-seeing is done with the mind and the third eye in other words. Drogo’s oily black braid coils around the green egg, surrounding it, a similar image to the green dragon living inside the smoldering black pyramid or below the pyramid in the pit when he’s chained up.
As we have discussed before, Drogo’s hair is also given water symbolism in AGOT when his braid is undone; it says “his hair spread out behind him like a river of darkness, oiled and gleaming.” The green dragon egg placed in Drogo’s black oily river of darkness hair is therefore more sea dragon symbolism, depicting a green dragon that lives or wakes from the darkling sea. The black sea in particular is a reference to the cosmic ocean of space, which again speaks to the greenseers’ ability to travel time and space through their bond with the weirwoods. That fits with the green egg being placed by the head, I’d say.
Consider that this is all happening with Drogo, a signature Azor Ahai solar king. He awakens from the Lightbringer bonfire as a fiery sorcerer who rides the smokey the burning ash tree / smokey stallion to the sky so that he can ride the red comet as a star-horse. He’s like a greenseer dragon, defying death and swimming in the dark ocean of space through the use of the weirwoodnet.
Oddly enough, Dany thinks about touching the comet one time… right after being inspired by her green dragon, Rhaegal:
Across the tent, Rhaegal unfolded green wings to flap and flutter a half foot before thumping to the carpet. When he landed, his tail lashed back and forth in fury, and he raised his head and screamed. If I had wings, I would want to fly too, Dany thought. The Targaryens of old had ridden upon dragonback when they went to war. She tried to imagine what it would feel like, to straddle a dragon’s neck and soar high into the air. It would be like standing on a mountaintop, only better. The whole world would be spread out below. If I flew high enough, I could even see the Seven Kingdoms, and reach up and touch the comet.
Does being a greenseer dragon have something to do with touching comets? Or is this more a metaphor for using greenseer magic to reach for the fire of the gods? Well, that’s a question we’ll have to return to another time. That’s pretty much it for today, though I have a bit of bonus material here to act as a cool down from the sheer raw intensity of touching comets and flying through space.
Returning to the placement of the eggs around Drogo in the pyre, if I were to speculate further about the placement of the other two eggs, I would say that the black by his heart makes sense, as we have seen that meteors can be described as the hearts of fallen stars, and the black meteors would be black hearts, for which there is abundant correlating ‘black heart’ symbolism with Azor Ahai which you guys and gals are are familiar with. As for the white dragon placed in Drogo’s crotch, that’s too big a topic to open up right now and I’d be tempted use up all my good penis jokes that I really should save for the white dragon episode. You don’t want to fire your gun before the time is right… oof. Sorry.
I do have one more serious observation about the alchemical bonfire and the cracking of the eggs. It seems that the three cracks of the eggs pretty much relate the sequence of the Long Night disaster in detail, check this out.
The first one cracks with “the sound of shattering stone” as Drogo’s flaming lash “snaked down at the pyre, hissing.” That’s the snaky lightbringer comet striking the moon and shattering its stone. This is the white egg, and it’s definitely associated with the moon, because as Dany is “showered with ash and cinders” and as “the roaring filled the world,” at Danys feet lands “a chunk of curved rock, pale and veined with gold, broken and smoking.” A pale stone crescent is a clear moon symbol, so that’s what this first crack is about, the breaking of the moon.
Then comes the second crack, as loud and sharp as thunder, and with it, the fire that touches the secret hearts of the wooden logs. This is the Storm God’s thunderbolt descending from the moon and setting fire to the “heart tree,” if you will. Right after this is when Daenerys thinks to herself “I am Daenerys Stormborn,” and then comes the line about stepping into the firestorm. This is the green dragon’s egg and everything here is about storm and thunder, so again, this is the thunderbolt coming from the moon and setting fire to the tree.
And finally, the breaking of the world, as the black dragon’s egg, the black bloodstone, cracks open to birth the black dragon. This is the Hammer of the Waters meteor striking the Arm of Dorne and splitting the continents apart, the sun-spear which beats down “like a fiery hammer” as we read in AFFC. The evidence is found in the names left around the broken Arm: Bloodstone Isle and Sunspear, as we have discussed, and maybe even places like Ghost Hill of House Toland, whose arms, as it happens, bear a green dragon (!) on a yellow circle. The other named Stepstones island is called Grey Gallows, which we know refers to the gallows tree, Yggdrasil, and perhaps to the Grey King, whose weirwood throne is the ASOIAF equivalent of Yggdrasil.
So there you have it, the three-step process as told by Dany’s dragons, from comet / moon collision to falling thunderbolt to the Hammer of the Waters. Now that we have begun to unravel the symbolism of the green dragon and the burning tree, we can see the whole picture from this scene which we have discussed many times previously. It just goes to show how densely Martin’s ideas are layered in.