The End of Ice and Fire 2: The Sword in the Tree

Hey there friends. LmL here again. Last time, I showed you why I think that the gruesome White Walker corpse spiral nailed to the wall of Last Hearth in Season 8, Episode 1 is functioning as a symbol of the Night King tree, and why I think that it’s actually giving us some strong clues about what needs to be done to end the threat of Night King and free the army of the dead from bondage. Hopefully you’ve seen that, and the basics of it ar e simple: Night King was created at that weirwood with the spiral arms of standing stones, and he seems to like to draw pictures of this place with the corpses of his victims, such as he did at Last Hearth and the Fist of the First Men. These corpse spirals are, on some level, serving as symbolic representations of his tree. This is reinforced through symbolism: for example, just as the limbs of a weirwood tree have red leaves that are always described in the books as looking like bloody hands, the corpse spiral design at Last Hearth is made of limbs and bloody hands. The wighted Ned Umber is pinned to the wall at the center of the spiral design, just as Night King was tied to the weirwood tree at the center of the spiral of stones – and look, they both have those same old blue eyes. I’ve got you… under my skin…

I’m certainly not alone in coming to the conclusion that the corpse spiral at Last Hearth represents the Night King tree, which is encouraging. That’s basically step one here: the real fun comes with trying to figure out how the writers of the show might be using this symbol to give us clues. That leads to exciting questions like “why did that guy with heavy parallels to Jon Snow just stab the corpse spiral with a flaming sword,” and “why did it then turn into a flaming spiral that kinda looks like a Targaryen three-headed dragon sigil?”

Here’s what I put together: someone playing the role of Azor Ahai and carrying a symbol of Lightbringer is setting fire to the thing that represents the Night King tree, and this seems like a clue about how to beat the Night King. This could imply setting fire to Night King’s tree specifically, or perhaps to the thing we call the “weirwoodnet” as a whole (meaning the astral dimension that is accessed by greenseers like Bran and Bloodraven, and by Night King as well). The idea is that Night King’s magic seems tied either to his home weirwood tree or to the weirwoodnet in general, and setting it on fire, in some sense, may be the only way to stop him. It could be a literal fire, or something more metaphorical, though with all the dragons and flaming swords around, I’d guess the fire will be at least partially real.

I left off last time by promising that this sequence – Azor Ahai setting fire to the weirwoods to stop the White Walkers and end the Long Night – had actually been spelled out in the books many times through symbolism, and that I had actually been documenting these scenes in my podcast for a long time. I’ve picked a couple of the very best ones for today, and I hope showing them to you will convince you that the books and the show are building towards the same general end game here involving the weirwoods and the White Walkers… and fire. First up, Melisandre and Stannis at Dragonstone, doing their Lightbringer dramatic reenactment.

When I say that Azor Ahai needs to set fire to the weirwoods with Lightbringer, I do not not mean that Jon Snow literally needs to stab the Night King tree with a flaming sword – although, who knows, it could happen. Lightbringer doesn’t have to be a literal flaming sword; it can also be a dragon, or a person (or even a comet). If Night King’ tree needs to be melted or burned, it probably makes more sense if our Azor Ahai reborn heroes, Jon and Daenerys, use a dragon instead of a flaming sword. Or it could be that setting fire to the weirwoods is more metaphorical, and it’s something Bran will do on the astral plane, on the inside. We will get into all that, and please comment on the video with your ideas about how this could play out, but I do want to tell you that the first time in the story that we ever saw a flaming sword called Lightbringer, it was actually already stuck in a kind of burning tree.

The scene on Dragonstone opens with the red comet in the sky and the wooden statues of the gods of the Faith of the Seven already on fire – and with a burning Lightbringer already jammed into the statue of the Mother. There’s no weirwood tree here, but this statue serves as a symbol of a weirwood tree because it’s a carved wooden god, specifically carved from “old wood,” just as the weirwood trees have carved faces and house the Old God s. Consider also that all of these wooden statues of the Seven are carved from the masts of the ships, which are the next best thing to tree trunks. With seven of them arranged in a group, they even look like a grove of trees – a sacred grove, which is now afire. The chapter from A Clash of Kings that has this scene begins with these lines:

King Bran
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

Bloodstone Compendium
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

Weirwood Goddess
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

Now in PODCAST form!

Click to open in iTunes

The morning air was dark with the smoke of burning gods. 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.

When the weirwoods are burned, the air is similarly filled with the smoke of burning gods, so you can see the correlation here. Now in  the show version, this scene is at night, but in the book version, it takes place in the morning – meaning that the night is ending here as the wooden gods are burnt. We don’t have time to go into detail on it here, but there’s a lot more to the link between burning ships and burning weirwoods – for example, there’s a legendary fellow named The Grey King who sailed weirwood boats and possessed the fire of the gods by means of a burning tree – weirwood boats and burning trees, together, and there’s also something about a sea dragon. You can find out more about that in “The Grey King and the Sea Dragon,” as well as on the Disputed Lands channel, but back here on Dragonstone, what we have is a carved wooden god, burning brightly, with Lightbringer jammed into its wood:

The Maiden lay athwart the Warrior, her arms widespread as if to embrace him. The Mother seemed almost to shudder as the flames came licking up her face. A longsword had been thrust through her heart, and its leather grip was alive with flame.

The sword is thrust through her heart everyone – through the wooden heart of a burning god.

This done, Melisandre begins feeling it and starts to talk of the prophecy of Azor Ahai, giving us a clue that the idea of sticking a burning sword into a weirwood tree has something to do with defeating the Long Night:

Melisandre was robed all in scarlet satin and blood velvet, her eyes as red as the great ruby that glistened at her throat as if it too were afire. “In ancient books of Asshai it is written that there will come a day after a long summer when the stars bleed and the cold breath of darkness falls heavy on the world. In this dread hour a warrior shall draw from the fire a burning sword. And that sword shall be Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, and he who clasps it shall be Azor Ahai come again, and the darkness shall flee before him.” She lifted her voice, so it carried out over the gathered host. “Azor Ahai, beloved of R’hllor! The Warrior of Light, the Son of Fire! Come forth, your sword awaits you! Come forth and take it into your hand!”

And that’s what Stannis does; hearing all this inspirational Azor Ahai and Long Night talk, he marches into the pyre and pulls Lightbringer out of the carved wooden god and holds it aloft. This is a symbolic depiction of Azor Ahai triumphing over the cold and darkness that covers the world during the Long Night, and again, it involves stabbing a tree-turned-carved-wooden-god with a flaming sword. That’s a pretty nice correlation to the proposed endgame of using Lightbringer to set fire to Night King’s tree, or to the weirwoodnet as a whole. Stannis’s sword even burns with green fire in this scene, as Melisandre has coated the sword in wildfire to make it look like a fulfillment of prophecy, which may be a clue about green magic – the magic of the greenseers and weirwoods – being burned.

Here’s something else to consider – burning weirwoods is a thing Melisandre is into. Speaking in terms of book cannon, Melisandre and Stannis later go to Storm’s End and burn the great old weirwood there, most likely an eight thousand year-old tree from the Age of Heroes. One imagines he waved his Lightbringer around a bit when they did, but either way, it’s another example of an Azor Ahai figure burning weirwoods – actual weirwoods that time, not symbolic ones like here at Dragonstone.

Then in ASOS, Stannis offers to legitimize Jon Snow as Jon Stark, Lord of Winterfell…  but Melisandre would require him to burn the Winterfell heart tree if he takes the offer, so he refuses. But if Jon does end up having to help set fire to the weirwoods in some sense to defeat the White Walkers, this will be looked at as heavy foreshadowing. That Winterfell tree Stannis wants him to burn is associated with Bran more than any other tree, too, since Bran sees through its eyes in his weirwood visions and even speaks from inside of it to Theon, so… yikes.

Mel and Stannis burn more actual weirwood at the Wall (and this is really becoming a theme here) when they demand that each of the wildlings who want to cross to the south of the Wall toss a piece of weirwood into the fire, and this time Stannis is definitely waving Lightbringer around in their faces. The wildlings are of course fleeing from the white walkers, and notice how escaping them is equated with burning the Old Gods:

Behind them was only cold and death. Ahead was hope. They came on, clutching their scraps of wood until the time came to feed them to the flames. R’hllor was a jealous deity, ever hungry. So the new god devoured the corpse of the old, and cast gigantic shadows of Stannis and Melisandre upon the Wall, black against the ruddy red reflections on the ice.

The weirwood trees really do look like corpse trees, with their bleeding faces carved into trunks “as white as bone” and with their leaves like bloody hands, and there’s even a white tree / wight tree wordplay thing going on. Here we see the weirwood corpse of the old gods devoured by fire at the command of an Azor Ahai figure and his fire witch, fitting the pattern once again.

In fact… only moments before unsheathing Lightbringer and opening the gate to the Wildlings, they burn the Lord of Bones, glamoured up to look like Mance Raydar, in a weirwood cage. The Lord of Bones, a.k.a. Rattleshirt, is definitely a white walker symbol, with his bone white armor to match the bone white skin of the White Walkers, and the geenral connotation of the Lord of Death which comes along with dressing up as a skeleton. And anyone who is the King Beyond the Wall like Mance can play that role as well, since the Night King is the real King Beyond the Wall (and this is corroborated by more book symbolism, for what it’s worth).

So that’s a Night King figure, burned inside a weirwood cage y’all, and as he died screaming…

Stannis Baratheon drew Lightbringer.

The sword glowed red and yellow and orange, alive with light. Jon had seen the show before … but not like this, never before like this. Lightbringer was the sun made steel. 

If we imagine Rattleshirt-disguised-as-Mance as playing the role of Night King, this is a home run for our theory – burning Night King inside a weirwood cage at the Wall as Lightbringer shines as bright as the sun. This really seems like a glimpse of what the end game might look like – several heroes working together to trap and contain the Night King while his weirwood tree is set on fire, which contains and consumes him. This is the big hint about how to destroy the Night King: turn his weirwood tree, the source of his power, into a burning weirwood cage. Again we think of the blue-eyed, wighted Ned Umber, pinned to the spiral diagram of the Night King tree while it all burns – it’s a symbolic burning weirwood cage for the Night King.

Returning to the scene of Mance Raydar’s burning, we look around and… oh hey, there’s Jon Snowzor Ahai. Jon actually uses an arrow to put the glamoured Rattleshirt out of his misery, so he is even implied as delivering part of the blow that ends Night King.

Ok, did you enjoy that? I promised Azor Ahai burning weirwoods, and I think we are off to a good start.  You gotta love how how the first Stannis Lightbringer scene is at Dragonstone, home of House Targaryen, and the place where the show has depicted spirals images in the caves alongside white walkers and other cool shit that I broke down with History of Westeros in their video “Caverns of Dragonglass.” I can’t wait to see if there are similar cave drawings in the books, and I’d also recommend Gray Area’s video positing that, at least in show cannon, the Targaryens may have modeled their three-headed dragon sigil off of the spiral designs in the dragonglass caves, which I think makes loads of sense.

I’ll see you again soon with part 3, where we’ll break down the most epic dragonrider versus dragonrider battle in recorded history, one that acts as a perfect model for the eternal clash of ice and fire. We’ll find more symbolism of Azor Ahai symbolically shutting down the weirwoodnet to defeat the white walkers (and even stabbing weirwoods with a sword, like literally), and this time… dragons. Also, I’d like you to invite you to join me and the myth heads (and other honored guests) every Sundays for NOWIE – at 3 EST we do a pregame show, and we do a live postgame reaction show right after the HBO episode is done airing. Thanks again for watching, don’t forget to like and subscribe, and you can find all of my material at See you next time!


13 thoughts on “The End of Ice and Fire 2: The Sword in the Tree

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