Hi there. My name is Lucifer means Lightbringer, or LmL for short, and I am known for analyzing the extensive use of symbolism in A Song of Ice and Fire, and sometimes, HBO’s Game of Thrones. In during Episode 1 of Season 8, we saw a giant, horrifying symbol which I believe spells out a large part of how this story will end, both in terms of the show and the books. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the same ending in both because the books have extensive symbolic evidence that backs up the ending I think the show is foreshadowing. Not only that, but this symbolic evidence from the books I am talking about will provide the context needed to understand why this is what has to happen. I’m going to give you the nuts and bolts of this theory first here in part 1, mostly based on material from the TV show, and then in subsequent videos I’m going to show you how this ending has been spelled out many times in the books of ASOIAF – through symbolism.
First of all, let’s be clear – we’re talking about poor dead Ned Umber and the other assorted body parts that were nailed to the wall of the Last Hearth in some sort of creepy white walker mandala. Let’s review the basics: the corpse of young Ned Umber is pinned on the wall, and surrounding him are eight spiral arms of.. well, arms and legs, hands and feet. When Lord Commander Dolorous Edd, the famous bearded wildling Tormund Giantsbane, and the undead-and-armed-with-a-flaming-sword Beric Dondarrion approach a bit closer, dead Ned Umber’s corpse begins to shriek and opens up its eyes, which now burn with the familiar cold blue star fire of the White Walkers. Beric quickly stabs the wighted corpse with his flaming sword, and as undead Ned Umber continues to scream, he and all the body parts on the wall catch fire. What began as a creepy White Walker corpse spiral with cold blue star eyes at the center transforms into a flaming spiral, somewhat reminiscent of the Targaryen three-headed dragon sigil.
And the crowd goes… straight to the internet, searching for and / or writing comments and theories about what it all means! Pausing a moment to grieve for poor Ned Umber and all the people of Last Hearth who are now part of the army of the living dead, I want to tell you that this giant symbol – for that is what it is – actually tells us just how to set the Umbers and everyone else enslaved in the army of the dead, free.
The basics are fairly straightforward, and it begins with recognizing that spiral design, which we’ve seen most notably in three places: the caverns of dragonglass on Dragonstone, which has spirals and many other things etched or painted on the wall, including several White Walkers; in the spiral arms of the shape the White Walkers made with the body parts of slain horses after the Fist of the First Men, very similar to what we see at Last Hearth; and most importantly, we see this spiral-arm design at the place where Night King was created. That was in Season 6, Episode 5, when Bran uses the power of the weirwoods to look into the past and sees our future Night King tied to a lone weirwood tree which is surrounded by eight spiral arms of obelisks made from dark stone. The children of the forest approach the captive and stab him with a dragonglass knife, embedding it in his chest; then his eyes turn ice blue, and presto, he’s the Night King.
The spiral also appears a couple of other places too, but let’s focus on that weirwood tree where Night King was created. Night King is the macabre “artist,” as Mance Raydar says, behind these corpse mandalas, so it makes sense he would be sort of fixated on the moment of his creation – or rather, his transformation. The moment he, against his will, was transformed into some sort of ice demon king condemned to live forever, or at least until the right person stabs him with the right magic sword. Beric, who seems to intuitively get Night King, takes a look at the corpse spiral on the wall at the Last Hearth and says “it’s a message from Night King,” and that’s what everyone’s been trying to figure out. The place to start is the place where Night King started, because that’s what he is drawing with these body parts! It’s a diagram of the weirwood tree and its spiral arms. Think about it – that’s what the spiral arm design means to Night King, more than anything. His message must have something to do with that – we can guess right away that he is probably pissed off about being turned into Night King, so on some level he’s probably making this design out of corpses to say “I am coming to make corpses of you all, because that is what I was created to do, at this place with the weirwood and the spiral arms.”
That IS, after all, why the children turned this guy into Night King – in the HBO show cannon, the children were losing the war against the First Men, who were cutting down their weirwoods. Night King was created to kill humans – but somehow, the children apparently lost the ability to control or contain Night King and his armies of white walkers and wights, and we know that the children actually turned around and allied with the remaining First Men to defeat the White Walkers and end the Long Night. The mythology surrounding this in the books is more developed, but it’s basically the same with the exception that instead of some guy called Night King, we’re simply told of the White Walkers, and some of this is implied as opposed to spelled out.
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
We Should Start Back
I: AGOT Prologue
The important thing is that in show cannon, Night King was created to kill humans, and he was created at that weirwood surrounded by eight spiral arms of standing stones. Now he recreates that spiral with the body parts of his victims – makes sense, right? A fun wordplay note here: the spiral “arms” of the design on the wall of Last Hearth are made of the bloody limbs of dead people – but instead of body limbs, think “tree limbs” here, and then recall that the weirwood leaves are usually described in the books as looking like bloody hands – and yes, there are actually bloody hands included in the Last Heart corpse spiral design. Simply another layer of symbolism, however gruesome, which adds to the idea that Night King’;s corpse spirals are saying something about that place with the weirwood tree and the spiral arms of obelisks where he was transformed.
So you got all that – but there’s more to this spiral arm symbol at Last Hearth, because we don’t just get Night King’s icy corpse rendering of his home tree – we also see it lit on fire with a flaming sword. From ice to fire – what does that part mean?
Well, we see an overhead shot of the Night King tree and the spiral arms of standing stones two times, in two very different circumstances: once in the ancient past when the ground is lush and green, with the canopy of weirwood leaves as red as blood and fire, and once in the present (albeit on the astral plane), where everything is covered in snow and the now leafless weirwood tree hunches and crouches, its limbs weighed down by snow and ice. This transformation reflects the growing power of the white walkers, and one wonders if Night King might have a special connection to that tree in particular. The freezing over of that weirwood seems to mirror the icy transformation of Night King himself, I would say.
Now when we look at the corpse spiral at Last Hearth, we are surely supposed to see a diagram of the Night King tree and those spiral arms of standing stones, as I said – and more specifically, I think this is a diagram of the Night King weirwood after it has been frozen over, because the “spiral diagra m” is made of corpses, and dead Ned Umber animates with the cold blue magic of the White Walkers when the crew arrives. It’s a perfect reflection of how the Night King tree loo ks now – and when Bran sees the frozen Night King tree in the weirwood vision, it is actually surrounded by the army of the dead. In fact, one might even see the ice-blue eyed Ned Umber, pinned to the wall at the center of the spiral where the weirwood tree would be, as a stand-in for Night King himself, who was pinned to the weirwood tree at the center of the stone spiral and given those same sort of ice blue eyes! I found a great clue to confirm this on rewatch of this episode: Tormund is saying “..we just have to hope the Night King doesn’t come first..” at the moment the wighted corpse of Ned Umber is waking, with his shriek cutting off Tormund mid-sentence.
In other words, this is a diagram of the Night King weirwood tree, but it’s showing us Night King in power, with ice and death spiraling out from him and taking over everything. This strongly implies Night King’s power is tied to that frozen weirwood, something the books suggest is true of the white walkers in general (whose full name is “the white walkers of the wood”).
So, our heroes behold this horrific symbol of Night King’s frozen tree and his terrifying power, and then we know what happens next. Thinking quickly, Beric stabs it with a flaming sword, clearing out the White Walker magic and creating a lovely symbol of the Targaryen dragon in its place (at least, many think it resembles that sigil, and I agree). The flaming sword is an unmistakable symbol of Lightbringer of course, and here it is stabbing a representation of Night King’s tree, and perhaps Night King himself. Stabbing Night King with Lightbringer has always seemed like the thing to do – but we have to consider the weirwood angle here, which hints at a deeper mystery. What is being suggested here is more than just killing Night King, but rather setting fire to the weirwoods – either setting fire to his personal tree, or more likely, to the weirwoodnet as a whole. We could be talking about a total shutdown here, which may be the only way to stop him.
And yes, Bran is tied to the weirwoodnet, and will surely have to die – to sacrifice himself – if defeating Night King requires a total shutdown of the weirwoodnet. We can’t help but notice that the dead boy in the center of the corpse spiral is named Ned, a Stark name. I suggested earlier Ned Umber might be standing in for Night King, tied to the tree as he was, but it could also foreshadow Bran – a boy lord with a Stark name – burning inside the weirwoods along with Night King. I personally don’t see how it could be any other way, if the weirwoods are to burn. It’s sad, but Bran has always been slated for heroic martyrdom in my opinion… and there is actually so much foreshadowing of Bran burning in some way that I have an entire episode of the Weirwood Compendium called “A Burning Brandon,” which I wrote several years ago. From Hodor carrying Bran around in a basket used to carry firewood (gulp), to the phonetic connection of Bran’s name to the Norse word “brandr,” which means both “burning brand” and “flaming sword,” there’s quite a lot there pointing to a spectacular and heroic sort of “flame-out” for Brandon Stark, the Summer Child.
But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Before we talk of Bran and shutting down the weirwoodnet, and before we get into the deep connections between the White Walkers and the weirwoods, I want to show you that Azor Ahai setting the weirwoods on fire with a flaming sword is an idea that is expressed in the books many times. That’s what makes this such a fun theory for me – we saw Beric stab a symbol of Night King’s frozen tree with a flaming sword, and then I realized I had been documenting that exact sequence for years already. All such scenes with symbolic depictions of Lightbringer stabbing or burning weirwoods are surrounded by talk of the Long Night and symbolism tied to the Long Night, as well as to Azor Ahai, Lightbringer, and Night King.
And that’s what we’ll look at in Part 2: scenes from the book that use symbolism to depict Azor Ahai burning weirwoods to destroy the White Walkers and end the Long Night. I hope you’ve enjoyed part one, and for further reading, please enjoy the various compendiums of the Mythical Astronomy of Ice and Fire podcast, which you can find in your podcast feed, at lucifermeanslightbringer.com, or here on YouTube.