Ice Spiders

Ice spiders big as hounds, or sometimes pale white spiders big as hounds. They sound scary, but at the same time, they’ve almost become more of a fandom in-joke than anything else, if only because of Old Nan’s epic delivery of the line, be it the HBO’s Old Nan, played by the late Margaret John, or Roy Dotrice’s Old Nan from the ASOIAF audiobooks.

One by one his friends died, and his horse, and finally even his dog, and his sword froze so hard the blade snapped when he tried to use it. And the Others smelled the hot blood in him, and came silent on his trail, stalking him with packs of pale white spiders big as hounds—”

Old Nan may be the story-spider of Westeros – shout-out to Anansi the Story Spider – but the question remains: what are these pale white spiders, also referred to as “giant ice spiders” in the ancient records of the Night’s Watch? Are they real, or are they some sort of misunderstood legend? Is this, like, a symbolism thing? Some kind of metaphor? Well friends, the answer is all of the above, and weaving all the various ice spider idea threads together will reveal a frightening new theory about the Others themselves, and what they might be able to do with their magic when the Long Night truly falls. So yes friends, it’s going to be THAT kind of episode (one where I use my spooky effect music a lot, basically), so click the like and subscribe buttons, hunker down to avoid notice, and maybe just maybe we can avoid becoming nest food for a fresh crop of baby ice spiders hatchlings.

The Others come when it is cold, most of the tales agree. Or else it gets cold when they come. Sometimes they appear during snowstorms and melt away when the skies clear. They hide from the light of the sun and emerge by night . . . or else night falls when they emerge. Some stories speak of them riding the corpses of dead animals. Bears, direwolves, mammoths, horses, it makes no matter, so long as the beast is dead. The one that killed Small Paul was riding a dead horse, so that part’s plainly true. Some accounts speak of giant ice spiders too. I don’t know what those are.”

Sam Tarly may not know what ice spiders are, but it’s possible we shouldn’t overthink it. They could be just what they sound like, some sort of spider-like monster made from magical ice. Admittedly, when you already have dead humans as well as dead bears and dead wolves at your command, giant ice spiders may seem like overkill, but it is nevertheless a very real possibility.

George has famously said that the Others “can do things with ice” that no one else can, implying that they might be able to do any sort of ice magic one could conceive of, if it suits George’s purpose. For example, it could turn out that the Others built the Wall, perhaps shaping its ice with their magic just as the Valyrians were able to shape molten stone and fused it into place with the aid of dragonfire and sorcery. And where do the Others get their ice swords and ice armor anyway? Do they go down to Hephaest-ice Armory Surplus in downtown Heart of Winter, which is of course a block over from white walker daycare, where Craster’s kids are raised and taught how to ride dead horses and speak skroth? And can we get all this in the next Sims mod, please?

Of course it’s probably the case that the Others simply have some ability to form things out of ice, just as they can command cold winds and ice storms, and just as they can animate the dead with icy magic that leaves their eyes glowing like blue stars. If the Others can make things out of ice and animate dead things with ice, perhaps they could fashion a monster from ice and then give it ‘life,’ or ‘unlife,’ or whatever you want to call “powered by blue star eye magic.”

After all, in-world legends of ice dragons basically sound like what I just described. Although “the Ice Dragon” is first named in the story as a northern constellation whose eye is the pole star – this seems to be George’s version of Draco by the way, which wraps around the pole star in the real world, and actually once (Thuban, 5k years ago) contained the pole star, a designation which gradually shifts between different northern stars due to the cycle of the precession of the equinoxes – ice dragons are also magical monsters made of ice. This famous passage is from TWOIAF:

Of all the queer and fabulous denizens of the Shivering Sea, however, the greatest are the ice dragons. These colossal beasts, many times larger than the dragons of Valyria, are said to be made of living ice, with eyes of pale blue crystal and vast translucent wings through which the moon and stars can be glimpsed as they wheel across the sky. Whereas common dragons (if any dragon can truly be said to be common) breathe flame, ice dragons supposedly breathe cold, a chill so terrible that it can freeze a man solid in half a heartbeat.

As ice dragons supposedly melt when slain, no actual proof of their existence has ever been found.

As you can see, these ice dragons are nothing like the wighted Viserion from the show. If wighted Viserion had “breathed cold” like the ice dragons of legend do, then obviously he wouldn’t have been able to knock down the Wall – he would have added to it, actually, if you think about it. Maybe ice dragons built the Wall in the first place, who knows. Now wighted Viserion is of course a dead fire dragon brought back to life by the Night King, as opposed to what’s being described here, which is a crystalline creature of living ice with translucent wings that melts completely when slain. That’s far more similar to an Other, except it’s a dragon, since the Others are also made of living ice crystal and melt completely when slain. 

These ice dragon accounts are presented as unreliable sailor’s stories by the maesters, but of course they may actually exist, and do in another short story by George called “the Ice Dragon,” which I highly recommend and which I’ve done a livestream about that you can find in the Others playlist. The ice dragon in that story exactly fits the description of the ice dragons from the ASOIAF legends, right down to the detail of being able to take on three fire dragons, so I for one have always tended to think the ice dragons are or were out there somewhere in the Heart of Winter – maybe Coldhands has seen one, if only we could ask him. And for what it’s worth, I tend to think of George’s ice dragon story as one of Old Nan’s ice dragon stories, since that’s apparently a thing; Jon twice describes the cold wind along the Wall as being “cold as the breath of the ice dragon in the tales Old Nan had told when Jon was a boy.” 

We don’t know if any hypothetical ice dragons would have been made by the Others, or if they’re just the native magical beasts of the Heart of Winter and the Shivering Sea, but if ice dragons do exist, then ice spiders could too. Unfortunately it’s hard to say with any more certainty than that, since we’ve never seen one. The six white walkers in the prologue were walking, or perhaps gliding through the wood, and the one Sam the Slayer slew – Ser Puddles, if you will – was riding a dead horse, not an ice spider. 

But perhaps we haven’t seen them yet because it simply isn’t time. Perhaps the ice spiders are for climbing the Wall when the Long Night falls in full – spiders are terrific climbers, after all. Consider Jon’s Azor Ahai dream from ADWD, as it seems to contain a clue about ice spiders climbing the Wall:

Burning shafts hissed upward, trailing tongues of fire. Scarecrow brothers tumbled down, black cloaks ablaze. “Snow,” an eagle cried, as foemen scuttled up the ice like spiders. Jon was armored in black ice, but his blade burned red in his fist. As the dead men reached the top of the Wall he sent them down to die again. 

Here it’s dead man somehow climbing the wall like spiders which sort of imply the presence of ice spiders without actually showing them, and shout out to Tomasz Kwiatkowski for his imaginative take on the ice spiders which depicts them as being made of corpses. Thanks for that Tomasz, that’s truly horrific nightmare fuel. In any case, this appears to be the shifting language of dream here, as Jon’s experiences of climbing the Wall, fighting the wildlings, and fighting ice wights all blur together, but there’s no question Martin wanted to, at the very least, inject the idea of ice spiders climbing up the Wall into the mind of the reader. 

That’s also the implication of a very cool foreshadowing scene that we can find at the end of ADWD, in Dany’s last chapter. Dany has just spent an uncomfortable night sleeping in the ruins of a tiny village out on the Dothraki grass sea, curled up in the minimal shelter of a broken bit of wall and haunted by astral projection dream messages from Quaithe. When she wakes, we read this:

The next morning she woke stiff and sore and aching, with ants crawling on her arms and legs and face. When she realized what they were, she kicked aside the stalks of dry brown grass that had served as her bed and blanket and struggled to her feet. She had bites all over her, little red bumps, itchy and inflamed. Where did all the ants come from? Dany brushed them from her arms and legs and belly. She ran a hand across her stubbly scalp where her hair had burned away, and felt more ants on her head, and one crawling down the back of her neck. She knocked them off and crushed them under her bare feet. There were so many …

It turned out that their anthill was on the other side of her wall. She wondered how the ants had managed to climb over it and find her. To them these tumbledown stones must loom as huge as the Wall of Westeros. The biggest wall in all the world, her brother Viserys used to say, as proud as if he’d built it himself.

As you can see, George also likes to use ants (and also bees) to symbolize the Others because the Others and wights seem to be operating as some sort of hive mind, very like an ant colony or beehive (which, yes, if the original Night’s Queen is the mother of the Others as I have suggested, then she’s a kind of hive queen). The broken down stone wall the ants climb over to get at Dany is directly compared to the ice Wall of Westeros, and thus we have the implication of the Others and their wights swarming over the Wall to attack Daenerys, or perhaps Westeros in general. And as I pointed out in the Born to Burn the Others video, we can take heart in the fact that Dany responds by crossing over the wall and bringing the fight to the attackers, shaking off the ants as if she were a huge dragon shaking off wights, and even crushing them beneath her feet as Drogon might stomp down the army of the dead. Note also that Quaithe has just finished whispering through the stars about fire and blood and Dany remembering that she’s a dragon; once again I will posit that’s Quaithe’s advice pertains to Dany becoming the dragon to fight the Others, not to conquer Westeros and burn Kings Landing, but check out my “Who is the Real Dany” video for that discussion.

The point here, however, is that the attack of the Others is represented by a swarm of insects climbing over the Wall, so when you take that with Jon’s dream of dead men “scuttling” up the ice like spiders, it could be that George is foreshadowing the eventual appearance of actual full blown ice spiders, climbing up and over the freaking Wall and scaring the living bejesus out of the poor Night’s Watchmen. Perhaps this is how the final pages of The Winds of Winter will leave us, with Dolorous Edd pissing himself at the sight of the giant ice spiders climbing up the Wall towards him and his brothers, and for once finding himself without a clever quip to lighten the mood. 

There’s an interesting clue about spiders and the Long Night to be found in the Lord of the Rings – in the Silmarillion, actually. Without going into great detail, at the beginning of the world, there is no sun and moon and stars, and the world is lit by two shining trees, Laurelin (the Gold Tree) and Telperion (the Silver Tree). The OG dark lord Melkor and a mysterious spider named Ungoliant plot to and succeed in killing the two trees of Valinor by having Ungoliant bite and suck the light from of trees, which causes the world to fall into darkness. Since we have found extensive Silmarillion influence on ASOIAF – shout-out to Blue Tiger and his Amber Compendium wordpress blog – it seems likely that this tale is not only one of the inspirations for Martin’s Long Night (and really both Martin and Tolkien are inspired by the Norse tale of Ragnarok and the Fimbulwinter), but potentially a clue about spiders being one of the primary monsters of the Long Night. Put it this way – if we ever see a Night’s King or even a white walker riding an ice spider during a new Long Night, it’s going to be obvious to Tolkien fans as a shout-out to Melkor and Ungoliant.

Alright, we’re at that point where the typical sort of analysis runs dry… which is of course where Mythical Astronomy kicks in. The ice spiders may or may not be real, but either way, they are definitely serving up several layers of very interesting symbolism and metaphor. I don’t see any reason for them not to be real, by the way – I mean, as a fantasy author, once you’ve dreamt up something as horrific as the ice spiders, why not bring them out when the story needs to get fully dark, right? But even if they do walk or crawl out of the north when the Long Night falls, they will also be walking symbols. Many important concepts in ASOIAF are like this; take Lightbringer for example, which is tied to various related concepts like flaming swords, fire-breathing dragons, bleeding stars that look like swords and dragons, and prophesied heroes who carry the blood of the dragon and may wield flaming swords and ride dragons. Lightbringer is all of these things: sword, dragon, comet, and person, and all of those things will be needed to bring light to the darkness of the Long Night. The ice spiders are no different, alluding to a number of concepts that all pertain to the Others and the weirwoods. 

First of all, as myth head and previous Mythical Astronomy guest Austin Flowers pointed out on Twitter, spiders can symbolize fear and fear of the unknown. Despite spiders being among the most useful of insects, many people have a kind of irrational, innate fear of them. They’re creepy-crawlies, right? On a thematic level, this fear functions as a very nice compliment to the concept of otherization that gives the Others their name, and which makes for one of the major themes of the book. We are supposed to compare the Others to the “otherized” wildlings and realize, as Jon Snow and Lord Commander Mormont did, that the wildlings are simply men trapped on the wrong side of a wall. Over the years, stories were told about the wildlings, fear was built up, and after a few centuries they became actual monsters in the minds of the Westerosi greenlanders. I won’t belabor the point since George spends a great deal of time on it throughout Jon’s story, but I did want to start off by talking about how the irrational fear conjured by spiders works in tandem with the concept of otherization and the irrational fear it entails. 

The fear of spiders isn’t entirely irrational of course, as many spiders are also poisonous. Poison is an incredibly powerful thing, both in practicality and in its effect on the human psyche, and it’s strongly associated with spiders. One little bite from a spider or other poisonous animal can cause you to take sick with fever, or ever die, if an antidote is not administered. Poison can even rot your body out from the inside, once its inside your bloodstream.

So in terms of psychology, poison is associated with concepts like infection, purity vs. contamination, and transformation. This fits the Others very well, because they don’t just kill you – they infect you with their ice magic and transform you into a ghastly walking corpse. When the Long Night falls, the cold and death of the Others will spread through Westeros like an infection, transforming and killing everything it touches, as if all of Westeros had been bitten by a giant ice spider and infected with cold poison. 

The Others themselves are also the victims of infection, if my theorizing about their connection to the weirwoodnet is anywhere close to the mark. This where I tell you that you’ll definitely want to watch the Weir Walkers video in tandem with this one if you haven’t already, as that’s where I lay out the basic s of the white walker / weirwood connection. The myth heads and I also developed these ideas further in the Creation of the Others and Origin of the Others streams, so check those out too, and all of these videos can be found in the Others playlist.

As I laid out in extensive detail, the Others are in many ways spelled out as exiled weirwood tree spirits who now walk the white wood looking for revenge. By “exiled weirwood spirits,” I mean that the Others seem to have started out as either the original spirits of the trees themselves, or the spirits of the original greenseers who had come to take up residence inside the astral realm of the weirwoods upon death. These first greenseers would have been children of the forest or green men, which is why the Others are written as angry elves, or icy aes sidhe as Martin calls them. They are forest guardians who have been deeply wronged, whose forest has been violated, poisoned, and forever altered – this is spelled out very well in the AGOT prolouge, where the Others do not reveal themselves until the Black Brothers lead by Ser Waymar have persisted in trespassing deep into the Haunted Forest of the Others. We’ll come back to this idea later in the video, so put a pin in that. And yes that’s a “pinning dead spiders for science” joke.

The next thing spiders are associated with is weaving. Spiders weave their webs with the silk they can produce, and humans in turn weave clothes out of silk – and for what it’s worth, although silkworms are the standard source for textile silk, spider silk can and has been used to make clothes, particularly the famous golden orb spider). The needle-like spinnerets and legs a spider spins and manipulates its webs with also resemble the humans hands and sewing needles humans weave silk with, so this is a basic association that humans have made all over the world. From here it’s also intuitive to link weaving to storytelling, with is a kind of web of words that weaves together to make a story, and believe me, Martin is working these ideas forward and backward. (Again, shout-out to Anansi the story spider, whose mythology is quite interesting, but seemingly not something George used in ASOIAF.)

One of the reason why Old Nan’s ice spider monologue is so viscerally terrifying, for example, and why the spiders themselves really stand out, is the way Martin incorporates these ideas of weaving, sewing, thread and needle into the scene. Bran is at first not interested in Old Nan’s stories, being put out at his inability to train in the yard with Robb and Rickon, but as Old Nan finds the right topic to ‘hook’ Bran’s interest – “So, child. This is the sort of story you like?” – she kicks into prime form:

Old Nan nodded. “In that darkness, the Others came for the first time,” she said as her needles went click click click. “They were cold things, dead things, that hated iron and fire and the touch of the sun, and every creature with hot blood in its veins. They swept over holdfasts and cities and kingdoms, felled heroes and armies by the score, riding their pale dead horses and leading hosts of the slain. All the swords of men could not stay their advance, and even maidens and suckling babes found no pity in them. They hunted the maids through frozen forests, and fed their dead servants on the flesh of human children.”

Old Nan’s cold, clicking needles are an integral part of her story-weaving, it seems; earlier in the Bran chapter it also says “Old Nan just lived on and on, doing her needlework and telling her stories.” And when Jon thinks back “on the tales that Old Nan used to tell them” during his first ranging north of the Wall, it says “He could almost hear her voice again, and the click-click-click of her needles. In that darkness, the Others came riding, she used to say, dropping her voice lower and lower.” The needle clicking also builds tension in Bran’s chapter leading up to the story, with repeated references punctuating the dialogue and leading up to this passage:

“I know a story about a boy who hated stories,” Old Nan said with her stupid little smile, her needles moving all the while, click click click, until Bran was ready to scream at her.

So by the time Old Nan weaves her way to the part about the Others stalking the last hero with “packs of pale white spiders big as hounds,” the cold, metallic sound of the skittering needles has already been playing in our minds for a few minutes, and easily transforms into the sound of skittering ice spiders and clicking mandibles. 

Of course when we talk about old Nans weaving stories, we must mention the Norns and Yggdrasil, especially because we know the weirwoods are largely modeled on Yggdrasil. The Norns live in a hall beneath Yggdrasil next to the “Well of Fate”, called Urðarbrunnr or the well of Urð, and it is from there that they weave the fates of men and gods with the click-click-click of their sewing needles. Usually the Norns are three in number, and in some tales there is an uncountable number of them, but they are placed even above the gods in Norse cosmology as even the gods are subject to the fates which the Norns weave. Their names tell the story; one bears a name similar to the well of Urð, which is Urðr, meaning “The Past” or “Fate” itself; the second is Verðandi, meaning “What Is Presently Coming into Being”) and the third is Skuld, which means “What Shall Be”. Past, Present, and Future, essentially – the stories they weave are not simply stories, but the story of humankind and the universe itself.

Old Nan’s stories aren’t just stories either – when Bran refers to them as “her stories,” it says “The old woman smiled at him toothlessly. ‘My stories? No, my little lord, not mine. The stories are, before me and after me, before you too.’ ” This is even more true because of the way Martin writes his stories – the events of the past concerning the last hero, Azor Ahai, and all the rest are set to be repeated or echoed in various ways by the main characters, sewing together past and future. Bran does journey into the cold dead lands in search of the children of the forest, just like the last hero, so we can see that Old Nan has effectively woven Bran into the stories he grew up on. This occurs to Bran himself, who calls to mind Old Nan’s stories when he reaches the Nightfort, when he hears of Coldhands and later meets him, and so on until Bran has fully awaken inside of a living story, one trending hard in the direction of “waking nightmare” but which will nevertheless afford him a chance to be the hero.

That’s all really cool, but what does storytelling have to do with the Others and the ice spiders? Should we expect the ice spiders to web up our heroes in ice, only to bust out a little bedtime story? Charlotte’s web, perhaps? I kid, but actually I should point out that the plot of Charlotte’s Web turns on a spider’s ability to tell a story about Wilbur the pig by writing words in its web, which means that the author, Garth Williams, had a good understanding of the mythical and symbolic connections of spiders, weaving, and storytelling.

So to put it simply, the link between the ice spiders and storytelling is the weirwoodnet, and the theory that the origins of the Others are rooted in the weirwoods. First we’ll talk about the weirwoods and spider symbolism in general, and then I’ll show you how that relates to the ice spiders and the Others. Now the reason we call it “the weirwoodnet” is because it functions very like the internet, a.k.a. the world wide web (that’s what the www stands for, ya youngsters!). The internet is a “place” without a physical location that is supported by a web of interconnected computers, each of which have servers that host some tiny corner of the internet. The weirwoodnet, similarly, is also a “place” without a physical location – an astral realm – that is supported by a web of interconnected weirwood trees. Just as the internet stores something close to the entire body of human knowledge and the entire history of the universe as we understand it, so to does the weirwoodnet. 

Besides modeling the weirwood network on the internet, George is also building a magic version of what happens in real forests around the world, where trees communicate with one another about predators, disease, and nutrients through fungal networks that populate the root zones of the trees. I’m going to make a separate video about mushroom symbolism and the weirwoods some time, but I’m hoping all of you are at least somewhat familiar with this concept. When we go down and down into the earth and the weirwood roots only grow thicker and more tangled, we are supposed to realize that the majority of the weirwood organism exists beneath the surface, like mushrooms, and that Martin is implying that the weirwoods may all connect to one another beneath Westeros, or at least parts of Westeros.

More importantly, we know the red-and-white, amanitas-mushroom-colored weirwoods are all connected in virtual space, and that’s the web that the greenseers sit at the middle of. A spider can move around its web with ease, and so to can the greenseers move through the vast repository of knowledge and history storied in the weirwoodnet web, and we see that Bran and Bloodraven can also move their magical sight throughout the physical world, monitoring events in realtime wherever they wish. Even though their physical bodies become trapped in the white weirwood roots, whose tendrils are compared to a spider web in a quote we’ll read momentarily, the greenseer’s consciousness is gifted with the ability to move freely through the weirwoodnet web. It’s almost like they are giving up their bodies as prey for the spider web in order to transform their spirits into the spider. In fact, it’s exactly like that. 

When I talk about spider webs being traps and about the webbing of the weirwood roots being a trap, obviously that’s very similar to the fishing weir and fishgarth ideas associated with the weirwoods – at least it is if you’ve watched the weir walkers video or the three-part Origins of the Green Men series. In brief, fishing weirs are lightweight wooden damn-like structures built across or into a river or stream which traps fish in its meshwork – again, just like the wooden roots of the weirwoods physically trap the bodies of the greenseers in their meshwork. Weir-woods, indeed! Furthermore, Bloodraven describes the weirwoods as sitting astride the “river of time,” being unmoved by its flow, and that’s exactly the description of a fishing weir.

To make maters worse, fishing weirs are also called fishgarths, which is funny for a couple of reasons. One, “garth” is also the word used to describe a central green area in a medieval castle or monastery, usually considered a sacred garden space which is designed for contemplation – and that’s exactly what a godswood is in ASOIAF, a central green area inside of a castle where people go to contemplate the gods. Two, Garth the Green was, according to myth, the first man in Westeros who planted weirwoods and is described exactly like the green men who guard the weirwoods on the Isle of Faces. Accordingly, I’ve speculated that Garth and the green men were the first greenseers who went into the weirwood trees, which allows me to construct the following ridiculous sentence: weirwoods are garth trees in garth gardens that function like fishgarths for garth the green and his garish gang of green brothers, who also wait at the center of their weirwoodnet web watching the world like spiders. With a thousand eyes and one, even, like a spider’s compound eye.

So now that you’re brushed up on all that, you can see how well the spider and web symbolism of the weirwoods fits oh-so-nicely with all the fishing weir and Garth stuff. I also want to emphasize the spying – as long a spider is touching its web, it can detect any contact a prey might make with the web. So too does the greenseer use the weirweb to monitor the world, as I mentioned, and George highlights this facet of spider symbolism with the character known as Varys the spider. Varys is what I call a “symbolic greenseer,” someone who serves as a symbolic proxy for a greenseer so George can sketch out some aspect of how their magic works. For example, Bloodraven lives in the dark passageways, tunnels, and chambers beneath the Red Keep and inside its wall, using a network of children as informants whom he calls “little birds.” Greenseers, meanwhile, live in caves with children and big birds – ravens – whom they use as informants, so the comparison pretty much makes itself. Varys is also a eunuch, which compares to Bran losing his fertility and then wedding the tree. Check out this passage about Varys from TWOIAF:

The Spider, as he soon became known to the smallfolk of his realm, used the crown’s gold to create a vast web of informers. For the rest of Aerys’s reign, he would crouch at the king’s side, whispering in his ear. 

Weaving a web of informers and information, and he’s even crouching like a spider! Varys wears silks too, so George is laying it on thick – or maybe laying it on thin, since we’re talking about silk here. Note that Varys is whispering in the kings ear, just as the greenseers communicate with whispers on the wind (Osha tells Bran the wind in the leaves of the weirwood is the whispering of the Old Gods, Theon hears the Winterfell weirwood whisper his name in Bran’s voice, and Robb’s “Battle in the Whispering Wood” is nothing but an elaborate metaphor depicting a struggle inside the weirwoodnet). 

The payoff line comes in ADWD, when Varys’s treason buddy Illyrio uses the web metaphor to describe the world that he and Varys seek to manipulate, saying “The world is one great web, and a man dare not touch a single strand lest all the others tremble.” In other words, Varys and Illyrio imagine themselves as the spiders who fashion the rules of the world – the web – and can therefore move about it unencumbered, above the rules of normal men. Their knowledge and connivances cannot rival the power that the greenseers have over the world, however, and for that matter, Bloodraven was playing and mastering the political game as Hand of the King long before he came to live in a weirwood cave. That also means George is using the character of Bloodraven to draw the link between political manipulators as spiders and greenseers as spiders, which is pretty awesome storytelling. 

Going further with greenseers as spiders – and this is going to bring us back to the ice spiders and Others, finally – let’s think about flying and riding for a moment. Bran’s surfing of the weirweb is described as flying, both in his coma dream and in his conversations with Bloodraven in the cave, and of course real spiders can also fly! After a fashion anyway – when necessary, some spiders can ride the wind, sometimes over tremendous distances. I sure hope ice spiders can’t do that! That would be terrifying. Climbing the Wall was bad enough! Is that what is meant by Martin once speaking of the Others “riding down on the Winds of Winter to extinguish all life?” Are the Others riding the cold winds with ice spiders? That’s going to be quite the invasion!

So, sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t think we will see flying ice spiders battling dragons in the sky – that would be more silly than scary. What I think Martin talking about when he writes of the Others riding down on the colds winds or riding on giant ice spiders is the idea that the Others are former greenseers, or we might even say, frozen or transformed greenseers. The wind communication and spider symbolism of the living greenseers become cold winds and ice spider symbolism when we speak of the Others. It’s their version of the same symbolism, and it’s a major clue that the Others are former greenseer who may still be able to access the weirwoodnet. 

To be more specific, I believe that the ice spiders that the Others “ride” are the frozen weirwood trees that the Others may be able to use. This becomes apparent when we consider the Norse mythology that lies behind the weirwood tree / greenseer relationship and the specific idea of a wizard using a magic tree to send his spirit flying through the cosmos.  

So as we were saying, when a greenseer uses the weirwood for astral projection, it’s essentially spirit-flying, and the paradox here is that even while the weirwood roots hold you immobile, the trees allow your spirit to travel through time and space. This is modeled directly on Odin’s ability to use Yggdrasil to travel throughout the cosmos, with Yggdrasil translating to “Odin’s horse.” In other words, the wizard Odin rides the tree like a horse through time and space. Yggdrasil is an example of the “cosmic world tree” mytheme, so mastery of this sort of tree makes one the master of the cosmos, which Odin is. 

The idea of Yggdrasil as Odin’s horse is more than that though, for a couple reasons. First, Odin has to hang himself on the branches of the sacred tree for nine days and nights before transcending death and gaining the power of the runes, making the Yggdrasil Odin’s gallows tree – and in days of yore, the gallows were called “the horse of the hanged,” as the hanged man was seen to be riding the gallows into death. Thus, Yggdrasil is Odin’s horse because it is his gallows.

Secondly, it turns out that the “shamanic horse” is itself a classic mytheme that can be found all across northern Europe and Asia, from Norse and Germanic cultures to northern Siberian cultures such as the Tungus people from whom the word “shaman” comes (hat-tip Mircea Eliade). It seems that even before this idea manifested in Norse mythology as Odin riding a magic tree which was a gallows horse, there was a notion that the rhythmic beating of the drums that were played during shamanic rituals were the hoofbeats of an invisible horse that the shaman was riding into the spirit world. That’s probably why the Odin / Yggdrasil myth is constructed the way it is; it seems like the myth makers chose to emphasize the idea of shamanic astral travel as “horse riding” by having Odin gain magic by “riding” the cosmic world tree as his gallows tree, which is a different kind of horse. This choice also emphasizes the idea that the spirit flight of the shaman is a journey beyond the veil of life and death, since Odin’s “horse riding” actually kills him. 

Here’s the thing though: the Norse myth-makers did not forget the original spirit horse idea, as we see it expressed in another of Odin’s stories, and another of Odin’s horses. That would be Sleipnir, the “best of all horses,” who is described as a pale grey or white eight legged horse which Odin can use to ride to any of the nine worlds of the Norse cosmos. But of course the nine realms are all anchored to Yggdrasil, the world tree, and gaining mastery over Yggdrasil is what makes Odin the lord of the cosmos, so it’s pretty easy to see that Odin’s two astral projection horses, Yggdrasil and the eight legged Sleipnir, are just two symbolic illustrations of the same concept.

Oh shit, did I just say “eight legged horse?” Eight legged, like a spider? And pale grey or white, like the giant white ice spiders? And did I just say that Odin’s tree and his eight-legged “spider horse” actually represent the same thing, which is astral travel?

And didn’t I say a few moments ago that the ice spiders represent the weirwoods trees that the Others can still use, and that when Martin talks about the Others “riding ice spiders,” he really means that they can “ride” the weirwoods, just as the greenseers can? Just as Odin rides both his tree and eight legged horse to do astral travel? 

To make matters worse, George does in fact use Odin symbolism and mythology to create his own Night’s King archetype, which strengthens the idea of the ice spiders being the Sleipnir of the Others, and that ice spiders are code for frozen weirwoods. You can get the full story on this in the videos “A New Night’s King?”, but the basic idea is that just as George has several characters “play the role” of a leader of the Others figure through symbolism, just as he has many people “play the role” of Azor Ahai by carrying around flaming swords, people such as Beric, Stannis, or Jon. The point of this sort of symbolic parallelism is to inform us about the true nature of the figure being echoed – Azor Ahai or the original Night’s King or whomever else. That’s what transforms these mythic figures into archetypes, and the Night’s King archetype seems to be that of a frozen greenseer, an icy Odin-like wizard.

One of the ways this is signified is by having the Night’s King role-players always end up with one blue eye – that’s an echo of Odin sacrificing one of his eyes to drink from the magical will of Mimir, which lies beneath Yggdrasil. We’ve already seen George use that symbolism to let us know that Azor Ahai was an Odin-like tree shaman, meaning a greenseer; first he created the one-eyed and hanged Beric as a symbolic “Azor Ahai in a weirwood cave” who sits in a weirwood nest and wields a flaming sword, and then when he showed us a greenseer, Bloodraven, he turned out to be a one-eyed dragon person with more than 10 symbolic parallels to Beric, who again wields a flaming sword and is thus an obvious Azor Ahai figure. Then I noticed that Jon has one eye wound too, as well as a weirwood-colored wolf, the blood of the dragon, and a dream of a flaming sword, so you can see what I mean – George is using Odin symbolism to show us that Azor Ahai the dragonlord was also a greenseer.

It’s just the same with the Night’s King figures, but translated to the symbolism of ice instead of fire. Waymar Royce becomes wighted and was left with one shining blue star eye, the other having been put out, Euron has one glittering blue “smiling eye” and one “blood eye” he keeps hidden behind an eye-patch, and Aemond One-Eye Targaryen replaces his wounded eye with a blue star sapphire. All three characters have one eye sacrificed or bloodied, and one blue eye that sparkles or glitters – these characters have now symbolically gained the blue star eye magic of the Others, just as Odin gained the magic of the well of Mimir when he lost his eye. All of these characters also have a ton of other symbolism that implies them as playing the role of leader of the Others, which again you can find out about in the “A New Night’s King” video, and that simply means that the leader of the Others should be an Odin figure, a kind of icy opposite to the greenseers like Bran and Bloodraven. This makes sense, since the Others themselves are implied as frozen greenseers – of course their commander would be a frozen Odin figure. 

That’s why I look at the eight-legged ice spiders and think, “that’s the Others version of Sleipnir.” But Sleipnir really represents astral projection, so if the Others are “riding Sleipnir,” that means they’re doing greenseer magic. And since the greenseers “ride” the weirwoods like Odin rode his tree-horse, I have to wonder if this talk of the Others “riding” their Sleipnir-like ice spiders isn’t just code for “riding frozen weirwood trees,” whether or not real ice spiders exist. After all, we know the Others ride dead, ice-wighted horses, but a dead, ice wighted horse can also function as a symbol for riding frozen weirwoods, since the weirwood is the horse of the greenseer. 

This is where the idea of the weirwoodnet being a “web” comes up again. It’s a web that the greenseers can use to move around… but the spiders the Others use to move around are made of ice, which implies their “web” is frozen. You need to ride ice spiders to move around a frozen web – I hope you can see the implications here. The Others may be still be able to use the weirwoods, but probably only after they have “frozen” them with their ice magic somehow, or perhaps after the Long Night falls for real and all of Westeros is frozen over. 

If I’m brutally honest, the original brain wave for this “ice spiders are frozen weirwoods” theory came while watching the HBO show. I know, I know, but the scenes depicting Bran watching the creation of the Night King at a weirwood tree and then later being contacted by the Night King inside the wwnet in front of that same weirwood tree really helped me connect some ideas I had lying around. Myself and many others in the fandom had long been talking about the Others being connected to the children of the forest and the weirwoods, so seeing the children make the Night King with a weirwood tree as the backdrop made a lot of sense as a simplified version of what we thought the book truth might be. The idea of the white walkers being able to access the weirwoodnet pretty much flows from the idea that they used to be greenseers or children or were made by them, so seeing the Night King be able to reach Bran inside the weirwoodnet essentially made me go “yep, that’s right.” But then I saw that frozen and dead Night King weirwood tree and it suddenly struck me: “that looks like a big damn frozen spider.”

Have a look, and see for yourself: a frozen tree whose branches are weighed down by snow and ice to the point of reaching the ground looks like a huge damn ice spider. Perhaps that’s why George Martin gave us this passage from ADWD  which draws the same picture, and this is the scene where Coldhands is trying to help Bran and company reach the mouth of Bloodraven’s cave:

Shadows stretched against the hillside, black and hungry. All the trees were bowed and twisted by the weight of ice they carried. Some hardly looked like trees at all. Buried from root to crown in frozen snow, they huddled on the hill like giants, monstrous and misshapen creatures hunched against the icy wind. “They are here.” The ranger drew his longsword.

Frozen trees weighed down by snow hardly look like trees at all, but instead like giant white misshapen monsters, huddling and hunching like… well, like a huge white ice spider. Right after that, Coldhands says “they are here,” specifically referring to the Others, whom he goes on to describe as going lightly on the snow so as to leave no footprints, a hint at their partial insubstantiality. The deeper meaning of the world tree symbol is also hinted at here, which would be the human spine and nervous system – the trees are buried “root to crown,” which are the bottom and top chakras, with the root chakra being positioned at bottom of the spine and the crown chakra just above the head. George Martin is an old hippie, I keep trying to tell y’all this. This language simultaneously implies the tree as person, having chakras like a person, but also that the entire world can be transformed with ice, since this is a world tree that represents the whole world or even the entire universe.

That’s actually the true terror of the ice spider as frozen tree – it represents the freezing of the world. One thinks of the poison symbolism of the spider here, and the idea that the cold and death of the Others will spread through Westeros is like an infection from a giant ice-spider bite. It may be that the weirwoods are the key to them being able to do this – perhaps their objective is to reach the Isle of Faces, which seems like the central hub of the weirwoodnet web. Perhaps if they reach those trees and freeze them, it’s game over. Again I will mention the Ungoliant-biting-the-trees parallel from the Silmarillion, as that’s kind of what this scenario sounds like.

Anyway, it’s only a few pages later that Bran is being carried through the tunnels of Bloodraven’s cave, and we read of the spiderweb-like roots of the weirwood:

The way was cramped and twisty, and so low that Hodor soon was crouching. Bran hunched down as best he could, but even so, the top of his head was soon scraping and bumping against the ceiling. Loose dirt crumbled at each touch and dribbled down into his eyes and hair, and once he smacked his brow on a thick white root growing from the tunnel wall, with tendrils hanging from it and spiderwebs between its fingers.

So the weirwood roots have “spiderwebs between its fingers,” as if it were weaving a web! Again I think of Old Nan as a Norn weaving Bran into the stories, and more importantly, the weirwood tree is the spider here, with spider webs between its fingers reaching out to ensnare young Brandon as he hits his head on the ceiling. This strengthens the conclusion that the monstrous snow covered trees outside have something to do with ice spiders – namely, that the ice spiders legend is told in part to communicate that the Others can ride the weirwood trees, in some sort of icy way. 

Then we have the fact that George has Tyrion recall the Winterfell heart tree as “standing like some pale giant frozen in time.” Pale frozen giant tree, pale frozen giant spider? Along the same lines, we have the frozen weirwood tree at Crofter’s village that Stannis is encamped at, awaiting the battle with the Boltons outside Winterfell. It says “the crofter’s village stood between two lakes, the larger dotted with small wooded islands that punched up through the ice like the frozen fists of some drowned giant. From one such island rose a weirwood gnarled and ancient, its bole and branches white as the surrounding snows.” So this time we have a snow-white weirwood tree, and its punching from the frozen lake – another major symbol of the Others – like the fists of a huge frozen giant. Huge frozen giant… ice spider?

I’m having fun with this, but it really does make sense – if the Others can access the weirwoodnet, then they would be riding the weirwoods, and the weirwoods have a metric ton of spider symbolism, as you’ve seen. The Others seem to prefer frozen weirwoods, and frozen weirwoods look like giant ice spiders. Feel free to deny the truth, but it’s staring you in the face… with hundreds of frozen eyes. And that’s no joke – spiders have compound eyes, which means hundreds of small eyes that comprise a bigger one, and the weirwood network functions the same way, with hundred of trees with eyes making up one composite eye which the greenseers can watch though. A thousand eyes and one, as they say – it’s a damn spider eye. Remember, the weirwoods are called watchers – but the white walkers are called watchers too, twice in the AGOT prologue.

Perhaps this is why Qhorin Halfhand and Lord Commander Mormont use the expression “the trees have eyes again” to describe the potential threat of the Others. Speaking to Jon in the Frostfangs, Qhorin says “The cold winds are rising. Mormont feared as much. Benjen Stark felt it as well. Dead men walk and the trees have eyes again.” Then, after Jon has his first warg experience in front of Qhorin and the other rangers, Qhorin commands Stonesnake to make for Lord Commander Mormont at the FIst of the First Men, saying “Tell Mormont what Jon saw, and how. Tell him that the old powers are waking, that he faces giants and wargs and worse. Tell him that the trees have eyes again.” These seasoned rangers of the Night’s Watch are not referring to the children of the forests when they speak ominously of “the trees having eyes” in the same breath as “dead men walking” and things “worse” than giants and wargs. There is some sort of known association between the eyes in the trees and the Others among the First Men that Benjen, Mormont, and the Halfhand are referring to, and so once again we are left thinking that the white walkers can watch through the weirwoods. 

This also seems to be the message sent by the symbolism of the weirwood “moon door” in the Eyrie. The Eyrie is basically a symbolic Others ice temple, with “a forbidding coldness to its walls of blue-veined white marble” that remind us of the blue blood of the Others and which Sansa describes as “honeycomb made of ice, a castle made of snow.” The pillars that line the High Hall and flank the weirwood Moon Door around are a natural tree symbol, and Sansa compares them to slim lances, which are made of wood, and then later to finger bones, which reminds us of the bone-white bark of the weirwood and the white bone hands of the Other that Sam melts with dragonglass. There are weirwood thrones here, which makes us think of greenseers, and Bran’s cousin even sits on one! Once you notice all the Others symbolism in the room – and Lysa’s Night’s Queen symbolism, but that’s a tale for another day – the weirwood thrones seem like a pretty obvious clue that the white walkers are greenseers, or used to be greenseers. That there is some kind of greenseer-rival deep in the heart  of Winter, or perhaps inside the weirwoodnet somewhere. We could even compare these dead weirwood thrones to the idea of the Others riding dead horses, meaning dead Yggdrasils, which is to say dead or frozen weirwoods. 

So here’s the crux of it: when Lysa has her blue-cloaked guardsmen open the Moon Door at Tyrion’s trial, it appears the Others are waiting and watching! it says “One man removed the heavy bronze bars; the second pulled the door inward. Their blue cloaks rose snapping from their shoulders, caught in the sudden gust of wind that came howling through the open door. Beyond was the emptiness of the night sky, speckled with cold uncaring stars.” Once we’ve identified the Others imagery – the cold uncaring stars and the cold wind howling – the important thing to notice is that this is all kept behind the weirwood door. The implications are the same as what we’ve said earlier: the Others come from the weirwood. The Others are watching us through the weirwoods. 

But what about the fact that this weirwood the Others are watching through… is a door?

So yes, most terrifyingly, the Others may be able to use the weirwoods as a door, meaning, to travel. If they are supposed to “ride” into Westeros on the ice spiders, but the ice spiders are weirwoods… is it possible that when the Long Night falls, white walkers might start crawling out of weirwoods trees in a godswood near you? Or perhaps the Others can use a weirwood tree for astral travel only after they have physically reached one and frozen it over? 

Let’s have a look now at the mother of all frozen weirwood quotes, which I always like to describe as “a weirwood tree cosplaying a white walker”:

Outside, the night was white as death; pale thin clouds danced attendance on a silver moon, while a thousand stars watched coldly. He could see the humped shapes of other huts buried beneath drifts of snow, and beyond them the pale shadow of a weirwood armored in ice. 

As you can see, the weirwood is “armored in ice,” just as the Others wear ice armor, and it’s called “a pale shadow,” with the Others being many, many times referred to as pale shadows or white shadows. Like I said, a weirwood dressed up like a white walker.

A moment later, we see the idea of the frozen weirwood as a frozen world tree when it says “Below, the world had turned to ice. Fingers of frost crept slowly up the weirwood, reaching out for each other. The empty village was no longer empty. Blue-eyed shadows walked amongst the mounds of snow.” So when the weirwood freezes, the world freezes, and that’s when the Others and the army of the dead appear – the implication seems to be that the Others will take over the weirwoodnet when the Long Night falls.  Even worse, it almost sounds like they are crawling out of the seams in the bark of the weirwood tree when it says “fingers of frost crept slowly up the weirwood, reaching out for each other.” As if the frozen weirwood were a door that they can white-walk right out of. 

When we look up into the sky above the frozen weirwood tree, we find more clues that the Others can indeed use the weirwood for astral projection. We see “a thousand stars watching coldly,” just like we saw behind the moon door, and once again I’ll say “hey that kind of looks like the eyes of a huge ice spider, as tall as the sky and big enough to bite all of Westeros.” It’s not just the cold star eyes of the Others up there though, as Martin has give them bodies too with the “pale thin clouds dancing” by the silver moon – the Others, whose bodies are described as pale, tall, and gaunt, very like the pale thin clouds, are said to “dance” with Ser Waymar when they fight him. Ergo, it seems as though the author has painted a portrait of the Others flying through the sky above their frozen tree – it’s weirwood astral projection, but the weirwood is frozen. It even says “the night was white as death” – but think instead of a knight white as death, which is an Other, who has ice armor and weapons and a horse to ride, just like a real knight. This white death knight is riding a frozen tree though, and up into the sky, and that’s just a cold version of Odin and Yggdrasil, or Odin and Sleipnir, depending on if you want to see the frozen weirwood as a tree-horse or an eight-legged spider horse. Either one implies that the Others can still access the magic of weirwoods, again, perhaps after freezing them or after the Long Night falls and freezes everything. 

This is where the partial insubstantiality comes in. The greenseers, like Odin, can use the weirwood horse for astral travel – their bodies stay put, in other words, and only their spirits roam. They can however jump into the body of an animal and thereby take instant action anywhere in the world, theoretically, just as the Others seem to be able to remotely animate and pilot dead corpses. But the Others are different from the greenseers in that their bodies are not entirely solid, so what if, once it’s winter everywhere, they can simply reconstitute their icy body from the cold mists in front of the weirwood they want to travel to? Is this point of all the ghost-like shadow imagery used to describe them?

So when I say they are partially insubstantial, it starts with the ‘no footprints on the snow’ thing, but there’s more than that. The Night’s Watch records that Sam finds say that the Others can “appear during snowstorms and melt away when the skies clear,” so perhaps they don’t only melt on death, but can sort of sublimate into mist form and back again when they want to. That’s what it sounds like Tormund is talking about when he speaks to Jon about the walkers in ADWD; he describes them as white mists rising up and asks Jon “how do you fight a mist?” And then, building on the white shadow and pale shadow language, he describes the Others as “shadows with teeth” and asks Jon “can your sword cut cold?” He also says this:

“They’re never far, you know. They won’t come out by day, not when that old sun’s shining, but don’t think that means they went away. Shadows never go away. Might be you don’t see them, but they’re always clinging to your heels.”

Similarly, Coldhands senses their presence without seeing them outside Bloodraven’s cave, Bran points out the lack of footprints on the fresh, unbroken snow and says “No one’s here,” and that’s when Coldhands points out that the Others leave no footprints, and are therefore still “close.” 

So the question becomes, where do the white walkers go during the day? Tormund and Coldhands both say they’re still ‘around,’ even if you can’t see them, so they are implied as just sort of existing without a material presence. I have a hard time picturing them hiding out in caves, playing cards or whatever to pass the time until sunset – it makes more sense to think about their spirits returning to the weirwood trees during the day, residing in the weirwood astral realm. That means that during the day, the walkers are kind of everywhere and nowhere, which is exactly how Tormund and Coldhands speak of them.

This would make sense of the symbolism we’ve just seen that shows the Others watching from the weirwoods and emerging from the weirwoods. I’ve always thought of this as their origin story – that they are greenseer spirits driven out of the trees – but at this point I think it’s also suggesting that they retain a connection to the white trees, and can use them to “ride down” on the lands of the living. Think about this: the Others supposedly “hunted the maids through the frozen forests,” and “came silent on the trail” of the last hero, “stalking him with packs of pale white spiders big as hounds” – but this isn’t at all how spiders behave. They don’t go out on the hunt – they lie in wait by their webs. They don’t move in packs, and they don’t swarm, save for when all the little baby spiders hatch and scatter. Perhaps fantasy ice spiders can do whatever the author wishes – shout-out to those hyper aggressive Mandolorian cave ice spiders, by the way – but perhaps the Others actually “hunt” people by using the weirwoods to watch, and then as portals to strike, and this is how they “stalk” and “hunt” with ice spiders. “They hunted.. through the frozen forests,” as in “the frozen weirwoods were the thing they used to hunt people.” 

Now, why would the First Men – Bran the Builder, especially – build castles around weirwoods if the white walkers can use them as teleportation hubs? After the Pact, the First Men were close to the children, and some of them, like the ancient Stark Kings, would have been skinchangers and greenseers, so wouldn’t they have known better? Bran the Builder was taught the language of the children of the forest, so he at least should know better. Well, what if the purpose o fall this was to contain the Others inside the trees, like a labyrinth for a minotaur? Is this why Winterfell is described as a “huge stone maze?” Is that why there must always be a Stark in Winterfell, and why there seems to be a huge snowstorm emanating from Winterfell now that no Stark is home? Are the weirwoods like seals to the Other’s prison that have to be maintained with blood sacrifice, and is that why the First Men have kept up a tradition of offering blood sacrifice to the heart trees from the time of the Long Night? 

Is that why, in the very first scene in the Winterfell godswood, the author implies that the weirwoods have something to do with the invasion of the Others?

Ned saw the dread on her face. “Mance Rayder is nothing for us to fear.”

“There are darker things beyond the Wall.” She glanced behind her at the heart tree, the pale bark and red eyes, watching, listening, thinking its long slow thoughts.

His smile was gentle. “You listen to too many of Old Nan’s stories. The Others are as dead as the children of the forest, gone eight thousand years. Maester Luwin will tell you they never lived at all. No living man has ever seen one.”

Ned has in fact just executed the last living man to see a white walker – that’s his blood there on the blade that Ned is cleaning in the pond before the weirwood, thereby offering his blood to the tree. While this ritual is taking place, Catelyn is speaking of darker things beyond the Wall and turning her head to look back at the heart tree – and Ned knows she is talking about the Others. So once again, I have to pose the question – are the heart trees the keys to the white walkers invasion of Westeros? Are the blood offerings the key to keeping them satiated? Perhaps it’s not only Craster’s baby sacrifices keeping them tided over, but all the blood offered to the trees. And hey – the weirwood trees drink blood guys… like a spider. Womp Womp. “Just look at all those little First Men, offering themselves up before the giant spider, all unknowing.” Perhaps it’s a case of “give the spider a blood offering, or it eats you.”

So again, if the Others can use the weirwoods against the First Men, then why did the first First Men built castles around the heart trees and ward them with spells instead of cutting them all down or burning them? A couple of possibilities leap to mind. Perhaps because the First Men kings were greenseers and skinchangers, they didn’t want to lose the power of the weirwoods for themselves, and so they warded them and monopolized them instead of cutting them down. Perhaps they needed to keep the weirwoods for the sake of the children of the forest, who saved the humans’ bacon during the Long Night, because the children still needed the weirwoods, and / or because the weirwoods contained the the spirits of the children’s ancestors, or the children’s hope at having an afterlife, or something along those lines.

Or perhaps they thought the weirwoods to be “cleansed” of white walkers, only for their descendants to find out they were wrong. Perhaps they built a “wall” of some sort inside the weirwoodnet, imprisoning the Others in the cold and dead half, only for that damn to break when the Wall does, when the Long Night falls. Check out the Signs and Portals podcast playlist, as there are some clues that this is perhaps the best way to understand what has happened to the weirwoodnet. 

Some people think the original Long Night was only ended with some sort of pact or truce with the Others, so perhaps not cutting down the last heart trees were a part of that agreement. The First Men did cut down weirwoods for a long time, so perhaps that was part of the problem that brought about the scourge of the Others in the first place. In ADWD, while in the weirwood-threaded Wolfswood outside Deepwood Motte, Asha Greyjoy does recount a memory of “a tale she had heard as a child, about the children of the forest and their battles with the First Men, when the greenseers turned the trees to warriors,” which sounds like a version of the creation of the Others from weirwood trees as a way of protecting the weirwood trees. Whatever is going on with the weirwoods, the greenseers, and the white walkers, it surely goes back to the mystery of their creation. This is where our story ends for today, but you can hear what I have to say about white walker creation in the videos I mentioned earlier – Weir Walkers, Origin of the Others: Night’s Queen, and Night’s King Azor Ahai – and if you want to get the real hard-core, uncut myth, then check out the entire Weirwood Compendium podcast playlist. Once you finish the Weirwood Compendium, you’re officially an OG myth head. 

I look forward to hearing your comments on these ideas, and to developing them further on a future livestream, so let me know in the comments below and make sure you’re subscribed to the channel, with the notification bell set to all, so you never miss a Starry Wisdom Sunday. They’re always at 3pm PT, but the reminder helps, and since I am (full disclosure) a full-time YouTuber with ADHD, I occasionally stream at random times. Thanks to all of my patrons of the starry host – check out the link in the description below to join – and thanks to all my YouTube channel member squishers. You too can become a channel member, with a cool squisher icon and you name in green, by clicking the join button below, right next to the subscribe button; squishers also get access to custom emojis that I’ve made and one free superchat per month. Thanks most of all to George R. R. Martin, and thanks to all of you for watching!

One thought on “Ice Spiders

  1. I see the others visiting the lair of a great ice spider, and afterward drowning a wriggling sack, which is later, in battle, drawn forth cold and lifeless … until magically reanimimated, when hundreds of frozen dead baby spiders emerge to search every nook and cranny, and flush out terrified living souls.


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