A Song of Symbol and Myth

The central hypothesis of the mythical astronomy theory is that many of the ancient legends of Westeros and the rest of the “Planetos” are actually telling us about a world-shaping global cataclysm – the Long Night – through the use of symbolism and metaphor. This is consistent with real-world mythology, which is quite often based on observation of the heavens and the cycles and characteristics of nature.

But it’s not just the ancient legends of A Song of Ice and Fire that tell the story of the Long Night and the War for the Dawn – George has cleverly paralleled the ancient myths with all of the most important and vivid scenes in the main story. Jon and Daenerys may perform deeds which parallel those of Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa, but that’s only the beginning – Robert and Renly Baratheon are modern versions of Garth the Green, and more than a few characters show parallels to the Night’s King and Queen, just to name a few examples. The bread and butter of the Mythical Astronomy podcast is comparing the various legends and myths to the characters in the main story and their symbolism, and by doing so, we can discover many exciting scenes which contain metaphorical references to the Long Night events.

George R. R. Martin chooses his descriptive language with the utmost intention, and the reoccurring turns of phrase that we find throughout the books create a tapestry of symbolism which is remarkably consistent and highly meaningful. For me, it all started coming together when I noticed that the moon cracks in both the Azor Ahai story and the Qarthine “origin of dragons” story…

For a more thorough discussion of George’s use of symbol, metaphor, and esoterism in ASOIAF, click the ‘methodology’ tab above.  Otherwise, just dive on in to the first essay, or you can listen to the podcast version wherever podcasts are found, or you can watch on YouTube (the YouTube versions are embedded at the top of the page of each essay). To be notified when a new essay and podcast are released, please follow the blog here on WordPress or subscribe to Mythical Astronomy of Ice and Fire on iTunes. The podcast RSS feed can be found here.

NEW! White Walkers of the Weirwoods

I’ve mentioned this theory in passing many many times, and now it gets a proper (dare I say ‘definitive’) write-up; this is my best presentation of the evidence that the white walkers come from the weirwoods than I can make. Bonus cameo by the green men 🙂

Garth the Green Man

Who are the green men? Why should anyone care (meaning what do they have to do with the main story)? What does this have to do with the origins of the greenseers and the weirwoods? What secrets does the Isle of Faces hold? Get ready to have you mind blown by the clever folkloric connections between Garth, the weirwoods, and the greenseers. This is some of George’s finest world-building and re-purposing of real world myth anywhere in the series.

The Doom Was an Abolition

In “The Doom was an Inside Job,” I proposed that Aenar Targaryen worked with the Faceless Men to cause the Doom of Valyria, that fiery cataclysm which brought the five thousand year-old Valyrian Empire to a sudden and violent end. The question now is why? Why did Aenar help to cause the destruction of his own nation, the effective genocide of his own people? I think I have the answer…

Shamanic Thunder Horse (Weirwood Compendium 9)

Astral Projection! Weirwoods! Dunk and Egg! Sleipnir and Yggdrasil! It’s all here in Weirwood Compendium 9!

The Others
White Walkers of the Weirwoods
Dawn is the Original Ice: the Last Hero
Dawn is the Original Ice: the Pale Sword
Symbolism of the Others: the Kingsguard
Origin of the Others: Night’s Queen
Night’s King Azor Ahai
A New Night’s King?
Euron, King of the Apocalypse
Night’s King Crowseye
Born to Burn the Others
Lord Snow
Promised to the Others

Great Empire of the Dawn
Dragonlords of Ancient Asshai
Origins of the Dothraki

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

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
Shamanic Thunder Horse
The Stallion Who Mounts The World

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

LmL on Facebook

Now in PODCAST form!

Click to open in iTunes

• Tolkienic Song of I&F
• Echoes of I&F
• Plowman’s Keep
• Blue Winter Roses
• Pawn to Player
• Weirwood Leviathan
• Culture Wars of I&F

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featured on DiscoveryNews.com

319 thoughts on “A Song of Symbol and Myth

  1. I just listened to Moons of Ice and Fire and had a thought.

    You mentioned the possibility of a new comet collision or meteor shower breaking off the current ice moon. In Bran’s first dream, there is some imagery that makes me think of this.

    “Finally he looked north. He saw the Wall shining like blue crystal, and his bastard brother Jon sleeping alone in a cold bed, his skin growing pale and hard as the memory of all warmth fled from him. And he looked past the Wall, past endless forests cloaked in snow, past the frozen shore and the great blue-white rivers of ice and the dead plains where nothing grew or lived. North and north, and north he looked, to the curtain of light at the end of the world, and then beyond that curtain. He looked deep into the heart of winter, and then he cried out, afraid, and the heat of his tears burned on his cheeks. Now you know, the crow whispered as it sat on his shoulder. Now you know why you must live. ‘Why?’ Brain said, not understanding, falling, falling. Because winter is coming.”

    Bran saw some pretty scary things in his dream including dragons, but it was staring into the heart of winter that caused him to scream.

    I’ve seen theories that the curtain of light might be an aurora. Might not Bran’s vision have taken him past the aurora into space itself? After all, the Ice Dragon constellation is north. Could he have been given a glimpse of a comet already approaching? Not only is an impending comet/meteor impact scary, but a vision into space would cause existential fear.

    Winter is coming, the crow said. Perhaps winter was physically coming in the form of that comet that will cause the second long night. The push by different forces to combat the Others by bringing back dragons and Azor Ahai reborn might be a reaction to this already-occurring celestial event.

    I don’t know if anyone else has had this interpretation of the last part of Bran’s dream. Thought I’d toss this idea out to you along with a thanks for the show.


  2. Hello, I’ve enjoyed your posts very much. I like to research and study Post Roman Britain and Arthurian history and I have stumbled upon what I think is the origin or muse for A Song Of Ice And Fire. The Voyage Of Bran. You can get a good PDF translation from https://www.yorku.ca and it is only twelve pages long or you can just google it. Wiki has a good description that will also lead you other things. Take care and have fun. Please let me know what you find. Thanks


  3. Hey I was watching your winds of winter predictions specifically the Hightower video and was wondering if you noticed the similarities between Old Town and Alexandria. Both cities have an Egyptian theme with sphinx, you have the library of Alexandria and the library of the citadel, plus the light house of Alexandria was considered one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world with a fire that always burn atop it, very similar to the Hightower.


  4. Happy New! First of all, thank you for all of the brilliant content – and effort – and dedication. I can imagine that there are many, like me, who you might not see lurking in the shadows (this is my first time posting), but who nonetheless delight in your ideas and storytelling. Second, I wondered if I might try bouncing an idea back your way? It is related to your central thesis: that myth uses story and symbol and archetype to describe natural phenomena. In Hawaiian history (I’m Hawaiian) we didn’t unlock writing until the early 1800s. So, for thousands of years we relied on an unbroken chain of oral tradition to effectively preserve our cultural wikipedia. If even one generation forgot a detail, then that detail would be lost – or would need to be rediscovered. (It kind of makes you appreciate writing, doesn’t it?) I’m sorry if this sounds immodest, but ancient Hawaiians were bad-ass scientists. For anyone chafing at the idea that non-modern peoples could be scientific, I mean: (1) they observed the natural world closely, (2) they formed theories of how the world works, and (3) they tested those theories by running experiments. One experiment – replicated many times – was to voyage thousands of miles across the Pacific in canoes, without compass or pocket-watch or astrolabe, landing with remarkable precision and accuracy on relatively small islands. (I won’t belabour the point, but surely the colonisation of every inhabitable island in the largest ocean on Earth – using only “stone-age” materials – should count as one of our crowning achievements as a species so far.) But here’s the problem: how do you communicate such knowledge across the generations? Today we write things down. Writing is great: it’s basically lossless and doesn’t need compression. But as anyone who’s played “telephone” knows, oral communication is different. Words are wind: they are transient and easily lose their shape. This is all a prelude to suggest that myth provides a way of solving the communication problem. One more example: Hawai’i is volcanic. I grew up hearing stories about the volcano goddess and her siblings. Each character in the stories has symbolic forms: for instance, an older brother appears in a story as a shark; a younger sister is associated with specific ferns. These are great stories – worth telling on their own merits! So, it wasn’t until I was an adult that received the codec. Here is how you decode the stories. When the volcano goddess appears, she represents an eruption. When an older sibling appears, they represent something that happens before an eruption – and, when a younger sibling appears, they represent something that happens after an eruption. Now, if I see a shark doing the kind of things that the older brother does in the story, I take that as evidence of an impending eruption. If I see the specific fern somewhere, I infer that – because of the order of that sister in the family – an eruption has happened there with a certain recency. (So I might not build a house or village there.) Pretty cool right? And that’s just the tip of the volcanic island poking out of the ocean… As your videos demonstrate, stories are fun to hear, and fun to tell. And we are more likely to transmit knowledge if it’s packaged in an entertaining way. One thing symbols do is to let us layer meanings in controlled ways. Once you know how to decode the symbols, you can decompress a story into things like empirical observations about eruptions (or comets, long nights, etc). That might be one explanation for why we use myth in the ways you describe. My weird way of saying it is that: “Myth is a compression algorithm”. Anyway, I thought you might at least get a kick out of some of these examples. And I hope you appreciate that what you’re tapping into here, in your conversations with symbols and myth, goes very deep into the human experience. How many stories hide ancient knowledge (whether terrible or useful)? I would love to hear your thoughts – if you feel like bouncing ideas back. In any case, thank you. Your videos have helped me make sense of some of these things in new and (personally) rewarding ways – mahalo nui.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi LmL I was thinking about your series titled The Blood of Others,and I do agree whit all what you said, but I think you missed two thinks which will tie a Song of Ice and Fire with one more Book.
    I start with the fact that Others and Dragons are considered monster, in which case they archetipical descended will be a monster for example Gilli’s baby” Monster”, and that leads me to believe that G.R.R.M did borrow that from The Witcher where Gerald is genetically modified so much that he is considered to be monster not a human. Two Gerald of Rivia is called White Wolf.


  6. Hi Mr LML, new here but I’ve been following you and Quinn for a while. Mine could be a stupid question however…
    When old Nan says “all crows are liars” to Bran, could that refer to the brothers of the nightwatch?
    Maybe they covered up something and lied for so long until the lie was forgotten. They swear to protect and it happened before that characters decided to lie in order to protect someone or something. They protected the north? the Stark’s secrets maybe?
    Not trying to speculate and not having a clear theory behind this, just an idea.

    Thanks for your time and patience


    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yo. Huge fan. One question. Is Dragonglass ACTUALLY just stone as we consider it to be obsidian via the maesters? Whaaaaat if it’s actually cooled, dried dragonblood and the “cache” of dragonglass beneath Dragonstone is actually the site of a mass dragon culling of sorts?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Regarding the “why” of the weirwoods destroying the moon:
    I think it’s suggested in the Varamyr prologue—Varamyr tries to skin-change the girl Thistle was it? Though he’d been told it was an “abomination”, and her reaction to being invaded is to claw her own eyes out. I like your theory that Azor Ahai was the Bloodstone Emperor who seduced Nissa Nissa (the Cat-woman) and blood-sacrificed her to invade the Old-God-weirwood net. Their reaction to being invaded (and evicted from control) was to run comets into the moon via their astral projection ability to destroy the planet much as an invaded person tries to destroy themselves rather than ceding control of their body. Only they failed to destroy the planet.

    Their next (more successful) attempt at revenge was to seduce him with Night’s queen and turn him into Night’s King. How the Last Hero came about, remains unclear to me…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You like thinking about TGEotD?

    Have you thought that they came to Westeros from traveling the same routes Sunchaser did?

    They’d hit the western coast first, Old Town and the Iron Islands.

    “To go west you must go east”. So there are mythical parallels between the dragon riders of TGEotD did and what Dany will do. ( Or what Grrm originally planned for her to do)


  10. Hey, congratulations on your analysis. One of then, about the night queen and the creation of the others, game an insight I still haven’t seen being suggested by anyone, so I think I should share. About the formation of The Wall. What if it was not exactly “build’, but just an line on an ice sheet, an great glacier, enchanted not to melt? What if the Night’s King brought a long night so cold that we should compare it to an ice age on our earth, and all the glaciers that are formed with it? During our last ice age, New York was covevered by an ice sheet 300 meters(1.000 feet) thick. It seems quite plausable that a magical “13 years” winter would produce an ice sheet with the thickness of the Wall we see in the books.
    Hope others have already thought about it and discussed it.
    Valar Morghulis


  11. Just a random tin foil I got while watching your latest youtube video. Do you think if there is a nights king or even the nights queen they where a child or children of the forest that warged into a human and there persons came together? … I was thinking of brans chapter where he says if they were human they would be wroth…when they are describing what the children of the forest are like…we have been told that when a warg dies the animal still contains there feelings… and we are to believe the children created the others … then going back to brans chapter when he warged into hodor and found the cave with the children they where not told about that are connected to the tree network …. and we are told that warging into another being is an abomination…why would we be told this …and we are given 2 examples of this happening … these are all times that you can use to learn more about the children of the forest and what there abilities could be capable of as they where the ones that taught humans how to “fly”. And at the time of the age of heros they where strong enough to separate esos from Westeros… I dont know if any of that makes sense to you but I was just wondering if you have any thoughts


  12. Hey LML!I’m a huge fan and I want to thank you for furthering my knowledge and love for this amazing series of books.
    I’m not sure if it’s been brought up in any episodes or essays and maybe I just missed it, but I am currently reading Hyperion by Dan Simmons and in the first chapter they are traveling the stars in a weirwood tree ship. Thought that was an awesome similarity and just figured I’d share.

    Liked by 1 person

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