The Devil and the Deep Green See

Welcome friends, myth heads, patrons, YouTube and podcast listeners and blog readers all. Welcome to your court-side seat to history in the making. That’s right. It’s the wordplay that was promised, the hidden key to understanding all the merling and squisher symbolism and, more importantly, the key to the weirwoodnet. Ever wonder why there are so many fish people legends on the margins of ASOIAF? Ever wonder what the hell Patchface is talking about? The ridiculously fishy symbolism of House Manderly or House Velaryon? There’s a way to understand all of this, and doing so will tell us a ton about the weirwoods and the greenseers.

But only if you have eyes to see… and we are going to give you those eyes today.

I say “we” because I actually can’t take credit for this discovery. For the most part I write about my own theories, and let other people develop their theories on their own… but every once in a while, one of my friends and collaborators discovers a symbol or metaphor or theory which is so central to the action that I have to write about it. You may remember the first episode of Moons and Ice and Fire, Prelude to  a Chill, which was largely based around the theory that Night’s Queen was actually more like an ice priestess, an icy version of Melisandre, as opposed to a wight or a female Other. That theory belongs to Durran Durrandon, a very old friend of mine from the forums, who has also just recently become the zodiac patron for House Pisces. (Thanks for your support buddy!) He wrote it a few years back on the forums, and it’s always seemed on the mark to me. When I began researching to write about the Others, I found the idea central to understanding the Others – and so, with his permission and collaboration, I brought the theory to you, and built upon it.

We’re doing something like that again. Ravenous Reader, the Poetess of the Nennymoans, is the one who discovered the wordplay-based symbolism we are about to unveil, and as you’re about to see, it’s quite the discovery. I’m practically green with envy for not seeing it first! I kid of course, and I’m happy to give all credit and aplomb to Ravenous Reader for this one. Additionally, we in the community, including Ravenous, myself, and countless, countless others have been developing these ideas for over a year now, on Twitter and and wherever else. It’s an idea whose time has long been at hand, and I am honored and privileged to have Ravi’s blessing to guide you beneath the waves and into the green sea.

To be honest, we’ve mostly been ignoring water symbolism, apart from discovering the waves of moon blood symbolism that is tied to the concept of bleeding stars and floods caused by moon meteors. But apart from that, I’ve been skillfully side-stepping all the watery symbolism that has, quite frankly, been popping up everywhere we go.

Bloodstone Compendium
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

Moons of Ice and Fire
I: Shadow Heart Mother
II: Dawn of the Others
III: Visenya Draconis
IV: The Long Night Was His to Rule
V: R+L=J, A Recipe for Ice Dragons

The Blood of the Other
–  Prelude to a Chill
I: A Baelful Bard & a Promised Prince
II: The Stark that Brings the Dawn
III: Eldric Shadowchaser
IV: Prose Eddard
V: Ice Moon Apocalypse

Sacred Order of Green Zombies
I: The Last Hero & the King of Corn
II: King of Winter, Lord of Death
III: The Long Night’s Watch

Weirwood Compendium
I: The Grey King & the Sea Dragon
II: A Burning Brandon
III: Garth of the Gallows
IV: In a Grove of Ash
V: To Ride the Green Dragon
VI: The Devil and the Deep Green See

Weirwood Goddess
I: Venus of the Woods
II: It’s an Arya Thing
III: The Cat Woman Nissa Nissa

Signs and Portals
I: Veil of Frozen Tears
II: Sansa Locked in Ice

Now in PODCAST form!

Click to open in iTunes

Take the sea dragon myth for example. The sea dragon, a legend ostensibly about a sea monster, turns out instead to be about a weirwood boat – still something large that belongs in the sea, and maybe it had a nice sea monster for a masthead, who knows. Of course the primary significance seeing the truth of the weirwood boat was that it led us to discover the weirwood throne, the weirwood crown, and the rest of the greenseer symbolism that clings to the Grey King like barnacles on the hull of a weirwood submarine. Ultimately, the sea dragon myth seems to be less about Poseidon-related matters and more about a person who possesses the “living fire” of the weirwoods, as well as the fire or power of the fiery dragon meteors which are also a part of the sea dragon myth. It’s actually a version the Azor Ahai story about a dragon-blooded greenseer and meteor swords, in other words, but coded in the language of the sea – sea monsters and boats and a mermaid wife, a Drown God who brings fire out of the sea and battles the Storm God, and a nation of pirates and mariners.

That’s the sea dragon. Now, in Weirwood Compendium 5: To Ride the Green Dragon,  we have introduced the green dragon motif and explored all the symbolism that goes with it, symbolism that revolves around Rhaego and Rhaegal and Daenerys, with assists from people like Quentyn and Aegon the Unworthy and even Moondancer the green dragon. Funny thing – just like the sea dragon symbolism, the green dragon ideas again lead us to the idea of a dragon blooded greenseer who sounds a damn lot like Azor Ahai reborn, and it too seems to use watery language to do so.

As we saw in the last episode, the green dragon is heavily tied to the thunderbolt and storm symbolism that comes from the Ironborn myth of the Grey King and the Storm God’s Thunderbolt, which is watery mythology, but it’s watery mythology about meteor thunderbolts and obtaining the fire of the gods. The green dragon is also linked to wildfire, which is basically liquid fire! It’s also green and is associated with magicians (the alchemists who make it) and dragons (the Targaryens who use it). Wildfire evens burns on the water, as we know well from the Battle of the Blackwater, so it really is like sea dragon fire (Tyrion compares the wildfire at the battle to dragonfire directly, in fact).

Then at the end of “To Ride the Green Dragon,” we took a look at Rhaegal’s scenes in Meereen and we found our friendly green dragon linked to a bunch of wordplay about drowned fire and fire that washes over things. More importantly, we saw Rhaegal linked to a bunch of sea dragon symbolism, starting with Quentyn’s plan to ride the green dragon being compared to King Aegon the Unworthy building those wooden dragons full of wildfire which catastrophically caught on fire in the Kingswood, with those burning wooden dragons being amazing sea dragon symbols. Then there was Quentyn seeing Rhaegal “uncoiling like some great green serpent” in the climax scene of the Dragontamer chapter, which puts us in mind of the sea dragon myth again, since Nagga means “cobra” or “snake” and is tied to a whole host of water dragon and water snake symbolism.

We even saw sea dragon symbolism in the placement of Rhaegal’s egg on Drogo’s pyre during the alchemical wedding: it was surrounded by Drogo’s black, “river of darkness” hair, which gives us the image of the green dragon as a sea dragon swimming in a river of darkness.

The watery language is not only found in people and dragons who symbolize ‘Azor Ahai the greenseer,’ but also in some of the actual Azor Ahai mythology itself. According to what Melisandre tells Stannis, Azor Ahai reborn is supposed to be “a hero reborn in the sea.”

The darkness will devour them all, she says. The night that never ends. She talks of prophecies . . . a hero reborn in the sea, living dragons hatched from dead stone . . . 

This has never made much sense, really, beyond the idea of the sea dragon as ‘stone dragon’ moon meteor that falls into the sea, since the moon meteors which drank the fire of the sun do represent Azor Ahai reborn, offspring of sun and moon. Additionally, Azor being reborn in the sea does seem a good match for all the Grey King and Drowned God mythology about being reborn in the sea and bringing fire out of the sea, although these ideas are still somewhat cryptic.

What we can say is that again and again, the clues about Azor Ahai being a greenseer seem to come to us in the language of leviathan, in the speech of the green sea.

Green sea… the clues about the greenseers are found in the green sea… we have sea dragons and green dragons, both of which are talking about greenseer dragons, and in the language of the green sea. What kind of dreadful wordplay is this?

Why, it’s the green see wordplay of the one and only Ravenous Reader! Well, it’s George R. R. Martin’s wordplay of course, but Ravenous is the one who sniffed it out. George is basically having a roaring good time with the wordplay of greenseer and green sea. It’s all very clever, and ultimately the point is this: the undersea realm, the green sea, is serving as a metaphor for the weirwoodnet, where the greenseers live. When things happen under the sea, they are often metaphors for things which happened inside the weirwoodnet, which we can think of as the green see. A dragon that ‘comes from the sea’ like the sea dragon… Azor Ahai being reborn in the sea… both are really talking about Azor Ahai the dragon being reborn in the green see of the weirwoodnet… see? A greenseer dragon is a see dragon in that he is a dragon person that inhabits the green see of the weirwoodnet, where the greenseers live.

Yes, that’s right my friends… from Patchface’s riddles to drowning moon maidens to the Nimble Dick’s favorite squisher legends, to Azor Ahai being a hero reborn in the sea, it’s all really about the weirwoodnet and the freaky things that go in there. I know I know, oh oh oh. So much to discuss.

Here’s how the rest of this episode is going to go: I’m going to run through a bunch of quick examples of Azor Ahai reborn people drowning and transforming in the see in various ways, and then we’ll go in depth on on example in particular which sort of ties everything together. Then we’ll do the same with Nissa Nissa figures, going more quickly through some of the moon maiden drownings to compare them, then going deep on one in particular. Deep on one… deep ones… okay. Let’s dive in.

The Merling that Was Promised

Calling Azor Ahai a merling is my fun way of saying that Azor Ahai is our hero reborn in the see. I was going to title this section with the more straightforward “A Hero Reborn in the See,” but then my spirit of fun kicked in. So, Azor Ahai was a merling, but not really. His rebirth is simply tied to the weirwoods, which is an idea that is well familiar to us, since we discovered it already by other means. That’s what’s great about the under the see symbolism – it’s going to interlock seamlessly with and confirm all the best theories that are right and good, because the under the see wordplay is right and good.

It all starts with the concept of the weirwoods as a fishing weir, I think. I’ve quoted this line many times, but I’m gonna quote it again, and think about the watery realm as the realm of the greenseers:

For men, time is a river. We are trapped in its flow, hurtling from past to present, always in the same direction. The lives of trees are different. They root and grow and die in one place, and that river does not move them. The oak is the acorn, the acorn is the oak. And the weirwood … a thousand human years are a moment to a weirwood, and through such gates you and I may gaze into the past.”

A fishing weir spans a river and is not moved by it, very like a bridge – and in fact some weirs do serve as bridges. The weirwoods are something like a cosmic fishing weir or bridge which spans the cosmic river of time. This is very like Yggdrasil of course, the world tree that spans all nine realms, and you can see how it is literally true of the weirwoods, which are indeed gates through which the greenseers can see the past and perhaps a bit of the future. They do indeed exist partially outside the river of time, unmoved by it, and even more, they seem to have access to any point in that river.

In this schema, men are the fish trapped in the river, with the fishing weir of the weirwoodnet occasionally plucking a fish from the river of time and and trapping him in the weir, which is akin to plucking him from the realm of mortal men and giving him god-like powers. You can see how well the metaphor works – the greenseer is physically pinioned to the weirwoods like fish caught in a weir, but in doing so are freed from the river of time and the mortality of humans. This is the theme of most Odin myths and shamanic practices – giving up physical abilities to gain magical ones. Denying the flesh to unleash the spirit.

Our prime example of such a greenseer fish caught in the weir is Bloodraven, a.k.a. Brynden Rivers. That’s right – he’s literally a man of the rivers who is physically entangled in a wooden weir. His dual Targaryen / Blackwood heritage implies him as a tree person and a dragon person, and he is indeed a dragon-blood person merging with a tree. That takes care of the “dragon entering the weirwoodnet” symbolism, and his name “Rivers” adds the connotation of water and thus makes Lord Brynden a sea dragon or a fish-man caught in the weir. Don’t forget that our young Lord Brandon Stark is also half Tully, and therefore a bit of a wolf-fish!Just don’t call him a merman… although because of his broken legs, he does crawl on land like a mermaid or merman would have to.

As I mentioned in the Grey King and the Sea Dragon, a great likeness is drawn between Bloodraven and the Grey King when we see the white weirwood roots that coil around and through Bloodraven’s body described as “white wooden serpents,” which is evocative of the “sea dragon” that turned out to be a white weirwood boat. Grey King sat in a throne of sea dragon weirwood, and Bloodraven sits in a throne of white serpent weirwood roots.

Now think about the weirwood boat thing as a metaphor for sailing the cosmic ocean via the power of the weirwood. Ah ha, now you’re beginning to see how this works… the weirwoods are like a ship or a vehicle for astral projection, which is akin to sailing the cosmic ocean. That’s why the Grey King sits in a weirwood throne inside a weirwood boat… it’s a double metaphor.

The Grey King didn’t acquire fire from a sea monster, or an actual burning tree for that matter; he found it inside the green see of the weirwoodnet. He is the Drowned God-man who died to immerse himself in the green see and then became a hero reborn in the see who brought the fire of the gods out of that see for man to possess. This lines up with what I’ve been speculating about Nissa Nissa opening the weirwoods for humans to become greenseers, and about Azor Ahai being the first such. We are going to see a lot of evidence for these ideas today.

The idea of the sea dragon – a wooden boat – possessing living fire, has led us to some great burning boat imagery. Consider the Tully funeral rites, which they imagine to send their dead down to “the watery halls where the Tullys held eternal court, with schools of fish their last attendants.” Before they are submerged in the river however, they are set on fire! Fiery death transformation, and then drowning. Then it’s destination: watery halls… which are really the weirwoodnet. In terms of symbolism, the dead Tully is undergoing fire transformation while using a ship to sail to the afterlife, and in particular, he’s using a burning ship to enter the green see of the weirwoodnet. He’s possessing the sea dragon’s fire.

We saw a similar burning boat funeral with Dontos in Signs and Portals 2, if you’ve listened to that one already. The sequence is very important: Dontos offered up his moon maiden, Sansa, for which Petyr had promised him 30,000 dragons in return, creating the “thousands of dragons coming from the sacrifice of the moon maiden” symbolism. But instead, Petyr gave Dontos actual death and symbolic fire transformation via setting the little boat Dontos is in on fire. Presumably, Dontos and the boat eventually sink and symbolically go down to the “watery halls,” a la a Tully funeral. This scene depicts a foolish Azor Ahai meddling with forces he doesn’t understand by offering Nissa Nissa to the gods, with the result being that Azor Ahai himself dies and enters the weirwoodnet. Dontos is symbolically using the burning boat as a vehicle to enter the see, just like we saw with the Tully funeral rites, and of course, just like Grey King using his weirwood boat to access the green see of the weirwoods.

There was an interesting and important line in the Dontos scene where Petyr suggests that Dontos, who is a raging alcoholic, would simply have drunk up those 30,000 dragons. This implies the fire dragons that come from the moon as an intoxicating substance, which seems like obvious “food and drink of the gods” imagery, as that’s basically the same thing as the fire of the gods. Consider this line from Jojen in ADWD:

“It is given to a few to drink from that green fountain whilst still in mortal flesh, to hear the whisperings of the leaves and see as the trees see,” said Jojen. 

That’s a little bit round about, as a fountain is not a sea, but of course that doesn’t really matter – the green see symbolism works with green lakes, rivers, ponds, or even glasses of green wine or a flask of wildfire. Honestly, any body of water can be used. The description of the greenseer gift as a green liquid that one can drink and that might kill you is what I find compelling, as it again puts the “fire of the gods” in liquid form, just like the Dontos scene, but this time it’s a green liquid that is specifically used as a metaphor for greenseeing by Jojen. This is George waving the metaphor in front of our faces here – he’s showing us that green liquids can symbolize greenseeing, then throws in the line about being able to “see as the trees see.”

The idea of drinking a green drink which represents the fire of the gods and might kill you has to put us in mind of Aerion Brightflame, the Targaryen prince who died drinking wildfire, imagining it would turn him into a real dragon. The line was

One night, in his cups, he drank a jar of wildfire, after telling his friends it would transform him into a dragon, but the gods were kind and it transformed him into a corpse.

This compares very well to the idea of Dontos “drinking up” the thousands of dragons he was promised for surrendering up the moon maiden and then being turned into a burning corpse. It also compares very well to a greenseer like Bloodraven turning into a wooden corpse as he drinks from the green fountain. Dontos’s second life as a greenseer is implied by his fiery death in a sea dragon boat, while Aerion drank from “the green fountain” in order to have a second life inside the dragon, with the dragon standing in for the tree. Dragons and weirwoods both eat people after all.

You may recall the famous line from a Tyrion chapter of ADWD which I used to make the case for Tyrion as a secret Targaryen which fits right in here:

If I drink enough fire wine, he told himself, perhaps I’ll dream of dragons.

Which indeed he does – that night he dreams of meeting Daenerys and being fed to her dragons, and the next night, after a line about matching Illyrio cup for cup of wine, he dreams of that weird battle scene with Barristan the Bold and Bittersteel with dragons wheeling across the sky above.

There’s also the very first line of Tyrion’s first chapter in ADWD: “He drank his way across the narrow sea.” That one really stands out! Drinking the fire of the gods is what allows you to use the green see as a portal, something we’ll be following up on in the Signs and Portals series.

Ravenous Reader chimes in here with a find that relates. Viserys is another foolish dragon figure, like Dontos, who sold his moon maiden, like Dontos, and in return was famously crowned with molten gold. That’s definitely a depiction of someone obtaining the liquid fire of the gods and dying at the same time, and when Dany sees a vision of Viserys later in ADWD, it says that

Viserys began to laugh, until his jaw fell away from his face, smoking, and blood and molten gold ran from his mouth.

It’s like George is showing us that Viserys tried to drink the liquid fire of the gods, the molten gold, and couldn’t handle it – his jaw falls off to signify his inability, or you might even say unworthiness. During Dany’s wake the dragon dream in AGOT, she saw a nightmare vision of Viserys and it says that “the molten gold trickled down his face like wax, burning deep channels in his flesh,” evoking the face carving of a weirwood tree, and that same passage also has his eyes bursting open, again suggesting the bloody eyes of a weirwood tree.

All of this – the death of Viserys, and Dany’s two visions of Viserys, five books apart – takes place in the green Dothraki Sea. Which we will talk more about in a bit. Because yeah, Dany was also reborn as Azor Ahai in the green Dothraki Sea.

Perhaps more important than Azor Ahai drinking the fire of the gods is the idea of his being drowned or immersed in a sea or river, with bonus points for the water being green. As we discussed in the last episode, Rhaegar’s body falling into the “green banks of the Trident” depicts a sea dragon landing in the water, and now you can see how true that really is: he fell into the green banks of a river named for the sea god’s symbol of power, the trident. Rhaegar is definitely an Azor Ahai figure dying and going in to the green see of the weirwoodnet…. and then later, on the green Dothraki Sea, Rhaegar is symbolically reborn as Rhaegal the green dragon.

Then there’s Beric, the corpse lord with a flaming sword who sits a weirwood throne. He has watery weirwoodnet symbolism in his death and resurrection, as his first death took place at the Mummer’s Ford, with his body falling into the water much like Rhaegar’s did. He dies in the river, but is resurrected and reborn “in a grove of ash,” which is of course code for “inside the weirwoodnet,” then inhabits a dark weirwood root-infested cave like Bloodraven’s. To say it simply, Beric died in the water and was reborn as a symbol of a greenseer dragon.

Don’t forget magnificent King Renly, with his deep forest green / deep pond green armor, because he drowned in his own blood:

He had time to make a small thick gasp before the blood came gushing out of his throat.

“Your Gr—no!” cried Brienne the Blue when she saw that evil flow, sounding as scared as any little girl. The king stumbled into her arms, a sheet of blood creeping down the front of his armor, a dark red tide that drowned his green and gold. More candles guttered out. Renly tried to speak, but he was choking on his own blood. His legs collapsed, and only Brienne’s strength held him up. She threw back her head and screamed, wordless in her anguish.

Renly is a stag man solar king and a green man, and he’s dying and drowning. His legs collapse, folding like a stag, even. Think of Coldhands’s elk letting Sam and Gilly climb on with the line “The creature sank to his knees to let them mount.” When Renly is “resurrected” as Garlan Tyrell wearing Renly’s armor, he appears as a fiery stag man leading a host of demons, who we can now see as being implied as coming out of the weirwoodnet.

Speaking of drowning on your own blood, there is a great quote foreshadowing the “drowning” death of Mikken, the Winterfell smith, which is ripe with the green see wordplay and is interwoven with actual greensight. It’s one that ColinVanW, a.k.a. Colin Longstrider, the Eighth Spoke of the Wandering Wheel, found in ACOK:

“The past. The future. The truth.”

They left him more muddled than ever. When he was alone, Bran tried to open his third eye, but he didn’t know how. No matter how he wrinkled his forehead and poked at it, he couldn’t see any different than he’d done before. In the days that followed, he tried to warn others about what Jojen had seen, but it didn’t go as he wanted. Mikken thought it was funny. “The sea, is it? Happens I always wanted to see the sea. Never got where I could go to it, though. So now it’s coming to me, is it? The gods are good, to take such trouble for a poor smith.””

Jojen actually sees Mikken and a couple other Winterfell residents drowning in his dream, which turns out to be a metaphor for the invasion of Theon’s dripping wet Ironborn. But for Mikken, who always wanted to see the sea, it’s a bit more literal when he offers stubborn defiance to Theon the conqueror:

The bald man drove the point of his spear into the back of Mikken’s neck. Steel slid through flesh and came out his throat in a welter of blood. A woman screamed, and Meera wrapped her arms around Rickon. It’s blood he drowned on, Bran thought numbly. His own blood. 

Such a violent metaphor. But it works – he’s drowning on blood and ‘seeing the see,’ just as Jojen of the moss-green eyes had foreseen Mikken would. It’s not so much about Mikken being Azor Ahai as it is a simple demonstration that someone sacrificed with a red smile-type throat wound can be seen as drowning in the see, which is again simply a confirmation of the weirwood stigmata theory, which already suggested that red smiles, bloody smiles, and throat wounds are part of the symbolism that indicates someone going into the weirwoodnet.

Tyrion, another Azor Ahai reborn figure, was knocked unconscious and nearly died during that battle in AGOT, the one where he commanded a host of Mountain Clansmen from the Mountains of the Moon… and that battle was called “The Battle On the Green Fork. Tyrion says to Sansa afterward that “One of your northmen hit me with a morningstar during the battle on the Green Fork. I escaped him by falling off my horse,” with falling off your horse being a great metaphor for being knocked out of the heavens. Tyrion ended up “showered in blood and viscera” when he stood up suddenly beneath his enemy’s horse and eviscerated it with his spiked helm. Gross, but the point is Azor Ahai reborn symbolism and river of blood symbolism paired with the battle being “on” the green fork.

Tyrion has another death transformation scene that combines the notion of drinking the green see and being immersed in it, even more so that Tyrion “drinking his way across the Narrow Sea.” That would be his drowning in the Rhoyne of course. When he goes into the river, it says “The stone man went over backwards, grabbing hold of Tyrion as he fell. They hit the river with a towering splash, and Mother Rhoyne swallowed up the two of them.” That’s the river swallowing Tyrion, and then we see that it works the other way around as well when Tyrion asks Haldon Halfmaester when he can stop worrying about contracting greyscale, and Haldon says

“Truly?” said the Halfmaester. “Never. You swallowed half the river. You may be going grey even now, turning to stone from inside out, starting with your heart and lungs.” 

There is more to discuss here at the Bridge of Dream – especially since a fishing weir can also be a bridge, meaning that a bridge of dream is a weir of dream. It’s straddling the river, it’s made of pale stone – like a petrified weirwood – and it collects people who slowly turn into statues. Recalling that Bran describes Bloodraven as “some  ghastly statue made of twisted wood, old bone, and rotted wool,” we can see that the weirwoods pluck people from the river and turn them into statues. You’ll also recall that they only get trapped in a fight with the stone men after time and space sort of short-circuit and puts Tyrion’s company somehow passing under the same bridge twice. Jon Connington says that “rivers only flow one way,” but of course we know that the weirwoods stand outside of the river of time, and we could say the same about the Bridge of Dream.

So with all that set up, Tyrion is swallowed by the river, and swallows the river in turn, and Haldon Halfmaester specifically ascribes a transformative power to the waters themselves when he says that swallowing the river could mean his insides are turning grey from the inside out. Turning grey, huh? The Azor Ahai reborn figure drowns in the green see beneath the bridge of dream, is reborn, and might now be turning into a grey statue? You see how the Grey King mythology and Azor Ahai mythology dovetails so nicely: the Grey King obtains the living fire of the sea dragon and the fire of the burning tree and then becomes a grey-skinned man sitting on a weirwood throne and supposedly living for a thousand years.

To say it another way, Azor Ahai was reborn in the sea as Stannis says, but not like Stannis thinks, because he was really reborn in the green ‘see’ of the weirwoodnet. He came out as the Grey King, possessing the fire of the gods, who seems to be a living corpse sitting on a weirwood throne. A green zombie, I would call him. This is probably the same story as the last hero dying and being resurrected through the weirwoodnet to become a green zombie hero leading the Night’s Watch with his sword of Dragonsteel. That’s a pretty nice alignment, isn’t it? We’ll talk more about this when we shift over to Nissa Nissa figures who go swimming in the green see in the back half of this episode.

We can’t talk about the Grey King and being reborn in the sea without mentioning the Damphair, right? He even has a chapter called “The Drowned Man!” Aeron Greyjoy, a.k.a. the Damphair, is like Tyrion in that he both drinks and drowns. Here’s the relevant quote from AFFC:

 At six-and-ten he called himself a man, but in truth he had been a sack of wine with legs. He would sing, he would dance (but not the finger dance, never again), he would jape and jabber and make mock. He played the pipes, he juggled, he rode horses, and could drink more than all the Wynches and the Botleys, and half the Harlaws too. The Drowned God gives every man a gift, even him; no man could piss longer or farther than Aeron Greyjoy, as he proved at every feast. Once he bet his new longship against a herd of goats that he could quench a hearthfire with no more than his cock. Aeron feasted on goat for a year, and named the longship Golden Storm, though Balon threatened to hang him from her mast when he heard what sort of ram his brother proposed to mount upon her prow.

And then a moment later, thinking of his young, foolish, self, he thinks “That man is dead. Aeron had drowned and been reborn from the sea, the god’s own prophet.”  He drinks more than anyone, then he drowned and was reborn. The idea of his being hung from the mast is also a callout to Odin’s hanging on a tree, especially here in the context of Aeron gaining the ability to hear the Drowned God and speak with his voice. Check out this quote from ACOK:

“And what of you, Uncle?” Theon asked. “You were no priest when I was taken from Pyke. I remember how you would sing the old reaving songs standing on the table with a horn of ale in hand.”

“Young I was, and vain,” Aeron Greyjoy said, “but the sea washed my follies and my vanities away. That man drowned, nephew. His lungs filled with seawater, and the fish ate the scales off his eyes. When I rose again, I saw clearly.”

When he rose from the sea, he could see. I think that pretty neatly encompasses today’s idea! There’s even a line I didn’t quote about Aeron winning a bet by being able to quench a hearthfire with his… stream. This evokes the “pyromancer’s piss” description of wildfire, and relates his legendary drinking to the drinking the fire of the gods concept. Heck, even his name, Aeron, sounds like Aerion, the man who drank wildfire and killed himself. Finally, notice Theon’s sort of frozen mental image of young Aeron: singing old reaving songs with a horn of ale in hand. Odin always drank his mead of poetry from a horn, which I think is being evoked here, and singing songs of the sea simply reminds us that the natural residents of the green see, the children of the forest, are really called “those who sing the song of earth.”

Now look, we’re talking about drowning and being reborn and the see, and how everything under the sea is a metaphor, and I know you want to hear about Patchface. Well, Patchface needs his own episode, that’s all I can say, but we’ve already taken a quick look at him in the Sacred Order of Green Zombies series, and we remember that he is a stag man with red and green patchwork tattoos on his face who mysteriously drowned at sea and washed on shore three days later to be reborn. He’s lost most of his wits but can now hear some sort of voice of prophecy from under the sea, which is a classic shamanic motif, the idea that gaining third sight can render you half mad (and one of the connotations of Odin’s name is madness). He’s aquired the ‘terrible knowledge,’ as indicated by his knowing lament of “I know I know, oh oh oh.”

Before Patches drowned, he was a child who was as “nimble as a monkey and witty as a dozen courtiers. He juggles and riddles and does magic, and he can sing prettily in four tongues.” A magic-wielding child-man who can sing in many languages? Red and green? Antlers? Reborn in the sea? Now all this makes a bit more sense. It’s just a weird take on the same story of Azor Ahai being a demonic stag man who was reborn in the green see of the weirwoodnet. Another time we will go through all of his little sayings and songs and try to decode them one by one, but for now I will just quote one of them to tide you over. This is Ser Malegorn, one of Queen Selyse’s knights, talking to Jon in ADWD:

“Who will lead the ranging?”

“Are you offering yourself, ser?”

“Do I look so foolish?”

Patchface jumped up. “I will lead it!” His bells rang merrily. “We will march into the sea and out again.”

You can see how loaded all the Patchface quotes are going to be. There’s even more to this one, but just that one line says a ton: a reborn-stag man hero leading the Night’s Watch into the see and out again? This is a tremendous synthesis of Grey King mythology, Azor Ahai mythology, last hero / green zombie symbolism, stag man symbolism, and sheer madness.

Alright, well, let’s go ahead move on to our one deep dive example of an Azor Ahai figure drowning amidst fire and being resurrected from the sea.

The Jade Demon

That’s right, it’s Davos at the Blackwater time. We won’t deal with the whole battle, which is immense, but we’ll cover Davos’s part in it. The basic elements at play are readily apparent: tons of wildfire, including the infamous swirling demon of green flame, burning ships, not one but two weirs – Tyrion’s chain boom and the bridge of ships that temporarily forms – and finally, Davos’s drowning and resuscitation on the Spears of the Merling King. Some of the ship-ramming is important too, I suppose.

Let’s set sail!

Davos’s ACOK chapter about the Battle of the Blackwater starts off with vivid imagery. Davos’s ship, Black Betha, rides the “flood tide” of the choppy Blackwater Bay. That’s interesting that Davos sails a ship named after Black Betha Blackwood, a woman whose house is strongly tied to weirwoods and greenseers, but who married a dragon – Aegon the V, a.k.a. Aegon the Unlikely, a.k.a. Egg from Dunk and Egg. That makes Davos’s ship “Black Betha” a ship associated with both weirwoods and dragons, and specifically to weirwood goddesses giving birth to dragon offspring.

That’s a deeply layered sea dragon metaphor, recalling Grey King in his weirwood throne and weirwood boat. Spoiler alert: Black Betha does indeed catch on fire. This puts Davos as our Azor Ahai greenseer figure who is set to undergo death transformation and enter the green see, as he’s the captain of the fiery weirwood / sea dragon boat. Davos wears “an old green cloak” for what it’s worth.

Considering that this entire fleet belongs to Stannis, all of the ships are really sea dragon boats, since Stannis is a little bit Targaryen and is of course an Azor Ahai figure. But hey, don’t take my word for it. This is the second paragraph of the chapter:

Across the sea warhorns boomed, deep throaty moans like the calls of monstrous serpents, repeated ship to ship.

Well then – the boats are sea serpents with deep throaty warhorn calls. They speak the language of leviathan, apparently. That’s clear enough! And again, most of these boats burn. And although I hate to step away from the Davos chapter, I have to compare this line to the sighting of the Old Man of the River on the Rhoyne in Tyrion’s chapter:

It was another turtle, a horned turtle of enormous size, its dark green shell mottled with brown and overgrown with water moss and crusty black river molluscs. It raised its head and bellowed, a deep-throated thrumming roar louder than any warhorn that Tyrion had ever heard. 

It’s a dark-green horned sea monster with a deep-throated warhorn call, very like Davos and Stannis’s fleet of sea dragon boats. I thought I’d point it out since this is the same river Tyrion swallowed and was swallowed by that we just talked about.

Returning the to the battle:

The warhorns sounded again, commands drifting back from the Fury. Davos felt a tingle in his missing fingertips. “Out oars,” he shouted. “Form line.” A hundred blades dipped down into the water as the oarmaster’s drum began to boom. The sound was like the beating of a great slow heart, and the oars moved at every stroke, a hundred men pulling as one. Wooden wings had sprouted from the Wraith and Lady Marya as well. The three galleys kept pace, their blades churning the water.

Okay, so our fleet of see dragon boats has sprouted wooden wings – what a great metaphor for flying through the weirwood trees, as Bran does. It’s the weirwood boat as a ship for astral projection motif again, and it’s a good one. Twice the oars are called blades, which shows us our sea dragon thrusting blades into the water – you can’t forget the sea dragon-as-falling-meteor part of the myth, right? We also have to notice that our sea dragon boats have a heartbeat, and it’s made up of a hive-mind of sorts, with hundreds of men pulling as one. Oh and all of this is triggered by blowing horns – the ones which sound like sea serpent calls.

There’s a matching line a bit further on:

The sea was full of sound: shouts and calls, warhorns and drums and the trill of pipes, the slap of wood on water as thousands of oars rose and fell.

As you can see, the see is full of sound – it’s full of singers at the very least, and maybe a few dudes with horns.

Next up we get an important line of ominous foreshadowing about the ship named Swordfish “lagging as ever,” and about Davos having “grave doubts about her captain.Swordfish is the ship that first rams the bait ship full of wildfire and looses the jade demon. Of course… sword-fish. It’s like the sea dragon being a sword, or like the Castle Pyke sitting on the point of the sword land that plunged into the sea, and oh by the way the word pike can refer to both a spear or a fish, ha ha.

Next we get a list of ships in Stannis’s sea dragon fleet, a few of which are worth mentioning. Ships such as Stag of the Sea – that’s our man, Azor Ahai, the horned lord of the green see (and there’s another ship called Horned Honor).  Brightfish gives us fish-boat imagery combined with an allusion to light-bringing or fire or explosions or something, and then we have the unfortunately named Sea Demon, which sounds like foreshadowing of the unleashing of the jade demon on the river, and of course both of these demons of the green see ultimately refer to Azor Ahai. Swift Sword is a bit like Swordfish in that it gives us the falling meteor sword aspect of the sea dragon. There’s also a Trident Three, which sounds like it could be a name for a ship from Starfleet, as in Star Trek, but is also a ship that is a weapon, and evokes the Trident River and the trident as a symbol of the sea god’s power (and there’s a ship named Sceptre as well). Princess Rhaenys and Red Raven seem evocative of fire moon death and bleeding stars as ravens, and of course a red raven is very close to Blood-raven, and thus this sea dragon boat is further tied to greenseer dragons. Finally, Salladhor Saan’s Valyrian is simply yet another dragon boat in Stannis’s fleet.

These ships all have one thing in common, it turns out, and it’s more ominous foreshadowing, given the events of the battle:

From every stern streamed the fiery heart of the Lord of Light, red and yellow and orange.

Burning sea dragon boats… and the metaphor is about to come to life.

As they approach the river mouth, we read that “The river that had seemed so narrow from a distance now stretched wide as a sea…”, which makes the river into a sea – just  to make sure we get the metaphor. As we know, the river is about to become a sea of green fire. Davos tastes a trap, and notices the chain boom on the way in, giving us the beginning of the weir-as-a-trap metaphor. Later we see that the “riverfront was a blackened desolation,” burned by the Lannisters, and contains the hulks of sunken ships, recalling the scene at Lordsport where Theon compares the sunken ships there to “the bones of dead leviathans.”

The chain itself has good symbolism, as Davos sees it  “snaking out from a hole no bigger than a man’s head and disappearing under the water.” It’s fun to imagine a Cthulhu-like nagga man with a snake instead of a head, specially since the chain catches on fire. The hole would be the black hole / dark star that forms when the moon explodes in front of the sun, and it is indeed from the black whole that the black meteor snakes come, bearing fire.  Then they “disappear under the water,” like a drowning sea dragon meteor. The arrows “hiss like snakes” throughout the battle, and are frequently fire arrows, so this fiery-snake-as-meteor symbolism abounds throughout the battle. The falling arrows are also called a rain of shafts at one point.

Then we get an even better meteor metaphor:

Ashore, the arms of the great trebuchets rose one, two, three, and a hundred stones climbed high into the yellow sky. Each one was as large as a man’s head; when they fell they sent up great gouts of water, smashed through oak planking, and turned living men into bone and pulp and gristle.

Decapitated stone heads make us think of the moon as the face of a man with an invisible body, especially falling out of the sky to strike the sea dragon ships. They are also turning men into bone and pulp and gristle, which is another way of saying “blood and bone” and thus might be a depiction of sea dragon men entering the weirwoods by turning into images of them –  pulpy, bloody tree-people struck with the meteor fire of the gods. That’s what it means when someone burns on a sea dragon boat or drowns in the water anyway – sea dragon men entering the net – so it fits. A moment later, one of the boulders that strikes a ship is “as big as an ox,” giving us a dash of lunar bull symbolism.

Davos’s Black Betha rams her first target successfully, but then Davos catches his first sight of the green hell that awaits:

A flash of green caught his eye, ahead and off to port, and a nest of writhing emerald serpents rose burning and hissing from the stern of Queen Alysanne. An instant later Davos heard the dread cry of “Wildfire!”

He grimaced. Burning pitch was one thing, wildfire quite another. Evil stuff, and well-nigh unquenchable. Smother it under a cloak and the cloak took fire; slap at a fleck of it with your palm and your hand was aflame. “Piss on wildfire and your cock burns off,” old seamen liked to say. Still, Ser Imry had warned them to expect a taste of the alchemists’ vile substance.

Oh George, you randy bastard – the seamen have saying about pissing on wildfire and your cock burning off? The seamen? Very funny. But of course we know wildfire is called pyromancer’s piss, unfortunately Davos and the sea dragons are about to get “a taste of the alchemists’ vile substance.” Again, send your complaints to George, he set up the joke, not me. In any case, it’s more drinking wildfire / drinking from the green fountain (please don’t @ me) line of symbolism that we just discussed like mature adults. It really does line up with Aerion brightflame and all the rest though.

Thus begins the fire transformations:

Men wreathed in green flame leapt into the water, shrieking like nothing human.

Ah ha! More men robed in fire – they’re wreathed, giving them King of Winter symbolism we have seen on other burning men, and then they leap into the water – into the river which is like a sea. They are also losing their humanity, shrieking like nothing human.

Then, “through black smoke and swirling green fire,” Davos sees the mass of rotten hulks that hides the big payload of wildfire. Davos calls them driftwood, which is fairly awesome. From this driftwood will be born the jade demon, making the demon itself a manifestation of Azor Ahai the fire sorcerer waking from burning wood of symbolic import.

Black Betha end up l’ocking horns’ with an enemy ship called White Hart, which Davos’s crew successfully board and capture. This is a stag / tree yin-yang of sorts, a ship named for a white stag (a hart) and one named for a Blackwood. One thinks of the doors of the House of Black and White. In any case, we then get this bonkers line which seems a reference to the Gods Eye as the eclipse alignment and Black Betha and White Hart are locked together:

For those few instants, Black Betha and White Hart were the calm eye in the midst of the storm.

The White Hart would be a symbol of the solar king, the bright stag man figure, and it is boarded by Black Betha, whom I believe is a fire moon figure, and therefore in terms of astronomy I believe we are seeing the sun being darkened by the eclipse here. That is exactly what the Gods Eye represents according to me, and this is indeed the moment of calm right before the big explosion, mimicking the idea of the comet striking during the eclipse.

To set up that big explosion, we get a very long paragraph about the “raging green inferno” the river has become, with various ships burning and tangling with one another. It’s now the full hellscape that we remember form this battle, and then comes the fateful moment…

“Captain ser!” Matthos touched his shoulder.

It was Swordfish, her two banks of oars lifting and falling. She had never brought down her sails, and some burning pitch had caught in her rigging. The flames spread as Davos watched, creeping out over ropes and sails until she trailed a head of yellow flame. Her ungainly iron ram, fashioned after the likeness of the fish from which she took her name, parted the surface of the river before her. Directly ahead, drifting toward her and swinging around to present a tempting plump target, was one of the Lannister hulks, floating low in the water. Slow green blood was leaking out between her boards.

When he saw that, Davos Seaworth’s heart stopped beating.

A sea dragon that’s also a sword, trailing a head of flame like a comet, is set to impregnate the plump green-blooded Lannister ship. By the way, do yo think George is making some incredible Hulk references here, with all these “hulks” full of the jade demon? I certainly do. Picking up right where we left off:

With a grinding, splintering, tearing crash, Swordfish split the rotted hulk asunder. She burst like an overripe fruit, but no fruit had ever screamed that shattering wooden scream. From inside her Davos saw green gushing from a thousand broken jars, poison from the entrails of a dying beast, glistening, shining, spreading across the surface of the river …

“Back water,” he roared. “Away. Get us off her, back water, back water!” The grappling lines were cut, and Davos felt the deck move under his feet as Black Betha pushed free of White Hart. Her oars slid down into the water.

Given the river of time metaphor, Davos saying back water is almost like saying “do over! Do over! I want a do-over!” which is kinda funny. In any case, Gods Eye union of White Hart and Black Betha breaks up, right in sync with the Swordfish colliding with the rotted hulk (there’s that word again) and evoking the shattering wooden scream, an obvious call-out to Nissa Nissa’s scream. That’s all pretty great mythical astronomy.

The overripe fruit description of the rotted hulk is the same language used to describe the older flask of wildfire the pyromancers show Tyrion, so this is simply Martin being consistent about implying wildfire as the fruit of the burning tree. The symbolic burning tree is the weirwood, and greensight is like drinking from the green fountain. Wildfire is being roped in tightly to this line of symbolism by being implied as the overripe fruit of a burning tree. Hat-tip to Gretchen Ellis a.k.a. Ba’al the Bard for that observation.

The entrails of a dying beast strongly evokes the idea of Nissa Nissa as a slaughtered sea serpent, like Jormungandr or Tiamat or Nagga herself. But only death can pay for life, and this dying beast is about to give birth to a monster.

Then he heard a short sharp woof, as if someone had blown in his ear. Half a heartbeat later came the roar. The deck vanished beneath him, and black water smashed him across the face, filling his nose and mouth. He was choking, drowning. Unsure which way was up, Davos wrestled the river in blind panic until suddenly he broke the surface. He spat out water, sucked in air, grabbed hold of the nearest chunk of debris, and held on.

Swordfish and the hulk were gone, blackened bodies were floating downstream beside him, and choking men clinging to bits of smoking wood. Fifty feet high, a swirling demon of green flame danced upon the river. It had a dozen hands, in each a whip, and whatever they touched burst into fire. He saw Black Betha burning, and White Hart and Loyal Man to either side. Piety, Cat, Courageous, Sceptre, Red Raven, Harridan, Faithful, Fury, they had all gone up, Kingslander and Godsgrace as well, the demon was eating his own. Lord Velaryon’s shining Pride of Driftmark was trying to turn, but the demon ran a lazy green finger across her silvery oars and they flared up like so many tapers. For an instant she seemed to be stroking the river with two banks of long bright torches.

Sea dragon boats carrying banks of torches, like the fire the Drowned God brought from the sea. They’ve been given the living fire of the jade demon, and now they are all awesome burning boat sea dragon symbols! That will probably come as small consolation to the burning men leaping off of them, however.

Center-stage is the swirling demon of green flame, dancing upon the river. The horned moon is known to dance upon the river, and that’s who this fellow is – he’s the son of sun and moon, a horned devil version of Azor Ahai reborn as a green demon. He bears the fiery whip symbol that we also saw in the hands of the fiery vision of Khal Drogo rising from the pyre of the alchemical wedding, the one that cracked the dragon’s egg. Drogo, like the green demon here, also represent Azor Ahai reborn from burning wood as a being of fire. Here we have green fire and the burning water to denote the greenseer symbolism, whereas Drogo had the rising column of ash and the smokey stallion, the firestorm, and the thunderous hatching of the green egg, but the message of Azor Ahai’s fiery rebirth in the green see remains the same.

The line about the demon eating its own is another weirwood reference, since when a new greenseer hooks up to a weirwood tree, he is slowly being consumed by the tree, which harbors the spirits of his or her ancestors. We figured this out by thinking about the legend of the Rat Cook, who violated guest rite and was therefore transformed into a huge white rat with red eyes who was condemned to eat his offspring. White with red eyes is giveaway weirwood symbolism, and the principle of a weirwood consuming the descendants of the people already in the tree is the same.

Returning to the action, Davos, who has been thrown into the river and narrowly avoided drowning, grabs on to debris and is carried back toward the mouth of the river amidst all the fiery green chaos. We read that “the Blackwater itself seemed to boil in its bed, and burning spars and burning men and pieces of broken ships filled the air.” Look mommy, the bad men are flying! That’s the point of the burning ships as weirwoods metaphor, they enable you to possess the fire of the gods and fly. It’s not for everybody though, clearly.

Davos starts to think maybe he’ll survive, since he’s a strong swimmer and Salla’s ships are out in the bay proper. But then…

And then the current turned him about again, and Davos saw what awaited him downstream. The chain. Gods save us, they’ve raised the chain.

Where the river broadened out into Blackwater Bay, the boom stretched taut, a bare two or three feet above the water. Already a dozen galleys had crashed into it, and the current was pushing others against them. Almost all were aflame, and the rest soon would be. Davos could make out the striped hulls of Salladhor Saan’s ships beyond, but he knew he would never reach them. A wall of red-hot steel, blazing wood, and swirling green flame stretched before him. The mouth of the Blackwater Rush had turned into the mouth of hell.

And here we see the flaming weir spring to life. It’s the mouth of hell, so it’s both a weir stretching across the river and a portal to the fiery underworld. It’s functioning exactly like a weir here, catching the sea dragon boats and straining them out of the river current. Notice the terrific War for the Dawn language here: the flaming weir had already captured a dozen burning galleys – a dozen sea dragons, representing our Night’s Watch green zombies – and “the current was pushing others against them.” The river is pitting the others against a dozen burning sea dragons caught in the weir… it’s pretty terrific.

As I mentioned, the chain boom mouth of hell is only one of two flaming weir symbols spanning the river, with the other being the temporary bridge of ships, as it’s called. That is all in Tyrion’s chapter, and I will cover it another time when we are focusing on the bridge function of the weirwoods more specifically, but just know that it is there. I’ve interpreted a burning ship as symbolizing a sea dragon and thus a weirwood, so seeing a bridge – a weir – made out of burning ships seems like a confirmation of that interpretation. I will quickly note that on the other side of that bridge of ships from Kings Landing is the Kingswood, the same wood set on fire by Aegon the Unworthy’s wooden dragons.

I do have to pull this one line from Tyrion’s chapter, as it associates the wildfire and the green demon with green dragons:

A dozen great fires raged under the city walls, where casks of burning pitch had exploded, but the wildfire reduced them to no more than candles in a burning house, their orange and scarlet pennons fluttering insignificantly against the jade holocaust. The low clouds caught the color of the burning river and roofed the sky in shades of shifting green, eerily beautiful. A terrible beauty. Like dragonfire. Tyrion wondered if Aegon the Conqueror had felt like this as he flew above his Field of Fire.

The green fire is like the fire of the green dragon, and also like a burning house that burning people and burning ships live inside. That’s because the green dragon and the burning ships both represent the weirwoodnet, the “house of green fire” I guess you could call it.

There’s a line from a Sansa chapter that needs to be mentioned as well, as it has great green see wordplay:

The southern sky was aswirl with glowing, shifting colors, the reflections of the great fires that burned below. Baleful green tides moved against the bellies of the clouds, and pools of orange light spread out across the heavens. The reds and yellows of common flame warred against the emeralds and jades of wildfire, each color flaring and then fading, birthing armies of short-lived shadows to die again an instant later. Green dawns gave way to orange dusks in half a heartbeat. 

George is hitting us with an as-above-so-below thing straight out, and showing us baleful green tides and pools of orange light swirling in the sky. That’s a symbol of the green see also representing the cosmic ocean in the sky. Of course the idea of the heavens being on fire is loaded with mythical astronomy and is suggestive of Lucifer warring against God in the heavens. The green fire and red fire fight one another, birthing shadow warriors to fight one another like dawn and dusk. This is incredibly suggestive of the War for the Dawn, where we had black shadow Night’s Watchmen against white shadow Others.

Before we move on from Davos, we do have to mention a couple of bits from his ASOS chapter where he washes up on the Spears of the Merling King. First off, being fished out of the sea on the prongs of the Merling King’s spear is more weir talk, with the god of the green see himself plucking Davos out, akin to Sansa escaping King’s Landing on the boat named Merling King.

Recalling his escape from the green hellscape on the river by swimming under the chain boom while sitting on this rock, we see references to swimming through “green murk” and “green darkness,” emphasizing the water as the green see. Davos thinks that “In his dreams the river was still aflame and demons danced upon the waters with fiery whips in their hands, while men blackened and burned beneath the lash,” just to reemphasize the symbolism of the battle.

The important part is when delirious Davos begins to hear the voice of God after praying desperately to the Mother:

Perhaps it was only wind blowing against the rock, or the sound of the sea on the shore, but for an instant Davos Seaworth heard her answer. “You called the fire,” she whispered, her voice as faint as the sound of waves in a seashell, sad and soft. “You burned us … burned us … burrrrned usssssss.”

Davos is hearing the voice of the wooden statue of the mother that was burned on Dragonstone – one of the burning wooden sea dragon gods! This is the voice of dead Nissa Nissa in other words, which Davos hears as the whispering of the sea. But Nissa Nissa dies and becomes the green see, I am thinking, so this makes sense to see Davos hearing the voice of the mother while stranded in the “grey-green” sea.

Note the line about calling down the fire – this is like Nissa Nissa confronting Azor Ahai for his evil deed! It also highlights the key role of the Azor Ahai / Grey King mythology: calling down the fire of the gods and paying a terrible price. When someone on the ship that comes to rescue Davos calls up to ask who he is, he thinks “a smuggler who rose above himself, thought Davos, a fool who loved his king too much, and forgot his gods.” Standard Morningstar / Lucifer language here of rising too high, with a nod to Azor Ahai as a fool, such as with Dontos, Aegon Jinglebell, Cressen wearing Patchface’s helm, and a few others.

Alright, well as you can see, Davos and the Battle of the Blackwater is simply packed with under the see and sea dragon symbolism. It’s really impossible to break down without those things, which is why I have saved it for so long. At the heart of the matter is the unificaton of drowning and burning symbolism, neatly summed up by Davos later when he thinks of those who died at the Blackwater:

Drowned or burned, with my sons and a thousand others, gone to make a king in hell.

This is a nod to Azor Ahai as that demon king role, such as we saw with the green demon on the river. It’s also a nod to Azor Ahai having something to do with making the Others, and about the Others coming out of the green see (which they do). Most of all, it shows how drowning in the green see and burning with green fire or on a sea dragon boat are all getting at the same idea, which is Azor Ahai / the Grey King entering the weirwoodnet. Davos is our Azor Ahai figure drowning beneath the burning weir, and Tyrion will be undergoing face-carving and death transformation on the fiery bridge of ships in parallel fashion.

Now this whole idea of Azor Ahai being reborn in the sea is starting to make more sense, right? Same for the Grey King coming to and from the see… now this more than just cryptic folklore.

The Grey King wasn’t just reborn in the green see however – he also took a wife from the sea, didn’t he? A mermaid wife, I believe it was. But Azor Ahai took Nissa Nissa to wife, who was a weirwood goddess in our estimation, an elf woman who already had a link to the weirwoods. Of course if the green sea is a metaphor for the weirwoodnet, we can see that the tales match up after all – taking a wife from the sea means taking a woman from the trees, or from the forest. Describing her as a mermaid implies that this woman is a natural denizen of this see, a see-creature, just as you would think of the children of the forest as well, the natural residents of the forest.

That brings us to the symbolism of drowning moon maidens, who I have been comparing to mermaids for a long time. You may even recall that Nysa was an Okeanid water nymph in Greek Mythology, for example, which invites us to consider Nissa Nissa as a mermaid – but everything about the moon drownings and mermaids takes on new meaning now. A moon goddess who drowned? No, more like a Nissa Nissa weirwood goddess who died and went into the green see. We’re going to have a field day with Dany being reborn in the green Dothraki Sea in just a minute (see what I did there, field day, Dothraki sea…)

Goddess of the See

Those of you who have done Signs and Portals 1 and 2 will know that we’ve already stumbled upon a pattern of Nissa Nissa figures undergoing a death transformation during a Lightbringer forging scene followed by a journey to a watery underworld location, beginning with Sansa’s flight from King’s Landing in the aftermath of the Purple Wedding. Sansa doesn’t die at the Purple Wedding obviously, but rather disappears and transforms; you may recall the rumor about Sansa turning into a winged bat-wolf and flying away from a tower top, which embodies the symbolic death transformation.

In actuality, she fled through the godswood (i.e. into the weirwoodnet) and down into a “dragon underworld” location beneath the Red Keep, then climbed down the cliff face and escaped into the foggy and ethereal Blackwater Bay aboard the Merling King. This all makes more sense now – we already interpreted her flight through the godswood, where she pulls a deep green cloak from the bole of a tree, as a representation of Nissa Nissa fleeing into the weirwoods, but now we can see that her escape into the sea aboard the Merling King really drives the point home by showing Nissa Nissa fleeing into the see.

Sansa was faaaarrr from the only Nissa Nissa who fleas into the “see” after a symbolic death or symbolic Lightbringer forging scene, and they are all going to add even more confirmation to the basic theory of the Weirwood Goddess series, that Nissa Nissa went into the weirwoods. As we have discussed, Catelyn Stark was given the weirwood stigmata at the red wedding, which signifies her as a Nissa Nissa figure being sacrificed and sent inside the weirwoods… and of course right after this happens, Catelyn’s body is thrown “into the Green Fork in a savage mockery of House Tully’s funeral customs,” as Tyrion think to himself. It’s the same message as the stigmata: Nissa Nissa is dying and going into the green see. The comparison to the Tully rites triples down on the message, since that is trademark burning boat sea dragon stuff, as we know.

There’s another great reference to drowning in the green see connected to Catleyn that comes when she looks at Renly’s armor, and you may have thought of this one already, as it’s just so tremendously big and tremendously wet:

Beside the entrance, the king’s armor stood sentry; a suit of forest-green plate, its fittings chased with gold, the helm crowned by a great rack of golden antlers. The steel was polished to such a high sheen that she could see her reflection in the breastplate, gazing back at her as if from the bottom of a deep green pond. The face of a drowned woman, Catelyn thought. Can you drown in grief? 

Yikes. This green see stuff really hits you in the face, huh? Renly, the sacrificed green stag man who drowns in his own blood, has armor like a green pond. This is quite useful if you are a character in a fictional novel trying to foreshadow your own death and drowning, ha ha. Cat sees herself as a drowned woman in a green pond, then her corpse is thrown into the Green Fork. The thing is, Renly’s armor isn’t just described as a green pond – it’s called “forest green,” right in this same quote! Is it a green pond, or a green forest? Then in the very chapter where he died in front of Cat and Brienne, Cat observes his armor again and it’s described as a deep wood:

The king’s armor was a deep green, the green of leaves in a summer wood, so dark it drank the candlelight. Gold highlights gleamed from inlay and fastenings like distant fires in that wood, winking every time he moved.

Renly’s armor is like a deep green wood or a deep green pond, but those are really referring to the same thing: the green see of the weirwoods. The fires in the deep green wood are the same thing as the fire-in-the-sea motif of the sea dragon and the Drowned God carrying fire from the sea… and they’re winking at us like stars.

When Catelyn is resurrected as Lady Stoneheart, she is pulled out of the river and given back the fire of life by Beric, and then inhabits the famous weirwood cave in the Riverlands. You can see how the symbolism is working here, with her being pulled from the river serving as a visual depiction of her coming back from death and becoming a weirwood ghost / undead Nissa Nissa figure. Also note the Cerberus / guardian of the River Styx role played by Nymeria the direwolf, who was the one to fish Cat’s body from the river. It’s almost like Nymeria was granting permission for Catelyn to return from the land of the dead. It’s also a humorous call-out to Arya’s imagined Tully-Stark sigil as a wolf with a fish in its mouth.

Calling Catelyn a fish is obviously no accident, since House Tully has the trout as their sigil. Many have remarked that Catelyn’s fish associations, combined with her being thrown in the river, give her a grisly sort of mermaid symbolism. That’s absolutely correct, and sends the same message as the Grey King or Durran Godsgrief having mermaid wives: Nissa Nissa was a native of the green see, and went into the weirwoodnet when she died.

The Ghost of High Heart sums it up best, actually:

I dreamt of a roaring river and a woman that was a fish. Dead she drifted, with red tears on her cheeks, but when her eyes did open, oh, I woke from terror. 

 The red tears of the weirwood stigmata are nicely juxtaposed with Catelyn as a fish woman after the red Wedding. Catelyn is our signature weirwood goddess – her and Melisandre, that is – and Cat is indeed a kind of mermaid.

So what about Melisandre, you ask? Well, the first time we meet her is in Cressen’s ACOK prologue chapter, it says:

“Maester,” said Lady Melisandre, her deep voice flavored with the music of the Jade Sea. “You ought take more care.” As ever, she wore red head to heel, a long loose gown of flowing silk as bright as fire, with dagged sleeves and deep slashes in the bodice that showed glimpses of a darker bloodred fabric beneath. 

Oh, so her voice is flavored with the music of jade sea? You mean the green see? The children of the forest are actually “those who sing the song of earth,” making them singers of the green see. Melisandre’s voice is like the music of the green see… because Nissa Nissa was, in some sense, a “singer.” An elf woman. As a bonus, her “flowing silk as bright as fire” creates the image of garments made of liquid fire, and the blood-red fabric beneath suggests robes of flowing blood. Sounds like someone got some fire and blood in the jade green see here.

Then a few chapters later in ACOK, we get the burning of the Seven on Dragonstone, and Martin builds on the idea that her voice has the music of the Jade Sea by saying that “Melisandre sang in the tongue of Asshai, her voice rising and falling like the tides of the sea.” Again, this isn’t just ‘singer’ symbolism, but singer symbolism tied to the sea… and coming from a weirwood goddess.

Consider Davos rowing Melisandre into Storm’s End – here’s another scene which takes on new meaning now. Melisandre is a fire moon Nissa Nissa who has just taken the seed and life fires of Stannis and is now pregnant with a shadowbaby, and transits the pitch-black Shipbreaker Bay to her final destination.  This tracks very well to Sansa fleeing the red wedding through the godswood and into the Blackwater Bay aboard the Merling King. The hollow knights of dragon armor beneath the Red Keep that seem to come to life when Sansa passes by are the equivalent of Melisandre birthing the shadowbaby in the cavern, as I mentioned last time.

Mel transits the dark bay to Storm’s End – specifically to that cavern below the castle. Recalling our examination of Storm’s End during In a Grove of Ash, we saw that the white cliff face and the rising fist description of Storm’s End make it a rising ash cloud / weirwood symbol, and of course the castle was famous for is huge and ancient weirwood until Mel burned it, adding to Storm’s End’s weirwood symbolism. That fits with Melisandre entering through the watery cavern: the cavern evokes Bloodraven’s cavern since it’s below a weirwood symbol, and the sea flowing into the cave is simply bringing in the green see / greenseer symbolism. The shadowbaby itself represents the rebirth of Azor Ahai as the dark solar king, as I have been saying since early in the Bloodstone Compendium, and its birth in the watery cave is another depiction of Azor Ahai being reborn in the see. Note the sequence: a pregnant weirwood goddess goes into the weirwoodnet, and then gives birth to Azor Ahai reborn. It’s quite suggestive.

Ravenous Reader would also like me to point out that there is indeed a river in Bloodraven’s cave:

The caves were timeless, vast, silent. They were home to more than three score living singers and the bones of thousands dead, and extended far below the hollow hill. “Men should not go wandering in this place,” Leaf warned them. “The river you hear is swift and black, and flows down and down to a sunless sea. And there are passages that go even deeper, bottomless pits and sudden shafts, forgotten ways that lead to the very center of the earth. Even my people have not explored them all, and we have lived here for a thousand thousand of your man-years.”

Note the timeless caves reference – shout-out to Wizz the Smith and his “Hollow Hills: the Caves are Timeless” essay. That’s another example of the weirwoods existing outside of time. The sunless sea is a reference to a famous poem “Kubla Khan; or, A Vision in a Dream” by Samuel Taylor Colerige for those of you who want ot do a bit of further reading.

For our next drowning moon goddess Nissa Nissa figure who is symbolically entering the weirwoodnet, we have Ygritte. In Grey King and the Sea Dragon, we mentioned that when Jon is offered Winterfell and the Stark name by Stannis, the price is setting fire to the heart tree at Winterfell. While he is anguishing over the choice, he dreams of swimming with Ygritte in one of the hot pools beneath the heart tree:

When the dreams took him, he found himself back home once more, splashing in the hot pools beneath a huge white weirwood that had his father’s face. Ygritte was with him, laughing at him, shedding her skins till she was naked as her name day, trying to kiss him, but he couldn’t, not with his father watching. He was the blood of Winterfell, a man of the Night’s Watch. I will not father a bastard, he told her. I will not. I will not. “You know nothing, Jon Snow,” she whispered, her skin dissolving in the hot water, the flesh beneath sloughing off her bones until only skull and skeleton remained, and the pool bubbled thick and red.

Ygritte is of course a kissed-by-fire red-headed weirwood goddess figure, just like Cat, and here she is dissolving into the pool beneath the heart tree, which we can now see for a metaphor for merging with the weirwoods, and for the ego-dissolution which is necessary to join a hive mind. By filling the pool with her blood, it’s implied that the weirwood tree will drink her blood anyway, but the green sea / greenseer wordplay makes the meaning of her melting into the pond crystal clear. Ygritte “sheds her skins” and then her real skin melts, a depiction of Nissa Nissa as a skinchanger dying and going into the tree. She’s literally turning into “blood and bone,” the famous description of the coloring of the weirwoods, which is like taking weirwood stigmata to a whole new level.

Ygritte’s boiling also reminds us of Dany’s dreams of being immolated in dragonfire, with her flesh melting and sloughing off her bones in the same fashion. They are both dying Nissa Nissa figures, entering the sea of green fire, in a manner of speaking, and filling it with blood. They are losing their flesh – symbolic of their mortal life – to become only blood and bone, the look of a heart tree.

I’ve often said that the idea of Nissa Nissa opening the door to the weirwoodnet for Azor Ahai and all of mankind may go as far as Nissa Nissa essentially becoming the weirwoodnet as we know it by merging with the tree consciousness when she died. That is kind of implied here, as Ygritte’s blood transforms this mini-sea before the heart tree into a sea of moon blood. The sea IS Nissa Nissa, in other words. Sansa has a similar scene where she takes a hot bath and turns it bloody after that whole ridiculous scene where she gets her moon blood and tries to burn her entire mattress in the hearthfire, which you may recall from Bloodstone Compendium 3, Waves of Night and Moon Blood.

Jon’s dream of melting Ygritte in the pond is obviously a partial memory of the unforgettable “Jon and Ygritte cave scene,” where Jon discovers the “Lord’s Kiss” on pure instinct (attaboy, Jon). The key thing I want to point out is that Ygritte famously suggests to Jon that they stay in the cave forever:

They were soon fumbling and bumping into each other as they tried to dress in the dark. Ygritte stumbled into the pool and screeched at the cold of the water. When Jon laughed, she pulled him in too. They wrestled and splashed in the dark, and then she was in his arms again, and it turned out they were not finished after all.

Jon Snow,” she told him, when he’d spent his seed inside her, “don’t move now, sweet. I like the feel of you in there, I do. Let’s not go back t’ Styr and Jarl. Let’s go down inside, and join up with Gendel’s children. I don’t ever want t’ leave this cave, Jon Snow. Not ever.”

This scene has even more going on that you thought, huh? Once again we have the cave and water symbolism appearing together, which suggests a greenseer cave and the green see metaphor. Ygritte, a weirwood goddess, wants to trap Jon here in the weirwoodnet and join up with “children,” an obvious allusion to the dead children of the forest greenseers who inhabit the net. And once again we see the suggestion of copulation and reproduction inside the weirwoodnet.

The first time Jon and Ygritte hook up has amazing weirwood goddess symbolism, almost too much to believe when I found it just recently:

My vows, he’d thought, remembering the weirwood grove where he had said them, the nine great white trees in a circle, the carved red faces watching, listening. But her fingers were undoing his laces and her tongue was in his mouth and her hand slipped inside his smallclothes and brought him out, and he could not see the weirwoods anymore, only her. She bit his neck and he nuzzled hers, burying his nose in her thick red hair. Lucky, he thought, she is lucky, fire-kissed. “Isn’t that good?” she whispered as she guided him inside her.

Once again the technique of flashback is used to superimpose one symbol on top of another, like Jon and Ygritte on top of one another here, hah. Jon recalls the weirwood grove of nine circle as they copulate, placing them inside the weirwoods, and then as he enters the weirwood goddess, he “could not see the weirwoods anymore, only her.” This is Azor Ahai going into the weirwoods via some sort of magic ritual with Nissa Nissa. Here the sex serves as a metaphor for Azor Ahai entering the tree, but also may imply some sort of baby-sacrifice or magic child being involved, as we have discussed before.

Now, we have plenty more drowning moon goddess to examine and reexamine. Many of them are icy moon maidens dealing with blue pools and icy ponds, and we’ll tackle those another time. There are two more major Nissa Nissa, fire moon maiden characters left who have by far the most green see / moon drowning symbolism, and one of those, Asha Greyjoy, will be the in-depth section we will close the episode with, while the other is Daenerys, whose green see symbolism needs her own entire episode to discuss. The Asha stuff is just insane, so let’s get into that.

An Ocean of Leaves

Another great example of a Nissa Nissa character who drowns and enters the weirwoodnet is Asha Greyjoy in her Wayward Bride chapter. That’s right, it’s the Wayward Bride again. I told you this was my favorite chapter! The climax scene gives us the dichotomy as clear as day: Asha is backed up against a tree like a weirwood sacrifice, struck a lightning blow to the head, then catches a quick vision of a burning stag man in a dark wood before thinking of the Drowned God’s Watery Halls and losing consciousness.

I don’t want to pull the whole quotes again, since we’ve done that before, so I’ll just read the key phrases. Asha’s wooden shield is turning into “kindling” as the northman’s axe peels off “long pale splinters,” with the kindling suggesting burning wood and the long pale wooden pointy things suggesting Nagga’s fangs or ribs as you prefer. She’s dancing right and left, and “then her back came up hard against a tree, and she could dance no more.” Then “her feet were tangled in some roots, trapping her,” which is flagrant greenseer-trapped-in-the-weir symbolism (and remember Asha is a squid, meaning a sea creature). The blow to the head makes a “scream of steel,” giving us Nissa Nissa’s widow’s wail of agony and ecstasy, then “the world went red and black and red again” and “pain crackled up her leg like lightning,” giving us the dramatic mythical astronomy language and the reference to the Storm God’s Thunderbolt. She’s pinned to the tree when they are both struck by lightning – this really sounds like a blood magic killing of Nissa Nissa that somehow involves the moon meteors.

Then comes the reference to her going under the sea:

A trumpet blew. That’s wrong, she thought. There are no trumpets in the Drowned God’s watery halls. Below the waves the merlings hail their lord by blowing into seashells.

She dreamt of red hearts burning, and a black stag in a golden wood with flame streaming from his antlers.

This is a wonderous conflation of the sea and the woods: she’s almost dying in the actual woods, thinking she’s on her way to the watery halls, and dreaming of a wood –  a golden wood containing burning hearts and a black stag with fiery antlers. The burning stag man is a vision of resurrected Azor Ahai inside the weirwoodnet that matches resurrected Renly at the Blackwater, and a golden wood full of burning hearts is another of way of talking about burning trees and heart trees. So what we are seeing here is Asha as a Nissa Nissa sacrifice going into the fiery green see of the weirwoodnet, where we find Azor Ahai living inside her dream wood. This configuration again suggests the weirwoodnet as a dream of Nissa Nissa which the greenseers inhabit. Fans of Tad Williams’ Otherworld series might recognize this idea.

The conflation with the see and the woods actually runs all through this chapter, just as the moon drowning language appears no less than six times in this chapter, I believe I counted once. This chapter, more than any other, functions like a dissertation on the green see wordplay.

Check out this quote from early in the chapter:

The sea was closer, only five leagues north, but Asha could not see it. Too many hills stood in the way. And trees, so many trees. The wolfswood, the northmen named the forest. Most nights you could hear the wolves, calling to each other through the dark. An ocean of leaves. Would it were an ocean of water.

This Martin leading us, the horse, to water. The trees are like an ocean, he tells us. The sea was closer… but she could not see it. It’s pretty thick, and it continues as the chapter does:

I cannot go home, she thought, but I dare not stay here much longer. The quiet of the woods unnerved her. Asha had spent her life on islands and on ships. The sea was never silent. The sound of the waves washing against a rocky shore was in her blood, but there were no waves at Deepwood Motte … only the trees, the endless trees, soldier pines and sentinels, beech and ash and ancient oaks, chestnut trees and ironwoods and firs. The sound they made was softer than the sea, and she heard it only when the wind was blowing; then the sighing seemed to come from all around her, as if the trees were whispering to one another in some language that she could not understand. Tonight the whispering seemed louder than before. A rush of dead brown leaves, Asha told herself, bare branches creaking in the wind.

Is Asha writing a thesis on the similarities and differences of the woods to the ocean, or what? The whispering sound of the ocean of leaves is compared to the ocean proper, enhancing the correlation, but what’s interesting is that the whispering of the leaves is the communication of the greenseers, so again we have a conflation the idea of a green sea and greenseers. In the last paragraph, Asha describes being able to hear the wolves call to each other through the wood-that-is-like-an-ocean, which suggests the same thing. Asha passes off the whispering sounds as “a rush of dead leaves” and “bare branches creaking in the wind,” implying that the whisperings are coming from dead greenseers, which of course is right on the money.

One of the most outstanding lines in this chapter is the one where the trees seem to be attacking the moon, which I pointed previously as evidence that greenseers had something to do with pulling down the moon, as the Hammer of the Waters legend implies:

Deepwood was aptly named.  The trees were huge and dark, somehow threatening. Their limbs wove through one another and creaked with every breath of wind, and their higher branches scratched at the face of the moon. The sooner we are out of here, the better I will like it, Asha thought.  The trees hate us all, deep in their wooden hearts. 

Forgive me for using the same quote in multiple episodes, but there are some things we can pull from this now which we were not ready for last time.  First, Deepwood is aptly named, because if a forest is supposed to represent the sea, it needs to be deep, like the sea. Second, remember that these are the green sea trees which were whispering to one another in some secret language, and here they have wooden hearts, so now we can see that these trees really are intended to represent greenseers and heart trees. And here they are, antagonizing the moon with hatred in their wooden hearts.

As I mentioned, Asha is the moon maiden in this chapter, and the trees are equally antagonizing to her, both in this paragraph quoted here and in many others.  This really takes flight when the Northmen attacking Asha’s Ironborn dress up like trees to attack in stealth. Once again, we have green sea metaphors:

The wooden watchtower was the tallest thing this side of the mountains, rising twenty feet above the biggest sentinels and soldier pines in the surrounding woods. “There, Captain,” said Cromm, when she made the platform. Asha saw only trees and shadows, the moonlit hills and the snowy peaks beyond. Then she realized that trees were creeping closer. “Oho,” she laughed, “these mountain goats have cloaked themselves in pine boughs.” The woods were on the move, creeping toward the castle like a slow green tide. She thought back to 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.

First, notice that the tree-warriors coming from beneath the forest-ocean are a green tide. As I said, the forest-as-a-green-sea symbolism is rather persistent in this chapter. The trees appear to be moving, of course, because Stannis’s allies, the Mountain Clans of the north, have cloaked themselves in pine boughs. They’re “mountain goats,” implying them as horned lords hiding in the forest… in the weirwoodnet. Stannis sends the same image when Asha dreams of him as a black stag in a golden wood, as we just saw.

Asha’s recalling of the legend of the greenseers turning the trees to warriors could actually apply equally well to the Others or to the green zombies, since both seem to have come out of the weirwoodnet. That’s kind of a topic for another day, but we already know that green zombies, if they exist, come from the weirwoodnet, and the Others sure seem to as well. Notice what Asha sees when she looks out: trees, shadows, moonlight and snow. That’s a good description of the Others – they are white shadows that emerge from the “dark of the wood,” they are made of ice, and they shine with reflected moonlight. The sentinel trees and soldier pines add to the suggestion of tree warriors, so once again Martin is presenting an idea in multiple forms at the same time.

Jon Snow has a couple of wonderful green forest / green see clues in a couple of his scenes beyond the Wall that match the quotes from the Wayward Bride, and are equally explicit. They are less about anyone going into the weirwoodnet so much as what is in there and what may come out of it. The first is from ACOK:

A blowing rain lashed at Jon’s face as he spurred his horse across the swollen stream. Beside him, Lord Commander Mormont gave the hood of his cloak a tug, muttering curses on the weather. His raven sat on his shoulder, feathers ruffled, as soaked and grumpy as the Old Bear himself. A gust of wind sent wet leaves flapping round them like a flock of dead birds. The haunted forest, Jon thought ruefully. The drowned forest, more like it.

A drowned forest, with leaves like dead birds – but of course this simply suggests birds and trees with the spirits of the dead inside them, which is what we see in Bloodraven’s cave. The motif is emphasized again two paragraphs later when it says that “Up ahead a hunting horn sounded a quavering note, half drowned beneath the constant patter of the rain.” This is not only a drowned forest, it’s an undersea forest, and everything else here is drowned too… including the half-drowned horn of Joramun– I mean Jarman Buckwell. Under the sea, you’re supposed to be welcomed with horns, right? Isn’t that what Asha said?

Even better is this quote from a Jon chapter later in ACOK at the Fist of the First Men:

Closer at hand, it was the trees that ruled. To south and east the wood went on as far as Jon could see, a vast tangle of root and limb painted in a thousand shades of green, with here and there a patch of red where a weirwood shouldered through the pines and sentinels, or a blush of yellow where some broadleafs had begun to turn. When the wind blew, he could hear the creak and groan of branches older than he was. A thousand leaves fluttered, and for a moment the forest seemed a deep green sea, storm-tossed and heaving, eternal and unknowable.

Ghost was not like to be alone down there, he thought. Anything could be moving under that sea, creeping toward the ringfort through the dark of the wood, concealed beneath those trees. Anything. How would they ever know? He stood there for a long time, until the sun vanished behind the saw-toothed mountains and darkness began to creep through the forest.

The communication of the greenseers through the weirwoods is done through the rustling of the leaves, as we have seen many times. Thus, the wording here is very precise: a thousand leaves flutter, and that is when, for a moment, the forest seemed “a deep green sea.” The forest also goes on “as far as Jon can see,” another hint at the play on the words with see and sea.

As for what is really moving under that green sea, it turns out to be the Others and their army of wights. In the prologue of AGOT, the Others are shadows which “emerge from the dark of the wood,” and here Jon uses that exact phrase, “the dark of the wood,” interchangeably with “that sea” of trees. Later, Jon Snow refers to their attack on the Fist as “a tide of living dead men,” adding to the forest-as-sea imagery and drawing a link to the “green tide” of forest that seemed to be attacking Asha at Deepwood Motte. We’ve also seen that the Others have a ton of symbolism about icy ponds and frozen lakes, and they seem to parallel Dante’s Lucifer, who is trapped in a frozen lake until Armageddon. That’s obviously an idea we’ll follow up on, and you can see right away how the aquatic symbolism of the Others coming from the icy lake dovetails with the idea of them coming from the dark of the wood. For now I mention it only to see that the things moving beneath that sea are associated with greenseers, in my estimation.

Ghost is also said to be under that green sea, and Ghost has the exact coloring of a weirwood, as Jon notes to himself: blood and bone. He’s a weirwood ghost; of course he’s under the green see! The Others and Ghost as both referred to as white shadows, but unlike the Others, Ghost has eyes of hot red fire – they are called two red suns by Jon one time. This seems a clue that not everyone under the see is an Other – of course not, as we know Bran and Bloodraven are symbolically under the sea too. As I have mentioned, there seems to be different parts of the weirwoodnet, a part which is under the control of the Others and one which is not, at the very least.

Just to be clear, the reason why we look under the green forest sea and find both icy beings like the Others and their dead servants and a being whose symbolism implies fire like Ghost is because I believe that what we think of as ice and fire magic are both somehow tied to weirwood magic.  So far in the weirwood compendium we have been tracking down the connection between fire magic and greenseer magic, and as I said there is an entire line of evidence and symbolism linking the Others to greenseer magic. Obviously there is A LOT of under the sea symbolism to explore, and obviously the weirwoodnet is a complex place, with a lot going on that we have yet to learn about. But right away, just with the examples of Nissa Nissa moon maidens drowning or coming from the sea and the symbolism of Grey King and Azor Ahai being reborn in the sea, you can already see how the greenseer / green sea wordplay makes a ton of sense. It fits seamlessly with everything we have discovered in all of our research so far… and we haven’t even talked about Dany yet.

I’ll close with the freebie of freebiees: Sea Dragon Tower on Dragonstone, which has two relevant lines about it. It has a “turnpike star,” which reminds us of castle Pyke on the Iron Islands where we found all that sea dragon symbolism, and then there is this line from a Davos chapter of ASOS:

The towers were dragons hunched above the walls or poised for flight; the Windwyrm seemed to scream defiance, while Sea Dragon Tower gazed serenely out across the waves.

What is the See Dragon tower doing? Why, gazing, of course. It could be doing anything at all, and Martin chose to portray it as gazing out to see. A small detail, but a nice one.

See you next time!

To Ride the Green Dragon

Hello friends, patreon supporters, and myth heads of the starry host. It is I, Lucifer means Lightbringer, and I welcome you to Weirwood Compendium 5! Today’s general topic is Azor Ahai gaining access the weirwoodnet, and though we’ve talked about this before, today we’ll be saddling up the green dragon and riding deeper into the net than ever before. We’re also going to follow up on Weirwood Compendium 1: The Grey King and the Sea Dragon and make a bit more sense of the Ironborn mythology that we went deep on in that episode. The green dragon symbolism we will explore today will reinforce the idea of Azor Ahai as one who gained access to the weirwood hive mind, and it will build on the symbolism of the Storm God’s thunderbolt, the fiery and wrothful sea dragon, Grey King’s weirwood boat, his mermaid wife, and all the rest.Best of all, following the trail of the green dragon will eventually lead us under the sea itself, where we will discover a fantastic new symbolic metaphor that unravels quite a bit about the weirwoods and the greenseers.

To really get the most out of this episode, you should definitely have already read or listened to Weirwood Compendium 1 – 4, as well as the three Weirwood Goddess episodes. If it’s been a long time since you listened to the first four Weirwood Compendium episodes, I’d probably recommend re-listening to those before this one, as we will draw heavily from all of those episodes. It’s also not a bad idea to listen to the first two Signs and Portals episodes too, those are really fun anyway.

As you may have noticed, I’ve been droning on and on about this thing called the fire of the gods all throughout the weirwood compendium, and probably elsewhere. It’s the main theme which unites the Grey King and Azor Ahai myths: a Luciferian or Promethean pursuit of the fire of the gods. This “fire” seems to take two forms in ASOIAF: the moon meteors (of course) and the power of the weirwoods. The Grey King mythology, again and again, sends us the message that the Grey King possessed both. Then we discovered that there are burning ash tree symbols – meaning weirwood symbols – at every scene that depicts the destruction of the moon and the forging of Lightbringer. The inescapable conclusion is that there is some connection between these two forms of the fire of the gods, between the moon meteors falling to earth and man gaining access to the weirwoodnet. A connection between Azor Ahai’s blood magic ritual with Nissa Nissa, and the idea of Azor Ahai becoming a fiery greenseer who enters the weirwoodnet, quite possibly by force.

To put it simply, myths of Grey King and Azor Ahai both have them calling down the meteor fire from heaven, and through explorations of their symbolism, we’ve discovered that they both seem to be greenseers… or something. I always add a little caveat there because I am by no means sure that we are talking about the standard sort of greenseer. What I see is that Azor Ahai’s blood magic ritual with Nissa Nissa, the weirwood goddess, seems to have permanently altered the weirwoods in such a way so as to allow mankind access to the the hive mind / collective consciousness that we refer to as the weirwoodnet. Azor Ahai / the Grey King may have been the first human greenseer, or the first of a new kind of greenseer.

Bloodstone Compendium
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

Moons of Ice and Fire
I: Shadow Heart Mother
II: Dawn of the Others
III: Visenya Draconis
IV: The Long Night Was His to Rule
V: R+L=J, A Recipe for Ice Dragons

The Blood of the Other
–  Prelude to a Chill
I: A Baelful Bard & a Promised Prince
II: The Stark that Brings the Dawn
III: Eldric Shadowchaser
IV: Prose Eddard
V: Ice Moon Apocalypse

Sacred Order of Green Zombies
I: The Last Hero & the King of Corn
II: King of Winter, Lord of Death
III: The Long Night’s Watch

Weirwood Compendium
I: The Grey King & the Sea Dragon
II: A Burning Brandon
III: Garth of the Gallows
IV: In a Grove of Ash
V: To Ride the Green Dragon

Weirwood Goddess
I: Venus of the Woods
II: It’s an Arya Thing
III: The Cat Woman Nissa Nissa

Signs and Portals
I: Veil of Frozen Tears
II: Sansa Locked in Ice

Now in PODCAST form!

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As we know, obtaining the fire of the gods always comes with a cost – indeed, in Martin’s world, all magic comes with a cost, and to be honest, I think Martin is more interested in exploring and writing about the cost of magic than magic itself. Azor Ahai seems to have underwent transformation, most likely an actual death transformation, as we have seen in past episodes. The Grey King, who lived for a thousand years and became as grey as a corpse, almost certainly underwent transformation through his possession of the fire of the ‘Storm God’ and the sea dragon, however many different things that concept may refer to. One thing is quite clear: possessing the living fire of the gods will always change you irrevocably, for better or worse.

With both Azor and the Grey King, this transformation process seems to have been initially triggered by the moon meteors, the more literal manifestation of the fire of the gods. Azor Ahai represents the sun, which was turned dark by the smoke of the meteor impacts, and in the legend itself, Azor Ahai supposedly becomes a hero and forges Lightbringer when the moon cracks. In the Grey King myth, it is the thunderbolt which sets the tree on fire. If the burning tree represents the weirwoods and the thunderbolt represents the meteor fire from heaven, we are left with the idea that the meteor impact had some effect on the weirwoods, and that it enabled the Grey King to obtain the divine fire.

Most of all, the burning tree represents the weirwoods in an activated state which can transfer the fire of the gods to man. We know that to attain this weirwood fire, the greenseer must join himself to the tree, so really we can say the burning tree in the Grey King myth represents the tree joined to the greenseer. That’s why we have trees with hands and faces and people who turn into trees. It’s a symbiotic relationship which flows both ways… and somehow it was set on fire.

As always, thanks to George. R. R. Martin for writing ASOIAF, and thanks most of all to our generous and loyal patrons, whose support enables me do Mythical Astronomy. If you enjoy the podcast and have the means, please consider joining the starry host and propelling the show onward and upward.

Finally, I’ve launched a separate channel for the Between 2 Weirwoods live panel discussion show, just to sort of keep things separate, and also to safeguard against future YouTube shenanigans, since if one channel has an issue, I’ll have the other as a backup. Please be sure to subscribe to the channel to so you will get a YouTube notification when we go live. Thanks everyone, and here we go!

What a friendly green dragon!

Hey Are You Going to Burning Man?

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That brings us to the point where we left off at the end of the Grey King and the Sea Dragon episode, where we were talking about the symbol of the burning tree and discussing scenes where, right smack in the middle of Lightbringer forging metaphors, we seem to have fiery sorcerers waking from burning wood and burning trees. We looked back over many of the most prominent Lightbringer forging scenes in the books, and we found that indeed, burning wood seems to pretty consistently trigger flames which are described as either fiery dancers or a fiery sorcerers. Just as I interpret the burning tree as a weirwood joined to a greenseer, I interpret these fiery sorcerers that wake from the burning wood as representing greenseers who have undergone some kind of transformation process associated with fire. They are two different ways of getting at the same idea: a fiery sorcerer merged with a tree.

Because these fiery sorcerers and dancers always appear right when Lightbringer is forged, we can deduce that they are an important part of the larger Lightbringer picture. And all of that fits very well with the idea that the Storm God’s thunderbolt was a moon meteor which somehow created the burning tree, or perhaps we might say, the “burning tree sorcerer.”

The hallmark of all of these fiery sorcerers and dancers awoken from trees are robes of red, yellow, and orange fire, and sometimes smokey cloaks. The all seem to model the clothing of the red priests of R’hllor, who are, of course, actual fire sorcerers who dress in red, yellow, and orange attire designed to look like writhing flames, with some going so far tattoo their entire faces with masks of flame. Melisandre in particular is always described in these terms, with robes, hair, and even eyes that look like flame, and indeed, Melisandre is actually undergoing some kind of transformation where she is no longer sustained by sleep and food, but instead by the “power of R’hllor,” which means fire magic. In other words, there appears to be a literal truth behind the idea of a sorcerer who is “fire made flesh,” which is what all of these scenes clearly imply.

Listing in brief, those scenes were:

1.) The Alchemical Wedding scene in AGOT, where Daenerys woke her dragons.  We got both the fiery dancers and sorcerers in this one. First it said that “the flames writhed before her like the women who had danced at her wedding, whirling and singing and spinning their yellow and orange and crimson veils, fearsome to behold, yet lovely, so lovely, alive with heat,” and then speaks of flames which appearedeach one a sorcerer robed in yellow and orange and scarlet, swirling long smoky cloaks.”

We also had logs exploding as the fire touched their secret hearts, with the idea being that logs with hearts and secrets evoke the heart trees, and being touched by fire suggests the burning tree of the Grey King. That tree was set ablaze by the thunderbolt which I claim to be a meteor dragon, and accordingly, the secret hearts of the logs in Drogo’s pyre are touched by fire right at the moment that one of the dragon’s eggs (the green one as a matter of fact) cracked open with a sound “loud and sharp as thunder.”

Last but not least in that scene, Dany saw the reborn spirit of Drogo rising through the flames, an he was wearing the familiar fiery regalia:

His clothing took fire, and for an instant, the khal was clad in wisps of floating orange silk and tendrils of curling smoke, grey and greasy.

This is highly significant, as Drogo’s reborn spirit, which Dany associates with the red comet, is a fairly straightforward manifestation of the reborn solar king, and that is exactly whom I believe the fire sorcerer woken from the burning tree is: Azor Ahai reborn.

2.) The burning of the Seven at Dragonstone in ACOK, where Mel and Stannis do their little Lightbringer reenactment. The “morning air was dark with the smoke of burning gods,” meaning that this bonfire is literally “the fire of the gods…”  haha. And then it says that “the burning gods cast a pretty light, wreathed in their robes of shifting flame, red and orange and yellow.” 

Those burning gods were wooden ones, made from the old wood of the masts of the ships which first brought the Targaryens to Dragonstone. Ships owned by Targaryens are dragon ships, and since the sea dragon’s bones turned out to have been a weirwood boat, we can see all dragon boats as symbols of the sea dragon – especially when they catch on fire. The fact they are not only burning wooden ships, but burning wooden gods spells out the idea that they posses the fire of the gods, as the Sea Dragon and burning tree of Grey King mythology do. And indeed, the burning statues of the seven are made from masts, and are thus also symbolizing trees – burning trees, like the one in the Grey King myth which really refers to the weirwoods. To make matters worse, Stannis literally pulls Lightbringer from the burning wooden sea dragon gods, clueing us in to the idea that all of this is tied to Azor Ahai and Lightbringer… the other form of the fire of the gods.

These first two scenes – the Alchemical Wedding and the burning of the Seven – are probably the most vivid and complete Lightbringer forging metaphor scenes in the series to date, and they both contain clear depictions of our fire sorcerers emerging from burning wood.

3.) Arya, Yoren, and the Night’s Watch recruits in the abandoned holdfast near Harrenhall, besieged by Ser Amory Lorch. The soldiers were depicted as having fiery armor and swords, while the flames themselves were personified as people, dragons, fiery fingers, and the like.  The payoff line was:

Arya saw a tree consumed, the flames creeping across its branches until it stood against the night in robes of living orange.

Obviously that’s a tasty one because it literally gives us the burning tree, dressed as a fire sorcerer, with the fiery soldiers in this scene reinforcing the idea of people made of fire. Harrenhall itself is a tremendous symbol of the destroyed second moon, as I’ve mentioned a few times – it’s black stone burnt by dragonfire, it was built by someone with “black blood” as Harren’s line was called, and it’s currently haunted by fiery ghosts, to name a few examples. Additionally, because Black Harren cut down weirwoods to make the rafters and beams of Harrenhall, when Aegon the Conqueror set fire to the place with Balerion’s black fire, we did have burning weirwood symbolism going on. The God’s Eye is an even more amazing bundle of symbolism which leads us to the eye of Odin and thus to greenseers, so the location of this burning tree wearing the robes of fire is highly significant in its own right.

4.) Jon and Qhorin Halfhand in the Frostfangs in ACOK, right before they are caught by wildlings and Jon is forced to kill Qhorin.

Jon went to cut more branches, snapping each one in two before tossing it into the flames. The tree had been dead a long time, but it seemed to live again in the fire, as fiery dancers woke within each stick of wood to whirl and spin in their glowing gowns of yellow, red, and orange.

This quote is especially notable for its flagrant incorporation of resurrection into the mix – the tree had been dead a long time, but seemed to live again in the fire. A resurrected fire sorcerer may be exactly how we are supposed to think of Azor Ahai – one who wakes from a burning tree, or perhaps we might say that he lives again by merging with the symbolic burning tree known as the weirwood. By the way, if Jon is resurrected on a weirwood funeral pyre in TWOW… well it sure would be neat-o, wouldn’t it?

After all, the other time we see a ranger burned on a pyre, this happens:

Sam was red-eyed and sick from the smoke. When he looked at the fire, he thought he saw Bannen sitting up, his hands coiling into fists as if to fight off the flames that were consuming him, but it was only for an instant, before the swirling smoke hid all.

That’s kind of the ultimate point of the burning people and sorcerers emerging from these pyres: sure, one of them is Azor Ahai, but the rest are probably the Last Hero’s group of green zombie Night’s Watchmen, who are most likely fire-undead people similar to Beric, or similar to how Jon will be after he’s resurrected. You will hopefully remember the important parallels between the Beric Dondarrion the burning, undead scarecrow and the burning scarecrow Night’s Watch brothers in Jon’s Azor Ahai dream, as that was one of the big clues that the last hero’s companions are fiery undead, what George R. R. Martin has called “fire wights.” Their resurrection also seems to have something to do with the weirwoods, or with being skinchangers like Jon, so it makes a lot of sense to associate this group of fiery people who emerge from the burning trees we see at the Lightbringer forging scenes.

In fact, the burning scarecrow brothers are tremendous symbols of burning tree people in their own right: they are made of wicker and straw, and they are mounted on a vertical wooden pole. When they are set on fire, they become a burning tree person wearing robes of fire, very like Arya’s burning tree that wears robes of living fire.

So those are the first four examples of symbolic fiery sorcerers, with the fifth being moon dancer the green dragon (whom we’ll talk about in a moment). But wouldn’t ya know it, since I wrote that essay I found more examples of the phenomena! One of them was at Daznak’s pit, where Dany mounts Drogon for the first time and flies away from a pit of fire and blood and death. This scene is in many ways a mirror to the alchemical wedding, so it figures to see fiery sorcerers here. In fact, Dany’s recollection of Daznak’s begins with a comparison to the alchemical wedding! She’s thinking back to the moment of walking into the pyre, and it says:

The fire burned away my hair, but elsewise it did not touch me. It had been the same in Daznak’s Pit. That much she could recall, though much of what followed was a haze. So many people, screaming and shoving.

Skipping forward a few lines, it says:

She remembered the dragon twisting beneath her, shuddering at the impacts, as she tried desperately to cling to his scaled back. The wounds were smoking. Dany saw one of the bolts burst into sudden flame. Another fell away, shaken loose by the beating of his wings. Below, she saw men whirling, wreathed in flame, hands up in the air as if caught in the throes of some mad dance.

It’s the standard formula: a dragon hatches as our incarnation of Lightbringer being forged, and at the scene we find a lot of fire, death, blood, and of course, people wreathed in flame and doing some sort of shamanic mad dance. You may also notice the dragon is struck by wooden “bolts” from a crossbow which smoke and burst into flame, evoking the thunderbolt and the burning tree imagery.

Perhaps even better, I found a little something about burning tree dragons which I think fits here. TWOIAF tells us about one of the folly of King Aegon IV Targaryen, also known as Aegon the Unworthy, who apparently fancied himself as some sort of Westerosi Leonardo Da Vinci, inventing all sorts of crazy contraptions and whatnot. In an effort to conquer Dorne, which was still unconquered in his day, Aegon the Unworthy commanded his pyrmomancers to “build me dragons,” which TWOIAF describes as “wood-and-iron monstrosities fitted with pumps that shot jets of wildfire.” His foolish plan was to bring them down the Boneway to attack Dorne. But…

They did not come even that far however, for the first of the dragons went up in flames in the kingwood, far from the Boneway.  Soon all seven were burning. Hundreds of men burned in those fires along with almost a quarter of the kingwood. 

Although we do not have any burning sorcerers, we do have burning men, burning wooden dragons, and the burning trees in the kingswood. The line about “soon all seven were burning” is very, very similar to the phrasing in the burning of the Seven scene on Dragonstone, where the things being burnt were also wooden dragons after a fashion, being seven wooden gods made from the masts of Targaryen ships, which are wooden dragons and therefore sea dragon symbols. The phrase “kingswood” suggests that the burning trees belong to a king, and this in turn makes us think of the Grey King’s burning tree. Going further, the trees in the kingswood belong to a dragon king, just as the Grey King is a Sea Dragon King and possibly Azor Ahai himself.

Essentially, we have the same idea presented twice, side-by-side: the dragon king’s trees and the dragon king’s wooden dragons burn together, giving us a reference to both Grey King fire myths, the sea dragon and the burning tree.

What makes all of this corroborate even more strongly to the Grey King myths is that the whole wooden dragon idea which gave us a forest full of burning trees was actually Aegon’s second attempt to invade Dorne, and his first attempt also parallels both Grey King fire myths! It comes in the paragraph prior to the last one we pulled from TWOIAF:

Fortunately for the realm, the king’s plans to invade Dorne in 174 AC proved a complete failure. Though his grace built a huge fleet, thinking to succeed as Daeron the Young Dragon had done, it was broken and scattered by storms on its way to Dorne.

In other words, we have sea dragons in the form of ships owned by Targaryens – a reference to the idea of a “sea dragon” and the specific theory that the bones of the sea dragon Nagga are actually the fossilized remains of a weirwood boat hull. Additionally, the wooden sea dragons were destroyed by storms, which serves as a reference to the other Grey King myth, that of the Storm God’s thunderbolt which set the tree on fire.

Last but not least, the idea of the dragon trying to attack Dorne with these various symbols of the sea dragon and the thunderbolt works as a parallel to the idea of the Hammer of the Waters moon meteor striking Dorne. It’s kind of like when moon-maiden Myrcella Baratheon/Lannister is sent down to Sunspear with ships named “King Robert’s Hammer” and “Lionstar,” a symbolic depiction of moon maidens, fiery stars, and hammers from the storm god falling on the Arm of Dorne.

There’s one last set of parallels between Aegon the Unworthy and the the Grey King. The Grey King was said to have left behind one hundred sons who engaged in “an orgy of kinslaying until only sixteen remained,” just as Aegon the Unworthy famously legitimized his bastards on his deathbed and in doing so doomed the realm to five generations of Blackfyre rebellions, which certainly orgies of kinslaying and tragedy. At the end of his life, Aegon sounds a bit like a greenseer chained up to the weirwood roots:

He was grossly fat, barely able to walk, and some wondered how his last mistress—Serenei of Lys, the mother of Shiera Seastar—could ever have withstood his embraces. The king himself died a horrible death, his body so swollen and obese that he could no longer lift himself from his couch, his limbs rotting and crawling with fleshworms.

Aegon the Unworthy is actually Bloodraven’s father, and Bloodraven’s mother is mentioned here as well – Serenei of Lys.  Besides the grossly fat thing, Aegon seems to be symbolizing a greenseer like Bloodraven. At the end he cannot leave his couch, as a greenseer cannot leave his throne, and the fleshworms crawling through his rotting limbs are a call-out to the white weirwood roots that pierce Bloodraven’s rotting skin, which Bran describes as graveworms.

All of this – the parallels to a greenseer chained to a throne, the simulation the Grey King myths in his attacks on Dorne – seem to act as corroboration that the Grey King was indeed a dragon person, which is another way of saying the Grey King is either Azor Ahai or one of his kind. Oh yes, and don’t forget – just as I believe that Azor Ahai’s Lightbringer was a black sword, and just as the ancient Ironborn were said to wield sorcererous, soul-drinking black weapons, King Aegon the wormy possessed the Targaryen ancestral sword, Blackfyre, a black, magical sword in its own right. Aegon the Unworthy also gave birth to the line of rebel dragons known as Blackfyres when he gave the sword to Daemon Waters, who became Daemon Blackfyre. Meaning, he has one usurper son with a black fire sword and another son who was a dragon-blooded greenseer who commanded the Night’s Watch. That’s, uh, a lot of symbolism. Bet let’s keep moving.

There was one other example of a fiery being wearing fiery robes from the Grey King and the Sea Dragon episode, and it’s the one we are going to expand on the most. It wasn’t a bonfire or a burning tree which looks human… it was a green dragon, Moondancer.

During one of the epic dragon-on-dragon battles in the Targaryen civil war known as The Dance of the Dragons, the dragons Moondancer and Sunfyre collided in the skies over Dragonstone in a wonderful demonstration of the ‘moon wandering too close to the sun” and “sun and moon merge as one” aspects of the Lightbringer fable.  They slam into each other violently, then tumble from the sky, burning and bleeding like the bleeding stars of fire which the dragons represent. Their flames light up the sky like a “second sun,” and Moondancer becomes “robed in fire and smoke,” the trademark garb of the dancing fire sorcerers.   Moondancer only becomes robed in fire after she kisses the sun and drinks its fire – the name of the dragon, Sunfyre, literally spells this out – so this really is a pretty exact and detailed depiction of the chain of events of Lightbringer’s forging.

Since we looked at this scene in Weirwood Compendium One, we’ve discovered the archetype of the weirwood goddess, who is always marked by the “weirwood stigmata” which makes her look like a weirwood tree: bloody hands, bloody mouth or a “red smile” throat wound, bloody or red eyes, and bloody or red hair. We can see that that our green moon dancing dragon is “blind and bloody” as she joins Sunfyre in a deathgrip during their fall.

In other words, she’s a moon dragon figure getting weirwood stigmata in the moment she joins with the solar dragon, just like Thistle getting the stigmata when Varamyr’s spirit enters her body. You’ll recall that Thistle did a mad dance as well, as it says “her legs jerked this way and that in some grotesque dance as his spirit and her own fought for the flesh.”

This is more confirmation of the idea that the meteors “set the weirwoodnet on fire” by altering them so that man could enter, because our weirwood goddesses always gain their bloody faces when the fiery greenseer spirits enter them. Moondancer fairly literally drinks the fire of Sunfyre and gains the stigmata. Once again we see that the weirwood tree symbol is created when two things merge together – sun and moon, greenseer spirit and tree.

The name Moondancer specifically calls out to the fiery dancers which appeared in the flames during Jon’s and Dany’s wood-burning scenes that we just discussed, and conveniently links them to the moon which cracked from the heat of the sun. And once again, the fiery sorcerer seems to be Azor Ahai reborn in this scene. Azor Ahai senior is Sunfyre, and Nissa Nissa is Moon Dancer, but Azor Ahai reborn is the child of both and is thus represented by their merging, which lights up the sky like a second sun – the son’s son, like Quentyn Martell as the son of Dorne. Accordingly, post-collision Sunfyre and Moondancer both show us Azor Ahai reborn symbolism after they collide: Sunfyre has one eye torn out, making giving one-eyed Odin/Bloodraven symbolism, and he also has severe neck wounds where Moondancer bit him, simulating the hanging wound of Odin which we also see with Beric and a few Others. As for Moondancer, well, she’s a fiery, dancing green dragon born of the sun and moon manifesting weirwood stigmata who’s wearing the signature fiery robes of the fiery sorcerers we’ve been following. The stigmata and the fiery robes both imply transformed moondancer as entering the weirwoodnet.

Given the presence of this greenseer symbolism, the fact that the dragon is green does seem like it might be a clue about a dragon-person who is a greenseer. I introduced this green dragon idea in the Grey King episode, but let’s follow up on it now and take a look at the green dragon that we have in the main story, Rhaegal, as well as a few other green dragon ideas, and see if there are any clues about greenseer dragon people. Spoiler alert; there are such clues, chuckle chuckle. The trail of the green dragon slithers this way and that, so we’ll be side-branching into topics such as Quentyn the Dragontamer, the crannogmen and extinct houses of the Riverlands, Dany’s unfortunate son Rhaego, and we’ll also return to the familiar scene of the Alchemical Wedding to harvest some new symbolic gold. We might even find ourselves lost in a dark forest if we are not careful.

A Thunderous Dragon

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The first clue about green dragons and fiery greenseers comes at the Alchemical Wedding, and I just mentioned it: it was the green egg, Rhaegal’s egg, which cracked “as loud and sharp as thunder.” This creates a potential parallel between the thunderbolt / burning tree myth and the thunderous awakening of the green dragon. That was also the moment when the fire touched the “secret hearts” of the burning logs, which again evokes the thunderbolt setting fire to the heart trees of the weirwoodnet. Twice in one paragraph, the green dragon’s awakening is tied to the thunderbolt and the burning tree, myths which we now understand to refer to mankind gaining access to the weirwoodnet. That’s a great tip-off that the green dragon is a symbol tied to greenseeing and, obviously, dragons.

Baby Rhaegal

Rhaegal the green dragon is named for Mr. Dead Prince Charming himself, Rhaegar Targaryen, as Daenerys tells us in ACOK:

I would name them for all those the gods have taken.  The green one shall be Rhaegal, for my valiant brother who died in the green banks of the Trident.

Rhaegar is of course a prime symbol of the black dragon aspect of the Azor Ahai reborn archetype, so the idea of him being reborn as Rhaegal suggests Azor Ahai being reborn as a green dragon, whose awakening is like thunder. Rhaegar was struck down and transformed by the Storm King’s Hammer, a great analog to the Storm God’s thunderbolt which transformed the Grey King. The idea of a black dragon becoming a green dragon through the Storm God’s strike would again seem to suggest that Azor Ahai’s calling down the thunderbolt meteor fire may have allowed him access to the weirwoodnet – it may have enabled him to become a greenseer.

Rhaegar’s death also parallels the slaying of the Sea Dragon myth of course, because Rhaegar is knocked off of his horse – out of the heavens in other words – and then falls into the River Trident. That’s a drowning moon meteor symbol, and his fabled rubies tell the same story, flashing like fire before dropping into the water. The rubies are sometimes pulled out of the water, it should be noted, just as the Ironborn myth implies that they harvested meteor stone from the sea, perhaps in the form of the Seastone Chair itself. Setting the oily black chair aside, which is probably really hard to do since it’s probably really heavy, the point is that Rhaegar’s death acts as the beginning of his symbolic transformation into Rhaegal the green dragon, and it parallels both of the Grey King fire-stealing myths, the thunderbolt and sea dragon legends.

Heck, even the fact that the battle happened in the River “Trident” names it as a sea battle: it’s a battle in a river for domination of the “Trident,” the traditional symbol of the sea god’s power.

Getting back to the naming of Rhaegal the green dragon, we should note that this was actually Dany’s second attempt at naming someone or something after Rhaegar: the first was her own unborn child, whom she named Rhaego. He was supposed to be the Stallion Who Mounts the World, but was born dead in the tent of dancing shadows. Rheago’s symbolism, however, is quite intriguing and parallels that of the green dragon Rhaegal in many ways which are suggestive of greenseer dragons.

The giving of the prophecy of the Stallion Who Mounts the World starts is a big Rhaego scene, but it starts with Dany. This is her weirwood stigmata scene. She’s eating the heart of the wild stallion, which represents her as the moon eating the comet, or receiving Azor Ahai’s fiery sword, or in the reproduction context, she’s receiving the fiery dragon seed of the solar king. That’s what this ceremony is about, creating favorable omens for Rhaego, her unborn child. Check her out as a pregnant moon full of moon blood:

Her handmaids had helped her ready herself for the ceremony. Despite the tender mother’s stomach that had afflicted her these past two moons, Dany had dined on bowls of half-clotted blood to accustom herself to the taste, and Irri made her chew strips of dried horseflesh until her jaws were aching.

There’s definitely heavy weirwood stigmata happening:

No steel was permitted within the sacred confines of Vaes Dothrak, beneath the shadow of the Mother of Mountains; she had to rip the heart apart with teeth and nails. Her stomach roiled and heaved, yet she kept on, her face smeared with the heartsblood that sometimes seemed to explode against her lips.

Bloody hands and mouth, just like the weirwoods
Eating flesh and drinking blood, just like the weirwoods

She’s the spitting image of a weirwood tree, bloody hands and mouth, devouring raw flesh.  Immediately after, her stigmata is spelled out again, and she declares herself pregnant, which reemphasizes the horse-heart eating as the impregnation of the moon and the weirwoods with Azor Ahai’s fire:

And finally it was done. Her cheeks and fingers were sticky as she forced down the last of it. Only then did she turn her eyes back to the old women, the crones of the dosh khaleen.

“Khalakka dothrae mr’anha!” she proclaimed in her best Dothraki. A prince rides inside me! She had practiced the phrase for days with her handmaid Jhiqui.

The oldest of the crones, a bent and shriveled stick of a woman with a single black eye, raised her arms on high. “Khalakka dothrae!” she shrieked. The prince is riding!

Then “a deep-throated warhorn sounded its long low note,” which gives us the ubiquitous magic horn symbol that we still have yet to explore fully, but which I have hinted at being connected to the idea of magic sound in general and Nissa Nissa’s cry that broke the moon. In any case, after the hornblast, we see a terrific example of the “rising column of smoke and ash as a weirwood tree” symbol that we sketched out in In a Grove of Ash.

The eunuchs who served them threw bundles of dried grasses into a great bronze brazier, and clouds of fragrant smoke rose up toward the moon and the stars. The Dothraki believed the stars were horses made of fire, a great herd that galloped across the sky by night. As the smoke ascended, the chanting died away and the ancient crone closed her single eye, the better to peer into the future.

It’s no accident that we get one-eyed Odin symbolism and an attempt to peer into the future in the same paragraph with the clouds of holy smoke ascending up toward the moon and stars. This is a nod to the burning ash tree / mushroom cloud symbolism that we often see at Lightbringer bonfires. The reference to the smoke rising to the stars and moon seals the deal; this is definitely a ground zero, impact-zone bonfire, the ones which clouded the sky with smoke during the Long Night. Together with Dany getting the stigmata and the symbolic impregnation here, we can see that this is a great depiction of “going into the weirwoodnet” symbolism mixed with Lightbringer forging / moon impregnation symbolism.

With all that said, we then get the prophecy of the Stallion Who Mounts the World, who is supposed to be Rhaego. The very notion of a stallion who mounts the world should absolutely make us think of Yggdrasil as “Odin’s horse,” since it is a tree which serves as a symbolic horse which allows Odin to traverse the nine realms of the universe. That’s astral projection, a sort of flying between the worlds and over the world… the idea of a stallion who “mounts the world” may well be playing on this, since the greenseers are already imitating Odin and “mounting” the weirwoods in the exact same way that Odin mounts Yggdrasil.

This is a “Rhaego is a greenseer” clue, in other words, and we get another one when the one-eyed crones says “I have seen his face, and heard the thunder of his hooves.” That’s a great match for Rhaegal‘s egg cracking as loud and sharp as thunder – the arrivals of both Rhaego and Rhaegal are heralded by thunder, in other words.

The crone also says that Rhaego will ride “as swift as the wind” and will be “as fierce as a storm,” once again evoking the Storm God and his thunderbolt.  Rhaegal does this too; when Quentyn Martell tosses a sheep to the Rhaegal in the pit below the pyramid of Meereen in his mad attempt to steal a dragon, Rhaegal snatches the sheep in mid-air:

His head snapped round, and from between his jaws a lance of flame erupted, a swirling storm of orange and yellow fire shot through with green.

Rhaego the Stallion Who Mounts rides as fierce as the storm, Rhaegal the dragons belches a firestorm, both of which remind us of the Storm God’s fire that creates burning trees.

Then we have Daenerys Stormborn, who is fire made flesh, and “step into the firestorm, calling to her children” at the alchemical wedding, right after the green egg hatches like thunder and the fire touches the secret hearts of the wooden logs. This is the green dragon’s egg and everything here is about storm and thunder, so again, this is the thunderbolt coming from the moon and setting fire to the tree, with Dany herself serving as the fire sorcerer emerging from the burning wood, possessing the fire of the storm.

Similarly, Rhaego “The Stallion Who Never Was” also manifests clear fire sorcerer symbolism. Although Rhaego never lived outside the womb, we do get a glimpse of what he would have been in Dany’s ‘wake the dragon’ dream in AGOT, which she has in the tent with Mirri and the dancing shadows as she gives birth to Rhaego:

She could feel the heat inside her, a terrible burning in her womb.  Her son was tall and proud, with Drogo’s copper skin and her own silver-gold hair, violet eyes shaped like almonds. And he smiled for her and began to lift his hand towards hers, but when he opened his mouth the fire poured out.  She saw his heart burning through his chest, and in an instant he was gone, consumed like a moth by a candle, turned to ash.  

Rhaego, for a moment, takes on the burning man persona – oversized goggles, silver spandex biker shorts, nipple rings, and a bedazzled fedora – wait, no, not that burning man, I’m talking about Rhaego as a person made of fire of course, a burning man. Take note of the burning heart, a callout to R’hllor’s fiery heart symbol. Rhaego is consumed by the fire, implying death; but since we are led to believe that Rhaego’s spirit or life force has somehow gone into the dragons or awakened the dragons – “only death can pay for life” being the operating principle here – we should also see this is a fiery death transformation.  A burning man that awakens the green dragon or becomes the green dragon.

The same idea is implied with the line about Rhaego being “turned to ash” – he’s an Azor Ahai figure who undergoes a fiery death transformation and ends up inside the weirwoods, the ASOIAF version of the great ash tree Yggdrasil. After all, the one-eyed crone did peer into the rising “smoke of the future” and heard the thunder of Rhaego’s hooves – as if he was thundering from inside the smoke column, from inside the weirwood tree. Like a greenseer. Calling down thunder. And so forth.

So, Rhaego is a dragon made of fire, and his namesake Rhaegar Targaryen also happens to be associated with the idea of a burning man too, via his appearance in that same ‘wake the dragon’ dream where Dany saw Rhaego consumed by fire:

And she saw her brother Rhaegar, mounted on a stallion as black as his armor. Fire glimmered red through the eye slit of his helm. 

Dany lifts the visor of his helm a moment late only to discover her own face, signifying that she was to become the “Last Dragon,” something which she did when she emerged from the funeral pyre as a manifestation of Azor Ahai reborn, the original burning man. As Dany walks into the pyre, she proclaims that she was ‘fire made flesh,’ just as the dragons are. So that all checks out – Rhaego is made of fire, Rhaegar is made of fire, Rhaegal and Daenerys are fire made flesh – it’s Azor Ahai reborn everyone, warrior of fire, dragon of the weirwoodnet.

Just as Rhaego the burning man has parallels to Azor Ahai, so to does Rhaegal the green dragon, as we have seen with Rhaegal’s ties to thunder. For example, just like Azor Ahai and the Grey King, Rhaegal is a is a moon-killer. In ADWD, Daenerys goes to visit Vision and Rhaegal in the pit under the pyramid, and we get this description of Rhaegal:

Rhaegal, still chained, was gnawing on the carcass of a bull.

We are well familiar with slaying the bull as a symbol of sacrificing the moon, I don’t even think I need to recap all the many times we’ve seen that. Here in the pit, we catch the green dragon red-handed (see what I did there), killing and devouring a bull. That of course is consistent with the idea that a greenseer dragon broke the moon. Those moon meteors were in turn described as dragons, thunderbolts, sea dragons, hammers of the waters, and of course, a sun-spear…  and not three paragraphs after Rhaegal is eating the bull, we get this:

Rhaegal roared in answer, and fire filled the pit, a spear of red and yellow.  Viserion replied, his own flames gold and orange. 

The color of the fire of each dragons tends to match the coloring of their bodies, with gold sometimes added in: Drogon is ‘black fire shot through with red,’ or sometimes shot through with red and gold, Vision the white and gold dragon often has pale fire or golden fire, and we just saw that Rhaegal’s can be ‘orange and yellow shot through with green’ a moment ago.  But sometimes, George likes to play with the colors a little bit to suit a given scene; in this scene inside the pyramid, George chooses to describe Rhaegal’s fire as red and yellow.  I believe that is because he called the fire a spear, and to make it a sun-spear, it would nee to be red and yellow, the colors of the Dornish sun-transfixed-by-a-spear sigil.  So, what I am seeing here in this scene is a green dragon devouring the moon and then throwing a fiery sun-spear.

It’s one of those clues which, by itself, would not be something I would base an entire theory on, but as always I am looking for repeated manifestations of the same pattern to make the best interpretation, and this one fits in pretty well with the green dragon waking with thunder, riding or flying like a storm, creating burning men, and killing lunar bulls.

And speaking of Sunspear, and green dragons creating burning men, you know we have to talk about Quentyn the would-be dragon-tamer who tries to ride the green dragon and becomes a burning man instead. We obviously going to continue talking about Rhaegal, but let’s make this a section break since we are going to focus on Quentyn for minute.

Quentyn was out of his mind

A Dragon in the Deep Wood

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My favorite description of Rhaegal’s green scales comes in ADWD as Quentyn the soon-to-be-burning man beholds the green dragon in the pit:

Two eyes rose up before him.

Bronze, they were, brighter than polished shields, glowing with their own heat, burning behind a veil of smoke rising from the dragon’s nostrils. The light of Quentyn’s torch washed over scales of dark green, the green of moss in the deep woods at dusk, just before the last light fades. Then the dragon opened its mouth, and light and heat washed over them. Behind a fence of sharp black teeth he glimpsed the furnace glow, the shimmer of a sleeping fire a hundred times brighter than his torch. The dragon’s head was larger than a horse’s, and the neck stretched on and on, uncoiling like some great green serpent as the head rose, until those two glowing bronze eyes were staring down at him.

Green, the prince thought, his scales are green. “Rhaegal,” he said. His voice caught in his throat, and what came out was a broken croak. Frog, he thought, I am turning into Frog again. “The food,” he croaked, remembering. “Bring the food.”

That’s particularly tasty because not only do we have a reference to the idea of a dragon in the deep woods with the description of Rhaegal’s green scales, but consider the “green as moss” language – Jojen’s eyes are also described as “green as moss,” and Jojen is of course a green-dreamer. Similarly, when Bloodraven describes the ways in which those with green sight are marked, she describes their green eyes with the same language, almost exactly: “as green as the moss on a tree in the heart of the forest.” In other words, the description of Rhaegal’s green evokes the eyes of greenseers and the forest itself  – specifically, “the deep woods at dusk just before the last light fades.” That last bit suggests the Long Night, which of course I am now claiming was brought on by greenseer dragons, or you might say by dragons going into the weirwoodnet, perhaps.

And speaking of shifty frog-eaters like Jojen, I’ve mentioned before there is a frog-eater joke in this scene because Quentyn’s nickname is frog, and as he is trying to say “bring the food!” in the middle of the confrontation with the dragon, his voice croaks and he thinks to himself “I am turning into frog again.” Thus, he is the froggy food and the dragon is a would-be frog-eater. If you’re thinking of comparing Dany’s dragons eating Quentyn to Bran eating Jojen in paste form, yup, Bran is a symbolic dragon and a frog eater. But’s that’s a tale for another day.

There are other ties to the Crannogmen with Quentyn too, because his hair and eyes are described as the color of mud, and Barristan has a lengthy inner monologue about how Quentyn is like mud and how mud is useful for growing crops and all, but Dany wanted fire, not mud, and Dorne sent her mud. Quentyn is a mud-man, in other words, and that is one of the names the Ironborn use for the Crannogmen – mud men. That makes at least three allusions to the Crannogmen with Quentyn’s symbolism – he’s a frog, and a mud-man, and he’s trying to ride a dragon whose moss-green scales match the eyes of Jojen.

So what’s the point of all Quentyn’s allusions to Crannogmen,” you’re asking. Well, Crannogmen almost certainly interbred with the children of the forest in the past, which is why the greenseer gifts run strong among them. Therefore I think the likely purpose behind tying Quentyn to Crannogmen is so that he can be used as a proxy for a greenseer trying to ride a green dragon. I don’t see what else it could be, really. And because Quentyn has that distant Targaryen ancestry, which is how he tries to talk himself into attempting this mad folly, what is actually being suggested here is a dragon-blooded greenseer.

Quentyn of course fails miserably in his attempt to ride the dragon; instead he is roasted by one – Rhaegal, our green dragon, of course. In other words, the frog with a drop of dragon blood became a burning man when he called down the fire of the green dragon. I’ll quote the last lines of his Dragontamer chapter:

Quentyn turned and threw his left arm across his face to shield his eyes from the furnace wind. Rhaegal, he reminded himself, the green one is Rhaegal.

When he raised the whip, he saw that the lash was burning. His hand as well.  All of him, all of him was burning. 

Several recognizable Lightbringer symbols here: the burning whip, which matches Drogo’s fiery whip that appeared to crack open the dragon’s eggs; the fiery hand, a familiar symbol that evokes the weirwood leaves as burning / bloody hands; the furnace wind to give us more fire storm imagery, a nice opposite to the “cold winds” that the Others bring; and the left arm burnt by fire might suggest the dragon meteor which  struck the Arm of Dorne. In fact it does, because earlier in this chapter, Quentyn thinks to himself “I am Dorne” on two different occasions – his arm is the arm of Dorne.  So what we have in this scene is a green dragon blasting the arm of Dorne with a spear of dragonfire.

As a compliment to this idea, Quentyn’s repeated choking and croaking in this scene implies a strangled neck, as in the Neck of Westeros which was strangled by the Hammer of the Waters, and of course all of Quentin’s frog and mud-man symbolism also point us to the Neck.  You’ll recall the many times that we see arm and neck wounds together in a Lightbringer forging incident from the Mountain vs. The Viper and the Hammer of the Waters episode – here, have another. A neck that croaks like a frog and the arm of Dorne burned by dragonfire.

We’ve mentioned before that Quentyn himself has weak Bloodstone Emperor symbolism – he’s “the sun’s son,” as prophesied to Daenerys by the Undying of Qarth, an idea that is at the heart of the “Azor Ahai reborn as second son / sun” symbol. That of course is the idea that Lightbringer and Azor Ahai reborn, being one in the same, was the son of the sun and also lit up the sky like a second sun, as Sunfyre and Moondancer did. Quentyn wants to ride a dragon and marry the “Amethyst Empress reborn” Daenerys Targaryen (trademark Durran Durrandon), much as Euron does, and of course Euron is another Bloodstone Emperor echo. That makes all of his crannogman symbolism all the more remarkable, as it is yet another clue tying the Bloodstone Emperor to greenseer magic.

As a final clue about Quentyn’s Bloodstone Emperor parallels, we hear of his first kiss coming from a set of twins, the fair-haired Drinkwater twins.  The punchline is that Quentyn didn’t know which one it was that kissed him, but the clue here is about the sun having two lunar wives or queens, a pattern we see quite distinctly with Aegon the Conqueror, Rhaegar, and Stannis, and in more subtle fashion with other Azor Ahai characters, as we saw in the Moons of Ice and Fire series. To hammer this point home, Cletus Ironwood once suggested to Quentyn that although they are thought of as too lowborn for Quentyn to marry, he could take one or even both of the Drinkwater twins as paramours after he has his official state marriage to some important lady of a noble house.

While we are talking Great Empire of the Dawn and his links to greenseer magic, now is a good time to talk about the eyes of the Bloodstone Emperor. Now of course the ‘bloodstones’ in the books have been turned black via the whole burning black moon blood thing, as evidenced by the greasy black stone and the many instances of burning being associated with turning blood black. But real bloodstone is mostly dark green and flecked with spots of bright red that look like spatters of blood. I tend to think of the Bloodstone Emperor as having either black eyes or fiery red eyes, but if we follow the pattern of the rulers having eyes to match their gems, perhaps the Bloodstone Emperor started out with green and red eyes.

Which are the colors of the eyes of greenseers, who have eyes as “green as the moss on a tree in the heart of the forest,” yes, but also “eyes as red as blood.” If you were to mix the two, you would have the exact appearance of bloodstone. You’d also have one freaky-looking dude.

As we turn back to Quentyn the Dragontamer, we find more relevant symbolism, much of it related to the sea dragon. We know that a torch can be symbolic of Lightbringer, such as with Mithras’s sword and torch, or such as when the comet is called Mormont’s Torch, and of course a torch is really just a fancy name for a burning brand, such as the Drowned God carries. In the quote from the scene where Quentyn enter’s the dragon chamber and behold’s Rhaegal’s glorious visage, it said that “the light of Quentyn’s torch washed over scales of dark green.” That’s a quick, subtle depiction of Azor Ahai / the Bloodstone Emperor using Lightbringer to create a green dragon, and it also gives us watery fire dragon symbolism, implying Rhaegal as a sea dragon. Similarly, when Rhaegal opened his furnace mouth, it said that “light and heat washed over” Quentyn and his party. All this fire washing also reminds us Daenerys imagining herself cleansed in the alchemical wedding bonfire and hints at Quentyn’s upcoming symbolic fire transformation.

What’s really cool is that those burning wooden dragons that Aegon the Unworthy made get a reference as Quent and company prepare to try to steal the dragons. Here the references to Grey King myth kicks into overdrive:

The big man looked out toward the terrace. “I knew it would rain,” he said in a gloomy tone. “My bones were aching last night. They always ache before it rains. The dragons won’t like this. Fire and water don’t mix, and that’s a fact. You get a good cookfire lit, blazing away nice, then it starts to piss down rain and next thing your wood is sodden and your flames are dead.”

Gerris chuckled. “Dragons are not made of wood, Arch.”

“Some are. That old King Aegon, the randy one, he built wooden dragons to conquer us. That ended bad, though.” So may this, the prince thought. The follies and failures of Aegon the Unworthy did not concern him, but he was full of doubts and misgivings.

So here we have a direct association between Quentyn the burning frog man’s attempts to ride the green dragon and the burning wooden dragons of King Aegon the Randy which evoked the sea dragon and burning tree myths.  What’s really great is the wildfire joke here: Arch says that fire and water do not mix, for when it pisses down rain, your fire dies – but not if that piss is the “pyromancer’s piss,” as wildfire is called. And in fact that is what Aegon’s wooden dragons burned with – wildfire. So fire and water do not mix, unless we are talking about wildfire… or about the sea dragon, who swims in the sea, yet possesses living fire.

Just as the sea dragon is functioning as a metaphor for the living fire of a weirwood which a greenseer can possess, I think it’s easy to see how wildfire – green fire – does something similar, uniting fire symbolism and greenseer symbolism. Green fire also goes hand-in-hand with the green fire dragons, which are also symbols of fiery greenseers. The fact that wildfire is a liquid seems an apt way to refer to the sea dragon’s fire and the Ironborn’s idea of bringing fire out of the sea. More on this later.

They grow up so fast, don’t they

Now after Quentyn’s attempt fails and Viserion and Rhaegal escaped the pit, Rhaegal took up residence in the black pyramid of Yherizan, which still smolders with fires. The description of it is worth quoting, and it comes from the opening of Barristan’s chapter of ADWD called “The Queen’s Hand:”

The Dornish Prince was three days in dying.  He took his last shuddering breath in the bleak black dawn, as cold rain hissed from a dark sky to turn the brick streets of the old city to rivers.  The rain had drowned the worst of the fires, but wisps of smoke still rose from the smoldering ruin that had been the pyramid of Hazkar, and the great black pyramid of Yherizan where Rhaegal had made his lair hulled in the gloom like a fat woman bedecked with glowing orange jewels. 

Mountains and pyramids, especially the tops of them (that’s where Rhaegal makes his lair), can symbolize moons, so the notion of a green dragon living in a black pyramid could imply a tie between the burnt-black fire moon and the green dragon. Calling that pyramid a fat woman with fiery jewels strengthens the lunar symbolism – the full moon is called fat on occasion, and moon figures are usually women – and therefore the fat woman with glowing jewels description of the black pyramid also suggests a burning moon goddess… one who harbors a green dragon.

The reference to drowning the worst of the fire once again evokes the drowned fire symbolism of the Ironborn – the sea dragon rising from the sea with fire and the Drowned God carrying the burning brand out of the ocean. It’s especially meaningful to get a drowned fire reference in such close proximity to discussion of the green dragon, and it’s yet another clue linking the green dragon to drowned fire, and thus to the sea dragon. Recall Quentyn’s torchlight “washing over” Rhaegal’s green scales.

Finally, take note of Quentyn’s three days to die thing – it seems like it might be a parallel to Jesus being dead for three days before his resurrection.  Azor Ahai the burning man is the Jesus / savior figure of the story in terms of archetypes, and we do indeed find Jesus parallels with Jon Snow and others Azor Ahai players. In fact, these lines about about Quentyn taking three days to die are the opening lines of this Barristan chapter, and are actually the first words that come after Jon’s death scene, which ends the previous chapter. I have found that Martin sometimes likes to carry over a symbolic train of thought from one chapter to the next, and this would be one of those times. Jon manifests the symbolism of Azor Ahai and the Bloodstone Emperor quite strongly, so his death is symbolically the same thing as Quentyn’s. Barristan ties the two chapters together, because as he is searching the black dawn sky for signs of Daenerys, we read:

He saw no sign of dragons, but he had not expected to. The dragons did not like the rain.  A thin red slash marked the eastern horizon where the sun might soon appear.  It reminded Selmy of the first blood welling from a wound. Often, even with a deep cut, the blood came before the pain. 

That’s exactly what just happened to Jon – he was sliced across the neck by Wick Whittlestick and the blood instantly welled beneath his fingers, though he did not seem to feel it, thinking it was only a scratch.  But welling blood that quickly means Jon’s jugular was almost certainly cut open, which is why he rapidly loses feeling in his fingers, cannot draw his sword, and loses consciousness before he can even be stabbed three more times.  He wouldn’t be losing his consciousness that quickly unless his jugular was cut, and so that’s what I think happened here – the people who think Jon hasn’t actually died are almost certainly wrong (wah-wun).  He is dead, sliced across the neck like a true sacrifice by Wick Whittlestick.

Consider that name, by the way – wick as in candle wick, implying fire, or wick like wicker man (whose fate is to burn), and whittle-stick implies carved wood (like a heart tree). Thus, we have pretty strong burning weirwood symbolism here at Jon’s death scene (which makes sense of course). You could definitely call Wick a weirwood assassin figure. Wick Whittlestick’s name also calls out to Old Wyk of the Iron Islands, where the sea dragon bones rest, so I think we are safe to say this is no coincidence. And of course, Jon’s spirit is then headed into Ghost, who looks like a weirwood.

Pain Killer Jane, a.k.a. Lady Jane of House Celtigar, Emerald of the Evening and Captain of the Dread Ship Eclipse Wind, who is a frequent contributor to Mythical Astronomy, has a great observation here which further unites the symbolism of Jon and Quentyn. The name “Quentyn” is phonetically similar to “quintain,” which is ‘a post set up as a mark in tilting with a lance.‘ The most famous one we get in ASOIAF is made of straw and has antlers on it, making it a king of winter and a horned lord!

Of course I am referring to the endearing scene where Tommen jousts a “child-sized leather warrior stuffed with straw and mounted on a pivot,” which “someone had fastened a pair of antlers to” in order to make it signify the rebel and traitor King Renly Baratheon. We recognize the symbol of a straw man knight easily enough since we talk about the burning scarecrow straw man Night’s Watch brothers so often, and straw men also make us think of the burning wing of winter and wicker man mythologiies that the burning scarecrow brothers are based on. Indeed, the straw man quintain is compared to Renly, and of course when we see Garlan Tyrell masquerading as resurrected Renly, the fires of the Blackwater battle reflect golden off of his antlers and ghostly green off of his armor, implying him as a burning stag man.

As we discussed earlier, the fiery sorcerers waking from burning wood are almost certainly the fiery undead Night’s Watch green zombies, and that they share all the same king of winter and wicker man symbolism. Jon has all of that symbolism in spades of course, and that makes sense as he is set to be the signature undead skinchanger Night’s Watch zombie, quite possibly resurrected through fire. Quentyn on the other hand also has the greenseer / skinchanger symbolism by way of his frog, mud-man, and green dragonrider stuff, and of course he has the most vivid burning man symbolism possible. So is Martin implying Quentyn as a quintain, a straw man knight? It makes perfect sense. The wicker man and king of winter figures are essentially sacrifices that burn, and that’s just what Quentyn is.

So, combining the symbolism of the end of Jon’s chapter and the beginning of Barristan’s, we have Jon being sacrificed by a burning tree person which overlays with Quentyn being turned into a burning man by a green dragon and taking three days to die, and then we have a black dawn, the red comet wound, and the green dragon taking up residence in a fat black moon pyramid which still smolders. Fire is drowned, and men look for a Morningstar dragon to save them and bring back the sun. Pretty great stuff, right? There are a bunch of bleed-overs from the end of one chapter to the beginning of another, so don’t think this is a one-off. We’ll do some more in the future, and be on the lookout when you do a re-read.

Interestingly, I have found that the description of Rhaegal being trapped inside the pit mirrors Quentyn’s death. The following is from ADWD and comes after Dany recalling that they had managed to chain Viserion in his sleep :

Rhaegal had been harder. Perhaps he could hear his brother raging in the pit, despite the walls of brick and stone between them. In the end, they had to cover him with a net of heavy iron chain as he basked on her terrace, and he fought so fiercely that it had taken three days to carry him down the servants’ steps, twisting and snapping. Six men had been burned in the struggle.

Quentyn takes three days to die, Rhaegal takes three days to be carried down to the stygian darkness of the pit, an obvious hellish underworld location. Rhaegal made Quentyn into a burning man and sent him to hell, and here we see that he creates six burned men as he’s dragged down below the pyramid. Don’t miss the awesome greenseer / weirwoodnet clue here by the way: Rhaegal is trapped in a net! Hello, weirwoodnet-as-a-trap-for-greenseers symbolism. That’s a really nice one, and equates the symbolic death and journey to the underworld of the green dragon with being trapped in the weirwoodnet. Think again of Bloodraven, a dragon chained up by weirwood roots down in a dark underworld cave full of bones.

So now think of this as-above-so-below mirror image: Rhaegal chained up in the darkness below the pyramid, and Rhaegal later making a lair in the smoldering black pyramid after he escapes. This is similar to Odin going up and down Yggdrasil like a ladder to the various realms, or like the greenseer’s body sitting below the weirwood while his spirit uses the weirwood to “fly.” The image of a fiery green dragon surrounded by blackness is identical whether he’s at the top or bottom of the pyramid, because the greenseer really exists both below the trees and soaring above them. It’s a matching symbol, but George gives it to us in two places and in two forms; a chained-up version below and set-free version above.

You could also think of the pyramid and the “all-seeing-eye” symbol that we find on our money. The all seeing eye is at the top of the pyramid, and that’s more or less the image George is creating with the green dragon creating  alair at the top of the pyramid.

There is a possible parallel for this symbol of the green dragon inside the black pyramid in the placement of the dragon’s eggs around Drogo’s corpse at the beginning of the Alchemical Wedding scene:

She climbed the pyre herself to place the eggs around her sun-and-stars.  The black by his heart, under his arm. The green beside his head, his braid coiled around it. The cream-and-gold down between his legs. 

It could be that the green is placed by his head to signify vision, knowledge, enlightenment, that sort of thing. Green-seeing is done with the mind and the third eye in other words. Drogo’s oily black braid coils around the green egg, surrounding it, a similar image to the green dragon living inside the smoldering black pyramid or below the pyramid in the pit when he’s chained up.

As we have discussed before, Drogo’s hair is also given water symbolism in AGOT when his braid is undone; it says “his hair spread out behind him like a river of darkness, oiled and gleaming.” The green dragon egg placed in Drogo’s black oily river of darkness hair is therefore more sea dragon symbolism, depicting a green dragon that lives or wakes from the darkling sea. The black sea in particular is a reference to the cosmic ocean of space, which again speaks to the greenseers’ ability to travel time and space through their bond with the weirwoods. That fits with the green egg being placed by the head, I’d say.

Consider that this is all happening with Drogo, a signature Azor Ahai solar king. He awakens from the Lightbringer bonfire as a fiery sorcerer who rides the smokey the burning ash tree / smokey stallion to the sky so that he can ride the red comet as a star-horse. He’s like a greenseer dragon, defying death and swimming in the dark ocean of space through the use of the weirwoodnet.

Oddly enough, Dany thinks about touching the comet one time… right after being inspired by her green dragon, Rhaegal:

Across the tent, Rhaegal unfolded green wings to flap and flutter a half foot before thumping to the carpet. When he landed, his tail lashed back and forth in fury, and he raised his head and screamed. If I had wings, I would want to fly too, Dany thought. The Targaryens of old had ridden upon dragonback when they went to war. She tried to imagine what it would feel like, to straddle a dragon’s neck and soar high into the air. It would be like standing on a mountaintop, only better. The whole world would be spread out below. If I flew high enough, I could even see the Seven Kingdoms, and reach up and touch the comet.

Does being a greenseer dragon have something to do with touching comets? Or is this more a metaphor for using greenseer magic to reach for the fire of the gods? Well, that’s a question we’ll have to return to another time. That’s pretty much it for today, though I have a bit of bonus material here to act as a cool down from the sheer raw intensity of touching comets and flying through space.

Returning to the placement of the eggs around Drogo in the pyre, if I were to speculate further about the placement of the other two eggs, I would say that the black by his heart makes sense, as we have seen that meteors can be described as the hearts of fallen stars, and the black meteors would be black hearts, for which there is abundant correlating ‘black heart’ symbolism with Azor Ahai which you guys and gals are are familiar with.  As for the white dragon placed in Drogo’s crotch, that’s too big a topic to open up right now and I’d be tempted use up all my good penis jokes that I really should save for the white dragon episode. You don’t want to fire your gun before the time is right… oof.  Sorry.

I do have one more serious observation about the alchemical bonfire and the cracking of the eggs. It seems that the three cracks of the eggs pretty much relate the sequence of the Long Night disaster in detail, check this out.

The first one cracks with “the sound of shattering stone” as Drogo’s flaming lash “snaked down at the pyre, hissing.” That’s the snaky lightbringer comet striking the moon and shattering its stone.  This is the white egg, and it’s definitely associated with the moon, because as Dany is “showered with ash and cinders” and as “the roaring filled the world,” at Danys feet lands “a chunk of curved rock, pale and veined with gold, broken and smoking.”  A pale stone crescent is a clear moon symbol, so that’s what this first crack is about, the breaking of the moon.

Then comes the second crack, as loud and sharp as thunder, and with it, the fire that touches the secret hearts of the wooden logs. This is the Storm God’s thunderbolt descending from the moon and setting fire to the “heart tree,” if you will. Right after this is when Daenerys thinks to herself “I am Daenerys Stormborn,” and then comes the line about stepping into the firestorm. This is the green dragon’s egg and everything here is about storm and thunder, so again, this is the thunderbolt coming from the moon and setting fire to the tree.

And finally, the breaking of the world, as the black dragon’s egg, the black bloodstone, cracks open to birth the black dragon.  This is the Hammer of the Waters meteor striking the Arm of Dorne and splitting the continents apart, the sun-spear which beats down “like a fiery hammer” as we read in AFFC.  The evidence is found in the names left around the broken Arm: Bloodstone Isle and Sunspear, as we have discussed, and maybe even places like Ghost Hill of House Toland, whose arms, as it happens, bear a green dragon (!) on a yellow circle. The other named Stepstones island is called Grey Gallows, which we know refers to the gallows tree, Yggdrasil, and perhaps to the Grey King, whose weirwood throne is the ASOIAF equivalent of Yggdrasil.

So there you have it, the three-step process as told by Dany’s dragons, from comet / moon collision to falling thunderbolt to the Hammer of the Waters.  Now that we have begun to unravel the symbolism of the green dragon and the burning tree, we can see the whole picture from this scene which we have discussed many times previously. It just goes to show how densely Martin’s ideas are layered in.






B2WW 1: The Timeline

The debut of my new live panel show, where I will choose a topic and invite on a panel of guests to discuss said topic! The topic today is the timeline, and my special guests are Tony Teflon of the Teflon TV YouTube channel, Gray of the Gray Area YouTube channel, and Quinn from the Ideas of Ice and Fire YouTube channel. We touched on many topics revolving around the events and supposed history of the Dawn Age and Age of Heroes: the first maesters’ involvement with the children of the forest and magic in general, the Pact (when, why, how, and who), the creation of the Others, the building of the Wall, the Hammer of the Waters, smelly dirty ringforts, the new TV show, the Season 8 finale, ice dragons, and of course, what makes GRRM great. Thanks to everyone who watched live and sent in questions!


Sansa Locked in Ice

Queen in the North! Queen in the North! Queen in the— oh hey there friends, patrons, YouTuber viewers and podcast listeners, myth heads of all sorts. Welcome to the Sansa at the Eyrie episode, where we’ll spend most of our time talking about Sansa on her way to the Eyrie!

That’s right, we all want to build snowcastles of symbolism together in the godswood at dawn, but before we do that, we need to trace out Sansa’s symbolic path that took her there, because boy let me tell you. There is some high-powered mythical astronomy and incorporation of world mythology going on with Sansa as she flees from King’s Landing and arrives in the Vale. We will take her there, but it’s going to require yet another episode to really get into all her scenes at the Eyrie, and of course we need to compare those to Tyrion and Catelyn’s scenes at the Eyrie as well.

Before we begin, let me just say: Sansa really is one of my favorite characters, even setting aside Sophie Turner’s good looks and charm. We recently got a twitter thread going where we all threw out various Sansa moment’s of awesome, and it was truly amazing how many there were. Plus… she has amazing symbolism.

This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about Sansa of course. She played a starring role in Moons of Ice and Fire 3, Waves of Night and Moon Blood, where she did amazing Nissa Nissa / fire moon things at Kings Landing. We won’t recap all of that here (just a little bit of it, heh heh), but I will say that my personal favorite scene was Sansa balling up her moon-blood-soaked sheets and shoving them into the fire and fillin gher room with smoke at the same time that two Azor Ahai reborn figures, Stannis and Tyrion, were burning things outside the castle and filling the sky with smoke.  This entire scene and the ones connected to it all depict Sansa as a fire moon maiden with burning moon blood, culminating with the purple wedding. Then she turns up in the mother of all ice moon symbols, the Eyrie, and (spoiler alert) we catch her doing some Night’s Queen type of stuff.

You can see why it’s important to trace out that path – from Nissa Nissa and fire moon symbolism to ice moon and Night’s Queen symbolism? This series is about portals, after all.

So without further adieu, let me say thanks to the man himself, George R. R. Martin, who has enriched all of our lives with his books, and thanks to all of you myth heads who have joined our Patreon. I’d like to take this moment to welcome the return of Ser Brian the Prodigal Stark, the Good Other, Knight of the Last House, Wielder of the Valyrian Steel blade Red Song, who has risen harder and stronger as one of the Long Night’s Watch. He joins his fellow Green Zombie Watchers Charon Ice-Eyes, Dread Ferryman of the North, Wielder of the Staff of the Old Gods, a weirwood staff banded in Valyrian steel; Cinxia, Frozen Fire Queen of the Summer Snows and Burner of Winter’s Wick; Antonius the Conspirator, the Red Right Hand of R’hllor, Knower of the Unknowable, Dispenser of Final Justice; and BlueRaven of the Lightning Peck, the frozen thunderbolt, whose words are “the way must be tried.” That makes five on the zombie watch, and I am also proud to announce our sixth member, who is Visenya Ice Eyes, Starry Jewel-Queen of the Frozen Veil of Tears. You’ll notice all of these half-dead half-dozen have frozen fire type names; that’s not by accident of course, as we are looking for a dozen valiant souls to give up their (pretend internet) lives for the greater good, rising harder and stronger as zombie brothers and sisters of the Long Night’s Watch. Jon Snow is going to need some backup, am I right?

If you’d like snag yourself a nickname, early access to the essay versions of the episodes, and more, and most importantly, play a part in driving Mythical Astronomy onward and upward, check out our Patreon campaign, which is linked at the top of That’s also where you can find the matching text to this podcast, as always.

Bloodstone Compendium
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

Moons of Ice and Fire
I: Shadow Heart Mother
II: Dawn of the Others
III: Visenya Draconis
IV: The Long Night Was His to Rule
V: R+L=J, A Recipe for Ice Dragons

The Blood of the Other
–  Prelude to a Chill
I: A Baelful Bard & a Promised Prince
II: The Stark that Brings the Dawn
III: Eldric Shadowchaser
IV: Prose Eddard
V: Ice Moon Apocalypse

Sacred Order of Green Zombies
I: The Last Hero & the King of Corn
II: King of Winter, Lord of Death
III: The Long Night’s Watch

Weirwood Compendium
I: The Grey King & the Sea Dragon
II: A Burning Brandon
III: Garth of the Gallows
IV: In a Grove of Ash
V: To Ride the Green Dragon

Weirwood Goddess
I: Venus of the Woods
II: It’s an Arya Thing
III: The Cat Woman Nissa Nissa

Signs and Portals
I: Veil of Frozen Tears
II: Sansa Locked in Ice

Now in PODCAST form!

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The Sansa Locked in Ice

This section is brought to you by the Patreon support of four of our most devout and loyal Priests and Priestesses of Starry Wisdom: Archmaester Aemma, founder of the Maiden Maesters & keeper of the two-headed sphinx, The Venus of Astghik, Starry Lady of the Dragon Stones, The Orange Man, and Black-Eyed Lily, the Dark Phoenix

I mentioned that Sansa’s moon blood scene in King’s Landing is one of my favorites for symbolism and comedic effect. I don’t mean to make light of it, as it is a very serious matter and an emotional scene for Sansa, as is everything that happens to her in King’s Landing while she’s been abused by the Lannisters on a daily basis. But there is something almost three stooges-like about how rapidly the scene goes from bad to worse to much worse, as Sansa starts out waking from a nightmare to realize she’s experiencing her first menstruation to cutting out the bloodstain in her sheets to simply shoving the entire mattress in the fire in desperation. It’s funny in one sense, but at the same time, the desperation and obvious foolishness of trying to burn an entire mattress in a hearthfire underscores the extreme sense of terror and panic Sansa feels at the thought of bearing Joffrey’s children against her will.

And of course, the symbolism is absolutely bonkers. That’s really the point I want to make here: she’s clearly a Nissa Nissa fire moon figure, filling the air with smoke and burning her moon blood and thinking about unpleasant couplings with the solar king Joffrey. That’s really why it’s my favorite of course – the symbolism. If you want the full breakdown on that one, that can be found in the appropriately named Waves of Night and Moon Blood episode.

Queen in the North by Sanrixian

At the same time, this more underrated bit of Sansa symbolism gives it a run for it’s money. It’s especially clever because it’s not even in a Sansa chapter; it’s a great example of a sly writing technique Martin uses to add more symbolism to a given scene: have other people talk about it elsewhere. The following is the scene with Arya and Sandor at the Inn at the Crossroads, right before they get into a fight with Poliver and Raff the Sweetling and the Tickler. The mummers have just given Sandor the news that Joffrey was murdered at the Purple Wedding:

“So much for my brave brothers of the Kingsguard.” The Hound gave a snort of contempt. “Who killed him?”

“The Imp, it’s thought. Him and his little wife.”

“What wife?”

“I forgot, you’ve been hiding under a rock. The northern girl. Winterfell’s daughter. We heard she killed the king with a spell, and afterward changed into a wolf with big leather wings like a bat, and flew out a tower window. But she left the dwarf behind and Cersei means to have his head.”

That’s stupid, Arya thought. Sansa only knows songs, not spells, and she’d never marry the Imp. The Hound sat on the bench closest to the door. His mouth twitched, but only the burned side. “She ought to dip him in wildfire and cook him. Or tickle him till the moon turns black.” He raised his wine cup and drained it straightaway.

I included the last bit for the bit about the moon turning black because it helps reinforce what’s being symbolized here: Sansa the fire moon maiden has symbolically changed into a winged bat-wolf and flown out of a tower after the sun-darkening ceremony of the Purple Wedding. This is the picture of a fire moon turning into a moon meteor, with the winged bat-wolf subbing in for a fire-breathing dragon, because that’s more suited to Sansa’s symbolism. My friends Isobel Harper and Sandra from the Twitteros would like me to point out that Sansa’s bat wings may reflect her Whent heritage via her Tully mother, for what it’s worth, and of course we know that Harrenhal, the seat of House Whent, is entirely, 100% symbolic of the destruction of the fire moon. One of the most obvious, to be honest, as it’s a huge hunk of scorched and cracked black stone burnt by dragonfire. We discussed some of Harrenhal’s symbolism in Weirwood Goddess 2: It’s an Arya Thing, as well as Moons of Ice and Fire 3: Visenya Draconis.

I’ll also point out that the suggestion of Sansa leaping from the tower builds on both the general trope of maidens in the tower, which we see everywhere in ASOIAF, such as Lyanna Stark who died in a tower and Ashara Dayne who (supposedly) threw herself from a tower, as well Sansa’s own thoughts of suicide when she contemplated leaping from a King’s Landing tower amidst the worst of Joffrey’s abuse. But this time, in the colorful and rapidly spreading folktale of Sansa’s escape from the Purple Wedding, it’s different. Instead of a suicidal leap from the tower, it’s a flight and a transformation, as she turns into a flying bat wolf. I probably don’t have to tell you that Ashara might not be dead either… she’s living in the Neck with her true love Howland Reed and going by the name Jyanna, of course, shout-out to Chloe a.k.a. the Queen of Love and Booty.

So, the burning the moon blood soaked mattress and the legend of Batgirl Werewolf Sansa… like I said, two of my favorite Sansa scenes at King’s Landing. And don’t worry, we’re going to cover Dontos and his Morningstar melon in a bit. In a bit, get it? It’s a smashing melon joke. Unfortunately for Dontos, the world is a vampire. There, that was a Smashing Pumpkins joke.

Anyway, these two scenes are amusing, probably better than my jokes, but by far the most important fire moon action Sansa does at King’s Landing is definitely her part in the purple wedding. As we have discussed before, the Purple Wedding is a detailed description of the hiding of the face of the sun during the Long Night. According to theory, the sun was hidden by clouds of ash, smoke, and debris from the moon meteor impacts, something which we can see as Nissa Nissa moon having her revenge on her murderous husband, Azor Ahai the solar king. Sansa is playing Nissa Nissa here, with Joffrey playing the role of her solar king husband, even though technically he broke off the betrothal to Sansa to marry Margarey. Joffrey’s murder has his bright solar face turning dark purple as he suffocates due to the effects of the poison known as the strangler, which was of course hidden in Sansa’s symbolically-ridonculous silver hairnet.

Ergo, we can see this as just the sort of lunar revenge I was speaking of, where an abused Nissa Nissa figure has her revenge on her abuser. The drama isn’t always framed that way, but I’ve been suggesting Nissa Nissa as an unwilling victim from the start, so it’s interesting to see this very abusive and cruel version of the solar king getting killed specifically for his cruelty, as the Tyrell’s motivation to kill Joffrey was specifically was to protect Margarey and maneuver her to marry Tommen instead, who was not an abuser and could be molded to their liking.

As for that hairnet, it’s what makes the mythical astronomy of the Purple Wedding uber-clear. The poison known as the Strangler comes in the form of dark purple crystals, as we see in Maester Cressen’s ACOK prologue chapter, and I assume that’s why they used a black amethyst hairnet to disguise it, since black amethysts are also very dark purple. Oddly, both the leaf that the Strangler is made from and the black amethysts are from Asshai, which can only make us think of dragons, fire magic, greasy black stone, Azor Ahai and of course, the Amethyst Empress, who may have been Nissa Nissa herself. In fact, I’d say Sansa wearing the amethysts from Asshai while acting out Nissa Nissa’s revenge at Joffrey’s wedding is a strong piece of evidence that Nissa Nissa was the Amethyst Empress, and that she comes from Asshai, which in turn implies that Asshai was indeed the capital of the Great Empire of the Dawn as I suggested oh so long ago (April of 2015 to be exact).

It’s also worth noting that those amethysts were “so dark they drank the moonlight,” a keyword phrase we know well that calls out to the greasy black stone of Asshai which “seems to drink the light” as well as Widow’s Wail and Oathkeeper, whose dark steel also drinks the sun. More ties to Asshai, dragons, and magic swords… and of course moon meteor symbols. Of course, moon meteors. They “drank the fire of the sun” when the moon cracked open, which is what all of this is about. Remember that just like Harrenhal or the Dragonpit at King’s Landing, Asshai and The Shadow that hangs over it are a model for the destroyed and blackened fire moon. That’s where the poison that darkened the sun came from, the fallout of the breaking of the fire moon.

The hair net itself has sparkling mythical astronomy symbolism:

It was a hair net of fine-spun silver, the strands so thin and delicate the net seemed to weigh no more than a breath of air when Sansa took it in her fingers. Small gems were set wherever two strands crossed, so dark they drank the moonlight.

The silver strands are like the lattice of stars and galaxies, with the gems at the crossing points playing the role of stars. I’ve caught Martin using the “lattice” word to refer to the cosmic net of stars, and of course these ideas originate in Vediic mythology with “Indras’s Net.” This is a really cool thing, so let me quote Francis Cook’s description of it from his 1977 book titled “Hua-Yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra.”

Far away in the heavenly abode of the great god Indra, there is a wonderful net which has been hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner that it stretches out infinitely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a single glittering jewel in each “eye” of the net, and since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number. There hang the jewels, glittering “like” stars in the first magnitude, a wonderful sight to behold. If we now arbitrarily select one of these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in its polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that, but each of the jewels reflected in this one jewel is also reflecting all the other jewels, so that there is an infinite reflecting process occurring.

I always tell you George’s symbolism is fractal! How do you like that? You can really see the specific call-outs to Indra’s Net in Sansa’s hairnet, with the eye-jewel-stars at the crossing points of the lattice. Of course stars are usually symbolized by diamonds, because they’re bright, so using a light-drinking gem in the lattice instead simply implies dark stars, black hole moons, and that sort of thing. That’s not news to us; we’ve saying that the exploding moon / sun conjunction effectively becomes a dark star since <Ser Barristan voice> oh ah let’s see, since Bloodstone Compendium 2, I believe it was! In fact the earlier version of that essay, back on, was called “Black Hole Moon,” for what it’s worth. </Ser Barristan Voice> Still, when a red headed moon-maiden wears an Indra’s Net full of dark stars – which poison and darken the solar king – well that’s the basic Mythical Astronomy theory in action, and it’s an awfully detailed version of it. The cosmic web of the universe is unraveling to kill the sun for his sin… that’s heavy stuff.

The final layer of hair-net symbolism comes from the Ghost of the High Heart when she sees a dream vision of Sansa at the Purple Wedding:

“I dreamt of a maid at a feast with purple serpents in her hair, venom dripping from their fangs. And later I dreamt that maid again, slaying a savage giant in a castle built of snow.”

The moon maiden has a nest of poisonous snakes in her kissed by fire hair, and we know what means. Fiery moon dragons! Dark stars coming out of the cosmic web to rain on your parade. We’ve seen a lot of poison snake bite and toxic symbolism applied to black meteor symbols – think of the oily black stone of Yeen and Asshai which seems to be cursed, or Oberyn’s sun-spear tipped with oily black poison. All in all, Sansa’s starry Medusa hairnet act is some of the most detailed mythical astronomy found anywhere, and it squarely pegs Sansa as a fire moon, Nissa Nissa person at King’s Landing. As she helps kill the sun. I mean… is it what it is.

And look, the Ghost of High Heart is speaking of Sansa in a castle made of snow! That’s an allusion to the Eyrie of course, and to her snowcastle scene there, with Petyr as the giant, and it’s generally taken as foreshadowing of Sansa serving Petyr up some well-deserved Stark justice at some point. It’s basically the Mythical Astronomy story of Sansa’s transition from King’s Landing to the Eyrie: first she’s maid at a feast with purple serpents in her hair, venom dripping from their fangs, and later she’s slaying a savage giant in a castle built of snow.

I’ve mentioned this before, and it’s really fairly simple to understand with everything we’ve learned already. To put it simply, Sansa is the female version of the dragon locked in ice. She starts out as a fire moon Nissa Nissa person, then does a ton of moon combustion and moon blood flood stuff at King’s Landing, kills the sun king, and then flies away… and turns into a stone, Alayne Stone. This name change works on a lot of levels, and conveys the idea that Sansa is transforming as she leaves King’s Landing and goes to the Vale, only she’s a turned into a stone instead of a werewolf batgirl. She’s transforming into a Stone! A moon stone, it would be, as Sansa represents the transition from a whole, intact fire moon to a flying fire moon meteor. She darkens her hair to chestnut brown, but once she refers to it as “Alayne’s burnt brown,” which works together with her Stone moniker to imply her as a former piece of burnt fire moon. That fiery moon meteor lands inside an ice moon symbol, the Vale, just as the dragon locked in ice meteor always does.

Aaaaannnnd presto, it’s a Sansa locked in ice.

Old snow cloaked the courtyard, and icicles hung down like crystal spears from the terraces and towers. The Eyrie was built of fine white stone, and winter’s mantle made it whiter still. So beautiful, Alayne thought, so impregnable. She could not love this place, no matter how she tried. Even before the guards and serving men had made their descent, the castle had seemed as empty as a tomb, and more so when Petyr Baelish was away. No one sang up there, not since Marillion. No one ever laughed too loud. Even the gods were silent. The Eyrie boasted a sept, but no septon; a godswood, but no heart tree. No prayers are answered here, she often thought, though some days she felt so lonely she had to try. Only the wind answered her, sighing endlessly around the seven slim white towers and rattling the Moon Door every time it gusted. It will be even worse in winter, she knew. In winter this will be a cold white prison.

That was from AFFC, and as you can see the Eyrie has the standard prison symbolism of all ice moon locales such as White Harbor and Winterfell and the Wall. The Eyrie also has those ice cells, and those are put to good use as well. To the same effect, you probably also noticed the Eyrie seeming as empty as a tomb. It’s a tomb for the fire moon meteor, whether than be incarnated as a dark Azor Ahai reborn person like Jon or a transformed Nissa Nissa figure like Sansa here. Marillion and Tyrion, both of whom come to the Eyrie, show us male Azor Ahai figures getting locked in the icy prison tomb of the Eyrie, and the general astronomy is the same: it’s the fire moon dragon being locked in the ice.

In terms of the Eyrie having no gods and being empty, well, when it gets filled up, it gets filled with a dead goddess – the dead fire moon goddess, so to speak. Sansa isn’t actually dead of course, but in a way she is, because she temporarily kills her Sansa Stark identity and becomes Alayne Stone “inside and out,” as she repeats to herself. Then there is this line which comes as Sansa is sailing to the Fingers, on the way to the Vale:

The wind ran salty fingers through her hair, and Sansa shivered. Even this close to shore, the rolling of the ship made her tummy queasy. She desperately needed a bath and a change of clothes. I must look as haggard as a corpse, and smell of vomit.

Lord Petyr came up beside her, cheerful as ever. “Good morrow. The salt air is bracing, don’t you think? It always sharpens my appetite.” He put a sympathetic arm about her shoulders. “Are you quite well? You look so pale.”

First of all, f— Petyr, the smarly little peckerwood. Secondly, Sansa is a pale corpse. She’s a fire moon turned to a stone, a symbolically slain moon goddess, and she’s headed for an icy prison tomb. If you’re thinking of the proper name for Night’s Queen – the Corpse Queen – then you’re right on the money. Sansa will indeed be performing Night’s Queen symbolism at the Eyrie. Alayne is an ice queen name too – it’s similar to Alannys Harlaw, Theon’s mother, who has corpse symbolism and Night’s Queen symbolism, as well as Alysanne Targaryen, whom we established as an ice queen figure in the last episode, Ice Moon Apocalypse. Alayne is also just kind of a flip flop of the syllables in Lyanna: Al-ayne, Ly-anna. And as someone on pointed out a long time ago, Arya takes up the name Cat in Braavos, while Sansa becomes Alayne, so if you combine Arya and Sansa’s fake names, you get “Cat-Alayne.” Cat-elyn. Catelyn.

So, Alayne is an ice moon queen name, and combined with “Stone,” Sansa’s new name Alayne Stone effectively translates to “ice moon meteor queen,”  and as I said, she does indeed do Night’s Queen stuff in a few scenes while at the Eyrie. This is highly suggestive – it implies that Nissa Nissa, after being killed by Azor Ahai, somehow became the Night’s King’s Corpse Queen, whom we call Night’s Queen. That’s a huge and exciting topic, and we will delve into it more as we go along, but I wanted to introduce it here because it basically one of the central messages that emerges when you study the symbolism of Sansa at the Eyrie. She is unquestionably a fire moon queen in King’s Landing, doing Nissa Nissa things, and the she.. well, turns into a Night’s Queen figure when she goes to an ice moon place, the Eyrie. If Night’s King was Azor Ahai himself, as I have suggested is possible, then this becomes a story of Azor Ahai perhaps trying to raise Nissa Nissa from the dead, or her finding a way to escape death and returning to him, or something equally dark and strange.

Since making this discovery, I have noticed that there are some other Nissa Nissa / fire moon maidens turn into icy Night’s Queen figures; or said the other way, that some fire moon people become locked in the ice and turn icy.  They don’t all do that, and I assume that’s because not all the fire moon meteors landed in the ice moon. But some do, like Cersei being imprisoned in the ice moon sept of Baelor, and Sansa is where I first noticed the pattern.  We’ll talk about that in due time, but for now we are just laying out the broad strokes of Sansa’s arc so we can dive into her chapters at the Eyrie and know what to look for.

As I mentioned, there are two chapters leading up to her arrival at the Eyrie. At first I thought I could cover both chapters in one section on the way to the snowcastle chapter, but oh no, these two chapters are loaded. By the time I was finished analyzing them and writing about them and trimming away whatever I could, the episode was done. Part of that is just because a lot happens on those chapters, and part of is that Sansa has some very cool references to external world mythology, and several of them are touched on in these chapters.

Escape From King’s Landing

This section is sponsored three of our newest Patrons: Han Never-Solo, the Scorpion Mind, Cyber-Pincher of the Weirwoodnet and Guardian of the Celestial Stallion and the Horned Lord;  Durran Durrandon, the red fish blue fish, earthly avatar of Heavenly House Pisces whose eyes are ruby and sapphire and whose sword is pale fire, and WesterRoss of the Cosmic Mill, the Unchained Uncle, Host of Bards and Priest of the Sacred Order of the Black Hand

To prepare for this episode, I’ve been rereading (or re-listening, as it happens, R.I.P. Roy Dotrice) to all the chapters that take place at the Vale, and those that lead into them. I think it’s actually going to work well to tackle Sansa’s Vale chapters chronologically, just as I read them, as they do seem to form a cohesive overarching narrative.

We’ll start with Sansa’s first ASOS King’s Landing chapter after the Purple Wedding, which begins with her on the way to meet Dontos in the Godswood and escape. This entire chapter is all about transformation – Sansa’s transformation, and more importantly, Nissa Nissa’s. Sansa is fleeing the Red Keep, she arrives in the godswood, and then pulls out a hidden change of clothes from the bole of an oak. She thinks back to the Purple Wedding itself and the flight from the scene of Joffrey’s death and we get some Nissa Nissa agony and ecstasy language:

The sight of it had been too terrible to watch, and she had turned and fled, sobbing. Lady Tanda had been fleeing as well. “You have a good heart, my lady,” she said to Sansa. “Not every maid would weep so for a man who set her aside and wed her to a dwarf.” A good heart. I have a good heart. Hysterical laughter rose up her gullet, but Sansa choked it back down. The bells were ringing, slow and mournful. Ringing, ringing, ringing. They had rung for King Robert the same way. Joffrey was dead, he was dead, he was dead, dead, dead. Why was she crying, when she wanted to dance? Were they tears of joy?

Laughing and weeping, crying and dancing. And who has a better heart than Nissa Nissa, she who tempered the red sword of heroes in her own heart? The idea of crying Nissa Nissa is followed up on a couple of pages later as it says:

I could never abide the weeping of women, Joff once said, but his mother was the only woman weeping now.

Cersei is another fire moon figure, and her tears are fire moon meteor symbols. Cersei’s widow’s wail here is a mirror of Joffrey’s sword Widows Wail, an obvious fire moon meteor symbol and Lightbringer symbol… like Cersei’s tears. Once we get to the Eyrie, we will see moon maiden tears serving as ice moon symbols of course, but here in Kings Landing, it’s a fiery affair.

Then we get a set of terrific moon-darkening metaphors:

Dress warmly, Ser Dontos had told her, and dress dark. She had no blacks, so she chose a dress of thick brown wool. The bodice was decorated with freshwater pearls, though. The cloak will cover them. The cloak was a deep green, with a large hood. She slipped the dress over her head, and donned the cloak, though she left the hood down for the moment. There were shoes as well, simple and sturdy, with flat heels and square toes. The gods heard my prayer, she thought. She felt so numb and dreamy. My skin has turned to porcelain, to ivory, to steel. Her hands moved stiffly, awkwardly, as if they had never let down her hair before.

Okay, lots going on here. Pearls are basically always moon symbols, and these pearls are getting covered by a dark cloak. That dark green cloak is actually the formerly white one Sandor gave her – his kingsguard white cloak, actually. It was stained with blood, so Sansa, never one to waste good wool (yeah, that’s it) kept it and dyed it dark green, which means it already has moon darkening symbolism, and then here it is covering up Sansa’s moon pearls. Sansa herself is “dressing dark,” implying Sansa herself as a darkened moon maiden. She’s also turning to porcelain and ivory, and then to steel, which complements the idea of her turning into a “Stone.” It also mirrors all the sword-tempering language at Dany’s alchemical wedding and in her matching dragon dreams, and implies the same thing: Sansa and Dany as fire moon maidens depicting the moon turning into sword like meteors from which magic swords can be made.

Accompanied by Dontos, Sansa leaves the godswood, descends the serpentine steps and passes through quite a bit of hellish netherworld imagery. This builds on the feeling Sansa has of being a dream-like state that we saw in the last passage, and although I didn’t pull the quote, this idea was actually introduced in the very beginning of the chapter; the second sentence was “Sansa felt as though she were in a dream.”

What kind of dream is it? Well, this is dead Nissa Nissa we are talking about, so it would have to be a dragon dream:

They continued down the serpentine and across a small sunken courtyard. Ser Dontos shoved open a heavy door and lit a taper. They were inside a long gallery. Along the walls stood empty suits of armor, dark and dusty, their helms crested with rows of scales that continued down their backs. As they hurried past, the taper’s light made the shadows of each scale stretch and twist. The hollow knights are turning into dragons, she thought.

Descending the “serpentine” steps is certainly suggestive of a descent into hell (shoutout to Pain Killer Jane of the Twitteros) and indeed, below Sansa finds empty suits of armor, the “hollow knights,” turning into dragons. This is fairly obvious moon meteor talk, but I think it’s primarily an important green zombies clue. Think about it: in the Weirwood Goddess series, I think I pretty well established that Nissa Nissa had some sort of connection to the weirwood trees, and that she seems to go into the weirwoodnet when she dies – or perhaps she even helps create it, or make it so that mankind can access it, whatever. Something along those lines seems to be true. And here we have Sansa flying from the scene of the death of the sun and using the Godswood as an escape route while in a dream-like state.

She’s dreaming in the godswood people… and using the godswood and then the serpentine steps as a kind of portal or door to the underworld. Think of all the weirwood doors and gates we’ve seen, some of which are at the Eyrie. There’s a famous one under the Wall too. More to come on this, have no fear.

Recall also that Sansa pulls a dark green cloak out of the bole of an oak, almost like she’s pulling the dark green right out of the wood itself and wearing it. It’s another way of depicting her as entering the trees, and don’t forget that she’s combining the green cloak with a dark brown dress. Then after meeting her psychopomp / fool character, whom we’ll speak of in a moment, Sansa immediately descends the serpentine steps to the dragon underworld. Repeat: Nissa Nissa dies, and uses the weirwoods as a door to enter some sort of dragon-like afterlife or underworld.

And gosh, we’ve seen this show before, haven’t we? Here again I am drawing upon the Weirwood Goddess series, where we saw that Cat, playing the Nissa Nissa role, symbolically “goes into the weirwoodnet” by attaining the weirwood stigmata at the Red Wedding – and she was also guided along by a fool, just as Sansa was. Her next stop is a sort of dragon / weirwood underworld, the hollow hill formerly inhabited by Beric, the flaming sword hero who passed on his flame of life to wake Cat as Lady Stoneheart. The weirwood cave symbolism is explicit, and the dragon symbolism comes by way of Beric’s many parallels to Bloodraven, Jon Snow, Azor Ahai, and the Night’s Watch. I’ve said before that Cat in her Stoneheart form represents the ghost of Nissa Nissa, existing inside the weirwoodnet, just as the similarly white-haired and red-eyed Ghost of the High Heart does by haunting the circle of weirwood stumps atop the hill whose name she bears. Playing the part of Lady Stoneheart’s green zombie Night’s Watchmen are of course the Brotherhood without banners, the knights of the hollow hill.

Hollow hill, hollow hill… wasn’t there just a line about hollow knights turning into dragons in Sansa’s underworld scene? Indeed, these are entirely matching scenes, with Sansa’s hollow dragon knights doing the same thing that Stoneheart’s Knights of the Hollow Hill do – playing the role of her green zombies. Those zombies are hollow shells until they are raised, and that is exactly what’s happening with Sansa beneath the Red Keep. Sansa is symbolically raising the hollow knights from the dead by walking past with the light that makes their shadows move. This is also comparable to another fire queen Nissa Nissa, Melisandre, when she goes beneath Storm’s End to birth the shadowbaby in a cave. The cave “mouth” in the white rock “face” and a couple of other things gave that cave weirwood symbolism, with Melisandre playing the weirwood goddess and animating a black shadow inside just as Sansa does beneath the Red Keep. As we’ve seen many times, the shadowbabies and the Black Brothers of the Night’s Watch have heavily overlapping symbolism.

In totality, what I see happening here is Sansa playing the role of the fire moon maiden, whom we also know as the weirwood goddess, dying and descending into the underworld, where she is able to raise dragons from the dead. These are the first Night’s Watch zombies, whom we already know to have dragon and shadow symbolism. The parallels to her mother in her Lady Stoneheart form, as well as Melisandre, really make the symbolism pop… and say… if Sansa must became “Alayne Stone” in her heart, as Petyr tells her she must… wouldn’t Sansa be a stone-heart too?

The next paragraph in Sansa’s escape from King’s Landing chapter gives us more great netherworld imagery:

One more stair took them to an oaken door banded with iron. “Be strong now, my Jonquil, you are almost there.” When Dontos lifted the bar and pulled open the door, Sansa felt a cold breeze on her face. She passed through twelve feet of wall, and then she was outside the castle, standing at the top of the cliff. Below was the river, above the sky, and one was as black as the other.

Oh boy. Comparing the sky to a see or river kinda jumps off the page for us mythical astronomers. We modern humans use the term “space ship” because space has always been conceived of as a kind of black, cosmic ocean. This cosmic ocean idea often serves as a metaphor for the netherworld, something we’ve touched on before in other essays. Compare this scene to one of Dany’s visions from the House of the Undying from ACOK:

Her silver was trotting through the grass, to a darkling stream beneath a sea of stars. 

A dark stream winding through the Dothraki “sea” and a sea of stars above. There’s a match to this in Dany’s wake the dragon dream from AGOT as well which again plays up the “Dothraki Sea” idea with rippling water language:

She saw sunlight on the Dothraki sea, the living plain, rich with the smells of earth and death. Wind stirred the grasses, and they rippled like water. Drogo held her in strong arms, and his hand stroked her sex and opened her and woke that sweet wetness that was his alone, and the stars smiled down on them, stars in a daylight sky. “Home,” she whispered as he entered her and filled her with his seed, but suddenly the stars were gone, and across the blue sky swept the great wings, and the world took flame.

Sun and moon copulate, then the dragons take wing, the world takes flame, and the stars are hidden. Standard stuff – the waves of night and moon blood have been let loose. That’s what’s going on in Sansa’s scene too – she’s just let loose all kinds of darkness and moon blood at the Red Wedding, and now she’s entering that dark, starless stream. Once out on the water, Sansa remarks to herself that “they had the dark river all to themselves,” like Dany in the Dothraki Sea after the lights go out.

Fortunately, they have a handy guide through this dark sea – the Merling King! Who else, right? Well, before we get to that, Sansa has to climb down the cliff face, and we see her beginning to turn cold:

Sansa dared not look down. She kept her eyes on the face of the cliff, making certain of each step before reaching for the next. The stone was rough and cold. Sometimes she could feel her fingers slipping, and the handholds were not as evenly spaced as she would have liked. The bells would not stop ringing. Before she was halfway down her arms were trembling and she knew that she was going to fall. One more step, she told herself, one more step. She had to keep moving. If she stopped, she would never start again, and dawn would find her still clinging to the cliff, frozen in fear. One more step, and one more step.

The ground took her by surprise. She stumbled and fell, her heart pounding. When she rolled onto her back and stared up at from where she had come, her head swam dizzily and her fingers clawed at the dirt.

So first it’s just the stone that’s cold, but Sansa Stark is turning into Alayne Stone, so soon she imagines herself frozen to the cliff when the dawn comes.  Hello, Dawn = original Ice of House Stark theory. Heck, the idea of Dawn finding Nissa Nissa frozen kinda sounds like Dawn as Lightbringer stabbing Nissa Nissa and taking all her fire and warmth, or perhaps some sort of icy analog to that story involving Night’s Queen. Then we have falling moon maiden language, as the ground takes her by surprise and she stumbles and falls, her ‘heart of a fallen star’ “pounding” as she hits. Her head “swims dizzily,” implying the severed head moon meteor symbol and the idea of the moon or moon meteors drowning, a la the sea dragon and the drowned goddess ideas. Remember, she’s about to have the dark river to herself.

Think also of Dany immersing herself in the black waters of the Womb of the World as the reflection of the moon seems to swim on the lake with her – that’s the same symbolism as Sansa descending into the black river of darkness here. Right before Dany did that, she manifested incredible weirwood stigmata symbolism when she eats the horse heart, and this strongly implies Dany as a Nissa Nissa entering the weirwoodnet, just as Sansa goes through the godswood during her escape. And yes I am holding out on you bigtime by summarizing that in one sentence. Don’t worry, a full episode on Dany’s strange and abundant greenseer symbolism is coming soon. For now I just want to point out the pattern of “entering the weirwoodnet” symbolism being followed by “entering the dark river / sea / pond / lake etc.” symbolism. Heck, Cat’s body is thrown in the Green Fork of the Trident after she is killed at the Trident, before winding up inside her weirwood cave with a bunch of fire worshipers.

Next up, after Oswell rows them past all the drowned and broken ships that were destroyed during the Battle of the Blackwater, we catch sight of the Merling King:

The eastern sky was vague with the first hint of dawn when Sansa finally saw a ghostly shape in the darkness ahead; a trading galley, her sails furled, moving slowly on a single bank of oars. As they drew closer, she saw the ship’s figurehead, a merman with a golden crown blowing on a great seashell horn.

Ah, so it’s a ghost ship, a perfect psychopomp symbol to ferry our moon maiden across the river Styx to her new home on ice moon world. Pay no attention to the “great seashell horn” he’s blowing, I’m sure that has nothing to do with magical horns or waking the sleepers. Actually, it’s a perfect callout to another Nissa Nissa moon maiden being given a death transformation scene… while backed up against a tree. It’s one of my very favorites, so let’s quote it:

And then her back came up hard against a tree, and she could dance no more. The wolf raised the axe above his head to split her head in two. Asha tried to slip to her right, but her feet were tangled in some roots, trapping her. She twisted, lost her footing, and the axehead crunched against her temple with a scream of steel on steel. The world went red and black and red again. Pain crackled up her leg like lightning, and far away she heard her northman say, “You bloody cunt,” as he lifted up his axe for the blow that would finish her.

A trumpet blew.

That’s wrong, she thought. There are no trumpets in the Drowned God’s watery halls. Below the waves the merlings hail their lord by blowing into seashells.

She dreamt of red hearts burning, and a black stag in a golden wood with flame streaming from his antlers.

Wowee the Nissa Nissa / weirwood goddess symbolism is strong here – Asha is backed up against a tree like a weirwood sacrifice (she’s “tangled in the roots” even!), and she’s struck a lightning-like blow that makes the world go red and black and red again (think of the Storm God’s thunderbolt setting the tree ablaze). Then, just like Sansa dreaming in the godswood during her transformation, Asha dreams after her weirwood sacrifice routine and sees Azor Ahai himself, the fiery black stag in the golden wood. Then, just as Sansa follows up her transformation in the godswood by entering the dark river and catching sight of the Merling King and his seashell horn, Asha thinks of merlings and seashell horns and the Drowned God’s watery halls.

The message here is clear, at least the basics of it: Nissa Nissa dies, then she enters the weirwoodnet, which seems to act as a portal to various types of underworld places – a dark dungeon with hollow dragon knights or a hollow hill with fire-worshiping knights, or a dark river or stream or lake or sea. Usually, we get a combination.

There’s a strong implication that this isn’t the endpoint of the journey, however, and this is definitely true for Sansa. She’s headed to the ice moon place known as the Eyrie, which is where she seems to diverge from her mother’s Nissa Nissa arc, as Stoneheart is still down in her warm and toasty R’hllor cave running on fire magic. That could always change in the future of course.. ..more on this to come. Sansa however only briefly passes through the godswood and dragon underworld before she’s on to the dark river and the Merling King on the way to the Eyrie.

After Sansa is safely aboard the Merling King, shivering though she is, it’s time to reward to fool version of Azor Ahai for offering up his wife in sacrifice. That’s right, I’m talking about Dontos – Dontos the Red, that is. The red sot of heroes! This is a bit a side branch, but a necessary one. Of course you will remember that Petyr Baelish doubles crosses Dontos in front of Sansa and promptly murders him as soon as Sansa is aboard. This scene is actually a parallel to the Red Wedding, where another Azor Ahai fool figure, Aegon Frey a.k.a. Jinglebell, was executed at the same time that another fire moon / weirwood goddess figure, Cat, symbolically enters the weirwoodnet. That’s right, it’s another Sansa – Cat parallel, and there are plenty more.

As for Dontos the fool as Azor Ahai, not too confusing as long as you remember that more than one person can play the same archetypal role. In other words, just because Joffrey is Sansa’s dying solar king at the re d wedding doesn’t mean Dontos can’t also play an Azor Ahai role for Sansa here. Hearken back to the scene in King’s Landing where Dontos tries to shield Sansa from the Kingsguard abuse. The symbolism is pretty easy to recognize:

“Let me beat her!” Ser Dontos shoved forward, tin armor clattering. He was armed with a “morningstar” whose head was a melon. My Florian. She could have kissed him, blotchy skin and broken veins and all. He trotted his broomstick around her, shouting “Traitor, traitor” and whacking her over the head with the melon. Sansa covered herself with her hands, staggering every time the fruit pounded her, her hair sticky by the second blow. People were laughing. The melon flew to pieces. Laugh, Joffrey, she prayed as the juice ran down her face and the front of her blue silk gown. Laugh and be satisfied.

So here’s Dontos the red hitting Sansa with a morningstar at Joffrey’s request – it’s actually as if Dontos is the comet, wielded against the fire moon by the solar king, Joffrey. That’s something we’ve seen before – sometimes a solar figure holding a sword represents both sun and comet, other times the sun and its comet are the king and someone acting as the king’s sword. The latter scenario is what’s happening here – you’ve got admit the melon morningstar is a real prize winner (that’s another melon joke). It’s actual a lot like when the Catspaw assassin attacked Catelyn, but was really acting as a “cat’s paw” of Joffrey, and there too we saw the Catspaw as the comet wielded by the solar king. Later on, after Dontos’s death, Petyr calls Dontos his catspaw, which creates another parallel between Sansa and Cat. Cat was given weirwood stigmata by the Catspaw assassin at Winterfell, and Sansa was given weirwood stigmata by catspaw Dontos’s morningstar melon.

In any case, we have seen before that there is indeed one version of Azor Ahai who seems to be a sacrificed fool, and I believe this implies Azor Ahai foolishly seeking after the fire of the gods. He sacrificed his moon maiden wife, as well as the actual fire moon, to do so… then reaped the consequences, which included his death. Another way I’ve said this is that Azor Ahai kills Nissa Nissa to create an entrance into the weirwoodnet, then enters himself… which he does by being sacrificed to the tree. Just as with the mythical astronomy story, both the sun and moon “die” in a sort of chain reaction event.

You’ll notice that Sansa thinks of Dontos as her Florian, which implies them as man and wife and makes the metaphor even better. Sansa is literally thinking “My Florian” as he hits her with a morningstar, which gives us a willing Nissa Nissa sacrifice scenario that stands in stark contrast to the abusive Azor – Nissa relationship depicted by Joffrey and Sansa or Petyr and Sansa.

Dontos is a fool, just like Jinglebell, and Martin even has the city bells ring as Dontos first appears to Sansa in the godswood as they escape King’s Landing to enhance the vibe:

She heard a faint rustle of leaves, and stuffed the silver hair net down deep in the pocket of her cloak. “Who’s there?” she cried. “Who is it?” The godswood was dim and dark, and the bells were ringing Joff into his grave. “Me.” He staggered out from under the trees, reeling drunk. He caught her arm to steady himself. “Sweet Jonquil, I’ve come. Your Florian has come, don’t be afraid.”

We can imagine Dontos with ringing bells, like Aegon Jinglebell or even Patchface. Dontos emerges amidst the rustling of the leaves in the godswood, implying greenseer talk, and then “staggers” out from “under the trees.” These are both greenseer clues, indicating the fool figure as a stag man – like Patchface, who wears an antlered helm – and a greenseer who lives “under the trees.” Again the Florian – Jonquil dynamic is mentioned, reemphasizing Dontos as playing a husband role to Sansa’s Nissa Nissa.

So, Dontos is a foolish stag-man Azor Ahai, and as it turns out, he is indeed selling his Nissa Nissa’s life in return for dragons… which sound like meteors:

“Lord Petyr,” Dontos called from the boat. “I must needs row back, before they think to look for me.”

Petyr Baelish put a hand on the rail. “But first you’ll want your payment. Ten thousand dragons, was it?”

“Ten thousand.” Dontos rubbed his mouth with the back of his hand. “As you promised, my lord.”

“Ser Lothor, the reward.” Lothor Brune dipped his torch. Three men stepped to the gunwale, raised crossbows, fired. One bolt took Dontos in the chest as he looked up, punching through the left crown on his surcoat. The others ripped into throat and belly. It happened so quickly neither Dontos nor Sansa had time to cry out. When it was done, Lothor Brune tossed the torch down on top of the corpse. The little boat was blazing fiercely as the galley moved away.

“You killed him.” Clutching the rail, Sansa turned away and retched. Had she escaped the Lannisters to tumble into worse?

“My lady,” Littlefinger murmured, “your grief is wasted on such a man as that. He was a sot, and no man’s friend.”

“But he saved me.”

“He sold you for a promise of ten thousand dragons. Your disappearance will make them suspect you in Joffrey’s death. The gold cloaks will hunt, and the eunuch will jingle his purse. Dontos … well, you heard him. He sold you for gold, and when he’d drunk it up he would have sold you again. A bag of dragons buys a man’s silence for a while, but a well-placed quarrel buys it forever.”

He got the answer wrong – he should have asked for a thousand thousand dragons. As you can see, foolish Azor Ahai has sold his moon maiden for a bag of dragons – that’s pretty great meteor shower stuff, I mean he’s literally converting a Nissa Nissa figure into a spherical object containing dragons. Petyr, however, foresees him as “drinking up” these hard-won moon dragons which represent the fire of the gods. In other words, Dontos is seeking the fire of the gods, and he wants to consume it. But that kills him of course, as it always does, and we can see that his ten thousand dragons turns out to be three projectiles, much in the way that the thousand thousand dragons of Quarthine myth are symbolized by Dany’s three dragons. The archers shooting down from above in a surprise betrayal attack is yet another parallel to the Red Wedding which really seems obvious once you notice it.

As for Sansa hurling over the rail… well, whenever a moon maiden wretches, that’s just what you think it is, the moon face cracking open to pour forth rivers of unpleasant things. It works in parallel to the dragon arrows descending from above.

Just as Cat was thrown into the river after the Red Wedding, we have yet another stranger mockery or facsimile of the Tully funeral rights as the boat containing Dontos, now corpse-Dontos, is set on fire. More importantly, this is a screamingly obvious sea dragon clue, a parallel to the burning wooden gods of the Seven which had been made from the masts of Targaryen ships. This is Azor Ahai entering the weirwoodnet, obtaining the fire of the gods, and undergoing fire transformation, as we have seen countless times before. The Grey King possessing the fire of the sea dragon, which is both a weirwood boat and burning tree.

Alright, well that does it for that chapter. It’s time to set sail for Petyr’s ancestral home on the fingers!

Petey Got Fingered

This next section is sponsored by four more priests and priestesses of Starry Wisdom: Patchface of Motley Wisdom; Obscured by Klowds, the Mayor of Walrusville, guest of the Yupik, and servant of Bodhi; Nyessa the Water Nymph, Goddess of Pain and Mercy; and Jancylee, Lady of the Waves, Bear-Mama of the Sacred Den

The next chapter is really all about Petyr Baelish, and to a lesser extent, Lysa. The chapter begins with the Merling King drawing close to the shore near Petyr’s meager holdings on the Fingers, which is the name for the series of stony peninsulas on the northwest coast of the Vale. For the most part, this place seems to serve as an analog to the Eyrie, with the same symbolism in miniature. The main features are sheep, sheep shit, and stones – Petyr calls himself “Lord of Sheepshit and Master of the Drearfort,” for example A moment later he comments that “The Fingers are a lovely place, if you happen to be a stone,” which is actually ironic, since Sansa is changing her name to Alayne Stone. A stone in the fingers… are we talking about throwing rocks? #IceMoonApocalypse! Oh, sorry, too soon, too soon. Petyr also quips that “No one has made off with any of my rocks or sheep pellets, I see that plainly.”

So, I do, do apologize, butt I must break the seal on the #2 symbolism. By which I mean… well, the sheep pellets. First the sheep, how about that. Sheep are interesting for two reasons: Craster sacrifices sheep to the Others when he doesn’t have any male sons handy, which sort of implies the Others (Crasters sons) as analogous to sheep in some sense, and indeed, a couple of people (like SweetSunray) have done research along those lines. Craster, the father of at least a handful of white walkers, himself wears sheepskin and has curly white body hair as well. The other thing that’s interesting about sheep is that they have black skin and white wool, so they are a nice visual depiction of a black fire moon meteor dragon locked in ice. A black sheep locked in wool, I suppose it would be. Think of Jon when he goes over to the Others as the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing:

Jon wheeled and followed Tormund back toward the head of the column, his new cloak hanging heavy from his shoulders. It was made of unwashed sheepskins, worn fleece side in, as the wildlings suggested. It kept the snow off well enough, and at night it was good and warm, but he kept his black cloak as well, folded up beneath his saddle. 

Jon going north of the Wall is definitely one symbolic depiction of him going into the ice, under the ice, beyond the icy veil or curtain, and so and so forth. Slapping a sheepskin on him works on a few levels, as you can see: it depicts Jon’s locked in ice status, it makes the excellent ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ joke, and it shows Jon as a kind of ‘good Other,’ armored in ice, if you will. But hidden away under his saddle is his black cloak, just as Jon retains his true identity as  brother of the Watch.

One other thing about sheep: the Valyrians were shepherds before they were dragonlords! Does this imply Azor Ahai as the shepherd of the Others? Perhaps, perhaps, or you might say that Azor Ahai-turned-Night’s King is like the sheep all-father, like Craster.

So, that’s my take on sheep, they represent the ice moon and the Others, and those black sheep pellets would represent the expulsion of the ‘dragons’ locked in the ice, I believe. That’s why Petyr mentions the pellets in the same breath with the stones a few times, because they’re basically the same thing, moon meteor pellets and stones. Petyr remarks upon the familiar scent of the “dung fire” in the hearth, which implies them as burning moon meteors in the hearth… sounds like some Bloodstone Emperor magic to me.

The more interesting Petyr Baelish symbolism awaits inside, above that very hearth:

Above the hearth hung a broken longsword and a battered oaken shield, its paint cracked and flaking.

The device painted on the shield was one Sansa did not know; a grey stone head with fiery eyes, upon a light green field. “My grandfather’s shield,” Petyr explained when he saw her gazing at it. “His own father was born in Braavos and came to the Vale as a sellsword in the hire of Lord Corbray, so my grandfather took the head of the Titan as his sigil when he was knighted.”

“It’s very fierce,” said Sansa.

“Rather too fierce, for an amiable fellow like me,” said Petyr. “I much prefer my mockingbird.”

Remember the Ghost of High Heart speaking of Sansa slaying a savage castle in a castle built of snow? Well, it’s commonly held in the fandom that Petyr is that giant, via his Titan of Braavos head sigil. He rules atop the Giant’s Lance once he becomes Lord Protector of the Eyrie, which you can think of as the head of the giant mountain, perhaps. Gregor Clegane, the Mountain of a man who parallels the Giant’s Lance, has his head removed, supposedly, and here’s Petyr with the Titan of Braavos’s severed head on his old sigil.

Of course we know what beheadings are all about in mythical astronomy: it signifies solar and lunar death. The sun and moon are quite often seen as floating faces with invisible bodies of course, so beheading a moon person amounts to plucking the moon from the sky. Gregor Clegane is a fire moon warrior before his beheading, and only afterward does he get locked in snow white armor, so his beheading is the same symbolism as him breaking off his giant’s lance in Ser Hugh’s throat. Put it this way: imagine the dark stone of the Giant’s Lance as the decapitated head of the fire moon giant, crash-landed in the snow. That’s what Petyr represents: his family comes to the Vale with the fiery-eyed Titan head, but it gets caught in the grasp of the Fingers of the Vale, and finally, the icy Eyrie itself. The Titan Head is also implied as sinking into the sea, as it appears on a light green field. Petyr then swaps it for the mockingbird, and mockingbird folklore in the real world turns out to be closely related to mermaids and sirens. All of them share one key personality trait: they lure and entrap the unwary, often luring them to their doom. You can quickly see who this kind of folklore is a natural fit for Petyr.

Let me explain as briefly as I can.

We’ve talked about mermaids before – when the moon goddess is depicted as falling into the sea, as in the sea dragon myth and the related scene with Dany dipping into the Womb of the World, she can be scene as becoming a mermaid or sea goddess. That’s our best reading of the Elenei / Durran Godsgrief legend, where Durran steals the daughter of the wind and sea gods, who must logically be an aquatic figure, which provokes the divine wrath of the gods in the form of tremendous storms. I believe this is simply another version of the idea of a power greenseer magician stealing the moon goddess, who becomes a mermaid. The Grey King, notorious godly fire-stealer, also marries a mermaid, and to me this reads as yet another way of implying that the Grey King possess moon meteor mojo – probably the Seastone Chair, that oily black thing that dropped out Cthulhu land and landed on the shores of Old Wyk.

Here’s the thing about mermaid legends, which are plentiful and rich in nature: they almost always revolve around the idea of forbidden love based on the idea that mermaids cannot really be happy out of the sea and humans cannot be happy in it. Often the mermaid or siren is luring and entrapping humans to chase them under the sea, and sometimes it’s the other way around, with the human trapping the mermaid or selkie on land, which, spoiler alert, doesn’t usually work out. Martin references some of this in an old Andal legend of their founding hero, Hugor of the Hill, here named as Hukko:

An old legend told in Pentos claims that the Andals slew the swan maidens who lured travelers to their deaths in the Velvet Hills that lie to the east of the Free City. A hero whom the Pentoshi singers call Hukko led the Andals at that time, and it is said that he slew the seven maids not for their crimes but instead as sacrifice to his gods. There are some maesters who have noted that Hukko may well be a rendering of the name of Hugor.

Here Hugor / Hukko is slaying the swan maidens, and as you can see, they are doing the siren thing of luring travelers to their doom. Interestingly, elsewhere, Hugo Hill marries an aquatic woman instead of slaying one, and this is Tyrion reciting form the Seven-Pointed Star in ADWD:

“The Maid brought him forth a girl as supple as a willow with eyes like deep blue pools, and Hugor declared that he would have her for his bride.”

Willow trees grow near water, and their mythology reflects this by associating willow trees with water and the moon. Hecate, the Greek Goddess of the moon and sorcery, is associated with the willow. Together with the eyes like blue pools, Hugor’s maiden is definitely an aquatic figure. Point being, as is so often the case, the line between fucking and fighting is quite blurry with Hugor, as he’s both killing and marrying aquatic maidens. It’s the same with Durran ane Elenei; his claiming of Elenei form the gods dooms her to a mortal’s life span, and thus Durran is killing her as well as marrying her. That kind of fits the whole Azor Ahai Nissa Nissa vibe, and of course the celestial analog of the sun killing his wife, the moon.

One other point on willows: they’re often called “weeping willows,” which is just kind of convenient for the symbolism George already has going.

Oh, and I suppose I should mention this line about Sansa’s eyes from AFFC:

Petyr studied her eyes, as if seeing them for the first time. “You have your mother’s eyes. Honest eyes, and innocent. Blue as a sunlit sea. When you are a little older, many a man will drown in those eyes.”

Sansa did not know what to say to that.

Ok, well, a sunlit sea isn’t quite a blue pool, but of you realize that it’s much the same symbol. And look, Sansa’s trying to drown men in her sunlit sit, just like a swan maiden of Andal legend. Best of all, Sansa, like the willowy maiden of Andal legend, is also married to Hugor Hill:

Yollo? Yollo sounds like something you might name a monkey. Worse, it was a Pentoshi name, and any fool could see that Tyrion was no Pentoshi. “In Pentos I am Yollo,” he said quickly, to make what amends he could, “but my mother named me Hugor Hill.”

“Are you a little king or a little bastard?” asked Haldon.

Ha ha, that was from ADWD, and Haldon’s question refers to the the fact that Hugor Hill is the name of the greatest and first Andal King, but also that “Hill” is the bastard name in the Westerlands as “Snow” is in the north and “Stone” is in the Vale. And of course my little joke was that Sansa is technically married to Tyrion, or was, or however that works, which kind of ties a neat little bow on the aquatic lady symbolism.

So here’s where Petyr and Mockingbirds come in: the mockingbird does the same things sirens and swan maidens. Real mockingbirds are of course known for their amazing and uncanny ability to perfectly mimic a wide variety of sounds, even complex sounds like the shutter flash of an expensive camera (a sound some birds hear a lot!). This naturally gives rise to mockingbird legends where the mockingbird uses its false impressions to lure people to their doom, something like like a siren or mermaid.

If you stop and think about it, you will realize that that is exactly what Petyr does! I mean, he doesn’t wander the Red Keep trying to fool Varys by projecting his voice around corners or pretending to be Cersei or something. But he does use false words to lure the Starks, time and time again. First, he and Lysa lure Ned and crew to King’s Landing after murdering Jon Arryn and then blaming the Lannisters in the letter Cat and Ned receive at the beginning of AGOT. This is the major mechanism of plot movement in the opening act of the story, and it’s straight up Mockingbird / siren / mermaid behavior in that he uses Lysa’s voice, one the Starks trust, to lie and lure the Starks to King’s Landing, whereupon he lies some more to Ned and then betrays him. All of this comes acrooss very strongly in a nightmare Ned has while he’s imprisoned in the black cells beneath the Red Keep, which is of course largely Littlefinger’s doing:

The king heard him. “You stiff-necked fool,” he muttered, “too proud to listen. Can you eat pride, Stark? Will honor shield your children?” Cracks ran down his face, fissures opening in the flesh, and he reached up and ripped the mask away. It was not Robert at all; it was Littlefinger, grinning, mocking him. When he opened his mouth to speak, his lies turned to pale grey moths and took wing.

Moths are almost always death symbols, so here we see the mockingbird behavior summed up: Petyr mocks, and lies are like death and entrapment, as it has for Ned. Note also that Robert is a solar stag-man king all the way, and here we see him dying and giving way to the face of the dark solar king. That’s a great bit of mythical astronomy visualization, there.

After luring Ned and Cat, he lures / abducts Sansa to the Eyrie, and his doing so aboard the Merling King brings the mermaid symbolism back into the pict– excuse me, mer-MAN, sorry. Blue steel jokes aside, Petyr is both a mockingbird and a Merling King, luring Sansa with lies. Recall his light grey-green eyes, the colors of the sea.

Going back to the Titan head, we can see the full picture. The severed Titan’s head on green shows us a fiery moon meteor landing in the sea, and its transformation into the mockingbird / Merling King depicts the moon meteor as having turned into a denizen of that ‘sea’ who is now luring others in. Or, translating to ice moon and Vale language, we can say Petyr is at first like a fiery titan head meteor landing in the ice of the Vale, like the Giant’s Lance, whereupon he takes up residence there and lures and entraps Others.

In terms of Long Night archetypes, I bet you can guess who Petyr Baelish is playing the role of: Night’s King, of course! We mentioned this super briefly in A Baelish Bard and A Promised Prince, but the name bael is the calling card of figures who steal Night’s Queen figures, who are often bards. There’s, well, Bael the Bard, who ‘steals’ a blue-rose associated daughter of Winterfell, only it turns out they were in love and had a son who became the Lord of Winterfell and later killed Bael. Then in ADWD, Mance Raydar, a bard king beyond the Wall in the image of Bael, sneaks into Winterfell as Bael did, wearing the name Abel, an anagram Bael. His mission was to rescue who he thought was Arya Stark, only it turns out to be the pale and corpse-like Jeyne Poole, a most unfortunate Night’s Queen figure.

Rhaegar is perhaps the most important Bael figure, even though he doesn’t have the name. He is a bard-king, and of course he has a ton of Night’s King symbolism as we learned in the Moons of Ice and Fire series, and most famously, he ‘abducts’ Lyanna Stark of the blue winter rose, though of course they may well have been in love and absconded together.

So here we have Sansa, abducted from King’s Landing by a Bael figure, Petyr Baelish. Petyr isn’t a singer, but the other person who tries to come on to Sansa in a creepy way besides Petyr is a bard, and that of course would be Marillion the singer. Marillion and Petyr’s stories come together in the high hall of the Eyrie when Marillion takes the fall for Lysa’s murder, which was actually committed by Petyr. When Petyr comes on to Sansa in the snow castle scene and kisses her, she thinks that he acting like Marillion. In other words, the symbolism is shuffled around a bit, but we still have the Bael element and the bard element, and the abduction of a Stark maiden. There’s a callout to Lyanna as Marillion escorts Sansa to the throne room for her confrontation with Lysa:

“Do you require guarding?” Marillion said lightly. “I am composing a new song, you should know. A song so sweet and sad it will melt even your frozen heart. “The Roadside Rose,’ I mean to call it. About a baseborn girl so beautiful she bewitched every man who laid eyes upon her.”

I am a Stark of Winterfell, she longed to tell him.

She’s a Stark of Winterfell with a frozen heart who’s also a rose – a winter rose, in other words. Oh and Sansa is a witch. Well, maybe not Sansa, and maybe not Lyanna, but Night’s Queen or Nissa Nissa, yes, they’ve definitely got a witchy vibe going on.

The passage that really makes Petyr’s solar king-turned-Night’s King status is this one from AGOT, one which really sets the tone for Petyr as a character overall, and is thus worth quoting in full.

If ever truly a man had armored himself in gold, it was Petyr Baelish, not Jaime Lannister. Jaime’s famous armor was but gilded steel, but Littlefinger, ah . . . Tyrion had learned a few things about sweet Petyr, to his growing disquiet.

Ten years ago, Jon Arryn had given him a minor sinecure in customs, where Lord Petyr had soon distinguished himself by bringing in three times as much as any of the king’s other collectors. King Robert had been a prodigious spender. A man like Petyr Baelish, who had a gift for rubbing two golden dragonstogether to breed a third, was invaluable to his Hand. Littlefinger’s rise had been arrow-swift. Within three years of his coming to court, he was master of coin and a member of the small council, and today the crown’s revenues were ten times what they had been under his beleaguered predecessor . . . though the crown’s debts had grown vast as well. A master juggler was Petyr Baelish.

Oh, he was clever. He did not simply collect the gold and lock it in a treasure vault, no. He paid the king’s debts in promises, and put the king’s gold to work. He bought wagons, shops, ships, houses. He bought grain when it was plentiful and sold bread when it was scarce. He bought wool from the north and linen from the south and lace from Lys, stored it, moved it, dyed it, sold it. The golden dragons bred and multiplied, and Littlefinger lent them out and brought them home with hatchlings.

So, Petyr is armored in gold and breeds dragons… You see how clever Martin was to name a mundane thing like a coin after a dragon; it allows him to say things like “so and so really has a knack for breeding dragons” and we don’t think about Valyria or genetic blood magic experimentation or anything. Clever, clever man. And Petyr’s cast as clever man too here, of course, hinting at his Loki-like nature.

In terms of mythical astronomy, rubbing two dragons together to breed more equates to smashing the comet dragon into the moon mother of dragons, upon which time all the baby dragon moon meteors are born. The one who “rubs” the comet against the moon is usually seen as the sun, and indeed, Petyr is armored in gold and compared to an obvious solar king figure, Tywin. But when the comet is rubbed against the moon – sorry if that sounds raunchy, it’s meant to – the sun dies, or we can say it turns into the dark sun, which we think of as the Lion of Night, who came out during the Long Night after the “Maiden Made of Light” – the bright face of the sun – hid her face from the world. Sometime we sun a bright solar king turn dark, but sometimes the bright and dark sun are separate people, such as with the Maiden Made of Light and the Lion of Night. So where is the Lion of Night during the day?

Well, he’s invisible. He’s hiding, out there beyond the atmosphere in the darkness of space. The “night sun” can also be thought of as the darkness of space, and indeed, the Lion of Night is basically interchangeable with the Stranger, whom I always think of as deep space or the night sky, mainly because of this passage from ACOK:

And the seventh face . . . the Stranger was neither male nor female, yet both, ever the outcast, the wanderer from far places, less and more than human, unknown and unknowable. Here the face was a black oval, a shadow with stars for eyes. 

That was Lady Catelyn in a small local sept right before Renly’s murder. A black shadow with star eyes sounds like we are looking at the face of outer space, and since comets are called wandering stars right in the prologue of ACOK, the wanderer from far places sounds like a comet coming from deep space!

All of which is a kind of trippy way to say that in a certain sense, you can see the Lion of Night or the Stranger as the hiding out in the darkness of space during the day, sending the comet to kill the moon and the sun. THAT is what Petyr did at the Purple Wedding! He hid out, nowhere near the scene of the crime, and orchestrated catspaws – who are comet figures – to kill the sun and steal the moon away to the underworld. That’s why we meet Petyr on the ghost ship Merling King, which floats on the dark river. The dark river is an underworld place, and parallels the black ocean of space as we mentioned earlier, so we can see that the very idea of a Merling King implies a king of the dark ocean underworld, more or less.

Alright, now that we have all the symbolism of giants and mockingbirds and mermaids and mermen, plus a little nod to Lyanna Stark, let’s get back to the chapter at hand and discover yet another mythological reference that implies Petyr as trying to lure and entrap Sansa, and that is of course the pomegranate!

Grisel reappeared before he could say more, balancing a large platter. She set it down between them. There were apples and pears and pomegranates, some sad-looking grapes, a huge blood orange. The old woman had brought a round of bread as well, and a crock of butter. Petyr cut a pomegranate in two with his dagger, offering half to Sansa. “You should try and eat, my lady.”

“Thank you, my lord.” Pomegranate seeds were so messy; Sansa chose a pear instead, and took a small delicate bite. It was very ripe. The juice ran down her chin.

Lord Petyr loosened a seed with the point of his dagger. “You must miss your father terribly, I know. Lord Eddard was a brave man, honest and loyal … but quite a hopeless player.” He brought the seed to his mouth with the knife.

This is one of the more well-known references to external mythology, the pomegranate of the Persephone and Hades myth. It’s also incredibly good news for Sansa fans that she chooses not to eat the pomegranate! In any case, here is the super-condensed version of the Persephone myth for those who might not know it or might not remember it well. I’m going to use the one from because it’s concise and I couldn’t really do any better that they have already:

Persephone was the goddess queen of the underworld, wife of the god Haides(Hades). She was also the goddess of spring growth, who was worshipped alongside her mother Demeter in the Eleusinian Mysteries. This agricultural-based cult promised its initiates passage to a blessed afterlife.

Persephone was titled Kore (Core) (“the Maiden”) as the goddess of spring’s bounty. Once upon a time when she was playing in a flowery meadow with her Nymph companions, Kore was seized by Haides and carried off to the underworld as his bride. Her mother Demeter despaired at her disappearance and searched for her the throughout the world accompanied by the goddess Hekate (Hecate) bearing torches. When she learned that Zeus had conspired in her daughter’s abduction she was furious, and refused to let the earth fruit until Persephone was returned. Zeus consented, but because the girl had tasted of the food of Hades–a handful of pomegranate seeds–she was forced to forever spend a part of the year with her husband in the underworld. Her annual return to the earth in spring was marked by the flowering of the meadows and the sudden growth of the new grain. Her return to the underworld in winter, conversely, saw the dying down of plants and the halting of growth.

In other myths, Persephone appears exclusively as the queen of the underworld, receiving the likes of Herakles and Orpheus at her court.

Persephone was usually depicted as a young goddess holding sheafs of grain and a flaming torch.

So there you have it – it’s pretty straightforward cycle of the seasons mythology. Demeter is an earth-mother type fertility goddess, which is why she can stop the earth from flowering when she is displeased by the absence of her daughter, who personifies the Spring. Stealing her is somewhat the idea of Night’s King stealing Dawn during the Long Night, if you will. The key thing is the pomegranate – eating the seeds is what binds Persephone to the underworld, for whatever reason. This is the reason why one of Jon Snow’s killers, Bowen Marsh, is nicknamed “the Old Pomegranate” – he sends Jon right along to the underworld, if you will. Sansa however, she wisely refuses to eat Petyr’s pomegranate seeds.

I suggested Petyr as a Night’s King figure, and it’s not hard to see how that can overlap with the idea of Hades as a Lord of the Underworld, stealing Persephone away from the living world and binding her there with an offer of pomegranate seeds. Petyr himself eats the seeds as he speaks of Eddard in the past tense as a poor player of the game of thrones – but of course it was Petyr who sent Ned along to the underworld more than anyone else. He’s literally picking the seeds out of the fruit as he speaks of Ned’s death, as if Ned were the seed being plucked out of the realm of the living by Petyr. Here we can see George performing a nice synthesis of Persephone/pomegranate symbolism and mockingbird/mermaid symbolism. It’s all about luring and entrapping! Just what Petyr’s good at, that pointy-haired sleazeball.

It shouldn’t surprise you that the symbolism suggests Sansa as not falling into Petyr’s trap, ultimately; that fits with her slaying the savage giant as a foreshadowing of her triumphing over Petyr. The pear she eats is not insignificant either, since pears symbolize immortality in Christian mythology and Chinese mythology as well, because the pear tree will yield fruit for decades. It’s also associated with the divine feminine, goddess such as Aphrodite, who is also called Venus. It’s very much a choice in opposition of eating the pomegranate, and signifies her future escape from the traps and prisons she finds herself in.

A moment later Littlefinger tries again to feed Sansa a messy red fruit, this time a blood orange. Again he cuts it in half and offers one part to Sansa, but this time she takes it. Then we have this funny interplay:

He tilted his chin back and squeezed the blood orange, so the juice ran down into his mouth. “I love the juice but I loathe the sticky fingers,” he complained, wiping his hands. “Clean hands, Sansa. Whatever you do, make certain your hands are clean.”

Sansa spooned up some juice from her own orange.

In other words, Sansa is already learning Petyr’s lesson, using a spoon to drink the blood orange juice so her hands remain clean – as opposed to Petyr, who is caught red-handed here. Petyr is getting the weirwood stigmata, and he’s eating the pomegranate; seems like he’ll be stuck here a while, and probably he will die here in the Vale, I’d guess, or perhaps in another ice moon place like Winterfell. Sansa has clean hands and chose pears over pom seeds, so the prospects for escape are looking good!

Oh, and what’s this (holds finger to earpiece) I’m getting a message… yes, it seems there’s yet more fruit symbolism having to do with Petyr as a thief. That was our good friend from way back in the days, Isobel Harper (@sarahtebazile) buzzing in to say that we need to talk about Idun and her apples of immortality. Thanks Sarah! So, this one is a Norse myth, and Idun is the Norse god of spring and rejuvenation, very like Demeter actually. She was the keeper of the apples of immortality, on which the gods depended to stay young (although they aren’t necessarily apples; in the original tale, the word used is a generic word for fruit). You can guess what happens when she gets kidnapped! The gods grew old and weak, and this would be paralleled in ASOIAF terms by the moon disaster which caused the Long Night of course.

The parallels to Sansa and the Eyrie come with the details of Idun’s abduction. It’s a two-part dirty deed, with Loki the trickster deceiving Idun and luring her out past the walls of Asgard, where she was promptly set upon by the giant Thjazi, who was in league with Loki. Thjazi was disguised as an eagle, and bore her away to his mountain abode. Quoting NorseMytholog .org, “This place was called Thrymheim (“Thunder-Home”), and was situated in the highest mountain peaks, whose icy towers growled down at the fertile fields below.” Sounds like some place we know? I mean, if anything inspired the Eyrie, this seems like it, especially with so much of the Idun kidnapping storyline playing out there. It would seem that Petyr plays the role of both Loki and abducting giant. Petyr doesn’t transform into an eagle, but by becoming Lord Protector of the Vale, he’s essentially pretending to be the Falcon, and obviously he’s abducting Sansa, the Idun figure. Petyr’s parallels to Loki should be abundantly obvious, I am sure, knowing you myth heads as well as I do.

Another great layer to this is the fire of the gods angle brought in by Idun’s fruits of immortality: once again the fire moon figure is implied as the fire of the gods, and Nissa Nissa as the one who can impart the fire of the gods to man. Petyr is therefore not only Loki and the giant kidnapping Idunn, he’s also Lucifer or the Grey King stealing the fire from heaven at great cost to everyone.

Last detail of the story: after Loki helps Thjazi kidnap Idunn, the gods are of course wroth with him and force him to rescue Idunn. Freya lent him her hawk (or falcon) feathers, and this allowed Loki to now transform into a hawk or falcon, depending on the translation. He flies up, finds the giant away and Idunn alone, and transforms her into a chestnut so he can carry her to safety – don’t ask me how he’s able to do that, he just does. You may recall the shade of hair Sansa dyes her auburn red to – that’s right, chestnut brown. It’s mentioned on several occasions, and it seems to really clinch to Idunn – Sansa parallels.

Making a prediction from the myth, I’d look for some sort of Loki and / or falcon symbolism attached to whomever helps Sansa escape the Vale and Petyr’s clutches. I think Sansa will largely engineer her own escape, but doubtless she’ll receive aid from someone. She’s a dragon locked in ice character, and there’s always some sort of symbol of the returning comet which awakens and frees the dragon locked in ice.

Now to the point about her engineering her own escape, consider the Ghost of the High Heart seeing her as a maiden in a castle made of snow slaying a savage giant. Idunn is trapped in a snow castle by a giant, and needs to be rescued – but George is telling us, straight up, that he is going to mess with the myth a bit and that this time it is going to be Idun cutting that mother-effing giant’s head off instead. You gotta like that.

Okay, there’s a tiny bit more I want to say about this chapter before we bring this episode to a close, but I am going to put in a section break and use this last section as a kind of outro.

In the Clutches of the Others

On behalf of Lady Shar, Wielder of the Sacred Shard, Ice Priestess of the House of the Unsleeping, I’d like to welcome three new members of the Starry Wisdom Priesthood: Ser Aenus Frey of the Loudwater, Ridiculous Edd Tollett, the Firebeard of the dragonglass forge, whose eyes are like pale morning mist; and Matthar o’ Moontown, fisher of the Shining Sea

There’s actually quite a lot that goes on in this chapter that we haven’t talked about, and some of it I want to save for when we talk about the snow castle / Lysa flies out the moon door chapter. But there are three things I do want to highlight, starting with a guest appearance by the Hound, Sandor Clegane!

That’s right, Sandor definitely makes an appearance in the back half of this chapter. The first sighting comes in the form of an actual dog:

It was eight long days until Lysa Arryn arrived. On five of them it rained, while Sansa sat bored and restless by the fire, beside the old blind dog. He was too sick and toothless to walk guard with Bryen anymore, and mostly all he did was sleep, but when she patted him he whined and licked her hand, and after that they were fast friends.

Alright, so she’s made friends with and old blind dog, so what? Well, later that night after the wedding, when Sansa is going to sleep, the dog becomes more interesting:

Sansa found Bryen’s old blind dog in her little alcove beneath the steps, and lay down next to him. He woke and licked her face. “You sad old hound,” she said, ruffling his fur.

A sad old Hound, aye? Now think about him being too sick and toothless to walk the guard anymore, and think of how the Hound has seemingly become the gravedigger in the Quiet Isle, where he is very much a reborn, but silent and you might say “toothless” hound for now. No offense to Sandor; the point is, he’s not swinging his sword any more, and he doesn’t stand guard or fight as he has done his whole life. He traded his sword for a shovel, for the time being.

The very next sentence has Marillion arriving, drunk and boorish. And look, you know someone is bad when they are cruel to animals:

The old dog raised his head and growled, but the singer gave him a cuff and sent him slinking off, whimpering.

So there’s the old sad hound, trying to protect Sansa as Sandor did at King’s Landing. The dog fails, but then Lothor Brune appears to halt the attempted assault. Except.. is it Lothor Brune?

Sansa heard the soft sound of steel on leather. “Singer,” a rough voice said, “best go, if you want to sing again.” The light was dim, but she saw a faint glimmer of a blade.

The singer saw it too. “Find your own wench—” The knife flashed, and he cried out. “You cut me!”

“I’ll do worse, if you don’t go.”

And quick as that, Marillion was gone. The other remained, looming over Sansa in the darkness. “Lord Petyr said watch out for you.” It was Lothor Brune’s voice, she realized. Not the Hound’s, no, how could it be? Of course it had to be Lothor …

That night Sansa scarcely slept at all, but tossed and turned just as she had aboard the Merling King. She dreamt of Joffrey dying, but as he clawed at his throat and the blood ran down across his fingers she saw with horror that it was her brother Robb. And she dreamed of her wedding night too, of Tyrion’s eyes devouring her as she undressed. Only then he was bigger than Tyrion had any right to be, and when he climbed into the bed his face was scarred only on one side. “I’ll have a song from you,” he rasped, and Sansa woke and found the old blind dog beside her once again. “I wish that you were Lady,” she said.

So, Sansa thinks Lothor is Sandor for a moment, then dreams of Sandor, then the last sentence has Sandor talking to Sansa as she wakes up to find the old blind dog, almost as if Sandor transformed into the sad old hound.

The other thing I notice is the potential other wordplay. When Marillion leaves, “the other remained,” and that other happens to have “other” in his name, as Lothor without the ‘L’ is othor. Say, that’s the name of a Night’s Watchmen who was wighted in a AGOT, and the same wight who had the moon face that filled Jon’s world before he slashed it and then burned it! I suggested his name, other, and his ice moon face made him representative of the Others in general, and I must make the same conclusion of Lothor Brune here. He appears and cuts Marillion, drawing blood, and I am reminded of the Others bloodying their swords on Ser Waymar together.  Marillion is a baelish bard Night’s King figure in parallel to Petyr as I mentioned earlier, and so what he have here is Lothor Brune being cast as the good Other, the Eldric Snowbeard blood-of-the-Other Stark. You could also imply a blood magic ritual here, where Lothor the Other needs the blood of Night’s King to come alive.

Flashing back to Dontos’ death scene, Lothor gets other wordplay:

“Ser Lothor, the reward.” Lothor Brune dipped his torch. Three men stepped to the gunwale, raised crossbows, fired. One bolt took Dontos in the chest as he looked up, punching through the left crown on his surcoat. The others ripped into throat and belly.”

Almost sounds a bit like the prologue of AGOT, doesn’t it, with the Others ripping into the poor Ser Waymar. Lothor commands the Others here, which again fits his symbolism.

Finally, Lothor’s nickname is “Lothor Apple-Eater,” for his capturing or killing of three Fossoways during the Battle of the Blackwater. But considering Sansa as Idun… Lothor the Other is an apple eater means that the Others are indeed immortal in some sense. ice preserves, after all. Or it might imply Lothor as playing a reanimated good other / Eldric figure, with apples being symbolic of being resurrected. I favor the former – he attained the fiery apples of the gods, but has become a frozen fire of the gods figure. Sandor himself deserves an entire essay, but it should be clear at a glance that he is a fire and ice, Azor Ahai reborn hellhound figure, very much like the good Other / Eldric archetype. After his initial barbarism of killing Micah the butcher’s boy, mostly what he does is protect Starks for the rest of the books, so much so that Sansa imagines him as her mysterious protector when Lothor comes to her aid.

Okay, so that’s your Sandor appearance, chanelled through Lothor Brune and the blind old dog. Now let’s let Lysa make her appearance. Lysa’s Night’s Queen symbolism comes across pretty clearly when she arrives at the Fingers.

Petyr knelt to kiss her fingers. “The king’s small council commanded me to woo and win you, my lady. Do you think you might have me for your lord and husband?”

Lady Lysa pooched her lips and pulled him up to plant a kiss upon his cheek. “Oh, mayhaps I could be persuaded.” She giggled. “Have you brought gifts to melt my heart?”

“The king’s peace.”

“Oh, poo to the peace, what else have you brought me?”

“My daughter.” Littlefinger beckoned Sansa forward with a hand. “My lady, allow me to present you Alayne Stone.”

Lysa Arryn did not seem greatly pleased to see her. Sansa did a deep curtsy, her head bowed. “A bastard?” she heard her aunt say. “Petyr, have you been wicked? Who was her mother?”

“The wench is dead. I’d hoped to take Alayne to the Eyrie.”

“What am I to do with her there?”

“I have a few notions,” said Lord Petyr. “But just now I am more interested in what I might do with you, my lady.” All the sternness melted off her aunt’s round pink face, and for a moment Sansa thought Lysa Arryn was about to cry.

Starting with Lysa the ice queen, we see that there are two mentions of her melting – and of course that implies her as made of ice. Indeed, when the sterness “melts off” her face, Sansa thinks she’s going to cry, and this directly implies the tears as the meltwater runoff from Lysa the melting ice queen. It’s just the like the melting Wall being seen as weeping – Lysa is melting and about to weep. We’ll see a ton more of this in her death scene where cries and speaks of the Tears of Lys before getting thrown out of the moon door like a falling ice moon meteor, which is what the icy tear symbolizes.

Ice tears also symbolize the Others, and while speaking of the Vale lords who are courting her, Lysa mentions the uber-annoying Bronze Yohn Royce and then says “And the others all swarm around me.” Of course they do, you’re the Night’s Queen. The Queen Bee of the icy honeycomb, around whom the Others swarm like ice bees. Now there’s a nasty thought… probably worse than ice spiders when you think about it. Ice bees? No thanks. Kidding aside, think of all the frozen honeycomb symbolism we’ve seen so far… to get honey, you have to have bees.

Second observation, Lysa is looking for Petyr to melt her heart, and it is Petyr who melts the sternness off of her (and who makes her cry in her death scene, for that matter). This implies Petyr the Night’s King giving his fire to Lysa, which fits my hypothesis that Night’s King was an Azor Ahai person with the fiery blood of the dragon in his veins. This is paralleled in Marillion’s advances on Sansa, which begins with the line “The night is chill and wet. Let me warm you,” and continues with the line

I never get drunk. Mead only makes me merry. I am on fire.

So we have the Baelish one and the bard, both trying to warm up these cold women. Marillion puts his greasy, dirty, lowlife hand on Sansa’s thigh (how dare he!) and says “and you as well,” implying her as being on fire for him- but of course she is not. In any case, we will revisit some of this in the next episode, but I wanted to make the point about Petyr and Marillion as fiery men trying to melt ice queens.

Last point, and then we’ll go. As I mentioned, the Fingers seem to be analogous to the Eyrie, or serve as an extension of the Eyrie. This gives me a great excuse to use an obscure bit of mythical astronomy from TWOIAF concerning two ancient First Men heroes of the Fingers:

Dywen Shell and Jon Brightstone, both of whom claimed the title King of the Fingers, went so far as to pay Andal warlords to cross the sea, each thinking to use their swords against the other. Instead the warlords turned upon their hosts. Within a year Brightstone had been taken, tortured, and beheaded, and Shell roasted alive inside his wooden longhall. An Andal knight named Corwyn Corbray took the daughter of the former for his bride and the wife of the latter for his bedwarmer, and claimed the Fingers for his own (though Corbray, unlike many of his fellows, never named himself a king, preferring the more modest style of Lord of the Five Fingers).

First off, Dywen Shell and Jon Brightstone? Dywen and Jon are Night’s Watch rangers locked in the ice of the Wall. And what do you call a bright stone inside a shell? Some kind of meteor locked in an ice moon, naturally. Jon is the dragon locked in ice, so it’s logical to see him inside the shell. The shell is Dywen Shell, and he is burned alive in his wooden longhall, which reminds us that Dywen the Night’s Watch ranger has wooden teeth. Burning in a wooden building implies someone going into the weirwoodnet as Azor Ahai did… or waking in fire from the ice moon, like the moon faced Othor did when he burned, and like the King of Winter wicker man is supposed to burn to bring the spring. I’m not sure what the meaning is of Corwyn Corbray taking the daughters of each slain lord to bed, save for that it kind of implies him as unifying two oppositional things. Perhaps we can speculate about this in the follow up QnA livestream next week.

The idea of Jon Brightstone living at the fingers also has parallels with the idea of Sansa living at the fingers as Alayne Stone. We mentioned that Petyr says the Fingers are a great place to live if you are a stone, but that Sansa is a Stone, and along those same lines, when Sansa gets to the Fingers, she compares it to being held prisoner at the Red Keep and thinks that she could indeed make a home here at the Fingers. Then, during their confrontation in the high hall, Lysa threatens to send Sansa back here to the Fingers to live. So, stones live at the Fingers. Or, they symbolically die and rest there, or even really die and rest there, as Jon Brightstone did. And if the Fingers are parallel to the Eyrie as an ice moon place, we think of the Giant’s Lance and all the ice moon meteor shower symbolism, and then look back at the Fingers again.. and we see a giant, truly giant hand holding thousands of cold stones… and one Alayne Stone, who may still be fiery Sansa Stark underneath.

Sansa Stark is indeed in the clutches of of an ice giant, or perhaps the giant hands of the Others. Check out this scene from the high hall of the Eyrie

The High Hall had been closed since Lady Lysa’s fall, and it gave Sansa a chill to enter it again. The hall was long and grand and beautiful, she supposed, but she did not like it here. It was a pale cold place at the best of times. The slender pillars looked like fingerbones, and the blue veins in the white marble brought to mind the veins in an old crone’s legs. Though fifty silver sconces lined the walls, less than a dozen torches had been lit, so shadows danced upon the floors and pooled in every corner. Their footsteps echoed off the marble, and Sansa could hear the wind rattling at the Moon Door. I must not look at it, she told herself, else I’ll start to shake as badly as Robert.

So, those blue-veined marble pillars are now like fingerbones, huh? A moment later there’s a line about the “long blue carpet that ran between the rows of bone-white pillars.” Martin really wants to call our attention to it: first he tells us veined with blue like blue blood, then he tells us to think of fingerbones and the notorious “bone white” phrase.

When he opened his eyes the Other’s armor was running down its legs in rivulets as pale blue blood hissed and steamed around the black dragonglass dagger in its throat. It reached down with two bone-white hands to pull out the knife, but where its fingers touched the obsidian they smoked.

Sam rolled onto his side, eyes wide as the Other shrank and puddled, dissolving away. In twenty heartbeats its flesh was gone, swirling away in a fine white mist. Beneath were bones like milkglass, pale and shiny, and they were melting too. 

The Others have bone-white hands, just like the bone white fingerbone columns at the Eyrie. The others have blue blood, like the columns and stone of the Eyrie. In other words, Sansa is standing in the hands of the Others, with their icy fingers closing around her. No wonder the hall is so cold! This is parallel to the idea of her living at the Fingers, where again she is inside huge, cold hands. Bone white stone columns also evoke the ribs of Nagga the “sea dragon,” which appear to be petrified weirwood, turned to pale stone. It is implied that a weirwood throne once sat in the Grey King’s hall, just as a weirwood throne sits in the high hall of the Eyrie, between those bone-white stone columns… we’ll just have to come back to that topic, now won’t we?

Going back to the previous quote, the chilly high hall has fewer than a dozen torches lit, so the shadows danced and pooled. Dancing shadows is obvious Others talk, since they are shadows that dance with Ser Waymar (and we’ll talk about Patchface and his “shadows come to dance my lord” rhymes soon). Shadows that turn into pools? Well that’s Ser Puddles again, as the Other who Sam stabs and melts is commonly known. Once again we see how unified Martin’s symbolism is: the pooling shadows work together with the blue blood and bone white fingers to collectively imply the presence of the Others.

So what about the dragonglass that melts the Other in Sam’s scene? Is there an analog for that here in the high hall of the Eyrie? Well, that would be Sansa, and here I will give the hat-tip to Maester Merry for this find. Remember when Lysa asked Petyr what he had brought to melt her heart? He said “the King’s peace,” she was not impressed, and then he said “and my daughter Alayne.” The thing is, Sansa IS the king’s “piece,” as in chess piece. Don’t forget at the end of the previous Sansa chapter which ends with everyone on board the Merling king, Petyr gives that cute little speech to Sansa about players and pieces, and about how everyone starts out as a piece. Giving a shout-out to my friends at Pawn to Player, where you can find all things Sansa and much more, Sansa’s arc can indeed be summarized as “pawn to player,” and it flows from this conversation with Petyr an Sansa’s obvious trajectory towards power and leadership.

So, Sansa is the King’s piece – first she was a pawn of Joffrey, and now of Petyr the Merling King and symbolic Night’s King. In the mythical astronomy sense, she’s also the fire moon meteor that enters the ice moon – and when that fire moon meteor wakes, it will indeed melt the ice moon. So what did Petyr bring to Melt Lysa’s icy heart? The King’s piece, Sansa, a burnt piece of the fire moon. I will also point out that Sansa parallels Jon as the dragon locked in ice, and dragonglass is Jon’s symbol. Good for melting ice, I’ve heard. It’s a bright stone when it’s in the form of a lit glass candle.

What we are seeing at the Eyrie with Sansa and Lysa appears to be the new ice queen basically supplanting the old one. Or perhaps we might say that dead Nissa Nissa or Nissa Nissa’s ghost is taken over the ice moon and evicted Night’s Queen. This matches the mythical astronomy of my theory about the Dawn meteor: that it was a piece of the ice moon which was cracked off when the original fire moon meteor hit the ice moon and became the dragon locked in ice. Indeed, almost as soon as Petyr brings a dead Nissa Nissa to the Eyrie, Lysa ends up falling out the moon door like a melting tear, weeping all the way. An icy moon maiden flying out of the moon door and falling from the sky, that’s pretty clear ice moon meteor symbolism if anything is, right? And once again, this happens as a direct result of a fire moon remnant impacting the Eyrie, just as I have speculated since my very first draft, more than three years ago!

This supplanting idea will be a major topic of the next episode or two, where we will try to drill down on the relationship between dead Nissa Nissa and Night’s Queen and what exactly happens inside the “ice moon” part of the underworld. We’ll also go deeper on the idea of the weirwoodnet acting as a sort of portal from fire to ice, and we’ll talk about the weirwoods as bridges, and what all this cosmic river and frozen pond stuff has to do with squishers and Patchface. It’s going to be the most magical and metaphysical series yet, and we will be building on all of the prior episodes of Mythical Astronomy to begin to tie together the crucial triumvirate of Azor Ahai and dragons, greenseers and weirwoods, and the Others and ice magic. Thanks for joining me, and I will see you all next time!






Once, when she was just a little girl, a wandering singer had stayed with them at Winterfell for half a year. An old man he was, with white hair and windburnt cheeks, but he sang of knights and quests and ladies fair, and Sansa had cried bitter tears when he left them, and begged her father not to let him go. “The man has played us every song he knows thrice over,” Lord Eddard told her gently. “I cannot keep him here against his will. You need not weep, though. I promise you, other singers will come.”


Vale of Frozen Tears

Well, here we are – arrived in the Vale of Arryn, at last. It’s an ice moon symbol so massive and spectacular that I simply had to save it for it’s own day in the sun. The Vale has the entire vocabulary of the ice moon on display, and so I’ve been tempted to bring it up many times throughout the Moons of Ice and Fire series and Blood of the Other series, but it so quickly becomes a new section and blows up my current train of thought that I usually end up cutting it out. So now it’s all piled up high, like a mountain of snow, and now it’s time to trigger an avalanche of ice moon symbolism.

There’s another reasaon I set aside the lovely and surprisingly lively Vale of Arryn, and all the wondrous symbolism that goes on there: it brings up a whole new topic that is central to the mysteries we’ve been pursuing thus far. What topic is this? Well, it’s the title of this new series: signs and portals. The name is a continuation of my little joke of aping the title of famous bookss in Planetosi lore – first my Bloodstone Compendium to mime Colloquo Votar’s Jade Compendium, and of course “Signs and Portents” is the book which supposedly contains all the prophecies by Daenys the Dream Targaryen, who foresaw the Doom (again, supposedly) twelve years before it happened, enabling the Targaryens to relocate to Dragonstone and become the only living Valyrian-blooded family in possession of dragons in the world.

But what we are looking for, and what I’ve been building up to for quiiiiiiite a while now is the idea of portals, so we’re looking for signs of portals. They are everywhere, and we’ve actually been talking about them for a while now, beating around the proverbial burning bush if you will. The so-called “weirwoodnet” is certainly a kind of portal which greenseers can use to project their consciousness across time and space. Any time someone dies and comes back from death, that’s going to involve portal symbolism. And I don’t want you to think we are talking about portals because they are magical and fun and I’ve just sort of chosen them for a topic. I think longtime Mythical Astronomers know that I’m always following a few main threads of symbolism and meaning and building upon past ideas and discoveries to sort of feel our way around in the dark and discover the secrets Martin wants to keep hidden… well mostly hidden. These lines of research mostly dictate the topic, in that I’m always writing about whatever I feel needs to come next based on what we’ve learned so far.

The three main threads we’ve followed up to this point are the Technicolor Trident Trio, R G and B. Roy G Biv, the man with a multicolor, multi-pronged eating utensil. By which I mean… fire magic, ice magic, and greenseer magic. Dragons, Others, and Weirwoods.

We started with quite a lot about dragons of course, with five of the Bloodstone Compendium dedicated to dragons, Azor Ahai, the Long Night disaster, the truth of the sword known as “Lightbringer,” and so on.

Bloodstone Compendium
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

Moons of Ice and Fire
I: Shadow Heart Mother
II: Dawn of the Others
III: Visenya Draconis
IV: The Long Night Was His to Rule
V: R+L=J, A Recipe for Ice Dragons

The Blood of the Other
–  Prelude to a Chill
I: A Baelful Bard & a Promised Prince
II: The Stark that Brings the Dawn
III: Eldric Shadowchaser
IV: Prose Eddard
V: Ice Moon Apocalypse

Sacred Order of Green Zombies
I: The Last Hero & the King of Corn
II: King of Winter, Lord of Death
III: The Long Night’s Watch

Weirwood Compendium
I: The Grey King & the Sea Dragon
II: A Burning Brandon
III: Garth of the Gallows
IV: In a Grove of Ash
V: To Ride the Green Dragon

Weirwood Goddess
I: Venus of the Woods
II: It’s an Arya Thing
III: The Cat Woman Nissa Nissa

Signs and Portals
I: Veil of Frozen Tears
II: Sansa Locked in Ice

Now in PODCAST form!

Click to open in iTunes

The Sacred Order of Green Zombies delved into the hidden virtues of zombie-hood, which seems to mostly tie to greenseer and weirwood magic, but also seems to incorporate ice magic (in the case of Coldhands) and fire magic (as with the symbolism and foreshadowing of the Night’s Watch as fire wights). A lot of the green man folkore in the Green Zombies series is also good general background for understanding the greenseers, the children of the forest, and House Stark’s role as the King of Winter (which, spoiler alert, charges him with self sacrificial immolation to bring the spring).

Then I had a true bolt of lightning brainwave, of the biggest since my original discovery of moon meteors, and that was the idea of Azor Ahai being a greenseer, or perhaps we should say “someone who entered the weirwoodnet.” Ravenous Reader likes to say “I put the fire in the tree,” and what I am talking about here is Weirwood Compendium 1: The Grey King and the Sea Dragon. It’s an accurate but unfortunately misleading name for an essay which should probably have been called “OMG AZOR AHAI WAS A MOTHERF—ING GREENSEER Y’ALL!” It’s simply a quirk of the fact that the Ironborn mythology just so happens to be the key to understanding how Lightbringer & moon meteor magic and weirwood / greenseer magic are linked to one another as the two sides of the “fire of the gods” coin. I imagine a gold coin with one side having a Garth head like the pre-Targaryen Westerosi gold coins had, and the other with a Targaryen dragon such as all the post-conquest gold coins have had. After Grey King and the Sea dragon, the weirwood compendium series mostly explored the greenseer / weirwood connection and the related lore Martin used to craft it, although we continued to see signs of Azor Ahai running around inside the weirwoodnet – nowhere more so than in Weirwood Compendium 4: In a Grove of Ash, where we caught him red-handed in the act of going into the trees.

In a Grove of Ash really tied together two of the three branches of the story: fire magic and the weirwoodnet. I’m not even going to begin to summarize; that’s a good one to re-listen to if you don’t remember it well. In fact, that’s kind of where this introduction is going: to really get the Signs and Portals series, you kinda need to catch up on any back episodes you haven’t listened to – the scripted episodes only, I’m talking about. I wrote the Moons of Ice and Fire to be accessible for anyone who simply knows my basic moon meteor theory, but at this point we’re ready to begin tying things together like never before, and for that to work, it’s necessary to understand what we’ve uncovered so far.

Now when we followed Azor Ahai’s path into the ‘grove of ash,’ a euphemism for the weirwoodnet, we made another discovery: Nissa Nissa was already there waiting for us. Thus was the Weirwood Goddess series born. Nissa Nissa, it seems, is some sort of elf-woman tied to the weirwoods, almost certainly a human-children of the forest hybrid or a straight-up child of the forest. Heck, maybe the green men have green woman who are taller and more to Azor’s liking. Any-who, it seems that when Azor Ahai sacrificed Nissa Nissa in some sort of magic ritual, she went into the weirwoods first… and not only that, I believe that the indications point towards her being the person the opened up the weirwoodnet for greenseers to inhabit in the first place. Nissa Nissa’s symbolism has led us to describe her as “the weirwood goddess,” and this is an archetype played by all the fiery Nissa Nissa characters, almost too many to count off quickly. Nissa Nissa is analogous to the weirwood tree itself, and here I believe the symbolism is somewhat literal. The weirwoodnet IS Nissa Nissa, in some sense, almost as if her mind merging with the weirwood tree conscious created the weirwoodnet as we know it today, and every greenseer is living inside the mind of dead Nissa Nissa.

Or something. As I like to say, “something along those lines,” because we’re getting closer to the frontier of what I’ve already explored a bit and feel I understand with some degree of confidence. I mean, not that close, I have lots and lots of notes for episodes to come… but as I start this series, I have serious, central questions that I do not currently know the answers too that I hope to discover in the process of writing and researching these episodes. I’ll introduce a couple of those to you today in these first two episodes.

I will say this, right off the bat: a lot of the mystery has to do with people going in and out of the weirwoodnet. We’ve caught Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa both going in there, we’ve begun to see that the Others probably come out of there, something we still need to talk about. Just as Nissa Nissa seems linked to the weirwoods, Night’s Queen does to, and say, is there a connection between Nissa Nissa and Night’s Queen? IS Nissa Nissa Night’s Queen? Or, more like, did dead Nissa Nissa become the infamous Corpse Queen of the Night’s King whom we call Night’s Queen? The weirwoodnet seem to be a sort of underworld, and it seems to be a potential vehicle for transformation – particularly as people go into or come out of it.

Thus, we’ve reached the central topic of Signs and Portals: the idea of the weirwoodnet as a door and everything that goes along with that. The means by which that door is created, used, abused, and perhaps shut. Who goes in and out, and what happens to them as they do. Most importantly, what’s it like inside? Are people stuck in there, and if so, who? Are there rescue missions, battle going on in there? Is it all one place, or are there sections? Ah, but I get ahead of myself. I think you lords and ladies get the idea.

So, with all that said, this is still the Sansa / Vale episode, or at least, this one and the next one and probably the one after that. As I said at the beginning, one of the reasons I held off on the Eyrie stuff is because so much of it has to do with the portal symbolism, and I just wasn’t ready to talk about it yet. We’re going to approach the Eyrie and the Vale as an ice moon symbol, because that’s clearly what it is and it’s basically the only ice moon symbol place we haven’t been too yet, but the portal stuff is going to begin creeping in pretty fast. Actually, right at the beginning. The Eyrie seems to be all about the ice moon with a special emphasis on doors, entrances, and exits, and yes, we’re going to talk about the Moon Door, of course. It’s made of weirwood, after all, and it turns people into moon meteors.

I’d like stop and say my thanks yous here – thanks first of all to Maester Merry, my friend from the IRL since Con of Thrones, for live performing the vocal readings from the text. Thanks to Stanley Black for the powerful-as-ever introduction music, and thanks to John Walsh for our flamenco guitar music. Thanks to George R. R. Martin for writing the books, and thanks most of all of you who’ve chosen to support Mythical Astronomy on Patreon. It really does mean a lot when someone new throws down to keep the lights on and the fires burning in the hearth, so what I’m trying to say is… you all are my light-bringers, and the wind beneath my wings. We’ve had a nice wave of new patrons since Con of Thrones and my recent appearances on certain podcasts of notoriety who are not podcasts, and you’ll be hearing some new nicknames for sure today. In fact, I’d like to welcome our new Guardian of the Galaxy Patron, Catherina of the Many Tongues, the Twin Claw, Righteous Sword of the Smallfolk and earthly avatar of Heavenly House Gemini. If you want to check out our Patreon campaign and get yourself a cool nickname and even early access to the scripted episodes, just go to LucifermeansLightbringer and click the Patreon tab, or search for Lucifermeans etc etc on Patreon. That’s why I use LmL, because the whole thing is long to say a lot. So thanks everyone, and let’s do this.

Vale of Frozen Tears

This section is sponsored with love by two brand new members of the Starry Wisdom Priesthood: Stone Dancer, The Mind’s Eye, Whorl-Master of the Trident, and Codfish the Steelbender, who words are “Under the Sea, all the metalworkers are codfish.”

We talked about the Vale and the Eyrie a little bit in the Ice Moon Apocalypse episode when we mentioned the legend of Alyssa’s tears and the icy waterfall that bears her name, and that’s actually a terrific place to start understanding the symbolism of the Vale. We compared the icy waterfall named for Alyssa to the icy waterfall in the Frostfangs that Jon Snow and Qhorin Halfhand ride through in order to take refuge in a secret cave. It was described as a moonlit curtain of water, and when Jon rides through, “the falling water slapped at them with frozen fists, and the shock of the cold seemed to stop Jon’s breath.” I pointed this out as being clear death foreshadowing language, and basically identical to the language describing Varamyr Sixskins’ death, where “he felt a shock of cold, as if he had been plunged into the icy waters of a frozen lake.”

We’ve talked a bit about how plunging through the waters of an icy lake seems to be a metaphor for an icy death transformation, or perhaps even turning into an Other or ice priestess such as we believe Night’s Queen to be. And you know what that makes the icy lake and icy waterfall symbols? Portals, that’s right! The simple way to say it is that they mark one’s entrance into the symbolic realm of the ice moon and the Others.  When Jon goes through the icy, moonlit curtain of water and his breath is stopped, that’s what’s going on – the cave represents the inside of the ice moon, which also seems to represent the realm of the dead, and so Jon’s death is foreshadowed as he walks through the curtain. He’s entering the frozen part of hell, if you will, where the dragon known as Lucifer is imprisoned in a frozen lake.

Speaking of Dante, did you know that beast version of Lucifer trapped in the frozen lake has three heads which cry icy tears that in turn form the lake? I know, I know, three heads has the dragon, and icy tears like Alyssa. Poor, sad Lucifer, trapped in the cold lake, crying forever. It’s okay, he won’t stay there forever, MUAH HA HA HA oh sorry. No weird comments, please.

In any case, the point is that this curtain of water is clearly a kind of demarcation between outside and inside, between the realm of the living and the realm of the dead. This metaphorical partition or barrier is often referred to as “the veil of tears,” such as when Davos sees the frozen dragons on Dragonstone stirring as if to wake when Mel and Stannis do their Lightbringer ritual:

They were all afire now, Maid and Mother, Warrior and Smith, the Crone with her pearl eyes and the Father with his gilded beard; even the Stranger, carved to look more animal than human. The old dry wood and countless layers of paint and varnish blazed with a fierce hungry light. Heat rose shimmering through the chill air; behind, the gargoyles and stone dragons on the castle walls seemed blurred, as if Davos were seeing them through a veil of tears. Or as if the beasts were trembling, stirring . . .

Hopefully you can see the veil / Vale wordplay by now: the “Vale” of Arryn, with its frozen waterfall, in many ways represents a frozen version of the veil of tears, and everything that lies beyond it. It represents the ice moon, as I’ve said, and therefore it symbolizes the death realm, the frozen hell. The cold place beyond the veil of tears. Now although the Vale itself is very nice – it’s a lovely, picturesque fertile valley that rivals the output of the Reach -the symbolism of the Eyrie in particular is ice cold and as blue as the eyes of death, to use a well-known phrase.

This veil and curtain language has been used prominently in another famous ice moon location, and you may be thinking of it already:

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?” Bran said, not understanding, falling, falling.

Because winter is coming.

That’s right, it’s the great curtain of light that guards the Heart of Winter, a.k.a. Aurora Borealis, a.k.a. ‘the dawn of the north.’ Beyond that curtain is the Heart of Winter – symbolically, the heart of the ice moon, where something truly terrible lies. Haven’t you always wondered what Bran saw there that was so terrifying? What secret lies in the Heart of Winter? George has said that TWOW will take us farther north than ever before, so perhaps we’ll find out soon, but what if we didn’t have to wait that long? Well, through symbolism, we can go where no POV character has yet gone and penetrate the Heart of Winter, which is in fact what we do every time we look inside an ice moon symbol!

When we cracked Winterfell open and peered inside looking for what was in the ice moon, we found the original Kings of Winter – who surely have some connection to the Others – as well as a ton of symbolism about Jon, the archetypal King of Winter for the main story. Related to Jon, we also found the infamous dragon locked in ice motif that we seem to find everywhere ice moons are symbolized. We don’t have to beat that one to death; we know about the dragon locked in the ice.

But we’ve found other things inside the ice moon too when we’ve looked at Other ice moon places, like Dawn. In the cave Jon and Qhorin hid in, we saw a symbol of Dawn in the shimmering pale stripe of moonlight that shone through the waterfall and projected on to the sand, which was followed shortly by a reference to waiting for the dawn. This is yet another piece of evidence supporting an icy origin story for the sword Dawn, as is the fact that the Wall, another ice moon symbol, is compared to Dawn on several occasions which we’ve discussed thoroughly. George gave the Aurora Borealis, which means “dawn of the north,” a prominent place guarding the Heart of Winter, almost as if Dawn and the Others are a weird version of the archangel with the flaming sword who guards the entrance to the garden of Eden. White Harbor is another ice moon place, it has that river called the White Knife which froze over when Brandon Ice Eyes came down during a cruel long winter. The Kingsguard’s snow white blazons shine like the dawn, and of course they all bunk together at the lovely and picturesque White Sword Tower.

You guys get the picture – Dawn is something that “comes from the ice moon,” either symbolically or, as I believe, literally, with the Dawn meteor having been chipped off the ice moon during the first Long Night moon disaster, what we think of as the destruction of the “fire moon.” A similar message, which is not at all in conflict, would simply be that Dawn was not forged at Starfall, but in the North, and has some tie to ice magic, Starks, and the Others.

Returning to Jon walking through the waterfall curtain and into ice moon world amidst death foreshadowing, let me make a non-mythical astronomy point. Before I was even thinking about something called an ice moon, I read this scene and at some point was reminded of Bran’s vision of the curtain of light around the Heart of Winter and Jon growing pale and hard at the Wall. Both scenes have Jon death foreshadowing, and the moonlit waterfall curtain reminded me of the curtain of light, so I read it and saw it as foreshadowing of Jon going beyond the curtain of light and into the Heart of Winter, which is something I can definitely see happening. But now I understand that the ice moon is a kind of overarching symbol which ties multiple things together – the Heart of Winter, yes, but also the very idea of a death realm which is linked to the Others, and so Jon walking through that moon waterfall now takes on many layers of meaning and import.

And now, we turn our attention to the Vale of Arryn, a giant ice moon symbol with a sometimes-frozen waterfall and the name “vale / veil.” The frozen waterfall is seen as a flow of cold tears, so it really is an obvious veil of tears symbol – one clearly anchored to ice moon symbolism. Alyssa herself is dead, so we can even see the tears as coming to us from the other side. The tears are ice moon meteor symbols of course, so this is just like saying ice moon meteors come from the ice moon. But the ice moon is a death realm, and so dead Alyssa’s restless ghost cries her tears from the other side of the “veil of tears.”

The Others are the most important earthly symbol of the idea of an ice moon meteor, and they can indeed be considered to be coming from beyond the veil of tears as well. George’s original draft letter pitching AGOT to his publisher called the Others “the neverborn,” which seems to hint at our theory about Night’s Queen somehow turning her babies or perhaps “pregnancies” into white shadows, much in the way Melisandre takes Stannis’s seed and births black shadows. These “seeds” or potential children of Stannis are never born, really – instead, it seems more like their life energy is converted into the shadow baby or harvested to make the shadow baby. I think Night’s Queen and King making Others must work something like this too, in all likelihood.

Whatever the details of Other creation – which is a mystery we are making gradual progress on, and which I hope to eventually solve – I think it’s indisputable that although the Others are not dead, like wights, they aren’t quite alive in the usual sense either, as their stated mission, per George, is to “ride down on the winds of winter to extinguish everything that we would call ‘life’.” It’s actually not their exact state of animation that I am talking about here, but rather the idea that they have come out of some otherwordly dimension, the frozen death realm I’ve been speaking of.

It starts with their persistent descriptions as shadows: the Others are frequently called white shadows or pale shadows, or just shadows. There are varying ideas of what a person’s “shadow” can represent, but all of them loosely incorporate the idea of a shadow being something less that a full being; something more like a remnant or ghost, or something called the “shadow self” which I won’t even begin to take the time to get into. Point being, when George calls them shadows over and over, he’s strongly implying them as some sort of inter-dimensional beings. Tormund calls them “shadows with teeth” and speaks of trying to fight a mist, implying that the Others may be able to substantiate their bodies at will. The fact that they don’t break the snow when the walk also implies them as ethereal beings, at least in part or at times.

I think the ghost grass that grows outside the walls of Asshai-by-the-Shadow is an excellent reminder about the ghostly nature of the Others, and since it’s such a gem, let’s do take it down off the mantle and give it a polish:

“Down in the Shadow Lands beyond Asshai, they say there are oceans of ghost grass, taller than a man on horseback with stalks as pale as milkglass. It murders all other grass and glows in the dark with the spirits of the damned. The Dothraki claim that someday ghost grass will cover the entire world, and then all life will end.”

Ser Jorah, amateur botanist and harbinger of doom, everyone. Thanks for the info buddy! In any case, we’ve talked about this before – the ghost grass looks like a field of Dawn swords, with tall stalks (or blades) that look like milkglass and glow a bit in the dark… but the ghost grass also evokes the Others, who have bones like milkglass and who indeed want to cover the world and, well, extinguish all life. The pale, crystalline swords of the Others are also invoked here, and again we’ll dust off the quote:

The Other slid forward on silent feet. In its hand was a longsword like none that Will had ever seen. No human metal had gone into the forging of that blade. It was alive with moonlight, translucent, a shard of crystal so thin that it seemed almost to vanish when seen edge-on. There was a faint blue shimmer to the thing, a ghost-light that played around its edges, and somehow Will knew it was sharper than any razor.

These ice swords are “alive with moonlight,” evoking Dawn’s “alive with light”, and they also have a blue “ghost light” playing around their edges. Other times, they are referred to as “pale swords,” which recalls the tower at Starfall named after Dawn, the “Palestone Sword.” We know what the deal is here, basically: although Dawn doesn’t seem to be a literal sword of an Other, Dawn and the Others are both symbols of ice moon meteors, and they share all of the same symbolism. And some of that symbolism alludes to ghosts – the ghost light of the Others’ swords and that of the ghost grass. That lines up perfectly with the idea of the inside of the ice moon representing a kind of icy death realm, beyond the veil of tears, and of things which come out of ice moon symbols as being ghostly, undead, or resurrected.

You may also recall that the Kingsguard, with their snow white armor and “pale shadow” and “white shadow” descriptions, serve as terrific symbolic stand-ins for the Others. You may recall this line from AGOT which we discussed in Moons of Ice and Fire 2: Dawn of the Others:

Ser Boros Blount guarded the far end of the bridge, white steel armor ghostly in the moonlight.

So, at the risk of being blunt, I say to you that the Others are like weird icy ghosts of some sort. They’re people from beyond the veil of tears, and their tears and veils are all made of ice. Another version of the icy waterfall is of course the frozen pond, lake, or river, and fittingly, the Others can also be seen to be coming out of this frozen lake. Their voices are, famously, like the cracking of the ice on a winter lake – that’s so they can get out of the lake, of course. The frozen Lucifer in the ninth circle of hell imagery really hits home here – if the Others are the children of Azor Ahai-turned-Night’s King as I propose, then we can see Azor Ahai as Lucifer (which we do already), and the Others as his progeny, escaping their frozen prison to fight the last battle. See! I told you Lucifer wasn’t stuck there forever. Don’t cry, buddy, chin up. The Others are coming.

Just to put a bow on that, consider the Wall, which as we know is described as a frozen river and a frozen stream. It works just like all the other veil of frozen tears symbols, marking the barrier between “the end of the world” and “beyond the end of the world,” as Jon says repeatedly in the first books. The phrase “curtain wall” leaps to mind, and leaves us with the impression of the Wall as an icy curtain… which it is! You can also imagine the Wall as the surface of the icy lake, with everything north of the Wall belonging to the Others and thus being under the lake. In order for them to come out of the lake, they will have to break through the ice, as we expect them to do anyway.

When the Wall melts, it weeps, and so we can see it really is an analog to the cold waterfall of Alyssa’s tears. Think about it – if the wall “weeps” when it melts, then it can be said to be made of frozen tears! The Wall will melt – or likely it will do some combination of shattering and melting – when the Others invade. They will be coming through the frozen veil of tears into the land of the living! This will be a perfect union of symbolism and event; The Wall symbolizes the frozen veil of tears from which the spirits of the Others come in a sort of metaphorical sense, but the Wall is also a literal curtain of ice implied as frozen tears which will need to break or melt in order for the Others to invade Westeros. Forgive me for harping on this, but I just love this kind of stuff.

This apocalyptic melting of the Wall is a parallel to the idea of Alyssa’s Tears one day reaching the ground… something which may only happen with an avalanche-style disaster involving the Giant’s Lance. Still, its the symbolism which is important here, and at this point I hope you can start to see how amazing a symbol Alyssa’s Tears are, and that the name “Vale” of Arryn indicates that this icy waterfall / veil of frozen tears symbol is central to what is going on here. Thus the waterfall is emblematic of the “Vale” as a whole, and since it serves as the symbolic entrance and exit – what you might call a portal – to the icy realm of the Others, I figured we’d use it as our entry path as well. In we go!

Lysa Like the Giant’s Lance a Lot

This next section is brought to you by the Patreon support of two new members of the Starry Wisdom Priesthood: Lady Silverwing, last child of the forest, Keeper of all leeward shores, and John, called St. Baptiste, Apprentice of Satyrs, Cupbearer of Leopards, and The thief of Sometimes

As Ice moon symbols go, the Eyrie is by far the easiest to identify. Lunar symbolism is everywhere in abundance: House Arryn has a moon in their sigil, they have that famous moon door in case any moon maidens need to make a quick exit, a place called “The Gates of the Moon,” a nearby mountain range called ” The Mountains of the Moon,” Ser Hugh of the Vale with his sky blue cloak bordered in crescent moons, and we can’t help but notice that Lysa’s favorite jewelry usually involves moonstones. She likes to pair the moonstones with sapphires, actually, which is the other part of the symbolic equation here: ice! and the Others! House Arryn’s cream-colored moon and falcon appears on a field of sky blue, and they are really quite dogma tic about that color pairing. The Eyrie is a castle built of snow white marble and it was built high up on the shoulder of a snow-covered mountain. Even more vivid is this description of the Eyrie from AFFC which comes as Sansa is descending from the Eyrie in the winch bucket:

The sky cells on the lower levels made the castle look something like a honeycomb from below. A honeycomb made of ice, Alayne thought, a castle made of snow. She could hear the wind whistling round the bucket.

We will talk more about both honeycombs and Sansa’s iconic snowcastle-building scene down the line, but let’s stick with the basics for now: it’s an ice castle dripping with lunar symbolism.

In other words, this isn’t exactly what you call a riddle: blue and white, moons and snow. That’s what you find here. But of course it goes a lot deeper than that. Those of us who have spent time studying the Others and everything else related to ice magic and symbols of the Others and ice magic as we have done throughout the Moons of Ice and Fire and Blood of the Others series will start to recognize all the familiar ice symbolism keywords and motifs as soon as we have a look around. We’ve already had a glimpse, of course; I’ve given you a couple of great quotes from the Eyrie in previous episodes, such as this one we quoted in Moons 3: Visenya Draconis:

When her uncle saw that she had stopped, he moved his horse closer and pointed. “It’s there, beside Alyssa’s Tears. All you can see from here is a flash of white every now and then, if you look hard and the sun hits the walls just right.”

Seven towers, Ned had told her, like white daggers thrust into the belly of the sky, so high you can stand on the parapets and look down on the clouds.

Gods it’s almost like you were standing on the moon from the sound of it. Not only do you look down on the clouds from the Eyrie, but also on a castle called Sky. You’re looking down at the sky, get it? Because the Eyrie represents the moon! And it’s armed with huge white daggers. From the ground, the Eyrie appears to be right next to Alyssa’s Tears, implying the Eyrie as an ice moon symbol from which Alyssa’s icy tears flow – and of course they have that white marble statue of Alyssa right in the godswood up there. That all fits – the tears are ice moon meteors, and they come from ice moon symbols like the Eyrie or Alyssa herself.

That same symbolic idea is presented by the seven marble towers that look like white daggers thrusting into the belly of the sky. The dagger towers point upwards at the sky of course, but if this were a moon, the white daggers would thrust into the belly of the sky by falling from space. Once again we see the purpose of placing a castle called sky below the Eyrie, as we can imagine the white dagger towers pointing down at Castle Sky and thus at the ground. White daggers are obvious ice moon meteor symbols, as we know, evoking Dawn, the pale swords of the Others, the White Knife river which freezes hard on occasion, and the Wall which is like a snake and a sword and shines “alive with light,” but also like a frozen river. This ice moon is locked and loaded, in other words. Cat also describes the seven white towers of the Eyrie as seven slender white towers as being “bunched as tightly as arrows in a quiver on a shoulder of the great mountain,” which makes the mountain sound like a giant with a quiver of giant white arrows.

The white towers also gain an extra icy dimension when we compare them to the seven crystal towers of the Sept of Baelor, another ice moon location. The Eyrie’s white towers are like white knives, so the crystal towers might be like crystal knives, and of course the Warrior’s Sons who live in the Sept of Baelor have a sigil with a crystal sword on a field of black, as I love to mention. The Others have longswords that appear to be razor-thing shards of ice crystal, as we know, so the crystal sword symbolism is overall a very strong tie between the Others and the Faith. The dagger-like white towers of the Eyrie, so intent on stabbing the sky, simply duplicate this symbolism. Later in AFFC, Sansa inner monologues about “an ice storm that transformed the castle into crystal for a fortnight,” reinforcing the symbolic link between crystal and ice and once again implying the Eyrie as an ice castle.

Another thing to notice in previous quote: you can only see the Eyrie “when the sun hits the walls just right.” When the ice moon castle drinks the fire of the sun, in other words, just as the Qarthine prophecy says that one day the other moon will kiss the sun too and the dragons will return – that’s when you can see the moon from earth, lighting up.  We’ve seen a lot of great symbolism when the sun hits the great ice Wall of the north, such as when it becomes “alive with light” and “blazes blue and crystalline,” so this seems like similar play here. White ice daggers, drinking the fire of the sun…  and we know what happens next: the sun’s fire is turned cold.

Sansa walked down the blue silk carpet between rows of fluted pillars slim as lances. The floors and walls of the High Hall were made of milk-white marble veined with blue. Shafts of pale daylight slanted down through narrow arched windows along the eastern wall. Between the windows were torches, mounted in high iron sconces, but none of them was lit. Her footsteps fell softly on the carpet. Outside the wind blew cold and lonely. Amidst so much white marble even the sunlight looked chilly, somehow … though not half so chilly as her aunt. Lady Lysa had dressed in a gown of cream-colored velvet and a necklace of sapphires and moon-stones.

Veined with blue implies blue blood veins – and hence the blood blood of the Others. Colors descriptions like milk-white and cream are always lunar in symbolic parlance, but can go either way in terms of ice or fire, as we’ve seen with Melisandre having skin like milk and cream combined with all the fire symbolism Martin could think of, and there’s even Maester Luwin’s mysterious pale red “fire milk” that applies to his wound after Shaggydog bites him a bit in the crypts. Here in the High Hall of the Arryns, however, it’s clearly a milk and ice pairing, shot through with veins of cold. The statue of Alyssa in the Godswood has it too – it’s described as “a weeping woman carved in veined white marble.”

Then we have ice queen Lysa herself, with her moonstones and sapphires. The idea that the sunlight is turned chilly in the hall, but that Lysa was even colder, implies Lysa as the coldest thing in the room, almost as if the cold was emanating from her like she was an Other. In fact, just a moment later when Lysa accuses Sansa of kissing Petyr, it says

The High Hall seemed to grow a little colder. The walls and floor and columns might have turned to ice.

This is standard Night’s Queen behavior which we have seen many times before: it’s extremely similar to Alys Karstark’s wedding, where she was named winter’s lady and the fire shivered and huddled in its ditch as the wind came off the Wall as cold as the breath of an ice dragon. This should come as no surprise: who did you think we’d find here at chateau ice moon? Night’s Queen, of course! She’s the parallel for the ice moon, what with her ice cold, moon pale skin and eyes like blue stars.

We’ve already done an in-depth study of Lady Cat, and found that her symbolism is consistent with that of Nissa Nissa throughout her entire life. Lady Stoneheart is a bit more complex, but still runs on fire magic and leads a cult of fire worshipers, so the message remains the same: Cat is a fire moon person all the way. Her sister, meanwhile, the traitor Lysa Arryn… decked out in moonstones and sapphires, enthroned in a castle of ice, the coldest thing in the room… well let’s just say they make an outstanding moon women of ice and fire pairing.

We’re going to keep discussing Lysa throughout, but let’s continue on with the physical descriptions of the Eyrie for a bit longer. In the longer quote we just pulled, with the chilly sunlight, there was a line, about “rows of fluted pillars slim as lances,” and of course those pillars are made from the blue-veined white marble like everything else. “Lance” is a not-insignificant word here in the Vale, where we find a giant mountain named “The Giant’s Lance,” and especially here at the Eyrie, which perches high on the slope of the Giant’s Lance.

So what’s all this about a lance? Is this about King Arthur and Lancelot?

Well, it’s always kind of about King Arthur in a sense, but the thing to think of is Gregor Clegane, the Mountain that Rides, who very prominently uses a lance to inflict great violence during the Tourney of the Hand at Kings Landing in AGOT. This scene is one of the most obvious examples of mythical astronomy symbolism in the the first book, and many people have messaged me about it over the years. I’ve never talked about it in a podcast episode before, but now it’s finally time! The exact meaning alluded me for a while until I cracked the secret of the dragon locked in ice metaphor, which is why I held it back until now.

The scene begins with Sansa observing heroes riding straight out of the songs and legends onto the tourney grounds:

They watched the heroes of a hundred songs ride forth, each more fabulous than the last. The seven knights of the Kingsguard took the field, all but Jaime Lannister in scaled armor the color of milk, their cloaks as white as fresh-fallen snow. Ser Jaime wore the white cloak as well, but beneath it he was shining gold from head to foot, with a lion’s-head helm and a golden sword. Ser Gregor Clegane, the Mountain That Rides, thundered past them like an avalanche. Sansa remembered Lord Yohn Royce, who had guested at Winterfell two years before. “His armor is bronze, thousands and thousands of years old, engraved with magic runes that ward him against harm,” she whispered to Jeyne. Septa Mordane pointed out Lord Jason Mallister, in indigo chased with silver, the wings of an eagle on his helm. He had cut down three of Rhaegar’s bannermen on the Trident. The girls giggled over the warrior priest Thoros of Myr, with his flapping red robes and shaven head, until the septa told them that he had once scaled the walls of Pyke with a flaming sword in hand.

I read the whole quote because it’s just quite the all-star cast, giving us flaming sword guys and white knights in snow and milk colored trappings. I’m sure you noticed Gregor thundering by like an avalanche – an avalanche from the Giant’s Lance is one form of the #IceMoonApocalypse foreshadowing after all. Then when Cat ascends to the waycastle known as Sky in AGOT, we get very rich symbolic talk about avalanches:

The waycastle called Sky was no more than a high, crescent-shaped wall of unmortared stone raised against the side of the mountain, but even the topless towers of Valyria could not have looked more beautiful to Catelyn Stark. Here at last the snow crown began; Sky’s weathered stones were rimed with frost, and long spears of ice hung from the slopes above.

Dawn was breaking in the east as Mya Stone hallooed for the guards, and the gates opened before them. Inside the walls there was only a series of ramps and a great tumble of boulders and stones of all sizes. No doubt it would be the easiest thing in the world to begin an avalanche from here. A mouth yawned in the rock face in front of them

Once again the name of Castle Sky works to imply a double meaning – an avalanche coming from the “sky” is simply another way to describe the ice moon meteor shower that was promised. Indeed, this castle called sky turns out to be an icy crescent of stone that can easily start avalanches – I mean this is just screaming out #IceMoonApocalypse. The stones are weathered, because the ice moon apocalypse is basically falling-stones-as-weather, the meteor shower a.k.a. storm of swords. Did some mention dawn breaking, and Valyria? Yeah? Okay, I wasn’t the only one who heard that. Oh and look – icy spears are hanging down. Not sure what those could symbolize.

There’s also good moon face symbolism as we see a mouth yawning in the rock face and the idea of the “snow crown” starting here. The icy crescent moon in the sky is the King of Winter, and he wears a snow crown as he sits up in the sky, brooding over the apocalypse and counting his giant lances, white arrows, and icy spears, fingers brushing the edges of his white daggers. You tell me what the foreshadowing is here, because all I see are warnings of the #IceMoonApocalypse.

Finally, note that Catelyn promptly enters the mouth of the moon rock face to enter the Eyrie. This effectively implies the Eyrie as the inside of the ice moon, which is exactly right, and it mirrors the scenes with Jon walking into the tunnel beneath the Wall being described as being swallowed down the gullet of an ice dragon. Gulp!

Returning to Gregor Clegane the moon mountain that rides thundering by like an avalanche, I will point out that even the thundering is important, because after the Others shatter Ser Waymar’s sword in the prologue, Will “found what was left of the sword a few feet away, the end splintered and twisted like a tree struck by lightning.” When Sam fights an Other in ASOS, it says

The Other’s sword gleamed with a faint blue glow. It moved toward Grenn, lightning quick, slashing. When the ice blue blade brushed the flames, a screech stabbed Sam’s ears sharp as a needle.

It makes a ton of sense to associate the Others with lightning – the Others are all about the concept of blue fire and cold burning blue stars, and real lightning ranges in color from blue to purple. It’s a natural fit for the glowing blue swords of the Others, so they move with lightning quickness and break swords as lightning does trees. You may remember the “shock” of the cold as Varamyr experienced during his real death, which was compared to plunging through an icy lake surface, as well as that same “shock of cold” that Jon feels when going through the icy waterfall amidst foreshadowing of his death. It’s electric, baby. And it’s also common sense – if you are searching for metaphors and symbols to depict the weird concept of cold, blue fire, electricity and lightning are the logical things to use.

Of course we can’t talk about lighting without thinking about the legend of the Grey King stealing the fire of the gods through a tree set ablaze by the Storm’s Gods thunderbolt. That’s also right on the money, because that Grey King myth seems to refer to Azor Ahai or his kind possessing the fire of the gods, and I believe that that fire was in part used to create the Others when an Azor Ahai person became the Night’s King and gave his seed and soul to Night’s Queen to make the Others.

To put it simply, the Others represent the frozen fire of the gods, and I think that should be an easy concept for you all to see with everything we’ve explored in the last year. We’ll going to build on this concept as we go, so I thought I’d point it out since Gregor is thundering like an avalanche in this scene. Think of an ice storm, but also the invasion of the lightning-quick Others. It sounds bad if you ask me.

Now back to The Moon Mountain that jousts, and the main action:

Sandor Clegane and his immense brother, Ser Gregor the Mountain, seemed unstoppable as well, riding down one foe after the next in ferocious style. The most terrifying moment of the day came during Ser Gregor’s second joust, when his lance rode up and struck a young knight from the Vale under the gorget with such force that it drove through his throat, killing him instantly. The youth fell not ten feet from where Sansa was seated. The point of Ser Gregor’s lance had snapped off in his neck, and his life’s blood flowed out in slow pulses, each weaker than the one before. His armor was shiny new; a bright streak of fire ran down his outstretched arm, as the steel caught the light. Then the sun went behind a cloud, and it was gone. His cloak was blue, the color of the sky on a clear summer’s day, trimmed with a border of crescent moons, but as his blood seeped into it, the cloth darkened and the moons turned red, one by one.

Okay, so what’s going on here? The poor young knight turns out to be Ser Hugh of the Vale, and it’s not to hard to see the basics of a giant’s lance penetrating a blue moon person and turning his moons bloody. Seems like surefire mythical astronomy. But this isn’t a simple Azor Ahai stabs Nissa Nissa thing, oh no. That’s a fire moon incident, as we know, and this the victim here is decked out in ice moon symbolism. He’s named “Hugh of the Vale” to clue us in that he represents the vale as a whole, and therefore the ice moon as a whole.

Hearken back to Bloodstone Compendium 4: The Mountain vs. The Viper and the Hammer of the Waters. The episode centered around the famous trial by combat between Ser Gregor and Oberyn Martel, the Red Viper of Dorne, and in that fight, it seems abundantly clear that Gregor is playing the role of the fire moon, with Oberyn as the sun and his spear as the comet. These mechanics are spelled many times over in the fight, with my favorite example being when Gregor blocks out the sun right as he’s stabbed with the spear, just as the moon “wandered too close to the sun” when it was cracked open by the comet.

Gregor’s whole deal is that he shows us the fire moon transforming into moon meteors, which can be seen a fiery hellhounds. Hence Gregor’s shield in the fight, which begins as a white shield with the seven pointed star of the faith on it, but reveals itself as the three black dogs on yellow beneath, the hellhounds-on-fire symbolism which calls out to three-headed Cerberus. Gregor is always covered in moon rock imagery, from his stone fist helm to the descriptions of him as a stone giant with a face “that night have been hewn from rock” whose voice is “like stone breaking.” Of course his main nickname is “the Mountain that Rides,” or just “the Mountain,” which really just makes the point that he represents a piece of flying space rock, a moving mountain. This also clues is into link Gregor, a giant mountain with a lance, to the giant mountain called the Giant’s Lance.

But isn’t the Giant’s Lance an ice moon symbol? Didn’t I just say the Eyrie is an ice moon, and that Gregor is a fire moon-turned moon meteor? Well, again, the dragon locked in ice metaphor solves the riddle. Gregor represents a fire moon meteor mountain which strikes the ice moon and lodges in its ice. That’s what the Giant’s Lance is too – it’s a giant mountain of dark stone, buried in ice and snow. The mountain itself is the dragon meteor locked in ice, just as the tip of Gregor’s giant lance breaks off and lodges in the throat of Ser Hugh of the blue moons. Ergo, when Gregor rides down Ser Hugh, this is simply the fire moon meteor, flying away from the first explosion to strike the ice moon. Gregor isn’t an ice moon person, but he can trigger avalanches when he embedds in the ice.

Ser Hugh’s arm lights up momentarily with a bright streak of fire before the clouds hide the sun. I probably don’t even have to tell you that this seems like a depiction of the the streaking fire moon meteor momentarily lighting up the sky before moon blood drowns everything and the sun is hidden by the clouds of dust, ash, and smoke which caused the darkness of the Long Night. Better yet, the cloudy sky is mirrored in Hugh’s cloak, which begins as “the color of the sky on a clear summer’s day, trimmed with a border of crescent moons,” but it “darkens” as the blood seeps in. It’s literally an image of moon blood darkening the sky. (Hat-tip Colin VW from the Twitteros crew!)

Also take note of the Hammer of the Waters signature wounds here – Hugh is pierced in the neck, then his arm appears to be on fire, just like the poor stableboy in the Oberyn and Gregor fight who lost his arm and then his head to Gregor’s rage. The Hammer is said to have struck the Arm of Dorne and the Neck of Westeros, in case anyone is feeling loopy today and forgot what that is about.

Then comes the crying! The next paragraph after Ser Hugh’s moons turn red one by one brings us wonderful tear symbolism:

Jeyne Poole wept so hysterically that Septa Mordane finally took her off to regain her composure, but Sansa sat with her hands folded in her lap, watching with a strange fascination. She had never seen a man die before. She ought to be crying too, she thought, but the tears would not come. Perhaps she had used up all her tears for Lady and Bran.

Much like Alyssa, Sansa cannot weep. Sansa will of course be going to the Eyrie to play the ice moon queen, so that figures. Jeyne Poole has even more clear Night’s Queen / ice queen symbolism, with her cold corpse language in ADWD and her house sigil of a circular blue pool on white. The cold pool symbol, paired with the tears, brings us right back to crying Lucifer and the frozen lake in Dante’s ninth circle of hell. Of course icy tears are just ice moon meteor symbols in general, and should come from ice walls or ice queens as they do here.

Ser Hugh has some other clues about the Others, pun intended, and they come in the form of double entendres using the word “others.” They come back to back when Ned goes to talk to Petyr Baelish, looking for poeple connected to Jon Arryn who are still in Kings Landing. Littlefinger mentions four people, Ser Hugh among them, and Ned says

“His squire?” Ned was pleasantly surprised. A man’s squire often knew a great deal of his comings and goings.

“Ser Hugh of the Vale,” Littlefinger named him. “The king knighted the boy after Lord Arryn’s death.”

“I shall send for him,” Ned said. “And the others.”

Ser Hugh is an ice moon symbol, so of course the Others come with him. Two pages later…

“Is there a man in your service that you trust utterly and completely?”

“Yes,” said Ned.

“In that case, I have a delightful palace in Valyria that I would dearly love to sell you,” Littlefinger said with a mocking smile. “The wiser answer was no, my lord, but be that as it may. Send this paragon of yours to Ser Hugh and the others.

Ned doesn’t need a palace in Valyria, because he already has a castle built over one of the furnaces of the world, ha ha. There’s one more like this when Ned speaks with Jory Cassel – the paragon of virtue – about the results of his inquiry:

It sounded as if this boy would be even less use than the others. And he was the last of the four Littlefinger had turned up. Jory had spoken to each of them in turn. Ser Hugh had been brusque and uninformative, and arrogant as only a new-made knight can be. 

Ser Hugh definitely runs with the Others, that’s safe to say. There’s another, even more covert (but symbolically rich) clue which comes to us in AFFC when Brienne recalls the time several cruel knights secretly made bets as to who could bed her first. Here’s the quote, and it Brienne is thinking about how Hyle Hunt gave her the great gifts of a finely crafted book of legends, a blue silk plume for her helm, and even trained with her in the yard, which meant the most to Brienne the Blue:

She thought it was because of him that the others started being courteous. More than courteous. At table men fought for the place beside her, offering to fill her wine cup or fetch her sweetbreads. Ser Richard Farrow played love songs on his lute outside her pavilion. Ser Hugh Beesbury brought her a pot of honey “as sweet as the maids of Tarth.”

Hello! It’s not the same Ser Hugh, but the Beesbury affiliation makes us think of how the Eyrie is twice described as a white or frozen honeycomb. And look, he’s one of the “others” who started being courteous to Brienne. One them even plays a lute for her, echoing Rhaegar and Lyanna. I just love the idea of Brienne as a beautiful Night’s Queen whom the Others are gathering around to pay homage. That aside, Ser Hugh Beesbury brings Brienne a pot of honey “as sweet as the maids of Tarth,” but as we know, Brienne the Maid of Tarth is a terrific ice moon maiden, so this is once again a reference to frozen honey, and thus to the Eyrie, which is a frozen honeycomb.

Upon further analysis, the frozen honeycomb seems to be another version of the dragon locked in ice idea. The mythological concept of the food of the gods, which is essentially the exact same thing as the “fire of the gods,” is often depicted as honey. Think of young Zeus being fed the honey-sap of the ash tree by the Meliai, who are ash-tree nymphs or spirits. We’ve also seen the Biblical “milk and honey” language applied to weirwood paste and things that stand in for weirwood paste, like milk of the poppy or the sweetened iced milk Pycelle serves Ned. Ergo, honey is another form of the fire, power, and wisdom of the gods which man can consume, and so frozen honey and a frozen honeycomb work very well to depict the idea of the fire of the gods being frozen inside the ice moon.  As we look at scenes from the Eyrie with Lysa and Sweetrobin ans Sansa, we will see honeycombs used a few times in suggestive ways.

So, the Giant’s Lance actually turns out to be nothing less than the biggest dragon locked in ice symbol of them all. It’s really quite thrilling, as the mechanics of the jousting scene correlate so tightly to the mountain itself. A fire moon mountain that rides, and leaves bit of lance in the ice moon.

Gregor also shows us locked in ice symbolism after he loses his duel with Oberyn, whereupon he is resurrected in some fashion and then locked in the snow white armor of the Kingsguard! It’s super easy to see the symbolism here, now that we have understood the Kingsguards’ status as Others stand-ins. Gregor the Mountain is once again exactly the same as the the Giant’s Lance mountain, wrapped in snow armor instead of actual snow. So now we can make a prediction – Gregor will be involved in some sort of fight against a comet or dragon person, and we will be treated to avalanche and ice moon explosion symbolism, and probably some Others invading symbolism as well. At the end of the last episode, Ice Moon Apocalypse, we also saw that Martin seems to be applying the “giants awakening” symbolism to the impending ice moon disaster in the two scenes with Wun Wun, and I’d expect that to be paralleled in Gregor as well. Look for him to smash someone against a wall, or be smashed against a wall. Maybe someone will knock him off a ledge – that may one of the only ways to kill him.

Since we’ve been talking about the Giant’s Lance this whole time, it seems like maybe I should show you the one actual description of the mountain itself that we get. I saved it for the end of this section on purpose, actually, because it will really ring out after everything we just discussed. This is the one that describes the Giant’s Lance as “dark stone,” but there’s a lot more here:

Looming over them all was the jagged peak called the Giant’s Lance, a mountain that even mountains looked up to, its head lost in icy mists three and a half miles above the valley floor. Over its massive western shoulder flowed the ghost torrent of Alyssa’s Tears. Even from this distance, Catelyn could make out the shining silver thread, bright against the dark stone.

When I hear “a mountain that even mountains looked up to” I think of Ser Gregor the Mountain looking up the Giant’s Lance Mountian and sort of, you know, liking what he sees and nodding in approval. That’s not the only Gregor joke Martin is making here;  notice that “the head of the mountain is lost in icy mists.” The head of the mountain is lost. Yeah, that’s right, Gregor was decapitated. Bran’s dream vision of him depicts him as a giant armored in stone with nothing but darkness and blood beneath his visor, so we know the headless giant thing is important.

And hey look, icy mists and a ghost torrent – “icy mists” is specifically an Others phrase, and as we pointed out last time, the ghost torrent thing alludes to the Torrentine River at Starfall and Dany’s dreams of melting ice-armored warriors and turning the Trident River into a torrent. But we’ve talked about that before, ho-hum, what have you done for me lately? So, check the “shining silver thread” language applied to Alyssa’s Tears, and now look at this description of the Wall – which is 100% analogous to Alyssa’s Tears, as we discussed in the first section. This is Tyrion in AGOT when he climbs to the top of the Wall to have a piss and think about snarks and grumpkins:

He looked off to the east and west, at the Wall stretching before him, a vast white road with no beginning and no end and a dark abyss on either side. West, he decided, for no special reason, and he began to walk that way, following the pathway nearest the north edge, where the gravel looked freshest. His bare cheeks were ruddy with the cold, and his legs complained more loudly with every step, but Tyrion ignored them. The wind swirled around him, gravel crunched beneath his boots, while ahead the white ribbon followed the lines of the hills, rising higher and higher, until it was lost beyond the western horizon.

The Wall is an icy white ribbon with a dark abyss on either side, while Alyssa’s Tears are a sometimes-frozen shining silver thread with dark stone on either side. The Wall is “rising higher and higher into the horizon until it is lost beyond the horizon,” while Alyssa’s Tears are “flowing from the shoulder of a giant mountain whose head is lost in icy mists.” They’re very similar descriptions, because they are the same symbol! There’s also another layer added to the frozen veil of tears concept: the Wall is like a white road with no beginning and no ending – as if time is frozen. The Wall is also described as a frozen river, and you will recall that Bloodraven instructs Bran that “for men, time is a river. We are trapped in its flow, hurtling from past to present, always in the same direction. The lives of trees are different. They root and grow and die in one place, and that river does not move them.”

So what happens when you freeze the river of time? You some kind of very cold ouroboros, I think, like Tyrion’s conception of the Wall as an endless road. The Long Night can be thought of as stopping time, because it makes everything stuck on nighttime and winter, with the sun and the springtime never coming. Wow, the Others are getting more evil by the minute – freezing the river of time, coming back through the veil of tears… gods, if they freeze time, and then break it, what happens to the timeline? Okay, I’m getting a headache. Call it a brain freeze.

Metaphors aside, we now have a good general concept of what the Eyrie is about and how it works, let’s stop beating around the bush and get to her majesty the Queen in the North, Sansa Stark.

Or is it Alayne Stone?

To hear the debut of Part 2 of Signs and Portals, Sansa Locked in Ice, join me this Sunday, August 4th, a 3:00 EST on the Lucifer means Lightbringer Youtube channel! Maester Merry returns as my copilot, and we’ll be joined by Sanrixian for the post game. See you then!

Prose Eddard

Hello there friends, patrons, and fellow mythical astronomers!  It’s been two episodes now since I pointed out that Edric Dayne is considered to have been named after Eddard Stark, and that this is a clue that Eddard should be considered to belong to the Eldric name tree – and thus, part of the larger Eldric Shadowchaser, stolen Other baby archetype. That means it’s time for an episode focused solely on “the Ned,” and that’s what we’ve got for you today. This is going to be another deal where I chopped a too-fat-to-sit-a-podcast script in half and have created two episodes instead one: this one will be about Ned, and the next one about Winterfell and the Wall and the possibility of a piece of moon falling out the sky at some point in the next two books.

We’re going to talk a lot about Ned as an archetype today. Mostly, we’ll be talking about that in terms of symbolism, in terms of ice and fire magic and connections to the Others and the Night’s Watch, but first I’d like take off my Mythical Astronomy hat – er, Mythical Astronomy horns I guess it would be – for a minute and talk about Ned Stark the man. I do occasionally have regular thoughts about the main plot of ASOIAF, and there’s another, less esoteric angle to consider here when we think of Ned and archetypes.

To whit: George R. R. Martin has decided to give each one of his great houses their own sort of archetype – when you read Dunk and Egg, for example, and come upon Lyonel Baratheon, “the Laughing Storm,” you quickly realize that you’re essentially meeting young Robert Baratheon. By doing this, George has created a Baratheon archetype, a set of character traits and values which are distinctive and consistent. Now if one were to go about doing an analysis of the “Stark archetype,” the obvious place to start would of course be Ned Stark, the fake main character of ASOIAF (ha ha). Even if he isn’t the main character, he’s certainly presented to us as the patriarch of House Stark, and even though he dies at the end of book one, the shadow he casts on the rest of the story is immeasurable.

What I mean by that is that the example he sets echoes strongly in the plot arcs of all of his children, including those he raised but who are not technically his, Jon and Theon. In this Ned is very like Tywin, who lasts a little longer than Ned but whose influence on the story is primarily felt through the mark he leaves on his children – but of course Ned and Tywin couldn’t be more opposite, and the same goes for the examples they set and lessons they teach. Whereas Tywin’s moral bankruptcy, borderline sociopathic lack of empathy, and extreme ego-centrism leaves gaping holes in his children psyches, Ned’s sometimes over-the-top devotion to honor and moral consistency left an indelible mark on his children, and this code of ethics in turn acts as a ‘northstar’ to guide their behavior and decision making. (see what I did there)

Bloodstone Compendium
I: Astronomy Explains the Legends of I&F
II: The Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai
III: Waves of Night and Moon Blood
IV: The Mountain vs. the Viper and the Hammer of the Waters
V: Tyrion Targaryen
VI: Lucifer means Lightbringer

Moons of Ice and Fire
I: Shadow Heart Mother
II: Dawn of the Others
III: Visenya Draconis
IV: The Long Night Was His to Rule
V: R+L=J, A Recipe for Ice Dragons

The Blood of the Other
A Prelude to a Chill
I: A Baelful Bard and a Promised Prince
II: The Stark that Brings the Dawn
III: Eldric Shadowchaser
IV: Prose Eddard
V: Ice Moon Apocalypse

Sacred Order of Green Zombies
I: The Last Hero and the King of Corn
II: King of Winter, Lord of Death
III: The Long Night’s Watch

Weirwood Compendium
I: The Grey King and the Sea Dragon
II: A Burning Brandon
III: Garth of the Gallows
IV: In a Grove of Ash
V: To Ride the Green Dragon

Weirwood Goddess
I: Venus of the Woods
II: It’s an Arya Thing
III: The Cat Woman Nissa Nissa

Signs and Portals
I: Veil of Frozen Tears
II: Sansa Locked in Ice

Now in PODCAST form!

Click to open in iTunes

One of my favorite impressions of Ned left on his children comes from Bran’s first chapter of AGOT:

Bran’s father sat solemnly on his horse, long brown hair stirring in the wind. His closely trimmed beard was shot with white, making him look older than his thirty-five years. He had a grim cast to his grey eyes this day, and he seemed not at all the man who would sit before the fire in the evening and talk softly of the age of heroes and the children of the forest. He had taken off Father’s face, Bran thought, and donned the face of Lord Stark of Winterfell.

We never actually see Ned sitting before the fire and talking of the age of heroes and the children of the forest, but this isimpression of him is the one the comes to Bran’s mind as an example of Ned when he’s wearing his “father’s face.” It’s an important counter-balance to harder lessons Ned is teaching his children in this chapter about ‘northern justice’ and ‘swinging the sword yourself,’ which have to strike the reader as a bit severe the first time through. I mean, the first thing we see our “main character” doing is beheading a man in front of his seven year old son to ‘toughen him up’ because ‘winter is coming.’ It’s pretty hardcore.

The line about Ned telling stories before the fire is actually the source of my Prose Eddard joke. Snorri Sturluson is the Icelandic bard credited with writing down most of the famous Norse myths, with one of his more famous works being “the Prose Edda,” which contains most of the basics of the Norse pantheon, Ragnarok, things like that.  “Eddard” has always seemed like a pretty odd name, but one day I realized that if you cram “Edda” and “bard” together, you get “Eddard.” Then I noticed that in the very first paragraph describing Ned, he’s introduced to us a man who likes to tell stories about the old gods and ancient times, as Snorri Sturluson was. You’ll have to make up your own mind as to whether you think this is intentional on Martin’s part of just a happy accident, but it works well either way because House Stark and the North as a whole is where Norse mythology leaves is strongest mark… with apologies to King Robert “Thor” Baratheon. I think our buddy ‘Prose Eddard’ works well as a ‘spokesman’ for House Stark – that’s kind of what it means to call Ned the epitome of the House Stark archetype. He demonstrates what a Stark and a northman should be, what he should value… and what kind of symbolism defines House Stark and the North, naturally.

Even though you can argue that Ned made mistakes in judgement which led to his downfall, at the end of the day, his example and his parenting is the very thing that will enable Jon, Sansa, Arya, and Bran to make the heroic decisions that will prove the difference in the story. I expect this to be the ultimate vindication of Ned, and nowhere is this more in evidence that the arc of Jon Snow. If Jon Snow is the “Prince That Was Promised” and the ‘special snowflake,’ Ned is essentially playing the Joseph and Mary role, the one chosen to raise up the chosen one to be who he needs to be. Jon is the one with the strongest parallels to Ned, both in terms of looks and personality as well as symbolism. Taken together, and with an assist from Robb and Bran other historical Starks, Jon and Ned essentially show us what we need to know about the King of Winter / Stark in Winterfell archetype.

Okay! Someone hit their stopwatch – what was that, like 5 whole minutes without talking about magic or symbolism? Maybe 3? Unfortunately that sort of analysis isn’t going to do anything for those playing Mythical Astronomy drinking games against my wishes (unless you had “archetype,” in which case you should immediately give up your car keys). Nope, I’m afraid we’re going right back to our old habits of comparing people, places, and things to celestial objects, and we’re going to give Ned and everything related to House Stark the royal treatment.

So far, the Blood of the Other series has been about the theory that Night’s King and Queen had a child who did not became a full Other, but instead became a member of House Stark. Jon Snow is the most important modern-day parallel for this stolen-Other-turned-Stark figure, with his being taken from parents who symbolically parallel Night’s King and Queen to be raised as Ned Stark’s son and a son of Winterfell providing the historical precedent for the theory. We’ve taken a good look at a long line of stolen Other baby figures, and all of them compare well to Jon in various ways. In the Baelful Bard and a Promised Prince episode, for example, the main ones besides Jon himself were Gilly’s son Monster, the son of Bael the Bard who became the Lord of Winterfell, and Theon Greyjoy, with honorable mention going  to Daemon Blackfyre.

In Blood of the Other 2 and 3, we examined stolen Other babies with Eldric name variants such as Ulrick Dayne and Edric Dayne, King Edrick Snowbeard Stark, Elric Stark, and the non-snowbearded Edric Stark, and even Edric Storm. We also examined the offshoot line of snowbeard symbolism, which seems to show our stolen Other baby in one of his later stages, probably post-resurrection, and these included Hodor, Denys Mallister, the three frozen decapitated Night’s Watch heads mounted on ash wood spears, the wighted Small Paul, Varamyr Sixskins, Erik Ironmaker of the Iron Islands, Hothor Umber and Mors Crowfood Umber (he of the dragonglass eye), Tormund Giantsbane, Hoster Tully, and Ser Barristan Selmy (who has that awesome ice dragon armor in ADWD). We took a long, hard look at Davos Shadowchaser, with his son Devan also sticking his nose in there to repeat his father’s symbolism and chase the shadows into their corners.

Through the course of all of that, we’ve begun to sketch out a decent idea of this archetype. We started off with a decent idea about it anyway, since it’s ultimately Jon Snow whom we’re talking about, and we’ve been looking at Jon’s symbolism since the very first episode of Mythical Astronomy. Nearly everyone in the fandom, save those bitter, crusty anti-RLJ holdouts (hang in there guys!) already sees Jon as the epitome of the “Song of Ice and Fire” by way of his parents, Rhaegar the dragon and Lyanna the blue winter rose maiden. Seeing him as a personification of the stolen-Other-baby-turned-Stark archetype simply explains the deeper meaning of this ice and fire symbolism, and once again leaves us with the impression of Jon as a frozen dragon or an ice dragon.

What I am going to show you today – one of the things I am going to show you – is that it’s not just Jon who exemplifies the dragon locked in ice / ice dragon symbolism, but all of House Stark, including Lord Eddard Stark and Winterfell itself.

Now unlike, say, Jon or Monster or Edric Storm, Ned’s primary archetypal role is not really that of the rescued Other baby – rather, I’d say that Eddard represents a model of the archetypal Stark, the King in the North and the King of Winter. However, a large part of that Stark identity comes from the icy blood of the Other which flows in their veins, and that blood comes from the rescued child of Night’s King and Queen who became a Stark – and therefore, Ned does indeed share a lot of symbolism with all the other Eldric figures, shadowchaser figures, and snowbeard figures that make up the stolen Other-turned-Stark archetype – even the frozen dragonlord stuff.

Night’s King giving his seed and soul to Night’s Queen, with her skin “as cold as ice” and “as white as the moon,” gives us the Mythical Astronomy parallel for the origins of House Stark. In mythical astronomy terms, the seed and soul of Night’s King is analogous to the a black meteor, a former piece of the “fire moon” that exploded at the beginning of the Long Night, and his giving his seed and soul to Night’s Queen equates to one of those black meteors striking and lodging in the ice moon.  We see this pattern literally everywhere the ice moon is symbolized, be that person, place, or thing, and I have dubbed it “the dragon locked in ice,” as it seems the most accurate description. Jon exemplifies this symbolism, with both the Wall and his mother’s womb symbolizing the ice moon, and Jon being the frozen dragon locked inside. This dragon locked in ice figure seems to be both born and re-born from ice moon symbols, with Jon being born from Lyanna and in all likelihood reborn from an ice cell in the Wall… and also from inside the weirwoodnet, which as we’ve begun to see, is analogous to the inside of the ice moon, so to speak.

But hey! It’s not all about Jon, you know? We’re here to talk about Ned. Ned does have a ton of parallels to Jon though, both in terms of looks and personality, and more importantly, in terms of symbolism. We’ve mentioned some of these parallels before when we were looking at Jon as a King of Winter, since Ned is definitely a King of Winter figure, but today we’ll uncover a ton of cool new symbolism lurking in Ned’s chapters, limited to one book though they are.

So let me say thanks to George R. R. Martin for writing ASOIAF, and thanks a great deal to our Patreon sponsors, without whose support Mythical Astronomy would not exist. If you’d like to join our Patreon campaign, then just click here..

A couple of quick announcements: friend and contributor to the pod Blue Tiger, who lends us his Tolkien expertise from time to time, such as in the “Stark that Brings the Dawn” episode, has finally started writing whole essays on the intersection of Tolkien’s Legendarium and George’s ASOIAF. You can find those at the Amber Compendium WordPress page. He’s off to a great start, so check that out. I’ll be presenting on many panels at Con of Thrones later this month, so if you are going come and find me and say hello! And finally, the livestream for this episode will be Thursday, May 17th, at 6:00 EST. It’s going to be something of a last-minute fundraiser for Con of Thrones, because of course everything in my life went haywire a month before the con and I need a little extra juice to make it there, else I might have to try ‘pay the iron price’ for my hotel room and end up in the black cells of Dallas City Jail. So come on by the livestream on Sunday where I’ll be putting on any and all costume items for donations, or basically doing anything else that won’t get my video banned.

Alright, let’s get to the Ned!

An Eddard and a Brandon

This section is sponsored by Queen Cameron, Lady of  the Twilight, Keeper of the Astral Cats and earthly avatar of Heavenly House Aries; by Ash Rose, Queen of Sevens, Mistress of Mythology and earthly avatar of Heavenly House Taurus; and by Ser Dionysus of House Galladon, wielder of the milkglass blade the Just Maid and earthly avatar of Heavenly House Virgo and Libra

You know, when I first noticed that Edric Dayne was named for Eddard and that that meant Ned was an Eldric figure, I was looking at him primary as playing the rescuer role, since he does that so clearly for Theon and Jon Snow both. At first, I couldn’t even think of a way that Ned matches the “stolen from his parents” symbolism, but then I remembered that

In his youth, Ned had fostered at the Eyrie, and the childless Lord Arryn had become a second father to him and his fellow ward, Robert Baratheon. When the Mad King Aerys II Targaryen had demanded their heads, the Lord of the Eyrie had raised his moon-and-falcon banners in revolt rather than give up those he had pledged to protect.

So here’s Ned, taken from his parents and fostered out to an ice moon location in the Eyrie. Ned even gains a “second father” (Jon Arryn) and a new brother (Robert), just as Jon Snow also gained a second father (Ned) a new brother (Robb Stark) when he was brought to Winterfell – and in both cases, the new brother’s name is Robert! Robb Stark is of course named after Robert Baratheon, so it’s a good comparison. Ned is fostered at the Eyrie, and because the Eyrie is a giant ice moon symbol, Ned going there reads very similar to Jon being brought to Winterfell or going to the Wall as he approaches manhood.  Ned can be seen as being locked in the ice of the Eyrie, and when Aerys demands the heads of Ned and Robert – implying them as dead – Ned and Robert and Jon Arryn instead explode from the Eyrie in armed rebellion, akin to Jon Snow’s inevitable rebirth from the ice.

It’s also a match for Davos symbolically dying at White Harbor, only to emerge and go on a heroic rescue mission to save Rickon – which will have the effect of rallying the Manderlys and other northern houses to Stannis, just as Ned was coming home to rally the banners, and just as Jon will surely be looking to fuck things up when he’s resurrected. Ned even follows the exact same path home that Davos does in ADWD, hopping from the Three Sisters to White Harbor in order to reach his final destination.

As always, the symbolism is fractal, and Ned does indeed play both the rescuer and the rescued. We saw that with Davos, who rescues an Eldric Shadowchaser figure in Edric Storm, then establishes himself as an Eldric Shadowchaser only minutes later in the same scene – and of course he also goes on to become imprisoned himself in an ice moon symbol at White Harbor. We also saw that Theon plays the both the rescuer role with Jeyne Poole and the rescued Other baby role when Ned takes him back to Winterfell after the battle of Pyke. As we just discussed, Ned plays the trademark rescuer / collector figure both at Pyke with Theon and at the Tower of Joy with Jon, and yet he was himself ‘abducted’ to the Eyrie and essentially ‘rescued’ by Jon Arryn, who was ordered to turn over Ned and Robert but refused.

Here’s how I interpret this symbolic fractal flim-flam: the stolen Other baby’s icy genetics define all of the members of House Stark who come after, and so this pattern is simply ingrained into their archetype. Anyone playing in to the stolen Other / Eldric Shadowchaser archetype is bound to express both rescuer and rescued symbolism.  Remember, anyone playing the stolen Other baby role is, on some level, symbolizing the Starks and playing the role of honorary Stark, since they are the ones who actually have the blood of the Other. And maybe the Boltons, they seem suspect to me.

As to that icy, blood of the Other Stark archetype, as I mentioned, Ned has the signature ice man symbolism in spades, right from the get-go. I already threw out Robert’s iconic “it’s good to see that frozen face of yours, Ned” in the Baelful Bard episode, and you will recall Ned’s lines from the crypts about frozen laughter:

“They say it grows so cold up here in winter that a man’s laughter freezes in his throat and chokes him to death,” Ned said evenly. “Perhaps that is why the Starks have so little humor.”

The freezing throat / choking laughter symbolism is interesting, since the prologue of AGOT describes the speech of the Others thusly:

The Other said something in a language that Will did not know; his voice was like the cracking of ice on a winter lake, and the words were mocking.

We’ll see this motif again in a moment, and the basic point here is simple – frozen laughter suggests the speech of the Others. The line from Ned to Robert about frozen laughter comes only a couple of chapters after the prologue with the Others mocking, icy speech, so it’s definitely easy to see them as being intentionally connected. The implication is that the Starks went north, and now have frozen faces and choking, frozen laughter. The language specifically implies a transformational process, whereby the Starks are turning cold.

I’ve mentioned before that there’s another parallel between Ned and the Others presented to us right away: the second to last scene of the prologue is the “cold butchery” of Waymar Royce by the ice swords of the Others, and the next chapter opens with Ned executing Gared, Waymar’s companion, with a giant sword named Ice. Then Ned goes down to the crypts a couple of chapters later and has a frozen face and deadpans about his laughter having frozen in his throat, while later on in AGOT we learn that the stone kings are called “The Kings of Winter” and we see Ned dream of them having “eyes of ice.” In other words, there are lots of hints about the Starks and the Others having a connection in AGOT, and they start hot and heavy – or would it be cold and heavy – in the crypts chapter featuring Robert and Ned.

We get another dose of Starks-as-Others symbolism in a dueling exchange between Ned (the Eldric figure) and Petyr BAELish concerning Ned’s brother Brandon. It’s pretty great, check it out:

Littlefinger ignored the jibe. He eyed Ned with a smile on his lips that bordered on insolence. “I have hoped to meet you for some years, Lord Stark. No doubt Lady Catelyn has mentioned me to you.”

“She has,” Ned replied with a chill in his voice. The sly arrogance of the comment rankled him. “I understand you knew my brother Brandon as well.”

Renly Baratheon laughed. Varys shuffled over to listen.

“Rather too well,” Littlefinger said. “I still carry a token of his esteem. Did Brandon speak of me too?”

“Often, and with some heat,” Ned said, hoping that would end it. He had no patience with this game they played, this dueling with words.

“I should have thought that heat ill suits you Starks,” Littlefinger said. “Here in the south, they say you are all made of ice, and melt when you ride below the Neck.”

“I do not plan on melting soon, Lord Baelish. You may count on it.”

Starks melting below the Neck makes them sound like Others, for sure – either that, or floating heads whose bodies have melted away (melting below the neck, get it…) We even get Ned with an icy voice, which is a nice complement to the frozen laughter line from the crypt scene, but a ‘stark’ contrast to the “heat” in Brandon’s voice. There’s a similar hot and cold dichotomy drawn Brandon and Ned when Jaime talks to Catelyn while she holds him prisoner in Riverrun:

“Brandon was different from his brother, wasn’t he? He had blood in his veins instead of cold water. More like me.”

“Brandon was nothing like you.”

“If you say so.”

That’s pretty good – Brandon, the hot-blooded Stark, and Eddard, with his frozen face and veins full of cold water. Jaime says Brandon is more like himself, and that’s undoubtedly true – cocky, assertive, charismatic, wanton, and foolheardy. Catleyn denies the similarity, but then goes on to admit that Brandon’s rushing to King’s Landing to challenge Rhaegar when he heard of Lyanna’s “abduction” was “a rash thing to do,” and that her father called Brandon a “gallant fool.” A hot-head, in other words.

We can even see the same fire and ice pairing with Bran and Jon Snow. Bran has the kissed by fire hair, don’t forget, and as we discussed in Weirwood Compendium 2: A Burning Brandon, his symbolism is very fiery, chiefly centered around the idea of Bran being a burning brand that represents the fire of the gods. His wolf is named Summer, with eyes like molten gold and fur like silver smoke. Bran never has ice armor or anything like that such as Jon has, and in fact, the crux of his coma dream involves him trying desperately to avoid an icy fate:

There was nothing below him now but snow and cold and death, a frozen wasteland where jagged blue-white spires of ice waited to embrace him. They flew up at him like spears.

After this, Bran sprouts his wings unseen and flies, only to have the three-eyed crow peck his forehead – pecking open Bran’s third eye in other words. When Bran wakes up…

Bran touched his forehead, between his eyes. The place where the crow had pecked him was still burning, but there was nothing there, no blood, no wound.

As I was saying, the rest of my analysis of Bran’s symbolism can be found in A Burning Brandon. Also, a caveat: just as mostly icy Jon does have a wolf with fiery eyes and a burning red sword in his dream, fiery Bran does have blue eyes – although they are mentioned only once at the beginning of Game of Thrones and never again. Watch Martin call him Brandon Ice Eyes in TWOW, that would be hilarious. I will say that he occasionally inhabits the body of Hodor, who has some pretty good frost giant / snowbeard symbolism in ADWD, as we saw last time.

So, we’re seeing an ice / fire dichotomy with Eddard and Brandon, which seems to have been repeated with Bran and Jon. More than anything, I think it’s simply a way to show that the Starks have a heritage based in both icy blood and hot dragon blood, and that they represent a synthesis of ice and fire… which is kind of the theme of the dragon locked in ice after all. Two episodes ago, we looked at how Stark and Dayne each lean towards one side of the Morningstar / Evenstar dichotomy, but still have an element of the opposite, a match for the yin yang symbol shows a black dot on the white side and vise versa. I’d view this hot and cold Stark blood idea in the same way; they primarily represent the frozen dragon (the dragon after it’s locked in ice in other words), but the fiery members like Bran and Brandon show us the blood of the dragon ancestry hidden beneath the surface.

Said another way, Brandon Stark’s hot blood might be a clue about the ancient fiery dragon blood of Night’s King before his transformation – Night’s King name was (mayhaps) Brandon, after all. Consider also the manner of Brandon’s death: he was strangled to death with some sort of noose. This would seem to be a call-out to the metaphor of Odin’s hanging on Yggdrasil to transcend death, as with Beric’s being hung, and all the other hanging victims we examined in Weirwood Compendium 3: Garth of the Gallows.

It’s possible that I don’t need to pull Lady Barbrey’s quotes to Theon about how Brandon and his bloody sword, because we’ve discussed them before, and because they are hard to forget… but that was a long time ago, and the wording is important, so let’s play it again. The scene takes place in the crypts, and opens with Theon speaking:

 “Someone has been down here stealing swords. Brandon’s is gone as well.”

“He would hate that.” She pulled off her glove and touched his knee, pale flesh against dark stone. “Brandon loved his sword. He loved to hone it. ‘I want it sharp enough to shave the hair from a woman’s cunt,’ he used to say. And how he loved to use it. ‘A bloody sword is a beautiful thing,’ he told me once.”

“You knew him,” Theon said.

The lantern light in her eyes made them seem as if they were afire. “Brandon was fostered at Barrowton with old Lord Dustin, the father of the one I’d later wed, but he spent most of his time riding the Rills. He loved to ride. His little sister took after him in that. A pair of centaurs, those two. And my lord father was always pleased to play host to the heir to Winterfell. My father had great ambitions for House Ryswell. He would have served up my maidenhead to any Stark who happened by, but there was no need. Brandon was never shy about taking what he wanted. I am old now, a dried-up thing, too long a widow, but I still remember the look of my maiden’s blood on his cock the night he claimed me. I think Brandon liked the sight as well. A bloody sword is a beautiful thing, yes. It hurt, but it was a sweet pain.”

This is undoubtedly where Martin makes his sex and sword play Lightbringer symbolism the most clear, and starring in it, we find a hot blooded guy named Brandon Stark who loves to use his ‘bloody sword,’ whether it be killing folks or impregnating maidens. Lady Barbrey’s eyes look afire as she speaks of fiery Brandon, emphasizing her as a Nissa Nissa when Brandon took her virginity.

There’s a fabulous match to this quote about Ned’s brother Brandon in the form of a legendary figure called, fittingly, Brandon of the Bloody Blade. He was supposedly a son of Garth the Green and possibly an ancestor to Bran the Builder, and in my opinion this idea is supported by other evidence of ancient Stark activity in the south. Brandon of the Bloody Blade’s only known deed was slaughtering so many giants and children of the forest at Blue Lake that it was renamed Red Lake. He’s a butcher right? Well, maybe, but given the bloody blade / bloody sword metaphor on display with Ned’s brother Brandon, it’s been suggested by veterans of the Westeros forums whose names escape me (was it you, Mithras Stoneborn?) that the clues here point to the idea that Brandon of the Bloody Blade from the Age of Heroes was actually impregnating children of the forest instead of. or even in addition to killing them. Another child of Garth the Green was Rose of Red Lake – Red Lake, the same lake as in the Brandon Bloody Blade story – and Rose goes on to become the ancestor of House Crane, whose members periodically manifests skinchanging abilities. This might be another clue about humans interbreeding with children of the forest in that area – the very place where Brandon was swinging his bloody blade around.

The important thing is the idea of the more recent Brandon Stark who loved his bloody sword and Brandon of the Bloody Blade both expressing a fiery Azor Ahai figure who has not turned into a Night’s King yet. We’ve seen a lot of evidence that Nissa Nissa was a child of the forest or child / human hybrid, and if Brandon of the Bloody Blade was actually having sexy time with children of the forest women instead of killing them… or if he was doing both, well, that’s probably Azor Ahai impregnating and maybe killing Nissa Nissa. We don’t exactly how all that went down, but I do tend to think that Nissa Nissa both had a child by Azor Ahai and died in some sort of magical ritual, or perhaps in childbirth. Remember also that it is the bright solar king, the summer king, who is the fertile, Garth-like figure, as these two Brandons are implied as having been. They’re similar to Robert in that, and Robert is of course a signature Garth-like summer king.

Alright, well there’s your little dose of Brandon Stark, the fiery side of the Ned and Brandon pairing. But let’s return our focus to his brother Ned, icy fellow that he is, to make one last point about icy transformation. I just mentioned that the Other’s voices are “like the cracking of ice on a winter lake,” and we’ve also previously discussed the idea that falling into a cold lake and / or catching frostbite can be a metaphor for being wighted or transformed into an Other. So check out this other exchange between Ned and Petyr:

“Do you always find murder so amusing, Lord Baelish?”

“It’s not murder I find amusing, Lord Stark, it’s you. You rule like a man dancing on rotten ice. I daresay you will make a noble splash. I believe I heard the first crack this morning.”

“The first and last,” said Ned. “I’ve had my fill.”

That ice does indeed crack, and it leads to Ned’s imprisonment in the black cells. Notice how the “amused” Petyr’s words are mocking here as he speaks of having heard ice cracking – the language is very close to that Others having voices like the cracking of ice on a winter lake, and words that were mocking.

As for Ned’s imprisonment in the black cells, let’s check that out:

The dark was absolute. He had as well been blind. Or dead. Buried with his king. “Ah, Robert,” he murmured as his groping hand touched a cold stone wall, his leg throbbing with every motion. He remembered the jest the king had shared in the crypts of Winterfell, as the Kings of Winter looked on with cold stone eyes. The king eats, Robert had said, and the Hand takes the shit. How he had laughed. Yet he had gotten it wrong. The king dies, Ned Stark thought, and the Hand is buried.

The important thing to note here is all the language about Ned being dead, cold, and buried. I particularly like the way that Ned is compared to the Kings of Winter – he’s cold and dark and buried, just like them. This is the same part of the archetypal story arc as Jon being dead and his body frozen in the ice cell, and the same as Davos being symbolically dead and locked up in the Wolf’s Den.

A bit further on, we get these lines:

When he thought of his daughters, he would have wept gladly, but the tears would not come. Even now, he was a Stark of Winterfell, and his grief and his rage froze hard inside him.

When he kept very still, his leg did not hurt so much, so he did his best to lie unmoving. For how long he could not say. There was no sun and no moon. He could not see to mark the walls. Ned closed his eyes and opened them; it made no difference. He slept and woke and slept again. He did not know which was more painful, the waking or the sleeping. When he slept, he dreamed: dark disturbing dreams of blood and broken promises.

So here’s Ned freezing from the inside, as a proper dragon locked in ice should. There’s a line a bit further on about the infected flesh of his thigh wound being “hot to his fingers,” and then another line about him being feverish, so it seems like very similar symbolism to Edric Storm and Edric Dayne both catching fever chills, or to Hoster Tully on his deathbed being both hot and cold. Essentially, the death transformation part of this archetype’s plot arc represents the merging of ice and fire, I think that’s the message.

When Ned is finally let out from the black cells, it’s to be brought to the Sept of Baelor to be beheaded by his own Ice sword. The Sept of Baelor is of course a symbolic ice moon temple, so this is very similar to Jon being killed at the Wall and feeling “only the cold.” It’s basically a repeat cycle of young Ned fostering at the Eyrie; this time he experiences actual death at the ice moon instead of his implied death via Aerys demanding his head.

Essentially, this is Ned falling through the ice of the ice moon (the cracking ice Petyr Baelish referred to) and meeting some kind of cold death transformation, just as Jon will undergo. This seems like our Eldric figure, stolen Other baby, as the last hero, someone who must undergo death transformation and become a green zombie like Coldhands and like Jon may become after his resurrection. I’ve spoken of skinchanger and greenseer blood as being necessary to make a good green zombie, a conscious wight like Coldhands, but perhaps the icy Stark blood is a necessary ingredient as well. Conveniently, Jon has both, and the Starks have probably been wargs from the very beginning (I have to assume the last hero’s “dog” was a direwolf, as many do).

And yes, Coldhands could be Eldric Shadowchaser himself, but Coldhands could be a lot of people, so it’s hard to say.

Notice also the language about Ned making a “noble splash” – that gives me a good chance to share the blue blood symbolism. “The blue bloods” is an expression which refers to the nobility or the gentry. The Others having pale blue blood may therefore be suggesting the Others as royalty – and of course they would be, descending from Azor Ahai and Night’s Queen and King. Thus Ned’s not only falling through ice, he’s doing so with nobility, like a blue blood.

And here’s a little something I left out of the Eldric Shadowchaser episode – the name Ulrich is a German name made up of root words that mean “noble heritage” and “powerful,” and the variant name Alaric means “noble / regal ruler.” I’ve also seen the name simply translated as “king.” Ulric, meanwhile, is the Middle English form of the Old English name Wulfric, which means “wolf power,” and I’ve also seen that definition attributed to Ulrich as well. I’m sure all that figured in to Michael Moorcock’s decision-making when he chose the name Elric, as he is indeed an old king of noble heritage with a powerful wolf at his side. That’s my dark horse candidate for Jon Snow’s original name in book canon – not Aegon, not Aemon, not even Eldric, but Wulfric. That’d be pretty funny.

Now that we’ve done an overview of Ned’s symbolism, let’s check out Ned Stark in action!

Like a Red Rain

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One of the great Ned scenes is his fight with Jaime Lannister’s guardsman in the streets of King’s Landing – it’s t he only time  we really see Ned in battle, since the Tower of Joy memory is so hazy that you really don’t get a sense of the fight. The Tower of Joy dream is actually linked t o this scene, because the fight with Jaime ends with Ned passing out unconscious, and his next chapter begins with the famous line that kicks of the Tower of Joy sequence: “He dreamt an old dream, of three knights in white cloaks, and a tower long fallen, and Lyanna in her bed of blood.” I believe the idea of the two chapters being linked  goes further than that, though, and actually function as two pieces of the War for the Dawn / last hero story, told in metaphor and symbol. This is kind of my ‘big clever Ned theory’ for this episode, so I hope you like it. It  really jumped out at me when I did a review of Ned’s chapters.

We already know what the Tower of Joy represents in terms of the war for the dawn: Ned is a last hero type leading grey wraiths with shadowswords that stand in for Night’s Watchmen – undead, resurrected Night’s Watchmen, I would say, since they appear as wraiths. They are taking on Kingsguard knights in snow white armor who guard a tower with an ice moon queen inside, and it ends with Ned collecting a Night’s Queen baby, Jon, and a white icy sword, Dawn. That’s basically one of the last parts of the chain of events – so what’s happening right before that, symbolically? If Ned’s wraiths represent zombie Night’s Watchmen, then the scene prior to this one should perhaps show them being killed – and indeed, all of Ned’s men in the fight with Jaime’s soldiers are killed. Ned should be playing the part of a resurrected person as well, and I’d say his breaking his leg in gruesome fashion and passing out is symbolizing the beginning of a death transformation sequence, one which is completed in a hazy dreamworld where his companions are the walking dead.

We even have a Cassel in both scenes to link them together – the ghost of Martin Cassel at the Tower of Joy scene, and the living Jory Cassel with hot blood in his veins in the fight with Jaime’s men. Jory pretty much steals the show, in fact, with one of the most valiant deaths in all of ASOIAF – so let’s get to it!

The chapter starts with Ned visiting the brothel to look at one of King Robert’s bastard children, the baby named Barra:

The girl had been so young Ned had not dared to ask her age. No doubt she’d been a virgin; the better brothels could always find a virgin, if the purse was fat enough. She had light red hair and a powdering of freckles across the bridge of her nose, and when she slipped free a breast to give her nipple to the babe, he saw that her bosom was freckled as well.

Moving past the obvious fact that Robert really is a horrible person, let’s take a look at the symbolism here. “The girl” has distinctive ‘Nissa Nissa as an elf woman’ symbolism, which you will recall if you have done the Weirwood Goddess series. She has red hair, like all of the ash tree weirwood maidens, which is even called “light” red hair, perhaps suggested radiance and light. The freckles, which are on her chest as well as her face, are a version of the “dappled skin” symbolism which have seen used many times to imply our weirwood goddesses as part child of the forest – and indeed, Ned estimates her age at “not more than 15,” making her a child-woman. Best of all, she even bares her breast, like a true Nissa Nissa! With so many recognizable symbols in close proximity, this is an easy call.

Next, we will see the Nissa Nissa heart-cutting symbolism, only shifted over and applied to Ned, as you’ll see in this next quote. This isn’t as strange as it sounds, as Ned has certain parallels to Nissa Nissa and the fire moon she is analogous to. The dragon locked in ice begins its life as a black fire moon meteor – a piece of dying Nissa Nissa – and in this chapter, Ned is showing us that part of the life cycle. Ned is playing the role of Nissa Nissa turning in to a moon meteor that gets locked in ice. The Starks represent frozen dragonlords, and so they occasionally shows us symbolism about their dragon origins, such as with Ned’s hot blooded brother, Brandon. In any case, the last quote left off with Ned remembering his encounter with Barra’s mother, and this one picks up a few lines later:

“And tell him I’ve not been with no one else. I swear it, milord, by the old gods and new. Chataya said I could have half a year, for the baby, and for hoping he’d come back. So you’ll tell him I’m waiting, won’t you? I don’t want no jewels or nothing, just him. He was always good to me, truly.”

Good to you, Ned thought hollowly. “I will tell him, child, and I promise you, Barra shall not go wanting.” She had smiled then, a smile so tremulous and sweet that it cut the heart out of him. Riding through the rainy night, Ned saw Jon Snow’s face in front of him, so like a younger version of his own. If the gods frowned so on bastards, he thought dully, why did they fill men with such lusts?

As I said, the narrative presents us with Barra’s mother as a signature fiery Nissa Nissa, but then it’s Ned’s heart which is cut out – Ned also speaks “hollowly” to emphasize the idea or a hollowed out moon. Immediately after their conversation, he heads outside into the rain and runs headlong into the disastrous confrontation with Jaime’s guardsmen amidst a wash of Long Night symbolism. This signifies, in astronomy terms, that Ned is acting out the part of a fire moon transforming into a black moon meteor and falling at the time of the Long Night, amongst other things. Ned will repeat this symbolism several times in this chapter, as is Martin’s habit, and in fact, Ned repeats it in his real death scene when he is beheaded on the steps of the Sept of Baelor. Think of poor Ned’s head flying from his body as the moon meteor flying from the dying moon corpse. This means that, for a moment, Ned’s flying head is Lightbringer. Don’t question it.

However, do recall that Arya compares the red comet to Ice, made red with Ned’s blood after his execution. This again places Ned in the Nissa Nissa role – it was Nissa Nissa’s blood that stained Lightbringer red, and Arya’s implies Ned as having stained Ice red… which is like the red comet, symbol of Lightbringer. Bloody red blades are going to figure prominently in the action, as you’re about to see.

Barra’s mother is a Nissa Nissa too, as I mentioned – she’s showing us the motherhood / procreation side of the Lightbringer myth (multifaceted beast that it is), while Ned shows us the swordfighter / last hero end of things. Nissa Nissa figures are usually in for sacrifice, either real or symbolic, just as Ned is at the end of the fight and then later at the Sept of Baelor – and we know that Cersei later has the lowlife-turned-Captain of the City Watch Allar Deem murder baby Barra and her mother.

This actually brings up a related topic, which is the idea of a child of Nissa Nissa being sacrificed in a blood magic ritual. We first saw this with Dany’s baby Rhaego, who is implied as part of the sacrifice to save Drogo and more importantly, to wake the dragons. We also saw Catleyn Stark, a red-headed weirwood maiden Nissa Nissa type just like Barra’s mother, killed along with her son Robb at the Red Wedding. When we go back to the Weirwood Compendium, we will be exploring this dark idea in more detail, so file this one away for later.

There’s one other thing to note about Ned’s recollection of this conversation; it’s the way he compares Robert, a solar king and a summer king, to himself and Rhaegar, who are both winter kings and lord of the underworld figures. In response to Barra’s mother, Ned says

“I will,” Ned had promised her. That was his curse. Robert would swear undying love and forget them before evenfall, but Ned Stark kept his vows. He thought of the promises he’d made Lyanna as she lay dying, and the price he’d paid to keep them. 

This is pretty interesting, as it casts Robert as the Summer King who loves women such as this Nissa Nissa-like child-woman during the daytime – contrast that to Rhaegar as the dark solar king who loves his Night’s Queen figure Lyanna during that weird cold period where King’s Landing and Blackwater Rush froze over.

Ned is also contrasted against Robert as one who remembers his promises past evenfall – during the night, in other words – and as I’ve mentioned, Ned is many times caught playing parallel symbolic roles to Rhaegar and other black dragon figures, usually revolving around the black sword and winter king symbolism. Indeed, this is also the chapter with Ned’s famous “somehow he did not think so” line in regards to the question of whether Rhaegar visited brothels, and that’s similar to Ned in this chapter, as it’s made abundantly obvious that Ned is uncomfortable at Petyr’s brothel and has probably never been in one before – certainly not as a customer. Ned and Rhaegar contrast strongly against the lusty King Robert, and that’s because Summer Kings are wanton Garth figures, spreading their seed like Robert.

The thing about the Oak and Holly Kings are that they are really just two aspects of the same horned nature god, split apart to represent Summer and Winter. There’s a similar thing going on with the Azor Ahai figure transforming from the bright solar king – a summer associated, Garth figure – to the dark solar king, the black dragon that brings the winter. When we see Robert the Summer King set opposite Rhaegar or Ned as Winter Kings or dark solar kings, that’s how we should think of them, as a pairing of opposites. This dynamic was especially apparent in that early AGOT chapter with Ned and Robert in the Winterfell crypts, as first discovered and explained by the one and only Sweetsunray of the Mythological Weave of Ice and Fire blog. 

All of that is a long and interesting way to say that Ned is like Rhaegar, in certain symbolic senses, and particularly in this scene. Ned’s primary identity is that of the ice moon or the dragon locked in the ice moon, but he occasionally shows us the black dragon meteor flying from the fire moon on the way to the ice moon, as he does here. Rhaegar’s primary symbolic identity is that of the black dragon, and thus the black dragon meteor – and instead of becoming locked in ice himself, he gives his seed to Lyanna of the blue winter roses, a la Night’s King giving his seed to Night’s Queen. Thus, as you can see, Ned and Rhaegar will overlap in certain scenes, particularly ones in which Ned is acting out the beginning of his cycle.

Longtime Mythical Astronomy Patron and frequent collaborator Archmaester Emma has a cool hat tip here from ACOK. It’s a quote from Theon about Ned: “Lord Eddard had tried to play the father from time to time, but to Theon he had always remained the man who’d brought blood and fire to Pyke and taken him from his home. As a boy, he had lived in fear of Stark’s stern face and great dark sword.” It’s cool that Ned’s “dark sword,” forged in dragonfire in Valyria, is mentioned alongside Ned bringing blood and fire to Pyke – that’s a lot of dragon action, especially since he fought alongside Thoros and Beric with their flaming swords. Ned was stealing Theon from his Night’s King and Queen parents at Pyke, a parallel scene to Ned taking Jon from the Tower of Joy and, theoretically, the last hero stealing children from the Others. That’s kind of the point of the implied dragon symbolism for Ned, even more so than the astronomy angle – the Night’s Watch and the last hero are always dragon-aligned.

So as Ned leaves the brothel, we see the all-important theme of rain introduced. In the last quote, it mentioned a rainy night, and then a moment later it says “A warm rain was pelting down from a starless black sky as they walked to the stables.” Anytime there is a starless sky, it grabs our attention as potential Long Night symbolism. Indeed, a moment later we read:

The streets of King’s Landing were dark and deserted. The rain had driven everyone under their roofs. It beat down on Ned’s head, warm as blood and relentless as old guilts. Fat drops of water ran down his face.

The rain of blood (cue the Slayer) theme basically dominates this entire scene, and of course it’s always nice when George lays it out simply for us as he does here. It’s a warm blood rain – this surely reminds of the waves of burning moon blood motif, which is just another way to refer to a shower of bleeding stars, a.k.a. the storm of swords. This is basically confirmed a moment later when the rain is mentioned yet again as Jaime and his Lannister guardsmen appear:

The rain was falling harder now, stinging the eyes and drumming against the ground. Rivers of black water were running down the hill when Jory called out, “My lord,” his voice hoarse with alarm. And in an instant, the street was full of soldiers. Ned glimpsed ringmail over leather, gauntlets and greaves, steel helms with golden lions on the crests. Their cloaks clung to their backs, sodden with rain. He had no time to count, but there were ten at least, a line of them, on foot, blocking the street, with longswords and iron-tipped spears. “Behind!” he heard Wyl cry, and when he turned his horse, there were more in back of them, cutting off their retreat. Jory’s sword came singing from its scabbard. “Make way or die!”

“The wolves are howling,” their leader said. Ned could see rain running down his face. “Such a small pack, though.”

Okay, now the warm blood rain has created rivers of black water, giving us definitive ‘waves of night and blood’ symbolism – which, as I am sure you all remember, comes from the blades of Oathkeeper and Widow’s Wail, which are described as having folds of dark grey and dark red, with colors that “lapped over one another without ever touching, each ripple distinct, like waves of night and blood upon some steely shore.”  In other words, this warm blood rain and black water implies both the meteor shower of the long night and the swords which were made from the Stark ancestral sword, Ice, swords which themselves symbolize the meteor shower as well.

There’s another possible reference to Widow’s Wail as Jory’s sword comes singing from it’s scabbard,” because “wail” is also a word that can describe singing. A moment later, a more obvious reference to a Valyrian steel sword occurs as it says “Suddenly Jory was back among them, a red rain flying from his sword.” “Red Rain” is an actual Valyrian steel sword, and just like Oathkeeper and Widow’s Wail, Red Rain is a Valyrian steel sword that implies the blood rain / storm of swords motif – it’s a sword called Red Rain! Red Rain belongs to the Ironborn House Drumm, and thus I don’t think it’s coincidental that in the quote we just read with the rivers of black water, the blood rain was “drumming against the ground.”

To put it bluntly, Martin is very, very strongly implying the rain as swords, and Jory’s sword as rain. Jory is implied as wielding a dragon sword, and his attack is like the blood rain itself. This makes Jory a symbolic dragon person, just as Ned is like a Nissa Nissa turning into a fire moon meteor dragon. Unfortunately, Ned and Jory are dragons headed for slaughter, but of course this fits with the storyline we are building here: these dragons to the slaughter can also be viewed as the last hero’s group on their way to become green zombies. That’s what Ned’s grey wraiths in the Tower of Joy dream symbolize – undead Night’s Watchmen.

Think of Davos starting on his journey to White Harbor with a dozen golden dragons, and then finding twelve people in the Wolf’s Den with the most prominent of them being implied as cadaverous or undead – it’s a perfect parallel to what’s going on here, I think. It’s showing us twelve dragons sacrificed and trapped inside the ice moon along with the last hero / Eldric Shadowchaser figure, with all of them awaiting rebirth.

The one slaughtering Nissa Nissa should be a solar king who’s about to turn dark, and that role is played by Jaime Lannister of course, who is wearing his Lannister crimson and gold in this scene, as opposed to his Kingsguard whites:

“He was the Hand of the King.” The mud muffled the hooves of the blood bay stallion. The line parted before him. On a golden breastplate, the lion of Lannister roared its defiance. “Now, if truth be told, I’m not sure what he is.”

Jaime Lannister poked at Ned’s chest with the gilded sword that had sipped the blood of the last of the Dragonkings.

Take notice of Jaime’s horse – its a blood bay. Think “bay of blood” – it’s another waves of blood symbol, continuing the escalation from blood rain to rivers of black water to now, an entire bay of blood! Of course, the the “rivers of black water” line has to remind us of the Blackwater River, which flows into Blackwater Bay here at King’s Landing, so you can see that the idea of black blood rain creating a black blood river that leads to a black blood bay is spelled out twice here. That’s pretty fun symbolism.

Jaime’s blood-sipping sword is of course a representation of Lightbringer, the sword that sipped Nissa Nissa’s blood and soul. And yes I just made Lightbringer sound like a sippy-cup – or maybe it was George. Anyway, Jaime is even poking his blood-sipper at Ned’s chest, again signifying Ned as a dying Nissa Nissa / fire moon figure in this scene, a complement to Ned having his heart cut out earlier in the brothel. Even better, Ned, rightly judging that Jaime cannot afford to actually kill him, is leaving his exposed chest defenseless, just as Nissa Nissa bared her breast to Azor Ahai’s bloodthirsty sword. It’s a bookend to the earlier moment in this chapter where Barra’s mother bared her breast and Ned felt his heart cut out.

Jaime’s men are basically an extension of his bloodthirsty golden sword, decked out in red and gold and referred to as “red phantoms” as they are in this scene. They have golden lion helms and red cloaks sodden with the blood rain, which enhances the idea of them playing the role of bloody swords of the solar king. Imagine Jaime as the sun, giving the command, and his men as the comet doing his bidding.

The notable Lannister guardsman is the captain Tregar – or should I say, “Tree Garth.” Tregar.. Treegarth.. oh yeah –  you better believe it’s intentional. Garth’s fertile, green form is the bright solar king – again, think of Robert – and when he kills Nissa Nissa, he to undergoes a death transformation and turns into the dark solar king. We saw that sort of darker Garth figure in the prison of the Wolf’s Den – that dude that just straight up smelled wrong to Davos. In astronomy terms, the way that killing Nissa Nissa – the fire moon – transforms the sun into the dark sun is of course by way of the smoke and ash clouds thrown up by the moon’s destruction and the moon meteor impacts on the Planetos. That’s why we sometimes refer to it as Nissa Nissa having ‘revenge’ on Azor Ahai. This exact thing is depicted as Ned gets a good whack in on Tregar’s solar lion helm and helps him undergo ‘transformation’:

“No!” Ned Stark screamed, clawing for his sword. Jaime was already cantering off down the street as he heard Wyl shout. Men closed from both sides. Ned rode one down, cutting at phantoms in red cloaks who gave way before him. Jory Cassel put his heels into his mount and charged. A steel-shod hoof caught a Lannister guardsman in the face with a sickening crunch. A second man reeled away and for an instant Jory was free. Wyl cursed as they pulled him off his dying horse, swords slashing in the rain. Ned galloped to him, bringing his longsword down on Tregar’s helm. The jolt of impact made him grit his teeth. Tregar stumbled to his knees, his lion crest sheared in half, blood running down his face. Heward was hacking at the hands that had seized his bridle when a spear caught him in the belly. Suddenly Jory was back among them, a red rain flying from his sword. “No!” Ned shouted. “Jory, away!” Ned’s horse slipped under him and came crashing down in the mud. There was a moment of blinding pain and the taste of blood in his mouth. He saw them cut the legs from Jory’s mount and drag him to the earth, swords rising and falling as they closed in around him. When Ned’s horse lurched back to its feet, he tried to rise, only to fall again, choking on his scream. He could see the splintered bone poking through his calf. It was the last thing he saw for a time.

Ok, a lot happened there. Ned’s blow actually split Tregar’s solar lion’s helm in half, causing blood to run down his face – this is your depiction of Nissa Nissa’s revenge, the darkening of the solar face. You’ll notice the verb Martin chose to describe Ned’s blow – “Ned galloped to him, bringing his longsword down on Tregar’s helm.” That’s our dark Lightbringer symbol, bringing darkness to to Tregar’s lion helm. Ned also “brought” blood and fire to Pyke in the quote we read a moment ago, for what it’s worth. As for Ned’s cleaving of Tregar’s helm, I said this moon-revenge blow against the sun is really the smoke of the impacts, right? Well, think of smoke dark Valyrian steel swords like Ned’s Ice, and then you can see that the smoke that kills the sun can indeed be thought of as a “darkbringer” sword that turns out the lights.

Thus, Captain Treegarth is playing the role of the summer king who must die when winter and the Long Night come, since Jaime can’t actually die here. He gallops off and leaves his men to do the dirty work, actually. Tregar however falls to his knees, as if praying or kneeling in ritual sacrifice, and blood on the face of a Tree-garth person evokes the bloody faces of the weirwoods, the garth-trees. Thus, Tregar is now going into the weirwoodnet and joining the trees. Tregar actually lingers unconscious for several days while Ned is unconscious and dreaming of the Tower of Joy, finally dying on the morning that Ned awakens, which implies Tregar as a Garth who went inside the tree and didn’t come out, whereas the character Ned represents does seem to come out.

Returning to the last quote, we saw Jory’s red rain line, which, again, is about as glorious and heroic a death scene as anyone gets in this series. Jory is “dragged to earth,” which is great moon meteor landing symbolism, the logical ending to the red rain of symbolic bleeding stars. Perhaps we’re supposed to see Jory as a falling castle – Cassel, castle – like a falling stone meteor. He’d be a bloody castle, if so, and we’ll see that very thing at the end of the chapter. The “dragged to earth” language also reminds me of the weirwood at the Nightfort, looking as though it was trying to drag the moon into the well. Here, it is Treegarth and his buddies dragging down moon dragons.

At the same moment that Jory is dragged to earth, Ned, a parallel falling moon symbol, crashes to the mud, tasting blood in his mouth and choking on his scream. That’s a bit of weirwood stigmata, and to go along with it, he has a gruesome fisher king leg wound! As we saw in the Baelful Bard episode, the Fisher King wound corresponds to a blighted land, so in ASOIAF, the logical time to see such wounds is when the fall of the Long Night is depicted. That’s exactly what is happening here, as you can see. Combining Ned’s crash landing from the heavens with the Fisher King wound is actually pretty creative symbolism on Martin’s part; it’s a nice way to show us that the the Fisher King wound of ASOIAF is the slaying of the moon and the Long Night.

Speaking of Ned’s splintered bone.. Ned’s bones are mentioned a bit earlier as Ned is riding through the streets when we get the line “Ned was soaked through to the bone, and his soul had grown cold.” This is of course freezing fire talk, as the fire moon meteors eventually cool to black meteorites – particularly the dragon locked in ice ones, and that is of course what Ned and the Starks represent. Think of all the symbolism at the scene where Jon sees the meltwater in the cracks of the Wall turning from meteor-like streaks of red fire to rivers of black ice: that’s a symbol of the freezing of fire in the womb of Night’s Queen, or the ice moon. Ned’s soul is growing cold here as he approaches his symbolic transformation and entrance into the dreamworld, which is like the inside of the ice moon or the inside of the wierwoodnet. It’s very similar to his grief and rage freezing inside when he’s inside the black cells.

I’ll pick up the narrative right where we left off:

When he opened his eyes again, Lord Eddard Stark was alone with his dead. His horse moved closer, caught the rank scent of blood, and galloped away. Ned began to drag himself through the mud, gritting his teeth at the agony in his leg. It seemed to take years.

Littlefinger and the City Watch found him there in the street, cradling Jory Cassel’s body in his arms. Somewhere the gold cloaks found a litter, but the trip back to the castle was a blur of agony, and Ned lost consciousness more than once. He remembered seeing the Red Keep looming ahead of him in the first grey light of dawn. The rain had darkened the pale pink stone of the massive walls to the color of blood. Then Grand Maester Pycelle was looming over him, holding a cup, whispering, “Drink, my lord. Here. The milk of the poppy, for your pain.” He remembered swallowing, and Pycelle was telling someone to heat the wine to boiling and fetch him clean silk, and that was the last he knew.

Just in case you missed the blood rain symbolism, there it is one more time, turning the stones of the Red Keep to blood – it’s a bloody castle, just like poor Jory Cassel lying dead and bloody in the street. It could also be seen as a castle made of bloodstone, which I have to think symbolizing the Bloodstone Emperor, Azor Ahai’s dark form,  coming into power. The grey dawn indicates a reduced daylight, one shrouded by clouds, just as we would have during the long night.

So, according to my hypothesis that this chapter and Ned’s Tower of Joy dream are meant to be interpreted as one longer story, Ned is equivalent to a slain last hero at this point, awaiting resurrection. And look who should be waiting for him as he loses consciousness but a snowbearded figure who offers him milk that will make him dream! This is the transition point for Ned as he slips into his Tower of Joy dream, and symolically, into the ice, so let’s transition too and make it a section break.

There and Back Again: Ice Moon Edition

This section is brought to you by the support of these priests and priestesses of the Church of Starry Wisdom: Yang Tar, the Midnight Light, shadowskin-master of the lands of always Bjork; Daenyra Flint of the Nightfort, Lord Commander of the HoW Night’s Watch, whose words are “avenging the memory of Brave Danny”; Ennovy, Shadowbinder from the Eastern Mountains and Lakes; The Black Maester Azizal, Lord of the Feasible and Keeper of the Records, whose rod and mask and ring smell of coffee; Sir Cozmo of House Astor, whose House Words are We Walk at Dawn; Hey Big Lady, Royal Seamstress of House Arryn; Grin of Long Lake, the Smiling Ranger and Freezer of the White Knife; and Tom Cruise sitting on a couch drinking a diet coke next to a little picture of Winston Churchill  

You’ll recall that I said I didn’t have anything for Pycelle, when I had cool symbolic finds for all the other snowbeard characters. Well, I was lying to you, so I apologize. I was saving this scene, which we aren’t done with, and in addition to that, an astute listener named Thunderclap has identified Pycelle as a creepy Santa Claus figure! To whit: he has a long white beard, a fat round belly, long red robes with white trim (“He was clad in a magnificent robe of thick red velvet, with an ermine collar and shiny gold fastenings”), and he visits children in the middle of the night. The key is the red robe; I had never caught that detail. Pycelle does have creepy Santa Claus symbolism! Of course Santa is just a variation on the Holly King, a.k.a. the Winter King, so the snowbeard and milk symbolism makes a ton of sense.

Setting aside the funny Santa Claus thing (and what does it say about George’s conception of Christmas that the two characters who correlate to Santa that we’ve found are Patchface and Pycelle), we can say that Pycelle plays the role of some kind of ice moon priest or psychopomp, offering Ned the milk of the poppy as he slides into his Tower of Joy dream and symbolically becomes a resurrected hero who fights alongside wraiths with black swords. That’s also consistent with the broader horned god mythology, as the horned god often plays the role of a psychopomp who escorts the dying to the land of the dead, and sometimes back again.

In Mythical astronomy terms, this is Ned as the black meteor entering the ice moon and becomes frozen. Again think of the line about Ned’s soul growing cold… it’s transformation time, oh yeah.

Earlier in AGOT, there’s a parallel scene where Pycelle also serves Ned milk – that time, it was a sweetened iced milk, if you recall. It was actually iced milk sweetened with honey, and some of the Twitteros symbolism crew have identified milk and honey as as reference to the Biblical story of Moses, to whom God promised Caanaan, the “land of milk and honey.” In other words, when we see milk and honey symbolism, think of  the food and drink of the gods and the fire of the gods. Dany tastes mother’s milk and honey, amongst other things, when she drinks the shade of the evening.

Most importantly, we should compare these two milky drinks to weirwood paste – whose taste sensations include “honey and newfallen snow,” and “the last kiss Bran’s mother ever gave him.” Milk of the poppy is more obvious, because of it’s association with dreaming, but consider the scene with Pycelle and the iced milk. Libraries and books can stand in for weirwood knowledge, we’ve seen that metaphor before, and you’ll notice that Pycelle gave Ned the iced milk at the same time that he gave him the book which lead Ned to discovering Joffrey’s parentage secret, which then led to Ned’s death – meaning, the book becomes a metaphor for the type of sacred knowledge that is gained through death transformation, a la Odin and the greenseers.  Giving him the book along with iced milk makes it easier to see the milk as a stand-in for weirwood paste, and I think it’s the same for milk of the poppy – especially when coming from a snowbearded fellow.

Even better, compare Bran breaking his legs and then becoming a greenseer by eating the weirwood paste to Ned breaking his leg and then drinking the milk of the poppy as the chapter concludes. In fact, right after Bran eats the paste, he has a series of visions, which conclude by comparing Bran and Ned:

Lord Eddard Stark sat upon a rock beside the deep black pool in the godswood, the pale roots of the heart tree twisting around him like an old man’s gnarled arms. The greatsword Ice lay across Lord Eddard’s lap, and he was cleaning the blade with an oilcloth.

“Winterfell,” Bran whispered.

His father looked up. “Who’s there?” he asked, turning …

… and Bran, frightened, pulled away. His father and the black pool and the godswood faded and were gone and he was back in the cavern, the pale thick roots of his weirwood throne cradling his limbs as a mother does a child. A torch flared to life before him.

I pointed this quote out in the Green Zombies series – first we have Ned with the “pale roots of the heart tree twisting around him like an old man’s gnarled arms,” then Bran is described in much the same language, “the pale thick roots of his weirwood throne cradling his limbs as a mother does a child.” In other words, dead Ned is symbolically inside the weirwood, just as Bran’s spirit is now partially inside the weirwood. This fits with the idea of the Winterfell weirwood matching the long, melancholy face of the Starks and containing the ancestors of House Stark, something Joe Magician talks about in his How to Make a Weirwood video that everyone should check out if they haven’t already, especially since I did the vocal performances for that one, ha ha. Also, if the weirwood is like a mother and Bran her child, then the weirwood paste that tastes like kisses from Bran’s mother is very like mother’s milk indeed.

The point of this for our Ned sequence is that when he’s symbolically killed and turned into a flying fire moon meteor, his next stop is inside the ice moon, which parallels to being inside the weirwoodnet. That’s why he’s drinking the milk of the poppy after breaking his leg in a parallel to Bran eating the weirwood paste: this is Ned playing the role of the last hero going into the weirwoodnet and into the ice moon. Ned drinks his milk of the poppy, served up by a snowbeard, and next thing you know… “He dreamt an old dream, of three knights in white cloaks, and a tower long fallen, and Lyanna in her bed of blood.”

Its also synonymous with the last hero going north of the Wall, since going north of the Wall is of course analogous to going into  the ice moon as well. We know the last hero goes north anyway, and this would be where he’s killed and resurrected according to my theory, so that all fits – and it also fits with Ned being accompanied by wraiths in his Tower of Joy scene. The rescue mission to save the Other baby obviously occurs north of the Wall, and there is most likely some part of the last hero’s mission that must be completed inside the weirwoodnet. I expect to see a close parallel of whatever this involves when Jon’s spirit wanders the bardo before his eventual resurrection.

Once again, I will point out that this same sequence is reflected when the rotten ice Ned is dancing on cracks and he makes his noble splash – meaning, when he’s locked away in the black cells under the Red Keep after challenging Joffrey and Cersei, then brought to the Sept of Baelor and beheaded. This again shows a death transformation as the last hero goes into the ice and into the weirwoodnet, as we’ve already discussed.

There’s actually a great correlation to my theory about the fight with Jaime and the Tower of Joy being two parts of a sequence when Ned is “buried” in the black cells. Ned in the black cells is analogous to Ned lying unconscious and dreaming of the Tower of Joy, and wouldn’t you know it, while he’s in the black cells, he has fever dreams of “blood and promises,” an obvious reference to the Tower of Joy, and he also dreams of the Tourney of Harrenhal and Lyanna’s blue rose crown, a scene directly linked to the Tower of Joy! It’s not just Ned’s tendency to reflect on all things Lyanna when he’s having fever dreams; it’s that these moments symbolize his archetypal character becoming the dragon locked in ice. He’s like a decapitated fire moon, hurtling toward the ice moon – and Lyanna is an ice moon maiden, so he dreams of her after death transformation sequences. The Sept of Baelor is an ice moon symbol too, and that’s where Ned is taken to die after the black cells.

All of this compares well to Davos and his being locked in White Harbor and passed of as a dead man, only to be “resurrected” by a knight of the greenhand, Wyman Manderly, and sent on a rescuer mission to save Rickon Stark. Fake Davos has his head cut off at White Harbor, just as Ned has his cut off at the Sept of Baelor, both being ice moon symbols. There are abundant “inside the weirwoodnet” symbols at the Wolf’s Den, of course, from its monstrous weirwood to Garth the jailor who “just smelled wrong.” The parallels are really tight here.

One last point about Pycelle Snowbeard. Obviously Jon being dead at the Wall, with his body probably to be stored in an ice cell, is parallel to Ned drinking Pycelle’s milk of the poppy and going into a mini-coma here, and my good friend and collaborator Ravenous Reader has pointed out that Pycelle sure sounds a lot like “ice cell.” It makes a ton of sense – Pycelle is symbolically putting Ned into an ice cell by serving him the milk and sending him into the dream world.

Pycelle, twisted Santa Claus that he is, also gives us a nod to the King of Winter in the scene where he serves Ned iced milk: that’s where he gives his famous line “Minds are like swords, I do fear. The old ones go to rust.” And then the iced milk arrives! Rusty swords are of course the province of the stone Kings of Winter, with the older swords indeed going to rust and leaving behind red stains.

When Ned is in the black cells, there’s a parallel psychopomp figure to Pycelle serving the milk of the poppy; it’s the jailer who brings Ned water. He’s “a scarecrow of a man with a rat’s face and frayed beard,” and of course you will recall that Beric is a “scarecrow knight,” while the scarecrow brothers which catch on fire in Jon’s Azor Ahai dream correlate to Beric and suggest fiery, undead Night’s Watchmen.

This scarecrow jailer in the black cells isn’t totally dissimilar to the snowbearded Pycelle, actually – we’ve seen people with undead Night’s Watchmen also have snowbeards. It’s important to remember that our snowbeard and Eldric figures tend to unite ice and fire symbolism. The burning, wighted Small Paul is a great example here – he was a symbolic burning straw man Night’s Watchmen, like Beric and the scarecrow brothers, yet he also had hoarfrost dripping from his beard, the signature snowbeard symbolism. So, we can say that Ned has Pycelle Ice-Cell serving milk of the poppy as a psychopomp in one sequence, and a scarecrow jailer serving him water in another.

Now the final stage of the dragon locked in ice is to awaken from the ice and from weirwoodnet slumber, and here we will preview the topic of the next episode: the inevitable ice moon disaster we are headed for. Ned has this covered: it’s Jon’s dream which merges the face of the burning wight from Mormont’s chambers and Ned’s face. If you recall, the wighted Othor was originally described as having a “pale moon face” and “eyes like blue stars burning.” It’s showing us the ice moon, but also a Night’s Watchmen “trapped in the ice” in that he’s dead and under the hold of the Other’s blue star magic. But the “demonic force” is driven out by fire, and here is Jon recalling the burning of the wight and the dream of the wight having Ned’s face:

Truly, the gods had heard Jon’s prayer that night; the fire had caught in the dead man’s clothing and consumed him as if his flesh were candle wax and his bones old dry wood. Jon had only to close his eyes to see the thing staggering across the solar, crashing against the furniture and flailing at the flames. It was the face that haunted him most; surrounded by a nimbus of fire, hair blazing like straw, the dead flesh melting away and sloughing off its skull to reveal the gleam of bone beneath.

Whatever demonic force moved Othor had been driven out by the flames; the twisted thing they had found in the ashes had been no more than cooked meat and charred bone. Yet in his nightmare he faced it again … and this time the burning corpse wore Lord Eddard’s features. It was his father’s skin that burst and blackened, his father’s eyes that ran liquid down his cheeks like jellied tears. Jon did not understand why that should be or what it might mean, but it frightened him more than he could say.

The description of the wighted Othor / Ned figure having bones like old dry wood is important because it creates the classic king of winter symbolism, which is that of a burning wicker man (and here I am referring to the real world king of winter / wicker man traditions). This is merged with the obvious ice moon face symbolism of the wight to show us that he ASOIAF King of Winter is a dragon locked in ice figure, which can of course also be like a Night’s Watch crow locked in ice as it is here. His reawakening will happen via fire, and, accordingly, the wight’s face is “surrounded by a nimbus of fire, hair blazing like straw.” This is a terrific depiction of both a burning ice moon and a burning ice moon man! As I have said before, this dream frightens Jon because it is essentially a prophecy of his future told in symbolic terms, and it’s a little rough, admittedly.

Now you can start to get a glimpse of why we have to talk about a potential future ice moon disaster next: because in terms of symbolism, the promised ice moon apocalypse correlates with Jon’s inevitable resurrection and the larger idea of the King of Winter awakening in fire. In fact, the hints about the #icemoondisaster are not only found in the symbolism of King of Winter figures like Ned and Jon – they’re actually buried everywhere ice moon symbols are found, especially at the two places we will look at today, Winterfell and the Wall. We’ll be sort of switching back and forth between discussing the Starks and the places where Starks live, and the reason why we can do that is because whether it be person or place, everything Stark symbolizes the ice moon and the dragon locked in ice symbolism… which, again, can only end in the reawakening of said frozen dragon.

Now that we have given Ned the full Mythical Astronomy treatment and begun to define House Stark through its most prominent figure, Ned, we can explore House Stark through its ancient castle, Winterfell. We’ll also be taking a hard look at the Wall, which kind of goes hand-in-hand with Winterfell and the Starks. They’re the two key structures in the North, and together with places like White Harbor, the Sept of Baelor, and the Eyrie, they show us everything we need to know about the #icemoonapocalypse and the awakening of the dragon locked in ice, he who has the blood of the Other.


Once again, if you’re going to Con of Thrones, please introduce yourself, I should be easy to find as I’ll be wearing horns of speaking on panels, or maybe both. I hope to see you at the Prose Eddard Livestream this Sunday, May 13th, 2:00 Est. You can get it in right before Cavs – Celtics at 3:30, we’ll be g ood. I’ll be on Joe Magician’s YouTube livestream later today at 7 EST, so come on by and talk prologue with us, and don’t forget to check out Blue Tiger’s Amber Compendium for his outstanding Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire, Okay, cheers everyone, and thanks for joining us! Ta ta!

Accidental sneak preview

So, if you subscribe to this blog through wordpress, you occasionally get an unintended behind the scenes look at a future episode when, usually late at night, I accidentally hit the ‘publish’ button when I mean to hit the ‘save draft’ button. It’s easy enough to change it to a private page so others can’t read it until it’s done, but if you subscribe you may get an email with the text of the draft as is. You can read it if you want, but know that it’s not finished, and it’s not even the next episode, as I am going to do another 2 part thing with 2 episodes released back to back. I recommend waiting and reading it in its polished form, but if you can’t help yourself, just keep it under your hat. Thanks everyone!

Ice Moon Apocalypse

Hey there friends, patrons, YouTube viewers, podcast listeners – fellow mythical astronomers all. It’s your host, LmL, and it’s time to talk about the end. At least, the beginning of the end anyway… that’s right.  It’s finally, finally time to discuss the possibility of a new moon meteor incident and a new Long Night.It’s been suggested right from the very start. My first episode, which began as an essay before there was such a thing as the Mythical Astronomy of Ice and Fire podcast, began with the famous quote from Doreah about the Quarthine legend of the second moon, which ends with a prophecy: “One day the other moon will kiss the sun too, and then it will crack and the dragons will return.” While we have seen the fire-breathing dragons return, I think it’s obvious the Qarthine prophecy is about the meteor dragons returning.

Think about it – dragons only disappeared from the world about one hundred and fifty years before present day. Four hundred years ago the Doom of Valyria killed off most of the Valyrian dragons, but before that, the Valyrians had had control dragons going back at least 5,000 years ago, when they wiped out old Ghis with their dragons. Even before Valyria, people in Asshai probably had control of dragons. This Qarthine prophecy, however, is probably centuries old, if not more, and certainly older than the Doom of Valyria, which means that dragons would almost certainly have existed when it was written. Therefore it doesn’t really make sense for the prophecy to speak of dragons returning – unless they are talking about the kind of dragons that come from the moon, the kind that only came once many thousands of years ago when the second moon kissed the sun. So when the prophecy says that one day the other moon will kiss the sun, and then the dragons will return…

…it’s nothing less than a prophecy of a future moon disaster and another moon meteor attack.  And it’s right there in Dany’s third chapter!

It actually is meaningful that this apparent prophecy of lunar doom comes halfway through the first book: it means it’s something Martin has been planning the whole time. Which makes sense – something that big as part of the ending would have to be planned out from the beginning. As we’ll see today, the foreshadowing for the ice moon apocalypse has indeed been laid out all throughout the series, just like all the other main events seem to be.

Bloodstone Compendium
I: Astronomy Explains the Legends of Ice and Fire
II: The Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai
III: Waves of Night and Moon Blood
IV: The Mountain vs. the Viper and the Hammer of the Waters
V: Tyrion Targaryen
VI: Lucifer means Lightbringer

Moons of Ice and Fire
I: Shadow Heart Mother
II: Dawn of the Others
III: Visenya Draconis
IV: The Long Night Was His to Rule
V: R+L=J, A Recipe for Ice Dragons

The Blood of the Other
A Prelude to a Chill
I: A Baelful Bard and a Promised Prince
II: The Stark that Brings the Dawn
III: Eldric Shadowchaser
IV: Prose Eddard
V: Ice Moon Apocalypse

Sacred Order of Green Zombies
I: The Last Hero and the King of Corn
II: King of Winter, Lord of Death
III: The Long Night’s Watch

Weirwood Compendium
I: The Grey King and the Sea Dragon
II: A Burning Brandon
III: Garth of the Gallows
IV: In a Grove of Ash
V: To Ride the Green Dragon

Weirwood Goddess
I: Venus of the Woods
II: It’s an Arya Thing
III: The Cat Woman Nissa Nissa

Signs and Portals
I: Veil of Frozen Tears
II: Sansa Locked in Ice

Now in PODCAST form!

Click to open in iTunes

One of the most common questions that I get is some version of “but how will we know (if moon meteors caused the Long Night, etc.)?” Well, there are a few ways – Bran visions, knowledge in Asshai, knowledge in old books Sam might discover, that sort of thing – but one of the best confirmations that moons meteors caused the original Long Night would be if moon meteors caused the new Long Night! Makes sense, right? We all know a new Long Night is coming, so it’s just a matter of how it is triggered. If meteors triggered the first one, it figures they would probably cause the new one, right? You might think a meteor attack is too spectacular for ASOIAF, too distracting – but again, we all know a new Long Night is coming, so think of the meteor impact as simply a very spectacular (and symbolically meaningful) mechanism to achieve that.

In a series full of Chekov’s guns, the biggest gun of all is the impending invasion of the Others. It’s been set up since the prologue of AGOT Others will once again invade Westeros and cause everyone a lot of problems. In the books, the Others are like vampires – they really can’t come out during the day. It’s glossed over on the TV show, but to truly invade Westeros, the Others need a true Long Night, with the sun hidden during the day and winter taking firm hold. In other words, something has to hide the sun – what could it be? If my main theory is right, Martin has already solved this problem once; he used moon meteors. Is he really going to come up with a whole new way to hide the sun?

It makes more sense to have “the other moon kiss the sun” in order to “have the dragons return,” just like the prophecy says. If he’s really left the reader with this long trail of clues about a moon meteor impact causing the original Long Night, well, it sure would make a lot of sense to put a big payoff at the end. People who didn’t see it coming will look back in search of foreshadowing, and there will be plenty to find – so much so that everyone will be saying “why didn’t I see that coming,” just as everyone did with the Red Wedding, which was in hindsight amply foreshadowed. After today, however, you all will be in on what I consider to be this ‘ample foreshadowing’ of the ice moon apocalypse which is headed our way.

We’ve actually been seeing it coming for a while now. After all, we’ve been talking about this “dragon locked in ice” symbolism for several episodes, and we’ve found it everywhere ice moons are symbolized… and what’s the fun of locking away a dragon in a cold prison if you’re not going to have that bad boy wake up? What does it mean for a dragon sleeping inside the ice moon to “wake up?” Sounds like an explosion, right? The last time a moon was “like an egg,” it had to crack open to birth dragons, and I think that one day the other moon will indeed crack open so the ice dragon can wake.

More than anything, the dragon locked in ice is a symbol of dead Jon, his body “growing pale and hard as the memory of all warmth fled from him” at the Wall, as Bran sees in his coma dream vision – and Jon is not going to stay dead. He’s going to wake up, quite possibly with the aid of magic, fire, and blood.  As we’ve covered many times, Jon’s symbolism is that of an ice dragon and of dragonglass. Think about dragonglass for a minute – it not only represents the concept of frozen fire, but also the potential for fire to be reborn, because Quaithe speaks of “waking fire from dragonglass.” Dead and frozen Jon, with his corpse likely to be stored in an ice cell of the Wall, is the dragon locked in ice, and he is most strongly symbolized by dragonglass – and accordingly, his resurrection can be thought of as the dragon locked in ice ‘waking in fire.’

So we have these parallel symbols – a moon with a frozen dragon inside that needs to wake, and Jon as a frozen dragon inside the Wall. The Wall parallels the ice moon if anything does – something we will explore in detail today – and thus we can see that Jon waking from his deathly slumber is symbolically parallel to the idea of the ice moon cracking open. If Dany played the role of the fire moon that cracks open to birth dragons at the Alchemical Wedding, then Jon is like the frozen dragon inside the moon, waiting to hatch. We’ll see that depicted in a myriad of clever ways today.

We left off the last episode with a great ice moon apocalypse foreshadowing: the burning of the wighted Night’s Watch ranger named Othor in Mormont’s chambers. The mechanics are simple: Othor is described as having the standard blue star eyes of all wights and white walkers, and most notably, a moon face in this line:

The hooded man lifted his pale moon face, and Jon slashed at it without hesitation. The sword laid the intruder open to the bone, taking off half his nose and opening a gash cheek to cheek under those eyes, eyes, eyes like blue stars burning.

Here we see clear “crack across the face of the moon” symbolism, with sword being like a comet. This could be either the original black fire moon meteor becoming embedded in the ice, or a depiction of the comet that is hypothetically coming to hit the ice moon in the future, as they are largely parallel events – both involve flying space rocks slamming into the ice moon, after all. I believe this would be the initial strike, as there’s a more explosive event coming in moment. Either way, we can easily see the basic idea of what is happening: Martin is showing us a moon-faced man full of ice magic energy getting slashed across the face with a sword, and the man wielding the sword is one of our flaming sword heroes.

The more important part comes with the burning of the ice moon man, where “the fire had caught in the dead man’s clothing and consumed him as if his flesh were candle wax and his bones old dry wood,” and its face was “surrounded by a nimbus of fire, hair blazing like straw.” These quotes merge the wicker man king of winter symbolism with the ice moon, and in the form of an undead Night’s Watchmen. This has Jon written all over it, as he’s a King of Winter figure and a Night’s Watchmen who is dead and symbolically trapped in the ice moon after he dies at the end of ADWD. Of course, Jon later sees wighted Othor wearing Ned’s face, which further cements Othor as playing a symbolic King of Winter / Stark role. If Jon wakes through some sort of fire magic ritual, he will be mirroring his brother Othor, and I expect that very thing to happen.

The thing is, this scene isn’t just showing us foreshadowing of frozen Jon waking in fire; it’s showing us a disaster involving the actual moon in the sky, I’m pretty sure. I mean you don’t leave a crack across a star-eyed moon face and expect us not to think about astronomy. Indeed, in this same AGOT chapter, Othor’s frozen moon face gives us some great ice moon apocalypse foreshadowing as it tries to kill Jon: “Its face was against his own, filling the world. Frost covered its eyes, sparkling blue.” When the ice moon is “filling the world,” that’s a bad sign, I’m pretty sure. Sounds like a moon – or a moon meteor, falling like a blue star – rapidly getting closer to the world and filling up the sky. And this after getting slashed across the face with a sword.

You may recall that there’s a parallel scene to this one; it’s the scene with Sam fighting an ice wight, and the language is much the same: “The world shrank to two blue stars, a terrible crushing pain, and a cold so fierce that his tears froze over his eyes.” Small Paul’s face isn’t called a moon face here, but this quote reads like Jon’s does – as a description of blue stars getting closer and filling the sky. And like Jon, and most importantly, Sam sets the wight on fire. Notice rescuer Sam’s ice-eyes in this scene; it’s one I missed last time! Samwell Ice Eyes, the Slayer! He also has “puffs of frost exploding from his mouth,” which makes him sound like an Ice Dragon, breathing cold! Hat-tip to Archmaester Emma for that catch 🙂

Anyway, I’ve quoted a little snippet of this scene in the last episode because Small Paul has a snowbeard, but I’ve been saving this entire quote for just the right time. This will have the most impact if you’ve listened to Weirwood Compendium 4, “In a Grove of Ash.” If you haven’t, the basic idea here is that Melisandre speaks of Azor Ahai’s rebirth by saying “even an ember in the ashes can still ignite a great blaze,” and there are a whole series of scenes where an ember in the ashes of a fire is functioning as a symbol of Azor Ahai inside the weirwoodnet awaiting rebirth. Weirwoods are modeled after Yggdrasil of Norse myth, which was believed to be an Ash tree, so the idea of a fiery thing being “in the ashes” is also a clever bit of wordplay about a fiery person being inside an ash tree, which in ASOIAF means inside the weirwood.

With that said, here is Sam burning the wight:

His fumbling fingers finally found the dagger, but when he slammed it up into the wight’s belly the point skidded off the iron links, and the blade went spinning from Sam’s hand. Small Paul’s fingers tightened inexorably, and began to twist. He’s going to rip my head off, Sam thought in despair. His throat felt frozen, his lungs on fire. He punched and pulled at the wight’s wrists, to no avail. He kicked Paul between the legs, uselessly. The world shrank to two blue stars, a terrible crushing pain, and a cold so fierce that his tears froze over his eyes. Sam squirmed and pulled, desperate . . . and then he lurched forward.

Small Paul was big and powerful, but Sam still outweighed him, and the wights were clumsy, he had seen that on the Fist. The sudden shift sent Paul staggering back a step, and the living man and the dead one went crashing down together. The impact knocked one hand from Sam’s throat, and he was able to suck in a quick breath of air before the icy black fingers returned. The taste of blood filled his mouth. He twisted his neck around, looking for his knife, and saw a dull orange glow. The fire! Only ember and ashes remained, but still . . . he could not breathe, or think . . . Sam wrenched himself sideways, pulling Paul with him . . . his arms flailed against the dirt floor, groping, reaching, scattering the ashes, until at last they found something hot . . . a chunk of charred wood, smouldering red and orange within the black . . . his fingers closed around it, and he smashed it into Paul’s mouth, so hard he felt teeth shatter.

Yet even so the wight’s grip did not loosen. Sam’s last thoughts were for the mother who had loved him and the father he had failed. The longhall was spinning around him when he saw the wisp of smoke rising from between Paul’s broken teeth. Then the dead man’s face burst into flame, and the hands were gone.

Sam sucked in air, and rolled feebly away. The wight was burning, hoarfrost dripping from his beard as the flesh beneath blackened. Sam heard the raven shriek, but Paul himself made no sound. When his mouth opened, only flames came out. And his eyes . . . It’s gone, the blue glow is gone.

Both Sam and Jon’s wight-fighting  scenes also involve the same 1-2 sequence: Jon and Sam first stab the wight, ineffectively – Jon with his sword and Sam with his dragonglass knife – and then turn to fire as second, more effective weapon, with Sam even thinking and reaching for his knife as he grabs the ember to shove in Paul’s mouth. In my estimation, this is depicting the two strikes on the ice moon: the first bit of moon meteor shrapnel that would have hit the ice moon in the ancient past, and the more spectacular ice moon apocalypse to come. The charcoal Sam picks up, red and orange smouldering within the black, seems like a pretty terrific red comet symbol, and as I mentioned, the ember in the ashes motif is trademark re-birth of Azor Ahai language.

So in both scenes, we have a dead Night’s Watchmen, held prisoner by the blue ice magic of the Others – first Othor, and now Small Paul – and in both cases, they are set free by a heroic Night’s Watchmen wielding fire. Just as I said that Othor actually symbolizes Jon, the same is true for Small Paul here – again I’ll point out the “hoarfrost dripping from his beard” which makes him a snowbeard figure! As you recall from the Eldric Shadowchaser episode, all of the snowbeard figures have heavy parallels to Jon. Most importantly, the ember in the ashes does indeed spark a great blaze in Small Paul, and it represents the rebirth of Azor Ahai, as Melisandre says. Again we should think of Jon coming back to life as Azor Ahai reborn, emerging from his icy prison in a display of fire… but only when “the world shrinks to two blue stars,” or when a star-eyed moon face “fills the world.”

Thus we can see another layer of the Qarthine prophecy about the other moon one day kissing the sun too and the dragons returning: the moon meteor dragons will return, yes, but so will Jon, the ice dragon. After all, in terms of symbolism, these are parallel events.

This leaves is in the ultimate sweet spot for analyzing ASOIAF: the intersection of awesome world-building and the heart-in-conflict. The Blood of the Other series has been very personal so far, very much focused on the many characters who fit this “stolen Other” archetype, but now it’s led us to an episode about potential for an #IceMoonApocalypse. That’s about as far away from the heart in conflict as possible – we’re literally out in space, and talking about magical flying hunks of rock. But of course that’s the beauty of mythical astronomy – the flying hunks of magic space rock always parallel the humans and their hearts in conflict.

So here’s what we’ll do today: we’re going to look at the two most important symbols of the ice moon: Winterfell and the Wall. As we visit these places, we’ll be simultaneously comparing them to Jon and the ice moon. It’s the same thing we did when we went to the Wolf’s Den at White Harbor with Davos, and indeed, Winterfell and the Wolf’s Den have many parallels, as we’re about to see!

The Hell Locked in Winter

Jon is the epitome of the dragon locked in ice symbolized as a person, and Winterfell is the epitome of the dragon locked in ice as a place. It’s like the Wolf’s Den, only better – Winterfell being the wolf’s den of all wolf’s dens, naturally.  Just look at the place: Winterfell castle is a hunk of dark stone surrounded by white snow, and this image is mirrored in their sigil, a grey direwolf on an ice-white field. A direwolf locked in ice! You better believe it, and we’ll talk about the symbolism of the direwolves in a moment – but there’s actually extensive symbolism of a dragon locked in ice at Winterfell as well. Let’s talk about the “locked in” part first – that is, the prison symbolism.

Just as the Wolf’s Den is a prison, Winterfell is described as a “grey stone labyrinth,” language which implies the labyrinth of Greek mythology which was a prison for the Minotaur. Winterfell is also described as a “monstrous stone tree,” which implies the weirwoods, which are prisons and traps (weirs) for greenseers and whose bark turns to stone. Similarly, the Wolf’s Den is a prison too, and one with weirwood symbolism, such as the fact that it contains the castle godswood with its “fat and angry” heart tree, and the jailer in the prison itself is of course a twisted dude named Garth. Back in Winterfell, in ACOK, a now-crippled Bran sits at the window seat of his chambers and thinks

Bran preferred the hard stone of the window seat to the comforts of his featherbed and blankets. Abed, the walls pressed close and the ceiling hung heavy above him; abed, the room was his cell, and Winterfell his prison.

It’s not just Bran’s prison of course. Recall this famous line from Ned and Robert’s scene in the Winterfell crypts in AGOT:

By ancient custom an iron longsword had been laid across the lap of each who had been Lord of Winterfell, to keep the vengeful spirits in their crypts. The oldest had long ago rusted away to nothing, leaving only a few red stains where the metal had rested on stone. Ned wondered if that meant those ghosts were free to roam the castle now. He hoped not. The first Lords of Winterfell had been men hard as the land they ruled. In the centuries before the Dragonlords came over the sea, they had sworn allegiance to no man, styling themselves the Kings in the North.

You can take your pick as to who the Minotaur is – the vengeful spirits of the dead Kings of Winter, or the little crippled boy who just so happens to be the most powerful greenseer in god knows how long.  That question aside, you can see that Winterfell is definitely implied as a prison, just like the Wolf’s Den. Ultimately the both fortresses represent the hunk of dark fire moon rock imprisoned in the ice moon, and so are imprisoned themselves – the Wolf’s Den is surrounded by the newer city of White Harbor, and Winterfell is surrounded by miles and miles of frequently frozen north.

So that’s the “locked” part of the dragon locked in ice – the prison symbolism – how about the dragon symbolism? So glad you asked my friend, so glad you asked. It begins with thinking about the overall temperature of the Starks: are they ice people, or fire people? This question is addressed directly in Catelyn’s first chapter of AGOT when she and Ned discuss the hot springs, one of the very best bits of Winterfell symbolism:

Of all the rooms in Winterfell’s Great Keep, Catelyn’s bedchambers were the hottest. She seldom had to light a fire. The castle had been built over natural hot springs, and the scalding waters rushed through its walls and chambers like blood through a man’s body, driving the chill from the stone halls, filling the glass gardens with a moist warmth, keeping the earth from freezing. Open pools smoked day and night in a dozen small courtyards. That was a little thing, in summer; in winter, it was the difference between life and death.

Catelyn’s bath was always hot and steaming, and her walls warm to the touch. The warmth reminded her of Riverrun, of days in the sun with Lysa and Edmure, but Ned could never abide the heat. The Starks were made for the cold, he would tell her, and she would laugh and tell him in that case they had certainly built their castle in the wrong place.

Suddenly the familiar hot springs have a whole new layer of meaning to them, huh? Winterfell is not just a hunk of dark stone surrounded by miles and miles of snow, it’s a heated hunk of dark stone surrounded by miles and miles of snow, which is starting to sounds pretty “dragon-locked-in-ice.” Winterfell is presented to us as having a circulatory system, and we can’t fail to notice that it’s “driving the chill from the stone halls, like Davos and Devan Shadowchaser driving or chasing the shadows and the chill from their respective stone halls. Now according to the Blood of the Other theory, the Starks of Winterfell descend from this Eldric Shadowchaser figure who represents the stolen Other baby-turned-Stark, so this bit about the ‘bloodstream’ of Winterfell “driving the chill” away reads a lot like a metaphor for the ‘blood of Winterfell’ being that of Eldric Shadowchaser. Which it is!

Whether that’s an intentional metaphor or not, it’s really the theme and the function that’s important; for thousands of years, Winterfell has acted as a bulwark against the winter precisely because it has a source of heat. The Starks may be ‘made for the cold,’ as Ned says, but their real significance is that they occupy a castle that will stay warm and habitable even in the coldest of winters. That’s what’s so funny about Catelyn joking the Starks built their castle in the wrong place… it’s just the opposite.

I don’t think most people appreciate the fact that during a Westerosi winter, Winterfell is basically Siberia. It’s close to the equivalent of the arctic circle, much farther north than any part of Essos. Most of you have never seen forty foot snowdrifts, or even ten foot snowdrifts (although I do have a couple of patrons from Finland and Canada, so shout-out you guys, leave me a good forty-foot snowdrift story if you have one). Point being, those hot springs are the obvious reason why you’d want to build a castle there, and certainly are a main factor in the endurance of Winterfell and House Starks over the millennia. They’re “made for the cold” in that they were smart enough to build their castle over a network of hot springs!

In fact, it’s not just the hot springs; we know that the Starks are actually made to resist the cold on a deeper, more symbolic and magical level. The crown of the King of Winter speaks of the Stark mission, as you’ll recall from past episodes. We see this crown on Robb’s head in ACOK, and it’s specifically said to be made from bronze and iron because those metals are “dark and strong to fight the cold” (and shoutout to Tony Teflon who made me aware that copper and bronze actually get stronger the colder they get, so this business about being strong to fight the cold isn’t just poetry). The crown is surmounted by nine miniature black iron swords, which remind of the other black swords in the story – Valyrian steel swords such as Ned wields and dragonglass knives such as the Night’s Watch is supposed to wield. Thus we can see that the Starks are meant to fight the cold, just like the Night’s Watch, and they’re apparently supposed to do it with black swords and knives, just like the watch, whose ideal weapons are dragonglass and Valyrian steel. Think of Ned with Black Ice, Jon with Longclaw, our buddy Barth Blacksword, who also wielded Black Ice, the black iron swords in the laps of the stone Kings of Winter, and Ned’s six grey wraiths with shadowswords at the Tower of Joy, facing off against the snow white Kingsguard knights.

So here is the “icy” House Stark, living on a geothermal hotspot, an oasis of warmth amidst the cold, and they’re carrying on a tradition of black swords and fighting the cold and maintaining a millennia-old  alliance with the Night’s Watch, who fight the cold with dragonglass or, according to legend, dragonsteel. Winterfell itself is a hunk of dark grey stone surrounded by snow. and it’s warm to the touch. It has hot water like blood… which might make it a bloodstone, in the symbolic sense. I mean, that’s what it symbolizes anyway – an piece of ex-fire moon turned moon meteor, crash-landed in the snow. Imagine Winterfell as a meteor that got locked in ice, but which retains a heart of fire, like a sleeping dragon.

There’s a great quote from TWOIAF about the hot springs which brings up the topic of dragons, as it happens…

Hot springs such as the one beneath Winterfell have been shown to be heated by the furnaces of the world—the same fires that made the Fourteen Flames or the smoking mountain of Dragonstone. Yet the smallfolk of Winterfell and the winter town have been known to claim that the springs are heated by the breath of a dragon that sleeps beneath the castle. This is even more foolish than Mushroom’s claims and need not be given any consideration.

Man it’s almost like I saw that coming. Winterfell is compared to Valyria as a place with access to the furnaces of the world, and indeed, that’s quite true. Score one for Maesterly science! They figured out that hot springs and volcanoes are like geothermal cousins, good job maesters.

There’s almost certainly not an actual sleeping dragon beneath Winterfell, but it is true that if some ancient dragonlord had to pick a place to serve as an outpost or even a home in the north, they would pick Winterfell, absolutely. Maybe that’s what happened! Winterfell is a geothermal hot spot, and it even has caverns. This is what lends a scrap of credibility to the rumors of Vermax laying eggs at Winterfell while prince Jacaerys Targaryen parlayed with Cregan Stark during the Dance of the Dragons – it’s just the kind of place a pregnant dragon would find cozy, if it could find a way down there. The oldest part of Winterfell, the First Keep, even has gargoyles, like Dragonstone! It’s a total giveaway as a dragonlord type of place, ha ha. Seriously though – I do wonder about that. Gargoyles are extremely rare in Westeros, and they’re found here on the First Keep, the oldest part of the castle?

In any case, the smallfolk have served up quite the dragon locked in ice metaphor in the form of the rumors about a sleeping dragon warming the castle. That funny little folktale is a really terrific metaphor – the dragon is sleeping and radiating warmth amidst the frozen north. Winterfell has a circulatory system, and it’s blood is warmed by a dragon! It practically screams “blood of the dragon lives here.” More specifically, it’s said to be a “sleeping dragon” beneath Winterfell, and if he should ever wake…

He padded over dry needles and brown leaves, to the edge of the wood where the pines grew thin. Beyond the open fields he could see the great piles of man-rock stark against the swirling flames. The wind blew hot and rich with the smell of blood and burnt meat, so strong he began to slaver.

Yet as one smell drew them onward, others warned them back. He sniffed at the drifting smoke. Men, many men, many horses, and fire, fire, fire. No smell was more dangerous, not even the hard cold smell of iron, the stuff of man-claws and hardskin. The smoke and ash clouded his eyes, and in the sky he saw a great winged snake whose roar was a river of flame. He bared his teeth, but then the snake was gone. Behind the cliffs tall fires were eating up the stars.

All through the night the fires crackled, and once there was a great roar and a crash that made the earth jump under his feet.

Ha ha, hopefully you saw that one coming, and hopefully you also remember Osha saying “we made noise enough to wake a dragon” when they emerge from the crypts. In the lead-up to that quote, Winterfell is described as a shell, and quite frankly, it really does kinda sound like a dragon hatched from inside the First Keep (the one with the gargoyles):

The sky was a pale grey, and smoke eddied all around them. They stood in the shadow of the First Keep, or what remained of it. One whole side of the building had torn loose and fallen away. Stone and shattered gargoyles lay strewn across the yard. They fell just where I did, Bran thought when he saw them. Some of the gargoyles had broken into so many pieces it made him wonder how he was alive at all. Nearby some crows were pecking at a body crushed beneath the tumbled stone, but he lay facedown and Bran could not say who he was. The First Keep had not been used for many hundreds of years, but now it was more of a shell than ever. The floors had burned inside it, and all the beams.

It’s a burned out shell – and this is complemented by Jon calling in ADWD, who says “The castle is a shell,” and then “not Winterfell, but the ghost of Winterfell.” Theon calls the castle a shell too, and he does it while standing in the very spot Bran did in the last quote. Like Bran, Theon also remarks that “this is where Bran fell” and notices the shattered gargoyles, who are by then locked in ice and snow. Point being – calling Winterfell a shell over and over again sure seems to enhance all the talk about dragons and dragons eggs beneath Winterfell and the fiery winged serpent appearing to fly overhead when Winterfell is burned.

Now, Summer and Bran probably didn’t see a real dragon hatching from the First Keep (even though the line about making enough noise to wake a dragon sure is tantalizing). Nevertheless, I’m sure you can see what I’m driving at here in terms of symbolism: the dragon locked in ice must eventually break free, just as Jon must eventually be resurrected, and I think that is one of the things being depicted by all this Winterfell dragon and shell symbolism.

There’s also a clue about the Winterfell dragon becoming locked in the ice in the quotes we just referred to. As we’ve said in previous episodes like Tyrion Targaryen and A Burning Brandon, both fallen Bran and the fallen gargoyles (which have red, fiery eyes in Bran’s nightmare of climbing the First Keep) represent fallen fire moon meteors. Both are depicted as landing in ice – Theon sees the gargoyles covered in snow in the quote we just mentioned, and while Bran is in his coma nightmare, he’s falling towards icy spires which have other impaled dreamers on them. As I’ve said a few times now, I think that being inside the weirwoodnet or inside the dream realm is often made synonymous with being locked in ice (think of Jon’s spirit wandering the bardo while his cold body is temporarily dead, for example), so in that sense Bran was locked in ice after he fell and slipped into the coma.

In other words, both broken Bran and the broken gargoyles, lying at the foot of the First Keep, represent fire moon meteors locked in ice, and are in effect synonymous with the castle of Winterfell itself, a heated hunk of dark grey stone surrounded by the frozen north. That is one layer of the meaning of the famous last line of ACOK which compares broken Bran to broken Winterfell:

It was not dead, just broken. Like me, he thought. I’m not dead either.

So Bran’s fall shows us, symbolically, the Winterfell dragon becoming locked in ice, and the awakening of this dragon from the ice is symbolized by Bran awakening from his coma with his forehead burning from where the three-eyed crow had pecked it. In order to escape the coma, Bran even has to do a bit of dream-flying, just like a dragon breaking out of the ice (and again remember that he was flying to avoid impalement on the ice spires).

That was the beginning of the opening of Bran’s third eye, and I say it symbolically corresponds to the awakening of the Winterfell dragon. And guess what – the next step in Bran’s third eye opening is the scene where Bran skinchanges Summer and sees the “great winged snake whose roar was a river of flame” flying over Winterfell! Right after seeing it, he comes back to his broken Bran body in the crypts and it says “Here in the chill damp darkness of the tomb his third eye had finally opened.” In other words, we’re being shown that Bran’s third eye opening corresponds with the symbolic idea of the Winterfell dragon awakening in fire, and I think this is because the Winterfell dragon represents both Jon and Bran – Jon in a more literal sense, since he’s actually part Targaryen and needs actual resurrection, and Bran in a symbolic sense as the bearer of the fire of the gods opening his third eye.

In terms of R+L=J, most would agree that every clue about dragons sleeping beneath Winterfell or dragons laying eggs beneath Winterfell ultimately symbolizes Jon’s hidden dragon heritage, a secret whose reveal will surely involve some sort of freaky scene with Jon’s spirit finally completing his recurring crypts dream and reaching the lower levels of the crypts, where he will see the ghost of Edrick Snowbeard riding a dream dragon and playing Rhaegar’s harp while drinking spirit-mead from an eight foot horn graven with runes, or something equally stupendous. We’re all looking forward to that payoff, I know.

Speaking of Jon’s resurrection and rebirth and the Winterfell crypts, take note of the “Starks being born” symbolism in the following quote as Bran and Rickon emerge from the crypts with Hodor and Osha and Meera and Jojen after the burning of Wintefell. After Hodor opens the door, it says:

Osha poked her spear through and slid out after it, and Rickon squirmed through Meera’s legs to follow. Hodor shoved the door open all the way and stepped to the surface. The Reeds had to carry Bran up the last few steps.

Rickon squirms through Meera’s legs as though she had just given birth to him, and Bran has to be carried like a baby as they emerge from the crypts and back into the land of the living. Who would like to bet against Jon’s spirit making a visit to the crypts before he is reborn into the land of the living? The opening of this door to the crypts is what Osha refers to as having “made enough noise to wake a dragon,” and it happens while the birth of Starks is being depicted. This is a terrific way to foreshadow a dragon-Stark being born from the crypts, which can only refer to Jon’s resurrection. I mean, yikes – the opening of the door to the Stark crypts makes a noice to wake a dragon.

In terms of Blood of the Other theory, that Night’s King was a dragon-blooded person and that the Starks descend from one of his sons who wasn’t turned into a full Other, I’m sure you can see what’s happening here. All of the clues that imply a dragon under Winterfell which work as evidence for Jon’s dragonlord heritage can also seen to be working to tell the (hypothetical) truth about the Starks being “frozen dragonlords” by virtue of their descent from Night’s King and Queen. Perhaps that’s why Jon’s dragon blood secret is hidden in the crypts – it doesn’t just apply to Jon, but to all of House Stark. Winterfell and House Stark represent the dragon locked in ice, the fire inside the heart of the ice moon, just as they are an oasis of heat in the icy north. This truth is part of their fundamental nature, built into their castle and their symbolism from the first time we saw Ned cleaning a Valyrian steel sword amidst the hot pools of the godswood.

In terms of astronomy symbolism, the message of the Winterfell dragon symbolism is crystal clear: if Winterfell represents the ice moon, or more specifically the hunk of fiery stone trapped inside the ice moon, it’s very like a sleeping dragon waiting to explode in fire. It’s dark stone is like a shell containing a sleeping dragon… until it doesn’t. Ramsay Bolton is the one who set Winterfell on fire and “woke” the sleeping dragon, and of course Ramsay’s primary symbolism is that of Night’s King and Bloodstone Emperor… just the sort of guy to provoke a moon disaster.

The Firewolves of Winterhell

Another way that the fiery dragon heritage of House Stark is depicted as something that belongs to all of house Stark and not just Jon is through the direwolves, the sigil of their house. Why do I say that? Well, basically everything about the direwolves implies them as fiery hellhounds. My favorite example of this is the scene where Shaggy and Rickon hide in the crypts after Ned’s death, only to have Shaggy jump out, bite maester Luwin, and then fight with Summer. The line there was “Bran saw eyes like green fire, a flash of teeth, fur as black as the pit around them.” Cerberus, the original hellhound of Greek mythology, acts as a guardian of the underworld, as do all the stone direwolves that sit besides the stone kings of winter, and Shaggydog is basically bringing that symbolism to life in that scene.

In other words, I’m calling the direwolves hellhounds not only because not only because they tend to have eyes of fire, as we’re about to see, but because of the Cerberus role they play guarding the underworld alongside the Hades-like Kings of Winter in the crypts. The fact that George seems to have borrowed the three-headed aspect of Cerberus for the Targaryen three-headed dragon makes this connection even more intriguing. Said another way, both the direwolf of Stark and the three-headed dragon of Targaryen are symbolic offspring of Cerberus.

There are actually many comparison to be made between the crypts of Winterfell with their stone kings and the hidden chambers beneath the Red Keep with their dragon skulls – and Arya makes that comparison explicit when she’s lost beneath the Red Keep in the dragon skull room, as a matter of fact, but that’s a bit of a detour. Or, it can be fun homework: read a couple of the scenes down in the Winterfell crypts, then read Arya’s two chapters beneath the Red Keep in AGOT. Spiral staircases leading downward, dead things with eyes that follow you, and a lot of the same imagery and symbolism. Bottom line, they are both Hades-style underworld settings, once more highlighting the fact that the three headed dragon of Targaryen and the direwolf of Stark are both children of Cerberus.

As for that fiery wolf symbolism, well, take a look at the eyes of the direwolves, which are consistently described in fiery language. Ghost has eyes which are described variously as “hot red eyes,” “two great red suns,” and eyes that “glowed red and baleful.” Lady has “bright golden eyes,” and Shaggy has “eyes burning like green fire” and eyes that “were green fire.” Summer has “eyes smoldering like liquid gold,” and after making a kill, it says “his muzzle was wet and red, but his eyes burned.” Grey Wind has “eyes like molten gold,” and Theon’s nightmare of dead Robb and Grey Wind says “Grey Wind stalked beside, eyes burning, and man and wolf alike bled from half a hundred savage wounds.” Arya’s wolf Nymeria “had yellow eyes. When they caught the sunlight, they gleamed like two golden coins.” Golden coins are dragons in Westeros, so there’s a subtle suggestion of dragon eyes here.

So, the direwolves have eyes of fire, that’s well established. What goes well with fire? Smoke, of course, and in the case of the Long Night, darkness, and that’s what we see in the fur of the direwolves. Jon says in AGOT that, excepting Ghost, the other wolves “are all dark, grey or black” in terms of fur. Summer has fur like “silver smoke,” while Grey Wind is described as “smoke dark,” the same phrase used to describe Ned’s Ice. A “grey wind” is a smokey wind anyway, so both Valyrian steel and dark smoke is implied here. Getting darker still, we saw that Shaggy’s fur is “as black as the pit” when down in the crypts, which reminds us of Drogon being as black as night, and of the underworld realm in general (where you would expect to find “the pit,” right?) Another similarity to Drogon is found when Arya skinchanges Nymeria and leads the great wolfpack and calls herself “the Nightwolf.” Nymeria herself is described by a commoner in the Riverlands as “a she-wolf, a bitch from the seventh hell.”

So… eyes like fire, fur like smoke and darkness, guardians of hell symbolism – these aren’t dire-wolves, they’re fire-wolves! There’s nothing remotely icy or cold about them or their symbolism. Not even once! The cherry on top is Theon’s nightmare vision of Rickon and Bran merged with their direwolves like wolfish versions of Valyrian sphinxes:

Mercy, he sobbed. From behind came a shuddering howl that curdled his blood. Mercy, mercy. When he glanced back over his shoulder he saw them coming, great wolves the size of horses with the heads of small children. Oh, mercy, mercy. Blood dripped from their mouths black as pitch, burning holes in the snow where it fell. Every stride brought them closer. Theon tried to run faster, but his legs would not obey. The trees all had faces, and they were laughing at him, laughing, and the howl came again. He could smell the hot breath of the beasts behind him, a stink of brimstone and corruption. 

Burning black blood is something we see with Drogon and Melisandre and Beric, all creatures who are fire made flesh in a very real sense. The dream firewolves with heads of children also stink of brimstone, which is signature dragon language that compares very well to scenes with the dragons under the Great Pyramid of Meereen. I compared them to Valyrian sphinxes because Valyrian sphinxes have the bodies of dragons and the heads of people, in case you were wondering.

So, there you have it – it’s not just a matter of dragon symbolism hidden at Winterfell. We’ve got a whole pack of fiery hellhounds lurking about. They may be surrounded by snow and ice, but they are guarding the entrance to hell that is Winterfell. There’s a great line in AGOT which kind of sums this up:

Eddard Stark dreamed of a frozen hell reserved for the Starks of Winterfell.

The north is a frozen hell – Cersei famously tells Ned she’ll allow him to “live out your days in the grey waste you call home” if he will bend the knee to Joffrey, for example – but the wolves sent there are fiery ones. This is just another version of dragon locked in ice symbolism! Therefore, I would say that the fire-wolf symbolism simply augments the “Starks as frozen dragonlords” symbolism and shows that it’s not just Jon bringing the brimstone stink to Winterfell, but all of House Stark.

George would seem to be referencing Dante’s Inferno with this line, and also when he has Barristan say that “half the hells are made of flame” in ADWD, which implies that half of the hells are made of ice. An icy hell is exactly what Dante finds at the center of the ninth circle of hell – Cocytus, the frozen lake. And you are not going to believe who we find trapped in the ice at the center of this frozen lake, locked in the ice. That’s right, it’s none other that our buddy Lucifer, whom Dante has conflated with the devil. He’s depicted as a giant winged beast, and he is literally trapped waist-deep in the frozen lake. So perhaps we should say, “a frozen hell reserved for Starks, and Lucifer!” What does this say about the Starks, I wonder? Well, probably that they are descended of Azor Ahai and the Night’s King, the Lucifer figures of ASOIAF. This observation was made by our good friend and frequent contributor Ravenous Reader, and this is almost certainly the place where George first got the seeds for the concept of the dragon locked in ice, or at least we can say this detail from Dante’s Inferno was surely playing in George’s mind when he conceived the idea. Lucifer must of course be freed from the frozen lake for Armageddon, and similarly, Jon will be breaking out of the ice in time for the new Long Night.

So, from sleeping dragons to dragon eggs to hot springs like blood to fiery hellhound wolves and right down to the concept of a frozen hell to trap Lucifer, Winterfell is basically constructed as a demonstration of all the dragon-locked-in-ice symbolism. And it’s not just ‘dragon locked in ice’ and ‘firewolf locked in ice’ symbolism being depicted, but the reawakening of that sleeping monster, the minotaur that’s implied as being inside Winterfell’s “labyrinthine” walls. That story is told by Winterfell’s burning, when winged snakes and Burning Brandons emerge from the shell of Winterfell, and will be told again when Jon’s resurrection path loops through the Winterfell crypts as it surely must. As I mentioned at the top, it’s the same story told by Jon’s dream of a moon-faced, ice-wighted Ned Stark, exploding in a nimbus of flame like a burning wicker man.

You know what other story all of this symbolism tells? Why, that would be the impending moon disaster involving the ice moon, of course! The moon was an egg Khaleesi, but Winterfell is a broken shell from which dragons hatch… and oh, gosh, that matches the moon dragon myth pretty well. How’s the rest of that one go… “one day the other moon will kiss the sun too, and the dragons will return,” I believe it is.

As it happens, Winterfell is not the only ice moon place that seems destined to have some kind of dragon-awakening event.

The End of the World and We Know It

I’ve said many times that all ice moon symbols, be they persons, places, or things, contain dragon-locked-in-ice symbolism, and at the end of the Ned episode I mentioned that most ice moon people and places have symbolic hints about the impending ice moon disaster. This is because the impending ice moon disaster is akin to the dragon locked in ice awakening, and every place that shows the dragon locked in ice hints at an awakening… usually a violent or dramatic one.

We just saw it at Winterfell – George literally blew up the First Keep, had Bran see a fiery winged snake, and dropped in a line about making enough noise to wake a dragon when the Starks reemerge from the crypts. Who knows what else will happen at Winterfell before the story is complete? Stannis was going there with his Lightbringer, last time I checked. (Is he still stuck out there in the snow? I’ll have to ask BFish.)

Beyond the walls of Winterfell, one of the best and most direct symbols of the ice moon is the Heart of Winter. It’s the place that represents the promise of a new Long Night in Bran’s coma dream as he looks past the curtain of light and into the Heart of Winter, terrified, while Bloodraven whispers “now you know why you must live” in his ear. Symbolically, if not literally, this is where the Others come from, and we all know that a.) we haven’t seen anything close to a full-on invasion of the Others yet, and that b.) we can surely look forward to seeing it soon. An invasion of blue-star eyed Others is akin to an invasion of cold stars, which is basically what I am predicting will happen in the sky to kick off the new Long Night, so we’ll have actual cold falling stars that lead to an invasion of symbolic cold stars. Therefore we can say that the Heart of Winter, as a proper ice moon symbol, is clearly promising a symbolic meteor shower that will come with a long winter.

Then we have the Eyrie, a prominent ice moon symbol. The Eyrie an impregnable castle of white marble high up on a mountain which is holding a ton of frozen ice and snow…. but there’s some foreshadowing regarding that mountain, called the Giant’s Lance, which suggests an avalanche may be in the cards. We’ll talk about that more when we get to the Eyrie episode in the Moons of Ice and Fire episode, but here’s a sneak preview from a Catelyn chapter of AGOT:

The eastern sky was rose and gold as the sun broke over the Vale of Arryn. Catelyn Stark watched the light spread, her hands resting on the delicate carved stone of the balustrade outside her window. Below her the world turned from black to indigo to green as dawn crept across fields and forests. Pale white mists rose off Alyssa’s Tears, where the ghost waters plunged over the shoulder of the mountain to begin their long tumble down the face of the Giant’s Lance. Catelyn could feel the faint touch of spray on her face.

Alyssa Arryn had seen her husband, her brothers, and all her children slain, and yet in life she had never shed a tear. So in death, the gods had decreed that she would know no rest until her weeping watered the black earth of the Vale, where the men she had loved were buried. Alyssa had been dead six thousand years now, and still no drop of the torrent had ever reached the valley floor far below.

We’ve seen tears of blood represent the fire moon meteors, so it should not surprise you to hear me say that icy tears can symbolize ice moon meteors – think of the Wall being said to “weep” when it melts on a sunny day (the waterfall known as Alyssa’s tears actually does freeze in winter, as a matter of fact). On a basic level, if the moon can be seen as a face, then it makes sense to see things falling from the moon as tears. Accordingly, the cold tears that “tumble down the face” of the Giant’s Lance remind us of ice moon meteors symbols in this paragraph; namely, they remind us of the symbolic language used for the Others and the sword Dawn.

First of all, they’re ghostly ice moon meteors symbols, which make us think of the Others, and when it says “pale white mists rose” from the ghost waters of the Alyssa’s tears, we really thinking about the Others, especially Tormund Giantsbane’s line to Jon in ADWD:

“A man can fight the dead, but when their masters come, when the white mists rise up … how do you fight a mist, crow?” 

The Others are rising white mists and ghosts, we got that. In fact, behold this awesome clue about the Others I found AGOT that uses this same language:

The rising sun sent fingers of light through the pale white mists of dawn. A wide plain spread out beneath them, bare and brown, its flatness here and there relieved by long, low hummocks. Ned pointed them out to his king. “The barrows of the First Men.”

Robert frowned. “Have we ridden onto a graveyard?”

This passage seems to imply a connection between the Others and the most ancient First Men – and Barrow King in particular, who is like the deathly form of Garth the Green, whom Robert embodies. So it’s kind of like Robert walking on his own grave, in terms of archetypes, which Martin is obviously playing with here with Robert’s clueless “have we ridden onto a graveyard?” The other notable thing is the “pale white mists of dawn” language, which is yet another example of Others symbolism appearing alongside that of dawn. Of course, this whole scene with Cat observing the chilly ghost torrent of Alyssa’s tears occurs at dawn too, and of course I believe the explanation is that Dawn is the original Ice of House Stark, and was at some point “the Dawn of the Others,” meaning that it was possessed by Night’s King. If Night’s King ruled during the Long Night as I suggest, then he would have “stolen dawn” in the figurative sense of preventing the sun to rise, so it follows that he might have stolen Dawn the sword as well – at least, that’s the short version of that theory!

The best clue about Dawn in the scene with Cat observing Alyssa’s tears comes from the Alyssa’s tears being referred to as a “torrent” and then “ghost waters,” and another time in this same book they are called a “ghost torrent” – the Torrentine River is the one flows out to sea at Starfall, when Dawn resides, and since these icy tears of Alyssa’s are ice moon meteor symbols, as Dawn is, I tend to think the torrent language us no coincidence. You’ll recall the scene where Daenerys dreams of re-fighting the battle of the trident on dragonback, using dragonfire to melt ice-armored enemies who “turned the Trident into a torrent.” These ice-armored enemies melted by Dany’s dragonfire have always been taken to represent Others, so once again we have the association between ‘torrential’ waters and ice moon symbols, as we do with Alyssa’s tears. Why? Because Dawn is the original Ice! And because Dawn, the Others, and rivers that flow from melting ice are all ice moon meteor symbols.

The thing that tales all these ice moon meteor symbols and makes them foreboding is the prophecy aspect of the Alyssa legend: Alyssa’s ghost will know no rest until her waterfall hits the ground. What’s implied here is that one day, that might happen, that her tears might reach the ground. Meaning, one day ice moon meteors will reach the ground too, and then perhaps Night’s Queen can finally be content? Maybe all the ice moon wants is to get that damn black meteor out of it, right? Symbolism aside, the way in which Alyssa’s tears might actually reach the ground is if there is some kind of large avalanche, or if a streaking fireball melts all the snow on the mountain, just saying.

So, the Giant’s Lance might shed its snow and Alyssa’s ghost torrent may one day reach the ground; Winterfell is a shell for waking dragons, waking Jon Snows, and waking Burning Brandons; and the Heart of Winter is slowly, ever so slowly, preparing to unleash the Others on Westeros. And hey – nice Sept of Baelor you got there, all shining white marble and all… be a shame if something happened to it. Are you sure they removed all the old jars of wildfire from King Aerys’s day? I kid, but even if someone doesn’t blow it up as happens in the TV show, the idea of Warrior’s Sons pouring out of Baelor’s Sept works well to symbolize an invasion of Others. As we discussed in Moons 3: Visenya Draconis, the Warrior’s Sons, like the Kingsguard, serve as stand-ins for the Others, with their mirror-like armor, their “crystal sword in the darkness” sigil that replicates the look of an Other’s crystal sword in the darkness, and the crystal stars in the pommels of their actual swords which give them star-sword meteor symbolism to match the star-eyes of the Others. So here’s yet another ice moon place, promising a disastrous outpouring of crystalline star swords, and maybe even an actual big explosion.

With all that said, what do you think we’ll find at the Wall??? Dragon locked in ice symbolism perhaps, and maybe some hints about the moon blowing up? Well, let’s go on and have a look, shall we? The Wall is basically our master template for the ice moon, for obvious reasons: it’s huge, it just loves to glitter in the moonlight, it’s made of ice, and it has a knack for imprisoning dragons. The descriptions of it lay out the complete package of icy symbolism, and there are three symbols in particular we will focus on: ice dragons, ice swords, and icy or frozen rivers. All three of these symbols work to imply the ice moon as something that gives off icy moon meteors, and each add more specific associations as well: the ice dragon symbol evokes Jon and the dragon locked in ice, the white swords / ice sword symbol evokes both Dawn and the swords of the Others, and the frozen river symbol kind of suggests a possibility for flooding, in addition to referring back to the white knife / ice sword symbolism via the frozen White Knife River at White Harbor. When applied to the Wall, all of three of these symbols are ominous, as you would expect.

We’ll get to all that gloom and doom in due time, but let’s set that aside for a second and just enjoy the Wall while it still stands, you know? Live in the moment. We’ll start with basic descriptions of the Wall as they come to us in the books. Jon Snow’s first  chapter at the Wall in AGOT give us several fantastic descriptions of the Wall, such as this one:

As he stood outside the armory looking up, Jon felt almost as overwhelmed as he had that day on the kingsroad, when he’d seen it for the first time. The Wall was like that. Sometimes he could almost forget that it was there, the way you forgot about the sky or the earth underfoot, but there were other times when it seemed as if there was nothing else in the world. It was older than the Seven Kingdoms, and when he stood beneath it and looked up, it made Jon dizzy. He could feel the great weight of all that ice pressing down on him, as if it were about to topple, and somehow Jon knew that if it fell, the world fell with it.

Ooof. Like I said, Chekov’s Wall has got to fall, and I think the same might go for that ice moon. It may well be the reason the Wall falls, I suspect, and when that icy moon meteor falls through the sky, the world will “fall with it” in that it will signal the “last battle,” if you will, the Ragnarok or Armageddon of ASOIAF – the new Long Night. It won’t be the end of the world, but rather of a world age, where the world will be remade as Euron says in the Forsaken chapter. I especially how the ice disaster symbolism is made personal for Jon when it says “he could feel the great weight of all that ice pressing down on him,” as if he’d been buried beneath it. Bingo! Yet more dead-Jon-in-the-ice-cells foreshadowing, and great nod to the idea of the Wall being a tomb or prison for a dragon meteor man like Jon.

Besides Jon outright speculating about the Wall falling, notice that the Wall is compared to the sky, and then Jon thinks about it falling – I mean I don’t want to sound like Chicken Little or anything but.. I am warning of an impending meteor catastrophe, so yeah, guys! The sky is falling. 

But who knows, maybe I am just a doom and gloom type and I am misinterpreting things. Here’s another passage from that same Jon chapter:

The largest structure ever built by the hands of man, Benjen Stark had told Jon on the kingsroad when they had first caught sight of the Wall in the distance. “And beyond a doubt the most useless,” Tyrion Lannister had added with a grin, but even the Imp grew silent as they rode closer. You could see it from miles off, a pale blue line across the northern horizon, stretching away to the east and west and vanishing in the far distance, immense and unbroken. This is the end of the world, it seemed to say.

DAM-mit! The end of the world, it seemed to say? Well, we can’t say we weren’t warned – this is all in the first book so far. I like how it says “immense and unbroken,” and then “this is the end of the world,” as if to comment on how spectacularly unbroken the Wall is before suggesting it as the end of the world. Again, this is the same chapter in which he says that if the Wall ever fell, the world would fall with it.

Different chapter now, but still in AGOT, we have this gem, which comes as Jon pouts about being chosen for the stewards instead of the rangers:

Outside, Jon looked up at the Wall shining in the sun, the melting ice creeping down its side in a hundred thin fingers. Jon’s rage was such that he would have smashed it all in an instant, and the world be damned.

“Jon,” Samwell Tarly said excitedly. “Wait. Don’t you see what they’re doing?”

Yikes! Easy there Jonny boy! But I’ll ask you the same question Sam asked Jon: ‘don’t you see what George is doing?’ I mean if this is not foreshadowing, I don’t know what it looks like. It’s noteworthy that it’s Jon smashing the Wall here – think of resurrected Jon “hatching” for the Wall like a frozen dragon breaking out of its moon shell. The world will be damned when the other moon kisses the sun, as the Wall is doing here by shining and melting in the sun, but at least we’ll have Jon, hopefully with all his rage channeled in the right direction.

I also have to give two of my good friends and fellow YouTubers Azor Ahype and Secrets of the Citadel here a quick shoutout here, as their exploration of Ragnarok and ASOIAF clued me in to three things: the Wall seems a very close analog to the Bifrost Bridge; the black-clad Jon Snow with a burning red sword is very similar to the fire giant Sutr, who also wields a burning red sword; and finally that it is Sutr who breaks the Bifrost bridge with his fire sword when Ragnarok falls. I don’t think Jon will literally chop down the Wall with Longclaw of course, but I’ve been saying from the start that his resurrection will be linked to the Wall falling and this #IceMoonApocalypse I am talking about, which seems like Martin’s echo of Sutr destroying the Bifrost. In this last scene at least, Jon’s ready to smash it – if only he were a huge fire giant, we’d be in trouble.

But let’s forget about this whole prophecy of doom thing for just a moment and talk about the Wall itself and its descriptive language. Two quotes ago the Wall was described as a pale blue line across the northern horizon, and this next quote from ACOK gives us a healthy dose of Wall symbols:

Sam squinted up at the Wall. It loomed above them, an icy cliff seven hundred feet high. Sometimes it seemed to Jon almost a living thing, with moods of its own. The color of the ice was wont to change with every shift of the light. Now it was the deep blue of frozen rivers, now the dirty white of old snow, and when a cloud passed before the sun it darkened to the pale grey of pitted stone.

The Wall stretched east and west as far as the eye could see, so huge that it shrunk the timbered keeps and stone towers of the castle to insignificance. It was the end of the world.

You know, I was trying to be positive, I really was. But you have to admit, it does seem like the Wall spends a lot of time thinking about the end of the world. I mean, it’s right there in the text, don’t blame me. I look at scenes like this and I can’t help but think that one day the ‘other’ will moon will kiss the sun too and crack and the ice dragons will return, what can I say. Even worse, the very next paragraph mentions the red comet! It’s almost as if the sub-narrative is saying ‘look, the Wall is like the end of the world’ and ‘oh by the way did you notice the enormous comet the color of blood and fire, I wonder what could help the Wall end the world, I really have no idea.’

Now, I’m obviously having a lot of fun here with the end of the world stuff, but we actually do need to talk about the Wall itself, which in this scene is described as looking like pale stone, like snow, or like frozen rivers. Going in order, pale grey, pitted stone is a very lunar-sounding description, and it looks this way “when a cloud passed before the sun,” implying either a solar eclipse, or perhaps just clouds darkening the sun such as after a moon meteor impact. As for snow, well, snow is… snow. That’s kind of the crux of what all this is about – Jon Snow, and lots of snow falling from the sky, day after day, for years. Describing the Wall as looking like frozen rivers is as good as calling it a white knife, especially since we already know the Wall has sword and snake symbolism. We’ll see this symbolism again in a minute.

The last part of the quote I want to draw your attention is Jon thinking that the Wall is like a living thing, with changing moods. In ADWD, Jon reflects on this idea again, thinking:

The Wall has more moods than Mad King Aerys, they’d say, or sometimes, the Wall has more moods than a woman.” 

The latter comparison names the Wall a moody, icy woman, and that’s got our attention, as it certainly makes the Wall more moon-like. I don’t know about the moody part – I don’t really make a habit of calling women “moody,” myself – but of course thinking of the Wall as an icy woman simply reminds us of the Night’s Queen, with her cold, moon-pale flesh. She’s the only icy woman we know of, after all, and she just so happens to be compared to the moon! The very concept of an ice moon pretty much starts with Night’s Queen, so it makes sense to compare the Wall to her.

The first comparison, to Mad King Aerys, effectively names the Wall an icy version of a dragon, which… means ‘ice dragon.’ Comparing the Wall to Mad Aerys also kind of implies the Wall as an unstable and explosive ice dragon; the Mad King tried to blow up King’s Landing after all! Heck, it could be some of Aery’s overripe fruits which doom the Sept of Baelor, another ice moon location.

As you might recall, the Wall has been more directly associated with an ice dragon in several occasions, of course, and it’s certainly a major part of the overall Wall symbolism. We’ve already covered some of this in the Moons of Ice and Fire series, but think about the Wall’s ice dragon symbolism in the context of ice moon disaster potential. The Wall is a big, stationary thing, and not an obvious comp for an ice dragon, which flies and presumably destroys things on occasion. The idea that the Wall can be like an ice dragon makes a lot more sense when you think of the Wall as being analogous to the ice moon, which is the mother of ice dragon meteors. Indeed, the four quotes which compare the Wall to an ice dragon seem to tell the familiar story.

It’s also an ice dragon in the sense that it eats Jon, as the ice moon eats the black fire moon meteor.

Ice Dragon Food

There are a couple of time that Bran and Jon use the prominent blue star in the Ice Dragon constellation to find the way to the Wall, but it’s really the four quotes that make direct comparisons that are instructive – so let’s have Quinn read them to us! The first comes in a Jon chapter of ASOS as Jon and a few members of the Watch survey the damage inside the ice tunnel after the battle at Castle Black:

Jon nodded weakly. The door swung open. Pyp led them in, followed by Clydas and the lantern. It was all Jon could do to keep up with Maester Aemon. The ice pressed close around them, and he could feel the cold seeping into his bones, the weight of the Wall above his head. It felt like walking down the gullet of an ice dragon. The tunnel took a twist, and then another. Pyp unlocked a second iron gate. They walked farther, turned again, and saw light ahead, faint and pale through the ice. That’s bad, Jon knew at once. That’s very bad.

Then Pyp said, “There’s blood on the floor.”

So here is Jon’s death being clearly foreshadowed as he walks into the Wall and into the gullet of an ice dragon. The Wall seems to want to eat Jon! Symbolically, we can see this as the ice moon swallowing the black meteor man, Jon, with a huge cold mouth. The line about the cold seeping into his bones seems like an obvious reference to Bran’s visions of Jon, when he looked north and “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.” It also reminds us of Ned in the rain right before his fight with Jaime, where it says that “Ned was soaked through to the bone, and his soul had grown cold.” Then, just to reinforce the death imagery, they see blood on the floor, and Jon has a strong sense of foreboding.

Around the bend is Mag the mighty and Donal Noye and a few other dead Night’s Watchmen, which would seem to symbolize that struggle or battle inside the weirwoodnet that I have been picking up clues about. Setting that aside for another day, we can at least observe that Donal Noye is a valiant Night’s Watchmen who died and whose body is now inside the Wall – that’s probably the way Jon is headed too if his body is stored in the ice cell for a time. Donal’s name also contains the word “dawn,” so there is that. Don’t forget there is a Jonnel One-Eye Stark, which sort of combines Jon’s and Donal’s name with the Odin one-eye symbolism, which of course Jon already has. Donal Noye has one-arm, which is like his own version of the Odin symbolism mixed with symbolism of the moon explosion being like a hand burning or hand chopping… which Jon in turn echoes with his burned hand. Jon also lives in Donal Noye’s chambers after becoming Lord Commander, so, there’s a lot in common there, and all of that makes it easier to see Donal Noye’s body here as being another layer of death foreshadowing for Jon.

Check out the lines that come a couple of paragraphs later, which seem to depict Jon’s rebirth:

He needed sun then. It was too cold and dark inside the tunnel, and the stench of blood and death was suffocating. Jon gave the lantern back to Clydas, squeezed around the bodies and through the twisted bars, and walked toward the daylight to see what lay beyond the splintered door.

The huge carcass of a dead mammoth partially blocked the way. One of the beast’s tusks snagged his cloak and tore it as he edged past. Three more giants lay outside, half buried beneath stone and slush and hardened pitch. He could see where the fire had melted the Wall, where great sheets of ice had come sloughing off in the heat to shatter on the blackened ground. He looked up at where they’d come from. When you stand here it seems immense, as if it were about to crush you.

Oh boy, it’s yet more ice moon disaster symbolism – it’s about to crush us! Think about Jon emerging from the tunnel here as Jon being reborn from the ice, like the “dragon” hatching at Winterfell when it was burned; Jon walks out of the tunnel and sees where fire has melted the Wall and great sheets of ice have cracked off, almost as if his hatching had done that damage. It’s very similar to Bran and company coming out of the crypts and noticing that one side of the First Keep had collapsed in the fire. The resurrection language here is exceptional, with Jon “squeezing around the bodies and through the twisted bars,” depicting Jon as both escaping the grave and escaping a prison.. and escaping the belly of the ice dragon, of course. The splintered wooden door Jon walks through seems evocative of all the weirwood door symbolism, probably intended as a complement to the idea of Jon and his archetype being reborn from the weirwoodnet in some sense. In particular, the splintered wooden door would seem to imply Jon breaking out of the weirwoodnet, which is what Azor Ahai probably did, or still wants to do if he’s stuck in there.

Just to make the point clear, all this obvious death and resurrection-from-the-ice symbolism for Jon here comes alongside the language about the ice dragon-like Wall seeming as if it were about to crush you. Again I say this is a clue that Jon’s resurrection will coincide with the impending moon disaster, one which will probably topple the Wall as well. We’ll come back to this idea in the final section when we discuss Jon’s snow moon dream, so remember this last scene which seems so suggestive of Jon hatching from the Wall.

In ADWD, Jon busts out the ice dragon talk when he’s in that tunnel again: 

The road beneath the Wall was as dark and cold as the belly of an ice dragon and as twisty as a serpent. Dolorous Edd led them through with a torch in hand. Mully had the keys for the three gates, where bars of black iron as thick as a man’s arm closed off the passage.

As with the previous ice dragon quote, we once again see the comparison between being inside the Wall and being inside an ice dragon. It doesn’t get any more dragon-locked-in-ice than this; I mean we’ve got dragons and locks and ice, and Jon, all right here! I really hope people don’t play drinking games with the key phrases in my podcasts by the way, I definitely don’t encourage that. Moon meteor moon meteor moon meteor.

Kidding aside, you’ll also notice the black iron bars that are compared to a man’s arm are also locked in the ice… again implying the idea of people (or at least body parts) locked in the ice. More specifically, black iron arms remind of the black hands of wights like Coldhands, whose hands were “black and hard as iron, and cold as iron too” (shoutout to the Sacred Order of the Black Hand!) Finally, the ice tunnel being “twisty as a serpent” gives me an excuse to remind you that the underground tunnels beneath Castle Black which also run under the Wall are called “worm ways,” as if they have been made by fire wyrms. I really think it’s clear that Martin is showing us the idea of dragons and snakes and firewyrms under the ice of the Wall pretty strongly, just as we saw at Winterfell.

In fact, there’s even a similar “dragon’s egg beneath the Wall” rumor to the one at Winterfell, which comes to us in an idle musing from Sam:

There were dragons here two hundred years ago, Sam found himself thinking, as he watched the cage making a slow descent. They would just have flown to the top of the Wall. Queen Alysanne had visited Castle Black on her dragon, and Jaehaerys, her king, had come after her on his own. Could Silverwing have left an egg behind? Or had Stannis found one egg on Dragonstone? Even if he has an egg, how can he hope to quicken it? Baelor the Blessed had prayed over his eggs, and other Targaryens had sought to hatch theirs with sorcery. All they got for it was farce and tragedy.

So, there’s both the implication of a dragon’s egg somewhere here at the Wall and of someone hatching a dragon here at the Wall – Stannis, a dark Azor Ahai figure. Then there’s mention of Baelor the Blessed, whom you’ll recall has covert Night’s King symbolism by way of his Bael-related name, the symbolism of his wives and family, and his habit of locking ice moon maidens in towers.

Good Queen Alysanne has really good ice queen symbolism, by the way. Her name contains the names of other ice moon maidens such as Alyssa of Vale legend, Lysa Tully, Lyanna Stark, Alayne Stone, Alannys Harlaw (Theon’s mother), and probably one or two others that I forgot. Alysanne famously had a hand in closing the Nightfort, and even funded the building of a smaller, more manageable castle called “Deep Lake.” The Castle known as Snowgate was renamed Queensgate in her honor, implying her as a snow queen I’d say. According to an SSM (“So Spake Martin”) Alysanne’s appearance fits the bill, as he said that she had clear blue eyes and high cheekbones, and that in old age her hair turned white as snow. Her dragon, Silverwing, makes a pretty good ice dragon symbol, especially since she took it to the Wall. During the Dance of the Dragons, which happened after the death of Alysanne, Silverwing was claimed by Ulf the White, adding to the white dragon / ice dragon symbolism of Silverwing… who might have laid an egg here.

You’ll probably recall the next ice dragon quote, which is from Alys Karstark’s wedding, because we just quoted it a few episodes ago. That’s the scene at the Wall where Alys was called “Winter’s Lady” and played the role of a Night’s Queen figure, with the young magnar of Thenn as the Night’s King figure. The relevant ice dragon quote was: “the wind was blowing from the east along the Wall, cold as the breath of the ice dragon in the tales Old Nan used to tell,” and it made Melisandre’s fire shiver and huddle in its ditch. A Night’s Queen wedding represents her taking the seed and soul of Night’s King and turning his hot dragon fire cold, which is exactly what’s going on in this scene symbolically, and so it makes perfect sense to see the Wall breathing like an ice dragon here and making the fire shiver… it’s just like the Wall eating Jon and swallowing him down into its ice dragon gullet a moment ago.

Our last ice dragon / Wall quote shows us more about the dragon reawakening from the ice, and about things descending from the ice moon:

A sudden gust of wind set Edd’s cloak to flapping noisily. “Best go down, m’lord. This wind’s like to push us off the Wall, and I never did learn the knack of flying.”

They rode the winch lift back to the ground. The wind was gusting, cold as the breath of the ice dragon in the tales Old Nan had told when Jon was a boy. The heavy cage was swaying. From time to time it scraped against the Wall, starting small crystalline showers of ice that sparkled in the sunlight as they fell, like shards of broken glass.

Glass, Jon mused, might be of use here. Castle Black needs its own glass gardens, like the ones at Winterfell. We could grow vegetables even in the deep of winter.

After discussing the efficacy of flying down from the moon-wall like dragons, they instead ride down in the winch cage. It’s blowing about in the cold breath of the ice dragon wind, and when it collides with the Wall, it’s triggering “crystalline showers of ice” which are like “shards of broken glass” as they drink in the light of the sun. Showers of sparkling ice glass, being chipped off of an ice moon symbol like the Wall, in close proximity to Jon and ice dragon talk, well… you can’t expect me not to say “ice moon meteor shower” or to not think of Dawn, the pale as milkglass sword which I think was the original Ice. A storm of ice swords, as pale as milkglass.

Then, immediately after, Jon has ‘a dream of spring,’ if you will, as he imagines building a glass gardens enclosure similar to that of Winterfell so they can grow green things in the deep of winter, like a true Jack in the Green nourishing a bit of green life to flower again in the spring. I didn’t mention the glass gardens when we spoke of Winterfell, but the same Jack in the Green symbolism applies there as well. In the winter, the gardens are an oasis of green amidst the snowy north, a compliment to Winterfell’s hot springs which make it an oasis of warmth. I should also mention the real world king of winter tradition here – the little wicker man king of winter is supposed to be burned to help usher in the spring, and the same may be true of resurrected Jon, who is probably not long for this world. He may not live to see the spring, but he does dream of it and set it in motion.

So there you have it – as we’ve seen in these four quotes, the Wall’s ice dragon symbolism serves to equate it both with the idea of an ice moon that contains a dragon and the idea of meteor dragons coming from the ice moon. The icy sword symbolism that popped up a couple of times reinforces the suggestion of icy meteor dragons, and anything about icy swords or dragons coming from the moon ultimately implies some kind of ice moon meteor event.

In fact, our next batch of quotes about the Wall will lead us in the direction of icy swords, so let’s go there. We might get wet, though.


Here’s another great description of the Wall from that same Jon chapter of AGOT that we started with, one which dishes out some great ice sword and ice moon apocalypse symbolism. It’s also just a really nice example of the musicality of the cadence of Martin’s writing, which is one of the things I just love about ASOIAF:

By the time Jon left the armory, it was almost midday. The sun had broken through the clouds. He turned his back on it and lifted his eyes to the Wall, blazing blue and crystalline in the sunlight. Even after all these weeks, the sight of it still gave him the shivers. Centuries of windblown dirt had pocked and scoured it, covering it like a film, and it often seemed a pale grey, the color of an overcast sky … but when the sun caught it fair on a bright day, it shone, alive with light, a colossal blue- white cliff that filled up half the sky.

Filling up the sky is actually a bad thing for an ice moon symbol – that’s very like when Jon was battling the moon-faced Othor and it said “Its face was against his own, filling the world.” Here it’s “a colossal blue- white cliff that filled up half the sky,” and it’s shining “alive with light,” like Dawn. This makes my point about the ice sword symbolism of the Wall being used to imply the ice moon disaster – the Wall is compared to Dawn in the line in which it fills up half the sky, so imagine a white, icy sword filling up the sky… well you get the idea. Time to head down to the underground meteor shower shelt– oh wait, you don’t have a meteor shower shelter? Sounds like a real problem…

Returning to the quote, the icy brightness and burning ice motifs which we cataloged extensively in the Moons of Ice and Fire series are on central display here, with the Wall “blazing” blue in the sunlight. ‘Blazing’ is a word used for fire, yet it gives Jon the shivers, because a cold blue blaze is strongly evocative of the Others and their cold-burning blue star eyes. This is a cold blaze we are talking about here, and coming next to the ice Wall being “alive with light” like Dawn, it’s really suggestive. Not only does it suggest that Dawn, the alive with light sword, is the original Ice, it also seems to suggest that Dawn can indeed catch on fire and truly “blaze blue,” like the Wall does here, or like the swords in Jaime’s weirwood stump dream which burn with “silvery-blue flame.”

There’s another healthy dose of icy brightness in a quote from ACOK where Jon sees the Wall and it says “the sun was high in the sky, and the upper third of the Wall was a crystalline blue from below, reflecting so brilliantly that it hurt the eyes to look on it.” It’s blindingly bright, like the sun or like a flaming sword, and any time the Wall is described as crystalline, we should also think of the ice crystal swords of the Others.

There’s another possible likeness between the Wall and and ice swords: you’ll recall in one of the first quotes I gave you about the Wall, Jon and Tyrion were observing it from afar, and the Wall was described as “a pale blue line across the northern horizon.” Well, a moment ago, we read a quote about the Wall where it is compared to a frozen river and pitted grey stone and then called the end of the world, and I mentioned that the red comet comes up in the next paragraph as a suggestion of just how the Wall might help to end the world. Bearing in mind the ‘pale blue line’ description of the Wall, here is that reference to the red comet:

The morning sky was streaked by thin grey clouds, but the pale red line was there behind them. The black brothers had dubbed the wanderer Mormont’s Torch, saying (only half in jest) that the gods must have sent it to light the old man’s way through the haunted forest. “The comet’s so bright you can see it by day now,” Sam said, shading his eyes with a fistful of books.

Pale red line, meet pale blue line. Remember that the comet is really an ice and fire duality symbol, because it’s a flying piece of icy stone that looks to be on fire. You could look at it as burning ice, in other words, and thus it makes sense to compare it to the Wall, which is like an icy snake sword that blazes bright, alive with light. Meteors that burn up in the atmosphere usually appear bluish in color, so perhaps we’ll have lots of ‘pale blue lines’ in the sky.

Now let’s get to the good stuff. In this section and the next, we’re going to parsing just about every part of a certain Jon chapter in ADWD – Jon I, actually, which is the one that begins with Jon’s most elaborate wolf dream and includes him arguing with Stannis about manning the forts of the Wall and Melisandre’s infamous warning to Jon, which echoes in his head throughout the book leading up to his assassination:

You would do well to keep your wolf close beside you. Ice, I see, and daggers in the dark. Blood frozen red and hard, and naked steel. It was very cold.”

We’re going to start with Jon arguing with Stannis over the map, which begins a great series of parallel quotes which both compare the Wall to Lightbringer and imply a Lightbringer meteor striking the Wall. So Jon and Stannis are arguing over how to man the forts on the Wall as they stand over a map of Westeros, and Stannis draws his fake, cold Lightbringer to threaten and intimidate Jon, basically, and it says

The king laid his bright blade down on the map, along the Wall, its steel shimmering like sunlight on water.

There are two ways to interpret this, and they are not mutually exclusive. Laying the Lightbringer sword down on top of the Wall might simply show us that the Wall and the Lightbringer comet are parallel symbols, and in this sense we might see the entire Wall as the “sword in the darkness” which the Night’s Watch wield. The idea of Stannis’s “bright blade.. shimmering like sunlight,” but nevertheless giving off no heat, is a similar description to the Wall, bright and shimmering in the sunlight but obviously giving off no heat. Icy brightness, in other words. This would also be a match for Dan-as-the-original-Ice, which would in that case be a cold and bright sword… and of course I see Stannis wielding a cold bright sword as potential evidence for Night’s King wielding Dawn-the-original-Ice.

Now the other way we could interpret Stannis laying his Lightbringer down along the Wall is more apocalyptic: we could also see it as a depiction of a Lightbringer meteor smashing into the Wall. Stannis is a Night’s King / dark solar king figure, so he’s the right sort of guy to slam a Lightbringer into an ice moon symbol. This seems a great callout to Sutr, with Stannis as Sutr. The map-sized Westeros below them creates the image of Stannis as a giant too, like Sutr, with a sword that can span the continent. In ASOIAF, of course, the only swords that big are the meteor kind.

Stannis also “drummed his fingers on the map” in this conversation, those words exactly, and he does it again later in ADWD when he and Jon are again talking over the map. When a dark Azor Ahai uses his hand to drum the land… well you get the idea. Boom DOOM. Boom DOOM. Together with the sword placed over the Wall on the map, it’s pretty ominous.

It reminds me a lot of the scene where Stannis does actually draw Lightbringer at the Wall in front of the defeated wildlings:

Stannis Baratheon drew Lightbringer.

The sword glowed red and yellow and orange, alive with light. Jon had seen the show before … but not like this, never before like this. Lightbringer was the sun made steel. When Stannis raised the blade above his head, men had to turn their heads or cover their eyes. Horses shied, and one threw his rider. The blaze in the fire pit seemed to shrink before this storm of light, like a small dog cowering before a larger one. The Wall itself turned red and pink and orange, as waves of color danced across the ice. Is this the power of king’s blood?

The Wall is lighting up just like Stannis’s sword – which, again is a Lightbringer that produces no heat, as its storm of light is entirely Melisandre’s glamour and not the result of wildfire or any other sort of fire in this scene. The ‘alive with light’ descriptor again reminds us of Dawn, another luminescent sword that gives off no heat and which is obviously the original Ice of House Stark.

As with the map scene, it’s hard to say whether this scene is simply Stannis showing us that the Wall is like a cold, alive with light sword, or that a real meteor sword is destined to light the Wall up with actual fire. Either way, it’s very similar to Stannis laying his Lightbringer on the map across the Wall, its steel shimmering like sunlight on water.

Sunlight on water... kind of sounds like a flood is coming from the Wall when the sword strikes it, perhaps.  When Stannis drew his sword at the Wall, it sayswaves of color danced across the ice,” so again we have the suggestion of melting water coming from the Wall when the shining sword is nearby. In that same scene where Stannis lays Lightbringer across the Wall on the map, it also says

The map lay between them like a battleground, drenched by the colors of the glowing sword.

Drenched, you say? Very interesting, very interesting. Sounds like we’ll need some boats or something. There’s also that second scene with Jon and Stannis talking over this map, and in that scene we get these lines:

Jon moved the map. Candles had been placed at its corners to keep it from rolling up. A finger of warm wax was puddling out across the Bay of Seals, slow as a glacier.

The Wall certainly looks like the edge of a glacier – one with a very sharp edge, granted – and here we see a glacier oozing out of the north like an icy tide. Again… it’s ominous, and speaks of a cold flood coming from the Wall. What is really cool is that when Jon sees an actual glacier, he mistakes it for the Wall for a moment. This is Jon’s vision through the eyes of Ghost during his journey into the Frostfangs with Qhorin Halfhand:

A vast blue-white wall plugged one end of the vale, squeezing between the mountains as if it had shouldered them aside, and for a moment he thought he had dreamed himself back to Castle Black. Then he realized he was looking at a river of ice several thousand feet high. Under that glittering cold cliff was a great lake, its deep cobalt waters reflecting the snowcapped peaks that ringed it.

Not only is this glacier compared to the Wall, it’s also called a frozen river of ice, just as the Wall is. And although the lake beneath the glacier is really at the foot of the glacier, the wording makes it sound like the lake is under the glacier, giving us the familiar “frozen pond” motif. It was first defined by the Others first appearance in the AGOT prologue, where we saw that the ice armor of the Others is reflective like a mirror, and the reflected images of their surroundings “ran like moonlight on water with every step it took.” But of course that armor is made out of ice, so really we are talking abut a frozen pond. Also in the prologue, their speech is described as being “like the cracking of ice on a winter lake.”

Now although the Wall doesn’t have water inside like a trapped lake, it is of course a big piece of frozen water, and if it is hit by a meteor or comet, most it would actually vaporize or melt and we would indeed get a flood. The cracking of the Ice of the Wall will also lead to an invasion of Others, so we can actually see that in a way, the cracking ice of a winter lake voices of the Others, combined with their frozen pond symbolism, foreshadows the cracking of the Wall, which is like a frozen river.

The Milkwater River – something of a symbolic twin to the sometimes-frozen White Knife River – also shows us the frozen pond symbolism at times, or at least a tributary stream of it does:

At the bottom of the slope they came upon a little stream flowing down from the foothills to join the Milkwater. It looked all stones and glass, though they could hear the sound of water running beneath the frozen surface. Rattleshirt led them across, shattering the thin crust of ice.

Stones and glass and ice are an interesting combination; Dawn is pale as milkglass, and made from a pale stone… and was once the original Ice, as we all known for an absolute fact. chuckles Compare that to the phraseology here – a milk-water river of stone and glass and ice versus an icy white sword made from a pale stone that looks like milkglass. Again, it’s very similar to the White Knife freezing hard when Brandon Ice-Eyes Stark comes to town – frozen rivers keep reminding us of Dawn. The Wall, of course, is called a frozen river and is described with the same language as Dawn.

And now I will unveil a quote about the Milkwater River that I have been saving for something like two years (yeah, I have been storing up notes in preparation to write about the Others for that long):

The world was grey darkness, smelling of pine and moss and cold. Pale mists rose from the black earth as the riders threaded their way through the scatter of stones and scraggly trees, down toward the welcoming fires strewn like jewels across the floor of the river valley below. There were more fires than Jon Snow could count, hundreds of fires, thousands, a second river of flickery lights along the banks of the icy white Milkwater. The fingers of his sword hand opened and closed.

The recurring line about Jon’s sword hand is the clue that tips us off as to what these two parallel rivers symbolize: swords. The icy-white milkwater is a great analog for Dawn and the Wall, as we just saw, and alongside it is a second river – thousands of flickery lights that look like fiery jewels against the surrounding darkness. That’s our dark lightbringer – darkness punctuated by flame. It’s laid out next to its opposite, the icy white Milkwater. They are ready to fight!

Just as we’ve seen the White Knife and Milkwater symbolize Dawn a few times now, we’ve seen on man occasions that the Blackwater Rush symbolize the burning black sword I theorize Azor Ahai to have forged from a black moon meteor, the one from the Bloodstone Emperor myth. As I’ve already pointed out, the name “Blackwater” seems to allude to the “waves of blood and night” which are seen in the folds of Oathkeeper and Widows Wail. The Blackwater Rush flows from the Gods Eye, which I believe symbolizes the moon / sun eclipse conjunction that seems to have happened when the Long Night explosion occurred, and thus it makes sense to see the Blackwater Rush as representing those waves of darkness and night that emanate from the moon explosion. Then when Rhaegar and Lyanna absconded to conceive Jon, the Blackwater Rush froze over, giving us the black ice symbol that comes from Ned’s black sword named Ice, which is now Oathkeeper and Widow’s Wail with the waves of night. Finally, we know that Tyrion sets the Blackwater Rush on fire at the Battle of the Blackwater, whereupon it becomes the mouth of hell. Ergo, the Blackwater seems an embodiment of the dark Lightbringer burning black sword symbolism, a perfect opposite to the Milkwater and White Knife rivers.

To briefly sum up this Icebringer section, I’ll simply that I believe the obvious reason to bring rivers of various kinds into the swords and meteors line of symbolism is to describe the water-based effects of the meteor attacks, old and new. The first one brought figurative waves of darkness and then literal tidal waves in that darkness, so “waves of night” is a sensible thing to include in Lightbringer’s symbolism – plus all the delightful moon blood wordplay. The meteor attack to come, involving the ice moon, seems destined to break the Wall and melt a whole lot of ice, causing rivers of ice to flow. The Wall is like an ice sword, so when a moon meteor comes streaking down to collide with it, it will be like the clashing of two swords, and with the breaking of those swords will come a bit of a splash.

The other way frozen rivers and lakes play into this is more metaphorical, and has to do with the idea of plunging through an icy lake to represent a certain kind of death transformation, as well as the icy-lake-cracking voices of the Others.

A Shock of Cold

Next up, we have an absolute gem of a scene which showcases a ton of frozen stream symbolism, icy moon symbolism, dawn symbolism, ice sword symbolism, and Jon death and rebirth symbolism. Oh and there’s something about the Wall falling, naturally. That would be the scene where Jon and Qhorin ride through a waterfall and into a mountain cave to try to evade the Wildlings and Orell’s eagle. Before they get to the cave, they light one of those ground zero bonfires we looking at in “In a Grove of Ash:”

Jon went to cut more branches, snapping each one in two before tossing it into the flames. The tree had been dead a long time, but it seemed to live again in the fire, as fiery dancers woke within each stick of wood to whirl and spin in their glowing gowns of yellow, red, and orange.

These are the same fiery dancers cloaked in red, orange, and yellow that we see at Dany’s alchemical wedding when she wakes the dragons – because this fire represent the sun / comet / fire moon collision, as Dany’s dragon hatching scene does. The tree living again in the flames is a reference to Azor Ahai being reborn inside the weirwoodnet, which seems to happen when Nissa Nissa is killed and the moon cracked. Think of the Storm God’s meteor thunderbolt setting the tree ablaze with the fire of the gods, which the deathly Grey King then possesses – it’s the same sequence.

So Jon and Qhorin, after lighting this symbolic fire moon bonfire, immediately ride away into the cold night, like black meteor swords flying through the darkness towards the ice moon.:

Jon pulled on his gloves again and raised his hood. Even the horses seemed reluctant to leave the fire. The sun was long gone, and only the cold silver shine of the half-moon remained to light their way over the treacherous ground that lay behind them. He did not know what Qhorin had in mind, but perhaps it was a chance. He hoped so. I do not want to play the oathbreaker, even for good reason.

Jon doesn’t want to be an oathbreaker – he wants to be an Oathkeeper! Oathkeeper is his father’s sword, after all, and black ice is Jon’s symbol. Jon and Qhorin, as Night’s Watch brothers, already have black sword symbolism, so calling Jon “not-an-oathbreaker” is a sly way to reinforce the black sword motif and make us think of Ned’s sword, now Oathkeeper. I’m sure you noticed the “cold silver shine of the half moon” lighting their way, because Jon and Qhorin are about to symbolically enter the ice moon.

On their way, they have lovely scenery as they pass through a “narrow defile where an icy little stream emerged from between two mountains.” Qhorin notes that “The water’s icing up” as “They followed the moonlit ribbon of stream back toward its source.” We see that “Icicles bearded its stony banks, but Jon could still hear the sound of rushing water beneath the thin hard crust.” That’s nice because it’s combining the snowbeard symbolism with that of the frozen stream and the cold moonlight. Then we get to the waterfall, where we see the entry wound of the meteor, the scratch across the face of the ice moon:

A great jumble of fallen rock blocked their way partway up, where a section of the cliff face had fallen, but the surefooted little garrons were able to pick their way through. Beyond, the walls pinched in sharply, and the stream led them to the foot of a tall twisting waterfall. The air was full of mist, like the breath of some vast cold beast. The tumbling waters shone silver in the moonlight. Jon looked about in dismay. There is no way out. He and Qhorin might be able to climb the cliffs, but not with the horses. He did not think they would last long afoot.

“Quickly now,” the Halfhand commanded. The big man on the small horse rode over the ice-slick stones, right into the curtain of water, and vanished. When he did not reappear, Jon put his heels into his horse and went after. His garron did his best to shy away. The falling water slapped at them with frozen fists, and the shock of the cold seemed to stop Jon’s breath.

Then he was through; drenched  and shivering, but through.

Once again, Jon is ice dragon food, as he ignores the breath of the vast cold beats and enters the curtain of moonlit icy water anyway… which seems to stop Jon’s breath. This is all going according to plan: when Jon actually dies in ADWD, he never felt the fourth knife, only the cold, and when Varamyr dies, it’s like plunging through the surface of an icy lake. Both are depictions of an Azor Ahai black meteor person symbolically entering the ice  moon and becoming locked in the ice, which is a death transformation. In fact, look at the quote from Varamyr’s death and compare it this waterfall scene:

True death came suddenly; he felt a shock of cold, as if he had been plunged into the icy waters of a frozen lake. Then he found himself rushing over moonlit snows with his packmates close behind him.

It’s so similar – “the shock of the cold seemed to stop Jon’s breath” as he walks through a moonlit waterfall, compared to “he felt a shock of cold, as if he had been plunged into the icy waters of a frozen lake” followed by moonlit snows. Varamyr then lands in his wolf, one-eye, just as Jon’s spirit is presumably flying to his wolf after his stabbing. In other words, this scene at the waterfall foreshadows Jon’s death in the frozen lake language of Varmyrs’s death. Better yet, the “breath of a cold vast beast” language parallels the scenes we looked at earlier where Jon is being swallowed by the ice dragon-like Wall, which is also like a frozen river or stream. I hope your beginning to see how this works – the ice moon is like a frozen body of water, and anything going into a frozen lake or river is probably going into the ice moon, symbolically.

Again I will point to the Others having voices like the cracking of ice on a winter lake and suggest that it is alluding to the ice moon as a frozen lake, and the Others as the cold meteor stars that pour forth from the crack across the face of the ice moon.

So, I think we’ve established that Jon is symbolically dying and entering the ice moon here by walking through the moonlit waterfall, so let’s see what Jon finds inside the ice moon cave!

First, Qhorin talks about how he “heard a brother tell how he followed a shadowcat through these falls,” which compares the Night’s Watch brothers to shadowcats, as Jon did when he and Qhorin crept along the ledge before attacking Ygritte’s company at the campfire in the Frostfangs. Shadowcats fit into the Lion of Night / black dragon archetype, as exemplified by princess Rhaenys’ black cat named Balerion, which is why the black shadows of the Night’s Watch are compared to them. In astronomy terms, the point is that black meteor symbols are what enter the ice moon. Picking up the quote, we have Qhorin speaking:

“There is a way through the heart of the mountain. Come dawn, if they have not found us, we will press on. The first watch is mine, brother.” Qhorin seated himself on the sand, his back to a wall, no more than a vague black shadow in the gloom of the cave. Over the rush of falling waters, Jon heard a soft sound of steel on leather that could only mean that the Halfhand had drawn his sword.

He took off his wet cloak, but it was too cold and damp here to strip down any further. Ghost stretched out beside him and licked his glove before curling up to sleep. Jon was grateful for his warmth. He wondered if the fire was still burning outside, or if it had gone out by now. If the Wall should ever fall, all the fires will go out. The moon shone through the curtain of falling water to lay a shimmering pale stripe across the sand, but after a time that too faded and went dark.

Sleep came at last, and with it nightmares. He dreamed of burning castles and dead men rising unquiet from their graves. It was still dark when Qhorin woke him. While the Halfhand slept, Jon sat with his back to the cave wall, listening to the water and waiting for the dawn.

Hopefully you caught some of what was going on there – Qhorin the black shadow draws his sword, symbolizing the black meteor sword’s penetration of the ice moon. This is Rhaegar’s black lance penetrating the blue rose crown, same idea. Then we get the requisite obvious foreshadowing of the Wall falling – and this is really the last quote I have stored away about that, I promise, I’m all out now – which is followed immediately by a strong ice moon meteor symbol as “the moon shone through the curtain of falling water to lay a shimmering pale stripe across the sand.”  Look, it’s even landing in the sand, like Stannis’s Lightbringer stuck in the sand at Dragonstone. The word dawn is conspicuously mentioned in the next paragraph, we do not fail to note.

We also can’t fail to notice that Jon dreams of burning castles and dead men rising from their graves – this couldn’t be any stronger of a call-out to Winterfell’s burning, a scene which heavily foreshadows Jon’s resurrection as a dragon waking from the crypts. The burning castle is the ice moon, but only when Jon the sleeping dragon wakes from it. This will happen when the Wall falls, it seems safe to say.

The idea of Jon and Qhorin as black shadows inside the ice moon which is depicted here has parallels to a couple of scenes at the Wall with Melisandre, where certain prominent figures conspired to cast shadows on the Wall. We shan’t quote them all again, but here is the most relevant example, from ADWD with Melisandre speaking to Jon Snow:

“Every man who walks the earth casts a shadow on the world. Some are thin and weak, others long and dark. You should look behind you, Lord Snow. The moon has kissed you and etched your shadow upon the ice twenty feet tall.”

Jon glanced over his shoulder. The shadow was there, just as she had said, etched in moonlight against the Wall. 

Placing Jon’s shadow inside the ice of the Wall is clear ‘dead Jon inside the ice cells’ foreshadowing, but of course there’s great mythical astronomy here too. Think of Jon once again as the black fire moon meteor, hurling towards the ice moon, just like when Qhorin and Jon rode away from the ground zero bonfire to enter the waterfall ice moon symbol. As he kisses the moon (the fire moon, it would be), his shadow is etched into the ice of the Wall, which itself represents the ice moon. It’s just like Jon being swallowed into the ice dragon’s gullet when he walks through the Wall, but with the “moon kissing” language of the Quarantine prophecy added in. We might also think of Night’s King here, kissing Night’s Queen and giving his seed and soul to be locked in her ice.

The first place ‘dead Jon in the ice cells’ foreshadowing may have been spotted is in the scene where Jon goes to visit Cregan Karstark, who Jon has imprisoned in the ice cells. Indeed, this is the scene where Wick Whittlestick, Jon’s eventual killer, opens the door to the ice cell so Jon can “slip inside,” which is followed by the infamous line “Jon Snow could see his own reflection dimly inside the icy walls.” It’s more than just Jon’s body being stored in an ice cell, it’s a depiction of Jon as the dragon locked in ice, a sleeping dragon inside a cold moon.

Cregan himself foreshadows Jon’s death and rebirth from the ice. The Karstarks are an offshoot branch of House Stark, which Cregan brings up in this conversation, and Cregan is the name of one the mightiest and most famous Starks in recent history – Cregan Stark, who signed the Pact of Ice and Fire with Prince Jacaerys Velaryon during the Dance of the Dragons and whom Aemon the Dragonknight called the finest swordsmen he had ever faced. Cregan Karstark, on the other hand, is not so grand, but he does have noteworthy symbolism: he’s freezing, and he’s “howling like a wolf.” Given that Jon is seeing himself in the ice cells in this scene, I think we can look at Cregan and simply see a Stark blooded person turning into a wolf and undergoing ice transformation, which of course would simply be more foreshadowing for Jon’s body being in the cells while his spirit is in his wolf for a time before he is reborn.

After Jon “slips inside” Cregan’s ice cell, there’s more symbolism along these lines:

In one corner of the cell a heap of furs was piled up almost to the height of a man. “Karstark,” said Jon Snow. “Wake up.”

The furs stirred. Some had frozen together, and the frost that covered them glittered when they moved. An arm emerged, then a face—brown hair, tangled and matted and streaked with grey, two fierce eyes, a nose, a mouth, a beard. Ice caked the prisoner’s mustache, clumps of frozen snot. “Snow.” His breath steamed in the air, fogging the ice behind his head. 

It’s like a frozen wolf turning into an angry snowbearded Stark wolfman! The first word he says is snow, which seems a clever clue about Cregan foreshadowing Jon’s own fate. As if to underscore this further, Cregan, who was just howling like a wolf, goes on a tirade and calls Jon “half-a-wolf” and reminds him that “Stark and Karstark are one blood.”

Jon, of course, seems destined to have his second life inside Ghost interrupted so he can “wake up” into his resurrected body, and this brings us to that dream Jon had one time of a moon that screams “snow” at him, then turns into a raven and lands on his chest as he wakes up. In terms of ice-bringers, that’s kind of a hum-dinger.

A Flurry of Corn and One Roast Raven

If I had my druthers, we will see Jon’s resurrection occur with the reappearance of the comet, and / or that comet striking the ice moon. As above, so below, right? After all all, Jon’s spirit will be awaiting resurrection inside his wolf, and the most clear ice moon disaster foreshadowing does come as Jon wakes up from a wolf dream in ADWD. Better yet, this wolf dream is kicking off the chapter we looked at earlier where Stannis lays his Lightbringer down on the map across the Wall, which already seems like killer #IceMoonApocalypse foreshadowing. But y’ain’t seen nothin’ yet! This is the opening of the chapter, although I’m skipping lines to highlight the language that has to do with the Wall and the moon. If you listen, you’ll spot the inspiration for the title of this episode:

The white wolf raced through a black wood, beneath a pale cliff as tall as the sky. The moon ran with him, slipping through a tangle of bare branches overhead, across the starry sky.

“Snow,” the moon murmured. The wolf made no answer. Snow crunched beneath his paws. The wind sighed through the trees.
( . . . )
“Snow,” the moon called down again, cackling. The white wolf padded along the man trail beneath the icy cliff. The taste of blood was on his tongue, and his ears rang to the song of the hundred cousins.
( . . . )
“Snow,” the moon insisted. The white wolf ran from it, racing toward the cave of night where the sun had hidden, his breath frosting in the air. On starless nights the great cliff was as black as stone, a darkness towering high above the wide world, but when the moon came out it shimmered pale and icy as a frozen stream.
( . . . )
“Snow.” An icicle tumbled from a branch. The white wolf turned and bared his teeth. “Snow!” His fur rose bristling, as the woods dissolved around him. “Snow, snow, snow!”
He heard the beat of wings. Through the gloom a raven flew.

It landed on Jon Snow’s chest with a thump and a scrabbling of claws. “SNOW!” it screamed into his face.

SNOW, the moon insisted! No, really, SNOW, it’s coming, I’m telling you! From the moon! Snow, from the moon! Ha. That was just the abbreviated quote, but just consider the main lines I pulled here. The moon says “snow” to Jon five times in the wolf dream, then three times more as the dream fades out, and once again as the moon becomes the raven when Jon wakes up. In other words, Jon is hearing the raven say “snow” while he is in the wolf dream, and in the dream it seems like the moon is saying snow. Then when Jon wakes… the screaming raven lands on Jon’s chest with a thump! It’s like the moon just fell out of the sky… and woke Jon up! All while screaming “snow!”

Like I said, if indeed there is to be a future moon disaster event, I am almost certain that it has to coincide with Jon’s resurrection or be in some way tied to Jon’s resurrection, because symbolically, they are the same thing! To me, the line about the white wolf “racing toward the cave of night where the sun had hidden” reads like temporarily dead solar king Jon’s spirit being in the underworld (the cave of night) for a time, and about Ghost playing a key part in his resurrection – these are things we already know will happen, but their inclusion in the dream serves to tip us off that this is about Jon being dead and inside Ghost, and then resurrected. Notice the sequence on the fourth cry of snow: the moon says ‘snow,’ then an icicle falls from a branch that makes Ghost bare his teeth, then Jon’s consciousness pulls away from Ghost and he wakes to the raven landing on him. Essentially, imagine the icicle as the ‘snow’ falling from the moon – an ice moon meteor – and the raven that lands on Jon’s chest as a continuation of the falling meteor which depicts the landing. And then Jon wakes up! It’s a moon meteor alarm clock, he better not sleep through it.

Think back to that scene where Jon walks into the tunnel through the Wall and it’s like walking into the gullet of the ice dragon. Inside, Jon saw Donal Noye and Mag the mighty locked in a mutual death grip, then walked out the other side to notice the large sheets of ice the cracked off in the fire and think about how just kind of looks like it wants to crush you in general. This scene with Jon waking from the wolfdream sends the same message: Jon being reborn from the ice will probably be linked to whatever moon disaster and Wall-disaster events Martin may have planned.

Speaking of Wall disaster foreshadowing… I’m sure you noticed that the Wall features prominently all through Jon’s wolf dream here. I especially love the line “when the moon came out it shimmered pale and icy as a frozen stream.” The ambiguous wording makes it sound as though the moon is coming out of the sky like a frozen stream… and of course frozen streams make us think of the frozen river sword symbolism we’ve just been talking about, thereby implying the moon coming out of the sky like a frozen sword. On the whole, there are lots of ice moon meteor references here in Jon’s dream: the raven landing on Jon’s chest, the falling icicle, and the idea of a moon falling like a frozen stream.

I’m beating around the bush though, really, in terms of foreshadowing of the destruction of the Wall. Let’s pick up the end of the dream as Jon wakes up:

“Snow, snow, snow!” He heard the beat of wings. Through the gloom a raven flew.

It landed on Jon Snow’s chest with a thump and a scrabbling of claws. “SNOW!” it screamed into his face. “I hear you.” The room was dim, his pallet hard. Grey light leaked through the shutters, promising another bleak cold day. “Is this how you woke Mormont? Get your feathers out of my face.” Jon wriggled an arm out from under his blankets to shoo the raven off. It was a big bird, old and bold and scruffy, utterly without fear. “Snow,” it cried, flapping to his bedpost. “Snow, snow.” Jon filled his fist with a pillow and let fly, but the bird took to the air. The pillow struck the wall and burst, scattering stuffing everywhere just as Dolorous Edd Tollett poked his head through the door. “Beg pardon,” he said, ignoring the flurry of feathers, “shall I fetch m’lord some breakfast?”

“Corn,” cried the raven. “Corn, corn.”

“Roast raven,” Jon suggested. “And half a pint of ale.”

The first thing that should have jumped out at you is the raven saying “Snow, snow” as Jon throws a feather pillow to against a wall which bursts and creates a “flurry” of presumably white feathers. The moon raven promised snow, and here it is! “Jon’s rage was such that he would have smashed it all in an instant, and the world be damned” – and here it is! The symbolism implies a flying object striking the Wall, followed by snow flurries – and indeed, if a flying object hits the real Wall, we will get a snow storm the likes of which we haven’t seen in eight thousand years!

Because the pillow is made of feathers, it really does work well as an extension of the raven which seems to fall from the moon as Jon wakes up from the wolf dream. Thus the pillow hitting the wall of the room really does create the image of a moon meteor striking the Wall. In actuality, a meteor needn’t strike a direct hit on the Wall to cause it to fall; if the impact were simply close enough to cause any kind of earthqu– I mean, close enough to “wake giants in the earth”, it might bring the Wall down. Put it this way – if there is going to be a moon meteor impact in the remaining books, it’s surely going to be the mechanism for the Wall to fall. It’s unlikely we’d have two separate, unrelated catastrophic events of that magnitude coming.

Once again, I will remind you that this is the very same chapter in which Jon and Stannis argue over the map of Westeros and Stannis lays his Lightbringer down across the Wall! To me, there is little question that this chapter, Jon’s first n ADWD, is all about the impending disaster involving the Wall and the ice moon, as well as Jon’s resurrection –  and of course, these events all seem tied to one another.

So, wow, right? A moon “calling down” snow, loads of projectile symbolism, something striking a wall, then “the flurry that promised?” All while Jon wakes from a wolf dream? Are you not entertained, I say? Well, as always, it gets worse.

The final piece of this is that the raven which seems at first to be locked inside the moon and then flies down to land on Jon also, in my estimation, represents Jon’s spirit returning to his body. That’s right – think about it. While Jon is dead and his spirit resides in Ghost, Jon is symbolically locked in ice, which equates to being locked in the ice moon – just as the raven appears to be in the dream. It calls down “snow” to warn us about snow coming from the moon – but it’s not only ‘snow’ as in ice moon meteors coming from the actual moon, but Jon Snow‘s spirit returning to his body from the cold afterlife… just as the raven flies to Jon’s body and cries out his name, waking him from the wolf dream.

There’s even a line a page or two later where Jon looks at the raven, who is watching him shrewdly, and says “Do you take me for your thrall?” Now, the wighted corpses of the army of the dead are described as “thralls” of the Others, so Jon being a thrall to the raven might really be talking about Jon’s resurrected body as a thrall to his spirit. And given that this is Mormont’s raven, and is likely inhabited by Bloodraven from time to time, there’s also the implication of resurrected Jon as a thrall to the weirwoodnet, or perhaps we might say “servant” or “champion.” This is in line with our green zombies theory all the way, since it suggests that the last hero and his twelve dead companions were skinchangers or greenseers whose resurrections involved the weirwoods and their magic.

I think the symbolism so far seems to point to Jon waking from death in fire, at least in some sense, and that may be what’s being depicted by Jon asking for “roast raven” for breakfast. If the raven is his spirit, then his spirit is fiery, and when it returns to his body, it’s like someone breathing the fiery kiss of life such as Thoros breathes into Beric. In a sense, Jon will be the roasted raven when he wakes up – well okay, the roast crow.  He’ll be a match for his dream of the moon-faced wight wearing Ned’s face while burning like straw in a nimbus of flame, and certainly a match for the burning scarecrow brothers from his Azor Ahai dream. Those burning scarecrow brothers are key because they compare so well to Beric, who is a “scarecrow knight” who was resurrected through fire magic and wields a fiery sword, and whom George R. R. Martin called a “fire wight” and a foreshadowing for Jon. A roast raven could be taken as a phoenix symbol too, I think, and it makes sense to think about resurrected Jon as a phoenix, since he’s already implied as a burning scarecrow or dragon. Come to think of it, those burning scarecrow brothers in Jon’s dream “tumbled down, black cloaks ablaze” as Jon’s sword burned red, which actually shows us burning crows flying down from the Wall, a giant symbol of the ice moon… and just when the red sword comes out to play at the Wall. That’s another great “Sutr destroying the Bifrost bridge” scene there as well.

The idea of Jon eating the roast raven, according to my analysis, also implies Jon absorbing his fiery spirit back into his cold body. This eating / skinchanging symbolism is built upon in the chapter as Jon thinks about the fact that Mormont’s raven ate Mormont when he died:

That bird is too clever by half. It had been the Old Bear’s companion for long years, but that had not stopped it from eating Mormont’s face once he died.

Mormont isn’t a skinchanger, but is symbolically implied as one by virtue of always having a talking raven on his shoulder (as we’ve discussed before), so the idea of Mormont’s raven eating Mormont implies Mormont’s spirit going inside his raven, as it would have had he been a real skinchanger. It’s basically the reverse of Jon eating the raven, because Jon’s spirit is coming back to his body from his animal when he wakes up, as opposed to leaving his body for his animal’s body when he dies. Whoever is doing the eating is absorbing the spirit of the thing being eaten, in symbolic terms, and Jon will wake when his sleeping corpse can re-absorb his fiery spirit, as suggested by the raven landing on Jon’s chest and Jon wanting to roast it and eat it.

The idea of skinchangers having a second life inside their animals is also brought up right after Jon wakes up from the dream. Jon thinks Bran and Rickon are dead, but he knows their wolves are alive because he sensed them in his wolf dream. It says “He wondered if some part of his dead brothers lived on inside their wolves,” which is a great way to pull all the second life stuff we learned earlier in ADWD in the Varamyr prologue into Jon’s story arc and foreshadow his second life inside Ghost – especially coming right after this most vivid of wolf dreams.

As Jon dresses and leaves his chambers, there’s talk of waking dragons:

“If His Grace is doomed, your realm is doomed as well,” said Lady Melisandre. “Remember that, Lord Snow. It is the one true king of Westeros who stands before you.”

Jon kept his face a mask. “As you say, my lady.”

Stannis snorted. “You spend your words as if every one were a golden dragon. I wonder, how much gold do you have laid by?”

“Gold?” Are those the dragons the red woman means to wake? Dragons made of gold?

This one is funny because in a certain sense, Jon may be the one true king of Westeros, so here we have Mel being like “hey look, it’s Stannis, the ONE TRUE KING of Westeros,” and Jon is like… “ah, sure, whatever you say lady.” As we know, Mel’s confidence in Stannis is based on her belief that he is Azor Ahai reborn, but Jon is actually the real deal of course, so really its Jon who is implied as the one true king here. Jon’s face is even described as “a mask,” further emphasizing Jon as being in disguise. Thus, when Stannis asks Jon how many golden dragons he has hidden away, the joke is that Jon himself is the dragon hidden away. And he will need to be woken, as we know. Even the idea of Jon’s words being like golden dragons implies Jon being able to speak with dragons, something he might get the chance to do before the story is over!

Building upon the theme of waking dragons, we see that Stannis’s delightful humor about misering dragons leads Jon to ponder the idea of Mel seeking to wake dragons, presumably through human sacrifice. Leading up to this conversation, Jon is actually thinking about the baby swap he did with Mance’s child and Gilly’s Monster and how monstrous it would be to give a living child to the fire, and he thinks about it again while giving his cover story to Mel and Stannis. I don’t think Monster will be burned to resurrect Jon, and hopefully not Shireen either, but I have long predicted that Ghost’s wolf body will have to be burned to send the merged Ghost-Jon spirit back into Jon’s resurrected body. Mel would probably be involved in any such scenario, and we can’t rule out the possibility of there being other “deaths” that pay for Jon’s life, either by intention or by accident.

Jon’s death (and resurrection) is foreshadowed strongly at the end of this chapter:

“R’hllor sends us what visions he will, but I shall seek for this man Tormund in the flames.” Melisandre’s red lips curled into a smile. “I have seen you in my fires, Jon Snow.”

“Is that a threat, my lady? Do you mean to burn me too?”

Are you threatening me? I am the great Cornholio! I really do love that line – it’s example of Martin pointing at his own wordplay and yet still hiding something – Jon will indeed find himself in Melisandre’s fires, but I have a feeling it’s going to be a resurrection fire of some sort. Picking up where we left off:

“You mistake my meaning.” She gave him a searching look. “I fear that I make you uneasy, Lord Snow.”

Jon did not deny it. “The Wall is no place for a woman.”

“You are wrong. I have dreamed of your Wall, Jon Snow. Great was the lore that raised it, and great the spells locked beneath its ice. We walk beneath one of the hinges of the world.” Melisandre gazed up at it, her breath a warm moist cloud in the air. “This is my place as it is yours, and soon enough you may have grave need of me. Do not refuse my friendship, Jon. I have seen you in the storm, hard-pressed, with enemies on every side. You have so many enemies. Shall I tell you their names?”

“I know their names.”

“Do not be so certain.” The ruby at Melisandre’s throat gleamed red. “It is not the foes who curse you to your face that you must fear, but those who smile when you are looking and sharpen their knives when you turn your back. You would do well to keep your wolf close beside you. Ice, I see, and daggers in the dark. Blood frozen red and hard, and naked steel. It was very cold.”

“It is always cold on the Wall.”

“You think so?”

“I know so, my lady.”

“Then you know nothing, Jon Snow,” she whispered.

And as you recall, Jon never felt the fourth knife, but only the cold. It’s not accident that Jon’s death is emphasized as colder than cold – I mean we’re talking “you know nothing, Jon Snow” level cold here. It’s the cold of the ice moon, or you might say, the cold of the grave. Martin kind of gave us things in reverse here: first he foreshadowed Jon’s waking in fire and needing Melisandre as a friend, then gave us the whole daggers in the dark routine which foreshadows Jon’s death.

As for that death scene, it does something similar, giving us resurrection foreshadowing even as Jon is dying. The key is the giant Wun Wun, whom I believe is playing the part of resurrected Jon. We already saw this once in the “In a  Grove of Ash” episode, again following the “ember in the ashes” line symbolism which represents Azor Ahai’s ability to spark a great blaze when he’s reborn, as Melisandre says – we talked about this at the beginning of the chapter with Sam’s ember that he used to burn the wight. So before we have a look at Wun Wun’s part in Jon’s death scene, let’s back up and pull the quote from earlier in ADWD where Jon finds Wun Wun with a starving group of wildlings at the Weirwood Grove of Nine:

The fire in the center of the grove was a small sad thing, ashes and embers and a few broken branches burning slow and smoky. Even then, it had more life than the wildlings huddled near it. Only one of them reacted when Jon stepped from the brush. That was the child, who began to wail, clutching at his mother’s ragged cloak. The woman raised her eyes and gasped. By then the grove was ringed by rangers, sliding past the bone-white trees, steel glinting in black-gloved hands, poised for slaughter.

The giant was the last to notice them. He had been asleep, curled up by the fire, but something woke him—the child’s cry, the sound of snow crunching beneath black boots, a sudden indrawn breath. When he stirred it was as if a boulder had come to life. He heaved himself into a sitting position with a snort, pawing at his eyes with hands as big as hams to rub the sleep away … until he saw Iron Emmett, his sword shining in his hand. Roaring, he came leaping to his feet, and one of those huge hands closed around a maul and jerked it up.

First the embers and ashes are compared to the wildlings, then one of the wildlings – the giant – wakes like a boulder and roars like an animal or a dragon. He does this when menaced with a shining sword, and we can also see the rangers penetrating the circle of white trees with their swords as moon penetration symbolism. After the giant leaps to his feat, Jon tries to reason with him, but is cut off when..

The giant bellowed again, a sound that shook the leaves in the trees, and slammed his maul against the ground. The shaft of it was six feet of gnarled oak, the head a stone as big as a loaf of bread. The impact made the ground shake. Some of the other wildlings went scrambling for their own weapons.

The bellowing is important – it’s a “horn that wakes the sleepers” symbol, as it is when the Titan of Bravos bellows at sunrise an sunset. This awakening makes the ground shake, I’m sure you noticed that, and I’m sure you know what that means – giants awakening in the earth has always been an obvious euphemism (or kenning, we might say) for an earthquake, and here we have an actual giant waking up and making the earth shake. I like how this is paired with the “boulder coming to life” symbolism – the boulder coming to life is the moon bursting into meteor birth, and the earthshaking is when they land.

On the ground and in people terms, the one who awakens when all this exploding happens is Jon, the dragon locked in ice. His shadow, at least, is twenty feet tall when etched in moonlight against the Wall, as we’ve seen. So, now that we’ve seen that Wun Wun can play the ember in the ashes and the giant dragon-boulder awakening from the ice moon, let’s flash forward a couple of chapters to Jon’s death scene, beginning with Jon having just finished the Pink Letter speech  in the Shieldhall…

Then he heard the shouting … and a roar so loud it seemed to shake the Wall. “That come from Hardin’s Tower, m’lord,” Horse reported. He might have said more, but the scream cut him off. Val, was Jon’s first thought. But that was no woman’s scream. That is a man in mortal agony.

Cutting in briefly, Hardin’s Tower is the tower Val has been kept in at Castle Black, and she’s obviously an ice moon maiden. Wun Wun sleeps there as well, showing his as being the ice moon or inside the ice moon. The scream is at first thought to be Val’s, which neatly implies it as the icy version of Nissa Nissa’s cry of agony. Outside, we will indeed find ice moon destruction. Picking up where we left off:

He broke into a run. Horse and Rory raced after him. “Is it wights?” asked Rory. Jon wondered. Could his corpses have escaped their chains?

Breaking in again, these are the wights Jon captured and locked up in the ice cells for research purposes. But if Jon’s corpse is locked in the ice cell as seems to be thoroughly foreshadowed, then the talk here of wights escaping from the ice cells is fairly straightforward foreshadowing of Jon’s resurrection from the ice. The ruckus is being caused by Wun Wun of course, not escaped corpses, but I think that inserting this line here means that Wun Wun’s ruckus is meant to parallel Jon’s awakening, as I have been suggesting. Picking back up…

The screaming had stopped by the time they came to Hardin’s Tower, but Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun was still roaring. The giant was dangling a bloody corpse by one leg, the same way Arya used to dangle her doll when she was small, swinging it like a morningstar when menaced by vegetables. Arya never tore her dolls to pieces, though. The dead man’s sword arm was yards away, the snow beneath it turning red. “Let him go,” Jon shouted. “Wun Wun, let him go.” Wun Wun did not hear or did not understand. The giant was bleeding himself, with sword cuts on his belly and his arm. He swung the dead knight against the grey stone of the tower, again and again and again, until the man’s head was red and pulpy as a summer melon. The knight’s cloak flapped in the cold air. Of white wool it had been, bordered in cloth-of-silver and patterned with blue stars. Blood and bone were flying everywhere.

Remember when Jon smashes the pillow into the wall of his chambers, “scattering stuffing everywhere” to create a “flurry of feathers?” Well, here is Wun Wun, who I say stands in for Jon, swinging Ser Patrek’s star-and-blood-speckled corpse against the wall like a Morningstar, with blood and bone and blue-star patterned capes flying everywhere. Blood and bone are weirwood colors, and blue stars are, well, blue stars – symbols of the Others and ice moon meteors, so once again it looks like parallel breaking-out-of-the-weirwoodnet and breaking-out-of-the-ice-moon symbolism. The highlight is of course Wun Wun’s swinging the corpse against the wall of the tower being compared to Arya swinging her her doll like a morningstar – so just as in Jon’s snow moon dream, the thing hitting the Wall really seems like a falling star or comet! I mean, it really does.

We’re also reminded of Sansa’s famous snowcastle scene in the Eyrie, where Sweetrobin swings his doll around, pretending it’s a giant, and knocks down part of Sansa’s snow-castle version of Winterfell. That was both a giant and a doll, and knocking down a snowy wall – it’s very similar to the Wun Wun scene, and again it’s fairly ominous.

Now, hearken back to the other Wun Wun scene inside the weirwood grove, where he awakens like a boulder and then makes the ground shake, and you really get a sense of what the awakening of the dragon locked in ice is all about: boulders, falling stars, giants awakening in the earth, the Wall being struck, and Jon’s resurrection. An unbelievable cold, but then an ember in the ashes igniting a great blaze. Snow that the moon called down, and a moon that Snow called down. An ice moon apocalypse, the invasion of the Others, and a new last hero rising to meet them. He’s the blood of the dragon and the blood of the Other, and when he wakes up he’ll be our first official, in-the-flesh green zombie.

He’ll want to look to the sky when he does wake up, he may need to duck.


Eldric Shadowchaser

Hey there friends, patrons of the arts, and fellow mythical astronomers! It is I, LmL, your starry host, back with the B-Side to the Stark that Brings the Dawn episode, and this one, as you just heard, is called Eldric Shadowchaser. Last time I gave you the background on Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone character, who seems to have been a big influence on George R.R. Martin when he fashioned his own characters of Bloodraven, Jon Snow, and the larger Azor Ahai archetype, and today we are going to follow up on that in a big way.

In the last episode, we saw that Eldric Shadowchaser is the only one of the five names given for the flaming sword hero of the Long Night which doesn’t have an obvious origin in the far east, but that this name does seem to be echoed in the Houses of Stark and Dayne, the two houses with obvious ties to the last hero mythology. After giving a quick rundown of the various members of Stark and Dayne with Eldric name variants,  we spent the rest of the episode exploring the last hero symbolism of Stark and Dayne in detail.

More than anything, we saw that Stark and Dayne are something like the yin and yang of the last hero archetype. Along the way, we dipped our feet in the Tolkien pond to show even more evidence for House Dayne being the descendants of the Great Empire of the Dawn, enhancing their connection to Azor Ahai and in turn, Azor Ahai’s connection to Westeros. We explored the strange black “sword of mourning” symbolism which seems to apply to House Stark and the Night’s Watch, and we saw Ned fighting the Others at the Tower of Joy with a shadowsword crew and stealing an Other baby and a white sword. I even threw you a little more evidence for the long-speculated existence of a magical black sword made from a meteorite by showing that this very thing is a prominent part of Tolkien’s Silmarillion which Martin would be aware of, being familiar with the Silmarillion as he is.

I brought you all that lore from Tolkien and Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone because I think it’s highly relevant background info for understanding what Martin is doing with his last hero figure and the stolen Other baby, who are either the same person or two connected people. Similarly, we dove into the topic of Daynes and Starks and their sword of the morning and evening symbolism because I think it’s helpful to get a good grip on that stuff first before we do what we are going to do today. Namely, we are going to do a proper symbolic examination of a fresh crop of characters who represent the stolen Other baby-turned-Stark, beginning with those handful of members of House Stark and Dayne who wear Eldric-based names, and continuing with a somewhat surprising inclusion of a familiar, well-loved character we haven’t talked about too much.

Bloodstone Compendium
I: Astronomy Explains the Legends of Ice and Fire
II: The Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai
III: Waves of Night and Moon Blood
IV: The Mountain vs. the Viper and the Hammer of the Waters
V: Tyrion Targaryen
VI: Lucifer means Lightbringer

Moons of Ice and Fire
I: Shadow Heart Mother
II: Dawn of the Others
III: Visenya Draconis
IV: The Long Night Was His to Rule
V: R+L=J, A Recipe for Ice Dragons

The Blood of the Other
A Prelude to a Chill
I: A Baelful Bard and a Promised Prince
II: The Stark that Brings the Dawn
III: Eldric Shadowchaser
IV: Prose Eddard
V: Ice Moon Apocalypse

Sacred Order of Green Zombies
I: The Last Hero and the King of Corn
II: King of Winter, Lord of Death
III: The Long Night’s Watch

Weirwood Compendium
I: The Grey King and the Sea Dragon
II: A Burning Brandon
III: Garth of the Gallows
IV: In a Grove of Ash
V: To Ride the Green Dragon

Weirwood Goddess
I: Venus of the Woods
II: It’s an Arya Thing
III: The Cat Woman Nissa Nissa

Signs and Portals
I: Veil of Frozen Tears
II: Sansa Locked in Ice

Now in PODCAST form!

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One important thing to keep in mind: all of this is really about Jon. It’s also about House Stark as a whole, but Jon is essentially the focal point of this would-be Other child-turned Stark archetype, which I sometimes call “the good Other” or the “stolen Other baby” or “stolen Night’s Queen baby.” This figure represents the tamed wolf, the wolf trained to guard the flock against the other wolves. He’s like the Others, but different, and most importantly, he fights for the living. This figures personal symbols include the ice dragon and dragonglass or frozen fire, as both of these concepts express the idea of turning a fiery dragon cold. That is what defines the blood of the Other, which is the blood of House Stark. Jon is the epitome of this, with his own half-dragon, half winter-wolf parentage recreating the original mix of bloodlines which created House Stark, that of Night’s King and Queen.

So, as we go through all these Eldric figures and related stolen Other baby figures, we’ll be constantly comparing their symbolism to Jon Snow, since that is ultimately what the archetype is about. Jon is the Stark that will bring the dawn if anyone is, and that’s going to involve some white-shadow chasing, we can be sure. As you’d expect, we will see Jon’s trademark frozen fire and ice and fire unity symbolism with basically every example of this good Other archetype. And just as Jon is about to become a resurrected skinchanger Night’s Watchmen, what I call a “green zombie,” and just as we suspect that the original last hero was a green zombie, we are going to run into a fair amount of green zombie and Night’s Watch symbolism with our stolen-Other-baby figures.

Naturally, nearly all of them will be tied to magic swords, both black and white. So in other words, no matter who we are talking about in this episode, we’ll be constantly backsliding into talking about Jon Snow and black and white swords.

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We’ll have our livestream QnA one week from the release of this pod, which will be Saturday April 7th at 3:00 EST / 12:00 PST / 8:00 London time on the lucifermeanslightbringer YouTube channel. Robert from In Deep Geek will be my special guest, and we’re going to geek it up, so come join us and send in your questions and witty remarks ahead of time if you have the chance.

Alright, let’s chase the shadows!

Portrait of a Eldric as a Snow-Man

This section is brought to you by two new members of the Sacred Order of the Black Hand who have passed the test of Bronsterys, the Wise Old Dragon: Isabeth of House Dustin, Ward-maker and Rune-master of the Barrowlands, and Ser Vorian, The Warg of the Morning, Wielder Of The Dual Blades Of Sunrise 

To sort of sum up what learned last time in the simplest way possible, we can say that House Stark and House Dayne both have a ton of sword of the morning and last hero symbolism, as well as lots of people named Edric and Elric and Ulrick. If we take a collective look at the things our various Eldric characters are known for, it both paints a familiar portrait and expands upon that portrait. For most of these Eldric characters, there is scant information to go on, but what is there is dripping with import. King Edric Snowbeard Stark and young Edric Dayne are the exceptions – we have lots of info on Edric Dayne, and the “snow-beard” thing turns out to be a potent line of symbolism which will send us hither and yon. So, we’ll start with the historical Starks and Daynes that have less information and work our way to Edrick Snowbeard and Ned Dayne, the Dayne named after a Stark.

Stark family tree from The World of Ice and Fire

In addition to the famous and fabulously named King Edrick Snowbeard Stark, there are two other Eldric name variants in House Stark, both of whom lived in the last seven generations of House Stark. Although there isn’t much in the records about Elric Stark and the non-snowbearded Edric Stark, they certainly do occupy interesting places in the family tree. First, there’s Elric Stark; he had brothers named Brandon and Benjen, just as Eddard does, which is interesting because Ned is an Eldric figure as well, by way of the Daynes considering Edric a variant of Eddard. Elric Stark turns out to be the cousin of Cregan Stark, whose son was the Edric Stark, the non-Snowbearded one. That Edric also has a brother named Brandon, which, of course, that’s hardly remarkable with as many Brandon Starks as there are, but he also has a sister named Lyanna, as Ned does, as well as a more famous brother named Barthogen – that’s our boy Barth Blacksword, who later became Lord of Winterfell.

Best of all, the non-snowbearded Edrick Stark also has a brother named Jonnel “One Eye” Stark – I’m sure I don’t have to remind you of Jon Snow’s one-eye wound form the eagle which gives him the trademark Odin symbolism.

In case that came too fast, what I just said was that we have an Elric Stark with a Brandon and a Benjen for brothers, and his second cousin is Edric Stark, whose siblings are Brandon, Lyanna, Barth Blacksword, and Jonnel One-Eye . Quite the family there. Given the various titles that contain “Black Sword” in the Elric of Melnibone series and Tolkien’s Silmarillion, it’s not a surprise to see Edric Stark had a brother named “Blacksword.” Recall that one of Moorcock’s Elric stories was actually titled “The Black Sword’s Brothers,” and that Elric of Melnibone had two cousins with black swords of their own. Finding Elric Stark with a Blacksword Brother is akin to finding that Eldric Shadowchaser and Hyrkoon the Hero are two names for the great flaming sword hero of the Long Night; Martin is again drawing from Moorcock in such a way as to emphasize the idea of brothers or cousins or perhaps even a father and son who both wield magic swords.

In fact, when we stop and consider that Edric and Elric Stark of the past and Eddard Stark of the present all had brothers named Brandon, and that Edric Stark also had a brother named Blacksword, we have to be thinking about the official legend of Night’s King being the brother of Brandon the Breaker who threw him down. But consider this: Old Nan implies that Night’s King’s name was Brandon, and supposedly his brother was Brandon the Breaker – but is it likely that we’d have a pair of brothers, both named Brandon? Somebody has to be not-Brandon. Otherwise it’s the Bruce Sketch from Monty Python. And when we look at the family tree, we keep seeing Brandons matched up Eldric variants. Brandon and Eldric, Eldric and Brandon… Finkle and Einhorn, Einhorn and Finkle…

This very thing is highlighted in this quote from ASOS, where Cat is sitting at Hoster’s deathbed and speaking with Jeyne Westerling:

“I told Robb I’m sure to give him twins. An Eddard and a Brandon. He liked that, I think. We . . . we try most every day, my lady. Sometimes twice or more.” The girl blushed very prettily. “I’ll be with child soon, I promise. I pray to our Mother Above, every night.”

“Very good. I will add my prayers as well. To the old gods and the new.”
When the girl had gone, Catelyn turned back to her father and smoothed the thin white hair across his brow. “An Eddard and a Brandon,” she sighed softly. “And perhaps in time a Hoster. Would you like that?”

Since we know that Eddard is an Eldric variant, repeating Eddard and Brandon here is as good as saying “Eldric and Brandon,” as we just were. Twins, even! We’ll actually get into a hearty analysis of the Eddard and Brandon Stark that we are most familiar with in the next episode, so fear not. We’ll talk a bit more about Elric’s cousin Barth Blacksword later in the episode as well.

Getting back to the idea that everyone can’t be named Brandon, I have to remember the part of the Night’s King legend that says “all records of Night’s King had been destroyed, his very name forbidden” and wonder if his name can really have been Brandon, one of the most famous names in Westeros (along with Garth, Aegon, and of course, Pate). Perhaps it was Eldric – and perhaps when our Stark rescuer took home the stolen Other baby to raise as his son and heir, he might have named it Eldric after his father, Night’s King. Or perhaps Eldric is a name going back even further, to the original line of Azor Ahai before the fall (which could mean the father or grandfather of Night’s King).

I hope you see the general point I am making – this pairing of Brandon and Eldric names suggest a brother-brother  or cousin relationship going back to the original events of the Long Night and House Stark, which makes sense if the Eldric Shadowchaser archetype is the same thing as the stolen other baby archetype, as I believe it is.

Taking a look at House Dayne and their Eldric variants, it’s quite notable that one of the few named Swords of the Morning is Ulrick Dayne, who of course carried Dawn. That would parallel the idea of the original Eldric Shadowchaser carrying Dawn, perhaps as the last hero with his dragonsteel. That quote we cited last time about Ulrick Dayne is a bit concerning; if you don’t recall, it was Eustace Osgrey speaking about the greatness of Daemon Blackfyre, and he said “When Prince Daemon had Blackfyre in his hand, there was not a man to equal him . . . not Ulrick Dayne with Dawn, no, nor even the Dragonknight with Dark Sister.” I’d like to think our Eldric Shadowchaser is up to the task, so what’s up with that?

Of course, we know the last hero broke his first sword and seems to have suffered a setback before he emerged with dragonsteel to slay the Others, and I believe he was even killed and resurrected before being able to win the War for the Dawn. I also think it’s possible Night’s King was the one who first wielded “original Ice,” a.k.a. Dawn, with our Eldric figure needing to use a black sword to claim it from him, as discussed in the last episode. After all, Lord Eddard Stark is a man who owns “black Ice” and yet briefly claims “white Ice,” if you will. In fact, since Ned was leading a group of grey wraiths with shadowswords against a sword of the morning with a white sword, we can see Daemon Blackfyre and Ned as being somewhat parallel – both having the ability to triumph over a Dayne with Dawn. It will really be interesting to see what happens with Dawn if it comes out to play in the next two books, and if we see Night’s King figure Darkstar Dayne possessing Dawn.

The main thing to take away is the ever-present black and white sword duel – Ulrick Dayne with his white and purple house colors and white sword vs. Daemon Blackfyre with his black and red house colors and his black sword. Aemon the Dragonknight is a delightful mingling of their symbolism, being a white sword of the Kingsguard who carries a black sword, Dark Sister. We’ll talk about Aemon the Dragonknight a bit later, actually, as I think he is another example of our “good Other” figure, mixing fire and ice symbolism – a white shadow Kingsguard with a black dragon sword certainly qualifies.

Alright, we’ve served up the appetizers, now it’s time for a good old-fashioned snow-bearding – and let’s start with something dramatic, shall we? Ok, remember how we discussed last time the possibility that the stolen Other baby turned Stark might have an affinity for ice magic that may have enabled him to build the Wall? It was essentially a logical hunch based on the idea that there might have a been this escaped Other baby-turned-Stark who might possess a connection to ice magic. That’s a good start, but we should find some clever hints in the text to suport htis idea if it is true – and it turns out that Edrick Snowbeard Stark, during his nearly-hundred year rule, was the one who built the great outer wall of Winterfell.

That’s right. Here we find an Eldric figure – the best one, really, Edrick Snowbeard – building a large and significant wall to defend the Northmen against their foes. We’ve seen Sansa build a snow-castle version of Winterfell before, so it’s not even that hard to read about Edrick Snowbeard building the outer wall of Winterfell and imagine the original Eldric figure building a great Wall of ice. Eldric the Builder!

Also notable is the fact that Edrick Snowbeard ruled for almost a hundred years, which kind of hearkens back to the tales of long-lived kings from the Age of Heroes, thereby encouraging us to view Edrick Snowbeard as a personification of the heroic Stark archetype. His snowbeard implies him as one who can use ice magic, or one whose nature is partially comprised of ice magic, and  that is consistent with our idea of the stolen Other baby archetype. Again I will mention that Edric Snowbeard’s grandson was named Brandon “Ice Eyes” Stark, who is another fellow that will come up again later in our episode today.

random guy with a snowbeard

That’s all pretty great stuff regarding King Edrick Snoweard, but apart from that, there just isn’t a ton else written about the man. However, the snow-beard does seem to be a symbol Martin is using to say something about the archetype we’ve been exploring, as I mentioned at the top. For example, lets break the ice with this really cool Hodor scene which seems to reinforce the idea of Edrick Snowbeard as some kind of icy magician:

Swaying in his wicker basket on Hodor’s back, the boy hunched down, ducking his head as the big stableboy passed beneath the limb of an oak. The snow was falling again, wet and heavy. Hodor walked with one eye frozen shut, his thick brown beard a tangle of hoarfrost, icicles drooping from the ends of his bushy mustache. One gloved hand still clutched the rusty iron longsword he had taken from the crypts below Winterfell, and from time to time he would lash out at a branch, knocking loose a spray of snow. “Hod-d-d-dor,” he would mutter, his teeth chattering.

For those of you who are not hiding from the TV show, you can see some clear foreshadowing in that last line. I won’t say it, since a few are still trying to remain unspoiled. Setting that aside though, look at Hodor, with one eye frozen shut to give us an icy version of the famous Odin symbolism which denotes an open third eye and ability to use magic. His beard is a tangle of hoarfrost, complete with icicle mustacios, and later in ADWD, Hodor’s beard becomes “solid ice” as well, repeating the snow beard symbolism. Hodor’s hoarfrost beard in the scene we quoted actually gives us snowbeard symbolism and white dragon symbolism, since Vhagar was the “hoary old bitch.”

Fabulously, Hodor carries a rusty iron longsword here – meaning a black and red sword, like the two swords made from Ned’s Black Ice! It’s from the crypts of Winterfell, so it is specifically a black and red King of Winter sword, again, just like the swords made from Ned’s sword. He’s attacking a snow-covered tree with it, and of course a snow-covered tree is an excellent metaphor for an Other – most notably when we see a “pale shadow of a weirwood armored in ice” in the Varamyr Sixskins prologue of ADWD.

The inclusion of the snowbeard symbolism in a scene such as this surely adds to Edrick Snowbeard’s mystique, and specifically points us in the direction of a heroic Stark King of Winter who can use ice magic. That’s our man, right?

Those who are familiar with the Weirwood Compendium series will recognize the line at the beginning of the last quote about Bran being in the wicker basket as yet more King of Winter symbolism. Hodor himself parallels the wick basket that carries Bran, as Hodor is sometimes a vessel which carries Bran’s consciousness, and this ties the King of Winter symbolism even more directly to Hodor… and implies him as something that can catch on fire, in keeping with the real-world wicker man and king of winter traditions. Hopefully that is just symbolism and Hodor won’t catch on fire. More probably, we are to see him as filled with the fire of Bran’s greenseer spirit when Bran inhabits his body.

There is one other person who specifically has hoarfrost in his beard, and that’s the wighted version of Small Paul. That again sends us in the direction of zombified Night’s Watch brothers – ones who catch on fire, as Small Paul does. Here’s that quote:

Yet even so the wight’s grip did not loosen. Sam’s last thoughts were for the mother who had loved him and the father he had failed. The longhall was spinning around him when he saw the wisp of smoke rising from between Paul’s broken teeth. Then the dead man’s face burst into flame, and the hands were gone.

Sam sucked in air, and rolled feebly away. The wight was burning, hoarfrost dripping from his beard as the flesh beneath blackened. Sam heard the raven shriek, but Paul himself made no sound. When his mouth opened, only flames came out. And his eyes . . . It’s gone, the blue glow is gone.

I wanted to pull the quote here because of the dragon symbolism – first, there is smoke rising from between Paul’s broken teeth (with broken teeth looking more like pointy dragon’s teeth), and then “when his mouth opened, only flame came out,” as if he were a fire-breathing dragon. This dragon symbolism, paired with his ice and fire symbolism, his Night’s Watchmen status, and the “hoarfrost” beard which may also imply hoary old Vhagar the symbolic ice dragon… well it makes him easy to identify. So far we are two for two with snowbeard figures matching all of the stolen Other baby symbolism.

It’s much the same for the heads of the three decapitated rangers that the Weeper mounted on ashwood spears north of the Wall – their beards were “full of ice.” These three rangers, Garth Greyfeather, Hairy Hal, and Black Jack Bulwer, all have strong green man symbolism, and their bloody, carved faces mounted on ash wood spears creates a kind of grisly weirwood tree symbol, which is more Weirwood Compendium stuff in case you are not familiar. Point being, I believe that our original stolen Other baby turned Stark was also a green zombie, if indeed he was the last hero, since I am pretty sure the last hero was a green zombie. That seems to be the message of these dead Night’s Watch rangers with snowy and icy beards, so that all checks out.

There’s also call-outs to magic swords and bleeding stars here. The empty eye sockets of these severed heads are black and bloody holes in the scene where Jon finds them, while Melisandre foresees this event before it happens, seeing the empty eyes sockets “weeping blood” followed by “a black and bloody tide.” All of these are different versions of the blades of Oathkeeper and Widow’s Wail, which appear as “waves of night and blood.” We traced out this symbolism on Bloodstone Compendium 3, Waves of Night and Moon Blood, and the end result is that the Night’s Watchmen’s heads mounted on spears are also symbols of meteors, of bleeding stars, with the ash wood spears mimicking the trail of ash smoke following behind the ‘head’ of the meteor, and then the head of the meteor weeps the bloody tide to complete the bleeding star symbolism.

another snowbearded dude, taken from the fearsomebeard wordpress page

Another notable person with a snow-white beards is Ser Barristan, who wears snow white, hard as ice armor with a white dragon helm in ADWD – and of course the ice dragon seems linked to Jon and the stolen Other baby archetype he epitomizes. Said another way, Barristan may well be a good Other figure, something like Aemon the Dragonknight may be.

Next we Tormund Giantsbane, who has a snow-white beard, and he is of course a horn-blower figure with a ton of magical symbolism. Think of the Night’s Watch vowing to be the horn that wakes the sleepers, and then recall that Tormund eventually commands one of the castles on the Wall, Oakenshield. Tormund’s snow-white hair is especially meaningful because it used to be red, “kissed-by-fire” hair – so that’s a fire to snow transformation, which again fits Jon and this Eldric archetype to a T. There’s obviously a lot more to say about Tormund, but he’s going to feature prominently in our horn of winter episode, let’s stick to the snow-beard theme and keep moving.

When the Umbers come down from the Last Hearth for the harvest feast at Winterfell in ACOK, there’s more snow-beards and more horn-blowing, and it sounds like this:

The blast of horns woke him. Bran pushed himself onto his side, grateful for the reprieve. He heard horses and boisterous shouting. More guests have come, and half-drunk by the noise of them. Grasping his bars he pulled himself from the bed and over to the window seat. On their banner was a giant in shattered chains that told him that these were Umber men, down from the northlands beyond the Last River.

The next day two of them came together to audience; the Greatjon’s uncles, blustery men in the winter of their days with beards as white as the bearskincloaks they wore. A crow had once taken Mors for dead and pecked out his eye, so he wore a chunk of dragonglass in its stead. As Old Nan told the tale, he’d grabbed the crow in his fist and bitten its head off, so they named him Crowfood. 

White bearskins come from snowbears, so, by the transitive property of symbolism, these blustery men in the winter of their days effectively have snowbeards. Plus, ‘snowbear’ is just ‘snowbeard’ without the ‘d’ at the end. Especially notable is the snowbearded guy with the dragonglass eye – what’s going on there? Well, I’d say Mors Crowfood has a bad case of the dragon-locked-in-ice-face; it’s actually a dragonglass eye locked in ice. It’s very comparable to Hodor with one eye frozen shut or to Bloodraven the one-eyed dragon-blooded greenseer (~one-eyed one-horned flyin purple people eater~). It’s also very comparable to Jon, who is symbolized by dragonglass and has the Odin-like one-eye wound via Orell’s eagle, and whom I predict will have snow white hair himself – maybe he’ll even grow a beard, har! And yes, that was a Tormund ‘har.’

Interpreting Mors’s ‘dragonglass eye with a snow-beard’ symbolism in the most straightforward fashion suggests a snowy northern who can use a dragonglass candle to see, or perhaps fire magic such as Melisandre uses. I’m not sure if that’s a thing or not, but it is safe to say that the combination of dragonglass and snow-beard symbolism is consistent with frozen fire being the symbol of the stolen Other figure and the Night’s Watch, and once again the one-eye symbol is recognized as a sign of one who has opened their third eye and attained magical sight.

The horn blowing is really a thing with Umbers, it must be said; not only do they ride in blowing horns and drinking from horns, Mors also leads a host of “green boys” to harass the Boltons at Winterfell in ADWD by blowing horns at all hours of the day. Then we have the horn-blowing at the Harvest Feast in ACOK:

The music grew wilder, the drummers joined in, and Hother Umber brought forth a huge curved warhorn banded in silver. When the singer reached the part in “The Night That Ended” where the Night’s Watch rode forth to meet the Others in the Battle for the Dawn, he blew a blast that set all the dogs to barking.

And there you have it – the horn that wakes the sleepers to fight the Others. We’ll follow up on the Umbers and compare their horn-blowing to Tormund when we revisit that topic, but for now I think we can say that all the horn-blowing symbolism relates to the War for the Dawn in some way. We also have to consider the Umber sigil, a giant in shattered chains, which surely speaks of the ways in which horn-blowing relates to waking giants in the earth, knocking over ice walls, and the like.

Moving right along, we have another one-eyed magic user, and this one is a skinchanger. It’s Varamyr Sixskins of course, and just listen to this:

A wave of dizziness washed over Varamyr. He found himself upon his knees, his hands buried in a snowdrift. He scooped up a fistful of snow and filled his mouth with it, rubbing it through his beard and against his cracked lips, sucking down the moisture. The water was so cold that he could barely bring himself to swallow, and he realized once again how hot he was.

We can’t quote the whole prologue of ADWD, which is just loaded with symbolism, but I will tell you that right before this quote, he spends a whole paragraph plotting to perform a body-snatching on the wildling spearwife, Thistle. This is “the blackest sin,” according to Varamyr’s teacher Hagon (who bonded a wold named Greyskin). Then he rubs snow in his beard, and yet feels hot – giving us the requisite ice and fire harmonization symbolism – and right after that, he hobbles over to the weirwood and picks up a fallen weirwood branch as a crutch. I think that’s a similar symbol to the Magnar’s weirwood spear, of the High Septon’s weirwood staff, or even to Galon Whitestaff or Ironborn legend, who had a weirwood staff. This signifies some sort of ability or link to the weirwoods, I have to think, which in the end is similar to the one-eye symbolism which in ASOIAF ultimately refers to greenseers and weirwood magic.

Varamyr’s weirwood crutch breaks right before he tries to bodysnatch Thistle, and this to me represents him defiling his gift by performing this blackest of sins, or perhaps it simply symbolizes Varamyr’s imminent death, where his skinchanger abilities will not prove strong enough. As for Varamyr’s one-eyed symbolism, he gets it after he tries to bodysnatch Thistle, fails, and then experiences his spirit flying through the weirwood, through the forest, past Bran and company on the back of the great elk, and then finally landing inside one of his bonded wolves – One-eye, of course. Even better, the merged One-Eye / Varamyr wolf gets into a fight with Summer, Bran’s direwolf. This seems like yet another depiction of the eternal struggle, with Varamyr the chilly one-eyed wolf representing winter and Summer the golden-eyed direwolf with fur the color of silver and smoke, representing summer, of course.

The night and blood motif makes an appearance at the scene of the battle, the clearing with the eviscerated bodies of the Night’s Watch mutineers. It’s in the form of a frozen puddle of red and black blood – red and black blood ice, in other words – which is a really strong call-out to the swords made from Ned’s Black Ice which now have blades with waves of night and blood. I continue to point out symbols of Oathkeeper and Widow’s Wail because even split in half and slapped with a golden lion’s head pommel, these are the swords of the King of Winter, and you better believe out stolen Other baby, Eldric Shadowchaser, is a King of Winter figure.

Moving right along, we have old Hoster Tully, whose “hair and beard had been brown, well streaked with grey. Now they had gone white as snow.” Here’s the operative quote about him, from a Catleyn chapter of ACOK:

Lightly she kissed his hand. The skin was warm, blue veins branching like rivers beneath his pale translucent skin. Outside the greater rivers flowed, the Red Fork and the Tumblestone, and they would flow forever, but not so the rivers in her father’s hand. Too soon that current would grow still.

The three forks of the River Trident are, from North to South, Green, Blue, and Red. Most people I know tend to see those as the three main branches of magic; greenseer, ice, and fire. Riverrun sits at the junction of the Red Fork and the Tumblestone River, which is even easier to interpret – the red fork is a river of blood, and a tumbling stone is a meteor, so the message here is of a river of bleeding stones. That’s where fire magic comes from, sure enough. The signature Tully look however, passed on to Robb, Sansa, and Bran, is a merging of ice and fire: red, kissed-by-fire hair and blue eyes. It’s the same with Hoster Tully’s blue veins being compared to the Red Fork river outside – it’s an ice and fire unity, or we might even say it’s showing a fire-to-ice transformation. Hoster’s pale skin is veined with blue, like all the chilly white marble at ice moon locations, and yet it is warm to the touch, as he’s dying and has a fever.

Finally, I’ll add that the Tully funeral rites involve both drowning in the river and burning, so basically everything about the Tully symbolism, right down to their red, silver, and blue sigil, reflects a blend of ice and fire. They’ve even got a Blackfish with an obsidian fish for a cape clasp! He lives in the Eyrie too, so he’s a dragonglass Blackfish locked in ice.

Lord Denys Mallister of the Night’s Watch has a “beard as white as snow.” He’s the commander of the Shadow Tower, and has blue grey eyes. The idea of a snow-bearded Night’s Watchmen is certainly familiar to us, we can say that much. The main thing I associate with House Mallister and their eagle is that they seem to play the part of the eagle in the Prometheus myth – the one who eats him anew every day. The Mallisters are basically dedicated to opposing and battling the Ironborn, and of course the hero of the Ironborn is the Promethean figure known as the Grey King – so you have the fire-stealer and the eagle, set to oppose one another for all time. This is made more evident by the fact that Denys ends up in a fierce competition with Cotter Pyke of the Iron Islands to be the next Lord Commander. We also see the eagle and Prometheus myth acted out when Jon is attacked by Orell’s eagle:

Jon turned at the sudden sound of wings. Blue-grey feathers filled his eyes, as sharp talons buried themselves in his face. Red pain lanced through him sudden and fierce as pinions beat round his head. He saw the beak, but there was no time to get a hand up or reach for a weapon. Jon reeled backward, his foot lost the stirrup, his garron broke in panic, and then he was falling. And still the eagle clung to his face, its talons tearing at him as it flapped and shrieked and pecked. The world turned upside down in a chaos of feathers and horseflesh and blood, and then the ground came up to smash him.

The blue-grey eagle is a match for the eagle of House Mallister and   the blue-grey eyes of Lord Denys, and Jon is of course the Prometheus figure. The eagle is doing a fairly good job of eating Jon here, which makes the myth come to life.

So what does this mean? Well, the blue grey eagle symbolism seems to belong to the same family as icy comets or ice moons meteors, and to the Others and white swords and the like. The flaming swords wielding by Brienne and Jaime in Jaime’s weirwood stump dream, for instance, are described as burning with “pale flame” and “silvery-blue flame.” So in terms of Lord Denys, he’s a man with icy, Other-like symbolism who serves the Night’s Watch with distinction… and a snow-beard. This is very basic, recognizable “good Other” symbolism. Think of him as analogous to Coldhands, essentially. And hey, now that I think about it, I think we’ve solved the puzzle of what is beneath Coldhands’ scarf: a big, fat, centuries-old snowbeard.

And though the eagle is attacking Jon here, what it’s doing symbolically is representing the opening of Jon’s third eye, just as the three-eyed crow pecks Bran’s forehead to open his third eye. That’s almost like Jon – or the frozen Other baby archetype, really – awakening to the powers of ice magic in his blood via magical transformation. That’s something that would have to happen at some point if our stolen Other baby / Eldric / good-other archetype used ice magic to build the Wall, and so many of our snow-beard figures we’ve looked at so far show clues about being able to use ice magic, or they show a combination of weirwood symbolism and ice magic symbolism.

The next snow beard is grand maester Pycelle, whom I’ll admit, I don’t really have anything for at the moment. Feel free to chime in if you have any ideas. But then there’s this guy at the Kingsmoot, Erik Ironmaker, who is one “L”  short of being “Elrik Ironmaker”:

“Me!” a deep voice boomed, and once more the crowd parted.

The speaker was borne up the hill in a carved driftwood chair carried on the shoulders of his grandsons. A great ruin of a man, twenty stones heavy and ninety years old, he was cloaked in a white bearskin. His own hair was snow white as well, and his huge beard covered him like a blanket from cheeks to thighs, so it was hard to tell where the beard ended and the pelt began.

There’s the snow beard and snow bear skin paired again, as with the one-eyed Mors Crowfood and his brother, and once again I’d say the symbolism here serves a similar purpose of implying the archetype as a magic user. The driftwood chair reads like a stand-in for a weirwood throne, especially considering the implication of Grey King have a weirwood throne. The other driftwood throne we hear of is on the Isle of Driftmark, supposedly given by the Merling King to he first Verlaryon, and again all the symbolism there is about blood-of-the-dragon people becoming greenseers. One other note on Elrick Ironmaker: Euron marries him to Asha in absentia, so now he’s a moon maider-stealer, and of course with a name like “Ironmaker,” you know his weapon of choice is a huge warhammer. Finally, his booming voice reminds of the fact that Ser Denys Mallister was born beneath the Booming Tower at Seagard, and Tormund’s voice booms when he hugs Jon Snow one time.

Ok, well forgive me if I indulged a bit on the snow-beard symbolism – I just love Edrick Snowbeard, and Mors Crowfood and Erik Ironmaker are two of my favorite bit characters as well. To be honest, the Edrick Snowbeard section was originally only two paragraphs, but once I started looking at all the characters with snow-beards and saw that they all fit the archetype, I figured I’d be holding out on you guys if I didn’t include all that… and I’d never hold out on you guys, you all know that.

Alright, so far our look at the historical Edrics, Elrics, and Ulricks of House Dayne and Stark has built the following composite picture: our Eldric figure commands ice magic (which we can think of as frozen dragon magic), built the Wall, wields either Dawn (the original Ice) or a “Black Sword” (Black Ice), has a snowy beard (chuckles), seems to be a skinchanger or greenseer, and has a brother named Brandon – and probably a father or uncle too. That’s a good start, but let’s speak of the living and focus a bit more closely on Edric “Ned” Dayne for a moment, who seems like something of an immaculate conception of raw symbolism.

Milk Brother from an Other Mother

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Edric “Ned” Dayne is quite the fellow. He isn’t technically rescued or abducted from his parents, at least not in the dramatic sense, however at age seven he was sent to squire with Beric Dondarrion when his aunt, Allyria, was betrothed to Beric. This means that, like our other stolen Other babies, he’s growing up with a different family than his natural one. It also means that Beric would have become Ned’s uncle! Taking Ned as his squire also places Beric in a father figure role to young Ned, which reminds us immediately of the general idea of that Azor Ahai, Night’s King, and the last hero may be separate people who descend from one another.

Beric, who “took” Ned away from his real family and becomes like a new father, would Ned Dayne’s rescuer figure, and it’s not hard to see Beric in that role, what with his flaming sword and symbolic weirwood affiliations. Beric is implied as a undead greenseer version of the flaming sword hero, much as Jon may become. Beric is a burning straw man figure – a King of Winter, in other words, drawing on the real-world King of Winter / wicker man legend – who parallels the burning scarecrow brothers in Jon’s Azor Ahai dream. All of this implies Beric as being aligned with the Watch and Jon and the greenseers and the Kings of Winter, and indeed, he was sent out on his original mission by none other than Ned Stark.

Edric Dayne is a bit young to carry Dawn yet, but squiring for Beric is probably good practice. I hope you thought it was cool that Beric was almost Edric Dayne’s uncle, because if so, you’re going to think it’s even cooler when you stop to realize that Ser Arthur Dayne was also Edric Dayne’s uncle! How’s that for having cool uncles? Arthur died before Ned was born, but it can’t be a coincidence that Edric Dayne of all people has two magic sword heroes for uncles – one an undead, Azor Ahai type with a flaming sword, the other dressed up in snow white, Otherish armor with a glowing sword as pale as milkgalsss… that again reminds of the swords and symbolism of the Others.

Edric Dayne squiring for Beric actually compares very well to another rescued Night’s Queen baby, Theon, acting as Ned’s squire. Theon notably serves up Ice to Ned when he beheads Gared in the first chapter of AGOT – that’s important because it’s the role Theon is first presented to us in – a stolen child who is Ned’s squire. As for Edric Dayne having Arthur Dayne and Beric for uncles, well, that compares very well to Jon Snow, most significant of all Night’s Queen babies, whose uncle is of course our beloved Ned.

Think about it this way: Edric Dayne has two magic sword uncles, one with a white ice sword and one with a fire sword, but Jon’s uncle Ned combines both ideas, having taken Dawn from Arthur Dayne, and I can certainly see Ned’s Valyrian steel Ice correlating to Beric’ flaming sword (because remember, Oathkeeper and Widow’s Wail have crossguards which flame gold). Jon’s aunt also has a huge black dragon, that’s pretty cool, and perhaps a bit of important symbolism.

Jon also squires for someone important – the Old Bear, Geor Mormont, who is the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Jon is also implied as an honorary son to the Lord Commander when Mormont gives him his family sword, Longclaw, which would have gone to his actual son, Jorah, had he not dishonored himself. In the sense that the legend says Night’s King was a man who lead the watch – though we question that, obviously – the stolen NK baby would be the son of a Lord Commander, like Jon as Mormont’s adopted son. Mormont leading the Watch also compares well to Beric leading the Brotherhood without Banners, or to Ned leading his grey shadow wraiths with shadowswords at the Tower of Joy. All of these heroic figures have stolen Other babies as squires and nephews, and all follow the old gods in a sense: Ned and Lord Commander Mormont worship the Old Gods, and Beric is implied as a greenseer by his weirwood throne and weirwood cave.

It’s possible I should have pointed this out already, but if Night’s King was the brother of Brandon the Breaker Stark, and if Brandon the Breaker was the last hero who stole the baby from Night’s King and Queen, then Brandon would have been rescuing his own nephew, as Ned was at the Tower of Joy. Heck, it’s possible Night’s Queen could have been related to the Starks or the Azor Ahai people as well… but that’s another question entirely.

Edric Dayne, by Rae Lavergne

Returning to Edric Dayne in particular, his physical description is certainly interesting:

“Ned had big blue eyes, so dark that they looked almost purple. And his hair was a pale blond, more ash than honey.”

Ash blond hair basically looks like very desaturated gold hair, meaning that it is paler, almost silvery-tan looking.  By way of comparison to other Targaryens, Ned Dayne is a good match for Egg from Dunk and Egg (Aegon IV Targaryen). The first description of Egg, from The Hedge Knight, sounds like this:

“He had blue eyes, Dunk saw, very dark, almost purple. His bald head made them seem huge, somehow.”

Ned has “big blue eyes, so dark that they looked almost purple,” while Egg has “huge” “blue eyes” which were “very dark, almost purple.” This description of Egg is from The Sworn Sword:

Egg had big eyes, and somehow his shaven head made them look even larger. In the dimness of the lamplit cellar they looked black, but in better light their true color could be seen: deep and dark and purple. Valyrian eyes, thought Dunk. In Westeros, few but the blood of the dragon had eyes that color, or hair that shone like beaten gold and strands of silver woven all together.

artwork by Gary Gianni, taken from “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”

We see more or less the exact same coloration in the eyes of Young Griff a.k.a. fake-Aegon VI a.k.a. fAegon Blackfyre, who has eyes which are dark blue in daylight, purple by the light of dusk, and black in lamplight. There are also a few Targaryens which have some degree of blueness to their eyes, such as  Valarr Targaryen, who has “cool blue eyes,” while Rhaegar’s are also called indigo, which is of course a dark blue-purple. It’s also worth mentioning the people of Lys, because in TWOIAF it says that “The blood of Valyria still runs strong in Lys, where even the smallfolk oft boast pale skin, silver-gold hair, and the purple, lilac, and pale blue eyes of the dragonlords of old.”

Aegon VI by elontirien (DeviantArt)

In other words, the hypothetical latent dragonlord genes of House Dayne seem to have come through pretty strong in the person of young Ned: our Dayne-named-after-a-Stark also bears the hallmarks of the dragonlords! If he  walked into the Red Keep in the heyday of House Targaryen, he’d fit right in. However, look again – blue eyes and  pale hair effectively bends his Dayne-dragonlord looks to resembling an Other. Of course, the idea of a dragonlord who looks a bit Otherish fits the rescued Other baby archetype to a T. This is just like Jon being the “good Other,” a snow-affiliated blood of the dragon person. Needless to say, the correlation between House Dayne pale sword / white star symbolism and the symbolism of the Others as cold falling star beings with pale swords is well established, so anyone from House Dayne would be predisposed to icy Others symbolism, even if they don’t join the ‘Sacred Order of White Shadow Knights’ known as the Kingsguard, as Arthur Dayne does.

Ned Dayne also has more specific icy symbolism applied to him. One thing he tells Arya about himself is that he had the same wetnurse at Starfall, Wylla, that Jon Snow had when Ned stopped at Starfall with baby Jon after the Tower of Joy. This relationship is expressed by Edric as Jon being his “milk brother.” That’s pretty cool because it draws a direct comparison between Edric and Jon, and placing them at the same ‘teat’ and calling them ‘brothers’ after a fashion makes them both ice moon children. I think it’s safe to think about Wylla as an ice moon maiden, for two reasons: first, the name Wylla seems like just another variant on the Lyanna / Lya / Lysa / Alyssa / Alannys name tree, and second, Wylla is actually the cover story for Jon’s parentage lie! Ned tells Robert that Jon’s mother is named Wylla, and when Ned Dayne mentions Wylla while telling his ‘me and Jon and milk brothers’ story, Arya asks him who Wylla is and he says “Jon Snow’s mother. He never told you? She’s served us for years and years. Since before I was born.” In other words, If Edric and Jon are milk brothers, the milk they are drinking is the ice moon kind.

Milk brothers also sounds like Others talk, since the Others are a effectively brotherhood of beings with milk-white skin and bones like milkglass. According to my theory, the Others would indeed be the brothers of the stolen Other baby, in a very real sense – and therefore you can see the Others as the long-lost brothers all of House Stark, with Jon being the focal point of that symbolism. Or as Emilio Camacho Erice from YouTube put it, the stolen Other baby and the Others are “brothers from an-Other mother.” I’m a little embarrassed I didn’t think of that one last time, but Emilio had my back so we are all good.  The role of the rescued other baby is that of “milk brother” to the Others.

As a final comparison between Edric Dayne and Jon, I will again point out that Beric’s Brotherhood Without Banners seems to be a symbolic stand-in for the Night’s Watch. The Brotherhood emerging form the weirwood cave and seeking guidance from a weirwood goddess inside a weirwood grove at the High Heart correlates perfectly to the origins of the Night’s Watch being tied to the children of the forest, the Night’s Watch saying their vows before heart trees, and to my green zombie Night’s Watchmen theory, which entails the dead companions of the last hero being resurrected through weirwood magic to become Other-killing zombies – most likely in front of heart trees. Beric leads his band with a flaming sword, while the the Lord Commanders of the Night’s Watch sometimes possess Valyrian steel (Mormont, Jon, and probably Bloodraven if he took Dark Sister with him to the Wall) and Jon dreams of defending the Wall with a burning red sword… surrounded by burning scarecrow brothers who correlate perfectly to Beric, a scarecrow knight animated by fire.

In other words, Edric Dayne joining the Brotherhood under Beric is very comparable to Jon joining the Night’s Watch. Jon Snow also seem to basically combine the symbolism of Edric Dayne’s two uncles, even more than Ned does, since Jon has a Valyrian steel sword with a “pale stone” pommel which burns red in his dream and runs with morning light twice in real life. Beric’s fire wight status seems likely to be a foreshadowing of Jon’s resurrected status.

Edric Dayne has apparently left the Brotherhood Without Banners after Beric passed his flame of life to Stoneheart, which kind of makes sense, since he was Beric’s squire. He probably returned home to Starfall, though we don’t know for certain, and I think all of this might correlate to Jon leaving the Night’s Watch to return to Winterfell after he is resurrected. We’ll have to see what  Ned Dayne is up to and where he turns up in TWOW, and I’d expect everything he does to drip with symbolic import. I’d love to see him take part in slaying Darkstar and taking back Dawn, if indeed that’s a plotline that is going to happen.

There’s one more living Edric in the story of course, though he’s neither Stark nor Dayne, and that’s Edric Storm, the bastard son of Robert Baratheon. Edric Storm is famously smuggled away from Stannis and Melisandre and a fate involving blood magic and human sacrifice by Davos, Maester Pylos, and a few others. Although Edric is Stannis’s nephew instead of his son, and also not a baby, it’s still a pretty strong echo of the main idea of stealing a child from Night’s King and Queen before it could be used in a magic ritual. As we know, Stannis is a Night’s King figure and Mel is a temperature-inverted Night’s Queen in many respects, and they want to use sacrifice Edric to wake a dragon from stone, which is kind of the fire equivalent to sacrificing a baby to make an Other.

Davos, playing the Samwell / Ned role, smuggles Edric away to save him from his fate, a great parallel to Gilly’s Monster and even Jon, because the whole reason Lyanna made Ned swear to hide Jon’s Targaryen bloodline was to keep him safe from Robert, who was trying to exterminate House Targaryen at the time.

Edric’s parents are Stannis’s brother King Robert and Delena Florent – and you will recall from our discussion of Selyse that House Florent’s sigil has that ring of twelve blue flowers which remind us so much of Lyanna’s crown of blue winter roses. That’s what you call a home run – any Florent maiden can be a Night’s Queen figure due to their sigil, making Edric a blue-eyed, son-of-the-Night’s Queen figure. For that matter,  Robert can be viewed as a usurper, which is the defining role of the Bloodstone Emperor, and Night’s King as well. Therefore, when Davos smuggles him away from a different set of Night’s King and Queen figures to save his life, it sure seems like another match for today’s theory.

The origins of House Baratheon actually shouldn’t be overlooked here, because they are tied to a marriage between the blood of the dragon and the blood of the First Men.  During Aegon’s Conquest, Orrys Baratheon, a suspected bastard brother of Aegon, married into the House of Durrandon, the fabled line of Storm Kings, by taking to wife the daughter of the last Storm King, Argella Durrandon. House Baratheon has had two intermarriages with House Targaryen since then, the most recent of which involved Robert’s Targaryen grandmother. In a roundabout way, this expresses the same symbolism of Stark and Dayne – a union of the blood of the dragon and the blood of the First Men.

Although Eldric is being rescued from Stannis and not by Stannis, it’s noteworthy that Edric Storm has a flaming sword guy for an uncle… just like Edric Dayne has a flaming sword guy for an almost-uncle and a Sword of the Morning for a real Uncle, and like Ned is Jon’s uncle, and so on.  If we can ever find Thoros’s nephew, I’m sure he’ll have stolen Other baby symbolism as well, ha ha.

Now if you stop and think about it, the simple fact that Martin has repeated this ‘son of Night’s King and Queen’ symbolism and stolen Other baby symbolism with Edric Storm is telling. Finding five different Eldric name variants among Stark and Dayne makes a ton of sense, as these Houses already fit the last hero / Night’s King mythology, as we’ve seen. Edric Storm, however, isn’t a Stark or Dayne – but his name is one letter away from Eldric Shadowchaser’s first name. That is a REALLY strong clue that the Eldric Shadowchaser name itself  is indeed tied to the ‘son of Night’s Queen’ figure.

In fact, Edric Storm ‘s name is even more closely connected to Elric of Melnibone, because Elric of Melnibone can also be named after his sword and is sometimes referred to as “Elric Stormbringer.” Elric Stormbringer, Edric Storm – it’s pretty great. There’s a funny passage about Edric’s name which highlights his stormy nature in ASOS:

“You are making me angry, Davos. I will hear no more of this bastard boy.”

“His name is Edric Storm, sire.”

“I know his name. Was there ever a name so apt? It proclaims his bastardy, his high birth, and the turmoil he brings with him. Edric Storm. There, I have said it. Are you satisfied, my lord Hand?”

“Edric—” he started.

“—is one boy! He may be the best boy who ever drew breath and it would not matter. My duty is to the realm.”

He may be the best boy who ever drew breath! Why? Because he has the blood of the Melniboneans in his veins! The blood of fallen Numenor, the blood of the Dunedain! The blood of the dragon and the blood of the Others!

And Stannis wants to kill him! It’s actually a very Night’s King thing to do, of course. Don’t @me, @BryndenBFish.

At the risk of stating the obvious, it’s important to realize that Edric Storm, as a symbolic smuggled Night’s Queen baby, is analogous to Jon, who is the most important smuggled Night’s Queen baby. Jon Snow, like Edric Storm, is a kind of ‘royal bastard’ raised with the so-called “legitimate offspring,” and for what it’s worth, Jon and Edric’s last names combine to make “snow-storm,” ha ha ha. That may be more than a joke though, because we saw the idea of the Eldric figure being someone who could wield ice against the Others with Edrick Snowbeard building the outer wall of Winterfell, and with all snowbeard figures who manifest greenseer and one-eyed sorcerer symbolism.  In general terms, when we see the idea of a heroic figure wielding ice against the Others, we should think of the Watch using “frozen fire” to kill the Others, of Coldhands, a cold wight playing on team living, and of course we should think of Jon, armored in black ice with a burning red sword.

I’m not sure if this is intentional or not, but a humorous parallel to Gilly’s Monster (the actual stolen Other baby) is created when Edric Storm meets Davos on Dragonstone in the garden and explains that “we were playing monsters and maidens. I was the monster.” Coldhands is labelled a monster by Bran (he even says “Your monster, Brandon Stark” as a way of saying “at your service”). Most importantly, Jon is going to be fairly similar to Coldhands after he is resurrected; whether Jon is a fire wight or an ice wight, he will be a monster too. In this I think he will be echoing the last hero, who would be the original monster.

There’s a fun link between Edric Dayne and Edric Storm involving catching a cold., and this find comes to us courtesy of another friend and collaborator, Unchained. When Davos returns to Dragonstone in ASOS, Stannis tell shim that Edric Storm is sick, and that Maester Pylos has been leeching him. After Davos says that he hopes Edric will recover soon..

Stannis waved a hand, dismissing his concern. “It is a chill, no more. He coughs, he shivers, he has a fever. Maester Pylos will soon set him right. By himself the boy is nought, you understand, but in his veins flows my brother’s blood. There is power in a king’s blood, she says.”

Interesting that the potential magical power of Edric’s blood is remarked upon here in the same quote about him being sick – in particular, he’s got an ice and fire thing happening – he both shivers and has a fever. It’s that special ice and fire blood! It’s potent. It’s the same for Edric Dayne when he catches sick after getting rained on at the High Heart:

It rained all through that night, and come morning Ned, Lem, and Watty the Miller awoke with chills. Watty could not keep his breakfast down, and young Ned was feverish and shivering by turns, with skin clammy to the touch.

From very hot to very cold by turns – once again the ice and fire theme is depicted. This whole bit is the sort of needless detail that seems obviously injected for symbolism – there’s really nothing gained in the plot Edric Dayne catching this nasty fever chill. You could argue Edric Storm catching cold gives him an excuse to be leeched, but Mel could have that done anyway I would think. You may also recall the snowbearded and blue-veined Hoster Tully, whose skin was warm to the touch with fever.

So if our Edrics catching fever chills is meaningful, what does it mean? Well probably, it’s just a general clue about this archetype being an ice / fire character, as Jon is. More specifically, it would seem to compare to Jon growing hard and cold at the Wall, as Bran says, which alludes to Jon dying and being resurrected – quite possibly as a conscious cold wight like Coldhands. In the scenario that the rescued Night’s King baby grows up to become the last hero, then the green zombie theory would suggest that he did indeed become zombified and wighted. Which, as we’ve seen, is tantamount to being turned in to a monster – Just as Edric Storm plays the monster.

Alright, well, that does it for our Eldric Shadowchaser section, but we aren’t done with the archetype. I’m not sure if we’ll ever see Edric Storm again – I’d like to think we will –  but I bet we will be seeing more from Edric Dayne, Jon Snow’s milk bother. If Edric Storm does show up, he and Gendry might end up as the best candidates to continue to line of House Baratheon.

Davos Shadowchaser

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Davos whatnow? Yeah, that’s right! It’s Davos time!

Now, I hate to do this to you, but I have to tell you that Eldric Shadowchaser may be an inherited title just as Azor Ahai may be. I mean, we’ve kind of been beating around that bush as it is, but I wanted to say it flat out. I know it would be nice to pin everything down all nice and neat, but time and time again, no matter the archetype, we see that father and son often repeat the same symbolism. For example, in the very chapter that Davos plays the rescuer role, smuggling ice queen baby Edric Storm away to safety, Davos himself is also suggested to us as an Eldric Shadowchaser figure! Then, in ADWD, Davos’s son is implied as Eldric Shadowchaser too, and in the exact same way that Davos was! It’s an Eldric Shadowchaser Russian doll trick. Eldric-ception.

Alright, well first things first, let me show you what I mean, starting with the passage that establishes Davos as a shadowchaser. I’m going to quote the paragraph before and after the key line, because they’re written beautifully and contain a few other clues about what’s going on here. Davos is returning to the chamber of the painted table to await Stannis’s judgement, and note the Morningstar language here:

The steps seemed longer and steeper than before, or perhaps it was just that he was tired. The Mother never made me for tasks like this. He had risen too high and too fast, and up here on the mountain the air was too thin for him to breathe. As a boy he’d dreamed of riches, but that was long ago. Later, grown, all he had wanted was a few acres of good land, a hall to grow old in, a better life for his sons. The Blind Bastard used to tell him that a clever smuggler did not overreach, nor draw too much attention to himself. A few acres, a timbered roof, a “ser” before my name, I should have been content. If he survived this night, he would take Devan and sail home to Cape Wrath and his gentle Marya. We will grieve together for our dead sons, raise the living ones to be good men, and speak no more of kings.

The Chamber of the Painted Table was dark and empty when Davos entered; the king would still be at the nightfire, with Melisandre and the queen’s men. He knelt and made a fire in the hearth, to drive the chill from the round chamber and chase the shadows back into their corners. Then he went around the room to each window in turn, opening the heavy velvet curtains and unlatching the wooden shutters. The wind came in, strong with the smell of salt and sea, and pulled at his plain brown cloak.

So there’s the shadow-chaser line – Davos is chasing the shadows into their corners with fire. In the first paragraph, he is spelled out as a Mornigstar figure, once who reaches too high and then has a great fall, like the classic Lucifer or Prometheus. This language implies Davos as an Azor Ahai figure reaching for the fire of the gods, and now we see him… using fire to “chase the shadows.” At the same time, he’s also using fire to “drive the cold from the room,” which implies the shadows as cold ones. The scene continues with Davos looking to the stars:

At the north window, he leaned against the sill for a breath of the cold night air, hoping to catch a glimpse of Mad Prendos raising sail, but the sea seemed black and empty as far as the eye could see. Is she gone already? He could only pray that she was, and the boy with her. A half moon was sliding in and out amongst thin high clouds, and Davos could see familiar stars. There was the Galley, sailing west; there the Crone’s Lantern, four bright stars that enclosed a golden haze. The clouds hid most of the Ice Dragon, all but the bright blue eye that marked due north. The sky is full of smugglers’ stars. They were old friends, those stars; Davos hoped that meant good luck.

Ok, so going back, Mad Prendos is the ship carrying Edric Storm to safety. “Prendo” is a word found on both Latin and Spanish which means something along the lines of “captivate, capture, to grasp or take hold of,” etc. Mad Prendos, therefore, is kind of like “mad collector” or “mad capturer,” or even “mad smuggler,” if you will, which fits the drama play perfectly. This probably refers to characters like the Mad Huntsman or Coldhands (who helps Sam and Gilly rescue baby Monster) or the Thing that Came in the Night who captures the ‘Prentice Boys. Davos himself is a mad collector by way of his being a career smuggler and pirate, and he remarks on the fact that what he’s done to save Edric Storm may result in him not surviving the night. Essentially, Mad Prendos the capturer is an extension of Davos the capturer.

Next Davos breathes in the “cold night air” and looks to the northern stars for reassurance.  These are “smuggler’s stars” and old friends for Davos Shadowchaser, the quintessential smuggler! He sees the Galley sailing West like the mad Prendos is, which simply makes this celestial galley a mirror of Mad Prendos, and thus Davos. The Crone’s Lantern is sacred to Davos, a faithful adherent to the Seven who was “taught to pray to the Crone for wisdom” as a boy. It goes without saying the stand-out is the Ice Dragon – the idea of Davos and the Ice Dragon being “old friends” fits perfectly with our idea of the Eldric archetype as a frozen dragon or ice dragon figure. I can’t imagine it’s an accident George has Davos label the northern stars as smuggler’s stars and friends, given that this is his shadow-chaser scene.

However, taken in context with Davos have just used fire chase the shadows and drive the chill from the room, it seems almost paradoxical to see him then let in the cold night air and revel in the sight of the ice dragon. But if Eldric Shadowchaser was a frozen dragon / ice dragon figure who fights the Others – which is what he seems to be according to all the symbolism we have looked at in the last two episodes – then it actually makes perfect sense to see the Shadowchaser figure allied with the ice dragon, yet chasing cold shadows with fire.

I think Jon’s Azor Ahai dream is super instructive here. In that dream, Jon defends the Wall, armored in black ice and wielding a sword that burns red, which Jon identifies as Longclaw, a Valyrian steel sword. Jon’s an icy fellow with a black sword that burns red – an ice and fire harmonization, in other words, which fits the Eldric / stolen Other baby archetype. His foes scuttle up the ice like spiders and need to be killed “again,” implying both ice spiders and the army of the undead coming from the north and Jon being the one to meet them. So, perhaps we can see Davos Shadowchaser implied along the same lines – an icy figure with a black sword who fights the Others with fire.

Oh, but I’m getting ahead of myself – yes, Davos does indeed have a black sword in this scene, and it’s one we’ve seen before:

But when he lowered his gaze from the sky to the castle ramparts, he was not so certain. The wings of the stone dragons cast great black shadows in the light from the nightfire. He tried to tell himself that they were no more than carvings, cold and lifeless. This was their place, once. A place of dragons and dragonlords, the seat of House Targaryen. The Targaryens were the blood of old Valyria …

The wind sighed through the chamber, and in the hearth the flames gusted and swirled. He listened to the logs crackle and spit. When Davos left the window his shadow went before him, tall and thin, and fell across the Painted Table like a sword.

As much as Davos fears these “cold and lifeless” stone dragons – which he refers to as “frozen dragons” earlier in the chapter while smuggling Edric Storm off the island – consider the symbolism of what is happening here. Davos and the frozen black stone dragons are doing the exact same thing – casting black shadows in the light of a nightfire, with Davos even having lit the fire in Chamber of the Painted Table himself.

Similarly, Davos is fearful and reluctant about the shadowbaby thing, but nevertheless, Davos did enable the birth of the shadowbaby beneath Storm’s End, rowing Melisandre into the cave under cover of night, which nobody else could have done. He was practically the midwife! Fittingly, the shadowsword that Davos casts over Westeros here is a direct call-out to the shadowsword of the shadowbaby in Renly’s tent, which as we know, is called that exactly, a “shadowsword.”

It’s also a match for the shadowswords carried by Ned’s grey wraiths at the Tower of Joy, and of course all of this shadowsword business refers to smoke dark Valryrian steel swords, dragonglass, and most importantly, the Night’s Watch, who are “black shadows” and “swords in the darkness.” Like the Watch and the shadowbabies with burning hearts, Davos pairs his shadowsword with the use of fire as a weapon – and this is also like Jon being armored in black ice with his black sword burning red, of course. Ergo, I think we should see Davos here in the mold of the Eldic shadowchaser archetype, using Valyrian steel or dragonglass against the cold shadows – the Others. Davos does end up convincing Stannis to go north to help the Night’s Watch, after all, and when last we saw him, he was even being sent to rescue a Stark child, Rickon.

Armed with his shadowsword and a bit of fire and ready to chase the shadows, Davos is basically like an honorary Night’s Watchmen or honorary Stark, a match for our other rescuer figures. There’s Ned, a Stark; Sam, a Night’s Watchman; Theon who calls himself “a Stark at last” right before he rescues Jeyne posing as Arya; there’s Beric, who parallels both Bloodraven and the fiery scarecrow brother Night’s Watchmen, and whose Brotherhood without Banners parallels the Night’s Watch… and who captures / rescues Arya, a Stark child… and now that I think about it, Beric and Thoros were both front and center at the assault on Pyke where Ned captured and collected Theon. As you can see, all of our rescuer figures are affiliated with the Night’s Watch or the Starks, either literally or symbolically.

To clinch Davos as being Stark-affiliated, consider this: Davos’s wife’s name is Marya, which is just Arya with an “m” in front of it. This may have been done to imply Davos Shadowchaser as marrying a Stark maiden / marrying into the Stark family, just as Eldric Shadowchaser might have. Who knows, maybe Arya will marry another Eldric figure, Ned Dayne, when it is all said and done – wouldn’t that be something. She’s more often linked to a future romance with Gendry, who gets stolen Other baby honorable mention since he was a bastard who never knew his father who was rescued from death by the Night’s Watch – and he also has ice-blue eyes. Like Ned Dayne, Gendry has joined the Brotherhood without banners, who again are Night’s Watch analogs, and before that, Gendry was grabbed by Yoren as a Night’s Watch recruit and smuggled out of King’s Landing before he could be killed by Cersei.

So, getting back to the last quote, you can see why it makes sense for Davos to be old friends with the Ice Dragon, and why it makes sense to see Davos placed in parallel with the cold, black, frozen stone dragons, with both casting shadows in nightfires in the same scene. A frozen black dragon that is a stone is basically synonymous with dragonglass, a primary symbol of Jon and the Eldric archetype. So too for the ice dragon symbol, which is heavily associated with Jon. Fun fact: there are nine times the phrase “ice dragon” appears in the five main books: twice in Bran chapters, SIX times in Jon chapters, and this once for Davos.

Above all, the overarching theme of the stolen Other turned Stark is the idea of unifying ice and fire, and to be more specific, unifying the blood of the Other and the blood of the dragon. These ideas are expressed by the symbols of the ice dragon and dragonglass as frozen fire, and that’s probably the best way to summarize what Davos does in this scene. He’s old friends with the ice dragon and parallels the frozen stone dragons, but uses fire and black swords to chase the shadows and drive out the cold.

There’s one other appearance of the shadowsword which I haven’t mentioned yet, one which happens to be very similar to this Davos scene. It’s actually found at Oldtown, where the High Tower’s “shadow cut the city like a sword.” The Hightower sigil is a white tower crowned with flame on a smoke grey field, and its words are “we light the way” – and yet here is the tower, casting a shadow sword! This basically equates the white lighthouse tower with Davos himself. That actually makes sense; Eldric Shadowchaser is a light-bringer, right?

The Hightower of Oldtown by Ted Naismisth, from The World of Ice and Fire

Thinking of the Eldric figure as a white lighthouse makes me think of the possibility of Jon being reborn with white hair and potentially being animated with ice magic like Coldhands… and still wielding a black Valyrian steel sword, just as the white Hightower lighthouse casts the shadowsword, and just as Davos Shadowchaser casts the shadowsword. This kinda sounds like the good Other symbolism again – white ice dragon person with a black dragon sword – something which we’ll also see when we look at the later part of Jaime Lannister’s arc.

As a matter of fact, there have only been three Kingsguard who ever wielded Valyrian steel swords: Jaime, if only for a moment in between when Tywin gave him Oathkeeper and when he gave it to Brienne; Ser Gwayne Corbray of the Kingsguard of King Daeron II, who wielded Lady Forlorn, and a fellow known as Aemon the Dragonknight, who wielded Dark Sister. Not coincidentally, when Jon Snow reminisces over his childhood, when he and Robb would pretend to be great heroes while play fighting, the first name Jon remembers calling out for himself is Aemon the Dragonknight. Not only does Jon claim Aemon the Dragonknight – he also grows close to maester Aemon Targaryen, who tells Jon he was named for Aemon the Dragonknight, a blood of the dragon hero locked in snow white armor who wielded black dragon sword. An ice dragon with a black ice sword, and that sounds like Jon. The other people we know of who wielded Dark Sister are ice dragon or white dragon figures too – Visenya Targaryen and Bloodraven, whose sigil is a white dragon breathing red fire on a smoke-grey field… which is actually very similar to the Hightower sigil!

House Corbray sigil

Ser Gwanye Corbray, the Kingsguard who wielded Lady Forlorn, adds to this symbolism, as it turns out. House Corbray has a great sigil: three black ravens in flight clutching red hearts on a white field. Three blood-ravens locked in ice! Kidding aside, this sigil would seem to be a depiction of black meteor hearts from the fire moon becoming locked in ice, with the ice represented by the white field. House Corbray hails from Hearts Home in the icy Vale, reinforcing the dragon locked in ice symbolism. Famously, Gwayne Corbray has an incredible duel with Daemon Blackfyre during the first Blackfyre rebellion, which he lost, only moments before Bloodraven’s archers slew Daemon. I think it’s cool Bloodraven and Gwayne were on the same side, teaming up to defeat Daemon Blackfyre, since the Corbray’s sigil implies Bloodravens locked in ice, and because both fit the mold of white dragon person or kingsguard ice armor person with a black dragon sword, which is itself an expression of the dragon locked in ice.

Finally, Gwayne is a green man name – it’s a call-out to Gwayne the Green Knight, to be specific. This implies the dragon locked in ice as a former green man – and that is of course entirely consistent with the dragon locked in ice figures like Jon becoming green zombies, and with the extensive green man symbolism present in so many members of the Night’s Watch, which we covered in the Sacred Order of Green Zombies series. It’s also consistent with the one-eyed symbolism and weirwood symbolism we found in most of our snowbeard figures, which also implies connections to Garth, the green men, and the weirwoods.

Now in terms of this image of a good Other in snow white armor who wields a black sword, I don’t think the point is to pick out what exact outfit the last hero actually wore. If he was smart, he would have worn white just for reasons of camouflage, but that’s just me being practical. No, the point is that showing u s a white dragon person or snow-armored person with a black sword is probably just another way of depicting the ice and fire, Others and dragons unification. Mors Crowfood, for example, has a white snowbeard and a dragonglass eye, which is not exactly the same as Aemon the Dragonknight, but it works much the same way in terms of Eldric symbolism.  Ergo, the white tower crowned with red flame that sprouts a shadowsword like Davos Shadowchaser can be seen as the good Other in tower form, lighting the way with a black sword. Appropriately, it’s about to be attacked by a Night’s King figure, the blue-eyed, moon faced Euron, him and his “other” ships.

As a side note in the Hightower’s shadow cutting the city like a sword, I’ll mention that I think we can also interpret the idea of a white tower with a black shadowsword as an expression of the harmonization of opposites – like Daenerys the pale-haired silver queen with her black shadow, Drogon, or Jon, the man in black, who has a white shadow wolf at his side. Just as Venus is both Morningstar and Evenstar, we’ve been saying for a long time that Azor Ahai caused the Long Night – and yet he, or his descendant seems to have been out there fighting the Others and trying to end it, like a man trying to clean up either his own mess or that of his father or grandfather. The Black Shadow Night’s Watch and white shadow Others may represent two sides of a split that must be reconciled, and this rescued other baby-turned-Stark is probably the key to that. That certainly seems like Jon’s role, and fits with the idea of Jon being the song of ice and fire.

And that is what I make of this scene with Davos mooning over the ice dragon while using fire to chase the chilly shadows and wielding a shadowsword.

Returning to the theme of Eldric being an inherited title, it seems more than coincidental that Davos’s son, Devan, does something very similar to his father’s shadowchasing in Melisandre’s POV chapter from ADWD:

Devan fed fresh logs to the fire until the flames leapt up again, fierce and furious, driving the shadows back into the corners of the room, devouring all her unwanted dreams. The dark recedes again … for a little while. But beyond the Wall, the enemy grows stronger, and should he win the dawn will never come again. She wondered if it had been his face that she had seen, staring out at her from the flames. No. Surely not. His visage would be more frightening than that, cold and black and too terrible for any man to gaze upon and live. The wooden man she had glimpsed, though, and the boy with the wolf’s face … they were his servants, surely … his champions, as Stannis was hers.

Melisandre went to her window, pushed open the shutters. Outside the east had just begun to lighten, and the stars of morning still hung in a pitch-black sky.

These two scenes – this one here and Davos’s scene chasing the shadows – have resonance not only because of the shadow chasing, but because of the similar context of both scenes. Here’s what I mean: on one hand, we have Melisandre’s thoughts here about the war for the dawn and the champions of light and dark, including Jon Snow, and on the other hand, we have Davos’s scene, where he does the Edric-smuggling routine and then participates in a conversation with Stannis and Mel about the Prince That Was Promised and standing against the Great Other, a conversation which is ended by Stannis drawing Lightbringer. In both scenes there is celestial observation with significant symbolism: Mel sees “the stars of Morning,” while Davos regards the Ice Dragon and other northern constellations fondly. Even the locations of the two scenes, Dragonstone and Castle Black, compare well as black stone castles which are currently under the control of Stannis when these scenes occur.

Melisandre, Stannis, and Davos in the chamber of the painted table (courtesy HBO)

Better yet, at the end of the Davos Shadowchaser scene from ASOS, Davos reads the letter from the Night’s Watch about the Fist of the First Men and the Others, and advises Stannis (with Melisandre’s support, actually) that the best way to be king was to do his duty of protecting the realm and head north. That leads to Stannis coming to Castle Black and then helping Jon prepare the Watch to chase the white shadows… whereupon Davos’s son does his own shadowchaser routine. In other words, the two scenes are linked, because one leads to the other.

And yeah, it said “driving the shadows in to their corners” instead of chasing, but I think it’s close enough given that there are so many matching elements between the two scenes, Davos and Devan are father and sun, and the “into the corners” language is identical. Besides, when Davos chased the shadows, it also says that he lit the fire to “drive the chill from the room.” Eldric Shadowchaser, Eldric Shadowdriver, what’s the difference, right?

Consider that line about devouring Melisandre’s unwanted dreams – the very dragon-like fire which leaps up fierce and furious to drive the shadows into their corners also devours Mel’s unwanted dreams. In this same chapter, only moments before these lines, Mel thinks to herself that “Sleep is a little death, dreams the whisperings of the Other, who would drag us all into his eternal night.” So, Devan’s fire is driving the shadows away and, in Melisandre’s mind, devouring the whisperings of the Great Other. That’s useful for identifying what kind of shadows are being driven away, since we have many types of shadows in the world of George Martin’s imagination. Shadows which are the whisperings of “the Other”… would clearly be Other shadows, the white shadows.

So, to sum up, we get two similar scenes with father and son doing the Eldric Shadowchaser routine, lighting fires and chasing or driving the shadows back into their corners. Both scenes are set against a meaningful symbolic backdrop of celestial observation and discussion of Azor Ahai and fighting the Others. Said another way, Davos rescues an Eldric Shadowchaser character in Edric Storm, then plays the Eldric Shadowchaser role himself, then later his son also plays the Eldric role. So like I said, it could be a title passed down, or a matter of father and son repeating the same symbolism, as with Jon and Rhaegar both repeating the dark solar king with two wives pattern, Garth the Green naming his firstborn son Garth Gardener, every Stark in the Age of Heroes being named Brandon, and so on.

Similarly, it seems like the last hero was the son of Night’s King, but characters like Jon and Waymar show us both Night’s King and last hero symbolism. Night’s King might be Azor Ahai, but he could also be Azor Ahai’s son, as I’ve said, and obviously people like Jon, Stannis, and Euron have both Azor Ahai and Night’s King symbolism. It’s almost like Azor Ahai, Night’s King, and last hero could be regarded as three phases in a cycle. This cycle could be acted out by one person going through all three phases, or by three generations of the same bloodline occupying the various phases, and work very well either way. That’s why I always hesitate to try to pin down the specifics too much, ha!

Nevertheless, it’s not really a problem where it concerns our icy origin of House Stark hypothesis – we’ve seen enough children of Night’s King and Queen figures taken from their parents and raised by someone else that we know it’s something that happened, regardless of how many generations there were between Azor Ahai and Night’s King, and regardless of  whether the last hero should be regarded as the rescued Other baby or the rescuer. If we keep the focus on the escaped Night’s Queen baby archetype as we sift through all the examples of this figure looking for commonalities, things will sort themselves out.

Now, you may be scoffing at how quickly I labelled Davos an Azor Ahai reborn figure. Was that just for convenience since I want to make a point about shadowchasing? That’s a valid question, and of course, Davos and Devan aren’t the main incarnations of Azor Ahai or his son – but they do have symbolic flag markers to help us identify the roles that they are playing. Davos, for example, has the shadowsword of course, and more importantly, he undergoes a fiery death and rebirth at the Battle of the Blackwater, with plenty of smoke and salt around. We can’t break down the Battle of the Blackwater right now, but the operative line actually comes after the fact, when he’s reflecting on all the people who died there. Of the dead, he thinks

Drowned or burned, with my sons and a thousand others, gone to make a king in hell.”

That quote is matched by the flaming chain turning the mouth of the Blackwater into “the mouth of hell” at the actual battle – a mouth of hell that Davos entered and passed through. We’ve already seen that the drowned men of the Ironborn symbolize others, and here a thousand “others” are drowned or burned to make a king in hell, who can only be Azor Ahai as a dark lord or Night’s King himself, which is more or less the same thing. .

I think this is another line about the creation of the Others being tied to Azor Ahai, and the idea of burning men turning into Others seems like more symbolism about the blood of the dragon giving rise to the Others. Most importantly, Davos goes into this mouth of hell and does indeed drown… only to come back from the dead, in a manner of speaking.

When he comes back from the dead, he returns to Dragonstone, chases the shadows, and rescues Edric Storm, and then later in ADWD, turns up in Sisterton sporting a last hero’s dozen:

“M’lord,” said the captain, “we found this man in the Belly o’ the Whale, trying to buy his way off island. He had twelve dragons on him…”

Davos brought twelve dragons with him – that’s a last hero’s mission right there. And indeed, the next place he goes after Sisterton is White Harbor, which is a clear ice moon symbol (and I’d think the idea of being in the belly of the whale, an allusion to the Biblical story of Jonah, is analogous to being locked in the ice moon as well). And that means that yes, Davos’s imprisonment at White Harbor depicts Davos becoming the dragon locked in ice. That will be the topic of our final section – Davos’s imprisonment in the Wolf’s Den.

Now, in the course of the last two episodes, we’ve mentioned every single named Sword of the Morning, except one, and bonus points if you’ve been calling this out already: it’s Ser Davos Dayne, of course, the Sword of the Morning who married Princess Nymeria! Nymeria sent Vorian Dayne, the Sword of the Evening, to the Wall, and right after, she married Davos Dayne, who we assume was related to Vorian and could well have been a brother or son. So, for what it’s worth, we can say that Davos Seaworth married Marya and Davos Dayne  married Nymeria, while Arya Stark has a wolf named Nymeria… and will one day marry Edric Dayne! Haha, I promised someone a very G-rated Arya and Ned Dayne ship, so there you go. Most importantly, I think it’s safe to say that George deciding to stick a “Davos Dayne” in TWOIAF is done to enhance Davos Seaworth’s Eldric shadowchaser symbolism, just as he’s hidden all those excellent snowbeard figures in the books to help add to the larger Eldric archetype. It’s almost like making Davos an honorary Dayne, a nice counterpoint to his honorary Stark and honorary Night’s Watch symbolism.

There’s one other Davos in ASOIAF history, and that’s a legendary figure from the Age of Heroes known as Davos Dragonslayer. I’m not quite sure what to make of that, since Davos seems to be on team dragon and team ice dragon, and dead set against the Others. Perhaps this is George simply reminding us of the eternal cycle of morning and evening sword symbolism, similar to how Starks and Daynes both have morning-sword and evening-sword symbolism. I have wildly speculated that Dawn is a dragonkiller sword, just as Valyrian steel kills Others, which could fit with Davos Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. I am not, however, predicting Davos killing Viserion with Dawn, so don’t put those words in my mouth.

Perhaps the most heroic aspect of Davos’s character is found in his inner monologue.  I’m referring to how, after hearing the legend of the forging of Lightbringer in the heart of Nissa Nissa, Davos thinks to himself that he would not able to kill his wife for any reason, just like me and you and every other sane person in the world. A true hero!

As for Devan, well, besides being Mel’s hearth-boy, he’s the guy who picks up Lightbringer after Stannis draws it from the fire on Dragonstone and then plants it in the sand, as I mentioned way back in Moons of Ice and Fire 2. It was actually Devan and Bryen Farring, and if you recall, House Farring has the sigil with a purple swordsman on white and a white swordsman on purple, combatant, which is basically a purple and white yin yang symbol with knights and swords that reminds us of House Dayne and the idea of two magic Lightbringer swords, as well as Venus symbolism in general. The Seaworth sigil, on the other hand, has a ship with black sails and a white “onion” which looks like a moon, which also gives us a kind of harmony of opposites thing going on.

My analysis of all this is that Devan and Bryen Farring are playing a last hero role, claiming the sword of Azor Ahai as it were, almost like Ned Dayne squiring for Beric, and I think the harmony of opposites type symbolism Devan and Bryen are showing us refers to ice and fire. That’s kind of the theme of this figure – frozen fire, a harmonization of ice and fire. To this end, Bryen Farring meets his end via “succumbing to the cold and hunger,” with his corpse subsequently being burnt. Frozen, and then burnt, perhaps meant as more ice and fire symbolism, similar to Edric Storm and Edric Dayne catching a chill and a fever at the same time.

There’s another frozen fire / dragon locked in ice clue at the burning of the Seven scene with Devan and Bryen Farring, and that’s the new sigil they wear on their doublets, and this is Davos observing his son, Devan, in ACOK:

The boy wore a cream-colored doublet with a fiery heart sewn on the breast. Bryen Farring was similarly garbed as he tied a stiff leather cape around His Grace’s neck.

Cream is a moon color (think of the Arryn sigil with it’s cream-colored moon and falcon), so the cream colored doublets with fiery hearts on the breast is kind of like a fiery heart locked inside a moon. It’s very similar to the new Karstark sigil Sigorn of Thenn takes when he marries Alys Karstark – a red and copper sunburst on a snow white field. We also interpreted that as a dragon locked in ice symbol, since Alys was playing a winter queen role in that scene and because we had a ton of “turning fire cold” symbolism there. All of the rescued Night’s Queen babies have dragon locked in ice symbolism because they all represent the seed of Night’s King, which was given Night’s Queen, who is like the ice moon.  So, it makes sense to see Bryen and Davos, who are squires and or children of Azor Ahai figures, decked out in dragon-locked-in-ice outfits.

It’s much the same with the Corbray sigil with the three ravens clutching the bloody hearts on a white field – the three bloodravens locked in ice! I think we should be imagining the black ravens as carrying the fiery heart of R’hllor, which makes sense as they seem meant as meteors symbols. They also remind us of the Night’s Watch, both because ravens and crows are cousins and because of the fact that they are blood-ravens. Thinking about bloody and fiery hearts locked in ice in the context of the Night’s Watch also puts us in mind of Mel speaks of needing “men whose hearts are fire” to fight the Others, meaning the Night’s Watch, and the Night’s Watch themselves are like burning scarecrows locked in the ice of the Wall.

Even more relevant to the point of this essay is Davos’s imprisonment in the Wolf’s Den at White Harbor for a time, which is a five-alarm dragon-locked-in-ice fire.

The Wolf’s Den

This final section is brought to you by three more of our stellar Zodiac Patrons: Wyrlane Dervish, Woods Witch of the Wolfswood, earthly avatar of Celestial House Scorpio; Direliz, the Alpha Patron, a descendant of Gilbert of the Vines and Garth the Green, earthly avatar of Heavenly House Aquarius; and Lord Leobold the Victorious, the Firelion of Lancasterly Rock, earthly avatar of the Heavenly House Leo

While every ice moon city and fortresses have some sort of representation of the dragon locked in ice symbolism, White Harbor is about as good as it gets. We know that it has whitewashed stone buildings, a domed sept called The Sept of the Snows, a river called The White Knife, white marble mermaids, and so on, all of which is great ice and snow symbolism. As the  Lord of White Harbor, Wyman Manderly’s titles include “Warden of the White Knife,” a loaded phrase if ever there was one. But locked away in the heart of the old city is a little old place called the Wolf’s Den, an old fortress made of black stone which predates the rest of the city. In other words, the black stone Wolf’s Den was enveloped by the white stone of White Harbor as the city grew. The Wolf’s Den has become a prison, so not only is it locked in ice, it also locks things inside it – dragon locked in ice figures like Davos, for example. We’ve seen a lot of prisons used this way, such as the sky cells of the Eyrie, the cells in the Sept of Baelor, Mance Raydar’s cold cage, the ice cells in the Wall where Jon’s body may be stored, and so on. The Wolf’s Den, however, takes the cake as far as ice moon prisons go.

Before Davos is thrown in the Wolf’s Den, he’s threatened with being thrown in the Wolf’s Den:

The pink woman pointed a plump finger down at Davos. “We want no part of any treason, you. We are good people in White Harbor, lawful, loyal people. Pour no more poison in our ears, or my good-father will send you to the Wolf’s Den.”

White Harbor is an ice moon symbol, so pouring poison into it akin to Euron pouring dark shade of the evening into his blue-eyed moon face, something we considered in Moons of Ice and Fire 4: The Long Night Was His to Rule.  That poison darkness flowing into the ice moon represents the darkness of the fire moon meteor entering the ice moon, of course, and this I believe is the reason why drinking shade of the evening is like having “fingers of fire coiling around your heart,” as well as tasting like “hot blood and molten gold.” It’s a fiery drink going in, but it turns your lips blue… and if you keep drinking it long enough, you end up a cold blue shadow like the Undying.

In the Bloodstone Compendium, we saw that those black moon meteors shows many signs of being toxic or poisonous where they hit the earth, like a snakebite or a kiss from a poisonous flower, so the black meteor striking the ice moon can also be seen as a poisoning. Davos’s “poisoning” of White Harbor is a dragon locked in ice symbol, and for that crime, he’s threatened with and then served up imprisonment in the Wolf’s Den, which is another dragon locked in ice symbol. Much like the Cat’s Paw’s blade biting Cat’s Paw and Cat biting the Cat’s Paw’s paw right back, we have some sort of demented Russian doll trick of symbolism happening.

As for that Wolf’s Den, well, it’s made of black stone, like I said, and the first thing that jumps off the page when you get to this part of the chapter is that the Wolf’s Den has a jailer named Garth! He even has two wives… after a fashion.

Once Garth brought his ladies by to introduce them to the dead man. “The Whore don’t look like much,” he said, fondling a rod of cold black iron, “but when I heat her up red-hot and let her touch your cock, you’ll cry for mother. And this here’s my Lady Lu. It’s her who’ll take your head and hands, when Lord Wyman sends down word.” Davos had never seen a bigger axe than Lady Lu, nor one with a sharper edge. Garth spent his days honing her, the other keepers said.

The black iron which can be red-hot, the Whore, would be Garth’s fire moon “lady,” obviously (it’s not much to look at anymore, because it isn’t in the sky, ha ha), and Lady Lu, the huge axe, is spoken of “by the other keepers,” and Garth spends his “days” honing her, implying her as being daytime and light-associated, an axe of the morning if you will. He’s a Garth with moon wives of ice and fire, and as we’ll see in a moment, he’s quite the interesting fellow.

I’ve mentioned a few times that I am saving the weirwood related symbolism of the Others and the ice moon for later so these essays don’t go in seven directions at once, but if you’ve listened to any weirwood compendium episodes, you know that a fishing “weir” is a sort of river-damn designed to trap fish (i.e. a kind of wooden prison), and that a fishing weir can also be called a fishgarth. The word “garth” can also refer to a private, enclosed garden, very like a godswood, which leads us back to wooden prisons – the weirwoods. We’ve found a whole line of symbolism about Garth traps and weirwoods, and of course weirwoods and moons are used to symbolize one another as well, so… you may be able to see already what’s happening here with Garth being a jailer inside the ice moon – being locked in the ice moon prison is more or less synonymous with being inside the weirwoodnet, or perhaps some part of the weirwoodnet. That’s why we find White Harbor’s godswood inside the Wolf’s Den, with a jailor named Garth.

If that doesn’t immediately make sense, don’t worry, we will be coming back to the Wolf’s Den for all the greenseer stuff at a later time (don’t forget the Manderlys still consider themselves “knights of the green hand”). The basic idea is that the weirwoods are prisons or traps for greenseers, who are like Garth people. Once they have a Garth inside them, they are Garth trees as well, making Garth both the jailer and the prisoner.

As it turns out, although Davos is actually the sole prisoner here, Garth is not the only jailer:

He knew there were true dungeons down in the castle cellars—oubliettes and torture chambers and dank pits where huge black rats scrabbled in the darkness. His gaolers claimed all of them were unoccupied at present. “Only us here, Onion,” Ser Bartimus had told him. He was the chief gaoler, a cadaverous one-legged knight, with a scarred face and a blind eye. When Ser Bartimus was in his cups (and Ser Bartimus was in his cups most every day), he liked to boast of how he had saved Lord Wyman’s life at the Battle of the Trident. The Wolf’s Den was his reward.

The rest of “us” consisted of a cook Davos never saw, six guardsmen in the ground-floor barracks, a pair of washerwomen, and the two turnkeys who looked after the prisoner. Therry was the young one, the son of one of the washerwomen, a boy of ten-and-four. The old one was Garth, huge and bald and taciturn, who wore the same greasy leather jerkin every day and always seemed to have a glower on his face. His years as a smuggler had given Davos Seaworth a sense of when a man was wrong, and Garth was wrong. The onion knight took care to hold his tongue in Garth’s presence.

Ah ha! A one-eyed cadaverous fellow named Bartimus!I’ve said before that Barthogan Stark, a.k.a. Barth Blacksword, was like the evil Garth, like a frozen, northern Garth with a black sword? Well, here at the Wolf’s Den, we have a real evil Garth – call him Garth the Wrong – whose cohort is another Barth, Bartimus One Eye.

Another thing we won’t fail to notice is the last hero math: there’s Bartimus the chief goaler and the cook we don’t see (one, two), then six guardsman to make eight total, then two washerwomen and two turnkeys, of which Garth is the old one. That makes twelve, and Davos is the thirteenth man, the last hero figure. Davos Shadowchaser! Recall that he started this mission with twelve golden dragons, which is more great last hero math, and with dragon symbolism as befits team last hero.

Now the reason we can group Davos with the twelve people that live at the Wolf’s Den is just that – because they live at the Wolf’s Den! Even though they serve as the staff that holds Davos prisoner, they can be regarded as being locked in the Wolf’s Den along with Davos, because of the fact that they live there full time. It’s very akin to the idea of a Garth person being both the prisoner and the jailer inside the weirwoodnet.

The symbolism of this is powerful: Davos and the dozen residents of the Wolf’s Den are like a last hero group of thirteen waiting to be reborn as green zombies to fight the Others. Following behind Davos Shadowchaser, we’d have a nasty, undead Garth figure and a cadaverous, one-eyed Bartimus at the very least, and both of those sound like fantastic green zombies. It may be appropriate to think of the dozen golden dragons Davos set out with as the living companions of the last hero, which are now represented by twelve haggard, wrong, or cadaverous people living in the Wolf’s Den.

Now, it’s not just one-eyed Bartimus who is “cadaverous”:

The onion knight had not forgotten Wyman Manderly’s last words to him. Take this creature to the Wolf’s Den and cut off head and hands, the fat lord had commanded. I shall not be able to eat a bite until I see this smuggler’s head upon a spike, with an onion shoved between his lying teeth. Every night Davos went to sleep with those words in his head, and every morn he woke to them. And should he forget, Garth was always pleased to remind him. Dead man was his name for Davos. When he came by in the morning, it was always, “Here, porridge for the dead man.” At night it was, “Blow out the candle, dead man.”

It continues all through the chapter:

The food had come as a surprise as well. In place of gruel and stale bread and rotten meat, the usual dungeon fare, his keepers brought him fresh-caught fish, bread still warm from the oven, spiced mutton, turnips, carrots, even crabs. Garth was none too pleased by that. “The dead should not eat better than the living,” he complained, more than once.

And then later, when Robett Glover comes to escort Davos secretly back to the palace to talk to Wyman, he’s told that “It would not do for you to be seen, my lord. You are supposed to be dead,” to which Davos thinks to himself, “porridge for the dead man.”

The meaning is obvious, and I’ve been alluding to it already: the dragon being locked in ice and eventually reborn from it constitutes a death and rebirth transformation sequence. The dragon locked in ice can be considered dead – on ice, if you will – and this correlates to Jon’s death, where he never felt the fourth knife, only the cold, with his body likely to be stored in the ice cells of the Wall, which of course represents the ice moon. It’s an echo of Jon being in Lyanna’s womb, because he is preparing to be reborn. It may go without saying, but a place called “The Wolf’s Den” works pretty well as an analog to the place when Jon’s spirit resides while he’s temporarily dead.

Here’s the great thing: Bartimus the One-Eyed jailer (who’s much friendlier than Garth “the Wrong”) tells Davos who built the Wolf’s Den: some guy named… King Jon Stark!! That’s King in the North Jon Stark to you, sir! I kid, but it’s no joke – the only Jon Stark in history is a King in the North who built a black stone fortress to protect the White Knife from sea raiders and named it’s the Wolf’s Den. That’s just… highly appropriate, since the Wolf’s Den is a tremendous dragon locked in ice symbol, and Jon epitomizes the dragon locked in ice… and also the stolen Other baby / shadowchaser archetype, of course.

Thus, Davos being imprisoned in the Wolf’s Den, built by Jon Stark, is equivalent to Jon being temporarily dead, with his body probably stored in an ice cell in the Wall and his spirit stored in his white wolf.  I think this again implies that the original stolen Other baby does indeed undergo a transformation, death-and-rebirth experience, almost certainly as a green zombie Night’s Watchmen, presumably the last hero himself, right? Jon is about become a green zombie – a resurrected skinchanger – and I have already hypothesized that the original last hero became a green zombie by following many other lines of symbolism. Davos won’t be actually killed and resurrected, but that’s the obvious implication of all this “porridge for the dead man” symbolism. Wyman actually does pretend to kill Davos, executing a common prisoner and passing them off as Davos, which implies Davis as dying here… only to be “resurrected” and sent a new rescuer mission to save Rickon.

Wyman Manderly’s final words to Davos concerning the manner of his execution made mock of his sigil: “Take this creature to the Wolf’s Den and cut off his head and hands,” and then “I shall not be able to eat a bite until I see this smuggler’s head upon a spike, with an onion shoved between his lying teeth.” That brings us to the topic of Davos’s sigil: a black ship on a grey field with a white onion on its sail – very yin and yang, wouldn’t you say? We saw that Euron’s mostly black ship (the desk are painted red) was a burnt fire moon symbol, and I’m inclined to view Davos’s black ship that way, with the white onion on its sails representing a whole moon – likely the fire moon before impact, I think, though I’m not certain of this. Think about this: the black ship carries the white onions. It the single onion on the sail represents a moon, a bunch of small onions would be a bunch of moon pieces.

This interpretation is enhanced by the moonless night that Davos used to smuggle the onions to Stannis:

 Then came a night when the moon was new and black clouds hid the stars. Cloaked in that darkness, Davos the smuggler had dared the Redwyne cordon and the rocks of Shipbreaker Bay alike. His little ship had a black hull, black sails, black oars, and a hold crammed with onions and salt fish. 

A new moon is the night when no moon is visible, so this is a moonless night – and look, clouds are hiding the stars. That implies the night when the moon came out of the sky and became pieces of moon, which Davos carries on his ship (and later, he retraces the same steps and carries Melisandre, a fire moon maiden, on his ship as well). It’s actually the white cliff face that Davos rows into, and the cave inside, that represents the ice moon – Davos is smuggling fire moon things into the ice moon, so to speak.

So, getting back to the symbol of the onion, when Wayman orders Davos’s head mounted on a spike with a moon onion shoved in his mouth, he’s combing two symbols.  First, it speaks of Davos consuming the fire of the gods and undergoing death transformation, because the moon meteors signify the fire of the gods, and Davos’s severed head would be consuming it. This is similar to the men hung on trees in the Riverlands who had chunks of salt stuck in their mouth – the hanging is an Odin metaphor for death transcendence as they consume the fire of the gods (the lunar chunks of white salt).

Secondly, the head on a spike a is moon meteor head with smoke-trail symbol we’ve seen a few times: notably, the eyeless heads of the three Night’s Watch brothers impaled on ash wood spears that Jon finds north of the Wall, which were also moon meteor symbols that doubled as metaphors for Night’s Watchmen undergoing death transformation and entering the weirwoodnet – and recall that one of them was Garth Greyfeather, just as Garth the Wrong now inhabits the Wolf’s Den.

Now when Jon comes back to life, he’ll be the walking dead, and this is what Davos is after he’s let out of the Wolf’s Den to begin working in alliance with Wyman Manderly in secret. This is Wyman talking to Davos at the end of the chapter:

“Lord Davos, you will not know, but you are dead.”

Robett Glover filled a wine cup and offered it to Davos. He took it, sniffed it, drank. “How did I die, if I may ask?”

“By the axe. Your head and hands were mounted above the Seal Gate, with your face turned so your eyes looked out across the harbor. By now you are well rotted, though we dipped your head in tar before we set it upon the spike. Carrion crows and seabirds squabbled over your eyes, they say.”

Davos shifted uncomfortably. It was a queer feeling, being dead.

Head dipped in tar – Davos Shadowchaser is now Yin Tar, another one of the five names of the great flaming sword hero! Perhaps. In any case, having been reborn from the Wolf’s Den, Davos Shadowchaser is like the walking dead – again, like Jon will be. And what is he sent to go do by Wyman? Why, to go rescue a Stark boy, of course! The dragon locked in the ice moon is like a sleeping hero, and here Davos is being woken from that his version of the prison inside the ice moon to go play the hero, just as Jon will be resurrected from the ice cells of the Wall to play the hero.

Davos is being sent to Skagos, of course, an island of wildling-like people who are reputed cannibals. Here’s what TWOIAF has to say about Skagos:

Skagos has often been a source of trouble for the Starks—both as kings when they sought to conquer it and as lords when they fought to keep its fealty. Indeed, as recently as the reign of King Daeron II Targaryen (Daeron the Good), the isle rose up against the Lord of Winterfell—a rebellion that lasted years and claimed the lives of thousands of others, including that of Barthogan Stark, Lord of Winterfell (called Barth Blacksword), before finally being put down.

Barth Blacksword and “thousands of others,” dying in a great war huh? I think we know which war that was! The line reminds me of Davos talking about all the men at the Blackwater who were “drowned or burned, with my sons and a thousand others, gone to make a king in hell.” We’ll just have to see what kind of symbolism pops up on Skagos when Davos goes there. The words “skag” means “stone-born,” so they are ripe for moon meteor symbolism of some kind. Also, I love that Barth Blacksword keeps turning up, obviously that’s one of my favorite Starks. 🙂 He kinda sounds like the last hero here, dying in a valiant fight against the Others… only to be symbolically resurrected here at the Wolf’s Den in the form of cadaverous Bartimus One-Eye, perhaps.

So that’s White Harbor and the Wolf’s Den for you – it’s a pretty amazing dragon locked in ice symbol in its own right, and Davos builds on this symbolism by becoming a dead man and being imprisoned there. Most importantly, all of this symbolism is parallel to Jon, his body growing cold and dead as his spirit wanders the bardo, waiting for rebirth. After all, what is a wolf’s den but a place where wolves go to sleep?

The ultimate wolf’s den is of course Winterfell, and that’s where we are going next – in the next episode that is. I did mention that Edric Dayne was named for Eddard Stark, right? That means we need to consider the symbolism of Lord Eddard himself. Clearly, it’s far too late in the podcast to bring up a topic like “the Ned,” so you can expect the next episode to packed with Ned Stark and Winterfell analysis. Plus, we’ll broach a topic I’ve been waiting a long time to broach… the impending ice moon disaster, a.k.a. “the beginning of the end.”

Or, if your typing is sloppy, it’s the beginning of the Ned.

This bonus section is brought to you by all the anonymous supporters of Mythical Astronomy, for they are the blackness between the stars, the cosmic womb tomb of eternity

Back at the Wolf’s Den, our friends Ser Bartimus actually has a bit more Stark history for us, one of the cooler backstories of any place I’ve come across in ASOIAF, and best of all, it features our buddy Edrick Snowbeard. I’m actually going to do something I haven’t done before, which is that I’m going to read you an awesome symbolic passage – I mean, it’s just flat-out fantastic – but I’m not going to tell you immediately what I think it means. As a matter of fact, this is one of those passages that can be read one of two opposite ways, and I am not sure exactly which side of the fence I fall on! I’m going to leave you with this and some basic analysis, and then we will talk about it further on the livestream that will take place on Saturday, one week following the release of this episode. Here’s the quote:

When old King Edrick Stark had grown too feeble to defend his realm, the Wolf’s Den was captured by slavers from the Stepstones. They would brand their captives with hot irons and break them to the whip before shipping them off across the sea, and these same black stone walls bore witness. “Then a long cruel winter fell,” said Ser Bartimus. “The White Knife froze hard, and even the firth was icing up. The winds came howling from the north and drove them slavers inside to huddle round their fires, and whilst they warmed themselves the new king come down on them. Brandon Stark this was, Edrick Snowbeard’s great-grandson, him that men called Ice Eyes. He took the Wolf’s Den back, stripped the slavers naked, and gave them to the slaves he’d found chained up in the dungeons. It’s said they hung their entrails in the branches of the heart tree, as an offering to the gods. The old gods, not these new ones from the south. Your Seven don’t know winter, and winter don’t know them.”

There’s our buddy Edrick Snowbeard again, losing the black stone of the Wolf’s Den to raiders from the Stepstones – from Bloodstone Island, surely. Those would be pirates and slavers, like the pirates from Asshai led by the Bloodstone Emperor, and their capturing the Wolf’s Den sound’s like Night’s King coming in to power. We can certainly think of the wights as slaves, and those that raise them as slavers.

Appropriately, during a cruel winter with cold winds howling from the North, the White Knife froze solid – meaning that a frozen white sword appears with the cold winds and the cruel winter, which I can only interpret as a reference to Dawn being the original Ice. And along with these cruel winds of winter and the frozen white knife comes a terrible fellow named Brandon Ice Eyes to recapture the Wolf’s Den for the Starks and restore traditional northern sacrifice to the Old Gods.

Now, like I said, there are really two ways to interpret this story. At first you might read this as Brandon Ice Eye being the last hero, wielding Dawn (the frozen white knife) and winning a battle for team Stark. We think that the escaped Other baby can wield ice magic, so someone with ice eyes coming with the cold winds at their back and wielding a frozen white sword doesn’t have to necessarily be on team Others. So maybe that’s it – Brandon Ice Eyes is the last hero hero, and the slavers are the Others.

However, it also makes sense to interpret it in the opposite way – Brandon Ice Eyes comes down from the north with the cold, cruel winds of winter at his back and kills a bunch of people, so maybe he’s Night’s King and his armies represent the Others. After all, the Night’s King’s name was – mayhaps – Brandon, and Night’s King most certainly could be described as having ice eyes, having undergone cold transformation himself. I’m also increasingly in favor of Night’s King wielding or even forging Dawn, as Brandon Ice-Eyes is implied to here since he attacked when the White Knife froze hard.

We could look at this and see that Night’s King Brandon Ice Eyes comes down with his winds of winter and icy white sword and kills people who like to live in black stone fortress, like the Castles of the Night’s Watch. These people huddling around fires in the black stone fortress come from Bloodstone Island, implying them as dragonlords affiliated with the Bloodstone Emperor and Azor Ahai, which could be a match for the fire dragon symbolism of the Nigh’ts Watch. Davos’s last hero’s dozen were originally golden dragons, which sort of symbolically transformed into the twelve residents of the Wolf’s Den, so it’s not hard to see the slavers in the Wolf’s Den as being parallel to the last hero’s dozen, the original Night’s Watch. The slavers both lived in the Wolf’s Den and kept people prisoner there, just like the twelve residents of the Wolf’s den both live there and hold people prisoner there. I know I said the Others are like slavers, but then again, so was the Bloodstone Emperor, who enslaved his people. The Night’s Watch can be viewed as slaves themselves, bound to the Wall and deprived of most freedoms.

If that’s the case, when these Bloodstone slavers are hung from trees, well, that simply represents Azor Ahai dying and going into the weirwoodnet, as we think he does. The same thing is implied by fake Davos being hung from the walls of White Harbor when he enters the Wolf’s Den! This could also correlate to the first death of the last hero, as I have speculated that in fact, he and his twelve dead companions were raised as zombies before they could successfully confront the Others. They may well have been deliberately and ritually sacrificed in front of heart trees as part of the green zombie process. Imagine the slavers from Bloodstone Island who were hung on trees as sacrificed Night’s Watchmen going into the weirwoodnet, but then being resurrected as green zombies, as represented by the dozen people in the Wolf’s Den with Davos. Most people in the Night’s Watch were sent there as punishment for crimes, after all, just as the slavers were punished by being sacrificed to the heart tree.

So, is Jon Ice Eyes the last hero, or the Night’s King? Similarly, what sword did the Night’s King wield, the white or the black one, and the same question applies to the last hero: was Dragonsteel a white or black sword? I have more evidence to offer for either side, and I do love leaving things up for debate. So, take a look at this passage again and think about it, and then at the livestream we’ll discuss it a bit further. Naturally, I would be thrilled if you would like to leave a comment and let me know what you think about those questions, and you can do that on WordPress, on YouTube, on Twitter, or on Patreon.

I’m really looking forward to our Ned Stark and Winterfell episode, and I’m really looking forward to finally unleashing some ice moon disaster prophecy symbolism on you guys, so until then…


The Stark that Brings the Dawn

Hey there friends, patrons, and fellow mythical astronomers! LmL here, and boy do I have a good episode for you today. It’s actually going to be another double feature, where I release two episodes about 3 days apart, simply because it seems more fun to do that than release one two and a half our episode. The overarching topic throughout both episodes will be the stolen Other baby who became the progenitor of House Stark, and specifically, we are going to focus on the last hero aspect of this archetype. So if you’ve ever wanted more Stark in your mythical astronomy, you’re in luck. If you’re tantalized by the hints of an ancient connection between Stark and Dayne, these episodes are for you. In fact, this first one particular is going to be a Stark / Dayne / last hero sandwich, and doesn’t that sound appealing.

I’m also going to hit you with some brand new sources of inspiration for ASOIAF that we haven’t covered before on Mythical Astronomy, at least not in any detail. Those sources would be none other than Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone, and some specific parts of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion. As you will quickly see, Martin drew on the fiction of these two authors pretty heavily when he fashioned certain elements of ASOIAF like the last hero, the Sword of the Morning and House Dayne, Valyrian steel, Valyria and the Great Empire of the Dawn, and House Stark.

In this first episode, we will explore these influences, and we will rip into all the connections that House Dayne and House Stark have to the last hero – connections which center around our stolen Other baby archetype. In the next episode, we will dive back into the ASOIAF text for some close analysis of the great characters who play this archetype, mostly from House Dayne and Stark, but also from a lesser known Westerosi House known as House Seaworth. Davos’s scenes at the Wolf’s Den in White Harbor in ADWD are some of my very favorite chapters, and we will be diving into the unbelievable symbolism locked away inside those black stone walls of this ancient fortress of the First Men.

Thanks to George R. R. Martin for giving us so much to talk about, and thanks above to out Patreon sponsors for their undying generosity and support.

Now it begins…

Bloodstone Compendium
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

Moons of Ice and Fire
I: Shadow Heart Mother
II: Dawn of the Others
III: Visenya Draconis
IV: The Long Night Was His to Rule
V: R+L=J, A Recipe for Ice Dragons

The Blood of the Other
–  Prelude to a Chill
I: A Baelful Bard & a Promised Prince
II: The Stark that Brings the Dawn
III: Eldric Shadowchaser
IV: Prose Eddard
V: Ice Moon Apocalypse

Sacred Order of Green Zombies
I: The Last Hero & the King of Corn
II: King of Winter, Lord of Death
III: The Long Night’s Watch

Weirwood Compendium
I: The Grey King & the Sea Dragon
II: A Burning Brandon
III: Garth of the Gallows
IV: In a Grove of Ash
V: To Ride the Green Dragon

Weirwood Goddess
I: Venus of the Woods
II: It’s an Arya Thing
III: The Cat Woman Nissa Nissa

Signs and Portals
I: Veil of Frozen Tears
II: Sansa Locked in Ice

Now in PODCAST form!

Click to open in iTunes

Storm-bringer, Shadow-chaser

This section is brought to you by three of our Guardians of the Galaxy Patrons: Lady Diana, the Ghosts Huntress, Pursuer of Truth and Guardian of the King’s Crown and the Cradle; Ser Harrison of House Casterly, the Noontide Sun and Guardian of the Shadowcat, whose words are “Deeper than did Ever Plummet Sound”; and Manami of the Jade Sea, the Merry Deviant, Keeper of Winter Roses, and Guardian of the Celestial Ghost 

Just when you thought you weren’t able to abide any more bards or baleful name games, they abate. The baelishness and bardishness abates, anyway, but not the name games. That’s right; exit Bael, and enter Eldric Shadowchaser, because one of the other possible names for our frozen ice dragon baby is indeed Eldric Shadowchaser. And what a name it is!

In TWOIAF, five names are given for the flaming sword hero who was said to have fought the darkness and ended the Long Night: Azor Ahai, Yin Tar, Neferion, Hyrkoon the Hero, and Eldric Shadowchaser. Yin Tar, Neferion, and Hyrkoon all have names that match place names in the eastern Essos, and can therefore be traced to those nations. Azor Ahai’s legend comes from Asshai, and my theory about the Great Empire of the Dawn also places his origins there, but then we have Eldric Shadowchaser, a name without an obvious origin – aside from it being a reference to Elric of Melnibone, the hero of a fantasy series by Michael Moorcock. George has confirmed he was inspired by Moorcock’s Elric; see if you can spot any clues in this description of Elric from “Elric of Melnibone (1972)”:

It is the colour of a bleached skull, his flesh; and the long hair which flows below his shoulders is milk-white. From the tapering, beautiful head stare two slanting eyes, crimson and moody, and from the loose sleeves of his yellow gown emerge two slender hands, also the colour of bone.

Cover art from Elric: The Ruby Throne (Titan Comics, art by Didier Poli and Robin Recht)

Sound like someone you know? It’s Bloodraven, essentially, complete with bleached skull, milk white hair, and crimson eyes. Bone white hands are something we find on the Others, interestingly, and of course the white bark of the weirwood is always described as  “bone white.” That’s pretty good – Bloodraven is clearly, clearly fashioned from the impression that Elric of Melnibone left on George’s mind – but as always, it it gets worse.

Elric of Melnibone is a genuine, bona fide magic sword hero, and his magic sword is a black one called Stormbringer.


This ‘Stormbringer’ swallows the souls of those it slays, and basically brings doom to everything it touches and to everything beloved of the one who wields it. On the ASOIAF side, we know that Lightbringer (seriously, Lightbringer, Stormbringer) is said to be a soul-drinking sword as well, since the legend states that Lightbringer drank Nissa Nissa’s soul. And as you must surely have noticed, I’ve spent the last three years proposing that Lightbringer was actually a “dark Lightbringer,” or a “Nightbringer” – a black sword and a prototype to Valyrian steel, in other words. And in regards to the idea of Stormbringer bringing  doom and destruction to everyone who wields it, you’ll surely recall my theory about how the forging of Lightbringer cracked the moon and in some way represents the cause of the Long Night. Plus, right there in the myth itself, we have Lightbringer beginning its existence by demanding the life and blood and soul of Nissa Nissa, which fits the idea of a cursed sword.

Elric of Melnibone artwork by Robert Gould

Thematically, Elric struggles with alienation, very like the Hamlet / Kullervo mythical figure who seem to have inspired Moorcock. This theme is certainly present with Bloodraven’s story, and it’s a similar alienation borne out of possessing extraordinary knowledge and power, and the responsibility that comes with those things.

In other words, Bloodraven and the basic myth of Lightbringer take obvious inspiration from Elric of Melnibone, and if my theories about dark Lightbringer, Azor Ahai, and the Long Night are close to the mark, then you can see that Martin was actually drawing from Moorcock’s ideas even more than it appeared at first. The point of pointing all this out, besides it being cool and interesting, is to show you that it makes perfect sense for George to pull these elements of Moorcock’s Elric into the Azor Ahai mythology, as he does by naming Eldric Shadowchaser as one of the five known epithets of the flaming sword hero who ended the Long Night. Learning the basics about Elric of Melnibone helps us understand part of the context from which Azor Ahai was fashioned, and you have to admit that it’s a big point in favor of the “dark Lightbringer” theory and the “Azor Ahai caused the Long Night” theory.

As a matter of fact, one of the other of the five names that TWOIAF gives for the flaming sword hero, Hyrkoon the Hero, is also an Elric of Melnibone reference – in Moorcock’s world, Elric’s cousin and heir is named Yyrkoon, who actually turns out to be something of a rival and enemy. To me, adding the name of Elric’s cousin and heir to the Azor Ahai name list seems like a clue for us to think about multiple Azor Ahai heroes that may descend from one another, and may have fought one another, as we’ve been discussing for a long time, especially in the Baelful Bard episode where we picked up on a ton of stories about people warring with brothers, sons, grandsons, fathers, and grandfathers.  Multiple Azor Ahai figures that are related to one another is really the only way to explain the fact that so many of the main characters show some combination of Azor Ahai, last hero, and Night’s King symbolism, and the fact that each generation often seems to repeat the symbolism of their parents.

Put simply, Martin is literally folding two enemy cousins, Elric and Yyrkoon, into one flaming sword hero monomyth, and I think this can only be a clue that the Azor Ahai figure may in fact apply to more than one person – just as we think the Azor Ahai reborn title applies to at least Jon and Dany, and who knows how many others (chuckles).

Along the same lines, we find that Elric of Melnibone has two other cousins of note – there’s Dyvim Tvar, one of the “Dragon Masters” who can speak to dragons and fights alongside Elric with another black sword, this one called Mournblade. Yeah, a black sword of the morning, eat it up guys. It’s a black mourning sword, and right next to Stormbringer. Elric’s other cousin is a woman named Cymoril, whom Elric hopes to marry and make his queen. Jon will be marrying his aunt, potentially, and Bloodraven was in love with his half-sister.

Weird of the White Wolf cover art

Oh, and I suppose I’d be neglectful if I didn’t mention a couple of the titles of some of the short stories that comprise the Elric saga: “The Flame Bringers,” “The Black Sword’s Brothers,” “The Bane of the Black Sword,” and “The Weird of the White Wolf” …I kid you not. Now, I will just say, one more time, that when Jon is resurrected, I think he will have “milk white hair” and possibly “crimson eyes,” like his weirwood-colored white wolf, and like Bloodraven… and like Elric of Melnibone. He’s already got the black sword and a sense of doom, plus a weird white wolf, so… there you go. I sometimes get crap about now making enough predictions, so I’ve been trying to point them out when I make then lately. I officially predict that Jon will be Elric of Melnibone when he awakens… and he might even bring a storm with him. A snow-storm, naturally.

Now that we’ve taken our crash course on Moorcock’s Elric, we understand the Eldric part of the Eldric Shadowchaser name.  As for the Shadowchaser part, well, on a very basic, descriptive level, “shadow-chaser” makes a lot of sense as a moniker for someone who fought with fire and light to end the darkness and shadow of the Long Night – he’s chasing the shadow away…. very straightforward. Presumably, he fought the white shadows known as the Others, so the shadow-chaser epithet works even better, as he is literally chasing shadows at that point. The eastern legends of the flaming sword hero speak of the demons of the Lion of Night ravaging the land during the Long Night, which might amount to a similar sort of shadow-chasing that needed to be done in the far east.

But as I was saying earlier, the weird thing is that unlike the other four names we are given for the flaming sword hero, the name ‘Eldric’ doesn’t have any linguistic matches to any names or words from Essos. It does, however, find a bunch of echoes in Westeros – namely, in the Houses of Stark and Dayne, the two houses with strong ties to the last hero, who is the closest thing to a Westerosi version of Azor Ahai! With all that comes with the Eldric name, can this really be a coincidence? Stark and Dayne?

Yeah, probably not.

As it happens, taking a quick glance at the Eldric-derived names of Westeros reveals much. Down in the crypts of Winterfell, we find a legendary King of Winter known as King Edrick “Snowbeard” Stark. That’s got to be one of the best nicknames in the whole series, and he certainly sounds like a guy who might have an affinity with ice magic – or more specifically, his name sounds like a clue to us readers about a Stark ancestor with an affinity for ice magic. The same goes for the name of his great-grandson, Brandon “Ice Eyes” Stark… the First Men may not have had writing, but they sure knew how to pick a great nickname, huh?

In more recent history, there’s also a non-snowbearded Edric Stark (presumably his beard is more standard and made of hair), as well as an Elric Stark, who Ned’s great great great grandfather. Ah ha! Elric of Winterfellnibone (sad trumpet sound).  Bad jokes aside, with two Edric(k)s and one Elric in the Stark family that we’ve heard of, we have to wonder whether Eldric Shadowchaser might be an ancestor of the Starks – and this would make sense if Eldric Shadowchaser was a name for the last hero and / or the stolen Other baby. Eldric and it’s variants could be a family name dating all the way back to the Long Night, just as the name Brandon appears to be. Consider this: in the back of TWOIAF, George gave us a recent family tree for House Stark, which goes back about two centuries, and within that short time, we find Elric Stark and the non-snowbearded Edric Stark. If we had two Eldric variants in recent history, and at least one in ancient history, it really seems like it could be a Stark family name that dates back to at least King Edrick Snowbeard’s time, and perhaps before.

For context, in that same 10 generation family tree, we find 7 Brandon variants (I’m including one Branda), 4 Benjen’s (and 1 Benedict), and one or two predecessors for Sansa, Arya, Rickon, and Lyanna. We also find lots of variants of the same name: Cregard and Cregan; Arya and Arra; Lyanna and Lynara and Lyarra and Lysara and Lysa, and so on and so forth. Thus Elric and Edric/Edrick make sense as derivatives of Eldric.

Stark family tree from The World of Ice and Fire

Down at Starfall, meanwhile, we finds echoes of the Eldric Shadowchaser name as well. For example, we hear of the legendary swordsman Ulrick Dayne (Ulrick – Elrick – Eldric) who was the Sword of the Morning in Daemon Blackfyre’s time. The quote about this, from “The Sworn Sword,” even pits Blackfyre vs Dawn in a hypothetical sword match:

“When Prince Daemon had Blackfyre in his hand, there was not a man to equal him . . . not Ulrick Dayne with Dawn, no, nor even the Dragonknight with Dark Sister.”

That’s quite the trio, isn’t it? As I mentioned last time, there’s a decent chance we could see Darkstar wielding Dawn in the Kingsguard of ‘fAegon Blackfyre’ (Young Griff), who may have had the Targaryen family sword Blackfyre delivered to him by Illyrio, so we may yet see these two fabled swords in the same room together – Blackfyre and Dawn. Expect there to be mythical astronomy! Predictions aside – and yes, there’s another prediction, angry guy on the YouTube comments – once again we have to say that it makes sense to see an Elric variant, Ulrick, wielding a magic sword – a sword which may have once been the original Ice of House Stark. I don’t know about you, but I am basically sold on that idea. The symbolic match between the Wall and Dawn is just too overwhelming, especially in light of all the other evidence. Anyway… that stuff is in Moons of Ice and Fire 2: Dawn of the Others if you want to brush up on it.

Better still, the current young lord of Starfall, the next Dayne in line to have shot at being named Sword of the Morning is… young Edric Dayne, who is in turn named for a Stark – our beloved Eddard! (Edric’s nickname is Ned) That’s right, this Edric is a Dayne… named after a Stark! Ned Dayne has previously been viewed as a curious clue about the Tower of Joy, one which raises the question of why the Daynes would name a child after Ned, who is said to have slain Arthur Dayne in single combat. But now, it’s kind of a bonkers clue – this is a big confirmation that this Eldric Shadowchaser thing is in fact an archetype, one which is tied to the Daynes and the Starks. In other words, not only does the Eldric name find all these echoes in both their houses, the one we have alive today, Edric Dayne, is tied to both houses, being a Dayne named for a Stark.

Another take-away here is that the Daynes apparently consider “Edric” a variant of “Eddard,” which kind of opens up a different can of worms – it means we are going to have a look at the Ned as another echo of this figure! We’ll actually have to save that for next episode, in order to take the appropriate time and energy for Ned and Winterfell, which kind of go together. Plus it’s always good to have something to look forward to. In any case, thinking of Eddard as an Eldric variant causes us to notice that the recent Stark family tree also has an “Edwyle,” an “Edwyn,” and a fellow that goes by the uber fantasy-sounding name “Edderion Stark.” If those names can be counted as part of the Edric / Eldric / Elric family of names, then this is easy to spot as a Stark name. A Stark name which they apparently loan to the Daynes, or something.

Great Empire of the Dayne

This section is brought to you by three more of our Guardians of the Galaxy Patrons: Mnemosyne, the poem on two feet, mother of muses, rider of the dragon Saga and Guardian of the Swan; Nienna the Wise, the Persephoenix, Guardian of the Ice Dragon, whose words are “from sorrow, wisdom”; and most fittingly, Ser Imriel Jordayne of the Tor, Spinner of the Great Wheel and Guardian of the Sword of the Morning

I said at the beginning that both the Starks and Daynes are connected to the last hero, and this is basically the point of all the Eldric names being found in House Stark and House Dayne. We are going to take a more in-depth look at the various Eldric characters of Stark and Dayne, particularly Ned Dayne, plus we’ll check out a couple of other folks who fit the pattern – but first, I’d like to talk about how the last hero mythology is firmly rooted in the Houses of Stark and Dayne. It’s a fun topic, so I assume you all are okay with that. This will give us the appropriate context to analyze the Eldric figures of Stark and Dayne (and yeah we’ll get Edric Storm too, don’t worry). Plus, I have some pretty tasty new last hero-related mythology which is going to knock your socks off.

House Dayne artwork by Jenna Mandaglio

We’ll start with House Dayne, beginning with their origins. It’s no secret that people in the fandom have been looking at House Dayne, their glowing magical meteor sword named Dawn, and the Sword of the Morning title for many years now and thinking that surely, this must have something to do with Lightbringer. It’s apparent pretty early on that the legend of Azor Ahai and Lightbringer, which come from the region of Asshai and Yi Ti, is somehow important to the Westerosi story, and that’s only become more true over time. Therefore, it seems obvious to us readers that the Azor Ahai story has to intersect with Westeros somehow, and House Dayne, this weird family with occasionally purple eyes and silver hair who just happen to own a magical glowing sword named after sunrise, would seem to be the likely suspect. They kind of stick out like a sore thumb in fact. As some of you know, before TWOIAF ever came out, some in the fandom had speculated about the Daynes having a distant common ancestor with Valyria, including Elio Garcia, who along with his wife Linda Antonsson, both created and helped George write TWOIAF.

And then TWOIAF came out and gave us the Great Empire of the Dawn and the Bloodstone Emperor and all the rest. As Aziz from History of Westeros and I laid out in our video series about the Great Empire of the Dawn, the evidence strongly points to the Great Empire as that common ancestor of Valyria and House Dayne. According to our theory, these would be the people who built Asshai, the Dawn Age dragonlords from the east that have been rumored since Dany’s first chapters of AGOT. It’s very possible that House Dayne was founded by the child of Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa, who may or may not be the same person as the Amethyst Empress, the last rightful ruler of the Great Empire of the Dawn who seems to have had silver hair and purple eyes, the trademark dragonlord features.

Speaking more generally, the Daynes would seem to represent a merging of this ancient, pre-Valyrian “blood of the dragon” and the blood of the First Men, which seems to be part of the formula for making a last hero (someone, like oh say, Jon Snow).

Essentially, The Great Empire of the Dawn theory shows a plausible and even probable mechanism by which the Daynes may have come to Westeros from the far east, perhaps even from Asshai itself (which I believe to have been the former capital of the Great Empire of the Dawn). Then, also in TWOIAF, George gave us a name for the flaming sword hero, Eldric Shadowchaser, which matches a couple of members of House Dayne, which only adds more fuel to the fire for those who see Dawn as Lightbringer and / or the dragonsteel of the last hero.

Now most of you reading this will already be familiar with the Great Empire of the Dawn theory, but today I have a special treat for you. I’m going to show you an entirely new line of evidence to support the “House Dayne descends from the Great Empire of the Dawn” theory – and we’ll do that by opening up a portal into Middle Earth. Meaning, we’re going to draw upon the Lord of the Rings knowledge of my good friend Blue Tiger, who translates Mythical Astronomy of Ice and Fire into Polish, which by the way is an impressive feat! If you follow me on Twitter ( @thedragonLML ) then you have probably seen some of Blue Tiger’s Lord of the Rings / ASOIAF commentary, and the correlations between House Dayne and Tolkien’s Dunedain are some of the most striking (by the way, Blue Tiger is @lordbluetiger on Twitter). I think I can do this without diving too deep into Middle Earth, which is a very deep can of worms, let me tell you. I’ll also give a hat-tip to good friend Joe Magician, who contributed to the following information as well. He’s got a new YouTube channel by the way, with a “how to make a weirwood” video that you really need to watch, so check that out.

It starts with Atlantis. Atlantis is one of the coolest myths in all of world mythology, and it’s irresistible to fantasy authors. Both J. R. R. and G. R. R. have created their own versions of Atlantis – George’s is, for the most part, the Great Empire of the Dawn / ancient Asshai, and there’s also a whiff of Atlantis around the Doom of Valyria, though Valyria correlates more strongly to Rome and Nazi Germany. In Tolkien’s universe, Atlantis is called Numenor (although there’s also a whiff of Atlantis in the ‘sinking of Beleriand’ story as well). In both cases, the likeness is very striking. Numenor is a lost golden land, specifically an island, which sunk beneath the sea after mankind became too proud and sinful, with the survivors emigrating to the remaining dry land, which is Middle Earth, and founding new kingdoms.

Map taken from Ignatius L. Donnelly’s “Atlantis: The Antediluvian World”

In fact, the “survivors founding new kingdoms with remnants of the lost knowledge” idea is a major component of the Atlantis myth, even thought the flood and land subsidence gets more attention. Many world cultures have a myth of a lost golden land that sunk beneath the waves, with their survivors becomes the first sages or kings of new civilizations such as Egypt or the Mesopotamian civilizations of Sumer, Akkad, and Assyria, and we even find similar myths in North and South America. This is the context in which we should read the quote from TWOIAF about the possibility of people from the shadowlands by Asshai teaching the Valyrians to tame dragons before vanishing from history. The same goes for the idea of pre-Valyrian dragonlords coming to Westeros to build the fused stone fortress on Battle Isle, or, of course, to found House Dayne.

As a matter of fact, the worldbook flat out says that the survivors of the Long Night in the former Great Empire of the Dawn essentially splintered apart and scattered, and we can see the first kingdoms that sprang up in its wake: Hyrkoon, Yi Ti, Nefer, Leng, the clans of the Jogos Nhai, and there’s evidence that refugees from the Great Empire even made it over the Bones Mountains, giving their bloodlines to the Dothraki and the Sarnori, and I suspect to the Qaathi who built Qarth as well. They also might have made it to a little old place called Westeros – the fused stone fortress which seems to pre-date the Long Night essentially proves they were there, and House Dayne stares at you with their purple eyes glimmering in the light of their magic sword and says “come on, man. This isn’t a hard one.” 

So back over in Tolkien-land (which is called Arda, by the way), the human survivors of the fallen, Atlantis-like Numenor are called the Dunedain. Dunedain, Dayne; that’s right. The Dunedain are the men who founded Gondor and Arnor, the main human kingdoms we see in Lord of the Rings (Minas Tirith is the capital of Gondor). Before the Dunedain came to Numenor, they were called the Edain, which is the plural form of adan, which means “men” in Quenya, Tolkien’s made-up elf language.

When those Dunedain fled Numenor and came to Middle Earth, they built some stuff. One thing they built was the Orthanc, the Tower of Isenguard which you may remember from the Lord of the Rings as Saruman’s tower – the one at which Gandalf is held captive, then rescued by eagles, and later Orthanc is surrounded by tree ents, and flooded. The notable thing about Orthanc being built by the Dunedain is that “it seemed a thing not made by the craft of Men, but riven from the bones of the earth in the ancient torment of the hills. A peak and isle of rock it was, black and gleaming hard: four mighty piers of many-sided stone were welded into one…” In other words, it sounds a lot like fused black stone, such as we find at Battle Isle! Dunedain coming to a new land and building a fused black stone tower sounds a lot like the Daynes and their fellow refugees from the Great Empire building the fused black stone fortress which would become the base of the Hightower. Orthanc and the Hightower also compare well because atop Orthanc, Saruman sits in isolation, watching the world through the palantir stone, and atop the Hightower, from which you can supposedly see clear to the Wall, we find Lord Leyton Hightower and his daughter Malora Hightower,the Mad Maid, “consulting a book of spells.”

“The Voice of Saruman” by Alan Lee

A final note on Orthanc – after Aragorn triumphs and takes the throne of Gondor as King Ellesar, he gives Orthanc and the surrounding area over to the tree ents of Fangorn forest, and they grow a new forest and call it “the Treegarth of Orthanc,” and here you can see that the trap / prison implication of garth is being played upon, as well as the “enclosed garden” meaning of the word garth.

The leader of the Dunedain when they fled from sinking Numenor was Elendil, whose two famous sons were Isildur and Anárion. You don’t have to be steeped in Tolkien lore (like Blue Tiger or Joe Magician) to recognize the names Elendil and Isildur, because Aragorn, the rightful king of Gondor, is called “Isildur’s heir,” and the famous sword that Elrond of Rivendell reforges for Aragorn is called “the sword of Elendil.” It’s actual name is Narsil, and Narsil is where this correlation really heats up – Narsil means “red and white flame” in Quenya. A sword of red and white flame that belongs to the Dunedain, huh? Yeah, it sounds familiar, since Dawn is a white sword and Lightbringer is said to have burned red. For what it’s worth, Elendil translates to “star lover,” while Isildur translates to “devoted to the moon.” My kind of folks!

It gets better, because as you may recall, Narsil was originally wielded by Elendil against Sauron, who slew Elendil and broke Narsil. His son Isildur then picked up the broken sword and cut the one ring from Sauron’s hand, which destroys his corporeal form and allows Isildur to claim the ring. That’s right, a broken sword, just like the last hero and just like all the broken sword symbolism surrounding Azor Ahai and last hero figures. I don’t know if Dawn was ever broken (dawn is known to break, after all, just about every day…) or if Dawn was ever reforged, but we do see Ned’s Ice split in two. Perhaps most importantly, the tale of the last hero has his first sword breaking from the cold, and then later, he shows up with dragonsteel, implying that he either got a new sword or reforged his old one. As Bowen Marsh says to Jon in ADWD, “A broken sword can be reforged. A broken sword can kill.”

Mural of Isildur and Sauron from the Lord of the Rings movie

Martin even gives a nod to the Isildur story in the form of the tale of Gendel and Gorne:

“Gorne,” said Jon. “Gorne was King-beyond-the-Wall.”

“Aye,” said Ygritte. “Together with his brother Gendel, three thousand years ago. They led a host o’ free folk through the caves, and the Watch was none the wiser. But when they come out, the wolves o’ Winterfell fell upon them.”

“There was a battle,” Jon recalled. “Gorne slew the King in the North, but his son picked up his banner and took the crown from his head, and cut down Gorne in turn.”

It’s notable that the one playing the Isildur role here is a Stark and the King in the North, and that this story is being told to Jon Snow, the special dragonglass snowflake.

So, with all that said, you can surely see the overall correlations which are stacking up. The Dunedain came from fallen Numenor, bringing with them a magic sword of red and white flame. In the new land, this magic sword was broken in a final battle against a dark lord, but was still used to win the battle. House Dayne may have been founded by survivors of the fallen Great Empire of the Dawn, who may have brought with them a magic white sword which may have the ability to catch fire. A Dayne may have become the last hero, whose sword was broken in a final battle against the great enemy – either the Others or Night’s King himself – and yet that sword was either reforged or replaced and still used to win the battle. The correlations continue into the present day story of both universes, as thousands of years later, a descendant of the Dunedain, Aragorn, wields Narsil once again while leading the armies of mankind against the great evil, and in ASOIAF, we find that our two primary manifestations of Azor Ahai reborn who seem destined to fight the Others, Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow, have Dayne blood coursing through their veins. It’s even possible that Jon could get his hands on Dawn.

Original map artwork by J.R.R. Tolkien, composite by Calvin George

There’s another layer to the story of the Edain and Numenor which George is drawing from as well, because before the Edain came to the island of Numenor, they actually lived in kingdoms in the lost land of Beleriand, where most of the events of the Silmarillion take place (Beleriand actually adjoins the current lands of Middle Earth, just to the west of the current coastline). The Edain are essentially the kingdoms of men who stayed loyal to the elves and did not worship Morgoth (who is Sauron’s evil predecessor), and who fought alongside the elves against Morgoth during the great wars. Even though the elves and the Edain were victorious, the violence was so great that most of Beleriand sunk beneath the sea (it was actually the slaying of a huge dragon, Ancalagon, that caused the land to sink). In any case, the Valar (the gods, essentially) rewarded the Edain for their loyalty and raised the island of Numenor from the sea, far the west. Numenor was also called Westernesse or Elenna, which means ‘Starwards.’ Numenor is actually shaped like a five-pointed star, with Mt. Meneltarma (Pillar of Heaven) in the middle. Tolkien conceived of his tales as having existed in the ancient past of earth, and placed Middle Earth approximately in line with Europe, which places Numenor in the Atlantic Ocean, where Atlantis was supposed to have existed.

Another side note – you may have noticed the word Valar, the name of the gods. I mean, Valar Targaryen and Valar Morghulis, and oh-by-the-way Morghulis comes from Minas Morgul, the city of the wring wraiths. Minas Morgul is used to be called Minis Ithil, the city of the moon, before it was corrupted (in now radiates a pale “corpse light,” a phrase we recognize as one borrowed by George R. R. Martin). So, Valar Morghulis, translated into Tolkien language, actually means “the gods of the corrupted, corpse-like moon city” – how do you like that? This is one of several Tolkenic ideas which may have inspired Martin’s ideas about a corrupted and fallen moon.

Here comes the heavy parallels to House Dayne: to find Numenor, the Edain, led by Earendell (the same guy who slew the dragon Ancalagon) sailed westwards, following Venus, which Tolkien calls “The Star of Earendil.” If they followed a Venus-analog west, that means it would have been in its Evenstar position, when it appears to fall from the heavens at sunset and sink into the horizon. Hmm, that sounds familiar – like the Daynes, they followed a falling star to reach their new homeland… which was in the shape of a star. It’s possible this is the sense in which the Daynes followed a falling star to their new land – it might simply be a fancy way to say “they sailed west, and they like Venus.

As you can see, the overall Morningstar symbolism of the Edain-turned-Dunedain and their star-shaped isle Numenor is rather overwhelming, and that’s before we start reading off some of the kings of Numenor:

  • Tar-Anárion (‘Son of the Sun,’ another name for the Morningstar),
  • Tar-Meneldur (‘Servant of Heavens’),
  • Queen Tar-Ancalimë (‘Radiance’ or ‘The Most Bright’) and King Tar-Ancalimon (‘The Most Bright’),
  • Tar-Anducal (‘Lord of Light’)(really) he was a usurper by the way
  • Tar-Calmacil (‘Sword of Light,’ ‘Light-sword’),
  • Ar-Gimilzôr (‘The Star-flame’)(hello, Samwell “Starfire” Dayne)
  • Ar-Pharazon Tar-Calion, (Pharazon means The Golden, Calion means Son of Light).

The first King of Numenor was Elros, the half-elven son of Earendil himself and brother of Elrond, who’d become the Master of Rivendell. Elrond, Elros… Elric. Just saying. Blue Tiger also made a bullet-point list of all the specific correlations between Numenor and the Great Empire of the Dawn, check this out:

  • The first rulers live for centuries, then the average life length declines
  • They grow wicked, rebel against the gods
  • A woman is supposed to inherit the throne, but an ambitious family member usurps the throne and forces her to marry him (the Amethyst Empress was usurped by her brother the Bloodstone Emperor, and Queen Tar-Miriel was usurped by her cousin, Ar-Pharazon the Golden, who caused the downfall of Numenor and therefore equates very well to the Bloodstone Emperor)
  • The Usurped Queen has a name connected with gemstones (Miriel = Jewel Daughter; Amethyst Empress) and silver hair associations too, because Tar-Miriel was named after the elf queen Miriel, the uniquely silver-haired mother of Feanor, who might be the most Azor Ahai-like of anyone in the Silmarillion being a smith whose spirit was so fiery that his corpse self-combusted upon his death. Feanor made the Palantiri, the seeing stones such as possessed by Saruman in The Lord of the Rings.
  • the GeoDawnians and Numenoreans turn evil, and their king becomes a necromancer (although the Bloodstone Emperor figure in Numenor is actually two people, Ar Pharazon and Sauron, with Sauron the necromancer ruling through Al Pharazon)
  • a great cataclysm wiped out their civilization, but some faithful survived (Elendil & the Dunedain, Daynes & Hightowers) and some evildoers survived as well (Valyrians? Azor Ahai? Men of the Shadowlands?)

Thanks once again to Blue Tiger for digging up these correlations, and one day if you are lucky I will sit down with him and do a whole episode on Lord of the Rings / ASOIAF correlations… let me know how interested you guys are in something like that.

In any case, I’ve included this info here not only as a way to add evidence to the “Daynes come from the Great Empire of the Dawn” theory, but also to show that House Dayne has even more connections to the last hero and his sword of dragonsteel that would first appear. What I mean by that is this: the Daynes, along with their neighbors, the Hightowers, sure seem like George’s version of the Dunedain, with both Dayne and Dunedain being heavily, heavily based on Venus mythology. And what else is based on Venus-related ideas? The last hero and Lightbringer of course, and the symbolism of both the last hero and House Dayne sure seems to draw a lot from the famous magic sword of the leader of the Dunedain, Narsil, the sword of red and white flame which was broken and reforged. All of this is quite suggestive of a Dayne last hero, with Dawn as his sword of Dragonsteel which may have also been remembered as Lightbringer… or perhaps some of twist or inversion of that idea.

Setting the Lord of the Rings angle aside, we were of course already well familiar with the Morningstar symbolism of House Dayne, Dawn, and the Sword of the Morning title. It’s always been apparent that that kind of symbolism could be read as applying to the ending of the Long Night, and it’s very similar to the language of the Night’s Watch oaths of being “the sword in the darkness” and “the light that brings the Dawn.”

It’s interesting because the Sword of the Morning is Dawn, which is a white sword, while the Night’s Watch wear black and pronounce themselves the “swords in the darkness” and their ideal weapons are always black – either dragonglass or Valyrian steel. Yet despite the color difference, the symbolism of the Night’s Watch and everything related to the Sword of the Morning and Dawn are virtually identical, and that’s because the Night’s Watch symbolism also flows from Venus mythology (and if you’re foggy on that, check out Bloodstone Compendium 6: Lucifer means Lightbringer).

With all the Morningstar symbolism shared by Dawn, the Sword of the Morning, the Night’s Watch, and Lightbringer, it really would make a ton of sense if Dawn is the dragonsteel of the last hero story – and that’s why it has always been a popular theory in the fandom. That’s right – long before I made the connection that thousands of dragons coming from a cracked moon were probably meteor dragons, some clever people somewhere had already put together the idea that any sword made from a meteor could be considered “dragonsteel” in a very real sense. A meteorite, which can contain a ready made steel alloy (that is, iron that contains a bit of nickel or phosphorus), would also begin to explain the presence of an advanced sword in ancient, pre-Andal invasion Westeros, which is another thing that has made the theory popular.

I know I have proposed that Dawn was the original Ice of House Stark – and I do believe that to be the case – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it came from the north, only that it was used by a Stark hero of old and that it started the tradition of the Starks naming their swords Ice. It certainly may have come from the North, and we are going to talk about that more in a minute, but the other credible origin theory about Dawn is that it came from the Great Empire of the Dawn in the hands of the first Dayne settlers, which would of course fit the correlation with the Dunedain bringing Narsil with them when they fled Numenor. As my friend Durran Durrandon first noticed, a glowing white sword like Dawn is a potential match for the “swords of pale fire” held in the hands of the gemstone emperors in Dany’s wake the dragon dream in AGOT. The Great Empire of the Dawn were supposedly a very advanced civilization, and in control of dragons for a least some part of their history, so they also provide a logical answer to the question of who would have been able to forge a sword like Dawn, which the maesters describe as being like white Valyrian steel. It’s possible they didn’t bring Dawn from their former homeland, but simply the metallurgical and magical knowledge needed to forge it, which they may have then done in Westeros.

If Dawn’s origins do lie with the Great Empire of the Dawn, then perhaps it was only used the one time by a Stark when he was in fire need of help against the Others – think of Arthur Dayne at the Tower of Joy as “loaning” the sword to Ned, ha ha. A better correlation might actually lie in the future, if circumstances lead to Jon “borrowing” Dawn from House Dayne for the final battle. Like I said, Jon does have some ancient Dayne blood, passed down from Egg’s mother, Dyanna Dayne, so maybe it won’t even be a loan, but it would still read that way – the Daynes as keepers of Dawn who give it to Stark when dire needs arises.

There’s a decent bit of evidence that the dragonlord settlers from the Great Empire of the Dawn who built the Battle Isle fused stone fortress had communication with the children of the forest when they came to Westeros – it may have even been the point of coming – so perhaps the children somehow facilitated a transfer of Dawn to the last hero after he broke his first sword. Perhaps that was part of the help which the children gave to the last hero and the Night’s Watch – they gave the men of the watch dragonglass, and they gave their leader milkglass, ha ha. When our hypothetical Stark last hero was done with his big white sword, perhaps he returned it to the Daynes, as Ned – who is an Eldric figure, remember – returned Dawn to Starfall after the Tower of Joy. After the battle was won and the sword returned, perhaps the Starks simply started a tradition of calling their swords ‘Ice’ in remembrance of the big white glowing sword that could withstand the cold.

As much as I like that theory, and as neat and tidy as it seems (I mean, Dawn, Great Empire of the Dawn, right?), there is a strong case to be made that Dawn’s origins do lie in the North, and that it does possess a more tangible connection to ice magic and the Others and ancient Starks. This will lead us into the Stark connections to the last hero mythology, so it’s time for a witty new section title.

The Sword of Mourning

This section is brought to you by the Sacred Order of the Black Hand: Ser Dale the Winged Fist, the last scion of House Mudd and captain of the dread ship Black Squirrel; Ser Stoyles of Long Branch, Seeker of Paleblood; Mallory Sand, Storm Witch, Rider of Zulfric the Black Beast; Mattias Mormont, the Sea-Goat of the Bottomless Depths; Count Magpie the Rude, the dinky giant, Hornblower of the Oslofjord; The Lady of Stellar Reason and Maleficence; and Lord Brandon Brewer of Castle Blackrune, Sworn Ale-smith to House Stark, Grand Master of the Zythomancers’ Guild, and Keeper of the Buzz 

A “northern origin for Dawn” scenario would still have Dawn as the dragonsteel of the last hero, but would imply Dawn as something more like ‘ice dragon steel,’ which would fit the symbolism we’ve seen so far. We spent the first couple of Moons of Ice and Fire episodes talking a lot about Dawn’s symbolic status as an icy sword, and about how the curtain of light which guards the heart of winter is actually the aurora borealis, which translates to “dawn of the north”;  but there’s actually a very logical argument for dragonsteel being a sword of northern origin that lies in the details of the last hero legend. Consider the sword component of the last hero story:

“So as cold and death filled the earth, the last hero determined to seek out the children, in the hopes that their ancient magics could win back what the armies of men had lost. He set out into the dead lands with a sword, a horse, a dog, and a dozen companions. For years he searched, until he despaired of ever finding the children of the forest in their secret cities. 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—”

“Other Riding a Giant Ice Spider” by Marc Simonetti

So, he goes north – into the dead lands – to seek the children, eventually his first sword breaks from the cold while he’s fleeing the Others. As for what happens next, both Old Nan and the maesters say that the last hero received some kind of help from the children of the forest, and then shows up at the final battle with his sword of dragonsteel, slaying the Others, chasing the shadows, and bringing the dawn. Point being, it kinda seems like he gets his new dragonsteel sword in the north, right? He’s already in the north when his sword breaks, and then gets help from the children, whom he went north to find. Ergo, he must have acquired his dragonsteel in the North – and if Dawn is the original Ice of House Stark, and perhaps even associated with ice magic in some way, you can see how this starts to come together.

Perhaps the Dawn story is only partly right – perhaps Dawn was made from a white meteor, but one which fell not at Starfall, but in the Heart of Winter or somewhere else in the far north. Perhaps Dawn was even forged at Winterfell, who knows – maybe Ned dipping Ice into the cold black pond is actually a reenactment of our heroic Stark tempering a newly forged sword in icy water. We can speculate all day, but the point is that dragonsteel seems to come from the north, dragonsteel might be Dawn, and Dawn might have been the original Ice.

An alternate scenario which sort of blends the two origin possibilities for Dawn would be the last hero setting out with a sword brought over from the Great Empire of the Dawn, with that sword breaking and then being reforged in the North – perhaps our icy Stark child stolen from the Others used ice magic to do some sort of “cold forging” process involving burning cold blue starfire, but that’s probably a little too fun and high-fantasy of an idea. One can dream though.

Now as for the Starks and their connections to the last hero, well, it begins with obvious narrative sense: the Starks are essentially the protagonist of the story, the home team if you will. It seems counter-intuitive in the extreme to think that the last hero wasn’t tied to the Starks in some meaningful way. Bran and Jon are generally regarded as the two people who seem like modern day incarnations of the last hero archetype, and I would agree. As Brynden BFish and Poor Quentyn discussed recently on their new NotaCast podcast, which everyone should listen to if they don’t already, the primary duty of the “Stark in Winterfell” is to set out in their oft-repeated house words, Winter is Coming, and reinforced by the slogan of the collective north, the north remembers. There is always to be a Stark in Winterfell, and he must always remember that Winter is Coming, capital W and capital C (and of course we are talking about the Others here). It’s the same role as the Night’s Watch and the last hero – defending the realm of the living against the Others – and of course the Starks are closely tied to the Watch as well. All of this points toward a Stark last hero.

If the icy origins of House Stark theory that we began to lay out in the last episode is true, then the Starks would descend from Azor Ahai’s child by the Night’s Queen. As we have seen, the last hero seems to be either this rescued Night’s King baby or the one who rescues the baby, and either scenario places the Starks right in the thick of things. Old Nan says that Night’s King himself was a Stark, and although my theory tortures that a bit by saying Night’s King was a frozen dragonlord whose stolen baby became a Stark, I still consider Night’s King a Stark in a sense.

Alternately, if it was Azor Ahai’s child with Nissa Nissa who became the Night’s King, that person may have had a normal child before giving his seed to Night’s Queen, with that normal child perhaps founding House Dayne and the rescued Night’s King baby founding the Winterfell Starks. This would make the Houses of Stark and Dayne something like cousins or long lost brothers, which would fit the symbolism we’ve seen so far. And hey, if you like anagrams, you can cut the the words Dayne and Stark in half and swap them around and get Dark Stayne, such as the dark stain was left on Azor Ahai’s honor when he slew his wife and broke the moon. Better wordplay may be found by chopping the ends off of both words, which leaves “Day Star,” which is a name for Venus. Eldric Shadowchaser is the Dayne-Stark, and the Day Star.

The Daynes have Dawn, which could be the original Ice, and the Starks have a magic sword too, which is the most recent sword to be called Ice. Smoke-dark Ice, with its dark glow, is the most thematically central Valyrian steel sword in the books, and with the possible exception of Dawn, Ice is probably the most important Lightbringer symbol of any sword in the book, as I have written about extensively. Although is Ice is actually very dark grey, it can be considered a black sword because it was carried by a Lord of Winterfell named Barthogen Stark, who was known as Barth Blacksword (and who was the brother of Elric Stark). Thus, Ice can be thought of as “Black Ice,” and this is a symbol which in my opinion also refers to dragonglass, which is black frozen fire. Both forms of black ice – Valyrian steel and dragonglass – kill the Others.

A couple of episodes ago, we even looked at the Ser Barristan chapter in ADWD that follows immediately after Jon’s death scene, a chapter which opens with a “black dawn.” Then I made a wordplay sandwich about how if Dawn is like white Valyrian steel, then a Valyrian steel sword is like a black Dawn sword, which makes thematic sense as black dawns are what we would have had during the Long Night, when the smoke darkened the skies (and of course Valyrian steel is often described as smoke-dark). I mentioned that if Dawn is the original Ice of House Stark, then it’s a “White Ice” counterpoint to Ned’s current “Black Ice.” This puts in mind of the observation we made a minute ago about the identical Venus-based symbolism of the sword of the morning and the Night’s Watch, despite one being associated with white swords and the other with black.

As you may recall, we’ve been given several direct suggestions that the sword of the morning can be a black sword, and always in a Stark-centric context. Both Jon and Robb have scenes where their swords run with morning light: Robb is sitting enthroned as the King in the North when it happens to him, complete with sword across his lap and direwolf at his side, and Jon has it happen twice in the chapter when he executes Janos Slynt in perfect imitation of his true father, Ned Stark, executing Gared at the opening of the story. Jon also has that cool scene at the Wall with the Sword of the Morning constellation which is loaded with symbolism and seems to tie Jon personally to the idea of the Sword of the Morning.


Red Damascus Oathkeeper from Valyrian Steel

The only other time a sword runs with morning light is when Joffrey holds up Widow’s Wail at the purple Wedding – but of course Widow’s Wail is simply one half of Ned’s Ice, which brings us right back to the Starks owning the “sword of the morning.” There was also some last hero math in that scene if you recall, with a dozen names being shouted out before someone said “Widow’s Wail!” and gained Joffrey’s approval. He even swung it dangerously near a Kingsguard, forcing him to jump back – it was Balon Swann actually, which is just perfect – a Bael-ish Other with the yin-yang symbolism of the House Swann sigil is essentially a Night’s King figure, post icy-transformation, and therefore just the sort of person you’d attack with a black Stark sword running with morning light.

So, on three of the four occasions that a Stark sword runs with morning light, it is a black Valyrian steel sword. The one time it wasn’t Valyrian steel was when Robb sat enthroned as the King in the North – but in that very scene, he was in fact demanding the return of Ned’s Ice. The Stone Kings of Winter he’s imitating have iron longswords placed across their lap – and iron because iron is black, we can see that even the Stark statues wield black swords… at least until they rust away and leave a red stain, implying a red sword! Hopefully I don’t even need to remind you that Ned’s Ice has been reforged into two red and black swords.

‘Lady Stoneheart’
by zippo514 on DeviantArt

Robb was also wearing a replica of the old crown of the Kings of Winter in that scene, which is “an open circlet of hammered bronze incised with the runes of the First Men, surmounted by nine black iron spikes wrought in the shape of longswords.” A bronze crescent moon, with nine black swords – that’s excellent mythical astronomy, since black swords come from moon death, and on a more basic level, I think this kind of clinches the black sword associations of the Starks. They name their people after black swords… their crown has black swords… they use black swords… they’re associated with the Night’s Watch, who are black swords… and yet – they are the only ones whose swords run with morning light.

A Black Sword of the Morning? A Black Dawn sword?

Well as I’ve pointed out, wearing mourning clothes means wearing black (which Cersei says makes one look half-a-corpse). Therefore, the Night’s Watch, the swords in the darkness who wear black and use black weapons, and whose original members may have been half-dead green zombies, can be scene as the black swords of mourning, instead of the white “Sword of the Morning” we all know and love. Martin may have gotten this idea from the cousin of Elric of Melnibone, Dyvim Tvar the dragon master, who wielded that black sword called Mournblade. The spelling even emphasizes mourning, which I’m sure Moorcock did because it was a black sword. It’s similar to naming a sword “Widow’s Wail” or “Orphanmaker” – you’re naming the sword after the wailing and mourning of your foes and their agonized loved ones.

Think about the idea of the Starks and mourning – you may recall that the signature Stark look is a long and melancholy face, and that this look is even matched by the heart tree in the Winterfell godswood, which is also described as having a long and melancholy face. It’s kind of a theme for House Stark – they are melancholy and have lots of reasons to mourn, basically every time a Stark goes south of the Neck. Ravenous Reader has further connected this idea to the Sorrowful Men – the assassins guild which tried to kill Daenerys in Qarth with a Manticore, and to Azor Ahai himself was sorrowful before he slew Nissa Nissa, according to legend – it says “Great was his woe and great was his sorrow then, for he knew what he must do.” If you think about, both Ned and Jon’s arcs have them repeatedly doing things they do not want to doe and feeling anguished about it. I don’t want to go on and on, but the point is that the idea of the Starks as Black Swords of Mourning does indeed fit the theme of their house and it’s main figures.

Martin is making a comment the idea that sometimes you have to do a wrong or dishonorable thing for a noble reason – if you find it necessary to do something like this, even though it’s for a greater good, you do not get excused from paying the price for your sin. That’s what it means to sacrifice your honor to save the day – you accept the dishonor and the punishment for your deed. The Starks and the Night’s Watch, and Coldhands in particular, seem to fit this theme.

Anyway, that’s how you get a black sword of the morning. I mean, I dunno, I don’t write the books, I just happened to notice that the only times when swords run with morning light, they are Stark swords, and they are usually black. All the Stark sword symbolism is black, essentially, just like the Night’s Watch – another group dedicated to ending Long Nights and bringing the dawn.

So, I guess we can say that the Starks have a weird sort of inverted Sword of the Morning symbolism – the symbolism is there, but it’s more black than white. More Evenstar than Morningstar, perhaps. While the Daynes speak of morning and daytime, the Starks are talking about “winter is coming,” which is more akin to sunset and nighttime, especially considering that the winter they are really warning about is the possibility of another Long Night, which is a long winter. As we know, Night’s King was said to be a Stark, which is yet another association with Starks and darkness. Heck, five out of six of their direwolves are called “dark,” the stone of Winterfell and the Stark throne is called dark stone, and the Kings of Winter famously sit their thrones in eternal darkness, the symbolic wardens of Hades and the underworld.

You could almost see the Daynes and Starks as the two sides of the Azor Ahai legacy coin in Westeros, with the Daynes’ symbolism suggesting them as being the bringers of morning, daytime, and light, and the Starks being directly tied to Night’s King, winter, darkness, and the kind of mourning you do for the dead. The Daynes name themselves after the white sword that their greatest warriors carry, and the Starks are simply drenched in black sword symbolism. This white sword / black sword dichotomy is actually really clear at the Tower of Joy. You all remember the line about Dawn being as pale as milkglass and alive with light, but take a look at the swords in the hands of Ned’s group:

Ned’s wraiths moved up beside him, with shadow swords in hand. They were seven against three.

“And now it begins,” said Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. He unsheathed Dawn and held it with both hands. The blade was pale as milkglass, alive with light.

“No,” Ned said with sadness in his voice. “Now it ends.” 

Now it begins – a statement of daytime and dawn. Now it ends – a statement of night time and sunset. The man who likes to say winter is coming might as well have said night is coming, like “eff you, Mr. Sword of the Morning McSunshinepants! Winter is coming, now it ends! Life is PAIN!!!” You’ll also notice Ned’s voice is filled with sadness here – it’s a great example of Ned and Jon always having to do things they hate and being sad, morose, melancholy, and yes, mournful about it.

“The Tower of Joy” by Florian Biege

Of course, as always, everything is inverted, as even though we see these clear daytime and beginning themes with Arthur Dayne, and the exact opposite with Mr. Now it Ends and his grey wraiths, we know that the black clad Night’s Watch are fighting to bring the dawn, and the white shadow Others are the ones who think the Long Night is super awesome and fun. The Tower of Joy is a seven layer cake of symbolism, is what I’m saying, and also, “George Martin likes paradoxes.” Still, we know enough to figure out what is going on here.

Kingsguard symbolize Others, time and time again, and they guard an ice moon queen with an icy white sword (and of course the Kingsguard are themselves white swords from the White Sword Tower). So what about those grey wraiths with “shadowswords” who stand at Ned’s side? Well, we’ve also seen that “shadowsword” term applied to the sword of the shadowbaby that killed Renly, which is implied as a representation of Lightbringer when it is described as “the shadow of a sword that wasn’t there,” meaning’s Stannis’s Lightbringer. This would imply Ned’s wraiths as being similar to shadowbabies wielding dark Lightbringers, which doesn’t appear to make sense – except when we remember that the Night’s Watch are black shadows with black swords who symbolically parallel the shadowbabies.

In addition to this common black sword and black shadow symbolism, the Night’s Watch brothers and the shadowbabies are both symbols of burning black meteors, and there are a pair of quotes from fiery weirwood goddess figures that make the comparison even more plain. First, the Ghost of High Heart dreams of the shadowbaby that murdered Renly, saying “I dreamt I saw a shadow with a burning heart,” and then later Melisandre speaks of the type of men who can battle the Others, saying that they need “true men… whose hearts are fire.” Those would be the Black Brothers she’s alluding to, men who are black shadows… but who need burning hearts. Even better if they have actual burning hearts, like fire wights, heh.

Therefore, we can see Ned’s grey wraiths with shadowswords as stand-ins for the Night’s Watch – which makes sense, because after all, standing opposite Ned’s crew are three Kingsguard, who seem basically designed to symbolize the Others. This is simply another version of the classic showdown – and of course the Stark in Winterfell would lead the Watch.

As a matter of fact… we’ve actually seen the “shadowsword” term applied to Ned’s Ice, when Theon thinks about “the long steel shadow of his greatsword” always lying between them, and perhaps even when Oathkeeper becomes a “grey blur” in Brienne’s hands. Ned’s sword is called smoke-dark, and of course the smoke of the Long Night is what shadowed the land. At the end of the day, we can basically say that the Night’s Watch and the Shadowbabies are also symbolically equivalent to Valyrian steel swords – they all the share the same black sword, black shadow, and black meteor symbolism, with all of those things throwing in a dash of fire. This, to me, is exactly the context in which we should see Ned’s grey wraiths at the Tower of Joy – Ned is essentially leading the Watch against the Others to steal an Other baby and the big white ice sword.

In any case, I say Stark and Dayne could almost represent the light and darkness of the Azor Ahai archetype, because, true to the yin yang message about each side containing an aspect of its opposite, the bright white daytime associations of the Daynes are marred by the likes of the dastardly “Darkstar” Dayne who claims to be “of the night,” and Vorian Dayne, who was called the “Sword of the Evening.” I know – just when it all seemed so clear, so…. black and white. And as I am fond of pointing out, Vorian Dayne the Evening Sword was sent to the Wall  in golden fetters by Nymeria when she conquered Dorne – this sure seems like an important War for the Dawn echo. It seems like a depiction of Azor Ahai – an “evil Dayne,” so to speak – being sent to the Wall to become the Night’s King, or maybe even the last hero.

Although it is not said that Vorian carried Dawn, he is called “the greatest knight in all of Dorne,” as well as “the last king of the Torrentine,” because the Daynes styled themselves as kings before Nymeria came. So, the greatest knight in Dorne, and a King Dayne? Seems like he would have wielded Dawn (and Aziz from Westeor s agreed with me that this seems likely, fwiw) – and if so, he’d be like a Night’s King / Evenstar figure, wielding Dawn, which would be cool. Obviously if he did wield Dawn, he would not have brought it with him to the Wall, but the original event Vorian may be echoing probably would have involved Dawn or some other magic sword going north.

Check out the crew that went to the Wall with Vorian Dayne: Yorick Yrownood, Garrison Fowler, Lucifer Dryland, Benedict Blackmont, and Albin Manwoody. “Yorick” is a name primarily associated with a skull in Hamlet, and Yronwood trees are black trees; House Blackmont gave us the Vulture King and are rumored skinchangers and baby-stealers; and Lucifer Dryland is not only named Lucifer, he is King of the Brimstone and Lord of Hellgate Hall, and the last of his line.  House Manwoody is a metaphor for a dead greenseer going into a weirwood: they hail from Kingsgrave, emblazon their arms with a crowned skull on a black field, and call themselves “man-wood.” Were means “man,” as in “were-wolf,” so a weirwood can be thought of as a man-tree, and obviously they are man-trees. They are the graves of greenseers, who are the kings in the grave.

Point being, this crew is headed to the Night’s Watch. Lucifer Dryland and the Sword of the Evening Dayne and a dead greenseer, plus a house known for sinister skinchanging practices. They’ll make excellent green zombie Night’s Watch brothers, or perhaps we can see all six of these people as having redundant Night’s King symbolism. You don’t send guys like Lucifer somebody and somebody somebody Sword of the Evening to the Wall without grabbing our attention, that’s for sure.

Finally, wrapping up the thread of night-associated, evil Daynes, there’s a Samwell “Starfire” Dayne who sacks and burns Oldtown. Given Oldtown’s white lighthouse tower sigil and “we light the way” house words, you could also interpret Samwell Starfire Dayne as an evil Dayne type who is not a fan of lighting the way, unless its with a bonfire of destruction. Oldtown also represents the flame of knowledge and learning, and burning it is tantamount to extinguishing those things.

Of course, we can’t hear the name Samwell without thinking of our beloved Samwell Tarly, and though his battle prowess probably doesn’t compare well to his Dayne namesake, Sam is nevertheless a Night’s Watch brother who slays Others with dragonglass, slays wights with fire, and who smuggles Other babies through the Nightfort. All Night’s Watchmen symbolize fiery black meteors, so even the starfire monicker fits Sam Tarly in a symbolic sense. In other words, Samwell Dayne is a Dayne with a rescuer name, and that’s noteworthy, because one idea that we have is that the person who rescues the Night’s Queen baby is a Dayne.. Also noteworthy is that both Samwells go to Oldtown – is this foreshadowing that Sam will set some part of Oldtown on fire? The library, perhaps, after stealing all the old books? Maybe George will do a library of Alexandria thing… or more likely, Euron will set things on fire while Sam Tarly is there, doing something heroic like… rescuing books.

More to the point of highlighting the streak of Daynes associated with night and darkness, Samwell Dayne shares a name with a Night’s Watch brother, which conveys black sword and black shadow symbolism on to Sam the Starfire and makes him very comparable to Vorian Dayne, who actually joined the Night’s Watch… so he could be a true sword of the evening until his dying day, I assume. So, Samwell Dayne, Vorian Sword of the Evening Dayne, and Darkstar Dayne. Living ‘in the shadow’ of the Palestone Sword, you might say.

Likewise, the Stark symbolism is not completely one sided; even though the Night’s King is said by Old Nan to be a Stark, most people think the last hero was a Stark too, as we just discussed, and even according to classic legend, Brandon the Breaker Stark was one of the men who ended the rule of Night’s King. If Dawn really was the original Ice, this Stark Last hero may have carried it. All of that business about the Starks being concerned with the Others and the Long Night implies they want to bring the day, despite their dark symbolism.

Just as the ostensibly day-associated Daynes produce the occasional Darkstar or Sword of the Evening, the Starks confound their associations with Night’s King, darkness, and winter by producing the offshoot House Karstark, who are called “white star wolves” due to their white sunburst-on-black sigil. That reminds us of the bright white star in the hilt of the Sword of the Morning constellation, another daytime association. That white sunburst sigil is also called “the sun of winter,” which sounds something like a light in the darkness type of thing, or perhaps a sun that’s gone underground to the “cave of night” as it is said in one of Jon’s wolf dreams.

There’s also a King in the North named “Edwyn the Spring King” Stark which is great because Edwyn is an Eldric variant. as well as expressions of both sides of a dichotomy like “Benjen the Sweet” and “Benjen the Bitter;” Brandon the Shipwright, who built ships, and then Brandon the Burner, who burned ships.

Most of all, the Starks swords are the only ones who get the morning light symbolism, even though all of their sword symbolism is black. In that they are like the Night’s Watch, who are similarly dedicated to bringing the dawn.

The way to look at this situation, like I was saying, is to think of Stark and Dayne as the two sides of the coin that is the Westerosi legacy of Azor Ahai. Both houses manifest both sides of the light and dark, morningstar / evenstar dichotomy, even if each generally favors one side more than the other. That, I think, is why both houses are showing us this Eldric symbolism, and why both are showing us Sword of the Morning symbolism. After all, the Morningstar and Evenstar have opposite behavior, one rising in the morning and one falling in the evening – but they are really just the same star, Venus, alternating between two different positions.

These connections between Stark and Dayne also get us closer to understanding how Dawn could have once been the original Ice of House Stark and then ended up in Dayne hands after the Long Night. We first started discussing this idea in Moons of Ice and Fire 2: Dawn of the Others, when we began looking at Ned bringing Dawn to Starfall after defeating Arthur Dayne at the Tower of Joy as an echo of the past, when the King of Winter brought his white sword to Starfall after the Long Night and left it there, for some reason we haven’t guessed. Since then we’ve done more research and opened up some interesting possibilities regarding the various potential origins for Dawn, but regardless of where and how Dawn was originally forged, I’m still convinced of two basic truths: Dawn is in some sense the original Ice of House Stark, and we are supposed to look at a Stark delivering Dawn to Starfall as an important historical echo.

However, I’m not happy leaving it there, and as we discussed a moment ago, the telling of the last hero story seems to imply that he acquired his dragonsteel sword in the north, which opens up the possibility that Dawn is that dragonsteel sword and that it actually has a northern, icy origin, as the symbolism implies. This would explain why a Stark King of Winter figure would have it to bring  south in the first place. Given that the Kingsguard at the Tower of Joy can symbolize Others, and are in service to a Night’s King figure in Rhaegar, and given that Ned’s shadowsword-armed wraiths seem to represent the Night’s Watch, I find that I cannot see this scene as anything other than a heroic Ned leading the Watch against the Others to steal an Other baby and their big white sword. That might be one of the best clues for a northern origin for Dawn around – Ned claims it from the same place that he claims his Night’s Queen baby.

Personally, I would like the idea of the original Night’s King armed with Dawn, which used to be called Ice. Think again of Vorian Dayne, the Sword of the Evening, who may have wielded Dawn and who was sent to he Wall. And think again of Darkstar, who really seems like he is about to steal or claim Dawn. Here’s the important description of him, from an Arianne chapter of AFFC:

 “I shall remain Darkstar, I think. At least it is mine own.” He unsheathed his longsword, sat upon the lip of the dry well, and began to hone the blade with an oilstone.

Arianne watched him warily. He is highborn enough to make a worthy consort, she thought. Father would question my good sense, but our children would be as beautiful as dragonlords. If there was a handsomer man in Dorne, she did not know him. Ser Gerold Dayne had an aquiline nose, high cheekbones, a strong jaw. He kept his face clean-shaven, but his thick hair fell to his collar like a silver glacier, divided by a streak of midnight black. He has a cruel mouth, though, and a crueler tongue. His eyes seemed black as he sat outlined against the dying sun, sharpening his steel, but she had looked at them from a closer vantage and she knew that they were purple. Dark purple. Dark and angry.

“Darkstar” by Mathia Arkoniel

His hair fell like a silver glacier, divided by a streak of midnight black. Folks, if the dragon locked in ice could be hair, well, this is what it would look like: a streak of darkness locked in a silver glacier. A falling silver glacier, we should not fail to note,  as that’s an ice moon disaster prophecy, I do believe, one of many. Darkstar, who also stands “half in starlight, half in shadow” in this chapter, was also honing his sword with an oilstone, which makes us think of oily black stone and black meteor swords.

So, here is a dark-eyed dragonlord looking dude, but he’s an Evenstar figure who is “of the night,” with dragon locked in ice symbolism in his hair. Sure seems like a Night’s King type to me! And for those who like puns, there does seem to be a running hair / heir pun, one which features prominently in Ned using hair color to figure out that Joffrey was not in fact Robert’s heir. If Darkstar is Night’s King, the dragon locked in ice represent his seed and his soul – and his seed would be his heir. And look, right there in his hair – a streak of darkness locked in a silver glacier. It’s Darkstar’s seed… which would look like a dragonlord, according to Arianne, but would be locked in that glacier.

I believe I’ve made my point.

And so, if we see Darkstar wielding Dawn, or better yet if he eventually becomes part of fAegon Blackfyre’s kingsguard and puts on the white, he’s be a Night’s King figure wielding Dawn, as Vorian Dayne may have been, and he’ll be fighting with alongside his white shadow brothers. I find myself quite attracted to this scenario, as it really clarifies the Tower of Joy symbolism clear – Ned is claiming both the original ice sword and the stolen Other baby from the Others and the Night’s Queen. If Darkstar gets Dawn, we’ll have to see just who comes along and takes it from him, and I’d expect that scene to echo the Tower of Joy if it happens.

To sort of put a bow on all this black and white, Stark and Dayne stuff, I’ll simply point out that Martin, the great defiler of tropes, cannot resist giving us example after example of shining white, spotless-looking Kingsguard knights of noble birth who are in actuality horrible, horrible people. Sandor Clegane’s vulgar commentary on the honor of knights is a actually stunningly clear indictment of this kind of falsehood. Conversely, George shows us the Night’s Watch as an opposite of the Kingsguard – made of the lowborn, outcasts and criminals, wearing cheap and threadbare black rags, and yet possessed of the most important duty in the realm – guarding the realm of men from the Others. They aren’t all perfect by any means, but men like Lord Commander Mormont, Benjen Stark, Donaly Noye, etc., have more honor than anyone we’ve seen in the Kingsguard. Don’t forget the great Gerold Hightower watched mad King Aerys torture Brandon and Rickard Stark, and afterward lectured Jaime on how they are not there to judge. Similarly, Arthur Dayne stood silent and did nothing about Aerys’ wild violations of the feudal contract, and in the end, he, Gerold Hightower, and Oswell Whent were effectively keeping a pregnant and dying Lyanna prisoner in a tower, which is kinda messed up. In my opinion, none of the Kingsgaurd who served Aerys to the end had any honor to speak of.

At the end of the day, the monsters can come in white or black, and in ice or fire. We have white ice demons and demonic black dragons, and we have both black and white swords with symbolism that is suggestive of ending the Long Night. The Daynes and Starks seem to be the epicenter some kind of yin and yang, Morningstar and Evenstar dichotomy of symbolism, one that appears to define the concept of the sword of the morning and the last hero.

And standing there at that crossroads and staring back at us through the mists of centuries and eons is a man named Eldric Shadowchaser.

A special thanks to our Dragon Patron, Bronsterys of lily-white scales and bronze horns, wingbones and spinal crest, a wise old dragon who riddles with sphinxes. Some say that it was Bronsterys who first uttered the phrase “much and more.”

Since we’ve broken out the Lord of the Rings stuff – the Silmarillion, really – I suppose I should mention that the tradition of magical black swords is not only strong with the Starks and Targaryens, and with Elric and his friends from Melnibone. That’s right, not only does the Silmarillion give us white and red flaming swords wielded by people who sound like Daynes, it also has a strong helping of black meteor swords with magical properties! There was actually a pair of black meteor swords, and they sound a damn lot like my theory about Azor Ahai’s “dark Lightbringer” being a black sword made from the same black meteorite spoken of in the Bloodstone Emperor myth. They were forged by the dark elf Eöl, and they were named Anguirel (“Iron of the Eternal Star”) and Anglachel (“Iron of the Flaming Star”). That’s somewhat reminiscent of Widow’s Wail and Oathkeeper, I would think, or perhaps Blackfyre and Dark Sister. Like Valyrian steel, these black swords were well-nigh unbreakable and could shatter any terrestrial steel swords.

Anglachel in particular is worth noting, as it is said to be a sentient sword, much like Eldric of Melnibone’s Stormbringer or like Lightbringer being infused with Nissa Nissa’s soul and spirit. Anglachel (seriously, that’s a great name for a metal band) was even reforged and renamed Gurthang, which means “Iron of Death,” and was used to kill Glaurung, the first and most magical dragon of Tolkien’s universe who, according to Tolkien, sired the rest of dragonkind. The most important wielder of Anglachel, an elf named Turin [EDIT – Turin is a man who was considered elf-like, but was not an elf] became known as “Mormegil, the Blacksword of Nargothrond” after Anglachel was reforged and named Gurthang. I don’t need to tell you that may be the origin of Barth Blacksword’s nickname, though the Eldric tales use the blacksword term as well.

Eöl, the dark elf who forged Anglachel and Anguirel, has a sort of familiar family drama going on – he takes an elven wife against custom Reminding us of Azor Ahai taking a child of the forest wife) and prevents her and her son Maeglin from leaving his wood… which they eventually do anyway, when Maeglin was twelve, stealing Anguirel as they left… which reminds me of the time when Maegor the Cruel was about to die, and Queen Rhaena fled Kings Landing, stealing Blackfyre for her son Jaehaerys to wield.

They fled to elven court and were followed by Eöl, whom the Eleven king ended up executing by throwing him off the cliffs of Gondolin – but not before he cursed his son Maeglin to die the same way. He also killed his wife, Aredhel, when she stepped in front of a thrown spear meant for Maeglin (shades of Azor Ahai killing Nissa Nissa with Lightbringer there for sure).

Maeglin – like Maegor the cruel – is remembered as the most evil elf ever, for he alone willingly served Morgoth and eventually betrayed Gondolin. He was thrown from the walls of the city during combat, as the curse promised, and overall I’d say the idea of a cursed black sword comes through pretty strong here. The other black meteor sword, Anglachel-turned-Gurthang, was involved in a tragic story involving a friend stabbing another friend by accident, then committing suicide – Gurthang was even said to “mourn” over the slaying of Beleg at the hand of his friend Túrin, making it a black sword of mourning or a black “Mourneblade.” Again we have to think of Elric’s cursed Stormbringer and the notion of Lightbringer as an evil black weapon that drinks the blood of those it slays. Ned was even slain by his own “Black Ice” sword, which is reminiscent of Túrin being slain by his own black sword, Gurthang (though Túrin committed suicide and Ned did not).

Alright my fine friends, it’s time for me to say “now it ends.” But only for three days, as I’ll be back in three days with Blood of the Other 3: Eldric Shadowchaser. Then we’ll have our livestream a week after that on Saturday April 7th, at 3:00 EST, so send in your questions and I’ll see you there.

See you in three days…