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

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

Now in PODCAST form!

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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

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

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

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

Now in PODCAST form!

Click to open in iTunes

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.

Thanks to all of our Patreon supporters, and if you want to join the starry host and get a nickname too, click the Patreon tab above and we will get you a fancy nickname with all speed!

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

This section is sponsored by three of our stalwart Zodiac Patrons: The child of the forest known as FeatherCrow, the Weircat Dryad, earthly avatar of Heavenly House Capricorn; Searing Abyss, Tavernkeep of the Winespring Inn, Server of Crowfood, earthly avatar of Heavenly House Cancer; and BlueRaven of the Lightning Peck, earthly avatar of Heavenly House Gemini, whose words are “the way must be tried”

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

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

Now in PODCAST form!

Click to open in iTunes

Storm-bringer, Shadow-chaser

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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

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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…




A Baelful Bard and a Promised Prince

Hey there friends, patrons, and fellow Mythical Astronomers! It’s your starry host, LmL, and we are ready to get this party started! I hope you enjoyed the prelude to a chill, and I hope I haven’t destroyed your image of me with that unexpected discussion of logistics and plausibility and the timeline. Similarly, I hope that last musical adventure into outer space at the end the last podcast didn’t give any of you bad dreams about visitors from other dimensions, because I would feel terrible if that was the case. That’s just what happens when the moment is right and I have a lot of effects pedals at my disposal, as I usually do.

In any case, we are pretty much ready to hit the ground running with this episode, so let me say thanks to George R. R. Martin for writing such wonderful books, and thanks to Patreon sponsors of Mythical Astronomy for keeping the starry lights on. Thanks very much Crowfood’s Daughter, who supplied many hat-tips for this episode. She’s been writing great ASOIAF analaysis for a while now, and she just started her YouTube channel, The Disputed Lands! Check it out there. 

I’d like to give an extra special thanks to our Long Night’s Watch patrons, who are filling out the Watch very nicely. We need twelve volunteers to become green zombies before the cold winds of winter arrive, and we have five so far. Just listen to these titles – these are the folks you need at your side to journey into the cold dead. Charon Ice-Eyes, Dread Ferryman of the North, Wielder of the Staff of the Old Gods, a weirwood staff banded in Valyrian steel. Ser Cletus Yronwood Reborn of the Never-Lazy Eye, wrestler of bulls and slayer of the white mists. Stepping up from the priesthood of Starry Wisdom, it’s Cinxia, Frozen Fire Queen of the Summer Snows and Burner of Winter’s Wick. The same goes for Antonius the Conspirator, the Red Right Hand of R’hllor, Knower of the Unknowable, Dispenser of Final Justice, who’s boosted his support to join the Watch (thanks so much guys!) Finally, our newcomer – Garth Bluemoon, the Mazemaker, he who strides the river of time. If you’d like to join the Watch or any other Patron level, just go to, which is also where you can find the matching text to this podcast.

Without further adieu…

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

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

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The One That Got Away

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At the end of the prelude to this series, I raised the question of historical parallels in regards to Gilly’s babe, the child known as Monster who was intended to be given to the Others but wasn’t. Gilly is a symbolic parallel of the Night’s Queen, giving her sons to the wood to be transformed into Others or used to create Others in some way, so doesn’t the example of her escaped child suggest that one of the children of Night’s King and Queen similarly might not have been turned into an Other, but instead rescued? That seems like it might be important, right? We’ve identified both Night’s King and Night’s Queen as magical beings, so any child of theirs might be a magical being as well, and directly tied to the Others… a kind of brother to the Others, which kind of matches Jon’s symbolism…

Before we get carried away, let’s start with the basic of the potential historical parallel. Consider what happens with Gilly and Monster. One of the big clues that Sam and Gilly are echoing the rescue of a Night’s King and Queen baby is that Sam and Gilly smuggle baby Monster south through the Black Gate at the Nightfort, the very seat of Night’s King. That’s a bit on-the-nose, isn’t it? Stealing a baby meant to be an Other using the Nightfort? When you think about it, there are really two main things that come from the Craster and Gilly storyline: the mutiny and murder of Lord Commander Mormont, and the rescue of Gilly and her babe by Sam, with an assist from Coldhands and the ravens. Baby Monster continues to play a role in the storyline, and quite honestly, his rescue – stealing a baby from the Others and a Night’s King figure – is just too major of an event not to be a historical parallel.

Here’s where all the research into R+L=J and the general moons of ice and fire pattern of a solar king or dark solar king with two moon wives comes in handy. These mythical astronomy templates serve as a great way to organize the various echoes of historical archetypes and events. Gilly is a Night’s Queen who has one son that is “rescued,” if you will, and of course if we want to know if this really happened with the original Night’s Queen and King, all we have to do is look to our other Night’s Queen and King figures. Rhaegar and Lyanna are the most important; do they have a son who is rescued by any chance?

Oh yes, It’s Jon Snow of course, whose symbolism already places him as a weird kind of brother to the Others. Here lies the answer to the riddle I left you with at the end of the RLJ episode: if Jon is a child of a symbolic dark solar king and an ice moon queen, just as the Others are, why isn’t his symbolism identical to that of the Others? Why is Jon more like a ‘good Other’ or ‘black Other’? Why does Jon have that black ice armor, like an inversion of the transparent ice armor of the Others, and why is he the one who is singularly dedicated to fighting the Others? It’s because he’s a parallel to this “one that got away,” I think, the child of Night’s King and Queen who wasn’t turned into an Other. This child would be a brother to the Others, as Gilly’s Monster is, but different as well. That fits Jon’s symbolism perfectly, and again – Jon was stolen at birth, or perhaps we might say ‘rescued.’ Ned had to disguise his parentage to save him from the wrath of Robert Baratheon, who was, at the time, making a strong effort to exterminate House Targaryen and secure his hold on the iron throne.

Now think about the scene at the Tower of Joy again in this context. Take a deep breath; this is going to be some shit. Since the Kingsguard can be used to symbolize the Others and since Lyanna is a Night’s Queen figure, we could absolutely see Ned at the Tower of Joy as a Stark commando stealing a Night’s Queen baby from the Others! I mean holy hell, Batman, think about it! Here’s a heroic Stark, fighting symbolic Others and taking home a child of a Night’s King and Queen! Taking him home, and…

…raising him as a Stark. I mean, his name is Snow and not Stark, but Ned claims him as his son, and of course many things suggest Jon as a true Stark, from Robb’s will naming him his heir to Stannis’s offer to name him Jon Stark, Lord of Winterfell, to his overwhelming King of Winter symbolism that we discussed in the Green Zombies series. So if Jon symbolizes a rescued Night’s Queen baby, and he’s raised in Winterfell as part of the Stark family and eventually becomes Lord of Winterfell… uh… doesn’t that suggest that this hypothetical escaped Night’s Queen baby may have been raised as a Stark?

This would mean that all of the Winterfell Starks since the Long Night might descend from Night’s King and Queen.

“It’s good to see that frozen face of yours, Ned!”

If this theory about the origins of House Stark tracing to a Night’s King baby is true, then this is one of the major things being hinted at at the Tower of Joy scene. This may well be the reason why the Tower of Joy has been presented to us as this defining, pivotal scene – it’s actually showing us the origins of House Stark!

Now I can’t actually claim to have thought of this one completely on my own – the idea of the Starks being the family associated with ice as an opposite to House Targaryen and the Valyrians before them is readily apparent to everyone, and the idea of the Starks having an actual link to ice magic through a child of Night’s King and Queen is an old idea which has been floating around on the margins of the fandom for a long time. Gilly’s baby plants the notion of baby saved from the Others in the mind of the reader, and it’s fairly logical to wonder if this could be part of the link between Stark and Other.

Here’s the thing: whomever made this connection initially would have done it primarily on intuition. It’s not too hard to draw a comparison between Craster and Night’s King both “sacrificing to the Others,” and thus begin to see Gilly’s babe as an escaped Other child, but they wouldn’t have known to compare Lyanna and Rhaegar to Night’s King and Queen and thus would not have realized that Jon represents an escaped Other baby as well – and that’s the big clue that the stolen Other baby became a Stark of Winterfell.

But we have the advantage of mythical astronomy to guide us and help us identify multiple examples of the ice queen archetype, so we can see that in fact, both Gilly and Lyanna parallel Night’s Queen, and that both have their sons “rescued.” It was when I noticed this that I remembered the theory about House Stark being tied to a child Night’s King and Queen, and I realized it must be true. Symbolically, Jon “Snow” represents a rescued child of Night’s King and Queen, a prince that was promised to the Others but was never delivered.

The parallels go much further, as always. As-always. Consider the various plans for Gilly’s baby Monster. Sam’s first plan is to pass off Gilly’s baby as his own bastard and send Gilly and Monster along to his family at Horn Hill. This creates the possibility that this would-be Other baby could eventually become the Lord of Horn Hill, should something unfortunate happen to Dickon Tarkly, Sam’s brother (after all, Dickon is fond of hunting, and as Cersei says, the woods are the abattoir of the gods).

So what we have here is a Night’s Watch brother, stealing a Night Queen would-be Other baby at the Nightfort and instead setting him up to take over his house, one of the oldest First Men houses in Westeros. House Tarly would seem to be standing in for House Stark, and thereby pointing us back to the idea of a truly cold origin for the Winterfell Starks. The fact that Sam swears his oaths to the heart tree with Jon, in the traditional way of the ancient First Men, enhances this image of Sam as an original Night’s Watchmen and a placeholder for a Stark, as does his ability to pass through the black gate by reciting the older, stripped down version of the Night’s Watch oath. It’s worth noting that Sam and Ned would be playing the same rescuer role – Sam at the Nightfort with Gilly’s babe and Ned with Jon at the Tower of Joy. Coldhands can probably be put in this category too, and as a green zombie Night’s Watchmen himself, he definitely seems like a throwback to the original Night’s Watch. Heck, there’s a chance Coldhands IS one of the original Night’s Watch, as I mentioned in the Sacred Order of Green Zombies series.

Another plan to safeguard baby Monster makes the parallel to an Other baby raised as a Stark even more apparent. It comes from Jon’s imagination when he considers Stannis’s offer to make him Jon Stark, Lord of Winterfell. To take the offer, Jon would have to marry Val, which Jon thinks, you know, wouldn’t be so bad (chuckle), even though he’d rather marry Ygitte, who is dead at this point in the story. Thinking of Val, he says to himself:

I would need to steal her if I wanted her love, but she might give me children. I might someday hold a son of my own blood in my arms. A son was something Jon Snow had never dared dream of, since he decided to live his life on the Wall. I could name him Robb. Val would want to keep her sister’s son, but we could foster him at Winterfell, and Gilly’s boy as well. Sam would never need to tell his lie. We’d find a place for Gilly too, and Sam could come visit her once a year or so. Mance’s son and Craster’s would grow up brothers, as I once did with Robb.

This quote is great because it has Jon doing a Night’s King routine by marrying a Night’s Queen figure, Val, and having Stark children with her; and simultaneously, he’s imagining taking in another Night’s Queen figure and her baby, Gilly and Monster, and taking them back to Winterfell as well! Jon them compares himself growing up as a brother to the Starks to Monster and Mance’s son growing up as brothers at Winterfell. You don’t even need any metaphors or symbolism here: this plan literally involves a baby stolen from the Others being raised at Winterfell, and then directly compares that plan to Jon being taken from his mother and raised at Winterfell. It’s pretty strong evidence in support of the “icy origins of House Stark” hypothesis.

If Jon had taken Stannis up on his offer to become the Lord of Winterfell, it would have been Jon’s genes (Jon and Val’s genes, that is, a.k.a. JonValJon) that established the future line of House Stark, and this is what I think happened to House Stark in the beginning. The idea of Night’s King and Queen genetics being slipped into House Stark is doubly implied here, actually, with two generations of Night’s King and Queen pairings going into this proposed takeover of House Stark; first Rhaegar and Lyanna, then Jon and Val. The fact that Stannis, a Night’s King figure at the Wall, wants to make Jon Snow the stolen Other baby the Lord of Winterfell is yet another echo of the pattern! Credit for that find goes to one of our Mythical Astronomy patrons – appropriately, it’s our Guardian of the Celestial Ice Dragon, Nienna the Wise, the Persephoenix, whose words are “from sorrow, wisdom.”

I think the icy origins of House Stark hypothesis explains a lot of things, especially in terms of the themes of the story. It’s not just Jon who is like a good Other or inverted Other – the same could be said for House Stark as a whole. As I alluded to in the intro, the Starks parallel the Others as ice-eyed, snow-bearded Kings of Winter who wield “Ice swords,” and yet they oppose the Others, just as Jon does. The reason might be the same – it’s their possible descent from this Other baby that got away. As you might have guessed, it seems very possible that this escaped Other baby may have been the last hero, although it’s also possible the rescuer figure (represented by Sam and Ned, and even Coldhands) is the last hero. Perhaps we are seeing him taking a Night’s Queen baby home as a souvenir after Night’s King is defeated. We’ll come back to that in a moment.

Let’s think about this theory in terms of magical bloodlines, and within the context of all the evidence that points to Night’s King having been a blood of the dragon person – either Azor Ahai or his descendant. If Night’s King was a dragon person like Rhaegar, and the Starks descend from a son of Night’s King, would that make the Starks blood of the dragon people? More secret Valyrians? That would be blasphemy, right? Well, for all intents and purposes, the answer is no. So don’t throw down your headphones or flip any tables on me here!

Think about it like this: the fiery dragon genes of evil Azor Ahai as the Night’s King are frozen in the icy womb of the Night’s Queen – that’s something we saw depicted over and over with all the shivering flame and fires turning cold at Night’s Queen weddings like that of Alys Karstark or Jeyne Poole. When these formerly blood-of-the-dragon babies come out of the cold womb of Night’s Queen, I believe the affinity for fire that can be expressed by blood of the dragon people would have been flipped, and these Night’s Queen babies would have had an affinity for ice, in a way beyond what Gilly’s babe might possess, since Gilly is a normal human being and not an ice priestess or whatever Night’s Queen was.

However, I don’t think Night’s Queen was giving birth to full-grown Others; I suspect that just as Gilly’s babes are somehow transformed or used to make Others, there must have had a second step to the process of making Others from the cold babies of the Night’s Queen and King. Otherwise, this theory wouldn’t make sense at all – if Nigh’ts Queen as popping out full grown Others from her womb, there would be no way to steal one and make it a flesh-and-blood Stark. Rather, I imagine these cold Night’s Queen babies as having a natural affinity for ice magic in their blood that can be activated and awakened, just as Bran’s blood makes him a greenseer, but the weirwood paste and tree-bonding are necessary to awaken his gifts.

So, for all intents and purposes, a Night’s Queen baby wouldn’t really be ‘blood of the dragon’ anymore. If one of those cold children avoided his fate of becoming an Other and instead became the Lord of Winterfell, he might, if anything, be able to pass down this affinity for ice magic to his Stark descendants. Call it “the blood of the ice dragon,” or better yet, “the blood of the Other.” It makes sense, right? The Targaryens are the blood of the dragon, and the Starks are the blood of the Other! This natural symmetry is one of the things which has always made some version of this “icy origins of House Stark” theory attractive, and again I will say that it resonates with the theme of the Starks, who from the beginning seem tied to the Others. Just to name one example: the prologue of AGOT ends with Waymar being stabbed by a sword of ice… and the next chapter begins with Ned beheading Waymar’s black brother from the same mission, Gared, with Ice.

Polishing off my ancient aliens voice, I’ll pose the question ‘is it possible that…’ this icy Stark Lord, the child of Night’s King and Queen, was the man remembered as Bran the Builder? If an escaped Other baby did have some sort of ability to wield ice magic, this could explain the building of the Wall, right? The Wall is probably not a simple matter of stacking blocks of ice into a really tall wall – there is assuredly magic involved. Ygritte says the Wall was built with blood, so it may have even been blood magic of some kind that was used (which would surprise exactly no one, I think). Bloody or not, is it possible that the magic used to build this giant wall of ice was wielded by this rescued Night’s Queen child?

This begins to address one of the big logical issues with the theories about who built the Wall. The Others are the ones who can do incomprehensible, magical things with ice, so they are the first candidate to consider for ‘builders of the great ice wall,’ but trying to grasp their motive is as slippery as an icy pond. Were they trying to keep men out of their lands? It’s not really necessary, given their ability to raise the dead and given their immunity to everything but dragonglass and probably Valyrian steel. And would the Others really build such a “big, beautiful Wall” and then let the stinking Night’s Watch crawl all over it? Another point to consider is that until recent years, the Night’s Watch ranged freely into the Haunted Forest with no trouble from anyone but wildlings, and of course the wildlings have lived north of the Wall for centuries,  implying that the Others haven’t been super worried about keeping humans out of their territory until just recently. In other words, if the Others built the Wall, there’s a motive we simply can’t fathom at this point.

If the Wall wasn’t built by the Others, and was indeed meant to keep the Others out as advertised, the big mystery is who it would have been, among those fighting for the side of the living, that could manipulate ice with magic? Who could it have been that possessed abilities with ice magic that rival those of the Others, and who would also be motivated to keep the Others out of Westeros proper? Perhaps it was this son of the Night’s Queen – mayhaps his name was Brandon – and mayhaps he used magical abilities inherited from Night’s King and Queen to build the Wall out of ice, either during the Long Night or right after, thereby earning him his nickname of “the builder.” I think most would agree that right after the end of the Long Night is a logical point in the timeline to place the building of the Wall.

For what it’s worth, Mance’s wife Dalla, who seems like a wise character, has this to say about the Wall when Mance mention that many of his people wanted him to blow the Horn of Winter and make the Wall fall:

“But once the Wall is fallen,” Dalla said, “what will stop the Others?”

Mance also explains that his ultimate purpose is to flee the Others and get the wildlings on the south side of the Wall. I think that’s worth considering – the wildlings are the most connected to ancient northern lore such as the children of the forest and the giants, so their opinion counts for something. Mance and Dalla clearly think it’s meant to stop the Others.

Setting aside the question of who built the Wall and why (which we will come back to, have no fear), you can see how this theory about a Night’s Queen baby becoming the ancestor of the Winterfell Starks helps to stitch together the Azor Ahai / dragonlord part of the narrative and the Night’s King / last hero / House Stark side of things. We’ve been following the trail of Azor Ahai from Asshai to Westeros, from Oldtown all the way up to the Wall, wondering how this freight train of dragon symbols would collide with the classic Northern legends of Bran the Builder, last hero, and Night’s King. This rescued Night’s Queen baby theory has the satisfying effect of making Night’s King himself both a dragonlord, as the symbolism suggests (former dragonlord, I guess we might say), but also a Stark, as the narrative demands. Night’s King started off as a dragonlord, but his seed would have founded the modern House Stark – with the important caveat that this seed was transformed when it was given to the Night’s Queen. From the blood of the dragon to blood of the Other.

Alright. Before we move to the next section, I want to mention that there may be one more layer in between true dragonlord blood and House Stark if Night’s King is instead a son of Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa instead of the original moon-breaking Azor Ahai himself. That scenario might go like this: Azor Ahai Sr., let’s call him, he comes to Westeros and has a child with Nissa Nissa sometime before she dies, and that child grows up to become Night’s King, whose son then escapes and becomes the ancestor of the Starks. It seems overwhelmingly likely that Azor Ahai had at least one child with Nissa Nissa, since procreation is probably the most important aspect of the Lightbringer monomyth… so that kid kinda has to turn up somewhere.

Those who have read or listened to my Weirwood Goddess series know that there are many clues about Nissa Nissa being an elf woman of some sort: either a child of the forest or a human-child hybrid. In this case, the child of Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa may  be only half dragon-person, and might have access to greenseer or skinchanger abilities. This person might have become Night’s King, as I mentioned, and it’s also possible this child of Nissa Nissa could be either the last hero or the rescuer figure, or both if the rescuer and the last hero are the same person.

There are some really juicy potential echoes in the Targaryen family tree about this child of Nissa Nissa, actually, and clues that he or his descendant may become Night’s King. Consider the genes that led up to Night’s King figure Rhaegar, the man who gave his seed to Night’s Queen figure Lyanna. Leading up to Rhaegar, Viserys, and Dany, there were two generations of incest: Aerys and Rhaella were brother and sister, and their parents Jaehaerys II and Shaera Targaryen were too. But their parents were an interesting match indeed – Aegon V, also known as egg and “Aegon the Unlikely,” and Black Betha Blackwood.

House Blackwood is a house which recently produced a greenseer (Bloodraven a.k.a. Brynden Rivers), and given Nissa Nissa’s association with darkness (her death was used to usher in the Long Night, and her death correlates to the death of the fire moon which gave us the darkness of the Long Night), I tend to see Black Betha as a great child of the forest-Nissa Nissa analog (call her Betha Betha). Aegon would be Azor Ahai, and indeed, later in life he became obsessed with hatching a dragon’s egg. This obsession lead to the catastrophe of Summerhall, is a vivid fire moon explosion metaphor where Aegon Ahai and Betha Betha both died, appropriately. I mean, it was sad, but appropriate for symbolism.

In other words, Aegon and Black Betha may be serving as a symbolic historical parallel to Azor Ahai the dragonlord coming to Westeros and marrying a child of the forest Nissa Nissa. Their great grandson Rhaegar is a Night’s King figure who does all the Night’s King things, so perhaps the original Night’s King descends from a child of Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa. Even though Rhaegar isn’t Black Betha’s son, he might as well be, because as a result of the incest, he has roughly the same half-Targaryen / half-Blackwood genetic makeup of Egg and Black Betha’s children. The same is true for Dany of course; she’s basically half Blackwood. That’s a bit of an oversimplification in terms of genetics, but I think you take my point.

For that matter, Bloodraven himself is a walking clue about the blood of the dragon being injected into an ancient First Men house with greenseer abilities.

One generation before Egg and Black Betha, we have Egg’s parents: Maekar Targaryen and… Dyanna Dayne! I know many of you know that, so sorry for being melodramatic, but that’s another home-run as an echo of the past, since the Daynes seem to descend from the Great Empire of the Dawn from whence Azor Ahai came, yet are thought of as First Men. In other words, the Daynes themselves probably represent a merging of First Men blood and blood of the dragon from waaaay back. This may be another clue that the Azor Ahai bloodline blended with the blood of the First Men before producing the dragon person who became Night’s King. The fused stone fortress at Battle Isle is indicative of a colony or at least a long-term trading outpost, which would have given the dragonlords ample time to mingle their blood with the First Men before the Long Night falls, and in the south, in relative proximity to Starfall.

As usual, I am going to avoid trying to choose which exact scenario is the “Truth,” but there are a couple of things I do feel solid about. The evidence suggesting Nissa Nissa as at least part-children of the forest is solid, and it seems obvious that Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa had at least one child together, whom we have to assume is an important figure.  I am also confident that Night’s King had some amount of blood of the dragon in his veins and a direct connection to Azor Ahai, and I’m fairly confident one of the children of Night’s King and Queen was smuggled away to safety. If that’s the case, I am pretty sure this rescued ice baby would have become a Stark, both for the sake of thematic sensibility – I mean if anyone is related to the Others, it has to be the Starks, right? – and because of the parallels with Jon and baby Monster. Lyanna and Gilly are both Night’s Queen figures who have their babies smuggled away and raised under false identities, with Jon being raised at Winterfell and Monster almost being raised there.

Fortunately, and predictably, it’s not just Lyanna and Gilly and their children, Jon and Monster, who tell the tale. As usual, we are given many characters who play this archetype, and this is usually the point where I would list them out to you… but since I gave you the big reveal at the beginning, I will maintain the element of surprise by revealing them one or two at a time.

A Bael Issue

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With the exception of Jon and Monster, the most important potential echo of stealing a Night’s Queen baby to become a Stark is probably found in the Bael the Bard story. It’s not a perfect echo, but it has important lessons to teach us. Bael the Bard is a roguish wildling minstrel and King-Beyond-the-Wall, and his story is intricately linked with that of Rhaegar and Lyanna. This is apparent from the moment Ygritte brings up the subject of Bael, shortly after Jon has taken her prisoner in the Frostfangs in ACOK:

“You said you were the Bastard o’ Winterfell.”

“I am.”

“Who was your mother?”

“Some woman. Most of them are.” Someone had said that to him once. He did not remember who.

She smiled again, a flash of white teeth. “And she never sung you the song o’ the winter rose?”

“I never knew my mother. Or any such song.”

“Bael the Bard made it,” said Ygritte. “He was King-beyond-the-Wall a long time back.

Ygritte asking Jon if his mother ever sang the song o’ the winter rose is one of those deliciously ironic things you can only catch on a re-read. He never knew his mother Lyanna, nor the song of the Winter Rose – but Lyanna’s song was the Song of the Winter Rose, in a sense. This may be a good time to remind you about another part of the Tourney of Harrenhal sequence of events, something that happened at the feast the night before the tourney:

The dragon prince sang a song so sad it made the wolf maid sniffle, but when her pup brother teased her for crying she poured wine over his head.

In other words, Rhaegar sang her “the song o’the winter rose” for all intents and purposes, as this song seems to have sewn the seeds for their love and was followed up by the crown of blue winter roses.

Returning to the Bael story, Ygitte begins by telling us that Bael was a great raider and a long-time nemesis of the Stark in Winterfell at that time:

“The Stark in Winterfell wanted Bael’s head, but never could take him, and the taste o’ failure galled him. One day in his bitterness he called Bael a craven who preyed only on the weak. When word o’ that got back, Bael vowed to teach the lord a lesson. So he scaled the Wall, skipped down the kingsroad, and walked into Winterfell one winter’s night with harp in hand, naming himself Sygerrik of Skagos. Sygerrik means ‘deceiver’ in the Old Tongue, that the First Men spoke, and the giants still speak.”

This has obvious parallels to Mance sneaking in to Winterfell which we will discuss momentarily, but sticking with the story, we learn that Bael disguised as Sygerrik plays so well and pleases the Lord of Winterfell so much that he told Bael to name his reward. Ygritte tells us of Bael’s famous response:

 ‘All I ask is a flower,’ Bael answered, ‘the fairest flower that blooms in the gardens o’ Winterfell.’

“Now as it happened the winter roses had only then come into bloom, and no flower is so rare nor precious. So the Stark sent to his glass gardens and commanded that the most beautiful o’ the winter roses be plucked for the singer’s payment. And so it was done. But when morning come, the singer had vanished … and so had Lord Brandon’s maiden daughter. Her bed they found empty, but for the pale blue rose that Bael had left on the pillow where her head had lain.”

The distraught Lord Brandon searches high and low for a year, to no avail, and because his daughter was his only child, he feared the line of Stark would end. But then one day he finds his daughter in her chambers with a young male baby:

They had been in Winterfell all the time, hiding with the dead beneath the castle. The maid loved Bael so dearly she bore him a son, the song says … though if truth be told, all the maids love Bael in them songs he wrote. Be that as it may, what’s certain is that Bael left the child in payment for the rose he’d plucked unasked, and that the boy grew to be the next Lord Stark.

It’s easy to see that Bael, as a singer and harpist who “abducts” a blue rose maiden of Winterfell, serves as a parallel to Rhaegar, who is thought of as having abducted Lyanna – which is kind of the point. Think about it like this: both Rhaegar and Bael effectively slipped their seed into the Winterfell family tree via a blue rose maid that loved them.

Did Night’s King do the same? Well, if one of his children became a Stark, then the answer is yes! The logistics are a little different, but the main points are the same. Consider this: Night’s King brought his winter queen back to the Nightfort, while Bael brought his blue rose maiden down into the crypts – I am sure you can the similar underworld symbolism of both places. And as we saw at the very beginning of the story, the crypts are where people go to find a surprisingly life-like Lyanna as well, whether it’s Robert stroking the cheek of her statue as if he could will her back to life, or Ned dreaming of Lyanna’s statue weeping blood. Robert complains that Ned brought her back to the crypts, saying she should be buried on a sunny hillside, but Ned insists that this is her place and that she wished to be buried here. It’s a great parallel to the blue rose maiden of the Bael story.

There’s a shout-out to Bael taking his Stark maiden down to the crypts in Rhaegar and Lyanna’s story when Robert says that although he killed Rhaegar on the Trident and won the throne, “..somehow he still won. He has Lyanna now, and I have her.” The Bard and the Blue Rose Maiden, together forever – but in the underworld, like Bael and his maiden in the crypts or Night’s King and Queen at the Nightfort.

We can also observe that not only did both Bael and Rhaegar “abduct” a blue rose Stark maiden who seems to have actually loved them, both played overpowering music to win the hand or heart of their winter lady. This begs the question: was Night’s King a singer? It seems possible, and we’ll come back to this idea momentarily.

The name that Bael takes, Syggerrik, means “the deceiver” in the Old Tongue, and “the deceiver” is one the most common nicknames for the devil in the Bible. This implies Bael as “devilsh” and thereby helps us to see Bael as a dark solar king figure, like Rhaegar and Night’s King.  Bael is the right kind of guy to be giving his seed to the winter queen. And I know “he knew no fear, and that was the fault in him” is one of the more vague parts of the Night’s King description, but there’s no doubt both Bael and Mance had to be utterly fearless to sneak into the fortress of their enemy.

It may go without saying, but Bael is also an obvious parallel for Mance Raydar, who, like Bael, is a bard and a King Beyond the Wall who also sneaks into Winterfell using a false name – Mance used ‘Abel,’ an anagram of ‘Bael.’ Indeed, Mance is basically presented to us as a modern day Bael right from the beginning, when we meet him sitting cross legged in his command tent, playing the lute and singing of the Dornishman’s wife, and only shortly after Ygritte has given us the Bael legend.

Now when Mance-disguised-as-Abel sneaks into Winterfell, he doesn’t slip his seed into any bloodlines, but he does seek to steal a Stark maiden, after a fashion  – Jeyne Poole, who is being passed off as Arya Stark. As we discussed last time, Jeyne has abundant Night’s Queen / Corpse Queen / Ice Queen symbolism, so although she’s not specifically tied to blue roses, this actually lines up pretty well. We can also see an echo of the rescue of a Night’s Queen baby, if Jeyne is pregnant with Ramsay’s baby as I suspect she may be. Ramsay himself is a Night’s King figure, so it really would fit the pattern. Theon, who thinks of  himself as “a Stark at last” in these Winterfell chapters, would play the same rescuer role that Ned plays at the Tower of Joy and Sam plays at Craster’s Keep and the Nightfort.

So, Mance parallels Bael the Bard, and Bael parallels Rhaegar… and I probably don’t have to tell you that Rhaegar and Mance complete the circle by sharing a certain amount of symbolism (though they definitely are not the same person). They are both bard-kings (Rhaegar is a prince, but close enough) who play a father figure role to Jon – Rhaegar as the paternal father, and Mance as someone Jon learns from, sees himself in, and looks up to. Mance’s black cloak slashed with red gives him Rhaegar’s colors, and both Rhaegar and Mance lost their final battle to a Baratheon (Robert and Stannis, respectively). Both Rhaegar and Mance had a son who was born around the time they lost their final battles – sons who they never met – and both of the mothers of those sons, Dalla and Lyanna, died in childbirth.

Bael had a son he didn’t know for more than a few months, which is very similar, and like the tales of Rhaegar, Mance, and Night’s King, Bael’s tale has a tragic ending tied to a final battle. However, that’s going to lead to bit of a sub-topic, so let’s make this a section break.

The One That Came Back

This section is sponsored by three new members of the Starry Wisdom Priesthood: Stella di Silvestri, also called “Yellow Stella,” Mistress of Arcana; Jon of House Elric of Resembool, the Wintersun; and Louise of House Taylor, the Rainwatcher, Desert Penguin of the Red Mountains of Dorne 

For the doom-ridden end of Bael’s story, let’s return to Ygritte:

“The song ends when they find the babe, but there is a darker end to the story. Thirty years later, when Bael was King-beyond-the-Wall and led the free folk south, it was young Lord Stark who met him at the Frozen Ford … and killed him, for Bael would not harm his own son when they met sword to sword.”

“So the son slew the father instead,” said Jon.

“Aye,” she said, “but the gods hate kinslayers, even when they kill unknowing. When Lord Stark returned from the battle and his mother saw Bael’s head upon his spear, she threw herself from a tower in her grief. Her son did not long outlive her. One o’ his lords peeled the skin off him and wore him for a cloak.”

The winter rose maiden throwing herself from a tower is like a merging of Ashara Dayne throwing herself from a tower and Lyanna dying in the top of a tower. However the main thing that grabs our attention as an important Night’s king parallel is the father and son fighting one another – that really seems like what the Night King / last hero relationship might be all about. Our devilish Night’s King figure Bael donates a son to the bloodline of Winterfell, and that son grows up to become the Stark in Winterfell and eventually journeys north to confront and kill his father. When the last hero went north to end the Long Night, was that the son of the Night’s King, going to slay his dad? They fought at the “Frozen Ford,” which kind of sounds like a placeholder for the Wall, which is like a frozen river, viewed from above, and the Nightfort is a crossing point of that frozen rive. So this almost sounds like Night King’s son coming back to the Nightfort to kill him.

After all, Jon does dream of slaying a wighted version of his true father, Ned, at Castle Black:

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.

I’m sure that if Jon had had the chance to re-listen to his life on audiobook ten times like we have had, he would’ve eventually puzzled out the meaning, ha ha. In any case, we know to look at scenes like this as potential echoes of the past, and the idea of Jon having to kill a cold-wighted version of his father might have been included to serve as a parallel to Bael being killed by his son, and more importantly, to Night’s King being killed by his son, the last hero. Ned is not generally a Night’s King figure, but the dream vision wighted version of Ned with blue star eyes and a black cloak of the Night’s Watch certainly does the trick. The wight in that scene was the former Brother named Othor, so he’s kind of standing in for the Others in general, and if you recall, wighted Othor has a moon face in that scene, very like the moon that leers with Euron’s face in the Forsaken chapter of TWOW (and of course Euron is a Night’s King figure).

We find fainter echoes of the “son kills father” motif when Jon faces Mance’s army in battle at the Wall, and then later is sent north of the Wall to kill Mance through treachery, since Mance is something of a father figure to Jon and shares symbolism with Rhaegar, Jon’s biological father. If and when Jon finds out that Rhaegar was his biological father, I’m sure he’ll dream of killing him too. There’s another TWOW prediction, ha!

Now as we know, legend says that one of the men who brought down Night’s King was Brandon the Breaker, who is said to have been Night King’s brother in some tales, as opposed to his son as some of these echoes suggest. Regardless, Brandon the Breaker was the Stark in Winterfell who went north to face Night’s King, who was of his blood, just as Bael’s son went north to face his father Bael, a Night’s King figure.  Bael and Night’s King were both defeated by the Stark in Winterfell who was of their blood, in other words, and that’s a great parallel between them, even if one is a brother and one a son. Everyone knows the Bael story parallels Rhaegar and Lyanna’s story, and I have shown you how Rhaegar and Lyanna parallel Night’s King and Queen, so finding parallels between Bael’s story and Night’s King and Queen means that each of these three stories has echoes of the other two. And that’s what we around here like to call a symbolism three-way, rahr.

Although they have subtle variations, these three stories all have a Night’s King figure slipping his seed into the bloodline of House Stark via blue winter rose maiden – with Night’s Queen as the original blue winter rose maiden, so to speak. The “son-kills-the-father” symbolism of Jon Snow and Bael’s son might suggest a last hero who was both a Stark of Winterfell and the son of Night’s King, while the Brandon the Breaker legend suggests that the last hero might have been the brother of Night’s King.

Lest I gloss over a meaningful point, yeah, think about it – if Night’s King ruled during the Long Night, whoever defeated him was probably the last hero. If Brandon the Breaker defeated Night’s King, then he may have been the last hero! If this is the case, then the thing Brandon broke would have been the Long Night.

The cool thing about Jon is that whether the Night’s King and the last hero are a brother / brother thing or a father/son thing, . We just saw he dreams of killing wighted Ned, and as you may recall from Bloodstone Compendium 2, he also dreams of killing his brother Robb – with a flaming sword no less. This as he stands atop the Wall, defending from icy foes who scuttle up the ice like spiders.

There’s a kind of symbolic echo of this “son kills father” pattern with Craster as well, who makes white shadows with Gilly and the rest of his “wives” and thus plays the Night’s King role. Obviously Monster would need to grow up and travel back in time to kill Craster, since he’s already dead, but consider the symbolism of the person who kills Craster – it’s a black brother named Dirk. His symbolism is that of a black dirk – a black knife, in other words – and this may be a callout to Jon’s symbolism of being like dragonglass and black ice (remember Stannis talking about finding and using Jon like Jon found the dragonglass). This is not only Jon’s symbol, but the symbol of the dragon locked in ice, and all of these Night’s Queen baby / last hero figures are playing that role. Thus, Night’s King Craster figure was slain by a black knife person who called himself “a sword in the darkness,” and that’s a message that fits in with all the other symbolism we are discussing here. At the very least, it makes sense to see members of the Night’s Watch kill a Night’s King figure, with the name Dirk kind of emphasizing the symbolism of the Night’s Watch as human swords.

There’s actually a lot more to this pattern of the last hero coming to kill his father or brother who is the Night’s King, but we’ve got to introduce more Night’s King figures to get there, and we’ve got to dip into some world mythology that George is referencing. But real quickly, before we move on, I just want to say a quick word about Craster himself, since we are talking about him anyway and he doesn’t really fit anywhere else. It’s worth noting that Craster is the bastard son of a Night’s Watch brother, and Ygitte says that “Craster’s blood is black, and he bears a heavy curse.” That all could potentially fit with the dark solar king archetype, who represents an undead and or transformed sun figure (which the black blood can signify) and the cursed part surely applies to someone who may have broken the moon or created the Others. Craster “has a cold smell to him,” so obviously he’s not a warm kind of solar figure – he’s showing us Night’s King after he’s already given his seed and soul to Night’s Queen, just like the ghostly Rhaegar that burns with a cold light.

Weirdly, Craster has 19 wives, and there are 19 fortresses on the Wall. Let me know what you think that could mean. The other 19 that seems relevant pops up when the survivors of the Fist of the First Men return to Craster’s Keep, as Sam reports to Mormont that they have 19 dragonglass arrowheads. It’s easy to see the similarity between the 19 fortresses and the 19 arrowheads, since the brothers that man those fortresses are meant to wield dragonglass, but I am not sure why Craster would have 19 wives. Perhaps Craster is like the Wall and his wives are like the fortresses, but again I am not sure what that is supposed to mean. Ygritte was 19 as well, for what it’s worth.

Finally, there are even some credible theories out there that the black brother who fathered Craster was either Maester Aemon, formerly Aemon Targaryen, or Bloodraven when he was Ser Brynden Rivers, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Either scenario would make Craster the blood of the dragon, and either scenario would be a nice match for my hypothesis about the Night’s King being Azor Ahai or his son. I mean… he is a white-haired sheep-herder practicing a ton of incest, which is basically a 100% accurate description of the Valyrians. Give that man a lute!

I’ll just let that sink in for moment. A white haired sheep-herder practicing a ton of incest and maybe a bit of human sacrifice to create monsters? That’s right, it applies to both Craster and the Valyrians. So I’m not sure if he really does have dragon blood or not, but at the least, the incesty shepherd thing does make for a good comparison to the Valyrians. It serves to make him a stand-in for a blood of the dragon person, even if he isn’t actually one.

Alright, so we are done with the three devilish bards, Bael and Mance and Rhaegar, plus our non-bard, Craster, all of whom have a stolen or rescued son that seems to fit the pattern of the stolen child of Night’s King and Queen. We’ll continue to follow the trail of the stolen Other baby, but as I mentioned earlier, all this bard stuff begs the question: was Night’s King a freaking bard? Well, we’ll have to ask the singers.

A Bale to Dread

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Now I suppose it’s possible that Nights King was literally a singer of some kind, but I have suspect the singing were are talking about is the the magical kind, something closer to the singing that the greenseers do. Singing to the stars, perhaps, but again in the magical sense. The devotees of the Church of Starry Wisdom, founded by the Bloodstone Emperor himself, are known to ‘sing to the stars’:

As she made her way past the temples, she could hear the acolytes of the Cult of Starry Wisdom atop their scrying tower, singing to the evening stars.

Of course they don’t just sing for the sake of singing – they practice dark magic in their scrying tower and attempt to gain the wisdom of the stars, or something esoteric like that. Melisandre does a bit of singing during the Lightbringer forging ritual, where it says that “Melisandre sang in the tongue of Asshai, her voice rising and falling like the tides of the sea.” In fact, there are six references to Melisandre singing, always when she prays to R’hllor.

I’m also thinking of the sort of singing that comes in the closing line of AGOT:

As Daenerys Targaryen rose to her feet, her black hissed, pale smoke venting from its mouth and nostrils. The other two pulled away from her breasts and added their voices to the call, translucent wings unfolding and stirring the air, and for the first time in hundreds of years, the night came alive with the music of dragons.

When they talk about the music of dragons, they aren’t talking about Rhaegar’s playing and singing, although that’s obviously a parallel symbol. No, we’re talking about real dragons, and you can see that Martin is using the word “sing” in a slightly poetic fashion. The most famous dragon to ever “sing” the music of dragons was, without a doubt, Balerion the Black Dread. I’ll say it again more slowly – Bael-erion. That’s right. Balerion the actual black dragon obviously qualifies as a incarnation of the black dragon archetype, just like his rider Aegon the Conqueror, and just like Rhaegar. We’ve already identified Aegon and Rhaegar as Night’s King figures who make symbolic Others with their respective ice queens, but little did we know that Balerion himself was a Night’s King symbol! It makes perfect sense of course, but it’s still amusing. Balerion the Black Bard, ha. Is it possible that in the books, Balerion will be the dragon who is wighted or turned cold, instead of Viserion the white dragon? I’d still bet on Viserion, but if Balerion turns icy somehow, that will be an extension of him as a Night’s King symbol.

So yeah, the Bael characters, including Balerion, seem to be telling us about Night’s King, and yes, there is a constant theme of singing and bard-dom around Night’s King.

Now you might be saying to yourself, “is it really all the Bael characters?  What about Baelor the Blessed? How is he a Night’s King figure?” Well, first of all, as we discussed in Moons of Ice and Fire 3, his Sept on Visenya’s Hill is a giant symbol of the ice moon which houses the Warrior’s Sons, who symbolize the Others! Baelor’s statue in front of the sept is indeed an ice dragon symbol: a statue of a dragon made of white marble, which symbolizes ice.

Usually the ice moon represents Night’s Queen, but think about this. When Night’s King gives his seed and his soul to Night’s Queen, we can think about that as his seed and soul becoming the dragon locked in ice, the dark meteor trapped in the ice moon. When we speak of it as his seed, that correlates to Jon as the dragon sperm, injected into the womb of the ice queen Lyanna. When we think of the dragon locked in ice as the soul of Night’s King, then it becomes Night’s King himself who is locked in ice, and in the ice moon. Baelor’s Sept is on top of Visenya’s Hill, with the Hill being much bigger, so it’s very like the Sept of Baelor Targaryen is the dragon locked in the ice moon of Visenya’s Hill. After all, it was the building of Baelor’s Sept which started the business of Other-like Warrior’s Sons crawling all over Visenya’s Hill like Others pouring out of the ice moon.

Baelor also does another Night’s King type of thing, which is locking maidens in towers (he famously locks his three sisters in the Maidenvault). We saw Night’s King Stannis lock Val in a tower, and we of course know that Lyanna gave birth in the Tower of Joy, with other-like Kingsguard standing guard outside. We don’t know exactly where Night’s King took his Corpse Queen in the Nightfort, but logic dictates it was the Lord Commander’s chambers, which were probably in a tower! I’d say it’s a safe bet. Jeyne Poole is another Night’s Queen figure locked in a tower, for what it’s worth. And in case you’re wondering about Ashara Dayne, who leapt to her death from a tower (supposedly)… I tend to think she’s a fire moon queen as opposed to an ice moon queen, but I am not sure by any means. We have so little info about her, it’s hard to tell.

As for Baelor’s three sister-wives who were locked in the Maidenvault, they all have one solid Night’s Queen clue. The middle sister,  Rhaena, was almost as pious as Baelor and eventually became a Septa, giving her good ice moon symbolism (although no dragons were never ‘locked in her ice,’ obviously). The first-born sister, Daena “the Defiant,” mother of Daemon Blackfyre, used to wear black as a child, but switched to always wearing white after Baelor was unable to consummate their marriage. That’s not bad, but not overwhelming either – until one of your mythology friends pipes up and informs you that the Greek Danae (Danae, Daena) was a daughter of the King of Argos who was locked in a tower to prevent her from becoming pregnant! That’s just what happened to me – no, I wasn’t locked in a tower to prevent me from becoming pregnant, I mean that my mythology friend, Crowfood’s Daughter ( @Crowfood_sD on Twitter) piped up and filled me in on the Greek Danae, and now I can include her in the essay just where she belongs – locked in a tower, unfortunately, like Daena the Defiant. More on the Greek Danae in a moment.

Elaena, the youngest sister, is where the really, really good symbolism is. She had hair that was platinum white, with a bright gold streak – and a dragon’s egg whose shell matched her hair. White dragons can be potent white meteor or ice dragons symbols, or even symbols of the Others themselves, as we know. It actually gets worse, because Elaena married Ossifer Plumm and had a son named Viserys – a name shared with another white dragon, Viserion. It’s well possible that Elaena named her son Viserys Plumm after her uncle, Viserys I Targaryen, who became king after Baelor died. Viserys Plumm’s descendant is Brown Ben Plumm, who famously got along well with Dany’s dragons – in particular, he got along with Viserion, the white one, of course. Surrounding Elaena Targaryen with all these white dragon stuff and the names Viserion and Viserys serves to equate her with Visenya Targaryen, a terrific Night’s Queen figure.

In fact, think about this: if Elaena is the Night’s Queen figure, then she’s analogous to the ice moon. Ossifer Plumm – let’s call him Lucifer – would be the Night’s King figure. Their child should represent either Jon or the Others – and they named him Viserys, which is now a white dragon name. And in keeping with a lot of the symbolism of the dark solar king figures being dead or undead, there’s a funny little story about Ossifer conceiving Viserys Plumm with Elaena Targaryen which is hinted at by Tyrion when he talks to Brown Ben Plumm in ADWD:

“I know you as well, my lord,” said Tyrion. “You’re less purple and more brown than the Plumms at home, but unless your name’s a lie, you’re a westerman, by blood if not by birth. House Plumm is sworn to Casterly Rock, and as it happens I know a bit of its history. Your branch sprouted from a stone spit across the narrow sea, no doubt. A younger son of Viserys Plumm, I’d wager. The queen’s dragons were fond of you, were they not?”

That seemed to amuse the sellsword. “Who told you that?”

“No one. Most of the stories you hear about dragons are fodder for fools. Talking dragons, dragons hoarding gold and gems, dragons with four legs and bellies big as elephants, dragons riddling with sphinxes … nonsense, all of it. But there are truths in the old books as well. Not only do I know that the queen’s dragons took to you, but I know why.”

“My mother said my father had a drop of dragon blood.”

“Two drops. That, or a cock six feet long. You know that tale? I do.

The joke here comes from the fact that Ossifer Plumm was very old when he married Elaena, and reportedly died at the bedding ceremony following their wedding. Yet Elaena still gave birth nine months later, and the rumor is that Aegon IV (Aegon the Unworthy) was the actual father. That’s what Tyrion means when he says that  his father might have two drops of dragon blood – one from Elaena and one from Aegon the Unworthy. The only way that isn’t the case would be if old man Ossifer had a cock “six feet long” – meaning that he was able to reach out from the grave and impregnate Elaena. Think of Davos’s observation that Stannis looks to have one foot in the grave and remember that he looks that way because he’s been giving his seed and soul to Melisandre to make shadow children, and Night’s King gave his seed and soul to Night’s Queen. That means that, symbolically, Night’s King is sort of also implied as a dead person who still impregnates someone.

The line about Brown Ben being sprouted from a stone seems like a humorous way of talking about meteors and moons as parents and children, if you ask me, and of course the joke Tyrion is making refers to the younger of Viserys Plumm that must have crossed the Narrow Sea as the stone of a plum fruit. It’s actually a very good way of showing meteor childbirth – the meteor child is the heart of a fallen plum instead the heart of a fallen star.

So, that’s a long way to follow the thread of white dragons symbolism leading from Baelor the Blessed, Priest-King of the Ice Dragon temple, but it’s cool to see how consistent George is with his symbolism. If he needs to invent more House Plumm backstory for Brown Ben in TWOW, expect more white dragon symbolism!

So that’s King Baelor Targaryen, lock-er-away-er of ice queens. He’s not a perfect Night’s King match, but sometimes Martin has fun playing with your expectations. He does that through symbolism, as we’ve just seen, but he does that in the main story anyway – Baelor is beloved as a blessed holy man, but Tyrion calls him “Baelor the Befuddled,” and in the Sword Sword, Ser Eustace Osgrey calls him “the feeblest king who ever sat on the Iron Throne.” He may well have starved himself to death after Daena the Defiant gave birth to Daemon Blackfyre (then called Daemon Waters) by living on bread and water for 41 days until he finally expired. The MaidenVault was some wack-ass shit too, you have to admit.

I suppose a little Bael mythology might be appropriate here. It seems like there are a couple of mythological figures who inspired George to associate characters that have Bael-related names with Night’s King. First off, Ba’al of Canaanite myth is the original horned god, and he does the standard horned god / fertility god routine of being killed in the fall and resurrected in the spring. I talked about all the horned god mythology in the Sacred Order of Green Zombies Series, so that’s the place to look for all for all of that, but you will probably recall that we found strong horned god symbolism around Azor Ahai and the last hero, and around figures like Jon and Mance and Stannis. The horned god can certainly be a musician; Pan is one version of this figure, and of course Pan sometimes uses his music to bewitch and entrance.

An even more potent myth George seems to be be referencing with the Bael names comes from Irish folklore, which is a well we already know George likes to draw from. I’m speaking of Balor, King of the Fomorians, who was a giant with a large eye in his forehead that wreaks serious destruction when opened. He’s also called “King of Demons,” and according to wikipedia, it is suggested that Balor comes from Common Celtic Baleros, meaning “the deadly one”, cognate with Old Irish at-baill (dies) and Welsh ball (death, plague). Three of his nicknames are translated as ‘Balor the Smiter,’ ‘Balor the Strong Smiter,’ and ‘Balor of the Piercing Eye’ which later became ‘Balor of the Evil Eye.’

So you kinda get the idea: he’s a death god who brings dread and woe. The word Baleros sounds very close to Balerion, and given his “Black Dread” nickname, we can see that George is using the meaning of the Welsh Balor’s name as well. Balerion and all black dragon figures are representative of the ASOIAF death god (also called Him of Many Faces, the Lion of Night, the Stranger, etc.) That’s cool and everything, but let me show you the even more obvious tip-off that this Balor myth is a myth Martin is thinking of, which is this: Balor locks his only daughter, Ethniu, in a tower to prevent her from becoming pregnant. He does this because it is prophesied that Balor would be killed by his grandson, and of course this happens anyway, as his daughter becomes pregnant and her son Lugh leads the Tuatha Dé Danann in rebellion against the Formorians and Balor. I would see the parallel to this as Baelor Targaryen locking up his sister wives, one of which gave birth to Daemon Blackfyre, who lead the largest rebellion against the Targaryen dynasty in their history as kings of Westeros.

And didn’t we just say that the Greek Danae was locked up to prevent her pregnancy, just like the daughter of Balor of the Evil Eye? It’s actually an even closer parallel when we look at the Danae story again: she too eventually became pregnant (horny old Zeus saw her imprisoned and became a “golden rain” which left her pregnant, and yeah the dirty joke is implied in the myth), and just like Balor’s daughter giving birth to a hero who grew up and killed Balor, Danae gives birth to the famous hero Perseus, who eventually killed his grandfather! This time it was an accident – Perseus was throwing the discus at the athletic games, which his grandfather attended, and an errant throw struck him in the head. There’s also a prophecy involved, just as with the Balor story – in both cases, it is prophesied that the daughter will give birth to a son that will kill the grandfather who likes to lock women in towers, which is what leads Balor and his Greek counterpart, Acrisius, King of Argos, to lock their virgin daughters in towers to begin with.

Needless to say, these two myths, when compared with Baelor Targaryen’s wife having a son who rebelled against the royal dynasty, pour a lot more fuel on the fire of our theory about the last hero being a son or close relative of Night’s King. I also think it’s just plain cool how George wove the Irish Balor of the Evil Eye and Greek Danae myths together in the story of Baelor and Daena Targaryen.

“Lugh Faces The Evil Eye” by Jim Fitzpatrick
This image has mythical astronomy written all over it!

As for the mythical astronomy of the Balor of the Evil Eye myth, wowsers! Balor, King of Demons and Fomorians (the latter of whom may well be part of the inspiration for the Others), has some sort of destructive eye! And by destructive, I mean forest-burning, earth-moving destruction. It reminds me of my notion of the celestial Gods Eye, from which the deadly moon meteors came… and you’re not going to believe this, but listen to what happens when Balor is killed by his grandson Lugh, and here I will quote wikipedia: “One legend tells that, when Balor was slain by Lugh, Balor’s eye was still open when he fell face first into the ground. Thus his deadly eye beam burned a hole into the earth. Long after, the hole filled with water and became a lake which is now known as Loch na Súil, or “Lake of the Eye”, in County Sligo.”

Lake of the Eye, and formed by a slain god! Kinda sounds like the Gods Eye lake, does it not? In other words, the Irish Balor legend would seem to contain the inspiration for the destructive celestial gods eye as well as the gods eye lake. It was probably in George’s mind when he wrote the battle over the Gods Eye scene with Daemon Targaryen and Aemond One-Eye, which gave us Night’s King figures and and a white dragon plunging into the lake like Balor’s severed head. You guys don’t even know how long I have been saving that one – it’s been at least a year and a half or something, ha ha. What’s really great about it is that aligning Balor’s baleful eye with the Gods Eye eclipse makes Balor’s falling head, with its deadly eye beam blazing, equivalent to the falling moon meteors, and that makes perfect sense. That’s what Balerion the Black Dread represents as well – the black meteors that fell from the Gods Eye in the sky and brought darkness and dread, just like Balor, the Smiter.

If you think about it, this also kind of suggests the Gods Eye lake was created via meteor impact, although it would have had to be a much older impact, as crater lakes take a very long time to form. Here I’d like to give a shoutout to An American Thinks on YouTube, who arrived at the meteor-origin for the Gods Eye lake idea through an entirely different line of research. Check those out on his YouTube channel, they’re great!

Better yet for Mythical Astronomy, Lugh kills Balor by throwing a magical spear through his baleful eye, very like all the dragon-eye spearing ideas in ASOIAF which I would say refer to the piercing of the celestial Gods Eye by the comet, such as the legend of Serwyn of the Mirror Shield slaying the dragon Urrax. It’s not that different from Perseus hitting his grandfather in the head with a discus, for that matter.

So, to sum up, I think we can say that given the locking maidens in towers connection to Baelor Targaryen, the overlaps with the Greek Danae myth that also play into the Baelor the Blessed story, plus these awesome mythical astronomy connections, this is assuredly a myth George drew inspiration from. We can also deduce that it shaped his decision to use variants of the Bael name for certain Night’s King figures. The theme of being slain by your descendant present in the Irish Balor legend and the Greek Danae has us once again suspecting that the last hero may have been the son or nephew or recent descendant of Night’s King.

And that’s before we consider our final Baelor influence from world mythology, Balan and Balin, two brother knights from Arthurian myth who tragically killed each other. Here I owe another large hat-tip to Crowfood’s Daughter, without whom I would have been ignorant of this mythology. We don’t need to go too deep into Arthurian myth here, but the broad strokes are highly relevant, particularly because this tale intersects with the Holy Grail mythology, including the Fisher King and the Dolorous Stroke. You could do an entire essay about these ideas and their influence on ASOIAF, so understand that I am summarizing significantly here. There’s also the issue of there being several variants of the story, as with a lot of Arthurian myth and world myth in general.

Sir Balin the Savage is kind of the main character, with his brother Balan serving as more of an adjunct. Balin is a somewhat tragic figure, who struggles with fits of melancholy or rage. His brother Balan acts as a good influence, helping to limit the damage of these spells and helping Balin to learn to control them. Balin is in possession of a magic sword, which is also cursed, but the most famous weapon he uses is the Spear of Longinous – supposedly the spear used by a Roman soldier to pierce the side of Jesus Christ on the cross. The circumstances of the tale place Sir Balin in the castle of King Pellam, who is the grail king, and after a fight breaks out, Balin ends up using this holy spear to inflict what is known as “the dolorous stroke” on the grail king Pellam.

This wounded king figure is also known as the Fisher King (although they can be separate, father-and-son characters in some versions), and the idea is that this dolorous stroke is an allusion to castration – it’s usually described as an inner thigh wound as a way of cleaning up the story, but symbolically, it’s a blow which ruins the King’s fertility. In this mythology, the vitality of the king is seen as tied to the health of the land (think of fat and jolly King Robert ruling over a long, bountiful summer, for example), and when the Grail King receives the dolorous stroke, the land turns to ruin and famine. This is what actually sets the stage for the grail quest, which is completed by Sir Galahad, who in some versions is the grandson of Pellam or Pellam’s brother.

Here’s how this translates to ASOIAF: our Bael character, Sir Balin, strikes a magical wound which turns the land to blight, just as Night’s King may be the same person as Azor Ahai, the man who broke the moon and caused the Long Night. The solar king kills his lunar wife, but he himself is wounded and weakened – this is the dark sun of the Long Night seen as a weakened and blighted solar king, ruling over a blighted and drought-filled land. Interestingly, in some Fisher King stories, the wounded grail king is wounded as punishment for his taking a wife, which guardians of the grail are not supposed to do. That sure reminds us of the idea of Night’s King breaking his Night’s Watch vows and taking Night’s Queen to wife.

The other relevant part of Sir Balin’s story is that he mistakenly kills his brother, Balan, who was in a kind of disguise, wearing someone else’s armor. Most tales have them dying in each other’s arms, realizing their tragic mistake only  after mortally wounding one another. George gives us a version of this story with a pair of twin brothers who both joined the Kingsguard: Erryk and Arryk Cargill. The most complete recounting of this tragic event that occurred during the Dance of the Dragons comes  from TWOIAF, though its referenced several times in the story proper:

Even the Kingsguard were enlisted into the strife. Ser Criston Cole dispatched Ser Arryk Cargyll to Dragonstone with the intention of having him infiltrate the citadel in the guise of his twin, Ser Erryk. There, he was to kill Rhaenyra (or her children; accounts differ). Yet as chance would have it, Ser Erryk and Ser Arryk met by happenstance in one of the halls of the citadel. The singers tell us that they professed their love for one another before the steel clashed, and fought with love and duty in their hearts for an hour before they died weeping in one another’s arms. The account of Mushroom, who claims to have witnessed the duel, says the reality was far more brutal: they condemned one another for traitors, and within moments had mortally wounded each other.

So there you go – it’s pretty much the same story, save that Erryk and Arryk did recognize each other, unlike Balin and Balan. More importantly, we are thinking of how Night’s King was thrown down by his brother, Brandon the Breaker, which gives us a Bael figure – Night’s King – killed by his brother, something like Balin and Balan.  As you can see, George has created his Night’s King mythology by drawing from tales which involve both brother-brother killings and / or kings who are killed by their children and grandchildren. Heck, one of the oldest brother vs. brother tales deserves a mention here as well, and that’s the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. Since George specifically pointed out that “Abel” is an anagram of “Bael” when Mance posed as Abel to sneak into Winterfell, we are probably supposed to lump Abel the slain brother into the wider context of Night’s King background mythology. I’m not sure how much our Baelful Night’s King character correlates to the sweet and innocent Abel of the Bible, but it nevertheless yet another brothers fighting myth that is being referenced, and so deserves mention.

I’d also like to direct you to Crowfood’s Daughter’s essay on these topics, which are fantastic, and you can find right here.

We have more Bael and bard figures left to look at, so we’ll bear these themes of kinslaying in mind as we go and see what we find.

A Bale Full of Bards

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Now you guys know how George does his symbolism: he lays it on thick, with many, many examples of any given idea for us to find and connect. Bael the Bard and Baelor Targaryen and Balerion the Black Dread aren’t the end of it, oh no. Baelor Breakspear is the other famous Baelor, and although he’s quite a nice guy, and doesn’t lock any maidens in any towers, he is a black dragon figure the one time we see in armor at the Tourney of Ashford Meadow:

Then came a voice. “I will take Ser Duncan’s side.”

A black stallion emerged from out of the river mists, a black knight on his back. Dunk saw the dragon shield, and the red enamel crest upon his helm with its three roaring heads. The Young Prince. Gods be good, it is truly him?

Lord Ashford made the same mistake. “Prince Valarr?”

“No.” The black knight lifted the visor of his helm. “I did not think to enter the lists at Ashford, my lord, so I brought no armor. My son was good enough to lend me his.” Prince Baelor smiled almost sadly.

I love how Baelor is called the Black Knight twice here, and how he rides out of the river mists in such dramatic fashion, after beginning as a disembodied voice. His sad smile foreshadows his imminent death, which comes as a result of a blow he takes during the trial of seven. That blow came from his brother Maekar, and though it wasn’t intended to kill, it unfortunately fractured his skull, and getting killed by your brother is a match for the legend of Night’s King… and Balin and Balan, of course. In fact, this tale hits on an element of the Sir Balin story that Erryk and Arryk do not, which is the tragic misunderstanding aspect. Maekar and Baelor don’t mistake one another, but they are friends and Maekar certainly did not mean to kill his brother.

As a historical echo of Night’s King and Brandon the Breaker, things are kind of all scrambled around. Maekar parallels Brandon the Breaker, since he’s killing a black dragon Bael figure, but Baelor is the one named as a breaker via his “Breakspear” nickname. In fact Baelor Breakspear compares well to the last hero, since he switches sides for the trial of seven and fights against the Other-like Kingsguard – shades of our rescued Other baby as the last hero fighting his would be brothers, right? Baelor’s “break-spear” name kinda of evokes the broken sword motif that all last hero characters seem to manifest. I also wonder if the spear of Longinus that Balin used to wound the Grail King Pellem is being referenced here. Another similarity to the Balin tale is that Baelor is wearing someone else’s armor, as Balin’s brother Balan did.

Maekar, meanwhile, has a wife, Dyanna Dayne, whose name rhymes with Lyanna. He lives at Summerhall, which is of course notably tied to Night’s King figure Rhaegar. He’s also the one who has a child taken from him, which would of course be Egg, who is taken by Dunk right after this tourney. Dunk would seem to fit well with our other collector / rescuer figures like Ned, Sam, and Coldhands. I can’t help noticing that all of those people have a similar personality – honorable, steadfast, resolute, and humble.

We can’t talk about Baelor Breakspear without speaking of Baelor Breakwind! That’s right, there’s a very minor character in the current timeline named Baelor, who’s actually on the other side of the battle lines from Euron and his Ironborn fleet – that’s Baelor Hightower, son and heir of Lord Leyton Hightower, who’s seeing to the defenses of Oldtown by building new ships for the fleet. He’s also the one whom a young Oberyn Martell nicknames “Baelor Breakwind” after he farted in his and Elia’s presence while courting Elia.

There’s not much to say about Baelor Hightower, save that the Hightowers are said to descend from the traders and seafarers who came to Oldtown before the First Men – who would have been the folks from the Great Empire of the Dawn, some of whom would have been the dragonlords responsible for building the fused stone fortress at Battle Isle, future site of the Hightower of Oldtown. The Hightowers may of the same blood as Azor Ahai, in other words, just as the Daynes probably are, and indeed, Baelor Hightower seems like an early phase Azor Ahai figure. After the Baelor Breakwind nickname wears off, he’s called Baelor Brightsmile, and he’ss married to a weirwood goddess figure, Rhonda of House Rowan (recall that a Rowan tree is also called “Mountain Ash,” Yggdrasil of Norse myth is an ash tree, and the weirwoods are heavily based on Yggdrasil). Additionally, the lords of House Hightower wear cloaks of flame and smoke, which increases his likeness to the heralded Warrior of Fire and champion of R’hllor.

You’ll recall that earlier I said it’s very possible Nissa Nissa was from Westeros, and that Azor Ahai had a child or children with her before her death, and that the Daynes seem to represent this kind of union – the blood of the dragon from the Great Empire of the Dawn merged with the blood of the First Men and the children of the forest. The same symbolism seems to apply to the Hightowers, and thus Baelor himself or his child by a Rowan maiden could symbolize this child of Azor and Nissa. I further speculated that it may have been this child of Azor and Nissa who became Night’s King, as opposed to Azor Ahai himself, which would be equivalent to Baelor’s bright smile turning dark, as his name suggests it should, or to Baelor’s and Rhonda Rowan’s child becoming a Night’s King figure.

Last but not least, Baelor Hightower has a brother named Garth. Garth of the Hightower! That’s quite a concept… of course the Hightowers claim descent from Garth by way of the legendary marriage between Garth’s daughter, Maris the Most Fair, and the founder of House Hightower with a very dragony name, Uthor of the Hightower. That marriage depicts the same symbolism as Baelor marrying a woman of House Rowan – a dragon person marrying some sort of tree maiden or elf woman (a daughter of Garth the Green certainly counts in that regard).

Additionally, since we’ve seen the brothers fighting so often with Night’s King figures, one could imagine a fight between Baelor and Garth as representing the bright solar king (Garth) against the Night’s King figure (Baelor). Right now Baelor Hightower is implied as a bright solar figure via his nickname, so perhaps there’s an element of the original story where one brother turns evil and the other does not, a la Brandon the Breaker Stark throwing down evil Night’s King.

At this point I’d like to pause and point out how many of our Bael / Night King figures are dragon-related: Rhaegar, Aegon the Conqueror, Balerion, Baelor the Blessed Targaryen, Baelor Breakspear Targaryen, and even Baelor Hightower is symbolically linked to dragons via his House. Stannis has a bit of Targaryen blood, Jon obviously does, and Euron wants to ride dragons, wears Valyrian steal armor and sports the dragonbinder horn. If Night’s King was a blood of the dragon person, then that all makes sense.

Moving right along, we have Baelor Blacktyde, an Ironborn captain in the current storyline who commands a ship called Nightflyer. The ship’s name tips us off that this is a night-associated fellow, and indeed, his black sable cloak is eventually taken by Night’s King figure Euron. Obviously the idea of a “black tide” is a version of the waves of night symbolism that represents the darkness of the Long Night. Black tide, Nightflyer, black cloak – it’s all pretty consistent. Baelor also worships the Seven, which you could see as an association with the Warrior’s Sons and the Sept of Baelor and therefore the Others and the ice moon. It’s also considered somewhat heretical, which kinda fist the general vibe of evil Azor Ahai and Night’s King.

Here I’ll pass along a wordplay find by Ravenous Reader, concerning the sable cloak. The “say-bael” cloak. Say Bael. You don’t say! Baelor has the say-bael cloak, Euron wears it later, and don’t forget Ser Waymar form the prologue, whose sable cloak was his “crowning glory,” wording which also implies the black crown symbol of the dark solar king.  It was actually mentioned six times in the prologue! Ser Jaremy Rykker of the Night’s Watch has a black cloak trimmed in sable – at least he did, until he was killed by the cold-wighted Jafer Flowers, just as Waymar was killed by the Others. Interestingly, Jaremy’s sable cloak was taken from him and worn by another (Thoren Smallwood), just as Euron took Baelor Blacktyde’s sable cloak. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Sir Balan wearing the armor of another when he was killed by his brother Balin.

There’s not much to say about Thoren Smallwood, the man who took Ser Jaremy’s sable-lined cloak.  His name is taken from Thoren Oakenshield, a dwarf from Lord of the Rings, and he’s killed by a wighted snow bear at the Fist of the First Men. Perhaps more importantly, Thoren speaks up for Craster as a friend to the watch on a couple of occasions.  It’s kind of funny, actually – Dywen and Thoren Smallwood have this running thing going where Dywen, who has wooden teeth, is pro-weirwood and anti- Craster, while Thoren Smallwood, whose name imlies making trees shorter (i.e. chopping them down), hates the weirwood trees and wants to cut them down, and loves Craster. Listen to this s**t:

Thoren Smallwood dismounted beside the trunk, dark in his plate and mail. “Look at that face. Small wonder men feared them, when they first came to Westeros. I’d like to take an axe to the bloody thing myself.”

Small-wood, small wonder, wants to make the trees smaller. Like I said, it’s kinda funny. Frankly, that wighted snow bear gave him what he had coming to him. Dywen, on the other hand, is a forester and can smell when the wights are getting closer at the Fist.

Anwyways… Say-Bael cloak! It’s pretty clever.

Just Another Bale On the Wall

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Speaking of Ironborn, how about Balon Greyjoy, Lord Reaper of Pyke? Well, he’s called the Lord Reaper – like the Grim Reaper, obviously. That’s how you make a bale of hay – first you have to reap! Lord Reaper Balon wears a black iron crown, and he’s a usurper, like Night’s King.  He’s killed by his brother Euron, like the Night’s King legend and the tale of Sir Balin and Balan. He declares war on Winterfell, which is kind of like Night’s King battling against the Stark of Wintefell. His throne is carved from an oily black stone, the kind of thing that would have the Bloodstone Emperor saying, “hey man, that’s a nice chair!” In fact, TWOIAF tells us that “At fifteen he spent a summer in the Stepstones, reaving,” which means he was yet another dark solar king to hang out on Bloodstone IslandAll in all, that’s a pretty good start for Balon as a night’s King figure.

Balon Greyjoy’s current wife is Alannys Harlaw – Allanys, Lyanna – who has some corpse queen symbolism in these two quotes from Asha Greyjoy, her daughter. First, she says to Theon in ACOK that “The cold winds have worn her away,” and obviously cold winds is one of those trigger phrases that makes us think of the north and the Others. Better yet is this passage in AFFC, from the chapter titled “the Kraken’s Daughter:”

Even now, it was hard to credit that frail, sickly Lady Alannys had outlived her husband Lord Balon, who had seemed so hard and strong. When Asha had sailed away to war, she had done so with a heavy heart, fearing that her mother might well die before she could return. Not once had she thought that her father might perish instead. The Drowned God plays savage japes upon us all, but men are crueler still. A sudden storm and a broken rope had sent Balon Greyjoy to his death. Or so they claim.

Asha had last seen her mother when she stopped at Ten Towers to take on fresh water, on her way north to strike at Deepwood Motte. Alannys Harlaw never had the sort of beauty the singers cherished, but her daughter had loved her fierce strong face and the laughter in her eyes. On that last visit, though, she had found Lady Alannys in a window seat huddled beneath a pile of furs, staring out across the sea. Is this my mother, or her ghost? she remembered thinking as she’d kissed her cheek.

Her mother’s skin had been parchment thin, her long hair white. Some pride remained in the way she held her head, but her eyes were dim and cloudy, and her mouth had trembled when she asked after Theon. “Did you bring my baby boy?” she had asked. Theon had been ten years old when he was carried off to Winterfell a hostage, and so far as Lady Alannys was concerned he would always be ten years old, it seemed. 

So, Lady Alannys begins with the the grim reaper symbolism of the Harlaw scythe as a backdrop, and then we see that she has white hair, skin like parchment, and that she’s like a ghost – she’s very like a living corpse, in other words, very like Jeyne Poole. That fits the “corpse queen” description, and she’s in a tower like so many of our ice queen figures, with the image of her weak and frail and huddling under furs again reminding us a bit of Jeyne Poole. But what should have really grabbed your attention was the fact that she is fixated on her lost son! That’s right, Theon, who plays the rescuer figure role with a possibly pregnant Jeyne Poole in ADWD, is himself a rescued Night’s King / Night’s Queen baby. Alannys refers to Theon as “my baby boy” repeatedly to emphasize the idea.

And where was young Theon, son of Night’s King Balon, “carried off” to by Ned the rescuer / baby stealer? Winterfell, of course, where else?  Eventually, Theon becomes the very temporary Lord of Winterfell, and then later after his Reekification and the beginning of his journey back to becoming Theon, he embraces his status as an honorary Stark, thinking that his grey skin makes him “a Stark at last” – disgraced though he may be. Theon’s father Balon specifically accuses him of being more loyal to the Starks than his native Ironborn, and this is what would have happened to the rescued / stolen Night’s King baby, who would have been loyal to the Starks, and indeed, would have become a Stark. It’s also what happened to Bael the Bard’s son, who became a Stark and slew his father when he invaded Westeros with a wildling army.

It’s almost as if mankind is stealing an Other and turning him against his former brothers, training him to guard against the Others. Let’s pause the Theon for a bit of insight on this principle from King Garth Gardener IX, as recorded in TWOIAF:

The Three Sage Kings also found lands and lordships for the more powerful of the Andal kings descending on the Reach, in return for pledges of fealty. The Gardeners sought after Andal craftsmen as well and encouraged their lords bannermen to do the same. Blacksmiths and stonemasons in particular were handsomely rewarded. The former taught the First Men to arm and armor themselves in iron in place of bronze; the latter helped them strengthen the defenses of their castles and holdfasts.

And though some of these new-made lords foreswore their vows in later years, most did not. Rather, they joined with their liege lords to put down such rebels and defended the Reach against those Andal kings and warbands who came later. “When a wolf descends upon your flocks, all you gain by killing him is a short respite, for other wolves will come,” King Garth IX said famously. “If instead you feed the wolf and tame him and turn his pups into your guard dogs, they will protect the flocks when the pack comes ravening.”

This is the exact principle I am talking about, and they’re even using wolves as an analogy. The stolen Other baby turned Stark is very much like a tamed wolf, trained to kill the Others. Of course, no one is better at taming wolves that wargs, and it seems like that’s kind of a Stark thing. Perhaps it’s better to think of the Starks as “trained wolves” instead of “tamed wolves,” as I think that’s more apt.

Returning to our analysis of Theon as a baby stolen from Night’s King and turne dinto a Stark, there’s a couple of things to note about his abduction from Pyke. As you can see, Ned is in the child rescuer / collector role once again, as he was at the Tower of Joy. Also sighted at the Storming of Pyke were a couple of guys with flaming swords, Thoros and Beric! Like the Tower of Joy, this battle seems like it could easily read as a metaphor or echo of the War for the Dawn, or at least some part of it, with our signature Night’s King and Queen baby being rescued / stolen by Starks and people with flaming swords.

Fast forwarding to Theon’s short time as the Lord of Winterfell, there’s a cool reference to Bael the Bard:

The killings stopped after Farlen’s death, but even so his men continued sullen and anxious. “They fear no foe in open battle,” Black Lorren told him, “but it is another thing to dwell among enemies, never knowing if the washerwoman means to kiss you or kill you, or whether the serving boy is filling your cup with ale or bale. We would do well to leave this place.”

“I am the Prince of Winterfell!” Theon had shouted. “This is my seat, no man will drive me from it. No, nor woman either!”

That’s a fun quote, as it contains nods to both the Bael the Bard myth – the serving boy filling Theon’s cup with “ale or bale” – and to Mance’s future escapades sneaking into Winterfell disguised as Abel and accompanied by six washerwoman. The reason why I say that is because one of the fact that  “Abel’s” washerwomen, Rowan, does later threaten to both kiss and kill Theon in a sort of delayed fulfillment of Black Lorren’s warning to Theon about washerwomen who could either kiss or kill you. Another parallel to the Bael legend is taking place at the same time as this conversation occurs, as Bran, Rickon, Osha, Jojen, Meera and Hodor are hiding in the Winterfell crypts, just as Bael and his Stark maiden did.

Now as it happens, Balon Greyjoy isn’t the only Balon in Ironborn history. He’s not even the only Balon  Greyjoy! You all know how much I love TWOIAF, precisely because George seems to have used it as an opportunity to reinforce a lot of the symbolic ideas that he created in the main series. For example – there are two Balons spoken of in the Iron Islands section of the Worldbook, and here is the first one who is also a Greyjoy:

In the century that followed, a succession of weaker kings lost the Arbor, Bear Island, Flint’s Finger, and most of the ironborn enclaves along the Sunset Sea, until only a handful remained.

It must not be thought that the ironborn won no victories during these years. Balon V Greyjoy, called Coldwind, destroyed the feeble fleets of the King in the North. 

Ah ha! A Balon Coldwind, battling against the King in the North as Night’s King battled the King of Winter, Brandon the Breaker. That certainly sounds like Night’s King with the cold winds of winter at his back, does it not? Of course this works as a compliment to the Balon Greyjoy of the main story (Balon IX, in case you were curious) who attacks and temporarily conquers the North. Once again I will remind you of all the symbolism equating the drowned men of the Ironborn with the Others that we looked at in Moons of Ice and Fire 4: The Long Night Was His to Rule – Balon Coldwind leading drowned men is absolutely symbolic of Night’s King invading with the Others. He’s invading the North and fighting the King of Winter, just as he should be.

In fact, Reddit user Diatonix recently pointed out to me that there is an Others double entendre in the famous quote about Euron as a squid shadow with a black eye. This quote begins with Tyrion speaking to Moqorro:

“Have you seen these others in your fires?” he asked, warily.

“Only their shadows,” Moqorro said. “One most of all. A tall and twisted thing with one black eye and ten long arms, sailing on a sea of blood.”

Throw it on the pile of wordplay and symbolism implying that Euron has a connection to the Others – or at least that his Bloodstone Emperor / Night’s King archetype does.

Our second Ironborn Balon is one of the more magical-sounding fellows in Iron Islands folklore:

Many legends have come down to us through the millennia of the salt kings and reavers who made the Sunset Sea their own, men as wild and cruel and fearless as any who have ever lived. Thus we hear of the likes of Torgon the Terrible, Jorl the Whale, Dagon Drumm the necromancer, Hrothgar of Pyke and his krakensummoning horn, and Ragged Ralf of Old Wyk.

Most infamous of all was Balon Blackskin, who fought with an axe in his left hand and a hammer in his right. No weapon made of man could harm him, it was said; swords glanced off and left no mark, and axes shattered against his skin.

I don’t know what the truth of this legend is  – most likely it’s a legend that sprung up from the first Ironborn to wear iron plate while reaving, which would have seemed magical to the ones who saw it for the first time. But as for the symbolic message, it’s more that just Balon Blackskin being associated with black like Night’s King, who wore a black cloak of the Night’s Watch; think of some of the magical black armor we’ve seen on a couple Night’s King characters. Jon has his dream of being armored in black ice, and Euron Greyjoy has that suit of Valyrian steel in the Forsaken, both scenes we’ve quoted recently in the Moons of Ice and Fire series. It’s kind of like the say-bael cloak, but upgraded.

That last quoted passage goes on to ask the question whether such fearsome men as Balon Blackskin, Dagon Drumm, and all the rest are at all historical or just the stuff of legend, and goes on to talk about how terrifying the Ironborn reavers would have been to the First Men of the mainland, who had vastly inferior weapons, armor, and seafaring skill. Then we get one of my favorite passages about the Ironborn which seems very similar to the Balon Blackskin legend. That’s the one that tells us that “the men of the green lands told each other that the ironborn were demons risen from some watery hell, protected by fell sorceries and possessed of foul black weapons that drank the very souls of those they slew.”

Protected by fell sorceries sounds an awful lot like magical armor, as Balon Blackskin may have had, and as Euron does have. The other runic armor we hear off is that of House Royce – as in Waymar Royce, who’s crowning glory was the soft-as-sin sable cloak. The foul black weapons I’ve cited before as being connected to the hypothetically black Lightbringer sword that I believe Azor Ahai came to Westeros with, but if we want to think about this practically, it’s likely just another dramatic retelling of what it was like to be the first people to fight against weapons made of black iron.

Overall, I think we can say that the three Balons in Ironborn history, as well as Baelor Blacktyde, fit in very well with everything we think we know about Night’s King.

The last Balon (and you all got my Bale-On the Wall joke, right?) in ASOIAF is from the current story, and he’s a white shadow knight of the kingsguard. I’m giving you hints in case you’d like to guess… I’m speaking of Balon Swann of course, the Kingsguard who was sent to Dorne to bring Myrcella back after his white sword brother Arys Oakheart was killed during Arianne Martell’s failed plot to crown Myrcella. Besides being a white shadow, House Swann has that oh-so-very Daoist sigil of the black and white swans combatant countercharged on black and white fields. Given that the white shadow brothers of the Kingsguard are modeled after the black shadow brothers of the Night’s Watch, that black-and-white swan sigil sure reads like the Others battling the Night’s Watch.

The brothers fighting motif is very, very present in a scene with Balon Swann from ASOS. Right after Jaime gets back to Kings Landing, he’s sort of interviewing his Kingsguard and getting to know them, and here’s how it goes:

“There is only one question I would put to you. You served us loyally, it’s true … but Varys tells me that your brother rode with Renly and then Stannis, whilst your lord father chose not to call his banners at all and remained behind the walls of Stonehelm all through the fighting.”

“My father is an old man, my lord. Well past forty. His fighting days are done.” “And your brother?”

“Donnel was wounded in the battle and yielded to Ser Elwood Harte. He was ransomed afterward and pledged his fealty to King Joffrey, as did many other captives.”

“So he did,” said Jaime. “Even so … Renly, Stannis, Joffrey, Tommen … how did he come to omit Balon Greyjoy and Robb Stark? He might have been the first knight in the realm to swear fealty to all six kings.”

Ser Balon’s unease was plain. “Donnel erred, but he is Tommen’s man now. You have my word.”

“It’s not Ser Donnel the Constant who concerns me. It’s you.” Jaime leaned forward. “What will you do if brave Ser Donnel gives his sword to yet another usurper, and one day comes storming into the throne room? And there you stand all in white, between your king and your blood. What will you do?”

“I … my lord, that will never happen.”

“It happened to me,” Jaime said. Swann wiped his brow with the sleeve of his white tunic. “You have no answer?”

“My lord.” Ser Balon drew himself up. “On my sword, on my honor, on my father’s name, I swear … I shall not do as you did.”

Not only is Jaime suggesting the idea of Balon Swann having to fight his brother Donnel “the Constant,” from our green zombies research we know that Donnel is is a version of Donner, one of Santa’s Reindeer – and more importantly, Donner is the German word for thunder, which is why Beric the Lightning Lord is of House Dondarrion (with dondar being the Dutch equivalent of donner). Thus, like Baelor Hightower with a brother named Garth, Balon Swann has a brother who is implied as a horned lord. This time the notion of the Bael figure fighting his Garth-like brother is directly suggested. The likeness to the Arthurian legend of Balin and Balan is unmistakable now, I would think. There’s also a clever nod to Balor of the Evil Eye – House Swann comes form a castle called “Stonehelm,” and a stone helm is very like a stone giant’s head, suc as we see on the sigil of And once again, the hat-tip goes to Crowfood’s Daughter for spotting this scene with Balon and Jaime! As you can tell, she’s done a bit of research on Bael figures in ASOIAF.


This final section is brought to you by our final three new acolytes of starry wisdom: Rupee the Funkateer, ArchMaester of Synesthesia ; Icarus Drowning, the Public Eye; and Edward Greenhand, the transplanting transplant with a history of history

For our final Bael-ish character it’s… yeah, Petyr Baelish! He’s Bael-ish, get it? I didn’t think of that one, and again I don’t know who was the first to notice it, but it’s clever wordplay on Martin’s behalf, that’s for certain. I am saving an in-depth look at Petyr for the Sansa episode, when we will discuss all things related to Lysa and Petyr and Sansa and the Vale, but let me briefly summarize a couple of things which are relevant to our discussion here.

Petyr’s initial setup is one of a dark solar king with two lady loves – Cat and Lysa. Cat is the one he wants, and Lysa the one he gets, with Cat being a strong fire moon figure as we discussed in Venus of the Woods, and Lysa is of course a great ice queen, as we’ve discussed a couple of times in the Moons of Ice and Fire series. He goes to live in the icy Vale as “Lord Protector,” depicting the dragon locked in ice pattern. Petyr may not be a dragonlord, but he does have “a gift for rubbing two golden dragons together to breed a third,” as Tyrion thinks to himself., and he’s fond of giving moon maidens like Sansa the forbidden pomegranates of Hades… which is of course symbolic of Petyr stealing Sansa away from King’s Landing to the Eyrie.

You may also recall his initial sigil, the one which belonged to grandpa Baelish: the stone head of the Titan of Braavos, complete with fiery eyes! This certainly reminds us of Balor the giant with the burning eye, does it not? The Titan of Braavos holds a broken sword, giving us the familiar symbol of the last hero, and inside Petyr’s little tower on the Fingers, we find another broken sword hanging over the mantle of the fireplace. Even the boat he sails on, the Merling King, makes us think of the statue of the Merling King at White Harbor (a.k.a. Old Fishfoot) who has a trident with a broken prong.

I think George was using a stone head to referencw Balor of the Evil Eye with Balon Swann as well – House Swann comes from a castle called Stonehelm, which is very like the huge stone helm of the Titan of Braavos.

Most importantly, Petyr is the one who lures Sansa to the Vale. As I explained last time, the female version of the dragon locked in ice symbolism emphasizes the black fire moon meteor that lodges in the ice moon as the fire moon queen transforming and becoming Night’s Queen. Sansa does fire moon and Nissa Nissa things at King’s Landing, then flees to the icy Vale, calling herself “Alayne Stone” and darkening her hair and cloak. When she gets there, she supplants the old ice queen, Lysa, and proceeds to do Night’s Queen things herself.  Like I said, we’ll talk about all of that in detail in the future, but as you can see, Petyr Bael-ish hits many of the marks…

..and some of the other Night’s King hallmarks in that storyline are met by the bard who serves as an adjunct to Petyr, Marillion,. He was the singer who traveled to the Eyrie with Lady Cat and Tyrion and Bronn and the rest in AGOT, and the same singer who is later made the scapegoat for Lysa Tully’s murder. This leads to Marillion’s imprisonment in the Eyrie, giving us the depiction of a Night’s King bard locked in ice.  In parallel to Petyr’s abducting Sansa and coming on to her, we have slimy Marillion trying to rape Sansa on the night of Petyr’s wedding to Lysa Tully, another ice moon queen. After Tyrion’s trial and release, he stays in the Vale and ingratiates himself to Lysa – he’s called “Lysa’s singer” and is lavished with gifts and even Jon Arryn’s falcon –  and it’s strongly suggested that coerced or forced himself on several serving girls. In other words, we can see he’s not just stuck in the ice moon symbol of the Eyrie, he’s trying to give his seed to ice moon queens. Later, people say that Lysa was “killed by her singer.”

And then finally, he’s imprisoned in the sky cells and referred to as “a dead man,” which fits the idea of Night’s King giving his soul to Night’s Queen and undergoing some sort of transformation or death transformation. To further the idea of Marillion’s ghost lingering there even after his death, we read that little Sweetrobin can still hear him singing on the wind and in his dreams, every night.

One other thing that works as Night’s King symbolism for Marillion is the fact that he wore the shadowskin cloak of a dead mountain clansman for a while, and the “shadowcat” is just another way of saying Lion of Night (cat of shadow / cat of night / lion of night). Where did he get that shadowskin cloak? From a mountain clansman of the mountains of the Moon, of course. This is a depiction of the sun being cloaked in the darkness of the exploding moon’s smoke, dust and debris and transforming into the Dark Solar King, who can in some instances be Night’s King. It’s also just another version of the shadowskin cloak, and once again it’s being taken from someone after they were killed.

We’ll go through all that in more detail when we do the Sansa at the Eyrie episode – I think that one is going to be next actually – but I had to mention Marillion and Petry Baelish here as they have strong echoes of the other bards and Bael figures. Although we’re finally out of the Baels, we do have a couple of other bards we need to mention. For example, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Blue Bard, that poor unfortunate soul. He’s the singer whom Cersei and Qyburn tortured in the black cells in order to force a false confession that implicated Margarey. He’s a notable fellow because he seems to combine the symbolism of Rhaegar and Lyanna: he’s a singer and a lutist, much like Rhaegar is a singer and harpist, but he’s cloaked in Lyanna’s symbolism. Check out this passage:

The singer’s boots were supple blue calfskin, his breeches fine blue wool. The tunic he wore was pale blue silk slashed with shiny blue satin. He had even gone so far as to dye his hair blue, in the Tyroshi fashion. Long and curly, it fell to his shoulders and smelled as if it had been washed in rosewater. From blue roses, no doubt. At least his teeth are white.

The mention of blue roses sticks out like a sore thumb; this is a clue for us to think about Lyanna. It’s hard to make sense of that unless you consider the mythical astronomy of what happens to our most unfortunate of unfortunates, the Blue Bard:

Lord Qyburn ran a hand up the Blue Bard’s chest. “Does she take your nipples in her mouth during your love play?” He took one between his thumb and forefinger, and twisted. “Some men enjoy that. Their nipples are as sensitive as a woman’s.” The razor flashed, the singer shrieked. On his chest a wet red eye wept blood. Cersei felt ill. Part of her wanted to close her eyes, to turn away, to make it stop. But she was the queen and this was treason. Lord Tywin would not have turned away.

Oh my, it’s a god’s eye nipple! Disgusting, I know – I apologized to Martin Lewis for making him read it – but we do know what bloody eye symbolism means. And hey, if there are two moons, then they could be boobs of ice and fire, right? I wished I was joking, kind of, but I am not. It also happens in ASOS when that disgusting slaver Kraznys cuts off the nipple of an Unsullied to demonstrate their immunity to pain to Dany, and the phrase is “round red eye copiously weeping blood.” Recall the line about Lord Tywin’s ravaging of the Riverlands from Blackfish Tully: “The riverlands are awash in blood and flame all around the Gods Eye.” It’s not easy having a Gods Eye nipple!

Getting back to the Blue Bard, the one eye symbolism is repeated a couple of pages and many hours of torture later, so that we are sure to notice it:

Without the Arbor and its fleet, the realm could never hope to rid itself of this Euron Crow’s Eye and his accursed ironmen. “All you are doing is spitting up the names of men you saw about her chambers. We want the truth!”

“The truth.” Wat looked at her with the one blue eye that Qyburn had left him. Blood bubbled through the holes where his front teeth had been. “I might have … misremembered.”

So there you go. He’s officially received the Odin makeover, and oh yeah, of course his eyes are blue, I forgot to mention that earlier. He looks a lot like Waymar now, with one blind eye and one blue eye, or like Euron, with his blue smiling eye and his blood eye which symbolizes the fire moon destruction. And as you can see, Euron Crow’s Eye is specifically mentioned here by Cersei right before the line about the Bard’s “one blue eye.” It’s an invitation to compare the one-eye symbolism of the Blue Bard to that of Euron, with the Blue Bard’s bloody, weeping red eye nipple matching Euron’s blood eye very well. Essentially, Blue Bard’s two nipples and two eyes function as parallel two moons symbols – that’s why Martin called the sliced nipple a weeping red eye.

To follow that up, there are two possible “others” double entendres, both applied to the other people accused besides the bard, the people he will name as guilty. First, we have this, as Cersei directs his testimony away from certain people and towards others…

“I prefer this song to the other.” Leave the great lords out of it, that was for the best. The others, though …

Those others are again referred to as others a moment later:

“Ser Osney shall confess as well. The others must be made to understand that only through confession can they earn the king’s forgiveness, and the Wall.”

In other words, Cersei doesn’t want Blue Bard to sing “the other song” – the song of the Others, if you will – but rather a song which implicates “the others” as guilty. The song Blue Bard wants to sing is the song of the Others, but Cersei is turning him against “the Others,” just as in the literal plot Cersei is turning him against his friends.

And when the Blue Bard is taken prisoner…

Orton Merryweather’s face was damp with fear. “This . . . oh, infamy . . . he dared seduce the queen?”

“I fear it was the other way around, but he is a traitor all the same. Let him sing for Lord Qyburn.

The Blue Bard went white. “No.” Blood dripped from his lip where the lute had torn it. “I never . . .” When Merryweather seized him by the arm, he screamed, “Mother have mercy, no.”

The “other way around” means Maragarey seduced the Blue Bard, just as Night’s King was entranced by the beautiful ice queen with moon pale skin who took his seed and his soul. This may be one of the purposes of Martin comparing Margarey to Lyanna in AGOT – you may recall Renly showing Ned a picture of his sister and asking him if she looked like Lyanna, and later admitting that he was “scheming to make the girl Robert’s queen.” That’s why he was hoping Margaery had some sort of resemblance to Lyanna – he was hoping she would remind Robert of Lyanna.

I included the Blue Bard partly because it was amusing – well okay, it’s pretty twisted, I suppose, and yeah that was a nipple joke- but the main takeaway here is that Martin is simply using the Blue Bard to reinforce the idea of the Others coming from the ice moon and ice moon figures, and that Lyanna is wrapped up in all this. Appropriately, he’s tied this gruesome, yet symbolically rich eye and nipple gouging scene to Euron Crows Eye and all the one-eyed symbolism that tells the story of the two moons.

To finish up, the Blue Bard is imprisoned by the Faith in the Sept of Baelor, which is of course an ice moon symbol, making him the dragon locked in ice, very like Marillion imprisoned at the Eyrie or Mance locked in a “cold cage” at Winterfell.

Oh what’s this – I am being handed something here, ah, I see. There’s also a Gayleon of Cuy who sings at Joffrey and Margarey’s grand wedding (Gayleon, Bael). I will just have to quote this one:

Galyeon was a big barrel-chested man with a black beard, a bald head, and a thunderous voice that filled every corner of the throne room. He brought no fewer than six musicians to play for him. “Noble lords and ladies fair, I sing but one song for you this night,” he announced. “It is the song of the Blackwater, and how a realm was saved.” The drummer began a slow ominous beat.

“The dark lord brooded high in his tower,” Galyeon began, “in a castle as black as the night.”

“Black was his hair and black was his soul,” the musicians chanted in unison. A flute came in.

“He feasted on bloodlust and envy, and filled his cup full up with spite,” sang Galyeon. “My brother once ruled seven kingdoms, he said to his harridan wife. I’ll take what was his and make it all mine. Let his son feel the point of my knife.”

The dark lord in the tower Gayleon is singing about is of course our good buddy Stannis the Mannis. His Night’s King status is well known to us, but note that it’s reinforced here by more than the dark lord stuff: the song makes Stannis out to be a kind of usurper of his brother. Of course Stannis did kill Renly with the shadowbaby assassin, and the pretend “resurrected Renly” held throw down Stannis at the Blackwater, so we can see that the themes of brother fighting and usurpation run strongly in Stannis’s plotlines.

But here’s the thing: I can’t help but notice that Mr. Gayleon of Cuy himself has black hair, like the dark lord in his tower he’s singing about. House Cuy is from the Reach and hails from a castle called “Sunhouse,” and places six yellow sunflowers on blue for a sigil, so it’s easy to associate Gayleon with the sun – plus the “leon” in his name sounds like lion (and no I won’t make a gay lion joke) – but obviously he’s become a dark sun as he has that black as the night hair that compares to the dark lord in his song.

There’s another, far more important clue about Gayleon being the dark lord sort of singer who brings on the Long Night with the lines “Soon it was full night outside the tall windows, and still Galyeon sang on. His song had seventy-seven verses, though it seemed more like a thousand.” A bard with a thunderous voice, singing to bring on the night, very interesting. It’s Gayleon the Black Dread! I kid, but it’s a very important point actually, one which connects Night’s King to Azor Ahai and the cause of the Long Night: the bard aspect of the Night’s King character has to do with singing to bring on the Long Night.

Alright, well, we’ve reached the point in the original script where I was forced to split it in half, and we’ve reached a fork in the road. We have a lot more to say about the stolen Night’s King baby, the origins of House Stark, and the question of who built the Wall, but now we’ve opened up the topic of bards, singing, and music as it realtes to Night’s King and the Long Night. This situation was inevitable; we had to dig into the connections between Rhaegar, Bael, Mance, and Night’s King, and their stolen children of course, in order to discover this stolen Night’s Queen baby archetype – but that also raised the big question of “why does Night’s King seem to be a bard figure?” It’s wrought absolute hell on my attempts to write cohesive essays that follow one topic at a time; do I continue to follow the trail of the Night’s Queen baby, or address the issue of NK being a bard type?

Basically, these are two different paths to follow, and they will each require their own podcast. The stolen child of Night’s King and Queen, whom I believe to be the ancestor of all Winterfell Starks who came after, is more central to the title of the series, “Blood of the Other,” so Part 2, titled “Eldric Shadowchaser,” will focus squarely on that archetype. We’ve already identified Jon, baby Monster, Bael the Bard’s son, and Theon as stolen Night’s King and Queen babies, and in the next episode we will identify a fresh crop of new ones – ones who aren’t tied to bards or people named Bael. As you might guess from the title, we may or may not be talking about people like Edric Dayne or Edric Storm, and there’s definitely a remote chance of discussing such distinguished figures as the venerable King Edrick Snowbeard Stark, or the legendary Ulrick Dayne, who was the Sword of the Morning in his day. Somehow that’s all going to tie into the the legend of Eldric Shadowchaser and our rescued Other baby… take my word for it.

Then, in a different episode, we’ll come back to the question of how and ‘in what sense’ is the Night’s King a bard or singer or musician, as well as the related question of what part sound, music, and singing plays in the events of the Long Night. That might sound a bit vague and open-ended, so let me just narrow it down a bit for you: that’s going to be the episode about all the magic horns. The Horn of Winter (sometimes called the Horn of Joramun), Euron’s Dragonbinder horn, the broken and chipped old horn Jon and Ghost find on the Fist of the First Men, and even Mance’s fake horn of Joramun that Melisandre burns at the Wall.  I think I’m going to call that Part 3 of Blood of the Other, but I am not totally sure of that. What I do know is that I have a pretty wild new theory about those horns for you, and that the title will assuredly be based on some sort of clever horn-blowing wordplay.

The other episode that’s on deck for the near future is the Sansa at the Eyrie Moons of Ice and Fire episode, which will be jam-packed with next-level ice moon symbolism. After that, I believe it might be time (well past time, actually) that we go under the see with Ravenous Reader, Poetess of the Nennymoans, which is something I have been working towards for a while now.

Most importantly, I am looking forward to seeing all of you at our next livestream QnA, which will be one week from today, on Saturday March 3rd at 3:30 EST. Crowfood’s Daughter will be my special guest, so tune in to the lucifermeanslightbringer YouTube channel and come hang with us! You can submit questions or comments for the livestream on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, or Patreon. Thanks everyone, and I’ll see you then!


Prelude to a Chill

Hey there friends, beloved patrons, and fellow mythical astronomers of the starry host, its your starry host, LmL! I’m here with a fresh new series for you! That’s right, blow your horns of winter, strum your silver harps, and let the crossbows WANG… well maybe hold the crossbows. I didn’t realize you all had crossbows, I thought you were musicians. Who hired these guys?

Anyway, yes, it’s true – quite unexpectedly, it seems we are starting a brand new series today. It just sort of happened – I was writing what I thought was going to be Moons of Ice and Fire 6, and as I blew past the two hour podcast threshold (which is about 20,000 words), I knew I had to split the episode up. After thinking about it, I realized I was really writing about a contained subject centered around the origins of House Stark and the Starks’ connection to the Others, and that it would actually work quite nicely as its own short series.

Something like this happened when I stumbled upon the weirwood goddess idea while writing Weirwood Compendium 5 – I thought it was just going to be one episode of the Weirwood Compendium, but I realized it was a cool topic on its own with more than one episode’s worth of material. So, I made a new series, and I think it’s worked out really well! The Sacred Order of Green Zombies series was also an outgrowth of writing an episode for the Weirwood Compendium, actually – weirwoods are just such a huge topic and lead to so many other things that they just give birth to new series, left and right.

This new series is called Blood of the Other, and it is indeed about the connection between House Stark and the Others. In Part 1, we’ll establish that connection, and in doing so, we’ll discover a cool new ASOIAF archetype that we haven’t discussed before. One disclaimer: acquiring  an understanding of R+L=J as a symbolic alchemical wedding, as we did last time, is essential to understanding this connection between Starks and Others. So if you haven’t listened to Moons of Ice and Fire one through five, then press pause on this one and listen to those first, it’s just going to be a lot more enjoyable that way, buh-LIEVE me.

In the last episode, R+L=J, A Recipe for Making Ice Dragons, we saw that both Jon and the Others are children of icy moon queens and dark solar kings – Rhaegar and Night’s King are both dark solar kings, and Lyanna and Night’s Queen are both icy lunar queens. This creates a strange parallel between Jon and the Others which certainly demands explanation! The coming confrontation between Jon and the Others is going to be a major part of the climax of the story after all, so it’s something we want to understand. I think most of us expect it’s going to be a little more complicated that just a sword fight, and whatever link the Starks have with the Others is bound to be the thing which defines their engagement. As we’ve seen, it’s not just Jon Snow who seems to parallel the Others, and yet oppose them – we could say that the Starks in general, those ice-eyed, snow-bearded ‘Kings of Winter’ who also wield a sword called Ice, also seem to symbolically parallel the Others in many ways – and yet both Jon and the Starks are famously dedicated to fighting the Others. Fight ice with ice, right?

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
–  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

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

Now in PODCAST form!

Click to open in iTunes

At the end of the RLJ episode I left you with the question of why, if Jon and the Others are both symbolic ice moon children, do they come out different? Why does Jon have black ice armor, an inversion of the crystalline, mirror-like ice armor of the Others? Why is Jon symbolized by dragonglass, which is frozen fire, while the Others seem to personify the concept of ‘burning ice?’ Well in the Blood of the Other series, we are going to answer every version of that question. And in doing so, we will manage to pull all this celestial ‘dragon locked in ice’ claptrap firmly down into the conflicted hearts of flesh and blood people… though I can’t swear their hearts aren’t cold.

Another thing I did in the last episode (or two) was piss off hundreds of people who love House Stark by claiming that Night’s King was Azor Ahai or a blood of the dragon person. Old Nan told us Night’s King was a Stark, how f___ing dare I claim otherwise? Am I calling Old Nan a liar?


Of course I’m not calling Old Nan a liar. She is as real as the news gets in Westeros, outside of a direct link to the weirwoodnet. There is an eminently plausible way all this meets up, or rather, a range or possibilities which could explain how this can all work. These possibilities have echoes in the current plot of the story, as we know the right answers to history’s mysteries always should. We’ll discuss those possibilities in this series.

That the Starks are tied to the Others, few have any doubt – the question is how. ‘How are they tied to the Others?’ ‘How did it happen?’ and ‘What does it mean?’ – those are the questions we want to answer, and we’ll do so in Blood of the Other Part 1: A Baeful Bard, a Promised Prince. But first, here in this prelude to a chill, I want to address some of the accepted history that we are contradicting. In particular, I want to try to dispel some of the certainty which has formed around a certain interpretation of the Night’s King legend: namely, that because he was said to be the 13th Lord Commander, that he must have lived some time after the Long Night, as opposed to during the Long Night as the symbolism repeatedly, repeatedly suggests.

This little prelude here will take a decidedly logical and analytical focus, which some of you will enjoy more than others. You guys know this is primarily a symbolism-based podcast, but we do have to discuss the logistics of what the symbolism suggests every now and again so that we can make sure what we are proposing makes sense. I do actually love to talk about the timeline, so let’s get to it.

This prelude is a short episode with only one section, and it’s going to be sponsored by our very first dragon patron – that’s right, one mythical astronomer out there bravely volunteered to be sacrificed and transformed into a dragon. The exact process must remain a mystery, but it’s safe to say that obscene rites and eldritch incantations were performed, the bloodlust of dark gods was sated, and where once stood a man like any other, now we have a dragon patron. Additionally, I’ll be reading the names of the entire starry host up to the Sacred Order of the Black Hand at the end of the podcast version of this episode, since it’s short, and we’ll have more new patrons in Part 1, which will follow hot on the heels of this prelude. Thanks everyone, I couldn’t do it without your support 🙂

8,000 Years Ago, Give or Take a Few Decades

This Prelude is brought to you by our first Dragon Patron, Bronsterys of the lily-white scales and bronze wingbones, horns, and spinal crest, a wise old dragon who riddles with sphinxes. It is said that Bronsterys once forged a life-size Valyrian steel cyvasse set in a single night. 

When I say that the symbolism repeatedly suggests that Night’s King and Queen ruled during the Long Night, I’m referring to examples such as the first two Night’s Queen figures we studied, Visenya Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and the Long Night-like circumstances under which they did things to symbolize the creation of the Others. It was during the black time remembered as “the years of the dragon’s wroth” that followed the death of fire moon queen Rhaenys Targaryen that her sister Queen Visenya created the Kingsguard, those white shadow knights with snowy armor and snow-white cloaks. Rhaegar and Lyanna, some two and a half centuries later, absconded to conceive Jon Snow during a vicious cold snap where King’s Landing was snowed in, the Blackwater Rush frozen over, and the cold winds howled. The Kingsguard at Jon’s birth supply the Others symbolism, of course.

We also had Jon’s two parallel black ice / red fire scenes at the Wall, scenes where his conception was symbolized in parallel with Jon either talking about manning the Wall against the Others or dreaming about doing so. There seems to be extensive symbolism linking Jon’s birth to the onset of Winter and the invasion of the Others, to sort of sum it up in brief.

And so on and so forth, and everything else we’ve mentioned so far in the Moons of Ice and Fire series.

You guys know what I think about a symbolic message that is presented that clearly and that often – it’s not lying to us. Symbolism is subjective to a large extent, so we must always use caution and judgement when interpreting, but we can be confident in the basic message when it’s coming at us from so many angles. If you generally understand and agree with the way I and other fellow analysts view Martin’s use of symbolism, I think there can be little doubt that some part of the origin of the Others lies with the cold womb of the Night’s Queen.

Similarly, we’ve seen enough ice queens in action to know that they always marry and conceive in the coldest of winter, surrounded by the symbolism of the Others and the Long Night, and thus we can have little doubt that Night’s Queen and King  create the Others during the Long Night.

Now if we’re correct about that, then there should be logical ways to explain the apparent conflict with the “official history,” and we should be able to find clues left by the author about which parts of the official history we should cast an especially suspicious eye at. By way of comparison, we were told Azor Ahai was a hero, but we noticed he was stabbing his wife and breaking the moon, and so we began to question it. When the symbolism seemed to point unmistakably towards Azor Ahai as some kind of dark lord who brought on the Long Night, we found the sort of agreement we are looking for – clues to question a theory in conjunction with symbolism that points towards a sensible alternative.


Another great example is the Hammer of the Waters. We are told the Hammer of the Waters fell thousands of years before the Long Night, and that greenseers of the children of the forest worked powerful blood magic to cause it. But the maesters flat out admit it doesn’t make much sense for the children to break the Arm of Dorne after thousands of First Men had already crossed:

Even if we accept that the old gods broke the Arm of Dorne with the Hammer of the Waters, as the legends claim, the greenseers sang their song too late.
No more wanderers crossed to Westeros after the Breaking, it is true, for the First Men were no seafarers…but so many of their forebears had already made the crossing that they outnumbered the dwindling elder races almost three to one by the time the lands were severed, and that disparity only grew in the centuries that followed, for the women of the First Men brought forth sons and daughters with much greater frequency than the females of the elder races. 

Kind of a ‘closing the barn doors after the horses have escaped,’ if you will. Jojen even says “The old songs say that the greenseers used dark magics to make the seas rise and sweep away the land, shattering the Arm, but it was too late to close the door.” So, it’s exactly like closing the barn door after the horses have escaped – it was essentially pointless. When we’re being openly invited to question the history like that, we should!

I’d also argue that if the children possessed the kind of magic that can cause earthquakes to happen at specific places of their choosing, why wouldn’t they have just dropped smaller “hammers”on the ringforts of the First Men, when they were all conveniently gathered in one spot? Wouldn’t simply demonstrating that power a couple of times be sufficient to cow mankind? I guess is the question I’m asking is ‘who would want to build castles in a land where the elves can cause earthquakes?’ I also question the notion of the children – who are caretakers of the earth and the wood, as all elves are – would destroy so much of the earth to win a war for self preservation. That sounds more like the rationale of a human  being retroactively applied to the children of the forest.

All things considered, the story about the children of the forest dropping the hammer has plenty of holes in it, and it even has Maesters pointing at some of them. So when the symbolism around the Hammer of the Waters and the places where it dropped, like Sunspear and Bloodstone, all point flashing red arrow signs towards a moon meteor impact as the explanation, we again find what we are looking for: clues to question a theory, and symbolism which points towards a sensible alternative.

With this in mind, let’s consider what we know about Night’s King, the Night’s Watch, the Long Night, and the War for the Dawn, beginning with the idea of Night’s King being the “thirteenth man to lead the watch.” As we go, we’ll look for clues that we should be questioning what we are told.

Most people assume the Watch was formed during the Long Night, and in fact TWOIAF clarifies this, saying that

Alone he finally reached the children, despite the efforts of the white walkers, and all the tales agree this was a turning point. Thanks to the children, the first men of the Night’s Watch banded together and were able to fight—and win—the Battle for the Dawn: the last battle that broke the endless winter and sent the Others fleeing to the icy north. 

This is only the recounting of folklore by skeptical maesters, and not fact, but it is nevertheless true that most seem to think the Watch originates with the battle against the Others during the Long Night.

Butttttt….. the maesters also say that “the Age of Heroes” is regarded to have ended with the Long Night – hence the name “the last hero” for the man who helped end the Long Night. So why does Sam, reading from the oldest histories at Castle Black, tell us about the Night’s Watch existing during the Age of Heroes?

“Long ago,” Jon broke in. “What about the Others?”

“I found mention of dragonglass. The children of the forest used to give the Night’s Watch a hundred obsidian daggers every year, during the Age of Heroes. 

Either the Age of Heroes was after the Long Night – which I absolutely think is possible, and perhaps even probable – or the Night’s Watch existed before the Long Night. Or maybe the records are simply mistaken. And here’s the thing: George wants this stuff to be foggy.

“The Others.” Sam licked his lips. “They are mentioned in the annals, though not as often as I would have thought. The annals I’ve found and looked at, that is. There’s more I haven’t found, I know. Some of the older books are falling to pieces. The pages crumble when I try and turn them. And the really old books … either they have crumbled all away or they are buried somewhere that I haven’t looked yet or … well, it could be that there are no such books and never were. The oldest histories we have were written after the Andals came to Westeros. The First Men only left us runes on rocks, so everything we think we know about the Age of Heroes and the Dawn Age and the Long Night comes from accounts set down by septons thousands of years later. There are archmaesters at the Citadel who question all of it. Those old histories are full of kings who reigned for hundreds of years, and knights riding around a thousand years before there were knights. You know the tales, Brandon the Builder, Symeon Star-Eyes, Night’s King … we say that you’re the nine-hundred-and-ninety-eighth Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, but the oldest list I’ve found shows six hundred seventy-four commanders, which suggests that it was written during—”

“Long ago,” Jon broke in. “What about the Others?”

And then Sam goes on to tell Jon about the Night’s Watch receiving dragonglass form the children of the forest during the Age of Heroes. As you can see, what George has done is recreate the fog of history and legend, as well as the political bias of the conquerors which often shapes the history we are given – and he’s done a good job of it. That’s what makes this fun! In any case, I think I’ve made my point – when it comes to the sequence of events that happened thousands of years ago, the accepted history could be off by centuries and even eons, and much of it may be stylized or metaphorical.

With all that said, let’s go ahead and work with the premise that the Night’s Watch was established in the form that we know it during the Long Night, as I think that makes the most sense. In terms of Night’s King being the thirteenth Lord Commander, the thinking goes like this: if the first man to lead the watch lived during the Long Night. thirteen Lord Commanders later would be like 100 – 200 years after the War for the Dawn, and thus Night’s King must have lived a couple of centuries after the Long Night. That’s the commonly held timeline, at least in the fandom if not in the minds of the people in universe who care to consider such matters.

The first potential issue with this is that we do not know how long the Long Night went on, and because it seems to have involved a deadly war against the Others, it’s well possible that twelve commanders died during the course of the war. Here’s the key Old Nan quote about this:

“The Others,” Old Nan agreed. “Thousands and thousands of years ago, a winter fell that was cold and hard and endless beyond all memory of man. There came a night that lasted a generation, and kings shivered and died in their castles even as the swineherds in their hovels. Women smothered their children rather than see them starve, and cried, and felt their tears freeze on their cheeks.” Her voice and her needles fell silent, and she glanced up at Bran with pale, filmy eyes and asked, “So, child. This is the sort of story you like?”

“Well,” Bran said reluctantly, “yes, only …”

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

What Old Nan is describing here is more than a battle – it’s a war of conquest that swept of kingdoms, plural, and armies, plural. The Long Night was said last “a generation,” which is a flexible length of time, but I have to think it lasted at least 6 – 12 years at a minimum, and the humans seem to have been at war with the Others for at least part of that time. Honestly you could go through several commanders in a single pitched battle against the Others, and it’s easy to see how 12 commanders could perish over the course of several battles, let alone several years of battles.

Although the “first men of the Night’s Watch” were said to band together to win the War for the Dawn and end the Long Night, we can’t take that so rigidly as to rule out the idea that the previous commanders of the armies of men might be regarded as the first twelve “men to lead the Watch.” What if the first Night’s Watch was grew out of an elite fighting force that already existed before the Long Night in a different form, like, oh, I don’t know, “The Sacred Order of the Green Men?” Or perhaps it was the “Gemstone Emperor Royal House Guard?” Be it one of those or something else entirely, it’s easy to see that there could have been an earlier incarnation of the Watch during the Long Night, before there were sworn to man the Wall for all eternity at the end of the Long Night. Maybe that’s where the plural form of “walls” in the “I am the watcher on the walls” part of the oath comes from – the days when the Watch was stationed somewhere else with multiple walls, be that the Nightfort or Winterfell or Moat Cailin or even the far-off Five Forts in Essos.

That plural “walls” line that doesn’t quite fit is the sort of thing we’re looking for – logic dictates that George worded it that way intentionally to create the sense that there’s an unsolved mystery there, and the obvious question is “what walls?” Why wouldn’t the oath say the more obvious “I am the Watcher on the Wall?” There is only one 700 foot tall wall of ice, after all.

Besides unexplained mysteries like this, we are also looking for clues about parts of the legends which may not be literal truth, but rather an embellishment of the ‘bard’s truth,’ or perhaps more of a symbolic truth, or simply a distortion of time. One thing that sticks out like a sore thumb to me is all the thirteens – was Night’s King really the thirteenth Lord Commander AND he ruled for thirteen years? AND the last hero led a group of thirteen?

This seems like the kind of thing which is likely to be symbolic, and not literal; it seems more likely thirteen is a number significant to old northern folklore, and over the centuries, everything about these two related legends simply became thirteen. The numbers of things in legends and myths of the real world are very frequently symbolic, and this trio of 13’s is very likely to be so as well.

Here’s another thing that sticks out as stylized, bard’s truth language. Old Nan says “Night’s King was only a man by light of day, but the night was his to rule,” and we could take it literally and suppose Night’s King is like a werewolf with special powers active only at night… but I think it makes a lot more sense to think about a person who transformed once when the Long Night fell, with the Long Night being his to rule, as it was for the so-called “Bloodstone Emperor” in eastern legend. Thirteen years isn’t a bad guess for the length of the Long Night, for what it’s worth, so you can see how some of this might fit together – Night’s King was only a man before the Long Night, but became something more than a man when it fell, seizing power for the next thirteen years until he was defeated at the War for the Dawn. I really think something along those lines makes more sense than the werewolf thing. I mean, you’d just attack him during the day, problem solved.

Another thing which makes people think Night’s King lived after the Long Night is the part of the Night’s King legend which says he spied the lovely Corpse Queen from atop the Wall, indicating the Wall was already built when Night’s King did his thing. Since most think the Wall was built after the Long Night, the chronology again seems to place the reign of Night’s King after the Long Night. However, this is far from ironclad.

We still don’t even have a strong bead on who built the Wall, how it was built, or even why it was built, let alone when. There is logic to the classic explanation of keeping out the armies of the dead and the Others, but many problems too. The obvious answer to the question of ‘who would have been able to build a magical 700 foot high wall of ice?’ is of course the Others, whom our author says “can do things with ice that we can’t imagine and make substances of it.” But the Others are supposedly the very ones the Wall was built to stop! If it wasn’t built by the Others, but to stop the Others, why build it out of ice, which the Others have superior control over?

The Wall, courtesy HBO’s Game of Thrones

Consider also that Bran the Builder was said to have been associated with the building of the Wall… but Bran was also said to have lived in the Age of Heroes, which supposedly took place before the Long Night, and Bran was also associated with other seemingly pre-Long Night structures like Storm’s End and the final version of the Hightower of Oldtown, and with their affiliated Age of Heroes monarchs, Durran Godsgrief and Uthor Hightower. In other words, the official timeline appears to contradict itself where it concerns the building of the Wall and when Bran the Builder lived. Once again the Maesters point to this problem, and suggest multiple Brandons building multiple buildings to be more likely.

This is more fog of history stuff, and it’s pretty fun to debate in its own right. “How many Brandons does it take to build an ice wall?” Nobody but the greenseers and the children know the truth.

We in the fandom have developed good theories and solutions for a lot of the mysteries in the series, but the question of who built the Wall and when and for what purpose is still fairly opaque. (hardy har) Until the writing of this essay, I didn’t have any sort of real clue about it either! (That’s right, I found a couple, which I’ll show you in due course.) Additionally, we don’t know if Bran the Builder lived before or after the Long Night, or maybe even both if he survived through it, or if “Bran the Builder” is simply a line of people who were advanced masons and architects back in the day, as is suggested in TWOIAF. Therefore, it is difficult to use the building of the Wall as a way to date when Night’s King lived, and as you can see, we’ve stumbled upon several more unresolved issues with the official timeline and the accepted history.

Here’s another thought to consider: it’s quite possible that the Wall would not have been the first thing built in that area. Before wanting to build a giant Wall to defend the land, you’d have to be established there already. You’d be trying to mark a boundary, effectively, and you’d do that at the edge of your claimed territory – usually kingdoms have fortresses (or ‘forts,’ you might say) on their borders. And if humans were involved in building the Wall on some level, then you’d want to built an outpost or fortress first to use as a base of operations. We are told that the Nightfort is the largest and oldest castle on the Wall, so it is the likely candidate to be this first fortress. It probably wasn’t as big at first, like all castles, but the fact that it’s the oldest means it could have actually been built before the Wall, and that’s something I don’t hear anyone else pointing out. The mainstream media just won’t cover it! Anyway.

Here’s another big clue about the possibility that the Nightfort predates the Wall: the Black Gate. The Nightfort, in my opinion, seems likely to have been built around the magical weirwood organism that lives there – the Black Gate, a.k.a. the freaky-deaky, blind, talking weirwood face down in the well. I think it’s probably similar to Wintefell, where the castle was built around the underground crypts and the godswood (“They were old, those eyes; older than Winterfell itself. They had seen Brandon the Builder set the first stone, if the tales were true; they had watched the castle’s granite walls rise around them.”)

Above the well at the Nightfort, we see a new growth weirwood pushing up through the masonry of the floor, and it seems a good guess the Black Gate weirwood face is connected to that sapling, and that there are a ton of weirwood roots under the Nightfort. The Black Gate itself must either open up to a cavern system or some kind of weird portal – it’s just not specified where Bran and company go after they go through the weirwood mouth.

In other words, the Nightfort is not just an old castle where a bunch of creepy things happened. It’s an ancient place with powerful and remarkably unique magic – I mean it’s the only talking weirwood face we’ve ever seen, that’s pretty unique. It’s a place we don’t know the full story of yet, and it’s just the sort of place with a story that might begin before the Long Night and the Wall. It may well have been a great castle of the First Men from before the Long Night, one that was then taken by evil Azor Ahai-turned Night’s King as his stronghold during the Long Night, with the Wall only being built around it afterward. The legend gradually changed to suppose Night’s King must have seen his Corpse Queen from atop the Wall, and presto. That’s how we get the me we have now.


The Nightfort, courtesy HBO’s Game of Thrones

Here’s another self-contradiction in the accepted timeline, and one of my favorites: if Night’s King lived one or two centuries after the Long Night, why were there Others around to sacrifice to? Why, so soon after they had their ass kicked by the last hero and the Night’s Watch, would there be Others lurking around the Nightfort? In the present day of the story, we are led to believe the Others have not been seen in centuries before they began stirring some time in the last 2 decades, so it’s weird to think of them already stirring and walking the woods so soon after their big defeat at the Battle for the Dawn and the ending of the Long Night. It’s not impossible, but it doesn’t really make much sense.

Some have suggested Night’s King was “sacrificing to the Others” as part of keeping a pact with the Others, with that pact being the thing holding them back from invading. That doesn’t really work though, because if it was Night’s King’s sacrifice of his children that was holding the Others back, then the Others should have invaded after Night’s King was thrown down and the sacrifices stopped, breaking the pact – but they did not. That one is pretty hard to get around – if giving the Others babies mollifies and pacifies them, they really should have invaded after Night’s King was thrown down.

In current times, we have Craster giving many children to the Others, but they are stirring and preparing to invade anyway. Giving them babies just makes more Others, I think. Heck, it seems more likely that Craster giving up his sons to be made into Others might have helped the white walkers begin to stir, as opposed to holding them off, since Mance indicates they have been stirring for several years now. That’s what I am claiming about Night’s King and Queen too, that were making Others to enable the great White Walker invasion.

At this point in our Mythical Astronomy journey through the symbolism of the Others, you can see why I started off the Moons of Ice and Fire series with the topic of Night’s Queen and Night’s King making white shadows during the Long Night. It’s the main thing we need to understand about the Others that runs contrary to the accepted history, and it’s the thing that all the symbolism points to.

On top of the symbolism, George gave us Craster, the human white walker factory, to show us that “sacrificing to the Others” in fact means playing a part in in the process of white walker creation by “giving your sons to the wood.” We’ve been studying Martin’s writing long enough to understand that he likes to create these parallels between the in -world legends and the main action of the book, and the parallel between Gilly and Craster and Night’s King and Queen is one of the best precisely because it clues us in to part of the recipe for making an Other. Then when we read the legend of Night’s King for the second or third time, we recognize the phrase “sacrificing to the Others” and we realize – oh, Night’s King and Queen were not just worshiping the Others, they were creating them.

So if Craster and Gilly are these important parallel figures to Night’s King and Queen, at least in regards to sacrificing to the Others… what about the one that got away? What about Gilly’s child, the babe nicknamed Monster, who was meant to be given to the white walkers, but wasn’t? What kind of historical parallel does that suggest?

Tune in next time for Blood of the Other, Part 1: A Baelful Bard and A Promised Prince to find out!

R+L=J, A Recipe for Ice Dragons

Hey there friends, patrons, and fellow mythical astronomers! It’s a very special day today – it’s the R+L=J episode. It’s fitting that the fandom has come to refer to Jon’s secret parentage with an equation, what might also be called a formula or even a recipe, because Jon’s conception and birth is indeed symbolic of a formula with greater importance for the story – it’s the recipe for making ice dragons! What do I mean by that? Well, we’re going to talk about that today of course, but in short, the ice dragons I’m referring to are the Others, and the last hero – more specifically, the Others and the new last hero figure known as Jon Snow, the frozen version of Azor Ahai reborn.

Jon is a symbolic ice dragon by virtue of his parents’ symbolism. Rhaegar is a black dragon figure, and he gives his seed to Lyanna Stark of the blue winter rose. Similarly, the Others are created when Night’s King gives his seed to the moon-pale, ice-cold Night’s Queen. If Night’s King was a blood of the dragon person as I propose, then his creating Others with Night’s Queen expresses the same pattern as R + L = J: a black dragon figure has his fiery seed “frozen” in the cold womb of an ice queen, with Lyanna being a symbolic ice queen and Night’s Queen being a literal one.

This creates a parallel between Jon and the Others, and in the last episode, The Long Night Was His to Rule, we saw that Jon does seem to share some amount of symbolism with the Others, such as his being called Lord Snow, his dreaming of being armored in ice, and then there was that funny line where the Other-like wildlings were crossing through the Wall and it said “Others smiled at him like long- lost kin.” This seems a perplexing mystery at first, but by the end of this episode I think we are going to understand it well.

So in terms of mythical astronomy archetypes, R + L = J translates to “dark solar king (Rhaegar) + icy moon queen (Lyanna) = ice dragon children (Jon).” That’s our recipe, and as with all major symbolic patterns in ASOIAF, it has a celestial companion, a heavenly mirroring of the archetypal drama on the ground. That’s what mythical astronomy as a concept is all about, after all!

You all know what the dark solar king is by now, I think I’ve repeated it enough times – it’s the darkened sun of the Long Night. The sun is darkened first by the fire moon moving into the Gods Eye eclipse position (wandering too close to the sun, as it says in the Qarthine legend), and then by the dust and debris from the fire moon’s explosion (the waves of night symbolism). In both cases, it is the combination of the fire moon and the sun which creates the “dark sun.” This is basically like saying Azor Ahai become a dark lord after killing his wife, Nissa Nissa. Killing the moon maiden is an evil act, and it transforms the solar king.

So, up in the sky, fire moon appears to combine with the sun, creating the Gods Eye eclipse symbol, then explodes in meteor dragon childbirth to creates the dark sun symbol. These black fire moon meteors can be now seen as the dark solar king’s sword or seed, as I mentioned last time. And in a two moon system, it is inevitable that if one moon exploded, in whole or in part, some of the shrapnel would strike the other moon, which would be the ice moon. When one of those dark solar king star seeds impregnates the nearby ice moon, that is the ice dragon recipe in action, the celestial version of RLJ. It’s the dark solar king – think Rhaegar or Night’s King – giving his star seed to the icy moon queen, who is like Night’s Queen or Lyanna.

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

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

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

Weirwood Goddess

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

Now in PODCAST form!

In other words, and I just want make this crystal clear, what I’m proposing – this one celestial chain reaction scenario mirrors both the conception of Jon and the creation of the Others. Whether in the sky or on the ground, it’s the same pattern: a night-associated black dragon figure giving his seed to an icy moon figure.

This creates two kinds of ice dragon children: the black dragon meteor that strikes the ice moon and becomes trapped in the ice, and the pieces of ice moon that would have been chipped off by the impact. The black dragon locked in the ice moon represents Jon, who is in so many ways depicted as a black dragon or crow lodged in ice and snow. Just to scratch the surface, you may recall the line from Bran’s coma dream about Jon, the one that comes just before Bran set eyes on that terrifying Heart of Winter and its dawn lights of the 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.” Don’t worry, we’ll be expanding on this in detail later today.

As for the Others, they symbolize the pieces of ice moon that would have been chipped off by the impact – ice moon meteor dragons in other words. Hence the cold burning star eyes of the Others, I believe, which signify their status as cold falling star people. As I set out in the very first Moons of Ice and Fire episode, the Others parallel the dragons as symbols of falling stars of the moon meteor variety, with the dragons “coming from the moon” according to legend and the Others coming from a moon-pale icy priestess. They come from this ice moon queen only when Night’s King gives her his dragon seed, mimicking the celestial sequence that has ice moon meteors coming from the ice moon when it is struck by a black meteor.

We can also see that this hypothetical celestial sequence matches the myths about the Others coming for the first time during the Long Night. The fire moon explosion begins the Long Night, and as an immediate consequence, the ice moon is struck and impregnated, yielding up some icy moon meteors. Those ice moon meteors are analogous to the Others, and they would have indeed come shortly after the fall of the Long Night, as the Others did. It’s not really the topic of today’s episode, but according to my theory, one of those ice moon meteors would have been the pale stone from which Dawn was made.

Sometimes, I have to say, I feel like drawing diagrams for this stuff. Martin has his own way of doing this – he describes an eclipse by telling us that the moon wandered too close to the sun, he has Yoren draw pictures in the dirt with a stick, or he uses House Sigils like this one from House Pryor which shows a black moon sliding into eclipse position, or Euron’s Crows Eye sigil which looks a lot like my own eclipse-eye logo. He uses family trees quite a lot. But the very best diagrams of what seems to be happening in space come from the dragon-on-dragon battles. There’s one in particular involving Vhagar the symbolic ice dragon which acts as a perfect visual depiction of this whole dragon locked in ice concept, and I think it will seem less abstract and esoteric if we start with a “diagram,” as it were, as a prelude to RLJ.

As strange as this sounds, this dragon battle will essentially be dramatization of Jon’s conception, I want you to keep that in mind. Of course, it will be simultaneously be showing us the fire moon meteor lodging in the ice moon, because that’s how this works. As above, so below.

Thanks as always to George R. R. Martin for inviting us into his world of Ice and Fire, and a heartfelt thanks to our Patreon sponsors – and that’s “heartfelt” in a ‘you keep the lights on’ kinda way, so cheers – and a very special extra thank you to three stalwart Patrons who have allowed me to spill their blood in front of the heart trees with a sickle shaped blade… in order to be raised as green zombies, and our first three members of the Mythical Astronomy Long Night’s Watch.  The Long Night is coming, and we need twelve brave souls to volunteer – see our Patreon page for details. Or perhaps you can’t stand those with hot blood in their veins, or those green zombie abominations in the Night’s Watch, and you’d prefer to be a white walker of the woods, riding the winds of winter to extinguish all life. Again, details on our Patreon page, which you can find a link to As usual, we’ll be having a follow up livestream QnA for this episode, not this upcoming Saturday the 13th, but rather the 20th of January.

Alright, now to a fictional story of an uncle and a nephew using dragons to kill each other over a lake.

Crouching Daemon, Flying Dragon

The section is dedicated to our first three Patrons to volunteer their lives to the Long Night’s Watch: Charon Ice-Eyes, Dread Ferryman of the North, Wielder of the Staff of the Gods; Ser Cletus Yronwood Reborn of the Never-Lazy Eye, wrestler of bulls, and Lady Jane of House Celtigar, Emerald of the Evening and Captain of the Dread Ship Eclipse Wind

The dragon-on-dragon fight that takes place over the Gods Eye lake between Daemon Targaryen riding Caraxes the Bloodwyrm and Aemond One-Eye Targayen riding Vhagar is one of my very favorite pieces of mythical astronomy in the entire series. It’s really tremendous because the Gods Eye concept is spelled out with a sky-ground parallel. The lake correlates to the sun, and the Isle of Faces to the fire moon, and that’s highlighted in the middle of a fight where the fire moon dragon blocks the sun and makes an eclipse, with the end of the fight giving us both dragons falling to the Gods Eye lake, bringing the above and below versions of the metaphor smashing together.

I’ve been saving it for a special occasion, and it seems that the RLJ episode is that occasion.

As you will recall, when Vhagar the “hoary old bitch” dragon is ridden Aemond One-Eye Targaryen, with his blue star sapphire eye, they combine to make the ice dragon symbol, and thus the ice moon symbol (particularly since Vhagar is referred to as a she-dragon). In the last Vhagar dragon battle, we had a red dragon, Meleys the Red Queen, playing the fire moon role, and in this fight we have another red dragon, Caraxes the Bloodwyrm, who I think is also representing the fire moon.

More specifically, Caraxes and Daemon are playing the role of a fiery dragon meteor coming from the fire moon explosion. A star seed of the dark sun, in other words. Daemon Targyen and his black armor adds the black, while the dragon is red with black horns and accents. Most importantly, Daemon wields Dark Sister, a smoke-dark Valyrian steel sword. At the beginning of the fight, we will see Caraxes move into an “eclipse alignment” and divebomb from the direction of the sun, depicting the transformation of a fire moon into a fire moon meteor, or said another way, a dark star seed coming from the dark sun.

Daemon himself is easy to identify as an evil Azor Ahai, dark solar king type. Just as Night’s King was a usurper king whose brother was said to be the Stark King of Winter, Daemon declared himself the “King of the Narrow Sea” when he quarreled with his brother, the rightful king Viserys I, thereby setting himself up as a kind of rival or usurper king. Fantastically, Daemon made his seat on Bloodstone Island in the Stepstones, giving him a great tie to the Bloodstone Emperor, who is kind of the original usurping dark solar king. Daemon also shares his name with his grandson, Daemon Blackfyre, who bore the sword Blackfyre and loved it so much he named his house after it, thus conferring even more dark solar king / black dragon symbolism onto Daemon.

So we have an evil Azor Ahai figure in Daemon, riding a fire moon dragon, Caraxes… and of course they are coming for Vhagar, our ice moon symbol.

I have quoted this scene before, but with the ice moon ideas in mind, it takes on new meaning and deserves another look:

Prince Daemon took Caraxes up swiftly, lashing him with a steel-tipped whip until they disappeared into a bank of clouds. Vhagar, older and much the larger, was also slower, made ponderous by her very size, and ascended more gradually, in ever widening circles that took her and her rider out over the waters of the Gods Eye. The hour was late, the sun was close to setting, and the lake was calm, its surface glimmering like a sheet of beaten copper. Up and up she soared, searching for Caraxes as Alys Rivers watched from atop Kingspyre Tower in Harrenhal below.

The attack came sudden as a thunderbolt. Caraxes dove down upon Vhagar with a piercing shriek that was heard a dozen miles away, cloaked by the glare of the setting sun on Prince Aemond’s blind side. The Blood Wyrm slammed into the older dragon with terrible force. Their roars echoed across the Gods Eye as the two grappled and tore at one another, dark against a blood red sky. So bright did their flames burn that fisherfolk below feared the clouds themselves had caught fire. Locked together, the dragons tumbled toward the lake. The Blood Wyrm’s jaws closed about Vhagar’s neck, her black teeth sinking deep into the flesh of the larger dragon. Even as Vhagar’s claws raked her belly open and Vhagar’s own teeth ripped away a wing, Caraxes bit deeper, worrying at the wound as the lake rushed up below them with terrible speed.

What’s happened here is that the Caraxes and Daemon first create the Gods Eye eclipse alignment by attacking with the setting sun at their back, just as the moon wandered too close to the sun before exploding if fiery dragon meteor childbirth. As if to reflect that alignment, the Gods Eye lake, which is analogous to the sun in the Gods Eye eclipse alignment, shines like beaten copper, which is a solar symbol (think of Drogo’s face like a copper mask, for example). Their red and black dive-bomb attack mimics a fire moon meteor flying from the eclipse alignment, and it lands…

…in the ice moon symbol, Vhagar ridden Aemond One-Eye. The idea of a black meteor embedding in the ice is implied by the Bloodwyrm slamming into Vhagar with terrible force, by Caraxes’ black teeth “sinking deep into the flesh” of the white dragon, and there’s one more thing… that thing which I like to call “the most badass thing anyone ever did in Westeros:”

And it was then, the tales tell us, that Prince Daemon Targaryen swung a leg over his saddle and leapt from one dragon to the other. In his hand was Dark Sister, the sword of Queen Visenya. As Aemond One-Eye looked up in terror, fumbling with the chains that bound him to his saddle, Daemon ripped off his nephew’s helm and drove the sword down into his blind eye, so hard the point came out the back of the young prince’s throat. Half a heartbeat later, the dragons struck the lake, sending up a gout of water so high that it was said to have been as tall as Kingspyre Tower.

Neither man nor dragon could have survived such an impact, the fisherfolk who saw it said. Nor did they. Caraxes lived long enough to crawl back onto the land. Gutted, with one wing torn from his body and the waters of the lake smoking about him, the Blood Wyrm found the strength to drag himself onto the lakeshore, expiring beneath the walls of Harrenhal. Vhagar’s carcass plunged to the lake floor, the hot blood from the gaping wound in her neck bringing the water to a boil over her last resting place. When she was found some years later, after the end of the Dance of the Dragons, Prince Aemond’s armored bones remained chained to her saddle, with Dark Sister thrust hilt-deep through his eye socket.

Talk about a warrior who knew no fear! And talk about mythical astronomy! You could not ask for a better example of a black fire moon meteor – the ones that symbolize Azor Ahai reborn, the black dragon – than Daemon in his black armor, leaping from the red dragon to the hoary white one, like solar king Azor Ahai skipping from one moon to the other. This is followed by a second ice moon impregnation symbol as Daemon jams the dark blade Dark Sister right through the star sapphire in Aemond’s blind eye.

That’s pretty freaking metal if anything is, and it’s also detailed mythical astronomy. Valyrian steel is a prime symbol of a black fire moon meteor, and since the two moons are like sisters, I think ‘Dark Sister’ is an excellent name for a piece of the moon which was burnt black. So that’s a black dragon sword from the dark sister moon, delivered to the ice moon with love by the dark solar king.

Although Visenya isn’t stabbed with Dark Sister, the fact that she is a Night’s Queen figure who carried around Dark Sister in her day creates the same metaphor – the ice moon queen carries a piece of her dark sister around with her. Brienne the Blue is another icy moon maiden, and when she carries Oathkeeper, it’s basically the same as Visenya carrying Dark Sister. Who gave Oathkeeper to Brienne? A solar lion, Jaime Lannister, or we might say it came from Tywin by way of Jaime.

Returning to the dragon-fight at the Gods Eye, I think the fact that Aemond One Eye’s corpse was found years later at the bottom of the lake, still chained to Vhagar, with Dark Sister still lodged in his skill, is an important clue. It speaks of this black moon meteor still being stuck in that ice moon, as I believe it may be still in the current story.

It’s funny to think about, but if we compare this fight between fire and ice moon dragons to the symbolism of Euron’s eyes as the two moons, in the symbolic sense, it’s basically equivalent to Euron’s blood eye attacking his smiling eye. The black and red blood eye / crow’s eye is equivalent to Dameon riding Caraxes, attacking from a solar eclipse position, while Euron’s blue smiling eye would correlate to Aemond-One Eye riding Vhagar, impregnated in violent fashion by black moon meteor symbols Daemon and Dark Sister. I don’t expect Euron to go cross-eyed or anything but I find that making these comparison helps to keep all the symbolism straight in your mind, and sometimes it leads to funny ideas like one of Euron’s eye attacking the other.

As I mentioned at the top, Daemon stabbing Aemond in the Eye with that sword is also equivalent to Night’s King giving his seed and soul to Night’s Queen, or Rhaegar impregnating Lyanna. Be it dragon sword or dragon seed, both depict the black dragon fire moon meteor being planted in an ice moon symbol. As ever, sex and swordplay, the dual metaphor. Daemon, like Night’s King, was an evil Azor Ahai, red dragon / black armor type, and when he jams Dark Sister into the blue star eye, he’s showing us the Night King giving his dragon seed to an icy moon symbol, and yes, as odd as it sounds, Rhaegar putting little baby Jon’s sperm in Lyanna’s womb. She did die giving birth after all, and Rhaegar also dies around the same time.

Accordingly, this fight happens on the same day as the Storming of the Dragonpit, perhaps the most fantastic fire moon death metaphor outside of Dany’s alchemical wedding:

On the twenty-second day of the fifth moon of the year 130 AC, Aemond One-eye and Daemon Targaryen entered their last battle. On that same day, chaos and death seized King’s Landing. Queen Rhaenyra had imprisoned Lord Corlys for helping his grandson, Ser Addam Velaryon, escape arrest when he was accused of treason. Some of the Sea Snake’s sworn swords joined the riotous mob in Cobbler’s Square, and some scaled the walls to try to free the Sea Snake, only to be hanged when they were caught. Queen Helaena then fell to her death, impaled on the spikes surrounding Maegor’s Holdfast—a suicide some said, and others a murder. And that night, the city burned as the Shepherd’s mob marched on the Dragonpit, attempting to slay all the dragons within.

Not only do we get the storming of the Dragonpit as a fire moon death metaphor, but also queen Helaena leaping to her death. Helaena was the grieving wife of the wounded King Aegon II, and thus a Nissa Nissa / fire moon figure, and of course falling to your death work well to depict a moon falling from heaven. If you think back to Weirwood Compendium 3, Garth of the Gallows, you’ll recall our discussion of Elenei – a child of the gods who came down to earth – seems to be based on Helen of Troy, and Helaena seems to fit the mold. Daenerys also seems to draw influence from the Norse goddess Hel, which could be another thing referenced by Helaena’s name.

The reason I point out that Helaena’s death and the storming of the Dragonpit occurred on the same day as Daemon and Aemond’s dragon-fight is the timing of it all. The ice moon is impregnated basically right after the fire moon explodes and the Long Night falls. It was the same with the dragon fight we looked at last time at Rook’s Rest, where Aemond One-Eye was crowned as a symbolic Night’s King after the fire moon dragon and rider were killed and the solar dragon and rider were wounded and hidden.

To finish up with the fight above the gods eye, let’s consider what happens to the combatants and their dragons. Daemon vanishes altogether, while Caraxes crawls from the lake before expiring beneath Harrenhal, which makes sense because Caraxes and Harrenhal are both fire moon meteor symbols. One of my favorite tinfoil theories is that Daemon made it to the Isle of Faces, since that’s a fire moon symbol too, but he probably just sank under the weight of his armor and lies buried in mud at the bottom of the lake.

Vhagar and Aemond One-Eye definitely remain at the bottom of the lake, which makes me think about how the Others voice’s are like the cracking of ice on a winter lake, and about how the Other melt when stabbed with dragonglass (their ice armor also reflects like the surface of a pond). For those of you who know about the symbolism of being under the sea – something we will get to in due time – it’s also significant to find the ice moon under the sea, so to speak. I think being inside the ice moon is essentially like being submerged in a cold lake, and this is hinted at with Varamyr’s death, where the line is “True death came suddenly; he felt a shock of cold, as if he had been plunged into the icy waters of a frozen lake.” That line comes right before Varamyr’s spirit finds itself inside a one-eyed wolf, naturally.

Finally, there is a nice memorial line to Vhagar in The Princess and the Queen that we really should read to do the great she-dragon justice:

Vhagar, the greatest of the Targaryen dragons since the passing of Balerion the Black Dread, had counted one hundred eighty-one years upon the earth. Thus passed the last living creature from the days of Aegon’s Conquest, as dusk and darkness swallowed Black Harren’s accursed seat. 

It’s a poetic line, and I also wanted to include the bit about darkness swallowing Harrenhal at the end of all this.

So, having shown you how two dragons killing each other and falling into a lake symbolizes Jon’s conception – yes, that’s what we just did – let’s get to the main course and talk RLJ.

Dornish Moon Tragedy

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Rhaegar and Lyanna. RLJ. The dragon and the wolf. The song of ice and fire. But don’t forget about Elia – Rhaegar married her first and they had two children together. We still don’t entirely understand the rationale and motivation for Rhaegar and Lyanna’s actions, but we can understand the symbolic reason for this strange love triangle. It’s the same reason we get the the Aegon – Rhaenys – Visenya triangle: to show us one sun with two moons. Moons of ice and fire.

Dorne is associated with snakes and the fiery sun-spears, so the symbolic children of Rhaegar and Elia would be fiery dragon snakes, a good match for our idea of the fiery moon meteors coming from the coupling of the sun and fire moon. The sigil of House Martell tells the story: it’s a sun pierced by a spear. In other words, it alludes to a dying sun such as the sun of the Long Night, and to things coming from that sun like spears and hammers of the waters’es. Also, those of you who have listened to the Weirwood Compendium series might recognize the Odin / Jesus symbolism of a pierced solar king.

Everything about the Dornish symbolism describes the events of the fire moon exploding in front of the sun and the things which fell from the sky, whic helps identify Elia as the fire moon maiden. There are several ways the Dornish symbolism places an emphasis on the dying sun which throws things are the planet as opposed to simply the sun. We covered a lot of this in Bloodstone Compendium 4: The Mountain vs The Viper and The Hammer of the Waters, so I will just briefly sum up. The word ‘sunspear’ implies a spear coming from the sun, and in the trial-by-combat between Ser Gregor and Oberyn Martell, we saw The Red Viper’s spear point coated in poison that looked like black oil – a perfect symbol of a black moon meteor coming from the sun, since I tend to associate the black meteors and the oily black stone with one another.

In Arianne’s “The Queenmaker” chapter of AFFC, there’s a line about the two weapons of the Dornish:

“The arms of House Martell display the sun and spear, the Dornishman’s two favored weapons,” the Young Dragon had once written in his boastful Conquest of Dorne, “but of the two, the sun is the more deadly.”

The sun is deadly because of the sun rays coming from it, which are like weapons. Later in that chapter this theme is hit on again as it says “The sun was beating down like a fiery hammer, but it did not matter with their journey at its end.” Again, the emphasis is on things coming from the sun like weapons – sun-spears and fiery hammers. This line about the fiery sun hammer is followed almost immediately by Myrcella the fire moon maiden being slashed across the face by Darkstar’s sword, mimicking the “crack across the face of the moon” language of the Azor Ahai legend. The sequence clues us in to the idea that the hammer of the waters was a fiery moon meteor, one which drank the fire of the sun and can therefore be considered a sun-spear or a fiery hammer.

In fact (and this is kind of the overarching point in regards to the symbolism of RLJ as a sun and two moons thing), the collection of Dornish symbolism in its entirety is all about the Hammer of the Waters being a moon meteor impact. This makes a ton of sense, since the Hammer fell on the arm of Dorne. Besides the fiery hammer line and Myrcella the wounded moon maiden, there are the place names by the broken Arm of Dorne, Bloodstone and Sunspear. It’s the story of the dark solar king and his black meteor weapons, just like I’ve been talking about: the Bloodstone Emperor was the dark solar king, and his sun-spears were the black moon meteors.  Again, this compares well to Oberyn the Red Viper as the dark solar king wielding a spear with a blade coated in black oil. Of course we just mentioned Daemon Targaryen the dark solar king who took Bloodstone as his seat, and Daemon symbolically became a sun-spear himself when he leapt from the back of one dragon to the other while attacking from the direction of the setting sun.

The other named island in the Stepstones is Grey Gallows, which seems like a reference to Yggdrasil, Odin’s gallows tree, as we discussed in Weirwood Compendium 3: Garth of the Gallows. The end result that this is yet another reference to Azor Ahai reaching for the fire of the gods, and complements the Odin-esque symbolism of the pierced sun.

As I like to mention whenever I talk about the Hammer of the Waters, one of the ships that brought moon maiden Myrcella to Dorne was King Robert’s Hammer, yet another reference to the Hammer of the Waters, but this time wrapped in Robert’s Storm King / Thor lightning hammer symbolism. Another galley in that convoy was “Lionstar,” which again gives us the sun-star idea… or in this case, a moon meteor which “drank the fire of the sun.”

There’s a clue about the Dawn meteor falling at the same time as the black meteors that caused the Long Night to be found in the fact that, sailing to Dorne alongside the ships King Robert’s Hammer and Lionstar, we also get one named “Lady Lyanna.” As we are about to see, Lyanna is a signature ice moon maiden, like Night’s Queen, so this may be a clue about the ice moon meteor falling along with the fiery ones. Starfall isn’t far, after all, and talk of Dawn and Arthur Dayne abounds in the Queenmaker chapter, due to Gerold Darkstar Dayne’s presence.

Ok, so I think that’s about as briefly as I can sum up the sun-spear/fiery moon meteor/hammer of the waters ball of symbolism, and I encourage you to check out the Mountain vs The Viper and the Hammer of the Waters episode if you want the rest, which includes significant characters getting struck on the arm (like the Arm of Dorne) at significant times. Point being, all of that and much more points to Dorne as a great symbol for the fire moon and the fiery sun-spears it became.

There’s also the Dorne = fire moon evidence we explored in the Visenya Draconis episode regarding the death of Rhaenys and Meraxes in Dorne at the Hellholt, a place once occupied by Ser Lucifer Dryland and which sits by the Brimstone River. That’s pleasing to me personally, because my fake name is Lucifer and my real world guitar pedal company is called Brimstone Audio (true story, and a complete coincidence, I swear I am not in Satanism or anything). But more importantly, the death of Rhaenys and Meraxes at the Hellholt is an important symbol of the fire moon destruction. Namely, Rhaenys is Aegon’s fire moon bride, and the spearing of Meraxes through the eye calls out the Gods Eye eclipse symbol which represents the death of the fire moon and the darkening of the sun.

Alright. Having set the Dornish stage for Elia of Dorne, let’s consider what we know about the Princess herself. Most of what we know concerns her tragic death, and her children and false children (cough, cough, fAegon). That’s pretty much a mirror for the fire moon, which is defined by its death and meteor childbirthing. We’re going to start with Elia’s death, which is fairly horrible of course, so fair warning.

As we know, Elia was horrifically raped and killed by Ser Gregor Clegane during the sack of King’s Landing. Gregor is called the Mountain that Rides, and his helm bears a stone fist on its crest.  A comet or meteor can surely be thought of as a flying or riding mountain, and the stone fist gives the same idea, especially since we’ve seen fists and hands as depictions of moon meteors and moon-smashing comets. In the fight with Oberyn, he seems to play the moon and moon meteor role, but other times he plays the role of the comet, such as when he puts out Beric Dondarrion’s eye. In this case, since he’s killing someone who seems to symbolize the fire moon (Elia), his mountain-that-rides symbolism would seem to playing the role of comet-that-rides. He’s acting at Lord Tywin’s command, just as the Azor Ahai myth has the comet as the sword held by the sun king. Tywin is wielding Gregor against Elia, in other words, like the sun wielding the comet against the fire moon.

In fact, when Dany discusses her vision of Rhaegar and Elia in the House of the Undying with Jorah, Jorah refers to the murders of Elia and her children as having been done simply “by the Lannisters:”

She nodded. “There was a woman in a bed with a babe at her breast. My brother said the babe was the prince that was promised and told her to name him Aegon.”

“Prince Aegon was Rhaegar’s heir by Elia of Dorne,” Ser Jorah said. “But if he was this prince that was promised, the promise was broken along with his skull when the Lannisters dashed his head against a wall.”

“I remember,” Dany said sadly. “They murdered Rhaegar’s daughter as well, the little princess. Rhaenys, she was named, like Aegon’s sister. There was no Visenya, but he said the dragon has three heads. What is the song of ice and fire?”

An apt question there at the end; it’s the question we are answering today, at least from one angle. The title of the series has many layers of meaning of course, but Jon is the closest thing to a human personification of the song of ice and fire. Setting that aside, you can see that that since Amory Lorch and Gregor were acting at the behest of Tywin, “the Lannisters” did indeed murder Elia, and in terms of symbolism, that equates to the sun killing the fire moon.

Another detailed correlation with Elia’s death and the death of the second moon is the fact that Elia died in the Red Keep.  The Red Keep is a symbol of the sun, so Elia dying in the Red Keep is entirely consistent with the second moon wandering too close to the sun at its time of death. Even better, the reason Elia was in the Red Keep is because Aerys was essentially holding her hostage; Jaime says in ASOS that “The king reminded Lewyn Martell gracelessly that he held Elia and sent him to take command of the ten thousand Dornishmen coming up the kingsroad.” Elia the fire moon is literally a prisoner of one sun king when she is murder by another (Tywin as a symbolic solar king figure of course).

Elia’s children are dead, supposedly, which would be a match for the idea of the black meteors representing dead things, as we saw with dead lizard baby Rhaego or even Ashara Dayne’s stillbirth.  The symbolism continues onto Young Griff, a.k.a. fAegon Blackfyre, who claims to be Elia’s son but seems more likely to be of Blackfyre descent.  We’ve spoken previously about the Blackfyre sigil is and the sword Blackfyre are great symbols of the black moon meteors, and in general terms the black dragon itself is the prime symbol of Azor Ahai reborn.  Many also think that the stone beast breathing “shadow fire” in Dany’s House of the Undying vision may represent fAegon “Blackfyre”, with the thinking being that ‘black fire’ might might be the same thing as shadow fire. You can see how a stone beast breathing shadow fire is a great description of the black meteor dragons which brought the darkness.

The resurrection aspect of Azor Ahai reborn is present in fAegon’s symbolism too, because the idea of fAegon being the real Aegon VI Targaryen, Rhaegar’s son, would be akin to him returning from the dead. Tyrion expresses this thought when he sort of mockingly paraphrases what fAegon might say to Daenerys when he meets her:

‘Good morrow to you, Auntie. I am your nephew, Aegon, returned from the dead. I’ve been hiding on a poleboat all my life, but now I’ve washed the blue dye from my hair and I’d like a dragon, please … and oh, did I mention, my claim to the Iron Throne is stronger than your own?’ “

There’s even a hint about fAegon Blackfyre the black fire moon dragon being lodged in the ice. Buying into the tale that he is really Elia’s son Aegon for a moment, he would have been cast away from the Red Keep at the time of his fire moon mother’s death, and when we first see him, he has disguised himself by dying his hair blue and wearing blue, and that’s kind of like being frozen.

So that’s Elia of Dorne, may she rest in piece. She fits the fire moon pretty well. The one exception, which I do want to acknowledge, is that she doesn’t seem to have the fiery personality as Queen Rhaenys did, and Elia and Rhaegar’s relationship was not the passionate one, as opposed to Rhaenys and Aegon, who did have the passionate relationship. The rest of the symbolism is strong enough to make things clear I think, so it’s okay if this one thing was flip-flopped in my opinion. It’s easy to see that Rheagar and Lyanna’s relationship is likely to turn out to be the passionate one for reasons of plot, and the plot and character-driven narrative always come first of course. I would and do make the case that George has given us enough strong symbolism around Elia and Lyanna to easily identify them.

And just before we move on, let me just slip in an aside regarding the Targaryen family tree. I am primarily looking at this from the RLJ perspective, with Rhaegar as the solar king with lunar wives of ice and fire who conceives Jon with his ice moon queen, Lyanna. But if we want to include Daenerys, we can actually do so by considering Aerys and Rhaella the original solar king and fire moon queen. Dany and Rhaegar, as their children, would then be equivalent to black fire moon meteors, hurtling outward from the fire moon explosion (and you’ll recall that Dany was born during one of the worst storm in Westerosi history, while Rhaegar was born on the day Summerhall burned, both of which match the idea of a fiery moon explosion for a cradle). Rhaegar, however, unlike Dany, is the black meteor that goes on to impregnate the ice moon – Lyanna. In this schema, Dany is the fiery version of Azor Ahai reborn, child of the fire moon queen Rhaella, and Jon is the frozen version of Azor Ahai reborn, child of ice moon queen Lyanna.

Both ways of looking at the family tree work, and of course these patterns tend to repeat endlessly, with Jon going on to play the solar king role and have two symbolic lunar wives of his own, as we saw last time. But I just wanted to point out this other way of thinking about, since it includes Dany and nicely pegs Jon and Dany as ice and fire moon meteor children, with Dany paralleling dragons and Jon paralleling the Others. Hot and cold versions of Azor Ahai reborn – it seems like an intuitive way to think about them anyway, even without all this specific analysis, and that’s how I have long viewed them.

But I am getting ahead of myself – we still need to talk about Lyanna.

A Storm of Rose Petals Blue

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Turning our attention to Lyanna Stark, she of the blue winter rose,  we can observe that she has two important scenes: the Tourney at Harrnehall in the Year of the False Spring, and her death scene at the Tower of Joy. The Harrenhall Tourney is kind of a two-part thing, consisting of the events of the tourney centering around Rhaegar and Lyanna as well as the Knight of the Laughing Tree story, since Lyanna was almost certainly the weirwood-sigil mystery knight in that story. We’ll deal with the Knight of the Laughing Tree another time when we are talking about the weirwood side of ice magic, so right now let’s beginning our Mythical Astronomy ode to Lyanna Stark by quoting the summary of the Harrenhall tourney from the World of Ice and Fire.

And when the triumphant Prince of Dragonstone named Lyanna Stark, daughter of the Lord of Winterfell, the queen of love and beauty, placing a garland of blue roses in her lap with the tip of his lance, the lickspittle lords gathered around the king declared that further proof of his perfidy. Why would the prince have thus given insult to his own wife, the Princess Elia Martell of Dorne (who was present), unless it was to help him gain the Iron Throne? The crowning of the Stark girl, who was by all reports a wild and boyish young thing with none of the Princess Elia’s delicate beauty, could only have been meant to win the allegiance of Winterfell to Prince Rhaegar’s cause, Symond Staunton suggested to the king.

Rhaegar is the dark solar king here, and his black lance penetrating the blue rose garland is symbolic of… well you know. It’s not just a dick joke – the black lance here represents the seed of the sun king, and in the sky, it’s the black meteor hurling towards the ice moon. Lyanna’s garland is called a crown of blue roses, and this event called the crowning of Lyanna, so I think her blue rose crown must equate to the lunar halo, the nimbus of light which seems to surround the moon – just as the points of the golden king’s crown represent the sun’s rays. The circle of the garland is penetrated by the tip of his black lance – again it’s not just a sex symbol, it’s the impregnation of the ice moon by a black meteor. He then lays it in her “lap,” implying more penetration. Recall again the sigil of House Florent: a red fox enclosed within a circle of twelve blue flowers. The red fox is equivalent to Rhaegar’s black lance, becoming “locked” in the ice moon symbol of the ring of blue flowers.

One of our patreon high priests of starry wisdom, Archmaester Aemma, founder of the Maiden Maesters & keeper of the two-headed sphinx, had a good find here. Ned recalls the Tourney of Harrenhal as the moment when all the smiled died when he thinks of it in AGOT:

Ned remembered the moment when all the smiles died, when Prince Rhaegar Targaryen urged his horse past his own wife, the Dornish princess Elia Martell, to lay the queen of beauty’s laurel in Lyanna’s lap. He could see it still: a crown of winter roses, blue as frost.

Now recall the dancing scene at Castle Black when the horn blew to signal Val’s return. The line was “Others had heard it too. The music and the laughter died at once. Dancers froze in place, listening.” I pointed this line out as a clue about the Others being created (frozen in place) in conjunction with a Night’s Queen figure and a horn, and Aerchmaester Aemma pointed out that the language about the laughter dying vs. the moment when the smiles died is very similar, and of course both events are tied to Night’s Queen figures, Val and Lyanna (gotta love the ‘blue as frost’ description of her crown). Dying laughter and dying smiles also remind us of Euron’s blue “smiling eye,” which we eventually see revealed as gleaming with malice, and more generally of the idea of smiling moon crescents dying.

Returning to the summary of the Rhaegar and Lyanna from TWOIAF , the narrative continues with strong parallels to the Long Night, and let me just point out ahead of time that when they talk about the False Spring lasting less than “two turns,” they mean two turns, or cycles, of the moon. Two moons. Here’s the quote:

..with that simple garland of pale blue roses, Rhaegar Targaryen had begun the dance that would rip the Seven Kingdoms apart, bring about his death and a thousand more, and put a welcome new king on the iron throne.

The False Spring of 281 AC lasted less than two turns.

As the year drew to a close, winter returned with a vengeance. On the last day of the year, snow began to fall upon King’s Landing, and a crust of ice formed atop the Blackwater Rush. The snowfall continued off and on for the best part of a fortnight, but which time the Blackwater was hard frozen, and icicles draped the roofs and gutters of every tower it he city.

As cold winds hammered the city, King Aerys II turned to his pyromancers, charging them to drive winter off with their magics.  Huge green fires burned along the walls of the Red Keep for a moon’s turn.  Prince Rhaegar was not in the city to observe them however.  Nor could he be found in Dragonstone with Princess Elia and their young son Aegon.  (. . .) Not ten leagues from Harrenhall, Rhaegar fell upon Lyanna Stark of Winterfell, and carried her off, lighting a fire that would consume his house and his kin and all those he loved – and half the realm besides.

So, there’s a vicious, vengeful winter that sets in and covers everything in snow, complete with the infamous cold winds hammering the city, right after Rhaegar gives Lyanna her frosty blue crown – sounds like Long Night symbolism. It even says Rhaegar “fell upon Lyanna,” like a black meteor landing on the ice moon. Naturally, it is during this Long Night-like time that R + L sneak off to the Tower of Joy to = J.

The all-important black ice motif makes an appearance as the Blackwater Rush freezes solid, something which is mentioned twice. I’ve pointed out before that the Blackwater Rush flowing from the Gods Eye is a wonderful depiction of the waves of night (black water) that flow from the sun / fire moon conjunction (the Gods Eye). But now the Blackwater is frozen solid, so it’s black ice coming from the Gods Eye. As you may know, I think the symbol of “black ice” refers to both Valyrian steel (like Ned’s sword black Ice) and dragonglass (frozen fire which looks like black ice), and both of those are also black meteor symbols. Thus, black ice coming from the Gods Eye during a cold winter is simply talking about black, sword-like moon meteors coming from the sun/fire moon conjunction during the Long Night, which happens to be our favorite topic.

During this cold time, we also have raging fires designed to fight the winter for a “moon’s turn.” The idea of using fire magic to fight the horrible winter definitely seems like an allusion to the Long Night, and reminds us of Melisandre lighting nightfires at the base of the Wall.

Taken as a whole, this tale creates a tremendous parallel. The story of Rhaegar making an ice dragon baby with his icy moon maiden Lyanna during this cold, Long Night-like time mimics the story of Aegon and Visenya creating the white shadow Kingsguard in the wake of the Rhaenys death, during the”Years of the Dragon’s Wroth” which was another ‘dark time’ period (it literally says “it was a black time”) which seems to be a metaphor for the Long Night. One of the most heretical ideas I’ve proposed in this series is that Night’s Queen and King lived during the Long Night and not after, so every time we see a symbolic Night’s Queen & King hookup that occurs during a Long Night metaphor, I am going to make a big deal out of it and make sure you notice. I don’t toss out the accepted canon at the drop of a hat; every time I do so, I try to show that there is a mountain of evidence steering us in that direction. This paragraph takes special care to say that “As cold winds hammered the city…” Rhaegar was absconding with his ice moon bride and conceiving Jon the ice dragon baby.

Now at this point, if you listen to all of my podcasts and have a sharp memory you might be saying to yourself, “wait a minute LmL, in one of the Bloodstone Compendium episodes I think you told us that Lyanna’s death in the tower represents Nissa Nissa’s death and the forging of Lightbringer, but now you’re telling us she’s the ice moon?” Yes, I am. The picture I am seeing is this: both moons share certain common elements, because they are essentially like sisters, but with subtle variations which always reflect the difference between ice and fire.

Think of the solar king forging a Lightbringer with each moon queen – I think that’s what we are being shown. The Nissa Nissa moon-impregnation process is repeated with each moon, and each moon maiden. For example, when and if the ice moon gets impregnated with a comet in The Winds of Winter, I’d expect it to mimic the gods eye eclipse alignment of the past as it gives birth to a fresh batch of meteor dragons.

The moons and moon maidens have a lot of parallel symbolism, in other words, just as ice and fire do. For example, since we are talking about blue roses, let’s consider the flower symbolism of the two moons. In one of those old Bloodstone Compendium episodes, we examined the idea of flowers being associated with the moon – the fire moon, I guess we can call it now. We talked about the heliotropium flower connection, which was pretty cool if you remember: one type of heliotropium plant is called the valerian, and it’s known for its purple flowers. You may have caught your phone auto-correcting to the valerian with an ‘e’ when you werereally trying to talk about dragonlords, if you are the type of person who types into their phones about dragonlords, as I am.

Essentially, this is a clue about the origins of the Valyrians being rooted in the Bloodstone Emperor and the Amethyst Empress: the Amethyst Empress looks like a Valyrian according to Dany’s dream vision, with amethyst eyes and silver hair, while the gem bloodstone is also called heliotrope, a name shared by a purple-flowering heliotropium plant which is also called valerian. At this point, we know that George never chooses any of his names without intention, I think it’s safe to say.  We’ve also seen that he does indeed use the flower theme as a metaphor to tie together a couple of moon and maiden related concepts. Namely, “flowering” as a euphemism for a woman getting her first moon blood, and fire moon’s explosion can be symbolized as a tide of fiery moonblood, a bloody ‘flowering’ of the moon.

But the ice moon has flower symbolism too – those blue-as-frost winter roses. They make a great full moon symbol when in the form of a crown, but they’re used in a slightly different way in the famous Ned dream recall of the Tower of Joy scene, which, not coincidentally, is Lyanna’s biggest scene and the next thing we need to talk about anyway. This iconic passage is from AGOT:

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.” As they came together in a rush of steel and shadow, he could hear Lyanna screaming. “Eddard!” she called. A storm of rose petals blew across a blood-streaked sky, as blue as the eyes of death.

The blue eyes of death are obviously the eyes of the Others, who are the meteor children of the ice moon according to our hypothesis. The blue eyes of the Others in particular are called blue stars – so these blue rose petals that blew across the blood-streaked sky looking like the eyes of the Others would therefore seem to be a representation of ice moon meteors in the sky during the Long Night, a time when the sky was full of moon blood. The blue star eyes of death, streaking through the sky as the ice moon maiden gives birth – it’s poetic mythical astronomy.

This is a really strong symbol, and look – I know that people listen to and read Mythical Astronomy with varying degrees of skepticism. Some people think I’m more or less barking up the right tree on most things, while others buy the main moon meteor theory but might not be too sure about much else, and there are even a few people who even disbelieve most of what I posit but listen anyway because they enjoy the presentation or because the love to hate it or just like my reading voice, who knows. And certainly, I often point out little symbolic patterns which may or may not be intentional, realizing full well some of them are bound to be just coincidence.

But sometimes we get these doses of really, really clear symbolism, and I like to imagine people on the fence about the given hypothesis going “ok, I see it now, LmL is right, she is a damn moon maiden and those blue roses in the sky are some damn moon meteors.” You don’t have to cuss but I hope you are enjoying this entirely new look at the Tower of Joy, one of the most famous scenes in the backstory of ASOIAF, and I hope you are getting the full punch of these sort of banner scenes for mythical astronomy.

Frequently, we can find this kind of A+ astronomy metaphor attached to these sort of odd, yet poetic lines that really stand out of the narrative. It’s easy to understand why Martin would place blue rose petals in the sky in Ned’s dream recall version of the Tower of Joy, but why does he describe them as “blue as the eyes of death,” a phrase which unambiguously calls out to the blue star eyes of the Others?

In this case, it would appear that the answer can only be understood fully by understanding the mythical astronomy. Lyanna is an icy moon maiden, and by placing her blue rose petals in the sky outside her tower and comparing them to the blue star eyes of the Others, the author has effectively labelled the roses as blue stars – falling blue stars, coming from the pregnant moon maiden at the top of the tower. Spectacularly, this same image is also telling us that the Others originate from icy moon maidens – a hint about the primary origin of the Others being rooted in the Night’s Queen story.

Speaking of the Others, they aren’t just staring at us through Lyanna’s flying rose petals, they’re also standing guard outside the Tower of Joy. As we have seen, those kingsguard, with their snow-white, moon pale ghostly armor, can be used to represent white walkers –  I hope I have established that by now. We can imagine these three kingsguard coming out of the Tower to meet Ned and his crew like ice moon meteors coming from the ice moon when it is impregnated with seed of the black dragon, just as the blue roses like the eyes of the Others do.

Dawn is an ice moon meteor symbol too, and of course Ned takes Dawn from the Tower of Joy and returns it to Starfall like an ice moon souvenir. Ned is actually confirming the origins of the Dawn meteor for us, I think – it came from the ice moon. We could interpret Ned carrying Dawn to Starfall as the Dawn meteor falling from the ice moon and landing at Starfall, just as the story suggests, or it could be that the Tower of Joy also serves as the landing site. The Heart of Winter is the other place I think the Dawn meteor could have landed, and it’s an ice moon symbol just like the Tower of Joy. Ned taking the sword from a dead Arthur might be symbolic of making a sword from the pale stone meteorite, after which it might have taken to Starfall.

Lyanna’s bones are also ice moon meteor symbols – the white bones of an ice moon maiden would symbolize pieces of the ice moon, certainly, and they too are taken from the scene by Ned.

The three sigils of the former houses of those Kingsguard actually seem to tell the story. Now, this is one of those patterns which could easily be coincidence, but I am pointing it out to you because it would fit with everything else going on in this scene, and Martin really does love to use people’s sigils to enhance the symbolism of a given scene. So here it goes.

The sigil of House Whent is a black bat on yellow, and they are from Harrenhall, a prime fire moon symbol; but here the black bat plays the fire moon meteor dragon locked in the ice, as it says “Across his white-enameled helm, the black bat of his House spread its wings.” The black bat is locked in ice, in other words. Then we have the “white tower crowned with flame on a smoke grey field” sigil of House Hightower, the former house of the White Bull Gerold Hightower. The burning white tower can be a burning white sword or a burning white tree or a burning white moon, and since Gerold is the White Bull and white bulls are lunar symbols, I’m inclined to say this is showing us one of the moons on fire. Then we have the white falling star and white sword of the Dayne sigil, showing us the ice moon meteor falling to earth.

So, black bat on white shows us the black meteor impregnating the ice moon, the Hightower sigil shows us a moon on fire, then we get the white meteor coming out with the Dayne sigil. I mean, perhaps, you know? I can’t help but make a sequence out of them, as these are all the right ingredients to tell the symbolic story of exactly what is happening here with Jon’s birth. Even if it isn’t a specific sequence, again, these are the right symbols to the meaning of the metaphor of R + L = J: white swords and white shooting stars, burning white towers on a smoke field, and a great dragon locked in ice symbol with the black bat on white.

To sum up, here at this most famous of locations we have three Kingsguard whose symbolism tells the story of the impregnation of the ice moon. We have four excellent symbols of ice moon meteors – the blue death’s eyes roses in the sky, the Kingsguard, Dawn, and the bones of Lyanna – all gathered at the Tower of Joy and then dispersed.

And this entire event was set off by Jon’s conception.

A Dragon Locked in Ice

This section is brought to you by thee members of the Sacred Order of the Black Hand, Mattias Mormont, the Sea-Goat of the Bottomless Depths; Count Magpie the Rude of the shivering hot scream, Hornblower of the Oslofjord, and the one and only Viseryia Sunbreaker

The symbol of the “seed” is key here, because seeds are the catalysts of our various chain reactions, be they in the sky with heavenly bodies, or on the ground, with flesh-and-blood people. Meteors and comets can be thought of as star seeds, and when the original comet hits the fire moon, that is the sun’s seed impregnating the moon. This is the first alchemical wedding, and it results in the moon ‘giving birth’ to baby dragon meteors. Those are in turn new star seeds or dragon seeds however, and while some of them impregnated the earth, one seems to have impregnated the ice moon. Because these black meteors are hurling outward from the sun-darkening explosion of the fire moon, we can regard them as the star seeds of the dark solar king, and that is our ice dragon formula: the dark solar king gives his seed to the ice moon queen to make ice dragon children. This is the second alchemical wedding, the marriage of ice and fire.

When Rhaegar puts on his black armor and gives Lyanna the blue rose crown at the Harrenhall tourney, this is the dark solar king signaling his intent to place his dragon seed in the womb of this icy moon queen. When Rhaegar literally impregnates her, when Jon is conceived, this represents the black dragon seed being locked in ice. That’s why pregnant Lyanna in the Tower of Joy is surrounded by Kingsguard, who are standing in for Others: it illustrates Jon the dragon seed being surrounded by ice.

But as I have painstakingly demonstrated over the course of the last few episodes, Night’s King and Night’s Queen creating Others is a parallel act to Rhaegar and Lyanna conceiving Jon. If Jon is the seed of the dark sun planted in the ice moon, then the Others are bits of ice moon that would have been chipped off – that’s how we originally identified the Others after all, as icy meteor children of an ice moon figure. Jon is like the seed still in the cold womb – that’s why he’s spent five books freezing his ass off at the Wall, preparing himself and training – while the Others have come out of the icy lunar womb and have become cold falling stars.

For what it’s worth, when Jon is resurrected and reborn, I expect him to be a lot paler – his hair, most likely – just as Jon emerged from one of the Winterfell tombs covered in flour as a “pale spirit moaning for blood” to prank the younger siblings. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves – let’s stick with Jon as the seed in the icy womb for now as that is his dominant symbolism up to this point in the story.

I’m about to show you all the ways in which Jon is depicted as the dragon locked in ice – or you can say crow in the snow, if you prefer – but first, consider this: the dragon seed meteor becoming lodged in the ice moon is what creates the ice moon meteors which are analogous to the Others. Similarly, it’s the impregnation of the icy moon woman we like to call Night’s Queen that brings forth the Others – and again, this is why we find Kingsguard directed to guard the Tower of Joy while Lyanna is pregnant with Jon, and why the blue roses in the sky look like the eyes of the Others. But haven’t we all been wondering why the Others have begin to stir after all these centuries of seeming inactivity? I think the answer is right here at the Tower of Joy: it was Jon’s conception.

‘What awakened the Others in the recent past?’ is one of those great riddles in the ASOIAF fandom, one which I’ve never had a strong guess about. But if Jon’s conception is symbolically analogous to the conception of the Others, then perhaps it was the actual birth of Jon Snow the magical ice dragon baby which was the omen that told the Others the end was nigh.

This idea fits well with fan theories about the Others having an equivalent to the Prince That Was Promised prophecy, but of course from their perspective it would be more like a prophecy of doom about this monstrous last hero fellow who is bent on their extinction. But I think you grasp the idea – if Jon is destined to confront the Others, perhaps the Others sense that and have stirred to life to meet their foe. It really would be the best possible match to the mythical astronomy events, which have the black meteor’s impact with the ice moon as the thing which triggered the birth of ice moon meteors.

I mean heck, you could possibly look at this whole thing a lot more simply, and just take the appearance of the blue roses that look like the eyes of the Others at Jon’s birth as a sign that his birth has awakened the Others, couldn’t you?

The big mystery here is why does the same symbolic “formula” create both Others and Jon Snow? What does it mean for the main story? This is kind of an uncomfortable parallel, as I mentioned at the beginning today. Both are children of an icy moon queen, and I’ve called both ice dragons… but unlike the white shadow Others, Jon is heavily associated with the color black. He famously tells Robb that “black was always my color” when he’s leaving for the Wall, and obviously he joins the Night’s Watch and dresses in black from head to heel in almost every scene we see him in. Yet, like the Others, he’s definitely associated with cold things: his name is Snow, his nickname is Lord Snow, he plays the King of Winter role symbolically and will probably be named to that title in actuality, and he dreams of being armored in black ice while defending the Wall.

Consider that last point a moment – armored in ice sounds like the Others, who essentially have ice-everything, including their armor and swords. In fact, in ASOS Daenerys dreams of torching her foes from dragonback, and her foes are strangely wearing ice armor as well – and I think everyone has taken this as a foreshadowing of Dany fighting the  Others with her dragons, presumably near the end of the story. Check it out:

That night she dreamt that she was Rhaegar, riding to the Trident. But she was mounted on a dragon, not a horse. When she saw the Usurper’s rebel host across the river they were armored all in ice, but she bathed them in dragonfire and they melted away like dew and turned the Trident into a torrent. 

It seems simple enough to interpret the possibility this dream is revealing in regards to the primary narrative: Dany’s Battle of the Trident will be her fighting the Others with her dragons. What’s interesting to note is that the Other-like ice warriors melt and turn a river to a torrent – this calls to mind the River Torrentine which flows out to sea at Starfall. The real Others melt when stabbed with dragonglass, including their milkglass bones, so if these icy warriors in Dany’s dream are supposed to be Others, we have melting milkglass bones creating a Torrentine River, the kind of river that flows by the castle that is home to a milkglass sword.

Setting that aside, the main point here is the identical “armored in ice” language which is applied to both Jon and Dany’s foes which clearly seem meant to represent the Others. As you can see, Jon and the Others are both ice-armored children of ice moon queens, but opposite in color – and of course Jon is rather famously dedicated to fighting the Others. Jon is like the good Other, or the black Other, basically!

So now we are going to do that thing where, having proposed a somewhat abstract concept based on flying space rocks which I claim relates to the characters in the story, I will now provide examples of beautifully written metaphorical passages from ASOIAF which demonstrate the hypothesis in action. I’ve said a few times that every single ice moon symbol, be it person, place, or thing, has some sort of symbolic depiction of the dragon locked in ice, but since this is the RLJ essay and Jon is what this pattern is all about, we’re just going to stick with Jon -related examples for now. From here on out in the Moons of Ice and Fire series, we’ll be tracking this symbolism as we visit all of the other ice moon places.

As I began to mention last time, the pattern of Jon being locked in ice begins as soon as the story begins, with Robert making the cryptic remark (see what I did there) about kings under the snow which everyone interprets as a clue about Jon Snow being a King under the Snow, but of course Jon would be a dragon king under the snow – a dragon locked in ice. AGOT doesn’t go more than a few chapters before Jon’s fate of being sent to the Wall is sealed, and Bran sees this represented by the line about Jon “sleeping alone in a cold bed, his skin growing pale and hard as the memory of all warmth fled from him.”

As a matter of fact, almost all of Jon’s examples of locked in ice symbolism revolve around the Wall, which is, conveniently, one of the most important symbols of the ice moon. That means that when Bran sees Jon sleeping at the Wall and losing the memory of warmth, that’s Jon sleeping in the ice moon. So too for all the foreshadowing of Jon’s body being stored in the ice cells of the Wall, which we mentioned last time – it’s Jon sleeping inside an ice moon symbol, awaiting resurrection and rebirth. That’s exactly how we should think about that black fire moon meteor – it’s still trapped up there in the ice moon, waiting for a stray comet to come along and spring it loose. I would love to see the comet return when Jon is resurrected, but that’s a tale for another day.

Castle Black itself the same symbol – a black castle sort of halfway embedded in the ice of the Wall. In fact, check out this quote from Dywen about Bowen Marsh’s plan to seal up the passages through the Wall at CastleBlack and elsewhere:

“And wildlings, and darker things,” said Marsh. “I would not send out hunters, my lord. I would not.”

No. You would close our gates forever and seal them up with stone and ice. Half of Castle Black agreed with the Lord Steward’s views, he knew. The other half heaped scorn on them. “Seal our gates and plant your fat black arses on the Wall, aye, and the free folk’ll come swarming o’er the Bridge o’ Skulls or through some gate you thought you’d sealed five hundred years ago,” the old forester Dywen had declared loudly over supper, two nights past. “We don’t have the men to watch a hundred leagues o’ Wall. Tormund Giantsbutt and the bloody Weeper knows it too. Ever see a duck frozen in a pond, with his feet in the ice? It works the same for crows.” 

That’s pretty tasty, as it gives us that frozen pond motif again which seems tied to the Others, and I’ve been saying the dragon locked in ice can also be thought of as a crow in the snow, since Jon is also a black crow – and here we have that spelled out exactly, a crow locked in the ice of a frozen pond. To be honest I only found this quote at the last minute, long after I had started saying “crow in the snow.”

The tunnels bored through the rock beneath the Wall are called the wormways, which suggests the idea of firewyrms, who are cousins to dragons, tunneling beneath the Wall, and that’s terrific. One of my favorite tinfoil theories is that there is either a greasy black stone foundation or a fused black stone foundation beneath to the Wall, beneath all that ice, which would fit the pattern if true.

Now, to the really important stuff: the scenes with Jon at the Wall which serve as detailed metaphors of Jon’s conception. I’ve visited these scenes before, for different reasons, so forgive me for sounding like I am repeating myself, but I think you know I wouldn’t be going back unless we had new conclusions to draw, and that is indeed the case.  Every single ‘dragon locked in ice’ metaphor represents Jon’s conception, but the ones with Jon at the Wall are the best. The important thing to keep in mind is that the Wall represents the ice moon, as Lyanna does, and so the Wall also stands in for Lyanna herself. We are going to see things embedded in the Wall which represent both little baby sperm Jon in Lyanna’s womb and also the black meteor getting lodged in the ice moon.

Famously, during her House of the Undying vision, Daenerys sees a vision which is generally taken to represent Jon: “A blue flower grew from a chink in a wall of ice, and filled the air with sweetness. . .”  That blue rose would seem to represent Jon as a piece of Lyanna’s legacy blooming at the Wall, since the blue winter rose is primarily Lyanna’s symbol. The thing to notice is its placement in the chink, meaning crack, in the Wall, because in ADWD we see another of Jon’s symbols in the cracks of the Wall. This time it’s a detailed depiction of the sun’s fire being frozen, and about how this signals the time to prepare for the invasion of the Others:

Jon Snow turned away. The last light of the sun had begun to fade. He watched the cracks along the Wall go from red to grey to black, from streaks of fire to rivers of black ice. Down below, Lady Melisandre would be lighting her nightfire and chanting, Lord of Light, defend us, for the night is dark and full of terrors.

“Winter is coming,” Jon said at last, breaking the awkward silence, “and with it the white walkers. The Wall is where we stop them. The Wall was made to stop them … but the Wall must be manned.”

The light of the setting sun reflects like red fire on the meltwater in the cracks of the Wall, but as the last light of the sun fades – as the sun dies if you will – those streaks of red fire transform into rivers of black ice. That’s the sun king turning dark (i.e. setting) and impregnating the ice moon symbol (the Wall) with his red fire that then quenches to black ice, like a burning meteor that freezes to a cold black stone. This is like the freezing of fire, basically, the tempering of a fiery meteor sword in the heart of the ice moon.

This scene draws very strong parallels to the passage we read earlier about Rhaegar giving his seed to Lyanna when the Blackwater Rush that comes from the Gods Eye became iced over – that’s a literal river of black ice at Jon’s conception to match the apparent rivers of black ice here at this symbolic scene at the Wall. Martin is using the same black ice river symbol around Jon’s conception and a scene that symbolizes Jon’s conception, and I don’t think that’s an accident, but rather a clue that the two scenes are meant to be taken in parallel. Black ice isn’t a random symbol either – it’s one of Jon’s personal symbols, as we will see in a moment.

In other words, when Jon sees the dying sun give its red fire to the Wall to be turned into black ice, it’s kind of like Jon is walking in on his parents doing it.  Ha ha – it’s true! I always like to joke about how the RLJ doubters are waiting for some sort of secret Lyanna and Rhaegar sextape that’s never going to come, but this might be the closest thing. And what does Jon say when he sees this? “Winter is coming, and with it the white walkers. The Wall must be manned.” This might allude to what I was saying a moment ago: when the black dragon is lodged in the ice, the Others are coming. When Night King gives his seed to Night’s Queen, the Others are born. When Jon is conceived, the Others begin to stir.

Finishing up with that last quote, take note of Mel’s fires burning “down below”: that’s simply another indication of there being fire injected into the Wall, into the ice moon. Mel is a fire moon queen, so when she comes to the Wall she is like a piece of fire moon going inside the ice moon, similar to how we interpreted Dark Sister as a fire moon meteor when it was jammed into Aemond’s blue star eye. We’re going to talk about this when we cover Sansa, but essentially the female version of the dragon locked in ice symbolism is when a fire moon character like Mel goes to live inside an ice moon symbol. This schema perceives the black meteor coming from the sun-fire moon conjunction as a piece of the damaged fire moon queen which lands in the ice and transforms.

For example, Sansa does fire moon things at Kings Landing, culminating with her helping to turn solar king Joffrey’s solar face dark… but then she turns to a stone (Alayne Stone) and darkens her hair and clothing, then flies from Kings Landing to embed herself in the Eyrie, a supreme ice moon symbol. Similarly, Cersei is a fire moon character who comes to be imprisoned in the Sept of Baelor – literally locked in an ice moon building. Her golden hair is shorn to demonstrate her fire being quenched, perhaps, like Sansa dying her kissed by fire hair and becoming a stone (Cersei is bald like an egg or a stone).

Alright, well, little detour there, but I do like to give you a preview of what is coming down the pipe occasionally. Getting back to Jon, his emblematic red fire / black ice combo appears in one other place, and again the theme is manning the Wall against the Others. This is Jon’s famous Azor Ahai dream I mentioned a moment ago, the one where he mans the Wall alone armored in black ice with Longclaw burning red in his fist. We’ve quoted the whole thing before (understatement), so I’ll just give you the key lines:

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

Both of these Jon scenes at the Wall with red fire and black ice show us the dragon encased in ice – Jon is literally encased in black ice armor in this scene, and standing on top of the Wall as well, while the previous scene shows red fire turning to black ice inside the cracks of the Wall. This scene is a strong clue that the black ice and red fire is a combination with specific relevance to Jon, and shows Jon as a character who is successfully uniting ice and fire. That makes sense, since he is the product of the second alchemical wedding, the wedding of ice and fire.

Continuing with metaphorical depictions of Jon’s conception using the Wall as a stand in for Lyanna, it’s time to get freaky. If you’re up to date on Mythical Astronomy essays, you may recall this scene at the Wall from ADWD which indicates Jon as a black shadow embedded in the ice, and it comes amidst talk of Mel and Jon creating shadowbabies, like she did with Stannis:

“The Lord of Light in his wisdom made us male and female, two parts of a greater whole. In our joining there is power. Power to make life. Power to make light. Power to cast shadows.”

“Shadows.” The world seemed darker when he said it.

“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. 

Fans of Radio Westeros will know that there is a lot of foreshadowing that Jon’s temporarily lifeless corpse will stored in the ice cells, such as when he visits Arnoff Karstark in the ice cells and it says “Jon Snow could see his own reflection dimly inside the icy walls,” and this after the door to the cells was yanked open by Wick Whittlestick, the first man to stab Jon at the end of ADWD. This etching of Jon’s shadow on the ice serves the same purpose, foreshadowing (literally fore-shadowing here) Jon’s corpse being stored in the ice of the Wall.

But in mythical astronomy terms, it’s also the black dragon meteor lodged in the ice motif. The shadowbaby talk here provides extra confirmation, because we already know that there are many parallels between the black shadow brothers of the Night’s Watch and the black shadows Melisandre can give birth to, and that both are black fire moon meteor symbols. The world seems darker when they show up, to be sure.

The mythical astronomy version of the RLJ formula is spelled out here in two parts. First, Melisandre, a fire moon figure, wants to help Jon cast black shadows like she did with Stannis, with both Jon and Stannis playing the dark solar king father role. “Let’s make some black meteors,” she’s saying. Then, to show us the black shadow Jon meteors lodging in the ice, it says that the moon kissed Jon and etched his shadow on the Wall. Jon is the solar king, kissing the fire moon and casting a black shadow meteor child into the ice moon, which becomes… say it with me… the dragon locked in ice. Jon is playing the role of Rhaegar, his father, here, but that’s ok because symbolism is fractal and repeats every generation, as we know.

A bit earlier in ADWD, Mel and Stannis play the casting black shadows on the ice of the Wall game, and this shows the same thing, the dark sun and the fire moon casting black shadow children into the ice:

R’hllor was a jealous deity, ever hungry. So the new god devoured the corpse of the old, and cast gigantic shadows of Stannis and Melisandre upon the Wall, black against the ruddy red reflections on the ice.

The “shadows of Mel and Stannis” are the shadowbabies, the dark children of sun and fire moon, once again being projected upon the Wall, which stands in for the ice moon. This act, in a way, makes the Wall look like it is on fire. This is a reference to the black fire moon meteor lighting up the ice moon with cold fire, or fire which is turned cold. The Wall looks like it is on fire, but it is not. It’s a bit like Stannis’s Lightbringer – it looks like it’s on fire, but it isn’t, and it gives off no heat.

The act of turning fire cold is something I have been kind of working my way to, because it’s one of the most important things to understand about the the creation of the Others and the merging of Night’s King and Queen. The freezing of fire is one of the results of the alchemical wedding of fiery black meteor and cold, icy moon. As such, we’ll now have a quick look at two parallel weddings in the north that depict the freezing of fire. Not to beat a cold, undead horse, but these cold weddings will also symbolize Jon’s conception and the creation of the Others.

The Second Alchemical Wedding

This section is sponsored by two of our newest Priestesses of Starry Wisdom; Nyessa the Water Nymph, Goddess of Pain and Mercy; and Obscured by Klowds, the Mayor of Walrusville, guest of the Yupik, and servant of Bodhi 

The first northern wedding featuring a Night’s Queen figure and the freezing of fire takes place at the Wall and does involve Jon, although the focal point is ac tually Alys Karstark. This is her wedding to Sigorn, the young Magnar of Thenn, from ADWD, and right from the opening of the chapter, you can see that the cold fire theme is front and center:

“R’hllor,” sang Melisandre, her arms upraised against the falling snow, “you are the light in our eyes, the fire in our hearts, the heat in our loins. Yours is the sun that warms our days, yours the stars that guard us in the dark of night.”

“All praise R’hllor, the Lord of Light,” the wedding guests answered in ragged chorus before a gust of ice-cold wind blew their words away. Jon Snow raised the hood of his cloak.

The snowfall was light today, a thin scattering of flakes dancing in the air, but 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. Even Melisandre’s fire was shivering; the flames huddled down in the ditch, crackling softly as the red priestess sang. Only Ghost seemed not to feel the chill.

Alys Karstark leaned close to Jon. “Snow during a wedding means a cold marriage. My lady mother always said so.”

The wind is blowing off the Wall the like the breath of the ice dragon, equating the Wall with an ice dragon. Of course, the Wall has been directly compared to an ice dragon on other occasion, and both the Wall and Vhagar the symbolic idea dragon seem to represent the ice moon. In any case, this cold ice dragon breath makes the flames shiver and huddle in their ditch, as if they had been turned cold. That’s my whole point – the ice moon is what turns fire into cold fire. It’s the alchemical reaction chamber and the cold forge, the place where fire is transformed into the cold blue star fire mojo that fuels the Others.

Shivering flame is a symbolic motif that will turn up many times in the future, though we don’t have time to list them all now – we already saw a version of it once when I gave you a sample of the symbolism of the Eyrie, where the blue-veined white marble made “even the sunlight looked chilly.” Alys Karstark mentions the idea of a cold marriage, and indeed, she is pretty easy to peg as an ice moon maiden. In fact, Jon calls her out for us:

The girl smiled in a way that reminded Jon so much of his little sister that it almost broke his heart. “Let him be scared of me.” The snowflakes were melting on her cheeks, but her hair was wrapped in a swirl of lace that Satin had found somewhere, and the snow had begun to collect there, giving her a frosty crown. Her cheeks were flushed and red, and her eyes sparkled.

“Winter’s lady.” Jon squeezed her hand.

So there you go, winter’s lady, complete with frosty crown and sparkling eyes. And let’s go back to the idea of a cold marriage for a second, because right after Alys tells Jon that her mother told her that snow during a wedding means a cold marriage, Jon has a really funny line:

He glanced at Queen Selyse. There must have been a blizzard the day she and Stannis wed. Huddled beneath her ermine mantle and surrounded by her ladies, serving girls, and knights, the southron queen seemed a frail, pale, shrunken thing. A strained smile was frozen into place on her thin lips, but her eyes brimmed with reverence.

This is a great Selyse-as-Ice-Queen quote which I somehow missed last time, but the oversight works out rather well, because this cold marriage thing is great for us to focus on right now. Recall that snowstorm that assaulted King’s Landing and froze the Blackwater Rush which came as Rhaegar and Lyanna conceived Jon – it serves the same purpose of signifying Lyanna as an ice queen and their marriage as a symbolically cold one, like Alys and Sigorn’s marriage  or Stannis and Selyse’s marriage. Hopefully this goes without saying, but all of these cold weddings are echoes of Night’s King and Queen, the original cold marriage.

The Karstark sigil is a white sunburst, also called a white star by some characters, on a night black field. The white star symbolism is something that makes us think of Dawn and the white star in the hilt of the Sword of the Morning constellation, which makes sense for Winter’s Lady if indeed Dawn is the “Dawn of the Others” as I suggest. There’s even a possible “others” play on words as Jon gives away his cousin in marriage:

“Who brings this woman to be wed?” asked Melisandre.

“I do,” said Jon. “Now comes Alys of House Karstark, a woman grown and flowered, of noble blood and birth.” He gave her hand one last squeeze and stepped back to join the others.

He stepped back to join the others, from whence winter’s lady came. Could be nothing, but it lines up with everything else so I thought I’d mention the possible wordplay. This is actually the same chapter we looked at last episode where the dancing breaks out with the Night’s Watch, Queen Selyse’s men, and the wildlings, only to be interrupted by the warhorn signaling Val’s return, and we got the line “Others had heard it too. The music and the laughter died at once. Dancers froze in place, listening.” And then back at the beginning of this chapter, when Mel is leading the prayers before the marriage, it says:

“Lord of Light, protect us,” cried Queen Selyse. Other voices echoed the response. Melisandre’s faithful: pallid ladies, shivering serving girls, Ser Axell and Ser Narbert and Ser Lambert, men-at-arms in iron mail and Thenns in bronze, even a few of Jon’s black brothers. “Lord of Light, bless your children.”

Among those “Other voices” we find clues about the Others: pallid shivering ladies, a Florent (with their circle of blue flowers and red fox sigil), and this Ser Lambert fellow, who turns out to be Lambert Whitewater, according the the wiki of ice and fire. We’ve seen the White Knife riven frozen over to create the icy white knife symbol – a reference to Dawn, the original Ice of House Stark, according to my thinking – and Ser Lambert Whitewater is later named as one of the dancers who froze in place. Since the Others are pale white, made of ice, are melt when killed, a frozen dancer made of white water works pretty well. And for those of you who know your old cartoons, Lambert the sheepish lion is a lion who grew up thinking he was a sheep. I would point out that a solar lion becoming a white sheep would be like a solar king turning into an Other, but that would just be completely jumping the shark and so I will refrain.

Getting back to the wedding ceremony, there’s a great sex-and-swordplay line here at the wedding too, as it says “the Magnar of Thenn stood waiting by the fire, clad as if for battle, in fur and leather and bronze scales, a bronze sword at his hip.” I don’t hardly have to say anything other than ‘look, it’s the bajillionth instance of weddings and sexual intercourse described in battle language,’ and that this is of course part of the metaphor of describing meteor and comet impacts as “impregnations.”

Now when Alys weds Sigorn, they modify the Karstark white star-on-black sigil in an interesting way:

Like so much else, heraldry ended at the Wall. The Thenns had no family arms as was customary amongst the nobles of the Seven Kingdoms, so Jon told the stewards to improvise. He thought they had done well. The bride’s cloak Sigorn fastened about Lady Alys’s shoulders showed a bronze disk on a field of white wool, surrounded by flames made with wisps of crimson silk. The echo of the Karstark sunburst was there for those who cared to look, but differenced to make the arms appropriate for House Thenn.

The white field of the Stark sigil is called an ice-white field, so I think the white field of the new Karstark sigil should also be taken as an ice white field, which is appropriate for a House now made up of a Wildling Magnar and an old northern bloodline. So I think what we have here is a bronze and crimson sun, locked in ice. That’s a good match for Alys the Winter Queen as an analog for Night’s Queen, and Sigorn the Magnar of Thenn as a Night’s King analog. It’s exactly where we should see the dragon locked in ice symbolism.

And see it we do – there’s another instance of shadows cast on to the ice of the Wall going on which mirrors the Jon scenes we just looked at:

And Melisandre said, “Let them come forth, who would be joined.” The flames cast her shadow on the Wall behind her, and her ruby gleamed against the paleness of her throat.

As I am sure you all realize, the flames are the sun here, and Mel the fire moon, and the shadow cast into the ice is the black meteor headed for the ice moon. This line actually comes right before Alys is described as Winter’s Lady and the ceremony commences.

In any case, despite Melisandre speaking of Sigorn and Alys warming each other when the night is dark and cold, and of them be joined by fire, Winter’s lady has a cold marriage and an ice dragon turns their wedding fire cold, and that is what I am driving at. In this chapter, there’s also two occurrences of Melisandre being asked what she sees in her fires when she searches for Stannis, with her responding “only snow.” That eventually becomes an upper case “Snow” in Mel’s own POV chapter, but right now it’s telling us that she is literally seeing lower-case snow in her fires – because the ice dragon turned them cold, ha ha!

This is also the chapter where we are told that the black  brothers had taken to using the wormways to get around castle Black because of how cold it has become, and also the same chapter where Jon visits Cregan Karstark and sees his own reflection dimly in the icy walls, and where “Rusted hinges screamed like damned souls when Wick Whittlestick yanked the door wide enough for Jon to slip through.” And as I mentioned a moment ago, this is also the chapter where the “other dancers” of Queen Selyse “froze in place” at the sound of the horn

In other words, it’s one of those chapters with a strong and clear theme that runs through multiple scenes within the chapter, and that theme is turning fire cold. The first five paragraphs of the chapter, which contained that bit about the ice dragon blowing Melisandre’s fiery prayers away, the flames shivering, and Alys’s talk of cold marriage,  really sets a tone that carries through all the way to the end of the chapter where the other dancers freezing in place.

Alys and Sigorn’s wedding parallels the wedding of another ice queen figure in ADWD – Jeyne Poole dressed up as Arya Stark wedding Ramsay Snow / Bolton. Even though the moods of these two weddings are entirely opposite – Alys’s wedding is liberating, while Jeyne’s is an enslavement – they are pretty much the exact same in terms of symbolism. Again we will start with the beginning of the chapter – The Prince in Winterfell, this one is called – and again we can see the theme clearly spelled out right from the jump:

The hearth was caked with cold black ash, the room unheated but for candles. Every time a door opened their flames would sway and shiver. The bride was shivering too. They had dressed her in white lambswool trimmed with lace. Her sleeves and bodice were sewn with freshwater pearls, and on her feet were white doeskin slippers—pretty, but not warm. Her face was pale, bloodless.

A face carved of ice, Theon Greyjoy thought as he draped a fur-trimmed cloak about her shoulders. A corpse buried in the snow.

This is pretty blatant stuff: a face carved of ice, baby pearls to introduce moon symbolism, a corpse queen marrying an evil Azor Ahai figure in Ramsay, and of course shivering flames and a shivering bride. The cold black hearth also emphasizes the idea of cold fire. The language about Jeyne Poole being like a corpse buried in the snow is simply the female version of the fore moon meteor locked in ice again, such as with Sansa at the Eyrie, Cersei at the Sept of Baelor, or Melisandre when she comes to the Wall, and it is enhanced by the fact that Jeyne catches frostbite after escaping Winterfell – so in addition to being buried in the snow, she’s also sinking into the sea of warm milk.

There’s actually a perfect companion line to this at Alys Karstark’s wedding; as she is waiting for Mel to finish her praying, she asks Jon “How much longer, Lord Snow? If I’m to be buried beneath this snow, I’d like to die a woman wed.” So not just buried under the now, but married and dead as well, just like Jeyne Poole the corpse buried in the snow.

Oh and I should mention that the sigil of House Pool is a blue circle on white, meant to represent a pool of course – but it also makes for a nice ice moon symbol, and reminds us of how the Other’s voices are “like the cracking of ice on a winter lake.”

There’s actually a wonderful clue about House Poole symbolism being tied to Lyanna as Ned wakes up from his fever dream of the Tower of Joy. Right after Lyanna screams “Eddard!” as the storm of rose petals blew across the sky, the dreams continues with Lyanna calling Ned’s name again:

“Lord Eddard,” Lyanna called again.

“I promise,” he whispered. “Lya, I promise …”

“Lord Eddard,” a man echoed from the dark.

Groaning, Eddard Stark opened his eyes. Moonlight streamed through the tall windows of the Tower of the Hand.

“Lord Eddard?” A shadow stood over the bed.

“How … how long?” The sheets were tangled, his leg splinted and plastered. A dull throb of pain shot up his side.

“Six days and seven nights.” The voice was Vayon Poole’s.

In other words, Lyanna turned in Vayon Poole, helping confirm Jeyne Poole as an ice moon maiden.

Returning to Ramsay and Jeyne’s wedding, we find Theon is playing the same role that Jon did at Alys’s wedding: a sort of half-Stark giving away the ice queen. I’m not sure what that means yet, but I thought I would point it out as it is a parallel between the two scenes. Theon even thinks about himself as “a Stark at last” in this chapter, which is titled “The Ghost in Winterfell,” a title that partially applies to Theon.

The wedding itself has some great stuff, including mythical astronomy hall-of-fame lines like “Up above the treetops, a crescent moon was floating in a dark sky, half-obscured by mist, like an eye peering through a veil of silk,” and this gem right here, which follows immediately after Jeyne says ‘I do’:

“I take this man,” the bride said in a whisper.

All around them lights glimmered through the mists, a hundred candles pale as shrouded stars. Theon stepped back, and Ramsay and his bride joined hands…

This is our first symbolic depiction of the Others being created, but it’s coming at us from a mythical astronomy perspective – when the Night’s King and Queen figures join, this is the black meteor striking the ice moon, and the next sentence after she accepts the marriage, we are told of a hundred pale, shrouded stars. Those pale, other-like stars are followed up by this passage, which also seems to suggest the presence of the Others:

Once outside the godswood the cold descended on him like a ravening wolf and caught him in its teeth. He lowered his head into the wind and made for the Great Hall, hastening after the long line of candles and torches. Ice crunched beneath his boots, and a sudden gust pushed back his hood, as if a ghost had plucked at him with frozen fingers, hungry to gaze upon his face. Winterfell was full of ghosts for Theon Greyjoy.

Ghosts with frozen fingers sure sound like the Others, and you’ll notice the candles which created the appearance of stars a moment ago are mentioned again here.

Check out this passage, where the black ice makes an appearance:

..a hard white frost gripped Winterfell. The paths were treacherous with black ice, and hoarfrost sparkled in the moonlight on the broken panes of the Glass Gardens. Drifts of dirty snow had piled up against the walls, filling every nook and corner. Some were so high they hid the doors behind them. Under the snow lay grey ash and cinders, and here and there a blackened beam or a pile of bones adorned with scraps of skin and hair.

Broken panes of glass, covered in hoarfrost and sparkling in the moonlight… it kinda reminds of Ser Waymar’s sword, covered in white frost and glimmering in the moonlight before it was shattered. More important is the black ice present here at the Night’s Queen’s wedding, just as with the Blackwater Rush freezing when Rhaegar absconded with Lyanna, or as with the black ice in the cracks of the Wall symbolizing Jon’s conception. More dragon locked in ice symbolism, or we might say fire buried in snow, is found here with the ash and cinders and blackened and burnt wood buried in the snow here.

If we really want to parse the words here, we can observe that a “beam” can also refer to light, as in a beam of light, so a “blackened beam” might be the sort of sunbeam you get from a dark sun, right? “Blackened beam” also seems apt for the black meteors that drank the fire of the sun and now drink the light in general. And you know how I like to call Azor Ahai’s hypothetical black meteor sword “Dark Lightbringer.” There’s actually a great dark Lightbringer clue in this chapter, as a matter of fact, when Theon thinks about Ned and his smoke-dark sword Ice, musing that “the long steel shadow of his greatsword had always been between them.” Since we know that Ned’s sword is compared to the comet and is in many ways symbolic of Lightbringer, this is very like Stannis’s shadowbaby wielding a shadowsword, and both passages refer to the original sword of Azor Ahai, which I am pretty sure we can think of as “dark Lightbringer.”

Speaking of Ned’s sword, there’s an ever better black ice symbol that makes an appearance in one Theon’s later ADWD chapters, and in the same place as the wedding – in the godswood, before the heart tree.  This time it is the cold black pond beneath the heart tree itself that freezes over:

The heart tree stood before him, a pale giant with a carved face and leaves like bloody hands. A thin film of ice covered the surface of the pool beneath the weirwood.

This is the ouroboros of black ice symbolism, where the head eats the tail, because Ned cleaning “black Ice” in this black pond is kind of an iconic image. The first time we saw Ned at Winterfell, we saw him cleaning “black Ice” in the black pond, and when Bran seem Ned through the eyes of the heart tree in his last ADWD chapter, he sees Ned sitting on a rock beside the black pool cleaning Ice. By having the black pond freeze over where Ned dips his sword “black Ice”, Martin is giving us a great clue that we should think of Ned’s black Ice as part of a larger black ice symbol.

There’s a lot more to see and discuss in that scene – Ramsay even has a wheel of “veined cheese,” meaning blue-veined cheese and thus another symbol of the Others, like the blue-veined marble at the Eyrie – but I want to stick with the theme of turning fire cold. I think it’s sufficient to see that at the weddings of these two unmistakable ice queen / Night’s Queen figures, we have the shivering flames symbolism appearing with dragon locked in ice symbolism and ties to the Starks and Winterfell. These two parallel wedding scenes go nicely with Jon’s scenes at the Wall, being representations of the RLJ formula. This is an alchemical wedding of a different sort we’re talking about here: one which transform fire into cold fire and makes ice burn.

And when I say cold fire, I’m talking about the mystery of why the Others have cold-burning blue star eyes, and why Martin is fond of telling us that “nothing burns like the cold.” You’ll recall that at the end of the last episode, I said the understanding how Jon is the living incarnation of the song of ice fire would help us understand the Others, and that’s what we’re about to discuss.

Freezing Fire, Burning Cold

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The song of ice and fire is more than just ice vs. fire. More than dragons and flaming swords against Others. It’s not just a conflict and a balance bet ween opposite forces – it’s also a song, after all, a harmonization. To that end, I’ve noticed an cool bit of symmetry in ASOIAF while thinking about elemental magic: sure, we have ice and fire, anyone can see that, but we also have both frozen fire (dragonglass) and burning ice (the cold burning blue star eyes of the Others) given to us as important symbols. These ideas, while strange and paradoxical-seeming at first, clearly speak of some sort of a harmonization of ice and fire. We’re going to spend more time on the burning ice idea, so let’s quickly discuss frozen fire in the context of everything we gone over so far.

The dragonglass knives which are becoming more valuable by the minute as the story progresses are also known by the Valyrian phrase meaning “frozen fire,” and this is a fairly literal description: dragonglass is obsidian, and obsidian is cooled magma – literally molten fire that froze and hardened into place under just the right circumstances. Calling obsidian ‘frozen fire’ is therefore apt, but George seems to be using this concept to define its magical properties: obsidian represents a piece of fire magic frozen in place, good for making black knives which kill ice demons.

Fire consumes and ice preserves, Martin tells us, and it seems if you use a freezing action to temper fire, you can fix it in place. If fire magic is a sword without a hilt, the act of freezing fire seems to add the hilt and makes it a weapon anyone can wield against the Others. In other words, it takes a red priest and a lot of pain and sacrifice to be able to wield raw fire magic as Melisandre does, but anyone can use dragonglass to stab white walkers, because it is a fire weapon that has been ‘stabilized’ by ice. It almost seems like it’s a better weapon than raw fire because it contains both an ice and fire nature.

In fact, I wonder if Jon’s Longclaw might be giving us a clue about this – its blade is smoke-dark Valyrian steel, but its hilt is a white wolf’s head with red eyes made from a “pale stone.” The pommel evokes the weirwoods, who share Ghost’s coloring and turn to pale stone if they should die, as well as Dawn, a magic sword made from a pale stone. I’ve long thought that Longclaw was showing an ice and fire unity for this reason, although I think it’s also implying the idea of weirwood as a stabilizing pommel for dragon magic. Said another way, the black blade being swallowed by the white wolf’s head shows Azor Ahai being swallowed by the weirwoodnet and Jon’s spirit being swallowed by his wolf who resembles a weirwood. So too is the black meteor swallowed by the ice moon.

Speaking of Valyrian steel, like dragonglass, it also kills ice demons – at least, in the show we know that is true, and in the books, some characters think this will be the case, and many in the fandom including myself expect that they are right. In a sense, you could think of Valyrian steel (and really all swords) as ‘frozen fire’ in the sense that they are formed in a molten state, then cooled and hardened and fixed into their shape, but there’s an even better clue about Valyrian steel in particular being “frozen fire” in a symbolic sense, and that’s Ned’s smoke-dark Valyrian steel sword named Ice.

Because Ned’s ancestor who wielded Ice was nicknamed “Barth Blacksword,” I think it’s okay to simply call Ned’s very dark grey sword “black,” and thus “black Ice.” It was forged in dragonfire, but now it’s black Ice –  a frozen black dragon sword, essentially, and another symbol of the harmonization of ice and fire. And again, if both Valyrian steel and Dragonglass are black weapons forged in fire that kill the Others, it makes sense to think about them both as frozen fire.

Hopefully this goes without saying, but when the black moon meteors drink the fire of the sun, and then cool to black meteorites (particularly when tempered in the ice of the ice moon), they would also be frozen fire. Presumably, if I am right that Azor Ahai forged his sword from a black meteorite, it would also kill Others, and thus it’s more or less the same as Valyrian steel or dragonglass; they’re all black, frozen fire weapons associated with dragons that kill Others.

We have already identified “black ice” as an important symbol to Jon, a frozen black dragon figure who dreams of being armored in black ice while his sword burns red like Lightbringer. Jon is a man named “Snow” who wears black from head to heel – a black snow, in other words, and that’s almost the same thing as black ice. He often thinks of his father’s sword ‘black Ice,’ even thinking that Ice was the sword he really wanted when Lord Commander Mormont gave him Longclaw. This is one reason I would like to see Jon get his hands on Oathkeeper, but that’s beside the point. Black ice is a symbol which seems to encompass both Jon and his father’s black sword Ice, and I think it also includes dragonglass, a.k.a. frozen fire.

Simply put, dragonglass is black, and it looks like ice, and it can be considered “frozen” due to it’s “frozen fire” description. Thus I tend to see black ice and frozen fire as the same symbol, one which refers to obsidian and Valyrian steel and even frozen black meteors. Comets, in fact, can be described as black ice, because they are made up of rock and ice and metal, and as I have mentioned before, they are coated in an ultra-black tar called “space goo” which is a little bit similar to the char on a barbecue grill. Repeat: comets are literal hunks of black ice and metal that look like flying, fiery swords and dragons.

Thus it should come as no surprise that Jon the black ice dragon is compared to dragonglass, such as when Stannis tells Jon in ADWD that

“ are the weapon the Lord has given me. I have found you here, as you found the cache of dragonglass beneath the Fist, and I mean to make use of you. Even Azor Ahai did not win his war alone.”  

When Stannis talks of making use of Jon like a piece of frozen fire, he’s speaking of making Jon the Lord of Winterfell, which would make him the rightful owner of Ned’s black Ice, in a sense. When Jon considers the offer, it says:

He wanted it, Jon knew then. He wanted it as much as he had ever wanted anything. I have always wanted it, he thought, guiltily. May the gods forgive me. It was a hunger inside him, sharp as a dragonglass blade.

Finally, when Jon turns down the offer and is elected Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch instead, the token which signifies a vote for Jon is the arrowhead – the line is “The rest was arrowheads, a torrent of arrowheads, a flood of arrowheads, arrowheads enough to drown the last few stones and shells, and all the copper pennies too.” These arrowheads aren’t dragonglass, but gives Jon’s dragonglass symbolism, I think we can read these arrowheads that stand for a vote for Jon as symbolizing dragonglass, and thus we have three scenes revolving around Jon becoming wither Lord of Winterfell or Lord Commander of the Watch which equate Jon with dragonglass.

As the first quote alluded to, Jon, with the help of Ghost, was the one who found the cache of dragonglass by the Fist of the First men. And as Poor Quentyn pointed out on our recent livestream, which you can find on our YouTube channel, the cache of dragonglass was wrapped in a Night’s Watch cloak, as if it were a watchmen made of dragonglass. That’s what Jon is implied as, a black brother who is like dragonglass.

By the way, you gotta love the meteor shower symbolism here – a flood of arrowheads. If they are sort of representing the idea of the dragonglass arrowheads and if dragonglass is meant to be seen as black ice, then we have rivers of black ice here to signify Jon’s promotion, which of course would be highly appropriate! There’s the torrent language again too, and of course Jon has a lot of Sword of the morning symbolism as we have seen before. A torrent of black ice, however, sounds like Valyrian steel being compared to Dawn as an opposite of Dawn, which makes a lot of sense. It’s very similar to this quote from Barristan’s ADWD chapter about a black dawn, which comes only a page after Jon’s death:

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 into rivers.

That was actually the opening of the chapter right after John feels “only the cold,” which helps to juxtapose Jon’s death with Quentyn’s, something we’ll explore another time. We’ve talked before about how when Barristan sees a red slash a moment later denoting the sunrise, he compares it to the blood welling from a deep wound even before pain is felt – the exact thing that happened to Jon a page before when Wick Wittlestick slashed his neck.

Now as with torrent of arrowheads quote, the symbolism here applies to Jon and to the black sword that he represents – rivers of cold black rain running through the streets are very close to rivers of black ice we always see when Jon’s conception is metaphorically depicted, and these rivers of cold black rain come during the black dawn after Jon’s death. Think about: Dawn the sword is basically described as white Valyrian steel, so a Valyrian steel sword can be thought of as a “black Dawn.” Dawn the white sword is also the original Ice, and Valyrian steel is also black Ice in a sense. And here in this scene, we see the rivers of cold black rain appearing alongside the black dawn motif. Instead of symbolizing Jon’s conception and birth, I’d say we are talking about Jon’s rebirth here, since he’s just died. The black dawn motif also suggests a dark day, such as we have during the Long Night, so it would seem Jon’s death and rebirth will likely be tied to the new Long Night, where’s he’ll need all the frozen fire weapons he can get: “black Dawn” swords and black ice dragonglass knives, some Valyrian steel armor would be sweet, etc. 

You’ll also notice the cold black rain in this scene “hisses” as it falls, adding a serpentine cast to this whole thing to make us think of dragonglass or dragon-like meteors. 

As I pointed out last time, it’s especially notable that Stannis talks about using Jon like dragonglass in that one quote, and then speaks of Azor Ahai fighting his war. Obviously there’s synergy here as either flaming swords or dragonglass are useful for fighting Others, and Jon’s dream of being armored in black ice also has Oathkeeper burning red. We can see that the black ice and frozen fire symbols, in addition to being tied to Jon, seem to snuggle up with Azor Ahai and the Night’s Watch and the idea of fighting the Others, is what I’m trying to say.

In summation, Jon is the dragon locked in ice, so describing him as frozen fire makes a ton of sense. That’s the whole deal with the dragon seed being planted in the cold womb; it freezes the dragon fire. Hence the red streaks of fire turning to black ice in the cracks of the Wall, and Jon being encased in black ice armor atop the Wall. Jon is the frozen dragon seed, and frozen fire, black ice, dragonglass, and this black Dawn idea are all his personal symbols. 

Speaking beyond the context of Jon, the frozen fire symbol is just what it sounds like – fire frozen solid. It’s a combination of fire and ice which plays on team fire, and it also goes by the name “black Ice.” But before we ever heard of frozen fire, we hear of the burning qualities of ice, and this is from the prologue of AGOT:

“It was the cold,” Gared said with iron certainty. “I saw men freeze last winter, and the one before, when I was half a boy. Everyone talks about snows forty foot deep, and how the ice wind comes howling out of the north, but the real enemy is the cold. It steals up on you quieter than Will, and at first you shiver and your teeth chatter and you stamp your feet and dream of mulled wine and nice hot fires. It burns, it does. Nothing burns like the cold.

Nothing burns like the cold, indeed. This idea is referenced when the first Other is sighted a few pages later:

The Other halted. Will saw its eyes; blue, deeper and bluer than any human eyes, a blue that burned like ice. They fixed on the longsword trembling on high, watched the moonlight running cold along the metal. For a heartbeat he dared to hope.

It’s a vein hope, of course, as Ser Waymar falls to the pale blades of the white walkers, though we can admire his courage to stand against them in the first place. And cold moonlight is always a nice thing to see around the Others when you have a theory about a moon with an affinity for ice… but those eyes. They are “a blue that burned liked ice.” We were just told that nothing burns like the cold, and now that phrase takes on new relevance as we stare into the blue eyes of the Other along with Will and Waymar.

After the Others dispatch Waymar and leave, Will climbs down, only to be confronted with Warmar’s wighted corpse, and once again, Martin makes the point about burning cold:

The right eye was open. The pupil burned blue. It saw.

Three times in one prologue: let’s just say it makes an impression. I’d call it the dominant motif of the entire prologue.

The next time we see a pair of blue star eyes, well, they burn too:

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. Jon knew that face. Othor, he thought, reeling back. Gods, he’s dead, he’s dead, I saw him dead.

Burning blue star eyes, once again, and this time in a moon face too! That would be an ice moon symbol, obviously, and Jon the dark solar figure has used his sword to leave a crack across the face of the moon, if you will. The wight is the black brother formerly known as Othor, which is one letter away from Other, and indeed I think he is symbolizing the Others as a whole with his blue star eyes and slashed moon face. That slash would represent the the mark the black moon meteor made piercing the ice moon, according to the theory, and of course Jon is the right one to deliver that blow. He’s like the Night’s King or Rhaegar with their ice moon queens, except his ice moon queen is a wight and he’s giving it his sword instead of his… “sword.”

Jon recalls the incident later with this line:

He still saw the wight in his dreams, dead Othor with the burning blue eyes and the cold black hands… 

Burning, once again. Cold, and yet burning.

The next occurrence of blue star eyes is when Jon talks to Gilly in ACOK, which we quoted last time. Gilly says Craster gives his male sons to the “cold gods, the white shadows,” then Jon asks “What color are their eyes,” to which she responds “Blue. As bright as blue stars, and as cold.” So again, they are stars – burning things – but they are cold. Of course in terms of flame temperature, blue flame is hotter than orange flame, and in terms of stars, blue ones are the second hottest after white stars. Martin has imagined blue stars as cold, but it’s a burning cold. When he says nothing burns like the cold, he’s almost implying that very cold things are actually the hottest kind of burn out there. Any way you slice it, blue stars seem to be both very cold and very hot at the same time in ASOIAF.

The next sighting of wights or Others comes in Sam’s flashbacks to the Fist of the First Men at the beginning of ASOS. He’s remembering the wighted snow bear:

The bear was dead, pale and rotting, its fur and skin all sloughed off and half its right arm burned to bone, yet still it came on. Only its eyes lived. Bright blue, just as Jon said. They shone like frozen stars.

Like starfire… but turned cold. The phrase “frozen star” even implies a process by which star’s fire is frozen and transformed into cold fire. This process is important; this is Night’s Queen taking the fiery seed and soul of Night’s King to make the Others, the cold burning star people. This is why I started talking about the Others as frozen dragons when I introduced the theory that Night’s King was a blood of the dragon person. As you can see, Martin really seems captivated by this concept of the Others having a cold, internal fire; indeed, I would say that burning cold symbolism is actually what defines  the magic that animates the Others and the wights.

Moving right along… Sam sees a white walker later in this chapter, but it’s eyes are not described. That’s the one Sam kills with a dragonglass dagger. We can observe, however, that frozen fire seems to beat burning ice, unless burning ice has more tricks up its sleeve. I for one would not want to try to wield dragonglass against Dawn, especially Dawn burning with some sort of blue or white fire. Anyway, this is also the scene where we got a look at the pale as milkglass bones of the Others, for what its worth.

Later in ASOS, Sam confronts the wighted corpse of Small Paul, who died fighting the Other with Sam earlier. The burning ice theme features prominently:

Before he could get out his other knife, the steel knife that every brother carried, the wight’s black hands locked beneath his chins. Paul’s fingers were so cold they seemed to burn. They burrowed deep into the soft flesh of Sam’s throat. Run, Gilly, run, he wanted to scream, but when he opened his mouth only a choking sound emerged.

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

The wighted Paul has hands so cold they seem to burn, Sam’s throat is frozen, but his lungs are on fire, and then finally the world shrinks to Paul’s face and those blue star eyes. That last bit makes it sound like those blue stars are getting closer to the world – falling from the sky in other words. When stars are rapidly getting bigger, that means they coming towards you, ha ha.

There’s matching line from AGOT during Jon’s fight with the moon-faced and undead Othor in Mormont’s study we need to look at. After Jon slashes his face and his burning blue star eyes are described, we get this:

Dead Othor slammed into him, knocking him off his feet.

Jon’s breath went out of him as the fallen table caught him between his shoulder blades. The sword, where was the sword? He’d lost the damned sword! When he opened his mouth to scream, the wight jammed its black corpse fingers into Jon’s mouth. Gagging, he tried to shove it off, but the dead man was too heavy. Its hand forced itself farther down his throat, icy cold, choking him. Its face was against his own, filling the world. Frost covered its eyes, sparkling blue. 

So, very like the wighted Small Paul, Othor’s cold moon face and burning and sparkling, frosty blue star eyes are filling the world. Now, there are two ways to interpret these two scenes with Sam and Jon confronting wights with expanding faces. It could be the image of pieces of ice moon falling to the earth, as I mentioned, but it could also be the black meteor’s point-of-view as the ice moon swallows it. Othor’s face is pressed against Jon, creating the idea of a collision, and in this sense, Jon is simply paralleling the sword he used to slash Othor’s face.

Sam, like Jon, is a black brother, and his experience describes a “crushing” pain as his body parts begin to freeze. Sam has a moon face on four occasions, one of which gives him a “red moon face,” so I think we can see Sam as a fire moon-turned-black meteor, very like Jon, and in fact all Night’s Watch brothers have the symbolism of black shadows and black meteors. Sam is now being crushed by a cold wight with cold blue star eyes, which could read like the last journal entry of the fire moon meteor before getting trapped in the ice. Sam’s tears freeze in his eyes, giving him ice-eyes, like the statues of the Kings of Winter and a couple Starks and Boltons.

The last mention of blue star eyes that isn’t a reference to the Ice Dragon constellation or the Night’s Queen comes when Bran and company are seeking entrance to Bloodraven’s cave with Coldhands in ADWD. The wights that attack have eyes that “glowed like pale blue stars,” so it’s basically just more of the same.

I think we can observe Martin’s consistency here: I mean, he’s not known for being a disciplined writer, at least in terms of meeting deadlines or using outlines, but he is very disciplined about how he describes the Others and their eyes. They are very cold, the coldest things around – and yet they burn. Martin has chosen the symbol of the blue star to symbolize this all important concept of the burning cold, and we see it consistently wherever Others and wights and Ice Dragons and Corpse Queens are found.

The Black Dot

This final section is sponsored by Patchface of Motley Wisdom, High Priest of the Church of Starry Wisdom, and by Archmaester Aemma, founder of the Maiden Maesters & keeper of the two-headed sphinx

Now we have arrived at the heart of the matter regarding of all the  clues about Night’s King being a blood of the dragon person: his fire was needed to make the burning cold energy that animates the Others. The internal cold fire shown in the eyes of the Others is reflective of their dragon heritage through the Night’s King, who in turn is either linked to Azor Ahai or is himself Azor Ahai. Thus, Azor Ahai’s connection to the Others may run deeper than the idea of him slaying them with his red sword. He is their daddy!

We could have turned this idea around and asked the question “why does the cold associated with the Others always burn? Why do they seem to have cold internal fire, shining out through their blue star eyes?” And now we know, or at least, we have a good theory to provide the answer to that question: because the Night’s Queen transmuted the fire of the blood of the dragon and created the Others.

I mentioned that ice and fire are the yin and yang of the story, and the yin yang expresses a vital truth here: there is no such thing as purity. The white half of the yin yang, the yang side, contains a black dot, the black yin side contains a white dot, and the point is that everything contains an element of its opposite. The dividing line is also not a straight line, but rather an S shape, where one side tapers off into the other. This speaks of cycles, meaning that life and death are part of the one cycle, as are day and night or summer and winter. It’s easy to see how consistent this is with some of the philosophy George has used to define ASOIAF, and that’s because George is an old hippie and old hippies know what’s up with this sort of thing.

Here’s what this means for ice and fire: in addition to fire and ice being inverted parallels of one another like the visual depiction of the yin yang, we know that fire can have a frozen aspect to it when it appears as frozen fire, and ice can have a burning quality, particularly with the blue star eyes of the Others and the wights. Frozen fire still plays on team fire, and the burning cold is definitely on team ice, if you will pardon the sort of overly basic euphemism. The somewhat paradoxical concepts of frozen fire and burning ice are simply George’s creative depiction of this aspect of yin and yang.

In A Storm of Swords, the Daoist philosophy of the yin yang is only thinly disguised as Bran and Meera and Jojen travel the North and the conversation turns deep. Meera says that she both loves and hates the mountains – loving them because they are beautiful, hating them because they are arduous to climb or go around – but Bran objects, saying that it’s impossible to both love and hate something. She responds:

“Why can’t it be both?” Meera reached up to pinch his nose.

“Because they’re different,” he insisted. “Like night and day, or ice and fire.”

“If ice can burn,” said Jojen in his solemn voice, “then love and hate can mate. 

As I was saying, it seems we are being encouraged to think of the concept of burning ice as representing a unity of opposites, a mating of love and hate. Jojen could just as easily have said “if fire can be frozen, then love and hate can mate,” and it would have made the exact same, Daoist point. Martin is showing us that the Others, with their consistently burning blue star eyes, have an element of fire inside them. It may be a cold fire, but it burns nonetheless.

Do you see what I am getting at? The Others look like they swallowed some fire and turned it cold, don’t they? That’s what George has kind of been telling us – they are not just ice, frozen and immobile. Their ice magic is active, it burns like fire. There is a burning aspect to ice, just as fire can be frozen but still retain the magical qualities of fire, as dragonglass does.

I think he does this in part to amp up the power of the ice side of things to be able to rival the force and power of fire and the fire dragons, and in part because it’s just plain fun. That’s why he’s been thinking about ice dragons, or perhaps even a wighted dragon, and showing us the Others with burning blue star eyes. But of course I tend to think Martin does things with a lot of intention, and of course I am suggesting that there’s an important reason why the Others seem to have a cold internal fire: because their creator, the Night’s King, was the blood of the dragon.

Speaking in celestial terms, it’s a two-way street. When the fiery meteor interacts with the ice moon, it’s a wedding of ice and fire. Fire is frozen, and ice is animated with a burning quality. We can think of that black meteor inside the ice moon as filling it with fire energy – fire energy which the ice moon turns cold, just as the cold womb of the Night’s Queen transforms the fire of Night’s King into the burning cold of the Others. It’s worth noting that that meteor in the ice moon would the same breed of magical black meteor worshiped by the Bloodstone Emperor, and which I propose was used to make Azor Ahai’s black sword called Lightbringer – that’s powerful stuff.

You may have noticed this by now, but that black dot on the white half of the yin yang looks an awful lot like a black dragon meteor locked in ice – and indeed, a black meteor in a white moon would look a lot like the white side of the yin yang. It’s not just a visual correlation of course, but a thematic one – the black meteor in the ice moon does indeed represent the fire element to the ice side of things.

People who have watched the show will recognize that the magical ritual they created to explain the origin of their Night King character, who was turned into a blue-eyed white walker king by the act of shoving dragonglass into the heart of a living human, matches the dragon locked in ice pattern to a T, with Night’s King as the Ice moon and the dragonglass as the black meteor that fills things with cold fire. Of course, the show version of Night King doesn’t seem to exist in the books, or may not exist, and the show always simplifies issues of magic from their book canon, but I since I had this theory long before that episode aired, it definitely caught my eye. I’m not basing my theory here on anything in the show, however it was too close a match not to mention it, and at the least, it serves to illustrate the principle I am proposing. And of course it is possible that the show got their idea about stabbing people with magic rocks to make white walkers from something similar in the books we haven’t learned about yet.

I’d like to close this episode with a vision of Rhaegar as Night’s King. Now, I’ve implied a couple of times that Night’s King must have transformed himself in the process of giving his seed and soul to Night’s Queen, and a transformation is also implied in Old Nan’s line about Night’s King: “Night’s King was only a man by light of day, but the night was his to rule.” Jaime gets a glimpse of Rhaegar’s shade in his weirwood stump dream from AFFC, and it seems that George is using the scene as an opportunity to show us transformed, post death Rhaegar as a frozen dragon Night’s King figure:

“..there came two riders on pale horses, men and mounts both armored. The destriers emerged from the blackness at a slow walk. They make no sound, Jaime realized. No splashing, no clink of mail nor clop of hoof. He remembered Eddard Stark, riding the length of Aerys’s throne room wrapped in silence. Only his eyes had spoken; a lord’s eyes, cold and grey and full of judgment.

“Is it you, Stark?” Jaime called. “Come ahead. I never feared you living, I do not fear you dead.”

Brienne touched his arm. “There are more.”

He saw them too. They were armored all in snow, it seemed to him, and ribbons of mist swirled back from their shoulders. The visors of their helms were closed, but Jaime Lannister did not need to look upon their faces to know them. Five had been his brothers. Oswell Whent and Jon Darry. Lewyn Martell, a prince of Dorne. The White Bull, Gerold Hightower. Ser Arthur Dayne, Sword of the Morning. And beside them, crowned in mist and grief with his long hair streaming behind him, rode Rhaegar Targaryen, Prince of Dragonstone and rightful heir to the Iron Throne.

Prince Rhaegar burned with a cold light, now white, now red, now dark. “I left my wife and children in your hands.”

This is actually the one “Kingsguard as Others” quote I somehow forgot to include in Moons of Ice and Fire 2: Dawn of the Others, but I’m glad I saved it. Not only are the Kingsguard described as “pale shades” who are “armored all in snow,” the mist swirling from their shoulders also mimics the Others, whom Tormund describes as “white mists,” saying “how do you fight a mist, crow?” Of course we have the actual Sword of the Morning, Arthur Dayne, present, which is nice, and then to cap it off, we see Rhaegar, burning with a cold light that shifts from white to red to “dark.” You know what I’m going to say here right – it’s dark Lightbringer time again!

For what it’s worth, we might see an echo of this scene if fAegon – the man claiming to be Rhaegar’s son – will eventually be seen with the sword Blackfyre, as seems likely from certain clues about Illyrio, and if, as I predict, he takes Gerold Darkstar Dayne into his kingsguard after Darkstar – again, as I predict – steals Dawn from Starfall. Rhegar and his cold, dark light would parallel fAegon with Blackfyre, and Arthur Dayne with Dawn would be paralleled by Darkstar with Dawn.

When Martin talks about dark light or shadow fire, you can be sure this is more yin and yang style harmonization of opposites creativity. Rhaegar’s color change from red to white to dark implies a draining of light, a la Melisandre pulling from Stannis’s life fires to create the shadowbabies, and “burning with a cold light” is language that really belongs to the Others, as we just saw. But then, here is Rhaegar, leading a crowd of white shadows dressed in snow and mist, so I guess it all makes sense!

The whole thing about Night’s King being a blood of the dragon person is that his fire is transformed into the cold fire of the Others, and that’s what Rhaegar is showing us in this vision. This is an image of Rhaegar after his death, representing post-transformation Night’s King, and he now burns with a cold light which is also turning dark, having created his army or white shadows with his own life fires.

And who stands there, facing him? Two folks with flaming swords – ones which burn with “pale flame” and “silvery blue flame.” Jaime and Brienne both have a certain kind of last hero symbolism, and both were the owners of Oathkeeper, formerly the black Ice of House Stark. We’ll have to unravel this end of the exchange in the dream cave below Casterly Rock another time of course, but the fact that Night’s King Rhaegar and his snowy white shadows are opposed by flaming sword heroes only enhances the War for the Dawn vibe of this scene, and helps to confirm our identification of Rhaegar as the Night’s King figure in this scene.

Now, to preview the next episode, let me point to a question I’ve left hanging. You understand why the Others represent burning ice – because Night’s Queen froze the blood of the dragon to make them. But why does Jon represent frozen fire? If Jon and the Others come from the same “dark solar king impregnates icy moon queen” formula, why isn’t Jon’s symbolism simply that of the Others? Why is Jon instead like an inverted Other, with black ice armor instead of white? Why do both Jon and House Stark in general seem to have a connection to the Others, yet seem sworn to oppose them?

There’s a really, really good answer, and it’s going to be our next big Mythical Astronomy breakthrough discovery, if I do say so myself. Namely, we are going to get down to the nitty gritty of the founding of House Stark and the identity of the last hero. So get ready for that, and for some new characters from the books we haven’t discussed before. As usual, we’ll be doing a livestream QnA to follow up on this episode about a week after this comes out, on whatever that next Saturday is, at 3:30 EST, so be sure to come join in the fun with all of us.


The Long Night Was His to Rule

Hey there friends, patrons, and fellow mythical astronomers! It’s your friend LmL, here with another Moons of Ice and Fire episode to chill you to the bone… because it’s time to talk about Night’s King. Last time we hung out with Aegon the Conqueror and his dragon queens of ice and fire, and we essentially led up to the grand hypothesis that that Night’s King seems to have been a blood of the dragon person of the line of Azor Ahai, and that the story of Night’s King and Night’s Queen seems to be the origin story of the Others, as opposed to something which took place some time shortly after the Long Night as is commonly believed. Clearly, I am going to have to back up those assertions, and that’s what we’re here to do today.In terms of archetypes and legends, I suggested that Azor Ahai’s moons of ice and fire love triangle seems to cast Nissa Nissa as his fire moon bride and Night’s Queen as his ice moon bride. At some point in between his two ‘weddings,’ Azor Ahai would have become the Night’s King, seemingly through his use of the profane blood magic which played a part in bringing on the Long Night. As Azor Ahai, he seems to have cracked the moon with a blood magic rite performed with Nissa Nissa, most likely against her will in my opinion… and as Night’s King, he gave his seed and soul to Night’s Queen and produced cold children who were transformed into the first White Walkers through a process we don’t yet entirely understand.

One of the main ways we arrived at this conclusion – or at least the way that I arrived at it, and have hopefully persuaded you to consider it as a plausible hypothesis – is by the discovery of the Other-like symbolism of the Kingsguard and the Warrior’s Sons. Both of them are tied to Visenya, because Visenya created the Kingsguard, and because the Warrior’s Son’s make the Sept of Baelor on Visenya’s hill their home base. This creates an important parallel between Visenya and Night’s Queen as icy moon queens who play the “mother of the Others” role.

The Kingsguard in particular were created to protect King Aegon, who, with his night-black armor, his Blackfyre sword, and his “Black Dread” dragon, makes for the ultimate prototype of the dark solar king. I’ve begun to make the case that “Night’s King” is part of that same dark solar king archetype, highlighting the fact that both Night’s King and Aegon the Conqueror take one of these “mother of the Others” figures to wife. I also highlighted the fact that King Stannis seems to possess fairly clear parallels to both Night’s King and Azor Ahai, and as we’ll see today, he’s not alone in the combination.

Ultimately, it is that thing called RLJ, the combination of Stark and Targaryen which made Jon Snow, is what explains the deepest meaning of this first leg of the Moons of Ice and Fire series. Jon is the Prince That Was Promised, and his song is the “song of ice and fire” in part because of his Stark / Targaryen heritage, so of course this is in many ways going to come to a head with him. Jon is the most important ice dragon in the story! Even if another ice dragon comet comes around, Jon will still be more important. He’s the special snowflake!

But before we can get to RLJ, and before I can begin to draw more conclusions from the theory that Night’s King was a blood of the dragon person, I want to provide more evidence to support my Night’s King theory itself. I also want to show you more moons of ice and fire love triangles to help support my theory that there were two moons in the first place, and that these so-called “love triangles” are symbolizing a sun and two moons.

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

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

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

Weirwood Goddess

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

Now in PODCAST form!

Here’s the good news: it’s hardly going to be a slow episode. We’ll be starting with our first character to play the Night’s King role, Stannis Baratheon, and finishing up with the most important Night’s King character of the final act of our story, a character many of you have been waiting for me to discuss… and that’s none other than Mr. Pirate Odin on Bad Acid himself, Euron Crow’s Eye. In between we’ll visit some dear friends of mythical astronomy such as Jon, Melisandre, Ygritte, and Gilly; we’ll say hello to some fresh faces too, such as Selyse Baratheon, Val the Wildling ‘Princess’, Craster, Ser Waymar Royce, and Euron; and I’ll even throw a few Targaryens, Starks, and Daynes from ages past. We’ll have some stellar mythical astronomy metaphors, naturally, and an excellent dragon-on-dragon battle featuring Vhagar, and I might even offer you some shade of the evening when the moment is right. And by ‘when the moment is right,’ I mean that we will be visiting the House of the Undying and those shady, blue-lipped warlocks.

Oh and one other note; this episode will contain spoilers for the Forsaken chapter of The Winds of Winter which George has read aloud at a con, and the transcript of which can be found in several places online. History of Westeros also offers a great review of the chapter, by the way. I know a few of you guys and gals are holding off on reading Winds spoiler chapters, however I feel that you can and should make an exception for The Forsaken because George actually did intend for it to be a part of ADWD, only to have it cut for length. It doesn’t reveal any major plot twists; it’s really just taking what we already know about Euron (he’s crazy, uses sorcery, and has delusions of grandeur) and turns the dial up to eleven. The chapter is basically interaction between Aeron Damphair and Euron, interspersed with nightmare visions, so it’s mostly the symbolism in the nightmares I am after as it relates to Euron. Hopefully that’s not a problem for anyone, but fair warning. I don’t think this podcast will lessen anyone’s experience when Winds comes out; if anything, it will give you a hazy, shade of the evening-like glimpse into the horrors that await which will only wet your taste for more. However I did leave that section to the end, so if you really don’t want to be spoiled, you can stop at the Euron section and miss everything I have to say about him.

It’s going to be a very character-driven episode, which everyone seems to like, but the overarching mission will be to discover the nature of the Night’s King. We’ll also continue to explore the ice and fire dichotomy that runs through the story, as will every episode in the Moons of Ice and Fire series, so just sort of keep those ideas in the back of your mind as we go – Night’s King, ice and fire dichotomy. We will flesh out the Night’s King archetype by doing what we usually do – by identifying characters who seem to be playing into that archetype and then examining their symbolism and comparing them to each other, and by thinking about them as metaphors for flying space rocks. As we do all of that, we can compare what we find to what we’ve already learned about Aegon the Conqueror, Rhaegar, Night’s King, and of course, Azor Ahai. .

Stannis is the logical place to begin, since I’ve already cited him as an example of someone who shows us both Azor Ahai and Night’s King Symbolism. So let me quickly say thanks to George R. R. Martin for writing the novels, to John Walsh of the John Walsh Guitar YouTube channel for our theme music, and let’s all welcome back Martin Lewis who has once again given us his amazing vocal performances for the book quotes. Thanks to all of our Patreon supporters, who have gobbled up all the available zodiac slots and most of the guardian of the galaxy slots with their tremendous support, and as a result, I have created some new Patreon reward tiers. You can now join the Long Night’s Watch and be resurrected as a green zombie, you can become an Other and walk the woods as a cold white shadow, or you can even become the envy of every half-mad Targaryen and transform yourself into a dragon. Check out and click on the patreon tab, and as always that’s also the place to find the matching text to this podcast.

A Blue-Eyed King Raised a Red Sword

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I’ve been mentioning this curious mystery about Stannis in pretty much every Moons of Ice and Fire episode – why is this guy who’s running around with a burning sword and calling himself Azor Ahai reborn acting so much like Night’s King?  You guys are familiar with the basics: Stannis wields a burning sword he calls Lightbringer and did the little faux-Lightbringer forging ritual on Dragonstone, and of course, he’s straight-up named as Azor Ahai Reborn himself by Melisandre. Throughout the entire story, Stannis wears “a crown of red gold with points fashioned in the shape of flames,” and as we saw last time, he dreams of of a man he believes to be himself wearing a crown of actual fire. Both of these are clear allusions to the origin of the golden king’s crown as a symbol of the sun’s rays and of the king wielding the divine authority of the sun god.

As the story progresses, we also find Stannis focused on fighting the Others with a sincerity matched only by Jon Snow and the true brothers of the Night’s Watch, and all of this matches the myths of Azor Ahai as a warrior who fought against the dark.

Stannis Baratheon, by Ertaç Altınöz

On the other hand, Stannis is a rebel king who set himself up at the Wall (at least  according to everyone not loyal to Stannis), just as the Night’s King of legend set himself up as a rebel king at the Nightfort. Stannis, infamously, takes the Nightfort as his seat, just as Night’s King did, and just to make sure we notice the parallels. Legend says Night King’s was thrown down by the Stark of Winterfell and the original Joramun, the first King Beyond the Wall, or said another way, Night’s king was said to have warred against two people, the Lord of Winterfell and the King Beyond the Wall.  And so too does Stannis, though with better results so far. That’s right, Stannis first wars against Mance Raydar when he was King Beyond the Wall, and when last we left him, he was headed south to fight the temporary Lord of Winterfell, Ramsay Bolton.

Most importantly, and this was the subject of Moons of Ice and Fire 1, the succubus-like process by which Melisandre draws from Stannis’s life fires to make the black shadows with burning hearts that we like to call the shadowbabies seems to be a temperature- and color-inverted facsimile of Night’s Queen taking the seed and soul of Night’s King to make white shadow Others.

The most straightforward way to explain Stannis’s blend of Azor Ahai and Night’s King symbolism is that ‘Azor Ahai the guy with the burning sword’ is also Night’s King in some sense. And when I say “in some sense,” I mean of course that it could be a father / son or brother / brother relationship, or they may simply be of the same line and thus share the same archetype. I think the relationship must be very close though, or else it doesn’t make sense to show us characters who manifest both night’s King and Azor Ahai reborn symbolism.

Now, with all this in mind, let’s take a look at the first description of Stannis that we get in the books, from Cressen’s prologue chapter of ACOK:

There was a single chair in the room, carefully positioned in the precise place that Dragonstone occupied off the coast of Westeros, and raised up to give a good view of the tabletop. Seated in the chair was a man in a tight-laced leather jerkin and breeches of roughspun brown wool. When Maester Cressen entered, he glanced up. “I knew you would come, old man, whether I summoned you or no.” There was no hint of warmth in his voice; there seldom was.

Stannis Baratheon, Lord of Dragonstone and by the grace of the gods rightful heir to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, was broad of shoulder and sinewy of limb, with a tightness to his face and flesh that spoke of leather cured in the sun until it was as tough as steel. Hard was the word men used when they spoke of Stannis, and hard he was. Though he was not yet five-and-thirty, only a fringe of thin black hair remained on his head, circling behind his ears like the shadow of a crown. His brother, the late King Robert, had grown a beard in his final years. Maester Cressen had never seen it, but they said it was a wild thing, thick and fierce. As if in answer, Stannis kept his own whiskers cropped tight and short. They lay like a blue-black shadow across his square jaw and the bony hollows of his cheeks. His eyes were open wounds beneath his heavy brows, a blue as dark as the sea by night.

Despite his solar king status, his voice has no warmth, and despite the red gold crown of twisted flames he likes to wear, we can see here the implication of another crown – the shadow crown of the dark solar king, which is an inversion of the golden sun ray symbol. Stannis has a blue-black shadow on his face, and his eyes are a blue as dark as a sea by night – again, this is all implying darkness and night, and there’s a companion line a few chapters later when Stannis and Mel burn the Seven that says “Stannis watched impassively, his jaw hard as stone under the blue-black shadow of his tight-cropped beard.”

The description of Stannis’s blue eyes as open wounds implies blue blood, and blue blood reminds us of the Others. The combination of all this shadow talk with the color blue also reminds us of the Others, absolutely, and so we can see that Stannis’s Night King symbolism was there right from the beginning, even before Melisandre called him Azor Ahai reborn and had him draw a sword from the fire.

The other noticeable thing is the description of Stannis as hard; his skin is like steel and his jaw as hard as stone. I think the description of Stannis’s fake Lightbringer from ADWD actually encapsulates Stannis’s personal symbolism nicely:

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.

We know what it means for the sun to be made into steel – that’s when the moon drinks the fire of the sun gives birth to the sun’s fiery meteor sword children. Since those black Lightbringer meteor are the children of the sun and moon, they can be thought of a transformed or reborn sun, and thus, the sun made into steel and stone. This is why the “second sun / son” symbolic motif works so well – the Lightbringer meteors light up the sky like a second sun, and on a symbolic level, they represent the son of the sun. The sun made steel.

The description of the Red Temple in Volantis complements this idea perfectly:

Three blocks later the street opened up before them onto a huge torchlit plaza, and there it stood. Seven save me, that’s got to be three times the size of the Great Sept of Baelor. An enormity of pillars, steps, buttresses, bridges, domes, and towers flowing into one another as if they had all been chiseled from one colossal rock, the Temple of the Lord of Light loomed like Aegon’s High Hill. A hundred hues of red, yellow, gold, and orange met and melded in the temple walls, dissolving one into the other like clouds at sunset. Its slender towers twisted ever upward, frozen flames dancing as they reached for the sky. Fire turned to stone.

Fire turned to stone – it’s basically another way of saying “the sun made steel,” and obviously it makes sense to see these descriptions pinned on Stannis’s Lightbringer and the Red Temple, since those two things define a large part of who Stannis has become. Stannis is a reborn solar king turned hard as stone and steel – but as we’ve said many times, the reborn sun is a dark sun – the dark solar king figure. That’s who Stannis is. His incarnation of the archetype emphasizes the solar king’s turn towards darkness.

As we discussed at the beginning of the last episode, the dark sun or night sun symbolizes two related things: the dark, sunless sky, and the black moon meteors which brought the darkness of the Long Night. If the regular sun wields Lightbinger the comet as his sword, then the dark sun can be thought of as wielding the black moon meteors as his sword. But you can also think of black sun and black meteor as the same person, since sword and swordsman are one in the same.

In regards to Stannis, the symbolic descriptions of his being like stone and iron and steel basically make him the black meteor version of the dark, reborn sun. Imagine his crown of fire and shining sword as the ring of fire that engulfs a falling meteor, essentially. His shadow crown and the other shadow language, meanwhile, tells us the truth about the meteors as darkness bringers.

Something that we will learn today is that one of the main features of the combined Azor Ahai / Night’s King figures is that they tend to combine ice and fire symbolism, and Stannis certainly does this. We just saw that Stannis pairs the flaming sword and fiery crown symbols with blue blood and blue shadow symbols that remind us of the Others, and then we have Dany’s vision of Stannis from the House of the Undying:

Glowing like sunset, a red sword was raised in the hand of a blue-eyed king who cast no shadow.

Glowing red swords and red  sunsets are recognizable Azor Ahai symbols, while blue eyes can only remind us of the Others. And yes, Stannis’s eyes are a natural blue, but people’s appearances in dreams and visions are usually defined by their personal symbolism. The blue-eyed king with a red sword is a kind of archetype, and it is vaguely suggestive of an Other wielding Lightbringer. It might compare to Jon dreaming of being armored in black ice with a sword that burns red. Both visions combine ice and fire in a tantalizing way that we don’t quite understand yet. But we will certainly try to figure it out!

Whatever it means, we can at least see that once again, Stannis likes to pair Azor Ahai / dark solar king symbolism (sunset and the red sword) with Night’s King / Other symbolism (blue eyes, ‘shadowless’ from creating magical shadow children), and again I will say that I think the reason is that it was the guy with the burning red sword whom we think of as Azor Ahai who was also responsible for creating the Others.

Now, ask yourself, does Stannis do anything that might symbolize the creation of the Others?

Well, as we’ve said many times, his creation of the shadowbabies with Mel is a temperature and color-inverted version of making the Others. But if you’ve read the Weirwood Compendium series, you know that there is at least one more depiction of Stannis making the Others. It happens during the Battle for Deepwood Motte, when Stannis attacks Asha’s Ironborn with the warriors of the Mountain Clans of the North. Those mountain clan warriors dressed up like trees, and this caused Asha to serve up the all important line about the “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.” This is a legend which might be part of the origin story of the Others, one which refers to the weirwood / children of the forest part of the equation of creating Others, as we’ve mentioned before.

When Asha encountered her final Northmen, his axe “shivered” her shield, if you recall, as if the axe were made of ice. That Northman turned out to be Morgan Liddle, whose house sigil is a green treeline on a snow white background with three pine cones. The sigil’s combination of snow and trees complements the idea of “turning the trees into warriors” as a description of making the Others, since it associates Morgan of the chilly axe with both trees and snow. Taken together, the impression is created that Stannis has turned the trees into cold northern warriors, like the Night King creating the Others. These cold northern tree-warriors fight for the blue-eyed king with the red sword, sending us the message that is was indeed Azor Ahai who played a part in the creation of the Others.

Alright, now let’s have a look at Stannis’s lunar queens of ice and fire, and it’s not hard to tell who is who. Naturally, Melisandre serves as his fire moon queen, which makes Selyse his ice moon queen, and indeed, the symbolism agrees with this. The following line is from Asha’s ADWD chapter titled “The King’s Prize:

Asha would have called them king’s men, but the other stormlanders and crownlands men named them queen’s men … though the queen they followed was the red one at Castle Black, not the wife that Stannis Baratheon had left behind at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.

Melisandre is Stannis’s red queen – that seems straightforward. And there’s a matching passage from Jon Snow in ADWD:

Lady Melisandre wore no crown, but every man there knew that she was Stannis Baratheon’s real queen, not the homely woman he had left to shiver at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. Talk was, the king did not mean to send for Queen Selyse and their daughter until the Nightfort was ready for habitation. Jon felt sorry for them. The Wall offered few of the comforts that southron ladies and little highborn girls were used to, and the Nightfort offered none. That was a grim place, even at the best of times.

As you can see here, Stannis is thought of as having two queens, and Mel is the red one who is obviously associated with fire. As I mentioned, Selyse is not happy being left behind to “shiver” at Eastwatch and wants to move on to the Nightfort, Stannis’s official seat, as quickly as she can. That’s a good start for Selyse’s icy Night’s Queen symbolism, and of course it goes further.

The sigil of House Florent, which is the House of Selyse’s birth, is certainly noteworthy: “A red fox in a circle of blue flowers on ermine.” Blue flowers obviously remind us of Lyanna’s blue winter roses, and they are even in a ring or crown shape like Lyanna’s blue rose crown, helping to reinforce the identification of Selyse as Stannis’s ice moon queen. We also notice that it’s a circle of a dozen blue flowers, to be specific, representing, perhaps, the first group of 12 Others? The red fox would be for the Night’s King Azor Ahai (Stannis in this case), since red and black are the colors of Azor Ahai and the black dragon archetype. Consider this to be like when Rhaegar had Lyanna’s wreath of blue roses on the end of his black lance… it’s the same image, except swapping black for red. One blue rose crown is penetrated by a red fox, one by a black lance, in other words.

In ADWD, when the wildlings come through the Wall, there is a feast and a bit of a dance breaks out. I think this is one of those occasions where George is slyly making  a double entendre of the word “others” to talk about the white walkers. Check it out, see what you think:

Between courses, Ser Axell Florent led Queen Selyse out onto the floor to dance. Others followed—the queen’s knights first, partnered with her ladies. Ser Brus gave Princess Shireen her first dance, then took a turn with her mother. Ser Narbert danced with each of Selyse’s lady companions in turn.

Ice Queen Selyse goes on to the floor to dance, and “others followed,” those others being her knights. A moment later, Axel Florent is pressing Jon about the whereabouts of Val, as this is the period of time when she is gone, north of the Wall.

Florent’s face grew flushed with anger. “So it is true. You mean to keep her for yourself, I see it now. The bastard wants his father’s seat.”

The bastard refused his father’s seat. If the bastard had wanted Val, all he had to do was ask for her. “You must excuse me, ser,” he said. “I need a breath of fresh air.” It stinks in here. His head turned. “That was a horn.”

Others had heard it too. The music and the laughter died at once. Dancers froze in place, listening. Even Ghost pricked up his ears. “Did you hear that?” Queen Selyse asked her knights.

Others heard it too – the dancers that froze in place, that is. Recall the dancing language is used when Ser Waymar fights the Others in the prologue of AGOT. That horn blast is the one which heralds the return of Val, who as we are about to see is another ice queen (spoiler alert), so naturally it makes everyone freeze.

The point is that Selyse’s knights should stand in for the Others, so the potential “others” double entendres here are highly suspicious. The fact that her “Queen’s Men” worship R’hllor, but are ‘the others’ who ‘froze in place,’ might be intended as a clue about the Others having a fiery heritage, as I have been suggesting.

In ACOK, when Axell Florent’s brother Alester is imprisoned beneath Dragonstone, he asks for the help of ice queen Selyse and the Others in the same breath, and we get more clues about the symbolism of House Florent:

“Axell,” the prisoner said desperately, “for the love you bear me, unhand me! You cannot do this, I’m no traitor.” He was an older man, tall and slender, with silvery grey hair, a pointed beard, and a long elegant face twisted in fear. “Where is Selyse, where is the queen? I demand to see her. The Others take you all! Release me!”  

The long, elegant silvery-grey Alester Florent of the dozen blue flowers sigil is asking for the ice queen to save him, and then, failing that, he’s asking the Others to strike down his enemies. That actually makes perfect sense, according to our theory about the icy Corpse Queen making the Others.

When Jon and Val go to see Seylse in her temporary chambers at Castle Black, Jon notes the commander of Selyse’s guard:

Commanding them was Ser Patrek of King’s Mountain, clad in his knightly raiment of white and blue and silver, his cloak a spatter of five-pointed stars.

Ser Patrek is apparently symbolizing an Other, with his white and blue and silver coloring – the three colors of the ice moon, essentially – and his blue star decorations. They are even “spattered,” like blood – blue blood, that would be, like the Others have.  That means that his standing guard outside of Selyse’s chambers is roughly equivalent to the Kingsguard outside the Tower of Joy, guarding their ice moon queen Lyanna. Ser Patrek is immediately besotted with Val, which is understandable, as she is, like Selyse, a Night’s Queen figure. Check the next lines about this:

 When presented to Val, the knight sank to one knee to kiss her glove. “You are even lovelier than I was told, princess,” he declared. “The queen has told me much and more of your beauty.” 

“How odd, when she has never seen me.” Val patted Ser Patrek on the head. “Up with you now, ser kneeler. Up, up.” She sounded as if she were talking to a dog.

The Others are something like the dogs of the Night’s Queen – perhaps the wolves of the Night’s Queen is more apt – and so Val is treating this Other-like knight as her dog, to hilarious effect. Jon has to try hard not to laugh, as a matter of fact.

Anyway, that’s the deal with Stannis’s two queens, Melisandre and Selyse. One is very hot, and one very cold. Stannis himself is a dark solar king, showing us both Azor Ahai reborn and Night’s King symbolism, and he fits the pattern of a solar king with lunar queens of ice and fire. He wields Lightbringer and creates the Others in different symbolic ways. He starts of ruling at Dragonstone, symbol of the fire moon and former seat of dragonlords, then later takes the Nightfort as his seat, the first castle on the Wall whose oldest history is the story of Night’s King.

Based on what we have learned of how Martin uses his archetypes and how he creates echoes of the past in the characters and events of the present, Stannis’s symbolism seems to be leading us toward the conclusion that there is some serious overlap between Night’s King and Azor Ahai, particularly the death-associated, post-transformation Azor Ahai.  That’s the same conclusion we drew from the parallels between Aegon the Conqueror and Night’s King, and we’re only going to find more evidence for this as we go. That’s especially true with our next Azor Ahai reborn / Night’s King figure, who is literally a blood of the dragon person.

Mayhaps His Name Was Azor

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Now before you throw down your headphones and say “the Night’s King was a Stark! Mayhaps his name was Brandon, you idiot!” …yes, I agree. I suspect that just as Jon is both Stark and blood of the dragon, so was the Night King. Even Stannis has a little dragon blood, for that matter, and in fact, if we consider further, House Baratheon was formed when a blood of the dragon person from Valyria, Aegon’s probably bastard brother Orys Baratheon, joined up with a First Man house from the Dawn Age, that of Durrandon. The Starks may a similar tale, one that combines the blood of the dragon with the blood of the ancient First Men.

Just like Stannis, Jon is a dark solar king (black was always his color) who combines the symbolism of Azor Ahai and Night’s King, and he too has a pair of symbolic lunar wives of ice and fire. We’re going to consider Jon as the product of Rhaegar and Lyanna in the next episode, but right now we are just going to think about Jon on his own.

First off, Jon’s Azor Ahai reborn bona fides are well established in what has come to be called his “Azor Ahai dream” from ADWD:

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

It’s not just the simple fact that he dreams of wielding a burning red sword; it’s the fact that he dreams about slaying his love Ygitte with that burning sword; about being a Night’s Watchman defending the Wall with that burning red sword, and defending it against foes who need to be killed “again” (like the wights) and who “scuttle up the ice like spiders” like Others climbing the Wall with their ice spiders. When a guy with a hero’s journey arc like Jon dreams of something like this, I think you can take it at face value: it’s an indication of Jon’s destiny as one of the primary heroes of the story, and more specifically, that he’s the mostly likely candidate to wield a true Lightbringer sword before the story is over, if anyone is.

Then we have the clue about Melisandre seeking glimpses of Azor Ahai reborn in her fires – thinking that that is Stannis – but seeing only Jon Snow instead. It’s a pretty clear hint to Melisandre (and us readers) that Jon Snow is indeed R’hllor’s chosen, Azor Ahai reborn. As always, I’ll add the caveat that the same applies to Dany of course, as I see them as the two most important Azor Ahai reborn people in the story. Maester Aemon seems to sense it about Jon as well, encouraging Jon to read the passages of Colloquo Votar’s Jade Compendium which speak of Azor Ahai.

Prophecy aside, there’s the simple reality that Jon is the number one person concerned with stopping the Others and fighting the Long Night. Whatever you think of prophecies, visions, and the hunches of old blind men, Jon is simply the man in charge of the Wall and the Watch… at least he was until he was murdered by his brothers.

We haven’t seen Jon’s resurrection in the books yet, but you can be sure it’s going to be packed with Azor Ahai reborn symbolism. That’s one of those scenes from Winds of Winter which we mythical astronomers will be extra jazzed to read, knowing what kinds of things to look for. I bet as you read it, you’ll be hearing my voice in the back of your head… “oh, there’s the burning black blood to indicate fire transformation, and there’s the second sun symbolism…” that sort of thing.

As for Jon playing the Night’s King role, well, he’s the Lord Commander of the Watch, which is a good start, and he arguably breaks many of his vows throughout his plot arc – specifically the one about not taking a wife (and please don’t disrespect Ygritte’s memory by saying Jon didn’t take her as a wife, because he did). Yes, that’s right, Jon and Night’s King are both commanders who are notoriously bad at not falling in love with women they find north of the Wall. As Jon muses to himself in ACOK, “It was easy to lose your way beyond the Wall. Jon did not know that he could tell honor from shame anymore, or right from wrong.”

Cersei also declares Jon a rebel to the throne, and although that’s obviously a political move on Cersei’s part, it still matches the Night’s King story of a rebellious Lord Commander of the Watch. And if you ask the mutineers who killed Jon, he was breaking the vows in spirit by letting the wildlings through the Wall and by planning to take them to attack Winterfell.

Moving right along, we know that Night’s King made white shadows with Night’s Queen; Aegon the Conqueror was followed around by his white shadow kingsguard which Visenya made for him; and Jon too is followed around by a white shadow – his direwolf Ghost, who is called a “white shadow” or “pale shadow” on several occasions. Ghost has some important differences from the Others – notably, red eyes and not blue – but he is nevertheless a white shadow guardian of Jon the black-clad solar king. That’s a match for Night’s King as well as Aegon and Rhaegar and all the other Targaryen kings, all of whom liked to be surrounded by white shadows.

Jon’s Night King symbolism really kicks into gear in this passage from ASOS when Jon is sent North of the Wall against his will to try to kill Mance Raydar:

The wind was blowing wild from the east, so strong the heavy cage would rock whenever a gust got it in its teeth. It skirled along the Wall, shivering off the ice, making Jon’s cloak flap against the bars. The sky was slate grey, the sun no more than a faint patch of brightness behind the clouds. Across the killing ground, he could see the glimmer of a thousand campfires burning, but their lights seemed small and powerless against such gloom and cold.

A grim day. Jon Snow wrapped gloved hands around the bars and held tight as the wind hammered at the cage once more. When he looked straight down past his feet, the ground was lost in shadow, as if he were being lowered into some bottomless pit. Well, death is a bottomless pit of sorts, he reflected, and when this day’s work is done my name will be shadowed forever.

Bastard children were born from lust and lies, men said; their nature was wanton and treacherous. Once Jon had meant to prove them wrong, to show his lord father that he could be as good and true a son as Robb. I made a botch of that. Robb had become a hero king; if Jon was remembered at all, it would be as a turncloak, an oathbreaker, and a murderer. He was glad that Lord Eddard was not alive to see his shame.

Turncloak, oathbreaker, murderer, wanton and treacherous, name forever shadowed: this could be the Night’s King we are talking about as Jon is lowered into the abyss. His inner monologue of shame and regret may have even fit well in the mouth of Night’s King at some point.

As for Jon’s brother Robb, not only is he a hero king, he is specifically the King in the North / King of Winter. Once again I will remind you that according to legend, Night’s King also had a brother who was the King of Winter, Brandon the Breaker, one of the two men who brought down Night’s King. I would say it could just as easily be a father / son relationship between Night’s King and Brandon the Breaker as brother / brother, but the safe bet is that there is some sort of blood relation there, and the point is that having a brother who is a Stark King is another parallel between Jon and Night’s King.

The other person to help throw down Night’s King was of course Joramun the King Beyond the Wall, and the person Jon is on his way to try to murder while he thinks of his brother the King in the North is.. Mance Raydar, the King Beyond the Wall. Mance, incidentally, is a bit of father figure to Jon for a time, and famously shares some amount of symbolism with Rhaegar, Jon’s biological father. Down, tinfoil, down. Shush. Sit.

Actually, there’s an even more clear match to the Night’s King myth than that – Jon does the same thing as Stannis in that he actually fights or plans to fight both the King Beyond the Wall and the Lord of Winterfell. In ASOS, Jon is among those leading the defense of the Wall against the wildling army of King Beyond the Wall Mance Raydar. This is where he is first told “the Wall is yours, Jon Snow” by Aemon Targaryen, in fact, so even though he isn’t Lord Commander yet, he’s effectively the acting Lord Commander during this battle against the King Beyond the Wall, who, by the way, claims to have the same horn that Joramun carried.

As for fighting the Lord of Winterfell, well, you will probably remember that right before he was mutinied, Jon was trying to lead a force against Winterfell and the impostor King in the North, Ramsay Bolton, as Stannis did before him – so there you go. During his ‘armored in black ice / Azor Ahai dream,’ Jon also sees himself decapitating Robb and declaring himself the Lord of Winterfell, which again places Jon as a Night’s Watch commander warring against the Stark in Winterfell.

Now, check out this angle. Of Night’s King it is said that “with strange sorceries he bound his Sworn Brothers to his will,” so we have to think, does this apply to Jon, or Stannis for that matter? Well, ask yourself, do either of them use any kind of magic to win the loyalty of their followers?

Actually… yes, they both do, although neither is, you know, using mind control or something like the myth seems to imply. However, Stannis is quite obviously using magic to not only impress, but to motivate his followers, who see his struggle for the throne as an existential one where the ultimate players are gods and demons and the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Stannis, with his magic sword and magic red priestess, has convinced his followers that he is not only the rightful king and a good commander and all that, but that he is in fact the “Lord’s chosen,” the man to fight the darkness and the Others with a magic sword, and even dragons, if they could just perform the right kind of horrible blood magic sacrifice to wake them from stone.

As you can see, Stannis could certainly be said to using sorcery to bind his followers to him and to establish his authority. Then we have Jon, who won the election for Lord Commander when a talking raven flew out of a kettle and landed on his shoulder and basically declared him the winner. Everyone knows he’s a warg, and wise rangers like Qhorin Halfhand and Lord Commander Mormont are quick to encourage or even make use of Jon’s gifts. He’s a warg descended of an ancient, magical bloodline with a giant magical white wolf and a magical black sword – don’t forget all Valyrian steel swords are made with sorcery and are therefore ‘magic swords’ –  and you better believe all of that plays into everyone else looking at Jon as the logical one to lead the watch.

So, it’s somewhat similar in both cases, though Stannis is more obvious – both Jon and Stannis use magical powers and magical artifacts to establish their authority. This is certainly the kind of thing that could, hundreds and even a few thousand years later, be remembered in myth as “binding their brothers to their will with strange sorceries.”

Alright, so let’s talk about Jon’s ladies, the lunar queens. As a proper solar king, dark though he may be, Jon does have two lady loves that fit the love triangles of ice and fire pattern. The fire moon bride would be Ygritte of course, with her kissed by fire hair and tragic death via an arrow to the heart, which is similar to Nissa Nissa taking Lightbringer to the heart, and you’ll recall that although it wasn’t Jon’s arrow that killed her, in his nightmares it was. Of course I just mentioned that Jon kills her with a flaming red sword in his Azor Ahai dream, reinforcing the message.

You will also recall the scene in the Frostfangs from ACOK where Jon first met Ygritte; her campfire with the wildlings in the pass looked like a “red star” to Jon and company at the base of the mountain. When he climbed to meet the red star, he did a bunch of Lightbringer forging stuff with Ygritte; namely, he came very close to executing her with Longclaw, but instead did something that was later interpreted as stealing Ygritte and thus implying his intent to marry or partner with her. That’s the sex and swordplay dual-edged Lightbringer motif that we have been pointing out since episode one, so I assume everyone is well familiar with it.

We’re actually going to talk a bit more about Ygritte’s death in the future when we are thinking about weirwoods again, but for now we can stick with only a brief mention of her as we have covered her several times before. She is Jon’s first love, she’s only described as kissed by fire a thousand and one times, and she is Jon’s fire moon queen.

Jon’s ice moon bride is not as obvious, but consider that when Stannis offers Jon the chance to become legitimized as Jon Stark, Lord of Winterfell, he is offered Val’s hand in marriage. And Val is an obvious winter queen, as we see in ADWD:

Then Ghost emerged from between two trees, with Val beside him.

They look as though they belong together. Val was clad all in white; white woolen breeches tucked into high boots of bleached white leather, white bearskin cloak pinned at the shoulder with a carved weirwood face, white tunic with bone fastenings. Her breath was white as well … but her eyes were blue, her long braid the color of dark honey, her cheeks flushed red from the cold. It had been a long while since Jon Snow had seen a sight so lovely.

“Have you been trying to steal my wolf?” he asked her.

Jon just asked Val the ice moon queen if she was trying to steal his ghost – his wolf is named Ghost after all. That’s a very Night’s Queen sort of thing to do, since it is said that Night’s King gave her his soul when he gave her his seed. I don’t know about you, but I thought that was a really clever one by George.

Val really does make for a stunning ice queen – she has blue eyes, and the rest of her is white except for her hair, including the white polar bear skin she wears. The weirwood broach is a nice touch, and seems a clue about Night’s Queen and weirwood magic, which I definitely think is a thing.

Consider what’s happening here: Jon is the Lord Commander, as Night’s King was, and although Jon didn’t spy Val from atop the Wall, he is standing right in front of the Wall when he sees this lovely, pale woman with blue eyes who might have designs on stealing his ghost. That’s a pretty good Night’s King reenactment!

Now that last description of Val came when she was returning from a journey to find Tormund and the surviving Wildlings from the battle with Stannis north of the Wall, and when she sets out on that journey a couple of weeks earlier, there is more icy moon maiden symbolism, and preceded by a mention of an ice dragon!

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. Spearmen at each gate knuckled their foreheads at Jon Snow but stared openly at Val and her garron.

When they emerged north of the Wall, through a thick door made of freshly hewn green wood, the wildling princess paused for a moment to gaze out across the snow-covered field where King Stannis had won his battle. Beyond, the haunted forest waited, dark and silent. The light of the half-moon turned Val’s honey-blond hair a pale silver and left her cheeks as white as snow. She took a deep breath. “The air tastes sweet.”

“My tongue is too numb to tell. All I can taste is cold.”

“Cold?” Val laughed lightly. “No. When it is cold it will hurt to breathe. When the Others come …”

Night’s Queen had “skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars,” and also “skin as cold as ice.” Shuffle the words around ever so slightly, and we have these descriptions of Val, whose cheeks are white as snow in the moonlight. Both ladies have skin compared the moon and to snow and ice, in other words, and Val even talks about the Others in this scene – and only a few lines after the mention of the ice dragon in Jon’s inner monologue, no less! The implication of Val being impervious to cold is interesting, and it continues a few lines later as Val rides off. This is Dolorous Edd speaking:

“I don’t care what she says,” muttered Dolorous Edd, as Val vanished behind a stand of soldier pines. “The air is so cold it hurts to breathe. I would stop, but that would hurt worse.” He rubbed his hands together. “This is going to end badly.”

‘So cold it hurts to breathe’ is the signature language of the presence of the Others. Val uses the phrase here to describe the presence of the Others, that phrase is used when Sam and Gilly are attacked by wights, and Tormund uses it to describe fighting the Others, which he says is like fighting “Shadows with teeth… air so cold it hurts to breathe, like a knife inside your chest..” Edd is saying it is already this cold, and that this portends Val failing in her mission, but Val is unperturbed and in fact returns successful from the mission. She’s less affected by the cold than the rangers, and she also seems to be able to wander the Haunted Forest and the lands beyond the Wall with relative ease and safety, that’s kind of the picture being painted here.

Now if you’re picking up on the patterns here, you might see that Jon has this excellent winter queen / Night’s Queen figure in Val and wonder, “does Jon do anything with Val that symbolizes the creation of the Others, like Stannis does with the Northmen dressed like trees in the Wolfswood?” Oh man. Boy does he ever. It’s pretty well hidden, so don’t feel bad if it’s not leaping to mind…  …alright I’ll tell you.

So Val has these two scenes playing the Night’s Queen role, both revolving around this deal Jon wants to make with the wildlings to let them through the Wall. The thing is… when these wildlings actually do come through the Wall, there is a megaton of symbolism implying some of the wildlings  as the Others. I mean, it’s actually really over the top – just the way we like it. First, Jon observes the hostages – 100 boys between eight and sixteen:

The boys were going to a place that none had ever been before, to serve an order that had been the enemy of their kith and kin for thousands of years, yet Jon saw no tears, heard no wailing mothers. These are winter’s people, he reminded himself. Tears freeze upon your cheeks where they come from. Not a single hostage balked or tried to slink away when his turn came to enter that gloomy tunnel. Almost all the boys were thin, some past the point of gauntness, with spindly shanks and arms like twigs.

Alright, so winter’s people, with frozen tears and no fear. We see the trees-turned-into-Others motif as winter’s people have “spindly shanks and arms like twigs.” Then begins the parade of double entendres with the word “other”:

Other lads had bear- paws on their boots and walked on top of the same drifts, never sinking through the crust.

That part about not sinking through the crust of the snow is noteworthy because, as Coldhands says, “The white walkers go lightly on the snow, you’ll find no prints to mark their passage.” We’ll see this again in a moment.

Other hostages were named as sons of Howd Wanderer, of Brogg, of Devyn Sealskinner, Kyleg of the Wooden Ear, Morna White Mask, the Great Walrus … “The Great Walrus? Truly?” 

“They have queer names along the Frozen Shore.” 

The other hostages were from the frozen shore, and TWOIAF tells us that the wildlings of the frozen shore worship “gods of snow and ice,” which sounds like white walker worship, perhaps along the lines of what we see with Craster. Thus it makes sense to label their children as ‘Others,’ just as the Craster’s wives call the Others Craster’s Sons. Notice also that these are the sons of at least two people with names that allude to weirwoods or tree-people: Morna Whitemask, who wears a white weirwood mask, and Kyleg of the Wooden Ear, with a wooden ear kind of implying a wooden face. We actually see the rest of the folk from the Frozen Shore a moment later, and again we have an others double entendre:

After the riders came the men of the Frozen Shore. Jon watched a dozen of their big bone chariots roll past him one by one, clattering like Rattleshirt. Half still rolled as before; others had replaced their wheels with runners. They slid across the snowdrifts smoothly, where the wheeled chariots were foundering and sinking. The dogs that drew the chariots were fearsome beasts, as big as direwolves.

Once again we see it is the chariots labelled as the others which go lightly on the snow, without breaking the surface, like the Others. The implication of direwolves pulling the chariots of the Others is pretty cool, perhaps implying a link between Starks and the Others, which is like, tell me something I don’t know, right? I’ll also mention that Rattleshirt, whom the bone chariots are compared to, seems to symbolize a white walker himself, and one of the people he’s with when Jon meets him threatens to make a cloak out of Jon’s white shadow wolf, just so, you know, he can dress us like a white shadow for Halloween.

The next Others wordplay again mentions Rattleshirt:

A few were clad in stolen steel, dinted oddments of armor looted from the corpses of fallen rangers. Others had armored themselves in bones, like Rattleshirt. All wore fur and leather.

This is all from the same chapter, let me remind you. The next one is, frankly, disturbing:

Amongst the stream of warriors were the fathers of many of Jon’s hostages. Some stared with cold dead eyes as they went by, fingering their sword hilts. Others smiled at him like long- lost kin, though a few of those smiles discomfited Jon Snow more than any glare. None knelt, but many gave him their oaths.

Weird, Jon and the Others are long-lost kin? Well, yeah, if there is any sort of connection between House Stark and the Others, then yes, Jon and the Others are like long lost kin. In fact I’d call this line a pretty good clue about the others having a blood tie to House Stark… and we are going to do an entire episode on how I think that happened very soon, as a matter of fact, so start getting hyped for that.

If you’re keeping count, that’s five ‘Other’ double entendres with strong supporting clues around them. Here are number 6 and 7:

By afternoon the sun had gone, and the day turned grey and gusty. “A snow sky,” Tormund announced grimly. Others had seen the same omen in those flat white clouds. It seemed to spur them on to haste. Tempers began to fray. One man was stabbed when he tried to slip in ahead of others who had been hours in the column. Toregg wrenched the knife away from his attacker, dragged both men from the press, and sent them back to the wildling camp to start again.

The second others line – One man was stabbed when he tried to slip in ahead of others – simply labels the wildlings in line as the symbolizing the Others, which we have already established anyway. The first one is especially creepy – while Jon and Tormund are looking at a “snow sky,” we are told that “Others had seen the same omen in those flat white clouds.” You bet the Others see a snow sky as a time to attack! There might be a clue about Jon’s birth triggering the awakening of the Others – they see a grey “snow sky” as an omen which spurs them on to haste. Well, relative haste. Like hasty for a glacier. Anyway.

Snow sky aside, just think about what we are seeing here: Jon Snow making a deal through Val the Night’s Queen that enabled all these symbolic Others to pass through the Wall! And isn’t that what I am claiming about the Night’s King and Queen? Not only that they made Others, but they made the Others that invaded during the Long Night, the ones who white-walked all over the armies of men like we are told.

I believe that is the importance of this unbelievable Others wordplay in this chapter: Jon is the rebellious Lord Commander Night’s King, and through a pact negotiated with a Night’s Queen figure, he has facilitated the Others’ invasion of the lands of the living. Not only that, but Martin specifically set up Val as Jon’s Night’s Queen in the two scenes that lead up to this one where Jon lets the Other-like wildlings pass the Wall, and he had Val be the one that Jon gives his offer to.

Alright! I bet you didn’t expect Jon and Val’s symbolism to run that deep, did you? Well neither did I! You never know what you’ll find when you go digging into ASOIAF symbolism. In this case, we found more evidence for our theory about the Night’s King and Queen making Others during the Long Night, which is nice.

Just to sort of put a bow on Jon’s two lunar ladies, here’s a nice passage where Jon compares them to one another:

The outside air seemed even colder than before. Across the castle, he could see candlelight shining from the windows of the King’s Tower. Val stood on the tower roof, gazing up at the Wall. Stannis kept her closely penned in rooms above his own, but he did allow her to walk the battlements for exercise. She looks lonely, Jon thought. Lonely, and lovely. Ygritte had been pretty in her own way, with her red hair kissed by fire, but it was her smile that made her face come alive. Val did not need to smile; she would have turned men’s heads in any court in the wide world.

There you have it, Jon’s two queens. It’s especially cool to see ice queen Val staring up at the Wall, since the Wall is, like Val, an analog of the ice moon. Notice also the theme of Val being locked away in a castle at the Wall by a Night’s King – Stannis in this scene, and earlier Axell Florent accused Jon of locking Val away for his own purposes. Remember the words of the Night’s King legend: “fearing nothing, he chased her and caught her and loved her,” and then “brought her back to the Nightfort and proclaimed her a queen.” That is absolutely what happens with Val – she is taken captive by Stannis and declared “the wildling princess” by Stannis’s men, even though the wildlings don’t have anything resembling Westerosi concepts of royalty and Jon thinks to himself that he told Stannis half a hundred times that she wasn’t a princess. They even slap a bronze crown on Val’s head! The line is “They had crowned her with a simple circlet of dark bronze, yet she looked more regal in bronze than Stannis did in gold.” Stannis quite literally took her captive and declared her a princess, which is very close to declaring her a queen.

Alright, so I think you can see that Jon, like Stannis, has distinct lunar queens of ice and fire. Like Stannis, Jon has some pretty outstanding Night’s King parallels, and he’s combining those with trademark flaming sword Azor Ahai reborn symbolism. As I pointed out in Bloodstone Compendium 2, the Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai, Jon also has several clear parallels to the Bloodstone Emperor myth, and that too sends us the same message: the Bloodstone Emperor, Night’s King, and the reborn version of Azor Ahai are all part of one archetype, the dark solar king, and this is why we see all of them expressed in Jon.

Let’s wrap us this Jon as Night’s King section by talking about the mythical astronomy of Night’s King for a moment. Like I said at the top, the dark solar king has two components: the eclipsed and darkened sun, and the black meteors which are like the dark sun’s sword or seed or child. Jon and Stannis, as very important dark solar king / Night’s King figures, play both of these roles. In the Stannis section, we saw that Stannis described as stone and hard rock several times (and there are more I didn’t list), which is Stannis playing the role of the black meteors. Jon does this too, as we’ll see in a minute, but first check out this awesome passage from Melisandre which compares Stannis and Jon to each other as eclipsed people standing in someone else’s shadow – just like the sun was eclipsed to start the Long Night:

They crossed the yard together, just the two of them. The snow fell all around them. She walked as close to Jon Snow as she dared, close enough to feel the mistrust pouring off him like a black fog. He does not love me, will never love me, but he will make use of me. Well and good. Melisandre had danced the same dance with Stannis Baratheon, back in the beginning. In truth, the young lord commander and her king had more in common than either one would ever be willing to admit. Stannis had been a younger son living in the shadow of his elder brother, just as Jon Snow, bastard-born, had always been eclipsed by his trueborn sibling, the fallen hero men had called the Young Wolf. Both men were unbelievers by nature, mistrustful, suspicious. The only gods they truly worshiped were honor and duty.

It’s fun to think about Jon walking around with black fog just rolling off of him and following him around, like a black ice version of the white mist that follows the Others… but the serious point to make here is that Jon and Stannis are both eclipsed, shadowed people. They are both solar kings, but their symbolism is telling us about the eclipsed sun, the darkened sun of the Long Night.

Also notable is the fact that Melisandre is looking to form the same sort of relationship with Jon she has with Stannis, and in another scene, suggests making a shadowbaby with Jon. That’s Night’s Queen, succubus behavior, and it again places Jon in the Night’s King role. In that scene where she propositions Jon, the light of the moon kisses Jon and casts his shadow huge and black against the ice. Casting shadows and making shadowbabies with a sorceress at the Wall? That’s a definite Night’s King parallel, and we will break down those scenes at the Wall with Jon and Mel in more detail in the RLJ episode.

Alright, so Stannis and Jon are both eclipsed solar kings. Stannis’s stone and iron descriptions show us Stannis as meteor, and Jon has something similar going on. Meteors can be referred to as the hearts of fallen stars, and course meteorites can be thought of a stones, so it’s interesting to see that Sam actually implies a connection between Jon and Lady Stoneheart in this line from AFFC:

He could not blame Gilly for her grief. Instead, he blamed Jon Snow and wondered when Jon’s heart had turned to stone. Once he asked Maester Aemon that very question, when Gilly was down at the canal fetching water for them. “When you raised him up to be the lord commander,” the old man answered.

Perhaps it’s just a turn of phrase to indicate Jon’ hardening himself for command with no double meaning, but comparing Jon to Stoneheart does make a lot sense if Jon is to resurrected via fire magic. Catelyn has bone-white hair and eyes like “two red pits burning in the shadows,” and that’s just how I think Jon might come out of his resurrection – white hair and red eyes, bone and blood, the coloring of his wolf and of the weirwoods.White hair would also make him look more like a Targaryen, too.

Burning stone hearts are also potential meteor-talk, as I mentioned, however it’s not stone Jon is most often compared to, but dragonglass. It happens several times, most notably in ASOS when Stannis tells Jon

“You may lack your father’s honor, or your brother’s skill in arms. But you are the weapon the Lord has given me. I have found you here, as you found the cache of dragonglass beneath the Fist, and I mean to make use of you. Even Azor Ahai did not win his war alone.”

So not only is Jon compared to a dragonglass knife, he’s made analogous to a weapon that should be used in the fight against the Others by a would-be Azor Ahai figure. In this scene, Stannis plays the part of the dark sun, with Jon as the dark sun’s black meteor sword, but as I said sword and swordsman are both part of the same “dark solar king” figure, so what we have is two dark solar kings forming like Voltron to create the entire picture.

This is going to important when we get to the RLJ: A Recipie for Making Ice Dragons episode, which is all about the dragon locked in ice motif. The Night’s King is like that black fire moon meteor dragon flying away from the explosion that darkened the sun – specifically, it’s the one which strikes the ice moon and embeds itself in the ice, or you might say that it impregnates the ice moon, since the ice moon is analogous to the Night’s Queen. As I mentioned in Dawn of the Others, this black meteor dragon impacting the ice moon is what creates ice moon meteors – which are analogous to the Others – just as the Night’s King giving his seed to Night’s Queen created the real Others.

That’s why Night’s King people like Stannis and Jon are often described in language that suggests them as stone, steel, dragonglass, and as knives or swords, all of which end up frozen or lodged in ice somehow: it’s a symbol of Night’s King giving his seed to Night’s Queen. That, I believe, is the explanation for Martin describing Stannis with all the blue shadow and blue-black language when we first see him; it reflects the reborn dark solar king being frozen. Jon expresses this in many ways, such as by being armored in black ice in his Azor Ahai dream, by going to live at the Wall at the very beginning of the story, or by his appearance in Bran’s coma dream flyby of the known world, which ends with Jon, the Wall, and then the Heart of Winter:

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.

Even Robert and Ned’s famous AGOT clue about Jon’s royal heritage – “kings are a rare sight in the north” / “more likely they were hiding under the snow” – places Jon as a dragon king hidden under the snow. This is the dragon locked in ice motif, and it runs through Jon’s entire storyline.

I said at the beginning that the Night’s King figures have some sort of ice and fire unity thing going on, and now you can start to see what that means: he’s a fiery guy who gave his soul to an icy sorceress and became a bit frozen in the process.

Dancing Dragons Teach Astronomy

This section is sponsored by Queen Cameron, lady of the twilight, keeper of the astral cats, earthly avatar of Heavenly House Aries, and by Ash Rose, Queen of Sevens, Mistress of Mythology, earthly avatar of Heavenly House Taurus

Our search for more Night’s King figures and more love triangles of ice and fire leads us to a peculiar place: hundreds of feet above the ground, and in great peril. Yes, that’s right, it’s time for another dragon-on-dragon battle from the Targaryen civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons. These things are always full of mythical astronomy, and I try to slip them in when it fits the topic of discussion. This dragon fight will support the general two moons hypothesis by giving us a pretty great two moons diagram, and it will end with the crowning of the Night’s King; so after much thought, I’ve decided that this is the place for it. I almost crammed it into the last episode, Visenya Draconis, because it will involve hoary old Vhagar, but that episode had a lot going on already and it fits better here.

Vhagar, in this dragon dance, will be ridden by Aemond One-Eye, he of the blue star-sapphire eye. That pairing creates a smashingly good ice dragon symbol, if you recall, by virtue of Aemon’s blue star eyes and the fact that the “hoary” descriptor implies Vhagar as a snow-white or frosty white dragon. The other two dragons in this fight are surprisingly easy to identify, so it’s primed for mythical astronomy. As you probably guessed by now, this isn’t going to be so much of a love triangle as it will be a triangle of dragon carnage, but it works basically the same way.

The fight takes place at Rook’s Rest in the Stormlands, where the Lord of House Staunton, who is loyal to Rhaenyra and the blacks, is besiged by the armies of Ser Criston Cole, who is loyal to the greens, which is the side of King Aegon II and his brother Aemond One-Eye. Lord Staunton’s requests for support arrive in the form of a dragon and dragonlord:

Nine days after Lord Staunton dispatched his plea for help, the sound of leathern wings was heard across the sea, and the dragon Meleys appeared above Rook’s Rest. The Red Queen, she was called, for the scarlet scales that covered her. The membranes of her wings were pink, her crest, horns, and claws bright as copper. And on her back, in steel and copper armor that flashed in the sun, rode Rhaenys Targaryen, the Queen Who Never Was.

Ser Criston Cole was not dismayed. Aegon’s Hand had expected this, counted on it. Drums beat out a command, and archers rushed forward, longbowmen and crossbowmen both, filling the air with arrows and quarrels. Scorpions were cranked upwards to loose iron bolts of the sort that had once felled Meraxes in Dorne. Meleys suffered a score of hits, but the arrows only served to make her angry. She swept down, spitting fire to right and left. Knights burned in their saddles as the hair and hide and harness of their horses went up in flames. Men-at-arms dropped their spears and scattered. Some tried to hide behind their shields, but neither oak nor iron could withstand dragon’s breath. Ser Criston sat on his white horse shouting, “Aim for the rider,” through the smoke and flame. Meleys roared, smoke swirling from her nostrils, a stallion kicking in her jaws as tongues of fire engulfed him.

Here we have a red dragon whose name, Meleys, has the same phonetic root as Melisandre, and Melisandre is of course one of our most important and vivid fire moon queens. Meleys the red dragon’s nickname, the Red Queen, has also been applied to Melisandre, who is called Stannis’s red queen by his soldiers. Meleys is also compared to Meraxes, the dragon of Queen Rhaenys, who are both fire moon symbols. Don’t look now, but the rider of Meleys the Red Queen is… another Rhaenys, so we are right back to fire moon symbolism once again. All in all, I’d say the fire moon identification for Rhaenys the Queen Who Never Was and Meleys the Red Queen is fairly ironclad. Let’s see what happens next:

Then came an answering roar. Two more winged shapes appeared: the king astride Sunfyre the Golden, and his brother Aemond upon Vhagar. Criston Cole had sprung his trap, and Rhaenys had come snatching at the bait. Now the teeth closed round her.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the King is riding the dragon named after the sun, making him the solar king. Aemond Blue Star Eye on Vhagar is an ice dragon symbol, so he’s the ice moon. The gang is all here: fire moon, solar king, ice moon. Then, the action heats up:

Princess Rhaenys made no attempt to flee. With a glad cry and a crack of her whip, she turned Meleys toward the foe. Against Vhagar alone she might have had some chance, for the Red Queen was old and cunning, and no stranger to battle. Against Vhagar and Sunfyre together, doom was certain. The dragons met violently a thousand feet above the field of battle, as balls of fire burst and blossomed, so bright that men swore later that the sky was full of suns.

The crimson jaws of Meleys closed round Sunfyre’s golden neck for a moment, till Vhagar fell upon them from above. All three beasts went spinning toward the ground. They struck so hard that stones fell from the battlements of Rook’s Rest half a league away.

Cutting in briefly, notice that the fire moon dragon and the sun dragon collide first, and the sky is full of suns – this is the second suns symbolism again. That’s Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa, copulating to make dragon children, little Azor Ahai rebornlings, the sons of the sun.

Those closest to the dragons did not live to tell the tale. Those farther off could not see, for the flame and smoke. It was hours before the fires guttered out. But from those ashes, only Vhagar rose unharmed. Meleys was dead, broken by the fall and ripped to pieces upon the ground. And Sunfyre, that splendid golden beast, had one wing half torn from his body, whilst his royal rider had suffered broken ribs, a broken hip, and burns that covered half his body. His left arm was the worst. The dragonflame had burned so hot that the king’s armor had melted into his flesh.

The fire moon dragon and rider die, which is sad in terms of the story but appropriate in terms of symbolism, since the fire moon seems to have been destroyed. The sun dragon and rider are gravely wounded and weakened – that is the darkening and dimming of the sun during the Long Night. Check out the description of Sunfyre when he later turns up at Dragonstone:

Sunfyre’s scales still shone like beaten gold in the sunlight, but as he sprawled across the fused black Valyrian stone of the yard, it was plain to see that he was a broken thing, he who had been the most magnificent dragon ever to fly the skies of Westeros. The wing all but torn from his body by Meleys jutted from his body at an awkward angle, whilst fresh scars along his back still smoked and bled when he moved. Sunfyre was coiled in a ball when the queen and her party first beheld him. As he stirred and raised his head, huge wounds were visible along his neck, where another dragon had torn chunks from his flesh. On his belly were places where scabs had replaced scales, and where his right eye should have been was only an empty hole, crusted with black blood.

Don’t look now, but it’s more one-eye symbolism for a solar dragon figure – this time an actual dragon. It’s kind of the dragon equivalent to our one-eyed friends Beric and Bloodraven, essentially. He’s broken, but still deadly – this does seem to be one aspect of the transformed Azor Ahai character. That might also describe Jon Snow when he comes back from resurrection, and Jon is also a one-eyed figure, because he has that eagle-claw wound across one eye (though his eye wasn’t actually lost). Even weirder, Sunfyre’s wounds actually match the wounds that Jon takes at his assassination nearly perfectly, save for the fact that Jon doesn’t have wings. Call it the Jon Snow stigmata!

Here’s what I mean, and this will be a tiny sidebar to the dragon battle, which we are not quite finished with. So, Jon already has the scar across his eye to match Sunfyre’s wounded eye. Sunfyre has a neck wound, which matches Jon’s first knife wound during the mutiny, the neck wound that almost certainly struck his jugular vein:

When Wick Whittlestick slashed at his throat, the word turned into a grunt. Jon twisted from the knife, just enough so it barely grazed his skin. He cut me. When he put his hand to the side of his neck, blood welled between his fingers..

Sunfyre’s wounds across the belly are a match for Jon’s next wound:

Then Bowen Marsh stood there before him, tears running down his cheeks. “For the Watch.” He punched Jon in the belly. When he pulled his hand away, the dagger stayed where he had buried it.

Sunfyre has smoking and bleeding wounds across his back, and that’s a match for Jon’s third knife wound, and check out Jon’s blood smoking like a dragon’s here:

Jon fell to his knees. He found the dagger’s hilt and wrenched it free. In the cold night air the wound was smoking. “Ghost,” he whispered. Pain washed over him. Stick them with the pointy end. When the third dagger took him between the shoulder blades, he gave a grunt and fell face-first into the snow. 

Sunfyre’s wounded eye socket is described as “crusted with black blood,” and of course Jon and all Night’s Watchmen are euphemistically said to bleed black blood. You guys know that hot, smoking black blood is the hallmark of one who has undergone fire transformation, as the solar king does when he turns into the dark solar king or is reborn as the dark solar king. In other words, both Jon and Sunfyre, with their identical wounds, are described as having hot, smoking black blood, as dark solar king dragons should.

It’s worth noting the timing implied here with both Jon and Sunfyre as it concerns the fall of the Long Night. Sunfyre received his “Jon Snow stigmata” wounds when he killed the fire moon dragon, Meleys, an act which symbolizes the beginning of the Long Night. Jon was assassinated just as winter falls, and just as the Others are poised to begin their invasion. I know they’ve been “poised to begin their invasion” for years now, but the next book is called Winds of Winter, so I assume it will actually be happening in short order. Consider also that Jon is killed as a direct result of his letting those Other-like wildlings through the Wall, which also symbolized the invasion of the Others. It’s the same message: the solar king transforms when the Long Night falls.

But as I said at the end of the last section, the Night’s King version of the dark solar king seems destined to become locked in the ice and frozen, and we all remember the last line of this chapter concerning the last knife wound Jon took:

He never felt the fourth knife. Only the cold …

Jon’s dead body seems foreshadowed to be placed in the ice cells – this is a depiction of the sun being frozen and hidden during the Long Night. There’s a line in  one of Jon’s wolf dreams in ADWD which refers to the sun hiding in a “cave of night” when it isn’t in the sky, and that’s a good way to think about the reborn sun becoming lodged in the ice. Recall that Jon thinks of the tunnel through the ice at castle Black as being “as dark and cold as the belly of an ice dragon,” and the ice cells are very similar. Essentially, the Wall is a symbol of the ice moon, so being inside the Wall or inside the belly of the ice dragon is like being trapped inside the ice moon, and this is where Jon’s corpse is symbolically headed… into one of those ice cells in the Wall. Why? Because he represents that black meteor that lands in the ice moon. Hopefully this is beginning to make sense to you. He’s the crow in the snow.

Returning the dragon battle at Rook’s Rest, we find that Sunfyre and his rider, King Aegon II, each mimic Jon being frozen and hidden in their own way. Sunfyre is literally hidden – everyone believed he was dead, actually, though it later turned out he has been hiding out on the far side of Dragonstone. And say… since Dragonstone is a symbol of the fire moon, Sunfyre being on the far side of Dragonstone is basically like being eclipsed by Dragonstone… anyway. As for King Aegon, he loses himself in pain and milk of the poppy:

King Aegon II did not die, though his burns brought him such pain that some say he prayed for death. Carried back to King’s Landing in a closed litter to hide the extent of his injuries, His Grace did not rise from his bed for the rest of the year. Septons prayed for him, maesters attended him with potions and milk of the poppy, but Aegon slept nine hours out of every ten, waking only long enough to take some meagre nourishment before he slept again. None was allowed to disturb his rest, save his mother the Queen Dowager and his Hand, Ser Criston Cole. His wife never so much as made the attempt, so lost was Helaena in her own grief and madness.

The description of dying of hypothermia is given to us in the prologue of AGOT: it’s “like sinking into a sea of warm milk,” Gared says. So, sinking into a sustained milk of the poppy dream state could serve as a good metaphor for a solar king being frozen. Note also the bit about Aegon II being “carried back to King’s Landing in a closed litter to hide the extent of his injuries” – it’s a clear implication of the the sun being hidden and weakened.

So, what happens when the fire moon dies and the sun is weakened and hidden? What happens when the Long Night falls, according to my developing theory? The Night’s King should take power, right?

And indeed, the only ones to rise unharmed from the ashes of the impact zone are Vhagar and Aemond One-Eye. The ice dragon and its rider. Not only does Aemond rise unharmed – he takes the place of his brother, the wounded solar king:

“You must rule the realm now, until your brother is strong enough to take the crown again,” the King’s Hand told Prince Aemond. Nor did Ser Criston need to say it twice. And so one-eyed Aemond the Kinslayer took up the iron-and-ruby crown of Aegon the Conquerer. “It looks better on me than it ever did on him,” the prince proclaimed. Yet Aemond did not assume the style of king, but named himself only Protector of the Realm and Prince Regent. Ser Criston Cole remained Hand of the King.

That’s right, the hand of the King was also a white shadow Kingsguard. Of course he thought the rider of the ice dragon should wear the crown! Kidding aside, here’s what’s going on. Sometimes we see one character transform from a bright solar figure to a dark one, but Aegon and Aemond are actually combining to show us the bright solar king and dark solar king duality. Aegon, rider of Sunfyre the golden dragon, represents the bright solar king, and Aemond, who just so happens to wear “night black armor chased with gold,” represents the dark solar king, the Lion of Night or Night’s King.

If you’ve ever heard me talk about the actual Great Empire of the Dawn dual Pantheon of the Maiden Made of Light, who turned her back on the world and hid during the Long Night, and the Lion of Night who ravaged the earth during the Long Night, you will know that I interpret this pair in exactly the same way as Aegon and Aemond. The Maiden Made of Light is the bright face of the sun, and her disappearance during the Long Night represents the disappearance of the sun, while the Lion of Night inverts the usual solar lion symbolism and thus speaks of a dark sun and it’s black meteor children – exactly the ones who ravaged the earth during the Long Night.

So, just as the Maiden hides when the Amethyst Empress is killed and the Lion of Night and Bloodstone Emperor take power, Aegon the bright solar king is wounded and hidden and sinks into a sea of warm milk of the poppy when Rhaenys and Meleys are killed and Aemond One-Eye of the night-black armor takes up the black crown. All hail King Ice Dragon!

So Aemond is the Night’s King, and he’s riding the ice dragon. What does this mean? Well, simple. Vhagar is playing the ice moon role, and when black-armored Aemond rides Vhagar, that can be seen as the black dragon meteor becoming lodged in the ice. It’s the same thing as Night’s King joining with Night’s Queen – and this is when Night’s King declared himself King, when chased and caught her and made her his queen.

We can see this timing spelled out by the fact that Aemond One Eye originally lost his eye – the one later filled with a blue star sapphire – on the same day he claimed Vhagar the ice dragon. Again, Aemond riding Vhagar is like Night’s King giving his seed to Night’s Queen, so this sequence is like Night’s King’s eyes turning blue when he copulates with Night’s Queen, essentially. It’s not hard to interpret that symbolism: Night’s King transformed himself when he gave his seed and soul to Night’s Queen.

Remember Mel’s line about Jon and Stannis both being eclipsed in the shadow of the elder brothers? Well, add Aemond to the mix, as he’s another second son who takes up his brother’s crown (Stannis declares himself king after Robert dies, and Jon will eventually be the King of Winter like his older brother Robb). There’s also a kinslaying motif here – Aemond One-Eye is also called Aemond The Kinslayer, because he killed his nephew Lucerys Velaryon at the start of the Dance of the Dragons. Stannis killed his brother Renly through the use of the shadowbaby, and Jon has a fainter echo of this in that he dreams of killing his brother Robb, though of course Jon is not a kinslayer in real life… yet. If he comes back to life and murders any of his Night’s Watch “brothers,” perhaps that counts.

That leads to our next Night’s King figure, and to a whole lot of eye-gouging talk. That’s right, it’s time for another one-eyed kinslayer, Euron Crow’s Eye. What, you didn’t expect Euron Crow’s Eye to run up on our Moons of Ice and Fire? Well, he’s a pirate, and pirates don’t ask permission and surprise is kind of their thing. They’re like the Spanish Inquisition – nobody expects them, and amongst their weaponry are such diverse elements as fear and surprise.

The Face of the Dark God

This section owes a debt of gratitude to Ser Cletus Yronwood reborn of the Never-Lazy Eye, wrestler of bulls and Guardian of the Celestial Stallion and the Horned Lord, and to Ser Morris Mayberry the Upright, climber of Jacob’s Ladder and Guardian of the Celestial Ghost, whose words are “I drink, and tweet things”

As we’ve discussed while referencing Horus mythology, the Egyptians saw the sky as the face of Horus, and the sun and moon his eyes. George is playing on this idea with his idea of a “Gods Eye” which is a conjunction of sun and fire moon that looks like a great eye… one which is then blinded by the comet. You may recall that line a Catleyn chapter of ACOK where she saw that “the comet traced a path across the deep blue sky like a long scratch across the face of god,” with the face of god obviously being the sky itself, and of course there are several great quotes about the moon being like an eye or even the R’llorists’ perception of the sun as the fiery eye of R’hlllor.

But the Lion of Night / dark solar king is also like Horus – his face is the sky too, but specifically the nighttime sky, and his eyes would presumably be the two moons when they both existed. The shadowcat, whose name is basically another way of saying “lion or cat of night,” shows this exact mythical astronomy diagram to Jon in ACOK:

Off in the darkness a shadowcat screamed in fury, its voice bouncing off the rocks so it see med as though a dozen other ‘cats were giving answer. Once Jon thought he saw a pair of glowing eyes on a ledge overhead, as big as harvest moons.

This shadowcat is like a Night’s King cat – a dozen “other” cats are created when the shadowcat’s voice bounces of the rocks. Jon does not see the body of the shadowcat, only the eyes which are like a pair of moons – this is exactly how I am describing the sky face of the Lion of Night of dark solar king, the night sky with the two moons for eyes. It’s also like the representation of the Stranger of the Faith of the Seven that Catelyn sees in a Riverlands Sept before Renly’s murder:  “a black oval, a shadow with stars for eyes.” The Stranger is clearly labelled as a death god, so he’s certainly an equivalent figure to the Lion of Night, and his “wanderer from far places” moniker implies him as a comet, a wandering star from far off places.

I’ll also mention the only other character with eyes like a pair of moons – Roose Bolton, who has “eyes as pale and strange as two white moons” which are also called “two chips of dirty ice,” “pale cold eyes,” or simply eyes that “were ice.” That’s ice moon talk, for sure! Roose and his son Ramsay are both Night’s King / evil Azor Ahai figures, and though we don’t have time for the Boltons in this episode, Roose’s moon eyes help me make an important point: Night’s King and other dark solar king figures (like the shadowcat or the Stranger) are the right ones to have eyes like the two moons, because their face is the night sky – it’s the face of the dark god, in other words. Night’s King is associated with the ice moon, and that’s why Roose’s eyes are like strange moons and also like ice.

It’s one thing to have eyes like a pair of moons, but where things really get interesting is with the one-eyed Night’s King people. These folks have the opportunity to tell us about each moon individually, should Martin choose to do that sort of thing. chuckles to self

So look again upon the face of King Ice Dragon, Aemond One Eye.

The blue star gemstone in his right eye would stand for the ice moon and the Others, of course, while his left eye is traditional purple of Targaryen eyes and would therefore seem to stand for the fire moon which was the birthplace of dragons. If that’s the case, the story of Aemond gaining a blue star eye when he claimed the symbolic ice moon dragon, Vhagar, also tells us something about the ice moon. It tells us that it was “awakened” or “activated” when it was “ridden” by the Night’s King, and yeah, insert your dirty jokes here. But the picture really is clear… Vhagar and Aemond’s blue eye both represent the ice moon, so the story actually tells us about the impregnation of the ice moon from two angles. Aemond’s ice moon eye is transforming into a blue star eye depicts the ‘activation’ of the ice moon, as does the very act of his riding the symbolic ice dragon Vhagar, and of course they both happen at more or less the same time.

There are two other characters in the story whose eyes tell the story of the two moons: Ser Waymar Royce and Euron Greyjoy, and they will be lending support to our analysis of Aemond One-Eye (or else I wouldn’t have included them, naturally). We’re going to spend more time on Euron, so let’s talk about Waymar first. Euron is a definite Night’s King figure, while Waymar is more of a last hero type, journeying into the frozen lands and confronting the Others by himself, with his sword breaking like the last hero’s. Of course some believe that the last hero and Night’s King are one in the same, but I plan to dive into that question in a different episode, so for now we simply observe that Waymar’s face is doing a sky-map thing which matches Aemond One-Eye and Euron.

Ser Waymar Royce can only be found in the prologue of AGOT, of course, and although his tale is surprisingly tragic in retrospect, it does do a fabulous job depicting the awakening of the Others after the fire moon was destroyed. First, Waymar’s sword snaps against the parry of the Other, and loses his eye:

When the blades touched, the steel shattered.

A scream echoed through the forest night, and the longsword shivered into a hundred brittle pieces, the shards scattering like a rain of needles. Royce went to his knees, shrieking, and covered his eyes. Blood welled between his fingers.

Arya could tell you that needles can be swords, so this rain of needles is really a storm of swords, a recognizable moon meteor shower symbol. A moment earlier when the Other draws first blood, it says that Waymar’s blood “steamed in the cold, and the droplets seemed red as fire where they touched the snow.” In other words, when he is first wounded and then when his eyes are struck by one of the needles from his shattered sword, this is a fire and blood event, and therefore represents the destruction of the fire moon.

We find out later when Waymar rises that only one eye was put out by the sword-needles:

Will rose. Ser Waymar Royce stood over him.

His fine clothes were a tatter, his face a ruin. A shard from his sword transfixed the blind white pupil of his left eye.

But his other eye…

The right eye was open. The pupil burned blue. It saw.

So, the left eye would be the fire moon, put out with a sword needle when Waymar’s blood was still like fire. The other eye, the right eye, would represent the ice moon, and indeed it opens burning blue when the first moon eye is put out. By the way, I really think Martin chooses his wording very precisely here – Waymar’s “other eye” is the blue one, just like the Qarthine tale speaks of the moon which wasn’t destroyed as “the other moon” which “will one day kiss the sun too.” The ice moon is the Other moon, dig?

Clever wording aside, we can see how the eyes once again show us a sequence:  the fire moon eye is blinded and bloodied by the broken sword needles, and shortly after, his other eye lights up with that cold blue star fire. It’s almost like the activation of the other moon is a part of the fallout of the fire moon incident, just as the Others came in the darkness created by the fire moon meteors impacting on the Planetos… and just as Aemond gained the black crown after the fire moon dragon and fire moon queen were killed at Rook’s Rest, and just as Aemond’s eye turned into a blue star when he claimed the ice moon dragon Vhagar. And let’s not forget Stannis – he claimed the crown only after his brother, Robert the Summer King, was sliced open and killed.

It’s much the same with Euron Crow’s Eye. I covered some of this in the “Caverns of Dragonglass” YouTube video with History of Westeros, so again I will refer you to that, but Euron’s face is an even better sky-map than Waymar’s, and it shows this same sequence.

First of all, Euron is easily established as a moon character in a line from the Forsaken chapter of TWOW, where Aeron Damphair recalls that “he had seen the moon floating on a black wine sea with a leering face that reminded him of Euron.” As it turns out, the name Euron seems likely to have been derived from Europa, who is both a Greek moon goddess and the name of one of the most famous moons of Jupiter. As it happens, ‘Europa the real moon of Jupiter’ – what scholarly people would call a Jovian moon –  is a real ice moon, as I will talk about in more detail in a future episode. Long story short, it’s a moon covered in very cold water and ice – and that’s what Euron is named after. Roose Bolton has eyes like icy moons, and now we know that Euron is literally named for an ice moon. Indeed, his face seems to tell the tale of the two moons.

His right eye is blue, so we know which moon that is, and his left eye is his ‘crows eye,’ although it is also called his “blood eye.” That’s the one he keeps covered with a patch, and as we’re about to see, that’s definitely the fire moon eye. You’ll notice Waymar’s blue eye was also his right one, and the same goes for Aemond One Eye. Not sure if that’s intentional or an accident, but I thought I would point. If it’s intentional, it may be alluding to certain occult beliefs about magic having a “left-hand path” and the “right-hand path,” with fire magic seeming to be aligned with the left-hand path. I know of at least one fantasy author – Raymond Feist – who makes overt use of this concept, so it could be that Martin is doing something similar, but with more subtlety.

Or it could be coincidence, who knows.

What I am more convinced of is the idea that the eyes of these three folks are showing us the two moons, and though the theory doesn’t depend on the right and left eyes being consistently associated with specific moons, it does seem to work out that way, for these three at least.

In any case, let’s talk about Euron’s eyes. The patches Euron wears over his ‘crows eye’ / ‘blood eye’ are either black or red, and the eye itself is implied as being either black or red in a couple of ways. It’s implied as a black eye because the eyes of real crows are black; because Theon thinks of Euron’s crowseye as “a black eye shining with malice,” and because Moqorro sees Euron’s shadow in a dream as “a tall and twisted thing with one black eye and ten long arms, sailing on a sea of blood.” Meanwhile in that Forsaken chapter, it says that Euron “showed the world his blood eye now, dark and terrible.” That last line could be implying dark red blood or black blood, and either works well.

As you can see, the symbolism of his left eye is red and black, crows and blood. This is the familiar waves of night and blood symbolism which represents the waves of darkness, bleeding stars, and metaphorical moon blood that comes from the fire moon when it wanders into Gods Eye eclipse position and cracks open. We see this waves of night and blood symbolism most strongly in Oathkeeper and Widow’s Wail and Melisandre’s visions of a black and bloody tide sweeping over towers by the sea, and fittingly, this theme is echoed elsewhere in Euron’s symbolism. Not even echoed, really, so much as dripping from all of his pores.

Euron sometimes appears accompanied by the waves of blood motif, such as that line from Moqorro about Euron’s black-eyed, squid-like shadow sailing on a sea of blood (literally ocean waves of blood there), or such as in the Forsaken chapter when Aeron has a nightmare vision of Euron and sees “the longships of the Ironborn adrift and burning on a boiling blood­-red sea” (again, oceans of blood). This vision occurs moments after Euron appears wearing a blood-red cape and a red leather eye patch. And let’s not forget Euron’s ship, the Silence, of which Aeron thinks “The decks of Euron’s ship were painted red, to better hide the blood that soaked them.” 

I think you’d agree; Euron has waves upon waves of waves of blood symbolism. How about the waves of night? Well, for starters, Euron drinks liquid darkness – the Shade of the Evening wine of the warlocks, which is bluish-black in color. In the quote where the moon leered with Euron’s face, it “floated on a black wine sea” – so again, not only waves of darkness, but oceans of darkness. He likes to wear that black sable coat of Baelor Blacktyde – and of course a black tide brings us right back to ocean waves of darkness. His black hair is also described as “black as a midnight sea” – ocean waves of darkness, yet again. Also… midnight sea.. midnight sea… where have we heard that phrase before?

Stannis kept his own whiskers cropped tight and short. They lay like a blue-black shadow across his square jaw and the bony hollows of his cheeks. His eyes were open wounds beneath his heavy brows, a blue as dark as the sea by night.

That’s right. See what I mean about Stannis and Euron sharing this blue-black shadow symbolism? Here you can see how close it is, with copious references to a midnight sea or nighttime sea and the colors black and dark blue. And since Stannis’s nighttime-sea-blue eyes are described as “wounds,” thereby implying blue blood as we mentioned earlier, there is also the suggestion of a dark blue blood ocean here.

Stannis comparisons aside, all of Euron’s waves of blood and night eye symbolism  comes together with Euron’s sigil, which Sam sees as he sails near to Oldtown, asking:

“Who would be so mad as to raid this close to Oldtown?”

Xhondo pointed at a half-sunken longship in the shallows. The remnants of a banner drooped from her stern, smoke-stained and ragged. The charge was one Sam had never seen before: a red eye with a black pupil, beneath a black iron crown supported by two crows. “Whose banner is that?” Sam asked. Xhondo only shrugged.

Look Familiar? It’s the Crows Eye Sigil… but it looks a lot like my logo, doesn’t it? like a black, eclipsing moon wandering in front of a red sun?

The red eye with the black pupil is the gods eye symbol, with the black pupil being the fire moon which turns into a black hole in the sky and the red iris being the sun. That is of course the image I use for all of my logos, an image I assembled simply by visualizing what the myth implies when it says the moon wandered too close to the sun, and by thinking about the sun and moon as the eyes of god – and that was before I found the Crows Eye sigil, at which point I was like “hot damn! There it is! A diagram!”

Most importantly, it’s not just a matching image, but the right surrounding symbolism –  the standard Sam sees is smoke-stained, further implying the Long Night events, and the black crown symbol is featured prominently on the standard. Stannis has that fringe of hair that looks like a shadow crown, Aemond One-Eye wears the black crown of Aegon the Conqueror, and Waymar actually has a different sort of black crown, as implied by the line from the prologue which says “His cloak was his crowning glory; sable, thick and black and soft as sin.” A sinful black crown, that’s excellent! Euron is also spotted with a black crown in the Forsaken chapter, fittingly:

When Euron came again, his hair was swept straight back from his brow, and his lips were so blue that they were almost black. He had put aside his driftwood crown. In its place, he wore an iron crown whose points were made from the teeth of sharks.

Let that be the next replica item from Valyrian Steel, a black iron crown with sharks teeth. Okay okay, shark’s teeth with little laser beams on them, fine. Get on it Valyrian Steel. And I am still waiting for my complimentary book-accurate Damascus steel Oathkeeper with the fashionable waves-of-night-and-blood coloring to the blade. It might be worth lots of free advertising on a certain podcast, just saying.

The Crow’s Eye banner also makes an appearance in the Forsaken chapter:

And so, Aeron Damphair returned to the salt sea. A dozen longships were drawn up at the wharf below the castle, and twice as many beached along the strand. Familiar banners streamed from their masts: the Greyjoy kraken, the bloody moon of Wynch, the warhorn of the Goodbrothers. But from their sterns flew a flag the priest had never seen before: a red eye with a black pupil beneath an iron crown supported by two crows.

Well, the gang is all here: the bloody moon sigil, connected to the word “Wynch” (“winch”) implies pulling down the moon and bringing on the waves of moon blood, while the warhorn of Goodbroother which looks just like Euron’s dragonbinder horn and evokes things like the binding of meteor dragons, waking giants in the earth, and the hammer of the waters event which in my opinion involved meteor dragons waking giants in the earth by causing land collapse at the Arm of Dorne. The kraken is a thing which pulls things down into the darkness of the sea, which compliments the Wynch bloody moon sigil. And above, we have a picture of the Gods Eye eclipse, wrought it the colors of blood and night.

There is a developing pattern of Euron hiding his crow’s eye / blood eye in the waking world showing it when he appears in dreams and visions. We already mentioned how Moqorro sees Euron in a fire vision as a squid-like shadow with one black eye, and this is continued in the two shade of the evening-induced nightmares Aeron Damphair has in the Forsaken chapter. In the first, Euron appears thusly:

When he laughed, his face sloughed off, and the priest saw that it was not Urri but Euron, the smiling eye hidden. He showed the world his blood eye now, dark and terrible. Clad head to heel in scale as dark as onyx, he sat upon a mound of blackened skulls as dwarfs capered around his feet and a forest burned behind him. 

This is the first time we’ve seen what’s under Euron’s eye patch in any sense, and though we don’t learn much, we now know that it’s a dark and terrible blood eye, whatever that means. Wait! We know what that means – waves of blood and night, coming from the Gods Eye eclipse. Euron even mentions the comet in the next paragraph, saying that “The bleeding star bespoke the end.”

In Aeron’s second nightmare, it goes like this:

The dreams were even worse the second time. He saw the longships of the Ironborn adrift and burning on a boiling blood­-red sea. He saw his brother on the Iron Throne again, but Euron was no longer human. He seemed more squid than man, a monster fathered by a kraken of the deep, his face a mass of writhing tentacles.

This is basically Euron’s Cthulhu face, and it’s very similar to Moqorro’s visions of a the one-eyed black squid shadow. Given that his face is like a leering moon earlier in this chapter, we are given the image of a moon which has turned into a vortex of black tentacles. This is a slightly more aggressive depiction of the waves of night (the black clouds of smoke and debris) which would spread outward from the Gods Eye eclipse in the sky when the moon explodes. Imagine the smoke spreading outward like black tentacles, and think that’s how the moon turns into a black eye and a black squid.

In summary, Euron’s crows eye sigil looks like an eclipse, and it is a mirror image of the Gods Eye lake and the Isle of Faces. The gods eye symbolizes the eclipse which occurred when the fire moon exploded, and thus it corresponds with Euron’s left eye, which is either his crows eye or his blood eye and which is covered by either a black or red patch. This is really vivid mythical astronomy folks, I hope you are digging this. Martin is basically giving us a detailed diagram here between Euron’s sigil and his crow’s eye.

And then we have his other eye, which is called his smiling eye. I would tend to think the smiling thing refers to a smiling Cheshire Cat moon, but it’s hard to say for sure. It’s described by Victarion in AFFC as “blue as a summer sky,” which is kind of a confounding description because summer is almost always symbolized by gold and green. There’s another line about Euron having “seduced them with his glib tongue and smiling eye and bound them to his cause with the plunder of half a hundred distant lands,” and of course Vic often repeats that “all Euron’s gifts are poisoned,” so perhaps the idea of the smiling blue eye being compared to summer is that of a false promise or poisoned gift? One thinks of summer snows, or simply of the idea that winter is coming but it isn’t here yet. Funny that Lyanna’s blue winter roses in the sky are “as blue as the eyes of death,” while Euron’s deadly, seductive blue eye is like a summer sky.

Labeling the blue eye as the blue of a summer sky might also be a continuation of the blue star / cold sun / burning cold imagery. In two other scenes, Euron’s smiling eye is “glittering,” which is a word that kind of makes us think of gems and starlight. In the Forsaken, there’s a line which says “His brother’s smiling eye glittered in the lantern light, blue and bold and full of malice.” Full of malice – that’s more like it. I told you the smiling eye thing was bullshit! Anyway, the point is the glittering, and it also happens when Victarion sees Euron before the Kingsmoot in AFFC:

“As it happens I have oft sat upon the Seastone Chair of late. It raises no objections.” His smiling eye was glittering. “Who knows more of gods than I? Horse gods and fire gods, gods made of gold with gemstone eyes, gods carved of cedar wood, gods chiseled into mountains, gods of empty air . . . I know them all.”

This encourages us to see his glittering blue eye as a gem – like a sapphire, or better yet a star sapphire, like our friend King Ice Dragon Aemond One-Eye. Euron seems set up to parallel the Bloodstone Emperor – which we are about to discuss – so the reference to golden gods with gemstone eyes here is notable (because they sound like idols from the Great Empire of the Dawn). Euron’s blood-and-black crow’s eye makes us think of the Bloodstone Emperor anyway since the Bloodstone Emperor was remembered as having caused the Long Night, and thus triggering the waves of blood and night, the storm of bleeding stars which bespoke the end.

We know that the Others came during the Long Night, and I am proposing that ‘Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai’ became the Night’s King in some sense, and I think that’s why we keep seeing the blue star eye symbol paired with a destroyed fire moon eye symbol. Waymar has a blue star eye, Aemond One-Eye has a blue star sapphire eye, and now Euron has a blue smiling eye that ‘glitters,’ like a gem or a star, and in the same paragraph that he speaks of golden gods with gemstone eyes.

The Bloodstone Emperor Reborn

This section is brought ot you by the Patreonsupport of two members of 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, and Ser Stoyles of Long Branch, Seeker of Paleblood

Much to my great delight, more and more people are coming to think of Euron as either a would-be Night’s King figure or a would-be Bloodstone Emperor figure – and I think he’s both, of course. Let’s consider the obvious parallels Euron has to the story of the Bloodstone Emperor, starting with the simple fact that he’s seeking after Daenerys, who parallels the Amethyst Empress. Euron is actually the one to refer to Daenerys in language that cats her in this role, calling her “the fairest woman in the world” whose “hair is silver-gold, and her eyes are amethysts.” Like the Bloodstone Emperor stealing the throne of his sister (and probably sister-wife) the Amethyst Empress, it’s safe to assume Euron is mostly interested in stealing Dany’s power and Dany’s dragons.

It’s certainly clear Euron thinks he is the type of dude who can ride a dragon. He brags of having been to Valyria, and has the magic horn to lend credence to his claim. In the Forsaken chapter, he even appears with a suit of Valyrian steel armor, and by all means you should be reading this as a vision of the Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai, the pirate lord from Asshai, sailing to Westeros:

Euron Crow’s Eye stood upon the deck of Silence, clad in a suit of black scale armor like nothing Aeron had ever seen before. Dark as smoke it was, but Euron wore it as easily as if it was the thinnest silk. The scales were edged in red gold, and gleamed and shimmered when they moved. Patterns could be seen within the metal, whorls and glyphs and arcane symbols folded into the steel.

Valyrian steel, the Damphair knew. His armor is Valyrian steel. In all the Seven Kingdoms, no man owned a suit of Valyrian steel. Such things had been known 400 years ago, in the days before the Doom, but even then, they would’ve cost a kingdom.

Euron did not lie. He has been to Valyria. No wonder he was mad.

Like I said, there is no question Euron thinks of himself as one who can ride a dragon. “Delusions of grandeur” doesn’t even begin to describe Euron’s monumental ambi