We Should Start Back

As even the most casual student of literature knows, the first words of a great novel are generally expected to be loaded with import and meaning. Frequently, the main themes of the story are touched on, and sometimes meta-clues about the work itself are  found there too. Such is the case with the first sentences of ASOIAF, which are:

“We should start back,” Gared urged as the woods began to grow dark around them. “The wildlings are dead.”

The first thing I noticed when taking a hard look at these first two sentences, which comprise the first paragraph of the prologue of AGOT, is the menacing nature of the woods, which are “growing dark around them.” Not ‘the night’ growing dark, but the woods themselves, which are surrounding and enveloping the three rangers. This motif is built upon throughout the prologue as the trees try to trip up and ensnare our party, seeming particularly hostile to Ser Waymar, so it’s fairly easy to spot this first sentence as the beginning of the ‘menacing trees’ motif. Obviously trees and the horrors that are hidden in their lore are a major component of ASOIAF, so it makes sense that this is one of the first ideas presented to us. The weirwoods are the ultimate “setting” of the story, just as the cosmic world tree they are personifying is typically regarded as the center of the cosmos.

One of the horrors hidden in the weirwood lore seem to be the Others, and this truth is fairly well spelled out in the prologue. The menacing trees idea essentially culminates in the Others “emerging from the dark of the wood” as pale shadows in the night, showing us just why they are sometimes called “the white walkers of the wood.” In other words, the menacing trees which seem to have been watching the rangers for days and giving them the creeps are essentially preparing the reader for the moment these icy tree shadows appear on the page and kill Ser Waymar. A ton of evidence for the white walkers’ connection to the weirwoods, the greenseers, and the children of the forest is found elsewhere as the series develops, but in retrospect this prologue lays it out pretty well – and it all starts with that first sentence.

“We should start back,” Gared urged as the woods began to grow dark around them. “The wildlings are dead.”

Since we took care of the descriptive part of the sentence about the darkening woods, let’s isolate Gared’s speech. He says “We should start back, the wildlings are dead,” and then a moment later, “we have no business with the dead.” The general sense conveyed here is one of Lovecraftian terror – as we are about to learn, Gared and Will are totally picking up on the creepy Others vibe and want to get the hell out of here as fast as possible. They’ve seen enough, and they are ready to go back home. Gared is specifically saying ‘let’s go back because we completed our mission,’ which was to catch or kill the wildling raiders, but consider this sentence thematically – he’s saying that up ahead lies death, and that we should start back now while we have a chance. It’s ominous foreshadowing, in other words, as death does indeed lie in wait for them ahead in that very clearing where the wildlings died, and this was indeed their last chance to avert their doom.

I might add that when they choose to go forward, they aren’t just confronting death, but a fate worse than death and a power stronger than death. This is fire of the gods shit, in other words, a confrontation with an otherworldly power which man was for the most part not meant to tussle with. That’s why I say this is a Lovecraftian sense of terror being evoked here; Martin is very much mimicking the central conflict of main characters in the major works of H. P. Lovecraft, which is terror and insanity in the face of otherworldly powers beyond mankind’s comprehension. Gared shows this best; he’s rendered basically senseless by the time Ned finds him south of the Wall, having inexplicably fled his post after a long career as a faithful ranger of the Night’s Watch. All the more poignant, then, that Gared is the one to try to warn Waymar to “start back,” instead of going closer to confront death.

Defeating death is indeed another of the major themes of ASOIAF – we see it in the Others and their wights right here in this prologue, yes, but also in the greenseers like Bloodraven who outlive their mortal span both outside and inside the weirwoodnet; in the Undying of Qarth, who seem to have long outlived their natural time on the earth; and we see it with Melisandre, whom George has said to be “hundreds” of years old. We see it with Beric Dondarrion and Lady Stoneheart and Coldhands, and we will see it again soon with Jon and perhaps others, no pun intended. Okay, well maybe a little bit pun intended. But the point is clear – defeating death is a big part of the story, and it’s even baked into one of the prophecies of Azor Ahai reborn, who is foretold to resurrect those who die fighting in his cause.

So, talking all that into account, read this bit again: “We should start back. The wildlings are all dead.” It puts me in mind of resurrection, because when you say “we should go back,” you are sometimes saying you’d like to press the virtual ‘undo’ button, that we should go back to the point where we went wrong, or that we have gone to far and should turn around and trace our steps the way we came. It’s almost like Gared is saying we’ve come to the point where people have died, let’s turn back and undo the death. Perhaps I’m reading into things here, but those wildlings were surely wighted and raised from the dead, and of course Waymar will be wighted and raised from the dead at the end of this chapter. The idea of someone seeing the dead and wanting to “press the undo button” is indeed a thing in ASOIAF, of course:

Bran’s throat was very dry. He swallowed. “Winterfell. I was back in Winterfell. I saw my father. He’s not dead, he’s not, I saw him, he’s back at Winterfell, he’s still alive.”

“No,” said Leaf. “He is gone, boy. Do not seek to call him back from death.”

So from Azor Ahai reborn to young Brandon Stark, the idea of raising the dead is a major deal – and we see a lot of it in this prologue, of course.

Well, I’ve served up the appetizers, so let me tell you what I really think. The most important part of these two sentences is the very first bit: “we should start back.” Huge credit to Rusted Revolver for keying in on and developing this concept, with an additional thank you to Ravenous Reader and OuterPanda, the Pan Doubter for helping to develop the ideas further. Much of what you’re about to hear comes from their research and thinking, and in particular, Rusted Revolver has kind of made this “start back” thing his baby, and without his insight here this essay wouldn’t exist. Rusted and Ravi were also kind enough to review this essay beforehand and offer their input, so thanks guys. Puttin the “R.R.” in George R. R. Martin,” Ravenous Reader and Rusted Revolver.

A Wake in the River of Time

So, we should start back – what’s it mean? Well, it seems like Martin’s version of another famous first sentence from another famous and highly respected classic of literature, that of James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake. Finnegan’s Wake is a legendary and perplexing work of literary genius, by most accounts, and much attention is given to it’s first (and last) sentence.  Here’s that first sentence:

Riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.

The thing is, according to Joyce himself, it’s actually the end of the the sentence fragment that ends the novel, which is “a way a lone a last a loved a long the.” Put it together, and you get an infinite loop, a novel who’s ending flows seamlessly into its beginning. The whole thing is “A way a lone a last a loved a long the Riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.” I recommend this blog post by Steven Conger for a quick breakdown of this first sentence if you want to get it a little further, but right away you can see there is some sort of recirculation of time and fate thing going on here, with the river and the narrative both bringing the reader back to the spot where they began. It certainly makes you think of Bloodraven’s speech about how time is a river and how the weirwoods are not moved by that river, being the time-weirs that they are.

One imagines that House Tully’s castle named Riverrun is a nod to Joyce and this first sentence – I’m sure that got your attention, and of course Riverrun is also a castle built on a river like Joyce’s Howth Castle. It’s equally apparent that the idea of time and history being a loop is another theme Martin was eager to work with in ASOIAF, so it makes a lot of sense that he was captivated by Joyce’s literary puzzle here and the deeper concept behind it. Martin also expresses this idea of the recirculation of events in a nod to another of his favorite authors, Robert Jordan, author of the Wheel of Time series. The Wheel of Time, as you might guess if you don’t know already, makes heavy use of repeating cycles of history and fate, and Martin calls out to this idea when he calls out to the author. This is from an Asha chapter of AFFC:

“Archmaester Rigney once wrote that history is a wheel, for the nature of man is fundamentally unchanging. What has happened before will perforce happen again, he said. I think of that whenever I contemplate the Crow’s Eye. Euron Greyjoy sounds queerly like Urron Greyiron to these old ears.

James Rigney is the real name of Robert Jordan, and so Martin cleverly used the name Rigney here while he is talking about history (time) being a wheel. Some of the main heroes and villains in the Wheel of Time are fairly literal reincarnations of past characters, and in the end are primarily concerned with righting the wrongs of events from 3,000 years ago. Martin has borrowed many things from Jordan, who Martin admired and respected a great deal, and many of those things have to do with the “wheel of time” idea. For example, Martin’s “Azor Ahai reborn” is in some sense a less literal version of Robert Jordan’s “the dragon reborn,” an identity one of the main protagonists wears, and the Dothraki Mother of Mountains is an obvious parallel to Dragonmount, a similarly-shaped and similarly-isolated mountain where this “dragon reborn” character both died in the past and is reborn as a baby in the present.

Martin has also imagined the deeper concept of cyclical time and historical events as a dragon-shaped ouroboros, which he placed in the sigil of House Toland of Dorne. This next quote is from an Arianne chapter of AFFC, and you may recognize it, as it is the first quote in my very first essay, Astronomy Explains the Legends of Ice and Fire! This is Arianne, speaking to Arys Oakheart of her fear that her brother desires to steal her birthright as ruler of Dorne:

“Have you ever seen the arms of House Toland of Ghost Hill?”

He had to think a moment. “A dragon eating its own tail?”

“The dragon is time. It has no beginning and no ending, so all things come round again. Anders Yronwood is Criston Cole reborn. He whispers in my brother’s ear that he should rule after my father, that it is not right for men to kneel to women . . . that Arianne especially is unfit to rule, being the willful wanton that she is.”

This is almost Martin allowing us to see behind the curtain here – it’s as if Arianne is showing us how to analyze ASOIAF. ‘Consider the characters in the main story as parallels of those from history and legend,’ she’s telling us, ‘because all things come round again.’ It’s a major clue from Martin to us readers, and it certainly helped me make sense of what I had found when I discovered Daenerys acting out the Qarthine “dragons come from the second moon” legend even while she fulfills the prophecy of Azor Ahai’s rebirth by waking the dragons from stone under a bleeding star. In other words, I found this major, clear-cut echo between this pivotal scene at the climax of the first book and a legend Daenerys had heard earlier in the book, which is also a fulfillment of ancient prophecy, and then I read the quote about House Toland’s time dragon eating its own tail and it clicked. Martin is indeed creating stories that eat their own tail! He’s weaving parallels between the major events of the ancient past and the current plot, and he’s using symbolism and archetypes and metaphorical drama plays to do it. This understanding is the backbone of all Mythical Astronomy research.

One of the most obvious such parallels is probably this very prologue of AGOT. We don’t know it when we first read it, because we haven’t heard the story of the last hero yet, but Ser Waymar’s fight against the Others does of course turn out to have clear echoes of the legend of the last hero. It’s not a perfect match, but at this point, after reading and rereading the series a few times as most of us have, we can certainly recognize the idea of a man of the Night’s Watch searching deep into the cold dead lands and bravely confronting the Others alone, only to have his sword break from the cold of their magic.

This parallel is deepened by the fact that Ser Waymar Royce has many parallels to Jon Snow, the most likely candidate for a re-casting of the last hero’s cold journey into the dead lands to face the Others. Here I will point you to Joe Magicians’s video on Waymar Royce for further information, and don’t forget the great follow-up livestream he did with myself and Bookshelf Stud! Point being, Waymar’s description matches Jon’s almost perfectly, and that seems to be clearly intentional.

Now Bran does have parallels to the last hero as well, as we have discussed, but consider the simple fact that Waymar is a Jon parallel, and that Jon is set up to be a new last hero – it highlights Waymar’s last hero-ness in this prologue seen all the more.

So – we should start back. It’s a meta-commentary on how we should treat ASOIAF: we should start back on the re-read as soon as we finish, just like the reader of Finnegan’s Wake. We should start back, and when we do, we should remember that time is a circle, and we should look for repeating events.

The Inverted Ballad of the Last Hero

In addition to looking for repeated events as we start back on our re-reads of ASOIAF, we’ve learned to look for what are called “inverted parallels” – a thing, place, person, or event that matches another, only flipped or inverted in some major way. The Others and the Black Brothers are a great example of inverted parallels, which is spelled out in this chapter – the Others are twice called watchers, while the Night’s Watch are the “watchers on the wall.” Both are brotherhoods of dudes who cannot or should not have children. Both are shadows, but the Others are called pale shadows and white shadows, while the brothers are called black shadows. The Others use magical ice weapons, while the Night’s Watch ideally uses dragonglass, a magical fire weapon. And so on.

In fact, ice and fire are the biggest inverted parallels in the story, as we have discussed extensively in the Moons of Ice and Fire series and elsewhere. Jojen’s famous quote encapsulates it perfectly: “If ice can burn, then love and hate can mate.” He’s setting up ice and fire as yin and yang, but pointing out that there’s a bit of yin in yang and vise-versa; ice can burn, yes, and fire can be frozen, a la “frozen fire,” the other name for dragonglass or obsidian. We don’t need to get lost in that discussion, but the point is that this sort of up and down, forward and backward symmetry is found all throughout ASOIAF, at scales both large and small.

When I say ‘forward and backward” symmetry, I’m actually referring to a deeper truth here. I think by now we all understand that the main events of the Long Night drama involving Azor Ahai, Nissa Nissa, the last hero, and whatever else will be echoed in some fashion at the conclusion of ASOIAF, and it seems very possible that our main heroes will be looking to somehow reconcile the sins of the past with their actions in the present. In other words, it would make sense if we see inverted echoes of the past – that might make more sense that repeating the sins of the past, right?  It might make more sense to see the events of the past somehow reversed, so that it ends up more like an image in a mirror, identical but flipped around in terms of left-to-right or forwards and backwards.

We might perhaps see the roles of ice and fire flipped around, or we could see a female Azor Ahai like Daenerys reforge a magic sword with the sacrifice of a male Nissa Nissa, like Drogo, and… oh, we already saw that. Hat tip to Ravenous Reader for this find – there is indeed a gender flipped thing going on at the alchemical wedding. Even as Dany is Nissa Nissa, symbolically dying to birth Lightbringer and wandering to close the fire of her solar king, Khal Drogo, she is also forging Lightbringer – the dragons – in the chest cavity of Drogo, from which the eggs hatch. Dany also inserts the phallic symbol of the burning torch into the pyre to light it, another sign of her playing the Azor Ahai role here. This gender-flipped layer is more subtle, but it’s there, and I’d not be shocked to see it happen again at the end, with Jon perhaps playing a Nissa Nissa role and giving up his last breath to help Daenerys finish whatever Azor Ahai reborn business needs finishing.

Anything is possible… but think about it: whatever the last hero did may have ended the Long Night and beaten back the Others for the moment – okay, well for 8,000 years, which ain’t bad – but it didn’t permanently solve the problem. It’s very possible that simply repeating the actions of the last hero or Azor Ahai or whomever isn’t going to cut it. We may see something more like an inverted or mirrored parallel to the events of the “original sins” of the Long Night instead.

In fact, the moment of “starting back” creates this mirror image – the moment at which you start back, retracing your steps, is the moment you pivot, as if you had run into a mirror and bounced off, reversing your steps like a tape played backwards. As Rusted Revolver and others have found, that “start back” moment turns out to be a recurring device Martin uses in the plot arcs of his character to pinpoint the moment the begin their redemption arc and start atoning for the sins of their past.

A great example of this is Jaime and his weirwood stump dream, where he and Brienne wield twin flaming swords in a watery underworld beneath the dream version of Casterly Rock. This is the moment of reflection and pivoting for Jaime, the moment when he starts back. Upon waking, he quite literally starts back, retracing his path from the day before back to Harrenhal to rescue Brienne from the bear pit, thus taking the first baby steps on the path of potential redemption, though it may have setbacks and asterisks and all kinds of needed commentary about narcissism and all the rest. Nevertheless, this is his “start back” moment and many characters have equivalent scene – or even more than one, as is the case with Jaime.

You can see how useful this kind of literary device might be to an author so obviously interested in conflicted characters with redemption arcs. Even the doomed characters often have a start back opportunity that Martin plants a flag on, only to have the main character dash by, heedless. If you’re thinking of Quentyn Martell and the people who advise him to turn back… you’re on the right track. And here’s the point: the book begins with one such moment, with Gared advising Waymar to start back and go no further. Heedless, Waymar plows on to his doom, but the fact the series opens on one of these moments is something we are meant to notice.

With that mirroring concept in mind in regards to the “we should start back” line which begins AGOT, let’s think in totality about the ballad of Ser Waymar that is told in that prologue. As I mentioned, it seems to have some of the main elements of the first part of the last hero story: we have a Night’s Watchman who is a stand-in for a Stark facing the Others alone, with his sword breaking and his companions nowhere to be seen. But the last hero story doesn’t stop there; we know he gets help of some kind from the children of the forest and reemerges again leading the Night’s Watch with his blade of dragonsteel, which the Others supposedly could not stand against.  Waymar does no such thing – his sword breaks, then he dies and gets cold-wighted and joins the army of the dead.

Now of course you all know about my green zombies theory, which stipulates that the last hero and his twelve companions all died, but were resurrected to become zombie Night’s Watchmen like Coldhands, or like Jon will become soon. So perhaps Waymar’s resurrection – especially with his Odin-like, one-eyed status – is a clue about a resurrected last hero. It’s a fairly well-hidden clue, though, as undead Waymar is playing for team Others and won’t be fighting against them any time soon. He doesn’t get a new sword, and won’t be leading the Watch or ending any Long Nights. Still, it’s like a last hero echo which simply ended in the middle, with Waymar not quite measuring up where the last hero did, or as Jon may yet.

In fact, the moment of Waymar’s enslavement by the blue star-eye magic of the Others, the moment where he seems to diverge from the last hero story, represents the start back moment of the last hero story, the pivot point at which his story begins to go backwards and mirror itself. Consider: the last hero journeys into the cold lands searching for the children of the forest, but the Others chase him and his friends die, and his sword breaks. Then, everything reverses itself – he gets a new sword somehow, either replacing or reforging his broken sword; he gains new companions, as we are told of him leading the Night’s Watch into battle with his new Dragonsteel sword; and instead of running from the Others, he’s now pursuing them. If those new companions were indeed his original twelve raised from the dead as I propose, then it’s really and truly a reversal of the first part of the story, with his friends (and the last hero himself) coming back to life.

Just to put it in even simpler terms, and this is incorporating the green zombie theory:

  • set out into cold dead lands
  • chased by Others
  • friends die
  • sword breaks
  • death
  • MID POINT: mysterious cotf help
  • resurrection
  • new sword
  • friends come back to life
  • chasing the Others
  • return from cold dead lands, victory parade

If the Waymar prologue is the first half of the last hero story, where can we find the template for the second half, the one we want to know about? Well, I expect we will see it when Jon wakes up! His Ceasar-like stabbing murder by multiple black brothers is somewhat similar to Waymar being stabbed by a group of white walkers, as I discussed with Joe Magician on his livestream a few weeks ago. Notably, the last words of both chapters is “cold.” Waymar’s prologue chapter, which is told from Will’s perspective, ends with

They were gloved in the finest moleskin and sticky with blood, yet the touch was icy cold.

While Jon’s assassination chapter at the end of ADWD ends with

When the third dagger took him between the shoulder blades, he gave a grunt and fell face-first into the snow. He never felt the fourth knife. Only the cold …

Stabbed Jon evens falls “face-first into the snow” here, just as  Waymar falls “face-down in the snow.” Another comparison is that Will is murdered by the newly-wighted Waymar – he’s killed by his fellow black brother, in other words, just as Jon was killed by his fellow black brothers. And just as resurrected Jon may be killing a few of those conspirators when he wakes up!

That aside, resurrection is really the ultimate “start back” moment. Jon’s resurrection definitely qualifies, and I think we can expect it to imitate that mysterious “start back” pivot point of the last hero journey where he receives the unspecified help from the children of the forest and starts to turn things around. According to green zombie theory, that would be the point where he is resurrected and made into a super-soldier to fight the Others, which is pretty much what we expect from undead wolf-man Jon, a lot of ass-kicking. The major things Jon does after this point should tell us a lot about the remainder of the last hero story, and remembering that the last hero seems to had led the Watch in to the War for the Dawn after getting resurrected, I’d not be surprised to see Jon eventually assembling a crew to journey into the cold dead lands (which by that time might be everything north of Winterfell). In fact, I think Jon’s resurrection will also be a start back moment in that he will be somewhat freed of his duties as a Night’s Watchman and will return to Winterfell, where he began his journey, only to eventually go out and fight the Others at the end as we all expect him to.

Bran, who, again has last hero symbolism, has a similar moment too I’d like to mention. While he’s in Bloodraven’s cave in ADWD, learning how to be a greenseer and eating his friend (sorry), he talks about starting back:

Some days Bran wondered if all of this wasn’t just some dream. Maybe he had fallen asleep out in the snows and dreamed himself a safe, warm place. You have to wake, he would tell himself, you have to wake right now, or you’ll go dreaming into death. Once or twice he pinched his arm with his fingers, really hard, but the only thing that did was make his arm hurt.

Bran is imagining himself lying in the snow – like dead Waymar or dead Jon – and fears he’s about to die while stuck in this ‘dream’ of being a greenseer in a cave. He tries wake himself from this supposed dream and go back to his body, lying in the snow back home, so he can get up out of the snow and start back home, just like Jon or Waymar rising from the snow after their resurrection. Bran isn’t dreaming, of course – at least, he is really in Bloodraven’s cave, although from there he is green-dreaming. And really, he is still ‘under the snow and dreaming,’ since the cave is in the far north and it’s beneath ground buried in snow. Accordingly, most of us do expect Bran to leave that cave and eventually start back to Winterfell, at which he point he will parallel Jon and Waymar waking up from the snow to begin mirroring their previous events or journey.

There’s another layer here too: Bran is wondering if he’s lying in the snow and dreaming he’s in a weirwood cave, while as of ADWD Jon’s body is actually lying dead in the snow… but Jon’s spirit is inside Ghost, the weirwood-colored wolf. Symbolically, being inside Ghost is very like being inside a weirwood cave! And as you know, I hypothesize that the original last hero’s spirit was temporarily preserved in either the weirwoodnet itself or in their skinchanger bonded animal like Jon. The last hero’s resurrection may well have taken place in a weirwood root cave, or in a weirwood grove like the grove of nine.

So that’s cool, right? The last hero story has a start back mirroring-point, even more so if the green zombies theory is true (and I am pretty confident in that one, as much as anything else). Waymar seems to show us the first half in the prologue, and we should expect to see the second half when Jon wakes up, and perhaps when Bran leaves the cave. And all of this – the entire concept of starting back and inverted parallels – all of these ideas are seeded in that first sentence of the prologue. “We should start back.”

Now, there’s one more layer of this start back thing, and it’s perhaps the most wicked of all. Rusted Revolver and Ravenous have been fascinated with this start back concept for a while now, and have been pursuing it heavily. While I’ve been very busy working on my own scripts, I’ve also been keeping track of their research, and while I was studying this AGOT prologue for the livestream I did on Joe Magician’s channel as a follow-up to his Waymar video, something clicked. Start back… start back… what if you reversed the order of events in the prologue? Sort of… read it backwards? What if you reached the end, and then started back, retracing your steps through the chapter?

Well, let me tell you. It’s a thing, as I like to say, a thing that George R. R. Martin has done. I’ll let you judge for yourselves, and you do have understand the basic ideas I’ve laid out in my various compendiums regarding Azor Ahai, Nissa Nissa, their connections to the weirwoods, and that sort of thing for it to make total, perfect sense. But I think it makes sense, and the myth heads are on board, so lets take a look.

First, before we read it backwards, we actually need to read it forwards. At least, we need to go through the main events and outline both how they demonstrate the basic mythical astronomy pattern of sun and comet killing moon to make moon meteor Lightbringers as well as how the people involved fit the archetypal roles of Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa. Even though I just said that Waymar’s arc echoes the first half of the last hero’s journey, which it does, there is also a more detailed template of both sky and ground versions of Lightbringer’s forging written into the chapter. Let’s have a look at that, then will hold our copies of AGOT up to the mirror and read the text backwards… no wait, don’t do that. That’s not what I meant. Just hold on and I will take care of it.

Let’s Start Forwards

I’m calling this section “the forwards reading,” but what it really is is the mythical astronomy layer, and we just aren’t reading backwards yet. The astronomy layer is hidden underneath the action in the fight scene, and it’s a bit tricky because the original Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa forging of Lightbringer and its corresponding celestial events are fiery affairs through and through, while this prologue takes place in the frozen north. There’s also no women anywhere to be seen, so someone with a penis is going to have to play the Nissa Nissa role, I’m afraid. It’ll be like a Monty Python episode though, it’ll be great.

In all seriousness, the we do know that the celestial pattern of ‘sun and comet kill moon to make fiery moon meteors’ can manifest as all manner of interpersonal dramas, and sometimes the person playing the fire moon role which we normally think of as Nissa Nissa is a man. For example, take Gregor Clegane when he fought Oberyn Martel in that famous duel full of mythical astronomy symbolism. He did a couple of things that reminded us of Nissa Nissa – George threw in that line about Oberyn and Gregor being close enough to kiss, for example – but for the most part we thought of Gregor as the fire moon in that fight, and that’s kind of what appears to be happening here.

Now the primary “forwards reading” of the action, irrespective of astronomy symbolism, is what we’ve been talking about; Waymar as the last hero confronting the Others. But within that drama is also tucked the basics of the Long Night sun-kill-moon scenario and the story of Nissa Nissa and Azor Ahai, as I was saying. The first step is to identify the players – who is the sun? Who is the moon? Who is Nissa Nissa, and who is Azor Ahai? Well, I’ve long pondered the question, and it wasn’t until I revisited the prologue recently and then began looking at it in reverse that I have found the answers, and I also have to give a ton of credit to all the myth heads who helped me hash this out in the past weeks. I think I was struggling at first because I was trying to figure it out with only symbolic, astronomy-based analysis, and the astronomy symbolism in this chapter is actually a bit scattered about. But when I honed in on the narrative dynamic of the characters involved, that’s when it really made sense to me.

Let’s take it from the beginning and you will see how this works. I’m also going to divide this forwards reading into sub sections for clarity, as there is just a damn lot going on and there’s a bunch of stuff from other chapters we have to mention too because it ties in to this or that thing. Hopefully breaking it up into sub-sections will make it easier.

Wayzor Ahaimar 

First of all, if Waymar is the last hero in one sense, he’s the obvious candidate to play the role of Azor Ahai in any sort of Azor Ahai – Nissa Nissa action. If you’ve watched Joe Magician’s “The Killing of a Ranger,” and maybe even if you haven’t, you know about the many correlations between Waymar and Jon Snow, and that’s another tip-off that Waymar is likely to be the Azor Ahai figure. Indeed, I can say without reservation that this turns out to be the case, hence the title Wayzor Ahaimar, which I chose to go with over Azorway Marahai for whatever reason.

If you’ve listened to or read Blood of the Other 4: The Long Night Was His to Rule, then you will also recall that Waymar correlates very strongly not only to Jon, but also to Euron Crowseye and Aemond “One-Eye” Targaryen, the latter being a figure from the Targaryen civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons. There are several correlations between these figures, but the most important one is the sky map face, which, if you remember anything from that episode, it was probably the sky map face. In brief: Waymar, Euron, and Aemond One-Eye all have a face which symbolizes the sky and a pair of eyes which symbolize the moons of ice and fire. Waymar and Euron in particular are an exact match. Waymar’s bloody and blinded eye and Euron’s Blood Eye that he keeps under the patch represent the slain fire moon, the one which gave up its waves of night and moon blood when it died. Waymar and Euron both pair this blood eye with a blue eye – Euron’s blue eye is called his smiling eye, while Waymar’s is animated with cold blue star fire, and of course this eye would represent the ice moon.

We’ll get into that in more detail in bit, but my point in mentioning it now is that Euron and Aemond One Eye – and to a lesser extent Jon – all manifest symbolism which we would describe as evil Azor Ahai / Bloodstone Emperor / Night’s King symbolism. Setting aside the specific question of whether Azor Ahai himself became Night’s King or whether it might have been his son or brother or something else, we have seen enough evidence to be confident of a direct link between Azor Ahai, wielder of Lightbringer and slayer of Nissa Nissa, and Night’s King – with the important qualification that our mythical astronomy conception of Night’s King is slightly counter to the official legend in that the symbolic evidence seems to indicate Night’s King as having lived during the Long Night and not after.

All of which is to say that Waymar’s symbolism correlates very strongly to characters who manifest a range of Azor Ahai, Bloodstone Emperor, and Night’s King symbolism, and therefore it makes sense to look at Waymar as the Azor Ahai figure in this prologue drama play. Call him “The Runestone Emperor,” if you wish.

When we take a look at the surface level narrative of the conversation between the three rangers as the chapter opens, ‘Wayzor Ahaimar’ starts making a lot more sense. Gared and eventually Will are arguing for starting back to Castle Black, while Waymar wants to push on. Gared and Will are very in tune with the forest, being seasoned rangers and skilled woodsman, while Waymar is a richly dressed and entitled Lordling out on his first ranging, one which he commands solely on the merits of his high birth. He’s struggling with the woods, and yet boldly forcing those who know the woods to lead him on.

To me, it reads very like Azor Ahai forcing an unwilling Nissa Nissa to let him into the weirwoodnet, and the narrative bears this out.

Waymar is also showing that he knows no fear, a signature Azor Ahai / Night’s King trait. Recall that Old Nan says Night’s King was “a warrior who knew no fear. ‘And that was the fault in him,’ she would add, ‘for all men must know fear’.”  Regarding the corpse queen and Night’s King, Old Nan also says that “fearing nothing, he chased her and caught her and loved her..” After the opening lines where Gared urges Waymar to start back because all the wildlings are dead, Waymar retorts with

“Do the dead frighten you?” Ser Waymar Royce asked with just the hint of a smile.

Gared did not rise to the bait. He was an old man, past fifty, and he had seen the lordlings come and go. “Dead is dead,” he said. “We have no business with the dead.”

Death is one of the things people fear the most, and here is Waymar, giving the dead a defiant, cocksure smile. After Will offers that his mother told him that “dead men sing no songs,” Waymar famously answers

“My wet nurse said the same thing, Will,” Royce replied. “Never believe anything you hear at a woman’s tit. There are things to be learned even from the dead.” His voice echoed, too loud in the twilit forest.

Easy there mister necromancer guy! Now in this case, learning from the dead refers to simple detective work, really, but it does kind of give off a Bloodstone Emperor necromancer vibe – especially since we know Waymar will soon rise from the dead with a cold blue star eye version of Odin face. Anyway – anywaymar – he doesn’t fear the dead, and much like Robert laughing too loudly in the Winterfell crypts, Waymar’s pronouncements echo “too loud in the twilight forest.” It’s the first hint that Waymar is an intruder here in the woods, just as Azor Ahai is an intruder inside the weirwoodnet.

Next, Gared cautions that they have an eight or nine day ride to get back to the Wall, and that night is falling; in response Waymar taunts Gared, asking if he is “unmanned by the dark.” Wayzor Ahaimar, lord of night, is of course not scared of the dark. He does not fear death or the fall of night – he in fact revels and takes power from those things.

After this we get the fearful musings of Will, our POV for the prologue, which are centered around the creepy feeling he and Gared are getting from the woods – a feeling Waymar is oblivious to, of course. This can’t be emphasized enough; Will and Gared are in tune with the woods, with its trees rustling “like living things” in the cold north wind, while Waymar is heedless, haughty, and too bold by half. In the end, it will be the shadows emerging from the dark of the wood who will convert the hostility of the forest into violence and teach this young lord a sharp lesson.

It is at this point that we get a detailed description of the Lordly Ser Waymar, and most of it screams out “Night’s King / dark solar king.” First we read that he’s “a handsome youth of eighteen, grey-eyed and graceful and slender as a knife.” All of the black brothers have black sword and black knife symbolism, as they are the swords in the darkness who always wear black and wield black knives and swords against the Others, so Waymar is kind of prototypical for the watch in his knife-like nature. And as we know, the dark solar king archetype strongly identifies with the black meteors, which are like black swords and black dragons. This is nowhere more evident in the figure Waymar is paralleling, Jon Snow, who is himself compared to a dragonglass knife, so this all fits pretty well.

It says that “mounted on his destrier, the knight towered above Will and Gared on their smaller garrons,” which creates the image of Waymar as a black tower or shadow tower. That’s a recognizable motif we have seen many times which alludes to the towering columns of dark smoke that would have snaked upward into the sky from the meteor impacts. Think of Harrenhal’s Kingspyre Tower – that’s kind of the perfect distillation of the black tower of smoke symbol, especially since it was burned and melted by the incomparable fires of Balerion the Black Dread, so much so that it now appears “lopsided beneath the weight of the slagged stone that made it look like some giant half-melted black candle.” Say… wait a minute. A tower that is a pyre and a black candle? Sounds like a unification of glass candles and smokey pyres – and that makes sense, because you can see visions both “in the flames” as Melisandre does or through the use of a lit glass candle. Comparing the black tower to a black candle, and thus to a dragonglass knife, also shows you that towers and swords can often be interchangeable as symbols, something we see with the White Sword Tower of the Kingsguard or the Palestone Sword Tower at Starfall. Finally, taking note of the fact that Waymar was compared to a knife and a tower in rapid succession.

Next up is the famous description of his sable cloak, and that is essentially the same waves of darkness and night symbolism:

His cloak was his crowning glory; sable, thick and black and soft as sin. “Bet he killed them all himself, he did,” Gared told the barracks over wine, “twisted their little heads off, our mighty warrior.” They had all shared the laugh.

If the smoke columns that rise from the impact locations can be symbolized by black towers, the smoke and darkness that spreads out from the exploding moon itself is most often represented by the black crown symbol. The black crown is a deliberate inversion of the golden crown of solar kings, and it is the waves of darkness from the moon which turn the actual sun dark during the Long Night. The sable cloak unites those ideas, being Waymar’s “crowning glory”; it’s both a black crown and a billowing cloak of darkness. It’s “soft as sin,” because of course the acts which caused the Long Night are like the original sin of ASOIAF.

These ideas are built on a couple of pages later when Waymar reaches the clearing and finds it empty:

He stood there beside the sentinel, longsword in hand, his cloak billowing behind him as the wind came up, outlined nobly against the stars for all to see.

Waymar’s sable cloak of darkness is blotting out the stars, billowing out from him like a tower of smoke. We can essentially think of this cloak of darkness as the skin of the slain moon, because it comes off of the moon when it is destroyed. The cloak of darkness is the dust and smoke and debris of the moon itself, so the cloak is essentially made up of the moon’s ‘corpse.’ It is the solar king who puts on this dark cloak, thereby transforming himself into the dark solar king and eventually the Night’s King.

Notice the exchange a moment ago in reference to the cloak where Gared had joked about how Waymar must have “twisted their heads off” himself – sable is a word used for the species of marten from which sable cloaks are made. That’s right, it’s a small furry mammal with our author’s name, laugh it up.

Point being, the idea of the cloak being a stolen skin is emphasized here with their discussion, and this is a classic depiction of the actual mechanics which caused the darkness of the Long Night – the sun putting on the dark cloak of the burnt and broken moon.

Now here comes the trippy part, so pay close attention: because the moon correlates to Nissa Nissa, the cloak of darkness that comes from the moon can be seen as the skin of Nissa Nissa as well. What do I mean by that? Well, Nissa Nissa becomes the weirwood after she dies, and then the greenseer wears that skin by skinchanging the tree, as greenseers do…. and even though the trees are white, the greenseer sits in darkness and wears it like a cloak. Recall Bloodraven’s words to Bran:

Darkness will be your cloak, your shield, your mother’s milk. Darkness will make you strong.

That’s pretty straightforward, now isn’t it! Now I’m not saying Bran is the Night’s King, although Night’s King was surely a greenseer. What I am saying is that in every sense, the symbol of the dark cloak comes from things that symbolize Nissa Nissa – namely, from the moon and the weirwood trees. The moon’s dark cloak covers the sun and the world, and the greenseer wears the tree as a cloak of darkness when they enter the weirwoodnet. Azor Ahai broke the moon, unleashing the great darkness, and this act seems to connected to his attempt to gain access to the weirwoodnet and wear its cloak of darkness.

That’s what Waymar is showing us here too. He’s going to do some symbolic Nissa Nissa killing in a moment, he’s got his sable-skin cloak which blots out the stars, and he’s on a fast track to acquiring some “fire of the gods” greenseer symbolism.

The symbolism of the sable cloak really explodes when we compare Waymar to Euron Greyjoy, who likes to wear a sable cloak… and an eye-patch… and nothing else. Yeah, sorry for that. He took his sable cloak from Baelor Blacktyde, whom he murdered for reasons of cruelty, religious intolerance, and symbolism. (chuckles) The fact that the black cloak comes from someone named Blacktyde really spells out the waves of night symbolism of the sable cloak, so you gotta like that. And once again, we see the implication of the sable cloak as something the Night’s King figure gains by killing someone and stealing it from them.

That someone should be a Nissa Nissa figure, so let’s consider Baelor Blacktyde. The Blacktyde sigil is a pattern of green and black, a depiction of a black tide on a green sea. Symbolically, it’s a blend of the waves of night symbol and the green sea symbol, which… makes perfect sense for a Nissa Nissa figure. Baelor himself is a godly man who was named for an extremely godly man, Baelor the Blessed. It is in part for his worship of the Seven that Euron singles him out for murder:

Nightflyer was seized, Lord Blacktyde delivered to the king in chains. Euron’s mutes and mongrels had cut him into seven parts, to feed the seven green land gods he worshiped.

Forget for a moment the fact that the phrase “green land gods” refers to the Faith of the Seven when coming out of the mouth of an Ironborn. Think about Baelor as a holy person who worships green land gods, which fits the presence of the green sea in his sigil. This devout green god worshiper is murdered, and their black cloak is stolen by the Night’s King… this is lining up very well with the Nissa Nissa symbolism we just discussed. Notice the line about Baelor being cut up “to feed” the green land gods – it reminds you of making human sacrifice to the weirwoods, certainly.

There’s another Nissa Nissa trapped in the weirwoodnet clue here in the name of Baelor Blacktyde’s ship, Nightflyer, one which you may know if you have watched Joe Magician’s amazing video about Whisperjewels (I know, lots of Joe Magician love today). In one of Martin’s older works, Nightflyers, there is a spaceship called a Nightflyer which essentially absorbs the consciousness of a dead female character by means of a crystal technology called a whisperjewel.  Point being, this seems to be something Martin drew on when he imagined Nissa Nissa a woman who dies, but whose mind inhabits some very important thing. The weirwoodnet is obviously standing in for the Nightflyer spaceship, which works very well since we know Martin thinks about the weirwoods as astral projection ships which the greenseer uses to sail the river of time and space.

We also know that Martin has applied literal ship symbolism to the weirwoods as well; the supposed rib bones of the sea dragon Nagga are really the petrified wooden beams of a flipped over boat made from weirwood; and burning boats and ships are used to represent the weirwoods as a fire that consumes those who wish to sail the green see.

Think about it like this: we have already found our way to the idea that Nissa Nissa’s consciousness transfers to the weirwoodnet when she dies, which makes the weirwood a device very similar to the whisperjewels that power the Nightflyer ship and store this woman’s consciousness. Martin named Baelor’s ship after the Nightflyer spaceship, and we know that Martin is using the ship metaphor for the weirwoods. Now we have this dark Azor Ahai / Night’s King figure, Euron, killing someone by feeding them to the green land gods and taking their Nightflyer ship, after which Euron puts on darkness as a cloak, as the greenseer does.

It really seems like George is saying to us that when evil Azor Ahai invades the weirwoodnet, that is something like stealing a spaceship that contains Nissa Nissa’s consciousness. That’s what Joe Magician and I concluded: the weirwoods are functioning like whisperjewels; and just like the Nightflyer ship, the weirwoodnet is inhabited by and even powered by the consciousness of a dead woman. After Azor Ahai the naughty greenseer kills Nissa Nissa and send her into the trees, he can then wear Nissa Nissa’s “weirwood skin” as a cloak of darkness, just like Euron wearing Baelor’s sable cloak and sailing his Nightflyer ship.

As I mentioned at the top, Euron’s one-eye Odin status is a kind of greenseer symbolism anyway, so all of this stuff about him killing Baelor and taking his black cloak and ship being suggestive of greenseer symbolism is really just a compliment to that more obvious one eye thing he has going on. It does however fill out the symbolism of Waymar’s sable cloak very nicely.

That’s an awful lot of symbolism for one sable cloak, I know, but you have to admit Martin pays it a lot of attention in the Waymar prologue. Plus, Nissa Nissa going into the weirwoodnet turns out to be a major symbolic theme of this chapter, so it’s worth digressing a bit… and as you are about to see, all the symbolism related to Euron’s sable cloak applies to Waymar in this chapter. Just as Euron is trying to force his way into becoming a god, and just like Azor Ahai was trying to force his way into the weirwoodnet, Waymar of the sinful black crown sable cloak is forcing his way into the woods against the will of his guides.

One of those guides should represent Nissa Nissa, and I am here to tell you that it is Will, or as we shall call him…

Willsa Willsa

After the detailed description of Ser Waymar and his glorious sable cloak, we get some important symbolic info on the weirwood goddess Willsa Willsa:

Will had been a hunter before he joined the Night’s Watch. Well, a poacher in truth. Mallister freeriders had caught him red-handed in the Mallisters’ own woods, skinning one of the Mallisters’ own bucks, and it had been a choice of putting on the black or losing a hand. No one could move through the woods as silent as Will, and it had not taken the black brothers long to discover his talent.

Although both Gared and Will are veteran rangers, Will is singled out for his exceptional woodscraft; no one can move as silently through the woods as him. That’s a good way of implying him as a native of the forest – a child of the forest figure, in other words, as we believe Nissa Nissa to be. Will was caught “red handed” in the woods belonging to a high lord – Lord Mallister to be exact. ‘Caught red handed in the woods’ is an obvious euphemism for being caught in the weir of the weirwood trees, with their red leaves like bloody hands. The possible penalty of Will having his hand chopped off further ties the red hand symbolism to Will and shows that he is becoming part of the weirwood tree, his hands red like those of the tree. Skinning a stag is somewhat ambiguous, though it seems to be a reference to skin changing and horned lords – I would read it as Azor Ahai, the stag, being sacrificed so he can slip his skin and enter the weirwood tree, which is an avatar of Nissa Nissa.

And finally, consider House Mallister, with their silver eagle on purple sigil, their house words “Above the Rest,” and their keep named Seaguard. I’m not positive, but this could be a reference to the eagle at the top of the Yggdrasil tree, with the name “Seaguard” alluding to the idea of the weirwoods guarding the green see which exists inside the weirwoodnet. Also… Seaguard… see-garden? That’s for Rusted Revolver.

Will’s poacher status has to be examined too, because Martin has elsewhere indicated that the way the Lords claim ownership of the woods and then punish anyone who hunts without their leave is bogus and unfair. It’s actually the lordly Mallisters in the Azor Ahai role here, trying to steal the woods for themselves, and as it turns out, there seem to be intentional correlations drawn between Waymar and the Mallisters.

First of all, consider Lord Denys Mallister, a veteran of the Night’s Watch who commands the Shadow Tower. Wait a minute, didn’t fellow Night’s Watchmen and Lordling Waymar tower over his companions in all his black steel and clothing? And consider the description of Lord Denys from AFFC:

The commander of the Shadow Tower had been born beneath the Booming Tower of Seagard, and looked every inch a Mallister. Sable trimmed his collar and accented the sleeves of his black velvet doublet. A silver eagle fastened its claws in the gathered folds of his cloak. His beard was white as snow, his hair was largely gone, and his face was deeply lined, it was true. Yet he still had grace in his movements and teeth in his mouth, and the years had dimmed neither his blue-grey eyes nor his courtesy.

Sable collar, aye? Snowbeard, you don’t say, and what nice bright blue-grey eyes you have. In other words – and I’ve mentioned this before in the Blood of the Other series – Denys Mallister appears to have some icy, Otherish symbolism about him, just as resurrected Waymar does, and look! Sable! So when we read about Will being caught red handed by the Lord of Seaguard in the Lord’s own wood, I think we can indeed read that as Nissa Nissa being killed and turned into a red handed tree, with the sable-cloaked icy lord claiming dominion over the wood. Remember, the Night’s Watch is a kind of symbolic death sentence, and the original Night’s Watch, according to the green zombie theory, were resurrected people, so Lord Mallister really is handing the red-handed Will a symbolic death sentence.

To corroborate all of this, check out the narrative as Will and Waymar arrive at the empty clearing where the dead bodies of the wildlings are supposed to be.

The great sentinel was right there at the top of the ridge, where Will had known it would be, its lowest branches a bare foot off the ground. Will slid in underneath, flat on his belly in the snow and the mud, and looked down on the empty clearing below.

Will is sliding underneath a tree to see, like a greenseer sitting under a weirwood tree and using its magic to see. This is a sentinel tree, too, so the idea of watching and seeing is right in its name. But Nissa Nissa is supposed to die when she goes in the tree, right? Well, the next words after the paragraph I just quote are “his heart stopped in his chest. For a moment he dared not breathe.” Oh no, Willsa Willsa’s heart stopped when she used the tree to see. It happens again a moment later, the exact same sequence:

“On your feet, Will,” Ser Waymar commanded. “There’s no one here. I won’t have you hiding under a bush.”

Reluctantly, Will obeyed. Ser Waymar looked him over with open disapproval. “I am not going back to Castle Black a failure on my first ranging. We will find these men.” He glanced around. “Up the tree. Be quick about it. Look for a fire.”

Will turned away, wordless. There was no use to argue. The wind was moving. It cut right through him. He went to the tree, a vaulting grey-green sentinel, and began to climb. Soon his hands were sticky with sap, and he was lost among the needles. 

Not only a sentinel tree, but a vaulting grey-green sentinel, language that suggests the heavenly vault of the sky. As Will is forced to climb it against his will, the wind cuts right through him – it’s more Nissa Nissa stabbing language as the tree climbing happens, just like when Willsa Willsa’s heart stopped as he crawled beneath the tree to see. That’s a pretty sly one by Martin, huh? Elsewhere, on three occasions, all at the wall, he just comes right out and describes the cold wind as being like a knife, which is implied here as it cuts right through Will. His hands become sticky with tree sap, the equivalent of tree blood, and in a moment later he gets it on the side of his face too, completing the tree sap stigmata. He’s “lost among the needles,” very like Dany “losing herself in the green” of the Dothraki Sea, as we saw in Weirwood Compendium 7, and it conveys the same idea: Nissa Nissa dissolving into and merging with the weirwoodnet.

Best of all, Wayzor the Amayzor commanded him “up the tree” to look for fire!!

What kind of fire can you find by climbing a tree, I ask you? It’s right there on your mythical astronomy drinking game bingo card – the fire of the gods, of course. This is a great dramatization of Azor Ahai using the magical sacrifice of Nissa Nissa to gain access to the weirwood fire of the gods. I mean, it’s really vivid – I was a bit flabbergasted when I first caught that line, like “really, climb the tree and look for fire, right after something cuts through you? Lovely.”

You starting to see why I said Nissa Nissa dying and going into the trees is a major symbolic theme of this chapter, right? There was actually a tip-off about this back several pages, when Will is reporting everything he saw in the clearing to Waymar. Will says

“There’s one woman up an ironwood, half-hid in the branches. A far-eyes.” He smiled thinly. “I took care she never saw me. When I got closer, I saw that she wasn’t moving neither.” Despite himself, he shivered.

Look! It’s a dead woman in a tree that is a “far-eyes,” meaning a watcher or a lookout. It’s basically a simple diagram of what Will is about to do in the Nissa Nissa role: become a dead woman in a tree with very good vision… meaning a greenseer of course.

There’s even an extra layer of this drama play between Wayzor Ahai and Willsa Willsa that I found that made me crack a smile, because stabbing trees is always a little bit funny. These next lines come as Will is huddled beneath the branches of the sentinel looking down at the empty clearing:

“Gods!” he heard behind him. A sword slashed at a branch as Ser Waymar Royce gained the ridge. He stood there beside the sentinel, longsword in hand, his cloak billowing behind him as the wind came up, outlined nobly against the stars for all to see.

Ha ha, I punked you with a quote we just used a few minutes ago. Last time we were looking at the billowing cloak though, and this time we are noticing Waymar say “gods” as as he slashes a tree with his sword. I’ll say that again: from a certain point of view, he’s calling the tree a god as he stabs it with his sword. Of course we know the greenseer hive mind inside the weirwoodnet is referred to as the Old Gods, so that part makes sense, and if Nissa Nissa becomes merges with the weirwood tree, then stabbing the tree is kind of like stabbing Nissa Nisssa. Notably, this tree stabbing occurs in between the two depictions of Will dying and going into the tree – right after his heart stops as he crawls under it, and before the wind cuts through him as he climbs it looking for fire.

The other notable tree stabbing in ASOIAF brings us back to Harrenhal again, so we will pause the prologue for just a couple of minutes to visit. Significantly, we have to visit Harrenhal right before the all-important dragon battle of the Gods Eye with Daemon Targaryen and his red dragon Caraxes facing off against Aemond One-Eye and his (probably) white dragon, Vhagar. Its notable not only for Aemond One Eye’s presence, since he’s a Waymar parallel, but also because the battle itself takes place over the Gods Eye lake and thrice mimics the Gods Eye eclipse stabbing symbolism during the battle – once when Caraxes moves in front of the sun and then attacks from above, once when Daemon stabs Aemond in his star sapphire eye, and again when the dragons all crash into the lake itself.

It is against this backdrop that we see some first class tree-stabbing:

…Daemon Targaryen walked the cavernous halls of Harren’s seat alone, with no companion but his dragon. Each night at dusk he slashed the heart tree in the godswood to mark the passing of another day. Thirteen marks can be seen upon that weirwood still; old wounds, deep and dark, yet the lords who have ruled Harrenhal since Daemon’s day say they bleed afresh every spring.

On the fourteenth day of the prince’s vigil, a shadow swept over the castle, blacker than any passing cloud. All the birds in the godswood took to the air in fright, and a hot wind whipped the fallen leaves across the yard. Vhagar had come at last, and on her back rode the one-eyed prince Aemond Targaryen, clad in night-black armor chased with gold.

These two paragraphs are marvels of symbolism, and all of it enhances our understanding of the AGOT prologue. Taking the second paragraph first, our Night’s King figure Aemond makes a dramatic entrance on his symbolic ice dragon, hoary old Vhagar. The blackness of their shadow is emphasized (blacker than any passing cloud, evoking the black clouds symbol), as is Aemond’s night-black armor. This is just his version of Waymar’s crowning glory sable cloak, and indeed, Aemond had taken to wearing Aegon the Conqueror’s black crown at this point too. Finally, there’s a cryptic reference to the Nightfort here, home of Night’s King – Aemond shows up on the fourteenth day, and fourteen days is a fortnight; swap fort-night around and you have Night-fort. Hat-tip to Rusted Revolver for that one, and take my word for it that there are enough other examples of this wordplay out there to be confident in it.

The first paragraph, meanwhile, is straight up last hero stuff: thirteen bleeding sword wounds on the monstrous Harrenhal weirwood, with a very Azor Ahai-like Daemon using Dark Sister to stab the tree. The tree represents Nissa Nissa, so this is like Azor Ahai stabbing Nissa Nissa, yes – that was the original point of this comparison, tree-stabbing as a depiction of Azor and Nissa. But this tree-stabbing symbol is also a pretty clear reference to another myth about weirwoods and meteors, and that is the legend of the Storm God’s thunderbolt which set the tree ablaze. The sword is the thunderbolt meteor of course, and it’s striking a tree just as the thunderbolt does in the legend, and since Daemon is essentially carving the three with his thunderbolt dragon sword, we can infer once again that carving the faces and making the weirwoods inhabitable for humans is tied to the Long Night events. Caraxes also dives on Vhagar like a thunderbolt in the fight, a nice touch.

It’s important to keep in mind that Waymar slashing at a tree is as he approaches WIll hiding beneath the Sentinel is a parallel symbol to Waymar ordering Will up the tree while the wind cuts through him. You might imagine Azor Ahai stabbing Nissa Nissa while she’s backed up against a weirwood tree in fact – just like Asha Greyjoy tangled in the roots of a tree she is backed against when she is struck that famous blow that crackles up her leg like lightning. Point being, Nissa Nissa’s death and the symbolic lightning on fire of the weirwood tree are part of the same act.

So, Willsa Willsa has now died and merged with the tree, losing herself in the sap and foliage and becoming one with the weirwoodnet. The door to the weirwood fire of the gods is now wide open to Azor Ahai, and essentially this is what the burning tree symbol from the Grey King myth about. The burning tree represents the weirwood tree, yes, but specifically it represents the weirwoods in an activated state which gives man access to the fire of the gods. That’s what this sentinel tree symbolizes, now that Willsa Willsa has merged with it.

What’s great is that George creates a parallel symbol to this merged Willsa / sentinel tree in Waymar’s broken sword, the end of which is “splintered and twisted like a tree struck by lightning” at the end of the chapter. That’s right – the merged Will / sentinel tree is like a burning tree set ablaze by the godly thunderbolt, and Waymar’s sword is also like a tree struck by lightning. That makes a ton of sense if you think about the Azor Ahai myth – Nissa Nissa’s blood and strength and courage and soul all went in to the steel of Lightbringer, so that sword is Nissa Nissa, just as the symbolic burning tree struck by lightning, the weirwood, is also Nissa Nissa. I’ve long said the Lightbringer and the fire of the gods manifests as both the burning sword and the burning tree, and that they are interchangeable symbols, and here we have Nissa Nissa symbolized as both a tree person and a sword… but the sword is like a tree struck by lighting, very nice.  The guy climbing the tree even has a knife in his mouth!

More clues about Waymar’s sword representing Nissa Nissa and the breaking moon come in the fight against the Others itself, so let’s make this is a subsection break.

The Fight, and the Others

Time to talk about the Others! In terms of mythical astronomy correlations, we have pretty much exclusively talked about the Others as children of the ice moon – ice moon meteors, in other words. But guess what – here comes a curveball. The Others, with all their icy, white sword symbolism, can also symbolize the original comet, before it collides with the moon! Accordingly, white swords like Dawn can symbolize Lightbringer before it stabbed Nissa Nissa! I know, crazy, right?

Recall that Lightbringer is “white hot and smoking” before it stabs Nissa Nissa, and only thereafter becomes stained red with her fiery blood. It’s remembered as a red sword, but that’s only after it stabbed her… before that, it was white hot from the forge. The Others aren’t white hot, but then nothing burns like the cold, and they have a ton of white sword symbolism, as we know. Plus, “white ice sword” is actually a very good description of a comet, which are primarily made up of frozen rock, metal, and dirt, with tails that are usually whitish silver and light blue.

This is where the many similarities we’ve discovered between Dawn and the Others come into play – they’re about to help us solidify the Others as playing the role of white, pre-stabbing Lightbringer and the pre-impact comet. To whit: Dawn is a glowing white sword, pale as milkglass and alive with light, while the Others have milkglass bones, are milky white and sword slim themselves, and carry “pale swords” that are “alive with moonlight.” In other words, both the Others and their swords wear the same symbolism as the sword Dawn, the white sword that surely has something to do with Lightbringer. Therefore, I think it makes sense to see the Others as playing the role of the incoming Lightbringer comet.

And that’s what happens in this scene. Think about it – the shattering of Waymar’s sword and the wounding of his eye are basically the highlights of the astronomy symbolism of the chapter, and all of that is ‘precipitated’ by the white sword Other comes out of the darkness like a streaking white comet.

Similarly, we’ve also seen white sword Kingsguard knights, who parallel the Others very strongly, play the role of the white, pre-stabbing Lightbringer sword and comet. Arys Oakheart did it in Dorne, and although I haven’t covered this yet, Barristan Selmy does it in his ice dragon armor when he kills a couple of pit fighters in the heart of the pyramid at the moment the dragons are set free by Quentyn. It’s a bit of a side topic, but it’s a thing.

Even though Dawn has the same symbolism as the Others, it also makes sense to see Dawn as analogous to pre-stabbing Lightbringer. It may well be from the Great Empire of the Dawn, and may simply be a sword with similar technology to Azor Ahai’s Lightbringer, but which was not sullied with blood magic and turned red. Plus, a glowing white sword is not that far from a white-hot sword. And if there is a connection between Azor Ahai and the Bloodstone Emperor form the east and Night’s King in the north, it’s even conceivable that Dawn is both from the Great Empire of the Dawn and that it came to be remembered as the original Ice of House Stark.

It may have been the last hero’s dragonsteel sword, or even a sword wielded by Night’s King himself. After all, both swords in this Waymar vs the Other fight cold and pale; the Other’s “pale blade” is a shard of crystalline ice, while Waymar’s is white with frost near the end. The Other’s blade is “alive with moonlight,” and of Waymar’s blade it is said that “jewels glittered in its hilt, and the moonlight ran down the shining steel,” and then during the fight when Waymar holds it up for the Others’ inspection, it says:

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. 

They are both icy moonlight swords, is what I’m saying, and from a certain perspective you could even see this as a depiction of the the split comet idea – recall that my original theory postulates that we originally had one comet which split in half as it rounded the sun (a thing which happens in real life due to the sun’s gravity), just as solar king Twin splits Ice in half. One half of the comet would have hit the fire moon, while the other half would have just missed and continued on its orbit to return to us as the red comet we know and love… which is destined to hit the ice moon, if I am correct. The exploding sword is going to play the role of the moon meteor shower, but before that it may be a hint about two halves of an originally white comet. The Others do turn their swords red with Waymar’s blood at the end, just as the surviving comet would have been turned red, a la Tywin dying Ice red when he split it.

Anyway, we’ll come back to the Others in a moment, but let’s go back to Will up in the tree right before the Others appear. I mentioned that Will has a knife in his mouth as he climbs the tree; that actually comes in the lines right after the ones we quoted about Will climbing and losing himself in the needles. Picking back up:

Soon his hands were sticky with sap, and he was lost among the needles. Fear filled his gut like a meal he could not digest. He whispered a prayer to the nameless gods of the wood, and slipped his dirk free of its sheath. He put it between his teeth to keep both hands free for climbing. The taste of cold iron in his mouth gave him comfort.

Down below, the lordling called out suddenly, “Who goes there?” Will heard uncertainty in the challenge. He stopped climbing; he listened; he watched.

The woods gave answer: the rustle of leaves, the icy rush of the stream, a distant hoot of a snow owl.

The Others made no sound.

Will saw movement from the corner of his eye. Pale shapes gliding through the wood. He turned his head, glimpsed a white shadow in the darkness. Then it was gone.

Ravenous Reader’s killing word metaphor makes a strong showing here. Will has the knife in his mouth as he whispers a prayer to the “nameless gods of the wood,” but the nameless gods of the woods are actually the white walkers in this case, who have become avatars of the angry trees. Check out this quote:

Behind him, to right, to left, all around him, the watchers stood patient, faceless, silent, the shifting patterns of their delicate armor making them all but invisible in the wood. 

So, the old gods are nameless, and the Others are faceless – snd only a couple of chapters after this, Catelyn’s inner monologue ponders Ned’s Old Gods and calls them “the nameless, faceless gods of the greenwood they shared with the vanished children of the forest.” So, faceless, nameless gods of the wood, and faceless, nameless Others, the white walkers of the woods who are almost invisible in the woods, and they appear literally right after Will climbs the tree, prays, and puts the knife in his mouth. He has uttered the killing words, in other words, a kind of magical invocation which has called down the fire of the gods.

If we think about the Others as the comet, this sequence contains a mind-blowing revelation. Azor Ahai killed Nissa Nissa, Nissa Nissa merged with the weirwood… and her prayer called the comet! This is one of the possible sequences of Long Night causation we have been entertaining – the death of Nissa Nissa first, with the weirwood magic involved and the magic of her death sacrifice being used to call the comet or steer the comet. The original legend has Nissa Nissa’s cry of anguish cracking the moon, which isn’t a whole lot different from Willsa Willsa’s prayer calling in the Others. They are both examples of the killing word as something than can move the heavens, a topic we will explore further in the future when we talk about magic horns.

Another truth is revealed when we think about the Others as, well, the Others: it seems that the Others were somehow triggered by the invasion of Azor Ahai into the weirwoodnet. They seem like a manifestation of the dark id of the weirwoods, and they are not happy about being invaded. That’s what I take from the phrase “a shadow emerged from the dark of the wood.” The Others are like the shadow-selves of the trees, the equivalent of Forbidden Planet’s “monsters from the id.” All through this chapter, the woods and those who know the woods are begging Waymar to turn back. The branches claw at him, for crying out loud, but he forces Willsa Willsa to lead him into the wood, and as a result… the Others manifest. There is more to the secret of the creation of the Others, but that part at least seems spelled out here.

Another clue about the Others being a manifestation of the weirwoodnet comes when Gared gives his famously poetic speech about frostbite earlier in the chapter; he says the cold “sneaks up on you quieter than Will,” and this after saying “No one could move through the woods as silent as Will” just a moment earlier. But then, the Others appear and “make no sound,” just as the cold steals up on you quieter than Will. The Others are actually an extension of the will of the trees – I think that’s the message here.

Nissa Nissa’s cry of agony and ecstasy actually makes a strong showing here, and keep in mind that one of the things Nissa’s cry represents is the screamingly loud sound that accompanies large, fiery things streaking through the atmosphere.

The pale sword came shivering through the air. Ser Waymar met it with steel. When the blades met, there was no ring of metal on metal; only a high, thin sound at the edge of hearing, like an animal screaming in pain.
( . . . )
Again and again the swords met, until Will wanted to cover his ears against the strange anguished keening of their clash. Ser Waymar was panting from the effort now, his breath steaming in the moonlight. His blade was white with frost; the Other’s danced with pale blue light.

The word keening is defined as ‘an eerie wailing sound’ or a wail that someone makes in grief for a dead person. Add the word anguished to keening and it seems like a clear allusion to Nissa’s cry of anguish and ecstasy that she let out as she died – the one that left a crack across the face of the moon. We know that Martin has created another sword that is emblematic of Nissa Nissa’s cry, and that would be Widow’s Wail. Widow’s Wail is very comparable to the keening swords here, because it’s one half of Ice, which we can see as a broken sword, and of course Waymar’s sword gets covered in frost ice and breaks in the scene here, while the swords of the Others are made of some kind of magic ice.

You will also remember that just a moment ago, I was telling you that Waymar’s sword was also playing the role of Nissa Nissa and the shattering moon, mainly because it shatters to create the meteor show and because after it was broken, it looked like a tree struck by lightning, which is a weirwood symbol. Well, here it is giving off the anguished keening, as if the sword were Nissa Nissa’s cry. Now behold the moment when it shatters:

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.

A rain of needles, but Arya’s sword is Needle, so this is a rain of swords or storm of swords meteor shower symbol here, one of the very best ones. I know it’s kind of basic by now, but here we have the symbol of the all-important meteor shower, and it’s the very stylish storm of swords motif. As you can see, George has placed the notorious cry or wail symbol right here in the middle of the action, where it belongs. And right when the steel of his sword shatters to create our moon meteor shower symbol, it says “a scream echoed through the forest night.” This nicely encapsulates the idea of Nissa Nissa going into the trees when she dies. The silent shout on the faces of all the weirwood trees is kind of like an echo of Nissa Nissa’s infamous cry of agony and ecstasy, perhaps. The wording even dissassociates the scream form Waymar in particular and turns it into a sound that simply fills the world and the wood, kind of like dragonbinder’s scream filling the world when it was blown at the Kingsmoot.

Take note also of the blood welling between Waymar’s fingers in the last quote. It also happens at the moment when he is first stabbed:

Then Royce’s parry came a beat too late. The pale sword bit through the ringmail beneath his arm. The young lord cried out in pain. Blood welled between the rings. It steamed in the cold, and the droplets seemed red as fire where they touched the snow. Ser Waymar’s fingers brushed his side. His moleskin glove came away soaked with red.

So when his eyed is put out, the blood “welled” between his fingers, and when the Other first stabs Waymar here, we see that “the blood welled between the rings” of his ringmail. The first welling is coming from his wounded eye – which represents the fire moon exploding in front of the sun, of course, and that figures; the exploding fire moon is a celestial well of moon blood which is overflowing itself and pouring out. The second blood welling is happening in the rings of his mail, which gives you a nice round well of blood image. You will of course notice the fiery language here applied to Waymar’s blood; it’s as red as fire and steaming in the cold. These fiery blood drops are basically another moon meteor symbol – they’re fiery bleeding stars, if you will, comparable to Rhaegar’s rubies falling into the Trident.

One other note on wells – think of the weirwood tree looking as though it wants to pull the moon down into the well at the Nightfort as another tie between moon destruction and wells.

In other words, Waymar really does has the whole package of moon disaster fallout – waves of fiery moon blood, a waves of night sable cloak, and the black knife symbolism. To that I will add a couple of other loose tidbits: we hear talk of the “soft metallic slither” of his ringmail, which makes you think of metal snakes, i.e. moon meteors. If you’re creative you even can see the circular rings of snake metal as little ourboroses, perhaps, a tie-in to dragons eating their own tails. Finally, wee see his breath go out in a hiss when he catches sight of the Other, so more snakey stuff. Azor Ahai the fire dragon, more or less.

I think Waymar’s temperature change is insightful – he has fiery red blood until his transformation by ice magic… and then he rises with frozen blood and cold fire in his eyes. This is, to put it simply, Azor Ahai the dragon-blooded person turning into Night’s King. He gives his blood and fire – his seed and soul, if you will – to make the Others, but this turns him cold himself, as we have long suspected.

Waymar’s intrusion into the woods throughout this chapter symbolizes Azor Ahai forcing his way into the weirwoodnet, as I mentioned. Waymar also gets the weirwood stigmata at his moment of death here, which implies that weirwoods and or greenseer magic was part of that transformation: his black moleskin gloves come away red, and his bloody eye is a match the carved bloody eyes of the weirwoods. Waymar’s face is essentially carved at the same moment that depicts the moon explosion, and that’s in keeping with all the other examples of weirwood stigmata we’ve seen. It should be noted though that Waymar only obtains his stigmata after Willsa Willsa does, and only after Will climbs the tree and prays to the gods.

A Lovers Reunion

We’ll finish off with a very short sub-section, but it’s message is important. Alright – so Will is up in the tree, holding his silence instead of warning Waymar. You will remember that when Wayzor ordered Willsa up the tree, Will had no words, and this is a depiction of the silencing of Nissa Nissa as she goes in to the trees. You will recall the red smile / throat cutting aspect of the weirwood stigmata, and in particular you will recall Lady Stoneheart appearing as an undead Nissa Nissa ghost in her weirwood cave, with her throat cut so badly she can barely speak. The weirwoods themselves are silent, though they have screaming mouths, and that is reflected by the fact that will cannot speak after climbing the tree.

Here are the lines about this:

Will saw movement from the corner of his eye. Pale shapes gliding through the wood. He turned his head, glimpsed a white shadow in the darkness. Then it was gone. Branches stirred gently in the wind, scratching at one another with wooden fingers. Will opened his mouth to call down a warning, and the words seemed to freeze in his throat.

And then a moment later:

Will had to call out. It was his duty. And his death, if he did. He shivered, and hugged the tree, and kept the silence.

The pale sword came shivering through the air.

He’s not only silent – he’s growing cold as well, shivering against the tree and with his words freezing in his throat. Notice the comparison between Will shivering and hugging the tree – merging with it, basically – and the Other’s pale sword shivering through the air. Will has called the ice swords with his killing word, and both Will and the swords he summons shiver. As for the words freezing in his throat, it reminds me of Lady Stoneheart:

Lady Catelyn’s fingers dug deep into her throat, and the words came rattling out, choked and broken, a stream as cold as ice. 

In other words, will seems to be icing up a bit up in that tree, and this is starting to smell like dead Nissa Nissa is turning into the Night’s Queen. I say “turning into” quite loosely, because although we have discovered some Nissa Nissa figures transforming into Night’s Queen figures, we aren’t sure exactly how that works. There seems to be a distinct possibility of some sort of bifurcation with Nissa Nissa, and we’ve presented a variety of plausible theories on how it could have worked – a part of Nissa Nissa’s vengeful spirit coming back out of the weirwoodnet to inhabit either a magical ice body or even a resurrected corpse; some other spirit stealing Nissa Nissa’s cold corpse; Azor Ahai trying to raise Nissa Nissa from the dead out of love and regret; or perhaps the connection is something as simple their having been sisters, like Visenya and Rhaenys.

That being said, there is some kind of link between Nissa Nissa and Night’s Queen – the symbolism of Sansa and Cersei in particular make that undeniable. That seems to be what’s going on here, because not only does will begin to freeze in the tree there, he also… comes back down out of the tree:

When he found the courage to look again, a long time had passed, and the ridge below was empty. He stayed in the tree, scarce daring to breathe, while the moon crept slowly across the black sky. Finally, his muscles cramping and his fingers numb with cold, he climbed down.

As soon as Willsa Willsa comes down from the tree, she notices Wayzor Ahai’s body lying facedown in the snow, a dozen slashes in his sable cloak…. which is last hero math when you add in the grisly eye wound we are about to see. Will thinks “lying dead like that, you saw how young he was… a boy,” and consider what we are seeing here. I think Will is playing more of a Night’s Queen role now as opposed to Nissa Nissa, but the point is, Will is some sort of revenant of Nissa Nissa here, which may or may not be Night’s Queen. I think that when we see Will regarding dead Waymar, we are supposed to see this as the revenant of Nissa Nissa regarding her dead Azor. And just like the triple goddess always resurrects the horned lord, who is a sun god, I believe that that is being implied here as well. This might be slightly controversial, so I will pull the whole quote and let you decide.

What I am seeing in this sequence is Will standing over Waymar’s body, picking up Waymar’s tree-struck-by-lightning sword (a clear fire of the gods symbol), and then while he is standing there contemplating the sword, Waymar rises. It’s almost like the sword is a magic wand Will uses to raise the dead. Then Willsa Willsa, now the Night’s Queen, drops the sword and closes her eyes to pray, thankful that her lost love is returned from death. Check it out, and this quote runs to the end of the chapter:

He found what was left of the sword a few feet away, the end splintered and twisted like a tree struck by lightning. Will knelt, looked around warily, and snatched it up. The broken sword would be his proof. Gared would know what to make of it, and if not him, then surely that old bear Mormont or Maester Aemon. Would Gared still be waiting with the horses? He had to hurry.

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.

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

The broken sword fell from nerveless fingers. Will closed his eyes to pray. Long, elegant hands brushed his cheek, then tightened around his throat. They were gloved in the finest moleskin and sticky with blood, yet the touch was icy cold.

The sequence is really tight – Will is only a few feet away from Waymar holding the fire of the gods sword, and when he stands, Waymar has already risen, which essentially means that Waymar awoke while Will was holding the sword. Keep in mind this is supposed to be a hidden layer of meaning; in terms of the surface plot, Waymar rises presumably on command of the Others to kill Will because they want to, and that’s kind of what wights do, they lie dormant in the snow and then pop out at the most inconvenient time, as we saw outside of Bloodraven’s cave with Bran and Coldhands and company. But the potential symbolism of Nissa Nissa’s ghost raising dead Azor Ahai, who has just given up his fiery blood, is quite compelling, and makes a lot of sense.

The Night’s King myth speaks of him giving his seed and soul to his corpse queen, and all indications are that some part of this sex magic ritual transformed him into an icy sort of dude. Night’s Queen would seem to facilitate this transformation, so seeing someone playing that role raising an Azor figure from the dead makes sense, especially since our undead Azor appears reanimated by ice magic with a blue star eye version of the Odin makeover. This is when he best matches Euron and Aemond One Eye as a Night’s King figure, so I think we can simply say that the one blue eye symbol exclusively belongs to Night’s King figures, thus indicating Night’s King as an ice magic user… as one would expect. And where did he get that ice magic? Well, from Night’s Queen… and thus I think it works to see this scene as Will using the frozen fire of the gods sword to resurrect Wayzor the Amayzor as a Night’s King.

And this, my friends, is the reason for the inexplicably romantic second-to-last line of the chapter: “Long, elegant hands brushed his cheek, then tightened around his throat.” Wights never do this. They do not stop to savor the moment, or brush anyone’s cheek. They attack aggressively and viciously, like most zombies do. And yet, we have this poetic, delicate cheek-brushing moment… which makes sense if this is a reunification of lost lovers. Plus… what’s with the ‘long, elegant hands’ description of a wighted person… who is wearing bloody gloves? That language also does not fit with the main action, but does fit with the idea that Martin is trying to imply a tender reunion.

The choking, well that’s… that’s just a little kinky loveplay, you know? I kid of course; I think the choking has to be there for purposes of the main plot, and it’s this anomalous cheek-brushing elegance that is supposed to be the clue about this being a reunion of sorts. Or we could interpret it as a depiction of Night’s King “chasing” and “catching” and basically possessing Night’s Queen, as he is said to do. Again we are reminded of the choked, stream-of-ice speech of Lady Stoneheart.

One final note on resurrected Night’s King Waymar… I can’t help but notice the symbol of the meteor sword shard lodged in his eye and think about the show’s depiction of the creation of Night’s King being created by being stabbed with magical dragonglass. Even setting that aside, think about the sword shard as a meteor fragment… it’s literally lodged inside the body of Night’s King here. That seems like a symbolic suggestion at the very least that evil Azor Ahai / the Bloodstone Emperor / Night’s King used the magic of the moon meteors to transform himself, and it’s even possible there is a more literal truth and George is riffing on the idea of people having little pieces of metal trapped inside them after alien abduction experiences, lol.

I will also say that even though his wounded eye symbolizes the fire moon when it is stabbed and bleeds out, when we see it on resurrected Waymar, I think it’s showing us something else. Martin calls it a blind white eye transfixed by a sword shard, and this has to make us think about the dragon locked in ice symbolism. Resurrected Waymar might simply be regarded as the ice moon in this instance, just we see the moon leering with Euron’s face in one the TWOW early release chapters, implying Euron’s entire face as the ice moon. It’s not really a huge thing, but when we look at Waymar’s face with one blue star eye and one white eye transfixed by a shard… it seems like an awfully good picture of the face of the ice moon, with the dragon locked in ice meteor depicted by the sword shard, and the idea of turning fire magic into cold fire depicted in the cold burning blue star eye.

Let’s Start Back

Alright, so let me explain what seem to be the rules for this. We are starting at the end of the chapter and working backwards, reshuffling the order events in reverse. There is a little discretion and common sense involved here, as sometimes we have to choose whether to reverse the action itself – i.e. something falling becomes something rising – or simply the order in which the event takes place relative the events before and after it – i.e. instead of Will dropping the sword and then being strangled, now he gets strangled and drops the sword. The hypothesis of this exercise is that if we are skilled, we can find the same sequence that we just outlined in the ‘forwards reading’ when we read the chapter backwards, so we will make those judgement calls in light of conforming to the pattern of the forwards reading.

Hopefully I didn’t make that sound too complicated, it’s actually pretty much common sense when you read the chapter to figure it out. You will see what I mean in just a second.

Right away we can see a natural symmetry to the chapter, given the symbolism we’ve just discovered:

  • Waymar symbolically kills Will
  • Will climbs the tree
  • Waymar fights the Others
  • Will climbs down from the tree
  • Wighted Waymar actually kills Will

Looking at all these w’s in a list, it occurs to me that the letter w is one of the few leters of the alphabet that looks like it is looking in a mirror if you draw a vertical line through the middle of it. Probably an coincidence…

Anyway, working off of this basic symmetry, you can see the chapter is primed for a backwards reading.

Let’s start by reversing the order of the sentences in the last two paragraphs. We get this:

They were gloved in the finest moleskin and sticky with blood, yet the touch was icy cold. Long, elegant hands brushed his cheek, then tightened around his throat. Will closed his eyes to pray. The broken sword fell from nerveless fingers. 

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

The first thing that happens is that a sorrowful Wayzor Ahai kills his love, Willsa Willsa, after tenderly stroking her cheek. This whole Long Night thing starts with Azor Ahai killing Nissa Nissa, so this checks out. As Azor kills Nissa Nissa, she closes her eyes and prays, as if she is perhaps giving up her life force or perhaps even cursing Azor as she dies. I’m seeing Waymar’s arm as Lightbringer here, sucking the soul and strength from Nissa Nissa as Lightbringer of legend did, and right after this, a sword falls from Nissa Nissa, mimicking the creation of Lightbringer from a dying Nissa Nissa’s body.

It’s also very like a moon coughing up a moon meteor sword as Nissa Nissa dies, it should be noted. Will is the fire moon here, and his moon meteor sword lands in the snow, just like the fire moon meteor shrapnel that seems to lodge in the ice moon, the celestial equivalent of the dragon locked in ice.

After this, Wayzor Ahai’s eye burns blue, and “it saw.” He’s possessed the fire of the gods – thanks, Willsa Willsa. Thank her for that moon meteor sword she dropped too -you’ll need that to go into the ice to fight the Others, which is what happens in reverse, as a matter of fact. Waymar, having killed his love and opened his new Odin eye, lays down face-first in the snow and becomes the dragon locked in ice himself, matching the sword he got from dying Willsa which is also lying in the snow. In a moment, he’ll awaken from the snow to fight the Others… very like Jon rising from the snow when he’s resurrected, or, as Patchface would say, when “snow falls up.” Falling up is literally what you see if you play a video of someone falling down in reverse, ha ha.

Willsa Willsa, meanwhile, has been slain, and has given up a magic sword. Taking the events in reverse order, the next thing that happens is that Willsa climbs the tree. Just as it was in the forward reading when Will climbed the tree at the beginning of the chapter, this is easy to spot as Nissa Nissa dying and going into the trees! Willsa Willsa goes into the trees, and Wayzor Ahai goes into the ice. This is going well so far!

Continuing to reverse the order of events, after Will climbs the tree, we have the Others all stabbing Waymar in “cold butchery.” I want to reverse the individual components of the fight, so let me list them out as they appear in the forwards reading. Waymar shatters his sword against the sword of the Other, has his eye put out by a sword shard, and sinks to his knees; then all the Others close in and stab him and he falls into the snow. Will closes his eyes and hears their mocking laughter. When he opens his eyes, the Others gone – meaning that he did not watch them walk away.

Reversing that sequence, we have Will in the tree opening his eyes. He sees the Waymar on his knees in the snow, with the Others pressing close and stabbing him. As Waymar stands all the way up, the Others back off.  A tiny piece of sword flies out of his eye and reassembles with the other shards and the hilt of the broken sword that is now in his hands.

Thinking about this as astronomy, this is a fantastic depiction of the waking of the dragon locked in ice. It has everything. When will opens his eyes, the Others start off pressed close around him, like the shell of the ice moon. As he stands up – as the dragon locked in ice wakes – they rush away from him like exploding ice moon meteor fragments, flying away form the newly cracked ice moon. This lines up perfectly with all the symbolic depictions of Jon’s resurrection which seem to involve the fall of the Wall and the impending #IceMoonApocalypse. Dead Jon in the ice cell is in exact parallel to the theoretical fire moon meteor lodged in the ice moon, and Waymar is awakening here like a dragon locked in an ice moon. It’s pretty great.

Just as with the forwards reading, we can also read this as Azor Ahai’s killing of Nissa Nissa and his invasion of the weirwoods somehow resulting in the creation of the Others. In the reverse reading, Wayzor has just killed Willsa and sent her into the tree, and when she opens her tree eyes, the Others appear.

So Wayzor Ahai has awakened to fight the Others – let review this reverse fight sequence with that in mind instead of the astronomy layer. Azor Ahai has just risen from the snow, only to one knee, and the Others are stabbing him, yet he is undaunted and rises to his feet, causing the Others to back off. It’s almost like our newly resurrected warrior is showing the Others that he can withstand their attacks. This may be the exact test Waymar failed in the forwards reading – notice that the Others all mocked Waymar after he took his first wound and bled hot red blood. Then the Other Waymar was fighting ended the ritualistic duel by breaking his sword with a lazy parry, and then they all butchered him. This is Joe Magician;s “testing” theory, and combining it with my green zombies theory, Joe and I both think that the Others were testing Waymar to see if he was an invincible wight, like Coldhands or like Jon will become, and dismissed him when he showed himself vulnerable. In this backwards reading, the Others stab Waymar as soon as he begins to rise, then back off as he rises further and proves himself invulnerable. Then Waymar casually reforges his broken sword before their eyes.

That’s right! Waymar appears to be reforging the notorious broken sword symbol that we see in the last hero and so many echoes such as Beric, Beric’s Dondarrion ancestor, the Titan of Braavos, the sigil of the Essosi free company known as the Second Sons, and so on. It’s written into the wordplay of the sword Dawn too, since dawn is notorious for breaking – it happens every day, after all, every time the sun rises. The idea of reforging the broken sword of destiny is certainly reminiscent of Tolkien and Aragorn’s Narsil, which was reforged by Elrond in time for the last battle against Sauron, as it was written in prophecy. More specifically, Waymar’s sword is “white with frost” before it breaks, suggesting it as a great symbol of Dawn as the original Ice. I’ll also note that we have long surmised that the last hero might have reforged his original sword, since he snapped his first one from the cold, yet emerges later chasing the white shadows with a sword of Dragonsteel. He either reforged the broken one or got a new one, and in this reverse reading, Waymar appears to reforge his sword.

Alternately, you could imagine resurrected Azor Ahai as materializing his sword out of mist or something, like Brandon Sanderson’s new series, but I think the message here is one of reforging a broken sword.

Getting back to the backwards reading, Wayzor Ahai passes the test of the Others, rises, reforges his sword. Let’s test that thing out, one of the Others calls out with a mocking laugh. His first parry is lazy, and he gets one strike in on Wayzor Ahai, but he again seems unaffected and even fights with rewed vigor. They fight to a draw, both of them hold their swords on high to shine in the moonlight – a salute or sign of truce of some kind, perhaps – and then the Others go away. That’s right, they go back into the trees, back where they belong. They are probably happier now, perhaps set free of some duty or obligation, or having had some debt repaid to them or what have you. Wayzor Ahai has saved the day! Perhaps he said some sort of healing words – the opposite of the killing words which summoned them. What were those words – “for Robert?” “Dance with me then?” Perhaps that’s it – the turtle god and crab god had to sing a song to return the sun to the sky according to Rhoynish myth, so who knows.

Then, coming back out of the trees, it’s his lost love, Nissa Nissa – er, Willsa Willsa. After the Others melted back into the trees, she offered a prayer of thanks to the Old Gods, then climbs down to reunite with her lost love. “Come here love, I won’t have you hiding under a bush,” he says, and reunited, they head back to their home to live happily ever after. They even remember to collect their ugly, earless stableboy who held their horses for them while they fought the War for the Dawn. Given Gared’s speech about frostbite which is really about ice transformation, this might be the last hero rescuing the stolen Other baby on his way back to Winterfell.

That’s one way to read the ending, but there’s another, less happy possibility. Wayzor Ahai fights the Other to a draw after passing their test – and then becomes the master of the Others, or a worshiper of the Others. The new Night’s King. Instead of reading the Others melting back into the dark of the wood as simply returning to the trees and being at peace, we might interpret Wayzor Ahai the Night King sending out the Others to invade Westeros. He’s giving them battle commands, and then they turn around and leave – to go fuck shit up elsewhere, you know? “For Robert! For the Horned Lord!” they cry.

We might even look at them stabbing Waymar in reverse, just like is was a videotape played backwards… it still looks like they are stabbing Waymar, but now the blood flies into him as they do, instead of flying out. It’s kind like they are putting blood back in to him! This isn’t crazy – think about the Others reanimating him or transforming him with their ice swords, kind of like the show depicts their version of Night King getting transformed by a dragonglass blade to the heart. Or how about this: think about a group of Others gathering in a circle around Jon’s body, putting their ice swords into his body, and transforming him into a new Night’s King. In the forwards reading, we had this same observation, that stabbing someone with a magic sword might be a way to resurrect them: when we saw Waymar rise with the sword shard in his eye to choke Will, and when I interpreted Will as using the broken fire of the gods sword to raise Will like a magic wand.

Similarly, just a minute ago in my happy ending reverse reading, I ignored the fact that Will has those two symbolic deaths as he climbs the tree originally. First his heart stopped while he was under the bush, and then the wind cut right through him as he started climbing, remember? Well, we could interpret this as Night’s King stabbing his resurrected corpse queen as in impregnation, which we know is a thing that did happen. It could also been Night’s King using a magic sword to raise Nissa Nissa from the dead and pull her spirit out of the tree, and instead of her heart stopping as it dead in the forwards reading, perhaps we should read it as a resurrection symbol, a heart that beats again.

Returning to Waymar in the backwards reading, let’s run with the hypothesis that he is rising as the Night’s King and commanding the Others for a minute. With that being the case, we can definitely see Will praying and climbing back down the tree to return to the Night’s King figure as the Corpse Queen coming out of the haunted forest north of the Wall to entrance Night’s King. Together, they return south to Castle Black – just like the official legend where Night’s King chases and catches Night’s Queen north of the Wall and takes her back to the Nightfort to declare her his queen.

So which interpretation of the reverse reading is right, the happy ending or the second option I just sketched out? The answer is both! The happy ending show us a compelling possible version of the end of the last hero’s journey, with him awakening as the dragon locked in ice, sending the Others back into the trees, and setting free the trapped spirit of Nissa Nissa, which might be akin to shutting down the weirwoodnet.

This is essentially a mirrored, backwards version of the “Waymar as the last hero confronting the Others” interpretation of the forwards reading.

But the second version, where resurrected Waymar is seen as the Night’s King commanding the Others instead of the last hero, makes a lot of sense as the story of Night’s King and Queen coming to power and unleashing the Others. The way it mimics the official legend of Night’s King finding his corpse queen north of the Wall and returning to Castle Black to rule together is really compelling, I have to say, and seeing him unleash the Others lines up with my belief that Night’s King and Queen lived during the Long Night and created the first Others.

This is essentially a mirrored, backwards version of the mythical astronomy interpretation of the forwards reading.

It’s interesting to me that the Nissa Nissa-turned-Night’s Queen idea appears in both the forwards and backwards reading, and each time, the weirwoods are involved. Both times, it seems like some part of Nissa Nissa comes out of the tree and becomes the Night’s Queen. I have always thought Night’s Queen to have ties to the weirwoods, with Val’s white weirwood broach being a major clue about that, so this is easy for me to accept.

Here’s another interesting observation. The entire last hero story is one that occurs at the end of the Long Night drama play, which probably spans thirteen years at a minimum, start to finish. That’s as opposed to the killing of Nissa Nissa and the destruction of the second moon, which would have happened at the beginning of the Long Night, years earlier. Additionally, if any magical babies were born such as a child of Azor and Nissa or a stolen Night’s Queen baby a la the Blood of the Other theory, they’d need at least thirteen years or more to grow up to be the last hero, I’d think.

Here’s the point: following Waymar as the last hero shows us an event from the end of the Long Night sequence, and foreshadows Jon’s probable actions to end the new Long Night; but the mythical astronomy readings, both forwards and backwards, show us the story of the beginning of the long Night, when Azor Ahai killed Nissa Nissa and the Night’s King and Queen came to power. That’s an awful lot of Long Night information to hide in one prologue, but then, that’s kind of the thing skilled authors like to do with prologues, and what Martin has done here is like a tour de force example of using a prologue to foreshadow as much as possible.

So, while reading the prologue forwards and backwards didn’t exactly solve every mystery of the Long Night, it did provide with some new clues and new possibilities to consider, and seemed to further some of my newer ideas about Night’s Queen and Nissa Nissa and the Others. I’d love to hear from you guys as to what you make of these clues, and the interpretations I’ve given here. And if you’re thinking of looking for other “start back” chapters that might work well read backwards… too late, the myth heads are already all over it! ha ha, just kidding  – well, the myth heads are already all over it, but you can and should of course enjoy the fun of looking for these chapters yourself. The main thing to look for is language about starting back or reversing course, that kind of thing. We have already spotted a couple of other such chapters, and they all seem to have very strong and repeated language like this, so look for that and then take a look at the backwards sequence and see if it makes sense.

Happy hunting!

Daenerys the Sea Dreamer

Hey there friends, Patreon supporters, and myth heads everywhere, it’s your starry host, LmL. When last we left off in Weirwood Compendium 6: The Devil and the Deep Green See, our minds were reeling at the enormity of the green see wordplay. Does this really go everywhere water goes? Lakes, rivers, oceans, ponds, drinking and drowning and bathing and melting… do we really have to look sideways at every liquid we come across?

Well, basically, the answer is yes. But as you know, what we are really looking for is a confluence of multiple identifiable symbols and symbolic acts. Just because someone gets their throat cut doesn’t mean they’re manifesting weirwood stigmata and symbolically “going into the weirwoodnet.” But when red-headed Catelyn Tully gets her throat cut, has bloody hands and bloody tears and bloody hair – the full weirwood stigmata, in other words – and then gets thrown into a river named the Green Fork, and then pops up in a cave threaded with weirwood roots… we can feel confident in concluding that her death is indeed meant to symbolize the death of the weirwood goddess archetype and her subsequent entrance into the “green see” of the weirwoodnet.

Now what actually happened is that we first identified Cat as playing the role of the Nissa Nissa weirwood goddess figure without any of the green see wordplay, back in the Weirwood Goddess series which you have hopefully already listened to. In those episodes, we discovered a whole horde of mostly red-headed women who seem to manifest both Nissa Nissa symbolism and child of the forest / elf woman symbolism, all of whom undergo the weirwood stigmata. It happens so many times, and so distinctively, and always amidst metaphorical Lightbringer forging scenes, that we really can’t help but come to the conclusion that Nissa Nissa was part child of the forest and that the magic ritual which was the death of Nissa Nissa and the forging of Lightbringer was an event which was tied to the weirwoods, or even centered around them.

Then, when we consider the green see wordplay and observe Cat’s body being thrown into and then resurrected from the Green Fork of the Trident, it simply confirms and enhances the conclusions that we drew from her weirwood stigmata death scene: Nissa Nissa goes into the realm of the greenseers after she dies. Even taking a step back from the specific green sea / greenseer wordplay, it’s still easy to see the classic symbolic function of the river here: Cat goes into the river when she dies, and is resurrected when she is pulled out of the river. It’s like the River Acheron which serves as the border to the realm of Hades in Greek myth, to name one example. In other words, you can see that the green see wordplay is really just building upon the foundation of a classic mytheme, that of the river which represents the border between life and death. It’s just another version of the veil of tears.

Besides Nissa Nissa figures getting thrown into rivers like Cat, we’ve also seen that many Nissa Nissa figures have various kinds of mermaid symbolism, including many of the magical or divine wives of legend such as Elenei of the Durran Durrandon myth, the Grey King’s mermaid wife, or the two aquatic women tied to the Andal myth of Hugor Hill / Hukko, the swan maidens that ‘Hukko’ sacrificed and the woman with eyes like blue pools that the Maid of the Faith of the Seven brought forth for Hugor Hill to marry. And as we noted last time, we can even observe that Cat’s Tully / fish symbolism makes her a grisly sort of mermaid or fish person (or Cat-fish, if you prefer) when she is thrown into the river. We’ve also seen the classic sea serpent goddess archetype put into good use with Daenerys in particular, who is the most prominent Nissa Nissa figure in the series.

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
IV: The Zodiac Children of Garth the Green

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

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

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

Now in PODCAST form!

Click to open in iTunes

All of these things – the drownings, the mermaid imagery, and the sea serpent imagery –  have accumulated throughout our study of Nissa Nissa figures, and they’ve been cluing us in to the fact that Nissa Nissa has a watery side to her story… or at least to her symbolism. Then when we reconsider those things with the green see metaphor in mind… again we see things snap into place. The mermaid and sea dragon goddess symbolism suddenly make a lot more sense – they’re implying Nissa Nissa a denizen of the green see!

There’s yet another line of symbolism the green see wordplay is best buddies with, and that’s the simple idea of the moon drowning in the sea. We caught on to this early on, in the very first few Bloodstone Compendium episodes, that there is abundant and repeated symbolic evidence that at least one of those moon meteors landed in or near the sea, causing huge tidal waves and some amount of land collapse. Both the Arm of Dorne and the Iron Islands (especially Pyke) show evidence of such traumatic, sudden land collapse, and both are festively decorated with moon meteor symbolism, so this part of the “moon drowning” idea is fairly literal – some pieces of the moon seem to have fallen into or near the sea. After all, an impacting meteor basically has a 2 in 3 chance of hitting water on earth, and I don’t imagine it’s much different on Planetos.

Of course the moon can be seen as an analog of Nissa Nissa, and that broken bit of moon, falling from the sky and into the sea as it was, can be seen as a representation of Nissa Nissa falling into the green sea at her death, kind of like a gigantic version of Catelyn falling into the Green Fork. Exactly like a giant version of that, in fact. Once again, we see that the green see wordplay layer fits harmoniously with all the other symbolism that is going on already – the idea of moon meteors falling into the sea, in this case – while also enhancing it.

That’s actually where we left it in Weirwood Compendium 6 – with Nissa Nissa figures drowning and dying and doing weirwood goddess things. We took a quick look at several of them and a longer look at Asha, because the Wayward Bride chapter is just so dank with the ocean of trees / sea of green goodness. The conclusion of that chapter was that amazing scene where Asha sees burning stags in a golden wood as she imagines the trumpets of the Drowned God’s Hall blowing at her apparent death, and all of that following her being backed against a tree and tangled in its roots as she is struck with a lightning-like blow. Asha actually utters such things as “drown me for a fool” and “splash some blood upon the moon with me,” it’s just so good. The trees-as-ocean quotes are equally fantastic and mirror the lines from Jon’s scenes north of the Wall.

Now before we discussed the drowning and bathing mermaid Nissa Nissa figures, we took a look at the dying Azor Ahai people who have a knack for dying in rivers, dying in burning boats on rivers, drowning in rivers that catch on fire, drowning on blood and wildfire and of course, drinking from the green fountain. And not just dying in the see, as it were, but also being reborn in the see or from the see, according to the prophecy of Azor Ahai being reborn in the sea. Just as it was with green see symbolism of the Nissa Nissa figures, applying the the green see lens to all of these watery deaths and rebirths simply simply confirms what we had already discovered by other means – that Azor Ahai essentially died to enter the weirwoodnet, and that his death was more of a transformation, one tied to or even facilitated by the weirwoods. That was basically the overarching topic of the first four episodes of the Weirwood Compendium series, and I think the evidence was already quite convincing – and the green see symbolism just pounds the nail in the coffin, so to speak. Because a weirwood tree is like a coffin for greenseers. Anyway.

Today, we are going to talk about Dany. Dany is the best because she combines the Nissa Nissa dying in the green see to forge Lightbringer symbolism with the Azor Ahai being reborn in the green see symbolism, and she does it in spectacular fashion. Tracing out all of Dany’s green see symbolism will also find us doing a fair amount of follow up on Weirwood Compendium 5: To Ride the Green Dragon, because a lot of Dany’s greenseer symbolism flows through Rhaegal. We’ve already seen that Rhaegal, as well as Rhaego the prophesied Stallion Who Mounts the World, are basically fountains of green seer symbolism, so it figures they’d show us some quality green see wordplay, and indeed they do! When we read Dany chapters, we find such things as Daenerys the Stormborn dragon wearing a green dress and a green dragon on her way to talk to old men in wooden thrones in a city by the shores of the Jade Sea, just by way of example.

I have to warn you: the amount of greenseer symbolism around Dany is shocking. It’s so heavy, and so constant… it starts with her very first chapters, continues through all five books, and then ramps up harder than ever in her final ADWD chapter. We aren’t going to get it all today, by any means. It’s going to take two episodes to get the main stuff, and more will filter into other episodes. We’ve already led up to it a bit by exploring all the greenseer symbolism of her green dragon, Rhaegal, as well as her stillborn son Rhaego, but when we look at the greenseer symbolism directly applied to Dany, I promise your head will spin and you will want me to start making tinfoil with all due haste. Well, just reserve judgement about what  it could mean for Dany in particular for now, and lets consider this first as commentary on the Nissa Nissa archetype, and if you’re all good then perhaps we’ll get around to speculating about whether or not her potentially significant amount of Blackwood blood might be stirring and giving her the potential to access the same magical greenseer genetics as Bloodraven.

Before we go head-over heels interpreting everything that happens to Dany in the green Dothraki Sea as containing a hidden message about greenseers and the weirwoodnet, let’s consider that Dany is already well established as a weirwood goddess figure, even beyond being the mother to green dragons like Rhaegal. I’m referring of course to Dany’s horse-heart-eating ceremony, which we covered a couple of episodes ago as well as previously in the Bloodstone Compendium. In that scene wherein we get the prophecy of the Stallion Who Mounts the World (which is basically the Dothraki version of the Prince That Was Promised prophecy), Daenerys has bloody hands and a bloody mouth like a weirwood tree, and is drinking blood and consuming flesh as the weirwoods do both literally and metaphorically, and the fact that she’s eating a bloody heart even adds the implication of a bloody heart tree, all of which makes this a grade-A weirwood stigmata.

Daenerys Eating the Horse Heart by Sanrixian

Consider also that Daenerys declares herself newly impregnated with the fire of her solar king as she has the stigmata, matching both the Lightbringer forging mythology as well as the idea of the weirwoods being invaded and set on fire by Azor Ahai when he used Nissa Nissa’s death to essentially invade the weirwoodnet. Compare it to Thistle’s weirwood stigmata, where Varamyr’s spirit literally invaded her flesh – this also depicts Azor Ahai’s fiery spirit invading the weirwood tree, and using Nissa Nissa’ death to do so. Here we see Dany manifesting the stigmata and turning into the bloody weirwood tree after she’s been invaded by the fiery seed of her solar king, which is just a nicer version of the same symbolism.

The main point is that Dany’s stigmata is no random occurrence – it occurs during a symbolic Lightbringer forging, and it’s consistent with all the other weirwood stigmata scenes (trust me, it matches the other ones too, let’s not digress too far). Note also that this scene, like many of her best scenes in the green Dothraki Sea, occur in the first book, which implies that Martin has been weaving this green sea / greenseer wordplay as well as other greenseer clues into the plot arc of his primary avatar of Nissa Nissa from the very beginning. That makes sense to me, because we are increasingly coming to see that Nissa Nissa’s connection to the weirwoods is one of the most important aspects of the entire Long Night / Azor Ahai / Lightbringer ball of wax. He would have conceived of it early on, and after today’s episode I feel confident you will agree with me that he did.

Thanks you’s

Sailing the Dothraki See

This section is brought to you by our dragon patrons: Bronsterys of lily-white scales and bronze horns, wingbones and spinal crest, a wise old dragon who riddles with sphinxes; Vaespeyrs the Nightbringer, the Shadowfire Dragon, whose scales are dark as smoke, whose  horns, wingbones, and spinal crest are the color of molten silver, and whose eyes are two black moons; and Falcoerys the ShagDragon, whose black stone scales are covered in purple and green 70’s shag carpeting and whose eyes, horns, wingbones, and spinal crest are as grey as a puff of smoke

The green see / reborn from the sea symbolism of Daenerys Targaryen is immediately obvious: she was reborn in the Dothraki Sea, which is often described as green. About half of Dany’s major scenes occur in this green grass sea in fact, including her symbolic death and rebirth in Drogo’s pyre and the waking of her dragons, her starry visions in her last ADWD chapter, and many other things that we’ll take a look at today. As we know, Azor Ahai is a hero prophesied to be reborn in the sea, and if George is thinking about one specific person who fulfills all of the Azor Ahai reborn prophetic check marks in the most clear way possible, it can only be Daenerys Targaryen, who after all, did wake dragons under a bleeding star, and the fact that this took place in the green Dothraki Sea means that she also checks out as a hero reborn in the sea.

Illyrio sums it up well when speaking to Tyrion in ADWD:

“The frightened child who sheltered in my manse died on the Dothraki sea, and was reborn in blood and fire. This dragon queen who wears her name is a true Targaryen.”

Reborn in blood and fire, after dying on the Dothraki Sea. So there you go – in her the prophecies are fulfilled, ha ha. She already met all the standard Azor Ahai reborn criteria there, so adding the “Azor Ahai reborn in the sea” aspect that Stannis speaks of just makes the alchemical wedding that much more of a home run for the rebirth of Azor Ahai.

We’re about to dive into Dany’s first chapter in the Dothraki Sea – the pivotal “Dany III” of AGOT, which I spent three hours breaking down with Poor Quentin and Brynden B-Fish on their Not-a-Podcast podcast, and we are going to see a ton of fantastic green sea / greenseer wordplay there. But before we do, I’ll share perhaps my favorite – no, definitely my favorite – example of the Dothraki green see wordplay, which comes in a Victarion chapter of ADWD:

“The silver queen is gone,” the ketch’s master told him. “She flew away upon her dragon, beyond the Dothraki sea.”

“Where is this Dothraki sea?” he demanded. “I will sail the Iron Fleet across it and find the queen wherever she may be.”

The fisherman laughed aloud. “That would be a sight worth seeing. The Dothraki sea is made of grass, fool.”

He should not have said that. Victarion took him around the throat with his burned hand and lifted him bodily into the air. Slamming him back against the mast, he squeezed till the Yunkishman’s face turned as black as the fingers digging into his flesh.

And then Victarion tosses his body into the sea, “another offering to the Drowned God.” There’s actually a nice symbolic parallel going on here: the fisherman tells Victarion the Barbarian that Dany flew away on her black dragon into the Dothraki Sea, which symbolizes both Nissa Nissa fleeing into the green see and a moon meteor dragon landing in the ocean, and then Vic mimics that symbolism by making a moon sacrifice out of the fisherman and throwing him into the sea. He lifts him up against the mast, which is like a tree trunk of course, and then strangles him, which gives the fisherman the ‘Odin hanging on the gallows tree’ symbolism that, in ASOIAF terms, refers to greenseers being ‘hung’ on the weirwood roots like Bloodraven. Then Victarion throws him into the sea and to the god beneath the waves, implying him a one who is sacrificed to the weirwoods and their green sea. The fisherman’s face is turned black, just as the moon turns into black meteors, and his black moon face going into the sea is equivalent to black Drogon flying off into the Dothraki Sea.

The poor fisherman shouldn’t have talked back to Victarion, it’s true – he wasn’t a very good judge of character. But he was technically correct that the Dothraki Sea is made of grass. I’m sorry, I just can’t help but find Victarion a little funny, and this scene just makes the Dothraki Sea joke so well. It is indeed a sea made of grass, and Vic would have a hard to sailing it with an Ironborn longship. He might have better luck, though, if he were to reach further back into Ironborn shipbuilding history and attempt to use a weirwood boat, like the Grey King – that might be the right one for “sailing the green sea.”

Note also the way Martin is trying to show us the green see wordplay – in the midst of the confusion about whether or not Vic can sail the Dothraki Sea, the fisherman says “..that would be a sight worth seeing. The Dothrkai Sea is made of grass..” It’s one of many examples of Martin using both forms of see/sea next to one another, in hopes the wordplay might click in our brains, such as when Mikken, the Winterfell smith, says “The sea, is it? Happens I always wanted to see the sea.”

But hey, look, don’t blame poor Victarion for taking things too literally. After all, not only are the plains of the Dothraki grasslands like a sea, the sea can be like the grasslands: “To the Dothraki, water that a horse could not drink was something foul; the heaving grey-green plains of the ocean filled them with superstitious loathing.” That’s a nice one because instead of the Dothraki grasslands being compared to a sea, it’s a sea described as a grey-green plain, as though it were a grassy plain.

But enough warm-up, let’s talk about Dany’s swim in the Dothraki Sea. The first time we ever see the sea, if you will, is in Dany’s amazing third chapter of AGOT, and the analogy is laid out pretty clearly. The chapter opens with Ser Jorah talking about the sea:

“The Dothraki sea,” Ser Jorah Mormont said as he reined to a halt beside her on the top of the ridge. Beneath them, the plain stretched out immense and empty, a vast flat expanse that reached to the distant horizon and beyond. It was a sea, Dany thought. Past here, there were no hills, no mountains, no trees nor cities nor roads, only the endless grasses, the tall blades rippling like waves when the winds blew. “It’s so green,” she said.

“Here and now,” Ser Jorah agreed. “You ought to see it when it blooms, all dark red flowers from horizon to horizon, like a sea of blood. Come the dry season, and the world turns the color of old bronze.

It’s so green, she said… lol. A green see! It stretches beyond the horizon, calling to mind the green see language of Jon’s scene at the Fist of the First Men. After saying that “the wood went on as far as Jon could see,” it said that “A thousand leaves fluttered, and for a moment the forest seemed a deep green sea, storm-tossed and heaving, eternal and unknowable.” This green see is the cosmic sea, and it exists outside time and space, so to speak, and that’s emphasized in these quotes and others like them.

Even more important is the second part of Jorah’s speech about the Dothraki Sea: it’s a sea that turns to blood when it flowers. Think about that: when it flowers, it becomes a sea of blood. Hello, moon blood symbolism! In Westeros, a woman’s menstruation is known by the euphemism “moon blood,” and the first time she gets it is called her “flowering,” as we know, so this sea of bloody flowers is definitely a sea of moon blood. Thus, as Dany gazes out at the green Dothraki Sea for the first time, the idea of moon blood filling the green see is strongly suggested, and even highlighted. Ultimately, this is a reference to the concept of Nissa Nissa’s blood flowing into and merging with the ‘green see’ of the weirwoodnet.

This is a pivotal moment here, with Dany perched on the edge of the green Dothraki Sea and about to begin her journey. She’s just married Khal Drogo, consummated their marriage, and is now headed into the Green Sea. This is the basic pattern we’ve seen with all the other Nissa Nissa moon maidens – they do a Lightbringer forging ritual, then head into a body of water that symbolizes the weirwoodnet. Dany’s wedding and intercourse with Drogo give us the Lightbringer forging, and of course her wedding overlays in many ways with the alchemical wedding where the dragons are hatched and Dany is symbolically reborn. So, it fits the pattern well – Lightbringer forging with the solar king, then into the green sea. Dany’s horse heart scene follows a similar pattern, with Dany announcing her pregnancy as she manifests the weirwood stigmata that implies as merging with the weirwoodnet. She even goes and bathes in the “Womb of the World” right after, which adds the aquatic symbolism, and trust me we will circle back to that scene fairly soon to harvest all the greenseer stuff going on there.

Another way we might describe this pivotal moment with Dany getting set to plunge into the great grass sea is to say that her foolish brother Viserys has sold her for a golden crown, and idea that is emphasized all through Dany’s AGOT chapters. This creates a strong parallel to Dontos selling his moon maiden, Sansa, to Petyr for the price of 30,000 golden dragons. Both depict a foolish, would-be stealer of the fire of the gods who sells his moon maiden for gold and receives an ignominious death. One of the three arrows that killed Dontos struck him in the leftmost golden crown of the House Hollard sigil on his breast, which draws an even stronger parallel to Viserys selling his moon maiden and receiving a golden crown of death (Hat-tip Archmaester Emma). One even thinks of Maggy the Frog’s prophecy to Cersei about the death of her children: “Gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds.”

We can also observe that Sansa and Dany are both sent in to the sea and sold to a sea lord; Petyr sails aboard the Merling King and takes possession of Sansa on the Blackwater Bay, and also carries the Titan of Braavos symbolism with him via his father’s sigil, and the Titan is certainly a type of Sea Lord; while Drogo on the other hand is the lord of the Dothraki Sea and immediately takes Dany into that sea after they are wed / Dany is sold. There is even good cause to believe that the House with the Red Door in Braavos that Dany grew up in was located in the Sealord’s Palace, which would be a nice fit with the symbolism we are talking about.

Yet another parallel between Dontos and Viserys comes with Viserys being called a fool, which happens many times (and rightfully so), and his stubborn refusal to change in Dothraki clothes leaves his court clothes turning to rags before long, with rags and patchwork being a part of the fool body of symbolism.

Before we move on from Jorah’s little speech about the various kinds of grasses which opens the chapter, I’ll just briefly point out that this is also the “oceans of ghost grass taller than a man on horseback with stalks as pale as milkglass. It murders all other grass and glows in the dark with the spirits of the damned.” It’s an ocean of grass, like the Dothraki Sea, but this is ghost grass and it’s like a cross between the Others, Dawn, and grass. Point being, the “oceans of ghost grass” line can now be seen yet another clue about the Others coming from a part of the weirwoodnet, a part that they might be killing or freezing somehow, in accordance with the prophecy of the ghost grass killing covering the world and killing everything. That’s actually kind of a major revelation, but it’s also somewhat beside the point and so we’ll have to come back to it another time.

After Dany shivers and says ‘ooh, I don’t want to think about that,’ we do actually catch sight of the Others! The next paragraph begins with

She heard the sound of voices and turned to look behind her. She and Mormont had outdistanced the rest of their party, and now the others were climbing the ridge below them.

As with most potential “others” double meanings like this, it’s hard to know if it was intended or not, but coming directly on the heels of Martin’s choice to include the obvious Others clue of the ghost grass in Jorah’s ‘introduction to the green see’ speech, it kind of makes sense to drop little clues that you know… maybe the Others are lurking around here somewhere.

After the last quote, Martin immediately begins building up the contrast between Viserys, the fish out of water, and Dany, who is already adapting to the green grass sea. Irri and the young Dothraki archers are called “as fluid as centaurs,” a nice way of describing them as watery horse people – fluid centaurs, if you will, the kind that can ride the waves of the Dothraki Sea. Horse people that ride in the sea might be seen as sea horse people anyway, so they might as well be fluid centaurs. Then, after Viserys starts to pitch one of his usual snits, Dany decides not to let him ruin the day and rides off alone into the grass sea for fun. After a bit of flashback recalling Dany’s adjustment to Dothraki life, which includes the dragon dream where she is burned and melted by the dragon but feels cleansed and renewed, we get some good green see language.

At the bottom of the ridge, the grasses rose around her, tall and supple. Dany slowed to a trot and rode out onto the plain, losing herself in the green, blessedly alone. In the khalasar she was never alone. Khal Drogo came to her only after the sun went down, but her handmaids fed her and bathed her and slept by the door of her tent…

Dany is never alone – her handmaids are always bathing her, don’t chya know? The dream of being melted and cleansed by the dragon that came a page or two prior also hits on the bathing theme, which is really just one way to see Nissa Nissa’s transformation inside the green see of the weirwoodnet. We see that symbolism coming to life here in Dany as she immerses herself in the green Dothraki Sea. “Losing herself in the green” alludes to dissolution of self to merge with the weirwoodnet, I would say, which his exactly what happens when a greenseer dies. If Nissa Nissa went into the weirwoodnet when she died, it makes sense to see her “losing herself in the green,” I think. Skipping over a couple of sentences, I’ll pick the quote back up:

She rode on, submerging herself deeper in the Dothraki sea. The green swallowed her up. The air was rich with the scents of earth and grass, mixed with the smell of horseflesh and Dany’s sweat and the oil in her hair. Dothraki smells. They seemed to belong here. Dany breathed it all in, laughing. She had a sudden urge to feel the ground beneath her, to curl her toes in that thick black soil. Swinging down from her saddle, she let the silver graze while she pulled off her high boots.

Dany is not only losing herself in the sea, now she is submersing and submerging herself deeper into the green sea of grass. There’s also a line a moment later where Viserys calls Dany out for looking like a Dothraki, and, regarding herself, barefoot and wearing Dothraki riding leathers, Dany agrees and observes that she “looked as though she belonged here.” Here, in the green see she’s submersed in… it’s where she belongs. The natives of the green see of the weirwoods are of course the children of the forest, and we’ve seen the mermaid symbolism used as a way to imply Nissa Nissa as a denizen of the “sea,” i.e. a denizen of the realm of the greenseers. It’s worth noting that Dany is something of a “child-woman” at this point – recall Illyrio referring to Dany as “the frightened child who sheltered in my manse” and was reborn in blood and fire on the Dothraki Sea. Dany is a child-woman who belongs in the green see, if you catch my drift.

My favorite part is when she takes off her boots in order to feel the ground beneath her and curl her toes in the soil… kind of like a tree taking root. Nissa Nissa is the weirwood goddess, after all, and the entire point of the weirwood stigmata symbolism is that it shows a Nissa Nissa figure turning into a weirwood tree. And just when Dany’s toes start taking root in the soil…

…then Ironborn mythology starts happening.

Viserys came upon her as sudden as a summer storm, his horse rearing beneath him as he reined up too hard.

A dragon that’s like a storm – sounds like the Storm God’s thunderbolt which we think is really a meteor dragon, that one that sets the tree ablaze and creates the weirwood symbol. He’s reigning up too hard – like meteor storm hard, you think? That’s about as hard as a storm god gets, I think. You know what would be great is if George would like, I don’t know, mix in some Azor Ahai stabbing Nissa Nissa symbolism and overlay it with the storm dragon striking the tree, just to show that Nissa is like the tree and the falling thunderbolt meteor dragon is like Lightbringer?

His hand went under her vest, his fingers digging painfully into her breast. “Do you hear me?” Dany shoved him away, hard.

Oh, okay, going for the breast is it? Viserys does this to her a few times, and each time it is a.) sexual abuse and b.) a symbolic reference to Azor Ahai stabbing Nissa Nissa after asking her to bare her breast (which also qualifies as abuse, as I’ve maintained from the beginning). Here’s the thing: the ‘weirwood goddess’ Nissa Nissa bared her breast, yes, but then got stabbed in the heart, and this bloody heart symbol seems like another reference to the heart trees. It makes sense, as the Nissa Nissa figures always manifest their bloody stigmata during Lightbringer forging scenes – think of Dany eating the bloody horse heart to get her stigmata, for example.  Dany is kinda over Viserys’s bullshit at this point, and shoves him away, good for her. Then we get more Ironborn mythology:

Viserys stared at her, his lilac eyes incredulous. She had never defied him. Never fought back. Rage twisted his features. He would hurt her now, and badly, she knew that.

Crack. The whip made a sound like thunder. The coil took Viserys around the throat and yanked him backward. He went sprawling in the grass, stunned and choking. The Dothraki riders hooted at him as he struggled to free himself.

Recall that it was the fiery lash of Khal Drogo’s ghost rising from the lchemical wedding bonfire that seemed to snake down and crack open the first dragon’s egg, and that the second one cracked open with a sound like thunder. Here in the Dothraki Sea, we have a thunderous whip cracking against a dragon, Viserys, and this comes as Daenerys was worried about “waking the dragon” of Viserys’s anger. Instead, it looks like foolish Viserys has gotten more fire of the gods than he bargained for, in a preview of things to come; the whip coils around his throat like a noose and he chokes and struggles for breath, sprawled out on the grass of the sea. Then he’s on his knees like a sacrifice or praying man, and it says

Jhogo gave a pull on the whip, yanking Viserys around like a puppet on a string. He went sprawling again, freed from the leather embrace, a thin line of blood under his chin where the whip had cut deep.

That’s a red smile for Viserys, a weirwood sacrifice symbol to go along with his hanging by whip. Then we get a clue about Viserys as someone who is rejected or spit out of the weirwoodnet, as with Dany pushing him away earlier:

He was a pitiful thing. He had always been a pitiful thing. Why had she never seen that before? There was a hollow place inside her where her fear had been.

Hollow… like a tree that people can live inside? Or a moon egg whose dragon has been woken, perhaps? Then as Dany condemns him to walk behind the Khalasar, Dany ask Jorah if he’ll get lost, and there is talk of waking dragons and even waking the dead:

Jorah laughed. “Where else should he go? If he cannot find the khalasar, the khalasar will most surely find him. It is hard to drown in the Dothraki sea, child.”

Dany saw the truth of that. The khalasar was like a city on the march, but it did not march blindly. Always scouts ranged far ahead of the main column, alert for any sign of game or prey or enemies, while outriders guarded their flanks. They missed nothing, not here, in this land, the place where they had come from. These plains were a part of them … and of her, now.

“I hit him,” she said, wonder in her voice. Now that it was over, it seemed like some strange dream that she had dreamed. “Ser Jorah, do you think … he’ll be so angry when he gets back …” She shivered. “I woke the dragon, didn’t I?”

Ser Jorah snorted. “Can you wake the dead, girl? Your brother Rhaegar was the last dragon, and he died on the Trident. Viserys is less than the shadow of a snake.”

Ok, so a bunch just happened – Jorah somewhat ironically says it’s hard to drown in the Dothraki Sea; it’s actually implied that a greenseer or skinchanger can indeed drink too deeply of the green fountain and lose yourself. Ultimately, Viserys drowns in molten gold on the Dothraki Sea, so there you go. Then we get the all-important line about the plains being a part of the Dothraki, and a part of her. The ‘green see’ is a part of Nissa Nissa… just as Nissa Nissa looks like she belongs in the sea. The see is a part of her now because she only goes into the see after forging Lightbringer and undergoing death transformation. After that… Nissa Nissa is the see, and the see is Nissa Nissa.

But now that it’s over, this whole event in the green Dothraki Sea seems like some strange dream Dany had dreamed. Yikes! Dany is dreaming in the green see, like a green-dreamer! And once again, we are presented with the idea that the green see itself is like a dream of Nissa Nissa, that the weirwoodnet itself can be thought of as the mind of Nissa Nissa, in a sense. It compares well to Asha dreaming of the burning wood that contains the black, burning stag and the fiery hearts after she played the role of a tree-woman Nissa Nissa. The woods that is like a sea exists in the dream of Nissa Nissa.

In fact, Daenerys herself is quite the dreamer, just in general – everything she needed to know to wake the dragons basically came to her in dreams. Now, perhaps Quaithe was helping a bit, but the point is – Dany has a ton of visionary dreams, basically more than anyone. Dany’s historical Targaryen namesake, Daenys the Dreamer foresaw the Doom of Valyria, and in fact made enough prophecies to fill an entire book, including, in all likelihood, the Prince That Was Promised prophecy. Daenys the Dreamer most likely an echo of Dany and reflects the important role dreams and visions have in the arc of Daenerys and of course, Nissa Nissa, who dreams the green see.

So after Dany pronounces it all a dream, she asks Jorah if she woke any dragons, and Jorah asks her in return if she can wake the dead. This is weirwood goddess resurrecting the Night’s Watch green zombies talk! The green zombies watchmen always have fiery dragon symbolism, like the burning scarecrow brothers in Jon’s dream or like Beric the fiery scarecrow knight, so waking dragons and waking the dead… are the exact things the weirwood goddess does from inside of the green see, after she has died and merged with it. Jorah is referring to Rhaegar here as the dead dragon, but it’s Rhaegar’s son Jon Snow who is the dragon in need of resurrection, and it will be a different weirwood goddess figure, Melisandre, who will probably play a part in his zombie-fication.

On top of all that, we even get a throw away line about Rhaegar dying on the Trident. As we know, Dany’s naming of Rhaegal the green dragon after her brother’s death on the “green banks of the Trident” acts as a kind of symbolic resurrection for Rhaegar, and it happens here in the green Dothraki Sea, a la Azor Ahai being reborn from the sea. In fact, we are right about to talk about that rascally green dragon a bit more in just a second, because I had to save all the good Rhaegal stuff that pertains to the green see wordplay until after I unveiled the green see wordplay. That’s right, I did an entire episode on Rhaegal the green dragon, who seems dedicated to expressing the greenseer dragon idea, without ever referencing the green see wordplay… so you know we will catch George using the green see chicanery with his scenes, and indeed we do.

Just to finish off the chapter, I will inform you that we have a bath – a real one this time, with soap and water. Totally tame, no symbolism at all and – oh wait. No, this is the bath where she hears the story about the moon cracking to give birth to dragons, we better look again. So after Dany’s confrontation with Viserys and a bit of frank conversation with Jorah about the chances of Viserys ever retaking the Seven Kingdoms (spoiler alert: they’re not good), Dany rides away, eventually arriving at her tent which has been pitched by a spring fed pool. There she takes a hot bath and her handmaidens tell her about that old second moon that wandered too close to the sun!

This is but one of many parallel Dany bathing scenes, and this one is kind of the best because she symbolizes a drowning moon maiden as she hears about the destruction of the second moon… which was scalded by the cracked open like an egg. We know this scene well, as it’s the centerpiece of my very first theory, but now we can see all the intense Nissa Nissa-in-the-green-see symbolism that leads up to it. Fun, huh? This chapter started with a ton of green grass sea symbolism, which is all about Nissa Nissa immersing in the green see of the weirwoodnet, and finishes with the comparatively mundane metaphor of a moon maiden taking a bath, but there are both the same metaphor, and pretty much any time Dany takes a bath, we get symbolism tied to the death of Nissa Nissa and the moon and the waking of dragons, forging of Lightbringer, and so on. And once I’ll remind you that this is the chapter with Dany’s dragon dream of a dragon that roasts her in dragonflame and boils and melts the blood and flesh from her bones, and yet somehow cleanses her and makes her stronger. Ergo, we can see that the idea of a Lightbringer forging and rebirth, dragon-based magical ceremony being tied to a bath is really woven all throughout this chapter.

Now let’s check out Daenerys swimming in yet another iteration of the green see, this time with her green dragon at her side…

The Jade Empress Nissa Nissa

Don’t get too excited by the section title; I am not starting new tinfoil about a hidden line of the gemstone emperors or anything like that. This isn’t about bloodlines. We are still firmly planting our feet in the realm of green see symbolism, and we are going to talk about jade and the Jade Sea and a lot of Dany’s stuff in Qarth, so there you have it.

What I’d like to do next is to tie the green sea to Rhaegal the green dragon. I think you’re going to like this. As we know, Rhaegal was born amidst blood and fire on the green Dothraki Sea, just as Dany was reborn there. We know the cracking of his egg was like thunder, and that the burning logs with “secret hearts” exploded as his egg did. We know that he was named for Rhaegar, who died on those green banks of the Trident, a river named for the weapon of a sea god.

We’ve already seen that the green of Rhaegal’s scales can be described as “the green of moss in the deep woods at dusk, just before the last light fades,” which, now that we look at it again, contains a Deepwood Motte reference, since it’s the moss in a deep wood at dusk. That’s good, because the ocean-like forest of Deepwood Motte was full of greenseer / green sea puns. Of course, the green-of-moss-in-the-deep-wood description also matches the exact description of the eyes of greenseers, or green-dreamers like Jojen, yet another clue about greenseers hidden in Rhaegal’s symbolism. But there’s another description of Rhaegal’s green scales in ADWD when Dany goes down into the pit beneath the pyramid with Ser Barristan, and it leads us back to greenseers as well pretty quickly:

Rhaegal wore matching chains.  In the light of Selmy’s lantern, his scales gleamed like jade. 

That’s not the only time Rhaegal is associated with jade. When the Tourmaline Brotherhood of Qarth gives her a three-headed dragon crown, the head are made of jade, ivory, and onyx, for the colors of her three dragons. And another time in ACOK, there’s a line about Rhaegal’s “jade green wings,” giving us the magic number of three jade references for Rhaegal.

Why is jade important?  Well, thinking back to Melisandre’s voice being flavored with the music of the Jade Sea and how “Jade Sea” could be translated as “green sea,” comparing Rhaegal’s green to jade is akin to likening it to the green of the sea. Remembering that he was called a green serpent and that his egg had a “deep green” shell, he’s basically a jade-green, deep sea-serpent. He also compares very well to Renly’s armor, which was like a “deep green pond” but also a “deep green wood” with the gold fastenings gleaming like “like distant fires in that wood.” Pretty sure there is some fire lurking beneath Rhaegal’s forest green / jade green scales, it’s safe to say.

The two descriptions of the scales of the green dragon, in other words, both allude to greenseeing: the green of moss on trees, like the eyes of greenseers, and the green of jade, alluding to the Jade Sea a.k.a. “the Green Sea.”

The other major thing that jade calls out to in ASOIAF is the jade demon, a.k.a. wildfire. Wildfire, as we’ve just discovered, is also part of the green sea symbolism, just like the green dragon and the sea dragon. Aegon the Unworthy’s wooden dragons were filled with the jade demon, for example, and those jade dragon demons set the kingswood on fire. Dragons themselves are like demons, and they come from Asshai on the Jade Sea, and Rhaegal the jade green dragon is full of fire, which although mostly yellow and red and orange, is sometimes laced with green. At the Battle of the Blackwater, we saw a fifty-foot tall jade demon hatch from a ship full of wildfire, a nice combination of the burning-ship-as-sea dragon symbolism and jade demon wildfire symbolism.

So, in terms of greenseer dragon symbols, we have the sea dragon, the green dragon, and green wildfire, and they are all basically interchangeable. They are all getting at the same idea with similar combinations of symbols, and they often appear together with one another… and Rhaegal is tied to them all.

The fun really begins when Rhaegal the jade green sea dragon goes to the Jade Sea – well, Qarth by the Jade Sea. It’s amazing how much Rhaegal hogs the spotlight in these scenes by the Jade Sea, I have to say. But before we get to that, let me briefly introduce the Jade Sea itself, because, you know… you might think I’m being over-eager by saying that the Jade Sea = the green see simply because jade is usually green. Well.

Let’s start with a fun easter egg which lumps the Jade Sea with some pretty notable companions and actual greenseeing. Oops, it looks like it was right in the first book! Almost like George planned ahead or something.

He lifted his eyes and saw clear across the narrow sea, to the Free Cities and the green Dothraki sea and beyond, to Vaes Dothrak under its mountain, to the fabled lands of the Jade Sea, to Asshai by the Shadow, where dragons stirred beneath the sunrise.

That was from Bran’s coma dream vision in AGOT of course, and you’ll notice the greenseer / green see wordplay Martin worked in. Bran is actually and literally using his fledgling greenseer ability here, and in this vision he greensees across the Narrow Sea, and then to the green Dothraki Sea, and then to the Jade Sea! I mean that’s enough green see wordplay to overwhelm even ravenous Reader! Just kidding, Ravenous Reader has an infinite threshold for wordplay, this I can say for a certainty. Here’s one even Ravenous might have missed though: the dragons are “stirring” beneath the sunrise. Stirring, like a latte or a smoothie. These are water dragons we’re talking about, ha ha! I kid, I kid; that one is probably not meant as a sea dragon clue, but the seeing across the Narrow Sea to the green Dothraki sea to the Jade Sea while greenseeing thing is no accident, that I can assure you. And once again we see the suggestion of there being a link between the dragons and dragonlords from Asshai-by-the-Shadow and greenseers. Said another way, Bran finds himself in the green dream, and what is he doing? He’s imagining dragons. Heh heh. Dragons always exist inside the green sea and inside the dreams of the greenseer.

Dany loves to dream of dragons more than anyone, and in her wake the dragon dream, she also dreams of her ancestors from the Great Empire of the Dawn, which were discussed at length in our episode with History of Westeros. The rulers of the Great Empire are named after gemstones, and there were eight of them, and four of these appeared in the eyes of the kingly ghosts in her dream: opal, amethyst, tourmaline, and jade. They all have silver gold hair and flaming swords, but each with eyes according to these four gems. The one with amethyst eyes makes a model Valyrian, but what do we call the dragon lord ghost with jade green eyes? A green dragon? The jade is found in the eyes here, which could certainly be meant to imply a greenseer dragonlord.

I found a kind of easter-egg companion to the jade sea dragon concept in TWOIAF which does brings us to the shores of the Jade Sea in the Empire of Yi Ti. There’s a little sidebar section that gives us a long list of various YiTish emperors of note from various dynasties named after different colors, and there we read of the “sea-green emperors.” Their name may have been taken for their dominance at sea, for we are told of the 6th, 7th, and 8th of the sea-green emperors,

..under whose rule the empire reached the apex of its power.  Jar Har conquered Leng, Jar Joq took Greater Morag, Jar Han exacted tribute from Qarth, Old Ghis, Asshai, and other far-flung lands, and traded with Valyria. 

As you can see, all these conquests would have been made by sea, so the sea green emperors were indeed skilled sailors who ruled over the Jade Sea. This is a perfect greenseer metaphor: the sea-green emperors rule the Jade Sea, huh? Even better is Jar Har the sea-green emperor and his conquest of Leng, and thanks to Colin Longstrider, the Eighth Spoke of the Wandering Wheel for this find.

Legends persist that the Old Ones still live beneath the jungle of Leng. So many of the warriors that Jar Har sent down below the ruins returned mad or not at all that the god-emperor finally decreed the vast underground cities’ ruins should be sealed up and forgotten. Even today, it is forbidden to enter such places, under penalty of torture and death.

If you’ve listened to my Old Ones segment on Ideas of Ice and Fire’s channel, you know that I associate Leng and the Old Ones with the horned lord mythology, and of the haunted caves certainly seem like the familiar greenseer cavern symbolism, with a nod to Gendel and Gorne’s legend of being lost in the caves. And who is sending soldiers down into these caves? The Sea Green God-Emperor Jar Har. One has to wonder about the idea of sealing up the weirwoodnet as a solution to all the problems of magical imbalance in the story…. that might make a certain amount of sense.

Now sitting aside the Jade Gates which provide entrance to the Jade Sea is Qarth, and when Dany the sometimes sea dragon goes there, we find some things worth talking about – so let’s go there.  In particular, there is some heavy symbolism going on with the Pureborn that pertains to sea dragons and greenseers both.  To begin with, Daenerys is going to them seeking boats to carry her and her dragons and her army back to Westeros: she’s seeking sea dragons, in other words, just as the boats which eventually carry her away from Qarth are named after dragons and all the rest.  In order to do so, she dresses in green, making herself a green dragon:

Rhaegal hissed and dug sharp black claws into her bare shoulder as Dany stretched out a hand for the wines. Wincing, she shifted him to her other shoulder, where he could claw her gown instead of her skin. She was garbed after the Qarthine fashion. Aaron had warned her that the Enthroned would never listen to a Dothraki, so she had taken care to go before them in flowing green samite with one bared breast, silvered sandals on her feet, with a belt of black and white pearls round her waist. 

Notice the black and white pearls: pearls are distinct moon symbols, so this implies black and white moons or black and white moon meteors. This makes for a great complement to the green dress, because she’s wearing the colors of her dragons (black, white, and green) and also telling us a story about green dragons and two moons. Pulling this palanquin are two bulls, one white and one black, again suggesting a white moon and a black moon. To cap it off, Rhaegal the green dragon perches on her green dress – it seems she only brought the green dragon with her to see the Pureborn. It’s one of those double symbols, where Dany wears green and is thus a green dragon herself, and she also wears a green dragon like a garment.

Dany is calling out the Amethyst Empress and Nissa Nissa here as well. The naked breast of Qarthine fashion is an allusion to the tale of Lightbringer’s forging, where Azor Ahai told Nissa Nissa to bare her breast to the sword. Hat-tip, someone on the internet a long time whose name I cannot recall. And just before the paragraph above, it says:

Dany’s tight silver collar was chafing against her throat. She unfastened it and flung it aside. The collar was set with an enchanted amethyst Xaro swore would protect her against all poisons. 

This works very well as a parallel to Mel’s ruby choker necklace which also seems to protect her from poison, but of course an amethyst is appropriate for Daenerys, the Amethyst Empress Reborn (™ Durran Durrandon).

Returning to the Pureborn themselves, we find greenseer clues. As you just heard, they are also called “the Enthroned,” and that is the word used for the singers “enthroned” on their weirwood thrones in Bloodraven’s cave. The Pureborn even have old, wooden thrones:

The Pureborn heard her pleas from great wooden seats of their ancestors, rising in curved tiers form a marble floor to a high-domed ceiling painted with scenes of Qarth’s vanished glory. 

‘Great wooden thrones of their ancestors’ would be a good description of greenseer thrones, thrones which literally contain the spirits of a greenseer’s ancestors, as well as every scene of vanished glory in the history of humankind, and then some.

Descendants of the ancient kings and queens of Qarth, the Pureborn commanded the Civic Guard and the fleet of ornate allies that ruled the straights between the seas. Dany wanted that fleet, or part of it, and some of their soldiers as well. 

There’s another emphasis of their very old blood, and we learn that they command the fleets – the boats Dany wants to make sea dragons.  And then there’s one final greenseer clue, after describing the way in which each wooden throne was bedecked with jewels, including jade, we read:

Yet the men who sat in them seemed so listless and world-weary that they might have been asleep. 

They’re dreamers in wooden thrones! They rule the Jade Gates which give entrance to the Jade Sea. They bestow sea dragons upon seekers.. or not. Dany’s role here is of one seeking to be a green dragon, and though she is denied, she does ultimately get her fleet of three sea-dragon boats (recall that she names them after Aegon’s three dragons) that carry her to her next destination, with her dragons diving into the water like sea dragons all the way.

As Dany is making her way through Qarth in Xaro’s palanquin having this conversation about the Pureborn, we get another green dragon / green sea clue.

She stroked Rhaegal. The green dragon closed his teeth around the meat of her hand and nipped hard. Outside, the great city murmured and thrummed and seethed, all its myriad voices blending into one low sound like the surge of the sea.

Basically what is happening here is that Daenerys is a green dragon by virtue of her green dress, she’s wearing her green dragon, and now she’s navigating through a surging sea. Rhaegal and she are both sea dragons now. Similarly, Rhaegal sniffs the wine and hisses, provoking Xaro to say that he has a good nose and that they should sail to the Jade Sea to get some really good wine, presumably wine that the green dragon might approve of. I’ll also point out the last line of the quote we just pulled – “myriad voices blending into one low sound like the surge of the sea.” This line speaks of the the hive mind made up of all the dead singers (the myriad voices) which which makes up the weirwoodnet, which we are calling the green see. That is exactly the sea that the green dragon must navigate.

There’s another curious call-out to the Great Empire of the Dawn in this sequence as well. Dany is asking Xaro for ships, and he is listing all the things he has already given here, including those black and white bulls, whose horns are inlaid with gemstones.  Dany say “Yes, but it was ships and soldiers I wanted,” and then a moment later, “my bullocks cannot carry me across the water” – those lunar bulls are not sea dragons yet, in other words. Zaro has also given her a thousand knights in shining armor – but miniature ones, tiny statue knights in armor of gold and silver, and they were made of “jade and beryl and onyx and tourmaline, of amber and opal and amethyst.” Setting aside beryl and amber, we have five out of the eight gemstones of the rulers of the Great Empire of the Dawn listed there, including the four specifically named in Dany’s wake the dragon: tourmaline, opal, amethyst, and jade. A thousand sword-like things (the thousand miniature knights) are generally a symbol of the meter shower of a thousand thousand dragons, and gemstones are equated with stars at times, so this is a meteor shower army decked out in the trappings of the Great Empire. The way I would interpret this is as a hint that the meteor shower was triggered by the Great Empire of the Dawn – by the Bloodstone Emperor, to be exact.

Perhaps best of all, just as Dany is pointing out that the bulls are not ships, the palanquin is forced to come to a  halt, because the crowd has stopped to oggle at a…

…wait for it…

…a fire sorcerer. That’s right, this is where the fire mage appears to climb the fiery ladder, and Quaithe of the Shadow appears to tell Dany that her dragons have made magic stronger in the world. The path of the green sea dragon leads to a fire sorcerer – and a shadow sorcerer from Asshai thrown in for good measure. The actual quote is worth pulling:

Jhogo rode back to her. “A firemage, Khaleesi.”

“I want to see.”

“Then you must.” The Dothraki offered a hand down. When she took it, he pulled her up onto his horse and sat her in front of him, where she could see over the heads of the crowd. The firemage had conjured a ladder in the air, a crackling orange ladder of swirling flame that rose unsupported from the floor of the bazaar, reaching toward the high latticed roof.

We have discussed the notion of Odin riding a shamanic horse to journey throughout the cosmos before when talking about Yggdrasil, and we are actually going to go further with that topic in the next episode and discuss Sleipnir, which is also a kind of astral projection horse Odin rides. Sleipnir is famously a grey horse, and Dnay just so happens to ride a grey horse all around the green Dothraki Sea, so… that’s going to be a fun episode, and actually started as part of this one, but it got to long, yadda yadda yadda. In any case, can see that symbolism at work here as Dany mounts a horse to “see,” just as Odin mounted Yggdrasil, his gallows horse, to see the runes. Instead of runes – although we have seen red priest make fiery glyphs appear in the air – Daenerys sees the mage and his fiery ladder, and they key line is the “latticed roof.” The word lattice or latticework is always a “latticework of stars” keyword in ASOIAF, so this fire mage climbing his ladder is signifying just what you’d think: he’s trying to use fire magic to ascend to heaven, so of course he disappears upon reaching the top. Thanks to Stone Dancer, The Mind’s Eye, Whorl-Master of the Trident for the lattice find.

And then, Quaithe appears:

When the fiery ladder stood forty feet high, the mage leapt forward and began to climb it, scrambling up hand over hand as quick as a monkey. Each rung he touched dissolved behind him, leaving no more than a wisp of silver smoke. When he reached the top, the ladder was gone and so was he.

“A fine trick,” announced Jhogo with admiration.

“No trick,” a woman said in the Common Tongue.

Dany had not noticed Quaithe in the crowd, yet there she stood, eyes wet and shiny behind the implacable red lacquer mask. “What mean you, my lady?”

“Half a year gone, that man could scarcely wake fire from dragonglass. He had some small skill with powders and wildfire, sufficient to entrance a crowd while his cutpurses did their work. He could walk across hot coals and make burning roses bloom in the air, but he could no more aspire to climb the fiery ladder than a common fisherman could hope to catch a kraken in his nets.”

Quaithe is playing the role of an undead Nissa Nissa inside the net, very like Stoneheart or the Ghost of High Heart. She wears a red lacquer mask, also referred to as a painted wooden mask, which mimics the carved red faces on the weirwood trees which are like wooden masks for the greenseers inside. She contacts Dany in dreams and visions in a way that is very much parallel with Bloodraven and Bran, and of course she is from Asshai, representative of the hot hell underworld which seems to be inside the weirwoods. In this scene, her eyes are wet and shiny, hinting at the sea that lies behind the weirwood mask.

And look, she’s making deep sea analogies! Welcome to the club, Quaithe. Before the dragons were reborn into the world, this mage could no more hope to ascend the fiery ladder than catch a kraken in his nets. That’s hilarious, because Azor Ahai climbing the fiery ladder to the stars and entering the weirwoodnet is akin to the weirwoodnet catching a sea monster or sea dragon. Krakens arms are likened to tree roots in a couple of scenes, the idea of a kraken in a net seems like George making his own “weirwoodnet” joke here. One thinks of Sam the Night’s Watch brother and “black leviathan” coming up out of the well at the Nightfort and “flopping” around in a “puddle of moonlight” whilst ensnared in Meera Reed’s net.

So let’s step back and look at the sequence here: George shows us several versions of Dany as a dragon in the green see, from entreating the Pureborn on their wooden thrones to sailing through the sea of people on her palanquin to the very fact that it all happens within smelling distance of the Jade Sea – and then we get a bunch of dragon waking and fire of the gods Lightbringer forging symbolism at the end. Just as Dany’s third chapter immersing herself in the green see ended with the story of the waking of dragons from the moon, this voyage through the various seas ends with a firemage ascending to heaven and Quaithe discussing the reemergence of dragons and magic to the world.

So – whether it’s the green Dothraki Sea or the Jade Sea or just a nice hot bath, Dany is going swimming.

Quaithe is actually delivering us a message about Nissa Nissa’s death enabling Azor Ahai to climb the fiery ladder into the stars here, I hope you can see that. Quaithe is literally telling Dany that this fiery mage would not have been able to scale the ladder to the sky before she birthed the dragons – meaning that her moon death and dragon-birthing ritual is what opened the doors to heaven for Azor Ahai. This is entirely in keeping with the weirwood door symbolism – Nissa Nissa is a door through which Azor Ahai enters the weirwoodnet, where he can do astral projection and fly amongst the stars. Nissa Nissa’s magic is what makes it possible, and in particular, her death and transformation makes it possible.

We see much the same at the alchemical wedding, where Dany’s Lightbringer bonfire creates a smoky stallion that Drogo can ride into the stars:

Another step, and Dany could feel the heat of the sand on the soles of her feet, even through her sandals. Sweat ran down her thighs and between her breasts and in rivulets over her cheeks, where tears had once run. Ser Jorah was shouting behind her, but he did not matter anymore, only the fire mattered. The flames were so beautiful, the loveliest things she had ever seen, each one a sorcerer robed in yellow and orange and scarlet, swirling long smoky cloaks. She saw crimson firelions and great yellow serpents and unicorns made of pale blue flame; she saw fish and foxes and monsters, wolves and bright birds and flowering trees, each more beautiful than the last. She saw a horse, a great grey stallion limned in smoke, its flowing mane a nimbus of blue flame. Yes, my love, my sun-and-stars, yes, mount now, ride now.

Her vest had begun to smolder, so Dany shrugged it off and let it fall to the ground. The painted leather burst into sudden flame as she skipped closer to the fire, her breasts bare to the blaze, streams of milk flowing from her red and swollen nipples. Now, she thought, now, and for an instant she glimpsed Khal Drogo before her, mounted on his smoky stallion, a flaming lash in his hand. He smiled, and the whip snaked down at the pyre, hissing.

Hat-tip for Unchained for first spotting this grey stallion as Sleipnir, the grey astral projection horse – and again, we will go to town on astral projection horses in the next episode. But you can see the definite parallels to the fire mage scene in Qarth here. We see the fiery sorcerers appear in the flames, a match to the fire mage climbing the ladder, and by the end, Drogo himself has become a fiery sorcerer himself. He’s mounting the grey stallion made up of fire and smoke, the one which rises like a mushroom cloud from the Lightbringer bonfire where the moon dies.

We know that the Dothraki believe that their valiant dead become the stars in the sky, a fiery khalasar riding through the nightlands – through the celestial sea of space, if you will. Drogo is identified with the red comet by Daenerys, so what is happening here according to Dothraki beliefs and Dany’s perceptions is that Drogo is riding the smokey stallion into space, where he then rides the red comet as his celestial stallion. And all this is enabled by Daenerys and Drogo creating the alchemical wedding bonfire in the green sea, just as the fire mage in Qarth is only able to climb the fiery ladder because Dany has brought magic back into the world by creating the alchemical wedding bonfire.

Of course we know that Daenerys becomes Azor Ahai reborn herself after the alchemical wedding, and accordingly, she shares the same astral projection and comet-riding symbolism we see with with post-death transformation Drogo. For example, we see Dany riding Drogon, just as reborn Drogo rode the comet. We see her riding her grey horse with a mane like silver smoke in the green see, just as reborn Drogo rides the grey smoky stallion. And at the end of the green dragon episode, we dropped that quote about touching the comet that I am going to keep quoting until we can fully wrap our brains around it:

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

Inspired by the green dragon’s attempt at flight, Dany muses: if she could just fly high enough, she could see better and even touch the comet. This passage reads a lot like Bran’s vision of flying over the world and seeing the dragons beneath the sunrise in Asshai and then all the way to the Heart of Winter in Westeros, I have to say. That’s something we are going to see as we continue to follow Dany’s greenseer symbolism, a convergence with Bran’s symbolism. It stands to reason, right? Many have already picked out Dany’s House of the Undying experience as running in parallel with bran’s weirwood paste session in Bloodraven’s cave, and I am here to tell you that is where it starts, not where it ends.

This is where this episode ends, however, as going any further with the astral projection horse ideas will lead to another ten thousand words, easy. We’ve covered a lot of ground today, and the simple idea of Daenerys manifesting so much greenseer symbolism is a stunning revelation in and of itself which gives us a lot to discuss. So thanks for joining me, and I will see you again soon with Weirwood Compendium 8: The Silver Sea Horse.

B2WW #6: Religion Redux

Part 2 of our panel on religion and its influences and manifestations in ASOIAF, featuring Gretchen Ellis (Fandomentalist, History is Gay), Brynden B-Fish (Not-a-Cast, Wars and Politics oIaF), and Sanrixian (Sanrixian Art)! Hosted by Lucifer means Lightbringer (Mythical Astronomy oIaF).

Not-a-cast: https://notacastasoiaf.podbean.com/
Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire: https://warsandpoliticsoficeandfire.wordpress.com/
Fandomentals: https://www.thefandomentals.com/
History is Gay: https://www.historyisgaypodcast.com/
Sanrixian merch: http://sanrixian.com/en/
Sanrixian artwork: http://mallorydorn.com/
Mythical Astronomy of Ice and Fire: https://lucifermeanslightbringer.com

Zodiac Children of Garth the Green

Hey there friends, patrons, and fellow mythical astronomers! It’s your starry host LmL, and I’m here with a very special edition episode, once which exists outside the confines of any compendium. Once, a long time ago, when I created the Patreon page for mythical astronomy and named my top tier of patrons after the 12 constellations of the zodiac, I promised an episode explaining how George was using the constellations in the story. Well, I am here today to fulfill my holy oath, sworn in the sight of gods and men, and to pay homage to those stalwart patrons known as the earthly avatars of the twelve houses of heaven.

So many stars, he thought as he trudged up the slope through pines and firs and ash. Maester Luwin had taught him his stars as a boy in Winterfell; he had learned the names of the twelve houses of heaven and the rulers of each; he could find the seven wanderers sacred to the Faith; he was old friends with the Ice Dragon, the Shadowcat, the Moonmaid, and the Sword of the Morning. All those he shared with Ygritte, but not some of the others. We look up at the same stars, and see such different things. The King’s Crown was the Cradle, to hear her tell it; the Stallion was the Horned Lord; the red wanderer that septons preached was sacred to their Smith up here was called the Thief. And when the Thief was in the Moonmaid, that was a propitious time for a man to steal a woman, Ygritte insisted. “Like the night you stole me. The Thief was bright that night.”

This scene from ASOS shows us that Jon Snow has a fairly decent knowledge of the stars, and of course it’s easy to figure that when he speaks of “twelve houses of heaven and the rulers of each,” he’s speaking not only of the twelve zodiac constellations – the rulers – but of the idea that each constellation rules a section or zone of sky along path of the ecliptic, which would be the house. It’s a detailed explanation of the function of the zodiac as a naming convention, in other words, which helps us come to the definitive conclusion that the zodiac is what he’s talking about here.

Unfortunately, we don’t get any other information on these twelve houses in the series proper – but then we got The World of Ice and Fire. In fact, this episode will also double as a great example of one of the many reasons why TWOIAF is far, far more than they typical “worldbook” that we often see in fantasy. TWOIAF is packed with puzzles and symbolism and clues about important mysteries in the main plot, and there’s one in particular that is specifically based on the zodiac. It’s a single page – page 208, to be exact – which contains a sidebar that takes up 90% of the page, and it’s titled “Some celebrated children of Garth Greenhand.” As you might guess, there are twelve children listed, although one of those children is actually a pair of twins, which – spoiler alert – will represent Gemini.

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
IV: The Zodiac Children of Garth the Green

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

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

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

Now in PODCAST form!

Click to open in iTunes

Here’s the full passage:

Those famous Garth kiddos

 John the Oak, the First Knight, who brought chivalry to Westeros (a huge man, all agree, eight feet tall in some tales, ten or twelve feet tall in others, sired by Garth Greenhand on a giantess). His own descendants became the Oakhearts of Old Oak.

Gilbert of the Vines, who taught the men of the Arbor to make sweet wine from the grapes that grew so fat and lush across their island, and who founded House Redwyne.

Florys the Fox, the cleverest of Garth’s children, who kept three husbands, each ignorant of the existence of the others. (From their sons sprang HouseFlorent, House Ball, and House Peake).

Maris the Maid, the Most Fair, whose beauty was so renowned that fifty lords vied for her hand at the first tourney ever to be held in Westeros. (The victor was the Grey Giant, Argoth Stone-Skin, but Maris wed King Uthor of the High Tower before he could claim her, and Argoth spent the rest of his days raging outside the walls of Oldtown, roaring for his bride.)

Foss the Archer, renowned for shooting apples off the head of any maid who took his fancy, from whom both the red apple and green apple Fossoways trace their descent.

Brandon of the Bloody Blade, who drove the giants from the Reach and warred against the children of the forest, slaying so many at Blue Lake that it has been known as Red Lake ever since.

Owen Oakenshield, who conquered the Shield Islands, driving the selkies and merlings back into the sea.

Harlon the Hunter and Herndon of the Horn, twin brothers who built their castle atop Horn Hill and took to wife the beautiful woods witch who dwelled there, sharing her favors for a hundred years (for the brothers did not age so long as they embraced her whenever the moon was full).

Bors the Breaker, who gained the strength of twenty men by drinking only bull’s blood, and founded House Bulwer of Blackcrown. (Some tales claim Borsdrank so much bull’s blood he grew a pair of shiny black horns.)

Rose of Red Lake, a skinchanger, able to transform into a crane at will—a power some say still manifests from time to time in the women of House Crane, her descendants.

Ellyn Ever Sweet, the girl who loved honey so much she sought out the King of the Bees in his vast mountain hive and made a pact with him, to care for his children and his children’s children for all time. She was the first beekeeper, and the mother to House Beesbury.

Rowan Gold-Tree, who was so bereft when her lover left her for a rich rival that she wrapped an apple in her golden hair, planted it upon a hill, and grew a tree whose bark and leaves and fruit were gleaming yellow gold, and to whose daughters the Rowans of Goldengrove trace their roots.

At a glance, several of these appear to have an obvious correlation to a zodiac sign: the twins would be Gemini as I mentioned, Bors the Breaker who drank bull’s blood and founder House Bulwer would be Taurus, Maris the Most Fair Maid might be Virgo “the Virgin,” Foss the Archer would be Sagittarius, a centaur with a bow and arrow, and… well, after that, it’s less obvious. Maybe Gilbert of the Vines who founded House Redwyne could be Aquarius, the water-bearer, of you turn the water into wine, but there’s no fox in the zodiac, nor a crane, no bee-keepers, no gold trees, and where do you even start with John the Oak, Owen Oakenshield, or Brandon of the Bloody Blade? I imagine many people saw the list of twelve colorful characters and thought “zodiac,” but since it appears to peter out after five or six correlations, I imagine nobody wrote any theories about it.

Well. Today we are going to do the detective work and figure this thing out. Additional clues can be gleaned from scenes in the book which either involve a character from a given house descended of Garth or symbolism related to the sigil of one of those houses, and also by diving a little deeper into the mythology behind each zodiac sign.  Which is what we’re about to do! We will start with the more obvious matches and work our way to the cryptic ones, including the one everyone wants to hear about, Brandon of the Bloody Blade.

This is a Patreon supporter special episode, and so our first thanks must go to our loyal and generous patrons, without whom the thing you know as Mythical Astronomy would not exist. In particular, I’d like to thank three patrons who recently bumped up their level of support, which is always greatly appreciated: JoJo Lady Dayne the Twilight Star, the born mouth, Daughter of Frost Giants and official secret-keeper of starry wisdom; Christine of House Dayne, Helmswoman of the Cinnamon Wind; Mollienissa, Keeper of the Moonsinger’s Law; and Jonnel “Blackheel” of House Thompson, wielder of a Valyrian steel tray of phish food and kraken tacos/

One of the first things to understand about the zodiacal constellations is all of them except Libra, the scales, are either animals or people who were placed in the heavens in honor of some dead they did before they died. They are memorials to dead people and animals, in other words, ones died bravely. I am speaking in the context of Greek myth here, because the Greek myths about the zodiac are the most well known and definitive in terms of western civilization – although it must be pointed out that we have thorough records of Sumerian astronomy incorporating the concept of a zodiac and some of the same constellations we use today. There’s also a very strong case to be made that Taurus is depicted with the Pleiades correctly placed over its shoulder in the cave paintings at Lascaux, France, which would have been painted before 10,000 BCE at the very earliest, and perhaps thousands of years earlier.

So, while the zodiac is very old, it is mainly Greek myth which defines our modern idea of the zodiac. And in Greek myth, the legends behind 11 of the 12 figures of the zodiac are memorials to the valiant dead. They’re heroes of one sort or another who have attained a second life in the amongst the stars, or we might say they now rule one of the twelve houses of heaven. The other main thing that kind of leaps out at you in these Greek myths about the zodiac is that there is a lot of human-animal transformation going on.

So think about this: a dozen heroes associated with human-animal transformation who died and were resurrected as star people? And these twelve somehow correlate with the twelve notable children of Garth the Green, the preeminent horned god figure in ASOIAF mythology? Garth the Green, whose description matches that of the green men on the Isle of Faces? I think you can see where this is going.

The most important symbolism attached to the number twelve in ASOIAF is the last hero’s twelve companions who died, but whom I theorize to have been resurrected as “green zombies,” the first Night’s Watch brothers. You know the theory: they were skinchangers or greenseers, like Jon, and this would have enabled them to be resurrected in a better way that Beric or Lady Stoneheart, as we expect Jon to be, and as Coldhands seems to already have been. Since the zodiac myths are already loaded with human-animal transformation and starry resurrection, they make a natural parallel to the idea of the last hero’s dozen resurrected skinchanger companions, and in fact it may have been part of George’s inspiration to give the last hero a dozen green zombies, assuming the green zombie is correct.

That’s kind of the point, actually, the “purpose” of hiding this zodiac puzzle in TWOIAF: it’s more evidence for the green zombie theory. We’ve already spent a bunch of time in the green zombie series tracing out the staggering amount of horned god / stag man / green man symbolism amongst the members of the Night’s Watch, and we know that resurrection and the cycle of the seasons is the dominant theme of all such corn king figures. That is the point of associating the Night’s Watch with cork king / green man mythology: it implies the dozen green zombie Night’s Watch brothers as stag men and skinchangers. Ergo, disguising this zodiac puzzle as the children of Garth the Green makes a ton of sense and simply reemphasizes the last hero’s dozen as human-animal hybrid people who died heroically and were resurrected as star people.

Accordingly, as we go through the twelve houses of the zodiac and their correlations in ASOIAF, we will find symbols of horned lords, the Night’s Watch, resurrection, weirwood blood drinking stuff, Long Night and War for the Dawn, and of course, lots of moon-related activity.

Bors the Breaker

This section is brought to you by our newest Guardian of the Galaxy patron Rickard Stargaryen, the Steelheart, Father of the Morning and Guardian of the Celestial Moonmaid; and by our priesthood of Starry Wisdom: Nyessa the Water Nymph, Goddess of Pain and Mercy; Jancylee, Lady of the Waves, Bear-Mama of the Sacred Den; Crowfood’s Daughter of the Disputed Lands YouTube channel; and The Bloody Tide, Lord of the Greenblood, the Merling-slayer of the Seven Sees

Bors the Breaker, Who gained the strength of 20 men by drinking only bull’s blood and founded House Bulwer of Blackcrown. (Some tales claim Bors drank so much bull’s blood that he grew a pair of shiny black horns.)

Bors Bulwer, who drank bull’s blood and according to some tales, grew a pair of bull’s horns, is obviously a match for Taurus. Taurus is perhaps the oldest constellation known to man; as I said, it is widely accepted to date back to the Bronze Age and and may date back to whenever the Lascaux caves were painted, again because over the shoulder of the one of the painted bulls in the cave, seven stars are painted in the shape of the Pleiades, in roughly the same location the Pleiades have to the constellation of Taurus. The Pleiades themselves are worth noting, because they appear to the naked eye as a cluster of seven stars, reminding us of the Faith of the Seven and their seven-pointed star. Before we even get into House Bulwer and bull-related affairs, I actually found the ASOIAF appearance of the Pleiades, which comes, fittingly, in the Battle of Seven Stars, which was the great conflict of legend between the Andal invaders and the First Men kingdoms of the Vale. Check out all the super heavy War for the Dawn language here.

After describing the emotions of the soldiers on the night before the big battle, we get this:

Clouds blew in from the east, hiding the moon and stars, so the night was dark indeed. The only light came from hundreds of campfires burning in the camps, with a river of darkness between them. 

That’s Long Night symbolism, clearly, and the men are the lights in the darkness like the Night’s Watch. The river of darkness / black river symbol makes an appearance, and it’s acting like a barrier or wall between the two fighters, like the Wall divides the Others and Night’s Watch. Think of Jon seeing the rivers of black ice in the cracks of the weeping Wall, perhaps. Then:

As the east began to lighten, men rose from their stony beds, donned their armor, and prepared for the battle. Then a shout rang through the Andal camp. There to the west, a sign had been seen: seven stars, gleaming in the grey dawn sky. “The gods are with us,” went up the cry from a thousand throats. “Victory is ours.” As trumpets blew, the vanguard of the Andals charged up the slope, banners streaming. Yet the First Men showed no dismay at the sign that had appeared in the sky; they held their ground and battle was joined, as savage and bloody a fight as any in the long history of the Vale.

So there is the Pleiades, probably, and it’s a signal to begin the War for the Dawn. Here’s the cool thing: the Pleiades do indeed sometimes rise just before the sun, although they rise in the eastern sky and not the western. Still, it’s a cool detail. Anyway, we won’t go into the rest of the fight, except to highlight a specific call-out the the Night’s Watch, Night’s King, Nissa Nissa, and the weirwood stigmata:

Seven times the Andals charged, the singers say; six times the First Men threw them back. But the seventh attack, led by a fearsome giant of a man named Torgold Tollett, broke through. Torgold the Grim, this man was called, but even his name was a jape, for it is written that he went into battle laughing, naked above the waist, with a bloody seven-pointed star carved across his chest and an axe in each hand.

The songs say that Torgold knew no fear and felt no pain. Though bleeding from a score of wounds, he cut a red swathe through Lord Redfort’s staunchest warriors, then took his lordship’s arm off at the shoulder with a single cut. Nor was he dismayed when the sorceress Ursula Upcliff appeared upon a bloodred horse to curse him. By then he was bare-handed, having left both of his axes buried in a foe’s chest, but the singers say he leapt upon the witch’s horse, grasped her face between two bloody hands, and tore her head from her shoulders as she screamed for succor.

A warrior who knew no fear – the Night’s King, in other words, who I believe to be closely connected to Azor Ahai or even Azor Ahai himself. He is of House Tollet, the same as our beloved Dolorous Edd, which associates Torgold with the Night’s Watch, like Night’s King. Ursula Upcliffe is a sea-with name, making her a goddess of the sea and thus a potential Nissa Nissa figure via the green see symbolism. She’s a sorceress on a red horse, which certainly lends itself to fire moon maiden symbolism. Indeed, the warrior who knew no fear, with bloody weirwood leaf hands, leaps on to her red horse and rips her moon head off as she screams for succor like Nissa Nissa crying out to crack the face of the moon.

Alright, so that was cool, a little bonus constellation for you there in the Pleiades – although they are actually not a constellation, but a “star cluster” or “open cluster.” They are also called “The Seven Sisters,” for what it’s worth, and since George actually has someone sight them in this War-for-the-Dawn-like battle, I thought it would make a good warm-up. But let’s talk about Taurus!

“Taurus”, plate 17 in Urania’s Mirror, a set of celestial cards accompanied by A familiar treatise on astronomy … by Jehoshaphat Aspin. London. Astronomical chart, 1 print on layered paper board : etching, hand-colored.

Taurus is a constellation from which we get a very famous, bi-annual meteor shower: the Taurids. Only one shower is observable, which falls in November. That’s a pretty good start; meteor showers! The brightest star in Taurus is Aldebaran – Aldebaran, not Alderan – which is drawn from Arabic and means “the follower,” probably because it appears to follow the Pleiades across the night sky. According to how most peoples have viewed Taurus, this red star is one of the eyes of the bull. You can see how Martin might be able to work with that, right?

The red eye of Taurus is said to glare menacingly at Orion, the Hunter. Orion is easy to spot in ASOIAF as the Sword of the Morning constellation, which I have discussed elsewhere – I believe it was Blood of the Other 2: The Stark that Brings the Dawn. So – a bull with a red eye glaring at Orion, a.k.a. the Sword the Morning – yep, we got it:

“My lady?” Ned looked embarrassed. “I’m Edric Dayne, the . . . the Lord of Starfall.”

Behind them, Gendry groaned. “Lords and ladies,” he proclaimed in a disgusted tone. Arya plucked a withered crabapple off a passing branch and whipped it at him, bouncing it off his thick bull head. “Ow,” he said. “That hurt.” He felt the skin above his eye. “What kind of lady throws crabapples at people?”

“The bad kind,” said Arya, suddenly contrite. She turned back to Ned. “I’m sorry I didn’t know who you were. My lord.”

I mean, it could be a coincidence… but we have a bull with a presumably swollen eye glaring at Arya and the Sword of the Morning, do we not? Even the crabapple might be a Taurus reference, because Taurus contains the crab nebula.

The Taurus Bull, by Sanrixian

More important than this sort of Taurus-trivia are the bull-man figures like the members of House Bulwer or Gendry here. Gendry has a ton of important symbolism, too much to even go into here in detail, and we’ve touched on a lot of it already. In brief, he’s the son of Robert the Horned God, he wears the bull helm and is called “the bull,” and even has the fire reflecting off his helm at the battle in the abandoned holdfast near the Gods Eye, the one where Arya sees the burning tree and escapes through the tunnel in the burning barn. He’s a smith, as Azor Ahai was, meaning he works with fire and iron and he makes swords, which is like making meteors (again think of the Taurid meteor shower, which makes Taurus a kind of meteor sword smith).

Gendry also has eyes like blue ice – in fact he is the first person to get the ice eyes description after we see the Others in the prologue with their ice-cold blue star eyes. This kind of ice-and-fire juxtaposition is common to the stolen Other figure we tracked in the Blood of the Other series, and indeed, Gendry never knew his father and his mother died when he was young, and was then fostered out. Arya also offers him a place at Wintefell, another match to the stolen Other baby profile. Most importantly, he was set to join the Night’s Watch, which matches both the stolen Other baby archetype as well as the green zombie description. That figures, as all the stolen Other baby figures had green zombie Night’s Watch symbolism going on.

Even better is Gendry swearing allegiance to Beric as one of the “Knights of the Hollow Hill” (who parallel the Night’s Watch). It doubles down on the symbolism of Gendry joining the Watch, and adds in the Azor Ahai figure of Beric.

Put all that together, in light of the green zombie theory and the zodiac children idea: just as Bors the Breaker was the son of Garth the Green, Gendry is the son of Robert, the primary avatar of Garth in the main story. Gendry is a fire and ice horned lord himself who first means to join the Night’s Watch, then joins a group that parallels the watch, lives in a weirwood cave (as the first Night’s Watch might have hid in the caves of the children of the forest), and serves an Azor Ahai dude with a flaming sword and one eye. Gendry absolutely fits the profile of a green zombie as I have described them, and also absolutely fits the profile of one of Garth’s zodiac children.

So too for the members of House Bulwer in the story. Bors the Breaker himself is an interesting fellow – growing a pair of bull’s horns out of his head makes him a horned lord figure and a therianthrope, like his father Garth. It also sounds painful, but whatever, it’s a fable. Bors the Breaker is also quite the name, isn’t it since the only other person we know of named “the Breaker” was “Brandon the Breaker,” who supposedly teamed up with the first Joramun, a King Beyond the Wall, to overthrow Night’s King. So now Bors is a horned lord drinking blood and battling the Night’s King, okay, I see where this is going. Someone get Jon a glass of mulled bull’s blood for his final battle, huh? Yeah? No? Okay. Never mind.

Back in the Weirwood Compendium, we discussed a member of House Bulwer who actually did join the Night’s Watch, a ranger named black Jack Bulwer. The Bulwer name implies Black jack as a horned lord figure, and the name Jack makes him a green man, a la “Jack in the Green” – but instead of a green jack, he’s a black Jack, associating him with the winter king line of symbolism and implying him as a dead green man, just as a green zombie should be.

This symbolism really came to life when Black Jack died. It was in Weirwood Compendium 4: In a Grove of Ash that we specifically talked about poor old Black Jack Bulwer, and how he ended up killed by the Weeper, with his severed, eyeless head being mounted on an ash wood spear just north of the Wall at castle Black. The planted ash wood spear creates the symbolism of the ash tree, a reference to Yggdrasil and thus to weirwoods, while the bloody, carved faces of the three rangers create the image of the bloody, carved weirwood face. It’s a symbolic mock-up of a weirwood, in other words, a bloody totem which depicts Black Jack as a horned lord gone into the weirwood trees upon his death.

One of the other unfortunate rangers was of course Garth Greyfeather, who’s name expresses the same ideas as Black Jack Bulwer: he’s a Garth, but he’s grey, implying death and winter. We know that fishing weirs are called garths, and thus the weirwood tree is really a garth-tree, and here we have a Garth weirwood totem alongside Black Jack… I mean it’s a family portrait of Garth and his son Bors, is it not? And at the risk of stating the obvious… Bors and Garth (and Hairy Hal) died while venturing north of the Wall into the frozen dead lands, like the last hero.

That brings us to the sigil of House Bulwer: “a bull’s skull, bone over blood.” Blood and bone is the famous and oft-used description of the weirwood’s coloring, so this is simply another clue about a dead bull-man going into the weirwoodnet. There’s no question this is a blood red color we are talking about, as it is based on the tale of Bors drinking the bull’s blood. Obviously, this reminds us of blood sacrifice to weirwood trees and the fact that Bran cast taste the blood of the slain victim he sees through the eyes of the heart tree in his last weirwood vision in ADWD. That’s a scene which may well be showing us part of the green zombie process, sacrificing the would-be green zombie in front of the heart tree.

The place that House Bulwer calls home is a little old castle called “Blackcrown.” That’s a dark solar king symbol, as we know well, the calling card of the evil, undead version of Azor Ahai. That’s what the entire body of Bulwer symbolism is showing us, essentially- the dark version of the horned god figure, very similar to the dark horned god known as the Black Goat of Qohor and it’s “avatar” on earth, Vargo Hoat, “the Goat,” who is from Qohor. It’s also reminiscent of the darker version of Garth in the older legends, where he demands sacrifice instead of being sacrificed himself.

While we are speaking of Azor Ahai reborn, I would be remiss if I did not mention that Black Jack gets a bit of the Last Hero math in ADWD:

Outside the world was black and still. Cold, but not dangerously cold. Not yet. It will be warmer when the sun comes up. If the gods are good, the Wall may weep. When they reached the lichyard, the column had already formed up. Jon had given Black Jack Bulwer command of the escort, with a dozen mounted rangers under him, and two wayns. 

As with all examples of last hero math, I will remind you that George throws the word “dozen” around a lot, and so these clues are only ever to be read as complimentary to an already established idea. Black Jack’s horned lord symbolism, etc., is well established already, so finding him with last hero math is no surprise and holds with the larger pattern of the people who seem to be associated with last hero math.

Across the Narrow Sea in Braavos, we hear of more bulls and more blood sacrifice and more last hero math as Arya recalls being given a tour of the various temples in the city by the woman known as the Sailor’s Wife. Arya hears of three-headed Trios and the Patternmaker’s Maze, and then when she’s about to fall asleep, she’s offered a red bull:

“Beyond it, by the canal, that’s the temple of Aquan the Red Bull. Every thirteenth day, his priests slit the throat of a pure white calf, and offer bowls of blood to beggars.”

Today was not the thirteenth day, it seemed; the Red Bull’s steps were empty. 

Oh ok, not that red bull, an actual red bull. Point being, the thirteenth day marks the time when a blood sacrifice shall be made, and this time it’s child of a bull, a white calf, which reminds us of the white lunar bull that Mithras has to slay to be reborn. Compare this 13-associated bull blood drinking ritual to Black Jack being the thirteenth ranger on the mission, and then later being made into a gory weirwood-sacrifice symbol, and of course he’s carrying the blood-drinking symbolism of his ancestor Bors with him to enhance the parallel. Again, all this simply  adds to the treasure-trove of clues about Azor Ahai and the last hero being death-associated horned lord figures.

Here’s a cool House Bulwer snippet. It’s from The Mystery Knight, as Dunk listens to Kyle the Cat talk to Bloodraven in disguise about the contestants at the tourney at Whitewalls:

“Do not slight Ser Buford Bulwer,” said Kyle the Cat. “The Old Ox slew forty men upon the Redgrass Field.”

“And every year his count grows higher,” said Ser Maynard. “Bulwer’s day is done. Look at him. Past sixty, soft and fat, and his right eye is good as blind.”

Placed alongside Bloodraven in disguise as Maynard Plumm, this one-eye symbolism for Buford “The Old Ox” Bulwer is telling, and of course what it is telling us that Odin was here. It’s contributing to the Bulwer archetype, and it combines with the blood and bone coloring of their bull skull sigil to scream “weirwoods! greenseers!” It’s funny because ‘BloodMaynard Plummraven’ is a one-eyed greenseer, and he’s basically spotting another guy with horned lord / greenseer symbolism and identifying him as a fellow one-eyed dude. It’s also a probable reference to the one red eye of the constellation Taurus.

When Lord Buford, who is also called Theomore, takes the field, the description is worth quoting:

“Ser Uthor Underleaf,” the herald boomed. A shadow crept across Dunk’s face as the sun was swallowed by a cloud. “Ser Theomore of House Bulwer, the Old Ox, a knight of Blackcrown. Come forth and prove your valor.”

The Old Ox made a fearsome sight in his blood red armor, with black bull’s horns rising from his helm. He needed the help of a brawny squire to get onto his horse, though, and the way his head was always turning as he rode suggested that Ser Maynard had been right about his eye. Still, the man received a lusty cheer as he took the field.

There’s your requisite sun-swallowing Long Night language which often occurs right before a battle or fight meant to serve as an analog to the War for the Dawn, such as we saw with the Battle of Seven Stars. And then when he finally loses to Ser Uthor, who had been feigning a struggle to affect the gambling odds:

The Old Ox fell on fifth pass, knocked sideways by a coronal that slipped deftly off his shield to take him in the chest. His foot tangled in his stirrup as he fell, and he was dragged forty yards across the field before his men could get his horse under control. Again the litter came out, to bear him to the maester. A few drops of rain began to fall as Bulwer was carried away and darkened his surcoat where they fell.

This is notable because a bull character falling down is probably a symbol of the moon being knocked from the sky, coming here after the sun was swallowed by clouds as it was, and the rain which commences immediately after his fall is said to darken his blood-red surcoat, implying the rain as blood. Now we are in business, because the rain of moon blood is an easily recognizable moon death symbol.

It’s also a bit of detailed Odin symbolism, because Odin is hung upside-down from his tree, Yggdrasil, and Yggdrasil is also considered Odin’s horse in a more metaphorical sense… so the Old Ox is mimicking Odin be being hung upside-down from his horse. Taken with his blind eye, there can be no doubt that Odin symbolism is being applied, and in ASOIAF terms, that means greenseers and death transformation.

Ok, last tidbit for Bors, and by the way, not every section will be this long. There is quite simply a damn lot of bull symbolism in ASOIAF. There is other bull symbolism I am not including for sake of brevity, in fact.

So as to that last point about our buddy Bors the Breaker, it’s said that he drank so much bull’s blood that he grew a pair of shiny black horns. As it happens, we see two very similar black horns in the story, and you might know the two I am speaking of. The first is the supposedly fake Horn of Joramun that Mance and the wildlings bring to the Wall. Jon sees it first in Mance’s tent before they battle:

And there were other weapons in the tent, daggers and dirks, a bow and a quiver of arrows, a bronze-headed spear lying beside that big black . .

. . . horn. Jon sucked in his breath. A warhorn, a bloody great warhorn.

“Yes,” Mance said. “The Horn of Winter, that Joramun once blew to wake giants from the earth.”

The horn was huge, eight feet along the curve and so wide at the mouth that he could have put his arm inside up to the elbow. If this came from an aurochs, it was the biggest that ever lived. At first he thought the bands around it were bronze, but when he moved closer he realized they were gold. Old gold, more brown than yellow, and graven with runes.

Later, when Melisandre burns the horn alongside Rattleshirt disguised as Mance Raydar in a partially weirwood cage, we are told that these runes are in fact the runes of the First Men. Fake Mance is playing the role of a burning horned lord figure dying and being trapped in the weirwoodnet here, and that was the same thing being symbolized by Black Jack Bulwer’s severed head on the ash wood spear, or the Old Ox being hung upside down from his horse. Mel calls the horn “the horn of darkness” before throwing it into the fire, which kind of fits the overall theme of the dark version of the horned god being equivalent to the dark solar king, the horned lord of darkness.

By the way, in case you weren’t sure, an aurochs is essentially hairy extinct species of cattle, so when it talks of Mance’s huge horn coming from the biggest aurochs who ever lived, this is George telling us to think of this as a black bull’s horn, just like the ones Bors grew, though obviously a person wouldn’t have horns this huge on his head.

The other shiny black horn in the story is the one that Euron Crow’s Eye shows up to the Kingsmoot with, which is nearly a perfect match to Mance’s horn.

The horn he blew was shiny black and twisted, and taller than a man as he held it with both hands. It was bound about with bands of red gold and dark steel, incised with ancient Valyrian glyphs that seemed to glow redly as the sound swelled.

Mance’s horn is eight feet long, and this one is taller than a man, which sounds like they’re about the same size. Mance’s horn had bands of old gold with First Men runes, while dragonbinder here has bands of red gold and Valyrian steel incised with ancient Valyrian glyphs which glow redly at first, then a moment later it says they were “burning brightly, every line and letter shimmering with white fire.” Mance’s horn’s runes didn’t glow themselves, but the entire horn was burned, and so we have the burning horn idea present with both black horns. Dragonbinder is called “the horn of hell” by Aeron Damphair, which compares well to the “horn of darkness” label Mel gave the fake horn of Joramun.

So look – I don’t have a good theory about how these horns were both from Azor Ahai’s black dragon which were made into matching magical horns, with one being sent to Valyria with the very first Valyrians to help them tame dragons while the other was sent north of the Wall and given First Men runes so that it… could be burned by Melisandre for no good reason. Nope, don’t have a crackpot theory about that at all.

What I think is actually going on here is that our dark horn lord figure should be associated with magical horns, ones which may have been used to help bring on the great darkness of the Long Night. That’s kind of it’s own theory that I need to write, so I’ll kind of leave it at that, but if you’re a regular listener or reader of Mythical Astronomy, then you know I have been hinting at the idea of a magical horn being part of the recipe for breaking the moon for a while now. I DO have a very specific theory about that, and that will be forthcoming, but for now we can observe that there is some mystery to these magical horns, the horn of Joramun and dragonbinder, and the clues linking these two huge black shiny horns back to Bors seem to hint that the dark horned lord figure has something to do with magical horns… horns as in ones that make sounds… god this triple entendre horns thing can be confusing. “So, he has horns on his head, and he blows horns, and he’s horny – anything else?”

Bottom line is that as with all the other Bulwer and Gendry symbolism, every last bit of this connects to the Night’s Watch and the War for the Dawn, which was won by green zombies according to our theory.

Harlon the Hunter and Herndon of the Horn

This section is brought to you by our newest Zodiac patron: OuterPanda, the Pan-Doubter, the man in the mirror man and earthly avatar of Heavenly House Gemini; as well as our priests and priestesses of Starry Wisdom: Yang Tar, the Midnight Light, shadowskin-master of the lands of always Bjork; Stone Dancer, The Mind’s Eye, Whorl-Master of the Trident; and Codfish the Steelbender, who words are “Under the Sea, all the metalworkers are codfish”

Next up, for our correlation to Gemini, we have the twins Harlon the Hunter and Herndon of the Horn. It’s not clear if House Tarly officially claims descent from these brothers, but it is likely that they do, as they are considered one of the oldest houses in the reach and live on Horn Hill, the legendary home of these twin brothers:

Harlon the Hunter and Herndon of the Horn, twin brothers who built their castle atop Horn Hill and took to wife the beautiful woods witch who dwelled there, sharing her favors for a hundred years (for the brothers did not age so long as they embraced her whenever the moon was full).

Oh god, not more horned god stuff! Herndon of the Horn, huh? I can see where this is going, you say. Well, you know where this is going because you already read the earlier Green Zombies episodes and you remember that this pair of twins, Harlon the Hunter and Herndon of the Horn, is basically just a word scramble of a famous horned lord figure from English folklore known as Herne the Hunter. Herne is an undead, guardian of the woods figure, less of a god and more of fallen man who has become something more. His was disgraced in life and hung himself from an oak (called Herne’s Oak), but his shade became the guardian of the woods, a stag-antlered, cloaked man man riding a horse and leading a procession of other dead or enthralled creatures.

Herne with his steed, hounds and owl, observed by the Duke of Richmond and the Earl of Surrey, in Harrison Ainsworth’s Windsor Castle, illustrated by George Cruikshank, c.1843.

Herne has a lot in common with Coldhands, and indeed, the two places Herne’s influence are felt the strongest are with Coldhands and House Tarly, who made their home on Horn Hill and took the huntsman as their sigil. That’s highly sensible, since Sam meets up with Coldhands and shares a lot of symbolism with him. As we know already from our earlier exploration of these ideas, all of this symbolism gives strong testimony to the green zombies theory in general. Sam and Coldhands show us what kind of fellow belongs in the Night’s Watch, and I believe the more detailed message is about the original Night’s Watch and their fundamental relationship to greenseers and weirwoods. Coldhands apparently teaches Sam to recite a shorter and presumably much older version of the Night’s Watch oath to the Black Gate weirwood face beneath the Nightfort, while Coldhands shows us what the first Watchmen were like, according to the Green Zombies theory: undead, speaking the old tongue, riding elks and other beasts, and receiving aid from the greenseers and their ravens.

In a sense, all of these original green zombie Night’s Watchmen would be like Herne; they are undead, and they are “guardians of the woods” in the sense that they guard the realm of the living from the vengeful ice demons who (reportedly) seek to ride down on the cold winds of winter and exterminate all warm blooded life.

Again I will point out that before the Andals brought the Faith of the Seven to Westeros, all Night’s Watchmen would have been Old Gods-worshiping First Men, with the small exception of those who worshiped the Drowned God or the sea & sky god duo worshiped in the Stormlands and on the Three Sisters. This helps bring their guardian of the woods role into focus – the Night’s Watch swear their oath to protect the realm of the living to the immortal sentient trees. The fact that Herne’s Oak is the tree he died on – via hanging, a la Odin – implies that the Night’s Watch may have also died in front of their sacred tree, the weirwood, and of course that’s exactly what the Green Zombies theory stipulates, that the original watch was ritually sacrificed before heart trees, only to be resurrected and swear their Night’s Watch vows.

We just talked about Mance’s fake horn of Joramun and Euron’s dragonbinder, and of course Sam has that old cracked warhorn Jon found with the dragonglass at the Fist of the First Men which some people believe to be the original horn of Joramun. Jon may have even given it a toot!

He had made a dagger for Grenn as well, and another for the Lord Commander. The warhorn he had given to Sam. On closer examination the horn had proved cracked, and even after he had cleaned all the dirt out, Jon had been unable to get any sound from it. The rim was chipped as well, but Sam liked old things, even worthless old things. “Make a drinking horn out of it,” Jon told him, “and every time you take a drink you’ll remember how you ranged beyond the Wall, all the way to the Fist of the First Men.” He gave Sam a spearhead and a dozen arrowheads as well, and passed the rest out among his other friends for luck.

I can’t help but notice Sam being given a last hero dragonglass kit: one spearhead and twelve arrowheads. As with Bors Bulwer, seeing last hero math around horned lord figures who are Night’s Watchmen essentially just reinforces the basic premise of the Green Zombies theory, and it makes sense to equate the Night’s Watch with dragonglass in a general sense, because the brothers themselves are like black swords in the darkness who use fire to kill the Others. It’s also worth remembering that House Tarly does possess a Valyrian steel greatsword, Heartsbane, which like dragonglass may come in handy before too much longer.

And just like Black Jack, seeing a potential magical horn in the midst of these symbols again makes us think that the story of Azor Ahai and the last hero have something to do with magical horns, potentially the horn of Joramun. Sam continues to carry this old warhorn around as he sails to Braavos and then to Oldtown, despite the fact that he loses damn near everything else, which is one of the things that makes people think it may prove to be important, despite it’s unassuming status. Anyone who has seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade remembers the grail chamber, filled with elaborate chalices and goblets, but of course the true “holy grail” turns out to be the simple wooden cup – because Jesus was a carpenter, of course. Point being, perhaps these these gigantic, flashy magic horns we are shown – Dragonbinder and the fake horn of Joramun – are decoys, and maybe it’s really the old broken one Sam has that is important.

I have to say, I am seduced by the power of Dragonbinder, and I think that’s the one to watch – even if Sam’s was the original horn of Joramun. We’ll have to wait and see, and it’s fun to speculate, but the main point for our purposes is that our first two zodiac children of Garth are strongly connected to horns of basically every type.

As for the legend of Harlon and Herndon, a pair of twins who prolonged their life by some sort of sex magic ritual with a woods witch when the moon was full, this story has clear parallels to the Greek and Roman mythology behind Gemini, which is that of Castor and Pollux, also known as the Dioscuri. They were twin brothers who had the same mothe, Leda, but different fathers (Castor was the son of the King of Sparta, Tyndareus, while Pollux was the divine son of Zeus, who had transofrmed into a swan to impregnate Leda). They are sometimes said to be born from eggs, and they are often said to be born with their sisters as well, Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra.

Castor and Pollux (or Polydeuces, as he is called in Greek) were indeed hunters, as Herndon and Harlon were, and they are almost always depicted on horseback. They have circular caps to symbolize the egg they were born from, and frequently are depicted with stars above them to symbolize Gemini. They are very strongly associated with horses in particular, and even marry two sisters who are known as “the daughters of the white horse.” Between their being the children of a swan borne form an egg and marrying the daughters of a horse, you can see that the therianthrope / human-animal mythology is once again present with this zodiac sign.

Pair of Roman statuettes (3rd century AD) depicting the Dioscuri as horsemen, with their characteristic skullcaps (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Another parallel to Harlon and Herndon is found in the story of Pollux’s death. The circumstances of his death aren’t important, but as he lay dying in Castor’s arms, Zeus offered Castor a choice: he could remain immortal and spend all of his time on Mount Olympus, or give half of his immortality to his brother. He chose the later, and so the twins alternated between Hades and Olympus. They became the two brightest stars in the constellation Gemini, thereby gaining a sort of eternal life after death, as with most of the zodiacal figures.

As you can see, this is somewhat similar to the notion of Harlon and Herndon extending their lives by laying with the woods witch. It’s not an exact match – castor and Pollux marry sisters, instead of the same woman, and their semi-immortality is not granted by their wives, but by Zeus. Still, given that both sets of twins are hunters who sort of ‘share’ their fountain of long life with one another, and given the starry resurrection similarities to the green zombies, it’s enough to see that Martin has essentially spun his own version of the Dioscuri in Herndon and Harlon.

One last bit of Castor and Pollux lore… they are associated with something called St. Elmo’s fire. What is St. Elmo’s fire? Well, and this is borrowing the Wikipedia definition, it’s “a weather phenomenon in which luminous plasma is created by a coronal discharge from a sharp or pointed object in a strong electric field in the atmosphere (such as those generated by thunderstorms or created by a volcanic eruption).” Because it appeared most often on the end of a ship’s mast during a thunderstorm, it is named for St. Erasmus of Formia (also called St. Elmo), who is the patron saint of sailors.

Here’s where Castor and Pollux come in: In ancient Greece, the appearance of a single Elmo flame was called a Helene, as in Helen of Troy and the name the Greeks took for themselves, the Helenes, and this word literally means torch as saw in Weirwood Compendium 3: Garth of the Gallows when we talked about Durran and Elenei. Helen is the sister of Castor and Pollux, and indeed, if there were two flames, they were called Kastor and Polydeuces. The reason I mention any of this is mainly because the flame of St. Elmo’s fire is usually blue!

“Ironborn Ghost Ship Witnessing St. Elmo’s Fire” by Sanrixian

Gilbert of the Vines

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Gilbert of the Vines, Who taught the men of the Arbor to make sweet wine from the grapes that grew so fat and lush across their island, and who founded House Redwyne.

Aquarius, the water-bearer, is the best match for Gilbert of the Vines.  Even though Aquarius is called “the water-bearer,” the most popular Aquarius myth involves a cup-bearer who serves wine as well as water. This would be Ganymede, a very handsome young prince of Troy who is thought to be the most beautiful man in the world.  One day while Ganymede was tending his father’s sheep, Zeus abducted him, either by transforming into an eagle himself or sending an eagle, so that Ganymede would be his cup-bearer and according to most versions of the tale, it’s implied that he’s taken as Zeus’s lover as well. Ganymede is often depicted with a golden cup, out of which he served Zeus water, wine, and ambrosia.  But one day Ganymede has had enough of serving Zeus, and instead pours out his cup, causing days of rains heavy enough to flood the entire world. Ganymede is eventually put into the sky by Zeus as the constellation Aquarius.

The Abduction of Ganymede (ca. 1650), by Eustache Le Sueur

The symbolism of Ganymede being taken to Olympus and being placed in the heavens as a constellation is similar to the Castor and Pollux living at Olympus (well, half the time anyway) and also being placed in the stars. Going to live with the gods is like ascending to heaven and like moving on to the afterlife, so it’s essentially a death transformation. The animal transformation element is here again, though it is not Ganymede transforming but Zeus, who, you know, does that kind of thing all the time (he changed into a swan to seduce Ledo, for example). Ganymede is usually depicted with an eagle.

Ganymede the Moon

So, here’s where it gets interesting. Ganymede, in addition to being Aquarius, is also the largest moon of Jupiter! That’s right, Ganymede is a moon figure who is taken captive. George makes a reference to this in the form of the name Gilbert – Gilbert is a Germanic name made up of the root words gisil (“pledge, hostage”) and beraht “bright”. So, bright hostage or bright pledge – a captive moon, or captive moon prince, in other words. Ganymede is the bright captive moon person who pours out the wine and ambrosia of the gods… and that’s starting to sound a lot like a moon being stolen from the sky and unleashing waves of moon blood. And when we look back to House Redwyne, we realize that wine and blood are virtually interchangeable as symbols, and so we are right back to blood drinking and full moons and other occult shit.

In the main story, we have a pair of Redwyne twins who are basically hostages of the crown after Cersei and Joffrey seize the throne – hostages, just like Ganymede. They do make an attempt at escape, which goes as follows, and this is Varys reporting to Tyrion:

Varys made a mark on the parchment. “Ser Horas and Ser Hobber Redwyne have bribed a guard to let them out a postern gate, the night after next. Arrangements have been made for them to sail on the Pentoshi galley Moonrunner, disguised as oarsmen.”

“Can we keep them on those oars for a few years, see how they fancy it?” He smiled. “No, my sister would be distraught to lose such treasured guests. Inform Ser Jacelyn. Seize the man they bribed and explain what an honor it is to serve as a brother of the Night’s Watch. And have men posted around the Moonrunner, in case the Redwynes find a second guard short of coin.”

Hilarious, right? This is what makes it so rewarding to follow George’s rabbit trails… he leaves these wonderful clues which don’t reveal themselves until you know just what you are looking for. These captive princes who descend from Gilbert the “bright captive,” should be left on the moon boat for a few years to see how they like it. meanwhile, the treacherous man from the moon boat shall be sent to the Night’s Watch.

It’s good stuff, and the treasons Varys names right before and after this Redwyne plot reinforce the message. First, Varys tells of the captain of the “King’s Galley White Heart,” who plans to go over to Stannis, to which Tyrion responds “I suppose we must make some sort of bloody lesson out of the man?” So that’s the bloody sacrifice of a solar king stag man, and what does Varys mention right after the Redwyne’s Moonrunner plot? Why, the red comet:

“We also have a sudden plague of holy men. The comet has brought forth all manner of queer priests, preachers, and prophets, it would seem. They beg in the winesinks and pot-shops and foretell doom and destruction to anyone who stops to listen.”

That’s interesting – the comet has brought on a wave of prophets who hang out in winesinks preaching doom, with the captive Redwyne twins attempting to escape on Moonrunner right in the middle of it in a scrambled tribute to the Ganymede myth.

We also saw moon associations with our first two zodiac constellation figures: Bors the Breaker’s moon symbolism came via the nods to Mithras slaying the lunar bull, Harlon and Herndon embraced their woods witch when the moon was full to gain eternal life, while their probably descendant Samwell Tarly has a moon face on four separate occasions. What’s going on here is that the Night’s Watch brothers are basically symbols of black moon meteors, and are synonymous with other black meteor symbols like dragonglass knives, burning brands, and the like. We should expect to find moon and moon meteor symbolism with all of our zodiac children and their extended symbolism.

Speaking of Night’s Watch brothers, there was a famous ranger of the Night’s Watch who, while not of House Redwyne, was named “Redwyn,” and his tale seems to fit the themes we’ve explored so far. See if you can spot the cryptic last her math, and this is Jon speaking to open the passage:

“Did you find the maps?”

“Oh, yes.” Sam’s hand swept over the table, fingers plump as sausages indicating the clutter of books and scrolls before him. “A dozen, at the least.” He unfolded a square of parchment. “The paint has faded, but you can see where the mapmaker marked the sites of wildling villages, and there’s another book . . . where is it now? I was reading it a moment ago.” He shoved some scrolls aside to reveal a dusty volume bound in rotted leather. “This,” he said reverently, “is the account of a journey from the Shadow Tower all the way to Lorn Point on the Frozen Shore, written by a ranger named Redwyn. It’s not dated, but he mentions a Dorren Stark as King in the North, so it must be from before the Conquest. Jon, they fought giants! Redwyn even traded with the children of the forest, it’s all here.” Ever so delicately, he turned pages with a finger. “He drew maps as well, see . . .”

“Maybe you could write an account of our ranging, Sam.”

The last hero math was with the maps – there are a dozen scrolls, then another book written by Redwyn, making Redwyn’s book the thirteenth and thus Redwyn the symbolic last hero. He’s journeying far into the cold dead lands of the north, like the last hero, and trading with the children of the forest, very like the last hero receiving some type of mysterious aid from the children in his tale. Jon finishes by drawing an analogy between Redwyn and Sam by suggesting Sam write an account of their ranging like Redwyn did his, and that makes sense because Sam plays the last hero on other occasions, as we have seen.

Maris the Maid, the Most Fair

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Someone named Maris the Most Fair Maid can only be Virgo. It would seem so on first glance, and further digging confirms it without a doubt. Here’s the passage on Maris:

Maris the Maid, the Most Fair, whose beauty was so renowned that fifty lords vied for her hand at the first tourney ever to be held in Westeros. (The victor was the Grey Giant, Argoth Stone-Skin, but Maris wed King Uthor of the High Tower before he could claim her, and Argoth spent the rest of his days raging outside the walls of Oldtown, roaring for his bride.

From the Bear and the Maiden Fair to Maris the Maid, the Most Fair, there are many a fair maiden running around the lands of Westeros.  But in what sense are we using the word “fair?”  Are we talking about pretty maidens, or just maidens?  Are they good-looking, or even-handed? Or maybe both? The answer lies in some very clever wordplay at work in the story of an ancient hero, Ser Galladon of Morne, and this story is told to us by Brienne of Tarth in AFFC:

Ser Galladon was a champion of such valor that the Maiden herself lost her heart to him. She have him an enchanted sword as a token of her love. The Just Maid, it was called. No common sword could check her. Nor any shield withstand her kiss.
Ser Galladon bore the Just Maid proudly, but only thrice did he unsheathe her. He would not use the maid against a mortal man, for she was so potent as to make any fight unfair.

Surely, there is no fairer maiden that the Maiden herself, even Maris the Most Fair would have to admit that. You can’t compete with a goddess! But the sword the Maiden herself gives out is called the Just Maid, and Galladon won’t use it against mortal men because it would be unfair, emphasizing the theme of justice, as opposed to Maris the Most Fair Maid who is renowned for her beauty. This is more than a clever pun on the word “fair,” however.

The oldest scientific manuscript in the National Library the volume contains various Latin texts on astronomy. The volume, written in Caroline minuscule, consists of two sections, the first (ff. 1-26) copied c. 1000, in the Limoges area of France, probably in the milieu of Adémar de Chabannes (989-1034), whilst the second (ff. 27-50), from a scriptorium in the same region, may be dated c. 1150.

The constellation Virgo, the celestial virgin, has long been perceived as holding aloft the scales of Libra, because of their positioning in the sky. Thus, Virgo (or Astraea as she was known to the ancients, whose name means “star maiden”) is the original “just” or “fair” maiden. The goddess-form of Astraea is likewise associated with justice, just as you would think. This is also where we get the concept of blind lady justice, holding up her scales, a familiar sight inside all United States courtrooms. That’s right, lady justice is essentially mythical astronomy. It’s Virgo, holding Libra!

Lady Justice with sword, scales and blindfold on the Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen in Berne, Switzerland—1543

Libra is the only zodiacal constellation which is a thing instead of an animal or person, and thus wouldn’t really work very well with the whole ‘zodiac children of Garth’ puzzle. Therefore, it makes a great deal of sense for George to combine Libra and Virgo to create the concept of the maiden fair. That’s certainly what the ancients did, at least when perceiving Virgo as Astraea, the star maiden associated with justice. She was said to be the last of the immortals to linger on earth during the golden age, only choosing to finally leave the earth when the iron age fell, due to the  wickedness of man. She ascended to the stars and became Virgo, matching the pattern of the other zodiac figures we have discussed so far. She is prophesied to return, actually, and to bring a return of the golden age with her.

And yes, combining Virgo and Libra means we now have eleven constellations instead of twelve – yes, that’s true. I’ll explain that in the next section!

As for Ser Galladon and his sword named the Just Maid, let’s consider. This is really just another version of the Azor Ahai fable, isn’t it? Galladon is our magic sword hero, obviously. The Maiden herself, one of the Seven and therefore a Goddess, plays the role of the moon maiden, which means she represents both Nissa Nissa giving birth to Lightbringer and the moon giving birth to Lightbringer meteors. When she loses her heart to Galladon and gives him a sword, that is simply the moon exploding into meteors which are the hearts of a fallen star, the type of thing you can make a magic sword out of, a sword too amazing to even use against mortal men.

Ser Galladon the Perfect Knight is from Morne, a place on the Isle of Tarth which is now only ruins. A champion knight carrying the name Morne and a magic sword? That has to remind us of the Sword of the Morning and Dawn, right? Indeed, there is Venus based Morningstar and Evenstar symbolism around Galladon; on the opposite part of the island of Tarth from the ruins of Morne is Evenfall Hall, the seat of House Tarth, whose lord is known as the Evenstar. Starfall vs. The Evenstar at Evenfall Hall, A Knight of Morne with a magic sword, the Sword of the Morning with a magic sword…. That’s clear enough, and now coincidence is starting to seem impossible. The Galladon / Just Maid myth is just a mash-up of the Dawn and Lightbringer legends.

One of the things said about Ser Galladon, as Brienne tells us in AFFC, is that he once supposedly used the Just Maid to slay a dragon. This is certainly interesting – since Valyrian steel can kill Others, I’ve offered the wild speculation that Dawn, which is like white Valyrian steel, can kill dragons. Think of the ice spear the Night King on the HBO show uses – Dawn might work something like that, perhaps.

In terms of the narrative, the tale of Ser Galladon the Perfect Knight who was reluctant to use his magic sword is used as a device to help Brienne of Tarth realize she needs to be willing to do whatever it takes to win, and not let the sort of stiff honor of Galladon or Ned Stark get in the way. Brienne is using her cheap sword at first, thinks of the Galladon tale, and thinks, I better go get Oathkeeper, which is technically a magic sword, as all Valyrian steel swords are. It’s a good thing she did, as she is soon using Oathkeeper to slay the bloody mummers. Needless to say, the point here is that Oathkeeper is a prime Lightbringer / comet sword symbol, and so the parallel between Oathkeeper and the Just Maid helps tighten up the conclusion that Galladon’s story is another version of our sword hero and his magic meteor sword which was made of a piece of a goddess.

Now we were just comparing the Just Maid to Dawn, and now we have Brienne comparing Just Maid to a black Valyrian steel sword, but it’s possible that level of delineation just isn’t important for the parallels Martin is creating, and it’s also possible that Dawn was the original Ice of House Stark, and thus Oathkeeper, made from the steel of Ned’s Ice, is intended to make is think of Ice and therefore Dawn. As you all know, we are eternally trying to sort out which color sword was wielded by the last hero and Night’s King or whoever else. I would simply say, as I have from the beginning, that there were two “Lightbringer swords” in the War for the Dawn; a big white one called ‘Ice’ which is now known as ‘Dawn,’ and the black sword made from the Bloodstone Emperor’s black meteor which would essentially be a prototype for Valyrian steel swords which came after. Thus it works just fine for me to see parallels being drawn from the Just Maid to both Dawn and a black Valyrian steel sword with a ton of Lightbringer symbolism like Oathkeeper.

As it happens, Brienne the Beauty, the Most Fair Maid of Tarth, parallels both Galladon and the ‘Maiden herself’. So far, we’ve seen that Brienne compares the magic sword she was given, Oathkeeper, to the one Galladon was given, the Just Maid, and she also compares her honor to Galladon’s, both which place Brienne in the Galladon role, and makes Brienne a fair maid in the sense of being just. But Brienne does indeed also compare very well to the Maiden herself; Brienne’s technically a maiden, and though she isn’t regarded as beautiful save for her eyes (and her character, of course!), her ironic nickname is “Brienne the Beauty!” That name is in turn a reference to Venus mythology (she’s the daughter of the Evenstar, after all), and makes Brienne an avatar of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, if you will.

Ergo, in addition to being just and comparing her sword to the Just Maid, Brienne is also a fair maiden in the sense of Maris the Maid, the Most Fair, who was renowned for her beauty. Brienne hits both side of the “fair maiden” joke, isn’t that lovely. On top of that, she wanders around looking for Sansa saying “I am looking for my sister, a fair maid of three-and-ten,” simply because Martin cannot resist layering his jokes as thickly as possible.

Prediction time: Brienne the fair maid played the Galladon role when Jaime gave her the magic sword, and though I doubt Brienne will “lose her heart” to anyone but Jaime, I wouldn’t be surprised if circumstances have Brienne play the Maiden herself role and give out her magic sword to a worthy champion of great valor – Jon Snow, of course, since he’s been thinking of his father’s sword, Ice, for five books now, despite having Longclaw. Maybe they can trade.. all I know is that I have always thought it would make the most sense for Jon to get his hands on Oathkeeper, since it is the sword of his true father, Ned Stark, and bears the colors and symbolism of his genetic father, Rhaegar.

Bringing the focus back to Maris the Maid, the Most Fair, we see that her story has parallels to the story of Galladon and the Maiden of the Seven. I believe that the Hightowers are most likely descended of the dragonlords from Asshai who would have been part of the Great Empire of the Dawn, and Uthor has an especially dragony name, only one letter off from that of Uther Pendragon, the father of King Arthur of Excalibur fame, with Pendragon translating to “head of the dragon.” He’s playing the Galladon / Azor Ahai role, in other words, and he wins the hand of Maris the Most Fair Maid just as the Maiden herself loses her heart to Galladon.

As many of you know, the word “Maris” means sea, and is often heard in the phrase “stella maris,” which means star of the sea and is a name for both the pole star and… drumroll… the Virgin Mary. Virgo Maris, Virgin Mary. That’s right – Maris’s name does indeed allude to stars and the sea, as well as virginity. She makes a great Nissa Nissa figure. George has given us another stella maris woman as well, and that would be Shierra Sea Star, the lover of Bloodraven. Stella Maris means sea-star, and even the name Shierra is starry, because the Dothraki name for the comet is shierak qiya, the bleeding star. Even better, just as Uthor and Argoth fought over Maris’ hand, Bloodraven and his half-brother Bittersteel hated each other and warred against each other – and were both in love with Shiera Seastar. All of this related wordplay and symbolism simply enhances Maris the Most Fair as our Nissa Nissa to Uthor Hightower’s Azor Ahai.

Considering that Maris was a daughter of Garth, and that there are abundant clues that Nissa Nissa was at least part children of the forest, an elf woman with a connection to the weirwoods, this tale of Uthor of the High Tower building the first Hightower and marrying Maris the Maid seems like something of an echo of Azor Ahai coming to Westeros to marry a child of the forest or a human with child of the forest blood. Such a forest lass could have been remembered as a daughter of Garth the Green, a forest king in his own right. At the very least, we can see a tale which speaks of dragonblooded people coming to Westeros by sea and marrying into the bloodline of the First Men, as Uthor does by taking Maris the daughter of Garth to wife.

I found an echo of Uthor Hightower which suggests him as a greenseer, as I believe Azor Ahai to be. You remeber Uthor Underleaf from the jousting scene earlier, the one with the Old Ox Bford Bulwer from the Hedge Knight? That joust took place at a tourney at Whitewalls, and Uthor Underleaf is really a great character. He’s basically Woodey Harrelson from White Men Can’t Jump; he’s the ultimate ringer who makes bets on himself and then punks his opponents. Woody Harrelson’s character intentionally dressed like a sort of rumpled shut-in who didn’t look like he had any sort of game, which was of course part of a con he was running, and Uthor, a short fellow, uses the humble and unassuming sigil of the snail to encourage people to underestimate him. It’s a great con and Uthor, who Dunk thinks looks more like a merchant than a knight, is hiding abundant wealth in his shabby-looking tent.

More importantly, Uthor under-leaf is a name that implies a greenseer living under a tree, and Uthor kindly wears green enamel armor, carries a green shield, and has silver-snail-on-green sigil to help us think of him as a green knight. And just as Uthor Hightower’s rival was the Grey Giant Argoth Stone-Skin, the winner of the tourney, Uthor Underleaf fights against Dunk – a giant in grey armor with a grey gallows knight sigil in this joust. Dunk is not the champion of the tourney, though he was a tragic kind of champion at the tourney of Ashford Meadow. It’s the grey stone giant thing which really makes it a match though – Dunk is indeed a grey giant with grey iron plate armor. This tourney is at a place called Whitewalls, whereas Uthor took Maris to the white Hightower. Uthor Underleaf doesn’t steal a woman from Dunk as Uthor is implied to – although really, it just says “..but she wed Uthor of the High Tower..” which does not imply an abduction. Maybe Maris didn’t want to marry no stinkin’ stone giant, who can blame her. But the point is, Dunk the grey giant doesn’t come to Uthor Underleaf roaring for his bride back – no, what Uthor has of Dunk’s is not a bride, but a horse, Thunder. Sorry to compare Maris the Most Fair Maid to a horse, but there it is. The Storm God’s thunderbolt was really a piece of the moon goddess falling like a star, so it sort of works.

Kidding aside, Maris and Thunder needn’t be parallel themselves; the parallel is Uthor and Dunk vs Uthor Hightower and Argoth Stone-Skin, and in both cases the Uthor character takes something the grey giant character wants back very badly. Point being, Uthor Underleaf is an intentional parallel to Uthor Hightower, and he’s a green knight who leaves “under leaf,” like a green seer. Uthor Hightower might be able to see even more than we think from his high tower! Again, this simply means he’s the Azor Ahai figure, stealing moon maidens and becoming a greenseer.

Since we’ve talked about Maris and Uthor, let’s tackle the grey Giant himself, Argoth Stone-Skin, even though he seems super heavy and hard to tackle. In all seriousness, Argoth is a pretty mysterious element – I mean we hear of “stone giants” called the Jhogwin in far off eastern Essos, but apart from that it’s hard to figure out what to make of Argoth Stone-Skin. It’s unlikely someone with greyscale would be allowed to compete in a tournament to marry the Most Fair maiden, nor likely someone so afflicted could be the champion of a tourney.

Much to my delight, I have found that this tale is a scrambled version of the tale of Argus, Hermes, and Io,a myth which serves as a possible inspiration for part of the ASOIAF moon disaster. Argoth is essentially a version of Argus, who is also a giant, and his stone skin symbolism is there for purposes of mythical astronomy. Let me explain. Better yet, let me borrow the summary of the Io myth from GreekMythology.com:

Io was the princess of Argos, who Zeus fell in love with. To try to keep Hera from noticing, he covered the world with a thick blanket of clouds. However, as soon as Hera saw that, she immediately became suspicious. She came down from Mount Olympus and began dispersing the clouds. Zeus did some quick thinking and changed Io’s form from a lovely maiden; so, as the clouds dispersed, Hera found Zeus standing next to a white heifer. He then swore that he had never seen the cow before and that it had just sprang right out of the earth. Seeing right through this, Hera faked liking the cow so much that she wanted to have it as a present. As turning such a reasonable request down would have given the whole thing away, Zeus presented her with the cow. She sent the cow away and arranged Argus Panoptes to watch over it. Since Argus had a hundred eyes and could have some of them sleep while keeping others awake, he made for a fine watchman.

Pieter Lastman Juno Discovering Jupiter with Io

Ok, let me cut in here for a moment to point out a few things. Io is a moon maiden – in fact, one of Jupiter’s moons is named after her. As we discussed in the Moons of Ice and Fire series, Io is the logical moon for George to use as a prototype for a magical ‘fire moon,’ because it is entirely made up of magma and silicate rock – meaning that it’s a floating volcano, basically – and Io is also one of the most famous moons in our solar system. The ancient Greeks associated the goddess Io with the moon, and in Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound, Io encounters a bound Prometheus and refers to herself as “the horned virgin”, which is understood to refer to both lunar horns and bovine horns. Notice the virgin part – Io is another fair maiden, like Maris the Maid and Virgo and the Virgin Mary and Brienne the Beauty.

This entire myth grafts onto the AOSIAF moon disaster myth very well, beginning with Zeus covering the world in clouds to hide his love of Io, which reminds us of the Long Night, when the sun and moon kissed and birthed meteor children who covered the earth with clouds of ash and smoke. When Io is transformed into the lunar cow, she is actually tethered to an olive tree in the temple of Hera. It’s important to remember that the Greek myth-makers here understood Io to represent the moon, so this is actually some Greek mythical astronomy – Io the lunar cow walking circles around the olive tree in the temple is a depiction of the moon orbiting the earth’s axis, which his regarded as the cosmic axis by ancient man, observing the stars from earth’s vantage point as they were. Maris the Most Fair Maid is the Io of the story, and she ends up sort of locked away in the Hightower while Argos rages outside, which is kind of like being tied to a tree.

Mercury and Argus by Peter Paul Rubens (between 1635 and 1638)

So who is Argus, translated into mythical astronomy? Meaning, what role is Argoth Stone-Skin playing? Well, I think we can see him as the moon’s stone skin! Argus ‘Panoptes’ is the many-eyed giant, and we’ve seen moon meteors symbolized as eyes many times. Therefore I think Maris is like the heart of the moon, and her rightful husband, Argoth Stone-Skin, the Grey Giant, is the moon’s stony crust. The moon is a grey giant with stone skin, and Io is a moon with stone skin, so there you go. Also, consider that Io started off as a priest of Hera in the town of Argos, which was also a region, so she is implied as being “of Argus” in a sense already, even before Argus the Giant became her guardian. The tale continues:

Desperate, Zeus sent Hermes to fetch Io. Disguised as a shepherd, Hermes had to employ all his skill as a musician and storyteller to gain Argus’ confidence and lull him to sleep. Once asleep, Hermes killed Argus; later, Hera took his eyes and set them into the tail of her favorite bird, the peacock.

Cutting in again for a moment, I will point out that Hermes, “the messenger,” would certainly equate to the red comet, the red messenger. In these sun-kill-moon metaphor scenes, the comet is usually depicted as being the sword of the solar king that stabs the moon goddess. Here, Zeus sends Hermes to slay Argus, just as the sun sends the comet to slay the moon. Not sure what peacocks have to do with anything, but let’s continue with the story:

While Io was now free, Hera sent the mother of all gadflies to sting the still bovine Io. The ghost of Argus pursued her as well. This pushed her towards madness and in her efforts to escape, she wandered the world. During her journeys, she came across Prometheus while chained, who gave her hope. He predicted that although she would have to wander for many years, she would eventually be changed back into human form and would bear a child. He predicted that a descendant of this child would be a great hero and would set him free; his predictions came true. Because of her journeys, many geographical features were named after her, including the Ionian Sea, and the Bosporus (which means ford of the cow). She eventually reached the Nile where Zeus restored her human form. She bore Epaphus and eleven generations later, her descendant Heracles would set Prometheus free.

The part about Io wandering when her guardian is slain is the Greek myth-maker implying a moon which has wandered off of its course, untethered somehow from its cosmic axis tree. In ASOIAF terms, George has given us a moon goddess that wanders too close to the sun, cracks from the heat, and drops her stone skin from the sky in the form of dragon-like meteors. The detail about the ghost of Argus pursuing Io made its way into the ASOIAF version of the story as Argoth Stone-Skin raging outside the walls of Oldtown for his bride, I think it’s easy to see. Argus and Argoth can both eat their hearts out, though, because Io turned back into a beautiful women a bore Zeus’s baby, and Maris presumably helped Uthor found House Hightower by having some Hightower babies.

Meanwhile, Uthor of the High Tower who is possibly descended of dragon people, and he now ‘possess’ the heart of the moon maiden. If Argoth is the stone skin, Maris the Most Fair is the “heart of the fallen star” which represents the fire of the gods, or the special meteor to make a sword with. Either way, Uthor now possess the fire of the gods, as Galladon does, having been given the heart of the moon maiden. Hence that crown of red flame that burns atop the white tower in the Hightower sigil.

Interestingly, Uther Pendragon of the Arthurian legend actually kills almost all the living dragons, and TWOAIF tells us there are stories of the first Hightowers finding dragons roosting on the fused stone fortress on Battle Isle when they got there – dragons they had to kill:

How old is Oldtown, truly? Many a maester has pondered that question, but we simply do not know. The origins of the city are lost in the mists of time and clouded by legend. Some ignorant septons claim that the Seven themselves laid out its boundaries, other men that dragons once roosted on the Battle Isle until the first Hightower put an end to them.

So, Galladon was a dragon-slayer, Uther Pendragon was a dragon-slayer, and the first Hightowers may have been dragon-slayers as well (and there are solid theories about the Hightowers being part of a plot to kill off the last Targaryen dragons, too, for what it’s worth). Building on my pet theory about Dawn being a dragon-killer sword like the Just Maid, consider that I have pointed out before that the Daynes and Hightowers seem to be in the same boat in a lot of ways, particularly as Westerosi “First Men” houses which actually descend from the Great Empire of the Dawn and who may have turned against the evil Azor Ahai and fought on team Westeros when he invaded, assuming that that is a thing which happened, as I theorize.

Starfall has the Palestone Sword tower and a glowing pale sword, while Starfall has the white tower crowned with flame sigil and the “we light the way” house words. I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that Ser Gerold Hightower, the White Bull, stands alongside Ser Arthur Dayne at the Tower of Joy – I think Dayne and Hightower have been playing on the same team for a long time now. We also have a Gerold Hightower – that’s Darkstar’s real name – which is like a mash-up of Gerold Hightower and Arthur Dayne.

All of this helps set up the triple parallel between Uthor Hightower, Galladon of Morne, and the first Dayne who followed the falling star and made Dawn from the pale stone meteorite of magic power that he found. Uthor possessed Maris the moon maiden in his flaming white tower; Galladon of Morne won the heart of the celestial Maiden and won a magic sword, the Just Maid; and the Daynes possessed the heart of a fallen star which they made into a magic sword. The Hightowers and Galladon are rumored dragon-slayers, can Dawn slay dragons? Another clue about this is that there is both a Davos Dayne in recent times and a Davos the Dragonslayer legend from the Age of Heroes.

I hope you guys are ready for someone to stab a dragon with Dawn, because you freaking heard it hear first.

Lest you think Maris the Most Fair Maid would wriggle out of some sort of Night’s Watch symbolism, think again! When the wildlings come through the Wall in ADWD, Jon stations the spearwives in their own castle, Long Barrow, so as to avoid any Dany Flint situations. Jon has to station a couple of actual Night’s Watch brothers there to  keep things running, and he chooses two he can trust, Dolorous Edd and Iron Emmet, the former master-at-arms at Castle Black. That leads to this funny line, when Dolorous Edd returns to Castle Black and reports back to Jon:

“Place was overrun with rats when we moved in. The spearwives killed the nasty buggers. Now the place is overrun with spearwives. There’s days I want the rats back.”

“How do you find serving under Iron Emmett?” Jon asked.

“Mostly it’s Black Maris serving under him, m’lord.”

She’s serving  ‘under’ Iron Emmett, very funny Edd. They are going very far to suggest Maris as a Night’s Watchman though – she’s “Black Maris,” she’s serving under the Lord Commander, and she’s manning one of the forts on the Wall. So once again, we see that Garth’s children are implied as joining the Night’s Watch in some way. We also had a Runcel Hightower who was Lord Commander of the Watch, but he disgraced himself by trying to make the position hereditary so he could pass it to his son. There’s also good old Garth of Oldtown, one of the three Garths who join the watch. He’s not a Hightower, but I thought I would mention him here anyway since he’s “Garth of Oldtown.”

There’s one other Maris, and she’s a fair maid too, although like Brienne, the name is somewhat ironic. I speak of Pretty Meris, the official torturer of the Windblown, a sellsword company from Essos that we meet in ADWD. She is said to be able to stretch out a man’s dying for a moon’s turn – very interesting. She has no ears and scars on her face, and she has survived countless horrors. As a result, she has “eyes as cold and dead as two grey stones” according to Quentyn. That sounds like moon meteor talk as well Night’s Queen / Corpse Queen talk, and hearkens to mind the Grey Giant, Argoth Stone-Skin as a description of the moon. Maris seems like a vengeful sort of moon meteor, in other words, and that in turns help with our identification of Maris the Most Fair as a moon maiden.

John the Oak

Shiera Luin Elen, the Blue Star of Heaven and resident linguist of the podcast; Esdue dei Liberi, called Islandsbane and The Silent Blade; ilas the Red Beard, Chief of the Redsmiths; Ser Therion Black, The Justiciar, bearer of the Valyrian steel sword Altarage; Greenfoot the Gorgeous; Meera of House Gardener, Keeper of the Glass Gardens and Bearer of the Sea Dragon’s Torch; and The Dread Pirate Barron, the Demon Deacon, whose direwolf is called Megantic

Alright, it’s John the Oak time. This was some of the most fun stuff that I turned up while researching this project. First of all, I have to tell you if you were trying to figure out this puzzle on the own, this was one of the hardest ones. It’s almost unfairly difficult, and I only figured out because I just happen to be a big fan of both the constellation Ophiuchus and the myth of Astraea. Astraea was the big tip-off that we are supposed to combine Virgo and Libra, which creates a hole in the zodiac. Let’s listen to the the tale of John the Oak and then I will tell you who I think that replacement is:

John the Oak, the First Knight, who brought chivalry to Westeros (a huge man, all agree, eight feet tall in some tales, ten or twelve feet tall in others, sired by Garth Greenhand on a giantess.) His own descendants became the Oakhearts of Old Oak.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the constellation Ophiuchus, the serpent-bearer, one of my favorite constellations. I have to say I was thrilled to discover George making use of Ophiuchus mythology. Ophiuchus is a giant dude wrestling a snake which is sort of wound behind his waist and around his wrists, and he can serve as a zodiac constellation because his feet stand astride the path of the ecliptic. He appears to stand on top of Scorpio, and was perceived as doing just that in some myths, so Ophiuchus is kind of a badass: he wrestles snakes and tramples scorpions.

Johannes Kepler’s drawing depicting Ophiuchus stepping on Scorpio

That’s one of the things which helps us identify Ophiuchus with John the Oak and House Oakheart: Ophiuchus is a giant who fights with snakes and scorpions, while John the Oak is half-giant, and House Oakheart has been mortal enemies of the snakes and scorpions from Dorne for thousands of years. Check out this passage from Arys Oakheart’s “The Soiled Knight” chapter of AFFC:

The Dornish garb was comfortable, but his father would have been aghast had he lived to see his son so dressed. He was a man of the Reach, and the Dornish were his ancient foes, as the tapestries at Old Oak bore witness. Arys only had to close his eyes to see them still. Lord Edgerran the Open- Handed, seated in splendor with the heads of a hundred Dornishmen piled round his feet. The Three Leaves in the Prince’s Pass, pierced by Dornish spears, Alester sounding his warhorn with his last breath. Ser Olyvar the Green Oak all in white, dying at the side of the Young Dragon. Dorne is no fit place for any Oakheart. 

The hostility is mutual, as we hear from the other side of the feud when Gerold “Darkstar” Dayne speaks of Arys and the Oakhearts, also in AFFC:

“No, my lady. What I know is that Daynes have been killing Oakhearts for several thousand years.”

His arrogance took her breath away. “It seems to me that Oakhearts have been killing Daynes for just as long.”

“We all have our family traditions.”

So there you go – this is a seriously old and hateful enmity, exceeding even that of the Blackwoods and Brackens, who have, after all, married into each other’s families on occasion. Of all the houses in the Reach, the Oakhearts have some sort of extra-special hatred for the Dornish – any Dornish, it would seem. This one liner from TOWIAF, referring to some mysteriously horrible events of Aegon’s Conquest, is perhaps the most ominous of all:

Worse occurred at the hands of the Wyl of Wyl, whose deeds we need not recount; they are infamous enough and still remembered, especially in Fawnton and Old Oak.

Nobody has any idea what these infamous deeds are; we just haven’t been told. If they’re too horrible to speak of in the context of a George R. R. martin story, then they must be really bad. Think about it. But then check out the sigil of House Wyl: a black adder biting a heel on yellow. Thus, we can see a correlation between House Oakheart (think John the Oak, the giant) being savaged by House Wyl (the snake biting his heel). It’s very similar to Ophiuchus, who wrestles a snake while a scorpion bites his heel – that’s right, he doesn’t get a free pass for trampling the scorpion, as many depictions of Ophiuchus have the scorpion stinging one of his heels.

There’s a bit more about Ophiuchus which is relevant to ASOIAF, and I’m paraphrasing this summary from wikipedia.  The older Greek myths saw Ophiuchus as the god Apollo wrestling a huge snake that guarded the Oracle of Delphi, while later myths identified Ophiuchus with Laocoön, the Trojan priest of Poseidon, who warned his fellow Trojans about the Trojan Horse and was later slain by a pair of sea serpents sent by the gods to punish him.

Apollo is actually seen in the form of Rhaegar and the Valyrians in general more than House Oakheart, but I’ll tell you a couple things about him. Apollo is a complex deity, but he is often merged with the figure of Helios, making Apollo the sun god. His chief epithet is Phoebus, which means bright, and whether or not he’s merged with Helios, he’s always considered the god of light, or dare we even say, the Lord of Light. Another of his titles is Apollo Phanaeus, which means “light-bringing.” Sometimes we’ll talk about the Rhaegar / Apollo parallels, as they’re pretty good.

The Trojan fellow, the priest of Poseidon who warned of the Trojan Horse, I don’t think he has any bearing on anything – I mention him mostly to point out that the Greeks did not have a super strong bead on Ophiuchus. However, the Romans, who adopted much of the Greek pantheon, remedied this with the most widely-known association of the Ophiuchus constellation: Asclepius.

Asclepius was a legendary healer who learned the secrets of keeping death at bay after observing one serpent bringing another healing herbs. Asclepius was a son of Apollo, and both bore the title “the Healer.” The familiar snake-wound-around-a-staff symbol which stands for healing is known as the rod of Asclepius, so you can see why the Romans might see Ophiuchus, the man wrestling a serpent, as Asclepius, and since he’s a son of Apollo anyway, it’s not even that much of a change. Apollo is already the sun god, so he didn’t need a constellation too I guess.

Anyway, the story of Asclepius turns when, to prevent the entire human race from becoming immortal under Asclepius’ care, Jupiter (Zeus) kills him with a bolt of lightning. Silver lining: Zeus later places his image in the heavens to honor his good works.

Think about that for a second: Asclepius’ healing skills were so good, he essentially obtained the grail of immortality, the keys to defeating death. As we know, that’s an especially grievous sin in the world of ASOIAF, and Zeus apparently thought so too, striking him down with lightning. This is somewhat similar to George’s Grey King myth of his obtaining fire by means of the Storm God setting a tree ablaze with a thunderbolt, but more importantly, this is the familiar Lucifarian / Promethean theme of challenging the gods by taking their power and seeking to become like them which defines the Azor Ahai archetype. You may recall the High Priest of the Red Temple saying something about “all those who die fighting” for Azor Ahai reborn shall themselves be reborn, which makes Azor Ahai reborn sound like a raiser of the dead, like Asclepius.

In Greek lore, the serpent was a sacred animal associated with wisdom, healing, and resurrection, and so the figure of a man successfully controlling and containing the serpent would indeed represent a kind of mastery over these things.  Again we are reminded of Azor Ahai possessing the fire of the gods in the form of Lightbringer, a sword which is symbolic of dragons and comets.

Interestingly, the notion of Ophiuchus as a tamer of snakes was found outside the Western world too – in medieval Islamic astronomy (Azophi’s Uranometry , 10th century), the constellation was known as Al-Ḥawwaʾ “the snake-charmer.”

Ophiuchus in a manuscript copy of Azophi’s Uranometry, 18th-century copy of a manuscript prepared for Ulugh Beg in 1417 (note that as in all pre-modern star charts, the constellation is mirrored, with Serpens Caput on the left and Serpens Cauda on the right)

So now let’s think about John the Oak and the Oakhearts who descend from him. John is half giant, and he’s called “the oak,” which makes him sound like a tree-person and obviously reminds us of a weirwood tree, especially since “Oakheart” also implies a tree with a heart, like a heart tree. Now since John the Oak is both tree and man, think for a moment about Ophiuchus as a tree with a snake wrapped around it instead of a man with a snake wrapped around him. You basically get the rod of asclepius – a snake wrapped around a staff. We’re going to start bringing Arys Oakheart into the mix here as well – and if you’ll forgive my juvenile humor, Arys had a snake wrapped around him as well… meaning Arianne Martell, who absolutely plays Arys like a fiddle, using his infatuation to manipulate him into committing treason and eventually, suicide. Take a look at Arianne where Arys goes to meet her in secret in his “The Soiled Knight” chapter of AFFC:

He saw patterned Myrish carpets underneath his sandals, a tapestry upon one wall, a bed. “My lady?” he called. “Where are you?”

“Here.” She stepped out from the shadow behind the door. An ornate snake coiled around her right forearm, its copper and gold scales glimmering when she moved. It was all she wore.

During their lovemaking, Arianne is put in the snake role, as it says “When she wrapped her legs around him, they felt as strong as steel.” She’s very like the metal snake she is wearing, in other words. In another scene, Areo Hotah observes Arianne wearing “snakeskin sandals laced up to her thighs,” which enhances the mental image of Arianne’s legs being like snakes as they wrestle Ser Arys. She also rakes his back, drawing blood – she”bit” him, in other words. ” Arys is a poor Ophiuchus, and he’s losing this wrestling match. Finally, Arianne offers to share Ser Arys with one of her sand snake cousins, which may be nothing it may be intended to complete the “snakes wrapping around Ser Arys” theme.

The snake and tree motif is important to pick up on for a couple of reasons. It suggests the Garden of Eden, which has all the same themes about immortality and man seeking to become like god and a wise serpent, and of course that’s a big influence on the overarching Azor Ahai myth. It also has the elements of the sea dragon meteor “setting the tree on fire,” if we think of the snake as the meteor. The meteor setting the tree on fire is of course primarily a metaphor for Azor Ahai, the dragon, entering the weirwoodnet. And although I’d say the weirwood tree is more wrapped around Bloodraven that the other way around, any time you snakes and trees together we also have to mention Yggdrasil with its Nidhogg serpent beneath it, and Bloodraven the dragon among the white serpent weirwood roots. And come to think about, if the weirwood roots are like white serpents, then we do indeed have the Ophiuchus symbolism of snakes wrapping around a person. That person being a greenseer, as John the Oak may have been.

I mentioned that statue of Apollo at the oracle of Delphi which has Apollo wrestling a snake, so the snake-wrapping and wrestling stuff can also work as a call-out to Apollo. Oddly enough, if we go back to that quote where Arys thinks of the tapestries at Old Oak depicting the death of Dornishman and whatnot, there is a line that I didn’t include that makes Arys an honorary sun god, like the form of Apollo who is merged with Helios:

His hand drifted down to brush lightly over the hilt on the longsword that hung half-hidden amongst the folds of his layered linen robes, the outer with its turquoise stripes and rows of golden suns, and the lighter orange one beneath. The Dornish garb was comfortable, but his father would have been aghast had he lived to see his son so dressed. 

Not only is Arys wearing suns on his clothes, George slyly mentions his father so that he can refer to Arys as his father’s “son,” reinforcing Arys as an Apollo Helios sun figure. I don’t want to break down the entire death scene at the boat on the Greenblood with Areo Hotah and Myrcella and Arianne and Darkstar and all that, but I will tell you that Arys is actually not playing the role of an Other there, despite his status as a white knight of the kingsguard. I hate to throw you such a curveball, but Azor Ahai’s Lightbringer was white hot and smoking before he stabbed Nissa Nissa with it, and that’s exactly what Arys Oakheart is leading up to his death as he’s led through the deserts sands of Dorne, being sunburned and reddened all the way, with Arianne wondering if he’ll cook in his armor. When he has sex with Arianne, a snakey Nissa Nissa figure who is hot to the touch, Arys can be imagined as the white hot sword “stabbing” Nissa Nissa, if you will. His sword will be “shining silver” in his death scene.

Speaking of his death scene, we find a different moon maiden is wounded across the face – Myrcella – by a dastardly dragonlord-looking dude, Darkstar. Arys himself dies a sort of sacrificial, foolish Azor Ahai death akin to Dontos or Viserys. The key line is when his head is cut off:

The white knight raised his blade, too slowly. Hotah’s longaxe took his right arm off at the shoulder, spun away spraying blood, and came flashing back again in a terrible two-handed slash that removed the head of Arys Oakheart and sent it spinning through the air. It landed amongst the reeds, and the Greenblood swallowed the red with a soft splash.

Alright, that’s hammer of the Waters injuries, arm and neck, and here in Dorne no less. They came from an axe as opposed to a hammer, but since the ancient Andals seem to have used them interchangeably as symbols, according to the maesters, and it’s certainly close enough. Of course we notice the green blood swallowing the red – that’s kind of the highlight and the clincher for identifying Arys as playing the Azor Aha. He’s losing his life to enter the weirwoodnet, and immediately following a Nissa Nissa moon maiden event (Myrcella’s wounding) and a sharp set of Hammer of the Waters injuries. This might make him a green zombie candidate, with the greenblood river that drinks his blood standing in for the pool before the Winterfell heart tree that drinks the blood of the victims sacrificed to it.

The boat Areo Hotah is standing on is itself is a weirwood symbol too; it’s a wooden boat that navigates the greenblood, very comparable to the symbolic idea of Grey King sailing a weirwood ship in the green see. Check out the quotes about the boat; first we find it “hidden beneath the drooping branches of a great green willow,” and then the boat itself is described:

This one was done in shades of green, with a curved wooden tiller shaped like a mermaid, and fish faces peering through her rails. Poles and ropes and jars of olive oil cluttered her decks, and iron lanterns swung fore and aft.

A green mermaid boat, with iron, oil, and fire on board: it’s a jumble of fire moon and sea dragon symbols, basically. Areo’s monstrous axe adds to the weirwood symbolism too: his “ash and iron wife,” because it has a pole of ash wood, and as we have discussed in the Weirwood Goddess series, this is a symbol of the ash tree, and thus Yggdrasil, and thus the weirwoods and the weirwood goddess – and again, Areo creepily calls the ash-and-iron axe his “wife”. Areo on the green mermaid boat dispensing justice to Azor Ahai is essentially a Nissa Nissa’s revenge scene.

There is another good clue about Arys trying to fly like a greenseer: as he charges the boat, his horse is “feathered” with crossbow bolts, making hit a winged horse.

It also seems symbolically appropriate that Arya Oakheart was cut down by an axe, since his sigil is three oak leaves on gold and he has “a spreading oak tree worked upon the breast of his tunic in shining gold thread.” These kind of make Arys himself an honorary oak tree… who was cut down by an axe.

Alright, to finish up with John the Oak and the Oakhearts, let’s talk about their Night’s Watch symbolism. It’s a bit cryptic, as we don’t have any Oakhearts in the Watch or anyone named John in the Wat– oh. Well we do have a Jon I suppose. But remembering that John the Oak was said have been fathered on a giantess, check out this scene:

But the gate was a crooked tunnel through the ice, smaller than any castle gate in the Seven Kingdoms, so narrow that rangers must lead their garrons through single file. Three iron grates closed the inner passage, each locked and chained and protected by a murder hole. The outer door was old oak, nine inches thick and studded with iron, not easy to break through. But Mance has mammoths, he reminded himself, and giants as well.

Old Oak is the place the Oakhearts are from, and this old oak gate is being pitted against giants. It’s like the giants coming to Old Oak and playing come-into-my-castle, which is an obvious euphemism for sex (as is “smashing my portcullis”). And look – it’s a guy named Jon inspecting the old oak, like John the Oak who established Old Oak. Here’s the old oak gate after the fight:

The last twenty feet of the tunnel was where they’d fought and died. The outer door of studded oak had been hacked and broken and finally torn off its hinges, and one of the giants had crawled in through the splinters. The lantern bathed the grisly scene in a sullen reddish light. Pyp turned aside to retch, and Jon found himself envying Maester Aemon his blindness.

It kind of reminds me of the horrific deeds of the Wyls being remembered at Old Oak – here the grisly scene at the old oak gate is so horrific that Pyp has to wretch and Jon wishes he was blind. The giant has come to old oak, so to speak.

Giants are often associated with oaks, as it happens; not only in that last scene, but in Jon’s Azor Ahai dream of defending the Wall with a burning red sword and a bunch of burning scarecrow brother! There’s a line that says  “Giants lumbered amongst them, forty feet tall, with mauls the size of oak trees.” It would be nice to get one of those giants on the Watch, so we could have a giant oak-wielding fellow on the Watch for symbolism’s sake… and indeed, Wun Wun does sort of join the watch in the sense that he comes to Castle Black and is put to work as a builder of sorts. Wun Wun also has a oaken weapon – a stone maul with an oaken shaft. When he wakes up in the weirwood grove of nine scene with Jon, it was like a “boulder coming to life,” sort of like a combination of giants waking in the earth and a stone moon exploding in to meteor childbirth, events which I think are related of course.

Finally, I will close by noting that oak trees are the second choice for heart trees when no weirwoods are available, as we see in the Kings Landing godswood when Ned prays there in ACOK. Oak-heart-tree, ha ha. Better still is the huge (meaning giant) oak tree that the wildlings carve a face into south of the Wall in ADWD:

Just north of Mole’s Town they came upon the third watcher, carved into the huge oak that marked the village perimeter, its deep eyes fixed upon the kingsroad. That is not a friendly face, Jon Snow reflected. The faces that the First Men and the children of the forest had carved into the weirwoods in eons past had stern or savage visages more oft than not, but the great oak looked especially angry, as if it were about to tear its roots from the earth and come roaring after them. Its wounds are as fresh as the wounds of the men who carved it.

It’s a huge oak, like John the Oak who was part giant. It’s a watcher, like the Watchers on the Wall or the Others, who are called watchers twice in the prologue of AGOT. It’s a heart tree, so it’s already kind of like a tree person, and this one is suggested as being ready tear up its roots and walk like an ent from the Lord of the Rings.

My favorite giant and oak quote is, fittingly, tied to the Night’s Watch, and it’s one we’ve read before:

Giant had crammed himself inside the hollow of a dead oak. “How d’ye like my castle, Lord Snow?”

A night’s Watch ranger wearing the skin of a dead oak? This is basically like saying an undead oak tree person became a Night’s Watch ranger – a green zombie, in other words. An undead tree person. Who is also a giant oak, since the ranger’s name is Giant and he’s living in an oak tree. On the most basic level, a Night’s Watch ranger living in a tree suggests a greenseer Night’s Watchmen anyway. Which is the entire point of this entire exercise! Ta-da!

Owen Oakenshield

This section is dedicated to the longtime Patreon support of Melanie Lot7, a.k.a. The child of the forest known as FeatherCrow, the Weircat Dryad, earthly avatar of Heavenly House Capricorn; as well as our acolytes of Starry Wisdom: Rupee the Funkateer, ArchMaester of Synesthesia; Edward Greenhand, the transplanting transplant with a history of history; Icarus Drowning, the Public Eye; Mystica Faery, Reddish Star of the North and Fire Jewel Faery Locked in Ice; Matanues, Alaskan God of Thunder and Sex. the Cookie-Burner; and Virginie the Selekarian, Master of Homingaway

Here’s a bit of a challenging one. There’s really not much to go on, and it’s hard to know what to make of it:

Owen Oakenshield, who conquered the Shield Islands, driving the selkies and merlings back into the sea.

What we have here is a case of reverse association. Capricorn is the sea goat, a creature which is basically a goat with a fish tail instead of hind legs, and some legends associate it with a man who can transform into a sea goat. That is rather merling-like, and Owen Oakenshield is the only child of Garth with fish people involved in their legends, so I think it’s a good match.

A closer look at a few of the myths associated with Capricorn make the links more apparent. One legend sometimes identified with Capricorn is t he tale of the goat-horned god Pan giving himself a fish’s tale so that he might escape the monster known as Typhon. That’s pretty on the nose, as it casts Capricorn as a horned green man figure who escaped into the sea. Right away you can see that this myth is a natural fit for Martin’s green sea / green see wordplay that Ravenous Reader discovered, which we explained in Weirwood Compendium 6: The Devil and the Deep Green See. The horned god transformed himself to enter the green see – I mean the story barely needs any alteration. It overlays with the story of Garth becoming trapped in the weir perfectly.

Capricornus as a sea-goat from Urania’s Mirror (1825).

Another Capricorn-related myth is that of Amalthea, the goat that suckled baby Zeus after his mother, Rhea, saved him from his father, Cronos, who wanted to eat him as a tasty snack. Best of all, the goat’s broken horn was transformed into the cornucopia, a.k.a. the horn of plenty, and between that and Amalthea suckling the baby Zeus, we can see the fertility and bounty of nature associations with the horned creature mythology. The other tale about the nurturing of baby Zeus was that of the Meliai, if you recall from the Weirwood Goddess series, and the Meliai are ash tree nymphs that seem to have influenced Martin’s idea of the children of the forest and the wildling spearwives as spear-maidens who defend the sacred ash tree, which is the weirwood in ASOIAF.

The most common sea-goat myth is that of Pricus, the god of sea-goats. He apparently has always been a sea-goat and will always be a sea-goat, as he’s immortal; no transformation needed. Pricus is the son of Chronos, and like his father he has power over time. This comes in handy because he has a bunch of sea goat children who tend to walk onto land, lose their tails, and eventually forget how to talk, and Pricus turns back time, repeatedly, to try to prevent this. The sea goats, it seems, are wise and kind, but they just kept walking ashore and turning to regular goats. Pricus’s efforts at turning back the clock are in vein, however, because the little sea goats just keep doing the same thing every time. Pricus eventually begs Chronus to take away his immortality and let him die, because he can’t bear to be the only sea goat (so sad, right?). But Pricus cannot die, and so Chronos places him in the sky as the constellation Capricorn so that he can watch over his goat children forever, even the ones high in the mountains (he can see them because he’s up in space).

The main takeaway here is that the Pricus story has much in common with selkie and mermaid mythology, where the main tension is built around the idea of an aquatic humanoid who is caught between land and sea, always doomed to love someone they cannot be with. Most mermaid myths are romantic in nature, while Pricus love his little sea goat children that keep wandering away, but it’s still a very similar theme. Thus, I think it’s safe to associate the merlings and selkies of the Owen Oakenshield story with Capricorn, the sea goat. We might imagine Owen Oakenshield, the son of a horned fellow, driving off Pricus’s little sea goat merling children.

So that’s interesting: Owen the son of Garth is pitted against the implied horned folk coming out of the sea, or we might simply regards the merlings as therianthropic monsters from the sea. We are already inclined to view the children of Garth as Night’s Watch figures, and indeed, there is a Night’s Watch castle named Oakenshield. Interestingly, Oakenshield is eventually given to Tormund Giantsbane to command, with Tormund being a horny Garth figure for sure, although he’s definitely a wintery version.

When Jon is defending the Wall against the Wildling attacks in ASOS and using the far-eye to spy on their camp, we get a cool line about Tormund, the future lord of Oakenshield, and check out what he’s eating:

He still saw no sign of Mance Rayder in the camp, but he spied Tormund Giantsbane and two of his sons around the turtle. The sons were struggling with the mammoth hide while Tormund gnawed on the roast leg of a goat and bellowed orders.

Not only is Tormund the future lord of Oakenshield gnawing on a goat, symbolizing Owen Oakenshield’s war against the merlings which stand in for the sea goats of the Capricorn myth, there is an implication of Tormund and his sons being under water here, as they are wrestling with a “turtle.” This idea continues when Jon speaks of Tormund again in ADWD to Bowen Marsh. Bowen begins this quote commenting on the likelihood of the wildling survivors from the battle climbing the Wall:

“Unlikely,” said Bowen Marsh. “These are not raiders, out to steal a wife and some plunder. Tormund will have old women with him, children, herds of sheep and goats, even mammoths. He needs a gate, and only three of those remain. And if he should send climbers up, well, defending against climbers is as simple as spearing fish in a kettle.”

Fish never climb out of the kettle and shove a spear through your belly. Jon had climbed the Wall himself.

Okay, so now the wildlings who climb the Wall are compared to fish climbing out of a kettle, reminiscent of the merlings and selkies coming out of the see to Battle Owen Oakenshield. Again we see Tormund paired with goats – Tormund has herds of goats and people who will be like fish when they climb the Wall. Sea goat ahoy!

More importantly, we’ve already tuned into the idea that the Wall symbolizes the surface of the icy lake which imprisons the Others, an imitation of Dante’s frozen lake which traps the beast form of Lucifer in the ninth circle of hell. Thus anyone “climbing out of the frozen lake” side of the Wall, like the Others when the finally invade, would be akin to Lucifer when he eventually breaks free of the icy lake in time for Armageddon, as is tradition.

Now that we know about the under the see symbolism, we can see a new layer to the Others and all there icy lake / frozen pond symbolism (recall that their voices are like the cracking of ice on a winter lake). The notion of the Others coming out of a frozen lake, or climbing the wall with their ice spiders like fish climbing out of a kettle, implies them as coming from the weirwoodnet… which is exactly what we think about them! They’re the “white walkers of the wood” who “emerge from the dark of the wood” whom George describes as being like icy versions of aes sidhe, the elf-like spirits or Irish folklore who are thought to be attached to certain mounds, which are called side. Icy elves, you say? Frozen spirits that walk the wood? There are many other clues about this which we still need to fully explore, but I think you can see already that merlings and squishers – monstrous white fish people who come out of the sea to steal and or eat human babies – function very well as analogs to the Others, who are monstrous white ice people who come out of the sea of the weirwoodnet.

So now think about the Owen Oakenshield myth again – here’s a son of Garth who shares a name with a Night’s Watch castle, warring against the monsters from the sea, who might represent the Others. Starts to make more sense, right? Check out that Jon scene at the Fist of the First Men where he compares the Haunted Forest to a Sea:

When the wind blew, he could hear the creak and groan of branches older than he was. A thousand leaves fluttered, and for a moment the forest seemed a deep green sea, storm-tossed and heaving, eternal and unknowable.

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

The forest is like a deep green sea, and the Others and their army of the dead are the shadows creeping through the dark of the wood which is like a sea. To attack the Night’s Watch, it should be noted! There’s a lot more to the Others / merlings symbolism, but I am again hoping that I’m giving you enough to go on here to see how it works. Passages like this make it easier to see how a man named Oakenshield battling merlings that come out of the sea makes a good symbolic reference to the Night’s Watch battling the Others, the white shadows who come from the dark wood that is like a sea.

Bouncing back to the Night’s Watch defending the Wall in ASOS, we find a black brother named Owen – not Owen Oakenshield, but rather Owen the Oaf. Check out this scene though:

But the gate was a crooked tunnel through the ice, smaller than any castle gate in the Seven Kingdoms, so narrow that rangers must lead their garrons through single file. Three iron grates closed the inner passage, each locked and chained and protected by a murder hole. The outer door was old oak, nine inches thick and studded with iron, not easy to break through. But Mance has mammoths, he reminded himself, and giants as well.

“Must be cold down there,” said Noye. “What say we warm them up, lads?” A dozen jars of lamp oil had been lined up on the precipice. Pyp ran down the line with a torch, setting them alight. Owen the Oaf followed, shoving them over the edge one by one. Tongues of pale yellow fire swirled around the jars as they plunged downward. When the last was gone, Grenn kicked loose the chocks on a barrel of pitch and sent it rumbling and rolling over the edge as well. The sounds below changed to shouts and screams, sweet music to their ears.

That’s some great moon meteor last hero math there – twelve jars of burning lamp oil (think of oily black stone moon meteors, on fire) and then for the +1, we have a barrel of pitch – more burning black oily stuff. Or perhaps we should think of Yin Tar, one of the five given names for Azor Ahai, whose name translates to “black tar.” Point is, like Sam’s dozen dragonsglass arrows and one spearhead, this is last hero math in the form of fiery black weaponry in the hands of the Night’s Watch. Owen the Oaf is the one who shoves the dozen burning lamps off the edge, indicating the symbolic place of an “Owen figure” in the last hero’s dozen, and hear I am referring to Owen Oakenshield of course.

Owen the Oaf is again shoving things off the edge of the Wall to kill wildlings a bit later in the battle, and he really seems to get a kick out killing the sea creatures trying to get through the well, a la Owen Oakenshield killing the merlings and selkies on the Shield Islands.

Grenn got behind a barrel, put his shoulder against it, grunted, and began to push. Owen and Mully moved to help him. They shoved the barrel out a foot, and then another. And suddenly it was gone.

They heard the thump as it struck the Wall on the way down, and then, much louder, the crash and crack of splintering wood, followed by shouts and screams. Satin whooped and Owen the Oaf danced in circles, while Pyp leaned out and called, “The turtle was stuffed full of rabbits! Look at them hop away!”

A turtle is not a sea goat, ’tis true, but again it’s close enough to the Owen Oakenshield myth that I had to mention it, plus the mental image of Owen the Oaf dancing in circles is pretty freakin funny.  Owen also takes up the fiddle when everyone at Castle Black parties down as a part of Alys Karstark’s wedding, so he’s quite the musical fellow. He even dances with Patchface, which everyone finds hysterically funny. Patchface is a horned person from the sea, very similar to the concept of a sea goat, so maybe there’s hope for healing the great Owen – sea creature divide. Patchface does offer to lead the Night’s Watch into the sea and out again, famously. Watch out for “dead things in the water,” though.

Now, regrettably, there aren’t not actual sea goats in ASOIAF. However, we get something very close in the Asha Wayward Bride chapter which has the matching green sea forest quotes to the Jon quote at the Fist of the First Men that we just read. You will surely recall the basics: Asha can’t see the sea, because of the forest, which she compares to the sea and calls “an ocean of leaves.” Then she compares the sighing of the leaves of the forest, also called whisperings, to the waves of the sea, thinking the sound they made was softer than the sea. Then we had the quote where Stannis’s allies in the Mountain Clans of the North cloak themselves in leaves and branches and sneak through the ocean-like forest, and here’s the pay-off paragraph:

Asha saw only trees and shadows, the moonlit hills and the snowy peaks beyond. Then she realized that trees were creeping closer. “Oho,” she laughed, “these mountain goats have cloaked themselves in pine boughs.” The woods were on the move, creeping toward the castle like a slow green tide. She thought back to a tale she had heard as a child, about the children of the forest and their battles with the First Men, when the greenseers turned the trees to warriors.

There’s your sea goats: the mountain goats have cloaked themselves in the green see so they might pass through undetected. They’re green see goats! I think they represent Others too, for the reasons I pointed out in Weirwood Compendium 6: before catching sight of the mountain goat warriors, she sees only trees, shadows, moonlight, and snow, which are all the things used to describe the Others, snowy white shadows who emerge from the trees, blades alive with moonlight. Then the mountain goats in service to a Night’s King figure, Stannis, emerge from the green see forest to attack Asha, their axes “shivering ” her shield. Then there’s that line about the children of the forest turning the trees to warriors which either applies to the creation of the Others or to the green zombies. Or maybe both, since weirwood magic seems to be involved in the creation of both.

So once again, we have the idea of cold monsters from the sea, this time associated with goats directly. The idea of the Others coming out of the sea or out of the frozen lake to menace and terrorize really does click in with Owen Oakenshield fighting off merlings from the Shield Islands, and since Oakenshield is a Night’s Watch castle… it really works. House Hewitt, the house that has held dominion of Oakenshield Island down south, has an interesting sigil: it’s an oak and iron shield on a field of blue and white wavy stripes. They are guarding against raiders from the sea – traditionally the Ironborn, whom we already know have a ton of Others symbolism, especially Euron and the Drowned Men. The blue and white coloring represents the ocean, but also matches the colors of the Others, who are the real monsters from the see.

‘Oak and iron’ rings a bell: it’s Dunk’s mantra of course. “Oak and iron, guard me well, or else I’m dead and doomed to hell.” Some have observed that oak and iron seems to have a symbolic role of guarding against evil in ASOIAF, building on this mantra and other appearances of iron and oak, and this takes on new meaning when you think about oak and iron shields defending against the Others… who come from a frozen hell, surely. Lucifer’s frozen lake in the ninth circle, to be exact!

Oak is the tree of the ‘summer king’ in the Oak and Holly King schema, and Garth is himself a solar deity and a summer king. He planted the living “Oakenseat” at Highgarden for the descendants of his firstborn son, Garth Gardener, to rule upon. Two other sons are John the Oak and Owen Oakenshield, so there’s a whole lotta oak goin on, is what I’m saying. It makes sense that oaken summer king people would defend against symbols of the Others.

As I mentioned, Oakenshield and the rest of the Shield Islands (Greenshield, Greyshield, and Southshield) are conquered by the Ironborn, who tend to symbolize the Others. Lord Hewitt and his family suffer badly at Euron’s hand, and Euron gives Oakenshield to Gnute the Barber. A newt is an aquatic animal, and Gnute spelled with a ‘g’ is almost like Goat the Barber. No? Okay, yeah I’m not sure about that last bit. But the Ironborn are like Others, and they rely on both goats and the sea for sustenance, according to TWOIAF:

The soil of the Iron Islands is thin and stony, more suitable for the grazing of goats than the raising of crops. The ironborn would surely suffer famine every winter but for the endless bounty of the sea and the fisherfolk who reap it.

They raise goats by the sea, just saying, and they invade like merlings. And they believe they descend from merlings for that matter, so there you have it.

The Dothraki are very much analogs to the Ironborn, and sometimes to the Others. They are pirates of the green Dothraki Sea that believe it’s literally wrong to plant crops in the ground (think, “we do not sew.”) Now check this line from TWOIAF about their sea goats:

The Dothraki remain nomads still, a savage and wild people who prefer tents to palaces. Seldom still, the khals drive their great herds of horses and goats endlessly across their “sea,” fighting one another when they meet and occasionally moving beyond the borders of their own lands for slaves and plunder… 

The idea of herding goats endlessly across the sea reminds of Pricus, who turned repeatedly back time to try to herd his sea goats and keep them from leaving the sea!

Alright, well, that will do it for the first half of our Zodiac constellations… now you can see why it took me so long to get this together. Twenty thousand words.. to do half of them. Each one is its own rabbit hole. I have lots of notes prepped for the other six, but it will take some time to follow all the trail sand write them. I will do my best not to leave it hanging so long, so hopefully you’ll get that one soon. Thanks everyone, especially to all our Mythical Astronomy Patrons, and especially especially our zodiac patrons… this one was for you.

B2WW #5: Religion in ASOIAF

Featuring Gretchen Ellis (Fandomentalist, History is Gay), Brynden B-Fish (Not-a-Cast, Wars and Politics oIaF), and Sanrixian (Sanrixian Art)! Hosted by Lucifer means Lightbringer (Mythical Astronomy oIaF).

Not-a-cast: https://notacastasoiaf.podbean.com/

Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire: https://warsandpoliticsoficeandfire.w…

Fandomentals: https://www.thefandomentals.com/

History is Gay: https://www.historyisgaypodcast.com/

Sanrixian merch: http://sanrixian.com/en/

Sanrixian artwork: http://mallorydorn.com/

Mythical Astronomy of Ice and Fire: https://lucifermeanslightbringer.com

I mentioned a great church in San Francisco that does fantastic charity work, but said the wrong name.The church I was intending to refer to is St. Agnes: http://www.saintagnessf.com/

B2WW #4: Sex Workers Speak

Featuring Jinx Lierre and Lola.

Jinx Lierre on Twitter: @JinxLierre


Select Resources on Sex Work, from Jinx:

TV Tropes: “Disposable Sex Worker”:
“Activists Campaign Against Philadelphia Judge Who Ruled Rape as Theft”:
Audio & transcript of speech from Philly Women’s March:

Amnesty International: “Sex Worker Rights are Human Rights”:
“How Dare They Do This Again: Stonewall Veteran Miss Major on the ‘Stonewall’ Movie”:
Honor Miss Major Griffin-Gracy by contributing to her retirement fund:

suggested online resources:
Tits and Sass: blog by (and for) sex workers:
“Sex Work Glossary part 1” and other comics by brothelgirl:

Ho Lover: a Zine on Dating & Friending Sex Workers (printable pdf):
International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (December 17): http://www.december17.org/
International Sex Workers’ Day (June 2) commemorating the 1975 occupation of the Église Saint-Nizier in Lyon, France: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Whores%27_Day

St. James Infirmary: peer-based occupational health and safety clinic for sex workers and their families in San Francisco:
Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee: Indian collective of 65,000+ sex workers:
Free Speech Coalition: represents the adult industry in legal processes & public advocacy:
Women With a Vision: New Orleans-based harm reduction collective led by women of color: http://wwav-no.org/about/history

Casa Ruby: bilingual multicultural organization in D.C. providing support for low-income trans, gender non-conforming, and LGBT community members:
Sylvia Rivera Law Project: supports political voices and visibility of low-income folks and people of color who are trans, intersex, or gender non-conforming: https://srlp.org/about/

The Whorecast: “Sharing stories, art, and voices of American sex workers”: http://thewhorecast.com/podcast/wcpodcast/
Winter is Coming On Your Face: Whorecast’s nerd/fandom spin-off:
“Sex Work is Work: the VICE Podcast 035”: interview with Melissa Gira Grant:

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson: documentary streaming on Netflix starting 10/6:
Major!: documentary exploring the life and campaigns of Miss Major Griffin-Gracy: https://www.missmajorfilm.com/

books (by people who have done sex work):
Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock:

Coming Out Like a Porn Star: Essays on Pornography, Protection, and Privacy edited by Jiz Lee:
$pread: The Best of the Magazine that Illuminated the Sex Industry and Started a Media Revolution edited by Rachel Aimee, Eliyanna Kaiser, and Audacia Ray:
Prostitute Laundry by Charlotte Shane: http://www.tigerbeepress.com/store/p10/Prostitute_Laundry.html


The Devil and the Deep Green See

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now in PODCAST form!

Click to open in iTunes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But not before we thank the thank yous! Not only are we grateful for Stanley Black for our intro music and to John Walsh for our flamenco music; not only do we humbly thank Quinn from Ideas of Ice and Fire for performing the vocal readings as well as the man himself, George R. R. Martin, for writing the books. No, on this special day, we must not only thank our myths heads and Patreon sponsors who make all of this happen, we must stop and single out our two new dragon patrons! Yes! Three heads has the dragon! Joining Bronsterys the Wise Old Dragon, I’d like to give a warm myth head welcome to Vaespeyrs the Nightbringer, the Shadowfire Dragon, whose scales are dark as smoke, whose  horns, wingbones, and spinal crest are the color of molten silver, and whose eyes are two black moons. It is said that Vaesperys is the secret spawn of Meraxes, and is known by some as  “The Phoenix of Hellholt.”

So we have a wise old dragon, a terrifying shadowfire dragon, and for the third head of the Patreon dragon, we have a stoned dragon! That’s right, a stoned dragon, not a stone dragon. Please give a hazy, smokey myth head welcome to Falcoerys the ShagDragon, whose black stone scales are covered in purple and green 70’s shag carpeting and whose eyes, horns, wingbones, and spinal crest are as grey as a puff of smoke. It is said that Falcoerys, who has little interest in fighting unless roused, once blew a smoke ring large enough to encircle the black walls of Volantis.

One final note: this week’s livestream, and that’s for Sunday, Sept 23rd, will be on my new Between2Weirwoods YouTube channel. It will in fact be a Between2Weirwoods discussion panel on the topic of religion, featuring Brynden BFish, Gretchen Ellis, and Sanrixian, and if you want to see it, you’ll need to go subscribe to the Between2Weirwoods YouTube channel. That’s Between2Weirwoods with a number 2, as in a digit, a numeral. See you at 3 EST! Now on with today’s episode.

The Merling that Was Promised

This fishy section brought to you the Sacred Order of the Black Hand: Viseryia Sunbreaker, 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, Lord Brandon Brewer of Castle Blackrune, Sworn Ale-smith to House Stark, Grand Master of the Zythomancers’ Guild, Keeper of the Buzz 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The past. The future. The truth.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Who will lead the ranging?”

“Are you offering yourself, ser?”

“Do I look so foolish?”

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

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

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

The Jade Demon

This section is brought to you by the Sacred Order of the Black Hand: Ser Vorian, The Warg of the Morning, Wielder Of The Dual Blades Of Sunrise; Poseidon of the Dragonglass See, the Orcish Priest; WesterRoss of the Cosmic Mill, the Unchained Uncle, Host of Bards; Lady Shar, Wielder of the Sacred Shard, Avatar Witch of the House of the Unsleeping; Ridiculous Edd Tollett, the Firebeard of the dragonglass forge, whose eyes are like pale morning mist, and Ser Morris Mayberry the Upright, climber of Jacob’s Ladder, whose words are “I drink, and tweet things”

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

Let’s set sail!

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a dark-green horned sea monster with a deep-throated warhorn call, very like Davos and Stannis’s fleet of sea dragon boats. I thought I’d point it out since this is the same river Tyrion swallowed and was swallowed by that we just talked about. You may also recall that it was the wooden “turtle” that the wildlings used to try to ram the gate at Castle Black that Jon compared to a flipped over boat hull that drew a link between ships, turtles, and sea monsters.

Returning the to the battle:

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

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

There’s a matching line a bit further on:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then we get an even better meteor metaphor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thus begins the fire transformations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Captain ser!” Matthos touched his shoulder.

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

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

A sea dragon that’s also a sword, trailing a head of flame like a comet, is set to impregnate the plump green-blooded Lannister ship. Davos Ahai’s heart stops, symbolizing the beginning of his death transformation that coincides with the moon explosion. By the way, do you think George is making some incredible Hulk references here, with all these “hulks” full of the jade demon? One of which turns into a giant green monster? I certainly do. Picking up right where we left off:

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

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

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

The overripe fruit description of the rotted hulk is the same language used to describe the older flask of wildfire the pyromancers show Tyrion, so this is simply Martin being consistent about implying wildfire as the fruit of the burning tree. The symbolic burning tree is the weirwood, so of course it would have burning green fruit… and once again you can see that the ideas of wildfire as green liquid fire and the “green fountain” representing the greenseer fire of the gods overlaps quite nicely. Hat-tip to Gretchen Ellis a.k.a. Ba’al the Bard for that observation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is implied here is that Davos is hearing the voice of the wooden statue of the mother that was burned on Dragonstone – one of the burning wooden sea dragon gods! She’s reaching out from the grave to incriminate those who called the fire. This is the voice of dead Nissa Nissa in other words, which Davos now hears as the whispering of the sea. But Nissa Nissa dies and becomes part  of the green see, I am thinking, so it makes sense to imagine the burning wooden version of Nissa Nissa now speaking with the voice of a sea goddess. Saying that her voice is like the waves brings to mind Aeron Damphair beseeching the Drowned God to speak to him “in the rumble of the waves.” Davos also calls the Blackwater Bay “a grey-green sea” in this scene.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goddess of the See

This section has been sponsored by the Priesthood of Starry Wisdom: Archmaester Aemma, founder of the Maiden Maesters & keeper of the two-headed sphinx; The Venus of Astghik, Starry Lady of the Dragon Stones; Lady Danelle Bulwer, the Soaring Bat of BlackJack Mountain; The Black Maester Azizal, Lord of the Feasible and Keeper of the Records, whose rod and mask and ring smell of coffee; Ennovy, Shadowbinder from the Eastern Mountains and Lakes; and Sir Cozmo of House Dayspring, whose House Words are We Walk at Dawn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Ocean of Leaves

This final section is brought to you by the faithful support of the priesthood of Starry Wisdom: Black-Eyed Lily, the Dark Phoenix; The Orange Man, Patchface of Motley Wisdom; Obscured by Klowds, the Mayor of Walrusville, guest of the Yupik, and servant of Bodhi; R’hllor Girl, Mistress of the Pointy End; Stella di Silvestri, also called “Yellow Stella,” Mistress of Arcana; Grin of Long Lake, the Smiling Ranger and Freezer of the White Knife; and Tom Cruise lurking in a chat drinking a diet coke next to a picture of Aldous Huxley

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

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

So she’s pinned to the tree when they are both struck by lightning – this really sounds like a blood magic killing of Nissa Nissa that somehow involves the moon meteors… if you ask me.

Then comes the reference to her going under the sea:

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

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

This is a wonderous conflation of the sea and the woods: she’s almost dying in the actual woods, thinking she’s on her way to the watery halls, and dreaming of a wood –  a golden wood containing burning hearts and a black stag with fiery antlers. Not only fiery antlers – the fire is streaming from the antlers, like a river of fire. The burning stag man is a vision of resurrected Azor Ahai inside the weirwoodnet that matches resurrected Renly at the Blackwater, and a golden wood full of burning hearts is another of way of talking about burning trees and heart trees. So what we are seeing here is Asha as a Nissa Nissa sacrifice going into the fiery green see of the weirwoodnet, where we find Azor Ahai living inside her dream wood. This configuration again suggests the weirwoodnet as a dream of Nissa Nissa which the greenseers inhabit. Fans of Tad Williams’ Otherworld series might recognize this idea.

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

Check out this quote from early in the chapter:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you next time!

To Ride the Green Dragon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now in PODCAST form!

Click to open in iTunes

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

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

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

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

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

What a friendly green dragon!

Hey Are You Going to Burning Man?

This section is sponsored by the Patreon support of Ser Dionysus of House Galladon, wielder of the milkglass blade the Just Maid and earthly avatar of Heavenly House Virgo and Libra; Turin the Elf, Tavernkeep of the Winespring Inn, Master of the Abyss, earthly avatar of Heavenly House Cancer; and Sarah Stark of the Wolfblood, the shining hand of Phaesphoria and earthly avatar of the Heavenly House Sagittarius

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

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

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

Listing in brief, those scenes were:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Skipping forward a few lines, it says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Thunderous Dragon

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

Baby Rhaegal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’s definitely heavy weirwood stigmata happening:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quentyn was out of his mind

A Dragon in the Deep Wood

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

Two eyes rose up before him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They grow up so fast, don’t they

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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