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.

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

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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

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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

This section is brought to you by Direliz, the Alpha Patron, a descendant of Gilbert of the Vines and Garth the Green, earthly avatar of Heavenly House Aquarius; as well as our priesthoo dof Starry Wisdom: Lady Silverwing, last child of the forest, Keeper of all leeward shores; John, called St. Baptiste, Apprentice of Satyrs, Cupbearer of Leopards, and The thief of Sometimes; Ash Rose, Queen of Sevens, Mistress of Mythology; and Stefanie Storm Strummer, the Gift-bringer, Raven Minstrel of the Mountains


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

This section is brought to you by the faithful Patreon support of Ser Dionysus of House Galladon, wielder of the milkglass blade the Just Maid, earthly avatar of Heavenly House Virgo and Libra; as well as members of our Starry Wisdom Priesthood: Matthar o’ Moontown, fisher of the Shining Sea; and Ser Aenus Frey of the Loudwater


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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Sansa Locked in Ice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Sansa Locked in Ice

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


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

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

Queen in the North by Sanrixian

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

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

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

“What wife?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The hair net itself has sparkling mythical astronomy symbolism:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Escape From King’s Landing

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A trumpet blew.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But he saved me.”

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

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

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

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

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


Petey Got Fingered

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s very fierce,” said Sansa.

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

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

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

Let me explain as briefly as I can.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sansa did not know what to say to that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sansa spooned up some juice from her own orange.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


In the Clutches of the Others

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’ll do worse, if you don’t go.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The king’s peace.”

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

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

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

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

“What am I to do with her there?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Vale of Frozen Tears

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Vale of Frozen Tears

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally he looked north. He saw the Wall shining like blue crystal, and his bastard brother Jon sleeping alone in a cold bed, his skin growing pale and hard as the memory of all warmth fled from him. And he looked past the Wall, past endless forests cloaked in snow, past the frozen shore and the great blue-white rivers of ice and the dead plains where nothing grew or lived. North and north and north he looked, to the curtain of light at the end of the world, and then beyond that curtain. He looked deep into the heart of winter, and then he cried out, afraid, and the heat of his tears burned on his cheeks.

Now you know, the crow whispered as it sat on his shoulder. Now you know why you must live.

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

Because winter is coming.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Lysa Like the Giant’s Lance a Lot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes,” said Ned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or is it Alayne Stone?


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

Prose Eddard

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

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

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

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

Bloodstone Compendium
I: Astronomy Explains the Legends of I&F
II: The Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai
III: Waves of Night & 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alright, let’s get to the Ned!


An Eddard and a Brandon

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Renly Baratheon laughed. Varys shuffled over to listen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Brandon was nothing like you.”

“If you say so.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You knew him,” Theon said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A bit further on, we get these lines:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Like a Red Rain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’s one other thing to note about Ned’s recollection of this conversation; it’s the way he compares Robert, a solar king and a summer king, to himself and Rhaegar, who are both winter kings and lord of the underworld figures. In response to Barra’s mother, Ned says

“I will,” Ned had promised her. That was his curse. Robert would swear undying love and forget them before evenfall, but Ned Stark kept his vows. He thought of the promises he’d made Lyanna as she lay dying, and the price he’d paid to keep them. 

This is pretty interesting, as it casts Robert as the Summer King who loves women such as this Nissa Nissa-like child-woman during the daytime – contrast that to Rhaegar as the dark solar king who loves his Night’s Queen figure Lyanna during that weird cold period where King’s Landing and Blackwater Rush froze over.

Ned is also contrasted against Robert as one who remembers his promises past evenfall – during the night, in other words – and as I’ve mentioned, Ned is many times caught playing parallel symbolic roles to Rhaegar and other black dragon figures, usually revolving around the black sword and winter king symbolism. Indeed, this is also the chapter with Ned’s famous “somehow he did not think so” line in regards to the question of whether Rhaegar visited brothels, and that’s similar to Ned in this chapter, as it’s made abundantly obvious that Ned is uncomfortable at Petyr’s brothel and has probably never been in one before – certainly not as a customer. Ned and Rhaegar contrast strongly against the lusty King Robert, and that’s because Summer Kings are wanton Garth figures, spreading their seed like Robert.

The thing about the Oak and Holly Kings are that they are really just two aspects of the same horned nature god, split apart to represent Summer and Winter. There’s a similar thing going on with the Azor Ahai figure transforming from the bright solar king – a summer associated, Garth figure – to the dark solar king, the black dragon that brings the winter. When we see Robert the Summer King set opposite Rhaegar or Ned as Winter Kings or dark solar kings, that’s how we should think of them, as a pairing of opposites. This dynamic was especially apparent in that early AGOT chapter with Ned and Robert in the Winterfell crypts, as first discovered and explained by the one and only Sweetsunray of the Mythological Weave of Ice and Fire blog. 

All of that is a long and interesting way to say that Ned is like Rhaegar, in certain symbolic senses, and particularly in this scene. Ned’s primary identity is that of the ice moon or the dragon locked in the ice moon, but he occasionally shows us the black dragon meteor flying from the fire moon on the way to the ice moon, as he does here. Rhaegar’s primary symbolic identity is that of the black dragon, and thus the black dragon meteor – and instead of becoming locked in ice himself, he gives his seed to Lyanna of the blue winter roses, a la Night’s King giving his seed to Night’s Queen. Thus, as you can see, Ned and Rhaegar will overlap in certain scenes, particularly ones in which Ned is acting out the beginning of his cycle.

Longtime Mythical Astronomy Patron and frequent collaborator Archmaester Emma has a cool hat tip here from ACOK. It’s a quote from Theon about Ned: “Lord Eddard had tried to play the father from time to time, but to Theon he had always remained the man who’d brought blood and fire to Pyke and taken him from his home. As a boy, he had lived in fear of Stark’s stern face and great dark sword.” It’s cool that Ned’s “dark sword,” forged in dragonfire in Valyria, is mentioned alongside Ned bringing blood and fire to Pyke – that’s a lot of dragon action, especially since he fought alongside Thoros and Beric with their flaming swords. Ned was stealing Theon from his Night’s King and Queen parents at Pyke, a parallel scene to Ned taking Jon from the Tower of Joy and, theoretically, the last hero stealing children from the Others. That’s kind of the point of the implied dragon symbolism for Ned, even more so than the astronomy angle – the Night’s Watch and the last hero are always dragon-aligned.

So as Ned leaves the brothel, we see the all-important theme of rain introduced. In the last quote, it mentioned a rainy night, and then a moment later it says “A warm rain was pelting down from a starless black sky as they walked to the stables.” Anytime there is a starless sky, it grabs our attention as potential Long Night symbolism. Indeed, a moment later we read:

The streets of King’s Landing were dark and deserted. The rain had driven everyone under their roofs. It beat down on Ned’s head, warm as blood and relentless as old guilts. Fat drops of water ran down his face.

The rain of blood (cue the Slayer) theme basically dominates this entire scene, and of course it’s always nice when George lays it out simply for us as he does here. It’s a warm blood rain – this surely reminds of the waves of burning moon blood motif, which is just another way to refer to a shower of bleeding stars, a.k.a. the storm of swords. This is basically confirmed a moment later when the rain is mentioned yet again as Jaime and his Lannister guardsmen appear:

The rain was falling harder now, stinging the eyes and drumming against the ground. Rivers of black water were running down the hill when Jory called out, “My lord,” his voice hoarse with alarm. And in an instant, the street was full of soldiers. Ned glimpsed ringmail over leather, gauntlets and greaves, steel helms with golden lions on the crests. Their cloaks clung to their backs, sodden with rain. He had no time to count, but there were ten at least, a line of them, on foot, blocking the street, with longswords and iron-tipped spears. “Behind!” he heard Wyl cry, and when he turned his horse, there were more in back of them, cutting off their retreat. Jory’s sword came singing from its scabbard. “Make way or die!”

“The wolves are howling,” their leader said. Ned could see rain running down his face. “Such a small pack, though.”

Okay, now the warm blood rain has created rivers of black water, giving us definitive ‘waves of night and blood’ symbolism – which, as I am sure you all remember, comes from the blades of Oathkeeper and Widow’s Wail, which are described as having folds of dark grey and dark red, with colors that “lapped over one another without ever touching, each ripple distinct, like waves of night and blood upon some steely shore.”  In other words, this warm blood rain and black water implies both the meteor shower of the long night and the swords which were made from the Stark ancestral sword, Ice, swords which themselves symbolize the meteor shower as well.

There’s another possible reference to Widow’s Wail as Jory’s sword comes singing from it’s scabbard,” because “wail” is also a word that can describe singing. A moment later, a more obvious reference to a Valyrian steel sword occurs as it says “Suddenly Jory was back among them, a red rain flying from his sword.” “Red Rain” is an actual Valyrian steel sword, and just like Oathkeeper and Widow’s Wail, Red Rain is a Valyrian steel sword that implies the blood rain / storm of swords motif – it’s a sword called Red Rain! Red Rain belongs to the Ironborn House Drumm, and thus I don’t think it’s coincidental that in the quote we just read with the rivers of black water, the blood rain was “drumming against the ground.”

To put it bluntly, Martin is very, very strongly implying the rain as swords, and Jory’s sword as rain. Jory is implied as wielding a dragon sword, and his attack is like the blood rain itself. This makes Jory a symbolic dragon person, just as Ned is like a Nissa Nissa turning into a fire moon meteor dragon. Unfortunately, Ned and Jory are dragons headed for slaughter, but of course this fits with the storyline we are building here: these dragons to the slaughter can also be viewed as the last hero’s group on their way to become green zombies. That’s what Ned’s grey wraiths in the Tower of Joy dream symbolize – undead Night’s Watchmen.

Think of Davos starting on his journey to White Harbor with a dozen golden dragons, and then finding twelve people in the Wolf’s Den with the most prominent of them being implied as cadaverous or undead – it’s a perfect parallel to what’s going on here, I think. It’s showing us twelve dragons sacrificed and trapped inside the ice moon along with the last hero / Eldric Shadowchaser figure, with all of them awaiting rebirth.

The one slaughtering Nissa Nissa should be a solar king who’s about to turn dark, and that role is played by Jaime Lannister of course, who is wearing his Lannister crimson and gold in this scene, as opposed to his Kingsguard whites:

“He was the Hand of the King.” The mud muffled the hooves of the blood bay stallion. The line parted before him. On a golden breastplate, the lion of Lannister roared its defiance. “Now, if truth be told, I’m not sure what he is.”

Jaime Lannister poked at Ned’s chest with the gilded sword that had sipped the blood of the last of the Dragonkings.

Take notice of Jaime’s horse – its a blood bay. Think “bay of blood” – it’s another waves of blood symbol, continuing the escalation from blood rain to rivers of black water to now, an entire bay of blood! Of course, the the “rivers of black water” line has to remind us of the Blackwater River, which flows into Blackwater Bay here at King’s Landing, so you can see that the idea of black blood rain creating a black blood river that leads to a black blood bay is spelled out twice here. That’s pretty fun symbolism.

Jaime’s blood-sipping sword is of course a representation of Lightbringer, the sword that sipped Nissa Nissa’s blood and soul. And yes I just made Lightbringer sound like a sippy-cup – or maybe it was George. Anyway, Jaime is even poking his blood-sipper at Ned’s chest, again signifying Ned as a dying Nissa Nissa / fire moon figure in this scene, a complement to Ned having his heart cut out earlier in the brothel. Even better, Ned, rightly judging that Jaime cannot afford to actually kill him, is leaving his exposed chest defenseless, just as Nissa Nissa bared her breast to Azor Ahai’s bloodthirsty sword. It’s a bookend to the earlier moment in this chapter where Barra’s mother bared her breast and Ned felt his heart cut out.

Jaime’s men are basically an extension of his bloodthirsty golden sword, decked out in red and gold and referred to as “red phantoms” as they are in this scene. They have golden lion helms and red cloaks sodden with the blood rain, which enhances the idea of them playing the role of bloody swords of the solar king. Imagine Jaime as the sun, giving the command, and his men as the comet doing his bidding.

The notable Lannister guardsman is the captain Tregar – or should I say, “Tree Garth.” Tregar.. Treegarth.. oh yeah –  you better believe it’s intentional. Garth’s fertile, green form is the bright solar king – again, think of Robert – and when he kills Nissa Nissa, he to undergoes a death transformation and turns into the dark solar king. We saw that sort of darker Garth figure in the prison of the Wolf’s Den – that dude that just straight up smelled wrong to Davos. In astronomy terms, the way that killing Nissa Nissa – the fire moon – transforms the sun into the dark sun is of course by way of the smoke and ash clouds thrown up by the moon’s destruction and the moon meteor impacts on the Planetos. That’s why we sometimes refer to it as Nissa Nissa having ‘revenge’ on Azor Ahai. This exact thing is depicted as Ned gets a good whack in on Tregar’s solar lion helm and helps him undergo ‘transformation’:

“No!” Ned Stark screamed, clawing for his sword. Jaime was already cantering off down the street as he heard Wyl shout. Men closed from both sides. Ned rode one down, cutting at phantoms in red cloaks who gave way before him. Jory Cassel put his heels into his mount and charged. A steel-shod hoof caught a Lannister guardsman in the face with a sickening crunch. A second man reeled away and for an instant Jory was free. Wyl cursed as they pulled him off his dying horse, swords slashing in the rain. Ned galloped to him, bringing his longsword down on Tregar’s helm. The jolt of impact made him grit his teeth. Tregar stumbled to his knees, his lion crest sheared in half, blood running down his face. Heward was hacking at the hands that had seized his bridle when a spear caught him in the belly. Suddenly Jory was back among them, a red rain flying from his sword. “No!” Ned shouted. “Jory, away!” Ned’s horse slipped under him and came crashing down in the mud. There was a moment of blinding pain and the taste of blood in his mouth. He saw them cut the legs from Jory’s mount and drag him to the earth, swords rising and falling as they closed in around him. When Ned’s horse lurched back to its feet, he tried to rise, only to fall again, choking on his scream. He could see the splintered bone poking through his calf. It was the last thing he saw for a time.

Ok, a lot happened there. Ned’s blow actually split Tregar’s solar lion’s helm in half, causing blood to run down his face – this is your depiction of Nissa Nissa’s revenge, the darkening of the solar face. You’ll notice the verb Martin chose to describe Ned’s blow – “Ned galloped to him, bringing his longsword down on Tregar’s helm.” That’s our dark Lightbringer symbol, bringing darkness to to Tregar’s lion helm. Ned also “brought” blood and fire to Pyke in the quote we read a moment ago, for what it’s worth. As for Ned’s cleaving of Tregar’s helm, I said this moon-revenge blow against the sun is really the smoke of the impacts, right? Well, think of smoke dark Valyrian steel swords like Ned’s Ice, and then you can see that the smoke that kills the sun can indeed be thought of as a “darkbringer” sword that turns out the lights.

Thus, Captain Treegarth is playing the role of the summer king who must die when winter and the Long Night come, since Jaime can’t actually die here. He gallops off and leaves his men to do the dirty work, actually. Tregar however falls to his knees, as if praying or kneeling in ritual sacrifice, and blood on the face of a Tree-garth person evokes the bloody faces of the weirwoods, the garth-trees. Thus, Tregar is now going into the weirwoodnet and joining the trees. Tregar actually lingers unconscious for several days while Ned is unconscious and dreaming of the Tower of Joy, finally dying on the morning that Ned awakens, which implies Tregar as a Garth who went inside the tree and didn’t come out, whereas the character Ned represents does seem to come out.

Returning to the last quote, we saw Jory’s red rain line, which, again, is about as glorious and heroic a death scene as anyone gets in this series. Jory is “dragged to earth,” which is great moon meteor landing symbolism, the logical ending to the red rain of symbolic bleeding stars. Perhaps we’re supposed to see Jory as a falling castle – Cassel, castle – like a falling stone meteor. He’d be a bloody castle, if so, and we’ll see that very thing at the end of the chapter. The “dragged to earth” language also reminds me of the weirwood at the Nightfort, looking as though it was trying to drag the moon into the well. Here, it is Treegarth and his buddies dragging down moon dragons.

At the same moment that Jory is dragged to earth, Ned, a parallel falling moon symbol, crashes to the mud, tasting blood in his mouth and choking on his scream. That’s a bit of weirwood stigmata, and to go along with it, he has a gruesome fisher king leg wound! As we saw in the Baelful Bard episode, the Fisher King wound corresponds to a blighted land, so in ASOIAF, the logical time to see such wounds is when the fall of the Long Night is depicted. That’s exactly what is happening here, as you can see. Combining Ned’s crash landing from the heavens with the Fisher King wound is actually pretty creative symbolism on Martin’s part; it’s a nice way to show us that the the Fisher King wound of ASOIAF is the slaying of the moon and the Long Night.

Speaking of Ned’s splintered bone.. Ned’s bones are mentioned a bit earlier as Ned is riding through the streets when we get the line “Ned was soaked through to the bone, and his soul had grown cold.” This is of course freezing fire talk, as the fire moon meteors eventually cool to black meteorites – particularly the dragon locked in ice ones, and that is of course what Ned and the Starks represent. Think of all the symbolism at the scene where Jon sees the meltwater in the cracks of the Wall turning from meteor-like streaks of red fire to rivers of black ice: that’s a symbol of the freezing of fire in the womb of Night’s Queen, or the ice moon. Ned’s soul is growing cold here as he approaches his symbolic transformation and entrance into the dreamworld, which is like the inside of the ice moon or the inside of the wierwoodnet. It’s very similar to his grief and rage freezing inside when he’s inside the black cells.

I’ll pick up the narrative right where we left off:

When he opened his eyes again, Lord Eddard Stark was alone with his dead. His horse moved closer, caught the rank scent of blood, and galloped away. Ned began to drag himself through the mud, gritting his teeth at the agony in his leg. It seemed to take years.

Littlefinger and the City Watch found him there in the street, cradling Jory Cassel’s body in his arms. Somewhere the gold cloaks found a litter, but the trip back to the castle was a blur of agony, and Ned lost consciousness more than once. He remembered seeing the Red Keep looming ahead of him in the first grey light of dawn. The rain had darkened the pale pink stone of the massive walls to the color of blood. Then Grand Maester Pycelle was looming over him, holding a cup, whispering, “Drink, my lord. Here. The milk of the poppy, for your pain.” He remembered swallowing, and Pycelle was telling someone to heat the wine to boiling and fetch him clean silk, and that was the last he knew.

Just in case you missed the blood rain symbolism, there it is one more time, turning the stones of the Red Keep to blood – it’s a bloody castle, just like poor Jory Cassel lying dead and bloody in the street. It could also be seen as a castle made of bloodstone, which I have to think symbolizing the Bloodstone Emperor, Azor Ahai’s dark form,  coming into power. The grey dawn indicates a reduced daylight, one shrouded by clouds, just as we would have during the long night.

So, according to my hypothesis that this chapter and Ned’s Tower of Joy dream are meant to be interpreted as one longer story, Ned is equivalent to a slain last hero at this point, awaiting resurrection. And look who should be waiting for him as he loses consciousness but a snowbearded figure who offers him milk that will make him dream! This is the transition point for Ned as he slips into his Tower of Joy dream, and symolically, into the ice, so let’s transition too and make it a section break.


There and Back Again: Ice Moon Edition

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You’ll recall that I said I didn’t have anything for Pycelle, when I had cool symbolic finds for all the other snowbeard characters. Well, I was lying to you, so I apologize. I was saving this scene, which we aren’t done with, and in addition to that, an astute listener named Thunderclap has identified Pycelle as a creepy Santa Claus figure! To whit: he has a long white beard, a fat round belly, long red robes with white trim (“He was clad in a magnificent robe of thick red velvet, with an ermine collar and shiny gold fastenings”), and he visits children in the middle of the night. The key is the red robe; I had never caught that detail. Pycelle does have creepy Santa Claus symbolism! Of course Santa is just a variation on the Holly King, a.k.a. the Winter King, so the snowbeard and milk symbolism makes a ton of sense.

Setting aside the funny Santa Claus thing (and what does it say about George’s conception of Christmas that the two characters who correlate to Santa that we’ve found are Patchface and Pycelle), we can say that Pycelle plays the role of some kind of ice moon priest or psychopomp, offering Ned the milk of the poppy as he slides into his Tower of Joy dream and symbolically becomes a resurrected hero who fights alongside wraiths with black swords. That’s also consistent with the broader horned god mythology, as the horned god often plays the role of a psychopomp who escorts the dying to the land of the dead, and sometimes back again.

In Mythical astronomy terms, this is Ned as the black meteor entering the ice moon and becomes frozen. Again think of the line about Ned’s soul growing cold… it’s transformation time, oh yeah.

Earlier in AGOT, there’s a parallel scene where Pycelle also serves Ned milk – that time, it was a sweetened iced milk, if you recall. It was actually iced milk sweetened with honey, and some of the Twitteros symbolism crew have identified milk and honey as as reference to the Biblical story of Moses, to whom God promised Caanaan, the “land of milk and honey.” In other words, when we see milk and honey symbolism, think of  the food and drink of the gods and the fire of the gods. Dany tastes mother’s milk and honey, amongst other things, when she drinks the shade of the evening.

Most importantly, we should compare these two milky drinks to weirwood paste – whose taste sensations include “honey and newfallen snow,” and “the last kiss Bran’s mother ever gave him.” Milk of the poppy is more obvious, because of it’s association with dreaming, but consider the scene with Pycelle and the iced milk. Libraries and books can stand in for weirwood knowledge, we’ve seen that metaphor before, and you’ll notice that Pycelle gave Ned the iced milk at the same time that he gave him the book which lead Ned to discovering Joffrey’s parentage secret, which then led to Ned’s death – meaning, the book becomes a metaphor for the type of sacred knowledge that is gained through death transformation, a la Odin and the greenseers.  Giving him the book along with iced milk makes it easier to see the milk as a stand-in for weirwood paste, and I think it’s the same for milk of the poppy – especially when coming from a snowbearded fellow.

Even better, compare Bran breaking his legs and then becoming a greenseer by eating the weirwood paste to Ned breaking his leg and then drinking the milk of the poppy as the chapter concludes. In fact, right after Bran eats the paste, he has a series of visions, which conclude by comparing Bran and Ned:

Lord Eddard Stark sat upon a rock beside the deep black pool in the godswood, the pale roots of the heart tree twisting around him like an old man’s gnarled arms. The greatsword Ice lay across Lord Eddard’s lap, and he was cleaning the blade with an oilcloth.

“Winterfell,” Bran whispered.

His father looked up. “Who’s there?” he asked, turning …

… and Bran, frightened, pulled away. His father and the black pool and the godswood faded and were gone and he was back in the cavern, the pale thick roots of his weirwood throne cradling his limbs as a mother does a child. A torch flared to life before him.

I pointed this quote out in the Green Zombies series – first we have Ned with the “pale roots of the heart tree twisting around him like an old man’s gnarled arms,” then Bran is described in much the same language, “the pale thick roots of his weirwood throne cradling his limbs as a mother does a child.” In other words, dead Ned is symbolically inside the weirwood, just as Bran’s spirit is now partially inside the weirwood. This fits with the idea of the Winterfell weirwood matching the long, melancholy face of the Starks and containing the ancestors of House Stark, something Joe Magician talks about in his How to Make a Weirwood video that everyone should check out if they haven’t already, especially since I did the vocal performances for that one, ha ha. Also, if the weirwood is like a mother and Bran her child, then the weirwood paste that tastes like kisses from Bran’s mother is very like mother’s milk indeed.

The point of this for our Ned sequence is that when he’s symbolically killed and turned into a flying fire moon meteor, his next stop is inside the ice moon, which parallels to being inside the weirwoodnet. That’s why he’s drinking the milk of the poppy after breaking his leg in a parallel to Bran eating the weirwood paste: this is Ned playing the role of the last hero going into the weirwoodnet and into the ice moon. Ned drinks his milk of the poppy, served up by a snowbeard, and next thing you know… “He dreamt an old dream, of three knights in white cloaks, and a tower long fallen, and Lyanna in her bed of blood.”

Its also synonymous with the last hero going north of the Wall, since going north of the Wall is of course analogous to going into  the ice moon as well. We know the last hero goes north anyway, and this would be where he’s killed and resurrected according to my theory, so that all fits – and it also fits with Ned being accompanied by wraiths in his Tower of Joy scene. The rescue mission to save the Other baby obviously occurs north of the Wall, and there is most likely some part of the last hero’s mission that must be completed inside the weirwoodnet. I expect to see a close parallel of whatever this involves when Jon’s spirit wanders the bardo before his eventual resurrection.

Once again, I will point out that this same sequence is reflected when the rotten ice Ned is dancing on cracks and he makes his noble splash – meaning, when he’s locked away in the black cells under the Red Keep after challenging Joffrey and Cersei, then brought to the Sept of Baelor and beheaded. This again shows a death transformation as the last hero goes into the ice and into the weirwoodnet, as we’ve already discussed.

There’s actually a great correlation to my theory about the fight with Jaime and the Tower of Joy being two parts of a sequence when Ned is “buried” in the black cells. Ned in the black cells is analogous to Ned lying unconscious and dreaming of the Tower of Joy, and wouldn’t you know it, while he’s in the black cells, he has fever dreams of “blood and promises,” an obvious reference to the Tower of Joy, and he also dreams of the Tourney of Harrenhal and Lyanna’s blue rose crown, a scene directly linked to the Tower of Joy! It’s not just Ned’s tendency to reflect on all things Lyanna when he’s having fever dreams; it’s that these moments symbolize his archetypal character becoming the dragon locked in ice. He’s like a decapitated fire moon, hurtling toward the ice moon – and Lyanna is an ice moon maiden, so he dreams of her after death transformation sequences. The Sept of Baelor is an ice moon symbol too, and that’s where Ned is taken to die after the black cells.

All of this compares well to Davos and his being locked in White Harbor and passed of as a dead man, only to be “resurrected” by a knight of the greenhand, Wyman Manderly, and sent on a rescuer mission to save Rickon Stark. Fake Davos has his head cut off at White Harbor, just as Ned has his cut off at the Sept of Baelor, both being ice moon symbols. There are abundant “inside the weirwoodnet” symbols at the Wolf’s Den, of course, from its monstrous weirwood to Garth the jailor who “just smelled wrong.” The parallels are really tight here.

One last point about Pycelle Snowbeard. Obviously Jon being dead at the Wall, with his body probably to be stored in an ice cell, is parallel to Ned drinking Pycelle’s milk of the poppy and going into a mini-coma here, and my good friend and collaborator Ravenous Reader has pointed out that Pycelle sure sounds a lot like “ice cell.” It makes a ton of sense – Pycelle is symbolically putting Ned into an ice cell by serving him the milk and sending him into the dream world.

Pycelle, twisted Santa Claus that he is, also gives us a nod to the King of Winter in the scene where he serves Ned iced milk: that’s where he gives his famous line “Minds are like swords, I do fear. The old ones go to rust.” And then the iced milk arrives! Rusty swords are of course the province of the stone Kings of Winter, with the older swords indeed going to rust and leaving behind red stains.

When Ned is in the black cells, there’s a parallel psychopomp figure to Pycelle serving the milk of the poppy; it’s the jailer who brings Ned water. He’s “a scarecrow of a man with a rat’s face and frayed beard,” and of course you will recall that Beric is a “scarecrow knight,” while the scarecrow brothers which catch on fire in Jon’s Azor Ahai dream correlate to Beric and suggest fiery, undead Night’s Watchmen.

This scarecrow jailer in the black cells isn’t totally dissimilar to the snowbearded Pycelle, actually – we’ve seen people with undead Night’s Watchmen also have snowbeards. It’s important to remember that our snowbeard and Eldric figures tend to unite ice and fire symbolism. The burning, wighted Small Paul is a great example here – he was a symbolic burning straw man Night’s Watchmen, like Beric and the scarecrow brothers, yet he also had hoarfrost dripping from his beard, the signature snowbeard symbolism. So, we can say that Ned has Pycelle Ice-Cell serving milk of the poppy as a psychopomp in one sequence, and a scarecrow jailer serving him water in another.

Now the final stage of the dragon locked in ice is to awaken from the ice and from weirwoodnet slumber, and here we will preview the topic of the next episode: the inevitable ice moon disaster we are headed for. Ned has this covered: it’s Jon’s dream which merges the face of the burning wight from Mormont’s chambers and Ned’s face. If you recall, the wighted Othor was originally described as having a “pale moon face” and “eyes like blue stars burning.” It’s showing us the ice moon, but also a Night’s Watchmen “trapped in the ice” in that he’s dead and under the hold of the Other’s blue star magic. But the “demonic force” is driven out by fire, and here is Jon recalling the burning of the wight and the dream of the wight having Ned’s face:

Truly, the gods had heard Jon’s prayer that night; the fire had caught in the dead man’s clothing and consumed him as if his flesh were candle wax and his bones old dry wood. Jon had only to close his eyes to see the thing staggering across the solar, crashing against the furniture and flailing at the flames. It was the face that haunted him most; surrounded by a nimbus of fire, hair blazing like straw, the dead flesh melting away and sloughing off its skull to reveal the gleam of bone beneath.

Whatever demonic force moved Othor had been driven out by the flames; the twisted thing they had found in the ashes had been no more than cooked meat and charred bone. Yet in his nightmare he faced it again … and this time the burning corpse wore Lord Eddard’s features. It was his father’s skin that burst and blackened, his father’s eyes that ran liquid down his cheeks like jellied tears. Jon did not understand why that should be or what it might mean, but it frightened him more than he could say.

The description of the wighted Othor / Ned figure having bones like old dry wood is important because it creates the classic king of winter symbolism, which is that of a burning wicker man (and here I am referring to the real world king of winter / wicker man traditions). This is merged with the obvious ice moon face symbolism of the wight to show us that he ASOIAF King of Winter is a dragon locked in ice figure, which can of course also be like a Night’s Watch crow locked in ice as it is here. His reawakening will happen via fire, and, accordingly, the wight’s face is “surrounded by a nimbus of fire, hair blazing like straw.” This is a terrific depiction of both a burning ice moon and a burning ice moon man! As I have said before, this dream frightens Jon because it is essentially a prophecy of his future told in symbolic terms, and it’s a little rough, admittedly.

Now you can start to get a glimpse of why we have to talk about a potential future ice moon disaster next: because in terms of symbolism, the promised ice moon apocalypse correlates with Jon’s inevitable resurrection and the larger idea of the King of Winter awakening in fire. In fact, the hints about the #icemoondisaster are not only found in the symbolism of King of Winter figures like Ned and Jon – they’re actually buried everywhere ice moon symbols are found, especially at the two places we will look at today, Winterfell and the Wall. We’ll be sort of switching back and forth between discussing the Starks and the places where Starks live, and the reason why we can do that is because whether it be person or place, everything Stark symbolizes the ice moon and the dragon locked in ice symbolism… which, again, can only end in the reawakening of said frozen dragon.

Now that we have given Ned the full Mythical Astronomy treatment and begun to define House Stark through its most prominent figure, Ned, we can explore House Stark through its ancient castle, Winterfell. We’ll also be taking a hard look at the Wall, which kind of goes hand-in-hand with Winterfell and the Starks. They’re the two key structures in the North, and together with places like White Harbor, the Sept of Baelor, and the Eyrie, they show us everything we need to know about the #icemoonapocalypse and the awakening of the dragon locked in ice, he who has the blood of the Other.

 


Once again, if you’re going to Con of Thrones, please introduce yourself, I should be easy to find as I’ll be wearing horns of speaking on panels, or maybe both. I hope to see you at the Prose Eddard Livestream this Sunday, May 13th, 2:00 Est. You can get it in right before Cavs – Celtics at 3:30, we’ll be g ood. I’ll be on Joe Magician’s YouTube livestream later today at 7 EST, so come on by and talk prologue with us, and don’t forget to check out Blue Tiger’s Amber Compendium for his outstanding Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire, Okay, cheers everyone, and thanks for joining us! Ta ta!

Ice Moon Apocalypse

Hey there friends, patrons, YouTube viewers, podcast listeners – fellow mythical astronomers all. It’s your host, LmL, and it’s time to talk about the end. At least, the beginning of the end anyway… that’s right.  It’s finally, finally time to discuss the possibility of a new moon meteor incident and a new Long Night.It’s been suggested right from the very start. My first episode, which began as an essay before there was such a thing as the Mythical Astronomy of Ice and Fire podcast, began with the famous quote from Doreah about the Quarthine legend of the second moon, which ends with a prophecy: “One day the other moon will kiss the sun too, and then it will crack and the dragons will return.” While we have seen the fire-breathing dragons return, I think it’s obvious the Qarthine prophecy is about the meteor dragons returning.

Think about it – dragons only disappeared from the world about one hundred and fifty years before present day. Four hundred years ago the Doom of Valyria killed off most of the Valyrian dragons, but before that, the Valyrians had had control dragons going back at least 5,000 years ago, when they wiped out old Ghis with their dragons. Even before Valyria, people in Asshai probably had control of dragons. This Qarthine prophecy, however, is probably centuries old, if not more, and certainly older than the Doom of Valyria, which means that dragons would almost certainly have existed when it was written. Therefore it doesn’t really make sense for the prophecy to speak of dragons returning – unless they are talking about the kind of dragons that come from the moon, the kind that only came once many thousands of years ago when the second moon kissed the sun. So when the prophecy says that one day the other moon will kiss the sun, and then the dragons will return…

…it’s nothing less than a prophecy of a future moon disaster and another moon meteor attack.  And it’s right there in Dany’s third chapter!

It actually is meaningful that this apparent prophecy of lunar doom comes halfway through the first book: it means it’s something Martin has been planning the whole time. Which makes sense – something that big as part of the ending would have to be planned out from the beginning. As we’ll see today, the foreshadowing for the ice moon apocalypse has indeed been laid out all throughout the series, just like all the other main events seem to be.

Bloodstone Compendium
I: Astronomy Explains the Legends of 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

One of the most common questions that I get is some version of “but how will we know (if moon meteors caused the Long Night, etc.)?” Well, there are a few ways – Bran visions, knowledge in Asshai, knowledge in old books Sam might discover, that sort of thing – but one of the best confirmations that moons meteors caused the original Long Night would be if moon meteors caused the new Long Night! Makes sense, right? We all know a new Long Night is coming, so it’s just a matter of how it is triggered. If meteors triggered the first one, it figures they would probably cause the new one, right? You might think a meteor attack is too spectacular for ASOIAF, too distracting – but again, we all know a new Long Night is coming, so think of the meteor impact as simply a very spectacular (and symbolically meaningful) mechanism to achieve that.

In a series full of Chekov’s guns, the biggest gun of all is the impending invasion of the Others. It’s been set up since the prologue of AGOT Others will once again invade Westeros and cause everyone a lot of problems. In the books, the Others are like vampires – they really can’t come out during the day. It’s glossed over on the TV show, but to truly invade Westeros, the Others need a true Long Night, with the sun hidden during the day and winter taking firm hold. In other words, something has to hide the sun – what could it be? If my main theory is right, Martin has already solved this problem once; he used moon meteors. Is he really going to come up with a whole new way to hide the sun?

It makes more sense to have “the other moon kiss the sun” in order to “have the dragons return,” just like the prophecy says. If he’s really left the reader with this long trail of clues about a moon meteor impact causing the original Long Night, well, it sure would make a lot of sense to put a big payoff at the end. People who didn’t see it coming will look back in search of foreshadowing, and there will be plenty to find – so much so that everyone will be saying “why didn’t I see that coming,” just as everyone did with the Red Wedding, which was in hindsight amply foreshadowed. After today, however, you all will be in on what I consider to be this ‘ample foreshadowing’ of the ice moon apocalypse which is headed our way.

We’ve actually been seeing it coming for a while now. After all, we’ve been talking about this “dragon locked in ice” symbolism for several episodes, and we’ve found it everywhere ice moons are symbolized… and what’s the fun of locking away a dragon in a cold prison if you’re not going to have that bad boy wake up? What does it mean for a dragon sleeping inside the ice moon to “wake up?” Sounds like an explosion, right? The last time a moon was “like an egg,” it had to crack open to birth dragons, and I think that one day the other moon will indeed crack open so the ice dragon can wake.

More than anything, the dragon locked in ice is a symbol of dead Jon, his body “growing pale and hard as the memory of all warmth fled from him” at the Wall, as Bran sees in his coma dream vision – and Jon is not going to stay dead. He’s going to wake up, quite possibly with the aid of magic, fire, and blood.  As we’ve covered many times, Jon’s symbolism is that of an ice dragon and of dragonglass. Think about dragonglass for a minute – it not only represents the concept of frozen fire, but also the potential for fire to be reborn, because Quaithe speaks of “waking fire from dragonglass.” Dead and frozen Jon, with his corpse likely to be stored in an ice cell of the Wall, is the dragon locked in ice, and he is most strongly symbolized by dragonglass – and accordingly, his resurrection can be thought of as the dragon locked in ice ‘waking in fire.’

So we have these parallel symbols – a moon with a frozen dragon inside that needs to wake, and Jon as a frozen dragon inside the Wall. The Wall parallels the ice moon if anything does – something we will explore in detail today – and thus we can see that Jon waking from his deathly slumber is symbolically parallel to the idea of the ice moon cracking open. If Dany played the role of the fire moon that cracks open to birth dragons at the Alchemical Wedding, then Jon is like the frozen dragon inside the moon, waiting to hatch. We’ll see that depicted in a myriad of clever ways today.

We left off the last episode with a great ice moon apocalypse foreshadowing: the burning of the wighted Night’s Watch ranger named Othor in Mormont’s chambers. The mechanics are simple: Othor is described as having the standard blue star eyes of all wights and white walkers, and most notably, a moon face in this line:

The hooded man lifted his pale moon face, and Jon slashed at it without hesitation. The sword laid the intruder open to the bone, taking off half his nose and opening a gash cheek to cheek under those eyes, eyes, eyes like blue stars burning.

Here we see clear “crack across the face of the moon” symbolism, with sword being like a comet. This could be either the original black fire moon meteor becoming embedded in the ice, or a depiction of the comet that is hypothetically coming to hit the ice moon in the future, as they are largely parallel events – both involve flying space rocks slamming into the ice moon, after all. I believe this would be the initial strike, as there’s a more explosive event coming in moment. Either way, we can easily see the basic idea of what is happening: Martin is showing us a moon-faced man full of ice magic energy getting slashed across the face with a sword, and the man wielding the sword is one of our flaming sword heroes.

The more important part comes with the burning of the ice moon man, where “the fire had caught in the dead man’s clothing and consumed him as if his flesh were candle wax and his bones old dry wood,” and its face was “surrounded by a nimbus of fire, hair blazing like straw.” These quotes merge the wicker man king of winter symbolism with the ice moon, and in the form of an undead Night’s Watchmen. This has Jon written all over it, as he’s a King of Winter figure and a Night’s Watchmen who is dead and symbolically trapped in the ice moon after he dies at the end of ADWD. Of course, Jon later sees wighted Othor wearing Ned’s face, which further cements Othor as playing a symbolic King of Winter / Stark role. If Jon wakes through some sort of fire magic ritual, he will be mirroring his brother Othor, and I expect that very thing to happen.

The thing is, this scene isn’t just showing us foreshadowing of frozen Jon waking in fire; it’s showing us a disaster involving the actual moon in the sky, I’m pretty sure. I mean you don’t leave a crack across a star-eyed moon face and expect us not to think about astronomy. Indeed, in this same AGOT chapter, Othor’s frozen moon face gives us some great ice moon apocalypse foreshadowing as it tries to kill Jon: “Its face was against his own, filling the world. Frost covered its eyes, sparkling blue.” When the ice moon is “filling the world,” that’s a bad sign, I’m pretty sure. Sounds like a moon – or a moon meteor, falling like a blue star – rapidly getting closer to the world and filling up the sky. And this after getting slashed across the face with a sword.

You may recall that there’s a parallel scene to this one; it’s the scene with Sam fighting an ice wight, and the language is much the same: “The world shrank to two blue stars, a terrible crushing pain, and a cold so fierce that his tears froze over his eyes.” Small Paul’s face isn’t called a moon face here, but this quote reads like Jon’s does – as a description of blue stars getting closer and filling the sky. And like Jon, and most importantly, Sam sets the wight on fire. Notice rescuer Sam’s ice-eyes in this scene; it’s one I missed last time! Samwell Ice Eyes, the Slayer! He also has “puffs of frost exploding from his mouth,” which makes him sound like an Ice Dragon, breathing cold! Hat-tip to Archmaester Emma for that catch 🙂

Anyway, I’ve quoted a little snippet of this scene in the last episode because Small Paul has a snowbeard, but I’ve been saving this entire quote for just the right time. This will have the most impact if you’ve listened to Weirwood Compendium 4, “In a Grove of Ash.” If you haven’t, the basic idea here is that Melisandre speaks of Azor Ahai’s rebirth by saying “even an ember in the ashes can still ignite a great blaze,” and there are a whole series of scenes where an ember in the ashes of a fire is functioning as a symbol of Azor Ahai inside the weirwoodnet awaiting rebirth. Weirwoods are modeled after Yggdrasil of Norse myth, which was believed to be an Ash tree, so the idea of a fiery thing being “in the ashes” is also a clever bit of wordplay about a fiery person being inside an ash tree, which in ASOIAF means inside the weirwood.

With that said, here is Sam burning the wight:

His fumbling fingers finally found the dagger, but when he slammed it up into the wight’s belly the point skidded off the iron links, and the blade went spinning from Sam’s hand. Small Paul’s fingers tightened inexorably, and began to twist. He’s going to rip my head off, Sam thought in despair. His throat felt frozen, his lungs on fire. He punched and pulled at the wight’s wrists, to no avail. He kicked Paul between the legs, uselessly. The world shrank to two blue stars, a terrible crushing pain, and a cold so fierce that his tears froze over his eyes. Sam squirmed and pulled, desperate . . . and then he lurched forward.

Small Paul was big and powerful, but Sam still outweighed him, and the wights were clumsy, he had seen that on the Fist. The sudden shift sent Paul staggering back a step, and the living man and the dead one went crashing down together. The impact knocked one hand from Sam’s throat, and he was able to suck in a quick breath of air before the icy black fingers returned. The taste of blood filled his mouth. He twisted his neck around, looking for his knife, and saw a dull orange glow. The fire! Only ember and ashes remained, but still . . . he could not breathe, or think . . . Sam wrenched himself sideways, pulling Paul with him . . . his arms flailed against the dirt floor, groping, reaching, scattering the ashes, until at last they found something hot . . . a chunk of charred wood, smouldering red and orange within the black . . . his fingers closed around it, and he smashed it into Paul’s mouth, so hard he felt teeth shatter.

Yet even so the wight’s grip did not loosen. Sam’s last thoughts were for the mother who had loved him and the father he had failed. The longhall was spinning around him when he saw the wisp of smoke rising from between Paul’s broken teeth. Then the dead man’s face burst into flame, and the hands were gone.

Sam sucked in air, and rolled feebly away. The wight was burning, hoarfrost dripping from his beard as the flesh beneath blackened. Sam heard the raven shriek, but Paul himself made no sound. When his mouth opened, only flames came out. And his eyes . . . It’s gone, the blue glow is gone.

Both Sam and Jon’s wight-fighting  scenes also involve the same 1-2 sequence: Jon and Sam first stab the wight, ineffectively – Jon with his sword and Sam with his dragonglass knife – and then turn to fire as second, more effective weapon, with Sam even thinking and reaching for his knife as he grabs the ember to shove in Paul’s mouth. In my estimation, this is depicting the two strikes on the ice moon: the first bit of moon meteor shrapnel that would have hit the ice moon in the ancient past, and the more spectacular ice moon apocalypse to come. The charcoal Sam picks up, red and orange smouldering within the black, seems like a pretty terrific red comet symbol, and as I mentioned, the ember in the ashes motif is trademark re-birth of Azor Ahai language.

So in both scenes, we have a dead Night’s Watchmen, held prisoner by the blue ice magic of the Others – first Othor, and now Small Paul – and in both cases, they are set free by a heroic Night’s Watchmen wielding fire. Just as I said that Othor actually symbolizes Jon, the same is true for Small Paul here – again I’ll point out the “hoarfrost dripping from his beard” which makes him a snowbeard figure! As you recall from the Eldric Shadowchaser episode, all of the snowbeard figures have heavy parallels to Jon. Most importantly, the ember in the ashes does indeed spark a great blaze in Small Paul, and it represents the rebirth of Azor Ahai, as Melisandre says. Again we should think of Jon coming back to life as Azor Ahai reborn, emerging from his icy prison in a display of fire… but only when “the world shrinks to two blue stars,” or when a star-eyed moon face “fills the world.”

Thus we can see another layer of the Qarthine prophecy about the other moon one day kissing the sun too and the dragons returning: the moon meteor dragons will return, yes, but so will Jon, the ice dragon. After all, in terms of symbolism, these are parallel events.

This leaves is in the ultimate sweet spot for analyzing ASOIAF: the intersection of awesome world-building and the heart-in-conflict. The Blood of the Other series has been very personal so far, very much focused on the many characters who fit this “stolen Other” archetype, but now it’s led us to an episode about potential for an #IceMoonApocalypse. That’s about as far away from the heart in conflict as possible – we’re literally out in space, and talking about magical flying hunks of rock. But of course that’s the beauty of mythical astronomy – the flying hunks of magic space rock always parallel the humans and their hearts in conflict.

So here’s what we’ll do today: we’re going to look at the two most important symbols of the ice moon: Winterfell and the Wall. As we visit these places, we’ll be simultaneously comparing them to Jon and the ice moon. It’s the same thing we did when we went to the Wolf’s Den at White Harbor with Davos, and indeed, Winterfell and the Wolf’s Den have many parallels, as we’re about to see!


The Hell Locked in Winter


Jon is the epitome of the dragon locked in ice symbolized as a person, and Winterfell is the epitome of the dragon locked in ice as a place. It’s like the Wolf’s Den, only better – Winterfell being the wolf’s den of all wolf’s dens, naturally.  Just look at the place: Winterfell castle is a hunk of dark stone surrounded by white snow, and this image is mirrored in their sigil, a grey direwolf on an ice-white field. A direwolf locked in ice! You better believe it, and we’ll talk about the symbolism of the direwolves in a moment – but there’s actually extensive symbolism of a dragon locked in ice at Winterfell as well. Let’s talk about the “locked in” part first – that is, the prison symbolism.

Just as the Wolf’s Den is a prison, Winterfell is described as a “grey stone labyrinth,” language which implies the labyrinth of Greek mythology which was a prison for the Minotaur. Winterfell is also described as a “monstrous stone tree,” which implies the weirwoods, which are prisons and traps (weirs) for greenseers and whose bark turns to stone. Similarly, the Wolf’s Den is a prison too, and one with weirwood symbolism, such as the fact that it contains the castle godswood with its “fat and angry” heart tree, and the jailer in the prison itself is of course a twisted dude named Garth. Back in Winterfell, in ACOK, a now-crippled Bran sits at the window seat of his chambers and thinks

Bran preferred the hard stone of the window seat to the comforts of his featherbed and blankets. Abed, the walls pressed close and the ceiling hung heavy above him; abed, the room was his cell, and Winterfell his prison.

It’s not just Bran’s prison of course. Recall this famous line from Ned and Robert’s scene in the Winterfell crypts in AGOT:

By ancient custom an iron longsword had been laid across the lap of each who had been Lord of Winterfell, to keep the vengeful spirits in their crypts. The oldest had long ago rusted away to nothing, leaving only a few red stains where the metal had rested on stone. Ned wondered if that meant those ghosts were free to roam the castle now. He hoped not. The first Lords of Winterfell had been men hard as the land they ruled. In the centuries before the Dragonlords came over the sea, they had sworn allegiance to no man, styling themselves the Kings in the North.

You can take your pick as to who the Minotaur is – the vengeful spirits of the dead Kings of Winter, or the little crippled boy who just so happens to be the most powerful greenseer in god knows how long.  That question aside, you can see that Winterfell is definitely implied as a prison, just like the Wolf’s Den. Ultimately the both fortresses represent the hunk of dark fire moon rock imprisoned in the ice moon, and so are imprisoned themselves – the Wolf’s Den is surrounded by the newer city of White Harbor, and Winterfell is surrounded by miles and miles of frequently frozen north.

So that’s the “locked” part of the dragon locked in ice – the prison symbolism – how about the dragon symbolism? So glad you asked my friend, so glad you asked. It begins with thinking about the overall temperature of the Starks: are they ice people, or fire people? This question is addressed directly in Catelyn’s first chapter of AGOT when she and Ned discuss the hot springs, one of the very best bits of Winterfell symbolism:

Of all the rooms in Winterfell’s Great Keep, Catelyn’s bedchambers were the hottest. She seldom had to light a fire. The castle had been built over natural hot springs, and the scalding waters rushed through its walls and chambers like blood through a man’s body, driving the chill from the stone halls, filling the glass gardens with a moist warmth, keeping the earth from freezing. Open pools smoked day and night in a dozen small courtyards. That was a little thing, in summer; in winter, it was the difference between life and death.

Catelyn’s bath was always hot and steaming, and her walls warm to the touch. The warmth reminded her of Riverrun, of days in the sun with Lysa and Edmure, but Ned could never abide the heat. The Starks were made for the cold, he would tell her, and she would laugh and tell him in that case they had certainly built their castle in the wrong place.

Suddenly the familiar hot springs have a whole new layer of meaning to them, huh? Winterfell is not just a hunk of dark stone surrounded by miles and miles of snow, it’s a heated hunk of dark stone surrounded by miles and miles of snow, which is starting to sounds pretty “dragon-locked-in-ice.” Winterfell is presented to us as having a circulatory system, and we can’t fail to notice that it’s “driving the chill from the stone halls, like Davos and Devan Shadowchaser driving or chasing the shadows and the chill from their respective stone halls. Now according to the Blood of the Other theory, the Starks of Winterfell descend from this Eldric Shadowchaser figure who represents the stolen Other baby-turned-Stark, so this bit about the ‘bloodstream’ of Winterfell “driving the chill” away reads a lot like a metaphor for the ‘blood of Winterfell’ being that of Eldric Shadowchaser. Which it is!

Whether that’s an intentional metaphor or not, it’s really the theme and the function that’s important; for thousands of years, Winterfell has acted as a bulwark against the winter precisely because it has a source of heat. The Starks may be ‘made for the cold,’ as Ned says, but their real significance is that they occupy a castle that will stay warm and habitable even in the coldest of winters. That’s what’s so funny about Catelyn joking the Starks built their castle in the wrong place… it’s just the opposite.

I don’t think most people appreciate the fact that during a Westerosi winter, Winterfell is basically Siberia. It’s close to the equivalent of the arctic circle, much farther north than any part of Essos. Most of you have never seen forty foot snowdrifts, or even ten foot snowdrifts (although I do have a couple of patrons from Finland and Canada, so shout-out you guys, leave me a good forty-foot snowdrift story if you have one). Point being, those hot springs are the obvious reason why you’d want to build a castle there, and certainly are a main factor in the endurance of Winterfell and House Starks over the millennia. They’re “made for the cold” in that they were smart enough to build their castle over a network of hot springs!

In fact, it’s not just the hot springs; we know that the Starks are actually made to resist the cold on a deeper, more symbolic and magical level. The crown of the King of Winter speaks of the Stark mission, as you’ll recall from past episodes. We see this crown on Robb’s head in ACOK, and it’s specifically said to be made from bronze and iron because those metals are “dark and strong to fight the cold” (and shoutout to Tony Teflon who made me aware that copper and bronze actually get stronger the colder they get, so this business about being strong to fight the cold isn’t just poetry). The crown is surmounted by nine miniature black iron swords, which remind of the other black swords in the story – Valyrian steel swords such as Ned wields and dragonglass knives such as the Night’s Watch is supposed to wield. Thus we can see that the Starks are meant to fight the cold, just like the Night’s Watch, and they’re apparently supposed to do it with black swords and knives, just like the watch, whose ideal weapons are dragonglass and Valyrian steel. Think of Ned with Black Ice, Jon with Longclaw, our buddy Barth Blacksword, who also wielded Black Ice, the black iron swords in the laps of the stone Kings of Winter, and Ned’s six grey wraiths with shadowswords at the Tower of Joy, facing off against the snow white Kingsguard knights.

So here is the “icy” House Stark, living on a geothermal hotspot, an oasis of warmth amidst the cold, and they’re carrying on a tradition of black swords and fighting the cold and maintaining a millennia-old  alliance with the Night’s Watch, who fight the cold with dragonglass or, according to legend, dragonsteel. Winterfell itself is a hunk of dark grey stone surrounded by snow. and it’s warm to the touch. It has hot water like blood… which might make it a bloodstone, in the symbolic sense. I mean, that’s what it symbolizes anyway – an piece of ex-fire moon turned moon meteor, crash-landed in the snow. Imagine Winterfell as a meteor that got locked in ice, but which retains a heart of fire, like a sleeping dragon.

There’s a great quote from TWOIAF about the hot springs which brings up the topic of dragons, as it happens…

Hot springs such as the one beneath Winterfell have been shown to be heated by the furnaces of the world—the same fires that made the Fourteen Flames or the smoking mountain of Dragonstone. Yet the smallfolk of Winterfell and the winter town have been known to claim that the springs are heated by the breath of a dragon that sleeps beneath the castle. This is even more foolish than Mushroom’s claims and need not be given any consideration.

Man it’s almost like I saw that coming. Winterfell is compared to Valyria as a place with access to the furnaces of the world, and indeed, that’s quite true. Score one for Maesterly science! They figured out that hot springs and volcanoes are like geothermal cousins, good job maesters.

There’s almost certainly not an actual sleeping dragon beneath Winterfell, but it is true that if some ancient dragonlord had to pick a place to serve as an outpost or even a home in the north, they would pick Winterfell, absolutely. Maybe that’s what happened! Winterfell is a geothermal hot spot, and it even has caverns. This is what lends a scrap of credibility to the rumors of Vermax laying eggs at Winterfell while prince Jacaerys Targaryen parlayed with Cregan Stark during the Dance of the Dragons – it’s just the kind of place a pregnant dragon would find cozy, if it could find a way down there. The oldest part of Winterfell, the First Keep, even has gargoyles, like Dragonstone! It’s a total giveaway as a dragonlord type of place, ha ha. Seriously though – I do wonder about that. Gargoyles are extremely rare in Westeros, and they’re found here on the First Keep, the oldest part of the castle?

In any case, the smallfolk have served up quite the dragon locked in ice metaphor in the form of the rumors about a sleeping dragon warming the castle. That funny little folktale is a really terrific metaphor – the dragon is sleeping and radiating warmth amidst the frozen north. Winterfell has a circulatory system, and it’s blood is warmed by a dragon! It practically screams “blood of the dragon lives here.” More specifically, it’s said to be a “sleeping dragon” beneath Winterfell, and if he should ever wake…

He padded over dry needles and brown leaves, to the edge of the wood where the pines grew thin. Beyond the open fields he could see the great piles of man-rock stark against the swirling flames. The wind blew hot and rich with the smell of blood and burnt meat, so strong he began to slaver.

Yet as one smell drew them onward, others warned them back. He sniffed at the drifting smoke. Men, many men, many horses, and fire, fire, fire. No smell was more dangerous, not even the hard cold smell of iron, the stuff of man-claws and hardskin. The smoke and ash clouded his eyes, and in the sky he saw a great winged snake whose roar was a river of flame. He bared his teeth, but then the snake was gone. Behind the cliffs tall fires were eating up the stars.

All through the night the fires crackled, and once there was a great roar and a crash that made the earth jump under his feet.

Ha ha, hopefully you saw that one coming, and hopefully you also remember Osha saying “we made noise enough to wake a dragon” when they emerge from the crypts. In the lead-up to that quote, Winterfell is described as a shell, and quite frankly, it really does kinda sound like a dragon hatched from inside the First Keep (the one with the gargoyles):

The sky was a pale grey, and smoke eddied all around them. They stood in the shadow of the First Keep, or what remained of it. One whole side of the building had torn loose and fallen away. Stone and shattered gargoyles lay strewn across the yard. They fell just where I did, Bran thought when he saw them. Some of the gargoyles had broken into so many pieces it made him wonder how he was alive at all. Nearby some crows were pecking at a body crushed beneath the tumbled stone, but he lay facedown and Bran could not say who he was. The First Keep had not been used for many hundreds of years, but now it was more of a shell than ever. The floors had burned inside it, and all the beams.

It’s a burned out shell – and this is complemented by Jon calling in ADWD, who says “The castle is a shell,” and then “not Winterfell, but the ghost of Winterfell.” Theon calls the castle a shell too, and he does it while standing in the very spot Bran did in the last quote. Like Bran, Theon also remarks that “this is where Bran fell” and notices the shattered gargoyles, who are by then locked in ice and snow. Point being – calling Winterfell a shell over and over again sure seems to enhance all the talk about dragons and dragons eggs beneath Winterfell and the fiery winged serpent appearing to fly overhead when Winterfell is burned.

Now, Summer and Bran probably didn’t see a real dragon hatching from the First Keep (even though the line about making enough noise to wake a dragon sure is tantalizing). Nevertheless, I’m sure you can see what I’m driving at here in terms of symbolism: the dragon locked in ice must eventually break free, just as Jon must eventually be resurrected, and I think that is one of the things being depicted by all this Winterfell dragon and shell symbolism.

There’s also a clue about the Winterfell dragon becoming locked in the ice in the quotes we just referred to. As we’ve said in previous episodes like Tyrion Targaryen and A Burning Brandon, both fallen Bran and the fallen gargoyles (which have red, fiery eyes in Bran’s nightmare of climbing the First Keep) represent fallen fire moon meteors. Both are depicted as landing in ice – Theon sees the gargoyles covered in snow in the quote we just mentioned, and while Bran is in his coma nightmare, he’s falling towards icy spires which have other impaled dreamers on them. As I’ve said a few times now, I think that being inside the weirwoodnet or inside the dream realm is often made synonymous with being locked in ice (think of Jon’s spirit wandering the bardo while his cold body is temporarily dead, for example), so in that sense Bran was locked in ice after he fell and slipped into the coma.

In other words, both broken Bran and the broken gargoyles, lying at the foot of the First Keep, represent fire moon meteors locked in ice, and are in effect synonymous with the castle of Winterfell itself, a heated hunk of dark grey stone surrounded by the frozen north. That is one layer of the meaning of the famous last line of ACOK which compares broken Bran to broken Winterfell:

It was not dead, just broken. Like me, he thought. I’m not dead either.

So Bran’s fall shows us, symbolically, the Winterfell dragon becoming locked in ice, and the awakening of this dragon from the ice is symbolized by Bran awakening from his coma with his forehead burning from where the three-eyed crow had pecked it. In order to escape the coma, Bran even has to do a bit of dream-flying, just like a dragon breaking out of the ice (and again remember that he was flying to avoid impalement on the ice spires).

That was the beginning of the opening of Bran’s third eye, and I say it symbolically corresponds to the awakening of the Winterfell dragon. And guess what – the next step in Bran’s third eye opening is the scene where Bran skinchanges Summer and sees the “great winged snake whose roar was a river of flame” flying over Winterfell! Right after seeing it, he comes back to his broken Bran body in the crypts and it says “Here in the chill damp darkness of the tomb his third eye had finally opened.” In other words, we’re being shown that Bran’s third eye opening corresponds with the symbolic idea of the Winterfell dragon awakening in fire, and I think this is because the Winterfell dragon represents both Jon and Bran – Jon in a more literal sense, since he’s actually part Targaryen and needs actual resurrection, and Bran in a symbolic sense as the bearer of the fire of the gods opening his third eye.

In terms of R+L=J, most would agree that every clue about dragons sleeping beneath Winterfell or dragons laying eggs beneath Winterfell ultimately symbolizes Jon’s hidden dragon heritage, a secret whose reveal will surely involve some sort of freaky scene with Jon’s spirit finally completing his recurring crypts dream and reaching the lower levels of the crypts, where he will see the ghost of Edrick Snowbeard riding a dream dragon and playing Rhaegar’s harp while drinking spirit-mead from an eight foot horn graven with runes, or something equally stupendous. We’re all looking forward to that payoff, I know.

Speaking of Jon’s resurrection and rebirth and the Winterfell crypts, take note of the “Starks being born” symbolism in the following quote as Bran and Rickon emerge from the crypts with Hodor and Osha and Meera and Jojen after the burning of Wintefell. After Hodor opens the door, it says:

Osha poked her spear through and slid out after it, and Rickon squirmed through Meera’s legs to follow. Hodor shoved the door open all the way and stepped to the surface. The Reeds had to carry Bran up the last few steps.

Rickon squirms through Meera’s legs as though she had just given birth to him, and Bran has to be carried like a baby as they emerge from the crypts and back into the land of the living. Who would like to bet against Jon’s spirit making a visit to the crypts before he is reborn into the land of the living? The opening of this door to the crypts is what Osha refers to as having “made enough noise to wake a dragon,” and it happens while the birth of Starks is being depicted. This is a terrific way to foreshadow a dragon-Stark being born from the crypts, which can only refer to Jon’s resurrection. I mean, yikes – the opening of the door to the Stark crypts makes a noice to wake a dragon.

In terms of Blood of the Other theory, that Night’s King was a dragon-blooded person and that the Starks descend from one of his sons who wasn’t turned into a full Other, I’m sure you can see what’s happening here. All of the clues that imply a dragon under Winterfell which work as evidence for Jon’s dragonlord heritage can also seen to be working to tell the (hypothetical) truth about the Starks being “frozen dragonlords” by virtue of their descent from Night’s King and Queen. Perhaps that’s why Jon’s dragon blood secret is hidden in the crypts – it doesn’t just apply to Jon, but to all of House Stark. Winterfell and House Stark represent the dragon locked in ice, the fire inside the heart of the ice moon, just as they are an oasis of heat in the icy north. This truth is part of their fundamental nature, built into their castle and their symbolism from the first time we saw Ned cleaning a Valyrian steel sword amidst the hot pools of the godswood.

In terms of astronomy symbolism, the message of the Winterfell dragon symbolism is crystal clear: if Winterfell represents the ice moon, or more specifically the hunk of fiery stone trapped inside the ice moon, it’s very like a sleeping dragon waiting to explode in fire. It’s dark stone is like a shell containing a sleeping dragon… until it doesn’t. Ramsay Bolton is the one who set Winterfell on fire and “woke” the sleeping dragon, and of course Ramsay’s primary symbolism is that of Night’s King and Bloodstone Emperor… just the sort of guy to provoke a moon disaster.


The Firewolves of Winterhell


Another way that the fiery dragon heritage of House Stark is depicted as something that belongs to all of house Stark and not just Jon is through the direwolves, the sigil of their house. Why do I say that? Well, basically everything about the direwolves implies them as fiery hellhounds. My favorite example of this is the scene where Shaggy and Rickon hide in the crypts after Ned’s death, only to have Shaggy jump out, bite maester Luwin, and then fight with Summer. The line there was “Bran saw eyes like green fire, a flash of teeth, fur as black as the pit around them.” Cerberus, the original hellhound of Greek mythology, acts as a guardian of the underworld, as do all the stone direwolves that sit besides the stone kings of winter, and Shaggydog is basically bringing that symbolism to life in that scene.

In other words, I’m calling the direwolves hellhounds not only because not only because they tend to have eyes of fire, as we’re about to see, but because of the Cerberus role they play guarding the underworld alongside the Hades-like Kings of Winter in the crypts. The fact that George seems to have borrowed the three-headed aspect of Cerberus for the Targaryen three-headed dragon makes this connection even more intriguing. Said another way, both the direwolf of Stark and the three-headed dragon of Targaryen are symbolic offspring of Cerberus.

There are actually many comparison to be made between the crypts of Winterfell with their stone kings and the hidden chambers beneath the Red Keep with their dragon skulls – and Arya makes that comparison explicit when she’s lost beneath the Red Keep in the dragon skull room, as a matter of fact, but that’s a bit of a detour. Or, it can be fun homework: read a couple of the scenes down in the Winterfell crypts, then read Arya’s two chapters beneath the Red Keep in AGOT. Spiral staircases leading downward, dead things with eyes that follow you, and a lot of the same imagery and symbolism. Bottom line, they are both Hades-style underworld settings, once more highlighting the fact that the three headed dragon of Targaryen and the direwolf of Stark are both children of Cerberus.

As for that fiery wolf symbolism, well, take a look at the eyes of the direwolves, which are consistently described in fiery language. Ghost has eyes which are described variously as “hot red eyes,” “two great red suns,” and eyes that “glowed red and baleful.” Lady has “bright golden eyes,” and Shaggy has “eyes burning like green fire” and eyes that “were green fire.” Summer has “eyes smoldering like liquid gold,” and after making a kill, it says “his muzzle was wet and red, but his eyes burned.” Grey Wind has “eyes like molten gold,” and Theon’s nightmare of dead Robb and Grey Wind says “Grey Wind stalked beside, eyes burning, and man and wolf alike bled from half a hundred savage wounds.” Arya’s wolf Nymeria “had yellow eyes. When they caught the sunlight, they gleamed like two golden coins.” Golden coins are dragons in Westeros, so there’s a subtle suggestion of dragon eyes here.

So, the direwolves have eyes of fire, that’s well established. What goes well with fire? Smoke, of course, and in the case of the Long Night, darkness, and that’s what we see in the fur of the direwolves. Jon says in AGOT that, excepting Ghost, the other wolves “are all dark, grey or black” in terms of fur. Summer has fur like “silver smoke,” while Grey Wind is described as “smoke dark,” the same phrase used to describe Ned’s Ice. A “grey wind” is a smokey wind anyway, so both Valyrian steel and dark smoke is implied here. Getting darker still, we saw that Shaggy’s fur is “as black as the pit” when down in the crypts, which reminds us of Drogon being as black as night, and of the underworld realm in general (where you would expect to find “the pit,” right?) Another similarity to Drogon is found when Arya skinchanges Nymeria and leads the great wolfpack and calls herself “the Nightwolf.” Nymeria herself is described by a commoner in the Riverlands as “a she-wolf, a bitch from the seventh hell.”

So… eyes like fire, fur like smoke and darkness, guardians of hell symbolism – these aren’t dire-wolves, they’re fire-wolves! There’s nothing remotely icy or cold about them or their symbolism. Not even once! The cherry on top is Theon’s nightmare vision of Rickon and Bran merged with their direwolves like wolfish versions of Valyrian sphinxes:

Mercy, he sobbed. From behind came a shuddering howl that curdled his blood. Mercy, mercy. When he glanced back over his shoulder he saw them coming, great wolves the size of horses with the heads of small children. Oh, mercy, mercy. Blood dripped from their mouths black as pitch, burning holes in the snow where it fell. Every stride brought them closer. Theon tried to run faster, but his legs would not obey. The trees all had faces, and they were laughing at him, laughing, and the howl came again. He could smell the hot breath of the beasts behind him, a stink of brimstone and corruption. 

Burning black blood is something we see with Drogon and Melisandre and Beric, all creatures who are fire made flesh in a very real sense. The dream firewolves with heads of children also stink of brimstone, which is signature dragon language that compares very well to scenes with the dragons under the Great Pyramid of Meereen. I compared them to Valyrian sphinxes because Valyrian sphinxes have the bodies of dragons and the heads of people, in case you were wondering.

So, there you have it – it’s not just a matter of dragon symbolism hidden at Winterfell. We’ve got a whole pack of fiery hellhounds lurking about. They may be surrounded by snow and ice, but they are guarding the entrance to hell that is Winterfell. There’s a great line in AGOT which kind of sums this up:

Eddard Stark dreamed of a frozen hell reserved for the Starks of Winterfell.

The north is a frozen hell – Cersei famously tells Ned she’ll allow him to “live out your days in the grey waste you call home” if he will bend the knee to Joffrey, for example – but the wolves sent there are fiery ones. This is just another version of dragon locked in ice symbolism! Therefore, I would say that the fire-wolf symbolism simply augments the “Starks as frozen dragonlords” symbolism and shows that it’s not just Jon bringing the brimstone stink to Winterfell, but all of House Stark.

George would seem to be referencing Dante’s Inferno with this line, and also when he has Barristan say that “half the hells are made of flame” in ADWD, which implies that half of the hells are made of ice. An icy hell is exactly what Dante finds at the center of the ninth circle of hell – Cocytus, the frozen lake. And you are not going to believe who we find trapped in the ice at the center of this frozen lake, locked in the ice. That’s right, it’s none other that our buddy Lucifer, whom Dante has conflated with the devil. He’s depicted as a giant winged beast, and he is literally trapped waist-deep in the frozen lake. So perhaps we should say, “a frozen hell reserved for Starks, and Lucifer!” What does this say about the Starks, I wonder? Well, probably that they are descended of Azor Ahai and the Night’s King, the Lucifer figures of ASOIAF. This observation was made by our good friend and frequent contributor Ravenous Reader, and this is almost certainly the place where George first got the seeds for the concept of the dragon locked in ice, or at least we can say this detail from Dante’s Inferno was surely playing in George’s mind when he conceived the idea. Lucifer must of course be freed from the frozen lake for Armageddon, and similarly, Jon will be breaking out of the ice in time for the new Long Night.

So, from sleeping dragons to dragon eggs to hot springs like blood to fiery hellhound wolves and right down to the concept of a frozen hell to trap Lucifer, Winterfell is basically constructed as a demonstration of all the dragon-locked-in-ice symbolism. And it’s not just ‘dragon locked in ice’ and ‘firewolf locked in ice’ symbolism being depicted, but the reawakening of that sleeping monster, the minotaur that’s implied as being inside Winterfell’s “labyrinthine” walls. That story is told by Winterfell’s burning, when winged snakes and Burning Brandons emerge from the shell of Winterfell, and will be told again when Jon’s resurrection path loops through the Winterfell crypts as it surely must. As I mentioned at the top, it’s the same story told by Jon’s dream of a moon-faced, ice-wighted Ned Stark, exploding in a nimbus of flame like a burning wicker man.

You know what other story all of this symbolism tells? Why, that would be the impending moon disaster involving the ice moon, of course! The moon was an egg Khaleesi, but Winterfell is a broken shell from which dragons hatch… and oh, gosh, that matches the moon dragon myth pretty well. How’s the rest of that one go… “one day the other moon will kiss the sun too, and the dragons will return,” I believe it is.

As it happens, Winterfell is not the only ice moon place that seems destined to have some kind of dragon-awakening event.


The End of the World and We Know It


I’ve said many times that all ice moon symbols, be they persons, places, or things, contain dragon-locked-in-ice symbolism, and at the end of the Ned episode I mentioned that most ice moon people and places have symbolic hints about the impending ice moon disaster. This is because the impending ice moon disaster is akin to the dragon locked in ice awakening, and every place that shows the dragon locked in ice hints at an awakening… usually a violent or dramatic one.

We just saw it at Winterfell – George literally blew up the First Keep, had Bran see a fiery winged snake, and dropped in a line about making enough noise to wake a dragon when the Starks reemerge from the crypts. Who knows what else will happen at Winterfell before the story is complete? Stannis was going there with his Lightbringer, last time I checked. (Is he still stuck out there in the snow? I’ll have to ask BFish.)

Beyond the walls of Winterfell, one of the best and most direct symbols of the ice moon is the Heart of Winter. It’s the place that represents the promise of a new Long Night in Bran’s coma dream as he looks past the curtain of light and into the Heart of Winter, terrified, while Bloodraven whispers “now you know why you must live” in his ear. Symbolically, if not literally, this is where the Others come from, and we all know that a.) we haven’t seen anything close to a full-on invasion of the Others yet, and that b.) we can surely look forward to seeing it soon. An invasion of blue-star eyed Others is akin to an invasion of cold stars, which is basically what I am predicting will happen in the sky to kick off the new Long Night, so we’ll have actual cold falling stars that lead to an invasion of symbolic cold stars. Therefore we can say that the Heart of Winter, as a proper ice moon symbol, is clearly promising a symbolic meteor shower that will come with a long winter.

Then we have the Eyrie, a prominent ice moon symbol. The Eyrie an impregnable castle of white marble high up on a mountain which is holding a ton of frozen ice and snow…. but there’s some foreshadowing regarding that mountain, called the Giant’s Lance, which suggests an avalanche may be in the cards. We’ll talk about that more when we get to the Eyrie episode in the Moons of Ice and Fire episode, but here’s a sneak preview from a Catelyn chapter of AGOT:

The eastern sky was rose and gold as the sun broke over the Vale of Arryn. Catelyn Stark watched the light spread, her hands resting on the delicate carved stone of the balustrade outside her window. Below her the world turned from black to indigo to green as dawn crept across fields and forests. Pale white mists rose off Alyssa’s Tears, where the ghost waters plunged over the shoulder of the mountain to begin their long tumble down the face of the Giant’s Lance. Catelyn could feel the faint touch of spray on her face.

Alyssa Arryn had seen her husband, her brothers, and all her children slain, and yet in life she had never shed a tear. So in death, the gods had decreed that she would know no rest until her weeping watered the black earth of the Vale, where the men she had loved were buried. Alyssa had been dead six thousand years now, and still no drop of the torrent had ever reached the valley floor far below.

We’ve seen tears of blood represent the fire moon meteors, so it should not surprise you to hear me say that icy tears can symbolize ice moon meteors – think of the Wall being said to “weep” when it melts on a sunny day (the waterfall known as Alyssa’s tears actually does freeze in winter, as a matter of fact). On a basic level, if the moon can be seen as a face, then it makes sense to see things falling from the moon as tears. Accordingly, the cold tears that “tumble down the face” of the Giant’s Lance remind us of ice moon meteors symbols in this paragraph; namely, they remind us of the symbolic language used for the Others and the sword Dawn.

First of all, they’re ghostly ice moon meteors symbols, which make us think of the Others, and when it says “pale white mists rose” from the ghost waters of the Alyssa’s tears, we really thinking about the Others, especially Tormund Giantsbane’s line to Jon in ADWD:

“A man can fight the dead, but when their masters come, when the white mists rise up … how do you fight a mist, crow?” 

The Others are rising white mists and ghosts, we got that. In fact, behold this awesome clue about the Others I found AGOT that uses this same language:

The rising sun sent fingers of light through the pale white mists of dawn. A wide plain spread out beneath them, bare and brown, its flatness here and there relieved by long, low hummocks. Ned pointed them out to his king. “The barrows of the First Men.”

Robert frowned. “Have we ridden onto a graveyard?”

This passage seems to imply a connection between the Others and the most ancient First Men – and Barrow King in particular, who is like the deathly form of Garth the Green, whom Robert embodies. So it’s kind of like Robert walking on his own grave, in terms of archetypes, which Martin is obviously playing with here with Robert’s clueless “have we ridden onto a graveyard?” The other notable thing is the “pale white mists of dawn” language, which is yet another example of Others symbolism appearing alongside that of dawn. Of course, this whole scene with Cat observing the chilly ghost torrent of Alyssa’s tears occurs at dawn too, and of course I believe the explanation is that Dawn is the original Ice of House Stark, and was at some point “the Dawn of the Others,” meaning that it was possessed by Night’s King. If Night’s King ruled during the Long Night as I suggest, then he would have “stolen dawn” in the figurative sense of preventing the sun to rise, so it follows that he might have stolen Dawn the sword as well – at least, that’s the short version of that theory!

The best clue about Dawn in the scene with Cat observing Alyssa’s tears comes from the Alyssa’s tears being referred to as a “torrent” and then “ghost waters,” and another time in this same book they are called a “ghost torrent” – the Torrentine River is the one flows out to sea at Starfall, when Dawn resides, and since these icy tears of Alyssa’s are ice moon meteor symbols, as Dawn is, I tend to think the torrent language us no coincidence. You’ll recall the scene where Daenerys dreams of re-fighting the battle of the trident on dragonback, using dragonfire to melt ice-armored enemies who “turned the Trident into a torrent.” These ice-armored enemies melted by Dany’s dragonfire have always been taken to represent Others, so once again we have the association between ‘torrential’ waters and ice moon symbols, as we do with Alyssa’s tears. Why? Because Dawn is the original Ice! And because Dawn, the Others, and rivers that flow from melting ice are all ice moon meteor symbols.

The thing that tales all these ice moon meteor symbols and makes them foreboding is the prophecy aspect of the Alyssa legend: Alyssa’s ghost will know no rest until her waterfall hits the ground. What’s implied here is that one day, that might happen, that her tears might reach the ground. Meaning, one day ice moon meteors will reach the ground too, and then perhaps Night’s Queen can finally be content? Maybe all the ice moon wants is to get that damn black meteor out of it, right? Symbolism aside, the way in which Alyssa’s tears might actually reach the ground is if there is some kind of large avalanche, or if a streaking fireball melts all the snow on the mountain, just saying.

So, the Giant’s Lance might shed its snow and Alyssa’s ghost torrent may one day reach the ground; Winterfell is a shell for waking dragons, waking Jon Snows, and waking Burning Brandons; and the Heart of Winter is slowly, ever so slowly, preparing to unleash the Others on Westeros. And hey – nice Sept of Baelor you got there, all shining white marble and all… be a shame if something happened to it. Are you sure they removed all the old jars of wildfire from King Aerys’s day? I kid, but even if someone doesn’t blow it up as happens in the TV show, the idea of Warrior’s Sons pouring out of Baelor’s Sept works well to symbolize an invasion of Others. As we discussed in Moons 3: Visenya Draconis, the Warrior’s Sons, like the Kingsguard, serve as stand-ins for the Others, with their mirror-like armor, their “crystal sword in the darkness” sigil that replicates the look of an Other’s crystal sword in the darkness, and the crystal stars in the pommels of their actual swords which give them star-sword meteor symbolism to match the star-eyes of the Others. So here’s yet another ice moon place, promising a disastrous outpouring of crystalline star swords, and maybe even an actual big explosion.

With all that said, what do you think we’ll find at the Wall??? Dragon locked in ice symbolism perhaps, and maybe some hints about the moon blowing up? Well, let’s go on and have a look, shall we? The Wall is basically our master template for the ice moon, for obvious reasons: it’s huge, it just loves to glitter in the moonlight, it’s made of ice, and it has a knack for imprisoning dragons. The descriptions of it lay out the complete package of icy symbolism, and there are three symbols in particular we will focus on: ice dragons, ice swords, and icy or frozen rivers. All three of these symbols work to imply the ice moon as something that gives off icy moon meteors, and each add more specific associations as well: the ice dragon symbol evokes Jon and the dragon locked in ice, the white swords / ice sword symbol evokes both Dawn and the swords of the Others, and the frozen river symbol kind of suggests a possibility for flooding, in addition to referring back to the white knife / ice sword symbolism via the frozen White Knife River at White Harbor. When applied to the Wall, all of three of these symbols are ominous, as you would expect.

We’ll get to all that gloom and doom in due time, but let’s set that aside for a second and just enjoy the Wall while it still stands, you know? Live in the moment. We’ll start with basic descriptions of the Wall as they come to us in the books. Jon Snow’s first  chapter at the Wall in AGOT give us several fantastic descriptions of the Wall, such as this one:

As he stood outside the armory looking up, Jon felt almost as overwhelmed as he had that day on the kingsroad, when he’d seen it for the first time. The Wall was like that. Sometimes he could almost forget that it was there, the way you forgot about the sky or the earth underfoot, but there were other times when it seemed as if there was nothing else in the world. It was older than the Seven Kingdoms, and when he stood beneath it and looked up, it made Jon dizzy. He could feel the great weight of all that ice pressing down on him, as if it were about to topple, and somehow Jon knew that if it fell, the world fell with it.

Ooof. Like I said, Chekov’s Wall has got to fall, and I think the same might go for that ice moon. It may well be the reason the Wall falls, I suspect, and when that icy moon meteor falls through the sky, the world will “fall with it” in that it will signal the “last battle,” if you will, the Ragnarok or Armageddon of ASOIAF – the new Long Night. It won’t be the end of the world, but rather of a world age, where the world will be remade as Euron says in the Forsaken chapter. I especially how the ice disaster symbolism is made personal for Jon when it says “he could feel the great weight of all that ice pressing down on him,” as if he’d been buried beneath it. Bingo! Yet more dead-Jon-in-the-ice-cells foreshadowing, and great nod to the idea of the Wall being a tomb or prison for a dragon meteor man like Jon.

Besides Jon outright speculating about the Wall falling, notice that the Wall is compared to the sky, and then Jon thinks about it falling – I mean I don’t want to sound like Chicken Little or anything but.. I am warning of an impending meteor catastrophe, so yeah, guys! The sky is falling. 

But who knows, maybe I am just a doom and gloom type and I am misinterpreting things. Here’s another passage from that same Jon chapter:

The largest structure ever built by the hands of man, Benjen Stark had told Jon on the kingsroad when they had first caught sight of the Wall in the distance. “And beyond a doubt the most useless,” Tyrion Lannister had added with a grin, but even the Imp grew silent as they rode closer. You could see it from miles off, a pale blue line across the northern horizon, stretching away to the east and west and vanishing in the far distance, immense and unbroken. This is the end of the world, it seemed to say.

DAM-mit! The end of the world, it seemed to say? Well, we can’t say we weren’t warned – this is all in the first book so far. I like how it says “immense and unbroken,” and then “this is the end of the world,” as if to comment on how spectacularly unbroken the Wall is before suggesting it as the end of the world. Again, this is the same chapter in which he says that if the Wall ever fell, the world would fall with it.

Different chapter now, but still in AGOT, we have this gem, which comes as Jon pouts about being chosen for the stewards instead of the rangers:

Outside, Jon looked up at the Wall shining in the sun, the melting ice creeping down its side in a hundred thin fingers. Jon’s rage was such that he would have smashed it all in an instant, and the world be damned.

“Jon,” Samwell Tarly said excitedly. “Wait. Don’t you see what they’re doing?”

Yikes! Easy there Jonny boy! But I’ll ask you the same question Sam asked Jon: ‘don’t you see what George is doing?’ I mean if this is not foreshadowing, I don’t know what it looks like. It’s noteworthy that it’s Jon smashing the Wall here – think of resurrected Jon “hatching” for the Wall like a frozen dragon breaking out of its moon shell. The world will be damned when the other moon kisses the sun, as the Wall is doing here by shining and melting in the sun, but at least we’ll have Jon, hopefully with all his rage channeled in the right direction.

I also have to give two of my good friends and fellow YouTubers Azor Ahype and Secrets of the Citadel here a quick shoutout here, as their exploration of Ragnarok and ASOIAF clued me in to three things: the Wall seems a very close analog to the Bifrost Bridge; the black-clad Jon Snow with a burning red sword is very similar to the fire giant Sutr, who also wields a burning red sword; and finally that it is Sutr who breaks the Bifrost bridge with his fire sword when Ragnarok falls. I don’t think Jon will literally chop down the Wall with Longclaw of course, but I’ve been saying from the start that his resurrection will be linked to the Wall falling and this #IceMoonApocalypse I am talking about, which seems like Martin’s echo of Sutr destroying the Bifrost. In this last scene at least, Jon’s ready to smash it – if only he were a huge fire giant, we’d be in trouble.

But let’s forget about this whole prophecy of doom thing for just a moment and talk about the Wall itself and its descriptive language. Two quotes ago the Wall was described as a pale blue line across the northern horizon, and this next quote from ACOK gives us a healthy dose of Wall symbols:

Sam squinted up at the Wall. It loomed above them, an icy cliff seven hundred feet high. Sometimes it seemed to Jon almost a living thing, with moods of its own. The color of the ice was wont to change with every shift of the light. Now it was the deep blue of frozen rivers, now the dirty white of old snow, and when a cloud passed before the sun it darkened to the pale grey of pitted stone.

The Wall stretched east and west as far as the eye could see, so huge that it shrunk the timbered keeps and stone towers of the castle to insignificance. It was the end of the world.

You know, I was trying to be positive, I really was. But you have to admit, it does seem like the Wall spends a lot of time thinking about the end of the world. I mean, it’s right there in the text, don’t blame me. I look at scenes like this and I can’t help but think that one day the ‘other’ will moon will kiss the sun too and crack and the ice dragons will return, what can I say. Even worse, the very next paragraph mentions the red comet! It’s almost as if the sub-narrative is saying ‘look, the Wall is like the end of the world’ and ‘oh by the way did you notice the enormous comet the color of blood and fire, I wonder what could help the Wall end the world, I really have no idea.’

Now, I’m obviously having a lot of fun here with the end of the world stuff, but we actually do need to talk about the Wall itself, which in this scene is described as looking like pale stone, like snow, or like frozen rivers. Going in order, pale grey, pitted stone is a very lunar-sounding description, and it looks this way “when a cloud passed before the sun,” implying either a solar eclipse, or perhaps just clouds darkening the sun such as after a moon meteor impact. As for snow, well, snow is… snow. That’s kind of the crux of what all this is about – Jon Snow, and lots of snow falling from the sky, day after day, for years. Describing the Wall as looking like frozen rivers is as good as calling it a white knife, especially since we already know the Wall has sword and snake symbolism. We’ll see this symbolism again in a minute.

The last part of the quote I want to draw your attention is Jon thinking that the Wall is like a living thing, with changing moods. In ADWD, Jon reflects on this idea again, thinking:

The Wall has more moods than Mad King Aerys, they’d say, or sometimes, the Wall has more moods than a woman.” 

The latter comparison names the Wall a moody, icy woman, and that’s got our attention, as it certainly makes the Wall more moon-like. I don’t know about the moody part – I don’t really make a habit of calling women “moody,” myself – but of course thinking of the Wall as an icy woman simply reminds us of the Night’s Queen, with her cold, moon-pale flesh. She’s the only icy woman we know of, after all, and she just so happens to be compared to the moon! The very concept of an ice moon pretty much starts with Night’s Queen, so it makes sense to compare the Wall to her.

The first comparison, to Mad King Aerys, effectively names the Wall an icy version of a dragon, which… means ‘ice dragon.’ Comparing the Wall to Mad Aerys also kind of implies the Wall as an unstable and explosive ice dragon; the Mad King tried to blow up King’s Landing after all! Heck, it could be some of Aery’s overripe fruits which doom the Sept of Baelor, another ice moon location.

As you might recall, the Wall has been more directly associated with an ice dragon in several occasions, of course, and it’s certainly a major part of the overall Wall symbolism. We’ve already covered some of this in the Moons of Ice and Fire series, but think about the Wall’s ice dragon symbolism in the context of ice moon disaster potential. The Wall is a big, stationary thing, and not an obvious comp for an ice dragon, which flies and presumably destroys things on occasion. The idea that the Wall can be like an ice dragon makes a lot more sense when you think of the Wall as being analogous to the ice moon, which is the mother of ice dragon meteors. Indeed, the four quotes which compare the Wall to an ice dragon seem to tell the familiar story.

It’s also an ice dragon in the sense that it eats Jon, as the ice moon eats the black fire moon meteor.


Ice Dragon Food


There are a couple of time that Bran and Jon use the prominent blue star in the Ice Dragon constellation to find the way to the Wall, but it’s really the four quotes that make direct comparisons that are instructive – so let’s have Quinn read them to us! The first comes in a Jon chapter of ASOS as Jon and a few members of the Watch survey the damage inside the ice tunnel after the battle at Castle Black:

Jon nodded weakly. The door swung open. Pyp led them in, followed by Clydas and the lantern. It was all Jon could do to keep up with Maester Aemon. The ice pressed close around them, and he could feel the cold seeping into his bones, the weight of the Wall above his head. It felt like walking down the gullet of an ice dragon. The tunnel took a twist, and then another. Pyp unlocked a second iron gate. They walked farther, turned again, and saw light ahead, faint and pale through the ice. That’s bad, Jon knew at once. That’s very bad.

Then Pyp said, “There’s blood on the floor.”

So here is Jon’s death being clearly foreshadowed as he walks into the Wall and into the gullet of an ice dragon. The Wall seems to want to eat Jon! Symbolically, we can see this as the ice moon swallowing the black meteor man, Jon, with a huge cold mouth. The line about the cold seeping into his bones seems like an obvious reference to Bran’s visions of Jon, when he looked north and “saw the Wall shining like blue crystal, and his bastard brother Jon sleeping alone in a cold bed, his skin growing pale and hard as the memory of all warmth fled from him.” It also reminds us of Ned in the rain right before his fight with Jaime, where it says that “Ned was soaked through to the bone, and his soul had grown cold.” Then, just to reinforce the death imagery, they see blood on the floor, and Jon has a strong sense of foreboding.

Around the bend is Mag the mighty and Donal Noye and a few other dead Night’s Watchmen, which would seem to symbolize that struggle or battle inside the weirwoodnet that I have been picking up clues about. Setting that aside for another day, we can at least observe that Donal Noye is a valiant Night’s Watchmen who died and whose body is now inside the Wall – that’s probably the way Jon is headed too if his body is stored in the ice cell for a time. Donal’s name also contains the word “dawn,” so there is that. Don’t forget there is a Jonnel One-Eye Stark, which sort of combines Jon’s and Donal’s name with the Odin one-eye symbolism, which of course Jon already has. Donal Noye has one-arm, which is like his own version of the Odin symbolism mixed with symbolism of the moon explosion being like a hand burning or hand chopping… which Jon in turn echoes with his burned hand. Jon also lives in Donal Noye’s chambers after becoming Lord Commander, so, there’s a lot in common there, and all of that makes it easier to see Donal Noye’s body here as being another layer of death foreshadowing for Jon.

Check out the lines that come a couple of paragraphs later, which seem to depict Jon’s rebirth:

He needed sun then. It was too cold and dark inside the tunnel, and the stench of blood and death was suffocating. Jon gave the lantern back to Clydas, squeezed around the bodies and through the twisted bars, and walked toward the daylight to see what lay beyond the splintered door.

The huge carcass of a dead mammoth partially blocked the way. One of the beast’s tusks snagged his cloak and tore it as he edged past. Three more giants lay outside, half buried beneath stone and slush and hardened pitch. He could see where the fire had melted the Wall, where great sheets of ice had come sloughing off in the heat to shatter on the blackened ground. He looked up at where they’d come from. When you stand here it seems immense, as if it were about to crush you.

Oh boy, it’s yet more ice moon disaster symbolism – it’s about to crush us! Think about Jon emerging from the tunnel here as Jon being reborn from the ice, like the “dragon” hatching at Winterfell when it was burned; Jon walks out of the tunnel and sees where fire has melted the Wall and great sheets of ice have cracked off, almost as if his hatching had done that damage. It’s very similar to Bran and company coming out of the crypts and noticing that one side of the First Keep had collapsed in the fire. The resurrection language here is exceptional, with Jon “squeezing around the bodies and through the twisted bars,” depicting Jon as both escaping the grave and escaping a prison.. and escaping the belly of the ice dragon, of course. The splintered wooden door Jon walks through seems evocative of all the weirwood door symbolism, probably intended as a complement to the idea of Jon and his archetype being reborn from the weirwoodnet in some sense. In particular, the splintered wooden door would seem to imply Jon breaking out of the weirwoodnet, which is what Azor Ahai probably did, or still wants to do if he’s stuck in there.

Just to make the point clear, all this obvious death and resurrection-from-the-ice symbolism for Jon here comes alongside the language about the ice dragon-like Wall seeming as if it were about to crush you. Again I say this is a clue that Jon’s resurrection will coincide with the impending moon disaster, one which will probably topple the Wall as well. We’ll come back to this idea in the final section when we discuss Jon’s snow moon dream, so remember this last scene which seems so suggestive of Jon hatching from the Wall.

In ADWD, Jon busts out the ice dragon talk when he’s in that tunnel again: 

The road beneath the Wall was as dark and cold as the belly of an ice dragon and as twisty as a serpent. Dolorous Edd led them through with a torch in hand. Mully had the keys for the three gates, where bars of black iron as thick as a man’s arm closed off the passage.

As with the previous ice dragon quote, we once again see the comparison between being inside the Wall and being inside an ice dragon. It doesn’t get any more dragon-locked-in-ice than this; I mean we’ve got dragons and locks and ice, and Jon, all right here! I really hope people don’t play drinking games with the key phrases in my podcasts by the way, I definitely don’t encourage that. Moon meteor moon meteor moon meteor.

Kidding aside, you’ll also notice the black iron bars that are compared to a man’s arm are also locked in the ice… again implying the idea of people (or at least body parts) locked in the ice. More specifically, black iron arms remind of the black hands of wights like Coldhands, whose hands were “black and hard as iron, and cold as iron too” (shoutout to the Sacred Order of the Black Hand!) Finally, the ice tunnel being “twisty as a serpent” gives me an excuse to remind you that the underground tunnels beneath Castle Black which also run under the Wall are called “worm ways,” as if they have been made by fire wyrms. I really think it’s clear that Martin is showing us the idea of dragons and snakes and firewyrms under the ice of the Wall pretty strongly, just as we saw at Winterfell.

In fact, there’s even a similar “dragon’s egg beneath the Wall” rumor to the one at Winterfell, which comes to us in an idle musing from Sam:

There were dragons here two hundred years ago, Sam found himself thinking, as he watched the cage making a slow descent. They would just have flown to the top of the Wall. Queen Alysanne had visited Castle Black on her dragon, and Jaehaerys, her king, had come after her on his own. Could Silverwing have left an egg behind? Or had Stannis found one egg on Dragonstone? Even if he has an egg, how can he hope to quicken it? Baelor the Blessed had prayed over his eggs, and other Targaryens had sought to hatch theirs with sorcery. All they got for it was farce and tragedy.

So, there’s both the implication of a dragon’s egg somewhere here at the Wall and of someone hatching a dragon here at the Wall – Stannis, a dark Azor Ahai figure. Then there’s mention of Baelor the Blessed, whom you’ll recall has covert Night’s King symbolism by way of his Bael-related name, the symbolism of his wives and family, and his habit of locking ice moon maidens in towers.

Good Queen Alysanne has really good ice queen symbolism, by the way. Her name contains the names of other ice moon maidens such as Alyssa of Vale legend, Lysa Tully, Lyanna Stark, Alayne Stone, Alannys Harlaw (Theon’s mother), and probably one or two others that I forgot. Alysanne famously had a hand in closing the Nightfort, and even funded the building of a smaller, more manageable castle called “Deep Lake.” The Castle known as Snowgate was renamed Queensgate in her honor, implying her as a snow queen I’d say. According to an SSM (“So Spake Martin”) Alysanne’s appearance fits the bill, as he said that she had clear blue eyes and high cheekbones, and that in old age her hair turned white as snow. Her dragon, Silverwing, makes a pretty good ice dragon symbol, especially since she took it to the Wall. During the Dance of the Dragons, which happened after the death of Alysanne, Silverwing was claimed by Ulf the White, adding to the white dragon / ice dragon symbolism of Silverwing… who might have laid an egg here.

You’ll probably recall the next ice dragon quote, which is from Alys Karstark’s wedding, because we just quoted it a few episodes ago. That’s the scene at the Wall where Alys was called “Winter’s Lady” and played the role of a Night’s Queen figure, with the young magnar of Thenn as the Night’s King figure. The relevant ice dragon quote was: “the wind was blowing from the east along the Wall, cold as the breath of the ice dragon in the tales Old Nan used to tell,” and it made Melisandre’s fire shiver and huddle in its ditch. A Night’s Queen wedding represents her taking the seed and soul of Night’s King and turning his hot dragon fire cold, which is exactly what’s going on in this scene symbolically, and so it makes perfect sense to see the Wall breathing like an ice dragon here and making the fire shiver… it’s just like the Wall eating Jon and swallowing him down into its ice dragon gullet a moment ago.

Our last ice dragon / Wall quote shows us more about the dragon reawakening from the ice, and about things descending from the ice moon:

A sudden gust of wind set Edd’s cloak to flapping noisily. “Best go down, m’lord. This wind’s like to push us off the Wall, and I never did learn the knack of flying.”

They rode the winch lift back to the ground. The wind was gusting, cold as the breath of the ice dragon in the tales Old Nan had told when Jon was a boy. The heavy cage was swaying. From time to time it scraped against the Wall, starting small crystalline showers of ice that sparkled in the sunlight as they fell, like shards of broken glass.

Glass, Jon mused, might be of use here. Castle Black needs its own glass gardens, like the ones at Winterfell. We could grow vegetables even in the deep of winter.

After discussing the efficacy of flying down from the moon-wall like dragons, they instead ride down in the winch cage. It’s blowing about in the cold breath of the ice dragon wind, and when it collides with the Wall, it’s triggering “crystalline showers of ice” which are like “shards of broken glass” as they drink in the light of the sun. Showers of sparkling ice glass, being chipped off of an ice moon symbol like the Wall, in close proximity to Jon and ice dragon talk, well… you can’t expect me not to say “ice moon meteor shower” or to not think of Dawn, the pale as milkglass sword which I think was the original Ice. A storm of ice swords, as pale as milkglass.

Then, immediately after, Jon has ‘a dream of spring,’ if you will, as he imagines building a glass gardens enclosure similar to that of Winterfell so they can grow green things in the deep of winter, like a true Jack in the Green nourishing a bit of green life to flower again in the spring. I didn’t mention the glass gardens when we spoke of Winterfell, but the same Jack in the Green symbolism applies there as well. In the winter, the gardens are an oasis of green amidst the snowy north, a compliment to Winterfell’s hot springs which make it an oasis of warmth. I should also mention the real world king of winter tradition here – the little wicker man king of winter is supposed to be burned to help usher in the spring, and the same may be true of resurrected Jon, who is probably not long for this world. He may not live to see the spring, but he does dream of it and set it in motion.

So there you have it – as we’ve seen in these four quotes, the Wall’s ice dragon symbolism serves to equate it both with the idea of an ice moon that contains a dragon and the idea of meteor dragons coming from the ice moon. The icy sword symbolism that popped up a couple of times reinforces the suggestion of icy meteor dragons, and anything about icy swords or dragons coming from the moon ultimately implies some kind of ice moon meteor event.

In fact, our next batch of quotes about the Wall will lead us in the direction of icy swords, so let’s go there. We might get wet, though.


Icebringer


Here’s another great description of the Wall from that same Jon chapter of AGOT that we started with, one which dishes out some great ice sword and ice moon apocalypse symbolism. It’s also just a really nice example of the musicality of the cadence of Martin’s writing, which is one of the things I just love about ASOIAF:

By the time Jon left the armory, it was almost midday. The sun had broken through the clouds. He turned his back on it and lifted his eyes to the Wall, blazing blue and crystalline in the sunlight. Even after all these weeks, the sight of it still gave him the shivers. Centuries of windblown dirt had pocked and scoured it, covering it like a film, and it often seemed a pale grey, the color of an overcast sky … but when the sun caught it fair on a bright day, it shone, alive with light, a colossal blue- white cliff that filled up half the sky.

Filling up the sky is actually a bad thing for an ice moon symbol – that’s very like when Jon was battling the moon-faced Othor and it said “Its face was against his own, filling the world.” Here it’s “a colossal blue- white cliff that filled up half the sky,” and it’s shining “alive with light,” like Dawn. This makes my point about the ice sword symbolism of the Wall being used to imply the ice moon disaster – the Wall is compared to Dawn in the line in which it fills up half the sky, so imagine a white, icy sword filling up the sky… well you get the idea. Time to head down to the underground meteor shower shelt– oh wait, you don’t have a meteor shower shelter? Sounds like a real problem…

Returning to the quote, the icy brightness and burning ice motifs which we cataloged extensively in the Moons of Ice and Fire series are on central display here, with the Wall “blazing” blue in the sunlight. ‘Blazing’ is a word used for fire, yet it gives Jon the shivers, because a cold blue blaze is strongly evocative of the Others and their cold-burning blue star eyes. This is a cold blaze we are talking about here, and coming next to the ice Wall being “alive with light” like Dawn, it’s really suggestive. Not only does it suggest that Dawn, the alive with light sword, is the original Ice, it also seems to suggest that Dawn can indeed catch on fire and truly “blaze blue,” like the Wall does here, or like the swords in Jaime’s weirwood stump dream which burn with “silvery-blue flame.”

There’s another healthy dose of icy brightness in a quote from ACOK where Jon sees the Wall and it says “the sun was high in the sky, and the upper third of the Wall was a crystalline blue from below, reflecting so brilliantly that it hurt the eyes to look on it.” It’s blindingly bright, like the sun or like a flaming sword, and any time the Wall is described as crystalline, we should also think of the ice crystal swords of the Others.

There’s another possible likeness between the Wall and and ice swords: you’ll recall in one of the first quotes I gave you about the Wall, Jon and Tyrion were observing it from afar, and the Wall was described as “a pale blue line across the northern horizon.” Well, a moment ago, we read a quote about the Wall where it is compared to a frozen river and pitted grey stone and then called the end of the world, and I mentioned that the red comet comes up in the next paragraph as a suggestion of just how the Wall might help to end the world. Bearing in mind the ‘pale blue line’ description of the Wall, here is that reference to the red comet:

The morning sky was streaked by thin grey clouds, but the pale red line was there behind them. The black brothers had dubbed the wanderer Mormont’s Torch, saying (only half in jest) that the gods must have sent it to light the old man’s way through the haunted forest. “The comet’s so bright you can see it by day now,” Sam said, shading his eyes with a fistful of books.

Pale red line, meet pale blue line. Remember that the comet is really an ice and fire duality symbol, because it’s a flying piece of icy stone that looks to be on fire. You could look at it as burning ice, in other words, and thus it makes sense to compare it to the Wall, which is like an icy snake sword that blazes bright, alive with light. Meteors that burn up in the atmosphere usually appear bluish in color, so perhaps we’ll have lots of ‘pale blue lines’ in the sky.

Now let’s get to the good stuff. In this section and the next, we’re going to parsing just about every part of a certain Jon chapter in ADWD – Jon I, actually, which is the one that begins with Jon’s most elaborate wolf dream and includes him arguing with Stannis about manning the forts of the Wall and Melisandre’s infamous warning to Jon, which echoes in his head throughout the book leading up to his assassination:

You would do well to keep your wolf close beside you. Ice, I see, and daggers in the dark. Blood frozen red and hard, and naked steel. It was very cold.”

We’re going to start with Jon arguing with Stannis over the map, which begins a great series of parallel quotes which both compare the Wall to Lightbringer and imply a Lightbringer meteor striking the Wall. So Jon and Stannis are arguing over how to man the forts on the Wall as they stand over a map of Westeros, and Stannis draws his fake, cold Lightbringer to threaten and intimidate Jon, basically, and it says

The king laid his bright blade down on the map, along the Wall, its steel shimmering like sunlight on water.

There are two ways to interpret this, and they are not mutually exclusive. Laying the Lightbringer sword down on top of the Wall might simply show us that the Wall and the Lightbringer comet are parallel symbols, and in this sense we might see the entire Wall as the “sword in the darkness” which the Night’s Watch wield. The idea of Stannis’s “bright blade.. shimmering like sunlight,” but nevertheless giving off no heat, is a similar description to the Wall, bright and shimmering in the sunlight but obviously giving off no heat. Icy brightness, in other words. This would also be a match for Dan-as-the-original-Ice, which would in that case be a cold and bright sword… and of course I see Stannis wielding a cold bright sword as potential evidence for Night’s King wielding Dawn-the-original-Ice.

Now the other way we could interpret Stannis laying his Lightbringer down along the Wall is more apocalyptic: we could also see it as a depiction of a Lightbringer meteor smashing into the Wall. Stannis is a Night’s King / dark solar king figure, so he’s the right sort of guy to slam a Lightbringer into an ice moon symbol. This seems a great callout to Sutr, with Stannis as Sutr. The map-sized Westeros below them creates the image of Stannis as a giant too, like Sutr, with a sword that can span the continent. In ASOIAF, of course, the only swords that big are the meteor kind.

Stannis also “drummed his fingers on the map” in this conversation, those words exactly, and he does it again later in ADWD when he and Jon are again talking over the map. When a dark Azor Ahai uses his hand to drum the land… well you get the idea. Boom DOOM. Boom DOOM. Together with the sword placed over the Wall on the map, it’s pretty ominous.

It reminds me a lot of the scene where Stannis does actually draw Lightbringer at the Wall in front of the defeated wildlings:

Stannis Baratheon drew Lightbringer.

The sword glowed red and yellow and orange, alive with light. Jon had seen the show before … but not like this, never before like this. Lightbringer was the sun made steel. When Stannis raised the blade above his head, men had to turn their heads or cover their eyes. Horses shied, and one threw his rider. The blaze in the fire pit seemed to shrink before this storm of light, like a small dog cowering before a larger one. The Wall itself turned red and pink and orange, as waves of color danced across the ice. Is this the power of king’s blood?

The Wall is lighting up just like Stannis’s sword – which, again is a Lightbringer that produces no heat, as its storm of light is entirely Melisandre’s glamour and not the result of wildfire or any other sort of fire in this scene. The ‘alive with light’ descriptor again reminds us of Dawn, another luminescent sword that gives off no heat and which is obviously the original Ice of House Stark.

As with the map scene, it’s hard to say whether this scene is simply Stannis showing us that the Wall is like a cold, alive with light sword, or that a real meteor sword is destined to light the Wall up with actual fire. Either way, it’s very similar to Stannis laying his Lightbringer on the map across the Wall, its steel shimmering like sunlight on water.

Sunlight on water... kind of sounds like a flood is coming from the Wall when the sword strikes it, perhaps.  When Stannis drew his sword at the Wall, it sayswaves of color danced across the ice,” so again we have the suggestion of melting water coming from the Wall when the shining sword is nearby. In that same scene where Stannis lays Lightbringer across the Wall on the map, it also says

The map lay between them like a battleground, drenched by the colors of the glowing sword.

Drenched, you say? Very interesting, very interesting. Sounds like we’ll need some boats or something. There’s also that second scene with Jon and Stannis talking over this map, and in that scene we get these lines:

Jon moved the map. Candles had been placed at its corners to keep it from rolling up. A finger of warm wax was puddling out across the Bay of Seals, slow as a glacier.

The Wall certainly looks like the edge of a glacier – one with a very sharp edge, granted – and here we see a glacier oozing out of the north like an icy tide. Again… it’s ominous, and speaks of a cold flood coming from the Wall. What is really cool is that when Jon sees an actual glacier, he mistakes it for the Wall for a moment. This is Jon’s vision through the eyes of Ghost during his journey into the Frostfangs with Qhorin Halfhand:

A vast blue-white wall plugged one end of the vale, squeezing between the mountains as if it had shouldered them aside, and for a moment he thought he had dreamed himself back to Castle Black. Then he realized he was looking at a river of ice several thousand feet high. Under that glittering cold cliff was a great lake, its deep cobalt waters reflecting the snowcapped peaks that ringed it.

Not only is this glacier compared to the Wall, it’s also called a frozen river of ice, just as the Wall is. And although the lake beneath the glacier is really at the foot of the glacier, the wording makes it sound like the lake is under the glacier, giving us the familiar “frozen pond” motif. It was first defined by the Others first appearance in the AGOT prologue, where we saw that the ice armor of the Others is reflective like a mirror, and the reflected images of their surroundings “ran like moonlight on water with every step it took.” But of course that armor is made out of ice, so really we are talking abut a frozen pond. Also in the prologue, their speech is described as being “like the cracking of ice on a winter lake.”

Now although the Wall doesn’t have water inside like a trapped lake, it is of course a big piece of frozen water, and if it is hit by a meteor or comet, most it would actually vaporize or melt and we would indeed get a flood. The cracking of the Ice of the Wall will also lead to an invasion of Others, so we can actually see that in a way, the cracking ice of a winter lake voices of the Others, combined with their frozen pond symbolism, foreshadows the cracking of the Wall, which is like a frozen river.

The Milkwater River – something of a symbolic twin to the sometimes-frozen White Knife River – also shows us the frozen pond symbolism at times, or at least a tributary stream of it does:

At the bottom of the slope they came upon a little stream flowing down from the foothills to join the Milkwater. It looked all stones and glass, though they could hear the sound of water running beneath the frozen surface. Rattleshirt led them across, shattering the thin crust of ice.

Stones and glass and ice are an interesting combination; Dawn is pale as milkglass, and made from a pale stone… and was once the original Ice, as we all known for an absolute fact. chuckles Compare that to the phraseology here – a milk-water river of stone and glass and ice versus an icy white sword made from a pale stone that looks like milkglass. Again, it’s very similar to the White Knife freezing hard when Brandon Ice-Eyes Stark comes to town – frozen rivers keep reminding us of Dawn. The Wall, of course, is called a frozen river and is described with the same language as Dawn.

And now I will unveil a quote about the Milkwater River that I have been saving for something like two years (yeah, I have been storing up notes in preparation to write about the Others for that long):

The world was grey darkness, smelling of pine and moss and cold. Pale mists rose from the black earth as the riders threaded their way through the scatter of stones and scraggly trees, down toward the welcoming fires strewn like jewels across the floor of the river valley below. There were more fires than Jon Snow could count, hundreds of fires, thousands, a second river of flickery lights along the banks of the icy white Milkwater. The fingers of his sword hand opened and closed.

The recurring line about Jon’s sword hand is the clue that tips us off as to what these two parallel rivers symbolize: swords. The icy-white milkwater is a great analog for Dawn and the Wall, as we just saw, and alongside it is a second river – thousands of flickery lights that look like fiery jewels against the surrounding darkness. That’s our dark lightbringer – darkness punctuated by flame. It’s laid out next to its opposite, the icy white Milkwater. They are ready to fight!

Just as we’ve seen the White Knife and Milkwater symbolize Dawn a few times now, we’ve seen on man occasions that the Blackwater Rush symbolize the burning black sword I theorize Azor Ahai to have forged from a black moon meteor, the one from the Bloodstone Emperor myth. As I’ve already pointed out, the name “Blackwater” seems to allude to the “waves of blood and night” which are seen in the folds of Oathkeeper and Widows Wail. The Blackwater Rush flows from the Gods Eye, which I believe symbolizes the moon / sun eclipse conjunction that seems to have happened when the Long Night explosion occurred, and thus it makes sense to see the Blackwater Rush as representing those waves of darkness and night that emanate from the moon explosion. Then when Rhaegar and Lyanna absconded to conceive Jon, the Blackwater Rush froze over, giving us the black ice symbol that comes from Ned’s black sword named Ice, which is now Oathkeeper and Widow’s Wail with the waves of night. Finally, we know that Tyrion sets the Blackwater Rush on fire at the Battle of the Blackwater, whereupon it becomes the mouth of hell. Ergo, the Blackwater seems an embodiment of the dark Lightbringer burning black sword symbolism, a perfect opposite to the Milkwater and White Knife rivers.

To briefly sum up this Icebringer section, I’ll simply that I believe the obvious reason to bring rivers of various kinds into the swords and meteors line of symbolism is to describe the water-based effects of the meteor attacks, old and new. The first one brought figurative waves of darkness and then literal tidal waves in that darkness, so “waves of night” is a sensible thing to include in Lightbringer’s symbolism – plus all the delightful moon blood wordplay. The meteor attack to come, involving the ice moon, seems destined to break the Wall and melt a whole lot of ice, causing rivers of ice to flow. The Wall is like an ice sword, so when a moon meteor comes streaking down to collide with it, it will be like the clashing of two swords, and with the breaking of those swords will come a bit of a splash.

The other way frozen rivers and lakes play into this is more metaphorical, and has to do with the idea of plunging through an icy lake to represent a certain kind of death transformation, as well as the icy-lake-cracking voices of the Others.


A Shock of Cold


Next up, we have an absolute gem of a scene which showcases a ton of frozen stream symbolism, icy moon symbolism, dawn symbolism, ice sword symbolism, and Jon death and rebirth symbolism. Oh and there’s something about the Wall falling, naturally. That would be the scene where Jon and Qhorin ride through a waterfall and into a mountain cave to try to evade the Wildlings and Orell’s eagle. Before they get to the cave, they light one of those ground zero bonfires we looking at in “In a Grove of Ash:”