Campbell believed that in the modern world the function served by formal, traditional mythological systems has been taken on by individual creators such as artists and philosophers. In the works of some of his favorites, such as Thomas Mann, Pablo Picasso, and James Joyce, he saw mythological themes that could serve the same life-giving purpose that mythology had once played.

– Wikipedia entry on Joesph Campell; central thesis of Masks of God: Creative Mythology

George R. R. Martin is Writing Modern Mythology

The premise of my essays is that George R. R. Martin is writing A Song of Ice and Fire as modern mythology, and therefore can be analyzed in the same way that world mythology can be analyzed. Almost all world mythology is based on astronomy and nature, and the legends of A Song of Ice and Fire are no different.  This is basically the simplest expression of what I have learned through intense research and scrutiny of the novels.

To be more specific, I make the following assertions:

The in-world myths of Planetos (such as the legends of Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa, the Grey King and the Drowned God, Durran Godsgrief and Elenei, the Night’s King, the Last Hero, Garth the Green, etc.) are all describing astronomical events and significant natural phenomena, such as floods, earthquakes, meteor strikes, volcanoes, etc.  That does not mean they do not contain other meaning or other truths, or that some of these figures may have actually existed – but on some level, all of these myths describe natural & celestial events which occurred in the ancient past.

When you consider that almost all magic in A Song of Ice and Fire takes the form of magically personified natural forces – ice demons that come with winter winds and the Long Night, dragons that are fire made flesh, the weirwood tree / greenseer magic – it makes even more sense that the in-world mythologies are based on nature and astronomy.

These in-world myths of ASOIAF are highly symbolic, and can be analyzed by applying the traditional meanings associated with various symbols in real-world mythology.  George has specifically drawn from certain mythologies, such as Norse, Greek, Chinese and Egyptian myth, Arthurian legend, Christianity, Mithraism and Gnosticism – these are more or less confirmed or generally accepted as influences, and there are no doubt other mythologies which George has drawn from as well.  In general, George is using these symbols in the same ways that they are used in real-world myth, which encourages readers to study the myths from which he seems to be drawing to gain a deeper understanding of the context in which these symbols are being used.  By doing so, George is speaking in a language which has been utilized by man for thousands of years and participating in a grand literary and cultural tradition.  The language of mythology is symbolism.

In addition to the in-world legends being written as symbolic myth, the main action of the story is often written the same way.  This is the most significant piece of information in this podcast, the most important thing to understand about the way I think George is writing his books: the main action of the story is written as mythology, in the language of symbolism, and can also be analyzed like mythology.  Creating realistic background lore for his universe is one thing , but recreating those myths in the main action of the book is the truly amazing feat of creativity here. The main pattern of the astronomy theory on which this page is founded is that of the sun destroying the moon with a comet, followed by that moon raining down meteors on Planetos to cause the Long Night.  All of my essays will highlight sections of the text which I believe are written as metaphors depicting some version of this ‘sun-kill-moon’ scenario.  At first, I was not sure if I was hallucinating when I found the first few instances of sun-kill-moon metaphors.  A year and a half later, I have discovered half a hundred of these metaphors (or close enough as makes no matter 😉 ).  I can say with absolute confidence, more than any other assertion in any of my essays, that George is in fact writing large sections of the text in many chapters of every book, including TWOIAF and the Dunk and Egg novels, as extended metaphors depicting this basic astronomy pattern.

This use of symbolism in the main text is not limited to astronomy, of course. Perhaps one the most well know examples of a scene which serves as an extended metaphor is Sansa’s snow castle scene, which relates information through symbolism about Sansa herself, her past, her future, important events relative to her arc, etc. A great analysis of this can be found here, which was done by forum user Ragnorak in association with the Pawn to Player project.  My own research focuses on the astronomical metaphors, but his use of symbolism and metaphor is essentially ubiquitous.  This is why his text bears the level of scrutiny that it has received in the two decades that the books have existed. This is also one of the reasons, in all likelihood, why it takes him several years to write a book.  I’ll list a few other essays doing symbolic analysis of complex metaphor in the main text, some of which inspired me to give it a try:

  • An analysis of Jon Snow as Mithras by forum user Schmendrick. This is one of the all time great works of the forums, and was a big inspiration to me before I started. You can blame him for my lengthy style of analysis.
  • An analysis of Stannis as Agamemnon, by forum user Risto, which also has a terrific introduction discussing the way in which George draws from many myths and influences without entirely recreating any of them. Very important context given here, and a terrific essay.
  • An entire series of incredible essays analyzing Arthurian parallels in ASOIAF by Radio Westeros’s Lady Gwynhyfvar.  These will keep you busy for while, and after you write Lady Gwyn a nice thank you note, you can thank me for sending you here.  😉
  • An examination of the Tower of Joy in light of the Celtic myth behind Arthurian legend by forum user King Monkey.  The proper title is “Eddard in Wonderland,” so you know you have to read it.  Getting behind the Arthurian stories to the underlying Celtic myth – very cool.
  • A symbolic analysis of blood in ASOIAF by forum user evita mgfs.  Evita really has a great understanding of symbolism; I learned quite a lot about all the various implications of blood, as well things which can represent it symbolically.  Some of the stuff she’s drawn out of ASOIAF is really impressive.

George has created mythological archetypes for his own world based on the basic celestial events of the sun-kill-moon = Long Night scenario.  Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa are the most famous ones, whose archetypal roles are based on the sun and the moon.  There is also much talk about just what it means for someone to be “Azor Ahai reborn.”  What I believe it means is that Jon Snow or Daenerys or anyone else may be stepping into the role of Azor Ahai to some extent, stepping into Azor Ahai’s “ASOIAF archetype,” that of the solar dragon king.  These archetypes are like repeating patterns – there are many solar kings who take two wives, literally, and many more scenes where various characters do the same symbolically.  Thus, we arrive at the second-most important premise of my approach to ASOIAF analysis:

All the important characters in the main story are acting out the actions of their corresponding ASOIAF archetypes from the Dawn Age.  Whenever someone has a flaming sword, such as Beric or Stannis, or Jon in his dream of a wielding a burning red sword, you can be sure that they are playing the role of Azor Ahai in a metaphorical scene.  Whenever anyone puts on an antlered helm, such as Robert or Renly, you can be sure that they are acting out some important bit of Garth the Green lore, or Sacred Order of Green Men lore (the two being interconnected).  When Robb is crowned as the King in the North, he’s actually giving us information about the original King of Winter (read Catelyn’s first chapter of ACOK – wow!)  These are the obvious ones, but there are a few more along these lines.

Important note: most characters seem to have two archetypes, and shift or transform between them in various scenes or throughout the book, a fascinating topic in its own right.  Dany, for example, starts out as a moon mother who gives birth to dragons, but then becomes a Lightbringer-wielding solar king her own right, the last dragon (the dragons are Dany’s manifestation of Lightbringer).  Stannis bears the trappings of Azor Ahai, but many people have identified him as resembling the Night’s King (they are correct, in my opinion).

Because George is using these archetypes consistently, and because he is using the characters in the main story to give us information about the characters and events of the Dawn Age and Long Night, it can therefore be asserted that..

The broad strokes of the important events of the Dawn Age can be determined by analyzing the in-world legends and main action of ASOIAF using the methods laid out above.  This is one of the central aims of my series of essays.  And because we are currently still dealing with the unresolved issue of the first Long Night, and because characters and events seem to be being replayed in some form, I also assert that:

We can learn about the potential paths which our main characters must walk to restore harmony to the Song of Ice and Fire.  I am not big into predictions, it must be said – that is not the focus of my work.  But if we can learn about what it means to play the role of Azor Ahai, then we might begin to get an idea of what that could mean for Jon and Dany and anyone else who may be paying some part of that role.  At the least, we will gain important context to their future choices and actions, so that when they make them, we will have a better understanding of what they are doing and what the implications might be.

It is, after all, all about the charters and their conflict of the heart.


The specific methods of analysis I will be applying to A Song of Ice and Fire are as follows (definitions from wikipedia):

Comparative Mythology – the comparison of myths from different cultures in an attempt to identify shared themes and characteristics.

Archeoastronomy – the study of how people in the past “have understood the phenomena in the sky, how they used these phenomena and what role the sky played in their cultures.” Archaeoastronomy considers symbolically rich cultural interpretations of phenomena in the sky by other cultures.

Etiology – the study of causation, or origination. An etiological myth, or origin myth, is a myth intended to explain the origins of cult practices, natural phenomena, proper names, etc.

Cosmology – the study of the origin, evolution, and eventual fate of the universe. Religious or mythological cosmology is a body of beliefs based on mythological, religious, and esoteric literature and traditions of creation and eschatology. Another motive for studying the sky is to understand and explain the universe. Myth was a tool for achieving this and the explanations, while not reflecting the standards of modern science, are cosmologies.


Comparative Mythology Based on Astronomy

I am not going to go into further detail for all four of these disciplines, as they really all dovetail into comparative mythology for our purposes here.  In a nutshell, comparative mythology strips down mythologies to their fundamental aspects, themes, and symbols, and then compares them one to another to see if they might be telling the same story.

Myths which function as cosmologies are really what we are discussing here.  The very first myths and legends were ancient man’s way on understanding the world in which he lived.  Knowledge of your environment is of course fundamental to the hunter-gatherer way of life, and continue to be so through man’s shift into farming and sedentary life. It was this knowledge which became encoded in mythologies, which in turn functioned as a cosmology for the people who carry on the myth.

When one takes into account that most if not all world mythology has a basis in human observation and interaction with astronomy and nature, it becomes even easier to identify the commonalities.  The most common universal archetypes include the world tree (axis mundi), the dying god, the mother goddess, the creative sacrifice, the ocean of chaos serpent, the Horned God, the Morningstar deity, the hero’s journey, and several others.

The list of gods and goddesses who die in the fall and resurrect with the spring, or who are trapped in the underworld for the same period of time, is a very long list indeed.  This is of course a simple way of understanding the cycle of the seasons – the sun grows weak for a few months, everything gets cold, the plants die, etc.  Then the sun comes back strong again, the earth warms, and the plants begin to grow.  There are countless variations of this idea, but they all relate to the cycle of the seasons.

Everywhere you go, comets are described as snakes and dragons.  From Chinese mythology to Mithraism and Zoroastrianism; Greek mythology, Vedic mythology, and Mesoamerican myth- it’s the same story.  Dragons fly through the air breathing fire, and bring devastation and often flooding (think of the many sea dragon / ocean of chaos serpent myths) – so it’s easy to see the similarity to a flaming meteor or comet.  On the American continents we Quetzalcoatl, the plumed serpent of Aztec myth (and his Mayan equivalent Kulkulkan), who is identified with the Morningstar (Venus) as well as comets.  He has a “smokey star eye” and is associated with obsidian mirrors and knives, interestingly.  On the other side of the world on the Indian subcontinent, we look in the ancient pages of the Bhagavata Purana, where we learn of Kalki, “the Fulfiller.”  We read that “In the twighlight of this age, when all kings will be thieves, the Lord of the Universe will be born as Kalki.” Kalki will come “riding on a white horse and holding a sword blazing like a comet,” as he destroys the evildoers and punishes the world – although he does comfort the ‘virtuous .’ From the ashes of the world’s destruction, “a new mankind will arise.”  Quetzalcoatl is also associated with the death of one world age and birth of the next. Flaming comet swords, a reborn Morningstar who remakes the world in terrible fashion – the reason these ideas remind you of Azor Ahai is because George is drawing from well established mythological precedent.

Jesus Christ of the Christian Bible is associated with ushering in a new world age though his death and resurrection.  He’s also associated with a comet (the wandering star which the wise men followed) as well as the Morningstar (a title he is given many time in the New Testament).  In fact, Jesus has all the hallmarks of classic Morningstar deity, just like Quetzalcoatl and Kalki, Osiris, Phaethon, Ishtar / Inanna, Tammuz, and the older (pre-New Testament) ideas of Lucifer.  Joseph Campbell concerning Jesus as a Morningstar deity, from The Masks of God:

“It is clear that, whether accurate or not as to biographical detail, the moving legend of the Crucified and Risen Christ was fit to bring a new warmth, immediacy, and humanity, to the old motifs of the beloved Tammuz, Adonis, and Osiris cycles.”

Joseph Campell is the most well known person associated with comparative mythology, for his seminal works The Power of Myth and Hero With a Thousand Faces, as well as many other books and countless lectures.  He is famous for a concept called the “Monomyth,” which can either be used generically to refer to archetypes and myth structures which are repeated across large parts of the globe, or to the specific monomyth which Campell referred to as “the Hero’s Journey,” which he saw as the fundamental universal mythological archetype.

Comparative mythology is often used to attempt to trace patterns of cultural transference. If two separate peoples have a similar myth, down to specific identifying details or characteristics, a common ancestor or source can be potentially be inferred. Much debate occurs around this, of course. Some tend to see the common, recurring mythological archetypes as the result of a common ancestor, including some who think all myth must go back to one civilization such as Atlantis or some similarly vanished culture of advanced knowledge and learning. Others tend to look to Jungian concept of the collective unconscious, and / or see independent invention of motifs and themes which are themselves ubiquitous in human society.  I tend to strike a middle ground myself, as do most scholars – sometimes it’s cultural transference, and sometimes it’s just two different cultures making myths about the cycles of the seasons and arriving at similar stories.  I’m holding out for evidence of Atlantis, but I am not searching for knowledge of my past life there, if you know what I mean. 😉

The flood myth is the most well-known example of a monomyth which almost certainly points to real meteorological events: the period of intense global flooding during the meltdown of the recent Ice Age (which we are still technically emerging from).  It’s conservatively estimated that global sea levels rose as much as 300 feet or more during this period, approximately 13,000 – 7,000 BCE, and much of this sea level rise came in concentrated bursts, which indicate massive glacial meltwater flooding (this idea is corroborated by other evidence).  The flood myths which are nearly ubiquitous in world myth must surely date back to this time.  This is more or less what the Long Night is to ASOIAF – a global catastrophe which affected the lives of everyone, everywhere, and which gave rise to a variety of myths describing it’s various catastrophic effects.

Comparative mythology is what leads me to connect the story of the Grey King to the story of Durran Godsgrief, and the Hammer of the Wayers, as well as that of the Bloodstone Emperor.  All three stories tell of stealing something divine from heaven – fire, in one story, the daughter of the wind and sea goddess in another, and a black stone of magical powers / casting down the true gods in the third – always followed by incredibly destructive weather.   I’ve attempted to show that all of these ideas describe a piece of moon falling from heaven and causing catastrophes.  The Bloodstone Emperor challenged the gods and drew magical power from  the black meteorite that he worshipped, and was remembered as having caused the Long Night by doing so.  The Storm God’s thunderbolt and the island drowning sea dragon of the Grey King legend are both excellent descriptions of falling meteors, and both enabled the Grey King to posses the fire of the gods after challenging or slaying them.

In Durran’s tale, I would assert that the daughter of the wind and sea gods who is stolen from heaven is also symbolic of a fallen star, in particular one which falls into the sea.  After Durran Godsfgrief steals the goddess Elenei from heaven, the storms rage up the narrow sea. This is because Elenei, a daughter of wind and waves, represents the moon goddess who ‘fell into the sea’ and created tidal waves.  I’ve tied the breaking of the Arm of Dorne and the Hammer of the Waters to a moon meteor impact, of course, and I think these two stories work together to show us that the breaking of the Arm by moon meteor caused a tsunami to race up the newly formed Narrow Sea, which makes a great deal of logical sense.  The collapse of land bridge would  indeed cause a tsunami, as would a meteor strike in the ocean or on the coast.  It’s said that the weather permanently changed for Storm’s End after the event, with it receiving worse storms now, and indeed, joining the cold Shivering Sea to the warm Summer Sea would alter ocean currents and thus the weather and climate.

The Ironborn myths also include mermaids, which are another incarnation of the drowned goddess idea, as well as hammering waves, drowned land and drowned fire.  All four of these myths may be telling the same story, on a certain level, a story which we can corroborate by looking for metaphors about fallen stars, drowned or bloody moons and moon maidens, and flood tides in the main text and drawing comparisons between them and these foundational myths listed above.

Joseph Campell, George R. R. Martin, and the Importance of Symbolic Thinking

Why is this important, instead of merely interesting?

This question gets down to reason mankind creates myth, the function of myth.  I’ve talked about cosmological myth, and that’s starting to get at it – mankind needs a way to understand and relate to, and even commune with nature.  To elaborate further, I must turn more learned sources than I.

Wikipedia!  Well, a summary of some of Joseph Campbell’s ideas from his wikipedia entry, that is.  He has a fantastic four-fold description of the role of myth in human society which appears at the end of The Masks of God: Creative Mythology, and which he also referred to in many lectures as a free-standing concept.  Instead of doing my own inadequate paraphrase, I will quote directly from wikipedia.  I’m not going to cover every ramification of all four for ASOIAF, but all four are relevant, some quite obviously so.  Some of these ideas have been addressed above and will simply gain further illumination here.

The Functions of Myth

The Metaphysical FunctionAwakening a sense of awe before the mystery of being

According to Campbell, the absolute mystery of life, what he called transcendent reality, cannot be captured directly in words or images.  Symbols and mythic metaphors on the other hand point outside themselves and into that reality.  They are what Campbell called “being statements” and their enactment through ritual can give to the participant a sense of that ultimate mystery as an experience.  

“Mythological symbols touch and exhilarate centers of life beyond the reach of reason and coercion… The first function of mythology is to reconcile waking consciousness to the awe inspiring mystery of this universe as it is.”

The Cosmological FunctionExplaining the shape of the universe

For pre-modern societies, myth also functioned as a proto-science, offering explanations for the physical phenomena that surrounded and affected their lives, such as the change of seasons and the life cycles of animals and plants.

The Sociological FunctionValidate and support the existing social order

Ancient societies had to conform to an existing social order if they were to survive at all. This is because they evolved under “pressure” from necessities much more intense than the ones encountered in our modern world. Mythology confirmed that order and enforced it by reflecting it into the stories themselves, often describing how the order arrived from divine intervention. Campbell often referred to these “conformity” myths as the “Right Hand Path” to reflect the brain’s left hemisphere’s abilities for logic, order and linearity. Together with these myths however, he observed the existence of the “Left Hand Path”, mythic patterns like the “Hero’s Journey” which are revolutionary in character in that they demand from the individual a surpassing of social norms and sometimes even of morality.

The Pedagogical FunctionGuide the individual through the stages of life

As a person goes through life, many psychological challenges will be encountered. Myth may serve as a guide for successful passage through the stages of one’s life.

The reason that myth is important is because symbolic forms of communication are the only means of transmitting esoteric truths.  That’s the definition of an esoteric truth – something which cannot be directly explained, but only shown indirectly.  Man has used symbolic thinking for thousands of years to understand the most important truths about life itself and the world around us; but in only the last few centuries have we almost completely transitioned over to a rational-materialist, scientific way of thinking.  We have surely learned much from this new form of thought, this new configuration of consciousness, and I in no way mean to denigrate it.  However, I do wonder if we run the risk of being too quick to abandon our older traditions and ways of thought which have coalesced over the course thousands of years of human existence in favor of the wholesale embrace of the potential of this new, highly logical, scientific mode of thought to explain all the mysteries of life.

I think that George R. R. Martin is doing a tremendous service to the world by creating modern art which participates in this grand tradition of symbolic language and esoteric communication.  I have gained a renewed and deepened understanding of myth and symbolism through the process of writing and researching these essays, which has been of tremendous benefit to me in my own personal life.  I cannot overstate this – these new ideas have stimulated personal growth and a renewed awe of nature’s majesty.  By following the trail of Martin’s influences, I have learned all manner of things about all manner of cultures which I never would have come across otherwise.  Readers of ASOIAF are invited to follow these trails – I have to think that this is part of Martin’s intent.

While proper understanding of esoteric forms of learning are tremendously beneficial, the opposite can be quite painful.  It is a lack of understanding of symbolic thinking that leads to religious extremism of the sort which causes violence and oppression.  To quote Campbell on religion:

Every religion is true one way or another.  It is true when understood metaphorically.  But when it gets stuck in its own metaphors, interpreting them as facts, then you are in trouble.

Interpreting metaphorical teachings literally has undoubtedly led to a great deal of suffering, to put it mildly.  The great tragedy of this is that the wisdom of an inspired person becomes an instrument of subjugation and oppression.  Much of the power of the original message is there, but twisted into something far away from the original intent.  I could cite many examples of this phenomena, but it’s likely you are thinking of a few already, and that’s really outside the purview of this essay.  Suffice it to say, mythology and religion can get real whacky, real fast when you try to interpret it literally, and it can be used to justify acts of evil which men would ordinarily not commit.

There’s another potential tragedy here as well.  Campbell again:

God is a metaphor for a mystery that absolutely transcends all human categories of thought, even the categories of being and non-being.  Those are categories of thought.  I mean it’s as simple as that. So it depends on how much you want to think about it.  Whether it’s doing you any good. Whether it is putting you in touch with the mystery that’s the ground of your own being.  If it isn’t, well, it’s a lie.  So half the people in the world are religious people who think that their metaphors are facts.  Those are what we call theists.  The other half are people who know that the metaphors are not facts. And so, they’re lies. Those are the atheists.

What Campbell is saying here is that rejecting esoteric teachings because they are not literally true is just as bad as interpreting them as literal truth.  Unfortunately, religious extremists who interpret esoteric truths literally end up creating the other kind of person – people who have been burned or scarred from their experiences with “religion” and as a result have become sole practitioners of the logical, rational-materialist way of thinking.  Unfortunately, someone who does this cuts themselves off from a fundamental aspect of human existence, and a valuable source of ancient knowledge.

Another aspect of what Campbell is saying here contains the same message as a well know Bible verse: “you shall know them {trees} by their fruit.” (Matt 7:20)  At a certain level, it doesn’t matter if you worship the flying spaghetti monster or a well known deity, or if you “worship” whatever you find divine in some non-specific, non religious way.  You can make a meditative act out of anything, or said another way, you can make anything into a form of art.  Symbolic thinking, too, does not depend on any particular story or set of beliefs.  It doesn’t have to be ancient legends or ideas even – Star Wars, for example, is drenched in symbolism (George Lucas, famously, is a huge fan of Campbell and was one of the first well-known modern artists to claim a heavy Campbell influence, although “Hero with a Thousand Faces is something of a standard issue in the story writing business at this point).  The questions is always the same: what is it doing for you?  What is the fruit of the tree?

Going deeper, we are compelled to ask: How do we choose to think?  What do we fill our minds with? What rituals do we practice, intentionally or unintentionally?  Campbell sets out the criteria: Is it “doing you any good?”  Is it “putting you in touch with the mystery that’s the ground of your own being?”  Everyone can take their own path in answering this question, because truth is universal, but we should all be asking that question about the way we live our lives.

Pulling from wikipedia again, the full quote with which I began the essay:

Campbell believed that in the modern world the function served by formal, traditional mythological systems has been taken on by individual creators such as artists and philosophers.  In the works of some of his favorites, such as Thomas Mann, Pablo Picasso, and James Joyce, he saw mythological themes that could serve the same life-giving purpose that mythology had once played.  Accordingly, Campbell believed the religions of the world to be the various culturally influenced “masks” of the same fundamental, transcendent truths.  All religions can bring one to an elevated awareness above and beyond a dualistic conception of reality, or idea of “pairs of opposites” such as being and non-being, or right and wrong.  Indeed, he quotes from the Rigveda in the preface to The Hero with a Thousand Faces: “Truth is one, the sages speak of it by many names.”

Martin rephrases this idea out of the mouth of Daenerys in A Storm of Swords:

“One voice may speak you false, but in many there is always truth to be found.”

I think if Campbell were alive today, he would recognize the value and scope of George R. R. Martin’s participation in this most grand, ancient, and precious tradition: that of symbolic language.

George R. R. Martin is writing modern mythology.

19 thoughts on “Methodology

  1. What do you think about the myths of Rahu and Ketu in Vedic tradition?

    The story takes place in pre-creation times. After a long and horrible war, the gods and demons cooperated to churn the galactic material called the Milk Ocean. By doing so, Amrita, or the nectar of immortality, was made. The nectar was intended for only the gods, but one of the demons managed to drink it. Lord Vishnu decapitated him as a consequence. The head of the serpent demon, or the dragon’s head, became Rahu. And the tail became known as Ketu. As they were now immortal, Lord Vishnu needed to find a spot for them, so he placed them in the sky, between the sun and the moon. They were said to be responsible for causing eclipses, wanting to exact revenge on the sun and the moon by “eating” them up. But in actuality, they brought together Earth (body), Sun (soul) and Moon (mind).

    Astronomically, Rahu and Ketu denote the points of intersection of the paths of the Sun and the Moon as they move on the celestial sphere, thus physically causing eclipses of the sun and moon, as I’m sure you already know. Their orbital cycle lasts about 18.5 years. Which would take us back to 282 AC (assuming we take 300 AC as our starting point), which saw the beginning of an uprising against House Targaryen, due to the disappearance of Lyanna Stark, the brutal and controversial deaths of Brandon and Rickard Stark, and the order for the heads of Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark. Thus began Robert’s Rebellion.

    Rewind about 18 years prior to that (20 actually- 262 AC- but still within range) and you get the births of Robert Baratheon and Brandon Stark, major players in the Game, as well as when the Mad King started his reign. But my point, or rather question, is do you see a parallel with this myth and that of the symbolism in ASOIAF? Or am I just stretching things to fit into what I want to see?


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  10. LML, you are doing an amazing job here. Your essays are clever, well-structured, thought-provoking and immensely inspiring. Thank you.

    Concerning the level of correctness in your interpretations: I think that the idea of Campbell’s monomyth is indeed a universal truth and the basic structure of the voyage (separation-initiaton-return) so fundamentally right that it is hardly possibly to tell any story without it.

    The same holds true, in my opinion, for a lot of your basic assumptions. What I mean to say is this: Even if George weren’t applying these concepts to his story-telling conciously (which I think is the case – to a degree) – they are so very, fundamentally, true and consistent throughout human history that a good story cannot be told without them.

    And so I think the story itself multiplies and reinforces the basic elements “by itself”, as it were, because that is the nature of story. And the finer the story, the clearer its nature.

    So maybe not every metaphor you have found for sun-kill-moon has been placed on purpose – that lessens neither George’s unparalleled talent for story-telling nor the truth in your findings.

    Anyway, forgive my rambling and thank you again for your work. I’ve since begun reading The Hero with a Thousand Faces and both it and your essays have added a whole new layer of truth to how I see the world. Thanks, man.


    • I completely agree that even if George isn’t conscious of the myths he’s emulating, they’re operating on an unconscious level. Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious operate in all humans, with or without their knowledge. He wouldn’t be such a wonderful storyteller if he weren’t tapping into the collective.


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  14. I think you are doing a great job with the analysis of GRRM’s work. I understand that we cannot be fully sure if this is all correct until all the books are published. But even if some of what you say is in fact incorrect, which I don’t think it is,
    these are great ideas. And I enjoy reading them. And I hope GRRM reads it to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for saying so! Early on in the process, I sometimes doubted the idea that there could be such a huge thing “hidden” in the novels, but the more you look at these ideas and follow the symbols through the books, the more obvious it all becomes until it’s basically undeniable. Like you say, I almost certainly have some of the smaller bits wrong or maybe even one of the bigger bits, but there can be little doubt Martin is telling some kind of moon disaster story in all of these scenes. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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