This theory started out as a result of a small comment of mine on yolkboy's S+B = M thread. My thanks to yolkboy for his kind review as well.
The Old Gods – The Gods of Ice and Fire
This theory is about the weirwoods, the Old Gods of the North. The general perception about the weirwoods is that they are considered to be sacred by the Northerners (descendants of First Men to be precise) and are thus related to the element of Ice. In this theory I propose that they’re indeed true gods (or the closest we have in the ASOIAF universe), who actually promptly signify the union of Ice and Fire.
A song of Ice and Fire series has abundant symbolism related to Ice and Fire. Ice and Fire symbolism is part of many prophecies like “Azor Ahai Reborn”, or “The Prince that was Promised” whose is the song of Ice and Fire. I’m aware of people having the opinion that there might be no Gods per se in the ASOIAF universe, but magic exists as a natural force. My stance is, that the Old Gods aren’t like your conventional gods either, they are not supernatural beings; they’re near immortal trees that have preserved the knowledge of eons past. This is an animistic religion, where one in many Greenseers is said to have the ability to ascend to the God status, or is rather chosen to do so.
“It is given to a few to drink of that green fountain whilst still in mortal flesh, to hear the whisperings of the leaves and see as the trees see, as the gods see,” said Jojen. “Most are not so blessed.” – Jojen, A Dance with Dragons
The Old Gods are not eternal beings, they’ve become what they are owing to their mastery of skinchanging, which is a gift from the nature itself. Their ascension into this God status apparently involves skinchanging a weirwood, which is central to this religion (more on weirwoods later).
It was said that the children of the forest had carved the faces in the trees during the dawn centuries before the coming of the First Men across the narrow sea. – Luwin, A Game of Thrones
Their gods were the gods of the forest, stream, and stone, the old gods whose names are secret. Their wise men were called Greenseers, and carved strange faces in the weirwoods to keep watch on the wood. – Luwin, A Game of Thrones
Weirwoods are the eyes of the old gods. As is seen in Bran’s chapters in ADwD, a Greenseer unites with a weirwood and through earth can see through other weirwoods as well. So the old gods are not divine beings, a Greenseer is only given reign over the entire network of weirwoods and can keep watch across space and as well as time.
The First Men believed that the Greenseers could see through the eyes of the weirwoods. That was why they cut down the trees whenever they warred upon the children. Supposedly the Greenseers also had power over the beasts of the wood and the birds in the trees. – Luwin, A Clash of Kings
These weirwoods are the Gods of CotF also, who as far as we know, were very strong in magic.
Jon said, "My lord father believed no man could tell a lie in front of a heart tree. The old gods know when men are lying." - Jon, A Clash of Kings
This belief likely comes from the fact that the old gods are always watching, and know truth form false because their knowledge transcends space and time, they’re omniscient.
The magical elements in this series are rooted in two elements for the most part – Fire and Ice. Together they can make water, making its treatment as a separate element redundant. Earth and Wind are less like elements and more like media through which this magic is channelized.
Another point I’m making is that Ice and Fire despite being opposite in nature are not necessarily at war. Their interplay together is what creates magic and order in the nature. It is this interplay for example that makes water. It is not one against the other, both are necessary to keep the order of nature. The power comes from balance of the opposites.
One final point before I come to the main conjecture – it has been hinted throughout the series, mainly by Varys, that knowledge can exercise much more power than any other tangible means. Weirwoods are supposed to be millennia old, and through them the Greenseers can tap to knowledge lost over the eons, giving them a position of supreme authority and power. This coupled with the skinchanging abilities of the Greenseers essentially makes them a force in their own regard.
Maesters will tell you that the weirwoods are sacred to the old gods. The singers believe they are the old gods. When singers die they become part of that godhood. – Jojen, A Dance with the Dragons
What I’m trying to get at is that it is their unparalleled knowledge that CotF used to believe that they’re as good as Gods. This is not the only instance where we see belief indeed can bestow upon you magical powers. Another instance is when someone asserts that there is power in “King’s Blood”, where even though there may not be a legitimate way to decide on what King’s Blood is, a proclamation as King carries a kind of magical credence.
The main conjecture of my theory is that the Northern Old Gods are the only true gods in this universe, or the closest we are like to get or are yet revealed. They’re not supreme supernatural beings that have existed before the beginning of time who warrant their own theological explanations. They’re living beings selected by nature itself who were given the gift of greensight, and now are intertwined with the nature beyond in ways and means beyond the scope of mortals. The reason of this is that they’re very close; actually akin to and true embodiment of the Ice and Fire symbolism.
“The weirwood's bark was white as bone, its leaves dark red, like a thousand bloodstained hands. A face had been carved in the trunk of the great tree, its features long and melancholy, the deep-cut eyes red with dried sap and strangely watchful. They were old, those eyes; older than Winterfell itself.” - Catelyn, A Game of Thrones
So the first thing to notice is that the Weirwoods have white (as Ice) bark and red (as Fire) leaves. This symbolism for colour is very strong, seeing that White Walkers, who symbolize Ice, are associated with white as well. The Red Priests have the clear association to the color red and Fire.
The association of weirwood’s leaves to flame red is made more apparent in the following quote.
“The red leaves of the weirwood were a blaze of flame among the green. “ - Theon, A Clash of Kings
There is another quote which I will relate to this symbolism of ice and fire.
"I beg to differ. Death is so terribly final, while life is full of possibilities." – Tyrion, A Game of Thrones
Fire consumes, while ice preserves. A weirwood signifies both death and life. The greenseer that merges with the weirwood is not truly alive, not in its conventional sense, yet there is finality to its condition, a sense of permanent constancy. And even so it lives on fully conscious of its surroundings. This is the same with ice and fire, fire is alive and shifting, while ice is frozen, final, stable. A weirwood is both.
One thing that a sceptic may assert is that weirwoods don’t truly associate to fire, as the Andals and First Men burned many of them. I’m not asserting the weirwoods are infallible because of their connection to ice and fire. Think of them as elves in Tolkien’s universe, immortal, but they can be killed. Another thing, when weirwoods die they pass on to become earth, or stone; which is impervious to both ice and fire.
Continued in second post......
Edited by Arya kiddin', 31 October 2013 - 12:21 AM.