Deric Doubleblades

Religion in Westeros

6 posts in this topic

Hello, thank you for coming to read my thoughts on Religion in Westeros and the conclusions I draw from their importance within the story. This is all highly speculative but it is enjoyable to think about what could and could not be happening in the current world of Planetos, specifically Westeros. As many of you may know religions are a great tool (in terms of practicality) for influencing people, power, and events. In our world we know there is many religions that differ greatly and Planetos is no different. On the surface the religions may seem a bit basic but, as you delve deeper into what turn out to be the vehicles in many ways for the events of GRRM series we find the religions are quite complex and sometimes mysterious. This isn't something I'm tackling on a whim, I've been interested in this topic of Champions and the Religions they honor for a long time. I've had internal conflict between the champions being represented in Westeros or not, the Gods themselves playing the game of thrones or not, and the idea that one god is true vs all of them being true. The religions Id like to discuss are the ones most commonly referenced in ASOIAF : The Faith, the Old Gods, the Drowned God, and R'hllor. I'm not looking to conduct a breakdown of the religions in terms of facts but rather the possibilities of their direct impact on the characters in the story and how they direct the storyline. As Varys once told us in a riddle given to Tyrion, ' Power resides where men want it to reside'. It is obvious religion is one way to influence that power. Power is like wind in the trees, it cannot be controlled. There are other ways to influence power other then religion- dragons, money, fear... on and on.

The Faith of the Seven. The Andals bring this religion along with there swords as they conquer Westeros, believing they were actual people whom walked Planetos and helped shape their culture. The reason I personally believe this is relevant is due to the fact IF they were actual people then perhaps as the Azor Ahai is prophesized to be reborn, who is to say other deities cannot also take form. I struggle with this for plausibility but it is fun to match characters with the 7 faces, so let's do it. Father - Jaime; Mother - Daenerys; Warrior - Sandor; Smith - Jon; Maid - Sansa; Stranger - Arya; Crone - Bran. Obviously these are highly debatable but considering the traits these are whom I believe fit the faces. Regardless of that fun exercise, in my opinion the Faith is ultimately a vehicle used by the maesters in Westeros to influence power. One issue is when there is a greater influence guiding that power the Faith loses a great deal of that influence. A major advisory in that sense would be dragons. The more prevalent and present dragons are the Faith has little to do when it comes to changing the minds of people, low or highborn. When facing the threat of being burned alive if one does not yield to the obvious power of a dragon. I mention this because I believe parts of the Oldtown Conspiracy that subscribes to the sense the old powers prior to Aegons conquering of Westeros do not particularly enjoy being reigned by kings and queens with such obvious power. They have no physical or tangible ways to battle them, forcing them to yield. How deep this goes in terms of the Hightowers and Maesters influencing the ultimate demise of the dragons is subject to debate, but I believe it is fair to say great houses that enjoyed prosperous reigns with a dragon free realm, would like to return to those times.

The Old Gods. This may be the most physically present religion in the story in the sense the weirwoods and Children of the Forest seem to be a collective conscience used by the living Children. Although they have no texts or rituals, the influence of this religion is quite obvious when someone like the Three Eyed Raven ( and Bran ) can have direct impacts on current ( and possibly past/future) events. I may even lean towards not calling it a religion, but when something is unknown and awe-inspiring it has to be titled something. The First Men were shown these powers by the Children and one must assume they were amazed, even fearful of the power. Having cut down the weirwoods in the south, we can imagine the influence of this religion has suffered greatly but still has a strong presence in the north - north and south of the wall. The agenda is unclear here as we don't know the Childrens motives, if they have any at all. Assuming the Children are greatly peaceful I believe all they want in turn... is peace. The direct threat to them are the Others so any motives they have for influencing power would be to suppress them.

R'hllor. This is a religion with obvious motives and influence as they don't even seem shy to show it. In my opinion this is the religion least favoring traits we usually associate with religions. As much of shadow as it is light, it very much feels R'hllor and the Great Other are ends justify the means type figures. We see and hear many examples of this first and second hand within the story. That scares the pants off me in more ways then one. The fact they are closely associated with Asshai and the mystic powers that come along with it makes me very uneasy when thinking about the influence this religion has on current events. Burning people as sacrifices, using magic ( and powders ), and looking into fires this religion down right freaks me out. Not all red priests are similar but the fact Melissandre is a shadowbinder should set all kinds of alarms off for the people of Westeros ( Davos, I'm looking at you). The agenda here seems to spread the faith, as in anything that influences power, the larger the following.. the more power it has. The duality of R'hllor also seems a bit sketchy when looked at closer. Is the Azor Ahai using blood magic when he forges the lightbringer in Nissa Nissas heart? This type of ' good ' makes Davos think to himself that he is not cut from the cloth of heroes and I don't blame him at all! So again, I don't think there is duality as there is two sides of a coin but more like there is two perspectives to view the same ends. The ends being the success of one side versus the other ( or failure depending whom youre routing for).

The Drowned God.  By all accounts the second oldest religion in Westeros, this religions power and influence may be the one subject to the most debate. However small the Iron Islands may be in contrast to the other six kingdoms, the power of a navy is incredible in a time with no air transport or vehicles. The ambitions of the Ironborn are limited to simply taking what they need to survive and every once and awhile a Lord of Pyke decides to try to conquer. The influence the Drowned God has on the Iron Islands is absolute and in turn giving them the strength they need to survive such harsh conditions. There really isn't much else to say about them as the agenda of the Ironborn is quite unknown on a large scope.

Having said all this, if one takes a step back and sees more then just Lords, Kings and Queens warring.. you may notice the battle of four influences battling over the people of Westeros. You could add the dragons in as a fifth, obviously not a religion. The dragons are something that makes you forsake your religion and agenda bending the knee or burn. Even a sixth can be added in the Others, but in the books we are not sure about many things about the Others when it comes to their intentions actions and impact on the people of Westeros. They are certainly an impending danger, but as you can see Westeros has enough problems without them! I like to think about these things from a lowborns perspective as it makes you realize essentially there aren't any GOOD options, perhaps the Old Gods due to their peaceful nature and lack of agenda. Almost unquestionably, from a lowborn perspective, the dragons pose a real direct threat to your way of life and you life in general. R'hllor is one you'd not see me eager to serve in any regard. The Faith, while seeming harmless and generally 'helpful', is like a snake charmer in a pit of snakes. No highborn is going to change the construct of Westeros behind the vale of the Seven. The Drowned God is pushed off to the side, only a danger to those that live in coastal settlements.. for now. In terms of an singular Champion for these four religions I nominate these : The Seven- Jaime, The Old Gods- Jon, R'hllor- Beric, The Drowned God- Euron(Theon). Dany(and her dragons) and the Others two wildcards. I can see, if the gods are meant to be all real and true, really playing the game of thrones on a much larger scale with the fate of not only the current people of Westeros in the line of fire, but also those meant to come after them. Even if the gods are NOT meant to be real and true, those that follow the said religions DO believe them to be true and fight for their cause regardless.

Thank you for reading this post about religion in Westeros and I am very open to being yelled and laughed at, so long as we can talk about it. I hope it is the beginning of a conversation that we can have about the importance of the religions not just in the current state of affairs, but their over lying impacts on the story and their indirect consequences. What is dead may never die.

Edited by Deric Doubleblades

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4 hours ago, Deric Doubleblades said:

The Seven- Jaime, The Old Gods- Jon, R'hllor- Beric, The Drowned God- Euron. Dany(and her dragons

Not sure about your champions, a champion should defend the faith.  Theon is a better fit for The Drowned god and he will probably champion the old ways against Euron.

Mel would be a good example on how to manipulate religious following into believing you have power beyond this world.

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38 minutes ago, elder brother jonothor dar said:

Not sure about your champions, a champion should defend the faith.  Theon is a better fit for The Drowned god and he will probably champion the old ways against Euron.

Mel would be a good example on how to manipulate religious following into believing you have power beyond this world.

That isn't a bad idea with Theon vs Euron. Although my use of the word Champion is loose, considering they don't necessarily aim to defend the faith rather then just do its bidding. I didn't want my first post to be 'I know more then you'ish, because I have a great deal to learn but I have always been intrigued the role religion plays in this world. Melissandre is perhaps our best example of manipulation of religion for her/their ends in ASOIAF :) Thanx for the feedback Elder Brother Jonothor Dar!

 

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If you want to go down the avatar root, Mel Euron and BR would be a good place to start.

They have effected who sits the iron throne at some point (I don't believe Mel and her leaches worked)  BR has confirmed power how far that power has continued into tree form is yet to be discovered, but he ensured no Blackfyre sat the Iron throne.  Mel is smoke and mirrors for the most part but has prevented the Baratheons regaining the seat after Roberts death  Euron is new to the game so we will have to wait and see.

BR is on team old gods for sure, Mel is being moved by the flames so probably R'hllor, Euron is anybody's guess but probably team undying ones

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2 hours ago, elder brother jonothor dar said:

If you want to go down the avatar root, Mel Euron and BR would be a good place to start.

They have effected who sits the iron throne at some point (I don't believe Mel and her leaches worked)  BR has confirmed power how far that power has continued into tree form is yet to be discovered, but he ensured no Blackfyre sat the Iron throne.  Mel is smoke and mirrors for the most part but has prevented the Baratheons regaining the seat after Roberts death  Euron is new to the game so we will have to wait and see.

BR is on team old gods for sure, Mel is being moved by the flames so probably R'hllor, Euron is anybody's guess but probably team undying ones

well the avatar thing isn't really the point I'm making. power in westeros is largely influecnced by the maesters and the faith( in the north the old gods )

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Right I missed that, maester conspiracy I am aware of but the link with the faith is new to me.

Aegon used the faith to cement his authority, the Targs suppressed its military arm and moved the faith to Kings Landing, subsequent High Septons appear to be in the pocket of the throne.

Before Aegon I am not sure how different things might have been, the faith had its defenders/army but I am guessing the reason for that was they kept getting fucked over by various kings raiding each others lands.  This ment people probably turned to the faith and increased its power, but a real possibility of Iron Born taking over much of westrose could have happend if not for the Targs.

Won't go into the north as the lines between avatar and power/influence is a blur to me, either the gods intervene or they have no influence as far as I can see.

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