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The Astronomy Behind the Legends of Planetos

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Astronomers have tried to explain the seasons and cant. One winter might be 2 years another 7. The mechanics can only work if Planetos has a very bizarre orbit in a multi star system but no one ever mentions other suns in the sky.



That said, I am enjoying the mythology.



A moon could explode and not cause they devastation some suggest if it the impact was powerful enough to pulverize most of the material so only smaller bits of debris rained down. The problem is that anything impacting the moon at all is not going to survive and is not going to keep orbiting the system as a long term comet.



Magic would have to be at play here.



I wonder if Valyrian steel might even be made from chunks of the moon. Old cultures here used to get iron from meteorites they found rather than mining. Maybe that's what makes it special.

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This is an interesting theory, and I think you may be onto something, but it can't be exactly what you're suggesting, because I don't think it works.

First, one of the major pillars of it, the idea that "Nissa" means "grandmother moon", doesn't seem to be true (or false in a way that GRRM would be likely to believe it true, or to expect his readers to believe it true).

Second, it seems to assume that the Hammer of the Waters and the Long Night happened at the same time.

Third, the scenario you describe would lead to a holocaust that wipes out all life on GRRth. There would be nobody around to have legends about it.

More details inline.

With this in mind... a million dragons pouring forth, all at once, is a perfect mythological interpretation of a meteor shower. It must have been a hell of a meteor shower, but then we are told we used to have a second moon, which exploded. That makes sense - if you can come up with a way to explode a moon, much of the debris would reign down on the planet it orbits. Most pieces would burn up in the atmosphere, like flaming dragons... and a few big chunks would likely make it all the way down, causing huge detonations

If you actually blew up a moon, it would do a lot more damage than that.

The Moon is about 7x10^22kg. That's 7 orders of magnitude bigger than the Chixculub impactor that wiped out the dinosaurs. While we don't know what caused the even larger Permo-Triassic extinction event, various estimates have been made on how large of an asteroid would be needed, if it were an asteroid, and... we're still 5-6 orders of magnitude bigger than that. Blowing up the Moon would make the Endor Holocaust look like the Ewok dance scene at the end of the movie. It would wipe out all life on the planet, except maybe some extremophile archaebacteria living in volcanos that could maybe evolve back into complex life in a few billion years. No one is going to have legends about it.

But:

  • What if it were a tiny moon? Let's say it was a really tiny moon, the size of Mars's Phobos. I don't think ancient people would refer to Phobos and the Moon as "two moons". You also wouldn't get the kind of eclipses this theory needs. And at any rate, Phobos is still probably a little bigger than the Chixculub asteroid, so we're still talking about a K-T extinction event here. And remember, your theory is that the second moon--the Moon-sized one--is going to crack when the comet returns. That's not the kind of thing you can fight with a sword, except in a SquareEnix game.
  • Wouldn't some of it escape? Very little. Unless the explosion were a very hard explosion, sufficient to accelerate debris beyond escape velocity. But you'd still get almost half of the mass (half of the moon points at the planet, after all), and add to that the force of the explosion, and it's even worse.
  • Wouldn't most of it burn up in the atmosphere? Certainly. Maybe even enough of it to set the air on fire. This is not better.
The only way this can work is if there is something unnatural involved. Not something scientifically plausible except for a magical trigger, something magic through and through. For a rather silly example, if the moon were literally a hollow egg filled with dragons (not too different from Discworld's moon...) as the myth says, then the shell's impact would probably be something that civilization could survive, with enough trauma to build legends around.

... capable of "drowning whole islands," like the Sea Dragon which the Grey King slew in the Dawn Age, or like the "Hammer of the Waters" that the children of the forest supposedly used to break the Arm of Dorne (Im not sure the children did this, necessarily).

According to the standard chronology, the Hammer led to the First Men and the Children making peace and living in friendship; 4000 years later, the Long Night came, and they fought together against the Others.

Of course we all know that history before the coming of the Andals 6000 years ago is mostly legend and was written down only millennia later, but still, it seems hard to believe that these two events--the Children using the Hammer against the First Men, and the Children and the First Men fighting side by side against the Others--are both distorted versions of the same event.

The Natives Americans use the word 'Nissa' to refer to "Grandmother Moon" (or just "the moon").

What Native Americans? Native American languages and cultures vary even more widely than European ones. Whenever someone says "the Native Americans believe..." or "the Native Americans use the word...", that's a big red flag.

"Nissa" is definitely a name among some of the Muskogean languages, but it means "she-bear". I don't think any other Native American tribes have related names, but it wouldn't be too hard to search.

Meanwhile, the "grandmother moon" thing trumpeted by new-agers who for some reason believe that women don't deserve equal rights unless they can prove that women had equal rights in some ancient society comes from the Pacific Northwest, and "Nissa" doesn't sound like a word or name in any of their languages to me.

But I did a search for this, and guess what I found. First, one crackpot website from someone named Star Spider Dancing, whose "ancient tribal wisdom" does not come from her tribe's traditions, but from a vision that she got one day, and which includes the "fact" that cats were sacred to all Native Americans for thousands of years. Second, a product named Grandmother Moon Oil that one Deborah Ann Barry learned about from Star Spider Dancing and will sell you. Third, a book full of Wiccan nonsense that quotes Deborah Ann Barry as explaining that the Native Americans had the exact same beliefs as the Irish Druids, and Nissa is the same goddess as Knockaine (which is not actually the name of a goddess, but the name of a hill in County Limerick dedicated to her, but fine).

I could be wrong here, and maybe Nissa was some tribe's name for the Moon, but I suspect this is just one crazy lady's crackpot notion. And, unless you expect that GRRM is a follower of Star Spider Dancing, or expects that his readers will be, I don't think it means anything.

'Nissa' is also a Scandinavian word, which means "helpful elf."

Either the Scandinavian name "Nyssa" or the (related) Scandinavian folklore about the (tomte)nisse seems most likely to be the origin GRRM was thinking of, whether consciously or subconsciously. There are a fair number of Anglo-American women named "Nissa" or "Nyssa", and, while a few of them got their names via Greek, Hebrew/Arabic, Hausa, or of course Trakenite, the vast majority of them are Scandinavian.

Nisse are friendly, but mischievous. They're closely associated with Christmas in modern times, and modern Asatru revivalists like to claim they were associated with the solstice in ancient times, but traditionally they were little men who lived in mounds and came out to clear your farm for you if you're nice, or steal your crops if you're not.

Interestingly, in Old English versions of the legends, they're called wights (but at the time, that word meant "small man" or "woman", not "wraith-like undead").

I don't know of any connections between them and the moon. I suspect the connection in her name is to the CotF.

Can a comet impact cause a moon to explode? Well, it depends on how big the moon and the comet are, and what the moon is made of, but the basic answer is yes - a big enough comet or asteroid could wipe out a small moon.

To wipe out an astronomical body, you generally need something of reasonably comparable size to the body itself.

Just to blow up a loose ball of dirt the size of the Moon with perfect explosives placed ideally inside the sphere would require 10^29J. The actual Moon would require a lot more than that, because it's solid rock rather than a loose ball of dirt, but I'm not sure how to calculate that, so let's stick with 10^29J. Based on measurements and simulations of known asteroid impacts, an asteroid at the high end of the typical velocity range would have to be at least 10^20kg. That's 1/700th the mass of the Moon itself. Again, that's almost certainly a very low underestimate.

To check my back-of-the-envelope calculation: We know that the Earth survived (just barely, ejecting the Moon in the process) an impact with Theia, hypothesized to be on the same scale as Mars, or about 1/10th the mass of Earth.

But we were talking about a tiny moon, right? Then yes, the biggest comets known to cross the inner planets, could pull off destroying a moon and killing everyone on the planet below.

Of course if the moon is a hollow egg, then a smallish comet could crack it pretty easily, doing exciting but survivable damage to the planet below. (Again, not my actual theory, just to give you an idea of something that doesn't kill all the everything.)

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This is a really interesting theory! Are you on tumblr? On twitter? Consider me a fan.

Just Wordpress right now. I still have notes for a lot of theories to get written, so I try to keep it simple with the online stuff. I really had no intention of becoming a blogger or "theorist" or whatever when I started this theory, I just kind of stumbled on to it and it just blew up. Wordpress is the place to follow my musings, and you don't have to be a Wordpress member to follow.

Thanks very much for the kind words. :)

This first theory and the one to follow, the Bloodstone Compendium, have been greatly updated and enhanced with new evidence and citations form the series, which you can find on the wordpress page. If you liked this theory here then check out the new versions, there's a lot more going on as well as some entirely new concepts.

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This is an interesting theory, and I think you may be onto something, but it can't be exactly what you're suggesting, because I don't think it works.

First, one of the major pillars of it, the idea that "Nissa" means "grandmother moon", doesn't seem to be true (or false in a way that GRRM would be likely to believe it true, or to expect his readers to believe it true).

Second, it seems to assume that the Hammer of the Waters and the Long Night happened at the same time.

Third, the scenario you describe would lead to a holocaust that wipes out all life on GRRth. There would be nobody around to have legends about it.

More details inline.

If you actually blew up a moon, it would do a lot more damage than that.

The Moon is about 7x10^22kg. That's 7 orders of magnitude bigger than the Chixculub impactor that wiped out the dinosaurs. While we don't know what caused the even larger Permo-Triassic extinction event, various estimates have been made on how large of an asteroid would be needed, if it were an asteroid, and... we're still 5-6 orders of magnitude bigger than that. Blowing up the Moon would make the Endor Holocaust look like the Ewok dance scene at the end of the movie. It would wipe out all life on the planet, except maybe some extremophile archaebacteria living in volcanos that could maybe evolve back into complex life in a few billion years. No one is going to have legends about it.

But:

  • What if it were a tiny moon? Let's say it was a really tiny moon, the size of Mars's Phobos. I don't think ancient people would refer to Phobos and the Moon as "two moons". You also wouldn't get the kind of eclipses this theory needs. And at any rate, Phobos is still probably a little bigger than the Chixculub asteroid, so we're still talking about a K-T extinction event here. And remember, your theory is that the second moon--the Moon-sized one--is going to crack when the comet returns. That's not the kind of thing you can fight with a sword, except in a SquareEnix game.
  • Wouldn't some of it escape? Very little. Unless the explosion were a very hard explosion, sufficient to accelerate debris beyond escape velocity. But you'd still get almost half of the mass (half of the moon points at the planet, after all), and add to that the force of the explosion, and it's even worse.
  • Wouldn't most of it burn up in the atmosphere? Certainly. Maybe even enough of it to set the air on fire. This is not better.
The only way this can work is if there is something unnatural involved. Not something scientifically plausible except for a magical trigger, something magic through and through. For a rather silly example, if the moon were literally a hollow egg filled with dragons (not too different from Discworld's moon...) as the myth says, then the shell's impact would probably be something that civilization could survive, with enough trauma to build legends around.

To wipe out an astronomical body, you generally need something of reasonably comparable size to the body itself.

Just to blow up a loose ball of dirt the size of the Moon with perfect explosives placed ideally inside the sphere would require 10^29J. The actual Moon would require a lot more than that, because it's solid rock rather than a loose ball of dirt, but I'm not sure how to calculate that, so let's stick with 10^29J. Based on measurements and simulations of known asteroid impacts, an asteroid at the high end of the typical velocity range would have to be at least 10^20kg. That's 1/700th the mass of the Moon itself. Again, that's almost certainly a very low underestimate.

To check my back-of-the-envelope calculation: We know that the Earth survived (just barely, ejecting the Moon in the process) an impact with Theia, hypothesized to be on the same scale as Mars, or about 1/10th the mass of Earth.

But we were talking about a tiny moon, right? Then yes, the biggest comets known to cross the inner planets, could pull off destroying a moon and killing everyone on the planet below.

Of course if the moon is a hollow egg, then a smallish comet could crack it pretty easily, doing exciting but survivable damage to the planet below. (Again, not my actual theory, just to give you an idea of something that doesn't kill all the everything.)

Hey falcotron, thanks for taking the time to read and respond. You're coming late to the party, so and some of your ideas and points you raise have already been discussed. Also, I have updated this theory quite a bit - you can find the newer version on my wordpress page. Some of your questions might be answered there, and certainly may are answered in the updated version of part 2, the Bloodstone Compendium, also on the wordpress. There's also part 3 here on Westeros.org, which gets into Asshai and the ancient drgaonlords in detail, as well as some new concepts about the two moons, the heart of winter and the Shadow by Asshai. I'll try to answer your questions here, but I'm a bit short on time, so I'm going to use some quote pulls from the updated essay - but I recommend checking out the entire new versions also.

First off, this is a fantasy novel of course, so it's important to keep that in mind. The celestial mechanics are written to fit the needs of the story, first and foremost, and obviously if Martin was writing SF, he'd need to pay close attention to all the technicalities you are raising. I think for a fantasy novel the bar is somewhat lower, however, its still needs to make sense on a basic level.

As of the comet exploding the moon, yes, you're right of course, if the moon was solid rock then we'd need an object of nearly equal size to really KAPOW the thing to smithereens. However, and this info isn't here in this first theory, I think the model for this destroyed moon was Io, which is a highly volcanic moon. Most of Io's interior is molten:

Unlike most satellites in the outer Solar System, which are mostly composed of water ice, Io is primarily composed of silicate rock surrounding a molten iron or iron sulfide core. Most of Io's surface is composed of extensive plains coated with sulfur and sulfur dioxide frost.

I'm not sure what molten magma would do if released into space suddenly, but the idea of the moon being solid only on the exterior is what I was thinking about. Perhaps the idea is that only the solids chunks of moon shell made it to the planet, with the magma dispersing before cooling into tiny tektites or just little balls of iron.

Since you seem to have a better scientific background than me, I'd like to hear your thoughts on this idea and whether or not it makes it more feasible for you.

Really, the main answer for the moon exploding and not just making a crater is magic. This is obviously a magic comet - its far too big in the sky, and real comets are not red. Clealry, magic has come from the moon meteors if any part of my theory is correct. The moon destruction myths about the origin of dragons, who are identified as possibly the source of the increase magic on the planet in the main story. I know that doesn't make the science part of the brain happy, but its a fantasy story first and foremost. The magical aspect is actually more important than the celestial aspect of all of this. I see the magic as riding on the back of the science - Others as personifications of winter, Dragons are like flying volcanoes, obsidian has fire magic in it because it is frozen fire, etc. This is what I mean when I say that George uses just enough science to make his story work and to root his magic in something that makes sense. He's kind of making the ancient mythological ideas of a personified, anthropomorphized, and deified nature and making it real, essentially.

As of the idea of whether or not the debris of the exploded moon would be pulled into earth's orbit or not, I think this may be where we cross the line into more technical detail than George intended. That's not something a layperson with a basic scientific knowledge would necessarily get. I certainly did not think of it as a problem at first. I don't really know how much force it would take to propel the ejecta out of earth's gravitational field. So far, you're only the second person to even raise this as a problem. Doubtless, you are correct, I'm just saying that its only a little bit of a stretch to say the explosion was violent enough to send a lot of the material out into space. Remember, this was a magical comet and a magical moon. Since we know dragons are like nuclear weapons (George makes this allusion quite often), and since the greasy black stone (moon meteors according to me) has highly toxic effects, like a magical radioactivity, and since Asshai basically seems like the magical version of a nuclear wasteland, I think we can infer that this dragon - fire magic has explosive potential. We saw that at Summerhall, at Hardhome, and at Valyria. So that's where your force os coming from - think of a chain reaction type effect. Think of the fire magic nuclear energy. Somehting in the comet reacted with the moon material and caused a chain reaction event of a magical nature.

As for moon meteor size, my research told me that a rock 1-3 miles across would not be a planet killer... the line for that seems to be around 5 miles across. We are looking for large enough impacts to kill most living things, but not all. It needs to be big enough to cause a nuclear winter cloud cover for at least a few years, but not kill all life.

According to the standard chronology, the Hammer led to the First Men and the Children making peace and living in friendship; 4000 years later, the Long Night came, and they fought together against the Others.

Of course we all know that history before the coming of the Andals 6000 years ago is mostly legend and was written down only millennia later, but still, it seems hard to believe that these two events--the Children using the Hammer against the First Men, and the Children and the First Men fighting side by side against the Others--are both distorted versions of the same event.

Standard chronology, heh! This is one of the most solid parts of my theory, but I didn't fit any of the evidence for it into this first version of the first part of my theory. The Bloodstone Compendium update has all the evidence laid out for this. Take a look and see what you think, I find it to be undeniable when you look at the evidence.

As for Nissa = moon, Star spider dancing is not the only person talking about the Seneca moon song. True, there are tons of wackily websites floating around dealing with a lot of the subjects addressed here, from Atlantis to second moons to lucifer to ancient technology to native american stuff and all the rest. You do have to try to sort through it all, but remember a couple of things. Any idea that Martin came across and liked, he may have used, whether its true or half true or not at all true. From Lovecraftian ideas to Atlantis ideas, he's just looking for things that fit his world building. I am a huge fan of Graham Hancock, for example, even though I don't agree with all of his ideas, and even though some of his ideas are most likely contradicted by science. All that notwithstanding, he's had many brilliant insights on ancient civilization, and has a much better understanding of mythology than most scholars, So, don't throw out the bad with the good.

Link | Link | Link | Link | Link

This last one is a compilation of audio recordings from 1969-1988 by someone named Barbara Smith, but if you scroll all the way down you''' see that she has heard of the Nissa Nissa song all the way back in the 80's, so it's an idea that's been around for quite some time. George grew up in the southwest, so he definitely has a way of being familiar with something like the Nessa / Nissa song and concept.

Additionally, "Nissan" is the first month of the Hebrew calendar, and it is associated with sacrifice (Passover) and spring.

With all the other mountains of evidence equating Nissa Nissa with the moon, I simply cannot see how this is a coincidence. I am certainly not any kind of expert or authority on native american linguistics - that's one of the reasons I used the general phrase "many native american languages." I am merely pointing out that right or wrong, this idea of nissa = moon is well established and not really all that obscure.

Either the Scandinavian name "Nyssa" or the (related) Scandinavian folklore about the (tomte)nisse seems most likely to be the origin GRRM was thinking of, whether consciously or subconsciously. There are a fair number of Anglo-American women named "Nissa" or "Nyssa", and, while a few of them got their names via Greek, Hebrew/Arabic, Hausa, or of course Trakenite, the vast majority of them are Scandinavian.

Nisse are friendly, but mischievous. They're closely associated with Christmas in modern times, and modern Asatru revivalists like to claim they were associated with the solstice in ancient times, but traditionally they were little men who lived in mounds and came out to clear your farm for you if you're nice, or steal your crops if you're not.

Interestingly, in Old English versions of the legends, they're called wights (but at the time, that word meant "small man" or "woman", not "wraith-like undead").

I don't know of any connections between them and the moon. I suspect the connection in her name is to the CotF.

Great stuff. Some of that has come up the comments of the various essays. I do think the cotf are connected to the Others and the "wights," so that makes sense to me. And I do think that the elf-connotations of naming the moon "nissa" were intentional, but I am still working on figuring that out. ;)

Again thanks for all the feedback and when you get the time, and if you're inclined, take a look at the God's Eye / Hammer of the Waters stuff on the wordpress Bloodstone Compendium and see what you think.

Cheers.

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Hey falcotron, thanks for taking the time to read and respond. You're coming late to the party, so and some of your ideas and points you raise have already been discussed.

Thanks; I'll read the rest of/newer versions of the theory. But first, a couple of responses to your quick responses:

First off, this is a fantasy novel of course, so it's important to keep that in mind.

Sure, but fantasy also gives you new ways to avoid the problems (having a moon that's not like any moon that could exist in a non-magical world, or a magical cause for the explosion rather than a standard kinetic impact, etc.), and I think it's important to keep that in mind too, instead of trying to find a way to make the mechanics work while ignoring magic (and then just assuming that any unavoidable errors must be authorial sloppiness).

As of the comet exploding the moon, yes, you're right of course, if the moon was solid rock then we'd need an object of nearly equal size to really KAPOW the thing to smithereens. However, and this info isn't here in this first theory, I think the model for this destroyed moon was Io, which is a highly volcanic moon. Most of Io's interior is molten:

Magma is heavier than water ice, not the reverse, and roughly equivalent to solid rock. In particular, Io is slightly larger than our Moon, and also slightly heavier. So, this doesn't help anything. Also, notice that my calculations assumed a loose ball of dust of 0 cohesivity, with nothing more than gravitational binding energy to hold it together. Magma may be less cohesive than solid rock, but it's more cohesive than nothing at all (or even than ice), so that doesn't help either.

I'm not sure what molten magma would do if released into space suddenly, but the idea of the moon being solid only on the exterior is what I was thinking about. Perhaps the idea is that only the solids chunks of moon shell made it to the planet, with the magma dispersing before cooling into tiny tektites or just little balls of iron.

I'm not sure what molten magma would do either, but I don't think it makes much difference. Remember that much of the mass of a rock asteroid doesn't just liquify, but vaporizes, anyway. And, more importantly, with this much mass all falling from orbit to the ground/atmosphere, it scarcely matters how you distribute it; it's going to overkill all life.

There's a couple of papers about the movie Armageddon where they actually work out all the details. There's a difference between the asteroid hitting in one piece, split in half, pulverized, or vaporized, but nearly not a big enough one to help, so the asteroid really does need to be split into two halves that both mostly miss Earth entirely. So they work out how much more energy that would require than just blowing up the asteroid, either optimally placed or randomly placed. And so on. The numbers are relatively easy to scale to your scenario--except that your scenario has the added problem that the moon is already in the planet's gravity well, so it can't miss, unless somehow pushed away with enough force. The Endor Holocaust is also worth reading (but your scenario isn't quite as bad as his, because the Death Star was in either a very low orbit or a powered one).

Anyway, that does bring up an unlikely option: Maybe if the comet passed close to the planet--as in through the lower atmosphere--and hit the moon from below and behind, it could send much of the mass into space, and only small fragments blown backward would actually reach the atmosphere or surface. But it would have to hit very hard to get most of the mass to escape velocity. With a comet almost as big as the moon, that should be plausible; for a realistic-sized comet, I think it would need unrealistic speeds, but maybe if you do the math I'm wrong. :) And a comet that's both unrealistically big and unrealistically close certainly explains a comet that's far too big in the sky (although it's hard to see how it could stay in the sky for anywhere near as long if it's going that fast, or be visible from the entire world the whole time...); there might even be a reason a fast, low comet would look blood red.

Meanwhile, rethinking the literal-eggshell theory, there are papers (some actually quite serious, from the early 20th century) on whether a hollow Earth would work, which could be scaled to the size of your moon, and, crucially, the fact that you explicitly don't want enough gravity on the surface, while they did. I'm willing to bet there would be no problem at all there. The only question is whether such a moon could form and hold together for billions of years--but I think that's a perfect place to invoke magic.

Really, the main answer for the moon exploding and not just making a crater is magic. This is obviously a magic comet - its far too big in the sky, and real comets are not red. Clealry, magic has come from the moon meteors if any part of my theory is correct. The moon destruction myths about the origin of dragons, who are identified as possibly the source of the increase magic on the planet in the main story. I know that doesn't make the science part of the brain happy, but its a fantasy story first and foremost. The magical aspect is actually more important than the celestial aspect of all of this. I see the magic as riding on the back of the science - Others as personifications of winter, Dragons are like flying volcanoes, obsidian has fire magic in it because it is frozen fire, etc. This is what I mean when I say that George uses just enough science to make his story work and to root his magic in something that makes sense. He's kind of making the ancient mythological ideas of a personified, anthropomorphized, and deified nature and making it real, essentially.

I don't see ASoIaF's magic that way at all. Everything magical seems to be inherently incomprehensible, unpredictable, and unrepeatable. In other words, it's not riding on the back of science; it violates the laws of reality (and in ways that are not themselves just different, as-yet-undiscovered, laws of reality--he's explicitly criticized that Campbell approach and said he wanted to do the opposite...). The knock-on effects of magical events may themselves produce further effects through normal physics, but the magic itself does not work that way.

As of the idea of whether or not the debris of the exploded moon would be pulled into earth's orbit or not, I think this may be where we cross the line into more technical detail than George intended. That's not something a layperson with a basic scientific knowledge would necessarily get. I certainly did not think of it as a problem at first. I don't really know how much force it would take to propel the ejecta out of earth's gravitational field. So far, you're only the second person to even raise this as a problem. Doubtless, you are correct, I'm just saying that its only a little bit of a stretch to say the explosion was violent enough to send a lot of the material out into space. Remember, this was a magical comet and a magical moon.

Remember that GRRM started his career primarily as a SF writer, with his Nivenesque Manrealm stories. He's commented on the Ringworld Instability Crisis. I think he understands this stuff more than well enough, and would not deliberately pretend not to just because he doesn't expect his readers to know.

Especially when it's a lot easier to not make it about astrodynamics and mechanics in the first place. An implausibly light moon held together by magic, which, when it's destroyed, releases that magic--that's easy. You don't have to do the math to see how implausibly light it is (whatever the answer would be, well, that's how light it was). You don't have to work out the physical effects of releasing that much magic (because magic doesn't have physical effects, it has magical effects). And so on.

Since we know dragons are like nuclear weapons (George makes this allusion quite often), and since the greasy black stone (moon meteors according to me) has highly toxic effects, like a magical radioactivity, and since Asshai basically seems like the magical version of a nuclear wasteland, I think we can infer that this dragon - fire magic has explosive potential. We saw that at Summerhall, at Hardhome, and at Valyria. So that's where your force os coming from - think of a chain reaction type effect. Think of the fire magic nuclear energy. Somehting in the comet reacted with the moon material and caused a chain reaction event of a magical nature.

Bringing up nuclear weapons takes us back to Armageddon, which was all about using a nuclear weapon to blow up a comet so it would miss the Earth. The papers mentioned above concluded that, with optimal placement, it would take about a billion of the largest nukes ever built to have a chance of working. That should give you an idea of the scales we're talking about here. And now you want to add a nuclear explosion on top of the kinetic energy, you're just scaling things up by a few orders of magnitude.

I don't think GRRM meant that dragons are like nuclear weapons in any even remotely literal sense. He just means they are the ultimate weapon of deterrence and/or mass destruction. I don't think his magic works like nuclear reactions, or like energy, or like anything else it would even make sense to quantify.

As for moon meteor size, my research told me that a rock 1-3 miles across would not be a planet killer... the line for that seems to be around 5 miles across. We are looking for large enough impacts to kill most living things, but not all. It needs to be big enough to cause a nuclear winter cloud cover for at least a few years, but not kill all life.

Who would call a rock 3 miles across a moon? OK, an astrophysicist would (even in binary asteroid systems, they call the smaller one a moon), but common people would not have legends saying there used to be two moons when one of them is 3000 miles across and the other 3.

As for Nissa = moon, Star spider dancing is not the only person talking about the Seneca moon song. True, there are tons of wackily websites floating around dealing with a lot of the subjects addressed here, from Atlantis to second moons to lucifer to ancient technology to native american stuff and all the rest. You do have to try to sort through it all, but remember a couple of things. Any idea that Martin came across and liked, he may have used, whether its true or half true or not at all true.

Sure, but something he has no reason to expect any of his readers to have ever heard about is not going to be used as a clue. And just because it's vaguely possible he might have come across a crackpot idea doesn't mean that it's an idea that must have influenced him.

Additionally, "Nissan" is the first month of the Hebrew calendar, and it is associated with sacrifice (Passover) and spring.

That makes it no more moon-related than any other month of any calendar. You could just as well say that any reference to Mars actually means the moon, because March is the third month of the Gregorian calendar. This seems like a clear case of pareidolia and confirmation bias: you go looking for any pattern of evidence that shows that "Nissa" means "moon" and you find some.

What about the fact that Nissa/Nyssa/Nisa/Nysa (all closer than Nissan) means "to test" in Hebrew and Arabic, "woman" in Turkish and Arabic, "water nymph" in Greek, "she-bear" in Chickasaw, and "unforgotten" in Hausa, and is used as a female name in all of those languages? Why shouldn't those all be far more relevant? Why wouldn't you suggest that her name means "unforgotten she-bear" or "the water nymph tests"?

With all the other mountains of evidence equating Nissa Nissa with the moon, I simply cannot see how this is a coincidence.

First, I don't see mountains of evidence here, but, again, I haven't read your other stuff yet.

But even if there is other evidence, this one still seems very likely to be a coincidence.

For example, I just went and looked for evidence that "Lightbringer" means "Mars". There's a game called "Lightbringer" where you go to Mars. Loucetios, the Gaulish god that the Romans may have associated with Mars, means either "lightning" or "bringer of light". The program "Light Bringer" that lets you calculate the reflections of sunlight off different heavenly bodies uses Mars in all of their examples. Eskil from Covenant describes his song "Lightbringer" as a song written by Mars (which surprised me; I was already thinking about that song and its obvious connections to your theory once I saw your name...). And so on. Does that mountain of evidence prove that your name is a reference to Mars? Of course not. Lucifer is Venus, not Mars. This is mostly coincidence, and what's left is secondary correlation (from the fact that Mars and Venus are obviously not unrelated).

I think you used the name "Lightbringer" to evoke the obvious (related) Christian, Venusian, and ASoIaF references, not some obscure Martian references. And I think GRRM used the name "Nissa" to evoke the two obvious (related) Scandinavian references, not some obscure Moon reference. The former is something he would very likely know, and find interesting and significant, and even expect many of his readers to get (the number of people who have a friend named Nissa, or have watched classic Doctor Who, or have Swedish-American relatives over for Christmas is high enough that there's no way the community could miss it...). The latter is something he just might conceivably have known.

Again, I definitely think you're on to something here, and something new and interesting, tying the Qarthian moon myth to Lightbringer, and figuring out how the comet fits into the story, and so on. But I think some of the details are wrong, and digging up everything you can find as confirmation for those details while ignoring anything that implies anything different doesn't strengthen the core theory.

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I don't see ASoIaF's magic that way at all. Everything magical seems to be inherently incomprehensible, unpredictable, and unrepeatable. In other words, it's not riding on the back of science; it violates the laws of reality (and in ways that are not themselves just different, as-yet-undiscovered, laws of reality--he's explicitly criticized that Campbell approach and said he wanted to do the opposite...). The knock-on effects of magical events may themselves produce further effects through normal physics, but the magic itself does not work that way.

I have to disagree in the strongest terms possible here. The Others come with the cold winds of winter and are a personification of the cold. The dragons are fire made flesh, radiating heat. This is akin to personifying the volcano / terrestrial fire into a magical being, just as the Others are a personification of everything cold into a magical being. Ravnes are black things that fly and carry messages - the comets are black iron meteors that fly, and the comet is called the Red Messenger. Thus, the link on a Maester's chain for ravencraft is black iron. Apollo, the sun god, send ravens and messengers as well as fiery arrows, and George has conveintly merged the two. Odin too uses the raven as a messenger, and there's a connection between the concept o f"the Giod's Eye," one eyed peopled, and the sun, which is explained in my updated theory on the wordpress.

I'm actually going to lay out the entire "magic follows nature" theory in an essay, so you can see what you think.

I think George has made magic to appear mysterious and unexplainable on the surface, but I definitely think there are rules and mechanics behind it. I also think that every single form of magic in ASOIAF is a personification of natural forces or astronomy.

Especially when it's a lot easier to not make it about astrodynamics and mechanics in the first place. An implausibly light moon held together by magic, which, when it's destroyed, releases that magic--that's easy. You don't have to do the math to see how implausibly light it is (whatever the answer would be, well, that's how light it was). You don't have to work out the physical effects of releasing that much magic (because magic doesn't have physical effects, it has magical effects). And so on.

That's completely possible - really, I focus primarily on interpreting the text, and then I try to figure out an explanation for what it appears to be saying. Somehow, the comet struck the moon and the moon blew up. Some pieces hit the earth, causing floods and earthquakes and the Long Night. Most people seem to have died, but not all. We can try to fit the science behind that as best we can, but the most important thing is to understand what George is saying took place.

I don't think GRRM meant that dragons are like nuclear weapons in any even remotely literal sense. He just means they are the ultimate weapon of deterrence and/or mass destruction. I don't think his magic works like nuclear reactions, or like energy, or like anything else it would even make sense to quantify.

Again I have to disagree. Summerhall was a result of applying fire and magic to dragons eggs, and they got some kind of explosive conflagration.

There was an explosion at Hardhome so big it was seen like a second son form the Wall.

There are very strong hints of firewyrm activity at Hardhome, to say the least.

Valyria too was the result of magic and volcanoes interacting in a way which caused a horrific chain reaction. It was more than an eruption- it's still deadly to go there, 400 years later. Clearly, there was a magical chain reaction.

Asshai, and all the other greasy black stone locations, which I believe are moon rocks (and hence tied to the origin of dragons in some sense) exhibit a toxic effect to plants and animals. It's basically a magical version of radioactivity.

I do think George was mainly using the idea of nuclear weapons to describe the power of having significant arms advantage in a war, however, as I have shown, the concept seems to go a bit further. This is not literal nuclear radiation, but magical radiation.

Who would call a rock 3 miles across a moon? OK, an astrophysicist would (even in binary asteroid systems, they call the smaller one a moon), but common people would not have legends saying there used to be two moons when one of them is 3000 miles across and the other 3.

I am speaking of the meteors which impacted the earth, which would only be a fragment of the moon. I'm counting on most of the moon debris not hitting the planet, for sure. I'm saying that earth can only withstand a meteor of that size without literally everything dying except bacteria and sea slugs or whatever, so that's the upper limit of the size of a given meteor.

What about the fact that Nissa/Nyssa/Nisa/Nysa (all closer than Nissan) means "to test" in Hebrew and Arabic, "woman" in Turkish and Arabic, "water nymph" in Greek, "she-bear" in Chickasaw, and "unforgotten" in Hausa, and is used as a female name in all of those languages? Why shouldn't those all be far more relevant? Why wouldn't you suggest that her name means "unforgotten she-bear" or "the water nymph tests"?

Look at you, contributing to the essay. Absolutely, many of those seem relevant. Water nymph is a home run, as the moon fragment which crashed into the ocean is in fact the drowned god(fess) of the Ironborn. All of the mermaid lore, including the courtesans of Bravos on their floating barges and the Fisher Queens of the Silver Sea and their floating palace, has references to the drawing of the moon (fragment) in the ocean. The names of the courtesans are terrific. I've covered some of this material in the comments of the later essays, but I am working on a full write-up of this phenomena.

She-bear makes you think of Alysanne Mormont and the Mormonts in general. The comet was called Mormont's Torch, for one thing, and the Old Bear figures centrally in several Jon Snow Lightbringer metaphors. I haven't fully expired that angle but I am pretty sure that connotation is considered.

The destruction of the moon was a test for the planet, just as the idea of heavenly knowledge brought to earth - the garden of eden / Morningstar / story, is a test of man's self control and character. That's a bit abstract, but it's not incongruous by any means.

When you read enough mythological analysis of ASOIAF, it eventually becomes clear that George combines as many things as make sense and as are possible. His flaming sword myths draw from every bit of flaming sword mythology he knows of, from Lucifer to Mithras to Mjolnir to various smith deities and even the short story "The Nightingale and the Rose" by Oscar Wylde. Don't forget the cartoon "Thundarr" (that one will make you trip) as well as Moorcock's Melnibonean stuff. It's a true hodgepodge.

Thus, if something seems to fit, like the Nissa = moon thing, I tend to think it's probably not a coincidence. But its not like the case for Nissa Nissa symbolizing the second moon rests on that translation - the case is quite strong without it. The way that I imagine it would be that George might start with any of the Nissa meanings, the firstone he came across, and thought "maybe that's a good name for a moon maiden." At that point he might research the name further, and fine the "water nymph" thing and think "wow, that's perfect. A moon elf who becomes a water nymph, that's just what I am looking for." And then he uses the name.

Ygg is the demon tree that feeds on human flesh in the Grey King myth. Ygg is of course Yggdrasil, the norse world tree. But its also similar to one of the name of one of Lovecraft's Old Ones - I'm sorry to say I don't have the link handy. But it had something to do with the weirwoods as well, and the Old Ones of ASPOAIF may be connected the the COTF. Basically, he mines as many things as are within reach and combines them in interesting ways - that's what I am seeing.

For example, I just went and looked for evidence that "Lightbringer" means "Mars". There's a game called "Lightbringer" where you go to Mars. Loucetios, the Gaulish god that the Romans may have associated with Mars, means either "lightning" or "bringer of light". The program "Light Bringer" that lets you calculate the reflections of sunlight off different heavenly bodies uses Mars in all of their examples. Eskil from Covenant describes his song "Lightbringer" as a song written by Mars (which surprised me; I was already thinking about that song and its obvious connections to your theory once I saw your name...). And so on. Does that mountain of evidence prove that your name is a reference to Mars? Of course not. Lucifer is Venus, not Mars. This is mostly coincidence, and what's left is secondary correlation (from the fact that Mars and Venus are obviously not unrelated).

Again, he's combing mythologies. Mars is the red wanderer sacred to the smith according to Westerosi. But AA was the smith, who made the first and best sword, and the comet is a red wanderer. Therefore, George says that when the red wanderer, the Smith, is "in" the moonmaid, its a good time to steal a wife. When the red wanderer comet was in the moon maiden Nissa Nisaa, violent procreation (stealing a women) occurred.

Venus is the Morningstar, of course. But it is called this because of the way it acts in the sky, appearing at sunrise for 584 days, then switching to evenstar position and rising at sunset for the same amount of time. This behavior is created by the fact that Venus has an orbit inside that of the earth's and so does not appear to move very far from the sun. Mercury acts the same way, but isn't as bright. When the comet is in the inner solar system, where it is visible to Planetos, it acts like a Morningstar - and George writes it that way. It also appears as the first star the night Dany burns Drogo.

It's very possible some of the details are wrong, no doubt. I would ask you, with your detailed mind and keen eye. to take a look at the rest of my work and see what you think. This essay here is four months and 1500 comments of feedback ago, and a few things have changed, more evidence has been found, etc. I really appreciate your time and scrutiny. :)

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Azor Ahai, for example, translates to fire dragon using the languages from which Mithraism derived - Vedic Sanskrit, Avestan. But, its also the name of a Ctulu monster, and George has used both idea:

Azhorra-Tha[edit]

Azhorra-Tha[76] is an Outer God imprisoned on planet Mars as it fled from Earth after the imprisonment of the Great Old Ones. Its appearance is that of an insectoid to toad-like squid, but its shape continuously changes emitting an awful buzz. The Mi-Go discovered the prison of Azhorra-Tha millennia after and made everything to not reveal its location to any human being.

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OK, at this point I really do have to go read the rest of your stuff before commenting on things, but I just want to raise two very quick points.

First, have you read Question 8 in this SSM?

Second, I think GRRM's Lovecraftian borrowings are actually Lovecraftian, not Cthulhu-Mythos-as-systematized-by-Derleth-ian. And this means they aren't a clue to the mysteries to solve, but rather a pointer to mysteries that cannot and will not be solved. So, even if he did borrow Azhorra-Tha from the CoC game, I wouldn't expect him to be any more similar to the god from the game than Lovecraft's Tsathoggua was to Smith's Tsathoggua (beyond a vague toad connection, there's really nothing similar about them). I've mentioned this a few times on the forums, but it's hard to get the idea across, much less the argument for it; maybe I need to sit down and write an essay somewhere....

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to be honest, I just stumbled on that link as I was looking for the Ygg - named Lovecraftian deity. I didn't even see this was a game. I just saw the name and Mars and toads and thought perhaps that was a thing, but if it's from a recent video game then probably not. I'll have to look up the link I am thinking of.

The way that I see him using the Lovecraft references is more akin to how all fantasy authors used or adapedt Tolkien's world-building for decades after LOTR. Lovecraft is public domain and so I think George is saying that we can uses one of his worldbuokding elements to imply certain things - blck stones from some are associated with creepy magic, etc. But I do not think that because something is Lovecraft inspired it is therefore only a shadowy worldbuokding mystery door never to be opened. Why would his use of Lovecraft be any different than his use of Thundarr, Mithras, Prose Edda, etc etc? I don't think it is any different. He borrows all kinds of shit from everywhere, and all of it is repurposed in ways that are in fact important to the plot. I see no reason to erect a fence around Lovecraft ideas and say "well those are just hat tips and unsolvable mysteries. " That seems like a bit of an assumption, and I'm just not seeing the justification for it.

But by all means, you should write your ideas into an essay. I always encourage people to do so, especially intelligent-seeming persons such as yourself. But yeah, do it brother. :)

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Azor Ahai, for example, translates to fire dragon using the languages from which Mithraism derived - Vedic Sanskrit, Avestan. But, its also the name of a Ctulu monster, and George has used both idea:

Azhorra-Tha[edit]

Azhorra-Tha[76] is an Outer God imprisoned on planet Mars as it fled from Earth after the imprisonment of the Great Old Ones. Its appearance is that of an insectoid to toad-like squid, but its shape continuously changes emitting an awful buzz. The Mi-Go discovered the prison of Azhorra-Tha millennia after and made everything to not reveal its location to any human being.

Very cool. Building of the Wall can be called the imprisonment of whatever was forced to flee North. And the person who built the Wall is related to the Smith (whose planet is Mars according to the Faith). Architecture is in the domain of the Smith. Brandon the Builder is also related to the Last Hero (if he was not the Last Hero). It is possible that Brandon the Builder merged with weirwood roots at the deepest vaults of the crypts and might be still alive in some form.

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But by all means, you should write your ideas into an essay.

Done. If there's sufficient interest in it (or in any of my tinfoil-hat theories), I'll start a blog to post it somewhere more permanent (and at least give it a copy-edit and try to condense it a bit), but I'm guessing not many people will read the whole mess.

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I've always thought that the God's Eye looks like an impact crater that filled with water. It would make sense as to why it is considered a holy place.


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Falcotron, I've actually emailed the Seneca Nation and a couple others to determine the veracity of this "nissa = grandmother moon" translation.



For the record, I have found i written version of the so-called "Seneca Moon Song" and four videos of people performing the song. I'm not sure if there's some misinformation that got around a long time ago, but it seems like a few people know of this song. I do appreciate you holding me accountable - the last thing I want to do is spread cultural misinformation. I probably should have written the Seneca Nation before publishing the theory, to be totally on the safe side. Needless to say, it will be interesting to see what the Seneca nation has to say. If this Seneca Moon Song is bogus, I'm sure they'll want to know about it.


1, 2, 3, 4, 5


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I've always thought that the God's Eye looks like an impact crater that filled with water. It would make sense as to why it is considered a holy place.

It's tough to determine exactly where the meter fell, vs the destruction caused by earthquakes or volcanoes triggered by an impact. The Iron Islands ands the Arm of Dorne all have really big clues about them being impact sites, but maybe the meteor hit on the God's Eye, triggering an earthquake at the arm and a volcano to play the fiery role of sea dragon, which I have been interpreting as a flaming comet plunging into the sea by the Iron Islands:

The point of land on which the Greyjoys had raised their fortress had once thrust like a sword into the bowels of the ocean, but the waves had hammered at it day and night until the land broke and shattered, thousands of years past. All that remained were three bare and barren islands and a dozen towering stacks of rock that rose from the water like the pillars of some sea god’s temple, while the angry waves foamed and crashed among them. {…}

The Sea Tower rose from the outmost island at the point of the broken sword, the oldest part of the castle, round and tall, the sheer- sided pillar on which it stood half- eaten through by the endless battering of the waves. The base of the tower was white from centuries of salt spray, the upper stories green from the lichen that crawled over it like a thick blanket, the jagged crown black with soot from its nightly watchfire. (ACOK, Theon)

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Bravo! I was starting to come to some conclusion about meteorites and the second moon but nothing this good. Thank you for the great read :)

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Awesome! I'm always glad to hear that others have been thinking along these lines. This is actually a super old version of this theory - check out the first link in my signature.

Since you are seeing the astronomical myth here also, I would just say that if you have any ideas about different interpretations of any of the evidence I am looking at, please feel free to suggest. I'm trying to explain and interpret the best I can, and it often sounds as if I'm fairly sure of this or that, but I'm very open to different ideas and interpretations of these metaphors... I'm confident in the big picture here but sometimes the smallest wrinkle in interpretation can mean a 180 degree reversal on a major idea.

thanks and :cheers:

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@ Lightbringer
I just made an observation on the Daenarys/Amethyst thread and I'd love your input :)

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