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Astronomy of Planetos: Children of the Dawn, Part One


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------======o))) HUNTING FOR FINGERPRINTS (((o======------

Having traced the fingerprints of the fabled Great Empire of the Dawn back to the kingly ghosts of Daenerys' dream in A Game of Thrones and ancient Asshai before the Shadow, we shall now attempt to search for remnants of their cultural legacy that may have survived the magical-astronomical cataclysm that was the Long Night. Remnants are the most we can hope for, as we know the GEotD did not reform and their homeland was devastated, their peoples scattered, subjected to all manner of hardship. Still, some did survive and presumably retained some parts of their cultural identity, and as new belief systems and social structures arose, the older beliefs and legends would have become intertwined with the new.

Our job will be to attempt to spot any potential remnants of GEotD culture lurking in the shadows of other cultures which we are more familiar with. This essay will at times be highly speculative, and unabashedly so. The goal is to highlight potential connections and put them up for debate and expansion. In other words, this will be a lot more "could this be so?" and less "I think this is so" than previous essays. Each potential cultural descendent, e.g., “the Dothraki,” “Valyria,” etc., will be placed in its own section, and as people identify more potential cultural links, they will be added at the bottom of the relevant section. To an extent, this will be a living document, although it will be made clear what was the original text vs. what was added later.
I’ve looked into this enough to feel fairly confident that George does intend the GEotD to be seen as an Atlantis-type culture - an advanced civilization which was destroyed in a cataclysm but managed to leave traces of their knowledge and culture in various places around the world. In other words, I do think he has written a GEotD influence into the myths of certain cultures that we can go sniffing around for.
As I dig through the backstory of ASOIAF, both in the Worldbook and in the series proper (and don’t forget D&E), I am struck by the feeling that George has a good working understanding of cultural dispersal as it occurs in the real world, and has generally put some thought and effort into depicting a realistic evolution of culture and religion in all of his nations and peoples. Lesser authors may have approached something like The World of Ice and Fire as a fun little project, and opportunity to pen a couple of entertaining world-building stories, but these would be two dimensional, like a painting of a ship at sea, hanging on a wall. George’s pictures of ships at sea turn out to be the Narnia type, the ones which actually transport you to the ship, in the middle of the storm, on a great voyage that actually leads to real places. In other words, these backstories all seem to connect and hold up (so far) to intense scrutiny - this is no house of mirrors. With that said, let’s go gemstone hunting.
Previous Essays can be found here and are recommended, but not required, to understand this one completely:
------======o))) TIMELINE OF THE GREAT EMPIRE (((o======------
Let’s get started by reviewing what we think we know about the Great Empire of the Dawn. To refer to these nameless people, sometimes referred to as proto-Valyrians or Ancient Asshai’i, we shall use the working term GeoDawnians - it seems appropriate as it sounds like "geode.” {I’m not sure who coined that term, but it wasn’t me, so speak up if you know who did and I’ll be happy to give the appropriate credit.} These people almost certainly did not call themselves “the Great Empire of the Dawn.” That’s really more of a description of what they were. It really doesn’t matter what their name is, for all intents and purposes. They are “the ancient Dawn Age dragonlords from Asshai,” from our point of view.
The first ruler of the Great Empire was the God-on-Earth. He was the child of the Maiden-Made-of-Light and the Lion of Night, which we have interpreted as dualistic representation of the sun (day sun and night sun).
His reign lasted 10,000 years as was a supposed golden age, after which he ascended to the stars.
Eight emperors followed the God-on-Earth, each named for gemstones: Pearl, Jade, Tourmaline, Onyx, Topaz, Opal, Amethyst, and Bloodstone.
During this time the empire ruled a huge area, essentially everything east of the Bones mountains. They grew rich and powerful beyond modern comprehension, building their capital at Asshai before it was transformed into the Shadowlands. The Five Forts were built with fused black stone, possibly by the Pearl Emperor, to keep the “savages, etc.” from invading the empire.
At some point, or various points, the GEotD makes contact with Dawn Age Westeros, building the fused black stone fortress at Battle Isle on the Whispering Sound at the site of modern day Oldtown. They may have had a presence elsewhere in the Reach and the Westerlands, as well as Starfall.
Over time, the virtues of the empire deteriorated, as the reign of each gemstone emperor was "shorter and more troubled than the one preceding it." Wild men and monsters pressing at the borders and general corruption are cited, along with a list of seven sins committed by the common people: avarice, envy, lust, murder, incest, gluttony, and sloth.
The Bloodstone Emperor murdered his sister, the Amethyst Empress, and usurped her throne, the throne of the Great Empire of the Dawn. According to the annals of the further east, this was connected to the cause of the Long Night. He had his own list of seven sins: he “practiced dark arts, torture, and necromancy, enslaved his people, took a tiger-woman for his bride, feasted on human flesh, and and cast down the true gods to worship a black stone that had fallen from the sky.”
We don't really know how the Bloodstone Emperor's reign of terror was ended, nor the Long Night, but at some point the Long Night did end, and the Great Empire of the Dawn was "not reborn" - which means that it died. And that's where the timeline stops.
I believe that I have made a strong case that the "Bloodstone Emperor" is actually just another name for Azor Ahai (and "Amethyst Empress" another name for "Nissa Nissa"), but I've recently found a really nice piece of evidence supporting this idea from one of Jon's dreams in A Dance with Dragons. Let me just find my glass candle and... hmm, it must be around here somewhere... ah. There. Now we'll just set it in the stand, just like that, and now to get her lit, I'll just slide my finger over the --OW! Those really are sharp. Alright, down to business. Let's go spying on people's dreams.
That night he dreamt of wildlings howling from the woods, advancing to the moan of warhorns and the roll of drums. Boom DOOM boom DOOM boom DOOM came the sound, a thousand hearts with a single beat. Some had spears and some had bows and some had axes. Others rode on chariots made of bones, drawn by teams of dogs as big as ponies. Giants lumbered amongst them, forty feet tall, with mauls the size of oak trees. “Stand fast,” Jon Snow called. “Throw them back.” He stood atop the Wall, alone. “Flame,” he cried, “feed them flame,” but there was no one to pay heed. They are all gone. They have abandoned me . Burning shafts hissed upward, trailing tongues of fire. Scarecrow brothers tumbled down, black cloaks ablaze. “Snow,” an eagle cried, as foemen scuttled up the ice like spiders. Jon was armored in black ice, but his blade burned red in his fist. As the dead men reached the top of the Wall he sent them down to die again. He slew a greybeard and a beardless boy, a giant, a gaunt man with filed teeth, a girl with thick red hair. Too late he recognized Ygritte. She was gone as quick as she’d appeared. The world dissolved into a red mist. Jon stabbed and slashed and cut. He hacked down Donal Noye and gutted Deaf Dick Follard. Qhorin Halfhand stumbled to his knees, trying in vain to staunch the flow of blood from his neck. “I am the Lord of Winterfell,” Jon screamed. It was Robb before him now, his hair wet with melting snow. Longclaw took his head off. Then a gnarled hand seized Jon roughly by the shoulder. He whirled … … and woke with a raven pecking at his chest. “Snow,” the bird cried.
Jon Snow dreams of defending the Wall with a sword of red fire - he's playing the role of Azor Ahai. And what does he do with his red fire sword? He murders his love, as Azor Ahai does. Jon then plays the role of usurper by killing Robb and declaring himself Lord of Winterfell. It's almost like George is trying to tell us that Azor Ahai is some kind of usurper or something.
------======o))) CHARACTERISTICS OF THE GEODAWNIANS (((o======------
The gemstones seem to be a reference to eye color, as the kingly ghosts of Daenerys's dream have eyes of gemstones: Opal, Amethyst, Tourmaline, and Jade. Euron sees statues of golden gods with gemstone eyes, and associates Daenerys eyes with gemstones.
These kingly ghosts have had hair of gold and silver and platinum white, making it likely that the GeoDawnians did as well - at least the royalty, anyway. The idea of silver haired GeoDawnians as the first dragonlords makes the connection to Valyria obvious. These are ancestors of the Valyrians, and therefore of Daenerys and Jon and any other half-men with dragon dreams who happen to be… you know.
The most probable descendants of the GeoDawnians (besides the Valyrians themselves) are the Daynes of Starfall, some of whom have the distinctive purple eyes and silver hair, and who have a sword of pale luminescence which may be a match to the swords of pale fire held by the gemstone-eyed kingly ghosts. The name of the sword "Dawn" is of course a potential match to the Great Empire of the Dawn. House Dayne's very existence is an enigma, presented early on in the series - a pre-Valyrian family with distinctly Valyrian looks and a conspicuously magical sword (the purple eyes in particular we are told are uniquely Valyrian). It seems clear George wants us to notice this and draw the appropriate conclusions, or at least begin asking the right questions. We can’t know exactly how much of the "GEotD" George had worked out at this time, but we can be fairly certain that he has always had the idea of pre-Valyrian dragonlords in mind. Given that Asshai figures so heavily in Dany’s arc in book one, its really the only logical place for them to be, and it seems this is what George has always intended. The idea of dragons living in the Shadowlands is also planted in book one.
------======o))) THE EMPIRE OF THE DAWN (((o======------
The proposed capital of their empire is the largest and greatest city in the history of the world, Asshai. We will refer to this as a kind of working assumption so as not to bog the essay down with qualifying phrases, with the acknowledgement here that it is a hypothesis and could be wrong, as is true for any part of this theory, or any other. However I do feel the evidence is very convincing, strong enough to use as a working assumption to base other things on. We'll be testing this hypothesis as we go, as we did with the Fingerprints of the Dawn thread, so we shall see how it holds up under scrutiny
The Shadow which is by Asshai, the heart of darkness, is proposed to have once been the "heart of summer," an uncorrupted source of fire magic akin to the heart of winter in the far north. "The Shadow" is its corrupted form, and thus fire magic that we see in the story tends to have more shadow than light.
This hypothetical "heart of summer" would have been the original source of dragons, and the GeoDawnians the first dragonlords.
The existence of the Five Forts and the Battle Isle fortress (at the base of the Hightower in Oldtown), both fused stone structures, confirm that the GeoDawnians were the first to tame dragons, and apparently ranged as far as Westeros (again think of the Daynes).
Their empire was wealthy, powerful, governed many different peoples, had huge armies, was a maritime power, and likely grew rich off of trade flowing through the Saffron Straights as well as from the abundance of gold in the area.
Their religion seems to have been heavily rooted in astronomy and dualistic in nature, embracing the concept of harmony coming from the balance of oppositional forces. Their founding hero, the God-Emperor, was born of a male / female and light / dark balance, reflected in the union of the Lion of Night and Maiden made of Light. He descended from the stars to earth, ruled, and ascended back to the stars when his time was through.
I've also connected "casting down the true gods" with the casting down of the second moon, the eighth wanderer, implying that the "true gods" of the GEotD may very well have had something to do with the celestial bodies. Of course most ancient peoples on earth - Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, ancient Chinese and Vedic cultures, Mayans, Incas, and other Native American populations, Celts, Persians, Sumerians, Babylonians, and many cultures which preceded them whose names are lost to history - were adept astronomers and viewed the forces of nature and heavenly bodies as divine, so George’s decision to make the GEotD religion based on astronomy is entirely fitting.
------======o))) THE BLOOD BETRAYAL AND THE LONG NIGHT (((o======------
The Long Night is tied to twin events, two versions of the forging of Lightbringer paralleled on earth and in the heavens: the Bloodstone Emperor's usurpation of the throne, murder of the Amethyst Empress, and following reign of terror and dark magic; and the celestial cataclysm of Lightbringer the comet destroying the second moon of Planetos, proposed to be a magically aspected fire moon. Both these events seem to be tied to the corruption of the heart of summer into the Shadow, which disrupted the perfect balance of ice and fire. With the heart of fire weakened and / or corrupted, ice magic was suddenly unopposed by an equivalent balancing force and began to overflow the heart of winter, manifesting as the Ice Winds and the Others and all their minions which we associate with the Long Night. For the moment, we are going to simply say that the events on the ground and in the sky were related, without attempting to establish the direct cause/effect relationship, as the focus here will be on the aftermath of the Long Night.
During the Long Night, a period of prolonged darkness or semi-darkness lasting several years or more, there would have been general famine, widespread anarchy, the collapse of nearly all governance and civilization, and the death of most plants and animals on Planetos. There would have been a multitude of natural disasters, particularly at the onset on the LN, as large meteorite impacts would have triggered floods, earthquakes, and even volcanoes; and of course, we have deadly firestorm of flaming meteors immortalized in Qarthine legend. Those disasters would be bad enough to deal with, but they were followed by years of darkness, as well as the reign of terror of a psychopathic sorcerer king.
The Great Empire of the Dawn collapsed during this time and did not reform.
------======o))) RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!! (((o======------

There are many signs of migration out of the lands formerly controlled by the Great Empire of the Dawn, as one would expect to find with a period of total upheaval such as we have described. First, recall what the Yi Ti section about the GEotD says happened after the Long Night was finally ended:

Yet the Great Empire of the Dawn was not reborn, for the restored world was a broken place where every tribe of men went it's own way, fearful of all the others, and war and lust and murder endured, even to our present day.

Part one and two of this essay will attempt to follow these dispersal patterns as we search for any potential bits and pieces of GEotD culture. The things we will be looking for are the specific eight gemstones, especially jade, as well as cloth of gold or gold in the proximity of the relevant gems, any kind of Valyrian looks, astronomy-based religions and concepts of dualism (balance of opposites), dragon-related things, shadow-magic use, signs of an eastern origin, advanced metalworking capability, ancient maritime skill, and signs of cultural memories dating back to the Dawn Age.
Part One in particular will focus on the most direct magical descendants of the Great Empire of the Dawn: Valyria and the Cult of Starry Wisdom. These sections turned out to grow beyond my initial expectations, so we shall have to cover the more mundane descendants of the GEotD in a continuation of this one.
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------======o))) THE FREEHOLD OF VALYRIA (((o======------

It was on the grey peninsula across from Slaver’s Bay that those who brought amend to the empire of old Ghis - though not all of their ways - originated. Sheltered there, amidst the great volcanic mountains known as the Fourteen Flames, were the Valyrians, who learned to tame dragons and make them the most fearsome weapon of war that the world ever saw. The tales the Valyrians told of themselves claimed they were descended from dragons and were kin to the ones they now controlled. -- TWoIaF

Let’s just go right for it and get things rolling, shall we? I mean this is really the entire point of the existence of an ancient race of dragonlords, to tell us something about the Valyrians and Targaryens; to tell us something about the main characters in our book who are or may be Targaryens. Discovering what we can about the Great Empire of the Dawn is fun and all, but the point is to learn about the players in the story.

We’ll start by taking a look at which magics the two cultures have in common. Valyria’s chief magics were:

Dragonbonding - “The Valyrians themselves claimed that dragons sprang forth as children of the Fourteen Flames… the Valyrians harnessed them and subjugated them as no one else could.” (TWOIAF) This facilitates control of dragons and their fire, necessary for riding on their backs or using their fire for any controlled purpose. The exact nature of dragon bonding is still somewhat of a mystery - we only speak in general terms of the ability to control dragons in some way. Dragonbinder horns, blood sacrifice, proximity, blood lineage, something like a skinchanger bond, sheep-bribery, unknown techniques - any or all of these could be involved.

Valyrian Steel - “The blade was Valyrian steel, spell-forged and dark as smoke.” (AGoT, Bran) "When Jon turned it sideways, he could see the ripples in the dark steel where the metal had been folded back on itself again and again. “This is Valyrian steel, my lord,” he said wonderingly.” (AGoT, Jon) Valyrian steel production requires dragonlords to control dragon flame, knowledge of advanced metalworking techniques such as folding steel (burning iron alone doesn’t make a sword), and of course, sorcery. It may well require blood sacrifice as well.

Fused Stone Construction - "The dragonlords of Valyria, as is well known, possessed the art of turning stone to liquid with dragonflame, shaping it as they would, then fusing it harder than iron, steel, or granite." (TWOAIF)

This was used for roads, walls, and fortresses. This requires both dragonlords to control the dragon's flame and sorcery to control the flow of the molten rock and to harden it in place. Some speculate blood sacrifice is needed for this; I tend to doubt it.

Glass Candles - "The sorcerers of the Freehold could see across mountains, seas, and deserts with one of these glass candles. They could enter a man’s dreams and give him visions, and speak to one another half a world apart, seated before their candles.” (AFFC, Sam) That pretty much says it.

Human-animal Crossbreeding - The largest of the Basilisks is the Isle of Tears, where steep-sided valleys and black bogs hide amongst rugged flint hills and twisted, windswept rocks. On its southern coast stand the broken ruins of a city. Founded by the Old Empire of Ghis , it was known as Gorgai for close to two centuries (or perhaps four; there is some dispute), until the dragonlords captured it in the Third Ghiscari War and renamed it Gorgossos.

By any name, it was an evil place. The dragonlords sent their worst criminals to the Isle of Tears to live out their lives in hard labor. In the dungeons of Gorgossos, torturers devised new torments. In the flesh pits, blood sorcery of the darkest sort was practiced, as beasts were mated to slave women to bring forth twisted half-human children. (TWOIAF)

Its the 800 pound gorilla-human hybrid in the room, but we have to talk about it. The Valyrians, at least at one time, did in fact use magic to crossbreed animals and people. We wont't get into speculation about just exactly what "blood of the dragon" means, except to say that it is suggestive of magical crossbreeding and hybridization. It’s very possible that if some kind of blood connection was made between dragons and people, it was originally made at Asshai, by the GEotD or the Bloodstone Emperor himself.

So which of these do we think were also possessed by the Great Empire of the Dawn? Clearly fused stone, with the notable detail that they favored more utilitarian construction than the later Valyrians, who "loved little more than twisting stone into strange, fanciful, and ornate shapes” (TWOIAF). Fused stone implies control of dragons as well as advanced sorcery, so put them down for “dragonbonding" as well - although we can’t assume it was the same kind of dragonbonding as the Valyrians practiced, only that they had control of dragons in some way.

Valyrian Steel? "And so for thirty days and thirty nights Azor Ahai labored sleepless in the temple, forging a blade in the sacred fires. Heat and hammer and fold, heat and hammer and fold, oh, yes, until the sword was done.” I take that as a “yes.” Unless you think Lightbringer the sword never really existed, you kind of have to conclude that Azor Ahai seems to be making steel (hat-tip Radio Westeros). It’s likely that only Valyrian steel can handle the fire of Lightbringer’s blood magic - Beric’s and Thoros' swords don't seem to hold up. The GEotD had the control of dragons, and apparently steel-making knowledge, so it all seems to fit. Then of course we have the “swords of pale fire” held by the gemstone-eyed kingly ghosts. Not only did they likely have steel swords, they seem to have had "lightbringer" technology.

We don’t know for sure that they had glass candles, although I think it is strongly suggested, as we will see when we take a look at Quaithe and Marwyn. Mithras has suggested glass candles as potential means of the Valyrians' rediscovery of the dragon magic of the GEotD. It’s not a stretch to hypothesize that glass candles may be able to see into the future or past, or that they may be able to store knowledge themselves, as weirwood trees do. Glass candles and weirwoods seem to serve many of the same purposes.

Human animal hybrids seem pretty much right up the alley of the Bloodstone Emperor. It’s all but stated outright; he marries a “tiger-woman,” implying the existence of human animal hybrids in that day. He also practiced necromancy, nebulous “dark arts,” torture, and enslavement - breeding experiments would really fit right in. Of course he worshipped the black stone that fell from the sky, which I am certainly interpreting as the black “bloodstone” moon rock, the greasy black stone that we find at Asshai and elsewhere. There’s that monstrous greasy black stone toad statue on the Isle of Toads, which is right next to Gorgossos. We can’t be sure, but I certainly suspect the greasy black stone has something to do with the magic needed to work these hybridizations. We’ll leave this as an open question, with a lean towards 'yes.’

In almost every way, it seems the Valyrians inherited their magical knowledge from the Great Empire of the Dawn. There’s an interesting debate to be had about how much of the Valyrian magic comes from the GEotD and how much from the Bloodstone Emperor himself, who likely perverted much of the GeoDawnian magic, but we will save that for another day, or at least the comments section. ;)

As the gemstones of the GeoDawnian emperors seem to be associated with eye color, it seems reasonable to extrapolate that the Valyrians may be the descendants of the Amethyst Empress or her people (hat-tip Durran Durrandon). It’s possible that each gemstone represents a dynasty or family house instead of a person). If the Bloodstone Emperor was literally the brother of the Amethyst Empress, he may have had purple eyes at one time too. I suspect that since George's magical “bloodstone" is black, it’s likely that the Bloodstone Emperor had black eyes.. perhaps with an oily sheen? Equilibrium has suggested that if the Valyrians and Geodawnians can crossbreed humans and animals, it’s likely that they could manipulate eye or hair color. Each new emperor may take a new eye color upon ascent - the father of the Amethyst Empress and the Bloodstone Emperor was the Opal Emperor, for example. As it’s unclear exactly how this all works, I think the Amethyst Empress is the most likely candidate to be the ancestor of Valyria, but it’s possible the Bloodstone Emperor himself had children with purple eyes, maybe even with the Amethyst Empress. These are proto-Valyrians, so we can’t rule out the ol' incest.

The kingly ghosts have "hair of silver and hair of gold and hair platinum white", an exact match for the Valyrian look. The only detail we are missing is the skin color, which Dany does not remark on in her dream. I do engage in a bit of speculation about the potential skin color of the GeoDawnians below as we look at their other descendants, but because the GEotD was so large, we can safely assume it was a multi-ethnic society, and as such, there was probably a variety of skin tones and races, so this probably is not a large factor in tracing looks. One detail does bear mentioning here: the Mereneese claim that the Valyrians were originally shepherds (those weren't their exact words ;)), presenting a possible link to the bronze skinned Lhazareen, who live north of Slaver’s Bay and just a bit east of Valyria. The skin tones don’t match, nor the hair, but perhaps the Valyrian ancestors married paler-skinned people somewhere to get their fair complexion, and there is also the implication that sorcery may have been used to manipulate their looks.

Whatever the case, we can safely say that the hair colors of the kingly ghosts are a match to that of the Valyrians, and the amethyst-eyed one in particular is a match for eye color as well. That is pretty strong evidence, given how rare and unique those looks are on Planetos and given how big a deal is made of this fact:

The great beauty of the Valyrians - the their hair of palest silver or gold and eyes in shades of purple not found amongst any other people in the world - is well known, and often held up as proof that the Valyrians are not entirely of the same blood as other men. -- TWOIAF

“Look at her. That silver- gold hair, those purple eyes … she is the blood of old Valyria, no doubt, no doubt…”

-- AGOT, Daenerys

The Targaryens are the blood of the dragon, descended from the high lords of the ancient Freehold of Valyria, their heritage proclaimed in a striking (some say inhuman) beauty, with lilac or indigo or violet eyes and hair of silver- gold or platinum white. -- AGOT, Appendix

We don’t know almost nothing about the many gods of Valyria or their religion, so we can’t really make any comparisons there.

So what happened to the fire sword technology used by Azor Ahai and the kingly ghosts? Valyria seems not to have rediscovered this. However, they might have some kind of memory about a flaming sword - though not one of pale fire... what’s the name of the ancestral sword of House Targaryen again?

:devil: Muah ha ha ha... :devil:

Lastly, there are two occurrences of gemstone eyes in regards to Valyria, both from A Game of Thrones. Ned is walking into the throne room at King’s Landing and sees the Valyrian Sphinxes, which were of course made in Valyria:

The chamber was richly furnished. Myrish carpets covered the floor instead of rushes, and in one corner a hundred fabulous beasts cavorted in bright paints on a carved screen from the Summer Isles. The walls were hung with tapestries from Norvos and Qohor and Lys, and a pair of Valyrian sphinxes flanked the door, eyes of polished garnet smoldering in black marble faces. -- AGOT, Eddard

While in Vaes Dothrak, Dany sees a stolen statue which must be Valyrian:

Monsters stood in the grass beside the road; black iron dragons with jewels for eyes, roaring griffins, manticores with their barbed tails poised to strike, and other beasts she could not name. AGOT, Daenerys

This may be an indication that the Valyrians had a memory of the association between eyes and gems from their ancestral culture, the Great Empire of the Dawn.

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------======o))) THE CULT OF STARRY WISDOM (((o======------

Many scholars count the Bloodstone Emperor as the first High Priest of the sinister Church of Starry Wisdom, which persists to this day in many port cities throughout the known world. -- TWOIAF
The CoSW certainly may have influenced other cultures and institutions in turn, but they themselves are one of the main cultural legacies of the GEotD, having been (supposedly) created by the Bloodstone Emperor, Azor Ahai, and so we shall take a look at them initially on their own. The first thing to note: this cult has apparently existed for some ten thousand years! That's really quite tremendous - the Freemasons and Illuminati ain't got nothing on these guys. It's of course possible that the cult died out for a time, only to have their writings rediscovered centuries later, but still - this is a ten thousand year old cult. They may have some of the only accurately preserved knowledge of the Dawn Age.
The other piece of information we get here is that the CoSW exists in port cities throughout the world - that indicates it is popular with sailors, and not particularly associated with any one place (although I’m sure the CoSW temple at Asshai is truly magnificent). The tie between sailors and stars is navigation, of course, as sailors depend on knowledge of the stars for their very lives when at sea. George certainly seems to have a magical version of bloodstone in his world, just as he has a magical version of obsidian, but in the real world bloodstone has indeed been very popular with sailors all throughout history, precisely because it is associated with the stars, the wisdom of the stars, and navigation (as well as astrology, alchemy, and magic having to do with the stars). The Bloodstone Emperor was the ruler of a maritime power, spanning from the Five Forts all the way to Westeros and Battle Isle as they did, so it seems that George has really done his research in choosing bloodstone for this first high priest of the "sinister" Church of Starry Wisdom.
Here is their one mention in A Dance with Dragons:
She set out as the Titan roared the sunset, counting her way down the steps from the temple door, then tapping to the bridge that took her over the canal to the Isle of the Gods. She could tell that the fog was thick from the clammy way her clothes clung to her and the damp feeling of the air on her bare hands. The mists of Braavos did queer things to sounds as well, she had found. Half the city will be half- blind tonight.
As she made her way past the temples, she could hear the acolytes of the Cult of Starry Wisdom atop their scrying tower, singing to the evening stars. A wisp of scented smoke hung in the air, drawing her down the winding path to where the red priests had fired the great iron braziers outside the house of the Lord of Light. Soon she could even feel the heat in the air, as red R’hllor’s worshipers lifted their voices in prayer. “For the night is dark and full of terrors,” they prayed. Not for me . Her nights were bathed in moonlight and filled with the songs of her pack, with the taste of red meat torn off the bone, with the warm familiar smells of her grey cousins. Only during the days was she alone and blind. -- ADWD, The Blind Girl
The cultists of the CoSW sing to the stars - that’s certainly interesting, song being such a major theme in A Song of Ice and Fire. The children of the forest sing the song of earth, the red priests sing to R’hllor every night, we have the famous tome “Songs the Drowned Men Sing,” of course the “moonsingers” of the Jogos Nhai whom we will get to shortly, and many other songs. Check out Wolfmaid’s excellent essay on Those Who Sing.
Singing to the stars is done atop a scrying tower. We’ve only heard mention of a scrying tower on one other occasion in the series:
Xaro Xhoan Daxos had offered Dany the hospitality of his home while she was in the city. She had expected something grand. She had not expected a palace larger than many a market town. I t makes Magister Illyrio’s manse in Pentos look like a swineherd’s hovel, she thought. Xaro swore that his home could comfortably house all of her people and their horses besides; indeed, it swallowed them. An entire wing was given over to her. She would have her own gardens, a marble bathing pool, a scrying tower and warlock’s maze. Slaves would tend her every need. In her private chambers, the floors were green marble, the walls draped with colorful silk hangings that shimmered with every breath of air. “You are too generous,” she told Xaro Xhoan Daxos. -- ACOK, Daenerys
We are going to get into all the Qarth stuff on its own, but here we see that Xaro just kind of has a scrying tower in his mansion - is that a standard thing in Qarth? Living room, dining room, master bedroom, scrying tower? Either that, or Xaro may be a cultist.. or perhaps he just bought the mansion from a cultist. In any case, Qarth has a lot of signs of GEotD culture, so a CoSW presence wouldn’t be amiss in the slightest in this most powerful of port cities in the far east.
Although there may be others, here are basically two very strong candidates for Church of Starry Wisdom cultists: Quaithe, Shadowbinder of Asshai-by-the-Shadow, and Archmaester Marwyn, known as Marwyn the Mage.
------======o))) MARWYN THE MAGE (((o======------
He has a mocking name for everyone, thought Pate, but he could not deny that Marwyn looked more a mastiff than a maester. As if he wants to bite you. The Mage was not like other maesters. People said that he kept company with whores and hedge wizards, talked with hairy Ibbenese and pitch- black Summer Islanders in their own tongues, and sacrificed to queer gods at the little sailors’ temples down by the wharves. Men spoke of seeing him down in the undercity, in rat pits and black brothels, consorting with mummers, singers, sellswords, even beggars. Some even whispered that once he had killed a man with his fists. When Marwyn had returned to Oldtown, after spending eight years in the east mapping distant lands, searching for lost books, and studying with warlocks and shadow-binders, Vinegar Vaellyn had dubbed him “Marwyn the Mage.” The name was soon all over Oldtown, to Vaellyn’s vast annoyance. “Leave spells and prayers to priests and septons and bend your wits to learning truths a man can trust in,” Archmaester Ryam had once counseled Pate, but Ryam’s ring and rod and mask were yellow gold, and his maester’s chain had no link of Valyrian steel.
Armen looked down his nose at Lazy Leo. He had the perfect nose for it, long and thin and pointed. “Archmaester Marwyn believes in many curious things,” he said, “but he has no more proof of dragons than Mollander. Just more sailors’ stories.”
“You’re wrong,” said Leo. “There is a glass candle burning in the Mage’s chambers.” A hush fell over the torchlit terrace. Armen sighed and shook his head. Mollander began to laugh. The Sphinx studied Leo with his big black eyes. Roone looked lost. Pate knew about the glass candles, though he had never seen one burn. They were the worst- kept secret of the Citadel. It was said that they had been brought to Oldtown from Valyria a thousand years before the Doom. He had heard there were four; one was green and three were black, and all were tall and twisted. - -- AFFC, Prologue
The big clue here is "sacrificed to queer gods at the little sailors’ temples down by the wharves.” True, it’s no scrying tower, but not every sept is the Sept of Baelor, you know? Humble sailors (who likely make up the rank-and-file of the cult) need a convenient place to make their ‘sacrifices,’ just as in any other religion, and I imagine that’s what these little sailor’s temples are.
Continuing on, we learn that Marwyn has been to the far east, spending eight years there mapping distant lands, looking for lost books, and studying with warlocks and shadow binders. In fact, he’s been to Asshai itself. All the way back in A Game of Thrones, Mirri Maz Dur tells Daenerys that while she studied in Asshai, “a maester from the Sunset Lands opened a body for me and showed me all the secrets that hide beneath the skin...Marwyn, he named himself.” Given that he is “currently” on a boat headed to Meereen, there’s an interesting layer of synergy here with Marwyn's involvement in the very beginning of Daenerys’s story. The Worldbook also confirms that Marwyn has been to Asshai. Asshai would basically be the Mecca for CoSW cultists, and both Marwyn and Quaithe have spent a decent amount of time there.
Next we find that the citadel possesses glass candles, that they are burning again (as they are in the house of Urrathon Nightwalker of Qarth, whoever that is), and that Marwyn may be using them to learn things about dragons and whatever else. Leo Tyrell adds to this idea a bit further on (still AFFC):
"Dragonglass,” Pate said. “The smallfolk call it dragonglass.” Somehow that seemed important.
“They do,” mused Alleras, the Sphinx, “and if there are dragons in the world again …”
“Dragons and darker things,” said Leo. “The grey sheep have closed their eyes, but the mastiff sees the truth. Old powers waken. Shadows stir. An age of wonder and terror will soon be upon us, an age for gods and heroes.”
This idea of glass candles as NSA wiretaps is reinforced at the end of A Feast for Crows when Sam meets Marwyn and learns from him about the candles:
Aside from that, the only light came from a tall black candle in the center of the room. The candle was unpleasantly bright. There was something queer about it. The flame did not flicker, even when Archmaester Marwyn closed the door so hard that papers blew off a nearby table. The light did something strange to colors too. Whites were bright as fresh- fallen snow, yellow shone like gold, reds turned to flame, but the shadows were so black they looked like holes in the world. Sam found himself staring. The candle itself was three feet tall and slender as a sword, ridged and twisted, glittering black. “Is that … ?”
“… obsidian,” said the other man in the room, a pale, fleshy, pasty- faced young fellow with round shoulders, soft hands, close- set eyes, and food stains on his robes.
“Call it dragonglass.” Archmaester Marwyn glanced at the candle for a moment. “It burns but is not consumed.”
“What feeds the flame?” asked Sam.
“What feeds a dragon’s fire?” Marwyn seated himself upon a stool. “All Valyrian sorcery was rooted in blood or fire. The sorcerers of the Freehold could see across mountains, seas, and deserts with one of these glass candles. They could enter a man’s dreams and give him visions, and speak to one another half a world apart, seated before their candles. Do you think that might be useful, Slayer?”
“We would have no more need of ravens.”
“Only after battles.” The archmaester peeled a sourleaf off a bale, shoved it in his mouth, and began to chew it. “Tell me all you told our Dornish sphinx. I know much of it and more, but some small parts may have escaped my notice.”
After Marwyn leaves the room:
Alleras smiled. “I have a confession. Ours was no chance encounter, Sam. The Mage sent me to snatch you up before you spoke to Theobald. He knew that you were coming.”
Alleras nodded at the glass candle. Sam stared at the strange pale flame for a moment, then blinked and looked away. Outside the window it was growing dark.
Without a doubt, Marwyn has been using the candles pretty extensively. He knows when Sam is arriving at Oldtown, and send Alleras to get him. In fact, Marwyn knows most of everything that is happening at the Wall already, before Sam tells him. Think about that for a second - Marwyn has been watching the events at the Wall in enough detail to know basically everything that is going on. Those candles are indeed very powerful.
The last thing to note about Marwyn is his interest in prophecy and Daenerys.
He was not a man to be refused. Sam hesitated a moment, then told his tale again as Marywn, Alleras, and the other novice listened. “Maester Aemon believed that Daenerys Targaryen was the fulfillment of a prophecy … her, not Stannis, nor Prince Rhaegar, nor the princeling whose head was dashed against the wall.”
“Born amidst salt and smoke, beneath a bleeding star. I know the prophecy.” Marwyn turned his head and spat a gob of red phlegm onto the floor. “Not that I would trust it. Gorghan of Old Ghis once wrote that a prophecy is like a treacherous woman. She takes your member in her mouth, and you moan with the pleasure of it and think, how sweet, how fine, how good this is … and then her teeth snap shut and your moans turn to screams. That is the nature of prophecy, said Gorghan. Prophecy will bite your prick off every time.” He chewed a bit. “Still…”
“What will you do?” asked Alleras, the Sphinx.
“Get myself to Slaver’s Bay, in Aemon’s place. The swan ship that delivered Slayer should serve my needs well enough. The grey sheep will send their man on a galley, I don’t doubt. With fair winds I should reach her first.” Marwyn glanced at Sam again, and frowned. “You … you should stay and forge your chain. If I were you, I would do it quickly. A time will come when you’ll be needed on the Wall.”
Marwyn seems to be shows us two things about his motivations. First, he’s pro-dragon and unafraid to use magic - he’s on the way to help Daenerys, mother of dragons, and wants to counteract the Citadel’s perceived anti-magic agenda; and second, he seems to be concerned about the threat of the Others. His statement about Sam needing to gain knowledge by forging his chain and then get back to the Wall is worthy of reflection. This is someone who is thinking globally, cosmically, however you want to say it. His eyes are on the big picture. He seems to be marshaling forces to deal with the Others, and he wants to “help" Daenerys… help her do what though? That’s the important question, and we are about to ask the same question of Quaithe.
It seems like Marwyn wants to essentially pit Daenerys against the Others, as many speculate her ultimate purpose to be. But when I think about Daenerys's primary conflict of the heart - her fire and blood, dragon nature vs. her tree-planting, mother figure nature - and what it will mean for her to embrace her dragon nature, I have to wonder if that’s going to be a good thing for Daenerys, and for Westeros. Marwyn has gained his magical knowledge at Asshai-by-the-Shadow, from warlocks and Shadowbinders and whoever else - and he knows how to use the glass candles, as does Quaithe who is “of Asshai-by-the-Shadow,” all of which indicates that glass candle use is known to the magicians there. If Marwyn IS a member of the Church of Starry Wisdom, whose magical knowledge presumably comes down from the Bloodstone Emperor himself, what does that mean for his efforts to “help" Daenerys?
The same can be asked of Quaithe.
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------======o))) QUAITHE OF THE SHADOW (((o======------

The woman in the lacquered wooden mask said in the Common Tongue of the Seven Kingdoms, “I am Quaithe of the Shadow. We come seeking dragons.”

“Seek no more,” Daenerys Targaryen told them. “You have found them.” -- ACOK, Daenerys

Lest we be confused about what she means by “the Shadow,” we get the capital ’S,’ and the appendix to A Clask of Kings lists Quaithe as “a masked shadow binder of Asshai.” So, what’s the evidence linking her the Cult of Starry Wisdom? She doesn’t wear a name tag or anything, but this quote is pretty suggestive:

She dreamed. All her cares fell away from her, and all her pains as well, and she seemed to float upward into the sky. She was flying once again, spinning, laughing, dancing, as the stars wheeled around her and whispered secrets in her ear. “To go north, you must journey south. To reach the west, you must go east. To go forward, you must go back. To touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.”

“Quaithe?” Dany called. “Where are you, Quaithe?” Then she saw. Her mask is made of starlight.

“Remember who you are, Daenerys,” the stars whispered in a woman’s voice. “The dragons know. Do you?” -- ADWD, Daenerys

This is literally 'starry wisdom' Dany is receiving here, from a shadow-binder whose mask is made of starlight. The Bloodstone Emperor used the power of 'shadow fire,’ that is, whatever magic flows from the Shadow, the corrupted heart of summer, so I would expect his acolytes to be using the power of Shadow as well - and certainly Quaithe is 'of the Shadow,' and unabashedly so. Ultimately, anyone drawing on the magic of the Shadow is directly or indirectly following in the footsteps of the Bloodstone Emperor and the Church of Starry Wisdom, whether they know it or not.

Quaithe and Melisandre, both shadowbinders from Asshai, justify their use of shadow magic in different ways. They sound similar at first, but there’s an important difference. Quaithe’s mantra is “to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow,” while Melisandre says this when she attempts to legitimize her use of shadow babies to Davos:

“There was no need,” she said. “He was unprotected. But here … this Storm’s End is an old place. There are spells woven into the stones. Dark walls that no shadow can pass— ancient, forgotten, yet still in place.”

“Shadow?” Davos felt his flesh prickling. “A shadow is a thing of darkness.”

“You are more ignorant than a child, ser knight. There are no shadows in the dark. Shadows are the servants of light, the children of fire. The brightest flame casts the darkest shadows.” -- ACOK, Davos

I think this is another case of Melisandre simply being wrong, as she was earlier in this scene about the half-rotten onion being worthless, which we later see is false - a half written onion can still be of use by cutting off the rotten half and eating the rest (hat-tip Radio Westeros). Allow me to take up the contrary position: light does not cast shadows, light chases away shadows. Objects standing in the way of light cast shadows. Objects which obstruct the light, like an eclipse. When Melisandre casts shadows, she is blocking the light. I guess no one has ever pointed this out to the R’hllorists? (In all fairness, this JUST occurred to me, after five years of reading these novels… ;))

I probably don’t have to tell you that I am a little skeptical about all this shadow stuff. The Warlocks were servants of shadow and they put on a pretty face, talked a good game… and we know how that turned out. They wanted to use Dany for their own ends, and they fed her a cocktail of cryptic truths and sweet lies to ensnare her. I tend to trust the judgement of Davos in general, as he’s one of the few characters with a moral compass that most of us can relate to and appreciate.

In all seriousness, I believe what is going on here is simply that the heart of summer, the heart of fire, was corrupted and shadowed and transformed into the shadowlands, the Shadow by which Asshai sits. This may well mean that all fire magic on Planetos is corrupted, or tainted (please nobody say Robert Jordan... but yeah). :bowdown: (r.i.p.) This means that practitioners of fire, like Melisandre, are actually using “shadow fire,” which I think is consistent with what actually see from her, magic-wise. Most likely, Melisandre does not realize this fully, and probably believes her own line about shadows being servants of the light. In fact, I think the entire R’hllorist religion is essentially deceived about their god, perceiving him as the “ Lord of Light.” They have a more honest term they use far less often - "god of flame and shadow” - but in general I think they play up the light part, when in truth their magic is mostly shadow.

Venturing further into the realm of the speculative, we have to ask the question: was the R’hllorist religion started and / or shaped by CoSW cultists, as a kind of PR campaign for the Shadow and their shadow magic-wielding Bloodstone Emperor, Azor Ahai? I mean, it makes a certain amount of sense - the name “Bloodstone Emperor” kind of carried a few negative connotations in that area after the Long Night, so they eventually recast him as the hero and started a more mainstream-acceptable religion (Starry Wisdom meetings not really being age-appropriate for the kiddos, I am thinking).

Quaith on the other hand doesn’t hide her connection with the Shadow and Asshai. Instead, she tries to sell Daenerys on "passing beneath the shadow" being a path to reach the light. This is more consistent with a CoSW true believer - embracing the Shadow as a means to an end, as the Bloodstone Emperor did.

There’s an interesting theological difference here between these two magicians who work with shadow. The servants of R’hllor, "god of flame and shadow,” associate fire with shadow, presenting them as teammates fighting against the true enemy, the darkness. Meanwhile Quaithe presents light and shadow as opposites, listing light and shadow in a series of opposite things - north and south, east and west, forward and back, light and shadow. Quaithe is right, I think - shadow is a form of darkness, the opposite of light.

What we don’t know is whether Quaithe really believes what she is saying about shadow being a way of reaching the light, or if she even wants Dany to reach the light - she could be phrasing things in a way that she knows will be convincing to Dany. What we do know, unambiguously, about Quaithe’s agenda is that she wants Daenerys Targaryen to fully embrace her dragon nature - it’s basically the common theme in all of the various Quaithe visions and communications. But as with Marwyn, we have to ask the question Dany is asking herself: what will this mean? She sums up the conundrum nicely in A Storm of Swords:

And there was Quaithe of the Shadow, that strange woman in the red lacquer mask with all her cryptic counsel. Was she an enemy too, or only a dangerous friend? Dany could not say.

Like Marwyn, Quaithe is using glass candles extensively. I’m quoting a bit before and after the relevant line for context:

A bath will help soothe me . She padded barefoot through the grass to her terrace pool. The water felt cool on her skin, raising goosebumps. Little fish nibbled at her arms and legs. She closed her eyes and floated. A soft rustle made her open them again. She sat up with a soft splash. “Missandei?” she called. “Irri? Jhiqui?”

“They sleep,” came the answer. A woman stood under the persimmon tree, clad in a hooded robe that brushed the grass. Beneath the hood, her face seemed hard and shiny. She is wearing a mask , Dany knew, a wooden mask finished in dark red lacquer.

“Quaithe? Am I dreaming?” She pinched her ear and winced at the pain. “I dreamt of you on Balerion , when first we came to Astapor.”

You did not dream. Then or now.”

“What are you doing here? How did you get past my guards?”

“I came another way. Your guards never saw me.”

“If I call out, they will kill you.”

“They will swear to you that I am not here.”

“ Are you here?”

No. Hear me, Daenerys Targaryen. The glass candles are burning.”

Quaithe is using glass candles to do exactly what Marwyn says they can do - remote communication. The rest of the quote:

Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun’s son and the mummer’s dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal.”

“Reznak? Why should I fear him?” Dany rose from the pool. Water trickled down her legs, and gooseflesh covered her arms in the cool night air. “If you have some warning for me, speak plainly. What do you want of me, Quaithe?”

Moonlight shone in the woman’s eyes. “To show you the way.”

“I remember the way. I go north to go south, east to go west, back to go forward. And to touch the light I have to pass beneath the shadow.” She squeezed the water from her silvery hair. “I am half- sick of riddling. In Qarth I was a beggar, but here I am a queen. I command you— ”

“Daenerys . Remember the Undying. Remember who you are.”

“The blood of the dragon.” But my dragons are roaring in the darkness . “I remember the Undying. Child of three , they called me. Three mounts they promised me, three fires, and three treasons. One for blood and one for gold and one for …”

“Your Grace?” Missandei stood in the door of the queen’s bedchamber, a lantern in her hand. “Who are you talking to?”

Dany glanced back toward the persimmon tree. There was no woman there. No hooded robe, no lacquer mask, no Quaithe. A shadow. A memory. No one. She was the blood of the dragon, but Ser Barristan had warned her that in that blood there was a taint. Could I be going mad? They had called her father mad, once. “I was praying,” she told the Naathi girl. “It will be light soon. I had best eat something, before court.”

“I will bring you food to break your fast.”

Alone again, Dany went all the way around the pyramid in hopes of finding Quaithe, past the burned trees and scorched earth where her men had tried to capture Drogon. But the only sound was the wind in the fruit trees, and the only creatures in the gardens were a few pale moths. -- ADWD, Daenerys

It certainly appears as if Quaithe is right, that this is not a dream Dany is experiencing. Daenerys is still speaking to Quaithe at the moment when she hears Missandei’s voice, and after speaking with her, Dany immediately walks around the pyramid looking for a physical trace of Quaithe. She seems to be awake the whole time here. Marwyn the Mage says the candles allow sorcerers to "speak to one another half a world apart, seated before their candle," and that's just what Quaithe is doing. (I picture Quaithe in a dark room of greasy stone in some dank corner of Asshai, huddled before her candle in some kind of trance, while eyeless men hold a trey of tea and biscuits in the background... something like that.) This is interesting - for Quaithe to be able to project herself into the real world like that shows an apparent high level of proficiency with the glass candles.

Knowing that glass candles can be used to "enter a man’s dreams and give him visions," the question must be asked: is Quaithe actually entering Daenerys’s dreams as well? Or even... planting those dreams inside her head? That's kind of chilling, to think that some or all of Dany's dreams are being implanted by a Shadowbinder in Asshai via glass candle (hat-tip to Mithras and his dark imagination :devil: ). Take a look at Daenerys's dream aboard the great cog Balerion, which actually occurred before the scene atop the pyramid that we just quoted above (i.e. Dany does not yet know that Quaithe can communicate remotely via candles):

That night she dreamt that she was Rhaegar, riding to the Trident. But she was mounted on a dragon, not a horse. When she saw the Usurper’s rebel host across the river they were armored all in ice, but she bathed them in dragonfire and they melted away like dew and turned the Trident into a torrent. Some small part of her knew that she was dreaming, but another part exulted. This is how it was meant to be. The other was a nightmare, and I have only now awakened.

She woke suddenly in the darkness of her cabin, still flush with triumph. Balerion seemed to wake with her, and she heard the faint creak of wood, water lapping against the hull, a footfall on the deck above her head. And something else. Someone was in the cabin with her. “Irri? Jhiqui? Where are you?” Her handmaids did not respond. It was too black to see, but she could hear them breathing. “Jorah, is that you?”

“They sleep,” a woman said. “They all sleep.” The voice was very close. “Even dragons must sleep.”

She is standing over me. “Who’s there?” Dany peered into the darkness. She thought she could see a shadow, the faintest outline of a shape. “What do you want of me?”

“Remember. To go north, you must journey south. To reach the west, you must go east. To go forward you must go back, and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.”

“Quaithe? ” Dany sprung from the bed and threw open the door. Pale yellow lantern light flooded the cabin, and Irri and Jhiqui sat up sleepily.

“ Khaleesi? ” murmured Jhiqui, rubbing her eyes. Viserion woke and opened his jaws, and a puff of flame brightened even the darkest corners. There was no sign of a woman in a red lacquer mask. “ Khaleesi, are you unwell?” asked Jhiqui.

“A dream.” Dany shook her head. “I dreamed a dream, no more." -- ASOS, Daenerys

It's kind of hard to call this coincidence. Dany dreams of "becoming the dragon" - flying on dragonback, melting the usurper's ice warriors, and thinks "this is how it was meant to be." That's definitely in line with the Quaithe agenda. And then she wakes to Quaithe's projected image standing over her, murmuring her cryptic warnings about embracing the shadow, etc. It's almost like she is providing two halves of a lesson - a metaphor delivered as a dream followed by a verbal lesson to drive the point home.

I'm actually playing coy here; there's concrete proof of Quaithe implanting visions in Daenerys's mind at the end of A Dance with Dragons. We already took a look at part of this passage above, but we were paying attention to Quaithe’s mask of starlight. But now, read the whole passage here and remember that this is a dream, which Quaithe projects herself into as smooth as, well, summer silk. At this point in the story, Daenerys has chosen to leave Drogon's new "Dragonstone" and head back to Mereen on foot. She's hungry and exhausted and delirious.

She dreamed. All her cares fell away from her, and all her pains as well, and she seemed to float upward into the sky. She was flying once again, spinning, laughing, dancing, as the stars wheeled around her and whispered secrets in her ear. “To go north, you must journey south. To reach the west, you must go east. To go forward, you must go back. To touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.”

“Quaithe?” Dany called. “Where are you, Quaithe?” Then she saw. Her mask is made of starlight.

“Remember who you are, Daenerys,” the stars whispered in a woman’s voice. “The dragons know. Do you?”

The next morning she woke stiff and sore and aching, with ants crawling on her arms and legs and face. When she realized what they were, she kicked aside the stalks of dry brown grass that had served as her bed and blanket and struggled to her feet. She had bites all over her, little red bumps, itchy and inflamed. Where did all the ants come from? Dany brushed them from her arms and legs and belly. She ran a hand across her stubbly scalp where her hair had burned away, and felt more ants on her head, and one crawling down the back of her neck. She knocked them off and crushed them under her bare feet. There were so many … It turned out that their anthill was on the other side of her wall. She wondered how the ants had managed to climb over it and find her. To them these tumbledown stones must loom as huge as the Wall of Westeros. The biggest wall in all the world, her brother Viserys used to say, as proud as if he’d built it himself.

I’ve included the last paragraph because it appears to be a metaphor for Daenerys fighting Others at the Wall (big hat-tip to Evolett) and it was just too juicy to leave out. You’ll notice they’re climbing over the Wall. Ice Spiders much? Yeah no thank you. But that may be a thing, pretty soon... If you want to creep yourself out read Evolett’s thread about Spider Crabs and Others, and if you really want to have bad dreams read Voice of the First Men’s Hierarchy of Others thread. I think it’s funny that Dany wonders where the ants (Others) come from - join the club Dany, and welcome to the Westeros.org forums. We’ll look forward to your theory about the origins of the Others.

Coming directly on the heels of Quaithe’s “remember who you are / the dragons know” dream implantation, the relevancy to our examination of the possible designs of the Cult of Starry Wisdom for Daenerys seems clear enough: following Quaithe’s advice will lead to Daenerys fighting the Others at the Wall. And it doesn’t sound like it’s going real well - it seems to imply the Others climbing over the Wall to attack Daenerys... although she is stomping them and crushing them, which bodes a bit better for Dany. But again, we see the idea that embracing her “fire and blood” dragon nature is a highly questionable proposition, and certainly will come at some personal cost to Daenerys. However, I’m not presuming that Daenerys should deny her dragon nature, as it may be a necessary ‘evil.’ Perhaps she must embrace her dragon nature, but control it and point it the right way. I think it’s a fascinating internal conflict, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

At this point in our exploration of the Cult of Starry Wisdom, let’s sum up. Marwyn and Quaithe both obtained most if not all of their magical knowledge from Asshai, which seems to be one of the only places one can learn about glass candles. They are the only two characters we see that using the glass candles. They both have designs on Daenerys, and their agendas seems similar: to use Daenerys as a weapon, sharpening her and pitting her against the Others ( a nice parallel to the running theme of Jon as a weapon). Both show signs of Starry Wisdom involvement, especially Quaithe with her mask of starlight. It seems that Quaithe is implanting at least some of Daenerys’s dreams, all of which serve to encourage her embrace of her dragon nature. In light of this, someone should probably do a write-up scrutinizing all of Daenerys’s dreams to see how much of them seem to serve Quaithe’s agenda and what we can learn. I’ve noticed a pattern of Daenerys waking up feeling absolutely awful after one of these Quaithe contacts - could this be a subtle clue from Martin?

So, just how far back does Quaithe's influence in Dany's dreams go? What about all her dreams in the very first book? It's far from clear, but there is a pretty decent hint at the end of Daenery’s “wake the dragon" / miscarriage dream from A Game of Thrones, the one where she sees our beloved gemstone-eyed kingly ghosts. Note the references to shadow and terror and the whispering stars:

The door loomed before her, the red door, so close, so close, the hall was a blur around her, the cold receding behind. And now the stone was gone and she flew across the Dothraki sea, high and higher, the green rippling beneath, and all that lived and breathed fled in terror from the shadow of her wings. She could smell home, she could see it, there, just beyond that door, green fields and great stone houses and arms to keep her warm, there. She threw open the door.

“… the dragon …”

And saw her brother Rhaegar, mounted on a stallion as black as his armor. Fire glimmered red through the narrow eye slit of his helm.

“The last dragon,” Ser Jorah’s voice whispered faintly. “The last, the last.” Dany lifted his polished black visor. The face within was her own.

After that, for a long time, there was only the pain, the fire within her, and the whisperings of stars. S he woke to the taste of ashes. “No,” she moaned, “no, please.”

“Khaleesi?” Jhiqui hovered over her, a frightened doe. The tent was drenched in shadow, still and close. Flakes of ash drifted upward from a brazier, and Dany followed them with her eyes through the smoke hole above. Flying, she thought. I had wings, I was flying. But it was only a dream.

“Help me,” she whispered, struggling to rise. “Bring me …” Her voice was raw as a wound, and she could not think what she wanted. Why did she hurt so much? It was as if her body had been torn to pieces and remade from the scraps. --AGOT, Daenerys

It’s interesting that George uses the specific phrase “the fire was in her” - an exact for match for Melisandre’s black blood / fire transformation experience in ADWD. Daenerys feels the fire in her as her unborn son is essentially consumed as an offering to the dragons that are waiting to be born. The entire process, starting with this offering and concluding with Daenerys's symbolic fire death in Drogo's pyre and waking 3 dragons from stone, is a detailed metaphor for the death of the fire moon. Sacrificing itself to protect the earth, the fire moon (wife of sun) is consumed in the sun's fire (the fiery comet being perceived as an extension of the sun), and three flaming moon meteors are born, streaking towards the surface of Planetos. Daenerys, moon of Drogo's life, is burnt and symbolically sacrificed in Drogo's pyre (Drogo being Dany's sun and stars, her solar husband) to birth three dragons. Melisandre's "fire was inside her" experience offers further metaphorical commentary on the death of the fire moon: the fire is inside her, transforming her into a fire entity and sacrificing her humanity, the black blood flows, and she has visions of skulls, death, a dark tide, and Azor Ahai. There’s another nice juicy astronomy hint there at the end - Daenerys's body has been torn to pieces and remade from scraps. Oh, you poor, poor fire moon, all torn to pieces. I wonder what the implications are of being remade from scraps?

Again, we see the synergy of the astronomy metaphor and the events of the book which contain the metaphor.

Looking for signs of Quaithe interference in this most significant of Daenerys's dreams, we note the phrase "the whisperings of stars," a match the language used in ADWD when Quaithe appears in her mask of starlight: "the stars wheeled around her and whispered secrets in her ear,” and then "the stars whispered in a woman’s voice.”

When we look at the content of this entire dream, we find that it is consistent with the theme of all of Quaithe's communications - Daenerys must wake the dragon. This doesn't mean this entire dream definitely came from Quaithe, but nothing seems to rule it out either. The whispering stars could simply be foreshadowing, or the actual stars themselves attempting to give Dany their starry wisdom, but it could also be Quaithe's early efforts at reaching Daenerys via dream, which are limited by the lack of magic in the world.

The main argument against this being a Quaithe communication has to do with this idea, that magic seems to have only returned to Planetos with the simultaneous occurrence of the birth of Dany's Dragons and the appearance of the red comet. However, if any magic did exist to power even a limited glass candle usage, it would surely be found in Asshai, where they seem to have preserved the knowledge of their use, and therefore candles themselves, in all likelihood.

In A Clash of Kings, Quaithe appears to Dany in person in the market of Qarth, the last time she does so, and explains the connection of magic to Daenerys's dragons. There are some important implications for glass candle use here, see if you can spot them (I'll hold off on the bold text):

When the fiery ladder stood forty feet high, the mage leapt forward and began to climb it, scrambling up hand over hand as quick as a monkey. Each rung he touched dissolved behind him, leaving no more than a wisp of silver smoke. When he reached the top, the ladder was gone and so was he. “A fine trick,” announced Jhogo with admiration.

“No trick,” a woman said in the Common Tongue.

Dany had not noticed Quaithe in the crowd, yet there she stood, eyes wet and shiny behind the implacable red lacquer mask. “What mean you, my lady?”

“Half a year gone, that man could scarcely wake fire from dragonglass. He had some small skill with powders and wildfire, sufficient to entrance a crowd while his cutpurses did their work. He could walk across hot coals and make burning roses bloom in the air, but he could no more aspire to climb the fiery ladder than a common fisherman could hope to catch a kraken in his nets.”

Dany looked uneasily at where the ladder had stood. Even the smoke was gone now, and the crowd was breaking up, each man going about his business. In a moment more than a few would find their purses flat and empty. “And now?”

“And now his powers grow, Khaleesi. And you are the cause of it.”

“Me?” She laughed. “How could that be?”

The woman stepped closer and lay two fingers on Dany’s wrist. “You are the Mother of Dragons, are you not?”

“She is, and no spawn of shadows may touch her.” Jhogo brushed Quaithe’s fingers away with the handle of his whip.

The woman took a step backward. “You must leave this city soon, Daenerys Targaryen, or you will never be permitted to leave it at all.”

Dany’s wrist still tingled where Quaithe had touched her. “Where would you have me go?” she asked.

“To go north, you must journey south. To reach the west, you must go east. To go forward you must go back, and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.”

Asshai, Dany thought. She would have me go to Asshai. “Will the Asshai’i give me an army?” she demanded. “Will there be gold for me in Asshai? Will there be ships? What is there in Asshai that I will not find in Qarth?”

“Truth,” said the woman in the mask. And bowing, she faded back into the crowd.

Rakharo snorted contempt through his drooping black mustachios. “ Khaleesi , better a man should swallow scorpions than trust in the spawn of shadows, who dare not show their face beneath the sun. It is known.”

“It is known,” Aggo agreed.

Xaro Xhoan Daxos had watched the whole exchange from his cushions. When Dany climbed back into the palanquin beside him, he said, “Your savages are wiser than they know. Such truths as the Asshai’i hoard are not like to make you smile.” Then he pressed another cup of wine on her, and spoke of love and lust and other trifles all the way back to his manse.

Daenerys’s birthing of dragons into the world has increased the magic available to this firemage, and presumably all practitioners of fire magic, according to Quaithe. It’s unclear if this is meant to indicate fire magic only or all magic in general. The this is an interesting concept, but nestled within its folds is our clue about glass candle use - before Daenerys’s dragons hatched, he was still able to wake fire from dragon glass, if only barely. It’s unclear if waking fire from dragon glass indicates the ability to perform remote communication or dream implantation, but it does indicate that at least here in Qarth, some amount of magic could still be performed with dragon glass even before the birth of the dragons. This in turn opens up the possibility that Dany’s dreams prior to the dragons’ birth may have some unknown amount of Quaithe influence.

When you consider that Bran has had dreams implanted in his head from the very beginning of the story by Bloodraven, it would actually make a great deal of sense if the same were to be true of Daenerys and Quaithe. If Jon Snow represents the union of Ice and Fire via his probable parentage of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, and Daenerys represents Fire, via her status as ‘Mother of Dragons’ and ‘Bride of Fire,’ then Bran would seem a great candidate to represent Ice, or perhaps even Ice and Earth.

Another potentially massive layer of synergy between Daenerys / Quiathe and Bran Bloodraven takes the form of two of my very favorite theories out there. The first, proposed by Radio Westeros, is one which I buy basically as much as I buy R+L=J: Melisandre is the daughter of Bloodraven and Shiera Seastar. I think the evidence is very convincing, but take a look for yourself and see what you think. The second theory is simply another layer to this - that Quaithe is in fact Shiera Seastar. I found a good write up of this theory by Queen‍‍‍‍‍‍ Alysanne‍‍™, although she notes the idea had been floating around (please share any relevant links, TY ;). It’s not as ironclad, but it has a lot of good evidence, so again take a look and decide for yourself. Melisandre and Shiera are both linked to prolonging their life and beauty with magic, so these ideas are actually more plausible than they may appear at first glance. Shiera, the Star of the Sea, has many parallels with Daenerys, and the word ‘shiera’ is actually very similar to the Dothraki word for comet, translated as 'bleeding star': 'shierak qiya.'

I am mainly pointing these theories out here because if true, both Daenerys and Bran are being ‘guided’ by one of the great bastards - and Jon Snow is now coming under the influence of their potential daughter, Melisandre. It’s an interesting two-layered magical triangle, right at the heart of the story.

Returing to this scene in the market, the other clue about glass candle magic, or perhaps shadow magic more broadly, is Quaithe’s touch on Dany’s wrist. Two things show us that this is significant. First, Jhogo’s reaction, swift and emphatic - it seems common knowledge among the Dothraki that you never want to let a ‘spawn of shadows’ make physical contact with you. The second is clear enough: "Dany’s wrist still tingled where Quaithe had touched her.” It’s magic.

So what’s going here, magically? The best guess seems to be that Quaithe is ‘marking’ Dany in some way, probably to facilitate easier contact with her in the future (hat-tip Mithras again). After this scene, Quaithe does not appear in the flesh to Daenerys again, but that’s when we start getting the very obvious Quaithe dreams which are immediately followed by Quiathe projecting her astral body into the room and speaking to Dany.

Besides the glass candle info here, there a few other things worthy of note. Quaithe warns Dany to leave Qarth before she is not permitted to leave - and indeed, the Warlocks tried to trap her in their freaky shadow building. That tells something about Quaithe, because both the she and the Warlocks are using shadow magic, but they do not have the same agenda. At the least, we can say they want to use her for different purposes.

Quaithe tells Dany what waits for her in Asshai: truth. Is this the case? It’s interesting that Xaro tells Dany that such truths as she might learn in Asshai will not make her smile - and then he proceeds to tell her what are clearly lies, intended to make her smile. In a way, he’s merely confirming what Quaithe has said, that truth does indeed await in Asshai, but adds the idea that that truth will be unpleasant. But Quaithe never said they would be: “to touch the light, you must pass beneath the shadow."

Finally, Quaithe seems to want Dany to go to Asshai.. in some form, anyway. Martin has said something to the effect that nobody is going to Asshai, or that we won’t get a POV from Asshai. But there’s been some speculation about seeing a bit of it in a dream, vision, or flashback. Might Daenerys obtain this truth waiting for her in Asshai via glass candle vision? Certainly Quaithe could show her, but Daenerys might soon be in possession of a glass candle herself. Marwyn the Mage is on the way to help Dany, and may already be in Slaver’s Bay. We heard that the Citadel posses four glass candles - three black and one green. We saw one in Marwyn’s study, a black one, which he has been using extensively to keep up with things at the Wall and elsewhere. Do you really think he would leave Oldtown and not bring a candle with him? Not bloody likely.

Imagine Daenerys, finally in control of her black dragon; assisted by Tyrion’s knowledge of dragons, Marwyn’s knowledge of magic and the events at the Wall, and the occult starry wisdom of Quaithe; and in possession of a glass candle and the knowledge of how to use it. She’s starting to look like a real Valyrian dragonlord - or is it GeoDawnian dragonlord? Or perhaps even..

:devil: Bloodstone dragonlord? :devil:

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Thanks everyone for reading, as always!! If the first few people to read will kindly PM me any typos they catch, I would be most grateful. It's hard to copy-edit your own writing very effectively. :cheers:

Also, I highly recommend Blind Beth the Cat Lady's new essay, Illyrio's Fingers. It's a bit ahead of where I am in tracing GeoDawnian fingerprints, but I will eventually touch on Illyrio a bit. Blind Beth, however, has outdone herself on this one. I'm honored to say I provided a teensy-tiny bit of help, so check it out.

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Finally gettin to the good stuff I see :devil:

MUAH HA HA HA!! Every time I put a devil smiley in, I think of you, Voice. And yes, the good stuff. The Quaithe exploration was really freaky... somehow I'm okay with Bloodraven planting dreams in Bran's head, but Quaithe doing the same to Dany.. just seems really creepy. But the important thing is, we see the intersection of the Asshai lore and the current plot of the story - which is really the whole point of exploring the backstory. It's nice to have something a little more directly relevant to the main plot, since I've living in the ancient past here so far. It's really going to be interesting to see Marwyn's impact on Daenerys. I predict Dany will begin to get into sorcery. Jon and Danyboth seem in line for a magical power up here in the next book.. I think our ideas of them will be blown away a little bit by just how magical they become.

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Human-animal Crossbreeding - The largest of the Basilisks is the Isle of Tears, where steep-sided valleys and black bogs hide amongst rugged flint hills and twisted, windswept rocks. On its southern coast stand the broken ruins of a city. Founded by the Old Empire of Ghis , it was known as Gorgai for close to two centuries (or perhaps four; there is some dispute), until the dragonlords captured it in the Third Ghiscari War and renamed it Gorgossos.
By any name, it was an evil place. The dragonlords sent their worst criminals to the Isle of Tears to live out their lives in hard labor. In the dungeons of Gorgossos, torturers devised new torments. In the flesh pits, blood sorcery of the darkest sort was practiced, as beasts were mated to slave women to bring forth twisted half-human children. (TWOIAF)
Its the 800 pound gorilla-human hybrid in the room, but we have to talk about it. The Valyrians, at least at one time, did in fact use magic to crossbreed animals and people. We wont't get into speculation about just exactly what "blood of the dragon" means, except to say that it is suggestive of magical crossbreeding and hybridization. It’s very possible that if some kind of blood connection was made between dragons and people, it was originally made at Asshai, by the GEotD or the Bloodstone Emperor himself.

We are told of other half-human children as well. I can't remember if it was in my hierarchy thread, Evolett's crab thread, or heresy, but I tossed around another, more sinister idea for ice spiders in this regard as well. We are told of Others riding ice spiders as mounts, but it could also be that one variant of Other is a terrible half-human, half-ice spider creature. I'm reminded of the story of Arachne (worth a read). Apply her story to whatever power instigated the Others, and you have another layer of disturbing stuff to haunt your dreams.

Anyway, I digress... These ice spider-riding Others might simply have eight spiderific legs, a nice bulbous spider abdomen, and nice blue spinnerets to emit their icy webbing. These spiders-Others might be accompanied by our garden variety ice spiders "large as hounds." :devil:

Yes, I know I like this stuff way too much... LOL

But however horrific, or unlikely, such a cross-breeding might seem, there is some possible foreshadowing for it to occur. Bran I AGOT:

The man had been taken outside a small holdfast in the hills. Robb thought he was a wildling, his sword sworn to Mance Rayder, the King-beyond-the-Wall. It made Bran's skin prickle to think of it. He remembered the hearth tales Old Nan told them. The wildlings were cruel men, she said, slavers and slayers and thieves. They consorted with giants and ghouls, stole girl children in the dead of night, and drank blood from polished horns. And their women lay with the Others in the Long Night to sire terrible half-human children.

I should add "sweet dreams" to my signature line sometime. LOL

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MUAH HA HA HA!! Every time I put a devil smiley in, I think of you, Voice.


I'm honored! I do take it to heart more than most I think... not sure if that's a good thing LOL

And yes, the good stuff. The Quaithe exploration was really freaky... somehow I'm okay with Bloodraven planting dreams in Bran's head, but Quaithe doing the same to Dany.. just seems really creepy. But the important thing is, we see the intersection of the Asshai lore and the current plot of the story - which is really the whole point of exploring the backstory. It's nice to have something a little more directly relevant to the main plot, since I've living in the ancient past here so far. It's really going to be interesting to see Marwyn's impact on Daenerys. I predict Dany will begin to get into sorcery. Jon and Danyboth seem in line for a magical power up here in the next book.. I think our ideas of them will be blown away a little bit by just how magical they become.

I sort of think Dany will ignore advice, belittle sorcerers, and mayhaps even feed them to her dragons (starting with Mel). Dany embodies a very raw and real form of magic, she has no need for tricks. Just look at what she did with the lessons she learned from MMD, Pyat Pree, etc. If someone comes speaking some mumbo jumbo to her, hopping from one foot to the other, dat fooz gettin burnt!

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That's an interesting idea. But at the same time, she HAS been listening to Quaithe. There a few times (I left this out of the essay) where Dany remembers some Quaithe advice right before making a crucial decision. It's like George is showing us the direct influence she's having. And right now, she's embracing her dragon nature, and when she comes back to Meereen she is going to need advisors really badly. Tyrion is coming, yes, but think about a Maester from the Citadel (she needs one anyway) who also happens to know everything about what is happening in Westeros, has a glass candle, knows a bunch of shit about dragon lore, and wants to HELP her, not kill her child and husband or imprison her in a warlock's shadow shack. I think Marwyn will be very favorably received. And he knows his way around the rough streets - he could be in Meereen already, chillin. I think he's going to be a big player.

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Sure I hear ya. But she is a Targaryen, who learned to rule in a Khalasaar, rather than in the pampered Red Keep. She's realized she's no Mhysa, she's Fire and Blood. I think she'll appreciate a Maester, but once anyone starts trying to push her into the "higher mysteries," they'll find out how high those mysteries fly.

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Hey Voice, check out the scene in ADWD where Dany is dozing in the pond right before Quaithe appears to her- she's getting nibbled by the fish. If the ants were ice spiders or whatever in that other scene, what's going on with the fish here?

"...dead things in the water..."

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Fascinating! Great threads! :cheers:

I wonder the significance of the pool-side persimmon trees in the passage with Dany and Quaithe. In the Food Symbolism thread they suggest that persimmon symbolizes compromise or defeat (submission?). But I don't see the connection here. Or is it a juxtaposition of heeding Quaithe's warning to wake the dragon or the whispering of the persimmon trees that council compromise? What do you think? :dunno:

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Fascinating! Great threads! :cheers:

I wonder the significance of the pool-side persimmon trees in the passage with Dany and Quaithe. In the Food Symbolism thread they suggest that persimmon symbolizes compromise or defeat (submission?). But I don't see the connection here. Or is it a juxtaposition of heeding Quaithe's warning to wake the dragon or the whispering of the persimmon trees that council compromise? What do you think? :dunno:

Thankls for the love, Archmaester Drew. I haven't looked into the food metaphors too much, and I'm totally unfamiliar with the persimmon idea. I do think he's bound to be using food as symbolism, as he does everything else, But I haven't gotten into unravelling it.

Comprimise and defeat could only refer to her decision to marry Hizdahr, so if that's the Persimmon Tree's advice, it is opposite of Quaithe's advice.

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Great stuff as always LmL, I appreciate the shout out.

I am thinking about some stuff so I will come back later if I get something out of it.

While on the persimmon, botany name of it's genus Diospyros means divine or god's fruit. It is used to predict severity of the upcoming winter

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I found it interesting that in Daenerys dream when shes battling at the trident against ice men and the usurper and earlier on u mention jons dream of him in ice armour becoming a usurper.

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I found it interesting that in Daenerys dream when shes battling at the trident against ice men and the usurper and earlier on u mention jons dream of him in ice armour becoming a usurper.

Indeed! I noticed that too, it seems a pretty good match. It's yet another connection between Jon as Azor Ahai and the role of usurper, and it seems to imply the usurper Azor Ahai (Bloodstone E) had something to do with the ice warriors, or bringing a flood. When Dany melts the usurper's troops, the Trident turns to a torrent. Now check out this passage. The Wall is weeping at sunset, and the water in the cracks of the ice is creating an optical illusion:

Jon Snow turned away. The last light of the sun had begun to fade. He watched the cracks along the Wall go from red to grey to black, from streaks of fire to rivers of black ice. Down below, Lady Melisandre would be lighting her nightfire and chanting, Lord of Light, defend us, for the night is dark and full of terrors . “Winter is coming,” Jon said at last, breaking the awkward silence, “and with it the white walkers. The Wall is where we stop them. The Wall was made to stop them … but the Wall must be manned.

-- ADWD, Jon

Remembering that Jon's blue rose grew from a chink in the Wall, we see the red fire / black ice combination (the same from Jon's Azor Ahai dream) in the cracks of the Wall. Thus I conclude that the red fire / black ice seems to represent Jon in some way.

There's also an astronomical layer of meaning, of course.

As the last light of sun fades, the streaks of fire (meteors) trigger rivers of black ice - sounds like an icy flood in the darkness of the Long Night. Melisandre sees a dark tide pouring over a towered fortress in her vision, and there are many other clues about this dark tide / black tide which seems to have flooded Westeros during the Long Night. Returning to the scene, down below (deep under the sea and earth) we have fire - the drowned god, a former fire moon goddess, represented by Melisandre's night fires at the base of the wall.

In a different Jon chapter, he is armored in black ice himself, swinging a red sword as he defends to wall. The one who swung the red sword is Azor Ahai, and he did indeed bring the black tide - being armored in it means he really used it to his advantage, it was his servant. This seems to again be hinting at an alliance between the Bloodstone Emperor and the Deep Ones, who are the personification of the dark tide. The Others come with the cold and winter, the deep ones come with the flood, it seems. I'm still trying to make sense of the Deep Ones role in this - they seem to come with the Others, or at least they did during the LN.

Think about it like this: the moon is always connected to the tides. Additionally, when a large meteor lands in the ocean, it triggers massive tsunamis. George seems to like to use magic as a personification of nature forces, and he's done it again here. So a moon being shattered - that affects the tides, surely. Then the moon, a goddess, actually DROWNS in the ocean (drowned god, anyone?) and triggers a huge flood. The Ironborn connect the drowned god with the Deep Ones ("Deep Ones" being a generic term for Merlings, Selkies, Mermaids, etc) in many ways, direct and metaphorical. They describe the Drowned God as carrying a burning brand from the sea, and the Grey King having stolen fire from the gods and married a mermaid. Again we see the red streaks of fire - lightning, this time - followed by sex with aquatic peoples.

Here's another great quote connecting the dark tide to Deep Ones:

Visions danced before her, gold and scarlet, flickering, forming and melting and dissolving into one another, shapes strange and terrifying and seductive. She saw the eyeless faces again, staring out at her from sockets weeping blood. Then the towers by the sea, crumbling as the dark tide came sweeping over them, rising from the depths. Shadows in the shape of skulls, skulls that turned to mist, bodies locked together in lust, writhing and rolling and clawing. Through curtains of fire great winged shadows wheeled against a hard blue sky. The girl. I must find the girl again, the grey girl on the dying horse . Jon Snow would expect that of her, and soon. It would not be enough to say the girl was fleeing. He would want more, he would want the when and where, and she did not have that for him. She had seen the girl only once. A girl as grey as ash, and even as I watched she crumbled and blew away . A face took shape within the hearth. Stannis? she thought, for just a moment … but no, these were not his features. A wooden face, corpse white . Was this the enemy? A thousand red eyes floated in the rising flames. He sees me . Beside him, a boy with a wolf’s face threw back his head and howled. The red priestess shuddered. Blood trickled down her thigh, black and smoking. The fire was inside her, an agony, an ecstasy, filling her, searing her, transforming her. Shimmers of heat traced patterns on her skin, insistent as a lover’s hand. -- ADWD, Melisandre

The dark tide is a shadows, skulls, mist, bodies locked together in lust, writhing and rolling and clawing. What does that sound like to you? A rolling tide of Deep Ones rape, that's what. The Ironborn tradition of thralldom and salt wives goes all the way back to when the Deep Ones raped the first Ironborn, I am thinking, and the Ironborn eventually came to worship their oppressors - just like Theon. Heh. That Seastone chair may well be a warning - we'll come and fucking rape you again if you don't watch out. Think of the fishy people on the Thousand Islands - they have fish head stone gods carved below the waterline which only appear at low tide - and they are TERRIFIED of the water. They will not touch it. We hear about Merlings and Selkies wiping out the original Lorathi. These Deep Ones are not nice. That much I am sure of.

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