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Astronomy of Ice and Fire: Children of the Dawn, Part Two

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Greetings to you, lords and ladies of the peanut gallery! You’ve found your way to Part 2 of my essay on the possible descendants of the Great Empire of the Dawn, whom I believe to be the ancient race of dragonlords from Asshai who first tamed dragons and who came before the Valyrians. I laid out all the evidence to support his claim in Fingerprints of the Dawn. I recommend reading this as well as Children of the Dawn Part 1 before reading this one, but it’s not absolutely necessary.

The above essays about the Great Empire of the Dawn are themselves part of a larger series focused on uncovering the astronomy which lies at the root of all of the in-world legends of A Song of Ice and Fire. These astronomy essays are my calling card, and I will occasionally make references to astronomy in this essay. If you like what you see here, please check those out and you’ll have a general idea of where I am coming from and my approach to ASOIAF analysis. I’m essentially applying what I know of comparative mythology and archeoastronomy to our favorite book series.

The Astronomy Behind the Legends of Ice and Fire

The Solar Cycle and the Three Attempts to Forge Lightbringer

The Bloodstone Compendium

As I said at the beginning of CotD pt.1, I 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. 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. As with CotD pt.1, 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.
The trail of fingerprints start here:
How long the darkness endured no man can say, but all agree it was only when a great warrior - known variously as [titles, titles] - arose to give courage to the race of men and lead the virtuous into battle with his blazing sword Lightbringer that the darkness was put to rout, and light and love returned once more to the world.

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. Or so of the men and women of the further east believe. (TWOAIF)
------======o))) THE DOTHRAKI (((o======------
Looking for evidence of tribes of men going their own way, we find it first with the Dothraki, who have a vague memory of migrating westward:

The ancestors of the Dothraki and the other horse peoples of the grasslands knew better, for some remembered crossing those mountains from the lands that lay beyond. Did they come west in hopes of fairer fields and plenty or in search of conquest, or were they fleeing before some savage foe? Their tales do not agree, so we may never know, but of their travails we may be certain, for they left their bones behind to mark their passing. The bones of men, the bones of horses, the bones of giants and camels and oxen, of every sort of beast and bird and monster, all can be found amongst these savage peaks. From them the mountains take their name: The Bones. (TWOAIF)
The fact that bones of every kind of animal as well as those of people litter the mountain passes suggests a total migration of a population. The peoples that were fleeing something in the east took all their animals with them, along with their women and children, of course. This reminds me very much of the Wildling migration towards the wall.

Their encampment had no plan to it; he saw no ditches, no sharpened stakes, no neat rows of horse lines. Everywhere crude earthen shelters and hide tents sprouted haphazardly, like a pox on the face of the earth. He spied untidy mounds of hay, smelled goats and sheep, horses and pigs, dogs in great profusion. Tendrils of dark smoke rose from a thousand cookfires. This is no army, no more than it is a town. This is a whole people come together. (ACOK, Jon)
The Wildlings were fleeing from the Others – an enemy so terrifying that the they felt their only choice was to throw themselves against a seven-hundred foot foot ice wall in a basically hopeless attack. Later when Jon is among the Free Folk, he sees women and children as well as their livestock animals. The Wildlings fled with with every man, woman, child, horse, pig, goat and dog - everything they valued carried on their backs, everything else left behind, forgotten, and abandoned. That kind of wholesale migration, the kind where you don't even stop for the sick or dying, makes sense when you are fleeing from an enemy as terrifying as the Others.

So what does this tell us about those fugitive ancestors of the Dothraki and others who fled west through the Bones mountains and left behind the skeletons of people and every kind of animal? Given what we know about the Long Night and the Bloodstone Emperor's reign of terror, it makes sense to conclude these refugees where every bit as desperate as the Wildlings were, and fleeing a danger every bit as terrible. The famine and anarchy alone would be enough to force a long, desperate migration, but I think the Bloodstone Emperor should potentially viewed as the kind of horrific dictator, like a Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot, that people would be desperate to flee from as well. There is certainly evidence of human-animal hybrid experiments associated with dark magic and greasy stone, notably at Gorgai (Gorgossos) in the Basilisk Isles, so the Bloodstone Emperor may have subjecting people to truly horrific magical experiments and tortures. He himself took a "Tiger-woman" to bride, another indication that human-animal hybrids were on the agenda. I’m not prejudiced against tiger-people or anything, but presented in the context of all his other actions, it was likely an unnatural union in some way, probably requiring dark sorcery.

The phrase "every kind of beast, bird, and monster" implies that the wild animals themselves were fleeing - that speaks of an environmental disaster, which also fits with what we know about the Long Night, but it must have been especially bad east of the Bones mountains.

The main cultural tie from the Dothraki to the GEotD culture is their astronomy-based religion. They have an extreme reverence for stars, whom they believe to be the souls of their dead ancestors.
The Dothraki believed the stars were horses made of fire, a great herd that galloped across the sky by night. (AGOT, Daenerys)
The crows came in the blue dusk, with the evening stars. “The Dothraki believe the stars are spirits of the valiant dead,” Theon said. Maester Luwin had told him that, a long time ago.
(ACOK, Theon)
This fiery horde, made up of their ancestors, and the Mother of Mountains with its black lake, the 'womb of the world,' are the two most important and sacred concepts in the Dothraki religion. Drogo swears by them when he vows to retake the Seven Kingdoms for Daenerys, and and indeed all important things must be done in the view of the stars:
"This I swear before the Mother of Mountains, as the stars look down in witness.”
(AGOT, Daenerys)
The memory of their first ride was with her when she led him out into the darkness, for the Dothraki believed that all things of importance in a man’s life must be done beneath the open sky. She told herself that there were powers stronger than hatred, and spells older and truer than any the maegi had learned in Asshai. The night was black and moonless, but overhead a million stars burned bright. She took that for an omen. (AGOT, Daenerys)
Drogo is Daenerys's "sun and stars," while Dany is the "moon" of his life, indicating their reverence for the other heavenly bodies as well as their perception of the sun and moon as husband and wife, which Irri and Jiqui confirm for us in book one ("It is known”). This could certainly be a hearkening back to the astronomy-related religion of the GEotD. The God-Emperor "ascended to the stars to join his forebears” at the end of his life, which would seem an exact match for the Dothraki beliefs regarding stars.
As an astronomy aside, we see a million stars burning bright (“a thousand thousand dragons poured forth”) at the same time as the night was black and moonless (a nod to the moon’s destruction). Dany, symbolizing the destroyed fire moon, is about to burn herself and give birth to three dragons. Drogo is the sun, and his seed in part paid for the lives of the dragons that woke, just as the sun impregnated the moon with dragon seed. This whole chapter is pretty rich, and will eventually receive further scrutiny.
Let’s take a look at the Dothraki funeral ceremony, as it’s really poetic and beautiful as well as being laden with astronomy. These quotes are pulled from the same chapter, in the order they appear.
They took the two straightest trees, hacked the limbs and branches from them, skinned off their bark, and split them, laying the logs in a square. Its center they filled with straw, brush, bark shavings, and bundles of dry grass. Rakharo chose a stallion from the small herd that remained to them; he was not the equal of Khal Drogo’s red, but few horses were. In the center of the square, Aggo fed him a withered apple and dropped him in an instant with an axe blow between the eyes.
[...]
Over the carcass of the horse, they built a platform of hewn logs; trunks of smaller trees and limbs from the greater, and the thickest straightest branches they could find. They laid the wood east to west, from sunrise to sunset.
[...]
The third level of the platform was woven of branches no thicker than a finger, and covered with dry leaves and twigs. They laid them north to south, from ice to fire, and piled them high with soft cushions and sleeping silks.
After preparing Drogo's body by washing, braiding, scented oils, etc, his body is placed on the pyre.
Then there was nothing to be done but watch the sun and look for the first star. When a horselord dies, his horse is slain with him, so he might ride proud into the night lands. The bodies are burned beneath the open sky, and the khal rises on his fiery steed to take his place among the stars. The more fiercely the man burned in life, the brighter his star will shine in the darkness.
Jhogo spied it first. “There,” he said in a hushed voice. Dany looked and saw it, low in the east. The first star was a comet, burning red. Bloodred; fire red; the dragon’s tail. She could not have asked for a stronger sign. Dany took the torch from Aggo’s hand and thrust it between the logs. (AGOT, Daenerys)
This is one of the only three places in the series where the phrase “ice and fire” is used in some form - the only other ones are the oath Jojen and Meera swear to Bran (“I swear it by earth and water, I swear it by bronze and iron, We swear it by ice and fire”), and Rhaegar’s comments about his son’s song being "the song of ice and fire," so that seems significant. The crannogs are the closest to the children of the first and posses ancient knowledge forgotten by other men, and Rhaegar was reading all the books of prophecy that we would all kill to look at - both sources of ancient knowledge. This is a very old concept, and a deeply magical one. The pyre is aligned to the cardinal directions, the afore-mentioned ice and fire for north and south, and sunrise and sunset for east and west. This is a staple concept of pagan / hermetic magical traditions, and it is an intrinsically astronomical concept.
George is also giving us some symbolic clues here to associate the Dothraki flaming steeds in the sky and dragons, as Drogo’s fiery steed turns out to be the red comet, the dragon’s tail. There’s actually another whole layer to this concept, as the dragons themselves may contain the souls of dead dragonlords, as J Stargaryen has discovered by decoding the puzzle of the Valyrian-looking lemurs of the Norvoshi forests. The word “lemur” means “ghost,” and it seems the point of George including lemurs that look like Valyrians in the story is to associate Valyrians with ghosts, which may well have implications for the meaning of "blood of the dragon" and the nature of dragon-bonding.
The Dothraki have strong beliefs concerning blood magic. Specifically, they're against it:
“Bring his horse,” Mirri Maz Duur commanded, and so it was done. Jhogo led the great red stallion into the tent.
When the animal caught the scent of death, he screamed and reared, rolling his eyes. It took three men to subdue him. “What do you mean to do?” Dany asked her.
“We need the blood,” Mirri answered. “That is the way.”
Jhogo edged back, his hand on his arakh . He was a youth of sixteen years, whip- thin, fearless, quick to laugh, with the faint shadow of his first mustachio on his upper lip. He fell to his knees before her. “Khaleesi,” he pleaded, “you must not do this thing. Let me kill this maegi .”
“Kill her and you kill your khal ,” Dany said.
This is bloodmagic,” he said. “It is forbidden.” (AGOT, Daenerys)
In retrospect, I think most would agree the Dothraki were right to mistrust the maegi Mirri Maz Dur and blood magic in general. This seems like a very strong, deep-seeded cultural prohibition - every Dothraki more or less expresses the same opinion about blood magic and the maegi's involvement. When Dany sets the ceremony in motion to try to resurrect / save Drogo, the Dothraki desert her almost to a man. The birthing women refuse to go near Dany, calling her cursed. Where might they have acquired this extreme loathing of blood magic? Perhaps from their ancestor’s experience with the Blood Betrayal, where the Bloodstone Emperor, Azor Ahai, sacrificed his sister-wife, the Amethyst Empress Nissa Nissa, in a creepy blood magic ritual? One which resulted in a reign of terror, enslavement, torture, and the Long Night? That certainly would explain it.
As for eye color, the very first time Dany sees Drogo, in her very first chapter:
Khal Drogo has never lost a fight. He is Aegon the Dragonlord come again, and you will be his queen.” Dany looked at Khal Drogo. His face was hard and cruel, his eyes as cold and dark as onyx. (AGOT, Daenerys)
In this scene, Dany was comparing the cruelty of Viserys to Drogo's looks. Later, when Drogo's own cruelty is turned against Viserys, we get another Drogo's-eyes-as-onyx reference:
Even now Viserys did not understand. “No,” he shouted, “you cannot touch me, I am the dragon, the dragon , and I will be crowned! ” Khal Drogo unfastened his belt. The medallions were pure gold, massive and ornate, each one as large as a man’s hand. He shouted a command. Cook slaves pulled a heavy iron stew pot from the firepit, dumped the stew onto the ground, and returned the pot to the flames. Drogo tossed in the belt and watched without expression as the medallions turned red and began to lose their shape. She could see fires dancing in the onyx of his eyes. (AGOT, Daenerys)
As a nod to the astronomy side of things, note the comparison of Drogo to Aegon the Dragonlord in the first scene and the description of his onyx eyes containing dancing fire as he prepared to kill the "dragon" Viserys. ("Viserys is less than the shadow of a snake.”) Both ideas are consistent with the idea of Drogo playing the role of sun to Daenerys's moon.
The only other person in the series described with onyx eyes is Ser Alliser Thorne. There can only be one rational conclusion to draw here: Ser Alliser is Azor Ahai reborn. I mean... in retrospect, isn't it obvious ? Kidding aside, I think the reasoning here is that both Ser Alliser and Drogo are the first "trial" or "initiation" for Jon and Dany's parallel arcs, and the onyx is used to speak of hardness and sternness. However, it's interesting that there are a lot of black-eyed people, but nobody else besides these two ever gets the "onyx eyes." House Thorne probably does not have GEotD roots, but we know the Dothraki originated in the lands under control of the GEotD, so Drogo’s onyx eyes may not be a coincidence.
Are you ready to get weird? Here we go. The stories of centaurs in the post-Fisher Queen-era grasslands may be a description of horse-skinchangers. Don’t laugh - what do you have against horses? How are they different from wolves or ravens or cats? They’re not. TWOIAF speculates that the accounts of centaurs are merely descriptions of the first horse riders by people who had never seen them before, but what if they were just skinchagers who bonded with horses? All we need is a source of skinchanger genes close by these supposed “centaurs.” And sure enough, these centaurs or horse- riders lived just south of the forests of the Ifequevron, the woods walkers.
The Ifequevron “woods walkers" are almost certainly a close relative of the children of the forest, as the maesters believe:
The God-Kings of Ib, before their fall, did succeed in conquering and colonizing a huge swath of northern Essos immediately south of Ib itself, a densely wooded region that had formerly been the home of a small, shy forest folk. Some say that the Ibbenese extinguished this gentle race, whilst others believe they went into hiding in the deeper woods or fled to other lands. The Dothraki still call the great forest along the northern coast the Kingdom of the Ifequevron, the name by which they knew the the vanished forest-dwellers.
The fabled Sea Snake, Corlys Velaryon, Lord of the Tides, was the first Westerosi to visit these woods. After his return from the Thousand Islands, he wrote of carved trees, haunted grottoes, and strange silences. A later traveler, the merchant-adventurer Bryan of Oldtown, captain of the cog Spearshaker, provided an account of his own journey across the Shivering Sea. He reported that the Dothraki name for the lost people meant “those who walk in the woods.” None of the Ibbenese Bryan of Oldtown met could say they had ever seen a woods walker, but claimed the little people blessed a household that left offerings of leaf and stone and water overnight. (TWOAIF)
Carved trees, small shy forest folk living in trees and grottoes, reverence for leaf and rock and stone (where the spirits of greenseers and skinchangers go upon true death) - it’s pretty convincing. The Ifequevron are either cotf or close cousins.
The Dothraki revere the Ifequevron "woods walkers" and warred upon their destroyers, the hairy men of Ib:
At its greatest extent, the Ibbenese foothold on Essos was as large as Ib itself and far richer. More and more of the hairy men crossed over from the islands to make their fortunes there, cutting down the trees to put the land under the plow, damming the rivers and streams, mining the hills. Ruling over these domains was Ibbisha fishing village that swelled to become a thriving port and the second city of the Ibbenese, with a deep harbor and high, white walls.
All that ended two hundred years ago with the coming of the Dothraki. The horse lords had hitherto shunned the forests of the northern coast: some say this was because of their reverence for the vanished woods walkers, others because they feared their powers. Whatever the truth, the Dothralki did not fear the men of Ib. Khal after khal began to make incursions into Ibbenese territories, overrunning the farms and fields and holdfasts of the hairy men with fire and steel, putting the males to the sword while carrying off their wives into slavery. (TWOAIF)
Eventually a wonderful fellow named Khal Dhako, the dragon of the north, sacked and burned New Ibbish, more or less ending it’s glory days and any major Ibbenese presence on the mainland. The point here is that the Dothraki seem to have a connection with the woods walkers, and regard them with reverence, respect, or fear (or some combination of the three). The Ibbenese cut down the trees of the woods walkers - presumable including the carved trees - and we know this is a dreadful abomination for the children of the forest in Westeros. The Dothraki apparently thought so too, and wiped out the hairy man presence on Essos proper.
The cotf do not plant or plow the earth - we are told they laughed at Garth Greenhand when he tried to show them how to farm - and perhaps this is where the Dothraki beliefs regarding farming (a big no-no) originate. They considered "the earth to be their mother and think it sinful to cut her flesh with plows and spades and axes." (TWOAIF)
We know that the cotf interbred with humans on Westeros, specifically with the houses that have skinchanger and greensight ability, so there’s no reason to think they might not have done so on Essos. Why did the cotf do so in the north of Westeros, and why did they do here? The reasoning may have even been the same.
The idea of centaurs pops up when Lady Dustin is describing Lyanna and Brandon:
The lantern light in her eyes made them seem as if they were afire. “Brandon was fostered at Barrowton with old Lord Dustin, the father of the one I’d later wed, but he spent most of his time riding the Rills. He loved to ride. His little sister took after him in that. A pair of centaurs, those two." (ADWD, The Turncloak)
Interestingly, Brandon and Lyanna must have been carrying at least a recessive skinchanger ability, as we see that Lyanna and Ned's children manifest the gift. So while calling someone a centaur is a manner of speech expressing a high level of horsemanship, it may also be meant to imply the double meaning of horse-skinchanging.
The Dothraki happen to have a very intense belief (are all their beliefs intense? Seems so..) about the bond between horse and rider - never, under any circumstance, would a man let another ride his horse:
In some khalasars, Jhiqui said, the bloodriders shared the khal ’s wine, his tent, and even his wives, though never his horses. A man’s mount was his own. (AGOT, Daenerys).
Building on this, we see that man and horse are inseparable. The first man rode out of the womb on the first horse, and when a Dothraki dies, a horse must die with him so he can ride in the Nightlands. The stars are a fiery horde of khals riding on fiery horses. In every way, these connections indicate a bond between man and horse that is above all other bonds, even marriage. They are inextricably intertwined - doesn't this suggest a horse-rider skinchanger bond in the past?
Some have speculated that the magical ritual Mirri Maz Dur used to turn Drogo into a vegetable is actually a skinchanger resurrection ceremony.
Mirri Maz Duur chanted words in a tongue that Dany did not know, and a knife appeared in her hand. Dany never saw where it came from. It looked old; hammered red bronze, leaf- shaped, its blade covered with ancient glyphs. The maegi drew it across the stallion’s throat, under the noble head, and the horse screamed and shuddered as the blood poured out of him in a red rush. He would have collapsed, but the men of her khas held him up. “Strength of the mount, go into the rider,” Mirri sang as horse blood swirled into the waters of Drogo’s bath. “Strength of the beast, go into the man.”
When a skinchanger is killed, their soul goes into their animal. If one wanted to resurrect such a recently deceased skinchanger (let's just say he's the main character in a fantasy series who's been stabbed but needs to live), one would need to resurrect the corpse through blood sacrifice (only death can pay for life), and force the soul from the animal back into the resurrected body. Perhaps both can be accomplished by sacrificing the animal containing the soul, and then putting the "strength of the beast" into the rider. This spell left Drogo a vegetable because his soul wasn't actually in the horse, as the Dothraki have lost their skinchanging ability. Thus it served Mirri Maz Dur's purposes (she knew it would leave Drogo a vegetable).
Obviously, if true, this has implications for Jon. There are a lot of clues about Ghost needing to be sacrificed... I certainly hope I am wrong but I tend to doubt it. Mithras had to sacrifice his white bull to be reborn, and Jon is Mithras. But take heart - the strength of the horse goes into the rider, much like Nissa Nissa's strength and soul went into the steel of Lightbringer. We know that dead skinchange's soul begins to merge with their animal after a time, so it's likely that Ghost's ghost will have merged with Jon's spirit to some degree, and this Jon will be part Ghost, in more ways than one.
Robb smiled when she said that. “There are worse things than spiders and rats,” he whispered. “This is where the dead walk.” That was when they heard the sound, low and deep and shivery. Baby Bran had clutched at Arya’s hand. When the spirit stepped out of the open tomb, pale white and moaning for blood, Sansa ran shrieking for the stairs, and Bran wrapped himself around Robb’s leg, sobbing. Arya stood her ground and gave the spirit a punch. It was only Jon, covered with flour. (AGOT, Arya)
Returning from out detour into skinchanger resurrection, let's talk about horselords. Additional corroboration of the Dothraki having an origin east of the Bones mountains can be found in the similarities between their culture and that of the Jogos Nhai, the horse riders of the far eastern plains, whose lands lie squarely inside the old borders of the Great Empire of the Dawn.

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------======o))) THE JOGOS NHAI (((o======------



The Jogos Nhai have a culture which parallels that of the Dothraki in many ways, but with several key differences. Logic would dictate that the Dothraki culture has branched off from the original "horse lord" culture, since they came over the mountains from the lands which the Jogos Nhai still inhabit, so we will generally interpret the culture of the Jogos Nhai to be closer to that of their common ancestor.


Unlike the Dothraki, whose khakis lead huge khalasars across the grasslands, the Jogos Nhai travel in small bands, closely connected by blood. Each band is led by a jhat, or war chief, and a moonsinger, who combines the roles of priestess, healer, and judge. The jhat leads in war and battle and raid, whilst the other matters are ruled by the band's moonsinger.


Dothraki khals make endless war on one another once beyond the sacred precincts of Vaes Dothrak, their holy city. But the gods of the Jogos Nhai forbid them to shed the blood of their own people (young men do ride out to steal goats, dogs, and zorses from the other bands, whilst their sisters go forth to abduct husbands, but these are rituals hallowed by the gods of the plains, during which no blood may be shed). Instead, the Jogos Nhai make endless war upon everyone else, from the Golden Empire of Yi Ti to the former Patrimony of Hyrkoon to the vanquished stone giants of the northern Bones Mountains, the Jhogwin, and the N’gai, a people who have been reduced to one foggy underground city (Nefer).


Although the Dothraki khalasars are much larger than the bands of the Jogos Nhai, they are united by an oath of brotherhood between a khal and his bloodriders, which can be seen as a kind of ritual adoption. The ancient horse riders fleeing over the mountains would likely have been fragments of decimated kin groups, so it makes sense that they might have adopted each other via blood oath as a way of uniting to survive in a new land. (Major hat-tip to BrainFireBob).


The Jogos Nhai taboo against killing other Jogos Nhai seems to have broken down during the course of the Dothraki's migration and establishment of their new culture, but we do see an echo of this tradition in the Dothraki taboo against making war on each other within sight of the Mother of Mountains or shedding blood of any kind in Vaes Dothrak.




Both of our nomadic horse-warrior cultures seem to eschew the notion of inherited right to rule. The Dothraki khals are always the mightiest warriors, and if they become severely injured or weak, they lose their legitimacy and authority:



“Khaleesi,” Jhiqui said, “he fell from his horse.”


Trembling, her eyes full of sudden tears, Dany turned away from them. He fell from his horse! It was so, she had seen it, and the bloodriders, and no doubt her handmaids and the men of her khas as well. And how many more? They could not keep it secret, and Dany knew what that meant. A khal who could not ride could not rule, and Drogo had fallen from his horse.

(AGOT, Daenerys)




“A khal who cannot ride is no khal,” said Jhogo. “The Dothraki follow only the strong,” Ser Jorah said.

[…]

“They took Khal Drogo’s herds, Khaleesi,” Rakharo said. “We were too few to stop them. It is the right of the strong to take from the weak. They took many slaves as well, the khal’s and yours, yet they left some few.” (AGOT, Daenerys)



We don’t get the details of how the moonsingers and jhats are chosen, but the Jogos Nhai do occasionally raise up a jhattar, which seem to be a matter of choosing and not family legacy. We are told that when facing extinction at the hands of Lo Bu, the forty-third scarlett emperor of Yi Ti, one thousand rival clans gathered together and chose a female warrior named Zhea Zorseface as jhattar (which turned out to be a great decision).



This is probably a good place to briefly note the general badassery of the Jogos Nhai. Not only did Zia Zorseface string out Lo Bu's thirteen armies, isolating and destroying each in turn before killing Lo Bu himself, gilding his skull, and making a drinking cup out it; but we also hear of Garak Squint-Eye, who slew the last of the Jhogwin, the stone giants of the Bones mountains. It's hard to say who or what those "stone giants" really were, but they don't sound like easy prey. The Jogos Nhai also whupped up on Hyrkoon for many centuries and likely had something to do with their downfall.


It seems likely that the tight familial bonds of the Jogos Nhai and their extreme hostility to outsiders arose as a survival mechanism during the anarchy of the Long Night and the difficult living conditions that would have persisted long afterwards. As the horse riding culture that did not flee the holocaust, they would have had to become tough as nails to survive - and I think that's a fine description of the Jogos Nhai, "tough as nails."


Physically, the Jogos Nhai are much shorter than the Dothraki, with skin that tends more to yellow than the bronze of the Dothraki. This does beg the question of where the height of the Dothraki came in - were they always a taller cousin to the ancient Jogos Nhai, even when they were both part of the GEotD, or did they gain their height though intermarriage with the ancient people of the grasslands after crossing the mountains? We are about to get to the Sarnori, who are tall like the Dothraki (only more so) and have the same skin and hair and eye coloring as the Dothraki, so there is potential for the “tall genes” to have entered the Dothraki gene pool after they had crossed the mountains.



The Dothraki reverence for the Mother of Mountains and the womb of the world is certainly lunar in nature; they see the moon as the wife of the sun of course, and mountains are generally associated with moons and specifically used as metaphors for moons throughout the series. This seems similar to the Jogos Nhai reverence of the moonsingers, who basically govern all aspects of life that don’t have to do with war. Although Dothraki khals are always male, inside of Vaes Dothrak which sits at the foot of the mother of mountains, the crones of the Dosh Khaleen have absolute authority and are obeyed without question. This seems like an echo of the power held by the moonsingers.



Mirri Maz Dur met a moonsinger in Asshai while she was studying magic there:


When I was younger and more fair, I went in caravan to Asshai by the Shadow, to learn from their mages. Ships from many lands come to Asshai, so I lingered long to study the healing ways of distant peoples. A moonsinger of the Jogos Nhai gifted me with her birthing songs...”

[...]

“Before,” Dany said to the ugly Lhazareen woman, “I heard you speak of birthing songs …”

“I know every secret of the bloody bed, Silver Lady, nor have I ever lost a babe,” Mirri Maz Duur replied. (AGOT, Daenerys)


The theme of everything having its song continues with the moonsingers of the Jogos Nhai. The Church of Starry Wisdom sings to the stars, and Melisandre and the R'hllorists do a lot of singing at their nightfires. Of course the real name of the children of the forest is "those who sing the songs of earth." Songs in this sense are a form of worship and communion, so it's safe to say that there's a deep reverence for the moon in the culture of Jogos Nhai. Given that they lived inside the GEotD, they may well have a moon-destruction legend similar to the Qarthine "origin of dragons" story. Their reverence for the moon may have something to do with a sense of gratitude for the moon we have left, a memorial for the one which we lost, or perhaps the joy that was felt the first time the clouds cleared enough to see the remaining moon again.


There's a nice bit of symmetry here as Daenerys herself represents the moon (and indeed Drogo calls her "moon of my life" a couple of lines after this quote, just to remind us). Not only is the moon strongly associated with the femininity in cultures all around the world, in ASOAIF we have the specific theme of sacrifice and childbirth-death running all throughout the series. This pattern began with the fire moon's death in childbirth, which Daenerys represents, as she was ritually (un)burnt to hatch dragons into the world just as the fire moon was. Thus, it makes perfect sense for the "moonsingers" to know the best birthing songs.


In a quick head-nod to R+L=J, we see that the term "bloody bed" does indeed imply childbirth.


As I said above, the warleaders of the Jogos Nhai, the jhats, were usually male, but the moonsingers governed all other aspects of society. In a strange inversion of wildlings culture, the women of the Jogos Nhai even kidnap their husbands! In other words, women, and specifically the moonsingers, were generally more powerful than men in daily life. Thus we see that the Jogos Nhai are much closer to a matriarchal society than their taller horse-rider cousins to the west, which fits with the general theme of society moving towards patriarchy after the Long Night. Jogos Nhai also have somewhat flexible gender roles (not something patriarchy is really known for), as it is acceptable in their society for a woman to choose to be a warrior or a man to choose to be a moonsinger, though a woman choosing the life of a warrior must dress and live as a man, and vise versa.



During the course of their five thousand years of existence, the Valyrians enslaved peoples from lands far and wide, including some Jogos Nhai. The city of Bravos was founded by a group of slaves who overthrew their Valyrian masters while at sea and took refuge at the hidden lagoon which would eventually become their city. This lagoon was prophesied and located by a group of moonsingers who were among the escaped slaves. Arya first hears of this story as she sails into Bravos for the first time. We also get a nice description of the Temple of the Moonsingers:


“The Moonsingers led us to this place of refuge, where the dragons of Valyria could not find us,” Denyo said. “Theirs is the greatest temple.

[…]

That is the Temple of the Moonsingers.” It was one of those that Arya had spied from the lagoon, a mighty mass of snow-white marble topped by a huge silvered dome whose milk-glass windows showed all the phases of the moon. A pair of marble maidens flanked its gates, tall as the Sealords, supporting a crescent-shaped lintel. (AFFC, Arya)



It certainly sounds like a splendid structure, and it’s densely packed with moon imagery - icy moon imagery at that. Actually, I can’t resist unpacking this a bit. To start, we see the "colors of winter," silver / grey and white - Stark colors, of course. Arya should feel right at home here. The marble is described as "snow-white," adding to the imagery.


We get the only appearance of actual milk-glass, which is significant because of three things which are described as appearing like milk-glass: the sword Dawn, and the bones of the Others, and the stalks of ghost grass that grow near Asshai.



“And now it begins,” said Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. He unsheathed Dawn and held it with both hands. The blade was pale as milkglass, alive with light. (AGOT, Eddard)


Sam rolled onto his side, eyes wide as the Other shrank and puddled, dissolving away. In twenty heartbeats its flesh was gone, swirling away in a fine white mist. Beneath were bones like milkglass, pale and shiny, and they were melting too. (ASOS, Sam)


"Down in the Shadow Lands beyond Asshai, they say there are oceans of ghost grass, taller than a man on horseback with stalks as pale as milkglass. It murders all other grass and glows in the dark with the spirits of the damned. The Dothraki claim that someday ghost grass will cover the entire world, and then all life will end.” (AGOT, Daenerys)


The Other slid forward on silent feet. In its hand was a longsword like none that Will had ever seen. No human metal had gone into the forging of that blade. It was alive with moonlight, translucent, a shard of crystal so thin that it seemed almost to vanish when seen edge-on. There was a faint blue shimmer to the thing, a ghost-light that played around its edges, and somehow Will knew it was sharper than any razor.

[…]


The pale sword came shivering through the air. (AGOT, Prologue)




The Other slid gracefully from the saddle to stand upon the snow. Sword-slim it was, and milky white.

[…]


The weight of him tore the strange pale sword from the Other’s grip. (ASOS, Sam)




My working theory about Dawn the sword is that is was the original “Ice” of House Stark, and infused with some level of icy Others magic. I’m developing a whole theory about his, of course, which I won’t get into here. I do think it was made from the heart of a falling star, but it also seem to have some Other-ness to it. It’s always described with the term milkglass, which is why I think it’s worth the time to consider these milkglass quotes. The ghost grass and the Others’s swords glow with "ghost light,” while Dawn glows with a “pale light.” Dawn is “alive with light,” the Other’s sword is “alive with moonlight.” The Others’s swords are called a “pale sword” twice; of course the tower at Starfall is called the "Palestone Sword.” The ghost grass which is taller than a man on horseback and murders everything else in an attempt to cover the world and extinguish all life sounds a lot like an army of Others during the Long Night “riding down on the winds of winter to extinguish everything we would call life.” ('93 GRRM letter to the editor) Naturally this grass is, like Dawn, “as pale as milkglass.”


Why the ominous connotations for the sword Dawn? Because (hypothesis) it was originally the sword of the King of Winter, the first Stark. We are supposed to believe that Bran the Builder, founder of House Stark, built the Wall (or at least the first part of it). That’s a pretty strong sign of the ancient Starks having some real ability with ice magic. If anyone could infuse a sword that mortals can hold with Others' ice magic, this might be the guy.


The Temple of the Moonsingers embodies all of these milkglass-related concepts quite nicely. They’ve certainly got their symbolic house in order over there. The last detail of the temple worthy of note is the two marble moon-maidens holding the crescent moon lintel over their heads. It strongly reminds me of this passage:



The moon had crowned the Moonmaid as they set out from the dust- dry ruins of Shandystone, striking south and west. Arianne and Ser Arys took the lead, with Myrcella on a frisky mare between them.

(AFFC, Arianne)



Arianne and company are setting out crown the maiden, Myrcella, which may actually be the same as killing her, as it turns out. This is the subject of much rumination, with quotes like this:




You do know that when my father returns to the Water Gardens he plans to take Myrcella with him?”


“To keep her safe from those who would do her harm.


“No. To keep her away from those who’d seek to crown her.” (AFFC, The Soiled Knight)



“Princess.” Ser Gerold Dayne stood behind her, half in starlight and half in shadow.


“How was your piss?” Arianne inquired archly.


“The sands were duly grateful.” Dayne put a foot upon the head of a statue that might have been the Maiden till the sands had scoured her face away. “It occurred to me as I was pissing that this plan of yours may not yield you what you want.”


[…]

“Call it what you will. Crowning the Lannister girl is a hollow gesture. She will never sit the Iron Throne. Nor will you get the war you want. The lion is not so easily provoked.” Ser Gerold drew his sword. It glimmered in the starlight, sharp as lies. “This is how you start a war. Not with a crown of gold, but with a blade of steel.” (AFFC, Arianne)


She could not believe they would inform on her … but that left only Darkstar, and if he was the betrayer, why had he turned his sword on poor Myrcella? He wanted to kill her instead of crowning her, he said as much at Shandystone. He said that was how I’d get the war I wanted. (ADWD, Arianne)


Moon crescents can be crowns, but they can also be sickles. Crescent moons are also called sickle moons, and are of course associated with sacrifice. In Bran’s last chapter of A Dance with Dragons, the moon is described the same way four times, as a sort of literary device to create a montage-type effect as Bran learns about becoming a greenseer: "The moon was a crescent, thin and sharp as the blade of a knife.” This is the chapter in which Bran sees a series of visions through the weirwood tree, with the last being the sacrificial scene in front of the weirwood tree of Winterfell :



And now the lords Bran glimpsed were tall and hard, stern men in fur and chain mail. Some wore faces he remembered from the statues in the crypts, but they were gone before he could put a name to them. Then, as he watched, a bearded man forced a captive down onto his knees before the heart tree. A white-haired woman stepped toward them through a drift of dark red leaves, a bronze sickle in her hand. “No,” said Bran, “no, don’t,” but they could not hear him, no more than his father had. The woman grabbed the captive by the hair, hooked the sickle round his throat, and slashed. And through the mist of centuries the broken boy could only watch as the man’s feet drummed against the earth … but as his life flowed out of him in a red tide, Brandon Stark could taste the blood. (ADWD, Bran)


Thus we come full circle, from the birthing songs of the moonsingers to the crescent moon and its connotation of sacrifice. For many of the moon maidens on our story, sacrificial death and birth are two sides of the same coin, tragically. Nissa Nissa is of course the original moon maiden who died in childbirth, but the moon maiden who really comes to mind here is the woman Bran sees a bit earlier in his series of visions: Lyanna Stark. From Ned’s dream while held captive in the dungeons in A Game of Thrones:



Robert had been jesting with Jon and old Lord Hunter as the prince circled the field after unhorsing Ser Barristan in the final tilt to claim the champion’s crown. Ned remembered the moment when all the smiles died, when Prince Rhaegar Targaryen urged his horse past his own wife, the Dornish princess Elia Martell, to lay the queen of beauty’s laurel in Lyanna’s lap. He could see it still: a crown of winter roses, blue as frost.


Ned Stark reached out his hand to grasp the flowery crown, but beneath the pale blue petals the thorns lay hidden. He felt them clawing at his skin, sharp and cruel, saw the slow trickle of blood run down his fingers, and woke, trembling, in the dark.


Promise me, Ned, his sister had whispered from her bed of blood. She had loved the scent of winter roses. (AGOT, Eddard)



Those winter roses were Lyanna’s crown, representing her moment of glory as the Queen of Love and Beauty. Unfortunately there’s another side of that coin, represented by the thorns beneath pale blue petals of the winter rose which draw Ned’s blood. The deadly nature of this crown is further emphasized by this quote from Ned’s most famous of fever dreams:


As they came together in a rush of steel and shadow, he could hear Lyanna screaming. “Eddard!” she called. A storm of rose petals blew across a blood-streaked sky, as blue as the eyes of death. (AGOT, Eddard)


This passage is loaded with death associations which make plain the cost exacted by the rose crown’s thorns. It’s also specifically evocative of the Others: the rose pedals of Lyanna’s crown are a “storm," and the blue of the pedals is the blue of the eyes of death - the star-saphire eyes of the Others. Once again, we see that you cannot touch on winter imagery without using words which evoke the Others. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I believe the text is telling us something with this consistent use of specific symbols. The sword Dawn, the Others, and the Starks; blue roses, lunar crowns and pale ghost light- all of these concepts are intrinsically connected.


To bring this back to the Temple of the Moonsingers which Arya sees in Bravos, consider Arya herself, who looks like Lyanna and has the same “wolf blood,” according to Ned. When Bran first sees Lyanna in his weirwood vision, he mistakes her for Arya. The idea of a wintery crown pops again around another girl mistaken for Arya, Alys Karstark. Melisandre sees Alys coming to Castle Black on a dying horse and thinks its Arya. Jon too makes the connection.





Jon turned to Alys Karstark. “My lady. Are you ready?”


“Yes. Oh, yes.”


“You’re not scared?”



The girl smiled in a way that reminded Jon so much of his little sister that it almost broke his heart. “Let him be scared of me.” The snowflakes were melting on her cheeks, but her hair was wrapped in a swirl of lace that Satin had found somewhere, and the snow had begun to collect there, giving her a frosty crown. Her cheeks were flushed and red, and her eyes sparkled.


“Winter’s lady.” Jon squeezed her hand. (ADWD, Jon)



Lyanna’s crown was made of petals “blue as frost,” while Alys Karstark has a “frosty crown.” This scene is extra beautiful when you realize that Jon is not only seeing a vision of his sister here, he’s actually seeing a vision of his mother. Winter’s Lady, with her frosty crown. *sniffle*


Let’s hope Alys’s future has a happier ending than Lyanna’s. I should point out that both are taking a solar king to husband: Rhaegar, of course, with his Apollo imagery; and Styr, the Magnar of Thenn - turned - Lord of Karhold, with his flaming bronze sunburst sigil.


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------======o))) SARNOR (((o======------

The kingdoms of the Sarnori and the Rhoynar probably tie for the title of most beautiful and advanced civilization since the Long Night. These are the places you would want to live if you had to live on Planetos. Tragically, the Dothraki destroyed the former and the Valyrians the latter. Knowing as we do that many people seem to have fled westward over the Bones mountains and into the grasslands, we certainly have to take a look at the first and greatest post-Long Night empire of the grasslands, the Kingdom of Sarnor.

The people of the grasslands from which Sarnor arose seem to represent their own disapora, independent of the Great Empire of the Dawn, it must be said. However, some remnants of GEotD culture seem to have come over the mountain with the Dothraki and other fugitives, and the same may be true of the Sarnori. There’s also a nice little tip-off to look for GEotD fingerprints in the Kingdom of Sarnor:


Their gleaming cities were strewn across the grasslands like jewels across a green velvet mantle, shining beneath the light of sun and stars. (TWOIAF)
Jewels across a green mantle calls to mind the gemstone emperors of the GEotD and the jade and green pearls which they wore. "Shining beneath the light of sun and stars" certainly calls to mind a civilization with a connection to astronomy, and taken together with the cities being compared to gleaming jewels, it calls to mind the gemstone eyes of the GEotD emperors. It could of course have no double meaning (the wyrms of doubt are ever churning), but it is an interesting choice of words, and taken with the idea that refugees from the east passed through the grasslands, there’s enough to make us take a look here and see what we find.
On top of all that, it must be said - the Sarnori are just really cool and interesting. Many amazing things and places are briefly alluded to: The Palace With a Thousand Rooms where the High King dwelt, Sathar the Waterfall City, Sallosh the City of Schollars with its vast library and painted walls, Sarnath of the Tall Towers, Mardosh the Unconquerable (not so unconquerable, as it turns out). They were ”warriors, sorcerers, and scholars,” which is a match for our general perception of Great Empire of the Dawn rulers as embracing the use of magic and the pursuit of (starry) wisdom and knowledge.

The Sarnori themselves are heirs to an older legacy which traces back to the Dawn Age: the Kingdom of the Fisher Queens, who ruled the lands adjoining the now-vanished Silver Sea. The maesters of The World of Ice and Fire, in somewhat contradictory fashion, name several places as the site of the first "civilization as we know it": Ghis, Yi Ti, the grasslands of the river Sarne, the first cities of the Rhoynar, and of course Asshai. That indicates they probably don't know for sure; the only thing we can safely infer from this is that all of these civilizations are among the first to arise after the global disaster of the Long Night. Here is maester Yandel’s introduction to the grasslands of the river Sarne:

It was here amidst these grasses that civilization was born in the Dawn age. Ten thousand years ago or more, when Westeros was yet a howling wilderness inhabited only by the giants and the children of the forest, the first true towns arose beside the banks of the river Sarne and beside the myriad vassal streams that fed her on her meandering course Northward to the Shivering Sea.

The histories of those days are lost to us, sad to say, for the kingdoms of the grass came and went in large measure before the race of man became literate. Only the legends persist. From such we know of the Fishers Queens, who ruled the lands adjoining the Silver Sea - the great inland sea at the heart of the grasslands - from a floating palace that made its way endlessly around its shores.

The Fisher Queens were wise and benevolent and favored of the gods, we are told, and the kings and lords and wise men sought the floating palace for their counsel. Beyond their domains, however, other peoples rose and fell and fought, struggling for a place in the sun. Some maesters believe that the First Men originated here before beginning the long westward migration that took them across the arm of Dorne to Westeros. The Andals, too, may have arisen in the fertile fields south of the Silver Sea. (TWOAIF)

At some point, the mythical-sounding kingdom of the Fisher Queens came to an end, and the Silver Sea was reduced to three large lakes. I would certainly place my money on this decline occurring or at least beginning with the Long Night disaster. The realm of the Fisher Queens certainly sound like a Dawn Age kingdom, with their matriarchal society, wise and just reputation, favor of the gods, etc. The symbolism of the Silver Sea ruled by a matriarch is strongly evocative of moon imagery, and the Silver Sea itself fits the pattern of one moon breaking apart into three things, confirming this identification with the moon.
It should be noted that the Dothraki womb of the world seems to be a remnant of the Silver Sea - a look at the map shows two large lakes closer to the Sarne, and the only possible third lake is the womb of the world... which means that the Silver Sea would have been truly, truly massive! Like, really, really massive - look at the map! This is pretty important, I think, because it seems George has taken effort to obscure this information, never telling us outright that the WotW was part of the Silver Sea, instead leaving it for us to make the connection.
This is also a continuation of the moon imagery, from the Silver Sea to the Womb of the World and Mother of Mountains. When we consider the Dothraki tale of the First Man emerging from the Womb of the World, we have to wonder whether this story came down from the Fisher Queens themselves in some form and originally referred to the Silver Sea as a whole, and was later transferred to the WotW. Obviously the story of an origin over the mountains is entirely incompatible with the "first human emerging from the WotW" story, so the Dothraki may have adopted the second one after crossing the mountains and mingling with the survivors of the Silver Sea kingdoms.
So: before the Long Night, the realm of the Fisher Queens was a huge silver sea and the moon was intact; after the Long Night, the Silver Sea broke into three shrinking lakes and the moon broke apart into three large meteors. And the kingdom of the Fisher Queens was no more.
Eventually the three principal surviving groups, the Cymmeri, the Zoqora, and the Gipps, were conquered and assimilated by a group who came to be called the Sarnori. They called themselves the Tagaez Fen, the "tall men." The legendary founder of Sarnor, the man who “took to wife a daughter of the greatest lords and kings" from each of these three peoples to unite them and bind them to his will, was named "Huzhor Amai, The Amazing," supposedly born of the last of the Fisher Queens. In a brief shoutout to Arthurian legend, I’ll just briefly mention that the concept of a “Fisher King” is that of a keeper of the holy grail, which is a metaphor for the bloodline of Christ, who was of course known as the “fisher of men.” This seems similar to the idea of Huzhor Amai as the guardian of the bloodline of the Fisher Queens.
I probably don't have to point out the phonetic similarity between "Huzhor Amai" and "Azor Ahai," because wow, are they similar.

It's tempting to think that Huzhor Amai, last of the Fisher Queens, could be a garbled memory of a legendary ancestral hero named Azor Ahai. Even though I believe Azor Ahai was originally a bad dude, at some point he obviously became remembered as the hero, so this may be possible. However, all the other flaming sword heroes come from the other side of the Bones mountains, and nothing else about the Huzhor Amai story sounds like Azor Ahai or the Bloodstone Emperor (no flaming sword, no black stone, no dark magic, no usurpation or wife-murder, etc.). I think it is more probable that the Sarnori language is phonetically similar to that of the Great Empire of the Dawn because some part of the Sarnori language originated there. The last hero of the Sarnori during their downfall at the hands of the Dothraki was named Mazor Alexi, another name bearing resemblance to Azor Ahai, but clearly, Mazor Alexi lived only four hundred years ago and is definitely not another name for Azor Ahai. I believe this lends credence to the idea of common phonetic roots between Sarnor and the Great Empire. The names 'Azor Ahai' and 'Huzhor Amai' are perhaps both derived from or named after an older hero, some ancient figure of GEotD lore, or else Huzhor's name is recalling that of Azor himself. If the ancestors of the Sarnori did indeed migrate from the Far East to the grasslands, they may have carried a version of this name with them.

Alternately, it's possible one or more of the people assimilated into the Sarnori culture was the descendent of the GEotD, and they brought this name or their language with them to the area, later to be adopted by their Sarnori conquerors.

It is ambiguous as to whether the "Sarnori" were living in the former Silver Sea area before their assimilation of the surrounding peoples or whether they migrated there and conquered. The Silver Sea Kingdom of Fisher Queens is almost certainly a pre-Long Night culture, but the the actual "Kingdom of Sarnor" arose approximately concurrent with Ghis and Valyria, the first empires to arise after mankind rose out of the darkness of post-Long Night Planetos. We know the Sarnori fought in the wars between Valyria and Ghis, the last of which was five thousand years ago (according to Daenerys's memory - this is the only source for this), dating the rise of Sarnor to at least that long ago. Thus the timing of the conquest of the native peoples by the Sarnori does potentially line up with an exodus from GEotD territory. They claim a descent from the line of the Fisher Queens, but this could easily be another case of a conquering ruler "donning his floppy ears" to gain legitimacy in the eyes of the populace. This is a well-known historical phenomena which George succinctly sums up with his clever "floppy ears" saying, and one which he reproduces in his world countless times.
Concerning the peoples who were united by the Amazing One himself, Huzhor Amai, a couple of things seem relevant here. The Cymmeri were supposedly "the first people to work iron," although the Rhoynar also claim this title. Azor Ahai was seemingly a smith, as he "heated, hammered, and folded" the steel of Lightbringer the sword, which implies the GEotD had some knowledge of metalworking. I’ve laid out the case in the previous essay that the Valyrians were in all ways heirs to the magic of the GEotD. The GEotD had control of dragons and the sorcery needed to make fused stone structures, and their emperors appeared to Dany holding swords of pale fire, all of which makes it likely that the GEotD not only knew how to work steel, but likely knew the secret of making steel with dragon flame and sorcery in a forerunner of Valyrian steel. Thus, the Cymmeri's metalworking knowledge may be a link to the far east.

The Zoqora, meanwhile, had brown skin and pale hair, and were long of limb, and eyes that were something other than black (TWOAIF). Venturing into the realm of the highly speculative, it's possible 'tall with pale hair and medium brown skin' is the look of the gemstone emperors, or at least one of the races or tribes of the GEotD. The Dothraki, fellow GEotD fugitives, also have medium brown or 'bronze' skin tones, and are fairly tall. The Lengii are definitely a GEotD descendent, as their "Holy Island" island was specifically listed as a part of their empire, and they have "teak" colored skin, which is another way of describing medium brown, golden, or bronze coloring. The Lengi are also very, very tall, like the Sarnori, and have the same black hair. The only difference is the eye color - black for the Sarnori and golden for the Lengi, which is likely explained by the Lengi having interbred with the Old Ones... whoever they are.
We've mentioned the similarities in eye, skin, and hair color between Sarnori and Dothraki, and it's probably also worth noting that both cultures were very good with horses, just in different ways. The Sarnori have their deadly scythe chariots - that requires very advanced horsemanship, breeding, and training, and also very strong horses. Indeed, we are told they used specific breeds for specific purposes - black mares for their calvary, and bloodred horses trained to work in teams to pull the scythe chariots. The Dothraki were nomadic, unlike Sarnor, which accounts for the different uses of horses, but there may well have been some ancient transference of culture, knowledge, and horseflesh, even if they were generally rivals. The Dothraki probably did not bring their horses with them from the east, as the Jogos Nhai have to use Xorses for lack of large horse breeds. The horses seems to have been in the grasslands, right next to those Ifequevron.
The Sarnori men and women are said to have had the custom of making war together, with the women twice mentioned as chariot drivers. Huzhor Amai’s Cymmeri wife supposedly made his armor, which we are later told is in fact steel. So, even though we have transitioned from female rulers, the Fisher Queens to male rulers, the High King and lesser Kings of Sarnor, we still see a remnant of some kind of gender equality and gender role flexibility. This is too broad of a concept to be specifically associated with the GEotD, but it fits in with the general narrative of shift from matriarchal societies to patriarchal ones, which is worthy of note as George seems to be depicting this phenomena across large parts of the world. On a cosmic level, this all goes back to the murder of the moon goddess.
There’s nice bit of symmetry here with the beginning and end of the story of the grasslands: The Fisher Queens "ruled from a floating palace that made its way endlessly around its shores,” while today “the khals drive their great herds of horses and goats endlessly across their “sea,” fighting one another when they meet and occasionally moving beyond the borders of their own lands for slaves and plunder…” We used to have wise and benevolent female rulers traveling an actual sea, now we have traveling bands of violent male killers in a grass sea, again illustrating the shift towards patriarchy and violent conquest. The Hound gave it to us straight up way back in book one - “all men are killers.” It may sound a bit extreme, but it is really just an accurate modeling of real history. The list of matriarchal societies who formed an empire by subjugating their neighbors through violent conquest is going to be a very short list indeed.

Lastly, concerning Sarnor, it should be noted that they are some of the most accomplished seafarers and travelers in history. If the Great Empire of the Dawn reached Westeros in any meaningful capacity (meaning more than a handful of dragonriders flying on dragonback), then it was surely a maritime power as well. It's likely they were in any case, simply because of their size and power. The travels of the Sarnori:

Sarnori traders traveled to Valyria and Yi Ti, to Leng and Asshai. Sarnori ships sailed the Shivering Sea to Ib and Far Mossovy. Sarnori kings warred against the Qaathi and the Old Empire of Ghis, and lead many a foray against the bands of nomadic horseman who roamed the steppes to their east. (TWOIAF)
That's pretty extensive travel, and they seem to have an interest in lands formerly under the rule of the Great Empire. It's really too bad about the burning of the great library at Alexandri-- I mean Sallosh, city of scholars, or else I might not have to write this essay. :)
------======o))) SEVEN LAYER CAKE (((o======------
To close out this essay, I’d like to illustrate just how many plates George may be spinning inside the confines of a single paragraph. This is near the beginning of Dany’s “wake the dragon” dream where she sees the gemstone emperors. Here’s the quote:
She saw sunlight on the Dothraki sea, the living plain, rich with the smells of earth and death. Wind stirred the grasses, and they rippled like water. Drogo held her in strong arms, and his hand stroked her sex and opened her and woke that sweet wetness that was his alone, and the stars smiled down on them, stars in a daylight sky. “Home,” she whispered as he entered her and filled her with his seed, but suddenly the stars were gone, and across the blue sky swept the great wings, and the world took flame.
“… don’t want to wake the dragon, do you?” (AGOT, Daenerys)
On the surface level, Daenerys has just been dragged into the tent of dancing shadows while going into labor. She's having dream hallucinations, reviewing the most critical elements of her life in ominous fashion.
On an emotional level, we find Dany longing for home, family, a place of belonging. The Dothraki Sea and Drogo seemed like they could be a home for Dany to find refuge in, but that went up in flames with Drogo’s wounding. The specter of Viserys's abuse hangs over Dany still.
On a sensual level, we’ve of course got the bittersweet memory of Dany’s tender lovemaking with Drogo, a celebration of life ("living plain," "earthy smells," "rippling water," etc). Drogo's touches wake Dany's passion in a way no one else ever did, or will again - "the sweet wetness that was his alone."
On a symbolic level, we find the the life cycle implied with the phrase “rich with the smells of earth and death," which is then repeated in the form of Dany’s lovemaking to Drogo followed by darkness and fire.
On an astronomy level, we have the entire scenario played out in miniature. Drogo the sun king makes love to his moon wife, but at the moment of impregnation, the world takes flame, the stars disappear, and a dragon takes wing. This is exactly what happened - at this point, I don’t even think this needs translation.
On an easter-egg level, we’ve got a couple of goodies. The Dothraki Sea ripples like water - because it used to be the Silver Sea, a real sea. The Dany chapters in the Dothraki Sea actually have several of these kind of homages to the Silver Sea lurking about.
Secondly, we find stars in a daylight sky - that’s suspicious. At the end of this dream, the stars whisper their secrets. Sounds like a certain starry-someone may be eavesdropping or even dream-implanting here. As I have shown in the previous essay, the glass candles were already capable of some small magic even before Dany’s dragons hatched.
Finally, on a foreshadowing level, both Daenerys and we the reader are being told what it will mean for Dany to wake the dragon - the sacrifice of everything she loves, more or less.
All of this from one paragraph. That’s what I call dense, yet beautiful writing. Frankly, I can understand why it takes him five years to write a book - because his books are just loaded with paragraph after paragraph like this, a seven layer cake. Most likely, there's some sort of connotation about the Deep Ones in there that we haven't figured out yet, and perhaps a clue about George R. R. Martin's cat.
I hope everyone has enjoyed this latest installment… the Children of the Dawn project really has a way of expanding. I still have lots more to get to - Qarth, the Faith of the Seven and the Andals, Yi Ti and Leng… I’m working on it. Some of that is already done, but I am trying to group them together in a way that makes some amount of sense. Obviously this was a horsey affair, willll-buuurrr I say. Back to some more spooky shit next time. Thanks for reading, and as always, feel free to discuss any part of my larger theory-making in the comments thread.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread in particular and the broader conversation in general.

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As always, if the first few folks to read will kindly PM me any spelling mistakes you might catch, I would be very thankful. It's impossible to perfectly proofread your own writing, for whatever reason.



Also, "Jhogo" the Bloodrider, "Jogos" Nhai.


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Having read all your pieces now I have to say I am pretty convinced that the general direction you are pointing in is the right one.



I do have some questions regarding these migrations and the bloodstone emperor overthrowing the amethyst empress



(Please do correct me at anytime if I'm wrong)



From what I understand you are saying the BSE overthrew the AE and this is shown through the comet destroying the moon. With the comet destroying the moon this caused the LN. Now after that onto my question.


What came first the BSE overthrowing the AE and then the comet destroying the moon or did it happen the other way round?


Secondly, with the migration are you saying the migration happened during the LN or after the LN?


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Thanks for reading, The Crannogman. I don't know exactly how the cause effect relationship between events on the ground and in the sky works exactly, so I am trying to keep my thinking flexible and mostly concentrate on showing the correlations and what they might mean. I imagine in my own mind that the Bloodstone Emperor might have timed his usurpation or a particulr magical act - the sacrifice of NN / AE, most likely - to coincide with the moon destruction. It does seem there was some kind of eclipse alignment at the time of explosion, so it's the kind of thing an astrologer king would probably anticipate greatly and perhaps try to draw power from.

As for migrations, it seems some happened before the LN, definitely, but I think it's clear that many, many people fled the terror of the BSE at the time of the LN, as well as afterwards.

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I have nothing to add right now but you are instantly my favorite theory crafter. Keep doing what you're doing. :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown:


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many people fled the terror of the BSE at the time of the LN, as well as afterwards.

Firstly, thanks for the reply.

Secondly, in the GEotD many emperors lived unreasonable periods of time and so you suggest that each emperor was actually a different family, again I believe you are right here. If this is the case though is that the same for the AE and the BSE or where these just actually individuals?

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I don't really see a way to know for sure, as of yet, so I don't worry about it too much. Either would make sense - long lives or dynasties. It seems like most people favor long lives... I'm a bit more skeptical but until I see some text clue jump out at me that makes it clear, I'm probably going to stay agnostic. If they were dynasties, then the AE would have been the last ruler of her line, and the BSE the first of the next line. Either way works.

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I have nothing to add right now but you are instantly my favorite theory crafter. Keep doing what you're doing. :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown:

woo hoo! this essay was fun because in the course of digging into moonsingers and Dothraki, we end up hitting on some cool topics and book quotes. The Temple of the Moonsingers was great, and it was nice to see all the Dothraki religious quotes all put together in one place. Of course Sarnor is just awesome. If fact, Silver Sea / Fisher Queens is a topic worth it's own essay and investigation, as many people seem to have come from this area as well.

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Awesomesauce!!

This is great, I sense I will be referencing it in the future. I especially liked the onyx eye idea, that has been puzzling me.

The evidence linking most civilizations to GEotD is piling up nicely, kudos.

I did just have a thought about Dawn, inspired by the Drogo pyre passage where ice and fire are one continuum and east-west are another. What if Dawn is not ice nor lightbringer, but the ancestral sword of the emperors of the *dawn*? Making it of the east as opposed to the west, neither of ice nor fire. All of Dany's ancestors carry pale swords--what if they're actuall one sword passed down, as the swords in the Stark crypt all symbolize one sword, Ice, as it was passed down? That means Dawn would actually pre-date both Ice and Lightbringer. I know Dawn has icy conotations, but...it seems most similar to the swords of Dany's ancestors. And there has to be some sword that heavily predates Lightbringer at least, if the tourmaline emperor apparently had it.

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Thanks Beth, I having a lot of fun with this. I think we are starting to see that the dispersions of culture from the GEotD isn't even totally about crazy conspiracies and whatnot - to a certain extent, it's simply the way he has structured his fake history. He's working with the vague idea of the Atlantis myth, or more broadly, the view that humans have been 'advanced' in previous cycles of history, only to be destroyed every so often by disasters, of which we have plenty on record. Comet strikes and supermassive volcanoes can both shift the climate for hundreds of years and / or kill most life on earth, and have. In any case, I think George has written in some of these GEotD influences just for the sake of having a pattern along which his fake history flowed. The Silver Sea is another "dispora," or point of cultural dispersal. Mithras has done some really awesome research into Norvos, Qohor, Pentos, ancient Andalos, etc etc on the Fingerprints of the Dawn and first CotD threads. It doesn't fit in with the GEotD but it again shows that George is thinking about these waves of migration over time creating layers of culture that we, in the present, can dig back through like layers, just as a real historian would. Obviously you can't model the complexity of actual history in a fantasy book, but he's at least reproduced these ideas in the appropriate scale for his world building... I think it's terrific.

Of course, some of it IS conspiratorial freaky starry wisdom shit, of course. I originally had the Faith of the Seven section attached to this, but these three parts got too long and I had not finished up Oldtown itself.

As for the swords and Dawn specifically, I have a bunch of thoughts about that which I am kind of saving for my swords essay. ;) I will say that pale fire swords seems to be the technology of the GEotD originally. The hotter the fire and more pure the fuel source, the whiter and bluer the flame will be. Lower temperatures and impurities in the fuel burn red and orange and what have you. That's a bit of a generalization, bear in mind, but it gives you the idea. Those pale fire swords represent a pure and hot flame, the brightest light. The red, or red and black flame is the opposite.

So you think perhaps the star that fell to make Dawn didn't fall at Starfall, but perhaps the story was brought there in the Dawn Age and became associated with that location? I've considered that possibility, certainly. It's happened in real history - that general sort of thing, anyway.

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So you think perhaps the star that fell to make Dawn didn't fall at Starfall, but perhaps the story was brought there in the Dawn Age and became associated with that location? I've considered that possibility, certainly. It's happened in real history - that general sort of thing, anyway.

I've begun thinking of the "falling star" of Dayne mythology as probably being metaphorical rather than referring to a literal comet. So "forged from the heart of a fallen star" - fallen star could refer to the fallen Great Empire; the ancestral sword being the "heart" of its power, signifying a legitimate ruler. Or the sword itself was forged during the Empire's golden age, the "heart" of its power in that sense. The falling star might also refer to the AE herself, who directed them to go to that location when she knew she was going to die. (So "followed a falling star" meant following the directions of the fallen AE.) Particularly if the GEotD shared the Dothraki idea about souls going to the stars, and the BER did something to the AE that would prevent her soul from going up to the stars. In that sense she would be a "fallen" star, not able to go up into the sky.

I dunno, kind of spitballing, I will have a good think about this, though. Leave it to GRRM to make even the mythology of his world hella complicated. :-P

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Those are all good ideas :)

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Nice work as usual LML! ;)



BBTCL beat me to it, but the only thing I strongly disagree is the idea that Dawn is the OG Ice. Even if you did find some credence for the theory in the text, I doubt it was intentional. It just doesn't work literary for me.





I've begun thinking of the "falling star" of Dayne mythology as probably being metaphorical rather than referring to a literal comet. So "forged from the heart of a fallen star" - fallen star could refer to the fallen Great Empire; the ancestral sword being the "heart" of its power, signifying a legitimate ruler. Or the sword itself was forged during the Empire's golden age, the "heart" of its power in that sense. The falling star might also refer to the AE herself, who directed them to go to that location when she knew she was going to die. (So "followed a falling star" meant following the directions of the fallen AE.) Particularly if the GEotD shared the Dothraki idea about souls going to the stars, and the BER did something to the AE that would prevent her soul from going up to the stars. In that sense she would be a "fallen" star, not able to go up into the sky.



I like this idea.



Oh another thing, that is off topic for this thread but you included it anyway was that: Jon as Ghost thing with this quote:




Robb smiled when she said that. “There are worse things than spiders and rats,” he whispered. “This is where the dead walk.” That was when they heard the sound, low and deep and shivery. Baby Bran had clutched at Arya’s hand. When the spirit stepped out of the open tomb, pale white and moaning for blood, Sansa ran shrieking for the stairs, and Bran wrapped himself around Robb’s leg, sobbing. Arya stood her ground and gave the spirit a punch. It was only Jon, covered with flour. (AGOT, Arya)




I think the paragraph works as foreshadowing that Arya will have to "punch" Jon/Ghost again in the future to get through to the human part of Jon.


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Nice work as usual LML! ;)

BBTCL beat me to it, but the only thing I strongly disagree is the idea that Dawn is the OG Ice. Even if you did find some credence for the theory in the text, I doubt it was intentional. It just doesn't work literary for me.

I like this idea.

Oh another thing, that is off topic for this thread but you included it anyway was that: Jon as Ghost thing with this quote:

I think the paragraph works as foreshadowing that Arya will have to "punch" Jon/Ghost again in the future to get through to the human part of Jon.

Arya Stark: Ghost Puncher.

:-D

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Nice work as usual LML! ;)

BBTCL beat me to it, but the only thing I strongly disagree is the idea that Dawn is the OG Ice. Even if you did find some credence for the theory in the text, I doubt it was intentional. It just doesn't work literary for me.

I like this idea.

Oh another thing, that is off topic for this thread but you included it anyway was that: Jon as Ghost thing with this quote:

I think the paragraph works as foreshadowing that Arya will have to "punch" Jon/Ghost again in the future to get through to the human part of Jon.

Thanks Han Snow... but you better prepare to be open minded about Dawn... I have a fairly compelling case to make. And "i doubt it was intentional" just doesn't fly when it comes to the words George uses to describe the most obviously magical sword in the entire series. It's described the same way, every time: pale as milkglass, and alive with light.

ETA: Good call on the ghost punching thing, I have seen similar foreshadowing regarding Aray and Jon. :)

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Huge thanks for this series. You've inspired me to stop lurking and wade into the fray. In particular, props for tying things together without detouring into crazytown.



I'd like to mention a parallel between (wait for it) Vaes Dothrak and the House of Black and White:





Beyond the horse gate, plundered gods and stolen heroes loomed to either side of them. The forgotten deities of dead cities brandished their broken thunderbolts at the sky as Dany rode her silver past their feet. Stone kings looked down on her from their thrones, their faces chipped and stained, even their names lost in the mists of time. Lithe young maidens danced on marble plinths, draped only in flowers, or poured air from shattered jars. 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. Some of the statues were so lovely they took her breath away, others so misshapen and terrible that Dany could scarcely bear to look at them. Those, Ser Jorah said, had likely come from the Shadow Lands beyond Asshai.


AGoT 36








Thirty different gods stood along the walls, surrounded by their little lights. The Weeping Woman was the favorite of old women, Arya saw; rich men preferred the Lion of Night, poor men the Hooded Wayfarer. Soldiers lit candles to Bakkalon, the Pale Child, sailors to the Moon-Pale Maiden and the Merling King. The Stranger had his shrine as well, though hardly anyone ever came to him. Most of the time only a single candle stood flickering at his feet. The kindly man said it did not matter. “He has many faces, and many ears to hear.”


AFfC 22




This is striking to me because we don't see any other attempts to bring religions together, and their inspiration for doing so seems similar: the Dothraki have dead, conquered, and forgotten gods of their foes, and the HoBW has gods of death. I'd brush it off as coincidence, but for your comment about the Jogos N'hai being leaders in the slave exodus to Braavos.


Definitely got some thoughts on the Andals and the Faith of the Seven too, but that's a good starting point!

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Huge thanks for this series. You've inspired me to stop lurking and wade into the fray. In particular, props for tying things together without detouring into crazytown.

I'd like to mention a parallel between (wait for it) Vaes Dothrak and the House of Black and White:

This is striking to me because we don't see any other attempts to bring religions together, and their inspiration for doing so seems similar: the Dothraki have dead, conquered, and forgotten gods of their foes, and the HoBW has gods of death. I'd brush it off as coincidence, but for your comment about the Jogos N'hai being leaders in the slave exodus to Braavos.
Definitely got some thoughts on the Andals and the Faith of the Seven too, but that's a good starting point!

Very cool Knight and dayne, thanks for wading in. I like the connection - they are very similar. When you first discover a parallel like this, the first thing to do is to figure out if it's a symbolic parallel - something we are simply meant to contrast, like two characters with parallel arcs, or whether it implies a direct connection. The moonsingers were certainly instrumental in the founding of Bravos, and the religion of the Faceless Men was born at this time, or perhaps shortly before. Certainly the temple with the statues of many gods was built after the founding of bravos, so we do have potential for a direct connection. If the Dothraki's remnants of Jogos Nhai culture represent a corrupted form or changed form, then perhaps we can infer that the Jogos Nhai may have been polytheists. The FM temple honors all gods as versions of the same god, which is a weird combination of polytheism and monotheism, but the end result is religious tolerance. The Dothraki assemble many gods but as trophies of conquest - that's more like monotheistic religion stamping out the "false" gods of the heathen" religions. If the Jogos Nhai contributed to the ideas of the early FM, perhaps it was this idea of religious pluralism that came from them.

Of course, the Valyrians had a certain lind of religious pluralism as well... as in, they didn't honor any gods. Heh.

ETA thanks for your remarks, I do try to avoid the crazy town bus when I see it driving by. It's okay to come up with hypothesis's and what-if's, but people go wrong when they roll a hypothesis out as a theory and haven't really worked to confirm it in the text. I really try hard to stoic to interpreting what the text is saying and trying to understand how what it appears to say might be plausible. That is my approach and my method for avoiding the tinfoil.

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