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sweetsunray

The Valkyrie of the FM - theory about the First and the First Reborn

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     There is a compelling connection to be drawn among Arya, the CotF of Westeros, and the Ifequevron of Essos.

 

In Clash of Kings, Arya X, Arya is practicing sword work up in the trees in the Harrenhal godswood.  This description of Arya is markedly similar to that of Leaf, the CotF in the cave with Bran. 

 

    She slashed at birch leaves till the splintery point of the broken broomstick was green and sticky. "Ser Gregor," she breathed. "Dunsen, Polliver, Raff the Sweetling." She spun and leapt and balanced on the balls of her feet, darting this way and that, knocking pinecones flying. "The Tickler," she called out one time, "the Hound," the next. "Ser Ilyn, Ser Meryn, Queen Cersei." The bole of an oak loomed before her, and she lunged to drive her point through it, grunting "Joffrey, Joffrey, Joffrey." Her arms and legs were dappled by sunlight and the shadows of leaves. A sheen of sweat covered her skin by the time she paused. The heel of her right foot was bloody where she'd skinned it, so she stood one-legged before the heart tree and raised her sword in salute. "Valar morghulis," she told the old gods of the north. She liked how the words sounded when she said them.

 

 

The World Book informs us that during the war between the First Men and the CotF:

 

     The hunters among the children—their wood dancersbecame their warriors as well, but for all their secret arts of tree and leaf, they could only slow the First Men in their advance.  The greenseers employed their arts, and tales say that they could call the beasts of marsh, forest, and air to fight on their behalf: direwolves and monstrous snowbears, cave lions and eagles, mammoths and serpents, and more.

 

 

The World Book also tells us about the Ifequevron:

 

     In the southeast the proud city-states of the Qaathi arose; in the forests to the north, along the shores of the Shivering Sea, were the domains of the woods walkers, a diminutive folk whom many maesters believe to have been kin to the children of the forest ...

The God-Kings of Ib, before their fall, did succeed in conquering and colonizing a huge swathe 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 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 that Bryan of Oldtown met could say they had ever seen a woods walker ...

 

All that ended two hundred years ago with the coming of the Dothraki. The horselords had hitherto shunned the forests of the northern coasts; some say this was because of their reverence for the vanished wood walkers, others because they feared their powers.

 

 

:) I have all of these quotes and a few others saved in a folder awaiting essay-dom. It's all through ACOK, all of Arya's chapter.  All of the squirrel references and wooden swords, the kingdom of the leaves and the lady of the leaves... It's really rich. I'm glad you noticed these too, they really stand out when you are keyed into the theme. 

 

ETA: I will say that I have generally been regarding the Ifequevron as cotf, and takin gthe story to mean that cotf were on Essos to in the ancient past. All of the Ifequevron stories seem like descriptions of the cotf, with slightly different verbiage. In other words, I take the Ifequevron info and combine it with what we know about the cotf and regard it as a whole body of information.  

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“They were people of the Dawn Age, the very first, before kings and kingdoms,” he said. “In those days, there were no castles or holdfasts, no cities, not so much as a market town to be found between here and the sea of Dorne. There were no men at all. Only the children of the forest dwelt in the lands we now call the Seven Kingdoms. “They were a people dark and beautiful, small of stature, no taller than children even when grown to manhood. They lived in the depths of the wood, in caves and crannogs and secret tree towns.  (AGOT, Bran)

 

 

Three days later, as they rode through a yellow wood, Jack-Be-Lucky unslung his horn and blew a signal, a different one than before. The sounds had scarcely died away when rope ladders unrolled from the limbs of trees. “Hobble the horses and up we go,” said Tom, half singing the words. They climbed to a hidden village in the upper branches, a maze of rope walkways and little moss-covered houses concealed behind walls of red and gold, and were taken to the Lady of the Leaves, a stick-thin white-haired woman dressed in roughspun.  (ASOS, Arya)

 

 

Arya climbed. Up in the kingdom of the leaves, she unsheathed and for a time forgot them all, Ser Amory and the Mummers and her father’s men alike, losing herself in the feel of rough wood beneath the soles of her feet and the swish of sword through air. A broken branch became Joffrey. She struck at it until it fell away. The queen and Ser Ilyn and Ser Meryn and the Hound were only leaves, but she killed them all as well, slashing them to wet green ribbons. When her arm grew weary, she sat with her legs over a high limb to catch her breath in the cool dark air, listening to the squeak of bats as they hunted. Through the leafy canopy she could see the bone- white branches of the heart tree. It looks just like the one in Winterfell from here. If only it had been … then when she climbed down she would have been home again, and maybe find her father sitting under the weirwood where he always sat.

 

Shoving her sword through her belt, she slipped down branch to branch until she was back on the ground. The light of the moon painted the limbs of the weirwood silvery white as she made her way toward it, but the five- pointed red leaves turned black by night. Arya stared at the face carved into its trunk. It was a terrible face, its mouth twisted, its eyes flaring and full of hate. Is that what a god looked like? Could gods be hurt, the same as people? I should pray, she thought suddenly. 

 

Arya went to her knees. She wasn’t sure how she should begin. She clasped her hands together. Help me, you old gods, she prayed silently. Help me get those men out of the dungeon so we can kill Ser Amory, and bring me home to Winterfell. Make me a water dancer and a wolf and not afraid again, ever. Was that enough? Maybe she should pray aloud if she wanted the old gods to hear. Maybe she should pray longer. Sometimes her father had prayed a long time, she remembered. But the old gods had never helped him. Remembering that made her angry. “You should have saved him,” she scolded the tree. “He prayed to you all the time. I don’t care if you help me or not. I don’t think you could even if you wanted to.”

 

“Gods are not mocked, girl.” The voice startled her. She leapt to her feet and drew her wooden sword. Jaqen H’ghar stood so still in the darkness that he seemed one of the trees.

...

 

“A man hears the whisper of sand in a glass. A man will not sleep until a girl unsays a certain name. Now, evil child.”

 

I’m not an evil child, she thought, I am a direwolf, and the ghost in Harrenhal. She put her broomstick back in its hiding place and followed him from the godswood.

...

 

“The hungry gods will feast on blood tonight, if a man would do this thing,” Jaqen said. “Sweet girl, kind and gentle. Unsay one name and say another and cast this mad dream aside.”

 

“I won’t.”

 

“Just so.” He seemed resigned. “The thing will be done, but a girl must obey.  (ACOK, Arya)

 

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:) I have all of these quotes and a few others saved in a folder awaiting essay-dom. It's all through ACOK, all of Arya's chapter.  All of the squirrel references and wooden swords, the kingdom of the leaves and the lady of the leaves... It's really rich. I'm glad you noticed these too, they really stand out when you are keyed into the theme. 

 

ETA: I will say that I have generally been regarding the Ifequevron as cotf, and takin gthe story to mean that cotf were on Essos to in the ancient past. All of the Ifequevron stories seem like descriptions of the cotf, with slightly different verbiage. In other words, I take the Ifequevron info and combine it with what we know about the cotf and regard it as a whole body of information.  

 

Yes, and it ends with the song at Acorn Hall with an udintified lord or king and a maiden of the tree. However, that's the last time she's referenced as a tree maiden. And Braavos has no trees (except the Sealord's palace). Although Arya's stand-in at the orphan's inn is called "Willow".

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Yes, and it ends with the song at Acorn Hall with an udintified lord or king and a maiden of the tree. However, that's the last time she's referenced as a tree maiden. And Braavos has no trees (except the Sealord's palace). Although Arya's stand-in at the orphan's inn is called "Willow".

 

The whole deal with the idea of rebel greenseers, naughty greenseers who turn against the Old Gods, is petrified weirwood trees. The dead trees symbolize undead greenseers, corrupted greenseers, etc. According to my hypothesis, of course, of course. So when Arya says "Bravos has no trees, only stone," she's putting her finger on the transformation of living weirwood to dead stone. It's the opposite of turning cold stone to living dragons, btw. Still working on that relationship, but it's part of the same cycle, in reverse.  Arya even thinks to herself that the Old Gods have no power in Bravos.

Just because I like to get all crazy late at night, I think killing weirwoods might be part of creating Others. What if the hypothesized "Jon's souls goes into Ghost and gets put back into the resurrected body" were to be performed with a greenseer and his tree instead of a skinchanger and his animal? I personally think the wolf body of Ghost will have to die to raise Jon, although Ghosts's ghost will have merged with Jon and so resurrected Jon will be GhostJon. Or something. But let's use a tree instead - when a greenseer dies, he goes into the tree - but can you push a tree spirit into a wighted body? Or any body? That would be like a tree body snatching a person, except it's already a merged tree and person body snatching a body.  But maybe we can make Others like that. 

 

The wooden watchtower was the tallest thing this side of the mountains, rising twenty feet above the biggest sentinels and soldier pines in the surrounding woods. “There, Captain,” said Cromm, when she made the platform.

 

Asha saw only trees and shadows, the moonlit hills and the snowy peaks beyond. Then she realized that trees were creeping closer. “Oho,” she laughed, “these mountain goats have cloaked themselves in pine boughs.” The woods were on the move, creeping toward the castle like a slow green tide. She thought back to a tale she had heard as a child, about the children of the forest and their battles with the First Men, when the greenseers turned the trees to warriors.  (ADWD, The Wayward Bride)

 

 

“Sam the Slayer!” he said, by way of greeting. “Are you sure you stabbed an Other, and not some child’s snow knight?” 

 
This isn’t starting well. “It was the dragonglass that killed it, my lord,” Sam explained feebly.  (ASOS, Sam)
 
Or how about the prologue of AGOT? I could write an essay about the Others coming from the trees with only material from the prologue. 

“We should start back,” Gared urged as the woods began to grow dark around them. “The wildlings are dead.”
 
“Do the dead frighten you?” Ser Waymar Royce asked with just the hint of a smile.
 
Gared did not rise to the bait. He was an old man, past fifty, and he had seen the lordlings come and go. “Dead is dead,” he said. “We have no business with the dead.”
 
“Are they dead?” Royce asked softly. “What proof have we?”
 
“Will saw them,” Gared said. “If he says they are dead, that’s proof enough for me.”
 
Will had known they would drag him into the quarrel sooner or later. He wished it had been later rather than sooner. “My mother told me that dead men sing no songs,” he put in.
 
“My wet nurse said the same thing, Will,” Royce replied. “Never believe anything you hear at a woman’s tit. There are things to be learned even from the dead.” His voice echoed, too loud in the twilit forest.
...

 
Until tonight. Something was different tonight. There was an edge to this darkness that made his hackles rise. Nine days they had been riding, north and northwest and then north again, farther and farther from the Wall, hard on the track of a band of wildling raiders. Each day had been worse than the day that had come before it. Today was the worst of all. A cold wind was blowing out of the north, and it made the trees rustle like living things. All day, Will had felt as though something were watching him, something cold and implacable that loved him not. Gared had felt it too. Will wanted nothing so much as to ride hellbent for the safety of the Wall, but that was not a feeling to share with your commander.

 

I won't be obnoxious and quote the entire chapter but just go and take a look - the Others come from the trees. The "White Walkers of the Wood."  This relates to Arya in that she is associated with all the death gods - the Stranger, the Lion of Night, the Nightwolf (Great Other?), and here we are finding clues about her being a cotf of some kind, but perhaps one who turns against the Old Gods and kills trees. I think the killing trees is a metaphor for creating undead greenseers, and that might be able to be done with fire or ice magic, so it might not lead to a connection with the Others... in fact, Azor Ahai himself may be some kind of corrupted greenseer, which might make sense as a fit with Arya's Azor Ahai imagery I was alluding to. I do think Arya's destiny is to endue at the Wall and involved with Jon. 

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So I'm a little late to the party, but this is a fascinating thread!  Wish I found it while it was still active!  But since they'll still let me post to it, I'm gonna!

 

On 2015-08-21 at 3:59 PM, A-Faceless-Woman said:

In a way, I couldn't agree more with what you said. But so far she's acted on orders from the FM, or the 3 names she had from Jaqen where from before Roose at Harrenhal (and her "introduction to politics"). 

I guess my point is that, if she learns to effectively use politics and her feminity to her own advantage (without prostituting herself), then she could see the temptation in using those assets to her own ends (i.e. she would me more tempted to scheme and kill for her own ends).

As Arya, Weasel, Arry, and all of her aliases, her feminity wasn't an asset for survival. If she sees how her feminity can be used in a way to achieve what she wishes, then she'd be tempted to 'go rogue'. Politics, in this kind of era, was rarely for the greater good, but just a way to achieve more and more power. I doubt that a Braavosi courtesan would scheme for the greater good. I might be wrong, but a courtesan would want to pull strings in the highest sphere of influence for herself to have more power and a more 'stable' situation. As Roose's cupbearer, Arya saw politics from a man point of view. As a courtesan's help, she'd see politics in a female perspective. I think it's arguable to say if a courtesan wouldn't compromise or corrupt herself in politics - she'd have to offer something more than a man to achieve the same goal. We do not have many examples of women being politically successful, and the ones we do have do not seem to be innocent, or at least uncorrupted. So I think Arya would be more tempted by corruption than ever before. 

The Chooser of the Slain shouldn't be choosing 'targets' that would be a mean to achieve something advantageous for themselves. She should have the most objective point of view anyone could have on who should die. Maybe, then, being taught by courtesans would be another kind of "test" - she would succeed if she stays politically neutral and keep the way of a maiden. 

1) why would her femininity tempt her to use those skills for her own ends?  How a person uses their skills all depends on a person's character in the first place - Arya isn't the type of character to use *any* of her skills solely for her own ends.  Whether she learns "feminine" skills or "masculine" skills, she going to use them for the same purposes she's been using her skills already.  Tywin, Roose and Walder Frey are three men that come to mind when *I* think of using their skills to further their own ends.  They weren't using "feminine" skills when planning the Red Wedding - they were using their "masculine" political skill for their own ends.  Learning "feminine" skills is not a precursor to thinking only of yourself.  If a person is the type to use skills for their own advantage, to the disadvantage of others, they'll do it whether they are male or female and they'll whatever skills they have - Cersei uses both "masculine" skills and "feminine" skills to gain the upperhand.  Margaery, on the other hand, uses her "feminine" skills on Joffrey to ensure the smallfolk are fed (obviously it's to her advantage, no one *wants* to get ripped apart by a mob, but it's still the "greater good").  Arya isn't the type - learning more skills will just give her more skills to do what she's already doing.  It's not going to "warp" her sense of justice, or her overall "goodness" just by learning how to flirt and dress pretty.  Like someone pointed out, she already knows *how* to use them (see Mercy chapter) and a little bit of honing won't drastically change Arya's character or how she feels about "good" people and "bad" people.

2) A Braavosi courtesan likely (and I'll admit to just speculating) does more for the "greater good" than most Sealords.  If for no other reason than the fact that most of them were likely poor, pretty nobodies before some other courtesan took them in and taught them a skill.  Now they're big names, and it's likely *some* of them at least remember where they came from.  The mermaid courtesan is even mentioned as having taken on a pretty poor girl when one of her other girls drowned (who was also likely a pretty poor girl - very, very few middle and upper class parents are going to send their daughter to a courtesan.  Some might, but it's probably easier to find poor girls - one less mouth for their parents to feed and they are sent to a relatively* "safe" place to be taught some skills).

*relative to the streets, where the girls would have to fight off would-be "suitors" with no back up, and sex isn't the only skill they're taught - they're likely taught some of the very things Sansa and Arya were taught by Septa Mordane and Catelyn; sewing, embroidery, dress-making, singing, dancing, etc, etc, etc as well as some things Arya and Sansa weren't taught like food prep and cleaning.

3) Historically, courtesan were highly political and often mingled in the men's circles discussing politics with them.  Courtesans weren't and arent prostitutes.  They're companions - they were often highly intelligent women that men listened to.  Not because the men were sleeping with her, but because she knew what she was talking about and they respected her.  They didn't respect prostitutes.  They *wanted* to sleep with her, and often a courtesan would confer their "favour" by sleeping with one or the other, but they weren't bought and paid for prostitutes.  Historically, courtesans fit the "geisha" mold more than they fit the "prostitute" mold.  Technically they were somewhere in between, but *they* chose who they had sex with, they weren't required to have sex with anyone who could pay.

4) Someone already pointed it out, but Olenna is a decent example of uncorrupted femininity succesfully used in politics.  Margaery was doing pretty good herself until Cersei took her down.  Margaery might yet come back from it too, but that remains to be seen.  But I do take offense at the suggestion that femininity in politics leads to corruption (at least, that's how I read it - and I've read it a few times).

5) As Roose's cupbearer, she also sees how corruptible "masculine" politics are, though she didn't recognize it (has she even realized that she was hanging around *while* Roose was planning her brother's murder?)

6) In order for a person to be objective a person must be able to see ALL sides.  If Arya can't understand the "feminine" side of an issue how can she be objective?  By only learning one perspective (the "male" or "masculine") she won't be anymore objective than Tywin or Roose or even her father.  She *can* stay politically neutral even in a "feminine" setting, and she *can* stay politically neutral after having sex, too.  It's also entirely possible for her too lose her objectivity in a completely "masculine" setting and lose her objectivity while never having sex. 

 

TL;DR - Arya is Arya and will remain Arya whether she learns to flirt and dress pretty or not.  It's a person character that matters, not their skills.  The more skills Arya learns, the more skills she'll have to continue doing what she's doing.  Tywin's an ass because Tywin grew up to be an ass, not because of any skills he learned or didn't learn.  Arya's not an ass, barring [more] serious trauma she's not likely to grow up to be an ass, regardless of the skills she learns.  Wearing a pretty dress and flirting with a boy is NOT the road to corruption.  Arya doesn't have the personality to be corrupt, anymore than her father or mother did or any of her siblings. 

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1 hour ago, Jak Scaletongue said:

So I'm a little late to the party, but this is a fascinating thread!  Wish I found it while it was still active!  But since they'll still let me post to it, I'm gonna!

 

1) why would her femininity tempt her to use those skills for her own ends?  How a person uses their skills all depends on a person's character in the first place - Arya isn't the type of character to use *any* of her skills solely for her own ends.  Whether she learns "feminine" skills or "masculine" skills, she going to use them for the same purposes she's been using her skills already.  Tywin, Roose and Walder Frey are three men that come to mind when *I* think of using their skills to further their own ends.  They weren't using "feminine" skills when planning the Red Wedding - they were using their "masculine" political skill for their own ends.  Learning "feminine" skills is not a precursor to thinking only of yourself.  If a person is the type to use skills for their own advantage, to the disadvantage of others, they'll do it whether they are male or female and they'll whatever skills they have - Cersei uses both "masculine" skills and "feminine" skills to gain the upperhand.  Margaery, on the other hand, uses her "feminine" skills on Joffrey to ensure the smallfolk are fed (obviously it's to her advantage, no one *wants* to get ripped apart by a mob, but it's still the "greater good").  Arya isn't the type - learning more skills will just give her more skills to do what she's already doing.  It's not going to "warp" her sense of justice, or her overall "goodness" just by learning how to flirt and dress pretty.  Like someone pointed out, she already knows *how* to use them (see Mercy chapter) and a little bit of honing won't drastically change Arya's character or how she feels about "good" people and "bad" people.

2) A Braavosi courtesan likely (and I'll admit to just speculating) does more for the "greater good" than most Sealords.  If for no other reason than the fact that most of them were likely poor, pretty nobodies before some other courtesan took them in and taught them a skill.  Now they're big names, and it's likely *some* of them at least remember where they came from.  The mermaid courtesan is even mentioned as having taken on a pretty poor girl when one of her other girls drowned (who was also likely a pretty poor girl - very, very few middle and upper class parents are going to send their daughter to a courtesan.  Some might, but it's probably easier to find poor girls - one less mouth for their parents to feed and they are sent to a relatively* "safe" place to be taught some skills).

*relative to the streets, where the girls would have to fight off would-be "suitors" with no back up, and sex isn't the only skill they're taught - they're likely taught some of the very things Sansa and Arya were taught by Septa Mordane and Catelyn; sewing, embroidery, dress-making, singing, dancing, etc, etc, etc as well as some things Arya and Sansa weren't taught like food prep and cleaning.

3) Historically, courtesan were highly political and often mingled in the men's circles discussing politics with them.  Courtesans weren't and arent prostitutes.  They're companions - they were often highly intelligent women that men listened to.  Not because the men were sleeping with her, but because she knew what she was talking about and they respected her.  They didn't respect prostitutes.  They *wanted* to sleep with her, and often a courtesan would confer their "favour" by sleeping with one or the other, but they weren't bought and paid for prostitutes.  Historically, courtesans fit the "geisha" mold more than they fit the "prostitute" mold.  Technically they were somewhere in between, but *they* chose who they had sex with, they weren't required to have sex with anyone who could pay.

4) Someone already pointed it out, but Olenna is a decent example of uncorrupted femininity succesfully used in politics.  Margaery was doing pretty good herself until Cersei took her down.  Margaery might yet come back from it too, but that remains to be seen.  But I do take offense at the suggestion that femininity in politics leads to corruption (at least, that's how I read it - and I've read it a few times).

5) As Roose's cupbearer, she also sees how corruptible "masculine" politics are, though she didn't recognize it (has she even realized that she was hanging around *while* Roose was planning her brother's murder?)

6) In order for a person to be objective a person must be able to see ALL sides.  If Arya can't understand the "feminine" side of an issue how can she be objective?  By only learning one perspective (the "male" or "masculine") she won't be anymore objective than Tywin or Roose or even her father.  She *can* stay politically neutral even in a "feminine" setting, and she *can* stay politically neutral after having sex, too.  It's also entirely possible for her too lose her objectivity in a completely "masculine" setting and lose her objectivity while never having sex. 

 

TL;DR - Arya is Arya and will remain Arya whether she learns to flirt and dress pretty or not.  It's a person character that matters, not their skills.  The more skills Arya learns, the more skills she'll have to continue doing what she's doing.  Tywin's an ass because Tywin grew up to be an ass, not because of any skills he learned or didn't learn.  Arya's not an ass, barring [more] serious trauma she's not likely to grow up to be an ass, regardless of the skills she learns.  Wearing a pretty dress and flirting with a boy is NOT the road to corruption.  Arya doesn't have the personality to be corrupt, anymore than her father or mother did or any of her siblings. 

Welcome to the thread :D

I agree that learning and acquiring skills is not what corrupts a person. If we'd generalize that thought, then perhaps we should cease educating children, because oh my, what might they do with their skills.

And I certainly agree with point 6. Arya is not 'male'. She's Arya, a girl with her own character and interests which coincide with "male" interests. But why should she be deprived of or deny her female aspects, because of it? It is not certain that George intends to do so, but if he wants Arya to grow into a woman who can be of influence for the better of society, then yes it would include having Arya become a complete person, including being a heterosexual woman, including liking compliments on her appearance. She likes Lady Smallwood and thinks of her later, because Ravella Swann told her she was pretty. She is also impacted by her father telling her she reminds him of Lyanna of whom others said she was beautiful. She's hurt by her sister and her friend calling her ugly all the time. It's an issue she ends up burrying with telling herself and others that she does 'not care'... Her way of dealing with it is taking her sister's and Jeyne's opinion as gospel truth and to not care about it. But it doesn't alter her secret desire to be thought of as beautiful, as well as being accepted completely for who she is - a girl who likes swordplay, climb trees. And it shows by her fascination for courtesans in Braavos, a single woman who can go to and fro in the world wherever they want and choose a lover or not without repercussion, and she also notices the type of respect they have in the entire society: rich, poor, male, female. They're not wallflowers. They emenate self-empowerment. That's what's fascinating about them.

 

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Hi @sweetsunray, thanks for inviting me to read this thread, I read the whole thing. I know I'm super late to the party,  but i'm reviving it anyway,  since it's so interesting. In in the middle of a reread. About to start ASoS,  and I I'll I'll read it in a whole new light! 

I think the Valkyrie motif is very interesting,  and a lot of it makes sense to me. I also like the Swan maiden link, and I do believe Arya will spend time with the Black Swan in tWoW. 

Apart from the ugly duckling references about Arya being called ugly,  but resembling Lyanna,  the first indication of her growing into a beautiful Swan, is that she has lessons in becoming a water dancer. This reminds me strongly of Swan Lake, which is all about beautiful dancing Swan maidens.

Interesting enough there's also a black and white reference there, where the evil black Swan Odile takes the role of the good white Swan Odette. In some versions Odile is Odette's evil twin,  in others she's the daughter of the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart. Odile and Odette are often danced by the same person.

In the original version Odette dies,  because Prince Siegfried mistakes odile for Odette, and declares her his love. Siegfried then chooses to die with her. 

Now this can be interpreted in multiple ways. One would be Arya's inner struggle between her light and dark side indicating that her dark side will win in the end. 

Another more literal interpretation could be Jon as Siegfried mistaking fArya for the real one. His decision to ride on Winterfell is a sort of love declaration,  which causes him to "die". This could indicate that Arya has to die (literally or figuratively) as well,  or perhaps she already has if someone found out about fArya,  and she is dead to the world. In this version Roose Bolton would be Rothbart I suppose. 

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I like your Swan lake connection. :thumbsup: Had't though of that yet, but yes it makes perfect sense. It might be interesting to actually reread a literary version of the Swan Lake and see whether George alluded to it in phrasing (as he did for the Ugly Duckling with the hen and the cat at Harrenhal). The "White Duck" folktale may actually have been a source for the construction of the Swan Lake story.

But yes, the "water dancing" makes for a great connection, especially if you then consider Ned's quote about her marrying a king and having princes for sons. Ned finds her trying to balance on her toes (which is what ballet dancers do). She mentions water dancers (ballet Swans). Then they discuss Bran's possible future, but Ned saying with a strange certainty that she will marry a king alludes further to the Siegfried-Odile/Odette link.

You are correct there is a constant struggly within Arya regarding what life she wants, about her identity, black and white... similar to the black swan and white swan motif of the ballet. And while you point correctly to Jon-fArya connection, there's also that of Gendry around Willow. Willow seems about Arya's age, kindof talks bossy like Arya, and Brienne even wonders whether she might be Arya (the eye color is not correct). The song of the king and the tree maiden and the featherbed identifies Arya as a "tree maiden", and she does a lot of climbing and water dancing in trees for a while (until Braavos where there are no trees). So, Arya is a "tree maiden" and Willow has a "tree name", at a location where a lot of Arya-ghosts hang around. It's fairly obvious that Gendry is clinging to the memory of Arya at the crossroads inn (where she killed Polliver and the squire and found Needle again) and that Willow serves as a double for Arya around him.

He might be a bastard, but he is a king's son nonetheless. And he has a swan maiden connection, because George reveals Gendry is a hidden bear character in the story (see my bear analysis for that) from the moment that Arya and Gendry are captured by the BwB (that capture is actually a visualisation of the first three stanzas of the bear-maiden song, which alludes to traditional bear-hunt rituals). The combo of him wanting to be a warrior combined with a smith is a hidden bear legend (Wayland the Smith) who has a a swan maiden for a wife, who flies off after several years, while he awaits her return. 

Cantuse once proposed as a theory on his blog that there is something fishy with the lying game between Waif and Arya. Arya teaches the Waif the common tongue that would be only truly relevant for use in Westeros. Why is the Waif learning a language for Westeros, when she never even leaves the HoBaW? Arya also tells all about her previous life to the Waif. And Cantuse proposes the HoBaW have a sinister plan to procure Arya's face and send the Waif to Westeros with Arya's face. I have serious issues with this regarding the Waif's physical abilities. But in light of the Swan Lake the idea of on the one hand the HoBaW making Arya give up her identity and wear the faces of other women and girls so that she's completely disguised, while another female servant of theirs wears Arya's face for certain reasons would not be as farfetched.

Extra, no idea what to do with it, but the "drake" mentioning in it got me interested - The White Duck tale has a queen being transformed into a duck by a witch while her husband is hunting. She lays 3 eggs: 3 ducklings and a "drake". She tries to warn them against the witch, but they're lured inside by the witch who checks up on them to see when they sleep. The "drake" remains awake for 2 tests, but the 3rd time they're all asleep and the witch kills them all. She then tries to have the king order the white duck on his lake to be killed too, but he has it simply caught, the spell is broken and the witch punished. The dead cucklings and drake become children. 

Finally, the prince Siegfried also relates to the Valkyrie legend of Brunhilde. She's a fallen Valkyrie, for not doing Odin's will, and becomes a shield maiden instead. She does ensure that not just any man can marry her. Only the man who can brave a ring of fire to get to her is worthy of her. That man is Sigurd/Siegfried depending on the version. Siegfried is deceived by a spell to marry another than Brunhilde. Worse, he disguises himself as his brother-in-law (who wants Brunhilde for wife) to brave the ring of fire and so both are married to another than they originally vowed. When Brunhilde finds out how she has been deceived by Siegfried she has him and his children killed, before committing suicide to die with him. The main thing to take away from it is how it's about broken promises, deception by taking another disguise, choosing the wrong one, and it ends in tragedy like the Swan Lake, but with both lovers dying together.

Anyhow, I agree that George seems to have incorporated Valkyrie, Ugly Duckling, Bear-Swan Maiden and Swan Lake in all of this, and possibly the story of the Tree Maiden (this one ends well inthe nick of time). I would be careful though to use it as a prediction of outcome.

I'm writing a story for the moment where I incorporate, reference and allude to Othello, Tempest, 12th Night and Cupid and Psyche all in one, despite the fact that the two romantic characters can never actually marry (one of them already is, though separated) for example. Because of the Psyche connection there are also loads of Venus and Aurore references applied to the female character. The story still remains its own story and doesn't actually intend to use a particular literally ending of any of those 5.

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Thanks :) it's nice to hear I could add something interesting,  most of the replies on this thread are so intelligent and interesting that it's almost intimidating. 

Another thing about the Swan Lake that stood out to me is that the white Swan swims in a lake made from her mother's tears of grief. Now Arya and her mother share the same grief,  and if i recall correctly Catelyn at some point thinks that if she could cry,  her years would fill an ocean or a lake. I can't find the exact quote,  but I'll look for it later. 

Both for Arya and Catelyn /Lady Stoneheart,  their grief is their motivation,  and both have thoughts about having a hole where their heart would have been. This could imply both of them being 2 sides of the same coin,  LS representing the black swan,  where Arya would represent the white,  although I would have to examine closer if this would actually work with the symbolism. Still an interesting option to ponder about. I know you compared LS to Hel, and that seems to work quite well. 

Good find about the willow/Gendry link... I do think she serves as another fArya, making Arya herself a girl of many faces in more ways than one. I do wonder if either one of the fArya's would truly work with the Swan connection, since neither of them is strongly associated with water. Although weeping willows generally grow close to water. In Dutch a weeping willow is called "treurwilg" which translates more closely to mourn willow or grief/grieving willow.

Not sure about the Waif's intentions,  I would hate it if she took Arya's face,  and I'm not sure if it's possible to use the face of a living person,  but the Arya impersonations by other girls could be foreshadowing of something like this. 

A common motif in fairytales where a human is transformed in an animal,  is that the animal has to be killed for the cursed one to transform into a human. This happens in the older versions of the frog Prince, where the Princess smashes the frog against the wall. In other tales the head of the animal is cut off. Something similar happens with the ducklings and the drake in your white duck story. 

Grrm uses this in a way with Sandor Clegane ; the Hound has to die for the gravedigger to be born. The Hound (and Ilyn Paine as well) is also a character that's strongly associated with the Stranger,  since the Stranger is also often depicted of having animal like features,  and the Hound teaches Arya the gift of mercy. 

This makes me wonder if some aspect of Arya will have to die as well for her to transform. I don't think this symbolism is often used in Swan maiden stories,  but the Hound's symbolic death could be foreshadowing that Arya needs to undergo a similar process. This could mean the loss of her Wolf (noooooooo), or perhaps LS if she represents the black swan,  but it could also be an internal process like letting go of Arya Stark to become no one,  or letting go of her inner black swan to become the white one.

I think something similar is happening to Jon snow. Part of him needs to die for him to transform (kill the boy Jon). 

I'd love to read your story! It sounds really interesting! 

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A couple of quick notes on he last couple comments: Arya drinks from the Gods Eye once and Gino's that it tastes like tears. I think it's in ASOS or maybe ACOK.

Secondly, all of the white / black swan stuff is very symbiotic with the Venus mythology woven into ASOIAF.  Venus is both Morninstar and Evenstar, due to the vagaries of celestial mechanics, and George has spun this into his Lightbringer / Azor Ahai / Sword of the Morning ideas. While some think Dawn IS Lightbringer, I believe George is showing us two swords, one black and one white. A sword of the evening (Azor Ahai's Lightbringer, made from a black meteor according to me) and a SOTM (Dawn). I just did a podcast about the Morningstar / Evenstar mythology and the blck and white swans are very symbiotic with those themes. 

https://lucifermeanslightbringer.com/2016/07/03/lucifer-means-lightbringer-2/

 

 

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10 minutes ago, LmL said:

A couple of quick notes on he last couple comments: Arya drinks from the Gods Eye once and Gino's that it tastes like tears. I think it's in ASOS or maybe ACOK.

Secondly, all of the white / black swan stuff is very symbiotic with the Venus mythology woven into ASOIAF.  Venus is both Morninstar and Evenstar, due to the vagaries of celestial mechanics, and George has spun this into his Lightbringer / Azor Ahai / Sword of the Morning ideas. While some think Dawn IS Lightbringer, I believe George is showing us two swords, one black and one white. A sword of the evening (Azor Ahai's Lightbringer, made from a black meteor according to me) and a SOTM (Dawn). I just did a podcast about the Morningstar / Evenstar mythology and the blck and white swans are very symbiotic with those themes. 

https://lucifermeanslightbringer.com/2016/07/03/lucifer-means-lightbringer-2/

 

 

Interesting. I saw in another topic recently that someone had looked up all the mentions of the word "song" in the books,  and it turned out that in general the word either referred to someone telling a story, or a swordfight (think 'the song of steel on steel '). If we would translate this to the title of the books it would be 'the story of the ice and the fire sword. We already know that there is a sword called ice...

Thanks for your thoughts,  I'll read your link soon. :)

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3 hours ago, Manderly's Rat Cook said:

Thanks :) it's nice to hear I could add something interesting,  most of the replies on this thread are so intelligent and interesting that it's almost intimidating. 

Another thing about the Swan Lake that stood out to me is that the white Swan swims in a lake made from her mother's tears of grief. Now Arya and her mother share the same grief,  and if i recall correctly Catelyn at some point thinks that if she could cry,  her years would fill an ocean or a lake. I can't find the exact quote,  but I'll look for it later. 

Both for Arya and Catelyn /Lady Stoneheart,  their grief is their motivation,  and both have thoughts about having a hole where their heart would have been. This could imply both of them being 2 sides of the same coin,  LS representing the black swan,  where Arya would represent the white,  although I would have to examine closer if this would actually work with the symbolism. Still an interesting option to ponder about. I know you compared LS to Hel, and that seems to work quite well. 

Good find about the willow/Gendry link... I do think she serves as another fArya, making Arya herself a girl of many faces in more ways than one. I do wonder if either one of the fArya's would truly work with the Swan connection, since neither of them is strongly associated with water. Although weeping willows generally grow close to water. In Dutch a weeping willow is called "treurwilg" which translates more closely to mourn willow or grief/grieving willow.

Not sure about the Waif's intentions,  I would hate it if she took Arya's face,  and I'm not sure if it's possible to use the face of a living person,  but the Arya impersonations by other girls could be foreshadowing of something like this. 

A common motif in fairytales where a human is transformed in an animal,  is that the animal has to be killed for the cursed one to transform into a human. This happens in the older versions of the frog Prince, where the Princess smashes the frog against the wall. In other tales the head of the animal is cut off. Something similar happens with the ducklings and the drake in your white duck story. 

Grrm uses this in a way with Sandor Clegane ; the Hound has to die for the gravedigger to be born. The Hound (and Ilyn Paine as well) is also a character that's strongly associated with the Stranger,  since the Stranger is also often depicted of having animal like features,  and the Hound teaches Arya the gift of mercy. 

This makes me wonder if some aspect of Arya will have to die as well for her to transform. I don't think this symbolism is often used in Swan maiden stories,  but the Hound's symbolic death could be foreshadowing that Arya needs to undergo a similar process. This could mean the loss of her Wolf (noooooooo), or perhaps LS if she represents the black swan,  but it could also be an internal process like letting go of Arya Stark to become no one,  or letting go of her inner black swan to become the white one.

I think something similar is happening to Jon snow. Part of him needs to die for him to transform (kill the boy Jon). 

I'd love to read your story! It sounds really interesting! 

Oh, yes, Cat's tears, that also link to the statue at the Eyrie of Alysanne's tears who was cursed to roam the world as a ghost as long as her tears did not touch soil. Nice link to Arya. Sansa is linked in there too, because she stands next to the broken statue in the godwood when shemakes the snowcastle. Suddenly reminds me of the word "zwanenzang", with Sansa singing, and of course the bird associations for Sansa (though not 'swan'). Yup, the willow as "treurwilg" fits in there too. I think George used a tree name to link to the "tree maiden" that the "king" wants to marry and crown his queen. This might hark back to Arya saying to Ned "That's Sansa, not me." Which I think might be regrettable if the two sisters represent the black and white swan.

As for Arya dying - the "no one" arc is a way of dying. Also, I advocate strongly that the Starks and the North (and now by extension the Riverlands) are Underworld characters and regions, and that this is where their strength lies. Arya is already living in an underworld in the HoBaW AND Braavos. And in the Underworld only the dead dwell, so she is metaphorically "dead" already. So, Arya does not need to die physically imo to fit the "dying" of the transformation part.

As for death in swan related stories - The Ugly Duckling wishes to commit suicide when he swims to the swans... He believes they'll peck him to death, but he'd rather be pecked to death by Swans than die another way. The Tree Maiden story has the Tree Maiden also try to commit suicide because her prince is about to marry an imposter and never realized who she was, while she's disguised as a "priest". She hangs herself, but the prince saves her in the nick of time.

Personally, I'm not keen on the Waif taking Arya's face either.

@LmL Another great find. True, she says it tastes like tears. I think we're actually onto something here.... Hmmm the Swan Lake ballet.

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I just want to say that I love seeing updates to this theory and will be back later to read them all. 

This is my bookmark  :D

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28 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

I just want to say that I love seeing updates to this theory and will be back later to read them all. 

This is my bookmark  :D

@Manderly's Rat Cook hit on a Swan link for Arya and made an insteresting "dance/ballet" suggestions, and now we're digging for quotes or passages in Arya's (including from other POVs) about Arya as either Black or White Swan (or both) of Swan Lake. Come dig along :D

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16 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

@Manderly's Rat Cook hit on a Swan link for Arya and made an insteresting "dance/ballet" suggestions, and now we're digging for quotes or passages in Arya's (including from other POVs) about Arya as either Black or White Swan (or both) of Swan Lake. Come dig along :D

I am about to head into the store to pick up groceries so this will be quick, but, over in my crazy Pinocchio-Bran link, I mentioned and quoted a passage about Sansa dancing. 

Bran is the wood dancer.

Arya is the water dancer.

and Sansa is the air/wind? Dancer? I dunno, maybe when the book comes out we will get the Sansa connection? Either way, she seems to be linked with flight. 

Jon is the earth, fire, ice dancer? If he is a dancer, that is ;) 

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14 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

I am about to head into the store to pick up groceries so this will be quick, but, over in my crazy Pinocchio-Bran link, I mentioned and quoted a passage about Sansa dancing. 

Bran is the wood dancer.

Arya is the water dancer.

and Sansa is the air/wind? Dancer? I dunno, maybe when the book comes out we will get the Sansa connection? Either way, she seems to be linked with flight. 

Jon is the earth, fire, ice dancer? If he is a dancer, that is ;) 

There are tons of fire dancers, but not real people who are. Check out Dany's waking the dragons scene - she sees fiery dancers and fiery sorcerors both in the flames. It happens a bunch of other times when people are burning wood in significant scenes. I have my own ideas about what that means - essentially, burning trees = greenseers transforming with fire magic - but since you pointed out water and wood dancers, it reminded me of the fiery dancers. 

We've got moon dancers and moon singers as well. 

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1 hour ago, sweetsunray said:

Oh, yes, Cat's tears, that also link to the statue at the Eyrie of Alysanne's tears who was cursed to roam the world as a ghost as long as her tears did not touch soil. Nice link to Arya. Sansa is linked in there too, because she stands next to the broken statue in the godwood when shemakes the snowcastle. Suddenly reminds me of the word "zwanenzang", with Sansa singing, and of course the bird associations for Sansa (though not 'swan'). Yup, the willow as "treurwilg" fits in there too. I think George used a tree name to link to the "tree maiden" that the "king" wants to marry and crown his queen. This might hark back to Arya saying to Ned "That's Sansa, not me." Which I think might be regrettable if the two sisters represent the black and white swan.

As for Arya dying - the "no one" arc is a way of dying. Also, I advocate strongly that the Starks and the North (and now by extension the Riverlands) are Underworld characters and regions, and that this is where their strength lies. Arya is already living in an underworld in the HoBaW AND Braavos. And in the Underworld only the dead dwell, so she is metaphorically "dead" already. So, Arya does not need to die physically imo to fit the "dying" of the transformation part.

As for death in swan related stories - The Ugly Duckling wishes to commit suicide when he swims to the swans... He believes they'll peck him to death, but he'd rather be pecked to death by Swans than die another way. The Tree Maiden story has the Tree Maiden also try to commit suicide because her prince is about to marry an imposter and never realized who she was, while she's disguised as a "priest". She hangs herself, but the prince saves her in the nick of time.

Personally, I'm not keen on the Waif taking Arya's face either.

@LmL Another great find. True, she says it tastes like tears. I think we're actually onto something here.... Hmmm the Swan Lake ballet.

Just curious, are you dutch as well,  because of the 'zwanenzang'.

The tears connections really got to me,  I think we're on to something here! From now on I'll listen to Tschaikowsky when i read the books! 

About Sansa: she thinks about committing suicide multiple times when captured in the Red Keep. 

I think Sansa's transformation will be the least 'magical' of all,  partially because she's lost her Wolf,  but also because losing her dreams about the world being a magical place from the songs will benefit her storyline most. Her transformation will be all about coming into her feminine power, letting go of her dreams of being saved by gallant Knights,  letting the little bird die and trust in herself to leave her cage. 

Sansa is the only female character who has depended upon men to save her. Catelyn, Arya, Dany,Brienne, Cersei, Asha, and Arianne might all be saved by men at times,  but they don't depend on it. They believe in their own strength and independence. Sansa is not there yet. She needs to kill the little bird. 

31 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

@Manderly's Rat Cook hit on a Swan link for Arya and made an insteresting "dance/ballet" suggestions, and now we're digging for quotes or passages in Arya's (including from other POVs) about Arya as either Black or White Swan (or both) of Swan Lake. Come dig along :D

I wish I was some ballet expert,  but unfortunately I only know the basic outlines of the story. I will try to dig up more interesting things though. I love ballet. 

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9 minutes ago, LmL said:

There are tons of fire dancers, but not real people who are. Check out Dany's waking the dragons scene - she sees fiery dancers and fiery sorcerors both in the flames. It happens a bunch of other times when people are burning wood in significant scenes. I have my own ideas about what that means - essentially, burning trees = greenseers transforming with fire magic - but since you pointed out water and wood dancers, it reminded me of the fiery dancers. 

We've got moon dancers and moon singers as well. 

Don't forget about the moon brothers in the mountains of the moon ;)

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