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Black Crow

Heresy 191 The Crows

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8 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Okaaay...

The gist of it is that the Corn King is one version of the Celtic belief in the duality of the two major seasons; Summer and Winter. Spring and Autumn are just the doors between them and the two are actually more equally balanced than might at first appear, for if Winter can be bitterly cold, Summer can be hot and arid - or worse pestilential. Both can bring starvation because remember that in Summer you're living off last year's harvest. Paradoxically Winter can also be a season of relative plenty and is ushered in by the harvest festival and at its centre is the great solstice feast. While Winter is the season of death that death also represents a cleansing of the land in readiness for the Spring awakening that ushers in the Summer.

In order to maintain this vital cycle of life, death and rebirth, it is necessary to have a Summer King and a Winter King, rather as described by Snowfyre above - and necessary for each to be put into the ground in due time in order to make way for his successor.

In GRRM's case Bran is obviously the Summer King [why do you think he named his direwolf?] and has very literally been put into the ground to prepare for the Spring and the Summer to come. John then with his white winter wolf named for death has been [unwittingly] slain to be King of Winter.

Something which occurs to me in writing this is that if the two already represent the necessary balance then the intervention of the dragons is what is likely to upset it.

I agree with everything here except the bolded and that's only because i think there's some problems with the pairing and how its set up. I think the myth works but in the context of the story.In the myth the war is neccessary,but in this story there is no war because to quote Osha

" Winter has no king" 

Jon hasn't taken up his spot yet.He got shagged,yeah but he hasn't done the journey yet.

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11 hours ago, The Snowfyre Chorus said:

Actually, the background summary comes from Illyrio Mopatis, as he and Tyrion dine at his manse in Pentos.  Here's that bit:

The Tattered Prince does tie in. Thirty years ago, he was chosen by Pentos - but instead of serving, he fled to the Disputed Lands and became a sellsword:

Evidently, he'd like to go back to Pentos - as conqueror, rather than sacrifice.

All in all, a rather direct nod by GRRM to certain pagan and Celtic traditions surrounding May Day - though perhaps, more specifically, to the classic horror genre retelling featured in The Wicker Man.  Though I'm sure there are folks around here who have more topical information and connections at their finger tips - including Black Crow, @wolfmaid7, @Frey family reunion, and perhaps others.

Yeah the Wicker man is a callback to the spirit messanger and efigy that gets sacrificed instead of a real person.In my tradition he get's used at spring and at lammas more often.Its in ritualistic context and the burning is a working of sympathetic magic directed at changing what the effigy represents or preventing  its power from growing.

So the efigy must represent something or a person.

 

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4 hours ago, Frey family reunion said:

I agree with the idea that Coldhands is an undead skinchanger.  I actually waded into a thread about Mance Rayder's raven winged helm that he dons in preparation for his last big surge to breach the Wall in ASOS.  In trying to answer the question as to the significance of the helm, I brought up some other interesting theories that I've read elsewhere concerning Mance and his possible origin.  Ultimately it occurred to me that there is at least the possibility that Brynden Rivers, Coldhands, and Mance may all have a Blackwood family connection.

Basically the first theory concerns Mance's relationship with the former Lord Commander before Mormont, who was probably the Lord Commander who was in charge during the events of the False Spring.  We know that a Lord Qorgyle was this former Lord Commander.  In ASOS we learn that House Qorglye's sigil is a red background with three black scorpions.  We know that Qorgyle took a trip to Winterfell when Jon was a child.  During this trip Qorgyle brought Mance Rayder with him. 

Mance's decision to leave the Wall came when his black cloak was patched with three red patches.  This would appear close to the inverse of House Qorgyle's sigil.  And of course as we learned, an inverse sigil is often the sigil of a House with a bastard origin (i.e. Blackfyre). 

It wouldn't surprise me if Lord Qorgyle may have fathered a bastard from a Wildling on the Wall.  (it would not suprise me if a number of members of the NIght's Watch have fathered bastards on wildlings, the description of Rattleshirt and Cotter Pyke are awfully similar for instance)  Perhaps this is why Lord Commander Qorgyle brings young Mance with him when he travels to Winterfell.  Mance may have taken pride in his cloak as an inverse of his father's former House, and the decision to strip that cloak away is what finally drove him from the Wall.

Now this begs the question, if Mance is Qorgyle son, why the raven winged helmet?  For reasons I won't go into now, I think that House Blackwood has been fostering a skinchanging gene through their daughters.  In fact it was probably through a female Blackwood member that Brynden inherited his impressive skinchanging abilities.  So I then looked to see if there was any evidence, no matter how slight, that might connect House Qorglye to House Blackwood.  And I did find one, albeit a very slim piece of evidence. 

We know that Oberyn Martell was fostered at House Qorgyle.  Perhaps evidence that House Martell may have shared some family relation with House Qorgyle.  The current Lord of House Qorgyle (who may be a brother or uncle to the former Lord Commander Qorgyle) is Quentyn Qorgyle.  Since we have a Quentyn Martell this also makes me think that there is a close family tie to House Martell and House Blackwood, perhaps Doran and Oberyn's father. 

There is only one other Quentyn mentioned in any of the books.  He is mentioned in the Hedge Knight, Quentyn Blackwood.  He was the Lord of House Blackwood who was murdered by a Bracken shortly before the time of the Mystery Knight.  This made me wonder, if Lord Quentyn Qorgyle received his name from Quentyn Blackwood, perhaps a maternal grandfather.  Then if Lord Commander Qorgyle is Quentyn's brother, he too may have had a Blackwood mother.

As stated, Coldhands has black eyes (not blue-grey which was ignored by those supporting the Benjen as Coldhands theory).  Both the Blackwoods and the salty Dornish have been described as having black eyes.  If any of this is possible, this could explain why we have another powerful skinchanger attuned to ravens north of the Wall.  Both Brynden Rivers and former Lord Commander Qorgyle could have Blackwood mothers, whom they inherited their abilities from.  Then if Lord Commander Qorgyle had fathered Mance, and if Lord Commander Qorgyle had a Blackwood mom, that would in turn may explain a Blackwood family heirloom, in Mance's possession, the raven winged helmet.

It might also mean interestingly enough that there is a family connection between Bloodraven, Coldhands, and Mance...

This is all very interesting, and I really like the connections you've made here. I've been leaning towards Coldhands as a Blackwood or having Blackwood blood. In the last Heresy thread someone brought up Raven tree Hall and the ravens perched on the Heart Tree like leaves. Well, that lead me to think about the name, Blackwood and mayhaps how that name came about. A wood full of ravens could easily be designated as a 'black wood' - A family of skinchangers with an affinity for corvids filling the woods with the black birds.

Anyway, the Dornish, Blackwood, and Northern connection is intriguing.

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29 minutes ago, aDanceWithFlagons said:

This is all very interesting, and I really like the connections you've made here. I've been leaning towards Coldhands as a Blackwood or having Blackwood blood. In the last Heresy thread someone brought up Raven tree Hall and the ravens perched on the Heart Tree like leaves. Well, that lead me to think about the name, Blackwood and mayhaps how that name came about. A wood full of ravens could easily be designated as a 'black wood' - A family of skinchangers with an affinity for corvids filling the woods with the black birds.

Anyway, the Dornish, Blackwood, and Northern connection is intriguing.

Snowfyre had a theory a while back that Archmaester Walgrave might be the Archmaester father to Winterfell's former maester Walys.  And he theorized that Walgrave might also be from House Blackwood.  It would be interesting if both Lord Commander Qorgyle, and Maester Walys both had Blackwood connections.

BTW, I'm not sure of the significance of the name Blackwood within the story, but my guess is GRRM may have at least partly been giving an homage to Algeron Blackwood who was major inspiration to HP Lovecraft, and wrote a really cool short story the Willows, where two travelers of the Rhoyne, err I mean Rhine, river camped out on an island in the middle of the river and experienced an intangible horror that seemed connected to the trees.

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7 minutes ago, Frey family reunion said:

my guess is GRRM may have at least partly been giving an homage to Algeron Blackwood who was major inspiration to HP Lovecraft, and wrote a really cool short story the Willows, where two travelers of the Rhoyne, err I mean Rhine, river camped out on an island in the middle of the river and experienced an intangible horror that seemed connected to the trees.

Huh. Nice connection, there. I'll have to look that one up...

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4 hours ago, aDanceWithFlagons said:

This is all very interesting, and I really like the connections you've made here. I've been leaning towards Coldhands as a Blackwood or having Blackwood blood. In the last Heresy thread someone brought up Raven tree Hall and the ravens perched on the Heart Tree like leaves. Well, that lead me to think about the name, Blackwood and mayhaps how that name came about. A wood full of ravens could easily be designated as a 'black wood' - A family of skinchangers with an affinity for corvids filling the woods with the black birds.

 

Oh I like that one - very plausible

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14 hours ago, wolfmaid7 said:

I agree with everything here except the bolded and that's only because i think there's some problems with the pairing and how its set up. I think the myth works but in the context of the story.In the myth the war is neccessary,but in this story there is no war because to quote Osha

" Winter has no king" 

Jon hasn't taken up his spot yet.He got shagged,yeah but he hasn't done the journey yet.

And therein lies the problem because Winter needs a king. 

ETA: And do we link that with the fact that the Starks were once Kings of Winter? 

And from that can we speculate that may be connected with [if not necessarily the cause] of the seasons being screwed because the cycle has been broken?

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4 hours ago, wolfmaid7 said:

Yeah the Wicker man is a callback to the spirit messanger and efigy that gets sacrificed instead of a real person.In my tradition he get's used at spring and at lammas more often.Its in ritualistic context and the burning is a working of sympathetic magic directed at changing what the effigy represents or preventing  its power from growing.

So the efigy must represent something or a person.

 

At Kentwell we burn the Green Man at the summer solstice rather than Lammas.

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19 hours ago, aDanceWithFlagons said:

This is all very interesting, and I really like the connections you've made here. I've been leaning towards Coldhands as a Blackwood or having Blackwood blood.

The Warg King was defeated by the Starks at Sea Dragon Point. Sea Dragon Point is the western end of the Wolfswood. At the eastern end is Winterfell.

The Blackwoods lived in the wolfswood before being removed from there by the Starks.

The Wolfswood was one of two primary residences of the children (with the Rainwood). There is an obvious connection between the children and the ravens.

The Blackwoods' sigil is a pack of ravens.

I think the Warg King was a Blackwood; his gift was nurtered by the children of the wolfswood, who were his allies. Coldhands, who died long ago, and as some of pointed out has a very strong connection with the ravens, is the undead Warg King.

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@Black Crow @wolfmaid7 @The Snowfyre Chorus Thanks for the rundown. I'd read about the May Queen/Corn King before but not from the angles y'all are coming from. It's good food for thought and some of the symbolism in the passages quoted really sticks out at me. I'm sure I'll pick up more and have something to add since it gets mentioned here so often.

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Probably overthinking, but the Blackwood's coat of arms is a flock of Ravens around a dead weirwood.  How long have the Ravens been there?  How long has the tree been dead?  The house supposedly goes back to the age of heroes, what was there coat of arms originally?

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On 9/12/2016 at 4:32 PM, Frey family reunion said:

I agree with the idea that Coldhands is an undead skinchanger.  I actually waded into a thread about Mance Rayder's raven winged helm that he dons in preparation for his last big surge to breach the Wall in ASOS.  In trying to answer the question as to the significance of the helm, I brought up some other interesting theories that I've read elsewhere concerning Mance and his possible origin.  Ultimately it occurred to me that there is at least the possibility that Brynden Rivers, Coldhands, and Mance may all have a Blackwood family connection.

Basically the first theory concerns Mance's relationship with the former Lord Commander before Mormont, who was probably the Lord Commander who was in charge during the events of the False Spring.  We know that a Lord Qorgyle was this former Lord Commander.  In ASOS we learn that House Qorglye's sigil is a red background with three black scorpions.  We know that Qorgyle took a trip to Winterfell when Jon was a child.  During this trip Qorgyle brought Mance Rayder with him. 

Mance's decision to leave the Wall came when his black cloak was patched with three red patches.  This would appear close to the inverse of House Qorgyle's sigil.  And of course as we learned, an inverse sigil is often the sigil of a House with a bastard origin (i.e. Blackfyre). 

It wouldn't surprise me if Lord Qorgyle may have fathered a bastard from a Wildling on the Wall.  (it would not suprise me if a number of members of the NIght's Watch have fathered bastards on wildlings, the description of Rattleshirt and Cotter Pyke are awfully similar for instance)  Perhaps this is why Lord Commander Qorgyle brings young Mance with him when he travels to Winterfell.  Mance may have taken pride in his cloak as an inverse of his father's former House, and the decision to strip that cloak away is what finally drove him from the Wall.

Now this begs the question, if Mance is Qorgyle son, why the raven winged helmet?  For reasons I won't go into now, I think that House Blackwood has been fostering a skinchanging gene through their daughters.  In fact it was probably through a female Blackwood member that Brynden inherited his impressive skinchanging abilities.  So I then looked to see if there was any evidence, no matter how slight, that might connect House Qorglye to House Blackwood.  And I did find one, albeit a very slim piece of evidence. 

We know that Oberyn Martell was fostered at House Qorgyle.  Perhaps evidence that House Martell may have shared some family relation with House Qorgyle.  The current Lord of House Qorgyle (who may be a brother or uncle to the former Lord Commander Qorgyle) is Quentyn Qorgyle.  Since we have a Quentyn Martell this also makes me think that there is a close family tie to House Martell and House Qorgyle, perhaps Doran an Oberyn's father. 

There is only one other Quentyn mentioned in any of the books.  He is mentioned in the Hedge Knight, Quentyn Blackwood.  He was the Lord of House Blackwood who was murdered by a Bracken shortly before the time of the Mystery Knight.  This made me wonder, if Lord Quentyn Qorgyle received his name from Quentyn Blackwood, perhaps a maternal grandfather.  Then if Lord Commander Qorgyle is Quentyn's brother, he too may have had a Blackwood mother.

As stated, Coldhands has black eyes (not blue-grey which was ignored by those supporting the Benjen as Coldhands theory).  Both the Blackwoods and the salty Dornish have been described as having black eyes.  If any of this is possible, this could explain why we have another powerful skinchanger attuned to ravens north of the Wall.  Both Brynden Rivers and former Lord Commander Qorgyle could have Blackwood mothers, whom they inherited their abilities from.  Then if Lord Commander Qorgyle had fathered Mance, and if Lord Commander Qorgyle had a Blackwood mom, that would in turn may explain a Blackwood family heirloom, in Mance's possession, the raven winged helmet.

It might also mean interestingly enough that there is a family connection between Bloodraven, Coldhands, and Mance...

Really liking this! Definitely agree with the magical abilities being passed down through the mothers. It seems to be an idea that's getting more traction lately and I noticed the same thing after reading Catelyn's and Sansa's POV chapters. They both have these flashes of seeing visions in real time then they blink and everything becomes mundane again. Can't find the original thread but I've definitely seen the idea mentioned that Cat gets her affinity from Blackwood blood through her Whent mother which she then passes on to the Stark kids.

Have you looked into potential greenseer/warg connections from the Bracken side? After all, "There's Blackwood blood in every Bracken, and Bracken blood in every Blackwood."

As for the Quentyn parallel I've seen a similarity with a couple other characters having the same name in isolated incidents but the ones I saw weren't as direct as tying the families together like that. More that they had or would have similar roles in relation to their situations. Perhaps the Quentyns have some event or circumstance involving their parentage that's similar.

That could be the wrong angle altogether and it has to do with their deaths. Maybe punishment by dragons is the connection? Qorgyle was sentenced to the Wall in lieu of death whereas as Quentyn Martell in his dealings with actual dragons got the roast? Just spitballing here as it seems there's almost no info on Qorgyle.

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1 hour ago, Cowboy Dan said:

Really liking this! Definitely agree with the magical abilities being passed down through the mothers. It seems to be an idea that's getting more traction lately and I noticed the same thing after reading Catelyn's and Sansa's POV chapters. They both have these flashes of seeing visions in real time then they blink and everything becomes mundane again. Can't find the original thread but I've definitely seen the idea mentioned that Cat gets her affinity from Blackwood blood through her Whent mother which she then passes on to the Stark kids.

Have you looked into potential greenseer/warg connections from the Bracken side? After all, "There's Blackwood blood in every Bracken, and Bracken blood in every Blackwood."

As for the Quentyn parallel I've seen a similarity with a couple other characters having the same name in isolated incidents but the ones I saw weren't as direct as tying the families together like that. More that they had or would have similar roles in relation to their situations. Perhaps the Quentyns have some event or circumstance involving their parentage that's similar.

That could be the wrong angle altogether and it has to do with their deaths. Maybe punishment by dragons is the connection? Qorgyle was sentenced to the Wall in lieu of death whereas as Quentyn Martell in his dealings with actual dragons got the roast? Just spitballing here as it seems there's almost no info on Qorgyle.

There definitely seems to be something about some of the Blackwood girls.  It really comes to the fore in Jaime's dealing with Lord Bracken and Lord Blackwood in ADWD.  First Lord Bracken is the one to suggest that Jaime takes Blackwood's only daughter as hostage:

Quote

"His daughter," suggested Bracken.  "Blackwood has six sons, but only one daughter.  He dotes on her.  A snot-nosed little creature, couldn't be more than seven."

And Lord Blackwood is a real cool customer with Jaime until the subject of his daughter comes up:

Quote

"Done, then.  But for one last thing."

"A hostage"

"Yes, my lord.  You have a daughter, I believe."

"Bethany." Lord Tytos looked stricken.  "I also have two brothers and a sister.  A pair of widowed aunts.  Nieces, nephews, cousins.  I had thought you might consent..."

"It must be a child of your blood."

"Bethany is only eight.  A gentle girl, full of laughter, she has never been more than a day's ride from my hall."...

"I will accept Hoster as our Hostage."

Blackwood's relief was palpable.

We have a Blackwood mother giving birth to one of the most powerful skinchangers in the book, and both House Stark and House Targaryen have recently taken Blackwood brides, so I think there is something there.

And it is interesting that for all their feuding, it appears that there is a lot of intermarriage between House Bracken and House Blackwood.  My guess is that they may have a similar relationship that House Targaryen had with House Velaryon.  When House Targaryen couldn't marry brother to sister, they reached out to House Velaryons, who seemed to be First Cousins to House Targaryen.  If you can't keep a genetic trait in in your direct line, then the next best place to go is your to the family of your first cousin I suppose.

I wonder if historically, Bracken served the same purpose to House Blackwood as Velaryon did to House Targaryen, they were a repository for Blackwood's magic genes, since House Blackwood probably could not practice incest like the Targaryens did.  Interesting that both the Brackens and Velaryons have a type of horse as their sigil.  It just appears that Brackens might have chafed at the yolk a little more than House Velaryon.

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20 hours ago, Black Crow said:

And therein lies the problem because Winter needs a king. 

ETA: And do we link that with the fact that the Starks were once Kings of Winter? 

And from that can we speculate that may be connected with [if not necessarily the cause] of the seasons being screwed because the cycle has been broken?

I think at this moment it doesn't have its King...Yet.I think it hasn't had one for a longtime.

As for the Starks styling themselves that....I'm thinking they stole the title.

 

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Really, really awesome OP, @Black Crow!

You've had me pretty convinced for a while that the ravens and/or crows are players.

While they may be aligned with the Old Races or Old Gods or something along those lines, I think it's more realistic to see any given species as in it for their own kind. If the ravens and crows are independent players, I think the explanation for their motive could be rather simple:

As a carnivorous scavenger species, they'll ally themselves with whoever has the best chance to provide for them through the Long Night to come. I know there are Singers living second lives inside many or all of the ravens, but when you take the historical population of the Singers into account, it's pretty likely that most of them faded away almost entirely a very long time ago. Considering Westeros' recent epidemic of violence, as well as recent events North of the Wall, the Others seem like the current best bet for the birds. (Side note: I like the idea that Martin named one of his volumes "A Feast for Crows" for this very reason.)

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3 hours ago, wolfmaid7 said:

I think at this moment it doesn't have its King...Yet.I think it hasn't had one for a longtime.

As for the Starks styling themselves that....I'm thinking they stole the title.

 

I have to disagree. They were once Kings of Winter, but something happened. The cycle was broken and that's why Winter doesn't now have a King - and why a resolution of this needs a King of Winter.

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3 hours ago, Dornish Neck Tie said:

 (Side note: I like the idea that Martin named one of his volumes "A Feast for Crows" for this very reason.)

Even so... thus far in this song of Ice and Fire the crows are the winners

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On 9/12/2016 at 11:47 PM, Black Crow said:

At Kentwell we burn the Green Man at the summer solstice rather than Lammas.

Nice! Beltane and Lammas for us.

14 hours ago, Black Crow said:

I have to disagree. They were once Kings of Winter, but something happened. The cycle was broken and that's why Winter doesn't now have a King - and why a resolution of this needs a King of Winter.

Yeah,i know they were once Kings of Winter,but how did they come by the title? What event if any led to them becoming KOW.

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14 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Even so... thus far in this song of Ice and Fire the crows are the winners

This true.Not to  mention they seem to be the only ones..Well along with the Direwolves who won't go hungry in Winter.Where other animals won't approach the dead they will attack and even eat.

Any season seems to be "A Feast for Crows" I had to go there.

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