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Arya may have planted a weirwood


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On 16/11/2016 at 11:05 PM, ravenous reader said:

That makes sense.  However, it's not strictly true that the First Men only succeeded in targeting weirwoods.  They used fire to indiscriminately burn vast swathes of forest, and fire doesn't respect boundaries.  

In the GOHH prophecy (provided below), the oaks still remember the fire and seem to hold a grudge, by which it's suggested that weirwoods are not the only trees engaged in collective mobilization.

When it comes to trees, GRRM's language choices like fire fail to respect strict boundaries, serving to introduce some ambiguity regarding the precise location of the 'magical front,' which is probably less 'cut and dried' than you suggest.  In fact, many trees are personified and invested with consciousness to varying degrees throughout the text, including weirwoods, oaks, ashes, chestnuts, ironwoods, sentinels, soldier pines, elms, willows, beeches, firs, broad leafs, and ebonies -- although I'll agree of these the weirwoods are the most powerful. 

Think of it as a hierarchical arrangement, one might say an army of trees, with the greenseers at the helm.  Throughout the text there are ample references to the martial aspect of many different species of trees, of which this is just one example:



It's also significant that GRRM -- the arch-wizard himself -- refers to himself as a 'gardener'!

Fascinating post overall though I admit I haven't had time to read it all yet.  There is no doubt that trees occupy a significant place in our mythology and there are lots of examples and themes of godhood or magic or the deep dark primal wood to choose from but how far do you think GRRM is pushing this in story as opposed to teasing and delighting us with an air of mystery?

Reading your comments on collective consciousness I'm minded of both the Ents, Huorns and original primal consciousness of the Forest in TLOTR and the collective communication and aggressive/defensive response of the trees in M Night Shayalaman's "The Happening".  I think GRRM is much more subtle in weaving "Tree Magic" into his tapestry of magic and religion - dragons, faceless men, shadowbinders, maegi, wargs and greenseers - than to have the Others / White walkers as the Forest's response via their servants / worshippers, the Greenseers, to Man's destructive ways. 

That feels like a story I've read before and it feels like a very old tradition in story-telling mythology whether it is or not(!) and a bit too much like a morality story on man's impact on the environment.  It actually is an echo of a backstory in Stephen Donaldson's "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever" where the primal forest had collective consciousness and, after Man chopped much of it down, magical protectors, The Forestals / Colossus of the Falls, were created to preserve what was left.  I imagine this theme exists in a lot of stories and myths as the world of several thousand years ago was dominated by forests that were slowly cleared until, certainly in Eurpoe, not much remains.

The mystery of the Others remains why they appeared once a few thousand years ago and have returned now.  A threat to the Forest is hard to see as the trigger now.  And also what the relevance of the Long Night / endless winters might be to trees that can only grow in summer. Surely it would kill or at least be a threat to them?

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