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LordBluetiger

The Amber Compendium of Norse Myth: Chapter I, Yggdrasil

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The Amber Compendium of Myths in ASOIAF, Chapter I.

 

Yggdrasil.

 

Since the dawn of days, our most ancient ancestors had a chance to observe the unending cycle of passing seasons. Each year in early spring the nature seemed to come back to life, air filled with singing of returning birds and green leaves sprouted from bare branches. Then flowers bloomed and when late summer came, fruits ripened. In autumn the world was seemingly dying again and all trees but few evergreens became bare again.

 

Trees showed changing of time especially well - they stood tall and easily noticeable from afar and animals and people alike often lived close to them. It’s not surprising that quickly they became symbols of growth, death and rebirth.

Evergreens (like pine, hemlock, live oak, holly, blue spruce) were often associated with concepts such as immortality, eternality and fertility.

 

Because of that, trees are featured prominently in various mythologies, religions and traditions, for example:

  • The Wish Trees

  • Tree of Life and Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden

  • Nymphs and dryads of Greek mythology

  • Bodhi trees in Buddhism

  • The Holly King and the Oak King

  • Herne the Hunter’s oak

  • The Christmas Tree

 

Celts and Germans used to cultivate sacred groves. The term ‘druid’ might in fact come from a word meaning ‘oak’.

 

Archetype of Tree of Life is often found in many mythologies. This kind of sacred trees connects all living forms into one, while very similar Tree of Knowledge is said to connect The Heaven and The Underworld.

They’re both form of even older mytheme - The World Tree.

Such trees are particularly featured in religions of Indo-European origins, but also in Siberian and Native American mythologies. Some scholars claim that this widespread concept is result of our evolutionary biology - if humans come from primates, then after living on the trees for over 60 million years, some mark on our ‘collective unconscious’ would surely be left, they say.

 

Others suggest astronomical origin, linking world trees to our Solar System, constellations and Milky Way.

 

As we can see, trees are often sacred or in other way extremely important to cultures of Westeros, Essos and Summer Isles:

 

At the center of the grove an ancient weirwood brooded over a small pool where the waters were black and cold. "The heart tree," Ned called it. The weirwood's bark was white as bone, its leaves dark red, like a thousand bloodstained hands. A face had been carved in the trunk of the great tree, its features long and melancholy, the deep-cut eyes red with dried sap and strangely watchful. They were old, those eyes; older than Winterfell itself. They had seen Brandon the Builder set the first stone, if the tales were true; they had watched the castle's granite walls rise around them. It was said that the children of the forest had carved the faces in the trees during the dawn centuries before the coming of the First Men across the narrow sea.

 

Weirwoods of the Children of the Forest come to mind quickly, but there are others as well:

 

The Summer Islanders are a dark people, black of hair and eye, with skins as brown as teak or as black as polished jet. For much of their recorded history, they lived in isolation from the rest of mankind. Their earliest maps, as carved into the famous Talking Trees of Tall Trees Town, show no lands but the isles themselves, surrounded by a vast world-spanning ocean. As islanders, they took to the seas in the dawn of days, first in oared coracles, then in larger, swifter ships with sails of woven hemp, yet few ever ventured beyond the sight of their own shores...and those who sailed beyond the horizons did not always return.

 

On the Iron Islands we find:

 

The deeds attributed to the Grey King by the priests and singers of the Iron Islands are many and marvelous. It was the Grey King who brought fire to the earth by taunting the Storm God until he lashed down with a thunderbolt, setting a tree ablaze. The Grey King also taught men to weave nets and sails and carved the first longship from the hard pale wood of Ygg, a demon tree who fed on human flesh.

 

Many fans believe that Nagga’s Ribs are in fact a petrified weirwood grove or remains of great ancient longship.

 

When you’ve heard the name ‘Ygg’ mentioned, you may have thought of Yggdrasil, probably the most famous of all World Trees - and that’s what our discussion will be about.

 

We find 'ygg' in names as well - for example Ygon Oldfather (Odin reference), Ygon Farwynd (a possible skinchanger) and Ygritte (yg-rite, some form of ritual or ceremony related to the trees).

 

In the Norse cosmology, Yggdrasil is an enormous ash tree (or yew, scholars still argue which one is correct), which connects the Nine Worlds, including Asgard, Midgard, Helheim and Jotunheim. Most of what we know about it today comes from ‘Prose Edda’, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, Icelandic historian, writer and scholar, and from earlier ‘Poetic Edda’.

 

This quote from Wikipedia explains origins of its name:

 

The generally accepted meaning of Old Norse Yggdrasill is "Odin's horse", meaning "gallows". This interpretation comes about because drasill means "horse" and Ygg(r) is one of Odin's many names. The Poetic Edda poem Hávamál describes how Odin sacrificed himself by hanging from a tree, making this tree Odin's gallows. This tree may have been Yggdrasil. Gallows can be called "the horse of the hanged" and therefore Odin's gallows may have developed into the expression "Odin's horse", which then became the name of the tree.

Nevertheless, scholarly opinions regarding the precise meaning of the name Yggdrasill vary, particularly on the issue of whether Yggdrasill is the name of the tree itself or if only the full term askr Yggdrasil (where Old Norse askr means "ash tree") refers specifically to the tree. According to this interpretation, askr Yggdrasils would mean the world tree upon which "the horse [Odin's horse] of the highest god [Odin] is bound". Both of these etymologies rely on a presumed but unattested *Yggsdrasill.

A third interpretation, presented by F. Detter, is that the name Yggdrasill refers to the word yggr ("terror"), yet not in reference to the Odinic name, and so Yggdrasill would then mean "tree of terror, gallows". F. R. Schröder has proposed a fourth etymology according to which yggdrasill means "yew pillar", deriving yggia from *igwja (meaning "yew-tree"), and drasill from *dher- (meaning "support").

In Gaulish the word Deru means "tree" as it is used in the word for a bard priest with a pastoral staff, ie: Derwydd meaning "Druid". Druid is Deru Wydd, "Tree Witt" as the traditional Celtic saying, "the memory of trees".

 

One of Odin’s names is Yggr (The Terrible One), he’s also called: Valdr galga (The Ruler of Gallows), Svipall (Changing, Shape-shifter), Jolfr (horse-wolf, bear). He’s got about 150 of such cool titles, so Dany’s list of achievements is nothing compared to the One-Eyed God.

However, I’ll show you few more names: Flaming Eye, Spearman, Lord of the Undead, Shape God, Father of Hosts, The One Who Rides Forth, Wanderer, Deceiver, Riddler, Blind Guest, Twice Blinded, Hooded One, Lord of the Hanged, Battle Wolf, Barrow Lord, Screamer, Raven God, Raven Tester, Shaggy Cloak Wearer, Wagon God, God of Riders, Mover of Constellations, Reed Bringer, Sleep bringer, Foe of the Wolf, Father of the Slain, Smith of Battle etc…. - if you’ve paused with ‘Hey, that sounds just like …. (insert ASOIAF character), you’re not the only one.

 

It appears that GRRM is very familiar with all those myths, so by taking a deeper look at them, we might be able to discover something about ‘The Song’ we all know and love. That’s the premise of ‘Amber Compendium’. We’ll discuss various topics connected to Norse Mythology (but not only it, sometimes we’ll focus on Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Baltic, Slavic, Lithuanian & other mythologies as well). Generally they’re all linked in one way or another to the North and Baltic Sea region, hence the name Amber Compendium. (Thanks to Ravenous Reader for this name).

After discussion, we’ll gather all interesting ideas that we’ve found and gather them in one thematic essay.

 

Now, let’s go back to our beloved Yggdrasil.

http://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends-europe/norse-legend-world-tree-yggdrasil-002680

The most satisfactory translation of the name Yggdrasil is ‘Odin’s Horse’. Ygg is another name for Odin, and drasill means ‘horse’. However, drasill also means ‘walker’, or ‘pioneer’. Some scholars would argue that the name means ‘Odinwalker’. In some parts of the manuscript, Yggdrasil and Odin seem to be one and the same.

When Odin hung, speared, for nine days on the World Tree, he uttered the words that he had ‘sacrificed himself onto himself’. This stanza gives us a description of the unity existing between the Godhead and the Tree in the myths. To emphasise this connection, we find in old English the word treow, which means both tree and truth. Etymologically, then, truth and tree grow out of the same root. Subsequently, in the Norse creation myth, man and woman originated from trees. We are all the sons and daughters of the Ash and Elm tree: the first man was called Ask, born from the Ash, and the first woman Embla, born from the Elm. Their oxygen offers us the primordial conditions for life. Ask and Embla sprouted from Yggdrasil’s acorns, and so it is that every human being springs from the fruit of Yggdrasil, then to be collected by two storks ,who bring them to their longing mothers-to-be. In Scandinavian folklore, they say that children are born through the knot holes in the trunks of pine trees, which is another version of the same myth.

Artur Lundkvist is one of Swedish literature’s greatest tree worshippers. Following a reflection on trees and forests, he writes:

‘… in every human there is a tree, and in every tree there is a human, I feel this, the tree wonders inside a human being, and the human being is caught in the tree … I serenade the forests, the forest sea is the second sea on earth, the sea in which man wanders. The forests work in silence, fulfilling nature’s mighty work; working with the winds, cleaning the air, mitigating the climate, forming soil, preserving all our essentials without wearing them out.’

The people represented Yggdrasil by planting what was called a ‘care-tree’, or ‘guardian tree’, in the centre of the homestead. It was a miniature version of Yggdrasil, and a stately landmark in the courtyard. The care-tree was a figurative expression of the interdependence of the world around us. It had a soul which followed the lives of those who grew up under its shadow and boughs. If the care-tree had witnessed many families growing up, the relationship between the tree and the family would have strengthened; this relationship was known to be private and confidential within the family line. Many such care-trees can still be seen in Scandinavia. I would argue that this is the origin of the Christmas tree. We unknowingly bring the World Tree into our home every winter solstice.

We also gain an understanding from the old vellum scripts that the World Tree is not a transcendental entity beyond time and space; rather, it is alive, organic, fragile and strong, and bound by the three dimensions of time: past, present and future. The fragility of Yggdrasil is always a concern to the gods. There is a dragon called ‘the Bane Biter’ who bites into its deepest roots. There are also other animals that assail the Tree: four deer feed from the branches, and their names are Dain, Dvalin, Duneyr and Duratro. Dain and Dvalin are described seeming ‘as if they are dead’ or ‘living with indifference, living in a mist’. Two animals stands on the roof of Valhalla (the abode of the Gods): the goat Heidrun and the deer Eiktyrner, and they feed from the branches too – but they give back gifts to the Tree. The goat offers mead and the deer pours waters from its antlers into the roots. They are both said to live in balance with the Tree.

Three old wise women known as the Norns are the protectors and guardians of Yggdrasil. The three Norns weave on a loom which represents time itself. They are portrayed as Urd (past), Verdandi (present) and Skuld (future). Every morning, from the leaves of Yggdrasil, there is a sweet glimmering dew which fills the valley; this dew is our memory of yesterday. Before the sun evaporates the dew, Urd collects this memory-water and pours it into her well: the Well of Memory. The dew water is named Aurr. In the centre of Urd’s well there are two sacred swans, which form a heart shape with their long necks when facing each other, creating the fertility symbol of the god Frey (the god of love and fertility). Love arises from this holy well. If the past is discarded, memories forgotten, the roots will dry up. Verdandi, who symbolises the present, presides over the flowers during the flowering time, where life is said to manifest. Skuld assists the flowers to reach out to the future. Curiously, the name Skuld implies debt, as if the future owes something to the work of the past.



 

Some scholars believe that this World Tree represents the Milky Way, on which Odin gallops on his eight-legged horse Sleipnir, others suggest it symbolises shamanic journey undertaken in trance - giving this legend as proof:

Odin hanged himself on Yggdrasil for nine days in order to gain knowledge of runes. In poem Havamal Odin says:

I know that I hung on a windy tree

nine long nights,

wounded with a spear, dedicated to Odin,

myself to myself,

on that tree of which no man knows

from where its roots run.

 

It’s unclear if this is supposed to mean he was hanged like a man on gallows - with rope around his neck - or, as following lines suggest - hanged by leg - he claims he peered downwards and later ‘I took up the runes, screaming I took them, then I fell back from there’

 

As we see, Yggdrasil is connected with gaining secret knowledge, but it comes at a cost of great sacrifice - just like entering the weirnet.

 

From Wikipedia:

Shamanic origins

 

Hilda Ellis Davidson comments that the existence of nine worlds around Yggdrasil is mentioned more than once in Old Norse sources, but the identity of the worlds is never stated outright, though it can be deduced from various sources. Davidson comments that "no doubt the identity of the nine varied from time to time as the emphasis changed or new imagery arrived". Davidson says that it is unclear where the nine worlds are located in relation to the tree; they could either exist one above the other or perhaps be grouped around the tree, but there are references to worlds existing beneath the tree, while the gods are pictured as in the sky, a rainbow bridge (Bifröst) connecting the tree with other worlds. Davidson opines that "those who have tried to produce a convincing diagram of the Scandinavian cosmos from what we are told in the sources have only added to the confusion".

Davidson notes parallels between Yggdrasil and shamanic lore in northern Eurasia:

The conception of the tree rising through a number of worlds is found in northern Eurasia and forms part of the shamanic lore shared by many peoples of this region. This seems to be a very ancient conception, perhaps based on the Pole Star, the centre of the heavens, and the image of the central tree in Scandinavia may have been influenced by it.... Among Siberian shamans, a central tree may be used as a ladder to ascend the heavens.

Davidson says that the notion of an eagle atop a tree and the world serpent coiled around the roots of the tree has parallels in other cosmologies from Asia. She goes on to say that Norse cosmology may have been influenced by these Asiatic cosmologies from a northern location. Davidson adds, on the other hand, that it is attested that the Germanic peoples worshiped their deities in open forest clearings and that a sky god was particularly connected with the oak tree, and therefore "a central tree was a natural symbol for them also"

 

There are other theories as well:

 

Mímameiðr, Hoddmímis holt and Ragnarök

 

Connections have been proposed between the wood Hoddmímis holt (Old Norse "Hoard-Mímir's" holt) and the tree Mímameiðr ("Mímir's tree"), generally thought to refer to the world tree Yggdrasil, and the spring Mímisbrunnr. John Lindow concurs that Mímameiðr may be another name for Yggdrasil and that if the Hoard-Mímir of the name Hoddmímis holt is the same figure as Mímir (associated with the spring named after him, Mímisbrunnr), then the Mímir's holt—Yggdrasil—and Mímir's spring may be within the same proximity.

Carolyne Larrington notes that it is nowhere expressly stated what will happen to Yggdrasil during the events of Ragnarök. Larrington points to a connection between the primordial figure of Mímir and Yggdrasil in the poem Völuspá, and theorizes that "it is possible that Hoddmimir is another name for Mimir, and that the two survivors hide in Yggdrasill."

Rudolf Simek theorizes that the survival of Líf and Lífþrasir through Ragnarök by hiding in Hoddmímis holt is "a case of reduplication of the anthropogeny, understandable from the cyclic nature of the Eddic eschatology." Simek says that Hoddmímis holt "should not be understood literally as a wood or even a forest in which the two keep themselves hidden, but rather as an alternative name for the world-tree Yggdrasill. Thus, the creation of mankind from tree trunks (Askr, Embla) is repeated after the Ragnarǫk as well." Simek says that in Germanic regions, the concept of mankind originating from trees is ancient. Simek additionally points out legendary parallels in a Bavarian legend of a shepherd who lives inside a tree, whose descendants repopulate the land after life there has been wiped out by plague (citing a retelling by F. R. Schröder). In addition, Simek points to an Old Norse parallel in the figure of Örvar-Oddr, "who is rejuvenated after living as a tree-man (Ǫrvar-Odds saga 24–27)".

 

Warden trees, Irminsul, and sacred trees

 

Continuing as late as the 19th century, warden trees were venerated in areas of Germany and Scandinavia, considered to be guardians and bringers of luck, and offerings were sometimes made to them. A massive birch tree standing atop a burial mound and located beside a farm in western Norway is recorded as having had ale poured over its roots during festivals. The tree was felled in 1874.

Davidson comments that "the position of the tree in the centre as a source of luck and protection for gods and men is confirmed" by these rituals to Warden Trees. Davidson notes that the gods are described as meeting beneath Yggdrasil to hold their things, and that the pillars venerated by the Germanic peoples, such as the pillar Irminsul, were also symbolic of the center of the world. Davidson details that it would be difficult to ascertain whether a tree or pillar came first, and that this likely depends on if the holy location was in a thickly wooded area or not. Davidson notes that there is no mention of a sacred tree at Þingvellir in Iceland yet that Adam of Bremen describes a huge tree standing next to the Temple at Uppsala in Sweden, which Adam describes as remaining green throughout summer and winter, and that no one knew what type of tree it was. Davidson comments that while it is uncertain that Adam's informant actually witnessed that tree is unknown, but that the existence of sacred trees in pre-Christian Germanic Europe is further evidenced by records of their destruction by early Christian missionaries, such as Thor's Oak by Saint Boniface.

Ken Dowden comments that behind Irminsul, Thor's Oak in Geismar, and the sacred tree at Uppsala "looms a mythic prototype, an Yggdrasil, the world-ash of the Norsemen"

 

In his book ‘The Hammer and The Cross’ Robert Ferguson proposes that Yggdrasil is a microcosmic representation of typical Norse farmstead - there are Asgard, Midgard and Utgard with Yggdrasil in the middle, just like there’d be the main house, some other buildings (barns, warehouses, etc.), surrounded by fields and meadows and further there’d be an area of wildreness. In the middle, near the farmer’s house, a family tree called vårdträd  would be planted. It was a mystic symbol of continuity and passing generations. In fact, these trees were regarded as so holy, that even picking one leaf from it was a serious offence.

 

From Wikipedia:

In Norse mythology, a vǫrðr (pl. varðir or verðir — "warden," "watcher" or "caretaker") is a warden spirit, believed to follow from birth to death the soul (hugr) of every person. In Old Swedish, the corresponding word is varþer; in modern Swedish vård, and the belief in them remained strong in Scandinavian folklore up until the last centuries. The English word '"wraith" is derived from vǫrðr, while "ward" and "warden" are cognates.

At times, the warden could reveal itself as a small light or as the shape (hamr) of the person. The perception of another person's warden could cause a physical sensation such as an itching hand or nose, as a foreboding or an apparition. The warden could arrive before the actual person, which someone endowed with fine senses might perceive. The warden of a dead person could also become a revenant, haunting particular spots or individuals. In this case, the revenant warden was always distinct from more conscious undeads, such as the draugar.

Under the influence of Christianity, the belief in wardens changed, and became more akin to the Christian concept of a good and a bad conscience.

Warden trees

A very old tree (often a linden, ash or elm) growing on the farm lot could be dubbed a "warden tree" (Swedish vårdträd), and was believed to defend it from bad luck. Breaking a leaf or twig from the warden tree was considered a serious offence. The respect for the tree was so great that the family housing it could adopt a surname related to it, such as Linnæus, Lindelius and Almén. It was often believed that the wights (Swedish vättar) of the yard lived under the roots of the warden tree, and to them, one sacrificed treats to be freed from disease or bad luck.

 

As we can see, these warden trees and Yggdrasil are related to wights and the undead - The World Tree it’s Odin’s gallows horse after all.

 

We see similar concepts in ASOIAF:

 

"Then a long cruel winter fell," said Ser Bartimus. "The White Knife froze hard, and even the firth was icing up. The winds came howling from the north and drove them slavers inside to huddle round their fires, and whilst they warmed themselves the new king come down on them. Brandon Stark this was, Edrick Snowbeard's great-grandson, him that men called Ice Eyes. He took the Wolf's Den back, stripped the slavers naked, and gave them to the slaves he'd found chained up in the dungeons. It's said they hung their entrails in the branches of the heart tree, as an offering to the gods. The old gods, not these new ones from the south. Your Seven don't know winter, and winter don't know them."

 

There are many other examples - Dunk is The Gallow’s Knight, Lady Stoneheart is the Hangwoman…

 

You might ask why trees, namely weirwoods, are so often associated with death and rebirth, with wights and resurrected beings in ASOIAF - and I think LML’s most recent series gives that answer. For anyone interested: https://lucifermeanslightbringer.com/2016/08/25/the-grey-king-and-the-sea-dragon/

https://lucifermeanslightbringer.com/2016/11/28/the-sacred-order-of-green-zombies-the-last-hero/

 

With that said, The Amber Compendium officially begins…

 

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13 hours ago, Blue Tiger said:

It appears that GRRM is very familiar with all those myths, so by taking a deeper look at them, we might be able to discover something about ‘The Song’ we all know and love. That’s the premise of ‘Amber Compendium’. We’ll discuss various topics connected to Norse Mythology (but not only it, sometimes we’ll focus on Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Baltic, Slavic, Lithuanian & other mythologies as well). Generally they’re all linked in one way or another to the North and Baltic Sea region, hence the name Amber Compendium. (Thanks to Ravenous Reader for this name).

After discussion, we’ll gather all interesting ideas that we’ve found and gather them in one thematic essay.

Thank you for this Blue Tiger!!!! Fantastic opening. I will add some stuff later. And don't forget that @LmL will be doing the Gallows in his next Weirwood Compendium. So that will be exciting to have that aspect of Yggdrasil discussed. 

@ravenous reader @LmL @Isobel Harper @sweetsunray @The Fattest Leech @Lost Melnibonean @Lady Fishbiscuit @Feather Crystal

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Yay! Thanks for this thread. I am bookmarking it now so I can come back to it in a little bit.

Thanks for the mention as well :cheers:

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39 minutes ago, Pain killer Jane said:

Thank you for this Blue Tiger!!!! Fantastic opening. I will add some stuff later. And don't forget that @LmL will be doing the Gallows in his next Weirwood Compendium. So that will be exciting to have that aspect of Yggdrasil discussed. 

@ravenous reader @LmL @Isobel Harper @sweetsunray @The Fattest Leech @Lost Melnibonean @Lady Fishbiscuit @Feather Crystal

Thanks for the tag!

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Very interesting topic. I shall keep an eye on the discussion! Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Pain Killer Jane!

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15 hours ago, Blue Tiger said:

hence the name Amber Compendium. (Thanks to Ravenous Reader for this name).

My pleasure!

15 hours ago, Blue Tiger said:

Artur Lundkvist is one of Swedish literature’s greatest tree worshippers. Following a reflection on trees and forests, he writes:

‘… in every human there is a tree, and in every tree there is a human, I feel this, the tree wonders inside a human being, and the human being is caught in the tree … I serenade the forests, the forest sea is the second sea on earth, the sea in which man wanders. The forests work in silence, fulfilling nature’s mighty work; working with the winds, cleaning the air, mitigating the climate, forming soil, preserving all our essentials without wearing them out.’

I love it.  'The forest sea is the second sea on earth, the sea in which man wanders.'  Hear hear.  Green sea = green see.

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Sansa parallels Idunn: She's kidnapped by a giant who disguises himself as a bird.  (Thjazi, a giant, disguises himself as an eagle; LF changes the Titan's head of Braavos to a mockingbird on his personal sigil.)  She's hidden in a great mountain.  (Idunn is hidden in Thjazi's great mountain keep; Sansa is hidden in the Vale.)  

Loki transforms Idunn into a nut in order to carry her back to Asgard; "Alayne" has chestnut hair.  

As Alayne, Sansa also parallels Skadi, Thjazi's daughter.  Skadi inherits her father's keep when he dies;  Sansa might somehow inherit Harrenhal. 

The gods allow Skadi to marry any god she chooses as retribution for her father's death.  However, she must choose her husband by only looking at his feet.  And...

Minor WoW spoiler:

Spoiler

In the spoiler chapter, when Myranda discusses marriage prospects, she makes it clear that she doesn't want a husband with webbed toes.  (He must have pretty feet!  Heh.)

 

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40 minutes ago, Isobel Harper said:

Sansa parallels Idunn: She's kidnapped by a giant who disguises himself as a bird.  (Thjazi, a giant, disguises himself as an eagle; LF changes the Titan's head of Braavos to a mockingbird on his personal sigil.)  She's hidden in a great mountain.  (Idunn is hidden in Thjazi's great mountain keep; Sansa is hidden in the Vale.)  

Loki transforms Idunn into a nut in order to carry her back to Asgard; "Alayne" has chestnut hair.  

As Alayne, Sansa also parallels Skadi, Thjazi's daughter.  Skadi inherits her father's keep when he dies;  Sansa might somehow inherit Harrenhal. 

The gods allow Skadi to marry any god she chooses as retribution for her father's death.  However, she must choose her husband by only looking at his feet.  And...

Minor WoW spoiler:

  Hide contents

In the spoiler chapter, when Myranda discusses marriage prospects, she makes it clear that she doesn't want a husband with webbed toes.  (He must have pretty feet!  Heh.)

 

I agree, I was listening to a podcast that was covering the Idunn abduction story, and it immediately made me think of the Littlefinger Sansa story.  In addition of course was Iddun's association with the apples of immortality and of course Sansa is the name of an apple.  By the way I would suggest all mythology lovers to check out a podcast called Myths and Legends, a really accessible way to learn about some pretty cool mythologies.

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7 minutes ago, Frey family reunion said:

I agree, I was listening to a podcast that was covering the Idunn abduction story, and it immediately made me think of the Littlefinger Sansa story.  In addition of course was Iddun's association with the apples of immortality and of course Sansa is the name of an apple.  By the way I would suggest all mythology lovers to check out a podcast called Myths and Legends, a really accessible way to learn about some pretty cool mythologies.

Do you have a link for the podcast?  I was just looking for mythology podcasts the other day!  I'd love to listen to it.  

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Just finished reading the OP last night @Blue Tiger, really enjoyed it.  You're right, there's so much that jumps out as familiar to a reader of ASOIAF! Father Of Hosts (one of Odin's names) is also one of Tormund's names, although I'm sure plenty of people will spot that one.  I think Tormund almost rivals Dany in the number of titles... imagine them being introduced! Nothing to add to it, but enjoying the thread.

14 hours ago, Isobel Harper said:

Sansa parallels Idunn: She's kidnapped by a giant who disguises himself as a bird.  (Thjazi, a giant, disguises himself as an eagle; LF changes the Titan's head of Braavos to a mockingbird on his personal sigil.) 

 

Nice catch on Littlefinger's sigil change!

 

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On 1/13/2017 at 10:12 PM, ravenous reader said:

My pleasure!

I love it.  'The forest sea is the second sea on earth, the sea in which man wanders.'  Hear hear.  Green sea = green see.

What about a sea of grass, like the Dothraki Sea? 

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3 hours ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

What about a sea of grass, like the Dothraki Sea? 

What about it LB?  I can't always keep up with your insinuations.  :)

I think that's a good example of how GRRM plays with the term 'sea'.

There are also rivers and seas of ice -- glaciers.

And seas and floods and tides of people migrating (in fact, the term 'Dothraki sea' is also used to describe the masses of people):

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A Game of Thrones - Daenerys II

… until the day of her wedding came at last.

The ceremony began at dawn and continued until dusk, an endless day of drinking and feasting and fighting. A mighty earthen ramp had been raised amid the grass palaces, and there Dany was seated beside Khal Drogo, above the seething sea of Dothraki. She had never seen so many people in one place, nor people so strange and frightening. 

 

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Hey guys I am sorry I haven't had time to read and particpate in this thread, I have been busy Nennymoaning and working on my next essay. But I came across something about Yggdrasil that might pertain to @ravenous reader's idead about whitewashing the weirwoods:

High (a scholar) continues that the norns that live by the holy well Urðarbrunnr each day take water from the well and mud from around it and pour it over Yggdrasil so that the branches of the ash do not rot away or decay. High provides more information about Urðarbrunnr, cites a stanza from Völuspá in support, and adds that dew falls from Yggdrasil to the earth, explaining that "this is what people call honeydew, and from it bees feed".[17]

The latter idea might pertain to amber perhaps? The honeydew?

Another random note on Yggdrasil = because it is an Ash tree, the idea of a flaming tree is already right there. Also, all the important spears in the story have ash wood shafts. 

OH - I just remembered something I thought of a long time ago. Remember how we were talking about trees growing up where the meteors land? Well, a rising mushroom cloud of ash and smoke grow at each impact, like a tree of ash. I made this association between the broken shaft of the ash wood spear planted in the Mountain's chest by Oberyn and a rising column of smoke and ash, but I also realized that it could be like an ash tree growing from the meteor. And the mushroom cloud idea translates to the mushrooms on Bloodraven's cheek and the fact that the weirwoodnet is interconnected through the root systems like fungus networks.

This might be something.

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18 minutes ago, LmL said:

Another random note on Yggdrasil = because it is an Ash tree, the idea of a flaming tree is already right there. Also, all the important spears in the story have ash wood shafts. 

Just like in the sigil of House Marbrand of Ashemark - their words are 'Burning bright'.

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"Save Cortnay Penrose," Catelyn murmured. She had never met the man, yet she grieved to hear of his passing. "Robb should know of this at once," she said. "Do we know where he is?"

"At last word he was marching toward the Crag, the seat of House Westerling," said Maester Vyman. "If I dispatched a raven to Ashemark, it may be that they could send a rider after him."

"Do so."

I see what you did here GRRM... Raven of Yggdrasil...

It seems GRRM references second possible translation (yew column) as well - in the Westerlands there is House Yew, with golden bow between crimson flaunches... Their founder is Alan o'the Oak, known as the Blind Bowman (Hodr shot his brother Baldr when his eyes were covered by headband).

I feel that there is some significance here:

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The three branches of the Trident give the riverlands their name: the Red Fork, colored by the mud and silt that tumbles down from the western mountains; the Green Fork, whose mossy waters emerge from the swamps of the Neck; and the Blue Fork, named for the purity of its sparkling, spring-fed flow. Their wide waters are the roads by which goods pass through the riverlands, and it is not unknown to see lines of poleboats stretching a mile or more. There has never been a city in the riverlands, strange as that might seem (though large market towns are common), likely because of the fractious history of the region and a tendency for the kings of the past to refuse the charters that might have given some Saltpans or Lord Harroway's Town or Fairmarket leave to expand.

During the long centuries when the First Men reigned supreme in Westeros, countless petty kingdoms rose and fell in the riverlands. Their histories, entwined and embroidered with myth and song, are largely forgotten, save for the names of a few legendary kings and heroes whose deeds are recorded on weathered stones in runes whose meanings are even now disputed at the Citadel. Thus, whilst singers and storytellers may regale us with colorful tales of Artos the Strong, Florian the Fool, Nine-Finger Jack, Sharra the Witch Queen, and the Green King of the Gods Eye, the very existence of such personages must be questioned by the serious scholar.

The true history of the riverlands begins with the coming of the Andals. After crossing the narrow sea and sweeping over the Vale, these conquerors from the east moved to make it their own, these conquerors from the east moved to make it their own, sailing their longships up the Trident and its three great branches. In those days, it seems the Andals fought in bands behind chieftains who the later septons would name kings. Piece by piece, they encroached upon the many petty kings whose realms the rivers watered.

Three branches of the Trident = 3 branches of Yggdrasil (3 branches of Underworld, 3 of the Middle World and 3 of the heavens)?

Poleboats evoke Styx and Charon, and Ironborn longships make me think of Vikings.

 

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1 minute ago, Blue Tiger said:

Just like in the sigil of House Marbrand of Ashemark - their words are 'Burning bright'.

I see what you did here GRRM... Raven of Yggdrasil...

It seems GRRM references second possible translation (yew column) as well - in the Westerlands there is House Yew, with golden bow between crimson flaunches... Their founder is Alan o'the Oak, known as the Blind Bowman (Hodr shot his brother Baldr when his eyes were covered by headband).

Yes, House Marbrand is an excellent burning tree clue because they are a part of the unfolding iron rose army of the 'Sun King,' Tywin Lannister.  And yes, as you say - Ashemark. There's also a really great metaphor with Ser Addam and Jaime at Riverrun, but I'd have to look back at it to remember what it is. And yes, your joke goes further - send a raven to Ashemark, "it may be that they could send a rider after him." A rider, like Odin riding Sleipnir.

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On 1/15/2017 at 8:33 PM, Isobel Harper said:

As Alayne, Sansa also parallels Skadi, Thjazi's daughter.  Skadi inherits her father's keep when he dies;  Sansa might somehow inherit Harrenhal. 

 
 

Sansa may get Harrenhal via Lady Whent, her maternal grandmother.

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