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Unchained

Weddings, Lightbringer, Animal Familiars, and Character Arcs

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A thought everyone who has read these books has had is pretty well summed up by Tyrion as he watches a 2nd king die at a wedding.

 

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Tyrion found himself thinking of Robb Stark. My own wedding is looking much better in hindsight.     – AsoS, Tyrion 8

 

So what is going on with here?  Why are wedding so deadly especially for kings?  I will attempt to explain it as best to my understanding.  ASoIaF is full of blood sacrifice.  I will start by pointing out the obvious, practical, if Machiavellian, reason to kill a king. 

 

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”There is power in a king's blood, she says."  -- ASoS, Davos 4

 

Melisandre is frequently wrong, but she has got this part right (I think).  Sacrificing a king is the most powerful of all the terrible, bloody, evil, forbidden magic.  We should expect to see it in places showing us the clues and recreations of the ultimate blood ritual in ASoIaF, which is of course the tale of Azor Ahai, Nissa Nissa, and Lightbringer.  Here is the important part as it applies to us now.              

 

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She did this thing, why I cannot say, and Azor Ahai thrust the smoking sword through her living heart. It is said that her cry of anguish and ecstasy left a crack across the face of the moon, but her blood and her soul and her strength and her courage all went into the steel. Such is the tale of the forging of Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes. –ACoK, Davos 1

 

I can hear some people pointing out the issue with this.  We know king’s blood is the most powerful, but here it is the wife that is the sacrifice.  Well I wouldn’t get too hung up on it, in fact we are specifically told gender roles are not set in stone or even constant when we are deciphering prophecy.   

 

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What fools we were, who thought ourselves so wise! The error crept in from the translation. Dragons are neither male nor female, Barth saw the truth of that, but now one and now the other, as changeable as flame. The language misled us all for a thousand years. Daenerys is the one, born amidst salt and smoke. The dragons prove it." Just talking of her seemed to make him stronger. "I must go to her. I must. Would that I was even ten years younger." –AFfC, Sam 4

 

Now that all that is out of the way, just to be clear, what I am saying is that the weddings with dead kings are reenactments of Lightbringer being forged.  This not a revolutionary idea at all, I just felt it needed to be its own idea and I have some things to add.  Let’s first look at scenes we know are showing us this ritual and look for patterns.  The two obvious scenes are the one where we are told that Lightbringer is being made and the one that looks a lot like it where a different kind of Lightbringer is hatched.      

 

The False Forging & the Dragon Hatching

 

Credit goes to @LmL for putting me on the path of this line of similarities.  Now we will go through the scenes where Stannis makes his fake Lightbringer and the one where Dany hatches her dragons pulling quotes that look similar or interesting. 

 

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It seemed to me as I watched the fire this morning that I was looking at a dozen beautiful dancers, maidens garbed in yellow silk spinning and swirling before a great king. I think it was a true vision, ser. A glimpse of the glory that awaits His Grace after we take King's Landing and the throne that is his by rights."  –ACoK, Davos 1

 

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And now the flames reached her Drogo, and now they were all around him. His clothing took fire, and for an instant the khal was clad in wisps of floating orange silk and tendrils of curling smoke, grey and greasy. Dany's lips parted and she found herself holding her breath. Part of her wanted to go to him as Ser Jorah had feared, to rush into the flames to beg for his forgiveness and take him inside her one last time, the fire melting the flesh from their bones until they were as one, forever.    –AGoT Dany X 

 

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The flames writhed before her like the women who had danced at her wedding, whirling and singing and spinning their yellow and orange and crimson veils, fearsome to behold, yet lovely, so lovely, alive with heat. Dany opened her arms to them, her skin flushed and glowing. This is a wedding, too, she thought.  –AGoT Dany X 

 

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The flames were so beautiful, the loveliest things she had ever seen, each one a sorcerer robed in yellow and orange and scarlet, swirling long smoky cloaks. She saw crimson firelions and great yellow serpents and unicorns made of pale blue flame; she saw fish and foxes and monsters, wolves and bright birds and flowering trees, each more beautiful than the last.–AGoT Dany X 

 

Ok, so there is a clear pattern emerging here with singers, dancers, and sorcerers in fiery, smoky robes.  In one of these, a dead king is wearing the robes as well, and in another they dance before a great king.  Melisandre in her red priest attire singing in the language of Asshai and Mirri singing in her shrill, ululating voice go with this line of symbolism as well.  They are both sorcerers in different ways and singing and dancing are how you perform magic rituals in ASaIaF.  I like to think of the people seen in the fire like Mel and Mirri’s backup dancers who help perform the ritual.  I think of them like the gallery in the sacrifice scene from Indiana Jones and the temple of doom flailing their their arms around while the man’s heart is removed.  They may be something more, but for right now we will just be using them to tie one scene to another.  It is less important what they are than where they are.    

 

There is another vision in the fire at the Dragon Hatching that needs to be mentioned.  Time for more quotes…          

 

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She saw a horse, a great grey stallion limned in smoke, its flowing mane a nimbus of blue flame. Yes, my love, my sun-and-stars, yes, mount now, ride now.  –AGoT Dany X

   

 

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Her vest had begun to smolder, so Dany shrugged it off and let it fall to the ground. The painted leather burst into sudden flame as she skipped closer to the fire, her breasts bare to the blaze, streams of milk flowing from her red and swollen nipples. Now, she thought, now, and for an instant she glimpsed Khal Drogo before her, mounted on his smoky stallion, a flaming lash in his hand. He smiled, and the whip snaked down at the pyre, hissing.  –AGoT Dany X 

 

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When a horselord dies, his horse is slain with him, so he might ride proud into the night lands. The bodies are burned beneath the open sky, and the khal rises on his fiery steed to take his place among the stars. The more fiercely the man burned in life, the brighter his star will shine in the darkness.  –AGoT Dany X 

 

Alright, so Drogo has a grey horse that is going to carry him to the afterlife, and for the Dothraki the afterlife is to be reborn as a star.  Drogo’s star is the comet.  He rides his smoky horse into the comet which is a Lightbringer symbol.  If we go looking for another grey animal that can be the ‘in between’ for a dead king on his way to Lightbringer and/or Azor Ahai Reborn what can we find?  Drogo can be considered a horse king, and he rides a ‘smoky’ grey horse into Azor Ahai Reborn.  What would a dead wolf king ride?  Maybe a massive wolf that is a ‘Grey Wind’? 

 

The Red Wedding

 

The first two scenes involve huge fires.  This one is a wedding.  How can a wedding serve as a lightbringer forging?  Here are two quotes I used before but with different parts bolded. 

 

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And now the flames reached her Drogo, and now they were all around him. His clothing took fire, and for an instant the khal was clad in wisps of floating orange silk and tendrils of curling smoke, grey and greasy. Dany's lips parted and she found herself holding her breath. Part of her wanted to go to him as Ser Jorah had feared, to rush into the flames to beg for his forgiveness and take him inside her one last time, the fire melting the flesh from their bones until they were as one, forever.    –AGoT Dany X 

 

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The flames writhed before her like the women who had danced at her wedding, whirling and singing and spinning their yellow and orange and crimson veils, fearsome to behold, yet lovely, so lovely, alive with heat. Dany opened her arms to them, her skin flushed and glowing. This is a wedding, too, she thought.  –AGoT Dany X 

 

There is a “combining of two people into one” aspect to the creation of Lightbringer.  They are “melted” together.  That is why a wedding is such a good metaphor for it.  In particular, killing a king at a wedding to symbolically use his “King’s Blood” to fuel a blood magic ritual is such a good metaphor that GRRM used it twice in such a conspicuous way that literally everyone who reads these books wondered wtf is going on with weddings.  Lightbringer is a combination of Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa in one.  They are interchangeable.  That is why we sometimes see kings playing the Nissa Nissa role and being the sacrifice who dies and goes into Lightbringer. 

 

There are other important similarities between this scene and dragon hatching.  The fiery dancers are replaced with actual dancers.  There is no sorcerer singing magic spells, but the Greatjon is prominently singing.  It is not a great parallel as it stands, I admit.  There may be another master of ceremonies hiding where I cannot find him, or the Greatjon may better than I realize.  Either way there is enough without him.  There are dead kings at both as well, plus Robb gets a Nissa Nissa death further telling us what kind of scene we are watching.   

 

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A man in dark armor and a pale pink cloak spotted with blood stepped up to Robb.  "Jaime Lannister sends his regards." He thrust his longsword through her son's heart, and twisted.  –AsoS, Catelyn 7

 

So, what is the parallel to Drogo’s grey horse that he rides to the afterlife into Lightbringer?  I already mentioned it had to do with Grey Wind, but nothing specific.  I have to go on a small tangent.  I love crazy crackpot theories that have one rock solid bit of good evidence. I consider myself a connoisseur of them.  I even have a theory about these theories.  I think some of the good, but kinda tinfoil theories floating around out there are a result of people finding the cleverly hidden and totally legitimate parallels between different character’s arcs and their respective lightbringer forgings (I think if we look hard enough we will find anyone who is anyone gets them), but just not quite connecting them to the big (enormous) picture.  One of my favorites is that Robb skinchanged Catelyn when he died and Lady Stoneheart is him or partly him.  I will summarize the parts of it that made the most sense to me for those of you not familiar with it.  When Varamyr Sixskins dies he tries to claim Thistle’s body.  In reaction to that she scratched her face with her nails.  When Jon Snow is stabbed, his last word is “Ghost”, which a lot of people (me included) think means he went into his direwolf when he died.  Robb’s last words are “Mother” and “Grey Wind”, and Catelyn scratches her face violently right after he dies and may be evidence she was skinchanged. 

 

That is IMO a great reason to be thinking along these lines, even if I disagree with the conclusion.  I think Robb symbolically skinchanges his mother, using Grey Wind as a go between, who later becomes a GREAT Azor Ahai reborn symbol in Lady Stoneheart, the undead person with fiery eyes who lives under a weirwood tree, hangs people from trees, beginning a reign of terror in her domain.  Even though I do not see any reason that Robb’s soul actually went into Lady Stoneheart, we definitely should be looking at Robb symbolically skinchanging Grey Wind and an Azor Ahai Reborn person upon his death.  And who knows, maybe I will be convinced part of him is in there later.  It is a pretty popular idea that Jon is doing something similar to this right now.  If he goes into Ghost after death then brought out later into a reborn form, he will actually be doing what Robb is symbolically doing here.  I think this points to a larger trend and makes me wonder about skinchanging’s role in the creation of Lightbringer.  It also means that the animal mount for the dead’s soul can be white as well as grey which I will need in a moment. 

 

I want to stop here for a second to point out that kings dying and royal weddings are the things that cause the bells in King’s Landing to ring.  Drogo and Jinglebell both wear bells in their hair and the latter’s bells are ringing at the end of the scene as his throat is cut.  Also, there is this from the false forging scene…

 

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Behind, Davos heard a faint clank and clatter of bells. "Under the sea, smoke rises in bubbles, and flames burn green and blue and black," Patchface sang somewhere. "I know, I know, oh, oh, oh."     –ACoK, Davos 1

 

So, there are bells in hair and bells in a tower ringing loudly.  This should be the part where I blow everyone away with my amazing analysis of what the bells mean.  Unfortunately, I am not sure if I have a handle on it and to explain the two ideas I have would take this ship way off course into uncharted seas, and there would be a lot of moaning and eye rolling as I poorly explained other people’s ideas and ruined our flow.  I will just point out the pattern and perhaps with the help of people much smarter than I in a month’s time we will crack it in the comments section. 

 

While we are talking about the bells in King’s Landing ringing…

 

 

The Purple Wedding

 

Who is Azor Ahai Reborn here is less obvious (spoiler alert: it’s Sansa).  The dancers and dead kings are present here too.  I pulled one quote because not all dancers are the same. 

 

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Grand Maester Pycelle fell asleep while dancers from the Summer Isles swirled and spun in robes made of bright feathers and smoky silk.  –AsoS, Tyrion 8

 

That is exactly the language used to describe the fiery dancers from the first two chapters.  There are plenty of named singers performing to be our master of ceremonies here.  So, now I will get straight to what interests me the most, the animal representing our Azor Ahai reborn person who is changed, set free and sent on her path.  What animal does Sansa represent most often up until this point in the story?  It’s not a wolf. 

 

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Some septa trained you well. You're like one of those birds from the Summer Isles, aren't you? A pretty little talking bird, repeating all the pretty little words they taught you to recite."   --AGoT, Sansa 2

 

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"No," he growled at her, "no, little bird, he was no true knight."  --AGoT, Sansa 2

 

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The Hound was right, she thought, I am only a little bird, repeating the words they taught me. --AGoT, Sansa 6

 

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The bodice was slashed in front almost to her belly, the deep vee covered over with a panel of ornate Myrish lace in dove-grey. –AsoS, Sansa 3

 

I could fill a page with quotes of The Hound calling Sansa a little bird.  I also found one where she dresses like a dove. 

 

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Joffrey and Margaery joined hands to lift the greatsword and swung it down together in a silvery arc. When the piecrust broke, the doves burst forth in a swirl of white feathers, scattering in every direction, flapping for the windows and the rafters. A roar of delight went up from the benches, and the fiddlers and pipers in the gallery began to play a sprightly tune. Joff took his bride in his arms, and whirled her around merrily.  –AsoS, Tyrion 8

 

 

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A serving man placed a slice of hot pigeon pie in front of Tyrion and covered it with a spoon of lemon cream. The pigeons were well and truly cooked in this pie, but he found them no more appetizing than the white ones fluttering about the hall. Sansa was not eating either. "You're deathly pale, my lady," Tyrion said. "You need a breath of cool air, and I need a fresh doublet." He stood and offered her his hand. "Come."  –AsoS, Tyrion 8

    

So, here there are birds that are set free and birds that are cooked.  Those are two of the things that happen to a person going through this ritual.  They are released, sent on their path of destiny, and transformed by fire.  They even put a dab of lemon cream on one, possibly, to make us think of lemon cake loving Sansa.  Catelyn’s role in the endgame of the story is as Lady Stoneheart.  Sansa’s is as a manipulator like she is learning to be in the Vale.  These events set out heroes on their path. 

 

Other scenes that should be given more consideration imo are Bran after the Winterfell burning.  Just like the theory that Robb skinchanged his mom, I believe, can be explained by this way of thinking, the ‘dragon under Winterfell’ theories stem from the very real parallels between that scene and the dragon hatching.  Bran is underground in the darkness that I believe symbolizes being trapped in the WWnet.  Then he skinchanges a grey animal outside and sees the dragon comet after a large, important fire.  That event sends him headed north to see the three-eyed crow.  Tyrion’s trial by combat in King’s Landing followed by his escape/release that sends him to Mereen may be his version of this.  He kills his Nissa Nissa and usurps/sacrifices his symbolic solar king father in the process.  Also, perhaps the battle at Castle Black that results in the death of Ygritte and Jon becoming Lord Commander.  This is by no means a well-rounded theory tied up with a bow, but more a stream of consciousness, series of observations I wanted to share so others could help get to the bottom of this.

 

Thanks for reading everyone and keep an eye out for these dramatic, character arc altering scenes.  This puzzle, like all the good ones, requires a collaborative effort.     

 

 

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    You pointed very interesting things :

- I don't recall of having heard the theory of Robb skinchanging his mother before, but I think it's a bit disturbing but not so crackpot. At least, if Robb's soul isn't yet in LSH body, there could be have a strong contact through the blood : with smoke, salt (of the tears), fires, iron and blood, the red wedding was a great blood magic ritual who cursed all the present people (but perhaps the nuptial room/bed was partially spared like in the story of Durran and Elenei) and it's plausible that a part of Robb's soul remains in LSH, as memories of deads go into earth and weirwood's roots when bones are burried and became part of weirwood's memories.

 

- Then this : 

5 hours ago, Unchained said:

She saw a horse, a great grey stallion limned in smoke, its flowing mane a nimbus of blue flame. Yes, my love, my sun-and-stars, yes, mount now, ride now.  –AGoT Dany X

 I link the "nimbus of blue flame" to the Others :

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The Other halted. Will saw its eyes;blue, deeper and bluer than any human eyes, a blue that burned like ice. (Prologue, AGOT)

and further, Waymar Royce "resurrected" has this light too :

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The right eye was open. The pupil burned blue. It saw.

So, the conclusion I have is that the "color" of the soul is blue, and in the case of the Others, this is probably the soul of a skinchanger. 

To go further and make the link with the present of the saga, perhaps the "great" Other was a king who was murdered by treason :was it during a "hunt" (like Robert or Jeor Mormont) ? Or during a wedding/a feast (like Robb or Joffrey) ? Was it a situation like the siege of Winterfell with Stannis/Bolton/Frey/Manderly (a wedding in the castle and some trapps and hunts and escapes all around, and even in the castle) ? 

By the way, we could have the situation well resumed by Patchface : 

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When the fool saw Davos, he jerked to a sudden halt, the bells on his antlered tin helmet going ting-a-ling, ting-a-ling. Hopping from one foot to the other, he sang, "Fool's blood, king's blood, blood on the maiden's thigh, but chains for the guests and chains for the bridegroom, aye aye aye." Shireen almost caught him then, but at the last instant he hopped over a patch of bracken and vanished among the trees.(Davos II, ASOS)

 Perhaps a king was murdered, and perhaps after that the "usurper" wed his promised princess and became king (like Ned wed Catelyn after Brandon's death), and perhaps all the lineage of the new king was cursed, and the guest with (now I wonder if the Royce couldn't have been some guests of the ancients Stark ^^). 

Is the blood a chain for souls as same as it is life ?  

 

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@Unchained So much to think about here - thank you.

I hadn't noticed all the yellow, spinning dancers, but there's a lot!  My first reaction is that the human dancers are the key to the puzzle, not the puzzle itself - so we have human dancers at a wedding of humans, and flame dancers at the wedding of human to fire. The link is the hatching scene where Dany thinks 'This is a wedding, too....'

There may be counter examples. I hope not, I like the idea of Stannis being not entirely a fake. I used to think Dany was married to her dragons, like the wildings say a warg is married to his wolf. But maybe not, maybe both Dany and Stannis are married to Rhllor. They are both versions of Azor Ahai after all.

Is blood magic and the power of king's blood separate from fire magic, or the same thing? Maggy the Frog doesn't need fire to read Cersei's fortune, but does use blood. On the other hand, Beric does use blood to ignite his sword. Either the magics are from the same source, or they just fit very well together.

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11 hours ago, Unchained said:

So what is going on with here?  Why are wedding so deadly especially for kings?  I will attempt to explain it as best to my understanding.  ASoIaF is full of blood sacrifice.  I will start by pointing out the obvious, practical, if Machiavellian, reason to kill a king. 

Melisandre is frequently wrong, but she has got this part right (I think).  Sacrificing a king is the most powerful of all the terrible, bloody, evil, forbidden magic.  

 

Now that all that is out of the way, just to be clear, what I am saying is that the weddings with dead kings are reenactments of Lightbringer being forged.

Ok, so there is a clear pattern emerging here with singers, dancers, and sorcerers in fiery, smoky robes.

There are other important similarities between this scene and dragon hatching.  The fiery dancers are replaced with actual dancers.  There is no sorcerer singing magic spells, but the Greatjon is prominently singing.  It is not a great parallel as it stands, I admit.  There may be another master of ceremonies hiding where I cannot find him, or the Greatjon may better than I realize.  Either way there is enough without him.  There are dead kings at both as well, plus Robb gets a Nissa Nissa death further telling us what kind of scene we are watching.   

I think this points to a larger trend and makes me wonder about skinchanging’s role in the creation of Lightbringer.

The Purple Wedding

That is exactly the language used to describe the fiery dancers from the first two chapters.  There are plenty of named singers performing to be our master of ceremonies here.  So, now I will get straight to what interests me the most, the animal representing our Azor Ahai reborn person who is changed, set free and sent on her path.  What animal does Sansa represent most often up until this point in the story?  It’s not a wolf. 

So, here there are birds that are set free and birds that are cooked.  Those are two of the things that happen to a person going through this ritual.  They are released, sent on their path of destiny, and transformed by fire.  They even put a dab of lemon cream on one, possibly, to make us think of lemon cake loving Sansa.  Catelyn’s role in the endgame of the story is as Lady Stoneheart.  Sansa’s is as a manipulator like she is learning to be in the Vale.  These events set out heroes on their path. 

Other scenes that should be given more consideration imo are Bran after the Winterfell burning.  Just like the theory that Robb skinchanged his mom, I believe, can be explained by this way of thinking, the ‘dragon under Winterfell’ theories stem from the very real parallels between that scene and the dragon hatching.  Bran is underground in the darkness that I believe symbolizes being trapped in the WWnet.  Then he skinchanges a grey animal outside and sees the dragon comet after a large, important fire.  That event sends him headed north to see the three-eyed crow. 

This is terrific! Anything that helps to decipher the birds in the pie is first-class analysis, in my mind. So thank you for that, in particular. But this whole approach is excellent and helps to put a few important pieces into place.

One note about the purple wedding singer: I think it's significant that Alaric of Eysen is the announced singer just before Joffrey starts to choke. We figured out on the pun thread that there is a layered pun around eyes / Ice / Ei (the German word for egg) and Eisen (the German word for steel - or is it iron?). The deliberate spelling of "Eysen" calls attention to the eyes / Eisen wordplay at this wedding where Widow's Wail has just been presented to the groom. Note also the detail where the sword that Ser Ilyn presents to Joffrey with the death's head pommel has eyes like "points" (iirc). So it's a "stick 'em with the pointy end" moment, involving a sword with eyes. (= Ice.) I haven't been able to figure out the meaning of Ser Ilyn's silver sword covered with runes, but maybe it is the ghost of Ice! Ser Ilyn is the archetypical Stranger, so it makes sense that he would carry a dead sword. It also fits your pattern, I think, that the sword of Sansa's house would play a role in Joffrey's death.

Re skinchanging and Lightbringer: Speaking of points, Tywin makes a big point of specifying that the scabbard for Joffrey's sword should have rubies on it. These are red, of course, so they have a Lannister association, but they are also associated with creating and sustaining a glamor. This could be a way of representing that Widow's Wail is still really a piece of Ice in disguise (old swords remember), not really the new sword Tywin would like everyone to think it is.

In the details of Joffrey's final moments, there are a lot of indications that he is a sword being reforged: Garlan Tyrell pounds on him and Mace Tyrell bellows. Joffrey's face turns red (like heated metal) then black (like cooling metal). There are other fascinating details in that scene that may match up with your Lightbringer notion but I want to discuss some of the other "wedding" feasts.

The Greatjon is closely linked to Grey Wind. The direwolf bites off two of his fingers. Not only do the direwolves seem to transmit to their Stark kids the qualities of the people they attack (Ghost bites Qhorin Halfhand; Shaggy bites Maester Luwin and one of the Walders; Grey Wind tears an arm off a Lannister soldier, setting up a Jaime comparison; Nymeria bites Joffrey) but the removal of fingers seems to create a hard-to-break loyalty bond between a king or other finger-remover and the person who loses the fingers: Davos - Stannis being the best example. There is a point at which Robb threatens to send the Greatjon on the diplomatic mission to Renly and Caitlyn reflects that he might as well send his direwolf before she reluctantly agrees to take the job. (Which is probably further support for the symbolic skinchanging you see involving Robb / Catelyn / Grey Wind. Aside: How interesting that Catelyn's journey allows her to be present for the death of King Renly, just after his symbolic wedding to Brienne. When he makes her a member of his Rainbow Guard, he places a cloak over her shoulders, just as a groom would do with a bride at a wedding. But there is also a feast where Renly converses with Ser Loras and feeds Margaery off the tip of a knife, so he may have married all three while Catelyn is present.)

Just one more: as further support for your "Bran hatching from the crypt" theory, re-read the Harvest Feast scene thinking of a wedding feast. So many of the details you uncover fit that chapter:

Bran arrives on a horse called Dancer, who is wearing Stark-colored bardings. This is like a bride wearing the cloak of her groom.

Bran drinks from his father's cup with a direwolf face on it. (Joffrey joked about chipping the direwolf sigil off the wedding chalice that Mace Tyrell gave him, but he didn't do it.)

Bran sends a plate of root vegetables to Big an Little Walder. (Roots are pretty important in the symbolism surrounding Bran.) Why would he want the Walders to have roots? Maybe because they share a name with Bran's bride, HODOR! (And it could foreshadow Bran's later marriage to the Weirwood net, where he will eat weirwood paste. "Wald" is the German word for woods or forest.)

Hodor is the first person to dance when the music begins. (Lord Manderly provided the singer, I believe. There seems to be a significance that there aren't singers at Winterfell, which raises the issue of how Sansa knew how to sing.)

Bran has another drink from his father's cup at this point and symbolically dies. He realizes he can't dance, and this makes him sad.

Instead of leaving on his horse, Bran is loaded onto the back of the new dancer, Hodor. This is the symbolic bedding portion of the wedding feast. On the way to Bran's bedroom, he and Hodor see two people having sex in the hallway. Hodor puts Bran into bed and leaves with a warning from Bran not to bother the people having sex in the hallway. Does this represent an unconsummated marriage, like Renly / Margaery and Joffrey / Margaery and Tyrion / Sansa?

Later in the books, sadly, Bran will "rape" Hodor when he skinchanges into him.

This night, however, Bran has a wolf dream (he doesn't know what warging is yet) and enters Summer just as Jojen and Meera open the door to the gods wood and meet the wolves. Summer and Shaggy Dog have been wanting that door open for days, as they were banished after Shaggy bit one of the Walders.

In other words, I think you are right about Bran hatching - the hero being set on his path - after the castle burns. The missing elements from your wedding feast pattern were present in this earlier chapter.

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Thanks for commenting everyone and there are some really great ones.  

17 hours ago, GloubieBoulga said:

 To go further and make the link with the present of the saga, perhaps the "great" Other was a king who was murdered by treason :was it during a "hunt" (like Robert or Jeor Mormont) ? Or during a wedding/a feast (like Robb or Joffrey) ? Was it a situation like the siege of Winterfell with Stannis/Bolton/Frey/Manderly (a wedding in the castle and some trapps and hunts and escapes all around, and even in the castle) ? 

By the way, we could have the situation well resumed by Patchface : 

 Perhaps a king was murdered, and perhaps after that the "usurper" wed his promised princess and became king (like Ned wed Catelyn after Brandon's death), and perhaps all the lineage of the new king was cursed, and the guest with (now I wonder if the Royce couldn't have been some guests of the ancients Stark ^^). 

Is the blood a chain for souls as same as it is life ?  

 

There is a lot I want to talk about here, I am not sure where to start.  I love that Patchface quote as it relates to what I am thinking about.  It clearly relates to the red wedding, and the bridegroom get chains.  That is amazing(I am obviously all about chains).  Are you familiar with the idea that the weirwoods are traps for evil spirits coming from the discovery that a weir and a garth is a wooden fish trap?  I believe that is a core theme in the books.  At the red wedding the bridegroom is imprisoned and I'll be damned if he isn't a fish who can now be thought of as in chains.  My personal crackpot theory is that the spirits are freed from captivity when the trees are destroyed (unchained if you will, like Shaggydog the dark wolf with green eyes when he attacks Maester Luwin while he was supposed to be chained up).  The first men were destroying weirwoods before the Long night hit according to what we are told.  I think the 'Great Other', whatever he is, is imprisoned in the Winterfell heart tree.  What you are saying about him being a king who was killed is exactly what I am looking to prove and you look like you are on a similiar idea.  Direwolves seem to be akin to Cerberus as a guardian of the underworld.  The Starks could indeed be cursed to guard that tree for eternity (blood as a chain).  If the prisoner in the tree was a Stark like the Night's king allegedly was, then that could be the meaning of 'there must always be a Stark in Winterfell'.  It is pointed out as early as AGoT Catelyn 1 that all the weirwoods below the Neck were destroyed(which does not seem to be true but most were).  However, the ones in the north were protected from both the pre-pact first men and the Andals, so according to my tinfoil theory whatever was trapped there is still trapped(for now).  

 

I now realize that I mixed established ideas with my crazy ones just now.  Probably shouldn't have done that, but I'm not changing it.  In my experience even wrong theories inspire useful thought.  I am not too concerned with being wrong repeatedly.     

 

17 hours ago, Springwatch said:

@Unchained So much to think about here - thank you.

I hadn't noticed all the yellow, spinning dancers, but there's a lot!  My first reaction is that the human dancers are the key to the puzzle, not the puzzle itself - so we have human dancers at a wedding of humans, and flame dancers at the wedding of human to fire. The link is the hatching scene where Dany thinks 'This is a wedding, too....'

There may be counter examples. I hope not, I like the idea of Stannis being not entirely a fake. I used to think Dany was married to her dragons, like the wildings say a warg is married to his wolf. But maybe not, maybe both Dany and Stannis are married to Rhllor. They are both versions of Azor Ahai after all.

Is blood magic and the power of king's blood separate from fire magic, or the same thing? Maggy the Frog doesn't need fire to read Cersei's fortune, but does use blood. On the other hand, Beric does use blood to ignite his sword. Either the magics are from the same source, or they just fit very well together.

In hindsight, I overstepped calling Stannis fake.  I believe that he is one of the "lies" Dany will slay per the HotU vision and that his sword gives off light due to a ruby Mel put in the hilt to use a glamour.  However at the end of the day this story is not about dragons, flaming swords, or prophecy, but people.  The Lightbringer forgings are, first and foremost, ingenious vehicles for character development imo, and Stannis' sword forging and belief that he is AA affects a lot of people, so it is as real as any at the very least in that way.

 

As for the division of magic types, I have no idea.  If I were to hazard a guess I would say that blood is not its own form of magic, but rather it can corrupt and empower any type.  Either that or all magic involves blood sacrifice.  We see people being sacrificed to weirwood trees, in burning, and sacrificed to the Others.  It seems to be in everything.   

 

11 hours ago, Seams said:

This is terrific! Anything that helps to decipher the birds in the pie is first-class analysis, in my mind. So thank you for that, in particular. But this whole approach is excellent and helps to put a few important pieces into place.

One note about the purple wedding singer: I think it's significant that Alaric of Eysen is the announced singer just before Joffrey starts to choke. We figured out on the pun thread that there is a layered pun around eyes / Ice / Ei (the German word for egg) and Eisen (the German word for steel - or is it iron?). The deliberate spelling of "Eysen" calls attention to the eyes / Eisen wordplay at this wedding where Widow's Wail has just been presented to the groom. Note also the detail where the sword that Ser Ilyn presents to Joffrey with the death's head pommel has eyes like "points" (iirc). So it's a "stick 'em with the pointy end" moment, involving a sword with eyes. (= Ice.) I haven't been able to figure out the meaning of Ser Ilyn's silver sword covered with runes, but maybe it is the ghost of Ice! Ser Ilyn is the archetypical Stranger, so it makes sense that he would carry a dead sword. It also fits your pattern, I think, that the sword of Sansa's house would play a role in Joffrey's death.

Re skinchanging and Lightbringer: Speaking of points, Tywin makes a big point of specifying that the scabbard for Joffrey's sword should have rubies on it. These are red, of course, so they have a Lannister association, but they are also associated with creating and sustaining a glamor. This could be a way of representing that Widow's Wail is still really a piece of Ice in disguise (old swords remember), not really the new sword Tywin would like everyone to think it is.

In the details of Joffrey's final moments, there are a lot of indications that he is a sword being reforged: Garlan Tyrell pounds on him and Mace Tyrell bellows. Joffrey's face turns red (like heated metal) then black (like cooling metal). There are other fascinating details in that scene that may match up with your Lightbringer notion but I want to discuss some of the other "wedding" feasts.

The Greatjon is closely linked to Grey Wind. The direwolf bites off two of his fingers. Not only do the direwolves seem to transmit to their Stark kids the qualities of the people they attack (Ghost bites Qhorin Halfhand; Shaggy bites Maester Luwin and one of the Walders; Grey Wind tears an arm off a Lannister soldier, setting up a Jaime comparison; Nymeria bites Joffrey) but the removal of fingers seems to create a hard-to-break loyalty bond between a king or other finger-remover and the person who loses the fingers: Davos - Stannis being the best example. There is a point at which Robb threatens to send the Greatjon on the diplomatic mission to Renly and Caitlyn reflects that he might as well send his direwolf before she reluctantly agrees to take the job. (Which is probably further support for the symbolic skinchanging you see involving Robb / Catelyn / Grey Wind. Aside: How interesting that Catelyn's journey allows her to be present for the death of King Renly, just after his symbolic wedding to Brienne. When he makes her a member of his Rainbow Guard, he places a cloak over her shoulders, just as a groom would do with a bride at a wedding. But there is also a feast where Renly converses with Ser Loras and feeds Margaery off the tip of a knife, so he may have married all three while Catelyn is present.)

Just one more: as further support for your "Bran hatching from the crypt" theory, re-read the Harvest Feast scene thinking of a wedding feast. So many of the details you uncover fit that chapter:

Bran arrives on a horse called Dancer, who is wearing Stark-colored bardings. This is like a bride wearing the cloak of her groom.

Bran drinks from his father's cup with a direwolf face on it. (Joffrey joked about chipping the direwolf sigil off the wedding chalice that Mace Tyrell gave him, but he didn't do it.)

Bran sends a plate of root vegetables to Big an Little Walder. (Roots are pretty important in the symbolism surrounding Bran.) Why would he want the Walders to have roots? Maybe because they share a name with Bran's bride, HODOR! (And it could foreshadow Bran's later marriage to the Weirwood net, where he will eat weirwood paste. "Wald" is the German word for woods or forest.)

Hodor is the first person to dance when the music begins. (Lord Manderly provided the singer, I believe. There seems to be a significance that there aren't singers at Winterfell, which raises the issue of how Sansa knew how to sing.)

Bran has another drink from his father's cup at this point and symbolically dies. He realizes he can't dance, and this makes him sad.

Instead of leaving on his horse, Bran is loaded onto the back of the new dancer, Hodor. This is the symbolic bedding portion of the wedding feast. On the way to Bran's bedroom, he and Hodor see two people having sex in the hallway. Hodor puts Bran into bed and leaves with a warning from Bran not to bother the people having sex in the hallway. Does this represent an unconsummated marriage, like Renly / Margaery and Joffrey / Margaery and Tyrion / Sansa?

Later in the books, sadly, Bran will "rape" Hodor when he skinchanges into him.

This night, however, Bran has a wolf dream (he doesn't know what warging is yet) and enters Summer just as Jojen and Meera open the door to the gods wood and meet the wolves. Summer and Shaggy Dog have been wanting that door open for days, as they were banished after Shaggy bit one of the Walders.

In other words, I think you are right about Bran hatching - the hero being set on his path - after the castle burns. The missing elements from your wedding feast pattern were present in this earlier chapter.

Hey Seams, I was hoping you would stumble onto my first OP.  First of all, WHOA that is a lot of good connections.  In my months on the forums before I started posting, I drew a lot from the stuff I saw you posting about, although most of the specific things you mention here are new to me.  I have only actually read through most of the books one time and I just started number 2.  With the next one I planned to lay out different character arcs looking at changes they go through and the symbolism behind it.  I will ask you the same question I asked @GloubieBoulga.  Are you familiar with the idea of weirwoods as traps?  I am all in on that find, and as a result, I want to look at characters that are imprisoned and/or freed as an important missing clue.  I was planning on looking for people who change, move to a new location, are trapped or released, scenes that look like symbolic magic rituals or symbolic weddings.  Until now I had no idea what a symbolic wedding actually looked like, other than the dragon hatching where Dany is helpful enough to tell us that it is one.  I had no idea that the idea of a symbolic wedding was something that was so well developed.  I may not be able to find any more, but you just doubled the length of the list of things I will be looking for on my reread, so thanks a ton.  Also, splitting Bran's version of this transformation into two scenes far apart, that is dirty GRRM, but I love it.  I will keep an eye out for that as well.    

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2 hours ago, Unchained said:

Are you familiar with the idea that the weirwoods are traps for evil spirits coming from the discovery that a weir and a garth is a wooden fish trap?  I believe that is a core theme in the books.  At the red wedding the bridegroom is imprisoned and I'll be damned if he isn't a fish who can now be thought of as in chains.  My personal crackpot theory is that the spirits are freed from captivity when the trees are destroyed (unchained if you will, like Shaggydog the dark wolf with green eyes when he attacks Maester Luwin while he was supposed to be chained up).  The first men were destroying weirwoods before the Long night hit according to what we are told.  I think the 'Great Other', whatever he is, is imprisoned in the Winterfell heart tree.  What you are saying about him being a king who was killed is exactly what I am looking to prove and you look like you are on a similiar idea

Yes, I'm totally with the idea of weirwoods as trap for spirits, but I don't think they are necessarely evil. 

For me, the spirit trapped in Winterfell heart tree is the spirit of the executed man (last vision of Bran in Bran III ADWD) who was said guilty for the murder of the king but was not responsible (as Tyrion for Joffrey, or Brienne for Renly, Theon for the sack of Winterfell, or Jon Snow and Benjen for Jeor Mormont like Thorne suggests it in ASOS). I think the king murdered stayed beyond the Wall (and the Wall was built to not let him pass, and even to hide the truth in kind of way; in other words, the Others are the unapeased spirit of this king and perhaps some of his companions). I think also that the one trapped in Winterfell heart's tree was a bastard. 

But all the "basic scenario" I have found implies also the Long Night never existed in the past but happens only during the time of the saga : the tales of that and about last hero/Azor Ahai/aso were only visions from people of the past of a future that some "inspired" people dreamt (greendreams, fire visions, visions with shade of the evening) and interpreted with their own culture, story and belief. In that way, I have also begin to study other tales like Lann the Clever, King of the Night, Bael, Durran and Eleneï, queen Alyssa Arryn, aso... but for some of them I'm coming to the conclusion that they are also talking about some events of the past : I mean, a forgotten true story which repreats without ending and whom peripeties are teared up in differents stories. 

For the basic scenario of the king murder, I have studied two episodes in particular : Renly's death (in fact all the Catelyn's chapters in ACOK when she goes to Renly and flies back to Riverrun) and the Chett's prologue in ASOS, where a brother crow plots against a "king" bear (they are fourteen and "fourteen is a good number" as Chett says, and that I take as a joke from GRRM to not say twelve or thirteen^^; they plot to kill not only the Old Bear but also some of his officers; this happens at the Fist and during a time where they are hunting wildlings, aso...)

About the chains, you should have a look to the Pinocchio thread initiated by @The Fattest Leech

 

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8 hours ago, Unchained said:

Hey Seams, I was hoping you would stumble onto my first OP.  First of all, WHOA that is a lot of good connections.  In my months on the forums before I started posting, I drew a lot from the stuff I saw you posting about, although most of the specific things you mention here are new to me.  I have only actually read through most of the books one time and I just started number 2.  With the next one I planned to lay out different character arcs looking at changes they go through and the symbolism behind it.  I will ask you the same question I asked @GloubieBoulga.  Are you familiar with the idea of weirwoods as traps?  I am all in on that find, and as a result, I want to look at characters that are imprisoned and/or freed as an important missing clue.  I was planning on looking for people who change, move to a new location, are trapped or released, scenes that look like symbolic magic rituals or symbolic weddings.  Until now I had no idea what a symbolic wedding actually looked like, other than the dragon hatching where Dany is helpful enough to tell us that it is one.  I had no idea that the idea of a symbolic wedding was something that was so well developed.  I may not be able to find any more, but you just doubled the length of the list of things I will be looking for on my reread, so thanks a ton.  Also, splitting Bran's version of this transformation into two scenes far apart, that is dirty GRRM, but I love it.  I will keep an eye out for that as well.    

Your first OP is a home run, so I am thrilled to be part of the discussion. It is great to have fresh, thoughtful perspectives on these complicated books and I really like your approach of tossing off ideas as a way of exploring and collaborating. Cheers.

The idea of a weirwood as a trap is fascinating and might explain a lot of things. (It makes me want to examine other things made of wood that might be traps: doesn't that initial message from Lysa to Catelyn arrive in a wooden box? Jaqen, Rorge and Biter are trapped in a wooden cage as part of Yoren's wagon train, but we WANT them to be trapped. I wonder if wooden boxes or barrels always symbolize traps?) I have been intrigued by the Black Gate, which I think of as an imprisoned weirwood tree within the Wall. Maybe the image of the imprisoned tree is a way of reminding us of the "Let the hunters become the hunted" phrase from Robb Stark when he is in the woods with Bran, Theon and the direwolves: weirwoods can be traps but can, in rare cases, be trapped themselves.

With your marriage metaphor in mind and the "woods" translation of the German word "Wald," all the Walders in the Frey dynasty take on a new meaning. With his ambitious efforts to marry into highborn families of Westeros, Lord Walder may be looking to trap each family within his "woods."

Which brings me to another thought that relates to both weddings and wooden traps: Asha Greyjoy teases Theon by pretending to be the wife of a shipbuilder. (I have been thinking of ships as wooden eggs that hatch at appropriate moments in a character's arc, but maybe they are part of the wooden trap motif.) Then she makes fun of him at a feast (feasts and weddings always seem to go together) where a finger dancer (Aha! There's your dancer discovery at work again.) throws her an axe. She catches the axe out of the air, slams it down in Theon's bread bowl (symbolic castration?) and says it is her husband. She then pulls a dirk (knife) out of her shirt and says it is her suckling babe.

We know that Westeros tradition is to put a cloak over the brides shoulders. Could the Ironborn version of a wedding ceremony involve an axe? We also see Doran Mortell's guard, Areo Hotah, who is married to his long axe, so it's not entirely an Ironborn symbol. So it must just be a present that GRRM created for readers who go Justin-Bieber-rapturous over literary metaphors. Because who gives an axe to Jaqen H'Ghar but Arya? Who gives an axe to Craster but Jeor Mormont? Are these also symbolic weddings? If wooden things, such as weirwood trees, are traps, what does it mean to be given a tool or to marry a tool that is used to cut down trees? Just a terrific new connection and line of thought, thanks to the connection you made in the OP and follow-up. This is the thing I look forward to in this forum, so thank you.

In reply to your comment: I don't know if the idea of symbolic weddings is well developed. I'm just trying to fit puzzle pieces together, like everyone else. Your discovery or description of some of the standard wedding elements helped to make sense of a few things that hadn't fallen into place earlier. We each  go down a few blind alleys but then find that someone has offered a fresh perspective, and that helps to open a new insight or bring up something old that is worth reconsidering.

Here are couple more wedding-related things that your thread has churned up in my thinking:

I was using the search site to look at the word "bundle" because I am trying to understand the ACoK chapter where Jon finds the bundle of dragonglass at the Fist of the First Men. In the whole series, the first reference to a bundle is to Robb holding in his arms the direwolf pup that will be Grey Wind. Given that the Free Folk say that wargs "marry" their wolves, that scene may show Robb's "marriage" to his wolf. The various wolves have different symbolic meanings, I think, but Grey Wind is often associated with war and bloodshed - he is a weapon. (Later, Catelyn will see that Robb is married to his sword.) Long story short: in Robb's initial introduction to the reader, he is cradling a weapon in his arms. The fact that, with the help of his direwolf, Jon Snow later finds a bundle of arrowheads, spear points and daggers confirms (in my mind) the connection of bundles / weapons and direwolves. BUT. The bundle found by Jon Snow is wrapped in a cloak - like a bride of Westeros. Who put the cloak around the dragonglass cache is a major question, but I'm leaning toward Benjen in either the literal or symbolic sense. Another Stark "married" to a weapon.

When they take their vow, the Night's Watch brothers promise to "be" swords and to forego the fathering of children, essentially "marrying" the Night's Watch itself. But your suggestion of the weirwood trap has me thinking about Jon and Sam taking their vow in the weirwood grove. Are they trapped in the weirwood through this act? (Bowen Marsh says they cannot bring horses into the sacred grove, which might get at the dancer symbolism that is a necessary element of a wedding, in the pattern you identified.) This might help us to understand some of the cliques within the Night's Watch: some brothers take their vow before a heart tree, others in the sight of the Seven Gods.

In the Puns and Wordplay thread, the effort to decode the wedding pies has been long and complicated. At a relatively early stage, we thought that pie and pyre were probably a match, with birds flying out of the wedding pies and dragons flying out of Dany's flaming pyre. I always thought it was odd that GRRM made a point of including the details that the doves from Joffrey / Margaery's pie flew up to the rafters. So this may show the birds being freed from the pie only to be caught up in a new kind of wooden trap - rafters or a raft. On the other hand, on my most recent re-read of ACoK, I took note that Gendry says "anyone can build a raft" when he and the others in Yoren's group are figuring out how to get north asap. This is just after Arya has seen black swans - a symbol of herself - paddling on the God's Eye. So rafters and rafts are built of trees that have been CUT DOWN. Maybe they represent a means of freedom, where complete, living trees represent the traps you identified? This might fit with the idea of the pyre, which is made of burned wood - the dragons are magically free only after the wood is destroyed.

This is getting long, and I apologize but I have one more thought to bring in: your fascination with chains, as shown by your username, is much like my fascination with fabric, I suspect. And I think there is overlap: mail. In the opening prologue, Ser Waymar's first wound comes from a cut through his mail. I think this becomes a really important metaphor about the way that characters and stories are linked in all directions and the ways that mail can be rusted or cut, can cause a character to be too hot or to have protection from attack. I suspect the Myrish Lace might be the female equivalent of mail. (And there will probably be a pun involving letters and mail.) Just one more thing to keep an eye on for your re-read.

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30 minutes ago, Seams said:

I was using the search site to look at the word "bundle" because I am trying to understand the ACoK chapter where Jon finds the bundle of dragonglass at the Fist of the First Men. In the whole series, the first reference to a bundle is to Robb holding in his arms the direwolf pup that will be Grey Wind. Given that the Free Folk say that wargs "marry" their wolves, that scene may show Robb's "marriage" to his wolf.

(Funny because I just discovered a ancient and popular tradition in England (more particulary in Wales and Ireland) who was called "bundling" : when two young people were interested by eachother, their parents could organize a "bundling" before an eventually marriage : the parents of the young woman invited the young man in their house. Then, he was bundled in a sack and put in the bed with the young woman. The two had the night for them. This practice is attested in 17e and 18e centuries, but during victorian period was abandonned. We know it because chistians predicators and priests were strongly against this tradition.

She gained apparently some new interest in 60's but it seems ot was more fokloric than a real return of ancient tradition. And in a society who permit relation without being married, it has less justification.) 

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39 minutes ago, Seams said:

In the Puns and Wordplay thread, the effort to decode the wedding pies has been long and complicated. At a relatively early stage, we thought that pie and pyre were probably a match, with birds flying out of the wedding pies and dragons flying out of Dany's flaming pyre. I always thought it was odd that GRRM made a point of including the details that the doves from Joffrey / Margaery's pie flew up to the rafters. So this may show the birds being freed from the pie only to be caught up in a new kind of wooden trap - rafters or a raft. On the other hand, on my most recent re-read of ACoK, I took note that Gendry says "anyone can build a raft" when he and the others in Yoren's group are figuring out how to get north asap. This is just after Arya has seen black swans - a symbol of herself - paddling on the God's Eye. So rafters and rafts are built of trees that have been CUT DOWN. Maybe they represent a means of freedom, where complete, living trees represent the traps you identified? This might fit with the idea of the pyre, which is made of burned wood - the dragons are magically free only after the wood is destroyed.

All this make me hardly think to  :

Quote

From a smoking tower, a great stone beast took wing, breathing shadow fire. . . . mother of dragons, slayer of lies 

So : 

Quote

he guests stood, shouting and applauding and smashing their wine cups together as the great pie made its slow way down the length of the hall, wheeled along by a half-dozen beaming cooks. Two yards across it was, crusty and golden brown, and they could hear squeaks and thumpings coming from inside it.(Tyrion VIII, ASOS)

 

Could Joffrey's pie be a lying tower ? (french traduction don't help very much to understand what is the exact appearance of the pie (the french traduction suggest that the form il a wheel : so could it be the basis of a tower ?)

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3 hours ago, Seams said:

With your marriage metaphor in mind and the "woods" translation of the German word "Wald," all the Walders in the Frey dynasty take on a new meaning. With his ambitious efforts to marry into highborn families of Westeros, Lord Walder may be looking to trap each family within his "woods."

 

In the Puns and Wordplay thread, the effort to decode the wedding pies has been long and complicated. At a relatively early stage, we thought that pie and pyre were probably a match, with birds flying out of the wedding pies and dragons flying out of Dany's flaming pyre.

 

 

10 hours ago, GloubieBoulga said:

Yes, I'm totally with the idea of weirwoods as trap for spirits, but I don't think they are necessarely evil. 

For me, the spirit trapped in Winterfell heart tree is the spirit of the executed man (last vision of Bran in Bran III ADWD) who was said guilty for the murder of the king but was not responsible (as Tyrion for Joffrey, or Brienne for Renly, Theon for the sack of Winterfell, or Jon Snow and Benjen for Jeor Mormont like Thorne suggests it in ASOS). I think the king murdered stayed beyond the Wall (and the Wall was built to not let him pass, and even to hide the truth in kind of way; in other words, the Others are the unapeased spirit of this king and perhaps some of his companions). I think also that the one trapped in Winterfell heart's tree was a bastard. 

But all the "basic scenario" I have found implies also the Long Night never existed in the past but happens only during the time of the saga : the tales of that and about last hero/Azor Ahai/aso were only visions from people of the past of a future that some "inspired" people dreamt (greendreams, fire visions, visions with shade of the evening) and interpreted with their own culture, story and belief. In that way, I have also begin to study other tales like Lann the Clever, King of the Night, Bael, Durran and Eleneï, queen Alyssa Arryn, aso... but for some of them I'm coming to the conclusion that they are also talking about some events of the past : I mean, a forgotten true story which repreats without ending and whom peripeties are teared up in differents stories. 

For the basic scenario of the king murder, I have studied two episodes in particular : Renly's death (in fact all the Catelyn's chapters in ACOK when she goes to Renly and flies back to Riverrun) and the Chett's prologue in ASOS, where a brother crow plots against a "king" bear (they are fourteen and "fourteen is a good number" as Chett says, and that I take as a joke from GRRM to not say twelve or thirteen^^; they plot to kill not only the Old Bear but also some of his officers; this happens at the Fist and during a time where they are hunting wildlings, aso...)

About the chains, you should have a look to the Pinocchio thread initiated by @The Fattest Leech

 

There is a ton to digest here, but there are a few things I wanted to say now.  First Wald = Wood and Walder trying to trap people is too good not to be right.  A weir is specifically a fish trap and he catches a trout.  Edmure is possibly meant to be the best example in the books of the thing that is trapped in the tree.  It was something about him I wanted to post about and will get to in a moment.  Also pie/pyre fits perfectly here.  Where the idea of destroying trees to free whats inside initially came to me is detailed below, but if it is correct then Melisandre's mission of burning heart trees is a mistake of epic proportions.  She destroyed the one at Storms End, and says something to Jon about burning the one at Winterfell.  Red Priests freeing the thing in the tree makes a certain level of sense if the prisoner is in some way the original Azor Ahai, which I believe it is, because they see him as a hero, but as @LmL has gone over he has a pretty villainous side.  Anyway what just occurred to me, with the discovery that Edmure is a great symbol for the prisoner and given the fact that a lot of people think the Brotherhood Without Banners will free Edmure in the prologue due to us being told that Jeyne Westerling will be in it, is that if another red priest Thoros frees Edmure, it is the same thing Mel is doing burning heart trees.  If Thoros cuts Edmure's chains with his flaming sword my head may explode.  

 

That post from @The Fattest Leech gives me a lot of encouragement for a couple reasons.  If that essay is onto something then it proves that children's movies are something that is used in the books, and that was exactly what got me thinking about a lot of this.  When I was told about the trees = prisons idea, my mind went to the 1992 animated film Fern Gulley.  After some more thought I was blown away between the parallels of that movie's plot and the events around the First Men's arrival in Westros, conflict with the CotF, war for the dawn and pact.  I thought it was surely a coincidence, but if Pinocchio and as is suggested in the post The Little Mermaid are used it suddenly it becomes sorta plausible although I still am skeptical (I checked when The Little Mermaid was released to verify it was old enough and found it was released the exact day I was born which I am taking as a sign from the old gods that I am on the right track).  Anyway Fern Gulley is about a race of forest dwelling fairy people (CotF), who have an evil spirit trapped in a tree.  Then humans come blundering along cutting down trees (this is exactly what we are told the First men did that started the war with the children) and set it free.  Then there is some level of cooperation between the fairys and humans (last hero was helped by the CotF to fight the Others) to put it back into a new tree.  Afterwards, humans learned a lesson about cutting down trees (pact on the isle of faces where they promise not to cut down weirwoods anymore).                       

 

 

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11 minutes ago, Unchained said:


 

That post from @The Fattest Leech gives me a lot of encouragement for a couple reasons.  If that essay is onto something then it proves that children's movies are something that is used in the books, and that was exactly what got me thinking about a lot of this.  When I was told about the trees = prisons idea, my mind went to the 1992 animated film Fern Gulley.  After some more thought I was blown away between the parallels of that movie's plot and the events around the First Men's arrival in Westros, conflict with the CotF, war for the dawn and pact.  I thought it was surely a coincidence, but if Pinocchio and as is suggested in the post The Little Mermaid are used it suddenly it becomes sorta plausible although I still am skeptical (I checked when The Little Mermaid was released to verify it was old enough and found it was released the exact day I was born which I am taking as a sign from the old gods that I am on the right track).  Anyway Fern Gulley is about a race of forest dwelling fairy people (CotF), who have an evil spirit trapped in a tree.  Then humans come blundering along cutting down trees (this is exactly what we are told the First men did that started the war with the children) and set it free.  Then there is some level of cooperation between the fairys and humans (last hero was helped by the CotF to fight the Others) to put it back into a new tree.  Afterwards, humans learned a lesson about cutting down trees (pact on the isle of faces where they promise not to cut down weirwoods anymore).                       

 

 

Thank you and @GloubieBoulga for the mention. I am always (pleasantly) shocked when Pinocchio shows up in random places:D

@TyrionTLannister and I made a few small steps recently that may be the basis of a new query thread in a day or so. Check the newer Pinocchio posts out of you have time. It should be the last few posts on the last page.

I tend to lean a little more to the idea that George is using earlier works of the classic fairytales, which is so perfect for Bran because he is surrounded by fairytales everywhere he goes, and with a great tale teller like Old Nan clicking away with her needles. So, I guess the same with Arya, even though the Disney movie does stay pretty close to the original tale. You can read the original here if you want, just keeping in mind that George always twists his inspiration around a bit.  The Little Mermaid. She is wolf-fish ;)

Hey, wait... Bran has his fairytale arc played out with needles in the background, and so does Arya with her (currently) hidden Needle.

18 minutes ago, Unchained said:


(I checked when The Little Mermaid was released to verify it was old enough and found it was released the exact day I was born which I am taking as a sign from the old gods that I am on the right track).  

And in one fell swoop, I turned into an old lady. :lol:

18 minutes ago, Unchained said:

 

Anyway Fern Gulley is about a race of forest dwelling fairy people (CotF), who have an evil spirit trapped in a tree.  Then humans come blundering along cutting down trees (this is exactly what we are told the First men did that started the war with the children) and set it free.  Then there is some level of cooperation between the fairys and humans (last hero was helped by the CotF to fight the Others) to put it back into a new tree.  Afterwards, humans learned a lesson about cutting down trees (pact on the isle of faces where they promise not to cut down weirwoods anymore).                       

 

 

I love that movie Fern Gully. The message is nice and clear in that one... and it has a bat, which is my own personal spirit animal :wub:

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39 minutes ago, Unchained said:

There is a ton to digest here, but there are a few things I wanted to say now.  First Wald = Wood and Walder trying to trap people is too good not to be right.  A weir is specifically a fish trap and he catches a trout.  Edmure is possibly meant to be the best example in the books of the thing that is trapped in the tree.  It was something about him I wanted to post about and will get to in a moment.  Also pie/pyre fits perfectly here.  Where the idea of destroying trees to free whats inside initially came to me is detailed below, but if it is correct then Melisandre's mission of burning heart trees is a mistake of epic proportions.  She destroyed the one at Storms End, and says something to Jon about burning the one at Winterfell.  Red Priests freeing the thing in the tree makes a certain level of sense if the prisoner is in some way the original Azor Ahai, which I believe it is, because they see him as a hero, but as @LmL has gone over he has a pretty villainous side.  Anyway what just occurred to me, with the discovery that Edmure is a great symbol for the prisoner and given the fact that a lot of people think the Brotherhood Without Banners will free Edmure in the prologue due to us being told that Jeyne Westerling will be in it, is that if another red priest Thoros frees Edmure, it is the same thing Mel is doing burning heart trees.  If Thoros cuts Edmure's chains with his flaming sword my head may explode.  

Hey, nice catch on catching a trout, and the wald / wood thing. That makes sense, because Walder Frey sits in a high chair of black wood (black wood = corrupted greenseer, I think). Also, Edmure is not only caught in the trap, but also hung (or almost hung), a reference to Odin and Yggdrasil. That confirms without a doubt the idea of him being a fish trapped in a weir. Of course, the entire thing about fish people and people from the sea is really about people from the see. The Tully's are kissed by fire, but water associated. That is see dragon symbolism. So of course they are caught in the weir.

Yes, if the brotherhood liberates him, that will be the same thing. 

You're also right that Azor Ahai (or perhaps "the Azor Ahai people") are the ones trapped in the weir. That's because they were also green men / horned lords, as I have been screaming from the mountaintops. AZOR AHAI WAS A GREENSEER, YODELAY-HEE-HOO!

I feel like this "trapped in the wierwood" idea is a really great one. It also fits with describing Winterfell as a stone tree and a labyrinth. There's a horned monster trapped in there!

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46 minutes ago, Unchained said:

That post from @The Fattest Leech gives me a lot of encouragement for a couple reasons.  If that essay is onto something then it proves that children's movies are something that is used in the books, and that was exactly what got me thinking about a lot of this.  When I was told about the trees = prisons idea, my mind went to the 1992 animated film Fern Gulley.  After some more thought I was blown away between the parallels of that movie's plot and the events around the First Men's arrival in Westros, conflict with the CotF, war for the dawn and pact.  I thought it was surely a coincidence, but if Pinocchio and as is suggested in the post The Little Mermaid are used it suddenly it becomes sorta plausible although I still am skeptical (I checked when The Little Mermaid was released to verify it was old enough and found it was released the exact day I was born which I am taking as a sign from the old gods that I am on the right track).  Anyway Fern Gulley is about a race of forest dwelling fairy people (CotF), who have an evil spirit trapped in a tree.  Then humans come blundering along cutting down trees (this is exactly what we are told the First men did that started the war with the children) and set it free.  Then there is some level of cooperation between the fairys and humans (last hero was helped by the CotF to fight the Others) to put it back into a new tree.  Afterwards, humans learned a lesson about cutting down trees (pact on the isle of faces where they promise not to cut down weirwoods anymore).                       

 

In this scenario, it encourages us to think that fiery AA people got trapped in the weirs, but their consciousness, or some part of it, might have escaped and taken the form of the Others. You have read my essay, Grey King and the Sea Dragon, right? you remember the end where I showed all the many examples of fiery sorcerers swirling smoky cloaks and fiery dancers emerging from burning wood when Lightbringer is forged, right? Someone suggested that those fire sorcerers were actually the Others, which I had a hard time agreeing with, because there is no clue about them being icy or pale or anything like that. This burning sorcerer that emerges from the fire is like the vision of Drogo in the flames, who wears the fire and smoke raiment. He doesn't seem like an Other, but rather the spitting image of resurrected AA. 

Now, thing is, I believe that AA became the NK, and I believe the NK was making Others, and furthermore, that he might well have been the first person to make Others.  It's just like the black dragon, Aegon, creating the KG to protect him. A personal guard of white shadows with snowy armor to guard the black dragon. Technically, Visenya made the KG, but she is a NQ parallel and thus Aegon and Visenya is = to NK and NQ. Rhaegar (black dragon) and Lyanna of the winter rose is the same pattern.  That's why Jon is kind of like an Other, having the ice armor and the name snow (obviously he's like an alt-Other, having black ice, but you see the point). All of these depict a black dragon AA / NK type making Others with a NQ type. Point being, even if the burning sorcerer coming from the wood is not the Others, he may be the one who made the Others somehow. 

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7 minutes ago, LmL said:

In this scenario, it encourages us to think that fiery AA people got trapped in the weirs, but their consciousness, or some part of it, might have escaped and taken the form of the Others. You have read my essay, Grey King and the Sea Dragon, right? you remember the end where I showed all the many examples of fiery sorcerers swirling smoky cloaks and fiery dancers emerging from burning wood when Lightbringer is forged, right? Someone suggested that those fire sorcerers were actually the Others, which I had a hard time agreeing with, because there is no clue about them being icy or pale or anything like that. This burning sorcerer that emerges from the fire is like the vision of Drogo in the flames, who wears the fire and smoke raiment. He doesn't seem like an Other, but rather the spitting image of resurrected AA. 

Now, thing is, I believe that AA became the NK, and I believe the NK was making Others, and furthermore, that he might well have been the first person to make Others.  It's just like the black dragon, Aegon, creating the KG to protect him. A personal guard of white shadows with snowy armor to guard the black dragon. Technically, Visenya made the KG, but she is a NQ parallel and thus Aegon and Visenya is = to NK and NQ. Rhaegar (black dragon) and Lyanna of the winter rose is the same pattern.  That's why Jon is kind of like an Other, having the ice armor and the name snow (obviously he's like an alt-Other, having black ice, but you see the point). All of these depict a black dragon AA / NK type making Others with a NQ type. Point being, even if the burning sorcerer coming from the wood is not the Others, he may be the one who made the Others somehow. 

Haha, I read the Grey King stuff and the person who you are referring to saying the dancers became Others was me before I came up with a name I liked.  I no longer believe that either.  My best guess as to what they are now is in the OP.  They seem to be lesser participants in the ritual singing and dancing to aide what I have been referring to as the 'master of ceremonies' who is Melisandre and Mirri.  

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39 minutes ago, Unchained said:

Haha, I read the Grey King stuff and the person who you are referring to saying the dancers became Others was me before I came up with a name I liked.  I no longer believe that either.  My best guess as to what they are now is in the OP.  They seem to be lesser participants in the ritual singing and dancing to aide what I have been referring to as the 'master of ceremonies' who is Melisandre and Mirri.  

AA's henchmen, in other words. The "moonsingers?"

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8 minutes ago, LmL said:

AA's henchmen, in other words. The "moonsingers?"

Exactly, have you read it yet?  I talk about Drogo's smoky, grey, psychopomp, Sleipnir, Stallion who mounts carrying him to the comet and then find a few more places where the same thing is happening with other animals.  Sometimes they are white rather than grey, which I feel like works because rather than ash trees(grey columns of ash) who are world trees in this universe we have white weirwood trees.  Either color the message is the same.  

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On 2/25/2017 at 1:31 AM, Unchained said:

A thought everyone who has read these books has had is pretty well summed up by Tyrion as he watches a 2nd king die at a wedding.

So what is going on with here?  Why are wedding so deadly especially for kings?  I will attempt to explain it as best to my understanding.  ASoIaF is full of blood sacrifice.  I will start by pointing out the obvious, practical, if Machiavellian, reason to kill a king. 

Melisandre is frequently wrong, but she has got this part right (I think).  Sacrificing a king is the most powerful of all the terrible, bloody, evil, forbidden magic.  We should expect to see it in places showing us the clues and recreations of the ultimate blood ritual in ASoIaF, which is of course the tale of Azor Ahai, Nissa Nissa, and Lightbringer.  Here is the important part as it applies to us now.              

I can hear some people pointing out the issue with this.  We know king’s blood is the most powerful, but here it is the wife that is the sacrifice.  Well I wouldn’t get too hung up on it, in fact we are specifically told gender roles are not set in stone or even constant when we are deciphering prophecy.   

Now that all that is out of the way, just to be clear, what I am saying is that the weddings with dead kings are reenactments of Lightbringer being forged.  This not a revolutionary idea at all, I just felt it needed to be its own idea and I have some things to add.  Let’s first look at scenes we know are showing us this ritual and look for patterns.  The two obvious scenes are the one where we are told that Lightbringer is being made and the one that looks a lot like it where a different kind of Lightbringer is hatched.      

The False Forging & the Dragon Hatching

Credit goes to @LmL for putting me on the path of this line of similarities.  Now we will go through the scenes where Stannis makes his fake Lightbringer and the one where Dany hatches her dragons pulling quotes that look similar or interesting. 

Ok, so there is a clear pattern emerging here with singers, dancers, and sorcerers in fiery, smoky robes.  In one of these, a dead king is wearing the robes as well, and in another they dance before a great king.  Melisandre in her red priest attire singing in the language of Asshai and Mirri singing in her shrill, ululating voice go with this line of symbolism as well.  They are both sorcerers in different ways and singing and dancing are how you perform magic rituals in ASaIaF.  I like to think of the people seen in the fire like Mel and Mirri’s backup dancers who help perform the ritual.  I think of them like the gallery in the sacrifice scene from Indiana Jones and the temple of doom flailing their their arms around while the man’s heart is removed.  They may be something more, but for right now we will just be using them to tie one scene to another.  It is less important what they are than where they are.    

There is another vision in the fire at the Dragon Hatching that needs to be mentioned.  Time for more quotes…          

Alright, so Drogo has a grey horse that is going to carry him to the afterlife, and for the Dothraki the afterlife is to be reborn as a star.  Drogo’s star is the comet.  He rides his smoky horse into the comet which is a Lightbringer symbol.  If we go looking for another grey animal that can be the ‘in between’ for a dead king on his way to Lightbringer and/or Azor Ahai Reborn what can we find?  Drogo can be considered a horse king, and he rides a ‘smoky’ grey horse into Azor Ahai Reborn.  What would a dead wolf king ride?  Maybe a massive wolf that is a ‘Grey Wind’? 

Hi @Unchained -- very nice OP!  :)

So the 'grey horse' is the psychopomp/vehicle like Sleipnir.  In terms of Bran's Lightbringer forging then, perhaps that would be Hodor, who is given ample horse symbolism, and assists him in breaking free from and mobilizing beyond the bounds of Winterfell?  Or perhaps the psychopomp is Maester Luwin, the grey-robed maester or 'grey rat' (although he seems to be rather fulfilling the role of Nissa when he is sacrificed at or to the heart tree, as the price paid for Bran to leave Winterfell; presumably Osha puts a dagger through his heart)?  Or could the psychopomp in question be Summer the smoky silver grey wolf?  The red fiery steed on the other hand might be represented by Bran's Dancer who burnt to death in the barn with the other horses -- so the fiery dancer symbolism enacted.

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The Red Wedding

The first two scenes involve huge fires.  This one is a wedding.  How can a wedding serve as a lightbringer forging?  Here are two quotes I used before but with different parts bolded. 

There is a “combining of two people into one” aspect to the creation of Lightbringer.  They are “melted” together.  That is why a wedding is such a good metaphor for it. 

Indeed, LmL appropriately likens it to alchemy, denoting the scene of Dany's dragon-hatching as the 'alchemical wedding.'

'Melting' like 'smelting' alludes to the 'firing' process by which a sword is first melted down on the path to (re)forging -- as occurred with Ice.  Interestingly, the sword 'progeny' of such a smelting are often twins instead of singletons, as was the case with Ice giving rise to Oathkeeper and Widow's Wail.  Frequently, these 'twins' become separated from one another.

If we are considering Bran's escape from Winterfell in the context of a sword forging, then perhaps we can view Bran and Rickon as the 'twin' swords smuggled out of the forge/crypt of Winterfell.

As he lies dying, Luwin indicates as much to Osha, cautioning her that the precious heirs-- who thanks to Theon's ruse with the 'miller's boys' are in effect the surviving ancestral 'blades' as it were of House Stark -- should be separated, so that if harm should come to one, at least the other will remain to take up the mantle of Lord of Winterfell.  

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A Clash of Kings - Bran VII

"The godswood." Meera Reed ran after the direwolf, her shield and frog spear to hand. The rest of them trailed after, threading their way through smoke and fallen stones. The air was sweeter under the trees. A few pines along the edge of the wood had been scorched, but deeper in the damp soil and green wood had defeated the flames. "There is a power in living wood," said Jojen Reed, almost as if he knew what Bran was thinking, "a power strong as fire."

On the edge of the black pool, beneath the shelter of the heart tree, Maester Luwin lay on his belly in the dirt. A trail of blood twisted back through damp leaves where he had crawled. Summer stood over him, and Bran thought he was dead at first, but when Meera touched his throat, the maester moaned. "Hodor?" Hodor said mournfully. "Hodor?"

Gently, they eased Luwin onto his back. He had grey eyes and grey hair, and once his robes had been grey as well, but they were darker now where the blood had soaked through. "Bran," he said softly when he saw him sitting tall on Hodor's back. "And Rickon too." He smiled. "The gods are good. I knew . . . "

"Knew?" said Bran uncertainly.

"The legs, I could tell . . . the clothes fit, but the muscles in his legs . . . poor lad . . . " He coughed, and blood came up from inside him. "You vanished . . . in the woods . . . how, though?"

"We never went," said Bran. "Well, only to the edge, and then doubled back. I sent the wolves on to make a trail, but we hid in Father's tomb."

"The crypts." Luwin chuckled, a froth of blood on his lips. When the maester tried to move, he gave a sharp gasp of pain.

Tears filled Bran's eyes. When a man was hurt you took him to the maester, but what could you do when your maester was hurt?

"We'll need to make a litter to carry him," said Osha.

"No use," said Luwin. "I'm dying, woman."

"You can't," said Rickon angrily. "No you can't." Beside him, Shaggydog bared his teeth and growled.

The maester smiled. "Hush now, child, I'm much older than you. I can . . . die as I please."

Note that unlike in Bran's greenseeing dream where the captive was forcibly sacrificed to the weirwood in a brutal act of murder (white-haired woman on rampage with bronze sickle), here Luwin makes a voluntary blood sacrifice of himself to the tree, for the sake of the boys he loves.  It breaks my heart -- that the final gesture of the skeptical maester would be to dedicate himself to magic (I think of his self-sacrifice to the weirwood -- which is Bran after all -- as the true forging in spirit of his Valyrian steel link!)  Luwin can also be thought of as a grey psychopomp figure, since his sacrifice frees the party up to leave Winterfell without being hampered by having to care for and carry a further injured person; as well as more mysteriously perhaps being the blood currency exacted by the ever-ravenous heart tree of Winterfell, which might otherwise not have forborn to have Bran leave the prison-like fortress in which he had up until that point in time been sequestered.

I believe there is a parallel to be drawn between the Bael story of the singer spiriting away the blue winter rose of Winterfell -- whereby the 'singers' in the cave (Bloodraven plus Children) are luring Bran (via the coma dream sent to Bran and the green dreams sent to Jojen, etc.) away from Winterfell and north of the Wall.  This would perhaps make Bran a top candidate after Jon for the blue flower growing from a crack in the Wall in Dany's dream.  Recently, @GloubieBoulga has made the connection of Jon Snow at the Wall to Snow White sleeping in her glass coffin, so Bran awaking from his coma, having his third-eye rather violently opened, followed by the burning and sacking of Winterfell, concomitant with Bran's emergence from the crypt, which finally brings about his liberation from his confinement at Winterfell, is along the same lines (significantly, the glass gardens are also shattered when Bran is sprung free from Winterfell).

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"Hodor, down," said Bran. Hodor went to his knees beside the maester.

"Listen," Luwin said to Osha, "the princes . . . Robb's heirs. Not . . . not together . . . do you hear?"

The wildling woman leaned on her spear. "Aye. Safer apart. But where to take them? I'd thought, might be these Cerwyns . . . "

Maester Luwin shook his head, though it was plain to see what the effort cost him. "Cerwyn boy's dead. Ser Rodrik, Leobald Tallhart, Lady Hornwood . . . all slain. Deepwood fallen, Moat Cailin, soon Torrhen's Square. Ironmen on the Stony Shore. And east, the Bastard of Bolton."

"Then where?" asked Osha.

 

"White Harbor . . . the Umbers . . . I do not know . . . war everywhere . . . each man against his neighbor, and winter coming . . . such folly, such black mad folly . . . " Maester Luwin reached up and grasped Bran's forearm, his fingers closing with a desperate strength. "You must be strong now. Strong."

Luwin exhorts Bran to be strong -- like a sword -- as he grasps Bran's arm like a man gripping a sword.  Perhaps Luwin plays both the smith Azor Ahai as well as the sacrifice Nissa Nissa here, imbuing Bran with the full force of what remains of his dwindling lifeforce.

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"I will be," Bran said, though it was hard. Ser Rodrik killed and Maester Luwin, everyone, everyone . . .

"Good," the maester said. "A good boy. Your . . . your father's son, Bran. Now go."

Osha gazed up at the weirwood, at the red face carved in the pale trunk. "And leave you for the gods?"

"I beg . . . " The maester swallowed. "A . . . a drink of water, and . . . another boon. If you would . . . "

"Aye." She turned to Meera. "Take the boys."

Jojen and Meera led Rickon out between them. Hodor followed. Low branches whipped at Bran's face as they pushed between the trees, and the leaves brushed away his tears. Osha joined them in the yard a few moments later. She said no word of Maester Luwin. "Hodor must stay with Bran, to be his legs," the wildling woman said briskly. "I will take Rickon with me."

"We'll go with Bran," said Jojen Reed.

"Aye, I thought you might," said Osha. "Believe I'll try the East Gate, and follow the kingsroad a ways."

"We'll take the Hunter's Gate," said Meera.

"Hodor," said Hodor.

They stopped at the kitchens first. Osha found some loaves of burned bread that were still edible, and even a cold roast fowl that she ripped in half. Meera unearthed a crock of honey and a big sack of apples. Outside, they made their farewells. Rickon sobbed and clung to Hodor's leg until Osha gave him a smack with the butt end of her spear. Then he followed her quick enough. Shaggydog stalked after them. The last Bran saw of them was the direwolf's tail as it vanished behind the broken tower.

The iron portcullis that closed the Hunter's Gate had been warped so badly by heat it could not be raised more than a foot. They had to squeeze beneath its spikes, one by one.

"Will we go to your lord father?" Bran asked as they crossed the drawbridge between the walls. "To Greywater Watch?"

Meera looked to her brother for the answer. "Our road is north," Jojen announced.

And then my very favorite passage of all:

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At the edge of the wolfswood, Bran turned in his basket for one last glimpse of the castle that had been his life. Wisps of smoke still rose into the grey sky, but no more than might have risen from Winterfell's chimneys on a cold autumn afternoon. Soot stains marked some of the arrow loops, and here and there a crack or a missing merlon could be seen in the curtain wall, but it seemed little enough from this distance. Beyond, the tops of the keeps and towers still stood as they had for hundreds of years, and it was hard to tell that the castle had been sacked and burned at all. The stone is strong, Bran told himself, the roots of the trees go deep, and under the ground the Kings of Winter sit their thrones. So long as those remained, Winterfell remained. It was not dead, just broken. Like me, he thought. I'm not dead either.

So, basically Winterfell is like a stone egg cracked open, from which Bran the hatchling has emerged (I know most people will associate Bran with a bird, but for me the symbolism -- especially in conjunction with the smoky snake Summer sees -- points to him being a dragon hatchling, however counterintuitive that may be!)

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In particular, killing a king at a wedding to symbolically use his “King’s Blood” to fuel a blood magic ritual is such a good metaphor that GRRM used it twice in such a conspicuous way that literally everyone who reads these books wondered wtf is going on with weddings.  Lightbringer is a combination of Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa in one.  They are interchangeable.  That is why we sometimes see kings playing the Nissa Nissa role and being the sacrifice who dies and goes into Lightbringer. 

There are other important similarities between this scene and dragon hatching.  The fiery dancers are replaced with actual dancers.  There is no sorcerer singing magic spells, but the Greatjon is prominently singing.  It is not a great parallel as it stands, I admit.  There may be another master of ceremonies hiding where I cannot find him, or the Greatjon may better than I realize.  Either way there is enough without him.  There are dead kings at both as well, plus Robb gets a Nissa Nissa death further telling us what kind of scene we are watching.   

I think music, songs, spells, words, even nondescript sounds like 'cracking', 'wailing,' 'rustling', 'howling,' 'ringing,' etc. can have magical consequences; therefore, I hold all these as synonymous (are you familiar with Seams' sword/word and GloubieBoulga's slaughter/laughter puns?).  After all, GRRM has indicated that the 'song of the earth' is a powerful language, regardless of whether we are able to decipher it adequately and translate to the Common Tongue or not.

Anyway, there are certainly ample sound effects at the Red Wedding: e.g. the strains of the Rains of Castamere, with the unyielding 'boom-doom boom-doom boom-doom' of the drums (which I've unpacked on the 'Bran's Growing Powers' re-read thread as the heart beat of the godswood), and the 'ringing ringing ringing' of Patchface's bells, etc. to which we may add Catelyn's mad 'laughing and screaming'.  

Remember Thistle the spearwife also does a similar grotesque song and dance when Varamyr is attempting to forge his second life in her, from which we don't necessarily have to conclude that someone is skinchanging Catelyn per se; however, I certainly agree with you that she's one of the Lightbringer analogs as the resurrected Lady Stoneheart.  

To corroborate this idea, @Seams has pointed out the color change her eyes undergo from blue to red pits of pointed red light...glimmering like red rubies or burning red stars.  Seams:  just as Ilyn Payne's ersatz sword for Ice might represent Ice's ghost as you've posited, so too might one interpret Lady Stoneheart herself as a sword.  In particular, there is a parallel between the grinning deathmask of obsidian containing the winking ruby eyes on the pommel of the sword Ilyn presents to Joffrey, with Lady Stoneheart who has been reduced to a death mask of a skull herself with the ruby eyes set deep in their bottomless sockets and like stars twinkling (which is not so dissimilar to 'winking'); and similar to Ice's progeny Oathkeeper her task is to mete out justice to the oathbreakers.  Alternatively, one might say she's the embodiment of another ancestral Valyrian steel sword, Lady Forlorn with its ruby heart in the pommel -- i.e. bleeding stone heart -- which similarly has an unquenchable thirst for blood and revenge.

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So, what is the parallel to Drogo’s grey horse that he rides to the afterlife into Lightbringer?  I already mentioned it had to do with Grey Wind, but nothing specific.  I have to go on a small tangent.  I love crazy crackpot theories that have one rock solid bit of good evidence. I consider myself a connoisseur of them.  I even have a theory about these theories.  I think some of the good, but kinda tinfoil theories floating around out there are a result of people finding the cleverly hidden and totally legitimate parallels between different character’s arcs and their respective lightbringer forgings (I think if we look hard enough we will find anyone who is anyone gets them), but just not quite connecting them to the big (enormous) picture.  One of my favorites is that Robb skinchanged Catelyn when he died and Lady Stoneheart is him or partly him.  I will summarize the parts of it that made the most sense to me for those of you not familiar with it.  When Varamyr Sixskins dies he tries to claim Thistle’s body.  In reaction to that she scratched her face with her nails.  When Jon Snow is stabbed, his last word is “Ghost”, which a lot of people (me included) think means he went into his direwolf when he died.  Robb’s last words are “Mother” and “Grey Wind”, and Catelyn scratches her face violently right after he dies and may be evidence she was skinchanged. 

In symbolic terms, the scratching of the face which is described as the talons of ten ravens 'raking' and 'tearing' at her face leaving deep 'furrows' mimics the opening of the third eye for Bran and others, in which similarly the action has connotations of sowing, as in planting a seed (hence the word 'rake', 'furrows') and sewing (hence the word 'tearing,' the pun (shedding tears vs. ripping fabric connotations) Seams has identified with important crossings of the fabric of the magical landscape, marking key milestones in the hero's journey, the 'tear' representing the transition between life and death, the world and the magical otherworld -- and Unchained, in your following LmL's 'alchemical wedding' terms, one might think of the tearing of the maidenhead or hymen which takes place on a wedding night, the act of sexual intercourse sealing the marriage pact, out of which might very well be forged a new being.  

So now for my 'radical' conclusion:  Sex is skinchanging!  (Bran is married to the tree...Sleipnir is 'mounted'... and when Varamyr 'takes' the spearwife, he forces himself inside her, basically the trope of rape)

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A Dance with Dragons - Prologue

Thistle had returned to him. She had him by the shoulders and was shaking him, shouting in his face. Varamyr could smell her breath and feel the warmth of it upon cheeks gone numb with cold. Now, he thought, do it now, or die.

He summoned all the strength still in him, leapt out of his own skin, and forced himself inside her.

Thistle arched her back and screamed.

Not only is the arching of the back accompanied by a scream reminiscent of the 'grotesque dance' which marks greenseeing magic, but this is also the way GRRM frequently characterises the female orgasm in some of the saucier sexual encounters he's written.

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A Storm of Swords - Catelyn VII

Robb had broken his word, but Catelyn kept hers. She tugged hard on Aegon's hair and sawed at his neck until the blade grated on bone. Blood ran hot over her fingers. His little bells were ringing, ringing, ringing, and the drum went boom doom boom.

It hurts so much, she thought. Our children, Ned, all our sweet babes. Rickon, Bran, Arya, Sansa, Robb . . . Robb . . . please, Ned, please, make it stop, make it stop hurting . . . The white tears and the red ones ran together until her face was torn and tattered, the face that Ned had loved. Catelyn Stark raised her hands and watched the blood run down her long fingers, over her wrists, beneath the sleeves of her gown. Slow red worms crawled along her arms and under her clothes. It tickles. That made her laugh until she screamed. "Mad," someone said, "she's lost her wits," and someone else said, "Make an end," and a hand grabbed her scalp just as she'd done with Jinglebell, and she thought, No, don't, don't cut my hair, Ned loves my hair. Then the steel was at her throat, and its bite was red and cold.

 

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That is IMO a great reason to be thinking along these lines, even if I disagree with the conclusion.  I think Robb symbolically skinchanges his mother, using Grey Wind as a go between, who later becomes a GREAT Azor Ahai reborn symbol in Lady Stoneheart, the undead person with fiery eyes who lives under a weirwood tree, hangs people from trees, beginning a reign of terror in her domain.  Even though I do not see any reason that Robb’s soul actually went into Lady Stoneheart, we definitely should be looking at Robb symbolically skinchanging Grey Wind and an Azor Ahai Reborn person upon his death.  And who knows, maybe I will be convinced part of him is in there later.  It is a pretty popular idea that Jon is doing something similar to this right now.  If he goes into Ghost after death then brought out later into a reborn form, he will actually be doing what Robb is symbolically doing here.  I think this points to a larger trend and makes me wonder about skinchanging’s role in the creation of Lightbringer.  It also means that the animal mount for the dead’s soul can be white as well as grey which I will need in a moment. 

In terms of the skinchanging theme in Lightbringer's creation, you might say that Lady Catelyn became a direwolf of sorts!  Nymeria, in pulling her from the river, seems to have recognized her scent as one of the pack, as it were; and in rescuing her body from the fluid element facilitated the passage back into the world from the underworld.  The wolves like the greenseers are described as 'ragged' or 'shaggy' beings -- which I consider 'code' inserted by GRRM to make the connection -- and as Lady Stoneheart she has been transformed into just such a ragged, shaggy creature (with her torn face and ragged clothes, and attendant sacrificial symbolism etc.). 

To be exact, she started the transitioning from fish into she-wolf even in life, when she fought with Summer against Bran's would-be assassin, way back in AGOT, when as I've interpreted with @evita mgfs she shared a kind of 'holy communion' moment with Summer in that they both partook of the ragged man's flesh (like 'bread') and blood (like 'wine') in order to save Bran's life.  Thereafter, the previously despondent Catelyn came out of her depressive stupor and 'back to life' with renewed vigor; whereafter Bran's awakening followed.

Notice too that when Lady Catelyn is about to kill Jinglebell, which coincides with her own imminent death, she thinks of that visceral moment in Bran's chamber -- as if she's come full circle in her arc:

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A Storm of Swords - Catelyn VII

Then the tabletop that the Smalljon had flung over Robb shifted, and her son struggled to his knees. He had an arrow in his side, a second in his leg, a third through his chest. Lord Walder raised a hand, and the music stopped, all but one drum. Catelyn heard the crash of distant battle, and closer the wild howling of a wolf. Grey Wind, she remembered too late. "Heh," Lord Walder cackled at Robb, "the King in the North arises. Seems we killed some of your men, Your Grace. Oh, but I'll make you an apology, that will mend them all again, heh."

Catelyn grabbed a handful of Jinglebell Frey's long grey hair and dragged him out of his hiding place. "Lord Walder!" she shouted. "LORD WALDER!" The drum beat slow and sonorous, doom boom doom. "Enough," said Catelyn. "Enough, I say. You have repaid betrayal with betrayal, let it end." When she pressed her dagger to Jinglebell's throat, the memory of Bran's sickroom came back to her, with the feel of steel at her own throat. The drum went boom doom boom doom boom doom. "Please," she said. "He is my son. My first son, and my last. Let him go. Let him go and I swear we will forget this . . . forget all you've done here. I swear it by the old gods and new, we . . . we will take no vengeance . . ."

Lord Walder peered at her in mistrust. "Only a fool would believe such blather. D'you take me for a fool, my lady?"

 

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I want to stop here for a second to point out that kings dying and royal weddings are the things that cause the bells in King’s Landing to ring.  Drogo and Jinglebell both wear bells in their hair and the latter’s bells are ringing at the end of the scene as his throat is cut.  Also, there is this from the false forging scene…

Note that the important 'clanging knell' is often given by GRRM in triplicate -- which I consider to be indicative of a certain 'winding' of the spell (e.g. in Macbeth where everything happens in threes, three witches, dancing in a circle thrice, each uttering a curse, so thrice cursed, etc.).  Patchface's ominous clanging 'oh oh oh' which punctuates all his pronouncements is also given in threes (this inversely reflected is 'ho ho ho' the 'devil's bluster').  Also, there are three blasts on the horn to announce the arrival of the Others; and three cracks of which the last was the loudest to signify the birth of the dragons.  So, when considering the 'singing' element of the 'forging' spell, do watch out for those threes (Mormont's raven with his 'corn corn corn' etc. triplets is another example thereof)!

P.S.  By the way, while we're on the 'bells' symbolism, can you explain the significance to me of Bran perching on the secret bridge/passageway connecting the fourth floor of the belltower to the second floor of the rookery at Winterfell?  Been puzzling on that one for a while (at a stage, I with some help from the folks on Heresy even imagined it might signify a chess move called 'castling' by the rook, in light of GRRM being a chess aficionado).

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So, there are bells in hair and bells in a tower ringing loudly.  This should be the part where I blow everyone away with my amazing analysis of what the bells mean.  Unfortunately, I am not sure if I have a handle on it and to explain the two ideas I have would take this ship way off course into uncharted seas, and there would be a lot of moaning and eye rolling as I poorly explained other people’s ideas and ruined our flow.  I will just point out the pattern and perhaps with the help of people much smarter than I in a month’s time we will crack it in the comments section. 

We look forward to your further exposition on the bells!

I like your reference to seas and moaning -- since as it so happens bells seem to have a lot to do with that green sea/see (and the nennymoans, also sea creatures, naturally)...

Have you considered other possible allusions, such as to the nursery rhyme 'ding dong bell', particularly Shakespeare's reworking thereof in 'The Tempest':

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From wikipedia:

Ding, dong, bell,

Pussy’s in the well.

Who put her in?

Little Johnny Flynn.

Who pulled her out?

Little Tommy Stout.

What a naughty boy was that,

To try to drown poor pussy cat,

Who never did him any harm,

But killed all the mice in the farmer's barn

 

The earliest recorded reference to the rhyme is from John Lant, the organist of Winchester Cathedral in 1580, who recorded the following rhyme:

Jacke boy, ho boy newes,
the cat is in the well,
let us ring now for her Knell,

ding dong ding dong Bell.[1]

It was printed in Thomas Ravenscroft's Pammelia, Musicks Miscellanie in 1609, as a canon for four voices.[2]

The phrase 'Ding, dong, bell' also appears several times in plays by Shakespeare. However, given the original of Shakespeare plays were in Quarto text and the majority were not published until 1623 in the First Folio (seven years after his death), the following phrase could actually be the writer's original instructions for sound effects, although this is not certain. The relevant passages are:

The Tempest, Act I, Scene II:

"Sea nymphs hourly ring his knell:

Hark! Now I hear them - Ding, dong, bell."

The Merchant of Venice, Act III, Scene II:

"Let us all ring fancy's knell;

I'll begin it - Ding, dong, bell."

The full text of Ariel's song:

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Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Ding-dong.
Hark! now I hear them — Ding-dong, bell.

 

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While we are talking about the bells in King’s Landing ringing…

 

The Purple Wedding

Who is Azor Ahai Reborn here is less obvious (spoiler alert: it’s Sansa).  The dancers and dead kings are present here too.  I pulled one quote because not all dancers are the same. 

That is exactly the language used to describe the fiery dancers from the first two chapters.  There are plenty of named singers performing to be our master of ceremonies here.  So, now I will get straight to what interests me the most, the animal representing our Azor Ahai reborn person who is changed, set free and sent on her path.  What animal does Sansa represent most often up until this point in the story?  It’s not a wolf. 

I could fill a page with quotes of The Hound calling Sansa a little bird.  I also found one where she dresses like a dove. 

So, here there are birds that are set free and birds that are cooked.  Those are two of the things that happen to a person going through this ritual. 

I really like that you've combined the two processes -- namely flying and burning; liberating and caging the bird -- instead of opposing them. This is exactly what we've identified in the case of the weirwood dynamic in which the weirwood is at once a bird's nest, a bird- (and rib-) cage, the wings to fly, a vehicle facilitating flight like a space-time-ship (or in Norse mythological terms Yggdrasil-Sleipnir), a funeral bier, a greenseer throne, a gallows horse, a crucifix, a funeral pyre, a crown, a greenseer's antlered headdress, a burning bush, a flaming sword, a bridge between worlds (akin to the Bifrost), and a musical instrument etc. 

Besides, I'd say -- continuing the bird metaphors -- that Sansa's goose is well and truly cooked, the way Littlefinger is 'rescuing her' (allowing the little birdie to flee the Kings Landing coop, only to be caged in the Eyrie), simultaneously framing her for Joffrey's murder and then seizing possession of her for his own purposes  (one might say 'killing two birds with one (Alayne) stone...).  

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They are released, sent on their path of destiny, and transformed by fire.  They even put a dab of lemon cream on one, possibly, to make us think of lemon cake loving Sansa.  Catelyn’s role in the endgame of the story is as Lady Stoneheart.  Sansa’s is as a manipulator like she is learning to be in the Vale.  These events set out heroes on their path. 

The dab of lemon cream signifies the poisonous taint accompanying the transformation -- lemons in this saga usually signify bitter disappointment and frequently presage a death of some sort.  Interestingly, the poison used to kill Joffrey -- namely 'the Strangler' -- which Sansa unknowingly smuggles into the feast on her head is produced from a plant from Asshai of unknown name -- faceless, nameless, methinks, and can be interpreted as an analog for the weirwood's less salutary effects -- and the process predictably involves cooking, as you've noted, which is always the first step of alchemy 'nigredo' (I've said before, to much amusement, that all magic without exception -- even that of so-called 'ice magic' --requires fire), followed by curing the mixture by soaking in a 'lime wash' and later thickening with ashes.  So, I'm wondering if citrus in general -- be it limes, lemons or oranges (such as Doran's blood oranges) always symbolically hints at a taint in the works.  This symbolism I'd wager has seeped into the collective (un)consciousness of the fandom, leading some among them to speculate that the poison may actually have been in the pie (or lemon cream) and not in the wine as is commonly supposed.

An important part of magical transformation is making the leap from fluid mixture to stone; or in sword terms, from molten metal to solid.  Therefore, just as the plant mixture goes from amorphous soup to brilliant purple crystal -- reflecting the beginning and final alchemical stages nigredo (black color of the 'soup') to rubredo (red color of the 'philosopher's stone') respectively -- so too must Sansa leave her wishy-washy self behind and make the transition to the steelier Alayne Stone; likewise her mother initially a dissolution of red and white tears mingling as one and thrown into a river to complete the fluid transformation becomes hardened as Lady Stoneheart -- the fire and stone transformation reflected at once in her glimmering ruby-red eyes of crystal fire.

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Other scenes that should be given more consideration imo are Bran after the Winterfell burning. 

Perfect example!  I like how @Seams has integrated the wedding and sacrificial symbolism attending Bran at the harvest festival.

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Just like the theory that Robb skinchanged his mom, I believe, can be explained by this way of thinking, the ‘dragon under Winterfell’ theories stem from the very real parallels between that scene and the dragon hatching.  Bran is underground in the darkness that I believe symbolizes being trapped in the WWnet.  Then he skinchanges a grey animal outside and sees the dragon comet after a large, important fire. 

 

This is my favorite quote, connecting Bran to dragons (although there are many others):

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A Game of Thrones - Eddard V

Arya bit her lip. "What will Bran do when he's of age?"

Ned knelt beside her. "He has years to find that answer, Arya. For now, it is enough to know that he will live." The night the bird had come from Winterfell, Eddard Stark had taken the girls to the castle godswood, an acre of elm and alder and black cottonwood overlooking the river. The heart tree there was a great oak, its ancient limbs overgrown with smokeberry vines; they knelt before it to offer their thanksgiving, as if it had been a weirwood. Sansa drifted to sleep as the moon rose, Arya several hours later, curling up in the grass under Ned's cloak. All through the dark hours he kept his vigil alone. When dawn broke over the city, the dark red blooms of dragon's breath surrounded the girls where they lay. "I dreamed of Bran," Sansa had whispered to him. "I saw him smiling."

"He was going to be a knight," Arya was saying now. "A knight of the Kingsguard. Can he still be a knight?"

They are there after a night-time vigil (long night symbolism) to give thanks for Bran's awakening from his coma (again dawn following long night symbolism) at the heart tree which is associated with fire -- hence 'the dark red blooms of dragon's breath' which I'll comment on further in a bit, in addition to GRRM's neologism 'smokeberry' which mirrors the bloodstained blazing hands of the weirwood leaves.  When dawn broke (again, symbolism of Bran the Broken breaking with the coming of the dawn) it's accompanied by 'the dark red blooms of dragon's breath surrounding the girls' -- this is Bran enveloping his family, possibly even 'sending' Sansa the weirwood-type dream in which she sees him smiling.  In effect, I read this as Bran's smile being a dark red bloom of dragon's breath in the heavens.  Then when Bran and co leave Winterfell there's that telling image you noted of the roaring river of fire like a smoky snake emanating from Winterfell, which seems to line up with Bran, affiliating him with the comet as well.

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That event sends him headed north to see the three-eyed crow.  Tyrion’s trial by combat in King’s Landing followed by his escape/release that sends him to Mereen may be his version of this.  He kills his Nissa Nissa and usurps/sacrifices his symbolic solar king father in the process.  Also, perhaps the battle at Castle Black that results in the death of Ygritte and Jon becoming Lord Commander.  This is by no means a well-rounded theory tied up with a bow, but more a stream of consciousness, series of observations I wanted to share so others could help get to the bottom of this.

Also both very nice examples.  

The following quote illustrates the (re)birth symbolism of Bran and co emerging from the crypt, which Seams and others have likened to a 'womb-tomb' forge (like Tobho Mott's forge...'hot tomb'...'tomb' being related to 'tummy' and pregnancy via 'tumescence'):

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A Clash of Kings - Bran VII

The door to the crypts was made of ironwood. It was old and heavy, and lay at a slant to the ground. Only one person could approach it at a time. Osha tried once more when she reached it, but Bran could see that it was not budging. "Let Hodor try."

They had to pull Bran from his basket first, so he would not get squished. Meera squatted beside him on the steps, one arm thrown protectively across his shoulders, as Osha and Hodor traded places. "Open the door, Hodor," Bran said.

The huge stableboy put both hands flat on the door, pushed, and grunted. "Hodor?" He slammed a fist against the wood, and it did not so much as jump. "Hodor."

"Use your back," urged Bran. "And your legs."

Turning, Hodor put his back to the wood and shoved. Again. Again. "Hodor!" He put one foot on a higher step so he was bent under the slant of the door and tried to rise. This time the wood groaned and creaked. "Hodor!" The other foot came up a step, and Hodor spread his legs apart, braced, and straightened. His face turned red, and Bran could see cords in his neck bulging as he strained against the weight above him. "Hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor HODOR!" From above came a dull rumble. Then suddenly the door jerked upward and a shaft of daylight fell across Bran's face, blinding him for a moment.

Hodor is almost like a pregnant woman being urged by the midwifery team to 'push' that baby out! (except he's on the inside with the 'baby'!)

Push!  Push!  One more push, almost there...

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Another shove brought the sound of shifting stone, and then the way was open. Osha poked her spear through and slid out after it, and Rickon squirmed through Meera's legs to follow. Hodor shoved the door open all the way and stepped to the surface. The Reeds had to carry Bran up the last few steps.

It's interesting that the first thing through the door is a spear.  On one of the other threads, @hiemal and @Seams identified the gate at the Night Fort as a symbolic 'hymen' which Bran as a baby-penis (depending on your chosen perspective) 'tears' in order to be (re)born; this after Sam's words, particularly the magical incantation 'I am the sword' -- phallic imagery (in @LmL's memorable summation, 'Lightbringers are always a little bit about dicks'...) --unlocked the door.  

Continuing the newborn 'baby' analogy, Rickon 'squirms through Meera's legs,' which is basically how it occurs in a vaginal birth; and then Bran must be carried up the last few steps -- so one might say his was the more difficult 'delivery of the twins' and had to be assisted by mechanical means (e.g. forceps, vacuum pump in modern terms)!

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The sky was a pale grey, and smoke eddied all around them. They stood in the shadow of the First Keep, or what remained of it. One whole side of the building had torn loose and fallen away. Stone and shattered gargoyles lay strewn across the yard. They fell just where I did, Bran thought when he saw them. Some of the gargoyles had broken into so many pieces it made him wonder how he was alive at all. Nearby some crows were pecking at a body crushed beneath the tumbled stone, but he lay facedown and Bran could not say who he was.

The First Keep had not been used for many hundreds of years, but now it was more of a shell than ever.

Like an eggshell!  Significantly, Bran muses on his fall from the tower and how he ought to be dead, since he's emerging from the crypt at the exact spot where he fell, thus reinforcing the (re)birth symbolism.  With the shattered shell-like stone of the First Keep from which he fell surrounding him, he is the unlikely survivor hatching from the egg.

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The floors had burned inside it, and all the beams. Where the wall had fallen away, they could see right into the rooms, even into the privy. Yet behind, the broken tower still stood, no more burned than before. Jojen Reed was coughing from the smoke. "Take me home!" Rickon demanded. "I want to be home!" Hodor stomped in a circle. "Hodor," he whimpered in a small voice. They stood huddled together with ruin and death all around them.

"We made noise enough to wake a dragon," Osha said, "but there's no one come.

That's because -- Bran is the dragon who has been awoken!  (whenever GRRM inserts this line, it usually has some deeper symbolism, e.g. when Jaime and Brienne are wrestling in the mud/river during their 'sexy swordplay' scene!)  The ascent from the crypts up the narrow passageway via the heavy oaken door which offers resistance at first before giving way as the party breaks through, accompanied by the noise to which Osha is referring, is figuratively a birth scene as we've discussed, in which Bran primarily but also his brother Rickon, is being reborn.  Fittingly, they are met by their two psychopomp sidekicks Summer and Shaggy to begin the journey 'North' (i.e. to the underworld in GRRM's concept).

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The castle's dead and burned, just as Bran dreamed, but we had best—" She broke off suddenly at a noise behind them, and whirled with her spear at the ready.

Two lean dark shapes emerged from behind the broken tower, padding slowly through the rubble. Rickon gave a happy shout of "Shaggy!" and the black direwolf came bounding toward him. Summer advanced more slowly, rubbed his head up against Bran's arm, and licked his face.

 

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18 minutes ago, ravenous reader said:

Notice too that when Lady Catelyn is about to kill Jinglebell, which coincides with her own imminent death, she thinks of that visceral moment in Bran's chamber -- as if she's come full circle in her arc:

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A Storm of Swords - Catelyn VII

Then the tabletop that the Smalljon had flung over Robb shifted, and her son struggled to his knees. He had an arrow in his side, a second in his leg, a third through his chest. Lord Walder raised a hand, and the music stopped, all but one drum. Catelyn heard the crash of distant battle, and closer the wild howling of a wolf. Grey Wind, she remembered too late. "Heh," Lord Walder cackled at Robb, "the King in the North arises. Seems we killed some of your men, Your Grace. Oh, but I'll make you an apology, that will mend them all again, heh."

Catelyn grabbed a handful of Jinglebell Frey's long grey hair and dragged him out of his hiding place. "Lord Walder!" she shouted. "LORD WALDER!" The drum beat slow and sonorous, doom boom doom. "Enough," said Catelyn. "Enough, I say. You have repaid betrayal with betrayal, let it end." When she pressed her dagger to Jinglebell's throat, the memory of Bran's sickroom came back to her, with the feel of steel at her own throat. The drum went boom doom boom doom boom doom. "Please," she said. "He is my son. My first son, and my last. Let him go. Let him go and I swear we will forget this . . . forget all you've done here. I swear it by the old gods and new, we . . . we will take no vengeance . . ."

Lord Walder peered at her in mistrust. "Only a fool would believe such blather. D'you take me for a fool, my lady?"

This places jinglebell in the role of Bran, making Bran a sacrificed fool. 

 

21 minutes ago, ravenous reader said:

To corroborate this idea, @Seams has pointed out the color change her eyes undergo from blue to red pits of pointed red light...glimmering like red rubies or burning red stars.  Seams:  just as Ilyn Payne's ersatz sword for Ice might represent Ice's ghost as you've posited, so too might one interpret Lady Stoneheart herself as a sword.  In particular, there is a parallel between the grinning deathmask of obsidian containing the winking ruby eyes on the pommel of the sword Ilyn presents to Joffrey, with Lady Stoneheart who has been reduced to a death mask of a skull herself with the ruby eyes set deep in their bottomless sockets and like stars twinkling (which is not so dissimilar to 'winking'); and similar to Ice's progeny Oathkeeper her task is to mete out justice to the oathbreakers.  Alternatively, one might say she's the embodiment of another ancestral Valyrian steel sword, Lady Forlorn with its ruby heart in the pommel -- i.e. bleeding stone heart -- which similarly has an unquenchable thirst for blood and revenge.

Lady Cat has eyes only for the holt of Oathkeeper when she sees it, and the rubies on it's hilt are then described as two red stars. So that's a direct analogy form Cat's eyes to the red stars eyes of the cat on the sword. Cat is an AA reborn symbol - better termed a NN reborn symbol, actually, as she is really an undead fire moon version of AA reborn - and so is oathkeeper. In particular, I have always said Widow's Wail and Oathkeeper are an analog to the splitting of the comet which I claim took place before one half hit the moon. The two red stars send the same message - two comets. Two bleeding stars. Widow's Wail is analogous to the one which caused / embodied Nissa Niss'a wail of anguish, and Oathkeeper is of course the one which is promised to return when "one day the Other moon will kiss the sun too and the dragons (meteors) will return)." That's why Oathkeeper is carried by an icy moon maiden, Brienne the Blue.  

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45 minutes ago, Unchained said:

Exactly, have you read it yet?  I talk about Drogo's smoky, grey, psychopomp, Sleipnir, Stallion who mounts carrying him to the comet and then find a few more places where the same thing is happening with other animals.  Sometimes they are white rather than grey, which I feel like works because rather than ash trees(grey columns of ash) who are world trees in this universe we have white weirwood trees.  Either color the message is the same.  

Yep, I am on the same page as you here. The column of ash and smoke which rises from the pyre of the moon burning and meteor impacts (both symbolic of creating the burning tree) is analogous to Yggdrasil, the tree of ash. That's why Beric's resurrection was in a grove of ash with fire in his mouth. That column of ash is smoke rising to heaven, which reeks of psychopomp, and of course Yggdrasil is the cosmic astral projection horse which is the stallion who mounts the world.  So Drogo riding the smoky stallion is absolutely equivalent to reborn Azor Ahai accessing the ash tree weirdrasil, yes. We are 100% on the same page here. 

I'm not sure I understand how you link the Others to this though, that's where I am fuzzy.

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3 hours ago, ravenous reader said:

Hi @Unchained -- very nice OP!  :)

So the 'grey horse' is the psychopomp/vehicle like Sleipnir.  In terms of Bran's Lightbringer forging then, perhaps that would be Hodor, who is given ample horse symbolism, and assists him in breaking free from and mobilizing beyond the bounds of Winterfell?  Or perhaps the psychopomp is Maester Luwin, the grey-robed maester or 'grey rat' (although he seems to be rather fulfilling the role of Nissa when he is sacrificed at or to the heart tree, as the price paid for Bran to leave Winterfell; presumably Osha puts a dagger through his heart)?  Or could the psychopomp in question be Summer the smoky silver grey wolf?  The red fiery steed on the other hand might be represented by Bran's Dancer who burnt to death in the barn with the other horses -- so the fiery dancer symbolism enacted.

Indeed, LmL appropriately likens it to alchemy, denoting the scene of Dany's dragon-hatching as the 'alchemical wedding.'

'Melting' like 'smelting' alludes to the 'firing' process by which a sword is first melted down on the path to (re)forging -- as occurred with Ice.  Interestingly, the sword 'progeny' of such a smelting are often twins instead of singletons, as was the case with Ice giving rise to Oathkeeper and Widow's Wail.  Frequently, these 'twins' become separated from one another.

If we are considering Bran's escape from Winterfell in the context of a sword forging, then perhaps we can view Bran and Rickon as the 'twin' swords smuggled out of the forge/crypt of Winterfell.

As he lies dying, Luwin indicates as much to Osha, cautioning her that the precious heirs-- who thanks to Theon's ruse with the 'miller's boys' are in effect the surviving ancestral 'blades' as it were of House Stark -- should be separated, so that if harm should come to one, at least the other will remain to take up the mantle of Lord of Winterfell.  

Note that unlike in Bran's greenseeing dream where the captive was forcibly sacrificed to the weirwood in a brutal act of murder (white-haired woman on rampage with bronze sickle), here Luwin makes a voluntary blood sacrifice of himself to the tree, for the sake of the boys he loves.  It breaks my heart -- that the final gesture of the skeptical maester would be to dedicate himself to magic (I think of his self-sacrifice to the weirwood -- which is Bran after all -- as the true forging in spirit of his Valyrian steel link!)  Luwin can also be thought of as a grey psychopomp figure, since his sacrifice frees the party up to leave Winterfell without being hampered by having to care for and carry a further injured person; as well as more mysteriously perhaps being the blood currency exacted by the ever-ravenous heart tree of Winterfell, which might otherwise not have forborn to have Bran leave the prison-like fortress in which he had up until that point in time been sequestered.

I believe there is a parallel to be drawn between the Bael story of the singer spiriting away the blue winter rose of Winterfell -- whereby the 'singers' in the cave (Bloodraven plus Children) are luring Bran (via the coma dream sent to Bran and the green dreams sent to Jojen, etc.) away from Winterfell and north of the Wall.  This would perhaps make Bran a top candidate after Jon for the blue flower growing from a crack in the Wall in Dany's dream.  Recently, @GloubieBoulga has made the connection of Jon Snow at the Wall to Snow White sleeping in her glass coffin, so Bran awaking from his coma, having his third-eye rather violently opened, followed by the burning and sacking of Winterfell, concomitant with Bran's emergence from the crypt, which finally brings about his liberation from his confinement at Winterfell, is along the same lines (significantly, the glass gardens are also shattered when Bran is sprung free from Winterfell).

Luwin exhorts Bran to be strong -- like a sword -- as he grasps Bran's arm like a man gripping a sword.  Perhaps Luwin plays both the smith Azor Ahai as well as the sacrifice Nissa Nissa here, imbuing Bran with the full force of what remains of his dwindling lifeforce.

And then my very favorite passage of all:

So, basically Winterfell is like a stone egg cracked open, from which Bran the hatchling has emerged (I know most people will associate Bran with a bird, but for me the symbolism -- especially in conjunction with the smoky snake Summer sees -- points to him being a dragon hatchling, however counterintuitive that may be!)

I think music, songs, spells, words, even nondescript sounds like 'cracking', 'wailing,' 'rustling', 'howling,' 'ringing,' etc. can have magical consequences; therefore, I hold all these as synonymous (are you familiar with Seams' sword/word and GloubieBoulga's slaughter/laughter puns?).  After all, GRRM has indicated that the 'song of the earth' is a powerful language, regardless of whether we are able to decipher it adequately and translate to the Common Tongue or not.

Anyway, there are certainly ample sound effects at the Red Wedding: e.g. the strains of the Rains of Castamere, with the unyielding 'boom-doom boom-doom boom-doom' of the drums (which I've unpacked on the 'Bran's Growing Powers' re-read thread as the heart beat of the godswood), and the 'ringing ringing ringing' of Patchface's bells, etc. to which we may add Catelyn's mad 'laughing and screaming'.  

Remember Thistle the spearwife also does a similar grotesque song and dance when Varamyr is attempting to forge his second life in her, from which we don't necessarily have to conclude that someone is skinchanging Catelyn per se; however, I certainly agree with you that she's one of the Lightbringer analogs as the resurrected Lady Stoneheart.  

To corroborate this idea, @Seams has pointed out the color change her eyes undergo from blue to red pits of pointed red light...glimmering like red rubies or burning red stars.  Seams:  just as Ilyn Payne's ersatz sword for Ice might represent Ice's ghost as you've posited, so too might one interpret Lady Stoneheart herself as a sword.  In particular, there is a parallel between the grinning deathmask of obsidian containing the winking ruby eyes on the pommel of the sword Ilyn presents to Joffrey, with Lady Stoneheart who has been reduced to a death mask of a skull herself with the ruby eyes set deep in their bottomless sockets and like stars twinkling (which is not so dissimilar to 'winking'); and similar to Ice's progeny Oathkeeper her task is to mete out justice to the oathbreakers.  Alternatively, one might say she's the embodiment of another ancestral Valyrian steel sword, Lady Forlorn with its ruby heart in the pommel -- i.e. bleeding stone heart -- which similarly has an unquenchable thirst for blood and revenge.

In symbolic terms, the scratching of the face which is described as the talons of ten ravens 'raking' and 'tearing' at her face leaving deep 'furrows' mimics the opening of the third eye for Bran and others, in which similarly the action has connotations of sowing, as in planting a seed (hence the word 'rake', 'furrows') and sewing (hence the word 'tearing,' the pun (shedding tears vs. ripping fabric connotations) Seams has identified with important crossings of the fabric of the magical landscape, marking key milestones in the hero's journey, the 'tear' representing the transition between life and death, the world and the magical otherworld -- and Unchained, in your following LmL's 'alchemical wedding' terms, one might think of the tearing of the maidenhead or hymen which takes place on a wedding night, the act of sexual intercourse sealing the marriage pact, out of which might very well be forged a new being.  

So now for my 'radical' conclusion:  Sex is skinchanging!  (Bran is married to the tree...Sleipnir is 'mounted'... and when Varamyr 'takes' the spearwife, he forces himself inside her, basically the trope of rape)

Not only is the arching of the back accompanied by a scream reminiscent of the 'grotesque dance' which marks greenseeing magic, but this is also the way GRRM frequently characterises the female orgasm in some of the saucier sexual encounters he's written.

 

In terms of the skinchanging theme in Lightbringer's creation, you might say that Lady Catelyn became a direwolf of sorts!  Nymeria, in pulling her from the river, seems to have recognized her scent as one of the pack, as it were; and in rescuing her body from the fluid element facilitated the passage back into the world from the underworld.  The wolves like the greenseers are described as 'ragged' or 'shaggy' beings -- which I consider 'code' inserted by GRRM to make the connection -- and as Lady Stoneheart she has been transformed into just such a ragged, shaggy creature (with her torn face and ragged clothes, and attendant sacrificial symbolism etc.). 

To be exact, she started the transitioning from fish into she-wolf even in life, when she fought with Summer against Bran's would-be assassin, way back in AGOT, when as I've interpreted with @evita mgfs she shared a kind of 'holy communion' moment with Summer in that they both partook of the ragged man's flesh (like 'bread') and blood (like 'wine') in order to save Bran's life.  Thereafter, the previously despondent Catelyn came out of her depressive stupor and 'back to life' with renewed vigor; whereafter Bran's awakening followed.

Notice too that when Lady Catelyn is about to kill Jinglebell, which coincides with her own imminent death, she thinks of that visceral moment in Bran's chamber -- as if she's come full circle in her arc:

 

Note that the important 'clanging knell' is often given by GRRM in triplicate -- which I consider to be indicative of a certain 'winding' of the spell (e.g. in Macbeth where everything happens in threes, three witches, dancing in a circle thrice, each uttering a curse, so thrice cursed, etc.).  Patchface's ominous clanging 'oh oh oh' which punctuates all his pronouncements is also given in threes (this inversely reflected is 'ho ho ho' the 'devil's bluster').  Also, there are three blasts on the horn to announce the arrival of the Others; and three cracks of which the last was the loudest to signify the birth of the dragons.  So, when considering the 'singing' element of the 'forging' spell, do watch out for those threes (Mormont's raven with his 'corn corn corn' etc. triplets is another example thereof)!

P.S.  By the way, while we're on the 'bells' symbolism, can you explain the significance to me of Bran perching on the secret bridge/passageway connecting the fourth floor of the belltower to the second floor of the rookery at Winterfell?  Been puzzling on that one for a while (at a stage, I with some help from the folks on Heresy even imagined it might signify a chess move called 'castling' by the rook, in light of GRRM being a chess aficionado).

We look forward to your further exposition on the bells!

I like your reference to seas and moaning -- since as it so happens bells seem to have a lot to do with that green sea/see (and the nennymoans, also sea creatures, naturally)...

Have you considered other possible allusions, such as to the nursery rhyme 'ding dong bell', particularly Shakespeare's reworking thereof in 'The Tempest':

The full text of Ariel's song:

 

I really like that you've combined the two processes -- namely flying and burning; liberating and caging the bird -- instead of opposing them. This is exactly what we've identified in the case of the weirwood dynamic in which the weirwood is at once a bird's nest, a bird- (and rib-) cage, the wings to fly, a vehicle facilitating flight like a space-time-ship (or in Norse mythological terms Yggdrasil-Sleipnir), a funeral bier, a greenseer throne, a gallows horse, a crucifix, a funeral pyre, a crown, a greenseer's antlered headdress, a burning bush, a flaming sword, a bridge between worlds (akin to the Bifrost), and a musical instrument etc. 

Besides, I'd say -- continuing the bird metaphors -- that Sansa's goose is well and truly cooked, the way Littlefinger is 'rescuing her' (allowing the little birdie to flee the Kings Landing coop, only to be caged in the Eyrie), simultaneously framing her for Joffrey's murder and then seizing possession of her for his own purposes  (one might say 'killing two birds with one (Alayne) stone...).  

The dab of lemon cream signifies the poisonous taint accompanying the transformation -- lemons in this saga usually signify bitter disappointment and frequently presage a death of some sort.  Interestingly, the poison used to kill Joffrey -- namely 'the Strangler' -- which Sansa unknowingly smuggles into the feast on her head is produced from a plant from Asshai of unknown name -- faceless, nameless, methinks, and can be interpreted as an analog for the weirwood's less salutary effects -- and the process predictably involves cooking, as you've noted, which is always the first step of alchemy 'nigredo' (I've said before, to much amusement, that all magic without exception -- even that of so-called 'ice magic' --requires fire), followed by curing the mixture by soaking in a 'lime wash' and later thickening with ashes.  So, I'm wondering if citrus in general -- be it limes, lemons or oranges (such as Doran's blood oranges) always symbolically hints at a taint in the works.  This symbolism I'd wager has seeped into the collective (un)consciousness of the fandom, leading some among them to speculate that the poison may actually have been in the pie (or lemon cream) and not in the wine as is commonly supposed.

An important part of magical transformation is making the leap from fluid mixture to stone; or in sword terms, from molten metal to solid.  Therefore, just as the plant mixture goes from amorphous soup to brilliant purple crystal -- reflecting the beginning and final alchemical stages nigredo (black color of the 'soup') to rubredo (red color of the 'philosopher's stone') respectively -- so too must Sansa leave her wishy-washy self behind and make the transition to the steelier Alayne Stone; likewise her mother initially a dissolution of red and white tears mingling as one and thrown into a river to complete the fluid transformation becomes hardened as Lady Stoneheart -- the fire and stone transformation reflected at once in her glimmering ruby-red eyes of crystal fire.

Perfect example!  I like how @Seams has integrated the wedding and sacrificial symbolism attending Bran at the harvest festival.

This is my favorite quote, connecting Bran to dragons (although there are many others):

They are there after a night-time vigil (long night symbolism) to give thanks for Bran's awakening from his coma (again dawn following long night symbolism) at the heart tree which is associated with fire -- hence 'the dark red blooms of dragon's breath' which I'll comment on further in a bit, in addition to GRRM's neologism 'smokeberry' which mirrors the bloodstained blazing hands of the weirwood leaves.  When dawn broke (again, symbolism of Bran the Broken breaking with the coming of the dawn) it's accompanied by 'the dark red blooms of dragon's breath surrounding the girls' -- this is Bran enveloping his family, possibly even 'sending' Sansa the weirwood-type dream in which she sees him smiling.  In effect, I read this as Bran's smile being a dark red bloom of dragon's breath in the heavens.  Then when Bran and co leave Winterfell there's that telling image you noted of the roaring river of fire like a smoky snake emanating from Winterfell, which seems to line up with Bran, affiliating him with the comet as well.

Also both very nice examples.  

The following quote illustrates the (re)birth symbolism of Bran and co emerging from the crypt, which Seams and others have likened to a 'womb-tomb' forge (like Tobho Mott's forge...'hot tomb'...'tomb' being related to 'tummy' and pregnancy via 'tumescence'):

Hodor is almost like a pregnant woman being urged by the midwifery team to 'push' that baby out! (except he's on the inside with the 'baby'!)

Push!  Push!  One more push, almost there...

It's interesting that the first thing through the door is a spear.  On one of the other threads, @hiemal and @Seams identified the gate at the Night Fort as a symbolic 'hymen' which Bran as a baby-penis (depending on your chosen perspective) 'tears' in order to be (re)born; this after Sam's words, particularly the magical incantation 'I am the sword' -- phallic imagery (in @LmL's memorable summation, 'Lightbringers are always a little bit about dicks'...) --unlocked the door.  

Continuing the newborn 'baby' analogy, Rickon 'squirms through Meera's legs,' which is basically how it occurs in a vaginal birth; and then Bran must be carried up the last few steps -- so one might say his was the more difficult 'delivery of the twins' and had to be assisted by mechanical means (e.g. forceps, vacuum pump in modern terms)!

Like an eggshell!  Significantly, Bran muses on his fall from the tower and how he ought to be dead, since he's emerging from the crypt at the exact spot where he fell, thus reinforcing the (re)birth symbolism.  With the shattered shell-like stone of the First Keep from which he fell surrounding him, he is the unlikely survivor hatching from the egg.

That's because -- Bran is the dragon who has been awoken!  (whenever GRRM inserts this line, it usually has some deeper symbolism, e.g. when Jaime and Brienne are wrestling in the mud/river during their 'sexy swordplay' scene!)  The ascent from the crypts up the narrow passageway via the heavy oaken door which offers resistance at first before giving way as the party breaks through, accompanied by the noise to which Osha is referring, is figuratively a birth scene as we've discussed, in which Bran primarily but also his brother Rickon, is being reborn.  Fittingly, they are met by their two psychopomp sidekicks Summer and Shaggy to begin the journey 'North' (i.e. to the underworld in GRRM's concept).

 

Thanks for the great response.  I always love coming across one of your detailed replies where you go all over the map with your thoughts about an idea without coming across as scattered whatsoever.  Getting one of those for something I wrote is like a rite of passage.  Also, indeed everything seems to come in threes, including these psychpomps, I will get into that attempting to answer LmL's question.  

3 hours ago, LmL said:

Yep, I am on the same page as you here. The column of ash and smoke which rises from the pyre of the moon burning and meteor impacts (both symbolic of creating the burning tree) is analogous to Yggdrasil, the tree of ash. That's why Beric's resurrection was in a grove of ash with fire in his mouth. That column of ash is smoke rising to heaven, which reeks of psychopomp, and of course Yggdrasil is the cosmic astral projection horse which is the stallion who mounts the world.  So Drogo riding the smoky stallion is absolutely equivalent to reborn Azor Ahai accessing the ash tree weirdrasil, yes. We are 100% on the same page here. 

I'm not sure I understand how you link the Others to this though, that's where I am fuzzy.

If you are referring to what I said on your Grey King thread about the Others, I have abandoned that line of thinking.  Now I do have something else I am pondering about them already (Let that me a tell about how seriously to take it).  I was planning on saving this until I had developed it a little more, but I want to talk about it and if there is any truth to it I will need help developing the idea.  I only have a few characteristics of these pychopomps listed so far.  They are grey or white and emerge from burning weirwood trees (or something that symbolizes that) to travel to a Lightbringer.  Another one I think I see is that they are associated with wind which makes sense as they are flying through the air.  One of the most important examples is named Grey Wind.  Grey ones are the King of Winter version, think the grey wolf on the Stark sigil.  There may be a black version.  There is a direwolf that is black in addition to the white and grey variety.  Also there are quotes like this.

 

Quote

Theon did not need to be told that Black Wind was Asha's longship. He had not seen his sister in ten years, but that much he knew of her. Odd that she would call it that, when Robb Stark had a wolf named Grey Wind. "Stark is grey and Greyjoy's black," he murmured, smiling, "but it seems we're both windy." -- aCoK, Theon 1  

      

Not sure what black ones are, but they seem to exist.  It is possible they are a subgroup of the grey ones at this stage (have you ever had a reason to wonder if there is a level of separation between grey and black swords?), but the important thing for the moment is more evidence of windiness with the mention of Grey Wind and all present parties being windy.  This is also a great example of direwolves as a symbolic mode of transportation by comparing them to ships.  The white version is icy.  The Others always appear with wind and there is a north wind blowing in the aGoT prologue.   

 

Anyway, my idea in its infancy (puts on tinfoil hat and sign around neck with 'The end is nigh' written on it).  The Others check all three boxes.  They emerge from wood, are white and icy as well as strongly associated with wind.  I think the Others are white psychopomps of this type, and they are the Winds of Winter.  Their mission is to reach some currently dormant Lightbringer south of the wall so whatever is in the trees can be reborn.    

 

From a narrative standpoint, if the wall falls, it does make sense to force some sort of 'we have to hold them here' situation.  Our heroes cannot have the luxury of retreating all the way to Dorne if need be, even though the Others may reach it anyway making the situation as dire as possible (grabs bug-out bag and runs into woods to avoid the coming onslaught).               

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