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The Weirwoods Eyes

WoodsWitches; A comprahensive study of their roles past, future, & present.

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My apologies for the formatting I have no idea what went on there! I'll try again. 

This thread has been born out of a conversation I had with @Jon's Queen Consort a while back. Where we were discussing Val. And it comes in large part as a result of @bemused's thread In which she proposes that Val may hold a Volva/Vala role in Wildling culture. 

I have taken that idea a step further, and propose that this Volva/Vala role is already out in the open in the books. Vala were basically witches & there is a real world parallel to witches being made in these books, Woods Witches, the use of the word witch for a start; and the role described is the same basically as in our own history ie: A woman who provides basic medical care via herblore, whom you might go to for an abortion, or for help during a birth. Who might make you a love spell or an ill-wish? Who might claim to have the ability to scry, or see? etc. this is basicaly who & what the Vala/Volva were too. In fact, you even find the Vala being refered to as witches, when you read accounts in different languages. And when you look at the role of Volva/Vala in Norse culture & that of the Witch in the rest of pagan European culture and what became of it post Christianisation it is basically the same thing. they even carried wands!

 

Bemused proposes in her own thread that Val is a Vala figure and that her role may be to play the Vala to Jon's Odin/war chief. In the real world the Vala were nomadic to an extent, travelled independently, and were welcomed and honoured when they visited a community. But also would team up with a war chieftain and they would form a kind of power couple.  Their role echoed Odin & Frigg/freya relationship in the community. Some accounts say that Frigg/Freya taught the Aesir the power of Seidhr. (Seeing) So I am inclined to think there is some likelihood in this notion that Val will be important to Jon. 

In TRP we meet Alys Rivers; whom I'll admit I'm more than a little obsessed with. She has the ability to see, she sees much and more in camp fires, stormclouds & puddles. And she teams up with a war chieftain, Aemond. Who has one eye.. See where I'm going with this? Alys is clearly a magic user, and she is depicted as flying through the sky with her long, flowing Black hair streaming behind her. Now she is flying on the back of a Dragon, but just take a minute to think about what that imagery evokes?  Are you picturing a witch? 

Alys was a beauty, young, and undoubtedly powerful. Whereas to my knowledge the other witch characters we have met so far have all been old. Which of course fits another trope of witchery. The Ghost of High Heart is ancient, decrepit, and no one would view her as a potential lover. Likewise, mother mole is inferred as being an old woman. Maggy the Frogg is referred to also as a woodswitch sometimes, though we know she is not of the Old Gods, she seems to fill the same role within Lannisport and the surrounding region as the traditional Westerosi WoodsWitches, therefore; much as how Mellisandre becomes the Red Witch. Despite being a Priestess, not a witch. It seems Smallfolk in particular, but highborn also will tend to name any female magic users as witches. And that anyone who fills the role percieved as Woodswitch will be named as one. Morna is our Wildling Woods witch, whom we have met, unlike MM. What arewe told of her? She is neither old nor young. So I'd guess she is about my own age, mid to late 30's or early to mid 40's.  

The idea that Dalla was a WW too is a good one, as we know she is described by Mel as a Wise Woman. And well, a Witch too is a wise woman, another name for Vala is fjǫlkunnig, which means Plenty of Knowing. 

The major impression we get in the books about WoodsWitches comes from Southron Knights, and we're left with the impression of harmless old women, living hermetic lifestyles in the woods concocting moontea and selling their skills to young maids in trouble. But what if these ladies are just the remnants of a First Men institution which once held was more clout, I mean what happened to real world witches once Christianity came in? they lost their social standing and went into hiding mostly, It got to the point of mass persecution & eventually hysteria! What about in a world where Paganism and Christianity had ended up co-existing though? would they have ended up as a few lonely women living on the fringes of society doling out herbs and what not to the desperate villagers? 

When we take a look beyond the wall at Morna & Mother Mole it certainly seems they garner a lot more respect than the few modern Westerosi Witches do, Mother Mole is so revered that thousands of wildlings follow her after she has a vision.  And Morna is not only a witch but also a warrior, and she wears a Weirwood mask. She seems to be a leader too, Jon puts her in charge of Queensgate. She has a title Morna Whitemask. And she feels to be respected amongst her people.  So within the stronger Firstmen culture of the Wildlings WoodsWitches are much more important than in the southron Seven worshipping regions.

Let's look at historical WoodsWitches now.  Nimble Dick tells Brienne of Ser Clarence, their local folk hero. This is what he says of Ser Clarence's wife:- note this is another Warrior with a witch as a wife/partner. 

"His wife was a woods witch. Whenever Ser Clarence killed a man, he'd fetch his head back home and his wife would kiss it on the lips and bring it back t' life.  "

So this Woodswitch had the power to reanimate the dead, even once the head was removed? Now I actually think this power is the fire kiss, but that's another topic. But it is a woodswitch doing way more than performing abortions or making love potion for giddy maids. 

In the world book we hear of several firstly I'll mention a Dothraki war lord who consulted with his mother who was a Witch Queen, in the histories of the Grasslands, interestingly one of the Norse poetic edda's refers to a Vala called Gudrun who married Atilla the Hun, and that she served him their sons hearts in honey, after he killed her brothers and then killed him too. By setting fire to his hall with him inside. Sounds interesting given the Dothraki simmilarities to the Hunnish. but again it's a war lord with a witch wife/mother.

Varymyr Six Skins gives us an account of his brothers death. he says that a WoodsWitch came to his mother an dtold her her son was with the gods now. In the Tree's and all around them. this terrified Varymyr as it made him think his brother could see him. But my interest lies in the fact that here we see a WoodsWitch performing the role of a priest. Priests visit the bereaved and council them that their loved ones are in the arms of the lord now. So here we have a WoodsWitch taking on that role showing once again that past the wall at least WoodsWitches are more than we've been led to believe. 

In Storm we briefly meet a man named lenn, whose feelings regarded the weather are taken as gospel, because his mother was a WoodsWitch, again showing that the seer ability of WW's within the more traditionally Old Gods culture is taken seriously. We have a Wildling with Mance called Willow-Witch eye, who has a long Black Braid. But nothing else on her. And in the world book we learn of several historical Woods Witches who were Queens. one in the Riverlands. Called Sharra-the Witch Queen. Again is she a Queen because she is a witch whose teamed up with a warrior chief? or is she more like Morna and leads on her own? 

We hear of the fire-Witch in the mountains of the moon, with her burned men and her dragon - could be Nettles? 

There is a place called the Witch isle which has a sinister reputation? 

in the reach:  Harlon the Hunter and Herndon of the Horn, twin brothers who built their castle atop Horn Hill and took to wife the beautiful woods witch who dwelled there, sharing her favors for a hundred years (for the brothers did not age so long as they embraced her whenever the moon was full).  

Another woods witch taking warrior husbands, two in this case. 

and at Highgarden.  Mern III (the Madling) showered gold and honours on a woods witch who claimed that she could raise armies of the dead to throw the Andals back. 

And in the Stormlands the WoodsWitch known as the Green Queen held the rainwood for a generation. 

And Nymeria was known as a Water Witch, and a witch-queen. so again showing that when women turned up in Westeros with magical powers they get adopted into the category of witch. All of which adds weight to the idea that WoodsWitches are or have been in the past people who wielded real magical ability, of various skills. And that their place in this world could indeed be far more than what we are initially led to believe.  

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Yes!!!! This is a topic that moonsings to my icy heart. 

Bookmarking now to add and contribute when I am back at my computer. 

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Your thread makes me think to this : 

Quote

The crow opened its beak and cawed at him, a shrill scream of fear, and the grey mists shuddered and swirled around him and ripped away like a veil, and he saw that the crow was really a woman, a serving woman with long black hair, and he knew her from somewhere, from Winterfell, yes, that was it, he remembered her now, and then he realized that he was in Winterfell, in a bed high in some chilly tower room, and the black-haired woman dropped a basin of water to shatter on the floor and ran down the steps, shouting, "He's awake, he's awake, he's awake."(Bran III, AGOT)

Was the mother of "Brandon Stark" a queen and a woodwitch ? Was she a Blackwood ? Was she the woman who killed the prisonner in front of the weirwood of Winterfell in Bran's vision, when he is in the greenseer's cave ? 

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Interesting stuff. Certainly there is more in Val (and Dalla) than explicitly stated.

However...

47 minutes ago, The Weirwoods Eyes said:

I have taken that idea a step further, and propose that this Volva/Vala role is already out in the open in the books. Vala were basically witches & there is a real world parallel to witches being made in these books, Woods Witches, the use of the word witch for a start; and the role described is the same basically as in our own history ie: A woman who provides basic medical care via herblore, whom you might go to for an abortion, or for help during a birth. Who might make you a love spell or an ill-wish? Who might claim to have the ability to scry, or see? etc. this is basicaly who & what the Vala/Volva were too. In fact, you even find the Vala being refered to as witches, when you read accounts in different languages. And when you look at the role of Volva/Vala in Norse culture & that of the Witch in the rest of pagan European culture and what became of it post Christianisation it is basically the same thing. they even carried wands!

...there is a problem here. If Val has a religious/magic role among the wildings, she should know basic medical care. In particular midwifery, which is why women took a prominent spiritual role in more "primitive" cultures. Bringing life and helping to it, has been always very important.

But during the battle, when Dalla is starting to labor, Val gets quite afraid and wants to call out for the midwifes, which is impossible in the middle of the battle and she needs to assist her sister (who also died).

So, unless GRRM slipped here, this passage would go against of what we know about spiritual leaders in these cultures.

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3 minutes ago, rotting sea cow said:

Interesting stuff. Certainly there is more in Val (and Dalla) than explicitly stated.

However...

...there is a problem here. If Val has a religious/magic role among the wildings, she should know basic medical care. In particular midwifery, which is why women took a prominent spiritual role in more "primitive" cultures. Bringing life and helping to it, has been always very important.

But during the battle, when Dalla is starting to labor, Val gets quite afraid and wants to call out for the midwifes, which is impossible in the middle of the battle and she needs to assist her sister (who also died).

So, unless GRRM slipped here, this passage would go against of what we know about spiritual leaders in these cultures.

Part of that labor scene was the symbolic nature behind it. Val does become the midwife because Jon says she is. Jon makes it so and Val delivers ;)

Also, we later learn in a Sam chapter that maester Aemon calls on Val a few times to help see that the two babies are healthy. 

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1 hour ago, GloubieBoulga said:

Your thread makes me think to this : 

Was the mother of "Brandon Stark" a queen and a woodwitch ? Was she a Blackwood ? Was she the woman who killed the prisonner in front of the weirwood of Winterfell in Bran's vision, when he is in the greenseer's cave ? 

 
 

The mother of the Brandon Stark who died was Lyanne Glover, she died in childbed and Willam Stark then re-married Melantha Blackwood. Who had Edwyle & Jocelyn Stark. Jocelyn is listed as the younger, in the world book apparently. But I long held the theory that Melantha is the pregnant woman in the weirwood pool asking for a son, and that we will meet her as Willam's pregnant widow praying for a son as her position and her children's inheritance is in danger if she births another daughter. But alas the age order screws that one up.  I'm still half living in the hope the birth order was a mistake in the world book. But :dunno:

But I do think Blackwood women are often "woodswitches" just ones who tend to live in a nice castle and keep their special skills to themselves. I honestly do think Alys Rivers will turn out to be a bastard daughter of a Blackwood.  And that Bloodraven got his skills from his mother. 

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Another thing with the woods witches is that they seem to be the ones with the actual experience to certain ailments... such as greyscale.

Val warns Jon about Shireen because she, being a very possible woods witch or woods trainee, has more experience with greyscale than Jon... who has zero experience. Now, this is NOT a negative dig at Jon, but more a clear example at how what is taught at the Citedel is not always the truth or best method, and those sometimes inferior methods are passed as "truth" which can cause a huge epidemic. At this point Jon still knows nothing, but he is learning and this was Val giving him lesson #1 on such a topic.

And this is not to be confused with Val being a nasty bi-otch, or the sort. Quite the opposite because when Val meets Shireen, the two have a heartfelt conversation about both being "princesses", and how Shireen never had a sister, just a cousin she liked (Edric), but he sailed away.

There is a chance that greyscale, or the deadlier grey plague, will come in to play at the wall or up north in the next books. The diseases thrive in cold, damp locations and we already see in Jon's ADWD chapters how cramped and confined everyone is. People with the experience of Val are going to be invaluable.

Here we have Val showing some knowledge of medicinal herbs:

A Dance with Dragons - Jon XI

"Greyscale."
"The grey death is what we call it."
"It is not always mortal in children."
"North of the Wall it is. Hemlock is a sure cure, but a pillow or a blade will work as well. If I had given birth to that poor child, I would have given her the gift of mercy long ago."
This was a Val that Jon had never seen before. "Princess Shireen is the queen's only child."
"I pity both of them. The child is not clean."
"If Stannis wins his war, Shireen will stand as heir to the Iron Throne."
"Then I pity your Seven Kingdoms."
"The maesters say greyscale is not—"
"The maesters may believe what they wish. Ask a woods witch if you would know the truth. The grey death sleeps, only to wake again. The child is not clean!"
"She seems a sweet girl. You cannot know—"
"I can. You know nothing, Jon Snow." Val seized his arm. "I want the monster out of there. Him and his wet nurses. You cannot leave them in that same tower as the dead girl."
 

A Dance with Dragons - Tyrion V

"We'd do well not to breathe the fog either," said Haldon. "Garin's Curse is all about us."
The only way not to breathe the fog is not to breathe. "Garin's Curse is only greyscale," said Tyrion. The curse was oft seen in children, especially in damp, cold climes. The afflicted flesh stiffened, calcified, and cracked, though the dwarf had read that greyscale's progress could be stayed by limes, mustard poultices, and scalding-hot baths (the maesters said) or by prayer, sacrifice, and fasting (the septons insisted). Then the disease passed, leaving its young victims disfigured but alive. Maesters and septons alike agreed that children marked by greyscale could never be touched by the rarer mortal form of the affliction, nor by its terrible swift cousin, the grey plague. "Damp is said to be the culprit," he said. "Foul humors in the air. Not curses."
 
And apparently Selyse the Compassionate still has reservations about the "cured" greyscale in little Shireen:

A Dance with Dragons - Jon XIII

It was the answer that Jon Snow had expected. This queen never fails to disappoint. Somehow that did not soften the blow. "Your Grace," he persisted stubbornly, "they are starving at Hardhome by the thousands. Many are women—"
"—and children, yes. Very sad." The queen pulled her daughter closer to her and kissed her cheek. The cheek unmarred by greyscale, Jon did not fail to note. "We are sorry for the little ones, of course, but we must be sensible. We have no food for them, and they are too young to help the king my husband in his wars. Better that they be reborn into the light."
That was just a softer way of saying let them die.

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1 minute ago, The Weirwoods Eyes said:

The mother of the Brandon Stark who died was Lyanne Glover, she died in childbed and Willam Stark then re-married Melantha Blackwood. Who had Edwyle & Jocelyn Stark. Jocelyn is listed as the younger, in the world book apparently. But I long held the theory that Melantha is the pregnant woman in the weirwood pool asking for a son, and that we will meet her as Willam's pregnant widow praying for a son as her position and her children's inheritance is in danger if she births another daughter. But alas the age order screws that one up.  I'm still half living in the hope the birth order was a mistake in the world book. But :dunno:

But I do think Blackwood women are often "woodswitches" just ones who tend to live in a nice castle and keep their special skills to themselves. I honestly do think Alys Rivers will turn out to be a bastard daughter of a Blackwood.  And that Bloodraven got his skills from his mother. 

:D Sorry, I see that I wasn't precise ! I used "Brandon Stark" in the same way than Coldhands when he calls Bran "Brandon Stark" (Bran I ADWD), or when Bran is called "Brandon Stark" at the end of his 3rd chapter in ADWD. For commodity we could call him "Brandon the Builder" = I was thinking to the "builder" of the Wall and founder of Winterfell, so very far in the past ^^

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1 hour ago, GloubieBoulga said:

Your thread makes me think to this : 

Was the mother of "Brandon Stark" a queen and a woodwitch ? Was she a Blackwood ? Was she the woman who killed the prisonner in front of the weirwood of Winterfell in Bran's vision, when he is in the greenseer's cave ? 

I have always wondered about that little line you pointed out. Jon has a similar experience when he is dreaming and finds that as he awakens, his raven is pecking at his head. Both scenes could be read one way or the other, but in the end I would not be surprised at all if it comes down to a lot more skill/magic in the women.

(OT: this also sorta parallels the theory some posters have that the Valyrian dragon hatchers were all women and that is why the Targs and other noble families practiced incest. It was to "keep the bloodlines pure" by hoarding all the power for the nobles.)

1 hour ago, GloubieBoulga said:

The crow opened its beak and cawed at him, a shrill scream of fear, and the grey mists shuddered and swirled around him and ripped away like a veil, and he saw that the crow was really a woman, a serving woman with long black hair, and he knew her from somewhere, from Winterfell, yes, that was it, he remembered her now, and then he realized that he was in Winterfell, in a bed high in some chilly tower room, and the black-haired woman dropped a basin of water to shatter on the floor and ran down the steps, shouting, "He's awake, he's awake, he's awake."(Bran III, AGOT)

I think I agree with @The Weirwoods Eyes that the lady in the pool at Winterfell is a blackhaired Melantha Blackwood. And I agree that this is where Bloodraven most likely got his certain skills.

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:bowdown: Greatest thread I have seen in 2017 so far! 

I am not good enough to contribute something important to the thread. So for now all I can do is bookmarking and following.

 

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@rotting sea cow I get the impression that Val is in training. She is quite young, an adult woman yes. but not much older than her mid-twenties at the upper limit to what can be feasibly imagined. I doubt she has all the skills down pat yet. And in regards to Midwifery as a skill. there is a reason that one, in particular, is highly associated with older women. Because it takes a lifetime to become really skilled. I imagine a younger woodswitch would learn alongside an older one. Going along to assist and observe and learn the craft over time.  Dalla dying in childbirth is, of course something we can associate with Val not having great midwifery skills. But it is also something which the plot requires because Gilly's role as the babies wet nurse is important for her & sam's story.  Anyone could lose a woman in labour if say the baby is badly positioned. you never know Dalla may even have said save the babe, maybe she knew Aemon Steelsong had a role to play in life? Something she was willing to die for? or maybe just like a lot of mothers she was willing to put her own life second to that of her child? 

 

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Awesome thread!  I'm following.  Just wanted to add another witch to your list to see if it helps with anything, because it also has hammer of the waters imagery (broken arm/neck) attached to it.  

Ursula Upcliffe, reputed sorceress/witch, of First Men origins in the Vale, self-proclaimed bride of the Merling King.  Keeping it mind it's from the world book and told from a pro-Andal perspective, "witch" might be used as a slur for an uppity woman; however, it is possible she was a witch queen figure of her people.  They were all "petty kings" before bending the knee to Robar Royce II, proclaimed High King of the Vale.  The name Ursula might be a wink to the sea-witch Ursula from Disney's the Little Mermaid.  She was killed by the giant Torgold Tollett at the Battle of Seven Stars.

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The last of the Bronze Kings was Yorwyck's grandson, Robar II, who inherited Runestone from his sire less than a fortnight before his sixteenth nameday yet proved to be a warrior of such ferocity and cunning and charm that he almost succeeded in stemming the Andal tide.
By that time the Andals controlled threequarters of the Vale and had begun to fight amongst themselves, as had the First Men before them. Robar Royce saw opportunity in their disunity. Across the Vale, a handful of First Men still held out against the Andals; the Redforts of Redfort, the Hunters of Longbow Hall, the Belmores of Strongsong, and the Coldwaters of Coldwater Burn chief amongst them. One by one, Robar made alliance with each of them, and many smaller clans and houses besides, bringing them to his cause with marriages, grants of land, gold, and (in one celebrated case) by outshooting the Lord Hunter in an archery contest (legend claims that King Robar cheated). So honeyed was his tongue that he even won the allegiance of Ursula Upcliff, a reputed sorceress who called herself bride of the Merling King.
Many of the lords who gathered beneath his banners had been petty kings, but now they set aside their crowns, bending the knee before Robar Royce and proclaiming him High King of the Vale, the Fingers, and the Mountains of the Moon.

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Seven times the Andals charged, the singers say; six times the First Men threw them back. But the seventh attack, led by a fearsome giant of a man named Torgold Tollett, broke through. Torgold the Grim, this man was called, but even his name was a jape, for it is written that he went into battle laughing, naked above the waist, with a bloody seven-pointed star carved across his chest and an axe in each hand.
The songs say that Torgold knew no fear and felt no pain. Though bleeding from a score of wounds, he cut a red swathe through Lord Redfort's staunchest warriors, then took his lordship's arm off at the shoulder with a single cut. Nor was he dismayed when the sorceress Ursula Upcliff appeared upon a bloodred horse to curse him. By then he was bare-handed, having left both of his axes buried in a foe's chest, but the singers say he leapt upon the witch's horse, grasped her face between two bloody hands, and tore her head from her shoulders as she screamed for succor.
Then chaos ensued, as the Andals came pouring through the gap in the ranks of the First Men. Victory seemed within their grasp, but Robar Royce was not so easily defeated. Where another man might have fallen back to regroup, or fled the field, the High King commanded a counterattack. He led the charge himself, smashing through the confusion with his champions by his side. In his hand was Lady Forlorn, that dread blade he had plucked from the dead hands of the King of the Fingers. Slaying men right and left, the king fought his way to Torgold the Grim. As Robar slashed at his head, Tollett grabbed for his blade, still laughing...but Lady Forlorn sliced through his hands and buried herself in Torgold's skull.

Also

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The Witch Isle, seat of House Upcliff with its sinister reputation, was brought into the realm by marriage, when King Alester Arryn, the Second of His Name, took Arwen Upcliff for his bride.

 

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As far as Val as a völva, I completely agree, and I think Val could represent Hyndla in particular.

Hyndluljóð or Lay of Hyndla is an Old Norse poem often considered a part of the Poetic Edda. It is preserved in its entirety only in Flateyjarbók but some stanzas are also quoted in the Prose Edda where they are said to come from Völuspá hin skamma.

In the poem, the goddess Freyja meets the völva Hyndla and they ride together towards Valhalla. Freyja rides on her boar Hildisvíni and Hyndla on a wolf. Their mission is to find out the pedigree of Óttarr [*Odin] so that he can touch his inheritance, and the lay consists mostly of Hyndla reciting a number of names from Óttarr's ancestry. The poem may be a twelfth-century work, through Bellows believed the material of which the poem was compounded must have been older.

  • Ottarr is thought to be another aspect of Odin, and also sometimes spelled Odr, which means song and poetry ;)
  • the reciting names could be Val, or a combo of Val and Bran and Morna, etc, all coming to the realization that Jon could be the Last Hero (or whoever), even if they do not list all the names out loud.

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@The Fattest Leech 

yes, the segments where they discuss GreyScale scream out that she knows what she is on about here, and she tells Jon to ask a Woodswitch, cluing us in that this is who would have the knowledge she then goes on to tell him. I do think that it is likely she is a trainee and doesn't yet give herself the full title. Though when she wears those white clothes and her Weirwood brooch it does feel as though she has donned significant garb in order to make this perilous journey.  And I think it is the brooch which is really significant, Morna has that Weirwood mask and she is as yet the only Wildling WW whom we have met, do they all wear a mask? if so is it possible that it is an item which can only be worn once a WW has reached a certain level of proficiency. In which case Val's brooch is a symbol of hers? 

@GloubieBoulga

Ah, I see. Sorry for misunderstanding you. That's a very interesting idea. I do think that it is possible. But I'd need a bit of textual evidence to truly get on board. 

@Jon's Queen Consort

I thank you for inspiring this thread with our conversation. I'm sure you have plenty of interesting ideas. I always enjoy your posts. 

@Blue-Eyed Wolf

Ah! How could I forget Ursula Upcliffe.Another consort of a warrior Chief. And Bride of the Merling King no less.                                                 @The Fattest Leach, That's a good one. I hadn't heard of that Edda. I like the catches and think it's very good. Thank you.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thank you all for your kind words. I've been thinking of making this thread since January, and I appreciate all the ideas and contributions. 

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15 minutes ago, The Weirwoods Eyes said:

@The Fattest Leech 

yes, the segments where they discuss GreyScale scream out that she knows what she is on about here, and she tells Jon to ask a Woodswitch, cluing us in that this is who would have the knowledge she then goes on to tell him. I do think that it is likely she is a trainee and doesn't yet give herself the full title. Though when she wears those white clothes and her Weirwood brooch it does feel as though she has donned significant garb in order to make this perilous journey.  And I think it is the brooch which is really significant, Morna has that Weirwood mask and she is as yet the only Wildling WW whom we have met, do they all wear a mask? if so is it possible that it is an item which can only be worn once a WW has reached a certain level of proficiency. In which case Val's brooch is a symbol of hers?

 

 

I agree that I think Val having just a brooch could mean "in training". I do think Morna is the more advanced teacher and that is why she has a full mask. Also, as to Val inheriting Dalla's "queen" clothes, Dalla also wears amber which has healing properties... so I wonder if Val inherited those jewels as well?

Sorry to ramble ^_^ This part of the story is just so intriguing to me. And if you can't tell, I think this is all a build up for something(s) big in the next book.

I did find this woods witch information that I posted elsewhere a little while ago. It seems the term 'woods witch' is a Westeros term, because there seems to be a version of these healing women all over the planet (the parts we know of).

Ok, I won't ramble on too much longer. Just one more thing, I swear! Last summer I also pulled together a bunch of witch/healer clues fromt he books. I wrote about it here in this thread, but I will paste it here under the secret eye to save space. Some points you addressed above, but some may be refound information.

Spoiler

Some book sources to what a witch is in the ASOIAF world and how I think Val fits and could be one of possible two who heals Jon's physical body. If not Val alone, then Morna as #1, with Val assisting. Italics are quotes from different books:

Warrior witch, woods witch, priestess, or moonsinger, or godswife. Most of what we know about the witches in Westeros we learn from Mirri Maz Duur is Essos (as to not be too obvious to the reader. George makes you work for info.)

"My mother was godswife before me, and taught me all the songs and spells most pleasing to the Great Shepherd, and how to make the sacred smokes and ointments from leaf and root and berry. When I was younger and more fair, I went in caravan to Asshai by the Shadow, to learn from their mages. Ships from many lands come to Asshai, so I lingered long to study the healing ways of distant peoples. A moonsinger of the Jogos Nhai gifted me with her birthing songs, a woman of your own riding people taught me the magics of grass and corn and horse, and a maester from the Sunset Lands opened a body for me and showed me all the secrets that hide beneath the skin."

What Mirri learns and tells the reader and could easily apply to Val and her "wandering" ways, even if she is still young enough to still be learning (why she calls for a midwife):

  1. she learns songs and spells, including sacred smoke!
  2. ships come from ALL over
  3. different teachers teach different techniques
  4. a maester even teaches a witch about the inside of the body
  5. She did this while in a caraven.

Where were Dalla and Val found? Mance found them on his way from Winterfell to the wall, so clearly they were out and about doing what exactly?

In general:

  1. They are mentioned as exisiting in some name across 3/4 of Planetos. A warrior witch would be a combination of the witch as described here, but with the extra talent of being equipped to go into battle and/or give battle plan counsel.
  2. Some have the kiss of life.
    1. His wife was a woods witch. Whenever Ser Clarence killed a man, he'd fetch his head back home and his wife would kiss it on the lips and bring it back t' life.
  3. Spells can be cast in the form of songs or potions, and maybe glamours, if that is not strictly a shadowbinder talent.
    1. ."
      "A woods witch? Most are harmless creatures. They know a little herb-craft and some midwifery, but elsewise . . ."
    2. The herbwomen dealt in potions and spells
    3. Dany listens and learns spells not just from MMD, but from others she pays attention to, "Listening to the high ululating voices of the spellsingers,"
      1. Who else ululates???: "Mirri Maz Duur's voice rose to a high, ululating wail that sent a shiver down Dany's back. Some of the Dothraki began to mutter and back away. The tent was aglow with the light of braziers within." And then again here, "Dany stepped backward. The wood crackled, louder and louder. Mirri Maz Duur began to sing in a shrill, ululating voice. The flames whirled and writhed, racing each other up the platform."
  4. They act as healers and midwives or even pregnancy enders before the seed has planted.
    1. "Before," Dany said to the ugly Lhazareen woman, "I heard you speak of birthing songs …"
      "I know every secret of the bloody bed, Silver Lady, nor have I ever lost a babe," Mirri Maz Duur replied.
    2. "You're bastard-born yourself. And if Ygritte does not want a child, she will go to some woods witch and drink a cup o' moon tea. You do not come into it, once the seed is planted."
  5. They can work good and bad depending on the situation, but never seem to work "bad" unless for revenge.
    1.  Here, Val seems to be putting a spell, or charm, on the "the little monster" to protect him. We know that Val does not trust the magic of Melisandre
      "Craster's son?" Val shrugged. "He is no kin to me."
      [Jon] "I have heard you singing to him."
      "I was singing to myself. Am I to blame if he listens?" A faint smile brushed her lips. "It makes him laugh. Oh, very well. He is a sweet little monster."
  6. They are gifted with sight, or visions.
    1. The Ghost of High Heart for one, and too many to list, but ones we know... for instance the Red Wedding.
    2. What Varamyr/Lump's witch told his family inthe Dance prologue: "Your little one is with the gods now," the woods witch told his mother, as she wept. "He'll never hurt again, never hunger, never cry. The gods have taken him down into the earth, into the trees. The gods are all around us, in the rocks and streams, in the birds and beasts. Your Bump has gone to join them. He'll be the world and all that's in it."
  7. Witches have even been warriors and sung about in tales.
    1. Morna Whitemask, now at the wall, is named as a warrior witch, "The warrior witch Morna removed her weirwood mask just long enough to kiss his gloved hand and swear to be his man or his woman, whichever he preferred."
    2. In the songs, Nymeria is said to have been a witch and a warrior;
    3. Cape Wrath a challenge arose, from a woods witch known only as the Green Queen, who held the rainwood against Storm's End for the best part of a generation.
    4. Mern III (the Madling) showered gold and honors on a woods witch who claimed that she could raise armies of the dead to throw the Andals back.
    5. Thus, whilst singers and storytellers may regale us with colorful tales of Artos the Strong, Florian the Fool, Nine-Finger Jack, Sharra the Witch Queen, and the Green King of the Gods Eye,
  8. And the truth of it all is that the more the humans forget the real meaning of life, and that oaths don't mean shit, and the more magic leaves the world, the more dangerous the world becomes. As Val describes it, "The maesters may believe what they wish. Ask a woods witch if you would know the truth."

So even though we have this:

Dany kissed her sun-and-stars gently on the brow, and stood to face Mirri Maz Duur. "Your spells are costly, maegi."
"He lives," said Mirri Maz Duur. "You asked for life. You paid for life."
 
We also get this, and it is from Dany, whi had been dabbling in the spells MMD taught her:
"She told herself that there were powers stronger than hatred, and spells older and truer than any the maegi had learned in Asshai."

 

Ok. My excited rambles are over :lol:

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Something I have told before in a discussion here, it may be of topic but humor me.

In asoiaf Val before leaving for her expedition to find new allies, wearing all white, tells to Jon;

Quote

Look for me on the first day of the full moon.

In LotR Gandalf before leaving for his expedition to find new allies, wearing all white, tells to Aragorn;

Quote

Look to my coming, at first light, on the fifth day. At dawn, look to the East

In LotR Gandalf was a wizard who was sent by the Gods in a special mission and became the advisor and ally of humanity and Aragorn.

In asoiaf the closest character we have to Aragorn is Jon. So could it mean that Val’s role is somehow comparable with Val’s role at Jon’s story?

 

Please tell me that someone sees what I see and I am not the only one.   

 

19 minutes ago, The Weirwoods Eyes said:

I thank you for inspiring this thread with our conversation. I'm sure you have plenty of interesting ideas. I always enjoy your posts. 

That is very kind of you especially since it comes from someone with such great knowledge about the story! Thank you for that

:) 

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These are both great posts! I want to reply properly but alas I have to make dinner for my family; spaghetti & meatballs in case anyone is interested. ;) 

I absolutely do dig the Gandalf parallel JQC. 

And I want to go explore that thread TFL has linked to, your post from it is awesome! I'm gonna go sort dinner, but I'll be back in the morning to have a think and see what else may have come up. 

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Quick final thought for the day before I go be a mum. 

Is a WoodsWitch a WoodsWitch because she lives in the woods? Or is she a WoodsWitch because she is a Witch of the Weirwood? 

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26 minutes ago, The Weirwoods Eyes said:

Quick final thought for the day before I go be a mum. 

Is a WoodsWitch a WoodsWitch because she lives in the woods? Or is she a WoodsWitch because she is a Witch of the Weirwood? 

Bingo.

It's a euphemism for a female greenseer!

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