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Vaedys Targaryen

Followers of R'hllor and the Others

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Something that I would like to know is why do followers of R'hllor care about the Others in Westeros? The faith in R'hllor is practically nonexistent in Westeros and the Others are seemingly only coming from north of the Wall. The people who believe in R'hllor all live in Essos and why would they care about ice zombies from Westeros?

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Do they though? Or is it only Melissandre? 

The volantene priests seemed more invested in Daenerys if you ask me. 

Edited by Lady Dacey

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24 minutes ago, Vaedys Targaryen said:

Something that I would like to know is why do followers of R'hllor care about the Others in Westeros? The faith in R'hllor is practically nonexistent in Westeros and the Others are seemingly only coming from north of the Wall. The people who believe in R'hllor all live in Essos and why would they care about ice zombies from Westeros?

Because apocalypse? If the ice-zombies take the north they'll continue to take Westeroes and then the rest of the world

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Why does anyone practicing religion care about anyone else?  Because as humans we care for the survival and well being of our species and true believers feel a responsibility to "save" everyone, and for everyone to please God so that God acts favorably toward us.

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1 hour ago, Vaedys Targaryen said:

Something that I would like to know is why do followers of R'hllor care about the Others in Westeros? The faith in R'hllor is practically nonexistent in Westeros and the Others are seemingly only coming from north of the Wall. The people who believe in R'hllor all live in Essos and why would they care about ice zombies from Westeros?

Because the long night is a worldwide phenomenon and I'm pretty sure the north eastern corner of esose connectes to the land of always winter that corner is also where the great empire of the dawn built the five forts to defend against the demons of the lion of night. 

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Even without land connections the Long Night was a world wide phenomenon.  In that Mel's Big Bad is The Great Other, it's clear that even in Essos they are aware of these Others. We can't pull the whole thing apart without language and cultural studies, history and archaeology, but we do have enough visual evidence in Essos of more than 1 cataclysm.  It's not just R'hllorists talking about the Long Night.   There is Hykroon, the woman with the monkey tale and Eldric Shadowchaser among other foreign Last Heroes.  It could have very easily been an ice age where Planetos really was frozen over to the point the Others could cross seas.   R'hllor, Eldric and the other heroes may just all be the same person.

I was reminded just last night of GRRM's own description of the Others and their weapons.   He says the Others are not dead, but inhuman.  (Paraphrase)  Why do we think the Others were relegated to the Lands of Always Winter in the 1st place?  Could be they were as numerous and wide spread as 1st Men or Andals or Giants, even.  

As @Lucius Lovejoyso well stated above, it is the point of religion to gather humanity on the side of God to thwart the forces of evil.   

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2 hours ago, Curled Finger said:

Even without land connections the Long Night was a world wide phenomenon.

The questions I wanted to raise in showing that GRRM denied the existence of the continental connection was: What were the Essoi really defending themselves of when they built the Five Forts? Did the Others found a way to get to Essos? Or there are creatures that only arose in the East during the Long Night?

Edited by Ckram

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My apologies, @Ckram, I was focused on R'hllor. For all it's worth, if the hero has all these names isn't it possible that these demons of the lion of night are the Others?  I'm not very well versed in the ancient history of YiTi, Asshai and Essos in general so please forgive my misunderstanding. 

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2 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

My apologies, @Ckram, I was focused on R'hllor. For all it's worth, if the hero has all these names isn't it possible that these demons of the lion of night are the Others?  I'm not very well versed in the ancient history of YiTi, Asshai and Essos in general so please forgive my misunderstanding. 

There is also the story behind the black stone. If I am not mistaken it was involved in the fall of a great empire in essos...

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12 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

My apologies, @Ckram, I was focused on R'hllor. For all it's worth, if the hero has all these names isn't it possible that these demons of the lion of night are the Others?  I'm not very well versed in the ancient history of YiTi, Asshai and Essos in general so please forgive my misunderstanding. 

It's not just the others there are also the deep ones that are referenced in several places throughout the books. If you have read the Aeron WoW chapter you would know that the Iron born are closely associated with the deep ones. 

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8 minutes ago, Sensenmenn said:

It's not just the others there are also the deep ones that are referenced in several places throughout the books. If you have read the Aeron WoW chapter you would know that the Iron born are closely associated with the deep ones. 

I have, but the Deep Ones haven't been explained or revealed very well in this universe.  What says these Deep Ones aren't more akin to the Philospher's Stone than monsters?   I believe this topic addresses the Others.  My statement only meant that perhaps there are other names across Planetos for "the Others".  I've already admitted the ancient history interests me little.  Deep Ones only appears once in all the text and that is in AWOIAF.   

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It's a pity we don't know whether GRRM was being deliberate or just a victim of the shortcomings of the English language when he named 'the Others' of Westeros and 'the Great Other' of R'hllorism - on one level they look linked, but I think this is probably mistaken. Whenever we use 'others' in English, we mean 'not us', and little more. The Red Priests say they call the god in opposition to R'hllor 'the Great Other' because it is forbidden to say his name - not that the name is unknown. They simply won't say it, same as some pious peoples in real life will not actually speak the name of god, or even use the word 'g_d' on the internet...

So I don't think R'hllorism has a particular thing about the Westerosi Others, beyond them being servants of 'the Great Other', ie agents of the Long Night - darkness, death, and cold - which are the antithesis to R'hllor's light, life and heat. Whether they are the same species as the 'demons of the lion of night' in Essos is at present unknown - they might well be. But there is no proof. And as a typical dualistic religion, R'hllorism goes a bit heavy on the whole 'if you aren't with us, you're against us' meme. All gods which aren't R'hllor get painted as 'agents of the Great Other', they don't seem to have much syncretism in their teachings - in an interestng contrast to the Faceless Men who seem to scour the world's religions to find parallel gods they can lump together as their 'Many Faced God'.

6 hours ago, Curled Finger said:

it is the point of religion to gather humanity on the side of God to thwart the forces of evil.   

Paint me as cynical; I confess it, I am. The point of religion is to provide an unanswerable 'trump card' to beat down all heterodox thought which threatens to undermine tribal identity and cohesion. Every now and again some visionary troublemaker comes along and infects it with the desire to thwart the true forces of evil (as opposed to tribal enemies) but this notably involves an overturning of the religious orthodoxy of the day. But eventually, the true purpose of religion (moral hegemony of the tribal elites) re-establishes itself and slowly forces out such spiritual concerns, until the next iconoclast emerges. Rinse, repeat, ad infinitum.

In this vein we can see the Faith of the Seven as a tribal hegemony in Westeros, paying only lip-service to spiritual concerns, and the High Sparrow comes along as a 'visionary troublemaker' kicking over the (metaphorical) money-lenders' tables in the Great Sept. The Ironborn are firmly locked into their tribal hegemonic morality, whilst the North very wisely appears to divorce their religion from both morality and spirituality. The Red Priests also appear to be visionary troublemakers, but we have no evidence for how long the religion has existed (unless I've forgotten something, which I probably have, this being Westeros and all....) and the big question there is whether they represent a true channel of the divine or a brand of Simonism?

All of which brings me back to R'hllorism probably being in the business of bringing humanity together to defeat the true forces of evil - darkness, death and cold. I think their motives are pure, but whether their vision is clear is a different matter. Unfortunately their 'with us or against us' meme is as likely to harvest opponents as converts, as is common with missionary religions (or missionary movements within religions) here on our own planet.

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19 hours ago, Lucius Lovejoy said:

Why does anyone practicing religion care about anyone else?  Because as humans we care for the survival and well being of our species and true believers feel a responsibility to "save" everyone, and for everyone to please God so that God acts favorably toward us.

This. If Mel, for example, doesn't serve the Humanity and the Light, than she would serve the Dead and the Darkness.

Her whole investment would sink, if she is careless.

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17 minutes ago, Rufus Snow said:

It's a pity we don't know whether GRRM was being deliberate or just a victim of the shortcomings of the English language when he named 'the Others' of Westeros and 'the Great Other' of R'hllorism - on one level they look linked, but I think this is probably mistaken. Whenever we use 'others' in English, we mean 'not us', and little more. The Red Priests say they call the god in opposition to R'hllor 'the Great Other' because it is forbidden to say his name - not that the name is unknown. They simply won't say it, same as some pious peoples in real life will not actually speak the name of god, or even use the word 'g_d' on the internet...

So I don't think R'hllorism has a particular thing about the Westerosi Others, beyond them being servants of 'the Great Other', ie agents of the Long Night - darkness, death, and cold - which are the antithesis to R'hllor's light, life and heat. Whether they are the same species as the 'demons of the lion of night' in Essos is at present unknown - they might well be. But there is no proof. And as a typical dualistic religion, R'hllorism goes a bit heavy on the whole 'if you aren't with us, you're against us' meme. All gods which aren't R'hllor get painted as 'agents of the Great Other', they don't seem to have much syncretism in their teachings - in an interestng contrast to the Faceless Men who seem to scour the world's religions to find parallel gods they can lump together as their 'Many Faced God'.

Paint me as cynical; I confess it, I am. The point of religion is to provide an unanswerable 'trump card' to beat down all heterodox thought which threatens to undermine tribal identity and cohesion. Every now and again some visionary troublemaker comes along and infects it with the desire to thwart the true forces of evil (as opposed to tribal enemies) but this notably involves an overturning of the religious orthodoxy of the day. But eventually, the true purpose of religion (moral hegemony of the tribal elites) re-establishes itself and slowly forces out such spiritual concerns, until the next iconoclast emerges. Rinse, repeat, ad infinitum.

In this vein we can see the Faith of the Seven as a tribal hegemony in Westeros, paying only lip-service to spiritual concerns, and the High Sparrow comes along as a 'visionary troublemaker' kicking over the (metaphorical) money-lenders' tables in the Great Sept. The Ironborn are firmly locked into their tribal hegemonic morality, whilst the North very wisely appears to divorce their religion from both morality and spirituality. The Red Priests also appear to be visionary troublemakers, but we have no evidence for how long the religion has existed (unless I've forgotten something, which I probably have, this being Westeros and all....) and the big question there is whether they represent a true channel of the divine or a brand of Simonism?

All of which brings me back to R'hllorism probably being in the business of bringing humanity together to defeat the true forces of evil - darkness, death and cold. I think their motives are pure, but whether their vision is clear is a different matter. Unfortunately their 'with us or against us' meme is as likely to harvest opponents as converts, as is common with missionary religions (or missionary movements within religions) here on our own planet.

Ah Rufus, it's always fascinating to see a topic through your eyes.  I understand where you are coming from in cynicism.  You have every right to your own beliefs and I appreciate your delicate wording.   Still, religion is a moot discussion between folks who simply don't agree.  

I'm not even sure we are getting "real" R'hllor from Mel.   She definitely appears to be a rogue.  Burning people and thinking it cleansing is not great PR and leaves a bad taste in my mouth for her interpretation of R'hllor.   I wish I was open minded enough to some great uniting of people in this, but I just don't.   All I can do is hope that the fire worshippers are not as extreme as our Melisandre.  I'm laughing inside thinking she can't even interpret her own visions, why would I think she has a grasp on her own diety?   

As usual a very balanced approach to the subject at hand, Ser.  Always appreciate your insights. 

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18 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

I'm not even sure we are getting "real" R'hllor from Mel.   She definitely appears to be a rogue.  Burning people and thinking it cleansing is not great PR and leaves a bad taste in my mouth for her interpretation of R'hllor.

Ah, yes, that 'real' interpretation of the religion - very good question, Ser Finger ;)

Compare Mel to Thoros (just to keep to characters within Westeros for now), don't they have totally different attitudes, though both seem to be well enough in the Light of the Lord to be able to give the final kiss? But then compare Saint Francis with, oh, I don't know, Jerry Falwell, say, or Hasan i Sabah with Jalalludin Rumi. Who's to say R'hllorism is any less prone to sectarianism and schismatism than Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, even Judaism, in our own world? And clearly some sects are more militant than others....

But you also raise the point on the sacrifices - yes, bad PR, but the POWER!!!! (Insert sinister laughter). That was partly what I had in mind in questioning whether it was Simonism rather than a 'genuine' divine intervention. How much does Mel's use of bloodmagic fall within the orthodoxy of R'hllorism? Is there just a cultural overlay over the religion between Myr and Asshai, same as there is a cultural overlay distinguishing African evangelical churches from European ones? Clearly there is some force at play in that we see both characters successfully perform the kiss, and in that, of all the religions we see at play, the Red God seems the most capable of acting in the world (though a good case can be made for the Old Gods of the North keeping to their own lesser claims).

It would be easy to say that Mel was 'just' a bloodmage in red robes, whereas Thoros is a pure soul acting as an innocent channel for the Lord of Light - but he totally lacks fervour, and doesn't really bother much about the doctrine or teachings of his faith. Is R'hllor really equally willing to work his wonders through these two totally different vessels? Their only other real common point is their opposition to 'the Great Other', so is this the defining feature of the faith? It is, after all, the only war that counts.

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I just wanna say I'll be so very very very disappointed if we ever get an "explanation" about how magic works in Planetos and how it's connected to or manipulated by each religion. See, I gather most of the people on this forum are living in the 21th century in a western country and have a very skeptical and downright positivist view of the possibility of "magic" (as in: it does not exist, right?). Even religious people tend to read things that's don't fit nicely with our preconceptions of how the world works as "oh, that's just a metaphor, Jesus never actually turned water to wine!". 
Now the thing is, while we live in a very much secular society, many people believe in a force of spirituality. Many people actually do believe in miracles, such as people who are cured from deadly diseases and or maybe when there's an accident like a terrible car crash but someone emerges unhurt? Some will say it's a coincidence, some will have scientifc explanations, some will say it was a miracle. Some will agree with all of the above. And the most important thing is: no one can prove the other wrong. In our world there are several religions and many manifestations of phenomena science can't quite explain (yet?). I absolutely love this quote:
 

Quote

Osha studied him. "You asked them and they're answering. Open your ears, listen, you'll hear."

Bran listened. "It's only the wind," he said after a moment, uncertain. "The leaves are rustling."

"Who do you think sends the wind, if not the gods?"

The winds are a fact. The interpretation of their existence though... I know we're not dealing with dragons or Others on our daily lives, but that does't mean we can't discuss endelessly about God and deities and the power of prayer or the power of meditation and whatnot. Some people believe threy can contact people long dead and other experience incorporation of spirits and deities and others actualy claim have dreams with premonitions. The horoscope, a sixth sense, tarot, mediunic powers... We could discuss endelessly about it and never get to the bottom of it. Because if such as a force (or many) is out there, it's not human, and we're only human, we can't grasp it - not complety. 

Martin has gone through so much to make an epic fantasy novel that actually feels very real... It would be anticlimatic (for me) if I ever learned about the "source of power" that makes the religion/magic wheel turn in Planetos. It makes every sense to see some glimpses of such forces working (as I personally believe we actually do in the real world), and specially to see how the human reactions to displays of power (real or not, derived from god or from tricks, good or evil) develop and what those reactions can engender...  

 

Edited by Lady Dacey

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7 hours ago, Lady Dacey said:

And the most important thing is: no one can prove the other wrong.

Yes, well said, Lady D

At least with Westeros we get extra-textual pointers to some areas where we do need to suspend disbelief. If the author says magic is real in this world, then it is real. We don't have such luxuries in real life, but we do still have a history of people being nailed to crosses or burnt alive at the stake over things which can't be proved one way or the other.

Part of what I enjoy about GRRM's various religions is that they allow us to look at some of the ways in which they act in the world without getting bogged down in our own sectarian affiliations. To paraphrase Langston Hughes, sometimes we have to show things as they never were to see them as they really are.

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3 hours ago, Rufus Snow said:

Yes, well said, Lady D

At least with Westeros we get extra-textual pointers to some areas where we do need to suspend disbelief. If the author says magic is real in this world, then it is real. We don't have such luxuries in real life, but we do still have a history of people being nailed to crosses or burnt alive at the stake over things which can't be proved one way or the other.

Part of what I enjoy about GRRM's various religions is that they allow us to look at some of the ways in which they act in the world without getting bogged down in our own sectarian affiliations. To paraphrase Langston Hughes, sometimes we have to show things as they never were to see them as they really are.

Indeed! But at the same time that we have 'word of god' that magic is real, don't you think there are characters who will finish the novels still not believing it, finding other explanations to events o that take place? And most of all, don't you think different religious affiliations will offer different explanations to the same magical event? That's the beauty of it, I think... 

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I'm truly flabbergasted when I see some readers simply state "well we know that R'hollor is real". Do we? Can we know? 

Just because the priests can make magical things happen, does it mean that R'hollor himself is the real deal? Or is it R'hollorism just an organized religion revolving around the hability of a few people to perform magic and a developed theological explanation of reality? We can't say for certain and we never will be able to. Where doesn't magic hail from? Is it possible to come to a conclusion? I don't think so, not even in Planetos. 

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