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40 Thousand Skeletons

The Dark Secret of the Weirwood Trees

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What’s up with these trees, man? They look really weird, they’ve got red leaves and red sap, and they’ve got faces carved into them… should we be paying attention to this? These trees seem highly suspicious...

Let’s review what the TER said in the books about weirwoods and time travel:

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"A man must know how to look before he can hope to see," said Lord Brynden. "Those were shadows of days past that you saw, Bran. You were looking through the eyes of the heart tree in your godswood. Time is different for a tree than for a man. Sun and soil and water, these are the things a weirwood understands, not days and years and centuries. For men, time is a river. We are trapped in its flow, hurtling from past to present, always in the same direction. The lives of trees are different. They root and grow and die in one place, and that river does not move them. The oak is the acorn, the acorn is the oak. And the weirwood… a thousand human years are a moment to a weirwood, and through such gates you and I may gaze into the past."

That’s not a very scientific explanation. Weirwood trees are super old, and because they are old and don’t move, they can go back in time. Alright... What about the other trees? What about the oak trees? Can oak trees time travel? Is it less useful because they can only live about 1000 years? What is so special about the weirwoods? Why don’t all the trees have faces? Why is it just the weirwood trees? And why are there so few weirwoods? Why can’t there be a whole dense forest of weirwoods north of the Wall? And why are they called heart trees? Why do we have this strange one heart tree per village, one heart tree per castle godswood thing going on? Why are the weirwoods literally worshipped as gods by the COTF and First Men? Why do people make blood sacrifices to weirwoods? And most importantly, why does weirwood sap look exactly like blood? Here is Asha’s description of a weirwood from the end of book 5, ADWD:

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Eight days ago Asha had walked out with Aly Mormont to have a closer look at its slitted red eyes and bloody mouth. It is only sap, she'd told herself, the red sap that flows inside these weirwoods. But her eyes were unconvinced; seeing was believing, and what they saw was frozen blood.

The obvious answer that everyone should immediately come up with is: it looks like blood because it is blood. But how is this possible? When you read the books, you can’t really think of a good explanation, so most people just brush it aside and say meh, whatever, looks like blood idk, probably magic. Next chapter please… Victarion?! Dammit… All the Bran chapters happened way earlier in ADWD. But if we go back and re-examine those Bran chapters, we can actually answer all those questions. Let’s start off with what Jojen tells us about the nature of weirwoods:

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"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one. The singers of the forest had no books. No ink, no parchment, no written language. Instead they had the trees, and the weirwoods above all. When they died, they went into the wood, into leaf and limb and root, and the trees remembered. All their songs and spells, their histories and prayers, everything they knew about this world. Maesters will tell you that the weirwoods are sacred to the old gods. The singers believe they are the old gods. When singers die they become part of that godhood."

So Jojen tells us there is a discrepancy between what the maesters say and what the COTF say. The maesters think that the weirwoods are merely sacred to the Old Gods, but the COTF actually believe that the weirwoods are the Old Gods. But why? Well the author actually put the answer right in front of our faces. The TER in the show looks very different from how he is described in the books. By the way, the TER used to be a regular dude. He is the bastard son of King Aegon IV, his name is Brynden Rivers, and he is 125 years old. Here is our introduction to the TER in ADWD:

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Before them a pale lord in ebon finery sat dreaming in a tangled nest of roots, a woven weirwood throne that embraced his withered limbs as a mother does a child.

His body was so skeletal and his clothes so rotted that at first Bran took him for another corpse, a dead man propped up so long that the roots had grown over him, under him, and through him. What skin the corpse lord showed was white, save for a bloody blotch that crept up his neck onto his cheek. His white hair was fine and thin as root hair and long enough to brush against the earthen floor. Roots coiled around his legs like wooden serpents. One burrowed through his breeches into the desiccated flesh of his thigh, to emerge again from his shoulder. A spray of dark red leaves sprouted from his skull, and grey mushrooms spotted his brow. A little skin remained, stretched across his face, tight and hard as white leather, but even that was fraying, and here and there the brown and yellow bone beneath was poking through.

"Are you the three-eyed crow?" Bran heard himself say. A three-eyed crow should have three eyes. He has only one, and that one red. Bran could feel the eye staring at him, shining like a pool of blood in the torchlight. Where his other eye should have been, a thin white root grew from an empty socket, down his cheek, and into his neck.

Then we get a vague explanation from the COTF for this extremely odd situation:

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"Most of him has gone into the tree," explained the singer Meera called Leaf. "He has lived beyond his mortal span, and yet he lingers. For us, for you, for the realms of men. Only a little strength remains in his flesh.”

...

Lord Brynden drew his life from the tree, Leaf told them. He did not eat, he did not drink.

 

So Leaf claims that 125-year-old Brynden Rivers is still alive but draws his life from the tree and does not eat or drink. Interesting. He certainly does look like he is hooked up to the roots of the weirwood tree as some sort of magical life support system. There is a root that goes into his thigh, through the length of his entire torso, and comes out his shoulder, and another that goes into his neck. Those are the locations of some major blood vessels. But hold on, I’m no maester, but if there is some sort of physical life support system hooked up to the major blood vessels of a human body, wouldn’t that mean there is blood being pumped through it? And the life support system in this case is the tree roots of the weirwood. Wouldn’t that like pump blood through the tree and make all the sap and the leaves red- OOOOOOHHHHHH! Hold the fuckin phone, is that why weirwood sap looks like blood? Wait, timeout. That idea doesn’t make sense right off the bat, because it would be predicated on the concept that every weirwood tree has a human being hooked up to its root system supplying it with blood…

Yeah. That’s right. That’s what I’m saying. Every single weirwood tree has a human hooked up to its root system. And when I say human, I mean either a human or one of the children of the forest, who are also human. And it’s obviously not just normal humans hooked up to the weirwood trees, but greenseers. People like Bran and Lord Brynden.

And there is a smoking gun piece of evidence in the books for this theory that they left out of the TV show:

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Bran ate with Summer and his pack, as a wolf. As a raven he flew with the murder, circling the hill at sunset, watching for foes, feeling the icy touch of the air. As Hodor he explored the caves. He found chambers full of bones, shafts that plunged deep into the earth, a place where the skeletons of gigantic bats hung upside down from the ceiling. He even crossed the slender stone bridge that arched over the abyss and discovered more passages and chambers on the far side. One was full of singers, enthroned like Brynden in nests of weirwood roots that wove under and through and around their bodies. Most of them looked dead to him, but as he crossed in front of them their eyes would open and follow the light of his torch, and one of them opened and closed a wrinkled mouth as if he were trying to speak. "Hodor," Bran said to him, and he felt the real Hodor stir down in his pit.

An entire chamber filled with greenseers enthroned like Brynden. OK. So Leaf was being very misleading when she said that the TER is lingering beyond his mortal span quote: “for us, for you, for the realms of men”. That makes it sound like this bullshit with the weirwood roots growing through his body is a one-time, ad-hoc magical spell that they pulled off because they needed to keep Lord Brynden alive to teach Bran. But that’s obviously not the case. We can see that this is standard practice for what to do with greenseers. We are told that only one in a million people are born a greenseer, and Bran found an entire room filled with sleeping greenseers hooked up to weirwood trees. If greenseers are super rare, and Bran found a room filled with sleeping greenseers, that definitely means every single greenseer gets hooked up to a weirwood like the TER. In fact, this whole idea implies that weirwoods cannot exist in the first place without having a greenseer hooked up to its root system. And that would explain why there are so few weirwoods and why they are so sacred. You need a greenseer to create a weirwood tree, and greenseers are super rare. Bran even assumes that the same thing is going to happen to him, and the COTF already put Bran on a weirwood throne of his own in the books:

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The singers made Bran a throne of his own, like the one Lord Brynden sat, white weirwood flecked with red, dead branches woven through living roots.

...

One day I will be like him. The thought filled Bran with dread. Bad enough that he was broken, with his useless legs. Was he doomed to lose the rest too, to spend all of his years with a weirwood growing in him and through him?

Bran is obviously correct about the plan here. He is doomed to end up like Lord Brynden, with a weirwood growing in him and through him. That’s what they do to greenseers. And that explains why every single weirwood tree has a face carved into it but none of the other types of trees do. Here is the explanation from the TER in the books:

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The singers carved eyes into their heart trees to awaken them, and those are the first eyes a new greenseer learns to use… but in time you will see well beyond the trees themselves."

So the faces in the trees basically just act as training wheels for new greenseers. Why would the COTF waste their time carving a face onto a weirwood tree that does not have a greenseer attached to its root system if the whole point of carving the face is to provide training wheels for the greenseer? They wouldn’t. And every weirwood gets a face carved into it. Every weirwood has red leaves and sap that looks like blood. The chamber of sleeping greenseers that Bran found was the underground portion of a circle of weirwood trees. Every weirwood is really a greenseer.

There is one more big piece of evidence here, and that is the COTF themselves. Both the COTF and giants obviously evolved from humans. It is likely that millions of years ago, there were humans living in Westeros when an ice age occured. The humans who survived split into 2 groups. One group lived above ground, on top of the ice, in freezing cold conditions. They evolved to be super hairy for warmth, they are physically huge for protection, and they have a highly developed sense of smell to find root vegetables but terrible eyesight. The other group of humans went below ground, underneath the ice, where it was still warm. They spent thousands of years digging a vast network of caves and tunnels. They evolved to be much smaller so they need fewer calories and can navigate more easily through the tunnels, and they have big cat’s eyes that can see in the dark. And the COTF didn’t just evolve to live underground. They are still living underground, as we can see in the cave with Leaf and the other children. So if the COTF live underground, and they have been living underground for a million years, would it really make sense for them to worship trees that are above ground? Or would it make way more sense if the race of underground people have actually been worshipping the underground portion of the trees, because every weirwood tree has a greenseer hooked up to its root system?

And looking at the story through this lens makes a whole bunch of things fall into place. It explains the faces and the blood sap. It explains why villages and castles tend to have only a single weirwood and why they refer to it as a heart tree. It explains why the COTF say the weirwoods literally are the old gods. And it gives us a better idea of why the weirwoods really have time travel powers. It is because they are actually greenseers and not just trees.

So what does this mean for the story? Well it certainly changes the way we look at the signing of the Pact on the Isle of Faces:

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The wisest of both races prevailed, and the chief heroes and rulers of both sides met upon the isle in the God’s Eye to form the Pact. Giving up all the lands of Westeros save for the deep forests, the children won from the First Men the promise that they would no longer cut down the weirwoods. All the weirwoods of the isle on which the Pact was forged were then carved with faces so that the gods could witness the Pact, and the order of green men was made afterward to tend to the weirwoods and protect the isle.

I think there were no weirwoods on the isle before they signed the pact. Every weirwood is actually a greenseer and gets a face carved into it by default. This means that when they made the pact, they were really transforming a bunch of their greenseers into weirwoods, something they may have been delaying for a while since men were mercilessly cutting down all the weirwoods they could find. In fact, I am going to speculate that both sides, the COTF and the humans, provided leaders to transform into weirwood trees to seal the pact. And that would give a whole new meaning to the name: Isle of Faces. It’s not just a bunch of artistic faces that stupid savage tree worshippers carved for funsies. No, those trees are literally a bunch of people. And this would help explain why the First Men agreed to stop cutting down the weirwoods and why they adopted the religion of the Old Gods. It was because some of their leaders got transformed into weirwood trees, literally turning into gods. There is a permanent group of First Men and COTF greenseers living together forever on the Isle of Faces. And if weirwoods and planted together in a circle, with the root systems physically connected, it probably combines the blood and the consciousness of all the greenseers in the circle, meaning they use their godly powers in unison. The whole reason the Pact worked is because it was a sort of supernatural marriage. There was no wedding or bedding, and nobody had any children, but the greenseers became literally united by blood, and they have a permanent vested interest in protecting all of their descendants, both the First Men and the COTF.

But more importantly, if every weirwood tree is really a greenseer, that means there is a greenseer in WF underground, beneath the heart tree in the godswood. In other words, there is a greenseer in the crypts of WF. Who is this greenseer? Well it is probably the Night Queen.

That's all for now. More later.

:cheers:

old thread explaining how time travel works in other GRRM stories:

 

 

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